Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The best part of Mardi Gras is the lead-up.

The best part about Mardi Gras is the lead-up beforehand. Today is Mardi Gras, and it’s a shit show. It’s a spectacle. It is amusing, but I like the small brass processions. I like the second line parades and the errant bits of funk. For Mardi Gras day there is some of that in the morning, but this is also the World Series of getting fucked up.

My instinct is to avoid drinking while the sun is still high. It is a reasonable instinct followed by nobody here. My future expectation for Mardi Gras is to be a fly on the wall. With that goal, there can be no disappointment. For me today, I paced myself, with spaced out beers to fit in.

Next to the Mississippi, I looked for a place to piss. I walked about twenty feet up the train tracks. A man was passed out on some cardboard, with a boot leaning right on the track. A train was idling about a hundred yards away.

“Hey Buddy” I said loud enough to hear. “Your foot is right on the track, man.”

I tried to sound non-committal. I could tell he could hear me, but whether words registered was in doubt. “I can move you if you want” I offered. “But you should just go a few feet over.”

At this point he slid his boot over an inch. It seemed like he had the idea, but not what it takes to sit up and move.

“There’s not enough space, man. If the train goes this way it’s not good for you, dude. It’s gonna fuck you up, man...” I continued to try sounding conversational. A casual observer; nonchalant.

You can’t go around shoving every hobo on every train track. Trying to physically move a guy can be risky. I walked away and went back to my bench, which was close. I was fully aware that if I saw the train move, I would need to run over and yank him out of the way. I would have to move fast with no fucking around. I would need to monitor the situation.

I don’t like responsibility, but I didn’t see any other options I liked. I looked back a few times over the following minutes, and was relieved when I looked and he’d moved. He was only about five feet from his previous position, but the clearance looked adequate factoring a margin for error.

Somebody tried to help me once when I looked bad. We all need to watch out for this stuff.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The best way I ever woke up.

I woke up in the van at 6:30am. I was parked by the Joint, where I’ve been parked almost every night. I woke up to the sound of tubas and drums.

Refusing to ignore an invitation, I stood up and thought about clothes. Yes to socks in my shoes, but in the interest of moving quickly, I omitted the shirt. I tossed on a hoodie, and pulled the zipper away from my body to avoid chest hair while putting it on.

The parade included hundreds of people. Everybody appeared to be dressed as some sort of hobo. There was an astonishing amount of body paint and beer. I caught the beginning of the parade as it passed only half a block from my parking spot. I followed for a dozen blocks or so, listening to brass and drums as the sun rose over a parked train. Fuck dude. I wish you could be here. I am here and it is great.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Brass Everywhere! Brass Everywhere!

I’ve been seeing a lot of parades in New Orleans. I’ve been seeking out tubas since my second night here. I’ve been finding tubas and trombones in the wild. Yesterday, we followed the Ninth Ward Marching Band. They are more silly than serious; more funky than tight. We walked along the streets and sidewalks from where they lined up at Bud Rips - which is the name of an excellent bar.

For another night, Lisa and I packed some wine and supplies to descend upon the French Quarter. We witnessed some highly talented busking. We watched as a live brass band tried to knock the windows out of their frames in a bar. We sat on the sidewalk as an old longhaired man blew up balloons and released them with gentle persuasion. We watched as they found their fate. One by one, he inflated the balloons, and released them into the street. Some were picked up, some were stomped on, and some were run over by cars. Nobody took much notice of the source, but to the background of boisterous tuba, it was a beautiful scene to watch.

We saw an unknown brass band marching earlier today. We happened on them simply because we were on bicycles. We followed the procession as it turned on a side street, ducking between two large warehouses. A metal roof spanned between the two buildings, two stories above the street. The abundance of corrugated metal creates an interesting place to play drums and horns. For the second time in as many days, this spot was used for a brass band dance party. The parade broke apart, and everybody in attendance cheered and danced to the beat. One of the tubas spun around in circles, while trombone slides punched the air in cheerful abandon.

For the second time in two days, I was moved nearly to tears. I felt pure happiness as brass bounced off metal. I feel deeply satisfied and lucky to be here. I am experiencing simple and spiritual moments. This place and this time are both weird and fantastic.

Moments like these make me feel more happy than confused to be alive.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

More friends arrive; reservations at Hotel Impreza.

I have a couple friends from Philly who just got here. They are sleeping in a Subaru Impreza. They got to town yesterday, making their way up from Florida, so we made dinner plans at the place where I park. We cooked rice and chicken and drank plenty of wine. For dessert they both took some acid. Instead of getting wacky and wandering to the French Quarter, I decided to take no action. Lisa and I sat around a little bit longer, and decided on a calmer and easier night.

