Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's in Key West.

I woke up in my medium-quality parking location, and felt alive and refreshed. I acquired minor supplies, and proceeded to the grassy gravel lot where cruise ships pass on their way toward Mallory Square. I lifted the curtains and opened my doors toward the water. A month. I will be spending a month here. That seems easy. Right now this is home.

I took out my camp stove and set it on my little folding yellow table. I took my dented little camping pot and poured in a puddle of oil. I dropped three eggs in the hot oil and stirred it with a plastic fork. I transferred breakfast to a cheap dish that works as a plate and a bowl. I cleaned everything with one paper towel while it was still warm. I seasoned the eggs, and cut an avocado. I had a handful of almonds on the side.

I spent the day riding a bicycle and paying some bills. My plan was to drop in on Duval Street later at night for a round of the old gawk and squawk.

I returned to my van for sunset and dinner snacking. I was super fucking relieved when a text message buzzed my phone.

My friend Eddie still lives here, and he invited me over to his boat. I'd been sending short messages in his direction - one per day on my way here. I was glad to see him pop up on my phone. Eddie's boat is his home, where he lives with his wife and son. He's docked on the gulf side. He works on another boat shuttling tourists out in the water. He shoots fish with a spear gun while he's out there. He catches stone crabs in some traps. I was impressed to see the size of the claws. He fried up a grouper, and I was happy to pick at it with a fork. This was all far better than what I had planned. I cannot state that enough.

More people arrived. The gathering was verging on a party. Before long, it made the grade. Maybe a dozen people were there, and half were under sixty. Everyone was cool as shit. I had rum punch, talked a little bit, and enjoyed the vantage point very much. A handful of people ate mushrooms. I was also offered drugs, but fuck it. I've tripped dozens of times, and I'm running low on epiphanies. I'm happier now to simply be around.

I left at nearly four in the morning. I was grinning heavily, and I was almost as tuned up as my bike. I cruised back to my van where you're not supposed to park. But nobody gets a ticket on New Year's. The law has both hands full tonight.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Successful arrival in Key West.

I woke up in a parking lot speckled with palm trees. I wanted to hit the gas, but thought it prudent to stock up on certain supplies. This will be the last Wal-Mart I see for a month. Certain commodities ought to be getting got.

Wine is $2.96. There is nothing wrong with it. It even has a cork. I haven't had booze in a couple days, but I'm not totaling any tea. I got four bottles, and some gas for my stove. I got some buttwipes for the upcoming public restrooms, but left their nasty avocados alone.

South Florida is a fucking shitshow. The weather is beautiful, but I despise that drive. I got as close as ever to road rage, and had several what-the-fucking-fucks.

I wanted to be in Key West in time to ride my bicycle in the sun. Unfortunately there were as many fatal accidents as lanes. I crawled peacefully along in no hurry. I merged slowly and listened to podcasts. I blared old skate punk and rolled down the road.

By the time I arrived, darkness had fallen. I went to my go-to-always-works spot and parallel parked between two other crusty Dodge vans. I clicked off the engine, and felt terribly alone.

The air was a frigid 65 degrees with high winds. Weather I would have killed for a few days ago. My chest filled with anxiety, so I texted everyone I know. Feeling lonely and anxious is not scary. It is not without precedent. It is to be expected, which I already know.

I went under the front curtain, and entered the section of the van that is home. I pulled the cork out of a bottle Oak Leaf, and got to work with my phone. I texted Rochelle in Philadelphia - the more recent one who I know. I chatted with Lisa in Georgia, who I met on the Appalachian Trail. I texted Dave, and I heard from my sister and Mom. I do have some people. I wish one of them were here.

An hour later, everything was better. I had some wine and some weed and enjoyed an excellent movie. I have a fantastic van with everything I need.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

South of the Border to Port St. Lucie, FL

I woke up at South of the Border. The night was cold, but with daytime came temperatures of up to sixty degrees. I switched to shorts for the foreseeable future. I used a horrendous restroom, and moved on.

The sky was gray, and light rains became heavy throughout the day. Traffic was a factor, but I have an abundance of time. I ate food that I brought with me, and ignored the attempts of billboards to swipe a dollar here and there.

I arrived at a Wal-Mart outside of Port St. Lucie, Florida. I did a loop of the parking lot, and came to a rest near the other dirtbag vans. Rolling equipment ranged from homemade to frankly fucking expensive. Us liveaboard folks run the gamut from too many dollars to almost none. I am in the happy medium. My income is far outpacing my spending. My goal for 2017 is to expand that gap as far as it will go. I am putting money away for more sunny days.

I entered the Wal-Mart for minor supplies. I got some crispy tostadas and cheese. I had a little cookout in the van, and listened to This American Life.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

TOWARD KEY WEST >> South of the Border for sleep.

I woke up in a blurry state and prepared to hit the highway. First I stopped at home base to say goodbye to Mom and Dad. I cooked three eggs in a puddle of oil and we watched the news while I ate. Mom assembled two turkey sandwiches for the road. She put them in an empty bread bag with three oranges and two pieces of pie. I love my parents. It has been easy and comfortable staying here. I can't imagine how difficult my life might be without them. I am blessed to have such support.

I backed down the driveway, cued up some music, and drove to Route 1. I met I-95 in Maryland. Between there and South Carolina, I only stopped for gas and an oil change. I stuck to the food bag, and spent no additional dollars.

South of the Border is a purely ridiculous attraction. Built in 1949, and presumably not updated since. Fiberglass figures stand tall, and you cannot miss the lights from the road. By the time I arrived, it was late at night. I backed into a parking spot, went underneath the curtain, and made myself at home.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Final preparations and salutations.

The inline fuse holder arrived in mid-afternoon. I had the solar setup wired and running by the time of the sun's final light. I'm ready.

I spent the morning loading up. I tried to erase the evidence of my presence at my folks' place to at least a reasonable degree. I packed up my clothing and some business equipment. I brought the components for a simple kitchen. I loaded up more than I thought I would, but I still have room to spare. Everything I need is there. Clothing for any temperature. Electronics for any need.

I am ready.

After the sun went down, it was nearly time to visit Kat for the last time this season. We were invited to dinner in Oxford with a couple who she is friends with. An excellent couple. The girl was her college roommate, and her dude teaches wilderness survival. They live in Utah. The live in a fucking yurt. He wears some beat down flipflops regardless of situation. I imagine that more often his feet wear nothing at all.

I drank. Kat drove. I had an excellent time, but by the time we left I was smashed. We stayed up a little bit later. Driving was out of the question. I laid down on the couch and crashed.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Fixing the curtain situation for free.

No parts arrived, so today I prepared my van in other minor ways. I screwed the solar charge controller to the new section of beadboard wall.


I was riding my bicycle a few months ago, and something caught my eye from the side of the road. It turned out to be a piece of heavy canvas or vinyl material that had been used as a painter's tarp. It probably flew out of a pickup truck. I picked it up, and I can't remember why. It looked generally useful, so I stuffed it in the milk crate on my rack and continued on my way home.

Flash forward: 

Today I needed an additional piece of cloth for the van's front curtain. You can see a little bit of light through the current setup, and that will not do. The found cloth was an excellent size. No cutting needed - I just clipped it up to the roll bar. Now the curtain situation is thick enough so nobody can tell if I'm inside the van watching movies or reading a book.

If one improved curtain isn't enough to celebrate, then I'll share info on a second one: I'd misplaced my big homemade tie dye tapestry. I didn't make it, but I found it for a buck. It was at a church yard sale in Key West years ago, and it has a huge weed leaf that amuses me. The current side curtain was solid black, which made the van feel small, dark, and impersonal. I clipped up this goofy piece of cloth, and now it feels exactly like home.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas and covering some wires.

It was Christmas. We opened gifts. A pleasant holiday was had.

I'm leaving soon. Imminently. I'm waiting for an inline fuse holder to go on the cable from the battery to the solar charge controller. I thought they'd have one locally, but I need a heavier gauge. Rats. I had to order one online, and it is setting me back a couple days.

I worked on other details. I cut some rectangles out of leftover beadboard from the tiny house project. I used that and some screws to obscure the spaghetti of wires traveling to the van's fuse box. It's much better, but it isn't great. Great will have to wait for summer. By far, this is good enough...

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve 2016

This isn't a live update. Nay. Usually they're not. Let me consult my notebook. Fuck if I remember what I was doing a couple days ago, forget about weeks... It was cold. I remember that part. Now I'm in Key West. Whatever else is happening, it is not cold. It's warm. And I have a bicycle.

Back to the past. 

Here's what I'll call a journal entry from Christmas Eve 2016:

Us Harne folk went to visit the Snells. That's my sister, my bro-in-law Karl, and my nephew Benjamin. We ate holiday fare, and went to a church service, which is another type of holiday fare. It was a nice service. They have a great church with great people.

I don't have business in a church, but I remember a time many years ago when I did. I'm agnostic. I'm not against god. I don't begrudge anyone their faith in their God. I'm no genius. I'm no scientist. I'm a dirtball on my favorite days. You can pray for me or push me into the drink. All I care about is if you're nice and you're not hurting anybody with your words or actions or beliefs. Be quick to love and quick to care. The loudest people of faith give the humble majority a bad name.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Careful with the crack and Adderall.

I took the day off. The main thing on my list was to screw a charge controller onto the wall of my van. Not hard stuff, but I didn't manage it. I took no Adderall, because I woke up late and did not remember.

I can tell that Adderall is not dangerous for me, because it often happens that I forget it. Compare that with crack. I don't use crack, but I certainly never forget to take booze. Adderall is a controlled substance with a risk of addiction. Given that caveat, I have always respected it down to my core. But the fact remains that it is only a tool to me. I am being more careful than I need to.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Mr. Money Mustache - Google this guy.

I'm done work for the year. I boxed up every last book that I plan to sell. I annexed the Staples shipping center behind a heavy fortress of book-laden boxes. (In truth, it only felt that way - this time it was a mere ten.)

I have recently been making good money. I am making way more than I need. Before I stumble and fumble the ball, I'm trying to blast as much cash into dividend and interest-bearing savings as I can.

