Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Nuisance At Your Service.

Brash Undertones.
Bearded.
Lives in a nest.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Let's Meet Up.

What's up Family?
What's up Tribe?

What's up Fairies?

What's up Gypsies?

Hobos? Dirtbaggers? Rubber Tramps?

Wine and smoke is on me.
(747) 444-1076.

[ Austin, TX ]

Friday, March 17, 2017

Carol Cleveland Sings. Bathing is Unsanitary.

Being at SXSW is not my primary objective. The real mission is always the same: horsing around and trying to stay warm. However, with music everywhere, and as a person who loves music, it is incumbent upon me to see what's up. I spent some time browsing lists of free shows. On one of those lists, I saw people I know.

Carol Cleveland Sings is from Philadelphia. I know Thomas of that band. I never met Gretchen before, but I listened to one of her albums a bunch of times this year. It was ten minutes by bicycle to their show at a cafe.

Life rules. Another detail about this parking spot I love is that it's close to a fancy library. Four minute bicycle ride. I'm not the only one who uses the restroom like it's mine. I'm not the only one who keeps grease at bay with a wet paper towel.

There is a sign above the sink that seeks to prohibit "bathing" in this bathroom. The sign explains, as though there must be a reason, that whatever they are calling "bathing" is "unsanitary." Hilarious. The sign begins with "Due to," meaning that the reason for this sign, they would have you believe, is that loads of people are getting sick. Interesting. What a perfect example of transparent malarkey. So, washing your hands prevents the spread of germs - but washing anything else... creates them? This is another missed opportunity to be honest. The sign should say something along the lines of "Stop Making A Mess Here, You Homeless Fucks." That's what the poster of this sign really means. "Don't Spread Your Filth Here, You Disgusting Bum."

Personally, I would bathe there every day if I could. Sadly, I do not fit in the sink.

I bought a Carol Cleveland Sings album on cassette. Yes, I confirmed: my van sports a cassette deck. It was novel to see Philadelphia people appear where I'm at. There was time before their flight, so we sat at a picnic table outside the cafe and talked. I was surprised when Thomas became a bad influence. He ordered a daiquiri and it was barely afternoon. He offered me a drink ticket, so I got one too. It was a delicious delight.

I'm feeling so social, I could fall out of my socks. In one version of my future, I will return to Philadelphia one day. In this version of the future, I might need more friends. I wouldn't mind seeing this band and these folks again. I would like to talk more. They are good and friendly and down to earth. They are the type of people I am happy to know.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Vandwelling and bicycles at SXSW.

I'm in the best parking spot. One of my all-time favorites. I have a bicycle. I am The King.

My parking spot... this spot...

I can have the doors open and be drinking wine there while I cook quinoa and listen to that chopped and screwed Jidenna track. The doors open up to a big empty grassy lot. Any day; any hour. There are a few other vanners sprinkled in along these two blocks. A couple small RVs and some girls who sleep under a truck cap. I'm a five minute bicycle ride to the proper downtown area. Shit's getting wild there at night. You can sit on the crowd barriers and talk to people. You can watch people go by. Sometimes a guy will pass you his blunt. Mostly you sit and wonder how you're there.

I ride my bicycle like it's a hang glider. I cut around traffic like it's an obstacle standing still. Sometimes I don't ride at all - I stand with my left foot on the right pedal and coast along at pedestrian speed. Sometimes I sit sideways on the top tube - I cross my legs, and glide. Music is in every direction. I cruise slowly for blocks.

When it's time to go, I SPRINT! I can't imagine life without a bicycle. I can't imagine cabs and trying to park close. I can't imagine walking for twenty minutes when a bicycle gets there in two. I can't stand walking near people on the sidewalk. I can't understand them, and I can't handle the pace.

I fucking hate some cars and their driver's overblown sense of entitlement. People try to drive close and tell you where to be on the road. Mostly I ride as fast as the cars. Give me some fucking space. I'm sorry to hear about your failed attempts at living. Killing me won't help.

I wrote a song about how it is to be bicycling:

        Fuck Your Cars!

        Fuck your fuckin' car.
        Fuck your car, you stupid dick.

        Yes I know I also drive a car!


Somebody has gotta yell those lyrics while stabbing a guitar with a fork. Yeah, man. I'm calm.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

SXSW music and my watching of it gains momentum.

