//Italy, 1990//\n\nIn the spring of 1990, my family and I traveled to Lake Como, continued to Milan, and finished our trip along the Italian Riviera. I was fifteen. My parents brought me with them because they believed I would learn more out of school than in it. \n\nThey were right. \n\nYou see, the trip was not for idling, but for networking, connection-making, fostering the kind of familiarity that strengthened purchasing loyalties. On the trip with us were the hard-drinking machinery technicians and hardware salesmen my father did business with. These were men who came to my father’s plant for days on end, fixed our foreign-made machines, and then came with us to dinner, where they taught me words from their language as they grew florid-faced and reckless from drinking bourbon. “Here,” they said, growing ever redder, inhaling the fragrant steam that rose from their steaks and exhaling alcohol onto me as they laughed from somewhere deep in their chests, maybe even deeper, somewhere down in their abdomens, where their empty guts churned with booze, “this is the //real// American meal, yes?” And I answered, laughing uncertainly, “Yes, real American,” and knowing, even at that age, that these men were still foreign enough to compare everything they encountered in the U.S. to what they had seen on //Dallas//. \n\nSo, this Italian trip, like others before it, was intended to foster the same kind of camaraderie, the back-slapping relationships that ensured we would continue paying for technical services, for wholesale orders of hardware. And my father did in fact work with these companies for many years. It was an effective strategy, those trips. More importantly, however, it provided me with the education my parents hoped I would gain, a knowledge of people—their fears and capacities, although I wouldn’t unlock all the mysteries until I, myself, became an adult. There, as a teenager, my mind recorded and observed, having no other experience to relate to, until later.\n \nI was a student of people’s habits, and I learned the ways of men, especially foreign men, who eyed my mother even as they passed around pictures of their children, wallet-bound photographs that included their reluctantly smiling wives. These wives, at the exact moment my mother’s gray eyes rested on their features (whether doughy or sharp), were most likely lying awake under thick featherbeds five hours advanced from us, listening to the cracks and ticks of their sleeping house, instinctively knowing their husband was in a hotel bar thousands of miles and many times zones away. It was the not knowing with whom that rose like bile in their throats, that kept them awake. Other women simply slept, knowing but not caring. \n\nMany of these same men were with us in Italy. Here, they drank wine until their lips were ringed purple, the ridges of their teeth stained blue, until spittle flew from their mouth as they talked, laughed, attempted to flee the narrowest corridors they walked when they were alone or when they were with those wives they sometimes felt distant from. \nI know those corridors now. I didn’t then, but I’ve walked them since I knew each of you, though I’m several—no, //many//—years behind you. I can’t even see your backs from where I am. Yet, I know the wallpaper of these hallways, its texture against my fingertips. \n\nI bet you never imagined, dear men from Germany, from Austria, from northern Italy, that the girl you leaned over and spoke to kindly (maybe even a little lewdly), the girl whose diminutive shoulders you draped your blonde-red-black haired arm around, would become a woman who knows your secrets, who writes stories about you when you were in your late prime. You men, who were soon to be surpassed by sons, even by a rival lover who visited your wife while you were away (as you were in May of 1990, when you sat at the marble bar of Rapallo’s Grand Hotel Bristol and collectively searched a phonebook for Discothèques; remember, I was there, too). There you were, drunken and laughing, trying to escape the nagging sense of loss, the loss that’s always there—the loss of what could have been your life, but isn’t. It is the loss we all feel as soon as we are done growing and begin living as adults, either suddenly responsible or old enough to realize not only what //is//, but also what //could be// (and the unbridgeable gulfs that lie between the two). And the older we get, the further back we look—to those moments when we felt alive, or thought we felt alive. In those moments when we walk along the narrow corridors, sometimes backwards, where we fear the inevitable, which is not death but change, which encompasses death. \n\nDid you feel this emptiness, too? The knowledge that you can’t know everything. Not yet, anyway. And that very likely, you never will. It is something we never imagined existed when we were children, as I was in 1990 when the world still seemed as shallow as tub water and my life as safely circumscribed.\n\n—[[Savannah Schroll Guz|http://www.savannahschrollguz.com/]]
''Anything has potential to be an egg.''\n\nAnything can remind you of the familiar and draw you close, especially when traveling. Traveling in my 20s for the first time outside the US, and Amsterdam is the initial stop on the European 3-city tour. Drizzly and slick, a night befitting a gothic novel. Coming upon a brown café, dark and cozy as split pea soup, I venture in. I’m hungry. (Museums do that to me). I see people eating what looks like sunny side up eggs on white bread. Maybe ham. Maybe cheese. I don’t even eat eggs for breakfast. I take a seat at a small wooden table — mismatched and dinged. Turkish carpets for tablecloth. The hefty white cat doesn’t budge from the table it dominates. No need for sanitation codes; Jenever handles that. Pointing and smiling, I make my needs known. \n\nA decade later, I work for a Dutch company. Amazed they are that a New Yorker declines fresh fish; asks for an uitsmijter.\n \n—[[Kit Kennedy|http://poetrybites.blogspot.com]]
This story is a personal one that occurred about 25 years ago.\n\nMy parents drove down from Buffalo to visit us in Wheeler. They took the three of us, my wife Carolyn, five-year-old daughter Cassandra, and I out to dinner at the Bath Country Club. The restaurant was open to the public and they had a great reputation for Friday night fish fry. This was our first time there, as we generally didn’t go out to dinner very often.\n\nWe sat around the white linen covered table enjoying pre-dinner conversation. Our food had already been ordered. My parents and I sipping beer, Cassandra a soda, Carolyn water. The dining room was full, people waiting to be seated. \n\nI excused myself to go to the restroom. While walking across the room I was gazing at the artwork hanging on the walls. Original paintings by local artists. I approached the door to the bathroom, was ready to open it, when across the room Cassandra shouted out, “Dad, that’s the girl’s room!” I looked up and sure enough, “Women” on the door. I quickly backed away, walked a few feet further and entered the right door. \n\nI’m sure everyone in that dining room heard her yell. I was glad she did, as the embarrassment if she hadn’t might have been even worse. I was actually proud of her to have noticed that her Dad was making a huge mistake. Parents are human, too.\n\n—[[Michael Czarnecki|http://www.foothillspublishing.com/poetguy/]]\n\nThis story reminds [[Alan Semerdjian|http://alanarts.com/]] of [[this story|semerdjian]].
