Wednesday, May 6

So, last sunday i was supposed to leave Zagreb to meet my parents in sarajevo. But that morning i got a phone call from them to say they wouldn't be on the plane, as my mother was in hospital in singapore with a fever (but not swine flu). She was ok, but they wouldn't be flying just yet. So, with only an hour before i was supposed to pick it up, i cancelled the rental car and stayed in Zagreb.
They finally arrived this morning, having changed tiers flights to come directly to zagreb, which saves me a trip to sarajevo, and means i get to spend this week here! And it happens to be the week of the queer festival! Quelle chance!
So last night i went to the opening, and then woke up at crack of dawn to get to the airport, them we made good use of the car i had borrowed, and drove up the mountain to Sljeme, just because we could.
The plan now is one more day in zagreb, then on friday to budapest to start this cruise on the danube! But first- i get to in to two more queer festival parties!
After all, who needs sleep when there's coffee?

Thursday, April 30


Originally uploaded by Nomad Kat

Wednesday, April 29

Kat On Tour

So this Sunday my summer starts. A little earlier than for most people, but hey, who ever said my life was normal.

So, because I keep finding myself explaining it, here is The Summer Plan:

On Sunday, May 3, I leave Zagreb. I pick up a hire car, drive to Sarajevo, pick up my parents from the airport.

The next few days I spend travelling in Bosnia with them, and then return to Zagreb for One Night Only on Thursday May 7.

May 8 we catch a train to Budapest to join this cruise-tour thing that leaves us in Istanbul 15 days later. My parents leave from there on May 24.

I'm thinking I will leave about the same time, and make my way back to Zagreb, probably detouring through Macedonia and Serbia on the way. I'll onlyl have a few day in Zagreb though (the beginning of June) because then I'm booked for a workshop in Zurich for the OFF_PRIDE festival (the alternative to Europride).

As soon as I can, though, I'll be back in Zagreb, and be here for at least a week - by no small coincidence, it will be the week of ZG Pride... but then, no doubt all too soon, I will have to leave again to get to another festival and another workshop, this time in Tabor in Czechy.

After that, I have 10 days or so to make my way towards the UK in time to start my regular summer job at the beginning of July. I'll be working until mid-august.

At the end of August, just a few days after I finish being professional me (ha) and revert to regular old anarchist-queer me, Oslo queer festival is on, and I'll be workshopping at that as well.

And then, well, I'll be in Scandinavia, a part of the world I haven't seen much of, so I hope to do a few weeks of travelling, maybe get to the arctic circle and iceland, see more of Sweden than Malmo airport, that sort of thing.

And *then*, I have to decide what I'm doing with the rest of the year. Current plans involve travelling overland to Australia, moving back to Montreal (visa willing) or coming back to live in Zagreb.

And right now, Zagreb is winning...

Monday, April 20

Sunday on Saturday at Medika


Lat night was a fun night, with lots of friends and acquaintances (everyone who's ANYone was there, dahling!) and many little entertaining moments. And a few crazy ones: I am used to meeting the occasional Aussiophile here, who gets unreasonably excited when they find out my country of origin, but I've never made anyone cry before...
Worst case of the affliction that I had seen, really. I'm glad she had a good time while she was in Aus, and I'm sorry her visa ran out and she had to leave, but I haven't really lived in Australia for long enough now that I almost feel weird saying I'm from there, and I always have to admit at some point that I'm quite happy not living there, even though it's their life-long dream to be able to do so.
When I made my escape (the interestingness of the aussiophile girl being finally outweighed by the annoyingness of the drunk guy hoping to to kiss us) I heard her say in a very disappointed whine "See, now you've frightened her away!". And I did indeed feel like some small furry animal scurrying off to safety (but still did not feel at all like the kangaroo that Drunk Guy kept wanting me to be "Are you a kangaroo?" "No, do I look like a kangaroo?")

Definitely an entertaining night!

Saturday, April 18

Another Random Night

Originally uploaded by Nomad Kat
Last night I ended up being in a music video, quite randomly. This was part of the set. And I was already in costume for the party I thought we were going to (we got there by about 3am...)

There are definitely moments when I look at my crazy life, and think something very much like this, and the randomness of last night was one of those times, so this pic feels very representative of the evening!

