The Wanderlust Misfit

Don't Run From Anything, Run Towards Everything

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

Storm Dread

‘Aren’t you scared? About what you’re about to do?’

‘I’m nervous as hell, but, I wouldn’t say I’m scared. I’m nervous as hell but I know once I get going I’ll be fine about it.’

The morning was early, cloudy and gray and cold, the kind of cold that can go through your clothes and make your bones stiff. I was sitting in the front seat next to Beverly who I had asked to drive me far enough out of Columbus, Ohio. Beverly was broad shouldered, had a smooth face and blonde hair and I could tell she was very tired, the way her eyes were puffy.

‘I’m trying to think of a good place to drop you off, but.’

‘It doesn’t really matter. I’ll catch a ride where ever. Here, this next exit has a gas station. That’ll work.’

The car slowed down coming around the off-ramp, stopped at the sign, sped back up going across the overpass and pulled into the gas station on the other side. A man was walking out with a coffee, steam rising from the cup in the gray morning.

We were twenty miles south of Columbus, along Route 71.

‘Thanks again for driving me. I really appreciate it.’

‘My pleasure.’

‘Guess this is goodbye then.’ We both leaned in for a hug. ‘Be good, best of luck in school, and I’ll see you again in a couple of months.’

‘Are you coming back to Columbus?’

‘Yeah. February or March, probably.’

‘Alrighty, then. Well, be safe out there Allen.’

‘I shall.’ I lugged my knapsack out of the backseat and put it on my shoulder. ‘Thanks again Beverly!’

‘Bye Allen!’

I shut the door and watched the little red car pull out of the gas station, into the road and back on the highway. People were hurrying in and out of the gas station store, yawning as they filled their gas tanks and no one seemed to notice me. There was a dilapidated motel across the street with an overgrown parking lot, broken windows and a falling roof. The wind picked up and I shivered, walked around to the side of the gas station and found the dumpster. There was a piece of cardboard on top of everything. I dug out my permanent marker and scrawled ‘CINCI’ as neat and as bold as I could. Then I went back across the overpass to the southbound on-ramp.

Traffic was slow but I didn’t worry about it – it was cold and very windy and I looked young, clean shaven with thin glasses and I was not a big person: pity always plays a factor and I’d get picked up in no time, no time at all. I placed my knapsack against the guardrail and stood in the cold, dry dust on the side of the onramp near the top where it met with the road. Behind me was a dry, overgrown field that ran downhill until it met with the woods that followed along the highway. Down the street were a few small warehouses and a junk-yard but that was it, the rest was dry woods and dust. I stood there and sometimes sat on the guardrail when there wasn’t any traffic, standing up to hold up my sign and jut my thumb whenever I saw a car slowing down to turn onto the on-ramp.

Twenty minutes.

I was holding my sign and I thumbed at a car as it rolled into the on-ramp and sped past. The southbound off-ramp was across the street and there was a gleaming white pick-up truck at the stop sign.  The truck across the street beeped once and the driver flicked his hand towards himself. I slung my knapsack over my shoulder and hurried over to the passenger side. The window was down.

‘I gotta drop this trailer off down the street,’ said the driver. ‘Then I’m heading down to Cinci. I have to come back this way though, probably about thirty, forty-five minutes. You can come with me to drop it off if you’d like. Or wait here, whatever you’d like – I’ll be coming back this way, like I said.’

‘Okay, cool,’ I said enthusiastically. ‘Yeah uh, I’ll wait here I guess, see if anyone else stops. You going all the way to Cincinnati?’

‘Yeah – well, like fifteen miles north of it.’ There were cars pulling up behind him.

‘Okay, awesome. Yeah, I’ll wait here. Thanks a lot, man!’ I backed away from the truck and he drove off. He was towing a trailer with a pop-up camper on it. I went back to the on-ramp to wait.

I was wearing a tan Carrhart coat and I waited as long as I could before zipping it up – with such a large coat people like to think you’re hiding something. But the wind was so cold, icy in my chest and I’d begun to shiver. Gray clouds moved swiftly over the sky, looking soon to storm. I’d hug myself to stay warm and when there wasn’t any cars I’d sit down on the guardrail and watch the big farm equipment that bumped slowly down the road.

An hour passed before the man in the pick-up returned. He came to a stop on the side of the on-ramp and I ran over, tossed my knapsack in the bed on top of old tool boxes and spare parts and climbed in the front. The floor was littered with old fast-food bags that my feet made crinkle because there was no place else to put them. The driver, very somberly, glanced over, placed his hands back on top of the steering wheel, and slowly gave the truck gas as he pulled back onto the on-ramp, onto the highway.

‘Thanks again for the ride. I really appreciate it.’

‘Sure thing.’

‘Boy, it sure is cold out there.’ I don’t like silent rides and the driver said nothing. ‘I’m Allen.’

‘Frank.’ He shook my hand with a cold, loose grip – as if his hand were limp.

‘So what did you have to drop the camper off for?’

‘Repairs.’ He glanced over and he had big, heavy eyes like a Basset Hound and a rotten nose. There were a few powdery threads hair beneath a blue hat that said Navy and had military insignia pins on the brim. Reluctantly, as if for my own sake, he added, ‘I usually fix them myself, but, no time.’

‘You have more than one?’

‘Why are you hitchhiking?’

I looked over at Frank and he was staring out the windshield. ‘I have some friends in Los Angeles that I’m going to visit. I figured it was either I go now or wait till Spring.’

‘Is that it?’ I didn’t understand the question.

