Category Archives: Musings

Version 0.30 (What it Means to not Travel)


I’m on a bus from Perth to Albany. Six hours with not a thing to eat. That’s not nearly as bad as it sounds, but if Jay, a bloke I met and chatted with a bit yesterday and who gave me the idea of going to Vietnam instead of Bali, had not chewed my ear off this morning I would have had the opportunity to grab a snack. Oh well. Maybe it’s for the best. If ‘Nam is as good as he says it is I’ll thank him regardless. I’m just glad I made the bus, even if I am sweaty and sticky as a result of speed-walking and jogging with my hiking pack to get to the station before the bus departed.

I plan on doing a walking tour from Albany, kinda following the coastline west. Might take busses or hitch a ride here and there. This is very loosely planned. There are a few specific “sites” I wish to visit along the way. I put sites in quotations because it’s all a site as far as I’m concerned, but these are things labeled on a map, so i guess that makes them of some greater significance.

I do have a decision to make re: Vietnam, and that is what city I will choose to stay. Then will need to find an apartment, and apply for a visa.

Peering out the window of the bus everything looks the same; but looks different too. It’s like a mashup of eastern Nebraska, American southwest, and Mid-Atlantic landscapes, but the plant species are different. It’s all forested and hilly, but extremely dry and rocky. At least this is how it appears to me. This is the world over of course: same but different, different but same. It’s what makes travel so stimulating sensorially and mentally, and so exciting. The sameness gives one a sense of security, even if only slight. It’s a center, a nexus, a pivot which all that is different swings from. It’s a bastion which one can repair to when one feels threatened or is frightened by that which is different and foreign. Deep down we all know we are the same—all the same dreams and desires, the same suffering, the same joy. And if one bothers to zoom out, and I mean really zoom out, even all the differences we observe on this micro level of cities, states, countries, cultures blur into one humanity speeding and spinning and revolving around one star, on a tiny blue, green and white sphere, one which seems to be slowly going black, like a bit of cheese slowly molding in the back of your refrigerator. The differences we notice so close up are things that make travel so exciting and exhilarating (and frightening, perhaps): the different cultures, the different animal and plant species, different money, different languages, different customs. No one travels for the sameness of travel, but “the same” is the thing that one can latch onto if necessary (if one can see it—that is, he doesn’t miss the forest for the trees).

Of course realizing all this can beg the question why travel at all if at heart, or from a perspective really zoomed out, there is no difference between one place and the next. And what about those people without the wherewithal to travel? Where comes their excitement? Well obviously life is flux, change. Sit somewhere that is not the interior of a windowless room (this is why people go mad in the madhouse) and every five minutes, every five seconds something is changing if one cares to take notice, to focus her attention. Day to day always brings the new. This change, this difference, this excitement, this joy can be found anywhere, even sitting in a chair. So, why travel if that which can be got by traveling can be got by sitting on the porch at home, or in a cafe? But why not travel for the exact same reasons? Ultimately, you see, it doesn’t matter what you do—travel, or not travel—because to travel is to not travel, and to not travel is to travel.


Version 0.29 (Some Thoughts on Bread)


Today I am officially no longer part of the crew. I was swapped out for Joanna, a mutual friend of ours from Summit County, earlier this afternoon. I’m currently getting screwed by the shysters at this beautiful pizza parlor on Williams Street. This is the only time to my recollection that I’ve ever thought “I should have asked specifically for tap water,” or “I should have asked if there is a charge for that,” or “I should have read to the very bottom of the drinks menu so that when my server asks me if I want still or sparkling water I may enquire as to whether she’s referencing the seven dollar 750 ml bottle of spring water or no.” I haven’t received the bill yet, but I’m looking at this bottle in front of me, this very beautiful bottle, and the menu, and the gears are very clearly turning. The pizza is very, very, very… VERY good though.


That pizza was extraordinary. A simple margherita, but the most perfect pizza I’ve had in my life. I’ve never bit into a crust so crisp yet soft, so perfectly chewy and doughy, so wonderfully elastic, so delicious, so beautiful, so astonishing. It is one of few things that I’ve eaten in my life that was so clearly made with enormous amounts of passion and care. And this got me to thinking about other great cultures in which dough, or bread, is of such importance: India with its Naan, and Central Asia with its obi non, most specifically, but also injera from Ethiopia and surrounding countries, and even Central and South American cultures with their tortillas (made from maize, not wheat, though serving much the same purpose).

