I spend about half an hour trying to find the henna tattoos, located at 4:00 in center camp. Hot and cranky, I finally give up. This has certainly turned into a shitty day.
Then I stumble upon friends and next thing I know I’m on an art car with some sort of south seas theme. It takes us to a memorabilia-filled tiki bar tucked into a bus and I’m drinking rum drinks and talking to a psychiatrist about phobias when I meet an older burner at the bar who’s been doing this since the early 90’s and he kisses my hand and suddenly I feel so welcome here.
Read more, see more photos and enjoy the song of the day at Day 16. What Rules? What Road?
Yup. It’s a big ol’ sheriff’s truck, setting smack dab in the absolute middle of nowhere hidden by the only hill for miles. As I go by, he steps out of the vehicle and points something at me, a speed detection device I assume. By then I’m doing 34 mph and giving him the finger in my head.
Doesn’t this man have anything better to do? No, he doesn’t.
Read more at Day 11. Gimme Three Steps Towards Nevada, and enjoy my song of the day below.
I have less of a sense of time. Hours pass unnoticed when I write, minutes last forever as I stare at a blank page. I attribute this to living more inside my head than out of it. But if hours and minutes confound me, years and decades are worse.
Read more at A sense of time.
(For more of my recent thoughts on time, see my post Spending Time.)
Big numbers kind of all sound the same to us. If you tell me something is 100 million miles away, or 100 trillion miles away, it gets the same reaction. Far. Damn far. Never mind that one is a million times more far than the other…
What do you say we get rid of these big numbers?
We run our government, and the good, bad and ugly parts our country, with 1/6 of what we take in. Incredible isn’t it? You’d think if we could do that, we could have avoided getting into this mess in the first place.
Read the complete post at How Much for a Wall?
Rescue workers the world over had come to know Olumiji as the tall, thin Nigerian man who showed up after earthquakes, mudslides and tsunamis to offer assistance, and who had an uncanny ability to find barely alive souls in the wreckage. He stayed out of their way and asked for nothing in return, so most wrote him off as a harmless oddball. Some speculated that he may have lost a loved one himself long ago in a natural disaster. In a way they were right.
Read more at Outraged by the day-to-day fears endured by more than half of his fellow humans.
I can tell you that I wrote these books filled with a sense of energy and purpose unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life. Many days, writing wasn’t just what I wanted to do, it was all I wanted to do. It was an addiction, an obsession, and a nepenthe against all the world’s ills. I let it consume me, and I enjoyed the ride.
Read more at Why would anyone call a collection of books 46. Ascending?
It might have to do with my life long addiction to science fiction. I’m scared of nuclear annihilation and being replaced by cockroaches. Or by human-eating alien plants. Have you ever seen “Little Shop of Horrors?” If you’re prone to paranoia about what is going to replace you, I do not recommend it.
Me, I’m afraid of having the human race replaced by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. And have you seen the latest “Planet of the Apes” movie? No matter how bad the script is, you can still worry about being replaced by sentient animals. Then of course, there are always zombies and vampires, and don’t even get me started on artificial intelligence. Am I only one in the world who took the Terminator movies seriously? Or Ex Machina?
Read more at Replacing me with …
(Read more about my trip to Kenya at Smiling my way across Kenya, Still a Sunrise?, Like Eating Crab and Happy Peace Day, Chinese Person in Tent Number 59)
“What do you hope your daughter studies?” I asked.
The question seemed to make him sad.
The U.S. presence in Kenya
“She won’t have so many options to choose from,” he told me. He’d been careful to keep most of his opinions to himself as we traveled, and this is probably a wise thing for any travel guide, anywhere, to do. But for just a moment he spoke from his heart.
“It doesn’t bother me that you don’t appreciate all the opportunities that you have in your country. What bothers me is that you don’t even recognize that you have them.”
Read more at Still a Sunrise?
(Read more about my trip to Kenya at Like Eating Crab, Smiling my way across Kenya, Replace me with … and Happy Peace Day, Chinese Person in Tent Number 59)
I can give you a long list of things I do not believe in, and an even longer list of kind-ofs to which I can add many qualifiers. But today, I’m forcing myself to make a short list of simple virtues in which I firmly believe. Virtues that can shape my everyday actions, you know, Wonder Woman style.
Read more at Believe.
(For more Wonder Woman inspired thoughts, see Top Requirement for a Superhero, It’s About What You Believe, I believe in appreciating those who protect us. All of them, and Believe in Tomorrow.)
I spent the summer of 1972 checking groceries, making out with my high school boyfriend, and trying my first marijuana. At the time, I needed both the money and the worldly experience because come September, I was off to study journalism in the big city of Chicago.
Even though I was going to be too young to vote, I also spent that summer following politics. I’d met Nixon the previous year and felt a visceral dislike for him. I’d become increasingly opposed to the Vietnam war. I was a geeky high school debater with a lot of opinions, and less of them favored the GOP each day. Oh, and I loved spy novels.
So on June 18, when I heard about a break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters, of course I was intrigued. Over the next two years I would become enthralled by the enfolding story.
Read more at And that’s the way it was, June 18, 1972.
(For more segments about June days from long ago, see That’s the Way It Was June 10, 1947, June 15, 1984, June 28, 1888, and June 30, 1940.)