I want to move to this parking spot. I have parked in the same place for most of my time here. Aside from the train, it is perfect. I feel comfortable having the doors open to cook at any time of day or night. I can listen to music, or read a book, and I am close to my friends and all needed services. I am tucked in a corner without much traffic. There is shade if I want it, and sun if I don't. I could park here and not move for weeks at a time. Boom. I think I found it.

Friday, February 24, 2017

My corpse is covered in glitter.

Lisa drove down from Georgia to visit. When she arrived, she found me dead in my van. She’s going to stay with me and look at what Mardi Gras is. Maybe she can explain it to me if she figures it out.

The happenings recently have me in a battered condition. I slept all day with the doors wide open; with the weight of the world on my face. I remembered something about gin and a fat joint last night. I woke up covered in glitter. I decided to take a day off from drinking. I decided to convalesce.

We joined Ian and Sarah and some of their friends across town to watch a parade. I enjoyed the atmosphere without all the drinking, so I could try again another night.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Big Dick's is some insanity shit.

Time to dress up like a moron again. I went to the wildest party I’ve seen. The party was called “Big Dick's House of Big Boobs." Why not? It was a raging party with DIY stripping by whoever signed up to give it a whirl. The air inside the warehouse was basically made out of sweat. Those in attendance were robots and murderers. For the most part, that worked out fine.

I horsed around and drank and smoked joints. Around 5am it was time to go home. Half of my group could not remember how to stand or speak English by this time. I managed to get all the way back to the van, and get both doors almost all the way closed.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Getting hits off a box of wine as part of a parade.

The parade scene here is serious about goofing off. Probably there are other people writing who can do a better job of describing that. There are also other people who take pictures, which are a sorry attempt at capturing the true essence.

We arrived at the parade just in time for someone to pour box wine into my mouth. I was amused and pleased at this development, because trying to navigate over here caused me a little bit of stress. My satisfaction increased when I got a hit off the next box - and now I recognized what was happening here. A long procession, as part of this parade, carried boxes and bags of wine. I got another hit of wine from a girl covered in gold paint, and then she just handed me the bag.

I didn't need a personal space bag full of wine, because I brought two bottles of my own. Eventually, to decrease the weight of my backpack, I opened my bottles and poured wine into cups and hung out.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Trying to steer my ship with a little bit of help from India.

I got a delivery from India. I have trouble getting Adderall while traveling. The trouble is that it is incredibly difficult or impossible for several reasons I will not bother to explain at this moment. Bureaucracy. What is slightly easier is buying bulk meds from India, so I got a six-month supply of Modafinil. It helps with the ADHD motivational problems. It alleviates an enormous amount of struggle in my life. My brain gets gridlocked on a daily basis, and the logjam leads to inaction. Adderall or Modafinil clear out the mess, and I am left with a clear path toward action.

Getting these pills was not easy. It is a convoluted process that took over two months. Due to the nature of the process, I will not share the details, but suffice it to say it was rough. I felt pure relief to finally get the package. This is a tool. This helps me live my life. Taking these pills, I feel, was absolutely instrumental in building a tiny house and starting a business. Without them, good luck... Without them I feel serious anxiety when I need to get anything done. I don't open mail, take showers, pay bills, or eat lunch.

Fuck the fucking government, and fuck whatever this heathcare shit is. Fuck all this irksome nonsensical shit. I am paying $355 per month for coverage that I can’t use for the most important need in my life. It is cheaper and easier to buy pills from India. And I am at risk because that is illegal. Well fuck everybody, fuck everything, I will continue to do my best to live my basic little life.

Yes, this is how I really feel: Rules and authority fuck off.

Monday, February 20, 2017

I continue to be in love with Big Freedia.

I’m not used to attending big parties every day, and I have trouble describing them properly with my words. I went to a costume party dressed like an idiot wearing a cheap mask with a beak. Drinking factored heavily into the evening, as debauchery surrounded and ensued. Big Freedia headlined the event, and I had no trouble yelling “ASS EVERYWHERE” at the appropriate points with the crowd.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ooooooh, I wanna dance with somebody!

The parties are starting in earnest now. The Chewbacchus parade went directly in front of Ian’s house. The scene was almost indescribably silly. In a nutshell, it is a long procession of partying nerds. Star Wars and other pop culture references feature heavily into the costumes and floats. There is heavy drinking everywhere. The party is absolutely real and long.

I saw that I was underdressed for the occasion. I went back to the van and returned quickly, wearing the dumbest clothing I own. I have golden fish scale tights. I have a bicycle jersey that makes me look like I have an IQ of two. I have a bandanna with chili peppers, so I gave it a shot.

