Scene: Noel, ever craving Chipotle and generally elusive in the blogosphere (apologies to the delightful people who care), heretofore the confounder of mammalian expectations for rarely sweating and being (relatively) hairless (traits that make for the ideal backpacker in that she can wear the same shirt for days without offensive odors [theoretically, anyway] and the same shorts for days without offensive stubble), simmers slowly on high, airless, soon-to-be-on-strike Italian train heat.


Beads of – can it be? – sweat trickle down her legs (source of spring: the fatty folds of the upper thigh consorting closely with sticky blue vinyl) and sting in abrasions of varying severity acquired during yesterday’s roommate bonding session AKA the fourth time someone has tried to teach her to bike ride. En route to the Shakespearean daydream of Verona from the less-than-thrilling cobblestones of Padova (also one of the Bard’s settings, but who has actually read The Taming of the Shrew?), our heroine (or bumbling sidekick? Convenient foil? Comic relief?) almost lets her laptop slip through sweaty paws, but the time is not yet ripe for that sort of horrendous equipment disaster, so she, yet unmolested (in that respect anyway), begins to write.

Day 13 on the job. Currently ridiculously out-backpacked by the possibly polyamorous trio who just boarded, hair in the pre-dreadlock phase, else covered (no joke) by a plastic Viking helmet – are those tent poles sticking out of that guy’s pack? Who thought the green and yellow feathers dangling from his beard braids (?) were good ideas? Feeling somewhat square (not unusual) but extremely clean and well coiffed (a first for this trip).

I suppose it has taken two weeks and two cities for me to get my act together enough to blog; in the chain of being, blogging falls after survival, navigation, actual LG content, planning tomorrow, combating intense bouts of loneliness, and this little known and ultimately cancelled medical drama starring Meryl Streep’s less talented daughter. It’s a wonder I’m 300 words into this at all.

The plan for the below was to recap the past two weeks in numbered episodes of misfortunes, because I enjoy lists/remember bad things more easily/the good things will hopefully be in the book, if not edited into oblivion/something needs to break up the obscene length of these sentences. Regrettably, word count guidelines and short online attention spans are nipping at my heels, so here follows the Table of Contents version of my own unwritten and not all that thrilling Series of Unfortunate Events Volume I. Once upon a well-intentioned time – or in the Beginning when all was Formless and Void and God thought He could take Chaos/I thought I could be on time, but neither of us could and so there’s evil in the world/I get asked at least every other day where my blogs are – each of these was to be a separate account, but here we are.

1) Inauspicious Beginnings, That My Mother is Never to Hear Of – In which Noel, just moments after sassily informing her mom that she is “19 and savvy,” boards the wrong plane due to momentary gate number dyslexia.

2) Cloudy With a Chance of Hail – In which Noel begins Venice Day 1 without consulting the weather forecast, as people from Hawaii tend to do, and ends the afternoon hopping from doorway to doorway in a downpour-turned-hail-storm.

3) “The Birds 2” or Hitchcock Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet – In which Noel realizes that the pigeons of Venice are possessed. This accounts for their orange-rimmed eyes, uncanny boldness, attitude of entitlement to your flesh (the cured pig flesh in your panino), and bewitchment of all the tourists in San Marco’s Square (observe a parent put a dusty pigeon on their toddler’s head and try say this isn’t supernatural possession).

4) When I Realized I Have a Problem – In which Noel catches her would-be pickpocket in the act while shuffling through the tourist jam around the Rialto Bridge and instinctively apologizes, presumably for interrupting the subtle progress of his trade.

5) I’m a Big Kid Now – In which Noel, reserved boat tour imminent and path to nearest restroom treacherous (it is Venice, after all), with every dignity succumbs ever so slightly to the call of nature while on a park bench. It is what you think it is.

noel boat

6) Spy Movies Promote Unrealistic Notions of Lock Picking – In which Noel is locked out of her room in Cannaregio at 11pm and watches nervously (but also rather happily) as concerned Korean cutie inserts every available implement into the key hole, including but not limited to a paring knife and his little finger.

7) “And I would walk 500 miles/ And I would walk 500 more” – In which one of Noel’s major defects as a traveler – namely, frequent navigational hunches of dogmatic certainty that are always wrong – realizes its full destructive potential by causing her and her roommate to overshoot their B&B by two miles. This necessitates an hour-long stroll along dimly lit Italian freeways and periodic plunging into patches of weeds to avoid oncoming cars.

This work is/will be dedicated to the garrulous bag checker at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, Kaori who gave me gummy bears, Vittorio for knowing the dance to GG’s hit summer single “Party,” and my second grade teacher, as promised.

Yes, Ma, I’m Alive and (Feebly) Kicking was last modified: July 3rd, 2016 by Noel Lee