I have been reading the excellent and entertaining advice of Mr. Money Mustache. This is one of my favorite people. The blog is rife with sound advice backed up with simple math and presented by a dude to whom I can relate. Fundamental questions are answered; investment fears are assuaged. You do not see this brand of advice on television. His blog will calmly and carefully walk you through all of the specifics. Everything he says is backed up with logic, common sense, and math. And zingers. He has the capacity to be funny as fuck.

So I've been reading a ton over there, and it has been bolstering my confidence and increasing my optimism. I've been so excited about his advice, that I've been rambling on about it to anybody who will listen. If you have an inkling, you should go check it out.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I'm leaving on the 27th or 28th.

I am mentally ready to go. The solar panel needs a couple small parts. Those won't be here until the 27th. I'll be ready to leave on that day, or the 28th.

I waited too long to order pills from India with bitcoin. The whole process is a drawn out wait. So by the time my awesome brain pills arrive, I'll already be drinking under a kapok tree.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Countdown to Key West.

I am trying to leave in less than ten days. On paper, that seems easy to do. One day to send books, one day to finish the solar setup, one day to get packed up and ready. Naturally, I will wait until the final moment, and leave before I feel completely prepared.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Healthcare is by far my largest expense.

I fought my way into some high cost healthcare. Then I added some dental, since I can expect my fake front teeth to fall out any time. I get no discount, because I haven't paid my taxes, or at least word that I filed them doesn't travel too quickly.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

I am a living eclipse.

I'm having a lot of late starts. I'm giving myself a lot of passes. I am a living eclipse. My elevator keeps getting stuck and opening between floors. With great freedom comes great responsibility - and I can shirk with the best.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Honoring Evan

I returned to Philadelphia for more horsing around. Evan is leaving town, so to honor him good people drank beer in a house.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Waking up cold, and checking in.

I woke up cold and insane. No headache; still drunk. Water jug frozen. Cold feet through thick socks and two layers of sleeping bag.

Back to sleep.

I woke up again an hour and a half later. I laid on my back and watched the clouds of my breath. Finally, I emerged from the bags. I cranked on the engine and tried to confer with my mind. I tried to recognize anything that looked like an idea or a plan. I hadn't had dinner, and I was hungry as fuck. I felt like a cold piece of garbage.

I navigated my boat to I-95, and plowed toward the suburbs, stopping for a hot hoagie and huge coffee along the way.

It was an easy day of arctic reading. Then I met Kat for wings at Victory. We went back to her place and sat around some more. Being that it's Friday, she didn't have work, so we stayed up a little bit later. I'm thankful as hell to have a friend in Kennett Square, and I'm glad we've been getting together more often. We'll always be close whether I'm around or not, but it's been nice to regularly check in.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Bedding down and synthetic in 17 degrees.

I got up late, and didn't start moving until early in the afternoon. I got an email from a Philly-based thrift store that alerted me to an immediate 50% off sale on books. I wish they'd give more notice. Twenty-four hours would help.

The temperature dropped into the 20's. I felt reluctant to go outside. I overcame personal recalcitrance and got my act together. I attached the solar panel feet to the roof a little better. The connection is not yet permanent, but it is strong and roadworthy now. Wires run down through the roof between the front seats, and don't connect to anything yet. The solar controller is not installed. That will need to happen soon.

I drove to Philly, and got some excellent books. Next was a show at Johnny Brenda's. I'd been on the fence about going, but the discounted books convinced me to stick around in the city. I took a small risk and hoped I would have an indoor spot to crash, since the temperature would dip to 17 degrees.

I found parking on a side street, and stopped at the El Bar to get cheaper drinks than at the show. After an hour, there was no chance of any driving. I bundled back up, and jogged the few blocks to the show.

I had a good time hanging out with myself. I'm having a nearly full-time out of body experience these days, and on this night especially, here's how it felt: I was able to observe myself with amusement, and watch my physical self pay and bring me along for free. He wore his new party uniform. He sported sparkly goldfish legs under jean shorts and old torn up tie dye that smells like his armpits. I regretted not suggesting colorful fingernails, but there's more time for frivolities later.

After the show, he returned to the El Bar, and waited to see if sleep would be inside or out. As the night progressed, preparations were made to batten down the hatches, and by that I mean use two sleeping bags at once. With his world spinning, he returned to the van. The temperature was crisp as he undressed for bed. He slid into the first sleeping bag, and zipped it up to the top. He shimmied into the second sleeping bag, and arranged both hoods together. He pulled down my hat, and arranged my pillow, and was asleep like the dead in five seconds flat.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Deals on discounted steaks.

Today would have provided and excellent opportunity to finish installing the solar panel. Instead, I did almost exactly nothing. It's hard to move sometimes. It's hard to stand up. I try to use force, but my body does not comply. 

Today is Wednesday. My folks have a scheme going for bargains on small discounted steaks. Deals on deals, with fries on the side. I was thankful to be brought along.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Solar Panel Install. Day 1: Murder on the Roof.

Today, I had one mission: Solar panel. Install. 

I knew it wouldn't be as easy as it seemed. From the instructions and the videos I've seen, the work is straightforward and uncomplicated. There are only a few warnings to heed, but thankfully little that can go wrong.

Attaching the provided feet to the panel was an easy matter of nuts and bolts. The hardware was provided in the kit that I bought, which is of the "Renogy 100 watt" description.

Next step was to take out the yellow stepladder. I lifted the panel onto the roof, and slid it approximately to the middle. I wanted the panel to sit squarely on the roof with no overhang, and sideways didn't look good. I turned the panel ninety degrees, and now it hung over the front. My reaction to this was "Fuuuuuuck...."

I was full to the brim of coffee and prescription amphetamines. "OK," I assured myself. "A small setback," I claimed to my brain. "All I have to do is move the vent."

I took off the solar panel, leaned it up inside, and returned to the roof and sat down. The vent could be moved back about four inches, which would allow the solar panel to sit back from the front edge of the roof. My primary concern was that an overhanging solar panel would catch highway-speed winds like a sail. Moving the vent would prevent that possibility, and I convinced myself this was important to get right.

I removed all the screws from the vent's flange, and used a razor knife and a putty knife to cut the silicone caulk and butyl tape. After some fighting and persistence, I pried out the vent. I taped some plastic inside the ceiling of the van to attempt to protect the interior from what was next. I used a jigsaw to expand the vent hole, which gets fiberglass dust everywhere. The plastic caught most of the debris, except where the jigsaw punched ten thousand holes. Moving on.

Now a couple hours had passed, and I stared down at the massive hole. I cut some scrap 3/4" plywood to fit the gap toward the front. I screwed the patch in place using some small flat galvanized plates with holes. It looked a little bit shy of what I'd call professional. I put the vent back in place with a new ring of butyl tape under the flange. I ran a fat bead of silicone around the edge of the vent, and in the gap around the plywood patch.

My plan was to use foil-backed roll roofing to cover the patch, but first I needed the silicone to dry. In normal conditions, that would mean a 30-minute break, but in 39 degrees, the estimate is closer to "forever."

I was running out of steam, and still didn't have the panel in place. The sun was already threatening to leave. I drilled holes in the roof for the wires from the panel, and marked where the feet would be screwed down. But I couldn't make a permanent connection yet, because the back of the panel would overlap the patch, and I would not be able to access the gap to put down the roll roofing.

So I was stuck.

My meds wore off, and my brain started to congeal. I raised both middle fingers toward the sky. I screwed down the panel in a temporary manner, and tried to ignore the instinct to shotgun a fifth.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Reading books about the cold.

Monday. Back to work? Not quite. It was hard to break the ice and free the runners on the sledge.

Instead, I read about arctic exploration. There are two books titled "Endurance," and I've already read the second one. Now I am working on the earlier book by F.A. Worsley, who was Shackleton's second in command. The other Endurance book is written by Alfred Lansing. I can confidently call that one a favorite.

Another favorite book takes place in the northern hemisphere. "The Last of the Gentlemen Adventurers: Coming of Age in the Arctic" is definitely worth a penny plus shipping. I personally guarantee it. I'll give anybody four dollars if they read it and think that I'm wrong.

Back to the south pole. I read "Alone in Antarctica" written by the first woman to cross the continent unassisted and pulling a sled. I wish I had a dollar for every time the author cries.

"On the Ice: An Intimate Portrait of Life at McMurdo Station, Antarctica" was enjoyable. This book explains daily life at McMurdo, describing it from a female perspective, from a writer who attempts to let you into her head. I think this book is worth a gander, if you like ice with your honest and open accounts.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Brain soup and waking up at one a.m.

Today I did closer to nothing. I woke up late and went to sleep again. I read one chapter of a book, and I took zero Adderall. My skull contained brain soup today. It was all I could muster to drive to Philadelphia. By 6pm and with a giant coffee, I was finally ready to move. I hung out with two Rochelles and a Michael, and provided a plate of nachos.

I left late, and stayed up later. Around one o'clock in the morning, I felt like my day began.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Goldfish spandex is comfortable and fresh.

Saturday. Working just a little. Nothing wrong with that.

After work, I went to a gathering and wore my boss new goldfish spandex - feeling comfortable and fresh. I drank an allowable amount, and then switched to only beer. Just like I said, right? That was the plan.

Mark my calendar. That solar panel is going up on Tuesday. After that, the forecast is increasingly grim.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The safe nature of my filing system.

The thing about drugs is that you keep needing more. I bumped up my Adderall intake from 10mg to 15mg. I'm prescribed a full twenty, which would currently be absurd. At first when you increase, the dividends are huge. I have been an unassailable robot for a week. Eventually, however, it all evens out. You're back where you started, but worse. Take a little bit more, and a day off gets more sluggish.

For the time being, none of that is a problem. It's only another item to be aware of. I make a list of such items on scraps of paper. I keep my papers in a roaring fire pit, and bury the ashes deep underground.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Looking forward to laddering.

Focus on this! Focus on that! I'm doing what I usually do.

