"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Sunday, August 15, 2010

8/15/10: Central Square, NY-About Face

I’d first heard about Oregon on Friday. It wasn’t until I knew their departure date that I seriously considered trying to making it happen. If I wanted to, I had a week to turn tail and get from extreme northern New York to Ohio, where I hoped Michelle would pick me up and help me to catch my stage west.

Subconsciously, I knew what I was going to do all along. I have the short-bus habit of quietly making quick, rash, often foolish decisions, then acting out the drama to appear as though I’m anguishing with the already completed process. Often, I even Don Quixote myself into believing I’m still trying to decide. I really hate this tendency!

I wanted to take the opportunity to possibly spend 10-days traveling with my brother. I wanted to spend time with he and Lynette in Idaho. Besides, Lynette and the clan were part of the plan from the very beginning so though I’d miss Maine, I’d get to spend time with family. Right?


The problem was admitting, after all the talk and thought about getting to Maine, that I’d get this close and not finish! After all the high-minded talk about visiting Massena to “make something right in my head”, I’d finally get there, then turn around and leave! Then there was my bike-tour buddy Bruno, who was maybe two hours away in Montreal. I’d hoped to reconnect with him while I was up here, too.

I knew all that would go by the wayside. Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont were going nowhere, unless Bruno’s feeble Quebecois invade! I’d been unable to contact him and besides, my energy was fleeting. I hadn't felt positive about much since Friday. I wasn’t thrilled with my own behavior or, particularly how I reacted to their results and needed something positive to happen. Family time on the road might provide the scene change I needed. Right?


It seemed like a dark cloud of negativity had emerged in Alex Bay and was now stalking me. I’d been given a reprieve, even recaptured some of the old connectivity that I’d been lacking all year but with the radio conversation, I’d opened a door...and poof! Gone.

This articulation only served to worsen things. I was forced to peer back at Andre, Friar, and Ray then quietly re-assess my own complicity, yet again.

The problem was, as I looked back, I couldn’t see where I had necessarily been WRONG in any of my insights! Was it wrong to expect a person to want an answer to his, “how can I be of greatest assistance?” If he were going to answer his own question, wouldn’t it be more authentic to state, “this is how I want to help you”? After all, "words ARE important"!

Was it unfair to scrutinize a public, supposed “reborn man of scripture” who’d renounced wealth, and ask why he was hocking corporate camping gear? Why he was soliciting donations (wealth) for the Sierra Club? How did he reconcile abandoning gluttony for dependence on handouts and charity? And, what would Jesus say to giving interviews subtly touting his righteousness and carrying the articles around as Sierra Club marketing material?

Don't get me wrong: Relatively speaking and by typical standards, Ray’s quest was noble until it ended a couple months ago. But, by utilizing the print media and invoking scripture, he set the bar pretty high, and thus these were (and are) fair questions. Fair questions, but still... something bothered me about the venom I spewed while asking them along with my failure to accept humanity; that, as Ray said, “we’re all flawed human beings.” 

Andre, in particular, haunted me and I had to chuckle as I felt the onset of a forced humility brought on by a difficult personal inventory, and more significantly a clarifying, empty sensation of something lost! Yes, sitting in the rain trying to figure out how to tell myself I’d come all this way only to turn around, yesterday’s cracks grew and I descended a few more steps into a deepening, dark psychological cellar. 

Exhausted and nestled away in this secluded spot, I’d slept for 15-hours finally waking at noon Sunday to the sound of light rain and occasional thunder. The rain would come and go all day, so I spent much of the afternoon in the bivy and chatting on the phone until I had all but decided to take the Greyhound to Ohio. The bus stop was a mile down the road, it left at 10 Monday morning, and would cost way too much! But it seemed the safe, logical thing to do considering my location and new schedule.

It couldn't hurt to at least try to get a ride back toward Watertown to save as much money as I could. Who knows? Maybe I’d get lucky and slingshot far enough so not to need a ticket at all. There were tangible, nagging pangs of regret with the realization that I’d come to the outskirts of Massena just to see a woods and a Stewart’s gas station! In all likelihood, I’d not get up this way again so this was a significant opportunity wasted.

Something deep down grumbled that this had become much too common.

That all went silent shortly after I arrived at the Stewart’s. I struck up a quick conversation with George, and within 30-seconds, somehow, had a ride toward Watertown with this 40-something guy who’d claimed to have been arrested 32-times for everything from assault to armed robbery.

As he turned south west, in his company’s van, it quickly became clear that here was a guy who knew how to read people, ask direct questions, and would tell you the truth simply because what you thought didn’t fucking matter! George went on to tell how he’d since reformed himself, had a beautiful wife who’d stuck by him, was a relatively new father, and learned how to “get respect” in a better way. Along the way, he let me know that I was “fuckin’ nuts. Ballsy. But, fuckin’ nuts!

George dropped me at I-81 about 15-miles north of Watertown and quite close to the scene of the Asscrack Incident. 10-minutes later I was stumbling into the messy van of a character known as "Corny". Another interesting cat, this ornery Corny. The perfect ride when you’re tired or preoccupied: in love with the sound of his own voice, and wanted someone to talk TO--- rather than converse with! He was around 60, talked non-stop about “that crazy fuckin' bitch ex-wife”, being disabled during his time in Viet Nam, his loser son (who sounded like he was doing fine), and how the VA was “fucking him like a $10 whore day and night.” I can’t think of who, but with his receding hairline exposing a round forehead, round nose, peculiar animated mannerisms, and thick New York City accent, he reminded me of someone quite famous.

Corny was going all the way down to Syracuse, but it was getting late and wanting to avoid the sprawl I asked to be dropped 20-miles north at a truck stop in Central Square. It looked as though it was going to downpour, so I quickly found a spot in a woods well past the parked semi’s, set my alarm, and snuggled into the bivy at dusk.