Certainly, bread, being one of the earliest staple foods at the dawn of civilization, is of huge cultural importance the world over, but I thought of India and Central Asia specifically because partly the shape (oval), but also the texture (yes, this pizza crust called to mind naan), and also because I think I associate bread with these two cultures most strongly relative to others (the French with their ubiquitous baguette, and here the Italians being the only others where it seems of such a fundamental  intertwining of the culture of a people, with a craft, with food).

Bread, when made well, with good ingredients can be wholly satisfying on its own, though it is best when used as a vessel for the transference of dips, sauces, vegetables, or meats into one’s open, salivating jaws, but, as I stated, if the ingredients are pure and good, then yeast, flour, salt, and water is all that is necessary for a tasty, if admittedly very humble, meal (or snack). An interesting note about tortillas (and pasta, which like the tortilla is bread-like in that it’s great virtue is as a way of getting a sauce, or broth, into one’s belly; and of course as added calories to a meal) is that they, unlike good bread, are not at all satisfying eaten plain, that they absolutely need a filling or toppings to be worth a damn. In my eyes this is the great differentiator between bread and other food stuffs made from grain.

And those are some thoughts on bread brought on by a visit to a truly magnificent pizza parlor in Perth.

Version 0.28 (Daily Journal Becomes Metaphysical Musings)


I made the decision to break from the group yesterday, before Doug even started his run, though I suppose that decision was made long before I even came here to Australia. I have not yet physically broken ties with the group, as right now I am actually lying in the top bunk of an overly ambitiously large motorhome, on the lawn of a friendly family who we talked to while at a community pool (which we were let into free of charge thanks to simply asking, and explaining to them what Doug is doing (in this absurd heat, as well!) and why it would be so appreciated if they would give us access) earlier today. We have power to plug into, which is important because we can run the a/c, and the fridge too without having to use any gas. I’m waiting for my substitute to arrive, which is why I’m still here. That should be in a couple of days. In the meantime I am attending to my duties as crew. Today that mainly included coordinating pickup and dropoff points for Doug along his route, joking and driving around in circles with Ben, and cooking a pretty tasty, simple dinner of chicken, veggies, and rice.

My reasons for needing to leave are few and simple, and I pretty much covered it in my previous journal entry… Basically I can’t be a contributor in this capacity to another person’s dream. I must follow my own path, my own dreams, lit by the fire in my own heart. I am far too independent a person to hitch my wagon to anyone else’s star, especially for the length of time I would be hitched to his, though I’ve only recently learned this.  If I were to do something of this nature in the future, it would have to be for myself. I suppose this is selfish of me, but to live one’s life for hisself is the only way to follow one’s own truth, unless one’s life is to be lived for others in which case one’s truth becomes wholly acts of charity. Of course a person’s truth, his/her path, can change at any given time and without notice. These aren’t things we must be privy to, as though God/destiny/tao must ask our permission. Often a shift in course, in direction, will manifest itself abruptly, like a summertime thunderstorm. Other times it may reveal itself slowly, like a bell tower in the mists of a distant horizon, only becoming clearer as we close in on it. The important thing is to give up control, to give up the idea of control, or at least as much as you are willing to, as for nearly everybody this is a crushingly difficult thing to do, but to struggle against this is to swim against the current of a river. Better to swim to shore and get your bearings before accepting this change than to wear yourself out at an impossible task….

I don’t know what precisely I will be doing after I officially take my leave. There are many doors open to me. However, I do think I will stay in Western Australia for a few weeks longer, as I’ve paid for the flight out here, and I’ve become genuinely curious about the southern part of this great state of Australia—I’ve heard such wonderful things. What that entails, I am not entirely certain, beyond further self exploration, new experiences, new discoveries.

Version 0.27 (Finding Equanimity and Understanding Through Writing)


At Mill Point Bookstore and Cafe.

