Saturday, April 30, 2016

All I saw and said in Mississippi.

We drove through a misty Mississippi. A 12-year-old girl at Walmart sucked her thumb and stared me blankly in the face while I stood in line to exchange some okra for some without mold. Everybody is wearing sweatpants, and the only commerce is in the used tire trade.

"Gettin' Wasted...." declared a skinny old black man to answer an acquaintance, while paying for more strong beer. He explained further that he just sits home an' drinks.

"These bills been through somethin'" admired the cashier when it was my turn to make a purchase. I handed her two dollar bills that had soaked in soda for most of the time we were in New Orleans. They sat in the cup holder until they were discovered and dried. The cashier got the counterfeit money pen, and drew many lines while shaking her head.

"Those bills had soda spilled on them." I explained. "I only counterfeit fifties and hundreds." She was either amused by this, or it was pity by its plain self that I saw.

On to Arkansas...

We bought a few bags of books in Pine Bluff, and brought big beers to Hot Springs, AR.

34.524065,-93.036627   [NPS campground is worth the $10, and the creek has great skipping stones]

Friday, April 29, 2016

Up into Mississippi, G...

We finally left New Orleans. We loaded up the whole yard sale of crap that's been clogging up the guest room at Ian and Sarah's place. I'm hoping we didn't overstay our welcome, but in my heart I feel sure that we were at least kicking dirt at the demarcation. I value these friends, and I'd like to see them again one day. In any case, the road was calling, and the voice was getting louder.

We rearranged everything, and got rid of slightly more. The goal now is to have short days of driving, and fill the rest of our time with productive and enjoyable activity.

We drove four hours north and cooked dinner outside an Auto Zone / Walmart.

33.472672,-89.736278  [Fine place to sleep. Okra pickles and spaghetti available in store.]

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Getting Adderall While Traveling: An Impossible Task?

Small tasks stand like mighty giants before me. Adderall helps me slay giants with a magical sword. I thank the lord.

I took our van to a Midas for a timely oil change and a gander at the AC. The air conditioning is blowing hot, and that is Not Optimal for the road ahead. I've had good luck at Midas elsewhere, so I keep going to them.

The air blows cold now. All it took was some money.

Our paychecks have been slowly drying up. Spending is beating income most every single day. The vandwelling experiment is in a slow spiral dive, and like a good pilot knows, a spiral dive doesn't feel like an imminent crash. But we need to pull up the nose.

With the object of success in mind, we got to work combing our aging book inventory. The task was daunting, but trimming the weeds was a must.

Let me talk about pills. 

I took one half of an Adderall, and the work went fine. After such a long break, my tolerance was gone. I could have groomed a poodle and cooked a steak dinner concurrent with the droll work of repricing books and mailing about a thousand duds to a deep pit in hell.

I have an Adderall stockpile, but it won't last forever. Knowing that I would be leaving Pennsylvania, I hinted that a larger dose would be better. I was blessed with a prescription for 10mg twice per day. That's 20mg per day; 60 pills per month. If I don't take it regularly, I can benefit greatly from only 5mg. So I have what's left in the bottle, plus sixty more pills back home. If I run low, I can have my helpful parents mail me more to General Delivery c/o Chris Harne wherever I am or will be.

Getting Adderall on the Road: An Impossible Task?

Why can't I get more Adderall on the road? Explaining this real problem makes me angry every time...

Health Insurance: To see a new doctor, I must first change my "Primary Care Provider" to the new doctor or else the visit will not be covered. So even if I only want to see the doctor one single time, I must first change my "PCP." Then, since I'm traveling, I have to change it back when I'm done. This takes two rounds of absolute phone hell. Worse: you won't know you need to do this until you screw it up once.

Doctors: How can I be sure a doctor will be willing to prescribe me Adderall after only seeing me one time? Adderall is a controlled substance, and many doctors treat it like you're trying to order an 8-ball. But I can't figure that out unless I make them my "Primary Care Provider" first.

