Sunday, April 9, 2017

Met up with Mike.

I've decided that I am probably headed home soon. By home, I mean Philadelphia and the surrounding area.

I tried to be productive today, which required wifi. I had great difficulty finding an open connection, even with my USB antenna situation. I put some books in some boxes beside the Walmart, but before long it was time to get beer.

I was walking back to my van with a 24oz Clamato. The air was hot, and the cold can broke out in a sweat. I noticed a van I know. Mike was in the parking lot in the other long blue-striped Dodge.

I intended to get one more box ready for shipment, but instead I drank tall beers with Mike. We continued that path to a bar. They had cheap Victory pints and wings.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

4/8/2017

Ten lucky minutes today will result in more profit than two well advertised book sales yesterday. That is normal. It's all part of the job. 

There was a screening at the library for a documentary about Austin's moonlight towers. There were a few open seats, so I planted myself in one. 

Sometimes I feel lonely. I bring this up, because it happened today.  

Friday, April 7, 2017

A typical day of work.

The book sale in San Antonio looked like ten dirty hands fighting for the broken chips at the bottom of a bag. I have to go to these sales, because there is money to be made. Sometimes it's ugly. But I had to get in there and extract what I could.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Everything I know about San Antonio.

I took my robot pill and worked today. Towards evening, I headed south. With San Antonio in front of me, I looked out of my van to the right. I drove during a magnificent sunset. I don't use "magnificent" lightly. But the light rose to that level today. There were many incredible yellows. The sunset was yellow, yellow, yellow.

I don't know the first fucking thing about San Antonio. The only thing I know is that there is a book sale tomorrow. When I don't know anything, I park at the Walmart. That takes the least planning. They have beer with Clamato, and you don't have to think.

I arrived late and cracked a cold can. I put food on the stove. Lentils and quinoa. I've never seen tortillas so happy. We all make an excellent group.

Sleep was elusive. I would have slept soundly, except for the noise. *BEEP, BEEP* 

"When in the fuck," I wondered "will they ever get that fucking equipment in place?"

Eventually, I had to investigate. It was two o'clock in the morning, and there was construction. A bucket lift had an alarm. The alarm beeped intermittently and often. There was no rhythm, and after an hour or so, the sound began to pierce my bones.

Q: Am I happy to be alive? 
A: Sure I am.

Q: Should you live in a van? 
A: Why not.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Plans and perspectives and chemical change.

Yeah, so I've been up and down. It's not Austin Texas's fault. This place is the shit.

I know I will go home at some point. The only uncertainty is when. I never seem to make it to Oregon. I always drive away from Pennsylvania, but I never quite make it that far.

I've considered remote desert destinations. I'm finding it hard to imagine sitting peacefully while my money source is falling apart. I suppose I got complacent and spoiled. Back in Key West, I was complacent as hell. What has changed? Only the money security? Was it something else? Well, shit. I don't know.

I considered going to a Fairy Gathering. It's almost exactly in line with my route back to Pennsylvania. I was curious to see what that's all about. It sounds wild and like a place to park a van. But whether I'm wanted or would enjoy being there is in doubt. I fit in basically nowhere. Wrong: I fit in almost everywhere, but only a little bit.

Well, fuckit. I don't like this one bit. I'm going to return to Pennsylvania once again with my tail between my legs. Once again, my business is in trouble. At least this time the trouble is not all my fault. I know: I should rephrase this. I can spin this as a success. I have places to go, and a business to fix. It will work. I know it will work, because I've been through this before.

I miss my wife. I don't want my marriage back, but I miss her. She can't help me, and I know why shit got fucked up, but at one point she seemed to understand me. I could use that type of friend.

I've done so much thinking while in Austin. More than usual. Tons of the thinking has been drenched in wine.

My current standing... my situation... my state of mind. This is a reminder that humans have difficulty keeping matters in perspective. So I'm in debt. So is everybody. I have shelter, and when I remember to eat, the food is correct. I am in a beautiful town, and it is getting warm up north. Whose life would I rather have? Nobody's. My life has the most promise. I want to see where it goes.

I have to remind myself that people don't hate me. I feel like I bother everybody. I feel like I am exhausting people, and they are all getting annoyed. I doubt these feelings are real. My brain is fucking with me. Furthermore, if people don't like me, what does that matter? It hardly changes my day. Sure, I want to be loved. I'd love to be universally revered. But I need to focus on what I can control. The correct course of action, I know, is to continue as though nothing is wrong. Pretend and wait. Seasons and feelings change. Chemicals shift in our brains.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Rebuilding.

I'm digging deep for new inventory. You can't kill me this easy. This is important to me. I'm pouring money back into my business. It's one hundred thousand hands of blackjack. I am counting cards and doubling down.

I hope I can work my way up to making anything close to my income before. I'd be happy with half. I'd be happy with a third. The last few paychecks have been grim.

I can pat myself on the back today. I did my robot laser-eye routine. I am programmed well to find books that are worth money. I put my robot-body in search mode. The efforts will take time to pay off. This is my best current move.

I like parking at Walmart. A tall can of the Clamato sort is a reward for a job well done. To mix my routine up further, I got chips and salsa and cheese. I watched a movie I copied at the library. Real or not, life is good.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The prize goes to libraries.

I park in the same spot most of the time. I've been here for five days. Austin continues to be a great place. I'm doing almost exactly whatever I want.

I've been working at the library - using my laptop to try to squeeze life and money out of my business. You need a laptop in my line of work.

