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September 30, 2004

Barcelona, Spain

Left Paris. Had a good time there, met some good people. I'm in Barcelona now, which is a VERY different place. Lots of people. Its much more raw feeling... a lot dirtier. The night life here is crazy. They start after midnight and go til morning... every night. Barcelona is a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live here. There are also many beautiful sights. I went to Parc Guel today. Its this strange park created by Gaudi with Dali-esque vision. It was very beautiful with a beautiful view of the city. I'm also seeing the Mediteranean for the first time.
I've been writing a lot in my journal. Maybe at some point I'll post some of the more interesting bits. Too tired right now. I'm going to need a rest day pretty soon. I've started to get a little sick I think and I lost my voice somehow. One of these days... I'll stop for a moment.

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September 27, 2004

Fontainbleau: Select Writings

I'm in Fontainbleau, where I've been since Friday. I will be heading back to Paris in a couple hours. Hopefully I'll see Le Louvre tomorrow, then fly to Barcelona on Wednesday. I've spent a good deal of time writing while here and transcribing what I'd written in my journal. I promised to post more so I'm going to post some select writings from my trip. None of these represent entire journal entries, just parts of them.

Click below to read on.

Dublin

...
[Down 8]
We stood out front, close, but not holding. Shoulder to shoulder. I was
drunk and wanted to hold her... to be held, but my heart did not feel
free. It wasn't mine to give yet. I tried, I tried not trying. My heart
bashed inside to no avail. Whatever chains held it were still too strong.
My shy, reserved nature could not be overtaken by fools love. It
couldn't get in. I didn't let it in. 4am came. The cab came. Dennis was
nowhere. The cabby asked me if it was for me and I said, no, lying. The
cabby went inside. Moments later I saw Dennis, stumbling down the side
walk, hugging Liz. I ran to them and told them the cab was there. We ran
to the hostel, collected our bages from hindind the hostel and went out
front. Liz and Dennis locked lips in unrestrained passion. Holding each
other closely, it was obvious nothing mattered by the devine touch. Maria
and I looked at each other, shrugged, hugged, and that was it.
...
I consoled myself that my rollercoaster of emotions was good and
necessary. It was like an etch a sketch that was left in the sun too long
with the same pattern. It would not be enough to give it a gentle shake,
it needed a good thrashing. As my emotions, image of self, image of world
are thrashed around violently, I am left with a clean slate, or will be.
Like the birth of a star or a nation, it is through turmoil and violence
that we are cleansed so we can really start over. The death of cnation
made me start tearing down walls. This is forcing the whole castle down
to the foundation. I'll rebuild. It won't happen quickly, it can't be
rushed. Block by block, painstakingly, each block on top of the other,
with no forethought as to what the abode will look like. It will be
beautiful. We are beautiful. I will be beautiful. Life is beautiful.

---------------------------
Amsterdam 9-16-04
...
"I never find myself trying harder than when I forget to check!"

Maybe I have to forget to check? How can I remember to forget? Maybe
there are things its important to forget.
Time to 'fade' away.


...
"What is the worst situation you've ever been in?" she asked me in her
Cornwall accent. I thought. I knew. "I don't know you well enough to
tell you," I told her. She persisted. I knew she had an answer as well,
so I decided to answer to get her to answer. "I'm sure mine is worse, "
she said. Given her age, I doubted it. "I got divorced," I lamented.
"How old were you?"
"See, " I said, "there are too many follow up questions. 28."
"This year!"
"So what's yours? Is it worse?"
"Its different." She seemed reluctant, like I had been.
"When I was younger...." she began. She turned away to wisper something
to Rose as she had been doing the entire night. Without looking back,
they both got up and walked away. I'd never know what happened to
Lauren. I never saw her again.
I sat back, closed my eyes and listened to the music, trying to
comprehend what had just happened.

---------------------
Brussels
...
Our Now is too short.
Most of the pressure I feel NOW is summarized in the question, "why am I
not THERE, NOW? Where is THERE? Its a career, diploma, settled down.
First of all, you are not able to get lost if you do not have a
destination. Likewise, you are never in the wrong place if you don't know
where to go.

