Ross Anthony, M.Ed. (A Los Angeles Creative)
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Circle Earth
A Sketchbook, A Journal,
& the circumference of the planet
Written & Illustrated by Ross Anthony

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Excerpts

HELSINGBORG, SWEDEN Aug 27 Envy me. Whoever you are -- envy me. I am sitting on a rock on a cliff on the edge overlooking blue blue water with white powder sky. Wind, strong cool wind, playing harpsichord with my ears. Bread & East Berlin cheese, water, a browning banana, envy me watching the sea white against the hairline shore. Envy me meeting Ulla and Leonard who took me here just because they're kind. And she smiles her wrinkled skin to speak English with me. Envy me and the sun's white skips off the earth and roofs like pebbles into my eyes. And I am liking Sweden. And I am glad I am here. I am forgetting that awesome fear of here I had over there before I left.

What's real? Riding a blue 3-speed bike along the shoreline watching the sea pet the moss on the rocks, watching the white crystals flicker across the sea, past gray ferries and ships into Denmark with Hamlet's Castle to greet them. So what's real? I remember Dagdag, I remember watching Lake Michigan, I remember discovering South Mountain in Arizona. My problems are behind me, I crucified them in Copenhagen, left them in the rain. So what's real? If I could hug Sweden, I would. Instead I'll just pedal along her side.

(on the road) Sept 9 The camera is busted. Right now I'm in an abandon house in Halmstad, Sweden, just to the side of the on‑ramp to the highway to Gothenburg and ultimately ‑‑ Oslo. I came in here because it started to rain. Two days ago I went to Malmo to get my camera repaired, but they said it was too new. So I have to go to Oslo (for the next Canon service center in my path). I've been trying to get to Oslo for two & a half days! Arg! Hitchhiking in Sweden is crap. Sitting on the road in the cold sun, while trucks blow heavy winds of disgust so hard I have to take a step back. And now with this drizzle, and two people gave me a finger each. But this old house seems like a neat place to sleep if I must. I only have two bananas. Perhaps, I'll try the road again, juggle maybe, to get seen. A van slows and accepts me.
"Hey, I'm not a very good hitchhiker and I was wondering if the juggling helped?" I asked.
"Yeah sure, anybody that juggles on the side of a highway can't be all bad. Want an egg?" Hans and Lars, who had a heating coil powered by the lighter plug and plopped into a coffee cup of boiling water, were making hard-boiled eggs on their way to Gothenburg.

BASEL, SWITZERLAND Oct 16 "One please," I said in high spirits.
"You must be in a group, the ticketeer said. So I asked the middle‑aged couple behind me if I could be in their group. They agreed to let me ascend the tower with them, but the ticketeer and a priest said, "No, you can't go with them."
"Why?" I burst.
An American girl in the lobby answered, "You must be friends."
Again, I whined in disbelief, "Why?"
"To guard against suicides," the girl replied, "They wouldn't let me up either."
"So let's go walk around Basel for an hour and become friends." I recommended.

98.6 H2O leaves and returns
and the dragon of stone doesn't move
and his belly never empties
and the flow of water never dries.
I open my eyes only halfway
they fill with dragon's spray
under the dragon of stone
i sit alone among the many
and still his belly never empties
and the water never dries
and my eyes are only clouds.
i am an egg in the water's womb
rolling, i will soon need air
rolling, i am causing her pain by staying here
under the dragon of stone
i sit alone among the many
and his belly never empties
and the water never dries
and my eyes are only open on the inside.
my thoughts are only bubbles
that slide off the tongue
of the dragon of stone
i sit alone among the many
and his belly never empties
and the water never dries
and my eyes are only open.

SICILY, ITALY Nov 20 If I were born under the lemon‑slice moon would I be any different? If my great grandparents weren't so courageous, if they hadn't have had the nerve to sail the ocean to America ‑‑ would my parents still have met anyway? Would they have found themselves under the lemon‑slice moon speaking Siciliano and kissing like Italians? Would my father have been a fisherman painting his boat white in the November sun? Would my mother be washing clothes and sweeping the water off the sidewalk into the street? Would I fall in love here? Would I want to write songs and teach? Would I want to travel the world? Would I be happy just to sit here on the bubbled rocks off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and write about what my life would be like were my great grandparents to have sailed to America?