My laptop has a DVD drive. I started copying library rental DVDs onto my computer. I like the selection. The movies available are here for some reason. Somebody chooses them based on criteria unknown. Maybe some are classics. Maybe some have famous actors in an early role. Somebody or some people have curated this selection. I assure you I could not do better myself.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Silicone and big ribs.

At some point I need to fix the silicone around certain parts of the roof of my van. There are two spots that leak. They leak a small enough amount that it's practically impossible to tell where the problem is. Water is really good at finding a way through.

It rained hard last night. The leak wasn't so bad. I just had to get up and put a towel under it.

Ian and his dad picked me up in the morning. We went to Lockhart, TX to get barbecue that was weirdly big. This is a good example of somewhere I would not think to be on my own. Left to my devices, I would continue to eat more quinoa. It can be fun to copy off of what other people do. I went along for the ride.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Barton Springs.

Ian showed up from New Orleans. He works on a boat for some number of weeks. It's a tugboat and it moves a barge around Hawaii. Then he flies home and stays there for some weeks. I feel certain that Ian is well grounded in reality. Almost every time we talk, he makes a statement that is absolute truth.

One day last week, that guy in the other blue-stripe Dodge invited me over to Barton Springs. It's close. I should have gone to Barton Springs on one of my first days in Austin. It is a swimming spot with crystal clear water. You can pay $3 to go inside a fenced area, or you can hang out beyond the fence for free. If you go inside the fence, there are also hot showers.

Ian is in town for the next few days. His dad is also here for some reason. We went swimming, and I paid $3.

Friday, March 31, 2017

3/31/17

I can't believe I'm running some kind of business. I take stimulants and tell my body what to do. It isn't bad work but I am a drone. I do this to get money. I use money to get drinks and food.

My business got punched in the dick. Fee changes made over half my shit unprofitable. A few thousand items became dead weight.

Also there's the sexual orientation confusion and I can't pin down reality. Photos change to an oil painting. Paintings become abstract. I can't sell paintings to the IRS. They want lots of money instead.

I'm supposed to be worried about money. I am in a way. In a way I'm a big dumb baby. I can't keep track of what is real. I get panicked about matters which barely exist. I'm typing this more as a compulsion and less because I have anything to share.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

3/30/17

I used actual soap in a shower. I used a machine to clean my clothes.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

3/29/17

It's not my business to talk about, but that guy who was puking and yelling is dead. He was yelling a lot he was going to do it, but he got hit by a car instead. I mostly care how Jen feels about that. She is upset, but she has mixed feelings. She doesn't believe in being dead.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

3/28/17

I bought a beer for Hazel. That's not his real name. I borrowed it from Cannery Row because it fits. He also brought up Steinbeck. He's a sunburned man with a ladies name. That part is correct.

I got him a tall can because Jen didn't have money. I'm using her real name, which is kinda fucked up. She wanted to give something to Hazel 'cause he has a job interview. Let's see... a Bud Ice.

I got one for myself. I drank it at sunset on the pedestrian bridge. Nobody there talks to anyone unless they know them from somewhere else. I am invisible. I've made myself ten feet tall. I smile and I disappear further. I do not exist in the traditional sense.

Monday, March 27, 2017

3/27/17

Guess what. This is not reality. If I didn't say so you wouldn't notice. I am not bad at this game. I can act normal enough. I can seem much more normal than some of us. Sometimes I love this. Sometimes all I do is breathe.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Meeting another blue-striped Dodge.

I was working again beside the Walmart. I can get wifi along the side if I have my USB antenna positioned right. Another van pulled up. Another 90's Dodge - 15 passenger with a blue stripe. He stopped and we talked. He is planning to move into a van. His name is Mike. He is trying to break away from the real world. It works for me. This lifestyle works for some. The van he got is a good start.

I told him where I've been parking. I didn't mean it as an invitation, exactly, but he wanted to drop by after work. We met up around midnight. Mike brought me food from the food truck he is working on as a second job. We talked about aspects of life and vandwelling. I told him what I know.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

3/25/17

Got some work done. Went to Family Day to talk to the people I know in town. Watched an old movie I bought before I box it up and sell it.

Friday, March 24, 2017

3/24/17

You don't always get as much sleep as you want. Sometimes there are lawnmowers. Sometimes it gets loud and stays that way for hours. That's ok. I know the contract I signed. I lay there and I wait.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Too Many Hurricanes

I met some friends in the neighborhood by one of the libraries I go to. One of them is a girl who brings me food if she has extra. She looks out for everyone else. I don't know that she's in a position to initiate change, but the gestures are kind. She is a sweet and caring person. Sometimes she makes sense, and sometimes she knows she doesn't. I am happy when she stops by.

I got back to that area after sunset, and traded wine for food. She doesn't like asking for money, but she usually has a reason to drink. All her friends are always buying each other beer. I've been sharing wine, and usually there's reciprocal food. Or she just gives me food.

The free food from the community center is unparalleled, but I'm not getting up early to go over there myself. I do my camp stove thing. A bottle of wine costs two dollars. The price tags on the food are usually more than eight dollars. Most of it comes from a health food store.

She introduced me to her other friends. They all go by aliases and nicknames. Not a single one of them has a happy background. We sat around behind the Thai place. We ate some of the fancy food. We drank wine and beer and we talked.

