Future’s Shapin Up

Things seem to be falling into place all of a sudden; like how I got a bike at Goodwill after wanting one all semester long. I also bought a couch  (40 bucks for both. CHA-CHING). I had to vacuum cat hair and only God knows what off the thing. But its cool. It was 20 dollars. Adjusting to student life was harder than I thought it would be. When I was on the road life was free flowing. I had no due dates or schedules and my only assignment was to do what would make the best stories. And that’s what I did. I am proud of my trip and the stories I’ll be telling for the rest of my life. I’m also proud of how well I’ve adjusted to normal living. I feel like when I returned to Boulder I had more direction and was more goal oriented than I was before I traveled. Four months since school started and I am one of fifty students accepted into the Leeds’ Business of Sports summer certificate program. I also founded a student organization for providing free sports programs to local schools in Boulder. The principle of a local bilingual elementary school is backing my ideas and soon I’ll have a pilot program running at lunch times. I’m really excited to bring sports to the school and kick around and play with kids who don’t get to.

I remember sitting on a train coasting through impenetrable white fog with my friend on our way to Kutna Hora and I told her I was going to work for FIFA and watch soccer matches around the world. I would travel for the rest of my life. The way I see Life is this–if you do it right, it gets more fun with every birthday. This idea is why I haven’t dropped out of school and hit the road again. Honestly I really don’t like being stuck here! But what else can I do?

I feel very fortunate and blessed to take on challenges and opportunities that bring me closer to my dreams. Not everyone gets these chances.

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How Axemurderess Saved My Life

On the 10th of October Axemurderess saved my life. I didn’t know she did until recently, when I learned that the creepy pedophile who prefers Jews to couchsurf with him that insisted I stay with him has erased all traces of his CS profile…

The story begins when I was locked out of my house for the night and the sun had set hours before. Stranded in Berlin without internet my options were numbered. I knocked on all the neighbors doors to offer them the beer and bratwursts I bought for my hosts but no one answered. So there I was, alone, with a six pack some wieners and my day pack trying to wrap my head around the situation I was forced into. Thank God I bought a cell phone that day.

My contacts list was so short that they all fit on my little German talkie’s square screen simultaneously. I had less than five friends in Berlin and none could rescue me from October homelessness. So I reunited with the three girls that I hitchhiked with on my way from Hannover to Berlin at a bar on the other side of the city to take the edge off my nerves. I gave a beer to some guy I met on the tube. And my bratwurst was warm and squishy by then. I was… not happy, as you might guess. When I got to the bar I tapped into its wifi and sent out an Emergency Couch Request to all Berlin members. And that’s when BJ-M and Axemurderess messaged me.

Let’s begin with dissecting what a stay with 47 year-old BJ-M in his “cute” studio apartment entailed. Here’s his accommodation requirements as best I can remember:

1.) No sleeping in street clothes. Then it said if you don’t have pajamas he will lend you some of his own.

2.) You MUST turn off your cell phone at night.

3.) Only available sleeping space is in his bed.

On the continuum of creepy, if BJ-M is on the far right side, Axemurderess was somewhere in the middle. So still creepy but not “wear my pajamas boy!” creepy. But remember… she’s still creepy. You’ll see. So I didn’t respond to BJ-M out of fondle fear but instead I hedged my bets with the Axemurderess. A wise choice. AXEMURDERESS. What the hell was I thinking?

Eventually I found my way back across Berlin to her lair. She invited me in and we quickly demolished what remained of my six pack and half of her stock. Then, just when I was almost convinced Axemurderess wasn’t going to hack off my limbs in the night she did something that moved her closer to BJ-M on the creepy continuum.

She asked me if I wanted to see her scar. I said yes. I’m a man, men like scars. Then she took off her shirt and slid her bra off to show me the 3 inch scar cutting across her nipple. The left one if you were wondering. I don’t know how Axemurderess got her name, but it’s not because she has looks that kill or a body to die for.

Trying to erase a haunting image from my mind I turned the music up and a mini dance party erupted. So there we were, the two of us, in our own little dance worlds, jiving to some Norwegian hipster beats. And just when I thought, AGAIN, that Axemurderess was almost normal, she did it again. This time with a pink bunny onezee and a little pinch of sexual assault.

“Look out! I’m BJ-M!” she said! And with pulsating butt squeezing hand clenches and hot fiery eyes and a crooked smile she boogied towards my little ass. “No! Stop it! Get away!” I cried in a very coy fashion. Trying to box her out with my chest and get my ass as far away from her go-go gadget arms with extendable butt cupping claws. I thought about shoving her away and defending myself, but… I still needed a roof for the night. So I had to bear the ass grabs and play along until her claws released me from her sexual torment.

