Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Three books autographed by Richard Nixon.

Pennsylvania is experiencing the cold and gray time of year. Soon I will head south to Key West. For now, I am handling a case of the seasonal blergh until I can force myself to be ready to get out of here.

My intention was to buckle down about the business of buying and selling books. The more I do now, the stronger my safety net later. With this in mind, I made a telephone call. I asked some lady at the library if the book sale area was open again. She sounded like she was getting a call from an asshole with four heads. I repeated my inquiry slowly and clearly - how is this a difficult question!?

"Is the friends of the library book sale area open again?"

Maybe I spoke too quickly. I certainly wasn't mumbling, and I was definitely speaking English.

"... It hasn't been open in awhile, I am asking if it is open again?"

The library has been under renovation for almost a year. Surely she knows that.

"Are there books for sale there?"

She sounded confused and slightly fearful. Like I was asking if it was a good time to kick in some doors and rob the place.

"I want to buy books."

I literally said this slowly and calmly. It's hard to be much clearer than that.

I hate phones, but I can't take responsibility for any confusion on this call. What is it about me? In person, I might understand - some hipster looking jackass with a mohawk and neon glasses might catch somebody in bumblefuck off guard. Conceivably. Fuckit. I'm doing my best.

As it turned out, the book sale area was not open, but it would be open for a sale in two days. Getting this information was like tapping a maple tree for syrup. Two days passed, and now it is today. I arrived right when the library opened, and within five minutes I knew it was good. There was nobody else who appeared to be a book dealer, and I got a few hits right away. I worked steadily for four hours and did what I call due diligence. When the going is good, it pays to be thorough. When the books seem lousy and picked over, it is easy to become discouraged. That did not happen today.

I saw a boring hardcover book by Richard Nixon. No barcode, so checking potential value would require typing in the ISBN. Books by or about presidents almost never hold any value. But there was a slipcase, which adds interest, and I didn't feel rushed. I slipped the book out of its case, and opened it to locate the ISBN. Ha! Richard Nixon autographed this copy. That went right in my bag. Then I found another one - signed by Richard Nixon as well. Later, I found a third. Three different books, two in immaculate condition in their slipcase.

The gray sky and cold air felt like bullshit as I left. But three books autographed by a dead president took off the edge.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A way I can tell what is real.

I raised one hand up, and placed my palm on the headliner of my Toyota Sienna. I drove west with the best of intentions as the setting sun reached maximum beauty. I don't know which colors were where, but I could sense pinks and yellows and greens. I held my hand to the roof for a few seconds, and then I held my palm to my chest. I saw something beautiful and I knew that it was real.

It was dark. I was headed east in the Sienna again, toward cold temperatures and against better judgement. A radio station in Nashville was being kind with the music. (Aux In is broken, and might never get fixed.) A story was shared with advice which rang true. I held the moment gently against the ceiling. I acknowledge that this moment is happening. I raised up my hand because it was real.

I was in the shower a minute ago. I was rinsing the stink off another wasted day, and wondering what is about to happen. "Are we in this?" I asked, before knowing what that even means. "We are in this," I said, and I felt glad because I knew it was true. I raised up my arm to bookmark the moment; palm facing up for the truth. We are making a run for it. This moment is hopeful and real.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Positivity and Optimism, I Exclaim!

Hi! Aim low, and you will not be disappointed. What I haven't been saying is that I view myself as an optimist. Even in difficult circumstances, I am hopeful. I will never give up. I have a bright ball of colorful light inside of me, and I only want to let it break through and lift people up. I believe it is possible. With a little bit of persistence, I can make adjustments to my recipe and shine.

I do aim low! I am not disappointed! I've heard this phrase before. It seems like a phrase intended to pull people away from lofty goals - to protect us from the disappointment of failure by not trying in the first place. I have a different interpretation. I have had my best times living in a van. My aim is not to be rich or fancy. In that sense I am aiming low. If you don't want to become rich, then I have great news!