One guy was a master of jokes. Sometimes he'd warn you that a joke would be colorful - then he would proceed to tell the joke, and I'd be wondering which part was supposedly offensive. He's old and fat and sunburned. I've only seen him with a great big grin. It seems like decades ago, he was probably smart and normal. He still is, actually, in a way - except now he drinks Hurricanes and sleeps in construction sites. I wonder if his sense of reality has shifted. I've often wondered about my own.

All the guys in this circle drink Hurricane. Most of them start in the morning. Sometimes they steal a bag of them. Sometimes they pay with sweaty crumpled cash.

Another guy there has lived in that neighborhood all his life. Compared to this one, nobody else seemed drunk. He was always raising his volume. They were always trying to get him to calm down. He kept threatening to kill himself. He sat down and puked, and only clear liquid came out. They tried to get him to eat. He demanded another beer. He threw money at them. He is not allowed in the store. My closest friend in the group, the girl, was in charge of making decisions. I went and got corn chips and the small can of bean dip. She was hoping he would at least eat that. Simply put, he's a mess.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Every Day.

GENERAL DISCONTENT and RAMBLING

I took an illegal Modafinil pill this morning. It's illegal because in amerika you aren't supposed to make decisions for yourself. You're supposed to report to bureaucrats who don't know shit about your life. I wish there was a magic button I could push that would punch the responsible party in the face - for anything irksome at any time.

My health insurance is so expensive, and the system is so convoluted, that it is easier and less expensive to get meds sent from halfway around the globe. But I should be happy about this. I kinda feel like... maybe fuck this country. Fuck all this flag-waving hand-on-the-heart bullshit. The best thing about amerika is the geography. I want to get increasingly lost.

IN ANY CASE...

I am still living my life. I might add that I'm doing a fucking excellent job. I am buying books and selling them. I will be low-budget-traveler retired in 13.58 years... assuming I remain precisely on my current trajectory.

I WATCHED THE SUNSET

I watch the sunset on the pedestrian bridge. It was a beautiful one today. After the sun disappeared, it continued to illuminate the clouds from below. I see mostly yellow when that happens. People who see more colors would list a handful as they gush. I know this, but I see yellow. It was absolutely beautiful. Yellow is enough.

SOME BUSKER KID

The kid turned out to be 21. He told me later when I talked to him. He had an electric ukulele. He ran that and a vocal mic through a practice amp for guitar. He played sad and pissed off tunes in a gravely voice. I could hear all the words. His voice had controlled aspects of a scream. It commiserated with you while it pushed you away. The music could break your heart if you let it. You couldn't touch me though. I was on a cloud. I draped my body all over the pavement. I sang along to the one I knew.

The kid had his uke case out and opened. Only a few people paid any attention. Several times he said he didn't want money. He didn't make any that I saw. It was practice. He was there for himself, just like me, and I was glad that our timing lined up.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Vandwelling in Austin Texas.

Me and Austin Texas are becoming friends. I've met mostly everyone who parks in the same place I do. The parking spot is so good I'm getting lazy about moving around. I have a few different spots, but I'm using one of them for days at a time. This is better than traditional housing. It is the best.

According to conventional wisdom - meaning people on internet forums - you're supposed to move your van around constantly. In amerika, you're supposed to look over both shoulders. People on the internet talk as though the arm of the law is infinitely long - as though the hammer of justice will strike repeatedly upon your head. Meanwhile, I'm not convinced. All I see is sun and grass and trees. I keep checking my wrists, but I never see any cuffs.

Move into your van now. Nobody gives a fuck. Nobody can even see you except for other people who live in vans. The police in a city don't care. Certainly not here, they don't. My doors are still as open as my containers. I fucking love it here.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Free stickers for greasy people at Walmart.

I'm getting fuckin' dirty, dude. It's time to step up my game. It's time to send this itchy hair back to hell. It's time to dismantle this layer of grease.

Walmart's hired tow-truck-thug-squad put a big yellow sticker on my window. It was not the kind that is easy to remove. If I didn't have Goo Gone and a razorblade, it might remain affixed forever. The sticker had a checkbox list of a dozen offenses. The final offense simply stated "other" -- that is the box that was checked. According to the sticker, if I did not move, my van would be towed at 9:30am the following day. My interpretation was not to take this as a warning, but rather an invitation to remain for another day. Sadly, I had to decline this offer. I have a better place to stay. I might return next week. Especially if all they do here is give you a yellow sticker. They also sell beer, have toilets, and a Red Box to rent DVDs. Yes, probably, yes. I will be back as soon as I want those services.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

I am that guy as well.

"I'M THAT GUY!"
"I'M THAT GUY!"
.... "I'M THAT GUY!"

I believed him. I believe anybody who makes loud repeated declarations in a library. He was, in fact, that guy. The guy who starts to shout at people, and makes an awkward scene with the security guard.

It's Sunday. Everything is closed except this. One library remains open, and becomes a de facto homeless shelter. That's why I'm here. Toilets and WiFi, baby. A place to fill my jug of water.

I found a pretty piece of cloth on the ground. I examined it. I tied it around my head, because it was roughly the size of a bandanna. What else do you want? I watched the sunset as the temperature cooled. I sat and talked to myself beside the Colorado River.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

PWR BTTM at SXSW

I thought I might see some more bands today. That takes planning. It takes investment. The lines during SXSW are long. You need to get to places in advance.

I showed up early to Plan A. I was not nearly early enough. The line was five blocks long at 9am - an hour before the doors opened. Free food and drinks were an incentive, but how much was there to go around? Did I really feel like waiting forever just to be stuck in a crowd? No.