Oct 29 In Spain, the sulfur sun descends at six PM squirting mustard on the faces of lovers and children in the park. It strikes the porous mountain/city horizon and ignites into a red flame that one by one sets each cloud in the blue sky on fire.

Dec 15 And this is how Anna lives in the stairwell. She wears black and speaks Arabic funny because she hasn't many teeth. But she does have a cot that she sets on the first few steps after she thinks all of us have returned to the hotel/hostel for the night. And then in the morning she sits on the floor just outside the closet she's taken in as a home. The door to the closet is often open and if you look in as you pass by you will see a black and white photo of her son. Anna is old and her smile makes her cheeks fold over many times. On the floor she waits for people to enter the lobby because maybe they will buy a 1970's postcard of Egypt or a pyramid key chain, or maybe she can help them with the elevator door that occasionally sticks. And that's how Anna lives.

KOH PAH‑NGON, THAILAND Dec 25 There is nothing important here. Maybe out there, wherever the sea goes when it leaves the cove. Maybe out there, important things float on some people's minds. I looked inside my hut when I arrived before noon. I couldn't find anything important...a bed only, a mosquito net, and an oil lamp. From this swaying hammock, swaying like a baby chair, I can only see the sunset spilling into the water like papaya juice and washing up like yolk on the wet white sand that curls up into the gray rocks like a smile. I can only hear the waves whispering to sidestepping white crabs. I can only taste fried rice with egg and floating Chinese tea. I can only feel the wind like watercolor brush through my hair Thai‑massaging my shoulders on its way to the palm trees ‑‑painting each one peach only on one side. Before noon there was an important thing I'm sure, on my mind, on my way through the mud‑rutted pathways drooling down the surrounding mountains. On my mind, on the Honda MTX, there was an important thing there I'm sure. I think it swam away in the blue water when I sidestroked with my flute in hand. And now in the hammock, I think the wind has passed through my ears changing my mind into cool sand so that my thoughts can walk without shoes.

(late afternoon to dusk) Dec 30 I watched Prachuwp's mother burn. Her corpse, char‑black and white‑hot, like the logs below. The orange flames wrapped around the wood and bones like an orange ocean. Prachuwp and the seven Thai men and I sat on our tongs in the grass among the coconut palms, around one bottle of whiskey and one glass. I sat with them for one hour, sipping and teaching them to make sounds with my flute. Three times Prachuwp got up to poke his mother with a long bamboo pole. Prachuwp is 37 his mother was 54 when she lost control of her jeep yesterday, on a wet mountain road.

JAKARTA, INDONESIA Jan 10 This morning I slept (with a/c thank you), woke up, trimmed my beard, showered (with hot water thank you) and stepped out of my Jakarta hotel for some guts. I think stomach, intestine, maybe even some tongue ‑‑ nearly the whole digestive system of some animal was floating in a yellow orange sauce with some bits of tomatoes, potatoes and rice. Admittedly, I was a bit shocked to see him cut all that crap up first thing in the morning. It wasn't too bad. I even ate most of it except for the liver. I hate liver.

YOGYKARTA, INDONESIA Jan 12 A JAVANESE DANCE Fingers curl like roosters tremble like jungle timpani Palms swell out like turkey breasts Shoulders like ocean waves rock driftwood arms Wood to metal calls for elbow wave crests Rooster caws wake from wire on nails tuned to lizard scales sucking coconut milk and palm juice from swollen turkey breasts Cheeks never rise nor fall nor shatter nor lips break apart like crystal Only stained glass circles against white skies dance rolling back and forth on painted black slants.

Jan 14 Travel is a high like falling in love, like finding God. It teaches one to smile with the light from one's eyes. It reminds, "Hey, you can do anything."

HONG KONG Jan 23 I woke the next morning with swollen feet (like before in Greece). But there were no red sores this time. Just a bit of pain to stand on them. Standing in the subways, playing flute for the Chinese in their season of the New Year. They filled my hat $5‑8 an hour. One lady gave me a red envelope and smiled (It's Chinese tradition for the elders to give the younger folks these red envelopes with a gift of money inside ‑‑ I was quite honored and have no intention of spending it.) Later, a happy fellow put his sports jacket around me as I played; he smiled and said thank you. Back at Chung King hostel (17 floors of foreigners sleeping for $5‑10 a night) I crawl to the top bunk. Backpacks and travel books, clothes and stories of the days past litter the rooms and halls. Something's missing. Drive to explore? religion? peace? contentment? a girl? my piano? solitude? I've been craving solitude like chocolate.