My interest at the moment is to dominate at selling books. There are a hundred things I could probably do better, but in spite of that I'm still doing great. I hope books keep existing for years, and I hope the increased competition doesn't eventually crush my job. The marketplace gets a little bit harder every year, but my skills and comfort are increasing at a higher rate.

Soon I will reach my monthly output goal, which at present is 1,000 books. I reached my monthly income goal with 27 days to spare.

There is an impending need for an abrupt about-face. This solar panel isn't going to install itself. The weather report is only curiouser and curiouser. Soon I will find myself on a yellow step ladder wearing a hat and gloves.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

CDs and steaks.

I shrinkwrapped a lot of CDs and DVDs. It can be a tedious task, but you listen to music while you work, and by the time you have them in a box, it feels like you didn't do much.

My savings goals are on track, I don't pay rent at the moment, and my parents invited me out for a deal on low-cost steak.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Teaching turtles to pay their taxes.

Today I paid my taxes. Everything I owed since 2014. Well, I paid the state and local ones, but I only filed with no payment yet for the IRS. My accountants provided the figures and forms. I only needed a pen and some stamps.

I started a second cup of coffee, and I took a deep breath. No recess until the homework is finished.

I opened a thick Tyvek packet with a folder containing organized papers like I've never seen before in my life. Paperclips separated tasks into useful sections. Envelopes were provided and pre-addressed. Post-it notes gave me a greeting and overview, and detailed instructions were outlined with the important parts highlighted. Small tabs were affixed to forms wherever a signature was needed. My accountants did everything but hold my hand as I wrote out the checks.

Even with the quality of the preparation, the actual task nearly melted my brain. I had to read everything five or six times, because it is impossible to focus for longer than a few words. I'd read half the first sentence, then skim to the end, eventually reading entire paragraphs out of order. Then I'd start at the beginning and try it again. Giving me taxes is like teaching a turtle to play air hockey, and expecting him to not get slammed by the puck.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Books and ballast in Doylestown and beyond.

I went to a book sale in Doylestown. It was heavily advertised, so the atmosphere was tense and the competition dense. The starting pistol was fired and a throng of jackasses pushed forward. Those who were there to make money quickly pushed the elderly and disabled aside. They carry boxes and bags and stacks of Rubbermaid bins. They march toward the textbooks with purpose. Barcode scanners and phones are out, and the grabbing commences. In the first five minutes, some money is made. Then the books that are worth money online are all gone or well hidden. I wander around using a much keener eye. I recognize value where some others haven't noticed it. Those of us who do better have our own little tricks.

I left the sale with a reasonable bounty. Not anything wonderful, but technically worth the drive. Most of the day was still ahead, so I decided to regroup and see what other sources to visit. I ate a Kind bar, because that's always what I do when I get dizzy and I'm trying to do work. I poured about nine gallons of piss in the woods, and I'm saying that in confidence, or at least with confidence, because these words paint a picture of my life.

I stopped at two more sources. One where I was successful in the past, and another as yet untapped. When I headed home, the sun had disappeared, which isn't saying much for December. But on the hour-plus drive in traffic, I listened to The Knife and Clams Casino. The big van with the tall fiberglass hat sailed smoothly along the highway. The ballast in the hold was provided by books, and the adventure had a pleasant ending today.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Lazy Sunday and a folding hand truck.

I was up until four o'clock for no particular reason, so I didn't see the light until minutes before noon. Oh, wonderful Sunday - any excuse to be lazy. I performed light administrative tasks until the light disappeared too soon.

I don't ask for anything for Christmas. Things and stuff are something to deal with, and I have enough on my plate. I feel spoiled and unfairly blessed, so I don't need more fodder either physical or imagined to juggle literally or figuratively. However, the Harne family tradition is to provide beyond all reason, so I'm always along on this ride.

But, wait!

What do I need, but didn't know it? What item can I use that isn't a chore? My folks figured out that I could use a folding hand truck. Of course! I'm not sure why they gave it to me now, but I'm busy schlepping books, so it will help me with my chores.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Goblin purchases first edition for a buck.

I woke up in the comfort of my van on the nearly empty block where I parked last night. My van was comfortable, but I was not. My head was full of goblins, and I needed coffee in a cup that is too large to physically exist. I needed a public restroom so I could rip one of the toilets right off the wall.

I had business to attend to. An hour to the north were many shelves of books with the prices cut in half. I hovered over the books like the vestige of a goblin wondering how many drinks it takes until my body wants infinitely more. And how can I communicate with this bastard? The one who dares to order these drinks? Can I slip him a suggestion that maybe if we share a body, it would be in both of our interests to keep it alive?

I felt considerably droopy, but I would not be dissuaded from due diligence on the hunt. Today was a book buying day, so I stayed focused and propped up my body until lunch. After a break and a tall vat of coffee, I began to feel completely sane. For a cherry on top, I visited one more location, where I found a first edition Hemmingway as a reward. I got The Old Man and the Sea for one dollar. It was a hardcover, and that's what hardcovers cost...

Friday, December 2, 2016

Ended up at the El Bar.

Today I swooped around knocking more items off the to-do list. Everything got done. I got a new license photo. In what must be record time, I spent under eight minutes at the DMV. This is a true fact. From the time I entered to the time I walked out, less than eight minutes had elapsed.

With a warm new license in my pocket, I went to a library with a secret sale area. There is a small shelf of books upstairs, and it looks like that is everything available. However, if you ask, there are also books downstairs. Many more. Better ones. I had a field day there.

From the library, I went to hang out with Jonas. I still intend to write about our hike. Either because I'm bad at taking care of myself, or my timing was just right, he cooked for me. Or in any case, I was included. Lentils and whatnot with broccoli to put in it. It probably saved my life.

We went to the bar where I only order specials. I had too many and wondered later if I made an ass of myself. Usually when I think so, it's pretty much fine. Nobody has stabbed me yet, and I haven't lost any friends. But maybe next time when cheap whiskey spills out of my ears, I can switch to only beer instead.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Getting Shit Done.

I got another late start. Late starts aren't optimal, but I don't mind if I still Get Shit Done. I had a midday frustration meltdown that stopped my progress cold. I cursed everything I could think of while my ears were shooting steam. Now I'm over it. Nobody died. But miniature sized glitches make me insane. Blow off my legs with a grenade, and I'll manage to be stoic. But when I can't edit printer settings, or access my seller account - all bets are off.

I still hit my numbers. I did what I was supposed to. Everything is okay.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Bullshit and a positive outlook.

Healthcare is expensive and complicated to sign up for. The signup process has me stuck in a loop. Matters like these make me furious. I hate dealing with bullshit. It sets off all my alarms.

The day was mostly a wreck. I was up late last night, and I couldn't quite get started. But mentally I tried to stay positive. I went over to see my friend Kat. She tends to feed me, and she made some sandwiches. We sat around till 10, and I played with her dog.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Rowdy encounter.

I met a man whose actual name is Rowdy. I confirmed the spelling. He said that growing up it was a blessing and a curse. We exchanged thoughts and information. We might cross paths again.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday. Back to work.

Monday. Back to work. Late start, late finish. Pushed a lot of boxes out the door.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Meeting a new person; being awake too late.

Meeting new people in real life is awkward. Especially when they are reading what I am writing right here. I'm happy to get past the uncertainty and enjoy the opportunity to talk without typing on a phone. After a relaxing Sunday during which I allowed myself to chill out, I headed to Philadelphia to meet a girl I met on an app called "Patook." The purpose of the app is to find like-minded people who you do not flirt with or date. If you try to pull cute shenanigans, you get kicked off the app, and your phone catches on fire.

All went great, like I assumed it would. We talked until late, and then I drove home. My attempt to meet new people was a total success.

I was sober and hungry around 12:30am and Pennsylvania is a hard place to fix both at that hour. But I was in luck because I found a pub that doesn't close in spite of being empty late on Sunday night. I got wings and ate slowly, and when I finally got the check it wasn't cheap. I was there until they closed, and up past 3 o'clock listening to new music that warms my heart.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fish in a barrel.

For the second day in a row, I knew something that the competition didn't. For the second day in a row, I made organized stacks of books and fit them precisely into flat-rate bags. I wish it was always this easy. Sometimes it isn't. But today all the fish in the barrel met with a grenade.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Loving My Job.


What a beautiful day. I'm happy again. Happy! What a delightful sensation to notice. I was cruising around and singing to music; feeling hilarious and fantastically alive. I am a bulletproof goofball jackass and I would never trade my life for any other. I have a giant van that wears a tall fiberglass hat, and it booms and rattles on bumps. I turn the music up to the cusp of crackling speakers, and I blast tunes high above the mournful little cars.


I arrived early at a library with a secret sale, feeling confident I'd be the only one there. I contacted the reference librarian, who oversees the selling of donated books, and she got back to me with the intelligence I sought. Fill a bag for three dollars: Black Friday until the end of the year. The shelves are overcrowded. They need weird heroes with lazy beards and wet armpits to shovel the books into vans. I had thirty-six coffees and the heart of a champion. I was there early and ready to begin.


I don't know why I'm happy. No! I haven't dissected why I wasn't before. Recently, I was alive in a cold dark cloud. I'm going to point to music as the answer. I believe that's importantly correct. Many tracks daily, and again I feel alive. Second only to music is Getting Shit Done. I am seeing my work as a project - and my focus on my projects could burn holes through wood. I am reaching goals and loving my job. I nearly cringe at those words "loving my job," but I'm going to leave them, because at this time it's true. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

An excellent office setup makes Thanksgiving great.

We didn't eat turkey. Us Harnes got too involved with a large breakfast followed by massive endless snacking. Instead of snacking much, I mostly watched cop chases online. The turkey is on hold until tomorrow.

I worked on some basic administration in my temporary office. This office is the best. The basement started getting cold and dark. I hinted about moving upstairs, but I don't like to bash change over anybody's head. Mom thought light and warmth seemed sensible. Dad seemed unconvinced. As always, I made my own move with no further questions. Similar to when I built a tiny house on the corner of their lot.

