Monday, December 31, 2012
Imagine my surprise when I stepped into a party full of young people wearing suits and I'm dressed like a jackass having sex with a clown. I didn't lose any points, because I don't know anyone here. I'm up in Boston at a house, and the people here in suits - kill me twice - work for an outfit called "Wine Riot." It's something to do with "tastings."
I would have danced at midnight. I would have smiled and sweated and acted wackier than I felt. But before midnight? I was a flamboyant mouse amidst heavy drinking. I was a man who couldn't squeeze into the corner far enough - a man pushed into the corner so hard that time almost stopped.
These cats and clowns couldn't get enough champagne. This fancy party would have been better if:
1) I still got drunk these days
2) I knew some people
3) Kristin was having an okay time
Fuggit. I would have been happier at home with copious dope smoke.
Sunday, December 30, 2012
Waffles first. Actually, I already had a hot mug of coffee toasting my hands by the time I watched the waffles being made. The folks of the house seem like good ones, and I'm happy to have time to re-evaluate Kristin's friend. She seems great.
Saturday, December 29, 2012
The rain turned to snow, and by the time we hit the New Jersey Turnpike, it was increasingly clear that the conditions would only be getting worse. Apps confirmed this. I took the wheel and didn't let go until we were at our destination - about an hour west of Boston at the home of one of Kristin's closest friend's folks's place.
Many harrowing miles had passed beneath the balding tires of the beat-up white Echo. But we made it. I slid into a freshly shoveled spot in the driveway surrounded by deep white powder. Who said we wouldn't make it? I said we definitely would. I was bred for this. My family drives in poor weather just for kicks. We eat sandwiches full of rocks and cookies baked with broken glass. And if you won't believe that, then believe this: we don't hide in the garage when it snows.
I put it in park, snapped my fingers, and we were watching the glowing embers in a woodstove.
Friday, December 28, 2012
Thursday, December 27, 2012
It's cold, and I'm still a wuss about it.
This day was all about immediately taking steps toward healthier eating. Less poisonous eating. It worked just fine. Soda is out. Diet soda is out. Crazy manufactured fake food is out. I'm looking at food in a completely different light.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
The movie had a profound effect. The facts about corporate food and diet fads were laid out, and alternate suggestions were made. Eat more vegetables and fruits. Our eating habits will make an immediate and drastic change. We will be talking about this documentary for days.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Spent last night at Kristin's. Went to Kennett for Christmas morning. Got popcorn. Lots. Got Under Armour baselayers and some books about the A.T. that should be very useful. Went to Kristin's folks's again for a second holiday meal and more gifts. Got a book on Alternative Building which is already an excellent read. I've been researching building so much recently.
I've come to the conclusion that a real Tiny House - Tumbleweed style - makes a lot of sense. I'd like to build one cheaper, though. That's the current plan, but as always the "current plan" is an evolutionary process.
I bought the "Tiny House Book" in PDF, too. I also talked to Karl [ed note: brother-in-law] about the potential future plan of buying land to build small houses on. But, like always, I'm the ONLY one saving money. So it's all on me for the most part - if I want to build a small house community, I'll have to work towards doing that by myself. I'll have to have most of it in place. If you build it THEN they will come - convincing people to think and plan in line with your own hypothetical dreams is impractical at best.
Monday, December 24, 2012
10mg of borrowed adderall gets me stiff-brushing dog hair out of the Waffle House carpet. Powerful stuff. Went directly to Kristin's folkses, where I am comfortable. It's nice. Snow on Christmas Eve, and I'm in a good mood. It's going to work out. It can't NOT work out. I'm invincible. The only way to stop me is to kill me.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Am I one man? Are these my hands on the wheel?
I drove to a fucked up abandoned lot at 39th and Girard. I peered through what was left of the fence and took inventory of the interior. A beat up box truck, a pile of broken concrete blocks, piles of dirt, various vehicles and a resilient forgotten tree. The area is East Parkside, and it is right behind the Philadelphia Zoo. Access to the river trails is nearly immediate, and open land and parks are a block away; over the bridge. The empty lot is for sale, and it could be yours tomorrow for $10,000. You can do whatever you want there and nobody would bat an eye.
I picture a Truck House or a House Truck. I picture a structure to live in, a garden and a workshop. I picture conforming loosely to code and zoning. Above all, I picture two middle fingers to paying rent and anyone telling me where to sleep. My hands want to build something that looks like art and feels like home. I have two hands for hi-fives, or one for a smack in the man's fucking mouth.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Friday, December 21, 2012
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Back to work after a 3-day weekend. A mystery spill at the shop left puddles of black water which dried to become caked on dirt. I spent a good portion of the day with a wire brush scuffing up the dirt. Rode home with Alex. Talked to Sean for awhile at home. He's into orgies and whatnot.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Went nuts trying to get the new watch band on the old watch face. Hacked off 16" of the workbench backboard. Meh. Shit's coming together. It's all coming together slowly but surely. I was up until 5am last night looking at little houses and watching shitty downloaded TV and such. I have a tendency toward obsessing about ideas. Right now I'm back into obsessively thinking about building a house. And getting land. Absolutely off-the-deep-end obsessive. And I'm frustrated that in the meantime I'm moving at a snail's pace. I'm ready now.
Monday, December 17, 2012
For Kristin? Colorful polygons in a row. Three rings from Etsy and a fourth from another artsy source.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Pita triangles; various cheeses.
Two unidentified delicacies.
A smorgasbordette adorned a corner with my six foot frame hovering above. I'm not too shy to use my fingers.
