Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Smoking Popes are worth a damn

The Smoking Popes are one of my girlfriend's favorite bands for some reason. When I found out they were playing at the Northstar Bar in Philly - and I could get tickets - I knew I had something. I tossed my credit card numbers onto the internet, and the tickets were at will-call.

We arrived an hour before midnight, and I secured a spot for us in the front. The turnout was not huge, so staking out a spot proved unnecessary. We were up front, and we took the set list when they were finished with it. She thanked me several times, and I felt great for finally getting someone a present that was worth a damn.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Diner Breakfast, living life...

We had breakfast at the Creekside Diner in Kennett. Two weeks from now, I will rate this diner a 4-5 out of 10. I spent all of two days with Kristin, and it felt like time well spent.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Calm and unresolved.

I don't know the future. Nothing was resolved, yet somehow I am calmed.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Reading, eating wings, vacationing...

The book "Sweet Thursday" makes me romanticize drinking and being possession-less. I stay quiet and drift along. We got all-you-can-eat wings last night, and I tried to put the place out of business.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown(e).

We're in Williamsburg Virgina as a family. My folks got a nice timeshare rental with a switch-on fireplace. There are two bathrooms and two bedrooms. I happily take the couch.

Yorktown; Jamestown(e). At some point, they dropped the 'e.' Such things make me curious. Since when was "salad" ever spelled with a 't?' That's how it appeared on the menu in old(e) Williamsburg(e?). Maybe that was a put-on.

The day was full of gift shop(pe)s and low-budget educational films at various visitors centers.

Crochet. I'm whipping together items which include a can koozy and another top-tube pad for a bicycle. I have plenty of time for doing that and reading books.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Onward! A family vacation.

Let me make these updates brief, because the sweet parts are recorded in my notebook where sticky melted chocolate can adorn the margins. I woke up in a little bed with a person beside me, which I'm really quite fond of. I'm fond of everything involved.

It was the morning after Christmas in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. It was a lovely morning on which I rose early to drink coffee and prepare for the road. My family - the original nuclear four - milled about briefly in preparation. We did this. We put stuff in the back of a minivan.

We got into the minivan, and set our course for Williamsburg, Virginia. A family vacation had just begun. We did stuff like stop for coffee. "How To Train Your Dragon" is a movie that we watched on the flip down DVD player. That's who we are, and that's how we do it. Refreshments were at hand in the back.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Practical gifts and a successful Christmas.

Christmas morning. I ate from the counter-top smorgasbord and scrambled together a last-minute gift presentation. We exchanged gifts, and it was nice and great. All of the gifts I received were practical, and everything fit inside a shoebox except for the Dremel and the shoes themselves. Stuff that fits my life or gets eaten. Ideal.

Oh, she sends me txt messages, and oh how I smile. It keeps getting better, and my Christmas gift was a painting. Not just any painting, but a painting of me, and oh how grand it is! I'm vain, and this version of me is pleasing indeed. And I'm riding a big tricycle. She got it just right.

I should have made the scarf 46 inches longer.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Loaded, Poised and Ready.

I worked. After today, the shop is closed until January. Christmas is tomorrow.

I had my van loaded, poised and ready. I set out for Kennett after work. Kristin visited me at my folks' and I gave her a long yellow scarf as we sat next to the remote-controlled fire with fake logs.

Friday, December 23, 2011

How long to make your scarf.

We had black bean soup and we all talked. The soup needed salt. And more beans, or so she said. I was happy to be there, I felt like I should be there, and I talked a whole lot. I was happy and comfortable, so I went into yammer-mode right there at the kitchen table. I felt great.

I don't know enough about crochet to make anything shaped like a heart, but fringes are easy. I spent many hours crocheting a scarf for Kristin. I decided on a length: Long enough to show her I love her, and I'm not excessively lazy. That's exactly 46 inches, not including fringes.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rearranged plans land me in Newark.

Cancelled dinner plans were really only an unexpected rearrangement. I'm flexible! I ended up at the last table. Some tables were pushed together at the Deer Park in Newark, and I didn't know anybody, including myself. They'll serve a guy a soda, but they'll pour it in a plastic cup. It's a circus with a straw, and I don't want any beer, but I'd love to throw one on the ground. The girl at the opposite corner is drinking a coffee, but I doubt she's thinking about the ceramic mug. So I don't talk much, but I'd like a goddamned pint glass, hide-me.

Rainbows and rainbows, but not too many rainbows! And I manage to talk enough to say when I feel strongly - maybe raise my voice a little and curse a little joke from my throat.

Time and complacency bred a calm indifference which gave way to a subtle near-enjoyment. It just takes some time. A change of venue to Homegrown didn't hurt either, for the love of crap. I smoked pot and soaked up some compliments as rain hit the windshield. Back to Philadelphia. I'm alive and satisfied, but I can't live up to the hype, and I'm not sure if I'm actually talking right now.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pizza, Popes, general safety.

It's my mother's birthday, and I remembered to txt her and use copious exclamation points and "xo's"

Kristin arranged for a guy to bring pizza to the front door. We sat around eating pizza and being generally safe enough. I scored tickets for a Smoking Popes show on New Years, and that should get me some points since that's something like her favorite band.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A persistent mist remained.

My parents visited the city. I worked. We had dinner at a neighborhood restaurant, Rembrandt's, and it was nice.

It rained all day, and a persistent mist remained when I was dropped off at my bicycle.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas shopping and public restrooms

Kristin helped me with Christmas shopping. I'm terrible at it. I have some issues with Christmas shopping which when examined I can recognize as being related to the obsessive compulsive tendencies that I would like to continue to dismantle and rid myself of. It's like pooping in a public restroom. Sometimes you just have to deal with it, and you'll be much happier when you do. I made progress, and I think next year will be easier.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Workin' on the Hoopty.

After work today, it was time. I got to work on the Hoopty. There were several tasks to attack, and as I rode away, I was more than pleased with the outcome.

1) I removed the vestigial shifter mounts from the brake levers. My cheap old Shimano Altus brake levers have nicer quality barrel adjusters than you see on any but the most expensive levers today. That's the main reason I like them. Also, they were free. They had a circular area next to the clamp which used to be where a trigger shifter was mounted. I had no interest in those stupid old shifters, so I detached and disposed of them, just leaving the good part. Today, I used a hacksaw to remove the extra material. Then I filed down the rough marks and colored it in black with a Sharpie to match the rest of the lever. Professional stuff, here.

2) I removed the Chris King headset and put the Tange one back in. It's a funny situation when a Tange headset that I got for $11 can outperform a Chris King. The Tange spins like a dream, and all the Chris King could do was complain that my hi-tensile Chinese headtube wasn't reamed and faced to a precise enough tolerance. Touché, Mr. King.

3) I removed my barend shifter setup - Suntour downtube shifters mounted to triathlon adapter pods - and installed some inexpensive Falcon friction thumb shifters. By inexpensive, I mean that they are literally the cheapest shifters you can buy. Any cheaper, and they're free. Retail cost is $12 per pair - including cables and housing. My cost: $5.47. These shifters work great, and nobody ever needs anything nicer. Get whatever you want, of course, but it blows my mind how a person can literally spend hundreds of dollars on fancy shifters trying to chase down something that works better. In this case, simpler and cheaper IS better. I concede that racers need - or at least feel entitled to - expensive equipment. They can keep it. Falcon shifters are a well kept secret. Cheap; weigh nothing; always work. And they're so simple, a crosseyed moose could change out a cable with one hoof.

4) Ran new cables and replaced beat-up housing.

Everything works great. Aside from being a heavy bastard to carry up a flight of steps, I still have the best bicycle ever. It gives me great joy to show respect to this humble machine.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Chillin' with Dave.

I worked today, and stayed at the shop after we closed. I thought today would be a good day to straighten out some lingering bicycle issues. It didn't take. I wasn't in the mood to get started.

I went home and my buddy came over to sit around and not do much for awhile. I don't confide as much in the internet as I used to. I've been opting to spill my heart and brain into notebooks instead of computer screens. I can talk to Dave about that stuff too.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Went to bars; didn't drink.

Went to bars; didn't drink. Nielle was a guest bartender at a place on Passyunk. Shelly took me and Stacy over there in a car. Hot pizza and soda for me, please! I'm a child and my mouth isn't burnt!

Mike is the first person you want to see. When you start scribbling together a list, he's usually right up there at the top. If you're using lined paper, there's a good chance his name is up in the margin. Mike was having a birthday thing at the bar Prohibition, so Shelly pointed her car at that place next.

I sat around and knocked knees with a good turnout of alcohol consumers. I drank water, played with straws and jawed around some with my amigos. Time goes, and so did we. I got back home a bit after midnight an opted for a pillow instead of the smoke I'd been thinking about.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sound the alarms.

I got some Wawa shirts at the Salvation Army in West Chester. Good finds. Appropriately, my mom got us some hoagies later. Wawa "classic" size hoagies are on sale. Sound the alarms. All of them.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Yarn supplies

More yarn. Yeah, I got some more yarn. And a size 'G' crochet hook. I'm not learning new techniques very quickly, but I have a growing stockpile of cheap yearn. It's easier to buy yarn than to use it for anything.

Koozies. I can make some of those. I can make more bicycle tubing decorations. I can make a scarf. That's about all until I buckle down and get fancier and faster.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Happy Hunting

I leave for Kennett around 4pm. I listen to This American Life followed by the Sleigh Bells album I've been loving. My life is good right now. I have a bounce in my step, and I don't feel the nagging notion that I'm alone or stagnant or killing myself slowly. 

I find myself wanting to plan another bicycle trip. I'd like to get out again for awhile. My mind drifts to Nemaska and how I never got all the way there.

I have the perfect bicycle. It's a blessing and a curse. It's great to reach the pinnacle, but it doesn't leave me with any satisfying voids to fill. Having an imperfect bicycle allows for constant tweaking, perpetual upgrades and an unending outward flow of cash. I miss that. Some people make it their life's work to chase the perfect setup, but I just rolled over and woke up next to it. 