Today was fantastic. The weather became perfect, and I got many things done. I am still adapting my workflow to fit inside my van. This includes smaller shipments and separating tasks into smaller chunks. The plan is working. I posted up beside the Walmart where I got plenty of wifi using my special wifi antenna. I put on some music. I scanned barcodes, affixed labels, taped boxes, and did business. I couldn't ask for a greater success. I am thankful for these new Modafinil pills.

I got every single book into a shipment, and cleared all of the books out of my van. For the duration of SXSW, I will not be working, and it is great to have maximum free space in my home.

I scoped out free parking situations near the action, and stumbled upon a real humdinger. I found street parking a couple blocks from where the paid parking ends, and I am currently parked next to a grassy field. I am a half mile from downtown, and centrally located, for all manner of facilities and festivities.

I checked my phone to see what music might be playing, and was pleased to see Rocket From the Crypt. I have listened to Scream, Dracula, Scream! about ten thousand times, so I pointed my bicycle in that direction. They played most of that album, and a bunch of other songs. The performance made my day almost complete.

I wasn't able to find much more that I was excited to see, so I began the process of racing around and cruising the periphery by bicycle. I found some buskers who looked about high school age. I am convinced they were the best band on 6th Street, by far. They were drums, trombone, and saxophone. They were all highly technically skilled. To say their jams impressed me is understating the fact. I dropped them some dollars, one here; one there, and though a growing crowd was enthusiastic, they were being totally underpaid. The group's name is "Ayuma" which is a searchable band name, as I confirmed later on my phone before bed.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

This damned sore throat keeps happening.

It got cold last night. The temperature dipped to the mid-40's. I didn't sleep well, which is the outcome sometimes, when I take a Modafinil during the day. I laid awake for hours in my mummy bag, cozy in a hat and thin woolies. I got only fragments of sleep until the birds began chirping, at which point I became exhausted and slept for a few hours.

There is not a single thing wrong with getting a late start, except for societal norms which cause a person to feel unproductive. I would love to live my life one day at a time, rather than measuring up to other people's standards. This is something to think more about. I need to love life, relax, and breathe.

My sore throat has me worried. I've had a sore throat for too close to a month. Finally, I went to the CVS Minute Clinic, where they can run a test and maybe offer advice. As it turns out, there is nothing they can do, except charge me a huge fee because my insurance is fucking awful. The only thing I learned is that it is definitely not strep throat, and the lady there told me with some confidence that the infection is not bacterial. A bacterial infection is why I quit drinking. If booze isn't feeding bacteria then fuck it. I'm willing to see what happens.

I drove to the Walmart two miles away. I bought beer and salsa and tortilla chips. I rented a movie from the Red Box. I had a wonderful low-key night in the parking lot.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Leaving the Holler to find urban camping.

Today was great! I am back in the wild. I am back to urban camping and being off on my own. New guests at George's Holler are arriving by small RV, and it is their turn to park in the yard. The timing could not be more perfect. I am ready to explore Austin from the seat of my bicycle. I am excited to see what I find.

The South-By-Southwest music festival, aka SXSW, is getting ready to kick off full force. I want to position myself properly for maximum ownership of this town. I want to park close and blend in with the crowds.

Today was beautiful. The temperature eased up to 71 degrees. I attended a book sale, and scored some great finds, and the whole process took hardly more than an hour. I impressed myself by continuing to work, even though I told myself I didn't have to.

Eddie called me from Key West, which brightened my day further. I was pleased with the timing so I could express honest and natural contentment. It seems Eddie felt much the same.

I was approached by a local girl who sleeps outside. I had my side doors open while I was creating shipments inside the van. She welcomed me to the neighborhood. She said the residents there and the cops were all cool, and she pointed out an excellent spot for parking that night. She told me where to get food for free, and explained the food offered is the highest quality.

This friendly girl returned a little later, and hemmed and hawed awkwardly about asking for a dollar. She didn't actually ask for money, but rather explained that she wanted beer. I offered her a bottle of shiraz instead. To complete a barter, she gave me an elite bean salad and three avocados. It looked like more than a complete dinner to me.

The timing was perfect, because I was just about to cook. My plan was to ride a bicycle to downtown. My goal was to loaf around at free shows while spending zero money and maybe scope out more places to park.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sometimes it is cold. Sometimes it rains.

Sometimes it rains. Sometimes it is cold. It happened today, and I dealt with it. I woke up late in a sleeping bag. Eventually, I stood up and put on warm pants. I cooked breakfast with the doors only slightly open. I hardly managed to leave the van.