“There you go” said Ian; nodding.
“Correct in spirit” I thought.

The parade featured many more memorable moments than that rolling PA system blasting old Whitney Houston. But the song was sticky, and mostly all I remember.

She wants to dance with somebody. She wants to feel the heat with somebody. Then she gets too specific: “with somebody who loooooves me!”

Just go out and have a good time, Whitney. Why do you need to move so fast? Love takes time to develop. Go out and have fun, and give those feelings some time to develop.

Flash back to 1989. I heard that tape thousands of times in my dad's car. That song will be in my head for days.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Homeless resources at the French Market.

Hundreds or thousands of quasi and real homeless people use services in the French Quarter every day. I rode my bicycle there to check out the resources. In the future, I will remain farther afield.

The toilets in the French Market look like they were donated by a prison. The drinking fountains are reluctant or not working at all. It took about ten minutes to fill a jug full of water.

Here's what I do: I let the water trickle into a smaller water bottle, then I transfer it to a bigger one. The process is tedious, but I am not busy. Anything to save a buck.

Friday, February 17, 2017

How to not be stealth at all in a van.

Me and Ian were up late last night. My parking spot by the Joint has been better than I thought. A nearby train makes considerable clamor, but I have no space to complain. The open grassy square adds to privacy when you want to have the side doors open.

We stayed up late taking turns playing tracks through the stereo in the van. I had the doors wide open while I cooked a small dinner and smoked a little bud. We wandered around to get a few more beers, and when I woke up it was clear that I’d had enough.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Riding bicycles in NOLA.

I spent the daytime hours at City Park. I kept the doors open wide, and pulled in wifi from my USB antenna. When the sun began to lower, I set out to get drinks.

I parked the van back by the barbecue joint, and switched to two wheels again. I met up with Ian at his house nearby. We rode from Ian’s through the French Quarter. We navigated through that grid, and cut inbetween and past the buildings uptown.

The streets are battered in New Orleans. Some of the potholes could swallow you whole. There are dangerous sections in severe disrepair, and the permanent solution seems to be an old orange cone. Some of the major roads are in better shape, and on these I like to go fast. Ian hasn’t ridden bicycles for as many miles as me, but we are slowly increasing the pace. I’m giving some hints about how I interpret and navigate traffic. I am not the safest human ever, but I can advise about how to avoid doors. I can explain why cutting up the center of two lanes is safer because nobody will pull a surprise hook in front of you. We are having a great time riding together.

We got crawfish and beers at a brewery. What else could I hope for in life?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Pretending to have a job.

The rain from last night continued today. The weather was perfect for purchasing books. I located potential sources and made the rounds. The work was not strenuous, and I was met with success.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Chasing Tubas and Drums.

I found a parking spot by a barbecue joint. There is an open grassy square, and the sleeping prospects appear positive. There are countless people in this city living in vans and similar. I feel safe from official harassment. I feel certain that the city of New Orleans has better fish to fry. Satisfied and comfortable in my sleeping location, I put down the curtains and opened my laptop.

Twenty minutes later, I heard an absolute tuba. I heard drums and accompanying brass. I assumed it was a practice, so I stood up slowly, and put my shoes on to investigate. I took a few too many minutes to prepare my approach, and when I exited the vehicle the ruckus was almost inaudible.

I walked in the direction of receding sound, and it dawned on me that the beats were on the move. The sound was exciting and had a confident swagger, so I doubled my initial pace. The band was much further along than anticipated, so I took to the middle of the street and jogged for many blocks.

I didn’t know anything except how zoom in on sound. Later, I would learn that this was a second line brass band. They were hired to march in a procession after a wedding. I didn’t know what I was watching or following, but I felt the tuba and the bass drum in my chest. There were three trombones and one trumpet. The ratio was correct.

I caught up to the band one block from a bar. As brass and drums poured in through all entrances, the music did not pause. They lit up the bar with sound. I stood on the opposite sidewalk as all conversations were interrupted. The band had a more important message. I stood opposite with rapt attention.

After that song, those involved ordered drinks. I walked back to the van. I decided to return to the street in search of more tubas and drums. I lowered my bicycle from the rack, and pointed it toward the French Quarter to see who was playing on what.

I cruised down Royal in the same direction, and found the same brass band preparing for another round. I followed behind for the next hour or so. Cars stopped and waited, residents opened their front doors to watch. Several people, including myself, followed along in the street. The procession arrived at another bar, where everybody entered for more drinks.

Rain began to fall in heavy drops, and I sat happily on the sidewalk protected by a roof. I shrugged off the instinct to order a beer, because I was comfortably topped off with music and wine.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Arriving in New Orleans.

