January 16, 2021, Marshfield, Massachusetts
It's 3 o'clock on a Saturday. I figured I'd start this entry with one certainty seeing as nothing else in life, mine or the rest of the world's, is, right now. Left the part-time job I had. I really thought it was going to work out. They gave me a generous holiday bonus and a brand new mountain bike. I'd been riding my beat-up old one from my cabin to the train station and then from the train station in the city to work as often as I can. Sometimes when the return train wasn't going to be for another hour or more, I'd even ride my bike all the way home so when a bike club donated a brand new, top of the line mountain bike to the organization and the president wanted to just give it away, the manager stepped in and insisted that they give it to me, instead. I was completely taken back by the gesture. It's a very nice bike, nicer than anything I've ever owned. I had been doing lots of little odd jobs in addition to my normal duties so I guess she wanted to show their appreciation. We, all, even got the week in between Christmas and New Year's off as paid vacation time which is only the second time in my life I've had a job that gave paid time off. To be honest, the concept makes me a little uncomfortable. Something doesn't feel right about getting paid for not doing any work. I was just happy to have the time off regardless if I got paid for it.
Needless to say, the job, as minimal as my hourly wage was, seemed to be coming with a few unexpected perks and I was getting a decent work-out which was one of my intentions in the first place. Unfortunately, with all the hysteria created by the media and the government around the "virus", the company began to encroach more and more on my personal life. They contacted me during the holiday vacation to inform me that I had to quarantine myself for 10 days after a co-worker mentioned to them that I had gone to Maine to re-register my truck which I did only because they wanted me to plow the driveway at the pantry with it and I wasn't going to drive it on the road unless it was registered. I'd stopped using it for anything other than plowing my father's driveway months ago. After a little resistance from me because, again, I don't like being paid for not working, they agreed to waive the 10 day quarantine seeing as I drove up and back in the same day and didn't go to any large gatherings. Not to mention, Maine has far less virus cases than Massachusetts. But a day later, they insisted that I make an appointment with an urgent care facitly to get tested just to be safe which they would reimburse me for which I complied with. To no surprise, it came back negative, but then the next day at work the pantry manager recieved a complaint about me from one of the volunteers because I wasn't wearing my mask while working outside. I was, actually, still wearing it, but had pulled it down to breath while pushin. The volunteer, who apparently has a reputation for being difficult, happened to be walking by. The manager rebrimanded me without even inquiring about any details. I explained to manager and the president that I had no problem wearing my mask while working around others even when outside. The woman had just saw me as I was jumping out of the back of the truck before I had pulled my mask back up. "I don't mean to be a bitch, but can you put your mask on?" was what she said. I'd never met her before and didn't even know she was a volunteer because in the two months I'd worked there I'd never seen her, but when I looked at the guy I drive the truck with he was shaking his head to himself knowing that this interaction wasn't going to go well. He was psyched to finally have someone to work with who actually knew what they were doing and liked to work hard. She wasn't even helping us. She was just walking by on the sidewalk and then into building. It wasn't what she said, even though she could have been more polite, but how she said it that didn't sit right with me. This wasn't the first time something like this had happened. In fact, it was becoming a common occurrence which it seemed like I was expected to tolerate.
That's not how I treat people nor is it how I expect to be treated so I decided that it was best if I moved on. I felt bad about leaving and it wasn't an easy decision, but I feel it was the right one. I don't think non-profits are for me. They were a little too liberal with all that paid time off. That money has to come from somewhere and I prefer to work for it. I did one last carpentry project for them afterhours, last weekend, (finished at 9pm on Sunday) so they could store their new snow blower in the metal shed outside the building. The door on the side of the shed was too small to get the snow-blower through so I built a bigger door and installed it in the end of the shed so the snow-blower could be rolled straight in. I certainly didn't have to, but I always try to take the high road whenever possible. I posted a "For Hire" add on a farming email list that I subscribe to this week and have already gotten many responses so I've got plenty of work lined up for next week. Taking care of things for my father is becoming more and more time consuming so maybe leaving the part-time gig and being able to make my own schedule is a blessing.
January 23, 2021, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Got back from a little farm tour, yesterday. Unfortunately, most of the work I found wasn't local so I grouped them by area. Commuting back and forth didn't make sense. After I made the appointment and took my father to the dentist in the beginning of the week, I was gone for three days working on three different farms. I'll work on some others next week. One of the three I worked on this week in the area called the "metro west" outside of Boston had a place for me to stay for the night. I'd met them a few years ago when I first moved back from Alaska so I worked for them the first day and then I stayed at my cousin's just outside of Boston after working on the second farm the next day before heading to the third farm a few towns away. It worked out good and I got an awesome work-out while making a few bucks. All the farms have more work for me, but I'll probably only go back to two of them.
One of the places wasn't really a farm. It was in an affluent suburb of Boston and the people had a large yard with about a hundred tall blueberry bushes. The woman I did the work for was very nice, but completely erratic constantly on her phone trying to talk to me and someone else at the same time. When I arrived, she gave me a broken shovel and a wheelbarrow with two flat tires to use and I immediately thought to myself "What have I gotten myself into?" She wanted me to shovel and spread a large pile of dirt that she had delivered over a section of vegetable beds next to the blueberry bushes. The dirt was frozen and I had to use a pick ax to break through it to get to the softer soil underneath. She actually asked me why it would be better that the tires on the wheelbarrow had air in them. Her suggestion was to buy another a wheelbarrow rather than just fix the flat tires, but that never happened so I made the best of the one she had. Of course, I initially asked if she had a bike pump or air compressor and she told me that she thought they did, but the pump she handed me and then quickly walked away still talking on the phone was for an expensive road bicycle with a fancy, new type of nozzle on its tires, not the tradition kind found on cars, bikes, wheelbarrows or any other type of wheel. I got her to come back and she directed me to the garage of one of the homes on the property, apparently they lived in both, completely full of stuff. I managed to find an air compressor way in the back and carried it over everything that cluttered the floor, tools, toys, and boxes. They owned a nice tractor and a lot of other brand new equipment, enough most small farms would die for, but when I eventually gave up on the wheelbarrow and used the tractor, upon her suggestion, I discovered that the bucket and front end loader didn't work properly so back to the wheelbarrow I went. She decided that she'd prefer I didn't use the tractor because driving over the field would compact the earth which is a valid concern on any farm if they plan to plant anything on that section of ground. I decided not to mention that it's winter time and the ground is frozen. She eventually found and brought me a small box with an assortment of hand pumps which I'm guessing were for inflatable pool toys and I made due with them only to discover, not to my surprise, that the wheelbarrow tires wouldn't hold air. I offered to run to the hardware store to get some new innertubes and fix them, but she didn't seem to like that idea so I cut my losses and got to work. I only filled the wheelbarrow half full of dirt to use it the way it was which was still a challenge with the frozen ground being so bumpy. I worked by myself and shoveled dirt for 8hrs. Throughout our brief interactions, we were both polite and gracious with one another and she paid me more than I was asking for, but I don't think I'll go back.
When people who have a lot of money think that buying something new rather than fixing what they already have, for a fraction of the price, is a good solution, they're overlooking one simple fact. I understand that they can't justify "spending" the time it would take to fix the item if they're willing to spend the money to replace it, having so much of it. The problem with this solution is that money isn't real. Time is. I don't know when it happened exactly, but the day that common sense became separated from making money was the beginning of the end of our system. It's only a matter of time.
March 3, 2021, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Been in the trenches for a while. Haven't seen the point in writing. The snow hit and the farm work dried up. Made flyers and posted them at feed stores and farm supply stores, but no responses. I could post, again, on the farm email list I used before, but I'm reluctant to because I turned down some work from some of the responses I got. What they wanted me to do was what I'd clearly stated I wasn't looking for. A lot of people just don't read things very carefully or disregard it. Right or wrong, I just don't feel like telling them "No", again. It feels like I'd be opening myself up for criticism and that email list is a valuable resource so I don't want to tarnish it. I've been looking at 9 acres not too far from here that a buddy of mine owns. He works in the white-collar world and hasn't done anything with the property in 15 years because, basically, it's a swamp. It would take a ridiculous amount of work or a lot of money to pay excavators to make it usable, but still I've thoroughly explored and investigated the possibilities. Made a number of written proposals which he got very excited about, but haven't committed to it, yet. Something's been preventing me. It probably stems from the loneliness I've been battling for the past three years of being back here that everyone I know or have met in this time seem oblivious to. Why would I want to keep enduring it here? Heard back from a farm in Maine about some work. I'm going to meet with them on Friday (two days from, now). It'd only be part-time, but they're starting a farm operation with some type of farm to table or farm-stay experience attached to it which is something I've been interested in for years and always planned on doing if/when I get my own big piece of land. Not to mention, getting away from the congestion and mentality around here would be very good for me.
I posted on a farm community-type website and got a lot of responses from that, but none of them are local (even though I clearly stated that I was looking for local people). I've got to do something though. This isolation is killing me. I've been cleaning my father's living room, kitchen and bathroom, doing his laundry and taking him grocery shopping, but the man still has no interest in developing any type of friendship/relationship with me which I've accepted and attach no hope to. He'd rather watch t.v. 18hrs a day. It's just hard when I politely explain things to him like maybe it's not a good idea to turn the heat off in his house before he goes to bed at night when it's going to be 10 degrees or colder outside because the pipes could freeze, yet he continues to turn it off. I even taped a little note on the wall next to the thermostat on the really cold nights to remind him and he still does it. I don't know if it's to spite me or he's so unaware that he doesn't even notice the note. Usually, I'll go in the house late at night and turn it back on at a low setting if I know it's going to be really cold just to keep anything from freezing, but last night I fell asleep and forgot to. Luckily, it only got down to the 20's, but that's still taking a chance because the windows in his basement where all the pipes are exposed are cracked, single-paned and older than I am. Turning one's heat off in the winter is just not a good idea. He can afford to keep his furnace going. He's not broke. I set it for him so it drops down to 50 degrees late at night to conserve oil so I don't know why he insists on turning it off. I built him a bench for the shower, but he still refuses to bathe. I'm at a loss and there's no one to even talk to, but I'm still trying.
March 6, 2021, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I have been working on my book a lot so that keeps me going.
Drove up to Maine, yesterday, to check out a job on a farm, and to just get away and clear my head. It went well. It'd only be part time, but the young couple who've started the farm have a similar vision to the one I have for my future farm so we're going to try working together and see how it goes. Being up in Maine definitely is good for me. I miss living up there.
When I think about popular social media websites, I try to figure out what it is that attracts people to use them and what it is that makes me have no interest in them. The issues that come to mind are being present and trust.
Regarding being present, I find them distracting. I believe that any positive progress I'm going to make in my life will come from the here and now and I can't focus on the here and now if I'm constantly checking some social media site. Looking at my phone or staring at a computer is the opposite of being present. I feel like the temptation to develop this bad habit stems from immediate gratification. Where as, not allowing oneself to become distracted relies on self-discipline. Obviously, part of the allure is the social component to social media, but this tells me that people aren't getting enough authentic social contact in real life so they're looking for it elsewhere. When I'm with a group of friends or on a date, the last thing I pay attention to is my phone. I usually don't even bring it with me because a virtual social experience doesn't even compare to an actual social experience.
The primary goal of a social media site is to gain the maximum amount of users, but for what purpose? Their primary purpose is the same as it is for any business which is to make money. Many people may not think this matters because they still get to use the site for free so what's the harm? At first glance, there is no harm because a person can use the site for whatever they want, but intentions, good or bad, underlie everything a person, or company, does dictating how they treat people and what values they embody. I don't have a lot of faith in our system's values which put money at the top. Values by default promotes nothing. They're basically saying to the world "We don't care why you use our site. We just want you to use it." This is a reflection of our culture as a whole which is saying "We don't care how you make money. We just want you to make it." This attitude isn't helping the world. A social media site can claim they're bringing people together, but if they're just using people's participation to make money while keeping them distracted from reality then, in my opinion, they're doing more harm than good. Not caring about anything other than money is what's causing all the problems we face in the world. I simply don't trust an enviroment, virtual or real, that promotes nothing of value.
But, the question still remains. How can I, or we, use all this participation for something good? I remember when I was 18 years old with so much to learn on so many levels I wrote down in my first journal as a college freshman "You have to make doing the right thing look cool." There's some truth to this statement. People fall fads much more easily than they pursue higher values. The question is "Why?" Or in the case of my young wide-eyed statement, "How do I make doing the right thing look cool?" The answer in theory is easy. Attraction. People want to feel good so they're attracted to things or people who make them feel good. They're, also, attracted to things that allow them to escape from feeling bad. And, there's a difference.
April 17, 2021, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Sometimes, kids will lean way back in their chairs just for the fun of it. Maybe they'll be at school and get restless in the classroom and this activity provides a little amusement. I think that's why desks in schools these days are permanently attached to the chairs so children can't partake in this balancing act because it is a little dangerous. I have to admit; I did it as a kid. I'm sure many people tried it at some point in their childhood. If there was a wall behind me, I might even lean until I was almost falling backwards before catching myself with the wall. It was a little scary, but fun. What was even more scary was when there was no wall and I'd lean a little too far and realize I was about to fall backwards. Fear would shoot through my stomach. If my reflexes were quick enough, I'd lean forward just in the nick of time and catch myself. If I wasn't fast enough, I'd end up falling on my butt. I never got hurt. It was usually more scary and ungraceful than painful, but there is always the risk of a child getting seriously hurt by hitting their head or falling on their arm the wrong way when playing this silly game.
A long time ago, I started waking up in the morning with this same feeling of falling backwards shooting through my stomach. The first time it happened was very alarming. It was like awakening from a very bad dream even though I didn't remember having a dream. It only happened once in a while so I tried to dismiss it, but, unfortunately, it began happening more and more until about 8 years ago it was happening every morning. That's when I knew I had a problem on my hands. The feeling would last for about 10 to 15 minutes until eventually subsiding enough for me to begin my day. Naps were even worse for some reason. The feeling was so alarming that I resolved to figure out what was the cause because during those 15 minutes it almost felt like life or death. I couldn't keep waking up every morning feeling like that, but this is exactly how I did wake up everyday from that day on.
Looking back on it, now, I understand what was causing this, but at the time it was so unsettling that I was willing to go to any length to make it go away. Being somewhat of a workaholic, the act of getting up early for work every morning would speed up the experience similar to ripping off a band-aid as opposed to slowly peeling it off. This forced me to push through the feeling, but didn't make it any less bearable, only more intense for a shorter period of time. This is the first time I've ever written about it, or mentioned it to anyone. I don't know if other people have experienced something like this, but I would suspect they have. Specific to my life, there was simply no one to tell.
I come from a small immediate family. There was just four of us, my mother, father and older brother. My parents weren't close to their siblings so, unfortunately, my brother and I grew up seeing our extended family only a few times a year during the holidays. My parents didn't have many close friends either, none that I knew of, to be honest. One might think this would bring us closer together as a family, but, unfortunately, it didn't. We were four people who lived under the same roof so we knew a lot of basic information about one another, but I wouldn't describe us as close. It wasn't that my parents didn't care about us. They fed us and clothed us, made sure we went to school, gave us rides to practice (we both played sports), etc. I guess, they were just more comfortable keeping us at a distance which seemed to fit my brother's personality as well. My father spent a fair amount of time at local bars after work and on the weekends so he might have had friends there, but he kept that life separate from ours. When my mother passed away, my brother and I were already in our early 30's so we had our own lives though neither of us had families of our own. He lived on the west coast and I lived on the east coast, a couple hours away from my parents though I traveled a lot. I remained on the east coast after my mother passed away and visited my father often knowing what an impact losing his wife of 36 years must have been. A few months later, my best friend passed away. The passing of my friend and my mother were independent events, but I didn't realize how they'd effect my life eventually.
In relation to my life, two of the planets my life orbited around and which orbited around mine, even from a distance, were gone. I was still relatively young with plenty of my own trajectory so I continued on my path without realizing the impact of losing two of the closest people in my world has on a person, especially when there were only a few to begin with. It took years, but it eventually caught up with me.
To the average person, walking comes second nature. I doubt many of us actually remember learning how to walk, but as adults we can observe the process in children of that age. We're all born with an imperative push to learn basic skills like talking, walking, reading, writing, etc. The primordial drive is very strong in children. Despite this instinctual desire to learn, the trial and error experience of learning how to walk can still be a little scary, at first. A child may fall many times and sometimes cry before mastering the ability, but despite this fear, they push through the uncomfortable feeling of losing their balance and learn how to stand on their own two feet and then eventually to take their first step. Obviously, this entire process is aided by the presence of their mother, father or another adult in their life, possibly even an older sibling. Regardless of who it is, the child is comforted by the fact that there is always someone there to catch them when they fall, hopefully before they hurt themselves. At this age, falling is very much a part of life. Even after we learn how to walk, we still fall many times. Again, this willingness is greatly encouraged by the knowledge and belief that there will always be someone there to catch them or, at least, to help them back up. As the experience repeats itself, the child cries less and less because they are able to separate the fear of losing their balance from the physical pain that only accompanies some of their falls. Originally, they cry because the whole experience is scary, but, eventually, they only cry when they actually get hurt. A good-natured child will laugh it off and keep trying.
What happens when we lose our balance as adults? It can happen. Probably not regarding walking, but we can definitely lose our balance in other ways as adults, mentally, emotionally and, even, physically. If we fall down physically and hurt ourselves, such an injury is usually pretty straight forward as is the recovery, but what happens if we fall down mentally or emotionally? Some of us may have never even learned how to function in a healthy manner in these other realms of life when we were children if there was no one there to catch us. They are much less obvious than the physical world. All humans are survivors so we adapt and get on with life, but walking is instinctual. A lot of the artificial world we live in is not. The more highly evolved a species is the more their advanced behaviors are taught and learned rather than merely instinctual, if someone is there to teach them. It takes four legs to support a table. Take two of them away and the table becomes very unstable. It only takes two legs to walk, but how many does it take for a person to live a mentally and emotionally stable life? More than two. Definitely more than one.
