My Favorite Debt

I picked up a hitchhiker this morning and he identified me immediately: “You’re a Cedarville student, aren’t you?” Is it that obvious? Do I just radiate repressed fundamentalist vibes? But Samir assured me it was just a guess based on probabilities: C.S.U. students speed by, C.U. students pick him up. He’s living at Wilberforce but travels for undisclosed reasons (not a job, he says) to Xenia every day, a 4 mile commute that usually takes him an hour because he doesn’t have a car. “Neither do I, this is my brother’s.” We laughed. I mentioned my trip last summer; he mentioned his Chicago-to-L.A. trek in the ’70’s. Farthest N.W. he’d gotten was Eugene, which he described as an “enormous Yellow Springs,” which we both concluded was awesome. So I’ve now received some 40 rides as a hitcher, and given two in return. At this rate I might even pay off my student loans before repaying kindness owed, but at least this is a debt I don’t mind at all.

By the way, I stumbled across a book that echos some of what I discussed a month ago. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets “examines what randomness means in business and in life and why human beings are so prone to mistake dumb luck for consummate skill.” I haven’t read it yet, but sounds interesting since it’s one-half of the same coin I blogged about earlier.

Also re: old posts, a friend gave me a copy of Phillip Lopate’s excellent essay “Resistance to the Holocaust,” an American Jew’s incisive look at the machinery of memory built up around the Holocaust and the ways in which this atrocity is used & abused. Unfortunately, I could only find a very brief excerpt online, the rest of which you’ll have to find in Lopate’s book Portrait Of My Body (1997).

Books Read in 2008

I tried to read a book/week again, which seems very reasonable, but fell short once again. I’m about halfway through a dozen other books, which I’ll probably just finish & count for ’09. Under each category, they’re listed in the order I read them. Incidentally, the first book I read in 2008 was The Audacity of Hope by Mister Obama. (more…)

Part-Time Hitchhiking For Fun And Profit

I’m back in Columbus again after a weekend in Cleveland/Sandusky for Dan Gifford’s wedding. I hitched a bit both ways for a total of about 100 miles. The rest via rides with Katie, Kraig, and Brenton. I will do a trip report tomorrow since I’m too exhausted tonight. Here’s some Douglas Coupland (from Life After God) instead:

…I think the price we paid for our golden life was an inability to fully believe in love; instead we gained an irony that scorched everything it touched. And I wonder if this irony is the price we paid for the loss of God.
But then I must remind myself we are living creatures – we have religious impulses – we must – and yet into what cracks do these impulses flow in a world without religion? It is something I think about every day. Sometimes I think it is the only thing I should be thinking about.

Trampin’ tales

Hey friends, this is Kevin. I’m somehow in Chicago, having arrived last night. This has been one of the craziest weeks of my life. I will give a more detailed trip report later since I took pretty good notes (but failed on the photographic front).

I’ve revised the purpose & rules of this trip so many times, and am continuing to do so. I realized early on that it is impossible to mostly walk and sometimes hitch to Seattle… so I stuck with mostly hitching and sometimes walking, sticking to the country roads. I followed this plan from West Alexandria, OH (Tuesday) to Lebanon, IN (Saturday). It was a total of 112 miles, 41 of which I walked (13 on my best day). The rest was hitched on 8 different rides. 

Somewhere between Eagletown and Jolietville on Saturday, I decided that – for a lot of reasons – I should try interstate highway hitching and see if I could get to Chicago by Saturday night. In Lebanon, I spent 75-80 minutes on the on-ramp of I-65 N with a sign that said “CHICAGO (Elgin)” until a Mexican couple (with their baby) picked me up and took me straight into the city (152 miles). I walked a little more before getting 20 miles on the Chicago metro, and another 31 miles via Nate’s car before we arrived at his house in Elgin, IL. I am ridiculously happy to be here – though with 3 blisters, 2 terrible sunburns, windburn, swollen knees and aching shoulders I am in less than optimal physical condition.  I don’t know what my plans are now… but there’s a good chance I will stick to interstate hitching from now on. I think I made incredible progress getting to Lebanon, but it was absolutely brutal and still behind schedule if I were to keep that up to Seattle. I won’t explain all the rationale right now, but there are definite pros & cons to doing highway vs. backcountry hitching. It was an incredible week though, and I look forward to writing up some stories. Thanks for your prayers and the encouraging & funny (though occasionally weird) voicemails.