January 1, 2017, Fairbanks, Alaska
The sled dog touring company that I'm working for has gotten pretty busy during the holidays. I gave a cute little Latin girl visiting from Mexico a ride out on the frozen Tanana River earlier this week and when we were done she asked me how she could send me the video that she took which was really just a nice way for her to ask me for my phone number so I played along. I'm starved for social contact. Took her out to eat after work on Thursday. I made it clear that it was not a date, but I was still excited to do something social with someone and then on Friday I took her up to the hot springs 60 miles north of Fairbanks that she mentioned she wanted to visit. I've heard about them, too, but I'm not much of a tourist so going with someone else made it sound like more fun so I offered to take her. It turned out to be over two hours to drive there because we got hit with a blizzard plus I stopped twice to pull people (tourists) out of snow banks along the side of the road. It's actually been a fun past time in the winter all my life. Back home, I used to drive around during a snow storm with a chain or tow strap and pull people out all the time. They're always so shocked and appreciative. The hot spring was pretty fun. We had icicles in our hair, but the water was over a 100 degrees so we were quite comfortable. I kind of got the feeling that she wanted me to ask her out for New Year's Eve, too, when I was dropping her off, but I decided not to. Two days of socializing and spending money on a girl I just met was fun, but I didn't feel the need to over do it. She'd be gone the next day and I doubt we'd ever see each other, again, which is fine. It was a positive experience for both of us. I've learned from some of my couchsurfing guests that when people are in travel-mode, they get in the habit of taking whatever generosity is offered without hesitation rationalizing that they don't need to reciprocate because they're traveling. Not all people do this, but it is a tendency that I've noticed. She was cute and kinda fun, but I haven't kissed a girl in over a year so it being New Year's that probably would have been on the table if we went out, again. I figured I'm just going to hold out until/if I find something more meaningful with a stronger connection. She had people at the hostel where she was staying in Fairbanks that she could go out with so it wasn't like I was leaving her all alone on the holiday. I would've taken her out, again, if that was the case. I just stayed in and relaxed. It's a good sign that I didn't feel the need to go out.
Of course, there's a tendency to self-reflect at the beginning of a new year. I've come a long way geographically and mentally from the little tropical island off the coast of South Carolina I left a year ago. There will always be a new place to be curious about where I may want to visit or live, but changing things on the outside doesn't guarantee that anything will change on the inside. Of course, if we're happy we may not want to change anything on the inside which in turn may minimize the desire to change anything on the outside, too. I doubt I'm going to find any place more wild and free in the U.S. than where I am, right now. I'll never stop wanting to grow as a person, but growth is an inner journey, maybe even the greatest one, so maybe this is finally the place where my outer journey will finally culminate.
January 5, 2017, Fairbanks, Alaska
It feels like I can take a breath. Made a little money the past couple weeks and finally got paid for it, yesterday. Things are pretty good, but it hasn't been easy. I've had my head down for the majority of the past couple months toughing it out and rolling with the punches, but I can look back on it, now, and maybe once I trudge through a little more it'll be pure progress from here on out. I have to remind myself that writing here is not for someone else's entertainment. I don't care if it's boring to read. This is my lifeline. I have to write this down and get rid of it so I'm not carrying it around in my head. Letting stuff fester in our heads is how things turn into anger or resentment. I can't let that happen, but I still can't ignore how things feel sometimes. I'm still making progress, but it's far from pure. Just today, I wanted to pack up and leave. The people I'm working for can be so inconsiderate that it boils my blood sometimes, but there's nothing I can do about it. If it was a different time of year and the weather was warmer I would have left a long time ago or, at least, had the option to leave and options are what take the pressure off of a situation so it can be dealt with easier with far less rash consequences, but I'm on my own and in the middle of Alaska in the middle of winter so I don't have much of a choice, right now. Saying nothing is better than saying something negative so I write.
In reflection, it speaks volumes about my lack of patience for any negative behavior I've encountered over the years. If things were far from perfect, I'd just hit the road always giving proper notice and consideration, of course, but I'd leave nonetheless because I could. Freedom was the one thing I always had on my side. Work has been kind of a mutated form of codependency. Instead of another person, jobs are all I've ever had so my life and happiness was greatly effected by the jobs I've had so when they weren't to my standards and I had exhausted all my attempts to improve the situation I felt like I had no choice, but to move on because I couldn't live with the biggest part of my life making me unhappy. This has had it's pros and cons. It's made for plenty of excitement, freedom and travel that's for sure and it's taught me how to be a bad-ass worker who keeps very high standards basically because I couldn't afford not to. Over time, it's grown into a formula that doing a good job regardless of any other consequences actually makes me feel great. That's a whole other subject that I look forward to elaborating on. These are good things and commodities all their own. But, feeling like I've had no choice and that it's all or nothing creates a lot of pressure that I've had to keep hidden away and that's not such a good thing.
Having a plan B is always a good thing. For a freespirit it's having some money saved away in case I need to roll, but after 4 months of making little to none it's gotten lower than I'd prefer and, now, considering that a person literally cannot drive out of here in the wintertime my options have become fewer. We're too far north. Eventually, you'd need to pull over and sleep and when you did your car's engine would freeze unless it had an engine heater installed in it and you were able to park somewhere where you could plug it in, but there's a lot of remote wilderness between here and the lower 48 states so finding a place every night would not be easy. The other option would be to let your car run while you slept. Not a good one for a number of reasons. There are just enough small towns sprinkled along the road through Canada that a person could do it if they planned ahead and stayed in motels. I'm guessing motels would have places for people to plug in their cars, but it would be a risky trip to make under such conditions pulling my trailer and all my earthly belongings in it, not to mention I'd be close to broke by the time I made it someplace warmer. It would cost me over a $1,000 just in gas. The other option would be to liquidate everything, which I might do this spring anyways, and fly out of here to......? But, even doing this in these temperatures would be anything, but smooth so I'm stuck here and must endure what feels like disrespect.
It's not blatant and doesn't seem intentional so it's almost impossible to address, but once it builds up enough I have to tactfully and diplomatically address it as best I can without offending anyone. This is supposed to be a fun job! I've never actually taken a job for the fun of it. I'm not saying I haven't had fun on certain jobs, but I've never sought one out for fun before. That was a big step for me. I actually gave (made) them a card on Christmas just like I did on Thanksgiving when they asked me to work for them, again, so they could spend the day with family and friends. Normally, the employer is the one who gives their employees a card or even a bonus on the holidays, haha. Wouldn't that be a shock. The mind is a cunning and baffling thing especially when it's practiced in the art of avoidance eventually anything can feel normal and acceptable. Things improve here a little for a little while then they slip back. I would never treat someone the way they treat me nor have I ever tolerated such treatment, but this is life and I'm getting a dose of it. My responsibility is to not let it wear me down or make me jaded and I won't. "They know not what they do. They know not what they do."
I still work my butt off everyday and go above and beyond regardless if they appreciate it or even know. I won't let someone else or this world make me be any less of a person. I work long days usually from 9 to around 6, sometimes I finish earlier, sometimes a lot later. The girls I work for don't usually get to work til after 10. One could say I'm a fool for coming in an hour before them, but I don't care. There's so much that needs to be done that the longer I wait the longer it'll take. I'm not going to be petty and say "Why should I do more work than them? I'm not even getting paid by the hour!" Being petty is beneath me. One time I slept in because I'd been up all night unable to fall asleep and it was 10 o'clock before the chores had been started and the dogs hadn't been fed. I felt like such a slacker that I'll never do that, again.
But, all in all, I can't complain. I have a warm place to live, business has started to pick up and I might actually make a few dollars by the time spring comes around. I've been living on $75/week which they forget to pay me pretty much every week. My initial reaction to such a low amount might have been to be embarrassed or offended, but that's not how I see it anymore. How many people do you know can live on so little for over 3 months? Maintaining my freedom all these years and continuing to learn from what only real life can teach is an accomplishment. Not to mention, it's hard work and long days. Most people haven't managed their lives and finances in a way that would allow them to live this. I'm as free as I've ever been with a lifetime of experience to apply it to tomorrow. I'm still having fun when I'm not around the people I work for. I'm outdoors and getting lots of exercise. If I make it til spring I will have experienced an Alaskan winter, got to work with dogs (one of my favorite animals) and hopefully have more money than I got here with. I get a small percentage of the profits when we do tours in addition to my stipend. The girl who's more like the manager already offered me a job for the summer which is pretty unlikely that'll take. Until then, I have plenty of progress to make and writing to do, not to mention normal everyday tasks that any life entails working 5 days a week. When I need a break, I'll practice my guitar.
An added bonus is I feel awesome physically, right now. Carrying 5 gallon buckets full of water and food, chopping wood, lugging frozen blocks of meat and bags of dog food around all day is a great work-out. I installed a bar in the rafters of the loft in my cabin and tied two pieces of rope to it with padding around them so at night I slide my feet through the rope and hang upside down from the bar for a few minutes. I figure gravity is one of the major reasons most people have spine and back problems so why not reverse it's affect by hanging upside down once in a while. Seems to be helping. I try to pick one of the dogs that hasn't been exercised as much as the others and take him or her for a run in the mornings before work and normally I can feel a little jarring in the back of my neck when I jog. It doesn't hurt or anything, but I don't particularly like it. I don't feel it as much since I've been using the bar.
Even though I was alone for Christmas one cool thing happened. I got a call from the man who I worked for before I came here. It was an accident, but it still turned out nice. Someone with the same name as me sent him a Christmas card so he called me to thank me. I felt bad because I didn't send him one and told him that he must know more than one person with my name, but he said that I was the only one he had in his phone so he called me. We laughed about it then he told me how Tracy, the skinny little dog that I had been working with a lot before I left has been sleeping in her house. I was so happy and relieved. I still think about her and the other dogs all the time. I'm so glad she's not outside sleeping on the frozen ground anymore and he told me she's, also, become a good lead dog, too, which is the most important dog on a team. I know it's silly and they're just dogs, but it still made my day. It was the only call I got on the holidays. A buddy I recently made came by later and helped out with the chores a little so I took him for a sled ride before he left.
I can't guarantee that I'm going to make it, but I can guarantee that I'm never going to stop trying. Where am I trying to make it to?
January 23, 2017, Fairbanks, Alaska
Watched some football highlights on my phone yesterday evening. Haven't owned or watched t.v. in decades. I don't really follow sports closely either, but I talked to a buddy earlier in the day on the phone and he reminded me that it was the playoffs. Looks like the Pats are headed to the superbowl, again. It's pretty surreal to watch that stuff. I was an athlete growing up and it seems like a completely different lifetime. There's a good chance some of my cousins back in Boston were even at Gillette Stadium watching the game. Seems like a different planet. I guess it is.
When I cut through how removed it is from my existence and look past all the things that make it such a business, I simply see a sport being played. I see human beings being very physical and competing for the singular purpose of pushing their bodies and their mental abilities to the limit. I remember when I used to go church a lot more, especially during many of my walks. Every Sunday, I'd take a break and find a church no matter where I was whether it was a black or white one, Christian or Catholic, Buddhist or Jewish, and attend a service. I often heard the expression "the glory of God" and even though I know what each of the words in the expression mean, it's meaning as a whole always seemed to be up for interpretation. I didn't take it to mean to glorify some religious figure or idea and I didn't see it as an instruction to adhere to a specific belief system. The glory of God, to me, means living life to its full potential, to push oneself to our limits as a form of expression like the way a humpback whale breaches it's 40 ton body out of the ocean. Maybe the feet serves some biological purpose for the whale, but it really seems like it's just saying "Look what I can do!" I guess that's why it was fun to watch the football highlights as I tried not to think about how much they were getting paid while honest hard working Americans make far less and do all they can to make ends, but that's a topic for a later date.
I thought about it, today, as I was tearing through a pile of frozen salmon with an ax. We chop the salmon in half so we can fit about 15 of them into a giant steel pot to cook over an open fire everyday. I had to chop up over 40, today, because apparently no one else felt like doing it the last few days while I was off. I don't let how messed up this place is get to me anymore. I just keep my mouth shut and work my butt off and get my frustrations out on the frozen fish that fly in the air when the ax head hits them. The chopping block sits in the snow a few feet away from the big fish tote that we keep the chopped salmon in so sometimes if I hit one just right half of it flies in the air and lands in the tote and I laugh. It's fun. Not sure I'd call it the glory of God, but I know my life is and so does he, she or it.
January 25, 2017, Fairbanks, Anchorage
Well, so much for pure progress. I gotta get the heck out of here. Things are just getting worse and my only option is to go numb to it like they have and I'll never do that. I started documenting everything that happens here so I can prove if I have to what's been going on. Obviously, another option is to sit down and talk with them, but they've made it pretty clear that they're not interested in doing this. Honestly, I'm not sure how much good it would do because I would be the one calling the meeting just like I was the one who called the only other one we've ever had which was two months ago when I tactfully and maybe naively tried to address questions and issues that I was having, but, now, I know that I don't have any issues. I'm an honest, hard working, dependable and considerate person. I'm an employer's wet dream and I have a list of past employers a mile long who would agree. I'm just stuck working with two people who have no desire to deal with their problems. One of them actually said the other day that it's good that the three of us never work together. It's only just two of us. The sad thing is she actually believes it's a good thing. A company of only three people that live and work on the same property yet never work together or sit down to go over things doesn't sound like a very healthy place to work. The sad thing is on a couple of occasions when one of them has gone away for a couple days and left me and the other one here to work together it's been a pleasant experience. They talk and smile more. I'd hate to tell them this seeing as their in a romantic relationship together.
Of course, I will talk to them before I leave. I'll probably buy them a gift which always makes leaving a job easier while, also, reminding me to keep a positive attitude and it shows them that there's no hard feelings. I might even give them the option to let me improve the team atmosphere here. I know how to communicate and address issues in a positive way. Make no mistake. I'm not some guy that doesn't know how to talk to people or take charge of a situation so he runs off to his computer and types away. This is not the case. It's just the opposite. The only reason I have to resort to writing about it is because most people can't handle the truth, can't see it or are petrified of it. A lot of people have no desire to deal with issues because they think the issues are hopeless. I know that most aren't hopeless and would be happy to show them this, but I have to be careful not to get sucked into their drama if I attempt it seeing as I'm already outnumbered and there is absolutely no one else here to witness what goes on here. One of them showed up to the barn crying the other night because of something the other one did and all I wanted to do was comfort her even though they both treat me the same way all the time. I could ask the owner of the facilities, who they rent from, to participate in conversation between all three of us, but they already don't like him and would never want him to be involved. He does have a business manager, a woman, who seems pretty level-headed. I don't know her very well, but she does have some idea of how things are here when she occasionally comes and goes from the office above the barn. And, the girls seem to like her to some degree. It's something to consider, but the point is that I can't try to make people deal with things that they don't want to deal with. The best thing unfortunately is probably for me to leave.
Something needs to change. That's for sure. This is just not healthy. Last night, I called the sled dog company that offered me a job a couple months ago. The owner unfortunately didn't get his dogs properly vaccinated so his other musher couldn't enter them in the big upcoming race that they've been training for all winter so he no longer needs an additional musher seeing as the one there, now, has no race to run and will probably focus on doing tours like I would've been doing. He couldn't believe I was still here and when he said "Wow, you must have a lot of patience. I could never work like that" it hit me like a ton of bricks that it wasn't me who had the problem and it's amazing that I've lasted this long. Not sure where I'll go, but I can load up and head to Anchorage where it's generally 20 degrees "warmer" and regroup. I actually liked it a lot better down there and the people seemed friendlier. I just wanted to experience a full on Alaskan winter and with the 50 below temperatures we had last week and how everyone is saying this is more snow than they can remember, I guess maybe I have. Maybe I'll sell everything and head south for the remainder of the winter and come back in the spring, book written with a better plan. I had a plan for this winter and lord knows I've tried to keep it, but not at the risk of making myself miserable. I can't control how other people are and I can't help them if they don't want my help. Leaving feels a little daunting, but anything's better than this at this point. After tomorrow, I'm off til Monday so I'll clear my head and think about it this weekend.
February 9, 2017, Trapper Creek, Alaska
I'm a man and I'm supposed to have it all under control. I'm supposed to know what to do when times get hard and I do. I always do. It's just been a long uphill battle. In times like these, I'm just not sure who I'm fighting it for. Some may say that it's an impossible battle so why even fight it? I've racked my brain trying to answer that question for twenty years. The truth is that I don't really know why I've lived the way I have. Of course, I could come up with lots of rational reasons, but I'm not sure any of them really get to the heart of the matter. When it all started, this is the best way I could describe it and it's still true.
Long ago, we all left on a journey together. One day while we were making our way through a forest we strayed off course, but the leaders of the group didn't tell us. They feared it would cause a panic jeopardizing the safety and control of the group. We trusted our leaders so we kept going without knowing we'd lost our direction. Members that enjoyed a high level of status and privilege in the group knew we were off course, but didn't say anything because they didn't want anything to change that would affect their standing. A few other intelligent members learned that we had strayed, but believed nothing could be done about it so they went along with the group opting to only take care of those close to them while secretly losing hope in our journey as a whole. Other members were so distracted by their own lives and the inner drama of the group that they never realized we were off course and many were just too busy keeping up to notice.
I was born and grew up in the group long after this happened. As I became a young man I had a feeling something wasn't right. I tried to talk to my elders about it, but no one wanted to listen. They raised me to be honest, hard-working and to always do what's right which made it impossible for me to follow in the direction that we were headed when I saw some of the things that we were doing. I thought if I could find the place that we were all trying to get to and bring proof of it back then maybe someone would listen, so I left.
February 15, 2017, Turnagain Arm, Alaska
It's so much warmer in Anchorage, relatively speaking, but more congested making it harder to find a place to park at night especially with 5 foot high snow banks everywhere, but warmer is better. It's still cold and below freezing. As I drive around at night in the city past homeless people huddled together on the sidewalks while big empty office buildings are lit up and heated standing tall in the background I'm reminded, even here, how messed up our values as a people are. I find a quiet spot next to a small office building and check to make sure there aren't any "no parking" signs. The next morning a maintenance man comes out as I'm cranking down my hitch to leave (at night, I put a block under it to give the rear suspension of my truck a break from hauling such a heavy load around all day) and asks me "Taking off?" I look him in the eye for a moment still thinking about how messed up are values are and finally say "Yes" as I continued to stare at him cranking down the hitch. He doesn't say a word, but makes an expression as if he doesn't approve of me parking there and walks off in an arbitrary direction because I have no doubt he'd come out to confront me and for no other reason. I'd seen him a few minutes earlier as he wheeled a cart of flattened cardboard boxes across the street to a dumpster. He hadn't even put on a jacket to do this, but, now, he was all dressed up in his carhartt jacket trying to be a tough guy. I head over to the library and use my laptop to apply for a management position on a farm back east and to post some items on craigslist to sell. I could do it in my truck, but I wanted to research intentional communities and non-denominational churches, too. I need to find a place to belong. Being alone all the time is taking it's toll. If I wrote about just how much, this would not be fun to read. I used to go to church every Sunday no matter where I was, but the singularity of many religions manifests itself in fear too often. Plus, it's good to get a change of scenery and sit down somewhere warm even if city libraries often double as adult day care. That's what headphones are for.
I've sold a bunch of stuff to make room in my trailer so I can work on it and then sell it, too. I've loved having a place to call home, even if it is mobile, but I look forward to not having the pressure of towing it around 24/7. I had a huge scare on the way down here from Fairbanks the other night. Almost lost everything. I drive pretty slow with the trailer especially in snowy conditions. In all the miles I've traveled, I've never had an incident, but I still don't know how I survived this one. They don't really plow the roads up here like one would expect. It's simply a practical solution to how much it snows up here and how cold it gets not to mention how remote some of the roads are. It's just not possible to plow all the roads everytime it snows especially considering it's the largest state in the country with the least amount of people.
It was late at night heading from Fairbanks to Anchorage when I hit a sheet of ice which spun me out of control. It wasn't sudden, but happened gradually so, at first, I didn't even realize my truck was sliding as it began to turn sideways going down the highway and the trailer jack-knifed behind me. If you've ever been in a car accident, there's those few seconds when it's actually happening that you're in total shock and everything almost feels like it's happening in slow motion as the thoughts "Is this really happening?!!" are screaming in your head. Actually, I think I quietly said out loud "No, no, no." Having grown up in New England with plenty of experience driving on snow and having driven so many tractors, trucks and hay trailers on muddy fields not to mention having fun as a teenager doing donuts in empty parking lots after a blizzard the combination off all of this added up to the instincts to correct the slide just enough to send me spinning in the opposite direction staring straight into the giant snow bank and trees that line the highway so then I gently corrected, again, somehow managing to spin me around the other way, but this time as I did I stepped on the brakes just enough for the trailer to act as an anchor and straighten me out. Parked diagonally across the highway, my heart pounded through my chest. I pulled over alongside the snow bank on my side of the dark highway. When I calmed down a little I got out and walked around the truck and trailer and to my disbelief there wasn't a scratch on it. "Enough is enough. Get yourself out of this situation! This was your warning", I said to myself.
The next morning parked in a quiet turnout a couple hours north of Anchorage I spent an hour or so putting the disarray inside of the trailer back together. A couple of things had slid into each other, but no serious damage was done.
When I sell stuff, I price them to sell, not for a profit. Karma is more important to me than making money. Getting rid of the item is the objective not trying to get every last dollar I can out of it so I sell stuff dirt cheap sometimes so cheap that people I'm sure often wonder if there's something wrong with it, but once they meet me and talk to me they usually can tell that I'm a carefree guy who has no real bills and money doesn't mean as much to me as freedom. I sold my motorcycle before I left Fairbanks. I, also, bumped into the business manager of the sled dog facility at the grocery store who learned that I had moved on and she assured me that it was the right decision. When I got down here I sold my welder, gave away two chainsaws (they got rained on and I haven't had time to pull the carbs and clean them) and I'm still waiting on a woman who wants to buy an area rug I bought for the cabin. It's funny how much easier it is to sell tools. Guys are so much more direct and to the point. Within a matter of hours after posting them my tools sell. The rug is taking days and it's the cheapest item.
I just need to make enough room in the trailer to work on it. I'm still not sleeping in it. It's too cold to try to heat such big area. The truck is more efficient. I do have enough firewood to start up the wood stove for a day or so and make it nice and cozy in the trailer to work once the rug sells (right now, it's rolled up, but in the way). Finding a place not too far away that I can park and start a fire will be the challenge. Anchorage has suburbs which means I have to travel further to get out into the real country where people can pretty much do what they want.