I might not need anything. I logically can't make myself believe that there is a single bicycle component that will make me happier or make my bicycle run better. None of this makes me stop looking. I look at bicycle parts and daydream for hours. I don't need any of it, but I need to look at all of it. Technically, I'd like a new rear wheel. The one I'm using is a cheap loaner from the shop. The search begins. I check eBay for whole wheels, hubs, rims - all imaginable varieties and combinations. Then I start looking at everything from stems to bottom brackets. Don't need any of it. Then I re-check to make sure the price of a full custom titanium frame hasn't dropped below the fifty bucks or so I could afford right now. Nope: still in the thousands. I'll resume the hunt another time. In a way, it actually never ends.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The model for an easy life:

I nap a lot of the day. I crochet some, and Kristin returns to my Philly apartment after working. I make tacos and espresso.

In the morning we take the trike out to get coffee. Then she stands on the back again as I take us to the Second Mile thrift shop to scope out t-shirts and knick-knacks.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


None of this bothers me much.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mac n' Cheese goes up.

Saturday night found me inside my home. Me time. I was happy to get mac n' cheese at the bodega. Shells and cheese - not the stuff with powdercheese. What do I look like here? I got the last box of the $2.89 stuff with the Spanish translations. It looks like they're switching to some $3.79 business. Tough times.

Bacteria, viruses - you name it. The sky is falling, and little pieces of it are coming through my telephone speaker and my computer display. I remain astonishingly stoic as I look to the palms of my hands for advice.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cafe Bustelo at home.

As my watch beeps, I'm pulling a brick of Cafe Bustelo out of my backpack. I'm sitting in my Philadelphia bedroom's golden easy chair, and I'm happy to be home. These are easy times.

I have an open brick of Cafe Bustelo spilling into a large ziplock bag. The yellow brick of espresso is inexpensive and Cuban as fuck. I have a one-shot espresso bubbler, and I am the king. I can make little espressos on my camp stove wherever I go. Boom.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Riding nine bicycles to a Flyers game.

The bicycle shop employees and investors were all invited to a Flyers game. Free tickets were passed out to those who chose to attend. A group of us met at the bicycle shop and ate hot dogs and grilled squash. People who weren't me had a bit to drink too. Nine of us crowded to the sidewalk on our bicycles and set off in the form of a big crew.

The bicycles had personality. Nine unique bicycles were adapted to the needs of their riders. All of the bicycles were smart and capable. There was nothing stupid or fancy. It was fun to look at, and it was fun to ride along. Riding in a tight group of people who know how to navigate traffic was almost as fun as the Flyers game itself.

It was a great night.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

7:21pm? Ruby Tuesday.

My family all went to Ruby Tuesday. That's a typical place where we might end up. That or Perkins. Coupons are involved and the food is alright.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Money, dentists, trikes, vans.

I could kinda use some more money. Surely. I should be selling stuff, since I have stuff to sell. Instead, I don't. I don't work much, and I don't have a lot of money. Just enough. Rent is cheap and expenses are low, so I'm just kinda riding it out until some money grows on trees.

I'll tell you. That dentist work a few days ago didn't include any root canals, but it hurt like a bastard. They cut down my remaining tooth-parts to nubs and glued on a rectangle that's shaped like two teeth, but is actually one piece. It feels pretty stupid, and it's not quite as straight as I'd like it to be. I'm told this will be fixed on the final run.

I sold a bicycle. That's a start. Boom. I put those sleeves on my trike. I trike'd Kristin and myself out to get coffee. Then I drove to Kennett in my van. Boom.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Crochet'd Tricycle Handlebar Sleeves

I enjoyed another night of hanging out in my beautiful Philadelphia lair. I crocheted all the way to the end of the second sleeve for my tricycle's handlebars. Looks boss:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Birthdays, grape leaves, and a beating heart.

Mike is my age now. The big two-niner. I went to a low-key birthday gathering at Barcade. It would have been socially easier if I was drinking booze and/or I enjoyed old school arcade games. But as usual, I was able to ease myself into having a good time.

After 7:21pm, Kristin and I exited toward the west. Fu-Wah deli doesn't have the small can of stuffed grape leaves. Tofu hoagies were fortunately unaffected.

We're in love. I said so; she said so. I typed it already, but now the words came out of my mouth. This is progress.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sitting and making stripes.

My friend and I sat in my room. There's not a lot to do in my room, but I like it here. I'd be up for going out, but without bars or similar tomfoolery, I can't concoct much of a plan. Instead, I sat on my bed and crocheted row after row to make a skinny rectangle. The rectangle has many colorful sections separated by lines of yarn the color of dark coffee. I am making two of these, and they will be sewn together to make sleeves for the tall hi-rise handlebars on my tricycle.

I have the book "Crochet For Dummies." It taught me how to switch yarn colors to make stripes.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Standing about after work.

It was one of those days when there seemed to be enough to talk about. After I locked up the bicycle shop, I stood around talking to my buddy about various subjects. We almost stopped the conversation a few times, but it picked back up. I feel great. Physically and mentally I feel whole. I wish I thought it would last forever, but it doesn't bother me that I know it won't. I'm enjoying the present tense.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dec. 1 '11

Got some colorful yarns at Wal-Mart. Rented a DVD. Sat around in Kennett.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Crochet today, crochet tomorrow...

The internet: I looked at pictures of some public art installations by the crochet artist Olek. I did an image search on "crochet bicycle" and quickly found photos of bicycles that she'd completely covered in crochet and yarn. Cranks, rack-mounted child seat, cable housing... everything.

I like my free time. I like sorta-kinda being into crochet even though I only know one stitch and can still only make rectangles. I have goals. I'd like to get better and faster and start crocheting sleeves and scarves to cover sign posts, trees and bicycle racks. I want to make some colorful knotted yarn and decorate some public spaces. I've seen that stuff around, and it resonates with me. First I need to make a hat. Then maybe some little crochet cheeseburgers.

(search "yarn bombing")

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


7:21pm: Content. In Kennett.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Key West might be pointless.

He sounded full of business when the conversation ought to have been casual. I got a call back from a guy who I would consider a friend. Not a close friend, but a friend with a bicycle shop who could give me a job in Key West. Check back. He might hire someone else, so check back. I'm wondering when this pool of competent mechanics showed up down there. From what I've seen, you're lucky if your mechanic isn't throwing up in the toilet all day.

Why do I want to go to Key West? I don't. I was interested to realize this. The island is there, and it will also be there later. It exists as an important part of my past, and it is an escape hatch that will never be welded shut. Key West is there, and I am here. I can exist in either place, but for once the grass actually seems greener right under my feet. I like my apartment and my girlfriend. I like living in West Philly. In spite of the changing seasons, I'm not sure I feel the necessity or urge to disappear. Maybe I'll visit or take a short vacation. But until my life begins to unravel again, I don't know if I need to jump down the escape hatch.

I got a second root canal today. Interestingly, my roommate got a root canal this morning. We both had front-tooth root canals on the same day, and neither one of us minded much. He crashed a bicycle, too.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Restlessness Resolved.

There's something I'd like to say. Maybe now would be an appropriate time.

I still have the tendency to feel like a small mistake on a slowly-evolving and overly-detailed timeline. I can usually make an excuse about why, but last night I didn't have a good reason. Take a deep breath. Everything is alright. Great, in fact.

Last night. I managed to stand up and get out. I put a key in the ignition, got some money out of the ATM. I headed east. I forgot my iPod, and leaned heavily on Power 99FM. It was medicine. Running my mouth too much and sitting in a cushioned bowl of a chair was medicine. The therapy session included good friends and asinine radio DJs. I had a nice drive, and I felt better.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's Tricycle Day!

I built the trike up yesterday; rode it around today.

I went to work early and turned up some music. I laid out loose components and plastic bags of parts. My workbench was clean and organized, and the trike began to come together. I attached the rear assembly with four large carriage bolts. I slid the rear axle out half way and slid it back through the bearing assemblies with the freewheel in place. I made double-sure I was putting the freewheel onto the adapter the right way, because if you goof that up, you need to destroy it to get it off.

Lastly, I bolted on the wheels and ran the front brake. My beautiful glossy black tricycle was together and ready.

Today, I attached the capacious rear basket. Today, a customer bought a new saddle and left the old one behind. I put the saddle on my trike with a longer seatpost, and I rode the whole thing home.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Don't take advantage of me, pls.

They spoke mostly French. She had a new boyfriend who I hadn't met. I was there because I'm a pushover with a valid driver's license. I didn't think the boyfriend spoke any English, since they weren't using any. I eventually learned he was from Africa somewhere; Ghana perhaps. We talked for a few sentences before his phone rang and he was able to talk to someone else.

Before tonight, it didn't sound bad. The way she explained it a week ago, it seemed like I could put a few bags of clothing in my van and take it a short distance away. It would take maybe an hour. I reflected upon this as I was a few hours deep in manual labor. The U-Haul office had my info on file, and I was driving a big truck to various corners of Philadelphia. The job description had expanded, and I was trying to convince myself to be amused.

Realistically, I didn't mind much. That's why I was there. I'm a guy who wants to help, and I don't mind much. Tonight was an example of how that can be stretched to the limits. I stood in the back of a U-Haul truck on north Broad Street thinking how glad I am that I don't own much and I don't live here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bad Movies, Good Memories, Designated Driving.

Several years ago, when I was in Key West, I adopted the policy of going out to watch every single movie that played on the island. I had a membership at the good theater, and I could sneak into the latest showings at the lame theater. I watched every single thing.

I had a policy. I would stop at Albertson's for a cheap shitty sandwich, but the beer would probably come from somewhere else. I would put on a long sleeve shirt and line the arms with many beers before marching right into the theater like I had somewhere to be. Nobody was ripping tickets for the latest showing - they'd already begun to clean. I saw dozens of free movies, and eventually built the confidence to help small groups of visiting friends get in for free. It became routine. Sneaking in half a case of beer was no longer strange, and spilling huge beers out of my sleeves was not much of a setback. Once an usher entered the theater quietly before the show. He looked like he was about to say something, so I frowned at him and punched my fists together loudly a few times. He looked away, and backed out of the room. I found myself watching the first movie in the Twilight series.

Since that night I've somehow managed to watch another of the movies in the Twilight series. Now there is a fourth, and I agreed to check show times and accompany Kristin to the movies. It was my plan, but she still apologized several times throughout the movie. It really was bad. They keep getting worse.

I'm not all sorts of drunk anymore. Not at all. But later at night, I joined my girlfriend again, and we went out to where drinking is the sole activity. Drinking and catching up with friends. For a novel change, I was made the designated driver, and I had the pleasure of listening to the new tUnE-yArds album as we cruised along back roads in her car. It was delightful. We were out late, and I managed to enjoy myself in the midst of, but not underneath, a pile of alcohol.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More deets on how I'm living.

