Monday, December 31, 2012

Celebrating New Years with suits.

Oh, I'm sassy. I put on my sassy attire because this is New Years. This is New Years and all these fuckers are wearing suits. Nobody told me about that.

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

Spending time in Princeton MA

A day like this doesn't take much out of a guy. I woke up well after the sun had a head start. I emerged from a nest made under a down blanket, and the room was already up to... say... 50 degrees!

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

Vacation in and around Boston.

Vacation starts now. Kristin and I packed a few things and a small dog into her small car. We cleaned the room so we can return to a tidy den in 2013. Then we left.

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

The count was off.

7:21pm: Upset about a till that doesn't add up after work. $9.80 short, and I can't manage to work out why.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Eating food that is real food.

Dear Journal,

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

Eating better food starting now.

I didn't realize to what extent my typical diet is horrendous. Fortunately, a documentary filled me in. As the movie played, Kristin and I watched the experts explain the details about what I already sorta knew. The folks in the documentary didn't seem judgmental, just factual. I was left to scold myself.

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

Tiny House seems likely.

Dear Journal,
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

A pleasant Christmas Eve.

Dear Journal,
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

A fucked up lot and a slap that won't happen.

I was up until 3am reading about FHA-insured mortgages and HUD houses. I'm trying to collect and examine the marbles in my brain. I'm counting the marbles again to make sure they're all there. A stroke of genius one moment is instant lunacy in the next.

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

Running low on drugs.

Dear Journal,
Freezing shitty no-Adderall day. Running out of weed, and don't know how to restock. Plus holidays might make that difficult. Not happy. Walked to work and back. Got home exhausted, hungry, and ... exhausted.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mortgages | Walking

Dear Journal,
Home alone. Ate pasta. Watched some Twin Peaks, etc. Looked up info on mortgages and learned in detail exactly how much I CAN'T afford or EVER be expected to be approved for. I'll find some answer. Walked to work and back.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Work and whatnot.

Dear Journal,
Shelly is going away for awhile. I finished building a small 3-Speed for Nat at work. I got a ride in with Kristin and walked home.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cleaning spills and meeting the new roomie.

Dear Journal,
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

Obsessive and ready.

Dear Journal,
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

Christmas shopping.

Gift selection comes slowly and anti-consumerism muffles the prospects. I threw some money at it. Four websites and some PayPal payments will earn me a passing grade. I bought no gift too corporate, and hopefully I erred toward the accidentally practical. Did you know you wanted this? It's flavored salt. It's a clay snail from Etsy.

For Kristin? Colorful polygons in a row. Three rings from Etsy and a fourth from another artsy source.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Holiday party includes floppy shrimps.

Shrimp and seitan.
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

Social visits, heavy on the skin and smiles.

Dave stopped by my place. We talked. While we sat and chatted, the young friend of my new roomie decided to stop in. He was somewhat strangely shirtless in the cold air, and the contents of my shelves seemed to hold his interest. He asked for nail clippers. I presented two options: 1) I have the larger nail clippers that most people associate with toes. 2) I have small and precise surgical steel clippers which resemble tiny diagonal cutters. Maybe he had a hangnail? No dice. These were not the correct clippers.

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


It's 7:21pm and I'm looking at spatulas on eBay. I'm not looking at any particular type. I'm focusing the search on old ones with character which are nevertheless inexpensive. I do not need a spatula.

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

Reading an eBook about building a cabin.

I bought an eBook from a guy in Utah who lives in a 14x14 foot cabin that he built by himself - even the roof, though he strongly recommends you get a couple extra hands for that part. It's quaint. The eBook and the guy's cabin. The book gives step-by-step directions which have just the right amount of detail for someone like me who is extremely novice but not completely useless. He doesn't explain how to screw two boards together, but he takes the time to explain what somebody with building experience might take for granted.

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

A fairly typical day.

I took a ride to work in a car. There's always the feeling that a gasoline-assisted ride to work is a cop out. On some level I actually believe that, but on a more important level I enjoyed a ride to get a breakfast sandwich with my baby. Egg, cheese and tomato on a kaiser roll - call it in; pick it up. They know me when I get there.

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

Choosing sushi puts my life in perspective.

Certain actions put my life back in perspective. I'm a reasonably pampered white kid (30-year-old), but sometimes it's too easy to frown and forget about the joys of life. Life gets too real-surreal sometimes, and it's tempting to complain. I always picture myself doing something better. I never picture myself in prison or a wheelchair. Things could be worse.

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

Alright, fuckface: Get a coffee from Wawa.

The weather is absolutely devoid of sun. For another day-in-a-row, I've been living inside a cloud. Not good. I drove to Kennett Square and stopped at Home Depot on the way.

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

Driving to the grocery store.

Well, I lost it. No palm trees? Fuck this.

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

Dinner date at Desi Village.

Kristin cleaned the kitchen with some help from the new guy. I hid in the room and pretended to begin understanding AutoCAD.

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

Grape leaves and simple systems.

The winter weather is moving in, and I'm beginning to feel sluggish. I'm slow to wake up, slower to smile, and customers are walking into the bicycle shop with much less frequency. I tackle a few minor repairs, make sure that the money made it to the register, and then I go home.

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

Buying weed and books.

At 7:21pm, I was buying some weed and socializing with friends. All I talk about is bicycles, and it's hard to imagine what I would be doing without bicycles as a hobby-job. I need to branch out and expand. Those were my thoughts as I purchased a thick learning manual for AutoCAD from Amazon.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Watching "Red Dawn."