''that reminds me'' is a growing story in hypertext. The idea that drives it is the making of connections, and the connections of making.\n\nIt is not a free-for-all collaboration, though anyone is welcome to submit work for inclusion. \n\nSubmissions will be subject to editorial review before inclusion. But don’t let that scare you. It only means that this is a tended garden.\n\nFor questions concerning this project, please email Dan Waber at [[danwaber@gmail.com|mailto:danwaber@gmail.com]].\n\n[[begin the stories]]\n\n
Smile\n\nPart of the set up that you need to know for this story is I can’t [[see well|Megane]]. So when I tromped Europe by myself that summer of 1990, I took pictures and would get them developed that same day or so so I could see what I had just seen. Then I mailed the pictures back to myself in the States. This is before digital cameras, waaay back in the stone age. So, anyway, I am walking down the streets in East Berlin just beyond Checkpoint Charlie. The Wall has fallen, there are lines two miles long just to look at the goods being placed in store windows where the glass has not been cleaned for decades, and college kids have set up a café ([[1|first story]], [[2|old poet]]) in the last remaining guard tower in the [[no man’s zone|no English]]. (I picked up a piece of a toilet from a smashed guard tower—I figured everyone had part of the Wall, but no one would keep a piece of the toilet for a souvenir.) \n\nI see two guys in uniform—a tan uniform and a blue one. I am curious, and I get closer—I think they are cops. I am not sure. I point my camera and mime taking a picture of them, asking timidly with my shoulders if it is ok. I am still afraid to speak. One of them grabs me—I hadn’t realized how big he was—at least 6 feet to my 5 feet. I hadn’t realized how thick his fingers were, or how strong his grip would be. I feel my arm being bruised. Dammit. I don’t know the rules. But no one knows the rules right now. I can see both of them very very very up close now as I am smashed right between them, and I see the East German insignias and the West German insignias. Polizie. Yes. Police. Going around together on their new beats. Unity. But I know I am being arrested and the camera is confiscated. East Berlin is not free yet. I quickly try to think what I shot that day. The Wall. Some broken building from WWII. A store. I don’t know if this will be innocent enough. Probably not.\n\nThe other one grabs the camera from my now lifeless hand. Hands it to someone. [[Yells something horrible.|horrible waiter]] The two now have me between them, and they are squeezing both my arms. They lift me a bit off the ground. I hope I will not [[throw up|a different story]].\n\nThe guy with the camera lifts it to his eye and the cops smile. A big flash. The guy hands me my camera. The cops let my feet rest on the ground. They remove their hands from my arms, and I do not immediately check for the bruises I know are growing there. And they go on their way.\n\n—[[Deena Larsen|http://www.deenalarsen.net/]]
Megane\n\nI was interviewing for a job teaching English in a tiny village along the coast. But I had 40,000 yen [[to my name|Is]], a little over $40. And I had enough thus to get back to Nagoya and try one more time if I did not get this job. And nothing more. So I’d gotten in the night before, and I was sleeping in a playground, on a steel tower that had a little western cowboy hat on the top. It was sort of supposed to be like a western castle, I guess, with a little edge on the outside surrounding a huge hole that sported completely smooth sides inside all the way down to the windowless, entryless oubliette—maybe 25 feet down. A long ways down. And as I curled up in a nervous sleep along the edges of the tower in the hot steamy August night, I dropped my glasses down the center of the tower. \n\nI found this out as I awoke stiff-necked the next morning. So I felt my way off the tower. I wasn’t too worried, as the glasses did not help me see much—I was legally blind without them and basically legally blind with them. But if I went for too long without them, I would get blinding headaches. And of course they were specially made with prisms and all sorts of ritual spells that only American optometrists know. So they were irreplaceable.\n\nI met a fisherman going to the sea, and I spoke the only words of Japanese I had learned thus far in my journey: [[Ohio GodsImust|an ocean blue]]. Something like Good Morning. I hoped so at any rate and prayed it was not a [[deadly insult|Smile]]. I managed, with a very odd drawing that I still have somewhere, to convey that my glasses were at the bottom of the tower with the top shaped like a western cowboy hat and could he fish them out very kindly please sir even though I have no money?\n\nAnd as he accompanied me to the top of the tower, he brought along half the village, burgeoning into a huge Pied Piper parade. I heard “henna gouging” a lot—which I later refined to “/ /henna gaijin/ /” (strange barbarian). We got to the tower. I mimed glasses and pointed. He climbed the tower, mimed glasses around his eyes, and looked down. Deftly brought out his fishing rod and, with a flourish, he presented me with my glasses. The entire village clapped. I thanked him profusely and learned to say [[“HurrygotO GodsImust”|http://japanese.about.com/library/blqow11.htm]] with the proper accent. He went on his way. I stumbled to my interview. People still stared.\n\nI did not get the job there.\n\n—[[Deena Larsen|http://www.deenalarsen.net/]]
