Wednesday, March 30, 2011

See you later Europe.

I leave for India tomorrow.
My time in Europe has been fast, mind opening and wonderful. I have visited probably 20 cities over the past week and have witnessed some amazing things in a mere 7 days. Martin, my German host, gets the award for best tour guide ever, as he took me by to France, the Netherlands and any and everywhere of interest in between. Today he took me to the ruins of a bridge in Remargen. This particular bridge is interesting because it represented the last bridge the Allied forces needed to take in World War II to cross the Rhine River. Tragically, it was destroyed after a few days of bombardment and nearly 30 American soldiers died as the bridge crumbled. On top of the bridge sits a German and an American flag, a symbol of peace and prosperity in the decades to follow.
I am overwhelmingly grateful for this opportunity to visit so many wonderful places. I have never heard the echo of a cathedral built in the 1200s, never seen a typical European street and never eat my weight in the Turkish imported (and thriving!) Donar Kebab business (speaking of Turkish....i just sat through an hour of Turkish German conversation about Gangsters in Hollywood....yup...).

For my third novel, of which I am in the process of brainstorming, the research I did in Europe will be invaluable. From the color of the train seats to the American restaurant in France called Flunch…it would have taken me quite a bit of research to put together what I learned and experienced in a week. I was really looking for small details, like license plates, and found more material than I could possibly imagine.

So now…or rather at 7am on Thursday morning, I am off to India! There I will finish my second novel, Honey Dripping from the Barrel of a Gun, continue to learn Tibetan and teach English to Tibetan refugees. On April 20th, my wonderfully gifted girlfriend Kaiting will join me in India—which I am pumped about. From there we will visit Amritsar and both do volunteer work in McLeod Ganj. It’s funny to think that I arrived in India around the same time last year as this year (last year april 7th this year april 1st). I worked quite hard for this trip and am excited to see what it brings this time!

Finally, I will have hard copies of Armageddon Skills available soon! Yipppeee!

Monday, March 28, 2011

France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Oh my.

So many remarkable things have happened me over the past week in Germany.

Here are a few thoughts from my trip thus far:

-Dutch sounds like a British person speaking German.
-Apparently there are geeks in Germany too and they mirror the geeks in America: generally overweight or extremely tiny on the female's part, high pitched voice, and dorky clothing. This is not a slight against the geeky (as it very well may sound). I am a firm believer in the power of geekdom, and wish we trained children to play boardgames rather than shoot fake weapons.
-France smells like cigarettes and perfume.
-Many people have a fake tan in this part of Europe. This is likely due to lack of sun. We should pray for them and for the sun to appear more often.
-Dream and Trauma, a phrase used to describe a new Napoleon exhibit in Bonn sounds even better in German: Napoleon und Europa: Traum und Trauma. (Napoleon and Europe: Dream and Trauma)
-The "coffee shops" (a place for smoking marijuana in the Netherlands) were as creepy as I imagined they would be. The ones we visited were dark and sunken into stationary boats on the river that ran through Maastrickt. As I am not a smoker, i hung around for only a few minutes...enough time to notice the cool bob marley socks they were offering in a particular boat called "Smokey". Too bad they were so small.
-Expats are as interesting as they are crazy.
-It is hard to find a French person that speaks English in Metz, France. It is easy to find a German who speaks English.
-Martin's mother, a German wife of a very hard working farmer, told me that "the French work to live and Germans live to work."
-There are so many bicyclist in the Netherlands and there bikes are large and beautiful.
-I have eaten a donar Kebab in nearly every country I have visited (besides Luxembourg). They are so good--when these things truly hit the states McDonald's might go out of business.
-Germans follow rules better than any people I have met.
-If anyone ever tells you to come to Germany and visit their family's farmhouse...drop any and everything you are doing and buy the plane ticket asap!

There is more...but that is all I can remember for now. I will load up some pictures soon!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

SXSW is over..and now I am off to Germany!

Today marks the end of SXSW and the beginning of the spring equinox. Coincidently, I found out today during a yoga class that the spring equinox symbolizes a new birth and the end of winter (I guess I could have figured this out but it was nice hearing it in hero's pose). In the last few weeks I have released a book, sublet my apartment, moved all my belongings, and officially and metaphorically prepared myself for a new existence. If all goes well, I will be in Brazil this summer writing and then Mongolia on the Fulbright Program (and still writing!). In two days, I will arrive in Germany and my new life will begin. After visiting K-town to do some writing for my second novel, Honey Dripping from the Barrel of a Gun, I will depart for India where I will finish the novel! Finally, I have finding fliers for Armageddon Skills in weird places, which makes me hopeful that people have been looking at them.

I have recently been bottling up inspiration and prose-based ideas for a hopeful creativity explosion after arriving in Dharamsala, India. SXSW should be considered fuel for this inspiration, and if it were a person I would thank it for the help! From seeing amazing bands, to a puppet play based on the Jungle (@Salvage Vanguard Theater)to basking in the depressing nature of Chicas Bonitas on a whim--I feel as if I were an open container this SXSW, being filled with ideas and hoping that some don't spill out (I meant to write a few down but I am such a believer in th power of memory that I forgot to!)

SO here is to a new year, although not officially New Years, and here is to every day from here on out being the start of a new year.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Moving, releasing a novel, preparing to travel, and getting ready for SXSW


Time has been flying faster than a hummingbird. In the last two days I have distributed nearly 600 fliers advertising Armageddon Skills, and have particularly focused on the SXSW interactive crowd down in the convention center area. In fact, I will be there again tomorrow "strategically" placing fliers in places that I hope will catch someone's eye. I have also been moving my stuff out to a family house in Bastrop, which has taken about 4 trips as I have quite a large collection of bulky instruments: one sitar, 1 electric guitar, 1 acoustic electric, 2 unique acoustic guitars, 1 ektare, 1 dulcimer, 1 autoharp, 1 box of various percussion instruments and nepali instruments, 1 mandolin, a box full of drums, 1 Brazilian instrument which name currently is escaping me, and 1 juno keyboard. Needless to say...I could not fit all of this in my Honda Civic! The sitar alone stretches across the entire backseat and makes it nearly impossible to transport anything else.

I leave for Germany followed by India in one week, where I plan to finish my second novel (Honey Dripping from the Barrel of a Gun) and put a large chunk in my third novel (The Life and Times of a Blue Rubberband). And then there is SXSW, an excuse to try and attend as many free things as one can and hopefully see something rare in the process! So here is to the future, to chance and to opportunity!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Armageddon Skills out on Amazon!

I released my first book on Amazon Kindle today! Check it out! I will soon be peppering the city of Austin with fliers:

I am still a bit amazed that I have finally released my first novel (finished writing it two years ago) Hopefully there will be a hardcover to follow soon. I will be releasing the novel on the Nook in the coming week and will also put it up for free on creative commons. My wish with this novel is that it spread to as many people as possible. By the summer, I will have two more novels written, one of which I have been working on for over a year and half, and will begin posting pieces of these books soon. Finally, I will be leaving for India to finish said novels, continue to learn Tibetan, and volunteer teaching English to Tibetan refugees in two weeks. This blog will detail portions of my trip, as well as the progression of my novels. Comment or add me to your blog and I will add you back! Tashi Delek!