berlin is a city filled with ghosts. it’s filled with the memory of a soul divided under its vibrance and inspiration, under its guilt and angst. but above all, it’s a city built upon a haunted psyche trying to move forward and build a new sense of self.

of course i would come here. i needed its help, a spiritual sister who’s suffered trauma under its resilient, stoic facade.

i had my breakthrough yesterday.

i understand now.

i am not the ghost.

the ghost.

his name is eli.

i trusted him but that had no value to him. he promised to make sure that no one could ever come near me because i belonged to him.

i’ve fought his grip for 7 years, becoming so powerful and expansive that he and those like him would never be able to have any power or over me. yet, he has managed to succeed in his original intention.

a person intent on evil can fulfill his intentions by haunting you in the darkest refuges of night, waiting in the shadows until the moment you feel you are safe, the moment you feel you are anonymous, the moment you feel you are whole again.

and then out of nowhere, he appears with his sword and the devil’s smile and you realize, he will always find you. because he’s inside you.

the man is dead to me.

but now, how to kill a ghost.

I was having disruptive dreams last night. It seemed like no matter where I went in the dreamworld, I would keep running into faces from the past. These were people I’d known and had both good and bad connections with, and even if I woke up and switched to another dream, there would be someone there waiting for me, ready to turn whatever corner I decided to walk up to find us face to face. I saw Reggie with his hair cut short again. I saw Andrew and his brother, two halves of a whole. I saw old coworkers and family members. At the Desperate Housewives’ supermarket. In houses in distant lands I was touring in hopes of buying. Every dream I kept running into someone. I woke up. Pondered how it is that there are people in my life that I may never see again, yet somehow, in the deep recesses of my mind, they go on living as these perfectly captured moments that I almost believe are real. No wonder I still like mankind.

I just decided to kill sleep all together and wake up. Saw that here, it’s 2:55am. Almost 3am. Why not.

Starting thinking.

Now playing: Plaid – Spokes

Yesterday was cool, but creepy. I went to this little town along the Rhine suggested by this guidebook. It said it’s a tourist-oriented town, but when I got there, there wasn’t even a platform to get off on. It was a stretch of grass. I had no idea which way to go to find my hotel, so I just followed the main drag. Every store was closed, including a theater that displayed some kind of comical puppet diorama with an old lady talking to a guy in a military suit and it looked suspiciously mocking of WWII. I finally saw two elderly tourists up ahead so I was relieved that there were people in this town. It was starting to feel like the town had battened down the hatches and was awaiting the annual horde of vamperewolves to descend upon the town for their feeding. I started channeling I Am Legend.

Found the place I would be staying. turned out to be a b&b, across from the oldest building in the city, a crooked Smurf-like affair. I had to ring six times to get someone to answer. This tall man in his 40’s looked mildly irritated and utterly befuddled that I was there. I showed him my reservation and he asked me if I wanted a single or double. I didn’t want to answer so I showed him the reservation which just said 1 room (later, I think I didn’t want him to know I was alone). So he led me up these stairs onto the top floor, into this corner room that was a double but told me, there’s only one key. Even if he didn’t believe there was another person, I just felt it was better than admitting I was alone. He disappeared down the hall. The room was cozy with a tiny bathroom a dominating yellow motif. The wallpaper, the pillow, the bedspread…all yellow. Yup…everything yellow. And the memory of Tina in the back of my head whispering, “Yellow is a hostile color….” Had to repeat to myself, this is not Psycho. this is not Psycho followed by This is not The Shining, this is not The Shining.

I put down my stuff quickly and left to explore the town. Opened my room door to a hall that was completely dark. The place echoed with stillness. It felt like sneaking out of someone’s attic.

I walked around the city trying to follow the guidebook’s self-guided tour suggestion, but it was boring. So I just walked around, up and down stairs, paths and back alleys, exploring. I found this steep trail that led towards a couple of landmarks and a view overlooking the city & the Rhine. I encountered maybe 12 people the whole afternoon. I grabbed a donar sandwich at the only place in town that was open, along with a beer/cola mix that I got just to try. It just tasted like soda with a bitter edge. Headed back to my room and was asleep before sundown, preparing to defend my room and wait out the night. The first sounds that woke me were construction sounds. People sawing and hauling heavy tools. I checked the clock. It was 11pm. At around midnight, the whistle announcing a crossing train blew, but as the train rumbled by, there was a shriek of tires and a large crash and the sounds of shattering glass. I got up and looked out my window, but the way the room is set up, there’s a fake balcony with two chairs and a planter outside that you couldn’t get to. They’d sealed the doorway with a vertically-tilting window. I heard voices arguing so I figured it was a minor car crash, not a train having struck something.