I watched "Red Dawn." It was terrible.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The path of unnecessary resistance.

I spent the night in Kennett. I like this. I like visiting the big cozy house. There's coffee on demand, and the meals are catered. My parents have a high level of acumen and prowess when it comes to stability and comfort. Granite counter tops and a remotely controlled fireplace are examples of what you get from the long con. If you stay focused on the normal path, you can reap the rewards shortly after 60. You have to play the game for a long time, but the machine definitely pays out.

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

Cussing and building. Planning and drilling.

I don't always impress myself. Cussing and a near-breakdown are a possibility around every corner. It's genetics - you should check out my dad - but I have to live with myself, so I have to take responsibility. I'm trying to implement changes and stay productive. I'm trying to make goals and reach them. Realistically, all I can do is go slowly and try not to kick a hole in the wall.

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

Got AutoCAD running on my machine.

I didn't think it would be easy to get AutoCAD on my computer. First, I thought it was only for PC and I'd have to do some Mac runaround that I'm unfamiliar with. Parallel what-nots or what-have-yous. Second, it's expensive as hell. I assumed that if a program was being sold for thousands of dollars, then it would be difficult to pirate.

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

Surthrival of the almost comfortable.

Bright striped socks; microfiber leggings. Not quite pants. I'm looking for a method of forgetting about pants and keeping my legs warm in shorts. I got some one-size mustard-color leggings, and managed to tug them all the way on. With sexxy thigh-high socks over top, the insulating quality was still not the same as cheap pants - but I did enjoy a quick return to faded black shorts. This climate is the pits.

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

Walking in preparation.

It's 7:21pm. I'm walking home from work, and I walked here earlier. It's about a 7-mile round trip, and I make it with quick springy steps. I do this sometimes. It's a new thing.

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

Pop a bullet through my foot.

I have more "project bicycles" than bicycles which can be ridden - by a factor of holyshit. In fact, I have just one bicycle which you can hop on pedal. It's the Hoopty, and it's always open for business. I have at least ten bicycles that are in various states of completion. I work on all of them slightly and slowly. I build wheels and the bicycles and the wheels just stare at each other in a mechanical stalemate.

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

Fish and dogs.

I got up and went to breakfast. I've been having salmon and cream cheese on a sesame bagel. I switched it up a few months ago, and it stuck. I had a coffee. Yesterday, Shelly asked if I wanted to have breakfast, and that's what I'm up to. Kristin is here, and Evan showed up a little later.

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

Winter hours.

I have another day off. As the air gets colder, and fewer people are riding bicycles, I am changing to Winter hours. It needed to happen, and I requested it now. I have many projects to work on, my savings plan is ahead of schedule, and now I can schedule a day off with Kristin every week. A day off together is a luxury we haven't had in the past year, and three days off in a row gives me enough free time to feel like a human again.

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

I plan to build a workbench.

My room is a mess. There are four bicycles, and that doesn't count the frame that's spilling out into the hallway. That stack also has nothing to do with the 5 bicycles in my van. My room also houses rims and tires. A lot. Thingamabobs? I've got plenty.

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

Today? It didn't cross my mind.

I'm 30 now. I turned 30 about a month ago. Life is great.

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

He seemed like a good kid.


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.


Kids come in yelling and interrupting.


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

Why'all Gotta Slash My Tire, Bitch?

I went outside this morning, and walked toward my trike. The trike is permanently parked outside, because I definitely cannot keep it inside. There is literally no space. It's not a matter of inconvenience or apathy - I live in a half-finished attic, and there are like... a thousand steps and doors between the street and my room. I already have two bicycles stashed in a common hallway up a flight of stairs. The trike is about as practical to keep inside as a horse farm would be.

In the many months the trike has lived outside, nobody has bothered to slash a tire. Until today.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Appalachian Trail. In Documentary Form, Anyway...

On this night, I sat in my apartment in Philadelphia. I was in my cozy-comfy squatter-shack attic, and I was sitting in a golden-upholstered chair. I sat with a laptop burning my legs, and watched a documentary about the Appalachian Trail. I'm still thinkin' about it...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Upcoming Bicycle Tour: "We Ain't Ready..."

Man, we ain't ready for no fuckin' bicycle trip. Me and Kristin took a short ride in Landenberg. Ill preparedness was apparent on all levels. The bicycle isn't outfitted properly, and we're still walking on hills.

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

Day off

I took a day off. I relaxed and spent time at Kristin's in Landenberg.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Getting to Kennett by bike, bus, and minivan.

I left work and locked the doors. The sky looked like it wanted to say something unpleasant. I rode quickly toward the 69th Street Terminal, and about five minutes away, the sky couldn't shut up any longer. I was immediately drenched. In less than a minute, I was fully saturated. Then it hailed.

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

My "Alpine Designs" bicycle takes flight.

I got the Alpine Designs bicycle in rideable form. This project had a lot of questions. Buying a frame sight-unseen from eBay is a gamble. You don't know how it will feel until you ride it. Swapping out the fork is a further gamble. Success is a bicycle that handles properly, is comfortable, and is fun to ride. Success is uncertain until you can ride the bicycle - pictures and words cannot provide all the answers.

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 new Alpine Designs bicycle.

