I play outside, take notes in museums, and road-trip the western states with detours for air shows, rodeos, and interesting geology. Perhaps because my career choices all but guarantee that I myself will never own anything, I’m fascinated by public space: in any new city, I gravitate to libraries and cemeteries, subways and sidewalks and parks.

I write mostly to keep from forgetting all of this; as a result what you’ll find here is less information useful to planning your own trips than … transcripts of encounters with strangers, casual conjecture, and giddy descriptions of the sky. Sorry about that.



“Don’t you ever get tired of it?” asked Vanya. “I started keeping a diary several times but always dropped it. And when I read it over I was always ashamed of what I had put down.”

“Oh, no,” said Roman Bogdanovich. “If you do it thoroughly and regularly you get a good feeling, a feeling of self-preservation, so to speak. … And one day, when Roman Bogdanovich is very old, Roman Bogdanovich will sit down at his desk and start rereading his life. That’s who I’m writing for—for the future old man with the Santa Claus beard. And if I find that my life has been rich and worthwhile, then I shall leave this memoir as a lesson for posterity.”

“And if it’s all nonsense?” asked Vanya.

“What is nonsense to one may have sense for another,” replied Roman Bogdanovich rather sourly.

—From The Eye, Vladimir Nabokov