The next plan was to see the band PWR BTTM and whoever else at that show. My cousin recommended this band. I didn't know what to expect, but I trust her. Never has she suggested a book or some music that I didn't love.

It was a long wait on a hot day. It was an outside show and beer was six bucks. Everybody was drinking gallons of beer. The venue made 999,999,999 dollars.

PWR BTTM took the stage. It's Ben and Liv. Ben cross dresses in a sloppy manner, keeping the beard and adding plenty of paint and glitter. That is a style that works for me. His demeanor and appearance had my attention. He started out on guitar with Liv on drums. I don't know what to say about her. Transgender? Gender queer? I'm not clued into the subtleties or differences, but this is a beautiful person. After a few songs, I was already sold, then she took over the guitar. My goodness. Mi amor. Later, I told my cousin I have a crush on Liv. She told me she felt the same way. Once again, I confirmed: my cousin has excellent taste.

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.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The best way I ever woke up.

I woke up in the van at 6:30am. I was parked by the Joint, where I’ve been parked almost every night. I woke up to the sound of tubas and drums.

Refusing to ignore an invitation, I stood up and thought about clothes. Yes to socks in my shoes, but in the interest of moving quickly, I omitted the shirt. I tossed on a hoodie, and pulled the zipper away from my body to avoid chest hair while putting it on.

The parade included hundreds of people. Everybody appeared to be dressed as some sort of hobo. There was an astonishing amount of body paint and beer. I caught the beginning of the parade as it passed only half a block from my parking spot. I followed for a dozen blocks or so, listening to brass and drums as the sun rose over a parked train. Fuck dude. I wish you could be here. I am here and it is great.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Brass Everywhere! Brass Everywhere!

I’ve been seeing a lot of parades in New Orleans. I’ve been seeking out tubas since my second night here. I’ve been finding tubas and trombones in the wild. Yesterday, we followed the Ninth Ward Marching Band. They are more silly than serious; more funky than tight. We walked along the streets and sidewalks from where they lined up at Bud Rips - which is the name of an excellent bar.

For another night, Lisa and I packed some wine and supplies to descend upon the French Quarter. We witnessed some highly talented busking. We watched as a live brass band tried to knock the windows out of their frames in a bar. We sat on the sidewalk as an old longhaired man blew up balloons and released them with gentle persuasion. We watched as they found their fate. One by one, he inflated the balloons, and released them into the street. Some were picked up, some were stomped on, and some were run over by cars. Nobody took much notice of the source, but to the background of boisterous tuba, it was a beautiful scene to watch.

We saw an unknown brass band marching earlier today. We happened on them simply because we were on bicycles. We followed the procession as it turned on a side street, ducking between two large warehouses. A metal roof spanned between the two buildings, two stories above the street. The abundance of corrugated metal creates an interesting place to play drums and horns. For the second time in as many days, this spot was used for a brass band dance party. The parade broke apart, and everybody in attendance cheered and danced to the beat. One of the tubas spun around in circles, while trombone slides punched the air in cheerful abandon.

For the second time in two days, I was moved nearly to tears. I felt pure happiness as brass bounced off metal. I feel deeply satisfied and lucky to be here. I am experiencing simple and spiritual moments. This place and this time are both weird and fantastic.

Moments like these make me feel more happy than confused to be alive.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

More friends arrive; reservations at Hotel Impreza.

I have a couple friends from Philly who just got here. They are sleeping in a Subaru Impreza. They got to town yesterday, making their way up from Florida, so we made dinner plans at the place where I park. We cooked rice and chicken and drank plenty of wine. For dessert they both took some acid. Instead of getting wacky and wandering to the French Quarter, I decided to take no action. Lisa and I sat around a little bit longer, and decided on a calmer and easier night.

I want to move to this parking spot. I have parked in the same place for most of my time here. Aside from the train, it is perfect. I feel comfortable having the doors open to cook at any time of day or night. I can listen to music, or read a book, and I am close to my friends and all needed services. I am tucked in a corner without much traffic. There is shade if I want it, and sun if I don't. I could park here and not move for weeks at a time. Boom. I think I found it.

Friday, February 24, 2017

My corpse is covered in glitter.

Lisa drove down from Georgia to visit. When she arrived, she found me dead in my van. She’s going to stay with me and look at what Mardi Gras is. Maybe she can explain it to me if she figures it out.

The happenings recently have me in a battered condition. I slept all day with the doors wide open; with the weight of the world on my face. I remembered something about gin and a fat joint last night. I woke up covered in glitter. I decided to take a day off from drinking. I decided to convalesce.

We joined Ian and Sarah and some of their friends across town to watch a parade. I enjoyed the atmosphere without all the drinking, so I could try again another night.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Big Dick's is some insanity shit.

Time to dress up like a moron again. I went to the wildest party I’ve seen. The party was called “Big Dick's House of Big Boobs." Why not? It was a raging party with DIY stripping by whoever signed up to give it a whirl. The air inside the warehouse was basically made out of sweat. Those in attendance were robots and murderers. For the most part, that worked out fine.

I horsed around and drank and smoked joints. Around 5am it was time to go home. Half of my group could not remember how to stand or speak English by this time. I managed to get all the way back to the van, and get both doors almost all the way closed.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Getting hits off a box of wine as part of a parade.

