Friday, April 11, 2008


i'm sitting all day so when i stop i want to stand and so i stand when i stop and when i stop i have to write because if i don't write i could forget and to forget anything about one's life is inexcusable so start your journal today - i mean right now

the questions, the questions

where are you? are you still going?

jiminy crickets yes i’m still going because i will always be going until i die and i have just recently decided i no longer believe in death (what a spectacular decision) which means an alwaysness of going so the answer, in so many words, is yes, and, if you must know, where i am is here just as you are there and here’s there’s everywhere’s and nowhere’s and my here is baku, azerbaijan where i am being strangled with the red tape of bureaucracy and i watch a couple on a park bench fight and the man tries to give the woman a gift and she, with ferocious full-on pout, strikes it from his hand sending it flying and moments later (interestingly not immediately) he retrieves it and gives it to her again and she bats it away once more and i’m thinking buddy leave this girl but i don’t know what the guy may (or may not) have done to the girl so i’m no one to judge but the girl seems so mean to me and i wonder when it is that one learns to be mean and how we could rid the world of it and live in peace once and for all but i am also reminded of the day before i reached panama city when i stopped to take a picture and this little kid, god bless him, pushes his bike up to me and we chat for some moments and his family is there too and the kid has this sad bike and he is pushing his bike up to me and carrying his bike chain in his hand because it has snapped apart and god forgive me i could have fixed the chain, and i thought about doing it, but i needed to find somewhere to sleep and the sun was sinking and so i didn’t fix his chain and i cycled off and tried to console myself by rationalizing my actions thusly: that his family was there with a van and so he could just put the bike in the van and all would be well and that the kid never actually asked me to fix the chain but such rationalizations still, post facto of course, left me reeling and hating and cursing myself and if i could do it all over i’d fix the golddern chain but i can’t do it all over (how i wish i could...not just this but everything) so all i can do now is repent and so really i’m no better than this woman who is scowlingly swiping away her presents and i’m no better than anyone and we all sin but i shan’t use this as a further rationalization to justify any of my unjustifiable actions and i pine for the day when i can learn the art of forgetting and rid myself of the haunt but i will never forget anything and so the vex, my eternal yoke

and it's not only the chain because there was a cup too and here's the story of the cup and i was drinking tea with these very kind men and they were all smoking and i was coughing and they had so many questions (and me with no answers) but the bulwark of the language barrier allowed none of them to be asked and that's how it goes and so i just sat there sipping the tea and then this man gets up and he goes into a nearby shop and comes out with the saddest insulated red mug you could ever imagine and he walks right up to me and gives it to me and i have no use for it and don't want it at all because it's just another thing and i hate all these things because life becomes full of things we just constantly go out and buy things and the only things i ever want to buy are items of food because this is the only thing i need because with duct tape and some needle and thread you can repair any thing you already have so you don't need more of them and so i just don't like things and curse each and every thing i have and have recently really begun contemplating just getting rid of all these disgusting things i have and just leaving it all behind and going and feeling that freedom of disengagement from things but i don't yet have the nerve so he comes right up to me with that red cup and hands it to me and as i just explained i don't want it and initially i try to kindly refuse it but then i realize, and i say to myself, hirsch, it's not about whether you (i.e. i) want or need this cup it's about the fact that this man wants to give it to you, it's something he wants to do and so just take the thing because by doing so you will make him happy and that is what it's all about and so i took the cup and lashed it down with a bungee and he was so pleased and that man and that cup taught me something and i cycled off - but the story of the cup continues - because i cycled off and the fact that i didn't need or want this cup had not changed and a couple of clicks down the road i saw this sad little school boy standing on the side of the road perhaps waiting for a bus or perhaps meditating and i pulled over and kicked my kickstand and unlashed the cup being careful with the bungee because a man in norway told me more people go blind from getting whap-bap-schlapped in the eye with the end of a bungee than for any other reason and i walked up to that little boy hoping he was just waiting on a bus and not meditating because if he were meditating he might have been on the brink of samadhi and were i to interrupt that there would be no forgiveness for me (which there might not be any forgiveness for me anyway) and i held out that cup and as soon as i did and he realized what was happening and he saw how shiny and how round and how red that cup was and how that that cup was no longer mine but was now his well that sad little boy was happy and he smiled and he looked around a bit nervously (i, for some reason, make people nervous which is another (of many) contributing factor of my need to be alone) and i smiled and for some reason sort of bowed (because i think he had reached the level of samadhi) and then i cycled away and then, post facto of course, i realized what i had done was "bad" or at least misrepresented because that kid doesn't fully understand (as you do) the source of that cup, he doesn't understand that i did not give him that cup out of the goodness of my heart but out of my non-need for it and how really i was doing myself a favor rather than doing one for him and so i began to feel awful about the cup because even though it made a sad boy happy the source of that happiness was not purely driven

