March 27, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I've been deliberating for weeks, but I guess I know that I should do this because I'm scared to which is a pretty good way to make a decision. Facing our fears is one of the healthiest choices a person can make. It liberates us. Why? Because there are two types of fear and we should only be afraid of one kind. There is the type that shoots through your body if you're walking down a wooded trail and come across a grizzly bear. This is a natural fear and it is a pure, healthy and useful response to the situation. This is part of Mother Nature's design. We're supposed to be afraid of wild things that can eat us.
The other type of fear exists only in our minds. This type of fear is a product of uncontrolled thought. The Mayo Clinic describes fear as "an unpleasant feeling triggered by the perception of danger, real or imagined." Real or imagined. The grizzly bear vs. your thoughts. Which is more of an enemy?
I remember one year working at a private zoo in California. At feeding time, every part of my body would spring into fight or flight mode when I heard the tigers roar only a few feet away from me. Of course, I remained calm and professional. That's what they hired me to be, but my body was screaming "Get the hell out of here!" My mind knew there was a heavy gauged steel fence between me and these giant beautiful beasts, but my body knew that in a state of nature the only time I'd ever be this close to a super predator would be just before it was about to eat me. As modern humans, we like to think of ourselves as separate from the animal kingdom, but the cells of our bodies aren't so pompous and hold instinctual knowledge that is not easily forgotten. Our instincts are still very much alive inside of us. Regardless if we can hear them above the endless chatter of our minds, they are still sending us messages. . The predators taking advantage of the opportunity that we are not listening to our instincts are no longer lions, tigers and bears.
March 29, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Wow, this morning was ruuuuhf. Damn, that may have been the worst yet. It's a shame, too, because I originally woke up in a mediocre mood, which is good for me these days, but I looked at the clock and it was still early so seeing as I was up late writing I decided to try and grab another hour of sleep if I could which I was able to do. But holy moly, that was fucking painful. It's good that I got some more rest, but that extra hour and a half was hell. I was ready to do the deal when I finally woke up. Not good.
I just realized something. For the past ten years or so...actually, wait, it's been longer than that. It's closer to 15. Not long after my mother passed away then a couple months later my best friend died, I woke up from a nap to a state of complete horror. I'd just gotten out of the hospital that morning after a bad accident and tried to go to work. My boss after taking one look at me was like "Go home and get some rest." I was pretty banged up, stitches across my forehead, more in my ear and a broken nose. I felt awful. It turns out I had a concussion, but was so worried about getting a huge medical bill that as soon as I woke up I left the hospital. I've never had health insurance. I've been a free spirit my whole life so going home, for me, was walking across the field where we parked our trucks and cars and climbing into the back of the cargo trailer I had built into a rolling studio apartment/workshop and taking a nap. It was actually a pretty sweet set-up for a clean-cut, hard working vagabond. After sleeping for a couple hours, I woke up to find myself in a mental-emotional state that I had never experienced before. The best way I can explain it was like getting sucked into a black hole far off in outer space completely alone. It was a very lonely and scary feeling. It was summertime so it wasn't as cold as outer space, but every nap I've had since then has been like that.
That's why this morning was so awful. I'm not a doctor, but I think when we nap our minds don't completely fall asleep like in a long night's rest. We often linger in a half-asleep half-awake state, but we don't have our wits about us completely. Whatever, I've given this a lot of thought because I've had to. When you're going through life on your own, having your wits about you is the only thing keeping you from being taken advantage of or from falling through the cracks of society so when you don't have many people in your life to begin with and two of them pass away, you're on your own that much more. For whatever reason, being half asleep makes it that much more worse, like you're completely helpless until you can wake-up all the way and fend for yourself. Finding myself in a rare situation where I was vulnerable and just escaped the "care" of the corrupt medical system made me realize for the first time just how tenuous my situation was with these recent changes in the landscape of my life.
So why am I rambling on about all this? Well, for one reason, it helps me gain perspective so I can make more informed decisions in the future. But, also, because the plan is to leave, tonight, on foot. I'll walk through the night and make it out to the ocean while it's still dark so I don't have to feel the judgmental indifferent stares of this superficial area. I just want to be back out in the country among my kind of people where a person is judged by what kind of person they are, not by what kind of car they drive. I'll walk south along the beach until I reach the harbor where I used to lobster and probably grab some sleep before dawn. Maybe I'll see some old buddies in the morning and say "Good-bye." There's more working class people in that part of town so I feel more comfortable there. Then, I'll make a right turn and head west in search of my bride or my tribe. There's no way I'm waking up here like that, again, not if I can help it. For some reason, it doesn't happen when I'm outdoors. I trust Mother Nature. I don't trust the system that I'm trapped in.
I'm all packed and ready to step out, but I got a text from a buddy this evening asking me to swing by his house in the morning and grab a stack of essays to read through. He's a great guy and put together a scholarship in honor of our best friend who passed away 15 years ago and every year they pick a high school student to receive it. Of course, my buddies always wait til the last minute to drop the entries in my lap so I have to read 30+ essays in one night and pick my top three then we compare picks and make a final decision. I'm very proud and honored to be part of it. My buddy who started the whole thing is a very solid dude and he's been keeping it going all this time while working two jobs and raising a family. I've only been directly involved the past couple years since coming back east to look after my father.
It's after 8pm and raining with thunder and lightning so I guess one more night won't kill me.
April 2, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Spent two days walking in the cold and rain drenched most of the time. Can't say I didn't test the waters, but there's a difference between toughening it out and pointlessly punishing oneself. Plus, something strange is happening in the media and government, right now, so maybe it's not the best time to hit the road when there's so many unanswered questions.
September 4, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
The closest thing I have to a real friend these days is a buddy I made since moving back here who's a firefighter, married with a couple kids which means he has no time for much of anything else, but he grew up around here, too. We go jogging together once in a while. He was a few years behind me in school so we never met back then, but we only live a couple miles from one another, now, so one of us usually swings by the other's house randomly every couple weeks. The wife and kids have been up in NH vacationing with relatives this week, but he came back to re-tile the bathroom in the master bedroom for a couple days so we've been hanging out a little more than usual. He was giving me shit, yesterday, for not dating more being a single guy with a lot of freedom so I reluctantly gave in and created a profile on match, last night, but took it down this morning. I got a few likes and a couple messages, but you have to pay 40 bucks to read them or see who they're from and I couldn't bring myself to pay for it. There are other sites which are free that I could try instead, but it's not really the money thing. I'm just not a fan of the whole idea of meeting women online.