I have already screwed all of this up once, and that's why I kept the same doctor even though it meant driving over an hour to get to her. It's not like there aren't doctors in Philly. The whole process gave me a real live breakdown with cussing, yelling, and crying.

Refills: Adderall is a controlled substance, and you cannot get refills. A new script must be written every time.

In Conclusion: For certain simple tasks, I am likely to become overwhelmed, enraged, or simply ignore it forever. (Paying bills is like that. I still owe the IRS for 2014.) A short to-do list will do me in. But there is a magic fix, and it is a stimulant. A tiny little stimulant will calm me down, and turn a twisted trainwreck into a simple paint-by-numbers. However, since the USA has a tendency to want to step all over my balls, I've decided to move into a van and try to focus on frying smaller fish. As it is now, I won't need to revisit this Adderall issue for maybe 5-6 months.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Swamp tours and catfish food.

Boat tour. Bayou boat tour. The aluminum boat looked like it was welded by a drunk or a novice. The price was right - Ian and Sarah got a coupon discount. The rain banged down just enough to keep the temperature comfortable. In fact, aside from sitting across from the most irritating girl in America, I think we all had a fantastic time. 

I got to hold a baby alligator. The boat operator tossed out marshmallows to entice the alligators to come and visit. Eventually, he explained the difference between Cajun and Creole. He loves the swamp. I was mostly convinced that I should to. But I'm only here for a gawk and squawk. I have other matters to attend to. 

Eating catfish. Twice now, I've had some catfish, and I'd have some more any time. A catfish po' boy at a bar that spills out onto a sidewalk - now I'm living the dream.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Oh!, my concerns, they plot and plan clamor.

When a task demands attention, I take my time. I glance askance and yawn as life's concerns convene in the corner. Asleep at my wheel, the concerns are wont to plot and plan clamor.

Increasingly bored and numerous, one of the concerns will eventually reach a boil. The result is a shouting match of many voices; one of them the loudest.


First, I will lament that I am alone in the world. The deep cycle battery gods have forsaken me, like the rafter-cutting gods of before. I have nobody to up and read a book and trouble shoot the shit in my stead. Grudgingly, I use the energy of anxious frustration to propel me forth.

My feet are heavy bags of sand. My thin arms dangle indecisively from their sockets.

I would fall asleep standing if not for incessant prodding anger; flames fanned by the mere concept and existence of variables unknown...


>>> How Ta Fix Yr F'kn Badderies, Kid: <<<
Step One: Check the voltage. 10.2 volts? Dead, dead, dead.
Second Step: Plug in the three-stage charger: the juice from the alternator was not enough.
Step Three: Wonder why I don't have a fucking extension cord in the fucking van.
Step Four Loko: Put down the Bud Ices, and go to Home Depot.
Step Five: With the batteries charging, ride bicycles all over New Orleans with Ian. Begin to remember that life is alright. 
Step Six: Renew vow to explore stoicism. 

End Note: The batteries are completely fine.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Sleeping inside.

We've been sleeping inside. We've been expanding our belongings to cover more surface area - more surfaces in more areas. We haven't gotten great at getting anything done. We should take these boxes to the UPS Store, but I've been too busy getting drunk and gluing my glasses back together.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Improving our systems.

Our van sits parked on St. Claude as we spend the nights inside on a bed. Soon we will return to our home, and find parking on the periphery of the French Quarter. We've done some walking around, but there is plenty more to enjoy.

While we have access to a house-home, we are catching up on work and minor repairs. We need to get our systems in place to sell books while traveling. We need to buy and sell more; like throwing coal in the burner of a steam engine.

I broke my spectacles. I'm not excited about the backup pair, but I am grateful to have them. Kristin's folding bicycle broke a chain, and the source of the problem is confounding. Both of these issues were addressed.

I worked through the possibilities with the bicycle, and decided the rear cog on the coaster brake hub was to blame. Process of elimination. I don't know why it was a problem, but everything else was certainly not. Sure enough, an new cog seems to have fixed it. The old one was bizarrely wide, and every twenty rotations or so, it would catch the chain and violently threaten to pull it apart.

