Saturday, January 24, 2009


I was thinking of Invisible Man by Ralph Elison this morning as I was waking up, about the time I was reading it, sitting outside a Starbucks when a stranger asked if he could sit at the table with me. I obliged. He asked me if my book was about the television show, or the movie. I politely smiled and described the plot of the novel. He wasn't too interested in that, but began relating pieces of his life. He was once a carpenter and had lived in a Christian commune some twenty or thirty years ago. He had a belly on him, had a grey beard, wore a sailor's cap. It was crisp Autumn weather--chilly, but comfortable enough to wile away the time outside. I could tell this guy was a recovering alcoholic by his demeanor, his desperate humility, and not too far into the conversation he hinted directly that he still battled to avoid the bottle. I liked him. I like all suffering, desperate fools for I am one. 

Toward the end of our conversation, I felt a little splatter on my shoulder. My new friend laughed and said, "You've just been crapped on!" I examined the white streak on my shoulder, then looked up at the sparrow's butt hanging off the eaves overhead. Seeing my disgust, the alcoholic said, "That's good luck, you know. To be crapped on." 

"Oh, really?" I asked. 

"Yeah, I get crapped on all the time." 

Well, I could see it was working wonders for him. I gathered he hadn't held down a real job in years, was shuffled from friend's house to relative's house, was barely holding on. 

Weeks later, I was standing outside work while a coworker smoked a cigarette and we talked about women and cars. It was quitting time. I felt a huge plop on my hatless head. I looked up. Perched on a metal rafter, I met a pigeon's butt eye-to-eye. We're talking a huge bird turd, not a tiny splat. I said to my coworker, "I've been shit on!" I cupped the area of my hair to keep the rotten mass from shifting as I ran into the office bathroom. Can't tell you how many times I rinsed my hair with hand soap. After the shock subsided, I laughed maniacally. Suddenly I had all the good luck in the world. 

Milan Kundera, in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, waxes briefly on the theological dimension of poo. This is from the translation by Michael Henry Heim: 

Shit is a more onerous theological problem than is evil. Since God gave man freedom, we can, if need be, accept the idea that He is not responsible for man's crimes. The responsibility for shit, however, rests entirely with Him, the Creator of man.

Friday, January 23, 2009


We watched a documentary on homelessness a few months back, and one homeless interviewee said that at least he had freedom, something a 9-5 rat in a cage severely lacks. Today marks my second day out of the cage. I don't intend to enjoy this freedom forever, nor trade shingles for corrugated cardboard. No one ever does. But the past couple days have been 100% stress free, an alien feeling for me. I feel ten years lighter. At the moment, I don't think I've made a mistake. We'll see what I'm saying in a few months, struggling to adjust to the linguistic, social, and atmospheric weathers of my new home. Earlier today I descended upon Arcoverde from space with Google Earth, after examining all my Boston haunts and hovering over my Louisiana home. Anytime I see the horizon, whether in the city or out in the pine woods of home, I tend to think, "this is it." To anyone standing at any spot, "this" is entirely "it." 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Monday, January 19, 2009

Elmore James

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Everybody's Got to Move Somewhere

Wednesday is my quitting day. With unemployment numbers rising, I'm the idiot who up and quit his job. Moving to Arcoverde, Brazil with my girl friend (she's Brazilian). If I find work teaching, then we'll enjoy an extended stay. If not, we'll come back to the states after a few months and start over here. For the past three years I've done hardly anything but follow the 9-5 routine, save a little money here and there, get fat and spin my wheels. In my free time I've pursued creative endeavors, but most of my time has gone to "the man" and since I have the opportunity to do so, I'm going to turn on, tune in, and drop out. Well, at least drop out.  I'm taking my savings and buying a little free time. I guess you could say I've given myself a grant. 

Some out there may be interested in hearing about a gringo's adventures in Brazil. Hence, this blog. This is the second big move in my life. I was born and raised in rural Louisiana, went to a nearby university, earned a degree in English, then flew to the Boston area where I've resided the past three years. Everyone in my immediate family lives on the same road, and it's been that way for generations. I feel very rooted to my home and the place I come from, but I carry it with me rather than allow it to hold me. My brother, a pilot, was in Boston the other day. I visited him at his hotel despite almost an hour of navigating the T in icy weather because I knew it was probably the only time two of my family would meet in a place like Boston. He asked me if I would ever come back home, build or buy a house, settle down. I have no idea. 

When I am not documenting Arcoverde adventures, I'll probably recount Boston and Louisiana tales to indulge my homesickness. 

The title of this post, "Everybody's got to move somewhere" is from the Bob Dylan song "Mississippi," from Love and Theft and also on the latest in the Bootlegs Series. Sheryl Crow covered it and didn't screw it up too badly.