Axemurderess obviously didn’t kill me. And after that first night I spent two more with here without any more incidents. But even safe and sound away from BJ-M he continued to haunt me.

I neglected to respond to his “rescue” message so he sent me a follow up message. He said, “You read my message. And no response. Enjoy.”… Being the courteous gentleman I am I apologized for not responding. Besides his showing up on my pedophile radar, the truth is that connection to the internet comes and goes and is never guaranteed, specially when I leave the house all day to explore. Hours after sending BJ-M an apology there was a response in my inbox unlike any other message I’ve ever read.

“The reason I wrote you is because I assume you are a Nice Jewish Boy, and I would always want to help a Jew before I help anyone else.” He also said that if I’m still looking for a place to stay I should reread his profile, groups, and sleeping preferences carefully. And now, come to think of it, as I write this I’m remembering that I did look back over his profile and I think I saw he’s part of the Sexual Liberation/BDSM group! WTF!!! But that’s not all, the story gets even more twisted!

Once back home I told this story to my good friend. Wanting to show him BJ-M’s picture and Couchsurfing profile I found our old messages and tried to view his profile. It’s no longer accessible. My guess is that whoever BJ-M, assuming he really is a 47 year old white male named Barry, was keeping chained up in the basement finally escaped and found help.

So Axemurderess saved my life. She also showed me her scarred nipple and grabbed my ass wearing a bunny onezee. It was like an Easter Bunny horror film. But for all I know and don’t, Axemurderess saved my life.

Check out these characters.

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The End.

This is the first of many stories to come! Now that I have some downtime I hope to put up one story a week from my adventures abroad. If you liked this one PLEASE share it with someone you know or someone who’s become a little bit too creepy and needs some perspective! Thanks for the read!

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The downside to traveling solo: I’m Lonely

Three days ago I left again. Like I always do. And I hate it.

I don’t know if it’s this dismal weather above my train or a rain cloud drizzling on my brain that is making me feel this way. I’ve felt sunny days through the past month of weather’s haze. But now things have changed, I’m in a hole so far down in the earth that when I look up the light above me is distant. Looking through my fingers, pinching the light, it’s no bigger than a penny. I wonder when I’ll climb out. In five days I will be in Sarajevo. Together with an old friend we’re going to devour a Bosnian thanksgiving and I’m hoping she will bring me out of this hole. As for now… I ride alone.

I’m not usually so pessimistic. I’m usually annoyingly optimistic. “Always look on the bright side of life” became my theme song in Berlin. “When life gives you grizzle, don’t grumble, give a whistle! And thistle, help things turn out for the beeeeesssst!” If I have any readers in Europe (assuming I have any readers at all), maybe you’ve seen me in my orange jacket whistling a tune in the tube or main square. A man can smile and pretend everything is hunky dory for only so long, especially when he feels alone.

Most of the time I’m not alone. I’ve been blessed with relationships that I will take home to California and Colorado with me. There are people I met who stained my memory with their sweet ways. For the first time in my life I brought a friend to the airport three days ago, it was the first time that I felt like I wasn’t the one flying away. After I waved goodbye to Maja and walked away I stopped to look back at her 100 times because I didn’t want it to be the last time I saw her. Then I left. Even though I will always remember her cutely awkward way of running to catch a tram and the way she says juice with a silent j because she’s swedish, she still left and I still had to say goodbye. Just like with all the others.

All of these goodbyes make me think of the song Beyond the Blue by Josh Garrels. “Sometimes the only way to return is to go where the winds will take you: to let go of all you can not hold on to.” Click the link and give Josh a listen. A real one. Close your eyes and hear him. “Wisdom will honor everyone who will learn to listen to love and to pray and discern and to do the right thing even when it burns and to live in the light through each treacherous turn.” <– That's my favorite part. My bro scrow Jonathon's favorite part is "I sing yellow and gold as a new day dawn like a virgin unveiled that waited so long to dance and rejoice and to sing her song and to rest in the arms of a love so strong." Beyond the Blue is one of my go to whistle tunes when I'm feeling low. I know that when I meet people like Maja I can’t hold on to them. So what else can I do but let go? Even when it leaves me feeling like someone gutted me.

So here I am alone still. Even though Beyond the Blue is on replay it’s not the echo in my head.

