Between now and my departure I am going to alternate between two types of journal entries. One will deal with the psychological and organizational aspects of what I am attempting. The other will deal more specifically with the countries that I wish to visit and my plans concerning those countries. I wrote a bit about Estonia yesterday, so now it's time to turn back to the psychological issues and the planning.
I'm groggy and hung-over from two nights in a row of pleasurable conversation. At Apres Diem, Vaidas and I talked until 11:30 PM, he drinking whiskey and Coke and me downing five Stellas. The fifth Stella was a bad idea, though I woke up fairly alert the next day and was productive.
Vaidas was born in Lithuania, and as a kid he visited many of the countries that lay behind the Iron Curtain. Romania in the late 1980s, before their 1989 revolution, was a big shithole, he said, a country where people begged visitors for soap and cigarettes. It's little wonder that Ceausescu and his wife wound up being executed by firing squad during the revolution.
Vaidas talked about spending $3 a night for a "hotel" in...I think it was Belarus, but we kept flipping back and forth between countries and we were drunk so I cannot be sure anymore. I will say it was Belarus, because this story fits Belarus. In Belarus he stayed in a cabin, and each room had its own fireplace. A babooshka would come in and tend to the fire. He said he gave her a $3 dollar tip. After that she came into his room to throw logs into the fire all the time.
Belarus remains the most Soviet of all the former Soviet states (George W. Bush called it the "last remaining dictatorship in Europe" back in 2005). Without a good and trustworthy friend to travel with it would likely be too unsafe for me to explore this country on my own. I am hoping to find such a friend, because there aren't many places like Belarus left, so it would be interesting to see the country before change comes. Alexander Lukashenko, their President for 15 years now, is going to have to go someday.
Places like Belarus, Moldova, and Russia are among the places where bribing is most rampant, but Vaidas said $3 was enough to get a cop off his case, again I think in Belarus. (Incidentally, in reviewing this story everything in Vaidas's world appears to cost $3.) The art of the bribe is something I hope I do not have to learn, but in the sink or swim environment I am entering it may become a necessary skill.
After Vaidas and I finished with our conversation, we stumbled out into the night where we discovered a long line of teenaged girls and their mothers spilling out of the movie theater. Vaidas asked a mom and her two daughters what was up, and they replied that they were waiting to see the premiere of the new "Twilight" film.
Last night, Nathan, Seth, and I met up in Little Five Points. At the Brewhouse Seth expressed for the first time some reservations about the risks I was taking, affected in part by the things Vaidas had said the night before (Seth had been there for the first half of that conversation). Nathan also for the first time confessed that he initially thought the idea of running off to Eastern Europe was a bad one, but now admits that if I don't do this I will forever wonder sadly what might have been.
Nathan and I wound up at the Yacht Club after we dropped Seth off by his car, and we had an excellent conversation which was punctuated by the brief appearance of two cute Emo girls, one in a flannel shirt, who sat across from us, but then seemed to think that a poor idea and left to join other friends.
After getting home I watched "Survivor" over the Internet, downloaded some songs I'd been looking for via Shareaza in tandem with Pirate Bay (since Google doesn't offer these particular tracks, which were Esmee Denter's "Admit It" and Daan's utterly superb "Icon"). Then I passed out and regained consciousness around 11:30 this morning.
Because I signed up for Google Adsense, I suspect you will see several ads for alcohol treatment. I saw an ad today for help in finding your gay mate. If this sounds like something you want to click on, please do; it will help me out.
It's strange stepping into the commercial world after running the www.kingpigeon.com site non-commercially for about a decade, now, but I need to think about ways to generate revenue because I am not going to have much money when I arrive in Europe.
I told my sister in an email about my plans for the first time today because I need somebody with a physical address I can trust who can collect and deposit (the likely meager) checks I might receive from advertising revenue.