Norwegians. So nice, even smug, as long as everything’s going their way. Then the minute the chips go down to eat the dust on the rocks which aren’t as great as they used to be, Norwegians become all… “I vish to speek to the manger.”
Hi. I work at a hostel. It’s my job to tell you you gotta put your stuff in the lockers. It’s two bucks. Even though you think it’s my fault, it’s not. Sorry. No need for rude. No need for manager. It’s not even that much. With a shrug of sympathy and an open-palmed “that’s what you gotta do,” I’ll help you with what you gotta do. Instead, you chose to make me think Norwegians suck.
This is the convergence of customer service with international travel. People like me get to meet everyone in the whole world. It’s like a sampler of national personalities, which, come to think, might be the etymology of “nationality.” And there’s only so many of each. How many Norwegians have I met? Maybe three. And so the picture’s inadequate. I’ve met one Cuban, and I doubt that all Cubans are soft-spoken shrinking violets who just want a nice bottom-bunk, is all. I know the weegies aren’t all unfairly demanding. Yet nonetheless it’s true that when you travel you represent your country. Walking around, in our prosthetically clothing-and-accessory augmented bodies, it’s unavoidable. We each represent the demographic that is us, going down from species, to gender, passing by race and religion and political affiliation and nationality, all the way through education and class and hometown and family and circle of friends. And there’s us.
So dammit… act nice. You put on a face every morning and people can see it. Pay the $2 Weegie.
Home. Returning home. I want to return home.
That was me, four days ago. I’m back. I’ve returned from returning. I got stuff. New undies (manties), some chocolate, some booze, some womper speakers. I got a new book about San Francisco and writing. I got a mind to do a lot of things. One of ‘em is to write.
So here I am, writing the wannabe sublime. I wonder how many of my friends and family realize that a blog is not really a window to the subconscious? Glot. Glot glot. Editing is for sissies.
My feeling about the hostel has undergone a shift. I understand why those who live here, live here shortly. It’s a great place. But it’s a place where space has to be constantly claimed and carved out, where one’s status is never in comfortable stasis. Even more so than the ever-arriving travellers, I understand this: one is judged by one’s actions—in the past week. It is exactly the same as when I came here more than three months ago. It should perhaps at this point be pointed out that the point of moving here was to find a job and settle somewhere. I applied to SFSU back awhile ago, but never finished the application… so I never went. Now here I am, living in the city of San Francisco but not quite of it, living in a limbo world where I greet the world’s visitor’s who take in the place in larger doses than I’ve had since too long ago.
Returning home brought me back into a place where my mere presence is appreciated. Being here again is like emerging from the womb again, cold and blinking and more than a little confused. It’s a different view. It’s something I need to think about more.
Personification is a dangerous force.
The context isn’t important. But what the hell: I was standing on tiptoes in the hostel’s common room, balanced on one of the the blue wave-print benches I’d grown so used to. Christmas decorations were rising. It was festive, but still a damned hostel. We couldn’t change much about the porthole lights, much as we’d have liked to change them to green and red luminaries of their former yellow selves. Rachel sat at the desk. An English girl of my own age, she no longer stayed at the hostel but still worked there. She was a paradox in pink and black.
Allow me to mention that I love decorating. Wait—that sounds gay. In this sense gay may be taken to mean “something which is overly sentimental or cloying, saccharine; self-indulgently emotional.” It’s the eight-pound heartful of bonbons bought the day before Valentine’s. Even homophiles can agree with this definition on a conditional basis—as we all know, male-female couples are nearly always more gay than gay ones. Anyways, I love decorating… I mean interior design. More on that later. Later later.
So there I was, hanging colored lights over yellow porthole lamps I wished were green porthole lamps and red porthole lamps. And I’ll be a monkey’s gay uncle if the electrical outlet we were trying to use (me an’ Rachel) wasn’t blocked by our silly desk-barrier-thingy.
“Oh, that would be so cool. Oh no… Orin it’s blocked by the thingy!”
“…Damn you, Thingy!!!”
It’s possible I might get paid to redesign the San Francisco hostel’s website. Money would be good. With that in mind:
- a circle tattoo
- Keith and the Girl Live! California+Boston
- cool new thrift store clothes
- a monthy bus pass
- new socks
- new shoes to go with them
- a ticket to Palm Springs to visit Homepie
- [something I choose not to reveal on a public forum]
- true happiness (and more food)
I clean. I make beds. I drink beer. I listen to music. I hang out with friends. I hang out with strangers. I get done around 3:00. I read the internet. I watch the internet. I eat free food… I eat as much free food as possible. I do not bathe. I shower. I walk the city streets. I find things. I go to events that I’m lucky enough to notice. I meet cool people around town. I visit them. I go to parties. I meet more people. I cross things off my list. I live, satisfactorily, on volunteer benefits, honest work and the goodwill of a good city.