Friday, June 20, 2014

Say Hello To Skeletons.

In my middle twenties, I had fire beneath my feet. I had fire in my mind, and I could hardly sit down without burning a hole in my pants. I went on trips of all kinds and met a lot of people. I stayed low to the ground and associated with the easiest people to talk to. I met panhandlers, drifters, and people with a bag on their back. I talked to Rainbow Family, and sat with many chronic recreational drug users. Alcoholics and weirdos. I met the most and least intelligent people you could ever expect. I met people who I love today, and some who frankly scare me.

By thumb and train our paths met where I was by bicycle or van. These are not an exclusive bunch. If you quit expecting something of them and ask how their day is, you will see a skeleton populate flesh as an answer is yielded.

Desperate for human contact, I tried this trick many times.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Duck When You're a Target.

It's impossible to see your surroundings from every possible angle. It's easy to miss a glaring light if you close your eyes and turn your head. If you've lived in the same area all your life - there's a good chance that within a mile there's a stretch of road you've never set foot on. Not many roads? Then a stand of trees that you've never seen behind.

I don't have a cable TV package. I'm too smart for that. And by "smart" I mean "cheap," but in this case the outcome by any means is relief. I live in a tiny house, and by "live" I mean "sleep." For now, I spend a lot of time in the lumbering cacophonous home up the hill. The big house is a cable TV package. Between Cecily Tynan, Kathy Lee, and Brooke Baldwin: this house never shuts up.

After the morning and afternoon programming, then comes the shows about houses. How to buy them, how to fix them - and generally how to act like an asshole. I hope my brush strokes aren't painting too wide a berth. I'm nowhere above. I know about these shows because I've watched each and every one.

The lie I tell myself is that I'm better. I don't watch these shows; I sit in a room while they're on. You can tell yourself anything. Watching Mike Holmes retrospectively pinpoint the folly of a job gone wrong makes you no better than those who watch anything else. If you're on the couch when an ad squirts out for the series "Swamp Hicks" or "Fartin' Babies," they're talking to you. They have you pegged, and you are the target audience. I am the target. It's time to shut it down, lest we all get struck in the back.

I feel like I'm struggling to wake.


My plans are a process. Until I am out on my own again, I will be subject to adjacent programming. Until potato chips are out of arm's reach, I will have them with soda. It's time to go, and I'm ready. Me and Kristin are going to take my little car to California. And Arizona. Colorado. Oregon. There and on the way, we're going to continue our business as middle-men, and watch the sun rise and fall. I estimate October, but gosh himself writes the schedule. No more winters, and a short stint presently to get our shit together.

And we're off.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Four More Words.

Hey! Congratulations! I hear congratulations are in order! Do you have a date set?

Weddings are an enormous to-do. I knew I was getting married. I knew who I was going to marry: Kristin. There wasn't any reasonable doubt. The only missing element was the official asking: four words.

People tend not to blurt the four words out. You don't spill the question over oatmeal. Usually, you go skydiving, and somebody spells the words out with colorful flags back on Earth. Or you can make up a phony reason to get on tv and ask the question there. Much planning goes into preparation and venue.

What a to-do.

I built a tiny house, and by the end of last year, it was mostly complete. When I installed the final propane heater, there was no longer good cause to sleep in the giant house up the little hill. I moved the mattress to our loft, and though incomplete, our tiny home was quiet and cozy.

We had been in the house many times, but shuffling down the small hill in the dark was the first time we were going home. Our home; together. We sat on our little sofa. It was December 15th, and the air was brisk and silent. This was the test ride, but the product was sold. The home became ours the moment we crossed the threshold.

We sat close and watched the tiny flames in our scratch-n-dent direct vent wall mounted propane heater. The dim 12v light pointed up toward the peak of the roof; it cast romantic shadows. I began to recount the changes in my life over the past two years. I told Kristin how thankful I was that our paths had crossed; how grateful I was for her insight on being. As soon as I finished my thought, I added four more words.

She was startled, but her answer was immediately YES.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Complications of Simplification.

Everything is great. I have a tiny house that I built, and a plan to simplify my life. Naturally, it is much easier to say "simplify" than it is to make it so. To actually perform the act, I will need to throw away, donate, and sell a ton of stuff. I've begun.

Two trailer loads so far have gone to the landfill. I don't love hiding my mistakes and problems under a layer of earth, but it is an effective approach when it is not possible to travel through time and abstain from the initial acquisition. I have a tendency to hold onto items for later projects or other imagined uses. I've recently had to remind myself that I am full of shit. It is more important to be rid of this stuff. Some of it was big. Rotten siding and windows had to go; I'm not going to dismantle a desk to harvest the wood for anything. Got. To. Go.

I'm a collector - or at least I always have been one. I have half a closet full of Mad Magazines and ephemera. That was my first collection. Since then, I've started at least a dozen others. "Please Wash Hands" signs, from the time in my life where ripping signs off walls was funny. In that vein, I also have my collection of carpets with the logos of the businesses that I took them from. (This was a ballsy collection, but admittedly still a totally awesome one.) I also have about ten miniature guitars; none longer than 32" overall. I don't play guitar. Mini Band broke up in 2005. I have a world famous condiment packet collection. Most of them are preserved in plastic baseball card-style cases and sleeves. Thousands of packets didn't make it to the site before I quit. I had four medium boxes of full packets, some of which were starting to stink. I had unopened correspondence from admirers, and unanswered letters from children who love the site. It was heartbreaking to let this go, but those boxes had to go.