It seems like so long ago I was lying in the office of my house, which
was doubling as my bedroom. What was I thinking? "Anything but this.
Anytime but now, anywhere but here." Too scared to cry, for fear that
the mere displacement of molecules by my tears might break what fragile
hope remained. How do you get rid of hope? We are told that hope is
good, but what about when it isn't? What about when it is destructive or
futile?
....
If I could choose a lasting monument to be left to my distant ancestors
it would be that my generation, against all odds, said "No more!" and
stopped what now appears to be an inescapable, ever increasing race
towards our destruction. My children's children's children to the 100th
generation would remember us for that and be forever grateful to us for
the air they breath and water they drink. Our decisions will be felt by
my great granddaughter as she cares lovingly for her child, whom she only
wants to provide a better life than she had, as her parents before. You
can still drive on the cobblestone roads built half a millennium ago.
Our roads, smooth and quiet, require constant repair and replacement.
You could pave over the cobblestone and in another century you'd have
good cobblestone roads again.
...
It is not possible to be lost if you do not have a destination. It is
possible to feel lost. Often times it is not the feeling that we are
going in the wrong direction that makes us turn around, but merely the
feeling that we have no direction. This is brought on by a lack of
destination. We'll head down one path and quickly change directions,
over and over coming back to where we started and heading in a new
direction. Sometimes we need to stay on course heading wherever we're
going at least long enough to KNOW it is the wrong direction. If we fail
to do this we will find ourselves on the same path, on a later date,
wondering what was a little further down the line.
"A hasty man eats soup with a fork." thats an old chinese proverb. I
take it to mean, a hasty man can quickly go through the motions, but a
lot is missed as it falls through the cracks.
...
She sat in the large windowsill, silhouetted in the lights of Brussels.
I sat on the bed, leaning in to her with all my might. Our legs barely
touching. Almost too much, but not nearly enough. We listened to Built to
Spill blasting as loud as could be through the ipod headphones sitting on
the sill. Like the music in the backs of our consciousness, only
perceptible, discernible if you knew the song. You could fill in the
audible gaps.

She told me about her family and her life. Crying at one point. I
wanted to hug her. I wanted to be hugged. Alive in some ones arms. I
said little. I felt joyous, joyous and sad. It wasn't as clear to me.
The only thing I said, "There are things you believe... you believe are
true. As all else changes and fails, you still have those constants to
hold on to, but what happens when those things fail? I don't believe in
those things anymore. I don't believe in tomorrow. Only right now.
Right now is all I can really believe in. " I stared into the
cobblestone night.