I arrived in New Orleans. I have a couple of friends here who rent a house. I stayed in the guest room last time I was here. This time I will be happier to stay in my van.

Resources are a blessing. I trimmed off my beard and the hair that's not part of a sloppy mohawk. I took a shower with hot water to wash off the drive.

I need to find parking and resources in the wild - bathrooms and wifi and a source of water to fill my jugs. It’s helpful to stay put for periods of time. You can master the resources and use them again when you return.

My most valuable resource today is Ian. I’ve known him since he was a freshman in high school. I was a senior and we both played percussion. We were in band and orchestra together. Today we got beer and rode bicycles to the park. We sat on a bench swing and drank beer and some wine.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A beautiful lot in life and on Earth.

I woke up to a gray sky. The sun illuminated the spaces between the thicker portions of cloud. The sky was a light box behind heavy puffs and a matrix of veins.

I opened the side doors and fresh air swept in. Cooler air replaced the air that I’d cooked and breathed in the previous night. I stretched and lowered my battle-worn shoes to the pavement. I took another deep breath of Alabama parking lot air.

The word that came to mind as I walked was “beautiful.” I said it aloud unintentionally, and felt a startled surprise to hear my own voice. This is not a beautiful day, I thought. If anything, there is a touch of gloom. “Beautiful,” I thought again. It wasn’t the clouds or the Walmart parking lot. It was my heart and my state of mind.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Leaving Georgia for a new chapter.

I left the state of Georgia. It was time to go. I’m not going to labor over a detailed account. It was a happy pause in a new setting. It was nice to hold hands before the credits rolled.

Now I am in the state of Alabama. I am in the great state of feeling happily alone. More specifically, I am in a Walmart parking lot. The pavement is mostly level, but the spot which I’ve chosen has a lean. I’m keeping it.

More wine and more cooking. I eat my quinoa-plus-one: pulses or legumes.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Instant coffee is real.

What about coffee? People overthink that. The correct choice, if you want to go nuts, would be to drink tea instead. That’s not where I’m at.

I drink instant coffee. I started drinking instant coffee while traveling by bicycle. In the van I started by using a French press. I don’t have time for that anymore. More accurately, I do not have a sink.

I enjoy the ritual of morning coffee. I do not enjoy cleaning the pot. I had the system down after many days of practice. My system now is easier still. I heat some water, add a scoop or two of Nescafe or Taster’s Choice and I’m done. No sugar, no cream. Who needs it? Not this man. Not the one typing now - the one who pauses to indicate himself proudly with both thumbs.

There are nutritional differences between freshly roasted and ground beans and instant coffee which is freeze dried. I searched the internet to learn about that, and was met with contradictory bullshit and hullabaloo. The bottom line is this: I have an old plastic mug and it works. Life is easy. Don’t make it hard.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

I eat this all the time.

Red lentils and red quinoa. That’s today’s combo. I ignore recommended cooking times. I ignore recommended water amounts. I sprinkle quinoa and lentils in the bottom of a plastic mug. I aim for an approximate finger's width, then I transfer it to my little pot. I add an amount of water that looks like roughly twice as much. Then I pour in some oil. I boil then simmer until there isn't much steam. I add another splash of oil when it's done. I add seasoned salt, because it's the only spice I have.

I eat quinoa and lentils on a small tortilla. I smear it on with a spoon. I add hot sauce to nearly everything I eat. I enjoy the ritual; I enjoy the food. I am powerful. I don’t know much about cooking, but I live to tell this tale.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Angry chickens and their dirt cheap eggs.

It’s been brought to my attention that chickens aren’t happy. Not most of them. I knew this, but I kept buying those eggs anyway. I keep buying their eggs. I ignore their suffering out of convenience.

Thich Nhat Hahn says the factory farm chickens are angry. When you eat their eggs, you are consuming that anger. I’ve read about forty five seconds of his book "Anger," and this was not the news I wanted to hear. But I know that he’s correct.

Thich Nhat Hahn uses the word “very” with casual abandon, but I trust him completely as a human. I am supposed to buy the happy eggs. I am better off buying eggs laid by chickens who are free to roam around. I am supposed to spend more and eat more slowly.

I have a lot of learning to do. I have changes to make. I have better eggs to buy when I begin to bother to start caring about my relationship with chickens.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The best grocery store on the planet. (feat. $2.89 wine.)

I'm calling out Aldi by name. I thought it was a discount overstock grocery store. It is not. They have their own brands of excellent actual food. The prices are correct as hell. I had to take Lisa's word for it. This is where she stocks up on supplies. I hadn't been to an Aldi in more than ten years. Their game has evolved considerably.