I thought fondly of Key West as the temperatures remained just shy of fifty. Key West is almost perpetually sunny and warm. In Austin Texas this weather is typical of winter. It passes quickly, but these days exist.

I sat back on my bed and had an afternoon puff. Just one, so as to not fuck with my throat. I pulled the drawstring tight on the hood of my sweatshirt, and wrapped a blanket around my shoulders and legs. I watched some shows on my laptop as much for entertainment as simply to help time pass.

I emerged toward evening and headed to the tiny home to sit with Matt and George who were comfortable by the fire.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Family Day at the Holler.

I am drinking herbal tea with echinacea. I am drinking herbal tea with peppermint. I am eating spinach and greens along with my usual eggs, nuts, and seeds.

Saturday is Family Day at George's Holler. The odd folks and family and fairies assemble. I would like to explain how much reverence I have while using words that offend exactly nobody. Talk of Rainbow gatherings and Fairy gatherings held my interest. I like to paint my nails and travel. I felt a kinship with this group, while still feeling like an outsider. I felt conspicuously incredibly straight. Or maybe I felt like a straight guy who sends the wrong message by painting my nails and crossing my legs at the knee. These self-conscious thoughts are all too human. I do what I'm doing, and there is no judgement here. Everybody here is just living their lives. It's a rare case to feel the most normal.

Shared dinner at Family Day seems to be roast vegetables. Jaguar brought a huge jar of soup. There was pie that I had to take a pass on, for the unfortunate reason of trying to heal my throat.

Nobody drinks at Family Day. I'm not sure if it's a rule, but it seems like a custom. I relished the opportunity to have fun without booze. After dinner and some music, a laptop emerged. Karaoke seemed like a sober stranger's nightmare. However, judgement was absent, so I sat on the futon mattress on the floor. I didn't know the music, and I didn't sing well, which meant that I fit in roughly just fine.

I like all these people. I like what is happening here. I am thankful for each person who I can call my friend.

Friday, March 10, 2017

A little bit sick and anxious.

My sore throat is going nowhere. Lisa suggests a natural approach. No alcohol, no sugar, no bread and carbs. That is what I am doing. Being healthy never hurt, and I'll try anything to make swallowing less painful.

This morning I took a Modafinil. Like Adderall, it assembles my thoughts. One action at a time. I can efficiently complete actions for a series of hours, culminating in what feels like a successful day. Then the stimulant wears off, and I am left feeling anxious. My brain returns to a soup.

My anxiety seems in no way rational. It is a manifestation of chemicals. They will not just shut up. Nothing truly bad results from this feeling. It is uncomfortable, that is all. Nobody knows when it's happening. It feels like I'm waiting for a sky which will not fall. I can either start drinking or wait for it to pass. I can take deep breaths and stare at a wall.

My life is perfect right now. I am doing exactly everything I want. My expenses are low, I am saving money, I am cooking and eating good food. I am meeting new people and experiencing beautiful moments - not every day, but surprisingly often. My recent track record is an undeniable win.

My strategy for life is sustainable. I can exist indefinitely in this manner which I love. Why then should I feel anxious? What worries exist in my body, which my brain is unaware of? No, the anxiety is not rational. It will not, however, just shut the fuck up.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Eggs, bicycles, and lunch.

George's Holler is complete with two hens. They lay eggs a little faster than people tend to eat them, which is a direct benefit to me. I ate my three daily eggs provided by known-happy chickens, and noted the size of the yolks. I mentioned this to George, who grew up on a farm, and explained the size of the yolk increases with the quality of the chicken's diet.

I took a short aimless bicycle ride, and noted that Austin has hills. I stopped by the non-profit bicycle project, and got a patch kit to repair the flat tire on George's folding bike. With nothing but bicycles on my mind for several hours, I began daydreaming of touring again. Maybe soon I will go on a new bicycle tour. It has been six years since my last major campaign.

George cooked lunch again. He's been making me quesadillas. He has a construction project he is working on a few blocks away, and he comes home and we hang out over lunch.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March 8, 2017

Today included only the most minor accomplishments. I worked on a slight amount of business. I rode along to get construction supplies with George. We cruised to the store in his step van, Willy, and I learned that on hot days the sliding side doors can remain open. Willy is a step van, but a special breed - an Automate, which is built on a Dodge Caravan chassis. The fuel economy is much better than my van, but the ground clearance is notably lower. The living space is similar in both of our vehicles, but Willy has some aspects which I aspire to copy.

