My European (mis)Adventures

One Flash Light, A Passport, and Two Credit Cards, How much trouble can I get into?

My Last Entry from Munich August 12, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Josh Green @ 10:24 am

358 days, that is how long I have been away from home, 358 days in a perpetual haze (sure a self inflicted hops haze but a haze no less), 358 days of new cultural experiences, 358 days of the excitement of not knowing what the next day will bring. These 358 days might take another 358 for me to truly understand what I have gone through and to sift through the life lessons that I have learned but that is OK with me. In some ways, that is what my latest Stockholm adventure was about, taking me out of my daily routine and letting me to begin to decompress. My friend Robin, who is going through a life altering experience down in Argentina, asked me if I had mixed emotions about leaving Germany and returning to the States. The answer to that is of course but I think that the key word in the question he poses is “mixed emotions.” A lot of the people I know here and have met wonder only if I am going to be sad and miss Europe. I always answer these questions with a yes, naturally I am going to miss it; how could you not miss the experiences of walking down the D-Day beaches of Normandie, The Oktoberfest, Weiß Wurst and a Hefeweizen for breakfast, driving on the Autobahn, caving in Budapest, clubbing in Prague, singing karaoke in an Irish bar in a little town in Germany, thanksgiving in Florence, and all the other debacles (experiences) that I have undertaken. I will always carry these memories with me, but I have come to realize that I am not meant to be in Germany any more.

So if I am not supposed to be in Germany any more, then where am I supposed be? That my friends I can not answer but this one thought keeps jumping into my head: Before you can figure out where you are supposed to be, to finally be comfortable where you are at if you will, you must first figure out who you are because how can you expect to find where you belong if you don’t know who you are? That’s the crux of my situation, often you hear about people who take off to exotic destinations to find themselves as if suddenly one day the clouds will part and a voice will call down in some sort of divine voice, “This is who you are, go forth and don’t forget to tithe 10%”. (Knowing myself, I would think it was a dream and wonder if I had mistakenly rolled over onto the remote for the television and Pat Robertson was screwing me with). I believe that it is all of our life’s little experiences that contribute to our sense of who we are and we take these new experiences for what they are worth and incorporate them into ourselves. I am fortunate enough to have parents that recognize that I have wandering feet and support me in my journey of finding where I belong ( I get my hippie ways from my mother). I know it can be frustrating for them at times wondering if I will ever settle down but I know I will, eventually.

I think I have a good sense of who am I, but who is that? Am I the guy who can drink 5 maßes, and still have enough sense about me to drop one liners (albeit never politically correct ones) at 3am in the morning? Am I the easy going, fun loving, crazy American intern who was given the name “Joshy Bear” by the French interns? Perhaps I am “Josh Clooney” as dubbed by the karaoke guys at the Irish Bar (because of the slight resemblance, come one; tell me you haven’t ever noticed it). Maybe I am the “thumb” ninja (long story) who won’t hesitate to use them with sound effects and all if you step out of line. This is how my friends here see me, what they don’t see is the part of me that has drive and determination to be successful (I’ve been hiding it under my laid back SoCal persona). The importance I place on family, my ingrained sense of patriotism (I hate talking politics with Europeans) and justice. I think you get the point, and those of you that know me best could I am sure, come up with a few more. I understand that it takes time to cultivate new relationships and I value all of the friendships that I have started in these 358 days but I am excited to go home to the people who know me best. Excited to get to know them again and to see how they have grown and for them to see how I have grown (for better or worse).

I guess what my 358 days come down to is this:

  1. Don’t be afraid of wandering feet or the “Bohemian Lifestyle” (I stole this from Mike Cando, thanks my brother).
  2. Travel somewhere out of your comfort zone, it doesn’t have to be an exotic location, it could be Ohio, but do so with an open mind and reflect on what you have learned.
  3. If you feel the need for a change, don’t shy away from it, embrace it, through adversity we truly come to know ourselves.
  4. Most importantly, do not zealously look for where you are “supposed to be” because you can forget to enjoy where you are at.

So go forth my friends and let us seek new counsel in this wonderful mysterious world we live. In the words of Hunter S. Thompson,

No man is so foolish but he may sometimes give another good counsel, and no man so wise that he may not easily err if he takes no other counsel than his own. He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master.”

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Stockholm Redux August 8, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Josh Green @ 8:10 am

As I write this new blog, I find myself back in Stockholm. I never really thought I would return here after the adventures that ensued over the holiday break. Actually, truth be told, I didn’t think that they would let me back in to the country (slightly kidding but not really) after a particular Friday night debacle the last time I was here. I told myself after leaving last time, that I would like to come back in the summer and lo and behold here I am. How I came to return is a bit of a weird story in itself and harkens to the ending of the film “Good Will Hunting” (shout out to Red in Argentina on this one) but what I have taken away is so much more. Prior to my arrivial in Stockholm they had been enjoying fabulous weather, when I left Munich it had been raining like a son of a bitch and wouldn’t you know it, it followed me here to Stockholm and has been raining off and on all week with no end in sight so I guess I pretty much have the power to change weather patterns.

