How Ludwig II Changed My Life

My history in the boy’s love space is indeed a storied one. I started in the genre of two pretty boys kissing when I was way below the age limit to be ingesting said content. But boy’s love kept me going while in high school as it gave me something to do and something to use to help me interact with my peers. Additionally, it helped me work through some gender angst I was going through at the time.

I didn’t remain enthusiastic about anime and manga when I went off to college; hoping that I would live my aunt’s asserts that my anime and manga fandom would be a phase I leave behind as I matured. That backfired splendidly in my sophomore year when I rediscovered anime and had gasp a small disposable income that no one could judge me over. I bought manga, watched anime and reconnected with a part of my soul that left me in my transition from youth to youth who could legally go off to war. 

But I still felt intense ennui and a lack of purpose in my life. I was in my late teens and away at college, still feeling much of the angst I felt when I was a young teen at home. That was until I met a very interesting King who would change the course of my existence. 

It was a gift. 

The manga was a gift. I was out with a friend and the spine of the manga caught my eye. Ludwig II by You Higuri. It had two pretty boys on the cover, looked historical and I was intrigued. I picked up the volume only to find that it was the story of a young stable boy and his dangerous love affair with the then king, Ludwig II, who is said to be mad. There is a shocking amount of drama and emotion in this story of what should be pretty straightforward for a boy’s love series; showing that indeed yaoi and shonen ai started as a parody of shojo manga. I ate it up. I loved the drama, the references to historical Germany (something that many people close to me know is a bit of an obsession) and I fell in love with the enigmatic and eccentric Ludwig II. 

It wasn’t until I got to the end of the manga that I realized that the main character whose charm I fell for was based on a real person. There was a real King Ludwig II, with whom the mangaka fell in love with during a trip to Germany. The real Mad King was ruler of Bavaria, probably wasn’t gay for his stable boy but was known for fits of violence, mood swings and his odd tastes. He loved castles. He built two beautiful castles: Linderhof and Neuschaiwnstein. One is the model for Disney’s imagining of Cinderella’s Castle and the other was built on the instruction of “Versaille but make it German.” 

Ludwig II was a patron of the arts, namely Richard Wagner, whom he supported and loved. If not for Ludwig’s time and money, we would not have Wagner’s work. And Ludwig, in his delusion, loved pretending to be the great Swan Knight Wagner imagined. He even had a special grotto built in Linderhof to act as a operatic backdrop to watch actors in little swan boats perform Wagner’s work as Ludwig rode along in another little swan boat because one can never have too many swan boats. 

We don’t know what Ludwig II was sick with when it comes to his “madness”. We just know that he was unwell. And we know that after trying to sell Bavaria to make more castles, he was ousted from power and he drowned himself in Lake Stern, just behind Castle Neuschwanstein. 

Consider it serendipity, but like Higuri-sensei; I too fell in love with the King. Not just the fictional character crafted for the sake of voyeurism, but the complex man who clearly was a little too sick for this world but also gave us so much with so little credit. Many know of Wagner but few know of Ludwig. Think if we only knew Shakespeare but ignored Queen Elizabeth I.  I voraciously consumed information about Bavaria’s Mad King. I read books, researched, practiced my German: all of it to please My King. Ludwig became a strange obsession of mine that kept me going through a particularly challenging college semester. Before I knew it, I was in deep. So deep that a funny little mention by one of my philosophy professors struck me like a ton of bricks. He said that while he would be the professor in the summer abroad that he’d be visiting some castle in Bavaria. As if possessed, I asked if the castle was Ludwig’s; and imagine my shock when he said yes. He spent the spring semester mostly cajoling me into going to Austria. I balked most of the time. The cost, the fact that I never left the country like that except for a trip to Mexico as a child I barely remember, the cost, the fear, the anxiety, the cost were all things that kept me firmly in the States while my professor got to see a castle I had dreamed about. He spent the fall semester encouraging me to go to Austria but I was afraid to do so.

The following spring I decided to do it. I still don’t know what fully convinced me to do so. But I did it. I decided to go to Austria knowing that King Ludwig’s castles would be a mandatory tour for the summer program.