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A Foreigner among Foreigners\n\nIn 1998, I lived in Munich, huddled within the textured white walls of a tiny efficiency apartment charitably doled out to university students by the city’s Studentenwerk. There, my tiny room perched several stories above a first floor inhabited, on one side, by an Italian restaurant and, on the other, by a police station, whose cars blared their panic-inducing two-tone sirens by night and by day. Down the street, the BMW plant began cutting sheet metal at 7 a.m., even on Saturdays. And on Sunday mornings, when I usually suffered from a hangover that robbed me of my peripheral vision, I would take a drink from my emergency flask and force myself to get out and roam the streets, which I did even at night. I had an admirer then, a man who worked in the restaurant kitchen, a man who seemed to know my schedule. He would stand outside smoking a cigarette and staring at the cinderblock walls surrounding the dumpsters, and always turned as I left through the glass door, my shoe heels clicking against the broken asphalt. “Ciao, Bella!” he’d say loudly before tossing his cigarette away and going back inside to—I assumed from the rubber gloves in his back pocket—wash dishes. \n\nFrom my apartment, I could see the architectural magnificence of the Olydorf, the 1972 Olympic Village, where some people took great pride in their apartments. Their stepped terraces, decorated with flowerboxes and spilling over with vining plants looked beautiful from my large square window. I felt bad for the reciprocal view offered by my sad gray-green building, which was casually shedding small bits of stucco onto the sidewalk below and occasionally onto Moosacherstrasse, which thrummed with the regular movement of cars like blood through arteries.\n\nI usually rode the subway from the Olympia Zentrum stop, where drunks stood by the Imbisse near the heavily populated bicycle lock-up and drank Apfelkorn or the horrible, enamel-dissolving Obstler from tiny bottles they lined up like soldiers on the high, chairless tables. I nodded to the few World War II veterans I had come to recognize, one of whom told me he was kept as POW by the British. I doubted some of his story because he was forever incandescent with alcohol, pinkish eyes tearing, nose leaking, mucous running like a frightened woman towards his upper lip. If someone had ever struck a match near him, I feared he would explode in one giant conflagration. So, I moved quickly past him, having faltered near him once and having been forced, thanks to my lack of a hard heart, to listen to his story. Not that it was uninteresting, just slightly incoherent, even accusatory. He thought //I// was British and was quietly giving me the business about his suffering and privations. \n\nOften, I traveled to the wide and regal Odeonsplatz, which was the city’s hub. I emerged from the dark earth somewhat recovered and near the base of the towering, ochre-colored Theatinerkirche, with its giant Baroque dome and twin clock towers. Feldherrnhalle stood before me, a massive neoclassical memorial to fallen military heads and behind it, the shadowy Dodger’s Alley, once travelled by those who wished not to salute another Putsch-related memorial plaque Hitler riveted to the side of Feldherrnhalle facing the Hofgarten. And then, the delicious walk to Marienplatz: past the modest Residenztheater and the opulent state opera, whose interior walls were either mirrored with beveled glass or painted an icy blue and accented with silver leaf acanthus leaves or egg and dart moldings. Beyond this, the shops: furriers, tobacconists (whose scents wafted onto the street with each movement of their shop doors), music stores in whose windows sheet music fanned and gorgeous violins hung. There were ‘antiquariats,’ where I looked for prints and carefully flipped through gently yellowing first editions of Mann’s //Buddenbrooks// under the disdainful gaze of the storekeeper, who knew I was an impecunious student, but understood by my accent that I was a foreigner with at least one of the currencies then enjoying a high rate of exchange. (Still, I often tried to hide my foreignness, and the longer I lived there, the better I became at it, until no one knew I was not one of them—a Bavarian who spoke the same broad vowels and deep-formed consonants authentically.) \n\nThis was how I spent my days when I was not at the museum (a story or stories for later), where I catalogued the Wittelsbacher collection, harvested lavender from the roof garden by climbing through the window above my desk, translating correspondence into first halting, then lilting English. I, a foreigner among foreigners, with a disparity soon entirely undetectable. \n\n—[[Savannah Schroll Guz|http://www.savannahschrollguz.com/]]
It was a family vacation and the gravedigger opened up the ossuary and gave my son a skull to hold. Later, he took flowers off a grave and presented one bloom each to my wife and daughter. Travelling in Cuba, we had stopped at a rundown cemetery outside the town of Cárdenas near the all-inclusive resort-crowded peninsula of Varadero. At the gate, two gravediggers stepped out to offer us a tour.\n\nOne gravedigger was short, built thick and low to the ground like a bulldozer, and had a head of thick, curly grey hair under his backwards ball cap. The other had a lanky, loping aspect to him, and had dark black skin and an easy smile. A laconic commentator on the other’s tour. Both were in their late middle age.\n\nWe spoke with them through our barely existent Spanish, through words that we could recognize from English, French, Latin, or some kind of [[Indo-European stew|no English]]. We communicated through handsigns, gestures, and some intuitive understanding that comes from addressing fundamental experiences like life, death, sex, family, tragedy, pride, and humour. My family did a lot of reconstructing what we thought was being said while nodding and smiling profusely. We knew they were gravediggers because they pointed down and said “la tierra” (the earth) and made digging motions. Also, they hopped in and out of tombs as we walked around, and demonstrated an obvious pride in their knowledge of the place.\n\nThe first man took his hat off when he passed his family’s tomb and the grave of his mother. He mimed the large pregnant belly she must have had sixty years before and held up two fingers. He introduced us to his brother, also a gravedigger. The other finger. He showed us that the brother, his twin perhaps, had a bigger belly. Both of them were thick with muscle from years of digging, carrying, and climbing in and out of tombs.