I will, of course, post a link to the vid just as soon as I'm told it's finished! In the meantime, here's another vid from the same artist (though the vid from last night will be more like this one):

Tuesday, April 14

More Rubber

Here are more photos of last week's rubber workshop from a friend's camera. They are, of course, superior to mine!

I've been making more cuffs and things this week, and working on another rubber bowtie to recreate something like the costume I wore to a party in Montreal. (There's another party, you see, here, in Zagreb! I really didn't expect this city to compare to my beloved Montreal...)

So I've improved the bowtie design, I think. And I've come up with some more (adjustable!) cuff designs. I'm thinking I should actually try selling them. That would be interesting. And maybe make me some pocket money, though not an actual living. I've ordered better plier-style tools on ebay, so hopefully I can make them without the hammering that my current tools require (which annoys neighbours, and is generally a pain).

I've also got some proofreading work this week, and maybe some busking, and that, plus my sadly swollen leprous lip that is going to mean I spend a lot of time hiding (or going out with a bag over my head) means I might actually break even for the week!

And I wasn't even looking for work...

Wednesday, April 8

The Fragility of my Zagreb Queer Bubble.

I've had such a wonderful life lately, abandoning myself complately to hedonistic persuits, such as perfecting the art of spending all day in cafes hanging out with one friend after another. The sun is shining, we've had 3 t-shirt-weather days in a row, everyone is beautiful and life is generally brilliant.

I have been feeling a little guilty about this high in the last few days, though, as the same spring-fever that is causing my high has also caused nearly everyone I know to break up with their partners. Which is sad. But it does mean there are even more people than usual looking for distraction, company, and a friendly ear, which increases my time spent sitting outside in cafes, which I am not complaining about.
Some are also looking for a friendly liver to destroy along with their own, of course, and it's possible I should work on drinking less. But we know that friends shouldn't let friends drink alone, so what can I do?

Tonight though, while drinking in an alternative sort of punk-ish bar here, I had my lovely little queerspace bubble invaded by a mild homophobe.
A friend of a friend joined us at our table, and, if we had stuck to discussing languages and music, I'm sure i would have thought he was alright. But somehow the subject of feminism came up, and suddenly he was saying "There is no point to feminism these days. Maybe it was useful in the 50s and 60s, but it's not needed now". My argument to this somehow got cut off before I had finished it, but before I knew it he was saying "Gay people shouldn't march in the street, because it holds up the trams and makes people late for work". He apparently thought this meant that the pride parade each year only hurts the gay cause, rather than helping it.
The last straw, however, was: "Gay people in Croatia should have some rights, but not others". Stupidly, of course, I asked which ones we shouldn't have. Adoption was first on his list.
At this point, I flipped out slightly. I realised that this was not a conversation I could have at 1 in the morning in a mildly inebriated state, and I just wanted to get far away from this person who was happily insulting me as part of a friendly discussion. I stood up and apologised way too much while saying I couldn't continue this, and that I had to leave. He (at least) said that he would leave instead, so I was able to stay with my friends. But I was left somewhat shaky, and rather disturbed. I'm also a little disappointed that I failed to argue effectively and make him think about what he was actually saying, but I doubt it would have done any good, and I would have just ended up angry. 
Before he left he said "I'm sorry. I thought we were just having a conversation". I replied "Yes, it was great until you started insulting me".

I know that I live in a very special world here in Zagreb. Having met nearly everyone I know here through queer/friendly events and people, and as I am not working, I almost never have to interact with anyone that isn't queer-friendly. I have the luxury of living in queer space in a country where I would have thought it impossible. This encounter made me realise how lucky I am to be able to do that. And how close the non-friendly world can get.

When I got home a couple of hours later (half an hour ago), I found he had sent me a friend request on facebook. I considered friending him long enough for him to see my status, which referred to him as a homophobe, and the activist in me wanted to continue the argument until he saw the error of his ways, but in the end I decided it just wasn't worth the pain, and clicked 'ignore'.

But maybe the reaction I had was enough. Perhaps seeing someone being visibly affected like that by something he had said will make him start thinking about his own views about gay people and slowly, eventually, change them.

Well, we can hope, can't we?