That summer, a month before my departure, my mom died.

I was convinced that was the end of my Austrian sojourn. Convinced that I’d never be able to make it to Austria. Burying mom would cost too much; that I would have to be there for my family; that I would be too fragile. My aunts and grandmother did not share my sentiment and in fact, encouraged me to go. And so I did.

I can’t tell you how exciting it was to see the signs in Bavaria for Castle Neuschwanstein. I can’t tell you how amazing it was to be able to use my meager German to get around and how amazing it was to see 

I was told by a small German woman that the castle would be a short walk up mountain but for my king I proceeded to take my fat and asthmatic carcass up mountain to see the facade that was in my dreams. I gazed upon My King. I gazed upon his creation: one of his two children. He made miniature castles too: his little children. I wandered the halls he wandered. Saw the lake that claimed his body. Saw his home and wept. 

I ate lunch outside of Neuchswanstein and then it was off to Linderhof. I saw his Grottoes where he had special performances, saw his gilded excess, and was attacked by one of his terrible swans. I knew more than one of the tour guides there and led my small group of mostly bored Americans as we wandered the palace of extravagance and decadence. 

I still have the swan I purchased while visiting My King’s home. I still have the photos I took while visiting My King’s homes. I still have the books, brochures, postcards and more I purchased while visiting My King’s homes. 

It’s not hyperbolic to say that meeting King Ludwig II changed the course of my life. Without him; his charisma, his story, his madness; his glory, I would have stayed in the States. I wouldn’t have gone to Austria. I wouldn’t have left the States. I would have stayed small and I would have abandoned anime, manga and yaoi. I would have cast aside those parts of me that are now so important. I would be an entirely different version of myself; one I can barely fathom even if I truly stretch the limits of my imagination. 

I’m a different person because of King Ludwig II. And I do believe because of him; I have been changed for the better.

Thoughts from The Rue Morgue: Thoughts and Musings from The Edgar Allan Poe Museum

It likely surprises no one that I am a high-key goth and that means I love the work of the most famous emo of all time, Edgar Allan Poe. When I was in high school, I fell for his use of rhyme and suspense and fell into a deep and dark love with the moody poet. So when another family trip brought me to Richmond, Virginia and I saw there was THE Edgar Allan Poe museum within a short Uber ride from the hotel; well, dear reader, I am contractually obligated to go: and so I did.

Here’s what I learned while visiting a loving shrine to one of my favorite poets.

First, some history. Poe’s life reads a lot like a comic book: abandoned by parents, trouble with love, did some things that are a little sketch and all the while continued to write poems, short stories and plays that twisted the mind into darker places. His writing has an unfair reputation of being melodramatic and “not really that scary” by people who are wrong and stupid and wrong. Poe’s writing is masterful, emotional and vivid enough to make you fear any black bird that is too large. His use of rhyme means that I can still recite Annabelle Lee with ease (An aside: my great-grandfather on my maternal grandmother’s side was a brilliant man who had a vast library that I got to partially inherit because he learned I was a literature person and voracious reader: me at the time, being a crappy 16 year old couldn’t possibly think the old man in front of me “got me” or “knew what I liked” only then to have him on one visit recite the last stanza of Annabelle Lee. I think nearly a decade later, part of my jaw is still on that living room floor.)

I’m also obligation to take a moment to discuss Poe’s death and “mental illness”. Poe’s death could have an entire other blog dedicated to it because of the mystery that surrounds it. Poe was meant to take a trip to Baltimore but never boarded the ship and was found eight days later in someone else’s clothes: he died in hospital days later of “brain fever” because thank you, Victorian medicine. And since Poe’s poems and works talk about death, bird hallucinations, murder and more: many are more concerned with what mental illness or illnesses that Poe had. As a writer that has struggled with the shadow of mental illness, let’s be frank: mental illness and sad childhoods do not a good writer make. Anyone can challenge their energy into a passion, Poe turned his pain into something that helped other cope with their burdens and I am eternally grateful to him for doing so. It’s easy to romanticize the mentally ill artist and I hate it and it makes it angry.