\n\nThen he in fact did jump into a tomb in order explain something in Spanish about earth, poverty, families, and the washing of bones. As far as we could reconstruct, he was saying that poor people are buried in the ground and then disinterred two years later, their bones washed, and then kept in stone ossuary boxes. Families with money are never buried in the earth, but their bones are kept in a large stone box, some kind of sarcophagus. My daughter remembered, here in this communist country, the Animal Farm line about “some are more equal than others.” We all return to the earth, except for those who don’t.\n\nMany families had small mausoleums above their tombs. A doctor had a room the size of a music practice room. Through its glass door, we could see an entire room set up like the doctor’s office. His white coat and stethoscope, medical texts, plaster walls with waiting room photographs, framed qualifications. Another grave had a room memorializing the teenager killed in a motorcycle accident. His painfully fresh-faced portrait was displayed above a small motorcycle protruding out of the wall. A sad message of love and devotion from his parents framed on a mantelpiece. An urn contained his remains. What ‘remains’? This one room in a whole house of memories, loss, and love of family.\n\n“Here,” one of the gravediggers said, taking some leaves from a large graveside plant. “This is good for virility. It is a natural Viagra.” He took off his hat to show his hair. My wife thought he meant that since he and I both had grey hair, we could use the plant. I thought he meant that it would keep us from going bald. When we got home, my son used the coffee grinder to make a potion with the plant. As of this morning, my son isn’t bald.\n\n—[[Gary Barwin|http://www.garybarwin.com/]]\n\n
[[Other Hypertexts|http://logolalia.com/hypertexts/]]\n[[How to Add]]\n
Crossed voices\n\nAfter three years in Japan, I booked. At a certain point, you either stay forever and you can never go back—not even for a day at Thanksgiving—or you just leave. So I left and tromped around Europe. But remember, I’d just been three years in a place where to raise your voice even a tiny bit above almost a sing-song whisper is a horrible offense. And I was one of only three gaijin (foreign devils) in my tiny town. This is important to the story I want to tell you.\n\nSo I got off the all night Orient Express ([[a different story]]) in East Berlin, the summer the Wall came down, when the [[East and West German cops|Smile]] were going on [[beats|Smile]] together and everything was just a bit surreal. I’d been ill, and I hadn’t slept in three days. I staggered into an open coffee shop. At least, I thought it was open, but it was 5 a.m. and no one was in the lighted area. I put my backpack down and sat in a corner where I could see everything (I’d been on the road alone for too long). A woman came running in, waving a spoon and yelling at me—loudly. Vimmen Zee Plates!!! She looked about ready to [[murder|no English]] me. So I got up, shrugged back into my heavy backpack, bowed politely with my hands folded halfway to my chest—the proper angle of bow to an outsider whom you have just disturbed—and said “so sorry to have disturbed you” in very quiet, slow English. She followed me to the door, waving her spoon and yelling some more. VIMMEN ZEE PLATES!!! “please don’t call the police” I said in a strangled whisper. “i am leaving now. honest. i’ll go quietly now. sooo sooo very sorry. / /sumimasen/ / so very / /sumimasen ga/ /. ”\n\nShe followed me out the door into the almost sunrise street. Her “VIMMEN ZEE PLATES!!” was, if anything, more virulent and louder. I bowed again, very deeply. “/ /gomen nasai, sumimasen/ /, please / /dozo/ /, so very very very sorry to have disturbed you.” And I walked backwards all the way to the station, bowing every few feet until she retreated into the distance of her cafe. I told this story to a friend who actually speaks German, and the [[best we can figure|begin the stories]] was that she was trying to say, “[[Welcome|Is]]. Please have a seat.”\n\n—[[Deena Larsen|http://www.deenalarsen.net/]]
The second story is a sad story, one that concerns families. This was also handed down to me from a lady who had it from a friend, unknown to me, thus distant. Fact is that this guy”s father had a bad accident. When the accident happened he was in China on business, he was very close to his father. It took him a couple of days to fly back and without even taking a shower, ran to the Hospital to see his parent, who was lying in bed between life and death. Since then he became the shadow of his father, slept on a chair at night, and did what he could to relieve him from his pain. This went on for about three months, every day recording a slight improvement. At this point his younger brother showed up, all cleaned and shaved. Thanks to some of his own family connections, an in-law doc appeared, terminated the rehabilitation progress of their father, had a row of psychiatrists, dieticians, pathologists, neurologists, physiotherapists lined up to see the patient for a couple of minutes and write down papers on papers, all stating that the patient would never recover. Not only, that the patient would be taken back home, where also the younger brother with his wife and son lived. The elder brother asked several questions, things were set so that he was told only the day before of the decision. He made some tel. calls to lawyers, docs, friends, to no avail, facts had already been so clearly stated and by so many docs that his voice was nothing in comparison to the infinite pages written. The younger brother, when directly asked by the elder, answered: “Papa is going back to his own family,” “affetti famigliari” in Italian, which is literally translated into: “family love.” This also happened in Italy.\n\n—[[Anny Ballardini|http://annyballardini.blogspot.com/]]