Saturday, April 4

Found the quote

An update to this recent post:

"Traveling carries with it the curse of being
at home everywhere and yet
nowhere, for wherever one is some part
of oneself remains on another continent."

Source: Dame Margot Fonteyn

Thanks to an unknown visitor to my blog from Saskatchewan, Canada, for using a search string in google that turned up both my blog AND the original quote.

Monday, March 30

My Zagreb life of leisure.

So my life has been pretty busy in a crazy sort of way these last few weeks. There was the festival in Ljubljana, followed immediately by my trip to Oslo, and then since then, it seems that Zagreb is waking up for spring, and there has been so much to do.

I've started yoga classes again - Zen yoga, this time, randomly (it was the cheapest most convenient class I could find) and I have the sore muscles to prove it.

To counter the healthiness of that, there has also been a tent in one of the squares in town selling wine and a few different rakijas (like schnapps) at extremely reasonable prices. Especially when you get a couple of friends together and buy by the bottle! I seem to have partaken in quite a few bottles, mostly of Orahovac (walnut liqueur).

Last Thursday was Queer Zagreb's monthly film screening night, and I saw the french film "Juste une Question d'amour", which was good, but, at nearly 10 years old, felt a little dated in terms of attitudes to homosexuality. About right for this part of the world, though!
We followed this (after a decent interim spent in the wine tent) by heading to the women's night at Funk that happens twice a month here. It was crowded, but, as always, a lot of fun, and I'm glad it exists!

I've also had couchsurfers staying - Napoleon (my colleague from Sarajevo) came for a night last weekend, as the Madman (my erstwhile boss) has finally fired him as well (continuing his record of never having a native speaker finish a contract) so it was N's last chance to see the fair city of ZG before leaving the Balkans.
I also just hosted two lovely germans for a few days, showing them my side of Zagreb, which they seemed to appreciate, even if we did end up in the wine tent a little more than seemed sensible. They probably got the impression I'm a complete alcoholic!

Friday night there was a circus performance at Medika, the squat where I stayed my first nights in Zagreb back in October. I hadn't been back since, strangely enough, although now they have an agreement with the city for at least part of the building, making them all legal and secure, although no longer able to host overnight guests.
The performance was sold out, so some friends and I spent some time drinking yet more Orahavac (I was avoiding the wine-tent, but it came to me, instead!) outside, and then somehow ended up getting in to see the end of the show anyway. And then stayed the rest of the night at the after party, dancing to a very eclectic music selection, which was great.

And then last night (Saturday) I went to an 'unplugged' outdoor concert in celebration of Earth-Hour. Now, they seemed to have some idea of what Earth Hour is about, and the bands were mostly doing acoustic sets (apart from the electric bass and pianos) and the gig was all lit by garden torches, which was quite effective, but the amplification was so loud you could hear the music a block or two away, which seemed to me to negate the energy savings of the lack of lighting!
But it was good anyway. I finally saw Lollobrigida perform, and Lidia who directs my choir here was performing with one of her bands, Afion, as well. 

The other remarkable thing about the last week or so, is that I seem to be running into people I know every time I leave the house. And not just at the events, but randomly on the street as well. Friday, in particular, I saw pretty much everyone I know in Zagreb, most of them at Medika, but earlier in the day as well. Maybe it's just spring, and there are more people out and about, but it's kinda nice to live somewhere where I can run into people I know (and like!) on a regular basis. I can imagine it wearing thin, if I were to stay here any length of time, but for someone who is still new in town, like me, it's rather nice, and gives me a good feeling of community!

Sunday, March 29

Pun Fest

Store Wars.

Wednesday, March 25

At home everywhere, but nowhere.

The curse of the traveller is to be at home everywhere, and yet nowhere.

I'm not sure if this is actually a (mis)quote, or something my brain invented by mis-remembering the meaning of another quote, but it seems more and more true lately. And it's a blessing as well as a curse. I can be at home everywhere. Many of my couchsurfing hosts have remarked on my skill at making myself quietly part of the household, and I am able to quickly familiarise myself with a new city, and learn the landmarks and interesting places. Friends in Zagreb have remarked that after a month or two I seem to know where everything is, and know lots of people.
But at the same time, I'm not really at home anywhere anymore. People ask me about Australia or Brisbane, and I have to admit that I don't know much anymore - it's nearly 2 years since I was last there, and I stopped reading australian news a long time ago (though I still listen to Triple J's Hack podcast).