I laid the top of a large desk from an Ikea setup on a bed in the guest room. No legs needed - it rests right on the mattress to make a low table top. I cleared my nephew's toys off of the large custom table that I literally built with processing books in mind. Printers, boxes of materials, and a set of drawers came next. I set up my shrinkwrapping station, and there's a big heater that does its job well. I put a card table between the bed and the processing table, and that's where the laptop goes. This is the perfect setup. It's not complicated, but it is working the best. There are windows to let in a little bit of light. The heater is most welcome. I should have set this up months ago.

Thanksgiving was a success. I'm sleeping inside, because fuck the fucking cold. I mean... it's fine... but why not take advantage of inside accommodations, right? Right. So I sat on the bed and listened to that Skrillex/Diplo/Bieber track about 75 times in a row. I texted with my new friend, Xerox, on the phone for an hour or so. We have plans to meet in real life soon. When she sees this, she will see that I'm saying "HELLO!"

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Goals and budgets that I'm hoping I keep.

I'm working on creating a budget. I'm working on reaching goals. For the fun of it, here's all the details.

Goal #1 is to buy and have for sale one thousand new books per month. This is an achievable goal, but not as easy as I thought. This month is the first time I'll reach that goal in over a year. It might not be easy while traveling - but six hundred would probably still do the trick.

Goal #2 is to be in Key West by New Years. I have some van work to do, but I can't see how that won't happen. If it comes right down to it, I'll leave before I'm completely prepared.

The budget I created is only a beginning. If it doesn't work, I'll tweak it, but it's better than nothing at all. I'm allowing my business $1,500 to purchase books, which is definitely more than enough. I'm giving myself $400 personally every time the business gets paid. That means $200 per week. Aside from that, I give myself another $225 out of every payment, which goes directly into a Roth IRA. It worked this month, but hasn't in the past, and I want to fix that problem. I want to contribute the maximum amount allowable to retirement savings, to make it easier to horse around indefinitely. Most of my expenses are business related, so none of that comes out of my personal cut. But healthcare costs are not a business expense, so I'm taking that out of my personal income for now. Once my back taxes are paid, and I'm making more than I need, I'll create a small emergency buffer. I imagine the budget will need adjustments, but I get some peace of mind that I typed on a spreadsheet for now. 

I am thankful and relieved that I am running a business that pays more whenever I work hard - but lets me fuck up and goof off as well. It's time to start cheering up. A business like this one is not a given, so I am embracing it and being grateful right now.

Goal #3 is to be happier and spend less - this will be tested on the road. Traveling tends to get expensive, and I want to keep costs reigned in. I want to cook in the van and ride a bicycle. Margaritas only as budget allows.

I'm hoping I can juggle these goals and clarify my expenses. I want to be the captain of a ship that nearly steers itself. It took me a long time to get here, but I'm not calling it quits because of poor past performance. I hoping I learn how to live.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Best day in weeks.

An excellent day. The sun was out, the wind died down, and I had black beans in with my eggs. I worked like a machine until three. I got in the van at four, and made a circle of places to buy books. Dinner was ready when I got home, I just had to heat it up. That's it. Not a bad day.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Fond reverence for the ruffed grouse.

I got up slightly before I felt like it, which wasn't much later than my optimal time. I cut up an old baked potato to make hashbrowns for two eggs. That's the optimal breakfast in my opinion. Either a potato or some beans. I got to work by the time I've decided I ought to, which for the record is 11am.

I took the optimal amount of Adderall, which had me running around like an efficient clown. My to-do list started as a wisp of smoke, but took form in the shape of squares. The money is increasing from recent efforts - I checked at least thirty times. It was squares and rectangles for another day, and none of those insidious curvy lines in my brain. I'm basically all jacked up to appease the government. I need to make money for them. I'm jacked up for the sake of societal norms. It makes people uneasy when others pretend.

Probably I'm much better, 'cause I'm listening to music. I'm even better when it's loud. I like to get the speakers in the van right to the point where they're falling apart. Then I roll to Staples to drop off my squares.

Hummus and Merlot for dinner. The workday is falling away like skin melted with acid. Time to switch back to circles instead.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Pennsylvania state anthem.

I woke up in the van as soon as the sun warmed it enough, and I felt alive enough to get out of my fluffy down bag. I pissed in a bottle and poured it into some leaves.

Television was on, and I started a book. I employed heaters wherever I went. The weather and temperature are piles of shit. The wind was blowing fiercely, my friend.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Solar potential and people in kitchens.

I have 100 watts of solar potential. It's sitting in a box in the kitchen right now. First I need to put it on the roof of the van. Then it's nearly time to go south.

I stood around in a different kitchen later. I met some people I like. Well, technically I met them before - but now I could hear what people were saying, and a portion of that was great.

Life developments happen slowly. They at least take longer than a day. So this isn't 365 no repeats here. Most of these days are the same. 

In 2007, I thought "what a great idea!" I'll write what I'm doing every day. I thought that would be a motivation to add excitement. "I'm on the top of a mountain!" "Jumping out of a plane!" Now it's nine years later, and I've written nine years worth of posts about trying to stay sane.

I know what to do in the long run. But I'm getting that seasonal shit right now. I'm in the process of taking my life back. The proceedings are frankly dull.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Finding out what Kennett Square has on tap.

It was another long day of administration, but I also went to The Flash. After two sober days, I went into town with Dave, and sampled what Kennett Square has on tap. Mostly it has a few bars and a music venue in a building where they used to sell toys.

When I was little, it was a department store, and I bought giant lighters for fifty cents. Now there was a cover band, but at least the guy was good at guitar. It turns out Dave knows the guy who books the acts, so thank garsh we did not have to pay.

The Kennett Brewing Company is also a place. I hadn't been there yet, but it came recommended, however I left nonplussed. It has beer and tables and loud loafy locals, and a band that I'd rather leave than take.

We stopped by Gran Sasso for clamato beer and chips. There really isn't much to do in this town. I dug a little deeper, but came up empty, though I was glad for a little more sneaking around.

Kennett Square might be great if you have lots of dedication, but from the periphery it's quaint and a little expensive. Mostly people here have jobs. I have a a job too, but it doesn't define me, and I think I don't really belong.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

By the time I left, I was glad I was there.

About writing this nonsense:

I've forgotten how to write. My brain is trying to rhyme and keep a cadence, even though I'm only shooting for sentences. It's distracting, and I'm not sure what's going on. In any case, as always, this is merely an electronic heap of words. This is mostly for my own reference later, but anyone is welcome to watch me get dressed.

I'll say something else. I'm definitely up and down. When I type it sounds a lot worse. I'll crack my way out of this funk, because time passes, and that's what happens. I'm not trying to shout out too loud, and I'm not exactly drowning always. I'm in a tight spot, and I'm moving on. It doesn't look pretty as I type every day.

I have one more note. I'm trying to write more often, so it might look ugly. As always, read this shit at your own risk. I'm trying to impress people, but not every day. I'm making it impossible to find the entries that I'm proud of. But that is not my concern today.

How today actually went: 

Today? Today was all about more due diligence. Usually for book sales, I stick closer to home. Today I branched out into Maryland. The going was rough. Locals in sweatpants scrambled for scraps. The rooms were small, and there were not many books. It was worth being active, but I lowered the bar. It was haggard and rough and made me wonder what I'm doing.

As usual, I didn't eat food, and ended up holding a shelf for support. After the first sale, I looked for more opportunities to drive around and find more books. A little bit of searching revealed another sale, which happened to be thirty minutes away.

The second sale was far worse than the first. More sweatpants and desperation. People were clawing for air as they sank in the lake. I was severely ready to be finished. Instead I stepped back and took a deep breath. I looked around the room again. In all the foolishness, people usually miss something. In the corner were carts full of discarded books on CD. Nobody seemed to have noticed. I went over there and started looking up prices, and by the time I left I was glad I was there.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Sticks and bits of cotton.

I sped away fast, and headed toward Shawn's. Loud music and a large van cruising toward Delaware. Shawn's up late, and I was there five minutes faster than anyone would have guessed. I don't remember what happened next - but then the sun was up and birds were nesting inside my head.

Sticks and bits of cotton were being stuffed in my skull. I woke up in my van next to the fence.

The day began late, but I thought I'd make an effort. I did not disappoint myself there. A little bit of effort every single day, and I won't have to be sad that I'm a slouch. I spent the day in Delaware doing what should be done. While the sun was up, the music was loud. The day became darker and numbness returned.

Jonas contacted me about an open mic. I put it in drive, and went to Philly. I kept sticking around for a few more songs. I thought about beer, but opted for coffees instead. The nesting was still not complete. I was a marionette with severed strings; doing my best under the circumstances.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I don't know if "hi" would have helped. But it would have been worth a try.

One person in the room was obviously slipping. I should have said hello after the meeting, in case she needed to talk. Instead, I convinced myself that I was the wrong guy for the job. I was Bozo the Clown in thin blue shoes. I already felt out of place. She had a problem that was chewing her up - and all of us there were useless humans.

I'm trying to meet new people and enter the actual world. To that end, I downloaded the "Meetup" app, and looked at what was on offer. I found a group for ADHD people, and I thought I'd give that a shot. I struggle to open mail and accomplish daily tasks, so I thought it might be novel to see if anybody else was on that boat. The subject of the meeting was "finding happiness," and I took that as a positive sign. I thought that might be time better spent than bashing my brain out with a rock.

The invitational write-up said the meeting was for parents and adults with ADHD. What I should have been able to read between the lines was that this was not for parents necessarily with ADHD, but parents who fear their kids might grow up looking and acting like me. The ultimate irony is that it was close in style to a classroom format. I stuck out like the sorest thumb.

A specific problem is nagging this woman. She couldn't articulate what she wanted to say. She spoke with a whisper of breath, and she was clearly holding back tears. Her question was quiet and her timing was off. She said she couldn't let something go. Nobody knew what to say, so we waved it off like it didn't exist. The subject was changed with a banal suggestion from the moderator. Maybe nobody could see she was crumbling. But I think that was hard to miss. She was falling apart and conveniently ignored. There was no place in the discussion for advanced holy shit.