I made a list of my goals. None of them seem to be a major challenge. None of them seem to be aiming high in a traditional western sense. Even if I never do another thing in my life, I am still not disappointed. Why? Logic. Disappointment is not productive. Disappointment is like drowning because you are wearing a heavy coat. To some degree, disappointment is unavoidable - it is a reflex or innate response that we are born with, or learn very young. To some degree, as thinking adult humans, it is also a decision. If I die today, I did a lot better than some. I am prepared to go. But! It probably won't happen. So the rest of my life is a bonus!

We all have battles (I assume), so I don't want to boohoo as a privileged white-skinned beard-growing human in America. I have never been hungry for long. I have all of the advantages in the world.

I want to continue to aim low. None of my goals are so lofty that I cannot grasp them and feel like a success. I have been working on two lists: The first is a list of goals. The second is a list of daily actions to be rewarded, with the aim of establishing habits which will lead directly or indirectly to attaining my goals. Maybe this will work, or maybe I will die first, and that would be fine anyway. But lethargy and boredom are a terrible way to go, so lets get started!


1) Sewing. I want to build skills and confidence. I want this to parlay into a way to make money. If I am still on this path in five or ten years, I would like to lease a small space with five industrial sewing machines and have a few people working with me to make bags and camping gear. I want this to translate to $2500 per month of income on average, and I want to feel excited about it.

2) Exercise. Fortunately, I already do this sometimes. 100 miles per week on a bicycle makes me a better person. I already know that, yet sometimes I stop riding altogether. Let's ride! I would like to introduce some weights and yoga to the routine.

3) Learn to prepare 10 simple plant-based meals. I don't want to be a vegan chef. What I want is a varied list of quick and portable foods that I am confident assembling so I am able to reduce my lust for cheeseburgers. I already have brain stuff going on, and I have identified a poor diet as a probable causal factor.

4) Crochet. Keep at it. Doesn't matter where it goes.

5) Condiment Packet Gallery. It is a cool thing I made. I would like to update it in any manner, which requires me to think about it in a way which does not make me feel overwhelmed. It makes me feel very overwhelmed, but I made progress before, and it is possible again. I'd like to appear on TV and get interviewed about it. I was invited on Jimmy Kimmel a long time ago, and I declined because I was driving around feeling weird as hell.

6) Tackle alcohol for good. Realistically this is a recurring issue. I'd like it to recur less often, in a less extreme manner, or maybe never again. Any progress is great. A pat on my back almost no matter what.

7) Save $375,000 in a brokerage account, invested in index funds. People think they need millions to retire. If I had this amount, work would be on an optional-when-desired basis for life. Jobs are a pain when you need them to survive. I would rather have part time jobs to build skills or satiate curiosity and meet people.

8) Become comfortable making phone calls and approaching strangers. I'm not horrible at talking to strangers. I might almost be relatively good at it, depends on the circumstance. But I am afraid of making phone calls, which is a significant setback. You can't get as much done if you don't dial a number and ask somebody questions. You know what it is? I am super afraid that there will be a poor connection, and this makes me feel highly anxious. I am also afraid that I confuse people and they become suspicious of me or dismissive. I often make a big deal out of nothing. Here is such a case.

Daily Actions to be Rewarded* 

1) Do any action that Will or Could lead to earned income. Literally anything.

2) Consume fewer than 3 alcoholic drinks

3) Drink 64oz of water, and no soda or sugar drink

4) Eat an apple

5) Crochet any amount

6) Walk for at least 10 minutes, or ride a bicycle any amount

7) Clean or organize one thing

8) Write something

9) Make a phone call

Wish me luck. I am currently experiencing motivation because I've been sober for a few days, and I've watched a shitload of TED Talks. It is a potent combination. I recognize that we are all still just floating through space. If you have advice or input please contact me. Lord knows I am not particularly adept at life skills, and the obvious often escapes my attention.

*The reward can be insignificant - as simple as a nod of approval to myself, or a star on a chart if I make a chart with these as columns, which I might or might not do. 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Brain Battles of 2018 Summarized.

I read in a biography of William M. Gaines about his experience trying on glasses for the first time as a kid. He didn't know that there were leaves at the tops of trees. He thought that tall trees had fuzz at the top. He was amazed at his new clarity of vision. He didn't know what normal vision could be like.