This is how I'm living life: My room in West Philadelphia continues to be the best place ever. I still have no internet or TV. I have music, books, crochet, This American Life... stuff like that. Having an android phone allows for the streaming of This American Life and the occasional checking of email. I have just the right unobtrusive amount of inter-nest at home. Then, on my 4-day mid-week weekends, I head to Kennett Square and sleep at my parents house. They have food and a large amount of inter-nest. There is plenty of Kristin near Kennett, and I am comfortable in the big house with plenty of coffee. My mother has been knitting, and I am free to sound like a preachy jackass who squawks at every television program that my parents choose. They can't watch a simple television show without their mouthy son pointing out how it's bad for people. Parallel to this, I'm personally responsible for the furious depletion of their Keurig supplies.

I got a photo-txt this morning. The photo was of a box containing a Miami Sun trike. The caption was "Boom Shaka-laka." The time is nigh.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's fun to say.

Regarding teeth. This morning I had one modified with an expensive dremel tool. It didn't take long, and now I can chew in a more proper and familiar manner. Next week I'm getting another root canal.

I drove over to the appointment because I have a van and I'm doing a lot of driving these days. I drove home after my morning appointment. Then me and my girlfriend went to get coffee.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I'm a Boyfriend

I'm a boyfriend. Of course I like Kristin. We've been hanging out near-constantly, and I could still handle more. I've already said un-jokingly that I'd prefer if she moved in. I see why it might possibly not be a good idea. It might be too soon. But I don't put much stock in much typical stuff, and I like having her around. She came over today after I was finished with work. She'd been working up the courage to talk with me about feelings. She likes me. Neither one of us has used the word "love," but that's the word in my mind. Or maybe I don't know what love is. Or maybe I know, and I'm quick too feel it. I think a concept like love is nebulous and subjective enough where we don't need to pin it down and focus a lens on it. You know it when you feel it. I know it when I kiss her face, and when I look at her. For right now, that's good. At this moment, I'm great. Only naturally unfolding time can reveal the future, but this moment is unfolding nicely. It didn't take much convincing to get me to agree to monogamous boyfriend terms.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Meeting Men in Bulletproof Bodegas

A nice looking young man eyed me up and down. His head nodded once slowly as he scanned down to my feet, and up again to the top of my head. He glanced sideways and took in the bicycle as well.

"Out of everything," he smiled; paused. "I like the sweatshirt the best."

"Out of everything," I thought to myself "I like getting attention from attractive young men the most."

Intoxicated by his innocent gaze, my mind drifted to an alternate plane. 

He was there for beer. He could have been there for lottery tickets or blunt wraps, but I'd bet he walked out with six tall blue ribbons. He didn't look bad himself. Maybe a few years younger with a dark few-weeks-old beard. He stood with a calm confidence, and I knew that he wouldn't steal my wallet.

I didn't say anything. I stepped toward him - two long paces - and stood with my face almost touching his. I reached out to touch his shoulder and moved my hand down slowly along his back. I pulled him toward me and kissed his mouth forcefully.

"You're fucking right, you like this sweatshirt."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ordering a brand new Miami Sun Trike

Two days ago, I ordered a Miami Sun adult-tricycle. Sometimes a guy's gotta treat himself. Sometimes a guy's gotta get a new trike. The Miami Sun is a classic upright chain-driven design in a time when most three-wheelers are going recumbent. This trike is an adult tricycle; straight-up. A beautiful machine. After some contemplation, I decided to go with a black frame. One of the many other colors would seem to have been the obvious choice, but I think my decision was wise. This trike will be with me for the long haul, and it can expect to be heavily decorated. The trike will arrive as a humble blank canvas, and I will immediately adorn it with nonsense. When the trike needs color, I will find creative ways to add it. I will crochet it a sweater. I will chronicle this.

Three days ago, I was looking at eBay. A fantastic Worksman industrial trike was going for $110 with a Buy-It-Now. The fork was bent to oblivion, but that would be easy for me to replace for maybe $20. Best of all, it had what looked like a small church pew affixed to the back. The buyer would have to pick it up locally, but even that was not a deal breaker - it would be a mere three or four hour drive according to Google Maps... and I have just the van. I hemmed and hawed, and eventually missed my chance. By the time I went back to the auction with the intention to buy-it-then, it was gone. Someone else got it. I hope that person knows how to replace a fork - the auction didn't mention the damage, but it was visible in the pictures if you know how to look.

I was so disappointed at the missed opportunity that the only way I could console myself was to buy a brand new trike. I knew the Miami Sun was the logical choice. It's cheap and cheerful, and repair parts are readily available. Knowing I am able to replace the rear axle for $22 instills confidence. If the back end gets hit by a bazooka, I'm out maybe forty bucks.

The trike was a great deal. Bicycle mechanics like me have access to anything from the wholesale catalogs at cost. The brand new trike will cost me less than twenty-year-old used ones are regularly sold for. If you want to twist my arm, I'll tell you: I will pay $234.95. MSRP is $399. Of course, I will spend a little over an hour assembling the trike from the box. Contractually, a bicycle shop cannot sell pre-assembled bicycles because of [highly reasonable] liability concerns. But I'm a mechanic with plenty of free time. Hoopty-do.

I got a car-ride to work today. Kristin dropped me off. I gave her some money, and she came back to the shop with one of those boxes of coffee from Dunkin' Donuts. The "Box O' Joe." I would continue drinking this coffee out of little paper cups for three days - nuking each cup in the microwave after the box went cold.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Make-Your-Own Party

I went to a party at Shelly/Arden's apartment. I'm so happy to have these friends. I'm so happy with my close proximity to these humans. And the dog.

The theme was make-your-own pizza. I brought Kristin and she showed me how friendly people are supposed to smile and behave. Being sober is still a challenge at gatherings like this. I feel alienated and aloof. I'm not the goofy-silly person I've been trying so hard to dress like. I'm not exuding the same energy as the caricature of myself in my head. I once did. I don't know if that energy will find me again. Now I'm a bit less wild and a bit more of a silliness enthusiast. Wild in theory. A quiet connoisseur of the off-kilter.

I stood with a jar of water and saved the wine and liquor for the others. It's not that I didn't have a good time. It's that I had to be eased into the boiling kettle slowly with slightly squinted eyes. I didn't have the luxury of a six-Bud-Ice head start. I couldn't simply dive in. It's all in my head. I know that.

Pictures from my Bicycle Trip

I'm not much of a photo-taker, but I took some pictures on my trip. Here's a link to all of them. I like about 15-20 out of these 300 or so. I also don't take pictures of a lot of wonderful classic moments, opting instead to save them for myself and not be the doofus with a camera. Some of the moments when I felt like a camera would have been an inappropriate intrusion on the moment would have provided the most interesting pictures later. So you won't see some of the best stuff. But look how tan I got.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Americans eat lunch.

I woke up early enough to drive home in time. I arrived at home before my mom left to visit my Aunt Pam in Lancaster. I signed myself up to go along, and I brought an iPod to DJ the drive and some green yarn to keep cranking out crochet'n flag #2.

We all had lunch and visited craft and yarn stores. Mom got me several skeins of brightly colored yarn and a couple different crochet hooks. This is America. This is the 90's.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bright Flags and Silliness.

I finished the bright pink Tibetan prayer flag. Crochet'n Pray Flags. That's the working title of this project. I started a Kermit-green flag, and I have an aim to use every yarn I can find to make more and more flags until something tells me I'm done. Bright colors first.

Her folks were out of town. I didn't ask questions, I just drove over there and parked my big nasty van in the driveway. Silliness ensued, and soon there were snacks and some dancing. Pens and paper, pens and paper, pens and paper.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sex, Root Canals, and Eyeglasses.

Morning sex is a good way to show up late for a root canal. The root canal wasn't fun this time. Last time I was desperate to have teeth. This time I already sort of had teeth, so I was free to be mentally indignant about all the fooling around with the inside of my mouth.

I thought this would be the last appointment. I was disappointed to learn that this tooth business is an ongoing project. I still need some kind of temporary crown, and then a real crown. Worse yet, young Dr. Young believes that I have more nerve damage that will require a second root canal on the other damaged tooth. We'll reassess this next week.

More sex made up for the bad news. Morning coffee made me sing the graces of my charmed life.

I drove to Kennett Square where a small bubble-wrap package contained two sets of eyeglasses. Two weeks ago, I went on the internet with my prescription in hand. I got the cheapest and most bombastically colorful spectacles on the website. $24.90 covered two sets of prescription specs plus shipping. Now I have glasses with bright yellow frames and quite-large lenses. I'm adding more color. Bright color everywhere. I want to bathe in neon colors right before I fall asleep.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Crochet, Lentils, People, Calm Dogs.

Arden tries to show me how to crochet a hat. I make a janky circle that curls up and looks like a dead flower. I need an on-call extreme crochet expert. I need to have this person on salary. Dinner was lentil soup and salad stuff. I was happy to be at a kitchen table with actual food. I was happy to sit on an actual couch around people who I like. And a dog.

Kristin stopped by after work. I introduced everyone. There was a mug of tea before we retired to my place and made a night of it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Coffee Shops and Prayer Flags.

I sat in the corner of the coffee shop with big yarn. I have some big green yarn, and I started making loops and chains. I leaned back, crooked my head to the side to stretch, and I scooted forward on my chair. I took a drink from my warm and unnecessary coffee. I slouched again and began making loops and chains. The Pixies played in the background, and I wondered how the other people here weren't at a bar instead. The sun was long-since set. The sun was a memory. It was 9:40pm, and this place would be closed in twenty minutes. I stretched out my arm further than my coffee mug to stretch another muscle. I stretched out my legs and locked my kneecaps. I started making loops and chains with a 5.5mm crochet hook. Big green yarn. Tan coffee. Did these other people quit drinking too? Why aren't these people drunk? It's perverse.

It's 9:45pm and the temperature of my coffee is plummeting. I'm sitting on a wooden chair overhearing the words of others like the buzz from a distant table saw. I answer my phone and tell Dave where the coffee shop is.

Dave sits across from me, and he's not wearing a smile. He gets a coffee and we sit silently. Nobody needs this coffee, and that is my thought as he drops a fat black notebook onto the table. I sip cold coffee. I start making loops and chains.