--------------
Fontainbleau 9-25-04

Its a function of nature to calm us, slow us and make us put things in
perspective. I thought this as I hung my clothes out to dry at Henry's
Mom's house. Their courtyard was something out of a romantic novel.
Bleached white stone statues created by his mother dotted the whole yard.
Full of lively flowers which only accented the deep greens that fanned out
to the periphery in every direction. A little stone pond where a fountain
may have been with a modernistic sculpture nearby. A painter must have
created such a scene because only in paintings had I seen such as this.
I smiled as I thought about how I had never hung my clothes out to dry
before. I'm sure it would seem like a chore in my past life. Why hang
them when you can run the dryer? They didn't even have a dryer. Clothes
hung to dry end up more rinkly anyway. Not too mention the time it takes
to meticulously hang your clothes. Of course you can only hang them when
its not raining and there is always the chance it won't dry quickly due to
lack of sun. What if you needed those pants for tonight, what would you
do? How would these little clothes hangers hold up my heavy water soaked
pants I thought as I marveled at the engineering prowess that created the
clothespin in the first place. It just works, not sure why. Something
about the downward pull of the pants that made the pin hold tighter.
Funny the clothespin hasn't been improved in so long. I guess it didn't
need to be.
What is it about these beautiful spaces that emits joy, forcing itself
under your skin, no matter how thick. You can't compare it to a place
joyous because of joyous people. If you lack joy and enter a place where
people are joyful or full of love, you often feel resentment. What gives
them the right? Why weren't you blessed with a life that permitted such
joy, you wonder as the whole scene mocks your very being. Nature seems
different, its joy less pretentious so that you can't take affront to it,
only accept or ignore it.
...
When I began this journey I went to find myself in another place. When I
got there I found a wrapped box. I carefully unwrapped the box thinking
surely I would find the answer in there. But I only found a box. This I
opened thinking surely I would find the answers inside. But I only found
a bag. I opened the bag sure my fortitude had finally paid off, but I
only found a wrapped ball. Unwrapping the ball I became suspicious that
perhaps inside I would not find what I wanted and sure enough, inside, I
found an onion. But this onion was the size of a planet, whose horizons
were too far to even see and each layer would take many lifetimes to peel.
It was then that I realized I had been wrong by many orders of magnitude
on the scope of my project. When I had thought I was close, I was really
very far. When I believed I had gotten much closer, I had only
imperceptibly moved. This process would not be as I imagined. As fast
as I could go, it would still happen to slow to be perceived. When change
was perceived, this too would be an illusion, soon to be exposed. I
would run for miles and look back to see my shadow right where I had left
it, I was in the same place as before. It is only by accepting the
process that I wold make progress. Accepting that the process is about
taking understanding and accepting it is misplaced. That which we believe
we understand we know the least about. I am peeling the onion. I do not
hope to even finish a single layer in this lifetime. I will find the
truth when I realize the world can not be understood as truth, but only in
beauty and mystery. For in our attempts to understand the mystery, we
lose the mystery. And in the end, it is only in this mystery we find joy.

Posted by wonko at 05:55 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 24, 2004

Paris

Is it right to even ask or does that negate the question? To define the mystery would be to abandon it. You can know without investigation. Memory is our guide. Using experiences as textbooks, graduating to higher classes the more we collect. There are no secrets, nor is anything known. I feel it, or at least sense it is there, but do not let it in or out. I am a spectator waiting to jump in the ring. There is where knowledge is, inprinted on us with every blow given and taken. The only danger is staying on the sidelines.

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September 23, 2004

Paris

I just booked my ticket to Barcelona for next wednesday. This weekend I'll go to Fontainbleu and hopefully catch up on some much needed writing and rest. I hear good things about Barcelona. I'll try and get to the surrounding cities as well. So this weekend expect more posts.

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September 22, 2004

Paris

Thanks to Lauren in Brussels I know just enough French to get by. I've changed my thoughts on this trip a little. I'm going to be vague about it at the moment, since I'm in another expensive net cafe. Needless to say, I sent a bunch of stuff back and spent a little time doing something I've never liked doing... shopping. Don't worry, I didn't spend much, but I'm feeling better all ready. Change is in the wind... not sure if its good or bad. Amsterdam taught me something. At one point I was lost looking for my hostel. I knew it was somewhere perpendicular to this one street so I'd find that street and start walking away. After a time I'd think I was going in the wrong direction and turn around, going past the street the other way. After a time I'd think I was going in the wrong direction again and turn around again going past the street and going just past where I'd been before, before turning around again. I did this about 4 or 5 times, each time going a little further. Whats the lesson? If you don't know exactly where you're going and are not sure what the WRONG direction is, you should stick to your current path long enough to make SURE its the wrong one. Otherwise you'll find yourself going down the same path again, a little later, wondering what was a little further. Au revoir

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September 20, 2004

Paris

Im in paris now. Expensive Net cafe with french keyboards that makes typing painfully slow for me. Belgium was an experience. Paris will be too, im sure. Hopefully this week ill be somewhere where i can write more. Til then

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September 16, 2004

Brussels, Belgium

I am no longer in Amsterdam, which is nice. Brussles is beautiful. I haven't seen much of it yet, other than walking around looking for a hostel. I plan on checking out Brooges and Ghent and then maybe taking the bus to Paris. All plans are tentative of course. I have been writing a great deal in my journal and some i net cafes, but have not had as much of a desire to write publically, if thats ok with you. I'm gonna get some sleep tonight, thats fore sure. The hostel here is beautiful and clean. Laundry, shower, its all a man could ask for!

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September 11, 2004

Dublin... still.

