A Travellerspoint blog

From 'Burgh to 'Burgh to 'Burg

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PITTSBURGH
i haven't blogged here this summer, because i've been helping to blog here: http://farmsandfables.blogspot.com/ -- try it. you might like it. it chronicles the Of Farms and Fables work exchange with Broadturn Farm, W. H. Jordan Farm, and Benson's Farm in Southern Maine. the work exchange will provide the basis for a play i'll be writing over the coming months, to be performed next season, about farming in Maine.

on August 20, we had our wrap-up party.

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the Of Farms and Fables artistic team: Keith, Jennie, me, Claire

in standard form, i had no time for a relaxed transition or even a satisfactory "so long". i think it comforted us all that it was Aufwiedersehen and not goodbye. i left straight from the party, stopped in Boston to pick up James and Yarsky, and after a night of coffee, highwayside bathroom hunts, figuring out creative ways to play music in Mindy's amazing but radio-less car, coffee, sleep-dep giggles, and COFFEE, i pulled up to my old Murray Avenue apartment in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill around 10:30 the next morning.

two good days ensued. i saw my family. i saw most of my friends who are still around. Parag made delicious food. i felt less sad than i thought i would. an 8-hour megabus ride took me, Charlie, and Parag to NYC, where we spent my last stateside evening with Patrick and Christina, doing "American" things (eating burgers, enjoying a view of the Brooklyn Bridge, eating a second dinner of New York-style pizza), and then...well, that was pretty much it. Parag and Charlie took me to JFK and something like 13 hours later, i was in Berlin. got a German cell phone, had coffee with a friend-of-a-friend, spent the night at the apartment of another friend-of-a-friend (with whom i was proud to have a somewhat extended chat auf Deutsch over pastries), and in the wee hours of the morning embarked on train/bus/plane travel that brought me to:

EDINBURGH
that's right, folks. the reason i didn't have time for a relaxed transition? i'd decided i couldn't pass up the chance to go to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year. i've wanted to go to the Fringe for years; it was the festival's last weekend; my friend Regina was still living there finishing up her M.A.; and some of my Augsburg friends were going to be there at the same time. the stars had aligned. i mean, duh.

despite the stress of getting there, it was totally worth it. we saw some awful shows and some fantastic shows -- one of the goodies was a Welsh group, Nofit State Circus, performing a piece called Tabù, and a troupe from Chicago, Baby Wants Candy, that does full-length improvised musicals. made me miss that city and its mind-blowing improv.

i also hung out with Regina and her friends. she's at the end of a year of studying abroad (though she may stay in the UK); i'm at the beginning. that felt like it made sense. hearing about her year made my year feel more manageable, less scary, more exciting. also, in Scotland, they love to fry things. even more than we do in the States. like, whole slices of pizza. i had a Scottish breakfast, because let's face it, i love breakfast. it included beans! and black pudding...which is actually blood pudding. but i liked it.

AUGSBURG
on Monday, Nora, Vinz, and i headed to my German home-away-from-home. i've spent a lot of my time here setting up appointments to look at apartments in Berlin. for now, i'm still feeling good about my decision to stay away from the student dorm route and look for a real WG (Wohngemeinschaft -- shared apartment) on my own...but there's no denying it is stressful and requires a lot of patience. this time of year is particularly nuts, since students are all moving around and into and out of Berlin before the semester begins. it's tough not being in the city yet, and i send a lot of emails that get no response, but i do have five or six appointments set up, finally. i may end up taking a short-term rental (Zwischenmiete) for a month or two, that'll give me more time to do a thorough search for a place to last til July.