I was the youngest one there, with the only mohawk. I was the dirtiest one who had the least money, and was headed home to have the most wine. I felt welcomed as a novelty at best. As soon as I walked in, I should have left.

There were more fancy purses and expensive cars than people who I think might have ADD. This was a room full of mostly parents who were annoyed their kids don't do better in school. Except for one lady, who was far worse off than me, though at a glance she appeared to fit in. She talked to exactly nobody, and she was the first to leave.

I walked out the door directly behind her, and stayed back and to the left as I walked to my van. She got into her car with her head hanging down. She sat there in the cold and didn't turn on the engine. She didn't move or look at her phone.

I should have stepped up and said something. Even if it was just "hi."

Monday, November 14, 2016

Ten grand in the hole.

I've been working on sorting out my taxes. The government wants my money back since 2014. I've employed a team of accountants, and the whole ordeal is an expensive mess. Turns out they say I owe $10,000. That's not something I make in a day. First I hit the roof. Then I shrugged, 'cause what else is new.

So I worked. I made stacks of books and rows of boxes. I put shrinkwrap on lots of audiobooks. I'm going to dig myself out of the hole. I'll ask my wife to chip in her half, and she'll type me a little "fuck you." It won't be funny, it'll hurt my feelings, then I'll get a little bit mad.

I drank a giant bottle of discount wine and exchanged texts with a pretty much stranger. Another day in the bag.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Kicking through horseshit.

I did the bare minimum. I put bottles in a bag, and put the bag in the van. Kristin came to get a bunch of her stuff. I fucking hate it here now. There's moments that aren't terrible, but I mostly want to either fall asleep or blow up the planet.

There was a gathering at the house next to this one. Everyone was invited over, like a gathering of neighbors sort of thing. I tried to bow out, but thought better of it. It was fine. There was talk about foxes and hawks. None of it made much sense. Then there was dessert.

Mostly I'm losing my mind still. I hate to say that, because I know people get much worse. Complaining about it doesn't make anything better. But I have about 100 things I would like to blow up. I don't want to go into detail now, but suffice it to say there's a lot of horseshit to kick through.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Looking for diamonds in a haystack.

A strong genuine effort. A rewarding day. Books were going for five dollars per bag, and I filled mine past the brim. I stretched the plastic bags until the books cost twenty cents each. I woke up early and was the first on the scene. I skip hardcover fiction, and scour under tables, and check every DVD in the place. I open up boxes, and sit on the floor, and make neat piles according to size.

I sat back in the van and drank more coffee and looked at my custom map. I zoomed in on my location, and checked the markers, and made a plan of attack. I identified nearby sources, and made the rounds until late afternoon. I get in the zone, and forget to eat, and lurch around like a zombie. I'm making money and getting things done, and celebrating maybe too much.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Coughing, stealing, and getting committed.


I stole a bunch of textbooks. Well, I won't say "stole" but I took. I've done that before and I'll do it again. I did it right in front of a cop.


I pulled up to the window and a minute later, she told me she checked herself in. I'm pleasantly surprised when people confide, especially when it makes zero professional sense. She got better, it seems, in the end.

Much later

I woke up with a hacking cough. I could see my breath and I hurt my throat, and wheezed till I hurt my chest. I stood up then and went into the house, and drank an enormous amount of water. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Doctors, solar power, and flamethrowers.

The Fight Against Darkness

Life is much better when the sun comes out. But I'm still not riding bicycles, and that's my big mistake. My absence from cruising is what's causing my problems. That doctor prescribed me Zoloft, which upon reading about seems a little extreme. With a minute of research I found vitamins and fish oil, which seems a little more my speed. More bicycles, less doctors. Less rain. Moving ahead.

Letting In the Light

I have a solar panel and controller kit on the way. 100 watts of solar should be enough, since I've gone with zero before. I intend to be in direct sunlight always, so that should cook my batteries alive. I don't have water pumps and TV, so my rough estimate is it'll be FINE. I have an antenna that magnifies wifi, so I estimate that I'll be the KING.

Trimming the Weeds

Business is boring, but my aim is to type. Today was all coffee and screens. I have seven thousand books for sale, and a quarter of them are bad. By "bad" I mean that they won't make money. Technically they cost me to keep. These are mostly duds purchased two years ago, which is part of the nature of this job. I slashed at my prices for hours. It costs fifteen cents each to destroy them, so I'm crossing my fingers I sell them at all. If I could do it myself, I'd use a flamethrower on them, but Bezos does not approve of that plan. You can ignore them for years, but eventually they catch up, and you'll deal with them in the end. I have books on the other side of the spectrum - fresh and expensive and I like them a lot - but today was about trimming the weeds.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Falling apart, and coming back together.

I was up late checking in with the election, and in awe when I heard the results. I fell asleep feeling damp and cold and woke up with a headache and buzz.

It was rain all day, but I had to move - to see the doctor at 10 o'clock. I asked about Paxil, because now's the time if there ever is one. She studied her iPhone and said something about it being incompatible, even though she gave it to me last year. She looked up Zoloft, and I didn't like the sound of that, but her phone said it was incompatible as well.

"Which is more important?" she asked. I was in disbelief. I'm fucking falling apart. "I need Adderall to work at all." I answered, but that's all I could get across.

I need a new doctor. Sometimes she asks a question, and I can see clearly that she ignores my response. Her exam tables were made in the Soviet Union, and I think she mostly sells prescription wrinkle creams. I go there because it is the path of least resistance, and I take that path every time. I need a doctor who knows about ADHD and pretends to give a shit when my mind is broken glass.

I went outside in the rain again, unaware of the result. I guess I'll see if CVS has depression meds for me, because I got no clear answer about that. I climbed in my van, and turned on the radio, which is tuned permanently to NPR.

I turned off the radio immediately. I'd had coffee, no breakfast, and was almost still drunk. My skin felt like cold steel covered in condensation. I backed out of my spot, and started to drive away.

Nope! That won't work. I pulled over and started to sob.

I yelled and used logic and put it in drive, and made it back to home base. I had eggs and more coffee and stacked up some books, and made a pile of boxes as well.

I can fix myself partially by blasting Big Freedia in the van as I creep around in the rain. My friend made a pizza and we watched some TV, and I fell asleep next to a creek.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Staying current; following trends.

I spent the day confirming what I already know. I paid for a video course that shows information about what I already do. I try to stay current, and follow new trends, in business if not in life.

Then I voted, but with a twinge of regret, because Pigasus was not on the ballot.

Later in the day, I was able to manage a second wave. I made tall stacks of books, and put them in boxes, before retiring to my rolling cave.

Soup, beer, and lighting my shoe on fire.

I was hanging out with Dave. We went up town in Kennett. On cold nights like this, the van is no place to entertain. The temperatures are low, so the doors are closed. We went up town where I got soup and beer.

Later, I was up until midnight texting a random person on my new app. An excellent person!

Then I smelled burning rubber, and I felt warmth on my shoe. Mr. Buddy, my heater, had been working on it for a minute. I jerked my shoe away quickly, and had a real smoker on my foot.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Looking for transmissions from the bottom of a lake.

I'm back in the burbs. Back next to the big house. Refreshed from my outing in the city. Back to spending my days in a house, and having access to power from a long orange cord.

I'm downloading apps to try to meet people. I'm sifting through data and looking for weirdos. I'm avoiding people with degrees and careers, and looking for transmissions from the bottom of a lake. I make a profile, and put myself out there like a severed head on a stick. 

Ever since high school, I have been playing this game. Back when Yahoo Chat had real people and Instant Messenger was used by everybody, I would be up until 4am. Later, I used Craigslist platonic to find situations, and exchanged millions of words throughout time. I mostly like chat, but sometimes we meet. Sometimes we email for six years, and sometimes I fall asleep on their floor or their bed.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Waking up next to the old prison.

The joy is when you kick open the doors!

The best part of waking up is when you kick open the doors.

You stand up, and fart, and put on your pants. You lean on the woodwork as you put on your shoes. These days, I fold over the lower third of my bed. I take a long pull from an old jug of water. I pull the handle on the left double door, and push it forcefully open to the outside world. This gives access to an additional handle, and I shove the right door open as well. Cool fresh air rushes inside. I am amused to see where I am.

I sat for hours and read a book. I spent more money on questionable food. I returned to the expo to geek out some more, and then it was time for the burbs.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Three days in Philadelphia

I woke up cold and early with dirty cranks in my face. I was surrounded by a bicycles - one that I love, one that I like, and one that I'm getting rid of today. I squirmed from sleeping bag #2 - the cheaper one that I bought used at a gear store twelve years ago. It's good when it's not terribly cold. I pissed in the correct wine bottle, and made a third mental note to organize a better system of separation, lest some day I make a mistake.

I pulled up the curtain and sat at the wheel. 

I cruised near the bicycle shop on Fairmount Avenue. I parked beside the Eastern State Penitentiary, which is now just for show. I shut off the engine for the next two days. Fancy neighborhood, convenient location. I got rid of the bicycle that I liked the least.

I went to get coffee, and added some food. I'm fucking up and I know it - spending like this - the money in my wallet flies out like birds. My wallet is packed and then it's refilled. I'm doing a bad job of taking care of my interests.

I cruised downtown to the Bicycle Expo. I spent all day, and had legitimate fun. I'm alone and I'm lonely, but I'm also a nerd. This is what I like to see. I talked to some people and attended seminars. 

At the end I cruised north, back to the van, to drop off some items and attain other ones. I took wine to the river. I wore a warm hat, and every so often a fish made a splash. I went to a bar and ate tacos for dinner, and paid the full price for being unprepared. 

I returned late to the van and laid down in wonder. The Eastern State Pen is still hosting an event called "Terror Behind the Walls." It's for Halloween, but it's still going on, and zombies in prison guard uniform milled outside the van, eliciting screams from passers by. I was satisfied, and by 3am it was over, and the people from the bars were all gone. I assume I slept at least some. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Buyer's remorse and a rod-brake Raleigh.

I went to happy hour before bidding on some bikes. I'm in Philadelphia for three days to spy on bicycles and try to stay warm. I parked a block from Frankford, where the neighborhood is fancy, and rode to the auction against some wind.

