Travelog Part 1 – the journey begins

[Portland, OR —a dream the night before we left. I am in middle eastern country, Iran I decide. I am staying with a family, and it is dinnertime. I am nervous about not knowing the customs, and offending someone. The entire dream is imbued with a sense of anticipation. Suddenly, I am in a shop and there are two large framed objects in the center of the shop. The shopkeeper tells me I should look at them, but when I move them to see what it is, one falls over. At first I think it’s alright, but when I lift it back upright, I see that it is a mirror, and it is broken. I apologize to the shopkeeper, and he tells me not to worry, it is his fault for leaving them in the middle of the room. He has a scowl on his face, but I don’t know how to read it. Is he pissed at me, or is he just angry because of lost merchandise?

Shortly after this there is a loud rumbling sound. We run outside, and I am aware that a war is going on. Suddenly a plane comes out of the sky, and crashes in flames before us. EOD

Somehow, I think this dream has something to do with the impending vacation, so I include it here.

A found poem on the signs in Union Station:

arrivals departures
from the trains to the trains
to the trains waiting
room parcels news
cigars exit to street

okay, maybe it was an acid flashback, but it seemed like something at the time. —duane]

Sometimes the train rocks so violently that it seems likely it will jump the tracks. When it happens at night it wakes all but the heaviest sleepers. The tracks are rugged from Portland through the Rockies across Montana and North Dakota and up until Minneapolis-St Paul. Then it’s smooth as the tracks follow the Mississippi and on through Wisconsin all the way to Chicago. After Chicago the track worsens and is rougher than ever before. The train jumps and rolls, clanks and clatters its way through nothernmost Indiana and Ohio, through the narrowest bit of Pennsylvania and all the way to Rochester. It never seems to ride easy for very long. We left the train at Rochester so we don’t know about the ride from that point onward. On our return trip a couple of girls were in the front of our coach kept gasping as the train lurched and jerked. The train attendant allayed their fears. It was only after we got home that we found out there had been a train derailment along the Columbia near Carson and Wind River earlier this month. Perhaps the girls had been paying more attention to the news during the last few weeks that we had done. We are glad we didn’t know about it.

[Spokane, WA — We arrived in Spokane in the middle of the night. This is where the Portland leg and the Seattle leg of the Empire Builder are joined, so there is about a two hour wait. While sleeping I had a second trip-related dream:

I am on the train and it comes to the end of a track, going off of the rail and into a shopping mall. There is no fear associated with this. I get off of the train and am in Spokane. I have just moved here. As I am walking to my new apartment, I am confronted by four young men. One pulls a knife, and I realize that they are neo-nazis. I can tell that they are bluffing, so I walk away. They don’t follow. When I get to my apartment, my roommate is there. I have never met him before. The roommate, who is gay, is with a friend, and they want to go to an art studio they have something to do with. I wonder if he is an artist. They ask if I would like to go along. I say okay, but when we get outside, there is a parade going on. Some kind of childrens’ parade, but it is huge, and there is no way to get where we want to go without walking miles out of our way. Somehow we end up at the art studio, which is more like a gallery. This dream is very colorful. —Duane ]

An elderly couple sat across the aisle from us. They were heading to Fargo, ND and were from Astoria, OR. They really liked to travel by train the man confided. He talked about how his family meets up in Arizona every year. He had a tendency to repeat himself and to forget some of what I told him and would repeat questions I had already answered. He was a sweet old guy and was clearly having a good time. We hit Fargo around 4 am or later and I was fast asleep when they left the train.

It was late March and there was still snow on the ground in the western part of Montana. We went through Whitefish in the morning and a group of Junior High kids entrained. They were with us for a long way. Too long. They were very noisy and seemed to spill out everywhere, taking all the chairs in the lounge and all the tables in the lower lounge. It was a relief when they left the train.

Our eyes were mostly glued to the scene passing by our windows and somewhere in the mountains after Whitefish, out in a field in the snow we saw a man and a dog. The man was dancing and the dog was jumping. The man was lifting his legs up high in an exaggerated dance. It caught us so by surprise and we laughed. A number of people in our car saw him and laughed. Then I heard a woman up ahead say, “That’s my son. He told me to look for him. That’s his place. He says that he dances for the trains if he is out in the field when one goes by.” There is something about this that has captured my heart. His dance was pure joy and pure joy to watch. This man was dancing for his mother that morning, but most of the time he is dancing for strangers and his only reward is what he imagines. He cannot even know if people see him out there. At that distance he and the dog were just black figures against the white snow.

Also with us from somewhere in Washington until Minneapolis was a group of Missionaries-in-training led by a self-important fellow. In the evening (our second evening, their first & only), he gathered the eager group around him and explained that since they did not have the orientation that the groups normally get, he would be willing to provide this to them in the morning. The orientation would involve an overview of the Bible and he would conduct it in the train car. I did not think I was too loud when I said that I really did not want to be subjected to it. However, I was loud enough, according to Duane, that I apparantly gave courage to a woman a couple of rows up who loudly complained, “What about the rest of us? What if we don’t want to hear it?” The leader claimed that they would be very quiet. I don’t know what transpired, as we went for breakfast very early and sat in the lounge car afterward.

