Motto

"All the time I'm not writing I feel like a criminal." -Fran Lebowitz

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Roll the Dice, Write a Novel

“You gotta have a gimmick.” -Ethel Merman

It was early October. October is the month I have come to dread as “The Birthday Month.” My mother, my sister-in-law, two of my nieces, each of them have birthdays in October. Four birthdays in 31 days? That’s like cruel and unusual, no? Because of this, I only date women whose birthdays are in winter.

My oldest niece’s birthday was up first, and it was imminent. Per usual, I had left buying her present to the last minute. Per usual, I had no idea what to give her. Per usual, I was putting too much pressure on myself to get something “cool” for her.

Now, I struggle buying birthday and Christmas gifts for anyone; I find it difficult to buy something in a store or order something online that shows a personal consideration for someone, a special, singular meaning that represents our relationship to each other, and I cannot knit.

My nieces pose an especially tough challenge, however. Since they’re all still young and thus growing in their size and developing in their tastes, I’m convinced that most presents would prove only a fleeting enjoyment. Any article of clothing, they’d grow out of in six months, any toy they’d grow bored by in two weeks.  More importantly, I aspire to be the "cool" uncle who gives them gifts that strike a balance between entertainment and education. "Cool" didn't mean simply "fun," then, it meant "fun" and "advanced" and "meaningful." My oldest niece has begun writing stories, for instance, and I’m always eager to encourage her and her sisters’ artistic sides. Thus, I want gifts from me to be the ones that give them enjoyment while also making them well-rounded people, ones that inspire as well as entertain.

Because let’s be honest, not only do I want them to become well-rounded people, but I’m fully aware that as well-rounded people, they would acknowledge my role in helping them become well-rounded people. Credit where credit is due, no? A gift for them becomes a gift for me, win-win, right?

A tough challenge, however. So, my search for a present for my oldest niece began miserably, as I rejected the idea of clothing, of vapid music or DVDs, of books that seemed either too advanced or not advanced enough. My quest became frantic as the deadline (three days out, the maximum allowed if I expected the gift to be delivered on time by the U.S. Postal Service) loomed. Then, casting about desperately on Amazon, I discovered:



(Photo courtesy of Amazon.com)

Rory’s Story Cubes. A simple but powerful concept for storytelling. Nine six-sided dice with 54 different images on each face. You roll the dice, and use the images that come up as the links to create your own story. You can use the pictures on the six sides of every die to create a nice outline for any storyteller to follow. The basic set contains nine dice, for over a million different potential results. Not quite a million monkeys typing on a million typewriters and coming up with Hamlet, but certainly a boon for possible ideas. Fun. Educational. Thought-provoking. Inspiring. Perfect. 

My problem solved (for this niece, at least, for this year, anyway), I exhaled in relief and ordered the basic set as well as the three-dice “Enchanted” and three-dice “Action” accessory sets, and had them shipped 2nd-day air. I brushed the palms of my hands together: finis. Now my niece could create story after story on her own. Not only could the gift be fun for her but it could also exercise her burgeoning creativity. Pretty cool. She could practice creating stories using the dice as prompts as a way to develop her writing muscles. Work masked as fun.

I could relate. I knew all too well that to become a writer you had to work hard, put in the time, show the discipline, exercise that muscle. Goodness knows it was still a struggle for me. Sure, I’ve written a novel, but only one. Only one, because I suck. I use any excuse not to write. I’d been procrastinating and stalling on my next one, trying desperately to figure out a prompt of my own…

(Lightbulb)

A gift for her could be a gift for me.

Yeah, I know. Writing a novel based on a roll of pictured dice. If I told him the plan, William Faulkner would've taken a sip of bourbon, then spit it right in my face. Pretty lame. A cheap gimmick, yup. I don’t care.

And: not original. If I told her the plan, Virginia Woolf would've taken one of those rocks out of her pockets and thrown it in my face. A quick search on the Internet shows that I won’t be the first to try this. Here are a couple of blogs that discuss the same idea:



I don’t care. I suck because I procrastinate. Whether procrastination comes from fear or perfectionism or sheer laziness, I need to knock it off. Whatever gets me productive, I’ll take it.

So when I called my niece on her birthday to a)confirm she had gotten the gift (these confirmations sometimes prove tricky) and b)confirm she enjoyed the gift, I requested that she do me a favor c):

Roll the story dice and arrange them in an order. I would then write a novel based on that result.

After a brief negotiation over terms (some felt my niece was entitled to a co-authorship and a lion’s share of any future profits; she has settled for a “Story by” credit with renumeration to be determined at a later date, most likely in the form of a very nice dinner at the restaurant of her choice), last Saturday my niece rolled Rory’s Story Cubes and arranged them.

The result was (go L-to-R, top row down):


Uh. Okay?

When I was in college, my friends and I would spend long nights playing the card game “Hearts.” Each and every round when the cards were dealt, it became a point of pride for everyone, upon receiving their cards, to loudly complain about the horrible hand they were dealt. “These are awful!” “What a steaming pile of crap!” “I have, the worst, cards! The worst cards ever!”

A quarter-century later, Rory’s Story Cubes has made me nostalgic.  I mean, look at those dice. Look at them! What the hell am I going to come up with using that? I’m not going to go so far as to accuse my niece of deliberately sand-bagging me, but I feel backed in a corner already. At the same time, however, I do feel challenged to come up with something interesting from that pile of crap. I feel excited to prove that I can come up with something worth reading based on those nine dice. I liked how-to-write-a-book-now.com’s outline vis-a-vis the cubes:

Cube 1: Inciting Incident
Cube 2: Setup (At this point, I will ask my niece to roll one of her “Action” dice, and incorporate the result into the story.)
Cube 3: First Turning Point
Cube 4: Complication( At this point, I will ask my niece to roll one of her “Enchanted” dice, and incorporate the result.)
Cube 5: Second Turning Point/Point of No Return
Cube 6: Build Towards Crisis (At this point, I will ask my niece to roll another “Action” die, and incorporate the result.)
Cube 7: Crisis
Cube 8: Move to Resolution (At this point, I will ask my niece to roll another “Enchanted” die, and incorporate the result.)
Cube 9: Resolution/Outcome

…so I’m going to use that as my clothespins on the line for now. I reserve the right to alter that structure, however. That’s kinda the point, isn’t it? Fly by the seat of my pants, write without a net, see where the pressure takes me? The more I think about it, the more intrigued I am about what story I will create from that pile of mess.

Not only that, but asking my niece to roll the dice put her in a position where I was accountable to her to actually, you know, write the thing. By avowing on the Internet my intention, I make myself accountable to the three people who read this blog, too. As my guilt and my fear have proven to be the most effective motivations, fear over disappointing my niece and three strangers, and the prospect of the resulting guilt might combine to be the most motivational cocktail ever to get me to write my next novel. Perhaps cheap, but also perhaps effective. I’m not above that, and I’m not above gimmicks. But...

Tomorrow:
...One gimmick doesn’t seem like enough. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sophisticated Rogue Update

Hey. Hi. Nice to see you. Yeah, it's been awhile. Six months. Yeah, I get that. Six. Yeah, I'm sorry. I know.  Okay.

Huh? Well, I've been back in the United States for just over six months now, bouncing back and forth from Los Angeles, CA to Boise, ID, around the midwest, and now Philadelphia, PA. I'm trying to figure out what the next step is (spoiler alert: (shrug)), trying to get some things down on paper, trying to decide what creative projects I want to complete next, and decompressing from what was an amazing trip that's only gaining in meaning to me the further I get away from it.


But six months seems like more than enough time to take off from this blog, so let this serve as a re-acquaintance, maintenance, etc. Few things:


1. If you look at the toolbar, you'll see a page marked "Rogue Trip - Full". I've gone through all of my posts during my trip around the world, compiled all of my writings ("Travel Dispatches," "Rogue Trip Playlettes," and various other thoughts), and put them in chronological order. It came out to 86 single-spaced pages, which surprised the Hell out of me. Like three of those pages are actually interesting! Seriously, as I compiled the posts I read some of them, and they did bring a smile to my face. I've been writing about the trip since I've returned to the United States in the hope that something tangible (a book, play, whatever) will emerge from my memories of 27 countries in ten months. Having the written posts all in order did start to make the narrative congeal for me. Maybe you'll enjoy the congealing, too. 


Next, I'll be breaking them up into individual posts on the page, tagging them, etc. for easier navigation.


2. I'm heading back to Los Angeles next week, where I'll begin rehearsals for the re-mounting of The Sophisticated Rogue, a play I wrote and first mounted at Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre in 2006. Then I directed but this time I'm actually acting in it, a terrifying prospect. I'll be sure to pass along more information as it emerges, but for now know it'll run for three Saturday performances only - December 5th, 12th, and 19th at 8:30pm. Also, I'll be maintaining sort of a "production diary" during rehearsals on this blog, just to capture the magnitude of my fear and anxiety of performing the largest role I've ever done... 


3. If you've arrived at this page on your own, be sure to "like" Sophisticated Rogue Media on Facebook, and follow me @NobleJester on Twitter (I'm consolidating my Twitter into just one account). If you have friends who might like my stuff, let 'em know.


4. I'm going to be posting on the blog more often, updating everyone on my creative stuff, and bringing people along on some ideas that I want to complete, so be sure to check back to see what's up.


5. I would like to thank everyone who checked out the blog during my trip. I was away for a long time, and the encouragement I received from people who enjoyed what I posted was a huge help in getting me through it. I'm glad you could watch my journey, in a way. But traveling was only the first part of the "trip." Now that I'm back, the second part is to have my travels prompt me to greater art, to become more productive and grow as a writer. Hopefully you'll continue to watch as the journey continues.

Friday, April 3, 2015

#RogueTripSOTD - 03.04.2015

International Arrivals, San Antonio International Airport, San Antonio, Texas,
United States of America - 03.04.2015, 4p

#RogueTripPOTD - 03.04.2015

San Antonio, Texas, United States of America - 03.04.2015, 4p

#RogueTripPlaylette 03.04.2015 - "Re-Entry"

INT. SAN ANTONIO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS - AFTERNOON
(Motioned from the head of the line, BILL approaches the CUSTOM AGENT, sitting behind his kiosk. Bill hands over his passport and his United States Customs Declaration Form.)
BILL: How’re you doing?
AGENT: Good, good. How’re you?
BILL: I am fine.
(The agent looks at Bill’s passport, then runs it through the scanner.)
AGENT: What brought you to Mexico? Business or pleasure?
BILL: Pleasure. Actually the end of traveling-
AGENT: Uh-huh.
(The agent thumbs through Bill’s passport.)
AGENT: You know, if you travel this much, you should look into our Global Entry Program.
(He searches and finds a business card and hands it to Bill.)
AGENT: It’s really useful for people who travel a lot. You can just go to one of the automatic kiosks and process yourself right through. You should think about it.
BILL: Yeah, thanks a lot. I’ve been traveling for nine straight months, though. I don’t think I’m gonna be traveling much more in the near future. It was amazing but I'm probably gonna take a break for a little bit.
(Pause.)
AGENT: You should really look into it; it’s a great program.
BILL: Cool. I’ll look into it.
(Pause.)
BILL: Oh, is that it?
AGENT: Yup. Take care.
(Bill walks away from the kiosk, and back into the United States of America.)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Possible Soundtrack Selections for Scene in San Salvador International Airport - INCLUDES PRODUCTION NOTES

I had seven hours to kill in the San Salvador International Airport before my connection to Managua, Nicaragua. So, in addition to:

1. drinking too much coffee
2. drinking too much beer
3. lingering wa-ay too long in the Kenneth Cole Duty-Free Shop (I’m very much looking forward to starting a wardrobe again once I get back to the States, a wardrobe that doesn't include t-shirts and cargo shorts)
4. actually window-shopping and testing men’s fragrances*
5. watching a simulated FIFA 2016 video game match and cursing a video Luis Suarez
6. coming up with the following expression (to be used when, in the future, a daughter of mine comes down the stairs dressed too provocatively for, like a date or something): “Go back upstairs and change. You look like you work at a duty-free shop in the San Salvador International Airport.” (shrug) I’m working on it…
*Men's fragrances suck. Nothing beats simple Edge Gel After-Shave. If only I had some. Man, do I smell. 

