Balkan people are expert at getting involved, getting in the middle of things, things that don’t concern them, shit-storms and squabbles alike. We’ve done it for centuries. We invented the world-class scrape. It should be in my blood, but these days – fuck-a-duck – I’ve been languishing, spectating and generally feeling sorry for myself. First Anna, always at arm’s length, then in Rome Francesca’s cold shoulder, and now Brendan and his friggin’ fraulein. I’ve been playing all these in the back of my brain like little youtubes. It’s pathetic. But there’s only so much of this shit I can take lying down. The worst thing that can happen to you is nothing. This is a fact. Get slapped, kicked, scratched, jilted anything and you’re ahead, you’re in business. Nothing is worse than nothing. So I tell you, get your foot in the door, stand your ground, piss on it if stays shut. For the past week I’ve been hitting all fronts, like a swivel gun, all sides take a hit. I call it provoke and pursue. Ask me the time and I’ll tell you my life story, step on my toe and I’ll get in your face. I’m Balkan again, I’m everywhere and constantly changing, I’m kaleidoscopic. Branson - pdf-man - wanted his reports bound and ready by two – bang!– No can do, sir. So he says (goatee agape) excuse me? And I say, I’m going to the turkish bath (you have to come up with that shit on the spot, though, there’s no time to think.) He says, Ben je helemaal gek geworden! So things escalate, so what! you roll with it, and you stick to the plan, you drop everything and you go to the sauna. Because it’s monday and mixed-gender there’s just you and a Jewess named Goni, plump, Sephardic, bejewelled, and as you throw eucalyptus water on the coals, she says, my, my, you’re a skinny young man, you must eat more – swivel and strike– skinny? maybe, but multilingual and able-bodied. And you wink at her. You wink so she can see you right through the steam in the turkish bath. That’s how you do it, kaleidoscopic, always adapting. And the next day you don’t wait, you call Goni first thing. You say, Shalom, and she says, hi there, and you say, ok, Goni, let’s go eat!
Friday, May 23, 2008
I’m going crazy. They come home after midnight, they have a snack and a drink in the kitchen. They think they’re being quiet because they whisper, but they only whisper half the time and then they forget the sleeping Croat next door, and they forget that I can hear them when she says stuff like not zuh pepper grinder Brandon, followed by bursts of laughter leaving me baffled as to what the hell is going on. And then, just as I’m about to fade, when there is a chance I may fall asleep again, it begins in earnest: a fifteen minute crescendo, a spiraling Germanic moan – jaaaa, ach Brandon nicht so schnell.... I told Brendan about this, I said I need my sleep, Brendan I work now, I’m a working man but he said, dude it’s a sign she’s getting more comfortable with you, it’s a good thing. This would be true if she were a wild beast and we shared a cage together. She’s not getting more comfortable Brendan, she’s just getting more cocky. After that no more seriousness was possible for days. Hahaha, she sure as hell is, man. Hahahaha! What a stupid sack of muscles. Nevertheless, I am deeply envious. If I do not sleep it is not only because the noise disturbs me, it is also because such noise sets in motion things which set other things in motions, some mechanical, some mental, until mind and body are in alliance, one reinforcing the other, and my hands become mere puppets. I ended up at my computer on a dating site looking at a girl from StPetersburg - most of them are Russian or Ukrainian, which is quite acceptable - but when I tried to read her description (the result of instant internet translation) my mind and body disengaged and I was left completely limp. Oxana writes: “It is pleasant to me when hands, mind and an eye estimation (needlework, work on a computer, minigolf, or simultaneously two employment) are involved.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
A couple of days ago was Queen’s day. I’m a republican through and through, but this was a wonder. I spent two days in bed recovering. Croats, Serbs, Bosnians look to the north and weep! I saw a whole nation united in revelry, yokels and aristocrats alike. A whole nation, not just the north or the south, a whole nation draped in a single color. Orange socks, orange pants, orange leggings, orange sweaters, orange hats. You name it. Orange orange orange. A whole nation chanting – it is said – in honor of their queen. This is a wonder. Never mind that she was up north in Friesland where they speak a strange patois and want statehood; never mind that she was completely dressed in pink, marzipan pink (who advises this woman!), it is nevertheless a wonder. And when I am awestruck, when I am fascinated with the world and its peoples, when my amazement cannot be contained, I drink. I drink like a fucking crazy-man. So very fortunate was it, therefore, that everyone around me was drinking too. Huge quantities. These Dutch guys – I swear – are like Albanians. And at two fifty a beer I was robbed in broad daylight of all my hard-earned xerox-money and potential future-xerox-money too (if Branson will have me back; I worked exactly 1 day, then came this). But my amazement did not stop here, because out onto the streets people poured out their belongings on blankets and tarpaulins, a whole bunch of crap sold at throw-away prices, a sea of bric-a-brac, nick-nacks, stuff-no-one-wants, old toasters, yin-yang balls, The Human League on VHS. And children too, hundreds of them flogging their junk, their skills and their tricks, some legitimate, some highly questionable: I stuck my hand in a black box full of fuzz in the Vondel park and this ten year old charged me a Euro (I swear, these friggin’ kids you give ‘em an inch... I’m not gonna say it... I’m just gonna say: Lord of the Flies). To be fair though, there were some wonders among them too, a young Britney-lookalike banging out the Goldberg Variations on her Clavinova like she was MSNing her girlfriends. Amazing, wondrous stuff this day. The marzipan queen should have been on her knees.
By noon I was coming down, though. And by evening I was fighting all out to stay on my feet. Brendan managed to drag what was left of me to the Waldorf in the Jordaan – not the hotel, but the thirty square meters of hip & hype, congregation point of Amsterdam fashionistas, stylists, typographers, streetologists and suchlike (where are the friggin’ doctors in this city!!!) . I obliged ‘cause I know Anna goes there with Fred and some her friends. She showed up after midnight and I practically fell over myself trying to get a shot of her outside. Big sad eyes, arms flicking – the usual. Not a blob of orange like the rest, though, just a couple of armbands jangling and charm, so much fucking charm it kills. But drunk as a rut, no way was I gonna show myself un-enhanced. So I went and enhanced myself as best I could. Brendan was sweet-talking a German “chick” and I slinked (slunk??) up to her friend by the door, a stupendous beauty – dark-caramel, Amazonian in stature, a killer – she says, “are you going already?”(Full accents!). I was stunned. “In fact I am not.” I said. But she wasn’t talking to me. I didn’t see the blond giant ahead, but being a head taller than everyone else I don’t think she noticed that I slipped my arm practically around her to wave at Anna outside, fully enhanced. And this was my last move before I retreated and slumped irretrievably. All I recall, with Brendan standing nearby, are the words (spoken with a slight German accent) “but you are so muscular”.