I never accepted that feeling I experienced every morning, but I still had to live with it. For years, I studied it exhaustingly trying to gain insight into it, but we can't make it through this life alone. I finally realized that it was not having any people in my life to wonder where I was or how I was doing that created this feeling of falling. I was falling into indifference. One morning on a small organic farm in California, I woke up and to my surprise the feeling was gone. I felt the warm comfortable feeling that I used to know. Unfortunately, it didn't last long because I had to leave the farm, the next day, but it still felt good to know that there was nothing wrong with me. I was just a one man village until I could find a place to belong. It wasn't until I was in Alaska, 7 years later, at the beginning of the salmon season that I experienced a morning without it, again. Salmon fishing is seasonal work. It's a highly regulated fishery which is beneficial for the longevity of the species and the industry. At the onset of the season, fishermen from all over the world congregate in rivers and harbors all over the state.
I'd never been to Alaska nor did I know anyone in the biggest state in our union, but by this time in my journey, I had pretty much mastered life on the road, as well as one person could. I had a good truck and pulled a 20' enclosed cargo trailer behind it. From the outside it looked like any commercial trailer used for construction, landscaping or any other blue-color trade which allowed me to blend in and park anywhere without raising the curiosity of passers-by which would not be the case if I was pulling a regular camper. On the inside, I had a motorcycle, mountain bike, kayak, workshop with every tool imaginable and a studio apartment complete with a little kitchen, shower, bathroom, desk and full size bed. I even had a wood stove and solar panels on the roof disguised as ladder racks, but on this particular morning there was no need for me to hide. I was parked near the ocean in a lot full of campers and rv's of all the other fisherman I'd be working with all summer. Despite not knowing anyone yet, except the manager of the salmon company who hired me the previous day, that feeling of falling was temporarily gone because I had permission to be somewhere and, even if it was just for work, I was wanted by someone. I didn't have to worry about breaking down in the middle of nowhere or anyone messing with my rig if I left it unattended. All I had to do was show up for work every morning and do a good job which was something I loved to do.
The novelty eventually ended as well as the season and I was back on the road in early fall. Even though it was, now, becoming clearer as to what was causing the awful feeling which quickly returned, I couldn't make it go away. There was nothing I could do about it except change the entire world and how we live as a culture. Obviously, that wasn't going to happen and I learned the hard way a long time ago that you can't make other people do something they don't want to do, or aren't capable of. A rusty bolt will turn if I put enough torque on it. A big rock will move if I get enough leverage under it. I can walk a thousand miles if I take one step at a time, but all these things are physical challenges. In the physical world, for lack of a better word, there exists a willingness to change and be malleable. This type of effort cannot be applied to human beings. If there's no willingness, no amount of effort can make another person change. They have to want to. I used to get so angry as a young man which in the physical world actually had favorable results. The harder you push, the more something will budge, but in human interaction this does not help at all. It only makes things worse. Sure to remedy my specific predicament, I could have found a girlfriend and taken a high paying job, both of which I've had opportunities to have, but that would only improve things for me. It wouldn't address the bigger picture which I'd been battling all my life. This felt too much like giving up. Only fixing the problem for ourselves is what perpetuates the problem for the rest of the world. Taking care of only ourselves is not the answer. Changing the environment that creates these circumstances is.
What I do mostly, these days, is listen to a lot of audiobooks especially while I'm working for myself seeing as I'm no longer able to live in rural areas surrounded by natural beauty and this seems to numb the feeling a little which creeps in during the day as well, now. I've probably listened to 50 books since last summer, a lot of classics, ancient to modern history mixed in with some new self-help type philosophy books. At least, I'm learning a lot. There's not much else I can do. My father is 83, now, and no longer able to take care of his home or himself so I made the decision to travel back to the east coast. I even tried drinking to help with the feeling, but couldn't allow myself to rely on such an unhealthy habit. Traveling and working hard was my only self-medication, but, now, I'm trapped until my responsibilities as a son are met. I know if somehow my life finds relativity with other people all my energy will become useful, again, like taking a wind-up toy and placing it on the ground. Until that happens, I'm just treading water trying not to drown. I've been volunteering off and on, but with the virus hysteria created by the media and the government these opportunities are more limited, but I'm still looking. There's an orphanage a few towns away that I sent a couple of emails to a few weeks ago, but I haven't gotten any response, yet, so I'll try calling them next week. There's got to be other people who are fighting this same feeling other than me.
June 17, 2021, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Haven't written in a while. Never heard back from the orphanage. Emailed and called them, but no reply. It bothers me a little that those in charge of taking care of children don't respond in anyway to people offering to volunteer their time in effort to help those children. Having written it this plainly, I think I will drive down there and see if it's still even operating. It being closed down would make more sense than anything else as to why I haven't heard from them. If it isn't closed, I'd like to get to the bottom of it.
Had a birthday the other day which came and went. It was one of those decade type occasions so I aimed to make it significant, at least, to myself. I bought a sailboat in April and have been working on it continually in order to get it ready to use. It needed a little work, but there were a lot of other improvements I wanted to make to it in order to feel good about calling it mine starting with a good and thorough cleaning and paint job. I managed to pull it off and get it in the water the night of my birthday. Ok, technically, it was the early morning of the next day, but I hadn't slept so it was still the same day to me. It was eerie yet peaceful at the boat ramp under a foggy dark sky at 4am, but I made it happen.
It's 26 feet long with a decent little cabin that sleeps 5. I had been wrestling with different ideas on how to make living in this crowded, unfriendly place more bearable, other than packing up and leaving. Knowing that getting a break from being available to my elderly father and where he lives is crucial to my sanity, but knowing I can't go far, rather than wasting my money renting a nearby overpriced apartment or small house, I thought I'd use my money on something of my own which is where the idea of the sailboat came from. I could walk down to the river, hop in it and take off for a day or two, clear my head and come back with my energy replenished. That's the idea.
Now, I need to focus on making some money. I've got my own projects, but I've been talking to some people who live in Vermont on their 12 acres of land which they'd like to do more with by the way of a small farming community so I'm going up there in the next few days to discuss it with them. They, also, run a small solar business which I have a little experience in. I figured I'd follow through with our email conversation in person and see their property before focusing on some of my solo building ventures down here. Way out in the country up in Vermont would be a nice break from my situation as well even if sporadically once in a while. We shall see.
June 26, 2021, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Got back from VT early this morning. I was visiting a small ic (intentional community). Turns out they have a little more than 20 acres having purchased and adjoining parcel, but they're not really into farming. It's all wooded. I left the property last night around 9pm, but wanted to scope out the surrounding area a little to see what was happening on a Friday night in the nearby country towns. I was diggin' it. My kind of scene, but I got a little drowsy about 3/4's of the way back to Mass and pulled over for a power nap around 2am. It was a good trip. Dan, one of the owners of the property and I got a bunch done. He and George, another resident, had to go see about a client in Rutland. They have a side solar business so I was on my own to finish the project on their land for the second half of the day by myself. I gotr'done by 5:30. Nothing monumental, but it was good to help out, contribute and feel productive. And, just as important, we had a few laughs in the evenings. There was a little more alcohol consumption than I'm accustomed to which I didn't keep pace with, but it was still fun. Before I left, last night, they, Dan, his wife and their friend, Diane, who, also, lives on the property, seemed eager for an answer to the question that I'm guessing lingered in the back of their minds "Does he want to stay and live here with us?", but, unfortunately, I didn't give them an answer. I wanted sometime to think about and process the 2 1/2 days I'd spent up there.
The thought did cross my mind, yesterday afternoon, standing there in the woods working by myself. We had begun installing a makeshift shower house/bathroom in a small outbuilding the previous day for would-be campers on the property. Dan and George were, now, off working for a customer and earning money, his wife and Diane left late that morning to visit with friends and family on a lake and here I was alone working on their land for free. Hmmm. The sad thing was it didn't really bother me. I was happy. I was out in the country even if I wasn't with country people exactly. They're from CT. I didn't care. It was better than being stuck in the situation I'm in down in Massachusetts. I don't mean to bash the south shore. I grew up here and used to love it. It's my hometown. It's just become too crowded for my preference amplified by the fact that I'm here to be responsible for my family, my father, yet I don't have any close family or friends here, including him. I'm completely alone in this crowded place and it's very unnerving. So ya, working my ass off in the woods by myself is a lot better. These people, at least, appreciated it. They acted like they did, anyways. Whether I decide to move up there and split my time between helping them bring their goals for their community to fruition and taking care of my father down here remains to be scene.
July 1, 2021, Marshfield, Massachusetts
It's funny how when I listen to a song that I like I never get sick of it. I can listen to it over and over on loop and not grow tired. This wasn't always the case years ago. Has my taste in music improved or my appreciation for everything about life? I think both. At about 4:30 this morning, I no longer needed my head lamp which was a relief because I had, unfortunately, dropped my brand new spotlight in the river two nights ago. As I putted down the little tributary that connects the driftway to the spit, and the ocean, at the end of a three day excursion on the water, I was listening to this song my buddy out in LA had sent me of his new favorite artist, William Prince, and I was really digging it. It didn't hurt that my friend, who's, also, a musician, had made a little video of my sailboat from pics I'd sent him to accompany the song. It has a lot of references to the sea in it so it seemed fitting. I was still listening as I flopped into bed in my yurt a couple hours later.
Two notions seemed to prevail this last outing more than any others. Compliance and risk. Compliance, meaning I definitely don't belong here in this homogenized world where the measure of a man seems to be how much money he makes, and risk, meaning I need to stop throwing myself in harms way like I keep doing by refusing to comply and play it safe.
I had some absolutely perfect and beautiful moments over the past three days like walking along the spit with the whole place to myself remembering how when I grew up here I'd sprint across the sand then dive into the warm pools of water, if I found one deep enough, that form as the tide goes out. Even though it was evening and an overcast night, it felt so good to be out there walking that I could barely contain it. Obviously, it would be even better if I had a pretty lady to walk along with me, but maybe, someday. Or, floating in the inner-tube, the next afternoon, on the river beside the sailboat keeping cool in the 90+degree weather. Or, spooning an avocado onto corn chips for a lunchtime snack -that's my jam, kicking back in the cabin of the boat. These are the moments that make me believe anything is still possible and if I just somehow hold the course I'm on I might make it to a better place where I'm not constantly fighting for survival.
Even out on the water as long as other people were around or the presence of other people, i.e. the clutter of boats moored in every usable spot on the river, I could feel a subtle underlying pressure to not be different or to not do anything out of the ordinary like being the only sailboat on the river in 300 years. During colonial times, the North River was one of the biggest ship building rivers on the east coast. The first American vessel to sail around the world, the Columbia, was built here in 1773. You wouldn't think to look at it, now. It's not a very big river. I swam across it countless times as a boy with little trouble, but for its size it's deep and could float big ships. Anyways, I don't like feeling like I have to tip toe, but it's so crowded here, now, that it feels like if a person makes one false step they'll be stepping on someone else's toes. I love people and care about them a great deal, but this doesn't mean I'm going to allow myself to be neutered into complying with whatever the status quo is. In my opinion, the status quo has lost the ability to reason and think for itself.
Nevertheless, it was fun to share a friendly "Hello" with other folks passing by and keeping cool on the water, too, on a weekday. Being out there on a weekend might be another story. When severe thunderstorms came rolling in, yesterday evening, and everyone was running for cover, docking their boats and hurrying indoors, I was reminded, once again, that there is no place for me to run. The sailboat is my temporary sanctuary so I motored up river to where the forest and treeline reach close to the banks of the river so my mast wouldn't be the tallest thing in sight for lightning to strike. The storm lasted for hours. It was quite a light show. Lightning came down pretty close, but no shock treatment for me, yet. I've always found summer storms to be fun, but flying without a net, these days, they've become a little unnerving which is unacceptable. I will change this.
In order to even use the sailboat this was my routine: at mid to high tide, trailer it to the boat ramp at the driftway in Scituate (because there are no bridges between it and open water), step the mast, launch the boat, late that night leave the ocean and motor up river, lower the mast to go under the bridge in order to travel to my neighborhood dock, tie up the boat, run up to the house, hop in my truck, drive it the commuter rail train station parking lot which is only a 1/2 mile from the boat ramp, park the truck in the big empty lot, walk to my jeep and trailer, drive them back to the house -so I don't have to worry about the jeep being left unattended at the boat ramp for a couple days and possibly being broken into (I keep a lot of tools in it) or my trailer being stolen while I'm out on the water, run back down to the dock, hop back in the sailboat, go somewhere fun on the river (by now, it's around 1am), through out the anchor, raise the mast, hit the hay. Have fun in the sun. Then do it all, again, when it's time to pull the boat out, i.e. when all the ice has melted in the cooler. Actually, I grabbed some more ice when I ran up to the house to swap vehicles.
As much as I try to keep a positive attitude, and definitely need the exercise, running around like this and spreading myself so thin is not the wisest way to live. I've been doing it my whole life and though it's taught me self-reliance and a good work ethic, if anything were to go wrong I'd be up shit's creek without a paddle. No one even knows where I am when I'm doing stuff like this. The weird thing is, in the past, I was usually in some far off place where I didn't know a soul, but this isn't the case, anymore. This is supposed to be my home, which has shed some light on why I lived like this in the first place.
I have a great deal of respect for the ocean, the weather and the big, bad world and, as a result, I never underestimate the risk and try to take precautions, but, even so, flying solo like I do to some people this, in itself, is throwing caution to the wind. A woman at the boat ramp, on Tuesday afternoon, who was coming in with her husband in their little skiff seemed alarmed that I was launching a 26' sailboat by myself and heading out in it alone. Plenty of people have captained a lot bigger boats than mine by themselves. I've walked across America three times by myself sleeping outdoors every night and never run into any trouble because I don't put myself in certain situations, but someday my luck or ability to anticipate and predict danger may run out and no one will even know about it. Maybe that's why I, at least, write about it here when I get the chance.
It's a lot of work to use the sailboat in this way to escape crowded suburbia where I'm trapped, but the idea is to use this break in order to come back and do real work in other areas of my life so we shall see.
July 14, 2021, North Yarmouth, Maine
I think I landed a job, yesterday. It's 2hrs north of here and barely pays anything, but I haven't felt this good in a long time. I walked along the ocean, last night, up in Belfast checking out mooring options for my sailboat. The little seaside town reminded me of Homer, AK, small, but with lots going on, especially in the summer. I was meeting with the farmer in the morning and I knew there was no way I was going to be able to fall asleep at a reasonable hour without a little help especially crashing in my jeep. I was way too excited so I resorted to going out for a beer. I haven't drank in forever so one beer would do the trick. I walked around the downtown area (twice) and had a nice conversation with an older couple who I passed on the sidewalk and thought I recognized from a neighboring farm I used to work on, but it wasn't them. We still ended up talking for quite a bit. Mark had recently moved to Searsmont, a nearby town, and Jaclyn was visiting him. I, also, talked to two young ladies who looked like they'd just gotten off work somewhere in order to get some local info, but I could tell they thought I was trying to hit on them so I didn't bother with that much. Eventually, I found a bar that looked like the most local, least touristy one on the waterfront. It was basically just me and the waitstaff hanging out with the bartender. It was fun to meet some new people. Had my one beer and was in "bed" by 10:30pm. Slept pretty good all things considered.
Met with the farmer the next morning. To my surprise, he had, already, called the last farm I worked on and Kevin, the owner, told him to hire me on the spot. I think he would've done just that had he not needed to talk to the guy already working for him who wasn't working out. I'd be replacing the guy so to not make it awkward or unfair the owner told me he'd get back to me later in the week. I'm not assuming that I got the job. Like I said, it doesn't pay anything and it's over 4hrs away from my father's so it's not the most practical option in the world, but I'd rather work on a farm for next to nothing than get paid three times as much exploiting our already corrupt system. Plus, the job sounds like it would give me a really good work out. It's only part-time to start so I'll be able to get down to Mass and take care of things for my father when I need to, but I'll probably end up doing plenty of field, tractor and mechanic work, too, if I want. My first responsibility will be to load up the farm van and deliver crates of vegetables from Portsmouth, NH up to mid-coast Maine. Hopefully the boxes will be heavy. Regardless, taking this trip and considering working up here has allowed me to see how unhealthy what I've been dealing with for the past three years has been.
I'm in no rush to head back to Mass so I stopped by a small park along the Royal River where I used to go swimming and kayaking with my dog years ago when I lived in the area. It's so quiet and peaceful here I figured it'd be a nice spot to catch up on some writing. I have a buddy who lives down the road so I stopped by to see him and his wife and son...and Emma, the family dog. I actually drove to Texas for them 6 years ago to pick her up as a puppy and drive her back to Maine that winter because he plows snow and couldn't risk being away that long with all the customers he has. Even though I only spent those two days of driving with her 6 years ago, Emma went crazy when she saw me. Australian Shepherds have very good memories. My buddy and I talked a little about working together. He owns his own landscaping business and could use a partner. He's doing well, but, like I know all too well, working alone all day gets old. He knows I'm a freespirit and that I could never settle down in southern Maine as crowded as it's gotten around here, but we might explore doing it for a couple years just until his son's old enough to work with him. Mowing rich people's lawns is not really my thing, but it would be fun to work with and help out a friend. He said we could probably do all his accounts in three days giving us the rest of the week to do other stuff. We'll see.
The honeymoon period will end up here, like it does anywhere, but I've still learned a lot going through the hell I've been through the last few years trying to help my father so if I apply this to wherever I end up things will be a lot better especially if it's somewhere that's more my kind of place. I've been visiting a lot of farms in VT and Maine the last few weeks and I always feel better when I'm out in the country where people are more down to earth.