JB Weld is an excellent product. A toothpick full of the two-part stinky kinds seems to have my glasses back in shape.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Meeting a drunkbot in New Orleans

We're in New Orleans. We have friends here, meaning a shower and a guest bedroom. We arrived around 10pm, and by midnight it was time to cross the street for beer.

An extremely drunk man across the street loves me. But then he changes his mind and decides he hates me again. I entertained this for a few rounds before I realized he was not a man at all. He was a drunkbot. No short term memory. He didn't know who he was, or where, or why. That he could even see me or communicate was itself merely a mirage. He held two beers; both 24oz tall boys. Still, he had one free hand to gesture. Between index and middle was crammed a tall Steel Reserve. Pinched slightly between middle and ring was a Corona. Both cans were long since emptied.

After we left the bodega, the drunkbot's heat sensors picked our signal back up. He began to accost Ian, who is at least 6'4 and could bulldoze him with a shove. But then he declared admiration, forestalling the need for action until seconds later when the tides turned again. Fortunately, a young couple was crossing the street in the direction of the bodega, and his attention was diverted to a fresh audience.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Finding free vandwelling parking with an app.

This is a good time to be alive. This is the best time to live in a van.

We have an app called "Free Campsites." That's how we found the dirt road. At the end of the road is a campground that is only open for a few months each year. When it's closed, the entrance is blocked by a heavy yellow gate. Perfect. We parked in front of the gate, at least a quarter mile back from the road. It worked well. We own the Earth, along with all the others who roam over its dirt. Alligators.

Last night, we began heading west on the Tamiami Trail, aka route 41. We are as deep in the Everglades as a tall majestic van can get. I was diligent in working the words "Tamiami Trail" into every possible conversation. I did not miss an opportunity to say "Tamiami Trail."

Fast forward 24 hours, and our tires rested in the soft dirt of some state-owned panhandle land. The "Free Campsites" app wins again! We arrived toward the later half of the nine o'clock hour. Another dirt road, this time with deep potholes, required us to crawl very slowly indeed. Signs posted a mile or so in claimed that we should "STOP" and "REGISTER" but it was unclear where or how. A single RV rested underneath a seemingly built-to-size roof, making the setup appear at least semi-permanent. This was between our van and the place we were supposed to park.

A woman stepped out of the RV, and I tried to pull on my dirty Keens quickly and not keep her waiting. Kristin and I exited the vehicle, and stood facing a cagey lady standing on the steps to her RV. Our dogs barked a bit, and so did hers. She sized us up, while we stood at the gates; hats in hand.

The land was closed for a few weeks. Some biologist organized a turkey hunt. I swear I am not making this up. We were told that this biologist has a brother who wants to do what this lady is doing - staying full time on public land somehow; details fuzzy - and they are looking for any way to get her out of there. Clearly there is more to this story, but approaching 10pm with dogs barking was not the time to eek out each detail.

I thanked her and said going back to the truck stop would be okay with us: we were used to that; didn't much mind, in fact. I looked down and sideways, and assured her we didn't want to get in the way of her good thing.

Her heart was pure. After sizing us up, she said she hated to turn people away. She'd seen that we weren't serial jerks, and she couldn't stand to kick a puppy. We agreed that if anyone asked we'd say we got there late, and we only knew that we could park on state land. We basically agreed that this conversation never happened.

Vast land surrounded our domicile, and we let the dogs sniff and circle. We never saw a biologist or his brother, and the perma-parked RV is still safe for another day.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

True Crime at the Free Library

"Are you Mark?"

We're outside Tampa now in the parking lot of a library. We're looking for books to buy and sell. Kristin is walking the dogs, and is out of sight under some palms. A hammered Lexus pulled up close and the darkest young black man with dreadlocks and red stains covering the bottom half of each of his teeth leaned out the window. "Are you Mark?" I couldn't look away from his teeth. I never saw teeth that were fucked up in this particular way. I told him that I was not Mark.

"You're not Mark??" he didn't believe me. What the fuck is with those teeth.

