Friday, July 13, 2007

Here are some things to think about at home:

1) Hitchhiking in this country is still a viable option. It is easier the further south you go. In Helena, Arkansas, we hitched three rides and didn't even stay the night. One guy even came back to apologize for not picking us up. "You know," he said, "I passed you back there, and I got up here, and suddenly I realized, 'Gosh, those boys wanted a ride.'" Pick-Up trucks are best. And everyone is friendly. If they aren't, don't worry! They won't pick you up.

2) Mark Twain is dead.

3) That said, you can still read Huckleberry Finn. And you can still paddle down the Mississippi River. A majority of people, however, given the choice, would do neither.

4) Meanwhile, paddling is an act so simple sometimes it makes you want to cry. When was the last time you were moved to cry about anything? When was the last time you were truly moved to feel anything at all?

5) On that note, when was the last time you stood entirely naked outside the comfort of your own home?

6) It is so hot out here that it actually ceases to matter. You just sweat and sweat and give up on caring what it looks like. Also, after a while it ceases to smell. Then it is just you and your body, beyond the civilized world of image and social expectation, just doing the things that your body was meant to do.

7) Because of the heat, you appreciate the rain. The weather patterns that flooded eastern Texas and Kansas have now moved onto Arkansas and Mississippi, and huge thunderheads will roll through, lighting up the entire sky, raindrops as big as dimes splattering across the river, endlessly, until even your rainjacket is useless and you just stand there, entirely soaked, water dripping from your hair. People who have alternatives to being outside usually hate the rain. But when you just stand there and let it dump on you, there is nothing to actually hate. It is just water. And after a while, when the rain stops and the sun comes back out, you dry off. Invariably, this is a wonderful process. You were wet, and now you are dry! And the sun is so warm! Because of the rain, you appreciate the heat.

8) Perhaps you are now thinking, 'That seventh thing to think about at home was pretty (fucking) sappy.' But the eighth thing to think about at home is that every sappy river truth you've ever heard is actually true. Some examples: "The river of life has many bends." "You can never step in the same river twice." "No matter what, the river always wins." The United States Army Corps of Engineers has sunk millions, if not billions of dollars into the Mississippi by way of dams, levees, and flood channels, in an attempt to disprove this last fact. To an incredible extent, they have been successful. But then things happen. Take, for example, Hurricane Katrina.

9) Some people do trips like this to see how fast they can go. They climb Mt. Everest, swim the English Channel, they race hot-air balloons around the circumference of the entire planet in eighty days. To the best of my knowledge, people do such things to conquer them; to be able to say that the thing has been done. On an entirely unrelated note, some men spend their entire lives making sport out of sleeping with as many attractive women as they can. Draw your own conclusions.

10) One thing I like to do out here when I am upset is shout "Fuck!" or "Shit!" or "Cock and Balls!" as loud as I can into the air. I do this because it makes me laugh. And then I am not upset anymore.

11) On a related note, one thing you can do out here is whatever you want.

12) But back to you: let's play a stupid game. Ready? Okay: try to think of the last time you realized you were alive. Like you were just sitting there, maybe cutting an onion, or checking your mySpace profile, and suddenly it dawned on you: Gosh, I'm alive! When was the last time you did that? Out here, sometimes it's all there is to do. So regardless of how long it's been, let's do it right now. Think to yourself: Gosh, I am alive. Holy Fucking Shit!!! You're alive!

13) Well look at that.

- g

"I had a good uncle, my late Uncle Alex. He was my father's kid brother, a childless graduate of Harvard who was an honest life-insurance salesman in Indianapolis. He was well-read and wise. And his principal complaint about other human beings was that they so seldom noticed it when they were happy. So when we were drinking lemonade under an apple tree in the summer, say, or talking lazily about this and that, almost buzzing like honeybees, Uncle Alex would suddenly exclaim, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is." So I do the same now, and so do my kids and grandkids. And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'"

- Kurt Vonnegut


Jamie-Lee said...

re: 12 --

sitting in clark park, reading didion, watching the doggies play. tuesday, approx. 7:30 PM.

markie said...

Greetings from Portland and soon to be Seattle. Great posting! That sweat part made me laugh out loud. I was happy.

famille stoa said...

Where are you?????
Mowing the lawn, eating Nutella, going on a nice bike ride idea of feeling alive!
Ryan: c'est le 14 juillet demain!!! Chante la Marseillaise pour moi.

Ezequiel said...

Greetings from Buenos Aires

Last "if this isnt nice..." moment. Monday the 9th, snowed in this city for the first time in 89 years. The first time my grandmother ever saw snowing.

Happy Bastille day mrs Stoa!

Angela said...

Oh my, the "I do this because it makes me laugh. And then I am not upset anymore." made me laugh only because I know it's completely true.

And the ""Gosh, I'm alive!" idea . . I really doubt someone would shout out whilst checking their MySpace profile but hey, anything is possible.

Go nudism. . (!)

Blakey Hartnett Larsen said...

Holy fucking shit - I am.

Next step: try something new. I have been talking about surfing since my parents moved to California, yet have only been in the water twice. Maybe it's about time I take advantage of the summer waves - and of course my status as a person-alive.

*sticks out thumb and pinkie and shakes vehemently with smile on face*

Fernbashket said...

Actually, today I climbed a pretty massive mountain (in Colorado) and at the top I realized "Holy shit!! I'm alive!!" It's such a great feeling to feel that you're alive. You guys are the shit!

-Your loyal Mexican Fan Base

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