‘Well, I want to go South to get out of the cold, so I figure I’ll get down to Nashville and take Route 40 all the way west from there.’ It was very gray outside and I could hear the wind as it whipped around outside the window.

‘Trying to get away from this storm?’

‘Yeah – I kept thinking it was going to rain when I was back there waiting.’

Frank swallowed and his knuckles curled back and forth on the steering wheel. ‘See all this corn out here? And the signs posted along the road?’ He paused for a moment. ‘The signs say what kind of corn it is. They’re all different. But none of them will grow in the wild anymore, they can’t, because we’ve modified them so much. Take a handful of their seeds and spread them around and they’re useless. I’ve stocked up on natural seeds. Pounds of them.’

‘You grow corn?’

‘No, I don’t have to yet. I do live on a farm though, two hundred acres in the middle of nowhere. I’ve always been more comfortable in the woods, forests. Safer. Away from everyone.’

‘You live by yourself?’

‘No. No one can make it by themselves.’ It was very gray outside now and very dark, as if near night or in a heavy storm in the late afternoon.

‘It won’t rain just yet,’ said Frank. He clenched his jaw and stared out the windshield as if he were empty inside. ‘You see these tractor-trailers? People are buying them and burying them ten, twenty feet underground. They’ll use commercial air-conditioning vents to get into them and they’ll fill a few feet all around the trailer with concrete. I know a guy who buried several and connected them all.’ Frank leaned forward in his seat until his chest was at the steering wheel and then sat back again, knuckles curling the steering wheel. ‘I have large freezers buried in my yard. Filled them all with canned food and dried goods. I’m very good with electronics and I’ve put together a CB radio and have solar panels on the roof. The farm’s completely self-sustaining and my brother and I are working on a water purification system for the well.’ Frank turned his wide, heavy eyes at me and my chest blackened, I don’t know why.

‘Do you know where you’re going to be?’ he asked.

‘When?’ I saw Frank’s heart beating quick and hollow and I could no longer see where we were going, without headlights driving deep into black swirls.

‘It has to happen soon and thank God I know how to live off the land, what plants are edible and what plants have medicinal uses. We have back-hoes and the right farm equipment and a small oil well way in the back – we’re surrounded by forests, have our own fields and a fleet of pick-up trucks, the old sorts without all the new electronics in case of EMP’s or electrical storms and we have lots of ATV’s. We have a chicken coop we just finished, cows that we breed and pigs and we can make our own bread provide all our own food.’ Frank was speaking swiftly, his head turning and swerving and tilting as he spoke and as he spoke, his wet lips loose smacking up and down, I could see in his mouth a black nothingness and out of this came the word DREAD and it was dripping with his black saliva. This affected me deeply.

‘We’re completely self-sufficient and have several dogs and motion-activated cameras surrounding the property which is on a hill partially surrounded by a ridge and my brother’s wife is a field nurse, I’m trained in electronics, two of my brothers are in construction though really we’re all very handy and my son’s a wonderful mechanic. The bunker is protected against radiation and has enough food for thirty people for three years but there’s only twelve of us so we can wait out the worst and we’re completing irrigation ditches lots of feed for the animals and we know how to hunt and have dogs lots of guns and munitions and we all know how to fight – my brothers and I and our sons all served. No one will be able to fuck with us.’

‘Wow. I don’t know how to do any of that.’

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Lost Spirits

The Lost Spirits who want nothing but to live,

Constrained by the Constrictions of Society’s Consumptions.

Wanting nothing but to live.

Searching

Wandering

Wishing and wanting only but to live,

To find Life outside of ingrained fascist morals,

Sickened of the system saying, steps one, two and three before you can be happy,

if fortunate enough, free.

To Hell with it! Live the life you imagine! Be done with it!

Eat this buy that apply here for your Adjustable Rate Mortgage.

Enough! No student loans, no needless insurance and peachy quaint comforts

sucking pleasure out of spirit and soul and heart and mind.

Rip out your hair – Tear off your skin and lay yourself bare,

Bare to the Will of the World which you so beautifully sculpt —

Your Will. Your World.

— Along the flanks of the Unknown,

The Lost Spirits Live Free.

Reason to Run

In case any of you were wanting to read about this last hitchhiking tour, even though there aren’t too many of you following this blog yet (I notice these things, ya know), I’ll begin posting pieces of it in a couple of days.

I’ve decided to cut the trip into fragments and make a series of stories out of it. Each story will be 1,500 – 2,000 words and they’ll each be called ‘sodes’ for no other reason than because ‘sode’ is shorter than ‘episode’ and sounds a whole lot more ‘new-wave’ and ‘edgy’. There should be about 20 – 25 sodes in all.

The title of the series will be ‘Reason to Run’ and each sode will show a point that plays into the overall theme of the series. Hopefully the points don’t go over everyone’s heads. And while each sode will be based on actual events that took place during the trip, I’m taking the liberty of eschewing all facts and writing in surrealism and pretty much doing whatever the hell I want with it. If you’d like, you can take these stories as things that actually happened or as things that didn’t happen.

Distractions and Doubt

I came across an awesome post this morning that really got me thinking. Here’s what I had to say:

“I think that for a person to truly write, all distractions must be done away with so that the writer can having nothing but writing on his mind. This entails what you called the ‘drastic lifestyle change’ — taking the plunge. I find it hard to do something else when I know I need to write and this makes it difficult to keep even a part-time job. That said, I’ve ditched most of my possessions, college, profitable work, and much of my social-life (bridges don’t so much burn as they do fall apart). I now have nothing left going for me except for writing. Nothing left to do but to write.