Me and Dave head to my place where the lighting and music and atmosphere are under control. He mentions weed about three times, and that sets me to smoking a little bit.

I have a string of three Tibetan prayer flags that I found in the middle of Main Street in Newark Delaware. There should be a fourth flag, but the yellow one was torn out. Now there is a gap. As Dave and I talk about how good or not life is, I pick up a finished square of orange crochet. As we discuss the merits of life and dating and friends, I use bits of yarn to affix the orange replacement flag in the gap left by the missing yellow flag.

Dave takes the captain's chair and begins selecting music. His selections are fed through stiff little wires to my tall wooden JBLs. I sit on the bed and look at my skein of dead-grass yarn. I pick up a pretty pink instead, and begin a new chain. I hold my work up to one of the Tibetan prayer flags and chain out a length to match the bottom of the flag. I start working backwards, and soon I am flipping my work and making a bright pink flag.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bonfires and how I'm not drinking.

My teeth are starting to hurt a hell of a lot less. I've had major issues with some bad pain. It's been made worse by some less-than-optimal shaping of my new front tooth. I can't chew on the right side. And no matter what I do, that tooth is likely to get chomped into my bottom tooth and send my mouth into a world of hurt.

I sat around a bonfire. A friend in West Chester who I don't see too often sometimes has bonfire parties at her parents' house. There was a ton of drinking and I'm barely ready to handle being around that. It's not that I wanted to drink - I didn't even want to - but I also didn't want to be around it. Or maybe I did want to drink, but recognized what a pointless stupid decision that would be. The truth is buried somewhere inbetween those two options.

I sat out in the cold air with my feet propped up by the fire. I existed. I looked at myself, felt the cold air on my skin, and I definitely existed. Then I exited.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Crochet goals.

At this point, I can crochet the hell out of a dishcloth. My stitches are even, and I'm moving pretty quick. I got a book with patterns for making amigurumi animals and foods. The cover of the book shows a tiny cheeseburger made with crochet and stuffing. It's cute; it's beautiful. Now I have a goal: I need to practice until I'm crazy-proficient at crocheting intricate foods. I'll get there. I taught myself how to fix bicycles and build wheels -- the cheeseburger is in the bag. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Good plans and looking bad on paper.

Maybe I'll start a savings plan. Maybe I'll go back to college and/or get a job that involves something that actually matters or something that I care about. Perhaps with those savings I will do something like buy a simple-tiny-humble-efficient Tumbleweed Home. It's a good path with rewarding results. I could be proud of that, and it's a reasonable and achievable goal for someone like myself. That's one way to go. It would be extremely sensible, in fact.

The combination of Not Drinking and this college/money/house talk might make me seem more marketable in the dating sense. Or at least less like a Terrible Candidate.

I'm going to drive to Key West soon. I'll be there for awhile. And I just quit drinking. Those are two things that make me think I'm not ready to burst into a new official relationship. I was surprised to realize this myself. If I had the opportunity a month ago, I'd have signed all of the official boyfriend documents and considered myself the luckiest man alive. But I've been kept at arm's length for awhile now. I've been warned, explained to, and kept at bay.

I'm the same guy I was. Drunk smash-tooth Chris is the same Chris that might surprisingly not ruin his own life. I'm the same guy. I get it. I totally understand why dating an alcoholic who wants nothing more than to live in a van forever is not a great idea. Looks bad on paper. Part of me is that guy. But the same flesh also covers something that might not self destruct.

Also, to be clear: living in a van is totally boss.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'll be an uncle yet.

My sister is going to have a baby. There's some time before that happens, but I found this out today. I can't imagine any news that could make me happier. I love my sister, I love Karl, and my family is all pretty great. This is great.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mushroom tea and touching.

It's a good thing I don't have a drug problem. Booze is out, but funny drugs like weed and mushrooms still have a place at my table. In moderation. Which has never been a problem with that stuff.

We drank a little bit of mushroom tea and made some clouds of smoke. There was calm music as we laid on my warm bed. My feelings are adamant. We looked at each other, and a gentle touch was better than words.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I'm calling it "quitting" now.

I'm calling it "quitting" now. I've been saying stuff like "dialing it back" and "taking a break." But I'm not drinking anymore, and once again I'm going for the goal of forever. I sorta get the picture with where drinking gets me. I've gone though the cycles enough times to make this rigmarole predictable. The cost-benefit analysis is complete. I obviously have no business around alcohol. Unless I have no ambition. But I've been thinking about it, and it seems like I still have ambition. I have a weird and skewed version of the typical American ambition. But I'm all in. Time to float in a general healthier direction. Time to try and accidentally figure something out.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Peppermint tea and brain health.


I got some peppermint tea. Somehow that's symbolic to me. It symbolizes me trying to be good to myself. Stay calm. When I make peppermint tea I'm trying to take care of my brain.

I'm not saying I have anxiety anymore. Now I'm "restless." It sounds less medical, and is probably closer to an accurate depiction. People who are restless at least want to go somewhere. It's a word that hints at ambition. I'm re-framing the way I look at and refer to my general recurring malaise. It's healthy like peppermint tea.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hobbies, interests... careers.

Not drinking. It's gotten a bit easier, as it does, and my appetite for alcohol seems to be gone. For now. I'm not fooled. Hopefully this dry spell will allow me some time for personal growth. I've been reading. I read "Rule of the Bone," which I borrowed from my roommate. I can't recommend that book enough.

My teeth hurt, and I think I might be getting tired of working on bicycles. I tend to get burnt out pretty easily when I'm doing the same thing for a long time. I'm thinking about finding a new niche. I'm not turning over any big boulders to find one, but it's on my mind. Hobbies, interests... careers. I'm thinking about personal growth and change.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

TV and fake fires.

Watched some SNL special and was reminded what watching TV is like. Haven't been watching that much TV recently. At all. It's a not-so-subtle sort of brainwash.

Pens and paper, pens and paper.

I had someone sitting next to me, and the fake fireplace at my folks's house was nice and warm. Monogamy is boss. I don't know if I have any agreement on that. I'm doing great. None of this really matters.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Normalizing and a root canal.

Yesterday was a tough birthday. I walked around in a haze trying to figure out where Kyler locked up my trike for me last night. I tried to retrace my steps, and I didn't find it. I've been wasted and hurting myself for weeks. I have multiple injuries which I barely remember, and last night could have been a lot worse. Goddamn it. I came to the hazy realization that I needed to take a day off. At least. At least one sober day. I'm killing myself. Not. Fucking. Easy. Shit.

I drove to Kennett with my tail between my legs, and couldn't manage to show my parents how my mouth looked without feeling embarrassed and bawling about it. My teeth. My stupid brain. My situations.

That was yesterday. Today I filled out the forms at the Community Dental Clinic at Temple University. I sat like a fruit bag wrapped in a rainbow and filled out forms.

"How much do you drink?" - a lot.
"Do you use any other drugs?" - Weed. Mushrooms sometimes.
"Are you recovering from any drugs or alcohol?" - Trying to quit alcohol.

There were other questions on the forms as well, but none of them seemed to apply to me.

I was seated on the long chair as young Dr. Young reviewed my forms.

"Trying to quit alcohol?" she tilted her head and looked at me to confirm. "How long has it been?"

"I... didn't drink yesterday..." I looked at my shoelaces and answered like I was the one with a question.


[Her enthusiasm consumes me. I feel like a fucking idiot laid out here. I have no idea who I am or what I'm doing, but I feel like a moron, and I have a weird little twitch that I've developed since the bicycle trip, and I'm trying not to twitch all over the place, but I'm sure sweating a lot, and I'm emotional and trying not to twitch or start crying.]

They worked on my teeth right there. I was x-ray'd and laid out. I needed a root canal on one of the teeth, and they'd get right to work. As soon as I said I had money, and please do it right, we got started. My mom wouldn't have me walking around with fangs, and the fact that I was laying in a long vinyl chair was more than a small relief. I wanted it fixed. I will pay her back if/when/how/something.

Needles went in, and smoking bits of bone sprayed out of my mouth. I watched the whole thing and I didn't twitch or move a muscle. A strange part of me enjoyed getting the root canal right up to the part where they jam little toothpicks through your gums and up into your eyeballs. Some fillings and material were molded on, shaped and filed. Technically, the new teeth look better than the old ones. I'd like the old ones back, thanks, but the new ones certainly beat the fangs. I'll go back in about two weeks for the remainder of the root canal. I'm not sure how that works.

Kristin came over again. I probably wasn't at my most fun last night. I'm reasonably well detoxed by now. By that I mean I can think clearly and my brain is recognizing my surroundings as reality. I've been beside reality for awhile, and I'm a little bit humbled to admit that I didn't realize a couple days without drinking might remind me what reality is and how normal should feel. That's how I am now. I'm normal enough and feeling a cozy sort of lucid. Yup. I'll be fine. Always okay.

I'm always excited to see her. Differences be damned and ignored. I'm so relieved to have someone to lean on and be okay with. Maybe forever, maybe not forever if something fucks up between us. If someone decides the other person isn't worth it, then it's fucked. But I like this girl, and I dislike drama. I'm blessed and relieved to have this person in my life and frequently beside me for right now.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy 29th Birthday

Happy 29th Birthday. Both of your sweatshirts and your hat made it home. The trike is gone. You destroyed the fork and you have no idea where you left it. You have a vague recollection of seeing chunks of your front teeth on the trunk of a Mercedes. You tossed them into the weeds.

Your teeth are fucked. You had good teeth with a nice gap, and now you have fangs.

Walk around in a trance. Laugh about it. Come close to crying. Be scared that your alcoholism is getting away from you.

Scott got a small carrot cake for you. It has your name on it and some candles. You can thank god that everything is almost all okay.

Monday, October 31, 2011

snapped some teeth in half.

Pens and paper, pens and paper, pens and paper...

Morning sex. Of course. Sex before you get coffee, and some more later to celebrate. I carted a girl around West Philly on my trike, and we slowly got to the business of drinking coffee and buying a couple cheap mugs for me to drink coffee out of later. Brave girl. Trikes are serious business.

After that, I hung out with Gowa for a bit. She and Scott and the rest of the dudes are leaving on tour tomorrow. She's a full Shawnee, and she's fun to talk to. We had another round of coffee.