I have ten friends here, and most of them double as co-workers. Drinks are included at this holiday party, and I track down a couple of Cokes. Smiles come easy, and I happily celebrate another successful year at the bicycle shop. This is where I am right now, and this is where I want to be.
I fish another shrimp from the hot sauce, and I wouldn't change a detail.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Drugs. It must have been some kind of drugs. He read to us from some books which he was mystified to find on the sidewalk. Drugs?
After dinner, we tried closing the door. It almost worked.
Friday, December 14, 2012
My next search is for "miniature spatula."
If these words are a window into my life, then you just peeked in on a moment that says a lot. Nobody, most of all me, knows exactly what to make of it.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
My $7.00 bought just about that much information and entertainment. I'm happy that the large majority of those bucks are going straight to the guy who is trying to spread information about a simpler way of life. His work deserves financial reward.
The directions are for basic wood-framed construction, and the whole project is highly possible. I'm completely taken with small houses, just like thousands of others. The draw of a simple life without monthly bills is strong. This cabin is the simplest, least expensive and least intimidating I've seen. There are hints and tips for scavenging most of the supplies - but if you want to buy it all up front, the materials come to about $2,000. Or - another way to look at it - about my yearly rent.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
I took a pair of wheels with me, and shuffled some other miscellany in the interest of killing multiple birds. I stayed late for a social smoke, and pointed my feet toward home in the cold evening air. Smart layering made the walk an enjoyable one.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Things couldn't be better. I'm sitting in uptown Kennett Square, holding a pencil in my left hand, and writing little numbers next to the names of sushi rolls. These people? The staff here will bring me whatever I want - I just have to put a number next to. All I can eat.
I'm sitting across from my parents, and I'm conferring with my mother about exactly which rolls we should have delivered to the table. My father is here because somehow he was convinced. He doesn't like sushi, because he believes it all contains raw fish. I've explained that raw fish is not an integral ingredient, and it does not define sushi. You could make sushi with fried chicken in it. It's like a haiku with food - it fits a certain form, but any ol' word is up for grabs. Unless you have an aversion to small circles, there is a sushi you will love.
Say "la vee." Some people have no culture.
Monday, December 10, 2012
Looking at wood was enough to overwhelm and confuse me. I went back to the van to regroup. Alright, fuckface:
1) Get coffee from Wawa
2) Take an Adderall to squash the brain moss.
3) Calmly picture how much of which types of woodshit to buy. Make notes.
4) Quit being a fucking idiot: I don't have exact plans, sure - but I can return tomorrow to make returns or exchanges.
It worked. I made more shelves. The shelves look great, I made bonus shelves, and I made most of a tall backsplash to go behind my workbench. Backsplash isn't the correct word for what I made. It's a 4' x 5' board to display and organize my tools.
Sunday, December 9, 2012
A person has the option to be walking around in a place with palm trees. It's a decision. It's not hard. You just stand up wherever you are, and start walking toward where the palm trees are. I'm severely affected by poor weather, and the air has been gray and saturated for days. Driving through Philadelphia just makes me wonder why ANYBODY would EVER choose to be here when the climate has the capacity to do this. It got to me. No wonder everybody is getting shot in the face around here.
I sat shotgun in Kristin's little beat-up car, and I got confused and angry at myself for being here. I'm miserable and I'd like to disappear. It's the weather. With a sliver of sunlight, I'd be okay. With a strong exposure to sunlight, I might even sprout or bloom. Right now I'm nothing. I'm a dead branch, and I barely care if I hit anybody on my way down.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
The kitchen is lovely. They spent hours, and it's cleaner than I could have imagined. They must have used a chisel inside the microwave, and a pump to muck out the fridge. I realized that I'd better slough off my frown and put on a fresh t-shirt for an impromptu date. I heard her say Indian food, and I took us to a table where they bring it to you. Delicious and a little bit spendy.
Friday, December 7, 2012
Kristin is teaching lessons in Delaware. It is only me on the wide bed while I watch a droll movie and reflect on the minor tasks which I will not be performing this evening. I will eat a can of stuffed grape leaves and try to understand the different inputs and outputs effecting speed and torque in different applications which use epicyclic gearing. Words, words, words. It's a struggle to grasp the math and engineering of simple systems. I can understand this stuff almost exactly as well as a French newspaper.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
I'm still trying to figure out the meaning of life. The clock's running out if I want to take my chances at being programmed by a society I don't trust. That's all well and good. I'm going to stumble around both mentally and physically, because I'm stubborn and not easily convinced. I'm going to stare at trees and people until my body shuts down and churns back down to particles. I'll keep my eyes peeled for something funny along the way.
Monday, December 3, 2012
I watched a seven-minute YouTube video about how to make a workbench. I went out to Kennett and started to cut up all of the fucked up old wood that's laying around in my folks's garage. There's wood from a futon that I pulled out of the trash and cut up. There's wood from when I built an apartment in the back of that U-Haul truck. I glued and screwed together a little workbench for my bedroom.
Shelves. We desperately need shelves for the bedroom. (Didn't I live in a van once? Where did all this stuff come from?) I got some long pieces of futon oak, and those decided the height. The width was decided based on what I could get five or six even shelves from without paying money: three feet.
I dragged my new workbench into the center of the garage, and it worked fantastically well as something to put saws and clamps on. I chopped out some plywood shelves, added some reinforcement to the undersides, and thanked Christ that it all fit in my van.