I continue to wrestle with being here, in Australia. Every morning I wake up with dread of what the day will bring, and that, of course, is nothing that one should wake up feeling, but that feeling is just a response to not giving a damn about why I’m here, and not wanting to be here in the first place. Being in Australia certainly isn’t even “bad”, but I think somewhere in the being here but not wanting to be here is the sense of lacking control of my life, and so I’m despondent, grumpy, and generally unhappy. The irony of this is that I don’t believe that anyone has control over his/her life. That doesn’t simply mean that we’re all just tossed around by the wind like so many falling leaves; it just means that the notion of there being a controller somewhere inside of us (in our heart or in our head) is faulty and doesn’t stand up to logical examination. So then, why should this feeling of out-of-controlness bother me? Well, that may not even be the case. It could be just as simple as I’m not invested in this thing, I don’t want to be a part of it (at least in this capacity), I’m not the least bit curious about Australia, but there’s no easy way out, even if I didn’t mind paying Doug back the money for the air fare. He thinks he needs me, though I think he’s wrong about that because I don’t feel like I’m doing much, and once Ben gets here he’ll be doing the lion’s share as he truly does want to be here and is enthusiastic about the project. We’re very different personalities though, Ben and I. Anyway, the question remains, what can I do, (funny question, that, in light of my recent statements about “control”) to encourage a change in my attitude and feelings about this thing? After all, I HAVE been pondering the thought since arriving and I’ve come to no conclusion as of yet. Maybe when Ben arrives my mental state will improve, though it’s more likely that I’ll just feel alienated. Maybe once we finish all the preparatory tasks, get the hell out of this city, and fall into a rhythm of Doug running and the two of us handling our crewing tasks I’ll feel better. Maybe, maybe, maybe… That’s wholly meaningless to think about right now.

Well? What do I want then? I just want to follow my heart, as the saying goes. To live what I can determine to be my truth, whatever that is. But what if that truth hasn’t been revealed to me? Perhaps being here in Australia is all part of it. Perhaps I’m being stubborn and obstreperous for no reason. But even if I am, I can’t help it. The problem is I feel like I’m living out someone else’s dream, and not my own, and there is absolutely no way in a million years that I may be convinced otherwise—that doing this is living out my dream. Not without some monumental external force to totally flip me on my head. But what out there has the strength to shift my own jumble of yearnings pumped by my heart through my veins, to make room for another’s, and in effect bringing this other person’s dreams into alignment with my own, to make a little room for this other’s dream to become one of my own? But so much more than “a little” room is necessary!, for three months is a long time!, so therefore requires much space. This is akin to a birthing. It is the gestation period for a baby, a baby that is not, and can not be, my own. It is to spend all that time expending one’s energy, one’s motives, one’s thoughts on the gestation of this thing, but then once it is born giving it up to its proper owner, then turning around and walking away. I don’t know that I have that strength without the motivation, and motivation means care, and now I’m back to how do I care?

Version 0.26 A Reminiscence


I’ve recently been watching old MTV 120 Minutes videos on YouTube, and just last night watched their 10th Anniversary show which was advertised as a “best of”. I’d argue it was not. But it was hosted by Henry Rollins. Very cool. Very sort of strange. And you can bet there was a song performed by his band.