My friend [[Richard Grunn|http://richardgrunn.com/]] told me a story that he heard from someone else (so you’re getting it third hand here) about [[a couple]] who took [[a trip to Italy|Italy, 1990]].\n\nOne night, while on this trip, they went to a restaurant that they absolutely loved. The food was outstanding, the ambience was perfect, but their waiter was horrible. Not just sub-par compared to the whole experience, but horrible. Terrible. Awful. [[Being foreigners|A Foreigner among Foreigners]] on a first visit, they decided not to say [[anything|anything has potential to be an egg]] at the time.\n\nThe next year they decide to go back to Italy, and while they were there they went back to that restaurant. They figured, //surely// that [[horrible waiter]] will be gone.\n\nThey go to the restaurant, and the waiter is still there, and, of course, they get stuck with him again. The food is again stellar, they absolutely love the whole experience, except for this stinkin’ waiter.\n\nSo, on their way out, they decide to talk to the maître d’ (who also happens to be the owner of the restaurant) about it. They tell him all about how much they love the place, and how it was a factor in their decision to [[return|what are these obstacles]] to Italy this second year, and how completely awful their server was both times. The man shrugged his shoulders and said, “He’s my cousin, what can I do?”\n\nWhat I love most about [[this story|a different story]], or maybe it’s Rich’s telling of the story, is that it expresses [[a different kind of world view]] than we normally consider. Profit and customer satisfaction are lower on the ladder than family.\n\n—[[Dan Waber|http://logolalia.com/]]\n\nThis story reminds [[Anny Ballardini|http://annyballardini.blogspot.com/]] of two different stories.\n[[first story]]\n[[second story]]\n\nThis story reminds [[Karl Young|http://www.thing.net/~grist/ld/young/young.htm]] of [[this story]].\n
This story involves two poets who visited Milwaukee at the same time. One stayed with my partner, Susan, and me; the other stayed with another couple. One of them is still alive, and who they were is less important than the story, so I’m using pseudonyms for them. Both had been friends for many years. The one staying with the other couple wanted to escape his hosts, and we wanted something as close to private time with him as we could get. So we took both visitors out to supper. \n\n[[After some hearty conversation, and before beginning the main course|semerdjian]], Sylvester excused himself to go to the bathroom. When he was out of sight, Kermit leaned toward Susan and toward me and said, “My God, hasn’t Sylvester become a pompous ass?” Since we didn’t encourage him, he didn’t elaborate much. \n\nAfter the main course, Kermit went to the bathroom. When he left our field of vision, Sylvester leaned toward Susan and me and said, in a tone familiar from that we heard before the main course, “My God, hasn’t Kermit become a pompous ass?” The only thing different in what the two said was the names. We were sure that Sylvester hadn’t overheard Kermit’s first remark, and that his comment wasn’t a follow-up or rejoinder to Kermit’s. They both simply said the same thing. Despite the solo comments, the dinner conversation was sparkling and delightful. \n\nOne of the things that amuses me most about the story is the response I’ve gotten when telling it to other people. They usually feel the need to offer some sort of preventive measure against such situations. One that sounded like family advice from childhood was “Be sure you go to the bathroom before leaving for supper.” \n\n—[[Karl Young|http://www.thing.net/~grist/ld/young/young.htm]]\n\nThis story reminds [[Michael Czarnecki|http://www.foothillspublishing.com/poetguy/]] of [[this story|czarnecki]]
A daisy chain of no English.\n\nWhen Burma was in the throes of being forced to become Myanmar and the [[State Peace and Development Council|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_Law_and_Order_Restoration_Council]] were killing tens of thousands in pursuit of [[lucky numbers|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8888_Uprising]], I was vacationing just across the border in northern Thailand. We were tromping about on a guided tour of the [[Karen|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_people]] tribes—all us farrang outsiders. My friend, Margie, and I were on a break from being gaijin in Japan and teaching English (Ei-go shimashyo!—or as we said—ego smashers rule!). My French was always embarrassing at school and about 10 years rusty now. Margie spoke nothing but English, but we were getting along ok in a rusty sort of way—although after two years of constant barrages, the Japanese now slid easily into our English and we really couldn’t tell the difference. There were two really cute French guys about 20 years old. The one with the handsome goatee and mismatched chest hair spoke very bad English, and the other with big shadowy pecs spoke better Italian than I spoke French. There were three Spanish girls, who all favored wearing their sarongs so that the cusps of their breasts just peeked above the brilliant colored tops. Two spoke pretty good French, and the blonde with the Farrah Fawcett wave spoke some fractured Greek. The Italian gentleman, balding at the top and winded after every breath, who hated spiders, spoke some Spanish, and possibly Russian, but we were never sure about that. The loving Greek couple just cared about each other and were forever breaking off parts of the jungle to present as bouquets to each other. She had dyed her hair a brilliant orange and spoke three words of English and a smattering of French. He never spoke a word during the entire trip, not even when one of the bouquets he picked turned out to have a foot-long millipede embedded in it. The guide spoke English in a manner that made my broken French sound fluent. He also spoke fluent Karen, Thai, Burmese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, and a host of other languages—each of which sounded like a calliope with a hissing horn.