I was hoping I would be writing this from another country, but fate has a way of showing us who is really in control. Everything has been a whirlwind of occurrences and a rollercoaster of emotions. Still, I'm in Dublin. Not for lack of trying either. On a crazy whim I followed my German friend as he went to the airport at 4am to get a flight out and tried to get a flight myself, but to no avail, so with still no sleep I headed back and had to struggle to get a room at the hostel.

Hours later, I had a plane ticket to Rotterdam which I'll be using on Monday. Another traveller was going there and said I should follow, so thats what I'll do because one place is as good as any other at this point.

So far, this trip has rearranged my cerebellum on a moment-by-moment basis. It has been more a process of tearing down than building up... both in the good and bad moments. I see this as constructive nonetheless. It is hard to start building fresh over an old structure's rubble. This process of deconstructive construction is no less disruptive or disconcerting than construction itself... probably more so. Still, I am seeing the solid walls that were there as well as the weak ones. The solid ones are often in the wrong place, but can be salvaged just as well.

Experience overload. Its like learning through osmosis. I am not even sure what I'm going to get from all of this, nor am I pressuring myself to define it as such. I know that my time is being well spent, given the alternatives. I know I am moving forward, or backward (which can be forward if forward is the wrong direction) rapidly with things happening so fast I don't have time to judge them or prevent them from changing me... for the better.

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September 09, 2004

Dublin stil

Only a moment left on the net. Greg took my puter back. I'm in Dublin with a German I met named Dennis. He'll leave tomorrow night and I'll have to figure out where next. My parents are thinking of coming to Spain in early Oct and Obigabu is thinking of coming to Europe later in October. I just gotta make my $$ last til then. I'm sure once I'm out of Ireland it'll be easy to save money.. at least I won't spend as much on Guinness.

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September 07, 2004

Galway Again

I was in Doolin for 2 nights. We tried to go to Limerick, but the 1 hostel was booked. The other hostels held refugees for some reason. I'm only in Galway for a couple minutes as we're on our way to Dublin where Greg will fly out in 2 days. From there I don't know. I'l be giving my laptop to Greg at that point, so I'll have to rely on Net Cafes. I hope to update more later. Gotta catch a train.

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September 04, 2004

Politics and Religion (New York)

I began writing this in New York and wanted to complete it. First let me preface how this started.
I was walking down Broadway at around 34st when I saw they were filming Hardball with Chris Matthews. That ended and Scarbarough Country started filming with Ron Reagan as the co-host. I was only about 10' from the stage with a small crowd of maybe 12 people. It was a normal talking heads show with little interesting as they dissected the RNC. Just before a commercial break they had Stephen Baldwin on for an impromptu interview. I have to say I was angered and inspired to write by his comments. He came on to say that he didn't have a political agenda, just that he was promoting faith based politics. He was going to vote for the candidate who's decisions were led by God and who would bring faith back into politics. Ron Reagan asked Stephen if it mattered which God. This threw the Baldwin off, something that I'm sure is not difficult, and he responded that there is only one true God, the one living God who is Jesus Christ. Stephen then lamented on how we were not even aloud to say the Pledge of Allegiance anymore. At this Ron said, "Yes we are, we can say it right now if you want." Stephen was again flustered at this and tried to correct himself saying we weren't aloud to say the pledge at 'government things'. Stephen wouldn't say who he was voting for and believed he was being clever when he said, "I'm voting for the candidate who believes in God the most. Now, is there someone you think of when I say that? Thats who I'm voting for." Scarbarough then told Stephen that Kerry also believes and God and attends mass every weekend. He then asked Stephen, "What would Kerry need to say to get your vote?" This completely threw Stephen off his guard and after stammering for a little he actually said, "you got me there!"

I don't even know where to begin with this, but let me begin in the middle. The issue of the problem with Stephen's claim as to why he is voting for Bush is problematic, but I want to deal with an issue of the separation of church and state that is not dealt with as much.

