November 27, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
I called it a day around 8, last night, which has been the usual time for the last couple of weeks. I sat in a foldable lawn chair inside the tiny house looking out the opening for the door (I still need to build a door). It was cold and dark, but peaceful and I didn't want to leave. Like almost every other night since starting construction, I sat there with a bittersweet euphoria that accumulates by the time the end of the day arrives so I usually walk around the work area staring up at what I got done that day daydreaming or I'll sit in the lawn chair in the field under the night sky and enjoy the moment. I moved the new trailer up the hill beside the small enclosed one to work surrounded by nature. The moon has been very bright the last few nights so I didn't even need a headlamp. As I'm sitting there in the house, it starts to rain, but I am relieved because the walls are up and the roof is on. I just finished stapling down the waterproof underlayer a few minutes ago. Today was a hard day because I was anxious about getting the roof done before the rain came which the forecast informed me was coming. I've been really trying to enjoy the building process by taking my time with every stage and often doing more than what's necessary as a precaution, but, today, was rough. I was angry and pissed off which is unusual for me these days and I didn't like it, but I had to keep working. Some of the lightweight materials I've used to build the house should not get wet so once they're attached it's crucial to get the roof on before any inclement weather arrives. I got lucky the previous day because it was very sunny and I was able to paint the whole outside of the house. There were thin pieces of ice floating in the gallon of paint that I broke through when I stirred it, but the bright sun warmed the walls on the house enough for the paint to dry quickly despite the 30 degree air temperature. Once one side was painted, I drove the truck up into the field, hooked on the trailer and spun it around so the other side was facing the sun and painted that side, too. I was so happy that I could barely contain myself -lucky, more like it.
I made a decision sitting on the roof of the house in the dark, last night, before the rain came and before the roof plywood was covered. I thought, "You can't allow yourself to feel this way ever, again." I wasn't feeling very happy at that moment. I'd just realized that the typical aluminum drip edge that I usually use which I just attached to the house was going to make the roof surface one inch too wide for the roofing panels I'd bought. This is not good. It completely defeats the purpose of the roofing panels. I've roofed a lot of houses and water is a very tricky thing. Everything needs to be attached in the correct way and in the correct order to prevent water from infiltrating the inside of the house. The drip edge sticking out beyond the roofing panels means that water can find its way in between these two materials. This would have disastrous results the first time it rained and I could smell the rain in the air. I needed to rip off the drip edge that I just installed and get a narrower style that will attach flush to the plywood and not protrude out 1/2 inch on each side and this was not going to happen at 8 o'clock on a Sunday night. It was like a giant had pulled out the ground from under me and down into the grand canyon I fell as I sat there on the roof. I've got to stop living like this. If I don't do everything exactly perfect, the consequences shouldn't feel like it's the end of the world, but this is exactly what it feels like. No more. When am I going to learn? Yes, it's made me really proficient at a lot of things because I have no choice. The alternative is unbearable.
I took a long breath as numbness overtook me, assessed the situation and decided to cover the roof with some cheap painter's plastic. For some reason, I bought two rolls of the stuff the other day and one sheet covers the entire roof completely. They're very big sheets. Two is even better. I don't even need to pull them off. The roofing paper and panels can go right over the plastic after I get the proper drip edge. I could hear the first drops of rain land on the plastic like tiny needles tapping on tin as I calmly stapled it down. I didn't care what happened, now. I had my plan. Those little drops came and went, but the rain didn't so I took my time and picked up all my tools and the entire work area around the trailer and covered everything with tarps like I do every night and rather than grabbing the chair and sitting in the field, I decided to sit in the house instead for the first time and that's when the rain finally came. I didn't want to leave. I just sat there peacefully. When I eventually decided that it was time for bed, I even considered grabbing my sleeping bags and sleeping in the house, but I opted for a warmer option seeing as I didn't have to go far. The truck was parked right beside me. There was no point and driving it out of the field after using it to spin the trailer around, yesterday. I had enough food in my cooler for another night.
I've said it a hundred times. I need to make a change. Yes, I can use concerns about the weather or finances or the state of the world to justify letting myself become stressed or short-tempered, but this is not an acceptable way to live. Giving into corruption and compromise isn't a solution either so what other choice do I have? Never giving up is all I know, but there's got to be a better way, a less lonely one.
January 9, Scituate, Massachusetts
Parked at the driftway as the sun is going down over a high tide with the water as still as a lake, I remember two summers ago at this very spot hopping around on the bow of my sailboat barefoot and tan after spending a couple of 90 degree days staying cool on the ocean. Can't believe it's been two years. It's a lot of work putting a 26' sailboat in and out by yourself, but I was willing to do it rather than give up on trying to enjoy life so if I can get there once I can get there, again. The image is burned in my memory, no pun intended. It was my birthday and I spent it completely alone even though I grew up here. If this didn't tell me something, the message is loud and clear, now. How the beauty of these scenes make me feel, the one through the windshield of my truck and the one in my mind, gives me hope. So much for not reminiscing .
January 11, 2023, Kingston, Massachusetts
"They're 75" she said as she walked away from the computer next to the cash registered towards a door that led out back to the junk yard.
"For just the rim?" I replied.
"Oh, no worries then," as I turned and walked towards the front door to leave. "How much do you wanna pay?" said the owner who was standing in the lobby among the clutter of car parts eating his lunch on a stack of tires that came up to his belly.
"How bout 50?"
"Nah, I can get that next door, but thank you. I came here first to see if you could do better, but I appreciate it. Good to see you guys," which made it sound like we knew each other and we don't, but I was just trying to sound friendly seeing as I was leaving and taking my business elsewhere.
"Alright well, let me know if you change your mind."
I called my favorite junkyard, earlier this afternoon, before I headed to scrap-yard-strip in Brockton to make sure they had a rim for my truck and the guy told me $50 which was a little higher than I expected hence checking the yard next door, first. I'm probably just used to Maine prices. Everything is more expensive down here in Mass even used car parts. 50 isn't bad. It's a 3/4 ton truck. They're over 100 new and I just needed a rim for a spare. I discovered after I crawled under it a couple weeks ago (they're mounted under the bed) that it didn't have a spare tire when I bought it. It would have been nice if the guy that I bought it from had mentioned this. Serves me right for assuming. In his defense, it wasn't his truck. He was selling it for his father-in-law. Anyways, that was today's project, to find a rim, tire and store a spare under the bed. The tire was only $35 and they mounted it for free. I taught myself how to mount a tire on a rim by hand a couple years ago, but it's a lot quicker and easier with a commercial tire machine like the one they have.
Before I left the junkyard, my favorite one, I remembered that I didn't have one of those long rods that you slide through the hole in the bumper to lower the spare tire from under the bed. They're usually stored on the floor of the truck along with the jack behind the passenger seat, but I noticed it didn't have one of those either when I was cleaning out the truck so I went for a walk through the junkyard and rummaged around in the Ford truck section way out back. This is why I like Everett's . They're very organized for a company in the type of business they're in. The whole place is a giant grid categorized by make. They even have wheelbarrows lined up by the gate at the entrance for customers to use so they can wheel their tools out with them or to bring back a heavy part if they're pulling one off a vehicle. It took me a few trucks but I eventually found one of those foldable rods and the guy at the pay counter didn't even charge me for it.
Of course, I discovered that I need some silly security adapter that fits onto the end of the rod to lower the spare tire cable so I headed back into the junkyard to rummage around some more, but couldn't find one. Not the end of the world. I was planning on just mounting the spare with a chain and a padlock, but I figured I'd try to use the stock set-up, first, if it worked. I watched a youtube video on how to remove the bracket mechanism and pop off the security feature so that'll be my project for tomorrow. I poked around in the Toyota section for mr.Finance while I was there. The heated seat in his Tundra stopped working, but they didn't have any newer ones with this fancy option.
I got a lot of writing done as the year was coming to an end. Finished a couple new chapters in my book and went back, read and corrected as many typos as I could find in every one of the earlier chapters. There were a lot. So why was I going on so much about awareness in the last post of 2022? Awareness is why I live the way I do. It's why I get so bored with the superficial small-talk that most people, even my friends, seem only willing to discuss. I see mountains upon mountains of subjects that everyone knowingly or unknowingly just look right past every day which forces me to carry it all by myself in my mind and it's exhausting. No, I'm not feeling sorry for myself. I'm sure most people would probably say "Well, that's your choice. No one is making you carry it all," and this is why I tried to elaborate on the significance of awareness. We, all, have different levels of awareness and many people use different strategies whether intentional or unintentional to distract themselves from the levels that they don't want to deal with which I can't seem to ignore. I don't see the logic in ignoring or distracting myself from matters that affect my life and the world I live in. Maybe it's just pure arrogance that I think I can actually do something about these issues that bother me. Maybe so, but I know I can't live while pretending that they don't exist so that's why I carry them. It's not a choice. It would be like telling someone not to smell the dead skunk that they just hit with their car. That would be impossible. What would it take for the person to somehow block out such a strong smell. I can't imagine what they'd have to do and maybe most people can't imagine why I've lived the way I have, but no one has to agree with it. I've never expected anyone to. What if the ability to smell skunks made you a million dollars? Then everyone would want to learn how to do it. What makes it so difficult isn't the physical conditions. It's all the pretending. I don't have one single friend or family member who's ever even asked me why I live how I do. This is what kills me. Everyone just goes on ignoring the elephant in the room. Elephants are heavy. How can I develop an honest relationship with anyone when I'm fully aware of all the things they're not telling me or not willing to talk about?
I have a hat. It's one I wear on a regular basis. I made it. Well, had it made. I designed the logo and image and ordered it online. I've been wearing it for over a year and it has the photograph and name of this blog just like it appears at the top of this page. Do you know how many of my friends and family have ever said a word about it? Zero. I never talk about this blog and I very rarely mention my book, but I know for a fact that if any of my friends or family had written or were trying to write a book I would for damn sure ask them about it. Why doesn't anyone? They're more than happy to talk about all the safe superficial bullsh*t that everyone talks about. I'm not mad and I'm not looking for a gold star or special attention. I just want someone to have the balls to be real. I'm only shedding light on a subject that is always present despite anyone's willingness to acknowledge it.
I suppose there is the possibility that they're actually not avoiding all the issues that seem so obvious to me, but a lot of my friends and family members are very intelligent people. It would be hard for me to believe that they aren't aware of as much with how successful many of them are. A lot of people I see walking around everyday acting like they've got a good handle on life fall into this category, too. My point is pick one or the other because you can't have both. Either you're not smart enough to be aware of the matters that concern those who are and you should check your ego at the door or you are intelligent enough and you're choosing to ignore them. Which one is it? Because I'm done giving everyone a hall pass. Within a month or so, I'm going to lose any physical connection to this place and maybe that'll actually be a good thing as painful as these past few months have been. Maybe I'll finally be free. Maybe the solo life I've lived will finally make sense.
January 12, Kingston, Massachusetts
I've said it a hundred times since I started this blog that it's not for entertainment. It's a tool and nothing more. I'm not a friggin blogger and don't want to be. These are confessions because this is all I've got to work with. I'm just a stubborn fool trying to not go insane or blow my brains out, but that last entry was still way too cringy so I had to write something, tonight, just to bump it out of relativity. Deleting it would be the chicken sh*t way of handling it. I guess in a way it's good to "hear" myself sound like such a wuss because it allows me to put my situation into perspective. Yes, I try to use writing here as a sounding board like a surrogate Jiminy Cricket to bounce things off of, but the other reason, if there is one, that I allow myself to broadcast my personal life into a public realm is because I still believe this plight is a result of one person trying to do the right thing in this messed up world and I think other good people might relate to this. I'll admit that a long time ago a temporary solution of living like I do seems to have become permanent, but the only difference between insanity and perseverance is the motivation behind them. Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results may actually pay off if the motives are true and I believe that they are even if I sound like the world's biggest wimp once in a while. So what? Big deal. I can't be afraid of this. How else am I going to learn? I know I'm not one. It's just a mental mind f... sometimes. I wish I could just go back to work on a farm somewhere and get some darn exercise instead of waiting here in limbo for people who don't know anything about me to figure out their plans which don't include me as what little money I have continues to diminish. Wah. Alright, I'll dial it down.
I worked on my truck a little, but I need to grind off some bolts to remove the spare tire assembly and my grinder is in Marshfield with the rest of my tools so I worked on the plow instead to make sure it's ready for snow if we ever get any instead of all this rain. I started a new chapter on imagination , too, and got an idea that would require making t-shirts to promote a new challenge for young people to create a better future for themselves and future generations. I know it sounds pretty pipe-dreamish, but when has that ever stopped me.
February 11, 2023, Estero Park, Cayucos, California
Parked by a familiar spot along the ocean just up the road from the old saloon I used to dance the night away at when I lived near here years ago. There's probably too much to recap, but needless to say I'm here on the west coast finally getting a moment to sit down, take a breath and figure out what's next. I finished helping my brother and father move into their new house a few hours south of here closer to LA, yesterday. They left the east coast a couple days before me in a rental car and were staying in a hotel waiting for me to arrive in the big moving truck with my brother's car in tow. Driving my father across country in a two-seater mercedes was just not practical. They were going to take their time and sight-see, but it became to tedious for my father so they just drove straight through instead. Unloaded the moving truck the night I arrived with mr.Model's help, transferred the storage lofts that I built and installed in the back of the truck into their new garage to optimize space so the place wasn't completely cluttered. The house is nice, but no where near as big as the old one so there's a lot of extra boxes. I did a few handyman projects around the place for the last couple days and then hit the road. I felt bad about leaving. There's still more I could do for them, but someone's got to be looking out for my best interest, too, so I had to go. The clock is ticking and I haven't worked in a while. Emptying the old house and moving them out here has been a full-time job for the past three months. Now, I need to get back to Massachusetts and move all my tools and stuff out of there so they can sell that house. Still not sure where I'm going, but I've got a few days to think about it and I love it here on the central coast so this is a good place to regroup. The sun is out. It's in the 60's. I'm parked along the PCH with nothing, but miles and miles of coastline between me and the rolling green mountains that come down to meet the ocean.
Got to see a good buddy, last night. I just showed up at his door and surprised him. He just laughed. We talked a couple weeks ago so he knew I was heading out here in the near future. We hit a meeting and we're going to meet up, again, this afternoon and catch up some more. Got to see someone special unexpectedly, last night, too. I've got a few things to figure out. Mr.Model is in LA and wants to ride back across the country with me and I'm dreading having to tell him that I'd rather he didn't. I love him and we've been friends since college, but the paths we've taken in life couldn't be anymore different. I picked him up in Albuquerque on my way through there earlier this week and he road with me for the last leg of the trip to LA. He was pretty baked when we met up and talked my ear off the whole time. When he called me from Miami and said that he wanted to fly out and meet me somewhere along the way, I told him that we'd be roughing it not staying in hotels and he said that he could handle it. It was going to be in the low 20's in Flagstaff that first night he joined me which is where I had planned on stopping, but he didn't even bring a sleeping bag. I had two so I let him borrow one, but he still would have froze his ass off. We both would have. They aren't extreme cold weather bags (hence having two) so I kept driving for a couple more hours until we got to a warmer area after he nodded off in the passenger seat. In the morning, he just left the sleeping bag and air mattress I gave him on the floor in the back of the truck and wandered off to do his morning meditations so I rolled them up, put them away and got some breakfast ready. That was a glimpse.
He came into a big chunk of money recently from the sale of their condo after his divorce and wants to buy some land and have me show him how to farm it, install off the grid systems and build sustainable homes on it which is all great, but these are just ideas to him. He wants to be partners. He says he's got the money and I've got the know-how so it'd be a perfect match. Unfortunately, that's not my idea of a good fit. He's been pushing hard for this for months, now, which makes me a little anxious because we usually only talk a few times a year, if that. I told him I'd think about it, but it sounds like a nightmare. There's a certain kind of language that people who do real work learn. It's not always verbal, but it's a way of doing things and respecting the people you work with. Not everyone has learned this language. It takes work. I'd love to have him join something I was starting if I had the dough because then he could see how much he has to learn and he could quit if it got to be too much for him with no pressure and no hard feelings, but putting him in a place of power in my life would not be wise. He says I could be the boss, but that's not how it would play out if he's putting up all the money. It's just not realistic. I'd be working for him and I can't work for someone who has no idea what they're doing. There's another way and that's what I'm working towards.
February 13, 2023, Morro Bay, California
I'm still on the central coast. Something else happened when I rolled into town on Friday, but I haven't had a chance to write about it which has always been the double-edged sword of having this blog. If the primary reason is to fend off loneliness and the day finally comes when I don't feel alone anymore, this blog will cease to exist. It is a tool not a narcissistic rant and I'd happily put it down and channel my efforts into something real. As it turns out, I haven't felt so alone for the past few days. Though I mention the people my life overlaps with in this blog, I leave out a lot to respect their privacy. Plus, I can't fit all of real life into words on a screen. No one can which is a good thing.
February 14, 2023, Santa Barbara, CA
February 15, 2023, Superior, AZ
February 16, 2023, Monahans, TX
February 17, 2023, Athens, TN
February 18, 2023, Southington, CT
February 19, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
As I was driving back across the country this week, I had plenty of time to kill so I listened to years 2016 and most of 2017 of this blog to check for more countless typos and grammatical errors and possibly to gain some perspective. I have one of those text-to-speech apps (@Voice Aloud Reader) on my phone that turns any word document into an audio file. It's pretty handy as an editing tool or for listening to pdf books while I'm working. What a nut job! Listening to myself whine about every different work environment I was in or finding something wrong with every situation I was in was horrifying. I just wanted to slap myself. Nothing I can do about it, now. Everyone has crazy sh*t running through their heads. I'm just dumb enough to write it down. Whatever. It's only a fraction of who I am and it has helped me. That was the point. Not to look cool. You try writing down your inner most neurotic thoughts and see how you sound. I'm sure a day or week from now I'll be horrified by this post, too.
I turned it off in early September of '17 after returning from Alaska. I couldn't listen anymore. I knew it was going to start getting depressing. It's a shame that I wasted over 5 years coming back here. My intentions were worthwhile, but my efforts weren't welcomed. I had come so far and made so much progress up until then despite all the pitfalls and brushes with danger, but it was all about to start going right down the drain and I didn't need to relive it. I'm finally about to escape it. One thing I've learned from some hard experiences in life is that some mistakes are unavoidable as painfully pointless as they may seem. Sometimes they are, unfortunately, the only way we are going to finally learn, accept or realize something about ourselves or our life that we have been unable to see up until then. I suppose the more stubborn a person is the longer this might take regarding certain issues. I'm pretty stubborn. When it comes to not giving up on a difficult challenge, this is a huge advantage. When left to my own devices in a hopeless situation, it could be a death sentence. I know all too well that I should never get between a person and their denial. I will be seen as the problem instead of whatever they're denying. Some people are not ready to look at the truth. Some may never be. It's not my job to show them. It's definitely not my job to try to make them. My only job is to be honest and live my life according to what I believe is true and if it is true, it will make me truly happy. Happiness will be the proof. Nothing more is needed. Easier said than done.
Pride, guilt, obligation, fear, desire and, of course, denial can block us from seeing the truth, let alone doing anything about it. I've said it many times, "It takes a village." In a perfect world, if we were raised in a village, most of our needs would be naturally met by such a communal lifestyle and we wouldn't have to compartmentalize our lives in the very mental and artificial way we try to meet them in this day and age. There's plenty that happened before I started using writing to help me learn stuff many years ago that I may never talk about in a setting like this. Looking back at the kid I was, the elders of the village, if there were such a thing, would have recognized that my father and I were not a good match and they would have made sure that I spent time around men who were more like me. This is just one advantage of a village. Instead, I had to run and roam all over the world trying to get what I never got and learn what I was never taught. Again, some mistakes are unavoidable because we don't live in a perfect world and we don't live in a village. Maybe the more wild-spirited a person is the closer to a natural life they need to live.
I used to believe that if I worked hard enough I could accomplish anything and that's true regarding a lot of things, but not everything, not always when dealing with people, but, again, sometimes we...or I should just refer to myself. Sometimes I have to go through a lot of needless pain in order to finally accept that not giving up on something might be only hurting me. But, the cool thing about life is that if you never give up on one thing, happiness, it's never too late. Only took 5 years of pointless suffering to get back on track.
So now what? I rolled in this morning and didn't know what to do, sleep or write. There's a lot to process. So, I cleaned out the rental car instead, buffed out some little rub marks on the roof from where one of my plastic bins had been riding and got it ready to be returned in the morning. I don't even know how I'm getting back here from the rental place. It's only 8 miles. I'll probably walk. I don't even care. I'm just relieved to be on my own time finally, and no one else's. It wasn't a bad trip back across the country. I didn't kill myself trying to do it all at once, but still made decent time. It was definitely more relaxing than driving out there in the big moving truck, but the clock was still ticking because I knew the rental needed to be here by tomorrow morning. I managed to squeeze in a meeting with a farmer in Virginia, yesterday, who offered me a pretty cool opportunity living on 120 acres. I, also, squeezed in a meeting with a different farmer in Missouri on the way out to California a couple weeks ago, but I'm not really interested in that one. We met at a coffee shop and the farmer was rude to the young guy behind the counter more than once. All set with that.
I wasn't crazy about the idea of driving back across the U.S. I've already done it plenty of times. Flying back made a lot more sense, but my brother asked me to drive the rental that they had taken across the country to return it. Who does that? I don't want to bother anyone, tomorrow, for a ride home from the rental place just down the road, but he's got no problem asking me to drive across the entire United States. He didn't want to get hit with the $1,300 service fee for returning it in California so he just had me take it for another week @$400/wk and return it back here which makes no sense, but don't get me started. I even showed him how to avoid the service fee by using a travel website, like kayak, but he still didn't want to. I'm done trying to figure out people I don't understand. I just said "I'm here to help so whatever you want to do." He's chomping at the bit to sell this place which I'm sure will sell quick. If I didn't stop him, he would have sold it before I even got back so I need to round up my stuff and figure out where I'm going. I guess, technically, I'm still not on my own time, yet, but I'm getting closer. I have more belongings, at the moment, than I can fit into the back of my pick-up, but I can probably whittle it down to an amount that will. This still doesn't answer where I'm going, but I need to do this, regardless, so I guess that's what I'll focus on for the next day or so. I can do some vacuuming and a little more cleaning, too. They left the house a mess so before I followed behind them in the moving truck, two weeks ago, I stayed an extra day and cleaned the bathrooms and the kitchen, but there's still more I could do. My mother would have been furious if she was still alive and saw the condition the place was left in.
Maybe I'll head to the beach here in Marshfield, tomorrow. I have this cool heart-shaped rock that I picked up on the beach in Morro Bay. I've been thinking that maybe I should throw it into the sea. It was once in the Pacific Ocean. Now, it'll be in the Atlantic. Both bodies of water are connected, sometimes just not as close as we'd like. Do I miss her, the young lady I was walking on the beach with when I found it? Yes. The time I got to spend with her means a lot to me. I even shared with her that maybe it was my reward for finally letting go of thing thats I cannot fix or make right. I don't know if she was the reward. She's not a reward. She's a person with her own life and feelings, but it was still pretty amazing, healing, soothing, funny, cozy, chill and even a little hot. The hot part came at the very end and we didn't get to explore it that much. We took it slow, but it was still worth mentioning. I've thought about her a lot driving for the last five days, but there's been no contact between us. I was pissed off at myself after leaving California because the last text I sent her didn't come out right. We had the nicest good-bye, Wednesday morning. Then that evening, I texted her to thank her for spending Valentine's day with me and she responded so sweetly. It was perfect and I should have just left well-enough alone, but, of course, I didn't.
Me: I hope you had a good day and you get to bed at a reasonable hour tonight so you can get lots of rest. Thank you for spending valentine's day with me.
Her: Thank you, I think I'll sleep well tonight. Thanks for coming down and spending time with me and thanks for everything you did for me. I really appreciate it.
Me: It may not have been perfect. I know I made mistakes. We both might be works in progress, but I think we did good. Sleep tight, _____"
I'm such a dumb ass. That didn't come out the way I wanted it to. Whatever, it's just a text and not that bad. Get over it. If the future possibilities of what could be are all hinged on one poorly worded text then we don't have much to build on. There's still nothing stopping me from appreciating the time I got to spend with her. It was pretty wonderful. Every time she leaned in and wrapped her arms around mine or put her head on my shoulder while we were in the car I got butterflies. Damn little suv's with their annoying center-consoles. Where's my big truck bench seat when I need it? Oh well, it was still the best I've felt in a very long time. I'm not going into the whole play by play. Those memories I'm keeping private. I'm already sappy enough just writing this much, but this blog is still the closest thing I have to an objective sounding board so I'm going to use it. There's only one catch to this fact. I told her about it. She's the only person I've ever flat out shared this with. I've mentioned it off-handedly maybe a couple times to people over the last 8 years, but I've never looked someone in the eye and told them all about it. Not sure that was a smart move. She did, however, tell me that she didn't mind if I wrote about us.
Ok, I'm just stalling. I need to face this and get on with my life. The unfair part is that she's probably going to read this, the sweet pain in the ass that she is, and then she'll know how I feel and what I'm thinking, but I won't know how she feels and what she's thinking. What a jip. Well, I'm not going to tell all. If she wants to know more, she's going to have to be brave and ask me...which is true for me, too. If I want to know where she's at with what happened between us then I should just ask her. We're both stubborn and independent in this regard so that might be hopeless. Regardless, on a positive note, I'm going to continue appreciating everything, first. This is all I really need to do anyways. Be honest and let the chips fall where they may.
Ever day dream about someone you once had feelings for and wonder where they are, now, or what it would be like if you got the chance to see them, again? I got this chance. We got this chance. I can't speak for her, but whatever happens in the future, even if it's nothing, I get to hold onto a handful of memories and experiences, now, where there were only those questions and they feel the same way sitting by a warm fire does. That's the best way I can explain it.
It was Friday night and I was sitting in a big room full of people. I didn't know anyone there other than my buddy who I came with, but then I happened to look up and sitting right in front of me two seats to my left was her. I couldn't believe it. We hadn't seen each other in 12 years and it took me a few seconds to realize that it was really her. This is a long time to be staring at someone. Glances at perfect strangers usually only last a millisecond. She must have noticed someone staring at her because she turned her head in my direction and saw me. Our eyes met. She later confessed that she had already seen me before sitting down which cracks me up because she acted like she hadn't, but I confessed that I knew that I was coming to Morro Bay and definitely wondered if I'd see her so we were both doing a little bit of acting. Dorks.
The place was crowded and we were supposed to be paying attention to the guest speaker up at the podium so we just said "Hi" to one another and went back to listening, but later that night, she found me standing outside by myself waiting for my buddy who was still inside talking to some people and asked if she could talk to me. She wanted to apologize for how things ended between us over a decade ago. I reminded her that she already had in an email a couple years later, but it was nice that she wanted to do it, again, in person. We never saw each other after things happened and, now, after all that time, there we were standing in the dark looking into each other's eyes. We didn't talk long, but we hugged, a nice hug, and wished each other well.
As luck, fate or a little good timing on both our parts would have it our paths crossed, again, the next day and she asked if I wanted to grab some lunch. Like I said, we took our time and didn't rush anything, but we definitely got a lot out of the next four days. Yes, in the end, I wish we had a little more time, but I did my best with the time I had and she did her best. In fact, if it wasn't for her, we wouldn't have gotten to share what little time we had. She's the one who made it happen. She rose to the occasion. I was a little taken aback.
She was clear about the fact that she was unclear about her motives for wanting to see me which might make me question whether she came over just to get a little attention from a guy who once liked her or did she do it because it was the right thing to do, but the answer doesn't matter. Life's not that black and white. She did it. That's what's important. She said the right words. If she hadn't, I doubt I would have had any desire to see her, again, because of how things ended a long time ago. I'd be an idiot to let that happen, again.
Maybe because I was only there for a few days, it was perfect for her because then she didn't have to worry about whether she actually liked me. She could spend some one on one time with me and then I'd be gone. Clean and simple. If she did like me, or does, that's a different story. She's a very tough and independent woman. She's not going to tell a guy who's walking out the door that she wants to be with him and doesn't want him to leave. That's not going to happen or maybe she would if it were the right guy. I have no right to make assumptions about her, but in my opinion, this is not the case. I seriously don't think she likes me. She just liked having someone be nice to her for a little while and there's absolutely nothing wrong with this. I was happy to do it. It was just what I needed, too. It was a gift.
Well, I could ramble on endlessly about every little smile and nuance, but I've got to focus on reality not fantasies. When you're walking in the desert for a very long time even a glass of water tastes like heaven. The last thing I'll say is that she's come a long way since I last saw her. I watched her force herself out of her comfort zone and make herself do things that most people would not have the courage or strength to do. She's been through a lot. Both her parents have passed away as well as her grandmother who she was close to. For this, I'll be sending her love and prayers. She's, now, living with her grandfather trying to be a better granddaughter. I hope she doesn't mind me mentioning these things. Like I said, regardless of the past or the future, I was honored that she let me into her life for a few days and shined some light and affection on me. She didn't tell me much, but she showed me. I don't care what her reasons were. I still got to feel it and I can live with that.
February 20, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I realized, today, that even though writing here arose from the need to have someone to talk to when there was no one to be found, I can't use it to avoid facing my fears or talking to someone when I'm afraid to. It's easy for me to sit here where it's nice and safe and type on and on about a subject, but just because it has been helpful in the past for valid reasons when my two worlds recently merged into one after I told someone about this blog I've had to make sure that I'm still writing here for healthy acceptable reasons and continuing to write is not what's going to determine this so I'm going to take a break. Facing my fears is what I need to be doing.
March 11, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
3 weeks later. It's 5am on a Saturday and I can't fall back asleep. Lying in the front seat of my truck might have something to do with this. I figured I might as well write. Well, I screwed up, again. It's embarrassing, but I kept the heart-shaped rock that I found on the beach that day when I was walking with the young lady I just reconnected with out in California. I'm not one to look for cheezy stuff like that, but I just happened to glance down and there it was. I didn't say anything. Her dog was running up ahead of us playing with other dogs on the beach and we were walking and talking catching up after such a long time. I was in heaven. Outdoors, dogs having fun, walking with a pretty girl and maybe seeing a light at the end of a long tunnel so I casually picked up the rock and put it in my pocket. I'll admit I'm a sentimental sap for keeping it, but it's all ruined, now. Earlier this week, I mailed it to her and told her to throw it back in the ocean. I'm such a f*cking ass. I didn't say it in an angry way. I actually tried to be nice and thanked her for spending time with me, but it still wasn't a very nice gesture. A package arrives on your doorstep, it's from someone you just had four special days with, you open it, but it's not a gift rather instructions to throw something away. Not cool.
In my defense, I thought it'd be romantic if I flew out there in a couple weeks after I was done doing what I need to do here and give her the rock that I just found on the beach here in Marshfield and I could keep the one I found on the beach with her. It could symbolize giving our hearts to one another, but I realize people don't think like me. She didn't give me the one I found when I was with her. I found it and took it. She noticed it kicking around in the car for the next few days and later told me on the phone that she thought it was nice that I kept it, but she still hadn't given it to me. It wasn't our rock. It was my idea because I'm such a sap and then I started to feel stupid for keeping it after weeks had gone by without hearing from her so I mailed it back like a dumbass. If she didn't throw it away, but kept it instead then maybe we were meant to be, but I realize, now, that's way too melodramatic. Stuff like this doesn't determine whether or not we're meant to be. We decide by being honest with one another. This isn't a movie. It's real life. But ya, I found this heart-shaped rock the same way I found the other one. I just looked down and there it was. I even looked around on the beach afterwards trying to find similar shaped rocks thinking they must be more common than I thought, but I couldn't find a single one. I had gone to the beach, this time, after I got back from California with the idea that maybe I should throw the rock I found with her in the ocean. "If you love something, let it go" was the thought I had in mind.
We had an amazing time together, at least, I thought it was amazing, but, now, we were 3,000 miles apart and I had no idea how she felt about me. I sent her a text that first Monday when I got back on the east coast, but didn't get a response so I just figured she wasn't interested in keeping in touch. Easy come, easy go is how I thought she was looking at it so I wasn't quite sure how to proceed, but after over a week of no communication I decided to grow a pair and call her. I couldn't just give up on something that meant a lot to me. I had a basic idea of her work schedule so factoring in the three hour difference I called her on a Friday evening when I knew she'd be out of work and she answered. It was a very nice conversation. It turns out that neither of us were getting the texts we had been sending to one another so she was wondering the same thing I was after not getting a response to a couple texts she had sent me. I was driving across the country and changing time zones and cellphone coverage areas every few hours so maybe that was the reason. When we realized this, we were both relieved. We spent 3hrs on the phone talking later that weekend. I felt like I was back in junior high, but it was still fun. We were both doing other things while still on the phone like cleaning, running errands, etc., but then everything stopped. It's been radio silence for two weeks and I didn't just rely on texting. I called a couple times, too, and left a message. We didn't get into any type of fight or misunderstanding. We hadn't decided to go our separate ways or anything either. Our conversations were normal, but then nothing.
I'm not going to lie. I had thought a lot about moving back there to the little seaside town I used to live in where we met years ago to see if we could build a life together. I still have lots of friends there and it's a beautiful place to live in coastal California, but she hadn't told me one single thing regarding her feelings towards me and I wasn't going to push the matter. To me, if it wasn't important enough for her to mention even after I shared my feelings (in a non-clingy needy way) then it wasn't enough to base such a big decision on. I guess she can spend every free moment she has with someone for four days, sleep with them then just forget about them without even saying good-bye. I shouldn't assume that this is true, but I don't know what else to think. I'm not going to keep calling someone who doesn't want to talk to me, but I'm, also, not going to just forget about her or our time together without, at least, acknowledging its significance somehow. Ya, I get it. Ghosting is what everyone does these days when they're not feeling someone, but a lot of people are morons basing their behavior on the mindless patterns established by f*cking social media. My life is not going to be a series of "Oh well, who cares" after every attempt at a connection I make with someone I care about. We, all, meet lots of people randomly and we can't keep in touch with everyone, but when I spend a significant amount of time with someone and she puts in just as much effort to see me as I did to see her, I'm going to give it some due respect even if it doesn't turn out the way I hoped. It's called having class instead of being an emotionless robot. I've thought about flying out to see her when I'm done here. I have to be sure for myself. Chances like this for people like us don't happen everyday, maybe only once in a lifetime. With no pressure, expectations or strings-attached I was going to have our paths cross, again, look her in the eye and see what happened. If nothing did, I can get on with my life. If something did, I would never leave her. I just didn't handle it the right way and, now, I'm being haunted by my over-reaction, but, at least, I tried.
The problem is that if my life was an old fashioned scale, it's too easily tipped to one side. When something or, in this case, someone lands on it, she carries so much weight in my heart that nothing could ever weigh enough to balance it out on the other side. This is why I realized a long time ago that it takes a village. A village with all its people providing each person with their own special place within the community would be enough to tip things the other way, but alone I don't have a prayer. The feelings I feel are too intense and I've failed to find a place to belong. Ideally, we're born into our village, but for too many of us there's no such thing. Maybe only the wild ones need an actual village, tribe, pack, etc. to balance out their wildness while the sheep are fine just living their individual lives. I don't know. Some are lucky enough to have close families which serves the purpose of a village. All this is why I have no business trying to be in a relationship until I find or create my own. I almost feel like I stole those moments with her. Maybe that's why they felt so good because deep down inside I didn't think I deserved them. I usually don't go near a girl unless she's throwing herself at me because it's safer that way. She was very direct about wanting to see me, but because she never admitted any feelings I was completely in the dark and then the scale started tipping further and further to her side as the time went by and there was no communication. I won't play the waiting game. She had too much power over me and I couldn't allow this so maybe I unconsciously sabotaged the whole thing by doing the dumb thing that I did just to end the torment by eliminating an uncontrollable presence in my lonely existence. This doesn't change the fact that I'm an ass, but I take full responsibility for this if she'd be willing to talk to me, but I'm not going to do all the work. That's not how to start a healthy relationship. Still sucks though.
March 12, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I was talking to mr.Finance, this afternoon, and he mentioned that he texted me the other day, but I never got it along with some other texts from my brother and mr.Fireman sent earlier in the week so maybe she tried texting me and I never got them, either. Now, I'm even more of an idiot. I guess I need to update my phone or something. I'm still not going to call her. I already did to make sure she heard from me and knew she could call me whenever she wanted. Things ended between us years ago when she started sleeping with someone else without telling me which is something, according to her, that she continued to do with lots of guys in the following years. We weren't boyfriend and girlfriend, only dating for a little while, but I really liked her. Something just told me to take it slow. I found out the hard way what that was. I'm not going to allow myself to get involved with someone like that. I didn't know she was back then. She says she's not like that anymore, but I still made us wait a few days before we did anything. Yes, I wanted to. She's very attractive, but I wasn't looking to just get laid. I wanted to see if there was something more between us. We never had sex years ago. Just kissed. I don't rush into that sort of thing mostly because of std's, but, also, because I know I feel things too intensely so I have to be careful and steer clear of drama.
I'm not some super needy guy who can't live without a girl. I'm just the opposite. I definitely don't talk about stuff endlessly like I write about them here. This is why I write about them so I don't have to talk a lot. Plus, it's good practice for me, or anyone, to figure out why we do the dumb sh*t we do. It's not something I'm proud of, but I'm usually too independent for the women I've dated. When I've had to break up with someone, I've tried to do it with compassion and plenty of communication. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn't. Some people would rather burn the house down than let you walk out of it with a clear conscience. My secret weakness is that I can't be mean to someone I've been in a relationship with. This is my kryptonite, but some of the women I've been involved with can very easily do this once they realize it's over. It's like they can just flip a switch and the person they once loved no longer exists. For some people, girl or guy, it's easier to let go of a relationship by blaming the other person rather than deal with our own feelings or by immediately starting a new one, sometimes even before the first one is officially over, but I always want it to end on a positive note and wish one another well, first. I, now, realize this is because for that short period of time I felt like I mattered to someone and I can go on believing this if we go our separate ways amicably hoping the best for one another, but if things end badly and they refuse to participate in any type of reconciliation, I have to go back to not mattering to anyone. It kills me to be on bad terms with someone I cared so much about. It's like losing my entire village. I've never wanted to die, but sometimes the pain is so unbearable that a person doesn't know what else to do and that's the only way to make it stop. I've been battling feelings like this every day for over a decade. Writing is the only thing that alleviates it a little when there's no village to belong to. These are just words on a screen so no one will ever know what this actually feels like unless they've gone through it themselves. Over-opinionated and judgemental people can f*ck off. I suppose this is why some people drink excessively or do drugs to block out this kind of pain.
Sold my welder, generator, sawsall, old chainsaw and powerwasher, this afternoon, all for dirt cheap. Sold a bunch of other stuff, yesterday, too. Still sleeping in my truck. It will be the last thing I sell. It's a hunk of junk and I'd like to sell it, now, instead of having to drive it through this yuppie neighborhood everyday, but I need a vehicle until everything else is gone.
I took this blog down for a couple weeks because I told her about it and she read some of it, but I wasn't going to give her full access to all my thoughts and feelings, now, without her offering a damn thing about her own. I don't care if perfect strangers know. She's the only person I've ever told (in person) about it except for I think I mentioned it to the daughter of the super model mother-daughter duo back in 2016 because the three of us were connecting on so many levels, but we were out at a busy restaurant and it was pretty loud so I don't think she caught the name of it. I didn't care. The conversation was more important. With this young lady, I pointed to the hat on my head which had the name of the blog and told her about it proudly because I wanted her to know. She was the first person I thought would actually understand.
I had the one before that for 20 years. They didn't even call 'em blogs back then. I was just a kid and it was more like a sporadic trail of bread crumbs as I wandered in the woods than a day to day diary. Now, I'm trying to save my life and make a map for others to learn from so they don't get lost in the woods, too.
March 13, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
When I took this blog down and took a break from posting anything, it felt like the right thing to do. I wasn't just being petty towards her -on a side note, it's odd that I haven't given her a name like I have with the other people I interact with occasionally. I thought about this when she and I first reconnected, but I honestly wondered if finding her might be the end of all my writing because I had finally found someone who made the need to write go away. Part of me thought she was too important to reduce her to a name nor was I going to reduce what we shared down to writing material for some blog, but I did try to come up with one. Nothing felt good enough. One notable reason why she and I temporarily worked was because I had the semblance of a tribe while I was out there. I had plenty of other things to do while we weren't spending time together and lots of other people to see. There's always a honeymoon period when we first meet someone special, but there's, also, a honeymoon period for returning to a place we once lived. I was still going to have to put in the work like everyone else after this novelty subsided and for the first time in my life I felt good about doing this. I wasn't just excited about being somewhere new like I have been so many times before. I felt a peace that I'd never felt. I even told her about this.
When I say things like "for the first time in my life", I'm reminded of how narcissistic writing here can be and how narcissistic we've become as a culture which is another reason why I felt that taking down this blog was a good idea. It's, also, why I keep this anonymous. Life is not about my life. Life isn't about any of our lives. There's something more important than just one life which is what we all need to realize and I became concerned that writing here was pulling my focus away from this important fact. Hence, the significance of "It takes a village." If we're too distracted by our own self-importance or personal drama, we'll miss out on what life is really about. This is ego vs heart in a nutshell. Our egos are all about self-importance and drama while our hearts are about wisdom and giving.
I'm still apprehensive about writing here just like I'm apprehensive about keeping my phone on all day long. It's not good for us. Having people from anywhere on the planet being able to reach us at any given moment and vise versa is completely unnatural and keeps our brains in a restless distracted state all day long. This is not good. The lack of an actual village is what is keeping us addicted to this virtual reality. A lot of people justify their phone use by asserting that they only use it to stay in touch with their family, work responsibilities and close friends and who could ever challenge or question this? It's all about keeping a balance which is why I keep my phone off for most of the day. I love my short term memory. It's one of my greatest assets especially at work and "smart"phones ruin a person's short memory and their attention span so I have to be very careful on how I use mine and this blog. I'm not looking for instant relief. I've been on this road for this long for anything, but a quick fix.
What the f*ck am I doing?! Why am I writing about some chic who doesn't like me? Wah, poor baby. Some girl never called you back. You poor thing. Get over it. Learning how to be in touch with my feelings has been an invaluable ability . I'm glad that I know how to do this and I'm not afraid of sounding like a bitch in order to better understand a mistake that I have made, but for someone who 'never' talks about women I've been spending a lot of energy on this matter. It's probably because it's such a rare occasion that I even have anything like this to think about combined with the fact that I've been starved for female attention most of my life so even talking about it negatively tempts me in some weird way. I'm pretty sure she's not thinking about me. I was just another dude she slept with. They say "If God didn't exist, it would be necessary to invent him." This is what I did with her. Because I go for such long spans of time without a woman, like a fool I built the experience up into something it wasn't like a nerdy virgin who falls in love with a stripper.