I woke up this morning to the song that Nirvana performed, noisily working its way around my brain, and lying in bed allowed myself nostalgically to be transported back to middle school, when I first heard the music and saw the t-shirts of such bands as Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Metallica, Alice in Chains, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Helmet, etc. I wanted to go back to that time and observe myself and others around me and relive that period of my life again, but as a sort of third-party. I wanted an experience deeper than my memories. I wanted to stand out on the corner on a frosty morning across the from the house I grew up in while waiting for the school bus to pick the group of us up. I wanted to sit in the never-warm-enough bus on the too-firm seats that were a bit like sitting on a pice of styrofoam and which sometimes had rips and tears in the green, pebbled vinyl that wrapped the yellow “cushion” as we drove around my neighborhood picking up still more groups of kids or the occasional one standing alone, or perhaps with this mother (though probably not in middle school), before bouncing our way eventually to school. There is one boy who I associate most closely with these memories of grunge and the route which our bus would take. I don’t remember his name, and I only think my memories of him are so strong because of the peculiar place where he lived, which was a smallish house with a dirt and gravel drive on Ritchie Highway—a busy, extremely so nowadays, road which runs from Annapolis to Brooklyn Park. The bus would drive all this way and do a U-turn to get to this boy’s home, seemingly so out-of-the-way. He had long, stringy, often dirty and oily looking blonde hair, a la Kurt Cobain, and wore the standard grunge uniform day in and day out: Airwalks or Vans, baggy jeans or long shorts, a t-shirt of some sort of 90’s alt rock band (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and a plaid flannel left unbuttoned over that. To be sure, there were plenty of other kids dressed the same, but the remoteness of his location in this single solitary home on the side of a busy highway, and the fact that it was he and he alone who got on and off the bus there is what makes him such a memorable character to me.

Version 0.20


I was feasted by the owner of Myers Rv Campground–I think she said her name was Joleen, or something to that effect. I’m not quite sure why she fed me so, unless she was really that desperate to get rid of the food from the “party” she had last night, or she realized that as a cyclist I would be very hungry, or maybe she is just this generous with everyone. All I know is that I was feasted to the brim on gumbo, rice, veggies, dessert and now I am satisfied and all the mosquitoes in my tent are dead. No finding refuge in here, no siree!

I went to Avery Island my first day in New Iberia for a TABASCO tour, and I’m reminded of this because I kept my rather large ticket as a bookmark, and on the side currently facing up, which I hadn’t bother to read as it’s something like a crest or seal, it states: “Avery Island “Man and Environment In Balance””. They do a lot of environmental conservation on the “island”, which, if you’re interested you can read about briefly here. I shall like to go back some day as I didn’t pay the fee to wander the jungle gardens within which there resides a large Buddha statue from, supposedly, the 12th century—quite a wonder! The gardens are themselves too a wonder.

In the distance, the middle-near distance, a cow moo’s, and another, and that is a wonder. A mournful kind of wonder, though. And fifty yards straight on is an oak wreathed with Spanish moss lit up by a lamp, the moss radiating light faintly, like a phantom, like horror stories from nineteenth century African(-American) slaves. And THAT is a wonder, a fearful, savage, sad wonder.

All these fucking RV’s are humming with the energy of their generators, or whatever is producing electricity for their microwaves, tv’s, air conditioners, stereos, computers, or whatever it is to run. I don’t know if that’s a wonder or not. I suppose it’s a technological wonder. But what I can’t understand is why when camping one wants all that noise and blather around. Where went the sanctifying peace and quiet of nature? The soft and continuous chirp of crickets. Or the mysterious crunch and rustle of leaves as a curious creature scurries past. Inside their five insulated walls they miss all this with their televisions and stereos blowing static, and they miss the mournful lowing of the cow, and the “who cooks for you” of the barred owl, and the chatter and squeaking that has just sprung up out of the darkness like hundreds of rubber duckies squeezed over and over in a sort of distant musical cacophony.

Of all our senses I think the sense of hearing is the most mysterious. All these ethereal tinglings of hair follicles in one’s auditory canal. Things perceived at a distance just far enough away so that you can not quite make it out visually, or so nearby that you might step on it but unable to discern where at all it is, and so unfamiliar that even if you could see it it would be almost meaningless. Sound can come from anywhere and be transmitted through anything. It floats on air, is carried by the wind, is the wind itself. It is like millions of taut wires protruding from your ears in countless directions being tripped by tiptoeing feet or colossally heavy hammers or butterfly wings of dynamite. We hear things in the dark, and may, through their agency, be brought into the light, yet we may hear things in broad daylight and be pitched into an impenetrable black.

Version 0.17


Fair Grinds Coffeehouse, Mid-City, New Orleans

On the back patio. Birds chirping. A fine, wet day. Wet, but no rain. At least not now.

