We all make fun of people who are at Starbucks with thick glasses, pretending to be writers. You don’t? Well I do. Or at least I used to do. I’m now sitting on the plane back to Bogota. I got a coffee by my side, and Word fired up on the laptop. The music’s playing but strangely enough I have only one ear bud on, because I want to “stay connected” to what’s around me. And I’m picturing people looking at me and thinking “Jesus Christ what a hipster, does he really think we’re going to believe he’s a writer?”
So that’s the thing; it’s not because you’re writing that you’re a writer, not that you even want to be one. That’s probably one of the many meanings of “l’habit ne fait pas le moine”. There is a subtle nuance though, that’ll be familiar to anyone who’s ever had a job. It’s not because someone is doing something that they have any idea what is it that they are doing, or how it should be done. And still it works, despite there being every reason for it to go wrong. So anyone can have a job or pretend, for a moment, to be a writer.
You’ve probably realized by now how uncomfortable I was writing in that plane. But I had things on my mind that I knew would soon fade away from my medium-term memory. I remember reading an article about sleep (I’m sure everyone has heard about it) where they compared that process to what a computer does when it’s emptying its recycle bin. Well I’d say that it’s closer to what a “garbage collector” does. That’s the thing that cleans-up the computer’s short-term memory (RAM) of information that isn’t in use anymore. It’s likely though that the original article/study/whatever used that wording and it got distorted and eventually I read “recycle bin”. Anyway, I have to do this regularly or I simply forget. I forget things, people, situations, places. Now what’s annoying is that in order to clean-up our short or medium term memory we actually have to stop everything else that we’re doing, sit down in an airplane, drink some coffee and get over the fact that we’re looking like a wannabee writer in a Starbucks. That’s uncomfortable.
What would be really comfortable, and cool too, would be to have some sort of device on which we could offload our memory with the touch of a button. Even cooler would be the ability to “reload” a given memory. How awesome would that be? Imagine posting your actual memory on Facebook for your friends to see, instead of a couple crappy pictures and an awkward note explaining how your dog was really funny at that time and why you took the picture because that reminded you of him as a puppy. Imagine instead your friends being able to experience precisely what you saw, felt, thought and pictured. Granted, you then wouldn’t probably be sharing your “experience” with your dog. And that would make the world a better place.
Imagine instead being able to “load” the experiences of say, an athlete who’s trained all his life and finally won a gold medal at the Olympics after years and years of training, restless weeks and months of hard work and has finally achieved what he or she’s ever dreamed for. That would be cool. Or imagine how we could learn this way. “Oh I’m loading Einstein’s experience when the idea of general relativity came to him.” That would be fantastic. Now of course some naughty robots might want to harness on that idea in order to farm us for electricity, feeding us with a simulated life but let’s not think about that.
Since we don’t have this kind of technology yet though, I’m going to do it “old school” and talk a bit about the days I spent in France. It will certainly pale in comparison to what I’ve described above so I realize not only do I look like a shitty writer but I am one, too.
So I left Bogota to Paris via Toronto (for cost reasons, I have no particular love for long connections!). The connection was so long (20H) that I had to leave the "international zone" and check-in again the next day. I didn't know that and that made for an interesting customs experience.
Coming into Canada from Bogota, as a French citizen with a passport issued in Thailand I guess I raised every possible flag at the pre-screening. So I was directed to another area for further questions. Naturally I explained what I was doing in Bogota, why I entered Canada previously, how I left the country, what I was going to do in Toronto, blablabla... the whole thing.
The officer started asking questions about my trip, what kind of motorcycle, the places I visited. At that point I didn't really know if that was still part of the questioning or if the officer was genuinely curious about my trip. After a good 20 minutes of questions I was free to enter Canada.
I wonder if the officer's friends also sometime wonder if they're being questioned in an official capacity or simply talking to their buddy.
My time in France was mostly spent with my family, which is why I came back. I don't really want to talk about it, it was great and surreal at the same time to see them again. The events there weren't the amusing kind but it was good to feel and give support. So that was a vacation inside the vacation.
"We have to go deeper." And I did! After spending 10 days with my family there was a vacation within a vacation within a vacation. (So you remember when you're there time goes 20 times 20 slower.) A quick evening and night with friends (thanks guys it was great to see you!) in Paris. We went to La Fete de l'Humanite. For those of you who aren't French, this is an event organized yearly by l'Humanite, a French communist newspaper (you read that right). It is supposed to be a music festival / political gathering. Passing a massive entrance that reminded me of a highway toll (I might be biased on that) we started wandering wide avenues lined with all kinds of booths. Here a sausage shop, there a Caribbean bar hosting the Guadeloupe branch of the Communist Party. Across the street, people shouting at the government spokeswoman for unknown reasons (the inebriated chaos didn't allow for much talking.) As we continued walking I turned to my friend and told him "Well this place really is a fun fair, I didn't expect that." He looked at me, then pointed roller coasters behind us.
Shouting at government officials was part of the experience, after all. The event allows everyone to experience the thrill of subversion for a reasonable price, with the added benefit of cheap beer and live music. There were also advertising boards and displays along the streets of the event.
I wonder how hardcore-old-school-I'll-send-you-to-the-gulag-you-capitalist-dog communists feel when looking at this event. But hey, even North Korea is talking about advertising.
As you've probably guessed, the population who came to enjoy communist subversion, beer and music was rather young. High-school/forever-a-student kind of young. So for the first time in my life I felt like an old fart. (Not that I was feeling cool/in/whatever before but... you know.)
Woke up from that vacation the next day, time went 20 times faster. Headache, racing to the airport, check-in. Toronto, monsieur. Lift-off, landing. Customs questioning v2. Check-in. Bogota, sir. Lift-off, aterrizaje. Bienvenido a Bogota.
Then back into the first level of vacation, time accelerated another 20 times. And I was now into it, in Bogota with Daniel and Amelie (can't thank you enough!)