Fast forward to night time, and I smashed my front teeth in half on the trunk of a parked Mercedes. Amazingly, that's all that got hurt. Except that the trike is fucked. The fork bent back until the front wheel was hitting the frame. My teeth were definitely fucked. Fangs. I turned my teeth into fangs because I got drunk and crashed my trike.

I got to a punk show late because my buddy was playing in one of the bands. Substances were too readily available. I stepped over the line and then I started running. By the time I left with my buddy, I was barely there. I was six blocks from home, and we got nearly a mile off track. Then I smashed out big chunks of my teeth on the trunk of a Mercedes. I stood up and looked. Two fucked up bits of tooth sat there on the trunk. I picked them up and tossed them across the sidewalk. My buddy locked up the trike for me, and we walked back to my place.

The Trike is a good machine, but you can't take driving lessons from Carlo Rossi and expect to remain unscathed. I said goodnight and don't worry about it to my friend. Snake tooth will be better dealt with in the morning.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I think I might be happy.

More tofu hoagies. More music. Same room.

Just sex. More sex and sex. A little bit of laying around. Plenty of calm touching skin, and sex. Laughter and more sex.

Pens and paper, pens and paper, pens and paper...

Breathe in, breathe in, breath in...

... exhale.

I think we might like to have sex together. I think I might be happy.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dating terms and how awesome I might be.

She thinks I'm "rebounding." I have a general idea of what that means, but I don't think it applies to me. I think most of these concepts and dating terms are over there. I'm over here. I'm out of my mind, I readily admit. But when I look down?; both feet on the ground.

This is when I think about writing in notebooks. I try to summarize my thoughts and actions here, but when they get as foggy as this sentence, I begin to recognize the anonymous value of pens and paper.

It's more than sex. It's more than friendship. That's not enough.

I might get hurt. I don't want to. It's not up to me.

It's the good kind of problem to have. In fact, if I had to choose a problem from a list, this would be the one I'd pick. In fact, I'll no longer frame this situation as a problem. It's potentially a dagger, but maybe time will pass and nobody will get stabbed. I'm a calm character. I'm just trying to be honest and realistic.

The second half of my day is fairly predictable.

Shelly came over to eat tofu hoagies and listen to music. It was great. I've rearranged my room, and I could not love it more. I got a portable radiator-style heater. I won't wake up with cold toes again. I have a chair. I have colorful pretty lights. I have good speakers. I could not like this room any more. Wait... No... I was right. This room is perfect.

I got lit up as fuck, and Shelly drove me and my roommate and his girlfriend around to a couple parties. I overdid it like I always do, and I don't know whether I came across like a fucking idiot flake or if I glanced by just under the radar.

Pens and paper, pens and paper, pens and paper...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Trikes and being drunk

I made the bold claim to have conquered anxiety with the use of never-ending music. Just don't let the music stop. A few hours later, I was proven wrong. My chest hollowed out, and the expression on the inside of my face went blank and serious. Time stood still, and I hung in the balance. Only a light breeze. Only light external cues could float me around.

I bought a jug of wine. I stayed after work with my buddy and I replaced both of the chains on my trike. I changed the seatpost to one that is long enough, and I put a milk crate on the back. Chug, chug, chug. Calm, calm, calm.

We locked the doors and headed toward West Philly. My buddy tried the trike, and promptly smashed into the back of a parked van. Maybe wine after work isn't such a great idea. Nevermind. Of course it is.

He wasn't looking so hot. He really smashed his foot good on that parked van. We got back to my buddy's place, and I watched as he carefully slid off his shoe. Blood. I watched as he peeled off his sock. The nail was fucked, and that much I can say confidently and for certain. He thought it was broken, but my expert opinion was that it probably wasn't.

I left him to his various devices. I went to a sorta rowdy hardcore show next door. After more wine and beer and beer, I recognized that it was definitely time to trike home. I don't remember getting a huge scrape on my arm, but I do remember sliding down the steps from my room at 2am. I lost a lens from my glasses, and assumed it came out after a forgotten date with some pavement. I was quite elated to find the lens on my floor when I got up for work the next morning.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Great Apartment; Great People; Crochet

I didn't get up until nearly 2pm. I kept sleeping and staying under the blanket. I looked out my large picture window at a rainy day and the tops of trees swaying in the mist. The cool air in my bedroom had me folding my blanket over my feet like and envelope.

"Hey Buddy!"

As I emerged from my lair (I really am renting an entire lair), I was greeted warmly by Scott's lady friend Gowa. My house has a constant revolving cast of friendly characters. She's traveled and lived out of cars. She's from Nashville now. She's built a wigwam hidden and buried deep in a huge park there. She grew up on a reservation. She's done stuff. We sat and talked, and it underscored that I'm paying rent at the right place.

I spent the time it takes to get comfortable with crochet. Two huge coffees at Satellite, and several hours at home. I stayed up late and was practically sober for once as I listened to new music and crocheted a respectable looking square with orange yarn. I need plenty of practice, of course, but this was progress. Somewhat of a breakthrough.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Music, Fermentation, Socializing and Yarn.

At 7:21pm, I was driving toward Philadelphia listening to Skrillex. I'm also nuts about The Knife's "Deep Cuts," and intrigued but not quite sold on material by Napalm Death. I found some nice hidden potential gold on I'm currently asking for and taking suggestions about what to download. I am listening to everything that is suggested. I'm trying not to let the music stop. It's getting close to being all I do.

I was driving toward Philly with the loose intention of attending a fermentation gathering across the street. My basic policy is to attend anything I'm invited to - pending mild interest and a semblance of geographic reason. This was to make cheap booze. Or so I thought. In reality it seemed awkward. I didn't fit in. I sat with a 32oz Gatorade bottle of wine, and tried not to say much. There was some food, which was nice.

I got some sexy txts, and it underscored in my mind that i should make my escape. I went to the other side of the street where it was safe.

So, I tried to socialize, and it didn't work much. No bother. I hung out with my roommates. I exchanged more sexy txt messages and had a nice punctuated typing conversation about who I am and what I do. I listened to music, and I played with yarn.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Taco Tuesday

I woke up with Kristin. We got coffee in styrofoam cups at the country store in the woodsy boonies. I goofed around in Kennett all day until it was time to meet up again for 'taco tuesday' in West Chester. We're meeting up all over the map. It was a gathering for mutual friend's birthday at the bar. Back to her place after pints and tacos. I have plenty of time, and I'm willing to spend it all wisely.

Monday, October 24, 2011

French Creek Fail

Thought I'd visit some friends who I expected to find at French Creek State Park. Took the van, and expected drinking around a fire. It was a little bit rainy and a little bit chilly. Sweatshirt / hat weather. I felt confident of successful fun. They were headed out by bicycle, so I wondered how damp they got.

It turns out not too damp. They headed back home after about half the ride. I poked around a couple campsites after dark, and even made my patented pigeon-call noise at the wrong folks in the woods.

Failing that, I drove all the way to Kristin's, which in my book was about as good, but actually probably better. I drove the van a lot and listened to The Knife and many others.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Illegal Mushrooms, Skrillex, and My Heart

I sat alone after work. I was perched upon a stool in front of the computer and I spent some time taking up space. My buddy at work was talking about his three-story beer bong so much that I invited myself over. It was constructed for a rowdy party last night, but it still remained standing. I was intrigued.

I sat alone on the stool and checked my email. I didn't bother to write. I didn't bother to read. I was wasting time until I felt motivated to leave.

I locked the front doors and set the alarm. I unlocked my trike and set my iPod to Skrillex. All I can hear right now is Skrillex.

I stopped by Pasqualley's Pizza and got some of what they really sell, which is a million varieties of crunk beers. I picked up a 40oz Mickey's for me, and a six pack of Pabst in case of beer bonging. I went to visit my friend.

I didn't drink any beer from his sections of garden hose, but I did manage to score some illegal mushrooms from another guy. These are fruitful times, it seems.

I ate about an eighth of mushrooms. Color and light were in full force by the time I convinced myself that finishing the beer in my hand was more a product of non-wastefulness than any inherent want. I said my goodbyes as a familiar Blood Sweat & Tears song formed a cloud in front of the record player. I beat my way to the trike and set my sights toward home.

I proceeded with Plan A, which was to listen to music. Illegal mushrooms were a welcome addition. With no work tomorrow, I fell into the easy process of getting completely lost inside of a Skrillex album.

I got lost in that album and some others. I managed to get some water, but it was apparent from the start that the menu for the night included no food. My room is fairly poor at being insulated, and the crisp night replicated itself inside of the attic. Instead of putting on pants and two hoodies, I got lost under my thin blanket until I was warm enough to look at music again.

With illegal mushrooms can sometimes come an epiphany. Between bouts of Skrillex, I kept my ears and insides wide open for one. That's the spiritual side of my occasional drug use. I didn't get an epiphany, but I began to recognize the obvious more clearly. I'm falling too quickly for Kristin. Of course I like her. I'm absolutely enamored. But the signals are clear that we have different ideas. Words are stronger than signals: she's told me twice that we're not a good match.

I'm reasonable and calm enough to recognize exactly what she means. Maybe she wants one of those kinds of guys that has a plan. Money, houses and children are a few things that people tend to aim for. I need to find a balance between keeping my heart in check and not doing anything to fuck up an important friendship. I can't get clingy or blind, and I'll need to settle for reality. I clearly recognize that this is in my best interest.

I write all kinds of ideas here. I share insecurities. I try to stay humble in life and text. (Only about 9 people read this, so it doesn't matter much - but if you actually like it, tell a friend. I don't exactly advertise.)

I am one fucking confident guy. I love myself and I think I am so fucking awesome. I am fun and smart and you should really want to be around me. I am an absolute gold mine. I am so fucking friendly and funny. What do you like? I like that too. Did I mention how goddamned handsome I am? I'm also strong as an ox, and have the resting heart-rate of an athlete. Alcoholic? No. I just drink a lot sometimes. Anxiety? No. That's just the sound of me eating breakfast. I love life. I have goals. I will succeed in my goals because they are not materially based. I will not trade my time and money for bills and ropes that tie me to time clocks and more bills. I will continue to find happiness and comfort. I will try new foods and meet new people. I love the hell out of myself. I'm not priced for a quick sale, but I am a bargain at twice the price for an educated consumer.

What I mean by the previous paragraph is that I am more confident than I feel comfortable letting on. Someone who writes publicly about every day of their life has an ego that is definitely suspect. But I'm humble, which is a fucking awesome quality.