I'm still at work after closing. I'm running cables and housing on a new bicycle that is mine. I purchased a homely frame from eBay. It is a TIG welded frame built with Reynolds 853 - an exceptional, lightweight, and high quality tube set. The frame is labeled "Alpine Designs," which a bit of research reveals to be a short-lived Sports Authority house brand. To devalue the frame further, it is painted white and is dull and a bit scuffed up.

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

The Condiment Packet Gallery

I still get emails about The Condiment Packet Gallery. Several per week. Many of them are requests for interviews for local television. Reporters ask me to film myself so they can pitch my story. Some are willing to send a camera crew. Other collectors email me to exclaim excitement. I also hear from lots of students who want to ask me questions to fill space for a paper which they were assigned for a class they are bothering to complete. I usually don't respond. I feel a little bit guilty about it, but I check a box next to the email, and I hit delete.

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

Not always.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ninny in a Moron Suit.

... and again with the anxiety. Frustration, anger. I lost a clip to one of the curtains in my van, and you'd think it was a tragedy. I'm embarrassed at my lack of control over my emotions. I can stand back and look at myself acting like a fool, but I can't raise a hand to stop that person, or convince the man to take a deep breath.

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

Shipping eBay on a stressless day.

I had a nice breakfast before driving to Kennett on this warm and beautiful day. I prepared many bicycle parts to be shipped, and everything seems like a peach.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Strong Case for Weak Acid.

The first hit of acid sure didn't do much. I spent a couple hours waiting... nothing. The second one felt like it might be up to something. It really took until the third one before I felt the recognizable presence of drug-like feelings afoot. Plenty of people were trying this stuff, and it's always funny when it's around for some reason. I've been here; I've been there. I have an understanding and respect for recreational drugs, and I was comfortable with the low and responsible dosage.

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

Adderall is a pill. Unfortunately, it's not magic.

Well, that didn't last long. Sometimes taking a small dose of Adderall makes me feel organized - like I'm surfing on top of the wave of small tasks vying for my attention. Sometimes, the wave still crashes down on me. It's a pill. Not magic.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Feeling Productive and Such.

I took a couple days off of Adderall. I don't want to get used to it to the point that I can't use it as a tool when I need it. The break worked for me, and I felt productive and organized at work. At 7:21pm, I was swapping pedals from one bicycle to another. Just one of the many tasks that I do all day every single day I work.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Usual Things.

I'm home alone. I'm eating cereal and watching TV shows.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mac n' Cheese, Cereal, and a Big Honkin' Bong.

The Bodega on the corner started selling bongs. Big cheap gnarly glass ones. I decided to treat myself to a big affordable bastard of a pipe. Impulse buy. It's the first thing I've purchase there that isn't mac n' cheese or cereal.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Van: Clanking Like a Jackass.

Life isn't perfect. The van started to clank around like a jackass, so I had to take it back to the garage. It sounds like I'm randomly running over loose manhole covers, and I'm pretty sure that's not great. I looked underneath the van, and I poked around at a few things before remembering "oh yeah - I don't know the first fucking thing about any of this."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Honey Bee Shuffles Recreational Drugs.

I have a Sun Ringle rear hub on my Diamondback Outlook. The Hoopty emits the loud reassuring buzz of a bicycle with an expensive cassette hub. It isn't an expensive bicycle, and I didn't pay anything at all for the hub.

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

Camera Tip: Use "Auto-Mode," Dipshit.

Here's an idea. If you're not a photographer - which I am certainly not - then consider taking pictures in Auto Mode. I re-took all those photos that I fucked up awhile ago, and now I have hundreds of photos of shiny bicycle parts that look like someone might actually want to own them.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Training Ride for the Upcoming C&O Canal Trip

I'll call it a training ride. Me and Kristin have decided to ride bicycles from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. along the flat and pretty Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal. The difficult part is that Kristin hasn't ridden bicycles as much as I have. I could ride it tomorrow in my sleep, but as a team we still need practice.

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

Picked up the van.

I picked up the van, and the first drive seemed good. I drove out to West Chester, and it seems to be running like a top.

Friday, May 18, 2012

More of the same...

No notes on 5/18. More of the same?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Downloading TV shows.

On a recommendation, I downloaded the first season of Boardwalk Empire. Kristin came over, and we watched the first episode.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Old Bottom Brackets for Fun and Profit.

I got a ride back to the 104 bus this morning. I was at work by noon. I sold a swap-meet-bought Dura Ace bottom bracket for $60. It was the older "cup and cone" style with Italian threaded cups. Instant cash, good profit. After work, I installed a different cup and cone bottom bracket in a frame. It didn't say Dura Ace, but with a careful hand doing the installation and maintenance, it will perform just as well. This lesser Suntour unit was spared from the recycling bin.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I spent the day doing nothing and being satisfied about it.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Listing eBay and Eating Fried Chicken

I'm in Kennett Square now. I'm eating fried chicken with my family, and I'm taking a break from listing bicycle parts on eBay. I have 50 auctions running, and the harvest has only begun.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

104 Bus Leaves Me Wondering.

I'm on a bus to West Chester. My bicycle is on the front rack of the bus, and I'm thinking of all the other times I've been on this bus headed to West Chester. The 104 from 69th Street Station. Students, losers, and a doofus with a bike. The scenery gets greener as the hour passes, and I'm always left to wonder where I belong. Geographically, and in every other possible sense.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Social Porch Gatherings and Time Spent.