Now you know how I really feel. Traveling alone can be incredible but it can also be lonely. Thanks for reading my pointless post (assuming anyone did 😉 )

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The Holocaust, a German Woman, and Me–What they have in common

Finally I have a story worth sharing. I say this one is worth sharing because it’s not one of my own stories which pale in comparison to this continuing story. Not being that my stories aren’t worth sharing, although I do prefer telling them in person so I can see your reactions. This story is just different in the best of ways.

The story begins in 1929 when a group of young Jewish activists for the zionist movement planted a commune in the future territory of Israel. Among their ranks was a young girl from Berlin named Hannah. She stayed and worked in the commune and married. All the while, WWII was in full gear. Even in the Middle East and far from Hitler, Hannah and her husband still didn’t escape the Holocaust. You see, Hannah and her husband were Jews. Which makes their family Jews too. Hannah fled Germany before the Holocaust but it became too late for her family to flee from Hitler’s uncontrolled hate. Hannah’s family was murdered in a concentration camp; probably separated and alone, without dignity or respect.

WWII ended in 1945 and the nation state of Israel was established in 1948. Everything Hannah had been working towards was now hers. The Jews finally had a place to call home, but not Hannah. Her home was starved and tortured and eventually, after the pain became so much that death was a way out, murdered. I don’t know how I would have acted if it was my family dead at the hands of Germans. I certainly wouldn’t have done what Hannah did and invited Germans over for supper. The grief of her bereavement is what I believe drove Hannah to open a foundation for rebuilding the relationship between Jews and Germans (also Jews and Arabs! because why not?). Hannah’s home was the foundation’s headquarters and her home was open to everyone from everywhere. The front doors were literally open for every passerby. And for many years they remained this way and, for many years, Hannah impressed her open mindedness on Jews and Germans alike with her seemingly endless love. I find myself wondering how could a women slapped by such hate turn the other cheek? And not only turn but fight back with a kiss on the hand that hit her. She was an ugly women, short with a sort of hunched back but I heard that her inner beauty was so outwardly that it wasn’t possible to find a single imperfection on her. She was as it seems, an angel on earth, a light in the dark, a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day, the type of person that leaves impressions on people and impacts lives.

In 1968 a young German girl travelled to Israel with some emotional baggage. She carried the pain her countrymen inflicted upon the Jews and hoped to make amends with her shame. Through Hannah’s front doors she walked on her first visit and again many years later she returned with her daughter Anja. Like I mentioned, Hannah was the type of person that impacts lives. Anja was 12 then and it wasn’t until seven years afterwards that Anja made her own pilgrimage to Israel and to Hannah. The relationship between Anja’s mother and Hannah connected her daughter to the angel and after weekdays spent working in a commune’s hospital, Anja spent every weekend visiting Hannah. Spending a lot of time with impressionable people has a way of changing you. Maybe that explains why Anja is a ray of light in this increasingly dark world. Before leaving Israel and long before I met Anja, Hannah influenced her in such a way that changed her perspective on life. And before leaving, Hannah told Anja that one day she will have the opportunity to open her home to a stranger who needs her help to impress upon him the same love, generosity, and compassion. Then she made Anja promise her she would.

In 2013 a young traveller was loitering in Berlin when he was introduced to Anja. She opened her home to him and subjected her sweet innocent family to his crude American ways (her youngest son now yells Shit instead of German curses). She kept her promise to Hannah and continued this continuing story that by now has continued long enough and we’re both ready for it to end. Only thing is it never will. I met Anja thanks to a little womanizing and a lot of luck. Actually all luck, because my idea of womanizing is probably your idea of introducing oneself. And you know what she said to me when I left her home for the first time? She told me that one day I will have the opportunity to open my home to a stranger who needs help and to impress upon him the same love, generosity, and compassion that Hannah showed her. And then she made me promise I would. Albeit that day won’t come for years, I’m sure that one day it will and this continuing story will well; continue.

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Homeless at 220Km/hr: Predestined Afterthoughts