Nora and Vinz are moving in together, and moving business is going to take most of our day today. then we'll pasta-party at Basti's, dance-party at the Schwarzes Schaf with Mareike, and tomorrow night i head to Berlin for real...

i've thought a lot over the past months about how giving and warm-hearted and wonderful my friends are. there's a song we sing at Passover, "Dayenu," which means "it would have been enough," addressed to G-d: "if He had brought us out of Egypt, but not split the sea before us...it would have been enough" -- and verse after verse to that effect. my friends and family are like that.

if Sara had given me advice and love and support during my Chicago move, but not let me crash on her couch for 2.5 weeks;
if Charlie and Mindy and Mary and Patrick and Sarah and Parag and Nicole and Alex had all taken the time in one way or another to help me through those first tough months in Chicago, but not all made it out to visit me;
if Mindy had given me her car for the summer, but not driven out to Chicago to teach me to drive it;
if she had taught me to drive her car, but not let me borrow it for free;
if Brandon had offered me tools to pack my bike in a box, but not spent 3 hours in the sweltering heat helping me figure out how to do it;
if Lauren and Ryan had helped me to move out, but not driven me to the train station;
if Mary had helped me put my bike back together, but not replaced my brake;
if Jennie had hired me to work on OFAF, but not let me live with her for free;
if Parag and Charlie had made time for me in Troy, but not met me halfway in New Hampshire;
if James and Yarsky had been super supportive friends, but not made the 10-hour drive from Boston to Pittsburgh with me;
if Parag and Charlie had made as much time as possible to see me during those 2 days in Pittsburgh, but not come to NYC with me;
if Patrick and Christina had spent an American Abend with us, but not let us take over their apartment for a night;
if Leonie had given me advice about coming to Berlin, but not set up a place for me to stay and keep my baggage;
if Regina had shown me around Edinburgh despite crazy dissertation stress, but not let me sleep at her place and made me oatmeal every morning;
if Nora and Vinz had invited me to join them for Fringe magic, but not been such wonderful hosts in Augsburg even during moving...

it would have been enough.

except my friends always, always go above and beyond. the big jerks. the world is a big and wonderful place, and moving around it is the greatest feeling, but missing such wonderful people all the time is a hard, hard thing. well, here's to my old good friends, and to a year of meeting new wonderful ones.

Posted by ctamler 21:14 Archived in Germany Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

pittsburgh

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i left chicago the way i arrived last november: by train. it felt unfinished. it felt like i'll be back.

my time in pittsburgh has been warm and quick. i leave tomorrow morning. it sped. pittsburgh is comfortable and frustrating and this is the first time it's actually felt small to me.

i booked my flight to berlin: i should be flying out of nyc on the afternoon of august 24, arriving in berlin the morning of the 25th. this gives me, in all likelihood, about as much time back in pittsburgh as i had between germany and new zealand in the summer of '08. so i should be able to handle it. right? riiiiight?

i'm going to have a great summer in maine. i know it. but being in pittsburgh makes me long for a slow, simple, sweaty pittsburgh summer. i haven't had one since 2006 and i may never have one again. who knows?

i am nostalgic, unsettled, nervous, excited underneath it all, sad. leaving and leaving and leaving.

Posted by ctamler 15:41 Archived in USA Comments (0)

heigh-ho, the traveling life


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it has been so long since i've been truly settled somewhere that i don't really know what it feels like anymore. six months in chicago and i'm just feeling finally in the swing of things and now in three weeks i'm leaving for maine, to work on of farms and fables with open waters theatre arts. and after THAT, off to berlin on a fulbright grant. for one year.

so where's my home? is it pittsburgh, a city i love and grew up in but don't plan to live in anytime soon? chicago, a city where i've had a fantastic but all too brief run? are my friends my home? they're scattered everywhere.

basically, i'm thinking a lot about home. the idea of it. sooner or later, there's a play in it.

with three weeks left in chicago, i finally got batteries for my camera and took a few pictures of some of my haunts.

library.jpg

i mean...how can you NOT adore that library? it has a winter garden on the ninth floor. absolutely mindblowingly open airy gorgeous.

