i have adventures (sometimes)

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Zayn Malik's Face and the Humble Lángos Stand

When last we left our heroine (I use the term loosely as I have no real heroic qualities), she was debating the merits of going out to enjoy her last night in Budapest.

She did not do that.

She is switching back to the first person now.

But I did stay in and hang out with very nice hostel guests and staff, some of whom shared their broccoli with me. Broccoli is my favourite and people are pretty cool too, so all around a good choice. My sore feet thanked me.

As my flight was only in the afternoon, I went out in the morning to see the Parliament, pretty much the one major sight I hadn't ticked off my list. It is a good looking building.

I don't know who the statue is.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Arms Race; Legs Fail

I started off my day yesterday with a trip to the Central Market Hall for gift shopping.


I am terrible at gift shopping, and so it was overwhelming and upsetting. The thing is, I really do love and care about the people in my life, but I'm bad at remembering what they like (and, importantly, what they hate), and I have no idea how to find the balance between touristy souvenirs and things people might actually want.

I'm forever glad that my Latin friends and I have a tradition of buying one another key rings on our travels. Key rings I can do. It's everything else that's the problem.

I CAN DO THIS.

So now I've spent all my Forints. On things I hope are not terrible.

Everyone gets scooter sculptures?

Monday, 23 March 2015

Creative Skin Diseases from Strangers

Budapest!
Budapest Keleti station.
I've been staring at a blank screen for a while, because I hardly know where to start in writing about Budapest.

It's incredible. It's both familiar and like nowhere I've ever been. I don't feel like I have any sort of handle on it yet. In Vienna, for example, I had the sense I could stay there for two days or two years (but not two weeks). Bratislava was perfect for a day or two, but I wouldn't want to live there. Budapest... I have no idea. I feel like I could stay here for ages, but I have no sense of what it would be like to live here. A lot of the city is clearly geared for tourists, but I don't have any real feeling of what it's like beyond that.

So it's great. But also still one big question mark.

I arrived on Saturday night to find my very unassuming little hostel. I only call it unassuming because I don't know the word that means less than that but still isn't derogatory. It doesn't even assume to assume. It's unsignposted (but easy to find, as they sent excellent directions), and is run out of a converted flat in a very ordinary apartment block.

This front door makes no assumptions whatsoever.
Crouching apartment building, hidden hostel.
But inside it's perfectly lovely, and the staff are friendly, and they have an ancient laptop for guests to use, which is infinitely better than trying to blog using my tablet, which at this stage is pretty much good only for hammering in nails.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Bratislava II: The Weekendening

Content note: discussion of rape culture.

I decided to stay another night in Bratislava so I could at least spend a full day there and not arrive in Budapest in the dark. The hostel I'd stayed in was booked up for Friday night, so I couldn't extend my stay. "We're expecting a big British group," she said.
I'm really bad at recognising foreshadowing when I see it.

As it turns out, Weekend Bratislava is where all the other Europeans come to have stag parties and get drunk cheaply. I do not like Weekend Bratislava.

But I'll come back to that.

So I moved my stuff 600m down the hill to my new hostel (accidentally abandoning my tomatoes at the old one - tomatoes, you will be missed), and then set out for a day in the city.

Stuff does not get going early in Bratislava. Maybe it's a March thing, but even by 10am there was just no one really around. But with the sun shining, it was nice and pretty and peaceful.

Looking good, Bratislava (population: 3).
Looking like this guy.
"Well, I'd describe my time in Bratislava as confusing and terrifying... So I guess I'm looking for the perfect souvenir to reflect that?"

Friday, 20 March 2015

The Climbing of Poles and the Kindness of Strangers

Yesterday morning dawned sunny and cold, and I headed out early to visit Schönbrunn Palace. Well, the outside. I'm not actually super interested in palaces, and nothing can ever really top the time Emily and I missed the audio guides at Hampton Court and so instead took ourselves on an entirely made up fantasy tour involving werewolves and vampires ("Interestingly, this bowl of fake fruit was placed here because the sphere is the shape most upsetting to the vampire."). We got a lot of funny looks from the attendants.

So instead I visited the gardens, which were free. Like a lot of places I visited in Vienna, I found myself thinking "I bet this looks really great in summer". It was pretty bleak and wintery, but it was still a good place for a stroll.
The outside is perfectly nice.
The Gloriette.
View from the Gloriette.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Giant Rocks and Lettuce Bombs

Depending on how much you like me and/or Vienna, you may be pleased to know that after my initial cold, lonely and sad day, I (a) wore my jacket, (b) made new friends and (c) saw a whole lot of cool things, and now I like Vienna a whole lot more.
Somewhere palatial. 
If you don't like me and/or Vienna, then I'm sorry to have disappointed you and I hope this blog gives you many happy hours of hate reading.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

I Don't Know About You, but I'm Feeling... 26?