A well known shop is auctioning off items, and I got a two bicycles for the minimum bid. I got a frame and some saddles, and it didn't make much sense. The atmosphere was depressing; the room felt dirty and slow. The lighting looked like the 1980's but I didn't know where else to go. 

I regretted my purchases and left early. I forfeited a good parking spot to return with my van. 

The saving grace was a rod-brake Raleigh. I don't need it, but I like it, and couldn't leave it alone. 

I parked again in a worse spot, drank white wine, and texted with a girl who I met on the trail.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

I celebrate that my part is done.

Literally, what I need to do here is make a plan. I've been feeling a little mopey-dopey, which gets magnified when I type. I don't like to brag, but I have a few things together, and I'd like to take that show on the road.

The story is always the same. Balance. On one hand the van, on the other hand money.

I want the van to be incredibly ready, which means more ready than it is right now. Solar panels and a little more wood. Some better wires, and soon I'll be ready. I have to learn, purchase, drill, cuss, and wonder. I've been there before, I can do that again. I need to close my eyes and jump. That's what my brain manual says.

I am not as confident as I'd like to be that I can make money on the road, though this worry will probably be assuaged once I try and succeed well enough.

I need places to go! I need some warmer places arranged in a line, where I can weave though while working and meeting people too. Maybe that's a tall order. People don't meet people anymore. How does that work? If I start talking to somebody, they will think I'm insane. I can't even guarantee they are wrong. I'm positive of nothing. I'm making this up as I go. I'll try to meet insane people.

Before leaving, I was going to work a little harder, to line up more income after I leave. That's a good idea, but it might also be an excuse to drag my feet, which is what I'm telling myself not to do.

Today was good. I filled my van with enough boxes to surprise a guy at the shipping store. The sheer weight and volume of the boxes of books made them anxious to see the end. The industrial handtruck was loaded to the hilt, as I marched back and forth from the van to the store. They were sick of me by the time I was finished, and I've been sick of that place from the start: they have frowns and passive aggressive signs. If they don't like boxes, they should start selling cupcakes, and leave the lifting to real men like me. Every so often, I man up, and I find great pleasure in trying to bury that place in fifty-pound boxes of bricks. Oh, how they frown, and oh how I smile, and I celebrate that my part is done.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Happy birthday. Art, spaghetti, and shaking my head.

I'm 34 years old now. The day breezed past without much notice. I didn't do much work, which is birthday-excusable, but I also don't do much other days. My time in Kennett should be truncated shortly. I need to be careful how long I remain, or I will become carpet or wallpaper, which is hard to remove.

Eventually, I made my way to her house. By then I forgot it was my birthday, but she cooked me spaghetti, and I kept my hands to myself. I drank some old whiskey I found, and she had some rum. I'm still technically married, though I watched it fall apart, and she kicked her guy out last week.

I pulled her close and put my chin on her head. I put on my sweatshirt and left.

The temperature was mild, and my van was well parked, and I had Mike on the line for an hour. I went to sleep watching the funniest show ever. It's called Ice Road Truckers, and it is performance art. Like I said earlier tonight, if a guy stands on one leg for long enough, at a certain point it is art, and this show is art in that sense.

I breathe in, forget, and hold it. I notice, exhale, and shake my head. There might have been the start of a laugh. I hope so. After all, I am alive.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Mr. Buddy Heater and how hot it makes your pants.


I finished buying plenty of books. If I did this well regularly, I could work for less than ten days out of the month. It's been a long time since I've put forward a consistent effort. It's not really what I'm good at, but I'm relieved every day for having what I have.

I made a good effort two days in a row. But I felt lonely, cold, and bored. That doesn't say much great about the romanticized vision of "living in a van." Hopefully I'll be back to more golden times soon. For now, I'm floating around like a freeloader in a very comfortable safety net. All the white guilt and privilege makes me confused about how I'm supposed to feel.

I went back to Kennett in time to watch Jeopardy and help occupy the couch. There is a remote control for the fireplace, and us Harnes have been doing well with the clues.

Mr. Buddy is a good friend.

Most people who sleep in a van know this, and probably a lot who don't. The propane Mr. Buddy heater works. I have one in a box, but due to faulty electrical workings inside my brain, I forgot to bring that with me for last night. I've had the heater for two years, but haven't used it in a van. I had it as a backup in the tiny house, but our oversized vented heater there could keep everything at a toasty 96 degrees.

I screwed a one-pound Coleman propane can into Mr. Buddy, and marched it right outside. Cranked on low, it made the van a great place for white wine and downloaded shows.

  1. Click the heater on for five minutes, and off again for ten. 
  2. Crack a window, and never leave it on while you sleep. 

It's not exactly like indoor HVAC, but it gets the job done. I like watching the blue flames ripple for a few seconds before the ceramic plate starts to glow. Next I like how my pants get hot to the touch. Finally, my brow sprouts sweat, and I take off my hat.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Shackleton's men were cold. And I am not depressed.

I woke up on the floor of the van. I hate the cold. My sleeping bag was warm like summer, and emerging from it was an assault. It took hours to wake up and feel human. I hate the cold. I felt as gray inside as the sky above. An overpriced coffee gave me no joy. I used the toilet at Acme, and an old man pleaded at me through the door: he really had to go! 

"No," I thought. "This is not at all like being on a tropical island."

I managed to start my day. I managed to go to the places where books are sold. As far as doing what makes me money, I had a great day. The job is going well, but maybe my guts and brains are a little smashed up. Probably focusing on reading and crochet would be better than Yukon and friends. I know this. I'll make an adjustment.

But I am not depressed! I was at a party recently where the only rule was don't fall into the pool. Bands played, and cans were smashed on the floor.

I've been having a great time. I've been hanging out with friends, and I went to another party with fiddles and other traditional strings.

Back to this day, it had a slow start. The sun eventually pushed a few rays through the foliage, and I knew it was not cold. Shackleton's men were cold. This is merely autumn. I have a little bit of time still to plan and prepare my exit.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bar tour of Bryn Mawr. Awake after the trail.

I'm back after ten days on the Appalachian Trail with Jonas. I can't say enough positive things about the trip, and I will be attempting to describe it all in an article I'm working on.

The woods give a person plenty of time to think. You walk along with nothing to do but think for hours at a time. The scenery is nice, though a bit repetitive, and it is easy to start poking around below the surface of the mush of your brain. After a few days, I was digging deep in the spaghetti, and I took a few truths to heart.

Obviously I thought about how I'm still married. That's a baloney subject. I'd need at least two computers to type that up for real. I guess somebody is going to have to do something about paperwork to get a divorce. I really hate being called mean, because I try so fucking hard to be nice that I've almost let it ruin my life a few times. So the whole situation has left me as a lonely guy with hurt feelings and an exploding head. It's not that bad - I know how to handle that. This ship is in well charted territory, and I know I'll get back to land.

The second obvious revelation was immediately actionable: I need to sew the fucking curtains for the van. I've been working on some blackout curtains for a century. Bunch of cloth in a bag is the point I was at. The day I got home, I had those curtains sewed up, and I patted myself on the back for the progress.

Another obvious realization about the van: I don't like the bed I made. I want to sleep on the floor. I've been seeing a lot of fancy #vanlife photos, and that's not where I'm at. I want a mattress on the floor that I can fold and shove out of the way when I need to. So I took out the bed, built another small storage unit where the bed used to be, and now I'm happy. Ready to roll.

With the new curtains and bed setup, I felt ready to get reacclimated to stealth parking. I knew it was time to get serious about purchasing more books, so that's what I aimed to do. I haven't visited most of my best sources for many months, so I had immediate success and many good finds. I operate mostly in the affluent suburbs to the west of Philly, and I have enough sources there to spend at least a few days. I spent the night stealth parked in Bryn Mawr to eliminate more than two hours of driving from my schedule.

It's cold. I'm lonely.

I finished up work for the day, found a parking spot, and immediately had difficulty imagining what to do for the next six hours. Usually, I might prefer doors wide open, beautiful vistas, and some music playing. It was cold and I couldn't think of any ocean or mountain views in Bryn Mawr. Instead I went to a slew of bars.

Bar tour of Bryn Mawr: 

First I went to The Grog. People in fancy shirts ate wings off of square white plates. Lager was $4 a pint. I was hoping the bartenders would be rude since Yelp practically promised poor treatment. Instead, they seemed preoccupied with being monochrome as I sat there bundled in two sweatshirts feeling aloof. Another beer? "No thanks. I gotta go."

I headed a few doors down to Erin Pub. There is no apostrophe 's'. So the pub itself is named Erin, and presumably no owner by that name exists. The doorknob has fallen apart, and you have to push the door hard. The interior is a time capsule, but the price of a pint went down by fifty cents. It was deserted. In spite of the first game of the World Series in progress, this pub was tuned to hockey. I had a second pint, and floated slowly out the door.

I continued further down the block to McCloskey's Tavern. Yelp said people like it there. Incredibly, they do not have Yuengling on tap, but fuggit, because Budweiser is a $3 pint. There were people at the bar, and they all seemed to know each other. Nobody seemed fancy, and the World Series was on the TV. I don't care much about baseball, except if I'm at a bar with twenty six drinks.

"Another pint and a shot of Yukon."

That's how it begins. I scan around behind the bar, see the Yukon Jack, and then get funny ideas. The place cleared out, and I found out why people like McCloskey's. They probably all had the same bartender. We talked for awhile about matters better than weather. I stayed warm and occupied until it was time to go for real. The youth shift arrived to play darts, and I exited the front. The door flew open, and the bartender appeared behind me with a raised arm.

"Goodnight, my friend!" He hurried over to the door only to say that? I returned the wave and wished him well. Maybe he wanted to make sure I was standing.

When I got back to the van, the night was colder than before. My plan has been to stay in Pennsylvania for another couple months, but the temperature had me mentally amending that idea. I sat on my mattress and wrapped myself in my sleeping bag like a cloak. I smoked a light dusting of the driest and oldest marijuana. I listened to the same two songs and fell asleep.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Future, The Future, and Right Now.

