This is an email I sent out on November 14, 2010. I apologize for not updating this website sooner – it’s been pretty rough these last months.
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I have some news… can’t say it’s bad news, really, but it doesn’t feel quite like good news either. Let’s call it “conflicted.”
I am going home to Madison, Wisconsin.
It was finally quiet. No nurses, no traffic noise from outside, no distractions.
Loneliness was there, a misty specter that filled the room and seemed to push away the medicated haze. It was terrifyingly obvious how self-sufficient I had to be. Aloneness quivered with crisis, discordant. Tears weren’t far away.
I turned my head on the hospital pillow, blearily. Self-pity curled down the corners of my mouth. My eyes throbbed. I directed my gaze upwards to the IV bag slowly dripping saline fluids into my veins. The blood hadn’t come yet; this was just to fill my vascular system with something, anything, to keep my blood pressure up. The doctors couldn’t get their hands on what I needed, and though my friends and contacts were out there, searching for my blood, right now it was up to me and me alone.
Taking a few deep breaths, I prepared the image I would begin my self-guided meditation with: the stark white of my bones before a black field. The disembodied trio of my hip bone, other hip bone, and sternum – the blood-making bones in ultra-real purity.
I closed my eyes…. (more…)
The technical terms that were used were “comminuted sub-trochanteric femur fracture,” meaning that the thigh bone had shattered into a bunch of different pieces just below the ball joint of the hip. It wasn’t your average geriatric fracture, where the ball of the femur snaps off from osteoporosis. This was the thickest part of the femur, crushed into several disorganized pieces. I had really fallen hard.
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I lay on the hard stone, breathless. My mind was shocked with the worst pain I’ve ever felt. For the first moments, all I could do was grimace in agony, unable to even see for the blinding white pain.
Downtown Tunis, Tunisia.
A little cafe on Avenue Habib Bourguiba. The waiter offers me a “personal discount” on my coffee because of something I’ve come to describe as “the bike effect”: my rig looks bad ass resting next to my table, and here the travel-worn, custom-grub adventure bike is out-of-place enough to mark me as an adventurer, a traveler, not just another tourist who comes on the ferry from France for an afternoon-in-the-medina to say “I visited Tunisia!” It’s not just literally that a bike is “open to the world” – it opens the very soul of the rider, and affects the first impressions of others in a mysterious but undeniable way.
I’m not a terrorist, and I’ve never spoken with one, so I can’t really say what they’re really thinking. But it seems to me that the whole point of terrorism is to Spread Fear. (more…)
الجزائر, al-Jazā’ir, week four
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الجزائر, al-Jazā’ir, week three