"No" I said decisively. "My name is Chris." as though that would settle the matter.

This area did not look as "crime-free" or "safe" as a sign posted to the outside of the library would have you believe. If it was so safe, I later wondered, why would there need to be a sign telling me so? I don't need a badge declaring that I'm not a rapist.

The Lexus followed me slowly behind a line of parked cars as I walked down a grassy median toward the front doors of the library. As I got to the crosswalk, I was forced to walk in front of the Lexus even as I was trying to pretend I didn't see it. I stepped around a woman who frankly looked like a prostitute. Smooth black skin, but a protruding belly and dark bra clearly visible through her sheer... shirt?

I looked up and saw the sign posted on the wall, telling me my instincts were wrong - this is a safe library. Yes, sir - nothing odd here. You are not being followed by a man with amazing teeth, and no prostitutes operate... say... within about a mile of here. "Lying-assed sign," I thought, as I continued toward the doors with increasing rue.

Entering the library, I found a Friends of the Library book store to the side of the entrance, and finally I did feel safe. At least one white-haired biddy was providing a buffer between me and outside. I started browsing through the books in a small closet toward the back of the store, and five minutes passed.

I was looking up data about the sales history of a book about Faulkner when two hookers barged in. (!!!)

"I NEED TO SEE YOUR ID" demanded the white hooker.

"Whaaaaa?!" I responded; caught quite off guard. The other hooker was the one from outside, and now she had a badge. The puzzle began to make sense now, and I was happy to show them my license when they demanded for a second time. I was never so glad to not be named Mark.

The sign on the library will remain a falsehood until they finally nab "Mark." The rue will be his as the Lexus-driving vampire sorts out business while two hooker-cops hold him to the pavement.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Heading to New Orleans; neglecting basic battery care

How about right now? 

Key West has been beautiful. I love to march around with my family and blab about what happened when and where. Beaches and sunsets have been ever-present, and I got to catch up with a friend.

We woke up this morning next to Sears, and got morning supplies at Publix. Judy-dog pissed a bucket right on the sidewalk in front of TJ Maxx. Less subtle than me, but I agree with the sentiment. I made a swift retreat, looking over my shoulder.

Back at headquarters, we convened to make a game plan. We could sit around in the shade some more, or go back to the beach. Alternately, we could go to New Orleans. When? How about right now.

The appeal of spontaneous action is intoxicating. We'll be back in the winter. With that decision, we added leaving to the schedule. First, I had to get one slice of the best key lime pie. We were on the road by noon.

I am a puppet of a clown

Batteries need to be recharged. We've been running the fan far more than the alternator can keep up with, since I'm only driving for about ten minutes per day. I was lazy and forgetful, and I didn't bother to check the numbers. It would take about one minute to the check voltage with a multimeter, since I didn't install a simple voltmeter, but evidently I've been too busy. Until today. I checked the voltage, was aghast at my negligence, and continued to fester and boil for several hours throughout the day.

That key lime pie was fantastic though.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

One step forward; one step back.

Death to crap

I had the distinct pleasure of mailing home two boxes of crap that We Don't Need. I was further tickled to drive around back and jettison a bin of bullshit into a dumpster. It is my opinion that a couple more boxes should be left for dead, but already we feel a little less cramped.

You've got to fight your wife

What good is life if you never get a little bit sad once in awhile? Worthless. You're stuck at one end of a wide spectrum. Every so often you need to kick up some emotional dirt. If you ever feel slighted, that's the best opening. Even kids know the weight of "SHE STARTED IT." My advice is to remember exactly what she said that was a little bit off, so you can repeat it to her and sound far more hurt than you feel. Extra points. You'll know that somebody won when you're both crying a little bit.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Picking the right van: "Do I need a giant beast-wagon?"