But a part of me was creeped out by the fact I couldn’t see anyone, but could hear echoes of people milling about down below. What if this were a ghost story, and all those voices are ghosts who go about their daily lives at night.

I decided just to stay up for the night, reading and watching DVDs. As I prepared for a shower, I noticed there was a dead spider on one of the towels. Luckily, it wasn’t touching the one on the top so I just took that one and put the others in the corner. I was stoic. I have no emotional room to deal with my arachnaphobia right now.

I’d looked up the train schedule so I wanted to take the first train back to Frankfurt instead of the one I had for the afternoon. May as well get to Amsterdam sooner. I had packed up by 6am for the 7:30 train, then sat watching a DVD with my shoes on until it was time to go. I knocked on the office door but no one answered. I tried knocking again, then a third time. I ended up just leaving the key in the mailbox.

There were a few other people at the station, looking to be on their way to work or school. I was relieved to be leaving. This town had a really creepy energy. I didn’t relax until I was on the train and we were moving, and not completely until I was firmly standing in the Frankfurt station.

Changed my ticket and got on my train to Amsterdam with no problems.

I finished The Memory Keeper’s Daughter during the long stretches when the landscape was obscured by graffiti’d walls. I was drawn into the parts of the book that dealt with how secrets grow trees of loneliness within people. She was richly melodic with her words at times.

Could feel the city before I saw it, tension–a beautiful city with a dark undercurrent. I was amazed at the architecture. I realized I knew nothing of what Amsterdam would look like. As usual, I didn’t want to ask for directions and just wandered until I found my hotel. These streets are insane. I probably went up and down the same street 4 times, but I did find it.

My room is a porn palace. There is the most beautiful piece of phtography that serves as my headboard, and I can change the lighting behind it into about 9 different shades. I could live in this room. I mean, I honestly want to make it my second home. My dragon could live here.

I walked around for a bit and accidentally walked into the same shop twice. The guy working there was cute and we’d smiled at each other the first time I walked out and the second time, he walked around with me, chatting. Very nice guy, we talked about the weather and some politics. I told him I wanted him to know we were embarrassed of our government right now but we’re trying to make things right. He asked me if I thought the democrats could pull it out.
We’re trying, i said. we have to stop fighting each other, but we’re trying.

He looked like he wanted to say something else, like it felt like there was more to say. but i didn’t chance the moment so i said bye, smiled and walked out. i heard him yell out the door, “Bye! It was nice meeting you!” And I almost turned around, but the point of the story is, I didn’t.

Talked with a guy with piercing eyes who told me, creativity comes from inside you. You can access it any time you want. I started laughing. You’re a wise man, I said.

It started pouring. I don’t mind walking around in the cold rain without an umbrella. I actually really like it. But I’ve got a long trip ahead of me and need me on point so I went back to the hotel.

Had a litt
le photoshoot with my headboard. Got to thinking, got to writing, then fell asleep. And that’s when those dreams happened.

Which brings me to today. My today is your tomorrow.

I get it.

The universe brought me here because I’m taking a final exam right now.

Holy shit.

I ended up going out last night. Went to some bar next to the hotel and sat in the corner and people watched. It looks like pegged jeans is in in Germany. One of my ex-coworkers who has family in Germany told me they were about 10 years behind in fashion. So they’re in the 90’s, I’d asked. Better than the 80’s, I guess. The 80’s were tragic. But I don’t know how I feel about the pegged jeans look.

It was boring so I went to the other side of my hotel where there was live music. I had to pay a cover of 12 Euros but was told it was good for 15 clubs, and there was a shuttle running between the clubs. I thought, this could be bad. This could be very bad. The club featured a spunky 3-man band playing covers. The only ones I recognized were “Losing My Religion” by REM and “Boys Don’t Cry” by The Cure. Met a nice guy named Alex who didn’t know a lot of English so he mostly just stared at me and smiled. I took off after about 6 songs and headed to a dance club called Walden. Unless it means something in German, Walden makes me think of solitude, contemplation and Thoreau. This club had a great DJ. Right away he had a house mix going with Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall. I had a Hefeweizen that tasted like sushi, but it got me really, really drunk, especially since I’d eaten so much midday that I’d skipped dinner. As everything blurred, the only thing that kept me steady was the beat.

