me in the piazza

I'm a writer, publishing both as SJ Rozan and, with Carlos Dews, as Sam Cabot. (I'm Sam, he's Cabot.) Here you can find links to my almost-daily blog posts, including the Saturday haiku I've been doing for years. BUT the blog itself has moved to my website. If you go on over there you can subscribe and you'll never miss a post. (Miss a post! A scary thought!) Also, I'll be teaching a writing workshop in Italy this summer -- come join us!
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Well, I'm back

I still have a couple of things to say about China, but let me say this now about being back, because it occurred to me as I emerged from the subway with my little suitcase. Maybe it was the 30 sleepless hours, but all the sights, smells and sounds of NYC hit me with particular force. At the very next millisecond, what hit me was a sense of relief that I could dismiss them. And I realized that that's what makes travel so thrilling, and so exhausting. You need to PAY ATTENTION all the time. Hong Kong, Dunhuang, Kashgar -- these places don't fill your senses any fuller than anyplace else does; but they fill them with different things. Roast chicken smells different, car horns sound different, the supermarket looks different. Even when you don't know you're paying attention, you are. You can't travel on autopilot the way you can walk down the street at home. Here I can turn the autopilot on and off, think about the book I'm writing while I sit by the river, forget the book and watch the ducks, think about the book again. On a four-hour ride along the Karakoram Highway all I could do was stare wide-eyed out the window, breathe the air as it turned from desert to mountain, try to GET it. That kind of heightened aliveness is possible at home, but it needs to be deliberate. Traveling, it's my default setting. Which probably explains why I love to travel, and why I love to come home.

And thanks, you guys, for sticking with me on this trip, and for your comments. I liked the idea I was sharing it with youse all.

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