The day that I arrived happened to be the Stockholm Pride parade which was also the Euro Pride 2008, where everyone came to Stockholm for a “Big Gay parade” Maybe because of the rain, a lot of people stayed away and the entire atmosphere was somewhat more low key than that of the Hillcrest Pride Parade. So it just appeared to be abunch of people in ass-less leather pants with red asses dancing to techno music. However the interesting part to me was the representation in the parades by various groups for example, The gay Doctor, Dentists, and Nurses Federation (insert Gaylord Focker jokes here) Gay Police Officers, Fire Fighters and Army People Federation. Later in the evening we ended up at a friends of my friends house where we pre flighted before we went out to the clubs. Its common practice to drink a lot at home before you go out because it is so expensive to go out and buy drinks at the bars, hell it is even expensive to buy bottles of alchohol in the state ran stores, they are, I believe, subject to something like a 75% tax. Gotta love these socialist governments, if they deem it bad for you, then they will tax the shit out of it in hopes you wont do it. From what I can tell, it is not really working, Swedes love to drink and party. So anyway, we end up at this pretty cool bar and they had a retractable roof, so when it got to hot inside, they would retract the roof and let a little breeze and light rain in. I think it would have been an amazing thing if it would have been a clear night but never the less it was a great time had by all. Since then, I have had a pretty “domesticated” vacation; this is because my friend Bodil, whom I am staying with is working 8-5 so we don’t really go out and party it up too much. My days have consisted with her getting up for work, me sleeping in until 10 or so, then going out to see some sights, coming back home, cooking dinner, drinking tea, chatting, and then bed time. Pretty mundane stuff, but its nice to be able to relax. We even went to yoga together a few days ago. That was an experience let me tell you. First of all, I haven’t done yoga for over a year, and even when I was doing it, it wasn’t with any sort of consistency. Secondly, the instructions were all in Swedish, but that didn’t deter me because not only was the instructor a little hottie, but the way she spoke was so soothing and hypnotic like, I started to believe that I could actually speak Swedish! (Hmm all I need now is a Swedish Massage in Sweden to complete the tri-fecta.) As part of my domestication, I venture out to the grocery store and do pretty well for myself partly because, as I mentioned in my original Stockholm post, everyone here speaks some English, or well that’s what I thought until this old Swedish Granny jumped out of the bushes like a “grass ninja” and started yammering on at me. From what I can figure is that she was interested in the flowers that I had bought. How do I know this? It’s because she kept pointing to the flowers I had bought in my bag and if you listen closely enough you can hear some similarities to German(something about girlfriend I think). This grass ninja totally freaked me out and even if I could have gotten a word in, I am pretty sure she would not have understood me anyways. You might be asking yourself why I bought flowers? I thought they were pretty, why else? (Ragsdale, that’s right, I said I thought they were pretty)

Today I ventured out to the Island of Birka, on this island is the remains of one of the original Viking settlements in Sweden which dates back to appx. 700 A.D. I have to admit, I was expecting some sort of grandiose Viking reenactment there but the museem was small, and the majority of the artifacts that they have found are located in the Stockholm Natural History Museem. On the island you can still find burial mounds and sheep (not of sheep). They have a few huts to mimic one of the sections of the original settlement where they demonstrated boat building, hand made leather crafts and Blacksmith working all using the traditional methods. The blacksmith, who is actually a blacksmith by trade, travels to the island every three weeks and lives on the island for one week while doing the demonstrations. One of the coolest things he was doing when we were there, was that he was showing us how to make steel the ancient way. Pretty Cool I must say.

The most interesting part of the trip to the island was meeting this Australian girl who was on a 6 month global adventure. Apparently she works for a consultanting company in Perth and is able to take 6 months off to travel without it being an issue. Why is this important you may be asking yourself? Last week I had read that Australia was seriously in need of skilled labor, not only blue collar but also in the White Collar sectors; I asked her about this and her response was , “ They defiantly are, why do you think I can take off for 6 months and get my job back when I return? They know that there are other companies that need my skill set so my employers don’t complain.” So I would now like to announce (sorry mom for you not being the first one to hear it) that I will be actively searching for a job in the magical land of OZ upon graduation. But I guess what this really means, is that the longer and harder I think about where I really want to be, I am no closer to the answer. However, I do know, without a shadow of a doubt I will entertain all possibilities no matter how absurd or outlandish they may seem. Jerry Garcia said it best “ sometimes it takes time to find a place to be, so keep truckin’’