If I ever go to IKEA again, it will be to eat weird food, drink bland coffee and read a book while it rains outside. I'll shit in their bathroom, and I won't wave goodbye. The word "IKEA" being used in the house a few times was sufficient motivation to crank on a drill and read the instructions for installing a blade on my dad's circular saw.
Sunday, December 2, 2012
The real problem is this: any time I have to do something new, my brain creates hurdles and barriers. Time passes and I think about hypothetical boundaries between myself and what I should be doing.
AutoCAD is about as easy to download as the latest episode of The Walking Dead. As a bonus, I already doubled the RAM on my laptop a couple weeks ago, which will help run this powerful bastard of a program. Best of all, a version for Mac users was released in 2011.
It's 7:21pm. I'm watching a tutorial video which introduces the basic layout and options available when starting AutoCAD. I'm trying to make a circle.
Saturday, December 1, 2012
It was Mike's surprise party. His 30th birthday is happening in a couple days. His girlfriend went all-out, and a shindig ensued. A bunch of good people who I like were there. I showed up about hungry enough to punch a horse in the mouth. Fortunately, it was only about an hour or so until Mike showed up, and after he was sufficiently surprised, I was able to start picking stuff off of a huge table of options.
I'm not getting drunk anymore, but I'm still sometimes talking about not drinking, and I did manage to dance in a very minor way. Beyond survival. I'm clasping the thin edge of surthrival, and I can picture myself doing even better soon.
Back home, we got a new roommate. More people is more traffic, and that's one step further from living in a secret pile of dirt surrounded by trees. But if you have to cut the rent down, then sometimes you need a roommate, and this guy seems like a reasonably safe choice. He's clean. He's nice. He has money.
Friday, November 30, 2012
I've been walking to work to beat up my feet a little bit. I'm planning to hike along the Appalachian Trail for a month starting in March, and I don't want to show up to a hike with bicycle feet.
The walk today is great. My feet will be tired when I get home, but better to feel that now rather than on the trail. I could take the walk again tomorrow. Three weeks ago, my dogs were screaming by the time I turned the corner to West Philly.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
It's 7:21pm. I'm at the bicycle shop. We're closed. The register is counted, the floor is swept and the LED sign reads "closed." I'm holding two rims and a tire. I'm looking for something. A scrap of tube? Some zip ties? I'm looking for a good way to attach these items to the Hoopty so I can bring them home for more projects. The rims had messed up hubs, which I cut out. The tire has plenty of miles left in it. These items would go in the trash if nobody took them home. I'm one of several scavengers at the shop, and these are coming home with me. But about that... how am I going to get these home?
I end up using zip ties to hold the three items together, and I leave them at the shop until I drive a van or ride in on the trike. This is one example of how I leave a trail of clutter everywhere I go. I don't want to change my ways - not completely - but sometimes I think it would be less painful to pop an actual bullet through my foot instead of conceding to the arduous and prolonged figurative method.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
I hopped on the Hoopty and went to work. I was loaded with boxes of parts sold on eBay.
After work, Sara came over. Smoking as a social thing ensued, and dogs surrounded. Sara has an elderly rottweiler who can't make it up the stairs. Sara got the front and I got the back. Crash is the dog who lives here - Jim's dog. He isn't impressed when people lift giant old dogs into the house, but he was a good enough sport. Daisy was less of a good sport, but there's not much she can do about it. Seven-pound dogs love an idle threat.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
I spent the day in a very relaxed state. I watched a movie and sat with a small dog named Daisy. I smoked some reefer and ate a hoagie. I stayed inside out of the rain, and took the opportunity to build a couple wheels on my truing stand.
Sturmey Archer 3-Speed wheels aren't going to lace themselves. I have at least nine hubs in the queue, and I am reimagining every bicycle as a three speed.
Monday, November 26, 2012
This requires action. I want to be able to work on minor bicycle projects in my home. I won't be sanding or grinding or using excessively messy chemicals in a bedroom, but it would be nice to build wheels and run some cables without doing backflips and tap dancing on a tightrope. I'm building a workbench. I'm over-building it using instructions from a 7-minute YouTube video. It's going in the corner. I'll add shelving for parts organization, and I'll have a place to put my tools.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
My 30th birthday was also the one-year mark for quitting alcohol. Less than a month later was my one-year mark with Kristin. Yes, it's serious.
I don't know what my 30's will be like, but they're starting off a lot calmer than my roaring 20's. I'm better now. I wouldn't trade this for anything.
I'm glad I started writing about my progress when I was doing interesting things. I was a sexually confused 20-something with an alcohol problem, and I had a lot to scream about. I'm no longer confused, and I'm no longer drinking. My girlfriend is the best. We share a room in an apartment. I'm trying to fuck up our room with a herd of bicycles, and she's using various plants to fill in the remaining space.
I have a great job, and Philadelphia - for now - is my home. I've started up an eBay business on the side. I buy bicycle parts and I re-sell them for more money. All of the income is extra, and it all goes into savings. I'm saving money to buy a little chunk of land in the area, and on that land will go a house. The house might be a tiny woodframe one, or it might be a big shuttle bus. Or both. One promise that I do have is that I will be building it - at least mostly. The house will be a physical representation of my essence. It will be a nutty structure, and it will be one of my greatest projects. There will be comfort and charm and there will be no unwieldy opulence. I will not be caught red-handed weeping into my gold-plated Corn Flakes. Above all else, I will seek to retain maximum control over every aspect of my existence. I will not exchange my ideals for appliances and a ticket to fit in.
