We happened to have a four day weekend over Halloween because of a Catholic holiday. The nerds had a party with a costume contest so I took what was around and free (trash bags, glue, time…) and made a typical M Wingren DIY Masterpiece:
Heading out of my apartment in my brutal sandals (Rick Owens runway – thanks Italian eBay) the neighbor came up to yell and yell and yell at me. I guess it was worth it because I won the paper flower and bottle of prosecco ;)
Deniel, Antti, Kendra, Alexis and I hopped on a bus to Slovenia so that we could generate in-jokes and not speak a different new language. Except in Ljubljana they do speak my language: DIY everything, squatter communities, vegan restaurants, queer culture…
The mixture of castles, dragons on everything, remnants of communism, Brutalism, graffiti, mountains… it was novel. The air was brisk. I kept saying I wanted to find the “scarf emporium.”
We went to a vegan restaurant, it was good, it was cheap – €4 for a giant burger full of vegetables and a cappuccino. Then we got gelato, it was good, it was cheap, it was vegan. After exploring the “Luxury Communism” of DIY spaces Antti bought us all warm honey brandy. As it got dark we found ourselves at an Indian restaurant getting pleasantly tipsy on beer with elephants imprinted on the bottles.
Alexis told us about how she was asked to be the model for the Benetton Spa graphics the department was working on. “Bring your bikini” they told her.
“Ciao lil’ mama, it’s time to go to the Versace-beach – where’s your Pizza-kini?” I said… to sum up everything about Italian culture.
The conversation surrounding traditions of patriarchy continued. Instead of referring to a group of people as “guys” I proposed to start using the gender-neutral “bitches.”
“Ciao bitches” we would all say, for the rest of forever.
As with any shoestring vacation, most of our time was spent walking. At one point we ended up at a place I visited in a dream a few years ago – a minimal structure on the river with round windows looking out to the water. The place had polished concrete floors and stainless steel tables in the center – repurposed lab tables full of professional looking zines and prints. Deniel traded zines and arranged himself a solo-show. Just like that.
The next morning we went to a different vegan restaurant, with even bigger and better burgers than the day before. I also got a raspberry croissant and a cappuccino. I don’t usually go so full luxury, but was having “treat yourself” feelings.
Right after that my wallet was taken. I thought: “But that was a vegan restaurant, presumably their customers are ethical people?” I was glad that I had bought the pastry and went about cancelling my bank card, standing outside the restaurant. About a half hour later, having had no success with Italian banks (Catholic holiday) a guy with long black hair, eyeliner, and a happy-face emoji beanie came up to me holding my wallet. He thought it was his friend’s and took it off the communal table, then borrowed a bike to race back and return it. “Welcome to Ljubliana!” he said.
We went to a castle, got another snack, and made it to the bus stop early. I had a big red can of low-alcohol beer with my avocado-bagel (it was the same price as a water bottle ;) The pedestrian signal produced a constant stream of minimal techno, and when its clicking reached the “drop” Antti and I would dance wildly.