And we're off! With Taylor Swift in my ears and my trusty £2 travel scarf around my neck. (Trustworthiness of other items of clothing yet to be established.)

Hello from blurry Vienna! 
First off, can I please just say how impressed I am with my packing skills? My usual backpack is (probably?) in storage somewhere since my parents moved, so instead I have this little guy, and I've finally discovered roll packing. I thought people who did that were just part of some weird cult, but several instructional YouTube videos later, I have a beautifully packed small suitcase in which I can actually find things. LIFE. CHANGED.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Whisked Away by Whims

I sidle back in. 

You glance up.

But you're cool. You're chilled. You don't make it weird.

It's been over a year since we last saw each other. So much has happened in that time. Am I the same person? Are you? You wonder whether those questions even have meaning in a world where memory is constructed and time is an illusion. (You heard that on a podcast and think it sounds deep.)

You stare at your browser. It stares back. Nietzsche was right. Except that there are more cat videos.

Our eyes meet, just for a second...

THEN I YELL AT YOU IN ALL CAPS ABOUT MY LIFE! BECAUSE THAT'S THE SORT OF PERSON I AM!

HELLO!

(Image from David Tennant News but also literally everywhere.)

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Guest Post: Emmie's Story

It's my second ever guest post! After I posted my untestimony, one of the things that struck me was how willing people were to share their own stories. It prompted me to invite a few people to tell them publicly.If you would like to tell your story of transition out of or into faith, nonymously or anonymously, I'd love to post it. Let me know.

Emmie sent me this one a shamefully long time ago. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and then panic and ignore all my emails and messages until it would be more awkward for me to reply than not. And that was what I did here. But this is a story that deserves to be told, and not just because the writer is so talented (her debut novel is being published later this year!), but because this is a beautiful, thoughtful and very personal story. So I owe her a big apology for waiting this long.



I became a Christian when I was fifteen years old.

My sister had converted when she married a Christian, and that summer she invited me to a Bible study with her where the pastor stuck me on the hot seat and started reciting my life verbatim.

You see, I didn't realize at the time, but my sister had told Pastor Matt everything about our family, from my drug-addicted father to our gay moms to my self-esteem issues -- and he hit on every single point. It wasn't hard to convince me after that skillful playing of my unwitting heartstrings that Jesus would help me deal with my pubescent angst.

What I wanted most was a father and acceptance, and he offered both of those things. At least that's what I thought.

For years later, people would come up and congratulate me on finding Christ in spite of such a background.

My parents divorced when I was two. I grew up in abject poverty with a bisexual mother who was mostly involved with women for about 12 years of my early life, including the woman who brought my sister and brothers to our little family.

Growing up we had next to nothing, and I estimate that I have spent at least seven years of my life without having access to a real toilet or shower at home. We were also forced to move many times -- in my twenty-seven years, I have lived in over thirty-five homes, fifteen cities, eight states, and three countries.

In spite of the financial hardship, I had a loving and joyful childhood surrounded by the GLBTQ community. I had heaps of aunties running around rural Alaska who adored me, and later in Portland my favorite neighbors were a gay couple I loved. They had a Mexican hairless dog and a pot-bellied pig called Veronica, and they always welcomed me when I’d ride by on my bike.

When we left Alaska for Oregon, my mom sang in the Portland Lesbian Choir and took me to Pride each year. And Nee-Nee (as I called her) was another mother to me, often more emotionally stable than my own mom. On my wedding day this year I made sure to call Neeshonee. She was instrumental in my upbringing and taught me to respect the earth, to honor myself, and to create things with my hands. She is a beautiful woman, and I am a better person for her having been a part of my life.

But of course, my new church considered most of my upbringing sinful.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

I Guess I'm a Derby Girl Now

17:38 Posted by Ali , , No comments
It's hard to know where to start when talking about roller derby. So let's start with my first time on skates.

Wheels, wat r u doin. Wheels, stahp.
No, before that.

Last year, I went to watch my first roller derby bout. Dasia explained the rules to me - and I mapped them onto Quidditch rules so that I could understand them* - and told me which team to cheer for, and I was hooked.

And I decided immediately that I would never ever be as cool as derby girls.

Shortly after I watched my second bout, the Jo'burg league put out a call for new skaters, and I decided, cool or not (hint: not) that I was just going to have to give it a try.