I'm not trying to put her down. I'm an adult and responsible for who I trust. We only had four days together and a couple phone calls. If I was stronger, I could have been more of a friend to her than just another dumb guy trying to fall in love like I'm sure there have been so many others in her life. Like I said, she's very attractive even though there's plenty of times when she puts little effort into trying to look girly. She works outdoors all day lifting rocks, moving downed trees and shoveling dirt doing trail work for a parks service often times sleeping in a tent in the woods after busting her butt all day only to get up the next morning to do it all over, again. There's plenty of guys who couldn't do this type of work. She could easily do something else or just get all dolled up and find a man to take care of her, but she hasn't.
I've met enough adventurous hot girls to understand a little about what life can be like for them. Us guys, except maybe for those like mr.Model, have to put in a lot more effort to meet women. In our culture, a hot girl starting at around 15 years old is instantly like a rock star. They can have sex whenever they want. Guys are always coming out of nowhere trying to get with them. That's a lot of responsibilty and a lot of power for such a young person. Combine this with having a wild spirit, if they have one, and it would be a miracle if she didn't find herself in situations where she was in way over her head before she even knew it and this applies to young women who come from good stable homes. If they don't, the risk is even higher. I'm a wild-spirited guy who put his mother through hell before she passed away worrying about her young son wandering the country from place to place often on foot. I never got into any trouble, but trouble was all around me. All I would have needed to do in order to be neck deep in it would have been to say "F*ck it." A lot of attractive, wild-spirited, young ladies go through a phase where this is exactly what they say. Depending on the circumstances, this can get real dangerous real quick. A lot of times it can happen even if they don't say this. I don't know what she's been through, but I know she's said this many times and a young lady will often say this only after something has happened to them that they didn't have any control over, not before. This is why even though I'm not crazy about how she acted sometimes and won't ever put up with it, again, I'll still always care about her.
One good thing about getting ghosted is that it has forced me to figure out what the eff has been my problem all these years, other than loneliness. It coincidentally started just before I met her a long time ago and it gradually overtook my life. Now, I know exactly what caused it thanks to reconnecting with her and hating how I was acting sometimes by being too nice and avoiding confrontation. I meant well and being open-minded by trying to handle things differently than my usual stubborn self is definitely good practice, but not at the price of not being who I am. She definitely has a, sometimes rude, take it or leave it attitude which I actually admire. I don't like fake people so I envied her "who gives a sh*t" policy towards a lot of things. To me, the challenge in life is to have this type of attitude while still actually caring about people and giving a sh*t about everything. I want to do both, be 100% unapologetic about all that I see and love people and life with all my heart. Granted, it's not an easy way to roll, but it's bad ass and that's my goal in life. Anyone can be selfish. It's a sign of weakness. Only the strong give a sh*t.
Somewhere along the way, I lost my ability to tell things how they are or to call people out when I needed to for fear of how they might react. I wasn't like this before and I loved this about myself. I wasn't mean and didn't go around insulting people, but I, also, didn't hold back when something needed to be said and it's been killing me for years since I lost this freedom. I've been slowly turning into someone I'm not. A fucking pansy. Well when push comes to shove, I would still throw down if I had to, but in the little day to day stuff I somehow lost my edge and haven't been able to get it back until now. This is probably why she lost interest. I was being too nice. Who wants to be with a spineless "nice guy"? This is beside the point. She's gone, but I got myself back as a result. "Never again" is what I've been telling myself over and over since I realized this which, also, applies to how I handled things with her. That was still not cool, but I wouldn't have needed to do it if I was being myself in the first place. By trying to avoid an argument between us, I probably ended up hurting her. Never again. I'm not sure how I'm going to fix that part, but I'll find a way. I always do. It seems a little dumb to waste any effort trying to fix something in regards to someone who doesn't care about me, but I can't concern myself with her attitude. Being true to who I am is my concern. Never again. I'll never lose myself, again.
Maybe the peace I experienced with her had nothing to do with the connection I thought she and I shared and everything to do with the fact that I just freed myself from an unhealthy chapter in my life just before seeing her. I don't know. I lost the opportunity to find out, but I still felt that peace and I want more of it.
March 15, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
The heart is a muscle and muscles like to be worked. This is how they get stronger. Neglect it and it will get smaller and weaker. Still waking up over the Grand Canyon every morning and I hate it, but, yesterday, was a good day. Got rid of some more stuff. Went over to the property in Kingston on Monday and worked in the mud and rain clearing out a creek that was all backed up with fallen trees and debris to help mr.Finance. It was kind of fun, actually. I can't wait to get back in shape. I'm so thankful to be myself, again. It's been a long time living on eggshells that it almost feels too good to be true to be free, once more. Even randomly heard from ms.Flowerchild who wanted another naked coconut oil massage, but I passed. Before retiring to the truck for the night, I even cranked some tunes and had a one man dance party with the wood stove blazing. It's been a while since I did that.
The surprising thing is that it's not some deep dramatic lesson of enlightenment that has freed me. It's something very ordinary. This is probably why I never realized it. I simply had more things than people in my life and it was compromising who I am. Compared to most people, I have very little possessions so having too many things never crossed my mind as the cause of the problem. The catch is that I, also, have very few people. This is a math equation. I'm not feeling sorry for myself. I roamed the country with a carefree attitude for years because I traveled so light, but when I lost two people in an already minimal social landscape even having so little became too much. It unknowingly obligated me to people, some I have known for a very long time, but they weren't actually a part of this landscape. They weren't in my life and didn't know me. This is not sound. One cannot build a life on such a weak foundation. I like to walk heavily on the earth not tip toe. First of all, we're all, born naked. We're not supposed to amass a bunch of useless crap over the course of our lifetime. All it does is weigh us down especially if we have to sell our souls in order to attain it and then continue to do so in order to keep it. How can any of us realize this when the culture that we live in is all about having a lot of stuff.
When my mother and then my best friend, a few months later, passed away in 2005, my world changed, but it took a few years for this to catch up with me because I'm so stubborn. Eventually, this new life circumstance started to pull me down without me realizing it. I remember one night in late 2008 up in Oregon lying on the ground in the pouring rain working on my vehicle in an empty parking lot a very eerie feeling crept in on me. It was something like "Is this the beginning of the end?" I had never felt anything like that before. My motto was always "When in doubt, work harder" and when that didn't work, rage forward. I fixed the vehicle, pulled off my wet clothes and headed on down the road. It wasn't until more than a year later that the feeling returned.
I was on a boat way offshore in the middle of a storm, the other deckhand had cowered under the pressure and was up in the cabin lying down so I had to do double-duty. The captain was pissed, but I rose to the challenge and delivered. I was just a temporary fill-in because the captain of my boat had broken his ribs a couple days earlier in some bad weather and was healing up for a week so he loaned me out to keep me working and making money. The bait was a rotting barrel of mush that smelled disgusting having sat for days in the harbor as the fisherman waited for the weather to break. The captain of this boat was not the type to wait for any weather. I survived the work day and even got a reputation in the harbor for being the kind of mate you wanted on your boat, but the feeling had come back that day. The captain was up in the wheelhouse running the hydraulics, I was alone at the stern bringing in the gear and in between sets I looked up at the dark grey sky and then all around me at the big waves peaking like the teeth of a giant mouth waiting to swallow me up and asked myself "Is this the end?" I wasn't worried about dying right then. I was asking "Are things going to keep getting worse and worse until life's not even worth living because something doesn't feel right anymore."
When in doubt work harder so this is what I did. That was 2010. Sometimes when you don't know how good life can be, you don't know how miserable it's become. I did. I missed that person I found when I shed all the bullsh*t this world and my background tried to dump on me. I just couldn't figure out where he went. I still believed in myself and experienced plenty of brief glimpses of what I knew life could be like all the time, but I couldn't maintain it for some reason. It wasn't until I came back from California and started getting rid of what little possessions I have here that something started to happen. The scale began to right itself. How could it be so simple? I just had too much stuff and no place to keep it. I felt obligated to be someone I'm not to people that my life, now, overlapped with. I don't need people like that in my life, but I felt like I did because I was carrying too much unnecessary baggage. I need to be myself and that's it. This place isn't my home anymore. It stopped being one the day my mother died. My father and brother are strangers to me and this is how they've wanted it. They're in their new house in sunny so-cal and I'm back here sleeping in my truck in the driveway of the house I grew up in. It's f*cking ridiculous. I helped them move and, now, they have no reason to keep me in their lives. That's fine. Someday someone will.
When I was loading boxes and furniture into the moving truck for them, I noticed how dirty the vents in the house were as I repeatedly walked past them, but I just figured it was because my father never dusted since my mother passed away 18yrs ago. When I got back from the west coast, they seemed even dirtier, but it was so gradual that I didn't really notice, at first. A week later there was black soot covering the walls around the vents. Even the carpet was caked with a black crust where one of the vents blew onto it. I put on a mask and within an hour there were two black circles around my nostrils. Then I took a shower and was spitting up black phlegm onto the tub floor. Time to move out. It took a day or so for me to stop blowing my nose and finding black dirt in the tissue. I researched furnaces online and watched a couple youtube videos to educate myself on how to service it, but after talking to a guy on the phone, mr.Fireman had recommended me to, I was pretty sure it was the heat exchanger, a major component. When I changed the filters in the furnace, I discovered that it hadn't been serviced since 2016. This isn't good. Had a serviceman come out this week and he confirmed it was the heat exchanger. The place is being sold soon and it is most likely going to be torn down to build yet another trophy house in this neighborhood so it's pointless to replace the furnace. It's crazy timing that it broke immediately after we moved my father out of here. I'm glad we got him out just in time.
If sleeping on the living room floor of an empty house in my sleeping bag wasn't a clear enough message, sleeping in my truck in the driveway is. Time to let go and move on. I suppose everyone has to say good-bye to their childhood home at some point in their life. We have to let go of loved ones which is even harder. If we're lucky, we realize that it's not the physical building or the things inside of it that make it so important to us. It's the memories and the people who matter. I wish I was closer to my father and brother, but I know I've tried. They are the ones who don't go to any of our family get-togethers, weddings, funerals, etc. Wanting to fly out and see the young lady I got to spend a little time with recently is what motivated me to get rid of everything I have here which caused me to stumble upon my old self in the process. I refused to drive across the country a third time in a month so I had to get rid of everything so I could fly to her completely free and unattached and that's when it started to happen. I'm not sure if making any effort to see her is a good idea, now, that I can see my behavior and hers with a clearer heart. I'm still pretty damn thankful for the freedom and the memories and I thanked her for this in the letter I sent, but I'm pretty sure I said other things that pissed her off. I'll always be willing to apologize and take responsibility for any mistakes I have made and I'll always be open to anyone else trying to do the right thing in their life, but I'm done taking responsibility for other people's negativity. I just got rid of mine. They need to do the same.
March 16, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Sold some scaffolding and fishing rods, today. Pricing stuff so low usually garnishes a little gratitude from most of the people, but some are just takers no matter how much of a deal you give them. I could never work in retail. Grinded the bolts off the mounting bracket, removed the spare tire carrier from underneath the bed of the truck and threw it in a vice. Being so busy helping my brother and father move, I never had a chance to finish this project. The security mechanism on the carrier was so rusted that it wouldn't pop off like I hoped so I grinded off the face of it, drilled a hole in the remaining steel, threaded the hole with a tap, screwed a bolt into the hole, cranked on the bolt with a big crow bar and popped the security lock out, re-mounted the carrier under the truck and cranked the spare tire up and out of the way with the standard foldable bar that every truck comes with. It's too late in the day to pull everything out of the truck and take pictures of it, but I'll do it, tomorrow, then I might post it for sale. Getting rid of it while there's still a slim chance someone might need a plow truck this late in the winter would be better than waiting. The longer I wait the slimmer the chances. When I was hanging on by a thread everyday, all I wanted to do was escape this place and fly somewhere I might want to live so I was planning on keeping the truck until I was done getting rid of everything else, but with my new found clarity, I'm considering a healthier plan. I've showed up in a new town with only a few bucks in my pocket more times than I can count. Finding a job on a farm or fishing boat for a few months, putting on some muscle and putting more money in my pocket might be a wiser decision especially if I end up leaving the country when I do bounce out of here. I'm certainly not going to waste any of my hard-earned money on rent so I should buy a suburban. Car camping in one is way more feasible. I've had a few. They're great when I have a big dog as my sidekick, but as lonely as I am, I won't be getting another dog until I know there aren't any flights in my near future. With vans becoming a new fad, a lot of people are trying the "van life", but living out of one of them always seemed a little sketchy to me. A suburban is a sportier 4x4 version that I relate to better.
I thought about going to "church", tonight, just to be around some people, but, now, that I understand what my problem has been all these years those meetings feel less appropriate. It's an amazing program and can literally save a person's life. I believe this 100%, but the premise for which it applies is not specific to me and I'm done being anything, but 100% myself. I'm just going to have to white-knuckle it a little longer, but I'm done making a habit out of it. There's plenty of lonely people out there who know just what this is like. Here's to all of us.
March 22, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I'm doing so much better. Haven't written in a few days because I didn't think it would help any, but I'm still in a tricky spot with the odds stacked against me so I need to keep kicking butt if I'm going to pull out of this on top and my progress has become a little stunted in the last day or so because I haven't made a definite plan, yet, so I figured I should write about it to gain some perspective. It looks like I have 3 options. 1. Get rid of everything and hop on a plane to a different country and a different culture to take a break from the media brainwashing going on here. 2. Get rid of almost everything, buy a suburban, find work up in Maine or New Hampshire, get back into shape and continue to save up for when I can fly out of here with even more resources. 3. Get rid of everything, fly out to California, buy a suburban, find a job, get back into shape, see ms.Heart of Stone and build up my resources. Even if nothing came from seeing her, at least, I wouldn't have to wonder "What if?" and I'd still rather be working anywhere, but here so that's helpful to realize. Even when I think about flying somewhere international, I get an unsettled feeling if I didn't see her, first. Granted there's a chance that once I arrived in a completely foreign land, I'd have a lot more clarity on the matter and realize that maybe I had made the right decision, but that's going somewhere with a pretty high expectation one that would be much harder to resolve in that situation than it is, right now. Looks like I'm going back to Cali.
March 24, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Well, I crashed and burned, today. Didn't get much rest, last night, and woke up before it was light out, this morning, and couldn't fall back asleep so I've been trying to push through the pain and get stuff done all day. I thought I was clear of this shit. I know life's not always easy, but I can't figure out why I'm back in hell, again.
March 25, 2023, Dedham, Massachusetts
"Men need to be men."
I wrote this statement, yesterday, as I was cleaning out the shed where the remainder of my tools are. While I was working, I, also, had ear buds in using the text-to-speech app that I have on my phone to listen to all of this year's previous entries, which is hard to do because some of them are embarrassing. My laptop was sitting on the work bench in the shed so I could stop and make typo and grammar corrections when I heard one. Again, that's the point of writing this stuff down. I'd much rather talk to someone, but I don't have that luxury. The irony is that if there were someone or a village to belong to, I'd rarely need to talk. I do this so I can "hear" myself thinking these things out loud in order to know which thoughts are sound and which are off base in some way. It all starts with honesty. Because I know that I am a man, I have the confidence to allow myself to sound like a bitch in order to work something out. (For the record, the use of this term has got nothing to do with being male or female, but rather a reflection of a person's attitude). Honesty=freedom and freedom is the objective. Freedom from what? Pain, confusion, indecisiveness, loneliness....or sometimes even from an abundance of positive energy, i.e. to express happiness.
I wrote the above statement down to remind myself to write about it, later. Now, I'm sitting in the front seat of my truck at a rest area just off the freeway near Dedham at 6am. I woke up at 5 on my cousin's couch and couldn't fall back asleep so I hopped in my truck and drove over here to, at least, work on this and get something productive done rather than lie there staring at the ceiling. I didn't want to wake him. He was sleeping on the other couch beside me and had a rough week. They're both in front of the big fireplace they have in their house. His wife and son were upstairs. His dad, my uncle, passed away on Wednesday. He was a man, a 3 tour Vietnam vet, a diesel mechanic, a welder, a father, brother, husband, uncle, grandfather and friend. When I wrote the above statement, I wasn't thinking of my uncle exactly, but it's interesting that I wrote it yesterday morning and, now, I'm here just down the road from his house writing about him.
I was finishing up working for the day, yesterday evening, when another cousin called and told me that a bunch of them were going to get together and have a bonfire to remember Uncle Joe so I drove up to join them, last night. They have three houses, all right next to each other on the same street corner, where my grandfather had a small farm back in the 1930's before Boston absorbed all the surrounding towns into the expansion of the metropolitan area. At one point, there were 6 houses all belonging to my family. I loved going up there as a kid, but my mother, who was the first of 7 to get married and move away, had some kind of falling out with her siblings when I was young and I never got to see them much growing up. When I got older and had my driver's license, I began popping in on them more and more in between road trips and adventures until I had formed my own relationship with them, not to mention hitting up my uncle for free mechanical advice as I was learning how to fix my own car. He knew it all and could do it all.
It's not about being macho or tough. That's not why I needed to remind myself to write about this. Being a man, no matter what kind of a man you are, is about being honest. It's about being true to who you are. The rest will take care of itself. Of course, this applies to women too, but I'm a guy so I'm sticking to what I know. As I was cleaning out the shed and listening to my pathetic ramblings about the young lady I almost got involved with, recently, it was clear that who I am and who society would like me to be are very different. Because I didn't have a fitting male role model growing up, I had to figure out how to become the kind of man I need to be by myself. Being sensitive and considerate to other people especially women was how the white bread suburban world I lived in would have me be. There's nothing wrong with this. It helped me to be a good person not to mention worked great in getting girls to like me because I was able to use my sensitivity to win their hearts and because I had a tough side, too, playing hockey, training mma, working on trucks, etc., I thought I was the whole package or, at least, I thought being the whole package was the standard I should be aiming for. Listening to myself whine about my feelings, yesterday, was almost enough to make me throw up. This is not who I am nor is it who I'm supposed to be. I'm a f*cking man. I'm supposed to rise to any challenge in life, do what needs to be done and take what I want. This is what a real man does. He doesn't sit around biting his tongue with his fingers crossed hoping some girl likes him. Wtf! How could I let myself become this way? That's not me. No wonder it's been so hard.
I remember, years ago, watching an episode of the Dog Whisperer about a big aggressive rottweiler that its owners were having a lot of trouble with so Cesar Millan , the host of the show, brought the dog to his kennel where he had over 20 dogs in a big open fenced in area. There were all different types of dogs in it, little poodles to monster pit bulls, all getting along just fine. When he led the rottweiler through the gate, unhooked the leash and closed the door behind him as all the other dogs swarmed around the rottweiler, to its owners surprise it didn't show even the slightest bit of aggression, even towards the dogs that were much smaller than it. It was like the big aggressive rotty was instantly cured. Why? Because it takes a village. A calm, well-adjusted and healthy village and this is what this big pack of dogs was, thanks to Cesar.
No matter how much work I do on myself, or any of us do, we still need to feel like we belong to something greater than ourselves, ideally starting with a village and expanding to the whole planet or even the universe. As sad as the circumstances were this weekend, this is what heading up to Dedham reminded me of. I was instantly fine once I got there. I'm still very thankful for getting myself back, but just because I'm doing better I can't forget that I, also, need people. Before heading up here, I hadn't seen or talked to anyone in four days which doesn't seem like very long, but, apparently until I replace the old reality with a new one, I need to do better. Not understanding this is what got me in this mess in the first place a long time ago. Called ms.Heart of Stone, this afternoon. Of course, she didn't pick up. Left a message. I might have just saved myself the price of a plane ticket. We'll see.
When I say "take what I want", this doesn't automatically mean that I'll get it. More often than not, I probably won't, but by trying to a man is admitting what he wants through action. This is honesty. If he doesn't get it, how he reacts is just as much, if not more, of a reflection of whether he's a real man or not. A man doesn't throw a tantrum or become violent when he doesn't get what he wants. Brats do that. He doesn't just give up, either. A man accepts the reality of a situation for what it is and then decides whether he can use his strength to improve it, but not just for himself. In matters of the heart, admitting what we want only if the other person admits the same, first, is not being honest. It's being a coward. I'm all set with that.
My pack is being among a group of people who are like me in some way. In this weekend's example, it was being with family even if they don't really know much about me. On Wednesday, I drove into Boston to Mass General and got to hold my uncle's hand, say "I love you" and thank him for everything he did for me.
March 26, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Sold my canoe, hockey skates and a few odds and ends, today. The canoe and skates weren't easy. I was going to go for one last paddle on the river before I left, but I need to get out of here and can't postpone my departure. I haven't played hockey in forever, but have still been hanging on to my skates. Almost seems like someone else's life. That world is so foreign to me, now. I'm moving forward, but I'm not happy with my progress. I've reduced everything I own down to 4 large plastic bins. This doesn't include whatever tools I decide to keep which won't be a lot, if any, but I'm not going to decide until I formalize my plans. Regardless, it still feels like I have too much stuff. A few people have offered to let me store my things with them and I'm lucky to have this option, but for some reason this doesn't feel right. I don't want to be obligated to anyone. I'm sure if any of them actually knew me and understood why I've chosen to live like I do then I'd be more comfortable with this. Of course, I could just rent a small storage unit which would eliminate the co-dependent element even though I've always prided myself on never having to resort to this. It would definitely be a more straightforward arrangement, but it's really just a different form of obligation by having to pay someone to keep my stuff somewhere. Both options feel like a loose end. Maybe I could hike far off into the woods and bury it all like a pirate. Even though this is a little absurd and completely illegal, it actually feels better than the other two. For now, I'll get rid of everything other than these last 4 bins and whatever tools I keep then try to decide what I'm going to do. I'm getting there.
I'm disappointed in myself for reneging on the benevolent attitude I had vowed to take towards ms.Heart of Stone, but I took this attitude because I trusted her. I naively trusted that we'd end things, if they were going to end, as respectfully as we began them, but she didn't allow us to. She just bailed without a word. I tried to give it meaning, but that's a reflection of my choice, not hers. When two people decide to get together, it's a mutual decision. Both people have to agree to it. If they don't agree, it doesn't happen. Each person has a say in the matter, but when one person decides to end it without including the other person or even notifying them of their decision, these are definitely not mutual terms. It's hypocritical and I don't think it's a very cool thing to do to someone. I think it's damn cold, actually. It's like yanking the rug out from under them when they're not looking. Of course, if it's a matter of personal safety for the woman, then she needs to end it immediately by any means necessary, but this definitely wasn't the case. I was an absolute gentleman. If we weren't 3,000 miles apart, she wouldn't be getting away with it. I wouldn't think twice about flying out there to see her if she needed me to or paying for her to fly out here if she wanted to. I've done a lot more for people I care less about, but I'm not going to waste all that effort on something or someone negative. I know I could turn it into something positive for both of us. I've cleaned up a lot worse, but life's not perfect and it comes down to a judgement call when deciding which situations we're going to spend our energy on. It's just a shame. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. It's not like she hasn't done it before. Maybe I'm just pissed at myself for trusting her, again. Despite the obvious reasons, it bothers me because I don't like being part of a mess. I prefer to clean up after myself and leave something or someone in just as good condition, if not better, than I found them. Unfortunately, if two people create the situation then it's kind of hard for only one person to clean it up. I wasn't strong enough to be unaffected by her behavior which would have allowed me to be unconditionally supportive while, also, being firm when I needed to be. I'm strong enough, now, but she's gone. I should have known better, but like I've said, some mistakes are unavoidable. We can't always fix them, but we can fix the circumstances we were in when we made them.
March 28, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Woke up at 5am, again. I know plenty of people get up a lot earlier than this for work. I have, too, for different farm and fishing jobs over the years, but I love sleep so when I can get a good night's rest I always try to especially with the grand canyon waiting for me every morning. When I'm out in the woods, I can usually fall back asleep if I wake up before first light and don't have to go anywhere, but not so much parked here in my driveway like a nut job with my neighbor's houses all around me. They must think I've gone off the deep end. I try to be inconspicuous so maybe no one's noticed. There's a few of them left from when I was a kid so they're almost like extended family, but the rest of them are complete strangers with very different values from me so I don't really care what they think. One thing I have noticed is that since I've returned from California and been more myself people seem to be driving a lot slower past my driveway. Me walking out into the middle of the street and yelling "Slow down!!" right into their windshield might have something to do with this. Oh well, I guess I've become "that guy." I don't care. This was my home once and people back then were a lot more considerate of one another and would never bomb past someone's house like they do, now. It's a dead end road, not a freeway. There's 9 houses where there were once 3. Alright whatever, tell that to the Native Americans. I know I need to get out of here. I've lost this battle.
The good thing is this morning was different. I keep busting out laughing at myself over the dumbest stuff. Even had another one man dance party, last night. These are good signs. It's been a roller coaster lately, but I think this ride is headed in the right direction. Well, I should get up and get some stuff done. It's 7:45. Mr.Fireman just pulled up next to me in the driveway. He was smiling, but I think he needed to cool off. He just finished his shift at the station and was on his way home when he almost dragged some punk out of his car who was tailgating him to teach him a little respect. Guess I'm not the only one. For the record, he'd never hurt some kid, but when one of these entitled little brats runs into a real man in the wrong place at the wrong time they're going to be in for a rude awakening. We made fun of each other for a second then I threw a window and skylight in the trunk of his car for the little yurt he bought from me last year which we haven't gotten around to assembling. He's been busy studying for his test. He was going to turn it into a play house for his two little daughters, but, now, I think it's going to be a sauna. Sold a cool antique curved window that I was hoping to use in my next yurt, yesterday. Still letting go. Still moving forward.
March 29, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I was only using two, but needed three sleeping bags, last night. It has been getting milder, but not yesterday. The temperature dropped and I woke up around 3 and had to grab a third. I got a lot done, today. It was great. There was a crew of about ten guys here all day to tear up the carpets, wash the walls and decontaminate the house per order of the homeowner's insurance company. They rolled up in a box truck and a big passenger van and got right to work. I was finishing cleaning out the house of every last thing when they got here so they wouldn't have to. My brother thought in order to get a better price for the house that all traces of the furnace fiasco should be removed so he filed a claim. It was a good call. The guys were all "Mexican" as most people would label them except for one brother. I thought about calling Hubert, my buddy from Nicaragua, or any of the guys I worked with on that crew in '16 who called me "the Mexican", to tell these guys that I wasn't some ignorant white guy because they all looked at me with blank stares, this morning, and none of them would smile back at me, but luckily by the end of the day they were calling me "My friend." I broke out some chairs at lunch time for a couple of the guys who were sitting in the back of the box truck eating while the rest of them sat in the front seat or in the van. I sat in my truck. I, also, made sure to tell them that they could use the microwave in the kitchen if they wanted to heat their lunches up. Wish I could offer them more, but there's nothing else here except me and my tools.
Even though they were working in the house and I was working in the garage it was so nice being in the vicinity of other people all day. I got so much done. Their laughter, singing and Spanish music just added to the atmosphere. Sold a snow blower, barbecue grill, propane tanks and a folding cot. Painted some metal truck ramps and posted them. Then completely organized, categorized and got ready to post all the wrenches, sockets, both metric and standard, 3/4, 3/8 and 1/4 inch drives.
The down side is the grand canyon was in full force this morning, worse than usual, maybe because I used the alarm on my phone to wake up so I could be done emptying the house before they got here, not to mention I couldn't risk getting caught sleeping in my truck. I moved most of it, last night, and only had a big pile going to goodwill by the front door to load into my truck, but for whatever reason, the morning doom lingered much longer than usual, today, when I woke up. It is the worst f*cking feeling.
April 1, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Went to "church", last night. Had to do something. It was Friday and I hadn't talked to anyone since the day before which, again, doesn't seem like a long time at all, but I've got to retrain myself and not just fall back on white-knuckling it. It was a different kind of church this time than the type I have been going to, but I left during the break after 45 minutes. Wasn't feeling it, but I tried and that's better than not trying. Lowe's was still open so I grabbed a few things I need to finish building a piece of furniture that I'm going to sell. I designed and built it a couple years ago when I was trying to come up with different things I could do working for myself. I've had it stored over in the workshop in Kingston. It's a toy box for kids that pulls out into a bed. Living like I have, I've always built multi-purpose furniture to maximize what little space I had. The toy box doubles as a bench, but the box part pulls out like a big drawer to store toys in, but if you keep pulling it fully extends and the top of the bench folds out creating a little bed. The design can be applied to a full size bed for an adult, but I figured I'd start small until I optimized its functionality and how to best build them. It's fun to make stuff like this and it came out really good, but I have no desire to make and sell hundreds of them. Not enough exercise.
Thursday was my uncle's funeral. It was a military service down at the National Military Cemetery on the cape. He was a simple guy and not the type who wanted anyone to go to any trouble for him, but I think he would have been touched by how many people came. They had to open up two extra lanes in order to make room for all the cars that had arrived to give their respects. The service was outdoors and quick which was good because though they were clear blue skies it was cool and windy. Then we all went back up to Dedham to a veteran's hall in walking distance from his house.
Just like at my cousin's funeral on my father's side a couple weeks ago, I strategically parked out of sight and walked both to the cemetery and the hall because I'm embarrassed by the beat up old truck I'm driving while they all have nice new cars and trucks, but it was good to see my family. Parked at the rest area on the freeway for the night because I needed to get some sleep and the guys would be at my parent's house first thing in the morning tearing up the carpet and cleaning. I got some good rest and got there around 9 and spent the whole day in Marshfield getting a lot done which was great.
Loneliness still predominates my life, but it's more natural more often, now. There's a bittersweet feel to it where there was once only numbness. This is an improvement. The grand canyon's a whole different story, but, right now, I'm only talking about when I'm totally awake. After getting to see so many of my cousins this week, of course, the naive sap in me started to entertain the idea of sticking around here, at least for the warmer months, to see more of them, now, that I'm doing so much better, but I have to be realistic and brutally honest. They don't need me. I need them. They have their families and high paying jobs and wouldn't know anything about me if I hadn't bridged the gap between us. This is an awful way to look at it, but, again, I have to retrain myself. I was thinking either Montana or Costa Rica. Montana, which I've only spent a little time in driving cross-country on a motorcycle one summer, has always interested me. There's an established farm co-op community there that I've researched many times over the years. I could find work nearby and keep making money rather than relocating someplace a lot further away where most Americans only go to spend money. I looked at a couple farms in Costa Rica where I could do a work exchange to live there for free which would most likely turn into a paying gig once they saw what a good worker I am and how much experience I have, but things could get tight if I needed to adapt to anything unforeseen. I'm not broke, right now, but I'd like to have a lot more saved up so if things didn't work out in Central America I could bounce back here and have plenty of money to buy a truck and relocate somewhere.
I poked around online and already found a few jobs I know I could land in Maine and New Hampshire, not to mention the farms I've already worked on which with one phone call, text or email I could be back working on. That farm in Virginia turned out to be a no-go. The farmer went behind my back and contacted a farm I worked on in 2019 because I happened to be wearing a sweatshirt with the name of the farm on it when I stopped in Virginia, last month. The farmer in Virginia googled the other farm, sent the owner an email about me, but asked him not to tell me which, of course, he did because we're friends and still keep in touch so we had a good laugh about it. I'm usually happy to offer my resume and plenty of references when I decide that I'm serious about a place, but I wasn't sure about that "opportunity" yet. Now, I know why. Instincts.
April 3, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
A little relief. The guys finished, today, but it didn't dawn on me until later this evening when I got back from doing a few errands that it's, now, safe to sleep in the house. I get to lie down on a flat surface, tonight. No more sleeping in a partially reclined truck seat while trying to hide the glow of this laptop screen. Woohoo.
April 4, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Got a good night sleep. Couldn't turn on the heat, of course, but I have plenty of blankets. I kept a couple of big comforters and a foam mattress. They're from the "stuff to get rid of just before I leave" pile. I figured I'd write a little before I head outside. The house still seems familiar, but it's more like an empty box, now. I imagine that it's like it was when my parents first bought it before they moved in. My memories are more in my mind, now, instead of this room.
I was talking with Armando, the foreman of the crew, in the driveway for a few minutes, yesterday, before they left. He grew up in Guatemala. We talked about how he met his wife when they were teenagers living in the same small village. The closest city was 5 hrs away. They live here, now, with their two daughters. His oldest is 14 and very American -my words not his. His younger daughter still likes him. He said he's just trying to make enough money for his family and the schools and hospitals are better here. I asked him if he had a million dollars where would he live. Without hesitation, he said Guatemala.
Dude, you're f*ckin up. Get it together. Spring is banging at the door and you're not done here, yet! If you knew where you were going, maybe you'd finish quicker. Just another f*cking adventure. This is taking longer than it should because no.1, you got too much shit and no.2, even if you left a lot of it with someone, you still don't know where the f*ck you're going! Actually, even though it would be good to clarify these things, they aren't the real problem. You're still fighting the same old fucking battle you've always been fighting. Yes, you've learned a truck load recently and this is super valuable, but what's the point? There's no magic wand that's going to fix all your problems no matter how much you keep learning. Only one thing will and you already know what this is.
I just can't dumb myself down to have some pointless superficial conversation with some pointless superficial friendships. And, why should anyone want to talk to me if they know I'm trying to leave here as soon as possible.
I get up, get a bunch of stuff done then around lunch time the pain starts creeping in. I start to get pissed off and my progress slows down. I've started watching movies, again, as a way to self-medicate. I hate having to do this. Most of them are movies, often true stories, about not giving up. I'll put one in my laptop and watch a few minutes to try to get out of my head. It works, my energy comes back, I go back to doing stuff for a little while longer then the anxiety builds up to the point that I have to stop, again. This is how I've been living for a long time. I've just been praying that I was clear of it.
My tentative short-term plan was, once I finish here, to drive up to Dedham and store my stuff at my cousin's. He said I could stick it in an empty box truck that he's got out back. It's just temporary. Then I was going the head to Florida and go for a swim. I love the ocean and it chills me out. That was my whole plan. Take a deep breath, float in the water and look up at the sky. I thought maybe I could meet up with mr.Model while I was down there. He's living near Fort Lauderdale, right now. I called him the other day. I felt bad about not wanting to partner up with him, but he's still my friend so I wanted to see how he was doing. Even though I'm in hell, right now, I still got myself back so my conversations with everyone I've talked with lately have been a lot better. We just live in different realities.
Work on this stuff to build some momentum:
-burn pile, clean up back yard
-remaining tools, which keeping which selling
-give away or throw away boat paint, etc.
-sell bike trailer, cast iron tub, chair, dresser, leaf blower, weed-wacker
-remaining stuff to salvation army
Got about half the big scrap wood pile burned before it got dark, sorted through all the paint and figured out which I'm going to give away, most of it, and which I'm going to toss, a couple cans. I need to pick up some kitty litter so I can dry up whatever old paint is left in the cans, first. Posted all the items to sell. It was too late in the day to make it to Salvation Army before they closed so I'll go tomorrow. Need to take pictures of the tools I'm going to sell.
I make 2-Do lists every day. Never posted one online before, but it was just a lame attempt at trying to hold myself accountable to motivate me. It sort of worked. I wish there was a cool place to go dancing around here. I need to blow off some steam. People don't dance in the suburbs. It's so boring and conservative around here. I don't know Boston that well anymore. There was one place I found when I got back east that this girl I met brought me to. It was wicked cool. Nothing came from that date, but I went back to that place a few times since then. No attitudes, egos or dumb drunk people and they usually had live music or, if not, a good dj with a big dance floor, but I got online a couple Friday's ago to see what they had going on and they were closed. They went out of business during the virus scare. I thought about a dating site, but I'm not looking for a girlfriend or a hook-up. Why else would a person be on one of those. Ugh, I just want to roar or hop in my truck and start driving and not stop or grab my backpack, start walking and not stop. As pathetic as writing like this is, it's actually helping a little so maybe an idea will come to me. I just need to get out of my head.
April 5, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
-burn pile is gone
-went through remaining tools and took pics of the ones I'm selling
-posted some other random stuff
-picked up kitty litter, might not need it, but just in case
-person who was supposed to come get dresser flaked out, but I've got other who want it so I'll email them
-dropped off stuff at salvation army
Making these lists is helping. I don't feel any better, but they're guilting me into getting as much done as possible which is good.
-go to the post office to send my father and brother's mail to California
-take pictures of the interior of the house since it was cleaned and email them to my brother
-organize the garage so guys coming to buy the remaining tools can take anything else they might want
-organize the tools I'm keeping into one bin
I realized what's making me anxious. Yes, I'm eager to get out of here, but that's not the reason. It's the situation that I'm in, right now, and the people who've created it that's making me anxious. My older brother wants to sell this house as soon as he can so they can put the money towards the one they just bought in California which is a lot smaller, yet it cost more than what they're going to get for this one. Don't get me started. Of course, I want them to have a proper place to live. This is why I decided to stay when I saw how my father was living when I came back here in '17. Anyways, it's good to realize that it's not because of some fault of mine that's making me feel like sh*t. The constant urgency that I need to rush is not coming from me. It's coming from them. This is not my home. They're allowing me to be here while I hurry up and move out. I'm holding them up even though they're fine and have plenty of money. My idea 5+ years ago was for all of us to move somewhere as a family that would be easier on my father, but they didn't want to do this. They have, now, just not with me. Oh well. It's good to see this for what it is.
I came up with an idea to promote the values that I believe in. Something about wearing the hat I made for this blog never felt 100%. It was fun to make, but it was a little off the mark and this is why I never mentioned it to anyone, or almost no one. I should be proud of what I'm trying to do and want to tell people about it, but this blog is my story which is not something I want to promote. We all have our individual stories. It's not a competition. The book and the values it represents, on the other hand, are what connect us. If I make it out of this, I want it to be not because of how narcissistic I am, but because of what I believe in and what people like me believe in. I'll let them decide.
April 6, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I'm not going to just throw everything into a dumpster or landfill. We've only got one planet. It's not trash. Everything I'm getting rid of are useful things to other people. It just takes longer in order to post it all to sell or give away. I learned years ago how to take my time and do things right even though so much of the world around me refuses to stop. Everyone's in a hurry refusing to look at themselves to understand what's making them this way. I, also, need to stop swaring. It makes a person sound unintelligent and negative.
I try to keep my journal up to date. Yes, I keep a journal in addition to these ramblings, but half of it is cutting up different types of paper memorabilia from my life and travels then pasting it onto the pages. I've slacked off in recent years. It was easier to stay on top of this task when I traveled on foot. There's a different pace to life traveling this way and it's often very quiet camping in the woods every night so there's not much else to do before falling asleep. Nowadays a couple times a year, I'll force myself to sit down and go through the piles of stuff I've accumulated since the last time I did it. It may seem like a chore to some people. It does to me, too, but I can't tell you how good it feels when I finish. It's one of the most liberating feelings. I feel so free and light when I'm done as I throw all the remaining clippings of paper that I didn't use into the trash or recycle bin. It's therapeutic. I've got a pretty good size pile, at the moment, waiting for me to tackle, but, unfortunately, it's not going to happen anytime soon.
What felt almost as good, today, was stacking my big bins of belongings on the porch after I went through them, again, to make room for the tools I am keeping. I got rid of a few more things and consolidated the remaining items. I haven't worked on my book lately, but in reviewing what I've learned I realized that I haven't emphasized the significance of the intermediate world in regards to awareness. Without a middle world to contain us, our awareness, if it has the capacity, will spread to the far reaches of the greater world that it really has no business concerning itself with on a daily basis. Food for thought.
-mailed the mail
-dropped off some gardening tools at mr.Fireman's house that it seemed like he wanted when he was over here the other day
-took pics of the inside of the house and emailed them
-organized the garage (still more to do)
-moved what tools I'm keeping onto porch with my personal belonging bins
April 8, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I just sneezed 5 times in a row. My eyes are watering and my nose is running. I think I might have a cold. I went to "church" last night and must have picked something up. Not the end of the world. A couple of good nights rest and I'll be as good as new. I'm basically ready to roll anyways so I should do some writing and work on the book, this morning. Everything I'm keeping is stacked neatly on the porch and everything else that's going is in the garage and, now, that I'm ready to leave I'll probably drop the prices even lower to not waste anytime nickel and diming with people. Freedom calls.
I had a decent day, yesterday, not a great one, but not a miserable one either, so I decided to go out and say "hi" to all the people I've met since moving back here. Regardless if it's where I belong or not, they're still people I know and made connections with which means a lot to me. The visiting speakers were ok, but the bonus was that I got to see mr.Finance, who I haven't seen in weeks, mr.Fireman and a bunch of other guys. It was so fun. We hung out in the parking lot afterwards, joking around and, basically, making fun of each other for an hour.
I still have my beat up old truck and I'm probably going to take a loss when I sell it, but trying to get done what I've needed to do with a pick-up, rather than a suburban, just made more sense. The only reason I'm keeping it, now, is so I can head over to the property in Kingston and load up the pile of scrap metal over there and bring it to the salvage yard. The price of steel isn't great, right now. I already brought one load of over 1,000lbs from my father's house, this winter, and only got like 40 bucks for it, but I suppose that's better than paying someone to haul it away. Most of the metal in Kingston was there when I arrived two winters ago, but I have added some big car parts to the pile so I want to get rid of all of it for mr.Finance before I bounce out of here. He was talking about siding and roofing the bunkhouse, last night, so maybe I'll help him with that, too. I've missed the guys and it was great to see them especially, now, that I'm being my real self and don't feel obligated to anyone. They only know the compromised version of me so it should be interesting and even more fun spending time with them, now. I know they've both been a little annoyed with how much I keep my phone off, but the mental clarity that this is restoring is way too valuable to jeopardize.
April 10, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
10 bucks for an 8 drawer wooden dresser. I must be out of my mind. Whatever, I'm moving forward and giving people great deals. Headed over to the property in Kingston, today, and loaded up my truck with all the scrap metal piled next to the work shop. I brought my grinder so I could cut up the bigger pieces into more manageable sizes so I could fit as much as possible. I was able to get it all in one trip to the scrap metal yard and got there just before they closed. The price of steel must have gone up a little. Got $60 for about 1,000lbs which isn't a lot, but it's more than I got this winter and more importantly that was the last major task I needed to get done before I can start seriously thinking about leaving. Feels great.
I got home around 6pm and wanted to celebrate. Thought about calling someone, but decided that it wouldn't be fair to whoever this might be so I didn't. Then, I thought about going out and treating myself to a casual dinner with my 60 whole dollars, but didn't do that either. My cold is just about gone, but not quite so I should just take it easy, tonight, and try to get to bed early.
Grabbed the last of the raised bed boxes I built, last summer, while I was over at the property. I'm going to give it a fresh coat of stain and post it, tomorrow. It should sell quick. I'm sure people will ask if I'm going to build more, but that's not in the cards.
April 11, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I had black bananas in the truck, last week, but it was 75, today, so heading to FL seems a little unnecessary, now. The other night, I tried to picture where I'd like to live for the summer. A quaint little harbor town came to mind. I had a job driving a big straight body reefer truck for one of the biggest lobster companies in Maine during the summer of 2015. I didn't like the corporate aspects of working for such a big company, but I loved the workout of loading 100lb. crates of lobsters into the back of the truck (which was almost as big as an 18wheeler) by hand all day and I loved visiting all the little harbors between Portland and Canada where I picked up the lobsters. One the prettiest harbors I visited every week was in South Bristol, Me. It's a tiny village way down at the end of one of the many fingers of land that stretch away from the Maine coastline reaching out into the ocean among all its countless islands. A few minutes later I was online and had found an oyster farm who was looking for help on this same finger of land. What are the odds? I wrote an email of introduction stating all my oyster farm experience, but I didn't send it. I still haven't.