February 19, 2017, Butte, Alaska
Parked on the mountain road that winds up to Eklutna Lake for the last two days, stripped the paneling out of the shower and put up new ones with nicer trim around then, replaced all the handles on the kitchen cabinets with a matching set and filled in the old holes and any other imperfections for it all to be painted, headed into Palmer, got some more firewood at $5/a bundle -ouch, and went to church this morning. Had kind of a melt down last night and it's all simply because I have no one to talk to. The service was nice. It was a newer non-denominational church with lots of uplifting music and the pastor was great. He and I sat down for a few minutes and talked afterwards. I didn't tell him my story or situation. I'm not sure he could have wrapped his head around it all in one sitting and still believed I was for real, but it was still nice to meet him.
We are the only species on the planet that has learned the ability to ignore one another. You cannot walk into a wolf pack without being attacked or welcomed. Even a native American tribe less than two hundred years ago would not let you enter unnoticed. Numbers is a big factor these days. There are simply too many of us in a lot of places, but the other major reason is that we are taught to do this especially in the U.S.
Found a big parking area near the Knik River where a lot of snow mobilers (they call them snow machines up here) park their trucks and trailers and started a fire. It's a little late in the afternoon to be starting a project, but I've got to get these cabinets painted and this trailer sold before I run out of money.
February 21, 2017, Anchorage, Alaska
It was around 20 below in Fairbanks the last few nights I spent up there in my truck, but I've since been able to move into the trailer down here in the Anchorage area, but it's still been a little chilly and the paint I was going to use froze so I had to buy another gallon and snuggle up with it last night so it wouldn't freeze. I hated to do it, but I bought a bunch of more wood, too, so I can start a fire that will last all day and warm everything up enough to finish my projects.
I don't like how I've been sounding lately so I know that I need to be more positive, but, right now, I need to roll my sleeves up and get stuff done.
February 23, 2017, Anchorage, Alaska
Gave the cabinets 3 coats of paint, yesterday. They look really nice, but I should have used semi-gloss, not satin. I didn't want them to be too shiny, but satin is not shinny enough. Next time, I'll know. Bought some more molding and finished putting it up around the kitchen. Re-fiberglassed the shower base where one of the solar batteries that I had left on the kitchen floor slid into it when I had my exciting little swerve session the other night, fiberglassed the handle on the propane heater (which, also, got banged up that night) and one end of the kayak paddle that's always had a little crack in it. Took down the kayak and took pictures of it to post with the add I put up on craigslist to sell it. Fixed the folding desk that I installed on the interior wall when I first got the trailer which has had a piece of wood missing from one of its legs for a while.
"Your mind is your comfort zone." I realized something last night. Loneliness is not my problem. I love spending time with people, but I'm, also, not afraid to spend time by myself either. My track record proves this, not to mention the laughter that fills my day when something funny happens or occurs even when I'm by myself, so why do I feel so painfully lonely all the time? I was sitting in my truck -big surprise, having just left my parking spot from the previous night along the ocean on a busy section of highway that runs between Anchorage and Portage. I was anxious to move because I can't spend too much time at a highly visible spot like that, but I didn't know where I was headed. I'm running out of spots this close to the city so I just drove up the highway towards Anchorage and parked at a different turnout to make a plan. I'd gotten a lot done in the last 24hrs, but the kayak is, now, laying on the floor of the trailer, all 16' of it, which kind of makes it difficult to move around in there. I took it down to wash it and take pictures of it, but it seems pointless to hoist it back up to the ceiling of the trailer where it usually lives if I'm going to sell it. I had to disconnect the wood stove to make room the kayak so I can't warm the place up either. "But, what's the real problem?" I asked myself. Yes, it's cold which can tap a person's motivation and it feels cluttered in the trailer with the kayak taking up all the floor space, but so what? These things aren't life threatening. I picked a little task to do and said "Keep moving." I have enough clothes on to keep warm at these temperatures. It was only 15 degrees. I just worked through 50 below this winter. I haven't been eating a lot and hunger can take the wind out of a person's sails, too, so I bundled up and went in the trailer and cooked up some eggs.
Wait, a moose just walked by. I'm at the library, now, in downtown Anchorage. I got an email so I'm waiting to meet someone interested in buying the kayak and a big ol'moose is standing in front of my truck. I'm trying not to project my own feelings or concerns onto her. For all I know, she knows exactly what she's doing, but she does have a pretty long walk to get back to the wilderness. I've had my fair share of run-in's with moose this winter with the dogs. I hopped out of my truck and got between her and a little boy whose father didn't see it. There's a little playground behind the library. Moose can be very dangerous and are not afraid of humans, but if you give them a wide berth and leave them alone they'll leave you alone. The father and boy left without even noticing her. Now, she's in a small group of trees that border a duck pond nibbling on some branches. After her snack, she decided to lie down in the snow and there she sits as cars drive by all around her without even noticing. I'm just going to keep my eye out for any pedestrians that walk too close.
The gentleman interested in the kayak came and bought it. He wanted a big tandem like mine for his wife and kids. He was a nice guy and I bought some girl scout cookies from him that his daughter was selling. Later in the night parked on a city street as I curled up under the covers, two hooded sweat-shirts on, a stocking hat, a fleece gaiter, long underwear, jeans, two sleeping bags and two comforters, I thought about the moose across town curled up in the cold, too.
March 1, 2017, Beach Lake Road, Alaska
Everything is pretty much done and I've posted an ad online to sell the trailer. I got in a routine. I'd load up with wood and food, drive out to a remote wilderness road, find a turn-out to park in, start a fire, warm the place up, get a bunch of projects done, drive back into the city when the wood was gone, sell some tools I'd no longer need, load back up and head out of town to do it, again. The challenge has been to take pictures of the interior of the trailer while I'm still using it. Prospective buyers don't want to see my stuff in the pictures. They want to see an empty trailer that they can put their stuff in so I moved as much as I can fit into the truck to take pictures, but couldn't quite fit everything in it. It was after all a 20' trailer, not a 4-door suv so I bought some big plastic storage bins to put the rest in and would just move them outside to take pictures. It's not the most ideal way to do things. I thought about getting a storage unit to temporarily move everything into, but you never know what tool you might need when doing a project which means I'd have to park nearby in the city which meant I couldn't start a fire.
Living outside the box and under the radar can become quite the juggling act in certain situations, but I'd rather spend the extra money on gas and wood to be warm, comfortable and out of sight from nosey people who have nothing better to do than wonder what I'm up to so I head out of town every chance I get alternating which direction I head in each time, but even parked way up on a mountain road I still wasn't safe from the meddlings of other people when a police officer pulled up to my trailer the other day. He'd gotten complaints that I was bombing up and down the road on a snow machine. I explained to him that I don't own a snow machine which he didn't hesitate to agree with as he looked around on the ground around my trailer and saw no tracks. I actually saw the guy go by a couple times and told the officer this. We were both a little puzzled why anyone would say it was me, but that's what people do. He was very polite and apologized for bothering me and other than being accused of something I wasn't doing it was a reasonably pleasant interaction. If you're not doing anything wrong and have nothing to hide these types of interactions are usually pretty uneventful and sometimes the cop even enjoys meeting me, but it's still not a fun feeling to know people can mess with me whenever they want. It was late afternoon and I had only been there about an hour before the officer came by and luckily I had decided not to start a fire so I could leave without needing to put it out. I don't think it is illegal, but the less opportunities I create for people to question the better. Usually I pull my mountain bike out and lean it on the outside of the trailer to get it out of the way, but, also, to give people's mind something to think when they drive by and look. Mountain biking even in the winter is very popular up here, but after the police had left I just decided to leave and find some place else to park.
It didn't make any sense to start a fire, now, this late in the day when I found my new spot in a completely different area. I had to conserve what wood I had so I bundled up warm and worked on as many projects as I could that didn't require me to heat up any paint, caulking or fiberglass. I opted to strip the old panels and molding off the shower, measure and cut new ones and get everything ready to be installed the next day. I pulled the generator out of the truck and fired it up. Cutting a 4x8 sheet of shower paneling inside the trailer was a little crowded, but it all came out nice.
March 7, 2017, Anchorage, Alaska
Got frost bite on my toes yesterday so I'm sitting on the couch of a new friend, at the moment, and will be staying here tonight. I parked the truck and trailer in a hotel parking lot about a mile away because Anchorage has gotten a lot of snow this winter and the snow banks are so big that it's not possible to park along the road in a lot of residential areas. In a few minutes, I'm going to walk back and move it. I didn't want to leave it there so I found a spot that is a lot closer near a school when I was walking over here. The trailer should be ready to sell tomorrow. I took the ad down that I posted last week because I wanted to wash it and take better pics.
After discovering that my toes were in jeopardy I decided that I should get a hotel room for the night, but on my way there the truck broke down at stop light in the middle of Anchorage at 5 o'clock. Pulled some saw horses out of the trailer and set them up behind the trailer so people wouldn't pull up behind me at the light. It was my alternator. I heard it making an unhealthy sound a few minutes prior to the incident, but was surprised it stopped working so quickly. Depending on how the charging system of a particular vehicle is composed some will continue running for quite a long time (especially during the day if the headlights aren't being used) even if the alternator fails if you have a good battery which I do. Pulled one of the deep cycle batteries out of the trailer and hooked it up to the truck battery to see if it would give me enough juice to start the truck so I could pull it out of the intersection and across the street to a parking lot, but it didn't work. From the intersection, I could see a napa auto parts and called them to see if they had an alternator that fit my truck. An alternator is not a very hard part to replace, usually two bolts and a couple wire connections. The fan belt is usually the only thing that needs to be removed first. I was seriously considering replacing the alternator right there in there intersection if I had to, but napa didn't have one at that location. Called another store which was a mile away and they did. While I was sitting there making phone calls a nice guy stopped and walked over to see if he could be of any help. We decided that getting pulled out of the intersection was probably the best solution. A tow truck was not a great option seeing as I had a 20 enclosed trailer hooked onto my truck, but worse comes to worse there are flatbed tow trucks big enough to do it, but it would probably take a long time for them to get there and a lot of money. While I was sizing up yanking the alternator Sean, the nice guy who had stopped, had found a guy driving a big dodge 4x4 who was willing to pull me across the road. Grabbed one of my tow straps that I used many times to pull other people out of snow banks, hooked it onto the front of my truck as Trey, the young guy in the dodge, pulled around me and backed up to my front bumper and I quickly hooked the other end to his trailer hitch, jumped in my truck and off we went.
We rolled into a parking lot diagonally across the street, I unhooked us and shook both their hands thanking them very much. Sean had stopped traffic and followed us in his subaru. Pulled the alternator, got a ride to autozone from a new friend who had driven by when all this was going on when she was on her way home from work, put the new alternator in and drove my truck over to her house. Good thing I hadn't gotten a room after all. I needed that $150 to buy the alternator.
March 12, 2017, Anchorage, Alaska
Parked downtown in the big city this morning. Just cooked up some eggs and toast for lunch. What more can a guy ask for? It was 8 degrees when I stepped in here, but the sun is out it and it's warming up fast. The solar panels are charging and doing their job...finally with enough sunshine. It was a long winter without them. I'm definitely not in the clear, yet, by any means, but things are moving forward slowly, but surely. I'd love to fire up the wood stove, but that would not be wise in such a high profile parking spot. I was going to take a walk to the museum this afternoon hence parking here, but I got side-tracked by a few little projects. I keep finding more that I can do before reposting the ad. I'm, also, enjoying the extra space I have in here having sold most of my big item tools and toys; welder, generator, air compressor, table saw, kayak, motorcycle, etc. I'm sitting by my little propane heater to keep warm as I type....and to keep my toes from getting frost bit, again. I heated up the pot of ice on the stove after I cooked my eggs to wash my face and take a vagabond shower. It may seem like a lot of trouble to go to in order to keep living like this, but I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and if I make it what I'll be capable of something that I honestly think few have achieved.
I remember last week when I was painting the kitchen cabinets dipping my brush in the gallon pale as it sat on the hot wood stove to keep it from freezing. Actually, there was a frozen clump floating in the middle of the paint like a half-submerged iceberg, but I still managed to finish the job. I was euphoric to be cozy and warm with a fire going parked on a wilderness road at the foot of a mountain range far enough away from civilization that no one was going to bother me. The only thing left to sell is the trailer, my home. I'm gong to miss it. I really love it and it looks great, but I love/need freedom even more. It certainly hasn't been easy, but I got all my projects done and the anticipation of what might be ahead is so intense and amazing that I'm almost afraid to pinch myself. There's lots to recap, but I'm still in the thick of it and they'll be plenty of time for that IF I make it. Time is what I'm buying with what I'm letting go of.
March 25, 2017, Anchorage, Alaska
Well, I suppose that I should write about it. I was going to wait til things stabilized a little more, but thinking about it, today, I realized that it's completely natural for me to be so anxious this past week. My trailer was stolen. I needed to wash my trailer so , last week, I decided to get a room. I filled up a few buckets of hot water, one soapy, two just hot water. I had to keeping running back and forth from the motel to fill up the buckets with just hot water to rinse the soap off in the cold evening air because it froze immediately when it touched the trailer. The process was a little pointless, but graduallt I got the whole trailer clean. When I walked out of the motel the next morning, my trailer was gone. I stood there in disbelief as if the moment was frozen in time. I had unhooked the trailer and parked my truck next to it so that I didn't take up too many parking spaces had a left it hooked up and parked it lengthwise. I parked my truck at a slight angle so no one could back up to the trailer. Someone obviously still did. I could see the skid marks in the snow where they had dragged the front of trailer unable to crank up the hitch because I had taken off the handle so it couldn't be cranked by hand. A person would need a 3/4" wrench or ratchet, not to mention they'd have to cut off the padlock on the hitch itself. They didn't have the right tool so they just pulled the hitch off the block it was sitting on and dragged it down the road I'm assuming by wrapping a heavy chain around the whole tongue. Everything I owned, my entire life, was in that trailer. I remember thinking to myself "Things like this don't happen to me." I asserted this not because I think that I'm special, but because I always take precautions. I always have all these years. Flying without a net like I have, I can't be too careful and I've never had any trouble, but that night I got sloppy and let my guard down for a few hours and this was the result.
Quickly, I walked back into the motel to the front desk still in shock and asked if they had towed it. That night I asked them if it was ok for me to park it there and they said that it was and even gave me a little tag to put on it so I figured it was a long shot that they had towed it, but I still had to ask. The woman at the desk told me that they hadn't and gave me the number for the Anchorage police department. Not to be negative, but she didn't seem too concerned. She barely looked up from what she was doing when I told her my 20' enclosed trailer was missing. I was on hold for a few minutes with the police then I told the woman who took the call at the station that my trailer had been stolen from the motel where I was staying. She told me to hold on and connected me to a different department. It was the records department and the outgoing message told me to hold, again. I hung up and called back. This time going into more detail and explaining that it was kind of an emergency. Eventually, we touched on the fact that I was from Maine and didn't live in Anchorage. She said "Wait, you're from Maine?! We found your trailer. It was attached to a stolen truck we found on the side of the road last night."
I'll spare you the details, but $200 later to get it out of the yard where the police had it towed and I had my trailer back. The front jack was broken, the back door latch had been chiseled off and the interior was completely trashed along with some more damage to things like the desk. One surprising detail was that there was a lot of other stuff in the trailer that wasn't mine. The thieves had thrown in a fiberglass tonneau cover for a pick up truck, bags of clothes and other random items. Needless to say, the place was a total mess and it smelled like cigarettes.
A week later, everything's been repaired or replaced and it's looking great, again. Right now, I'm parked by a frozen lake which doubles as a runway in the winter for many flying enthusiasts and small flight touring businesses based in Anchorage. I'm waiting for it to get dark and cold enough for the roads to freeze over before heading closer to downtown. The afternoons have been warming up to the 30's creating a lot of puddles in the roads and I just washed the trailer, again, and don't want it getting dirty before I can park it someplace visible (while keeping it hooked on to the truck) with a "For Sale" sign on it. It's already posted online.
My new friend who had let me crash at her house for a couple nights to thaw out the mild frost bite on my toes a couple weeks ago suggested that I park it in her driveway when she found out what happened while I fixed everything. I took her up on it. I remember thinking to myself that evening at the motel "People are scurrying as quickly as they can indoors to get away from the piercing wind and cold while you're out here all bundle up dunking a mop into a bucket of soapy water trying to wash your trailer. Dude, have you lost your mind?" The frost bite incident was bad enough, but to me it was no big deal. My comforters must have just slid of my feet during the night leaving only two sleeping bags between my feet and the subzero temperatures, but it didn't hurt enough to wake me up. I slept right through it. It wasn't until the next morning when I tried to walk that I realized something was wrong with the toes on my right foot. It took two nights indoors on my friend's couch to convince me that they were going to recover. I was lucky, but later that week I still hadn't been able to get the trailer clean enough. I couldn't park close enough to my friend's house because the roads were so narrow and crowded with piles of snow to wash it there. I did find a self-serve car wash big enough to accommodate a trailer or rv, but, again, the water froze seconds after I sprayed it on and it didn't have a scrub brush only a wand which didn't get the trailer very clean so I figured if I got a motel room. I could fill up a couple 5 gallon buckets of hot water and wash it that way and I could take a break from the road for the night and regroup. Crashing on my friend's couch was definitely a good thing, but I was still a guest in someone else's space. My own room even at a cheap motel would allow me to give my brain a break from constantly having to be aware of my surroundings, but as it turned out not aware enough.
I hadn't wanted to stay at that particular motel, a motel 6. I drove by it the previous day and didn't like the vibe I got so I decided to check out a number of other motels in Anchorage, but couldn't find one with ample parking for my big rig so I resorted to going back to that location because it was in a more commercial area with more room to park. Twice not even 30 minutes after I had checked in people were trying to follow me in one of the side doors which were locked, but I when I asked them if they had a key they didn't so I didn't let them in. Later when I was getting ready to wash my trailer parked on the street near the motel so no one could hassle me for doing it in the parking lot, I saw two of the people that I had turned away, a native man and woman. I had felt bad. Here I was a white man telling them they couldn't go somewhere. Again, the man tried to sell me a bluetooth speaker that he pulled out of his jacket. I told him that he had just asked me a few minutes ago over by the motel. I was dressed different, now, getting ready to wash the trailer so maybe he didn't realize. He apologized and I said "Man, what are you doing?" He said "I donno. I'm hawking my stuff. I don't like having to, but we're homeless." "Where are you staying?" In a tent" he said. "I'm on my own, too" I told him "But, this is your land, your home, not mine." We talked for a few minutes. I didn't have much money myself, but I gave him 5 bucks.
I did mention that I'd been selling my tools to survive and how I was getting ready to sell my trailer and he said that a friend of his might be interested and asked for my number. I kind of wonder if he had something to do with my trailer getting stolen. Maybe he told the wrong people. Whatever, I got it back. Luckily I had sold all my expensive items and all they took was my guitar (that I greatly miss) which I didn't even realize was gone for a couple days later because the place was such a mess when I got it back and I was more focused on the mechanical repairs. I tried to look at the whole experience differently by considering the fact that if I had caught them in the act that night I'd probably be in jail for what I would have done to them. As it stands, now, I'm back on track and they're still losers. Despite it all before realizing what had happen, my mind was able to reset getting a break from the road for the night.
March 27, 2017, Anchorage, Alaska
Took a class at the rock gym, this evening. I figured it'd be a good place to park the trailer with a "for sale" sign on it seeing as a lot of active outdoorsy type people with money to spend on climbing a giant wall indoors go there. It's always a trip being exposed to a world similar to the one I spent a lot of my time in as a youth. I played a lot of sports growing up. They were pretty much my life really. I think it was partly my parents way of assuring I'd stay out of trouble. It worked. I never really got into any kind of serious trouble growing up. What in the world did I know back then? What could I know? A suburban white boy with everything I needed provided for me. I was so caught up in the world of athletics that I didn't have a clue as to what the real world was like. Luckily, I still managed to spend a lot of time off in the worlds usually with my dog. Sports taught me how to work hard so that was a good thing and playing sports came very natural so that part was easy, but mentally living only in that world kept me in a very one-sided mind set that I had to finally break out of in college to let all the other parts of me grow.
Don't get me wrong, I had blast at the rock gym. If I'm going to be an area for an extended period of time, I'll often get a membership at a local health club to have access to a shower and, when I need to, I'll lift weights, but I hate it with a passion. It's so boring. Rock climbing, on the other hand, is an awesome way to get a similar work out and it's a lot more fun than standing in front of a mirror lifting dumbbells. Rock climbing has, also, become super trendy and popular and the facility was very nice and state of the art. The way I looked at it, for 20 bucks I got some good advertising...and got to have some fun. I'm sort of a little monkey so up the walls I went with no problem. Despite the big smile on my face for the majority of the time, I didn't meet any new people. Well, except the guy who took my money and enrolled me in the class, but a big reason for this is that I'm not as outgoing as I normally am because I'm skating on pretty thin ice at the moment.
I got there a couple hours early to sign up because their website says the class fills up fast, plus the longer my rig was in the parking lot, which was big with plenty of room, the better. I wasn't allowed to climb in the gym until I took the class so I grabbed a couple of storage bins and whittled through some more stuff finding even more that I could get rid of. The trailer is completely empty, now. I gave what remaining tools I don't think I'll need to the local ReStore here in Anchorage and everything else went to Goodwill.
April 4, 2017, Anchorage, Alaska
The stealth camper which is what I've been calling my rig hasn't sold, yet, and I've dropped the price a couple times. I priced all my tools and other stuff so low that it was a steal for anyone looking for such an item that they couldn't refuse, but I'm trying to be more realistic with the trailer and get a fair price which means it's going to take longer than 24hrs to sell. It's my ticket to freedom. I'm going to take some better pictures and post them this week. I think it'll sell once spring fever hits Alaska, but winter is still hanging on. We got hit with a bunch more snow last week, but at least the temperatures are climbing and the freezing cold seems to be on it's way out. The flip side to warmer weather is that the roads are getting muddier which is making it a challenge to keep the trailer nice and clean. I've been trying to park it in high profile spots during the day with a "for sale" sign on it near camping stores, recreational parks and other places that people who would like it frequent. At night, I find a low profile spot to park then I'll scoop up a few buckets of snow, melt it on the gas stove and wash the trailer and the truck before going to bed. I've gotten more than a few double-takes especially on the weekends when people walking home from having a few beers pass by and I'm out there at midnight with a mop and bucket washing my rig. Have I lost my mind? Nope, just finding a way were there is no way.