I'd say that except for having too much space, my new Dodge van is great. I think I'm about 85% ready to start trippin'. My curtains need some work. I want to work on the battery box and electrical. I doubt I'm going to get solar panels on there before I go. Brain's a little mushy for that.

My ability to self-motivate is total shit. That's not such a bad thing, it's just a long-term fact. I can surely bust my ass on whatever single project I am most interested in at any moment, but anything other than that, I can hardly lift a finger. The curtains I am working on are not a difficult project. Little bit of cutting and sewing. The battery box is easy too. But I feel like I have about 3-4 productive hours each day before my brain turns into a pancake. I've been using those hours to make myself sell books.

The Near Future:

I'm leaving on October 9th. Me and Jonas are going to hike the Appalachian Trail starting where we left off last year. Hopefully I'll write about that. Paradoxically, I most want to write about adventure and travel here, but that is what I tend to omit. I haven't been good at turning notes into posts. I let it all get backed up until writing all the posts seems like an overwhelming task. Then I don't do it. I also don't open my mail for six months at a stretch. Good. Plenty of room to improve.

The Slightly Farther Future:

I'm going to write this here to remind myself: I am going to drive south soon. I need to buy and sell a lot more books first. I need to do those things to the van. If I do it right, January sales will be enough to float me for a few months. I want to be in Key West by New Years. Hopefully I'll be comfortable there, and lord willing I'll meet some people. At bare minimum, I will have a bicycle and a warm island.

Right Now:

I'm getting ready to hit the road. It's slow and I don't see a lot of daily progress. I need to remind myself that's normal. I've been hanging out in the van. I've been watching Ice Road Truckers and trying to keep it to the right amount of wine. The nights are getting colder. I have a cheap old sleeping bag, and I am sleeping like a king.

My alarm is a phone, and it goes off at 9am. I made a schedule for myself, and sometimes it works. I let the alarm go off for about ten minutes before I finally get up to turn it off. If I hit snooze, I'll be hitting it forever. If I turn off the alarm, I will be getting up past 11.

I go inside and make coffee first. During the week, my dad leaves enough coffee in the pot for me to have a cup. On weekends, everybody here uses the Keurig. In the morning there is always TV. Morning shows: where they try to sell you shoes and make it look like news.

After my first coffee, I take an Adderall. Pretty soon, I take out a pan. Most of the time, I put in about a third of a can of beans. Sometimes discount ham. Once that's pretty hot, I crack two eggs on top. Thirty seconds later, I break the yolks. I've been mixing and flipping the eggs for months. I've tried every variable and heat setting. I started adding more pepper. Every time it's pretty much alright. Beans and eggs are good.

Around 11am, I have to get to work. I'm awake, and it's time to get started. This is the beginning of my 3-4 hour window when anything feels possible. I leverage this energy - usually, I try - into working on shipping out books. We all need money, which pretty much means a job. This is a good one. I'd rather keep on sleeping, but this isn't bad.

My brain becomes an idiot around 4pm. I could take a second Adderall at 2pm, but instead I am stockpiling pills for future use. I am prescribed two, and I take one. Soon I will have enough to last for months on the road. (On the road I will take less than one pill per day.) Getting Adderall while traveling feels like an almost insurmountable obstacle. Even though I have insurance. Expensive and compulsory insurance. [Fuck everyone. Fuck everything.]

I watch some more TV with my folks at night. Jeopardy for sure. Then shows about beating houses with a sledgehammer. The shows are all the same.

Then I go and spend the next twelve hours at home. A van beside a house.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Ice Road Truckers is great.

Shit's going great. I downloaded season 10 of Ice Road Truckers. Let me tell you about that.

There are no spoiler alerts possible for IRT. The show itself is one long tease where nothing... actually... ever... happens. I get a real bang out of it. I remember watching some of this show in 2008, and I was blown away to see that they're still doing it.

Ice Road Truckers.

They drive big rigs in the far north to get supplies to remote locations. To get there, they have to drive across frozen lakes. If the ice is too thin, a truck goes in - or at least that's what they promise. I haven't seen a truck go through the ice yet, so I checked with the internet. Turns out a truck has never gone through the ice. A spoiler is when you say what did happen. What do you call it when you point out that nothing really ever does? I didn't spoil anything. I'd blame the camera crew for getting zero footage of sinking trucks.

This might sound like I don't like Ice Road Truckers as a show. Not true. I think it's a gas. You just can't take it literally. The semi-scripted action is pure banality, and I am highly amused at how they try to spice it up. They talk all about how they're probably gonna go through the ice. It's quaint and theatrical. They're so ready to go through the ice. They open the door as they cross the ice slowly - one guy steers from the running board prepared to bail. They talk about how they could be stranded if they break down, but help is always there.

I'll tell you what a real show is: Highway Thru Hell. Not the American one. The Canadian one. That show follows a tow truck company that recovers crashed big rigs along a horrendous stretch of highway. Winter in Canada. It looks pretty miserable. Everybody takes themselves very seriously. I am greatly amused. The conflicts are exaggerated; people get pissed off. As angry as they ever get, they are still Canadian, so they can't help being weirdly polite.

I would hate to watch those shows with commercials, but that's what torrents are all about. I've got that VPN shit set up, so I'm safe. Until the VPN fails for a split second - then my folks get their nineteenth warning that their son is a crook, he's crooking around on their internet, and he downloaded HBO*

*all of it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Look how awesome I can park.

Look at this!

I worked a half day at the bicycle shop today, and this is how I parked. If you want to know my secret, it's all about hitting both of those cars a few times.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Infinite bivy guarantee.

Outdoor Research is a company that makes camping stuff. I presume they wear lab coats when they hike. They've evidently gathered the right facts, because my bivy has been great thus far.

In 2007, I bought an expensive Gore-Tex bag in Montreal. I used it to sleep in some pretty weird places. Now the white coating on the floor is flaking off and getting white shit everywhere. And whatever seals the seams is turning yellow and falling apart. Fortunately there is an "infinite guarantee," so I investigated that.

I put that bag through its paces, and I understand that things wear out. Regardless, once I sent some photos, they said they'd help me out. If I send them back my bivy, they'll send me a brand new one. The problem is that it takes a long time. Fair is fair, but I'm going to be on the trail in a week.

I don't know. Either I'm going to send back the bivy, and hike around with a whole tent, or I'm going to delay the bivy return and wake up covered in flakes of white shit. Probably soon would be a good time to decide. There's this question and several more.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Trexlertown Bicycle Swap. (still one bicycle to ride.)

The bicycle swap meet at Trexlertown happens twice a year. Spring and Fall. People set up folding tables and lay out blankets all around the velodrome. They lay out bicycles, frames, wheels, and parts for every type of bicycle from every era of cycling. Spandex-y bicycle shops try to blow out last year's inventory. Greasy bicycle shops go to stock up on repair parts. I used to go to buy low and sell high. Now I go mostly for myself.

Arriving the night before is a ritual. People get there early and build a few fires - in the back of a field and beside the gravel part of the parking lot. It's a secluded location, so this kind of thing flies. Greasy enthusiasts drink beer and talk excitedly about bicycle touring. As close as I can tell, these folks are my people. If you give a slight allowance, I almost fit right in.

There was no party this year. The forecast was for cold and rain. I can't sit still before game day, so I drove up early and arrived as the sky became dark. Aside from an RV in the main parking lot, and a pickup truck parked in the grass, I was alone. I had a hoagie, a full charge on my laptop, and a fresh skein of yarn. I had 51 ounces of beer from Acme, and a tall pumpkin spiced coffee from the Wawa.

I had a nice little evening to myself. Watched a movie; practiced some crochet. I slept well. When I woke up at 6am, I knew I wouldn't get back to sleep. I rose up, put on some pants, and headed straight back to the Wawa a few miles away. I got another tall coffee - pumpkin spice again - and two breakfast sandwiches for now and later.

I took a new spot close to the side gate, and pretty soon people started to arrive. Shelly and Nielle showed up, and I helped set up a table and a tent. For that plus $15 I got a special wristband that let me on the track an hour early.

I had $1000 in my pocket. All 10's and 20's to make it easier to spend.

I've seen better swap meet turnouts. There was lots of empty space. I didn't bargain hard enough, and felt less invested than times in the past. The threat of rain never materialized, but I suspect it kept people away.

I made circle after circle, buying bread and butter parts. Square taper bottom brackets, discount derailleurs, old handlebars, and of course lots of cranks. I got a Holdsworth frame for $20 - big dent in the top tube, and also missing the fork. I never back down from a challenge. I don't always step up, but I don't back down much either. Show me a damaged frame-up project, and I'll show you twenty bucks. Yes, sir. I bought pedals. I got Dura Ace and Suntour. I got a Shimano Sante bottom bracket. I got a Specialized bottom bracket with a Hatta nutted spindle. I got a Dean seatpost, and Campy Record carbon ergo shifters. Everything was barely making sense.

I stuck around until the end, and had a little less than half of my money left. The bank envelope was thin and deteriorated. I ate the cold second sandwich. I loaded up and went home.

Some of these parts will be sold. Some of them will be used for my own experimental projects. But as I drove home from the swap, I felt a certain doubt that any of my projects are getting finished fast. In fact, I bought that new frame, so the incomplete bicycles are only adding up. I have a new personal rule to leave the Hoopty alone. I need at least one bicycle to actually ride some time.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

When you need to go away for awhile.

I woke up late, and read highlights from the debate. I'm sleeping in the van. I'm hanging out there at night. The van is parked in the driveway at my folks'.

I have no business here. My veins are pumping molasses. I need to hustle, wrap up, and drive toward a brighter sun. Instead I'm drinking white wine and calling people up. It's getting to be a mess.

I'm feeling real bad for myself. I need to take my wedding ring and throw it in the toilet. Instead, I keep wearing it, and going to the bar.

The bar is awful. What an expensive and horrible place. I sit and stare at nothing. I try to stay upright while the wrong song might send me off my seat. I try to stay upright while I'm overcharged for beer.

