I’ve never met Elys in person. Back in 2010, she discovered my site and IMed me out of the blue asking for advice for a trip around the world she’d be embarking on in two years. Keep in mind that the amount of time that passed from the moment I suggested to Sophie that we take a trip around the world to when we boarded our first plane was about 150 days. Also keep in mind that I’m an impulsive nitwit, but nonetheless I was kind of skeptical that Elys would actually see the thing through.
Just over four hours remained for Sophie and I to procure Pennsylvania’s drivers licenses with which to complete our applications for visas to India, and I’d again been foiled by my own personal Officer Dibble, the Bottom of the Page. It chortled in my face as I sat in the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation waiting room and through a mouthful of Brazil nuts explained that to get licenses Sophie and would I need a second, and completely unobtainable, proof of address. Then it toddled off to the conservatory, humming the overture to The Yeoman of the Guard. Moments later, Sophie gently took the application form from my quivering hand to see what had led to my sudden urination on the portrait of Governor Rendell. She looked it over and with a whistling whoosh deflated and flew in loops across the room, eventually snagging on the bus schedule rack.
In truth, my anger at this new development wasn’t because our situation was hopeless. In fact, I’d known for several days that we had a perfectly viable alternative for getting our licenses–one that was legal, required no complex machinations, and could probably be finished in under an hour. But it was an option so utterly distasteful to me that I’d sworn to under no circumstances, with the possible exception of having my head locked in the jaws of an alligator who demanded I buy him a pack of Camels and a bottle of Yellowtail, ever resort to it.
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Look what I just found on my phone: a 35-second mp3 of the Pixies rehearsing “Here Comes Your Man” that I recorded in a back alley behind the Olympia Theatre in Dublin, Ireland. My first bootleg!
As I’m absolutely certain you remember from this year-old post, Sophie and I wandered up a lane in Dublin one afternoon and heard “Debaser” blaring through a wall next to us. We quickly figured out that it was being played live by the band, then stood there and listened to the entirety of Doolittle rehearsed in sequence. Here’s my recording, which sounds exactly like it was captured on an iPhone in an alley in Dublin through 12 inches of concrete by a drunk American still coping with the fact that he only has three pairs of underwear to last nine months:
REMINDER: The Meaningless Hand Gesture contest ends in just about 24 hours. This is your last chance to win one of three priceless pieces of Americana which will serve as your passport into the beguiling world of show business/pot luck dinners.
Come back with me, dear readers, to a simpler time. A time eight months ago, when Steve Martin had not yet heard of Twitter, when movies about talking owls were just a magical fantasy, and when I had yet to finish living the story about which I would begin writing a month later and then forgot about until today. I resume our tale where I left off, with less than 24 hours remaining for my wife Sophie and I to acquire two forms of proof of address to use to acquire drivers licenses to use to acquire visas to use to gain entrance to India. We have just discovered, to our horror, that the Indian government has capriciously added a requirement that we include copies of our birth certificates with our visa applications. More precisely, I have just discovered that. Sophie would discover it a few minutes later when awoken by the sound of my loudly inventing ethnic slurs.
So last I left you, Sophie and I were hunkered down in Pittsburgh, on a prolonged “break” from our trip, dealing with an unnamed medical condition and attempting to obtain visas to India. That was seven months ago. I then disappeared without a trace. This owing to events involving mercenaries, lithium, and a bloodless coup of a small Pacific nation, the details of which are largely uninteresting and overly technical to a casual reader. Nevertheless, I’ll relate them below. Though I insist that your clicking on the “more” link would simply be a waste of time that could be much better spent scouring something or enjoying a drinkable yogurt.
You might remember that Sophie and I returned to the US not only because we were exhausted and had gone just far enough past the edge of sanity that we had named our luggage, cameras, and hairbrush, but also because we needed to facilitate getting visas to India. Just before arriving in Turkey, we discovered that our original plan to apply for visas at the Indian consulate in Istanbul would’ve led to us being denied and redirected to the embassy in Ankara. Which in turn would’ve led us to spend a week in a town the tourist highlight of which is something called the Monument to a Secure and Confident Future. So we opted to go home and get them the good ol’ ‘MERican way.
My observant readers will have by now noted that we were supposed to have taken off back for Istanbul a week ago today but have been curiously quiet about whether or not we actually left. Those observant readers would then be able to confirm that we have not actually left by checking their spare bedroom and noting that all of our crap is still spread all over it and that my old model of an X1-class TIE fighter has not been returned to its box. But for the rest of you: the “Where are Seth and Sophie?” map is correct. We’re still in Pittsburgh. There are a bunch of reasons for that, which I’ll lay out in some separate posts over the next few days. For now, here’s the summary: