where the writers are


Truth be told, if the headline were dental extraction vs. writing, most people would take dental extraction. So if the choice is to sit at a blank computer screen wondering why nothing is coming or to go to Venice, Italy, lick colorful gelato and go for a gondola ride, the answer is clear. Grazie milla.

Still, I just returned from Venice/Paris/Copenhagen after having a fabulous time, and tomorrow I head off to New York and Minneapolis for nine days, which will be great, and yet I’m itching to stay here and write. It’s why I’m writing now instead of packing. I don’t want to pour liquids into three ounce bottles. Rather I need to reflect some on the traveling I just did.

And I’ll tell you why: because time became so different than the usual. The days were longer and richer. I wasn’t thinking about my book coming out and needing marketing. I wasn’t obsessing over the classes I was about to teach. I wasn’t tweeting and figuring out how to say one of 280 things in 140 characters. Rather, I got to stand at the edge of the Grand Canal, which was more surreal and awesome than all the pictures I’ve ever seen of it. I waved to the people on the vaporetto.

My wife and I also wandered a Paris cemetery and came across Samuel Beckett, Susan Sontag, and Sartre, which could have put an end parenthesis to my thinking but instead I was admiring the light on the tombstones from the trees.

North of Copenhagen at the Louisiana Musuem of Modern Art, I was in thrall with David Hockney’s exhibit of his drawings on many iPad screens. Outdoors, I was in love with the way the wind carried the sound of laughing children rolling down a green grass hill, and a sailboat cruised the bay. On the other side stood Sweden. I love their meatballs.

Every step of the day was new and kept me in the present. Without thinking about Heidegger, I was part of his dasein, living the idea of “presence.”

Also, when in a foreign country, I can’t help but compare. Denmark is supposed to be the happiest country on earth, based on certain happiness factors (food? sex? access to Novocain?), and I wanted to see what the factors were. First, in Denmark, beer is the same price as soda. Second, the women are Danish. While everything besides beer is expensive--gas is $8.25 a gallon and a simple bicycle is $800—women at the beaches and parks go topless.

I suppose these are silly ideas, especially in the presence of my wife, but hey, I had time to be silly. Loved it. I also enjoyed using my camera and now going through my photos. I loved figuring out how the various toilets flushed and how the light switches flicked off.

Alright, NOW I can pack. I’m ready for more. Buy my book in the meantime so I don’t have to market when I return.


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Thanks, Christopher, this was informative, educational and conical.