and so it’s all happening because everything is always happening all the time and something is always happening somewhere and the world is indeed a place where things happen and i watch them as the world watches me and you’ll never know what it’s like to physically stop the rotation of the earth with your presence in a small village but i do it every day and it makes me sick and how can i respond to every whistle and every waving hand and so i don’t and hate myself for it though i do respond to most but not all and in my black and white world this classifies me as a failure and how i pine for those days when i didn’t fail and got “a”’s and complacentized myself with such letters letting them override my unimpeachable consciousness of the reality i was denying

i fear i have lost the ability to both laugh and to cry and it's only the latter than truly concerns me

and the machine guns and military fatigues that found me in an abandoned tea warehouse in turkey while my cumin soup was just cool enough to eat and hold yer fire boys and in the end they gave me some roasted chickpeas and what could go better with cumin soup than that (the soup also contained onions and carrots and buckwheat)

god there’s so much to write and i have been writing so much (some of it true; none of it complete) and i have the nausea that comes from the tidal-waving of oneself with too many ideas and i find my hand jittery as it lifts the tea to my mouth because i think – can i ever get it all done? can anything ever be done?

am i done? never.

pen and paper or computer or whatever there is so much happening that must be recorded not for the sake of posterity but rather for the sake of nothing or perhaps for the sake of pete

one day when cycling in azerbaijan i started saying words like "ghosts" and "fists" and "bursts" and i would ask you to say these words and listen to the sounds we make to complete them and how it's like "sstss" and i started thinking of all the words that ended like this and i started just saying "sstss, sstss, sstss" over and over again and i just kept doing this and if i were still able to laugh i would have but i just kept doing it and doing it and then i thought i had a flat tire but didn't

i do not eat breakfast, the most useless of meals, because how on earth does one “work up an appetite” by sleeping and so i cycle for about two hours before eating because it is then that i am hungry and it is only when one is hungry that one should eat rather than out of boredom or because it is a certain hour of the day or because something “tastes so good” and when i took the sat and the act and all these tests i did so horribly on (horribly being defined as less than perfect) they always recommended “eat a good breakfast” and i always did because at this time in my life i did not think and i miss those unthinking days but do not care to re-live them and so i ate raisin bran and toast and swallowed some orange juice saying, ok, i am doing what i have been told to do and that is how one should do things just like i darkened the circles completely and used only no.2 lead and never opened the test booklet until told to do so and it was actions like these and the blindness with which i followed rules that allowed me to self-define myself as a “good” person and what a fool i was, what a fool i was, such that when i think about such foolishness it makes that hand bringing the tea to my lips that much more jittery and then i wonder whether those jitters are just results of regrets (of which i have none)

or whether it’s parkinson’s because if there’s one thing i don’t want to die of it’s parkinson’s and i already know i have cancer (we all do, it’s just a matter of where and how fast it’s devouring us) which will eat me from the inside out but i don’t want parkinson’s god spare me of that and i think of that now because