And here is my only remaining distraction: Was the plunge the right idea? Did I totally fuck over my life by putting everything on the line for the small chance that I might actually become a successful writer? Is it time to act like an adult, get a real job, and like everyone else place my only passion as a hobby?
Doubt. It’s the only distraction/subtraction so corrosive that it kills all creativity.”

The only way I’ve been able to rid myself of doubt is by believing that I have done right, by having faith in what I’m doing.

Love your life and the path you have chosen. Fill yourself with incredible ecstatic joy for what it is you are doing. You have chosen this. Fall in love with your life, because the only way you can bring about the future you desire is to have endless love for the world you strive for. And once you do this, creativity will make your blood tingle. And it won’t stop.

(This is all potently narcissistic, and that topic I’ll save that for another post.)

For My Halloween Costume…

I bought a piece of beige cloth, wrote ‘DHARMA’ on it with a magic marker, and used safety pins to attach it to the backside of my pants. With it I’ll be wearing my usual clothing — a flannel with a ripped shoulder and a pair of dirty jeans with their own little hole.
Question is, will anyone get it? Will anyone appreciate the cheap simplicity and genius of my costume? Oh well. Who cares. If no one gets it at least it will be a good conversation starter!
Cheers for the holiday!!

Bluegrass Basement — No Boots

The bar was in the basement of an upscale restaurant. Along the walls and in-between the couches and tables were displays of antiques; old typewriter, butter-churn, record horn, and the lights were low, dim yellow tinted red from the shades cupped up on the walls. Small, white candles in tall glasses on each table. The bar was in the center, long oak counter running square, and as you followed it around you passed tables, chairs, people standing in groups and people in bar-stools, little tables rounded by ottomans, the bathrooms and to the back of the bar long cushioned benches along the wall, low tables in front.

Here was the stage: A square cove was pushed back in the corner of the wall, ten square foot stage. Red rug and dark wood panels, low light red tinted from the shades cupped against the walls.

Four of them whispering together before the strings twang. The bass on the right begins thump, thump, boom thump — fingers flipping at thick strings, bass player with broad shoulders, barrel-chested and heavy faced. Thump, thump, boom thump. The old man on the left brings in his guitar, acoustic simple riffs playing pah pah, ker pah pah — and he begins to sing, low and soulful scratchy voice, sounding think the way his forehead wrinkles thickly, scrunched soulful over closed eyes. And the banjo comes in, curly black hair and a blunt-nose kid cradles his banjo under his arm and plays, standing tall and loose rhythmical tapping foot. And the fiddle, the fiddler long-faced and serious, glasses with thick and black top rim only, long nose and the fiddle stuck in the crook of his neck as his head looks down, shoulders stooped as his bow flicks twangs off the strings.

Thump, thump, boom thump ker pah pah pah une ker pah pah. And the music picks up just like this: two of them singing now and the bass steady, guitar in the back and the fiddle and banjo stand center, the two of them playing delightful while the old man sings and moans beautifully. All of them barefoot. Above them the bare aluminum of air-conditioning ducts and red gas pipes twisting a network of fumes above their heads. Two younger guys in the front, in front of the crowd standing just in front of the band, clapping and stomping and driving them on. The banjo flicks quick fingers up and down the fret board making strings sing and the bass making bounce the bump bump, thump boom thump, the old-man guitar riffing gritty and slow, keeping pace to his voice. They wear flannel shirts, sometimes open showing hair, dirty jeans rolled up above ankles and barefoot. The banjo comes forth now, the other instruments fading to background, supporting sounds, as the banjo fingers pick up moving back and forth in chords and flicking strings, the banjo player leaning back real skinny in the shoulders and letting loose the sounds of the banjo he cradles in his arm. He plays and crescendos and right then the fiddle makes debut, long screech and bursting forth its gorgeous back-woods sounds. Fiddler with his head down. He plays and plays and tall and lanky, head down, shoulders hunched, where the fiddle cocked in the crook of his neck. And it picks up, the fiddle screeching and crying and bursting choir choruses from the strings flicked with the bow, the fiddler has been stomping now and is kicking both his feet. Head still down and shoulders hunched he leans back, eyes closed, and is hopping jumping foot stomping to the crescendo and the two wild ones in front of the crowd dancing and stomping clapping overjoyed with the beauty of bluegrass country back-woods magic and the two start cheering as the fiddle crescendo tops and tips the band breaks it off in clean final note and the two of them cheering hearing no one else. They turn around. Mink coats and high-heels, tweed jackets and shined shoes.

Perhaps to be better dug somewhere else.

Los Angeles

I arrived in Los Angeles Saturday evening, having to take a bus from El Monte far enough into downtown L.A. for my ‘host’ to pick me up. Riding on the bus I wanted to explode excitement, run out the door bumping people all over, and take off down the street, staring at everything and taking everything in. But, I sat there quietly and knew I had to stay on course and not make my ride wait around for me. For the next month or so I’ll be sleeping on a couch in Marcia’s apartment. We’re friends from high school who’ve done a good job keeping in touch and, after telling me to come to Los Angeles for the past two years, finally convinced me to make the trip (the comfy couch being the decision-swaying factor). So I put in my two-weeks at the ol’ job, paid off my last roommate, got into fight with my other roommate, packed a bag and left, spent the next week hitchhiking across this magnificent country.