I'm not the social genius I was when I was drinking. And if I wasn't a social genius, I at least knew how to kill some time in a boisterous manner. Now - today, in fact - I am feeling lucky to spend time on a crowded porch. I manage to smile a few times, and resist the temptation treat my t-shirt like a turtle shell. I sold one of my bicycles for some money, and I didn't run home at the first sign of Holy Shit.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Van: Repair Estimate.

The garage called. My van has a lot going on, and it will cost a little over $2,000 to fix it all. I recognize that it might be smart to think about moving on to a more sensible vehicle. At the same time, $2,000 isn't so bad if it gets me a reliable vehicle for a couple more years, which seems likely. I suspect that the garage has access to my bank account information, because the repair bill seems very oddly close to the exact amount I have on deposit in my savings account. Fine. They can have it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

On the edge of feeling alright.

I have worries. My general worry level was up a little bit at work, and I was feeling drained. Evan is a great guy. He's a co-worker and a friend. He has the ability to radiate positive energy, and I was thankful to ride bicycles with him and stand next to him as he bought a couple items at Whole Foods. I was able to stuff my brain back into my skull an arrive home in better shape than I left.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Van trouble: overheating.

I love having a van. I'm nostalgic about my time spent traveling in my van, and the portions of three winters that I spent living in my van in Key West. But, it's been awhile. I haven't needed my van for much real van stuff. I've neglected my van, and I've even come close to selling it. I wish there was a "just in case" spot that I could park it for free. If I really needed it, I could come back, throw off a huge tarp, and start it up.

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

Cottage Cheese Management Principles.

I love cottage cheese. I have a spoon in my hand right now, but I could almost be drinking the stuff. If I could be sustained on cottage cheese, I doubt I would ever miss the common ham sandwich. I would eat a burrito of cottage cheese with a cottage cheese burrito shell. I am filling my glove compartment with cottage cheese, because this van is registered to "fuck you."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bad Photos are a First World Problem.

I took a ton of pictures today. I used my mom's awesome and expensive digital camera to take hundreds of photographs of bicycle parts.

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 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

The van might be running hot...

I drove out to Kennett Square today, as I typically do once per week to visit my family for a couple days. It looks like my van is running a little hot. Precious.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Mission: Buy it and sell it for more.

The nets were bountiful. I found many bicycle parts. I walked in circle after circle, making dozens of deals. I only managed to spend $1100. I was left to wonder if I should have opened my dragnet further or relaxed my criteria. Maybe I should have loosened my grip on my envelopes of cash, and rolled the dice a little more often. In this house, anyway, the odds are most often in my favor.

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

The night before the swap meet at Trexlertown, PA.

At 7:21pm I was getting ready for the swap meet. I drove up to Trexlertown, PA, and I'm hoping for success. I'm hoping to find a lot of undervalued bicycle parts. I'm hoping that I can bargain my way into a few boxes of parts worth a few thousand dollars more than what I'll pay.

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

Closing Time: The Bicycle Shop Routine.

Many days seem remarkably similar. That's the way it is when you work a full-time job. 7:21pm often finds me in a nearly identical place - mentally; geographically - my ass is literally gracing the top of the same wooden stool.

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

Here's how this blog is working right now.

Here's how this blog is working right now:

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

$2500 in 10's and 20's. Please mug me.

I went to the bank and withdrew $2500 in 10's and 20's. That's most of my savings, but not quite all of it. I'm not a rich guy. This is probably the most money I've seen in cash. She held it out to me in a big stack like it was a basket of french fries.

"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!"

Thanks, woman.

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

File under "goosed."

I'm listening to a guy talk about a goosed neutral. That's a technical term with an adjective before it. Goose is a catch-all word for me. What's really happening here is that I'm standing on the sidewalk in West Chester. A PECO employee is explaining to both me and Kristin that the electrical wires which lead to her house are fucked up. They're goosed. Her power is going to keep on going out.

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

Sizzla sounds great.

I'm driving to West Chester listening to Sizzla. I can't explain why I like Sizzla so much. He's a nice guy who smokes a lot of weed. So, that's a start. I enjoy novelty. That helps. I do like Sizzla, and my enjoyment has no measure of irony. I checked.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Anti-social Lucky Charms eater.

I didn't feel like going to a show at The Fire. Probably because The Fire is a bar. My social-shit is in disarray. Considering this, and all the same - I don't feel like going out to a crunk-o bar tonight. Tonight is my night. Tonight I will sit in a chair and eat Lucky Charms.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Netflix. "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels."

I'm watching a movie on Netflix. It's "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels."

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

Netflix. "Way of the Gun"

I'm watching a movie on Netflix. It's "Way of the Gun." Kristin calls it "Netfox" because it amuses her to call thing what they are not.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hands in the till.

It's 7:21pm. I'm counting the till, checking the receipts and trying to figure out my own dumb mistakes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hanging out with my Mom.

I'm hanging out with my mom. We're getting food from Giordano's and bringing it to the polls. It's election day. My dad volunteers to sit at a folding table while people vote. You write your name in a book, and my dad gives you a ballot. We brought those guys some food.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Consumerism and a swift kick in the dick.

I'm doing good on money. Better than I ever have before this point. It's 7:21pm, and I have a hot laptop resting on my legs. I am sitting on the couch in Kennett, and both of my parents are sitting in their spots. Changes come slowly out in these parts.

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

Adderall and unrelated fine times.

I took a couple days off with the Adderall. I've been taking low dose or no dose hoping that it'll work better when I actually need it to. It seems like a good plan.