in georgia late in the day it was gray and there’s a man with hay and i say hey can i sleep in your barn and he says there is no bed and i say that’s the way i like it and he can’t believe it but says i can and i thank him and he gives me apples and his wife appears and i get out a picture of my family and he looks at it and gently hands it to his wife who takes it in her hand and i saw the shaking – god the shaking - and tasted acid in my throat and wondered if she had parkinson's and prayed she didn’t (and also ashamedly and selfishly prayed that i too didn’t have it) and she handed the picture to her other hand and the other hand being more steady let me know that maybe only one side of her had it - or - that none of her had it but she was just initially nervous at seeing me - or - that my prayer had been answered, and she smiled and god how my heart beat for this woman whom i can still see right now and how i hope she doesn’t have it, i really do because she insisted on sweeping out a little corner for me to sleep in and this broke my heart and i tried to (good-humoredly) steal the broom from her but she wouldn’t have it and there i slept and the apples and the next morning i said goodbye to the man but didn’t see her and that made me hope she didn’t have it all the more and i hope i don’t have it and i also hope you don’t though i might and you might too and right now i hold out my hand and see that it is steady and so i breathe a sigh of relief

this is georgia and the man has his sticks and the woman sells her onions and the tree reaches for the sky and i watch (and jot notes about) it all

and so then i think, how can a kind and loving “god” allow parkinson’s, cancer, and senseless wars and then i am told we will never understand god’s “will” or “plan” but that we must trust in it and this makes no sense to me, no sense at all, and i think of this scenario followed by interpretations and i will try to keep this simple:

scenario: aunt penelope is in the hospital. she is very old. she is very sick. her family prays to god that she will be healed. she dies.

interpretation 1: it was “god’s will” for aunt penelope to die and so therefore she died and it’s ok because it was "god’s will"

interpretation 2: the prayers were simply echoes of nothingness and god’s will will always be done and prayer is useless

interpretation 3: there is no god. she was old. she was sick. she died.

reaction to interpreation 1: it just seems like back-rationalization to me. can we really just go around classifying everything as “ok” because it was “god’s will” when we asked "god" to do the exact opposite of what "god" ultimately did?

reaction to interpretation 2: if true, quite sad really, but how will we ever know? how will we ever know anything when it comes to "god" and maybe that's the answer right there

reaction to interpretation 3: then what’s the meaning of anything and why even wake up and get out of bed?

i got out of bed because i have a soul and it exists and there is a "god" and "god" exists and even if my prayers aren't heeded i'll still pray because even if "god" doesn't listen i listen and also i got out of bed because i was hungry and wanted bread and if you want anything you gotta do it yourself and i tried to joke with these guys and said - hey, give me five loaves and i'll feed five thousand, ha ha - and sort of nudged them in the ribs but then i realized how that story's not in the koran and sort of felt like a joker fool and so then i said - nevermind

but i think alzheimer’s might be worse than parkinson's and the thing is they say if you eat food cooked in aluminum pots you might get alzheimer’s and my old camping pots were aluminum or at least i think they were but maybe they weren’t and i hope they weren’t but actually i’m sure that they were and an old girlfriend gave those pots to me and surely she didn’t know, surely

and so all this writing takes me forever and when i go back to edit and polish (and ever so delicately further heroicize myself) if i find so much as one comma splice than i will re-read the entire document over again cursing myself but designating it as necessary because they say nothing is perfect and i must always make them wrong and just so you fully understand when i re-read this paragraph i will see the word “than” (46 words previous (and inclusive) to the “than” right before the left parenthesis immediately preceeding the numeral 46) and i will realize it should be "then” and so now i have to re-edit this entire document because of that one letter, that one little vowel, and now do you see how i work and how i torment myself with the very thing i enjoy most

nothing makes me laugh at myself more, but it’s a forced laughter because i can't laugh but this doesn't concern me as much as my inability to cry

actually, i have just decided i will not edit this. i am just going to finish it and post it and be done with it

if there’s nothing to worry about i will create something and i wish you all could know me because i’m not really like this i’m only like this in my head which is where i do most of my living (and the only place i can really write) because when it’s just you, i.e. me, and a road and languages that might as well be the rustling of leaves there is nowhere else to go but one’s head

it’s a lonely place to be and were lonely a sad word, which it is not, my life would be a sad one

people do not need other people it's just that most people want other people but the question is why

and so all these people, they’re telling me – hirsch, you take life too seriously man, relax a little bit, stop over-thinking it, sit back, allow things to happen, go with the flow buddy – but i just can’t see anything more necessary to take seriously than life and besides, if you go with the flow you just end up downstream with everyone else and i don’t want to be with everyone else i want to be alone and so regardless of its strength, i’ll fight the flux not just for the sake of being different or noteworthy or a “standout” but for the sake of myself to which no greater allegiance can ever be placed