However, the cloud of loneliness unnecessarily bears down on me while an easy remedy seems to exists so, last night, while the rest of the world, as far as I can tell, was off celebrating Labor Day weekend and I remained here to work on my new number one priority, a business venture, I created a profile on the trendiest dating site out there, Bumble. Within a few hours I had received a notification that there were like 50 women interested in getting to know me ranging from very young, college aged, to quite older, late 50's. I'm sure the number of interested men for an attractive woman is twice or three times this amount, but it's still a little overwhelming to go from one extreme to the other with the click of a button. Most were around my age so, now, I sit here, this afternoon, taking a break from framing out the finish molding for the round door I built wondering what I should do next about this virtual social opportunity. I haven't responded to any of the interest, yet. You can pay 2 bucks to see who these ladies are which I did and after glancing over all the profiles there's a handful of them with whom I could probably develop some type of a rapport. I know what I need and it's not a girlfriend. It's not that I wouldn't want one, but when I'm completely alone in the world like I have been for too long I lack the stability that comes from having people in my life to initiate anything with a woman. This is what I need, friends and family, not a romantic relationship. The last thing I want to do is hurt anyone which is what I always end up doing when I start dating a woman, not because I treat them any less then respectful and compassionate, but rather because I'll end the relationship in few months if not sooner and she'll feel rejected and unworthy which is an awful way to make someone feel. I guess a newer, healthier way to go about meeting a woman is to not look at in such an all or nothing way. I can take it slower and not rush into a physical and emotional relationship. I've never been one to rush into that phase, but before long we always find ourselves there. There's no way of knowing whether a relationship is going to work in the beginning and there's no harm and hanging out with a woman a little bit just to spend some time together and see if we enjoy each other's company before it goes further. Duh.
September 6, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I responded to one of the women, meaning I showed an equal interest in her. She lives nearby and she's young. Younger women seem to be more open-minded, easy going and not in a hurry to get serious so it takes the pressure off. I'm not looking for anything serious. The secret is that I'm just looking for friends and I don't mean fwb either, but why would a woman want to hang out with me if we aren't having sex? I sound like a teenage girl trying to make friends with boys the wrong way. She was the only one I picked out of the, now, 100's, mostly because she's local and because I'd prefer to not "talk" to more than one woman at a time. I'm such a romantic sap, more like a lost cause. I never heard from her. The woman has 24hrs to message you or the connection expires so, now, it was getting dark and I was putting my tools away so I stopped for a second and picked another woman. She was closer to my age and seemed outdoorsy and active, but lived a lot further away. A couple hours later when I got out of the shower and was contemplating doing something (it was Sunday of the Labor Day weekend so more like a Saturday) other than staying in and writing or watching a movie I still hadn't heard from her so I picked a couple more. This made me very nervous.
I went from not even having my phone on most of the time to looking at it every ten minutes. This is how the unhealthy trends in our culture reel us in. When I checked, again, to learn that I hadn't gotten a message from any of them either, a new young lady had just showed interest in me a few minutes earlier so I showed interest in her. I thought maybe because people's lives are so busy and attention spans so short responding to someone who was most recently active had better chances of making a connection. It was true. She messaged me. She was a graduate student in Boston, cultured, well-traveled, intelligent, tall. No pics of her in a thong at the beach like most of the young women's profiles which was actually refreshing. She was still very attractive. We exchanged a few lighthearted messages back and forth and then crickets. Whatever. I gave it a shot.
This is where I delete my account and go back to focusing on meeting people the old fashioned way. I'm not on any other forms of social media like fb, twitter, insta, etc. I find them part of a bigger problem that I've spent my life to addressing, at least, on a personal level. My plan has always been to kick butt in real life and everything else will take care of itself which has always worked like a charm, but it's not easy. Then, I'd probably allow myself or someone else to create accounts on these sites for me, now, that I didn't need them. The kick butt approach has been my go-to for years. It's very reliable even for the solo flier that I've been forced to be, but hard. A big part of this formula is deciding to live somewhere that reflects my interests and lifestyle, not the crowded, materialistic, unfriendly south shore. Wah. I've got work to do.
September 9, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I should have kept this "conversation" going for the past couple days because I reverted to an old familiar decision rather than taking time to reconsider other options, i.e. write about it, before deciding to delete my account, but I worked, yesterday, and this got me out of my routine. It happens. A good work ethic is so ingrained in me that it overrides everything else in my life. I probably need to tweak that a little because even though a great work ethic is a very valuable trait to have, putting everything, and I mean everything, else in your life on the back burner isn't. The whole pattern stems from survival living a solitary life. If I didn't have a job, and the highest standing at my job, I didn't have anything. A job was all I had...aside from all my secret goals and dreams that I'll never give up on.
Anyways, I hopped on the ocean for the day, yesterday, to get some lobsters for the owner of the farm I used to work at because he was so generous in giving me a bunch of salsa and watermelon the other day when I stopped by to visit. Yesterday was a beautiful Indian summer day in the 80s and barely a ripple on the water. My buddy, the lobsterman, had his best day of the entire season because we hauled so many traps. I had offered to go for free in exchange for a few lobsters because I miss the work-out and being on the ocean, but he insisted on paying me. Got home, grabbed a shower and relaxed in my cozy round cocoon basking in the healthy kind of tired you get from a hard days work plus, of course, a sizable dose of social interaction for the day. I love my cabin.
September 11, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Rather than harp on how much more I could be accomplishing if I had just one person in my life, friend, sibling, parent or significant other, I've concluded that the wisest view of my situation is one of a long, lonely and arduous journey. Accept it and get used to it. My pace and progress will be whatever it will be. I need to stop judging myself about this just because I know how productive I am capable of being under different circumstances. I'm not under those circumstances. I'm under these. If I can just accomplish what I need to before my resources run out, I will have changed my circumstances. How many people can say that?