The parade scene here is serious about goofing off. Probably there are other people writing who can do a better job of describing that. There are also other people who take pictures, which are a sorry attempt at capturing the true essence.

We arrived at the parade just in time for someone to pour box wine into my mouth. I was amused and pleased at this development, because trying to navigate over here caused me a little bit of stress. My satisfaction increased when I got a hit off the next box - and now I recognized what was happening here. A long procession, as part of this parade, carried boxes and bags of wine. I got another hit of wine from a girl covered in gold paint, and then she just handed me the bag.

I didn't need a personal space bag full of wine, because I brought two bottles of my own. Eventually, to decrease the weight of my backpack, I opened my bottles and poured wine into cups and hung out.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Trying to steer my ship with a little bit of help from India.

I got a delivery from India. I have trouble getting Adderall while traveling. The trouble is that it is incredibly difficult or impossible for several reasons I will not bother to explain at this moment. Bureaucracy. What is slightly easier is buying bulk meds from India, so I got a six-month supply of Modafinil. It helps with the ADHD motivational problems. It alleviates an enormous amount of struggle in my life. My brain gets gridlocked on a daily basis, and the logjam leads to inaction. Adderall or Modafinil clear out the mess, and I am left with a clear path toward action.

Getting these pills was not easy. It is a convoluted process that took over two months. Due to the nature of the process, I will not share the details, but suffice it to say it was rough. I felt pure relief to finally get the package. This is a tool. This helps me live my life. Taking these pills, I feel, was absolutely instrumental in building a tiny house and starting a business. Without them, good luck... Without them I feel serious anxiety when I need to get anything done. I don't open mail, take showers, pay bills, or eat lunch.

Fuck the fucking government, and fuck whatever this heathcare shit is. Fuck all this irksome nonsensical shit. I am paying $355 per month for coverage that I can’t use for the most important need in my life. It is cheaper and easier to buy pills from India. And I am at risk because that is illegal. Well fuck everybody, fuck everything, I will continue to do my best to live my basic little life.

Yes, this is how I really feel: Rules and authority fuck off.

Monday, February 20, 2017

I continue to be in love with Big Freedia.

I’m not used to attending big parties every day, and I have trouble describing them properly with my words. I went to a costume party dressed like an idiot wearing a cheap mask with a beak. Drinking factored heavily into the evening, as debauchery surrounded and ensued. Big Freedia headlined the event, and I had no trouble yelling “ASS EVERYWHERE” at the appropriate points with the crowd.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ooooooh, I wanna dance with somebody!

The parties are starting in earnest now. The Chewbacchus parade went directly in front of Ian’s house. The scene was almost indescribably silly. In a nutshell, it is a long procession of partying nerds. Star Wars and other pop culture references feature heavily into the costumes and floats. There is heavy drinking everywhere. The party is absolutely real and long.

I saw that I was underdressed for the occasion. I went back to the van and returned quickly, wearing the dumbest clothing I own. I have golden fish scale tights. I have a bicycle jersey that makes me look like I have an IQ of two. I have a bandanna with chili peppers, so I gave it a shot.

“There you go” said Ian; nodding.
“Correct in spirit” I thought.

The parade featured many more memorable moments than that rolling PA system blasting old Whitney Houston. But the song was sticky, and mostly all I remember.

She wants to dance with somebody. She wants to feel the heat with somebody. Then she gets too specific: “with somebody who loooooves me!”

Just go out and have a good time, Whitney. Why do you need to move so fast? Love takes time to develop. Go out and have fun, and give those feelings some time to develop.

Flash back to 1989. I heard that tape thousands of times in my dad's car. That song will be in my head for days.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Homeless resources at the French Market.

Hundreds or thousands of quasi and real homeless people use services in the French Quarter every day. I rode my bicycle there to check out the resources. In the future, I will remain farther afield.

The toilets in the French Market look like they were donated by a prison. The drinking fountains are reluctant or not working at all. It took about ten minutes to fill a jug full of water.

Here's what I do: I let the water trickle into a smaller water bottle, then I transfer it to a bigger one. The process is tedious, but I am not busy. Anything to save a buck.

Friday, February 17, 2017

How to not be stealth at all in a van.

Me and Ian were up late last night. My parking spot by the Joint has been better than I thought. A nearby train makes considerable clamor, but I have no space to complain. The open grassy square adds to privacy when you want to have the side doors open.

We stayed up late taking turns playing tracks through the stereo in the van. I had the doors wide open while I cooked a small dinner and smoked a little bud. We wandered around to get a few more beers, and when I woke up it was clear that I’d had enough.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Riding bicycles in NOLA.

I spent the daytime hours at City Park. I kept the doors open wide, and pulled in wifi from my USB antenna. When the sun began to lower, I set out to get drinks.

I parked the van back by the barbecue joint, and switched to two wheels again. I met up with Ian at his house nearby. We rode from Ian’s through the French Quarter. We navigated through that grid, and cut inbetween and past the buildings uptown.

The streets are battered in New Orleans. Some of the potholes could swallow you whole. There are dangerous sections in severe disrepair, and the permanent solution seems to be an old orange cone. Some of the major roads are in better shape, and on these I like to go fast. Ian hasn’t ridden bicycles for as many miles as me, but we are slowly increasing the pace. I’m giving some hints about how I interpret and navigate traffic. I am not the safest human ever, but I can advise about how to avoid doors. I can explain why cutting up the center of two lanes is safer because nobody will pull a surprise hook in front of you. We are having a great time riding together.