Marcia lives in a two-bedroom apartment in Venice Beach, about a mile from the ocean. Her and her roommate, Isabelle, are apparently grinding edges and I heard a bit about it on the drive into Venice: they were good friends, now they aren’t, and dreams of strangling one another are looking more and more like real possibilities. Isabelle goes out of her way to put Marcia down and Marcia has no clue why.

One of the first things Marcia told me upon getting in the car was that driving with her was more dangerous to my health than hitchhiking. She also commented she had turned into quite the grandma since last I’d seen her. Anyway, we went out for a bite to eat, Marcia lamented her laziness and terrible parallel parking skills, and afterwards we stopped at the liquor store, bought some beer, and returned to the apartment.

There’s roof access to the apartment that I’ll be staying in and instead of going out, which was just fine because Marcia had work early the next morning, we sat up on the roof and had a couple beers, talked and caught up and all that jazz. Marcia called Isabelle and Isabelle stopped by.

The tension was palpable. I saw daggers shoot out of Isabelle’s eyes the first time I saw her look at Marcia. Then Isabelle said something referring to ‘New York Jews’, and when Marcia mentioned that it was all Mexicans that ran the kitchen where she worked, Isabelle called her out and said Marcia was being racist. Double-standard was obvious.

Over the next couple of days I spent some good time with Marcia and it became evident she was having a self-esteem crisis. She’d even mentioned it herself, saying she had low self-esteem. Isabelle was evidently getting to her and Marcia had commented on this as well. Marcia was beginning to come off as the grandma she described herself: overly-cautious, fearful of criticism and doubtful of her abilities, lamenting how she was no longer any ‘fun’. I went to a barbecue with her yesterday and Marcia made a spinach dip. It was very good. But Marcia kept fretting that we wouldn’t like it, that something was wrong with it and furthermore wrong with her. Marcia told me about another roommate she’d had. They had started off as good friends, just as the case is with Isabelle, and, sticking to the pattern, this roommate had taken to distancing herself from Marcia, just as Isabelle now is. This has led Marcia to believe that it is she who somehow drives people away. Curious enough, the third roommate had visited a psychic who told her there was a person in her life who was a ‘black-spot’ that was dragging her down. For the next month this roommate avoided Marcia and moved out.

So, I got drunk at the barbecue. And on the ride back I decided to confide some thoughts to Marcia. It was only her and I in the car. I told her I thought she was overly pessimistic. That she needs to work on her self-esteem and be more confident with herself. I forget exactly how I worded all of this but she asked me for examples and I provided some and I didn’t mean to be offensive or sound mean or like I was trying to belittle or do harm, but when I woke up this morning Marcia sat down to talk with me, and, surprisingly, she told me there was a lack of communication regarding how long I’d be crashing on the couch. I was of the idea that I’d be spending at least a month there. Turns out I have two weeks to find alternative sleeping places! haha. But it’s not funny. I feel like I hurt her and I didn’t mean to, I was saying all of this with the best of intentions, because a pessimistic, unconfident personality has a lot of negative energy, and not only does this negative energy feed into itself, causing more and more events to transpire that lessen one’s belief in their self, but this negative energy seeps into the spirits of everyone who spends too much time around them, bringing down everyone they associate with. Moods are infectious. People feel happy around happy people and when someone gets angry or down it invariably wears off on others. Marcia felt she was the common factor in the disappearance of her roommates and friends, and I though perhaps this piece of advice could somehow help.

Anyway, I still have to talk to her about all of this. I only saw her briefly this morning and I’ve been out all day running around looking for a job. I’m going to have to apologize, say I’m sorry if I sounded mean or insulting, and hope she gets over it and lets me stay as long as I want!

Hitchhiking Lives!!

I made it!

After a week of rambling across the North American continent, I made it. It took me just over one week and it was one of the most exciting, desperate, heart pounding, soul freeing experiences I’ve ever had. I survived on peanut butter sandwiches and Pop-tarts and apples and oranges, slept in the woods and open fields and almost froze my ass off in the Arizona desert and I woke up on separate occasions covered in slugs and ants. But you know what, I met the coolest bastards and sang at the top of my lungs with rambling saints and rode with addicts and truckers and now it’s time to soak up the sun and liquor and good times on the gold coast.

I was picked up often by older folks who had gone hitchhiking themselves — albeit twenty, thirty years ago. They’d tell me how easy it used to be to catch rides, that they never had to wait — out of one car and right into the next. Their rides would even buy them dinner! These were the aging Hippies, the older folk who came of age when the youth roiled and searched. I thought I made pretty good timing myself, only taking eight days including the day I spent visiting a friend in Oklahoma. It was funny though, how some drivers would be surprised how fast I was getting around while others were surprised how long it was taking me. My average wait time? 30-45 minutes. There were a couple instances where I had to wait well over three hours, and other times when I caught a ride in under 10 minutes.

I’ve been told I have an addictive personality. Well, guess what, world! I’ve found my new high! because I know of nothing so freeing and spirit-lifting as hitchhiking, as living by your wits and sleeping under the stars, rising with the sun and spending an entire week outdoors breathing fresh air and truck fumes. It’s dirty, it’s tiring, lonely and sweaty and grimy and you’re a vagabond and a wanderer but there is nothing as exciting as seeing someone pull over, throwing your bag over your shoulder and sprinting over, clueless as to who the hell you’re about to spend the next two hours (or two days) talking to. And once you’re sitting there, sitting comfortably in a seat and talking with your driver, you look out the window at the passing scenery and a giant smile burns onto your face from the fire in your heart as you realize, I’m making it! I’m crossing a frigging continent! And this is what I’ve learned: that most people are good, with honest intentions. Of course there’s a lot of scumbags out there who look to take advantage, to rob and panhandle, but the vast majority of rides are people looking to pass forward some good. I got picked up often up by guys who’ve hitchhiked themselves and were trying to pass forward the favor. I got picked up by people on long, lonely drives, looking for friendly conversation and was even offered rides by folks on their way to work.