Friday, September 18, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Today wasn't a very productive day, unfortunately. I got a few things done, but not as much as I should have (I really need to start taking my own advice -see above entry;). This evening, I made a list and got organized to have a better day, tomorrow. I'm on the home stretch in getting the cabin completed, but as any builder knows framing and sheathing even though it takes more muscle often goes a lot quicker than finish work and small tedious design challenges which is the phase I'm in, at the moment. The molding for the curved door I finished, today, came out great though. The interior is 90% done, now, and the exterior siding and roofing will go quick once I prep and source the materials. Of course, loneliness was my culprit, today. Plus, I got mentally side-tracked earlier this week by trying to meet new people rather than sticking to my less exciting yet more productive approach of temporarily blocking out the world and focusing only on what I need to do in order to accomplish the task at hand. I'm only human and I slipped up a little, but, tomorrow, I'll go back to cold turkey and get'r done. Fall is closing in fast and I need to get this one sold and then build, at least, one more before winter. Not sure where I'm going to sleep in the meantime.
My other enemy is energy, but surprisingly it's the abundance of energy, not the lack of it, that makes things hard for me. Because I'm doing time-consuming monotonous work that requires little strength I'm simply not getting enough exercise and all this extra energy becomes mental energy, specifically, negative mental energy when I spend so much time alone which manifests itself in beating myself up all day. Wah.
I spent a couple hours in my father's house cleaning, yesterday, while he was out. The kitchen was pretty grose so I feel good about getting that done.
September 19, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I write a lot in my journal, more than I write here. I suppose I write here for a couple of reasons, one being a lame attempt to cultivate some form of surrogate accountability towards myself as if I was actually having a conversation with another human being which might trick me into being loyal to this imaginary person which would assist me in persevering. Admittedly, that's pretty pathetic. Another reason is that if I don't make it, meaning if I die before I achieve what I've set out to achieve, then there will, at least, be a record of what I set out to do (or until my annual domain hosting fee expires). On that note, what am I trying to accomplish? It's so simple, to me, that I often forget to explain it.
Mother Nature, or God, depending on your beliefs, already gave us everything we need to live happy, healthy, prosperous lives. I love feeling strong and fit and the work required to live a natural life perfectly supplies a person with the physical work-out to keep them strong and in shape. Duh. I like eating healthy food and the food produced by living a natural life is perfectly designed to provide a person with every nutrient they need to be as healthy as they can possibly be. Duh. I like being comfortable and the shelters a person can build using natural building practices and resources give them every creature comfort they could ever need. Duh. I love to love. I love people and I love life and having created the foundation of a natural life it affords a person the time and energy to express this love in many forms including care, empathy, generosity, artistic expression, music, dance, laughter, appreciation, the list is endless. These are my goals and I will never give up trying to achieve them. Duh.
October 16, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I'm about halfway done with the construction of a second smaller cabin. I need someplace to stay before I can sell the first cabin hence building a second. I don't have much money left, but I'm adamant about not going to work for anyone else. I've been working for others my whole life to their gain more than my own. I'm using every usable piece of lumber and plywood leftover from the trial and error process of designing then redesigning the first prototype. Where the first cabin took months, the second has taken only days, a benefit from the success of redesigning in the interest of efficiency. The smaller cabin will be much easier to heat which is a concern with winter approaching and I've, also, started on the design of a miniature mason stove to heat it. I continually entertain the thought of selling the smaller cabin, first, resulting from the fact that I can disassemble it quicker and easier then load it into the back of my truck rather than being dependent on a big flatbed trailer which I do not own, yet, to deliver the larger of the two. As out of character it would be and reluctant as I am, I've seriously considered soliciting the help of some of my more financially successful "friends" to purchase a trailer even going so far as to print out a portfolio packet of the entire venture including sketches, blueprints and photos, but I'm not going to make my decision until construction on the second cabin is complete thus giving me a realistic option something I have not had in a very longtime.
October 17, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
The weather this fall is something that I've been very thankful for. It's mildness has allowed me to work outside comfortably everyday for weeks, but it cooled off quickly this evening as it was getting dark. I still can't complain. It wasn't that bad.
I've been listening to a lot of audiobooks lately while I work. I've gone through about 15 books so far. A lot of them are books I've already read and knew I'd enjoy listening to, again. It's not as good as reading them, but it's still somewhat useful as most of them are historical non-fiction so, at least, I'm learning something, or relearning it. The real reason I listen to them is to block out the sounds of living in this impersonal, yuppy neighborhood where no one knows me and no one wants to, not even my father. Unfortunately, I've been here 3 years and he's barely said two words to me. It's a shame. If I was out in the country somewhere, I wouldn't want to block out anything. I'd enjoy listening to the sounds of nature all around me, but here I just feel trapped and worthless. As I persevere everyday, I have to remind myself of why I'm doing this. It's an attempt to come up with a way that can make me enough money to survive while helping me stay in shape. If I succeed, I'll be able to use the positive energy it affords me to bridge gaps between me and my father, my extended family, friends and neighbors. This is why I'm doing it. This is why I've done everything I've tried to do. I believe the way this world pressures us into living only increases fear and selfishness. I want to show people that fear exists more in our heads than in the world and the more we listen to our hearts instead of our heads the more we will realize this, but, first, I have to prove that it works. I have to demonstrate this before I can expect people to believe it.
Everything I believe in has been tested and relied on. If it couldn't be depended on, it was discarded and replaced with something more practical and useful which happened a lot because I started this journey naive and idealistic. We are the product of what we believe in. Our behavior, our mood especially how quickly we become angry or fearful is a direct result of what our lives and beliefs are producing within us. As much as I believe in the values I've come to rely on, I'm still extremely out-numbered and isolated here so all I can do is suck it up and keep trying. No one said it was going to be easy, but if I pull it off the result will be self-evident and undeniable and it won't only benefit just me.
