Day 1: Off on the robotic pterodactyls
I think im still a little bit in shock that we actually got this tour started. I’m starting to write this at 37,000 feet somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean a little beyond Nova Scocia. It seems like everything had been pointing towards delay of the tour after the last few days of anxiously watching hurricane news and having all the airports close and stay closed. As Sand hit we were stressed and worried first and foremost about our home, friends, community and our city. Not far from our minds was the question of if we’d even make it out of the city. In the end JFK opened and we were the second flight from our airline that made it to out of NYC to Europe and thanks to some dear fried with a car and 2/3 of a tank of gas they were willing to use in the midst of the citys gas shortage we even made it to the airport (it proved impossible to get a car to agree to schedule a car to get us to the airport). It was surreal to be flying out Thursday night- everyone at the airport seemed shocked to actually be there. I don’t think I was prepared for what it would actually be like to fly in the midst of storm recovery – as we took off looking out the window all I could see was darkness. I’ve flown out of JFK many times and it was unlike anything Ive ever seen. Intellectually of course I knew that most of Long Island and big parts of Queens were still without power but I definitely don’t think I was prepared for what it would look like to see from above.
Day 2: Berlin!!!!
Hard to believe that it was yesterday when we left home, mostly it just feels like its been one very very long day. I slept pretty well on the flight from NYC to Dublin. The best part of the flight was a few of the times that I woke up and looked out the window it really looked like I was flying amongst the stars! Our airline even served dinner at about midnight – little bits of my favorite tillamock cheese and tofu! We landed in Dublin about 4am and had a couple of hours to explore the airport find some breakfast and postcards and look at the candy that’s different from the states.
We landed in Berlin and Kestryl who is good at all things navigating got us through public transit to our hotel and then we managed thai food for lunch and walked around a little bit before we could actually get into our room. I had a lily it of a meltdown in the room – exhaustion of traveling for nearly 24 hours and sleeping on a plane combined with feeling like everything was different and I couldn’t quite get my bearings. After a shower, a good cry, setting up all my special little dinosaur and my little pony toys and some major love and support from Kestryl and texting <3 from my Uncle I was doing much better and actually ready to venture out - which was good since it was time for the first event of the tour!!!!
On our way to the venue we stumbled upon a dog food store - they had a meat counter!! Dog freak that I am I took pictures and have been totally fascinated!
My reading took place at an amazing punk and feminist queer space in Berlin called Faq. It had a wood burning stow for heat and the walls were covered with art, posters for protests, events, and handwritten signs of folks looking for roommates in communal houses. It was an amazing space to be in especially with reading from Roving Pack. Walking around the space I knew that all of the Roving Pack characters would have LOVED being there and felt right at home. The evening was called "Home Truths" and I got to share the event with two increrdible local writers Margret Steenblock and Tanja Abou who's work is also focused on homelessness, rejection by and of biological family, and the creation of chosen family.
I was a little nervous about how folks would respond to Roving Pack. The book is still so new and Im gauging audience responses and not only was this the first time sharing it with an audience in Europe but it was also my first time in Europe! I was grateful to have been warned ahead of time that in general audiences in Germqny were not particularly responsive during readings and for the reminder to be sure and read slowly as the bulk of my audience wast a native English speaker, and the plan to translate e section I was reading unfortunately fell through. It was incredible though to see what happened-- it really felt like everything read- the nuance of queer and punk communities and even the Portland specific references- after the reading several folks approached me talking about having wanted to move to Portland in the late 90's because of riot grrrrl and zines!
Also, did I mention that I got to be interviewed by a unicorn?! Emma out amazing event organizer wore her kigarumi which of course made me miss my dinosaur one!
After the show we got dinner with some great queers a couple of whom we'd known in NYC and others from all over the world but who are calling Berlin home. It was incredible to talk art and creativity kink and queer ness with that group!!!
Day 3- Playgrounds, gummy bears and gender
I think that we managed to beat jet leg and slept like logs in our hotel. Woke up nice and and early to go find breakfast and then began adventuring!!! We found an amazing playground with a huge slide and a zip line (both of which were of course tried out). In NYC you cant go into a playground without a kid so it was a nice treat! Then we stumbled upon an open air market – so fun!!! We got to see all kinds of food and crafts and people watch a bi. We also seemed to find ourselves in a bit of a gay district with a flying leather flag outside one businesses (a gay fetish hookup club) and lots of rainbows. We did lots of wandering and hit a grocery store to look at things! I found potato chips shaped like teddy bear heads (I’m on a mission to try interesting chips)! Also got gummy bears and a kinder egg which had a little toy car inside! We ended up wandering a really long way from our hotel but it was great to just be able to take in a little more of the city.
In the evening we headed to a great queer/trans organization Triq that was hosting Kestryls show! Ze was amazing despite my somewhat botched attempts at running tech for XY(T) and afterwords we had an amazing time talking gender with folks! We stayed out incredibly late getting dinner and talking- not getting back to the hotel until 2am but it was so worth it!!! It was amazing for me to hear what other people’s experience with gender and transitioning has been. In conversation I talked about my experiences going on/off T and the way my gender has shifted over time- it was really interesting for me to hear firsthand about how medical transitioning works in different countries and to get to really sit down with folks and talk about the complexity of how gender works and is enacted in each of our lives. One of my favorite things about touring always is the
People I meet and the friendships and connections that develop through shared queer experiences- not surprising that’s holding very true for touring in Europe as well.
As I mentioned we didn’t get back to our hotel until 2 am – on the way in we saw three rabbits playing in a field!!!! Then i curled up in bed with my iPad and a package of gummy bears it was far far past my bedtime so I Didnt manage to stay up for long since I was getting warnings over Facebook about German monsters under the bed that eat little boys who stay up too late
Day 4 – we leave Berlin tonight via train to Paris but I can’t wait to see the adventures we have before we leave town!
There are tons of pictures on Facebook – if we’re not friends please add me Facebook.com/SassafrasLowrey and I wrote this on my iPad so please forgive spelling and grammar mistakes!!!