On the way home from the store, we stopped at a farm, where we met with George's friend, Jaguar. Jaguar texted George's flip phone that he had basil and cilantro seedlings to offer. I got to check out what the micro-greens and composting setup looked like. We picked up the seedlings and a bag of soil.

My throat has been sore since New Orleans. Sometimes I think it is improving, and then it gets much worse again. I quit drinking alcohol today, and stopped eating anything with sugar, in a bid to boost my immunity and stop this stupid everlasting infection.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Vandwelling in new locations is weird.

Living in a van means experiencing beautiful moments and meeting some of the planet's most wonderful people. That's true. Living in a van is not without adversity - for me, new places are weird. When you get to an unfamiliar location, you do not have a routine established. You need to learn new streets, and the locations of resources. It can be easy to feel aloof and alone. It is a natural instinct to want to keep moving. These days, I am ignoring that reflex.

In the past, I have often left good locations prematurely instead of giving anxiety an opportunity to settle. I am trying this time to become familiar with new places. Thus, when I return in the future, I will already feel at ease. I am developing what I hope is a repeatable nomadic loop. I am connecting locations with sunshine, music, and beauty.

Having only arrived in Austin a moment ago, I can feel the rise of trepidation about the unknown. But with Austin, I have some help. I am parked in the backyard of known good people. I met Walking Onion through emails nine years ago. I was a confused 20-something in a van in Key West. I was being honest about my insecurities while Typing Right Here. I exchanged emails with this man, who I knew I must meet, and his words provided validation and put me at ease.

Today I met Heather who arrived by bicycle; specifically an MB-6. The more that we spoke, the more we found in common. She was at George's Holler to build a ladder. She is living in a tiny house nearby, and does not have a ladder, and George has offered to help. They cut two-by-fours with a chop saw until the sun was setting. George explained how to use each tool, and helped with every step. After darkness had fallen, I helped hold a flashlight, as Heather traced the edges of the ladder with a router. The construction was simple, but the resulting ladder had character. It was narrow, and the router was a nice finishing touch.

I helped carry the new ladder to the house where Heather is staying. It gave us a chance to notice more about how we think alike.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Arriving at George's Holler

I drove from Lake Charles, Louisiana to Austin, Texas. I arrived to a warm greeting from George. We haven't spent much time together, but George is my tribe exactly. I stepped out of the van to a smile and a hug. I was made to feel most welcome.

I'm going to be posted up in the yard here for a stretch. I reversed into the backyard behind the gate. I parked in front of George's step van, Willy. The yard is full of small places to live.

George, aka Walking Onion, bought the little old house, which is the main one on the property. He built two tiny houses out back. He lives in one of those homes with his boyfriend, Matt, and travels north for half of the year in Willy. The main house and other tiny home are rented out to friends. In addition to those who live here, there is a steady stream of travelers. I am only the most recent arrival.

This is a warm and friendly destination. This is an enclave of interesting outsiders. Everybody I meet here has positive vibes. The compound is known affectionately as "George's Holler."

Sunday, March 5, 2017

What vanning is like sometimes.

I woke up at another Walmart. I opened the doors to let in fresh air. As I began to walk toward the entrance, the word "beautiful" entered my mind again. I think I might be getting stupider. I laughed. To be absolutely sure, there is nothing beautiful about this scene today. Not the look or the feel or the people.

I am a little bit damp and a little bit sick. I haven't seen sunshine in awhile. My shorts have been washed twice since December. They are returning to a stiff cardboard-like state. I smell funny, and I absolutely need a new piss jug. My diet is passable, but I'm tired a lot. Drinking is keeping me sick. I've had a sore throat for a week.

Still, I remain in good spirits. The amusement and novelty of traveling endures. The sun will come back and I will make new friends. I will return more or less to reality. For now I might be slipping. It's hard to tell for sure. I don't have a unit of measure to use. I wouldn't know what to compare myself to.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Cooking and looking and now headed west.

Ian cooks plenty of food. Since I've been here, he's made authentic red beans, gumbo, and boudin sausage. Last night I ate his brisket with mac n' cheese. He takes his time and makes frequent use of a smoker. All this has been to my direct benefit starting the moment I got into town.

We've had a great time talking and riding bicycles with an ever-increasing confidence and speed. We've visited breweries and bars. We've aimed at nothing in particular and had a sit down by the river. I don't like making plans for an unknown future, but I would strongly consider being here again next year.