Nothing changes if nothing changes. I could do plenty of swimming in the harbor on my days off up in Maine all summer. Oyster farming is an awesome workout and the money's a little better than vegetable farming. Neither are great. I could make triple the amount building houses or running equipment, but I don't enjoy that work nearly as much. Anyways, I stopped myself from reaching out to the owner because when I woke up the next morning and experienced the torment of what I go through every morning I told myself that this has to stop. I can't keep living like this. How is moving up to that little town going to address this aspect of my life? Yes, it's beautiful there and off the beaten path nestled among islands. Yes, I'd be back in shape in a couple of weeks and I'd have a bunch of money saved up by the end of the season, but what about tomorrow morning? When is that going to go away? Maine is a lot closer than Montana and a lot more familiar. I know lots of people up there, but how many of them did I see when I was up there two summers ago? Not many, not often. I'm just trying to stop myself from falling into the same old familiar situation just because I know I could get that job and feel wanted because of the experience I have, but that's only work experience. What about life experience? What about my life outside of work? This is the experience that I need to improve.
Anyways, I'm trying to decide between looking for a community to live in or just going back to work somewhere. I miss working so I'm super eager to get back at it, but I'm trying to think it through a little more, this time. Mr.Model just texted me a link to some property he's interested in buying that he wants me to look at as I was typing this. I happened to have my phone on for a few minutes to update one of the ads I have listed for tools I'm selling. I told him I'd call him, tomorrow. Maybe now that I'm myself, again, I'll be able to compose a realistic partnership with him. We'll see. Should be an interesting conversation. Sold a bunch of tools, today. The guy actually gave me $10 more than I was asking because I threw in so much other free stuff. He even took the paint which was a relief. Re-stained the raised bed box and posted it.
April 13, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Had a long talk with mr.Model, yesterday. It went ok. We reduced our potential partnership down to one criteria and nothing more, a piece of land that I would want to live and farm on. No business venture, no strings attached. It didn't sound like he'd be living there with me, but would come and go as he pleased. He told me to look on a couple different land-for-sale websites that he's been using to see if I can find something I liked. He said "Chances are if you like it, I'm going to like it, too." He's more of a city kid so he's not as picky as I am when it comes to land. He's heading to Missouri, this weekend, to look at some property that already has 3 cabins on it and an established bed and breakfast business that he might purchase with his brother in-law. I'm familiar with that area. It's not far from where I met with a farmer, this winter. I know he means well, but I don't see us joining forces in any way. I'm not looking for a sweet deal or a business opportunity and I don't want to be a live-in caretaker on someone else's land. I've had plenty of "sweet deals" offered to me over the years none of which I was interested in. The amount of effort and time it requires to get a farm or homestead going and keep it going is something a person wants to invest in with the assurance that they have control of its future and they can't have this assurance if someone else owns the land. I want my life and any security it may afford me to be based on hard work, honesty and common values. If not, I'll keep fighting the good fight until I find others who believe the same.
I learned something important from our conversation. I had a friend, years ago, share a belief that he has which is: There's a perfect distance for every relationship to be optimal. Too close and you're going to butt heads and not get along. Too far and you'll lose touch and drift apart. Finding the correct distance takes some trial and error. I found this to be very useful over the years. I even tried to share it with mr.Music when he and mr.Model were having difficulties, recently. They've been friends longer than the three of us, but don't really speak anymore. Maybe their optimal distance is very far apart, but I think it's more a result of them not being able to resolve their differences because they were once best friends.
Mr.Music's approach to their friendship is different than mine. Mr.Model and I had a brief falling out when we were back in college and ever since then our friendship has been great, but only because I have never put any expectations on it. He rubbed me the wrong way a few too many times and it was "later" for him which was a very immature attitude to take, but I eventually had to accept that it wasn't intentional. His life experiences have been different from mine so he formed a different approach to friendships than I did. No one can expect anyone else to disregard their own life experiences. I used to over simplify the difference by believing because he was so good looking and popular that everyone wanted to be his friend so he didn't take any one friendship too seriously. It was almost like he had groupies, but me, mr.Music and a handful of others were his "real" friends or so I thought and we based our friendships on ideas like loyalty, dependability and keeping our word. When mr.Model confronted me one day with tears in his eyes because I had hurt him by "firing" him as one of my close friends I realized that I had simply put unrealistic expectations on him. There have been times since then when he's wanted to work more closely on certain projects and I've told him flat out that I don't feel comfortable depending on him, but I said it with love and he understood allowing our friendship to remain intact. Mr.Music put expectations on their friendship and he kept getting disappointed until one day he finally had enough. You can't get water from a stone . This notion doesn't only apply to negative situations. It's just as true in regards to healthy friendships. We simply can't put unrealistic expectations on people that can't fulfill them. This doesn't mean that we deny our own needs nor judge those we tried to have meet them. It means that we have to find a different way, or person, to meet them. Hence, we need a village.
After talking with mr.Model, I realized that I couldn't explain our differences with reason because his life experiences have been so vastly different from mine. I tried, but I could tell I wasn't making a connection. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Living the life of a model and actor has worked for him so why would he question anything? I've said it many times, "You don't want to save the world unless there's something wrong with yours." I was probably saying this more to myself than anyone else. He's the one sitting on a pile of money and I'm the one who lives out of his truck, often times neglecting my basic needs. If I had to guess, our long standing friendship is based largely on patience and acceptance. I'm a good listener and he likes to talk. I shouldn't say "likes." I think it's more like "needs." It's how he processes things. I'm sure always having an audience has encouraged this tendency. Where as, I'm brief, direct and to the point because I don't have time or energy to waste when the stakes upon which I live are much less forgiving. The fact that our conversation, yesterday, didn't result in a stronger connection between us was because he was responding to my energy, not my words.
At one point, I spoke of the corruption and wastefulness of our society and how I couldn't condone it, but this was accompanied with a negative feeling maybe rightly so, but this manner of delivery isn't going to win any hearts. Hearts respond to positive energy, not negative. This is true for me, as well. I haven't arrived at this life style because of negative thoughts. I've arrived at it because of positive feelings. I live this way because it makes me happy. Yes, it is very painful and difficult sometimes, but this isn't a reflection of me or my heart. It's a reflection of painful and difficult circumstances that I've chosen not to ignore, but I believe with all my heart that if I never give up I will make it to the place I've always dreamed of. Maybe it hasn't been a choice. He's lived an "easier" life because it came easier to him. Opportunities sort of just fell in his lap because he had visible traits that were desirable to those extending these opportunities. I chose a different path and looked for different opportunities which caused me to question more and look for my own answers. But, I, also, told him that if I was in his position, now, I would already have found some land, started a homestead and been living on it. It's been almost a year, what is he waiting for? The difference is the life I've lived has taught me all the skills needed in order to do this and his hasn't, but he's the one with the money. Go figure. This is, also, something I can't condone. I'm not throwing my friend under the bus, but in order for us to get on the same page and become closer I've got to bridge the distance with positive feelings not negative reasons.
My mind, or anyone else's, often uses reason not to convince someone of an idea, but to remind them of an experience they've already had. If they haven't had a similar experience, they're not going to relate to what I'm saying no matter how clearly I explain it. Getting frustrated with someone when we believe we've explained ourselves perfectly is only going to reinforce the negative energy that's fueling our efforts by pushing them further away. This can become a very frustrating experience for both parties. In our case, yesterday, it was much more subtle and possibly undetected by him, but I felt it. I shared somethings that I've never shared before and they didn't seem to help. Lesson learned. The result however is that he's been texting me every morning for the past couple days which is a very nice gesture, even if I'm not a big texter and keep my phone off most of the time. I know he means well even if we don't agree on certain things. Acceptance and patience.
The mind judges. The heart forgives. I think a lot of people are afraid to admit the truth because they don't want to be judged, but this all depends on who is delivering the truth, the heart or the mind. Why doesn't a blue whale, the largest living creature that has ever lived, crush every boat it sees and kill every person it can? It could. Human beings have declared war on pretty much every other living thing on the planet. They would all be justified in wanting to rid the planet of us. A dumb person would say, "Duh, it's because we're so much smarter than they are. We kill and exploit them because we can," but this is not an accurate description of the situation. The human brain weighs approx. 3 pounds. A blue whale's weighs 11 pounds. Which do you think is more intelligent? Don't answer that. You're not smart enough. Maybe there are different types of intelligence. My point is that if my heart leads me to the truth I'm going to wield this knowledge with the wisdom and compassion of a heart, not a manipulative mind. If a person fears the truth, it's because they're seeing it with their mind judgementally. Of course, they're going to fear the result of someone finding out the truth about them. When we start living according to our hearts we'll stop fearing the truth so much. This is not an idea! It is an action. The heart is a muscle, not a thought. Use it.
The challenge we, all, face is that most of us are living in a world created largely by the human mind so trying to listen to our hearts is that much more difficult. This is why some people seek solace in nature. The natural world is where our hearts thrive. This is where are hearts were born.
The homeowner's insurance company has a separate company that they use for all the work done to homes whose owners file claims. I'm sure it's a pretty sweet arrangement. The company that does the work charges the insurance company an exorbitant amount of money, far higher than the average contractor would. They pay their employees who do the actual work next to nothing while the executives and upper management pocket all the profits.
My father has been paying his homeowner's insurance for over 50 years and I don't think he has ever filed a claim. Earlier in the week, I emailed my brother asking him whether the insurance company had given him a dollar amount regarding how much they were willing to cover for any repairs the house is going to need as a result of the furnace pumping soot into every room. Their adjuster was out here last week and it sounded like they were willing to cover having the walls painted and the floors resurfaced once "their" cleaning company was done. I, also, asked my brother if we were required to use the company the insurance company prefers to use so they can keep their little "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" arrangement going or can we find our own people to do the work. I made it clear that I didn't mind contacting the insurance company myself, but I thought it was better if just one person dealt with them. Instead of answering my questions, I found out last night (through an email) that my brother contacted the insurance company and the company that does the work for them and gave them the go ahead for the price tag of 27K. Now, I have to be out of the house asap so they can come in and do the work. His younger brother is going to go back to sleeping in his truck then try to find work busting his ass on some farm barely making ends meet while he gives a bunch of strangers a sweet deal by allowing them to run their scam. I would have painted the walls and done the floors for half that amount. It was my home, once.
Went for a long walk, yesterday evening, to see how it felt. I don't have time to finish getting rid of everything, sell my truck, buy a different one, find a job and a place to live, or a community to join, all before the company doing the work gets here so rather than pile everything into my truck with no clear destination getting rid of it all and walking out of here seemed like a less complicated solution. If I had to, I could reduce it all down to one bin that I could leave wherever. It's mostly just photos, letters and books. The only large item that would be the hardest to part with is an old antique desk of my mother's. It's the only piece of furniture I own. It's not very big. It's small as far as desks go, but I haven't been able to bring myself to get rid of it. Even posted it for sale for $40, but took it down. I thought maybe I could give it to a friend as a gift so, at least, then I'd still have a slight connection with it. I know it's just an object, but letting go is still hard. After the anger of how my brother handled things subsided, washing my hands of all possessions and going for a walk felt pretty good, actually. We'll see.
April 15, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I met up with mr.Finance, last night, to let him borrow some heavy duty tow straps I have. He's doing some spring landscaping at his house, tomorrow, and wants to relocate some big bushes from one location to a different area in his yard so he's going to use his truck with my straps to yank them out of the ground. We shot the ship for a while. As he was telling me a funny story about something that happened when he was golfing with mr.ER, that afternoon, I had one of those "Wtf am I doing with my life?!" moments. Their golf cart had died near the 18th hole so they just decided to grab their clubs and walk the rest of the way, but when they were almost to the green mr.ER realized that he accidentally left his "range finder" in the golf cart. That wasn't the funny part, but as I listened and experienced the unsettled feeling of learning that such a device even exists in a world that is so far removed from mine and the guys I'm friends with live in it, I definitely began to question my path in life, not for its meaning and purpose and not with any type of regret. None of these were the reasons why I began to evaluate myself. I've never gone golfing in my life nor do I have any desire to. A range finder is a little hand held device that I believe you hold like a pair of binoculars and aim a laser at any object far away and it will tell you the distance you are from the object. Pretty fancy. I've used laser levels framing houses and doing excavation work which uses the same technology for a different purpose. I wasn't jealous that mr.ER owns one of those gadgets. What bothered me about the story was that people I know were having fun and do stuff like this on a regular basis and I can't remember the last time I did something for the fun of it with anyone maybe not golfing, but an equivalent activity that I'd actually enjoy.
They signed up for the American Dream, went after it hard and never looked back. I signed up for a different dream, went after it just as hard and never looked back, too, but there aren't any laser pointers in my life nor funny stories often enough. Would I have had fun if I was with them, yesterday? Yes, not that I'd ever want to go golfing, but because I can have fun doing anything, now. I just don't because left to my own devices the drill sergeant in my head never releases me. I wasn't second guessing my choices in life. The path I've taken has taught me exactly what I've needed to learn. I just need to unlearn allowing the judge, jury and executioner to cast a grey cloud over everything I do. Hanging out with mr.Finance for a few minutes, last night, was a good reminder. Granted it's hard to justify doing stuff for fun when it costs a bunch of money and my survival, particularly my financial survival, is too often teetering in the balance, but money is a made-up concept. Theoretically it's supposed to represent an actual commodity and all a commodity is, in one form or another, is a resource and the world's most universal resource is energy. Geez, talk about trying to use reason to explain something. If there's one thing I have a lot of, maybe more than anyone I know, it's energy. What do I need a lot of money for when I have an abundance of the first and most original type of a commodity? I just need to force myself to use it more deliberately for fun as well as work. I can do anything I set my mind to. I just need to not let my mind set me to doing things that aren't fun all the time.
Sold an antique cast iron tub, this morning, sold the raised bed box, gave away some tables and good lumber, yesterday. I glued up some of the pieces to the toy box bed, last night, and will glue up the rest of it, today (had to wait for it to dry because I gave away most of my wood clamps already). Writing is helping. Just looking at how I handled mr.Model's offer to buy land shows me that I'm my own worst enemy. It's obvious I'm never going to give up. Look at what I've already been through so unless I force myself to make a change I'm just going to keep making myself suffer. I could go get a job on a farm tomorrow and not just a dumb labor job (my favorite kind), but a higher paying job managing an operation. If I tried hard enough, I could probably find an older couple who already have a farm who want to pass it down to a younger farmer and I could run my own. Why don't I? When am I going to stop trying to do the impossible? I was talking with the young couple who just came and bought the cast iron tub. We all laughed because they're going to use it for the same reason I bought it for, a redneck hot tub. I've had a couple of them so I gave them some pointers. They're super fun especially in the middle of the winter surrounded by snow. The couple are getting married soon so first it'll be filled with ice, beer and bottled waters at their wedding reception then they'll turn it into a hot tub. A friend of theirs showed up to help them load it into their truck. Old cast iron tubs aren't light and the four of us talked for a couple minutes then I let the guys load it. I could tell they were eager. I picked it up and loaded it myself when I bought it, a couple summers ago, like I've done everything else by myself. It was a 3 person experience for them. Well, I'm listening to what these observations are saying to me. It's not anything new. I can't blame refusing to change on not coming from a close family any longer and I can't rely on potential possibilities. I have to start with what's real. C'mon man, don't sabotage yourself, yet again.
After I cooled off, I called my brother and tactfully explained to him that I wished he would have talked to me and answered my questions, first, before hiring someone to work on the house so he agreed to call the insurance company to see how we would go about hiring our own people, possibly me, to do the work rather than their preferred company. Mr.Finance assured me that this is exactly how it should be done. They can't make us use who they want us to especially for something as basic as painting or sanding floors. I'll find out on Monday what they say. Part of me just wants to be done with all this and move on to something more promising that reflects my interests, but if I can bust my butt for a week or so while I'm here and make some decent money it would make hitting the road a lot less stressful. I've got the weekend to do some homework on where I might want to head and it needs to involve other people, not taking on the world by myself.
April 17, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
There's a minute left in the game, we're down by two goals, a lot of my teammates have given up and I'm still trying to win with every ounce of energy I have, but there's one question that should be asked. Am I trying to win with a little smile on my face or with an intense look of anger? Surprisingly, both scenarios are true. I've been both players at different times. Sometimes I was giving my all because it would be astounding and funny if we somehow came back to win and other times how awful it would feel to lose drove me to give my all because I couldn't bear it. The good news is giving my all is the result in either situation. The bad news is that life isn't a game, but it's been turned into one by those who play by their own rules while the rest of us try to play fairly. The fact that this bothers me is the problem. Who cares if they're cheaters? They can't cheat life. They can only cheat the system and other people willing to play their game. I've lost plenty of battles along the way, but I'm still winning the war which, to me, is over my heart and soul. It's just become so grueling that I have to ask myself "What's the point?"
I remember one time when I was around 12 years old after a hockey game, our coach and some of the parents were standing outside the locker room waiting for us to take off our equipment and go home. I overheard one of the fathers who must have arrived after the game was over wondering what was taking his son so long to get dressed because they could hear us laughing and joking around in the locker room. We were pretty loud.
"Well, at least, they won. It must have been a good game," he commented.
"They didn't win. They got their butts kicked," said the coach shaking his head with tiresome disbelief.
The other parents just laughed. Who cares if you win or lose if you're having fun with the team you're on? Being part of a team is more important than winning. Don't take this the wrong way. I don't mean I wanted to hold hands with everyone and play with kids who couldn't even throw a spiral or stand on skates. I was actually very protective of kids like this, but we should still play with people who are at our skill level. This is how we get better, but winning is only everything when it's the only thing you've got.
I joined an adult volley ball league a couple summers ago down in Brant Rock when I was still trying to make the most of being here. They had a decent sand court right across the road from the pier where I lobstered out of. It was open to anyone, men and women, and all levels were welcome. I'd say most were about average and this was fine. A few of us were pretty good. One or two played in college and some couldn't even hit the ball over the net, but we, all, still had fun a couple times a week in the warm summer evenings. Then, this one jerk started coming who tried hard to win the entire time. He was an older guy. I'm guessing in his 50's who probably wasn't very good when he was in school. Maybe he even got picked on, but you could tell he practiced a lot and he served it hard and fast drilling the ball at women who had no chance of returning it. They were more concerned with not getting hurt. I was better than this guy and so were a couple of other players, but we refused to try as hard as he did. He was ruining the fun atmosphere. If it were up to me, I would have told the guy to beat it or dial it down, but when I spoke up and made it clear what I thought of him, this was frowned upon by most of the other people so I kept my mouth shut. I'd just met everyone so I didn't want to cause a problem. As a result, I had to put up with this jerk off wearing a head band playing like it was the olympics.
One night a bunch of young guys showed up and even though we tried to pick teams fairly so that they were evenly matched we ended up destroying this guy. A couple of the lesser players sat out this one game and I always made sure I was on the opposite team from him. We had fun drilling the ball at him every chance we got. It was hilarious. He got so frustrated and started being hard on his team-mates, but everyone just laughed. I felt a little bad, but he asked for it. I stopped going not long after this. It was fun for the most part, but I wasn't making any new friends. I would ride my bike the 7 miles across town, play for a couple hours then ride back. Other than Olivia Newton John-boy, everyone was nice, but it just seemed like they already had enough people in their lives and weren't looking for more. Most of them were older than me. I heard about another league on the beach down in Wareham which is about an hour from Marshfield and I went a few times. They were a lot friendlier and went out for pizza and beers afterwards which was fun, but I was the youngest person there, too, and it felt a little awkward. I didn't care about winning and played at half-speed, but it was a long drive and I ended up moving back to Maine for work.
The lesson was that numb-nuts like the headband guy got under my skin more than he did most of the other people because this wasn't their only team. They had a life and family outside of beach volleyball, but for those couple hours it was my only team so I wanted everything to be fair and everyone to have fun. This is how I've viewed the world, as well. This weekend, I've looked into a lot of places to go when I leave here, but some of the biggest decisions regarding were we live and who's on our team are often decided for us when we're born. I've traveled far and wide trying to make these decisions on my own, but, now, I'm thinking maybe it's a lot more arbitrary than I've gone about it. Maybe I just need to pick any ol'place that has a few things I like and make the most of it like everyone else. It's more important that I won't be alone any longer. I think I've forgotten what this is like so I've been too focused on all the other details. Maybe I should just flip a coin. "Heads California. Tails Carolina!"
April 18, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
The semblance of a plan seems to be forming as I wait for paint to dry and the sun to go down. I need to head over to the auto parts store and grab some brake pads for the truck. I noticed a slight grinding sound on my way home from doing errands, earlier today, so, of course, I'm going to fix this before selling it, but I'm going to wait til after dark to head back out, again. I'm tired of driving through this damn neighborhood in my big clunker feeling like I'm not as good as the rest of them. Screw them. I've given all the pieces of the toy box bed a couple coats of paint so I should be able to assemble it, tomorrow, and make whatever finishing touches it needs. I would've like to use a more gender neutral color like green, but I gave most of my paint away, which I'm psyched about, so I making use of the few remaining cans I have from painting the chicken coop, last summer. Light blue and white will have to do. Haven't heard from my brother regarding the insurance company and painting the house so I'm just keeping myself busy until I do. I feel a little cheap waiting to hear from them in order to decide whether I'm going to paint the inside of the house. I should paint it, regardless, if it needs it with my own time and money, but the people who buy it will most likely paint it with their own colors if they don't knock the whole thing down and build something else. Giving it a fresh new coat is just to make it more appealing upon first impression when people come to look at it. This ain't my world.
I should just get the heck out of here as soon as I do the brakes and sell the toy box, but my mind is telling me I'd be stupid not to tough it out a little longer in order to make a few bucks. I don't know how much they're going to cover for sanding the floors and painting the interior. Turns out that 27K was just the amount they charged for cleaning the house. Talk about running a scam. This is what my mind thinks. My heart, on the other hand, is saying, "Guy, it's not worth it. Get out of here, now, and get on with your life. Spring is here. Find some people you can relate to. There's no point in living like this any longer."
April 19, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Haven't heard back from the homeowner's insurance in a week. They were ready to send "their" people to the house to paint the walls and sand the floors a week and half ago, but since we told them that we'd like to hire our own people, it's been radio silence. Interesting. It looks like they're not going to be very cooperative. It took me six months of constant phone calls and emails to get a car insurance company to settle an accident I was in a couple years ago which was 100% the other driver's fault. He didn't even have a driver's license and fled the scene. Luckily, he was driving a company vehicle when he blew through the stop sign which caused the accident, but I never would have seen a dime had I not been so persistent and forced them to do their job to the point of showing up in their main head-quarter's office in Boston insisting on speaking to someone. My car was finally declared "totaled" and they cut me a check for its book value. For the last 24hrs, I've been asking myself how much time and energy do I want to waste with these ding dongs? Could I get them to do their job as well? Yes, but is it worth it? This is their sneaky game, not mine.
When is this going to stop? I tell myself over and over just one more task, one more accomplishment, then everything will be a lot better, but I'm still fighting this fight alone year after year. When am I going to learn?
April 20, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Sitting around waiting for paint to dry, again. I'm getting stuff done, but the days aren't getting any easier. The mornings definitely aren't. It's pretty clear why. This place is not good for me. I can see it in my mood and in some of the comments I've been making. They've been negative and I'm not a negative person nor do I want to become one. I should be focusing my efforts on positive pursuits. I was doing great when I got back here in '17 then everything gradually went south. As well-intended as my motives for coming back were, the result was a bad situation for me. Now, the reason for those motives is gone, but I'm still here by myself trying to turn a negative situation into a positive one. This needs to stop. I need to walk away. It's only prolonging my suffering. To hell with squabbling with some homeowner's insurance company to get a fair shake from them. Freedom is just outside the door and it's far more valuable than any dollar amount. All I have to do is let go and walk through it.
The more I seriously considered doing this, the more I began to feel better as I was working, today. Did the brakes on the truck, yesterday. They were fine. The grinding sound turned out to be coming from the driver's side front wheel bearing, about a $150 part and a bunch more work. Worn brake pads would be any mechanic's, first guess from the sound it was making, but once they've been ruled out, wheel bearings are the next. Replacing a wheel bearing isn't a huge job, but it's no where near as simple as swapping out brake pads and a lot of other things could go wrong in the process so it's time to cut my losses and get rid of the truck, as is. Lowered the price and got some interest. The little bench box is almost done. It came out great. Of course, I noticed how I could make a few improvements and I have, but it should be completely done, tomorrow. Then I'll take some pics and post it. With the amount of money I have, at the moment, I'm not sure buying another truck would be wise. Leaving on foot might be wiser, but I'll make this decision once I've gotten rid of this one. Not getting another truck would require me to get rid of the rest of my tools since I won't have anything to bring them in. I love my tools and fixing stuff, but my mental sanity is more important, right now. I can always buy new ones when I get to wherever I end up.
April 26, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I'm a little disappointed in myself for not writing this past week. I felt stuck and didn't know what to do or write about. I've gotten some stuff done, but not nearly enough so I've been sinking more and more everyday because I haven't been able to come up with a plan. Without a plan, a place to channel my efforts, all the energy inside me starts kicking my butt. I really went down the rabbit hole. I researched getting my ESL certification (teaching English as a Second Language) and looked at the types of jobs I could get all over the world. Then I researched intentional communities spanning the globe country by country and made a list of the ones I was interested in. Then I looked at more intentional communities in the U.S. and made another list. I wrote and posted a letter of introduction on one of the websites I use describing the kind of place I'm looking for. Got a few responses, but nothing like what I described. I'm very happy with the toy box even though I wish I could have used 'funner' colors. I ordered a mattress pad for it which came, yesterday, so I finally posted it. It should sell quick. I've gotten a little interest in the truck with a couple offers, but they've been far too low. They know it's the wrong time of the year to be selling a plow truck so they're trying to get a cheap deal, but the offers barely cover the value of the plow by itself. I may consider one of them just to get it over with, but I'm going to wait a little longer. I might lower the price and park it in downtown Marshfield with a "For Sale" sign on it and do some work at the library for a little while or bring my mountain bike and ride back the 8 miles. I thought about heading up to Dedham to work on it. Then I'd, at least, be around people, but things feel like they're starting to unravel and I probably shouldn't take on anymore projects. It's getting ugly. I need to buy a lawnmower. I gave our lawnmower(s) away this winter because I didn't think I'd be here, this spring. They needed work. If how fast the grass is growing is stressing me out then I know I'm not doing well.
A group of people were walking through the neighborhood, on Sunday. I think two of them own one of the new houses going up. I was working out front grabbing some tools out of the back of my truck as they passed by my driveway. The women in the group all smiled and tried to be friendly. Most of the guys just kept looking forward like they didn't notice me except for one of them, the biggest guy, who I saw running an excavator earlier in the day. He and I just stared at one another neither of us smiling or saying "Hello." It's official. I've turned into an a-hole. This isn't good. I, almost, got into a fight with a guy driving a big dump truck, the other day. The fact is he was driving way too fast and he knew it as I stepped out into the road right in front of him forcing him to put on his brakes. He pulled over and got out of his truck as I reached down and tied up my boots to get ready for some fun, but instead of fighting we, both, just said "Good morning" to one another. Then he walked over to the storm drain which he was there to clean out and I walked over to my mailbox to grab the mail seeing as I was already down at the end of my driveway totally embarrassed and laughing at myself. I was luckily in a good mood when he went bombing by the first time before I made him slow down the second time which is probably one of the reasons why nothing happend, but it's just a matter of time until something does. I'm definitely giving off a negative vibe more often, now, and it takes two jerks to have a pointless fight. I've definitely got one of them covered.
I realized, yesterday, why it bothers me so much that the neighborhood has changed. When I was fresh out of college and embarking on this path, my plan was always to come back and buy all the woods around here so no one could tear them down. I wanted to keep this place natural and peaceful. The woods had always been zoned as too wet to build on, but, now, for some reason they aren't anymore. Interesting. Every time a car or truck speeds past my driveway while I have to listen to nail guns banging and excavators running, I'm constantly reminded how I failed and they won. The ironic and hypocritical part is that's what I did for work during the summers when I was in college, built houses. I hated it. The money wasn't bad, but everything about it was ugly to me. I was just a kid and it was work so what did I know, but there was no care in the job. We just slapped up empty boxes. What right do I have to take issue with it, now?
I failed because during that time I made a pact with myself that I was going to work hard and live an honest life, or as honest as a person could live. I wasn't a goodie-two-shoes. I was, actually, a beer-drinking, hockey-playing punk just before this chapter began, but once I shed that person and the life I was expected to live, I was overwhelmed, motivated and inspired at what I had just found in myself and in life. I was going to put all my eggs in this more meaningful basket and if a person couldn't succeed going about achieving their goals in this way then it wouldn't be my fault. It would be because the system was failing, not me, but I believed in the truth about life and the natural world so much that I never doubted that I would succeed even if I had to work harder than anyone else. No matter what I didn't agree with about the human-made world, I was insistent that it couldn't beat someone who lived according to the timeless and true principles about life and the natural world. This is what I bet on. I bet my life on it.
I'm not making excuses. I'm reminding myself why and how I got here. As hard as it might be, I should probably stay the course and not do anything too drastic. Keep my life simple and keep working on the book to get it done, not just write about it here while never actually finishing it. Hard work is not glamorous. It's tedious and monotonous sometimes, but it bears fruit if you put in the time. This is what I believed. This is what I banked on. No one can take this away from anyone willing to work hard. I'm not selling ideas. This isn't a gimmick. Hard work comes from the heart, not the mind. The mind is just a tool. It can be fueled by positive or negative energy. Positive energy is much more productive and it comes from the heart. Finishing the little toy box was fun and rewarding because it was something I started not long after I got back here then it sat like a pile of wood for a couple years. I didn't feel good about just tossing it all in the burn pile so I did what I needed to do to finish it. Now, I feel great about it. I just sit there and look at it, slide the drawer open and then close it nice and smooth or pull the drawer all the way out and fold out the bed. It all works seamlessly. Even sitting in a chair looking at the neatly stacked pile of bins that is, now, everything I own feels good. Working on a beat up old truck that I didn't even want to buy in the first place and never would have if I wasn't trying to help people who want nothing to do with me does not feel good. I dread it, but I've always pushed through what I dread because that's how I was raised. Hard work is not dreadful. Working hard on something you don't believe in is. That's why I shouldn't stick around and paint this place. For what? Money? My freedom, my happiness and something I believe in like the book and what it represents are more important.
No frills, keep it simple, get a suburban, a physical job and write everyday. Yes, I'll still be lonely, but it is what it is.
April 27, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I'm enjoying sitting at the library. I remember coming here as a little kid so there's definitely a feeling of nostalgia. I saw an old man at the front desk, a minute ago, asking the librarian a question and immediately thought of my father. My heart broke a little. He used to come here once a week or so in his 70's just to get out of the house. My mother had already passed away, my older brother was living in California and lord knows where I was. One year on his birthday, I created a facebook account for him and friend requested a lot of our family and friends and they all wished him "Happy birthday." He's not super computer literate so he asked a girl who worked here to help him log in so he could read them all. There's lots of senior citizens here, today.
As I was walking towards the far back of the library where the studying area is, I noticed a youngish woman at a desk and thought to myself "Working at a library wouldn't be a bad job to have." Simple, straightforward, quiet. I love to learn so there'd be daily access to all kinds of different books. No work out, obviously, but it's amazing how quickly my spirits restore themselves as soon as I leave the house. Sitting at the bar (drinking lemonade) at a funky burger joint a block from the library, I watch people walk past the window while I make small talk with the bartender. Life seems so easy in the euphoria of being out in the world having escaped my mental captivity of those four walls. I was starving and walked across the plaza to grab some lunch. Before I can finish my barbecue cheeseburger, a guy calls, I walk back over and he buys the truck. That took less than 2hrs.
I was going to uber it home, but mr.Fireman was out doing errands so he swung by and grabbed me. Back at the house I can't believe it. Just like that, the world is an oyster, again. I'm going to take a minute and clear my head before running out and buying another truck, but the question lingers, "Now what? or more like, "Now where?"
April 29, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
I couldn't believe how good I felt all night. My mind swirled with countless ideas and possibilities. I even contemplated renting out this house. It's a 3 bedroom and I could charge the tenants far less than the going rate around here (which is ridiculously high) to give working class people a fair chance. I could build another yurt out back to live in. Now that the unhealthy relationship that brought me back is no longer here, it might be fun, but I know this is not a good idea. This superficial suburban world would definitely wear me down eventually. I was just surprised that I even considered it. Changed the front tire on my mountain bike which has had a very slow leak since I bought it and went for a ride down the road to the big nature preserve overlooking the river. At least, that's still here. The osprey perched on top of a tall pole in the middle of the field beside an even taller pole with its giant nest on top of it decided I was getting too close and soared off as I walked past. Made my way through the woods along the boardwalk that winded out to the river and stood there looking out across the water for a while not wanting to leave. Maybe I was saying good-bye. Almost cried walking back up the field along the opposite treeline in the light rain. I stopped and standing there taking it all in, a rainbow appeared in the sky. It spanned across the entire field end to end. The clouds floating through its arch caught some of the light from the sunset on the opposite side of the horizon and, again, I didn't want to leave or maybe I just wanted to take the feeling with me.
Woke up feeling pretty good for a change, browsed online for a new nicer truck and made a list of a few, coordinated the train schedule relative to where they were located in the Boston area. One was on the south shore close enough that I could ride my bike, but didn't contact any of the sellers like I normally would. By last night, the walls were closing in, again, and the euphoria was gone. Sent an email regarding one of the trucks I was interested in, but never heard back which might be a good thing. I have no food and no wheels so I need to do something. I can hop on the bike and ride over to the train station and take it to a Trader Joe's in Hingham which will give me time to think.
A different idea occurred to me other than getting another suburban which I looked into, this morning. Box trucks are something we see everywhere, nowadays, especially since the virus with so many people purchasing items online and having them delivered to their homes. I've driven countless of them delivering for farms, feed stores and commercial fishing companies. If I bought one, I wouldn't have to get rid of anything else or put it in storage. I could take it all with me and still have plenty of room to build a little studio apartment and a small workshop inside like I had in my last cargo trailer. I could even get another motorcycle and haul it with me to have a second vehicle. Another advantage is because there are so many of them on the road, I could park anywhere I want and blend in completely under the radar. I found a used one for sale not far from here in my price range. I could never afford a new one. They're very expensive, but this one is older and needs brake lines which isn't a hard fix. It's definitely rough around the edges cosmetically, but I could fix all this, too. The creative side of me loves the challenge and juxtaposition of taking something industrial and unaesthetic and hiding a cozy little hobbit home inside it. Again, before making any big moves, I decided to sit with the idea and compare the two for the day.
As I was riding around on my bike, this afternoon, getting some exercise and pondering what should be next, agility seemed to be a desirable component. I liked how stealth I felt pedaling along the busy roads on my way to the store darting and zipping out of the way of cars when I needed to. I've had a few large rigs over the years like a 14ft. bread truck, one summer, which I customized. A bread truck is a term that refers to a vehicle like a big UPS van. They're large and square with a sliding side door on either side rather than the typical hinged door most cars and trucks have. I never even used the passenger side door of mine. I kept it closed all the time because I had built a wooden platform with extra storage underneath where the passenger seat used to be for my big side-kick to stand on with his head hanging out the window. That dog had quite the life. The platform was padded and carpeted. People just laughed as we went down the road with a kayak and windsurfer of the roof. Inside, I had a little kitchenette, a bench that pulled out into a bed (sound familiar?), a desk, computer and, of course, a wood stove, but, today, when I imagined moving into a box truck which would be a very similar set-up, just a little bit more modern, it felt big and cumbersome, not simple and agile. I really like the idea of taking everything with me, but it felt clunky. I could always buy a small cargo trailer in a few months once I've worked for a little while and put everything that won't fit in a suburban in that. I can store it at my cousin's temporarily. This felt more efficient. A four-wheel drive vehicle that I could take off into the woods with is more attractive, right now, than rumbling down the road with everything I own in the back.
Even if I end up making the same decision I almost made a couple days ago, the calmer manner in which I'm going about it, now, will carry over into whatever else I move forward towards which is a good thing.
May 1, 2023, Belfast, Maine
Decided on a suburban rather than a box truck. After having fun getting groceries with the bike, it was clear that getting out of the house is something I need to do more of. Made a list of all the trucks I was interested in from Marshfield to Maine. Packed up my camping gear and got ready to walk to the train station, Sunday night. It had been drizzling all day, but now it was pouring. Normal rain clothes don't keep you dry after a couple miles so I decided to grab my lobstering bibs and coat. It was after dark so I could take them off when I got to the train station and stash them in the woods. The thought "Is this really necessary?" crossed my mind. Remembered that a bunch of people I know were at "church" just up the street. Texted an older friend to see if he would drop me at the train station after he left there. I think he's in his early 70's, but still very active. He and his wife were the ones who offered me their camper a few years ago. We'll call him mr.Jack because he's a jack of all trades and always fixing stuff for other people. He was happy to give me a ride, but, also, offered to take me to Boston in the morning, instead, seeing as he drives in for work every day. He works for a commercial truck body shop. The bus I was trying to catch for mid-coast Maine didn't leave until 11am the next morning so making myself rough it in the city all night seemed like a dumb and unnecessary idea.
Mr.Jack said he'd pick me up at 6:30 so I got up at 5 so I'd have time to take everything out of the house and store it on the porch because I didn't know how long I'd be gone. I told my brother he could put the house on the market whenever he wanted to. It was basically empty so there wasn't much to take out, just a mattress, blankets, a cooler, a clothes rack and a laundry basket. I was going to start with the truck that seemed like the best deal which happened to be the furthest away. Then I'd work my way back here. I was bringing my back pack prepared to camp wherever I needed for two reasons, 1. being outdoors and hiking with a big pack is good for me and 2. I didn't want to rush my decision to buy any of the vehicles I was looking at. If I rented a car or took an uber, I might feel rushed because time would be an issue not to mention if I rented a car, I'd still have to figure out a way to get back to wherever the truck was to pick it up, but if I traveled on foot I'd be relaxed and grounded in no hurry at all. I like camping so it would be no big deal if I didn't like any of them. I'd just head on down the road until I came to some woods and call it a night. If I did like it then I'd buy it and drive it home. I realize most people might not relate to this kind of logic, but oh well. They've never walked in my shoes and I've never walked in theirs.
Had a cool conversation about spirituality with mr.Jack on the way to Boston. Sitting in South Station for 3hrs was pretty boring, but I brought my tablet so I worked on the book. The bus ran a little late so by the time we arrived in Belfast it was 4:30pm and I was starving. All I'd eaten was a bowl of cereal for breakfast at 6am. I was supposed to be meeting the guy at 6pm, but the truck wasn't in Belfast. It was in Swanville, ME, a much smaller town 12 miles away out in the country.
My original plan was to walk or jog that last leg of the trip, no pun intended, because I thought I'd have 2hrs to get there, but plan B was to spend some money on a taxi or an uber. I made sure to google cab companies in Belfast before arriving and there was one that had a decent rating on yelp. It might be a little more expensive than an uber, but I didn't want to take any chances waiting for a ride. Sometimes uber can take quite a while to find a driver if you're not in a major city. Belfast is a great little coastal town with a big tourist season, but in early spring the pickings could be slim. Turns out the pickins were none and the cab company went out of business. Thanks yelp for not mentioning this. I discovered all of it as I was walking over to hannaford to grab something to eat and some food for breakfast if I ended up camping. It was, now, 5pm and I was supposed to be meeting the guy at his house in an hour 12 miles away in rural Maine and I had no way of getting there.
Standing on the corner of rte.1 just beyond the grocery store parking lot, I felt the clock ticking and I didn't want to be one of those internet flakes I've had to deal with so many times in the past few months every time I was selling something online and the people never showed up, but I remained calm and focused. I brought a pair of sneakers and shorts to give myself the option to drop everything and run there, but even if I did a 4 minute mile that would still be cutting it close because, first, I'd have to change and stash my pack somewhere. When I was packing up in the morning, something told me to bring a couple of pieces of blank paper. I couldn't just stand there on the corner with my thumb out or even start walking towards Swanville. It wasn't just one highway between me and my destination. He lived out in the country and there were different roads and turns and not a lot of time. Getting a ride partially there wasn't going to help me so I dug out a black sharpie in my pack and wrote in big letters on one of the blank pieces of paper the word "Swanville" and below it "for $20."
Unfortunately, there's so many slacker panhandlers all over the country nowadays no one would make eye contact with me, let alone read what I had written. To them, I was just a guy on a corner holding a sign and Belfast is a little more hoity toity than most towns in the area by Maine standards so they just pretended not to see me. I was clean shaven, had on clean clothes with a nice backpack, but still not a glance. I even took out a 20 dollar bill and held it up with the sign, but still no luck and it was now 5:20. I couldn't let their indifference bring me down. I had to do something. Then a car with the window half rolled down went by and I said with a smile, "Hey, you wanna make 20 bucks?" The guy in the passenger seat said, "Sure" and the girl driving slowed down and stopped. He reached back, popped open the back door, I slid the twelve pack of budlight on the seat over and hopped in. They lived in Swanville. They were girlfriend and boyfriend and on their way home. We talked and joked around the whole time and, now, I was going to be early so I had them drop me about a mile from the guy's house, handed them the twenty and hopped out. Yes, flashing a twenty on a corner with a big wod of cash in my pocket is not the wisest thing in the world to do, but sometimes rules are made to be broken as long as you are aware of the risk and not simply being clueless. This was one of those times.
I walked until there weren't any houses visible then ducked into the woods to take off my big pack and hide it. I figured walking down the guy's driveway way out in the sticks was going to be weird enough without wearing a huge pack. I unclipped the smaller part on top that turns into a mini-pack, stuffed my Maine license plates in it which I would need if I liked the truck, grabbed my water bottle and stepped back out onto the tar. Not much further, I turned off the main road and onto the dirt one that he lived down. A truck drove past and the driver waved and I waved back. I was wearing work boots, newer work pants and a clean t-shirt so other than the small pack I looked like a regular guy though I'm sure it probably seemed a little odd that I was on foot way out in the country. I could see a slight puzzled expression on the owner of the truck's face as I walked up to his driveway and introduced myself. He was hopping out of his truck after backing it out of the driveway to park it along the road so the suburban wasn't blocked in. Actually, it was a yukon xl which is the same thing as a suburban. It just has a GMC logo on the grill instead of a Chevy bowtie, the only difference being that they have a few more bells and whistles. Like a Lincoln vs. a Ford, but they're basically identical. There was another newer yukon the exact same color parked in the driveway. I was actually relieved this wasn't the one I'd come to look at. It had those newer type rims that have become popular lately, very shiny with more rim than rubber, which in my opinion make trucks and suv's look gimmicky and less like a work vehicle.