Vandwelling in a beast-wagon vs. a standard conversion van

Vandwelling in an extended body van (aka 15 passenger) with a hi-top is different than living in a standard length camper setup. The tall fiberglass shell makes the inside feel truly spacious. Relatively huge, in fact. The shell also weighs a lot more than the hi-top on a standard camper, being that it is at least twice as tall, and also several feet longer. The extra length on the extended body makes it possible to store bicycles and a bike trailer in back without sacrificing any living space as compared to a standard length, or 12 passenger van.

The extra size and weight are most noticeable when driving slowly on uneven surfaces. Our van will rock and sway over potholes and speed bumps. On the highway, though, everything feels basically the same in normal conditions. Fuel economy is comparable: bad vs. bad... to me, all other factors are more important. (If you need excellent fuel economy, you should consider squeezing into a minivan, or driving less.)

I was intimidated at first by the prospect of buying an extended body van instead of a standard length. My first worry was that it wouldn't fit in a standard sized parking spot - and it might be harder to parallel park. Nervous forum-dwellers point to the reputation of a 15 passenger van to roll over or be difficult to drive in windy conditions. Neither of these factors ended up being a problem.

The van has never been difficult to fit in a standard spot. Parallel parking was easy to get used to. Sure, there might be a spot here and there that a standard van would fit, but ours would not - but in practice, I haven't even seen that happen yet. The big van requires a little more attention when driving in high wind - but again, I don't think this is a big enough factor to dissuade a prospective vandweller from ownership, other factors held constant.

Being a married couple with two dogs, I feel certain that we made the right choice. We have more space than a standard size van, and the weight/handling/MPG penalty is paltry. I'm thrilled about the aesthetics of our home as well. I don't like owning fancy things. I don't like to tiptoe, walk on eggshells, or fret about scrapes. Our home is reasonably low-key enough to park on the street, but it is not without personality. The casual observer will only see an old passenger van. We're having a party, but it's not out of hand.

Other vandwelling vehicle options

Older VW Vanagons and Westfalias are popular. They're too small for our big pack, and it's my belief they scream "lived in" when you see one with curtains on the street. Those tent-tops are neat, but you won't put those up when you're parked just anywhere.

Some people convert short school buses or a wide shuttle bus. I'm a little jealous of the extra width of a shuttle or school bus, but I am more interested in the ability to park in the maximum number of locations. Anything longer than our van would be hard to fit in a standard parking lot space, and might fall into the "oversized vehicle" category of local ordinances, making street parking a challenge. Again, I feel confident that our van is perfect for our exact needs.

Everybody needs to consider the relevant factors before picking a vehicle to live in. Most of the time, I think a standard length van is the right choice, and I would always prefer a fiberglass raised roof. My previous van - a 1990 GMC conversion van - was great. Now that I have more people and dogs in my dwelling, I am glad to have a longer body and higher roof - but at least for now, I would not want anything bigger.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Parking at Winn Dixie - Vandwelling in Key West

We woke up in the Winn Dixie parking lot again. Lots of sleeping at Winn Dixie. That was always off limits in previous years, but when we got to the island, the first people we met said they'd parked there every night for a month. They were drinking, and it seemed like a lot, but their Uncle Bill confirmed that he had stayed there extensively without incident. Maybe I'm blowing up a good spot by mentioning this, but I think that typing here is a lot like shouting into an empty coffee can in the woods. If you can hear me, and you'd like to know: the Winn Dixie is open 24 hours now, and nobody seems to be asking anybody to leave. I like waking up next to amenities, and parking here is a lazy easy choice.

(If you want better tips on vandwelling in Key West, you should contact me privately.)

In other news, I bought some yarn. I'm trying to remember how to crochet.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Eating and deleting.

We woke up in the parking lot of the better grocery store toward the top of the island. The vanhouse is habitable even in bright sun, provided all possible windows and vents are open. Provided additionally that our Fan-Tastic vent fan is on. They were; it was.

We entered the cold air conditioning of the grocery store and made a loop. Supplies so far include sprouts, hummus, avocados - one green or two Haas, yogurt for now, and a bread device for whenever. This we keep on hand, and supplement daily with whatever else on a whim. We are making an effort to leave our worse habits up north, and why not - sprout sandwiches are easy and make me feel great.