The last item on my pre-departure to-do list was to get an oil change and get the front end looked at. I want to make sure that none of the noises are dangerous. The ball joints are getting worn out.

While I waited for the van, I wandered down to the French Quarter. I took one last look at the buskers and travelers. I watched tourists bumbling along. Expensive shoes, corny t-shirts, lousy blouses - a drink in every hand by 11am. I saw a young man dressed up as Darth Vader singing and dancing to get a dollar from the tourists. I saw a homeless man passed out in a wheelchair, and the cops discussing what to arrest him for.

The dude at Midas said the ball joints could wait. I'll handle that soon enough. I took a nap and woke up feeling antsy. I decided to move a short distance down the road. I returned to Ian's to say goodbye and get a farewell hug. I cruised west on the I-10 and landed in Gonzales, LA. I got a six of Coors and some cheddar cheese. I parked for the night at Walmart - where else?


Friday, March 3, 2017

Happy hens; meetup with Mary.

I woke up at the best parking spot in town. I opened the doors and broke three eggs into a cooking pot. This time the chickens laying the eggs were happy. That is a quote directly from the carton: Happy Hens. If they're happy, I'm happy. If they're not happy, I still might be. I'm still working this business out.

My friend Mary is in town. She is the tour manager for some band that is passing through. They arrived yesterday in a tour bus. Me and Ian rode down to the French Quarter and met her for a po' boy lunch. I wish she had some more time to sit around. But managing tours keeps a person busy. I was happy for the chance to lift her up off the sidewalk. I'll take a hug and a smile when I can.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

The best vandwelling spot I have ever found.

Aside from the all-hours screeching and squealing of trains, I think I found the ultimate spot. For more than half of my time in New Orleans, I have parked in this same spot. Sometimes I am the only vehicle there. There is not much passing traffic, and I can have my doors wide open at any hour of day or night. I could live here forever. I can't imagine ever being asked to move.

Maybe I have become too complacent - but I doubt it. This spot does seem nearly perfect. From this spot, I can hop on a bicycle and go anywhere in the city with ease. I have a water fountain a couple blocks away to fill water jugs, and a porta-john a block away next to the Mississippi and a park. For all these reasons, I think this is the best vandwelling parking spot I have ever found.

Maybe there is a spot this good in every city. That doesn't seem too far-fetched. I had a similar wonderful spot in Philly years ago. Seek and ye shall probably find.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New month, new plans.

Phew. Wow. Mardi Gras is over. The mandatory partying is done. Lisa left this morning to return to reality and life. The interior of my van has resumed being huge. I have some loose ends to tie up before hitting the road. My next destination is Austin. I know some people there a little bit. I have a place to park.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The best part of Mardi Gras is the lead-up.

The best part about Mardi Gras is the lead-up beforehand. Today is Mardi Gras, and it’s a shit show. It’s a spectacle. It is amusing, but I like the small brass processions. I like the second line parades and the errant bits of funk. For Mardi Gras day there is some of that in the morning, but this is also the World Series of getting fucked up.

My instinct is to avoid drinking while the sun is still high. It is a reasonable instinct followed by nobody here. My future expectation for Mardi Gras is to be a fly on the wall. With that goal, there can be no disappointment. For me today, I paced myself, with spaced out beers to fit in.

Next to the Mississippi, I looked for a place to piss. I walked about twenty feet up the train tracks. A man was passed out on some cardboard, with a boot leaning right on the track. A train was idling about a hundred yards away.

“Hey Buddy” I said loud enough to hear. “Your foot is right on the track, man.”

I tried to sound non-committal. I could tell he could hear me, but whether words registered was in doubt. “I can move you if you want” I offered. “But you should just go a few feet over.”

At this point he slid his boot over an inch. It seemed like he had the idea, but not what it takes to sit up and move.

“There’s not enough space, man. If the train goes this way it’s not good for you, dude. It’s gonna fuck you up, man...” I continued to try sounding conversational. A casual observer; nonchalant.

You can’t go around shoving every hobo on every train track. Trying to physically move a guy can be risky. I walked away and went back to my bench, which was close. I was fully aware that if I saw the train move, I would need to run over and yank him out of the way. I would have to move fast with no fucking around. I would need to monitor the situation.

I don’t like responsibility, but I didn’t see any other options I liked. I looked back a few times over the following minutes, and was relieved when I looked and he’d moved. He was only about five feet from his previous position, but the clearance looked adequate factoring a margin for error.

Somebody tried to help me once when I looked bad. We all need to watch out for this stuff.