October 18, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
When I talk about loneliness or failed relationships, it's not a pathetic attempt to feel sorry for myself. It's just a useful reminder that it's not normal for me, or anyone, to live isolated from others. Otherwise, I, or anyone experiencing something similar, could make the mistake to conclude that there is something wrong with me that I need to fix or that I made some type of decision to deserve this loneliness. I haven't and neither has anyone else who fights their lonely battle. As much as it hurts, I can't take it personal. Right now, in the woods there are two trees, one is strong and prospering. The other is week and struggling. They are the exact same age and species, but one is doing well and the other isn't through no fault of its own. Neither has ever been seen by a human being, let alone watered or cared for. No one is sitting up at night worrying about them out there in the darkness and cold. One just happened to be planted where it has enough sunlight, soil and rain while the other wasn't.
There are many struggles natural and unnatural happening everyday all over the world. Though we may try to understand the ones that we are aware of through reason, just because we try to understand a problem with reason doesn't mean it was caused by or can be solved by reason, no more than watching an atrocity on the news is somehow going to prevent it. Will is the only thing that can fix some problems and this type of will is a form of energy that is somehow mustered and drawn upon. If more natural conditions existed, the energy necessary for survival would be readily available, but when they don't, it has to come from someplace else. Hopefully, if this source is wise, part of its efforts will be dedicated to creating more natural conditions for the future of its species.
October 20, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I realized, today, that I don't write enough about all the positive results from the path I've taken, the most valuable result being joy. Maybe I've been reluctant to expound on them because I've been on such a grueling leg of my journey for so long, but surprisingly, the loneliness that overshadows my existence doesn't detract from the laughter that occurs many times throughout my day. This is how I know for a fact that it all hasn't been for nothing. Years ago when it might appear that I had more going for myself on the outside than I do, now, I didn't have much going for myself on the inside. I didn't know how to be happy. All I knew was that I had many goals and I guess I believed by achieving these goals, I'd somehow become happy, even though happiness itself wasn't one of them.
Happiness and joy are similar feelings. They are, also, very subjective and thus, to some people, they could be interchangeable or even replaced by synonyms, but I'm going to use and distinguish them from each other by describing joy as something a person experiences and happiness is something that a person creates. I'd almost describe the feeling which I'm calling "joy" as a phenomenon because it happens spontaneously and involuntarily. It literally happens to a person. They do not create it nor can they control it. It's like laughter. When someone says something funny enough to make you laugh, it is almost out of your control. I say "almost" because if you tried hard enough you could probably force yourself not to laugh, but why would anyone want to do that? When someone makes us laugh, we like it. We often naturally like the person, as well, because they "make" us laugh. If we were to analyze laughter, it could, also, be called a phenomenon because like joy it happens to us.
Imagine you are in the middle of a hopeless negative situation and even though you are utterly miserable, somehow a friend still finds a way to make you laugh. Even though your friend may not be able to save you from the circumstances that surround the situation, for a brief few seconds you're still able to laugh and experience a tiny little vacation from it. Something about your friend's sense of humor is able to tap into a part of you that you, yourself, for some reason, cannot access alone and this is where the laughter comes from. Of course, laughter is even more enjoyable when you're not in a miserable situation, but I use this example to demonstrate how powerful joy and laughter is.
What if you actually could access this part of yourself? The joy that I stumbled upon a few years ago was one step closer to being able to do this. I don't know how, when or why, but at some point, tomorrow, when I'm outside working on my next cabin something random is going to happen and I'm going to just start laughing. This never used to happen. My policy towards life was always "suck it up and white-knuckle it." Thanks Mom and Dad. Now, I go around laughing at anything, usually myself, especially when I do something dumb like knock something over or spill something. This sort of thing used to piss me off. Now, I laugh at it, but it's not a choice. It's not a result of some new, touchy-feely, higher consciousness view of life. It just happens. It happens to me. I have no choice in the matter, but I get to experience it. It's friggin awesome.
This has been going on for a few years, now. I can't wait for the rest of my life to not be such a mess because if I can feel this good even just for these short little intervals with the way things are, now, I can't imagine how amazing it's going to be when I'm not in a constant state of fear for my survival or completely alone all day everyday. La dee freakin dah. I've been studying this phenomenon since it started happening and the best theory for what could be causing it is very simple, but it might be hard for most people to agree with. What I realized is that it's our natural state. We're born happy and then taught how to be miserable. I guess, I should only speak for myself. I believe it's my natural state and if you want to discover whether or not it's yours then this might be useful to you.
I'm not going to go into the details about what I did specifically to bring about this natural state, yet. This comes later when I share some basic tools on how to maintain it once you get back to it. Right now, it's crucial to realize that joy is not a result of accomplishments, success or approval. You can't work yourself to joyfulness. You can't do anything. All you have to do is be alive. The only thing you can do to experience more joy is get out of its way. It's no different than when your friend makes you laugh. You didn't do anything other than sit there and let it happen. When I started experiencing joy I was broke, alone and freezing my ass off living out of my truck in Alaska drinking myself to sleep every night (2 or 3 beers for a lightweight like me). Not a very joyful existence. I was experiencing joy despite these circumstances, certainly not because of them. Rather than a relationship you have with a friend, joy happens as a result of the relationship you have with life, not a good life or a bad life. Just life. You've got nothing to do with life. You didn't choose to be born. Life happened to you and so can joy.
Who are the most joyful people you know? Children and animals. Ok, animals aren't people, but you get my point. Alright this is getting long and it's late. I can barely keep my eyes open. I'll write more about this later.
October 25, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
With the fire pit going, I dry stacked a pile of old red bricks to experiment with building a mason stove when out of the corner of my eye a large white object moving among the bushes caught my attention. It was Brandy, my buddy's dog. I was so happy to see her and she ran over when she saw me. Of course, it wasn't a long greeting. She was in a new yard and had many smells to explore. My buddy appeared around the corner of the house and walked over to where I was working. He laughed a little as he checked out my other cabin, the little one, standing in the corner of the back yard which I finished assembling the other day. He liked it and thought for sure they'll sell easy which was nice to hear.
He swung by to borrow my lawnmower which is a basic push mower with a bag (I like the exercise it gives me). He has a riding mower, but it doesn't have a bag and he wants to bag the clippings of his new lawn which he just had seeded a couple weeks ago so it keeps thickening. We shot the shit for a few, he headed home and I went back to playing with blocks.