I was dancing and then at some point, staring at this guy’s ass while his oblivious girlfriend texted away on her cellphone. Wondered what the Germans think about casual sex. I was enjoying dancing by myself but then this one Asian girl kept staring at me and dancing closer and closer to me. She said something to this tall, goofy white guy she was with and he turned and looked at me, then said something to her. She promptly got RIGHT UP in front of me and started showing off with these crazy hair tossing moves, followed by looking back at me intensely. As with these types of situations, I wasn’t sure if she wanted to fight me or fuck me, though I heavily suspected the latter, so I left the dance floor and hung out at the bar with a Beck’s Green Lemon beer which kind of tasted like weed. Maybe jetlag’s got my taste buds all messed up. But I do swear many people in that place did smell like weed.

There was a kid who looked like the flying kid on Heroes. He looked about 18 and he kept doing status checks on me (this is when a guy doesn’t have the guts to talk to you, so while he’s working up the guts, he’ll keep looking over to make sure he knows where you are). I thought about how I blew the whole “sex with an 18 year old” thing in Hawaii last year and thought, this kid’s even more tender than that one (that one I thought was a 25 year old sports model). I would totally corrupt him. But then this obnoxious nerdy guy who was sitting next to me kept getting more and more aggressive (he resorted to staring and bumping me), and it was becoming harder to avoid eye contact and act like I didn’t notice he was repeatedly sticking his elbow into my side, so I figured I’d call it a night before I did anything I regretted. The kid’s friend saw me putting on my coat and got his attention. He looked at me kind of panicked, but I winked and waved, then made my way out the door.

Kept waking up in the middle of the night with the room spinning.

Got up in time for the complimentary breakfast. There was only one other person there, this middle-aged Filipino looking guy who had said hi to me in the lobby the other day and seemed too attentive. He was really excited to see me and asked me if he had seen me at the bar the other night. I said, I don’t know, and then sat at another table and pulled out a book because I didn’t want him to invite me to sit with him. He was clearly done with his breakfast, but he lingered, and lingered. When I went to get up for water, he asked me what room number I was in. I was surprised and couldn’t recover to lie, so I told him. I figured I was checking out within the hour anyway, so it wouldn’t matter. I waited until he got up for more coffee, then I slipped out. It looked like he was waiting for me and I didn’t want to ride the elevator with him. I was in my room for 5 minutes packing when the phone rang. I thought it was my wake up call but it was him. “It’s your friend from downstairs,” he opened.

Oh Christ, I thought.

“How long are you staying here?” he asked.

“I’m leaving today,” I said.

“Where are you going?” I truly worried he was the type who would follow me across this country.

“Home to the US,” I said.

“Really? That short? I thought you said you just got to Frankfurt yesterday,” he said.

Jesus. “I was in Berlin the last few days for business,” I said, remembering that Frankfurt is a hub and many people still have to fly out of this city.

“Oh, okay. Well, bye.” he said.

I hung up without saying bye, and got out of the hotel quickly.

I made it to the train station an hour before my departure to Bacharach but was really confused about where I was supposed to be. With 10 minutes to spare, I realized I was actually supposed to be on another level. Again, a woman was nice enough to help me. People here are really great.

Arrived at Bacharach, reminded me of the movie Hostel. Tiny town with a castle turned hostel at the top of the hill. Unfortunately, it was raining so my plans to bike along the Rhine were foiled. I still hiked up the hill to the castle which was a challenging climb, but offered a beautiful view of the river and the city. There was this empty shell of a chapel, Werner Kapelle, which was this circular structure with no windows except this single panel of red stained glass. The information plaque said there was a rumor that this was a location of ritualistic killings of Jews here which are false, but the structure remains as a reminder that religions can co-exist (I’m paraphrasing but that’s about the gist of it). Looking up at this structure, you could feel the gravity of guilt here–whatever actually happened at this remote location, it serves as a reminder for the Germans of dark period of their history.

Nothing was open so I just wandered around and then headed back to my hotel. I’m going to leave earlier than I’d originally planned for Amsterdam tomorrow since there I’ve explored most of this town already.

Amsterdam will hopefully be interesting.

And so begins…

Remember what I said about packing well?

I take that back.

I left:

-my entire toiletry bag.

I realized all of these things collectively as I was about to go through the security check at LAX. Felt so much like an idiot, I froze, so the woman behind me went ahead of me. I was at the airport 2 hours before my flight so I probably could have ran home and gotten everything, but I didn’t want to chance compounding one mistake with a bigger one (missing my flight). Rie happened to call so I told her. I was feeling pretty miserable, but then I realized that if I dwell on it, I’ll create other mistakes so I took some time to meditate on it about how it’s okay, I can buy everything at Duty Free or when I get to Germany and imagined the rest of my trip going without a hitch. Rie had a good point though. This isn’t the first time I’ve forgotten specifically these items and I have multiples of everything at home. I should create a separate kit for travel so I can just pack everything the night before. The reason I forget some of these things is because they’re the last items I put into my suitcase.