\n\nSorry for the logic problem, but I just had to set the scene. Steamy jungle, tiny path that seems to disappear every few feet as something else grows up in a nanosecond underfoot. The Thai guide eruditely points out the flora and fauna in his colorful English laced with the local flavors. Margie and I gamely follow along. I translate what I can into bad French. The French guy translates into Italian, the Italian guy gestures into Spanish and the Spanish girls consult, and then the blonde pours her broken Greek into the non-heeding ears of the honey-spooners. The guide points out a huge white spider on the underside of a leaf broad enough to be the sunshield on a truck window. He explains “Rare very rare thing beauty skeleton spider drink birds and bloodwater”; By the end of the daisy chain, the Italian smashed the spider with a rock. The guide yelled and screamed and I caught and threw forward only a few words, mostly cuss words, but the only cuss word I know in French is //merde//, which the guide took to be murder and nodded, somewhat satisfied.\n\nSo with that, we are walking out of the valley with the most beautiful, frothy waterfall I’ve ever seen. We are wet, dripping with new sweat and the fun of the waterfall plunge. The guide stops to talk in very fast hisses with a barefoot, bare chested boy who has run up behind us. He then says slowly “Why you go so fast? We stay, we stay here now look see beauty plants.” And we all sit down in the mud behind a row of huge trees. He points out every grass blade and explains it very slowly. Every cloud. Every flower. Every leaf. Every millipede and biting insect. I don’t have the words, and I can only imagine what the Greeks on the end get as their fingers start slowly moving up each other’s thighs. After about an hour of just sitting there, we start to hear thunder in the distance. But it is a clear day. Cars backfiring. But we are in the middle of the jungle. The guide yells at us all “Why you go so slow, you go too slow you go now we go food go fast now.” He ran, and we all followed his pace—there are some things that need no [[translation|begin the stories]].\n\n—[[Deena Larsen|http://www.deenalarsen.net/]]\n
One of the things I remember most about our trip to Armenia several years ago was our time spent at Clara’s house. Clara was my grandmother’s cousin, and I knew very little about her life and family other than the facts that they were really nice people who didn’t have much money and that they wanted to have us over for dinner. I also knew very little “eastern” Armenian. Being a “westerner,” I grew up speaking the other dialect designated for Diaspora folks, people who were born or lived much of their lives in New York City, Canada, Cairo even … pretty much anywhere but the mother country. Melissa, being only a ¼ Armenian and having had only a modicum of Armenian language training in the Diocese cathedral basement with an idiosyncratic teacher amidst a torrid string of administrative training classes, knew even less.\n\nSo at dinner, Clara asks Melissa to go for a walk through the house with her while I sit and have drinks with her son. When they get back, Clara is perturbed and Melissa is in tears and has trouble articulating what went wrong. Apparently, Melissa had commented on a beautiful piece of hand-sewn cloth that served as a kind of doily on a bureau. Upon seeing Melissa’s admiration for it, Clara offered it to her. Melissa said she couldn’t accept it — it was too grand of a gesture, too sweet of a gift. Clara noticed a stain on it and figured Melissa didn’t want it because it was dirty and started getting frustrated and searched for something else to give her. When they both returned, it was clear that they were on [[two separate continents|begin the stories]], or islands, or boats, or something. Two people so desperate to give and show love but unable to do it. The language and culture just got in the way.\n\nI tried explaining things with my broken dialect. They half-understood, and we moved on.\n\n—[[Alan Semerdjian|http://alanarts.com/]]
In 1991–93 I lived in Milwaukee as a “family member”.\nI tried to send out my minimalist visual poetry to different publishers.\nMost time I didn’t get any answers.\nThe story below is one of the several “Warnings” I wrote in Hungarian a\ncouple of years later, already in Budapest.\nI stopped writing in Hungarian many years ago.\n\nWhat are these obstacles for?\nI walked three miles\nto check the mail at our old place\nfor the last time.\nAnd as if it had been organized,\nthe response from Paradigm\nwas there.\nRhode Island.\nThey were four months late.\nHad it been delayed one more day\nit would have been lost.\nIt just did not.\nThen why //not//?\nAnd what’s the use of these obstacles?\n\n—[[Márton Koppány|http://verysmallkitchen.com/2010/09/09/a-primer-in-concrete-david-berridge-and-marton-koppany/]]
Years ago at a restaurant in the Dominican Republic, I ordered some milk for my then two year-old son. My father was concerned that the milk might not be properly pasteurized and so he asked if it was processed and from a can or if it was obtained directly from a local farmer. The waitress spoke [[no English]] and my father spoke no Spanish. After a few [[mutually|Smile]] unintelligible exchanges, my father, in an effort to make himself understood, flapped his arms vigorously like wings and said “Was it flown in, or …” (now, madly simulating milking a cow) “did it come from a cow?” “Flown in? Or from a cow?” he repeated, flapping and milking even more insistently, trying to be understood. The waitress watched all of this impassively, regarding without expression the antics of this earnest but [[manic tourist|Megane]]. She nodded once, as if understanding, left, and then soon returned to neatly lay a teaspoon down beside my father’s plate. What she understood my father’s actions [[to mean|what are these obstacles]], how flying and milking could represent a teaspoon, we’ll never know. But I like to tell this story to illustrate how beautifully ridiculous, how touchingly comic communication can be.\n\n—[[Gary Barwin|http://www.garybarwin.com/]]\n\n[[another vacation story from Gary Barwin]]\n\n