I quit paying for health insurance last year. Or maybe it was the year before, I have no internal meter for dates or elapsed time. Seriously. In any case, I reasoned that if I could get ADHD meds from India for cheaper, then fuck the United States, double middle fingers. I despise convoluted paperwork and systems designed to take your money and still screw you in the end. So I stopped taking Adderall.

The India meds, specifically Modafinil, seemed promising at first. Over time my opinion changed. I found that as the Modafinil wore off, I was released into an anxious state where minor tasks felt more overwhelming than ever before. I adapted to the Modafinil to a point where it wasn't helping me get any more done, but the anxiety would still occur, and I was drinking much more on those days to numb the discomfort. Taking an extra half pill would help with getting things accomplished, but I am wary of increasing the dosage of chemicals I jam into my skull.

In early 2018, I was traveling back from California and I stopped for the night at a cold and dirty truck stop in New Mexico. I was lonely and uncomfortable, just as I had been for weeks. It was snowing in Joshua Tree. I was not mentally equipped to take care of myself during this time. I drank two or three bottles of wine and I woke up abruptly at 2am bawling my eyes out. Fuck. We have to deal with this again. ["we" as in "me and all of my aspects." I am usually an "us"]

I quit everything. For about three days my emotions felt short circuited. I would feel overwhelmed and weep spontaneously. Or I would burst out laughing and crying at the same time, which wasn't actually unpleasant, except that I would prefer to avoid those outbursts in public. I needed time to settle down and normalize. After a few days I got better, and after a week I had a sense of normality. I'm not sure if I can call the outcome "normality" -- perhaps more accurately, I felt a comfortable abstraction of what I believe to be the typical reality experienced by the majority of humans. This is good. I am at my best in a functional absurdity.

I made it back to Austin and replaced substances with bicycles. I was rejuvenated with a new hope. I am no longer naive enough to believe that my battle is won. As mental warriors, our battles are most likely to continue. I accept this, and am grateful for a reprieve so I can take stock of myself and prepare for the next challenge.

I left Austin after two or three weeks. This was toward the end of March. I felt strong and healed enough to head back to Kennett Square. My next mission would be to remodel my tiny house and begin a path toward mastery of sewing machines. I would make punk rock quilts, and learn to construct different types of handbags, bicycle bags, and camping gear.

What I forgot is that I have ADHD. As such, confidence and keen interest do not translate to progress. Lack of progress often does translate into frustration. A further result might be hopelessness and depression. I know I am not lazy per se - but that is exactly how this condition presents, including to those of us affected. We judge ourselves on a false perception of normal. Even when we recognize that our standard of self-measurement is flawed, we are still left with the depressing task of survival in a society designed by and for boring normals - bean counters, paper-pushers, et al. My path has been one of resistance, but to what end, employing what physics, I have not a clue.

I bought an incredible Juki TL-2010q sewing machine, and I couldn't bring myself to open the box for weeks. Progress is a battle. The fight is confounding for us. Victory appears to be easy: those around us take it for granted every day. Meanwhile, we can't tie our shoes, and we shit in our pants when we try. Not literally, of course, but the reality inspires the same self-confidence.

Kennett Square was ice cold when I returned. I got depressed. I entered again into the bad kind of abstract reality. Still I tried to soldier on and force any kind of victory I could muster. I tried to drive to the grocery store and I had to pull off the road because I started crying too hard to drive.

I paid in advance to join the annual 3 Speed Tour in Minnesota, so I would be forced to participate in something. I knew that if I paid well in advance, I would go. I love bicycles, 3 Speeds in particular, and I reasoned that a little adventure might give me a healthy new perspective. When the time came, I headed west. I slept in my van for two nights. On the second night, I was in the parking lot of a grocery store where I knew I wanted to stay over. I went inside to get food, and saw that liquor was also an option. I watched myself in slow motion as I purchased a fifth of vodka. I continued to observe myself as I poured dribbles and then drinks into a styrofoam cup with bad soda. It was awesome. I felt a bit aloof at times, but the 3 Speed Tour was a great experience, and I met people who I like very much. Happily, the 3 Speed Tour includes way more drinking than I would have ever assumed.