July 22, 2021, Seabrook, New Hampshire
I didn't fall asleep til 2am and woke before 8. Six hours isn't bad for crashing in this vehicle seeing as how uncomfortable it is to sleep in. It was a practical purchase when I bought it because I needed something temporary to drive while I'm rebuilding the engine of a vehicle I actually like, but a year and half later I'm still driving this one. It's definitely out of character for me to let something go unfinished for this long which is simply more evidence that though my heart was in the right place it was a bad idea to try to live done there. I'll get the old fixer-upper back on the road soon enough, I hope. I worked on it this week so that's a good sign. I got the job and start tomorrow morning at 5:30am so I left Mass., last night, to avoid having to drive through Boston during the day or before the crack of dawn, tomorrow. This way I break up the 4hr drive into sections. Yes, it's crazy to drive so far for a part-time job that doesn't pay anything, but it's on a farm and away from all the craziness down here and there's something sane about this. I sold the sailboat, too. I'm going to miss it, but the money has alleviated a lot of stress until I can get into a routine and pick up more hours on the farm. I'll get another one. I probably could've gotten more money than I sold it for, but I believe in karma and like knowing I gave people a good deal. It just feels better. They were psyched.
August 1, 2020, Portland, Maine
Ahhh, savoring a lull at the moment. I'm enjoying that same William Prince song curled up under a few blankets in my "new" sailboat moored off the Eastern Prom. I sold the 26footer, two weeks ago, and bought this one which came with a mooring, a major score. It's smaller, 19', which is what I was originally looking for, and will make it easier to travel with. I've always wanted to take a small sailboat and explore the coast of Maine and all the islands, something I could camp on, but, also, easily take up a river or beach it if the weather ever turned bad. I always envisioned doing this with a girlfriend. That part I can't do anything about. Plus, I wouldn't want to invite a pretty lady on here the way it looks, right now, but, at least, I'm staying the course. I must be either crazy or I have a lot of heart because a normal person would have given up living this life a long time ago.
I brought the sailboat in to the public dock around midnight, last night, to avoid the hecticness of a busy boat ramp on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of the summer. Cars were doubled up in parking spots or people were just parking on the grass. Portland is so much more crowded compared to how it was decades ago when I lived here, the last time I had an apartment and paid rent. Even six years ago, the last time I lived in Maine just a little further north, it wasn't anywhere near this bad. There was a gang of Somalian kids partying and doing doughnuts at the ramp as I loaded stuff onto my boat. I didn't pay them any mind, nor them me, but they were lucky the cops didn't show up. They were so loud. I was a dumb punk once, too. I couldn't bring out all the stuff, cooler full of food, blankets, laptop, etc., on the windsurfer when I paddled out to the boat, yesterday afternoon, to clean it up a little and get organized. It's going to need a complete makeover like the last sailboat, maybe even more than the last one which I made 2g's on when I sold it for all the work I did to it, but this one's usable as is. The previous owner, who was a nice guy, just didn't keep it very clean, took me sailing when I met him to look at it. That was fun.
Nothing is certain, stable or guaranteed. I'm still very much hanging on by a thread most of the time which is why it's important to appreciate a break from the existence of being alone all the time and continually on the road. These little updates help, but what I do with everything I've learned from this crazy path I've chosen is what's going to make it all worthwhile...or, at least, give it some purpose.
August 11, Bangor, Maine
Another lull or a break in the storm. I'm enjoying the "benefits" of this park and ride to do a little writing, this morning. I was thinking I should probably do some type of recap pertaining to the decisions that I've made over the last 25 years which have arrived me at the perspective of viewing being parked in a commuter parking lot all day, if I choose, is cause for minor celebration. Have I gone off the deep end? I can say that I don't think I have by the simple fact that I'm asking the question which means I haven't lost perspective on where I started, where everyone else is and where normal might be, if there is such a thing, because, otherwise, I wouldn't know where the line or the edge of sanity is that shouldn't be crossed. The line regarding to health, safety and support is another story. Those lines got crossed a lifetime ago the moment I left on this journey.
I've noticed and find it interesting that my lifestyle is being adopted by a lot more people these days, both, young and old. It seems like a younger privileged section of the population are seeing it as an adventurous and free way to live cheaply and travel. The minimalistic movement complimented by the tiny house fad are certainly contributing to this. I suppose I'd have to include myself in this young people group when I, first, started. A large lower class portion of our population are, also, viewing living out of their cars as a way of saving money on rent while keeping a steady job. It's easy to tell the difference between these people and the stereotypical destitute person who has winded up living out of their car versus those who've made a deliberate and conscious choice to. The vehicles of those who work for a living are neat and organized, but there are syill tell-tales signs that someone like me can pick out that reveal they're using their vehicle to live out of. The fact that more people are resorting to this as a solution to save money isn't so much a reflection of these people as it is of how distorted our economic system is becoming. I suppose I'd have to include myself in this group, too, at the present moment.
I pulled the sailboat out of the water, last Friday, and trailered it down to my father's for the weekend so I could work on it. It needs a lot of work, cosmetic, mostly. I'd gotten out of work at 5 on Friday and didn't make it to Marshfield until around noon on Saturday. It was a long night. The boat ramp in Portland was a complete circus at 8pm when I got down there with people partying, putting boats in, taking boats out, renting kayaks, etc. so this slowed things up a little. I just hopped on my windsurfer and paddled out to the sailboat to wait for things to die down. It was probably a little after 10 when I brought it in to the ramp. Lowering the mast took a lot longer than I expected. I had already mastered raising and lowering the mast on my 26 footer so I figured the mast on this one would be easier being only a 19. Not so much. Bail, a nice teenager, who was partying down at the ramp with some friends and who, apparently knows a little about sailboats, volunteered some help and I took him up on it. With another person, it took less than a minute. I had already lowered it most of the way, but with him cranking the trailer winch down (which I had attached to the middle of the mast like a crane) the last couple of feet while I held the mast steady was a cinch. I was on the road and heading down 95 by 2am, but could barely keep my eyes open so I had to make a pitstop at the Kennebunk rest area and sleep. Traffic was what kept me from getting to my destination in a timely fashion when I woke up. This is why I prefer to drive at midnight. Oh well, the boat and trailer rolled smoothly and I made it there safe and sound, eventually. I got a bunch of stuff done, but not quite enough to justify bringing it back with me this week so I could move into it rather than rely on park and rides. I had to order some special epoxy paint for the hull which should arrive sometime this week.
It's nice and cool, today. Work's going pretty good. I got out a little early, yesterday. It was only an 11hr day. It's kind of a trip delivering organic vegetables to all the grocery stores up and down the coast of southern Maine because I've lived in most of the towns and each of them was my grocery store at one point. I'm getting a great work out and I'm back to feeling good about being in shape. Unfortunately, I snapped at my father on Saturday and feel bad about it. He had called me 5 times about grocery shopping before I got back. I even had some groceries delivered before I got back to hold him over and he was still waiting for me in the driveway ready to leave as I parked my car. I didn't even have a chance to move my laptop and things out of the passenger seat. As soon as I unhooked the sailboat, which he didn't even acknowledge, and parked in the driveway, he was trying to get in the car. I was tired, had eaten or used the bathroom and just needed a second to collect my thoughts. He's never been in my life, knows nothing about me, has barely said two words to me since I moved back to help him out, but, now, he's calling me all the time only because he wants me to pick stuff up for him. I'm happy to do it. That's why I'm here, but it just hurts that this is the only reason he speaks to me. The rest of my life doesn't matter. I mowed the lawn and left without talking to him. I didn't even want to be there. I've just always believed that family is supposed to look out for each other, but mine isn't like that. We're just different from each other.
August 28, 2021, Swanville, Maine
I found a quiet stretch of a forested road to park, do some writing and regroup, this morning. I've been running around a lot, the last couple weeks. The 8hour round trip down to my father's every week with my job and working on the sailboat hasn't given me a moment to catch up on things so it's good to be able to just sit still for a minute.
I pulled into the park and ride in Yarmouth, Me around 2 am, Thursday night/Friday morning. It's a nice big, but very quiet lot and unhooked the sailboat and trailer, pulled one of the wheels off of it and continued north to get to the farm by 4:30 am for work. A buddy of mine wanted to bring his family up to Portland to watch the lobster boat races which are sort of like truck pulls for commercial fisherman so I told him he could use my mooring. He was bringing his boat, but then he mentioned another couple would be joining them so I figured having another boat on hand for more seating would be beneficial. His boat is not super big and I'm sure it's going to be a hectic weekend on the water. I think there are some sailboat races happening as well. It seemed pointless to haul my boat all the way to the farm with me then turn around and haul it back down the next day, but I didn't have any place to leave so I got creative. I figured no one would bother with me leaving it down the end of the big empty lot out of the way if it looked like I'd gotten a flat tire and was just parking it there temporarily. It was there for less than 24hrs. I got out of work that afternoon and drove back down and grabbed it. I actually drove by it twice that day already on my delivery run to the Whole Foods in Portland with organic vegetables and could see it from the freeway.
I trailered the boat up north with me after my buddy didn't show because of the storm that's supposed to be coming and it's parked over at a storage yard near Belfast where I rented a spot for it, right now. I didn't want to show up at the farm for work this week pulling it behind my jeep. The farm owner is a young guy, but pretty overwhelmed these days with the arrival of their second baby, the busy summer farm season and a new barn being built which is way behind schedule so I'd didn't want to do anything to add to the confusion. Hopefully as my routine begins to simplify, I'll be able to put in some more days over there and help alleviate things for him. He gave me a raise this week. It's still a laughable wage, but it was a very nice gesture.
My father still jumps into my car as quickly as he has when I arrive so I guess what I said didn't phase him. That's good. I think a big part of his behavior is attributed to old age and he's becoming more like a child in certain ways. One of his other greatest abilities has always been blocking stuff out and pretending like everything's fine so he's got that going for him, too. I took him grocery shopping, mowed the lawn and did some laundry for him and myself and left that night. I'd rather be on the road than trapped in suburbia.
I'd like to be out on the water, at the moment, and there's a good chance I will be in the next couple days, but the boat still needs plenty of work so I want to get organized, first, so I can get more work done while I'm sailing around. It's mostly painting and little carpentry projects, at this point. I did what major fiberglass and mechanical work it needed while it was out of the water so, now, it can be a running project. I probably would have thrown it in after work, yesterday evening, but I got invited to a cook-out by some funky new people I reached out via email a few weeks ago. They have a homestead type co-operative farm not far from the farm I'm working on. I never know what to expect when I read about something, someone or someplace online compared to what I actually encounter in real life, but they exceeded my expectations, and then some, which is the best kind of surprise. I met them all, last night, after work when I arrived for the cook-out and didn't get a chance to tell them this. It was kind of a party with lots of people, a bonfire, acoustic guitar, mandolin and fiddle jam session, dogs running around and, of course, a tractor parked in the middle of it all. Definitely my kind of scene, but I kept it chill quietly taking it in. The chance to have a real conversation versus a party conversation didn't really present itself. It's not realistic to expect under the circumstances, nor should it be, but maybe I'll see them, again. I offered to fix their tractor, or try to. Apparently, the clutch has been sticking which if it needs to be replaced is kind of a big job because you have to separate the transmission from the engine, but sometimes you get lucky and it's just the cable linkage or bushings. I guess I'm more comfortable making friends by being helpful than talking at a party where I don't no anyone, but it was pretty getting to go.
I've been looking into getting a mooring in Belfast harbor which is a big and busy waterfront for such a small town, but I, also, decided to check out some of the other boat ramps in the neighboring towns along the coast. I need to practice raising and lowering the mast by myself and doing it at a busy launching area is not the place for this. The ramp at Stockton Springs public ramp was much quieter and the harbor is calmer and more protected. A nice old man approached me while I was there and asked me if I was hungry. They were having a little cook out in the park next to the ramp. His sternman (that's the other guy on a lobster boat lugging the traps while the captain drives -one of my favorite jobs) was a young Eagle Scout raising money to build a kayak launch in the park by the water's edge so I walked over, made a donation, had a hot dog and wished the young man luck. He's going to be a senior in high school then plans to go the Maine Maritime Academy. We need more Eagle Scouts... an nice old timers still out there on the water gettin' after it.
September 4, 2021, Thorndike, Maine
Oh boy, it's 7 o'clock in the evening and I just pulled on my hoody. It's starting to cool off in the evenings. It was sunny and hot earlier and I was getting stuff done barefoot in just a pair of shorts. I finally have a moment to stop and regroup, again. This time really stop and really regroup. This was the first week I didn't make the 8hr trip south to my father's so I was finally able to focus on improving my situation up here. I've seriously considered renting a place, but at what farm workers make I'd be practically broke all the time trying to make rent so I made small fliers looking for some land to rent (for a lot less) and posted them on the little community bulletin boards at feed, farm and hardware stores in the area. I, also, posted something online and, right now, I'm parked with my sailboat in a secluded field in the middle of the woods which I have all to myself and I can be here for as long as I want. It feels so good I could almost cry -not really, but I did dance a little in the field. The man who owns it lives down in southern Maine and rarely comes up here, but feels more comfortable having someone staying on the property so when he saw my ad he sent me an email. I met with him, yesterday morning, at the grocery store when I was down in York delivering vegetables (I properly docked myself the 15 minutes it took to meet and talk to him, of course). He's an older gentleman and was driving a black Jaguar convertible so I'm guessing he has money. He had a couple staying here in their camper for like 6 years, but they've since retired to Florida and he hadn't found anyone suitable to take their place, yet, so here I am. The driveway is about a 1/4 mile through the woods then opens up to a field before continuing up a little hill to another smaller clearing where his cabin and rv are. He has water and power up there and offered to let me park on a little knoll about halfway up the hill if I wanted to plug in, but I told him I preferred the field down below.
I parked the sailboat in a nice spot along the northern edge of the field facing south where I'll eventually park a camper with solar panels and did a little work to it then I completely emptied out my car and got reorganized. In the morning, I'm supposed to drive 2 1/2hrs to go look at a camper, but I'm having second thoughts. I didn't realize it was Labor Day weekend until this afternoon (because I'm so clueless) and rte.95 is probably going to be a parking lot, tomorrow. The lady selling the camper can only meet at 11am and already has someone coming to look at it before me so it could be gone before I even get there which is the other reason I'm thinking twice about it. I'm excited to get settled here and finally have a place to stay where I can prepare a meal and take a shower, but I shouldn't rush it and make things hectic for myself. The camper sounds like a good deal which can make a person eager to jump at the opportunity, but she didn't include any pictures of the outside which is a little odd so one never knows until they see something in person. Apparently, she lives 2hrs away from where she is storing it which makes showing it to people a major inconvenience for her. I should probably hold off, wait and see. I don't have my big truck with me so I couldn't haul it up here, tomorrow, even if I did buy it. Well, I am crazy enough to try it with my jeep. It has a V6 and 4 wheel drive. You should see what they haul stuff around with in Europe and other countries. It's crazy. I admire it. They're not afraid. Why should I be? But still, if there's no need to rush, I probably shouldn't. I don't have a whole lot of money saved up, yet, so buying something this weekend would make things a little tight until I got paid, again, in two weeks. I know waiting is the right thing to do. Honestly, I just don't want to disappoint the lady. She sounded aggravated about trying to sell it in the few texts we exchanged, but being responsible for other people's "stuff" is what I'm trying to teach myself to stop doing.
The other cool thing about the land is that it's only 6 miles from the farm I work on so I could even ride my bike if I wanted and go back to living and working locally like I've always preferred. I was able to put in an extra day on the farm this week, too. Ya, I'm not going anywhere, tomorrow. I just got here.
September 9, 2021, Thorndike, Maine
Had a rough one the other night, but I pulled through somehow. I bought a truck. Driving this car for the past couple years has been a very humbling experience. I'm not a shallow or materialistic person. I'm pretty sure my life, if anything, proves this, but it would be nice if the very few material possessions that I do own represented me in some way and I'm just not a car person. I'm a get-stuff-done truck person. To me, a vehicle should be useful, not a fashion statement and a car, for my lifestyle, is not very useful. Ok, it's not a car. It's a small suv which doesn't make it any better. At the time, I needed something that was better on gas than my big truck because I had an hour commute (one way) to the farm I was working on which is something I never do. I always try to either live where I work or be within walking distance. This is a criteria that I've tried to maintain throughout my life to address global warming and the inevitable oil shortage, but I was trying to help my father in Mass where big farms are scarce so I had to be more flexible than usual. I finished the season on the farm, but wasn't going to do that, again. A 2hr drive for a job that doesn't pay a heck of a lot didn't make much cents, but a year later, I'm still driving the same lame vehicle. Now, I'm up in Maine working on a farm out in the country feeling better. I've landed a small piece of land to rent for next to nothing a few miles from the farm so I can walk to work if I want to (though I do like to bring all my tools with me on most days) so it was time to make a vehicle change. I'm embarrassed to admit that I've been apprehensive about meeting a lady and have to show up to take her somewhere driving this neutered excuse of an suv.
So ya, I bought a truck. I paid 1,000 bucks for it. The engine actually runs pretty good, but it has no bed, just the front cab with a frame and rear axle in the back. For a couple of reasons, it's hard to find trucks with full-sized beds these days. Newer trucks have shorter beds so they can have more seating in the front because most trucks aren't used like real trucks anymore. I like to be able to throw a full sheet of plywood (4x8) in the back. Call me ol'fashioned so if I can't find a decent truck with an 8 foot bed, I'll build one. Plus, one of the girls from the farm where I went to the bonfire invited me to go sailing on Wednesday and I was dreading having to drive over there in my present predicament. I was seriously considering walking or riding my bike. Ok, she didn't invite me. She texted me asking if I'd gone sailing in Belfast, yet, and mentioned that she was going so I offered to go with her and she like the idea. Her sailboat is a 32 footer which is easier to sail with two people though I'm sure she sails it solo plenty.
