Friday, September 12, 2008

Travelin' Update. Return to the van!

Since the last Truck House post, a lot has happened. Shit was getting pretty lazy and strange back in the great state of Pennsylvania. There wasn't much to report van-wise, and I hadn't made any progress with learning new tips for vandwelling. In fact, I think my vandwelling tips are over. My van is not set up beyond how I got it. I converted nothing, unless you count hacking out the back seat and throwing it in a dumpster. I'm definitely using the minimalist approach. Oh: I got a pillow-top mattress topper thing. A girl in Oregon who I met at a bar gave it to me. She also gave me a copy of Don Quixote and a bigger cooking pot. The cooking pot is an 'Emeril' signature series and seems pretty nice. Comes with a lid. I did not need to have sex with this girl to get all this great stuff, though she hinted that that's what she wanted. Am I out of my fucking mind? She was pretty. I'm going to chalk that up to all the red flags that mabye she was a little unbalanced and I didn't need to start any kind of sexual relationship with her. Or maybe I'm out of my mind and I'm afraid of sex.

In any case, I don't know who's reading up on this blog here - but this is my update. Shit got lazy and strange, as I said, then I went on a one-month bicycle trip traveling from Philly up through Maine, and then bicycling and hitchhiking in Quebec. I spent 100% of my money. It was one of the most fantastic experiences in my life so far.

Shit got almost instantly strange when I returned to Pennsylvania. I felt uneasy and anxious, and left for Oregon a few days later, putting all the gas on a credit card. I was headed to Eugene to try my best at getting a job with a bicycle manufaturer there that I highly respect. I had the credentials, but they had another candidate who got the job. I headed south to Ashland, got all fucked up and lost my credit card, and got pretty hungry and uneasy until I got this job as a dishwasher that feeds me and gives me a little bit of tip-out cash whenever I work.

Next, I'm going to work this year's sugar beet harvest in North Dakota, then head back to Pennsylvania to see if that state continues to give me a fucking constant heart attack. I seriously think this entire wacky Oregon adventure is going to break even after the sugar beets. To me, that's just golden-hilarious.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Next to the big house

I'm getting super complacent back in Pennsylvania. I think my mind was healthier in Key West. I know it was. I'm parked in the driveway at my parents house. Here's what that looks like:
I've been stationed here for a majority of the time since getting back to this area. I sleep in the van in Philly or West Chester when hanging out or otherwise convenient - but this is my home base. I'm in the big house while I'm typing this on a laptop that was purchased for me out of the blue. The picture was taken with a digital camera from the same blue. I spend plenty of time in the big house. The parking spot is where I sit for really long periods of time letting my thoughts run amok. I also sleep in the van. I have a paralyzing inability to decide or even picture what to do next. This feels like a possible step in the wrong direction, but I can't express exactly why. Everything is super easy for me still, but I have a nagging feeling that I need to go do something else. Part of this is a built in resentment that I have for getting everything handed to me. I would even call it guilt. But I'm not really resisting the comforts of home (the big house). Why should I feel guilty for having a 24/7 bathroom and shower right next door? And expensive electronics that fall from the sky? I have a really crazy inability to figure out my own feelings sometimes. This, compounded with lots of drinking. Also other personal issues that I can't figure out, like girls. I'd love to just blame all this on something easy. But my brain can't fool itself when something is afoot.

Monday, May 5, 2008

home? stress? veiled perfection?

I thought I'd write something here as an update, since I'm inside a house screwing around on the internet a whole lot. I found a new vehicle living blog: Freedom Van. It's written by a girl (female... 29... I always say 'girl'). She's in Colorado, and moved into her van. The blog starts as she's going through all of the preparation - mental and logistical. She's a good writer, and I read it like a book today. The better news is that she's continually updating it.

I'm back in Kennett Square where I grew up. I have a pile of used bicycles that I bought in order to fix up and sell. They're leaning on my parent's garage. I'm a guy who puts an ad in the paper, then buys used bicycles. Then they get fixed up and sold for a good profit. I'm also a guy who ends up surprising himself with lack of action. I haven't worked on the bicycles at all, and my savings from Key West is going bye bye. Why can't I make myself work? I like bicycles - why can't I just shut up and work on them? Weird fuckin problem.

I've had a lot of second thoughts about the definition of home. I thought I was coming home, but I'm really just returning to a geographical area which is familiar. An area where I felt anxiety and stress before, and where I feel some now. It's a manageable amount of these feelings, I'm trying to describe rather than complain. I'm aware my anxiety is small compared to Bad Shit other people have to deal with. At least I know I can live a simple van-home life and thus be out of range of certain financial tragedy in the form of fucked up bills to people I don't like. I readily feel that life is good and simple - so what's with this fucking tight-chest nonsense? I have to think to breathe.