The looks on people’s faces when you tell them you’ve hitchhiked. They’re surprised, in awe, amazed that such modes of travel \still  exist and work and these big excited smiles stretch across their faces. Other people call you an idiot and will promptly tell you how many people get butchered on the road. Oh well, (for them).

I’ve had some people, usually young people around my age, say they’re envious about the lifestyle, that they wish they could get up and just go like that. I’ll ask them why they can’t, and this is usually the response: I’ve got work, I’ve got school, responsibilities, man. Bullshit! haha. Listen, if you want to do something you have to just get up and do it. You can’t wait around. You can’t plan. Draw a line on a map and stick that thumb out! (But, do a bit of research first. And okay, some planning.)

Anyway, I’ve decided that the reason behind my wandering stems from a feeling of being un-free. I felt a cog in the machinations of someone else, a marionette dancing to someone else’s strings and I was sickened by it, inflicted with malaise and apathy, listlessly going through the motions and listlessly following the necessary steps I’d been drilled into understanding were the only way to success and happiness: Graduate high school, graduate college, get a nine-to-five and car payments and a home mortgage, get married and pay taxes and have kids. Bullshit! There has to be something else and I grew despondent, wanted to rip my skin off for a desperate attempt to find something, something else! Anything! I was sick of consumerism and the disgustingly palpable corruption in Washington and the endless wars and I couldn’t deal with it any longer. So I decided to throw myself out there. Decided to explore the fringes of society. I decided to hitchhike.

People are sick of doing what they’re told, sick of sitting around and sick of not moving — there is a growing sense of despondency among the masses, I keep hearing about it and I know you do too; that feeling of dread that something terrible is going to happen and that we’re helpless to avert the coming disaster. People are sick of the rich getting richer, the middle-class shrinking and again, the corruption. Something has to give, and time and again comes the phrase, “We need a revolution.” People are tired of feeling like mindless gears in a machine they can’t control and the freedom that is no longer felt is in dire need of expression. Allow for a history lesson: The Beatniks in the 1940’s and ’50’s lived with the dread of knowing that at any moment, a nuclear bomb could fall and vaporize everything they ever new. They felt they didn’t have control, and a search for higher meaning, for freedom and control of the self began: the Beatniks began to wander. The Beat movement morphed into the Hippie movement — more people searching, grasping for a higher purpose outside of bland consumerism and war and political corruption. The Hippies traveled. They hitchhiked. The Beat and Hippie movements were both born of discontent, of youthful angst, of a feeling of dread and a desperate sense to once again feel ‘in control’ of their worlds.

But then it was silent. For forty years it was silent.

Now, in 2012, what do we have? We have incorrigible corruption in government, with no politicians willing to take a stand. We have an ultra-rich class that continues to grow richer while the middle-class continues to shrink. The Beats had the Cold War. The Hippies had Vietnam. We have the perpetual ‘War on Terrorism’ and the ever-present threat of indiscriminate bombing feeding fear and the need for spying on the public, indefinite detention, the TSA, the endless bombings of foreign villages.

People are sick of it. People are getting anxious. The youth are filled with ill-content and the desperate need to once again feel free is ripping out the hearts of young people around the country. People hear about hitchhiking and a big grins matches the excitement in their hearts.

People are beginning to search again, the road again filling with wanderers and the discontent youth.

So hear this, America: Hitchhiking is not dead! It might be a rusted shell of what it once was, but it sure as hell isn’t dead!!

Hitchhiking is making its return and the youth are beginning to search once more!!

Dueling Roommates

I went out for some drinks with a friend from work last night, went back to her house where she promptly passed out and so I ended up smoking a joint by myself while her gay friend smoked a hookah. He was nice enough to give me a lift back home and I wound up having him drop me off at DP Dough, where I had terminated my employment the week before. My roommate Chris had called me to tell me he didn’t have a key on him and he was already at DP Dough so I told him I’d meet him there. Plus I wanted free food. I get there and he’s in the back sitting on a make-table all red-eyed and flustered, feet crossed and rocking back and forth as if overcoming the shock of some trauma.

Turns out some kids at the show he’d been at were giving him a tough time. They didn’t think Chris was ‘punk’ enough and he didn’t think they were ‘punk’ enough and he had apparently become indignant when they shrugged him off and turned down his attempts to make friends. Back at the apartment he was venting. He had begged our co-worker to come inside and talk with him. I tried to distance myself but I felt bad I figured I should do my part to console and advise. So I stayed in the living room with Chris and our coworker.

He keeps going on about how these kids weren’t punk enough and they had dismissed him as not being punk solely because of his age. Chris is going on 27 and is already completely bald. He lamented and complained that the kids there (they were only 18 or 19) refused to accept him as a punk. It was pretty pathetic hearing him complain about this, and as his eyes teared up and he got all flustered and frustrated again he continued his story, explaining how he challenged these kids to a fight, and how they blew him off and called him an idiot. A big thing with Chris is that he often gets the idea that people look down on him and has the habit of taking inane gestures and comments as condescending, then gets all flustered that someone is belittling him and he starts getting angry and lashes out. (I’ve only seen this once in the five months that I’ve known him, but he’s explained other instances with annoying frequency)

I take it he has an inferiority complex.