After I constructed the inner burn chamber, the outer wall and top, I fired up the mason stove and tried a number of different configurations of bricks for the fire box and was eventually pleased with what I came up with. The idea is to create the optimal amount of draft while creating enough space to insert a decent sized piece of wood, relatively speaking. It's going to be a mini-mason stove. Neither of my cabins are very big so I don't need a lot of heat to keep them warm especially with this one's 2x8 insulated walls, but I'm going with a mason stove rather than a traditional wood stove, which have always been my go-to source of heat in the winter, because mason stoves burn much more efficiently using less fuel, in this case, wood. Efficiency is no.1. Fall temperatures are finally here so I'll pick up some mortar and stove pipe tomorrow and build it for real this week. I want it to be portable so I might have to build it in two or three sections. It'll probably be too heavy to move around if I make it in one piece. We'll see. It got dark so I came in a while ago and let it burn out. It's been over an hour, but I just walked back outside and touched the bricks and they are still very hot. Word.
The reason I mentioned my buddy stopping by, other than it being a monumental occurrence in my high-roller lifestyle, is because I've spent a lot of time, years really, wondering about the difference between myself and all my buddies and even a lot of my cousins who though I seem to have a lot in common with, they are very successful, wife, kids, beautiful homes, nice vehicles, boats, etc. and my life is a trainwreck. How could this be? I've never had a drug or drinking problem, no troubles with the law and never been fired. Self-deprecation aside, I'm just as intelligent, capable and hardworking as they are. Why are our lives so different? To be honest, I know the answer to this question. It's only the one thing that I think about all day every day of my life, but, aside from this painful reality, I've wondered about something else, something more subtle and hidden.
In fact, I've wondered if this secret fact applies to the majority of all society. If it were the giant elephant in the room that I simply have never been able to ignore while everyone else has agreed to, what word would be painted on this poor creature's skin? A few come to mind. Ironically, the first is loneliness then fear or insecurity then, not surprisingly, anger. When I first began to suspect that loneliness is something that a lot more people than just myself have trouble with, I thought I might be on to something. Could this really be true? Could they all be a lot more like me than I ever suspected? I thought I had the distinct misfortune of being one of the few lonely bastards of the world roaming from place to place all these years searching for somewhere to belong. I've often referred to the metaphor of the children's game musical chairs to describe the social atmosphere of much of American society which seems to imply that if you don't get married by the time your 29, there must be something wrong with you. I have no idea what the "correct" age is, now, but I know this form of peer pressure still exists for many people. I threw this bs out the window a long time ago using the metaphor against itself claiming that the music I'm listening to doesn't stop so I'm going to just keep on dancing. Kind of a lame rebuttal, but it worked for me...in theory. Being lonely still sucks. But, it's the atmosphere of our society that causes this not the fact that we're not married. Getting married and starting a family to combat this is not a solution.
If we were to oversimplify life into two, and only two, motivating emotions they would be love and fear. Hate is not the opposite of love as a way to live your life. Fear is. Hate is just an extreme version of fear. Granted life is not this simple, but using just these two categories as a gauge it is very useful to determine what is behind most of what we do and why we do it. Love or fear? To simplify this even more, one could ask themself what motivates them to do anything, a positive feeling or a negative one. If our life were a factory, what would it run on and what would it be producing? Positive or negative energy? Obviously, this is only useful to someone who's interested in growing as a person and desires to be the best person they can possibly be. What kind of naive fool wants this? If a person is motivated by fear, they definitely aren't going to be interested in any of this. In fact, how a person reacts to these ideas is one of the easiest ways to determine if a person is motivated by fear because they'll attack it, discourage others from trying it and get very uncomfortable in regards to the subject. Sound familiar? Do you know anyone like this? Tragically, the unhealthiness of the world we've created often uses our love to fuel our fear. It did this to me for a very long time. But, not everyone gives themselves away so easily. The clever ones have learned how to hide how they feel. Some have been doing this for so long that they may not even realize they're doing it.
We, all, have a true nature. It's just the way we are. It's how we were born, but as we grow up we learn either willingly or forcibly to alter our nature in many ways. In some ways this is necessary and beneficial, but in many others it is not. There's a common psychological maxim that states "We are not who we think we are. We are not who others think we are. We are who we think others think we are." This is a little confusing when we, first, hear it, but it makes a very good point.
I could easily ask why no one I know has ever read these words or even knows that I write them, not a buddy, family member or significant other. How could anyone I know not know about the thoughts and feelings I wrestle with daily and write about? I've only been writing about them for more than 20 years. I admit that I don't go around advertising this to anyone who will listen. That's not my nature, but I, also, don't make any attempts to hide the fact either. Yes, this is an anonymous blog, but this is more for logistic reasons than personal. I have nothing to hide personally. I just find it a little weird broadcasting it all for the world to see so I choose anonymity for this reason. These writings would be very easy for anyone to discover if for a few minutes we were to have a real conversation. In truth, sadly, people don't know because they don't want to know just like they don't want anyone to know their own thoughts and feelings. All of it is waiting for them when the music stops.
October 28, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
It's late morning. The rain woke me up before sunrise and I went outside with my headlamp and slippers to make sure all my tools were covered. I was reminded that I need to make a gutter for over the front door of the cabin which I already bought pipe for. The rain likes to splash back and drip under the door getting the floor inside wet which is unacceptable. I confess I am not good about getting little projects like this done. I much prefer big jobs like framing and moving the walls around. I'm eager to build a timber-framed loft and curved staircase for the cabin having decided to live in it for the winter, but I should make a gutter, first. Being up early, it's frustrating to not be able to take advantage of these extra hours and get to work. I'd wake half the neighborhood if I fired up my tools, now, the houses being built too close together here in suburbia, especially with all the new ones that have gone up since I was a boy. I miss Alaska where a person, if they choose, could work at 2am without bothering anyone and even with daylight in the summertime.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I had fallen back asleep when I woke a second time though I can still feel the guilt of my disciplinary mother for having slept in so late though she's no longer with us. Sleep and rest are a good thing and the rain encourages it. I will continue to work on the mason stove, today. The test run went well, but I need to wash the soot off the bricks before mortaring which the rain will help with.