Tuesday night, I'm parked in a giant walmart parking lot in Lewiston among 18-wheelers, rv's and abandoned vehicles. This place is a little sketchy. I bought the truck. Now, I had to figure out how to get it back to my property by myself. I used to just hitch-hike. I'd drive to wherever a truck was, buy it, drive it back to wherever I lived then hitch-hike back to get my other vehicle. To me, this is just what a person has to do when they're on their own in the world. With the whole virus thing, hitch-hiking is no longer an option, but uber has made things a lot easier so usually I'd use public transportation, bus, train or even plane for one truck I bought in Chicago, to get me close then I'd uber it the rest of the way. The problem with my current situation was this truck had no tail-lights so I couldn't drive it back in its current state so I drove over to walmart (in the car) and got a set of replacement trailer lights and a couple of pieces wood from loew's and made some temporary tail lights for about 30 bucks -one of the pluses of always having your tools with you. I finished just as it was getting dark which would be to my benefit making the lights visible, but the rest of the truck hidden by the darkness. It looked a little redneck, but it'd do the job or so I thought. The only problem was when the previous owner removed the bed from the truck they took the old wiring harness with it and without it the electrical circuit for the rear lighting couldn't be completed nullifying plugging into the auxiliary trailer plug like I'd done. I couldn't make a new wiring harness. The only place to get one is a junkyard or order one online. I googled junkyards in the area, but nothing was going to be open at this hour. Waiting til dark was, now, a problem with no working tail-lights. I made a valiant effort, but it was just too dangerous to drive at night without any rear lights. Technically, I could've cut off the wiring harness and spliced into those wires directly, but when you start cutting off wiring harnesses late at night in the dark it might be time to regroup. In the morning, I could, at least, take back country roads and make hand signals. If I got pulled over, I could show the officer the bill of sale from the day before and he, or she, would see I, at least, tried to remedy the situation temporarily. I already called my insurance company to make sure the new truck was insured before I drove it. So that's what I did. Crashed in wally world's parking lot and drove the truck back early the next morning with my finger's crossed. Made it. The farm sailor girl down the road texted me a little before 8 and had to cancel because she found out she was having hay delivered that morning. The hay business hinges on dry weather so when they have hay you have to be ready to take it. I was going to offer to help. I've already unloaded two trailers this week, but they turned out to be round bales at 1,000lbs a piece which have to be off loaded with a tractor. Theirs was running, again, thanks to an ol'timer who lives next door and new a trick on how to unstuck a clutch.
Confession: I made a card for the girls for inviting me to the bonfire and left it in their mailbox, but I didn't sign it. They seem pretty cool and popular in their social circle which reaches beyond farming and I'm just some random guy that came to one of their funky hangouts, but I still wanted to show my appreciation for getting to be around people in a fun environment compared to the life I normally lead. Telling them it was from me just seemed too needy and I couldn't bring myself to. I definitely need friends, but I'm not a needy person. I'm a truck person, haha. Hopefully, I'll get to hang out with them, again sometime, then I'll confess and we can have a laugh about it. In the meantime, I gotta get a bed on this truck.
September 11*, 2021, Thorndike, Maine
Moved into my new office this morning. The truck is an extended cab so it's much roomier than the car -you could play catch inside this thing, and the heat cranks so I switched vehicles. The mornings are beginning to get chilly. The truck's heater is way warmer than the car's. Big V8's are good like that. It only took a few minutes to warm up the "office" then I turned off the truck. The sun's over the treeline, now, and it's keeping it warm in here. I know all this engine talk can get boring, but if you're living on the road, you better be a good mechanic, or have a lot of money. The American lifestyle is very dependent on its vehicles. Another good reason to live in walking distance to where you work.
Even though it was Friday and I'm usually up for doing something social at the end of the week, I pretty much passed out as soon as I got out of work, last night. It was almost a 15hr day. Too bad farm workers don't make overtime. The sad thing is I don't mind long hard days. I kind of like 'em. It was a delivery day so I started at 4:30am, but when you show up for work in the dark and then leave at the end of the day in the dark and don't see a soul either time, I'll admit it does feel a little desolate. We've never had a farm meeting in the two months I've been there. At least, I've never been included in one so I think I'm going to talk to the owner about this. I believe part of the reason he feels overwhelmed, at times, is because his communication skills are a little lacking. He's kind of a quiet soft-spoken guy and they don't teach you how to communicate in farm school or any school, for that matter, so I guess business owners expect employee communication to just magically take care of itself. It doesn't. Every owner, or manager, who's ever run any type of business quickly learns this. In fact, what no one tells you before starting any business is that dealing with employee issues is a huge part of the job and it's often an exhausting part of the job, but if we're working more as a team I think it will help the farm in a lot of ways. Part of the reason my day was so long was because of how things were left from the day before making loading the delivery van and trailer that much more time consuming.
I'm not sure why I've always had such in interest in learning how to communicate better, but I've taken many workshops over the years, mostly NVC. Actually, the very first one I ever took was at the Common Ground Fair which is held this time of year right across the street from the farm I'm working on, right now. They canceled the fair this year -so lame, but I've taken courses and workshops all over the country, California, Maine, Mass, even Alaska, but I think it comes second nature to all of us once we've had a positive communication experience. If a person never does, which unfortunately includes a lot of people, they might avoid communication and confrontation for their whole life, especially at work. I love it for some reason. But, there's one very important factor to keep in mind regarding all communication no matter which type you prefer and that is "You can't get water from a stone" meaning if you're dealing with an unhappy person no amount of communication is going to fix the problem. Communication is about realigning your efforts, attention or energy better so all parties are working together more efficiently. It's about getting everyone on the same page. If a person, or party, has no more energy to give, or refuses to give anymore, then trying to communicate with them will be fruitless. It would be like trying to replacing parts on the engine of a car to get it to run better when there's no fuel in the tank. There must be a willingness in all parties involved in order for things to improve. If one party refuses, then you know what one of the problems is.
Washed my clothes in the sailboat this afternoon. $1,000 may not be a lot of money to a lot of people, but when you're living on a farm worker's wages you have to be frugal, at times, so I'm not doing any unnecessary spending or driving around for a few days. There aren't any laundry mats close by and I can't drive the truck until it's registered and I can't register it until I build a flatbed for it so I'm staying close to "home" until I get paid next week. When I make it down to Mass, again, I'll sell the truck I have down there that I use to plow my father's driveway. It's on it's last leg anyways otherwise I would have drove it up here. My older brother finally came home from California to help out two weeks ago which is why I haven't gone down the past two weeks. I've been doing it for 3 years. He can handle it for a few weeks until I get myself squared away up here. He was driving a new mercedes convertible when he arrived. We're very different. I don't even know what he does for work. I wish we were closer, but I've finally accepted that this is probably never going to happen which I think is how both of them prefer it sooooo...."on the road, again. Here I go on the road, again." I took my father grocery shopping, mowed the lawn, did his laundry and left late that night to make it back up here and put in an extra day on the farm that week. Not having to spend a $100 on gas every week is going to make a big difference.
I didn't have a big enough basin so I jacked the front of the boat trailer up high enough so that the sailboat was at a steep enough angle to prevent the self-baling cockpit from self-baling itself (all this means is that it has drain holes at one end so if you tip that end of the boat high enough the water can't drain out) then I grabbed a couple of empty spring water jugs out of my bag of recycling and filled them up at the well at the top of the hill then poured them out into the cockpit of the sailboat, grabbed a bar of soap and started scrubbing. When I was done, I threw all my clothes in a pale (I don't have a lot) and walked over to the brook that runs through the woods on the property and rinsed them all. As I was checking out the property when I first got here, I noticed there was one small, but deep spot in the brook where some rocks and roots were bunched together making a tiny little waterfall. That's where the brook would be the deepest. If you ever want to make a swimming hole in a brook or stream, just make a little damn by piling up rocks and over time the little water fall it creates will dig a hole in the stream on the other side. It's called a ditch digging damn. Works really good. The bigger the damn, the deeper the hole it will dig. Sometimes this occurs naturally like in this case so I waded into the hole with my beater sneakers on and went to rinsing, strung some thin rope from the mast to the rear stantion of the sailboat and hung the clothes to dry. It was sunny and warn, today. Perfect for doing laundry the old fashioned way.
I crossed paths with a porcupine when I was walking in the woods. It was a very chill and uneventful encounter. Less like seeing a wild animal and more like realizing your room-mate is home when you find them sitting on the couch when you walk into your living room. We were both like "Oh, hey." For a second, he considered climbing up the closest tree hesitating with one of his front paws on the trunk and was like "Hey, you're not going to try to eat me or anything are you?" And, I was like "No man, we're cool. Do your thing." Then he was like "Oh cool, then I won't bother climbing this tree and just keep walking to where I was going." Then he took his paw down and slowly waddle on his way. And, I was like, "Sounds good, man, see you later."
*Never forget. Prayers for those lost and their families.
September 20, 2021, Thorndike, Maine
Another beautiful day. The mornings are getting chilly, but the afternoons have still been sunny and warm, even hot. I have been bathing and swimming in lakes and rivers all summer. Today, I took advantage of the brook running through the property, but before long I'll be wimping out. My skinny butt doesn't like the cold water when it's not super hot outside, unless maybe if I have a warm fire waiting for me which I don't, at the moment, so I better get busy with winter preparations, but I have to get the "new" truck squared away before I do anything else, first.
October 3, 2021, Thorndike, Maine
Ok, where are we? Or, where were we? I don't even know. I know where I am, at the moment. I'm in my truck parked in a field, in the woods, in the dark. Where are you? Normally, I'd re-read the previous posts to give myself a point of reference, but it's been so long that there'd be too much to recap. I could read through my daily log entries because I try to write daily, even if I don't end up posting it in this blog, to pick out some highlights, but that probably wouldn't capture the moment I'm in, right now. It's a good moment. The last couple days have been a little lonely, at times, but that's mostly because I haven't been writing as much. I was too caught up in accomplishing the task at hand which was to finish building the flatbed for this new truck so I could start using it which required installing new tail lights and wiring then into the truck's electrical system. Don't worry, I won't bore you with all the details. Before I could do any of this, however, I decided that I should treat the truck's metal frame with a commercial grade rust inhibitor figuring it was a good opportunity to do so there being no bed on the back so the frame was completely exposed. It would have bothered me if I hadn't so I forced myself to practice a little patience and do it the right way rather than hurry and just start installing the bed because I was so eager to start using the truck, but it's all done, now. Printing out my proof of insurance on a printer plugged into the cigarette lighter while parked in this field was pretty funny, but I suspected that I wasn't going to be able to use my phone as proof when I went to register it this week at our little town hall where everything is still done by hand, which I kind of like, so I thought I should have a paper version.
Only problem is it's Sunday which technically is still the weekend, but it's not really a going out night so I can't really go celebrate a little and do some socializing, but, at least, I can get back to writing. I got my first country wave from a guy heading in the opposite direction on the road this afternoon when I took the truck out for it's maiden voyage. Technically, he wasn't driving a truck. He was on a 4-wheeler driving on the street. A lot of the country roads around here are dirt so people are always driving their atvs on the road especially on the weekends. When the snow hits this winter, they'll be on snowmobiles. My guess is by the looks of him that he drives a truck when he's not on a quad so I'm calling him my first. I know it's corny to be this excited about getting a wave from a complete stranger driving down the road, but whatever. Beggars can't be choosers. He probably would have waved to me even if I was driving a car, but I don't care. I wasn't. I was driving my big truck with a big burly homemade flatbed. It's wider than most truck beds are long. I still need to install some back-up lights. Napa, nor any of the other auto parts stores in Belfast, which has a lot for such a small town, didn't have any round white ones so I'll have to order some online. I built the whole thing with a handsaw. Dick Proenneke would be proud.
Ok, let's get back to addressing the problems of the world one heart at a time. Speaking of hearts, I still need to pay the funky farm girls down the road a visit. I was waiting til my truck was done so, now, I have no excuses. I've been trying to think of a gift to bring them, but I can't think of anything good. Maybe, now, that I'm not so preoccupied, something will pop into my head. I'm really surprised, in a good way, how rare loneliness has been, now, that I'm back out in the country. There's no need to wear airbuds with some audiobook playing in my head to drown out the sounds of suburbia where I had been trapped for the past three years. Now, the silence of the woods keeps me company. Sometimes I'll play a little music, but only to celebrate the moment and dance around like a dork while I'm working on my projects.
October 12, 2021, Thorndike, Maine
It's 4 o'clock. I'm parked by the edge of the field. The sun is still out and bright. It's hot for mid-October and I'm savoring these days. Yesterday, at exactly 4 o'clock the sun was out, too, and it was just as beautiful, but something very bad has happened in the last 24hrs. I only know because I can look at my phone and at 3:59pm I called 911.
It's my fault. I was being careless.
I want to thank Tyler, Barb, George and the gentleman would took the call and kept me on the line until the ambulance arrived. I, also, want to thank Becca, the doctor, nurses and everyone at Waldo County Hospital in Belfast who helped take care of me. It was pretty surreal going from living the life I normally lead to all of a sudden being surrounded by so many people.
I was lying on my back under my truck disconnecting the rear drive shaft so I could grease the u-joints. There's only four bolts and three of them came out fairly easy, but the last one was on top and hard to get at so I crawled out from under the truck and drove it a few inches which rotated the shaft enough to reach the last bolt then threw it back in park. As I was lying back under the truck removing the last bolt, I'd forgotten to move the blocks of wood that were behind the back wheels up against the tires to take up the distance I'd just created so when that last bolt was removed and I tapped the driveshaft to break it free, the whole truck immediately began to roll down the little hill I was parked on with me under it. Despite the fact that the truck was in park disconnecting the driveshaft from the transmission is like putting it in neutral and because there was enough distance for the truck to build up speed before rolling into the blocks instead of being stopped by them, it just pushed them out of the way.
As soon as the truck started rolling backwards, I knew I was in trouble. It all happened so fast that there wasn't enough time for me to roll out from underneath before the front wheels got to me. Getting stuck halfway would have been worse so I flipped over face down and tried to get as low as possible, but there wasn't enough space between the ground and the front axle so it crushed me as it went over me dragging me a little before letting me go as one of the wheels went over my left leg then kept rolling out into the field. Something sharp must have went over me because it ripped a pretty deep gouge across my forehead. I couldn't breathe. I lay there face down in the dirt. It was like my chest and lungs had been squished so much that they wouldn't expand and fill back up with air. All I could do is wait and fight for a breath, but my body wasn't responding. Then gradually, the pressure relinquished and one short inhale at a time my ribcage began to expand like someone was filling me back up with air with a bike pump. I rolled over on my back and was confused for a moment by why my head and neck immediately felt wet caused by the amount of blood running down my face. I didn't know how badly I was hurt and I hated the thought of having to pay for an ambulance to come and all the medical bills that would follow so I looked at my car parked beside me wondering if I could climb into it and drive myself to the hospital. My phone was across the field plugged into my small backpack solar panels being charged. I decided risking the possibility of passing out while trying to drive the 20 miles to Belfast was not a smart decision so I got myself to my feet and gradually put weight on my leg to see if it could support me. It could and I walked over and called 911. For some streak of luck, I had reception and the call went through. I usually keep my phone in airplane mode or off while I'm here so it won't drain itself trying to constantly find a signal because I usually don't have one. I later learned that cell phone 911 calls use all available networks not just the one a person pays for.
I know I asked the gentleman's name who took the 911 call because I wanted to thank him. He stayed on the phone with me so that I wouldn't lose consciousness until the ambulance got there. I feel bad that I can't remember it, now, and for fibbing to him a little because he wanted me to stay on the ground and not move, but I was walking around as I talked to him putting things away like my laptop which was, also, out in the field charging off the little solar panels, getting my wallet, a pen and little notebook, a clean shirt, etc. When I was done taking care of these things, I sat back down on the ground and waited for the ambulance which came a lot quicker than I expected considering I live way out in the country. I believe Tyler is a volunteer fireman who lives in the area. He got there, first, and wrapped my head. I caught a glance of my face in the reflection of my car as I walked passed it trying to get organized before anyone got there and I knew it wasn't good. George and Barb where the EMT's, who arrived shortly after, but I know there were other people there, too, who I wanted to thank, but I wasn't able to catch all their names. I don't know anyone here so I really appreciate them coming to help.
Like I mentioned it happened at 4 so by the time I got to the hospital it didn't take long for it to be past 5 turning the place into a ghost town leaving me to realize that I was stranded there. I've been meaning to get a new wallet. Mine has a ripped outer pocket. I just haven't been able to find one small enough. I like the thin billfold type. I should just look for one online. All I carry is cash and 3 cards; license, debit and a road-side assistance card. There wasn't much cash in it. I felt a little embarrassed surrounded by all these people as one of the nurses was going through my pants looking for my ID after they cut them off me lying there in my boxer briefs. Luckily, I'd just taken a cowboy bath in the middle of the field in the warm sun with a big basin of water and washed my hair so I was actually nice and clean despite the dirt and blood on my face. I know I shouldn't be ashamed of how I live. I believe in the path I've taken with all my heart, but it doesn't exactly stack up materialistically to the high paying world of doctors and nurses. Once everyone was gone, I asked Becca, who I think was a nurse's assistant, if she could disconnect me from everything and maybe find me some pants so I could walk down the hall and use the restroom. She asked me if the doctor had said if it was ok which he had. All the catscans on my spine came back good. I just had muscular damage and skin lacerations down my back, two broken ribs and twelve stitches in my head, but nothing more serious. I couldn't believe my leg hadn't broken. I was very relieved, amazed really. You could almost see where the tire tracks went across it between my ankle and my knee, but I was walking on it fine, pacing actually. Getting out of bed was too hard and I wasn't going to lie back down.
I was facing the reality that I had no one to call and no way to get back to the property. Having walked many miles when I used to travel across America on foot, I got the urge to just walk out of there, but it was just an urge not a rational thought. I hadn't volunteered the information to anyone that I'm presently living out of my truck, the one sitting in a field in the dark with no drive shaft and, of course, it would never cross their minds to ask. This is how I've managed to live so cheaply for so long by presenting myself as reasonably normal person to people all the while living under the radar in a somewhat abnormal way. I gave in and texted the two closest friends I made while living down in Marshfield the past 4yrs. I can't believe I lasted 4yrs down there. I think that's the longest I've lived anywhere, but I believed it was for a good cause and they both immediately offered to come get me despite it being a 4 1/2hr drive. I told them "No, thank you." I wasn't texting them for a ride. It just felt weird not telling, at least, someone I know what had happened, other than the farm owner who I immediately notified while still in the ambulance so he could make arrangements for work, today.