He was surprised that I had walked there, but I assured him that it was just from the corner where Mike and Zoey had dropped me hoping he might know them. Their names sounded familiar, but he wasn't sure. You never know what to expect when buying or selling a vehicle from someone you've never met and I was prepared to keep a pretty stern poker face in order to assess how well the vehicle ran, but he had such a friendly disposition that this approach went right out the window. We had a few minutes to kill, the man I passed on the road was a friend of his and was riding over to grab a battery charger from his house. The battery in the yukon was dead. Since they bought the new one, they hadn't used it much so it had been sitting for a while. He said he had started it a few days ago, but apparently hadn't let it run long enough for the alternator to charge the battery back up. I believed him.
During our conversation as we waited, I mentioned the name of the farm I worked on two summers ago which was only a few towns away to try to make it a little less weird that I had walked there, but it wasn't really necessary because I think he was the one who felt a little awkward for making me wait. I didn't mind. I was happy that I'd made it there on time and was in no rush. The sun was out and we were on country time, now. His wife let their black lab out so I got to hang out with a dog, too. We talked about the barn he was excited to build on the other side of the driveway. It's going to be a decent size, 30'x 40', insulated with a big wood stove inside. Every man's dream. After his friend got back and another friend walked over from further down the dirt road, the three of us stood around shooting the breeze while his wife sat on the porch reading as the battery charger did its thing. All in all it was a pretty casual transaction. The yukon purred when we got it going and we did the deal. It was definitely going to need a good cleaning. His teenage daughter had been using it before she moved into Belfast with her boyfriend and got her own car. There was probably 3/4 of an inch of nickels, dimes and pennies welded together with dried soda, coffee, candy wrappers and receipts in the drink holders and cubby between the two front seats. It was going to take a screwdriver and boiling hot water to pry it all out and clean it, but I was still ecstatic. I drove straight to autozone in Belfast before they closed to buy a new battery (after pulling over and grabbing my back pack out of the woods). I knew the place well and had been there plenty of times when I lived in the area. Even with this purchase of $120, I was still far below what I had planned on spending on my next vehicle. I couldn't believe it, but I paid $500 less for it than I had just sold my beat-up old plow truck for. Just out of curiosity before I put the new battery in, I turned the yukon off to see if it would start with the old battery since it had been running for a little while, now, and it started right back up. It might have gotten me home, but it was best not to take any chances being 5hrs from Marshfield with a lot of errands to do like going to the bmv in the morning to get it registered. I threw the guy from autozone 10 bucks for helping me seeing as changing a battery with a leatherman is possible, but when it's located under a corner brace in the engine compartment that needs to be removed, first, I had to borrow some tools from them.
No camping in the woods for me, tonight. I parked in a familiar spot by the waterfront in Belfast and enjoyed the pad thai salad and kefir I'd gotten at the grocery store earlier. Even though I was sleeping in my vehicle, my status in this superficial society had just gone way up from driving my rust bucket plow truck with a noisy exhaust to this deluxe soccer mom SUV. I'll put some off road tires on it and maybe install a small lift kit to make it look like I have a pair, but I won't be embarrassed anymore driving through the neighborhood when I get back to Marshfield. I thought seriously about going by the farm to see River, in the morning, but I dreaded having to tell him that I wasn't coming back to work there. He'd be fine about it, but I need to get my ducks in a row for whatever's next so I'll stop in and see him next time I'm in the area.
May 4, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Sitting in the library, again, trying to decide whether to dive into researching more communities or get caught up on recent progress, I just started writing to diffuse some of the extra energy I have, at the moment. I swung by the harbor before coming here to see if mr.Lobsterman was around. It's early May so this is when they're putting their traps back in and I was going to offer to help him and burn off some of this energy in the process. 800 traps is a lot to get back in the water, but the ocean is pretty stormy, today, and no one was around. He's probably home working on gear. I want to do a little body work to the yukon. It doesn't need much, but I'm so excited about having it that I want to make it look as nice as possible before I start getting dirt all over it. I've had it four days and it still doesn't feel like mine, yet. It's the nicest vehicle I've ever owned. Feels more like a rental. Most of my friends around here fall into the yuppie category, but not mr.Lobsterman so I thought after I helped him I could work on my truck parked next to his barn. I have all my tools with me and he wouldn't mind. We could hang out while we, both, worked on our stuff. It's kind of rainy, today, so I can't do any bondo work, but I can, at least, wire brush, sand and prep all the little rust spots. It's supposed to be dry this weekend so I'll do the bondo then. Of course, I could just do it in my own driveway, but I'm hating being there more and more. Screw those phonies. I'm tired of being alone all the time trapped in the Truman Show. I was going to head up to Dedham, but mr.Lobsterman's is just down the street instead of 30min away.
Left the library after researching communities in Asheville, NC which is where I'm leaning towards heading when I leave here. Santa Fe, NM and Missoula, MT are on the list, too, but Asheville's a lot closer and it's a hub of intentional communities for such a mountainous and wild area once you get out of the city. I've passed through there a few times in my travels. Went by mr.Lobsterman's but he wasn't around, drove up to Dedham and my cousin wasn't around either. His dad, my uncle, was always working on something in the driveway, but things have been a lot quieter since he's passed away. My cousin lives across the street and I was going to ask if he minded if I worked in his dad's driveway, but my cousin had his new dump trailer parked in it. Popped in on my other uncle, aunt and my other cousin next door, but their driveway was full of vehicles, too, so I felt awkward about asking and left like a wimp. It was getting dark by the time I made it back to my driveway, but I worked on the yukon until late and still got it ready for bondo.
May 6, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
The weather was beautiful, today. It's been a cold overcast spring so far, but we finally had one of the first warm sunny days of the year. I tried hard to enjoy it and my body definitely did. On days like this, a person can almost feel the vitamin D soaking back into their core after a long winter, but mentally, it was just another lonely day. Luckily, I stayed fairly productive. I'm sure not writing enough in the last week contributed to the loneliness. It's sad how much it helps me, but until I make it someplace where I'm not by myself all the time I need to keep doing this regularly. I was so excited and focused on getting stuff done that I didn't want to sit down and make myself write so I was waiting until things subsided a little and I had some downtime, but with it being spring on comes the farming season and downtime might be a little far off. Busy or not, it finally caught up with me so now I have to.
I should have been doing something fun, today, with other people enjoying the first spring like day, but I just stayed home and worked. I gave a couple things away this morning that I had posted online which was a pleasant experience. One guy stopped by to grab a head gasket set (that's a very important engine part) still new in the box that I bought for my old 4Runner a couple years ago and he pulled up in a completely restored 1986 Toyota 4Runner with the top off! All I could say over and over was "Wow." It was so nice that I was beside myself looking at it. It was even white like mine was. It's a corny expression, but the engine was so clean that you could eat off it. What a treat. After talking shop for a few minutes, he thanked me for the free part and with a beep and a wave cruised off down the road to enjoy the perfect sunny day. The ironic thing is that I've got plenty to be happy about myself, right now. I took advantage of the warm temperatures to do the body work to the yukon. The honeymoon has subsided a little, but I'm still pretty psyched to have it.
I made myself go out alone, last night, and try to have fun. It was Cinco De Mayo and Friday, as well, so I wasn't going to spend another night doing nothing. I ended up at a place I've never been before. I was looking for a blue-collar type bar where people were more down to earth and not afraid to have fun than the pretentious money crowd around here. Just when I thought there were no more places like this in the area, I hit the jack pot. They had a live band that was very good and people were dancing and having a good time. It was in a working class town a little ways from here, but I remembered passing through it a few times when I'd make the hour long commute from the farm I worked on in 2019 in Easton, MA. Sometimes I'd take in even longer way back to avoid traffic and that's when I'd go through that area.
The parking lot was packed and I was actually a little nervous walking up to the door, but there were plenty of trucks which was a good sign and once I got inside and saw the band and all the people dancing I knew it would be fine. It was a little bright inside for my preference and the area to dance was small and already crowded, but that's a good thing. I didn't need to dance. I was just happy to be somewhere. Everyone seemed to know everyone and I was a little younger than most of them so I didn't need to bring any attention to myself. I just stood in a corner nursing a beer and sang along with the band bouncing up and down. They played a lot of Metallica and Black Sabbath so I didn't know every song, but knew most of them. I had to relocate, at one point, when an attractive cougar grabbed me by the shoulders as she danced, but her man had a close eye on her so I politely moved to the other side of the room. I got out of there before the last song ended, but it was still fun compared to how I spend most nights. I felt very lucky to have found the place and it was great to see how everyone knew each other and sang along with the band who, also, seemed to know everyone. J&R Indian Head Pub, you guys rock!
May 8, 2023, Deerfield, Massachusetts
I'm parked at a quiet park & ride near the freeway and I need to get a good night's rest. It's been a while and I can't fall asleep so I might as well write. I've got to be up early to see about a job which is why I can't fall asleep. I'm always a little wound up before starting a new job. I'm not sure I'll be starting one in the morning, but I could be. They're looking for a driver to make deliveries in a 26ft. refrigerated box truck who can, also, lend a hand on the farm, one of my favorite types of jobs. I sent them an email, this afternoon. The farm's in western mass, 2+hrs from Marshfield, so I drove out here to drop off my resume in person, as well, first thing in the morning to show them that I'm serious. It's something I always do to insure that I get a job or, at least, to insure that I did everything I could to get it.
Things have been going good on the outside, but getting pretty bad on the inside for the same old reasons. When am I going to learn? "You can't do it alone!" I say it like it's a choice, but I haven't chosen to live alone. Yes, I've chosen to not participate in an artificial and corrupt system and the result has been that I've found myself alone. If these are my only two choices, sell my soul or isolation, then I'm screwed. I don't know what to do. I've been sinking fast for the past few days, but I need to do something. I just don't know what. Maybe I have too many options and this is keeping me in a state of constant deliberation unable to make a concrete plan. I'll make one then I'll start second guessing it and make a new one. It's spring and I need to start working. I tried to put finding a community first and then find a job in the nearby area, but then I started to feel too needy looking for a community so I started looking for a job, first, but that only perpetuates the living hell I've been in for as long as I can remember. I need to find people. This is the bottom line and this is what I've been focused on, but my brain is fried from researching so many communities online in the last week. Keeping my phone on and using it so much is definitely not helping my mental clarity, but I have to use it to find a place.
I don't have enough money to travel internationally comfortably. I could get myself somewhere, but whatever money I had left over wouldn't last very long so I'd have to find work and working in a foreign country can get tricky. The problem is that I don't want to be here. Starting with the south shore of Massachusetts and possibly including the entire U.S. We have lost control of the media. They have declared war on the sanity and peace of mind of normal, hard working, everyday people. What they are doing is sick. They are either doing it deliberately or they are sick themselves. I think because I live alone their tactics take more of a toll on me. Even though I don't even own a television, I feel like I can't escape it. Determined to do something, I sent an email about the job and drove out here.
May 9, 2023, Deerfield, Massachusetts
Got up at 5:30 and something felt weird. I was very dizzy. I couldn't focus my eyes because everything was spinning and I started to get nauseous. I lied back down to try to make it stop. It helped a little, but then I started to get cold sweats. At first, it reminded me of the time I woke up in the woods in the vanagon that night with my four-legged buddy who basically saved my life. I tried to figure out what was wrong with me, this time, if I had unknowingly inhaled something all night. The truck wasn't running. I'd never sleep with a vehicle running. There weren't any gas jugs or other fumable liquids in my tool bins by my feet. I couldn't figure it out. I'd slept in the yukon a bunch of times already and it's been very comfortable. What the heck was wrong with me? Up and down I went trying to sit up and get my balance and pull myself out of it. I managed to roll up onto my knees and put my sleeping bag away and organize the back of the yukon a little. I've got car-camping down to a science, at this point, so it's pretty neat in here even with two bins of tools, a basket of clothes, a cooler and my guitar. Eventually, I felt well enough to start the truck and drive the 7 miles out to the farm. The country is beautiful here. I haven't spent a lot of time in this area. As small as Massachusetts is, it's like a whole different state out here. It was too early to stop by the farm unannounced, but I still wanted to see how it looked then I'd find a quiet place to pull off the road in the area and wait a little while. The place looked good, neat, tidy, but not overly anal or pretty. Functional. Lean. My farmer friend in Easton who I stopped by to say "Hi" to on my way here, yesterday, has heard good things about this one and his farm is one of the best I've ever worked on so that says a lot. He told me they're one of the biggest organic produce suppliers in the state.
I found a spot a little ways past the farm where the high tension wires cross the road and pulled over to have a bowl of cereal. I got out and walked around and felt better. At one point when I first woke up, I actually wondered if I was going to have to go to the hospital which is never my first choice, but a last resort. It was around 6:30, now, and almost time to introduce myself. The job description says the work schedule started at 7am so I figured the owner or managers would be there a little earlier than that. As I rolled up to the farm, I didn't stop. Instead, I just kept driving. Something didn't feel right, not about the farm. From what I saw and read online after checking out their website and what my friend mentioned, it seemed like the perfect job for me so why didn't I pull in like I've done so many times in a different town in a different part of the country for a different job?
I've been telling myself over and over for as long as I can remember that something has to change and here I was about to do the same ol'thing I always do. I'd just slept in my truck at a park & ride in order to get a job that barely pays anything. I'm not assuming I would have gotten the job, but regardless this wasn't change. I don't know what happened to me this morning, but while I was going through it there was an accompanying feeling that I was completely alone in the world while incapacitated and helpless for a few seconds and this was not fun. It was kind of terrifying. It's not the first time I've had that feeling even though it's the first time I've ever woken up like that and, now, I was about to once again put my life, my well-being, aside because that's what a responsible hard working person does while secretly fighting for my survival. I told myself "Don't be a pussy. Suck it up. You need a job," and I did. I pushed through the nauseousness and got my wits about me and was ready to put my best foot forward, but the future looked pretty bleak if this was how I was embarking on it.
The problem is I don't know what else to do. I made a very long and thorough list of all the places in Asheville I was interested in mapping them all out and their mileage from the city. I even wrote an email to one of them, but never sent it. Found some possible jobs down there, too, but I'm hesitant to commit to a community because I haven't given up on creating my own so who would want me if I'm only going to leave them in a year? I know this is just my mind second-guessing and over-analyzing things, but I've been having a hard time getting out of my head, lately. Maybe it's because I haven't been writing much. Ya think? Maybe the reason I refuse to compromise and go along with the system is because I'm alone not the other way around. Maybe my loneliness came first and then was reinforced by my stubborn idealism. Maybe my stubborn idealism is a result of my loneliness. So here I am parked at a rest area on rte.91 not knowing in what direction to go.
May 10, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Sitting at the rest area, yesterday, I got a call from mr.Striper, my buddy who owns the charter fishing business in Scituate. The scholarship that we give out every year to a high school student needs to be decided on, but the high school still hasn't sent us the applicant essays for us to read and it's almost mid-May so I told him I'd go by the high school in person to get to the bottom of it. He's called a bunch of times, but no one's gotten back to him. He's got a full time job at the power plant in Weymouth in addition to his charter business, not to mention raising three kids. I have the time. I left western Mass letting go of the job opportunity, for now, and stopped in Dedham to apologize to my aunt and uncle for not saying good-bye the other day. I shouldn't always visit just because I need something. I spent the afternoon with my uncle tinkering on his boat and trailer parked next to his garage. It's almost ready to go in the water. My cousin across the street was home, too, so I hung out with him for a little while as he worked on the porch of his father's house which used to be our grandfather's. His mum lives there, now, all by herself and it's a big house. There were 7 kids when our parents grew up there. Had a nice dinner with my aunt and uncle. My other cousin, their youngest son, wasn't home from work, yet, so I didn't get to see him, but I told them I'd be around more so I'll see him soon.
Crawling around on the ground under my uncle's boat trailer, the nausea and dizziness came back. It has something to do with lying down. It almost feels like I have a concussion, but I haven't bumped my head in a long time. Playing hockey and getting in my fair share of fights, I definitely know what one feels like. It wasn't as bad this morning, but it definitely hasn't gone a way. I'll deal with it, later, when I get some stability. As I was making the 2hr trip back here, I began contemplating working for myself building stuff for the summer while helping out whoever might need it, my cousin, mr.Lobsterman, mr.Striper, mr.Fireman, mr.Finance, farms in the area, etc. until the house sells. Got an email from the farm out in western Mass, this morning, and they want me to come in for an interview on Friday. The plot thickens. It'd be easier to get a consistent work-out which is something I'm desperately craving, not to mention a steady pay check, taking the truck driver gig. Maybe it comes down to precedence. I think not pulling in, yesterday morning, was the right move. It broke that pattern. It made me put myself ahead of the job. There's a small, artsy, homestead-type, intentional community not far from the farm in Amherst that I was considering reaching out to. There's a lot of them in that area of western Mass which is why I looked for work out there. A lot of them might be a little too progressive and touchy-feely for me, but I have to start somewhere and it's closer than Asheville. Who the frig knows, at this point. Working for myself gives me more independence and free time, but could lack consistency and regular social interaction. I don't have to take the job. I can't be taken in just because someone has shown an interest in me, but I told the owner I'll see him on Friday morning. Let's see if I can keep a poker face this time. As scatter-brained as all this sounds, writing it down is helping. Better this sound scattered than my brain.
May 12, 2023, Turner Falls, Massachusetts
Well, I am, now, game-fully employed. I had to do something. I couldn't live an orbitless existence any longer. Visiting my aunt, uncle and cousin the other day was good. It gave me a dose of social contact, but it happened because I went to them. They always welcome me to be a guest in their world and I'm grateful for this, but I need my own where people want to get to know me. At one point, I even mentioned wanting to get my book finished just to test the waters and the room went crickets. My family is very opinionated, just like me, even loud, but the easiest way to get them to stop talking is to mention something personal. Works like a charm. I love them and there's no hard feelings, but chasing down social interaction where I have to dial myself down is not the answer. I'll try to make it a point to see them more once I get somewhere that works for me.
Things aren't perfect. This is the last place in the world I ever thought I'd be, but it actually feels good. The owner of the farm and I hit it off. I didn't hide my cards and it didn't seem like he did either. He seems like a soft-spoken easy-going guy, but I know this can't be all that he is if he's running a big operation like the one he has. A lot of the people working there which reaches about 40 in height of the summer have been there over 10 years which is a good sign. We know a lot of the same people so he didn't even check my references. The position was advertised as 4 days/week which made me think I might actually be able to get my book done which I shared with him, but I, also, added that I'm sure guilt will kick in and I'll end up working 5 which made him laugh. We'll see. I sent emails to a couple different communities in the area so maybe I'll meet some new people.
I've been parked at a boat ramp with my portable solar panel on the roof charging up the little wheel chair battery I bought last summer. A guy in his 30's just backed an older model aluminum bow-rider down the ramp with his wife, or girlfriend, in it as their little girl rode shotgun in the truck with him. It was a nice scene watching the little girl and Dad talking as they walked barefoot across the parking lot after parking the truck and trailer while mom waited for them in the boat at the dock. It's getting closer to 5 o'clock and an army of trucks with jet skis in tow have been filing in to drop their water rockets into the big Connecticut River. Here come the bass boats. Oh, and some kayakers. I've never had a pontoon boat. Maybe it's time. Ya know, one with a little cabin on it and a place to dock a couple jet skis. It could be my weekend getaway. This is might be a place that I can work with. I just have to careful to keep my building projects to a minimum. They're more fun than writing, but that's the one I need to finish.
May 13, 2023, Bernardston, Massachusetts
After I left the boat ramp, I decided to go for a walk around downtown Greenfield to familiarize myself with my new town. Summer arrived quickly, this year. It was Friday and you could feel the buzz in the air as the little city kicked off the weekend. No pun intended, their annual bee festival isn't 'til next week. Greenfield, although a lot smaller, reminds me of what Portland, ME used to be years ago before it became overrun and over-populated. When I first moved there, you could drive through downtown at 5 o'clock and not hit any traffic. The city actually turned the stop lights off in the evening and switched them all to blinking yellow lights. The people were a mixture of working class, artists, musicians, students, restaurateurs and business owners. I read somewhere that San Francisco has the most restaurants of any city in the U.S., but little Portland, ME has just as many per capita. When I rolled through there on the bus the other day on my way to get the truck it was sad to see the trash everywhere, now, and the packs of homeless people commandeering most of the open spaces.
I loved it back then and Greenfield has everything I loved. Ok, there's no ocean and working waterfront here, but there's lots of farms and a very big river. Close enough. I had a lot to learn back then. I was still living in an apartment fresh out of college. That's the last place I lived before embarking on my first cross-country road trip which I've never returned from. The scary thing is I just inquired about an apartment, this eveining, and even though the young lady renting it got countless responses because it seems like a really nice place and very affordable, she emailed me right back and we're going to speak, tomorrow. It feels weird, but I'm just testing the waters.
I found a quiet bench to chill on and, after a productive conversation with mr.Model who left me a voicemal the day before yesterday, we realistically ironed out our expectations and hopes for someday buying land together which felt great. Then I went to a contra dance. There was a beginner's class at 7:30pm before the actual dance began at 8 which was good because I've never been to one which is a little pathetic seeing as I'm a farmer who likes to dance so it was about time. It was fun. There were all ages and skill levels so I didn't embarrass myself too much. The only thing I didn't like was that they made us wear masks. When the lady collecting the $10 admission told me this, I thought seriously about turning around and walking out of there. Actually, I did turn around and take a few steps towards the door, but I didn't leave. I just thought about it for a few minutes. For one thing, I had walked over a mile to get there. I read the poster on a big store front window in downtown Greenfield among a bunch of other fun-sounding posters while talking to mr.Model and I happened to be standing on the corner of the street where the contra dance was taking place. It was just a lot further down that street than I had calculated. It was my first day in Greenfield so I hadn't calibrated its scale and distance, yet. Whatever, walking a mile is nothing. There was a rave starting later in the night that I was planning on hitting, too, when I left the contra dance because they don't usually go very late which was just across the street from where I saw the posters. I checked.
I left a little early. I got lucky once the beginner class was over as different women asked me to dance, but it was, also, pretty humbling being lost in a sea of strangers who seem to know what they're doing while I didn't have a clue. It reminded me of the night I went to the country line dance class at that sports bar, but not nearly as uncomfortable. When I finally found myself sitting out for the first time, I was a little relieved to give my brain a break from trying to learn all the steps, but as the song seemed to go on forever, the grand canyon began to open up below me and I bounced. I got the impression that everyone else came with friends or already knew most of the people there, but, at least, I tried. There weren't any women sitting down waiting who I could have asked anyways, just a nice older gentleman who I talked with a little and some kids meandering around. All and all, it was fun even with the masks. I think it makes sense if some people want to wear one, but I'll call ahead and wait until they're not mandatory anymore to go, next time.
It was dead outside the club when I walked back downtown to go to the rave. Duh, of course, it was. It's only 9:30, zippy. I didn't go out until 10:30 or 11 when I was a regular at Zootz, my favorite all welcome, all ages club in Portland. I didn't feel like lingering around for over an hour. I had to be up in the morning to go to a work party that I volunteered for at one of the communities I emailed earlier in the afternoon who had gotten back to me. Yes, they let people come and work for them for free. Can you believe it? Whatever, I was trying to meet new people. If dancing is my favorite thing to do for fun, working is my second. Like the mask, when I found out that there was a suggested donation of $10 to work for them, I almost vetoed the whole idea, but I sucked it up, again, and didn't overreact. The work party included lunch and food isn't free not to mention who knows what kind of people they usually get showing up at those things. I'm guessing some of them might not be the best workers. I decided to look at it like I was paying for my own lunch and getting to meet and help out some new people. My best thinking got me into the lonely existence I've been living for God knows how long so like Einstein said "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them," so I told my brain to shut-up and went.
The next morning I was standing in a circle of about 15 people on the lawn doing stretches before we all went off to tackle one of the projects listed on the dry erase board we were interested in helping with. After spreading a pile of wood chips at the children's playground, I was drilling holes in a log of red maple to pack with shitake mushroom spawn. The folks at the community had an electric drill plugged into an extension cord, but I was happy to grab my cordless done out of the truck along with a couple tape measures and a sharpie if anyone needed one to mark where the holes should go. Sky, a hockey player from Cambridge, and I were on drill duty. Then I grabbed a log and hopped over to the table where Teddy was working inserting mushroom spawn into the holes of the logs. Then we dabbed melted wax from a hot plate with a paint brush over the holes to seal them good. After stacking the finished logs in the shade of a group of hemlock trees and covering them with pine bows from a brush pile to keep the logs cool, it was lunchtime.
When we all went around and introduced ourselves in the morning, I was the only non-resident in the group, but there were a handful of people around my age as well as some younger summer interns still in college or who just graduated so there could be potential to make some new friends. Everyone either left on their weekend plans or retired to their leisurely Saturday routines after lunch, but I went back to the wood chips because we hadn't quite finished spreading both piles before moving on to mushroom inoculation. Having permission to be somewhere is a rarity when I'm on the road so working longer was a small price to pay allowing me to get some more exercise while mentally making a plan regarding what I was going to do when I left. They had a couple lawnmowers they couldn't get going and I was really tempted to fix them, but I didn't want to wear out my welcome or step on the guy's toes who couldn't get the one he was working on running. He seemed a little grumpy, but most of the people were very friendly. It must be hard living somewhere with a constant stream of strangers parading through your world.
It's a big place, 90 acres, that started in 1978 so I'd heard of it years ago when I started researching intentional communities. I even attended one of their potluck dinners when I first got back from Alaska in 2017, but I had a lot to do in Marshfield and the 2+hr drive wasn't practical, at the time. One of the older women who I met that evening was there, yesterday, and sort of remembered me. They have a lot of people coming through there all the time so it must be impossible for them to remember every single person especially if it was just for a couple hours 5 years ago, but when our eyes met we, both, recognized each other and got to catch up a little. She runs a kindergarten just down the road. I'm not sure if she's one of the founding members, but she's been there a long time. Some of the people there knew about the contra dance and sometimes go so maybe next time I won't have to go alone.
May 13, 2023, Brattleboro, Vermont
I pulled over to sleep at a rest area on the freeway headed north towards VT, last night. A state police officer came by and shined his flashlight in my window as I was lying in the back writing on my laptop and I just smiled and waved. He gave me a thumbs-up and walked back to his patrol car. That was nice. Maybe it's because the whole sprinter vans customized for camping craze is getting even more popular. I've seen a lot more of them in the last few weeks so all these newbie van-lifers might be making police more leinent on people sleeping in their vehicles. It was a rest area, after all, and that's what I was doing, resting. I'm sure that the yukon being nice and clean on the outside and neat on the inside helped. I spent most of the day at the Vermont Welcome Center in Guilford. I wasn't planning on it, but it's a nice, quiet and clean rest area/welcome center so I thought it'd be a good place to stop while I was waiting to hear back from the woman I emailed, last night, about a room she was renting before heading further north into Vermont. The room was back in Greenfield and only 5 miles from the farm I'll be starting on next Monday. I never thought I'd consider giving my paycheck to the housing economy racket in this country, ever again, but the farm owner mentioned how reasonably priced rent was in this area and I could get a lot more work done on the book if I had a quiet place to sit down and write whenever I wanted so I was browsing craigslist to get a sense of how much apartments, houses and rooms go for around here. He was right. They're much cheaper than most cities though calling Greenfield a city is a stretch. It's the perfect size, in my opinion, just big enough to have all kinds of cool stuff going on that large cities have, but without everything I don't like about them mainly trash and traffic. Brattleboro, only 20 miles north, is another great one by these standards.
I wasn't planning on actually inquiring about any places to live, but when I read her ad something told me to reach out to her. The pictures were very nice and the kind of place she described seemed inviting and friendly. She's close friends with her neighbors, it's a duplex, and they're all teachers and musicians and often have impromptu backyard concerts. Some of the questions she listed for potential renters to respond to revealed a level of EQ (emotional intelligence) which is not very common these days, but it represented that she has done her homework on herself and looking for others who have to. It's a fine line between being high maintenance and codependent compared to being happy and well-adjusted. Both types of people use a lot of the same terms and phrases, but, for me, it doesn't take long to determine which category a person falls into. Sitting on the porch in the warm sunlight with her all evening talking, both of us pretty much forgot why we were meeting. She's from Montana where she lived in a cabin by herself in the wilderness for 7 years before moving to Greenfield and she's been considering moving to Santa Fe so we had lots to talk about. She's, also, a writer. The conversation confirmed that she had done her homework in a good way. Plus, she was only asking $550 a month to share the whole place which included raised bed boxes for a garden in the front yard, a big enough driveway where I'd be allowed to work on my truck, but still not be in anyone's way as well as a back yard to have bbq's and mini-concerts all in walking distance to downtown Greenfield, grocery and autopart stores. Regardless if we become roommates, maybe I made a new friend.
While I was chilling at the welcome center on such a sunny afternoon, I broke out my little solar panels and charged up my tiny battery so my devices are all topped off and I can get lots of work done, today. I think I'm going to head north later and look at a kayak I saw for sale on craigslist. There's lots of rivers and lakes around here so going for a paddle will give me a break from the road when I need it.
May 15, 2023, Montpelier, VT
Wow, what a day. Can it be this simple? I was trying to remember the last time I felt ok. I know it's only short lived until I find my tribe, but I can still appreciate these moments when they occur. I suppose a person has to know what it's like to not feel ok in order to realize that they are, once again. I knew what it was like, a long time ago. I'd say it ended the first time the grand canyon showed up. Once the floor of your world falls out from under you, it's hard not to be constantly vigilant to keep it from inevitably happening, again.
At the moment, I'm flying, floating, soaring high above the abyss so I'm very thankful. Even this dirt park&ride on the outskirts of the state's capital which is probably the nicest city I've ever been to, with Helsingbor in Denmark being a close second, seems perfect. It's nestled into a forest of trees, but brightly lit with street lights over the handful of cars and trucks parked here. I blend right in and will get a good night's sleep, tonight. There's lots to catch up on, but I'm not going to allow this tool, the blog, that has been so valuable to me to become a travel journal or simply an indulgence of cool things I've gotten to experience. This is a tool and I've got work to do so once I get caught up on the most recent developments, it's roll up my sleeves time.
I can't wait to start my new job, lose these little love handles hiding under my tshirt and get back into shape, but that won't be until next Monday so rather than sit around and watch the clock tick or go back to Marshfield I found a tandem kayak for sale up in northern Vermont for only 200 bucks (a new one goes for well over a thousand) so I decided to make a road trip out of going to look at it. Selling my canoe a month ago wasn't easy, but I didn't know were I was headed so I needed to travel light, not to mention that people who bought it didn't use it to go paddling on the river, but rather as a lawn ornament in front of a new house they're trying to sell which I learned from mr.Fireman who drove by it. Friggin ridiculous.
May 16, 2023, Claremont, New Hampshire
Met the guy at his house and bought the kayak. It was pretty dirty, but still a solid boat. Found a self-serve car wash and power-washed the heck out of it. Took ten years of dirt off. Now, it's a nice looking water-craft. I emailed an older couple in VT, yesterday, who I met a few years ago to see if they need help with any projects at the mini-community they're trying to start and heard back from them, this afternoon, so I'm going to go by and see them in the morning.
Found a public parking lot near some apartment buildings to park for the night not far from where they live. I almost went straight there, but I had a lot of writing to do so I decided to rough it in the yukon where I won't have any distractions. I'll be relieved if no one tries to steal my kayak off the roof while I'm sleeping. I'll find a place to keep it when I get back to Greenfield so I'm not driving around with it all the time, but I can't wait to explore some of the rivers and lakes around here.
May 19, 2023, Bernardston, Massachusetts
I was parked way down the end of a rest area which was completely empty, other than me, when some guy pulled right up behind me so I got out and told him off. This was the third time something like this happened in the last 24hrs and I was fed up. The last guy, actually, beeped his horn to try to get my attention. We were the only two vehicles parked in a huge parking lot. I had just stopped there to eat something, but I left when he pulled up next to me. It's annoying to have some creepy stranger staring at you.
Because I've been doing more freeway driving than usual, I've been using more rest areas which I usually avoid for obvious reasons. Men are creepy. I'm not going to say "Gay guys are creepy" because being gay has got nothing to do with it. If for some reason women started hanging out at rest areas, do you know how many straight dudes would be going to them all the time? Too many to count. Rest areas would be full of them. It's being men that makes these guys creepy, not being gay. Obviously, not all men are creepy. I'm not. I'd like to believe most aren't, but a lot of them are. Just ask any woman or, in this case, just ask a guy who's been stopping at rest areas a lot lately.
Enough was enough. After I yelled at the guy, I got in my truck and drove off to get away from his creepy vibe and as I'm pulling into the next rest area which surprisingly wasn't very far down the freeway there was a guy standing right in the middle of the road at the entrance. As I rolled in, he got out of my way and stood beside a beat-up old van with the back doors partially opened and a bunch of ropes hanging out onto the ground. I was like "What the f*ck is going on here?!" He quickly closed the doors when he saw me. I parked down the far end of the parking area and watched him for a minute. The whole situation seemed sketchy and I was tired of these weirdos making rest areas their own private hook-up spot so I got out and walked towards him, but I didn't want to seem like a total a**hole so I dialed down my suspicion as I approached him. As I got closer, he got smaller and I asked him if he was having trouble. It turned out that he was a nice little Mexican man who was broken down. He didn't speak much English and I don't speak much Spanish, but we were able to communicate enough for me to help him. He had just driven his motorcycle to buy the van which then broke down on the freeway, but he was able to nurse it to this rest area. The problem was that he couldn't get the motorcycle out, which was crammed into the back of the van, by himself so he could ride it home. That's what all the ropes were for. He, also, had a small sheet of plywood leaned against the bumper as a make-shift ramp which wasn't very long so it was a steep drop from the back of the van to the ground, but between the two of us we were able to lift the motorcycle, one tire at a time, onto the plywood and slowly roll it down to the ground. He was very happy. I asked him his name and shook his hand telling him mine and we parted ways. I guess I was supposed to leave the last rest area so I could go to this one and help him.
May 19, 2023, Wachusett, Massachusetts
Cut up a bunch of big pine logs with a chainsaw at mr.Solar's little community in VT, yesterday. He and his wife own the land and buildings and they're actively looking for other people to move there and live there with them, but they keep getting older people who have no place to go rather than people deliberatly looking to join an intentional community. Then he and I took a ride so I could help him drop off some big deep cycle batteries and a new state of the art charge controller for a solar installation he's supplying the parts for. The customers are going to put it together themselves. They're a young couple building their own house and starting a little off the grid homestead. Mr.Solar is basically retired, but because he's been in the business for so long little jobs are always popping up so he cherry picks a few once in a while and does them. We have great talks, but I felt a little drained when I left there. They're older and nice folks, but there seems to be drama going on whenever I visit so I just try to be a good listener and then after 24hrs or so, it's time to head on down the road.
I've got to head back to Marshfield, tomorrow, to mow the lawn, get the mail and grab a few things like my social security card for paperwork I need to fill out on Monday at the farm so I drove over to the closest commuter rail station to take the train in the morning. The station is an hour from Greenfield, but that's still a lot closer than 2 1/4hrs to Marshfield. The truck's running great, but I've already made the trip twice and with no home base anymore, I'm just trying to not overuse the one thing that I have to rely on in this world, not to mention all the gas I'd be using driving back and forth. The train will take a lot longer because I have to switch from North Station to South Station once I get to Boston, but it's only 10 bucks for an unlimited weekend pass so that's a pretty great deal.
Stashing the kayak in the woods, this afternoon, felt pretty ridiculous, but I don't know anyone in the Greenfield area, yet, and I didn't want to leave it on the roof of the yukon while it was parked at the train station for two days so I bought a green tarp, drove down a quiet country road until there were no houses, pulled over, carried it deep into the woods and covered it up. I felt like I was doing something wrong and I'm sure no one would believe me if I tried to explain why I was carrying a kayak into the woods, but whatever. It is what it is. I wanted to go to the work party at the community I visited last weekend, again, tomorrow morning, but it's going to take half the day to get to Marshfield and it's supposed to rain and I've only got one day to mow the lawn so the sooner I get there the better. I've got to head right back to Greenfield on Sunday morning. I'll go to the work party next Saturday and maybe I'll ask someone there if I can leave my kayak with them. They're welcome to use it, too. I thought about paying for a storage unit and I still might, but I'm going to wait until I get a couple paychecks under my belt, first, same with the room for rent. She wants to talk to me on the phone, tonight, at 8. She said she had a couple more questions for me. Hopefully, she found someone to move in. I was going to contact her this week and tell her that I was no longer interested in the room, but then I decided to just let it take its course. I'm the king of passing on opportunities prematurely and I'm trying to make some changes wherever I can. I told her how I live and that I haven't paid rent in decades so hopefully she won't be too disappointed. I just can't justify paying rent, especially in the summer. Plus, it turned out that it wasn't her place. She was renting it from her neighbors who live in the other half of the duplex with there two children and that was a little too many people to answer to, a roommate and a husband and wife next door. I'm just hoping she found someone.
Well, that stunk. She was very nice about it, but I still felt bad. She confessed that I was her first choice for the room. That made me feel even worse. I told her that I hope we keep in touch and she said it would be fun to hang out sometime, but I couldn't tell if she was just trying to be gracious or she really wanted to so instead of making plans, I thought maybe I should let the dust settle, first. I'll reach out to her in a week or so.
May 20, 2023, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Up at 4:30, caught the train at 5, got to Boston at 6:37am, hopped on the orange line to the red line, somehow made it to South Station by 6:58 which was when the bus to Braintree was supposed to be leaving. They're doing work to the tracks on the weekends so instead of catching the train from South Station like I normally would, we had to take a bus from Boston to Braintree and then grab the train there. I knew all this ahead of time because I checked, but when I arrived, there was no bus. Walked inside to the information desk and asked the girl at the counter where I should go to catch the bus to Braintree and she said that it'll be parked out front, but I already knew that it wasn't so I asked if they were running on time. She said the next one leaves at 8am. F*ck me. Guess I won't be catching the train to Greenbush at 7:23. Waited around til 8, caught the bus to Braintree, but the next train to Greenbush didn't leave until 9:30 so I, now, had time to kill and I knew there was no food in the house in Marshfield and I'd have no vehicle when I got there so I walked around the Braintree T-station area looking for a place to get something to eat. Not even a vending machine. Walked north to a shopping plaza, nothing. Walked south, found a dunk's near a shopping plaza. Grabbed a breakfast sandwich, a muffin and a milk. Figured I should fill up. Walked back to the train station, arrived in Greenbush at 11:30. The only reason I was anxious that the train schedule turned out to be such a sh*t show was that I needed to mow the lawn. It had been over a week and the grass grows a foot a minute this time a year and it was supposed to rain, at some point today. That's why I got up at the crack of dawn.
Walked the 3 miles home from the train station, threw off my pack, mowed the lawn, it started raining as soon as I finished, did laundry (which I brought with me), organized the garage and moved the remainder of my tools onto the porch. Cooked up 4 eggs from the dozen I'd left in the mini-fridge by the bar in the family room which was the only food in the house. I turned off the kitchen fridge months ago before leaving for California. Hard boiled the remaining 8 eggs, had 4 for dinner and saved 4 for breakfast. A dozen eggs in a 12hr period. That's a first. The first train leaving Greenbush in the morning was at 5:45am so I figured I should get to bed early then I realized that I didn't need to rush anymore. The next train was at 9 and that would be fine. My pack was going to be a lot bigger so I might as well take my time.
May 21, 2023, South Deerfield, Massachusetts
I lucked out as I was walking back to the Greenbush train station, this morning. All I heard was "You f*cking animal!" as I passed the little parking area by the North River where I always used to park. It was a buddy from "church" having his morning coffee and figuring out his schedule for the day. I just started laughing as he yelled it, again. My pack was kind of big and I was carrying a kayak paddle. My new kayak's a tandem (that means it's for two people) and I don't have a dog anymore so maybe I'll find a friend to go with me once in a while so I needed my other paddle. They come apart into two shorter pieces and I taped them together so they'd be easier to handle on the train and subway. Maybe I am an animal. He was on the phone with another buddy of mine and they both just laughed at me. I was psyched to see him and for the ride.
I was, also, psyched to see my truck parked in the commuter rail parking lot when I got off the train in Wachusett. I had been deliberating about whether I should grab the kayak on my way back to Greenfield or leave it where it is for now until I can find a good place to keep it, but when I was almost to where I'd stashed it, I passed a bunch of kayaks and canoes stacked up along the shore of a pond. I was coming from Greenfield when I picked a spot in the woods to hide mine so I didn't know this place was there because it was further down the road. Anyways, I hopped out and read the little sign that was posted on the rack were the boats were stacked. It stated that a person could "check out" one of the kayaks at the local library where they could pick up a key to unlock them. There were a bunch of other kayaks and canoes on the ground which were locked to a tree with a cable which I'm assuming were owned by local residents for their personal use. How cool. I was definitely considering grabbing mine and locking it up with the others. I've got a bike lock that would do the trick. And, I wasn't far from the community that I visited, last weekend. Very tempting.
As I headed a little further down the road, I noticed a black truck way behind me and for some reason I kept my eye on it. As I approached the spot where I had stashed my kayak, instead of pulling over where I had before, I drove a little further and then pulled over. The black truck pulled over, too, but still way behind me. I sat there for a minute and watched him. Then he pulled into a dirt turn out on the other side of the road. He was still fairly far away, but I got the feeling that he was watching me. Maybe he thought I was scoping out all the boats by the pond with the idea of stealing one of them. I don't know. I said "Frig this," and got out and started walking towards him. At the very least, I could ask him if he lived nearby and whether he thought it'd be ok if I left my kayak there, too. I took my phone and map with me (I always have a map of the area on the front seat of my truck if it's a new area). As I got closer to the truck, he pulled out and drove past me with a smirk on his face. I don't know what that was all about, but I decided to leave my kayak where it is for now. The look he gave me definitely left a bad feeling in my stomach. If he was suspicious of me then why didn't he question me? I was giving him the chance. It certainly seemed like he was watching me. Kind of a dick move. I got his license plate number and wrote it down on a piece of paper that I had in my pocket (I always keep a pen and a piece of paper in my pocket).
When I got closer to the farm, I drove into South Deerfield to check it out because I hadn't gotten a chance to, yet. The town center consisted of about one block of little shops and restaurants and I took a walk around. I was going to do some writing, but it had been kind of a grueling weekend and thought it better if I chilled for a minute then I'd get some work done. There's definitely a progressive vibe to this part of western mass, more so as you get closer to Northampton and Amherst than up here in Greenfield, but if you look hard enough you can usually find a redneck dive bar that has been here long before the progressives got here, not that I have anything against progressive people. I'm sure most rednecks think I'm one and most progressive people think I'm a redneck so whatever. Found the perfect spot out back of what used to be an old hotel. They didn't even have taps. Just bottles. Perfect. Everyone gave me the hairy eye ball when I walked in. If it was a movie, the record would have scratched. Perfect.