October 29, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Though I've always had the same goal, the same dream, I had a lot to learn about how the world really "worked" (for lack of a better word) and what was going to be required of me in order to achieve this goal. Resorting to sacrificing my values and beliefs in order to accomplish what I set out to was not an option, to me, but as I soon witnessed time and time, again, this was the path many others had chosen in order to achieve theirs thus, in my opinion and theirs as well if they're being honest, nullifying the value of achieving the goal in the first place. The question "How to achieve a pure goal in an impure world?" remained for me to reconcile. This has been the education I've been enrolled in since the day I left school and began life in the real world decades ago. I'm still the same naive kid in a lot of ways having refused to sacrifice the purity of the goal. I'd still rather fail than do this.
I fought with this compromising world year after year and as much as I've sacrificed in the way of personal comfort, safety and security, I still couldn't avoid the harsh reality that as much as I lived on the outskirts of society, I was still forced like everyone else to work in order to make money. Sacrifice as I did minimizing my overhead as much as possible, there was still no getting around this. Yes, living on farms and working on fishing boats allowed me to skirt some of the system and supplement my lifestyle by getting a lot of my food directly from the source. These farms and boats all still operated under the guise of the system that we have contrived which is far from a natural one. I would often declare "The only system I want to work for is an ecosystem." Nevertheless, I was born into and have been dependent on the same man-made one we're all dependent on maybe not as much as most, but that has been of little consolation.
Realizing that being the best employee I can be to whomever I work for was no longer "working" for me, my reluctant task at hand is to contrive a business within this absurdity so that I can support my extremely meager lifestyle while simultaneously and, in a way, secretly -but not by my choosing, laying down the groundwork for what still remains my goal. I am all the wiser, but the world, unfortunately, in the meantime, has become all the more corrupt. Through death and consequence, the personal landscape of my life has become even more barren, but I remain a lone traveler carrying my pack of limited necessities towards my sacred destination.
Well, that all seems a little overly dramatic, but I've been meaning to sit down and remind myself of what it is I've been enduring for...which is really just good company, good food and good music. Sort of.
November 17, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I gave up beer months ago and googled what the healthiest form of alcohol is. They said it was tequila which I've always hated, but if I add a shot to a glass of lemonade or something it's not that bad. I've been using it off and on this fall like a shrink prescribes medication. I've hated the idea of it, but it's representative of the fact that I'm willing to try almost anything to hang in there. Living healthy is way too important to me to allow it to get out of hand. If I pull myself out of this chapter, I'll stop. It's only necessary when I haven't seen or talked to anyone in a few days. The last couple days have been really lonely and I had a bunch of stuff to do, today, to get ready for a new job, tomorrow. If I space the shots out over the course of 3,4,5 hours then they give me just the slightest amount of a buzz to take the pain away which allows me to be more productive. It worked. I got all my stuff done, including taking an outdoor shower in the middle of November, and I'm, now, ready for bed nice and early. The whole point of picking up a part-time job is to hopefully alleviate the isolation. It pays nothing, but hopefully I'll get a decent work out and maybe meet some nice people. I'll be driving a truck for a charity that distributes food to the poor. I'm a little anxious about the schedule. It's M-F, but I should be done around noon everyday. I'd prefer to work 3 full days than 5 half days, but I have to do something. Money is getting tight. I've had plenty of money saved up a few times since coming back east to make a go of working for myself and could have easily pulled it off, but each time I've squandered the opportunity because battling loneliness all day makes me completely unproductive. It's paralyzing.
I'm hoping a little interaction with others will pull me out of this and be enough to leverage myself into getting a lot more done when I'm not at work. My latest business venture still has a lot of potential, not to mention all the other projects I need to get done, so I won't be relying on what little I make at the job for my security. I'm doing it for the momentum it can create and the exercise, if it gives me some. The job description said "must be able to lift 75lbs" so hopefully they meant it.
November 18, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
It's not even 7 o'clock, yet, and I'm already in bed. I got the job. It's a small organization, only a handful of employees and a whole lot of volunteers, but everyone seems really nice. I emailed them last Friday, they called me on Monday to come in, today, and offered me the job before I left. Turns out their present truck driver, the guy who will be training me, was roommates in college with one of my best friends growing up. Small world. When I write about stuff like getting a new job, I'm not bragging. I just have no family or anyone to tell about stuff like this when it happens so I have to talk about it somehow.
I was in bed early last night, but didn't fall asleep until 3 or 4 in the morning. Too restless. When I got home early this afternoon my cabin was freezing. It's finally starting to feel like winter. I couldn't start a fire because the mason stove fell apart on me the other day when I was moving it. I was really happy with how it turned out and it worked awesome. It got so nice and warm in the cabin when I had a fire going with just sticks and kindling that I was amazed at how hot it got. I literally cooked an egg on the granite top. Because it generated so much heat I had to raise it up off the floor and set it up on blocks so it wouldn't burn the place down and when I was moving it, the whole thing just crumbled into pieces. I knew it was a possibility and tried to be careful. I used regular mortar to build it rather than high heat mortar because this stove was just a prototype. I've never used a mason stove let alone designed and built one so I didn't want to spend a lot of money on materials until I knew it was going to work the way I wanted it to. It's actually a rocket mass mason stove. I combined the principles of a rocket mass heater and a traditional Scandinavian brick mason stove. A 60 pound bag of mortar costs about 7 bucks. A bag of high heat costs 60 and I wasn't sure how many bags it was going to take to build the stove. Now, that I know it's going to work awesome, I'll build another one. A better one. I'm going to make it even smaller as well as make some other improvements. In the meantime, I might have to throw a wood stove in the cabin so I'm not freezing my butt off until I finish hence getting under the covers so early this evening. I don't start the job until Monday.
