The Squeaky Robot

A Meddling Robot in a Human's World

Posts from the “Story time!!” Category

Fish in Ice

Posted on August 3, 2012

A tune, perhaps? She begins speaking to me. Excellent English with a slight German accent. A few sentences in, I ask if I could record her. “It was cloudy like this when I first met him,” she says. “Walls of rain will come down later, by the way.” She asks if I’d like to relocate to some kind of shelter. I tell her I don’t mind the rain, I prefer it actually. She continues: “I don’t know where the beginning of this story is. But would you like to hear it?” “Only if you want to tell it.” I hear thunder in the distance. A breeze picks up and swirls dead leaves in a tiny cyclone a few meters away. “He is Austrian, I…

Photo Essay: An Austrian Love

Posted on August 2, 2012

I feel glad to be alone here. I’m often at peace, but the calm is especially pronounced as I wind through the Bavarian Alps. The crystal clear water probably splashes clarity. Talking with some Argentinians in Amsterdam, they find out I’m traveling alone. Then they relinquish a group “awww” and look at me with sad brown eyes, saying preciosa and pobrecita. Poor me, indeed! Achieving my travel dreams whether or not someone will accompany me on them! And then this thing called cultural relativism kicks in: to them, it’s extremely unorthodox for a young blonde woman to go without steady companionship for extended periods of time, especially in foreign places.  But I say in Spanish with that unique Argentine flare as I point to…

Welcome to Austria!

Posted on July 31, 2012

 I seldom do narratives on this blog because I seldom pull them off, but I’m going to try anyway. Yesterday I was in a cozy Stockholm suburb, today I am in Salzburg. There is something exhausting and comforting about transit. It’s kind of like scuba diving: long hours of relative peace and serenity peppered with moments of hurried panic (will I make the train? Shit, I’m on the wrong platform!!). And then you arrive, eventually, and the world seems still again. From Stockholm I fly to Munich. I intend on staying in the city for at least a day; I have been there before, but it truly is a gorgeous place and the weather is beyond agreeable. And so I quickly book the cheapest…

Every American is Obese

Posted on July 27, 2012

Americans don’t travel internationally as much as Europeans. Not only am I not knowledgeable enough to explain why this is, I’m not ready to speak for the entire country. Money issues? Lack of curiosity or interest? Societal pressures to work as soon as school finishes? Fear? These speculations have the potential to go on ad infinitum, so I just won’t speculate. As a result, people ask questions when they find out where I’m from. They ask about the ‘typical’ American – what do we eat? What do we do for fun? What are the obesity rates nowadays? The Swedish image of the typical American is horrid – fat, heavy breathing, languid, speaking in a slow Southern drawl that parallels an equally slow intellect. Then…

Exodus

Posted on July 17, 2012

“Travel is little beds and cramped bathrooms. It’s old television sets and slow Internet connections. Travel is extraordinary conversations with ordinary people. It’s waiters, gas station attendants, and housekeepers becoming the most interesting people in the world. It’s churches that are compelling enough to enter. It’s McDonald’s being a luxury. It’s the realization that you may have been born in the wrong century. Travel is a smile that leads to a conversation in broken English. It’s the epiphany that pretty girls smile the same way all over the world. Travel is tipping 10% and being embraced for it. Travel is the same white T-shirt again tomorrow. Travel is accented sex after good wine and too many unfiltered cigarettes. Travel is flowing in the back…

Squeaky Robot’s Guide to Packing Light

Posted on July 12, 2012

Rule #1: Forget everything on your list. I used to regard the whole business of packing dubiously. It would either seem too hard or too easy; either way, I would omit something crucial and then realize it at the exact moment of necessity. Like my passport at the check-in desk. Sunglasses on a blindingly sunny day somewhere near the Equator. Plug adapters upon arrival to my place of stay, usually just as my camera’s battery depletes. I cannot count the number of times I’ve said: “It seems I’ve forgotten my phone charger”, quickly followed by, “it seems I’ve forgotten my phone”.  The bright side? It makes for a substantially lighter backpack. Substantially. Rule #2: When in doubt, throw it out. Let’s get real. Do…

Southern Peru/Bolivia ’81-’83

Posted on June 13, 2012

Rummaging through old dusty boxes in a dark forgotten corner of the house that is seldom visited by beings other than spiders. Oversized Ralph Lauren button-down. Vintage linen. Hair in messy bun. Random strands either stick out, electrified, or rest lazily on my face. Bare feet. Black nail polish. I look down at my finger to see my grandmother’s beloved sapphire ring that she gifted to me four years ago. It was gifted to her in the seventies. I look like my grandma when she was young. The ring hasn’t left my finger, an adopted appendage. I notice it can use a cleaning. These boxes are overflowing with photos, spilling, drowning, each a tiny memento of the history of my family. My mother documented…

In Response to Those Who’ve Said I’m Too Opaque as a Blogger:

Posted on June 5, 2012

“Pretend to be good always, and even God will be fooled.” is my favorite quote. It was written by Vonnegut, one of my favorite writers. I’m blonde, blue-eyed, and stand at 5 foot 9. Good posture. I’m neither skinny nor fat. I have a defined jawline, a face shape that goes from oval to square to circle depending on the day – I can’t explain this phenomenon – and freckles in the proper lighting. I’m occasionally pretty, but in a weird sort of way. All the other days I would probably be mistaken for a male if it weren’t for certain feminine features. Some days I’m very busy with matters of extreme importance. Most other days I can be found laying on the ground…

On History, Poland, and its Woods

Posted on May 17, 2012

The Second World snugly finds its place between the First and Third worlds. These are constructs of the Cold War, antiquated political categorizations that pigeonhole the world as we know it into a neat, fun, digestible grouping of three. The Second World isn’t halfway between ‘developed’ and ‘undeveloped’, but simply denotes countries that are communist or have recently been communist and have retained a certain Leninist flavor in their renovations, despite progressive efforts, in some places, to try to dispel it. In fact we don’t really hear the term anymore, probably because modern day communism fails to resemble traditional communism in any shape or form. Direct observation of China’s version of communism tells me, for example, that it’s little more than capitalism on steroids.…

On Food, Pho, and Ends

Posted on May 11, 2012

I celebrate everything with food. Food is the natural follow-up, the obvious supplement to all of life’s joys, sorrows, and monotomy. When I’m feeling particularly nostalgic for someplace different and far away, which is every single minute of every single day, I escape to DC’s various ethnic hole-in-the-walls. No english, no white people, hearty meals, gargantuan portions, and tiny out-of-pocket prices. Cash only.  Indeed, such a craving made itself known just before I exited the District for a long time. I quit my job, my work there is done, and I won’t be back until January after I return from my Petersburgian winter epoch, presumably alive. So to celebrate such an occasion, the occasion of seeing something to its end (in this case, another…