and about death – my death, anyone’s or anything’s, even your death – they say i shouldn’t dwell on such a thing or have the anxiety or burden that i have about it but follow along for a moment if you will and pretend you have a job and it’s a tuesday and you’re sipping your tea at the office and you know for a fact you have the most important meeting of your life but the only things are that you don’t what the meeting is about and you don’t know exactly whom it’s with nor do you know when it is and now let’s designate this job as your life and that the meeting is your personal expiration and it’s about your eternity and that the unknown person whom it’s with is “god” and that the time is whenever it will be and just as that tuesday morning tea at the office would have cocoons hatching flutteringly in your stomach, following, your whole life must be that tuesday morning and the only hope one can see in this is that you get to sip tea which is something we all ought to do more of

do you see me? do you see my tea?

and i was with this married couple once and we were all sitting in uncomfortable chairs and i asked them what their thoughts were as to what happens to our souls (assuming existence of such “things”) after we die and both of them awkwardly looked at each other and then at me and finally the husband speaks up and says he never really thinks about things “like that” but then the wife pipes up and says she believes the soul never dies and lives forever but not in a place like heaven or hell but rather here on earth and how these souls are the explanations of many of the things that happen that we think we can’t explain and there the husband is dumbfounded and mouth agape and he says – honey, i never knew you felt like that – and i’m thinking how on earth can you be with someone much less marry her (i'll never understand marriage anyway) without knowing such a thing and what is it that inspires marriage and please don’t tell me it’s love or something unprovable like that and sometimes i really do think it’s things like mutual inclinations towards brands of toothpaste and a happenstance of i prefer the left side you prefer the right side of the bed that has people surrounding pre-specified fingers with “precious” metals and stones as “symbols” of “love” of which there may not even be such a thing and even if there isn’t don’t worry it will be available in pill form soon enough because, in the end, we’re all just skin sacks of controllable chemical reactions

don't let a word i say anger or upset you because the truth is i have no idea about anything - i'm just tossing out ideas to get them out of my head and just because i write something doesn't mean i believe it but rather it simply means that i thought about it because with all this time on my hands i think about everything and so sometimes when i say "i" or "me" i'm really just referring to some sort of main character which may (or may not) actually be me

all of this is a long winded way of saying that:

i am in the midst of writing my autobiography

it will start with the day of my birth which was 28 february 1999 (or 15 april 2001 or 7 december 2004 (i’m still deciding)) and will chronicle every moment until i die which will be never because i no longer subscribe to such a belief but i have made arrangements with my publisher and were my unbelief in death not to work out and i do somehow die then it will all be published, unedited, and i will be famous and dead and how nice it will be to be a “hit” and as my soul wanders it will wonder who will play me in the movie and if they will leave out that one, so gawdawfully and incredibly awkward, “scene” and how i hope that they do and besides without that little episode we can keep the film at pg-13 which will make it all the more marketable

and so, i have a daunting amount of work ahead of me and i have thought about finding a place to stop and park it for a while and i would first go to a store and buy a thousand tea bags and i would also get scores of pounds of dates and pretzels and then i would have all i needed and i would just stop and i would just type and type and type and complete something and i would sip my tea which would be my neutral taste and liquid medium and i would eat my dates which would be my sweet taste and chewy medium and i would eat my pretzels which would be my salty taste and crunchy medium and i would start and end my days with yoga and because i had my tea and dates and pretzels i would not have to leave my hovel and i would not have to deal with people and i would be able to focus without distraction and i would not talk to anyone and so i would lose my ability to talk because my vocal chords and larynx would become weak and that would mean three abilities i no longer have the first being to cry which alarms me the most and the second being to laugh but i never really liked to laugh anyhow and the third being to talk but the lack of this third ability would be a blessing because i wouldn't have to deal with people but the thing is i have lived with myself long enough to know that as soon as i stopped i would need to get going again and that as soon as i got going again i would be dreaming of stopping and so i never know what to do but seem to default towards movement because it's the only life i know and it's a life i love and so it's the life i live

