To contrast the great many things that have gone right with this trip, my biggest mistake so far has been not bringing my notebook with me. I thought about it. It’s at home in the typewriter case I generally carry on my person to and from work, in the car, etc., that’s also filled with CDs. My reasoning in not bringing it was that I had the laptop and this site would fill any note-taking need that might arise.
That’s been one of the most surprising things about it since the beginning, over three years ago now. I used to write furiously in notebooks. Creative nonfiction, memoir, personal journal, poems, any other word you might want to substitute for “diary,” and I was right in there — I just called it “taking notes” — but I guess the daily writing itch got transposed onto The Obelisk. Apparently, anyway. I haven’t filled a notebook in years. It used to be a matter of months. And I’d just buy one here somewhere, but (of course) I have a very specific kind I use and wouldn’t want to start one that’s the wrong kind and not have it be in another one that’s already started and it’s a big weirdo complex obsessive compulsive thing, so sorry if it doesn’t make sense.
Nonetheless, there have been things I’ve seen that I’ve forgotten to note, images that I’ve wanted to remember, that I’ve had to let go of in that moment. The tall trees lining Avenue de la Bourdonnais in Paris. Listening to Mars Red Sky and Alcest at Gare du Nord this morning on the iContraption while staring up at the big board and waiting to find out what track my train would be on, drinking the espresso I properly ordered in French (bit of vindication there for fucking up that same process two years ago in Brussels). Today I started to take pictures to help me remember, though I wasn’t sure how to convey the fact that I couldn’t stay still for too long at Gare du Nord without being asked for change in a way that wasn’t totally rude.
Paris was beautiful though. I know it might not seem like I “did it up” or anything like that, but just because a bottle of wine and a sandwich is probably what I’d be doing were I back in my humble river valley doesn’t mean that I also didn’t enjoy myself immensely. It was more about being there. And I was there. I saw the Eiffel Tower. I smelled the Seine. I took in equestrian statues and gorgeous architecture and felt totally overwhelmed by what to my outsider eyes looked like the total perfection of the European ideal. If it wasn’t so miserable weather-wise, I might have explored more, but maybe not. It was less than 24 hours that I was there, but fuck it, I was there.
Last night when I posted that I was heading to Schiphol to come to Eindhoven, the faulty logic in my routing was responded to almost immediately, and that’s genuinely appreciated. I wound up taking a train from Paris to Rotterdam and then switching trains to go from Rotterdam to Eindhoven, and I just got here a little more than an hour ago. It was a Thalys, which wasn’t as lush as the Eurostar I took yesterday from London to Paris (was that yesterday?), but still nicer than any airliner I’ve ever had the misfortune to occupy. The train passed through Tilburg on route, and I saw they had giant Roadburn 2012 banners outside the Tilburg station, like the flags you’d see in a college town in the States the first week of the semester. I could only assume there’s a big, “Welcome, Awkward Doomers” sign on the ground level, but I’ll have to wait until I get there tomorrow to find out for sure. Got my fingers crossed.
It’s good to be back in the Netherlands. I’m still almost completely ignorant of the language beyond “dank u wel” and “alstublieft,” so it hardly feels like home, but even in being out of my element, the Netherlands is more familiar to me than was Paris, though I have more command of the French language — just enough to be initiate a conversation and then have the other person switch to English because they’re tired of hearing me murder their mother tongue. I had on the new The Machine record on the way and was listening to the quiet beginning of “Behind” by Sungrazer as I rolled past a group of rabbits chasing each other around open farmland just outside Dordrecht. The iContraption has weak bass, even with the boost turned on in the EQ, but the warmth of tone came through anyway.
My point is that the relative familiarity of it here is comforting. When I came out of the train station, I just followed a couple turns through the market square until I recognized a statue from looking at it on Google Maps last night and found my hotel from there. I had no directions, and just made the turns that felt right. That’s more bearings than I’ve had in five days, though by the end of Desertfest, I was beginning to feel like I had a handle on those couple blocks of Camden Town. Still. I just got here, and I’ve never been to Eindhoven before, so I think it’s a different scale all around.
I also passed by The Rambler on my way out of the train station, which is where I’ll go in a little bit to catch Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight with Stubb and Stone Axe. I guess I’ll probably bring the camera, just for fun, and maybe do a writeup tonight or tomorrow. I’ll have some time tomorrow and if I can just find a spot to relax when I go to Tilburg in advance of Roadburn starting up on Thursday, that’d be ideal. No problem spending all day in front of the laptop at some outdoor cafe or something like that, weather permitting. It’s rained more or less every day of this trip. Made me glad I’m not flying, what with the whole “airborne deathboxes” thing and all.
Tags: Desertfest & Roadburn Adventure 2012, Eindhoven, The Netherlands