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i live in pretty much the best neighborhood in chicago. lincoln square is quiet and pretty and residential and safe, but it's also got more than its fair share of delicious restaurants and fun bars and bookstores and toystores and coffeeshops and fountains. also my apartment is huge and dirt cheap.

so, what's my life been like in chicago? well, here's the run-down.

  • i started worked at about face theatre as a theatre management intern the week that i got here. that kept me busy and gave my life some structure. since it took me until the end of january to find a job, i am endlessly thankful for it. i might have lost my mind otherwise.
  • november and december were pretty miserable and lonely, but on the plus side, i watched all four seasons of dexter. and i had a great new year's visit from charlie, mindy, and tony that marked a turning point.
  • throughout january, i worked with red tape theatre as a playwright for their annual fresh eyes project -- city lights, receding got an awesome intensive workshop. i met some great folks, pushed myself to take some risks with the script, and basically enjoyed the hell out of myself.
  • in january i also started an internship at lookingglass theatre company, a very cool chicago ensemble with a focus on new work and physical theatre. mary zimmerman of metamorphoses fame is in the ensemble -- that'll give you an idea of the kind of work they do. i've been working in touring production management, which means, among other things, i've worked on this incredible show called hephaestus which is pure circus magic...i am still at lookingglass through the end of my time here.
  • thanks to a referral from about face's marketing director, i spent the past 2 months working on a brand new devised adaptation of iphigenia that we call effie. another amazing ride that has taught me a lot about devised work. we got torn apart by chicago theater blog -- a shame in that the review is pretty off the mark, criticizing the show for its lack of irony and fun: there are certainly a pile of problems with the show, but lack of irony ain't one of them. regardless, we are pretty damn proud of what we managed to make from scratch in 2 short and crazy months, and we're excited to make it better in the future.
  • oh yeah, i've been working in the atrium wine bar at fox & obel food market. i don't make much money there and i'm done this weekend. but i know a spot more about wine.
  • my short play eighty-four was chosen to appear in sketchbook x at collaboraction. which is...kinda a big deal. playing most of june at the chopin theatre.
  • i've seen a lot of theatre. i've made a lot of connections. i've even started to make friends. i've been biking like a crazy person since march and lost like 20 pounds (i LOVE biking). the weather's finally nice for the most part and there are tulips everywhere and now i'm leaving.

parag and charlie visited last weekend and it was epic, glorious, everything you'd want a weekend with your best friends to be. we got a little bit obsessed with over easy...we may have gone there twice. it's effing delicious.

overeasy.jpg

these guys are my home. maybe someday we'll own a house together. we won't all have to live there all of the time. but it'd be a place to come back to. so that i feel like i have a place in the world.

Posted by ctamler 08:35 Archived in USA Comments (0)

kracked out

this is the summer of bad puns

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krakow has been amazing. we leave tomorrow.

kazimierz: cool, artsy, well worth any time spent there. awesome bars and cafes. bagelmama with delicious bagels (including the obama mama...offensive and perfect).

obama mama bagel

obama mama bagel

some great shops. old cemetery once covered by sand and synagogues:

an old jewish cemetery in krakow

an old jewish cemetery in krakow

the old stuff's not as cool as prague's josefov, but the district overall is way better. feels like a real place where people go.

auschwitz: hits far harder than dachau. huge. 3 hour tour well worth it. very difficult to get back from -- we spent 1.5 hours standing in a minibus that the driver seemed to think it was ok to continue to pack people into the whole way there. then again, thinking about where we were coming from, it didn't seem right to complain.

wawel castle, the main square, awesome awesome. plus we do not miss the euro at all. life is so cheap here. we have been badasses, camping in thunderstorms. warsaw tomorrow, and berlin soon after. we both agreed yesterday that we miss germany -- a lot. wir freuen uns auf berlin...

Posted by ctamler 09:40 Archived in Poland Tagged bus Comments (0)

so long, prague and parag

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4.5 days. rainy. cold. beautiful but overrun prague castle. a lazy day in the old, old city, on the old, old fort, where we found karel capek's grave and played deep dark secret, in a way.