Voices from over the fence. Through the gate people whooshing to and fro, and waiters in white linen aprons carrying boxes to the cafe across the street; children’s toys, and bicycles and tricycles interspersed with the potted plants and the dog bowls filled with water which the birds drink from. From inside the cafe comes the muffled noise of conversation and people jabbing away at their laptops. And I’m out here sopping this all up like a sponge, sipping my okay coffee, nibbling my decent muffin, and feeling strongly nostalgic for my early days of cafe culture back in Annapolis before I, and much of the world, discovered that coffee could be as good as an excellent bottle of wine or a great cocktail, that with care the most extraordinary flavors could be coaxed out of that little seed. Those days for me weren’t so care-free—I was broke and in debt at the time, working jobs that barely paid me enough to live on and pay the minimum amount necessary on my credit card statements to keep from getting charged those absurd fees that do so well to keep people in financial manacles (as if being poor and in debt isn’t enough)—but it introduced me to a life, a culture that has shaped my life and acts now as a key on a map advising where to go. And I’m eternally grateful for that.

I like this little cafe with its mediocre coffee and pretty-tasty baked goods. There’s not much care that goes into the technique of the making of the drinks and food here, but in the right place where exists the right atmosphere that doesn’t matter. This is a coffeeshop for the everyman. People of all stripes, all lifestyles, all walks of life are of course welcome here, and do come here, but it’s the common, average Joe who is most familiar to this place, as well as the many varied inhabitants of the neighborhood and any visitors passing through. It is like a great river which winding, winding, winding back on itself becomes a great pool that all the plants and the animals may water themselves at. It is a home, a destination, and a stopover point during migration. It draws all to its fecundating nexus with its mystical energies. Some stay for hours, some drift in for only a moment, but when they all leave they are better off than when they arrived. And now they know on their next migration, when the next chapter of their life is set to commence, they may stop here and begin the long process, or continue that process, of mutation, evolution, growth (caterpillar to butterfly.)

Version 0.16


Sitting at Breads on Oak, a vegan bakery and cafe in the Leonidas neighborhood of New Orleans. Thinking I’d love to work here. Been wanting to learn how to bake bread, as well as other baked goods, for years, especially after my stint in Berkeley and my introduction to ACME. The fact that everything here is vegan is inspiring on a whole other level though.

I’m reading Tropic of Cancer while munching, and intermittently glancing out the window to watch the sparrows flit and flutter about from tree to chair to sidewalk to table…. and the fog is thick today; thicker than yesterday, as though it wants terribly to cover all the blighted parts of the city, like makeup laid over a blemish. It rather softens the brightest parts of the city too, as if to bring everything to the same meridian, because, after all, we are the same people walking the same streets, so let us walk them together eye to eye, hand in hand. I wonder if a disaster, such as Hurricane Katrina, that swamps and levels a whole city brings all classes together in a shared humanness and in appreciation of the place they all call home.

It must!

And so Im thinking about how great this city is, and this bakery, and I’m watching the sparrows, and the people who are so like the sparrows, but I’m also reading Tropic of Cancer, and there is this great conflict inside me between the man who wishes to settle down somewhere in order to learn to paint, to sculpt, to collage, to garden, to bake bread, to make pottery etc., and the one who wishes to travel the world in order that he might see and know himself more clearly because it is only in our relationships to other people, cultures, environments that we can come to understand and see with clarity ourselves. Because as we wander through foreign places—worlds unknown to us, a stranger—those places are absorbed through our senses and sifted through the filing cabinet of our prejudices and preconceived notions in our mind, and so seeing them as they truly are we can abandon our false ideas and our faulty notions because it is only in experience that we may find knowledge.

Version 0.06

Perseverance. It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately, during these early days on this bike trip. Though, recently (very recently) my spirits have picked up. I have a few places to stay for free in Tallahassee, thank Providence, and I’m catching a lift with a guy I contacted through Warmshowers, with whom I may also be staying, to Scot’s place tonight. But it’s been a  pretty crummy three out of four days so far, what with the rain, and wearing this backpack while cycling. But anyway, perseverance. What is perseverance? According to the dictionary perseverance is “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success,” and its origins are rooted in “the late Middle English: from Old French perseverer, from Latin perseverareabide by strictly,’ from perseverusvery strict,’ from per– ‘thoroughly’ + severussevere.'”

