Sunday, November 25, 2007

This blog is five years old now. I took a look at some of the earliest posts, and I can't believe I wrote some of them five whole years ago, and can't believe that others were only five years ago. So that's about right.

I started this blog out of desperation at a time when I had a vague sense of where I wanted to get in the following five, but without much of a sense of how to do it. Five years later I've pretty much done it--I made it out of the house, got back to L.A., got to a really good law school, got through a really good law school, got a lucrative job, got back back to L.A., etc. etc. It hasn't all been peaches and cream, but typing this out is super-cathartic as I sit here in my beach apartment.

My biggest problem right now feels like a non-problem compared to all of this other stuff, but nonetheless it's what I'm wrestling with right now. For six years I've worked really hard to get to where I am at this moment; now that I'm here, what am I working for now?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I spent the last four days at a client's office in Hollywood. That's enough about that, except that Hollywood is pretty much just like anywhere else. For instance, I went out to the food court at lunch today and sat at the next table over from four guys who were also taking time off work to have some lunch.

Oh, there might be one slight difference--those four guys were Jack Sparrow, the Flash, Aladdin's genie, and a guy who I thought might be trying to do a John Popper, might be John Popper, or might just look like that. Fortunately, when The Flash and I simultaneously went for drink refills I asked him, and he said the guy wasn't in costume at all. So I got some closure, which was nice.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Yeah, so I haven't been here much. Work hasn't even been that busy--it's just that I'm getting up at 5 or 5:30 for the gym, working till between 6 and 7, and on a good day doing something after. On most days, I'm just vegging in front of the TV. But I'm holding out hope that this is just an adjustment phase, after which I'll get back to doing things like posting. Come to think of it, this is a decent start.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The following things happened yesterday:

  1. I had lunch at a salad bar place near my office, and the other two new associates who I went with tell me that some girl from something called The Hills was in line when we checked out. I barely know what this means, but they were furiously texting people from their Blackberries (Blackberrys? Because it's a proper name?) and generally freaking out.
  2. My new secretary offered to put me on the list for his upcoming show at the Key Club on the Sunset Strip.
  3. I met a very cool girl who may or may not be into me (links withheld at least until I figure this out, but I'm cautiously optimistic where digits are divulged, as they were here) who was in one of my favorite TV episodes of the past several seasons, which she hasn't seen but which I have.
So yeah, L.A. is pretty much like anyplace else.

You now have to upload a picture to a post to save it to your profile, or at least I do because it's the only way I can figure out. This is me on the roof of the Continental Park Hotel with the Hagia Sophia in the background.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

O, Dubrovnik. The pearl of the Adriatic, the gem of the bar trip. I don't know if I can do it justice, but I'll give it a shot.

Dubrovnik is cool for several reasons. Most notably, it's a very well-preserved 16th-century walled city unlike any other. This means you can get up on the walls of the city and walk the mile and a half length of them in 90 minutes, with amazing views of the city and the sea. It also means you can get lost in the alleys and avenues of the town.

Additionally, there's a nice peninsula just north of the walled city where most people (including us) stay, with terrific restaurants and a couple of decent beaches. Unlike the tiny room in Split, we had two full bedrooms with a double and two twins respectively, a big kitchen, a big living room, air-conditioning, and a patio where you could reach up overhead and pluck grapes from the overhanging vines.

Dubrovnik is also one of the jumping off points for many of Croatia's popular island destinations. We didn't go to any of the big ones but did do a half-day cruise to the 3 Elephiti Islands just off the coast. The first two were kinda lame 40-minute stops, and we were afraid that the highlight was going to be watching the boat crew member throw our lunch fish remains to seagulls off the back of the boat. But then we got to the third island of Lopud, which was supposed to be the good one, and where we had 2.5 hours.

When you approach Lopud, you quickly fear that you have been taken by inaccurate brochures, because instead of a beautiful sandy beach you simply get an ok mostly concrete beach near the port. But then you follow the signs to the sandy beach--literally up a small mountain and back down again--and you come to an incredible natural cove with incredibly blue water and an impeccable sandy beach. Lopud did not disappoint.

All of this, plus a very cool outdoor Internet park, was very cool, but I've left the singular highlight of Dubrovnik for last. A friend had told me about a hole in the city wall where you could walk halfway down a hill to a beer and ice cream vendor, and then go to the bottom of the hill and jump into the sea. Well, in the four years since he'd been there the vendor was replaced by a full service bar, but the bar seating still only went part of the way down.

As we descended the stairs, we found that we were the only people who had ventured past the bar area at that time. In that cool early evening about an hour before sunset, the four of us just sat quietly for a while, talking a little, two of us drinking beers, and all of us staring for a long time into the nearby sea.