Then I remembered that Barb told me that a neighbor had driven over when he saw the ambulance pull into my driveway and made sure that she gave me his phone number if I needed a ride home from the hospital and the piece of paper was in my little notebook. I met him last week when he stopped by to introduce himself which I thought was an extremely nice thing to do. He is an old fisherman who grew up on Matinicus Island, 20 miles off the coast of Maine. He doesn't live next door, but owns the property and is over there often to work on the little house and garage. I'm going to help him build a ramp for the big car port he has so he can park his boat under it and work on it this winter. It wasn't easy, but I stepped out of my comfort zone and called the number. His wife answered and I stumble through the reason for why I was calling. She already knew and was very nice about it. Apparently, she was with him when he drove over and she told me that he would be there in about 30min.
After he picked me up and we were heading back to the property, it felt like he wanted me to come home to their house, instead, which was a few towns further northeast of Thorndike, but I needed to regroup, clean up the mess I left behind and find a drugstore to get bandages for my face. He reluctantly left me there in the dark and I thanked him whole-heartedly. I think the way I hopped out of the car and immediately got busy doing stuff convinced him that I'd be ok. My two buddies were still blowing up my phone with offers to come get me so I had to drive somewhere where I could get reception and call them.
Alright well, this entry is getting pretty long and I've got stuff to do while it's still nice out. To wrap this up, I had a conference call with my two friends, one is a fire captain and the other is a big wig financial adviser, both in Boston. They have beautiful families and live in big fancy houses, but for some reason we just click as differently as our lives are from each other. I wouldn't let them come get me, but after some consideration, I agreed with them that it wasn't a good idea for me to drive any long distances. One of them spotted me some cash via paypal until I get paid this Thursday so I could grab a motel room for the night (admitting that I couldn't afford it, at the moment, was more painful than the broken ribs) and wash the dirt and blood off of me. It was after midnight by then and nothing was open so I got a few hours sleep and got bandages and some aleve, this morning. Drove back to the property, put the drive shaft back in the truck -I made sure I blocked the wheels properly even though it was on level ground, and drove it out of the field.
I happened to pick up on something from a guest on a the Joe Rogan podcast , earlier today, when I was killing time waiting for the stores to open about what smartphones are doing to our thought patterns. I didn't even watch the actual video. The title alone of one of the man's videos stated how using our phones during the first hour of waking up in the morning is not good for healthy brain function. This rang loud as a bell to me. I use my phone much less than most people do, but still way more than I know I should. Not anymore. I don't bring it with me into stores and I absolutely refuse to look at if I'm walking anywhere. People just look so unintelligent staring at their phones instead of looking where they're going even if they're wearing a three piece suit and I refuse to let myself do it and, now, I'm not turning it on until I've been awake for an hour if I even do after that, unless I'm at work. There's no good reason why I forgot to reset those blocks behind the wheels of my truck, but there's plenty of bad ones.
*Thank you Tyler, George, Barb, Becca, "Griz" and everyone else who helped put humpty dumpty back together, again.
October 17, 2021, Thorndike, Maine
I didn't have to work, again, until Friday. The truck ran me over on Monday so I was hoping a few days of taking it easy would allow me to work by then. I didn't tell the owner of the farm that I'd broken my ribs. I knew he wouldn't let me work if I did. My two buddies who I talked to Monday night didn't agree with me continuing to work, either. I know they just see me as being stubborn, but that's not the reason. They simply don't know what it's like to not have a choice. I can't afford not to work. They have lots of money and they're both plugged deep into the system. If it was them, they might even see the plus side of getting injured, or sick, like a welcomed little vacation from work. They'd just use their paid sick days or maybe even unemployment if they had to. I love my friends and don't judge them, but I do judge how I choose to live and I can't rely on a system that pays people to not work more than it pays those who are willing to. They don't work any harder than me, but make a lot more money because of one fact and one fact only. The system rewards those who work for it and penalyzes those who don't even if those who won't are trying to do the right thing. I've lived my whole life on the outskirts of society never asking anyone for anything. I could never take handouts from such a corrupt system. My mission in life has been to find a better way, a less harmful way regarding the planet and one another so I couldn't very well rely on the very thing I was trying to find an alternative for. Blazing a new trail through the forest which does less damage to nature, ours and the forest's, means not using the one that's destroying it. Some people might be able to tune out how dysfunctional and corrupt our system is more easily than others. We're all responsible for keeping our consciences clear. Some consciences just don't encompass as much as others. I know when I'm doing something wrong and I know when I'm doing something right. I think we all do deep down inside. Some can just tune this out more easily, too, but you can't tune out the truth. Eventually, it comes knocking.
Do I like risking my health in order to live according to what I believe? No, of course not, but I am not the one who composed the system in a way that forces a person to choose between one or the other. I've just tried to use my strength and resourcefulness to hold the course for all this time, but I would never ask anyone else to live like I have. Is there a line that shouldn't be crossed in terms of personal safety and security? Yes. Have I crossed it? Probably. Ok, definitely, a long time ago. When I was in the hospital on Monday, the doctor and nurses kept mentioning "your PCP" and I didn't know what they were talking about so I finally had to ask. I didn't know it stands for "primary care physician" because I've never had one. I'll admit that I didn't like feeling like a second class citizen, but it's interesting how no one at the hospital asked if I had a doctor or offered to show me how to get one. I don't even know which ribs I broke. He just said "One on each side." I would've had him use a little marker to make a small line on each one if I thought of it in time, but I was in and out of there so quickly that I didn't get the chance. I'm not blaming anyone. It's just a trend that's happening everywhere. Hurry, hurry, hurry, but in what direction are we headed? I would never let anyone I care about live like I have. I would adamantly force them to take better care of themselves. I would make a bunch of phone calls, myself, in order to get them the care they needed, but here I am, not doing this for myself.
Even a cat only has nine lives. I'm not sure how many I've used up. I've had some pretty close calls over the years, but luck and instincts have always kept me safe. Even this last mishap could have been a lot worse, but in just a few days I'm back at work and feel fine, not 100%, but ok enough to not give up. I was careful not to pick up too many boxes at a time like I usually do, but as long as I'm careful, I'll be as good as new in no time. I know I can't take it all for granted. I can't have much of this kind of luck left so I need to make some changes. For now, I need to keep working and save up enough for a used camper before winter. I'd like to build something instead, but it's the wrong time of year for that. Actually, I would build something, now, but the owner of the land might get a little suspicious and wonder where I'm living while I'm building it. He came up the other day to pick up his lawnmower and mentioned how neat the place looked, but I'm sure he was scratching his head when he saw how small my sailboat is. I don't think he'd believe that a person could live out of that in the wintertime and I doubt he wants some guy sleeping in his truck on his property even as clean-cut and respectable as I try to present myself. I originally stated that I was looking for a place to park "my camper" so that's what I need to get.
As little as I make, I'm good at keeping things simple and saving so that's all I can do for now. In the meantime, I'll keep trying to meet others who want live close to the land like I do. I love the work-out I'm getting from this job, but the owner and his wife keep to themselves and so does everyone who works there. We've never even shared a beer at the end of the day like I've done at a lot of the farms I've worked on so I might have to try some place new after December which is what the original agreement I made with him was. After working there a while, he asked if I wanted to extend it indefinitely, but I haven't give him an answer, yet.
October 19, 2021, Thorndike, Maine
Oh well, I gave it a shot. I was loading the delivery van at the farm around 4:30 this morning and one of my broken ribs popped out. Not through the skin or anything, but out from where it's supposed to be so I guess trying to keep working was not a good idea. In an ideal world, I would have definitely taken the necessary time off to heal, but, unfortunately, I'm not living in an ideal world. I put some of that stretchy athletic tape across my rib cage and finished the day, but it hurt to breathe by the time I got back to the farm in the afternoon so I had to confess to the owner regarding the nature of my injuries and that I should probably take a week or so off. This was very hard for me to do. I felt like I was letting him down. I hated to tell him. Everything was going so well, too. I'd made it a whole week and was feeling a lot better. I even took out all my stitches by myself on Sunday so my face and forehead are almost all healed up. I wasn't even doing anything strenuous when it happened. I just reached a little too far while twisting in just the wrong way, apparently, and out it popped. Now, I've got to start the healing process all over, again, on that rib. Darn it.
At least, I got a few more days of work in before it happened so I'll have a few bucks coming at the end of the week. I'm still very disappointed, though. I realized earlier, today, when I was still deliberating on what to do, why it bothers me so much. It's because all of my self-worth is based on how useful I am to others. Being injured makes me feel worthless. I'll have plenty of time to write for a while so I guess that's a good thing. I've got a few friends who want some light carpentry jobs done which I haven't had a chance to do so I can get those done, too. I just feel bad for the farmer. He relied on me to get the deliveries done on Tuesdays and Fridays and it's going to be a long day for him if he has to do it. We supply stores from Portsmouth, NH all the way up to Belfast, ME with organic vegetables. Actually, we go all the way to Bangor, but he contracts out those deliveries. There's just not enough room and hours in the day for one person to do them all with the van and trailer he has. Making a living farming is not easy, but I believe in it. That's why I've always been willing to take a pay cut to work on farms. I guess I shouldn't feel too bad. He's doing a lot better than I am. He's got a wife, two young children, one boy, one girl, and a farm of his own. He's living the dream, in my opinion. He just seems a little downtrodden when I interact with him, most days. It's a lot for one person to be responsible for. Growing one's own food to live off the land is not hard for one person, or a small family, to do, but trying to make a living at it is very, very hard to do. It just goes to show how messed up our system is. I don't know. For me, right now, I just have to accept the reality that it takes broken bones a certain amount of time to heal and to make good use of the time off while they are.
October 20, 2021, Thorndike, Maine
I built those ramps for the ol'timer next door, today (for free). I already wasn't planning on charging him when he told me what he wanted to pay me, but I definitely wasn't going to after he gave me a ride home from the hospital. I helped him get his riding lawnmower running and loaded onto a little trailer so he could bring it to the shop, too. He keeps telling me about a lot of other little jobs he has for me if I want them, but I'd rather work for free than for what little he can pay. What I'm making at the farm is laughable enough as it is, but when I have the time I might do some more for him. I've got some friends who own a camp about an hour north of here who gave me the key hoping I'd use it and get some painting done while I'm there so I'm going to give them a call, tomorrow. I got a little done this summer during one visit, but it's bothered me that I haven't gotten a chance to get back over there.
October 23, 2021, Thorndike, Maine
It was chilly this morning, finally. This warm weather has been very enjoyable, but a little unusual for the middle of fall. It's Saturday so I'm off. I still have to take it easy even though I have plenty of projects to do before winter. I worked, yesterday, training Ben, one of the other farm workers, to take over the deliveries so the owner doesn't have to do them. I was very relieved that he stepped up and was willing to do it when the owner asked everyone. It was hard not to grab some of the heavy boxes of squash and help him load and unload, all day, but the owner was jokingly adamant to Ben about not letting me touch a single box. Luckily, he asked if I wanted to do some tractor work, next week, which doesn't require any physical exertion, so I won't be unemployed while I give my body time to heal.
Keeping my phone off in the mornings and for most of the day, when I'm not at work, has definitely had a beneficial affect on my mental clarity. I can remember things much easier and stay present a lot better. All the mental work I've done all these years has not been lost on that distracting device. It is just mental and social temptation and we're social creatures with very active minds so it's constantly preying on our weaknesses. It's power over us is disguised under the notion of giving us what we want, but what it's really doing is giving us what we "think" we want and there's a big difference. If it gave us what we need, it would be a very good thing, but most of the time it's doing just the opposite. I turned my phone on, today, to order some back-up lights for my truck which I haven't been able to find in any stores and I need them to make the flatbed 100% street legal, then I turned it off. A few texts and emails came in while it was on so I responded to the texts and saved the emails to my laptop so I can respond to them later when my head is still clear. None of the people who sent them are here, or any where near here. They're in Montana, California, New Hampshire, Boston and Portland. I will not see any of them over the next few days, weeks or even months, so they are not in my actual life. They are in my virtual life and I don't want to live a virtual life. I want to live a real one. If they lived down the road from me and I'd be seeing them later, of course, I'd respond immediately because it would be relevant to something we're doing together, but most of modern communication is just thoughts that perpetuate more thoughts which rarely turn into action and this, unforntunately just doesn't interest me or amount to much.
Last night, it was fun to turn on my phone, respond to a few emails and then turn it off, again. That was my exciting Friday night, woohoo. What's surprising is that even though it was a pretty uneventful evening, it felt more substantial than watching youtube videos or driving around all night to the neighboring towns looking for a place to have a beer and try to meet new people which I've been unsuccessful at time and again since moving here. I had to drive down the road a little to get a signal to send my emails which I had already written, first, but the ol'timer who owns the place next door likes that I'm around to keep an eye on things because he lives a few towns away so I just parked in his driveway. This morning, I woke up and my old companion loneliness wasn't bearing down on me like it usually is (which is interesting) so I'm able to enjoy being present even more. This good feeling is accompanied by an extra amount of positive motivation so I'm going to try to put it to good use, today. Keeping my mind constantly occupied is not my goal in life. Engaging with the unknown present moment is. That's where the real magic happens, but if a person never gives a "dull" moment the chance to manifest itself in their life they may never get the opportunity to experience it, instead of filling every moment with this technological hocus pocus. In moderation, technology is great, but this relys on a person's strong mental discipline which needs to be strengthened outside of technology. We were all born with the most amazing computing devices that have ever existed, our minds. They are the OG of computers. Nothing else compares. And, nothing else compares to real life and real human interaction, but if a person never experiences either they don't even know what they're missing. Reality is often one step outside of our comfort zones. On that note, I'm going to get bundled up and head outside.
October 27, 2021, Thorndike, Maine
I haven't shaved in a couple days, been too busy at work harvesting to do much of anything, but sleep so I've got a little beard going. I'm typing this with one hand because it definitely feels like late October, now, and my other arm along with the rest of my body is inside my sleeping bag keeping warm. I re-broke my other rib, this morning. This isn't good. I wasn't even doing anything. I was just waking up. I've been careful. Yes, I've been working on the farm the last couple of days, but all I've been doing is running the tractors and a little mechanical work, but that's it! I haven't been doing anything super physical or strenuous. I woke up around 6 and yawned. That's it. Yawning when a person is half asleep isn't even a voluntary act, but apparently I yawned a little too much because "Crack!" My rib broke, again. You could hear it. It was loud. I'm puzzled and shocked. I can't believe this has happened. I suppose if I had a doctor maybe he would've told me that I need to be careful when yawning or stretching of any kind. I don't know. I've felt fine. The right side of my rib cage hasn't hurt at all in the last couple weeks. It was the left side I was concerned about since being stupid and trying to go back to full duty at work, but, now, the right side has to start healing all over, again...from yawning?! What am I going to tell the farm owner? It was just about dark when the two of us called it a day, last night. He thanked me for sticking around longer to help him get the cows back in their pasture and commented that we need to grab a beer one of these nights. I said "Sure." I was glad that we were finally bonding a little.
I, actually, don't mind working late. It's kind of beautiful being out in the field as the sun goes down working with the land even if it was a cold, wet, muddy day. I was down the road bringing in the last container of carrots with the tractor. The electric fence must have been down somewhere back at the farm when the cows got out. By the time I got back, I could partly see him in the dim light shaking his head muttering half to himself half to me that his wife was going to kill him. I've never understood why some wives give their husbands a hard time about having to work later than usual sometimes. I know all wives aren't like this. The good ones are understanding and supportive because they know certain things in life are simply unavoidable, but it's a complaint I've heard more than once from friends who are married. I shouldn't even use the labels "wives" and "husbands." We're all just people regardless of gender or marital status. I can see if he worked at an office miles away and was always going out for a beer with the guys after work all the time, but he was right out the front door in a field chasing cows. He's single-handedly running an entire farm by himself which employs 8 regular workers plus additional seasonal help. He doesn't have time to go out with "the guys." I'm sure she helps with the clerical aspects. At least, I assume she does. I've only seen her a couple times in the four months I've been working there and never spoken to her other than a passing "Hello" so what do I know? I shouldn't speculate. I have no life outside of work. There's no one waiting for me when I get home or wondering where I am so, of course, I don't mind working late. No, that's not true. Even on the rare occasion when I've had a girlfriend, I was still happy to work late. I like getting stuff done. It was her birthday. He mentioned this, as well, so maybe they had special plans. It was my father's, too. I mailed him a card a couple days ago and called him, last night, but no one answered so I left a message. My older brother is living there, now. Haven't heard from either in months.
I'm just dreading telling the farm owner that I need to give my ribs more time to heal before I can take over the deliveries, again. Alright, I need to give him a name. Calling him "the farm owner" is too impersonal, at this point. I try to respect people's privacy and not use their real names, but I've been there long enough. We'll call him "River". It's a little unusual, but so is his real name. I joked around with him when we, first, started working together that for a typical redneck, he has a very unique name. He said, "I know. My parents were hippies, but divorced when I was young." Despite some mechanical setbacks which are par for the course on any farm, I could tell he was beginning to feel good about the progress we were making having someone to run the tractor while he ran the harvester, yesterday. A bin, which is a large 4 foot square container, of carrots weighs close to a ton and he and I brought in 8 bins. That's a decent amount for one day on a small organic farm and there's still a lot more out in the field that we need to get in before the ground freezes. The young guy who's covering the deliveries for me gave his two weeks notice on Friday. It's a lot of lifting. He's going to take a marketing job with an alpaca farm which is closer to what he studied in college.
October 30, 2021, Thorndike, Maine
Kept working. Couldn't let him down. Brought in 12 bins, Thursday, and 8 more on Friday. It was pitch black by the time we finished so I had to use the headlights on the tractor, but all the carrots are out of the ground so he can rest easy before the freezing temps hit which would've ruined the crop. Luckily, it was so dark by the end that no one could see that I was only using one arm. The left side of my torso is junk. It must have been all the twisting and turning, this week. There's a lot to keep your eyes on ahead and behind you when running equipment. He had to run as soon as we got the last bin loaded into the shipping container because it was Friday night and his in-laws were visiting and we'd worked way past quitting time.
October 31, 2021, Belfast, Maine
I got a text, Friday morning, from one of the funky farm girls inviting me to another one of their bonfires, Saturday night. Yes, I'm a wuss and still haven't visited them since meeting them months ago. Anyways, I asked Mick and Serena, a boyfriend and girlfriend, who were working in the greenhouse at the farm, if they wanted to come, but I got crickets in response. People seem to be more socially awkward than usual these days. Later out in the field, I thought of ways how I could've worded my invite better like explaining that the people having the bonfire are less like me, a big truck driving redneck, and probably more socially conscious like them. Serena has all kinds of save the sea turtles type bumper stickers all over her car. I'm very environmentally conscious, too, maybe even more so, but I don't look like it, at first glance. A person would have to get to know me to discover just how far I've taken my beliefs and I don't know either of them very well, but, oh well, I tried.
I refused to spend Friday night twiddling my thumbs and watching yet another movie from redbox on my laptop. It's gotten so bad that I hold my phone, which is usually off, up to my ear as if I'm talking to someone when I pick up the movie at the kiosk because it makes me feel like less of a lonely loser. To be fair, I started doing it when I had a young lady in my life 6 years ago. I'd call her while I was looking at the movies in the machine so we could pick one together. It sort of became a force of habit that has, now, turned pathetic. After River hurried into his house, I climbed in my truck and headed into town to the only bar/pizza place it has. The place was already crowded. There was no where to stand at the bar or to sit at a table so I tried to find an inconspicuous spot out of the way, but there really weren't any. I asked the bartender, who I think was, also, the waitress for all the tables for a menu and she made it clear that I couldn't stand where I was and eat. I wasn't planning on it. I was just trying to get a menu and then stay out of the way, but it's a small place and I had to accept that this wasn't going to be possible which seemed to be amplified by the real or imagined looks I was getting from everyone else in the place. I left a half drank beer on the bar with a tip and bounced. I'm done with unfriendly people.
I got paid in the morning and wanted to fill up my truck seeing as I've been running on fumes since the injury to save money, but wasn't going to pay 20 cents extra which for some reason is the price around here. If it's a hundred bucks to fill my truck (hence owning a smaller vehicle if I have to drive any sort of long distance because I don't believe in wasting fuel), that 20 cents adds up to around 10 bucks. With all the driving I was doing a couple months ago back and forth to my father's, I knew where there was cheaper gas a few towns away. I needed a change of scenery anyways and I didn't really care where. I got gas near Windsor and kept driving towards Augusta and remembered how much I like Hallowel which was just south of Maine's capital. Back when I played a little a music, a good friend of mine was a permanent fixture in the music scene there which for such a small town is very established.
The old downtown streets were bustling as I crossed the Kennebec River and rolled through Augusta and I was tempted to stop, but it looked like more of a high-end dinner crowd than a fun local scene so I kept going. Found a parking spot at the edge of the busy section of Water St. in Hallowell and was planning on walking back towards the Wharf, the bar my buddy used to play at, but there was so much noise and laughter coming from Bruno's, the place that I parked in front of, that I walked in there, first, to check it out. It wasn't overly crowded, but everyone seemed to be having a good time and I asked the pretty lady seated at the bar if there was anyone sitting in the open seat next to hers. She said "No, go right ahead" with a smile. She had sort of an Adele thing going for her, real pretty face, but a little on the thick side -wait, didn't Adele lose a lot of weight recently? I don't know. I'm so out of the loop. Either way, there's nothing wrong with curves. I wasn't trying to pick her up. I was just psyched to be around people who were too busy having fun to be giving me the hairy eye-ball. The server dressed as Batman, a onesy pajama version, not the molded muscle version, asked me if he could get me anything. I asked if they were still serving food, but, unfortunately, they weren't. I told him I'd still take a beer. I just wanted to sit down for a second. It was almost 9 and the work week was over. I was starving and hadn't eaten much of a lunch so I was definitely going to need food at some point which ended up taking care of itself when 50 Shades of Grey, that was the pretty lady's costume, offered me some of her Pad Thai and bacon chicken wings which had just arrived along with a big bowl of carrots which I'd seen enough of all week. It turned out that the place closed at 9pm, but 75% of the people in there worked there so they didn't kick any of us out. When they handed us our bills, 50 Shades, who turned out to be the hostess, asked me if I'd spot her the money and she'd pay me back, tomorrow, because she didn't have any cash on her. This raised a few questions, but I just went with it and paid both of ours as she slid the whole plate of wings over to me and said "Here take these." Her bill was only for one drink, as was mine. I guess the food was comp-ed.
They were all heading to the Wharf, but I casually removed myself from the group along with my chicken wings in a to-go box and hopped in my truck parked out front. They all knew each other and were to busy caught up in multiple conversations to notice my absence. I must admit my eye contact was deliberately sparse at the bar because I could sense where things could be headed with 50 Shades so she became enamored with the tall, bearded bartender. Tagging along was going to require me to do a lot more drinking if I was going to catch up to them and drinking in order to have fun hasn't really been my thing in a long time. Dancing definitely is, but my ribs were killing me so it was time to call it a night.
Okay, now, I have to confess how much of a dork I am because all day, Friday, I was pulling the funniest shaped carrots I could find from the bins in the field which I then carved scary faces in like little pumpkins. I drove around half the afternoon, on Saturday, looking for an exacto knife small and sharp enough to do the job eventually finding one at the hardware store in Unity. They came out pretty good. I melted chocolate and filled in the carved parts the look of a jack'o lantern wiping off the access with a paper towel before it cooled, but I couldn't find a small whicker basket to put them in which for some reason I had it in my mind that they should go in so I drove up to Newport which is a much bigger town that I hadn't checked out, yet, since moving here and it has all the big box stores. It was a little more country than Waterville, which was my other option in the opposite direction, so I was diggin it. I found some baskets, but I bagged the idea, no pun intended, and went with an orange and black striped gift bag which I lined with orange tissue paper. Did I mention I'm a dork? It was getting late so I had to get my butt in gear. It had been raining a little off and on in the evening, not a lot, but it still made me wonder if they were still going to be standing around the fire when I got there. As I pulled up to their place there was a handful of cars parked up by the house, but not a soul in sight. Definitely, no fire. It was drizzling, now, and I contemplated what to do.
I didn't even see any people standing around talking in the windows, either. It seemed very quiet for a place that was supposed to be having a party. Yes, I was late, but it wasn't even ten o'clock, yet. I thought about just leaving the silly carrots at the door with a note, but that seemed a little strange. They were meant to be more of a joke than an actual gift that I leave for people I barely know. I scratched the whole idea and headed back to the field. Today is Sunday and it's Halloween. I man-ed up and drove over there, this afternoon, to thank them for inviting me and to apologize for pulling a no show. As it turns out, Joan, the one who texted me "Fire and music tomorrow at our place 530ish and after if u care to join!" sent it Thursday night, but because I keep my phone off most of the time, I didn't receive it until late Friday morning so I thought the party was Saturday "night", but it was actually Friday. Yes, a dumb dork at that. Good thing Mick and Serena didn't accept my invitation to come with me.
Angie, who I'd never met, answered the door when I knocked, but Joan was home, too, and heard her talking to someone so she walked over and recognized me. She put on her boots and took me for a walk around the property to show me the place, which she owns. It was very gracious of her to stop what she was doing and give me a tour. We sat on the picnic table out front afterwards and talked for a while. I asked her lots of questions about her two solo Atlantic crossings in her sailboat which she willingly answered. I never shared that I've walked across America a few times and could relate to and admire her traveling accomplishments even though it's definitely not the same thing. I write about my experiences here, but I do it anonymously and I don't talk about them much in real life. I don't mind talking about them. It just never comes up until I get to know someone a little better. I, also, forgot to mention that I made them a card months ago and left it in there mailbox or even to ask if they got it. Twice I was supposed to hang out with her and twice the texts got miscommunicated for technical reasons. That seems a little weird. I was a lot more quiet than I usually the two times I was over there and I'm not exactly sure why. I'm the guy who jokes around a lot at work or who will step out onto an empty dance floor in a crowded club and cut it up regardless of what anyone thinks. Made lots of friends that way. Those days aren't over, but things are different, now. Temporarily, if I have any say in it. I just thought I would hit it off with them more than I have which makes me think it's because I haven't been more myself. I don't know. Maybe it's just the broken ribs and not being able to work. Maybe we just don't click. No worries. At least, I showed up and created a moment for us to.
I texted River and told him that I was taking this week off from work. The carrots are out of the ground so he can spare me. Ben is still covering the deliveries for me, but this is his last week so I've got to give these things a chance to heal which means I need to stay inactive the whole time. It's another beautiful day so I drove into Belfast to get some errands done. Then, I don't know. I'm not sure what I'm going to do for a whole week.
November 1, 2021, Thorndike, Maine
I must confess that I'm fully aware of how far off the deep end I've gone, but when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object something has to eventually give or a stalemate will continue to exist and that's what my life has become. I could summarize the whole thing in a few sentences. I took on the system and it seems I have lost, but I'm still breathing so it's not over, yet. An idealistic, inexperienced, young man refused to compromise his beliefs and instead set out to find a better way. The truck that rolled over me the other day definitely kicked my butt, but the system hasn't. I've remained free and somehow the end result has been this smile on my face. The system has, however, systematically chipped away at me year after year as people who were in my life have passed away or fallen by the wayside. This is what it does to all of us, eventually, in different ways. What's at stake is our conscience and spiritual health -if you believe in this sort of thing. We are, all, responsible for what we are aware of and we are, all, aware of different things. Only each individual knows if they are taking responsibility for everything they should.
I remember meeting a girl out on the coast of Oregon in 2008. She had contacted me through couchsurfing.com. I was living on a small sailboat (not the one I have, now) and she was visiting the area and looking for a place to stay. She was in here 20s, I was in my 30s, but we were both still very idealistic. She shared how her father used to be like me, but eventually grew jaded and disgruntled towards life. It was wintertime when she arrived in Astoria and the weather was unfavorable so I told her that I didn't feel comfortable with her staying on the boat with me, but we kept in touch after she went back to Idaho and she visited, again, later that winter along with her sister. It was nice to have a little company for a couple days, but I never saw them, again. We've exchanged a few emails over the years. She's married, now, with kids. What she told me about her father stuck with me because I never wanted to end up like that. Lots of people, all of them older than me, have told me over and over that I'd eventually give up, give in and join the crowd, but I never have. I couldn't. I can't. It's not just because I'm stubborn. Stubbornness is a trait that can be used however one applies it. It can take the form of loyalty, commitment or denial. A donkey is one of the most useful beasts of burden domesticated by humans because it is such a hard worker for such a small animal, but they are, also, known for their stubbornness. I can relate. This kind of stubbornness is a force of nature. I can't give up, give in and join the crowd because of what I'm aware of. I don't judge others for living their lives according to what they're aware of, but I see the world in a very simple way which means how I choose to live determines whether I'm part of the problem or part of the solution. This is my responsibility. This is how I keep my conscience clear. Without it, I'd be lost.
The story that I told myself when I left on this journey applies to us, all, because I believed, and still believe, we're, all, looking for the same thing, happiness. What makes all our lives different is how we define happiness, but a person can't be truly happy unless their conscience is clear. That I know. If I'm going to leave anything of use behind, regardless if I become successful in the eyes of the the material world, it's my contribution to what the true definition of happiness is. One way to define it is by what it is not. I realize that if I continue, I will lose more people and even offend some, but my definition of happiness is not a matter of opinion. It's a simple observation. Like I said, we're all aware of different things. Maybe some choose to turn a blind eye more than others, but don't hate the messenger if you don't like the message. He or she is just doing their job, if they truly are messengers. In this case, I believe everyone's job is to be honest, first with themselves and then with one another. Being honest delivers the truth as it plainly reveals itself to each of us. Whether people can accept it isn't a matter of how accurate it is, but rather of how far from the truth their lives have been built. They may be unable to admit the truth simply because they can't afford to having already bought into something else. If a person wants to live an honest and truthful life, they, first, have to get honest with themselves and then look at how those who are feeding them "information" are living theirs. The most valuable thing in life is a clear conscience, but the most valuable thing in the human world is money and it is becoming more and more necessary to sacrifice one in order to possess the other. This is not a healthy choice to be forced to make.
November 6, 2021, Thorndike, Maine
I'm typing with numb fingers, again. It's been below freezing the last couple mornings, but after living on the road in Alaska, 20 degree temps aren't that bad. What weighs heaviest on my mind is that I haven't been able to buy a camper like I planned, not because one would meet my comfort needs better, but because it's what I told the land owner that I'd be living in. If he happens to show up here unannounced and I'm sitting in the passenger seat of my truck in a sleeping bag it's going to be a little awkward. I've gone so far as to consider offering someone a place to park there camper for storage, which I wouldn't use, but it would look like I had one. So ridiculous. Hopefully, I'll be out of here soon. If I hadn't gotten injured, I would have two more paychecks in my account which would be enough to buy one, but aside from last week when I worked every day, but one because of the heavy rain, I've only been able to put in a couple days over the past four weeks. The saga continues.
Yesterday morning, I was buck naked crouched around the big basin I use for washing when the ol'timer, "Griz", came rolling up the driveway. He's been showing up here a lot and I'm going to need to have a talk with him. I appreciated him giving me a ride home from the hospital, that night, but I've helped him with a couple projects since then to reciprocate so we're square. He seems like a nice enough person, but I've been on the road long enough to know how to read people. My instincts don't lie. There's an angle certain types of people take to disguise their true intentions under the appearance of saying they want to "help" you. It's one of the oldest tricks in the book. Sometimes it's because they're lonely and just want some company. Other times, they're trying to get something else. He went from offering me $14/hr to do some little carpentry projects for him, which is a laughable amount to $10/hr, yesterday morning. When I've volunteered with kids as a Big Brother and on the rare occasion I've had one of them work with me, if they were old enough, I never paid them less than $15 and that was years ago. Now, I'd probably start them at $18. It just shows a kid self-worth so they're not taken advantage of in the future.
I was a little surprised Griz didn't back off once he realized I was in the middle of bathing, but, instead, he hopped out of his car, walked right up close and took a good look which was a little odd, to me. Whatever, I covered myself with my towel and let him ramble on about himself then politely explained that I start at $30/hr doing carpentry side jobs so if a person can only afford to pay me 14 or 10, I'd rather just help them for free when I have some spare time. He talked for a little while longer while I shaved. I wasn't going to continue doing anything else until he left. He wanted me to go up to his camp in Brownsville with him seeing as he knew I'd taken the week off to heal. I told him probably not, but I'd give him a call and then explained that I needed to finish washing up. I was heading back to the hospital and wanted to be clean. More than anything, I think he just wants someone to listen to him talk along with some cheap labor, but he's in the habit of driving up to the owner's cabin at the top of the hill to turn around when he could do it in the driveway just passed where I park so I need to keep my eye on him. He's left notes on my car a couple times so I know he comes by when I'm not here. I haven't known him very long, but in his ramblings he often mentions arguments or run-in's he's had with other people which is a tell. I can't remember the last time I got in an argument with anyone. He's probably harmless, but I'll put a stop to it the next time I talk to him. I call them 90-10's, a person who talks for ninety percent of the time while only letting you talk for 10. Sometimes they don't even realize they're doing it. How they respond to you calling them out on it will reveal a lot about their true intentions.
The sun just broke over the tops of the trees and it's warming it up in here, nicely. The hospital said it could take up to 48hrs before I received the results of my x-rays. I was in a noticeable amount of pain when I got out of work on Friday, but I expected to feel a lot better by the next morning or, at least, in a day or so, but after 5 days the pain hadn't gone away which is very uncharacteristic. I'm, normally, a fast healer so as hard as it was, I forced myself to go back to the hospital and try to be seen. I hate asking for help especially from such a messed up and corrupt business as our healthcare system. I've got nothing against doctors and nurses who are trying to help people, but the system itself is a complete travesty. I've relied on eating healthy and staying in good shape to avoid ever needing a doctor, but when a truck rolls over me, I don't really have a choice. River's been calling me wondering when I'm coming back to work and I don't want to complicate things for him. I need to figure out how long it's going to take or if I've made it worse.
I turned my phone on for a few minutes earlier this morning, but I didn't have any messages. It taking as long as 48hrs isn't ideal, but that's what I get for not having health insurance or a doctor of my own. When you're just a number, the odds aren't in your favor. I had a good talk with River on the phone after I left the doctor's office across the street from the hospital where they sent me. Things slow down a fair amount on any farm this time of year, at least, in the northern states and he's still very pleased that we got such a good crop of carrots so he made it clear that I should do whatever I need to in order to recover properly. He's not going to try to fill my position. I got him through the busy season and he'll pick up the slack himself or piece meal it together with some other farm workers. He made it a point to tell me to stop by and not to be a stranger even if it's going to be a while before I can work, again, even if it's not til next spring or not at all. We'd only agreed that I'd work until Christmas so if the doctors tell me that it's not a good idea to go back to the kind of work I like to do I need to heed this recommendation. As stubborn as I can be, I'm not going to jeopardize the long term use of my body. I could tell River wasn't just being polite which was nice. Maybe we bonded more than I realized. With things open-ended, I'm not sure what I'm going to do or where I'm going to go. The climate in the warmer states is calling a little, but my days of just hitting the road blindly are over. They were fun and exciting and taught me a lot, but seem a little irresponsible at this stage of the game. I haven't heard from my father or older brother in months and I've finally let go of us ever being a family, but taking on the world alone has a ceiling and I reached it a long time ago. I need to find a way to join forces with other like-minded people if there are any out there. My ribs will heal soon enough and I'll be able to work hard, again, in no time.
I've been getting a slow, yet steady stream of responses about once a week from a post I wrote on an online farming cooperative website months ago. Most of them are from other parts of the country, and world, even though I clearly specified that I'm looking for people in New England, but I have heard from a few in the northeast. I could sell the car and the sailboat to put some relocation money in my pocket and hit the road in the truck which isn't very practical fuel economy-wise, but it's much more useful for the kind of work I do when I get to wherever it is I'm going, but I should heal, first. There's a woman who I met through that online post who just bought 50 acres in Vermont and would like me to help her get a farm cooperative off the ground. She's from NYC and came into some money. I'm not exactly sure how. She was an inner city teacher and has no farming experience, but she's ambitious enough to enlist those who can help her. She's already got a couple friends, one with carpentry skills, joining her. She drove over here this summer to look at some land near the farm I've been working on so we got a chance to meet. Maybe I should, at least, take a drive over there and check out her property. I know exactly what my place will look like someday. I've had the image in my mind for a long time, but it would still be great to help someone else achieve their dream in the meantime. She's sent me pictures of the property and I google Earth-ed the address and it has potential from what I can see. The man who sold it to her was living off the grid so a lot of the necessary infrastructure is already there.
It's afternoon and, now, I need to make a plan so I should drive somewhere, call the hospital and advocate for myself. I'll even suggest they email me the x-rays and I'll read them myself. I can tell if broken bones are fitting together properly or not. I'm sure they'll laugh at the idea, but it'll keep the lines of communication alive.
They didn't have any information for me. Two minutes after I called, I received an email that the x-ray results were in. When I logged into my medical page that they included a link to, all it said was that my heart and lungs were normal. There was no mention of my broken ribs so I called them, again, and they told me someone would be calling me soon to go over the results with me. I never heard back from anyone so I called, again, this morning after 9am like they suggested, but no one answered so I left a message. The x-rays are digital, nowadays, and the images are sitting in a file somewhere doing nothing or being shuffled from one computer to another. I just want to look at them. They're pictures of my ribs. I know doctor's offices and hospitals are very busy and I don't want special treatment. I'm reluctant to call, again, and be a nuisance. I don't need them to do anything. I'll pop the darn thing out myself and reset it, if I have to. The longer I wait the longer it's trying to heal out of place. I just need to see the image to know what's needed. I know that sounds like a crazy thing to try and I know part of my frustration is due to the fact that I'm on my own with nothing to distract me from this, but hopefully no news is good news.
November 8, 2021, Thorndike, Maine
By Saturday afternoon, no one had still called me back and no one was answering the phone at the doctor's office. The outgoing message stated that the office was open from 9am to 7pm on Saturdays, but I imagine that it must be very busy on the weekend when most people aren't working and trying to be seen so I didn't bother leaving another message. Unfortunately, now, it was more than 48hrs since my x-rays were taken and I couldn't wait any longer so I called the hospital instead of the doctor's office. They connected me to the radiology department and I spoke with Melissa, one of the radiologists. She was very nice. She found me in the system, but, also, couldn't find any results pertaining to my broken ribs. I asked her about my crazy idea to get the images sent to me and she explained that, unfortunately, that's not even legal plus she's been working as a radiologist for quite some time and rib x-rays are some of the hardest to read. We talked for a little while longer about what my options were, but my cell reception wasn't great and we both kept cutting out so I tried to thank her for her time and effort before we got disconnected, but just before I got off the phone, she offered to burn me a copy of the images onto a disc which I could pick up at the front desk. Surprised at the idea, I quickly agreed, thanked her and said that I'd be right down to pick them up. I'm not sure if she heard me and I was a little confused as to why this was different than emailing me the images, but I didn't question it. I hopped in my lame car, because the hospital is 20 miles away and my car is better on gas than my big truck, and took off for Belfast. As soon as I was in an area where I had good reception, I pulled over and called the radiology department, again, to thank Melissa properly, and to make sure I understood her correctly. Again, she was nice and told me that the images would be on a disc waiting for me at the front desk.
As I was pulled over on the quiet wooded road, I noticed a guy walking a little further down from me. It looked like he was hitch-hiking so I moved my laptop and stuff off the front seat just in case he looked presentable. Some people may think it's dangerous to pick up hitch-hikers, but I've always tried to give people rides if I can as long as they don't look too sketchy. I definitely don't stop for everyone. I trust my instincts. Being an ex-hockey player who has trained mma probably doesn't hurt either, but he looked harmless enough so I pulled over as I approached an told him I was heading to Belfast. He was psyched and hopped in. He was a little rough around the edges, but not too bad. I stayed on main roads just the same rather than taking a short cut like I usually do. He's not in the best place in life, right now, and I'm not going to exploit that to write about it. I drove a little out of my way to get him close to his destination and wished him luck.
At the hospital, I gave my name, birth date and signed for the disc. Sitting in my car in the parking lot trying to get the disc to open on my laptop which was taking a few tries, I received an email from the doctor's office stating that there was an update to my file. I logged in and read the new test results. It was all in medical terms, but I was able to get the basic gist and what it said behind all the fancy words was that the x-rays were unable to show anything. Maybe that was why no one had gotten back to me. I finally got the files to open on my laptop and this confirmed the notes. They didn't show an accurate view of the area where my ribs were broken which is way down on my sides. I texted my buddy, Mr.Boston Financial’s, wife who is a head nurse. I've become friends with her, too. I tried to bring them fresh vegetables whenever I stopped by after work from the farm I was on down there, a couple years ago. I still apologized for hitting her up for free medical advice as I'm sure it gets old after a while because they know a lot of people. She laughed it off and asked how could she help. She'd heard from my buddy what had happened to me, on 10.11, so I sent her a screenshot of the medical notes pertaining to the x-rays to get her interpretation specifically of the words "right lateral sixth rib fracture...left lateral fourth rib fracture...are not visible". Did this mean that my broken ribs weren't visible because the x-rays couldn't show them or because my ribs were no longer broken? She thought it was a good question, but leaned towards the latter, that my ribs were healing and no longer fractured. I didn't. Her opinion was still very valuable to me and I thanked her. I owe her some veggies. She doesn't know what a dope I was for trying to continue to work or that they were feeling fine until a week ago so I walked across the street to the doctor's office. It was, now, 6pm and technically they were still open as dark and uninhabited as it looked inside. I don't know how many times I'd called that day with no one answering, but it was a lot.
I expected, at least, to see a left over patient or two in the waiting area from the busy day they must have had. Nope. The place was empty. A couple of kids (20 somethings) were behind the front desk hanging out. I think I startled them when I walked in so I joked with them a little and then asked if there was a random possibility that there was someone there who could interpret my x-ray results. Another young lady in scrubs walked out back to see if she could track down a doctor. A doctor came out and brought me back to one of the examination rooms. With a smile, she said "This isn't happening and I'm not doing this for you." I smiled back and said "I get it. Thank you very much for not doing this."
After going over the notes a few times and discussing the back history of the disagreement I had with an F250 a few weeks ago, she agreed with me that what the results stated was that the views the x-rays do not capture the area we needed to see and she suggested that a cat-scan might be necessary. She, also, noticed from the notes that I don't have a primary care physician and never have. She offered to be mine and that she could see me next week. Surprised, I said "Ok" and she told that they'd give me some paperwork to fill out at the front desk.
The sun is bright as it warms up the inside of the truck which is nice because a cowboy bath this time of year is going to be brisk. I pulled the truck up to a spot were the brook goes under the driveway through a culvert so I'll have a warm place to dry off compared to the freezing cold water I'll be washing with. It's Monday and my appointment is tomorrow morning. In addition to shaving and bathing, I need to call a bunch of phone numbers that one of the nurses gave me, last week, to sign up for some type of medical insurance. I'm fairly broke and unable to work; this should be fun. I don't like asking for handouts. After going over some of the paperwork, I discovered that the woman who met with me on Saturday evening is an FNP, not a doctor, but I guess a family nurse practitioner is pretty close to one. Being somewhat eager to hit the road, it has crossed my mind that I am getting in deeper with the "party" that still hasn't called me back, thought that the x-rays they took were the appropriate image for lower rib fractures and that a woman might be asking me to turn my head and cough, tomorrow. I must confess that I'm getting cold feet, no pun intended.
November 9, 2021, Thorndike, Maine
I haven't been to the doctor's in a long time, like decades, and they ask a lot of new questions and they ask them over and over so after the third time being asked the same question by a third person, I decided to give them a glimpse as to why I've never had a doctor or health insurance. I confessed the details of my living situation and lifestyle which is a first for me. It's not something I tell people about (I just write about it endlessly here, instead). I wasn't going to bother the nurses and medical assistants with my sob story, but I figured if the doctor, sorry, FNP was going to imply that she genuinely cared about my well-being then I decided I'd give her a chance to prove it. She wasn't impressed and neither was I with her reaction, but no worries, no harm, no foul. She was more concerned with emphasizing how unsafe I am by not wearing a mask all the time than she was about the fact that I have two broken ribs and living out of my truck in the onset of winter, but that's fine. I only had one reason to be there which was to obtain the results of my x-rays. I wasn't looking for a doctor or health insurance. It's still all a racket to me, no offense to anyone. That's just my opinion based on my life experiences. Every thing in this world gets turned into a business emphasizing the fact the money is more important than anything else, including people. Putting a price tag on taking care of one another simply reflects, to me, how sick we are as a society. Later this evening, staring up at the night sky through the trees, it dawned on me that she never looked at the wound on my forehead which had required eleven stitches, which I took out myself, even though I mentioned that I still can't feel that part of my cranium. I would've thought a doctor would have, at least, wanted to make sure it was healing properly or maybe taken a peak at the bruising going from the back of my neck down to my butt. It was the first time I'd seen a doctor since that night in the emergency room. I would of expected some follow up questions. I'm fine and have no complaints other this darn left rib, but the more I thought about the visit the more it left somethings to be desired. Reflecting on it all, I wouldn't have even had that appointment had I not showed up at the office and politely insisted to speak with someone, last weekend.
When we did get around to my ribs, she'd forgotten some of our conversation from Saturday, but I'm sure it's hard to keep so many patients fresh in one's mind so we went over the notes from the previous x-rays, again, and concluded that they were a little ambiguous so she agreed that taking new images was a good idea. She ordered x-rays, not a cat-scan, from a different angle and I walked across the street and had them done. Hopefully, they will show the area we need to see so I can figure out why my left side hurts so much. My right side feels fine. It did cross my mind while we were sitting there trying to figure out what the notes meant that the person who wrote them is somewhere on staff at the hospital. Why didn't we just ask this person what they meant? Instead, we took more x-rays which was fine with me because the first ones didn't show the area we needed to see in the first place. Don't ask me why. Well, fingers crossed, I'll get the results in a day or so. Alright, enough with this boring medical talk. It feels like I'm complaining.
Why would someone resort to living in their car (or truck)? This, to me, is a much more interesting topic. I remember when I was studying film, acting and music in college after I'd finally let go of becoming a professional hockey player, back when I didn't have a clue. It was common to hear stories about famous actors and rock stars living out of their cars before making it big. That's were the idea came from and that's why it seemed acceptable to me. It felt like sort of a rights of passage. I had already been the lead singer of a band in Portland, but writing songs about things I felt very strongly about didn't feel like the best use of my time and energy so once I spent enough time in LA living out of my '67 Mustang convertible that I'd driven cross-country in, I decided that the people who would discover me if I ever were to be discovered really weren't my kind of people. I didn't need to be discovered by anyone. I had already discovered myself. That was good enough for me. About a year later, I got myself on national tv on my own terms and had offers for my own reality show and even went to NYC to meet with some of the producers, but I ended up passing on all of it. Again, I wasn't impressed with how they did things in that business even if some of them were the biggest tv and music stations on the planet. At that stage in my life, I was still just a suburban white boy who was way too idealistic, but having played a lot of sports growing up and always having summer jobs once I was old enough to work, usually in the construction field, I new the meaning of hard work and this was an ability I preferred to lean on, rather than stroking my or anyone else's ego. My other major was philosophy. So, I took the practice of roughing it out of my vehicle, or back-pack, and applied it to a different dream.
This first, more superficial, dream was vital because the relationship we have with our heart, if this is where our dream is truly born, is an evolving one. A person has to start somewhere and eventually their true dream will begin to take shape like rendering a picture with many brush strokes. Part of this process is being brutally honest with oneself to determine if our dream is ego based or spiritually based. The difference is monumental with grave consequences if we're not honest and careful. I quickly realized that my early dreams were ego based. The whole darn industry was and this was ok for me to realize. It was just part of the process that I was whole-heartedly committed to. I wasn't interested in being a one trick pony. My heart, all of our hearts, encompass something much greater. I think being a young man who had to work to make ends meet while pursuing his dreams taught me a lot. There's a universal language to work, actual work -not just making money and we learn this language with the more real work we do. It's a skill set that once developed can be applied to any situation or kind of work. It's one of the most useful abilities a person can have. The power of this language is that it filters out a lot of the bullsh*t in the world. It cuts right threw it. Pardon my language, but it needs to be said. There's far too much of it in our world and it's time we start trimming the fat.
I didn't want to just sing or act about truth, problems and solutions. I wanted to live according to them. Maybe I just wasn't a good enough actor or singer or maybe I already knew what the truth felt like and I wasn't going to compromise that relationship for anything else. It was all I had. We didn't cover all this in the doctor's office, today. We didn't cover any of it, actually. She just said "I'm going to put 'homeless by choice' in your file" and we moved on. This didn't sit too well with me. I've never considered myself "homeless." I prefer "free spirit." Like I've said many times, we are all responsible for what we are aware of and we are all aware of different things. Right now, I just want to go back to work and keep fighting the good fight. One possibly favorable thing about the visit was it seems that living below the poverty line for most of my life may have qualified me for some health care. The nice lady who did my paperwork seemed to think so, anyways. We'll see. Eating healthy and staying active has got me this far.
The words "by choice" definitely stayed with me after I left the doctor's office. Like I mentioned, I hardly ever talk about this stuff because not agreeing with how we're living as a culture is often associated with whiny, unhappy people protesting about things that aren't the real cause of their unhappiness. They're just looking for someone else to blame it on. I'm a happy person who's just looking for better alternatives than simply turning a blind eye to what we're doing to the planet and one another. If a person believes in doing the right thing, they will most likely tell you that they don't have a choice. They know the difference between right and wrong and that's all there is to it. Denial, lying to oneself or over-rationalizing something out of convenience is a choice. It's very hard for one person to reconcile everything that the world throw's at them. All we can do is be honest about how we feel, rely on our true beliefs and go from there. Complaining isn't the answer to me. Finding a solution that I believe in and quietly applying it to my life is. That's my choice. I'm not going to stand at an intersection and yell at everyone who drives by that they're going the wrong way. I'm going to find a better way for myself, if I can, and let anyone else who's looking for the same thing follow it. I just have to get there, first. I definitely have on the inside. Thank God. Manifesting it in a human-made world is the challenge, now, which, for me, is largely based in the natural world. I'll leave the laboratory to the lab rats. I'd rather be a country mouse.
I don't care that the doctor, or anyone else, doesn't get why someone would live like I do. I know the difference between right from wrong. We all live in different realities and we can only do so much. I just wish we were all working together rather than only working for ourselves. We've been divided so that we can be conquered. When you walk down the street and see a homeless person, a true homeless person, not one of these lazy scam artists, but someone because of early childhood trauma or mental illness simply cannot function in society, do you rush over to them, take them by the hand and bring them home to your house? Of course you don't. You're only one person and you don't have the resources to truly help them. Yes, maybe you could offer them a shower and a hot meal, but how long would it be before they were back on the street? It takes a village. Where has the village gone? I'm sure Native Americans have an opinion on this. Most people are too busy, working, paying their bills and raising their families, if they have one, to stop and think about this. I wanted a family, too, but not if we were going to be dependent on such a wasteful polluting system. I told myself that I wasn't going to start a family unless I had enough land to provide them with food, water and shelter and working on farms making what I made I quickly discovered this was probably never going to happen. It kills me that I may never get the chance to become a dad, but I know with all my heart that starting a family for selfish reasons will only perpetuate the problem of being dependent on an unsustainable system for the world and for my children when they become adults so for them, the family I may never have, I'm staying true to the truth that I see. If doing the right thing doesn't make a person a lot of money, maybe it's the system that needs to change, not the person. The world would be a better place if it did.
Imagine what would happen if doing the right thing made you more money than ignoring it. Any jerk can become a millionaire. In fact, the less a person cares about the world and other people the easier it is for them to make that much money. That's what's wrong with the system in a nutshell and this is the charge of future generations to solve. Don't listen to those who created the problem and want you to become dependent on it. Find a better way. Create a new value system that rewards people for doing good for each other and the planet and maybe even penalizes those who don't. The world will begin to improve immediately, but we have to start with admitting, at least, to ourselves the truth we already know. It's not about picket signs and protesting. It's about getting to know ourselves and the truth within us and simply applying it to our personal lives in revolutionary ways. That's the real change. We don't need anyone's permission to save the world. We just need to start by saving that secret part of our ourselves that dies a little every time we do something that we know isn't right. Each of our lives are what make up the world and we only get one to live. Make them mean more than just being consumers. Let the so-called leaders follow us. We're the ones paying their salaries, anyways.
Wo, that was a lot. This is what happens when I'm no longer too busy working to write every day.
November 11, 2021, Thorndike, Maine
I need to figure out what's next. I love the simple country life and escaping the crowded, superficial suburbs this summer was definitely a huge benefit to my sanity, but, now, I need to tweek the specific type of country life I'm living. This was the first time I've ever moved to an area for a job. I usually decide where I want to live, first, and then find a job in that area. In this case, I didn't care where it was. I just needed to get the heck out of Dodge. Finding the type of job that I knew I'd like was good enough and this was true, but, now, that the dust has settled and the season is winding down which means my hours will be lessening when I go back to work, I'm a little further from some basic necessities than I typically prefer. It was great that I was able to land a spot to rough it only 5 miles from the farm, but I'm 20 miles from a full size grocery store, lumber yard and auto parts store and these are my basics. I'll often google one of the big box lumber yards on a map and see where they pop up because this will tell me if a community is big enough to have everything I need within a short driving distance. I don't want to live in a town that big, only close enough to one to get what I need. The combination of higher gas prices around here and longer distances to drive has affected my expenses a little (not to mention being unable to work for the past month) and with the kind of budget a farm worker is on, this ends up being a lot. I never realized just how much because I usually pick my spots the other way around. Anyways, it's good to know for future reference. Obviously, the fluctuating gas prices aren't helping. Usually, gas and living expenses are cheaper out in the country, but not in this case, probably because it's close enough to the coast which brings a higher cost of living.