Picked up some work building a tiny house for my new friend. She hosts a lot of couchsurfers and AirB&B-ers in her 4 bedroom home, but has a workshop in her back yard built by the previous owner that she'd like me to convert into a cozy living space something I have a lot of experience at. I was reluctant to take on any big projects, but I had to start bringing in some money. The walls were starting to close in which can feel pretty intense for someone who lives so far outside the box with no one to talk to on a regular basis. I thought about going and getting a regular job which, for me, is actually the easy way out, but I told myself that I'm not going to work for anyone else until the book is done otherwise it will never get done. I've been trying to do both for years and it just won't happen unless I make the book my priority. This has made it incredibly hard on my survival, but I'm close. Though I'm still teetering on a razor's edge daily, my truck is on it's last leg and the mornings are still unbearable, I know it's only circumstantial. The glimpses of relief and euphoria that I occasionally get are becoming more frequent as if to tell me that I'm on the right track. If I can feel this good when things are so hard and taxing, it's indicative that I've somehow broken through old thought patterns and perspectives into a very different reality. Imagine how great it will be when I can sit down somewhere and let out a sigh of relief for longer than a few minutes. Whether it's in a tent hidden in the wilderness, on a farm co-operative somewhere in the lower 48 or in some tropical 3rd world country, if I get out this situation I'm going to find a place where the clock of the system and survival is not ticking so loud and fast and that's where I'll organize all my writing and the lessons I've learned into something I can offer other people. Hopefully when that's done, I'll have the closure I need on this long journey to go get a job on a farm, find me a cute farm girl and settle down.
April 8, 2017, Anchorage, Alaska
Man, this is so hard. It's not easy waiting for things to happen that are beyond my control when it feels like my survival is weighing in the balance. Even just typing those words, I immediately started listing in my head more things that I could do to produce the desired outcome which is to sell my gosh darn trailer... and then most likely sell my truck and get the heck out of this type of lifestyle, but really there's nothing I can do except wait and try to keep busy with other productive things. Well, I guess I could quit, but that's not an option. I am so tired of this though. I'm sitting here writing in the dark on some city side-street and, at least, writing is good, but there's so many hours and days in between these entries that go by alone and unaccounted for. I'm so tired of having no place to go and no one to be with. I volunteered at the homeless shelter, again, last night which I was happy to do and on a side not it had the added perk of granting me permission to be somewhere for an extended period of time. You don't get much sleep volunteering because we all take shifts staying up all night making sure everyone is taken care of and that things are safe and quiet, but at least I was off the road for the night. Little would anyone know how much I know about what homeless people's lives are like. Yes, I'm a white boy from suburbia and thank God for that because the life that I've lived since leaving that nest may have destroyed me if I hadn't received such a stable upbringing. It still came very close more than once regardless of where and how I grew up. This world will eat anyone up if you let it, but like I have always felt I'm very lucky for getting to grow up in such a stable environment. My parents taught me manners and respect and maybe it's made me a little old fashioned in some ways, but obviously having everything I need regarding safety and security is not all I needed on the inside and the result was that I left that world and dove head first into a world of the unknown. It has beaten me down more than once, but I'm still here and, now, I'm just dust in the wind blowing aimlessly through this unknown world. Every morning I wake up someplace different and every night I have to find another place to park. I have no momentum, no clear direction, no guarantee and no safety net. Things could go south at any minute and there'd be nothing that I could do about it. I've never spent much time in Vegas, but I was thinking about it the other day and in a way it's like I have all my money, every last cent, on the table and everyone in the room is telling me to take it off and cut my losses and I'm still letting it ride even if it leaves me with nothing. That's what the last few weeks have been like whether anyone else in the world knows it or not. I sound like such a whiny little wimp, but I'm not going to get into the nature of our culture and the composition of our society that is partly the reason as to why I must do this, right now. I will get into that a lot more in the book.
There's a lot things this world doesn't know about which are a lot more important and a lot more beautiful than some random guy typing on his laptop in the middle of the night. When I first accepted that sleeping in one's truck was ok it was because I'd heard stories of actors and rock stars crashing in their vehicles while trying to make it in show business and I'm not going to lie as a young actor, director and aspiring song-writer fresh out of college who'd left the world of athletics to follow his creative side I wanted to make it, too, but when I was presented with big opportunities to get my foot in the door to that world I passed. Something didn't feel right. For me, those opportunities were lined with compromise and felt ego-driven which was not what was driving me. My ego is just a tool no different than my hands or my feet. It is amazingly useful, but it's awareness is limited. I was listening to something more intangible, something that would connect me to the limitless. The source of any feeling does not reside in my head. It comes from somewhere else beyond my thoughts. It's what connects me to things greater and more beautiful than myself. This is a far better reason to accept what I need to do or how I need to live in order to stay connected to it. I've been saying for years that a person can use a hammer to build a house, but they can't use it to build a hammer meaning our minds created the world that we live in, but it has been built directly on top of the natural world which made us. Therefore many of the answers that I was looking for would be found outside the human-made world and, for me, this included happiness because happiness is a feeling not a thought. I was reminded of this when I saw a cool movie recently, Arrival, about a species of life landing on our planet in the attempts to communicate with us. There was a powerful line in the film about what approach to take when trying to find a common ground between two groups who do not share the same language. The line paraphrased Maslow's Law, or the law of the instrument, which makes the point that "it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail." If we're living in a world created by our minds full of endless thought manifested by technology like phones and computers isn't it going to make us more like computers and less like living, breathing and feeling creatures?
April 27, 2017, Anchorage, Alaska
I was half asleep nodding off to a movie I'd rented from redbox when I was woken up by the sound of someone messing with the driver's side door of my suburban. Before my eyes were completely open, I quickly reached for the handle of the back seat door just behind it, but it was locked when I tried to push it open. I never used to lock my doors because I always had a 90lb Lab/rot mix riding shotgun. In fact, I rarely ever took the keys out of the ignition, but since my buddy's been gone I've had to change my habits. The guy trying to get into my truck heard me and quickly jumped into the truck that was pulled up alongside mine and by the time I had unlocked the door and jumped out, they had sped off leaving me standing in the middle of the road in my socks. I got there license plate number as I stood there enraged. I'm surprised my door didn't fly off the hinges I kicked it open so hard. I couldn't hop in my truck and chase them with a 20'cargo trailer attached to it and after I gave it a moment's thought I couldn't call the police either. What was I going to tell them that I was sleeping in my truck and someone tried to steal it? I had already called them four times after my trailer had been stolen a month ago regarding to any progress finding the guys and they still hadn't called me back. The kicker was in the process of dealing with that ordeal I had discovered that when I re-registered my truck and trailer last May before making the journey to Alaska apparently the DMV didn't apply it to the entire year. When I paid everything I assumed I'd be good til the following May. Nope. Before handing my registration to the police to prove ownership of my trailer when I was picking it up at the yard, I noticed that my registration had expired in August. I have no idea why they only registered me for a couple months, but I didn't have time to figure that out at that moment and instead grabbed my title out of a folder that I happen to have handy because I was selling the trailer and handed that to the officer. Suddenly, being the victim of a crime had revealed that I was driving around illegally and didn't even know it.
When I contacted the DMV back in Maine to resolve the registration issue, I found out because it had been more than six months I couldn't use their online system so they told me that I needed to go to one of their local branches and do it in person. I explained that I was out of state and they said that I could have someone else do it for me so I called a buddy back in Maine who agreed to do it for me, but first I had to mail him all the paperwork. Needless to say though the wheels were in motion, at that moment, I was still technically driving illegally and it wasn't worth the risk of calling the police, not that it would have done any good. The truck the losers were driving was actually the same as mine. When it was all happening, it almost seemed like the guy had some sort of key that he was trying to open my door with. It was weird. If I gave the police a description of the vehicle, it'd be just as likely that they'd pull me over as the thieves. I got the truck's license plate so, for now, I'll be keeping my eye out for them.
Enough was enough, things are getting ridiculous. It's time to make some changes. I don't like having brush-ins with low-lifes and in the last couple months I've had more than I've had in the last 20yrs. I don't like this. Luck only lasts so long. It's just a matter of time before something happens that will make a whole mess of a vulnerable situation. I contacted the woman I was building the tiny house for and told her that I wouldn't be around for a couple days beginning next week. I'm making selling the trailer my no.1 priority and I'm going to sell it the way I normally sell things. It's taking too long the other way.
May 4, 2017, Anchorage, Alaska
Dropped the price of the trailer. Got an email that same day from a young guy who wanted it, we talked on the phone, he had his buddy come by and check it out (because he was in Hawaii at the moment), his buddy went to the bank and got the cash, we met up the next day and I dropped off the trailer in the guy's driveway. Done deal. He got an awesome deal actually, but that's how I normally roll. It feels good to know this when selling something. They're both in the airforce and seem pretty cool. I got to know his friend a little better who I met in person. He's a para-rescue jumper which I thought was super cool and he thought how I've traveled and lived was super cool so we're going to keep in touch when we all get back in town. I've got my cousin's wedding in Boston next month that I need to buy a plane ticket for. I'll miss my little mobile home sweet home, but it feels very liberating to not have to haul it around anymore not to mention the funds it puts in my pocket to take the pressure off survival. I haven't been paying myself anything to build the tiny house I'm working on. With the budget she has, I've been trying to give her a sweet deal, too, and if there was any money left over maybe then I could make a little on the job. I make an awful business person and I'm proud of this. I'd rather be a giver than a taker. There's plenty more to catch up on, but I'm going to have to carry it until the dusts settles a little more. Regardless, my load is a lot lighter at the moment.
May 14, 2017, Anchorage, Alaska
I've learned so much in the last year and something has definitely changed internally. It's like some sort of phenomenon has occurred inside me and unexplainable joy keeps spilling out. It's not just joy, actually. It's all emotions, but joy seems to be the most consistent and enjoyable one -no punn intended. I cry at the drop of a hat, too, but not in a bad way. I've gone through enough really hard times to know that when you're doing really poorly tears don't come. It's a numb empty feeling that accompanies the worst of times. The tears I experience, now, spontaneously roll down my face when I see something sweet, sad or even corny. It doesn't effect how I feel overall. It just passes through me. I wouldn't say it's a problem. It feels completely natural. I remember when I was a kid and my emotions often got the best of me how my father made me feel ashamed of this. It wasn't that I was weak or wimpy. I was actually quite an animal when I was little, a tiny force to be reckoned with, but I was, also, very passionate. I learned to curb this quickly as I grew up. Now, I'm enjoying reconnecting with that part of myself accompanied by the wisdom life experiences have brought. No one's around to see it anyways. I think it's all a side-affect of something bigger. When we're little, we're totally uninhibited. As children we are more alive and connected to pure existence than probably any other time in our lives except for possibly death. At thatge, I didn't have a clue as to how the world worked, but I was too eager to experience it all to care about what anyone else thought. Combine this with everything I've been through and learned as a man and maybe I've tapped into the best of both worlds.
So, now what? Not a heck of a lot has changed on the outside except for the fact that I'm completely free, again, which is nothing to take for granted. I've definitely earned it. I'm a little scared about heading back east because I love my family and friends so much that I might be tempted to try to stay in the area to see them more, but I can't base a decision like that on the biological chemistry we share. They don't really know me and I don't fit into any of their lives too well. Maybe this is a bullshit reason. None of it is a problem that couldn't be easily improved if other components were in place like a job and a place to live. Maybe I'm just scared of going broke trying to live in a manner that costs more than I could make working on a farm. I'm so tired of being broke. I'm not, right now, and I don't want to squander this by trying to live unrealistically. The simplest lesson I've learned clearer than I could ever see or benefit from before is that I need to be around people more. I need to spend time and share my life with people everyday or, at least, have the option to. I've been white-knuckling it for far too long. Maybe it was the only way for me to learn other things, but a lot of it didn't need to happen. Sometimes life doesn't fit into a nice tidy little box with a bow on it. All I want, now, is to organize everything I've learned into something digestible for others to learn from so no one has to go through what I've been through if they don't want to.
So "now what?" means that I need to get myself into a situation where I have a simple modest existence allowing me the time I need to finish my book, but without relying on my learned ability to take a beating day after day holding on by a thread alone somewhere in the world. In one sense, it's the same old battle that I've always been fighting, that many people fight, so what am I going to do differently this time? I'm not sure, but this is how a person doesn't give up. Each time we try to accomplish the same thing one more time we can try it a little differently each time. Yes, this is very similar to the definition of insanity trying to do the same thing over and over expecting a different result, but it's, also, the definition of perseverance.
June 25, 2017, Dedham, Massachusetts
Into the fold.
If you've read anything I've ever written, it is an overstatement to state that the crux of many of my challenges has been loneliness. It took me a long time to realize that a major reason for this was the direct result of adopting habits as a child from the only role models I had available to me which did not reflect my personality nor my needs. I am a very social person, but I grew up in a very anti-social environment which caused problems for me and, I can only assume, for some of my immediate family because we were so different. This took many years for me to finally realize, but thank God I did. Realizing it was the first long overdue step. The next was, is, changing the behavior that trapped me all these years. It's been quite a culture shock traveling from Alaska to Boston. I loved it there and was sad to leave. I still miss it, but I was extremely isolated. Now, I am experiencing almost the exact opposite lifestyle, urban and very social. Since I arrived, the primary reason was to attend my cousin's wedding, I have been surrounded by family and reconnecting with friends. I've been back for almost three weeks and still have many more people to see.
Before moving forward, I should recap seeing as time was such a huge factor during the last month: Left Fairbanks and the unfortunate situation at the sled dog company (cried saying "good-bye" to the dogs), survived the winter, gradually sold all my tools, truck, trailer and belongings while remodeling an empty work shed into a tiny house for a friend/customer while, also, dodging the surprising criminal element in Anchorage, got everything done (meaning got as much done as was humanly possible with the resources and time that I had), flew back to Boston with a nice all day layover in LA to see my two best friends who live there, surprised one of my cousins for his birthday with the help of his fiance and two of my other cousins, attended and helped prepare for my other cousin's wedding which was like a fairy-tale set in rural New Hampshire yet balanced with every modern amenity one could want, saw my father and took him out to lunch, tied up a few loose ends that downsizing my life into four boxes required. Now, I sit here typing at the kitchen table of my uncle's house on the street my mother grew up on where much of my family still lives. He, my aunt and one of my cousins went to a cookout and I decided to stay "home" and get a few final things done before heading back out into the world with more clarity and promise than I may have ever had. They don't know I'll be leaving soon, but I will handle it much better than I ever have. It hasn't been easy getting here, but nothing worthwhile is.
June 27, 2017, South Boston, Massachusetts
Wow, what a day. Nothing super special happened, but I felt so good for pretty much the whole day...even when I made it all the way across the city to a fancy camping store and they didn't have the backpack that I wanted, after going to a different one which was temporarily closed yet they decided not to mention this on their website. In fact, they didn't carry it in any of their stores in New England or anywhere else on the east coast and when one of the sales people helped me look online the only store that did carry such a bada** pack was the one in Anchorage, I just laughed. I actually looked at their packs before I left Alaska, but I had so much going on at the time that I wasn't sure making an expensive purchase at that moment was the best decision. I didn't know what my priorities where going to be until I had landed and many other things were taken care of first which, now, have been. It actually worked out pretty good this way because, now, the pack is on sale and about $100 cheaper. It may not seem like that big of a deal to most people, but I sold pretty much everything I owned when I left Alaska and I've decided not to buy a new truck since arriving which may seem like an unwise decision so a good pack will be my only major possesion as crazy as this sounds...and the one I bought is pimpin'. I even ordered a portable solar panel that I can mount on it to charge my laptop, cell phone, etc. so I'll be pretty self-contained wherever I am.
I've tried for years to do two things at once, have a full-time job and work on a creative project on the side, and the creative project always suffered or never got done at all so if I'm going to take advantage of the little chunk of savings I have, right now, I need to make writing my book my priority and then find a part time job to take care of my minimal expenses. If I bought a new truck, I wouldn't be able to do this.
But, the day was so special because as I bopped around all day, aside from getting to spend more time with my cousins and their dog, I was looking forward to sitting down writing when I had the chance, and I was specifically eager to write to "her". It's been a long time coming and though I've written about a lot of different things over the last year and half on this page and for many more years on my previous blog, the one thing I've probably written the least about which I've thought the most about is love. I pretty much think about it 24/7. I've always dreamed of finding "the one", but I've never been in a long term relationship so there hasn't been much to write about, but this is not because I haven't wanted to be. I've probably wanted to find a wife and start a family more than most people, but, to me, it was never about what I wanted. It's always been about what is best. How could I share my life with someone or bring a life into this world unless I was as sure as I posibly could be that I was doing it for the right reasons? And, that reason, for me, was/is to make another person(s)'s life better and the world a better place. Making such major committments are not about what I want, but rather about what I can give. I know I have a lot to offer other people, but everything I have and everything I am should come from a place of giving not taking, i.e. wanting. I'm someone who is very thorough so when I need to be sure about something I won't be satisfied until I'm 100% sure especially about important things and these two things are the two most important things in the world to me. I wanted to be able to do them to the best of my ability not just for the sake of doing them.
I've heard people say that you can never be truly ready, but maybe that's why there are so many divorces and children without stable families. I wouldn't argue the fact that one can probably never be truly 100% ready, but that's no excuse for not trying to be so that's what I've done. More than any other, there's one reason why I've been able to live and navigate through this world the way I have for so long and that is because I'm single, have very few bills and always trust my heart. My heart has never been wrong and has always kept me safe. This world if you let it can crush a person's heart and spirit and I would never let this happen because I rely on it so much.
June 29, 2017, Halifax, Massachusetts
Hopped the subway out of the city then jumped on the commuter rail down to Halifax, a small rural suburb about 40 miles south. 40 miles in the Boston area takes you through many towns and shopping plazas and seems a lot further away than it does out west where often there's nothing between you and the next town, but rolling hills and coastline. As I walked around the surrounding area of the train station scoping out the woods for a possible place to camp, it occurred to me that I could be anywhere in the world rather than in the state I grew up in. I've traveled so much and hopped off more trains than I can count in someplace new where I've never been before that this wasn't hard to imagine. I'd never been to this train station. It didn't exist when I grew up around here and even if it did my town was a few towns away on the coast and I always had a car or truck so I never needed to use public transportation. I came down here to see an old friend who I haven't seen in close to 10 years. I can't even remember the last time we saw each other.
He grew up in England, but his family moved to the U.S. just after he graduated high school. Maybe it was the cultural difference or maybe it was just his outgoing personality, but he was one of my only friends who liked to dance as much as I did. Growing up a jock, dancing was something I never did or admitted I liked to do because no one I knew danced. This is pretty pathetic. It's so fun, but then having fun wasn't something my immediate family was great at either, unfortunately, but like many parts of me it wasn't something I was going to suppress any longer. He and I met through a mutual friend and the rest is history. We'd walk into a club, he'd take one end of the dance floor, I'd take the other and we would tear it up. Girls loved us because we never hit on them. Instead, they came to us because we didn't pay any attention to them. We were too busy being goof balls. No, neither of us are gay....not that there's anything wrong with that. It was actually a great way to meet girls because we had nothing to loose. We were already having a blast so the more the merrier. Every night, we'd walk out of whatever club we were at completely drenched with sweat often with a couple of phone numbers in our pockets if not with a couple of girls by our sides. No, we weren't players, either. We were just having fun.
Our lives have taken very different paths since then. Well, mine's pretty much different from everyone's, but it's tough to see him how he is, now. He still has the same spark in his eye that he's always had, but life's worn him down some. He's a single dad who's been raising his daughter by himself for the majority of the last 16 years. He sleeps on the couch of a run down basement apartment so she can have her own room. She's a good girl, gets good grades and helps out the people he rents from who live upstairs. They're like her adopted grandparents. His parents, her real grandparents, aren't in either of their lives and being from another country he's been on his own a long time. You don't need to be from a different country to feel alone in this world. That's for sure. Many people are everywhere and it's not right, but it can definitely be a contributing factor when you are.
Walking out of Southie with a 60 pound pack on my back was a little bit of a transition. It's been a while since I've lived out of backpack. A familiar anxiousness arose which I had to acclimate to. There's a natural tendency when a person picks up something heavy to want to know where and when they're going to be able to put it down couple this feeling with the busyness and indifference of a big city and there's no wonder one might get a little anxious. I worked through it quickly reminding myself that, at least, I was getting a work out something I've been very hungry for the last couple months while doing so much carpentry work which is more mental than physical to me.
I left my counsins' world. They are the one's who just got married. They are not cousins. He's mine and she's so awesome and we get along so good that we call each other cousins, too. They're young executives crushing it in their respective fields in Boston with a super nice apartment, shiny new cars and a super cool dog who has his own dog walker while they're at work. I love my extended family very much and I'm very lucky to be able strengthen my relationship with them since my mother has passed away (their sister/aunt) because my father gave up on a lot of things a long time, ago. Seeing him on Father's Day wasn't easy.
I sent him a card the week before to let him know that I was back in Boston for the wedding which he knew nothing about, and to see if he'd like to get together, but I hadn't heard back from him even on my birthday which was the same week so I drove down to his house in Marshfield to make sure he was ok. Though I was prepared to rent a car, my family has insisted on letting me use one of their vehicles when I've needed one. I passed him on the street as I was turning into our road, but he doesn't use a cell phone so I couldn't call him. I pulled over to whip around to try to catch up to him, but then I stopped and thought for a second. I drove down there to see if he was ok which he was if he's driving around, but I didn't want to make him uncomfortable or invade his privacy. It feels weird saying this about my father and the house I grew up in, but since my mother passed away, 12 years ago, he doesn't like me popping in without calling first and I've gradually realized how different he and I are. I decided to not to chase him, but instead drove by the house and turned around in the culdesac at the end of the road which was never there. It was a dirt road when I was a kid that just dead ended into the woods. My mother would be appalled if she were alive, now. The house looks like no one lives in it. The little fence out front is falling down, the trees are draping over the yard to the point that they might fall over, grass is growing tall through the cracks in the driveway and the trim is in desperate need of paint. A lot of the houses in the neighborhood, now, which is on a scenic river are trophy houses built after I grew up and they must be horrified by the state of his yard. I am, too, not for the same reasons, but it still breaks my heart.