If, as you are reading any portion of this hypertext, you see something that makes you say, “Oh! That reminds me …” and would like to submit that connection for possible inclusion in the story please do the following:\n\n# First, note the passage you were reading when you had your Oh! moment. Most passages are titled, but if yours isn’t, please include the first several words of the passage for reference.\n\n# Then, please review the formatting options available to you within Twee by visiting the reference pages for [[Formatting Passages|http://gimcrackd.com/etc/doc/#basic,formatting]] and [[About Links|http://gimcrackd.com/etc/doc/#basic,links]]\n\n# Next, write and format your passage. \n\n# Finally, send an email to [[danwaber@gmail.com|mailto:danwaber@gmail.com]]. In the body of that email, include the passage(s) you wish to connect with. Let me know if you wish to link off of some specific word or phrase in that passage, or link to your passage at the bottom of the existing passage. Also, please include one URL you would like your byline-name to be linked with.\n\n
Is\n\nI got to Japan in the first place on a false promise. The work I hired on for was insane (write a computer program in COBOL, a language I was not familiar with, and then write a guide in English and they would translate it). But they knew no English and I no Japanese, and the whole thing unraveled pretty quickly. But what really got to me was that I had to stand up and serve tea and bow to whomever came in every single time that damned door opened and fractured any thoughts I had—because I was the only woman working there, and only women will stoop to this stupid hostess role. So in less than a week—I quit you’re fired—and there I was in Japan with less than $100 to my name and no plane ticket home.\n\nThere was a tiny noodle shop just a few feet from the youth hostel—where I was paid up for another 2 nights. I had been going into this noodle shop every morning and every evening anyway, at first because I just liked the big red fish kite that they had above the open doorway, and then later because I wanted something familiar—even if it was only the alien insides of a Japanese noodle shop. It was an elderly father, who walked slowly on crippled knees. The father made spaghetti for me in a wok, throwing the noodles high into the air with enormous chopsticks. And the daughter (or at least a young girl who I dubbed his daughter) bowed to her father and to everyone who came in: / /[[irasshaimase!|horrible waiter]]/ /. Her voice had temple chimes in it, and her lilt on / /irasshaimase!/ / sounded like “irises must stay.” So I had named her “Iris” in my mind.\n\nWhen I went back that night in tears, I explained to Iris that I had no money, really, and would they just let me teach her some English in exchange for food? My Japanese was, of course, non-existent, so this bargaining took a lot of handwringing, [[odd pictures|Megane]] [[on napkins|a different kind of world view]], and pointing. They agreed. So we started. This is … I said. This is a noodle. This is a chair. This is a book. This is a chicken. The father and the daughter repeated these words back to me solemnly. This is. This is. Whatever there is, this is.\n\nAnd they fed me.\n\n—[[Deena Larsen|http://www.deenalarsen.net/]]
Not yet [[dead|another vacation story from Gary Barwin]] on the Orient Express\n\nSo I got to Poland from Thailand by way of Russian Aeroflot, and promptly became extremely ill from all the cigarette smoke and that enforced stay in a concrete bunker in Kazakhstan while they fixed the motors. But I persevered and went on from Poland to my friend in Czechoslovakia (as the Russians retreated and the Beer Party came into its own—along with the other parties). And he took one look at me and got me to a hospital. The doctor there told me not to say anything, and to be bloody mute whenever anyone passed by. And she patched me up. But of course, my visa ran out before my temperature did. So my friend drove me over the border to Hungary and put me up in a nursing home/hostel there. And I was still ill when my visa ran out there. I overstayed by a day or so, so I had to get on a train quickly before they figured it out. And I boarded the Orient Express bound for East Germany. But the train didn’t start for a while, and the bathrooms were locked while the train was in the station. Someone saw me being ill from the back window. So they pulled me off the train and looked at my passport with the expired visa. And then lots of words in Hungarian as we are standing on the platform and then this skinny kid comes and pulls me back onto the train and says “[[No words|no English]] now. You say nothing. You do nothing. You keep going.” I nodded. After all, no one knew who was in charge at that point. Yugoslavia next door was falling to pieces, there was [[anarchy everywhere|Smile]], and the Russian soldiers still were looking under every plank for the Yanks. \n\nThey had given me back my passport with the now expired visa, but they had kept my ticket. And the train started to move. And the conductor came down the aisles. So I ducked into a tiny berth and shut the door. And there was a woman there who hid me under her seat behind her suitcase. I’m not sure I should tell the rest of the story.\n\n—[[Deena Larsen|http://www.deenalarsen.net/]]
An Ocean Blue\n\nThe heart of America went blue in effort of equality for the wake of the negotiation of her leaders like baseball cards. The Dow was down and sunk that night. Hearts were high. A trickle trickled down into a river of blue for eight years of something sad. And then the shock, awe, and amazement went down drains far longer than three or more story buildings, turned to the dust of time.\n\nThere is the story of a President and Presidency, too scorned too early and left somewhere in Texas. There were parades on a night on Pennsylvania Avenue and rampant ramps of people gushing from polls, buoys in the middle. To catch fish, to see a shark, to drink a water wont of salt, we dried our eyes.\n\nWe can, came to do and did to change, a current of hope’s beacon spreading like wildfire across states roaring like Lincoln’s locomotive, like Lake Erie freights, like a hurricane. Ohio set a night, a stage, a standard We set the pillow afar from a night’s hesitating sleep for the nation’s decision of the whole of the matter because we are the heart. Because with jelly legs and dumb arms we flew to the set in the morning to see the sight on into knowing the will of the people, not owned or greater than the sum of its parts, for we went blue.\n\nNetworks worked the numbers of it, the color, the form and diversity of it, spinning gladly the wheels of time, of opinion and, foremost, an election. Looking back we could have been any color. Looking back changed fields of grain or corn for a day, even swamps of heartache, about bills thereby left at the counter and left unopened, thereby dignified at a trying, into a hope: a red cardinal, those brown eyes and then the blue all so slight from the shores of Africa, an ocean of people gone deep blue.\n\n—[[Chris Bowen|http://www.burningriver.info/]]