Now, then, normally my thoughts and musings posts are bulleted but this one will be a little different. Upon my visit to the museum, it was closing early so I really only had about an hour to do all of it: realistically, if the museum had normal hours: I’d still be there. So my trip was shorter than I wanted it to be. Regardless, let’s tell the story of how I got to The Edgar Allan Poe Museum and what I learned and loved about it.

The Uber trip there wasn’t bad, my driver was a little daft. He complained about the distance and I told him that I was from Texas where 20 minutes is a bare minimum to get anywhere good. The museum is nestled in a fun part of Richmond and is in the oldest house in Virginia. Poe’s family was of means, so they got a bomb-ass nice house. The museum starts with a trip into the gift shop to purchase my ticket in: immediately, I was greeted by two beautiful and loving black cats named Edgar and Pluto and I love them equally and wanted to take them.

I don’t remember which cat this was but I love him and wanted to put him in my purse.

First stop: the early days of Poe and his family. I saw his childhood bed, the parents that abandoned him and his new more strict family that did love him but just didn’t “get” him: all things I felt in my life. Religion was important to his new family and thus it mattered very little to Poe and seeing old bibles that were well-worn reminded me of all the days I sat in Catholic masses thinking that the demons clearly had more fun.


Yes, the bed’s caption says “Unwanted”. 

Next up: Poe as an adult and his working life! We see images of his first and questionable wife who he was related to and seemed to care about a little too much and his work in the literary scene in Virginia. Including what may be one of the best things I have ever seen, one of Poe’s chairs from work. Story goes his boss filed down the back of his chair to make sure that he worked and I admit, I one day do aspire to be that petty. There were plenty of items dedicated to his most famous poem, The Raven and even a model of his grave monument that I got to worship.

The pettiest chair in human history. 

Third room tackles the poet’s death. Now, Poe’s death could be its own blog so here’s the long and short. He was meant to go to Baltimore, didn’t make it, appeared drunk and in a stupor 8 days later wearing some other dude’s clothes. Many lamented the death of the artist and to this day, I lament his death. I lament that we could have gotten more from him but he was an incredibly prolific creator. In the museum, there was a little place to write a note to him and so I did; I wrote:

Thank you for making the darkness in my heart seem a little less dark.


Outside was a shrine to Poe and I was greeted by one of the black cats from earlier. I said a little prayer and moved on. I went to the gift shop, spent more money than I should and left the museum feeling a certain sort of joy. I felt proud of myself for going somewhere alone. I felt proud of myself for standing up to one of the men in the museum who had the straight up balls to call Poe melodramatic. I felt proud that I stuck to my guns and did a thing I wanted to do.

I’d like to thank Poe for existing, for creating, for being himself. For showing me that being morose was not a sin and that darkness can breed light. For showing others that fear is vital, sadness is needed and even death can be beautiful.

Thank you, Mr. Poe.

Goodnight.

Thoughts from George Washington’s Front Yard: A Trip to Mount Vernon

I wasn’t expecting to go to Virginia. One of my aunts reached out to me to offer me a chance to go to a cousin’s wedding over in Colonial Country and I said sure. I hadn’t been out of the state in a few years and I’ve been itching to travel. While this was going to be a longer post about the entire trip and the wedding with plenty of personal details and stories: those are personal so I’ll keep it to the one historical trip I got to take during my short time in Virginia: Mount Vernon.

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For those of you who don’t know, Mount Vernon is the house that Washington inherited from his father and later added onto as he made it the sprawling home that he shared with his family and entertained guests at. It’s a beautiful piece of architecture and an important part of American history so I was happy to take a small trip there with my aunt.

Here are some of the things I learned from Washington’s porch.