We got crawfish and beers at a brewery. What else could I hope for in life?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Pretending to have a job.

The rain from last night continued today. The weather was perfect for purchasing books. I located potential sources and made the rounds. The work was not strenuous, and I was met with success.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Chasing Tubas and Drums.

I found a parking spot by a barbecue joint. There is an open grassy square, and the sleeping prospects appear positive. There are countless people in this city living in vans and similar. I feel safe from official harassment. I feel certain that the city of New Orleans has better fish to fry. Satisfied and comfortable in my sleeping location, I put down the curtains and opened my laptop.

Twenty minutes later, I heard an absolute tuba. I heard drums and accompanying brass. I assumed it was a practice, so I stood up slowly, and put my shoes on to investigate. I took a few too many minutes to prepare my approach, and when I exited the vehicle the ruckus was almost inaudible.

I walked in the direction of receding sound, and it dawned on me that the beats were on the move. The sound was exciting and had a confident swagger, so I doubled my initial pace. The band was much further along than anticipated, so I took to the middle of the street and jogged for many blocks.

I didn’t know anything except how zoom in on sound. Later, I would learn that this was a second line brass band. They were hired to march in a procession after a wedding. I didn’t know what I was watching or following, but I felt the tuba and the bass drum in my chest. There were three trombones and one trumpet. The ratio was correct.

I caught up to the band one block from a bar. As brass and drums poured in through all entrances, the music did not pause. They lit up the bar with sound. I stood on the opposite sidewalk as all conversations were interrupted. The band had a more important message. I stood opposite with rapt attention.

After that song, those involved ordered drinks. I walked back to the van. I decided to return to the street in search of more tubas and drums. I lowered my bicycle from the rack, and pointed it toward the French Quarter to see who was playing on what.

I cruised down Royal in the same direction, and found the same brass band preparing for another round. I followed behind for the next hour or so. Cars stopped and waited, residents opened their front doors to watch. Several people, including myself, followed along in the street. The procession arrived at another bar, where everybody entered for more drinks.

Rain began to fall in heavy drops, and I sat happily on the sidewalk protected by a roof. I shrugged off the instinct to order a beer, because I was comfortably topped off with music and wine.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Arriving in New Orleans.

I arrived in New Orleans. I have a couple of friends here who rent a house. I stayed in the guest room last time I was here. This time I will be happier to stay in my van.

Resources are a blessing. I trimmed off my beard and the hair that's not part of a sloppy mohawk. I took a shower with hot water to wash off the drive.

I need to find parking and resources in the wild - bathrooms and wifi and a source of water to fill my jugs. It’s helpful to stay put for periods of time. You can master the resources and use them again when you return.

My most valuable resource today is Ian. I’ve known him since he was a freshman in high school. I was a senior and we both played percussion. We were in band and orchestra together. Today we got beer and rode bicycles to the park. We sat on a bench swing and drank beer and some wine.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A beautiful lot in life and on Earth.

I woke up to a gray sky. The sun illuminated the spaces between the thicker portions of cloud. The sky was a light box behind heavy puffs and a matrix of veins.

I opened the side doors and fresh air swept in. Cooler air replaced the air that I’d cooked and breathed in the previous night. I stretched and lowered my battle-worn shoes to the pavement. I took another deep breath of Alabama parking lot air.

The word that came to mind as I walked was “beautiful.” I said it aloud unintentionally, and felt a startled surprise to hear my own voice. This is not a beautiful day, I thought. If anything, there is a touch of gloom. “Beautiful,” I thought again. It wasn’t the clouds or the Walmart parking lot. It was my heart and my state of mind.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Leaving Georgia for a new chapter.

I left the state of Georgia. It was time to go. I’m not going to labor over a detailed account. It was a happy pause in a new setting. It was nice to hold hands before the credits rolled.

Now I am in the state of Alabama. I am in the great state of feeling happily alone. More specifically, I am in a Walmart parking lot. The pavement is mostly level, but the spot which I’ve chosen has a lean. I’m keeping it.

More wine and more cooking. I eat my quinoa-plus-one: pulses or legumes.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Instant coffee is real.

What about coffee? People overthink that. The correct choice, if you want to go nuts, would be to drink tea instead. That’s not where I’m at.

I drink instant coffee. I started drinking instant coffee while traveling by bicycle. In the van I started by using a French press. I don’t have time for that anymore. More accurately, I do not have a sink.

I enjoy the ritual of morning coffee. I do not enjoy cleaning the pot. I had the system down after many days of practice. My system now is easier still. I heat some water, add a scoop or two of Nescafe or Taster’s Choice and I’m done. No sugar, no cream. Who needs it? Not this man. Not the one typing now - the one who pauses to indicate himself proudly with both thumbs.

There are nutritional differences between freshly roasted and ground beans and instant coffee which is freeze dried. I searched the internet to learn about that, and was met with contradictory bullshit and hullabaloo. The bottom line is this: I have an old plastic mug and it works. Life is easy. Don’t make it hard.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

I eat this all the time.

Red lentils and red quinoa. That’s today’s combo. I ignore recommended cooking times. I ignore recommended water amounts. I sprinkle quinoa and lentils in the bottom of a plastic mug. I aim for an approximate finger's width, then I transfer it to my little pot. I add an amount of water that looks like roughly twice as much. Then I pour in some oil. I boil then simmer until there isn't much steam. I add another splash of oil when it's done. I add seasoned salt, because it's the only spice I have.

