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
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
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
"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
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 ...
BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH REALLY LIKE YOU SO MUCH SWEETIE
BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH NOW JUST MOVE A LITTLE THIS WAY HONEY BLAH BLAH
BLAH BLAH BLAH SO I CAN UNHOOK BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH ...
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
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
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.
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