I am supposed to believe that God is guiding Bush's actions and I should trust his actions because I trust God. If God IS guiding Bush in his decisions, what if I disagree with a decision. I do not believe going into Iraq the way we did was right, but Bush only did what God told him to do. Does that mean I am not hearing God right?
God told Bush that gay's should not marry, but Cheney doesn't want a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. His daughter is a lesbian. Funny how circumstance changes our opinions. I am confident if Cheney's daughter had not been a lesbian, he would be for the amendment. So, in this instance, is God telling Cheney something different than he is telling Bush? The truth is, I've disagreed with many if not most of Bush's policy decisions. If I disagree, fundamentally, with the moral basis for many of Bush's decisions I have to ask myself which is more likely, that a) Bush has a tighter line with God than I, or b) Bush is using religion as a political tool. Which is more likely? Would political leaders really be so deceptive as to use something like religion as a wedge issue to gain votes? Would they be so duplicitous? If you answered no, you should take some more history lessons. The above issue underlines one of the main problems with believing we can use religion as a means of choosing a candidate. Even if you really wanted a president who represented your religion, there is no way of knowing whether he/she is genuine about it or even if they may be deluded about it. Too often I see people voting based on this issue without paying attention to the actual platform or policy of the official. How can the voter know the official is representing their beliefs and/or position if they do not go the further step of learning what further platform the official has besides being of religion X. What if their policy decisions differ from what the voter would want? How do they reconcile that with the belief that the official will make the right decisions because God made those decisions for them?

The second major problem in Stephen's philosophy, which is shared by a great many American's is if we should vote for Bush because he is a Christian president and we believe our government should be Christian, aren't we saying that the president of the US should push his religion, which would be the religion of the majority who voted for him? What escapes Stephen is the notion that the religion of the majority may change, meaning, a president who is pushing a different religion may get elected for the reasons he is arguing Bush should be elected. What if we had a surge of Islamic immigrants who turned out in record numbers to vote. Would it be ok for them to vote an Islamic President into office who promised to intertwine his Muslim beliefs into the fabric of government? I would imagine most people voting for Bush based on his Christianity would have a problem with that. Yet, this is a democracy and thats how things work. The alternative is to assume there are many religions on the US which should all be protected by our government. If we are to protect the religions rights of everyone in the country, the government should not push a particular religion, for all the reasons stated above.

There are those who read my blog who may disagree with me, which I respect. I think this argument gets confused too frequently. I have complete respect for those who believe religion should be an important part of everyday life. I respect people who are pro-life and have conservative views on religion and such. I am not even saying you shouldn't use religion to help you with your political ideals. More what I'm saying is that it is dangerou, personally and collectively, to vote for someone just because he/she says he/she is the same religion as you. For those of you that disagree, I really want to hear from you. I do not believe I have a monopoly on the truth and would like to hear your dissenting views... or if you agree and why. For those of you who insist we should still vote for the most Christian president I have only one question. Prove Bush is really Christian and furthermore that his decisions are really led by God. Prove it beyond him just saying it is so. Good luck with that.

I've decided to write what my political platform is, so you can vote for me. That will come in a subsequent post.

Posted by wonko at 02:54 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 03, 2004

Galway, Ireland

I'm in Glaway, Ireland, with Greg. I've been traveling for 3 days without a break. I went over 30 some hours without sleep and finally got a half nights sleep at a Hostel in Belfast last night.

From Iceland I landed in Glasgow, Scottland with a couple hours to spare. It was a great city with lots of beautiful, old architecture and pedestrian walking areas. I was a little disappointed to find the gentrification I found in all major cities of the US had followed me. I walked by Gap's, Starbuck's, McDonalds, United Colors of Benington, etc.. I ended up at the bus station with time to kill so I found a nearby Irish pub. Why go to an Irish pub in Scottland? Cuz it was nearby and looked cheap. Inside I talked to the bartender for a little before a Glasgow native named Pattrick 'patty' sat next to me. He was super nice and the 1 pint I was going to have before my bus turned into 3 thanks to his generosity. The scott was hard core. He had his favorite football team tattooed on his arm, the Celtics I believe. He talked about going to Australia and out-drinking the ausies. He had some other story about being in Australia and having a drink with some aboriginals when he heard some brit making a racial comment. He asked the bartender whether the bar was insured, found out it was, and proceeded to crack a chair over the brit's head. Super nice guy though. Remember, there are no alcoholics in Brittan just like there were no 'colored' people in Zimbabwe. :)

After more buses and an awesome ferry ride I finally made it to Belfast where I took a cab to my hostel. Didn't get there til 10pm (after having left my Uncles in NYC at 2pm EST the day before). After talking to my roommates for a little, I finally got 6 hrs sleep before I had to run to the bus stop and get on a 9 hour bus ride to Galway, where I am now!