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

Sweat, housing, and what you put in cereal.

I'm dripping sweat in my hot room while eating Lucky Charms from the bodega. I use apple juice instead of milk, because milk is a finicky liquid. I learned that trick from when I lived in a van. Now I'm looking at cool vans on the internet. The Airstream B190 is more like a house. Man. I would love to be eating some Lucky Charms up in one of those bitches.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Kinetic Mayhem vs. Capable Machine

7:21pm. I'm riding home on the new stock Diamond Back. Not my wonderful Hoopty - the new Diamond Back with a space between the words. The headset is loose, and everything is totally fucked up. Everything about this bicycle was bad enough before it needed repairs, and now this bicycle is reaching a high level of kinetic mayhem. Sirens are going off.

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

Riding west after a meeting at work.

We had a meeting after work. The meeting covered topics, and afterward we ate pizza. We are a strong group, and it's hard to imagine how we got so many good people to all work at the same store. I rode home to West Philly in a gang of five. It's simple rides like this which assure me repeatedly that bicycles are great. Strong legs and a simple conveyance have brought me much joy in life.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The opposite of dinner plans.

I ate a whole fucking box of Kashi. That's dinner, folks.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Adderall and Awakenings

There's a movie called Awakenings. Some sort of experimental drug is found to wake patients from a long vegetative state. Eventually, no dose of this drug is high enough to keep the patients awake. In the interim, they are very much alive and self-aware. I'm dealing with a weak version of the same story. First, I took a tiny dose of Adderall, and before you knew it, my library card was renewed and I was running an eBay business. Now I'm taking the normal prescribed amount, and the results sometimes fall short of miraculous. I'll be damned if I'll touch the dosage. But I'm afraid I might go back to sleep.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Training ride, and a friendly ghost in the woods.

I went on a training ride this morning. Eight miles is a training ride. I showed Kristin the small hidden road that's closed to traffic. Late at night, I used to ride here. When I lived in West Chester, this was one of my spots. I would arrive drunk and drinking and park my bicycle late at night. I would sit; I would lay down. Myself and my bicycle would be prone on the pavement as I would look up through the leaves. I could just make out the moon, and my eyes would slowly adjust. In my memory, it was always summer.

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

Damaged shifters get a lease on life.

Today. The weather - for the first time this season - is indisputably wonderful. I finished a 9-hour bicycle-fixing shift at work, and then got started on personal stuff. Fixing bicycles. I put some new shifters on Kristin's bicycle. 

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

I'd punch him right in the fucking mouth.

"If I met the man who designed this road, I would punch him right in the fucking mouth."

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

The Story Of My Self Employment

I used to be self employed. It was 2006 and I'd just moved to Philadelphia. My job wasn't cutting it and I thought I could do better on my own. I looked in the mirror and cut a fresh mohawk.

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

Diamond Back. Fixing bicycles is what I do.

The day began well. I woke up and drove to the Wawa where I agreed to meet the guy selling the Diamond Back. I was early and I was in a great mood. The sun was upon me as I strutted inside to get a hoagie and a huge coffee. This is my version of a celebration. I derive great joy from sitting in a van and eating a big fat sandwich. I absolutely delight myself. You'd think I just cured cancer.

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

Another Diamond Back Outlook.

I'm sitting on my golden chair. I'm in my grand Philadelphia apartment where a stack of phonebooks replace a missing leg on this magnificent piece of furniture. I scan Craigslist for bicycles, and an ALL CAPS title begs me to click.


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

Slobbering and knuckleballs.

I'm picking my teeth and biting my moustache. I'm chewing the errant hairs at the corners of my mouth. As NPR is playing an interview, I am learning about knuckleballs while slobbering on my own face. It's all in a bid for comfort.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Going along to get a Motobecane moped

I went with Shelly to buy a beautiful Motobecane moped from a guy in West Grove. She called me at my parents house as she was on her way from Philly. "Yup," I said. I'll go.

He was a nice guy, and I drank a Mountain Dew. Now Shelly has a moped.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

AFV and Auctions.

I'm watching the America's Funniest Videos program with my parents. My attention is focused on listing bicycle tools on eBay.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A monument who eats chips.

I stood next to the wall. The liquor took up the wall on the other side of the small room. The liquor looked much more comfortable. I poured a glass of NON ALCOHOLIC iced tea-ish drink. Yep. If you use a short glass and add some little ice cubes, you can barely tell you're not pounding whiskey. I think everyone else is getting drunk. These girls are made up, and they're wearing clothes that people go out in. I'm surprised how much I don't know anyone here. I'm surprised how much I can't just begin meeting them. I feel ridiculous. It's strange in a way, because for once I am very NON-ridiculous. I'm just a dude here. I am the most average dude ever.

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

Girlfriend visits

Kristin comes over late.

(Kinda slacking on these updates... I went a little sparse on my notes, and this is all I've got.)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Pizza Party

Pizza party night at Shelly-Arden's. They get dough, people bring toppings, we all eat.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Listening to Mike Doughty

Mike Doughty is good to listen to again. That's what I'm doing.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

America equals burger-coke.

At 7:21pm I was sitting across from my mother and father. The three of us were perched around a table at McDonalds. A coupon brought us here. Now I'm eating a tiny double cheeseburger and drinking a Coke. Us 'Mercans got it good.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ribs and a raise.

I'm at Chilis with my family. Half rack of ribs? Make it a whole. Two different flavors, please.

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

Toward Landenberg.