I spent two nights inside a house in a bed, and I felt like I was cheating. I park often at my parent's house in the driveway. It's a great big house with a great big view of trees and a little piece of some woods. I can sit for hours and hours in my life-is-easy chair and relax with the doors open. But sometimes it feels false, like setting up a tent in the back yard - then going inside to use a bathroom and pop some popcorn in the microwave. That's not camping! This is not van living! (I accuse myself). What does that matter? I've slept on residential streets and at the farm. I love my van most, and we're achieving awesome moments as a routine. That's just a thought - I have no conclusion drawn from this.

I want Tara (hobostripper) to mention a special herb to calm my ass down. I found one herb, also known as pot. Smoking that alleviates some symptoms, but I'm not going to just be a pothead and act like that fixes something.

I'd like to kinda just get the fuck out of here. First I have to fix up these bicycles and sell them. I need the money. Also keeping me here is the thought that I won't be here long. I'm going to ride my bicycle to Nemaska, or at least set out again with the intention of doing so. That's a sweet little adventure. So I need to fix bicycles, make money, and learn some French for traveling in Quebec. When I was riding through Quebec before, I vowed to learn French. Now I just gotta chill out with some Rosetta Stone action (language learning software).

So that's my plan: stress around and hope for a magical chill pill and bide my time until I ride a bicycle all over. Hopefully something I do, or somewhere I end up soon, will make me open my eyes and laugh at my awesomely perfect caricature of a predicament.

If anyone wants to ride a bicycle up the east coast and hide in the woods with me at night, please give me a call or send me an email. I get along with everyone, with few exceptions. If this sounds interesting, I bet we'd get along fine.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

7:21pm - the blog that's updated every day.

If you heard about this blog on the radio, or in the paper you might want to look at my other blog that actually gets updated every day. It has plenty of little snapshots of what it's like for me to live in a van. I write down what I'm doing at 7:21pm - I have the alarm on my watch set. The Truck House blog has detailed specific information about my van. My van doesn't change every day, so it doesn't warrant a blog update all the time. But 7:21 keeps rolling around, so if you check that blog or click up an RSS feed, you'll get a slice of my life every day. Slice of life like a slice of pie. Delicious slice of life. Actually, just read the hobostripper blog. She's more interesting 'cause she moves around and writes almost every day. I follow her blog like nobody's business. Both of those blogs are linked over to the right. And also here:

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Cooking, cleaning, state of mind

I've seen Rambo and Cloverfield for free. At the last showing, the Regal
Cinema very often does not have a person ripping tickets. When I see
that, it's tempting to just not pay $9. Steve was along to see those
movies. "Sneaking in" is sort of an every man for himself proposal,
but he didn't have trouble sauntering right in either.

If you're worried about me not eating enough - because you know me and
you know that could happen - don't worry. According to the scale at
Winn Dixie, I'm about 15 pounds heavier. I attribute this to bad
habits formed almost immediately upon arrival down here. Specifically:
buying pre-made food and eating the known too-big portions. Buying
between one and three donuts with my coffee. Drinking tall beers all
the time. I'm setting this straight now, and finally getting back to
my original plan of cooking more, and being reasonable. I have an a-list of regular
groceries. I get Life Cereal with apple juice, and soft bagels and
peanut butter. Sometimes bananas, and I'm thinking about getting
apples. I recently got broccoli and that was positive. For stuff to
cook, I get pasta - preferably the whole grain kind - and pasta sauce.
One of my favorite easy meals is made by Lipton - get those pouches of
noodles or rice that cook in 7 minutes. I, Chris, am telling you to get them.
There are at least ten different flavors, and it's a 'just add water'
affair. Don't even need the right amount of water - just go for it.
I also eat Chunky soups, and canned chili. Other food comes up,
but that's the main stuff. It's easy and you don't need a fridge.
Let me tell you - for that stuff you don't need much. I didn't pack a
fork, and curiously I've realized it's not worth the effort to get
one. Where would I keep it? My spoon goes in my mug that I eat
cereal out of. That all gets squished between two bed sections near
the wall, and a fork would really crowd up the mug. I'd have to put
it somewhere when I eat cereal. And I'd have to keep the fork with
the spoon - and I like the spoon where it is - so I'm not really
itching for a fork these days. When I do some rearranging of this van
later on up north, I'm going to have a really good idea of what I
actually need, and where I'm going to put it.

I don't do the dishes very much. Here's a solution that works. I
have two little cooking pots, one little yellow colander, a ceramic
cereal mug, a plastic drinking mug, and a spoon. The cereal mug has
bits of cereal stuck to it. I get what I can, and let the rest just
dry up and stick. When you have cereal later, it'll come unstuck and
other bits will take over. If you drink water from this mug, you will
get some of that cereal. This works fine. When you cook in a pot,
then finish eating your food out of it, it is usually still warm, and
you can wipe it out with a paper towel. If you can't get it with a
paper towel, or two in some circumstances, then leave it. Next time
you cook, the problem will take care of itself.

I'm happy. I've gotten used to sleeping and cooking in my van. I
like it. I think part of this personal success is tied to the
simplicity. I have no worries, no real errands, and I know that this
style of living is a cinch to sustain indefinitely.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

New job / new bike

1) my laptop died. It rough, I know. It might be a minute before I can replace it. I'm at the library with 0 time to write this.

2) I got a new bike for $30. Some local old bike guy. It's a Raleigh road bike frame converted to a coaster brake bike with 26" wheels, fenders, and handlebars with a moderate rise. The seatpost is frozen at a very reasonable height for me. I'd like to have the bike that I plan to tour on later this summer (build it) - but having a $30 shit-bike seems to make sense too. It rides pretty nice for Key West. Nothing special, and the coaster hubs clacks, as they sometimes do when too tight. We'll see about this - I only got it about 30mins ago.

3) most importantly, I got a job for at least 2 days a week at Eaton Bikes. Now I'm going to do pedicab only on Friday and Saturday, and be a mechanic for another 2 days. That means 3 days per week off, and I can sleep when it's dark outside a lot more. This is important, because my van gets hot when the sun is beating down on it. Sleeping at night with less traffic and sun will help me out a lot. Eaton Bikes pays $15/hr cash. I'm not on the books. No job interview either. I just started pulling tickets, and fixing bikes. It's a great atmosphere. Nobody acts cool, nobody is holding a stopwatch on you. And: employees buy at cost. Probably the best feature of working at a shop.

4) That means I might stick around for awhile if everything is treating me great. It's warm, I'm making some amount of money. I'm in more debt than when I started (van, loss of $ for truck)... but maybe I can make that turn around. I'm eating a lot of Life cereal, and I'm 'cooking' (heating mostly) my own food instead of buying $10k food per day. I still buy food, but it's getting a lot more reasonable. And I'm drinking Natural Ice, which everyone knows will save hundreds per month.

5) That means things are getting figured out a little better finally. All this cooking, and job sorting is a pretty recent thing, so more about that later. Van living is getting pretty normal. I have a spot where I can always stay that is always in the shade, and is always fine. I want to move around... but it's tempting to just park in this lot by my friends' apartment every single night. There's very limited parking on this little island, and a lot of van people.

6) I swear I'll get some pictures. The dead laptop doesn't help. But I'll be making a flickr account with a lotta shit.

7) I have seen every movie at the local theatre except for Alvin and the Chipmunks. I won't see that. I bring in booze and an Albertson's 'Poorboy' sandwich from next door. That's like 5 movies in a month. Charlie Wilson's War, Alien vs. Predator, I am Legend, Walk Hard, and National Treasure Book of Secrets (had to get woken up). Mary told me I shouldn't avoid the movies because I'd be going alone. She was very right. I'm perfectly amused there by myself.

8) I need to find someone to take out the van's damn enormous electric folding bed. Then I need a twin mattress or something similar. And a damn 12v fan for peter's sake. I have a list, and the fan isn't even on it. Bigger cooking pot and french press are on the list. And banannas. I'm waiting around for cheap things or free things. Funny when you can spend $9 on a movie, $5 on a sandwich, but not $8 on a cooking pot because there will eventually be a $1 or free one. If there was a french press, I'd just buy it.

9) Debt: $10,716 on credit card. $1998 on loan accout (for van). Then student loans of $2156. Wow, did I screw up big for a number of years. Hopefully I can turn this around in a noticable way.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Truck House SOLD / Steinbeck GOOD / Heart ALOOF

I sold Truck House, and now I have one less thing to think about. I slept in it one last time in the northern keys somewhere below Key Largo. I got at least 7 hours of sleep. Not bad at all! That thing I was sleeping on in Truck House is more comfortable than the fold out bed in the van. I hafta get someone with some real-man tools to help me get that bastard removed and into a dumpster. The Truck House bed, though comfortable, had to be included in the sale. No way I'm Greyhounding it all the way back.

My City Bike was stolen. If anyone in Key West sees a cheesy green-metallic Diamondback mountain bike with 3-speed-style handlebars and a big yellow milk crate on back: shoot the rider. I leaned it on a wall, got in the van to change for work, came out: it was gone. 2 mins. 4:15pm on a tiny, almost invisible side street. Fuck you.

I'm at a library in Del Ray Beach. That's near Boca Raton. I lived in Boca Raton for 8 months in a past life. I ghosted over to Einstein Bros Bagels, and had a spiritual moment with the same food and free refill that I got regularly 2 winters ago. I'm about 5 years older now. It was a pleasant stop to reflect and read The Red Pony for a little bit. That's not a crappy story if you're not in 6th grade - and Steinbeck is great. Evidence: Tortilla Flat. Like a less sarcastic Salinger. But descriptive and amusing.

I don't know where my heart is. I know it's in my chest, but I don't know where it ought to really be. Home is Pennsylvania, but I'm not going there yet. My heart is not in Key West: but I'm happy and warm there while I figure out this puzzle. Right now my heart is getting a cheeseburger across the street. Then we'll resume our dialog when we catch the bus.