Still, for now I'm happy as a wanderer, and the plan to make Montreal my base (because that's one place I did feel at home) will give me a home, and make explaining where I live, or where I'm 'from' a whole lot less confusing for people I meet!

Monday, March 23

Things that have made me think

I just read this in the bood I read on my way back from Oslo.

"...the sense of endless possibility that every ex-patriate experiences, the feeling that your life has somehow opened up, that you're finally free to become exactly who you want to be" (Tony Parsons in One for my Baby)

I've been thinking lately about why I live the way I do, and I'm beginning to think that a lot of it is just attention-seeking. Or maybe thrill-seeking!

You see, during the first month in a new city, everything is new and interesting, including me. I'm a strange exotic stranger who has enough interest in the city to want to live there for a while.
After a month or so, the novelty wears off, I become just another resident of the city, my social life gets a little less hectic, and I settle into a 'normal' sort of routine.

So it's entirely possible that I rely too much on my exotic-novelty factor to power my social life. But hey, why not? Didn't someone famous say that you should always be a little foreign wherever you are? This is exactly my strategy, it seems!

There's also the 'be who you want to be' factor. In the years I've been travelling, I've taken a little something from everywhere I've been: a little culture, a little fashion sense, a little language, a few ideas about what is 'normal'. I'm definitely a long way from where I was 7 years ago before I started this lifestyle.

So now my accent and vocabulary is a bizarre mix, my dress sense is increasingly idiosyncratic and I am always a little foreign wherever I am.

Of course, this also gives me the freedom to not conform with whatever 'normal' means wherever I am. Anything that is considered unusual or weird can be explained by my foreign-ness. Even if the percieved weirdness wouldn't be 'normal' anywhere I've been, I have the excuse to be exactly who I want to be. The 'coolness' factor I gain from being an exotic nomad also means that whatever strange thing I wear/say/do/etc, is exotically interesting, and not uncool.

Yay for non-conformist individuality, hey?!

So the conclusion that can be drawn from all this, I guess, is that if I'm doing it, or wearing it, or whatever, it is automatically cool, and screw what anyone else thinks.

I just need to remember that more often!

Thursday, March 19

Recovering from my week in Oslo

I've just had a fantastic week in Oslo. I had a lot of fun, caught a glimpse of some of the interesting stuff that's going on there, and discovered that it would be very easy to learn Norwegian, which is such a cute and entertaining sing-song language. I was even vaguely offered a rather excellent-sounding job.

So naturally, my thoughts turn to whether or not it would be feasible to actually live there for a while. This seems to happen just about every time I spend an interesting week in a city lately - particularly if I meet up with the queer and activist-y people, and find things I could get involved in enthusiastically. That's pretty much how I ended up in both Sarajevo and Zagreb. And even though I'm still enjoying getting to know Zagreb, my nomadic attention span (similar to that of a goldfish, it seems) has been distracted by the idea of a new country, a new language, and a sweet little capital city with the beginnings of a decent queer & alternative community and quite a few amazing people.

Of course, the 8 months of winter and one of the highest living costs in the world are slight drawbacks, but whatever... The winter is not unlike Montreal (though warmer) and the cost of living is matched by the salaries, so as long as I was working I would be fine.

And also, of course, I don't know when I would fit in living in Norway. I already have several different possible plans for after the summer. I guess now I have a Plan D, as well!

Thursday, March 12


Originally uploaded by Ptraci
I'm in Oslo to give a workshop on making harnesses and things from bike inner tubes, which is really a quite radical concept here, it seems. I was even on the radio today to explain the concept!
This pic of the national parliament screwed up and got overexposed, and I have no idea why, but it's quite an interesting effect, in the end. It was snowing at the time (it has been snowing steadily all day, just to make up for the beautiful sunny day we had yesterday) but it wasn't actually a blizzard!
Off to some burlesque show now! If I can stay awake! I think I should probably work on getting some sleep tomorrow - two festivals in a row with only one day of travelling in between has been rather exhausting, and the workshop itself is tomorrow evening, followed by a party and performance evening!