From Travel

Stuck in the Middle of a Seemingly Inescapable Position

NaNoWriMo excerpt from today’s work:

His father and mother had both been musicians, as well as his grandfather, who he’d only know through vague memories and family images in cloud storage. His parents had insisted he learn keyboards of both type: computer and piano. This let him work out song paths on either physical or virtual instruments whenever he felt like it, and it was a freedom that fed his soul, the practice and art he longed to do whenever he was working his job, or traveling there and then home, afterward. The fact that they’d named him Bluesong was as hopeful as it now seemed inevitable.

Relating Travel Experiences in the Internet Age Isn’t the Mystery It Once Was

[…] I think the main thing is I consider it no fun at all to tell a person about something spectacular when that person has already read about it on the internet and believes they already know all about it. In other words, it’s no fun for it to go something like this: “So tell me about the black beaches!” “Tell me about the Neapolis.” “Tell me about the mud baths.” “Tell me about the temple of Zeus.” “Tell me about the piazza marconi in Agrigento where, at 1 pm, the boys parade around on their Vespas like bees circling the hive.” And I’d say, “Wait a minute, how could you possibly know about that you knob gobbler?” It’s not that I feel thunder being stolen, because that’s not possible. I’m here, and there’s no comparison between exposure to facts and experience, it’s just fun being taken out of it for me.

— Michelle Orange, The Sicily Papers

Home Is Where the Home Is

One thing about finding the passage back to the place I was before: it’s made me very tired.

Traveling is exhilarating, but it usually shreds your creative schedule. On the other hand, you’re feeding your mind, your heart, your soul with an overabundance of newness or—if you’re lucky—strangeness. The flood of sights sounds smells feelings ideas isn’t just intoxicating, it’s positively hangover-inducing. Once drunk on the new stuff, the return to home feels like the morning after.

It is worth it, though. Changing your point of view by completely changing your location has always been a fantastic source of new material, new blood, almost.

You awaken exhausted but renewed, disoriented but with a pack of vibrant memories. It all needs to be sorted through and labeled, but you can feel it: you’re changed, there’s more of you than there was before.

Sitting Here in Bluebird Way

Road trip redux! This time it’s to scout neighborhoods for a move to the Pacific Northwest. Plenty of birdsong abounds.

One of the coolest things about being here in Portland is seeing how much they value their public art. It’s full of the same lively whimsy that abounds in the rest of the city, and right now—with spring regularly misting the streets with rain—trees and grass are greening up in contrast to the manufactured environment.

The newest addition to the rail lines brought public poetry to the transit system, which is a rare thing, indeed. It’s a series of one line poems solicited of the citizenry and selected by blind jury.

Right next to the poem above is a sculpture made of rails, bent into shapes reminiscent of a transit map. It’s completely exposed, yet bears no scratches, scuffs, or marks to mar the beautifully textured rust of its surface. Such a thing denotes respect for art, and I’m touched that thousands of people passing by care for their public work in this way.

Public art is ours. Not to do with as we individually wish, but to appreciate, support, and tend for future versions of us. In the best of circumstances, it inspires and uplifts and becomes part of who we are.

Road Tripping III: Home It Is

The end of any journey comes with mixed feelings. Ask Joseph Campbell. It also comes with new knowledge. We’ve learned things about our companions we never knew, maybe good things, maybe not, but more. If we’re lucky, we know ourselves better.

Mentally, we’re abuzz with information and ideas and experience to process. Emotionally and physically, we’re drained. This internal tussle can leave us befuddled and even quiet. We reflect. We look at our familiar things with new eyes.

Apply these things to the artist’s journey, making a new piece. I’m kinda too tired to do it.

Road Tripping II: The Middle Bit

There’s a moment in any journey where you wonder if it was a good idea. You try to decide if the fun moments you’ve had outweigh the irritation of the discomfort from enclosed spaces, too much unbroken time spent with particular humans, terrible food choices. Time slows to a dreamlike quagmire, then speeds up to a whirlwind.

In Las Vegas, things blur together. Building interiors, eye-searing video boards, the ubiquitous hum of refrigeration, strip malls with outrageously kerned signage, infinite blacktop. Lights. Purposeless walking. Pink lava rock gravel spilling out of every housing development’s landscaping.

But this is just the center of the excursion. There’s miles to press on to, more things that will occur, more decisions you have to make about what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with. And then home, with your own food and habits and bed and cat.