No Wi-Fi in the Alps

Ventured out for our first family getaway to Rothenburg ob der Tober. Took the 81 toward Untergruppenbach, then the 6 toward München, the 7 to Ülm. Espoused our strategy for spending money in the middle of a cobblestone street when the kids asked about the toy store:

We’ve spent 100 euros already today. Fifty on gas, 50 on lunch. We have another nine months to go and need to make our money last, so we’re spending our money on experiences, not objects.

Sounds good, we’ll see.

On the autobahn back home everyone but me slept. Eberhard chastises me, calls us whiney Americans, “no AC in the car, boo-hoo.” Kept the windows at half-mast and the CD player running late 90s lounge music, weaving in and out of the hot wind, sports cars flying by, names and numbers of logistics trucks en route to Slovakia. Can’t ever snooze in the passing lane here, I like that. They all conform to a line on the right, to a queue.

Saw selfie sticks for the first time: a couple Asian girls preening, framed by half-timbered homes, a village left undisturbed by the last world war. The sticks look like antennae with a forked clamp at the end for your phone. About as ridiculous as blogging like this, trying to stuff it all in your pockets, breaking everyone else’s stride.

Mom put a new stick of deodorant on my bed, which I took as a cue. And when I gave her a hard time the other night about something, Benny reminded me the next day, be glad you have a mom you can talk to (his is in dementia).

Watched No Country for Old Men in bed on the laptop with Dawn, and hard for either of us to fall asleep with all the questions it posed, and I think that’s art: more questions than explanations. If it’s good, it should leave us feeling and thinking more than we were before.

Didn’t think I could ever make money writing poetry so I didn’t even consider it, really. Got so far into it — a well-paying job — I forgot who I thought I wanted to be some day, didn’t think it was that important, wound up being somebody else, then nobody at all.

Walking the Roman steps above the vineyard looking down on the village, pausing beneath the power lines admiring the angles of the pine tree farms, the rows fanning out below, opening myself to see what will come in, what comes out — not knowing, but teaching myself to believe and to some extent, not care.

Wrote more scraps of poems, stopped to rewrite them, started to look out a few months and imagine what I could do if I put my mind to it.

Off to the Austrian Alps tomorrow with Lily, my mom and Eberhard — Donnerstag through Sonntag, no Internet. Cows with bells that echo across the meadows, cable cars up the valley.

There are stories about Hemingway staying there with some of the old timers, up late drinking, playing cards. The days before blogs and selfie sticks when you had to remember, to pass it along by mouth, to make it yours to tell. And once the story carries on to the next, like a gift you’ve given away, it’s gone.


Categories: writing

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14 replies

  1. ‘more questions than explanations’ definitely. Winding up being someone else, and then having to unpick the pieces and start again from a new vantage point – I think that maybe part of the creative process, the apprenticeship perhaps. But whatever – you are surely on the road…


    • Thanks Tish, yes – the road metaphor, surrounded by symbols it seems. Saw a word Erholung on a sign yesterday, that announces what to expect in this town in which we live now: “Erholung, Wein und Fachwerk.” Looked up Erholung, and it comes from Erholen, to rest/recover/relax. I like that. May never have this kind of self-indulgent time again, so I’m trying to take it all in – glad you’re having a look with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Like your rule about spending on experiences not objects. If I had my way my kids would be playing with rocks and sticks. I don’t have my way, by the way. The wife, you know.


    • Hoping that motto on spending translates to our return to the States, after just gutting our house of all the goddamned plastic toys and parts, the missing pieces from games, etc…all the excess. This act of giving kids little treat-bags for coming to birthday parties, these takeaway tchotchke bags seem to represent that excess to me. A great learning experience for us all, to learn the value of experience together – aspirational, but we’ll see. Looking forward to your ghosts riding bicycles post, you tease.


      • The ghost has been riding for a few days. Everyone on the Internet is reading it but you. Where ya been? It’s like you’re on the other side of the planet or something.


      • Duh, didn’t get the notification for some reason. Thanks for letting me know, really enjoyed it. Something especially creepy and alluring about that ghost, but for me it’s what you didn’t say that makes it so real and interesting. Cheers, and here’s to cargo shorts.


  3. once your tell your stories, they’re not gone, just blowing in the wind, waiting to land in some new place, waiting to be passed on once again.


  4. …wound up being somebody else, then nobody at all.

    Wish I’d written that. Dang.

    I can’t speak for the movie but ‘No Country…’ is an overrated book. It actually kind of pissed me off a little bit. Cormac owes me $14.95.


    • Oh that’s too bad about the book. The movie knocked my socks off, mine and my wife’s. Still thinking/talking about it, those Coen brothers. That’s a bummer about the book. Do you like any of his others? I just read his first, The Orchard Keeper and The Road, loved them both, though the first one is pretty freaking odd.


      • For what it’s worth, his signed first editions are highly collectable. Mostly because there aren’t that many. He doesn’t do promotional tours. Hates them. Is he kidding?! If I published a book and someone asked me to sign it, I’d sign it, vigorously shake their hand, thank them and take them out to dinner. What a fucking baby.


      • That’s interesting. I just think his name kicks ass and I like that he’s an older dude, and the first page of The Road just nabbed me on the sharp end of the hook, right through the lip.


  5. I can’t decide if I hate selfie sticks because they’re new or because they’re inherently stupid.
    We bought very little stuff. It was heartening, though, to see the souvenir shops teeming with books by Newfoundland authors. Poetry even.



    • That’s neat, the Newfoundland authors. Thanks for catching up on my posts, I think that’s a job unto its own. And sorry you have to return to work this week — ugh is right. I do feel your pain.


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