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.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


I got through Christmas and the New Year pretty well down here in Key West. I've had thoughts of moving, and still do, all the time. Before that occurs, I'm tying up some loose ends. Truck House has been sold on eBay. I'm getting $2000, and delivering it about 5 hours to the north tomorrow. I'll be the happy man with a secret drink on the Greyhound tomorrow.

I'm an outlaw. I had a fake police man banging on my van this morning. I wish he would have thought to just knock politely, and say "excuse me." But that's not how it goes. I was stupid for parking at Publix overnight, so I wasn't surprised. I just hid under my blanket while he shined his light around. I know he couldn't really tell anything, so when he went to his car, I slipped on some shorts and drove away. Just as happy not to say a word to anyone.

I thought about this later, and part of me deciding to live in a van is the same as the part of me that just likes to 'get away' with stuff. The same part that feels entitled to do whatever I want if it doesn't hurt anyone else. I don't like my van getting banged on at night, but I feel like I should be allowed to live in a van, so I do, and damn the consequences if someone doesn't like it. I wonder how long I will be living in the van. At this point, I really don't picture myself in an apartment. I like the van, and I don't even have it set up nearly as well as it will be, with electricity, skylight, roof vent, etc. Also, I'll have a bed that takes up less than 50% of the living area (I need to address that soon...). With all that - and complete mobility - and no apartment rent - and no foundation to tie me down: it might be awhile. It all hinges on good parking and my desire to keep on finding it. I look forward to leaving Key West and spending time in a National Forest parked in the woods by a fire reading a book. And going to Oregon when it's warm. And I most look forward to a long, long bicycle trip on my City Bike, which is getting a parts makeover very shortly.

I don't have much to report aside from my aspirations. Key West is a good place to be, but I work too many hours. It's getting pretty normal here, and I'm ready to go. But the Klopps might come down here, and I want to see that happen. Jennie said she'd visit, and I'd like to see that. (Jennie: if you read this, there's room for two in the van - I measured it.) Also coming up: more money from more tourism? A new job?

One more report. I finally got a camping stove that I really like. It's the $19.99 coleman propane one that you can get anywhere. It's too big for a bicycle trip, but it's really good for cooking in a van with the doors open. This changes my life for the better. I hope I'm cooking on this when I'm 50.

Current location: outside at Bubba's, where you can do laundry, get free wifi, and order food. I'm doing laundry. It's beautiful outside. My laptop and phone are now charged.