November 21, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
It's been a rough couple days. I ran out of money so I've been stranded. I finally heard from a lady who runs a farm across the river that I did some work for a few weeks ago. She emailed me this afternoon and asked for my address so she could mail me a check. It's only a few hundred dollars, but if I'm frugal it should get me through the next couple weeks before I get my first paycheck. As hard as it's been, one good thing that has come from this latest ordeal. Because I knew I couldn't go anywhere or spend any money on lumber and materials, I was forced me to find some other way to be productive so I started to work on my book. I've been saying I'm going to finish it for years, but until, now, it hasn't taken the shape that I've been wanting it to. I've definitely written enough content over the years and I don't mean here on this blog. This is more like a sketch pad or a journal. I write about a lot of other areas like philosophy, sociology and spirituality, but, until yesterday, I couldn't find the right approach to tie it altogether.
I don't claim to be a writer. I see myself more as a traveler who is ventured into areas of life, both physically and mentally, that not everyone has dared to go. However, sometimes people still find themselves in these places, even though not by choice, and what I've seen, experienced and learned might be of use to them. I don't plan to attach my name to the book and I'm not even sure I'm going to have it published, but I do want to make it available to people. I've got a few other website domains that I'm not really using so I'll probably use one as a platform and then maybe share a link to it on fb or something.
Writing about my past experiences in a useful way for the past couple days has helped me realize that I do matter, or that I could, despite the situation I've found myself in since coming back here. It's the same situation I escaped from decades ago when I, first, left home, but, now, with even less to pull myself out with.
November 27, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Well, starting a new job always leaves in doubt when exactly I'll get paid and unfortunately it's not going to be for three weeks. I definitely never agreed with this practice of only paying employees every other week when businesses started doing this about ten years ago especially if the job doesn't pay much to begin with. The people who need money the most are the ones who don't get paid a lot so this practice is the exact opposite of what these people need. If a person is making six figures or more then fine, only pay them every other week, or once a month, if you want, but a worker making minimum wage, or not much more, shouldn't have to wait two weeks to get paid. They show up everyday and fulfill their side of the working relationship and they should be compensated in a timely fashion. Businesses justify this policy by stating that it's more convenient for them and their bookkeeping to not have to pay their employees every week. So what? The owners and the bookkeepers make a lot more money than the employees. This doesn't give them the right to inconvenience the people who work for them. They're not the ones living paycheck to paycheck. Whatever, this has always bugged me and I've even passed on a few jobs when I found out this is how they pay their people, but eventually over the years I've unwillingly accepted it. If I have my way, there's going to be some changes in how workers are treated in this system. In the meantime, I just have to put up with it.
I didn't mean to start this entry off on a negative note. I still haven't received my check in the mail from the lady I did some work for over a month ago so my funds are all but gone. I'm not going to make it three weeks even though I'll be working every weekday during that time. There's no one to tell about stuff like this so I write about it here to blow off some steam. I'll think of something.
One a positive note, after I cleaned my father's house this week, I quickly got out of there when I heard him stirring around upstairs so he wouldn't feel awkward or uncomfortable if he saw me carrying barrels of trash and recycling out of the house. I used to try to time it for when he was out during his daily trip to the bar for lunch and a beer, but with the ridiculous manner the local and federal government has handled the virus, his routine has been altered. A few minutes later, I was motivated to go back inside after I heard the tv on knowing he'd be sitting in the living room. Even though he has barely spoken to me in the 3 years I've been back, I didn't want him sitting alone on Thanksgiving. The first year I got back, I rounded up a nice little thanksgiving dinner for the two of us, set the table and watched him walk upstairs to bed without joining me so last year I'll admit that I didn't bother to try, but you can't fail if you never give up so I look for my opportunities when they arise factoring in my own mood and whether I feel like getting rejected yet, again. I managed to get him to join me for some birthday cake last month. Well, I joined him. It was his birthday and he'd gone to bed earlier than usual, but I caught him coming downstairs later that night and met him with a Boston cream pie complete with candles lit. We both laughed and he blew them out in the hallway. I would've done it earlier, but I couldn't find any birthday candles. My mother used to keep them in a drawer in the dining room, but that drawer's empty, now, so I had to go back out and buy some. The timing turned out to be favorable because he was coming downstairs for something to eat so I joined him for a piece of cake in the living room and we watched tv for a few minutes. I've never had Boston cream pie even though it was what my mother got him, or made him, every year on his birthday. It wasn't bad.
I asked if he wouldn't mind if I picked up the living room a little. It only takes a week for the place to be littered with piles of newspaper, drinking glasses, plates and paper-plastic combos from the grocery store. He said it would be fine and a slight feeling of guilt lingered in the air between us, but I tried to joke around a little to alleviate it. Then he surprised me and said "You've come a long way, son." It caught me off guard, but meant the world. He and I have never really gotten along very well. We've butted heads most of my life. It takes two to tango and I definitely showed up to every fight ready and willing, but he's still my father, still a human being who's 83 years old and, whether it's his choosing or not, completely alone in the world. My mother's been gone 15 years and his siblings and his one drinking buddy in Hull have all passed away, as well.
So when I went back inside yesterday morning making it look like I was just running in to grab something and casually asked if he felt like having something to eat later, I was nervous, but didn't show it. His hearing is pretty bad and he must have thought I asked "Where would you like to eat?" because he answered "I don't care. In here or the dining room. Doesn't matter to me." Instead of clarifying myself, I went with it, said "Ok" and got to work cooking green beans, potatoes and corn. Luckily, I'd just cleaned the kitchen earlier that morning or it would have been unusable. I'd already gotten some turkey. The nice lady, the food pantry manager, at my new part-time job insisted I take home one of the individual meals put together to give out to families this week. I didn't know the vegetables needed to be cooked, but I googled how to while I warmed up the gravy and cranberry sauce. I'm a bachelor and have always been more of a hunter-gatherer than a cook, but it's not rocket science and it all came out fine. Luckily, the turkey was already cooked. My father had two helpings and a slice of pie. We watched a little football together and then I got out of there. He likes to change the channel a lot and me sitting there was making him anxious so I politely excused myself and he thanked me for the nice meal. As a whole, the state of the house inside and out as well as his clothes and appearance are still completely unacceptable to me, or to my mother if she were alive, but it was a small victory and I'll take what I can get. There's only so much one person can do and I'm not giving up.