Leaving Philly in a misty rain. I have my sights set on Landenberg.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Swooping on the Hoopty.

I'm running around with illegal mushrooms in a box of Lucky Charms. I'm making a delivery and swooping around West Philadelphia on the Hoopty. I drop off drugs and find a perch on my friend's porch. I have no plans for the next hour, so I sit out in the cool night and we talk about life. We talk about life and relationships and the future until my phone rings. It's a pleasant evening with a light misty rain. I swing a leg over my bicycle and float home toward my attic abode.

Friday, March 30, 2012

I pulled her close. It's better now.

Ah, fuck. Fuckity fuck that fucking email. Me and words don't stop. I can't just quit with the words and let nature take its course.

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

Truthful words. Well wishes.

I had a lot of thoughts when I got home from work. I had a lot of words and phrases. I had bits of communication that I wanted to impart. 

I wrote Kristin an email. It was up in the air whether I wanted her to visit me again. I don't relish torture, so this was a tough decision. I can see the girl that I desperately want to see, but it might feel better if I just stick my dick in a garbage disposal. Or do acid and jump off a fucking roof. 

It was tempting, but I decided it might be better not to see her: a little bit of space; a lot less pain. Instead of being rude, I just constructed the email. Truthful words. Well wishes.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Really not so great...

Notta great mood. Thought I might try some mushrooms, but decided to probably wait until it's warm outside. I ate mac n' cheese and stared at a laptop until bedtime. Really not so great.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Visiting a girl I used to know.

I went to Kristin's. I sat on her bed and awkwardly persisted to be a version of myself. All the same, except sitting on some girl's blankets. 

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

Feeling shitty and learning about propane.

I'm feeling like shit about Kristin. I don't need to get back together, I just want to feel normal again. I researched more bullshit about off-grid housing. Wood stoves are out; installing my own propane system is in. I care about my health, and a certain article gave me pause.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I could be better.

I feel kind of like a ghost. I'm watching myself from beside myself and observing my emotions. Kyler is a good guy. he knew I was feeling terrible and he gave me a hug and invited me to hang out in his garden this week. it's going to be okay.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Working, saving.

I've been working some 9-hour days. I'm scraping along on eBay having already sold my best hoarded nonsense. I'm still making enough to deposit entire paychecks into the savings plan.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Console me, friend.

"Awww, man..... there's other fish in the barrel..... you just have to shoot 'em"

When I'm a little bit sad, it's words like these that replace grief with relief. I'm glad to know the people who I know.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Money. I'm doing pretty good here.

I'm getting older and trying to stay true to myself. I don't want to trade my precious conscious time on Earth. You can't trade me that for a bucket of bullshit. No deal.

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

Tacos, hours, smoking. I'm good.

It's good. I'm happy.

The shop is open more hours now with the warm weather coming. I worked a long shift and stopped by a friend's house for a smoke and some talking. I made tacos and downloaded some TV shows. It's alright.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Research study = $125

I'm talking to Jim. In the kitchen. We're catching up in our kitchen as he smokes a cigarette and I yap my jaw loose.

I participated in a research study at UPenn today. I traded some blood and my time for $125. They also did an MRI.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Generally flummoxed jackass = me.

I fully lost my shit several times today. I screamed "motherfucker" at a printer about six times because it wasn't plugged in. I printed my own shipping labels - which is great - and then went apoplectic when some photo files were corrupted.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

More boxes than food.

I ate 2 pbjs in 2 days. Maybe a cookie or something.

I drove out to Kennett with too many boxes in a beat up van.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Different futures break up the present.

I broke up with Kristin. I went kind of explanatory and catatonic. Plans and exact science made no space for feelings or emotion. We have different futures. She picked the scab, and then we had to talk about it. Those different futures leaked back in time to destroy the present.

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

Poker Night

Poker night. The buy-in was $10. I smoked and had a good time, and nobody cared all that much about the game. I lost $3 and went home happy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Selling a Centera.

Selling a black and yellow "Centera" bicycle out of the back of my van. $80.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

eBay business is good.

Today was mostly a day off. I took some photos of another bicycle for Craigslist, and listed a frame pump I found laying around in my van. The eBay business is great. I've made much more with eBay recently than with my real job as a manager-mechanic-ish guy. The only thing to slow me down is running out of parts to sell. The big swap meet is a month and a half away, and I'm already daydreaming about spending my ass off to invest in a (fingers crossed) huge payday.

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

Listing eBay. No stone unturned.

I worked somewhat steadily from 1pm to midnight. I listed 29 auctions for the bicycle shop, and about 10 more items for myself. I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel looking for personal bicycle parts that are worth any money. But listing items has become easy, and I'm content to sell a few things too cheap if a few more things make some money. It adds up, and I'm leaving no stone unturned.

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

Working hard and looking at wood stoves.

I'm going to be selling stuff on eBay for the Bicycle Shop now. It will be a supplemental income, and I'm looking to take advantage of all opportunities. We worked out a fair cut, and I do all the work.

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

Ordering wings to stuff myself.

Grubhub is totally boss. Click a few buttons, wings show up, no talking to anyone. It could only get easier if they slipped it though the mail slot. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Savings and Penn Studies

Studies get you money. I signed up for a study being conducted at Penn University where they dig into the details of your dialect. I'm required to make 12 calls for 10 minutes each. If I do that, I'll get paid $150. Every bit counts.

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...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Smoke n' cheese.

