August 27, 2012


“Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.”
- Henry Miller

As you know, I'm back with the folks for the time being and that means family outings! Sunday the whole clan (Mum, Dad, me, and the dog) headed off to northern New Hampshire for an adventure. First we went to Shaker Village in Enfield. There were two very nice stone buildings and a beautiful Church (built by the convent down the road, I think, and not the Shakers). Not bad, but the buildings were right next to an electrical company and some residences (which was a bit strange).

Beautiful stone work

Mum admiring a Shaker dorm

Next we headed to the Mill/Meridian bridge, which was pretty darn cool.

Dad checking it out

Look at those beams
 Last we went to the Saint-Gaudens historic museum in Cornish, which was amazing and I highly recommend that if you get the chance to see it you jump at the opportunity. Saint-Gaundens designed the Lincoln Memorial and other very famous sculptures, many of which can be seen replicated at the museum.

Adam's Memorial

One of the many paths around the grounds

An amazing garden in the gallery

The Saint-Gauden Studio (the patio was modeled on Pompeii)
In other news, I've called my former landlord each day since Friday and have not received a call back. The next step might be the local cops.

August 25, 2012

The Great Escape

“Reading is one form of escape. Running for your life is another.”
- Lemony Snicket 

I'm out! Here's the story.

My landlord (who drives a $60K car and rents weekly rooms) was too busy on Tuesday (the day I moved in) to get me the lease to sign. He told me he'd be by on Saturday morning but, on Thursday evening I found that my roommates were having drugs delivered to the apartment. First I wrote about it here (I think best when I have everything written down) and you guys were pretty adamant that I should leave while I could and before this effected my teaching career (as a teacher it wouldn't look good to have my house busted for illicit drugs).

I had Friday off so I called my little sister in the morning to get her opinion. She agreed with Steve; yes I could handle it but I shouldn't need to. Next I called the folks and that's when things got crazy. My father was on his way back to their house and turned around. He was at my place within five minutes and in another seven I was completely moved out. Yup, I have so few possessions that it only took a couple trips, bed and truck included. I left the keys on the windowsill. I called the landlord, got voice mail, and asked him to call me back. He texted, I told him (again) to call me. I still haven't heard from him but I'm going to be asking for a full refund since I was only there for three days.

So that was yesterday at about 11am. Last night I slept in my sister's old bedroom. It's covered in painted stars by day and a glow in the dark galaxy at night, which is a little disconcerting. I'm going to spend the day doing laundry and applying to wilderness therapy jobs.

Thanks for the input guys, it was very helpful.

August 23, 2012


Nothingness, truly, seems to be the condition of these New York people. They are nomads going from one rooming house to another, looking for a toilet that functions.”
- Elizabeth Hardwick quotes

There was a time when I believed that adults did not have roommates. It was something of a growing process, college students had roommates but when they got older they got apartments of their own where they could decorate their own way and have a kitchen all to themselves. Because of this ingrained belief I started my rental career in a one bedroom apartment on Hampton Beach in New Hampshire and honestly thought that I was ahead of the game. Four years and a few apartments later I had my first real roommate situation in a boarding house with five other 20-somethings. At that point I realized that, as fun as decorating was, I didn't need all that space and it was kind of nice to have built in friends at home.

My sparse but cozy room
Fast forward to today and I find myself in another roommate situation, but with much different personalities than I'm use to. I share the house with three older gentlemen. One is a grandfather who likes Bud Lite forties and has a scandalously short bathrobe. One is a general laborer with a ponytail who, even fresh out of the shower, looks like he's in need of a really good scrub. The last is a rotund and presently unemployed computer geek with a taste for cheap liquor. They are all very nice guys who seem a little off balance having a woman around the house.