…in addition to all that, I-

7. created my: “Top Ten Possible Songs (Using Only the ‘Physical’ Playlist On My iTunes) to Accompany The Scene at Plot Point One of My Action/Thriller Blockbuster Movie Where I Exit a San Salvador International Airport Men’s Room Upon De-planing/Freshening Up & Then Stride Through the Crowds With EXTREME Purpose To Meet With SOME-one Important, Unknown As Yet to Audience (While Wearing a Backpack)”

I did this by doing approximately one dozen laps of the San Salvador International Airport Departure Gates 1 -18. For each song, I started in the men’s room, washing my face, looking at myself in the mirror, and then - AT THE PERFECT MOMENT - striding out of the banos and walking.

I managed to listen to ten possible songs before a)the weird looks from the women working at the various duty-free shops became too much to ignore and b)the annoyed looks from the policeman at Gate 16, with the combat pants tucked into the boots, the semi-automatic on his hip, and German Shepherd at his side, became too much to ignore. 

Without further adieu. In descending order (with accompanying “PRODUCTION PROS/CONS”):

9. “In My Time of Dying” - Led Zeppelin.

PROS: esoteric, deep Led Zep cut, so old it’s new? Attract baby-boomers?
CONS: way too long; too much buildup before the song accelerates; not esoteric in fact, way too old for today’s film audiences; baby-boomers not wanted as primary demographic.

8. “Lonely Boy” - The Black Keys.

PROS: guitar intro works nicely with washing of face/paper towel wipe of face/serious, questioning look at self in mirror at men’s room sink.
CONS: overused at this point; a little on-the-nose. 

7. “Destino de Abril” - Rick Garcia & Rene Reyes.

PROS: A Latin song for a Latin American Airport? Synergy?
CONS: No, way too on-the-nose for a Latin American airport - REMEMBER, THE MUSIC IS TO ACCENT THE CHARACTER, NOT THE LOCATION; I walk too fast for the rhythm - maybe for the sequel when I’m sixty.

6. “Call to Arms” - Angels & Airwaves.

PROS: Good men’s room sink buildup/switch (see 8), perhaps just the right touch of hope for an anti-hero?
CONS: Too positive for an anti-hero? Blink-182 is much better band, we don’t want to remind audiences of that. I can just imagine the preview cards: “What, you were too cheap to get Blink?” Don’t go there.

5. “The Pretender” - Foo Fighters.

PROS: symbolism in song title? Dave Grohl would be a perfect cameo for surfer I met in Costa Rica.
CONS: Nirvana is a better band (see 6).

4. “Tougher Than Leather” - Run-DMC.

PROS: perfect rhythm/beat to match my stride; old-school hip-hop provides good background to character; probably affordable.
CONS: Kevin Smith already used it in one of his pieces of shit (CLERKS II?), not good to link with his hackery; hip-hop with wailing electric guitars may confuse audience; when examined, lyrics are really pretty stupid and inane (Run-DMC really got kind of a pass on this). I mean, they say "unconceivable" when it should be "inconceivable" - that's unconscionable. Can't in good conscience use this piece of music.

3. “This Is War” - 30 Seconds to Mars.

PROS: primal scream in song’s beginning really works when I get stuck walking behind old people in airports; there are several good opportunities for me to actually begin SPRINTING through airport - RELATABLE; chorus at song’s end a terrific opportunity for me to start dodging fellow pedestrians, a la O.J. Simpson in Hertz commercials.
CONS: Running through airports a la O.J. Simpson has been ruined by O.J. Simpson; would probably rather work with O.J. Simpson than with Jared Leto.

2. (tie) “Picasso Baby” - Jay Z.

PROS: severe switch of beats in song’s middle is perfect for the “finish my coffee white mocha/toss into garbage can/finger point at airport janitor all in one motion” - good discovery, there (REHEARSALS MATTER.); perhaps get Beyonce as female lead?
CONS: I really listen to too much Jay Z; pretty clear Jay Z is just reeling off names of artists he’s familiar with; I’m still uncertain as to whether the “Fox’s Box” is referring to Megan or Vivica A. - confusing?

2. (tie) “Trip Like I Do” - Crystal Method.