Eventually I just said, "it was really hard to get here, and it makes it all the more worthwhile." At first I meant finding the little nook and getting down there, but when someone asked me what I meant, I realized I'd said so much more. It's hard to get to that spot, but it's also hard to get to Dubrovnik--there's no train service, bus service is just ok, and there are few flights. But it was also hard to get through law school. And to get to law school. Etc. etc. etc. Without getting too melodramatic, you could simply look to the earliest 2002 and 2003 sections of this blog's archives to find out just how hard it was to get there.

And that's a big part of why Dubrovnik was my favorite stop, and sitting on those rocks nursing an Ozujsko was one of my three favorite moments of the trip.

The other two will be covered later...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

After giving some more thought to the trip-reporting plan, I realized that part of the problem was that we went to four cities in the first five days, and that's why that part was kind of a blur. Basically, we flew into Prague, and we really wanted to get to Croatia at some point in the trip. It turned out that thanks to Sky Europe, we had exactly one chance to do that--flying from Bratislava to Split on Day 4, and flying from Dubrovnik to Budapest on Day 8. So that's what we did. But after some flight delays (four excruciating hours sitting on the plane at JFK waiting for a runway--grrrr!!!!!), we ended up with an evening, a day, and a morning in Prague.

Prague was the beginning of two recurring trends on the trip--sampling numerous Eastern European beers, and walking all the hell over the place. We really enjoyed a couple of the Prague beers in particular; Staropramen was probably the collective favorite of everything we tried, and the completely unrelated European version of Budweiser was also quite nice. We saw all the major sites, and two of them involved hellacious climbs--the tower of the Charles Bridge and the 280-something-step spiral staircase of the St. Vitus Cathedral tower.

Those two climbs were part of perhaps my favorite recurring theme of the trip: doing things that I could not have physically done as recently as a year ago. I lost count, but there were probably at least a dozen such instances on the trip.

After Prague we took the train to Bratislava, which we got into about 5 p.m., and we were only there for that night, having a 9 a.m. flight in the morning. So there's not much to explain about Bratislava, except that it's the only place where we were hassled by Roma (ever culturally sensitive Raman teased them a bit and got flipped off for his troubles) and that we stayed in the apartment of some random couple someone found on the Internet. The guy was so nice that he even came back to drive us to the airport the next morning in his Skoda. We saw lots of iiiiiiinteresting Eastern European cars on the trip, but that was the only one we actually got to ride in.

From there we went to Split, Croatia. In Split we again stayed in private accommodations, but this time it was not so nice. This apartment had two tiny twin beds and two folded up cots when we got there, and we had no idea of how to get the cots to fit in the one room. For some reason we took the place, and somehow we got the cots folded down. This solved the question of whether we were going to stay one or two nights in Split, so we headed to Dubrovnik on the afternoon bus the next day.

But I should give Split its due--it's a crazy old city built in the remnants of Diocletian's circa 305 A.D. retirement palace. He lived there for about 10 years, then died, and then the place was abandoned for 500 years. At that point some locals wanted to avoid one of the invading hordes (I've forgotten which one), so they decided to move inside the palace walls, and there's been a city there ever since. Split also started something that would continue in Dubrovnik too--absolute awesome pizza.

So that was the first bit of the trip. I'll report on the other cities (and my new adventures in Venice) a bit later.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

So, the rule for the future is: post or post not. There is no "planning to". Some form of trip synopsis will be forthcoming, but the ambitious town-by-town plan has been scuttled a bit because in all honesty when you go to 7 cities, it's kind of hard to remember the first 3 by the end.

Oh, and there's the slight matter that I'm taking off from Beallsville first thing tomorrow morning for the West Coast, via former regular commenter frank tanana's new gig in Oxford, Mississippi. I should be in Venice Beach sometime on Labor Day.

And, I'll be travelling in MY NEW CAR!!!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

There's no way to truly do justice to a 19-day vacation in blow-by-blow style, especially when I didn't keep a diary, journal, or anything of the sort. But over the next couple of days I'm going to try to encapsulate as much as I can with a series of "5 quick stories about" posts for each city of the trip in order. No ground rules, except that I may expand "quick" as needed and that some general stories about the trip may be shoehorned into the places we didn't stay very long. So watch this space.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

We've survived Prague, Bratislava, Split, Dubrovnik, and Budapest so far, and today we pulled into Varna (Жарна) on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. There is no water in Varna right now. I mean, there's the Black Sea and all, but there is no running water anywhere in the city. Fortunately, the Internet cafe is doing just fine, and everyone mysteriously seems to know that the water will be back on by 10 p.m., a mere hour away.

In the meantime, we take some solace in the fact that there's plenty of beer around. Boy howdy. Plus, we just had a two-course meal plus a half-liter of beer each, it was delicious, and the total bill with solid tip was 31 leva, which is about $25. Good times.