Had a beer and hummed "New Kid In Town" by the Eagles to myself -not really. Someone turned on the jukebox so I didn't have to. The place was very small and fairly crowded for a late Sunday afternoon. Seemed like everyone knew each other. It was nice and sunny out so before I went for my walk, I stuck my little solar panel on the roof of the yukon and plugged in my laptop so it'd be all charged up when I got back. After my beer as the sun was almost setting, I got on my horse and walked back to my truck parked in a dirt parking lot behind the shops and apartments off Main St. You don't want to keep solar panels plugged in once the sun goes down or they will reverse charge your battery, i.e. drain it, unless you have a charge controller as part of your system which was one of the things in my backpack that I grabbed when I was in Marshfield. I just hadn't hooked it up, yet. Got some writing done and hit the hay.
May 22, 2023, Greenfield, Massachusetts
Took a walk around the city (I've decided to call it a city), this evening, to scope out some possible parking spots for the night. Found a few. Yes, my life is absurd. Had my first day at my new job, today, and got out around 5. It's a soft start this week. My immediate responsibilities won't start until next week so I'm jumping around the farm from task to task helping out everyone else, this week. It's a pretty big farm with lots of departments: lots of green houses, lots of fields, lots of field workers, lots of tractors, lots of implements, big repair shop, big packing warehouse. Makes for a longer disjunctive day when I don't know what I'm doing and for how long I'll be doing it, but I'm still happy to start working. When we were going over different things about the job this morning, he caught me off guard by changing the work schedule from what we had agreed upon which would have given me my weekends off to working both Sat. and Sun. which I'm pretty bummed about. I'm going to speak to him about this, but what was I going to do? Say "No"? I didn't feel like I had a choice. I'm still living a codependent existence. Without a job, I have nothing. At least, that's how I felt at that very moment, but now that I'm typing this, I realize that this isn't true. I could get a job somewhere else. I'm bound by nothing. This one just sounded like it was going to be a great fit so I had my heart set on it, but it's still early on and I shouldn't lock myself into something if it's not what I agreed to. He said that we're going to take a ride together and check out some of his remote field's when I go back on Wed. They don't need me, tomorrow, so I guess I'll have to stew over it for a day. I suppose I could look around online for a plan B. Felt a little lost as I was walking around the city, but I've got lots of work to do so I should focus on this which will help ground me out.
May 23, 2023, Shelburne, Massachusetts
Decided to head out of town this morning and found some great trails near Shelburne, MA. I was so happy to be in the woods that I sprinted down the pine needle pathways. I could here a river running through a ravine below me, but couldn't quite see it through the trees until I came to a clearing. Wow, what a view. Now, I felt even more excited. I had stuff to do, but I had fun running back to the truck. I looked on the map posted in the parking area and it showed another trailhead just down the road a ways which took you all the way down to the river. I'll have to check it out. I thought about grabbing the kayak for the day, but I'm going to focus on getting my ducks in a row, first. Drove into Shelburne Falls to do a few errands. What a quaint little town along the Deerfield River. A woman mowing her lawn actually looked up as I rolled into town and waved. I naturally waved back. That doesn't happen in most places. One cool thing about the brief interaction was that she was African-American. After I was there for a few minutes, I noticed there were more people of color in this little town than one would expect way out here in the country. Also, very cool. Talked to a young van-lifer who happened to park in front of me when I made it back to my truck after doing my errands. His mini-van was all decked out covered with bumper stickers and painted-on words and images. He was all decked out, too, with dread-locks and funky gypsy attire. He wasn't quite on the road, yet, but gearing up to set sail by the end of the summer. I wished him luck with a smile. Found that trail down to the river and I've been parked here for the rest of the afternoon. I was tempted to go for a swim, but it's not that hot out, yet. Dipped my head instead. I guess it's time to end all this play by play and transition into the task at hand.
May 29, 2023, Greenfield, Massachusetts
I'm lying on a beach towel in the hot sun. I just got out of the lake so I'm soaking wet which is one of my favorite sensations, a combination of feeling refreshed and cozy at the exact same time. There's naked bodies everywhere. Some are lying in the sun, too. Some are swimming and some are sitting in the grass talking. I'm wearing a pair of shorts. I didn't know everyone was going to be taking there clothes off when they invited me to go camping. They didn't invite just me. I went to the Saturday morning work party, again, yesterday, and they made an announcement that anyone who wanted to join the camping trip later that afternoon was welcome. Not everyone got naked. Out of the ten of us, there were two other people who kept there bathing suits on: a guy who was a little younger than me, and a 17 year old girl. She was the youngest of the group and turning 18 in a couple months.
There's been a handful of times in my travels when I've found myself in situations where clothing was optional. I've never partaken. I don't see the necessity. Miss Flowerchild would have loved it. It's not because I'm shy. Although at the moment, I will admit that I am a little self-conscious about my appearance which is why I've been so eager to get back to work so I can get back in shape. In the past, I wasn't self-conscious. I've always had a lean, low body fat build, but this doesn't mean I need to go around without any clothes on. I never hesitate to take my shirt off when it's hot out, but that's only because I hate farmer tans. I wouldn't mind having a tan ass to go with the rest of my body, but, I don't know, I guess I'm old fashioned. I think my naked butt should only be for my lady, if I ever find her.
I didn't have a problem with anyone else being naked and they didn't have a problem with me choosing not to. It was a pretty chill situation and respectful. We were hiking and found a sweet spot right by a lake in the woods. I was the first one to jump in. I love swimming. I wasn't surprised when all their clothes started coming off. We'd passed a couple of lakes the day before. One of them was public so everyone remained clothed that time, but the other was in a state forest and a few of them went for a swim after their shorts and t-shirts were removed. One interesting thing about their nakedness is that they all basically have perfect bodies, the girls and the guys. Well, the nice older lady who I reconnected with a couple weeks ago was part of the group, too, and God love her for hanging with the younger crowd. Not many people her age could keep up. I don't know everyone else's exact age, but I'm guessing they're in their 20's or 30's. I'm not trying to draw any major conclusions about their preference to take their clothes off, but it does seem somewhat convenient that they could all be models if they wanted. There was nothing sexual about it and I suppose I can't blame them for wanting to feel free and unencumbered. I was notorious for stripping down to nothing when I was a little boy so I get it. There's a freedom and innocence to it, under the right circumstances, and the circumstances, yesterday afternoon, I suppose fell into this category. I just didn't think it was necessary for me to go along with them. I like a little fabric between me and any snapping turtles that might be swimming around. Again, like most situations I seem to find myself in, they all knew each other and live together at the community. I was the only non-resident. At one point, I thought to myself that if I finally find a place to belong (and was back in shape!) maybe I'd go naked, too, but I doubt it.
In all my trips especially the ones when I traveled on foot, I was easily welcomed into people's lives and their circle of friends and family. This weekend was a similar example in that it required me to rely on the same abilities to intuitively fit in with a group of people I don't know very well while still being myself, but the one difference was that in all those past experiences, the people I met went out of their way to invite me into their world. In this case, I went out of my way to join them in theirs. I was politely invited in a universal all-welcoming way because I was part of the work party, not because of who I am. None of them really seemed interested in wanting to get to know me better, but were still friendly and cordial. At least, I tried and put myself out there. I still had fun for a couple days. I even left my truck back at the community and jumped in one of their cars which was definitely out of my comfort zone because then I had no way of leaving if I wanted to. I could sit here and delve deeper into group dynamics, but I'm back in the real world, now, and this is a very unforgiving one.
I wouldn't say I'm doing great, at the moment. I'm hanging on by a thread, actually. I'm dreading going to work, tomorrow. I've got my kayak on the roof and no place to keep it. Found out on Friday that my brother is putting the house on the market this week which means I've got to get my stuff out of there soon. He's putting the money from the sale towards paying off the loan for the one they just bought. They get a new house in sunny California and I'm still living out of my truck. That's one way to treat family. I shouldn't be surprised. I knew this was coming. Still feels like sh*t though. I'll get paid on Thursday so that's a step in the right direction, but I'm not sure it's a direction that I still want to be headed in. I've thought seriously about selling this truck, which I could easily double my money, the kayak, my mountain bike with the customized trailer and the remainder of my tools in Marshfield. This would put a few bucks in my pocket, but where would I go? I'm going to be alone wherever I find myself.
I almost got into a fight, this afternoon. A cop even got involved. I was parked way off in the farthest corner of a Stop&Shop parking lot in the only shady spot I could find because I was going to grab some groceries for the week, but wanted to clean out my cooler and organize my truck, first, which got a little disarrayed from my spontaneous camping trip when some jerk pulled in with his radio on full blast with all the windows down. Then just parked there for like 20 minutes with his car running, music blairing. I normally just ignore these morons, but the road is wearing on me and as I walked towards the grocery store and he was driving past me, I told him to turn his effing music down. He didn't like that. He was a young guy in a fairly nice car which he'd put some effort into pimping out.
The stupidity of the argument isn't even worth elaborating on. A police officer just happened to pull into the parking lot closer to the store, but saw us arguing and walked over. By now, the guy had gotten out if his car. He was missing a hand. I immediately felt like an ass. He was very skinny, too. I'm pretty thin, but he was a rail compared to me. He challenged me to a fight, but, of course, I'd never do that. I just told him in a not so nice way to be considerate of other people as he continued to be belligerent. He insulted the cop, too, who asked me to walk away and I did. The guy drove off giving us both the finger. The cop was already very familiar with him. At least, he turned his music down to yell at us. He's clearly rolling with far less than 50% in his fuel tank.
I crossed paths with the police officer in the store when I was shopping and I just smiled and said "Have a good one" and he said "Sorry about that." "No worries", I replied.
I never would have said anything if I knew the guy was handicapped. It was a dumb thing to do, regardless. I'm hanging in there, but things aren't going as well as I hoped. I would think after getting to go camping for two days and be around people, I'd be riding a wave of feeling good a lot longer, but I think the fact that I'm going to lose the one place I had to take a break from the road very soon might be taking a toll.
As I was hopping out of the car, last night, parting ways with my camping-mates, the youngest handsomest guy of the group asked if he could give me a hug. Then the 30 something handsomest guy of the group hopped out and gave me one, too. That was a very nice gesture. We just live in different realities and I didn't want to scare them off by sharing too much of mine so I just played it cool all weekend. We were going to exchange numbers, but all our phones were off which was a nice element to the camping trip. No one used their phone hardly at all. Normally, I'd have a pen and post-it in my pocket, but the shorts I was wearing didn't have any. It was dark and late and rummaging through my backpack, at that moment, to find a pen or turn on my phone felt like a lot of trouble so we said our good-bye's. I confessed that I was bummed that the farm needs me to work on Saturdays so I won't be able to join their work parties anymore. Handsome 30 said that he works with the interns on projects a couple times a week and I could join them on those days if I wanted and I said I'll follow up with someone at the community sometime before then and get his contact info (which is doubtful that I will). I'm tired of feeling like an outsider.
May 31, 2023, South Deerfield, Massachusetts
I think I've gone swimming almost everyday for over a week. I love summertime. I've been having fun reading my Delorme atlas and looking for new places to check out. Delorme's rock (and they're based out of Maine!). I must have one for almost every state at this point. Got out of work on Friday covered in farm dirt, found the Greenfield Beach which is just outside of town along the Green River. The place was empty, basketball court, jungle gym, volley ball court, big parking lot and a nice quiet sandy stretch along the river. It was around 7 o'clock and not very hot out, but I was filthy and toying with the idea of going out and doing something fun so I sucked it up and took the plunge. Ice baths are super trendy these days so I figured if those people can bear water that cold, I can dive into a mountain river for a few seconds.
The Connecticut River runs right along the farm where I'm working and I asked one of the guys if there's a spot where you can walk down to the water. Yesterday, I was even dirtier than I was on Friday so I drove along a row of planted fields, parked my truck, walked the tree line until I came to a big path down to the river and forced myself to jump in, again. It gets pretty quiet around the farm by 5. Seems a shame with all the beauty here, but it's a big place and people scatter at quitting time. I prefer smaller farms where there's a chance that we'll hang around after work and shoot the breeze for a little while, but I'm staying the course and gradually becoming familiar with a few of them. I don't see any friendships down the line. Everyone's polite, but seem to keep one another at a distance or maybe it's just because I'm one of the new people. I don't know. There are a lot of guys from Jamaica working here and a bunch of them live in a house on the farm and speak their native tongue when they're together. It seems like they only speak English when they have to, but they offer a friendly smile and a warm hello when we cross paths during the work day.
Found a different spot a few miles down the road from the farm, today, along the big Connecticut. I sat at the shore by a rope swing with my feet in the water like Huckleberry Fin looking up at the giant rte.116 bridge overhead and I swear if I woke up here not knowing where I was, Massachusetts would be my last guess. There are so many rivers and lakes around here with dirt roads leading to them. It's so different from the South Shore where every inch of ground is accounted for littered with "Private Property" and "No Trespassing" signs. It's like the coastline brings out the a-hole in people. Get out into the country and there's plenty of space to go around. No one's competing to get a front row seat to the much sought after ocean view. I love the ocean, too, but not so much that I want to be surrounded by douches all day long just to be near it. Water's water. I'll take a stream, river or lake if it's a matter of peace of mind. The people around here and in every other country town located far from either coast figured this out a long time ago.
June 1, 2023, Sunderland, Massachusetts
Got paid. Relief. I'm working on Saturday so I'm off, today. Did laundry in South Deerfield a couple doors down from my new favorite no-tap bar, this morning. The machines only took quarters. Haven't seen that in a while. And, it was only 2 bucks for a load. Nice. I found another new spot to park (in the shade) along the river, walk down and jump in when I need to cool off or take a break from writing. I still haven't talked to the farm owner, but we're going to be working together this weekend so I'll talk to him then. That'll give my reputation a chance to proceed me. The operations manager who I've been working with the most is psyched to have a guy like me on the farm. The only problem is this is not what I signed up for. I just don't know how to say "No." I took a truck driving job with clearly established hours and was willing to take the lowest starting pay possible just because I was happy to find what I was looking for, but I have yet to make one delivery. I've been on the farm everyday since, digging ditches, running water lines 5ft under ground, installing conduit and pulling wire, cutting sheet metal and repairing the floor of one of the field trucks, building little wooden boxes for weather meters in the greenhouses, the list goes on, all for the lowest wage possible. I couldn't bring myself to tell the operations manager that he won't be seeing me much in the near future because I can tell he's overwhelmed with his work load. All the managers seem to be, but they're all making a lot more than me, most with wives and kids at home, so why am I feeling sorry for them? I've sacrificed enough. I prefer to work for someone who's not going to milk me dry for the lowest pay possible so hopefully the owner of this farm isn't like that. We shall see. I take care of him by going above and beyond at whatever I'm doing so he needs to take care of me by paying me fairly. The good thing is that I won't feel bad if I have to tell him that I'm not going to continue like this. I'm just going to focus on my immediate responsibilities and the schedule that the job description stated so I can move forward on my own goals with the time this will allow me which is why I took the job in the first place. Another positive note is that I'm getting a killer workout.
Saw a poster in the laundry mat for a funk dance band playing in Greenfield, tonight. Might have to stay up past my bedtime to have some fun. I need to blow off some steam.
June 4, 2023, Northfield, Massachusetts
Went by the club around 8:30. The show had started at 7:30, but the place was empty. Felt bad for the band. It was still early, but when I looked online to get more details, the website said it only went until 10:30 and it was 10 bucks to get in so I bagged the idea and hit the hay. Never spoke to the farm owner. Even though we were supposed to work together, yesterday, I had a feeling that wasn't going to happen and it didn't. He had to work on something else.
When I walked into the packing house on Tuesday morning -this is where we all meet to start the work day, the managers and owner were all standing in a circle like they usually are. You can hear a pin drop during these meetings because the owner is so soft spoken. Everyone is very serious. No one is smiling and certainly not joking around. This was something I noticed on my first day of work a few weeks ago when I was introduced to the group. Not a single smile from any of the guys. A farm this big has a lot of moving parts and everyone feels, even if they don't realize it, the fragility of the interdependence of each facet in such a large operation, especially when it's run by only one person, rather than a big corporate conglomeration. I prefer to work on farms that are a little smaller. Once a company, no matter what kind, gets to be a certain size, it becomes a speeding train that can easily come off the tracks. I'm sure my reluctance to move forward on anything else regarding staying in this area for the season has something to do with this. No one seems happy working there. I like this area and can certainly make the most of it for the year, but the job was why I moved here. Unfortunately, my long term plans aren't here. I know I've been saying forever that I need to pick a place and stay put in order to grow some roots, but when I'm ready I'm getting as far away from the insanity that has become our culture as I can. Right now, I need to make some more money so I can buy a small trailer to store my belongings in to park it somewhere or take it with me.
As I stood by a bench quietly listening to the plan of attack for the day as the owner talked through what each department of the farm was going to be doing, I scanned the broad backs of each of the managers. They could have been standing in a football huddle without the shoulder pads. The retail manager is a woman and her back isn't quite as broad, but she definitely keeps her game face on, too. The question that came to mind like it did that first day I started was "Why do they all work here?" Especially now with the cannabis dispensary craze going on, you can't drive down the road without passing a new business selling legalized marijuana. Why do these hard working, intelligent, competent, young people bust their ass everyday on an organic vegetable farm when they could be making twice the amount doing a very similar job working on a pot farm? Now that it's legal, I would think the temptation and the money is even greater. There's plenty of other things they could be doing for more money as well. I stood there that morning and I was proud of this small group who I don't even know for choosing to do what they do even if they seem sort of miserable doing it. Ok, miserable is a strong word. More like, not so happy, tapped or spread thin. Maybe they don't even realize it. Maybe they're so used to it that they've forgotten what it's like to be happy while working. I know I've been very guilty of this myself in the past.
I haven't even mentioned the 20+ Jamaicans that work here. Like all the farms I've worked on, whether it be Jamaicans, Guatemalians, "Mexicans" or other people not from the U.S., they seem to bring a more peaceful and positive vibe to work with them. I admire this and try to emulate it. Unfortunately, I'm not going to join the managers in their not so happiness. They're still making way more than me, yet I've taken on way more than I should for someone getting the lowest starting rate for a driver. If I ask for what I deserve, this will send the message that I want to keep doing what I've been doing which I don't so I'm going to swallow everything I've done as a loss. "You're welcome." But from here on out, I'm only going to do what I signed up for which is delivering pallets of vegetables and doing it with a smile. I even jokingly told the owner during my interview that guilt will probably motivate me to work more hours than I should, but I can't let this happen. I'll be trapped in this existence forever. I've made a lot of sacrifices according to my beliefs and lived like I have for a long time and I'm done sentencing myself to this secret plight while the people I work for benefit from our arrangement more than I do. This job might not work out and that won't be the end of the world, but I'm willing to give it a try a little longer.
This week, I was asked to install an awning on the mini-bus they use for some of the markets, but the girl who ordered it bought one that is designed for a store front window not a moving vehicle so I've had to do some retro-fitting to get it mounted which I did, yesterday afternoon, after I got back from doing my first delivery run. On a side note, no one told me about the number of low bridges I encountered on my route which if I wasn't paying attention I would have been one of the next unfortunate drivers of box trucks featured in those youtube videos of trucks getting their tops ripped off when they crashed into the I-beams of bridges too low for commercial vehicles. This is why I get paid the big bucks -not. I got the awning mounted, but in order to keep it from rattling off the bus as it heads down the freeway to each of the market locations, I'm going to have to reinforce parts of its frame and bolt them together better than for what it was designed for.
Before I left the farm, yesterday, I asked the owner who was attaching a pto shaft of a planter to the back of a tractor, when they were planning to start using the mini-bus. He didn't know, but he texted the girl who was in charge of this. He didn't hear back from her, but guessed probably Tuesday. It was Saturday and I was supposed to be off the next two days (he doesn't need me to start working on Sundays for a couple more weeks) which meant I doubt the awning would be finished because the equipment manager detests the project which is partly why it landed in my lap. Plus, he's got a million other things to do which are more pressing. I told the owner that the awning can be easily detached by removing two pins in the mounting brackets and he was like "Oh, good. We'll just take it off, for now, until it's ready for the road." Unfortunately, the panelling on the inside of the bus that had to be removed in order to access the wall where the brackets are, now, mounted needs to be put back together and I doubt anyone's going to do it. It was 5 o'clock on a Saturday when we had this conversation and I wasn't going to stay a couple more hours, or however long it was going to take, to do all this, but I'll most likely go in on one of my days off and finish the project before Tuesday. Then I'm going to ask to speak with the owner. I know this game all too well.
No swimming, today. It's cool for June, but it's a nice break from the heat. I'm parked in a turn-out on a dirt road in the woods along the Connecticut. Lonely af. What else is knew? I can't really complain though. I've got a job, I'm not broke, I'm getting back in shape, my truck is decent, I've got food in the cooler. What else could a man want? I reached out to the woman who was renting the room about a week ago and she responded nicely, but it took a few days so I interpreted this as a hint that she wasn't interested in keeping in touch. She was still looking for someone to take the room. I could try a little harder than a text, but I don't want it construed as anything other than friendship. Maybe I will later down the line. I still haven't used the kayak since I bought it which is pretty sad, but I don't feel like looking for a place to hide it after every time I use it. I found a new place last weekend so it can stay there until I find a permanent one. #MLR. There's a mini-storage just outside of Greenfield that I'll call, tomorrow.
June 14, 2023, Millers Falls, Massachusetts
Got out of work on Saturday and drove back to Marshfield to grab a few things and check on the work the painters had done. The first thing I noticed was that the yard was a mess. The realtor said they would hire a landscaper to keep the lawn mowed. Stevie Wonder could have done a better job. No offense to Stevie Wonder. There were giant patches and strips where the mower had missed, weeds all along the edges and spring water bottles in the driveway. They didn't even bag it so clumps and a blanket of cut grass covered one side of the lawn. The painters did a little better job, but not great.
Mopped the floors and vacuumed. Mowed the lawn. I sold my power-washer this spring so I borrowed mr.Striper's and power-washed the front cobblestones after pulling up weeds to make the place look presentable. Cleaned out the back staircase of the pile of leaves that had accumulated since I've been out in western Mass. Flushed out the french drain with some long black pvc piping. Tidied up the garage and neatly re-stacked my bins on the porch. Finished just before noon when the realtor who showed up at 11:55am told me the open house was starting. Drove down to the river. Threw the kayak in and went for a paddle, maybe my last. Dove off the Union Street Bridge. Tied up at what used to be my dock and walked up through the neighborhood back to the house after the realtor and all the people were gone. The tied was changing and I'll be able to ride it back up the river when I leave.
I think the house was on the market for three days. It's sold, now. I didn't know all this was happening. I just happened to contact the realtor who I'd never met to let her know that I'd be in Marshfield when I was heading back after work which is when I found out about the open house on Sunday. I'm not sure if all the cleaning I did mattered to her, my brother or the buyers, but it mattered to me. I won't see a dime of the sale and don't want one. The realtor, the homeowners insurance, their painting company -not the guys who actually did the work, and, of course my brother all made money. At least, my father is in a safer cleaner situation. Trying to find the perfect solution to problems we face has always been my aim in the situations I find myself in, but when life gets real sometimes we have to settle for the best solution, not a perfect one, under certain circumstances. Perfect is something I've been forced to accept may not be possible, this time. Although I know the circumstances could have been avoided, I can't control what other people do or how they see things. Perfect sometimes can only reside in a person's attitude and willingness. When the right opportunity presents itself, it can still come to fruition. In the meantime, we as individuals have to remain vigilant as we reluctantly compromise when perfect isn't possible.
June 15, 2023, Turners Falls, Massachusetts
Sun's out, parked by the water, looking forward to doing some writing. The challenge with working full-time is making sure I create opportunities to write, but things are moving forward so that's good. My work schedule will be changing next week and I'll be getting my weekends back. I'm still doing far more than what I'm being paid for, but I'm going to hold onto that card for the time being. As I've mentioned many times, I hate quitting jobs because I hate disappointing people, but when I'm not being paid like I should, it makes it easier. I'll finish out the season here then hit the road. No hard feelings. The owner seems like a nice guy, but I interact with him maybe once a week. He's got more pressing matters to deal with all day long than checking in with his new truck driver/mechanic/laborer. The squeaky wheel gets the grease and I'm not a squeaker.
Had a birthday within the last week. It wasn't a bad one. Got a call from mr.Model, mr.Music and my cousin the carpenter along with a handful of texts. Got out of work and decided to treat myself to a burger and a beer. I passed a bar in a small town outside of Greenfield the night before as I was driving around like a fool looking for another place to stash my kayak and it looked like a cool, down to earth establishment so I headed back there to check it out. It turned out that it was the bartender's birthday, too. Her friend, another bartender, had come in early to surprise her by covering her shift so she didn't have to work. There were balloons and gifts on one of the high top tables and a lot more friends sitting in a booth beside it all. That was nice. The young guy sitting next to me at the bar who was dressed like he probably did construction for work ordered a glass of wine which I thought was interesting and we got to talking. He commented on my John Deere hat that I recently bought because the sweat rings in my old work hat were beginning to look a little unsightly for someone who delivers healthy organic food. We talked tractors and farm work for starters. His dad has 50 acres that he does some farming on. I'm giving this young man a name because he deserves one. He may not realize it, yet, but there aren't many people like him. He's talented, conscientious and intelligent. I suppose when we're young and still in the mix of our peers before the ruts of our chosen path haven't gotten so deep that they block our view of anyone other than those in our direct line of sight, it may be harder to realize how unique we are. We're all unique, but because a lot of introspective people are hard on themselves while the zombies parade forward staring at their phones dressed in three piece suits, yoga pants or the rags of a street person, the minds of the self-aware are constantly comparing themselves to the superficial personas of others who may look like they have just as much if not more going for them. If our paths ever cross again, he can come up with a better name if he likes, but for now, we'll call him "Carharthenon". Our conversation soon took off into a variety of interesting directions from traveling, to art, to girls, to movies, to building. He grew up not far from the bar and he's building himself a small house adjacent to his father's land. He showed me some pictures of what he has framed up so far. The kid's got skills. I was blown away by the lion's head molding and the Greek inspired columns around the front door all packed together on a foot print that would rival a tiny house.
I'd been up since 4 and didn't get to bed very early the night before after stashing the kayak and parking in a park and ride that the area high school kids had commandeered for their summer tailgate party which was pretty comical actually. After two beers, I could barely keep my eyes open even though Carharthenon jokingly gave me a hard time about not closing the deal with the birthday bartender who had a few more candles on her cake than me. I knew which truck was his so before heading down the road I walked over and stuck my "Confessions of a Free Spirit" hat in the toolbox in back. Hopefully, he'll get a kick out of that. We probably should have gotten each other's contact info or something, but I don't know. Maybe we both thought it was guy-code to not exchange numbers in a bar, but I have a feeling our paths will cross, again, soon enough.
I need to decide a few things. One perk of working on an organic farm is free produce and I haven't been taking advantage of this because most vegetables need a little preparing and I live out of a cooler so even though finishing the book needs to be my number one goal for the summer, eating the food I have a hand in growing is a reasonable second goal as well. In order to do this, I need a kitchen and I'm not going to spend what little I make working on a farm for rent which means I need to build one. I could buy a flatbed trailer and throw something together fairly quickly. I'd need a place to park the trailer so I could put up some of my land rent fliers and post something online like I have many times in the past. This would be a lot cheaper than paying rent. I paid 100 bucks a month for the last field I rented down the road from River's farm in Maine. Obviously, this would have the added bonus of providing me a place to park and sleep every night giving me a break from the road.
Hmmm, it's so tempting. I'm just trying to ease into the idea and avoid falling into old habits that have kept me locked into the hard and lonely path I've been on. That same field I just mentioned is where I was almost killed when my F250 rolled over me and there was no one around for miles to witness it. I'm going to think on it for a day or so.
June 16, 2023, Turners Falls, Massachusetts
Something's been bothering me for a while and I was reminded of it on my birthday when I spoke to, both, mr.Music and mr.Model. They're two of my best friends, but aren't best friends with one another anymore. As I was doing a few errands afte work, today, I got the idea that I would give mr.Model a stipulation because he's been talking to me more about starting an ecofarm after attending some beautiful-people-saving-the-world seminar in Miami. I decided to tell him that I'll partner up with him on one condition that we ask mr.Music to join us which means they would have to patch things up. It's a long shot, but it's worth a try. The three of us made a pact when we were still in college that we would always help one another achieve our goals. We even created a company name out of the three of ours. It would be amazing if we created something together. Mr.Music has been talking about buying land or a house a lot, too. On top of being a bad ass drummer and beat-boxer, he's a damn good cook. I could grow the food, he could cook the food and pretty boy could serve the food, haha.
This winter, I felt bad when mr.Model rode along with me for the last leg of my cross-country moving excursion because he was pitching the idea of us joining forces pretty hard, but I wasn't biting. Needless to say, I had a lot on my plate at the time, but even so I was still reluctant to even entertain the idea. I was stumped. I couldn't figure out why I was so hesitant. I focused on all the wrong things like how different our paths in life have been. Now, I realize what the problem really was all this time. Two is a pair. Three is a team. Two people are ripe for a stressful co-dependent relationship, of any kind, if they don't have support from a larger group of people. Each one of us are a handful, more than any one of the others as individuals can handle alone, but the three of us joined together are a small tribe. It takes a village. "Where two or more are gathered...so am I." Damn skippy.
June 17, 2023, Greenfield, Massachusetts
Had a monumental conversation with mr.Model this evening after work. Tears were shed. Mine, surprisingly. I love those two ding-dongs a lot and it has stunk not having the three of us as friends like we used to be and I know how incredible something we created together would be. He was super gracious about hearing me out when my voice revealed how deeply their falling out has affected me and how strongly I believe in our friendship. They have some serious talking to do. It's been over two years and I don't see anything changing on its own unless something deliberate is done so I was adamant about mediating for them. Mr.Model and I had some talking about our own friendship to do, last night, too and it went well. We gave one another permission to speak freely because that's the only way we're going to be able to function as partners. If we can't be honest with one another, it's never going to work. Even though the idea came to me as a "stipulation", I didn't put any pressure or expectations on my proposal. I just wanted him to hear me out and think about it. He did and agreed to. Worse comes to worse, I tough it out alone on one more farm for one more season then I fly the coop to some tropical paradise or remote mountain top.
June 18, 2023, Fullam Pond, New Hampshire
Pumped the brakes on buying a flatbed to build a quick little tiny house with a monster kitchen. Still want to and plan to, but I'd be avoiding the more important goal of finishing the book if I got tempted into that project, right now. Building something physical with wood and metal is instantly gratifying to me. The book is longer and more painstaking with a different type of reward.
Picked a spot on the map and headed off to see what it was like, this weekend. I've been trying not to go too far. My whole lifestyle is about not being wasteful when it comes to fossil fuels or anything else. Plus, there's so many cool places to explore in such close proximity to where I'm working that I doubt I'll run out of places to go nearby. I just wanted to take a break from being on the road and the closest thing to doing this is disappearing into the woods. Took the freeway for a short distance, took the highway a little further, took a country road even further and took a dirt road the farthest. In the middle of Pisgah State Park, the bumpy road which was more like a trail especially since I shared it with dirt bikes and atvs, I came to Fullam Pond. A group of 4 off-roaders who I had pulled over on the trail earlier to let them pass was already in the dirt parking area when I arrived. To my surprise, they were four older people. I thought they were kids when they passed me. It's hard to tell a person's age when they're wearing a full-face helmet. Maybe it's because I did a lot of dirt biking when I was a teenager so I assume whoever I see riding in the woods is young, too. Some of them are, but a lot of them are older. We kept to ourselves, but they were cordial enough when I asked them if they knew if any park rangers came this deep into the forest.
One of the guys asked, "Why? You thinking about spending the night?"
"Ya, I was thinking about it. I'm off, tomorrow, but I noticed a sign when I entered the state park that said "No Camping."
"I wouldn't worry about it. I'm riding an oversized 4-wheeler (he had a side by side which is a golf cart on steroids) so if they're going to give you a ticket, they're going to give me one, too." We, both, laughed a little, more to be polite than out of humor.
"I guess the worst thing they can do is tell me to leave."
They rolled out a few minutes later. The women hopped on their atvs and the men on theirs. The silence of the woods washed over me like a comfortable blanket. Went for a walk, took a cowboy bath in a brook below a small waterfall. It wasn't quite hot enough for a swim in the pond. I had my kayak with me, but it was late in the afternoon and I didn't feel like pulling it down if I wasn't going to spend the night.
June 19, 2023, Vernon, Vermont
Left the park, headed north on back roads to Brattleboro and grabbed a couple of slices of pizza at the food co-op. Even though I like Brattleboro and Greenfield, they both have their fair share of street people and sitting there eating my pizza in the little courtyard outside the co-op I was eager to get back out in the country. Parked at the Guilford Welcome Center off the freeway for the night, found a great spot along the Connecticut River, today, where there was a big beach (by country river standards) that you could drive right down to the water's edge on and throw a kayak in or even back a boat trailer down. There were a couple of trucks parked in the sand and a family with a big yard tent set up down the end who looked like they'd been there all weekend. I threw the kayak in and lazily drifted around the backside of an island in the warm sun sharing the spot with a few king fishers and a bald eagle. Didn't want to leave, but I have to work in the morning and stash the kayak somewhere, tonight.
June 23, 2023, Greenfield, Massachusetts
I know once I start typing the light's going to turn green. No, I'm not texting while driving. I'm backed up to a loading dock at a giant Whole Foods Market distribution center in Connecticut and there's a red light on the wall beside the loading dock which lights up when they are unloading your truck and then a green light lights up when they are done. You don't want to pull away from the building while they're still unloading you. That wouldn't be good. I got here at 6:30am and it's, now, 9. I feel a little guilty about bringing my laptop to do some writing, but sometimes I end up sitting here forever. What else can I do? Watch youtube or surf instagram on my phone? No, thanks. I'd rather be productive.
Of course, the light turned green before I could finish the above paragraph so I'm continuing this in the evening. I got an email this morning from a woman offering me a place to park a camper. I posted an ad online over a week ago looking for a spot and only got one other response until this morning, but that location was over an hour away. I was beginning to lose hope and considering other options like just continuing to rough it in the yukon, but I'm spending more time and energy looking for a place to park everyday than I am writing, not to mention I'm on the brink of knocking out the next rude person I have to deal with. It's like clockwork. Once I find a nice quiet spot some moron will eventually roll up with their loud music and obnoxious behavior. I'd love to teach every one of them some manners, but the law protects these donkeys more than it does everyone else who are trying to enjoy the piece and quiet of these locations. It's definitely not worth getting arrested for and I'm pushing my luck so I should make a change.
June 25, 2023, Greenfield, Massachusetts
We exchanged phone numbers, I called her and we talked for a few minutes then I went by when I got out of work, yesterday. She lives on a very quiet wooded road about 7 miles from Greenfield. I think there's only one other house on the road which is owned by her friend. She has two horses and a German Shepherd which was an added bonus, but there's not a lot of open space. I felt like I was in the forest. Everything's a little overgrown. I know I shouldn't be too picky, but the spot she was offering is right beside the barn which is like 5ft. from the road. Bushes and trees would be on my other side. Her house is across the road. It felt a little crowded so I told her I'd think about it for a day and get back to her.
We had a nice conversation while I was there. She's older, in her 60's, but active and capable. She has about 8 acres, the house and the barn which can be a lot for one person to maintain. She said she answered my ad because she thought it would be nice to let someone else enjoy it all while having a little money coming in. I'm not sure what she does for work exactly. She says she teaches some kind of energy class or something. I'm sure ms.Flowerchild would know what it is. The woman actually reminds me of her a little, just an older version. I'm not sure about moving there, but she said I could even build a tiny house if I wanted. I emailed her this evening and told her that I'm going to think about it some more. Sadly, Mr.Finance's mother passed away, last week, so I'm heading back to the south shore after work tomorrow night for the wake and funeral. She had been sick for a while so they saw it coming, but obviously it's still a great loss. While I'm there, I'll go buy and take some measurements of the camper that my friend's, the older couple, offered me when I broke my ribs two winters ago which they still have and don't use.
In addition to posting something online, I usually put up fliers at feed stores and such, but I haven't gotten around to it, yet, most likely because I've had my doubts, but fliers usually reach people who aren't necessarily looking for a tenant. After reading my flyer, they might consider it under the right circumstances and reach out to me. It's happened this way in the past. Mr.Music asked me why I don't ask the farm owner where I work for a place even just to leave my kayak, but I don't want to be beholding to him for anything. There's just no team atmosphere there. Everyone keeps to themselves which is the precedence that he sets. I'm not judging him. It's just his preference. I think he likes to keep a separation between the farm and his personal life so everyone else seems to follow this lead. Not like the farm in Easton. I wasn't there 5 minutes when I stopped by on my way back to check on the house in Marshfield a couple weekends ago before he handed me my own pizza fresh out of the big brick oven next to the new farm store and a beer then we adjoined to the work shop with a couple other of the guys to have a few laughs. I know it takes time to make new friendships, but I don't see it ever happening at this farm. It's too big and impersonal and I don't see myself being here longer than the season so how can I blame them. Selling wholesale to some pretty big corporate customers is very competitive and I think everyone feels this pressure as individuals, I know I do, when there's no unity or comradery, but I'm back in shape and getting a steady paycheck so I can't complain. .
When I went to post this entry, I got an email from the woman and she mentioned that there's, also, a spot in a field on the property that I can take a look at as well which sounds a little more promising.
June 24, 2023, Greenfield, Massachusetts
It's Saturday night. Got out of work and went for a swim. I gave in a little and rented a movie at redbox to chill out and take a break from the road. On a side note, it's always a little humbling when you're living out of your truck and your best friend is in one of the movies you're trying to decide on renting. The big deep cycle battery I bought a couple weeks ago is working nicely. Noticing that the yukon had a spot for a second battery in the engine compartment, I upgraded from the little wheel chair battery I got for my solar panels, last summer, so now I have plenty of charging power for my laptop and can spare a little to splurge on a movie once in a while seeing as I'm off tomorrow, but when I got to the parking lot where I usually park in Greenfield, the place was packed. There's usually less cars on the weekend, but the lot was almost completely full and there were people everywhere. A lot of them were carrying beach chairs so after I got out and looked around, I asked an older couple walking by if there was some sort of concert in town.
"Yes, it's the Green River Festival," the man said.
I could here music off in the distance, but it seemed a lot further away than I'd expect these people to have walked with their chairs -no offense. Frig it. I'm always complaining about not having a place to go dancing. The movie can wait.
I locked up the truck and started walking towards the thumping baseline. It was hard to tell where it was coming from bouncing off the buildings in the city, but the band actually sounded really good. I zigged and zagged down different streets not feeling like I was getting any closer while getting further from downtown. There weren't anymore people anywhere either, but I kept walking. A mile out of town on a dark road I wondered if I was hallucinating, but, now, I could hear the roar of the crowd, too, but where are they? What the heck is going on? Finally, I passed a small handwritten paper sign stuck in the grass that said "Green River Festival" with an arrow pointing in the direction I was walking. It was getting late, but I wasn't giving up, now.
I got lost in a residential neighborhood when I tried to take a short cut by following the sound and had to back track, but eventually at the top of a long gradual hill I came to the Franklin County Fairgrounds and the place was jumping. There were school buses shuttling people back and forth from the fairgrounds to downtown Greenfield. That's why I didn't see any other people on the streets. None of them were dumb enough to walk the whole way. At one point while I was walking in the dark, I felt a little sad that no one at the farm mentioned that the festival was going on or asked if I was going. I guess it's not their scene. I don't know. It was obviously a huge deal to a lot of people. There were big tents, a couple of different stages with bands playing and food vendors everywhere. The main stage was the loudest and had the most people around it so after finding a water bubbler and drinking as much as I could, I worked my way through the crowd to get myself down front, but unfortunately the concert goers were all packed together tightly, but no one was dancing. They were just standing there watching a lot of them with their phones in the air taking a video of the experience(?). I kept gently weaving my way through the sea of people until I reached the other side of the stage and followed the metal crowd fence until there was a small spot to stand where I wasn't in anyone's way. I hadn't come to stand and watch. Like I said, the music was really good. I think the band I originally heard when I was back at my truck had finished and this band was different, but they were funky.
It felt a little weird dancing surrounded by people who weren't so I kept it pretty chill, but still managed to have fun. While I was bopping up and down, I thought maybe I'll see some of the people from the community I went camping with a couple weeks ago, but I didn't. When the band finished, I caught some of a really good blue grass rock-a-billy group with a female singer at a smaller stage, but decided not to wring the sponge dry and grabbed a school bus ride back to Greenfield before the place shut down. I'm definitely glad I rose to the occasion, but it still felt a little awkward going by myself. Better than not going at all though. That's for sure.
July 3, 2023, Greenfield, Massachusetts
If you can't beat 'em join 'em, just never become them.
I need to decide whether I'm going to buy a small enclosed trailer, a camper or a flatbed and it needs to happen soon because they're passing papers on the house on the 25th and my stuff needs to be out of there long before then. I went there this weekend to do it, but the guy whose enclosed trailer I was going to buy pulled a no-show. I drove over 2hrs to look at his trailer and most likely buy it then I was going to tow it to Marshfield and load all my stuff into it, but when I went to the address he gave me, he wasn't there. I tried messaging him on facebook, but he just ghosted me and the trailer was marked "sold". We made arrangements the previous afternoon and were supposed to meet the following morning, but apparently he doesn't care about other people and sold it to someone else without even letting me know. Real cool. This is why he hadn't given me his actual address or phone number. I'm guessing he does this sort of thing to people a lot. He had a fake name and no personal info on his fb account, but using a few things he had posted on his page along with a little homework I had his real name, his home address and where he worked. Dumb ass. I thought about driving by his house which was only a couple miles from where we were supposed to meet and telling him off, but people like him aren't worth it. I grabbed lunch with mr.Music instead. The trailer was in New Bedford where mr.Music's from so I let him know I'd be in town after I made plans with captain jack ass. Apparently, there's some sort of writer's strike in Hollywood -he's been doing a lot of producing lately in addition to music and acting so he's home for the summer playing with his other band and spending time with family.
Work's been a sh*t show for the last week. I showed up the other morning at the crack of dawn. I'm the only one there when I arrive that early. I had to drive to Boston -ya, real local, so I wanted to give myself plenty of time. You never know how bad the traffic is going to be. The truck had no fuel in it, the DEF (diesel emissions tank) was, also, on E and there were stacks and stacks of empty crates cluttering the back which I had to take out before I could start loading. This is how the other driver left it for me. In his defense, he's clueless and forgot that I was using it that day so it wasn't intentional, but it was a mess the next time I used it, too, so no more excuses. I had to keep a delivery appointment (a lot of the big corporate warehouses require one) in Boston so time was a factor, hence getting there super early. They rejected the delivery when I arrived on time claiming the produce wasn't cold enough. All our delivery trucks are refrigerated so this was impossible, but the people receiving the produce at this location -the warehouse is smack dab in the middle of "meth mile", are miserable and look for any opportunity to express this misery.