I was going to make my next blog post about how I was scammed and lost €100. I was also thinking about writing about three friends I made at 220 km/h who helped me find a bed when I was temporarily homeless. Instead, I want to take time to reflect on the plan that has been laid out for me. A plan so elaborate and perfectly sewn together that mere coincidence isn’t excuse enough to explain how the stories I’ve woven together are all interconnected. My trip is not a combination of different stories separated by chapters. It is one story with it’s plots so intricately intwined that the endings and beginnings are as distinguishable as a drop of water in a pool… or a black guy hiding in the dark! (unless he smiles of course) preppy white frat boys! two Chinese men standing side by side!.
Before I met with Luise’s God-mother I met Luise weeks before in a different country. The only reason I saw her on the hill behind the European Union Capitol was fate. I wouldn’t have gone on that walk that same day if Jamaar hadn’t messaged me to stay on his couch days before. If he never messaged me, I wonder where I would have been that day, where I would be now.
Any action in my trip can decide who I meet and where I go, might alter every day of the following months. Different hitchhike rides can lead me to different destinations. Just one different Couchsurfing host has the potential to reroute my travels. I’m still in Berlin because of some advice from my last host. That host took me in because I was temporarily homeless for the night, which leads back to meeting Luise in Brussels. Her cousin that she connected me with didn’t have a spare key to lend me when she hosted me the night before I met Cathi. So, I met Cathi because I met Luise’s cousins who locked me out because I met Luise because I met Jamaar… It was Cathi who convinced me to stay in Berlin longer and thus led me to Luise’s God-mother. If I had never met Luise I would never have been locked out. If that never happened I wouldn’t have met Cathi and ultimately extend my trip here in Berlin. If I have to, I can single out all the miraculous coincidences so consistent I’m convinced luck has nothing to do with it. I am following a plan, unbeknown to my decisions whilst directing them before they are conceived in thought.
So here I am again like I always seem to be, sipping a steamy drink and enjoying the conversations that come with new friends, feeling at home. Might you think it is coincidence that I’m now staying with a family of musicians like me, Think Again. I go to Dresden on monday. I wonder who will cross paths with me there.
That’s an interesting expression: cross paths. Every park path I’ve ever walked was already laid out for me, start to finish. I think my trip is like a park path.

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Amsterdam’s Red Light District: the real fucking place. (pardon my French)

This gallery contains 17 photos.

What to say about Amsterdam’s Red Light District? It’s bizarre, normalized, beautified prostitution the whole family can enjoy. I saw children and grandparents slowly strolling through heavily prostituted areas next to sophisticated businessmen undressing the girls with their eyes. Chinese … Continue reading

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Hitchhiking for Amsterdam: King of the road

I felt like the most popular man in Belgium when all three of the first three cars that passed, pulled over to help me hitchhike. After that first car I didn’t get very far before I was back in the rain. I had reservations at a hostel for the night but first I had to hitchhike there and, drenched in rain, the pessimistic sky made my chances of making it in time feel bleak. All of that changed with what happened next.
I was standing there in the rain. Thanks to my first ride I was 20 kilometers further from Antwerp and closer to Amsterdam but I was also suffering unsheltered from the weather at an unfriendly and low trafficked hitchhiking spot. Before Uri pulled over in his big wheeler I was stuck watching car after car pass me by. The unrelenting rain, penetrating my orange gore-tex jacket and reaching my optimism, showed no signs of breaking but the lights on the 18 wheeler that just passed did. I climbed up the door in full gear to be greeted by an unfamiliar accent with a wide smile. Sitting uncomfortably with my back pack jammed between my legs in the front of his truck we pulled back onto the freeway.
Even when speaking broken english, Uri was a talker. We talked about how many languages he speaks. Uri made it a point to teach me the word for apple in Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, German, and Slovakian. He also educated me in which eastern european countries have the hottest girls. And for those of you who might want to know, Uri said in order from best to last; Ukraine, Poland, Russia and Hungary. He is from Ukraine though…soooo maybe find a second opinion on that. 40 minutes into our conversation we pulled over at a rest stop.
As required by European law, truck drivers must stop driving and rest for half an hour every eight hours, or, that’s what I thought he said. I offered Uri my bag of potato chips. He refused to take them and strongly patted his belly. Then, he thrusted a large apple into my hands.. I patted my starving belly and accepted. We got to talking about his hometown in the Ukraine and from what I understood, he lives above the Black Sea near the coast where the weather is pleasant and the girls are beautiful and everyone loves vodka. He started the engine and we were on the road again. 80s music replaced our home sick conversations and the rain began washing away the visibility.
Sitting high above the already small European cars on my mega-comfortable trucker’s chair I felt like the king of the road. Uri carried me two hours and 160 kilometers closer to Amsterdam until we reached his stop. He shook my hand firmly and we said our goodbyes.

If you were wandering where I went and the way I went, here it is.
I took a train from Gent to Antwerp (about €8). From Antwerp I hitchhiked to within 20 km of the border between Belgium and Holland. From a stop near the freeway I got in with Uri and we drove around 75 km until we reached Rotterdam.

My journey with Uri is only half of my hitchhiking story. The second half I’ve decided to keep for me. So to make a long story short, I found myself with a press pass to a soccer game because of the incredible person who picked me up.

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