We drove to our shady place near the pier, and I put our stovetop coffeemaker into service. I needed a hot cup of power before proceeding to the next step today. We have Too Much Bullshit along for the ride...

Everything out; everything in. We went through each bin, and considered every item. Some belongings stay, but two boxes do not. Two 12x12x16 boxes were marked for deletion. We are still a bit heavy - my opinion - but to jettison some ballast is a boon. We have more room. Boom.

I took the opportunity to drill some holes in a pole to keep our huge rear door stationary, even in moderate winds. Tested: works.

Friday, April 15, 2016

My favorite parking spot for vandwelling in Key West.

We woke up on Margaret Street under palm trees on a block that used to feature a large Banyan tree. Those majestic tendrils have since been deleted. Tall palms still shade the non-residential side, and various species of roots pour slowly like molten glass over the curb on the opposite side. To get our home inside the lines was a tight shave. But I'm that good. Mirrors and windows were retracted on the passenger side, and we exited through the driver-side door only. An inch existed between the street-leaning palms; matching in parallel the cant of our fiberglass roof. Yes We Can.

We rose rested and walked the single block to the best place on the island to get a cafe con leche and a bucci served in a tiny plastic cup. Bucci, a shot of espresso, still goes for fifty cents. A small cup full of espresso, or a "colada," will run you $1.25. The same guy is serving it. His hair is a shade lighter now, but his practiced motions are identical. The smells are identical.

This is home. This is the second home that will always be in my back pocket when I need it.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Finding inspiration after the dog beach.

We found the dog beach. Judy-dog can be persuaded to swim if you toss the frisbee close enough to shore. Throw a stick in a river and she does not stutter - but the ocean holds many mysteries. Daisy-dog is more tolerant of the sea. She becomes a tiny stoic paddler. Her legs paddle mechanically well before entering the water, and she resembles an expensive wind-up toy.

Any quantity of sand and salt is acceptable in the van. If we soon reach a critical mass, we can hover inside a certain spectrum - more sand will enter the side door, and an approximately equal quantity will exit the back. It will return to the Earth with a knowing salute.

We should start working again. We did well enough around the new year that financial peril is not quite imminent. Eddie wanted to learn more about this business - to add a new income to his bag of tricks. It was with this in mind that we convened at happy hour on a deck bar overlooking his boat. Three pages of loose ideas devolved quickly into laughing and writing the word "Quaaludes" on his yellow legal pad before taking some clients out of a cheap boat he has on Air BnB.

Below, a man in a bathtub skiff steered out to deeper waters using a weed whacker as an outboard. I cataloged this under "inspiration."

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Self doubt vs. all the clout.

My brain waves are evening out considerably. I'm holding the reigns of a new reality. A renewed reality. Through minor phone prodding, I was able to raise my friend Eddie. I thank god he got back to me, because the nervous part of me easily feels snubbed. My heart worries that even my closest friends could harbor some resentment that untended might boil into a firm dislike. Only a careful counter-logic can confirm that I am looking into a funhouse mirror of self doubt. 

Earlier today, I was in Home Depot to get a cheap tube and some clamps. A sad song by Madonna began as I walked through an aisle of storage containers. The song was far too heavy for the moment, and I felt blessed to notice this fact. I belong nowhere in particular, and I am free to put my feet anywhere I see fit. For that moment, I was a fly on the wall witnessing an absurdity, and I did not want to be anywhere else.

I met up with Eddie at his docked domicile. I remember when his son was a baby that I once spoon-fed some barley soup. Now he is nine. We all bicycled for a quarter mile with a stop in the middle to admire some spear guns. 

At the Gas Monkey bar on Duval, Eddie's son got chicken fingers, and Eddie ordered the recommended sandwich. I got a tall cup of beer and we all watched their friend play a Feist cover among some others. Richard Rawlings himself walked by, below, and I assured myself again that the stool I was sitting on was the world's best perch. Here. Now. Let’s do this.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Quitting bills, stopping pills, and a return to The Island.

