Blonde as hell

I just looked in the mirror on my camping compass and realized: I’m kind of gold-ish blonde these days. It must be all the sunshine.

Well.

Wait.

I’m stuck in this mentality. “It must be all the…” I don’t know what it is.

Maybe there’s a lemon tree sprouting in my thyroid. Maybe the geckos are giving me a dye job in my sleep; all beauty-parlor foil and brushes. Maybe there’s a gene that’s recessive until you hit Southeast Asia, and then it rattles to life like an old Honda. Maybe instead of inducing allergies, the pollen from fuschia flowers punks out the color-producing elves living in my follicles and gets everyone drunk on mezcal.

Yeah, that. My Chicago roommate Sean e-mailed me the song of the day today: Carmella (Beth Orton, Four Tet Remix).

Extremes

I’m up and down. That’s the best way I can put it. Up up up and down down down. And up again. Riding so fast on a moto and then sitting in a hot room with a weak fan. Electric conversations: what’s happening in the Khmer Rouge trials and how Libya is churning; then curling up inside, alone in a room of opaque languages. Sipping from a coconut on a beach. Eating peanut butter crackers from a crinkly package on a bunk bed. I am looking for an inner compass to match the camping compass I carry. On the beach you asked me: What’s the word for the line where the water meets the boat? The line of flotation? The watermark? I’m not sure, but it changes, as the wooden boat bobs up and down, and me along with it.

Cambodia things

Cam(blog)dia. Author and activist Anne Elizabeth Moore blogs about her work in Cambodia here. She also did a Leadership Residency at Harpswell a few years back; older entries detail her adventures.

Lady Penh. For a sampling of what the cool kids are doing in Phnom Penh, here’s Lady Penh.

Java Arts. I spend a lot of non-dorm hours in cafes like this. Because I couldn’t both work and eat and live in one building all the time, despite the delightfulness of the students. I would lose my ever-lovin’ mind.

NataRaj. In Chicago I walk or bike to work (and damn near everywhere else), several miles a day. Here, without many sidewalks and with very dangerous roads, this becomes tricky. So to keep myself from atrophying into a terrifying shell person: NataRaj, which also teaches yoga to former sex workers and to the Harpswell girls.

Quick Draw. A cool cartoonist who draws one comic per day. He’s based in Phnom Penh but also travels around Asia spreading the good word of comics.

When final conviction tarries

In a new place, in a new role, it’s hard to write. I picture that I will look back and cringe. I picture myself reading THIS and cringing. I am trying to remember: I have little concept of right; wrong; pretentious; lovely; cliched; spankin’ new. I can’t expect to. There’s no way. I just got here.

If you can discover what you are like, if you can discover what you truly believe about most of the major matters of life, you will be able to write a story which is honest and original and unique. But those are very large “ifs” and it takes hard digging to get at the roots of one’s own convictions.

Very often one finds a beginner who is unwilling to commit himself because he knows just enough about his own processes to be sure that his beliefs of today are not likely to be his beliefs of tomorrow. This operates to hold him under a sort of spell. He waits for final wisdom to arrive, and since it tarries he feels that he cannot committ himself to print…. Obviously what such a writer needs is to be made to realize that his case is not isolated.; that we all continue to grow and that in order to write at all, we must write on the basis of our present beliefs.

If you are unwilling to write from the honest, though perhaps far from final, point of view that represents your present state, you may come to your deathbed with your contribution to the world still unmade, and just as far from final conviction about the universe as you were at the age of twenty.

— Dorthea Brande, 1934

Wrong ways are ways too

‎… “Things will develop the way they have to. Wrong ways are ways too. Maybe the right destinations can only be reached by wrong ways. Maybe clarity can only be reached through fermentation. Maybe safety can only be reached by passion. Maybe we can only reach the great, quiet, creative, inner force that unites us by wasting our energies in external conflicts. Maybe this is the only way to bring an end to brutality.

Let us find what we, what each one of us, can do to live up to the present moment. And let us, in all this horror, in all this confusion, in all this dreariness, not lose the joy that we need to grow… and to stand tall.”

– Gustav Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings