Jan. 1, 2016, Dublin, Georgia
Got out of work and went for a walk around the island. I hadn't visited any of the facilities since I'd started working there. Wasn't sure if I was allowed to, but if I was going to live there then I was going to make sure it was ok. Tennis courts, health club, restaurant, bar, cafe, wildlife museum, art gallery, marina, etc. Hooked on the trailer and left the island.
Walmart parking lot.
Jan. 2, 2016, Forest City, Arkansas
I'm giving myself the weekend to think about it, but I left South Carolina last night after work headed for California. I told myself if I wake up somewhere in Georgia tomorrow morning and decide it was a bad idea, I'll just turn around and head back and they'll never know I left, but if it feels right, I'll call them and let them know. It won't come as a shock. I've only been there two weeks and this Wednesday I told my manager that I was considering other jobs. The millionaire elitist atmosphere of the private island coupled with the underlying racial tension is not my scene even though they sweetened the deal, yesterday, when the president of the island's wife came by the barn and brought me to look at a house that she found for me to live in despite the fact that earlier this week I was told that employees are not allowed to be on the island when they are not working let alone live on it. Guess they make exceptions.
A rest area.
Jan. 3, 2016, Amarillo, Texas. Truck stop.
Jan. 4, 2016, Yucca, Arizona. Rest area.
Jan. 5, 2016, Morro Bay, California
Made it to the DMV just before it closed, took two written tests (one for auto, one for motorcycle) to get a new Calif. driver's license because I'll need one for the job I'm interviewing for in the morning. My mind was a little foggy after covering so much distance with my big trailer in tow, but I passed them both. Parked along a road with a lot of other commercial looking vehicles and trailers.
Jan. 6, 2016, Morro Bay, California
Went to the job interview. It went well. Visited a few other places I was interested in working and contacted some people that I used to do work for the last time I was in this area to give myself other choices besides the job I drove across the country for. Unloaded the motorcycle and parked it out front a friend's house so I could start staying in the trailer (couldn't stay in the trailer while traveling unless I wanted to pull the bike out every night so I wouldn't have to breathe gas fumes all night).
Jan. 7, 2016, Morro Bay, California
The company I interviewed with called and wants me to come in for a second interview on Monday.
Jan. 8, 2016, Morro Bay, California. Treated myself to a hot meal.
Jan. 9, 2016, Pozo, Califonia
Drove out to my friends' farm who I haven't seen in 5yrs, parked the trailer and took a break from the road.
Jan. 10, 2016
Did some odd jobs on the farm.
Feb. 5, 2016, Morro Bay State Park, California
Paid for a campsite and permission to be somewhere. It's a nice feeling. Got showered and cleaned up to head into SLO for another job interview this afternoon.
Feb. 12, 2016, Morro Bay, California
The owner of the company I interviewed for back in Jan. finally called and offered me a job, but I passed. Too little, too late. The temp agency that I decided to use got me a better paying gig that I could leave in April when I plan to go to Utah.
February 27, 2016, San Luis Obispo, California
Woke up in the trailer, this morning, parked on the side of the road near the truck rental place where I left my motorcycle, yesterday. I had considered loading the bike, last night, and heading out to the coast to have a couple beers at the small saloon I had fun at a couple weeks ago, but my back seemed to be getting worse and I pulled a muscle in my leg as well so I was in no shape for dancing. I need to decide where I'm going to park. My temporary boss didn't call, yesterday, like he said he was going to which I was a little relieved about because I don't like discussing work, pay and commitments when I'm in bad shape like I am, at the moment, but I've got another full week's pay coming regardless of what we agree upon. If I can rest for the weekend maybe my back will heal enough by Monday that I won't do any further damage if I continue working. I need the money.
Trying to decide where I'm going to park is always a challenge when I don't have a pressing need to be anywhere specific. Part of me just wants to stay put, lay low and heal for two days and maybe write some more. Lord knows I need to make progress on the book if I'm ever going to have anything to show for this life I've tried to live, but this street isn't a good spot to stay and, plus, I skipped dinner last night and I don't have any food so I need to leave here regardless. I could take the bike to get food, but I don't think riding it is helping my back any. The street my friend lives on isn't ideal either, too many houses and people walking past, but I do want to finish her bathroom for her so I might as well load up the bike and head over there. I can't park at her house. The roads in the trailer park are too narrow, so I have to park on the main road where lots of other cars are parked. There's, also, a few boat trailers and utility trailers parked on the road unattended so, at least, I blend in, but apparently they need to be moved every three days or they'll get ticketed and towed.
Loaded the bike and got some lunch and groceries at Trader Joe's. I've figured out that if I don't arch my back too much it's less painful. My leg feels a lot better, but I should probably skip playing soccer tomorrow which is disappointing because I need to make new friends around here or, at the very least, have some fun while getting more exercise than just from work. My friend is working, today. It's Saturday, but she usually works six days a week so I'll need to get a key to her place if I'm going to work on her bathroom. Maybe I'll just eat some food for a minute and think about what the best thing to do is. I've got a little while in this parking lot before I'm here too long and someone notices.
Texted my friend to see when she is getting out of work. Haven't heard back, but decided to head over to her street regardless. It's 2:30pm. I can unload the bike and ride over to the jewelry store that she manages and get the key if she's not getting out soon. At least, I can get a little work done and feel productive, today.
Got the key and finished installing her shower doors so she can use it, again. Finished just before 7 and rode the motorcycle to a nearby church where an al-anon speaker meeting was being held. It's not easy to go to stuff like this by myself and I usually have kind of a chip on my shoulder when I do, but it's only because I don't know anyone and feel like an outsider. The only option in big group settings seems to be to put on a fake smile and chit-chat about superficial things which I don't do, but, at least, I'm going and trying. It's better than sitting alone at night with just my thoughts. I just need to give my body a chance to heal and then I'll have a lot more options. My body is the one thing that I've always been able to rely on and I believe I still can. I've just been under a lot of stress lately and I've heard that we carry stress in our bodies. Moving across the country to start over once again, trying to be patient while I earn a couple more paychecks so I won't be in a constant state of survival anymore and spending way too much time by myself can take its toll on a person, but I feel like if I can hang in here a little while longer I will be on the verge of something great...a life that will make me happy and all I want is to share this happiness with every person that I come in contact with because it won't be a fleeting or self-serving happiness. It will have been built from the ground up having started with nothing.
February 28, 2016, San Luis Obispo, California
So what have I learned after twenty years of traveling from place to place working among "normal" people who are living the typical American lifestyle while I've lived on the fringe? You can't fix a problem until you recognize it exists. This is a fact that I acknowledged the day I graduated college as I drove off campus my life finally mine. Unfortunately, many people are not willing to agree because they don't see the point in recognizing a problem that they believe can't be fixed. You can't work on your car until you turn off the engine. Even if I just want to tune-up my truck, I still need to park it and turn it off. We live in a system that we are so dependent on that we cannot afford to turn it off and stop relying on it long enough to really address what improvements it needs or what improvements our own lives need. This is why I have lived the way I've lived. I've been dependent on the system, too; just not as much. Unless I want to disappear into the woods never to be seen again -and believe me, I have thought about it, I rely on our system, too, but much less than the average person primarily because I've been such a physically healthy person (despite my recent injury) and because of the "sacrifices" I've been willing to make. I have been able to take a better, more objective, look from the outside than most simply from the vantage point I've occupied.
Without belaboring all the reasons why I never jumped in and joined the race -as much as I like to run, my need to work within the system just like everyone else in order to survive coupled with my ability to take consistent breaks from it in between moving from place to place has been like a process of trial and error. Rather than just take one shot at life and make the best of it no matter what you have to do to pull yourself through, I have been able to stop, re-assess and try, again, over and over all the while still functioning as an active member of society. There are those who are so wealthy that they have just as much freedom as I have, but because they don't have to work they cannot understand what it's like for the average person nor see where the real improvements need to be made. This type of wealthy person can live in their own make believe world never learning what real life could teach them. The people that work are who have made this country what it is. Those who don't are a big part of the problem. We'll come back to this issue and what the true definition of work is, but, right now, it's more important to share what I have been able to see with the people willing, wanting and brave enough to look for solutions.
March 2, 2016, San Luis Obispo, California
I've been parked in the shade on this same street since Saturday and going back and forth from work on my motorcycle. I haven't had the solar panels plugged in the entire time, yet I still haven't run out of power. That's good to know. My back's not completely healed, but it's feeling a lot better. I talked to a friend in NYC and another one in Maine and they both told me to take some ibuprofen so I have been the last few days. It seems to help. I've never been one to take any type of drugs even over the counter, but I need to keep working. I honestly believe this injury is a result of not working the types of jobs I normally work which have kept me strong and healthy and instead taking jobs that pay better, but offer less exercise during the past year or so. I've had a couple heavy labor jobs during this time and I've felt great when I had them, but the rest haven't allowed me to stay in shape like I normally am and I don't like it. I'm going to have to do something about this. The owner of the company called me, today, and wants to talk to me next week about promoting me to run one of his bucket trucks which would literally double my pay while giving me even less exercise. I hate to do it, but I have to take it if I want to go to Utah in May to take the courses in primitive survival I've been wanting to take. They're very expensive. Is this how the system is finally going to beat me? Don't get me started on how absurd everything I just mentioned is. I didn't get home from work until 9:15pm and I'm exhausted.
March 3, 2016, Morro Bay, California
The guys I work with found out about me, last night. I say it like it's some deep dark secret. It's not. I just try not to give people more information than they can digest in one sitting. Just because a person can hear and understand the words you are saying to them doesn't mean they can fully comprehend them. It takes time. I've been working for this company for about a month, now. They're based out of San Francisco, but have a contract with PG&E to replace all the street lights down here from San Miguel to AG. Knowing that I want to go to Utah in late April I decided to try using a temp agency when I got to this area because I hate quitting jobs.
I hate disappointing people and that's what quitting a job is. Because I've always been on my own, a job has a lot more weight in my life than in most. The people I work with are my primary source of social contact. Whether healthy or wise, I inadvertently see them as my family (which is why I won't work for jerks) so when it's time to move on it's like severing a major relationship. I dread it. I've gotten better lately at being more upfront about how long I'll be in a certain area so they know ahead of time that I'm not looking for a long term position which has helped. Seasonal farming jobs have worked great, but often even they try to get me to stick around and work for them in other ways and I have to say "No, thanks." I hate it. I know a big part of it is how our system is composed and how socially unnatural it is, but nonetheless I miss every person I worked with or for. When I first started out on this road, getting a job was all that mattered because I needed to work to survive. The less I told them about my long term goals the better, or so I thought. I was afraid that people wouldn't hire me if I told them what I was really trying to do with my life because they wouldn't understand or believe me....or think I wasn't going to stick around. For whatever the reason, it became my secret and I hate living with secrets. They go against everything I love about being free. Many times I'd take a job with the hopes and belief that maybe this time it will be different and maybe I've finally found that place that I've been looking for and I can finally stop moving around so much. In these cases, I wasn't hiding anything in the beginning, but all too soon I'd see what was really going on with whatever type of business it was and become disenchanted, work for as long as I could before I couldn't take it anymore and hit the road, always on good terms. I've never been fired. I often take my job more seriously than my employers which is sometimes the problem. The saga continues.
It was 6:30 and the guys had been working since 7 in the morning and I still had to bring one of them with me down to Pismo to the yard to pick up one of the other trucks that was getting new tires put on it then unload my truck and head back so I asked him if he wanted to grab something to eat before we left town. It was just three of us this week. The rest of the crew was up in Sacramento on another job. They wanted pizza and called it in while we were still loading new fixtures onto the trucks that were staying in Morro Bay. The whole crew are what average Americans would call Mexicans, but they aren't. First of all, to me, Mexicans are Native Americans who lived in the part of North America that became Mexico and unlike the Native Americans that lived in the part that became the United States were not slaughtered when white people arrived, but most of these guys were from all over Central America. Some may have ancestors that were from Spain and others who were native to the continent. Whatever the case, they all spoke Spanish when they didn't have to speak English. I wanted to learn. They are a fun bunch and I like working with them. They work hard and get paid very well. Though they're all younger than me they all have wives and children back in the bay area.
While eating our pizza, Hubert, the youngest, handsomest of the group, was sharing with me how he loved visiting his grandparents in Nicaragua when he was a boy. Everyday he and his cousins would roam the countryside exploring the land until dark when his grandmother would scold them for staying out too late so I shared with him how I'd done a little walking and exploring myself. Before I knew it, they were laughing and asking me questions. I told them they could find a lot of it on youtube from the times I was on t.v. and they watched the videos. Then of course, the question of how old I was came up like it always does because I look so much younger than I am and people can never believe I've been traveling this long. I was glad they found out. I feel like less of an outsider, now.
March 5, 2016, Morro Bay, California
It's sad to think how money can effect our emotional well-being. It's more than sad. It's sick. Money doesn't care what kind of person we are. It doesn't care how we treat others. It doesn't care whether we're harming the planet or not. Yet, it is the most important thing in all of our lives. You can argue that love, family or being a good person are more important to you, but that argument would only be serving your ego. It is a fact that without money, we don't matter in this world... that we've created. What if you don't have love or family, but you still try to be a good person? Will it make you rich or is aquiring money easier if you're not concerned with doing the right thing, caring about others or harming the planet? Ok, I won't be so hard on you. We all know the answer to these questions whether we're ready to admit them or not.
Sweat was dripping down my arms as I danced downstairs at a club on Higuera St. The DJ was playing a long string of old Motown hits, "Signed, sealed, delivered, I'm yours!!", and the young crowd was digging it. The girl next to me reached over and ran her fingers down my arm and said something to her friends as if the gesture proved some kind of point that she was making to them. Don't mind me, I'm just some random guy that is here to be touched whenever you feel like it. I didn't even acknowledge her overture. A minute later a young, little thing in super tight jeans and a tiny halter top that bared her thin stomach was deliberately backing into me. Midway through a weekend night, you're lucky to have a little real estate in front of you because at any club (in a small city where everything closes at 1am) by 12:30 you won't be able to move on the dance floor. It was about 11:30 and though it was definitely crowded upstairs and down one could still maneuver around with limited freedom which is why I didn't fall for whatever this young lady was attempting. She obviously had a hidden agenda (nothing else about her was). One second there was a little room in front of me, the next she was there trying to get me to maul her. A few seconds later, she was gone and back across the room in the far corner with her man. I think they were having an argument and her plan was to use me to make him jealous.
The people, or new friends if I want to get ahead of myself, that I was with were dancing just to my right, but I had decided to create a little distance because for a minute in between people leaving the dance floor for more drinks or to use the restroom I had been left alone with a very attractive member of the group and you could cut the sexual tension with a knife. It was just her and I in the crowd of people as she reached up and let her hair down having already shed the top layer of clothing she was wearing leaving a loose halter top that hung down past her hips, yet steal revealed the contours of her body. This was not helping. She was fine, but I could tell that the only remaining male member of our group liked her and I wasn't going to be "that guy". In hindsight, I hope she didn't take it as an insult that I didn't try anything. I'm not a player and I have a strict no drama policy in my life. Life's too short to get side-tracked with temporary impulses that leave long lasting repercussions. I suppose if I felt that she was the girl of my dreams I would have alpha-ed up and took charge of the situation. Who could blame me if that was the case, but even though she was very nice and intelligent and looking extremely hot in every sense of the word sweat dripping down her neck and shoulders, I wasn't going to step on some guys toes or ego that I just met to get a little (not to assume that I could have or that she was even interested). To me, that's just not cool and not worth it. This was my first time hanging out with these people because a young lady who I met about a month ago invited me to go with them to see a comedy show this evening.
It was Friday and I got paid. My mood is so much lighter. The amount of money I need to sustain my lifestyle is a fraction of the amount the average person needs so steady work and a couple paychecks and the world is a whole new place. I can, now, get new tires for the trailer which it has desperately needed since making the cross-country trip two months ago. I had to change two of the tires along the way. Though it's a new trailer the dealership sells them with very cheap tires which wear down with normal use very quickly, a fact I found out after I hit the road with it. Said "Good-bye" to the guys yesterday afternoon when they called it an early day so they could drive back up to the Bay area. For most of my job, I work entirely by myself so it's a little pathetic at how fun it is for me to see them when we meet and unload their trucks full of old lights and stock them up on new lights.
I left the club a little after midnight making sure I said "Good night" to my new friend who had invited me. It was just too crowded to move and the level of alcohol rising with the level of intelligence dropping at this point in the evening was enough for me to decide that it was time to go. Though I was trying to mentally prepare for the loneliness that awaits, I'd had a blast, saw a really funny comedy show at Marstons, grabbed a couple beers and some food with some cool new people at Firestone's and then got my dance on for a little while at Novo. What more could I ask for? Don't answer that. It would have been fun to bundle-up, crank some tunes and ride the motorcycle home along the 1 between SLO and MB. At least then, the stars and moon would have kept me company, but it was suppose to rain so I had taken the truck.
March 6, 2016
We all have a story. The more people we have in our lives the more our stories are interwoven. One of the primary reasons I write is to lessen the weight of my story because it has been such a solitary one which is ironic because I love people so much, but maybe this is only a result of not having many in my life. Who knows. As we live our lives and things happen over the course of a day or years, we have a natural need to share it with others or, at least, with one other person, but if we don't our story can become long and heavy over time. If we don't talk about and share the things that truly affect us along with the things that are truly important to us, our story can become a burden too heavy to bear alone and we may give up on the very things that matter the most and then our stories won't even matter to us which is an awful way to live.
Moved the trailer back over to MB before work on Friday because that's where the hotel that the guys were staying in is. I'm not sure they know that I live out of my trailer, but they learned a little about me the other night. Looks like we'll be meeting in Paso next week, but I'll probably stay here. I put up flyers yesterday looking for a farm to rent some land from so I can stop moving from place to place all week. This usually takes care of itself because I normally work on farms and once I've proven what kind of worker I am, they're more than happy to offer me a little spot to park my trailer, pitch a tent or move into a cabin or apartment if they have one. Living like this is the only way I've been able to survive on what little a person makes farming, another example of how deliberately out of balance our economic system is. Over the years, I've tried not to think about how much I was getting paid working on organic farms while the people who bought our produce make much more money doing something completely removed from the production of healthy food, food I myself could not afford (luckily I got it for free or at a discount because I worked there). Wah, wah, wah.
I made a change recently, or a change came over me, when I decided to start this blog. For the last 20 years, I've kept a different one, but something had to give and I stopped writing there. I needed to start over in order to be more free. I still needed to process and share what I was learning and experiencing to lighten my load, but my story had accumulated to the point that I was being crushed under it's weight. It was literally killing me. If you've ever gone to church on a regular basis, I'm sure you've heard the expression "God will never give you more than you can bear." Life can become very hard at times, but it was somewhat comforting to hear this assertion if I chose to believe it. What a person may fail to realize is that even though God will never give you more than you can handle, life definitely will. People definitely will. You don't have to be religious to believe in God. Though at different times in my life I've been involved with different churches my relationship with something greater than myself is a personal one, not religious. What I realized recently which took a very, very long time for me to see is that much of the story I've been carrying was not my own and this is why my load had become so heavy. This can happen without us ever knowing it so if we believe that God will never give us more than we can bear, yet we take on more than we should we will put ourselves through hell trying to carry it. My wholehearted belief in never giving up almost resulted in my demise.
I was living in Maine during the coldest winter on record in 100 years while working outside building houses for the biggest non-profit in the world dedicated to providing homes for families that were less fortunate at the same time I was living in a small 20' trailer with no heat, insulation, running water or electricity hanging onto the love I had for others who's place in my life only existed in my mind. As icicles hung from the ceiling on the inside of my trailer and I fought to stay warm while getting ready for work every morning, the company I worked for oblivious to who I was or how I lived, the days piled up heavier and heavier, yet I refused to give up. I was finally confronted by the unavoidable question "Who was I fighting so hard for?" There was no one.
Depending on the environment that we grow up in and the tools that we were given we can take on the stories of our family members, friends or people we've been in love with never differentiating between knowing their stories which is part of our role in one another's lives and bearing theirs which is not. Guilt, shame, pride, stubbornness, fear, even strength and love can all contribute to us taking on what we are not suppose to carry. Sometimes the stronger we are and the more we love someone the harder it is to see this.
I started this blog this year because I needed to continue telling my story without hurting those I love who have never been able to hear it (not that even read my other one or even knew I had one). Unknowingly carrying the fears and denial of others was keeping me from being the person that I am supposed to be...and keeping me from being who I needed to be for those who actually wanted to be in my life. Each of us gets to decide what we want to deal with, or not deal with, in our lives and in the world and the result of these decisions can be very different from person to person. I had to accept that this difference was only hurting me and anyone who tried to get close to me while those who didn't were unaffected. I finally had to let go because the people that I was holding onto had let go of me a long time ago. It was like I've been secretly saving a seat all these years for people who I beleived I was supposed to share my life with while those who wanted to share their lives with me could not find a place to sit down. It's pretty messed up, but I never saw it until it was finally staring me in the face. Letting go, to me, felt too much like giving up so I refused to do it until I had no choice. I was alone and hanging on to no one. Those who were never there still weren't and those who wanted to be had finally given up on me.
There was no miraculous event or life changing moment that made me stop. One day, I finally had to decide that living like I was was not living at all. Surviving something that only makes you numb to who you are makes surviving pointless. Now, what kind of a free spirit would I be if I allowed myself to live like this? Free spirits are supposed to be fun and lighthearted. I look back on my life and all the years of traveling and experiences I've had and I see the unnecessary burden I carried that prevented me from enjoying all that I was doing. I passed up on so many opportunities to just have fun or jobs that didn't align with my saving-the-world mentality. What a dope! There were still plenty of times when I was like a little kid who had way too much joy and exuberance for life than he knew what to do with, but there was always this dark judgmental person waiting in the wings to punish me. I've fired that asshole. The only way he was able to hurt me and indirectly hurt those who have tried to love me over the years was by giving him a leg to stand on planted firmly on the ground of loneliness all those empty seats created. When I've traveled on foot, I was able to walk for days, weeks, months through the desert alone partly because I was not afraid to be by myself because I loved life so much believing whatever challenge I was facing was part of my rights of passage towards a life that I always dreamed of living close to nature and surrounded by people who were as committed to living a natural life as I was, but the other part was circumstantial. I had learned to be alone because I was unknowingly taught by people who made me feel alone. Wups.
I need to get outside and have some fun.
March 7, 2016, Morro Bay, California
Long rainy day at work, but it's still a lot warmer than Maine. I haven't seen my boss in over a month since the day he hired me. It gets pretty lonely. I'm not motivated by money, but rather appreciation and comradery. Ugh, and my back is frigging killing me. I haven't healed like I usually do. It's not even my back. It's where my back meets my hip. The pain starts in my butt and runs all the way down my right leg. It friggin kills, especially in the morning. I just want to go back to heavy labor and get strong, again. I bet that would fix it, but I need to make better money if I want to take that wilderness first aid and survival courses next month so I have to hang in there at least for a couple more weeks. Then I might tell the temp agency and the guy I'm working for that I'm done. I'll sell my trailer, pay for the classes (one's $1,000 and the other is $2,700). Hopefully, the classes won't be full by then. I could probably get, at least, 10k for the trailer. It's brand new and is totally hooked-up on the inside and complete with solar panels on the roof so I'm self-contained, off the grid and under the radar wherever I go. It's sad that I feel like I need to hide in order to find a way to live a more natural life. I'll buy another one with the money left over, throw all my tools in it and build it, again.
Man, it was windy last night. It felt like something was going to get ripped off the roof of the trailer; the solar panels, a ladder or the plastic work box with my chainsaws in it (so they don't stink up my cozy cabin on wheels with the smell of gas). It reminded me of the storm I spent in my little sailboat in Astoria, Or, the winter of 07-08. The wind picked up my boat and slammed it down in a parking lot by the ocean. Luckily, I wasn't in it. I'd met some nice people at the feed store I was working at and they recommended that Job (my dog) and I come stay with them until after the storm passed. Before we abandoned ship, I remember holding my buddy tight trying to keep him calm as the boat shook in the heavy winds night after night.
Someday I'll have someone to talk to and wonder how my day was and I'll do the same for them until then sometimes all ya can do is put your head down and dredge forward. I can't fire up the wood stove parked on a public road, but, at least, my little propane heater is toasty warm as I sit by it typing.
March 8, 2016, San Luis Obispo, California
What if I'm not crazy? What if for some random reason a lot of things happened in my life at the right time to allow me to see what other people cannot or will not see? It's not rocket science. I bet most children ask the same questions I still do at some point in their childhood. I specifically remember asking my mother one of these kinds of questions when I was a boy, but I don't remember her answer. Why? Maybe because she didn't have a good one. Maybe it's because none of us do. I definitely remember her tone.
I stopped taking the ibuprofen this weekend. I'd taken it for 5 days and it seemed to help, but I don't like taking drugs of any kind. I can see taking some aspirin if I have a really bad headache (like once a year) or some antibiotics for a few days if I get some type of infection, but that's it. I've never had health insurance, never needed it, but a friend back east keeps reminding me to check out Obama-care so I should probably look into it. I hate bureaucracy. I'm not a big fan of the system. I've never asked anything from it and I don't want to.
I was invited to a party on Sat. night. I think I had two beers. Yes, I know, alcohol is a drug. I'm not actually a big fan of drinking either, but it's sort of a ritual in our society to have a drink in certain social settings. Often, I won't even have a beer, but I'm trying to meet new people so I figured I'd go along with things. Then they asked me if I smoked and I said "No, thanks" as they broke out a bong and then they asked me if I wanted to do a bump. I didn't even know what that was as I watched them snorting "stuff" off the end of a butter knife. I'm not judging anyone. I just don't understand why anyone would want to do that to themselves. Actually, I guess I do understand it, but I do not relate to it and there's a big difference. They didn't seem crazy or like druggies when I met them and I was invited by a friend who doesn't do that stuff (at least, I don't think she does). Maybe I don't know her as well as I think. Again, I'm not judging. I've got one rule in life. People are allowed to do whatever they want as long as they're not hurting anyone else or the planet. It may sound like a pretty simple rule, but the planet part obviously opens the door for a whole lot of issues...and consequently the potential for a whole lot of judgment.
As a result, my amendment to the rule was: I don't judge others, but I do get to decide what and who I'm going to be around. I do judge myself which has caused me problems in the past so I needed to amend that, too. There are different types of judgment, constructive and destructive. A lot of times, judgment is unhappiness in disguise just waiting to reveal and justify itself. We are the source of whatever we are expressing. If we hate, we are hateful. If we fear, we are fearful. These feelings have a source and that source is us, so if I find myself judging others is because I'm not happy and that it something that I can do something about. I can't control what other people do, but I can always look for things that I can do to improve my life. People can do things that make us react a certain way so we can be tricked into thinking that whatever we feel was caused by this person, but this is absolutely not true. A reaction is a habitual thought pattern that triggers a certain feeling. If we break down this process into steps then we can see that the automatic response is not as automatic as we thought. It's all a process of separating ourselves from our thoughts in areas that we're not accustomed to doing. Step one is someone does something, step two is we perceive it, step three is we react to it or may decide to not take it personal -and this is the crucial moment because step four is when we can ask ourselves why we are allowing ourselves to do this. Often, we never make it to step four. We live in a constant state of steps 2 and 3 sometimes when step one hasn't even accured. Your mind is your comfort zone. My mind is my comfort zone. Getting out of our heads, our comfort zones, is where growth and greater happiness is found. Getting out of our comfort zones, stepping out of our heads takes courage. It's all about facing our fears by first being brave enough to admit we have them. If we're being positive, it's because we have positive feelings inside us. If we're being negative, it's because we have negative feelings inside us. Thought patterns are simply what trigger them. If we slow down our thoughts to the point that they are not automatic we can think and behave more deliberately and less unconsciously and make healthier choices that will effect how we feel. Stopping the trigger that lives in between steps 2 and 3 is where progress needs to be made and this starts with not being afraid. Blah, blah, blah. I'm rambling.
It all comes down to energy and I have a lot. In the natural world, it would be put to very good use. Trapped in the machine, I try to give it something positive and constructive to do like writing when I can't do other things. What was the question that I asked when I was a little boy? I'm very reluctant to share it because I know how entrenched people's thoughts are in believing what is not true. It's a lonely place to find yourself when you look around and see how obvious things appear because you haven't been caught up in the patterns that most are. People are often not as happy as they appear and I don't want to be the one who triggers what's hidden yet waiting to be unleashed. I guess that's my fear sooo looks like I've got some work to do on me.
March 10, 2016, Morro Bay, California
This blog has become like a diary, my only friend, someone(thing) to talk to. I'm not feeling sorry for myself or anything like that. I created this and I'll use it for whatever I need to in order to keep myself sane or to make me feel like I belong to something even if it means writing about mundane daily occurrences. Didn't get much sleep last night. The throbbing pain in my leg is becoming a little unmanageable. Went by a physical therapy clinic this morning and made an appointment for next Wednesday morning. Now, I just have to make it til then. My biggest concern is not wanting to do any permanent damage if I keep working. They'll call me at the clinic if they have any cancellations.
Tomorrow's Friday and I never ended up seeing or talking to my temporary boss like he said we were going to. It really doesn't bother me. If I needed/wanted to talk to him I would, and have, when I felt it was necessary. He keeps telling me for the past few weeks that he wants to talk to me about promoting me to driving one of his bucket trucks. It'd be nice to make more money, but I'm not pushing the issue or losing any sleep over it because I like the flexibility of my schedule, right now, and I'm getting a steady paycheck so things are improving gradually, but it does display a degree of inconsistency on his part to keep saying he's going to do something and not follow through with it. We only communicate through text and yesterday he asked me for my email address so he could forward an email that he got from the giant corporation we have a contract with about bottles of urine being found in the dumpsters that we throw all the old lights we're pulling off the city light poles in. He wasn't happy. It's a big account worth a lot of money and he doesn't want it being jeopardized by something so disgusting. In response to the email he received, he directed one to the main crew, but he wanted to forward it to me as well so I know what's going on seeing as I have more knowledge of the dumpsters than anyone else. In fact, I'm pretty sure I know who did it. I'm usually the only one who throws stuff in the dumpsters, but on one night one of the guys unloaded his truck by himself after I had been there and the next morning when I returned the place was a mess and I had to clean up the area around the dumpster because there was trash on ground which wasn't there the day before. The dumpsters had just been emptied so it was clear to see that who ever had thrown the most recent load of lights away, also, threw a bunch of trash away, too, including a bottle (I had no way of knowing what was in it. The guys will often piss in a bottle in their truck when working if there's no restroom nearby) instead of backing over to the trash dumpster like he was supposed to, but I'm not going to offer this info unless I'm forced to. I have no desire to throw one of the guys under the bus. If I was a less scrupulous person and really wanted to be promoted I might exploit the information for my own gain. Some people might be tempted to. In his email my temp boss asked "Who wants to lose a job that pays over 100,000 a year?!" Learning what the guys are making when I'm making so much less took me a few minutes to digest added to the fact that I'm not sure they're looking out for my best interest. I have a suspicion that one of the reasons neither my temp boss or the crew are eager to have me promoted is because they know they won't find someone else to do the job I'm already doing as good as me. It's a load off his mind to know I'm taking care of things down here when he's up in San Fran and I definitely make the crew's job a lot easier. Who would of thought doing a really good job would be such a disadvantage to myself? There's a million absurd things about the world we live in. I have no desire to use this disheartening fact to justify doing something that to me is morally questionable by snitching on someone just because it may better my situation financially. That's not the kind of situation I want to be in. Yes, that kind of money would make my life a lot easier, but even though this messed up world we've created revolves around money, mine doesn't.
So what am I afraid of? Why have I lived this way for all these years?
March 11, 2016, San Luis Obispo, California
We all have a spirit and it's our most valuable quality. A free spirit is someone whose spirit cannot be bound. There are many types and many stories. Some may never be told, yet they still remain true to their spirit as a force of nature in the world and in the lives they touch. Some may get worn down by life little by little and with each lost battle they eventually give up on their spirit retreating emotionally into a life that does not represent who they are or who they could have been. The life that we are born into shapes what we must do to protect our spirit. It's not always so black and white. We often win some and lose some, but those who truly are free spirits are the ones who no matter how many battles they lose never give up on hope, never give on themselves and never give up on others. This is the story of one free spirit.
There's a moment in all of our lives when we realize that the world does not revolve around us and, in fact, that we don't matter one bit to the world. If this hasn't happened to you yet then you're not actually living in the world. You're living in your head. I was one of these types of people for most of my life. In a weird way, I kind of miss it because I had this false sense of security. I felt safe like I belonged, loved, like I deserved to matter, but unfortunately it was a lie. Maybe I needed to believe it was true because the alternative was just too overwhelming or maybe I just hadn't stayed true to my spirit long enough to finally see. Eventually we all realize this fact. We have to. It's part of the process. When it finally happens, no matter how long it takes, this is when life finally gets totally real and thus allowing us to become totally present.
After taking enough of a beating, I eventually realized and accepted the unthinkable. That I didn't belong and I didn't matter. Sometimes it takes experiencing the unthinkable to wake us up. It was a series of events the final one being when someone who I thouhgt would always love me turned their back on me so indifferently. I wish there was a better way. I'd like to believe there is. Depending on the state of your external life this can be a terrifying realization leaving a hole in your stomach big enough to drive a train through. To make matters worse, some of us actually experience what this feels like without mentally realizing and accepting why we are feeling it. This prolongs the suffering until it finally breaks us....if it can. It's bad enough to experience such a feeling. It's even worse to not know why thus preventing us from doing anything about it other than enduring it. This is because our mind is a creature of habit and will go one thinking a certain way for our entire life unless we make it stop. This can be a very difficult thing to do because we often don't even know there is another way. We think life is just life and that's all there is to it, but this is, also, a lie. If you're willing to try and never give up then all you have to do is apply your efforts to the right situation. There is always another way, but some of us may never realize this until we've completely exhausted the way we've been trying to never give up on, first, which can take a lot of pain and a very long time depending on how persistent we are. I was guilty of this. The ability to never give up is truly an amazing gift. Applied to the wrong situation it can be a deadly curse.
The foreman of the crew called me this morning and told me that they weren't going to work because of the rain which makes sense seeing as they do electrical work outdoors so they were going to head back to San Francisco early. He said it was up to me whether I wanted to work or not and if I did I could do some prep work for next week. Then he called about an hour later and told me that our boss wanted me to go down to the warehouse yard and do inventory. Of course, they were all laughing in the background because they were all warm and dry heading home and I had to go out in the rain and count hundreds of boxes. I was laughing a little, too. I get along with them all very well and we joke around a lot, but I sometimes wonder because they all speak Spanish with one another whether they're making fun of me sometimes. It's hard enough being the new guy on a job where I do know what they're saying. It's even harder when they can say stuff right in front of me and I have no idea what's going on ...added to the fact that they're all making more than twice what I'm making. Then of course, he told me that our boss wanted to talk to me about doing some work in the bucket truck next week which would make me what they're making. I told the foreman that our boss tells me that every Friday.
I seriously considered quitting. Of course, I would still work, today, and do everything that was asked of me and more because I never want to leave any doubt that I am a responsible person, but if I ever feel the least bit disrespected I will move on after I've proven myself. I told myself I'd decide later. In addition to feeling like I was being jerked around a little, my back was a significant factor in the decision to quit or not. It was getting worse not better and the most important thing in the world to me is my health specifically my body. It has served me unwaveringly for my entire life and though I'm not afraid to suck it up and tough something out I will not jeopardize my long term health for any job. Took some ibuprofen, grabbed my commercial fishing foul weather gear, rounded up my carpentry tools because I told a new friend of a friend that I'd fix her door for her either on my lunch break or after work within the next few days and headed to work. Got everything done and texted my temp boss the information around 6. He thanked me and told me that he'd call me on Monday about doing some other type work for him. I'll decide this weekend how I'm going to handle it. I work by myself for 90% of the time at this job and have no direct communication with either the temp agency or him since I started a month and half ago so I really don't owe either of them a thing. I like doing a job and feel good at the end of the day, but when I don't know who I'm doing a good job for other than myself I have to ask myself how long am I going to keep doing it even with a six figure salary being dangled in my face.
It's Friday night and I really wanted to go be a goof ball somewhere, have a beer, listen to some music or socialize in any way. Texted a friend, but she was busy being a mom. Grabbed a veggie sub and opted to go to the Friday Night Speaker Meeting in SLO. I've never had a drinking problem, but I grew up with a lot of alcoholics in my family and circle of friends. There was a time when I went to a lot of meetings before finding the alternative type. I wanted so badly to belong to something that I tried to convince myself that I belonged in the program because the people in it were so familiar to me. How I found myself at my first is a story for another night. Regardless, there is a lot of hard earned wisdom in those rooms and speaker meetings are often the epitome. Where else can you go in America on any given night and always feel welcome? Any person, alcoholic or not, would benefit from doing the 12 step program. The concept of a higher power with no religious affiliation is especially powerful and effective. The main speaker wasn't as mind blowing as they usually are. She was kind of a trainwreck, but it was still good to go. Unfortunately, when I stood up from sitting down for an hour and half my leg throbbed so painfully that it was pointless to try to do anything else tonight. I'm taking a new single female friend kayaking tomorrow. I guess it's a date so I need to get up early change the tire on the trailer, get a campsite at the state park and take the kayak down from the rafters of the trailer and get it ready before she gets here. We've only hung out once before. She doesn't know how I live, but if we're going to be friends I'm going to tell her.
March 13, 2016, Morro Bay, California
Man, that last post was morbid. I considered taking it down, but that felt too much like cheating. I just have to learn from it. I need to stop trying to preach and just be honest and tell my story. The lessons will be there. It's been a rough couple days, but I feel good (mentally). I ended up having to go to the hospital last night. I hated to do it and deliberated over it all day, but the pain in my leg was getting worse not better. I researched countless medical websites, tried finding a doctor, went to an urgent care clinic and signed up for health insurance online, but couldn't get into see any one on a Saturday. I knew I had to work on Monday so I was trying to get it addressed before then so it wouldn't jeopardize my job, but around 8 o'clock last night it became clear that I had no choice. I wasn't going to be able to work in the condition I was in. I could barely walk a few feet without having to stop and lie down. I needed a professional opinion on how to allow it to heal. From my research, I was pretty sure it was a herniated disc.
I was mixing concrete about a month an half ago while working for a wealthy couple I did some work for last time I lived in the area before getting the job I have, now. I love hysical work and was eager to get back into shape so I was a little gung-ho averaging about 50 bags a day by hand which is kind of a lot. After about 4 days of this, on the morning of the 5th my back told me that I needed to slow down so I tried to, but wheel-barrowing a load of mixed concrete to the patio that I was pouring I stepped unevenly on the lawn trying to avoid the customer who was often getting in my way and something went "Ouch." By the end of that day, I was luggage. The next morning I couldn't get out of bed. Sneezing was never so scary. This lasted about two more days of immobility. On the third, I was able to move a little and had to hook on the trailer and move to a different location. Can't stay parked in one spot too long. I took it easy for a few more days and gradually I was fine. Went back to work, but like a dope I decided to join a pick-up soccer league to have some fun and meet new people in Los Osos and played soccer for two hours like a little kid and over the course of the following week my back began to get worse and worse, but, now, I was working for someone else and couldn't stop. This went on for over a month til...."Welcome to the emergency room at French Hospital." That place is a little sketchy by the way. I'm going to try Seirra Vista if I ever need to go to the hospital, again. There were stains on the bed sheets...but the nurse assured me they were clean. It felt too late to leave, but I probably should have. I got some useful info from the doctor which made the visit productive. Even though I felt a lot better I should never had played soccer so quickly after hurting me back. I'm an idiot. He offered me an injection judging from the noticeable pain I was in, but I declined. Later, he offered, again...more like recommended it so I trusted him and agree the third time he brought it up. My butt still hurts from the big needle the nurse used and my pain never went away. It didn't even lessen. I could barely make it down the grocery isles looking for some aleve on my way home which he recommended I get if I didn't want to have the prescription filled that he gave me for pain. I didn't get either. I can live with pain as long as I know I'm not making my condition worse.
The good news is I've got enough info to know how to handle the situation, now, which means I can't go back to work and have to take it easy for at least a week. Texted my temp boss and gave him the news. He was nice about it and said he'd call me tomorrow. How much you wanna bet that doesn't happen? Regardless, I'm relieved. I can't wait to get my body back or at least be able to move around enough to get stuff done. I still need to change the tire on the trailer and get out of here. I've been in the same spot for way too long. I had to cancel my "date", yesterday, and I haven't gotten down to those young ladies' condo who I told I'd fix their door for them, but I'll take care of that stuff this week. I've been able to put a sizable dent in what bills I have and will get another check at the end of this week. Looks like it might be time to sell the trailer. We'll see how the week goes.
Ok, where was I? The life of a free spirit, how did I get here and where am I headed? Fine, honesty. This is my story and I'm going to tell it. I was a wild kid, but a good one. Too much for my father to handle and too much like her brothers for my mum to embrace. Off to the woods I'd go with my dog whenever I couldn't find anyone to play with which was often. I had an older brother, but he wanted nothing to do with me. Still doesn't. I've tried to make amends my whole life for what I'm not even sure, but he's just not available. Haven't seen him in years. It's unimaginable and unacceptable, yet it continues.
The woods and the river were my sanctuary. Our family always had a dog, and always a black lab, when I was old enough to handle him, our third, Bandit -my brother named him, was my companion running through the mud and muck. The first half of the day always started the same: try to stay as dry and clean as possible, but once that first sneaker or boot landed in a creek or stream when one of my spectacular leaps, jk, wasn't quite far enough all bets were off and it was time to get really muddy and wet. Didn't matter what time of year, I'd stay out til dark and always return home with a story or two to tell. I'd stand downstairs at the door with a victorious grin on my face and without hesitation my mother would simply say "Down cellar" and I'd peal off my muddy clothes and leave them in a pile by the washing machine in the basement. Bandit would be cowering in the corner watching me knowing he was next. He hated baths. If he was lucky, he could avoid one and simply get rinsed off with the garden hose before entering the house, but if it was wintertime and it had been unhooked til spring, it was bath time. I'd lift him up (all 85lbs) into the slop sink which barely contained him and lather him up then soak him down with a big sponge. At least, it was warm. I'd laugh at his pitiful expression. Like it was so tortuous to get a warm bath on a cold night. What a wimp. Then the celebration followed. I'd have to wrap him in a towel still dripping and quickly carry him back outside because it was the only place safe for the explosion that was about to occur. I don't know what it is about dogs and baths, but after every one it's party time. It's hilarious. My only concern was keeping him from getting all dirty, again, in my mother's flower beds. After a damp towel rub down, he was allowed back in the house to be quarantined to a clean towel that I'd lay down in the living room (if he was lucky and my mother allowed it) by the foot of the extra chair that no one ever sat in because it was the only one in the room that didn't face the tv. We'd have dinner in the dining room and whenever someone said anything that sounded remotely like "Bandit" or "C'm here", he'd get up and run towards the table only to be told by everyone often simultaneously to get back on the towel. That was our routine. He'd always feels so clean and soft when he finally dried off as we'd lay on the living room floor together after dinner, a couple of wolves in sheep's clothing.
When I think about those times and how lucky we all were to have such a life, a home and a family, I'm lost at what has become of us. My mother has passed away over ten years. My father gave up on life a long time ago as the same house now falls apart around him refusing my help to come and fix it up. My brother...I don't even know where he is. Maybe somewhere in California. He pretty much left home the day he graduated high school and never came back. Maybe for a week or two during college, but not for long. He's been a phantom to my extended family and the kids we grew up with never keeping in touch with anyone. Recently, I gave myself permission to not feel obligated to come up with an acceptable answer when people would ask how either of them are doing. Now, I simply say "I don't know. You'd have to ask them." It kills me and I hate it.
What happened? I know it's happened to a lot of families. I think I might know why, but I'm not going to try and analyze it. Instead, I'll continue telling my story to build momentum so I can overcome the discouragement of lost dreams and weakened spirits that affect us all. We're all connected and if one of us makes it then we all can if the way is a true one.
March 14, 2016, Morro Bay, California
I spent $100 for a 5 minute conversation with a doctor at the hospital on Sat. night and $95 for over 3hrs of care at the the physical therapy clinic, today. Who says are health care system isn't fubared?! The hospital actually wanted $250 in cash, but $100 was all I gave them. The clinic called this morning and had a cancellation so I was able to get in there today. Still in constant pain, but I just ran to the grocery store to get a snack (an apple and cheese wasn't enough for dinner) and was able to walk around without my leg getting worse. Last night, I could barely make it down the isle at Target using a shopping cart to lean on so that's progress. I did end up buying some aleve though.
After the clinic called, I heated up some water on my little one burner stove and took a cowboy shower. Back in Maine, I had a cast iron tub over a fire pit that worked quite nicely, but the shower does the trick and is a lot quicker. Not as fun in the dead of winter surrounded by snow and stars, but it works. Lots of pretty girls work at the clinic. I remember when I was fresh out of college without a doubt in the world that I'd achieve everything I set out to. They all seemed to have that same carefree confidence. The ironic thing is I did achieve a lot of it. What I learned in the process was what changed everything for me. You can't unrealize something, not if you're looking for the truth anyways. If you aren't, then you can always rationalize and justify whatever you need to in order to do what you want. I couldn't. I've wrestled with "why?" for a very long time. In the last six months, I've definitely shed the heavy burden that I've always carried which kept me taking life and myself way too seriously all these years, one direct result being starting this blog. This is, also, progress, but I still have the burden of this lifestyle which I've openly admitted in random conversations with friends in recent years that I very much want to be over. My friend in NY simply calls it "the social experiment". On one hand, it's exciting and I kinda love it for so many reasons....living according to my beliefs in such a committed way, but on the other hand, it is extremely taxing and impractical at times relying tremendously on mental discipline and the fact that I've never needed any type of physical care....until recently. Had I not been so healthy all these years, I never would have been able to last this long and after a week or so of rest I fully intend to get right back to it with maybe even more appreciation and enthusiasm.
Tomorrow, I'll check in with my temp boss who, of course, never called, today, and offer to bring the box truck back to the truck rental place so he doesn't have to pay for another week if the crew isn't coming back down. I haven't heard from them either. It's a little ridiculous that I'm even offering. It's not my responsibility. I'm not even an actual employee, but I still know the situation which is that they're all up in San Fran and I'm down here so it's seems dumb to let it just sit there not being used, but having to be payed for. Whatever. I'll pick up the materials at home depot to fix the door for those new kinda friends I made. If I'm feeling physically better tomorrow, after those errands I may do laundry then change the tire on the trailer, load the motorcycle and head out of town for a few days. I'd love to head out to the country, but finding a place to park where I won't be bothered is always the issue unless I wanted to pay for a campsite somewhere. I don't know many farms in this area and the only one I do know where I could go visit kinda has a lot of drama. Maybe I'll just head up the 1 and park along the ocean. That's always nice. Maybe I could find some creeks to through the kayak in. We'll see. I've got a bunch of stuff to do before needing to decide.
March 15, 2016, Morro Bay, California
Carefree confidence. I think that's why a lot of older people envy young people, but I don't think it's really youth that they're envious of. I bet a lot the girls who I met at the physical therapy clinic, yesterday, wouldn't describe themselves as carefree and confident even though I did feel a bit overwhelmed going from such an isolated lonely life to being in the temporary care of so many of them. I certainly wouldn't have described myself in the same way, even though I was, when I was fresh out of school still pursuing my career of choice. So, what is the quality that we're talking about? Time.
Lately, I've been reflecting on the last time I was living in these parts. My big dog was still alive, I had a cool 4x4 jeep that rarely had the top on, or the doors, I was living off the grid in a little one room.....cabin, I'd guess you'd call it, on 80 acres that I had all to myself which was bordered by a state park on one side and a creek that would carry me and my buddy out to the ocean at high tide on the other. What more could a free spirit ask for? But, I wasn't happy. I even had a really pretty girlfriend for a couple of months who had a cool dog, too. We'd cruise around town with them in the back of the jeep looking like we were on top of the world. Even smuggled them into the local drive-in one night. Now, really, what more could I have asked for? But, we weren't happy. I won't bore you with the details of why it didn't work out, but the point is looking back on it, now, it's so easy to see that I, we, had it all, but couldn't appreciate it or maintain it the way we should have. I think we can all do this looking back at different times in our own lives. I could do it ten years from, now, about how my life is, right now.
I don't mean time in relation to age. That's what we're all chasing. I mean time relative to right now! Forget about age. How can years matter when we're talking about this very second. I'll never have to worry about the future which I've been guilty of my whole life if I can just learn how to be truly here, now. I won't have to worry about anything if I can do this. I've used lots of excuses like money, maintaining vehicles, lack of a close family, the weather, etc. in order to justify being stressed out, worried and lonely, but that's because I was hanging on to things like people, places and ideas, constantly dragging them with me and trying to carry them through every situation I was in. I thought letting go of them was quitting or giving up on them. So what's changed? I have to remember to not be too hard on myself about all this because traveling around the way I have and not feeling like I belong a lot of the time is a tough way to live sometimes, but being this free on a good day is one of the most exhilarating feelings in the world. It's very important to remind myself that moving from place to place starting over, again and again, yes, has allowed me to experience things that a lot of people haven't, but it's, also, prevented me from experiencing certain things that others have, too. There's some very simple, but necessary components to our lives that need to be in place for us in order to even attempt at being fully present that I have rarely had. Like it or not, in this day and age, we all need enough money to take care of ourselves. Don't get me started on what an unnatural reality money is, but being worried that I don't have enough money to buy food or pay my basic bills with is an extremely stressful way to live. Anyone who says it isn't has either never known what it's like to be truly own their own or simply isn't being honest. I've always focused on the basics, food, water and shelter keeping my life very simple, but food doesn't mean a few apples in my basket, water doesn't mean a jug of spring water in my cooler and shelter doesn't mean a tent stuffed in my back-pack. Actually having these things, means I have the means to provide them consistently. You can't have any of these things in this world without money and you can't have money if you don't have a job. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but it's crucial for me to remind myself because I've had 8 jobs last year in 8 different places. Kinda hard to be present if you don't know for sure where your next paycheck is coming from. Imagine how it would feel to have my basic needs met of food, water and shelter if I did. Right now, I do. I'm living in paradise. Sometimes, it's so beautiful here it hurts. Like, today. It's been a little rainy and cool lately, but today was so beautiful. My back's getting better, I'm writing about today so I don't have to carry it with me tomorrow, I have a job, two running vehicles (even though they both need work), a place to eat, sleep and shower. What more do I need? ....that the present can't provide.
Didn't get a bit of sleep last night. My leg is feeling better overall, but the pain has become constant enough in any position that I wasn't able to fall asleep. Texted my temporary boss and he called me immediately. He thanked me for the offer, but not to worry about it. They rented the truck by the month so there was no need to return it and that the guys weren't coming down this week so I picked a good week to take off. I can work next week if I want. Guess it worked out. Had I not gotten injured he probably would've had me do a little pole work with one of the bucket trucks, but I'm not going to push it. My body's more important than any job no matter how much I'd be making. I know that I didn't need to text him and offer to help, but that's my choice. I wasn't kissing ass or trying to score points in the hopes of working for a big company. The day I say to myself "Who cares? It's not my problem," is the day I give up a little inside and that's something I will never do. That is the beginning of the end for anyone's spirit. It's exactly why I live the way I do. I'm not exactly sure why I feel the need to, but it is why I do it. I grew up in a time when I was told at a very early age that we as a species are single-handedly ruining the Earth and I guess some where along the way of becoming an adult I was supposed to be ok with this. I wasn't and I'm still not. I refused to rationalize or justify it and here's why. It's not because of some idealistic moral principle even though I tried to hold myself to such values my whole adult life which at times has pretty much single-handedly made me miserable and miserable for others to be around. It's for a very different reason. It's because weak people give up and strong people don't.
March 16, 2016, Morro Bay, California
Holy shhhhhhh....ugar plums. What an awesome day. Let's see, didn't get a wink of sleep....again, but did my leg/back exercises this morning which hopefully are helping, had to scrap fixing that door for those ladies because they forgot to leave me the key. Luckly, they texted me before I bought all the materials that I was going to need and headed down to Pismo which meant that I didn't need to take my truck to do errands. Instead, I took my old beast of a bike to save gas and enjoy the sunshine. Getcha motor runnin. It was like 80 today. So nice. Went for a hike. Nothing major just a short one on a trail off South Bay Blvd. Don't want to over do it. Headed back to the trailer, cleaned out and organized the truck, did my monthly composting, went by the Humane Society and inquired about fostering and volunteering. I want to volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club, too, but the closest one is in AG which is kind of a drive from here. Once I get new tires for my truck maybe I'll start. I'm not completely in the clear financially yet. I've done a lot of volunteering in the past in other parts of the country as well as being a Big Brother for over ten years, but, for now, I'll stick to dogs. The animal shelter is right down the road from MB. Turns out there's two places that I can help out. The Human Society and SLO County Animal Services which is right next door.
I haven't ever really been in a long term relationship romantically speaking, kinda cause I move around so much, but I've pretty much always had a dog. Gotta love something when you have so much to give, but I know how much of a big responsibility they are so I'm going to wait until I have my own big piece of property before I get my next bff. Sooo, I figured that I could maybe foster dogs temporarily to get my dog fix. This Humane society doesn't actually do that sort of thing, but Animal Services does. The H.S. is a non-profit which has nice facilities and looks like they have plenty of volunteers where as A.S. is run by the county meaning they have less of a budget and if they get filled up the animals are in jeopardy of being euthanized which is when a foster home would be vital. Only problem is they do a home visit before approving someone to be a dog foster parent. There goes that idea. Guess I'll just be a volunteer. There's a good chance once they get to know me and see how responsible I am, they'll ask me to foster a dog if the need arises. I've worked with animals a lot; dogs, horses, livestock, even lions, tigers and bears. Seriously, I used to work at zoo. One time, my dog and I had a baby porcupine living with us. I bottle fed him for two weeks until he was old enough to live at the zoo full time. You have to have a pretty well-behaved, well-trained dog to have a porcupine for a room-mate. I only caged him a night so they had to share the cabin together. It was funny to see them checking each other out on the living room rug neither all that crazy about the other, but they still got along.
Went to the open door Wed. night meeting in Osos this evening. Figured I needed some social contact. Haven't had a live in-person conversation with another human being in like.....that's messed up. I can't even remember. Does work count? Last Thursday night I worked with the guys for like 45min. We kinda talked, in Spanish, while we worked. It would help if I spoke Spanish. Before that, it was like a week and a half ago that I went to that b-day bump party. Whatever, I went to the meeting. Guess it would help if I ever had a drinking problem. Well, not really. That's a stupid thing to wish for. I did see a buddy I knew from when I used to live here outside the church where the meeting is held. He was walking his dog that he just adopted, coincidentally. He said, "It's so funny" when I walked up to them "I've had her 4 months and she's still so timid. She won't go near anyone if they approach us. She'll jump back and hide behind my legs, but she walks right up to you and starts licking you like it's no big deal." One free spirit knows another. I always say. Cruised back on the bike along the bay under the stars.
I've got to move the trailer, tomorrow. I'm really pushing my luck.
Earlier in the day:
I have to be careful not to get lost in theory. Theory is just thought and getting lost in our thoughts is the foremost problem in our society today. The carefree confidence that I was referring to has got less to do with age and more to do with being present, but these issues get mixed together because when we are young we typically have more friends and family in our lives, we have the structure and stability of a school to belong to, we feel more loved by people we know and by society as a whole and all these things can if we let them help us be more present. None of this has anything to do with being young and everything to do with how our culture puts more pressure on us as individuals as we grow older while at the same time separating us from one another forcing many of us to chose a mate not only out of love and the desire to have a family, but largely out of fear of being alone. This is a contrived circumstance and completely unnatural regardless of how "normal' it seems. How could anyone feel alone?! There are more people on the planet, now, than there ever has been in the history of humankind. No one should ever feel alone. So why do we? Why do I? Because we have been separated by external and internal factors and they are all lies.
When you stop and get gas later, look at the price on the pump, $2.59. If you look even closer it will often include another decimal point reading $2.599. Then go by something at any store and you'll see more 9's at the end of the price of any item. This is just one example of the external factors that I'm talking about. We need to stop lying to each other. These prices aren't intended to trick us into thinking something is cheaper than it really is. They're intended to trick our minds. We know that something marked $1.99 really costs 2 dollars. Actually, it costs more including tax so why do we/they price it the way they do? This is one of the internal/external factors that I'm referring to. 90% of our culture keep us in our minds and out of the present moment. Our world serves our mind not our spirits. Don't even get me started on trust and what sales and marketing do to it. We need to stop lying to one another in this acceptable way. We have become possessed as a culture by our own thoughts and our spirits are being dragged along for the ride constantly trying to grab hold of something real, but rarely finding it. My mind doesn't care how I feel. My mind doesn't feel anything. It is a machine and it lives in a machine made by other minds. My spirit, my heart, is what feels. Our mind is our comfort zone and once the ruts of thought are deep keeping us entrenched it is very uncomfortable to get out of them...and scary which either can manifest as fear or anger. The natural world is the comfort zone for our spirits, yet how many of us know how to live in it?
Well, there's a lot more theory to think about, but the examples of how our world keeps us in our heads are everywhere. It's all so obvious to me along with so many other things that keep us disconnected from our spirits and from one another because I've had a lot more practice and time to see it for it what it is. Our minds are creatures of habit and often don't like to change. If you've ever lost someone close to you, you know that you can go on for days sometimes months thinking about them as if they're still alive even though you've already experienced the emotional loss of having them pass away. Your mind takes time. It's not about understanding. We all can understand something instantly. Internalizing it takes time, but this only happens if our spirits are leading us to want to.
Still not a lot of sleep because of the pain, but feeling better physically and able to move around more; did laundry, heading down to fix a door for the ladies I met a couple weeks ago. They left me a key at their condo so I'll do it while they're at work. Maybe I'll head out of town after that.
March 17, 2016, Los Osos, California
Another beautiful day. Tried to enjoy every moment as if time didn't exist. Didn't quite succeed for the entire day, but came closer than I have in a very long time. I was reminded of days I'd wake up in the woods somewhere in the US, pack up camp, throw my pack over my shoulder, step out onto some country road and start walking with no place to be, but where I was. I had a lot to learn back then and my carefree confidence needed some hard earned patience and appreciation to make it last. Did a few errands on the bike. Couldn't help, but take the scenic route and cruised out to the rock. Realized I hadn't been out to it since I've been back. Remembered how I'd pass by it everyday on the 62 foot steel fishing boat that I used to work on my four-legged buddy's neck excitedly stretching over the rail at the seals, sea otters and dolphins that would ride the wake of the bow as we headed out to sea. Got stuff done, filled my 5 gallon water jug at the self-serve machine out front of albertson's, changed the tire on the trailer, even made a chunky salad rather than devouring whatever food was in front of me. I kinda forget to eat a lot until hours go by and I finally remember. I try to eat healthy aside from trader joe's dark chocalte covered raisins. Those are my one vice. Although toasted buttered bagels cooked on a wood stove are a close second, but I haven't had them since last fall when I was in a colder climate and actually needed to use the woodstove so it's been plain untoasted bagels since then, but tomorrow is pay day and I think my big purchase this week is going to be a cast iron skillet which I could use to toast bagels. There's a technique to it...and maybe even fry eggs which I haven't had much of since leaving the free range chicken farm I worked at 2 years ago. I'm sorry even though I've worked on a lot of organic farms, lettuce is lame. It's so not worth the effort to go to all the trouble of picking it, cleaning it and making a salad that could never fill you up. Chunky salads, one the other hand, rock. Cucumber, bell pepper, apple, avocado and cheese -of course. That's a meal. The trick is to get at least 3 of the ingredients in every stab. Left the bike amidst a lot of cars parked along the road near an auto repair shop and locked the wheels. Doubt anyone would bother messing with it, but locking it up helps me not worry about it. I wasn't going far just up the coast for the night so I didn't see the point in bringing it only to have to unload it when I got there. Changing the tire was fun. My back felt good lifting my 3 ton floor jack, but I'd parked so close to the chain-link fence that runs along the road that I could barely swing the handle to jack up the trailer. This was the main reason I'd waited so long to do it. It was hard enough doing it with a healthy body. It would have been very cumbersome doing it in the shape I was in last week, but inch by inch, I got it jacked up, put on the new tire and rolled out of town.
I was sitting there in the meeting last night and for the first time didn't care if anyone found out that I wasn't an alcoholic. It's not like I've been secretive about this fact or tried to hide it, but it's just always lingered in the back of my mind reminding me that I didn't belong there. Over the years in all my travels, I've tried almost every religion and denomination, but the main reason I even go to those meetings is because it's a room full of people who are all trying to improve their lives and they've been through so much that they've learned a degree of humility that most people who are still living according to their egos will never learn. Last night, I felt so good that I didn't care. Didn't meet any new people or make any new friends, but I sat there observing the consistent occurrence in my own life that when I'm doing good and don't need anyone it makes it easier to meet people and be open (I did bump into one of the young guys at the meeting a few minutes later at the grocery store and we introduced ourselves and shot the sh*t for a few. Turned out we both went to the same mma gym when I used to live here) where as when I'm not doing great I isolate and no one wants to come near me with a ten foot pole. Ask any guy what happens to him the minute he gets a girlfriend. Women start coming out of the woodwork to hit on him. It's an energy thing.
I've been saying since my first cross-country road trip decades ago that it all comes down to energy. I've, also, been saying when people say "How could God let this happen?!" referring to some tragedy or, for instance, WWII and the Jewish holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, the slaughtering of Native Americans during U.S. colonization, the list goes on, that God didn't allow it.. We did. We let these things happen. Why? Because we're all too busy covering are own asses. If you feel like you can't afford to risk what you have to help another person, you're not doing all that great despite what it may appear on the outside because it's not about what's on the outside. It's about the energy you have on the inside, i.e. happiness. Happy people don't hurt one another. Happy people don't let others get hurt. Happy people don't ruin the planet. Happy people don't do things that they know will hurt themselves. If I, you, we are not happy we think that we can't afford to help each other. This is a lie. The truth is the only thing we need is each other. We just learn how to connect and communicate which means getting out of our heads.
When I'm sitting there in a room full of people and I need nothing from them even if I walk out of there having received nothing from them, but still feel good, it's because my life, at that present moment, is supplying me with the formula that allows me to be happy. It's the worst feeling in the world when I'm not doing good and I walk away from a person or group of people that I could not reach out to and who could not reach out to me because neither one of us felt like we could afford to. The worst. I suppose fear and old behavior patterns are the culprit which is why when I'm doing good I need to focus on trying to establish new ones and not just try to get stuff done with my old reliable work ethic doing projects that are waiting to be done. Last night, I lingered, helped put away chairs and took my time leaving which is not common behavior for me (well, I usually help put away chairs, but with a giant chip on my shoulder). I was allowing myself to be present. I think when we can't be present, we're actually giving off the vibe i.e. energy, that we want to suck people into the reality that exists in our heads because that's where we're trapped....and obviously it's not a happy one because look how it's making us feel so people are not going to risk approaching us. Who would want to go near us then? No one, if they can't afford to....and I don't mean financially.
Celebrated the sunset parked along a quite stretch of the PCH. Turned the truck and trailer so that the full length glass door I installed faced west so I could sit inside, but still watch the sun go down. Wish I had my guitar, but some low-life stole it when I was running a big harvester for a blueberry company this summer up by the Canadian border. It was a sketchy outfit to work for. The blueberry season isn't very long so you've got to harvest them as fast as you can when they're ripe. The harvesters ran 24hrs a day. I did 12hr shifts, 7 days a week for with no lunch breaks for 5 weeks in a remote area where there were no towns, cell reception or people except the guys I worked with who I didn't know. A lot of them were popping pills to stay awake. It was definitely not my scene. I have a lot of farming experience and that wasn't farming and they weren't farmers. Just hired guns running monster tractors for money. I let one of them borrow my guitar because we were all losing our minds up there and I felt bad for him. Never saw it, again. I'll get another one as soon as I can save up a little. It'll just make me appreciate having one that much more.
I wanted to have a little fire in the wood stove, tonight, but there was a sign that said "No Overnight Camping." I probably could have rolled the dice and chances are no one would have bothered me. There wasn't much of anything in both directions for miles, but I wanted to relax and the possibility of a cop knocking on my door in the middle of the night isn't very relaxing so I drove in to the nearest town and parked on the street where my truck and trailer would blend in. It looks like a new contractor trailer on the outside so it's very inconspicuous on any public street which is the very reason I bought it and not a camper, plus I like customizing my own stuff and utilizing the space the way I want hence having room for a motorcycle, kayak, bicycle, surfboard, wood stove, etc. on the inside...as well as all my tools. If I was in true travel mode I probably would have just parked there or driven until there were no signs, but I'm heading into SLO tomorrow so that'd be a waste of gas. I'll probably head back to the same spot tomorrow morning to take a shower and start my day. I didn't want to leave. Parked by the ocean surrounded by all that nature is so nice it almost hurts.
Darn it, I just realized typing in the date that today is St.Patty's Day. I was born in Boston and my whole family's Irish. Shoot! That's what I get for spending too much time by myself. I did remember to wear a green t-shirt rolling around on my motorcylce, today...with orange shorts and flip-flops, but then I forgot after driving out of town. Hmmm, it's 11:30. The night's not over, yet.
March 20, 2016, Cayucus, California
It was quite a weekend. I felt guilty for not writing Friday and Saturday. I wonder if loyalty is a biological trait or a circumstantial one adopted as an attempt to compensate for not having a tribe, family or group to belong to hoping that demonstrating consistent dependability might reveal the same trait in others who, also, subscribe to it. Blah, blah. It's probably a biological tendency. Look at wolves, lions, gorillas, etc. All social animals that are loyal to their group, but because we THINK that we are more evolved our tendencies have become a choice rather than an instinct. That's a whole other conversation. For whatever the reason, I felt a little bad for not writing everyday like I've been trying to. Having to take it easy lately because of my injury aside, the notion that I should be living life not spending so much time writing about it was what tipped the scales in my decision to postpone it until I had the time, or made the time. Regardless of the loyalty issue, writing has definitely been helping me so if something's helping me I should continue doing it....but, maybe not beat myself up if I can't do it everyday.
I guess I should explain why it would even be useful to write the way I have been this year (or for the last 20 on my previous blog. Sounds like a big number, 20, when I say it like that, but time in one way has seemed to have stood still). Let's say that I grew up in a quiet suburban neighborhood where every house on the street had a nice green lawn out front. They weren't trophy homes. They were middle-class back when life was a little simpler. The best way for me to compare my perspective on life between then and now is to imagine that just for fun I had tied a rope about 6 inches off the ground between two trees that stood on opposite sides of our front lawn. It was tight enough that I could walk across it so being an adventurous kid that's what I tried to do. Like I said, it was fun to try and walk across the yard on the rope doing my best to keep my balance without having to step down onto the grass to catch myself. Now, imagine a person trying to do it over the Grand Canyon. The same exact activity suddenly becomes a lot more stressful.
I guess my point is two people standing in line at the grocery store can be living two very different lives, one in the bosom of family and security and the other hanging on for dear life. I've lived both. Maybe a lot of us have. Part of the power in juxtaposing these two people's lives is that neither knows the other one's story which for the one living amongst the safety of the life they were lucky enough to have been born into, is rather inconsequential, but for the other it means everything. There's a lot of good hard working people in this country carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders everyday without a single complaint. Maybe they're loyal to what they believe, too. No one knowing their story and the circumstances of their life can make living it more than consequential. It can make it empty. Fighting a lonely battle that no one will ever know whether you win or lose makes fighting it all the more harder. Fighting a battle where the world knows what's a stake, at least, for you and maybe for all of us, and just might even be routing for you is a battle that every soldier wants to fight. Same battle, different circumstances. Guess that's why I write, to feel less alone. Whether biological or from past experiences I have the naive belief that if I try to tell the truth about my life, one life, there will be something universal about it that is true in the lives of others....and when that's all you have you tend to be loyal to it.
Salvaged St. Patty's Day by walking a block down the street and grabbed a shot of Irish whiskey and a Guinness at the saloon assuring the bartender who didn't seem all that psyched to be there that I wouldn't stay long. The place was empty except for two gentleman sitting at the bar swapping stories about life, love and the meaning of it all. The bartender and I talked for a few minutes and I was gone before midnight. I used to get a call every year late at night from my cousins which made it even later back in Southie, but that doesn't happen anymore. I miss them, but hey, no one's stopping me from calling them. I'm not giving up and I will, again, someday. We never got to see each other growing up, but reconnected as young adults already on our individual paths. I hope someday our lives will do more than just cross once in a while at weddings and funerals.
I pulled up to the hotel with a sigh of relief mixed with laughter. I was very careful on the short drive constantly checking my rearview mirror for any signs of other vehicles following us. Everyone cheered when we got there and I conceded to get out first and "snapchat" (I think that's what the girl sitting up front on my center console called it) everyone with her phone as they spilled out of my suv. I have no idea how ten people crammed themselves into it. My only comfort from the possibility of getting pulled over was that I was completely sober unlike anyone else. I'm glad everyone had fun and that I was able to get them all safely back to their rooms. I'd offered to make two trips seeing as the hotel wasn't much more than a mile from the bar, but they kept piling in and it was too funny to make them stop. 10 people is kind of a lot for one vehicle, but what was even more impressive was that I still had a lot of my tools with me taking up all of the back row of seating. It was crazy.
It all started when I walked into the saloon the previous night. I was by myself, but for some reason when I go out, now, more than ever I seem to be giving off a vibe that makes me more approachable to "people". I've never been much of a ladies man. Being a player just goes against my nature and the kind of person I want to be, but I think as a result of shedding a lot of the shame of living and growing up alone realizing that it has got nothing to do with me has allowed my affinity for people and the fact that I don't need anything from anyone is making it easier to meet them. I think that's a really complicated way of saying that I'm getting better at being present ...thoughts and insecurities being what pull us into our heads and out of the moment. In the past, I've stood out when I'd walk into a small local bar with a big back-pack on. It somehow gave me license to not blame myself for not knowing anyone because I wasn't from there. It's a lot harder when you do live in the area, but still don't know anyone though an argument could be made for not having lived here long. Regardless (I say that a lot), a smile from a pretty girl and the next thing I know I'm on the dance floor. Her and her friends were in town for a wedding. A few more dollars in the jukebox not to mention a couple rounds of birthday shots for some of the ladies and more of them were dancing. The one who was the friendliest to me gave me her number before their cab arrived to bring them back to Morro Bay where I'd be headed in the morning. Like so many times in my life, I could feel every buddy I've ever had silently screaming in my ear because I wasn't trying to "close the deal" with her when it seemed obvious that she was giving me all the signals to do so, but as it always comes as a shock to the young lady I've just met that it's not what I'm looking for. Having fun and meeting new people is more important. The right lady will find me or I'll find her when the time is right. Might not happen in a bar. She was really cool and I was psyched that I got to meet her, a country girl from Fresno who had a small farm with goats, horses, chickens, etc, but that doesn't mean I'm going to try to turn it into anything else.
I got a bunch of stuff done on Sat. I'd just gotten home (meaning: back to where the trailer was parked on the motorcycle) and was all excited about my new cast iron pan and a shelf I'd found at a thrift store that would fit perfectly over my coat rack when I got a text from my new country girl friend that they were out at a local bar in MB and she was having trouble getting a cab back to the hotel so she could change out of her dress and back into jeans and cowgirl boots. Of course, I offered to come get her. Seeing as she was still in wedding clothes, the motorcycle wasn't an option so I unhooked from the trailer and picked her up...and a few of her friends. We found another bar with a live band and I couldn't have been happier dancing by myself among the handful of others on the dance floor while most of them talked, drank and did shots at the bar.
It's all over now and I'm back to my world of solitude and I've had three toasted bagels in the last 24hrs, but I bumped into an older gentleman doing errands yesterday who I did some work for when I first got to town. He owns a lot of property in the area and I'm going to ask him if he'd be interested in having me care-take on some of it. Apparently, he has quite the ground squirrel problem. I don't have my big ol'side-kick anymore who was an expert at rodent control, but I did go by the shelter this week so maybe I will be able to have a place to foster a dog temporarily until I go to Utah after all. Some company would be nice.
Happy first day of spring.
March 21, 2016, Morro Bay, California
Back to work this week. They left me a bunch of stuff piled in the bucket trucks to unload, pallets, giant crates and a pallet jack. It took two guys to load them onto the trucks, but I was left to get it unloaded by myself which normally I like that kind of challenge, but I probably shouldn't have been doing that kind of lifting, yet. They didn't give me the keys so I couldn't move the trucks so I could back up to them and make it a lot easier which, also, meant I couldn't move the bucket booms out of the way to get at the stuff which were piled underneath them. Of course, I still managed to get it all done, but my back didn't like it when I picked up the pallet jack and lifted it up over the utility boxes that wall the bed of the trucks.
Of course, the subject came up, again, of me running one of extra bucket trucks because only two of the guys came down this week. Both the crew leader and my temp boss mentioned it. I've never once brought it up, but it's been mentioned so many times by them that at this point I barely bother with thinking about it. Yes, the idea of making $50+/hr is tempting, but why is it so much? What they do is not any harder than jobs I've made a fraction of that doing. I try not to think how arbitrary high paying salaries are when people who do real work don't make anything. It's just a sick game. It would only make me mad. The notion "if you can't beat them, join them" is not a solution. It just perpetuates the problem. I'm more organized, efficient and professional than 99% of the employers I've had. If being organized, efficient and professional doesn't make a difference then there's something wrong with the situation. I know what it is, but whining about it isn't productive. I'll deal with it a different way when I get to it. Right now, I need to let my body heal and though the promotion would be a lot less physically demanding I know it's probably not worth it to them to go through the trouble of having me released from the temp agency, put me on the books of their company, pay me more than twice what I'm making if they're don't know how long they're going to be down here. I told myself if my back doesn't feel considerably better by the end of this week then I'm going to tell them that it's time for us to part ways. I'll sell the trailer pay off all my bills and probably hit the road probably to Utah. They've all been super nice to my face, but I know when I'm being played. There were moments during the past few days when I thought my back was getting better and I can't tell you how good that felt, but I still haven't been able to sleep through the night without tossing and turning endlessly from the pain so that's more important than anything else.
I've been writing a lot about my day to day experiences and this is healthy for me to do when I don't have an actual person to talk to, but without a "why?" it may seem like I'm just passing time so here's the deal. In my early adulthood fresh out of college as I was gathering experiences and developing my own personal value system like we all do when we enter the "real" world. Don't get me started on the fact that we have no concise, unified, value system as a people, tribe or nation. We are all like little kings and queens ruling our own personal kingdoms with too much resources that the rest of the world either envies or resents. We live on an island. It's a big one, but it keeps us sheltered and easily manipulated. My early value system was a very moral one, a combination of story book lessons, hard working, but emotionally unavailable parents and my trust in the natural world. As it evolved, I composed a life that drew from the real education that I was, now, beginning compared to the theoretical one I'd just completed. I pursed more experiences to apply it to with each road trip I took. As it took shape, I vowed never to commute, but always live within walking distance to where I worked (or ride a bicycle). Never give my employer more than 3 days/wk of my life. Giving anyone 5 out of 7 days of my life to do with how they saw fit was unacceptable to me. It was my life, not theirs. If working for the system made the world a better place I'd give 7days/wk, but even a child can see that it doesn't so I would not. I never had health insurance and had to make many other sacrifices, but it was worth it. My time and freedom was more valuable to me than money and I had no desire to sit indoors and make money. I wanted to earn my living how mother nature intended. I played a lot of sports growing up, but it became absurd to me to stand in front of a mirror for hours at a gym lifting weights. I thought about how many rock walls I could build, how many bales of hay I could load, how many lobster traps I could haul so I vowed to get my work-out through doing real work. To combat shame and guilt of my unorthodox work schedule, I'd work harder than anyone when I was at work and grew to love working hard not to mention the strong body it gave me partly inspired by the knowledge that I'd have the next day off to take care of my personal affairs, work on my own projects and take time to just live instead of having to cram all the things that a person needs to do to take care of themselves in the evenings after work or on the weekends.
One of the main reasons I set out to walk across the US, the first time, was to prove that I was not lazy and willing to go to any length to live a life with purpose and to find answers to questions that no adult seemed to allow me to ask let alone answer. Walking an average of 20 miles/day with a pack that averaged 55lbs on my back, sleeping in the woods every night, I became even more disciplined. By my third walk, I was averaging over 30 miles/day having made the switch to a pack of my own design that I could either roll or carry depending on the terrain. One of the biggest things that bothered me was when I'd look at the ground around me and not know exactly what I was looking at in terms of plant identification, rocks and minerals, even types of trees so I began to learn about these things, but with no practical reason for this knowledge living the average American life where everything comes from the grocery store, pharmacy or lumber yard, I began to focus more attention on farming and living off the grid. This education layed the ground work for the next chapter of my journey.
March 23, 2016, Morro Bay, California
Sometimes I ask myself "What the heck am I doing?" It doesn't happen often because I know what I'm doing and didn't arrive here on a whim, but nevertheless it does happen. Still haven't gotten a good night sleep. I talked to a buddy in NYC yesterday who got a little pissed at me because I hadn't tried taking some type of sleep aid like he told me last week so I picked up some aleve pm on my way home from work and took some before bed last night. It got me through half the night which is better than nothing, but I woke way too early feeling awful. Wahhh. I said "That's that," and told my temp boss that I was going to take the rest of the week off. That job really isn't that hard compared to the type of work I usually like, but I guess it is pretty physical. My back doesn't hurt anymore during the day, but the nights are pretty bad which is telling me that it's not going to heal until I give it some more time with less activity. The physical therapist that I went to see last week described it well. He said tearing a disk is like getting a cut on your knuckle and every time you bend your finger it reopens. That's what I'm doing to my back by still working everyday twisting, turning and bending. It doesn't hurt that much, but it's never going to heal unless I stop. I hated to tell my boss. I need the money, but I felt better that I did.
If I'm going to survival school in a month, I need to be healthy. Unloaded the truck and called it a day. After work, I stopped by the condo of the ladies whose door I said I'd fix. They left me a key. One of them adopted a new dog from the shelter and she chewed up the door molding and frame on one side. It's not bad, but it's a really nice new condo so it needs to be repaired right. I was able to start the project and replace the parts I could, but I'll have to pick up some bondo (a type of epoxy filler) to finish it. I'm supposed to go for a hike with the school teacher, tomorrow, on some trails near Pismo so I'll finish their door and then meet her. None of them know how I live. They're automatic garage door wasn't working either so I fixed that, too. It's always a trip being in a nice home when I'm living the way I live. One of the girls texted me that she wasn't going to be home til late because her company was hosting a happy hour at some local restaurant then they had a company softball game. "What the heck am I going?" My parents were yuppies. I was groomed to be one. What the heck am I putting myself through all this for?! Company happy hours, softball games, nice condos. Why did I leave that world? I'm intelligent, hard working, educated. Why don't I just go get a "good job". There's plenty of fields I could work in with all my experiences and start living better and taking care of myself? Truth is I don't have a choice.
I can't let temporary circumstances feel like a permanent existence. I've come a long way and I feel like I'm close to another level of life. I just need to hang in there. Called the older gentleman who I bumped into the other day about renting some land from him and he said we could take a ride out to one of their parcels this week. He and his wife own 5 waterfront homes and hundreds and hundreds of acres in the area. I think they inherited a lot of money and bought real estate with it. He hasn't called me back. I was hesitant to even ask. I thought about it months ago when I was doing lots of work for them, but the timing never seemed right. I have a feeling his wife vetoed the idea. I'll call him tomorrow and let him off the hook. I don't want to get into any uncomfortable situations.
March 24, 2016, San Luis Obispo, California
I can't be absolutely sure, but I can try to explain it theoretically and then see if it feels right. That's pretty much how I make all my decisions by trusting my instincts. I try something on mentally, consider following through with that particular path and see how it feels. If it doesn't feel right I don't do it. If it does even if it scares me I do it. Especially if it scares me I do it. There's a subtle difference between being afraid to do something and feeling like I shouldn't do something because it doesn't feel right, but that difference is huge. If you don't know yourself and your own feelings well enough you may never know this difference always afraid to do either. Facing our fears liberates us and makes us happier because the world becomes a less scary place to live in having eliminated a fear that we perceived to exist in it. On the other hand, ignoring our instincts when they tell us that we shouldn't do something cuts us off from a relationship with our own spirit, our hearts, and then the world becomes an even scarier place.
When I say I don't have a choice it's because my loyalty and obedience to this relationship is practically automatic. I still have free will and it's still my choice to follow my spirit, instincts and heart, but jeopardizing my relationship with this part of myself, the less rational, less linear, less machine-like, is unthinkable. I love it too much. It makes me too happy. I trust it too much. It has protected me too many times. It is all I have to connect to. Without it, I would be lost too only think my way through life maybe even scheming and plotting to get what I want and this way of living is not an option to me. It puts a wall up between me and the rest of the world. My life is already lonely enough not because I don't love people and not because I don't want to be connected and close to people, but because I haven't been able to find enough who want to be as committed to this relationship as I try to be or feel like they're in a position where they even can. It seems like a lot of people relate to how I'm living when they finally do learn about it, but because of decisions they've already made cannot pursue such a life themselves and those who haven't made such decisions are too busy thinking they already know what they want to consider anything else....until they, too, realize they were wrong after the fact.
I know that I need to learn to compromise, too, and I do. I drive a car, well a truck when I need to and a motorcycle when I don't. I'm typing on a computer, right now. I'm presently not working on a farm so I buy my food at the grocery store. I do lots of unnatural things that I've temporarily accepted as necessary in the times that we live in, but I've, also, tasted life with nothing, but the natural world to provide me with what I need and the comparison isn't even close. It's not even a choice. It's a peacefulness that connects me to everything. The only downside to trying to get back to this is the loneliness. Honestly, when I'm off in the woods I really don't feel alone. How could I? Everything's connected. It is an extension of me and I'm a product of it. It's all one living world. There's certainly plenty of people who believe this and love spending time hiking, camping or just going for a walk. I'm just like a dorky little squirrel on a limb above your head saying "Don't leave! Stay here with me." But, I'm not. I'm sitting here typing trapped in this world on the fringe obeying the part of me compelled to keep trying like a salmon swimming back up the river where it was spawned with every once of strength left in its body. A beaver doesn't wake up and decide to build a lodge. It's compelled to. It obeys its instincts. Could it build one if it lived in a zoo? No. I've always wanted to get married (or find a life partner) and have children. I still do, but not unless I can give them a world that provides them with everything, or at least almost everything, they need. Most people think making a lot of money is the way to do this. So did I when I was younger still in the plotting and planning phase of my life. That's when I thought I had a choice. Now, I see what money really does to us.
Almost 8 hours of sleep. First time in a long time. That stuff really puts a person out. My back and leg still hurt, but hopefully being less active for a few days will make the difference. There's still plenty I can get done while letting it heal.
March 25, 2016, San Luis Obispo, California
Last night: It's not that I need to change the world in order to live in it. It's arrogant to even hypothesize that one even could. I just want to be able to live in it while still being myself and this is what I need to focus on. Loaded the motorcycle with all the tools I needed and rode down to Pismo to fix the door. It's a pretty rough old bike, a Goldwing. I bought it for $1,200 two summers ago with the intention of stripping it down to make a cool old cruiser out of it, but all the storage on it has come in handy too many times to justify getting rid of it all. I can get like 4 gallons of milk (not that I'd ever need to buy that much) in the luggage compartment alone and it's super comfortable for a passenger with all the compartments attached....if I ever have one. As I took Turri Road on my way down to 5 Cities, I still haven't got used to how beautiful it is here. The sunshine, rolling green hills, horses grazing in wide open meadows and then you hit the ocean. It's like a fairy-tale. As hard as things feel sometimes, I still feel so lucky to at least be trying to make it.
There was no key under the mat, again, so I guess I'll have to try, again, tomorrow. Met up with the school teacher and went for a hike along Ontario Ridge that overlooks the beach and Avila harbor. I don't like calling her that, but I'm certainly not going to use her name. I don't mind using my friends names who are spread all across the country, like NY Nate, because they know everything about me. Well, not everything. I don't think any of them know I write like this blog, but they could careless if they did. As we were walking, I observed how quiet I was being. I don't normally ramble on like I do here. Maybe it's because I've given myself this imaginary outlet that I don't feel the need to ramble on to people. I prefer to listen or, at least, have a give and take conversation. She was quiet at times, too. I think she was a little nervous. She brought her dog which I was psyched about. I miss having one around. I'm not sure how to handle it from here. She's really nice and pretty, but it felt like we ran out of stuff to talk about by the end of our hike which is totally fine. It's actually kind of cool to not feel the need to talk around someone, but it feels like she wants to hang out more and I'm not really feeling it. I was finding myself getting really bored as we hiked. I thought about telling her more about my lifestyle thinking that might break the ice, but I didn't, not because I'm trying to hide it. It just felt like I was trying too hard to find things to talk about. I know I need to socialize more so that's why agreed when she texted me and asked if I wanted to go, but I kind of felt bad for her. She's a pretty young woman with a decent career, her own house (she's got one roommate to help with the mortgage), a horse, a dog, she's outdoorsy. Why in the world is she alone? She shouldn't be. She didn't grow up around here. I think she's been here about 6yrs. Maybe I'm over analyzing it. I just don't want to hurt her feelings. She's probably fine. She's going to a bacherlorette party this weekend in Carmel. They rented a house. Next week, her sister is visiting from Nevada and they're going camping for 4 or 5 days. What the heck am I worried about? I should just tell her that I want to be friends and be her friend if she'll let me.
I went by the condo after our hike to see if I could get a little work done, but no one was home so I put on a few more layers knowing how cool it gets after the sun goes down which I can't complain about because I put my soy milk outside at night and to keep it nice and cool for my cereal in the morning and cruised home.
Today: Two days off is starting to wig me out. Went down to Pismo. Fixed their door. That felt good. Texted the school teacher to offer to fix her sprinkler system which she mentioned was broken because I forgot to offer, yesterday. Texted the ladies a pic of the finished door and one of them was out having a happy hour drink with a friend of hers, the hot one I danced with for a minute a few weeks ago, and invited me to join them. Had a beer with them. It was kind of awkward probably because I'm not feeling very grounded and I have a butt load of energy inside. They headed home and I went and grabbed a super burrito at tj's. Now, I'm just sitting here in my truck sinking fast. I need to make a plan. I hate money, but I know it's just a money thing....and a not having any friends around here thing. If I was a wolf, I'd be howling.
March 27, 2016, Cayucus, California
It's hard to believe what seems to keep happening. My mind is tempted to try and rationalize why. Maybe it's the recent firing of people owning real estate in my life who never occupied it. Maybe it's the culmination of the omega perspective I've gained in recent years having inherently viewed life from the eyes of an alpha for so long. I don't know and don't need to. It's out of my hands and not something that I can predict. If it continues it may re-instill my faith in the unknown with a more well-rounded spectrum of experiences thus allowing me to apply it more effectively. A final lesson? There's no such thing. A game-changing lesson? Definitely.
Friday night, refusing to fall deeper down the rabbit hole of unproductive thoughts I left SLO and drove out to the ocean to keep company with the moon and stars having made up my mind that I was going to do something though I wasn't sure what. Little did I know what or, rather, who was waiting for me in this man-made maze we call a world. My buddy in NY has adamantly told me for years that I should let get go of the possibility of finding my female counterpart not because a woman can't be as strong or intelligent as me, but because anyone who's lived like I have and been through what I've been through could never survive unscarred or unbroken. I think it's partly his fascination with me, the fact that a person who's seen what I've seen still often views the world with innocence. He's tried to convince me to be content with a number one fan than a woman similar to myself with the same amount of ability and potential, but hasn't been through the war of life, yet, warning how annoying this will be because they'll be no shortage of strong-willed opinions if she's anything like me, but without the life experience to back it up. We've all been this way and always will be. We only know what we know until we learn something knew. This is how we learn as long as learning takes precedence over our opinions. Surviving the lessons unscarred and unjaded is what separates the survivors from the casualties.
Happy to be by the sea in the peace and quiet, I considered a few ways to spend the evening and checked out a few places, but wasn't really feeling any of them. To no surprise I found myself up at the saloon in Cayucos which is becoming one of my favorite places, basically because it has a dance floor and a really good jukebox. Played a game of pool by myself (I won...and lost:) and then decided to go for a walk outside after offering my table to a family who was already playing on the other table. They were a mixture of college students, their significant others, their parents, aunts and uncles steadily arriving. Now, living more the life of a drifter, I remembered when I was once in the fold unaware that the unthinkable was even possible. Enough time has passed that the shock has lessened and I try to focus on the appreciation that I even got to know what that feels like.
Went back inside and the next thing I knew I was playing shuffle board with a mother and daughter. I actually thought they were twins (they had on very similar outfits). I don't want to make it sound like I'm a barfly or a player because I'm not. I was polite and cordial. The place was kind of dead and they were visiting from Fresno. I guess that's the thing to do, apparently. They were actually relieved to talk to me. They were kind of supermodel hot, both of them, and confessed to me that no one ever talks to them...I guess they're intimidating to most men, but the truth is they were very down to earth and sincere and were dying to have a real conversation with someone. The daughter is dating a professional hockey player and the mother owns a ranch and 50 horses in the Fresno area so seeing as I have a lot of experience with both we had plenty to talk about, but mostly I think they appreciated that I wasn't trying to hit on them and treated them like normal people. I swear the bartenders at the saloon must think I'm the mack daddy because every time I go there I end up leaving with a bunch of women.
Maybe it's an energy think and trying to intellectualize it is futile. Theirs was definitely calm and positive. We didn't talk for long about hockey and horses, but quickly moved on to deeper subjects. I would have enjoyed just as much watching a couple of guys play a game and would have been happy to join them as well had they offered. People are people. Some are able to be in the moment and some get caught up in the act of trying to be a certain way. Maybe self-confidence is the deciding factor. At one point I was reminded that on this very same night 11 years ago, the Friday before Easter (Good Friday -if you're Catholic) I lost my mother. Of course, I knew what day it was when I woke up this morning, but preoccuppied with getting stuff done and trying to keep my own attitude calm and positive, it had slipped my mind until I found myself temporarily in the fold of friendship for a few hours.
None of us being avid shuffle board players had fun learning. They played and I rooted then they offered me a turn and I played and they heckled, haha. I could happily spend the rest of tonight narrating the last two evenings we spent together, but I write to give myself perspective on this road that I'm on in the attempts to stay out of my own way. They'd come to the coast to visit the grave of the matriarch of their family who for her own reasons wanted to be buried out here. They both spoke highly of their mother and grandmother respectively. It was a little eerie in a comforting way that we all had lost the mother figure in our lives on this weekend.
Talking until the bar closed down, dancing the night away, sharing life stories over dinner, I couldn't have felt luckier. Well, I could, but that's why I'm sitting here writing. They haven't left yet. They jokingly attested that though I may think that I needed to meet them the truth is that they needed me. As nice of a sentiment as that is, I know it's not true. Well, maybe it is in a fleeting way. They'll be gone tomorrow. We shared a lot, but I never got the chance to tell them the exact details of my life. It's hard to work into a conversation something that most people would never know could exist espeicially when I'm trying to focus on being a good listener. I drove up to Cayucos this afternoon and parked my rig just off Main St down the road from their hotel, but never told them. I had plenty to do, but part of the beauty of how I live is being able to bring my entire life wherever I want. So I'm here making a chunky salad, doing laundry, putting tools away, etc. comforted by the fact that I'm available to them if they really do need me. They said they wanted to see me, again, before they leave. They're both going through some challenging life lessons of their own. And, my challenge specific to meeting them is to uphold the trust that I either earned or they bestowed on me while being as completely honest about my own feelings as I can without triggering what I'm sure is an all too familiar feeling of men appearing to be their friends, but all the while having a hidden agenda. That is not me. I don't use the word beautiful lightly when it comes to women because to me it doesn't apply to just physical appearance. In my opinion, in order for a person to be beautiful, they need to have values on the inside that enhance what's on the outside. They seem to have both.
When I was younger and traveling I think I was used to, even spoiled by, meeting people who I immediately had a deep connection with, but as times and life goes on it seems to happen less. To meet two of them in one night is intense. Maybe not as much for them, they've got each other and their lives to go back to while I've got mine blowing in the wind. I've always been sensitive to a woman's trust or maybe it's the trust I try to earn in animals that I apply to people. Either way, the lesson lies in there somewhere. I remember working at a horse stable and spending time with a big beautiful thoroughbred who was considered by everyone to be kind of problem child because he was so big and tended to bully other horses, and people, never maliciously, but intimidating nonetheless. One day after watching him barrel towards me at full speed as I stood there unwilling to move with a big smile on my face, a few of the women commented after it was all over and he had stopped inches in front of me only to nestle his head into my chest "Weren't you afraid?" and I simply said "Ya can't be afraid of something you love." To me, fear, not hate, is the opposite of love. I'm a single guy who belongs nowhere to no one longing to find someone or something of my own to love and I think that has to start by being able to give that love freely.
Though it is NOT my agenda, any man would be lucky to be with either of my two new friends. Do I tell them this?....like they haven't heard it a million times. Do I tell them that when either of them touch me or hug me it goes straight through me into my soul?....as corny as that sounds. I've often said that modern man is neutered, but I will never let society or being politically correct keep me from being a wild, full-blooded man. The challenge is to do this without appearing to be a neanderthal with only one thing on his mind. My past depicts a different scenario in which it's often a woman trying to catch me and I never wanted to be caught. I've always wanted someone who will let me be as wild and free as I need to be which doesn't necessarily mean geographically so when I meet two people who have always wanted the same for themselves regarding their own spirits all I can do is love them unconditionally.
Obviously they are family and have a biological bond and maybe that's all I was feeding off of, but it was still a privilege to be around while at the same time being the envy of every guy in the place wherever we happened to be. I can't be sure, but it seemed at times they were discovering a kinship in me, but, again, that's not for me to speculate on only appreciate. Tomorrow, I will wake up on my rope half-way across the grand canyon and try to remember the two beautiful birds that came and perched beside me for a while making me feel less alone and more inspired. Here's hoping it lasts.
March 29, 2016, San Luis Obispo, California
When no one else will bet on you, you have to bet on yourself. Thinking you have nothing to bet with can prevent you from ever trying. For most of my life, I believed in myself so much that I could not relate to this type of fear, but in recent years I've finally learned what this feels like. I've come full circle and the stakes are higher, realer, now, but the only way to win it all is to bet it all. The most universal commodity in life is not money, land or even food. It's more valuable than all these things which are simply manifestations of it. It's timeless accessible to anyone, anywhere at any time in history. It can be used for anything by those who can harness it and yet it is available to everyone. Einstein created a formula for it, but even he admitted that it could not be encapsulated.
Texted my temp boss this weekend and told him that I'd take care of a big shipment of material being delivered on Monday, but unless he had other work for me, meaning unless he planned on using me for what he's been claiming he's wanted to use me for, I was going to take this week off from doing any heavy lifting as well. It is my body and I have to take care of it. I plan to use it as much as I've always used it once it's healed, but I won't be able to unless I let it heal properly. Didn't hear back from him like I normally do. I left at 5pm on Monday and by 6:30 things were already becoming a mess at the warehouse yard without me there and the foreman was calling me...and I'm not even an actual employee, just a guy from a temp agency that they hired who did more than he needed to and better than he needed to which is always the case. I thought about mentioning the urine filled bottle incident and the fact that I know who did it, if any of the guys took issue with me taking the week off, but I'm glad I didn't need to go there. My temp boss seems like a nice guy and couldn't have agreed with me more when we did finally speak yesterday after work. Being a big bear of a man, he shared that he knows all too well how painful a back injury can be, but this doesn't change the fact that I know he has a business to run. The guys had their hands full without me so I offered to return the rental box truck that I'd been in charge of, today, without their help. I said that I'd figure out the bus schedule and take one back to Morro Bay. He was a little taken back at my offer and I was well aware that this could be construed as me sending the message that I didn't think I wasn't important enough to make someone give me a ride, but I've been on my own for so long that figuring out how to use the public transportation system was simply a reasonable solution. I don't care how it looked. I know what I'm worth. He reluctantly agreed and there's a good chance I'll never hear from him, again.
Never heard back from the Barbie twins. Probably won't ever again either. I shouldn't call them that. I wouldn't be afraid to jokingly with them as friends, but maybe a surplus of friendships is a commodity they have. Left Cayucos Sunday night a little heartbroken, but not because of them. Had I not been secretly nursing my injury while cutting it up on the dance floor or worried that I couldn't afford the fancy restaurant we had dinner at, I would have been able to help them more and this is what I regret. When I was dancing with one, I didn't want the other to feel left out and when I wanted to hold the other tight as tears welled up in her eyes I was worried that it would appear I was favoring her. If I had more resources I would have taken better charge of the situation, but I did what I could. Just wish I could have done more. What I enjoyed most wasn't getting to be in the presence of such pretty ladies, but getting to talk about the things that we talked about like the stuff I write about here which is places most people aren't willing to go. Our connection is what I'll miss. That's what I'll miss in a different way about working with the guys, too.
With only a couple hundred dollars to my name, I need to buy myself sometime to do a little work to the trailer if I'm going to sell it and get a good amount for it. I should be able to get twice what I paid for it. I love it and I hate to do it, but it's just a physical object and I can only imagine that if I'm able to keep the positive attitude I've been able to keep this year while being close to broke almost the entire time I can't imagine what it will feel like if I have plenty of money. Selling the motorcycle will give me enough money to rent a storage unit, move all my stuff into, finish working on the trailer, sell it, buy another base model one and move everything back into it. All this will, also, buy time for my body to heal. If the first aid and survival training classes are full by the time all this happens, I'll regroup and either wait for them to be offered, again, or use the money to get my CDL (commercial truck driving license) which is something that will get me better pay for the jobs I typically work, a game I've never been interested in playing, but I need to be making more money. Not because I like money, but because it will alleviate stress. I can still pick and choose how and for who I play it. I might need to think about making some music or a movie, somethings I haven't done in years. Energy is the most universal commodity to all life and we all use more of the world's than we need yet use far less of own than we have. Our thought patterns are what block our minds from accessing all the energy we need that our spirits can endlessly supply. I just happen to have more than average when I started this jounrney and it's been like a lottery ticket I could cash when I needed to. Time to put my type of money back on the table.
March 30, 2016, Morro Bay, California
I have to be careful. I've sold off everything I own to hit the road and be free so many times that I don't want to fall into that thought pattern. It feels awesome instantly, but a quick fix will only eventually put me right back into the situation that I'm in, now. Well, not exactly. I've never been hurt before which is why I'm in this situation. In the past, it was always my disdain for the system that would force me to up and leave. If I dig deeper, maybe my disdain for the system has been fueled by my loneliness.
I shouldn't be embarrassed to admit that after starting my last job, I contemplated moving up to the Bay area because I liked working with the guys so much even if I only saw them for about 1/2 hour of my day. I'm not going to lie and say I didn't think about moving to Fresno after meeting the group who invited me to crash their wedding last weekend. And, I won't deny that I considered telling my newest temporary friends this weekend that I'd come work at her stable just to feel like I belonged somewhere, but something kept me from doing any of these things. I, also, have to acknowledge that it's not in my nature to ask people for help. I'm supposed to be the one that they ask. On a level playing field, I'd never be lonely. Put me in a group and I'll always make friends and be popular. I'm not bragging. It's not because I think I'm so great. It's because I love life and people and people like being around love. Love is a natural form of positive energy. Money, a make believe form of energy, and the lack of it or the pursuit of it perpetuates a lot of our fears. The need for it keeps it a priority over us as a group. I can't let my fears which are taking the form of having no money force me into putting myself in a situation that is only going to perpetuate them.
March 31, 2016
I'm sleeping better, but not great. I need to figure out a better position or better sleeping surface to lessen the pain. I have been taking aleve pm once in a while, but that's not a solution. Walking from the truck rental place to the bus station the other day hurt my back a little which, by now, with the week and half I've taken off was surprising. I usually heal a lot quicker. It definitely feels better and it was vital that I stopped working like I was, but it seems to have plateaued. A lot of what I read about herniated disks says it takes 4 to 6 weeks, but that sort of stuff usually doesn't apply to me. Normally, all I need is a few days and feel good as new, but maybe I'm being stubborn and stupid and don't realize how much damage I did by trying to work through it for over a month. Ya think? If I took that long to damage it, it's probably going to take, at least, that long for me to heal. In a perfect world, I never would have kept working, but I felt like I had no choice. I needed the money and I didn't want to disappoint the temp agency and the company that they had placed me with. Finally, it got bad enough that I had no choice, but to tell them that I couldn't keep working. Not the best way to make a decision. I should know better.
Went to a meeting last night just to be around people for a little while. I'm not sure why, but as dire as things seem, right now, my attitude is still pretty light and positive which is a nice surprise. I'm not walking around with a big chip on my shoulder like I often do when I'm in this type of situation. Normally, I would have sold the motorcycle and rented a storage unit by now, but something's telling me to hold off. Met an older gentleman last night who owns his own video company which was one of my majors in college (I had a few). I told him if he ever needed a hand with a shoot to give me a call. He gave me his card so I'll touch base with him later, today. The stubborn manly man I've liked to think of myself as would never look for higher paying non-blue collar jobs in the past that didn't require a lot of muscle because I didn't consider it real work. I saw it as part of the bullshit of the system. Honestly, I still do, but the system is kicking my ass, right now. I've been fighting it for decades and relative to just my life I've been winning, but I haven't done anything more than keep myself free so it was just a matter of time until it dragged me down to it's level.
I can't believe I've been parked in the same spot for over a week other than when I drove up to Cayucos on Easter last Sunday. There's a lot of businesses that use this road to park their vehicles on it so if the police are going to take issue with my truck and trailer they'll have to deal with all of them, too. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that my trailer is new and the solar panels look like an aluminum ladder on the roof. Never heard back from the rich older couple that I did a lot of work for in January about renting/care-taking some land from them. I knew it was a long shot. They are definitely a "what's mine is mine" type of people. I haven't heard from the ladies whose door I fixed. They said they were going to reimburse me for the money I spent to fix it. It wasn't much, $20 or so. My buddy in NY wouldn't be happy with me for not making them pay for the couple of half-days of work I spent doing it, but I don't care. I was just happy to have something to do. I think it's more of a reflection that I feel like God, Mother Nature or whoever has given me a lot and I like giving it back even if I don't have a lot in this world.
The biggest problem I have is something I haven't written about in this blog, yet. It first started happening about five years ago once in a while, but not long after it was happening everyday and I haven't been able to shake it. It's why when I don't have to get up and run out the door for work in the morning it takes me a while to get going. I wake up feeling like I'm falling. For ten minutes or so I just hold on through the worst of it then when the part's over I literally say to myself that I can never wake up feeling this way ever, again. Once it subsides enough, I try to think of all the things that I can work on, today, and this helps me get motivated to get up. Eventually, I do. What makes this hard to accept is that for most of my adult life, I've woken up very differently. I remember years ago being parked north of Malibu by the ocean in my old '67 Mustang convertible which I customized the interior to turn into a full size bed at night by folding the front seats down flat to meet the back of the bench seat in the back. I can still see the dolphins I spotted swimming by that morning. I decided to try to describe how it felt and the closest feeling I could think of was like was when I was a little waking up on Christmas morning. This is how it felt everyday I woke up on the road in those moments between being totally asleep and totally awake. Before I could remember where I was because I was always someplace different, a little smile would come across my face. It was a mixture of promise, peacefulness, anticipation and most of all hope. It's not that I needed to be someplace different in order to feel this way. It was always waiting for me no matter where I was. I'm not saying I liked getting up for work anymore than the next person, but those kind of tired feelings that we can all relate to apply to after I'm awake.
For someone who has always been able to figure things out for himself, this has been something I've hated to have to live with. I keep telling myself that I can never get used to it and never accept it, but every morning I say "Never, again" and the next morning it's there waiting for me. Naps are even worse for some reason. I'm pretty sure it's mostly from not feeling connected to anyone. We all know lots of people, but being connected is dependent on two things, having similar personalities for the potential for a connection to even exist and working towards the same goal. I don't have either. Wah. I know, and have met, lots of people who personality-wise I connect with, but they're all scattered across the U.S. and the rest of the world. I'm not complaining. They may feel the same way, I don't know. I hear from them when I hear from them and it's always a pleasure. I don't reach out to them unless I'm doing good because I don't want to burden them with this crazy path I've taken. Actually, it's often the reasons why I've taken this path that I don't want to burden them with. Everyone else seems to be fine going along with the system even if some don't agree with it either. I can only assume that they feel connected to at least a few people enough to justify it and maybe that's the difference.
I'm fine when I'm around people. It's when we all go our separate ways that I step off the cliff and start falling. It's just easier to handle when I'm awake. Maybe losing my mother and my best friend within a few months of each other years ago has finally caught up to me. They were the two people that I was closest to on the planet. It's not like I was super touchy-feely with either of them or saw them a lot, but we did have a real connection. I handled their passing very well. I was solid and took care of everything that needed to be taken care of. I took care of my mother like I good son should and was holding her hand when she went. The last things I ever said to my friend the day before he passed were positive and supportive and he knew I loved him. I helped his parents as best as I could in such a tragic time for them. I couldn't prevent their passing and wish I could have done more, but I had no regrets and still feel that they are both still with me. Maybe it took years for it to finally set in that without them here I've become less grounded hence the feeling of falling. It's like when you're leaning back in a chair and you accidentally lean a little too far. A jolting feeling shoots through your stomach. It's like that, but it lasts longer than a few seconds, I guess, because it normally goes away when you catch your balance and I haven't been able to catch mine. There have been a couple mornings in the past years that I remember it didn't feel this way. Once was when I woke up on a farm of some friends who I'd just met. I'd started volunteering some time to help out at their place because I'd taken a job working for a television station and missed being on a farm, i.e. doing real work. They offered to let me stay in this little cabin that they had in their back yard that their oldest son would stay in when he was visiting from college. For one morning, I felt home. That was 7 years ago. I think it was what made me realize early on what was happening because before then I'd always woken up that way, but at that moment realized I hadn't in a while. I never imagined in a million years that it would've progressed to how it is, now. Though we stayed in touch and I did work for them off and on for the next couple years, I never stayed there, again. They had sold their land to people who they didn't get along with and the people didn't like the fact that they had so many guests and I didn't want to be contributing to the problem. Let's see, when was the other time? I can't think of it, right now, but I'm sure it'll come to me.
I think hope is when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. For someone who can always be ten steps ahead of any situation he finds himself in when there's no light to see that's ten steps ahead into the darkness. Allowing myself to write about this helps me see that by being ten steps ahead all the time, I'm not being present. Duh. I think that might be what's been happening lately is for some reason, maybe because I'm hurt, I have been able to, or forced to, be present and it's allowing me to be available to who or what's in front of me. Hmmm. I still have a huge amount of energy inside me which is why I'm writing so much, but if I don't get a handle on it, it will eat me alive. The wide open road, a giant stack of hay, hundreds of pounds of lobsters, plenty of room on a dance floor, really hot sex, haha -sorry, it's been a long time, are the only places I've found where I can safely let it all pour out. I think a lot of people can relate to a lack of connection in their life. Many focus on making lots of money because if you don't have people in this world, you better have money. If I don't have either, I better figure out how to tap into the infinite or keep falling through the darkness. Maybe this is the only way I can learn. I know I can. I've had access to it so many times, but I guess I'm realizing that it was hinged upon on having some sort of connection with someone even if it was just mental. Having my four-legged buddy helped, but he's gone, now, too. Maybe Mother Nature designed it so we can't do it alone. Ego will only get us so far. Spirit is what brings us all the way.
Alright, I can't right anymore. I've got stuff to do.
April 3, 2016
Somebody's back is getting better! It's definitely not a 100%, but I am so psyched (not to sound like teenager) and so thankful for the Mother Nature in me. When you don't have a lot of stability and consistency in your life and one of the few things you do have is removed things can get harder than they already are. I'm parked at the home depot parking lot having just woken up from a nap. I normally wouldn't park here unless of course I was getting building materials which I often am, but I told my school teacher friend that I'd take a look at her broken sprinkler system and she lives around here so I'm just waiting to hear from her. She's gone horse back riding this afternoon, but will be back soon. I went on a camping trip this weekend with 7 people that I just met. Well, two of them were the young ladies that I was sort of friends with whose door I fixed last week. Had a blast. Now that we're all back in civilization, I wouldn't say that we're all a lot closer than before, but while we were camping it felt like we were, if that makes sense. They all work together for a big solar company which is pretty cool, but unfortunately as anyone knows who's ever worked for corporate America once a company gets to be a certain size regardless of what type of company it is there's just a certain nature of the beast..and I don't mean in a natural way and a big part of that nature is keeping everyone at a certain distance. But, we had a great time and they seem like a fun group of people. I brought the trailer. It seemed a little silly not to when camping, for me, is actually easier than how I normally live not the break from a domesticated lifestyle that it is for most. I didn't go out of my way to share with any of them that I live out of it which is fine. They didn't seem too interested, but it did come in handy for bringing a lot of their stuff with us so I'm glad it was of some use, not that they couldn't have managed without it.
There's all different types of camping and all different types of people who go camping. This version leaned a little towards the side of drinking and partying although we did go for a short hike through the mountains to a really cool swimming hole where there were big rocks to jump off of. Regardless of the type, it was a great break from my everyday reality as I'm sure it was for them and everyone cleaned up the site nicely when we left.
Something strange has happened for me. I'm almost scared to write about in fear of jinxing it. Obviously, the best part of my weekend was the chance to be around people for an extended period of time (a whole day and a half) even though I was a little bit of an outsider seeing as they all worked together, but I think because I wrote about the biggest problem I've been having for the last 5 years in my previous blog entry it has made it go away. Could it be that simple after all these years? I'm sure feeling better physically is contributing to a better mental state of mind and I'm sure letting go of old thought patterns and the people who kept me thinking that way by starting this blog, also, has some affect on what has happened so maybe it's just good timing, but as hung over as I was this morning (not proud of that) and as uncertain as things are for me, right now, I've woken up twice in the last 12hrs, once this morning and then, again, especially from a nap parked in a public parking lot with people coming and going just outside my door surrounded by big box stores, yet still feeling peaceful. It's not Christmas morning or anything, but I can't believe it.
April 5, 2016, Santa Maria, Ca
The last couple days: Looked at the sprinkler system for my teacher friend. With a little digging it shouldn't be too hard to fix. I realize that doing projects for people helps ground me out like a point of reference in an otherwise planetless universe. They give me a place to go when I often don't have one (not that they need to know this). Never heard back from the video guy. Got a text from the owner of the company I was temporarily working for. He wanted to know how my back was doing and whether I was able to come back and do some more work for him. I told him that I would. Loaded the motorcycle and relocated to Pismo where the PG&E yard that we're working out of is. Seeing as I hadn't been there in over a week, the place (our area of the yard) was a mess. Worked until 9:30pm knowing that I'd need another day to get things organized. Unloaded the motorcycle (so I could sleep in the trailer and not smell gas fumes) and was in bed by 10, but was awake til 2am worrying whether going back to work for them was a good idea or not wondering if I was going to be taken advantage of. Awful night. Up at 6, took the bike to work, delivered material to Santa Maria in one of their trucks. Back felt fine in the morning. One of the bucket trucks had a few street lights to replace in Grover Beach so they offered me a ride back to Pismo so I could get my trailer in the hopes I'd relocate to Santa Maria to help them out full time. Took the ride, loaded the bike back onto the trailer and drove to SM. Worked til 7:30 this evening, found a place to park in a new city, unloaded the motorcycle, heated up some water on the stove and took a cowboy shower, fried up a Trader Joe's burrito on the my rockin new cast iron pan that's been making awesome toasted bagels since I got it. Took some aleve pm because I can't take any chances not sleeping. The whisper of a secret is that I still haven't woken up over the Grand Canyon since Saturday morning. I won't see any of the hours in the form of a paycheck for two weeks, but at least I'm working. Tomorrow, I'll get finish at a reasonable hour, add some sanity to things, learn where stores are around here and get organinzed.
April 6, 2016
So here I am in another town on another job (well, the continuation of a previous temporary job). I don't believe in commuting. That's why I relocated down here. This is were I'm working. All the guys are staying at the holiday inn around the corner. Apparently, the owner drove down today and is staying in a nicer hotel a little further down the street and I'm here in my trailer. I have to move it once a day to avoid getting a ticket. Two of the guys asked if they could see the inside of my trailer. Since getting to know each other over pizza one night after work a couple months, they've been picking my brain a little about how I live. They shared that they pay $400/wk out of an allowance that the company gives them for their hotel rooms and since our conversation they have been seriously considering getting a camper to bring with them when traveling for work so they could pocket that money. I tried not to see the absurdity in the fact that their allowance is close to what I earn in a week. I informed them to be careful about buying a camper unless they planned on staying at rv parks and campgrounds which aren't much cheaper than hotels if they are at all because they won't be able to just park it on any street which is illegal in most cities. If it's a nice camper the odds are a little better that they'll be left alone, but it's tough getting a good night sleep when there's a good possibility that you're going to be woken up at any minute and told that you can't stay there. I told them there's always the closest walmart parking lot where people with rv's are allowed to park overnight I'm guessing because a lot of retired people traveling around the country spend so much money in their stores. Not every walmart has this policy. I discovered heading down the east coast this winter checking out the small seaside communities that there's many in the affluent tourist towns along the coast of North and South Carolina that don't, but most do.
A whole discussion can be made on the subject of whether or not it should be legal which would most likely be followed by whether or not it's moral, but I've got more immediate matters to concern myself with like survival. Most of the very few interactions I've had with police in recent years have been barely worth mentioning. Once they've realized that I'm just a working guy trying to save a few bucks on gas money they tell me that I'm fine where ever I am as long as I'm quiet which I always am while making sure I pick places to park that are out of the way and inconspicuous. All those incidents where actually just in my suburban with my four-legged buddy. I haven't met any since moving up into the trailer.
With all the perspective I seem to be gaining this year, I have to ask myself "What am I doing all this for? Why am I still choosing to live this way?" The issue was amplified when I heard that the owner was coming down, today, along with a pg&e big wig who I'd already met a month ago. The reason this made me a little anxious wasn't for the reasons one might expect a person would get nervous about a visit from the owner of the company they work for and one of their biggest clients. It made me nervous because I was concerned that one of them might offer me a higher-paying full-time job. It's happened to me more times than I can count, pretty much every time I find myself working for someone new. I'm not bragging. It's just a byproduct of being a good worker something I cannot afford not to be living the way I do, but the truth is I love being a good worker. What I don't love is giving up my freedom to make a comittment to work for an out of balance corrupt system and the more money I make the more I work for it. Money isn't real, sorry to be the one to tell you this. But, I know I need it under the current system and feel like a fool every time I pass up such an offer. I actually like working regardless if I'm getting paid. I like taking my time to do something right the first time. It's a long story of how I arrived at being this way, but the short version is it is a direct result of trying to live a life built on natural values not man-made ones. I spoke to the owner on the phone at length this morning to go over a bunch of things I was taking care of, but luckily he was in a hurry and preoccupied with meeting one of the client's managers so my work status didn't come up. I told him when we met that I was leaving for Utah in late April/early May to take some survival training and first aid courses which I could tell by his reaction had no idea what to make of that. He said "Well, you can go do that and then come back to work for me if you want."
So what am I doing? I used to think having study film in school that I needed to make a cutting edge movie to give this path meaning or having studied literature and philosophy as well writing the great American novel might accomplish this, but as I was sitting on my old motorcycle in just a t-shirt stopped at a stop light behind the guys who were in one of our giant work trucks on our way to grab a couple tacos at a food truck down the street after work this evening everything came pouring through me, the sky at dusk, cars coming and going, green trees, adobe buildings, life as it is down to the smallest detail. I was present. Ya, it'd be nice to have more than a hundred dollars in the bank, but I'm healthy and as free as I can be in this day and age without feeling that the freedom isn't an exploitative byproduct of the problem, but rather a sacrifice in amenities and simplification in existence. Maybe I'm just psyched that my back's feeling a lot better and I'm getting a decent workout loading and unloading the trucks all day. We'll see. As great as the exercise is I miss not getting it on a farm or a boat. It's been a few months since I've worked on either, but maybe after this gig I'll be able to afford to work on one for a while. Right now, I need to pinch pennies until a week from Friday. I still think selling the trailer might be an advantageous move, but waiting to do it under more favorable circumstances was definitely a good decision. I've always told myself "Make important decisions when you feel good, not as an attempt at a solution when you're feeling bad." With one major burden out of my life, I've got a little more house cleaning to do before I'm completely free mentally.
April 7, 2016
It's supposed to rain tomorrow which means the guys probably won't work. Putting up new street lights in wet weather is not a safe idea, so they just called me to see if I wanted to come by their hotel rooms and have a beer. I told them when we were working in Morro Bay that I felt bad for not showing them around town in the evenings after because technically to them they thought I lived there. Once they found out the real situation they understood. I might swing by, but I wanted to write a little first. It grounds me out. I realized a few things from what I wrote last night. I didn't like how some of it sounded. There was a negative vibe in my comments about the system and taking a better paying job that didn't feel right. Writing something and getting it out of my system helps me see things for what they are. That was the old me talking. The heart of the matter of turning down a job offer has got nothing to do with the system and a lot to do with saying "No" to someone who for a brief moment is making me feel wanted and that's why it's hard for me to do even though I always do it. Being trapped in the system is a smaller issue. Them not knowing who I really am juxtaposed with them stating they want me (for lack of a better way to put it) is what makes it unsettling.
Time, time, time, I'd like to sit here and write more, not because I'm anti-social and would rather be alone, but because I don't like to rush. Life's too precious to not be present and this is helping me stay in the moment so when/if I do meet up with the guys later I will be there in that moment instead of in my head thinking about what I should be doing. It's about keeping my table clear. I can write more when I get back.
April 8, 2016
It's nice that things have alleviated a little, but I feel like whatever it is I'm doing here by writing everything down will begin to slip away if I don't focus it more deliberately. It's been invaluably helpful to begin this. Though there's no replacement for real relationships and connections, this has been at times like an imaginary conversation I'm having with a close friend, parent, sibling or even girlfriend, i.e. someone who cares, and at other times just away for me to "talk" things in order to get perspective on everyday thoughts and decisions that we all need to process. As a result my subject matter from day to day is often all over the place and though in my mind it all fits together easily into the broad spectrum of life on all its levels I need to use whatever this is to get me to a better place not simply make the one I'm in a little more tolerable.
Cleaned up last night and went by the hotel, hung around at the bar/resturant for a few minutes, but couldn't find the guys, thought about going out solo, but decided to call it a night and get some rest. They called when I was back in the trailer. The one who had my number had dozed off accidently, but they were headed downstairs, now, and wanted to know if I was coming. I passed, but it was nice of them to invite me.
They all headed back to San Fran this morning because of the rain, I worked alone all day, loaded the bike into the trailer and headed north to the SLO area after work....by default. Did some errands in Arroyo Grande and, now, I'm sitting here weighing my options. I'm sleepy for some reason, but know I could get motivated if I had people to hang out with. My Pismo friend asked if I could "help" her make some decorative racks for her condo which I agreed to, but haven't heard from her since this afternoon. I texted my school teacher friend (I guess I'm calling these ladies "friends" for lack of a better word. They're nice and all, but we're more casual friends than close ones) to see if she wanted me to work on her sprinkler system tomorrow, but it sounds like her mother advised her to pave over that section of her yard so they'll be no need for sprinklers. I can't even get people to let me work for them, haha. I guess I have to admit that if I wasn't helping either of them we wouldn't have enough in common to benefit from having a closer friendship. It's nothing personal. It is what it is. If I wanted to hang out with them I should grow a pair and ask them to. I've actually been called a snob before because I'm not one to just hang out for the sake of it if I don't find it productive. I guess there's some validity to that and probably need to work on it. This still leaves me in the Trader Joe's parking lot in AG finishing up an inexpensive yet healthy dinner, a veggie burrito and a carton of strawberries. I could head to my favorite little saloon by the ocean up the coast which is kinda far from here and a little remote. I'd have to pull the bike out when I got there so I could just got to sleep when I got "home" after being out. Seems like a lot of effort if I'm not going to stay there all weekend. There's kind of a fun local/biker bar not far from here in the 5 cities that usually has a band on the weekends. I like places where working class people go. They're less pretentious, more down to earth and know how to have a good time compared to "nicer" places. I think my limited funds is what's keeping me on the fence. It's not that I'm going to spend a lot of money or have more than one beer. It's just psychological. I made a decision after my weekend with the two very attractive ladies that I'll never allow myself to be in a situation where I can't give to whoever's standing in front of me all that I have to give. Never, again. In order to push through the little wall of insecurities that can build up between people, my sh*t's gotta be tighter. I got a bunch of over-time this week so by next Friday it'll be a whole different deal as sad as this is to admit and as many times as I've said this to myself in all the years I've traveled and worked. Pressure over time moves mountains so I'm chipping away.
I shouldn't try to force it, tonight, or be too hard on myself just because it's Friday and I feel like I should go out. There's nothing wrong with staying in and writing or getting other stuff done, but it would be nice to be around people. Hmm.... I'd head down to LA for the weekend which is only 3hrs from here if I had better tires on my truck to see two of my closest friends, one's a musician and the other's a model. They're both actors. I feel bad that I didn't tell them I was on the west coast when I arrived in early January, but I needed to start fresh. The mental rut I'd been in for the last 6 years was forcing me to try anything and it's finally worked. Now, it's just a matter of a couple paychecks and I'll cruise down there and surprise them. One of them, the musician, called me a couple weeks ago and discovered I was here. I could tell he was a little surprised that I hadn't let them know, but they know I love them and if they don't I'll show them soon enough.
I can't make a decision, but I need to get out of this parking lot and pull the bike out before I get any sleepier.
April 19, 2016
The living experiment continues. The battle hasn't relented. Ya, I'm scared -not in a way that interferes with my abilities, but in a way that is taking all my abilities to conquer. Life has my attention. The glimmer of relief lasted about a week. Money is coming in so that is good. I thought I was in the clear with my back, but apparently my faith in my body for all these years is what is allowing me to damage it, again. Usually, when the pain goes away so does the injury, but I'm learning that this is not the case this time. Once I feel better, I cannot go back to using my body like I always have until I've given it more time to heal. I haven't been doing anything crazy like lifting super heavy stuff at work by myself or playing soccer for two hours after only a few days of healing from an injury, but nonetheless what I have been doing at work has knocked me back to 50% recovered (no pun intended) when I thought I was at 90. My temp bossed called me Sunday evening because he wanted to offer me more money, give me a bonus for working nights this week and compensate me for using my motorcycle to transport the two big box trucks by myself. He, also, said he'd like to pay for me to stay in a hotel this week as we travel throughout the county finishing the streets that are too busy to work on during the day. These improvements felt great for about 24hrs. Now, my back is informing me that I cannot continue doing what I've been doing. The guys at work and I went out last Thursday night and had a lot of fun which ushered me back into the social world that had gone barren for a couple of weeks since I last wrote. We met a few young ladies shooting pool at a bar in Lompoc where we were working and the guys insisted that I bring one of them back to their hotel room. They were ridiculously relentless (and drunk) as the group of us stood in the parking lot after the bar had closed. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. Giving me the key to their room and telling her to get on my motorcycle tears were running down my face. I felt bad though because she was eager, but there was no way that was going to happen and I managed to be nice and tactifully get out of the situation. Previous to this night, I'd fallen back into the hole that I thought I'd just worked my way out of. Getting a glimpse of relief was still very helpful because it allows me to observe what the factors were that caused it.
Right now, I need to focus on getting through the week without letting down the people who have extended themselves to me, but, also, without damaging my back any further. Why does this have to sound so fucking dramatic? Oh, I don't know maybe because when you're in something alone, meaning life, all you have is yourself and everything that happens in your life is amplified by this fact. I'd be great if I could just laugh it off and say "Wups, thought I was all set, but it looks like I'm not quite there, yet." That'd be nice, but a tleast I'm learning. One thing is certain, I can't keep living like this. I've got to stop working long enough to heal and, at the same time, negotiate the fact that when/if I do this I will have to psychologically weather the loneliness that removing what little social contact I do get creates. Back on the tight rope.
It's 2:30 in the afternoon, all the guys are sleeping at the hotel. I need to load my motorcycle back onto the trailer and lock it up here in the power company yard. I pulled it out last night (well, at 5:30 this morning) when we finished work so I could sleep in the trailer. Not knowing where we will be ending each day, I brought my truck, trailer and bike to leave here for the week while we traveled from town to town so I didn't have to leave it all parked on the street somewhere in Morro Bay without being around to check on, but it felt like a waste of money to get a hotel room down the street when my rig was right here. It blends in with all the industrial equipment and work vehicles. I've got a bunch of stuff to do before we meet tonight for work and head south so I need to close it up, now. The traffic company we rented a truck and signs from to block off the streets we're working on didn't give us everything we needed and one of the headlights is out on the flasher truck we rented from them, not really acceptable for working at night on a state job.
Keeping my head above water and surviving keeps me diligent throughout the course of each day, but in the back of my mind I am still very much aware of the big picture and the balance between our human story and it's affect on the planet and one another as it unfolds around me. Removing myself from the daily struggle that has lasted decades is the only way I am going to have enough time and energy to address it more directly. Maybe that is what my body is trying to get me to do. It painfully has my attention at the moment.
April 20, 2016
Checked in around 4am. It's in Grover Beach so it's nice for a motel 6. Got up at 8:30. Didn't get much sleep. The pain starting in my lower back and running down my right leg kept me up all morning. It's still a treat to stay indoors. I think the last time was Christmas eve in South Carolina, my Christmas present to myself. Figured I'd get some writing done before check-out time at noon. Took a shower and washed my hat in the sink. That sounded random, but it's one of my favorite hats. It has a lot of white on it so it gets dirty easy.
My back is jacked up. On our lunch break at denny's around midnight, the foreman of the crew told me the owner was going to call me and offer me a job. They've got a lot more work all over the state. Everyone watched for my reaction which from their perspective was probably hard to read. I didn't really react just tried to avoid a conversation about it as we all sat around the table. A few of them joked about how they need me which was funny, awkward and kind of nice all at the same time, but it's probably not in my best interest seeing as my back is now getting worse not better. I'm not sure how much my raise is, yet, but as I thought about it money is not the issue. Getting paid a lot more money would only make me feel like more of a fool for not taking the job. I told the owner when we met a couple months ago that the reason I decided to use a temp agency was because I was planning on going to Utah at the end of April and I didn't want to have to quit my job then because it's something I hate doing. With only a week away, the plan has, now, changed because of my back injury not to mention that I don't have anywhere near the $3,500 it was going to cost for the survival classes, but I haven't told him that. I won't know how much more I'm getting paid until next Monday. I suppose I could ask, but that doesn't feel right. I think he's still going to pay me through the temp agency for the next week or so (if I make it that long) which I think means that they get about half of what he pays to have me work for him something that turns my stomach. I do the work and they get paid for it. I'm going to ask them about this when I leave this job.
April 24, 2016
Damn, my life is such a roller-coaster. It's pretty clear to me why considering the external circumstances so I shouldn't over analyze it too much, but regardless it's been a ride. I use a lot of metaphors to help give myself perspective on experiences and situations and the one I've been using lately is that there are moments in our lives when in order to grow into our fullest potential we need to walk through an imaginary door that is the exact shape of who we are. It can only fit us. We cannot be holding onto anyone or anything else in order to pass through it. If we let go and take that step, everything and everyone who is supposed to be in our lives will be on the other side because they have, also, passed through theirs.
Letting go is not easy (understatement of the world) and sometimes we don't even realize that this is what we need to do. For me, physically letting go is something I've never really had a hard time doing. I had a lot of confidence in myself and my ability to rise to any occassion or new situation so it was easy to say good-bye to so many people and places over the years because I believed everything I did was for them. From the people I'd known my whole life to those who'd just entered it, I'm a sentimental sap and I wanted to show them all the path that I was trying to find through this messed up world because I believed deep down inside they wanted to make it to the same place in their hearts that I was trying to get to so I've never forgotten about any of them carrying them all with me. Consequently, mentally or emotionally letting go is something that I've had a hard time doing. For someone who tries very hard to be loyal and loving, these traits can actually make it harder to let go especially if letting go of certain people or things is unthinkable to me when in fact these people and things are what were holding me back, but my love and loyalty would never allow me to see it.
If I'm not getting my needs met with what or who I have in my life the only way to correct this is to create space in my life to get them met another way because if I'm not getting my basic needs met I can never become who I'm supposed to be no matter how hard I try no matter how tough I try to be which was hard to see when I'd already physically let go of so much yet still carrying the world around in my head and heart. My inability to be who I was supposed to be as years became more difficult eventually turned into judgement of myself as a failure so trying even harder and letting go of even more physical needs was my solution. This was not the answer and eventually after enough suffering alone I had to ask "Where are all the people I am doing this for?", but they are not to blame just because they are not like me. How could they know when I'd physically let go of them that I still thought about them all the time and wished I could somehow bring them with me?
Tomorrow, will be my last day at my present job. They didn't make it easy. They wanted me to stay with the company and travel to the next county where they'll be working, but as much as I'll miss the guys and the steady paycheck I know it was the right decision. My body needs to heal first and foremost and I have other fish to fry besides trying to make lots of money working for the system. It's pretty obvious that the more you work for the system, the more money you will make. It's got nothing to do with how hard you work. And, the less you work for it, the less you will make. I think this is one of the crucial problems regarding our economic system and the impact humans are having on the planet. My path of living and working on farms all these years has been living proof of this. The only system I want to work for is the ecosystem and I want to know how many other people out there believe or want to believe in this same thing. The best way to find this out is to bet on them. But, first I need to show them what I mean by this. I can't do that without continuing to invest in what I believe. I need to do it differently than I was and with each new thing I learn things get a little bit better.
On a side note, I haven't felt this good hanging over the Grand Canyon in a very long time. Maybe I'm growing wings. No, it's just the money I've made in the last couple weeks working so much overtime. What I do with it and the time it buys me will be what determines if I have wings or not....now, that I'm not carrying what was not mine to bear all these years.
May 3, 2016
It's funny how it was kind of nice when I was writing everyday. It had a grounding affect to be having an imaginary conversation, but the reason why I was writing everyday was because I couldn't do much of anything else which wasn't a good thing. I often hear about the notion of surrender and the gift of desperation in terms of personal growth. It refers to how a person finally accepts that they are not in control of their life or the world so they finally relinquish this control to something else. I get it. I know what this means, but that something else has to be outside of ourselves. It can't just be an idea, concept or theory that they try to use in order to live a different way. That something else has to be an actual presence in our lives. I have felt this presence countless times when have been alone somewhere in the world on one of my adventures, but it is much easier to feel it when I am among people. Getting among people without losing who I am or my freedom is the challenge.
Here I am still talking about my day to day problems rather than focusing on the solutions that I carry around with me hoping one day to put them into practice, but this is the heart of the matter. I am so alive when I feel this presence. It allows me to tap into all my energy and abilities in the most productive way. I think we all want to feel this in our lives.
April 30, 2016
Had to move. Things were going pretty great. Got all my bills paid, my back's feeling better, even got to go for a hike with a pretty girl -sorry, lady. I bumped into her at home depot a few weeks ago. I met her six years ago the last time I was in this part of the country and she found an old email with my phone number in it and called me out of the blue. It was nice to catch up with someone who sort of knows me, but last night turned out to be a long lonely night.
After getting back from the hike, I noticed a guy parked in front of my trailer with the hood up on a little pick-up truck. I couldn't back up to my trailer with him there so I parked behind it and before I could walk over to him he came over to me and asked if I could give him a jump. I said "Sure" and drove my suburban over to his truck so they were nose to nose. It was an old vehicle (1970's) with a little 4-cylinder engine random wires hanging everywhere. I like working on old cars. They're much simpler than the ones one the road, now. The cables to his battery were very loose which could have been one of the problems. If there isn't a good tight connection the battery won't receive a charge from the alternator nor deliver enough electricity to turn the engine over. I offered to replace the bolts on his battery cables so he could tighten them better. His were all stripped. I had plenty in my work shop, but he didn't want to take the time to do it. His arms were covered in tattoos and he had some of the ignition components apart and was trying to hard wire them. We tried for a while, but couldn't get it started. I offered to tow him with my truck seeing as he said that he only lived around the corner and could walk home if he needed to, but he said that he wanted to work on it some more so I told him to let me know if he changed his mine.
The next day when I got back from doing some errands on my motorcycle, his little truck was still there. I went in and made some lunch, but not long after I heard voices outside from behind my trailer where my truck was parked so I walked outside. There were two police cruisers parked along the road. I said "Hi, is there a problem?" Long story short, someone had called the police and I had to leave. I don't know who or why. There aren't any houses on the road, but there are lots of other vehicles and a few other trailers parked on it. I can't complain. It was a good spot and I used it more than I normally would, but with all the other vehicles and how quiet I am after a while I thought it was ok. I was only there when I wasn't in different parts of the county working. If I had to guess, whoever called saw me helping the guy and their suspicions got the best of them. This is why I never try to draw attention to myself. One of the police officers issued me my three warnings one each for my truck, trailer and motorcycle which stated that they had been parked there for too long which was false. I'd been gone all last week and in Cayucos last weekend, but I wasn't going to argue. He knew I was living out of my trailer and thanked me for being honest about it, even complimented me on the work I'd done to it. They were towing the guy's pick-up which hadn't been registered since 2009 so I told the officer I'd load up and leave once they were done. He thanked me, again, and said that technically I had three days according to the written warning if I wanted to stay for the weekend, but once I'm on other people's radar it's time to move on. I left on my bike to do some more errands and give them time to finish what they were doing and me time to figure out where I was going to go, now, that I'm done with work in this area and have no reason to be here especially seeing as I just lost my cool spot to park.
When I got back that evening and folded up the bed to make room for the motorcycle, I couldn't get it to started. Just what I needed. It's too heavy for one guy to push up the ramp. Worse comes to worse, I could call my friend who I helped move when I first got to this area to help me roll it into the trailer. He didn't live very far away, but I eventually got it going enough to drive it up the ramp and drive my rig into SLO where there was a road I've parked on before with lots of other cars and trailers parked on it.
Studied the wiring diagram in the shop manual for my motorcycle, this afternoon, and discovered that two of the alternator wires weren't connected. One had been cut and the other had coroded over time. One of the previous owners (I'm sure there's been more than one. It's an old bike) had messed with the wiring quite a bit and I'm often having to figure out what's been altered and put it back the way it's supposed to be. Fixed the bike and took it for a test ride to make sure it was fine. Put a test meter on the battery and it was all charged back up. Might still get a new one just to be safe. If it hasn't been getting a full charge for the last two years since I bought the bike combined with going through Maine's coldest winter on record last year, it could be weak. Losing my spot and having the bike breakdown last night took the wind out of my sails a little, but I feel better today. I still need to get new tires for the suburban then it's time to find someplace to go and regroup if I'm going to work on the trailer and sell it. More than anything I just need to get out of my head and get a little perspective on things before making any major decisions. Writing here helps, but I'd like a little more. All things considered, I'm in a good position, at the moment, so I should try to take advantage of this. It's been a long time coming.
May 7, 2016
Within the window of relief, I should get some writing done....it's supposed to be overcast and cool, today, so I guess it's ok to stay inside and write for a few minutes. The roller-coaster is hourly, but the fall is less far at the moment because I've got a few bucks saved up. Just to be clear regarding survival and mental well-being before moving on to some new ideas, the most significant factors involved are: people, money, projects and fitness. If I had to narrow it down to four, those would be them -in that order. Looking back on my life, for the most part, I had the order reversed which made for a very healthy, strong, driven, lonely existence. I wish it was this simple to see, but what I had to go through in order to finally let go of the things that were preventing me for seeing life this clearly is a shame and could have been avoided. So much long drawn out unnecessary pain. I can't beat myself up about it. I wasn't the only person involved, but regardless it just didn't need to happen this way...for anyone....for those still in it. I guess the most important thing is having learnt what I/we need to learn no matter how it happens is to live take advantage of the remaining opportunity to apply it to the rest of my life and spread as much positive energy and love as I can. Easier said than done I know, but it's amazing to experience and realize that once my basic needs are met, which by definition is the root of all our problems, how naturally joy and compassion pour out of me. I believe that once we free up whatever blockage, i.e. bad programming, that has existed in our thought process eliminating our judgmental view of ourselves, first and foremost, this joy and compassion is the result. It is our natural state. For those of us who have pets, maybe this is why we love animals so much because they are a living example of this state continually reminding us how we want to be. On a side note, the flip-side of my simple and often barren existence is the roller-coaster. Because I have so little in my life when one part of it is affected it greatly affects me...for good or for bad. Hence these windows of relief being so intermittent. The key, now, is to try to establish more consistent, natural, sustainable embodiment of these few things and build upon them. Duh.
Went out dancing last night and had a fun, sober, great time and even though I was alone, I didn't feel like I was. Bought a mountain bike this week. It's been far too long since I've had one. When I moved to the Northwest one year, I didn't even own a car. All I had was a mountain bike (with trailer for my 90lb side-kick:), tent and kayak. I had a full-time job and camped in the woods near a river on the outskirts of a small town. I eventually moved up into a sailboat with a small cabin until a winter storm came and carried it away, but that's another story. Made a bike rack for the roof of the suburban for when I want more room in the trailer. Cost me $16 in parts at home depot. Would've paid $150 or more to buy one online -just sayin. Still need to get tires. Haven't found any the right size around here so I figured I'd wait til I get to LA or other big city where the market is saturated and the prices are like half as much. Did I mention, I rented 4-wheelers with the guys the last week we worked together and went off-roading in the dunes at Pismo Beach? Holy shhhh...ugar, what a time. I'm sorry, I know it's mindless fun and the "lost, lonely, stubborn me" would never have approved, but screw him. It was a friggin blast. The suns breaking through the skylight. That's my cue.
May 8, 2016
Went to the drive-in last night and saw Jungle Book. I really wanted to see it at such a cool venue before I hit the road, but I didn't want to go to the drive-in by myself. It didn't start til 11pm (there was another movie before it -8 bucks for two movies is a pretty good deal!) so I spent Fri. evening and Saturday trying to find someone to go with. Late afternoon after asking 4 different people it wasn't looking good and I could feel the canyon below me getting deeper. I'd driven out to the coast and parked by the bay in a dirt turn-out at the end of a quiet country road to organize the trailer and get ready for the road. Over the course of the last week when people have heard that I'll be leaving soon, I always get the same response "What day are you leaving? Make sure you say good-bye" which is what people have been saying to me for years and I'd always feel bad when I couldn't give them an exact day ...because I didn't know. What I realize, now, is that I shouldn't feel bad. I'm not going on vacation. I'm walking to the edge of a cliff and jumping off so I need to make sure that I'm as ready as I can be. This doesn't exactly fit into a tidy little schedule. Living on the fringes of the "normal" world isn't exactly easy. It's more like doing battle with unpredictable circumstances and a hidden enemy so I'll leave when I'm ready to take that deep breath and set sail once again. The next time someone asks me this I'm just going to ask them if they've ever taken a long trip by themselves. I think finding a common experience will allow me to answer that question better.
The first movie started at 8:30. Around 8:15 my friend who likes to party a little called me and said she wanted to go, but could I come pick her up because she'd been drinking. I asked myself if this was really how I wanted to go to the drive-in. I come from an alcoholic family. Most of my closest friends growing up were heavy drinkers. I knew exactly what to expect if she was drunk. I buttoned up the trailer and drove into Los Osos to get gas and call her back where the reception was better. I totally gave her sh*t about being drunk before 8 o'clock in the evening and we laughed about it. She sounded fine which was a relief. Earlier she'd texted me that "everyone" had taken off for the weekend so I needed to find out if she was drinking by herself which would be even worse. She wasn't. She had a friend with her who, also, wanted to come. Truth is two drunk people are easier to manage than one because I can let them deal with one another while I watch the movie. Unhooked the trailer in SLO on the street where a lot of other people park their trailers, loaded blankets, pillows and air mattresses into the suburban and drove down to Pismo to pick them up. Unloaded all my tools into the garage of my friend's condo so we could open the lift gate and watch the movie out the back. She greeted me in her driveway holding a bottle of champagne like it was a 12oz soda. Her friend had bailed and she was drunker than I expected. I tried to convince her room-mate to come with us who was, also, drinking, but she didn't feel like it, but told us to come back after the movie. We grabbed a six-pack and some munchies at the corner store and headed to the drive-in. It was packed so we parked in the back to catch the second half of Captain America, yawn, in between long drawn out conversations she wanted to have about death, what it was like for me losing my mother and how she just found out her dad was sick and, of course, with a little roommate drama thrown in to round out the typical drunk ramblings all of which I gave her sh*t about. If I was going to put up with it, at least, I was going to have fun with it; one of the perks of actually caring about people regardless of the situation. I've diffused many volatile situations this way.
Before the first movie ended, I folded the seats down and got the back of the truck ready with the blankets and pillows which she quickly passed out in. Some of the cars left when it was over so I walked down closer and found a better spot. Moved the truck. She didn't wake up, but after we parked I made her walk down to the front row and hold an even better spot while I moved the truck, again. A little fresh air and some hot nachos I grabbed from the snack bar did her good and we had fun watching the Jungle Book. She almost made it through the whole movie before falling back asleep. Man, I don't know what it is, but drinking too much alcohol really gives a person bad breath. Even with the back hatch up, it was hard to take. I had half a beer when we first arrived and that was enough for me. Drove back down to Pismo, loaded my tools back into the suburban with her "help", had a few laughs about the night and headed back to SLO by 2:30am. It was a lot of work, but still glad I got to go. There aren't many drive-ins left in the country and I've been to that one three times spanning 19 years. Each time it was very different.
So here I am at the cliff. Feels pretty good all things considered. Every time I've bought a new vehicle since I was 16 I'd buy a repair manual for it so I could read about how to fix it if it ever broke down. Because I was raised to be a yuppy taking shop classes in high school was never even discussed so I've had to teach myself how to work on cars and build stuff over the years. My dad did some work to our cars and around the house when I was growing up so there were tools in the garage to practice with and I had an uncle who was a mechanic so sometimes I'd call him, but it didn't take long before I was taking on bigger projects than my father had done which is fine. That's what I think children are supposed to do; learn from their parents and then take that knowledge to the next level. For every vehicle on the road there is a shop manual for it, but if this path I've taken is going to be of any use to anyone I've got to leave something behind that is as organized and user friendly as these manuals have been to me. All I needed was the willingness to learn and the determination to do the work and I could fix whatever I needed to and, now, with youtube a person can pretty much teach themselves how to do anything, but all these things fall into the physical and mechanical world. Though the journey I've been on has taken physical form this is only because I've refused to give up on the mental emotional journey that I embarked on the day I finished school. Having fulfilled what I felt were my obligations to the upbringing that I received I graduated college with all A's (ok, I got one B+), hopped in my old convertible roadster, skipped the graduation ceremony and hit the road without telling a soul except my two best friends. I'd given one of them and his girlfriend a ride to graduation. As they began to walk towards campus and noticed that I wasn't coming, he stopped and looked at me. "Aren't you coming?" he asked and I said with a smile "Nope. I'm free." This is when my real education began.
I've learned a lot, not to mention a lot more about cars, trucks and tractors, but the string of continuity throughout everything has always been this willingness to learn and the determination to do the work. Without leaving the best manual I can make for the next free-spirited soul who embarks on a journey of their own what would be the point of it all? A car, computer or phone cannot evolve. They are machines, but we are not machines and can evolve in this lifetime and that, to me, is the miracle. What I leave behind will be for anyone who finds it who's not afraid to try.
May 14, 2016, Saturday
5 o'clock is still one of the harder hours of the day, waking up being the worst. I was set to leave this Monday, but got a call from the captain of a boat I used to work on Sunday night who was in a little bit of a jam. He wanted to know if I was available to do some work. Albacore (small tuna) season is close to starting and he had a lot of stuff to get done to his boat before powering from the southern coast of California to the middle of the coast of Oregon so I got to work on the water this week for a couple days which was fun. I even received a job offer from the owner of an oyster farm on the bay who I met which is one of my favorite types of jobs, lots of heavy lifting, outdoors, in the elements and usually with cool down to earth people. I was actually hoping to land this type of job when I got here from the east coast, but this is such a small town that I knew the odds weren't in my favor; even emailed the owner of the other oyster company, but never heard back. I didn't know about this one. This guy's more laid back, no fancy website, more of a word-of-mouth kind of a person, super nice. If I wanted to compose my life like I always have this job would be a perfect component. The question is: should I keep trying to live the way I always have if living that way was what put me in the hell I just recently escaped from?
I sat in my trailer parked down at the boat ramp, yesterday evening, after work not knowing where I was going next which is a lot better than sitting in just my truck. At least, I have a home, mobile or not. I headed over to a quiet trail-head just outside of town to park, shower, shave and regroup. I pulled the mountain bike that I just bought out and leaned it against the trailer in case anyone pulled in (including the police) and wondered what such a big rig was doing there. There was a sign posted in the dirt lot which read "No Parking 10pm to 6am" so I had plenty of time.
I told the oyster farm owner that I would call him Wed. of next week. Before our paths crossed, my plan was to leave and I had, at least, one definite destination already in mind and a few other serious possibilities so I felt at the bare minimum that I needed to check out the first one before making any long term commitments otherwise it might haunt me. That's one thing free spirits don't have a lot of: "what if's". My first destination after getting tires in LA and seeing my actor/model friends in Hollywood was only about 3 hrs from there so I should be able to get what I need done by the middle of next week not to mention driving long distances definitely helps me think. One of the other possible destinations being Alaska, I figured I should take some time to consider my options. I had enough money saved up to take the survival courses in Utah without having to sell the trailer, but I'd be pretty broke afterwards if I didn't. What I need most of all is downtime. Time to process and look at things without the clock of survival or the eyes of the system breathing down my neck. I'm in a good place. My body's healthy, my bills are paid, I've got money in my pocket and a home I can bring anywhere my truck will take it. A few moments to step out of this world to gain perspective and work on the trailer a little is what I want to give myself before jumping back into the madness that we call normal life and I think I know just the place to do this.
May 19, 2016, Wednesday
The sun is setting and I'm standing at the beach barefoot in the shallow surf trading glances between the horizon and an eyes of an attractive lady. The wind is blowing and we're both a little cold especially with the waves gliding over our toes, but we often find happiness when we venture outside of our comfort zones. Taking off our shoes was her idea.
There were no kisses or anything else, just a few long warm hugs. We live very different lives. Well, mine's very different from everyone's, haha. She's a single mom who's been separated for about a year going through a divorce and a nurse. We've seen quite a bit of each other in the last few weeks often with her 2 1/2 year old son along. He's a fun little guy and likes it when I carry him on my shoulders. She grew up in this area and has a lot of family and support so despite the unfortunate outcome of her relationship they're doing very well. Having a similar feisty wild spirit, she's a bit envious of my lifestyle especially when I mentioned that I was considering heading to Alaska. I'm a bit envious of her family and support.
Life is often defined by the moments when we don't get what we want. It's easy to blame others and the world for our unhappiness when we feel down, but it's pointless to blame things that we have no control over for something that we have complete control over. We said good-bye after the sun went down and I doubt we will see each other, again.
One new idea: There are two kinds of happiness. Thought is the illness that we all suffer from.
Years ago, it was useful for me to divide my perception of the world into two categories, thoughts and feelings. Even though in actuality they are both intangible concepts, I often see rational thought as concrete and finite while feelings are allusive and free-flowing, but, in fact, neither take the form of anything physical. Yes, I have a brain and I have a heart, but these are just organs. For the sake of categorizing these two different ways of interpreting life's experiences, heart and mind loosely correspond to them, but where does happiness lie? Is happiness a thought or a feeling? I think it's more of a feeling -no pun intended. Maybe it is a combination of both and when they are in balance true happiness is found. When out of balance happiness is often temporary and fragile.
The other two realities that we all live in are the natural world and the artificial one. Yes, throw you're laptop in the dirt and it's no less real than the grass growing in it, but how each came to exist is very, very different. One is a product of it's natural surroundings and the other is a product of our minds.
I studied philosophy in college and really liked it, but had no desire to get into debt pursuing an advanced degree or to make a career out of discussing it. I wanted to find the truth and live by it, not just talk about it. It seemed too self-serving to discuss or teach something while living off the hypocrisy that perpetuates its very dialogue. I could apply this contradiction to any profession and I did thus sentencing myself to a life of hard labor only doing what I deemed real work using my body while my mind continued to search for a solution and a better balance. As a result, the difference between natural and artificial, thought and feeling, heart and mind became a very immediate issue in my life everyday.
So what have I learned? Well, a lot, as we, all, would in such a span of time. I love learning and I classified each lesson into these two categories for the purpose of making it as useful as possible, utility being the bench mark by which I've graded every belief, value or principle that I've tried to live by. If it wasn't useful it was discarded. I'm very comfortable with concepts like natural selection and survival of the fittest. Consequently, efficiency, sustainability and lack of wastefulness are the tests that all my tools had to pass. One of the biggest mistakes I made, or was taught, was that these standards where the final say in whether I would agree to adopt something or not because the final standard should have been happiness, not practicality. I should have never allowed myself to choose between usefulness or happiness. One should be the product of the other, but I got them backwards. Something should be deemed useful if it makes me happy, not the other way around. Only allowing things that were useful in my life did not make me happy. It did make me a very disciplined, well-oiled, super efficient free spirit, but I was always lonely. More often than not, I was too busy trying to survive to take time to be happy eventhough I had more free time than most so why wasn't I more happy? Trying to survive for most people is working to pay bills. For me, it was being as disciplined and not wasteful as humanly possible to fight off the judge in my head because I was always alone. Now, that I finally learned this was not a natural trait of mine, but rather what I was taught by the anit-social environment and world I grew up in, the question still remains "What is happiness? A thought, a feeling or a combination of both?" As I have seen from the very down to earth vantage point I have occupied all these years, this question is the crux of the present state of the world and each of our lives. A more direct question is "What are we trying to please? Our hearts or our minds?"
May 21, 2016, Saturday, Malibu, California
Found a good spot to park along the PCH in Malibu among a few other work trucks and normal cars. I was pretty surprised to find a spot this close to LA. I'm completely off the road on a grassy shoulder along with all the other vehicles. Pulled the motorcycle out last night when I got here. Texted my buddies when I arrived. There's three of them, all together. All from the same tough east coast city, New Bedford, Ma. I was best friends with two of them in college, both football players. I was an ex-hockey player when we met. We all started acting in college. The third I met threw one of them a few years later in New Orleans. Heard back from two of them, the producer and the actor/musician. Mr.Model hasn't gotten back to me, yet. Maybe he has a new number, but he's not always super quick at getting back to people. They all seem pretty busy and I considered rolling out of here, this morning, already feeling claustrophobic on the outskirts of such a mammoth metropolitan area with cars constantly wizzing by since the sun came up. I'm eager to head to my mystery destination in the desert, but I'd probably regret not seeing my friends and I don't want to hurt their feelings.
It's really nice out. Maybe I'll take a cruise on the bike later and see if I can track down a couple of them. The musician (for the record, I don't like calling my friends according to labels like nurses, actors, etc., but I want to preserve the anonymity of this blog) has a regular gig at the Piano Bar in downtown LA. It's a popular, funky little place, but it often gets too crowded to move, let alone dance, then he has a fancy show for a local radio station Sunday night. He's the most organized of the three and always gives me his itinerary for a few days when I'm in town. He didn't hesitate to inform me that there will be a lot of super hot women at both events. The truth is the only reason I'm here is to see my friends. I don't care what we do, but I can't expect them to put their lives on hold whenever I randomly roll into town. I love them, but we're not that close anymore.
Stopped to visit some friends in Ventura on my way down the coast and seeing as it's a much smaller city than LA, but bigger than SLO, I was able to get some really cool tires for my truck (4 for the price of 1 new one -woohoo!) and a nice guitar on craigslist before plunging into the congestion that is one of America's largest cities. They are a challenge for me to take in and what I've realized over the years is that I take in more than I choose to which is probably one reason why I'm a free spirit.
Man, I re-read my last entry as I often do to fix typos and grammatical errors and, geez, that was far from as organized as a shop manual. Too much personal info mixed in with socio-philisophical theory. I need to be more organized when using this blog if it's going to be for two purposes, 1. as a way for me to process info and experiences on a personal level and 2. a way to present new building blocks of ideas for other like-minded people to use. Maybe I'll use a different font for each. I don't know. I'll figure it out.
May 26, 2016, Happy Birthday Marlon!
There was so much traffic on the 1 that according to google maps it would have taken me an hour and a half to go 19 miles so I waited til nightfall, loaded the motorcycle back onto the trailer and drove into the city when things died down a little. Heard from mr.Model. Sadly, a good friend of his passed away and he was busy organizing a memorial tribute. Parked in quiet neighborhood around the corner from his place, unloaded the bike and road into downtown to catch mr.Music's gig. He was one of the first to rock the cajon (a Spanish box drum) in LA. He came across one in Spain, years ago, on a film shoot he was on.
I have to admit that I got kind of a kick out of cruising down Hollywood Blvd. on my beat up old motorcycle with Maine plates. I was there for a while before he looked up and noticed me standing just to his left bopping up and down. We both just busted out laughing. It wasn't super crowded yet, but still not a lot of room to dance so I just bounced in one spot til they were done with their first set and we hung out outside on the sidewalk to get some fresh air.
It was standing room only for the second set so I just chilled in the courtyard. We hopped in his new whip and grabbed some late night burritos at his favorite taco truck. He dropped me back at my motorcycle and I was in my trailer by 4am. These city boys keep late hours. I told him that I'd probably pass on his fancy rooftop gig and go to the memorial our friend was organizing. He said he'd try to swing by after his show.
Put in some long hours at the tribute just in case my friend needed any help with the audio/visual stuff or just setting up and tearing down. Got to see my third LA buddy there along with a handful of other friends I've met over the years visiting them. Mr.Model and the others responsible for making the night happen did a great job and there was definitely a prevailing positive message with everyone who spoke or performed which I'm sure was especially appreciated by the mother of the man who passed away who had traveled from Ohio to be there. Her son was a prolific playwright and gave a start to countless talented actors.
Mr.Music was able to show up around midnight as the event was ending and we all hung out on the sidewalk for a few minutes, but mr.Model had a long few days with a lot of personalities and technical difficulties to contend with so we agreed to try to connect tomorrow. Remind me to never ride a motorcycle on the 405 at night (or the day for the matter). It's 4 lanes wide of ruts and uneven pavement. Things fell into place and we spent the day at the beach just being friends.
Sent: 6:41pm, Wed, May 24, 2016
Hey guys, just want to say how much I enjoyed hanging at the beach with you 2. Beautiful day spent with historic (another word for old ) friends. Simple pleasures. Just wanted you both to know how much i truly enjoyed and appreciated it. 'Freespirit' wish you godspeed on your journey. Safe travels. Looking forward to hearing where you take it to. Ok fellas. Be well. Love you both!
Sent: 7:27pm, Wed, May 24, 2016
Hey man again, yesterday was one of the classics for my memories of us being boys and men. It goes in there with the days of filming "The Righteous Path" , the night in the back of Mutual listening to The Main Source and mornings showing footage in Harvey's class. MADACH MEMORIES. I'm happy, lucky and fortunate to have you guys in my life. LOVE AND PEACE!
Doesn't get much better than that.
June 2, 2016, the Southwest, United States.
Haven't written in a while. There's been a lot to digest. After leaving LA, I headed east out into the desert. I wanted to visit what's been called "the last free place on earth." Originally, I was considering heading to some BLM land (Bureau of Land Management) because I've been told that you can camp there for free which sounds a little too good to be true, but even if it was true driving out to the middle of nowhere and spending a lot of time by myself while working on my trailer didn't seem like the best thing for me, right now, which is why driving out to the middle of nowhere where there's a lot of people living seemed very intriguing.
It's somewhat of a secret place. There have been a few articles written about it and it's appeared in a few movies, but regardless, I'm still not going to mention the name. One of the major problems, if not the number one problem, on the planet is that there are too many people. I don't know why this never gets talked about or why more people don't realize it, but it's true. There's simply too many of us consuming the planet's resources and making a mess of things. 100 people can only do so much damage to an area. 100 million can obliterate it. It's that simple. So ya, I'm not going to contribute to ruining whatever special places there might be left if I can help it.
I arrived here in the late afternoon last Thursday. Once I decided to check this place out anticipation began to build up in my head over the last couple weeks added to being eager to get here before the summer temperatures arrived. I had no idea what to expect. Well, considering all the traveling I've done and places I've been especially considering my interest in alternative living and places off the beaten path, I guess I did have somewhat of an idea of what to expect, but there's one thing life has taught me. You never know until you get there. Whether or not I had a good idea, passing the sign on the dirt road as I drove onto the land was a little intense. Trying to describe it on a literal level seems petty and neurotic, but I'll try.
It's the desert. Hot, dry and fairly flat. A distant mountain range fences the horizon. A large acidic lake can be seen in the distance. I toured the area. It was like driving through a junkyard that people in old campers, buses and rv's have made a home in. I'm told in the cooler winter months thousands of people live here, but, now, only about 200, but that's a guess. There's no electricity, no water and no laws. I suspect in the past this would be less of an issue for me when I traveled with just a backpack that I could hide anywhere I wanted, but traveling as comfortably as I do, now, (it's all relative) the high possibility of theft makes me apprehensive to leave any of my things unattended for very long. As I type I can literally here bombs that shake the ground going off in the distance. There's a military training base a few miles across the scorching sand from here. Contributing to the reason along with a number of other reasons why people here are left alone and "normal" tax, rent and mortgage paying Americans who do know that this place exists don't really care that a person can live here for free because it basically comes down to a general consensus that no one in their right mind would want to.
When it was all said and done, I picked a highly visible spot loosely between two other "sites" on the south eastern perimeter of the settlement, one a couple hundred 100ft to my left and the other a few hundred yards to my right, with endless desert everywhere I looked which will make for very nice sunsets. After I parked in the soft sand, which I almost got stuck in, a four-wheeler wizzed by in the wash below that surrounded the area and the driver and passenger seemed intent on what I was doing. I pulled out the motorcycle and unhooked the trailer when the sound of a four-wheeler, again, caught my attention and I scanned the desert to see where it was coming from. Behind a small group of bushes, I could see a shirtless man sitting on an idling atv looking in my direction. I made no secret of the fact that I saw him, too, and stopped what I was doing staring right at him. I could see that this made him uncomfortable. He rolled slowly out from behind the bushes trying to play off like he wasn't watching me, but he knew that I had caught him so, now, he had to decide what he was going to do. Slowly, stopping every ten feet to reconsider, he approached. I stood there with my arms crossed as if to say "Here I am." He stopped about 100ft from me and looked back in the direction of an assortment of old campers and run down RVs that scattered the area behind him and raised his arm which was holding a beer as if to motion to someone watching him, but I knew this was a bluff. There was no one watching him. He just wanted me to think there was. If anyone was watching him, he never would have been hiding nor would he have wrestled with the idea of coming over once I saw him. He would have just come straight towards me.
By the time we were done, though he did manage to cram people dying, theft and trouble with the law into a very short conversation, we were buddies and I gave him and my neighbor to my left a cold beer. I even offered to help him move a big camper that "his best friend" lived in until last week before passing away over to his area so he could go through it. I later decided to not get involved with this project having a suspicion that this wasn't the whole story and I didn't want my truck being associated with whatever the real story was. This kind of interaction was about the extent of my social contact here even after going to see some live music at the open mic that happens here every Saturday night on a large outdoor stage so by Sunday I was preparing to hit the road. It was still a worthwhile visit. I got a few projects done, practiced my guitar and more than anything I got to take a break from the road and just relax for a few days even if my surroundings were a little unnerving at times. Freedom is a very valuable commodity to me and I'd rather be free in a junkyard than trapped in the machine. And, it's not that bad. Some of the places were tidy and others were creative. There was a hostel, a library and even a Christian center which I visited on Sunday, but there was no service or pastor just on old marine who isn't afraid to throw down to protect his things. Though I can hold my own in unusual situations just fine and I know ways to make the 105 degree (and climbing) heat more manageable, I think the combination of the two was what tipped the scales in favor of moving on.
Then something I only secretly hoped for happened. It took pushing myself out of my comfort zone to initiate it. As much as I like traveling and seeing new places, I'm not much of a tourist and, in fact, often avoid popular attractions, but before I left I decided to follow the signs that led to a place within the settlement with an interesting name (sorry, not going to tell this either). It turned out to be an artist colony started by a man ten years ago who took what had been previously used by the other people living here as a dumping area and turned the trash, cars and campers into giant art sculptures as well as a place to live. It was like walking through a Tim Burton movie. It was completely open to the public sun up to sun down and included an outdoor bowling alley, putting green, adult sized sea-saw and countless sculptures and art installations, ya know, the kind Mad Max would build. There was a private area separate from the "art garden" as they called it where the residents lived, but it was clear that people were not invited to enter and I didn't see anyone who looked like they were associated with the place on the public side though I could see figures moving around and voices coming from behind the giant makeshift walls of mattress springs and wine bottle mortar. Since arriving a few days ago, keeping to oneself and not making eye contact seems to be the policy here so not wanting to invade anyone's privacy I hopped on my mountain bike and pedaled back to my rig. Later in the day, I decided that I was being a wuss, googled the name of the artist colony, found their website and sent them a polite email. Within a couple hours I received a reply encouraging me to come back and introduce myself.
I've been staying with them for 4 days, now, and it's easily in the top 10 most magical and interesting places I've visited in all my travels. I've made friends with both residents and other travelers, finished wiring the brake lights in the truck of one of the residents here last night, fixed the hood and helped a guest from London (who's now a friend) get his antique Jeep running, went for a midnight dip in the nearby hot springs with a group of Australian girls (clothing optional), floated down miles of canal that borders the area to cool off with my new English friend who I may help restore a barn and farm in Sicily that he's trying to purchase. My new photographer friend who jumped from the top of a water tank into the hot springs the other night wants me to come visit him in LA when I leave here. The list goes on. I haven't decided when I'm leaving, yet. I might stick around and give a ride to one of my new resident friends who's returning to LA soon.
Very unfortunately, the man who started all this passed away suddenly in his mid-forties so his friends and other like-minded people have been trying to keep it going and growing...and they are. The present care-takers are supposed to return soon (yesterday) and the resident whose truck I re-wired thinks I should stay and meet them. This place is exactly what I was looking for, but I'm not sure it's the place for me. The heat's almost unbearable, the crime element still exists and I kind of stick out. Though we all have the same positive vibe, I look pretty different from everyone else. I feel like a yuppy at a dead show. My clothes, truck, and trailer seem a little too normal. This is kind of rare for me because I usually feel like someone who's too different in a group of normies rather feeling too normal in a group of eccentrics BUT I'm pretty sure the only person who could or would have a problem with this is me. Big surprise. I think I've already earned my worth with those here as I'm eager to help, clean up after dinner, offer rides, etc. They even gave me one of their rare sought after t-shirts. I'm not bragging. I just haven't been this excited about feeling welcome somewhere in a very long time.
I've got a few little projects to do, today, and then I'll most likely decide when/if I'm leaving tonight when it cools down to the 80's. It's 114, right now, and I think my laptop is going to melt.
June 5, 2016, Sunday, Cayucos, California
So where do I go from here and how do I get there? Well, the times of throwing caution to the wind and riding on sheer luck are over as tempting and exciting as this is. Been there, done that, many times with no regrets, but it's time to be more calm and calculated. I'm fighting an invisible enemy. It's subtle and pervasive. Human beings have taken over this planet and thought has taken over human beings. We are thought addicts and that addiction devours everything around it. We used it to conquer our surroundings, but, now, it is conquering us. We are possessed and obsessed by thought. Though we are still living breathing animals, we are turning into mindless computers and these two things contradict each other and are unreconcilable.
I am not a computer. I am an animal, but, yes, at times I have been victim of thought as much as anyone else. When I finally realized this after enough suffering, I put a stop to it. Our minds are amazing machines. The human mind is like a computer, but a computer is indifferent. It is only a tool and a tool is only as good as the person using it. What are we using these amazing machines for; to help each other, to spread love, to care for the Earth and for one another? There have been many science fiction movies, books, games, etc. about computers taking over the world. I realize these stories are make believe, but we need to consider this scenario in a different way. The computer we should be afraid of taking over the world is the one already taking over our lives. It is our own minds.
Just because something makes sense doesn't make it true. Our minds are masters at tricking us into believing things that are not true. Sometimes life doesn't make sense, but our minds constantly need it to or it won't leave us alone. It is the only way it knows how to be, but we are not our minds and the only way we can truly be who we are is to be able stop our minds in order to just be. My hammer does not hop out of my tool box and run around my job site asking "What can I do? What can I do? Give me something to do!" How annoying would that be, not to mention unproductive? Our minds will not rest until something makes sense to it. It doesn't need for it to be true. It just wants an answer then it is happy, but this type of happiness is fleeting. We will never be happy or at peace if we let our minds lead our lives. They are just tools.
Ok, before I dig any deeper down this rabbit hole. I want to make one thing clear. This is not some big dramatic problem. It is simply the time in human history where we are, right now. This is simply a stage in our maturity. It's part of our education. I used to think I needed to save the world. I thought I was smart, talented and ambitious enough to make a difference, but what I was really doing was letting my mind create a scenario where I could feel like I mattered because that's what the mind wants so desperately to do, matter, but mattering and belonging are not the same thing. What I really wanted all this time was not to matter. I've had hundreds of chances to matter, but deep down inside I knew that wasn't the answer. What I've always wanted was to belong. This is what my heart needed. I knew without a doubt that I belonged to the Earth and I've tried to live my life as close to it as I could in such a crazy day and age, but where I have felt torn is how to belong to people in this same way when I haven't been able to find anyone who wants to belong to the earth the way I do.
Because I found my true self by listening to my heart and spirit, not my mind, this is where my loyalty was galvanized. I had to leave home to do it. I had to leave my family, my upbringing, my "career path". As I began to find myself, again, I remembered how I was when I was a child before I learned how to not be myself. Again, this is not as dramatic as my ego would like to make it out to be. I say this, again, to remind myself so I don't get sucked into its self-centered tricks. The mind and the ego are partners while my heart and my spirit are what I really want to serve. I imagine a salmon fighting its way up a stream not by a thought or an idea, but by a force of nature. Every ounce of it's being serving this one singular goal. This is what I've been trying to let lead me and what a journey it has been. This is all I have to offer. I have no fancy answers or solutions. This is just one story of one soul compelled to find its way home. I was born in an artificial mind-made world, but the natural one is right outside my door. It's right there waiting. I can walk outside and touch it. The only thing keeping me from it is my mind. If I stay in the artificial world, it will constantly reinforce all the bad thought patterns I was taught that infiltrate our culture. If I go let go of that world and the fear that it uses to keep us in it and keep trying to learn from the natural one, I just might find my way.
I left the desert wrestling with the idea of connecting with friends in LA, but I was eager to prepare for Alaska. I often have to remind myself that most people have things like work and a place to live nailed down in their lives so seeing friends and socializing is always an added bonus for them, but if I don't have these things in place for myself socializing can feel like a distraction. Utah will have to wait until next season. It's getting too hot down there and spending over 2k for the class doesn't seem as attractive as spending about $600 to travel someplace new where I can find a job and make money. I used to say "I just want to check out this one last place and then I'll decided where I'm going to live" and then another place would always pop up and peak my interest, but I've run out of places in the lower 48. Alaska and Hawaii are all that's left probably because I can't exactly walk to one of them and the other is so far away. I actually turned down a job to manage an organic farm in Hawaii this winter and maybe in the next couple years I'll make it out there for a visit, but early June feels like a great time to check out the wildest, coldest place in the U.S.
The desert artist colony was an amazing experience. It was fascinating to see what happens on a socio/psychological level when people are left alone to live however they want. Granted the type of people living there are a very small cross-section of the American population, but they are still people and it was an important learning experience. The trash, the heat and the condition a lot of the dogs were living in throughout the larger community was hard to accept. I'm sure there's animals in all parts of the country living in sub-standard conditions that people will never know about, but witnessing it everyday and not being able to do anything about it is disturbing. I like the freedom and creativity that existed there especially at the artist colony. I just want to apply in balance with living more in harmony with nature not as just an escape from our out of balance economic system.
The present managers of the artist colony didn't arrive while I was there so my new friend who lived there couldn't leave, yet. I touched base with my new and old friends in LA on my way through the city, but decided to keep on heading north. Took my nurse friend and her son ...and their dog for a paddle in my kayak, yesterday, in the comfortable 75 degree Morro Bay weather. It was good to be in a familiar place and they had fun. I think it was a first for all of them. We came upon a group of over 30 seals basking in the sun on the marsh at the mouth of the creek we were floating down. We were quiet to slip pass them without disturbing them, but after we had they still decided to plunge into the bay which was exciting to see. The tide was going out and they wouldn't have much water left to swim in had they waited much longer.
Drove up the coast a little ways and parked by the ocean this morning. It's still a little surreal to feel the cool breeze and to need a sweatshirt when a day ago it was so hot that I couldn't walk barefoot in my little kitchen because the floor would burn my feet. I'm not sure what to expect in Alaska. It's a long way to go, but if I'm going to make a transition from doing typical blue collar work into something else like wilderness guide work, I feel like I have to go there.
June 13, 2016, Monday, the Yukon Territory, Canada
I parked in the very nice little city of Whitehorse, Yk, last night. Still haven't gotten used to it being light out at 1am. I stopped there because it's near the junction of two Alaskan highways, rte.1 which will take me to Anchorage and rte.2 to Juneau. I deliberated quite a bit about whether to head for Anchorage which is over 1000km deeper through the interior of largest state in the union or check out Juneau which is along the southeast coast, first, and I could be there in a couple hours. In the end I figured that I might as well be thorough rather than wonder what it might be like in a place that I skipped along the way so I'm parked just up the road from the US border that will take me to Juneau as a bald eagle literally soars above my truck as I type this. The sun is out, not a cloud in the sky, there's a lake just below the turn-out I'm parked in and across the lake enormous snow capped mountains stand like guardians of this land. It's the warmest day I've experienced since crossing the border into Canada last Friday. I could drive into Alaska, right now, but I'm going to wait until tomorrow so when people ask me "When did you get to Alaska?" I can say "On my birthday." It's my present to myself.
I didn't expect to fall in love with this part of the world as much as I already have. In a way, I feel like I'm on a different planet where people are a minor after thought and nature is number one. Stating it this way, it's obvious why I love it here so much. Bravo to Canada for keeping such a clean country! There's no trash anywhere along the roads. I hope Alaska keeps up the same standard as it's beautiful neighbor. I thought I'd seen a few nice sunsets over the course of my life until last night when I saw an Alaskan sunset. I thought about pulling over to take a picture, but I knew it wouldn't do it justice so I decided to just savor it instead my heart in my throat. I know an unforgiving winter awaits in a few months if I stay, but in the back of my mind I keep asking myself the same question. "Could I finally be home?" Finally.
Member when I said "the time for throwing caution to the wind and rolling the dice to ride on sheer luck is over"? Well, so much for being calm and calculated, heehee. I said "Eff it" and hit the road. Yup, I admit it. I have issues. Duh, whattaya think this blog is all about? I was thinking about it yesterday more clearly than I ever have as a sadness crept in about what's going to happen when I reach the next major city. All the towns I've passed since crossing the border have been more like little settlements, not towns, none of them even coming close to competing with the staggering splendor of the natural world around them. It's as if God sprinkled a few people here and there across this gigantic landscape out of a pepper shaker with only one hole in it. The sadness came from seeing what humans have done to our planet when I've been surrounded by what it once looked like everywhere before we overtook it. It's been like going back in time. My father used to always tell me that I was born 200yrs too late.
Yesterday, I thought how no one could ever blame a deer that had been captured and kept in a kennel in the middle of a city for trying to escape any chance it got. Even if it meant running down the middle of a busy street in a panic who could blame it? A person could never explain to the deer that it's no use. "Trying to escape is no good. There's no place for you to survive here." It wouldn't matter. The deer would still run every chance it got desperate to get back to where it belonged regardless if it ever made it. I sat in my trailer in the middle of the small city, last week, I'd returned to from the desert full of anxiety and loneliness not knowing what I should do or work on next and the only thing that was going to make me feel better was to get the heck out of there. I couldn't take it anymore. I'd been there a few days and I tried to dot a few i's and cross a few t's before making a more clear headed decision, but what I finally accepted is that it's not my fault. I'm only human and I'm doing my best with what I have to work with and all I have to work with is me. I had a running working chariot to get me out of the hell I could feel myself sinking into and that's just what I did. I got myself out of there. I wasn't trying to avoid doing whatever work I need to do on myself or the things in my life. I am a very hard worker. I ran to escape the world that I do not fit in or feel good in alone. I decided that I'll get back to work when I get somewhere that's worth working on for me....so happy flippin' birthday to me.
Let's see what have I seen in the last couple days? Lots of black bears, full grown and little cubs running around like puppies, a moose wading in the water's edge of a vast lake, a big ol'porcupine walking down the road, coyote, bald eagles, an emerald lake, haven't seen a badge yet, but passed a road sign with a picture for badger crossing on it which is so cool. I wanted to pick up this guy hitch-hiking, but my instincts told me not to. I came real close though. He was across the street from the one pump gas station in the middle of nowhere I was filling up at. Instead of just pulling out and trying to rush the decision as I drove past him. I pulled over after fueling up to give my truck a rest, check my maps (seeing as I haven't had any cell reception, gps or internet for days) and pretend like I was talking on the phone while I kept my eye on him. I've done my share of hitch-hiking, way more than most, and believe there's a few things you can do to improve your odds. He wasn't doing any of them.
1. Look people in the eye when they drive by to show them that you have nothing to hide
2. Look presentable. People are deciding whether they want you in their vehicle. Even if you've been on the road a while there are still things you can do to make yourself look respectful like tuck in your shirt, wash your hands and face, etc.
3. Walk. Look like you're willing to help yourself instead of just asking others for help.
Like I said he wasn't doing any of these things and his body language wasn't helping either. Slow, sluggish and sloppy doesn't win any points with me. Then he picked up his stuff and I thought maybe there was hope for him, but instead he walked across the street back to the gas station, dropped his stuff in the dirt and went inside. For a second, I thought maybe he was coming over to ask me where I was headed. I would have given him props for that seeing as I'd considered walking over to him to ask him the same, but nope. I wanted to help him, but I just didn't have a good feeling. I started the truck and pulled out and about a mile down I saw a big blue canister on the side of the road. I had seen it in the back of the truck of some people who had left the gas station as I was parked there. At the time, I thought to myself that it was probably full of nice fishing rods. I pulled over and picked it up, but didn't open it. 5hrs later as I pulled into the little town of Teslin to get gas I saw the old man who had been driving that truck and waved him over. I pulled out the canister and carried it over to him. He and his grandson where on there way to Alaska from Minnesota to do some camping and fishing. He didn't even knew it had fallen out. We shook hands and he thanked me. I went inside to see if the little general store/motel had wifi so I could check in with the rest of the world for a few minutes and maybe line up some job interviews. As I was walking back out to get my computer, he found me and gave me a 20 dollar bill to thank me, again, so I bought myself a hot cooked meal with it. My first one in a long time.
I've been living on bagels and water to save what little money I have left until I find some work when I get to where I'm going. Apparently, Canadian gas stations have a little trouble running America debit cards, but even when the charge doesn't go through each time you swipe it even though the card reader says "declined" Bank of America still withdrew that amount from my checking account. It's happened 8 times in the last three days totaling over $400 which is a lot to someone who needs that money for gas. I called them three times from pay phones (luckily Canada still has them -can't remember the last time I saw one in the States), but it still hasn't been fixed yet another reason why heading to Anchorage with a 150 bucks to my name hopping the issue gets resolved before that money runs out is probably not a good idea. You can run on luck, but you shouldn't bank on it.
I'm glad that I have a little time to write before tomorrow. There's still plenty that's happened to catch up on. I suppose I'm a little scared. I should be. Maybe writing here appeases it a little giving me the false impression that I'm not alone. Regardless, I don't really have a choice. This is the hand I've been dealt. One could argue that I chose this life. It wasn't dealt to me and they'd be right, but what I have no choice in is what I was born. I've just chosen to stay true to it. Other people choose to live the way they do whether they believe they have a choice or not. Denial is simply not an option for me. I can't live like others live. You can't serve two gods. Nevertheless, the abyss still waits for me every morning and for some reason it's worse after a nap which I'm about to take. Wish me luck.
July 14, 2016, Kenai, Alaska
Time has become quite the commodity. It's almost noon and I just woke up. It never gets dark so the traditional sense of day and night is absent. I usually get out of work around 2am and I go back in a few hours later. I won't live like this forever, but I rolled into town on fumes, literally. That first town wasn't right for me so I drove another 900 miles with what little funds I had. I keep a spare jug of gas in my truck in case of an emergency and if I didn't have it I would of run out on my way here so I was so I was relieved to find the work. I arrived early on a Saturday morning and landed this job by that evening and have worked everyday since. That was three weeks ago.
It's been yet another sociological example of how something can become normal for working class people which is completely unnatural and unhealthy. I love it here (Alaska) and even though the honeymoon of reaching my destination and entering this seemingly other world a month ago has worn off a little, rolling the dice to get here may have been one of the best decisions I've ever made. I am going to need a day off pretty soon though. I get my first paycheck tomorrow. Who decided it was acceptable to pay people every two weeks (which means 3 wks when they start) or even once a month? Oh right, it's more convenient to payroll companies and banks.
I'm running a crane on the dock of a fish buying company. When I'm not on the crane, I'm running a forklift picking up 1000 lb. totes of ice and fish or driving a skiff taking the salmon fisherman out to their boats. Regarding work experience, the manager is probably still scratching her head a little how I came out of nowhere and walked into the position, but I am competent in all aspects of the job and have become a vital component of the operation. The downside for me is my wage is literally laughable ($12/hr). How any company in America can justify paying a person this amount and expect the person to able to function in society is completely unacceptable yet it goes on everywhere and for even less money let alone that in this case it's happening in a state where the cost of living is higher here than anywhere else I've ever lived and I've lived in a lot of places. When I left my last job running the truck for the lighting company I was making $40/hr even though the temp agency I had to go through was getting a lot more (another American scam) and he would have paid me more if I had stayed. Comparing the two jobs is ridiculous. That job was exceedingly easier than the one I am doing, right now, which is yet another example of how unbalanced and unsound our economic system is. These are not complaints, just observations.
Aside from the money, I don't think I've ever been happier. I will sit down with the manager after I get paid this week and tell her that I'm going to need to get paid more, now, that I've proven myself. I already planted that seed when we were talking while walking around the dock having our casual interview when we first met. I told her that I don't like to show up somewhere and claim I'm worth a certain amount. I'd rather prove it and I have. If she can't do it there will be no hard feelings, but I'll have to move on. Fear is what makes a person keep a job that isn't just or healthy for them...another vital component of our system. I will not live in fear.
On a cool note, a lot of the fisherman and dockworkers live at the boat yard in campers, rv's or on their boats. The salmon season only lasts about two to three months so it makes more sense to live where you work and work as much as you can during that time. My lifestyle and way of traveling was a custom fit for this operation though I stick out a little with my shiny new trailer and clean truck. Some of the "accommodations" are a little rough around the edges. The fishermen who have nicer boats and do very well do not live here. I've overheard a few conversations that mention drugs and a lot of drinking, but I still prefer the working class crowd to the white collar world. They're more loyal and speak from the heart. I haven't worked on a farm in almost a year so it's been a long time since I had permission to be somewhere while working so I couldn't be happier.
It'd be nice to have a little social company. All work relationships, like any other type, after a few weeks reach a point that healthy communication is required which most people have never learned so you reach a threshold. Healthy communication needs to be taught, but it is not part of our school curriculum like reading and arithmetic is, despite the fact that communication is absolutely necessary to live a healthy life. Interesting. We've had a couple meltdowns at work and pressure from many angles is building as it gets busier. I simply rise above it and smile or become instrumental in resolving it. This isn't my first rodeo and one thing my life has taught me is how to communicate effectively. I've even taken a number of courses in NVC (non-violent communication) because I love being on good terms with people. I think everyone should. Everyone who doesn't want to live in fear, that is.
Well, I've been writing for an hour and I need to hop on my motorcycle (rocking flip flops and board shorts) which luckily had plenty of gas in it when I got here, cruise over to the library because I had to cancel my wifi until I get paid, upload this, apply for a few other jobs to give myself a plan B, grab some lunch before jumping back into the trenches.
August 15, 2016, Kenai, Alaska
I made it through the summer. Another town, another job and maybe a new life awaits. At least, I think it's summer. Everything sort of blends together after working everyday for so long, but today was my last day working on the dock. I didn't know it was going to be, but the salmon season is just about over. Most of the workers have moved on or been let go except for a few of us so I knew it would be soon just not this soon. I nailed down a winter job last night so the timing was practically perfect. I started looking weeks ago and have had a few offers, but kept looking and yesterday when inquiring about a potential job I stumbled upon an opportunity that seems to be even better.
Tomorrow, I'll change the oil in the truck, go by a local junk yard and pull the driver's side window out of any early to mid 2000's model Chevy truck seeing as they all have the same body style because I haven't had a minute to replace mine since arriving. The temporary plexi-glass window was a great temporary fix, but I'm not going to show up to a new job with a broken window and with all the rain the end of the summer brings along with the colder weather not far off I need to take advantage of the free time I have and get it done then pack up, load the motorcycle, hook on the trailer and head 9hrs north to Fairbanks. I told my new "boss" -don't like that word, that I'd be finishing up here on Wed. even though today's Monday because I need a minute to catch my breath before obligating myself to be at someone else's beckon call after being so indispensable to this operation for so long. I want to tune the truck up, as well, which might take half a day and I don't want to have to frantically get it done. Life's too short to hurry when you don't need to.
Bumped into Tony a guy who was fired from the dock a few weeks ago after getting into a fight with another worker as I was walking to my motorcycle in the Safeway parking lot this evening. He's been staying in a tent someone gave him in the woods after leaving the shelter because of a disagreement with a lady who works there. He was wearing glasses, today, which I was happy to see because he was always squinting at work because his vision is so bad. It broke my heart to see a young strong looking guy cling to the railings and pylons around the dock as he tried to work because he was afraid he might fall in the river and can't swim. He was still having a tough time when I saw him, today, and one thing he mentioned was that his phone had broke so I rode back to the my trailer and grabbed one of my old cell phones, one that I knew would work up here, and gave it to him. I knew that the guy he got in a fight with was a hot head, but had more friends there than Tony which is why he got fired instead of the other guy. I was friendly with both of them, actually. Just hated to see someone who was so down on his luck lose his job over a stupid argument. One could say that we reap what we sew and there's some truth to that. He does seem to get into arguments with people often, but when he was talking at work one day about how he's from Oregon and doesn't know anyone up here, I guess I developed a soft spot for him because I know what that's like. Wish I could've done more for him, but I'm on my own, too.
The company that I just finished with was one of the worst companies I've ever worked for. It got so bad that I contacted a lawyer and emailed OSHA midway through the season just to learn what my rights as an employee are which aren't much after a drunk captain of a 100foot company-owned vessel berated me for not operating a skiff to his satisfaction while he tried to drop anchor in the river while simultaneously docking the boat to the pier in the middle of the night all by himself while being completely intoxicated. A taxi cab had dumped him off at the end of the dock. I had driven him down river to the vessel in the skiff assuming he was just going to sleep it off on the boat, but instead minutes later he was motoring the giant steel tender back to the dock and I had to use the skiff like a minature tug boat to keep the vessel pushed against the dock while a couple other guys tied it up. After standing up for myself, I was told that I should probably go home for the night by the son of the owner of the company (it was about 10pm) so I carefully reminded him that he was not my boss. I'd received two raises by then and was making the same amount as he was which was something I didn't have the heart to tell him, but I'm sure it would have infuriated him even more as he proceeded to call me the "b" word and the "m-f" word over and over as he demanded that I get in my truck and haul my trailer out of there and never come back because his "effing" family owned the company. It all back-fired when I calmly did not leave nor return his insults, but stated that I was there to work just like everyone else so he stormed up to the manager's camper, woke her out of bed and tried to get her to make me leave which she refused to do. It was not my intention, but he was humiliated even though I was the one who had been insulted by two other employees. Later that night, I even tried to help him as he struggled lining up the crane to unload some equipment off the big vessel that had just been docked by the drunk captain, but he wouldn't accept it. And, that was just one day at work this summer. The manager pulled me aside a day later and apologized for what had happened acknowledging that I was the only one who had not done anything wrong and if her hands weren't tied she would have fired the owner's son earlier in the summer for an incident that didn't involve me. I made sure I was never disrespected, again, and finished the season (even longer than the owner's son who quit one day) without anymore incidents, but it was mentally and emotionally exhausting to be constantly on my guard 12hrs/day ever day knowing the company I worked for would not protect me. At least as the season slowed down my shifts were reduced to normal 8hr shifts except for when they really needed me.
In a day or two, I'll be moved into my own off-the-grid cabin in the middle of the wilderness for the winter and working with Alaskan Huskies and puppies helping train them for the next Iditarod and Yukon Quest the two longest sled-dog races in the world for the man who has won both more than anyone else in history. I didn't let on that I didn't know who he was, but I guess he's kind of famous. We talked on the phone for quite a while last night and seems pretty down to earth. Not a bad transition. If I want to compete and qualify next year, he'll even pay the $20,000 entrance fee for me to race the following year. Not sure I'll be interested in all that, but it seems like a pretty unique opportunity...and I'll be getting lots of exercise something I'm starving for after standing around running equipment all summer not to mention I'll be filling the void of not having a dog in my life since my buddy of 14yrs died last spring. Tomorrow's a brand new day and I'm free.
August 17, 2016
Planned on working on the truck, but spent yesterday cleaning and doing laundry. It was much needed and somewhat therapeutic. Changed the oil and replaced the window, today. The junkyard wasn't a pick-n-pull so I had to pay more than I planned to for the window because they pull the part for you, but it was still half of what I'd pay if I went to a dealership ($120 vs. $240). I'm sure there are more junkyards in Anchorage (3hrs away) seeing as it's the biggest city in Ak that might be the self-serve type and I could've checked around tomorrow when I pass through there on my way to Fairbanks, but it was simpler to take care of it, today, and be ready to hit the road when I leave here. The sled dog outfit is eager for me to get there.
It's been raining a lot lately and I'm sitting by the fire in my trailer. I don't have time to tune-up my truck. That'll have to wait until I'm settled in at my next job, but I have a feeling it's going to be a place where working on your own truck is appreciated. My new boss invited me to go to a racetrack with him tomorrow if I make it there by 4. I thanked him, but explained I take it pretty slow when hauling my trailer and probably wouldn't arrive by then. I felt a little bad. I like working on my own vehicles, but I'm not really into racing. Seems like a waste of fuel to me, but I'll keep my idealistic opinions to myself. That way of thinking has created a lot of hardships and heartache in my life. I don't have to agree with everything that other people do. I'm more concerned with how the dogs will be running over 1,000 miles in 9 days. I didn't make a lot of money this summer, but it's enough to relocate if things don't work out. Despite the lack of free time, I've learned a lot in the past few months and I'm eager to put it into practice. A cabin in the woods sounds like a good place to do this. Fingers crossed.
August 27, 2016, Perry Island, Alaska
I'm sitting by a big wood stove in a house off the southern coast of Alaska. I just got off work...at least I think I'm done for the day, but we'll get to that. This is the only house on the 12 sq.mile island. The rest of it is a state park. The house was built in the early 1900's so it was grandfathered in before the island became a park. There's something comforting about sitting by a fire. No matter where I am, no matter how I'm doing, sitting by a fire always makes it a little better. Time is, once again, a commodity, so I can't write a lot, but the short version is the sled dog gig was a total train wreck. The guy smoked a lot of marijuana maybe drank, too. I didn't stick around long enough to find out, but he did send me an unprovoked nasty email at 3am after I left that didn't make any sense so I'm guessing he was under the influence of something. His property was in complete disarray, junk and broke down vehicles everywhere, his dogs were starving and neglected, the place that I was supposed to stay in was full of bags of insulation, old mattresses and smelled like mouse piss. Could I have sucked it up and made the best of it? Probably, but why would I want to? I found this job in the meantime. If I take it I'd be living here alone on the island managing an oyster farm. I haven't decided, yet. It's 20 miles from the nearest port. I, also, just interviewed for a different sled dog gig and visited the place ahead of time. It doesn't pay much, but it was a nice place and the dogs were happy and amazingly well-behaved, quiet even, compared to all the other kennels I've visited this summer. I'd have a nice, clean, log cabin to live in, but he hasn't gotten back to me, yet. He said he would by Monday. Today's Saturday. They had a bunch of people interviewing for the position. Either way, my options are pretty good. Both have a few details that make them less than perfect, but I can't complain. Living on a beautiful island surrounded by snow capped mountains or in a log cabin getting to play with sled dogs all winter, either job would give me plenty of time to work on my book which I have to finish this winter.
August 30, 2016, Wasilla, Alaska, laundromat
Sometimes it's hard for me to see the purpose in writing when things are up in the air and uncertain, but if I don't make myself do it before too much time and too many events accumulate an urgency to "get there" begins to build. There is no "there." There is only now. I can't sacrifice being present in this moment to get somewhere in the future. I'll never make it to the future....even at 88mph with 1.21 gigawatts. I'm not saying that I want to break down on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with my whole life in tow, but I can't let the fear of breaking down in the middle of nowhere with my whole life in tow force me to become anxious. The only way to not live in fear is to face my fears every chance I get and have other people in my life who know what it's like to face theirs.
Let's seeee, finished my gig for the salmon season, did some cleaning and upkeep on the truck and trailer, high-tailed it up to Fairbanks, discovered that situation was a total train wreck, dogs starving and uncared for, not to mention trying to bite you if your turned your back on some of them, no well so water had to be trucked in from Fairbanks in the back of a pick-up once a week which I'm sure is a blast in 30 below weather and the building I was supposed to live in was going to need some serious cleaning and insulating. It was all "off the grid", but instead of solar panels or a wind turbine a small contractor sized generator blaired 24/7 which needed to be filled up with gas a couple times a day. I arrived on Sat. morning and he didn't get out of bed til 1 in the afternoon and then left shortly after that for the weekend to go race cars. I stayed for a day and left the following afternoon when he didn't return in the morning like he said he was going to. I was polite and professional. Even tried to address it all tactifully, but despite trying to keep a positive attitude it was futile. I left him a detailed list of things that I'd gotten done for him and even offered to do more before I left town, but told him that I thought it would be best if I checked out a few more kennels before making my decision for the winter and we parted ways civily... or so I thought, but then I got an unpleasant email from him sent around 3am. Took the high road and wished him well.
Sent out some more inquiries with other kennels this time making it clear ahead of time that I would not turn a blind eye to questionable animal care and actually got some great responses. Headed back down to the Anchorage area, checked out a farm that had called me a couple times this summer after I'd sent them an email. It was fairly nice, but I've already decided that I nolonger want to work a traditional job in the wintertime. I'm done trying to ignore the fact that I'm freezing my butt off while on someone else's schedule. Sled dogs (happy ones) on the other hand are a different story. Decided not to follow up with the farm president (it was a non-profit) who had called me, but it was good to know that if push came to shove and I had to take a regular job that it didn't look like a bad place to work. Also, heard back from and met up with a fisherman who owned an oyster farm and was looking for someone to run it which I've got plenty of experience with. Aquaculture, or mariculture, is a more sustainable form of commerical fishing. I grew up lobstering and as I got older and saw the number of regulations put on fisherman while the number of fisherman grew and grew all trying to catch whatever they could find in the ocean, I became interested in fisheries that focused own growning their own product rather than competing for what only mother nature could provide. The oyster farm was on an island in Prince William Sound and I would have my own two story house and be living in one of the most beautiful parts of Alaska that I've seen so far.
Even though for the first time in my life I had planned to do something fun for work like train sled dogs, with my interest and experience in aquaculture and the way the owner described the operation it sounded too good to not at least check out. Took the 4 hour boat ride out to the island with him and spent 4 days checking out the place and helping him clean up after the last caretaker/worker had left last spring without telling anyone and then helped him prepare for the Department of Natural Resources inspection which happens every two years. The rest out of the island is a state park and honestly like a fairytale. When it rained, waterfalls would appear on the mountain faces that surrounded the beach and come pouring down the rocks, but unfortunately the property that he leased from the state that the house and barn where built on was trashed with junk everywhere I looked, the workshop and barn in complete disarray. I've worked on many farms and have seen my fair share of cluttered workshops, cleaned up and organized the ones that I worked at. This one was easily one of the worst. Not sure how a person gets so much junk out to an uninhabited island 20 miles from the mainland. I was heart broken, but I sucked it up, did the dishes in the kitchen with a wash clothe that I probaly wouldn't use as a rag for my truck, put on a pair of work gloves and stuffed all the bedding from all the rooms into trash bags and stored them in the attic which was already overflowing with stuff. I made the mistake of not bringing my own sleeping bag so I slept in my work clothes with a few of the nasty blankets covering me from the mid-section down.
I don't get it. A person somehow manages to secure the right to live in such a paradise, a quiet secluded cove surrounded by snow capped mountains in the distance with the potential of establishing a sustainable aquatic farm and they trash everything they touch. I was sadden with disgust. Funny thing is he seems like a nice guy. He'd spent his boyhood summers here on the island with his father who had started the farm. People just have different values, I guess. He stayed on his boat which I will refrain from commenting on what it looked like while I stayed in the house. After a day of cleaning and leaving all the doors open it was a little more tolerable, but I'd still be embarrassed to have a guest visit if I lived there until I did a lot of work, painting and more cleaning of the place. It would take me weeks to cleaning up the tons of junk in the barn, workshop, attic and dispersed everywhere on the property and I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't get payed for it. In fact, I'd probably offend him by doing it. He was only offerring $1,000/month plus 20% of the oysters sales to boats that pass by (which I can't imagine amounted to much in such a remote location) and 10% of the wholesale sales brought into Anchorage at half of what he selled them for on the island. He was a shrimp fisherman for the most of the year so he needed someone else to run this operation, but hadn't had much luck the last few years...probably because a competent worker would never agree to work for so little. I told him that I wanted to follow through with a couple other interviews that I had already lined up before giving him my answer. He said that he had some other candidates, but that I was his first choice. He's heading back out on Thursday morning to try to salvage the opportunity that it will be Labor Day weekend and their might be some recreational boaters in the sound, i.e. customers. He made it a point to thank me for the four days I spent out there helping with him, but didn't pay me a dime which was not an encouraging sign.
On the flip side, despite the filth, I still managed to have a good time. Caught a silver salmon by hand in the tidal creek that winds behind the house. I saw the big coho swimming in the shallow water with the incoming tide so I jumped in to get between it and the mouth of the creek with all my clothes on while the fisherman grabbed a gill net out of a delapitated shed sitting on the marsh looking as if a giant had just dropped it there (it must have floated there in a storm). The net came in handy. I guess that's one of the perks of having stuff randomly left everywhere. We had the salmon for dinner. He took me for a ride in a small skiff into a hidden lagoon where countless bald eagles fished from above and sea otters fished from below. His fathered who has past away had started the beginnings of a pink salmon hatchery some forty years ago and every other year in keeping with their natural cycle they returned to this lagoon. We could see them congregating by the mouthes of the fresh water streams that emptied into the lagoon. It was wonderful. It was even warm enough during the day to go for a swim so I did... after changing out of my work clothes.
A sea plane glided in and landed out front of the house and the state officials hopped out, a man and a woman. They were pleasant and agreeable, but I could tell some of what they saw was a little tough to swallow, yet they never made it an issue. No offense to the guy, but I wish they would have. It would have given me hope that maybe the place could be saved if someone made him clean it up because I was still willing to be the one who actually did it. I wish they would have issued him some kind of warning about the junk, sunken boats, scattered gear on the marsh and littering the beach even on property that wasn't part of his lease, but it was all just a formality. Within an hour they flew off. We packed up shortly after never having done any actual work on the oyster farm and took the long boat ride back to the port town. The weather was beautiful and one of my biggest wishes came true about halfway back. The spray from blow holes appeared on the horizon in the mid-afternoon sunshine. Growing up on the east coast just north of Cape Cod, I've seen my fair share of humpback whales and their acrobatic breaches. It's something I feel very lucky to have readily seen throughout my life. I'm not a trust fund kid and have worked very hard for what little I have. My father was just smart enough to move out of the city before starting a family. We weren't rich, but the natural world that I had at my disposal made me rich in other ways that I'll always appreciate. Yesterday, the tall straight dorsal fin of a male Orca sliced through the ocean water as it surfaced in front of the boat. On the way out to the island, I had told the fisherman that I didn't mean to be anti-social, but the bow of a boat is one of my favorite places to be. As I was pearched on the roof of his 50ft shrimp boat orcas (killer whales) appeared on both sides of us patrolling the inland waters of the sound. I was in heaven....in awe. From what I have learned biologists have distinguushed two separate types of orcas, identical in anatomy, but very different in behavior. One group, the "killer" whales, which are actually the largest members of the dolphin family roam the planet like wolves hunting anything and everything they can eat including warm blooded mammals like other whales, seals, sea lions or anything else they can kill even sharks. The other group, orcas (though both types can be called by either name) reside in the coastal and inland waters of the northern hemisphere only feeding on fish. These were orcas. The fisherman told me that it's rare to see them here since the Exxon Valdez oil spill of the late 80's which desimated much of the sea life in the sound. Mother nature recovers over time, thank God. I even so a beluga in the Turnagain Arm, the body of water that the highway runs along, on our way back to Anchorage in his truck. What a weekend and I haven't mentioned one other very significant event that happened just before I left.
It's doubtful that I could work with him considering how messy and disorganized he is not to mention how little the job pays while asking such a big sacrifice of living alone on a remote island in the dead of winter for months at time. Still sounds pretty fun, actually, and a great place to write a book, but nevertheless potentially very dangerous if I was stranded out there dependent on someone who doesn't seem to have his act together. I haven't seen a running version of the boat he said that he would provide me with to get back to the mainland if I needed to, but it was still a positive experience. Standing on the shore of the island in the one spot that I got cell reception I spoke with the owner of a sled dog kennel back up near Fairbanks that I will be meeting with tomorrow. The job actually pays less, but from what he has shared with me his dogs are very happy and healthy and he's recieved 4 humanitarian awards in the sled dog world for their care, not to mention an Iditarod championship. Nowadays, he focuses on giving people recreational sled dog rides in the winter covering 7 to 8 miles (not 1,200) which is what I would be doing. Sounds like a fun way to spend the winter, I'd have my own cabin and plenty of time to write. We'll see.
But, the last thing that overflowed my cup on Thursday night before I left is something that I'm trying to not mess up. I don't want to make it into anything it isn't, but regardless it was still pretty special. I got to go on a date!!....with an attractive, outdoorsy, well-traveled, educated young lady! Confession time: I met her on okcupid. I'm not thrilled about that part. I kinda hate online dating, but I had to do something this summer considering my lack of free time and the fact that I don't know anyone in Alaska. More than anything it was a way to give my brain something else to think about other than grumpy fisherman when I was too tired to write after work before passing out and then going right back to work the next day, but recently with some free time available, instead of just browsing I actually sent this super cool interesting woman a message and before I knew it she agreed to meet me for a "drink". I prefaced this with the fact that I'm not a big drinker, neither is she, but it was too late to go for a hike by the time we got our schedules coordinated seeing as she had to work the next day and I was hopping on a boat the next morning not to mention I still needed to figure out where I was going to park my truck and trailer while I was gone so we decided to just meet up in Anchorage where she lived which was 45 minutes. Details details. A pretty girl was up for meeting me and I was going to make it happen. I parked my rig in a walmart parking lot which in Alaska are like concrete campgrounds, literally. People stay there for weeks, set up picnic tables, bump out their campers, unhook their boat trailers, one man even had a rug out front of his with the canopy extended while his dog, a friendly Chesapeake Bay retriever, greated anyone who passed by. I passed by a few times. Still miss being around a dog.
Alright, so I pulled it together, got cleaned up and made it down to the city just in time. Though she's lived all over the world, she's from Alaska and knows Anchorage well. She took me to a speak-easy. Didn't really know what that was, at first. We had to find a pay phone downtown, dial a certain number, the person on the other end gave us a secret password, we walked up a flight of stairs, down a hallway to a big steel door with a small sliding window in it, knocked, the window slid open, she said the password and the door opened. Speak-easies don't need to exist anymore since the sale of alcohol is nolonger illegal, but it was still fun. We only got one drink each, too busy talking, but the bill including the tip was over 30 bucks which I was happy to pay. It was definitely worth it. With each of our drinks a waitress came over and performed a litte presentation which included a blow torch and ingredients pounded and grounded up on the table in front of us. The night flew by. Ya know, one of those dates when the waitress keeps coming by to check on you and you keep answering with the same response "We're fine." It was that kind of night.
She seemed to be one of those women who has it all together and is content with herself and her life. Confident, but not self-centered. Just a calm impression that she doesn't need anything from anyone, but happy to spend time with people. I got the feeling that she came from money having gone to a private high school in Europe. I thought to myself that there was no way I was going to be able to impress her, not that I was trying to. I was just psyched to have an intelligent conversation with another person. The fact that she was an attractive lady was just a bonus so I genuinely listened to the things she had to say while, also, blocking out the question "Could she be the one? Could she be the one?" I'm such a sap. It was actually refreshing and a little unnerving to spend time with someone who didn't want or need anything from me compared to some of the energy vampires I had spent the last two months surrounded by on the docks.
We called it a night a little after 11. She had to work in the morning and I had to drive back to Wasilla, go grocery shopping and pack for 4 days, hook on the trailer then get up early, load the motorcycle before meeting the fisherman at 8, all of which I failed to mention to her. We walked down the sidewalk and discovered that we had parked next to eachother on the same street. Awwwh, hugged and said "Goodnight". It was a good hug. I'm used to getting the "It was really great to meet you" text within a half hour after a first date, but I did not get one nor did I send one, but I think it was understood by both of us. I did send her a quick email the next morning just to make sure she knew I enjoyed meeting her seeing as I wouldn't be able to contact anyone for the next 4 days and she replied with mutual appreciation. We were supposed to go for a hike when I got back this week, but I need to head 4.5hrs north tomorrow for the interview at the nice sled dog kennel so it might not happen. We've exchanged a couple long texts, but nothing with any sentimental overtures just humor and politeness which is fine....I think. I need to date women who challenge me and my self-confidence. It's good for me....but I don't like it, haha.
September 6, 2016, Perry Island in Prince William Sound, Alaska
I got the job! I got the job! Thank God. When I didn't hear from the owner by yesterday evening I was starting to worry and then after some thought I began to question whether I displayed enough outgoingness for them during my interview. I've worked with all types of animals from livestock on farms to horses to exotics at a private zoo and certainly have a lot of experience with dogs so I usually concern myself with competence, experience and the ability to take direction, ya know boring stuff, when meeting a prospective employer, but a big part of their business is tourism and I thought maybe they gave it to some pretty college girl with lots of bubbly energy who could do a better job entertaining their guests. I like people and I'm a very respectful person so basic customer service is no problem for me, but sales is not something I enjoy. But! later in the evening I got a voicemail and an email from the owner telling me the job was mine. Phew! This job on the island is starting to feel a little scary. I told him that I'd give him a week's worth of work while I wait to hear back from some other jobs. It would help him out and put a couple bucks in my pocket, but, now, I'm stuck here until Sunday and today's Tuesday. He told me that we'd be out here for about a week when we left last Thursday, but then he changed his mind or wasn't planning on telling me until we got here. Either way, there's nothing I can do about it, now, except suck it up and hang in here for 5 more days. My truck and trailer are parked at his house 7hrs away. I didn't bring enough for food for a week and half or enough clothes so I'll have to wash some of my clothes in the sink and dry them over the wood stove. There's all kinds of old nasty processed food in the cubard that I'll have to rummage through and find something edible. I'm not sure what I'm going to drink. I'm almost out of spring water, soy milk and juice. I found some cans of Coke this morning, broke down and drank one, today. He raved about the tap water in the house being really good, but when I was filling jugs of water to put in the freezer to make ice I could see that the water was far from clear not to mention that when we walked through the woods earlier so he could show me the makeshift damn he used to supply water for the house there were old blue tarps and junk floating in the little pound with no type of filtration system between there and the house. Um, no thanks. The place where I'm headed has three wells, a primary well for the house, a back-up well in the garage and one for my cabin. That's more like it. It's not like I'm going to be making a lot of money or anything, but I'll have a place to call home for the winter, plenty of time to write and get to run a team of sled dogs.
September 11, 2016, Wasilla, Alaska
*Prayers for all the family and friends of those who lost their lives on 9/11/01.
I had 10min to walk 6 blocks. The 70lb pack on my back was slowing me down a little and I didn't like how sweaty I was getting. As a general rule in life, I don't like to hurry so whenever I find myself hurrying unnecessarily I always stop and ask myself "why?" Sometimes on rare occasions we need to hurry, but more often than not we create the urgency in our minds. In this case, I was hurrying to catch the bus at the downtown Anchorage transit center, but I kept asking myself "What's the rush? It's 6:20 in the morning on a Sunday. You finished working one job last night and you don't start your next one for two weeks. Why in the world are you hurrying?" The bus was leaving at 6:30 and I was trying to make it there in time, but there was another one at 7:30 so why didn't I just slow down and catch that one? What was it about waiting one hour that I didn't like? In all these years of walking and backpacking I've tried to hone my ability to differentiate between eagerness and anxiousness because even though they feel very similar they come from two very different places, one positive, one negative. The idea is to figure out where the feeling is coming from and if it's from a positive place embrace it, but if it's coming from a negative place like fear my job is to identify it and face whatever the fear is then the anxiousness disappears. I've been practicing this for over 20yrs. I'll make a list in my head and go down it investigating each possible source of the anxiety until I find it.
I like pushing myself physically so as uncomfortable as the pack was it wasn't the weight of it that was making me hurry. Was it the fact that I just wanted to get "home" to my cabin on wheels and sleep in my own bed after the night I just spent in the woods which was actually more enjoyable than the filthy house I've been staying in on the island for the last week and half? Maybe, but there seemed to be something else driving me. Why would waiting one more hour make any difference? It wouldn't. I'd just kick back in a nearby park or someplace and enjoy the downtime. Maybe do some writing. The feeling was still there. Our instincts are always right, but our ability to interpret them as humans is fallible. This is why it takes practice and it is something I've devoted years to getting better at, but it's a process and rushing is completely counterproductive. I got to the bus station at 6:29am and by then I had uncovered what it was.
The guy who I offered to do some work for decided not to tell me until we were on the island that we weren't going to head back until Sunday rather than Thursday like he originally told me. We were a 4 hour boat ride from the closest port then a 2.5 hour car ride from his house where my truck and trailer were parked so there was really nothing I could do about it, at least, not until we got back to the harbor where he was planning on staying another night to go to some party. There was no way I was going to sleep on his boat. I've seen homeless people who live under cleaner living conditions. I put an ad on craigslist in the rideshare section last Wednesday when I found all this out offering $40 for gas to anyone who was headed to Wasilla from Whittier. I got a response from someone who could pick me up in Portage which was 12 miles away from the coast on the Seward Hwy. I hitchhiked from Whittier and got a ride just as the tunnel was opening to allow outbound traffic to exit the harbor. You can only leave Whittier on the hour and enter on the half hour because the tunnel that goes under the giant mountains separating Whittier from the mainland is only one lane wide, but I lucked out and got a ride just in time from "Jaga", a young Indian guy who had just moved to Alaska 7 months ago to work at one of the many airports in Anchorage and was just out doing some sight-seeing. Because of the mountainous terrain and lack of roads there are a lot more small privately owned planes in Alaska than in the lower 48. Jaga was in his 20's fresh out of college where he studied aircraft mechanics. I didn't hear back from the person that I was supposed to meet up with, but I didn't care. It was a beautiful sunny day and I was happy to be putting the situation I just left behind me so I grabbed a sandwich at the glorified rest area in Girdwood and stuck my thumb out, again. Jaga had already left, but I got another ride very quickly (didn't even get a chance to take my sandwich out of the bag).
A friendly tattooed stoner hopped out of the passenger seat of a beat up little compact car, took my pack and crammed it into the back over the toddler seat and the two barking dogs that were trying to get out. I went with it, but felt a little tinge of fear as I walked around the car to get in one the other side aware that at that very second they could have sped off with my stuff....but the sunroof was open so they would've had some company climbing in from overhead had they tried it, but shame on me for even thinking that. They were a couple of sweathearts and we ended up hanging out all night at a bar in Anchorage each of us taking a turn buying the next round. I had 4 whole beers which is a lot for me. They had driven in from Homer which is way down at the tip of the Kenai peninsula to pick up a friend at the airport in Anchorage who was arriving later in the night. It was her car and car seat and one of the dogs was hers. They ended up getting a hotel room and offered to let me crash on the floor, but it was time for me to move on. I wanted to give their friend some privacy who was traveling with her 5yr old son. A stretch of woods a few blocks away would suit me just fine especially with four beers in me and I was out like a light. I had brought my sleeping bag to work with me after I saw the state of the house I'd be staying in on the island so I was plenty warm.
So what was it that was making me anxious causing me to hurry? First of all, let me just say that the thought "I'm getting too old for this shit" did cross my mind as I was rolling out of my sleeping bag in the woods this morning. Standing at the transit center having made it there just in the nick of time, I discovered that the busses don't run on the weekends. Haha, that could have been the reason because I've traveled through so many cities over the years. When I woke up at 4am, packed up and made my way across the city in the dark, part of me might have subconsciously known that in smaller cities busses don't often run on the weekends, but this seemed like a stretch and thinking about it didn't allieviate the anxiousness. I did a bunch of looking online for alternative public transportation, but couldn't find any and I wasn't going to pay for a 40 mile cab ride so I posted another ad on cl and began walking out of the city before starting to hitchhike, again. I considered hiding my pack near my little campsite when I woke up this morning which would have made walking across town a lot more enjoyable, but I figured that I'd regret having to come back for it once I made it to my truck up in Wasilla. One thing I did decide was that I was going to treat myself to a nice hot sit down breakfast at the first diner I passed. I had only brought a week's worth of food with me to work on the island so I had to resort to living off kraft macaroni and cheese and coca-cola that I found in the cupboard for the last few days, but by the last day I refused, boiled a gallon of the less than clear tap water and lived on that and granola bars for the remaining time. I was definitely hungry.
Two eggs, bacon and a stack of french toast did me good at Peggy's on the edge of Anchorage. It started to rain while I was eating so I wasn't eager to hoist the giant brick of a backpack back on, but I really didn't have a choice. The last bus stop within the city limits was only a couple miles down the road at a mall so worst comes to worst I could camp out one more day somewhere nearby and catch the first bus in the morning. It did cross my mind to call the guy I had just finished working for to see if he was on his way back by now, but it's kind of sad to say that I'd rather deal with my current predicament alone than ask him for help. Call me stubborn or prideful, but luckily I didn't need to. Caught a ride from a cool guy in his 30's with a nice toyota pick-up who just found out that he didn't have to work this morning because of the rain (he installs artificial turf at playgrounds). He said that he saw me walking on his way in earlier this morning so on his way home he pulled over to offer me a ride before I even had a chance to stick out my thumb (gotta love the people in Alaska)...and he was going to Wasilla. We had a cool conversation about life, he drove me right to my truck and wouldn't take any money. We shook hands and wished each other well. It was a long morning, but it was only 10:30 and I felt ecstatic to be back at my rig.
Further down the driveway, I saw that the guy was already back, but sadly I had no desire to speak with him. For the last few days of work, I had taken charge of the situation and he was actually coming to me to ask what he should do next even though he was the owner, a grown man I'm guessing in his late 50's to early 60's. The place was so disorganized that it was embarrassing, a shame really. He wanted to hire me, but I told him that I had to pass, but would consider contacting him in the spring to clean the place up, install solar panels eliminating the need to run the giant prehistoric generator he uses and to manage the oyster farm, but it's doubtful he could afford to pay me anything close to something fair for the amount of work it would take to get all that done and more. He gave me a check for $300 for the ten days I'd just given him when we were parting ways in Whittier which is practically an insult, but I didn't say a word. Just offered to haul a bunch of stuff up to his truck for him while he stayed on the boat then I headed on down the road. There are times when you just have to look at a situation and cut your losses before they get any greater.
Backed my rig out of his driveway, drove a few miles into Wasilla and parked in a walmart parking lot along with a few other campers and rv's. It was as good a spot as any to stop for a minute and let out a big sigh of relief...and take a nap.
September 14, 2016, Hatcher's Pass, Ak
Regrouped, rested, headed out to a special place and hiked a mountain to prove something to myself. 16 miles up and back in one day, elevation gain 4,300ft. in the rain.
September 18, 2016, Eklutna Lake, Alaska
Things took a turn for the worse and I've been hanging on by a thread for a couple days spiralling deeper and deeper. I thought maybe I was finally in the clear of feeling like this. Unfortunately, I'm a glutten for punishment. I've been here many times under different circumstances, but it has never deterred me from still trying to make it to the place that I set out to find years ago and I honestly feel like I'm getting closer. Thank god my circumstances are different this time and so is my perspective on those of the past and how they caused me to live with such pain. Knowing why is helping me make small, but effective changes in how to handle it this time. I'm in the middle of nowhere parked on the side of the road with no place to go for two weeks. On one hand, a lot of people who are living a life they're not exactly thrilled about might be psyched to be in such a situation, but for those who've never experienced as much freedom as I have there is actually such a thing as being too free because in this day and age time costs money so no matter how much free time I might have if I enjoy it for too long I won't be free anymore. This is a pretty messed up fact and we'll get in to it more specifically regarding what has happened to our culture in this stage in human history later, but right now, I need to get a grip. I found a spot to pull the truck over for the night. That's one of the cool things about being up here. I don't know if it's legal, but it seems acceptable to temporarily park like this. There are many paved turnouts along the roads in many scenic remote areas so you'll often see rv's and campers parked there for the night. Maybe it's because tourism is business and business is what makes our world go round. Wah.
It's been a beautiful sunny fall day. How in the world could I have anything to complain about? I'm healthy, I'm not broke (though I'm far from comfortable) and I've got two whole weeks before starting my next job, yet I've been sinking faster and faster for the last 24hrs. On the outside, no one would ever know because I've learned to hide it well, not that there's anyone here to notice and that is a big part of the problem. I haven't spent any real time with another person in weeks, months really, except for that one fun date, and that's way too long and more importantly I haven't been writing which is the best thing that I can do to help myself. The date I had a couple weeks ago was wonderful, but that was "uptime." We all need downtime around other people, but I picked up some bad habits growing up that didn't allow me to acknowledge this. Writing is by no way better than spending time with another person, but it's definitely better than sitting alone with thoughts if they turn negative. When I think of the years and miles I've covered alone sometimes surrounded by natural beauty, sometimes stuck in a dirty city, on the good days I could appreciate everything and everyone around me and on the bad days I was just toughing it out, but I believed that if I stay the course and keep fighting, someday I won't have to live like this anymore, at least not as much as I have. Being able to suck it up and tough it out is a good ability to have, but it's an awful way to live. What would the point of all this be if I didn't believe it was possible to find a better way? Funny thing is whether I believe it or not, I don't have a choice. If I'm wrong and I fail, at the bare minimum, at least I'm writing all this down might help someone else who finds themselves on a similar path.
I rolled the dice and came up here and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I've ever made in a long time, but there are no quick fixes. I still need to do the work. As much as I miss my family and friends our lives weren't connected and I've found a place with the right opportunities that doing the work while staying in one place could finally be worth it.
I often use the metaphor or crossing the Grand Canyon on a tight-rope and moments like the one I've been in for the last couple days before pulling over just now are like that warning "Don't look down" to someone who's dangerosly stuck somewhere very high. Not looking down isn't really a matter of being brave as much as it is about keeping focus and perspective on what's immediately in front of you. When you find yourself in a situation where there is nothing close to you that you can get your bearings from looking down into the abyss just pulls you further off balance. We all need to keep our balance and for most of our lives it comes second nature because we're surrounded by some many things that keep our minds grounded so we never even notice we're doing it all day everyday. You don't think about how to walk when you roll out of bed in the morning and shuffle to the bathroom. It's automatic, but try doing it with your eyes clothes in a room that you've never been in or even more confusing try doing in it with your eyes open, but there is no room, no floor, no walls, just you in an infinite vastness where you can't tell which way is up. It might get a little dizzy for a moment. Our lives and this world can start to feel like this sometimes if we can't reset and regroup once in a while and that's where other people come in...not to mention a physical address, haha.
What I need to realize is that no matter how much work a person does or is willing to do, no matter how amazing things are around them, one thing has finally become clear. It's not about me and it's not about this beautiful world I'm surrounded by. I've seen countless beautiful places all over the world all on a blue collar paycheck. How much more do I need to see? I'll never grow tired of seeing new places, but seeing more isn't the answer. Yes, there are times when I just need to get out of a city and the congestion and when I do there is a sense of relief, but this time it has allowed me to see another obvious component other than the work I've done on the inside and the places I've worked to see on the outside. Once I've done all that, it's time to put down the burden that I've been unknowingly carrying. This is what writing does for me in a surrogate kind of way because it forces me to get thoughts out of my head and imagine another person reading them which makes me feel less alone. I've gotten used to carrying this isolation for so long because it was taught to me which makes it's hard to keep reminding myself sometimes of how badly it can effect me, but, thank god, today, I have and started writing. Duh.
September 22, 2016, Anchorage, Alaska
Headed back to Anchorage to check on my motorcycle which I left parked on a side-street in front of an apartment building among a bunch of other cars (with a padlock and cable around the back wheel). It was nice having the extra room traveling around for the last week. Went on another date with that super cool young lady, but I decided not to continue seeing her. She greeted and left me with a big smile and hug, but I was starting to get the feeling that she is, also, seeing someone else. She'd send me a text, I'd respond then it'd be days before she got back to me especially on the weekends. It's totally her prerogative to date as many people as she wants. It's just not how my heart works. It was still fun. I just felt a little foolish for getting my hopes up.
I started studying energy on my first coast to coast road trip in a '67 Mustang convertible that I had fixed up. The following year I walked. Two very different uses of energy, i.e. transportation. More recently, what I've realized is that we're all not as separate as we think we are especially in the United States where individualism and ownership is emphasized so much. I received a couple of emails earlier today from random friends across the country and observed something. Because my life is so simple, it's easier to see how one little thing can affect it. I went from feeling lonely and unmotivated to full of life just because I had a little communication from the outside world. It wasn't even in person, but it filled me with so much positive energy that I could see that the energy that we use to go about our everyday lives is right at our finger tips in abundance, but our mind can block us from accessing it sometimes. I rented a movie from redbox last night so after the little surge I texted a couple of buddies to tell them that they needed to see it because it was ridiculously funny (Nice Guys with Ryan Gosling and Russel Crowe). It was almost like I wanted to give some of the energy away because I, now, had more than I needed. My question is how or actually why did the simple event of receiving a couple emails allow me to access energy that before didn't seem readily available? I'll take it further. When I headed out of Anchorage last week for a couple days, the thought of loading and unloading my motorcycle so I could sleep in the trailer every night seemed laborious though I've done it many times on other trips, but if I were traveling with a couple friends the thought of loading and unloading it every night and morning so we could all use my trailer seems like no effort at all. Why? What's the difference? It's the exact same act.
I have an abundance of physical energy. It was obvious from an early age. Just ask my poor school teachers or, more so, my older brother, but spare me any new labels that the medical establishment has come up with. We as a culture are energy junkies. A person born with more than most won the lottery. It shouldn't be viewed as a problem. How this energy is used and managed is the real issue. What happens in my mind, or any person's, that allows us to access this energy? When I started this journey a long time ago, I focused much of my attention outwardly on the external forms of energy that we rapidly consume like natural resources, money, fossil fuels, etc. It became obvious to me that the root of 90% of every problem known to man is man. At this stage in history, it could be argued that we are the worst thing to happen to the planet. This is not some tree-hugging, the sky is falling complaint. It's simply an observation. Just look at our path of destruction. Many of us don't want to because it's depressing, but not thinking about something doesn't make it go away. We are consuming everything on this planet at a rate that it cannot be replenished, but why? Why are we such energy junkies when we have so much readily available within us? There is a block. Every now and then I'll hear a TED talk about scientists newest attempt at inventing a free energy machine. Why do we need one? We are the original free energy machines. The silly notion that seems to becoming more and more popular in sci-fi movies is the idea of computers taking over the world, but the reality is that the computers we should be worrying about taking over the world are our own minds. Our minds are the original computers and they are what is blocking us from accessing our abundance of energy.
Computers do not feel or connect with life. They simply compute sending endless streams information (thought) through our minds. Nothing is safe and nothing is sacred. They will devour any topic. Thought is the modern day epidemic. Go anywhere in public and count how many people are walking with their faces buried in their phones or worse if you're driving and stopped at a red light count how many people are looking down at theirs. The weaker our control over our minds the more something else like a device can capture them. Why is endless thought a problem? Because it cannot sustain itself. It is a one way flow of energy and endless stream that will drain us and the planet if we do not stop it. Seems far-fetched, but not when you think about it, haha. Mindless thought may sound like an oxymoron, but a mindless act is not. Action is sustainable because it engages us with the outside world. Even just speaking or in my case, right now, typing. If properly executed, action is an equal exchange energy. This is the original definition of work not work in the sense of a job, but work that all living creatures act out in order to survive. There is no exchange when we are caught in our minds regardless of how safe or comfortable it may seem. Our minds are our comfort zones. Endless thought is like a hole in a bucket that we are trying to keep full. Rather than plugging the hole by stopping the thought we just keep adding water. The only problem is endless thought does not replenish our energy it drains it and 6 billion buckets can consume a lot of water. Too bad it's not just water.
The reason I'm bringing this issue up is not to sound like a downer. There is nothing productive about pointing out a problem without offering a solution. Problems are negative. Solutions are positive. Problems are thought. Solutions are action. The whole in the bucket was created by disconnecting from one another and the earth. We and it are our life line. When we are truly connected to it and one another we don't need anything else. What keeps us from truly connecting? Our minds, our thoughts. I am not preaching to anyone, but myself. There are times I feel so trapped and more often than not it's because I have seen or spoken to anyone in weeks...and not because I don't want to. The answer seems easy, but it's not. Our minds are cunning baffling machines which can convince us of just about anything if we let them.
September 26, 2016, Ptarmigan State Park, Alaska
It's dark and very late. I'm lying in my bed in the trailer parked at a beautiful spot in a state park near Moose Crossing's, Alaska, but I'm having a hard to falling asleep. The young lady lying next to me is sleeping on my arm and it's gone numb. Her and her two friends (guys) have been traveling with me for the last few days. I feel completely awkward because I know she's asleep and doesn't mean to be lying on me. She woke up earlier startled by the fact that she had rolled over against me and, now, she's done it, again. I just want to get some rest, but I don't want to wake her and startle her, again. How do I get myself in these situations? I slept in the truck the last two nights when we were parked in other places and hardly got any sleep because of cars driving by so when one of her friends said he wanted to try out his new tent and sleep outside rather than in my trailer like he had been I said to myself "Enough is enough. I've been more than generous. Tonight, I'm getting a decent night's sleep in my own bed." which her and her other friend had been sharing.
I met them through a cool website called "couchsurfers". It's for travelers. The basic premise is young people back-packing around the world can find a place to crash on someone's couch for the night who often back-pack themselves, but who just aren't traveling at the moment. It's a great idea and has been around for years. I've never used it to crash on anyone's couch, but the site was very helpful to me as a networking tool when I was traveling through Italy in '07 to find my grandfather's birthplace who died when my father was a boy. I have hosted a couple back-packers here and there over the years and did use the site myself to find a spot to park my vw vanagon one summer years ago so this year when I got to Alaska where there's lots of travelers I re-activated my account and offered to let people crash in my trailer. This young lady (26) from South Korea posted a message a couple weeks ago looking for hosts and/or people to go hiking, camping, exploring with so when I found out that I had two weeks off before starting my next job I offered to let her come along with me if we happened to be in the same area. Her post said that she was traveling alone, but when she arrived she had two friends with her. I could have easily said "No." My profile states that I only have enough room for two guests max, but I decided to be a good sport about it and said "What the heck. Let's try it."
We met and got along fine. They seemed like nice friendly people. She was from South Korea and one of her friends was from Vietnam who she's traveled with before and the other was from Ghana who they just met. It bugged me a little when I asked her and her friend from Vietnam how long they had been planning their trip because it was obvious that she had plenty of time to change her post to clarify that she was not traveling alone, but I have a feeling they knew that a pretty single girl traveling alone would get a lot more offers. I shrugged it off because I'm not a creep trying to use the site to pick up chicks and welcomed the chance to meet 3 cool people rather than just one. I thought it'd be fun to try to pile the four of us into the truck and trailer to do some exploring and it was for a couple days, but ya, I did feel a little played.
Whatever, I picked them up and drove them to a bunch of different places: Chugach State Park, Seward, Exit Glacier National Park and Ptarmigan Lake State Park, places I never would have driven around so much to see. I let them use my kayak and crash in my trailer while I slept in the suburban, but after the third day when no one had offered to chip in for gas I realized that they were going to bleed me dry if I let them. Traveling and living like I do is basically like living off the grid and they were going through water, electricity and propane like they were staying in a hotel so I decided to tell them that I had to work this week which was actually true because I was going to try to find some work to re-coop the money I was spending, but that I would bring them back to Anchorage, first. They would have stayed with me for another week had I let them.
On the last night, while everyone was sitting by the fire outside -I had to buy a couple bundles of firewood because it's been raining for the last week, I set up the full size bed in the trailer rather than just folding down the couch like I had showed them which is a lot quicker and easier. The bed frame is the same amount of space. It just seems bigger and is a lot sturdier. Technically there was enough room for three of us not that I was crazy about sharing it with two other people, but I was still trying to be a good sport, but her friend from Vietnam who was a little older probably in his early to mid thirties and the only one who did eventually give me gas money ($20) when I dropped them off on Sunday night took the floor this time and asked if I had an air mattress that he could use. I was a little surprised. Who goes camping without a bed roll? But whatever, I was happy to let him use mine. I was just done sleeping in my truck. Had it been two girls staying with me or just one, of course, I would certainly continue to sleep in the suburban so they felt comfortable, safe and had enough privacy, but, at this point, I could tell that the guy from Ghana liked her and was maybe a little threatened by me which was not my intention, but there was a clear division being formed between me and them so I was starting to feel uncomfortable in my own place.
Eventually, she rolled back over and I finally feel asleep. The next day, we all went for an easy 14 mile hike up to a beautiful emerald green lake, Ptarmigan Lake. It was like a mirror then headed back down, had a late lunch and watched a movie, a great Alaskan documentary that I had called "One Man's Wilderness", with all of us piled in the bed. All in all, I hope they had fun. I think they did. It was definitely a learning experience for me. There's lots of little things that I can do to the trailer to make it more user friendly for guests. I was happy to host them and didn't mind putting in the effort to do stuff for them like take down the kayak and wash it. I like being productive. There were some guys fishing at the lake where I brought them so they could go for a paddle and there's no doubt in my mind that those guys thought I was their tour guide which made seriously consider starting that type of business. I like being thoughtful and showing people a good time. I just didn't like getting tricked into it and having it cost me money. I thought about how fun it would have been if it was three friends of mine staying with me.
I got an email from her on couchsurfers this morning asking me for my facebook account or my email address so she could send me some pictures, but, also, to let me know that they were hitchhiking up to Denali (Mt. McKinley) National Park. She might have been fishing for a ride because she knows that's where I'll be headed to start my new job, but I didn't bite this time and wished them safe travels and lots of luck. I think they meant well, just maybe a little immature and not the best communicators. If I had a lot more money to throw away, I'm sure I would have facilitated things a lot better, but I'm on my own and three liabilities who are oblivious to what it takes to live like this is not something I can afford, right now. I've been waiting on my last paycheck from the docks which should have arrived weeks ago. I checked the post office this morning, but it still wasn't there. Hopefully, tomorrow it will be. That'll take the pressure off considerably.
September 28, 2016, Anchorage, Alaska
The check never came and I need to head north to start my new job.
So what have I learned so far? I need people. Duh, that's obvious, but it can be in a codependent way. That's obvious, too. They've been tough lessons to learn because I've been flying solo for so long. We only know what is normal from our own personal experience and one person's experience can be very different from someone else's. What's normal for one person can be a completely different reality from another person's even though on the outside they may seem very similar. Each one of us lives in our own little world. This is not meant to sound patronizing. It simply means that we do not live in a tribe like we once did. Back then, each person in the tribe shared the same world. A tribe was like one living organism with many parts. Now, we are many, many, many living organism all living in our own worlds. Yes, in this case, we are citizen's of the United States or members of the human species living on planet Earth, but we live in our minds not in the world. This makes it harder for us to connect, but easier to be managed. For every different person in our town, city or state there is a different reality. That's a lot of realities which creates a lot of separateness as well as a lot of emphasis on individualism and ownership. This strengthens our connection with our egos rather than with one another. Where as tribal life strengthened our connection with each other because we lived, worked and faced problems together not just lived on the same street with completely different lives so back then it was a more emotional connection rather than a mental one. If we're lucky we have a good group of family and friends to make up our modern reality, but there is no larger world outside of our personal one for us to belong to. You may not agree, but try it. You'll quickly find out. One of us has lived outside of your town, city or state for a very long time. Maybe I've even walked past your house. I couldn't walk into a tribe without someone knowing it. This is how I've been bale to live like I have for so long. One of my best friends in NY calls my life a social experiment. Someone who has always had family and friends and lived within the realm of these people even if physically they've been apart may never realize the extent of this lacking of a greater world because they only see the world through their personal reality while someone else at their school, place of work or who simply lives down the street from them who may not have many people in their personal world knows first hand that living in the larger world can be a very lonely experience.
If you're an intelligent, strong and capable person you could live your entire life and never know that you've been carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders everyday never thinking twice about it and never knowing what it's like to live in the bosom of friends in family. How could you? You've been strong and capable enough to not know you've been living without it because your life wasn't connected to anyone else's, but this doesn't mean that you should. These things may seem like obvious statements, but the reason I'm stating them is because I'm laying down the ground work for why our country and the world seems to be getting a little out of control. It starts with individuals. If we are not connected, we can only do so much as individuals which can feel like a very daunting task when you consider anything other than taking care of yourself. People don't make it in this world because they are intelligent, talented or hardworking. People make it by sticking together, but if you've never know what this is like then all you can do is try to make it on your own. Obviously, I should be saying "I" not you, but it applies to all of us.
October 1, 2016, Nenana, Alaska
Rolled into the tiny town of Nenana about 1:15am and parked on the little main street, A St., considered just going to bed, but decided to force myself out of my comfort zone and go out for a beer. It was Friday. This town has two bars and I was parked across the street from both of them! I was a little nervous. It was late and they were most likely about to close and, also, small town bars can be kind of clicky and leery of outsiders, but I sucked it up and said to myself "I'll walk in, have a beer (if they're still serving) and walk out to christen the occassion of starting my new job in a new town" ...where the plan is to live for the next 6 months. I didn't get both feet in the door before a guy walking out with two girls stuck out his hand and said with a big smile "Hey man, what's your name?" We shook hands and introduced ourselves and this is how the entire night went which turned out to be quite a late one. Apparently, there's no such thing as last call and this just might the friendliest place I've ever been...though there's a little city in Denark called Helsingorg that's a close second. I had a couple beers at the first little bar...actually they were bottles. They didn't have a tap, played a few songs on the jukebox then the nice Native American woman at the end of the bar who had already bought me a beer said she was going to take me over to the other bar and introduce me to everyone. We walk 200 feet and continued the night two doors down. It was a bigger place, a younger crowd and there were twice as many people...maybe 15. She didn't have to introduce me. As soon as I made eye contact with anyone, guy or girl, they introduced themselves to me. I was in heaven. A few people were dancing one of the guys leaning on the bar near them goaded me to join them suspecting I could by the way I was smiling and bopping to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" that was blasting from the jukebox. New country, old country, classic rock, top 40, we played it all. I didn't dance. I thought that would be showing off. I already felt like I got more attention for just being the new guy than I ever expected. I was happy just to feel so welcomed. Everyone took turns buying rounds and doing shots and eventually the night tapered to an end as the crowd slowly diminished. I said good night to the friendly bartender and stumbled (not really) across the street to my truck. The motorcycle was still in the back, so I grabbed my sleeping bag and crashed in the suburban. I told the owner of the sled dog company I probably wouldn't arrive until the afternoon so I had plenty of time to sleep.
October 28, 2016, Fairbanks, Alaska
It's Friday. The last thing I did before I left, after the trailer was loaded and the truck was packed was I put my work coveralls back on and walked past all the barking dogs, all 40 of them, around to the far side of the yard to little Tracy's dog house. It's a silly name for a sled dog, but nevertheless that's what I was told it was. I'd been here a month and the temperatures have, now, dropped close to 0 degrees at night and she is the only one who won't sleep in her house. She's one of the smallest dogs and definitely the skinniest most likely because she burns so many calories trying to keep warm at night curled up on the frozen ground. The owner's attempt at getting her to use her dog house was to throw a couple biscuits in it hoping she'll climb in to get them. I guess that's the best he can do with his 40 years of experience in the sport. It hasn't worked so for the last week in my free time I've been working with her. First, I took the roof off her house (they're removable so straw can be easily spread inside) then picked her up and climbed in with her. Luckily, I'm a wirey little bastard. The dog houses aren't very big and my legs don't fit so I hang them over the sides as I lie on my back with her curled up on my chest. Each day I laid like this for a half hour or so. She loved it. She's very leery of strangers, at first, but once she's used to you she'll literally climb in your lap if you crouch down beside her wrapping her front legs around you like a little koala bear and you're the tree probably to get warm. The next day, I did the same thing, but this time I scooted myself out from under her so she laid directly on the straw and I was wedged against the inside of the house on my side. The next day, I repeated this and then gradually lifted myself out of the house all the while patting her and softly praising her as she lay there getting more used to being inside the house. She'd always climb out as soon as I'd leave, but, at least, I was making progress. Today, I started just the same; picking her up, lifting her in with me, gently climbing out never stopping to comfort her and was able to put the roof back on without her getting spooked. I sat with her especially long, today, her in the house me kneeling beside it patting her through the opening because I knew this was the last time I'd ever see her.
October 29, 2016, Fairbanks, Alaska
I'm riding on the back of a 4wheeler bombing down a trail in the wilderness of Alaska. I'm hanging on tight so the bumps don't throw me off as I dodge branches whizzing by my head. It's cool, but comfortable for an October day and the surprising thing about the ride is it's completely silent. It's as if I'm flying through the air. There is no engine blaring only the sound of the tires rolling over the trail. If I listen closely I can bearly hear 32 paws padding the ground their claws digging into the dirt wanting to go faster and faster. We couldn't go any faster if the engine were running without flipping over. The only thing my boss in front of me needs to do is steer and bear down on the brakes if he can. The weight of two men and a 400cc atv are no match for the force hurtling us through the forest. These eight dogs are pure power. A horse can pull about twice it's weight. Each one of them can pull 20 times theirs. When the snow comes, they'll go even faster. I'm in for a ride.
The snow never came not before I left. Within the first week and half of working there, I had installed a 30 foot septic drain, a brand new floor in the upstairs bathroom of the owner's house and a motion detecting outdoor light for his friend who lived in town. His friend even told him that his wife would send him a check when she got home right in front of me which I never saw a dime of. I was making a flat rate of 100/wk as a sled dog handler. None of this work had anything to do with taking care of sled dogs. My day started at 9am and I finished around 7pm, but I'd usually get between a half hour or an hour for lunch depending on the temperature outside because sometimes we'd wait for it to warm up. I never got a day off.
When you feel like you have no other options in life it's amazing where you will find yourself if you don't nip things in the butt immediately. You seem to drift further and further from what you would ever find acceptable, but none of these things was what tipped the scales in my decision to leave. It was the dogs. They spent their entire lives on the end of a chain running in circles as callouses formed around their necks from the wear of the collar which had rubbed bald spots in their fur and bermed circles formed in the dirt like round snow angels made by the obsessive energy of animals bred to run, yet were not allowed to except maybe for 30min twice a week if they were one of the lucky ones. There were 40 and usually we only ran 8 to 10 at a time, twice a day. Leaving more than half of the dogs barking hysterically as the lucky ones ran off with us. Some days we only ran one team, others none. One dog, a veteran who was once one of his best champions having run the Iditarod 8 times -that's over 8,000 miles in one race alone not to mention the countless others he ran. Now, an aging animal whose back legs sometimes struggled to support him was never let off his chain the entire month I was there until I finally couldn't take it anymore and asked if I could take him for a walk when the owner told me that he wouldn't be around one afternoon so we wouldn't be running the dogs that day. I thought the old guy was going to have a heart attack when I unhooked him and gently led him with a leash down the trail. He was beside himself. He didn't know what to do piss, run or poop. Yesterday before I left with the owner gone for the day, I unhooked him, again, this time without a leash and let him go wherever he wanted. I just casually followed behind occasionally kneeling down as he'd scurry back to me for assurance that it was ok.
I know that I'm just a naive, stubborn, idealistic fool and my problems could be easily called white people problems while people around the world or even down the road struggle with much harder matters, but I still believe we are all responsible for what we are personally involved in and once we condone or participate in something that we do not believe in we loose a little bit of ourselves and when all I have is myself this is something I will never do. Having people in our lives whether close friends or family act as a buffer between us and the rest of the world. When we don't have this, the world and the circumstances of our lives are less forgiving and so are we on ourselves.
Thursday, the last night that I fed the dogs with the owner I watched him poor a bowl of kibble into a dish that had a lot of pee in it. Some of the dogs, the males especially, but even some of the females, had developed the habit of peeing in their dishes after they'd eaten out of them. Maybe it is some sort of perverted territorial gesture that manifests itself because their lives are bound to encompass a circle with a 6 foot radius. During the day when I would clean the dog yard scooping up the poop, I would put these dishes to the side then when I was done cleaning I'd fill a bucket of warm water and wash them out before we fed at night, but sometimes I'd miss one or a dog would pee in one after I had cleaned so the owner would just pour the kibble right on top of the pee. I watched him do it more than once. This disgusted me and I think he knew it, but he didn't care. They were his dogs. Maybe he justified in it in his head because the pee was often frozen, but my job was to pour a dish of water into the bowl after he poured in the kibble so he knew the water would melt the pee allowing it to mix with the water and food. I refused to do this. He'd walk off to the next dog while I'd bend down and pour the dog food out into a different bowl of a dog that hadn't been fed yet, wash out the dirty bowl then replace the food. He saw me do it and could tell I wasn't happy, but never said a word. I knew it annoyed him that I did this because he'd always let out a big sigh if he couldn't find a dish because I had moved it out of reach after I had cleaned it so a dog couldn't dirty it, again, and he'd have to walk a couple extra feet to kick it back within the dirt circle. I didn't do it to spite the owner and I am not a passive aggressive person. I just simply would not go along with his indifference. It actually made me feel good that the dogs had a clean dish to eat out of. This is why I do everything that I do because it makes me feel good. It is a positive investment in a happy life not a negative byproduct of an unhappy one. I know in the past I could have been seen by others as self-righteous or even snobby for my unwillingness to participate in certain things and maybe I was to some degree, but that all changed once I learned some hard, but vital lessons about happiness and what I am personally responsible for and what I am not. I have no desire to judge anyone, but I, also, will not sacrifice my conscience or how I feel about myself for anyone.
Everyday when I cleaned in the morning after feeding the dogs, I tried to spend a little time with each of them, but when I was finished I'd be emotionally drained because there wasn't enough time in the day to give 40 dogs even just a little bit of affection and still do all my chores. I hated this and I dreaded each day more and more feeling hopeless. Despite how it may sound when I write, I'm not a touchy-feely person. I don't talk baby talk to animals nor would I ever dress them in little sweaters or spoil them with treats, but I know when an animal is happy and when it is miserable. If I am stronger or more intelligent that something or someone else, my job is to protect them and help them not exploit them. I think anyone can tell when an animal is suffering if they're willing to be honest. I guess over time life can pile up on us to the point that we stop caring about certain things because we feel like we can't afford to anymore. I feel like I failed those dogs. My only salvation is, now, I'm curled up outside in the cold like them, but at least I'm in my truck with lots of blankets. I pray little Tracy is using her house, tonight. This is not the last word on the matter, but leaving and not being a party to it anymore is all I can do, right now. If I had a million dollars, I'd buy all the dogs from him and find them proper homes and this is not something I'm telling myself to make myself feel better. I would...and maybe I'd keep a handful of my favorite ones and give them an amazing life. Plenty of them where my favorites, but all I have is me and my stubborn naive idealism for the time being. I discovered a huge puddle of radiator fluid under the truck this morning so it looks like I can't head south even if I wanted to. I couldn't even run the heater this afternoon because it only blew cold air. I did interview with a different kennel, also, this the morning and was very candid about what I will not accept and they seemed receptive and in agreement. They said that they'd most likely get in touch with me, tonight, but I haven't heard from them. We'll see. I met with a different kennel earlier in the week which had 30 Malamutes which are basically like big Siberian Huskies, but they didn't even have dog houses and were tied to a tree all winter to "toughen them up". All I would need to do was feed them once a day until March and for that I'd get a little off the grid cabin to live in and $100/wk. They said nothing about exercising them and, in fact, I don't think I'd be allowed to. Needless to say, I passed on that job. I spent the rest of the day at the library logged into my bank account adding up all the gas purchases I made this summer driving up here from California. This was before I realized I had a serious problem with the coolant system in the truck. It would take me between $1,200 to $1,400 in gas to get me someplace warm hauling the trailer and about half that if I sold it, but I'd want to do some work to it first and in this weather that wouldn't be easy. A lot of it is painting on the inside. I had taken the gallon of paint I bought to do this and left it inside the cabin that I've been living in for the last month to defrost, but never got a minute to work on my own stuff so, now, it's frozen solid, again. My last check from my summer job on the docks finally arrived yesterday so I have enough money, but without much left over if I can fix the coolant system. I guess this is why people eventually give up on their ideals for plain old survival.