I bought quinoa of several sorts, and an assortment of beans and rice. I got staples like tortillas, olive oil, and avocados. And let me tell you about the wine: I bought twelve bottles of Aldi's house brand wine for $2.89 each. The brand name is "Winking Owl." I tried out one first, and I was impressed. I was impressed with the price, but as a bonus it actually tastes good too. It goes for ten cents less than Walmart's budget offering, and is more enjoyable to look at and drink. You know what that means: time to load up and get loaded. Time to buy in quantity and toast to success.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Meeting on the Appalachian Trail.

We were all headed north. Jonas and I arrived at the Nantahala Outdoor Center on October 17th. This is an oasis on the Appalachian Trail. Lisa arrived hours later, and was invited by Justin to dine with our group. Justin and Mike were two hikers we'd already met. The entire lot of us took up a table until late.

I noticed immediately that Lisa is specifically extra cool. As we talked, our facts and opinions meshed well. Her attitude and interests were exactly correct. Anybody hiking the entire trail alone is somewhat of an automatic badass. It takes five or six months for most people, which is a lot of time in the woods. I didn't know it at the time, but she made an alcohol stove from a soda can, which has been part of her equipment for more than ten years. It's a small detail, but a badass one. Yes, she is definitely cool.

I let her borrow my shower card. All of us dudes paid to stay in a bunkhouse. Lisa was sleeping down by the river for free. Any traveler can usually use a shower. So I used my card to let her in.

We hung out on the porch of the bunkhouse for a couple hours. We talked and became friends. I told Lisa about my book business and gave her my phone number. I told her to text me when she got home if she was really interested - and I'd explain how to get started with doing the job I hired myself for.

She did text; we did talk. It was helpful to me because I was lonely at the time. I wanted to talk to friends, and it was great to have a new one to type at.

Now we met again in person. We are working on business a little bit, but leaving plenty of time to have fun.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sleeping inside for awhile.

My van is parked in the driveway. Me and Lisa are hanging out in a big empty house. The house is for sale, but it hasn't sold yet. We are making it less dormant for the next week or so. We are cooking food there, and I brought in a truckload of wine.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

It's Saturday. How about disc golf?

Disc golf is a sport I can handle. Throwing some discs at a circle of chains can be fun - especially when you ignore the scoring and par. I'm bad at disc golf. Darn bad, in fact. None of this decreased my enjoyment of hanging out on the course.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Visiting new friends in Georgia.

I like typing. If you text me, I'll chat. Writing is my preferred medium. I miss chatrooms. I miss Instant Messenger, and when people used to communicate on that.

I guess now there's Facebook chat. I've learned what that's all about. I've been talking to Lisa using Facebook chat, and that seems to work well. Now I'm visiting in person. That's what you do when you make new friends.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A much better reception.

"We don't know you, bro..."

This guy fucking hated me. I showed up in his driveway after 11pm, and rang his doorbell because I thought it was the correct house.

"There's nobody named Chris here dude." What a moron this guy was turning out to be.

"No." I corrected him. "My name is Chris." I spoke slowly, and indicated myself as I explained. "Clearly I have the wrong address. Give me one second and I will amend this situation."

This guy was dumb as a rock. If my intent was to create havoc, why would I park in the driveway and knock? This idiot would be very suspicious of a wrong number. I tried to ignore his stupid dumbfounded face as I rechecked the address.

He did not like my van or the way I looked. He didn't like how I spoke or sounded. I feel absolutely certain of that. I have no idea what he thought I was trying to pull. He stood at his front door glaring at me as I stepped back to the van and looked at my phone.

Two houses over. That's where I was supposed to be. Not in this fuckface's tiny driveway. Not in this man's dumbass stare.

I pulled in two houses over two seconds later. I arrived to a much warmer reception over there.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Sebring Florida

I heard a lot of talk about Sebring, Florida. Old Florida. The highlands. I decided to take a look.

I pointed my house and my van up the center of the state. My happiness remained at a rolling boil.

Sebring Florida looks like a homogenized vestige of earlier times. The word for Sebring is "quaint." The town is arranged in a circular pattern with a park at the center. I inserted myself in the park, and laid upside down and sideways all over every bench. I felt like a distracted extra in that movie The Truman Show. I crossed my legs over the back of a pristine bench and yammered and joked on my phone. I stretched and shifted and let the sun warm my skin.

I could exist like this indefinitely. I could almost ask time to slow down. But when the moment comes, I know how to float. I cooked my three eggs and did that. I listened to music while I drove, and arrived in the suburbs of Atlanta late.