I might keep writing here. I don't want to officially quit yet. I like to write. The issue with keeping this up is twofold: First of all, I'm way behind. My last post was months ago, and I just don't want to update with a bunch of information that I don't care about. It feels forced. The other issue is that I think the value of this blog was in telling the slowly unfolding story of a fucked up kid taking hip-shots at life while trying to figure out a proper way to live.
I'm growing up. In a way, I'm settling down. I know what it's like to live in a van, and I know what it's like to travel around on a bicycle. I know what it's like to be afraid to slow down. I know frustration, and I know loneliness. Discontent is tucked in my back pocket.
I'm not much smarter, but I have some experience. There is nothing left but peace in my heart. I have no fundamental needs requiring desperate attention. I want to take what I know and build upon it. I am at home and I am warm, in the most figurative and literal sense.
I bought a new watch today. It's the same style; different color. It looks just like the one I was wearing years ago. It looks just like the one that I accidentally set to go off at 7:21pm, but I haven't set the alarm yet. Today? It didn't cross my mind.
Friday, June 8, 2012
Jesus, with the fucking kids exploding into the bicycle shop screaming! They lay their bicycles in the middle of the floor and do everything possible to get my blood pressure rising. I'm getting palpitations from parentless youth amidst a floor of paying customers.
We tighten chains and turn wrenches on loose bolts. There are tons of kids in the neighborhood, and they all roam recklessly on department store BMX bikes. The chains are always bouncing off, and only about one brake in five is even ostensibly operational.
"HOW MUCH THIS?? HOW MUCH THIS??"
Kids come in yelling and interrupting.
"S'CUSE ME, S'CUSE ME, S'CUSE ME!"
Kids think that if they excuse themselves, you should stop mid-sentence while talking to a customer.
You don't want to reward insane behavior, but eventually you are willing to do whatever it takes to get them back outside. Usually you just grab a couple wrenches, tighten a nut or bolt, and send them away. Some kids actually say thank you as they ride down the steps in front of the shop.
If it doesn't seem important, we try to keep them outside. If the bicycle becomes non-operational or excessively dangerous, then we spring into action. It's always pro-bono, so the shouts of "HOW MUCH THIS? HOW MUCH THIS?" would almost be a good joke, if irritation didn't outweigh the absurdity. Considering that these kids never have a single dollar, the question is always moot.
I like helping with the basic repair needs of urban youth. When kids are polite, it's icing on the cake. I hate sending a kid away with something that we just can't fix for free. If I have the time and opportunity, I always prefer to help.
A polite kid entered the shop just before we closed our doors. He was alone, so he used a normal speaking voice. He had a tolerable volume and seemed to not be in a rush to run outside and fuck stuff up. His chain fell off.
I put the bicycle in the stand, draped the limp chain back over the coaster brake cog, and laid it over the teeth on the chainring. I turned the pedal and rolled the chain back onto the chainring. With a calm and polite manner, this kid told me that the chain was bent, and it wouldn't stay on. He pointed to a twisted link, and I saw that his diagnosis was correct. The chain was beat up pretty bad, and the twisted link meant that he needed a new chain. The shop can't give out free parts. It's not only a bad business decision, but more importantly, it sets a very dangerous precedent.
"How much is a new chain?" He asked shyly.
I didn't both to answer. I knew he didn't have any money, and even if he did, $10 is pretty steep for such a small guy.
"Do you have a few minutes?" I asked. "If you can hang out for a minute, I can try to take care of this."
He had time. So did I. It was the end of the day, so there were no other customers to help. I was just going to go home and smoke some pot, and that can always wait awhile. I clocked myself out, and got to work.
We have a small box of chain cutoffs. When we install a chain, we usually have to remove several links so it will fit. We put those links aside for the rare occasions when we might need to make a chain longer. I found the longest sections I could. In about five or six minutes, I spliced together many short sections until I had enough to make a whole chain. I installed the re-spliced chain, and it was as good as new. I assured the young man he owed me nothing this time. I made sure to explain that we couldn't always fix stuff for free, and hinted that he shouldn't advertise the fact that I had given him something for free. It was a special circumstance, and usually the repair would cost $15.
He nodded, and showed a humble appreciation as I unlocked the front door to let him out. He seemed like a good kid.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
In the many months the trike has lived outside, nobody has bothered to slash a tire. Until today.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
I wouldn't mind starting the upcoming trip from Pittsburgh to D.C. and needing to quit in the middle. I wouldn't mind that, but the associated logistical challenges are a bit overwhelming. If you can't finish by bicycle, someone will have to be called in to drive you home from some point along the trail. Then: does that stop the ride for everyone else? Who continues, and how do they get where they need to be?
As the planner, and the person whose parents are driving us home from D.C., these thoughts give me pause and concern. It makes me realize how much easier it is to go on solo adventures, where planning can give way to an approach of just winging it, and making decisions on the fly. I can fix anything, ride a bicycle anywhere, and hitchhike if it all falls apart. But I can't duck and weave if I'm carrying someone on my shoulders.
Monday, June 4, 2012
Sunday, June 3, 2012
I put the Alpine Bicycle on the front rack of the 104 bus and found a seat halfway back on the bus, just behind the steps that go to the raised section toward the back. I like to look over everyone. I sat there wet and cold. Should I continue with my plan to ride in the dark from West Chester to Kennett, or should I swallow my pride and call in the cavalry?
I text messaged the cavalry.
