me in the piazza

I'm a writer, publishing both as SJ Rozan and, with Carlos Dews, as Sam Cabot. (I'm Sam, he's Cabot.) Here you can find links to my almost-daily blog posts, including the Saturday haiku I've been doing for years. BUT the blog itself has moved to my website. If you go on over there you can subscribe and you'll never miss a post. (Miss a post! A scary thought!) Also, I'll be teaching a writing workshop in Italy this summer -- come join us!
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Going to Mongolia

On Friday. For real. This is a trip I've wanted to do for years.

(Using a heavily environmentally-focused outfitter, bought carbon offsets for the plane rides, taking metal bottles and water purifying tablets so we don't have to buy bottled water, etc. In line with my screw-Big-Oil policy. We'll see how far I can take this in a country still struggling to pull itself into the 20th century, while the rest of us are hoping we make it in one piece out of the 21st.)

Everything's done -- passport's up-to-date, catsitters are coming to stay, back-up catsitters are in readiness, have rainjacket and socks, camera and notebooks. Going with people I know (we all met each other on the Silk Road trip two years ago) and know I enjoy.

My problem right now is the problem I always have right before a big trip: I'm at the stage where I DON'T WANT TO GO. Any of you have this problem? As a big trip becomes real, the enormity of stepping out of my life into who-knows-what, and the absurdity of it, suddenly overwhelm. Especially a trip like this, which will be long (3 1/3 weeks) and physically difficult. Rain, mud, or else blowing desert sands, sleeping in gers (same as yurts), hiking, driving for hours in Jeeps over unpaved roads, boiled mutton twice a day, yak milk in the tea. Whose idea was this? Who needs it? Too much money and time, neither of which I have, too difficult and unpredictable, strange language, strange customs, I won't know what to do -- the list goes on and on.

It always happens. In fact, one of my first entries on this blog was on the same subject, on my way to Japan. There's always a reason: that trip, I didn't know my traveling companion; this trip, it's too long and hard, and I had an awkward misunderstanding with the folks who run the guesthouse in Seoul we're starting from, so I don't want to see them face-to-face because I know they're as embarrassed as I am...

But it's never about any of that, really. I get a low-grade version of the same thing whenever I go to a three-day conference, for Pete's sake. It's about stepping out of your life. It's about leaving something that you know intimately and that works, even minimally, for something totally unfamiliar.

Which is, of course, the point. But still.

In 1935, Peter Fleming, an English writer, went to Xinjiang -- part of my Silk Road trip, too. Just before he left, he said:

"He who starts on a ride of two or three thousand miles may experience, at the moment of departure, a variety of emotions. He may feel excited, sentimental, anxious, carefree, heroic, roistering, picaresque, introspective, or practically anything else; but above all he must and will feel a fool."

Don't I just.

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