A couple crunch and stomp into a bar, one happy couple. They are famished and order the first thing without a face on a scrawled menu by the door. They are cut with a happiness that lets them bury themselves into the new environment. They move in a comfortable settling silence, even as blood returns to their extremities in a violent rush. Unveiled, she fumbles in her pockets for her cancer sticks and related accoutrements. He kicks the snow off of his boots beneath the table.\n\nThe waitress, when she comes, is tired, smiles and accepts their smiles in return as her due. She begins to recite the specials, tapping her dry hands unselfconsciously, unaware that they have already placed orders with the bartender. She frowns over at the silent man behind the bar, pouring out the hoped-for poisons. The bartender gives the waitress a half wave acknowledging no claim on the table tips. He is friendly and sanguine now, revealing nothing. Around closing, when the drunks predictably complain loudly or morosely, he is also quiet but firm and churned up inside with a temper. Around him there is the buzz of a well-filled bar moving in a jostling awkward rhythm. Everybody seeks another’s eyes or else the forgiveness of public isolation and intoxication. His name is Jake, her first cousin.\n\nWhen the waitress walks back behind the kitchen, she peers out through the cook’s hole at the happy couple. He is flipping through a notebook, jotting down something. She smokes across from him, using a cold metal cigarette holder, contributing quietly and irregularly to his writing. He does not appear to mind the second-hand smoke, as if it were a natural condition of their shared environment, as if its drift were part of their fragmented conversation. The waitress, whose name is Rachel (named after the replicant), strives to pick out faults in the two of them. She does not usually do this, but there is a simplicity that seems to occlude, preclude, casual ill-wishing. Rachel’s weak eyes fashion onto the cigarette holder. Now she is able to see the age around his eyes, and that the woman’s shoes are inappropriate for the weather, for the town. She remembers the feeling of when she was younger and had been lost in cold evening weather, when she climbed into the back of a taxi. The man asked her where she wanted to go, and she didn’t know, and he said she needed money, and she felt her neck burn. Rachel does not know that her neck turns purple and splotchy when she has that feeling, as she does now looking out at the happy couple.\n\nThe man says to his lover, “We won’t remember this town.” She smiles lazily, for it does not matter if they do or don’t, did or didn’t. The splotchy waitress stumbles upon them, spilling the drinks onto the notebook. The woman suspects that it is deliberate, but gives no indication. Everybody is always trying to jump into their lives. It is all they can do to keep the world out. She says nothing about the missing cigarette holder, nor other things without true existence.\n\n—[[Gregory Betts|http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/betts/]]
OLD POET SITS IN THE BACK\n\nof the Everyday Gourmet Cafe daily    his needs re:turn to see what has been done on her be\n-half   when that son-of-a-bitch dilettante husband of hers   suddenly  went back to his mother in S (e)oul     left this whit-haired poet with his poems’ de:sires   She serves him and he eats from her plate cat-fish patties jump off the plate into his lap she   I swear   jumps into his lap cat-fish jumps and\nswims away   Her red lips the color of pomegranate   her kisses are served on a red plate are light and moist and He loves the Juicy hugs she him in front of her father freely gives de:lights the other ‘customers’  who rise just ahead of his want  She gazes directly into his eyes / into his memories   Mind-rippened\nCay-Cay Fruit  pink   succulent not much larger than her breasts are small persimmons are her offerings  Play is in-the-open  Fingers into her\nlong-black-hair hangs down   disheveling\n\n<html><img src="Hairdo2.jpg"></html>\n\n—[[Ed Baker|http://edbaker.maikosoft.com/]]
a collaborative hypertext\n\nby \n\nyou and you and you \nand you and you and\nyou and you and you\n
There was a restaurant in Florence, the name — if you knew Italian — said it all:\n\nI CHE C’E’ C’E’\n\nwhich is not even Italian but a form of Tuscan dialect, it can be translated with “Whatever there is, [[there is|Is]],” in the sense that you get what they have, not more not less, and … do not be too pretentious! They had just opened it and, if I am not wrong, I was invited by two friends who were best friends and for a while had included me, too, in their friendship. One an artist, the other a sort of //I will plan later what I will do with my life// person, still brilliant. Those were my university years, and a paid dinner was a star. We were the only customers, the owner was the waiter and the cook, and he just delivered us a dish. Was it good or bad, it was probably good the hungry I always was, still he did not try to be too nice to us. He grumbled and made us feel more like obsolete objects rather than people who would give him money for his service. There is a certain mountain quality in this behavior, and also a certain savoir-faire. In the sense that a host like this made it clear from the start that “if you are able to entertain me, then I might be kind, otherwise I just do not care at all.” I am sure we made him smile at the end, because he handed a rough and heavy slap on the shoulder of my artist-friend when we said good-bye.\n\n—[[Anny Ballardini|http://annyballardini.blogspot.com/]]