I rested at Fennario in West Chester for about half an hour. I witnessed local culture in the form of high school kids horsing around. I bought a coffee and took my position as a fly on the wall. I smiled intermittently at kids growing up. I was a happy idiot in high school, and now this next batch of idiots is reminding me to smile. It doesn't mean much. Life doesn't have to mean a whole lot. You can put that worry in a drawer and make the best of monitoring your surroundings. You can sit with scalding coffee and press pause on trying to glean anything of substance.
The cavalry drove up in a minivan. I parted the hormonal sea on the sidewalk, rolled my bicycle into a minivan, and chatted with my folks on the way to Kennett Square.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
Success! The bicycle is light and responsive. It has the predictable handling that I love from an older mountain bike frame. It holds a straight line hands free and is easy to maneuver. That's all I ask.
I locked the doors to the shop, clipped on my helmet, and prepared myself for the first ride. The acceleration was fantastic. I'm used to a heavy bicycle, which is almost always loaded to some degree with something. This light unloaded bicycle really took off. It was fun to go fast, and the bicycle was begging for it. I attacked a few short steep hills. I was absolutely able to FLY uphill, barely slowing down. The thin tubing of the frame felt resilient. It would flex and give a little over rough pavement, small potholes, and trolley tracks. This is a desirable quality in most cases, and I imagined the bicycle as a flying carpet as I sweated at the controls.
You know in baseball when a guy swings two bats around before going up to the plate? Then he swings one bat - it feels light in comparison, and he can crush the ball? On my way home I was crushing it. It was like - really fun.
Friday, June 1, 2012
My winning bid was $184. I consider it a bargain.
The new Alpine Designs bicycle is going to get a thorough overhaul. Being a mountain bike frame from the late 90's, it came equipped with a suspension fork. Since I intend to ride primarily on pavement, my first job was to replace the Manitou fork with a suspension corrected rigid fork by Surly. Done.
I outfitted the Alpine with other stuff that I like: Northroad type handlebars by Soma, and a SRAM X9 gripshift. It has Sugino cranks, and a cheap SRAM derailer that I used on my first-ever bicycle tour (paired to a Shimano 600 downtube shifter!)
I didn't finish today. Instead, I drove the van through a rainy evening to deliver my tandem to Kyler. He's going to borrow it for awhile, 'cause someone should at least be riding it.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
I'm sorta out of the condiment game these days. I actually haven't updated my site in many years. It's a bit of a shame, but I feel like I got way too obsessive about finding new packets, and eventually decided that it wasn't healthy. I've been working to stop my strange tendencies that I feel impede my progress in living a sustainable and comfortable life. I mean... I was thinking about condiment packets from morning to night, non-stop. I'm really proud of the project, but at the same time I just can't make myself lift a finger to get back into it.
I think your idea is a wonderful one, and I wish you the best of luck. Feel free to use whatever images from the Condiment Packet Gallery, but please always remember to link to me if you do.
Best regards,Chris Harne
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
I have rational thoughts, and I am a believer in science. I consider myself to be a spiritual man who is tuned in to the natural world around us. I'm curious. I believe in the ability of humans to communicate wordlessly by focusing on the energy of others. I try to be a humble person with an open mind. But sometimes I'm just a ninny in a moron suit. The farce of it all is bewildering.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Monday, May 28, 2012
I had a great Memorial Day. I spent time outside. I managed to be social and grounded with a good fill of amusement. I had the distinct pleasure of transporting a beautiful girl around in the basket of my adult tricycle, and listening as she told me truth after truth late into the night.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Friday, May 25, 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
It is 7:21pm and I am racing around West Philadelphia with a smug confidence. I am shuffling hits of acid here, and bags of pot hidden in cereal boxes over to there. I am visiting with friends and putting the drugs and money where they need to be. I am a buzzing bee, and I am making out okay on the deal.
Monday, May 21, 2012
Sunday, May 20, 2012
We hopped on our bicycles outside of Kristin's apartment in West Chester. The goal was to ride to a nice orchard and back, completing a hilly but not-so-challenging 12-mile loop. We had to dismount a handful of times, but we did cover the distance. I'm a little bit worried. If we're hopping off to walk now, it's going to take some serious conditioning to be able to complete the mission. Fortunately, we've set aside ten days for the vacation, and there won't be any hills. Still, to me, success seems like a coin toss.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Friday, May 18, 2012
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Monday, May 14, 2012
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Friday, May 11, 2012
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Some routine maintenance probably would have been a good idea. Aside from oil changes, I haven't paid much attention. I've been a little too drunk and I haven't had much money to spare. Small problems have added up, and now it's overheating. I'm hoping that the problem is something simple, but I am afraid it might be a can of worms. I know next to nothing about engines and such, so I took it to a reputable shop near my place in Philly.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Monday, May 7, 2012
Upon transferring the photos from the camera's SD card to a laptop, I found that they all suck. The pictures are dark, and they make my beautiful bicycle parts look like Blemish City. I spent hours, and I will have to start again. Some test-photos would have been in order. Obvious hindsights are a mainstay of my existence.
I feel like an idiot. I feel like a small man. I am not the wise old owl. I am smoking a small bit of ganja from a long simple pipe I found on Etsy.com. I exhale. Calmer now. Looking at my feet.
I want to be the artist who made this pipe. I want to be deep in the jungle. I want to try my hand at bum-camping in Japan. I want to ride bicycles and sell bicycle parts - but I do not want the brain chemistry that so often restricts me. I want to look down at my own two feet and declare with confidence that I stand upon the fucking Earth. I want my molecules to gather and assert: everything is fine. Bad photos are a first-world problem.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Saturday, May 5, 2012
I focused on buying relatively inexpensive parts. I looked for components which I knew would sell for at least double on eBay, and which I suspected would sell for many times more. For example: I bought a lightly used XTR Rapid Rise rear derailleur for $15. It would eventually sell for $76. Not all of the deals can be that good, but that's the kind of thing I was looking for. I'm not above lowballing people, because hey... a lot of times it works.