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august: osage county with its fishing poles sticking out of the rotating set that the actors kept breaking. a cute if too-pda gay couple on the fountain outside the theater. a very strange man walking down the street playing with his shirt. fried cheese sandwiches.

not making it to cesky raj...oh well.

knedliky. free museum night + bad performance art. fried green beans. lots of czech beer though we never did have budvar. i bet they'll have it in poland. poland. poland is next.

archie hostel, which i recommend.

lauren getting trashed thanks to her crazy czech relatives. lauren and parag leaving this morning. christina and i heading off to krakow, which is where you'll hear from me next.

Posted by ctamler 23:30 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

czeching out prague

...sorry, but i had to.

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it is all i can do not to find this language ridiculous. this is because the only words i recognize are english words that have just had a slight spelling change and a "y" added to the end.

steaky
ryby (ribs)
alkoholy

...i mean, come on. that's funny.

when we arrived, i took 2000 kc out of the atm (a little over $100). the atm gave it to me in one 2000 kc bill. the woman at the internet cafe looked at us like we were crazy when we tried to pay for 30 minutes of internet (30 kc) with a 2000 kc bill. all we needed was to look up our hostel information (that's right, ladies and gents, we forgot to write down what hostel we had booked and how to get there before leaving for prague).

today we bought tickets to see the czech premiere of august: osage county on sunday.

me: do you have tickets available for this show?
ticket lady: we don't perform this show in english.
me: oh that's ok.
ticket lady: that's ok?
me: yes, that's ok.
ticket lady: ...ok.

dear world: we like to see theatre even when we don't understand the language of performance. get used to it.

today, we (that's me, lauren, parag, and christina) wandered around the jewish quarter of prague. it is stunning. the old cemetery: mounds and mounds of graves, over 12,000 stones and there are far more people than that buried there, the stones sticking out at crazy packed-in angles like the snaggleteeth of a hick horde. giant hicks. the golem rabbi is buried there. and the old-new synagogue, the oldest extant synagogue in europe. and another, the pinska (i think that's right) synagogue, painted with the names of czech jews killed in the holocaust.

there is a display upstairs in pinska of pictures drawn by children in theresienstadt, the propoganda camp. one of the most intense holocaust-related things i have ever seen. children were still children.

Posted by ctamler 10:27 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

wandern gehen

there are always glaciers

sunny
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our plays opened on thursday (http://yinzerspielen.wordpress.com). then, since the second performance isn't until tomorrow, we headed to garmisch for a long-anticipated camping and tramping trip: me, simon, parag, lauren, basti, christina, vinz, iris, and nora.

we weren't the only ones who'd had this excellent idea, so we hit a bit of traffic heading into the town. once there though it's beautiful, never mind how touristy: dirndl outlets and brezen fade into the background when you look up and see the german alps considering you from above.

we climbed and climbed, and then paid 3 euro each to climb some more. past a great glacier, of course, rained on by melting ice, glad of my accidentally-brought poncho, though it makes me look like frodo. at the hut at the end of the trail we lunched. nora, vinz, simon and i lagged behind on the hike down. basti taught the others a dirty rhyme game. in the car, i taught parag, nora, and simon the "one day as i walked through the woods" song. basti and simon stole wood.

at the campsite, parag terrified a biergarten full of people with his antics in the car. an asthmatic lady asked us not to build a fire. we said we needed to cook our dinner and that was that. later, some kids stole half our beer from the river where it was cooling. we found more wood after a long search, me dragging back two giant pieces of a dismembered fence (the "bastard logs"). no s'mores due to the woeful lack of marshmallows in this country, but steaks and sausages and delicious feta-vegetable foil packets. in spite of the stolen beer we managed well with four bottles of wine (one XXL-sized).

the stars were beyond incredible. simon kept saying he'd found "the horse," "the elephant," "the frog." turned out he was making them up. we tried to sleep four in a tent. we didn't sleep well. but we slept happy. the asthma lady whined. we slept on.

today before our drive back we stopped at a lake. freezing water that we nonetheless swam in, me holding my ground until simon and i spotted a water snake that i thought at first was a stick. sunned, dodged giant bugs. a shirtless sleepy simon drove parag, nora, and i back to augsburg, with sleepy hilarity along the way. we were all in fine fettle. and it had really been a glorious trip.