Flew into SF and then on to Frankfurt. Watched Juno and most of Martian Child on the plane. Liked both movies a lot since they dealt with some themes that I’m thinking about right now–are there really connections that can last a lifetime (Juno), and sometimes I feel like I’m from another planet (MC). Slept for most of the flight and read a little from The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.

Arrived at Frankfurt. There was an extra bounce in my step. Cruised every cute guy walking by. The boys are cute here! Got through customs without a hitch and then I was free. Had to catch a train to the Frankfurt Main station and with the help of a very friendly stewardess, made it there without incident. Frankfurt Main is insane. It’s the train hub for Germany, but the craziest thing to me was this group of about 100 teenage boys, all wearing black, on the way to some sort of outing. They were clustered around these stores that sold beer, and were all holding 40-sized beers while carrying beer in plastic bags with cases at their feet. Keep in mind, it was 10:30 in the morning, but they were well on their way towards inebriation. I’ve never seen so much beer at 10:30 in the morning. I wish I had taken a picture.

I walked the 2 km to my hotel which is across from the center of the city. The place is very SF, and I was staying in the main tourist/shopping district. I passed the red light district (not impressive in the day time), about 4 Chinese restaurants, and about 7 athletic wear stores. I checked in then headed out. Headed to old town Frankfurt and saw city hall, some cathedrals, and a street lined with houses that were redesigned by famous architects from around the world post-WWII as a challenge to see what they could do with similar-sized structures. My favorite was this “upside down” house (pics to come. I forgot my card reader).

Headed across the river and encountered a huge flea market. Was disappointed to find that other people’s junk in Europe looks just like other people’s junk back home. Wanted a Neil Diamond record for shits & giggles but had the good sense not to buy it. I did buy this sausage. It was about 12 inches + and they serve it in this “bun” that was more like a dinner roll no longer than 4 inches. It felt kind of obscene being a single girl walking around eating a massive porn sausage. I couldn’t handle it (too much salty meat and grease) so I got a donar dolum, which is like a shawarma wrap but Turkish and with chicken. That was really good. Cost 4 euros, which is about $6. Damn you Bush. Look what you did to our money. Walked around (there are multiple bakeries and kaffe shops on each block, and the biggest pretzels you’ve ever seen), then stopped by a pub called Adolf Wagner for an Apfelwein (apple wine). It’s basically apple cider with the alcohol content similar to beer. It tastes like cider but with a weird watery aftertaste, like someone peed in your cider. But after a while, you don’t notice.

Took the train home (another German girl was very nice to help me because I was staring at the map blankly for a very long time), then fell asleep dreaming of going to a store and buying all the toiletries I needed. Woke up to realize I actually had to do it. Went out again just as it was getting dark. Everyone is so polite during the day, but flirtier/friendlier as dark falls. Seriously, the guys are cute out here. Oh my goodness. Not aggressive and predatory like Italians or leery like the French, but just open and friendly. You smile at them, and it opens them up and they give you the warmest smiles back. And they love their house/techno.

There are homeless people here, including schizophrenics. It’s very 3rd Street Promenade in a way, except when they’re talking to these people only they can see, they’re doing it in German. I usually like listening to these types of people and wondering what they’re talking about and who it is they’re seeing, but my 6 words/phrases of German did not help me translate.

Saw a cute little kid wearing an eyepatch. I started laughing. I’ve got this friend who plays basketball and will lose his contact sometimes. He’ll put it back in and keep playing, but inside, I kind of freak out because I’m afraid he’ll go blind since the floor is so dirty. I threw out most of my contact stuff since I got Lasik, but I looked around my house anyway to see if I had solution I could keep on hand but all I could find was overnight cleaner. If he doesn’t start bringing solution to the gym, he’s gonna get married in an eyepatch like a pirate!

Listened to some Peruvian street musicians playing, what are they called…wind flutes? My dad loves this type of music so I took a picture. I like the music too. I’m really drawn to any music that heavily uses minor keys. I like the emotions that those keys touch in me, my inner moody introvert.I’m still contemplating if I want to go out tonight. I’ve gotta get up early to take the train to Bacharach, which is off the Rhine. From what I read in the guidebook, it’s a cute little town where you can rent a bike to ride along the river and visit medieval castles.