But because the stories I tell myself are never told from a single point of view for very long, how could the stories I tell others ever be? One of my greatest fascinations with a tale is how differently the events appear to various characters. So if you read something I write, be prepared to hear the plot unfold through several sets of eyes.
Read the entire post at Point of View.
(For more excerpts from my new novel visit Am I sure I’m Sherrie?, Worry about those you love and write about what you know, Cease worrying when you can and write about what you know, and The Amazing Things I Get to Do.)
Never ran a stop sign? Crossed the street on a red light? Exaggerated the value of your clothing donations on your income return? Never double parked or jaywalked or even drove a single mile over the speed limit? Ever?
She had their attention then, and we generally went on to have a pretty lively discussion about what it means to be a law-abiding citizen. I liked to talk about Jack Sparrow’s famous quote that his pirate code was really more of a “guideline.” The fact is, we all consider some laws to be guidelines, particularly when we believe that consequences of our breaking them will not hurt anyone. The perception of which laws this applies to changes over time.
Read the entire post at Have you ever broken a law?
This is a post about Aretha Franklin and wearing a hijab and my mother’s funeral, and it comes to you from a cafe in Marrakesh Morocco.
I’m staring out the window at the crowds of tourists and locals crossing a busy street in front of the Koutoubia Mosque as I write. I’m alone in this city, far out of my comfort zone, and I’ve just ordered my first couscous. I settle into the ornate red pillows, ready for a genuine Moroccan experience, when I recognize the unmistakable voice of Aretha Franklin in the background.
Now I like Aretha as much as anyone and maybe more than most, but she is kind of getting in my way here, and it’s not even one of her better songs. I listen more closely and I feel the ghost of my mother snuggle into the pillows beside me.
Read the entire post on my c3 blog at “My Way.”
So I get to write a book about human trafficking but you don’t? Who decides when enough about a subject is enough, or whether the handling of a difficult topic is sensitive or exploitative?
I can’t answer that question. I do know that I never want to see ugly topics like disease and assault (and poverty, racism, domestic violence, homophobia, child neglect, human trafficking, war, and gun violence) swept under a giant collective carpet. Awareness can lead to solutions. But I also think it is fair to consider how toxic the atmosphere can become once we are fixated on a difficult subject, especially for those struggling to recover from emotional wounds that get strained a little every time the subject arises.
Please read the entire post on my c3 blog at We need to talk about this, just maybe not so much.
Those of us not in politics have few ways to steer the human race away from the machinery of war. One of those is travel. As we spend time with others who are currently demonized, or who once were, we learn to question the assumptions about other nations, religions, races, continents, and what ever else you have when you describe “those people” in terms vile enough to make the average citizen believe that they must die. Of course, you can’t just get on a bus or plane and go somewhere. You need to interact.
Read the entire post on my x0 blog at Happy International Day of Peace, Alberto and Maria!
Is a course of action better if it results in less harm? Most people would say yes, at least until they are confronted with the reality of the choices made by those who struggle to improve the world without making it perfectly right.
What am I talking about here? Well, drug addiction and educating women in Afghanistan and preventing pedophiles from molesting children and female genital mutilation and pretty much everything else I’d rather not discuss or think about. It turns out that there is a lot of icky stuff in the world, and it’s hard to make it any of it go away.
Read the rest of this post on my x0 blog at Do Less Harm.
… Only the book ended up being about Nigeria instead. You see, in 2010, when I started to write it, Americans on the whole considered Nigerians scarier than Arabs. I had just taken a job with a Nigerian oil company where I often worked late in a common room and couldn’t help but overhear the phone calls of my young, male Nigerian co-workers as they called home.
Please read the entire post on my x0 blog at More in Common
The world, our world, is filled with magic when we are willing to use a broad brush to define enchantment. And why not? We touch upon telepathy and magic charms, natural shape shifters and mysterious potions, if you open your eyes wide enough in the aquarium or the pharmacy to see the correlations.
Read the entire post on my z2 blog at The time machines all around you.
It’s back to the old empathy thing, I think. I don’t have a personal link with spies or lawyers or the history of the cold war, but the astronaut wannabe in me identified so much with the man left behind. I’ve lived in Houston, toured NASA, read countless things about manned missions to Mars as background for my own book d4. But it goes further than that.
I am in awe of Andy Weir, who wrote the well researched and highly accurate book about an astronaut stranded on Mars. He was a little known science fiction author, well, just like me. Word is that he got frustrated having his stories turned down by publishers, and that in 2011 he started posting chapters of “The Martian” to his website instead. How could I not love this guy? Of course I want his movie to win.
Read the entire post at “The Martian” and why do we like what we like?
While researching z2 I learned about how unwanted Italians circumvented the immigration laws of the day by crossing the Rio Grande and coming in as more welcome Mexicans. I was astounded to learn of the extent to which Asians were denied entry into the early U.S. under any circumstances. My own ancestry is largely German and, yes, there was a time when some states tried to keep out the undesirable Germans, too.
I don’t talk about this to make light of the group hate that plagues us today. I don’t think society will ever look back on our racism and xenophobia and laugh. I least I hope not. Rather I want to point out how ultimately petty and harmful our biases of today will someday seem.
Read the entire post at Time and Hate.