Saturday, February 5, 2011

Another Place I Write

I am back here visiting this piece of my recent past, and I realize how many of you came with me, and how much I really did get around to writing on my journey. I wanted to update you all a little, and invite you in to another part of my mind and life.

I am sad to admit that I have not been writing a travel book about my journey. At some point, a book will happen, and the bike tour will be a large part of that work, but for now, I am in a very different place with my life and my spirit.

The end of the bike tour somehow led me to divinity school, in Berkeley, California. I am not ordaining to be a minister, but I am moving through a ministry program, and collecting incredible details about world theologies. I am hoping to one day complete a doctorate in Iranian Culture and Islam, and help connect young revolutionary Iranian artists with galleries in the United States. I am so tired of Islamaphobia, and the lack of education we receive about other cultures in the Unites States, especially as youth.

Everything is so complex. What we see of Islam on the television is not Islam. Islam is a body of millions of people, with deeply varied perspectives and desires. The "extremists" of any religious group are dangerous, especially when they believe they are right, without fail. I can only hope that "Fundamentalist" American Christians can see their own reflection in Islamic "extremists" before we further lose our grip on what little peace we know and hold so dear.

I am excited about my new adventures. I am learning the traditional art of Sufi Storytelling, and studying the Kabbalah. I am relearning the story of Moses from every available lens, and engaging in dialogue about the revolution in Egypt. Life is beautiful and powerful, and the journey continues.

So, in the meantime, I have started writing a very personal blog of poetry and prose, which I will share if you email me and ask for the link. It is darker, heavier, writing than what you have grown accustomed to here. Meatier, gamier... chew 27 times before swallowing.

So much has happened in this little life of mine, and I am trying to get it down in fragments, but I needed a sketchpad... a little space of solace within the written word. Hopefully that will keep my pen greased until I am ready to engage in a long, serious writing project. The pieces are often fragmented, or unfinished, and some are short sketches or drafts.

I am keeping that writing very private right now, and I may not pass it along if you are a member of my close and immediate personal community. Please ask, though, if you are genuinely interested. (malcolmrollick at gmail dot com)

Thank you to all of you who came with me on my bike journey. As my writing evolves, and other blogs, spaces and practices pop up, I will pass word along.

Much Love and Transformation,

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

the missing pieces

Dear Readers.  

I have failed you.... somewhere in the middle of the country I lost the will to hunt for computers.... Really, there weren't any to find.  

At this point, it would take me months to catch up, and tell you all of the secrets and stories of my long journey.  So... I'm writing a book.  This is the last time I will post on this page.  Maybe, later on down the road, I will start up a new blog, with clips from the book, and general life-stuff.

I apologize if you were left halfway in the middle of my story, with no resolve.  I can tell you that I arrived safely in Portland, ME on my bicycle on the 14th of October, 2009.  The last mountain range I rode felt like a hill, after all the climbing on the west coast, and it got cold at night.  So it ended sort of the way it began, cold nights (but no snow)... except that it didn't get much warmer during the day.    I got an everlasting sinus infection from staying in a freakishly dirty house, and had to opt out of riding certain stretches of upstate NY.  

The leaves were changing when I rode through Vermont and New Hampshire, and there were "leaf peepers" everywhere... filling up the hotels and flooding the restaurants.  One night, in 22 degree weather, we searched two hours for a hotel, pin-balling our names around waiting lists and watching the cozy travelers come and go.  We got cranky, and nearly gave up and drove away...  but discovered a hikers hostel at the last minute.  We slept in an un-insulated barn, with cold noses and warm bodies, joined by two brave through-hikers from the Appalachian Trail.

The ride into Portland was beautiful, the horseshoe bay giving me a view of the little city as I rode the home stretch.  I wandered around looking for a "Welcome to Portland" sign for photography's sake, to no avail....  I settled for a photo of myself leaning against a Portland Bike Lane sign, pointing in two directions.  It seemed apt enough, considering.

I don't know yet how this tour has effected me.  I know that I have challenged myself, both mentally and physically, and that I will keep learning from the experience as time unfolds, and as I re-align myself in the world.  For now, I am settled up in Connecticut, making jewelry and working up my courage to really tackle the book-writing full speed.  It's coming along nicely, but difficult it it's way.  I'm starting from the beginning... the very beginning, and I don't know how it's all going to come together.  I'm still living, I'm still working, and the puzzle hasn't come entirely clear yet.

I think however, that I have shed some of my judgement and pretense.  I have met so many people, and disagreed with so many people...  but they were kind.  I don't know what it takes to change minds that are closed against the harsher realities and extreme beatitudes, but I know that the ability to listen plays a large part.