It hasn’t been the most exciting day so far, but it’s been pleasant, a day of adjustment. I haven’t really talked to anyone though, outside of the handsome gentleman at the front desk of my hotel who looks like a young Elliott Gould. He tried to tell me I look like this famous woman, very pretty, but he couldn’t think of the name. Is she Asian, I asked. There are only a handful of famous Asian female celebrities. No, he said. I was surprised. I wonder who he’s thinking of.

hahahahahaha….he just came up with it. He says I look like J-Lo. I started cracking up. She’s got a big butt, I said, she’s got a nicer body. You have a nice body, too, he says. haha….he’s so proud of himself so I say thank you, but I don’t really think I look like J-Lo.

More later.

Guten Tag aus Deutschland!

I can’t believe I’m in Germany. This is so surreal because my mindset is exploration mode, but I’m in another country. I’m usually only in other countries with my mom and my brother (ah Michael…it’s already hard being so far away from him. It seems so wrong that I’m in the land of Mercedes and BMW’s without him. But I’ve been taking pictures of cars for him, and promised him I would visit the BMW factory).

So for those who are catching up, this is how it started. I quit my job on Friday, Feb 29th. That night, I was supposed to meet up with Sareet and the gang for DJ Ass & Titties at a club in Silver Lake. I was tired from the emotional strain of leaving my job and having to say goodbye to a family I’ve watched grow for almost 5 years. Plus, I’d already had quite a bit of happy hour tequila with the coworkers, and then gone home and had a good, cathartic cry. So I clean up and head out and am already all the way to Hollywood when I realize, I don’t want to spend all night at an 18 and older club in Silverlake, only having to drive all the way back at 2am. So I turn around. I’m halfway home when I decide I do need to do something to commemorate the day, because it’s the first day of the rest of my life. I figure, I never go to that Venice area, so I headed over.

As I park my car, I see across the street that Circle Bar has a line of about 40 men with no women (they were letting the women go straight in). I thought it would be funny to get in line. So as I’m in line, I meet a short dude who seemed really threatened by me a la Mike from back in the day, and showing immense growth over the last 4 years, I didn’t let him get in my head. I ended up talking to a couple of friendly Germans, and I asked them why they would wait an hour in a line to get into a bar that seemed to be all men. They said that this is where their hotel recommended. So I ended up waiting it out (I had nowhere else to be) because I really was curious if it was all dudes in there. I ended up talking to one of the guys in the bar and then driving him around LA showing him the sights at night while listening to my night mix on my iPod. He was a great guy. Had a lot of soul, had a lot of spirituality, and we were able to communicate on that level despite a language barrier. He said, you can do anything you want right now, be anywhere you want. You’re completely free and you should take advantage of this. He was really excited for me. You should go to Germany next week, he said. Okay, I said.

The thing is, I’ve got ties to Germany and I never understood why. I’ve never told anyone this, but my earliest conscious memories of dreaming involved dreaming of a fantastical factory that created identical blond hair, blue-eyed men (I don’t think it was an ego desire, because from childhood to now, I’ve always been drawn to dark-haired men and not aesthetically interested in blondes). But these dreams were recurring. Of course, when I got older, I realized why I should never, ever, ever tell anyone about these dreams. Once I learned about Nazism and their love of blond-haired, blue-eyed children, I found these childhood recurring dreams a little scary. I also loved photography from Germany, the landscapes and quaint villages, and was obsessed with WWII and what happened to the collective psychology of the German people. I took a German cinema class one summer at Berkeley, and learned the word, Heimat. There’s no English translation for this word, but it means something akin to motherland, the place where you come from. I fell in love with this word.

Was I a German in a past life? I was regressed once and I saw I lived in a cobblestone village. My father was blacksmith but I was an intellectual/academic type, though I was disappointed with my work as I expressed myself conservatively and never wanted to differ from what was academically accepted. I died on that cobblestone street, I just got dizzy and blacked out and that was the end, but my last emotion was one of bitterness at my own weakness. I thought this all took place in Austria but when I prepared for this trip, I learned that Bavaria is smilar to areas in Austria. Perhaps some lingering, overwhelming guilt would explain why I so obsessively strive to do good and put the good of others before my own. The guilt of the German people post-WWII is something I really want to feel and understand here. Perhaps it’s secretly because it is so close to my inexplicable guilt that I hope this trip will be cathartic.

I definitely feel good here so far. People here, like me, are polite and friendly.

I’ll update as I go, internet access allowing.