I came home and my house smelled like cigarettes. Smoke doesn't bother me, but I guess my roomie started up again.

If you spend $.50 on macaroni, I guess you can expect it to stick to the pot real bad. I put in the cheeze and dealt with it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wings Night at Victory Brewing in Downingtown, PA

Wings are half price, and I have my family around me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Jitter's Bar in West Chester, PA.

It's Taco Tuesday, and it's at Jitter's which is a shitfuck bar in West Chester. Everyone in my presence seems decent, but I might just hop out a window.

Monday, March 5, 2012

I'm a pretty damn decent person.

I'm really not all that bad. Maybe I can be a little bit of a dick, but in the big scheme I think I'm alright. I'm a nice guy. I try. I'm not going to defend myself too hard, 'cause I think I'm fine. In fact, I think I'm a pretty damn decent person.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Su Tao in Malvern. My favorite place to eat.

This is a good one. This is a good night. A nice array of people who I care about are assembled around a table. Bottomless plates of gourmet vegan food surround us on three sides. One side has dessert, and another side has a sushi section. Everything is good.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mac n' cheese n' Lucky Charms.

Mac n' Cheese? Lucky Charms? Prison Break? Makes for a swell evening. As predicted, the person interested in buying a bicycle - who contacted me through Craigslist - did not bother to show up at the agreed upon time or give me a call. Predictable. I continued to eat more Lucky Charms to celebrate.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Eating cereal and making fish necklaces.

I have a necklace with plastic neon fish beads. I made it for myself. I get plenty of comments on it, presumably because most people who aren't 7-year-old girls don't wear stuff like this.

7:21pm. I'm eating cereal and making more fish necklaces.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tandem sales are my new bag.

I got a new connection. Nice and local. Friendly and affordable. I sat around for awhile to chat, but had to excuse myself to sell a tandem.

Bought for: $100
Work into it: $0. (Five mins of adjustments and a wipe-down).
Sold for: $250

My apartment/room rent: $250 (which I just paid an hour earlier).

And the joy of rolling a tandem bicycle out of the van's side doors to show it to a prospective buyer? Notable. My van is currently a full-on Craigslist showroom.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jeopardy is on at 7:21pm

Watching Jeopardy with my folks.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Giant Nutra is outta here.

7:21pm. I'm boxing up a Giant Nutra frame that I'm selling on eBay. I'm wishing it was a Giant Nutria instead, for the purpose of adding excitement.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hot coffee and hilarious flotsam.

I'm back out in Kennett after a lovely slow-paced morning. I did my favorite thing. I woke up in my awesome room in my awesome apartment with Kristin. I laid around with the sun coming through the window. I have warmth in abundance with a strong heater and a 'utilities paid' rental agreement.

We got going, and got coffee. She took her bicycle, and I manned the adult tricycle with bright crocheted handlebar coverings. After coffee comes knick-knack acquisition. We root around looking for $.90 Garfield mugs and other humorous jetsam. Today I struck gold.

I found a Saris Bones 3 bicycle rack for $12.97. I'll put that up on eBay later and sell it for $80+ dollars. I know because I have an auction for another one going right now.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Detailed post.

This helps... in my notebook: "Chinese food."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

MacBook Pro, bro.

I got a sweet MacBook Pro with some of my eBay earnings. I'm also squared up with some money I owed the bicycle shop. The laptop is a few years old, and thus was a reasonably priced acquisition. ($533).

Don't worry about The Van-Land Savings Plan: I'm still fully on track with that, and I can pay rent, too.

I'll take this opportunity to underscore how this seems to be a happy time in my life, and I am excited about all the new developments and possibilities.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Van-Land Savings Plan.

Next month is one of the secret months with an extra paycheck. March has five Fridays, and three of them happen to be a payday. If I do things right, I'll be able to stash an entire paycheck in savings.

The Van-Land Savings Plan. It has begun. I've started skimming money out of my checking account and putting it into savings. I've had the same tired $5 in my savings account for over two years. Now I have a few hundred. If I can keep the ball rolling, there will soon be more.

My current plan is to put at least $300 per month away for a new van, or a plot of land: whichever I decide on when I actually have enough to do something. I don't know whether I'd rather have a super nice van to live in, or a piece of land to construct a couple beat up van-cabin living structures. But - as I've reasoned - it doesn't matter. Both take money, so both options are out of reach right now. In the meantime while I'm thinking about it, I can do more research and start stashing money away.

The land option is appealing because land doesn't break down, suck gas, or get parking tickets. My plan would be to create a small off-grid homestead with vans as the structures rather than a cabin.

Quick list of thoughts:
  - No building permits. It's a van, not some looming onerous structure.
  - Van cabins can be decorated or scrapped at will. Versatile.
  - Non-moving vans can have both front seats removed for more space.
  - Composting toilet; propane heat; solar panels with battery bank.
  - Creating a level foundation is inexpensive and rudimentary.
  - Doors, windows, walls are already in place.
  - No bullshit homeowner headaches; no bullshit landlord headaches.
  - It's like living in a conceptual art project of your own making.
  - Definitely write some kind of book about it.

The details of this project are in much sharper focus inside my head. I have most of the answers to most of the obvious questions, because I've sorta been researching this for the past decade. I'm excited - to say the very least - to be currently throwing momentum behind this pipe dream that I've been harboring for ages.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pizza party and a trike ride home.

