Fushan kids back in bus

California ZephyrMay 2011:
Cross-Country Reality Check



Later we have crossed into Nebraska. It is the next day but early morning and still dark. I have been awake for three days now, with just brief episodes of drifting off to sleep while sitting upright in the lounge. I want to see it all, but I'm afraid that it sees more of me than I see of it. How can that be?

My mother was born in Hastings and has a slight Nebraska accent that you can still hear in the Central Valley in California. But it won't be around long when her generation is gone. As it gets lighter I am seeing grain elevators, but I miss Hastings. Or it sees me but I don't see it.

Too many "its", fireflies, and tits.

"Ouch, keep your hand off, guy!"

 It seems very flat now, even in the dark, and it is raining. A little earlier there was much lightening. Lightening always makes me feel humble. How about you?

I saw Holdrege go by, but how did I miss Hastings? I'm aware of long-term fatigue. I have been up for three days now but I have also been on the road for over four years. I'm tired, deeply tired. Rather than needing a good night's sleep, I sometimes think I need eternal death: complete rest, utter silence. After four years on the road it doesn't seem like such a bad idea unless there is a catch. Will I find myself in a small room with no exit listening to a bunch of idiots on cell phones? Will I come face to face with Sartre asking, "Didn't I tell you so?"

"But the cell phones, Jean-Paul, you didn't mention the cell phones?"

"Didn't have 'em back then? How was I to know?"

What if death is not death at all? Or reincarnation comes immediately? What if death is more life in a world with two suns and a 48-hour day?

Ah, the night before, listening to the guy who was meeting up with his daughter in New York who was graduating from college and off to medical school. How smart she was, how bright, how good, how ... how ... how ... Anyway, he was taking the train there, while the rest of the family was flying because he had a little problem with flying. Too fast, he said; he likes to take his time; he likes to meet people and talk and talk and talk ...

Why doesn't somebody tell the guy to shut up? We all have daughters, great daughters; well, most of them, at least the ones who know how to say no to some totally obnoxious bastard with a big dick who just wants to get into her pants and fuck her and can't quit talking like this son of a bitch ...


Ah, my mood is going but it has been three days without sleep and four plus years on the road so I have these little lapses, these little lapses, these little ... I will rest in New Orleans and it will make all the difference, the difference, all the ... I will think well of people, really, I will. Even of people I hate like this son of a bitch who won't stop talking talking talking about his precious daughter and is clearly aerophobic ...

I finally got a little sleep but I missed Hastings and woke up in Lincoln. It seems that we have entered a kind of agricultural flatland punctuated only by grain elevators and hateful ideas, most of them mine.

Now we are in Omaha and it looks much the same. Or much the same looks a lot like it: more grain elevators and hateful ideas.

The state line is coming up as we cross the Missouri River. I catch a glimpse of the Big Muddy surrounded by much vegetation and swamp land. Quick thought: Is there time for me to jump and be done with it? Probably not. Then we are in Iowa.

Positive thought: I like the farmland in Iowa. Most of it seems to be smaller farms, well-cared-for plots of land. But is there a bit of artist Robert Kipniss in the landscape? Is there an underlying fear or tension or anxiety? I think so.

It is 9:30 AM now. My mind is clearing. We should cross the Mississippi River about noon. No thoughts of jumping now.

I talk to Arnold on various topics. For a "dumb" farm kid from Arkansas, he is a remarkably knowledgeable guy. We talk about organic farming; General Patton, who is a distant relative of mine—the Ayer family didn't think Patton was good enough for the family but finally gave into persistence, a quality that wins wars; worldwide aviation routes shown on flat-panel displays making routes look like anything other than the shortest path; transatlantic cruises; you name it ... And he has learned things on his own, which means he actually knows them.

Most people have been taught what they "know." Then they are given tests to make sure they "know" what they "know." But of course if you actually know something, no test is required. Or if one were, it would be given to the "teacher" to see if he or she knew what you knew. See the difference between knowing and learning?


Learning Verus Knowing