I didn't make contact and waited until Father's Day which is when he called to thank me for the card so we made plans to have lunch together. I could tell he didn't want me driving down to Marshfield so we met closer to where my uncle lives. I'm sure it's hard for a lot of people to see families drift apart and not know where they belong in it all, but I'm done getting frustrated and angry about it like I used to when I was younger. It only brought me down while those who wouldn't, or didn't know how, to improve things did nothing. Lunch was nice, sad and uneventful. I felt like I was making him nervous by making him stay any longer than it took to eat our meals which was apparent as he quickly climbed out of the truck as I was still talking when we pulled up to his car in a nearby parking lot. We were both pleasant to each other and I tried to keep the conversation light. True communication is a journey into the unknown and this is a very scary thing for many people so if we don't teach ourselves how to face our fears and learn to communicate relationships will always fall by the wayside eventually. I haven't decided what I'm going to do about my father's situation, but where there's a will there's a way. I just need to make it a gentle way.
Yesterday evening as I headed out of the train station to get some food at a big grocery store a few miles down the road, my friend called me and offered to come pick me up when he found out that I was nearby. I crashed on the other couch in his small living room, but was eager to get out of there this morning when he left early for work (I'm at the town library at the moment). He drives a big utility truck for the roofing company he works for so he told me to use his personal truck if I wanted to go anywhere. I grabbed breakfast at the grocery store, went by a car wash and vacuumed out the truck and washed it. It wasn't super dirty or anything, but I just wanted to do something for him. I texted him when I was done and offered to take his daughter anywhere she might want to go seeing as summer vacation just started for her, but she couldn't think of anywhere so I just took her with me to do some errands and she ended up getting a couple things done, too. Roofers work when it's dry and have the day off when it's rainy for the most part so it's tough making plans with him this time of year, but we'd been playing phone tag since I got back east so I just hopped on the train prepared to camp and hang out until he had some time just to make sure we saw each other. It's been good to reconnect and I can tell he was psyched, but I know he's not thrilled that he can't offer me more in the way of hospitality so I might take off and catch up with him in a few days when he knows he has more time. He and his daughter deserve better.
It's good that I'm getting in the habit of writing regularly, again, and this day to day play by play is productive, but it's time for me to focus on what might be of use to others.
*Girl with big smile at Andrew Square T station
July 1, 2017, Dedham, Massachusetts
I said that I was going to talk more about the things that I've rarely written about in the past like love, romantically speaking, but it's challenging to focus on things like this which feels good when people who I care about are not doing well or there are issues in the world that need to be addressed, yet aren't. The crucial difference between, now, and the rest of my life is that I finally feel like I have an endless supply of one thing, love. The funny thing is I've always had an endless supply of energy which can be extremely useful under the right circumstances, but if it isn't put to good use it can be hard to manage, even painful or destructive. A hydro plant generates enough electricity to power entire cities with the force created by the thousands of gallons of water flowing through it every second. That same force can destroy a city if the damn holding it back develops the tiniest crack. Because I had so much energy, I tried to create uses for it. How many people do you know walk 30 miles a day then got up the next day and do it, again and again for months at a time completely alone with the only their thoughts to keep them company, or their writing and maybe a dog (when I had one)? The first year I did this I, also, made a documentary about it while I was walking and all the other times I raised money for different charities. I used to think that I had to earn love by trying to please the internal drill sergeant in my mind instilled by growing up in a judgmental environment and culture. Too many of us are alone with our thoughts and thus at the mercy of them, but what I was, also, doing in addition to carrying, or pulling, a heavy pack was carrying the unhappiness of so many people close to me. Their unhappiness was the judge that I could never please because it wasn't my burden to bear so as soon as I finally put it down a different version of energy began to flow through me, joy. Because I was so stubborn, it took me a long time, and many miles, to get to this point, but, now, I have and by some freak of nature nothing else about me has changed.
My new backpack arrived, today. Woohoo! I can't believe how comfortable it is. I've never really used a traditional pack. I don't even own a tent. I've preferred ruck sacks because they are simpler (and often waterproof) so you can unzip them from the side rather than loading everything from the top burying your things as you fill your pack. The only problem was that ruck sacks don't come with hip-belts, an important feature when carrying heavy loads because it distributes part the weight to your hips, so I was always carrying my loads with only my shoulders. The shoulder straps on these simpler bags are not designed to support 50-70lbs which is what I usually carry. It wasn't until I made it to the Appalachian Mountains on my first walk with a 65lb pack that a guy at a camping store told me that I was crazy for not having a hip-belt. I hadn't really noticed, but since then I've modified my ruck sacks by taking a belt off an older backpack and attaching it with a couple of straps. It helped, but, now, 20yrs later, I realize how much better it feels to have a pack with a belt and shoulder straps designed for the demands of a heavy load and the newer packs, now, have zippers on the side and bottom, too. Did I mention I was stubborn? I prefer to think of it as thorough training.
I was in big department store the other day doing errands when my heart almost stopped. She was wearing faded jeans, cowgirl boots, a tank-top and a long-sleeve flannel shirt. Her hair was long and tossed over itself in a "I don't give a sh*t" manner, but there was still a peacefulness in her eyes when they met mine as we, both, froze for a moment. There's only a split second shared when eyes meet in public, but a lot of information is exchanged. It's all extremely subtle, but so much can be said... or not said. I suppose it depends on the people doing the perceiving. If you stare too long, a pleasant moment can turn into an intrusive gawk. It all comes down to energy, yours and the other person's. Usually these minuscule moments in our lives shared with perfect strangers are uneventful and pass like the second hand of a clock, but on the rare occasion that this common occurrence is broken by something different a split second seems like a lot longer. In this case, it did for me and maybe for her, too. I wouldn't call it a double-take because once our eyes locked they didn't unlock. It went from a normal everyday glance to "wait, what is happening, who is this person?" I think I looked away first which seemed like the polite thing to do as I smiled a little bit. She was with a much older woman possible her mother and I was with my buddy's teen-age daughter so there was really nothing more I could do, but smile and continue on my way. I saw her, again, at the check out line, but trying to recreate the moment felt contrived. Maybe it was nothing. Maybe I was just projecting because I feel like I've arrived at a point in my life that I've never been before. My plan long ago was that I'd never get married and start a family until I had, at least, a million dollars in the bank as ridiculous as that sounds so, ya, that never happened so I was never really available to women when I've met them in the past. The fact that I thought about her all day and I'm, now, still writing about her speaks more to how pathetic I am than anything else, but it was still a nice moment maybe because where there used to be a wall there's nothing so the feeling was able to go right through me.
July 7, 2017, Dedham, Massachusetts
The wave of being close to home and doing so much socializing is finally subsiding. I hadn't made any plans for the 4th of July. Holidays and birthdays usually pass like any other day when I'm living on the road, but this isn't because I'm anti-social. It's always simply been a matter of not having anyone to socialize with, but reconnecting with family and friends after all these years motivated me to do something this year. I spent the weekend with my buddy from England and we had a lot of laughs along with some good long talks about his situation. It was short notice so I came up with something simple and bought a bunch of inner tubes, filled a cooler full of snacks and beers, picked him up in my uncle's truck, drove over to the river where I grew up to go for a float and maybe jump off a popular bridge. The small boat ramp where people park was packed with cars and trucks and the bridge was wall to wall bikins and board shorts. I plugged in the small portable air-compressor that I bought into the truck cigarette lighter and pumped up the inner tubes. It would've taken forever to blow them up by hand. I got three and they were pretty big, one for each of us and one for the cooler. We didn't even end up using them, the parking lot was like a tailgate party so we just hung out there, jumped off the bridge, swam, had a couple beers, and listen to music.
When it got dark and the mosquitoes started coming out, I drove us over to the closest harbor in Scituate (I had switched to drinking water because I new that I'd be driving later) to walk along the waterfront and stop in at a couple of crowded bars and restaurants where I used to hang out in the summer when I was in my twenties. It was fun to visit those places and laugh at how clueless I was back then. It was pretty late when I dropped my buddy off, but he was very appreciative of a much needed break from his day to day reality. He offered to let me crash at his place, but I passed. I didn't have the heart to tell him that there was no way I was going to stay there, again. I almost left to camp in the woods when I took the train down to visit him for the first time last week, but I didn't want to make him feel bad. It wasn't just the conditions he's living in, but the vibe there isn't good either. The relationship with the people he rents from which happens to be same people he works for is not a good, but he feels his hands are tied. It's tough to make risky life changes when he's on his own taking care of his daughter so he's trying to tough it out for a few more years. During our talks I discovered that he's made a few bad choices outside of being a very good father that have definitely made his life harder.
I drove back to my aunt and uncle's who were away for the holiday visiting their daughter, my cousin, who lives in Connecticut with her husband and their new baby, so I had the house to myself. I mowed the lawn in the morning then my other cousin, their youngest son, who's 24, talked me into heading to NH with him to Lake Winnipesaukee and the house that my cousin, his older brother, and new bride rented with their close friends who I've, also, gotten to know over the years during my visits home. We filled the cooler, again, bought a couple of big American flags, attached one to the back of the jeep and headed north flag blowing in the wind and the radio cranked. The other even bigger flag was destined for the flag pole on the beach out front of the lake house, but when we got there we discovered that the halyard was stuck at the top of the pole so naturally I climbed up and unjammed it, but not until after I had the approval of my cousin and a few of his friends before making the ascent. I had no desire to be the next ding-dong to appear on America's Funniest Videos when the flag pole snapped in half and I ended up in the lake so I made sure to climb very slow and steady as I reached the top where the pole is thinnest. I wasn't trying to show off, just tryin to get'r done.
With three ski boats tied up out front, shiny new cars and trucks parked in the driveway and along the road, a big crowd of friends, plenty of food, beverages and music it felt like being in a two day long country music video, or a Yeti commercial, culminating with a scene in a popular cove across the lake that we joined filled with hundreds of boats all tied together under the bright Fourth of July sun as tan bodies floated, swam and dove in the water as far as the eye could see.
After a trip the store on the second morning to buy a hundred dollars more of beer, wine and ice (none of which I drank) which was the same amount I paid for the inner tubes and a pump, it wasn't hard to compare the stark difference between the time I spent with my buddy who I haven't seen in years and the top notch work hard play hard crew of friends I was surrounded by, now. I've navigated through many worlds over the years partly due to a desire to relate to other people from all walks of life and partly due to the fact that I know what its like to feel alone so, now, as the dust settles and I've taken a moment to acclimate, it's time to develop a plan for myself.
Even though I tied up all my loose ends in Alaska before I left so that I wouldn't have to return, I still miss it and left the option of going back open. I even submitted a resume for a job up there before I left just in case and they called a couple times eager for me to come in for an interview, but I told them that I had to take care of some family matters here and I didn't know when I'd be returning apologizing for any inconvenience. My father is definitely a factor. He actually admitted to my surprise at lunch that he was lonely which completely contradicts his anxiousness to get out of the truck as quickly as possible before we could even have a real conversation the other day. Standing in the outfield yesterday evening during a company softball game that my younger cousin recruited me for, I could feel the energy of the situation. It wasn't fun which was surprising because I love playing all sports. Both teams actually wanted to win. I didn't know anyone there except for my cousin and even though this is Boston and we're tough nuts to crack, we should still be having more fun than we were. I was even a little nervous at bat and I don't get nervous especially doing anything athletic, but none of the guys and girls on either team were joking around and I had to force the few introductions I managed to get from some of the members on my team. Who gives a flying f which teams wins. This is summer company softball for cripes sake, but it hit me. The result, in this case, was that winning is more important to people than it should be when we're not connected and feeling part of something greater than ourselves. I haven't swung a bat in years and relied solely on natural ability and did well, but I regret to admit that I was looking forward to it being over which is probably the first time in my life that I've said that about playing anything. It wasn't that it couldn't be fun and all it would take is for me to take a practice at-bats to get back in the swing of it -no pun intended, but why should I need to? I don't have anything to prove. Not to sound conceited, but I know that I'm good which makes having fun way more important than winning, but what about the other 25 people I was there with?
I sometimes forget that all the work I've done to face my fears, deal with insecurities and learn how to communicate which began when I first embarked on this path are things that a lot of people, maybe even most people, haven't done so more often then not they're not going to see every new person they meet as a huge opportunity to learn, grow and appreciate life and they might even see someone new as a threat rather than a resource. Even if I only review the past year and my time on the docks, at the sled dog company and building the tiny house in Anchorage the unfortunate theme that is consistent throughout all these experiences is how ill-equipped we are as a society to deal with anything deeper than small talk. People do not know how to communicate because they were never taught and it's getting worse not better with all the advances in communication, ironically. This has always been apparent to me, but it's much easier to take a less judgmental view of these interactions when I can see how scared people actually are, not of me or the situation, but of their own minds.
July 11, 2017, Westwood, Massachusetts
I found a soft patch of moss near a clearing in the woods to toss off my pack and lie down. It was only a 2.5 mile hike out of town, but I was sweating buckets by the time I got here partly due to the fact that it's so humid in New England during the summer and partly due to the fact that it's been months since I did any form of real labor. The little spare tire that has formed around my waste can testify to this. It cracks me up actually. I've never had one before. It's not really a belly by normal standards, but it's the closest I've ever had so I'm having fun with it. Since leaving the kennel in Fairbanks this February I just haven't gotten a regular work out, but that's not going to last much longer, now, that the semblance of a routine is beginning to form in my life, one that includes me getting regular exercise. It's just something that I need for my mental and physical health.
I couldn't wait to leave my uncle's this afternoon, not for any bad reason. I've been very lucky to have such a welcoming and nice place to land since arriving back east, first with the newlyweds in South Boston then with my aunt and uncle in Dedham where my mother grew up, and I'll visit them all regularly, but like any adult I simply need my own space. Right now, that space is the forest and it might be for a few months. I can't really imagine a better place to write. I've got my portable solar panel so I can plug in my laptop whenever I need to. I had to a make a minor repair to my custom tent which I've been using for the past 10years after letting a few intoxicated buddies try it out on the 4th of July, but I borrowed my aunt's sewing machine to fix it and, now, it's as good as new. I didn't feel right staying at my uncle's any longer for free. The nature of this game we're all in is that you have to pay to play, but the path I've chosen lies outside this paradigm so I don't expect most people to understand or agree with this. This is why it's best that I continue to live on the outskirts of society until I have a new type of "work ethic" to present to people.
July 12, 2017, Westwood, Massachusetts
Woke up feeling good for a change. Thank you Mother Nature. I set up a rain cover last night before hitting the hay which made it a little warm in bed, but I left one end open to let some cool evening air in. It didn't rain, but the forecast said that it might so better safe than sorry rather dealing with it in the middle of the night in the dark. I still have half of a large pizza left from dinner. There aren't any stores in the area and I wanted to save my fruit for breakfast so I called in a pizza and had it delivered to a nearby construction site that I had walked past earlier in the evening. I threw on my steel-toe work boots and flannel work shirt and jogged over to the gate that was, now, locked to meet the delivery guy. I got a couple bottles of lemonade, too. I knew all the salt from the pizza was going to make me thirsty in the middle of the night. I need to pick up a bigger bottle of spring water when I walk through the next town. I went through the lemonade and most of my water last night so I really have to ration that small amount I have left. There's a grocery store about 3 miles from here. I got invited to a pick-up soccer game organized by a group of young farmers that live in the area at 6 this evening which is about 7 miles in the same direction so I should be able to make it there in time. It's noon, now. It's been raining a little off and on this morning, but I'm still going to hang my solar panel off my pack and top off this laptop as I walk. The panel did a good job of charging my phone this morning even in the partly cloudy sunlight.
July 13, 2017, Dedham, Massachusetts
Sweated buckets, again, yesterday, but one highlight was crossing over the Charles River not before dunking my head in a few times to cool off. I would have preferred to jump in, but I didn't know how clean or deep the river was. The 1/2 gallon of organic ice tea I drank at the grocery store never tasted so good. I had long run out of my food and water by the time I'd reached it. Made it to the soccer field early so I walked around the Natick Organic Community Farm which was across the road. I'd never been there. I'm not very familiar with this part of Mass, but a friend of mine used to work there for many years so I'd heard a lot about it. It was pretty quiet seeing as it was evening time, but had a nice vibe and a young woman who worked there introduced herself when I mentioned I was just killing time before playing soccer in the field across the road which she was planning on, too. One of my cousin's best friends had put me in touch with his brother-in-law, who organized the game, so I met him for the first time at the field when I walked back over.
Talk about night and day compared to the softball game I played last week, no offense to them, but I had such a blast with the farmers. We all got drenched, but laughed and joked the whole time as we ran our butts off in the rain for a couple of hours. Then we sat in the wet grass and talked for another hour. A few people brought stuff, too, pizza, beer, ice cream... and fresh corn! It was so sweet. The ice cream wasn't bad either.
I'm liking the simple life of not having a vehicle. My pack is fairly heavy, around 55lbs, but I still can't believe how comfortable it is compared to my old one. It was a good "dry" run and I'm back in Dedham to do some stonework on my uncle's driveway tomorrow before hitting the road, again, to the south shore, the neck of the woods where I grew up.
July 14, 2017, Dedham, Massachusetts
Walking is so good for me in many ways. It forces my brain to slow down in a time when the pace of our lives and thoughts as a culture seem out of control. Obviously, it's, also, a great work-out, but another benefit is because it's such a simple existence it really allows me to observe the differences in every situation I find myself in. Every town I walk through has a different feel, example: Natick, where I played soccer, friendly, nice, but not snobby, Needham, where I stopped and got something to drink, well...not so much. Every home I'm in has a different vibe and most importantly every person I talk to makes their own unique impression. I walked passed a group of men on Wednesday at a golf course and polo club. They were teeing off on a hole that ran along the suburban road I was walking on. With only a few yards between us I could feel their energy change as they noticed me, but never really acknowledged me. I'm sort of hard to miss with my big pack, but none of them made eye contact. It was no big deal to me. I'm just writing about it because it's just another normal everyday example of how ill-equipped we are at dealing with one another. The man whose turn it was sliced into the narrow row of trees on the right that divided the golf course from the road (he had his back to the road and never saw me -it wasn't my fault. I didn't distract him). I passed by them silently with a friendly smile, rounded the bend and actually made it to the halfway point of the green before they did in their golf carts, all dressed in tan khaki shorts and light blue polos. I couldn't help, but laugh at how silly they looked, but who knows. Maybe they were all dressed the same way for some sort of fund raiser or company event. The man who sliced gave up on looking for his ball and dropped a new one on the edge of the green even though I found the one he sliced on the other side of the road and tossed it back to them as I continued on my way, but of course they didn't acknowledge the gesture. Oh well. It was a very different exchange from a group of construction workers I walked passed on a similar hot sunny day in California a few yeara back. One of them asked "Where you headed?" and I said "Boston" and they all just laughed and cheered. The only thing separating any of us is our minds and the walls we build around them.
The book is going well. I have so much material written from all these years that it's more a task in organization than it is about writing new material. This blog as pedestrian as it may be, no pun intended, allows me to mentally keep tabs on myself as I navigate through the different worlds I share with people in day to day life reminding myself as to why I'm on this path to begin with.
July 16, 2017, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Caught the train out of Dedham Saturday evening. It was hard to leave. My uncle and cousin had just got home from work. My uncle does carpentry work on the side on the weekends and my cousin usually helps him. He couldn't last week so I went in his place. They brought lobsters home with them, but I couldn't stay. I had to be up at 3am and the next train wasn't until 11pm which would mean I'd get like 2 hours of sleep so I had to catch the 7pm train to South Station then the 8pm commuter rail down the southern coast to Scituate. A buddy I went to high school and played hockey with does charter fishing on the side and his deckhand couldn't make it so when he heard I was in town he asked me. I helped him last Sunday, too. It was a blast. I grew up lobstering off these very shores so it felt almost surreal to be back after all these years fishing in the same waters I did as a kid.
Scituate was the last stop on the line so I hopped off the train and stashed my pack in the bushes at the far end of the empty parking lot and walked to the local package store just over the tracks which I was happy to find was still there. I remembered as a boy it's where my dad would buy his beer. It was a convenient store, too, so I got a half gallon of milk, a banana, a couple granola bars and a couple of fig newtons for breakfast....and a fat brownie for a midnight stack. The auto parts store where I got my first job was just down the road and it had a big flat roof which would do just fine for getting a few hours of sleep so I walked back to the train station and grabbed my pack. Walked by the dentist office where I got my braces off and the doctor's office where I got all my check-ups. What a trip.
Opted against climbing up on the roof. It felt too much like trespassing even though I know the owner. There were plenty of spots along the river to camp not far from the road. My buddy just shook his head and said "You're an animal" when I told him where I slept as he was picking me up in his truck at 4am on the road that takes you to the harbor...or maybe he said "You're an idiot." I don't remember. It was early. I guess he just assumed that I stayed at my father's house, where I grew up in, which was just across the river. It doesn't feel like my house since mother passed away. He, also, assumed that I had a vehicle so he was a little surprised to get a text from me at 3:30 asking if he could pick me up on his way to the boat. I'm the same person I was growing up and we still get along awesome, but a lot has changed since high school so I don't expect people I knew then to fully digest how I live, now. They're all married, or divorced, with kids and some of their kids are in high school, now. Yikes. I've definitely taken the road less traveled and a big part of that was because I was such a late bloomer. If you saw group photos of me and my friends back then you would undoubtedly ask "Who brought their little brother to the party, the dance or the hockey game?" That was me. A boy among young men. It never phased me though and I still did everything my peers did. Well, almost everything. I did graduate high school a virgin. Now, I'm cashing in Mother Nature's lottery ticket with the foresight those extra years and this path have given me.
July 24, 2017, coastal Massachusetts
It's raining, today. I'm sitting on the train heading south out of Boston. I'm not sure where I'm headed exactly, but I have to get away for a day or so and get some writing done. I had gone back into the city to give my uncle a birthday card. My cousins and I are going to take him tuna fishing on my buddy's boat. Now, I'm headed down the coast to where I grew up, but with no actual destination.
Man, there's so much drama floating around in such a small town. I guess it doesn't matter where you go. There's drama everywhere if you're looking for it. I don't do drama, never have. It's bad energy and my energy is too important to me. Nonetheless, my buddy couldn't help, but fill me in on all the current craziness. He's not into it either, but he's lived in the area his whole life so it's hard not to hear about it. I just shook my head in disbelief at it all.
After we said good-bye to our fishing guests and washed the boat the other day, my buddy dropped me off at another close friend of ours house. Without much coaxing, he agreed to stay for a beer. We sat on the porch and joked around like we had many times when we were younger. Though it felt great to be in such a familiar place and see my old friends. It wasn't the same. The close friend who grew up there was gone. He passed away 12 years ago. It was his parents' house, the kind of place where we were all welcome growing up. Their door was never locked and there was always tasty left-overs in the fridge. We all raided it many times late night after a night of bar hopping. His mum was an amazing cook. They were a wealthy family with a large estate and my friend's parents asked me if I could do some work on the property offering to let me stay there with them and come and go as I pleased as long as I didn't mind staying in my friend's room on the third floor of their immaculately restored colonial home. I thanked them. It was all happening a little fast. Staying in my friend's room didn't feel right, but I didn't say anything. There was no way I was going to sleep in his bed, but he used to have a couch by one of the windows in his room that I had crashed on many times. That I think I could do. It felt a little funny the way my life of farming and running equipment was culminating by mowing grass on their antique tractor, but I enjoyed it. I was happy to help them. Losing their son was like losing a season and left a void in all of our lives. It sounds cliche, but he was one of those people that everyone loved and I mean everyone, the entire town. Handsome, soft-spoken, generous like nature itself. His wake and funeral was like that of a celebrity, the largest I've ever been to.
Later in the evening, I walked in the woods along the creek that bordered a secluded park that his family and friends created in his memory and talked to him like I always have all these years. I stayed the whole week and got his parents caught up on a bunch of project that needed down on their property, stuff my friend would have done for them. It was very noticeable how much more comfortable I am out in the country, even if it was mostly suburbs, now, compared to my uncle's place in the city.
July 28, 2017, Manomet, Massachusetts
Rain definitely makes camping out a lot less relaxing. I left the train station, stashed my pack, walked to the small general store around the corner, got some snacks (granola bars and fig newtons), a.k.a dinner, walked back to grab my pack and headed to the park along the river. It wasn't dark, yet, but I figured the rain would deter most people to be out walking on the trails at the driftway. I found a good camping spot way off the beaten path and curled up under the plastic painter's tarp I use for a rain cover. Not my proudest moment. It was bound to happen, or so I thought. The honeymoon of being "home" had finally ended.
It's been a little surreal bouncing from on life, one world, to the next of each of my family and friends to find myself, now, cold, wet and alone in the woods. I've made it an asset over the years as I've traveled all across the country knowing how to hide in the nooks and crannies of our society, but to find myself stuck in them is a different experience. I stayed the course, rallied, set up camp, got tucked into bed high above the forest floor amidst the canopy of the trees in my lightweight, compact, stealth camping shelter warm and dry and called it a night.
Luckily the rain let up the next morning and I happily packed up and headed down the road. I still had a lot of work waiting for me a town away. It was about a 7 mile walk to my friend's parents house. Last week when I was visiting them, I had, also, offered to help their neighbors, who I, also, know after finding out that the father of their family, a doctor, had a stroke and suddenly passed away this spring. They have a lot of work that needs to be done to their property. Both their homes are nestled far from the main road in a private sanctuary along the North River. It'll take me about a week to get the most pressing of their landscaping. It'd be a lot easier if I had all my tools, truck and trailer, but I'm benefiting too much mentally from selling it all in Alaska before flying back here to go out and replace it all now. At dinner the other night, a woman who was visiting asked me how I knew how to do all the work I was doing for them and their neighbors. It felt like an unusual question. I know how to do work because being able to do work is how one lives, but, like I said, there are many lives living in many different worlds out there each with their own set of values. There's only one value in the world I live in when I'm bedding down in the woods at night, preparation.
It was too late, last night, to catch a ride south to Plymouth center where some friends of mine were getting together on the waterfront after I walked from my friend's parents estate to the expressway so I ubered it. I prefer to walk, but when time is a factor I'm not afraid to hitch-hike except I don't catch rides at night. You only have a few seconds to decide whether to take a ride assessing the vehicle, the people and the general vibe of the moment. It all comes down to instincts and in the dark it's too much of a risk so I never do it. It was light out when I packed up and was ready to leave, but I stayed longer saying good-bye than I wanted to because I could tell that my friend's parents were disappointed that I was leaving. They always have dinner late which I think is super cool and hadn't eaten, yet, but I couldn't stay. A rolling stone gathers no moss. My friend's father said "Take the corvette!" but I just laughed because I knew he was only kidding. He has like 7 antique cars and hotrods and here I was feeling bad about leaving them. Again, pretty surreal.
August 6, 2017, West Chesterfield, Massachusetts
I usually have my spot picked out and camp set up before it gets dark, but it was Friday night and I was in a new place, Northhampton, a funky little town in western Mass., so I decided to treat myself to dinner and a beer. I ended up at Packard's and definitely picked a good spot. The owner and I had a great time telling stories sitting at the bar. Maybe walking in with a 60lb pack on my back helped spark a conversation, but he was a very friendly and generous guy so I'm sure it wasn't a necessity. He had Steve, the bartender and, also, a great guy, grab the last t-shirt off the wall behind the bar and gave it to me as well as his card with the name of the owner of a cool bar/restaurant on the Cape which is where I'll be next month for my cousin's wedding and told me to call if I ever needed anything. His sister lived in Barrow, Alaska so we had plenty to talk about not to mention that he grew up in Jamaica Plain next door to Dorchester where my father grew up in Boston. I'm sure it didn't hurt that I'm Irish. He has owned Packard's for 40 years which has three floors though I'd never know because I never got the chance to leave my stool the whole time I was there. It's very much a fixture in town which I'm sure can be a challenge for some of the more liberal progressive residents to have such an ol'school come as you are type of establishment rooted there. Jack, a young local guy who owns an excavation company, sat down at the bar stool once Bob, the owner, left and we had a great conversation, too, talking about work and traveling. He's done his fair share out in Colorado especially, a state I, also, really like. He gave me his number and told me to keep in touch if I decide to stick around and want some work. Before calling it a night because he had to work in the morning, he offered me a place to stay even though he knew I was fine winging it on my own, but made sure the attractive young lady behind the bar set me up with another beer. I graciously passed on the beer when I finished the one I had and called it a night shortly after, too. I already had three which is a lot for me these days, but she was nice enough to take one of them off my tab.
Crashed on the grass in a big open park on my way out of town behind a big oak tree. Admittedly, I was being a little lazy, but it was late and I planned to be up and out of there at the crack of dawn before the town woke up. It rained at sunrise, but I was already awake so I packed up quickly and headed further west. I had 17 miles to walk in order to reach the off the grid cabin where I'll be staying for the week to take care of 20 sled dogs. I met the woman who owns them when I first arrived back from Alaska and she offered me a job, but it was over 2 hours away from the coast further than I wanted to be from my family and friends which was the reason I'd come back plus it didn't pay anything and I'd have to buy a truck if I was going to live way out in the middle of the woods so I passed. She was pretty disappointed and I felt bad so when she contacted me a couple weeks ago to see if I would dogsit for her while she and her daughter went to visit friends in Maine for the week I agreed. I just finished a lot of landscaping this week for the other folks I was helping so I was about to have a lot more time on my hands so I figured it would quiet and peaceful out hear allowing me to get a lot of writing done.
I need to get better at saying "no" to people because I think when it's all said and done it might actually cost me money by coming out here. As great as reconnecting with so many people in the last two months has been I'm still on my own in this world, like many people are. Some may not realize what this is like, but when you don't have anyone close in your life and people ask you for things it's hard to say "no" because those people are the only people in your life at the moment. It's very much like being a one legged table. We all have a natural tendency, at least, I do, to want to help one another so I shouldn't be too hard on myself about over-extending myself and I'm not. This world and how it separates us with money does a good job of that on it's own. Everyone I've seen, I've sought out. Left to my own devices I'll be off in the middle of nowhere alone before long and this is the learned behavior that I'm trying to change. I didn't charge the folks I was doing the landscaping for even though it was close to a weeks worth of work. I don't know them as well as I know my friend's parents and it seemed like they weren't interested in getting to know me. They just wanted a bunch of stuff done, mostly landscaping, so it felt like I was working for them, not helping out a friend which I didn't like so when they asked me how I'd like to be paid cash or check I told them it was a gift. I knew they wanted me to do a lot more things once I was done with the most pressing things, but I didn't want. It was taking up too much of my time, but I felt bed so not letting them pay me was my way of getting out of it with a clear conscience. They were very moved by the gesture and took it well. I didn't tell them this part, but I kind of feel like people should take care of their own yards unless they're physically unable to, not because they just don't want to. I know, I'm weird, but money doesn't make things ok to me even though we all need it. I've made some progress with my father, too, and have been over to his house a few times in this last couple weeks to do some work to his yard. I haven't asked. I've just gone there for a few hours, done the work and then left. I can't have my father living like that. It's going to take some time and a lot of work, but it's an improvement and he's been receptive and thankful so I'm glad that I'm here.
August 7, 2017, West Chesterfield, Massachusetts
What I'm seeing demonstrated again and again is how people are at the mercy of their minds. It's almost like they have become slaves to their thoughts, fears and insecurities oblivious to how this catering affects those around them. This has been a big step in my own education because I was a perfect example of this for years trying to live a life in accordance with my extremely idealistic beliefs yet they were not making me happy. The sad things is that I had so much to be happy about and by nature am a very happy playful person, but I was trapped in my mind. Many people would rather be in control regardless of how happy they are than face their fears risking losing control in order to become happier. And then, some of us are very willing to face whatever we have to, but we can't seem to find what this is to create a break through because bad behavior has been so ingrained in us for so long from an early age. Thank God it's never too late. All a person needs is to be willing which is not as simple as it sounds because so much of our lives and the things we have become dependent on are unsustainable so we can literally not afford to be completely honest with ourselves. As a result, the external circumstances that affect our lives which many of us to live in denial are then strengthened by our thoughts, fears and insecurities internally. My naive mistake in the past has been to assume that people want to learn how to be more honest and consequently more happy when in fact they firmly believe it's not even an option because they can't afford to. So ya, not simple.
August 10, 2017, West Chesterfield, Massachusetts
Took a "dog ferry" across the Westfield River, yesterday. A woman who works for the owner of the sled dogs came by in the morning as well as a recent grad of a nearby college along with her friend who sometimes volunteers with the dogs and we took them for a swim in the river. It was warm and sunny. We loaded 16 dogs into the dog truck and drove to a remote spot along the river which winds through the wilderness in this part of the state for almost 80 miles before joining the Connecticut River near the city of Springfield, Ma. We led the dogs down to the water on leashes which are more like a halter on a horse than an ordinary leash. They're a little too wild to let run free. The ladies took one dog each and I took two at a time and we swam them across the river. We were instructed to do this three times for each dog. It's fun and refreshing for the dogs as well as a training practice, apparently. The river isn't huge where we went and you could walk about 1/3 of the way before having to swim. It wasn't really swimming, but more like floating for a free ride because the dogs are so strong, especially with two towing me through the water. As the girls got more comfortable they each tried it with two dogs, too. After all the dogs got to go three times, we loaded them on truck and headed back to the dog yard. It was fun, but 16 dogs in a truck can get pretty hectic with them all barking at the same time. It's been another informative glimpse into the sport. We had to leave 5 dogs at the yard, the youngest litter, because that would have made it even more chaotic. I'm not sure we could have even fit them all. The dog truck has 12 dog boxes so we had to double up some of the smaller dogs. The ladies left around 1pm and it was just me and the dogs, again. I'm going to make sure the 5 youngest that couldn't go have some fun, today.
I love working with animals and I was relieved to learn that this operation only had 21 dogs compared to the much higher numbers I encountered last winter, but even this many is a lot in my opinion with the amount of time and space a dog needs. My guy, before, he passed away a couple years ago which was one of the reason I decided to work with dogs because I missed having one around was never tied up or even on a leash very often. He ran free all the time with me at whatever job I had or on one of our cross country walks because he was so well-behaved. Unfortunately, it's not a perfect world and a person is going to have a very frustrating life if he or she needs it to be in order to be happy. All we can do is decide what is acceptable to us.
I'm trying to get some writing done this week, but I'm, also, trying to take as many dogs as I can for a walk each day which uses up a lot of time in addition to feeding them, cleaning the yard, etc.
August 14, 20017, South Boston, Massachusetts
Dorchester Heights is such a cool park. South Boston is definitely a dog town, so many people have them here, and this park on the hill overlooking the city that lots of people take the dogs for walks in is still immaculate. Everyone cleans up after their dog. There's even a stainless steel bowl on the ground by the water fountain so a pup can get a drink that's not even chained down. I've been to plenty of parks all over the country in small towns and in big cities and few are this clean. Way to go, Southie!
Caught the bus from Northhampton back to coast yesterday. Wish I could give the operation I just left the same thumbs up, ugh. I don't mind doing a person a favor, but there are takers and givers in this world and basing your livelihood on cheap or even free labor and the generosity of others is not a viable business plan. When she asked me to look after the dogs and the place, I told her that I could get a vehicle to use for the week, but I didn't want to tie one up (even though I've had plenty of offers from friends and family to borrow one) for the week. It just seemed a waste because I wasn't planning on doing a lot of driving once I got there so she said there'd be a truck at the house for me to use, but when I got there she told me that the inspection sticker had expired so I had to be careful if I drove it. There was no food in the house so I obviously was going to have to chance it. She asked me not to use the washing machine because it was temperamental even though the first thing she did when she got back was to start load. When she showed me her bed upstairs in the loft of her cabin before they left it wasn't made and the sheets were all rolled up in a ball and she actually mentioned that she wasn't going to wash them until she got back after I used them, too. I just shook my head in disbelief. I spent the week on the couch downstairs. When they got back and she asked me if I'd help her unload their truck full of duffle bags, mountain bikes and camping gear after her teenage daughter walked into the house staring at her phone not lifting a finger and plopped down on the couch, I finally said to myself "Enough is enough."
I told her that I was a very generous person and enjoy helping people, but not if it's taken for granted or taken advantage of. She apologized and told me how much she appreciated everything I'd done. Apparently, the woman who I took the dogs swimming with had very good things to say. She's been working there for about 8yrs before all the dogs were born and had never seem them so quiet and content when she pulled in the driveway that morning. That was nice to hear, but the owner still kept asking me to do stuff explaining how she and her daughter were tired from the trip. I had just spent the last week taking care of her 21 dogs by myself while they were on vacation and she was still trying to take more from me. I told her that I was sorry, but I had to go. I agreed to feed the dogs and clean the yard one last time before I left so she could go be with her daughter. She said she was too tired to drive me the 20 minutes into Northhampton, but she would drive me into Williamstown 6 miles down the road. Again, I just shook my head. I came very close to grabbing my backpack and walking out of there, but I wanted to try to catch the 5:30 bus to Boston and it was, now, 4:30 so the ride was better than nothing. I helped her vaccinate the new dog they brought home with them and got out of there. I never once lost my temper or had a negative word to say. I greeted it all with patience and a smile. I've come a long way. When someone is this far off the map from the path I've taken in life the distance is sometimes too great to cover in the amount of time available. She dropped me in the little nearby town and handed me a check for the week. It was less than I make in one day landscaping, but it was enough to cover my bus ticket and other expenses so at least I broke even. A little old lady stopped and offered me a ride and I made it to Northhampton with time to spare.
August 16, 2017, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Spent the night at my cousin's in Southie, got a good night sleep (the sled dogs barked frequently in the middle of the night, every night), walked their dog at noon while they were at work so they didn't have to pay a dog-walker and because he's an awesome dog then hopped the train down the coast, but something unexpected happened. I accidentally got on the wrong train. In the city, the commuter train has a different platform than the subway so when I was waiting I didn't pay as close attention to the destination displayed on the train when it arrived because it only comes like once an hour rather than every few minutes. Unfortunately, there was no destination displayed on the train, but it was close to the time mine was supposed to arrive so I assumed it was the Greenbush, Scituate train. It wasn't. It was headed to Middleborough which I realized after I got on and it had left the station. The Greenbush train arrived a few minutes later, wups, so I hopped off at the next stop, switched platforms, took the subway back and tried to catch it, but I wasn't in time. It was more funny than frustrating and the conductor sympathized with me and told me to just head all the way back to South Station and catch the next Greenbush train departing from there in about an hour. Now, I had time to kill so I said "maybe it happened for a reason" and decided to go sit down at the Tavern, the little bar/restaurant at the station.
Not long after, a pretty young lady sat down beside me. I've never been one to hit on women, but I was in a good mood so I decided to be friendly and asked her how her day was going. She answered with a big smile and we had a great conversation. She was a grad student and, also, waited tables at a popular seafood restaurant in the city. We talked so much that I lost track of time and at the very last minute realized that I was about to miss my train, again, so regrettably I said "good-bye and wished her well" rather quickly. I didn't want to ask her for her number or anything like that and tarnish the pleasant experience.
August 31, 2017, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Man, I'm so starved for some real social interaction. It's been great returning to this area as crowded, hectic and superficial as it is here. There's lots of pluses, too, like getting to see my family and friends who I haven't been able to spend time with in decades, but this place is definitely a tough nut to crack. I just left the largest and least populated state in the U.S. to live in the one of the smallest most populated states. I've definitely got my work cut out for me. I wish it was just a matter of hard work. That's the one thing I've come to rely on all my life, but it's more of a mental game here even though this is where I got my work ethic. Actually the problems we face as a culture are 90% mental anywhere you go. They're just amplified here because it's so crowded and it's the oldest part of the country. Old habits die hard and the mind is a creature of habit. If I can make it here with what I'm trying to accomplish then anywhere else won't seem as hard. I'm not assuming it would be a guaranteed success anywhere else, but practice makes perfect so trying to make things work here with my values is a worthy challenge. Alright enough of this, I'm talking, but not saying anything.
I bought a truck this week. I had to. I haven't registered it. I'm not even sure if I'm going to, but I needed to get something with a plow while it's still warm before they get harder to find and the prices go up if I'm going to stick around this winter. My father is done shoveling snow. I've been traveling from place to place for years and years and it's finally time to stop. I wouldn't say it's my decision, but it still might be good for me. I don't really have a choice. My father has gotten old. He'd never ask me to stay or for anything else, but my mother passed away 12 years ago. They were married for 35. His siblings have all passed away and this winter he lost his best friend. He has no one left accept my older brother and I and my brother hasn't been home since my mother's funeral. What choice do I have? He is not able to take care of himself or his home to the standard set by he and my mother when they got married and began a life together and I'm not going to just leave him here to struggle and manage as best he can as this standard falls lower and lower. It's already fallen far below what is acceptable. The house that I grew up in is almost unrecognizable and the man who was once my father has faded away. Though we never got along too great it still breaks my heart and thank God I still have a heart to feel it.
Normally, I would have already bought a new truck and landed a job by now since arriving in a new place (or old one), but I'm trying to learn and avoid old habits and ruts by addressing the issues we all face as a people and that I face as a wandering, idealistic, free spirit differently. It's been great to see where my life began with such a fresh perspective, but being in a familiar place can, also, feel like it's where my resourcefulness was exhausted years and years ago which is one of, if not the major, reason why I left here in the first place. Like I said, a worthy challenge.
On simple terms, I need to lay down the basics that have always worked for me. From day one, I set out to live a natural life to my fullest potential so I need to find a very physical job on a farm or fishing boat that gives me enough exercise to start putting weight back on and to feel healthy and strong. I've gotten too skinny. It needs to pay a decent wage which is always a challenge because hard physical jobs often don't pay much. Luckily as always, I don't need to make a lot of money because of how I live. I have minimal bills and expenses especially since selling everything in Alaska and flying back here with some money in my pocket giving me a taste of what it's like to not have to live week to week or paycheck to paycheck. It's been a huge advantage the last few months to not be stressed about money all the time. I've gained so much perspective in view of myself and what time, money and work means to all of us which will be crucial in applying what I've learned to finishing my first book on these subjects. But with the purchase of the truck and with fall closing in, I need to recoup my expenses and start working, again, but this time keeping in mind other requirements that I've never put on my job or my life in the past...or been able to even see the neccessity of. I don't want to lose the freedom that I've always had by staying in one place and for the first time I don't think I will. Like I said, this is a mental game and freedom is a mindset not a location. This is the victory. Being present is the ultimate goal for anyone striving to reach a higher consciousness and a happier existence. Food, water, shelter and love. These are the four basic needs that I believe we all require. How we meet them sustainably is the challenge.
I haven't written in a couple weeks so I still need to recap somethings, but time, the number one commodity in life, is of the essence at the moment so I had to get this out in order to move forward. My head was starting to become bogged down having no one to talk to which is why I started writing and why I left here so long ago.
September 2, 2017, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I took high level classes in junior high and high school, but I only squeaked by with B's because I rarely studied. Sometimes I got A's, sometimes C's mostly because I was bored. I was starved for connection with something or someone, but I couldn't find any in school, my social life or at home. I had friends, but I was pretty lost inside even though I never let it show. I'm not even sure that I knew I was. Regardless, I couldn't afford to let anyone find out and there was no way I was going to live like this. The only time I didn't have to worry about this was when I was running around in the woods with my dog. We can only have real connections with people by being real ourselves. I think many of us are our real selves when we are young, but as we grow up we are taught to hide parts of ourselves. Some have to hide a little. Some a lot. The easier you fit into this artificial system the less you have to suppress. I wasn't allowed to be myself so I never made any real connections during this time, but I still managed to finish college (with A's) and immediately hit the road finally free to be myself, but, now, I was in the real world fending for myself like everyone else. Being young, confident and ambitious will only get you so far on the road less-traveled if you try to make it alone which was the only way I knew how.
Fear is really beginning to creep in. The euphoria of being back has finally subsided. I've been here 3 months. That's not a bad run, probably my longest ever. I still get glimmers, but I'll lose touch with it if I don't do something soon. The good thing is that I know how I want to feel and that it's possible to get there so I have something to aim for. I can hear a man hammering on a roof through the trees in my father's backyard and I really want to go over and help him. I pass by his house when I leave here and he's got a lot of plywood to lay down before he starts shingling and it would be fun to help. I don't know really know him. Not many families are left in the neighborhood from when I grew up here. I've roofed a lot of houses and could really help, but this fear for my own survival is eating me up inside. I've got a little mole or something on my forehead that I really need to have looked at, but I know it's going to be expensive and I don't have health insurance. I've never had it as an adult. I could never afford it with the jobs I've had.
Wait! It's not fear for my own survival that's eating me up inside! Well, maybe there's a little of that, but a big part of the feeling is something else. Since I arrived, I've been bouncing back and forth from household to household trying to do things for people to show my appreciation for letting me stay with them, but it doesn't always feel good. It feels anxious. Right now, I'm stressed about getting over to my wealthy friend's property and mowing all the fields with their tractor. Before that, I was stressed about finishing my uncle's driveway. Before that, it was taking care of those sled dogs. The list goes on, but why? First of all, I don't need a place to stay. I camp when I don't have one and I feel the most grounded when I do, but obviously I can't tell people this. They'd think I was a freak. And, I'm not going to use my savings to put down first, last and a security deposit on a house or apartment then I would be trapped like everyone else doing anything and everything I needed just to have a place to live with no time for anything else. The reason I stay with people is to spend time with them, not because I need a place to stay, but the truth is I'm not making connections with them. I have yet to even have an actual conversation with my own father since I arrived back here. The best time I've had is with the farmers I play soccer with every other Wednesday. On the alternate Wed., we meet at a different farm to go over new farming practices or other farm related issues and this week I was able to make it to a farm in Concord, Ma where they were meeting and it was great. But, they all live pretty far away and I just met them.
I'm not going to hurry off to mow the fields, today, just to appease the anxiety welling up in my stomach. I'm going to sit here and write curled up in this sleeping bag because it was cold last night and I slept outside of my father's house. The smell of cigarettes is too strong inside. Mowing the fields won't fix anything. They are nice people and I will do it eventually, but they don't know the first thing about me and sadly don't want to. They may think they do, but really they just want me around to do things for them. It's fine. I'm not mad or resentful. I'll still do things for them, but it needs to be on my terms. I'm not interested in riding around with them on their golf cart in the evenings with a drink overlooking the property listening to them brag about their millionaire friends. If their rich friends are so great let them mow their lawn. Oops, I said I wasn't mad or resentful and I'm not. I guess I'm just a little mad at myself for letting it go on like this. I don't want a place to stay. I need a place to belong and, right now, the woods is the only place....well, a dance floor with some good music would work, too, but I haven't been out to have fun in a long time.
Divide and conquer. This is what the present system does to us often driven by our fears and egos. If I have learned to shed my fears and ego, where is this anxiousness coming from? I'm absorbing it from what's around me. Many people have learned to live with fear using denial to still function in everyday society, even to become very successful in it. This is because facing our fears and dealing with the hard problems of the world have got nothing to do with becoming successful in this world that we have created. In fact, it's almost easier if you can block out your feelings. This is not a good formula. What if our feelings are what hold the solutions to many of the problems we face as individuals and as a society then what are we going to do? Make more money by blocking out more? This is where we are at as a society and I'm deep within it, at the moment. The fear I had growing up which still pervades a lot of life here is that of sounding like a touchy feely wimp. Good thing I'm a bad ass who has survived more than a shallow insecure person could ever fathom. Good thing I've got both feet firmly planted in each world. On the one hand (or foot), I'm a super hard worker and very responsible and on the other hand I can navigate through my, or anyone else's, feelings as easily as most people can drive down the road -when they're not stuck in traffic. It's always came natural to me which is probably why living in such an unnatural world was so challenging before. So now what?
I need to get a job. My old boss from the feed store in Maine called the other day. I bet I could go back to work hauling hay and feed. I loved lugging 100lbs of grain around all day, but it's 2.5 hrs from here. All the farms that I want to work on are pretty far and a lot fo them are vegetable farms so they won't give me much of a work out. Lifting heavy objects all day is what makes me happy, not picking green beans. There's an oyster farm just a few miles from here that I used to work on that would give me an awesome work out, but then I wouldn't get to know all the new farmers I just met. It pays a little better than 12 bucks an hour which the going rate for farm help. Don't even get me started on how absurd this rate of pay is. How do they expect people to live on this? I can usually make more because I have so much experience, but it's still pretty bad. The biggest source of anxiety is working on the oyster farm then deciding to leave and disappointing the owner like I did the last time I left. I hate disappointing people, but there's more to it than that. I hate not being on the same page with people which is why I choose to leave somewhere in the first place. The page I need to be on is working and staying in shape while providing healthy food for myself and others in the most natural sustainable way. Looks like I'm writing a letter of introduction to the farms west of Boston stating my experience and what I'm looking for to see what comes from it.
September 21, 2017, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Still fighting the good fight even as overwhelmed as it can feel some days. I've got pages and pages of entries that I've written in the last couple weeks, but haven't managed to sit down long enough to finish them in a concise enough manner to post, but there is a hurricane in town so I've managed to get caught up on a bunch of things. It arrived two days ago. I got a job as a sternman on a lobster boat two weeks ago and have been working every day until the storm arrived. Time is once, again, a commodity, but I love working on the ocean and getting a great work-out. The job came at just the right moment. I was seconds away from hitting send on my phone after writing a text to the owner of the oyster farm that I used to work at, but just before I did I received an email from an old high school friend who lobsters out of Green Harbor and he said that he could use me. Apparently, the guy who was working for him turned out to be unreliable and pulled one too many no-shows. I almost forgot that I had sent him an email asking if he knew of any one in the harbor that needed a sternman because it was such a long shot, but it turned out to be well worth it.
I wrote up a nice letter of introduction along with my resume, made a list of all the farms in eastern Mass that I was interested in, more than ten, spent three days driving around visiting them, but for some reason I didn't leave my paperwork or introduce myself at any of them like I usually would. Maybe it was because I've done it so much over the years that I knew how it would go and I just wasn't getting that excited eager feeling of finding a place that I really wanted to work at even though a lot of the farms seemed like nice places. I'm sure it was a combination of things like low pay, driving distance from my father, concerns about not getting a great work-out, etc. I've traveled and worked on so many farms over the years that I sort of know what to expect and I really didn't feel like starting all over again only to realize what I already knew so I ended the farm tour with a stack of papers that I never gave out except for on the last day at one farm just across the river from my father's in Norwell who I did introduce myself to. Their season was winding down and they had all the help they needed, but were still excited to meet me because they needed a new manager. Theirs had left in the middle of the summer so one of the crew who had worked there for the last few seasons stepped up to fill the role temporarily, but he was a young guy with plans of heading west this fall so he and I talked for a few minutes and he showed me around the place. He asked me how I would like him to go about talking to the right people to get the ball rolling to be considered for the new manager position, but it wouldn't start until next spring so I left him an envelope with my introduction letter and resume and told him that I'd contact the board myself. It was a non-profit and may or may not be a good fit, but I still wanted to find work, now. This is when I started to really consider going back to the oyster farm before making a new list of farms to visit. I knew what to expect there, too. A great work-out was definitely to be expected, but maybe it was the fact that growing oysters, which are sort of an expensive delicacy, wasn't really my idea of bringing food to the masses or that I myself am not a huge oyster eater. I don't mind them. They're kind of fun, but I could never see myself eating them everyday. Lobsters, on the other hand, I love. They're still pretty expensive, too, but I feel like even blue-collar people eat them and they're an actual meal.
Maybe I'll get in touch with the non-profit farm in Norwell this fall or winter and learn more about that as a possibility for next spring. In the meantime, I'm on the ocean, one of my favorite places to be, working for a great guy who I've known for years, making way better money than I could at any farm and getting the kind of work-out that makes me happy and strong. Now, I've got to buy a new black suit for my other cousin's wedding tomorrow. He sent my invitation to Alaska so I still haven't received it, but I stopped by his mum and sister's this week and discovered it was black tie optional. I can't see myself buying a tux or even renting one this short notice, but I should own a black suit for formal occasions so it's time to go shopping even though I'd rather discuss deeper topics than all this play by play.
October 15, 2017, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I've got so much to do, but I've got to write something or I'm going to lose my mind....well, not really, but letting too much stuff accumulate in our lives or in our heads is what eventually brings people to the point that they just say "I give up. There's too much. It's not even worth trying to talk about, now" and I'll never let myself to get to this point.
So the quick recap is: I've come full circle. I'm back in the town and in the house where my life started which is a little sureal, but I've never felt better which is allowing me to see how growing up in this environment affected me. So the good news is that I've finally made it internally to the place that I've always wanted to make it to, but the bad news is I've seriously got my work cut out for me regarding making a life for myself here. All I'm doing, at the moment, is weathering this stagnant close-minded stand-offish environment with the positive energy I feel on the inside which is allowing me to survive, but I'm not here to just survive. I'm here to succeed externally as much as I have internally and if I can do that then the world in the tiniest most minuscule way will be a better place. And, that's a good place to start.
The biggest challenge which is why I'm writing is that there is no one to bounce these ideas off of or to share these challenges with. This is the crux of the problem here and everywhere really: how to reach people with no other agenda other than to connect, really connect not just online or through texting, but from the ground up. I've said it many times especially when I was taking care of my mother years ago when she was sick. If cancer can spread one cell at a time until it eventually overtakes the body that it is living in then healthy life forms can spread just as powerfully one cell at a time spreading until they overtake all the unhealthiness around them. Cancer eventually kills itself and everything around it. Healthy life forms eventually make the world a better place.
I need to build a place to live, but I'll be honest. I'm scared. The end of summer and beginning of fall have been very good to me weather-wise giving me comfortable outdoor conditions to work in, but I'm afraid of becoming trapped in this lonely place. The freedom to escape has always been my greatest advantage in life and, now, my father is too old to take care of himself properly whether he's willing to admit it or not. It's obvious to anyone with eyes and I can't bring myself to leave which is probably a good thing for me, to stop rambling like I have all these years. It will allow me to channel my efforts and energy into longer term investments like projects and people, but I'm still holding back because even though I know staying is the right thing to do there's no one here for me. I don't have a single friend or family member to talk to and my father and I are like strangers. He's built a mental architecture in his mind and life that will not allow anyone in and trying to break through it would not be wise. I've already tried that too many times to count in my life, but I know that I can still improve the quality of his life in other ways and in turn maybe my own, but I just need, at least, one of my feet to be planted on something solid.
I started digging with a shovel, but the amount of dirt I need to move, along with giant boulders, in order to create a level surface to build on the property behind my father's house is greater than it would make sense to try to move by hand considering the amount of time I have before winter hits. I work pretty much six days a week so there's only the time I have when I get in from the harbor to build. I've been sleeping in a chair on the screened in porch attached to his house for the last month, the only place not affected by cigarette smoke and a blaring television. I'm not even going to mention all the projects that need to be done to his house and yard that I haven't gotten to, yet. We all have our impossible goals to achieve. This is mine, at the moment. Luckily, I love doing the impossible.
I remember a couple months ago before I had bought a truck I had to do some work at my father's house so I decided to walk there rather than ask anyone for a ride or get an uber. I left my backpack at the home of my wealthy friends which made walking the 4 miles or so to my father's very easy. If you've ever done any running or other physically strenuous activity, there's usually a little burst of adrenaline and energy when you first start like a horse breaking out of a starting gate, but then your energy plateaus so you can maintain a manageable pace for the remaining duration of the activity. This didn't happen. Not having the pack on my back made walking so easy that I rode that little burst of energy the entire time. It was so easy. Cars went by and the blank stares of people that usually over time ware me down didn't even phase me. I got to his house without any lack of momentum, got the work I needed to do done then turn around and headed back to my friend's.
I think one of the things that drew me to walking was the simplicity of it which was especially surprising considering as an athlete I used to hate running sprints or jogging in school. Now, I love it. So much of our experiences in life are mental even if they manifest themselves physically. I miss the simplicity of not having a vehicle, but I'm still trying to keep the mind set that lifestyle gives me. I was going to buy a camper to live in and park at my father's, but they are so ugly and seemed like a temporary quick fix which puts me in a mind set that I don't like so I'm going to be patient and build something beautiful instead which will be environmentally sustainable rather than something I'd need to pump heat and electricity into making me dependent on a system that I've lived on the outside of for so long. It's much easier to help or improve something when you're not completely dependent on it.
October 22, 2017, Marshfield, Massachusetts
We've been doing pretty good lobstering so we took the weekend off for the first time and I finished the last of my string of favors this morning that have been eating up a big portion of my free time, but I have made some progress on building a place to live, too, so even though I'm back on the ocean tomorrow bright and early I'll be able to get a lot more done after work from, now, on. Having my own place to just "be" or even have a guest over will be a huge improvement on my life and well-being. Rented a skid-steer (a mini-bull dozer) earlier in the week and excavated a nice area to build a 4 season yurt. I roughed it in with the machine and, this afternoon, I finished doing the rest by wheel barrow and shovel. You always end up moving more dirt around than you expect, but it was still a feasible job and good thing I rented a machine because I uncovered some gigantic rocks that one person could have never moved. Now, I have a workable area and I didn't have to take down any trees. Next step is to lay down stone for a nice solid dry surface to build on. I'm building it using natural techniques while, also, keeping in mind that none of it can be permanent to avoid having to get any type of building permit so basically I'm just creating a stone patio on which to put a temporary structure so when the time comes I can take it all down easily and pack it up or sell it. I could just buy a yurt kit for 5 to 10 grand, but I can build one for around 2 that will be a lot sturdier and warmer. Even though it was all overgrown woods, altering what used to by the backyard that I played in growing up and that my mother spent a lot of time gardening in was big medicine so I never forgot to do it with respect and consideration.
I have to try and not postpone starting any type of social life until my place is finished or, at least, until the walls and roof are up. I have a tendency to view myself conditionally in sort of "what have you done lately" type of attitude. It's done a good job of making me use my time wisely and productively, but I need to remind myself that even though I'm back here in the most familiar place on the planet to me I am still alone and have to make the best of who I am and where I'm at instead of saying "once this is done then I'll feel worthy of friendship or more." This is a good reminder for what happened the other night.
I was coming back from Cape Cod after attending the wedding of one of my cousin's a couple weekends ago. It was black tie optional at a very fancy resort on the ocean. I didn't feel very comfortable, the educated redneck that I am. I spent a lot of money on their gift and a new suit, but it was still the right thing to do. I'm very happy for both of them. I got a room at a cute little inn that only made me feel more lonely staying their by myself. The next day after having brunch with my uncle, aunt, cousin and his girlfriend I headed north. Not eager to return to the chair on my father's porch where I reside I decided to stop in Brant Rock, the small tightly-knitted coastal neighborhood that I lobster out of to grab some dinner at one of the local bars, saw a friend that I went to high school with then another then the band started playing so I decided to try to make up for the fact that I hadn't had a very fun weekend so far.
I'm such a wuss. I had the hottest girl in the bar wanting to dance with me and I didn't even make a move. Some dude I didn't even know grabbed me and told me "That girl is totally into you. Go get her!" There were three of them all together and each of them was extremely attractive, and young. Every guy in the place and probably some of the women were checking them out as they danced with their one guy friend on the otherwise empty dance floor. He definitely had his work cut out for him making sure they weren't bothered. Maybe one of them was his girlfriend. It was tough to say. They looked like a handful and he seemed pretty mild-mannered, but later in the evening when one of the hot ones pointed right at me making eye contact I knew that if I wanted to I could have joined them. I watched her flip-off a couple other guys who had tried to roll-up on them, but I guess I met with her approval. When enough other people had trickled onto the dance floor I ventured onto it, too, but on the other side making it clear that I wasn't trying to encroach on them like every other single guy out there. Instead they seemed to gradually move closer to me. An older woman had already came up to me and said "I come here all the time, I love music and I love dancing and you are the best I've ever seen." It was a little awkward, but I smiled and told her thank you. I don't dance to show off which is why it was such a challenge to get out there. Barely anyone else was dancing, but the place was crowded as lots of people were just standing around the edge watching. So lame. Whether I liked it or not, I was going to be seen and I was tired of having no social life.
All too often it is like this in America. We are so stuck in our heads watching rather than doing. I've been the first, or the only, one on the dance floor so many times in my travels over the years that I've lost count. It definitely helps if the band, or dj, is really good, but unfortunately, and no offense, this one wasn't. They were just a typical older 80's cover band stopping after each song to talk and killing the momentum. This is such an amateur mistake, but whatever. I can't be too hard on them. At least, they're out there doing something. I've traveled and visited so many bars in big cities and small towns all across the U.S. that at this point I'm kind of an expert on creating the perfect atmosphere for a good time especially with such fickle Americans who are often way too scared to dance and just let go, not without a lot of alcohol anyways. Aside from the music which is obviously important, the lay out of the room is, also, crucial. The Jetty is better than a lot, but because it's not a huge space anyone whoever did decide to dance was still going to feel like they were on display and with the band stopping after every song this makes for more downtime of just standing there being stared at than most would prefer. 70's and 80's pop rock isn't my first choice in music, but beggars can't be choosers and I hadn't had fun in a long time so I forced myself to get out there. I can't really complain. Even though it took me a long time of hiding it growing up, I'm just lucky when it comes to dancing. I have crazy rhythm so it's not really fair for me to complain about how people need to lighten up and learn to have fun when I was born as a human metronome. You could turn off all the music or plug your ears and still be able to clap along by keeping time with me bouncing around like Tigger.
I was actually glad that the three hot girls weren't on the dance floor when I first ventured out alone. It allowed me to establish that I wasn't trying to hit on them and to realize something else. I hadn't gotten any sleep or showered since before the wedding. It was an evening event so I was able to leave after work, but I wasn't planning on staying out, tonight. I just stopped to grab something to eat then one thing led to another and, now, here I was on the dance floor by myself. I raised my arms goofing around to one song and got a wiff of my armpits laughing as I quickly put them down. I had some funk going on and I don't mean Sly and Family Stone kind. It wasn't repulsive or anything, but definitely detectable. The three hot girls eventually came back out, but on the other side of the floor with a few people between us. As they seemed to migrate towards me I kept my distance. How could I let them get close to me, now?
Damn, she was hot! I'm such a dumb ass. Hopefully, I didn't smell too bad when she hugged me at the end of the night, but I still didn't get her name or number. Every guy in there would probably shoot me if they knew I hadn't even tried. I have no good reason other than that I trust my instincts and something told me not to force it or try to make it into something it wasn't. I think that's why women trust me in the first place because I'm not a creep, but b.o. or no b.o. I couldn't be a total wuss and leave without even approaching them when I'd gotten the green light so many times over the course of the night even when it was late and drunk dudes were surrounding them like a pack of dogs none had won their fancy. A beautiful girl is a powerful thing. I had to, at least, honor this and show my appreciation for their approval so I went out to my truck and grabbed some roses that I had bought for the wedding to put a flower in my lapel. I picked out the three best ones and walked back into the bar nodding to the bouncer, a muscular guy who was a couple years ahead of me in high school, with the flowers hidden under my shirt. Dodging a big drunk friendly kid who I was talking to earlier and wanted to continue our conversation about working on big union jobs in Boston, I maneuvered past him telling him that I had something I needed to do. The lights had come up and the girls were sitting at a table with their one guy friend having just dispatched with two other guys who had just taken a shot at them. I walked to the table beside them unfolded my shirt, took the roses out and casually handed one to each of them. Their jaws dropped and they accepted with big smiles. I shook the hand of the guy telling him I would have given him one, too, but I didn't want to make it weird. The super hot one jumped up and gave me a big hug and I told her that she was a beautiful girl. She said "Have a good night." and off into the sunset I rode like the world's biggest jack ass. Or maybe not. Who knows. Maybe I made the best of a night that nothing would have come from otherwise.
I feel bad about lying to the older guy who kept urging me to got after her. He was with a group of people around the edge of the dance floor and just wouldn't leave me alone frustrated by the fact that I wasn't closing the deal with the smoking hot one in the soft fuzzy sweater ...a magical touch, to see her in the negligee was really just too much....Sorry, I told you it was an 80's pop rock cover band. He said that she had already told him that she was interested in me so I needed to go after her. I was finally forced to tell him that my wife had recently passed away and I just wanted to keep to myself and have a little fun because I knew this was the only he'd leave me alone. He actually persisted a little longer telling me that she would want me to enjoy myself, but eventually he did let me be. I didn't like having to lie, but it was better than having to be firm with him and put him in his place. That would have killed the mood. He was well-intended even if misdirected. My other idea was to tell him that I was gay, but I don't even like joking around about this seeing as I am a good dancer, haha, which was a good thing because I saw the fuzzy sweater goddess talking to him a couple minutes later and he probably told her what I said.
Do I regret not trying to talk to her at the end of the night? Yes, I have to admit this. It took me hours to wind down and for the butterflies in my stomach to finally go away. I actually wrote all this that night as a way to cope with it. How pathetic am I? God, I need some friggin friends. Even though I'm incredibly lonely all the time, I'm not mad at myself for not trying to get with her. I have no way of knowing if I even had at shot or if I would even want to after to getting to know her. I've never had a o.n.s. What I am disappointed about is not facing my fears in the moment as I was standing there with her smiling at me having just hugged me and not talking to her for a second. I didn't have to leave so quickly. I could have been friendly, at least, but when you're on your own in the world and you've got as many wild horses under the hood as I do it's hard to hold onto them. I'm only human.
October 25, 2017, Marshfield, Massachusetts
It's about being present. That's why I was mad at myself the other night. It wasn't about some girl that I don't even know no matter how attractive she was. It was about the fact that I wasn't living in the moment which is a daily practice. Sometimes we get pulled off balance and I was that night, but whatever, at least, I tried. The cool thing is that I'm in a good mood more often than not these days. A storm's blowing through town, today, so I get to work on my yurt. It's funny. Life's really not that complicated. Happiness is very attainable for everyone. I'm not a millionaire or famous and alone most of the time, but I'm as happy as a person can be. If I use the perspective that I've gained by not being engulfed in the day in day out grind that most people's lives become as adults I could tell you why happiness is so simple yet out of reach for too many. When you get right down to it, it's pretty sick that the hardest challenges we face in our lives are created by other people not this planet. We are more than adequately equipped to live and prosper here naturally, but it is the sickness of our minds that make our life and the lives of others so difficult, but that is a big topic which I'm focusing on in my book. Right now, I need to concentrate on creating a modest little place to live while giving my heart and mind a positive direction to head in while reminding myself that the powers that be don't want me, or us, to be present because then we'd be way too powerful to manage and control. But, can we blame them? Are we in control of ourselves? How efficient and centered is your life?
After dropping the ball at the Jetty, the following night I got invited to a harvest music festival and danced my butt off without a care in the world. There was no awkwardness. No one was hitting on anyone. Everyone was just having fun. It was a Sunday so it didn't last too long into the night, but the long drive to dance for an hour or so and meet some more farmers was well worth it by allowing myself to see that the environment that I'm trying to be present in has a great deal of influence on how hard it is be present. When I compared dancing on the grass in a field listening to a band playing from the heart to trying to make myself dance to a band trying to copy someone else's music in a bar where everything cost money and the only common interest is probably alcohol the difference become pretty obvious. Not saying a person can't have fun in a bar. Those girls I met definitely were, but it's a lot harder to present in one and this is where true happiness waits.