The entire point of this is that I'm sorta getting ahead of myself because I met a new girl that I think is totally hot and smart and funny. My initial instinct is to spray-paint my name on her and steal all of her free time. But I won't be all mopey if I'm not her personal Jesus. I admit: I could be prone to jealously, but it would probably take something mean or tactless. And I definitely want to be the best at sex. In any case, the cards are on the table. We talk openly, and she reads all of the stuff that I write.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Going to see The Buried Beds.

I went to see the Buried Beds play at a bar called Kung Fu Necktie. I used to live on Howard Street. I lived one block from that bar. I'm not ready to see some of the people who live over there, and I cussed at Dave to fucking move when he parked directly in front of my former front door. "A block up, a block up, goddamn it!"

I didn't realize how tense I am about it. Feelings can really get boiling when you see snapshots of a different time. And it was still so recent. And they still have my rice cooker.

The Buried Beds are a band that is awesome. I've liked them for a long time, but I haven't seen them play in a couple years. They're better now. I had a fantastic time, and I'm happy that one of the guys is going to be my new roommate. We've met before - he's great - and now I won't need to worry that my rent will go up.

I talked to Dave and had pizza with him and his friend. I was glad he was driving, because I was not able to pilot anything with wheels.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sex and Soup and Blankets

What I want in my bed is slightly to the left of mainstream. What I really actually want is slightly beside the center of the road. It's great to be able to talk about it. Being told how normal I am is a medicine that helps me wake up. I spent years bumbling and fumbling around; tripping over my feet and thinking too hard. It's not a topic for a first date. If a girl isn't more aggressive than me in words or actions, then I will be a pacifist-feminist who feels super gay and forgets what time it is. I will smile and talk and it will not work out. The back of my brain will heat up with statements, and my mouth will spill banalities. Warm air will whisper stories and aspirations that are beside the point. When I hook up properly, I fall in love.

I love West Philadelphia. I love the people here, and I love my big cheap room. I love the soup at the Thai place a couple blocks away, but not as much as Kristin does. When she arrived today there was a small drunken gathering in my kitchen. Hat after hat was being crocheted together, and My Morning Jacket was audible over the chatter and silliness. Craft beers were standing on the table, and Kristin brought what it takes to assemble margaritas. We had some. I convinced this brave girl to stand on the cargo area of the trike as I pedaled out to get King Soup.

This is healthy. This is probably healthy. I could use a warmer blanket.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Begins the morning...

You don't need to sneak out of my parents house. All of the sneaking out occurred over ten years ago. Now we're comfortably in the next era. Decisions are mine and friendly reasonable girls are likely to be offered breakfast if they happen to last here until the morning.

Horse-abouts with ancient rapist-vans; men looking like a fruit-bag wrapped in a rainbow - maybe that's different. I hope that's who I am. I sincerely hope I can fill those shoes. It makes me happy in life, but it might not be something you want to rattle around in your daughter's bed at night. Respectfully, I walked out while nobody was paying much attention. Today began. With a peck on the lips and a key in the ignition.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dubstep, Life, and Trikes

I spent plenty of time sorting out my music collection. It's all digital, and it's a sorry state of affairs. I have a ton of music. Some of it I don't like, and some of it I don't know. There is a disproportionate amount that I know and love. I'm finding new music all the time, and I'm trying to organize myself so I can find and listen to more new tunes.

I don't have the internet at my apartment. I wanted it before, but now I don't. I listen to music, play with yarn, write in a notebook, and read books. I drink gallons of wine and fill my room with every sort of empties. This is as good a time as any in my life. By that I mean that I am happy. I have the best room, fantastic roommates, and sometimes Kristin comes over to eat soup until it's time to snore.

It's 7:21pm, though. And I'm in Kennett Square. Kristin won't be over for another hour, and there will be no snoring tonight. There will be some drinking and music. Dubstep. I downloaded hours of dubstep along with other curious new items.

The girl left early. By that I mean late. I cruised my three-wheeled conveyance to the bar and parked it in the middle of the sidewalk. I sat with just about nobody until it was time to dubstep the trike down the middle of an empty road.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Specialty of the Trike Rider


I got up early enough to ride a bicycle to work. It wasn't in my heart. I unlocked the trike and began the slow roll. Coasting slowly is the specialty of the trike rider.

I cranked the rusty tricycle along the streets of West Philadelphia with the seat several inches too low. When I roll to a stop, my feet stay on the pedals. I can put up my feet and relax on the seat like it was a chair. Balance is the specialty of the trike rider.

My thumb scrolled my iPod to deliver music to my ears. Multi-tasking is the specialty of the trike rider. Enjoyment is up; speed is down. I got to work just in time to feel great.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Trike Life.

"Brother, I gotta tell you. That bike is extremely gangster."

Homeless guys in Clark Park love my trike. I was chilling out on the trike and watching Evan juggle. The usual gang was hanging out by the statue drinking morning beers. I've been cruising around on the trike, and I found Evan at the coffee shop a couple hours ago.

Life is complete now. Ever since I got the trike, everything is calm and perfect. I ride around wearing my party socks and any other colorful garments I choose to don. As I went through the intersection at 46th and Spruce, I got a great response to this. Explosive laughter from an open car window. That's what I'm talking about.

I've gotten many compliments on the trike. Trikes are silly and they have a lot of potential. Cargo capacity; ground effects. I have ideas on how to improve my ride. I want a stereo. I want a dubstep-blasting trike.

I convinced Kristin to come over. We didn't venture far. I took a ten-minute break to pick up Chinese food. I took the trike.

Trike life is good.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

$60 Trike. Next Chapter Starts Now.

I thought I was walking into the ghetto to give repair advice or estimates for a trike. An adult tricycle. A customer at the shop asked if I would do this, and somehow it turned into a thing that was definitely happening. I'm not good weaseling out of things, but this time it was to my severe benefit.

It was his father's trike, and his father passed away last year. He wanted someone to take care of it. He wanted $100 for it.

I am the right man. I have wanted a trike for years. I've come close to ordering a brand new one, but decided it would be a cop out. I didn't want a brand new shiny trike. Clean new stuff isn't really my bag.

The trike is crunk. Everything is covered in rust. But everything moves, and the tires hold air. It's rideable. I offered him $60. He accepted the offer and reminded me that he really just wanted someone to take care of it in the memory of his father. I rode away with the agreement I'd give him the $60 later. He was a good guy, and he knows where I work.

My cup runeth over. Seldom have I been as happy as I was riding that trike around West Philly. Mi amor, baby. I can't believe I waited until now to own a big ridiculous tricycle. This was the last ingredient I needed to transform myself into the character I picture in my head. I am now a rolling caricature of myself. Silly has reached a fever pitch.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

She Looked Radiant

Time well spent in bed. We woke up lazy and she cut banana slices into the pancakes. The day passed like a comfortable dream. At night we smoked in her car, and she looked radiant. The levels of silliness spilled over. My social comfort with marijuana is low these days, and her beautiful smile made me nervous. Am I kissing her too much?

Friday, October 14, 2011

My van is in tip top shape. And so am I.

I picked up my van from the mechanic. It's all fixed up, and I got the inspection stickers. Dirt cheap. This mechanic is America's best kept secret. God, it makes me happy. I only got two tickets for lack of inspection. I'm a whiz at procrastination.

I hopped on my bicycle and rode the eight miles to pick up the van. Traffic stopped on Broad Street as a busted cyclist was put in a stretcher. Something was broken. His Schwinn was destroyed. I inched through the mess and got a look at the man in shock and his bicycle folded in half. The seat stays were ripped right off the cluster and the heap laid there as they wheeled him away.

I drove right to Kristin's. It's fall, fuckers. This is beautiful. I drove out to the suburbs where people carve pumpkins, listen to music, and smoke weed out of an acorn squash. I want this girl in my bed always.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Second Dates. No Better Than First Ones.

I asked her out on a second date. I txt'd the girl from my date a week ago and asked if she ate food and maybe wanted to cook something. I offered to do the shopping and bring some wine. (Always with the wine these days. I'm such a fancy alcoholic. Life is getting so cool.)

I am one nervous sonofabitch. I can also over-think shit like a bastard.

We ate some food featuring vegetables and a nice polenta. We sat and talked forever. 1000 opportunities to kiss her floated by, and it started to get mentally painful. What am I doing? I couldn't stand it. I made a move, and this led to plenty of somewhat awkward kissing. It could have moved further, but I literally had to stop. No chemistry, maybe. I guess that happens. Or maybe I was just nervous and thinking too much. But I wasn't horny, and that seems strange. She's cute and I like her. Poor communication. Wrong music, no doubt. I hate this part about being a dude. The dude is supposed to make the first move. There's a lot of bullshit mind-reading, and I want out.

Oh, maybe it's this too: She's smart and she seems wholesome and nerdy. She's cute, and I think she's the bees knees. I don't want to slather her situation with a smelly kinky nasty alcoholic. I love myself just the way I am, but baloney doesn't pair well with all other foods.

Maybe I just wanted to be with Kristin instead. I don't think I'm feeling the dating thing, and I might save myself some trouble and quit trying. I'm pretty sure Kristin continues to date other people, and I'm sure I'm not stepping over any boundaries by doing the same. We're not a couple. She's just the most fun person ever.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Roommates, Neighbors, Good Intentions.

My life is getting more fucking awesome these days. I'm officially renting my room now, and it makes me more comfortable hanging out in the kitchen. People in this house are all awesome, and we all sit around in the kitchen. We drink and smoke some. Everyone here knows how to crochet, and there's a box of yarn and hats. There are many records, and music is usually folded into the deal.

We're listening to the shit Dr. Dog is working on in the studio. This girl Dre is recording with the same engineer, and we're listening to the shit she's working on too. It's fantastic. Dre's boyfriend, Forrest, is living here. He has ridiculous marijuana, and it's nice to get the giggles. It's been awhile.

I texted Becky. That's the girl I think I weirded out last night. That's the girl across the street. I asked if she wanted to walk over to my friend Kyler's to watch him throw yeast in a bucket of cider. Becky just moved to Philly and I thought she might like to meet new people. She confirmed once again that she wanted no physical relationship. Confirmed. Jesus. I assured her that I wasn't heavily invested after only hanging out for a few hours.