Chris continues with his litany of perceived injustices committed in just over two hours by two complete strangers, reiterates how they were pussies and weren’t punk because they wouldn’t fight him and instead collectively denigrated him to make him look an asshole in front of everyone else, bitched how the punk scene had been diluted and how he was the only true punk left, and made sure we knew that he could’ve ‘smashed their faces in’ if only they had had the balls to fight him. Chris was drunk and he doesn’t drink often, so perhaps it went to his head. But the rest of the night he was just a pain in the ass.

I said goodnight, the other co-worker left soon after, and as I was lying in bed watching TV I begin to hear Eminem emanating something awful from the living room. I shrug it off. Then Chris starts to sing and that’s when things got obnoxious. I heard our roommate Greg open his door, walk into the living, and ask Chris to please be quiet and turn the music down, we have very thin walls. Chris says okay, the music goes down, Greg goes back to bed, and not a minute later I hear Eminem’s voice getting louder and then comes Chris’s voice, just as loud as before. I call Chris from my bed and tell him he has to turn the music down, it’s still really loud and Greg’s going to get pissed. Chris says okay, I hang up, and the music stays the same.

I get out of bed.

‘Hey, man,’ I say, sounding groggy and squinting in the light. ‘Can you turn the music down? It’s loud in there. I can still hear it perfectly.’

‘Nah man, it’s cool. That’s not going to happen.’

‘What do you mean, dude? Turn the music down.’

‘No D-ude. I’m not going to. I’m sick of you assholes walking all over me and taking advantage of me.’ He’s currently sitting on the floor in front of his laptop, his legs tucked under him in an awkward way that only people with really effeminate legs can do, and he’s rocking back and forth. The laptop is plugged into the speaker system we have set up, and this is the position Chris remains in for most of his waking hours when he’s not delivering fast-food as a 27 year old bald man. Sitting in front of his laptop is the only thing he does.

‘What the hell is that supposed to mean? Just turn the fucking music down dude. Or put the freaking headphones on!’

‘Yeah man, that’s not happening.’

I reach for the cord that connects the laptop to the speakers and he gets up and blocks me. ‘Turn the music down dude. I’m not dealing with this shit now. Turn it down and don’t make me come back out here.’ I walk away and he’s bitching about something. It’s five in morning. Whatever.

I hear him singing again and the music hasn’t gone down. It’s now been ten minutes and I stood behind my door for two of those minutes, hoping he would turn off the frigging music because I really didn’t want this confrontation at five in the morning with a drunk nihilist who thinks every person he encounters is out to commit him injustices of the severest order.

As walk down the hallway and past Greg’s room, I can hear Greg, ‘Oh, god, damnit.’ He knows he’s going to have to break this up.

‘What the fuck dude! Why can’t you just turn the music down?!’

‘Because I don’t want to! I fucking live here too and these are my hours, so just deal with it!’

‘No. Turn the fucking music off.’

‘Fuck you man. You’re the one who always wants to blast music to piss off the neighbors. You’re the one always trying to fuck with the neighbors. You even pissed on their stairs when you were drunk! I bet you don’t even remember that, huh!’ We have neighbors above us who blast music on the weekends. Chris sleeps in our living room and keeps nocturnal hours, so that when the neighbors upstairs blast music (which is very annoying) he can never sleep and he gets revenge by blasting his own music. I admit taking part in this, but he’s the one that gets all pissed off over it and plots revenge.

Chris keeps going on about how he pays more rent than I, which is completely false, and how he always does all of my dishes and has to clean up after me and how he’s always doing things for me and what the hell have I ever done for him?

‘Are you fucking serious dude! I do my dishes! And how the fuck that mean you can’t turn the music down! Did you forget that I drove you and your girlfriend to the show tonight? Or that I’m the one that found you a place to crash!’ I had convinced Greg to let Chris crash in the living room and now I was regretting it. Greg was the only one on the lease.

Chris stands up and starts walking towards me trying to look big and I see clearly what’s coming. To avoid a trade of fists I shove him as hard as I can, really lunge forward and push through him with my weight. Chris goes flying backwards, stumbles over the shoddy ottoman and lands on the floor looking very surprised and indignant. He tries getting up, flustered and angry and red-faced and he stumbles so I push him again and he falls back down. This continues for the next two or three minutes, the two of us shouting and every time Chris gets up I shove him. Greg finally comes out looking very annoyed about all of this and by this point I’ve clear thrown Chris around the room, back and forth and left and right, over the coffee table, into the couch, onto his laptop. (I have to claim here, truthfully, that I’ve never been any good at fighting or arguing and have always shied away from confrontation, even when it meant walking away with my tail between my legs.) Greg gets in the middle of us and I back off because this all all quite pathetic and I feel bad (somehow) for the sorry bastard. He comes at me some more and I toss him away and Greg splits us up again. More shouting and pushing and Greg trying to keep us apart. I’ve retreated into the hallway because I just want to go to bed. I’m tired. Then Chris headbutts me. I see his pale ugly bald freckled head coming at me and I lean backwards and he just skims my nose. It didn’t even knock my glasses off.

Getting hit in the face or the head is the only thing that truly enrages me, gets me seeing blood. I charge at Chris and get right in his face and throw him straight to the ground. I can see his eyes get wide, realizing how simple it would be for me to hail and unholy shower of solid fists at his face. Instead, I just grab him by the throat and break him down emotionally.