I know River wants me to stick around indefinitely, but our original agreement was that I'd work until December. I hate disappointing people, but that's how I screwed up healing from my injury in the first place by trying to please others. It's certainly not his fault. It was my choice to keep working. I knew we needed to get all the carrots out of the ground, but I, also, know this is a weakness of mine that I need to guard against better. Regarding the job I signed up for, he's only going to have one day of work a week for me, now, and the rest of the time he's hoping I'll help him build a new barn and loading dock which is not something we agreed on, originally. I can make a lot more money doing construction somewhere, else, compared to the farm wages I get, but he mentioned he could pay me more. We'll see. Building a barn while he's living in a big farm house and I'm living out of my truck in the middle of winter would be a challenge for me to reconcile in my head, but we get a long pretty good so I'm just going to be upfront about things and see where we're both at. I need to be practical and realistic. I have my own dream, too, and it's not living like I am. This is just a sacrifice I've been willing to make to get to where I want to be.
November 16, 2021, Island Pond, VT
It's pretty close to a full moon, tonight, and the lack of clouds allows the light to reflect off the snow creating long shadows across the field from the pine trees along its edge. It's so bright out that I might even get bundled up and go for a walk. I have the top of this little mountain all to myself except for the deer and maybe a black bear or two. It's been such a mild fall that a lot of the bear may still be around trying to fill up their bellies before their long winter nap, but it's been snowing for the last few days at this elevation so winter finally feels like it's here. I have a decision to make. Stay here and join some new possible friends in creating a small, off the grid, homestead community with an emphasis on spiritual growth or take a new job on the same ol'type of farm I've always worked on while I keep working towards my own similar goal alone.
After not hearing back from the doctor's office for a couple days, I went to the hospital and got all my x-rays and cat-scans to compare them myself. My ribs seem ok. I just aggravated my left side a lot by going back to work too soon and it just needs more time to heal so I took a drive over to VT to check out the land that Mary, the woman I met a few months ago, just purchased. She headed back down to NYC, this morning, but I'm going to stick around and do some carpentry projects on her cabin for her before I head back to Maine and see about a new job. It's a nice log cabin with a small second floor and a full walk-out basement. It's not exactly off-the-grid like she mentioned. It doesn't have any solar panels, but a small generator instead which is not my style, or Mary's, so we just rocked candles and oil lamps for lights at night instead of using the generator. It's still a nice place though. I guess it had panels, at one point, so it shouldn't be too hard to incorporate new ones into the electrical system that's already here. It has running hot and cold water, a bathroom, shower, a stove, refrigerator and furnace that all run on propane. And, a wood stove, of course. All the finish carpentry was done well. It wasn't just thrown together. I got to meet the previous owner who is going to stay involved in what Mary is trying to create. We all took a hike around the land. He and I come from different backgrounds. He bought the place from the people who built it, but I think we could be friends. I haven't met her other friend, yet, who, also, has some carpentry skills. He's out in Colorado until the end of February, but she's very confident we'd get along great. I got to read sort of a mission statement that he wrote about the type of place he wants to create and I think she's right.
More than anything, I'm taking the time to weigh my options and help her out a little in the meantime. I don't think it's wise to make a big decision until a person has stepped away from it for, at least, a day to clear their head. It's easy to get swept up in the moment when we're surrounded by a specific environment, but not until we've removed ourselves from it and looked at it more objectively can we see whether it's the best for us. She's all set money-wise as a result of a bad accident she had at work a few years ago, but being out of work for the last month has put a strain on me that makes me very eager to get back to work somewhere, anywhere, to replenish my resources. On the other hand, I don't want to miss out on what could be a very meaningful opportunity. I'll have time to think about it all when I drive back to Maine. My most immediate concern is handling my present job responsibly and not leaving River without a paddle.
The landowner, who technically is my landlord, called me while I've been over here in VT which is a little out of the ordinary. He lives a couple hours away from where I've been staying and our interaction has been minimal. It turns out that someone else wants to live on the property. I was a little surprised and asked him how they met because he told me that I could stay there for as long as I wanted, but, to be fair, I hadn't made it clear as to how long I was staying. My little ad that he responded to this summer stated that I was only looking for some land to rent until the end of the farming season so not knowing what my plans were for the winter he started looking for someone else, just in case. We had a nice conversation and I felt good, actually, that he'd found someone because I wasn't looking forward to telling him that I'd be moving on if that was, in fact, the decision I was going to come to because he liked having me there. It sounded like he was giving me the chance to veto the idea if I did want to stay, but the people who contacted him are a young couple with a small child looking for a place to park their camper. The man is starting a new job as a mechanic in Bangor and they just need a place to land until they get settled so I was more than happy to give up my spot to them, or even temporarily share the field. I mentioned to the landowner that I might be relocating to VT which sort of indirectly answered the question as to why I hadn't parked a camper of my own there. Close enough. Awkwardness avoided. Mary seemed to think that losing my place to live along with almost being killed by my truck a month ago was the universe's way of telling me that I should move to VT and join the team she is putting together. It is one way to look at it. We'll see.
November 21, 2021, Scituate Harbor, Massachusetts
I don't want to lose this good feeling. I left VT, made it over to Maine, switched vehicles, loaded up the truck with all my tools, headed south to sell some of my yurts in Mass and stopped by a farm in southern Maine on the way where I'm considering working, next. Lots of options in the mix. My ribs aren't quite healed enough to go back to work, yet, with all the lifting it requires which technically makes sense because the doctor at the ER said it takes about 6wks and it hasn't been that long, yet. I'm just used to being a quick healer which I would have been had I not over did it a couple weeks ago. Live and learn. In the meantime, I need to keep working in some fashion to make some money. I'm parked by the ocean near the mariner where a buddy keeps his tuna boat. I know this area well. I grew up at the next port down and have hopped on his boat many times to help him out. I should stop by and see him, but I can barely keep my eyes open, at the moment. I haven't slept much in the last few days. I've been too excited, but haven't been able to burn off the energy since I'm supposed to be taking it easy so it turns into mental energy keeping me up later. Wah. There's always a little rush which accompanies returning to an area where I haven't been in a long time so I don't want this to lull me into a false sense of security. It's very crowded down here. There's people and traffic everywhere and it's a whole different ball game from the simple country life I've been living so I have to be careful and stay grounded from all the over-stimulation especially since I have a lot of old habits here from long ago. The trick is to not fall into these habits as familiar as they may seem.
I reconnected and stayed with some extended family in the Boston area, last night, because I hit so much traffic on my way down who I've been distant from for far too long because of those old bad habits. It was great to rekindle those ties and meet some new additions to the family. I've got a bunch more friends to see while I'm in town, too. I didn't even know it was the week of Thanksgiving until I got here. That's how out of the loop my vagabond bachelor life is sometimes. The key is to do things differently this time, both mentally and physically, so I won't be going over to my father's house, the house I grew up in, where I believe my older brother is, now, staying until I have a definite plan and exit strategy. I have to go there because that's were the yurts are, but I'm a little anxious about it which is good because it will force me to keep things simple and safe. Get in and get out. I don't want to get sucked into old roles and baggage. I've done too much work to risk reverting back to any of those patterns family can sometimes trigger. I never want to live like that, again.
It's nice sitting here. I just woofed down a bowl of cereal. I got here early and the sun is, now, breaking through the clouds over the ocean. Two of the upsides to this time of year and being in an affluent area is that I no longer have to buy ice for the cooler to keep my food cool and there's a Trader Joe's not far from here. They have cheap healthy food, but we only have one in the whole state of Maine.
December 1, 2021, Brant Rock, Massachusetts
I'm parked by the ocean, again. I swung by my buddy's after I left Scituate harbor the other day and visited with him and his wife. It was nice. Today, I'll swing by the pier in Green Harbor which is right around the corner and see if I can catch another buddy coming in from lobstering. The ocean is pretty calm so he most likely went out, today. Plus, I want to see how his new boat turned out. He bought it last spring and cut the transom off it to make it an open stern and he was working hard to get it re-fiberglassed before the start of this year's season. Lobsterman in Massachusetts have been restricted from fishing between Feb and May by the state. They weren't happy about this and I don't blame them. A lot of them, including my friend, fished all winter long. It's their livelihood and when the restrictions were imposed it put a lot of hard working people out of work. It had nothing to do with how many lobsters are in the ocean which is at a healthy number. My buddy prefers an open stern style lobster boat so he, or the sternman if he has one, can throw the traps on the deck of the boat after they've been checked and baited to let them slide off the back into the ocean. His new boat is much wider than his old wooden one so maybe he even took on a sternman this season. I was the only guy he'd take with him on his old boat because there wasn't a lot of room for two people and I'm a skinny spider monkey who can jump and climb around the boat to stay out of each other's way, and we went to high school together so we've known each other a long time.
Well, the honeymoon of being back in a familiar area ended and it hit me hard like I was preparing it might. It wasn't because of any lack of mental diligence on my part. I was doing well in this regard. When I went by my father's to disassemble the smaller of the two yurts and load it onto my truck, I received some heavy news. I call them "yurts", but they're really round wooden cabins. I've always been fascinated about what it would be like to live in a round structure. I've heard that round rooms have better feng shui than square ones which makes sense because everything in nature is round, beehives, bird nests, beaver lodges, tee-pees, igloos, etc. Typical yurts for sale, today, are more along the lines of temporary structures and lack the sturdiness and warmth of a permanent building. They're more substantial than a tent, but much less rugged than a cabin or house so I designed and built a new type to address this and to try living in a round space. I liked it and they became very popular. More people wanted one than I really wanted to build. It seemed like more of a novelty item than a viable living space. I'm focused more on tiny houses, now, which I have a lot of experience building, too. They're not round, but they address many sustainability issues in a more practical way.
When I finally made it over to my father's two days after I got back, the front yard was a mess. The place was covered in leaves. Apparently my brother hadn't picked up where I left off regarding property maintenance so I postponed working on the yurts and spent a couple days cleaning up the place. I crashed in my truck the first night up by the freeway in a big parking lot that a lot of people use like a park 'n ride which felt a little silly, this being my hometown, but I wanted to be safe mentally and this was better than exposing myself to a negative environment. I just think of my big truck as a teenie tiny house. Some of my friends got wind of this and gave me a lot of shhhhh....gave me a hard time so I took one of them, who lives just down the road from my father, up on his offer to crash in his finished basement, also, known as Barbie land. He has two young daughters. We cleared out a spot among a lot of pink and purple plastic toys and set up a bed frame and mattress. It has a door leading to the outside so I could come and go as I please. It was very uncomfortable for me to accept his offer, but I tried it for a couple nights then went back to my truck. What can I say? I'm low maintenance and would rather feel free in my own little space than in someone else's more comfortable big space, but it is very helpful to know that I can go by there and crash, grab a shower or join them for dinner. When you've been on the road and on your own as long as I have, it's hard to let people help you, but I talk, and write, a lot about how we all need to step out of our comfort zones in order to grow as individuals, and as a people, so that's what I need to do, too. I'm lucky to have people down here who care about me. Another friend offered me a camper that he and his wife bought about four years ago, but have never used. This is more my style. And, I have another friend how owns a piece of land a couple towns away that he's offered to let me farm so I might tow it over there and set up a little homestead if I'm going to be here longer than I expected as a result of the news my brother delivered.
I was just about done cleaning up the leaves, on the second day, when he came out of the house. He wasn't there, the first day, but his little mercedes convertible was in the driveway, this time. It, now, has Massachusetts plates rather than California. I found a car cover in the garage and draped it over so it wouldn't get hit with any leaves, dirt or little pebbles while I was running the lawn mower and leaf blower. Sadly, I don't know him very well. We've never been close even though we're only a year and half apart. I've always wanted to be close, even friends, but I finally accepted in my adulthood that this was never going to happen. He tried to make small talk and I answered politely, yet minimally which is uncharacteristic for me. I'm usually full of energy, ideas and conversation. When he realized that small talk wasn't interesting me -not to be rude, but to keep myself grounded, he finally said "Ok, here's the deal..." and explained what was going to happen.
They're selling the house and moving somewhere like Florida or Texas, maybe to a 55 and over community. I didn't know younger people can live in those places, but, apparently, they can if they're accompanying an older family member. It's a good that my father won't be alone. This is why I toughed it out for 4 years down here so he wouldn't have to go to a nursing home. My brother's been here 4 months and they're selling the house. The odd thing is that this was my idea when I, first, got back in 2017 for a wedding and after visiting my father decided from the state of things that he shouln't be living alone anymore. I called my brother soon after and even suggested that we sell the place and move someplace together where we can all live. We could even get a piece of land that I could farm for us and we could each have our own place making sure my father's was all on one level so he didn't have to contend with stairs anymore at 83. He didn't seem too interested in the idea and didn't think my father would ever agree to it, but I knew he would if my brother and I were on the same page and doing it together. He'd realize that this is what my mother would want for her family. Now, it's happening without me. That part doesn't feel too good. I've wondered had I not come by to clean the yard and get my yurts when they were going to tell me. They're the only immediate family I have, but it makes things very clear which is a good thing, I suppose. Can you here the violins playing in the background? Wah. The good news is that all the work I did while I was here for those 4 years has actually beared fruit in other areas except, ironically, in the one area I came back here for. Every friend I just mentioned in the above paragraph I made during that time. We were, all, strangers before I came here. Now, we're friends. I think it's the longest I've lived anywhere as an adult. I thought family was a worth it enough to keep me here, the worthiest of all causes, but what I have to learn and accept is that family doesn't necessarily have to be biological, despite how I wish it to be.
I found Sean on his boat just like I thought. He was surprised to see me. The boat looked great. It's got so much more room than his last one with a heated wheel house including wrap around padded seats and a cabin down below that you can stand in with bunks along the wall. His last one just had a standing cockpit on the deck which offered little shelter from the wind and cold when we fished in December and January. Lobsterman had a banner year this season. Prices were as high as $9/lb. off the boat so he did very well. He even took on a sternman. This afternoon, he was still at the dock sorting through some of his brother's gear, who's, also, a lobsterman, that he'd just brought in for him. The south shore got hit pretty hard a few weeks ago when a bad storm blew through with 90mph winds and a lot of guys are still trying to find and salvage what's left of some of their traps. We talked for over an hour checking out the boat and catching up on each other's lives.
I'm still a little anxious about staying here too long, but I may not really have a choice for the time being. I popped another rib out, yesterday. It wasn't even one of the broken ones. They're down along my sides. This one is right across my chest. I was working on my truck in my buddy's driveway, mr.Fire Captain with the Barbie basement, while he cleaned up leaves in his yard and "Pop!" I did it, again. I was applying a lot of strength to a big breaker bar trying to free up a bolt that was being difficult when I heard a sound and felt something give. I, actually, looked around underneath the truck where I was lying to see what had broken not realizing it was my rib that made the sound. It didn't hurt, at first, but I new it would start to within an hour or so. I kept working, but by the night I couldn't breath without feeling a sharp pain. Needless to say, I crashed there contemplating what in the world I was going to do, now. I'll be hearing from the farm in southern Maine any day, now, and they're going to want me to start within a week or two. After I stopped by their farm which was absolutely beautiful, the husband spoke to the wife and we all had a long conference call the other night that went very well. They were going to let me park a camper somewhere tucked out of the way on the land and maybe build a couple yurts for their guests and students to stay in. Now what?
First thing in the morning, I packed up my stuff and was loading it into my truck when my buddy walked over in the driveway to ask me what I was doing. I told him that I had to leave. I couldn't keep accepting help from people. It felt like I was getting into deeper debt with no light at the end of the tunnel and I couldn't allow this to happen. I didn't know where I was going, but my rib was even worse, now, and I knew I wasn't going to be able to work anytime soon so how could I pay anyone back? I had to get away and clear my head.
December 2, 2021, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Talk about old patterns kicking in. I'm often tempted to completely delete entries like the previous one out of sheer embarrassment or, at least, change the font color to something other than black like maybe pink or yellow so people will know to skip over my mental self-absorption, but it is what it is. This blog, even though it's public, is not for anyone's entertainment. It's for my sanity. A person just needs to get stuff out of their head and if they don't have anyone to talk to then they should write about it in order to make sense of whatever they're dealing with, to see how unhealthy a situation is, how inaccurate their perception is or how just plain stupid they're being. Documenting experiences in this way accomplishes two things. By doing so publicly, the light of day allows me to see what I normally wouldn't be able to privately. It forces me to look at things from someone else's perspective which is what we all should do when evaluating our thoughts and actions. "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." (Mathew 18:20) I'm not a religious person, but a person can learn from all of life's different paths in order to live a better one. My higher power is truth and the truth comes in a myriad of forms. To be "gathered in my name" represents, to me, to be gathered in search of the truth because the truth is what connects us, all. When we do this, something greater than us is present which is what I meant by "the light of day." If I can't gather with anyone else interested in the truth, I can, at least, write about it. The other thing this accomplishes is it leaves a trail for someone else, also, trying to do the right thing to relate to even if their version is completely different from mine. If more people see others trying to do the right thing, more will be willing to try. I know I don't write enough about all the truth I see because I'm too busy with the details of trying to live on a day to day to level in this complicated world without compromising my relationship with the truth in the process. This is why I try to keep my life so ridiculously simple, like crashing in my truck when I have to, so that I don't get pulled off course from all the distractions and comforts of this mind-made world. The natural world is where I'm trying to get back to. It's the world that gives us, all, life because it's built on the truth.
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.