July 9th. July 9th. My first sip of caffeine in over two weeks. Hopefully the white matter in my brain that had been converted to grey matter got a chance to go back to being white matter again. I can see my open window from where I’m sitting. The comfortable bed. The weather outside is finally nice, finally kind of like summer. Does France not have summer? It’s July and there hasn’t been one sunny day since I’ve been here. Clouds and rain and humidity. And raw milk. Yesterday I had unpasteurized milk and afterward felt like Paul Bunyan. I thought we didn’t sell it in the States but turns out we do it’s just hard to find and I’m sure expensive as hell. Here you can get a liter of organic, grass fed, unpasteurized milk — in other words milk in its most simple form exactly as you’re supposed to drink it — for a euro. Why is the US so messed up? Of course, it’s micro filtered. You know the filters you use for backpacking? They use something like that to filter the milk so it doesn’t have a bunch of bacteria in it. But it’s not pasteurized. Continue reading Drinking Raw Milk in Le Mans
My head feels frazzled from not sleeping enough. Two nights in a row now I’ve woken up early and haven’t been able to get back to sleep. I don’t know why. Once again I was going to leave today, but I don’t want to leave too soon and ruin what was almost ripe. There are still a few more things I need to do. I need to finish packing. I need to put my wetsuit in the car. I need to pack up my foam roller and my computer and the books I’m bringing. And then there’s the book that needs to go back to Bainbridge. There are the books from the Seattle library that need to be taken back, one of which is Circe, which I’ve almost finished.
If I do leave today my destination is Saint Helens, Oregon. Then tomorrow Burns. Then the next day Nevada. Then the next day Bishop.
I’m not allowed to eat today till 12pm.
I wish there was something right now that could rip from this reverie. Ah, it’s called caffeine. But caffeine rips you from the world of reverie and plunges you into the world of anxiety. It’s not fun to be anxious. Your mind works overtime. You worry about things that don’t need worrying about. If you don’t have problems you create problems. Caffeine is something I’ve used for so long to stave off the boredom, but there’s a better way, to look the boredom in the face.
My succulent was the first plant I got and the last remaining plant on the boat. Maybe I should bring it with me, to Mexico? Wouldn’t he be happy there? First I had him then I had a philodendron and a peace lily and a calathea plant. I’ve given all of them away, some in worse shape than others. The peace lily now blesses Barry’s house. The philodendron is in the custody of my mother. My sister has the calathea.
Get dressed, load up the dry bag with the computer and foam roller and charger and other trinkets. Load up the blue bag, the one that was moldy yesterday, with clothes. Make sure you have your passport. Disconnect the shore power and store the cord somewhere it won’t get wet. Take La Mala out of the surf bag and put the fish into it. Take out the trash. Then finally get in the car and head south. Or stop by Erica’s house first. Or got your parents’ house to get that fleece.
It’s clear and cold outside. Sometimes you’ve waited long enough and just need to take action. But if you waited just a little bit longer….
Maybe. But it’s also possible to wait too long.
Not even 9am and I’ve put a General in. Really seizing the day. My knee feels significantly worse but that’s due to self massage. I’ve been massaging the shit out of it. The stiffness worries me, though. It’s still quite stiff and it’s been over two weeks since the injury. God, I want an MRI. How can I get them to give me an MRI. Maybe today I leave for Mexico?
The power did not go off on the boat last night. The heater stayed on. I slept well. Yesterday was sunny in Seattle and today promises more of the same. In fact, it’s only supposed to rain two days in the next week or so. So not a terrible time to hang around a little longer. Wait to see if the MRI referral gets approved. Check SHAK every 15 minutes. Revel in the glory of its meteoric rise. Feel the heater buzzing at my feet. Hang out with friends. Walk to Whole Foods. Read good books. Watch my succulent become increasingly healthy. Watch my green queen become increasingly not.
Yesterday I went to Fremont for dinner, aka PCC, aka I bought a bunch of goodies and then went to Ophelia’s bookshop with the idea that I wasn’t leaving there without buying a book. I bought three: Emotional Alchemy, by Tara Bennett-Goleman, Manuscript Found in Accra, by Paulo Coelho, and The Greatest Treasure-Hunting Stories Ever Told, edited by Charles Elliott with contributions from such heavy hitters as Edgar Allen Poe and Jules Verne. I did not deliberate long when buying these books. The whole escapade took about 10 minutes. The bookstore was packed, which I was happy to see. People do not read enough.
After Ophelia’s I walked over to the new SBP in Fremont, which was an experience both amazing and traumatic. Traumatic because it pained me to see such beautiful blocs, such a beautiful climbing facility — the lobby glowing in the night winter air — and not be able to climb. Amazing because the gym looks amazing, and because I climbed up a set of stairs on the outside and just stood there, looking in like a boy looking at a Christmas tree display in a department store, watching two crushers climb in the corner. One of them flashed an orange. One of them flashed a pink. “Enough, Mark,” I said. “Enough.”
I’ve been sleeping well ever since I gave up caffeine. I’ve been feeling more creative. It is important to let your mind rest if you want to be creative. There is nothing more creative than an idle mind. I don’t mean idle in the sense that it’s not working. Our minds are always working. I mean idle in the sense that you’ve given it some time to just wander. Sometimes my mind is my greatest enemy, but ultimately it’s my dearest friend.
Giving up caffeine was hard. The first day was fine because I was coming down off a wicked yerba mate high, my neurons still sizzling far into the afternoon. But the next day I woke up with a headache, irritable. It felt good to be irritable and not be ashamed of it. I felt more like myself than I had in a long time. My mind becomes more my enemy when I abuse by doing things like drinking too much caffeine. With caffeine when I get irritable I have a tendency to discount my irritable feelings because I think they’re coming from the caffeine. But with no substances governing my brain I know that the irritability is real and needs to be respected. It’s easier to respect and honor your shadow when you know it hasn’t been provoked by a substance. Much of my twenties and thirties have had me ashamed of my shadow, constantly trying to suppress it or sweep it under the rug. Anytime I felt jealous or angry or insecure I told myself these feelings were unacceptable. When you read lots of books on Buddhism and Zen and Taoism you start following an unachievable ideal. Would the Buddha be jealous? Of course not. The Buddha sat by a river for 16 hours a day watching the ripples and eating rice. Would a Zen master be perturbed by someone calling her a name? Of course not. She would only smile. But I am not a Zen master, or even remotely enlightened. I experience all of these feelings, and sometimes to a deafening, heart-wrenching degree. And to want to rip them out of myself, to want to excise them, to want to slice them out of my brain like a surgeon might do with a scalpel — that’s not healthy.
SHAK seems to be finding some support at the 112 mark.
My boat is littered with books but because space is a premium they don’t last long. Most of them come, stay for awhile, and then get shuffled off to one of the little lending libraries so common on the Seattle streets. Some of them have stayed — I’ll never give them away, titles like Book 5 of My Struggle and The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli. The bouldering guidebooks will also stay. Bouldering guidebooks are something I’m happy to accumulate. Even if I’ve never bouldered in Tennessee or have any intention of going there soon I wouldn’t think it a terrible idea to buy a guidebook for that region. You buy a guidebook and next thing you know you’re planning a trip there. Motivation doesn’t breed action, but the other way around.
I washed my hair with distilled white vinegar last night.
It’s time to get off the boat now. It’s time to do a long walk and see how my knee holds up. And by “long walk” I of course mean walk to my car and drive to Whole Foods. Because I like to be amongst the things, the commerce! I like to be amongst the bars…