That might not sound bad. But - as you might guess, someone with that list of belongings probably has a lot of other shit lurking around as well. You would be correct. I do.

My belongings have become a burden. I need to let go to be free. I have an unnatural sentimental attachment to bullshit. I am hacking at these ties like a bushwhacker with a machete. 

By way of explanation for the last grim update here, I'll say that the ADD pills I've been taking might be partly to blame. I quit taking them when I suspected they might be making me angry-sad every time they start to wear off. The past few days have been better. My brain is still a muffin floating in cake batter, but at least I haven't been taking the fact so hard.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Call for help; take no action.

Call to action; take no help.

Bear with me while I cut out my guts and dissect this mess. No list of infirmities could explain this malaise. I trace in reverse to find where fantastic went astray. A definite and correct label would be a relief. Angles and facets, let alone the variables, sift through my fingers like sand. My task list strains buoyancy, as manic bursts vote to keep me afloat.

I know there's a pill for that. If the target is overshot, another pill can bring your brains back in range. If two pills mush your brains, then the third is to neatly congeal them. The fourth pill is free with the purchase of three, or you can exchange it for a frequent flier mile.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Vandwelling in Philadelphia

For awhile there, I was living in a van. I took that show on the road. I started out by wintering in Key West. It was great. I drove to Oregon and made that state and my van a hideout for a few months. Home was an anxiety attack, so I made my way to anywhere else. Soon I settled down slightly, and realized I was in Philadelphia again.

I found a remarkable parking spot in Philly. I was in the center of everything, but when I opened my doors in the morning, my view was a grassy paddock with grazing horses. I could park there forever; friends and amenities were mere steps away.

For a young man with desperation in his heart, a better home could not be had. I never took pride in my ability to build or plan. My decisions were a shot from the hip. Recognizing my Jenga tower for what it was, I never stacked my blocks very high. Philadelphia gets cold and hot, and I never managed the energy to build or afford a system to cope with the extremes.

At a lonely time in my life, I turned to Craigslist for human contact. The title of the ad was "dude wants to meet eccentric people thru email." I like to write, and I didn't want more. I found a girl who had a light rattling in her skull as well. We exchanged words and stories for years. After several years and many pages, we did meet. When the weather was at its coldest, we shared her bed.

The winter in Philadelphia is bitter. I operate at a low percentage for the duration. When I got a call around 7pm, my heart raced. Another human was volunteering to cook for me. We could watch television afterward. We shared a warm mattress on the floor, and we never had to talk about sex. I hope she is doing well today. We haven't talked in years.

After winter comes Spring, and soon after that are the dog days of summer. The van would be a steam bath, and soon after the sun would rise, I would be compelled to do the same. I would sit up, scooch my bottom to the side doors, and open them wide. The cool ninety degree air would be a relief from the stuffy interior of my home.

In the summer of that year, I was fixing bicycles. A friend and I rented a small warehouse space. We bought bicycles in the suburbs, brought them to the city, performed repairs, and sold them on Craigslist. I'd done this for money before, and I was showing her how. Today she owns her own bicycle shop. I couldn't be prouder to have helped, because frankly I was somewhat of a wreck at the time. I thought there was pride and amusement in being a wreck, and I celebrated life within an inch of an impending alcohol dependency.

It was hot. For an additional $98, I rented more space in the warehouse. I lied about what it was for, and I had to cut the arm off a free couch to fit it through the door. I got my lip pierced. I got bright hearts tattooed on my right bicep - a monument to not yet understanding sex. I woke up with hot sand in my eyes, and I never removed a single bottle until the weather got cooler and I cancelled the rent.

The van was an essential component in meeting people who I still love today. If not for the manner in which I rolled, I would lack a critical enrichment which I hold dear. I cannot imagine my time spent vandwelling as any less than necessary. Without those lessons, I would merely be alive; a pulse. I brought my energy into the van, and inside that vessel, I was afforded the opportunity to incubate.

The van sits today. My name is on the expired registration, and the house I built is 100 feet away. The van hasn't run in six months, and soon it will be for sale. I am ready to evolve as a person. I am ready to wake up without hot sand in my eyes. I am buying a new battery, and the van will belong to a different person.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Keeping my head in the frogs.

I built a small home first, and now I'm finally reading Walden. That's the book where Thoreau builds a little house and talks about how everyone is wasting too much time and money on everything. I'm barely into this book, and I'm hooked. Thoreau is the 1845 version of me. I already suspected this, but the similarities in our thought processes are remarkable. I find it even more remarkable that he could be speaking about our society today. Everything is the same. Nothing has changed.

I find great comfort in knowing that it is well beyond my control to reverse centuries-old norms. This book lends me a perspective I've sorely needed. Humans aren't headed into the gutter - we've kinda been wallowing around it the whole time. Our masses have been complacently accepting a status quo of enriching the few forever.

I can exist on my own terms now as Thoreau did in his time. I can watch lunacy from the sidelines. I can keep my head down. That's where the frogs are anyway.