Meth mile is on a whole other level these days. It used to be just a sketchy section of Mass Ave and Melnea Cass Blvd, but, now, it looks like Michael Jackson's Thriller video without the music. I literally thought there was some type of festival going on in Boston when I got there the other day because there were so many people on the sidewalk and in the street. Then I got a little closer and realized they were all junkies. Everywhere you looked you were surrounded by them. I actually saw one guy with a needle in his arm as another guy injected him while a police cruiser slowly rolled by a few feet away doing nothing. What could he do? There were hundreds of them. The warehouse I was delivering to is located right in the middle of all this. Not the most pleasant place to show up for work every day. After some coaxing from me and the farm owner, who called them, the people in receiving agreed to check the temperature of our produce, again, and this time it passed, but, now, they rejected it on quality.
At my next stop, the receivers forgot to put my pallet jack back on the truck when they were finished unloading me -they'll often roll your jack off the truck so they can use a bigger much heavier duty electric pallet jack to unload you. When I deliver to these big corporate companies there's no interaction between us drivers and the people on the loading docks. We never even see each other. We're supposed to stay in our trucks the entire time. We write our phone number on the invoice and drop it in a box on the outside of the building. The receiving department then calls us on the phone and tells us which dock to back up to. Even if I wanted to speak to someone, I can't because all the doors to the building are locked. They will ignore you if you knock on one of them, but I still tried. I had to. I couldn't leave without my pallet jack. It's like $800 for a new one. Plus, I could see people through the small window walking past the door the whole time I was standing on the other side knocking (politely). More happy employees. Yay. I just wanted to get on with my work day. After a futile ten minutes, I called their main office, got transferred to shipping and receiving, talked to someone on the floor and ask them to open door 21 which I was still backed up to so I could get my equipment. I love it how they make you feel like you're bothering them when they're the ones who made the mistake. Got the jack and moved on.
Just before I arrived at my next stop, the owner of the farm called to find out what was taking me so long. I've been driving trucks for a long time and I'm used to dealing with stuff like this. It's no big deal. You just stay the course, don't get sucked into their negativity and can still have a productive day. Done it countless times, but what I realized is the owner of the farm doesn't even know me despite the fact that I've been there over a month going above and beyond everyday doing stuff I don't even need to. The operation is too big. We don't interact. This was our first real interaction and he was actually trying to figure out at that moment whether I was telling the truth or not about the temperature reading, losing the pallet jack and running a little behind schedule because of all this. Oh ya, I got pulled over by the police on my way back to the farm because the cop said I wasn't wearing a seat belt which I was. The seat belt in the Freightliner is orange and I was wearing an orange shirt, but I didn't argue with the police officer. That's what they're expecting. I just apologized and said it won't happen, again. He was actually very nice and thanked me for working on a farm and helping put food on people's the table. He pulled me over because he was training a new statey (state police officer), a young guy, so he assured me I wasn't getting a ticket, but then he noticed the inspection sticker on the truck was expired. This isn't the truck I normally use. Luckily, he just gave me a warning.
This is how the job was advertised when I found it online "local delivery person for an organic farm, four days a week, 7-2, opportunity for more hours on farm if desired." I said "Perfect" and sent them an email. After working 5 days a week doing everything, but deliver vegetables, the season finally kicked in and, now, I'm driving to Connecticut twice a week, an hour and a half away, Boston once a week, over 2hrs away and one day of local deliveries. My day starts at 4am on the CT days, 5am on the Boston day and 7 on the local delivery day. This was not an accurate description of the position.
The next day someone forgot to print out an invoice so I didn't know to load those vegetables with my other stops because it wasn't a customer that we do every week, but I was still the one who got blamed when this was discovered later in the day after I was already gone doing deliveries. It was time for me and the farm owner to have a talk. I texted him asking when a good time would be. I didn't get a response, but he found me later unloading pallets and neatly stacking them by one of the greenhouses (not leaving this for the next person to do). At one point during our conversation, he actually looked me in the eye and told me that he didn't trust me. I was shocked, but a little relieved because, now, I could quit with a clear conscience. He wasn't ready for it when I responded by saying that I didn't think working there was going to work out. He back pedaled and explained that it wasn't anything personal. He doesn't trust anyone. He said he's been screwed over too many times. Not my problem. Definitely, not my fault. He's had over a month to realize that he can trust me. He asked me not to quit and what he could do to keep me so I agreed to try a little longer even though every ounce of my being was screaming "Get the f*ck out of there!"
When we were talking, I even suggested that we put everyone's name in a hat and before every big work meeting we pull a name out and that person introduces him or herself (we have a few female field workers, now), tells us where they're from, how long they've been at the farm and maybe something else about themselves if they want. The whole process would take all of 2 minutes and then all week we could say "Hi So-and-so from wherever-they're-from" and this would create a little more togetherness on the farm than there is now. I couldn't really tell if he liked the idea, but he did say how it really bothers him that all the tractor operators are white and all the field workers are people of color. A couple of the guys from Jamaica who've been at the farm a long time drive the tractors sometimes, too, but for the most part the rest are all white. This has always bothered me on some of the farms I've worked on especially seeing as I'm usually on one of the tractors. I'm sure my Jamaican and Latin American co-workers think I'm some privileged white guy in my big shiny suv. Little do they know, I'm living out of it and have been living like this for decades because I can't condone the system we're all trapped working for, but I still have more opportunities than they do so I try to be polite and humble when interacting with them.
Now, I'm parked down the road from the woman's property that I'm supposed to be renting. She offered me a nice spot in a field rather than the one by the barn which felt too crowded. Mr.Model and mr.Music are both in Massachusetts 2hrs away and I'm supposed to mediate their talk, but I've driven back in forth from western Mass to the coast so many times over the last week that I want to give my truck a rest for a few days, plus I have to work. They're celebrating the 4th with their families. I've been too busy to sit down and write, but not having anyone to bounce all this stuff off of, I knew I had to so I pulled over to do it, now, before getting to her place. My head isn't very clear, at the moment, and I don't want to make any long term decisions impulsively. This would just perpetuate the unclarity, not fix it.
I really want to quit the job. The people are so stand-offish and the owner is completely oblivious to the real atmosphere of the place because he's so busy and aloof. It's gotten to the point that now I'm making dumb mistakes, mistakes that I would never make, because I'm walking on eggshells. I'm the one who catches mistakes, not makes them. I feel like the longer I'm there the more I'm putting myself at risk for something bad to happen. When I was making a delivery in Boston, today, I decided that rather than quit I should speak up at the next full crew work meeting on Wednesday morning and address the lack of a team atmosphere and communication, but I'm afraid it would only make things worse. They already know the deal. The place has been the way it is long before I got there. They don't want to hear about it from some new delivery driver, but at least, then I'd know I faced my fears, spoke up and try to address some of the things in the hopes of bringing everyone together a little more.
Mr.Model is hoping I quit so he can enlist me for his eco farm idea, but I still want to get out of the country and really clear my head before I commit to anything long term. I suggested that he do some work exchange on a farm or off the grid retreat center just to get his feet wet and get some experience in all the things he wants to do in the meantime, but he hasn't. He just keeps talking about people he's met a these seminars or about the stuff he wants to buy like geodesic domes. I appreciate his enthusiasm, but I'm still a little uncertain about moving forward, yet. I should have a little money saved up so I'm not completely dependent on our success if we work together.
Regardless, I need to get my stuff out of Marshfield asap and my plan, right now, is to rent a cargo van this weekend rather than drive my truck back and forth yet again. Plus, this time it would have a trailer in tow. It's running great, but I'd like to tune it up and give it a rest. I'm lucky to have it and I want to take care of it. The question is "Where am I going to bring my stuff once I get it?" Mr.Finance said to put it in the bunk house. If I did this, I wouldn't have to buy anything or rent land. I could quit this darn job, go to Costa Rica for a week and come back refreshed. I can't tell if I'm afraid to quit the job and disappoint the owner and be judged or am I afraid to stay and have things get even worse and disappoint mr.Model?
What do I want to do, regardless of disappointing anyone? I want to quit and be free of other people's dysfunction and negativity. If I did, I'd still rent the van, move my stuff to the bunkhouse and take a breath. I'd disappoint the farm owner and the woman who owns the land I'm parked down the road from. I think she's really looking forward to having me move there and the extra money. I told her I'd give her a little more than she suggested just so I knew I was helping her out.
If I stay at the job and move to the land, I could keep making what little money I'm getting at the farm, but I'd have to buy a trailer and give her some so then I'd have to recoup these expenses before moving forward. This is the safer decision (as long as nothing bad happens at work) because I'd have a job and a place to stay and I could focus on finishing the book rather than using most of my energy continuing to live on the road.
I could not buy anything, rent a van, move my stuff to the bunkhouse and let things play out a little more. Mr.Finance is the only person in the mix who's not trying to get something from me. Maybe I could see the guys this weekend if mr.Model sticks around for a few more days. A different guy selling a different trailer just texted me and wants to know if I'm coming to look at it, this evening. It's nobody's fault but my own. I've created this whole discombobulated situation myself.
July 4, 2023, Greenfield, Massachusetts
It's a rainy Independence Day, but it's a relaxing one for me. The dust has settled a little with everything I've been juggling and I have a minute to regroup. I was aware that my writing would be affected by working fulltime, but on my days off I've been driving back and forth between here and the coast a lot so I haven't had much time to do more than sleep and work, but with a few recent developments I might actually have all the time and energy I need to work on my goals. The quick version is that I cut back on my hours at the farm, bought a small enclosed trailer to put everything I own in and have a beautiful little field under the shade of a big sugar maple tree which I share with two horses, a big bonus, to park in. I still need to get my belongings in Marshfield. Instead of heading over to the nice lady's land, I answered the guy's text and went and looked at his trailer which was only a few towns away. After barfing up everything I'd just written, it came to me that I hadn't given sticking to the plan of working for the summer and finishing the book a chance. I need to get off the road in order to do this and I haven't. No wonder I've been losing my patience with everyone and everything. I bought the trailer. He seemed like a decent kid -sorry, young man. He had a bunch of trailers in their back field, mostly toy haulers. He uses them to bring little go-karts to a nearby race track and rents them out to kids. He was in his garage which I'm guessing is his parent's welding up a go-kart frame when I got there. He wanted to be able to haul like 10 karts at a time. The trailer he was selling wasn't big enough to do this with. We noticed one of the tires on the trailer was flat so we pulled it out of the field with my truck and he threw a new one on it in his driveway and on down the road I went.
July 6, 2023, South Deerfield, Massachusetts
Had a few perfect moments, today, so that's nice. I think it's the hottest day of the summer so far, but I've been alternating between lying in the back of the yukon writing under the shade of a bridge along a country road and jumping in the Deerfield River to cool off. Not out of the woods, yet, but I'm getting somewhere. Hopefully, after this weekend I'll be self-contained with all my belongings in one location, a manageable schedule, a great work out and a quiet place to sleep at the end of the day surrounded by nature.
After our talk and a few more unpleasant glitches at work, I'm just driving. Nothing more. Told him I'm not interested in doing the Boston run so I've got two days of local deliveries and two to CT. I can live with that. Reporting to no one. Clocking in and clocking out. Don't even attend the work meetings. They don't pertain to me. I was just attended them to show that I'm a team player, but it takes two to tango so I'll just stick to dancing by myself. I'll help out the equipment manager once in a while because he's a good guy and we've gotten to know each other a little -while still keeping our distance which is so lame, but I get it. I'm a lot for people to figure out. I don't fit into any category and probably raise more questions than answers, but when I've got nothing else going on after work I'll stick around longer and tackle a project or two so he can take them off his plate even if I'm not getting paid what I should for stuff like that.
I reserved a cargo van for Saturday when I get out of work. MissLuna, the woman who owns the land I'll be camping on, said I could stay there already, but I'm sticking to life on the road until I get my stuff, store it in the trailer and move it to the field. She'd be psyched if I built a tiny house. She wants to help and learn how, but I might just buy a camping yurt. I've got to stick to my plan and see how much time I have once everything's said and done. I can just fold up the yurt and throw it into the small enclosed trailer if I have to hit the road for any unforeseen reason rather than a big camper which draws too much attention.
Technically, it's not a typical enclosed trailer that contractors use like I've built or bought in the past. It's what's called a snow mobile trailer or toy hauler. Same concept just a different lay out. It has two ramp doors, one in the back and one in the front so you can drive your "toy", a snow mobile, dirt bike or atv in through the back and then out the front. I won't be as under the radar as I prefer if I have to hit the road. Enclosed contractor trailers blend in much easier. Toy haulers not as much especially seeing as mine will have a big kayak on the roof, but I'm trying to be flexible with what I have to work with.
I've got to be up at 3 so a couple more jumps in the river then I'll pick a place to park for the night and hit the hay. I told missLuna to not get anymore hay for the horses without me. Stacking them in a hay loft in a barn is fun. Bumped into the greenhouse manager from the farm at the gas station this morning. We had a great talk. Super cool guy. He lived in Costa Rica a few years back. Bought a house in Greenfield, now, and living the grind to pay for it, but still has a light in his eye. We had a few laughs and he made me feel like I'm taking the right approach regarding the job. Keep on keeping on, y'all. Sometimes what's best isn't perfect, but that's what we have to accept for now. For now.
July 9, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
My first night off the road. It feels good. Sitting in the enclosed trailer with the front ramp door open among antique wooden furniture having some chips and guacamole, I heard the light thumping of hooves on grass and thought missLuna's two white horses were going to come racing by my door, but instead Bambi bounced by. A little fawn with a caramel colored coat sprinkled with white spots ran right by me a few feet away. I knew the horses were out because I saw them down the other end of this small field as I was moving stuff from the yukon into the trailer. The little fawn couldn't have made all that thumping by itself so maybe they had chased it up the field towards me or maybe there were adult deer with it that ran off into the woods before I could see them. Either way, it was pretty cute.
The cargo van was barely half full when I loaded most of my things into it in Marshfield, last night, so I realized I didn't have to get rid of a lot of other stuff that I was planning on letting go of. I still don't have much and I'll most likely go through it, again, and get rid of some more during the next week or so, but it was nice that I could keep an old oval-shaped copper kindling box with a wooden lid and leather hinges that my parents kept by the fireplace when I was a boy, a wooden chair which is part of my parent's dining room set that is, now, out in California with my father and brother. The chair I have is an extra. Our old wheelbarrow, which I fixed with new wooden arms when I got back from Alaska. No use getting rid of it and buying another one if I'm going to need something to bring groceries or whatever from the barn where I'll be parking up to the trailer at the top of the field. It's not a long walk, but a wheelbarrow will save me trips if I ever have more than I can carry in one. And, of course, my mother's small wooden desk.
I didn't leave Marshfield until 3am, this morning. Mr.Striper was blowing up my phone all evening sitting on his boat at the dock in Scituate harbor. He had two charters earlier, one at 5am and another at noon. They caught a bunch of stripers and his customers were happy. He had just finished cleaning the boat and was, now, sitting at the marina having a couple of cold ones with a few other fisherman docked up next to him...while harassing me for taking too long cleaning out the house. Not wanting to rush and not wanting to disappoint him, I decided to postpone loading the rest of the van and headed down to the waterfront to say "Hi." Levitate Music Festival is, also, going on in Marshfield, this weekend, and another buddy was going to an after hours concert on some private land in Duxbury which I was invited to join and mr.Finance was having an impromptu pool party. This is what I get for letting them all know I was going to be in town this weekend. The truth is I let them know because I didn't want emptying the house to be a sad and lonely occasion, but as nice as it was to have so many opportunities to socialize when my life is usually so solitary, I couldn't rush the task at hand. This was where I'd spent my entire childhood, the only home my mother and father had ever owned, and I was leaving it for the last time. It will most likely be torn down in a couple weeks.
After a beer, some pizza at the Mill Warf and a lot of laughs, I made it back to the house by 9:30. Didn't make it to the private concert, but my buddy understood as did mr.Finance. Mr.Model flew back to Fort Lauderdale earlier in the week so getting together with him and mr.Music was off the table, too. I took my time and finished loading the van then put on a headlamp and on my hands and knees covered every inch of the attic, the crawl space above the bedrooms and the garage rafters making sure no trinket of sentimental value got left behind. Didn't find any, but had to make sure. I did, however, dig up the concrete step at the door off the porch where it opens to the backyard. My father had poured the cement and then had my mother and us make our hand prints in it when my brother and I were only 3 and 2 years old. Even our family dog was included. It weighed a ton, but into the back of the van it went. Not sure what I'm going to do with it, but I wasn't leaving it there to be crushed to pieces by an excavator or thrown into a dumpster. I shoveled in some gravel and layed down some stone pavers in its place so there wasn't just a big dirt hole when you opened the back porch door. Took a shower and walked through the neighborhood in the stillness of the night. Even the super loud high school graduation party a few houses over had gone silent by now. It was actually pretty funny listening to those ding dongs yell and party all night as I loaded the van. As loud as they were, they sounded pretty harmless. Not sure my other neighbors would agree, but we were all high school kids once. I partied in that very house plenty of times when I was that age and a different family lived there. I had the street all to myself, now, standing there staring at our house in the dark and said good-bye.
July 13, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
I'm writing in my journal, this morning, by hand sitting in the field in a beach chair because it feels more appropriate than breaking out the laptop. I'll type it in, later. Plus, the sun is already heating things up and a computer in my lap would only make it hotter.
The simplicity of my life, right now, is so rich that I literally feel like I must be doing something wrong and that at any moment someone is going to come and tell me that I can't stay here. I'm not being melodramatic. This is an actual concern, but I guess it makes sense if a person chooses to live so contrary to the insane yet "normal" way we're all expected to live. In the meantime until this feeling either subsides or I do have to leave, I'm going to try to enjoy every moment and get as much done as I can while I have the chance.
July 15, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
Got out of work, grabbed a couple of sheets of plywood and a bunch of 2x3's to build some big shelves in the trailer to stack my storage bins. I've got to maximize the space. It's a little challenging building something when all my stuff is still packed into it, but snow mobile trailers are mounted over the wheels, not in between them like most trailers, so they're wider than usual which gives me a little more room to work. More than once I've laughed at how mlr my life is when I've gotten back here after work, but laughter is a good thing and it reminds me that I'm not crazy. I'm just willing to go to great lengths to not sell my soul in order to make it in this insane world. Plus, this giant maple I'm parked beside in this field makes me feel like I'm living in a fairy-tale.
In the early evening, I did something uncharacteristic. I stopped working on my after work project. Rather than bear down and work all night trying to get it finished, I paused for a moment then walked down to the barn to see if missLuna was around. I haven't interacted with her much since moving here. I've just been coming and going to work and when I am here I've kept to myself working on one thing or another up in the field. She was sitting on her porch reading the other evening and I thought what a perfect time it would be to walk over and say "Hi", but I'd gotten out of work way later than I should've because I got guilted into staying so, now, I was late for a date that I'd made with a woman I'd met online.
Ya, I know it's lame, but what else am I going to do? Meet someone at a bar? No, thanks. And, it's all dudes at work. Well, actually that afternoon when I was helping one of our field crews bring in a truck load of cabbage, a pretty Latin American young lady was giving me big smiles as she tossed heads of cabbage from the field up to me on the harvest wagon. She's a cutie. She waved to me, today, as I was moving one of our big delivery trucks out of the way so they could back a tractor with a load of vegetables up to one of the loading docks. I smiled and waved back, but I know her tricks. I've been on way too many jobs at this point. The pretty ones who smile and flirt with all the guys are usually trouble, but it's still harmless and fun if you don't take it too seriously. God love'em for working hard on jobs like these.
Anyways, I couldn't stop and visit with missLuna even though that was exactly what I wanted to do because I had already made plans with a woman who messaged me online and I didn't want to be late. I had already texted her and asked if we could make it 5:30 instead of 5 and she admitted that she was running a little behind schedule, too, so that helped. I made it to the little park in downtown Northampton at 5:36 where we were meeting, but she didn't get there until like 5:50. I didn't care. I was just glad that I'd gotten there first. I've always heard that a man should never make a woman wait for him so I'm usually early for everything, but my work situation hasn't gotten much better. Normally, I would have just jumped in the river and put on some clean clothes, but I just moved everything out of my truck and into the trailer the day before so I had to drive all the way to Montague to clean up and change. I made sure not to drive fast past missLuna's house.
The date was nice, but uneventful. Honestly, it was just something to do which is worthwhile. She's actually a little older than me which is a first, but she looks a lot younger than her age. She's a rock climber and in really good shape. Definitely a pretty lady, but lives kind of far away and has two children and a psycho ex-husband. Northampton was a good halfway point for us. Plus, we're both new to the area so it was a nice destination to walk around and grab some dinner. We actually walked past Packard's, the bar I shared a few beers with the owner at when I first got back from Alaska 6 years ago. Can't believe it's been that long. I almost forgot I'd been to this town before. She's a very nice lady, but has some pretty intense drama in her life so I'm not super eager to see her, again. I feel bad, but where there's smoke, there's usually fire, unfortunately. I'm not going to right off the possibility of a new friendship. We could both use a friend in the area which is what I stated I was looking for in my profile, just as long as she is ok with it not becoming anything else.
MissLuna wasn't around, but I got to hang out with the horses for a little while. Then I jogged back up to the trailer, threw on a pair of shorts and hiked threw the woods to the big brook that winds along her property. I passed a little sign that read "Robert Frost Trail." That's interesting. I'll have to learn more about that. Found a deep spot in the brook were it passed under a bridge to go for a swim and then walked barefoot along the road back to the barn. Slowing down and enjoying the moment is what life's all about even if we're alone. Worked on the shelves a little more, pulled the second row of seating out of the yukon because the design of these newer models stinks compared to the old suburbans. I almost couldn't fit the plywood in when I went by home depot earlier. The day I can't fit a sheet of plywood in my vehicle is the day I get rid of it.
Well, I should work on the book.
July 18, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
There's certain things that I shouldn't take for granted like being able to get gas or buy groceries and not have to worry about how much it's going to cost. This hasn't always been the case while living on the road moving from place to place, but, right now, it's a comforting feeling. I'm making money, not a lot, but because of how I live it's enough that I can relax a little. I still have a long way to go and can't rest on my laurels, but I can appreciate that I'm not in survival mode at the moment.
I finished building the shelves and have my bins stacked neatly 4 high on one side of the trailer. There's still enough floor space to drive a motorcycle in and out on the other side if I ever decide to get a second vehicle as a back-up. A couple of the bins are only half full so I'll be able to consolidate them and organize what's left even better. While finishing up this little carpentry project, I talked to mr.Producer out in LA on the phone for over 4hrs, yesterday. That boy can talk. We haven't spoken in years so there was plenty to catch up on. I'd just put the phone on mute momentarily when I needed to use the impact driver or saw a board so it wasn't too loud on the other end. He's a very opinionated guy. He gave me sh*t for always working too hard, but I don't expect people to understand that I need to take advantage of every minute I have in order to get myself to a better place. Not having any family left, his mother and father have both passed away and he's an only child who doesn't have any extended family, he's pretty alone in the world, now, so when he called out of the blue a couple weeks ago, I made it a point to call him back and a few times since in the hopes of catching him so it was great that we finally got to catch up. This is the reason why I was willing to let him talk for so long. He and mr.Model used to be tight, but they don't really speak anymore.
He repeatedly urged me to talk to my brother and father about trying to get some financial assistance from them so I can finally come off the road and create the place I've always dreamed of building where people can learn how to live simply off the land. All I've been doing all these years is gaining the experience I'll need in order to do this if I ever get the chance. I think he knows that I won't ask them for a thing, but he still insisted over and over. He's a movie producer and a big part of his job is talking people into doing things. He asserted that the money from the sale of the house in Marshfield is my family's money and that I'm part of that family so I deserve some of it. Mr.Model, mr.Music and mr.Finance all share this opinion. Once my brother gets it in a couple weeks, it'll all be gone so he pressured me to speak up, now, before it's too late, but I explained to him that it's my father's money and I have no right to it even if my brother has used it to better his own situation. We've all heard stories of families being torn apart by fighting over inheritance money and I will never be a party to something like that. There's nothing to be torn apart anyways. We've never been close. I believe in myself and the values I live by. I'd rather depend on them even if I fail than on people who don't know me and have never wanted to. Mr.Producer thinks I'm a fool too stubborn or prideful to ask for help. I won't deny that I am, but this isn't the reason. I've tried to build my life on true values and want to join forces with other people who believe the same. True values, not invented values, are the solution to practically all our problems as a society. This is the type of foundation I want to build on, not on people who put me in this lonely existence in the first place. Mr.Producer doesn't think other people like me exist. He thinks no one is ever going to want to work as hard as I do, but I think he's wrong and I'm willing to bet on it.
I crossed paths with missLuna down at the barn, this weekend, and she gave me the password to her wifi thinking it might reach me up in the field so I thanked her. I'm not going to bother seeing if it works. The last thing I want up here in my little haven of nature is the internet. Pandora can keep her box closed. I use my phone to go online when I need to or as a temporary mobile hotspot to upload these entries. That's good enough, but I interpreted the gesture to mean that she's happy with our arrangement which puts me at ease.
July 24, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
Why have I been so committed to seeking the truth and trying to live according to it? There are many reasons. Some are personal, some are relevant to the times we're living in and some might even be altruistic, but the most important reason is the one that has compelled me to write the book . It is the culmination and the reward that I finally arrived at that only the truth can provide. It's very simple. True happiness wants to be shared. This is what it exists for. There's a natural component within it that makes us want to share it with as many people as possible. Why? Again, there are lots of reasons, but one of the most important is that truly happy people do good things. Unhappy people do bad things. It's in all our best interest to be happy, truly happy, not simply gratified. True happiness is not like money or greed that makes a person hoard whatever they have. True happiness wants to connect us together so that we are joined with the living organism that is our planet, our home. The more we think as a group the better it is for all of us including our planet. This is simply what we're supposed to do. It's in our DNA. You cannot run out of true happiness by giving it away. It increases the more you give it away. It's the good kind of contagious.
Our minds have been sick with the lie that we are separate from the planet and from one another. Unhappiness is a mental illness.
While I was organizing the trailer, yesterday, a butterfly kept landing on my beach chair. At first, I thought it was just an unusual occurrence and didn't pay it too much attention other than to appreciate the random treat, but it kept coming back. Every time I accidentally moved too quickly or came too close while I was working it would flutter away, but a moment later it would return and land back on the chair. At one point in the heat of the afternoon, momentarily forgetting about the butterfly, I sat down in the chair which I had placed in the shade, but it didn't fly away. Luckily, it was perched along the edge of the canvas between my hip and my armpit and I only noticed it when it tickled my skin as it finally flapped its wings and took off. Later, I turned on my phone and googled what type of butterfly it was, a Red Admiral which are known for their "friendliness" and willingness to let people observe them. So that was cool.
I have a snake living under the trailer. Not a big fan, but it's only a small garder. I had to get over my fear of snakes years ago working at a private zoo in California when I was the only guy working there and none of the girls were eager to handle the 100lb. boa we had. The markings on all snakes are incredibly beautiful, but they still give me the willies, at least, when I'm barefoot. This one is harmless and was just trying to catch some rays in the late morning sun before retreating back under the trailer. I kept noticing a rustling in the grass below the side door when I'd come and go never catching a glimpse of whatever it was, not even certain if I was imagining it or not, but I got a peak at it, today, laying in the sun before escaping to the safety of the stuff I have stored underneath the trailer, some tarps and left over wood from my project.
Well, it's official. I'm, now, writing about snakes and butterflies. Send over the magic bus and I'll hop on. Ok, not exactly. Just trying to enjoy the simple things.
Called my brother, yesterday, to make sure there weren't any last minute things that needed to be done at the house before they pass papers, tomorrow. There weren't, but even though I wasn't thrilled about the idea of driving the 2+hrs back to the coast on my day off, I thought calling was the right thing to do. It's the reason I stuck around here. He thought I was living in Maine. He doesn't know anything about my life. I asked how my father was and it didn't sound like the move to California helped his attitude much, possibly made it worse, but he's still in a safer environment. My brother mentioned that he's slowed down more. His speech and ability to walk are labored and slower. He uses a walker, now. My father doesn't want to be there and I don't want to be here, but my brother got what he wanted, a new house in the same town he lived in before coming back east. I wanted us to move somewhere as a family. I suggested we pick a place somwhere in the U.S. that we all agreed upon where land was cheap and my brother had job opportunities. I can find work anywhere. I could farm the land for us and fix up whatever house was on it or build another one if they wanted me to. I know for a fact that my father would've been happier in this type of situation having his two sons there with him. I know my mother would've been proud, but they weren't interested in any of this when I brought it up years ago before things progressed to how they are, now. There was no chance in hell I was bringing up money, but my brother mentioned they'll barely break even on the sale of the house and the purchase of the new one even though it's half the size, it being so close to LA. I was pretty bummed when I got off the phone, but I knew that the simplicity of my life would pull me out of it eventually and it has. Took a few hours. That's not bad.
July 25, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
Getting back in shape is like going through puberty all over, again. This probably sounds vain, but I don't mean it to. It's just fun having these noticeable bumps on my appendages that I can grab and squeeze like ripe fruit where there used to be just skin and bones.
I helped out missLuna and one of her friends, this evening, by throwing hay up to them in the loft of the barn when I got out of work. Then I walked down to the little bridge at the beginning of the road and went for a swim to cool off and clean up. It's actually a little on the cool side tonight for a change. It's been a hot summer so far. I have the door of the trailer open and I'm under the blankets, at the moment. I guess I should confess that I never sold the toy box bed. I've been sleeping on it. It works great and takes up like no room when I slide it closed into a little bench. Granted, I have to pull up a wooden chair to give my feet something to rest on so they're not dangling off the end of the bed when it's pulled out, #mlr, but it's serving the purpose, for now.
When I was parked by the barn waiting for missLuna to get back with the hay, I looked online for a different farm job. There's a few in the area, but they pay even less than what I'm making, now, and I doubt I'll get as good of a work out. It's just miserable where I'm working. You can see it on everyone's face. There's a standing joke with a few of the guys about quitting, but I'm not sure if they're as serious as I am about actually doing it. It's very possible that they simply can't afford to. Farming is hard work. There's no getting around this. The fact that it pays way less than other jobs that require a similar skill set and that it's super long hours with no overtime doesn't help its cause. Don't even think about health benefits. It's a wonder anyone does it, but I love it and those who I've worked with over the years do, too. For the small independent farmer, it's just hard to pay people what they should be and could be making doing something comparable. I guess this is why so many farms hire migrant workers. Coming from a different country, they're probably just so thankful to have a job that they don't care or realize how little it pays. It's still more compared to what they'd be making in their home countries. The fact that most Americans won't work this hard for so little speaks to a whole other issue. A lot of farm jobs that hire big seasonal crews often include housing as well so the workers don't have to worry about finding a place to live and the farm owners have a captive audience. The farm I'm working on, right now, has two houses for the field workers, one at the farm and another one in a nearby town that they car pool back and forth from. The greenhouse manager has a handful of Latin American workers living with him, too, seeing as he married their sister. Sounds cozy.
It'd be stupid for me to quit, but it, also, feels like I'm putting myself at risk by staying. Today was a light delivery day so I took on some extra projects to help out the facilities manager. As I was setting up a ladder to clean out the blower at the peak of one of the greenhouses, the greenhouse manager and I were talking. There's been a regular theme to our conversations. Karma. Working someplace where so many people are unhappy is simply bad karma. It's almost like he was inadvertently warning me to get out while I can. I've been very diligent since my conversation with the owner a couple weeks ago making sure I cross every "t" and dot every "i". There are a lot of people working at the farm who are very good at their jobs, but I still catch a few mistakes here and there, not to gain brownie points, but to make sure I don't get blamed for them. This is an awful atmosphere to work in, but as a result my stock is going up. Let me make one thing very clear. This is not how to make a person do a better job. Making people anxious causes them to make mistakes. A positive work environment causes people to do a better job. I'm just covering my ass because I know how to. The anxious environment is what caused me to make the one little mistake I made a few weeks ago because I was rushing as a result of someone else's mistake. Now, I'm just refusing to let this happen by holding myself to a higher standard than anyone else.
If I liked the job and planned on staying I would've required a raise a long time ago. This is what we agreed upon when he hired me. I told him to pay me the lowest he starts people at and then after a couple weeks we can revisit the matter. This never happened so he's still getting a real bargain, but I'm fine with it because I believe in karma and I don't want to take anything from him that he can hold against me later.
My arrangement here with missLuna is working out great which is why I considered looking for a different farm job in the area seeing as I have permission to be some place nice. I'm pretty darn happy the way things are, but I can't imagine how happier I'd be if I didn't dread going to work everyday. Another way to look at it is to let not wanting to be there motivate me to get the book done and out into the world which is what I'm doing. The idea I came up with this spring for promoting the book was to make t-shirts with the website on them and donate them to goodwill and the salvation army. It sounds like a crazy way to promote a book or anything else, but I like the idea and it will reach working class people who are my kind of people. I finished designing a few different versions of t-shirts and after payday next week I'll look into having a handful of each made up. I'll keep one for myself, of course.
July 30, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
Lots of perfect moments are stacking up this summer along with an accumulation of sincere thankfulness. Sometimes I feel so happy that it almost hurts. Even though I don't have much by this world's standards, I feel damn lucky a lot of the time. Still waking up over the grand canyon every morning which is enough to make someone not want to wake up ever again, but there's nothing I can do about this, right now, other than bear it and keep doing what I'm doing. This is about the long game, not immediate fixes. Even if ten years is long enough, staying the course is the only way to address the root cause rather than just placating the symptoms. I can still enjoy the frequency of these small short windows of relief I'm getting to experience while appreciating the simple things in life.
I got to help missLuna unload hay three times this week after work. It's been a very hot, but rainy summer so getting hay for a lot of people has been a challenge. She's been driving 45 minutes away to get hers and very appreciative of the help. She parks her truck and little flatbed trailer directly under the hay loft door on the 2nd story of the barn and I stand in the back of the truck and toss them up to her. Every time she thanks me, I assure her that it's fun for me. It brings back memories of one of my favorite jobs in Maine for Long Horn when I use to drive around the country side delivering hay and grain to all the farms and barns in the area with my loyal sidekick riding shotgun. This reminds me, I should send them an email to say "Hi." It's been too long. You gotta love a job where you're allowed to bring your dog to work everyday. A lot of times if the customers had a dog, or dogs, he was allowed to hop out of the truck, with their permission, and play while I unloaded the feed then off down the road we went to the next stop.
I've been topping off my evening fun by walking down the road and going for a swim in the brook to wash off the hay and sweat. There's even a little waterfall about 4ft tall that I can sit under on the really hot days. I don't know what it is about me, water and finding rocks, but I found a cool rock in the big brook during my first swim when I moved here a month ago. It's actually two rocks, one rock that somehow split into two perfect halves. What are the odds of finding both of them on the bed of a brook 3 ft deep covered in rocks? I wasn't even looking for them. I just noticed after picking up the second one that they fit together to make one rock. I know it's corny, but I kept them.
Enjoying life when we can is important, but I can't get complacent. I have to, also, use my energy and efforts wisely on my days off to chip away at little goals that will contribute to my larger one.
July 31, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
You never want to run at a horse. That will freak them out, but if done correctly you can get them to run at you...well, run with you. I did the front brakes on the yukon, this afternoon. I don't think it could have gone any smoother. Took like 20 minutes so I was in a good mood as I was heading up the field this evening. MissLuna had already put the horses out and they can be a little aloof, but timing is everything and I've wanted to try this since I moved here so I decided that tonight was the night. I casually walked past Gala, the larger female who is the less social of the two, then once I was a couple of yards beyond her further up the hill, I took off running and said "C'mon you," with a giggle. She took off after me. Then missLuna's German Shepherd came streaking across the grass from under the fence that separates the front yard from the field and joined in. All three of us raced up the hill as I tried not to laugh. I had a good head start, but they soon left me in the dust. "T", the male, was already up at the top of the field. He's my buddy and likes to hang out up by my trailer. (A couple days later, missLuna mentioned that she saw us and wished she had her phone handy so she could have taken a picture.)
I, also, pulled the front passenger seat out of the yukon, this afternoon. The button that makes it recline stopped working the other day so it was stuck all the way forward from when I picked up plywood for my shelf project. I had to unbolt the seat and flip it over to locate the motor underneath that powers this feature. There's four motors all together. One slides the seat, one raises the seat, another tilts it and finally one reclines it. Figured out which one it was, reversed the wiring so when I moved the switch to make it 'recline' forward, it reclined back instead. This is how I knew it's the switch that's broken and not the motor. I'll order one this week. I reclined it a little further than my driver's seat for now that way if anyone sits in it before I get the new switch which seems highly unlikely, they can move it up to where they like.
August 3, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
I just happened to be getting into my car as she was getting out of hers and our eyes met. I hadn't been to this little village co-op since moving to my field down the road, but I needed a bag of ice. My new cooler which I just bought works great, but I had to head to the farm at 3:30am tomorrow and there wouldn't be any stores open then so I decided to grab some ice now which gave me an excuse to check out this funky neighborhood store. I'm glad I did.
I said, "Hello" and she said "Hi."
I had just gotten the ice and she noticed that I was holding a map as she passed by my passenger side window.
"Are you on a trip?"
"No, I just moved here. I'm renting a little piece of land just down the road and wasn't sure if I wanted to head home just yet so I was looking on the map to see what's around here.
"Oh, well then welcome to the neighborhood."
"Thank you very much. Are you from here?"
"Yes, I grew up just down the road."
"Wow, really? It's so nice here."
"Yes, I like it. Now, I live just a little further down the road." Noticing my license plate, "Are you from Maine?"
"Maine's been my home base for a long time, but I actually grew up in Mass, but way over on the coast. I moved up to Maine when I got out of college. Ignorantly, I didn't know how nice it is in this part of the state. I never knew there were so many farms out here.
"Yes, we have a lot."
"I'm working on one over in Deerfield."
We talked for a little while longer. She welcomed me to the neighborhood, again, and I thanked her, again. I'll confess that I watched her walk away towards the store. She was wearing a thin summer dress tied loosely around her waist and a bikini type halter top that revealed a little bit of her tummy. Her tan hips swayed back and forth. Luckily, I didn't stare too long or I would have gotten caught because when I looked up from the map she was back at my window. She invited me to a party on Saturday that her and her friends were having.
August 5, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
The party was tonight and for the past two days I've been haunted by the fact that I couldn't remember the girl's name who invited me. I'm usually a little smoother, but when I'm living in quasi isolation like I have been and a pretty lady walks up to my truck window and invites me to a party, I'm lucky to remember my own name let alone hers so the whole experience was kind of a blur. I wrote her address down so I wouldn't forget that and even tried to google it to see if I could find it that way, but no luck. Of course, I could've just winged it and played it cool hoping someone would use her name in a sentence once I got there, but I prefer to be honest so I got her a card and some flowers to thank her for inviting me and confessed to my short term memory loss. The other reason I got a card was that I wasn't 100% sure I was even going to make it to the party.
It all happened so fast that I hadn't asked her what time it started. I did mention that I had to work on Saturday so I figured if it was a daytime get-together she would have mentioned this. I got out of work pretty early so I had time to do some errands. I picked up a couple organic watermelons to bring to the party from a farm stand like the ones we grew on my friend's farm in Easton that are yellow on the inside instead of red. They just seem sweeter. Dropped off some stuff I was getting rid of at the Salvation Army, did my monthly manscaping and took a shower in the field with the solar shower bag which I put out to heat up before heading to work, this morning.
I invited one of the guys from work and his girlfriend to join me, but they already had plans. He's new like me and the only person at the farm who's made any attempt to socialize. He's worked on a lot of farms too and has found the atmosphere on this one unusual and difficult as well. I was cleaned up and ready to roll by 3 so not knowing when the party started I decided to drive by the address to see what was going on. It wasn't that far away and I didn't want to miss out like I did a couple years ago when I got invited to that party in Maine and brought my dorky organic Halloween carrots. It's not very often I get the chance to meet like-minded people, but her house was off a dirt road deep in the woods with a long steep driveway heading up the side of a small mountain and no mailbox which meant no place to leave a card and a "no trespassing" sign which felt a little less than welcoming though I'd probably have one, too, if I lived way out there. I came to a stop at the base of the driveway and turned my radio down to see if I could hear voices or music and didn't so I kept driving.
There was a place not far from there that I wanted to check out that we passed the night I went camping with the folks from the community I did a little volunteering at earlier this summer. The guys said it was cool even though it was kind of in the middle of nowhere which to me makes it even cooler. I actually thought about inviting those guys, too, but we never exchanged phone numbers and I didn't have enough time to drive over there when I got out of work to try to catch the end of their weekly Saturday work party. I thought maybe some of them might even be there.
Got an ice cream at the little general store next to Deja Brew's and did some prep work on my phone for next week when I'll be covering for one of the guys at the farm who will be on vacation. He does the Boston deliveries. The farm owner asked me a few weeks ago if I'd cover for him one day this week and I agreed. Now, it's turned into 3 days. Whatever. Just taking the high road. The situation there isn't getting better, but I thought maybe I'll make some new friends at this party and life here will, at least, be a little less lonely. Otherwise, I don't see myself white-knuckling it through the fall and winter.
A friend of hers greeted me as soon as I pulled into the driveway and one of the first words out of her mouth was missButterfly's name. This is what I'm calling her because like the Red Admiral that landed on my chair the other day she was friendlier to me than most and just as pretty, but I tried to word my card platonically and not be overly demonstrative while at the party. She seemed to be doing the same. Plus, she had a lot of friends and family there, but was nice enough to give me a tour of her beautiful home which she and her husband built. They have two children. Tragically, her husband was hit by a car and killed 2 years ago which was the other reason I was so respectful while I was a guest. I can't even imagine how devastating this must have been for her and the children, and still. Two years is not a long time for something like this.
I said goodbye to missButterfly and left the party around 10:30. I met lots of cool people and hope to see them, again, but as the night progressed and the atmosphere began to subside the grand canyon began to open up below me as I found myself sitting in a chair alone by the fire so I figured it was time to go. It was a great experience. Even though they were off grid, they had amps, electric guitars and a full drum kit for a friendly jam session. I actually brought my guitar, too, and seriously considered joining in, but I'm not that good and my cup had already runneth over getting to be in such a cool scene and it felt like I'd be forcing things to stay any longer. I included my phone number on the card so maybe I'll here from her, again.
August 6, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
I didn't sleep in as long as I would have liked this morning so I pushed open the side door of the trailer which I can reach from the bed to let in some fresh air and turn on my phone to find out what time it was. Cell phones don't get very good reception in big metal boxes. It was 6:30 and the birds were pleasantly chirping. It took me a few days when I first moved here to get used to not needing to put my ear plugs in at night or in the early morning in order to block out the noisy world around me. The silence of the country is much more comforting. I could hear the wings of a bird in the big maple just outside my door and for some reason I knew it was going to fly into the trailer and visit me. A few seconds later it did and perched right above my head by the lamp over my bed. When I casually rolled over to get a better look at it, it flew back outside. It was all gray and medium sized. I'll have to look up what kind it was. Not a bad way to wake up.