This evening I came home after a long day of bus rides and two year olds to find the laborer and grandfather sitting on the couch smoking cigarets and listening to scull crushing German heavy metal. I could hear the music almost a block down the street as I walked home, but hoped it was coming from some other window. Speaking of windows I just watched a very nice car park in front of the house. The laborer went running down the stairs and, from my vantage point, I watched the driver hand him a nice big bag of white powder. They shook and the car took off. Honestly I could care less what the guys do in their own rooms, but I'm hoping my choice of housing doesn't come back to bite me.

August 21, 2012

Home (For Now)

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
- George Bernard Shaw

I feel like my stress level has been so high for so long that if it drops mt brain might shut off from lack of adrenalin. The last week has been a mess. First the Jetta was at the shop all week while I lived with my parents, then the mechanic gave up and in a phone call I lost my home, transportation and freedom. That wasn't easy to handle. At times like these there is a very little you can do but shake yourself off and start constructing a new plan. Lucky for me I have a million plans and they are constantly evolving.

I looked for a van first or a camper I could buy cheap and quick, but there's not much out there right now. Maybe next month as the weather gets colder. Then I began looking for cheap apartments to move into ASAP. There aren't a lot of places that will let you move in with a hand full of cash and no landlord references, but I found one in a small city I lived in a long time ago. I met the guy last night and signed up on the spot.

I'm renting a room in a house for $150 per week everything included, which sounds like a lot but the lease only goes through the winter and I would be paying that much in heat alone at another place. It's not on the pretty side of downtown, but it's convenient. The landlord was hesitant to rent to me only because my three roommates are all middle aged men, one of whom reportedly has quite a drinking problem.

Instead of driving me to work this morning my father drove me to my new place. I brought a few duffel bags of clothing and accessories, the futon mattress from the car, and my old green trunk with a new silver padlock. Dad helped me haul it up the stairs and didn't say a word about the plastered hole in the wall or Bob, who was making coffee in a scandalously short bathrobe. I was moved in within twenty minutes, an advantage of living light.

I was going to try to get to work for the last half of the day, but instead have been taking a mental health day curled up at the library reading. I also was suppose to meet up with the landlord this morning but, at nearly 11am, I'm beginning to think that our definitions of "morning" may be different. I'll have to take the bus to work tomorrow and figure out how to get it home. It's a switch from what I've been use to but Einstien said that “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

August 18, 2012

RIP Jetta

“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”
- Dr. Seuss

After a week at the shop and a variety of codes, the mechanic has stated that the Jetta will not get through inspection and may not be worth saving. Actually he said that I could try to find a throttle box at the junk yard, but there was no guarantee that would save her.

Needless to say I have not had a great few days. After living with my parents for a week I am itching for some kind of freedom. I haven't even been to the bank to deposit my paycheck from last Friday because I don't have the ability to drive anywhere. Every day I woke up thinking that maybe that was the day that Jetta would come home and every afternoon I would jump into my father's truck looking for news that there was a brand new inspection sticker waiting for me.

What really blows is that with one phone call I've lost my home and my transportation. One or the other might be manageable, but both is a lot to handle. Now the question becomes how to get out of my parent's house. I found a last minute room for rent a town over from where I work and on the bus route. The room is $600/month instead of the $250 I would be paying with my roommates come September, but I need a place now.

The next step will be finding a new set of wheels. On a related note; after years traveling around Montana and Colorado as an awesome ski bum, my little sister (27, so not really so little) is looking for a motor home and joining the community of rubber tramps/mobile nomads. She's not really sure where to start so if you have some good suggestions for a good vehicle let me know and I'll pass them along.

August 15, 2012

The Boulder

What a week!

My car was suppose to pass inspection on Thursday, wiring and plugs that came to about $230. So I picked her up from the shop Thursday night and on the seat was a note. Drive her 100 miles to reset the check engine light and bring her back for a sticker. So Friday I took a two hour lunch break, drove 45 minutes to my mechanic, and he plugged her into the state for inspection.