I did well. Super well. I left with a few boxes of densely packed gold. I probably could have done much better, but I feel no dismay. A person can usually do better, and that goes for all situations. I had a great time.
My mission today - in no part - included buying a tandem. But I saw an amazing tandem that seemed tailor made for me. Plus, it was powdercoated in bright pink. We bargained back and forth and arrived at $600. I'll profit much more than that from my work today, and hey - who needs all this justification, anyway? I handed him the money and I was riding it around solo and having a ball. If it doesn't get used enough, I'll just sell it for more.
Friday, May 4, 2012
I drove up at night, and in a bit of rain. My friend Tim graced shotgun in my van, and eventually we made it. We parked in the big grassy lot which will be densely populated with parked cars tomorrow. Right now, there are a handful of cars, and a handful of tents. Shelly and Brian were already there.
Last time I was here, I was a bit of an ass. I had fun, but I think I made an ass of myself. I accomplished my mission, but I was still drunk at mid-day during the swap. I doubt it hurt my ability to bargain, but I can't claim pride in the caricature I created of myself. I'm being perfectly honest. The same guy got his teeth smashed out. That happened later, but that was the same guy. That man was a fucking dangerous clown. I never want to be him again.
Fast fucking forward: The evening is perfect. I'm standing in the damp grass beside my van. This is me and three friends on a cool night. We're joking and conversing, and I have a bit of ganja in a glass bowl. I'm excited about tomorrow. When I pull in all of the nets, I hope the catch is good.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
The cash register lies ajar. I glance up to make sure the door is locked. From my perch at the point-of-sale, I count cash. I make sure that the register has all the money that is supposed to be there. I compare the credit card slips to what has been recorded by the computer. I cross my fingers that everything is correct, because God knows: simple math is my crowbar to the knee.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
1) I write down what I'm doing every day. Usually, I don't constrict the information to exactly what was happening at 7:21pm. I started this blog with a strict mission to write down what I'm doing at 7:21pm, but I soon started expanding into descriptive explanations of how my heart pumps and I began including details of how lonely and confused I am. Now, with my twenties wrapping up: I'm a bit less uncertain, certainly more grounded, and cynicism is vying for a foothold.
2) I write down something that happens every day. I feel guilty when I don't. This has been going on for longer than this blog has existed. I have been recording minutiae since I could hold a pencil and form a sentence all at once.
3) I write down a detail of my day. Sometimes it happens to be what I was doing at 7:21pm, and sometimes my day was so uneventful that I struggle to record any moment at all. I used to have hundreds of followers, but I've chased away all but fourteen.
4) For awhile, I was proud of what I wrote here. I was one of the bloggers who was writing about moving into a vehicle-based home. It was fresh and exciting. I developed a style that I enjoyed. People commented, and I spent many hours grooming my daily press release. The other vandwelling bloggers all quit years ago. A billion other vandwelling and fulltime RV blogs took their place. I'm still horsing out words when I get to it.
5) I write something. I'm literally phoning it in. I put notes on my phone, intending to expand the information into a blog post later. Too much time goes by, and before too long, I don't even know what the notes are talking about. That's now. That's this date right here.
6) I was obviously on shrooms today. My only note for this date is taken from a text document on my phone. There is a one-word entry. "$hrooms" is what it says. Any other details, I am unable to share.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
"Ummm... can I have an envelope or something?" I would expect a withdraw like this to be much more discreet, and certainly with a fucking envelope. I handed her a slip of paper and spoke quietly. She made a grand announcement to everyone in the bank.
"This man has a couple grand in his pocket! He looks like a bit of a pussy!"
This is swap meet money. I'm going to go to a bicycle swap meet. I'm going to trade paper for aluminum and steel. Then I'm going to sell it all for much better prices on eBay. This is it. This is the only business I can conduct with any level of confidence. This is the only way I know how to make a few thousand dollars fast. Wish me luck that it'll work.
Monday, April 30, 2012
No sweat to me. I don't have a house. I don't want an apartment. Some kind of goosed molecules in my brain are telling me to dig up some dirt. Make a makeshift reality. Fold me up in thirds and mail me straight to hell. If I was designed to be able to deal with anything, then this is the first I'm hearing of it.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
Another thing Kristin says is "Tacos Bell." I can't remember if it's plural or possessive in her mind, but she always says it. On purpose.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012
My legs are sweating under this hot MacBook Pro, and there are custom titanium bicycle frames on the screen. I like to look. Actually, I could afford one of these. The thought occurs to me, and I have to remind myself that being a useless consumer is something that I should leave to the other robot Americans. The argument seemed more convincing when I spent a third of my income on beer and had to do some stretches to pay the rent. Actually, I could afford one of these. Maybe I'll treat myself when the vacillating voices can pick a position, and I can be sure that opulent ownership doesn't deserve a swift kick in the dick.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Kristin made lasagne. After work, I drove out to West Chester and was treated to a nice lasagne in the shared company of Kristin and a couple other dudes who I think are swell folks. We talked and had a fine time, indeed.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Friday, April 20, 2012
Riding a bicycle like this was... actually not so bad. Every once in awhile it's healthy to remind yourself that bicycles are incredibly and surprisingly capable machines. If you need to go a few miles at a medium pace - you're probably going to get there just fine.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Monday, April 16, 2012
I would sit for an hour and sip. Sometimes I would bring a friend. This was the spot.