    • As a Texan, New England is hilariously small to me. The fact that Virginia is such a small state means that there are plenty of things in very close proximity to each other so while I got to see one historical place I’m sure on my next trip (and trust me, I’m already planning the next trip) I’m sure with a little more planning, it wouldn’t be hard to have a full historical tour of the founding of my homeland.
    • Mount Vernon is huge. I was not expecting it to be as big as it was and based purely on the sweat that covered my poor pudgy frame, I was not prepared to walk this sprawling estate.
    • Our tour guide, Becky, was genuinely amazing and I loved her insights.
  • Mount Vernon is full of wonderfully detailed rooms and decor that gives me serious envy of how colonial folks were as extra as we are now including:
      • A fan chair which is literally a chair with a fan over top that you power with a foot pedal system.
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      • A marble mantle that according to legend a British friend of Washington said he just had to have and then replaced the damn thing from his own British home and gave it to Washington.
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        • I need friends like that.
      • A view of the Potomac that looks across to Maryland.
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        • Again, very strange as a Texan that just right across over yonder water is another state. We only have that with Oklahoma and no one is proud of that.
    • And a stunning piece of historical context in the form of an iron key.
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      • Story time, kids. So Washington was friends with the Marquis Lafayette. The French Revolution had mostly ended the chill part but the Marquis was called back to France on a July day after word of the Bastille prison was facing a prison break of epic proportions. The Marquis reported from the wreckage of the Bastille and upon his return to the United States gave his friend and fellow revolutionary spirit one of the iron keys of the Bastille in hopes to inspire his friend to greatness. The storming of the Bastille kicked off the much bloodier part of the revolution but we’re gonna ignore that for now. And I am proud to own a chachki copy of that key because I am a francophile, don’t judge me.
    • Martha Washington’s gardens were beautiful and it’s nice to see that many of them are still full of herbs, veggies and fruits.
    • Becky was very proud of me for knowing that sugar was the more valuable precious white substance over salt.
    • I struggle with the legacy of one of America’s founders being sold as bobbleheads and more.
      • In my mind, I can imagine Washington being a bit of an introvert and would not like all of us on his lawn and buying his stuff in the form of cheap desk fodder.
    • Becky also understood my hatred of Thomas Jefferson.
      • Jefferson was a racist and he believed slavery was good for black people. On top of that, his love of the French Revolution was dangerous and reckless and led us into a bloodier war with England.
    • I love that Mount Vernon acknowledges that slavery was real and that it was bad.
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        • There’s a very moving monument to the slaves that lived and died on Mount Vernon that was designed by Howard University students and dedicated by local pastors.
      • Honestly, the legacy of slavery is difficult to grapple with and Becky was sweet and empathetic and didn’t try to explain slavery as a white woman to me and my aunt (two black women).
  • I wasn’t expecting to see my aunt cry while touring the slave quarters.
    • It was a powerful moment that I did my best to endure but I suppose because I have the privilege of traveling more and being more away of my history, I’ve moved on past tears and moved onto quiet anger.
  • I was denied the ability to purchase wine from Mount Vernon as we had to return to our hotel for a family obligation, someone avenge me and send me Washington’s wine.

Mount Vernon was lovely and beautiful and the history of this place could easily fill many blog posts and pages. I’m fortunate that I was able to travel and I look forward to doing so again.

About The Journey

You still are blind, if you see a winding road,'Cause there's always a straight way to the point you see..png

I was late to watch Moana. That tardiness was intentional. I balked a little at its overwhelming praise and in pure cynical, hipster fashion I had to wait a full year before I sat down and watched it in full despite the few times I tried to watch it via clips and less than great downloads. I can’t say that the film Moana means to me what Up or even Princess and the Frog does but I can see why, how and where it’s important in the discourse. But I wanted to talk about the heroine’s journey, finding yourself and your culture and knowing the difference between your voice and the voice of your people.

Moana is a story about the titular Moana on an adventure where she discovers that she is from a long line of sea-faring people and through her bravery and cultural identity, she fixes the problem, becomes princess and all the things are good again. What is the most touching part about Moana is that it is a journey with her and through her culture to find herself. Moana is her people but in that she is also something so much more.