I'm feeling like a loser. I fact check the idea, and I know I need to go. I contribute nothing, and hover daily. I make stacks of dirty books and shrug off anything productive.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Storage and a bed in my long and tall van.

This is information about my van and how big it is. I had a different post about how my head is falling off and I'm becoming insane, but that's saved as a draft.

Sketchup is a great program. I can't even scrape the surface of the program's capabilities, but I can stick rectangles together pretty good. Plywood and 2-by-4's are all 3-D rectangles. I can't draw for shit. When somebody says they designed something on a napkin, my first response is "fuck you." 

This storage unit is made from two sheets of $28 plywood, and I have leftovers. I had the jerk at Home Depot cut the sheets on their panel saw to 13" strips. Yes, he was a jerk, and I don't know why. I try to be this nice kind of quirky meek guy, and I regret it when someone is a dick. "Just cut the fuckin' wood" I could have said. But I might regret that too.

This is a bed that can slide out. You can slide it in to make more space in the aisle. The slats of wood are 1-by-3's. 

I stained all this wood. I added iron-on edge banding to the face of the storage unit. I wouldn't do any of that again. Staining wood is a pain. Edge banding doubly so.

So, I'm doing this work to the van. I can't claim I'm excited to move back in. I took down the remnants of what Kristin added. I removed what didn't fit. I know the van is my best option - better than anything else. But I reserve the right to put my head through a wall.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Mike Price and the low-flying heat-seeking chopper.

Mike Price waddled into camp panting. The old man had a fresh red pack that looked blown up like a balloon. It must have weighed a hundred pounds. We heard him coming from a mile away.

"Was that you tootin' off the airhorn?" I questioned, as he sat at the picnic table across from me and Jonas.

He confirmed that it had been. He had a red sweaty face and labored breathing, but I could see that something more was wrong. He was bug-eyed from more than exhaustion, and the impending drama was almost palpable from the offset.

"Have you seen a guy named Steve Pippin?"

Me and Jonas started hiking the Appalachian Trail from the start. This was the third night, and we were getting into the swing of it. We were sleeping in the shelters along the trail, and since it was off-season, we mostly had them to ourselves. The sun was getting low, and we had maybe an hour until final light. We were finishing dinner and spouting off nonsense when Mike burst in.

Mike and this guy Steve were hiking south together, and they got separated. There was a long rocky climb, and their packs were at least as heavy as Jonas's and mine combined. There were bear bells clanging, yellow walkie-talkies, and somewhere an airhorn. I got no opportunity to rifle through his gear, but I suspect the abundance of communication devices was only a hint of a far deeper absurdity.

We had not seen Steve Pippin. To an already rattled Mike Price this was grim news. This was dire indeed.

They had an agreement, he explained. As he was huffing and puffing up the mountain, Steve went ahead. He said that he would go to the top, drop off his pack, and return to help Mike with his. Simple as that. Clear and simple. When Steve failed to return, Mike could imagine only one reason: he fell off the mountain. The trail was steep, and there were places to fall. He tried the walkie talkie and the airhorn. Nothing. The only explanation was death.

I suspected from the first telling that Steve Pippin was very alive. Communication-obsessed as they seemed, wires do get crossed. Miscommunication has been known to occur. I tried to explain my theory of unknown variables, but it's hard to console a baby twice your age. It was hard to impart the value of staying calm.

A miscommunication did not register as possible. In fact, as Mike Price replayed the events endlessly, he only became more certain of doom. He added to the story, and soon Steve Pippin had been adamant: "We're a team!" Mike now remembered him proclaiming.

Likely scenarios be damned. Waiting until morning wouldn't do. Steve Pippin was dead or dying, and the time for action was now. As the light began to fade, Mike returned to the trail to retrace his steps. He looked like he wanted to see a ghost. It was hard to regard him as a simple annoyance, because he looked like he might begin to cry. He was a child who gave up when he got lost in the mall. He was afraid of being alone.

It was business as usual once he left. Read a few pages and set up for bed.

"Goddamn this man," I thought, as I handed Mike Price my phone charger. He huffed and puffed back into camp at midnight, and his panic was now in full bloom. He needed to call the authorities, but his phone was almost as dead as his friend. In all that luggage, he didn't have a battery. He needed to waste the power that I was saving for sexy texts to my future wife. But it would have been callous to refuse.

With his phone getting juice, he called cops and wives, and attempted to cast all manner of alarm as far and wide as possible. I pulled the flap of my bivy back over my head and tried to ignore the proceedings.

"Goddamn this man!" Mike Price had laid out his sleep shit barely a foot from my head, and now he was snoring like a Jake braking diesel.

The next thing I knew, it was 2 a.m. and flashlight beams were whirling in every direction as loud men marched into camp from the trail. Fire, Rescue, and Good Ol' Georgia Boys spilled into camp. Clamor be damned, they began to hatch plans. One of them threw a plastic water bottle on the coals of our fire, and it gave two of them a start when it whistled a reply. They smoked and chortled; ribbed and guffawed. There wasn't anything they could do, aside from show up. Well, there was one thing. And the taxpayers wouldn't mind.

Scarcely an hour later, a low flying chopper was combing over the mountain using heat seeking radar to find a body I felt sure wasn't there. They made many passes, but came up empty handed. To poor old Mike this confirmed the worst. The corpse of Steve Pippin was already cold.

"No." I said too weakly, "unknown variables" I failed to explain. I wanted to slap him to his senses, and implore logical thought. But it would be inappropriate to throttle an aging stranger.

The light had been rising, and now it was risen indeed. Once the sun made the path visible, I took Mike's water bottles to the creek. I used my filter to pump fresh water into his bright and shiny new Nalgene containers, enjoying the brief respite from the curtain of worry that had fallen over camp.

Good old Mike thanked me for the water, and he shuffled slowly down the path to look again for a decaying corpse.

Jonas and I got back to the program, and put some oats on the stove. Before the oats reached a boil, a new man strolled into camp. Big fresh red pack. Looked like it was stuffed with blankets.

"Mr. Steeeeeeeve Pippin!" I greeted him; a celebrity guest on the stage. I told him people were looking for him. I mentioned the helicopter, which he either didn't register or believe. I walked over and unclipped the walkie talkie from his pack. I said he should call Mike.

Steve Pippin turned on the walkie. After they got separated he'd never bothered to turn it on. His promise to turn back was either forgotten or it never happened. He continued on the trail much further than planned. He radiated an oblivious innocence.

Mike Price was on the horn immediately. The team would be back together at last.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

An astonishing moment from my 20's.

I'm standing on the beach in a huddle. It's late summer and hours past sunset. The sand is cool, and a breeze is keeping the bugs at bay. I'm early-20's-young, and I quit my office job a few months ago. I'm spending a week at the beach drinking wine out of bottles, and whisky-coke from plastic cups.

Down the beach in both directions, other circles of youth have started fires. The flames flicker rapidly, and light up the undersides of hats and big hair. I have two bags in my pocket.

In the darkness I reach for a bag and a bowl, and in the dim light have difficulty packing. I work carefully in the windbreak of our huddle; diligent because anything lost will be unrecoverable waste.

I put in a good amount, but when I flick the lighter I am astonished. In the bowl is not the pot I was looking for, but torn bits of psychedelic mushrooms. My astonishment is not that this has happened. What really floors me is that this has happened before.

Friday, September 2, 2016

When you really think about bicycles.

I've been spending a lot of time trying to convince myself to hide my money from myself. In my Roth IRA account, for example. So I can horse around better when I'm old. The task is made difficult by my rekindled bicycle obsession. I already have a few projects cooking, but what's a few more?

With this in mind, I bought a mini velo. If you really think about it, I had to. I've had a lifelong attraction to everything miniature, and this is a useful investment. Of course, it comes with flimsy components, so I will probably need to invest a little more and get Campagnolo shifters, especially considering I've never had them before. If you really think about it, I should do that, because 10spd Campy shifters will work with an 8spd Shimano cassette with no modifications needed. It's called a "Shimergo" setup. If you really do the math, I'll be saving money in the long run.

Plus, when I come to my senses and realize I'm not riding the bicycle, I can sell it for a slim profit anyway, like I usually do. Considering this, I should probably invest in another folding bike too.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

At this time I'm vapor.

I'm sitting in the basement in my office-like corner. I'm looking at my plans fade to shapes and shades. My head is full of mayonnaise. I'm asleep with wide eyes, forgetting how to breathe.

I would drink right now, but I can't stand up. If I stand up now, I'll have nowhere to go.

There are no conclusions here. There is nothing to fix.

I might rather feel miserable; a solid place to put my hat. But at this time I'm vapor, and it clatters to the floor.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A guy who knows how to be alive.

Except for this one time last week, I haven't been drinking. It seems recently that it doesn't mesh well with my life. I've heard some people say they outgrew drinking. I've heard midlife folks say they can't drink like they used to. That sounds like a blessing and a relief. One less devil always pissing in your shoes.

I started cycling every day, and then I looked up how many calories in beer. If I kept cruising along, I could easily replace all the calories from my ride with a few hours and a pint glass. That would almost be fine, except I also then have to wake up and pee nine times. Then I'm left with a case of the morning-mopes. I don't know when I started to pee so often, but it seems like a lot. And I won't be seeing a specialist for a matter which I wonder about generally. I'll phone the urologist once my penis falls off or turns orange.

Also, I was recently bedridden. You can forget about stacking booze with your viral meningitis. Even thin soup makes you think. So that was two weeks off drinking right there. Then for two more weeks, a single beer would sound the rampage-headache warning alarm, so I'd switch to a gallon of water. The illness gave me headache paranoia. I was scared to death of bringing a hint of that illness back.

Then I was all cured. I went to a party and got pretty buzzed off two slow beers. Then I washed down some fried chicken with all the rest of the alcohol at the party. The next day was a total loss. 

No drinking since then. I'm not making any declarations, and there's nothing here to read into. These are only words on a screen. 

I'm feeling good. I feel strong and alive. I'm sipping watered down lemonade and reading every book about bicycles and bicycling. I'm sleeping like a rock on my thin little tri-fold mattress. You gotta love a guy who knows how to be alive.