Posted by ctamler 14:40 Archived in Germany Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

goodbye is too good a word, babe

so i'll just say, fare thee well

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goodbyes are awful.

luckily i don't have too many real ones this time around -- many of my good friends are coming with me, and for those who won't, two months will fly. last night, though, i said an indefinite goodbye to chris, who is moving to los angeles in a week and a half. jerk made me tear up on my way out of the squirrel cage. embarrassing. i hope los angeles is everything he hopes it's going to be.

the apartment's empty. parag's in memphis with the baby. charlie is on a road trip with leonie, joel, and max. i'm not packed yet and i leave in 24 hours, 5 minutes. no, 4 minutes now.

Posted by ctamler 07:54 Archived in USA Tagged packing Comments (0)

south island trip, part 4

abel tasman ends

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yeah i know it is ridiculous that i have this many entries about my south island trip. way too much detail. blame it on the uselessness of trying to be an acceptable human being when you're transitioning. this past week has been a long one.

our last full day on the track we were starting to feel the burn. blisters. aching shoulders. we split up the tent between us, which made for much smarter carrying, though it also tripled my width. we crossed a long swing bridge (which i had to sidle down sideways, thanks tent) and took a side trip to cleopatra's pool, where we lunched and dozed on the sunny boulders that form the pool's bowl. luckily we didn't fall into any ditches because our provisions were running low -- perfect amount for the trip, if only that duck hadn't stolen a piece of bread.

less up-and-down than on the previous day, which was good, given our sore muscles. we camped in appletree bay, one of the small campsites not associated with the track's four huts. tried to pitch the tent right on the beach but the intense wind kept blowing it away, so we took shelter behind a big bush and even then had to zip the tarp into the tent to keep it from flying off. stakes and sand aren't friends. played boggle: zack beat me for once. early night and i found a little nook in the sand and the combination of exhaustion and sandy nook meant i slept quite well.

we woke at 5am. troopers. packed up the tent, ate. ate the entire apple. ritual by this point. from the track we saw the sun rising behind the clouds. an hour and a half and we were hiking across the last stretch, a long boardwalk across an estuary where messages nestled in the sand, spelled out with heavy rocks that the tide leaves untouched. names. love vows.

our little nissan was waiting in the aquataxi parking lot. i drove us to picton, kirstin and zack often dozing along the way. we got there with plenty of time to spare before the ferry, and it's a sleepy town, not much to do, wandered into some souvenir shops, ate at the third best bakery in nz. the ferry was easy and not at all exciting. big, slow, ponderous, not much view.

friendly familiar wellington welcomed us and we checked in to the same hostel we'd been at exactly two weeks before: this time, though, in time for free dinner. small portion of fish and chips that we decided to treat as appetizers. had a few beers and played in the short pub quiz and were ONE POINT away from winning and very angry, because:

- answered "83" to "how old is the queen of england?" and she's 82
- answered "160" to "how many liters in a barrel of oil?" and it's 159
- answered "mt. cook" to "what's the highest peak in nz?" and it was mt. cook before a recent earthquake but now it's ruapehu

we got prizes anyway, two shirts and a frisbee. then we ate delicious indian food. then we slept. next day, nine-hour drive, took a different route than last time and drove through beautiful tongariro and chatted about marxism and communism and passed dozens of wineries and ate the last of our salami on bread from the bakery and tried not to think about our exams and that was our trip, a good one to end on, no question.

Posted by ctamler 03:13 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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