She invited me over for food. Plan B was to drink wine and starve to death, so I was happy to accept the invitation. I met some of her friends. I met some of her roommates. It's a great communal house, and I had a nice time drinking too much

It's a shame my intentions need to be cleared up about a thousand times. I am an extremely harmless loaf of bread. We talked more about this on the porch. I think most people would decide to stop trying to hang out at this point, but for some reason I have a desire to bother her via text message. If everyone can stop being strange for a minute, I think we'll all get along well. The extent of my intention is basically to just get a tofu hoagie and sit around on a porch sometimes. Maybe crochet some shit.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Another First Date.

Another OkCupid date. She messaged me, and based on her profile I was excited to meet. She was smart and concise. She offered to teach me how to crochet. She claimed it was easier and more fun than knitting, and I thought it sounded like a fantastic idea.

I confirmed through text that a bottle of wine would be a good idea.

I knew she lived close, but when she gave me her address, I had to ask for it again. I told her I'd be there sooner than she thought. I walked out my front door, stepped off the porch, crossed the street, and made a bird noise to alert her that her date had arrived.

I had wine, and she had a platter with cheese and crackers. Add a porch swing, and the situation was ideal. No crochet was mentioned, and we talked for a couple hours. She's cute, she's young, she likes performance art. She's not boring or dull or normal.

I convinced her to follow me across the street to listen to music and maybe crochet. I didn't get the hang of crochet too well, but I did manage to find the courage to make a move. We kissed for awhile, and it was nice. Nice and friendly. She told me she didn't want a relationship, and this caused me to laugh. She told me she wouldn't resist me taking things further, but I can tell the difference between permission and desire.

We laid on my bed and we stared at each other. I looked her right in the eyes, and I think it made her nervous. I burst out laughing several times, and she claimed I was extremely silly. I thanked her for the compliment. I don't think she expected to drink wine and have some colorful older guy put his paws on her. I was happy to have a nice time. You can sign me up for a new friend across the street any time.

I walked her to the front door, and allowed her to escape to safety on her side of the street.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Kinkiness and Confidence.

I took this awesome fucking girl on a real date. Thai food is a little more romantic than drinking warm cans of Bud Ice in the driveway at my parents house. I still prefer the latter.

Buying condoms and wine makes me a real adult. That's all the credentials I need. This is America.

I had my questions answered about the precise levels of kinky. Kinkiness and confidence. I'm on board 100% with the former, and I'm trying to work out the second part as time goes by.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Boozin' and Bein' Sexy.

I have a deal. A bargain has been struck between drinking and symmetry. The golden square of cans was incomplete, and I'm not sure of the precise levels of kinky. A plastic handle of whiskey and pretzels are no useful piece of the puzzle.

I'm in the South Philly dog house, and I'm eating all of the leftovers. Sexy text messages are my new favorite hobby.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dog Sitting. Mission: Animal Party.

$50 and whatever's in the fridge. I'm dog sitting for a friend of a friend in South Philly. I was over there and stacking up gold cans by sundown. There is a case of High Life in the fridge, and I'm seeing what can be done about that.

Animal party. Two dogs and four cats. After the small dog figured out that I wasn't there to rape and destroy, we became friends. At no time were there not cute and fuzzy animals eager to crawl on me and share my interests.

Dave stopped by, and I don't think I was much of a host. I was a ghost. I was a guy drinking beer amidst animals in the home of a couple girls who I've never even met.

Friday, October 7, 2011

More First Dates.

I wasn't too invested in this date. She seemed a little bit negative from the start. Fine for friends, but I think the vehemence came out a little too early. Plus, she has red hair which means it won't work.

We met in the park. We sat with bicycles and talked about bicycles. I got tired of pretending, so I went ahead and cracked open a forty. Who's fooling anyone? I think we were on the same page. She eventually had to leave, and I told her to call me if she's making soup. I won't be waiting by the phone.

The date was fantastic.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

First Dates.

I dealt with a hangover and slept off some general anxiety and malaise. I got back to West Philadelphia in time to go on a date.

We met for drinks at Fiume, and within a reasonable amount of time we found topics to talk about. We were out late, and I drank very little. I held a delicious pint of pumpkin beer for an hour.

Dates are weird. I felt like I was supposed to kiss her. More accurately, I'd want to punch myself in the dick if I couldn't work up the courage. I have things to prove to myself.

I'm great at making friends, and a little hazy on all the other stuff.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Emotions, violence and promises.

Today I read "Anders Loves Maria" in its entirety. I listened to "Heartbeats" by The Knife about 45 times. The combination of these activities began to erode my weak defenses against emotion.

Fortunately, I got outside. I went to the farm. There was plenty of beer drinking. There was a dubstep dance party complete with cowboy hats. Paul helped me show Kristin a good time by ripping around on the Gator. We opened some beer cans with screwdrivers, and Paul lit my face on fire. I apologized pretty soon after punching him and throwing him on the ground with some loud fuck-yous.

The thing I really took away was the promise made by James. He said he'd quit his job next year and hike the Appalachian Trail with me. We were all drinking beer, but he said it. He's an experienced backpacker, and I intend to remind him that he said he'd quit work and start walking with me. That would be quite the adventure, I think.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Comedy Tradition Continues.

Comedy night. Boom.

Got a little tipsy. The comedian sucked. He was a dull-normal consumer with no idea how to live life as anything but a tired joke. What an idiot. I had a fucking blast stomping around campus with Shawn and Melissa. We can all stomp around like a mother.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What's in this for me?

Knee-high rainbow socks and a black crinkled cowboy hat. Colorful flair. My fashion is contrived, and personally I find this immensely enjoyable. I'm tripped out. I slipped off the plane of reality a little bit ago.  Years ago? I'm clinging to the edges, and if I let go I wonder what would happen. I would remain standing.

"What's in this for you?"

It's a valid question. I'm having fun playing around, but my penis isn't doing what it's supposed to. I'm drunk and nervous about new sex. An average of twice a day for a couple years was nice. Now I'm figuring it all out again.

What's in this for me? New friends with quirky silliness. Human connection. I'm lonely, and this helps. I like to smile, and this helps. This is wonderful.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Nothing is broken; nothing got broken.

It's 9am and I'm awake in the morning. I'm crisply folded and fully assembled. What a novel idea.

I threatened to throw my head through a wall. Only half serious; taken half seriously. I went out with some friends and nothing got broken.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Buying bicycle parts; eating cold soup.

I dressed up like a jackass and bought a whole lot of bicycle parts. I was the king of bargains, and I had a fantastic time. I had a cold can of soup for dinner, because I'm an idiot.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Cowboys drink, smoke weed, and get sandwiches took.

I'm still searching for ways to stay active and happy. I made plans today. I'll see Kristin on Monday, and I'll go to the farm on Wednesday. Tuesday is the coveted comedy night in Newark.

Tonight, the plan was Trexlertown. There is a huge bicycle swap meet in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania tomorrow, and I will be there with $700 cash in my pocket. I will buy parts which can be sold for much more on eBay. My focus will be on small and easy to ship parts - cranksets, derailers, brake calipers, shifters... and whatever suits my fancy fancy fancy. I will be howling for lower prices and dropping cash on every table. I am the man. Dig it.

It's a party. Many people show up the night before. Tents are set up, and fires are started. There is plenty of beer, and growing anticipation before the attack.

Shelly and I had dinner at her girlfriend's place and hung out until it was time to go. I appreciated that Shelly took the keys to the van, and I was free to pound many beers while iPod DJ-ing our ride toward success. We were babysitting a wonderful dog, and the three of us were in general cohoots.

Arrival. A large grassy field which will fill with cars tomorrow has only a dozen or so tonight. Many arrive by bicycle. I had a beer in one hand and a phone in the other as I texted some people who I expected to see. I sat around a fire and smoked mad weed before meeting some other late arrivals and smoking more indeed. It was time to sleep.

Time for bed. This is not my right to say, but I put my arm around Shelly and I pulled her close. I love her more than myself. I pulled my pillow closer to the crook of my neck and was comfortably asleep until the sun came up. That's when I realized that the dog ate most of my sandwich.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Is this life for real?

Online dating is a line cast in the water. I messaged back and forth about a cat door. She showed some interest in my profile, and I read hers. She was thinking about installing a cat door. I explained about sawzalls and a wide margin of error.

Broadcasts. You can say what you want while online dating, and the message will go out to whoever is online and close. "I'm at 48th and Springfield. I swear I'm smart and nice enough. Please feed me."

Christ-bucket. Is this life for real? I barely made it anywhere today. I knitted for a few hours today while sitting in the life-is-easy chair. My van's doors were open to grass and a sidewalk. I slept for a few hours in my van, and I barely woke up.

I heard Bob Dylan's voice as I finally boiled water for pasta. It was late - but it would be many hours before the arrival of early. The kitchen where I'm staying has a lot of records, and I pressed play on the last-played vinyl. I sat in a chair. I suspended my head by the heels of my hands. I pressed my hands to the crooks of my eye sockets and waited until pasta was tender enough to eat. The heels of two tired hands stretched skin beneath my eyebrows as music crackled and made me stop twitching.

Christ love and give me a hug. I wake up to realize that I passed out listening to music which makes me cry. I can't make myself eat, and to me it's surprising how much happiness is a tenuous ideal rather than a colorful blanket which I can pull over myself at will.

But it really doesn't matter at all - another song reminds me that "Life's a Gas." I'm sincerely thankful for the reminder.

And who had their finger deeper in the other person's butt? As I wake up again, I'm only half assembled. I answer my phone at this late hour, and I smile genuinely. I sigh into the speaker as my vision remains blurred and my muscles are inconsolable.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Batshit, small, and back to reality.

I got my glasses fixed. I guess some of that rolling around in the grass knocked out a lens. Lens Crafters had me fixed up in about an hour. Two fresh lenses, and boy is my life a piece of cake.

Anxiety. Sometimes I have it. Music helps. Music is a calm hand placed reassuringly on my chest. It looks me in the eyes and doesn't need to explain why or what it understands about me. Music knows me better than I know myself.

For a man so stubbornly batshit, I can really begin to feel small. Back to the dirt. Back to being humble and sleeping under a blanket of dirt. Back to the Earth. Cradle my brain in two hands and place it down gently. Be a friend. Stand here with me as my heart beats. Distract me as the clock keeps laughing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Comedy Night and Mushrooms on a Hill.

The free comedy tradition continues. Tuesdays. Newark, Delaware.