I went to a pizza party at Shelly and Arden's. Make your own pie. Boom. Mike was there. Boom. All the ingredients for a good time. Not drinking is getting closer to being no problem. I was fine and happy and enjoyed myself. Then I pedaled home on my trike with my girlfriend standing in the basket.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

For sale. Boom.

Borrowing my mom's nice camera and starting a Photobucket account have made eBay auction-listing much smoother. I listed more stuff. I'm selling my little Raleigh Folder bicycle. I listed stuff on Craigslist too. I found an acoustic Yamaha guitar that's been sitting around since I brought it home from work at 1-800-GOT-JUNK. That was awhile ago. Now it's for sale. Boom.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hot chips and eBay listings.

I went to the Herr's chip factory with Kristin. In my estimation, the best dates are mid-day and include hot potato chips off a conveyor belt. Nerdy as sin? Count me in.

I shipped out a ton of bicycle parts from finished eBay auctions. I took one of my Adderall half-pills and listed 19 more items for sale. A titanium stem, a Bridgestone CB-1 frame, a Giant Nutra frame...

I got the official 'ok' to sorta move in with my folks while I finish up college in the fall. So if I want to do that... I can do that.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Adderall prescription: check.

Honestly, I doubt I'd've been getting so much done over the past few weeks without some help. But I also can't keep "borrowing" Ritalin. I was cut off with the terms that I had to make an appointment to get my own prescription.

I made the appointment, and it took about 10 minutes. I didn't need a therapist, I just paid $110 out of pocket to talk to a doctor for a checkup. I said I had ADHD. I said I had projects, and I couldn't get anything done. I'm happy and healthy, but I can't run an errand to save myself.

10mg of Adderall before a work shift, or when you need a brain that is able to prioritize and accomplish tasks. That's the prescription. I went to Wal-Mart, got the pills, and cut all them in half so they'll last longer. It was about the easiest thing I've ever done, and I am hoping that it will help. I'm hoping that this small bit of help will allow me to pursue my long term goals more vigorously. I've made a lot of money on eBay in the past few weeks, and I want to keep that momentum.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Five bikes and a lotta boxes.

Today, I headed to Kennett. Same as I do most every week for several days. After work, I loaded my van. An old goofy tandem, my Raleigh Twenty, a cheap old ATB... it all got loaded up, and it's all getting photographed and sold. I loaded up five bicycles (5.5 if you consider the tandem), and a ton of boxes and packing materials for eBay sales. I hit the road with a van and a transmission that works.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Another strong bicycle installation.

Work was finished for the day. I clocked out and perched myself on a stool for a moment of reflection. Work benches were cleaned, the floor was swept, and locks were locked. I looked out the front door and saw our best customer. Fidel had my co-worker's attention, and there was a plastic crate in his hand. It could mean only one thing. I retreated to the bathroom, as my co-worker made progress toward his bicycle and home.

I sat on the toilet with the lid down and my pants up. I hunched forward and rested my forehead on the heels of my hands. I sat there breathing and waiting; letting a couple minutes slip by. 

I sat long enough to form some thoughts and look at myself. I am not responsible for anyone but myself. The shop is closed. And finally: treat other people the way you would like to be treated. 

I stood up, and took long confident paces to the front door. I unlocked the door and opened it. It was a few minutes later, but Fidel was still milling about on the sidewalk holding a big blue box. 

"Fidel! Come on, my friend!" I motioned for him to enter the store.

We went through the usual process of explanation. By now, I get the deal. He shows up with some clapped out bicycle and a plastic box with a hinged lid that I think he gets from behind a CVS somewhere. He needs the box to stay on the bicycle so he can use the setup to deliver food. Fidel pointed to the crate and to the bike. 

I like him. He's a character. He shows genuine appreciation when you help him out. Even though I can't say that we can communicate using words, I think we both have an understanding. We're both reasonable and decent humans. He wasn't drunk. He wasn't drinking beer and he didn't seem to have beer with him. Maybe he quit too. He insisted on buying me a soda next door.

I put the heavy bicycle in the stand and lined everything up. I made some marks with a marker and some holes with a drill. I used some of the random hardware that he brought me, and some stuff we had at the shop. For the fourth or fifth time so far, I did a damned good job.

What's 45 minutes? I told him there was no charge, and he insisted on tipping. We smiled and shared a solid handshake.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pasta and Kix cereal. Why not.

7:21pm. I stayed in and ate a ton of pasta and Kix cereal. I watched a lot of episodes of Prison Break.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Skipping Mates of State show.

I skipped the Mates of State show in favor of sitting in my golden chair. There was plenty of sitting involved, and not much moving.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Perkins has the weakest coffee allowed by science.

I was at Perkins with my folks. I sit on one side of the booth, and they sit on the other. I have my back to a wall whenever such a position is possible. I drank weak coffee and told them I have an appointment with a therapist set up for Monday.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sometimes it's time for some pants.

I got some blue jeans earlier. First of all, it's Valentines Day, so there's that. I was at the Olive Garden for lunch with my parents and my girlfriend, and then I decided that I wanted some new pants. I only have one pair of pants that doesn't have some lousy aspect going on. Now I have two, and I've got high hopes for these new boxers as well.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I call this one "New Transmission"

I woke up with a girl under my arm and decided to go to breakfast. We listened to Green Day and Phil Collins in a double-wide diner until it was time to cross the street. I paid $1060.00 to another guy named Chris, and drove away with a new transmission. These are the times. This is when a breeze is music and tall grass is the hand of God.