PROS: hip; energetic; vaguely nymphomaniac female voice lends sex and this film WILL BE SEXY. “I want you to trip like I do,” is a lyric that lends synergy to the sequence - LEVELS.
CONS: San Salvador International Airport not really a “rave-like” location; felt strange to be staring at myself in the mirror with a dude repeating, “The Christian…”; this film should be agnostic; I may be, in fact, too “techno-looking” for this piece of music.

1. “Force Marker” (from the film HEAT) - Brian Eno.

PROS: perfect “stride through crowd” piece of music; energetic; guaranteed to get audience involved for Act Two. 
CONS: makes me want to rob the nearest bank wearing a suit and then conduct a firefight on Figueroa Av. - COST PROHIBITIVE. Table until foreign financing secured.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

TRAVEL DISPATCH - WEEK THIRTY-FOUR - "Advice From an Old Thai Woman"

The train kept stopping and starting, sometimes every goddamn two minutes. I was getting frustrated. Each time the train stopped, not at a station but in the middle of the countryside, seemingly waiting for nothing, I alternated glances from my iPhone, to out the window, to the rest of the car. Outside, the sky was a brilliant blue and held stark, white clouds, and the fields and rice patties of the eastern Thai countryside were a shimmering green, a painting come alive. Inside, however, the train car was hot and humid despite all the windows being wide open, was loud from the chatter of families, the laughter of children, and the sales calls of vendors walking the aides with buckets of sauced rice, skewered chicken, and vegetables, and was smelly from sauced rice, skewered chicken and vegetables, and the sweat of the crowds of people sitting three to every two seats and packed in the aisle, a nightmare come alive.

My glances at my phone were hopeful; I wanted the time on the display to somehow promise that despite the slow pace, the train WAS going to arrive on time, to reassure me that this leg of the commute was almost over, that soon enough I’d be on my way to the next step.

The phone neither promised nor reassured. It apologized. It read 1:16pm. The train was supposed to have arrived at 1:16pm. The train was not going to arrive at 1:16pm.

The train from Bangkok wasn’t even going all the way to Siem Reap. It would stop at the Thailand border, at the small town called Aranyaprathet, and from there I would pass through immigration, then cross over the border into Cambodia, where I would, er, pass through immigration, then pick up a bus in another small town called Poipet, which would take me to a bus station somewhere down the road, where I would catch, er, ANOTHER bus that would take me the rest of the way to Siem Reap.

I had been told that the buses in Poipet left with regularity each day, until they no longer did. Nobody I asked seemed to know at what point in the day they no longer did. It wouldn’t be surprising to me if that point was 1:17pm.

So I was concerned that I would miss the last bus to the last bus to Siem Reap, which would make me miss my reservation to my Siem Reap hotel, which would make me miss seeing Angkor Wat the next day, which would, which would, DOMINOS FALLING…and after each glance at my phone, my glance around the rest of the train car became more and more frantic. I could feel the car closing in on me. Why wouldn’t it start moving again? WHEN would it start moving again? Every moment seemed to bring more and more people into the car. What if I had to walk down the aisle? It was jammed, it would be impossible. WHEN would this train start moving?

I looked at my phone again - 1:17 - then up at the car. Across the aisle, in the seat facing me was an old Thai woman. Wrinkled, worn, her white hair pulled back into a bun, she seemed perfectly comfortable despite the heat and chaos. She stared at me. I looked back at my phone to avoid her gaze: still 1:17.

I looked back up.

She was still staring at me, but now she was smiling, and her smile held my gaze.

She nodded her forehead toward the phone in my hand, shook her head and said to me in accented English, “Forget the time.”

***

Time on this trip has proven to be a paradox. From the beginning, when I had almost ten blank months in a planner to fill with experiences, it seemed endless. “I have all the time in the world,” I thought back in July. Planning my loose agenda around the globe, I worried that I couldn’t possibly have enough places and events to cover all of the days. As I would itemize places with those days ("three days in Singapore, five in Kuala Lampur..."), however, I would suddenly be gripped with the realization that the days would burn quickly. I wanted to be able to devote enough time to every single place I visited but that clearly proved impossible. “If I go to Nepal for two weeks and have to be in London on January 3rd, that really tightens up India and I’ll barely have time for Africa…” and so on.

