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To the Zmir
I live in Istanbul. That's the deal for the time being.
I liked atlases more than Barney when I was a kid. So, when I got old enough, I started going places. Idaho eventually expanded into Canada into Europe into the Middle East and the Caucasus into East Asia. I've had a lot of great times, some bad. I mean, I'm certainly not average old Joe Smith, #1 draft pick out of Maryland and current hanger on on various NBA teams that think Joe Smith's experience is valuable. I'm different, in a way. I'd love to be, but I'm not a nightclub going person. I'm not dozens of centimeters taller. One thing I think is difficult with people is assumptions. We all have talents and flaws. In my case, the talents are extreme and the flaws are extreme. I have an excellent memory; I remember when I was uneducated in the ways of romance and I was twenty and I was studying abroad in Turkey and all of these (attractive) females were struggling to tell each other their dorm phone numbers. Was I a total nerd who told everybody their phone number because I had memorized the entire list? Yes. Did I end up ruining my chances of dating any of those girls (except one)? Yes. Did I solve the problem? Abso-doggone-lutely, my friend. Everybody ended up having their goldurn number and whatever if they thought I was a weirdo. I've changed, sure. Yes, I can remember all the countries and capitals of the world and all the square numbers up to infinity and such and all the US Presidents by year and every English monarch, so remembering other things shouldn't be a huge detail. But university taught me how to lie effectively, so, whatever. After reading this, I noticed I hadn't mentioned any necessary flaws. I'm very small (although my shoe size is 9 1/2 in the US form, much above average), I have a bone disorder which limits the rotation of my hands and my size, and I don't speak fluent Mandarin Chinese.
I live my life for the possibility of tomorrow. I'm a unique person. Yes, odd. But in an esoteric, charming sort of way, right? Anyways, the things that I know, the skills that I have, lead me to a life unplanned yet always with intrigue. I am a wild card, and I barely know what I'm going to do tomorrow, so it's kind of difficult for others to know. And I like that. It's sort of empowering to know that anything could happen. And I've spent my life trying to increase the diameter of the sphere of anything, because the word anything's relative, isn't it? When we say anything, it's relative to who you are, how you approach life, etc. And the more you increase knowledge, skills, your willingness to face the unexpected/fears or do things that are risky, that increases the diameter of your relative sphere of anything. Some people face a life predictable; that's fair. But it's not my way. Could I get married tomorrow? Yes, absolutely. Could I be in Johannesburg tomorrow? Sure, it's possible. I stare in front of me literally at a wall, but I live in the moment; I stand ready to embrace what opportunities are in front of me, danger or no.
Why I’m on Couchsurfing
HOW I PARTICIPATE IN COUCHSURFING
I would love to host people. I'm really interested in meeting local people-I find it difficult starting out just with a hostel and a guidebook sometimes. I have at times been fairly involved in CS, and am happy to provide leadership/direction if necessary.
I've hosted some people, stayed with others, met others. I have Couchsurfing experience in Albania, Croatia, Tunisia, Ukraine, the USA, Senegal and Portugal, and now, Argentina. Those places are so completely different from one another that I can't begin to describe my experiences. All good experiences, nothing terrible has happened.
My best experience: I stayed with some Nigerian shoe salesmen in a really hard to find suburb of Dakar, Senegal. I worried them a bit when I said I was going out walking, and then kind of got lost in some kind of local dance event, but figured out how to get back to their building. And that night, as we slept, three guys on two mattresses in one tiny room, I was able to use their ancient desktop to connect to the Internet and watch the World Series (baseball) with a brilliant connection. It was just the weirdest thing, being in very difficult conditions, but yet, being able to connect to my own country.
Travel, geography, history, books, computers, sports-mostly American, US football, basketball, baseball; though I'm not ignant (I prefer the Southern form) about soccer.
I'll note here that I'm a writer by passion. Well, you write what, exactly? I get asked. Stream of conciousness-type satire often about politics and religion, I guess? What is your current novel about? Um, it's like an interpretation of Dante's Divine Comedy constructed in chapters which correspond to golf holes on a specific course? Yes, all the titles are "Hole X: Par 4, 470 yards, dogleg left, winds at x mph, best play is..." Well, that's a bit strange, isn't it? But it's part of who I am. And being a writer, I am extremely verbose. I will send messages that look like short stories. It's out of love, really. And I type 95 words a minute, so I can be verbose and yet not spend eons writing a message.
Music, Movies, and Books
Movie tastes range from actually good (Lawrence of Arabia) to lovably terrible. If you share my love of either Pure Luck, Weekend at Bernie's, or Forces of Nature, we're destined to be lifelong friends.
As far as books go, I like and write postmodern fiction. There is possibly no author whose works intrigue me more than Thomas Pynchon (Gravity's Rainbow, Crying of Lot 49). Existentialist works are also fun. Because it's in my nature, I do enjoy mystery/detective fiction.
Um, music, 70's or 80's or 90's, please. None of that previous decade or this current one. Though I do love a catchy, stupid song. I've got to admit, that if I ever speak Romanian to you, it's because I know all the words to Dragostea din Tei, and I can figure out ways to manipulate those words (I know some other stuff 'cuz I went to Romania and Moldova). "Sunt eu, Picasso", ah, "Eu sunt Charles."
One Amazing Thing I’ve Done
Ending up in Rome the same day Pope Benedict XVI was elected, taking a motorcycle tour of Cappadocia with my girlfriend, crashing an Iranian students' picnic near Yazd, Iran, nearly being thrown off an Iranian train for "making people laugh," proving that you can travel in Mali in the middle of the night (albeit in the cab of a pickup truck with seventeen freezing Malians who are wondering what you're doing there)
Teach, Learn, Share
One thing that I have found, and it's natural for me, but may not be for others is that caring to learn some of the local language can be important. Here, I'm not talking about major languages like Spanish, French, Italian, German. You might need those languages to get around, and they're good to know, but the reality is that those are the most commonly taught languages. People in countries which speak those languages will appreciate your speaking them, but what I'm trying to say is don't forget the little guys. You might think Hungarian or Bulgarian or Albanian or Turkish are not particularly useful languages. You're right, if you live in the US or UK. But if you go to such countries, and familiarize yourself with the language to a small extent (you don't have to be fluent, just 10-100 words) you will have an amazing experience. You might be treated differently than you thought was possible. I speak Turkish well, and my experiences are very different from other travelers I know who have been to Turkey. I almost always have an invite to somebody's home to stay the night and eat, and the shock level is palpable. Speaking more tangibly useful languages is great and awesome, but it has not gotten me the level of respect that speaking less taught languages. To provide a more feasible example, I speak about 50-100 words of Albanian. Nobody in any foreign country learns Albanian in university. Their first question is usually, "are you Albanian by heritage?" When you say no and stammer through their language, their hearts open up and suddenly a difficult country to navigate becomes one of the best experiences of your life. So, go to small countries, learn a bit of their language, and see what happens. I'm pretty sure it'll surprise you.
Countries I’ve Visited
Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kosovo, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Martinique, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Oman, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Togo, Vatican City State, Virgin Islands, U.S.
Countries I’ve Lived In
Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Yemen