Click here to hear "Monkey Duck" composed by Ross Anthony while in Taiwan.
(This is a Midi File, give it a minute to load after you click.)

tut
(If you'd like a copy of the sheet music -- email me and ask nicely.)

TAIPEI, TAIWAN Jan 29 When I was around seven years old I turned a plastic toy over and read "Made in Taiwan." I asked my mom what that meant. She said that the toy was made in a factory in another country very far away. I imagined at that time that Taiwan was an ugly island only with factories and everyone who lived there worked in the factories making toys all day and not talking to each other.

Jan 31 White sparks cut through the colors of Chungshio Road like abrasions on frames of film. Frame by frame, the cracks explode like war. Frame by frame, children with forearms covering their faces turn laughing. An old man walks by with his fingers in his ears. He lights his eyes in surprise and smiles on Chinese New Year.

Mar 10 One day while riding, the gearshift jammed into the spokes. I jumped off the bike and tried to pry it back with a stick. A man walked up to me speaking only Chinese. With the help of a passerby, he asked me if I wanted to be in a Kung Fu movie. I would be paid well and it should take less than two months. He could train me in the week and a half before the movie and I would have the lead white guy part.... I started taking lessons in the early AM at a Buddhist temple.

Apr 29 Even without inspiration, it still seems to me that some things are of the greatest import: love, honesty, trust, forgiveness, happiness.

May 8 A government camera crew stays at the same Tien Shin hostel as I. I ask if one of them speaks English, they smile and say "We all do." I ask them lots of questions about what they do, as I have little experience and much to learn. They tell me that they have come to make a documentary on this national park and that they will leave tomorrow to climb the mountain at "Swallows Grottle." "May I join you?"

May 10 I set off for Lishan. My clutch is operating poorly, so I use it seldom, switching gears only when absolutely necessary. The road winds up and up into the rich green mountains. My bent Vespa carries me to the clouds and then through them. My camera refuses to operate in this dew. Riding through a tunnel along with the clouds, the engine dies. I panic (without an idle my light goes out ‑‑ I am completely vulnerable). I scramble for the flashlight I bought on the way (a wise investment). Calmly, I use the flashlight to find the tunnel wall. I walk the bike to it and start it back up without too much problem. Approaching the end of the tunnel, the clouds blur the light into a small puffy ball.

KYOTO, May 28 I sit in the bamboo forest near Kyoto, whittling pan flutes for my hosts.

May 29 In the earlier morning, before his work, Yoshio drove me to the Kosakadoro (highway) to hitchhike to Kozen. Smiling he said, "This morning we woke up early. We heard the birds sing. Wonderful feeling. Every morning I wake up not early, I cannot heard the birds sing."

NAGASAKI Jun 8 They held handkerchiefs to their chins to catch the tears before they fell to the floor. They walked slowly in their school uniforms past photos of dead and mutilated people, pausing in front of photos taken in 1945 of their demolished city.

Jun 13 I started in the early morning, hitching for rides from Nagasaki to Tokyo to catch my plane back to my country. A twenty‑eight hour hitchhiking marathon.Once stopping at a rest stop, a kind driver and I peered out into a strait. He held up his hand with majesty, turning it slowly toward the harbor below.
"Chinese Taichi?" I asked.
"No," he replied, "Hand is radar ‑‑ inspiration radar." He put his hand over mine and nodded.

"of farmers and frogs"
rice fields are mirrors
for the clouds to watch themselves
drift by and glance in.

rice fields are shallow
soft mud baths for today's end
sun slips slowly in.

rice fields are windows
that show earth's heart to the moon,
stars blink and peek in.

 

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Circle Earth: A Sketchbook, A Journal, & the Circumference of the Planet
For ADULTS & OLDER TEENS

Copyright © Ross Anthony, RossAnthony.com Last Modified: Thursday, 24-Oct-2013 14:12:48 PDT