Now we must ask why persevere? And the answer to that is going to require some thought. One really only needs to persevere when he is without joy, without enjoyment, without, perhaps, happiness in the moment of the doing of the thing, and so the question arises why persevere, why not stop, why not do something which is enjoyable instead of suffering needlessly? Does a person see that the ends is so great, is going to bring such greater satisfaction than, say, doing something else, whatever that might be, that to suffer through the means to get to that ends, one perseveres for that reason? But how does one know that the achievement is at least as commensurate with, if not greater than, the suffering in getting to that ends?, because, after all, one is not at the ends until one is at the ends, that is, he has completed his task.

Is there some sort of nobleness in suffering? Certainly not all suffering is noble because much suffering is fruitless, or, even worse, pointless, senseless and stupid, and what that is these things is noble? The answer is nothing, for nobility is “having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals”. But, I suppose, if one has a noble aims, then suffering for that aims, even if one doesn’t achieve them, may be considered noble, so that one can suffer nobly. But even still, to suffer nobly, is that worthwhile? Is there not anything one could do that is just as worthwhile, more worthwhile, or even slightly less worthwhile where one doesn’t have to suffer quite so much, or at all?

Some people, and I’m thinking of cyclists in particular, or at least those who race and so want to perform at a high level, seem to enjoy the suffering. But what if you don’t win the race? What if you don’t podium? What if, even, your prestigious teammate did not win or podium, and your job was to ensure that he did, to contribute to the effort as Team Member? Does that make you a failure then? And did that make your suffering, the suffering you supposedly enjoy, worthwhile or noble? Or was it pointless? Can you hold your head up despite your disappointing finish?, for there is certainly something noble in maintaining one’s dignity in the face of defeat.

So then, I turn back to myself. I look in the mirror, so to speak. Am I persevering? I think the answer is yes because this trip hasn’t been particularly enjoyable to this point. Do I have a noble aims? I suppose one could say so. Perhaps I should ask if the aims are worth the suffering. The truth is, and I answered this earlier, I don’t know. I CAN’T know. I’m pretty certain that I will be happy with something that I write, and I’m equally certain that there will be a number of excellent photographs resulting from this trip, though what I am to do with any of these things I can’t say. So far all my past photography and writing has amounted to nil. So, if this continues one could probably say that this trip is worthless, and that I am wasting my time, and there is certainly nothing noble in that. Yet again one can say that what I do with this writing and photography in the future is irrelevant to the current travels, particularly if I take the stance that I am merely digging up the raw ore to be forged into a beautiful work later on. And I think that’s the most sensible way of looking at this (it’s certainly the easiest way to justify it!). Also, the journey is still young, only five days or so, so I too think that it would be a bit premature to call it quits so early; the bad weather can’t continue forever….

Best or Worst?

I’m still wrapping things up, or, rather, pulling things apart and putting them back together slightly differently. Until that is over I’m still in Annapolis. Should be soon that I leave though. In the meantime the few of you that read this blog can read this passage (not really a passage because it’s not of anything, but I’m considering it a passage of this blog so I can use the term because I like it (and I realize I didn’t have to justify that, but I thought I may, because because)) that I composed some months ago when more and more of the days were rising further and further from their burial chambers, shaking off dark clods of dirt from their brightly shining armor, sword tips piercing upward through the soil alongside new grass and flower blossoms, and voices ringing out singing of warmth and food and sex and life and triumph over the night; and masticate on it, or laugh at me, or do whatever seizes you in the moment of consumption.

Sun dapples all. Splatters the world in colors lobbed through the canopy of leaves above me. I think to myself “to do one’s best is the highest aim of humankind.” But what is one’s best? And when does one know when that effort has been made?

The most wondrous, magical, little fly with a pointed tail and a pale band around its abdomen explores the rim of my coffee mug, and I wonder if it is doing its best. It seems to be getting on just fine regardless. Maybe no one has control over their best or worst. Perhaps I should give up all thought on that and live like this fly. Perhaps I already am—perhaps we all are—if only the thought would be let go, to shatter into dust, permitting me more freely to live more simply and easily like this extraordinary creature.