The idea that especially female characters have to go on some epic road trip isn’t a new one. Most female characters in great works tend to sit and stay in various castle or castle-like arrangements but anime and comics and some young adult novels are great in giving us tales of women who have to go on an adventure and hopefully find something more than just a man at the end. Rukia in Bleach searches for strength and her overbearing brother’s approval. Ino in Naruto uses her time during missions to find and learn new things and hunt for a replacement for Sasuke.  If you want an entire playlist of “girls on an adventure” stories look at the library of Hayao Miyazaki: most of his stories center around young girls that have to go out on an adventure to do something or learn something or to just save your pig-parents because capitalism. And if you must give  Disney more credit then they probably deserve, Merida in Brave has to go on a quest to find a solution to the whole…mom and bear thing before Moana aired. Lilo has to go on a self-discovery mission with her new alien friend in Lilo and Stitch and this was also way before Moana hit theaters.  And while the quest isn’t always literal: the need to put a heroine in the place of the hero on a journey is now a pivotal part of telling a female’s story. Though I will personally advocate as an out of shape person more metaphorical journeys.

Dear readership, you’ve been there with me as I’ve struggled with being more than my skin tone and that struggle has continued on for most of my life. I’m the dictionary definition of cultural abandonment. I’ve always prided my voice over the voices behind me. Look at my current situation with my family. Like the anime boy I am, I broke from tradition and forged my own path: for better or worse. I chose to listen to my own voice and ignore the voices that shouted so loudly behind me. My voice became the last one I heard and valued. But it’s lonely being on the top.

I work through being culturally abandoned through other cultures. I just said at dinner “I’ve given up so much for Japan.” . I work through my angst of not being “black enough” by turning my back on being black, being American or even being traditionally Southern or female for that matter. I embraced Japan, France, Austria, Germany…I embraced all of these cultures and countries as I did my best to come to terms with how wronged and left behind I felt by my own. I was never black enough to be black but could never and never wanted to be white. I just wanted to be me and in books I can be anyone or anything.

Amber and I are road-warriors and considering that we are both black women, it’s no surprise that many of our ventures have us facing the history and legacy behind us. We retrace the stories of rebellion, history and the complicated stories of complicated men and women. We venture out with our mythical steed (usually my Prius) and we go out to find our voices. She really only takes me along because I speak a few different languages and that there is still awe in my eyes when we find something genuinely interesting. She takes me because she knows she can probably still shock me and make me feel something. We go because I’m hoping for an experience that will shake me from my usual cynicism and will either make me feel immense shame or pride of the mix of both that comes with being a dually-conscious black person.

In my haste and desire to find my voice, I silenced out all the other voices that were kind. There are survivors of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study in me. There are Airmen in me. There are veterans, scientists, government officials, activists and writers in me. There is greatness in me and their voices are just as loud as mine. Those voices also do a wonderful job of drowning out the not to positive voices that still echo in my heart.

And while I’m not an airman or a survivor or even a full-time activist: I am me. I’m not in competition with their greatness and their weight isn’t a burden: it should be a comfort; albeit a bit of an overwhelming one. Their desire and the path they paved to let me be a cosplayer, writer, panelist and all should be enough. It is enough.

So, of course, it makes a lot of sense that I found the story of a young Polynesian girl discovering her voice and path through the stories lost to time immensely powerful. I had already bonded somewhat withe the stories of Mother Tahiti and of Polynesia during my time in Hawaii. And I’m not going to say the film’s perfect. I’m contractually obligated to mention the film’s not perfect. I was annoyed by Maui’s portrayal and most of the humor came from a literal dumb chicken. Being meta actually weakened the film a lot. Admitting that Moana in so many ways is just like the princesses that came before her actually weakens how special and unique her story is. But framing Moana as a light-reboot of  Pocahontas actually helps remind the view how different the movie is from all those that came before it. Moana achieves her goal through persistence and listening to the voices in her heart that can help her while shrugging off the ones that cannot.

That’s a lesson even a cynic can get behind.

Thoughts from Austin, Round Rock and Welcome to Night Vale Live Once More

-So Buc-ee's is like the nicest and biggest gas station ever with immaculate bathrooms and all sorts of things you could never imagine you need but want in the moment. Oh and the food's delicious. So like a giant fan.png

I’m starting to wonder what I did to deserve friends that will do such things for me. Once again, Amber managed to get us tickets to see Welcome to Night Vale: Live this time in Austin. The trip wasn’t very long but the trip was fun and as always, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself and those I call my friends.