November 1, 2016, Fairbanks, Alaska
I have a "job" and I have the time and energy to be writing, again, so that must be a good thing. I feel like I'm back in the fold a little...not of family or friendship just of the modern day world. I've been living on the fringes for so long that it's almost been hard to remember what "normal" life was like, but it is a world that I grew up in so with a glimpse of stability I do remember. At one time, I did live a normal life like everyone else and though I'm certainly not back to living one, again, I can see it from here. I don't really like feeling like some sort of hard working, humble drifter. That's not me, but it is a label that sort of fits whether I like it or not. We all have a story as to how we arrived at wherever we are in life. Mine might be a little easier to see because the evidence of it is revealed in the circumstances by which I arrive at another new job in another new town, but circumstances are just temporary. Who we are as people regardless of the situation we happen to be in is more timeless and accurate. Life might be hard sometimes in a new place when I'm viewed by others only according to the situation I'm in and not by who I am as a person, but maybe I shouldn't worry about these types of people even if there are a lot of them.
As I went to bed, Saturday night, under a pile of blankets in the back of the truck, I geared up in my head to get dressed good in warm, the next morning, and crawl under the truck to figure out where the antifreeze leak was coming from. I hoped it was just a hose. Replacing the water pump which is usually the next thing it could be is not a complicated job, but it is a time consuming one. You have to first remove the fan, shroud, pully, hoses and a bunch of other stuff in the front of the engine to get at the pump and then when you put the new one on it has to be properly sealed with high temperature sealant which needs to cure and in these temperatures will take a long time. Doing any type of work on a vehicle in the wintertime is no picnic especially when I have no place to warm up, but I have my fingers crossed that it's just a hose. I figured worse comes to worse, I could drive to the outskirts of Fairbanks -it's not a big city, and find a quiet place out of the way at some dirt turn-out, park my rig, pull the motorcycle out, fire up the wood stove and have a place to get warm while I worked on the truck. If I had to, I could bundle up and ride the bike back into town to get any parts I might need once I started the job. The bike came in handy last fall when I blew a brake line coming down a hill in northern Maine when I was working the blueberry season up there in the middle of nowhere. I ended up having to replace almost every brake line on the truck when the job was done. I used the bike to ride back and forth to the auto parts store each time I discovered another bad line. Took me two and half days to finish.
I went to sleep last night under the same pile of blankets, but with a few less because I was in a warm bed in my new little cabin. I felt a lot more at ease. They offered me the job so I spent Sunday afternoon moving in, but before I took it, I went down a grocery list of items that I wanted both parties to be clear about from the onset so I didn't get stuck in another situation like the one I just escaped. It was actually my second interview with this company. The first one, a week and a half ago, was with the two young ladies who run the sled dog touring operation and the second one was with the man who owns the property and facilities where the tours are given. I didn't want to feel like I had to take the job which is why I was already mentally ready to fix the truck and get the heck out of Dodge if I had to. I even heard from one of my buddies out of the blue who I worked with last spring driving a truck for that lighting company based in San Francisco and he said they could use me so I was tempted to call the owner, but figured I'd wait to see if I got this job, first. As nice as making real good money would be, the job itself was pretty mindless and I'd only be taking it to buy some time in order to find a nice quiet little place in the wilderness to live or park my trailer so I could work on my book. That is my goal for the winter so why not take such a place that's being offered to me, right now? Seeing the guys would have been an added bonus, but they all have lives and families down there. I don't. When I'm ready to start that chapter of my life I don't think it will be down there. I have a feeling it will be somewhere up here.
I've only been working here for two days, but this operation couldn't be any more different than the one I just left or any of the others I visited in the last 5 months, all 7 of them including the 2 that I had to quit. What a relief. I climbed under the truck, today, on my lunch break which was more like an afternoon break. They're not really going to need me full time for about another month. In the meantime, I have a place to live! I unhooked and parked the trailer on the property alongside a bunch of trailers the owner has parked down out of the way at the end of their lake. I'm only 3.5 miles from Fairbanks so worse comes to worse I could walk, ride my mountain bike or take the motorcycle to get whatever parts I might need. I remember one summer pedaling through downtown New Orleans shirtless drenched in sweat on an old ten speed that I bought from some guy for 20 bucks one hand on the handle bars the other holding a rebuilt starter. That was my first road trip ever. Fixed the little two-seater convertible I was living out of, got a job at the Hard Rock Cafe then my own apartment and life went on. The important thing, now, is I have a place to get warm. I couldn't tell where the leak was coming from exactly. I'll have to pour some water in the radiator and let it run for a minute to see where the water comes out. I was a little self-conscious about working on my truck the minute I got here, but I have to get an oil pan heater and install it anyways. Pretty much everyone who lives in Alaska has one on their vehicles because it gets so cold at night in the winter that the oil stiffens up and makes it hard for the engine to start, so you have to plug in your vehicle for a little while before you start it. I can work on the leak when I do this. The other important thing is I may have just found a really nice place to work with some cool people who seem to really love their dogs. Thank god.
An old familiar twinge hit me as I overheard the girls talking to friends on the phone this evening and making plans for after work. The feeling welled up in my stomach and I was ready to bolt right then and there. Like I said, I remember what it was like to be "normal" and one of the gang, but I chose to take the road less traveled instead and at times it's been a brutal one, but it's still just circumstantial and so is that pain. It's not me. As familiar as it is, it's not mine. It's this world's.
November 5, 2016, Fairbanks, Alaska
I can't believe it. It's Saturday and I have two days off and a place to live. That may not sound like a big deal to most people, but considering the path I've taken it's a very big deal. I still think about the dogs at the last kennel. One a side note, I don't know why they call them kennels. The dogs aren't kept in kennels. They're outdoors tied up with dog houses. Either way, it still bothers me a lot to think about the ones I worked with last month knowing what their lives are like.
I wrestled with not wanting to say bad things about the previous place I worked. The owner seemed like a nice person and I'm sure he believes he's a good guy, but the facts just became unavoidable. Telling him that I had decided to leave was incredibly hard because he was so "happy" to have a guy like me there, but the main reason I left was because he wasn't happy and nothing I did was going to make him. People don't neglect or give up on things if they're happy. If I had to guess, I might suspect that he was broke. Why else would he not pay me for all the extra work that I did? He didn't even own a printer and went to the library to print stuff out. Who runs a business without a printer? I thought about letting him borrow mine, but at the point I'd let him use so many of my tools that I said "enough was enough." When I first met him, he mentioned that he'd had a couple of mild strokes in the past two years so I wondered if he even realized how bad things were getting, but he seemed fine mentally. His wife who he met online and I'm guessing is about 30 years younger and from the Philippines with her 9 year old son wasn't going to say anything. He was her ticket out of the situation she was in. She barely said two words to me the whole month I was there. I thought about trying to talk to one the guys I'd met while I was working there who knew him, but I didn't want to embarrass him or put them in an awkward situation, plus they didn't seem that close. Eventually when enough examples like pouring clean dog food into a dish with pee in it piled up which he definitely knew he was doing I just had to leave. What else could I do? I'm just one guy barley getting by myself, at times, running out of options who refuses to not care about what he does or how he lives.
The dog sled company I'm working for, now, is very different. It's much quieter for starters even though they have a lot more dogs than the last place. Happy dogs are quiet dogs. The sad thing is one of the reasons people love animals is because no matter what we do to them they will always love us. They don't judge us which is why people get away with not treating them the way they should, but it's so apparent that these dogs are loved and cared for. They get to run around off their chains all the time. The two young ladies who own the operation bring a lot of the dogs home with them at the end of the day and they live here on the property so the girls often ride an atv to and from work while the dogs run free alongside them all the way home. It's pretty cool. Talk about livin' the dream. The oldest retired dog here isn't confined to spend the rest of his life chained to a pole. He's off leash and hanging out on the property going wherever he wants. Even though they're both pretty young and active, after running the business for one season, they didn't feel they were getting enough time to spend with all the dogs by their standards and that's why they decided to hire another person. They didn't hire me do things that they don't feel like doing which is why I was at the last place. They hired me to help them do the same chores that they do and so they could train me to take the dogs out on sled rides to have fun because they might not get a chance to otherwise. A different company that uses sled dogs for an adaptive sports program for people with disabilities usually takes 16 dogs for the winter, but told them at the last minute that weren't going to this year. And, they had a litter of pups since last season so the girls felt 59 dogs between two people is too much. I was responsible for 40 by myself at the last one and never had a day off.
Time to get stuff done.
November 10, 2016, Fairbanks, Alaska
I'm walking down a snow covered road in the dark with the closest thing to a domesticated wolf by my side. His name is Grizzly. He's one of the dogs the kennel has asked me to take a special interest in. There are plenty of actual wolves in Alaska so it's no stretch to imagine that he is one, not to mention the fact that his markings and coat couldn't be any more similar which is making this moment all the more magical. The moon is trying to shine through the clouds reflecting enough light off the snow that it's easy to see as we walk along the trees. It's not real late, but it gets dark early this time of year so it feels later than it is. Everyone else at work has gone home for the night and I decided to get a few more things done before calling it a day especially seeing as I'm off tomorrow. We usually use the truck or atv to haul the dirt down the road to the manure pile, but since it snowed and we've been using sleds to clean up the dog yard I decided to go for a walk and drag the sled behind me....even though I have a sled dog walking with me.
The days easily get away from me when I take on a few extra projects in addition to my chores which made today a little longer than I planned, but they've given me ten dogs to work with on my own so I told myself that I was going to make it a point to spend time with one of them individually everyday...plus a couple of the others that might need some attention.....and the six puppies. That's a lot of dogs, but one by one everyday I'm going to improve their lives if not just a little bit. I know they're just dogs and there are children starving in third world countries, there are poor people in China being treated like slaves, the rain forests are being chopped down acres at a time and the list goes on. Some people know this, but knowing something and being aware of it is a big difference. We all know lots of things, but then the information gets filed away in these human computers we, all, posses called brains only to be retrieved when it's necessary. To be aware of something means it is never filed away. It sits there on the desktop constantly running in the background of whatever program I happen to be using. Maybe this is why I'm a free-spirit. The constant motion of my life allows me to carry the weight a little easier. Denial has never been an option. I'm sure living such a solitary life has not afforded me the distractions of others which would help me to tune some of it out. We can only start with the world around us if we want to make the planet a better place and then let our reach gradually broaden as our lives build with the momentum of positive energy they create.
Tonight, it was Grizzly's turn. As we made our way down the road, he was half being a dog preoccupied with smelling every inch of the path we walked and partly tentative about where we were going. I'm not sure if he'd ever been taken for a walk. A sled run is different. The dogs here have a better life compared to all the other places I've seen, but there was still an occasional uncertainty in his behavior. He never made use of the entire 30 feet of leash I had him on so a few times I quietly knelt down in the dark and let him come to me whenever he needed to for reassurance leaning against me as he looked around and smelled the night air. 19 degrees is not cold by Alaskan standards and even a skinny guy like me felt surprisingly comfortable enough to enjoy being outside on a winter night with a big Alaskan husky. Some of the dogs are very friendly climbing all over you like big puppies and he's fairly friendly, too, but he, also, has a slight stoicism to him so it was great to seem him celebrate a little about what he just got to do when we made it back to the dog yard and I walked him to his house as the other dogs exploded with envy. I'll get to each one of them if it takes me all winter. It's the only way I can walk away from them everyday. I did roll around in the puppy pen for a little while, too, before heading to my cabin.
Now what? I have a place to live. The "job" I have is actually pretty fun. I put the word job in parentheses because I'm barely getting paid, but when they start doing tours in mid to late December they'll be able to give me a little more, but it's fine for, now. That was the plan anyways; to work a fun job for the winter and give myself time to write my book, once and for all. And at the moment, I'm actually in a position to do it. This blog has allowed me to process experiences and ideas for the last year like a sketch pad (in addition to the one I've had for the previous 19yrs -it's been a long journey). There's plenty of past years, work and rendering to be done, but I'm ready to start.
I guess there are a couple things that I need to briefly clarify before moving forward. One is all the things that I've been confronted with in one form or another that I've found unacceptable which I then chose to remove myself from. Years ago, I would have addressed these situations in a much more verbal way. I had somewhat of a self-righteous chip on my shoulder in my twenties and when push came to shove I didn't hesitate to tell people off as a matter of principle not disrespectfully, but sternly nonetheless. I still have those principles and still live by them, but I can't remember the last time I told someone off. Have I become a wishy washy wimp? If you tell off enough people, you can finding yourself completely alone in the world and I did. Am I too scared to tell people what I think anymore because I'm afraid they're not going to like me or give me a good recommendation when I leave and try to get a new job someplace else? No, I still when I have to, but I definitely hate negative energy and people being ugly to one another. That's enough of a reason to not get into it with people that I strongly disagree with because there's often no level an unhappy person isn't willing to stoop to in order to "win" an argument or confrontation. Emotionally I guess I've decided in the moment that it's just not worth it to tell them what I think because they'll only try to bring me down to their level. That seems to make complete sense, but it's still hard to not give them a piece of my mind. Another way I try to look at it is: sometimes I have to be willing to loose a few battles in order to win the war. That feels a little better because it reminds me that I'm still fighting and haven't given up. My heart, soul and conscience are way more important than someone's negativity. The stronger I get the more they can't hurt me and the more of an example I can be for the things that I believe in, but all the battles do tend to add up. Some people would rather brush things under the rug and never think about them, again, than have their day in court and some of us want that day more than anything. That day will come, but it does take a lot of holding my tongue and swallowing my pride which isn't always easy to do so I've got to be good at choosing my battles and the day will come when I get to make things right or, at least, try to with everything I've been working towards.
November 20, 2016, Fairbanks, Alaska
It's Sunday evening. Today, I walked Dori who is the most skittish of all the dogs and is going to need some special attention to bond with and to help be more confident and at ease. We were accompanied by all the puppies (6) and Freddie, the owner's dog who has free reign on the property, but is very sweet and submissive. My weekend guests have flown back to the east coast and the girls should be getting to the barn to do the night feeding soon. I have today off in addition to my normal Fri. and Sat. (which I'm still trying to get used to having two whole days off...in a row!) because we rotate on Sundays and it was my turn apparently which I was glad to discover. I spent a lot of the last 2 days working on their 4-wheeler while hosting two couchsurfers from Brazil.
I really need to talk to the girls which I plan to when they get here. From my own life experiences, I have grown to absolutely hate making people talk about stuff that they do not want to talk about even though it's obvious that it needs to be talked about. Unfortunately not many people really want to deal with stuff. It's been three weeks, now, and I don't feel anymore comfortable than I did the day I arrived. Luckily, I felt pretty great when I arrived so it's still a good place to start. I had the naive assumption that we might even become friends not just co-workers. There's only three of us and we all live here on the property. They live at one end with their dogs, about 25, and I live at the other end next to the barn, main house and the kennel with the 60 others. It's a little ridiculous how many dogs people have up here. I probably shouldn't call them girls. They're not. They're women. "Girls" just sounds more friendly and informal, but I don't want to sound like I'm being demeaning. Hopes of friendship aside, I have to make some improvements if I'm going to the last the winter here. I've been stuck in a holding pattern since day one which is expectable when starting a new job, but this is too long. I should have everything dialed in and stream-lined by now, but everyday starts the same. I arrive at work not knowing what I'll be doing so I try to find something to keep myself busy until one of them arrives usually about an hour later. After two weeks of this one of them, at least, was nice enough to text me to tell me that from now on she's going to be coming in around 10. I don't know why she didn't tell me that weeks ago. When I started we met at 9 for the first couple of days then they just stopped showing up. We've divided the week into 3 overlapping schedules so each of us has two days off and an alternating third until the winter tourist season gets fully underway which by then they tell me the chance of any of us getting a day off will be pretty low which is fine. Busy is good. The dogs will be getting lots of excercise and the girls' little touring company will be making money. Until then I work with one of them for two days and then the other for two and on the third it could either of them, but all three of us haven't worked together in weeks which seems a little weird. We'd get so much more done with three people.
Once one of them arrives, I'm able to join them in doing the morning chores, the first one being feeding all the dogs. I'd like to get to work and bang out all the chores so I usually start scooping the dog yard which comes next after feeding, but on a couple of occasions I've ended up cleaning the entire yard of 60+ dogs which feels a little servile this being the least favorite chore for any of us. It's still better than sitting around waiting for them to arrive feeling like I'm wasting my time. I'm not getting paid by the hour. I'm not really getting paid at all. I live here for free and get a weekly food stipend which if I do the math turns out to be an hourly wage that I don't even want to mention, but whatever. I didn't come here to make money. I came here to try to have fun this winter, experience what it's like to live in sub-zero temperatures in the interior of Alaska, learn how to work with sled dogs and have enough free time to get the projects that I have on my to-do-list completed. This is where the difficulty arises. I can't manage my time effectively because my days have no real structure to them. I never know what they're going to be like so it's hard to schedule anything else around them and they told me when they hired me that it could be part-time for the first month so I could work on other stuff to supplement my income. By now, I've got a good feel as to what needs to be done and how to do it, but my days still hinge too much on their schedules which are unpredictable. I've tried a few times to ask them to tell me what my specific responsibilities are, but I've never really gotten a clear answer so it's preventing me from becoming more autonomous which is where I excel.
It's not really that big of a deal. A quick conversation could solve it, but getting them to talk has proven to be harder than I expected. A lot of people claim to believe in healthy communication which is something we covered in the interview, but very few practice it. Being willing to talk when someone else needs to is not the definition of healthy communication. That falls more under the category of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The result being that you only talk when there's a problem giving communication a negative association. The definition of healthy communication is more like preventative maintenance, but it seems the girls would like to keep me at a distance. They have their own friendship and lives here in Alaska and I'm just some guy they've hired to help them take care of all the kennel's dogs and run their business. They have an agreement with the man who owns the property, facilities and dogs because he travels a lot in the winter. They, all, seem happy with me. The girls doubled my stipend last week because they felt I deserved it. Well, I thought they doubled it. Turns out it was a 50% raise which they apparently pro-rated for the previous week which was a little confusing, but, again, is fine. I don't care about money despite the fact that all our lives are dependent on it. So as much as I hate to throw the possibility of being friends out the window, I'll have to if I can, at least, manage my work day better.
I got to the point last week that I was going to ask if I could feed all the dogs and clean the entire yard myself if it meant that I didn't have to wait around for anyone else, but I've been told that feeding your dogs is a crucial bonding activity so me doing it all prevents this for them. I don't want to do it all by myself. I don't like working by myself. I just don't like pretending everything is fine when it isn't. It really comes down to a familiar problem which is that I want to connect and communicate openly with everyone because I'm such a big naive dork, but this makes a lot of people who don't enjoy communicating uncomfortable to be around me as if I might learn something about them that they don't want me to know. It's the story of my life. If I dig deeper wanting to be friends with everyone probably stems from feeling alone in the world because I didn't come from a close family.....orrr stems from the implementation of the systematic "divide and conquer" tactic used by the powers that be to keep us all busy living our own individual lives which is often solidified by insecurities we carry as a result of not getting the opportunity or seeing the purpose in dealing with them. Say that ten times fast. Digging even deeper, maybe it's just my ego wanting to do something that I'm good at, empathizing and communicating. I like to get my hands dirty and get into it with people because it's challenging and rewarding to me to help people who previously had a wall between them, or me, become closer. Orrrr maybe it's an act of love. Who the eff knows. All I know is I can't keep working like this. I feel like I'm wasting so much of my time wondering what I'm doing next and my savings aren't going to last forever so I need to take advantage of whatever time I have this winter not to mention that I feel like a complete outsider in a job that's supposed to be fun. I like to start my work day once, in the morning, and build momentum that carries me efficiently and enjoyably through the day no matter what needs to be done instead of having to start it over and over again every few minutes or hour only to then stop and wonder "What's going to happen next?" Basically, it's like trying to run a race when you have no idea how long it is. How can you pace yourself, i.e. manage your time and energy, when your day is a string a countless little stops and starts rather than one slow and steady marathon?
Yes, I'd like to yank down the vale of stand-offishness that seems to exist between us, but doing this can make people defensive and has created problems for me in the past when I was more confrontational. I should, also, acknowledge that the whole thing could be my own misinterpretation of the situation, but I really don't think it is. One of the questions I asked the girls when we met in my first interview is how was their relationship with the owner and they told me that it was good like one big family which, a week later, I discovered this was far from the truth. It's more of an antagonistic one which the girls have admitted to me that they are not very happy with. This puts me in the middle because I'd like to get along with everyone without having to take sides. Wah. Then there's the nature of their friendship which I suspect is more than that and could easily be said is none of my business even though I have to work with them everyday and the tension that the relationship brings into the work place. The whole "it's none of your business" thing is just a place for people to hide. We all do it in one way or another. Someone's private life is technically none of my business, but why keep that they even have one a secret? There's nothing to be ashamed about. I think it's awesome if they've found someone to love and be happy with. I can't wait for the day that I do. If they were a girl and a guy, I'm sure they would've mentioned it early on that they were girlfriend and boyfriend if it wasn't already completely obvious. It would be kind of weird if they tried to hide it making the working environment very awkward. Obviosly it would be different for them. They'd have to deal with all kinds of societal b.s. and being different from the norm, but I'm not society or the norm. I'm the one and only employee/coworker. But, I don't get into work politics. Never have, never will so I simply need to ask them how we can do the morning feedings in a way that works better for me, i.e. I just need to chill out which is hard for me when I live such a solitary life. Hence, seeing the usefulness in writing here to diffuse any anxiety and gain clarity even though I'd much rather just talk with people.
They just got here so I'm going to walk over when they're done feeding.
That was easy in a really uncomfortable kind of way. We agreed that feeding all the dogs at the same time is ideal, but it's ok if I do my half without them. There have been plenty of instances when they weren't able to feed together and it was fine so they encouraged me to do my chores as I'd like so I don't have to wait for them. The uncomfortableness seems to have lessened slightly which is better than nothing. I'll have to be patient with the rest.
The Brazilian girls seemed to appreciate my willingness to communicate and address any elephants in the room, but maybe that was only been because under the circumstances it was in their best interest to have me do so. If they weren't my guests having to share the same living space with me, it's possible they would've easily preferred the modern customary policy of keeping people at a comfortable distance, the operative word being comfortable referring to the expression "happiness is found outside of our comfort zones while complacency is found within it." Regardless, they loved it and told me so before they left.
Understandably, they were a little tentative when we first met. I offered to meet them out for a drink or some dinner before heading to my place, but they had driven up from Anchorage, over 6hrs, and opted to head directly to my place to get settled in. The pretty one, well, they were both pretty exemplified by the swarm of men around them when I drove to the bar they were at the last night they were here to say good-bye, sent me a request last week asking if her and her friend could to stay with me for two nights and three days. It turns out the last girl who stayed with me with her two friends wrote me a very nice recommendation which may have been part of the reason why these young ladies decided to write me. They're 27 and au pairs living in Connecticut. Even though they're both from Brazil they didn't meet until they were in the States. We met at a lodge just down the road from my cabin so they could follow me here. You're supposed to include a description of the accommodations you have to offer in your profile so I was frank about the rustic nature of my lifestyle, but young travelers often don't need much more than a warm dry place to sleep which is one reason couchsurfing.com has become so popular. The ladies knew what they were getting into, but once we arrived at my place and I saw that they had suitcases not backpacks I decided to offer them my bedroom (I had spent the morning at the laundromat washing all my comforters, blankets and sheets before work; even bought a new air mattress if they both wanted to sleep in the loft) and I would sleep up in the loft just so they could close the door and have more privacy. They were hesitant to inconvenience me, but I assured them it was no inconvenience. I wanted them to feel comfortable so they took me up on the offer.
The first night, we worked our way through polite conversation while demonstrating our willingness to be considerate of one another, but by day two they talked me into going with them to see if they could find the Northern Lights which are brightest after midnight so I offered to take my suburban which has more room and seating than the pick-up truck they rented. We drove way out into the middle of nowhere and parked under the stars. I didn't have to work the next day so I didn't mind staying up late. I was just psyched to have some company for a change. I'm not going to lie and say it didn't hurt that they were very attractive. My buddy in LA gave me a bit of a hard time when I told him that I was having some female guests this weekend. It's something that I'm used to. I can't count how many times I've been told by my guy friends that I was an idiot for not making a move on girls that I've had a chance with. To me, it just comes down to trust. A person's trust, male or female, is much more important to me than any fleeting desire.
One of the girls didn't even changed out of her pajamas. She just shuffled her way from my cabin into the back of the suburban wrapped in one of my comforters. The Northern Lights made a brief and minimal appearance unlike the many spectacular showings I've seen since arriving in the interior a month and half ago. I've been spoiled, but hoping to seem them within a 48hr window is rolling the dice. At least, they got to see something as we sat and talked in my truck through the night. People sometimes tell me that they envy or admire my adventurous lifestyle, but these young ladies are a lot braver than I am for leaving their homes, coming to a foreign country to live and work without knowing a soul, learning a new language and then in their free time deciding to see more than most Americans have which proves that you don't have to be rich to see the world.
We got back around 4:30am. Saw a couple of moose on the way home. Saturday I continued to work on the 4-wheeler and finished around 6:30. The ladies had gone off for the day to see some more sights and pick-up a few souvenirs, but hoped I'd come out and meet them later for a drink before they caught their flight which left at 1 am. I hadn't slept in like I wanted to so I could have easily dozed off on the couch and worse came to worse I'd drive over to the airport and see them off before they left, but I received a bunch of texts from them around 9:30 so I got cleaned up and met them out. We got to say good-bye and dance a little. At least, I have a couple new friends in the big world and so do they. Hopefully, I'll make a few more in my small one at some point.
December 5, 2016, Fairbanks, Alaska
I'm so friggin tired of this, but I can't leave. It's so cold that my truck won't start even with a battery charger hooked up to it all day and the oil pan heater I installed plugged in. I need to install an engine block heater, too, but I haven't been able to leave here in a couple days to buy one. Thirty below temperatures aren't easy on an engine. I'm going to leave both devices plugged in all night and hopefully it'll start in the morning. I'm sure I could borrow one of the work trucks here that already have block heaters, but I'd rather not. If my truck would start I'd hook on to my trailer and back it up to my cabin and start getting organized which is what I'm going to do once I finally do get it running. I don't want to leave, but I'm not going to be taken advantage of. I asked to speak with the girls the other day, but after a couple of days of waiting I wrote them an email because they still hadn't gotten back to me and by then I'd set up an interview with another company, met with them and had another offer on the table so I had to give them an answer. When we finally did sit down and talk, it was awkward and uncomfortable, but, again, it felt like a little progress was made so I let my guard down a little and tried to open up and be more myself until the next day when the girl who seems more like the manager was showing me how to run the scheduling program on the computer asked me to do all the chores on Christmas for them. They did the same thing to me on Thanksgiving. Like a fool I actually thought they were going to ask me if I wanted to get together for the holiday. I had a laugh with a buddy down in LA when I told him over the phone the other night how I'm being played. I even bought them a 12pack of local Alaskan beer and made them a card which I found on the floor in the back room a couple days later so I just threw it away feeling stupid. Wah.
I remember when I was working on the 4-wheeler for one of them covered in grease how fun it would be if I was doing it for a friend and we were shooting the shit, drinking a beer and listening to some tunes, but nope. They could care less. After I'd fixed it and two weeks later she still hadn't reimbursed me for the money I'd spent on it, I found the jumper cables I let them borrow in the owner's garage and decided I needed to make some changes. I don't like getting mad or being petty. I could care less about stuff like this, but if it makes me wonder whether someone respects me or not then it becomes a problem which is why I asked them if we could sit down and talk.
I looked around, set up an interview with a different company and they offered me a job. I'd definitely make more money, but it's a lot further from Fairbanks and I'd be either crashing on some guys couch or his basement floor until we got the musher cabins finished which there was no way of knowing when that would be. They still needed windows and insulation. My other option, of course, is to head south. I replaced the water pump last weekend so the trucks running fine. I'd like to tune up, but it's probably not wise to spend a lot more money on parts, right now.
December 8, 2016, Fairbanks, Alaska
I'm sitting at a big beautiful wooden kitchen table in giant log cabin. Calling it a cabin isn't really accurate though it was built with logs. It's more like a log mansion the ceilings are so high you could probably fly a kite in here if you opened the windows. The owner is sitting across from me with two women who work for him on either side. They're sharing the plans they have for one of his nicer cabins that he rents out on the property and they've asked me to come join them because they want me to remodel it for them.
I work for the two young women who run their sled dog touring company here in the winter and work for him in the summer. I guess it's a pretty bumpin place then. A ferry boat stops on the river that boarders the property and all the people poor out to see the world famous facilities. The woman who started it all, the owner's wife, was a four-time Idatarod champion. Working for the girls is pretty much a full time job. Now, he and his assistants want me to work for them in my spare time explaing that it can be done at night when I'm not working for the girls. I'm not making any money working for the girls and now they want me to do more work while he's off traveling the world. People are ridiculous.
The sad thing is I'm actually enjoying sitting here talking with them because it's the closest thing to social contact since arriving a month and half ago other than the meeting that I requested earlier in the week with the girls. It's too bad that it's only because they want something from me. I'm the least paid, hardest worked person here and they want more from me. What the eff have I gotten myself into, now?!
December 10, 2016, Fairbanks, Alaska
You can't get water from a stone. Well, with all our modern technology or just using simple laws of physics, you probably could get water from a stone. Ya know, if you got it really cold then warmed it up creating condensation, but the point of the expression is to not get sucked into a futile cause.
Applying it to the situation that I find myself in at the present moment, it means I can't reach people who don't want to be reached. I know that connecting with people creates an easy flow of energy between us, but if someone does not want to connect or has no energy to exchange then they're not going to want to be reached. First thing I have to remind myself when this happens is to not take it personal especially when it's someone I don't know because they can't have any valid reason other than their own personal issues for not wanting to connect. It doesn't matter if I believe it's why we're here on this planet. If they have nothing to give it's only going to make things worse asking them to try. This doesn't change what I've learned which is that we are social creatures. It's why we invented language and evey other form of communication, transportation, medical advancements, etc. We're supposed to connect, but nevertheless, you, I, we can't force it when someone doesn't want to. Do I naively believe we all want to even when some say they don't? Yes, this is why I never give up and sometimes I succeed even when it seems impossible. But in truth, this was not wise of me to do because it has to come from them. If it doesn't, as soon as there's a bump in the road they will bail leaving everyone else in the situation high and dry which would be in keeping with the behavior that they had previously demonstrated so who's to blame for giving them this chance? It has to come from them and they don't want to so I'm stuck here with people who don't even say "Good morning" when you're working together.
I love connecting with people. I've done my homework so I'm not afraid of people. I have nothing to hide. The only thing I'm afraid of is situations where people don't want me to be honest and you'd be surprised how many of these there are in this world we've created. This is why I love animals and nature because there are no lies with them. This is why I love real work because you can't lie you're way through it. You either do it or you don't and it's completely obvious which is the case.
I can't not care. Nice double negative. This is why I don't like big cities where people just walk past each other all day long and look right through one another like they're not even there. I never want to be that desensitized. This is why where I'm working, now, is so hard. There's only three of us, not millions, and they want nothing to do with me. They like me as a worker because I work hard and I show up everyday, but outside of this I might as well be invisble or not even here. This isn't like a real job. I'm not getting paid for my time or my work which is why usually in these cases like a lot of internships or woofers (world wide opportunites in organic farming) there exists a lot more of a communal atmosphere and teamwork because the workers aren't getting paid so the owners of the farm or outdoor company usually try to make the person/people feel like they're part of the operation especially seeing as they're all living there together and not making any money. Not that case here. I am totally on my own and it's not fun to be around people all day who want nothing to do with me when all I want is to make new friends and connect with people. They barely talk to me and for the first month I struggled like a fool trying to figure what I could do to fix this. Work harder? Be more considerate? Keep to myself? Don't bother them? I couldn't figure what I was doing that was making them be this way towards me. Finally after a month I asked if I could meet with them because it was making me miserable. I looked for, yet, another job, set up an interview, had an offer, but told them that I didn't want to leave, but I was done feeling like an outsider. I'm too hard of a worker and good of a person to feel this way. I didn't want to string the other company along (it was only two days) even though I know that's how the job process works. I still don't like doing it to people. Wah.
I hate being fake. I used to view it according to physics reducing life in all it's forms down to energy in one form or another. Communication is a manner of exchanging energy with the path of this energy needing to be clearly estabilshed with a definite source and a definite destination. Like the battery in a car when the key is turned, the energy, in this case, electricty, travels from the battery, the source, through a thick copper wire down to the starter, the destination. The starter then turns the engine over. The electricity cannot travel from the battery to the starter if the cable, the path, is not properly attached to both the source and the destination. To me, this is a literal metaphor for being honest. Honesty is the path by which our energy is designed to flow. Being fake is when a person is not being themselves which, to me, is a wasteful use of energy. It is not how nature works. I hate not being myself because I cannot give and receive energy as naturally and efficiently as I should. Exchanging energy should feel good and being fake does not, not to mention it creates a false and inaccurate sense of reality within a situation which opens a miriad of unwelcomed possibilities. Blah, blah.
The facilites at the other place were far from as nice. It was a racing kennel and I didn't even get to meet the dogs during my interview which made think that the dogs didn't have much of a life other than being chained to a pole in a field or running tied to a sled. Like them, all I can do is tough it out and enjoy the moments when I don't feel trapped in the machine. I told them I was staying, but I wasn't going to do both the morning and night chores by myself until I was convinced I wasn't being taken advantaged of. The older one invited me out for a beer at a local dive bar and we talked a little and it felt forced, but I know she was trying so I told her I'd work for them on Christmas. I kept kicking butt at work, but things really hadn't improved much so she asked to talk, again. At this point, I had no idea what was coming whether they were going to ask me to leave or tell me I was doing great. I pulled the battery out of my truck and left it indoors overnight with a charger on it and that was difference. Started my truck the next morning, drove over to where my trailer was parked, hooked on and backed it up to my cabin prepared for anything. We talked and once, again, skirted around the obvious issues so I just said to myself that enough is enough and addressed every honest thing I could think of and when it was all said we both laughed and joked in relief. Thank God. The other one is still pretty anti-social and inconsiderate most of the time, but life's not perfect no matter how hard you try. All one can do sometimes is not take it personal and say "They know not what they do."
This is not a work of fiction. However, names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.