Time passed. Wellbeing teased me all summer, often visible, yet evading my grasp.

I was hanging out with Shelly last week. When it comes to getting basic tasks done, Shelly is my opposite. She seems to hum along confidently with a constant and steady aplomb. Shelly has had a profound influence on my life, as I have on hers, I would humbly hope I may claim. We went for a short walk in the woods while we talked and joked and caught up. On the way back, we stopped for small coffees. Then Shelly stood up abruptly and said "Come on, dude, let's get you signed up for health insurance." And so we did. Minor mental stumbling blocks were gently set aside. Beginning in January, I will have access to Adderall and perhaps talk therapy if I can figure out where to be geographically situated for a useful period of time.

I have two ten-packs of Modafinil left. I have a lot of loose ends to tie up before I go south for the winter. I had been paralyzed for weeks, unable to conquer the most basic of tasks. I couldn't move the ball forward even an inch. Knowing that help is on the horizon, I took a Modafinil pill. I was reminded of the story that I had read many years ago about William M. Gaines trying on spectacles for the first time. The effect of introducing a stimulant to my central nervous system is no less profound. The trees have leaves at the top, not fuzz. The battle will continue, but for the first time in almost a year, I mastered tasks, and then felt like I'd won the day.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

I am a botfly.

I am a botfly. We are a parasitic swarm. We multiply. When I was born I might have been anything I wanted. I believe now that choice is an illusion. Every thought and action only serves to perpetuate the status quo.

When I was growing up I believed myself to be a human. Only through the use of drugs and alcohol have I become self aware. For all the good it did, I have thought a lot about this. My life is essentially valueless, and it is not in my nature to change that. Being that I formerly believed myself human, this first felt like an enormous downgrade of status. I have recovered from my initial depression, and my mission now is acceptance. I accept that our life is to seek a host and propagate. I relinquish all claim to lofty human fantasies of control.

I have known the truth about myself for years. My post-human reality still feels unsettling, but I will no longer try to escape it with mental gymnastics. We are going to take over the earth. This conclusion is a simple matter of science. I am not in charge. Ecosystems will be irreparably altered. I no longer take responsibility for that. It is not in my nature to notice or care. Pain and remorse are a selfish reflex. Emotions are a genetically selected trait to keep our species on course.

I still appreciate humor. What is more ironic than a bumper sticker with a slogan declaring care for Mother Earth? If the exhaust from our vehicles would wipe us out tomorrow, it would be a happy hastening of the inevitable. It is a mistake to think in terms of time, but almost impossible to shut off the instinct. Don't become confused and believe we can stop this. We are gone. We are paste. Shrug now if you agree.

I am a botfly. Maybe you are still a human. Personal examination might reveal a different truth, but just as likely not. Truth does not require our awareness. My first reaction was horror and disappointment. Now I have simply fallen in line. A more comfortable path might be to think less. To this end, I am listening to more of the radio, and watching more of the TV. I drive cars to buy meat, and I am careful to treat money as more than just a concept. You can do that to. Becoming one of us is reasonably comfortable and numb. It is the easiest thing to do.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

I hope we will always be close.

Hello Journal. (Hi future chrisharne),

I am back visiting reality today. I might stick around for awhile, it's always hard to tell. I hope I make more time to write to you. I miss you. You have been a major help to me, and I am grateful for the record which you provide. But I know that others read you as well sometimes. I want to be an open and honest person - especially when sharing is hard. I tell myself that the difficult entries hold the most value.

I am not concerned for my own privacy, but I am bound by honor to protect the privacy of others. When I began to share my secrets with you, Journal, I knew that this would become a problem. When you were a notebook, there were no ethical decisions to navigate.

I am not a real writer. I am not ready to be one yet. I am a human who has been writing to a journal since the first day they could construct a sentence. There have been lapses over the years. I go away sometimes. That doesn't mean I don't love you. I'm not sure where I've been, and I don't know when I will see you again. It feels wonderful to talk to you again. I hope we will always be close.