One of missButterfly's friends told me about the Native American festival going on, today, in Turners Falls so I was planning on heading over there this morning. I was taking my bike with me so I could park the yukon in the little public parking lot in the downtown area where I spent many nights earlier this summer then I could pedal over to the festival along the waterfront. Around noon, I was meeting my work buddy and his girlfriend for lunch seeing as they couldn't make it, last night. Quite the social weekend from what I'm used to. The first Native American speaker at the festival was wonderful. He was a Mohawk and spoke about how in their culture it is important to welcome a new baby into the world properly by introducing him or her to all of nature, the mountains, the rivers, the wind, the plants, the animals and most of all to our mother, the Earth. He said that she misses her children because so many of us don't even recognize her. He was very funny and warm, but there were tears in his eyes when he told us this.
Before heading to Turners this morning, I wrote an email to mr.Solar in VT asking him for some help. MissButterfly told me how she and the kids were visiting a friend of hers on the Cape earlier this week and got to do a little sailing, but while they were gone lightening struck their solar system at the house and it fried the power inverter (the part of the system that converts the electricity stored in the batteries to house current) so, right now, they have no power. I have plenty of experience with these types of systems, but I wrote mr.Solar because he's an expert. I offered to come up to VT and do some work for him because I'm sure people are always hitting him up for free advice so I wanted to do something helpful in exchange. The only problem is that I have no way of getting in touch with missButterfly. I gave her my number in the card, but I don't have hers.
August 7, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
After thinking about it for a day, I drove over to missButterfly's house after work and stuck a note on the telephone pole at the bottom of her driveway just to follow up about the power inverter. I didn't think going all the way up the driveway to her house was appropriate. We talked a little at the party, but I don't think we know each other well enough for me to just show up unannounced. While she was giving me a tour of her house, the other night, I mentioned that I have some solar experience and would be happy to take a look at it for her, but when you just meet someone and they mention something in passing especially during a party, you don't know how serious they are so I wanted to make sure she knew that I was.
August 9, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
Another 3am to 3pm day. Capped it off with a stop at the bridge on my way home to go for a swim so that was nice. Got to spend some time with one of the guys from Jamaica just before I got out of work. Actually, he's the one who reminded me to take a bath in the brook. No, not because I smell like a high school locker room which may be the case, but because he was telling me how back on the island even though he has a house with a nice bathroom he still prefers to bathe in the river that runs through his back yard when he's home. I read about the history of Jamaica this week to learn more about my co-workers so it was perfect timing that I had to pick him up at the truck rental place on my way back from Boston, today.
I was totally picking his brain about what life is like in Jamaica as I drove. He was just there in April and he's going back, again, next week for a visit which was great to hear. He might be the most successful out of all the guys from the island on the farm. He's our warehouse manager, married (an American girl), kids, the whole deal. After talking with him, I feel better about all of their situation. They come here, work their butts off, then go back home when the season's over to relax. He was telling me that they make enough here that they don't have to work for the rest of the year when they go home and most of them have houses there. There's probably 20 guys on the farm and they all live in the same area on the island so they all know each other, some for a very long time. I asked him how many days a week he works at the farm and he said "All of them."
It takes a village. I'm going to keep repeating this to myself and to anyone who might read this someday. Don't be fooled especially in this country and in this culture. Human beings are extremely resourceful and resilient. All living creatures are. We find a way to survive even when the conditions are extremely unnatural so much so that it's easy to not realize that this isn't how we are designed to live. The other point that I'm going to keep driving home is that the mind is a creature of habit. It can become robotic very easily without us even realizing it. Of course, it can. The mind is what invented robots. I can't beat myself up about how long it takes me to learn something even if I think I could have done it better in hindsight. It's easy to look back on a situation with a clarity and perspective that I couldn't have had in the moment I made a particular decision like taking this job. I needed a job even though I had a feeling that something felt off about it. Not working is not an option. Sometimes the harder it is for us to learn something, the more we get out of the lesson. We don't get much out of things when they come too easy.
MissButterfly called me, today. It turns out the lightening fried her phone as well. That's why I hadn't heard from her. She doesn't have a cell phone only a landline which I think is impressive so she borrowed a friend's phone to call me and thank me and to let me know that she'd call when her phone was fixed.
August 12, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
After I got out of work, today, I stopped in Montague center because missButterfly said she was going to Old Home Day. It's like a small town fair they have every year, but the place was deserted. It's a tiny little town, but I drove down some side streets just to make sure. There definitely wasn't a fair going on. I thought maybe they canceled it because we were supposed to get thunderstorms, but when I googled Montague Old Home Day the town website said "rain or shine" then I noticed that it wasn't until next Saturday. I'm a genius. I could've sworn she said she was going, today. Oh well.
She called me, this evening, to see if my friend could order her a power inverter and I told her that I already sent him an email, but hadn't heard back yet which is unusual. He usually gets back to me the very next morning when I email him, but I told her I'd call him in the morning if I didn't hear from him by then. She, also, mentioned that she didn't see me at Old Home Day and I explained that I tried to go, but it wasn't going on. She told me that she and the kids were there all afternoon and it was a fun day with a good turn out. It was definitely still going on when I got out of work. After telling her how I looked all over Montague center and couldn't find any people or fair, she pointed out that's because it was in Wendell, the next town over. I've never heard of an "Old Home Day", but both of these towns have one every summer on different weekends. Wups. The genius strikes, again.
August 13, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
Took a shower and put on some clean clothes to drive into Greenfield and maybe look for something to do, tonight. This being alone all the time is getting old. Couldn't find anything. It's Sunday so most places were closed. Got some groceries and headed back to the field which is something I never regret doing even if I am by myself. I love it here.
Spoke to mr.Solar this morning and he was happy to help missButterfly get a new power inverter. He and his wife were out of town at a small music concert at some friend's of theirs property in southern Vermont so he hadn't checked his email in a couple days. He only has a flip phone and barely knows how to make a call on it let alone check his email. Some people may find things like this an inconvenience, but I find it refreshing.
August 14, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
MissButterfly and her son came by the field, today, and we ordered her a new power inverter. She has the internet at her house, but, right now, she has to fire up their generator to use the computer so it was just easier for them to come by here and use my phone. Her son had a play date with a friend who lives in Montague and I had already bookmarked a bunch of websites that carry the inverter she needs. Mr.Solar, actually, had one he was willing to sell her at cost which was the same brand she had, but it was a different model for a smaller system which would require changing some other components in hers so he gave us the number of the wholesale supplier he uses and we ended up calling them. She'll have it in a couple days and her friend who works in solar locally is going to install it for her.
I was a little self-conscious about having guests, this afternoon, but she's her own person and definitely someone who thinks outside the box so I figured if anyone would understand why I live like I do she would so I just went with it and it was fun. Me and Firefly, her 4yr old son, kicked a ball around while she was on my phone with her friend's wife getting his solar business info so we could give it to the company we were getting the inverter from which he, also, has an account with. Mr.Solar is retired and doesn't need the business.
When I lived off the grid in a small cabin on 80 acres on the coast of California with my four-legged sidekick back when he was still alive, I used to have movie nights. I'd borrow a friend's projector and aim it at the side of the barn which I'd cover with white shower curtains. I'd arrange couches and chairs in the field beside the barn and we'd have a small bonfire going. Mr.Music even came up from LA with one of his band members and put on a little concert for us one time. It was so much fun, but I'll confess when it was all over and every one had gone home, I'd go into what felt like withdrawals. That's what it kind of felt like, today, when they left, but it was still nice to have a little company.
August 20, 2023, Deerfield, Massachusetts
I was walking down a quiet rural road not knowing a soul for miles in any direction which is pretty normal for me. It's early evening, but the sun is still bright. It's been in the 80's all day. There's an expanse of farmland on my left that I can look out across. The trees on my right begin to thin until there's nothing, but a winding river along the road and I bust out laughing. Two hours ago I was paddling down that river in my kayak. I'd never been on it before so I didn't realize it came so close to the road because when you're floating on the water below you can't see the land you're passing through other than what's immediately along the banks. This fact alone isn't exactly something to make a person laugh out loud, but I think it was the combination of a few other things, the beautiful weather, the peacefulness of the scene and the relief that I've only got a couple more miles to walk before making it back to my truck.
It's late August and I don't know how many more days like this we're going to get so I made myself put all my projects on hold, today, and have some fun. I haven't used the kayak once since moving to the field a couple months ago and all summer long, I've been driving on bridges that carry me over the two major rivers in this area, the big Connecticut and the Deerfield, and each time I've looked out my truck window I've thought to myself "I've got to get out on that."
It's sometime after 5pm and I was on the water by noon. The plan this morning was to drive to the spot where I'm now walking towards and drop off the kayak then drive to where I'd be finishing at the end of the day and leave the truck there so it'd be waiting for me when I pulled the boat out. I brought my bike with me so I could ride it back to where I was starting, but I got so excited about getting on the water that I threw that plan out the window. When I arrived, I slid the kayak in the water, loaded it with the cooler full of snacks, a bag of dry clothes and a bunch of towels and blankets (I like a cozy comfortable boat) and jumped in. I said to myself "Frig it. I'll figure out how I'm getting back to the truck, later. The day's a wasting." It wouldn't be the first time I've hitch-hiked with a paddle in my hand. Technically, I don't need to bring the paddle when I walk back, but it catches people's attention and helps get a ride like a conversation starter. Plus, there were so many tubers at the put-in spot, this morning, that I figured some of them might be driving back when they got finished, too, but honestly I didn't care. I just wanted to get on the water, swim, drift, catch some rays and relax. The drill sergeant in me tried to get me to stick to the plan, but it didn't seem like fun riding the bike in the hot sun with all the traffic on the road in the late morning so I fired him. That dude needs to chill.
I did a lot of swimming. Had a couple picnics. There were a few little rapids to negotiate, too. Nothing crazy, but enough to make it interesting. One beautiful section had giant red rocks you have to weave your way through. I didn't know what to expect around every bend especially with the tremendous amount of rain and high winds we've gotten this summer. There were a lot of downed trees in the water. I'd never been to the take out spot either so I was hoping that would still be usable. I drive by the road it's on every morning on my way to work and I've seen a couple cars parked there this summer so I was hoping getting the boat up the banks of the river to the road wasn't going to be too difficult. They're very high at that section, but when I got to where I thought it was, I tied the kayak to a big downed tree in the river out of sight and found the trail up to the road. It was a little over grown, but not too bad so I left the kayak where it was and headed back for the truck hence the good laugh when it was all said and done and I could see the finish line at the end of the day.
I didn't even try to get a ride. I felt so good that I just walked. Rather than take rte.5 which is very busy, there was a smaller road that went through historic Deerfield center running parallel to the highway so I took this instead which brought me to the little country road I ended up on. It was only 5 and 1/2 miles and might have been the easiest I've ever walked. It would have been nice to have someone to share the day with. Of course, I wouldn't have made them walk back with me. We could've taken two cars or ubered it. I'm such a sap that I even tucked an extra paddle up in the bow of the kayak in case I met someone at some point during the day who wanted to join me. How pathetic is that? I thought about inviting missButterfly, but I haven't talked to her much. I called her the other day to see how she made out with her solar panels and everything's up and running which was great to hear. I mentioned that we should hang out sometime if she'd like to and she seemed receptive, but it's tough to say. Maybe after seeing how I live, she's no longer interested which I can understand. Growing up around here, her parents, brother and all her friends are a big part of her life and, of course, she's a mom so she's got a pretty full plate and might not need anymore friends. I definitely do, but I'm not going to play games with someone who's been through what she's been through. If I don't have any serious romantic interest, I should steer clear of that subject so I wasn't sure a river trip was the best next step.
I was a white-water rafting guide up in Maine years ago and the first part of our training was to jump in the Dead River in spring after the winter's snow melt when the water levels are highest and water temperatures are coldest wearing only a wet suit and float down the rapids feet first to "get to know the river." We ran those class 4 and 5 rapids over and over until we knew them by heart before taking any customers with us when the summer tourist season began. The water, whether a river or the ocean, is nothing to mess with. Taking missButterfly and possibly one or both of her children down a river that I'd never been on before after a huge amount of rain from summer storms was not a safe idea. I did ask the lady rock-climber I went on a date with a month or so ago, but she wanted to bring her two little foofy dogs and go out on a lake in Westfield where she lives instead. Not the kind of day I was looking for and waiting to hear back from her put me a little behind schedule which added to my eagerness, this morning. I guess it's only fitting that I went alone. I still had a blast, but I'll be leaving here soon. The future is waiting for me somewhere down the road.
August 26, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
I'm walking in the grass in the dark. Why do so many of my entries begin with me walking? I'm carrying what I would describe as an awful feeling in my gut and the cause of this feeling is that I'm walking in the grass in the dark. More specifically, I'm walking away from a place that I don't want to leave, yet I can't get myself to stop like so many times before. Most recently, it was at the party at missButterfly's or the girl who wanted to dance with me at the Jetty or pretty much every time I've ever seen my father and brother. Why do I do this?!
After driving for an hour, I got back to my field, last night, and I'm still wrestling with all the possible causes for what makes me fall into this pattern. It's, now, 6 the next morning and I've gone through each reason like trying to prioritize a "To Do list" to see which item stands out above the rest. My initial assessment of this behavior is that I'm just being a pussy. When I'm someplace where I don't know anyone whether it takes a few minutes or a few hours eventually I start to feel nervous or awkward and don't know what else to do so I remove myself from the situation which feels like defeat, but that's just because I'm so overly critical of myself. Most people have no idea what this is like. Most people probably wouldn't even go someplace by themselves where they don't know anyone. Despite the fact that it appeared, at least in the case of last night, more than one person didn't want me to leave, yet I still do. So why the f*ck do I do this? Why have I always done this? The last serious relationship I was in ended 9 years ago (can't believe it's been that long) and contains many of these moments.
Similar to the party missButterfly invited me to, yet on a larger scale, last night, I went to a little concert that mr.Solar and his wife invited me to up in Vermont to celebrate my last day at the farm. The event was organized by a friend of theirs who owns the place where it was held. He and I seemed to hit it off. He and his wife host many of these types of events, live music, bonfire, organic local food, even a small farm right on the property. This is exactly the type of place I've always wanted to create. All kinds of reasons flood my brain as to why I shouldn't walk away from such a great opportunity to get to know the people responsible for making it happen. There were two opening acts which were a treat in and of themselves, but the head-liners, if we're going to call them that, elevated the small crowd to a level where we were all singing and dancing along to songs that we'd never heard before and they weren't dorky sing-along songs. They were cool, like stuff you'd here on the radio. The singer had such an engaging personality that he made it easy to learn the words. The group of three was made up of two female vocalists and an Irish singer-songwriter with an acoustic guitar who's friends with Van Morrison -friggin' Van Morrison!! They were very down to earth and joined the rest of us once they were done performing to talk, drink, eat and be merry. Definitely a place I should leave as soon as possible. I'm such a dumb ass.
I'm not going to belabor the matter by rehashing every seemingly valid reason I've come up with since that moment in the grass in the dark halfway between the farmhouse and the little field where my truck was parked while a voice inside my head was screaming "Stop! Don't leave! Go back!" I've already intellectualized all of them. Instead, I need to understand the root cause and learn from it. I have to use how bad it feels to become a better version of myself. This is what mistakes are for, if it was a mistake which I'm not sure it was. I had a great time, met lots of cool and interesting new people and I left because they can't handle me. This is the reason. No one can. I can't handle me either in these moments and this is why I leave. The only thing that could is a tribe and I don't belong to one. Like the aggressive rottweiler who gets thrown into a well-adjusted pack of dogs and immediately loses all his aggression (see 3.25.23), this is what a tribe does for all of us. Maybe "handle" isn't the right word. They simply didn't know me. Mr.Solar and his wife had already left, but I made myself stay longer and though I had a pretty genuine conversation with the young farmer who was living there on the property with his girlfriend, this doesn't change the fact that I am still orbitless and when the conversation ended, it was all I could do to get the heck out of there. I'm sick of feeling like an orphan. I went inside the main house to say good-bye to my host and found him sitting at the head of a large table with a big group of people seated around it digging into a full spread of food. All the visiting musicians and vocalists were in attendance and everyone was friendly and nice. He reminded me to come back and to keep in touch. There was so much energy flowing through me, at this point, that trying to contain it while pretending that everything is fine is not honest so the best thing is to get away to someplace safe to let it gradually diffuse. I wish this wasn't the case.
I remember one year, I stumbled upon a magical place in the woods of southern Georgia called Hostel in the Forest where all the guests sleep in tree houses which surround the communal living area below and it took me like three days to come down from the high I was on and it wasn't from drugs. I've never done drugs. I don't need to. Twenty years later, I'm still friends with the people I met there.
This is a good example of how to handle this type of experience. Getting out of the relationship I was in before starting this blog and, sadly, removing family members from my life who don't want to be in my life were, also, the right decisions even though they have been accompanied by this same gut wrenching feeling. I need to separate the two. Leaving last night wasn't a mistake. It was just the pain of loneliness rearing it's head once, again. The contrast of being surrounded by people and the opportunity to possibly make new friends and returning to my solitary existence is so acute that it hits pretty hard when going from one extreme to the other. That's all it is.
In the example of the hostel, I didn't leave. Each night, I returned to my truck parked in the dirt parking lot in the woods just down the path from the common house and during the day I'd participate in group activities, work on some projects for them, go swimming in one of the ponds, help out in the kitchen, etc. I even had company during one of those nights. A pretty young lady joined me in my truck. She was staying in one of the tree houses, but after slipping away from the night's festivities with me and adjourning to her floating bungalow, I didn't feel good about bumping the guy she was traveling with out of his room. She assured me that they were just friends and he wouldn't be bothered if he knew we were spending the night together, but I still wasn't cool with making him feel like a third wheel in the room that he paid for when he finally retired for the evening to find us there so we bounced to my truck and gave him the tree house. He and I actually became friends, too. Such a great guy.
It helped that it was a pretty comfortable truck, a vintage 1975 Chevy Blazer, the last year of the complete convertible, that I had tricked out with captain's chairs in the front that spun around to face the back which had wrap around cushioned seating like a boat that I built with storage underneath that converted into a full size bed when camping. Of course, the young lady and I didn't have sex because I'm the world's biggest pussy, but there was plenty of cuddling and kissing. I think all our clothes came off at one point, but I didn't let us go all the way. She was very accommodating like so many women have been over the years and it was still a positive and enjoyable experience for both of us. Would she have liked to have gotten laid? Ya, probably. Am I a dumb ass for not allowing us to? Ya, probably. However, the truth is that it was for the best.
I don't have a tribe to keep me grounded. This is probably why I always look for dance clubs or cool bars with live music to burn some energy by going off in a corner to jump around until my clothes are drenched with sweat and the lights come up. The human mind if ungrounded can become a very destructive machine especially if powered by a large amount of energy. It would be like revving up a nascar engine then unbolting the motor mounts that keep it safely secured to the frame of the race car. All that power is designed to be channeled through the transmission and then out to the wheels making the stock car travel at inhuman speeds, but if not bolted down it would be unleashed in such an uncontrollable way that it would completely destroy the front half of the vehicle. This has happened to me when I've gone through something so powerful and painful that I became ungrounded and spun into an emotional black hole that I couldn't escape. Hospitals were involved. I'd go from having the worst day of my life to an even worse situation with my freedom being controlled by people who were far less intelligent and had no idea how to help someone like me.
The good news is I have learned a lot. The bad news is I still have to be very careful. This is what I was doing, last night. Being careful. If it was a weekend event and we'd all be seeing each other the next day, the pressure to try to cram getting to know people and form an instant friendship all in one sitting would be off. It's not like it hasn't happened in the past. I've met people over the years where the perfect storm of circumstances aligned and we became instant good friends, but a person can't count on this happening all the time. It's probably happened to me a lot more than most seeing how I live. Maybe this is why I've stayed on this path.
There were people of all ages there last night, young and old, pretty girls, talented artists, entrepreneurs, etc. and I told myself as I was rolling down the driveway in the dark, "You're almost there, but not quite so get back to work and get ready." In the case of the night with the young lady hidden in the forest, I did the exact right thing and our friendship was honored and preserved. We took it slow. It's not easy for me either as clothes start coming off. I like sex just as much as the next person, but rushing into a fleeting night of desire with someone I barely know could have a precarious aftermath when you're crossing the Grand Canyon alone on a tight rope. I still had a lot to learn back then. There's nothing wrong with having sex even casual sex, I suppose, if approached with the right attitude, but my mind was still full of so much judgement and guilt from growing up in an unhealthy world that the risk just wasn't worth the reward. I'd already learned this the hard way. The work that I still need to do is to find or create a place where no one living there ever has to feel this alone. This is all any of us can do. I'm just trying to do it while being as least dependent as possible on the system that created this problem in the first place.
September 1, 2023, Greenfield, Massachusetts
The next phase of my plans has officially begun. I got my last paycheck, today, (direct deposited) and my new debit card should arrive in a few days so later I'll get online and transfer some money into the new account. I normally use credit unions for my banking needs. They support local economy more, seem less profit driven and corrupt as traditional banks, but if I'm going to be traveling internationally I'd get hit with a lot of extra fees and surcharges so I had to resort to opening an account with one of the major national banks, at least for as long as I'm traveling. I bought my plane ticket last week and I leave for Costa Rica on the 12th. I finished stacking 4 cords of wood for missLuna, yesterday. When she had the wood delivered about a week ago, the guy dumped it across the road next to the barn because his truck is too big to drive around to the back of her house so I offered to move and stack it all for her in exchange for allowing me to leave my trailer here while I'm traveling. I could probably bring it to mr.Solar's in VT or back to the bunkhouse on mr.Finance's land, but I figured I'd explore leaving it here, first. She told me that she welcomes the help, but I can keep my trailer here for as long as I need to regardless if I move the wood. I did it anyways just so I know that I helped her out. My sample t-shirt should arrive any day. I was hoping I'd get it by now so if I liked the quality I could order more before leaving, but I might have to wait until I get back. I suppose I could pay extra and get them done faster, but not knowing where I'm headed when I get back I'm just going to be patient and take one thing at a time. I don't like spending extra money when I'm not working. Who knows. Maybe I'll comeback and liquidate everything, truck, trailer and tools. That would take the pressure off a little more.
I wanted to keep saving until winter so I wouldn't have to worry about money as much, but all I was doing was recovering from being in such an unpleasant work environment everyday and that's no way to live. That guy is running on 50% , if not less, along with a serious case of justified unhappiness and he probably doesn't even realize it. He tried to get into it with me when I gave my two weeks notice, but I refused to be baited. I did have to put him in his place once before leaving when he tried to imply that I had made a mistake loading one of our delivery trucks during a hectic morning when it was he who had given me the incorrect information. He didn't like that, but he quickly back-pedaled and apologized. I don't like having to do stuff like this, but I won't play head games with the people I work with. Considering the number of jobs I've had, my luck with employers has been pretty good. The last two farms I've worked on are places I'd be happy to work at, again, so it's encouraging to know that I should be able to find a similar job someplace else and get right back on track if I choose to stay in the US.
Called missButterfly, yesterday, and we're going to try to get together a couple times before I leave. She has that party she invited me to every month so she reminded me to come, again. Her and her friends started getting together on her land during the virus because they refused to let the media discourage their sense of community. And, she has a big canoe which will give us plenty of room for all four of us, her, the kids and myself, if we decide to go for a paddle in this nice late summer weather. Regardless if we get the chance, I'm glad I called to check in and see how she's doing.
September 4, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
It's unfortunate that stashing my backpack, cooler and paddle behind a building in the dark makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong even when I'm not, but I suppose the reason I feel the need to hide my things in the first place speaks to the same issue. Now's not the time to analyze the present human dilemma when it comes to the lack of trust in our society compounded with the absence of a universal value system, but I will be getting to this someday soon. It's only my life's work. At the moment, I had more immediate concerns like how I was going to get from the small dock on the Connecticut River near the rte.9 overpass in Hadley where I just tied up and back to the South Deerfield park and ride 20 miles away at 10 o'clock on a Sunday night.
Took over an hour to find an uber, gave him a fat tip because he was having a frustrating night, drove my truck back to Hadley, loaded the kayak and my stuff, picked up my mountain bike I left by the river in Sunderland where I put in and made it home by 2am. The original plan was to walk into Northampton when I arrived at the dock. It was only a mile or so and it was Labor Day weekend so I figured the town would be jumping, grab a beer after my 14 mile paddle, walk back out later, camp somewhere along the river then catch the commuter bus to the park and ride in the morning, but Northampton was a ghost town at 10pm. Nothing was open.
I got up earlier this morning than I would've liked, but I'll get some rest, tonight. As my time in this area comes to a close, I've been checking off my mini-bucket list before leaving. On Friday, I hit the Floodwater Brewery in Shelburne Falls which seemed like a cool place when I walked by it one afternoon earlier this summer then the Hatfield Pub in duh and finally ended up at the Miller's Pub. It was a pretty uneventful night other than the bartender at Floodwater stealing my heart.
A lot of female bar keeps tend to dress the part which is sometimes a little on the trashy side to garnish a lot of tips which is fair play. A girl's gotta make a living, but she didn't subscribe to this tactic. She still looked good, but in an understated way. Her aura was more suited to teaching a yoga class than serving mugs of beer. She didn't need to dress overly provocative to hold the attention of all the single men lined up at the bar or maybe some of them weren't single.
I was somewhat floored when she walked over to take my order. Yes, she was stunning, but it was her eyes. They were calm and attentive and went right through me as I stood there frozen for a second before almost busting out laughing -I've been doing that a lot lately. She could tell that I was trying to hold it in because her eyes were still waiting for mine once I pulled myself together. We stared at each other for what seemed like longer than normal each assessing what was happening in that moment, but I had to keep in mind that I was still just some chump off the street free to come and go as I please and she was a captive audience at work there to do a job and make some money. I'm not going to kid myself. She's not a bartender by accident. I'm sure she knows that she's very attractive. More power to her. If she throws a subtle flirtatious glance in some guy's direction once in a while, what's the harm? But, it wasn't flirtatious and it wasn't subtle. We were two deer in the headlights of one another. At least, that's what it felt like, but under those circumstances a guy has no way of knowing if a woman is actually interested or just using stripper eyes on him to keep him coming back. Again, I'm not judging her. Like I said, there's no harm in using what God gave you to make your way in the world especially if it's done in such a dignified way as hers.
I was starving and the first thing I asked her before even getting a beer was whether they served food, but they didn't.
She said, "I know. I'm hungry, too. There's a pizza place across the street. You're welcome to get some and bring it back here."
"I'll get us both some," I said and we both laughed politely, but I'm not sure she heard me.
The place was tiny and fairly crowded with a band playing. I still had to eat and there's plenty of carbs in a beer so I decided to grab one seeing as I was already there with a goddess standing in front of me. Then I'd walk across the street and grab some pizza and bring her back some. I didn't tell her this. I just got my beer, said "Thank you" like a dork with lots more eye contact and left my tip on the bar as she went to wait on someone else. Before I could finish my drink some guy walked in with two large pizza boxes and placed them on the bar. There goes that plan. Finished my beer and bounced. There were too many man-buns, children and old people in that place anyways. Plus, it closed at 9. I needed a place where I could jump around and break a sweat, but I have to admit that the band was really good, a little too soothing and mellow for my kind of a Friday night, but still very good and it was a nice little bar with a fireplace and a small deck in the back that overlooked the Deerfield River which was like a sheet of glass reflecting the Bridge of Flowers that crossed over the water into the other part of the small downtown area. "Desperado, why don't you come to your senses..."
Off to the Hatfield Pub I went four towns away, another place that I had on my list of spots to check out before I leave the area. There would definitely be a different kind of crowd in Hatfield. I drove by there every week when I delivered vegetables to the Western Mass Food Bank. When a bar has "Happy Birthday" followed by someone's name on it's marquee out front, it's usually a popular local spot. The place was packed, the jukebox was blaring, no dance floor and the youngest person in there had ten years on me, but God love 'em. I shot the sh*t with a guy at the bar wearing a Phish t-shirt for a few minutes and headed on down the road. I was still hungry and they didn't serve food either. The Miller's Pub would have to do. They make a mean burger.
I didn't even make it inside. I was still so wound up from those eyes in Shelburne Falls that I called mr.Music to leave a long rant about how lame I am so he could give me sh*t about it later, but he was home. He usually has gigs on the weekends, but he had a show on Thurs night and his next wasn't until Saturday. He, also, picked up a part-time job driving a van shuttling senior citizens around during the week. A guy's gotta make a living, too. Our conversations rarely last less than an hour so by the time we were done it was getting late and Miller's looked pretty dead inside when I walked up and looked in the window so I didn't have the heart to make them fire up the grill just for me. Rather than drive around looking for an opportunity to have a good time, creating my own is a better approach.
The river is calm as a lake. The sun is setting. The boat is floating along. It's warm enough that I only need a pair of shorts. I don't even need to paddle as the current carries me along like an outgoing tide. I rearrange a few things in the kayak so I can place my little work cooler in front of me and open it like one would a refrigerator after having just gone food shopping not sure what they feel like eating. The river is so big and the kayak is so small that I feel like I'm skating down the middle of an airport runway on rollerblades. Even a ridiculous life has its moments. I knew I wouldn't reach my destination until long after dark, but I didn't care. I wasn't going to spend Labor Day weekend lonely doing nothing while I listened to fireworks going off in the distance as people partied. I can always count on Mother Nature.
September 5, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
Today, I painted all the exposed metal on the trailer with POR-15, an industrial grade rust preventative that works bad ass, and painted all the galvanized metal with metallic gray rustoleum. Because I don't have a tall ladder, I drove the yukon up the field and parked it right alongside the trailer so I could stand on the roof and wash the high spots. Since I was up in the field without a hose, I filled one bucket with soapy water to wash it and another bucket of clear water with a big sponge to rinse it. This reminded me of when I washed my last trailer in Alaska in the middle of winter before selling it. The conditions and situation, today, are a lot more favorable.
I might sell this one, too, when I get back from Costa Rica. It's definitely served its purpose when I needed something in a hurry this summer, but the kid I bought it from wasn't as upfront as I thought he was. The axle had been replaced by the guy he bought it off of and the guy didn't do a very good job fastening it to the frame, but it was hard to see this because of the tall grass around it when I went to look at it so I bought some heavy metal stock this week, fabricated and installed four braces to attach the axle more securely to the frame. It's much sturdier, now, but I'd still prefer not to tow it across America which is most likely what I'm going to do when I get back so I'll sell it and get a newer smaller one. I'm thinking New Mexico or maybe Arizona or Utah, but who knows. This one has enough room to hold all my tools and belongings with a little extra room for me to live out of it, but that was because I had to make the most of the situation. Hopefully, my days of sacrificing comfort and basic amenities are over. If all I need is a trailer to store or move my things then I can get something smaller. It looks good all washed and painted.
September 9, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
The donkeys at capitalone mailed my new debit card to Marshfield which caused it to be forwarded to California even though I specifically called them weeks ago before they issued it to make sure they mailed it to my local address. The online process was a complete hassle. It takes all of ten minutes to walk in off the street to any bank and open an account in person, but it took over two weeks, more than 8 phone calls (I stopped counting) and hours online to open an account with those geniuses. They don't have any actual branches in Massachusetts or any state in New England for that matter. I think they might have one in New York. It was hard enough to reach and actual person to speak to on the phone and they definitely weren't in the U.S. so I closed my account, today. Completely incompetent and dysfunctional. It's not the people's fault I spoke with on the phone in some foreign country where English is not their first language. They're just trying to do their jobs working for a faceless corporation.
I called my credit union and told them I'd be traveling this week and they said I shouldn't incur any extra fees so that was nice to find out.
September 10, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
I got a voicemail from missButterfly on Wednesday around 9am asking if I wanted to go for a paddle that morning, but I didn't turn my phone on til noonish so it was a little after the fact when I called her back. Her daughter had an upset stomach so they didn't end up doing anything, but we did get to talk for a few minutes. At one point during the conversation, she reminded me that her monthly party was this weekend and mentioned that she hoped to see me before I left so I told her that I'd be there which honestly I was on the fence about. Except for a couple short conversations, I didn't feel like we'd gotten to know each other much better in the last month and I didn't want her to feel obligated to talk to me if I went. Parties can be pretty distracting when you're the one hosting them.
I think I got there around 7pm and it was fun to see a few of the folks I met from the time before. There weren't as many people probably because of all the rain we'd gotten earlier in the day that was still trickling down, but I tried to stay longer and hang out. Around 10pm, it was just a bunch of dudes huddled under a lawn tent set up to keep the food on the tables dry while me and another guy hung out by the fire and kept it going. That's it. Everyone else had left. There were no kids running around like before or any other women there at this point except for missButterfly who was in the house putting hers to bed. I felt like I was the member of a pack of coyotes hanging around outside a house where a cocker spaniel in heat lived. It was time to go. Said fairwell to my buddy by the fire and poked my head in the ground floor of the house to say goodbye to missButterfly, but it was very quiet as I stood at the bottom of the stairs and I wasn't going to interrupt the bedtime proceedings so I headed down the driveway.
Before I was halfway home, I realized that I'd forgotten my bag. I had brought a strawberry pie and a 4 pack of beer, which I barely finished one of, then stuffed the bag under a table to keep it out of the rain. I contemplated whether 3 beers and a trader joe's bag was worth turning around for. Take it from someone who's packed up and hit the road on many, many long journeys, it's not always the value of an item, but the clear-headedness that you're retrieving if you decide to go back, if you still can. Sometimes just pulling over and taking a moment to reorganize your things is all that's needed. You'll know once you've done this if that's the case. I'm a very thorough and organized person so when I forget something, it means my head wasn't 100% clear when I left. "Ugh" I said to myself as I pulled over and turned around. I knew exactly where it was which meant I could park on the section of the driveway below the house, run up, grab it and be gone which was what I did. As I was heading back to my truck, I heard a woman's voice same my name like a question. There was only one woman it could be so I turned around and walked back towards the fire to make sure I said "Good-bye" to missButterfly.
I explained that I tried to look for her before I left, but I figured she was three flights up with the kids. We said our good-bye's and she wished me well on my trip as we hugged. As she trailed off with what she was saying, we kept hugging and didn't let go. I guess it felt good to both of us. I didn't say a word, just held her. When we parted from our embrace, I calmly said with a smile, "It was good to see you" and turned to go. She said that she'd walk me to my car so we walked down the driveway in the dark. I threw my bag on the passenger seat of the truck and turned around to say good-bye, again. We both laughed a little and she asked for a kiss. It didn't take long for the skirt she was wearing to be up around her waist with her ass in my hands as she wrapped her legs around me. We were naked in my truck within minutes.
So that happened. For the past month, I wasn't even sure she liked me. I'm still not really sure, but she saw her opportunity and took it. From what she shared with me, I understood where she was coming from. She wasn't sure what she was looking for at this point in her life, but she saw me as a perfect way to test the waters seeing as I was leaving in two days. I jokingly told her that I was happy to help, but it did catch me a little off guard. I like to take my time and enjoy things more, but under the circumstances I just went with it. At one point, she said that she could lie there all night with me. I would have loved that, but I didn't want to keep her. I knew she probably felt like she should get back up to the house so she'd be in ear shot of her children. Before we tore each other's clothes off and dove into the yukon, she asked if I wanted to go up to the house with her, but we never made it that far. Plus, we would've had to conspicuously walk by all the guys hanging out in the driveway who she's friends with. The truck was a little less comfortable, but much more convenient. It's got plenty of room in it and I keep a little mattress stored away in the back for when I'm car camping, but I never got the chance to rearrange things and make more space. It all happened pretty fast so I just made the best of it.
I confessed as we lay there together talking afterwards that this part was just as fun as the sex. I, also, acknowledged that tomorrow and the following days, I'd probably regret not filling every second we had with more sex, but at that moment I was just savoring getting to lie there with her and have an actual conversation with someone which are things I probably should've been embarrassed to admit, but they're not a reflection of me as they are of the path I'm on.
September 11, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
Drove the yukon up the field to the trailer, again, hooked on and spun it around so it would be ready to roll when I get back in case there's snow on the ground. MissLuna said I could leave it here all winter if I wanted. Spent the day packing up the trailer and finalizing what I was bringing in my backpack. I've been storing a bunch of stuff outside like my wheelbarrow, mountain bike, bike trailer, left over plywood, lumber, etc., but I wanted the place to look neat and tidy while I'm gone. I called missButterfly when I was done. She had mentioned that the best time to talk was after 9pm once her kids are in bed so I waited until then, but they were still up watching a movie and her 10yr old daughter answered. I told her that her mum could talk to me, now, or call me after the movie if she wanted, but her daughter told me that her mother said that she'd just call me in the morning. Unfortunately, I was leaving that night. I had a bunch of stuff to do in the Boston area, tomorrow, before hopping on the plane first thing Tuesday morning, but I wanted to make sure I gave missButterfly a chance to see me, again, if she wanted to before I left. I guess she didn't. So that was that. It didn't feel good, but I headed down the road.
September 12, 2023, Dedham, Massachusetts
Before hopping on the plane in the morning, I decided to see how far the city of San Jose was from the airport. Sometimes when you fly into a major city, the airport itself is actually way out on the outskirts and I was considering getting a hotel room, which is a rarity for me, so I wanted to see how far I'd have to walk or take a bus to find one. I made sure I'd be arriving during the day, 1pm, so I'd have plenty of time to assess my options when I got there. I'd most likely rough it. This isn't a vacation for me even though most people who know I'm going probably think that it is. This is a fact finding mission to see and learn about another culture where people might not be totally consumed with making money at all costs including their souls and the planet. And, it's, also, an opportunity to clear my head by drastically changing my environment so I can take a fresh look at myself and my situation.
Anyways, I figured I might as well learn a little more about the surrounding area just in case getting a room was the smarter option seeing as everything is so much cheaper there. This is when I discovered that the airlines was sending me to San Jose, California not San Jose, Costa Rica. I immediately called the travel website I used to purchase my ticket. The first person I spoke to suggested that I fly to California then buy another ticket to Costa Rica when I got there. This is what I get for using a 3rd party website rather than the actual airlines. Even though I travel a lot, I've driven to more places than I've flown so I'm not as informed on how to make sure I get dealt with fairly regarding flying. I'd rather walk. The next 24hrs would be a crash course in this education -no pun intended. After being offered a new flight out of Boston for over $1,000, it was clear that they were not going to be helpful. Unfortunately for them, I don't roll over that easy. After a day and a half and over 7hrs on the phone, I got a full refund. The best they were willing to do was offer me a flight for $450 which I talked them down from $750, but I'd still have to lose the money I already paid for my original "non-refundable" ticket. The best that they were unwilling to do was to give me all my money back which is what they finally did. Even after I got my refund, they kept trying to get me to take a new flight for around $500 saying this was the lowest I was going to find for the rest of the month, but I told them I'd look for a new flight myself. The dishonesty I encountered in talking with some of the representatives for the company I originally used or for some of the other ota's (online travel agencies) was enough to turn a person's stomach. One company called Trust Fare of all things would post a price, but when you went to book it, the price would jump up to over $100 more so I called them to book it over the phone so I could hold them to the initial price, but the representative said that fare was no longer available because they change so quickly and the website just didn't have a chance to update which it would in a few minutes so I waited a half an hour, refreshed the page, got a new low price and called them again. Same answer. Not exactly trustworthy. Using google flights which I learned is way better than all the ota's, I found a flight with American Airlines, the same airlines my original ticket was with, for $350 that leaves on Tuesday. Only about a hundred bucks more than what I paid 3wks ago which is still a really good deal and it's given me a chance to catch up on some writing.
I never heard from missButterfly in the morning so it's good that I didn't hang around western Mass. I got a voicemail from her around noon, but I was a little busy with my travel arrangements so I called her back after 9 and we spoke for a few minutes. She said that she hadn't told her daughter to tell me that she'd call me in the morning when I called last night, but I wasn't sure what to make of that so I just left it alone. We didn't talk very long and said our good-byes, again. During our conversation, it did come to light that I'd unexpectedly be around for a few more days, but neither of us dwelt on this point. I think I served a particular purpose for her and nothing more. Maybe because I'm so care free in her eyes and never made any demands on her, this allowed her to ask for what she wanted. Who knows? I could have definitely been more of a friend if she wanted, but she clearly has plenty of those. I just think she would have been surprised if we'd gotten a chance to get to know each other better, but she's been through a lot and I shouldn't speculate. I just hope she's ok. Another learning experience for me. On a side note, as fast as it all happened, it was refreshing to meet someone who, also, thought it was a good idea to have "the talk" before things went all the way which we managed to do beforehand standing there in the dark so that was nice. A lot better than giving myself a $50 home test in the parking lot of a motel 6 in Santa Barbara on Valentine's Day while someone who could care less waited inside. "Here I go, again, on my own..."
September 22, 2023, Tamarindo, Costa Rica
A moment to rest and regroup. It's Friday and I landed late Tuesday.
Camped in the rough city of Alajuela (where the airport is located) that first night.
Spent Wednesday in San Jose which is a bigger city and pretty rough, too.
Thursday morning, I caught a 5hr bus ride for the coast and camped in the talll grass just off the beach out of sight down the shoreline from all the hotels, beach clubs and restaurants.
Decided to get a room, today.
I was sitting in the sand under the hot sun this morning a few feet from the waves and a few yards from my hidden campsite considering a number of different options as to where to head to next researching them with my phone in between jumping in the ocean to "cool" off. When it's 90 degrees out and the ocean water is in the 80's it feels somewhat cooling, but when the clouds roll in and the rain comes down bringing the air temperature with it to the 70's, it has the opposite effect. I stayed in the ocean to keep warm, last night, until the rain let up enough to set up my tent.
There's plenty more to recap and work through, but time has been of the essence since I set foot on this land. The same pressure that works on people back home is just as present here. Different scenery, same game. Of course, there are a few small differences, but like I acknowledged the other day, running around looking for something to find isn't as reliable or effective is making my own plan and implementing it whether it's just a kayak camping trip or a life statement. I just like to be thorough and check out places I had a feeling about.
September 23, 2023, Tamarindo, Costa Rica
It's around 11:30pm and we've been standing on the corner for close to an hour by now among the crowded commotion in the streets of a tropical party city where it seems like it's mardi gras every night. We, technically I had to include myself, were waiting for their drug dealer to come back. I'd met these guys at the hostel where I was staying when I came down from my room in the early evening to check with the desk person on how to get back in through the security gate after 11pm. Everything has a big fence around it in Costa Rica even the smallest rinky dink shack. Everything. The nicer places have barbwire along the top of their fences. The guy working the desk who I'm going to call mr.Brazil because duh offered to put my name on the guest list of a very popular club in Tamarindo so I could get in without having to stand in the long line and drink for free. I said "Sure, if it's no trouble."