I eat quinoa and lentils on a small tortilla. I smear it on with a spoon. I add hot sauce to nearly everything I eat. I enjoy the ritual; I enjoy the food. I am powerful. I don’t know much about cooking, but I live to tell this tale.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Angry chickens and their dirt cheap eggs.

It’s been brought to my attention that chickens aren’t happy. Not most of them. I knew this, but I kept buying those eggs anyway. I keep buying their eggs. I ignore their suffering out of convenience.

Thich Nhat Hahn says the factory farm chickens are angry. When you eat their eggs, you are consuming that anger. I’ve read about forty five seconds of his book "Anger," and this was not the news I wanted to hear. But I know that he’s correct.


Thich Nhat Hahn uses the word “very” with casual abandon, but I trust him completely as a human. I am supposed to buy the happy eggs. I am better off buying eggs laid by chickens who are free to roam around. I am supposed to spend more and eat more slowly.

I have a lot of learning to do. I have changes to make. I have better eggs to buy when I begin to bother to start caring about my relationship with chickens.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The best grocery store on the planet. (feat. $2.89 wine.)

I'm calling out Aldi by name. I thought it was a discount overstock grocery store. It is not. They have their own brands of excellent actual food. The prices are correct as hell. I had to take Lisa's word for it. This is where she stocks up on supplies. I hadn't been to an Aldi in more than ten years. Their game has evolved considerably.

I bought quinoa of several sorts, and an assortment of beans and rice. I got staples like tortillas, olive oil, and avocados. And let me tell you about the wine: I bought twelve bottles of Aldi's house brand wine for $2.89 each. The brand name is "Winking Owl." I tried out one first, and I was impressed. I was impressed with the price, but as a bonus it actually tastes good too. It goes for ten cents less than Walmart's budget offering, and is more enjoyable to look at and drink. You know what that means: time to load up and get loaded. Time to buy in quantity and toast to success.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Meeting on the Appalachian Trail.

We were all headed north. Jonas and I arrived at the Nantahala Outdoor Center on October 17th. This is an oasis on the Appalachian Trail. Lisa arrived hours later, and was invited by Justin to dine with our group. Justin and Mike were two hikers we'd already met. The entire lot of us took up a table until late.

I noticed immediately that Lisa is specifically extra cool. As we talked, our facts and opinions meshed well. Her attitude and interests were exactly correct. Anybody hiking the entire trail alone is somewhat of an automatic badass. It takes five or six months for most people, which is a lot of time in the woods. I didn't know it at the time, but she made an alcohol stove from a soda can, which has been part of her equipment for more than ten years. It's a small detail, but a badass one. Yes, she is definitely cool.

I let her borrow my shower card. All of us dudes paid to stay in a bunkhouse. Lisa was sleeping down by the river for free. Any traveler can usually use a shower. So I used my card to let her in.

We hung out on the porch of the bunkhouse for a couple hours. We talked and became friends. I told Lisa about my book business and gave her my phone number. I told her to text me when she got home if she was really interested - and I'd explain how to get started with doing the job I hired myself for.

She did text; we did talk. It was helpful to me because I was lonely at the time. I wanted to talk to friends, and it was great to have a new one to type at.

Now we met again in person. We are working on business a little bit, but leaving plenty of time to have fun.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sleeping inside for awhile.

My van is parked in the driveway. Me and Lisa are hanging out in a big empty house. The house is for sale, but it hasn't sold yet. We are making it less dormant for the next week or so. We are cooking food there, and I brought in a truckload of wine.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

It's Saturday. How about disc golf?

Disc golf is a sport I can handle. Throwing some discs at a circle of chains can be fun - especially when you ignore the scoring and par. I'm bad at disc golf. Darn bad, in fact. None of this decreased my enjoyment of hanging out on the course.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Visiting new friends in Georgia.

I like typing. If you text me, I'll chat. Writing is my preferred medium. I miss chatrooms. I miss Instant Messenger, and when people used to communicate on that.

I guess now there's Facebook chat. I've learned what that's all about. I've been talking to Lisa using Facebook chat, and that seems to work well. Now I'm visiting in person. That's what you do when you make new friends.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A much better reception.

"We don't know you, bro..."

This guy fucking hated me. I showed up in his driveway after 11pm, and rang his doorbell because I thought it was the correct house.

"There's nobody named Chris here dude." What a moron this guy was turning out to be.

"No." I corrected him. "My name is Chris." I spoke slowly, and indicated myself as I explained. "Clearly I have the wrong address. Give me one second and I will amend this situation."

This guy was dumb as a rock. If my intent was to create havoc, why would I park in the driveway and knock? This idiot would be very suspicious of a wrong number. I tried to ignore his stupid dumbfounded face as I rechecked the address.

He did not like my van or the way I looked. He didn't like how I spoke or sounded. I feel absolutely certain of that. I have no idea what he thought I was trying to pull. He stood at his front door glaring at me as I stepped back to the van and looked at my phone.

Two houses over. That's where I was supposed to be. Not in this fuckface's tiny driveway. Not in this man's dumbass stare.

I pulled in two houses over two seconds later. I arrived to a much warmer reception over there.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Sebring Florida

I heard a lot of talk about Sebring, Florida. Old Florida. The highlands. I decided to take a look.

I pointed my house and my van up the center of the state. My happiness remained at a rolling boil.