“Time flies.”

If this trip ends when I imagined it would, it will have lasted 288 days, almost ten months. Back in July, when I thought about how many days were left, it seemed impossible that they would all come and pass. On some level, it still feels that way. Today, it’s almost eight months into the journey and there are still fifty days remaining. Fifty! Even after almost 240, fifty days seems like a pile, somehow. I know, however, that those days are going to pass like a (snap) of my fingers. Well, perhaps not like a (snap), the days neither fly nor drag by (see below), but they WILL pass. They are going to come and go.

“Time is running out.”

This trip is ending soon. How I can feel both that the trip has a long ways to go yet is almost over confuses me. But I am determined to not let it affect how I feel about it. I’m determined to “forget the time” and recognize how all times must end.

“It’s about time.”

I find myself at once looking forward to my trip’s conclusion but also dreading it, for the conclusion not only means that I’m no longer ON this adventure - “time’s up” - but that the next part of the adventure will be here and I’ll be forced to address it. I want to get a lot of work done when the next part of this adventure begins in April, and for that to happen I better learn to manage my time. Right now, I don’t know exactly how I’ll address it. “Only time will tell.” Also, how will this trip have changed me? I don’t know. “Only time will tell.”

I have to remind myself that this trip is its own animal, just like whatever happens after the trip is over is its own animal, and that there is no “right” amount of days for anywhere I’m going, no matter where I end up…

…Just as there’s no “right” amount of ways to spend each day now. One of the things I’ve most enjoyed about this whole trip is I’ve allowed myself to spend my time the way I want, to even WASTE some time along the way. There have been days I’ve seen eight tourist attractions, days where I've seen billions of dollars'  worth of art, and days where I’ve done nothing but watch “Parks & Recreation” on my laptop. I do what I want with my time, and I decide what I want to do with my time, often right at the time. That’s a paradox for me, too. For so much of life, most of us have somewhere to be at a certain time. Work at a certain time, until a certain time. You have to be here then, and here then. Aside from catching a bus, train, or plane, that has not been an issue for me in the past eight months. It takes some getting used to. So I’ve been able to work on what that Thai woman told me, to work on “forgetting the time,” because for these 288 days, time hasn’t really mattered.

"My time is my own…"

…even the time that’s passed. Again, the days themselves don't move slowly. The past on this trip, however, has become a distant yet flexible accordion of memories. Perhaps it’s because the trip has been so long, or perhaps it’s because I’ve spent a great amount of it alone, unable to immediately bounce the experiences off another for perspective, but every day that passes seems to instantly zoom into the distant past, as if it hyperspaces away from me, a spaceship of a day's worth of images and feelings. The day I drove my rental car out of the Chateau Marmont parking lot seems a million miles away. Australia seems forever ago. The day I arrived in Rio seems the same forever ago, but it was less than a month that I was trying to memorize fake exit itineraries at the Lisbon airport to ensure Brazil would grant me entrance. Last year I couldn't remember an actor's name - JOHN C. REILLY, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? - while watching him in a movie. So I’m convinced that soon I’m going to try to look back on this whole journey but my mind will have discarded everything. But it hasn’t yet. I don’t forget anything about this trip. When I choose to think about a day gone by, it comes right back to me as if I’m pulling on it with a bungee cord. It snaps into focus and I find new details every single time I dwell on it. But once a day is over during this trip, it’s almost as if it becomes a cherished memory right away. It’s given weight. That’s a strange feeling. Is it because it’s part of something “special” to me? Is it because it’s MINE, and mine alone? In normal life, I struggle to remember the previous Tuesday. But so far, I’ve been able to flip through my mental catalogue of every single day since July 3rd, 2014 and see each day as vividly as if it were today. I may have to snap it back to me, but every day is an important time…

…even when the day involves something I’ve gone through time and time again. So many bus rides, through the hearts of Asia and South America, where I look out the window at the countryside while I listen to my iPhone to pass the time. So many train rides, across Europe and Australia, over nights, where I listen to my iPhone and struggle to sleep for a suitable time. So many immigration checkpoints, where I wait on line, worry that I’ll have the right visas and fees and stamps, while I listen to my iPhone and bide my time. So many rituals - “Find an ATM, find a currency exchange, find the subway, find the place where you’re staying, Billy, THEN you can grab breakfast/lunch/dinner/a beer, THEN you can decide where your coffee shop is, THEN you can start to explore…” So many hotel rooms. So many AirBnB apartments, where so many times I feel like an intruder for only a brief while before my host makes me feel as if I’ve never been more welcome than where I am at that moment.