A couple hours later when I was ready to go out and look for a fun place to dance, mr.Brazil and a bunch of other people were sitting up on the patio drinking and playing games when I walked through the courtyard so I walked over and joined them. The tan woman in a beach skirt and a bikini top who turned out to be the hostel manager insisted I do a shot with her so I acquiesced after first trying to explain what a lightweight I am, these days. The friendly group of young Germans who I'd, also, met earlier were playing some type of drinking game at a table to my left. Once the whole group of us stood in a big circle on the patio dancing, we finally decided it was time to venture out. By then, I had learned everyone's name and sadly was the only dummie who didn't speak more than one language which was one additional reason why Costa Rica had been my destination of choice so I could immerse myself in Spanish and hope a little would rub off. I took French in junior high so I could probably get by in a French speaking country if I had. I just wish I'd taken Spanish. I've picked up a tiny bit from folks I've worked with over the years on farms and other jobs, but not nearly enough. We made a pit stop in the center of town when mr.Brazil and missAustria, a tall young blonde, had disappeared "to pick up a few things." While we were waiting for them, my other three fellow hostelers made a deal of their own with some other "vendor." The young Germans had already kept walking. The convenience of the small coastal tourist town was that you could walk everywhere if you wanted even though cab drivers swarmed the streets barking out "Taxi! Taxi!" at you as you walked by. It wasn't like their cars had little yellow signs on the roofs. They just had regular cars and were willing to drive you anywhere for a price.
It's funny. As me and mr.France talked about spirituality on the street corner which is something I don't usually talk about in that type of situation, but he asked, as mr.Switzerland half-listened to our conversation while at the same time checking out the girls walking by some still dressed in the mandatory bikini thong that seems to be the required beach attire, I could tell that mr.France was less interested in expanding his concept on the subject as I tried to explain that it's more a matter of listening to your instincts which manifest themselves as a feeling in your torso rather than a thought in your head than he was in debunking this naive American's belief in something so far-fetched. I'm fine with being considered naive. It's a deliberate choice, not to mention has allowed me to slide through many sticky situations when someone who could be seen as more of a threat may have not. No harm, no foul. I was just psyched to be out and socializing. When Toby, I never learned where he was from, came back from looking for the other two and suggested we move across the street to the opposite corner, I got a feeling that it was time for me to bounce and told the guys I'd see them at the Crazy Monkey. I wasn't interested in the drugs they were waiting for and there was still no sign of mr.Brazil and missAustria. I wasn't going to waste the fact that it was a rare night when I had permission to be somewhere and a comfortable bed to sleep in.
To my pleasant surprise, I was on the guest list and got in for free easily. The line on the giant staircase outside the place like it was some type of medieval pyramid wasn't too long so I just waited like everyone else though I did have to turn in my small jack-knife which I forgot was clipped to my right pocket. It's always clipped to my right pocket. No self-respecting farmboy doesn't have one. How else are you going to quickly cut open a bale of hay, bag of feed or box of parts? The place was big perched on the side of a small mountain over looking the Pacific Ocean. Half of it was mobbed, but the other side you could still walk around in and I found one of the many bars and grabbed a beer. Paid for it. I think only the hard liquor was free, but I didn't care. One beer was all I wanted. That shot of cachaca, a Brazilian rum like alcohol made from sugar cane, had most likely warn off by now, but I didn't need to get stupid. Grabbed my Imperial, the Budweiser of Costa Rica, and hit the dance floor. There was a giant swimming pool in the middle of the club, but it had those stanchion ropes like you'd find in a bank around it to keep the night-goers from jumping in.
As I made my way through the crowd to find a little spot to carve out for myself, I bumped into mr.Brazil, miss.Austria and the group of young Germans. We all laughed and high-fived each other. I guess trusting my instincts wasn't a bad idea. I kept moving though. MissAustria was bent over with her ass in the crotch of one of the Germans and his girlfriend seemed to be trying not to let it bother her, but what do I know? Maybe she was fine with it. None of my business. Everyone's got their own definition of fun. Mine was to dance my butt off where no one would have a problem with it, if not join me. It took a little effort. The place was packed, but I found a good spot and had some fun. House music can get a little monotonous after a while and that's all they were playing so I began to lose interest after 45 minutes or so and rolled out of there. The girl midway up the long wide staircase collecting the cover charge as the security guards patted down people before they ascended the remaining stairs to the club handed me my jack-knife before I even asked for it and I bounced down the steps of the great and powerful crazy monkey to continue on with my night. Poked around a little more among the bars and clubs to find somewhere else to have fun, but by then all the places with music were so crowded that once you got in you could barely move. I didn't really want to call it a night yet, but I was cool with it. I had nothing to prove and wasn't looking for any quick fixes. Took a relaxing swim in the pool back at the hostel and called it a night. To my surprise, everyone was back already except the guys I left on the corner, but there seemed to be a little drama in the air so I headed up to my room and crashed. I had to be up fairly early to catch the bus out of town to a completely different part of the country.
September 25, 2023, Alajuela, Costa Rica
The bus never showed. A local taxi driver standing beside me all morning waiting for a new crop of customers to get dropped off told me in Spanish that it no longer ran. Yup, I know what "No Mas" means. This costed me a day because the next bus wasn't until 3pm which would put me at my eventual destination after dark and I can't assess an area and find a camping spot effectively if I can't see my surroundings. The homeless guy who woke me up Tuesday night near the airport reminded me of this. Truth is I hadn't forgotten. I never deliberately show up somewhere after dark if I'm planning on roughing it, but after my flight got changed combined with how much I'd heard about what a friendly and laid back place Costa Rica is under the circumstances I thought I'd test the waters. Not so much.
I wouldn't have enough time to make it to the La Fortuna waterfall like I hoped and back to Alajuela on Tuesday morning to catch my flight if I hung around another day and caught an earlier bus the next morning. Oh well, so my new plan was to say "Frig it" and pick a random town in the middle of no where away from all the tourist spots and head there instead. Flying to a foreign country where I've never been, don't speak the language and have no accommodations lined up may have influenced me to stay in more traveled to areas, at first, but I know this wouldn't give me an accurate representation of how normal people live here and this is more important to me than anything else. I'm pretty good at looking at a map and telling how big or small a town is so I picked somewhere that would be on a regular bus schedule out of San Jose, but still get me to a remote area on the other side of a giant rainforest north of the country's capital so that's what I did. It was one of the best decisions I made all week.
As I left the small Cruce Rio Frio bus depot after filling my belly with something fried triangular and full of rice, chicken and cheese, I think, then following it up with a chocolate chip ice cream cone, I just started walking. My pack is over 60lbs, but it felt like I was floating. Except for a few buildings and houses loosely clustered near the depot, all that was in front of me was a road with trees, fields and forests on both sides. It was late afternoon so I had plenty of light left to get somewhere with more nature and less people and this is what I needed. It doesn't matter what country you're in, we're all dealing with the same corruption. Even when I was trying to figure out the bus schedules and how to buy my ticket at the crowded and hectic station in San Jose, I was calm and clear-headed because I was around regular working class people, my kind of people, just trying to live their lives instead of mindless tourists I had been surrounded by for the last couple days only interested in one thing, consumption in all its forms. At one point, I passed a dirt turn out where a small truck was parked with the driver's side door open and a coatis, an animal I've never seen before, begging the driver for food. It squeaked and curled its little snout looking like an anteater crossed with a raccoon.
After I dipped out of sight further down the road when no cars were passing by and found a camping spot for the night, I couldn't believe I had cell reception. I've been keeping my phone in airplane mode most of the time so the battery wouldn't go dead by constantly trying to find a signal because reception had been pretty intermittent in most areas except the major cities, but my little solar panel has done a great job of keeping it topped off this whole time. Comfortably tucked into my small one person tent which I only recently bought in Boston the day before I left, I probably spent over an hour reading on my phone about all the different types of animals that could kill me in Costa Rica from snakes to panthers to crocodiles. The only one I didn't have to worry about, tonight, was a bull shark. The creek that winded through the tall grass a few yards from my tent most likely wasn't big enough to provide crocodiles with enough water and swamp to live in so I could probably rule them out as well. Normally, I would have taken to the trees for the night like I eventually did on Tuesday in my suspended shelter that I designed and have been using for the past 20 years, but after reading about how many snakes live in trees down here I was glad I brought a little tent as a back up. Obviously, snakes spend plenty of time on the ground, too, but they have more of an advantage in trees. After the knowledge and reasonably positive experiences I gained working with large boas and pythons, both of which are native to Costa Rica, at a zoo in California years ago, I mentally convinced myself that I'd be fine where I was for the night and I was.
It's impressive how the human body can adapt without any deliberate mental effort. I didn't try to make myself do this or use an alarm clock, but I'd sleep for about an hour, wake up, listen to my surroundings for a few minutes then fall back asleep. It went on like this all night systematically. It wasn't my idea. It was my body's. It just decided that this was the best way to sleep under the circumstances. Once the sun was up in the morning, it was a whole different ball game and I could relax more and I think I grabbed a couple extra hours of rest. There was no rush to get out of there when I got up around 7. I had plenty of time, water and food. It's amazing how I've hardly gotten hungry all week. One little granola bar for a meal was all I needed to keep myself going as long as I had plenty of water which I always made sure I did. I unfolded my little solar panel and charged up my phone which only took about an hour. All morning, I enjoyed the songs of the oropendolas (those are birds) with their bright yellow tail feathers. Eventually, I packed up camp and covered the few miles, sorry km, back to the bus depot to make my way towards the airport in Alajuela.
Arrived in late afternoon there, too, found a suitable spot out of sight to set up camp near the airport, left my pack there and jogged back to the vacant lot where I'd been woken up by the homeless guy last week to grab my hockey bag which I stashed in the bushes before setting out to explore the country. My big back pack with its shoulder straps, hip belt, countless loops and webbing isn't ideal for airport baggage handlers to be tossing around. I figured to eliminate the chance of it getting caught on something or unclipped and popped open when being transferred from one plane to the next, I picked up a hockey bag at Play It Again Sports in Dedham before I left big enough to slip the whole pack inside making for a much more streamline piece of luggage. Being an ex-hockey player, I knew one would do the trick and it would fold up easliy and fit inside my pack when I was making my way to and from the airport. I just didn't want to carry it around with me all week.
September 27, 2023, Dedham, Massachusetts
Well, that was intense. I've been lying here all morning in my truck basking in perfection, not my perfection or some type of superficial perfection. Just a calm internal moment that has been rolling out before me like a blanket of water after a big wave crashes down on the sand which for me is simply the wake of surviving a recent challenge. Thank God I'm an experienced traveler or that place might have chewed me up and spit me out...or maybe chewed me up and swallowed me down if I had run into a panther in the jungle when I camped on the outskirts of the huge rainforest. I figured I was safe because on the other side of me was a farm with Brahman cattle grazing in a big grassy field and the farmer probably wouldn't leave his livestock out if there was a major threat of large predators. Turns out I was luckier than I thought after talking to a friendly old man on the bus, the next morning, who mentioned how a rancher friend of his told him the other day that a puma killed one of his cows and dragged it under the guard rail right along the highway. Ooops. Still, unfortunately for the cattle, a puma if one had been in my area that night would still pick one of them over me. Had it decided to try it's luck with a human rather than a cow, it may have gotten me, but it would have had to work a lot harder for dinner that night with a jack knife in my pocket, pepper spray in the other pocket and a big machete by my side, but predators aren't dumb. They try to conserve their energy when at all possible which is why they pick prey to hunt, not other predators.
October 5, 2023, Springfield, Vermont
Took a few dead trees down for firewood this morning. Mr.Solar already has enough for this winter so once I've cut the logs into rounds and split them, they can go into the pile for next year. I admire it when a person is that on top of things especially seeing as it's all been harvested from his property. I was eager to get out of the city, but I stuck around to help my cousin this weekend. We got up at 3am, put his boat in around 4 and motored through Boston Harbor in the dark to make it to the mooring before low tide at 7. We encountered a few obstacles which is to be expected, but by the end of the day we'd gotten a lot done. He thanked me for going with him and I would have liked to stick around to work on it some more later in the week, but I've got some decisions to make and being in limbo in such a crowded hectic area with no home base is not the place to make them. Plus, I still wanted to head up to Vermont to thank mr.Solar for helping me with missButterfly's power inverter this summer by doing a little work for him. I think better when I'm being productive.
I've still got a little money left to relocate with which would probably be best used by eliminating the onset of winter and the grueling temperatures that come with it in this part of the country. When considering where I should head specifically, the idea that seems to stand out the most is the one regarding creating my own momentum rather than looking for something or someone outside myself to feed off of. When I state it this clearly, I feel awful for even looking outside myself, but to be fair, I haven't been looking for any type of sweet deal or instant gratification. I've had plenty of chances at stuff like that in my life which I've always passed on because sweet deals aren't sustainable. They're short lived and never what they claim to be. I've only wanted to find a place where I can get a fair deal, someplace where the circumstances, the human-made circumstances, aren't constantly working against people. This is what living so minimalistically all these years has allowed me to continue to look for. I bust my butt somewhere long enough to save up a little money which then gives me the time and opportunity to hit the road and check out a new place, but there will always be a new place to check out. I didn't find it on my last trip although I did get to bask in the ocean at tropical beaches. I have to accept that even if a person can live a simple and modest life somewhere without having to sell their soul in the process, I haven't found it. Short of disappearing into the wilderness never to be seen, again, I think I'm just going to have to suck it up and make the most of whatever I can find that's not too bad, for now, until I can accomplish my most immediate goals. Once this is done, I can think about finding or creating such a place.
Part of me believes that once I finish the book and get it out into the world, I'll meet my tribe and find my forever home because then they'll be able to read what I'm about and recognize me as someone they want as part of their group, but thinking this way puts a condition on my happiness and well-being. Once I achieve something, I'll be worthy of belonging. It's the old "means to ends" quandary. On the flipside, another part of me thinks maybe I should focus on finding my forever home, first, and let finishing the book emulate what I've found, but this goes back to what I just said about not looking for something outside myself. I should create my own opportunities which is what I've always done. I guess lately the solitary road chipped away at me enough to make me look outward for relief which is only reasonable. I'm human, but even though I'm more alone than I've ever been, I, now, have less factors in my personal life bringing me down. I'm going to work up here in the woods for a couple days and consider my options.
October 8, 2023, Greenfield, Massachusetts
For the past few days, I've been using all the places I used to park when I arrived out here this summer to start my most recent farming gig. I wasn't parked at a rest area between here in Vermont much more than an hour on Tuesday, but during that time two different creepy dudes rolled up on me. I almost kicked the mirror off one of their trucks. He had the whole parking area to use, but he had to park right beside me then he gets out of his truck, walks right in front of mine making sure he makes deliberate eye contact with me. There's no reason for him to walk past me. There's no place to walk to, no bathrooms or vending machines and I was parked at the farthest very first spot so no one can park next to me at least on one side. He wandered off into the woods then came back and did the same thing. I thought he'd finally given up as he slowly pulled out rolling very close to my bumper. I never looked up, but I could feel him staring at me. As he pulled down the on-ramp towards the freeway still going incredibly slow, he then stopped, backed up the on ramp until he was right behind my truck, again, rolled down his window and asked me about my license plate. I have out of state plates. Without looking at him, I yelled, "Get the fuck away from me, you fucking creep!!" He drove off. The next guy did the same thing without the backing up his truck part. He just kept walking past my windshield staring at me. I yelled at him, too, and he left. It was broad daylight, like 2 in the afternoon, and I just pulled in to get some writing done on my way to Vermont. Wtf. During that time, there were some normal people who stopped to walk their dogs or let their kids run around using the rest stop for what it's intended for.
The pressure of the system has a way of infiltrating a person's life and it's causing me to feel anxious. This is what it does to everyone whether they realize it or not. For me, it's mostly because I have no place to take a break and regroup. I had to get out of the crowded city, but that wasn't the only reason I was eager to leave. I grew up under an air of judgement and it's still very present where my extended family lives. I'm a welcomed guest there, but they don't really know me so it's not wise to stay too long. Small talk will only buy you a day or so. Judgement is always waiting in the wings. My trailer is at missLuna's, but she feels the pressure, too, so I'm trying to come up with a solid plan before I go back there. She's made plenty of comments about being short on money since I met her this summer which is why I gave her a little more than she asked when I started renting the field where my trailer is parked, but I was hoping to take off as soon as I got back from my trip so I wouldn't have to pay for another month.
My visit to Vermont was productive and I was glad to get some work done for them, far more than they'd ever ask of me, but they drink too much and I don't like being around that, not to mention the drama that usually ensues. The other night, I had to sit there as they argued about me like I wasn't even in the room each trying to get the other to act a certain way towards me. They view me as calm, cool and collected which almost seems to make them nervous. Both he and his wife want me to live there, but their passive aggressive attempts to control one another regarding me are very uncomfortable to be around. I went up there to repay mr.Solar for his help, but, also, to feel out whether moving to their land could be an option. I was going to offer to build them a cabin this fall which would give me a place to live for the winter while I finish the book and get the ball rolling promoting it. Then they'd have a place to offer prospective new members for their community once I hit the road in the spring to promote my book which is one of the major reasons why they haven't found anyone yet. There's no place for new members to live, but, unfortunately, after two days I'd seen enough. They have a beautiful home which is completely off the grid though you'd never know it to look at it. I have a lot of respect for mr.Solar for being a self-made man who started his own business and ran it for over 35 years enabling them to create their own little piece of paradise hidden in the woods. I made sure I told him this. Most places that have wanted me to join them have gotten their money by other means which I don't have as much respect for.
I even got an email out of the blue last week from my friend who bought 50 acres in northern Vermont. She wanted to apologize for how things went down last summer when I went up there. I thanked her and assured her that there were no hard feelings. I knew that MissIsreal had already left not long after I did, but my friend, also, told me that she'd recently gotten rid of mr.Poncho who apparently was under-minding her plans for the place and that she was more aligned with my vision and wants me to come back up and give it another try. Unfortunately, I just don't relate to people who haven't worked for what they have. She doesn't have to. She gets a fat check every month from a workman's comp settlement she received years ago.
Paying for another month at missLuna's is not the end of the world. I already mentioned that I was considering this and she was reluctant to accept, but I know she was just acting that way to be polite and can use the money. I want to make my plan when I'm riding high or, at least, calm and clear-headed, not when I'm feeling anxious. Whatever state you're in when you make a decision is the state the decision will perpetuate. Maybe I should go by and grab the kayak. Being on the water always makes me feel good. The real issue is freedom. What I've been thinking the most about is to grab my backpack and just start walking like I did in Costa Rica, but like I mentioned more than once recently quick fixes and instant gratification are not viable solutions and this is what taking off on foot would be for me as grueling and completely impractical as it may seem to anyone else. I love the simplicity, the physical demand and being surrounded by nature every night. I can disappear into the woods and just be. There's no pressure there to work for this corrupt system in order to simply be alive on the planet. The alternative that 90% of the people in this country must resort to is to find an apartment or house to live in and work full time in order to barely pay for it. I'd never have any time to work on my book not to mention I'd still be alone. At least, now, I'm alone, but free. Being alone and trapped would probably kill me. I can't tell you how many times I said to myself this summer, "Thank God I never got an apartment." I would have been broke all the time and would've had to pick up more hours working somewhere I hate. Thank God.
Regardless of what I decide, all options leave me with the same obstacle which is that I don't feel good about the enclosed trailer that I presently have all my stuff stored in. Even if I leave it where it is and throw missLuna a little money, I should get a different one. With the work I did to it, it's fine if I'm going to stay reasonably local, but I don't want to haul it anywhere far and whatever I own must be able to travel as far as I need it to. It needs to be rock solid. I could whittle everything I have down to fit into the back of the yukon (I've taken all the seats out at this point), but there's a subtle feeling lingering deep down that seems to be warning me that getting rid of everything except for a few bins of sentimental possessions would be self-sabotaging towards my own survival. I'm not sure if it's a message that I should heed or a fear that I should face. Getting rid of everything would definitely be liberating. On the flip side, I have to remind myself that doing it my way has got me here and here is not where I want to be. Keeping enough tools and building materials is what I've always done and it's kept me fighting this fight where the odds and circumstances are completely stacked against me, yet I've somehow managed to survive, but that's all I've done, barely survived. If it were not for my luck of the draw regarding my health, I never would have made it this far, but I'm not going to live forever and rolling the dice relying on my freakish youthfulness is not a good plan. As much as I've lived like him, I'm not Peter Pan. I whole-heartedly believe in the path that I'm on, but time and the soul-crushing system will eventually catch up with me. Even if it takes a very long time, all I will have accomplished is preserving my integrity while making countless sacrifices and living like no one should. What's the point in that?
Getting a smaller trailer, super organizing it, tuning up the truck and hitting the road seems like a good plan. I've been looking at jobs with state and national parks services out west. Other than farming or fishing, I've always thought a job like that would be a good gig for me. I even found a few that looked interesting that I'm confident I could land, but like I've already acknowledged this would simply be a continuation of how I've already been living for as long as I can remember. Same ol'struggle, different setting. Yes, it would be quiet and peaceful in some remote place out in the wilderness, but after the novelty wore off, I'd be right back where I've always been fighting the same old battle alone trying to make ends meet. I need to make a change.
I spoke with mr.Model the other day. He just got back from Portugal which he fell in love with. He mentioned buying land a little, but he's not pushing the subject as hard as he used to. I'm just scared to partner up with him because we couldn't be anymore different in how we've lived and what we've relied on, but that would definitely be a change. I could do for him what I was going to offer mr.Solar. Frig it. I'll call mr.Model, tomorrow, and ask him to send me a link to the real estate websites he's been using to look at land, again. He already sent me some this summer, but I never checked them out. I needed to build up my resources first by finding a job and saving some money so I wouldn't be soley dependent on the success of whatever he and I try to do. I know he'd prefer to buy land in Florida, but it's a little too crowded for me to want to live down there long term. I've already told him that I want to live on a lake in the mountains and he's said that he's fine with this. He told me that "If you like it, I'm sure I'll like it, too", but I won't know if he really means this unless I call him on it.
Spoke to mr.Music, yesterday, too. He just got back from Montana and San Diego with one of the bands he plays with. They opened for the Foo Fighters and Eddie Vedder at the Ohana Festival. I told him that I was proud of him. He's come a long way for a brother from the projects. He and the bass player from Pearl Jam who started the band he's now playing for got along great and mr.Music admired how down to earth the guy is even though he's stinking rich. We talked about how unacceptable it is that he and I are still busting are asses to make ends meet. We're an invaluable asset to every company that hires us, but we've got just as much talent, intelligence and work ethic, if not more, than the people we work for. Why aren't we signing are own checks? He has a point, but he and I have lived very different lives, too. He's always lived in a house or an apartment like a normal person and makes crazy bank when he's working in show biz. The writers strike has just put him temporarily out of work and he's not afraid to get a real job in the meantime so he's working for a senior citizen home while gigging at night and on the weekends. I'd be more comfortable joining forces with him because we have similar work ethics, but he's a city boy and I don't think I could get him to relocate to the country. The other difference is that he belongs to a family that he'd be reluctant to leave. He's single like me with no kids, but he's very close with his mother, sister and niece. They go on vacations together and he wants to buy them a house someday, a duplex. He'll live on one side and they can live on the other. I don't see him moving to the mountains with me and mr.Model. Mr.Model won't be there much either. He still wants to live his jet set lifestyle, but, also, wants a place to call "home" immersed in nature to meditate and host retreats whenever he feels like it. That's fine with me if I get to pick the place. I wish they were still friends, but I haven't managed to get them together so we could all talk. I haven't given up on this, but I'll be much more effective if I'm not preoccupied with mere survival. All I need is a place to stand where I have permission to be.
Well, it looks like I've just talked myself into a tentative plan. Ugh, I'm so apprehensive because I'm worried that he and I are not a good match. I can already hear mr.Producer out in LA laughing at me, but I'm done always being alone. Mr.Model and I have been friends for a long time even if we are very different. If friends can't get along well enough to work together, how can I expect the rest of the world to? At least, I'll be able to create my own momentum because I'm going to have to do a lot of work to create a natural off the grid sanctuary for us to live which is fine by me. I just have to remember that no one can handle me and I can't expect anyone to. I have to handle myself which means giving all this energy something physical, productive and worthwhile to do.
October 10, 2023, Greenfield, Massachusetts
I ended up just texting mr.Model rather than calling. I didn't want to get into a super long conversation. I just wanted to let him know that I was in. After I sent the text, I started laughing so that's a good sign. We exchanged a few more messages back and forth and he sounded pretty psyched. After a couple emails as well, I had a list of websites to use and a parcel of land that he was already interested in to check out.
Still haven't made it back to the field. There's not much cell reception over there and I'm going to need it to find a decent enclosed trailer and to look at land so I'm still roughing it in the Greenfield area. I've never been to the library here, but I might check it out, tomorrow, so I can use my laptop rather than my phone. It was a little chilly, last night, but luckily I have my sleeping bag with me so I was fine and with all the back seats removed there's plenty of room. I was starting to feel grubby and with fall underway, I won't be jumping in any more rivers this year so I took a cowboy bath, this afternoon, which is similar to a whore shower, but I hate that expression. I always have two gallons of water in the truck, one for drinking and one for washing. I buy spring water at the grocery store to drink and keep the other jug filled from the melted ice in my cooler. #MLR. I can wash my whole body, my hair and shave with one gallon. I don't care if it's crazy. I feel 100% better when I'm done. Cranked the heat in the truck to warm me up afterwards.
October 15, 2023, Montague, Massachusetts
I've spent the last couple of days looking at enclosed trailers, extra long trailer frames and land in different parts of the country. My brain is fried from spending so much time online. I'll most likely be leaving the northeast so despite my experience with the incompetent national online bank I tried using last month, I still need an account that I can have access to in other parts of the country so I found a different bank and took care of that in person, this week, too. I haven't been able to determine the best way to move forward regarding whether I should continue to fly under the radar with an inconspicuous enclosed trailer or go in the complete opposite direction by building myself a super cool mini-homestead on wheels. I'm tired of not having a nice kitchen to cook meals in so the idea I've had for my next tiny house is still very enticing to me. As I've mentioned countless times, this blog is not for the entertainment of others. It's a sounding board for me when I have no one to talk to so that's what I'm going to keep using it for in order to arrive at the best decision.
On a completely different subject, the hopeless romantic in me has thought plenty about missButterfly and whether I should contact her now that I'm back in the area. As brief as our conversation was before I left for Costa Rica, I'm pretty sure I remember her saying that I should let her know when I get back in town, but I've been very hesitant to call because I don't want to lead her on or hurt her. I could never live with myself if I ever did that, but eventually I arrived at the decision that coming back, being here for a while and then leaving without contacting her wouldn't be a nice thing to do, either, so I called her on Thursday. After a couple of days of not hearing back from her, I accepted that I would rather be rejected by her than have her be rejected by me so I was glad that I called. Then she called me, yesterday. Her and her friends were having their monthly pot luck bonfire, last night, so she wanted to make sure she invited me. After a little more deliberation, I decided that going and being around people would be a good break from thinking about all the different options that have been bouncing around in my head.
I spent most of the night in the kitchen having a great conversation with a nice old man from Vermont who's a bee-keeper. They moved the pot luck indoors rather than out by the bonfire with the onset of fall. It was super cozy in the house with the giant mason stove going. I don't like calling him an "old man." He's a person, a kindred spirit, who just happens to be at a different location on the age spectrum as me. He's done his fair share of traveling and has had lots of adventures so we had fun swapping stories. Other than a nice hug at the top of the stairs when I first arrived, missButterfly and I kept our distance. Later in the night as things were winding down and some people were beginning to leave, we found ourselves outside standing by the fire beside one another which was nice for about a second then began to feel a little awkward because I'm not big on being fake, but it seemed pretty clear that I wasn't supposed to let anyone know that we were a little more than friends. Before heading back inside to put her kids to bed which was great to see all the young ones running around having a blast -there were lots this time, we quietly checked in with one another and I told her that I wouldn't disappear. There was still a handful of us around the fire including mr.Honey Man (that's what people call him) and my bonfire buddy from the previous parties so staying longer felt natural and unforced.
Fast forward to later in the night after everyone had left, we're sitting on the floor in the den having just finished putting away all of Firefly's legos. I had my sites on all the dishes on the dining room table next. I'll confess that doing something constructive and helpful puts me at ease and gives all the energy inside me something useful to do when ripping each other's clothes off in the middle of the kitchen didn't seem appropriate, but before tackling the dishes I picked up on the hint that she just wanted to sit on the carpet and see what happens. I scooted over so I could lean my back against the couch and pulled her into me and we just lied there talking curled up together. In hindsight, do I think I could have taken her right there on the floor? Maybe. Do I think she wanted me to? Maybe. I don't know, but with a slumber party one floor up and this being the first real chance we'd had to just sit and be with one another, I didn't go there. Ironically, I was a little relieved when she admitted that she was short with me on the phone when we last spoke because she thought I was really into her and she didn't want to lead me on. I tried not to laugh. We enjoyed each other's company for a little while longer, but I told her that I didn't want to keep her up because it seemed like she might fall asleep so we said our good-bye's. This may sound corny or naive, but more than once during the night and this morning, I've asked her husband who passed away what he thought I should do regarding how to best be there for her. From everything I've heard about him, I think he and I would have been friends or, at the very least, had mutual respect for one another.
When someone passes away so tragically, a lot of times the situation left behind has a grey cloud over it where certain things aren't spoken about. I've certainly encountered these types of situations in my travels and in my own life like when my best friend passed away and I'd visit his parents or when I visit my mother's side of the family in Dedham though they never talk about her. Secrets are not good. They are prisons. They're actually a version of justified unhappiness . This is not the case at missButterfly's. As devastating as what happened is, there is a positive vibe and openness about her late husband from her and all her friends who loved him, and there are a lot. He is a welcomed and celebrated subject. This is something for us all to admire and learn from. Of course, there should always be a level of respect when touching on such a matter so, for me, this is another reason why nothing too physical happened between us, last night. Not in the home that he built. Not like that.
Stepping outside back into the dark and onto my tight rope across the Grand Canyon as I walked down the driveway to my truck and drove back to the property with no guarantee that I'll ever see her, again, I was hit with the reality that I have to remind myself that I matter, too, which may not be something that she's capable of conveying to me at this point. She still misses her husband a great deal which is understandable. I have to be careful and a little more proactive if anything else is going to happen between us from here on out. Before her friends left, it stung a little to hear them all talking about getting together for breakfast in the morning or making plans for later today knowing that I was not included in any of them. I'm not sure if I'd be welcomed, but unfortunately, I can't be anyone's secret either.
October 29, 2023, North Sunderland, Massachusetts
I just found a nice quiet spot to park a long the Connecticut River. I thought I'd found all the good spots in this area, but I looked on the map a few minutes ago having accepted that working outside all day like I had planned wasn't going to happen and found this place to do some writing. It's a little off the beaten path which makes it even nicer yet only a couple miles from the property. It's raining and I had a bunch of welding on my to-do list, but it's not wise to weld outside in wet conditions. I needed to write anyways. It's been too long even if it's been a deliberate choice. I was trying something different.
But first, a recap. Told mr.Model I'd join forces with him on some land, began the online search for suitable property and realized how time consuming this is, not to mention how dishonest many real estate brokers are, bought a 26 foot trailer frame in northern Vermont and brought it down to the property in Montague to begin building my tiny house. Yup, I'm doing it. Feels great. Deliberated quite a bit about other options, but made the right choice. The proof is in how good I feel and how productive I've been. Oh yah, called missButterfly a couple days after spending time with her that night after her party and it went well. I didn't feel good about kissing and holding someone like we had then going on with our lives as if it never happened and needed to tell her this. She thanked me and agreed that it felt weird to her, too, but that she's not looking for a relationship. I agreed, as well, but I just had to make sure that she knew that she could call me if she ever needed or wanted to. I didn't want her thinking that I didn't care or that I go around making out with women then just forget about them. She said that she knew this about me, but appreciated me telling her. Maybe we'll hear from one another, again. Maybe we won't. Gave missLuna some money so that I can work on the new trailer at her place. She said that I didn't need to, but I insisted. I was hoping we'd become friends over the summer and though our interactions are very cordial and respectful, there's definitely a gap between us so it's best to make sure she's getting something out of our arrangement, too. She said that she believes in the path I've taken and wants to support this, but I can tell that she's often running at 50% or lower so I'm not taking any chances. Things can go south real quick when dealing with people on this level, but I will continue to try to bridge this gap when the opportunity arises. Heard from missFlowerchild out of the blue (got some texts) and an interesting thing happened.
She sent me a couple links to videos that she wanted me to watch and though I normally don't because they're often over an hour long, one of them was only 20 min. which is still long, but I decided to give it a try because I haven't talked to her in forever and appreciated her thinking of me. Some of the stuff that she sends me is pretty out there, even for me, but this one was very interesting. I had to cut through a lot of biblical references because I'm not into religion of any kind, but the information about the human body and how the pineal and pituitary glands affect our well-being was very useful. There was a lot of information in the video to absorb, but the take away idea for me was that if a person abstains from all technology and other worldly distractions for 2 1/2 days the christ oil or the sacred secretion which are just other names for the cerebral spinal fluid will be purified. I don't know how valid this is, but for only 2 1/2 days, I figured I'd give it a shot. By the first day, I was able to remember what life was like before the internet and smartphones. It was like I stepped out of an invisible circus tent that I was stuck in for years and could see the world clearly for the first time in a long time. Pretty cool. Made me even lonelier than I already was, but that's the truth. Deal with it. Don't run from it. So, this is what I've been doing and this is why I haven't been writing. If I write to fend off loneliness, am I only perpetuating it? I've just been sitting with it and it sucks, but it's been kicking my ass to do something about it. Now, I'm the one kicking ass. Still lonely af, but that's my reality.
Haven't decided if I'll stop all together, but life is sink or swim, right now, and I need to make something happen.
November 4, 2023, Dartmouth, Massachusetts
It's around 3 or 4 in the morning. I don't have a watch and my phone is off. I just woke up and can't fall back asleep so I decided rather than fight it I might as well try to do something productive with this restless energy. Uncovering layers of truth about life and ourselves is an interesting thing. Taking a break from technology has been beneficial beyond words. I know I've tried to minimize my use in the past, specifically my phone and watching movies on my laptop, and compared to a lot of people I don't use them very much, but when I would turn on my phone to make a call, find an address or send an email my mind would somehow justify deep diving on some random subject on the internet or my loneliness would push me to begin watching videos on youtube for an artificial fabrication of a social experience and the next thing I knew, or didn't know, I was no longer in the present moment. I was completely lost in my head like a junky searching for a fix that he will never get while sinking deeper and deeper. I've, also, realized that I tend to go to extremes so going cold turkey and keeping my phone off for days as profoundly healing as it's been is somewhat impractical when trying to stay in touch with people or interact with the world, not to mention that writing here even though it is a form of technology has helped me more than it's hurt me if I use it with discipline -and this is the key. Being disciplined about using technology allows it to be a tool that I use and not an addiction that uses me. Many people may not even know who they truly are because technology keeps them so much in their heads. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you are not your thoughts. That's your ego. You're not your ego. You are your heart, your soul, your spirit.
We are closer to who we truly are when we are children, but as we grow older and the world has more and more of an effect on us it teaches us how to not be ourselves then we spend the rest of our lives trying to compensate for this fact. I haven't owned a television in decades, but I was raised on t.v. At the time, I didn't realize what kind of an effect it was having on my mind. I'm sure my parents didn't think that it was bad for me. I played a lot of sports and spent a lot of time outside as well so I didn't watch much during the day, but at night it was a family ritual to watch tv either together or when my brother and I got older we were allowed to watch whatever we wanted by ourselves. There were three televisions in the house for a family of four. What I realized last week is that the majority of my phone use was a form of escapism. I used to tell myself that I was just taking a break from the grueling road that I was on, but what it had become was an attempt to completely escape my actual reality and this is not a solution. It's a problem. How can I better a situation if I'm not willing to exist in it? The situation and circumstances that I temporarily found myself in allowed me to pick up some bad habits in an attempt to survive those circumstances, but when I recently got myself out of that situation those bad habits came with me. Now, I feel like I've freed myself of them or, at least, living in the 80's, again.
My ability to remember even the simplest things has instantly comeback. Even driving here from western Mass, yesterday, I just looked at the road atlas on the passenger seat of my truck once and remembered which highways I needed to take. I was taking a short cut, a way I'd never driven before, to avoid traffic and find a more direct route to Dartmouth. I didn't need to look at my phone every 10 seconds to make sure I was going the right way while being completely unaware of the name of the road I was even on. I've never used the kind of gps that has a computerized voice which tells you which turns to take. I'd never do that, but if you think that kind of technology is making your life easier, be my guest, but the only thing you're really doing is underestimating the actual power of your mind. I will never allow my mental abilities to be damaged like they have in recent years. Using my brain for what it was naturally designed to do by Mother Nature, not a failing artificial system, is something that I will never allow to be put in jeopardy, again. What my brain can naturally do better than any machine is far more valuable to me than what it can be tricked into doing by this machine we're living in.
Another realization I recently made is that maybe I don't just write for me. Maybe there are other lonely people out there. Maybe their loneliness is something that no one else knows they secretly struggle through day after day. Maybe it's waiting for them every single morning when they wake up, too. I can't be there physically for anyone and maybe I can't write for them either like some form of contrived obligation to an imaginary stranger, but by fighting mine with healthy tools maybe this could help others feel less alone if these words ever find them. Maybe these are my people. It doesn't seem like I've found anywhere else to belong, yet.
Right now, I'm under my sleeping bag in the back of my truck parked in a big empty parking lot except for a few other cars about a mile down the road from the school I graduated from. I took the 2 hour drive back here last night to see my two best friends from college who I will be having lunch with, tomorrow (later today actually), mr.Music and mr.Model. I'm not sure if they know that my secret motivation is to try to get them to be best friends, again, too, but that's why I'm here. I know you can't force something like that, but I have to know that I, at least, did what I could. The three of us made a pack a long time ago just before we got out of school and went off on our separate paths in life to always help one another if we could. When they had their falling out a couple years ago, I was too deep into the negative situation that I'd become trapped in that I was no use to anyone. Now that I'm no longer in that situation and more myself, I made it a point to try to get us together if the opportunity arose and it did so here I am. Mr.Model was supposed to be going to Puerto Rico this week, but his trip got canceled which allowed him to fly up here instead to attend an alumni event at our school so I asked mr.Music who's, also, still back east if he'd be willing to grab lunch seeing as it's the first time since '17 that we'd all be in the same place.
November 5, 2023, Seekonk, Rhode Island
It was so nice out that Mr.Music and I were throwing the football around in front of the restaurant waiting for mr.Model to get there. Then I saw him walking towards us in the parking lot. I was just about to heave the football way over mr.Music's head across the parking lot, but mr.Model motioned for me to act normal so he could sneak up behind him. Our lunch started with a big bear hug as mr.Model jumped on mr.Music's back. Well, that was easy. All I had to do was get them together. We didn't even need to have a conversation. I've had plenty of conversations with both of them individually over the past couple years. Maybe that helped. Mr.Model brought his cousin with him and the four of us had a great lunch. They're all from New Bedford and talked about old times and, of course, football. I just listened for the most part as mr.Music and mr.Model made up for lost time catching up with each other. It was great to meet mr.Model's cousin, too. I'm not sure what the future will bring, but that was a step in the right direction.
November 13, 2023, Turners Falls, Massachusetts
It's a beautiful day. I'm not sure what the temperature is. I haven't been outside, yet, but the sun is warming the inside of the yukon nicely. It was in the teens last night so I'm glad I grabbed an extra comforter out of the enclosed trailer. It's still parked up in the field where I spent the summer. Staying in it during the warmer months was fine, but, now, that the temperatures have dropped it would be freezing in there every morning. The truck is a much smaller space and easier to stay warm in. Plus, I have to use it to get lumber and hardware at home depot so I can crank the heat when I'm driving. I won't just sit in it with the engine running. That feels too wasteful and adds to pollution. The new trailer is parked beside the barn by the road where I've been working on it for the past two weeks. Every night I leave after dark and find a place to park in Millers, Turners or Greenfield then return in the morning to continue working on it. I've been waiting for a rainy day to take a break and write, but it's been dry so I've been trying to get as much done as possible. I reached a stopping point, last night, where I need to resolve a few design details before beginning to build the actual tiny house. Prepping the trailer and installing the floor which is completely insulated was the challenging part and that's all done, now. Building four walls and a roof is easy.
I've been so happy during the day working that it's almost scary. No music, no audiobooks, no earplugs. Just me in the present moment. Deciding to eliminate my smartphone from my day to day routine has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. I feel like it saved my life or, at the very least, my sanity. I can remember things so easily and have been recalling memories from childhood, not to mention all the dreams I've been having. Even my day dreams are better. I still use my phone once in a while to look up a part or find building materials which I've gotten some great deals on by looking on craigslist and fb marketplace before buying retail, but other than stuff like this, that pandora's box is staying shut. This doesn't mean that my life is all peaches and cream, now. Far from it, I'm in full-on survival mode and the mornings continue to greet me with a kick in the stomach, but, at least, I'm healthy and sane, not some lost robot staring at my phone, during the day.
Today's Monday. A week ago after working til way past dark which isn't hard to do since we set the clocks back, I was going to reward myself by watching a movie on my laptop. I thought about going out somewhere, too, and grabbing dinner, but that costs money and I'm spending enough working on the trailer that I can't afford anything else. I've only got so much time to work before I need to relocate and find a job. I thought maybe I'd watch part of a movie then turn it off. No more falling asleep to a screen. That's not good for my brain and this glimpse I've gotten is something I don't want to risk losing. Instead, something stopped me and I just sat in my truck with the loneliness and came out on the other side feeling euphoric and hopeful. I was blown away. That's never happened before. I fell asleep not long afterwards. I've been doing this every night. I knew it wasn't a permanent solution and I didn't expect it to last forever, but I haven't wanted to do anything to make it go away hence not even using my laptop. The honeymoon finally ended last night. It lasted about a week and a half. That's not bad. Driving off every night to find a place to park is getting old and working alongside the road with people driving by all day gawking at me is getting old, too.
I thought about moving the project up into the field beside my other trailer. I picked up a small generator so I'd have power for when I need to use my circular saw. I can make most cuts by hand. I use my corldless drills for everything else. This would get me back in nature during the day and not on the side of the road. I'd still have to leave every night and park somewhere. I've driven my truck up into the field on a few occasions this summer and fall. MissLuna said it was fine if I wanted to park up by my trailer, but I don't feel right doing it everyday. There'd be big tire tracks across the field. Technically, I can leave, now. I could move everything out of the enclosed trailer and onto the new trailer using it like a flatbed, sell the enclosed one and hit the road if I had a destination, but I don't. If the tiny house was finished, or at least framed, roofed and sided, I wouldn't need a destination. I could find a job someplace and continue to work on the inside on my days off. Mr.Model hasn't found land, yet. Last I heard from him, he was heading to NYC then to LA. He's been looking a lot, almost found something in northern Georgia, but the zoning turned out to only allow one residence. It was only 5 acres. I didn't want to live there anyways. I'm heading west where there's more open space. I told him that it seems like he'd prefer western North Carolina or northern Georgia and I'd prefer New Mexico, Colorado, northern Arizona or southern Utah. He said he likes those parts of the country, too, but every parcel he sends me to look at it is in the southeast. No worries, I told him I'd still help him get things started, but I don't see myself staying in that area long term. When I'm ready, I'm heading west.
I'm not broke, yet, so I guess I should throw the walls and roof up so I can leave here with all my tools and belongings out of the weather.
*Dennis at Brooska's Flooring in Turners Falls for offering to let me rummage through his dumpster for some free carpet padding (it doubles for insulation filler).
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are the product of the author's imagination and are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.