I was never here with Kristin before today. I passed my spot hands-free and swiftly. This place has a ghost. I cruised through respectfully and remembered telling the pushy cop "NOPE." No, officer. We have not been drinking at all.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
I installed mis-matched trigger shifters with broken bells and whistles. They shift fine, but they're not pretty. The main selling point is how they were free. There's something about the right one that I like. The clear window was bashed apart during shipping - it arrived initially on a brand new boxed bicycle.
Numberless and unsaleable, we had to replace it. A skinny plastic finger still whimpers and shrugs as you click into one of seven gears. The shifter bows it's head and provides humble service - relieved to have a plan B to operate in life. With a home on a hoopty, it'll see more action than if it had arrived undamaged.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
It was 100 degrees outside, and I mean that in the literal sense. Three fucking digits. I was riding my bicycle in a group of four. Me and the usually-fastest guy were off the front. We went ahead of the group and mostly attacked the hills in a spirited surge. As a group, we'd been averaging one hundred miles per day. Three fucking digits, baby.
For the first 80 miles or so, Stuart was stronger. He'd pull ahead, someone else would fall behind, and we'd all meet up whenever - usually near food or water. Today we were in the Ozark mountains. The steep climbs were numerous brick walls between our bicycles and the end of the day. I tried to sustain the momentum of each descent to bring me to the top of the next climb. Everybody was carrying a load of cooking and camping gear on their bicycle, not to mention clothing and tools to fix anything. After about 80 miles or so, I was better able to keep up at the front. Me and Stuart were more or less evenly matched by then.
"If I met the man who designed this road, I would punch him right in the fucking mouth." I said it with mock disdain as I shook my fist in the why-I-oughta manner.
We had sweat in our eyes, we couldn't drink enough water, and we were on the 95th mile of the day. We both started laughing too hard to keep momentum. We climbed hills and we volleyed nonsense. It's one of my favorite memories.
Friday, April 13, 2012
I rode down to where I was working, and gave the boss my two weeks notice - but I made it clear that I'd rather be finished right then. He wished me luck and we shook hands. I was filled with the warm optimism and freedom of a guy who just quit a job that he didn't like.
I put an ad in the paper that day. "Bicycles Wanted: Get some garage space back and make a little money. Call Chris." It was a success. Within a few days I was taking calls and trying to get descriptions of bicycles over the phone to see if they might be worth the trip. I checked Craigslist and found a basement storage space for $100 per month. I explained my plan to the person renting the space, and it was clear that he just wanted the money. It was a dirty basement, but it had plenty of space. I cleaned it up a little bit and made a respectable mechanic station.
I was an alcoholic. I had a bad unmedicated case of ADHD. But I could fix bicycles pretty darn well.
I made the rent easily. I could pay my bills with little effort. I didn't run my business very well, and it didn't matter much. I made my own hours, didn't work too much, and I owned the summer. I owned the city and I owned the summer. When I needed a little bit of money, I would cruise up to the shop and fix some bicycles. I took some photos, and the next day I would list them on Craigslist. It was a cinch. I even managed to get a wholesale account for parts and supplies. I got a free business licence online in about 5 minutes and that's all it took.
In a sense I was doing well. In spite of myself I was surviving with a modicum of comfort. I wasn't maximizing profits or making good decisions. I was completely inefficient, and still I was fine. When rent was due, I would get a bag of tall Bud Ice cans and go to the workshop. I would get a 40oz Mickey's and ride to the place where I kept my wrenches.
The basement was dirty. I filled it with bicycles. I screwed hooks into the beams overhead and hung dozens of bicycles. I had milk crates full of spare parts. I was reasonably organized, and if I had a major downfall business-wise, it's that I put too much effort into the bicycles and I was too discerning when choosing what I would work on. I had good products at a good price.
The basement was beat up, and the house above me was rented by the room. It was one step above a squat, and the guy who collected the rent used a fake first name and never gave a last. My basement space had a big hole in one wall and it wasn't possible to tell what was on the other side. It looked like a place to stash skeletons, or maybe a forgotten stop on the Underground Railroad. I pissed in tall empty beer cans and tossed them through to the other side. There are one hundred piss-filled cans of Bud Ice at 4908 Cedar Avenue.
Winter came. I got scared that business would shrivel up, and I became worried that I wouldn't be able to sustain my situation. I got a part time job shoveling horse shit at a stable in Fairmount Park. It was a nice job, actually. One day I got a call at work. The house where I had my workshop had changed hands, and the new guy wanted $400 per month. He also wanted my last name, which I told him was something like Jones. I explained that I wasn't keen on quadrupling my rent, and I managed to talk my way around any final decision. I avoided his calls.
Two months later, a new padlock appeared on the door. That woke me up. I went back and told my girlfriend Shelly what was going on. I brought her along in my pickup truck and we parked out front. I kicked in the door and took out all of my tools first. I took the best bicycles and most of the parts. I left the cans of piss and garbage.