November 16, 2017, the North River, Massachusetts
Need to check in. It's been way too long.
Here's one big long nasty run-on sentence....paragraph....whatever. Just left the tv station to pick up some camera equipment. Haven't heard back from the farmer who I was trying to schedule an interview with, but I didn't want to risk hearing from him at the last minute and not being ready. Looks like the weather is going to be pretty bad tomorrow so I won't be working, again, this week, so I could possibly do the interview tomorrow even though I'm tempted to call/text a guy who's boat I filled in for a couple weeks ago when Pete, the guy I went to highschool with (not his real name), had to haul out for repairs and I was out of work for a week. The other guy might go out, tomorrow, even if no one else does and he catches more lobsters that anyone else, so I'm told. We definitely did real good, almost double what I usually make, when I worked for him though I don't think he gave me as high of a percentage as I normally get from Pete which I have a feeling is because I told him that I couldn't work for him the next day, too, when he asked. I had already planned on shooting some video for the documentary I'm working on about local farming in the area. Heard from the Boys and Girls Club, yesterday, about doing some volunteering which should be fun. I went by there a couple a weeks ago and filled out the paperwork. Heard back from the dance studio in Plymouth about taking some swing and Latin dance lessons. Those will start in about a week. Got in my first argument with my dad yesterday. I've been so good about treading gently while I'm here, but I finally snapped back at him when he became argumentative, again, about putting his trash in the wrong recycle bin. I've done so much cleaning and work around the house that I finally said "enough is enough" when he started arguing with me about something so silly. He gets confused and it's happened a couple times in the last few months when he's accidentally dumped a hole trash basket of cigarette butts in the recycle bin and I gently and tactfully asked him if he meant to. I'm just going to stop mentioning it. It was my mistake because he just get's so defensive no matter how nicely I ask him things. We've literally had the same conversation about it more than three times, each time we've agreed that it was just an accident and I try not to make him feel bad futile as this may be. I just shouldn't have mentioned it, but I was feeling good and just the day before we had a nice moment, the first one since I arrived 5 months ago (can't believe it's been that long) when I cleaned out a drainage pipe in the lawn that will help prevent the downstairs from flooding anymore which has happened more times than I can count since I got here. I've wanted to fix it, but he's so hard to talk to that it always ends hopelessly, but, yesterday, I got lucky and he asked me to help when one of the sump pumps broke. The foundation for the yurt is done. It's basically a giant circular stone patio. I'm very happy with it. It looks beautiful and has radiant floor heat tubing underneath all the stone for when it's time to get warm. It's pouring, at the moment, and I'm parked by the river near Mary's (what used to be Mary's, now, called Roht Marine). I need to stop by there some night. It looks really nice and I can hear music playing sometimes through the woods when I'm hitting the hay early for work the next morning. Still sleeping on the porch and freezing my ass off, but it's hard to consider it cold after living in Alaska.
The biggest challenges at the moment are, of course, being around my father and his depression, the lack of communication with the guy I work with (not to mention yacking my brains out all day on the boat while hiding it more often these days seeing as it's storm season) and my old companion, loneliness. I've tried so many times to have a dialogue about work, but Pete dodges it every time and it's getting old. Widespread inability/unwillingness to communicate is a given pretty much everywhere in life these days especially in the more crowded parts of the country/world which reminds me I need to email the woman who ran the last NVC (non-violent communication) workshop I attended in Anchorage. I've looked and I can't find any around here so I'm going to try and start one. There's some in Boston, but I'd like to avoid having to drive all the way into the city. Being lonely all the time stinks, but combating it by initiating activities, at least, keeps me fairly productive. Speaking of productive, I should head home and start putting together the outer ring that will hold the yurt together with the sheet metal I bought yesterday. I can't wait to have a place to sit down and take a breath....and practice my guitar. Need to schedule some lessons for that, too. I'm going to start playing at local open mic's. How else am I going to find some friends? For the record regarding my previous post, there's nothing wrong with cover bands. One can can still sing and play from the heart even if they're playing someone else's music. It's called practice. Learning the music that comes before us is how we get better.
December 10, 2017, North River, Massachusetts
Had to get out of the house. Drove over and parked by the river. Looking west, I can see our neighborhood dock from here and, looking east, the ocean (when it's daytime). The docks are out for the winter. I was pretty hurt that no one notified me so I could help, but it's mostly new families in the neighborhood, now, so no one knows me. My father who was once the club president hasn't participated in any of it for years so I'm sure no one thought to notify our household. Regardless, it was still a bummer. I did it my whole life growing up, not to mention built a lot of the docks, until I hit the road after college and even then I was often still around in the fall to head down after midnight on a full moon tide with the rest of the guys and float the docks out of the river, over the marsh and up to the treeline for the winter. It was a cool group activity.
It's been good to remind myself to get out of the house when I need to. I've had some very tough days lately. As much of an eye-opener as being here is, this version of isolation is not healthy for anyone. Sitting in my truck is actually a lot warmer than my father's house, but more so it's a stable and quiet environment. He smokes like a chimney and listens to the tv so loud that there is no escaping it regardless of where I go in the house. There are times when I'm not sure why I'm here; for him, myself or karma. Who knows, but there are definitely times when I just want to pack up and leave. No one would notice for days if not weeks and it's these days and weeks that pile up and wear me down that I need to be careful of. I haven't avoided hitting rock bottom a few times since coming back, but I'm, at least, getting better at seeing why it occurs and what I can do to prevent it. Anyone trying to do what I'm trying would, too.
Went to a strip club for the first time in my life the other night. That was fun. Actually, that's not true. I went to one once like 15yrs ago for a buddy's bachelor party. I didn't want to go and stood way in the back with another friend who didn't want to be there either, but, at the time, I figured it was better to go along with it than hurt my buddy's feelings who was getting married. I just never had any desire to go to one, nor since. I thought they were sketchy and didn't want to be around that kind of energy. I don't understand why if you've found a woman that you love so much that you want to spend the rest of your life with her why you would want to go look at other naked women and even hook up with one of them, but whatever. I've always been a hopeless romantic so I'm used to being different from most guys, but lately I've been so desperate for human contact that I was considering paying for a massage somewhere, something else I've never done, which would probably be really good for me seeing as I've put on a lot of muscle since I started lobstering this summer. My back and shoulders would probably love it, not to mention the mental health benefits of being touched by another human being. Never got around to it though so when a buddy texted me the other day that he and some guys where heading to Foxwoods, the casino in Connecticut, and I figured a trip to go gambling would probably include a visit to a strip club at some point so I said "Hell ya!" It's about time I got to experience one for real.
For a healthy person with a good head on his shoulders, all it really amounted to was a little female attention. Yes, one must navigate through a pretty seedy atmosphere to get it, but amazingly enough that's pretty much what happened. I played it cool. I didn't get caught up in all that was going on there. I said "no, thank you" to a few offers from some very attractive young ladies to spend some one-on-one time with them and just hung at the bar drinking my water. I gave out a few dollars here and there to some of them just on general principle considering how they were choosing to make a living no differently than I've given money to a homeless person who sincerely looked like they needed it. Obviously, the girls were nicer to look at it, but I've never been impressed by superficial beauty if there's nothing behind it. Yes, nice things are nice to look at, but if you know how to look deeper you can see the nature of a person good or bad fairly easily and over the years I've learned to spot bad energy a mile away which is why it was so fun with this little cutie paused her routine on stage, hopped over the ropes and came over to me at the bar.
I was a little surprised, but then, again, it was the end of the night and there weren't many people left in the place. Both my buddies had already disappeared with dancers of their own. The rest of our group was at the casino and I was content to just sit there still taking in the spectacle of it all. So ya, she was just doing her job and targeted me because pickings were slim. Again, I was happy enough to give her a few bucks for the effort. I mean, c'mon, she was dancing in front of complete strangers completely naked. That must take some sand. Well, she was almost naked. Most of them by the end of their act got down to nothing, but she had just started and was still in a g-string bikini when she came over to me which she quickly discarded the top of so I handed her a five. I figured that was the polite thing to do, but then something happened that I don't think either of us expected.
When she offered to show me more and I said "Ya, I guess so if you want to" I think she could tell that I was being completely honest. I couldn't have cared less if she took off her bottom. I was just happy to be talking to a girl regardless of the fact that she was standing there topless. I think this realization hit both of us at the same time and we just started laughing. Whatever, maybe I'm completely naive and deluded, but that moment and what followed seemed pretty innocent considering where we were and the nature of the situation. She gave me a peak and, again, we both just laughed at the absurdity of it all. It was priceless. She climbed on my lap and we just talked both of us giggling throughout the conversation; traveling, scuba diving, fishing, Alaska, a trip to Australia she was planning. It was pretty normal except for the fact that she was practically naked on top of me. I, of course, tucking 5's and ten's periodically under the string of her bikini bottom. It was the least I could do. I don't think I was allowed to touch her. I never tried. She hugged me repeatedly when I'd say something that made her laugh. Again, I get it. Maybe it was all an act, but if she was fake and insincere I would have never allowed her to get that close to me. I'm not comfortable around bad energy. I would have easily told her with just my eyes that I wasn't interested like the few that had tried earlier. There was just something simple and sweet about her. Either that or she was an amazing actress. It doesn't matter. She made a few bucks and I got to talk to a pretty girl. It was harmless. No, I'm not wholeheartedly condoning places like that, but all things considered it's a crazy messed up world and for a short time two people laughed and enjoyed each other's company. What harm is that? The bartender and one of the other girls who was sitting behind me were getting a kick out of us as we laughed and talked like a couple of friends. My friends showed back up and we all hung out for a couple minutes as the place was closing down, she still straddling my hips with no top on, but no one seemed to pay it any mind. It was an interesting experience and anything, but creepy.
Sex is a commodity in this artificial world that we've created, but in a natural world where it's no harder to acquire than an apple on a tree -no pun intended, it loses much of it's power over us. I know we don't live in that world and probaly never will again, but it's still good to remind ourselves that it wasn't orignally intended to be leveraged against us. I'm someone who didn't grow up with a lot of affection from either of my parents. I've definitely paid my dues later in life in the heartache category for trusting the wrong type of girls with my heart as a result, but I'm not complaining. It is what it is. It's probably why I've always loved animals especially big ones like large breed dogs, horses, livestock, etc. I even worked with tigers one year. And, it's probably why animals trust me. I think we all need physical contact. How we go about getting it and what form it comes in is key to how healthy and happy we are. As crazy it seems, cutting through all the social taboos and mores the strip joint provided one fairly healthy version of this for me. There were none of the usual head games that women and men play. It was straightforward and honest, actually. She got so money and I got to be reminded of what it feels like to be human, for a few minutes, and then on with our lives we went. Do I think this would ever happen, again, if I went to another one? Probably not. I guess I just got lucky, but not how one usually does in a place like that. Do I worry about her a little? Yes. She seemed like a pretty happy-go-lucky young lady, but I imagine working in a place like that can take its toll on a person. She said she'd been there 4 years which was surprising. For men, there's always the temptation to want to play the hero and rescue a pretty girl from that life, but she didn't seem like she needed rescuing. We all do sometimes. She probably makes more money than I do. I wish her the best and I'll say a prayer for her.
December 13, 2017, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I'm f*cked. It's so loud and smokey in here that I can't think or breathe. I had to move off the porch because that was getting ridiculous trying to stay warm and function especially in the mornings during the winter time, but this is just as absurd. I wear ear plugs with a little blue tooth speaker cranking mellow music on a shelf by my chair downstairs to try to drown out the television upstairs while wearing a respirator like the kind you get at a hardware store to prevent inhaling too much cigarette smoke. Sorry, I like my ears and my lungs the way they are. I don't mind walking through a smokey room or even hanging out a bar where people are allowed to smoke, but I can't breathe it in all day long. He smokes at night in bed, too. I'll wake up in the middle of the night and have to put on the respirator because it's so bad. I take the respirator off when I go upstairs because I don't want to embarrass him or make him feel bad, but this is insane. When I was working everyday, it wasn't as much of an issue, but the bad weather's here and the lobsters aren't so we haven't worked once this week and aren't planning to until Fri. It's Wed so I got a job at UPS, today, riding along in their trucks delivering packages for the holiday season. The pay is disgusting, but hopefully I'll get a lot of hours and earn some overtime to make it salvageable. I'm, also, praying I'll get the semblance of a work-out. They said it's very hard physical work, but I have a feeling their definition and mine are a little different.
I know I'm close. Joy and laughter still spill out of me regularly everyday despite how tortuous some moments are temporarily. I've got to get the book finished. I just need a place to collect my thoughts and be warm. I had to slow down the progress on the yurt build when worked slowed down because I was spending more money on lumber than I was making fishing. It has slowed down a lot. It was awesome for a while there and I'm really going to miss being on the ocean. I loved it. I told him that I'll still work on the weekends if I keep the UPS gig until all his gear is out. The season's just about over. They passed a law in Mass a few years ago that all the lobsterman must have all their traps out of the water by the end of January and can't go back in until May 1st. That was quite a blow to the industry. It's one of the last jobs out there where a guy (or girl) can make decent money for working hard. Well, this is what I get for trying to do the impossible.
December 14, 2017, North River, Massachusetts
Strippers and the f-bomb. What is this blog coming to? I've been using the word "energy" a lot lately. I'm not sure where we're at as a culture regarding it's mainstream use in this way, but I started quietly viewing the world in terms of energy decades ago. I've just held off using it outwardly because I avoid touchy-feely vernacular like the plague. Whatever, I'm old school Irish Catholic, minus the religious undertones. I'm parked up river this morning by the bridge that I used to jump off of as a kid. Ok, I jumped off it this summer, too. I was on my way to UPS this morning because I hadn't heard from them yet so I decided to show up and make something happen. After orientation yesterday they recommended that we call our dispatcher so he/she could assign us to a route for today, but I called twice yesterday and didn't get through and when I did the guy was gone for the day. When I called this morning, he wasn't available, but I was, at least, able to leave my name and number. I'm kicking myself because I should have insisted on giving it to someone, yesterday, and I'd probably be working today. But, there's a very good reason why I wasn't super eager after I got out of the orientation. I'm someone who has travelled the world solo and can find work anywhere. I found work in Amsterdam in less than 24hrs of arriving after realizing it would be a good idea to replenish my funds. There is a universal code to work that I have learned and a big part of that code is based on the trust between the person doing the work and the person who they're doing the work for. UPS did not start off on the right foot when I went in for my interview, yesterday.
It went down like this: I found the ad, checked the job description and pay which said "Competitive", it was UPS so I figured it'd be reasonable, clicked on the link, filled out the job application online which took about an hour and half, submitted it, scheduled an interview, went in for the interview the next morning and that's when I found out that it payed $11/hr. My trust was damaged. Their use of the terms "Competitive Pay" in my opinion was deceitful because they know many people would not go to the trouble of filling out the application let alone coming in for an interview if they knew what the pay was. Most ads just state what the pay is. I do not like being tricked, but it works because by then the person has already invested a reasonable amount of time and energy towards the position based on their belief that UPS is a reputable company trusting that when they say "Competitive Pay" they mean it which turned out to be not the case at all. If $11/hr is competitive, what is non-competitive pay? Is that when I pay them to work there? This was a dirty trick. I sat there in their office shocked and quickly thought to myself "Ok, it's the holiday season and they're basically hiring anyone with a pulse because they're so busy, but if they pay overtime (which I found out that they did) and can give me a lot of hours like over ten a day then I can justify it because I'm not lobstering and a hundred bucks a day is better than nothing if I can keep it going for the next 9 days" which is when the temporary position ends on Christmas so I didn't stand up and walk out. I proably should have, but their trick worked so I wanted to have something to show for my effort rather than start over somewhere else, but I wasn't exactly thrilled.
The dispatcher called me this morning as I was driving to their headquarters and told me that they didn't have anything for me, today. Well, they probably would have, but he had already finished the assignments this morning which is which why I got mad at myself for not insisting on speaking with someone yesterday afternoon. Normally, I would have if it was a job that I was excited about. Little extra efforts like that are what have always separated me from the average worker at any job which is how I've survived all these years living like I do, but after their corporate fast one I was a little unenthused. Now, I'm out of work for the day and it's supposed to be calm on the ocean, tomorrow, so I could go lobstering which is when they want me to come in meaning I'm going to have to disappoint someone something I hate doing. Why should I worry about either, my lobsterman buddy or UPS? They both make a heck of a lot more than I do. This is how our economic system wears down our spirits. Wah. Alright, enough of that.
So what triggers my joy? That's a good question for me to ask. It seems to show up regularly and randomly, but maybe not. I've never really tried to pin-point it. Maybe because I've never experienced it consistently enough. I've definitely over-analyzed everything else about life. Why not something good? I think this is going to be pretty easy actually. Last time I felt it was a couple of hours ago and all that made it pop out of me was.... Wait, I'm not even going to try to think my way through it and draw any conclusions yet. I'll just describe the circumstances. If my hard times are purely circumstantial and this happy joyful dork is just waiting to appear from within and remain indefinitely then all that probably happened is I felt a little relief from things. It was around 3 o'clock. I had driven home from the river after making a list of things I thought I could do around the house to help my living situation be more bearable. When I got "home", I bundled up in work clothes and went around back and cleared out all the brush and debris from along the back of the house to determine where the hose attached to the pump that my father has installed at the back door pumps water to. It seemed to run along the whole house and end at the corner of the garage which is a good spot because there is a drain pipe buried there. He had told me that the hose was only about ten feet long which would have not been good because all the water that it pumped out of the back staircase would quickly find its way back to where it just left, over and over. But, apparently this is not the case. I'd have to ask him for sure when he got home from his daily trip to the local bar.
Anyways moved on from that. Went inside. Did a little writing downstairs still in all my work clothes and jacket because it's freezing in the house. Realized I hadn't eaten all day (I do that a lot) and that it's probably a little warmer upstairs so I went up to the kitchen and began to cook up some eggs. As the pan was warming, I walked out to the living room and that's when it hit me. I just started laughing and giggling, even danced around a little. What caused it? I donno. The anticipation of eggs? Having it be a little warmer upstairs, my father not being home, knowing that for the next few minutes I had something to do -eat or maybe it was a combination of it all. Who knows. There's been plenty of other times so I'll go back and evaluate them, too. My father came home before I got to eat the eggs and I tried to talk to him about the hose in the backyard, but got nowhere. He said he'd look at it tomorrow which is what he says about everything and usually never does it. "Usually never" -that's real accurate. He couldn't be bothered. He's got a strict schedule and not a lot of time to waste. He had Judge Judy to watch. Whatever, I went downstairs and ate my eggs then went back up to clean up the kitchen and do the dishes. I thought about trying to join him and watch some tv. He skips around a lot. Couple minutes here, a couple minutes there between a few different shows. He had stopped on some traveling bidding show where two guys go around buying stuff from random people by making offers on whatever it is. They were trying to get an old Cadillac running and I like old cars and I'm a pretty good mechanic so I walked out of the kitchen watched it with him for a minute. They got it running with a battery charger and by scratching up the points and contacts in the distributor cap. Pretty basic stuff. I couldn't bare the rest of the show. He changed the station anyways. I had nothing to work with so I retreated downstairs, but my spirits were still up, got under my sleeping bag with all my clothes on. I'd like to go out to a meeting or find something social to do, but I haven't got any sleep the last couple nights because he's been doing some marathon late night tv watching downstairs rather than up in his bedroom lately. I'm going to ask him to turn it down a little, tonight, because I want to get up extra early before work, which ever it ends up being, and go to yoga. Ahhh, what a life. Livin the dream!
December 15, 2017, North River, Massachusetts
I think I might need to make a change. As open-minded and ambitious as I am, maybe I'm a little too naive. It's a deliberate choice to be this way because growing cynical and negative begets itself, but, at the same time, I should treat myself as good as I treat others and trying to do too much puts me in situation where I suffer. I've been up since 3:45 unable to fall asleep because I'm constantly thinking about my survival and how I'm going to pull things off not to mention that I'm about to start working for a company that basically lied to me. I googled it and minimum wage in Mass is $11/hr. Minimum is not competitive, but this is exactly my point. Who cares? My mind fixates on petty stuff like this because once a person spends too much time alone their mind runs out of positive productive things to think about and starts needlessly rehashing everything. Some people are afraid to spend minutes alone. I've spent weeks even in a crowded place like this. This is why meditation is such a helpful activity. It helps train our minds to be still, but some healthy time alone to meditate 20 to 30 minutes a day is not the same as a condemned life of solitary confinement. The fact that I haven't worked hard all week so I'm not physically tired probably has something to do with it, too.
I'm supposed to work, today. UPS called this morning a little after 8. They were supposed to call between 7-8 and I was this close to calling my buddy to see if he'd left the harbor yet when they called. Honestly, I don't want to work for either of them. The money would be better for the day lobstering, but then we wouldn't work, again, until sometime next week probably. My buddy's a nice guy when were not working, but he's not a happy camper most of the day when we're out there and it's worn me down being stuck on the boat with him. The unfortunate case with a lot of unhappy people is that with a little effort things could be a lot better, but they're so convinced that it's hopeless that getting them to try anything new is exhausting. I tried over and over for the first few months. I thought about getting/building a walk-in cooler so we could buy bait ahead of time and store it rather than be at the mercy of the bait trucks. We've missed a lot of days this season simply because we didn't have any bait to fish with. Guys who are serious have walk-ins. I've bought him little tools and parts for the boat to make the day go smoother, but I almost think it pisses him off more than it helps despite how subtle and benevolent I try to be. He, also, doesn't like to repair his traps. If there's a whole in one of them, he'll grab an empty gatorade bottle and stuff it in the trap and call it good. It's almost embarrassing. Every time I've tried to encourage him about something he quickly shoots it down. It's not what he says, but how he says it with such disdain. Most of the time what he says makes complete sense. He definitely has more experience in what we do specific to how he fishes, but logic only goes so far then comes faith.