and the current scene in the borderline family-friendly pg-13 theatrical realease finds me surrounded by cigarette smoke in the rain shelter of a bus stop with the caspian sea behind me and the wicked crazy madness of chaotic azerbaijani traffic in front and me with a hope in my heart that the little man at the chinese embassy verily will stamp the gold-blessed application and slap the chinese visa in my passport and that the “on thursday or in three weeks” boat to kazakhstan will indeed find me on it before my currently valid azerbaijani visa is no longer valid and this pivotal movie scene will also find me – the actor portraying me – with a smile on his face because he has finally let off all the happiness (an infinite supply) with the ambivalent sadness of his chirography

there's just too much to tell, but worry not comrades, it will all be told


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm thinking the role of Hirsh needs to be played by Christopher Walken or Gary Busey.

Great to hear the update. Don't worry, your not going to get alzheimer's from eating out of aluminum cookware. The natural abundance of Al in groudwater far outpaces the PBM that to you might get out of the cookware. Come on Rob you still are a chemist (if only a retired one).

Friday, April 11, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very Very lucid, hirsch.
It is so very true.
I don't undestand why people sometimes get agitated by your insight.
Enjoy your trip!
Greetings from Belgium

Friday, April 11, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why are you so anti-marriage? it's not so least at first. now my wife is wanting aquafresh and i'm a crest man so a divorce could be in the works....


Saturday, April 12, 2008  
Anonymous Rob Thomson said...

Dude. Inspirational writing and thinking and sharing.


--- ---
14degrees Off The Beaten Track - Around the world solo by recumbent bicycle and skateboard. 20,000km. 2 years. // URL: // email: // Raising awareness for Lowe Syndrome -

Saturday, April 12, 2008  
Anonymous Ted said...

Yet another great view into your world through words and pictures! What a tremendous adventure you're having! Thanks for sharing it with us. Keep on with your wonderful journey and keep on with the periodic glimpses into your world. Safe travels!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gald to get an update. Thanks for sharing! Cook

Saturday, April 19, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are sooo right about breakfast. And the Early Morning Food Nazis will never cease trying to get those of us who don't believe a Big Meal Is Mandatory from having Three eggs, pancakes,bacon,toast,hash browns,side of...well, you get the idea.

Ride on !

una Joe

Monday, April 21, 2008  
Blogger Dude Poole said...

I like the blog temporary neighbor. I guess there is nothing exciting to write about in Ohio :)

So if you are interested in some perspectives from Ohio while you are on the trail, my blog is Dude's Blog

Talk to you soon I am sure.

Friday, October 24, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HIrsch, I remember giving you details about Kazakhstan. Man you had it hard, I just read your blog for 4 or 5 hrs straight, what a reminder of my trip through the 'Stans'. I think we probably used the same road culverts.
Getting the China visa for us was a doddle in Baku, I guess we lucked out.
Have fun in India.

Andy Waddington

Thursday, August 13, 2009  
Blogger ajomon said...

Hey Hirsch......
People come on a tour,on holidays ,spend holidays so on....But you are .......Ohhhh really great work.. ofcourse to be appreciated....
You have not only paid a visit but have traveked through and known each country, each nation, each state,each villege and everythimg on it....Well fantastic
Thanks for copy of this for me....

Friday, August 28, 2009  
Blogger ssbb said...

I really want to read your adventures but the font- color- and bold makes it impossible.
Can you make it more visible, photos bigger please

Sunday, August 30, 2009  
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always, I appreciate your talk & presentation to the Memphis Hightailers. From my vantage point, what you make far exceeds the productions of the National Geographic. You are more of a superhero than any great athlete! Thanks for sharing your experiences. I try to live someday today in some small way in my environment locally.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010  
Blogger Andrew said...

Hey hIrSch! Met you at your MHBC talk this evening.

I am Andrew. I have a book for you. It is "The Way We Eat, Why Our Foos choices Matter" by Peter Singer.

I think you'd dig it. I can send it to Thailand so you won't have to carry it. Let me know. Andrew

Wednesday, January 06, 2010  

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