We rolled out of the driveway in Kennett Square and made a line toward I-95 south. We left on 4/8/16. Four times two is eight. Eight times two is sixteen. Every moment leading to this was a nap or a palpitation. Leaving the apartment we had for a year; outfitting the van; preparing to live on the road with two dogs for as long as possible.

The apartment was a mess of messes. Every time we returned home - even if we were gone for a moment - we came home with enough bullshit to anchor a boat. Plastic bag loops dug into our wrists and fingers as we filled our apartment with ever-increasing ballast. At the end of a year, we had to blast out all of this.

Trapped and suffocated; I can hardly remember how smiles rose to the surface. We had great times in that apartment, but oh! it's the difficulties that still leave a sting. On the positive, I married a human girl who speaks my language. We adopted Judy-dog, who is a far better dog than I will ever deserve. I learned how to set us up as booksellers on the internet. Gasps of crisp oxygen punctuated doubt, fear, and frustration. I'm afraid to feel my roots take hold in stationary soil. A fiancee; a dog; a year-long lease. I'm positive about this girl, but adopting the entire menu, oh! I have some recipes of my own! Trust me! Join me! Believe not my modesty; for I am a king.

... and now we've made our escape.

Life is not so easy. The way some people write, it sounds like it is. I’m jealous of those people until I remember there’s a good chance their knuckles meet drywall in secret; their curses turn the wallpaper blue; tears fall in private, wiped away with a tall shrug and a lilted head; ignored as an anomalous moment of weakness. Life is not easy in part because our emotions are tied to unavoidable biology; universal chemistry. The rich and famous fall victim like the rest of us, and today there is a pill for everybody. Certain doctors would prescribe a milligram of such-and-such even for simply feeling okay.

And so it was. I was introduced to and provided with amphetamines to help me run with the pack. When the sky turned gray, and my heart went blue, there was an easy solution for that too. A yellow pill. If both were failing, there was one more option, and it usually comes in a bottle or can.

It’s not as bad as it might sound. Pills work. They’re not a firm solution, but they are a forceful hammer-blow when the head of a nail sticks above the surface. The blue pills helped immensely when I was learning how to build a tiny house. They helped me find a way to make money. They filled me with the energy to digest a reality that I suspect the majority of people don’t much mind. People seem to go about their business more or less upright and rarely with their heads on fire. The blue ones help me to observe and copy this phenomenon. But I don’t want to live in Wonka World forever, so alas, today, I am very sleepy indeed.

Those yellow pills are a tiny little trick. Those only make you feel like yourself. Sheets of sleet could beat my bare feet, and I doubt I’d much mind. Those ones are offered for the mere suggestion of sadness, and they hardly cost a dime each. I thought these were a stand-in for the sun (being small and yellow, after all), but now I suspect some of this crying-while-happy might be their footprint.

This post is about Key West, and how I’m there right now. It’s about how beautiful this island is, how friendly folks are here, and how nothing has changed much. I thought I was away for awhile, but when I checked how long, I had to count again to make sure. It’s been six years. I haven’t been to Key West in six years.

I am sitting in the Truman Annex. I am sitting on a tiny couch built over the battery system for our van-house. Kristin is rearranging our ballast and the dogs are drooped over soft things, wearing content smiles. A tourist trolley is clanging past, and jealous lookers-on keep stealing a glance inside of our domicile. Last night we slept next to Sears. It is not the best spot, but in its favor, I felt most certain that our sleep would not be interrupted.

Sleeping in a van is beautiful. Believe nothing else. We have plenty of space. We have two open windows and two vents clustered about the bedzone. We have a few fans; two of them strong.

I’ve spent the five days since our departure vacillating between excitement and apprehension. Will we be organized, comfortable, and happy enough to spend a year or more living in this van? Will having two dogs turn vandwelling into a resentful chore? Are we going to ever start working again; can we be sure to have enough money? Can we start eating healthy and getting regular exercise? Can we live a happy life using simplicity like a card trick? I think we can. I need the answer to be yes.