On recording notes in your phone, while traveling, as if they’re profound insights

#TBT to Amsterdam a few months ago. I had (then) recently* read some Andre Aciman and Mary Oliver and other writers who compose with poetic serenity amidst despairing, awe-inspired musings. This gave my walking an air of philosophical significance. I felt a beautiful weight and, of course, the unbearable lightness of being**. At the peak of profundity, I felt compelled to take notes in my phone. Or rather, in the absence of any real profundity, I manufactured some by writing about life in a certain way instead of just being present with it. Mere being is exactly that: not enough. And so it goes that I whip out my black mirror*** and pretend I’ve got some real cool shit to say.**** Shit like:

  • I’m blessedly ignorant of how to function in society and blessedly aware of how society functions.
  • The privilege of having options creates grotesque greediness.
  • I think I like European cities because churches tend to be the tallest buildings, and buildings are monuments to a culture’s priorities and values.
  • Pictures do Amsterdam no justice. But when was justice the domain of photography?
  • I wander around things, exploring their edges, observing from a distance, rarely entering, penetrating, being in. I stand outside, wondering what’s it’s like in there, not really even knowing what it’s like over here. Except I know too well what things are like, rarely what they are. Is it possible for them to be anything? Such questions protect me here on the boundaries, I tell myself. They guard me from knowing the unknown, searching elsewhere and believing I’m discovering something. In fact I’m farther from myself than when I started. I am taunted by own reality, the possibilities of my becoming. I am mostly who I’ve always been, a lost child, a never, never land.
  • Are dreams residue of past lives?
  • [on the red light district] Smoothie and sandwich shops, not to mention the Old Church, are delightful occupants of the same area as sex shops where you can top off your green goddess health beverage with a “live fucking show.” At least they’re real about life’s wonderful combinations.

Actually, as you may have read already in the footnotes below, I’m into these notes. Kudos to the Lou who cared enough to record them. And kudos to this Lou for caring enough to revisit and reframe them. As for the Lou who might read this in the future, is this it? (see **)


*I have no idea how to write this in the appropriate tense. This feels like it’s close to the Spanish subjunctive, but that’s only because I don’t know how that tense actually functions, so their proximity is a function of my complete ignorance.

**Unbearable because presumably asking something like “this is it?” of life leaves you feeling empty and woeful and now that you think about it really resentful and, in fact, straight-up angry. Like…this is it, bitch?

***I finally started watching the show. What…how did I keep missing this train? Brilliant…

****It should be noted that I was not high in Amsterdam. There’s enough of it in the air, I imagine, to inspire a contact high, which I’ll use as an excuse for these meandering thoughts. Although in truth, I’m kind of a fan of some of these ideas, so I’m just hedging my confidence with your unfair judgment. (Your, let’s remember, always means my.)

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