‘Are fucking kidding me man! You don’t do fucking shit with your life! You sit around smoking pot all day and don’t do fucking shit! You are literally fucking worthless to everybody! you low-life fucking 27 year old delivery driver! You sleep on a piece of furniture that can’t even be considered a couch! You have no fucking aspirations or a fucking clue about anything and then you lash out like this!? On the only person who’s been able to put up with you!? You’ve lived here for half your life and you still have no fucking friends here!’ I stepped back and crawled backwards and sat up, stunned. ‘And you know what? The only reason I ever hung out with you was because I thought you’d have some cool friends, at the very least. I didn’t give a shit about you and now I definitely don’t. The only reason I hung out with you was to meet other people. Then I was going to ditch you. But you weren’t even good for that. Fuck you man.’

‘Yeah? Well fuck you man, fuck you. Go fucking hitchhiking and see what I care.’

Which reminds me to mention that I’m leaving tomorrow!!! WOOOO!!

To wrap it up, Chris told Greg he’d turn down the music because he respects Greg, he actually respects Greg (he made sure Greg understood this point). The music was unheard the rest of the morning and eventually I got to sleep, but not after Chris came to my door begging for me to open up because he was really sorry and he wanted me to know how much he loved me. He came in the first time and it was entirely pathetic, him crawling back to apologize and to tell me how we’re ‘brothers’ and all that deluded crap. Finally I got him to leave, because I ended up having to plead him to leave and let me go to sleep. Five minutes he was back knocking on my door, pleading that I open up and talk to him. I pretend I’m asleep. He bang the door once and walks away, muttering under his breath how I’m the asshole. ‘Fuck him,’ I hear him say. Then he pulls the same stunt with Greg.

The kid had issues with his father growing up that’s he’s told me all about, imaging that we’re much closer than I ever said or acted. His dad used to demean him and call him an idiot (Chris did drop out of highschool), and knock him around, acting tough although his dad is really rather short and bi-polar. Anyway, this kid Chris will hijack a conversation so he can make sure everyone knows he has a grasp of the topic and know how to use big words.

Well, buddy, you’ve burned another bridge. Should’ve made sure you were off of it before you lit it.

Bad Acid and ‘The Road Paved with Madness’

Writing did not go well today. I sat at the coffee shop and wrote only a couple of paragraphs, spending most of the time editing through the previous chapter. The problem was that I couldn’t get my head into it. I’m at the part of the story when things start to get, weird. Chaotic. Maddening.

Some people call it the flow, others God’s Will. Whatever the name prescribed it’s all the openness, the macrocosm, the Universal Will, and I’m at the part of the book when I become absolved into all this.

The whole point of the story, and indeed, hitchhiking, is the openness. To hitchhike with any amount of success you have to follow the flow and live by coincidence, taking things as they come and talking with as many people as you possibly can, being completely open and honest with everyone and speaking to them as if they were your best friend or closest confidant — this is you how you find rides. But dangers reside in this, because when you dive into the flow and absolve yourself into the Universal Will you lose your self, literally: by blowing yourself open to the Universal you abandon your Individual, your ego and your self; you become secondary, lost and helpless in the currents without the means to keep afloat.

The part of the story I’m at is when I’m riding with a certain individual and the two of us go fully to the flow. And the only way I can describe this is by likening it to an acid trip: everything glows and all you see and experience is wildly new and wonderful and the smallest things will get you going, throwing your head into spinning ecstasy and the world around you and every word spoken is joyfully ecstatic. But this turned for the worst. And this ‘worst’? Well, the only way I can describe that is an acid trip gone horribly wrong.

Because…

Once we absolved ourselves into the flow, that’s when we lost control.

When you absolve yourself into the Universal Will you abandon your Individual Will, and without a balance of both you haven’t any Free Will, no means of controlling the world around you or the events that shape your destiny. That’s when you start to drown. What acid does is dissolve your ego, and this is why everyone who’s ever taken acid feels so damn lovely and connected with everyone they’re with and with everything around them. — The ‘bad’ acid trip is the ego fighting this dissolution.

And this is why I couldn’t write: it’s scary. It’s frightening. And I don’t want to submerge myself in this mindset, which is what I must do to write this truly, when I’m about to go hitchhiking again. I don’t want to leave to go hitchhiking with that awful feeling of helplessness because setting out with that mindset is certainly going to exacerbate it. Feeling helpless on the road means I will be helpless, means I won’t have any control and that something terrible will inevitably come about and plunge me into ever deeper helplessness.

So…

I’ve decided to put off writing the rest of the book until I successfully get out to California. There I’ll have some certainty — shelter and a place to sleep and food to eat and I won’t have to worry about losing control and I’ll be able to write truly and well. If I work hard and well it should only take me a couple of days to finish this second draft. Then, while I’m back home for the holidays I can rewrite the whole damn thing and be satisfied with it and put it online. The title is going to be ‘The Road Paved with Madness’ and I’ll have it online for e-readers and in PDF for anyone to download for free.

I’m off now to spend a final night with all the friends I’ve made since living in Columbus and when I wake up hungover tomorrow I have a lot of preparing to do. I need to find myself a new pair of shoes, a canteen and a poncho. Then I have to figure out what I’m going to do with this laptop that I’m currently typing on. I want to have it in California with me so I’m going to see how much it would cost to send it out there. If it turns out to be too pricey I’ll get a box, some packaging material and pack it up nice and tight and wrap it all with a few plastic bags and stick it in my knapsack. The laptop’s small and light so I’m not worried about it being too cumbersome to travel with, just worried that I’ll have to keep worrying about it so that I remember not to toss my knapsack around or drop it while I’m out there.