  • Traffic is weird in Texas and going to Austin is a constant reminder that even though in theory this place isn’t far it takes sometimes way too long to get there.
  • Buc-ee’s is still wonderful.
    • So I talk about Buc-ee’s a lot and I think it’s hilarious that so many people that I know and care about will never know or understand how wonderful this place is.
    • Also I need the “Killing my liver while floating on the river” tank top.
  • There’s nothing like bringing bottles of booze with you to a hotel room. Makes you feel ritzy and by ritzy, I mean probably going to do questionable nerd things and that you (I) are (am) too old for this.
  • If you see more than one Corvette in the parking lot of your hotel, there’s probably a thing going on.
    • The thing going on was a giant Corvette race thing.
  • Hampton Inns are surprisingly nice.
    • They’re Hilton properties so I expect that but they’re very nice.
  • Amber has never been to a Waffle House.
    • This fact shocked me.
  • Amber is a great friend and I love her like a sister but she is blunt sometimes and so much more direct than I am that she really catches me off guard. She’s very authentic and I appreciate that about her but she can sometimes say truths about me that cut me to my core.
    • I want to work on taking her word to heart and knowing she doesn’t mean it as a cruel thing, she’s just trying to help me grow.
  • Fun fact: there’s nothing on TV anymore but My Cat from Hell and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
  • Midnight, Texas is apparently just hillbilly Constantine.
    • Additional fun fact: Amber and I have many opinions on both shows.
  • There’s nothing like trying to cosplay as someone who you feel no one else would notice.
    • Like, really. Night Vale is a rough thing to cosplay out in public.
      • Amber said it best: “You can’t go out dressed as a bloody glowing cloud covered in dead animals and expect people to get it.”
  • Fun fact: it will start raining as soon as you put on 5 layers of concealer and foundation. And then it will stop as soon as you get into the car.
  • The Paramount Theater in Austin is pretty but not as nice as the Majestic.
    • But they had snacks and hipster popcorn so it was a win.
  • There were a lot of kids at this show…I’ve never considered Night Vale to be a mature show but lots of kids…too many kids.
  • That being said though: Austin audiences are…a different bunch. The crowd was for sure more rowdy this time.
    • Additionally, there was a woman who climbed over 2 rows of antique seating and then spread her legs over the empty seat below her. I was floored.
  • No spoilers about the show but at the risk of sounding like an huge brat (it was a birthday gift, after all) I’ll say this about the show: it wasn’t my favorite. It wasn’t bad. At its core, it’s still a show I love but it didn’t floor me the way Ghost Stories did.
    • The weather was quite good though. The artist was entertaining and rhythmic and eccentric.
      • Also “rhythmic accordion solo” are now words I can say I strung together.
      • Also lots of intense percussive foot stomping.
  • Parking in Austin makes me angry.
  • Sonic is not real food, but it is delicious once you’re half a bottle of champagne into the evening.
  • Live PD is a confusing jaunt between almost boring cop stories to very over-blown drama.
    • Like it does really feel like police propaganda a little. It’s a lot of cops doing very non-dramatic things and in a world where it seems that the police are now only involved in scandal, it was sort of nice to see them just do their jobs and no one get unnecessarily hurt or die.
  • Jasmine Green Tea with Elderflower Liquor and Ginger Vodka is magical.
    • If you have any cocktail name suggestions: leave them in the comments below.
  • Round Rock is a magical place full of delicious food.
  • Round Rock Doughnuts is wonderful. I didn’t want to leave.
    • Though I feel bad for the church and Cuban spot next to the small donut shop.

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The famous Round Rock Donut. It’s measured with a bucket lid. BECAUSE TEXAS.

 

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  • SALT LICK BBQ IS DELICIOUS AND I DIDN’T WANT TO LEAVE.

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    LOOK AT THIS. LOOK AT THIS FOOD. EVERYTHING WAS DELICIOUS.