I arrived at Homegrown toward the beginning of happy hour, which provided ample time to get an appropriate number of margaritas. Shawn and Melissa sat with me at the bar, and while that's happening everything seems to be alright. We retired to the beer store to get a few tall cans and drink in my van. More music! More limo lighting! More life-is-easy chair! We were audible at the comedy show. As I recall, Melissa was finishing a tall crumpled can of Bud Ice as we sat in the back corner of the room. Scandalous. "That's my girl!" Shawn pointed out to me.

Mushrooms. Sometimes they just show up. Apparently, some funny mushrooms were afoot. After some quick planning, supplies were obtained and we split up with a plan - meet at the farm in about an hour.

The farm is magical. A sanctuary. It is the tallest point in the county, and against all odds it remains undeveloped and unmolested. Some of my friends live there, and it has been passed down through their family for generations. It's a quiet retreat next to the Brandywine River. It is full of history. Solders marched across the land in two separate wars. The Lenapi Indians rested here at the tallest point and looked out over the land. That's where my van was parked.

My van came to a rest at the top of the grassy hill near the biggest and oldest tree I know of around here. The mushrooms did what they do, and the bizarre silliness of our existence took focus over the part of life where anything makes discernible sense.

When things got a little too funny, I had to run to another corner of the hill and laugh it off. I laid on my back in the grass as tears filled my eyes.

It rained, and then it stopped - then it rained some more. With dilated pupils we looked out over a bright and overcast panorama. I sat deeply nestled in my life-is-easy chair. A sort of reminder of real life began to arrive as the sun came up. But I don't think I'll ever be back. I agree with the shrooms. None of this existence is how it appears. You have to make the most of yourself in a strange and sorely wounded world. You need to make your own beauty, and find your own sense of self. I'm relieved that I have the time and privilege to reflect upon this. I have the time and resources to exist outside of a survival-instinct day-to-day reality. Maybe it's all that extra time that blurs the lines of reality. Maybe it would be healthier to exist more as an animal. Maybe it's just the shrooms. I won't be back to reality. I doubt I've ever fully been there. And I also doubt every narcissist who aims to explain it. It isn't our nature to understand all of it. It is our nature to get wrapped up in the details.

Monday, September 26, 2011

How to survive and thrive in a van.

Beer and crusty weed. We sat in my van and listened to music. I was going to share the Four Loko, but she had most of it instead. Music in the van is perfect. The sound is decent. I have ambient limo lighting, a bed, and a life-is-easy chair. There isn't much in the world I'd rather be doing, and there isn't a place I would rather sit. The life-is-easy chair with the side doors wide open. I could survive with that. I could thrive.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Spending time with a cool girl.

I'm in the shower. At 7:21pm I was showering.

I didn't have plans, and I don't feel like being alone. I'd like to do something every night. Drinking, knitting and playing with my phone is not enough. I want to go out or stay in with people. I need people. Bring them to me.

I texted Kristin and found out that tonight would be a good night. She's the cool girl I've been hanging out with. She has a cartoon blog, and apparently a bunch of other stuff going on. She played me some piano and sang to me. I wasn't stunned, but I'll use the word stunned anyway. She has an awesome voice, and she writes songs. I was impressed, and maybe a little bit stunned. Those lyrics. She's good.

I drove to her parents' house about ten miles from where my parents live. She lives there, and her parents were out of town. She poured drinks and fed me food. She showed me the flamingos with sunglasses she's been painting. Dozens of them. She painted my nails better and more radically than I've ever had them done. I asked her "hey! how did you get here?" She did not answer with a literal explanation. We slept in her bed.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Wet socks, and necessary communication.

It rained all day. "Heylll yeahhh, maaan!"

He says it with a big smile and a lot of extra y's. It's not easy to type, but it's both musical and infectious in person. I say it all the time now. I exclaimed it this morning as I rode fast through pounding rain. I caught up with my work buddy on our commute to the shop. I exclaimed it, and he looked at me with a big grin as I pulled up two feet to his left on the Hoopty going fast. We're professional commuters, he told me. He had grocery bags tied around his feet. My approach was to bring an extra pair of socks which I never bothered to put on. We rode to work and neither one of us could see shit, because we both sported spotty spectacles.

Rain gear doesn't work 100%. I arrived at work fully soaked, and stayed that way for the next twelve hours. After work me and my buddy rode in some more rain. It happened to be his birthday, and he was having a party. I bought a case of beer for the table. Anyone could have some. At multiple points during the day I leapt into a big puddle that covered my shoes entirely. At a certain point it doesn't matter anymore.

I talked to Shelly today. I finally got paid for all of my tools. All of my personal tools became the property of the shop, and finally a fair price was agreed upon. More importantly, there's been a tension between us. Not a tension, but an unfortunate breakdown of communication. More accurately, I let slip one blurb of how I feel and feelings are hurt. She cries, and I don't sleep that night. Finally we talked. I was able to use full sentences, and I think we understand each other. All I want is for her to succeed. And I also need to take care of my own interests. That's all. We had coffee and we explained ourselves as I sat at a table in wet socks. We want the best for each other. None of that other stuff matters.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Feliz Cumpleaños, Fidel.

At 7:21pm I was still at the bicycle shop after closing. Our best customer is named Fidel. He drinks at least a case of Budweiser daily. He cracks open the cans right in the shop, and conceals them poorly - usually enlisting a menu or a crumpled napkin. His English skills are poor. Fortunately, we have a mechanic who spent a little time in Mexico.

Fidel was cracking beers in the bicycle shop and getting some fair prices on brake repair. We were super busy, and he waited patiently until 7pm. I was happy that my new bicycle touring friend, Brett, could witness our shop at it's best.

"Strong bicycle!" exclaims Fidel. This is his catchphrase. This is usually the only phrase I can understand. It is repeated several times per visit. We close the doors, and Fidel offers us beer after beer. We refuse most of them. We politely refuse many times.

He delivers food. Fidel delivers for a restaurant down on Spring Garden, and he has a large plastic box affixed to a rack on his bicycle. Originally, I designed this setup for him. Soon after the store's grand opening, I took it upon myself to attach this setup to a bicycle that didn't want it. I clocked out and stayed late for about an hour working on it. I put Fidel's cheap full suspension Mongoose in the work stand and got to work. I drilled holes in the thick over-sized aluminum dropouts, and then I ran a 6mm tap through the holes to thread them. I used stainless steel nuts and bolts to affix the case which I think he took from behind an Eckerd Drug or a CVS. When I was done, you could lift the cheap heavy bicycle by the delivery box. Strong bicycle. It was a good setup done with the same care I would use on my own touring bicycle. We charged a fair price and gained a customer for life.

"Strong bike!" Today is Fidel's birthday. "Iss'okay!" he told us. He motioned for us to lock the doors so we could stand around and drink cans of Budweiser together. It appears that he didn't have work today. We looked in his delivery box, and there was at least a case of Bud. This time he put it on ice. Beers on ice filled his delivery box. A river of melted ice was working its way out the holes on the bottom and across the floor. We mopped it up several times. It was much more a source of amusement than a problem.

"Iss'okay!" he said. This is what he says when he wants you to drink beer with him. And he's always offering. If he comes in at noon, you will be offered a beer and be half expected to pop it open and drink on the sidewalk while you work on his bicycle. He tells you this is okay.

I felt bad. Fidel told us we were his friends. He patted his hand softly but adamantly on the counter as he looked at each of us. With sincerity, he said it to each of us: my friend. My friend. My friend. He reached in his pocket and brought out our business card. He loves our bicycle shop.

The other mechanic is firm and friendly with Fidel. We all need to be going somewhere right now. Each of us wishes Fidel a feliz cumpleaños, and each of us drinks one more beer with out best customer.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bicycle travelers, and girls who visit.

All sorts of people came to visit me in Kennett. My parents were hosts to my new friends.

A guy named Brett left California on his bicycle a few months ago. Today he made it within 16 miles of my parents' house. We've been in phone-txt contact for a few days, and when I learned of his location, I offered him a ride. I put a bicycle rack on my dad's SUV and drove out to retrieve him. I doubt I'll ever have any difficulty striking up a great conversation with a long distance bicycle traveler. It takes a certain mindset that I understand, and I covered a lot of the same terrain just barely a month ago. What a fucking cool guy.

I took Brett to my house where the Harne family could properly feed him and make him feel welcome. Among other amenities, this house has showers and beds. I know the feeling of really enjoying such things after a lot of bicycle riding.

This cool girl who I know dropped by right while all that was happening. She's pretty quickly becoming a regular visitor, and I hope this continues. Right now, I'd say it's working out well. We had some wine, and she actually said 'yes' to the idea of drinking tall warm beers in her car. Perfect! At this stage in life, I really want some more new friends. Ones who I can make out with. She spent the night, but didn't feel comfortable sticking around for breakfast. It would have been nice, but we snuck her right out the front door anyway.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Free standup comedy. A new tradition.

Comedy night in Newark! A new tradition.

I was buying bicycles earlier, and running late for happy hour. I had two minutes to get drunk at the good price, so I texted ahead to Shawn for the sake of safety. I stomped into Homegrown on Main Street in Newark Delaware. Long confident strides took me to the bartender. Two margaritas, please. I held up two fingers to underline my request.

I wasn't sure if Shawn got my message, but when I sat down next to him it appeared that he had. Still another margarita was waiting patiently. Too many margaritas. A distinctly first-world sort of problem to have.

This week we got to the comedy show in time for some of the free coffee. This week the comedian was actually funny.

Monday, September 19, 2011

How to recognize a date before you're on it.

I have a crush on her blog. It's cute and wholesome. And she's a good google-chat talker. But eventually it becomes time to meet in person. That's what friends do.

Meeting up for drinks at Newton's in uptown Kennett turned into something resembling a date. I could have at least showered or put on a fresh shirt. Signals were different than expected, and I tried my best to get with the program.

She's funny. She's easy to talk to and she says whatever she wants. She has straight clean blonde hair and strong sexy spectacles. We racked up a good pint-sized bar tab, but were only charged the price of a sip. It's good to know your bartenders personally - especially if the restaurant is bankrupt and will be closing in a few days. Another shot of expensive bourbon? Certainly.

Sometimes I'm reminded how good it is to be the owner of a van with limo lighting. It's a good deal to be an adult with a human body. Affection and a sigh of relief hung in the air.