Common Denominators

There is an idea that has, for some weeks now, been stuck in my head, and the idea is that everything I do, the writing, the traveling, the drinking, the endless desperate torrents of thoughts and the general restlessness of mind and body and spirit, that all of these things must have a common denominator, one underlying propellant that fuels the things that have more or less absorbed my life.

At first I saw it as discontent, a discontent with a society that I was fed-up with, for reasons that I didn’t yet understand, and that this discontent had led me to seek out other means of existence through writing, traveling and thinking. I thought this could be the basis of my restlessness. But I went deeper with it, and I’ve begun to think that all of the things I do are caused by a feeling of helplessness, of feeling as if I am not in control of my life, not free and only ever capable of being a cog in the machinations of a faceless soul-eater (whatever that may entail).

If my common denominator is indeed a will-negating feeling of helplessness, of not being free and in charge of my own destiny, then here is how the effects of this feeling stack up:

Traveling: When you hitchhike (or travel in general) you have to be completely open with everyone you meet, and you must meet as many people as you can. You have to live by coincidence and toss yourself without reason into the flow. You must submerge yourself into the uncertainty and from there create your own certainty (this is free will): other than this there exists no greater analogy for life.

Writing: Writing allows one to create an entire Universe on a sheet of paper. There is no greater freedom than this.

Drinking: Drinking, and intoxication in general, as all forms of intoxication serve to inhibit reason, mitigates the uneasiness and the melancholy that develops from feeling helpless and un-free. Drinking reduces the Individual Will and allows a person to be more accepting of outside flows, even if those flows are guided by other, more cynical and faceless persons.

Thinking: My head won’t stop churning and it at times bothers me but I find solace in this, that I am in control of own thoughts: whatever happens within my head I can control, what happens outside of it, that’s where I have less control. And to bring in something we’ve all seen pasted on posters in kindergarten and grade-school: Knowledge is Power. That, to me, is ultimate truth. The ignorant have much less control over their lives than do the knowledgeable, and so, perhaps, these relentless thought processes are some subconscious way of feeling ‘in control’ of my life.

All of these ideas are likely to morph, but I think I’ve hinged onto something, that the major preoccupations of my self are indeed caused by a single denominator. I don’t think the denominator will change much, only if to go even deeper, and I fully believe the ‘deeper’ will take me face to face with Oedipus. But for now this idea is ample and will suffice, and I will continue to keep all of this in the back of my mind where the sub-conscious can work on it — with my half-knowing 😉

Drunk-State

In drunk state the mind is feeble, infant-like and the individual blown apart, more to the mercy of those around him. People tend to look down upon the drunk, to mock him and he becomes the point of ridicule, lowly, unintelligent and will-less in the eyes of others. To the drunk, the imbibing of alcohol is an exercise in purification, tasting the residue of Heaven by dislocating the self from reason and becoming saint-like, to truly forget who one is for the realization that one isn’t, therefore everything. In drink happiness is found, smiles at the bottoms of bottles, because it allows the drunk to forget, to, for a time, leave reality, transcend the painful by heightening emotion (the opposite of reason). To drink is to search, both guided with an ill-content for what is. Drinking is the wandering of soul and mind. Drinking is the profession of artists. Drinking is the attainment of trance; vibrant aching emotion bursting like a valve at the swig of a bottle, the drain of a drink. To drink is to empty yourself by filling yourself with wild, uninhibited emotion. Liquor is tears. All this is why the drunk must be shamed: he relinquishes control, prostrates himself before the constructions of society – the will of others – and allows himself to joyfully drown in the incomprehensible currents of the Rivers of Heaven. This is why others feel they must shame the drunk: it is in their nature to control, so they must therefore exert will over he who has relinquished control, sacrificed his will, like a saint. And this is why I must only get drunk inside: to save myself from the control of others, for though at times I must abandon myself (for spiritual attainment) it is detrimental to chosen destiny to have others will over my own. Of course, I will still come out to have a couple drinks when you are in New York, drinks are great for bonding, but bonding isn’t the reason the drunk drinks, and so I can never drink drunk in public. You must see, it’s all very spiritual.

Well, I’m Back

Well, I’m back. I decided I needed to get back into blogging and keep plotting out my life for better or for even terribly worse.

The last post I put up was about going hitchhiking and then, for five months, there was nothing, and I kind of found this funny because it definitely sounds like I went hitchhiking and never made it back. But I figured no one here would have worried, seeing as it is this blog hasn’t had many visitors (yet!), at least not nearly enough to drum up any worries about my potential demise. So, for those of you who have missed me dearly (and by this I’m blowing smoke up my ass) I would like you to know that the hitchhiking trip was completely mind-numbing and soul-freeing and that my hiatus has only been due to a recently developed preoccupation: hitchhiking was such a success in that it turned out to be more ridiculous than I had ever imagined and the coincidences that lined up were more than spectacular and alarming to the point where I’ve decided to turn the story into somewhat of a novel. That’s been the preoccupation, I’m writing a book. And my shitty job, too, for which I just put in my two weeks because, in two weeks, I’m Going Hitchhiking Again! This time to a much more distant destination: Los Angeles.

I’m drunk now and perhaps this is the worst time to start blogging again, but here it goes and I’m going to try and sum up the past four months before I can no longer see the keyboard. Much of this will be pulled from notebooks and Facebook statuses (I had a few good ones in the past four months).

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