Sebring Florida looks like a homogenized vestige of earlier times. The word for Sebring is "quaint." The town is arranged in a circular pattern with a park at the center. I inserted myself in the park, and laid upside down and sideways all over every bench. I felt like a distracted extra in that movie The Truman Show. I crossed my legs over the back of a pristine bench and yammered and joked on my phone. I stretched and shifted and let the sun warm my skin.

I could exist like this indefinitely. I could almost ask time to slow down. But when the moment comes, I know how to float. I cooked my three eggs and did that. I listened to music while I drove, and arrived in the suburbs of Atlanta late.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Leaving Key West for the year.

My plan was to sleep at my usual spot and cruise away from the island in the morning. The island has been heaven this year. I know the future happens at the rate of time passing, but I have felt enclosed in a safe and comfortable bubble for a month. I feel stronger by far than when I arrived. I am afraid to break the spell. I feel compelled to stand up and march forward. I will burst the bubble and attempt to continue toward the unknown with grace and a semblance of aplomb.

I didn't like my goodbyes. I skipped a couple people, and didn't issue the correct number of hugs. I was glad to get an early phone call from Eddie. He called before I had a chance to disappear.

I returned one last time to the Gypsy Village. One last time for this year. I spoke to the people I wanted to see. I had a final coffee and breakfast. I wished my friends goodbye. We exchanged some information. I received the hugs I was looking for. Between last night and today's well wishes, I feel ready to move on.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Planning to leave the island.

I'm leaving Key West. I'm leaving before I'm completely mentally ready. I've been here for a month, and I have new locations and ideas to explore. I am headed to the suburbs south of Atlanta to meet up with a girl I've been texting with. Then I'm going to New Orleans to see what music sounds like.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Super Frugal Food Plan to be Cheap in Key West

My goal for Key West has been to thrive and improve. I am happy, and that is what matters. That is my number one priority for life. I'm making changes that I believe will help me succeed in the most direct and appropriate ways for myself. I don't like spending money, and I don't want to eat junk. It's difficult to explain or even understand why I was previously doing so much of both.

I wake up most days, and head to the grocery store. This also my bathroom - I go first thing while still waking up. For bonus points, I bring wet wipes in my pocket, because the toilet paper is narrow and harsh. After this, I focus on acquiring staples. I do not have refrigeration, so I shop on most days, and log every purchase on my phone using a spreadsheet.

North to South through Winn Dixie:

What I buy first is eggs if I'm out. I eat three every day, so I buy six or twelve, depending on whether they are eighty cents or more than a dollar - they fluctuate. Eggs do not need to stay cold.

On some days I get a yogurt. I choose Fage Greek plain, because every other option seems to have a percentage or horsebones or horseshit. I bought flax seeds and rolled oats early in the month - those items last and last.

Continuing along the aisles, I get beans if I need them. Seventy cents per can is when I stock up. I get pintos, chickpeas, and sometimes chili beans. I'm on my second bag of dry red lentils. I ran out of quinoa, so now I get rice. I get it for seventy cents per bag of the store brand stuff which cooks in twenty-five minutes. I get corn tortillas in packs of eighteen. That costs a dollar and nineteen cents. These are the items I eat at night.

All of the aisles after this are packed full of bullshit. Unless I need oil or hot sauce, I proceed to the wine. You can get three bottles for ten dollars. Those are the bottles I choose. I switched from white to red for antioxidants and less acidity. But to be self aware, I'm just poisoning myself on cheap booze here - but at least I wait until night.

Next, I move to the produce. My favorite is avocado. I get one for a dollar, or two when they hit sixty cents. I might get a navel orange for a dollar. I've gotten a couple cubes of sprouts since getting here, which has always cost an even two bucks. I buy hummus for the sprouts, and stuff both in a pita. That's two-fifty and one-sixty-nine respectively.

My Parking Spot Near the White Street Pier:

Almost every day, I cook three eggs. I use oil before and after. It makes cleaning easy and adds a measure of heft. Satisfaction lasts at least several hours.

Sometimes I opt for oats and flax seeds on yogurt. I used to use the oats dry, but now I cook them a tiny amount. They mix better, taste better, digest better this way. It takes about one minute to soften them up. I put the oats in a bowl, heap on some flax seeds, and dump yogurt on with a spoon. Portions do not matter. For the next many hours, I feel full.

After one of these breakfasts, I'm on an even keel for any needed number of hours. When I need something more, I eat an avocado or some almonds. Peeling an orange goes well with sunset. After sunset, I most typically will move my van.

A Night at Home, or a Little Adventure:

I re-park at my spot near the center of the island. I open a bottle of wine with a multi-tool corkscrew. I sip a third of it while I cook rice. I add beans toward the end, or lentils instead. I turn off the stove a minute or two before it's done. I pour in more oil to make it more delicious, and also for calories and clean-burning fat. I have one shaker of seasoning that is a mixture of spices, and I use this on literally everything.

On occasion after parking, I will switch to a bicycle, and pedal downtown to happy hour. I get a margarita for three-fifty then switch to beers, and have as many at two bucks as I want. I order wings out of habit, which has proven to be a mistake. Every time I go, they are a little bit worse. Last time they rattled around on the plate. Especially at the cost of five-ninety-five, I begin missing my rice and lentils.

Some nights I get other invitations. I've had stone crab and fish and platters and soup. I consider these a special bonus. I am happy eating simple and cheap. This has been a month where I try to learn how. I have improvements and refinements planned for the future. I am completely satisfied at present.