If a person wears a raincoat everyday, eventually one day it will rain and they'll be able to say "See, I told you!" and they will be absolutely right. It's not that they're right about it raining that is unhealthy. It's that they're using an actual fact to justify their unhappiness. The mind is a tricky thing if you get trapped in it so I just got tired of having that negativity directed towards me. I've definitely got more life experience, not to sound boastful, and it's best if I don't subject myself to that kind of energy all day long....or live with it. It's gotten to the point that we're just two guys on a boat in the middle of the ocean completely unconnected. There's no bitterness or resentment. At least, I don't think there is. We just go about our work only interacting when we have to. It just seems a shame, but I'm done trying to make people talk, try or care. He had a good season with me and did quite well, even bought some new gear, so I'm glad for him. I just can't be around someone who's unhappy yet won't admit it for such long periods of time. When a person finds themselves in this type of situation they can either get used to it and gradually give up themselves or make a change. I never want to get used to it. I've come too far and learned too much. I want grow, share and succeed.
I'm supposed to meet the UPS truck around 10. They're going to call me so I drove over to the river to warm up in my truck and clear my head. It was 49 in the house, upstairs. My plan was to get the yurt done and move into it so I could be close by and check in on my father. The problem is no one who cares about me knows I'm living like this. If I knew someone who was, I'd be like "Dude, what the eff are you doing?! You can't live like that" but for some reason in the past I haven't said this to myself. Unfortunately, we all seem to have this "out of sight, out of mind" policy towards the world. It's basically the only way most can make it through the day. There's just too much craziness in the world for one person to take on while still taking care of their day to day responsibilities so friends, extended family and everything else often fall by the wayside. I fell by the wayside a long time ago, but never started my own family like everyone else because I didn't want to have to resort to this, too. No offense to anyone. I just saw how life would play out and new it would be harder to be part of the solution or even find one if I was too busy taking care of my family while keeping my soul intact. Luckily, I'm a freak of nature and still have a shot, but I've got to start taking better care of myself....while keeping my soul intact.
December 19, 2017, Scituate, Massachusetts
Back do the drawing board. Bagged the UPS thing. I gave them three days before making a decision based on their assertion that I would get full time hours and a lot of overtime. I got no hours the first day and like the dork that I am I got down on myself as if it was my fault, but it was because they weren't organized enough to use me. The second day I only got 6hrs so I agreed to work on Sat. and, again, only got 6hrs. If I wanted to work for them long term I would have sucked it up with humility and continued to work for nothing to win them over. Each driver I worked with was impressed with me. The first one was a supervisor covering for a guy that had taken the day off and he was adamant about giving me a recommendation as a full time driver wishing I'd come in a week earlier so they could've trained me in time, but encouraged me to come back when they were hiring. We won't get into how they treat their packages. Let's just say, I won't be using them to ship anything fragile. I lobstered on Sun. and thought about my options then texted my supervisor (that's how he had been communicating with me) who I never met in person that I was going to pass on continuing to work for them, but wished him well and a happy holiday. He never responded.
Headed to the library this morning to write up some cover letters. I've always known that I should just work for myself. I've got everything it takes, but I've seen it happen too many times where an ambitious, hard-working guy like me goes out on his own, but gradually has to cut corners and compromise quality just to keep his business afloat because it's all on his shoulders. It gradually changes him and he/she grows a little jaded or cynical. It's not really his or her fault. It's just the nature of business. I'm not on this planet to be a business person. It holds no values of interest to me. What I'm trying to do is just as hard as starting my own company, but protects my conscience, spirit, soul, whatever you want to call it. I just need to remember and remind myself that I'm trying to do the impossible! People need people. All people do. I've been trying to do the impossible all by myself all these years, suffering from loneliness a lot of the time. I've had no family support. Family is supposed to help us get to where we're trying to get instead of being those we're trying to help once we make it to where we're trying get. I'm not complaining, mad or resentful. It is what it is. There's people all over the world that have it a lot worse. It's important to understand that situations vary endlessly, but how a person chooses to deal with their reality is universal. It's not the life that we are born into that dictates who we are, but rather how we choose to live no matter what the situation. I just can't forget this so I don't beat myself up like I used to. I'm too happy of a person, now, to ever want to go back to that.
December 20, 2017, Damon's Point, Massachusetts
I drove down to the nearest UPS headquarters this morning to drop off my jacket and hat. It seemed a little silly to drive there when a UPS truck, probably the one I worked on, will drive past my house sometime, today, but dropping it off myself was simpler. Met the guy who was my supervisor/dispatcher at the front desk. He seemed nice. When I got back to the house, I couldn't even sit there for a few minutes. I had to leave. I cleaned the windows the other day and put up some Christmas lights and decorations which liven the place up a little, but it's still too depressing to be there. The situation just sucks the life out of me. I need to regroup and make a plan, but I can't do it there. It's unfortunate, but if I don't feel comfortable or welcome in the house that I spent my entire childhood in then it's obvious why I haven't been able to do what I hoped to do by coming back here. If I have to drive out and park by the ocean just to think and clear my head then no wonder I've felt alone in the world all these years. Wah. Whatever, I'm not complaining. I'm just trying to understand why I've lived the way I've lived because it's official. I'm in trouble. I've had this ball of anxiety growing in my stomach for the past few days that I can't get rid of.
I know I've chosen a difficult road in life, but I don't regret it. I love it and I love who it's made me, finally, but I'm still human. I know it wouldn't take much to get me out of this funk, but I haven't been able to do it by myself, not without hitting the road. I went to a meeting the last couple nights and tried, but didn't meet anyone. People are so darn unfriendly around here. I've seriously thought about leaving, but I can't bring myself to. I can't quit on my father even though he probably wants me to. He's miserable. Trapped in his own mind (like I am, at the moment -but, I want to get out!). I can't leave him to live out the rest of his life like this, but, at the same time, it's killing me.
Dropped off my resume and cover lettered at an old feed store not far from my house, yesterday. Places like that don't pay much, but they're down to earth and I'd get a good work out. I've got other ways to make money up my sleeves that I can supplement my income with like the camping equipment I've been designing for years. I just need a little real work that's stable and steady to build on. They weren't looking for help, but I just wanted to give them my info in case they ever were. All I did when I walked out of the place was kick myself about all the things I didn't mention to the owner as we were talking. He seemed like he wanted to talk more, but I wrapped it up prematurely because I was nervous. What the heck was I nervous about?! It's not in my nature to get nervous and I hate it. I pulled over in a parking lot at the mall in Hanover on my way to a farm where I was going to drop off another resume and continued to beat myself up. This needs to stop. I just want to head south for the winter or west for good, but I can't bear to leave my father alone as much as my disgust for the situation is beginning to grow. I need to do something though. This isn't working. I went to the library yesterday morning and tried to outline a plan.
My situation and how to improve it:
I need, at least, one thing that is stable and consistent in my life. For example:
-a place to live (I presently have a place to sleep, a chair downstairs, but it is not a stable or healthy environment)
-a regular work-out (I can find any decent paying job, but if I take one of them I will soon be out of shape. I will not be a lab rat)
-people to interact with (I tried volunteering at the local Boys and Girls Club, but they are fully staffed and don't need any help which is a good thing. This particular B&G Club is more of a business/after school daycare geared towards all the affluent families of the town than a place where less fortunate kids can go)
-at least, a little money coming in
starting my own business delivering hay, feed
resurrecting my old start-up, Local Labor
a local compost program (like the one at 2 hillside road, gloucester)
farm/business in Norwell, feed store in Pembroke
All this stuff is helpful and something good could come from it, but most of all I need to take the isolation out of my life. Everything else will take care of itself. All I need is a little consistent interaction once in a while. Seems simple.
I'm considering not leaving for good, but getting away for a couple days maybe even moving someplace not too far from here. There is a feed store in Maine where I'm friends with the owners. Maybe I should move up there if they could use me and come down here once a month. I've looked at a few farm jobs that come with housing that are in other parts of Mass. Maybe I should apply to one of them. If the yurt was done or even close to completion I don't think I'd need to leave, but, right now, with the way things are I shouldn't be staying there. I just took a break and drove over to grab some lunch because I knew my father would be at a bar somewhere this time of day, but left as soon as I finished eating. He was pulling in the driveway. We passed on the staircase. His "Hello" had a little more energy than usual, but that's just because he's been drinking. His b.o. is pretty bad. I don't have the heart to tell him to take a shower, not with my own spirits being so low at the moment. I'm concerned it would sound too much like a put down. I will address that in many other things when I get myself into a better situation.
I'm lucky it's been a mild winter. Parked down by the river, now, the sun is keeping the cab of my truck nice and warm. I've got food in my belly and time to make a plan. As dysfunctional as working with my high school schoolmate became, I'm really going to miss lobstering and being on the water, even in the winter, plus getting an awesome work out and making some decent money. It was so nice to get out of work, feeling healthy and alive with a few bucks in my pocket to spend on food without worrying about how much. It was the best....as smelly and dirty as I was. I keep a bar of soap and a change of clothes in my truck. I'm thinking about grabbing a canoe or kayak and going camping for Christmas. It'd be a little lonely, but still very enjoyable to be out in nature. I haven't done anything like this in a while. Haven't been on the river once since I got back. Been too busy trying to get my bearings. I just finished saying that I need to eliminate the isolation in my life and, now, I'm thinking about disappearing alone in the wilderness for a few days. What an idiot. It would be fun and a guranteed good time, but I shouldn't give up on trying to being around people, yet. I'm just tired of feeling like a third wheel orphan. I know my aunt and uncle would be happy to have me at their house. My uncle called me last night. I haven't stopped in up there in a couple weeks so he was checking on me. I felt bad. I found out that he just had shoulder surgery (he's a carpenter). I would have gone up to see him. I pulled over and we talked for a few minutes. Nothing too deep, but it was still fun for a few minutes. He doesn't get me (who does?!), but has still always made sure I know that I have a place to crash at his house if I ever needed it. I'd like to try and stop by on Christmas eve to see him, my aunt, cousins and their better halves. I'd, also, like to try to stop by and see my cousins on my father's side of the family, too. I know he hasn't seen or talked to any of them in years, but I shouldn't hang around for five days just out of obligation if I'm going to be hanging on by a thread alone the whole time.
December 21, 2017, North River, Massachusetts
Alright so, what am I doing and why am I writing about it? The plan has always been to find a way, the way, someway to a better place. I'd almost go so far as to say that I set out to live the perfect life. Perfect not in a superficial way, but perfect in the sense that if a person followed this path that I hoped to eventually find they would never have to compromise who they are as a person or their sense of right and wrong. Perfect to me was living according to the natural way we were intended to live being products of this beautiful and natural world. I didn't and don't want anyone to have to go through what I've been through to find this way. The purpose of blazing a trail for others to follow is to find the best possible way which in turn requires the person blazing it to try many more difficult paths first, if they survive them. I firmly believe that I didn't have to go through much of what I did, but it is what it is and other options just weren't available to me or I couldn't see them, yet. A map with just one line drawn on it to follow with a few landmarks along the way requires the person reading it to have a lot of trust in the person who made it. A map that details every possible feature of the land may be more informative, but if no course is outlined then what is it's purpose? I guess this type of map would be no different than a photograph so in a time when we have gone photo crazy beauty truly is found in the eyes of the beholder. Simply put, you have to know the truth in order to look for it. The book will be a map and I've tried to make it as detailed as possible weading out as many lies and leaving as much truth as possible for a person to apply to their own life and journey.
Why do I write here? The major reason is, sorry, not for entertainment purposes, but because I have to. It is my journal, my drawing board, my only confidant. I think we all need one. A person or many people would be better, but in the meantime, I'd go crazy or be forced to give up if I let all my thoughts, feelings and experiences pile up and fester inside me. I write to be free. It's a way to be here, present in the moment, not trapped in my head by everything in it.
Earlier this morning:
Drove up to Maine, stuck a Christmas card in the door of the feed store my friends own and then drove back last night. I was planning on showing them my appreciation in some way. I just hadn't decided how. I thought I might bring them some lobsters (not sure if they like them) or something like that, but I haven't been up to Maine much since being back so I wanted to, at least, do something before the holiday passed. I still might go camping. We'll see. I've know them a long time and over the years they've always invited me to their holiday work parties if they knew I was in the area even when I wasn't working for them which has meant a lot to me. I don't know if they've ever gotten around to getting married, but they've been like a husband and wife team for close to 20yrs. They're country. Yes, I do have ulterior motives for getting in touch with them regarding work and this is not a very direct way to do it, but that's how I've learned to communicate with them. I used to just pick up the phone or stop by and tell him that I was back in town to see if they could use me, but over the years I stopped doing this and wrote him a letter instead. I did stop by to say "Hi" when I first arrived this summer, but I have come and gone so many times leaving on some new adventure each time that I wanted to convey that I didn't take them for granted. I know they were/are trying to run a business and have made it clear to me that I was one of their best drivers so me leaving after a year or so wasn't exactly helpful to their efforts though to their credit the never once voiced any such concern. Anyways, I've just tried to be more considerate about it. I'll admit that it's, also, safer for me this way, too. The fear of rejection hangs over me a little more than it used to as it's become clearer just how on my own I am, especially seeing as hitting the road is no longer an option which has always been sort of a cure-all for everything, right or wrong. Whatever, it was a nice gesture to give them a card, regardless of anything else.
I thought about taking the train up then ubering it, or walking, the rest of the way, but it was actually cheaper and a lot quicker to just drive. I prefer a midnight run when there's no traffic anyways. It wasn't late when I left so I looked on craigslist rideshare as I was leaving to see if there was anyone needing a ride from Boston to Maine, but there wasn't. That site has become a little sketchy anyways so it's not as cool as it used to be. I just thought it would be nice to find someone who could benefit from a ride seeing as I was already going that way.
Driving, or walking, long distances is a good way to clear my head so that was a plus. Definitely still have the giggles which is a testament to the fact that this joy I've found is here to stay despite how my father's situation is weighing on me. Heard from my buddy. Looks like I'm back on the ocean tomorrow which will be nice. Hopefully, it won't be too stormy. I got back around 3:30am so I slept in a little this morning. I'm usually up and out of the house first thing regardless if I have a plan. Pops must be thirsty. He headed to the bar before noon, today. Maybe I'll go drop off my resume at the farm in Norwell, later. Ugh. I should sit down at some point, today, and throw everything that's on my mind's canvas down on paper with the recent clarity of being away from this situation all night has afforded me. There actually is a method to all this madness.
December 26, 2017, Brant Rock, Massachusetts
Survived the holidays. It could have been a very lonely depressing few days, but I rose to the occasion and sought out a place(s) to go rather than go camping which would have been fun, too. The key was to not feel like a 3rd wheel orphan. I ended up seeing my dad's side of the family on Christmas eve. Of course, he didn't go then spent Christmas morning with him and spent Christmas night with one of my cousins then my aunt and uncle on my mother's side. I am king of the pop-in seeing as it's the only way I ever see people, wah. Did a few errands this afternoon, researched some truck driving schools and, now, I'm parked by the sea wall waiting for my pizza at the Venus. I'm a little apprehensive about enrolling in truck driving school because it costs 5G's and though I'm sure it would be good for me to get my CDL so I could get higher paying driving jobs seeing as I've already driven everything there is to drive except an 18 wheeler. It's just a lot of time and money to invest when, if everything goes well, I won't really need it in six months. All I really need is a little security that comes from having any type of job that I can tolerate. This tiny bit of security is all I need to keep me moving forward with getting the yurt finished. It was going great until lobstering slowed way down. Then I'll have a quiet place to sit down and write. Once the book is finished it could be a brand new world, but even if nothing comes from it, I'll have a new found freedom of the accomplishment knowing I've put this chapter behind me, no pun intended. I know things are going to get exponentially better. I can feel it. I'm so ready (and happy!), but part of me feels like I need to climb this final mountain first and plant a big fat cherry on top of it in the form of a book that might make sense and be of use to others someday. Yes, it could all be deluded visions of grandeur, but I've earned that right to fail embarrassingly from all the miles and hardships I've endured alone. Yes, I'm building a home so I have a place to write a book which sounds pretty crazy, but people have done a lot crazier things to achieve their dreams.
I still need to finish editing the documentary on local farming, but, again, I need a place to sit down in peace and quiet to work. The cigarette smoke and blaring television are just too much to ignore. By spring, there will be plenty of farming jobs available which is why I'm reluctant to spend over a month of time and five thousand dollars, now, on truck driving school. I figured writing about the decision would help me clear my head a little so that's what I'm doing.
December 27, 2017, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Woke up in the middle of the night with my throat a little soar which isn't surprising this time of year, but then I realized that my father was awake upstairs smoking and watching television. Put on my respirator (and ear plugs) and went back to sleep. I haven't been sleeping with it on. It's not exactly comfortable, but I guess I should. I got an email from my friends who own the feed store in Maine, this morning, thanking me for the card. They haven't had their holiday party, yet, and invited me to come. I'm not sure if I should go. I know they were just being polite even though I jokingly made the point that I wasn't soliciting more invites when I dropped off the card. She said they were already planning on inviting me which is nice, but I haven't worked for them in 3 years and that was only one day a week for the summer. I already had a full-time job at the time and was just helping them out on the weekends. I call them my friends, but really they're just nice people that I've worked for a lot over the years and it's turned into a friendly acquaintance which is great, but outside of working together we don't really know each other. There's nothing wrong with this. It just means that I have to be somewhat strategic about how I handle it which I hate doing. I'd much rather just be completely open and honest which really isn't customary in most workplaces, but maybe in this case because I have known them so long I should just lay my cards on the table. Best case scenario, I buy a camper, park it on their land somewhere and go to work. They have enough property that I'd never be in the way or be even seen if I didn't want to be. I'd love that. Worse case scenario, they can't use me and I keep trying to piece a life together down here.
If I left, I'd miss being able to see my friends, cousins and my aunt and uncle, but the truth is I don't see them much as it is. I'm very much on my own down here. I have to leave the house just to think. In the past, when I've found myself in a position where I'm having a hard time making a decision, my approach has been to make a list of all my fears around the decision and then face each of them regardless of what I decide. This always creates a lot more clarity not to mention making me a freer person. I guess the only real fear I have is that of rejection. I'm afraid of going over to that nice fancy farm in Norwell to drop off my resume. I'm afraid to admit that I want to come back and work at the feed store. And, I'm afraid of disappointing my friends and family if I leave even though I don't see them much. It all stems from being alone in the first place. There's not much I can do about disappointing people. No one can blame a person for trying to find a place to belong, but the other two fears are a no brainer so I'm going to write my friends an email and go by that farm.
Then comes the issue of my father which is the only reason I'm here in the first place. I think the ideal situation would be that I stay close by to keep an eye on things, not 2 1/2hrs away in Maine. I can barely keep the place clean and presentable as it is, not to mention all the repairs it still needs. It'd get a lot worse if I only made it down here a couple times a month plus he'd be alone all the time. I know I'd be a lot happier living in the woods of Maine, but even though my father and I are not close and don't talk at all, I feel better knowing I'm here if he ever needs me. Heaven forbid he ever fell. I helped him the other day by clearing out the pipe that runs underground along the back of the house so the back door would stop flooding and he was very thankful and relieved, but I have no place to live down here until the yurt is finished which is a long way from being done unless I got a house or apartment around here and a high paying job to pay for it selling my soul in the process. This is not an option. Labor jobs are what make me happy and feel like a man. I know the general consensus especially around here is that a man's bank account is what defines his status, but mine is how big his heart is. Selling out, now, would make this whole journey pointless. Well, I guess I should take a drive to Norwell.
North River, Massachusetts
Holy shhhhh....ugar plums!! I'm considering jumping in the river just to chill out. That'd definitely do it. There's giant pieces of ice floating by. Recap:
Walking past the yearling calves, I extended my hand and let one of them lick my arm as I felt the ol'familiar texture of their sandpaper tongues on my skin. Leaving his newly built workshop, the owner and I had a few laughs as my impromptu tour of the farm was just about over. After introducing myself and talking for a few minutes, he basically stopped what he was doing in the office and offered to give me a tour of the place. As each minute passed from the moment I walked in the front door of their little retail shop, I felt like I was hitting the jackpot in slow motion. The nice woman who I initially introduced myself to at the front counter offered to take my resume and cover letter up to the owner's office. A few minutes later, she came back down and told me that if I wanted to I could head upstairs and talk with him directly. It seemed like he wanted to meet me, too. He told me that for a while, now, he'd been looking for someone like me though they hadn't posted any type of help wanted ad partly because he didn't know exactly what to write in the job description because it entailed so many different aspects of running the farm all of which I already have experience in. I tried to hide my excitement and play it cool. Though he owns a very successful operation, a local treasure of the south shore, producing and delivering fresh milk to homes for over 100 years started by his great grandfather, it almost seemed like he was more excited than I was that we'd met. It's a lot for one person to be in charge of especially with all the value added facets of the farm they have like a retail store and making their own ice cream and butter. It sounded like he had a great crew and every staff member I met seemed genuinely happy to be working there which I've learned over the years is rare and a tell tale sign of a good company to work for. We spent a few minutes in the shop with his main mechanic who was putting together a new exhaust for their new ice cream truck that will be hitting the beaches this summer. I wanted to pinch myself so many times. In fact, I still do. He wants me to come back soon and ride along with one of his drivers to familiarize myself with the delivery routes. I could actually be a milkman, haha. How cool would that be? Ok, maybe not to most people, but to me? Yup. Hopefully the crates of milk bottles are real heavy, but it sounds like what he needs is a guy/person who can run the tractors, drive the trucks, handle the livestock, bale the hay and many other things so I shouldn't get my heart set on doing just one thing, right now, if it works out at all. Plus, we still need to talk pay. He seems like a reasonable guy and it's a very nice place so hopefully it will be a reasonable wage. He even mentioned that there will be house available on the farm in the near future if I was interested.
What has become more clear to me is that no matter how talented, intelligent, hard working, etc. a person is making one's way in the world with no support makes it very hard to negotiate and hold your ground when dealing with others who do have support. I've called it the one-legged table scenario. It's just hard keeping your balance when things become top-heavy. Someday hopefully, I'll be able to plant another foot in this world and maybe even have four all together. Ok, cornerstones, not legs. A simple example that most people know is that it's much easier to find a job when you already have one which I sort of do, at the moment, and I've got a little money saved up. I, also, made a list of other job leads that I found online last night, too, so all of this helped, today, to keep me from jumping up and down like an idiot yelling "Can I work here? Can I work here, pleeeeez?! Hire me!" which is honestly how I felt though I appeared cool as a cucumber. Yet, one never knows what working somewhere is really going to be like until the honeymoon's over and you've been there a while and when that moment comes I'll still be carrying the world and my life on a pedestal dreaming of being a table someday, but, right now, my fingers are crossed that they're good, honest, hard working people who just need to find one more like them to add to their team..... and I'm so excited that I'm beside myself. I need to go somewhere or find a way to use up some of this energy. I definitely don't want to go "home".
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.