December 4, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Ok, it's Friday night and I've made it through another week. One more and I'll start getting paid on a regular basis. My new job seems to be working out. I've been getting home around noon with plenty of time and energy to get stuff done for the rest of the day and I'm getting a decent work-out from the job loading and unloading the food pantry truck. No one seems to mind that I like heavy lifting. They even joke about it. Somedays rather than drive, I've been riding my bike to the train station in Scituate and taking the commuter rail instead. The first time I tried this, it rained buckets on the way home and I got drenched, but whatever. It was still good exercise. I've been keeping my phone turned off most of the time when I'm not at work which has been helpful in keeping me grounded and present. I'm sure the social interaction I get at work is helping me not be tempted by my phone with its social media, dating sites and youtube videos because none of that is real. This is real. Sitting alone by the fire, right now, is real. Nothing is guaranteed, but as I sit here seeming to see a very small light at the end of the tunnel, the question, at hand, is "What am I going to do with this opportunity?"
It sucks that it's Friday and I have nothing to do, but this is not why I'm writing. I will address that matter indirectly with what I do with the rest of my life. I've had this opportunity many times in the past. A part-time job that doesn't pay much, but gives me a good work-out, a rent free, off-the-grid place to live and a running vehicle. This is the formula that I've recreated over and over in many different versions in countless small, country towns all cross the U.S. for decades. What's going to make this time any different? It's true that I didn't have the experience and perspective that I have, now, and I suppose I could try to theorize that will make the difference this time, but it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that I still haven't given up until I succeed (and that I laugh and smile a lot more). I'll make my to-do list for tomorrow and chip away at it. Tonight, maybe I'll work on my book some more and fight off the loneliness with a little more hope than I had a few weeks ago. That's it.
December 9, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
The reason I installed the small type of skylight that you'd find in a camper in the ceiling of my cabin is because I wanted to be able to open it and all the fancy expensive skylights you can buy don't open. The shape was another factor. It had to be either square or round. The asymmetry of a rectangle doesn't incorporate into a round structure (all my cabins are round dwellings like Mother Nature intended) so, at the moment, I'm enjoying my inexpensive, yet highly functional little skylight with a window crank partially open because it's so hot in here with the wood stove going that the cold winter air drifting in feels refreshing as I lay up in the loft.
I didn't do much after work, this afternoon. I got out unusually early, 10:20 am, but I didn't get home until 1:20pm. I had somewhat of a long commute. I rode my bike to the train station at 6 this morning. It was a little nippy, but most of yesterday's snow had melted off the roads so it wasn't too icy. When I finished up early at the food pantry and high-tailed it to the train station in Quincy center, the train had already left even though I arrived on time. They're not supposed to do that, but they did because they didn't see anyone waiting. The train schedule uses little symbols to designate which trains may leave early if there's no one on the platform. This wasn't one of those trains, but they left early anyways. I wasn't happy. The next train wasn't for another two hours. The commuter train schedule isn't exactly commuter friendly. Neither are the prices. It actually costs me less money to drive my car than it does to take the train. Regardless of the logic behind this, I'm always looking for ways to get more exercise and be more environmentally conscious hence even having a car in addition to my big truck so I try to take the train whenever I can.
After griping to myself about missing the train, I looked on the bright side and headed south on my bike. I said I wanted more exercise. Well, it was better than sitting at the station until 12:15 twittling my thumbs. It was cold, but I was dressed for it so I got my butt in gear. I made it to the Cohasset station, about 12 miles, before I decided to stop. If I tried to make it to the next station, North Scituate, I might not get there before the next train and I didn't want to miss it, again, even though I was more than half home by now, but the riding was a lot less enjoyable along these roads with no bike lane or sidewalk and cars whizzing by going 50+mph. The stations are more spread apart as you get further from the city so I'd still arrive home sooner if I hopped back on the train even with only two stops left. The conductor didn't charge me. Surprisingly, he remembered me from this morning and said "What? Did you ride here all the way from Quincy?!"
"Yup, the train left early" I said. I didn't say it with a negative tone or with any anger, just informatively.
"They're not supposed to do that", he said.
I just shrugged my shoulders making it clear I wasn't interested in arguing the point. "At least, I got some exercise."
"Ya, but it's pretty cold for that."
By then I was entering the adjoining car where there was room to stow my bike and sat down content to be out of the weather for a few minutes. He was a nice older man and apologized to me as I exited the train at the end of the line. "I believe you if you say you got there on time and I know the crew that runs that train and I'm not surprised. I'm sorry that you had to ride all that way."
"It's ok, sir. Thank you."
I banged out the last few miles and fell to my knees in front of the wood stove in my cabin to start a fire. It heats up quick and I was warm in no time and maybe a little pooped. There's nothing like the heat from a fire to warm your bones.
December 17, 2020, Marshfield, Massachusetts
The wind's blowing, the snow's coming down and the wood stove's cranking. The heat feels good, but unfortunately, I haven't gotten much done in the way of chipping away at my goals list, this week. My father was in a head on collision last Wednesday so I've been taking care of him, arranging doctor's appointments, going grocery shopping, picking up medications and making sure his bills are paid. He was only in the hospital for one night so I was able to bring him home, the next day. He has a broken sternum. It could have been a lot worse. His car flipped over. It's been hard piecing together exactly what happened because he was knocked unconscious, but it happened around 11 in the morning while I was at work. I didn't realize he was gone until the next morning because his routine is to drive down to the harbor everyday around noon and get a sub at Maria's so he's usually out when I get home. When I saw that his car wasn't in the garage at 6am the next morning before I left for work, my stomach sank. I called the local police department and they discovered that a neighboring town had run his license plate concerning an accident around 11am and he was taken to South Shore Hospital.
All things considered, the worst is over and he's going to be ok, but his attitude is awful which, unfortunately, was true before the accident. Now, he's just got something to blame it on. Trying to help him and do things for him is exhausting because he's so negative all the time, but I'm glad I was here and that I've been able to help. He went from not speaking to me at all for the last three years to calling me on my phone a couple times a day or asking me to do a bunch of things the moment I walk in his house. I notified my older brother out in California when the accident happened and talked to him on the phone that day, but haven't spoken to him since. I don't see much help coming from him. It's all very enlightening. I'm just going to keep doing what I think is right and when, or if, the opportunity comes to try to make it all more manageable, I'll take it.
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.