I still don't think I'm very good at taking care of myself. Shelly tolerated me for awhile longer after that. She's my boss at the bicycle shop now. There's a bathroom in this one. And medical benefits.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
A grisly Philadelphian rolled up on a Diamond Back Outlook. We proceeded with the requisite inane pleasantries until I forked over the bills. He was apologizing for the mechanical condition of the bicycle, and I almost had to cut him off. I totally didn't care. The sale was in the bag. Fixing bicycles is what I do.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
The title could barely be less descriptive. I click anyway. The title has the same effect as a link which screams "DON'T CLICK THIS." Or what, I think... or what? So I clicked the link, and the picture surprised me. It was a Diamond Back Outlook. It was a year or two older than my Hoopty Diamondback... before they decided to go all compound word. The ad said to make an offer via txt.
I didn't want to lowball, but I didn't want to spend too much. I didn't need this thing, but I knew I'd have to get it anyway. $60. I sent my offer with a polite little message.
I agreed to meet him in Northeast Philly, and I agreed to pay $70. Sure, I said. I gave him a call and banged out the details.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Monday, April 9, 2012
He was a nice guy, and I drank a Mountain Dew. Now Shelly has a moped.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Saturday, April 7, 2012
I don't want to drink. More accurately, I have decided not to drink. I have made this decision - and it's a good one - and I'm standing in silent pain. My insides are writhing. I don't want to leave too soon. I wish I was more social, but the movements and words are not with me. I eat chips.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Monday, April 2, 2012
I listed eBay auctions all day. I didn't exactly ask for a raise at work, but I got one. I think I'm well worth it. At this shop - I'm certainly worth it. But I'm getting paid better than I would be elsewhere. It kinda locks me into my current position and situation. But right now: I'm good with that. I'm in a good place in life.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Friday, March 30, 2012
As I laid in bed last night, my mind drifted back to the words. My stupid email. All I needed to do was write the words and put them right in the trash. But I didn't. I hit 'send' instead and I felt like a real idiot. I used big words, pegged myself as a wuss, and probably sounded condescending and naive all at once.
But it worked. It worked! I placed my hands at her sides and pulled her close to me. I kissed her and held her head to my chest. It's better now. Somehow it's even better than it was. My words had a resonance. Our senseless breakup fell to the floor. We're back together. If we break up again, at least there will be an actual reason. It was the breaking up while deeply in love that itched like rancid madness.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
When someone leaves the room, what you don't want to do is look at their email. The tab was open, and I didn't want to look at it. She's back on OkCupid. Fuck. Fuck that was fast. It's none of my business, and I felt like I punched myself in the stomach. I felt sick, and I wanted to run away. I wanted to go home and stop talking. I didn't want to be mean, I just wanted to preserve my own feelings and take care of myself. Instead, I opted to shut the fuck up and be cool about drowning. It's ok. These are the rules. She ditched the best guy ever for a dice roll on a dull-normal. I don't like her odds, and I don't like the way I'm feeling.
The night was nice. I liked being with her, and wondered if this would be the last time.
Monday, March 26, 2012
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Friday, March 23, 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
I'm thinking - as always - about the Van-Land Savings Plan. It's a good plan with a dumb name. Where will I end up? West Chester, Philadelphia? Somewhere else? When I have $10,000 I'll start looking closer. Until then, it doesn't matter much. No money, no land. I'll have nearly $3,000 by the end of the month. I have no idea how that's possible. I know that it helps to quit drinking and start taking Adderall. But these numbers seem suspect. I double checked: yes - I'm doing pretty good here.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Saturday, March 17, 2012
She stayed over. I didn't look at her. I tried not to touch. I went to bed early and didn't say much or move unless I absolutely had to. I was frozen. Sunken and frozen in place. I'm fine.
I'm fine. I should be with someone who wears practical shoes. I should be with someone who wants to get dirty and sleep outside. It doesn't mean I don't love her.
Now I'm focused on the Van-Land Savings plan, and that seems to have dredged up an old conversation: the future. We're good now, but we'll have different needs later. I knew that. She's a smart cookie too. I don't want to lose this friendship. We have this great strong wonderful communication. I want to keep her under my arm and relish any connection we can retain.
And I want to feel okay. I don't want to sadly conclude it.
Friday, March 16, 2012
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
I bought some shipping supplies online that will make shipping easier. When the next batch of auctions is finished, I will attempt to delve into the world of shipping from home. All I have to figure out is printing labels and buying postage online. A package scale and a fat stack of boxes in a useful size are on the way. I'm also getting comfortable with knowing what factors effect shipping costs, and how to estimate and package items efficiently.
I'm back to full time hours at the bicycle shop. We're getting busy as the weather gets nice again. With eBay and Craigslist sales generating a decent income, I might be able to stash the entire sum of my paychecks into the Van-Land Savings Plan.
Monday, March 12, 2012
I started to get tired and cross-eyed, but I picked through the pile of parts and it felt great to be finished.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
It's 7:21pm. My van is packed to the brim with bicycles to sell on Craigslist and a batch of tools and parts to sell for the shop. I will be busy as hell tomorrow. I will be busy, but it won't be stressful. It's not like I'm working in a coal mine or something. I'll be snapping photos and drinking coffee with a computer in my lap. I can do that.
I found a wood stove that should work nicely for a medium-sized decommissioned transit bus. It even has a cute name: The Sardine.
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Friday, March 9, 2012
I'm saving hard for the Van-Land Savings Plan. I'm beyond my goals, and I've surpassed my expectations. If I stay on track, I'll be successful sooner than I ever thought possible. But I still have a road ahead.
At 7:21pm I'm talking to Bob about today's topic: holiday traditions. We try hard to keep talking. We pass the ball back and forth coming up with new things to say for the whole ten minutes. He sounds older, and I sound drastically different with every person I talk to. I hope that helps...