    • Even though Amber and I had a heavy conversation about personal responsibility to family over how awful families can be as well as gentrification and how difficult it is just to be of color in America.
    • Oh and I got free cobbler because birthday weekend.
  • There’s nothing like getting new Converse.
    • Fun fact, I showed these shoes to TJ and he said we could no longer be friends afterwards because the shoes were too cool.
  • Amber gets antsy on the road trip home.
  • Discussing drug and club culture and its relationship to techno is depressing but necessary.
  • Traffic in Texas is still awful.
  • Finding something opened past 5 on Sunday is difficult:
    • Context: my power went out due to a storm in San Antonio so I didn’t feel like going home to a hot/dark house. So I drove around for 2 hours somehow past the trip and it was damn near impossible to find anything that was still opened.

I had a great time in Austin and I had a wonderful birthday and birthday weekend. I’m grateful for friendships, fun and making memories.

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This is the face of a very glossy and very tired cosplayer and friend.

Rest easy, readership. Rest easy. And thank you for the birthday wishes.

Thoughts from the Heart of the Revolution

-Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may.- Sam Houston.png

On another adventure over a day, Amber and I visited Seguin and Gonzales. Gonzales is famously really where the Texas Revolution started. When the Mexican Army demanded that Texans disarm themselves and give up their cannons, the Texans famously said “Come and take it.”

This defiance, strict independence and rebellion shaped Texas as a state and our identity. But there’s a difficulty in accepting that a valid part of our state’s history is the right to own slaves. There is always a cultural dissonance between being a proud Texan but also being African-American.

Here are the thoughts I had from my trip to Gonzales and Seguin.

  • I recently picked up a CD copy of the best themes from Inuyasha. We did not regret this as our music choice though it is a fantastic time capsule into whatever we called music back then.
    • Really, this anime did not deserve the soundtrack it had.
  • Gonzales is a strange place that is really known for just being the seat of the revolution and the “Come and take it” has really become a polarizing symbol across the state and nation, really.
  • If you see the actual “Come and take it” cannon, it’s surprisingly small.

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Seriously, this is it. The mount is a reproduction. Hence why it looks so silly.

  • The monument Texas built to the revolution is pretty elaborate but is pretty awesome.

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  • Gonzales has a beautiful very haunted jail. Which means it’s story time, folks.
    • So Amber and I went to the Gonzales County Jail. It was built in the 1800s. We were excited because most jails that are that old are recreations. This one? Nope. The first thing our tour guide said was that all the wood, steel and fixtures were original. Same steel. Same wood. Same bars. All the same. Our blood briefly ran cold as this statement was made. We were shown the sheriff’s quarters. Holding cells and administrative offices.And then we went to the second floor. The second floor held petty criminals. Those who let horses die in the streets. Those who stole livestock and those who stole small amounts of money. The cells were large and open considering and then to the right was maximum security. 4 giant metal doors. Loud clanking noises. If the sound of freedom escaping could be created, it was the sound of those doors opening and closing. And as Amber and I were swept up in the feeling of being behind cell bars, we looked to the front towards the wall only to find 10 foot gallows. It’s called The Green Monster. It’s bright green and still has a noose attached to it. The jail historian said The Green Monster claimed at least 3 people and that it was placed in front of the petty criminals to discourage further crimes. We were stunned. The wood was the same, just reformatted to discourage people from climbing on it. It still looked as it would have to a prisoner. It was haunting. It’s also probably very haunted. We agreed not to take any photos while in the jail. Part out of respect for those who lived and died there and part for fear that we’d capture proof of a ghost.
  • Mead is indeed the drink of the gods and Amber and I learned that after a much needed winery and meadery visit post incredibly haunted jail visit.
    • I can see why Odin and Thor like mead so much.
  • Seguin is an interesting town that feels at the same time too big and too small for what it is.
  • I get one Gravitation song per road trip. I chose Sleepless Beauty.
  • Fried green tomatoes are overrated. I’m sorry, Amber. They’re gross and taste like outdated modes of thinking and plantation back porches.
  • The look on my face over being served a drink in a pitcher is hilarious.

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Please ignore how awful my hair is. It was windy.

  • Jokes aside, The Dixie Grille in Seguin is probably some of the best food I’ve had in awhile. Even if the drinks are served in a stupid way.

I think it’s interesting to think of the revolution. At the end of the day, even if the battle started over slavery, it ended with the concept of freedom. The Texans wanted freedom. They wanted to be able to do as they saw fit. It was at the time terrible but during this time of…turmoil, it is interesting to think of what it means to stand for what you believe in. Unless what you believe in is slavery. Then you are wrong. You are still very wrong.