Superfatherman Mafiososon Holydiscoghostman

I have the trinity on my computer in my office watching over me. I have superman, mafioso-man, and disco-man. But they really the big cheese, the FATHER, the SON, and the HOLEE GHOST. You see them, you’d know. Right away you’d know that’s who they are, exactly who they are. Superman lost his arm at the elbow, but that’s just show. Makes you realize how he suffer for his creation. You say superman no FATHER. I say, bullshit! Everyone say FATHER make man in his image. So I say, that make him uberman right, uberman/superman, whatever. Now you have some trouble with a mafioso type strongman, tough guy, but hey, you know where the pope live?—Italy. See. And who stronger than the SON? Ain’t no one! And the HOLY GHOST, who going to argue with disco-man, fist up in black panther salute, dancing circles around the sun, the SON, the SUPER FATHER MAN. The HOLY GHOST in the wind man, he in the wind.

what would we discard?

Here we are in this disintegrating world. Something vital has gone from the center. Already the world is not viable. Soon it will vanish. Can we re manifest the world, or a different one? What would we make, if we could make it over? Would we take care of the sick, of the dying, of the insane? Would we leave our desire for things in the last world, let desire be atomized? Would compassion be our center force and greed the great evil?

Let us design a new world. Let us place and keep compassion in the center, let us regard the benefit of society as our highest aim. Let us build our institutions as if people mattered more than money.

Come dream this dream and tell me what the world would look like and what our societal institutions would look like, what we would keep, what we would discard.

crossing borders

What border, what contrivance of culture is it that prevents us from standing in the middle of the street, all of us, and saying stop? Stop! We have to change this world. If we don’t change this world, there will be no world. And if we don’t believe that, can’t we see what is happening to the people of the world? Can’t we see that it is wrong that we sit behing our tables in restaurants and homes and eat all the cheap food raised by people dying in the rows from the slavery we impose? Can’t we see how we take the food from them and their children lift their too large hands to a too large face to shoo away a fly from the corners of their eyes, protuberant orbs in faces that hover over distended bellies? And their mothers and fathers dying of AIDS and them dying of AIDS and we can’t allow them to buy the drugs, or we can’t give them the drugs that will ease them or save them. And the School of the Americas graduates that have killed and raped in Central America and Columbia in the name of democracy and, oh yes, let us not forget Henry Kissinger who told the Argentinian death machine, “we want you to succeed.” Have I crossed any borders yet?

email to africa

(I wrote this to a friend who is with the Peace Corps in Africa and decided to post it to the blog.)

A fellow guerilla poet has gone to Palestine to be a human shield, to witness the situation there. Imagine, we need witnesses in Miami. Have you heard about the police riot? FTAA meetings in Miami, 6,000 police. The beatings and arrests and intimidation, and denial of first amendment rights has gone on for days. I think it will backfire, but right now the mainstream media is absolutely still. Not a word. In Florida the news media are expressing gratitude to the police for controlling the demonstrators. But these are peaceful demonstrators. What’s to control? They were smart, the demonstrators, they went around to downtown businesses the week before and talked to the owners and told them what they were there for and what they were going to do and asked them to stay open. Many of them did. They appreciated the fact that the activists informed them of their intentions. These people could be activists allies. They have a glimmer of what was really going on.

The New York Times reports that the FBI has a report which says that demonstrators take photos of the police to intimidate them. Imagine that. They must be terrified all those cameras shooting at them.

history is fluid

Been doing research, delving into the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance period. Here are some interesting tidbits that have debunked some assumptions I held about life in those times. Only about 10% of European women apparantly died in childbirth. The median age at which people married for the first time was not in the teens, but most commonly in their 20s. I am suspecting that a great many of our assumptions about the 17th century and prior centuries, are fictions developed in the 18th and 19th centuries, most particularly the 19th. With the abrupt shift from rural to urban, from agricultural to industrial economy, and the religioius paradigm moving from deist toward scientific, academics, historians, economists, and the industrialists who influenced all the others were deeply vested in writing recent history in terms that tended to cast the social conventions and life experience of those previous centuries in a negative light and by contrast to make the new wonderful industrial age seem to be a step forward in a continuum of progress.

The idea that a large number of women died giving birth may have been promoted by the relatively new profession of medical doctors. An attempt to draw women away from the practice of being attended by midwifes and toward reliance on doctors certainly would have been enhanced by the belief that birthing was a kind of medical emergency rather than a natural event with some inherent risk. It would be interesting to find out if mortality among birthing women increased during the 19th century when women of all economic classes were increasingly relying on the medical profession.

History is fluid.

by pattyjo