At some point in my sleep deprived state I started realizing I was on a different continent. This realization isn't as obvious as you'd think. The ground is still hard, trees still grow towards the sun, people breath the same air and drink the same water. They love, hurt, laugh and struggle just like anywhere else. People may be different, but all are essentially the same.

Tonight we're meeting some people for dinner and then likely Greg and I will head for the south of Ireland to check it out.

I think I'll send my laptop back with Greg. Having it has been a pain. Its heavy and valuable, both of which mean its a nuisance. This is the first time I've even opened it. I don't feel comfortable opening it in most situations because of its value. I've been very protective of it, which I need to be, but thats also a pain. Without my laptop, I have nothing of value to worry about. I'l be with Greg for the next 7 days with my laptop, so I'll decide then. If I had something smaller and cheaper, I'd not mind as much. I'm probably also gonna send some clothing home with him. Its best to go light.

I'm reading The Way of the Peaceful Warrior and I believe its beginning to have an impact. I can't really describe how at the moment, but I'm sure I'll be writing about it in the future.

Posted by wonko at 10:33 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Icelandair

I'm in Iceland! Just stopping here for 2 hours before I fly to Glasgow. The Icelandish women are very beautiful. All of our flight attendants are tall, thin blonds. It is a strange language and strange to see it everywhere around me.
Now some useless info on Iceland.
Iceland is almost at the arctic circle. The capitol Reykjavik, is probably somewhere between 65 and 68 degrees latitude. Iceland has under 280,000 people, most of which live in the 2 major cities. It was originally settled by norwegian vikings and the language is still similar to its viking predecessor. 90 percent of Icelanders are a member of the National Church of Iceland which is Lutheran. It boasts one of the first republican governments, which lasted from 930 AD to 1262 when it lost its independence. Iceland gained its its independence again in 1918.

Icelanders live for a long time, thanks in part to their good national health care system (plug). Women live to 81.3 and 76.4 for men. Per capita income is high as well.

All of this comes from the brochure stuffed in the pocket of the seat in front of me. I, for one, have no reason to doubt any of it... it sounds like a lovely place.

Posted by wonko at 10:01 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Eurotrip posts

So, I'm in Galway, Ireland, but more on that later. Some of my posts may come out of order or quickly as I don't have a net connection often, so I'll be writing then posting them all at once...

Posted by wonko at 09:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 01, 2004

New York, JFK

I had no idea how this was going to work. I was supposed to just walk up to the counter and tell them I wanted to get on a flight, handing them some handwritten voucher slip. Well, it worked. The guy at the counter was a little rude, but he thought I had a decent chance of getting on the flight. He told me to check back at 8pm. Its only 5 now. I'm sitting in a hallway near where I found an AC outlet so I can plug in. I look totally suspicious :) I guess I'll just have to wait to see if I can get on or not.

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Goodbye New York, Goodbye US

I'm just going to finish packing and then I'm off to JFK to try and get a standbye seat on a flight to Glasgow leaving tonight. There's a chance I won't get on, in which case you'll hear from me, but its looking good at this point. Once in Glasgow I'll find a bus to Dublin and hopefully meet up with Greg. I've enjoyed my time in NY immensely and will definitely return before its all over. Not sure what lies ahead across the pond. To be honest, I've made no preparations and have no expectations. I'm not doing anything right now I need to get away from and I have no where to be any time in the future. I still have a lot to deal with though, emotionally and physically.

To reach tomorrow, I need only wait for it to arrive -- there's nothing I can do to stop it or make it get here any faster. The Earth keeps spinning and I gotta keep spinning with it.

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