And if you want to disrespectfully disagree with me and attempt to take down the cannon of my morals, values and beliefs?

Come and take it.

 

 

 

But for Today, I am Prussian

-Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”

I’ve never been coy about the part of me that is truly culturally a pluralist.  I in-spirit renounced my American heritage long before I took my first steps across the Atlantic and by the time I emerged onto Germanic soil, I was already at least in a cultural sense a French man, Japanese schoolgirl and English poet.

That was until, of course, I went to Bavaria. I experienced a land and culture so far unlike my own but with the same cultural feelings of strength, hard-work and enjoying what you have. I spent 5 weeks overseas, mostly in Germanic countries and I left with a love of German food and the slight and occasional German phrase.

Once I returned stateside, my desire for the German flavors I came to crave were mostly left to languish. I was from a part of Texas that was no more German than scotch and the even mention of “German food” conjured to them faint images of sauerkraut and bratwurst and men clad in lederhosen (which are an undeniable segment but not the only aspects of German cuisine.).

It wasn’t until I moved back to San Antonio and moreover the part of Texas that was at times intensely German that my love of German food was able to take form again but really only to the occasional trip to New Braunfels to have it in one or two special places once or twice a year. What I was missing was the cornerstone of what made German food so amazing: it’s accessibility. The food I was eating in Austria and in Germany were available anywhere, everywhere and at nearly any time of day. This is where I came to love the concept of a double starch often enjoying two different potato dishes alongside pasta and a slab of whatever-schnitzel (it was often chicken for me, but the cafeteria where most of my meals came from produced schnitzels I didn’t think were possible). The food was unpretentious and humble but delicious and satisfying.

The beauty of it was that it didn’t feel foreign.

So when I come to find out that I can fill my cravings for German food in a downtown, historical eatery I had to check it out. This led me to lunch at Schilo’s.

This place has apparently been around forever and is a place I walk by all the time, but I was always a little afraid to go in there, having been lied to time and time again with the promise of “authentic” German food. My cynicism led me to miss out on so many opportunities to visit this wonderful establishment.

Never have I been so wrong.

I sat down, and immediately enjoyed the prospect of seating myself. I ordered something simple, potato pancakes. Now, this is a dish I came to love overseas and finding it well-made here stateside has been an awful challenge if I can find them at all.

Now, when I see house-made root beer on a menu, regardless of whatever image-based soda detox I’m on, I’m ordering one. Or several. Schilo’s did not make me regret my choice to imbibe in the fizzy elixir.

My lunch arrived and the waitress asked me the very traditional question: “Would you like sour cream?” to which I said “yes.” far too emphatically and quickly. I waited patiently for the curdled milk product and continued to do something non-traditional. I smothered the potato love stack with Schilo’s house-made hot mustard (another German favorite and this one has an ingredient list that you can understand and maybe has 6 total ingredients. As mustard should.) the spice was wonderful. Then came applesauce, far more traditional for a meal like this which was absolutely spectacular. I wish it was socially acceptable to order “vats” of anything.

Each bite I felt like I was in Muchen again. Potato. Mustard. Sour cream. Applesauce! Potato. Mustard. Mustard. Potato. Sour cream. Potato. Potato. Applesauce.

It was fantastic. I ate with gusto. I ate with pleasure.

Schilo’s was a place that I had to stop myself from replying to questions in German.

Danke would be unknown there, as would Bitte. Prost would make no sense and Bier would be unheard of.  But in my heart, I was in Bavaria. I was Prussian. I was in a local biergarten enjoying lunch and doing German things in Germany or at least I was in my heart.

It’s been a few years since my global trek and I never thought I’d miss Germany and Austria more than Italy. I didn’t leave craving pasta, I craved potatoes.While I swooned over pasta frutti de mare, I desired schnapps and wienerschnitzel.

So for an afternoon I was Prussian until my need to return to work snapped me out of my pipe dream and I heartily thank Schilo’s for letting me for a day be back in Bayvern.

Danke.