Not so many hostels, heh.

So many mornings getting up too early to pack my backpack, to try another way to make the packed bag more compact, to realize I could’ve slept another half-hour, to check out, to say goodbye to my host, to get back to the bus station on time, the train station ahead of time, the airport with plenty of time, to leave - most of the time leave only for A time, ‘cause I WILL be back ANOTHER time - to go to the next place...

...where, more often than not, I’ll have a great time.

The repetition can be numbing, the logistics and the movement providing nothing tangible really except for discomfort and occasionally panic. But that repetition is as part of the journey as everything else, and as much as I can hate it at the time, it can also be those logistics, that discomfort, that introduces you to another traveler who’s just as uncomfortable, and suddenly a friendship is born. All it takes is taking a breath and asking, “Where are you traveling from?” and the follow-up, “Do you speak English?” Sometimes those logistics, and the physical act of movement, from the room, to the station, to the border, over the border, onto the next destination, can be a comforting sense of deja vu…

(…and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes I AM actually crossing over the Brazil/Argentina border at the EXACT same spot for the SECOND time in four days not because of some sense of deja vu, but because the first time I tried to cross I had neglected to pay the Argentine Reciprocity Fee and no, as a matter of fact one CAN’T pay that AT the border even though it’s 2015 and it’s as simple as having a credit card machine there, so yeah, I’m not getting into Argentina and no, the next bus from Foz do Iguacu to Buenos Aires isn’t until Sunday, so yeah, I’m going to have to walk BACK to Brazil and hope that I can change my ticket and argue with the ticket agent via his computer’s Google Tranlate and then realize I didn’t get my passport stamped for me coming BACK into Brazil so I’m going to have to walk BACK to the border from whence I just came and get that stamp and lemme tell ya,by the end of it I’m gonna say, “Fuck it, I don’t care how much the hotel costs,” because that’s just going to be all-the-way-around a shitty time…)

…But one day I’ll be able to ask myself, “Remember the time you got rejected trying to cross the border into Argentina?” and the memory and anecdote will be worth it. And in between the logistics are the day-to-day, once in a lifetime experiences I'll be able to ask myself, "Remember the time?" Just like I’ll be able to ask myself, “Remember the time you thought a guy was pointing a gun at you at that Hungry Jack's at three in the morning in Adelaide, Australia?” and “Remember the time you were so close to a swimming dolphin in Bali you could’ve stuck your finger in its blowhole?” and “Remember the time you sang karaoke in Beijing with two different sets of people within four hours of each other?” and “Remember the time that woman in Vientiane offered you a full-time job as a bar manager on the spot?” and “Remember the time you walked around London for the first time?” and “Remember the time you first caught a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower?” and “Remember the time you made a friend in Perth/Singapore/Nepal/Barcelona/Rio/on/on/on?”  

And on and on and on. So maybe, with all due respect to that old Thai woman, I will, but I won’t, “forget the time.”


But I’ll remember the time someone told me to forget the time, and how important that time was to me. 

#RogueTripSOTD - 26.02.2015

Rio de la Plata - 26.02.2015, 10a

#RogueTripPOTD - 26.02.2015

Rio de la Plata (separating Argentina and Uruguay) - 26.02.2015, 10a

#RogueTripPOTD - 25.02.2015

Pare Parrilla, Buenos Aires, Argentina - 25.02.2015, 9p

#RogueTripPOTD - 24.02.2015

Buenos Aires, Argentina - 24.02.2015, 6p

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Monday, February 9, 2015

#RogueTripSOTD - 09.02.2015

Cristo Redentor, Parque Nacional de Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 09.02.2015, 4p

#RogueTripPOTD - 09.02.2015

Cristo Redentor, Parque Nacional de Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 09.02.2015, 4p

Sunday, February 8, 2015