I'm thinking back to Toledo, where I ended up playing folk songs on the fake grass between strip malls, somehow trying to express environmental concerns to people living in the middle of the American sleep/dream.   I'm thinking about the way they printed name tags, and called the local news.  I'm thinking of how I cringed at the representation of myself and my art that the news concocted.  I'll be thinking about this for awhile, I imagine.

I made it.  Coast to coast, on my bicycle.  I'm not an athlete.  I never have been.  I rode through rain and through mountains.  I rode past incredible views and industrial horrors.  I left a city that composts on a grand scale, and passed through cities without recycling programs.  

You can ride to work.  You can rally for safer bike lanes in your city.  You can carry a coffee mug and stop getting a new paper cup three times a day.  It sounds redundant to this point, as if being conscious were a trend, and we've all already read the news.  

Being conscious is a daily practice.  It's meditative, and it will restore you to sanity.  It's also our only option.  Every day that you make conscious choices will bring you closer to peace of mind, and will transform the world and the people around you.  This can happen anywhere.  It can happen between two strip malls in Toledo, Ohio.  It can happen in New York City.  It's happening in Portland, Oregon more and more every day.... and I can't wait to go home.

Thanks for reading, and stay in touch.  If you want to know what I'm doing as time passes, there are tons of ways to do so:

Facebook : Malcolm Rollick

and my jewelry!

Wish me luck!
xo Malcolm

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dreaming of a World Where this Doesn't Happen

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Aversion to Urban Sprawl...

... I've got it, in spades.  We are resting now in a small arts district in Buffalo, NY.  Chris is reading to me from Ishamael by Daniel Quinn while I try to find us places to sleep online.  We've been making friends with people via their pets, cuddling with park-happy puppies and watching the sun slip through the trees.  We are both looking forward to moving towards smaller cities, although this one does have it's charms.

Riding is easy and smooth... the air is cooler.  I layer up instead of layering down.  I listen to music and enjoy the views of Lake Erie as they come and go.  I steal concord grapes from the vine, and spit out the sours... savor the sweets.  I think my front tire is low, but I don't stop...  I wait.  It's not slowing me down. Here, people own all of the lake-side property.  Everywhere I ride, properties are for sale.  It is quiet, but there is a hidden stress in the air.  The lake, however, is calm and reflective; unconcerned with human affairs.  I am grateful wherever the world is green.

Sending Love,

x Mk

Friday, September 4, 2009

Slow Road, Michigan Wandering.... Passing and Laughing

We drove out of the park in Holland with little event.  The trail was tight, watching the bikes out the window, to safely return to the road.  The day was slipping past us, and we realized quickly that this wasn't the day to ride.  There were personal matters to attend to in Holland, a burgeoning storm and all of it's fallout.  We took the day to attend an AA meeting, collect ourselves, and get some internet work done.  

Chris works in drug and alcohol recovery in Utah.  He has been coming to Al-anon for about a year now... a group for people affected by addiction in the lives of people close to them.  He has known all along that he might need some support for his own addictions, however invisible they are to the naked eye... but until now he hasn't been willing.  Despite the hundreds of AA meetings he has attended in the past, he raised his hand and said it was his first meeting.  Brave.  It was an intense experience I think, for both of us.  Our journey for a few days has been speckled with meetings and heavy conversations.  

Days before I had been contacted by an old friend, an ex-lover.  We hadn't spoken in years.  Our inability to mend the fence finally wore out, in due course.  It feels like a lost member of my family has returned to me.  On another line a friend is recovering from sexual assault, and seeking support, leaving me with tides of anger and words I wish were easier to say.  So much is happening some days that I can't catch up with myself.  On a long ride, I fall into the music and dream...  I don't have it in me to process right now.  

I ride past a house proudly bearing a  confederate flag and I cringe, check my speed.  I ride past signs pointing to Hell... and notice the street headed that way is called "Darwin".  I wonder, stop to take a photograph even.... but keep moving.  Chris stays behind in Lansing to get stoned one last time, and to get to a meeting. 

We walk around these conservative Michigan towns, and people smile at us.  We look like any other young couple.  No one would guess looking at us that Chris was born in a female body.  He has never taken hormones to look male, and has not had any surgery.  He is the way he is, concealing soft curves beneath a male exterior.  People stare at us, like I am used to being stared at... but they only stare because they find us strangely beautiful, or strangely dressed.  We laugh a lot, take life lightly.  Chris outs himself as trans when it feels safe or necessary, or appropriate.  I tease him, calling him Boyfriend... calling him Boy. 

In Kalamazoo, everyone we spent time with knew that we were queer... but out here on the road, no one knows if we don't tell them.  In Toledo, Ohio, they put us up in  a gorgeous Victorian mansion in the Old West End, and the couple there never raised an eyebrow to question Chris' gender, or the nature of our relationship.  Chris finds himself invited into the back porch "boys club".  Tony tells him that he is glad Chris is travelling with me, that he cant imagine a woman biking alone.  Still working on being an outwardly feminist male... he merely states that I *was* alone up until recently, and leaves it at that.  We laugh later, knowing that for the depth of his queerness.... I am more likely protecting Chris.  

Amazing, these open windows into the gendered worlds I have been separate from for so long.  Kris, the lady of the house moons over Chris and I reading the paper together...  saying how amazing it is that we share interests....  She says "Well, you know how most men are...:"  I freeze a little, unsure what to say.  I feel so much compassion, but her world is foreign to me.  Conventional gender has vanished for us, mostly.  We are lovers.  In each others space and tangled around each others words.  Maybe this is queer priveledge.  We love so freely and fluidly.

I rode a seventy mile day without flinching, or tiring really at all.  Now that my gear is in the car, I fly easily across the Michigan flatlands.  My bike is in great shape and my body feels amazing. 

I am jumping around, because there has been so much to say....  I don't want to write you all a novel right now.   Eventually... but not right now  :)

More soon... We are off-route for a few days, back in Michigan.  We are up in Metro-Detroit visiting Chris' family, and getting the car looked at.  Clutch trouble.  My next show is in Erie, NY.  We will drive back down to the West Coast of the lake before I start riding again.  We have this ability now to take little detours in the car, and we are taking full advantage.  I'm still covering my miles, and I get to cram in a little extra adventuring...  All good.

Sending so much love and strength,
Malcolm xoxo


Friday, August 28, 2009

city camping, fruit, etc...

hey loves,
chris and i are sitting in holland, michigan this morning... eating free strawberries and drinking coffee.  spent the night in a city park, back behind the parking railings.... we drove chris' car into the woods and dropped a tent where no one could see us.  no cops, no trouble.  its nice having a car to jump into and find camping off of my bike route... hopefully it will keep me from singlehandedly supporting the rest stop motel industry.  
happy and resting today... just wanted to send a little update.  hope yer all well.  im playing in lansing tommorow night (August 29th)... maybe ill see a few of you there.
xoxo Mk

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tour Update...

Hey Family.... 

So I'm hitting the road again after a short break in Michigan.  I have collected a follow car to carry some of my gear, as I kick into tour mode. I'll be on my bicycle, while he cruises ahead each day to find campgrounds and rally show-goers. Lucky enough, my tour boy / driver is also a horn player, backup vocalist, penny-whistler and generally just great.... so there are good times ahead, some new sounds and new adventures.  Here are the dates so far.... more to come, so keep an eye out.

Not a lot of time to write out my adventures these days... but I will start to shoot out little stories when I can.  I have more computer access now.

xoxo Love from the road, Malcolm

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 7:00 PM
Portland to Portland Bike Tour
The Grand
Grand Haven, MI
Thursday, August 27th, 2009 7:00 PM
Portland to Portland Bike Tour
Holland, MI
Saturday, August 29th, 2009 8:00 PM
Portland to Portland Bike Tour
Lansing, MI
Tuesday, September 1st, 2009 6:00 PM
Outdoor Concert at Harbortown
Perrysburg, OH
Friday, September 11th, 2009 7:00 PM
Portland to Portland Bike Tour
Presque Gallery
Erie, PA
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 8:00 PM
Portland to Portland Bike Tour
Boulder Coffee
Rochester, NY
Friday, September 25th, 2009 8:00 PM
Portland to Portland Bike Tour
The Shop
312 E Seneca St
Ithaca, NY
Thursday, October 1st, 2009 7:00 PM
Portland to Portland Bike Tour
Caffe Lena Open Mic 
Saratoga Springs, NY
Wednesday, October 14th, 2009 7:00 PM
Portland to Portland Bike Tour
One Longfellow Square
Portland, ME
Thursday, October 22nd, 2009 7:00 PM
Portland to Portland Bike Tour
Boston, MA
Friday, October 30th, 2009 8:00 PM
Portland to Portland Bike Tour
Private House Concert at The Barn
get in touch for details
Friday, November 6th, 2009 7:00 PM
Portland to Portland Bike Tour
Living Room

"even after all of this time, the sun never says to the earth 'you owe me'. look what happens with a love like that....  it lights the whole sky"  Hafiz