After all that work? Something was missed and my car would be illegal to drive as of Saturday. Lots of pouting later I called the folks, we were suppose to go see the family for Maine Lobster over the weekend.

Figuring I'd bring her back to the shop on Monday, the Go Go Gadget Red Car was parked in their driveway and we all loaded into the pickup to head north. It was a good time, lots of catching up, and lots of lobster.

So we got back Sunday afternoon to find that, a HUGE boulder had slid down the hill and almost creamed my car. The girl has nine lives, being narrowly missed by both the rock and a post that almost took the door out.

On Monday morning I tried to start her up to bring her back to the shop, but show wouldn't catch. You're probably thinking what I was: She ran fine last week but after getting all the wiring redone she kibbies? Needless to say I was mighty ticked off. After almost an hour of coaxing I gave up and dad drove me into work. Luckily she did start Monday night after sitting in the sunshine all day.

So now she's at the shop, getting more things done (which better be cheap). It's upsetting that she ran fine until the state said I needed wires, but at 15 years old and 209,500 miles she's reaching a very finicky stage of life.

A man once told me that the only thing between a vehicle dweller and a street dweller was a mechanic and, as I prepare for what could be my sixth night with my parents, I can't help wonder if this is the kind of life event that calls for a new plan.

August 7, 2012

Blending In

When I first started full timing out of the Jetta in Amherst Massachusetts it took me a few months to get my footing. I lived on campus for a bit until I was kicked out and then had to run into a few cops before finding my Wal-Mart spot where I lived for about a year. Now that I'm in New Hampshire the whole thing starts over. It's not like there's a guide to long term parkable places on the seacoast, you just have to fish around until you find a comfortable, safe, and lightly patrolled lot.

Last night I slept at a Target, which wasn't too bad, but it reminded me of a major rule of vehicle dwelling.
When searching for a spot to sleep retail store parking lots can be great. While it's very temping to park at the edge of a parking lot, far from foot traffic and prying eyes, that is often the worst place to be. A lone car will draw attention to itself and make you a target for cops and security patrols, so instead find where the overnight employees are parking and sleep there. Yes, you might get a few slammed doors but it's unlikely that anyone will come knocking if you're stealth enough. Act like you're suppose to be there and, above all, BLEND IN.
I got a pretty good night's sleep, but then there was this morning. Showering is not easy when you live in a 1997 VW Jetta. Most cushy luxuries, like a stove, I can do without and every 24 hour fast food join has a rest room. Showers, on the other hand, exist in very few places outside the home.

Yesterday I mentioned my trip to the YMCA and their $75 "one time sign up fee" on top of the $47 monthly fee. There was a time when the Y was the cheapest show in town and they were great because once you signed up you could use any Y in the country. Not anymore though, the rates have gone sky high. My solution? Planet Fitness. The one closest to my work was offering a $10 signing fee and $10/month with no contract so I jumped on it. Even at $20 that's about .66 cents for a shower each day plus I can walk on the treadmill and watch the morning news. Bonus!
TIP: For those of you traveling with no plumbing I would recommend the "Black Card" (sounds exotic). For about $20 a month you can use any planet fitness in the US. When you consider that a shower at a hostel costs about $4 then, even if you took a shower every other day, a gym membership would save you nearly $500 per year.
So this morning I got up and went to the gym before work. I walked for a 1/2 hour, watched the news, and showered. I felt very productive and just think: I can't skip the gym EVER or I don't get a shower and in this sticky heat that would be very bad.  

August 6, 2012

Back In The Groove

Civilization is the limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.
-Mark Twain

What a week! I don't know which end is up at this point, but here's the long and short of it:

OK, so maybe it wasn't a very nice motel...
I didn't end up moving in to the Jetta on Wednesday as planned, mainly because I was not on the ball enough to get my things packed up and I was watching the kids a few times, which game me a good reason to procrastinate. I officially moved out of my friend's basement yesterday (Sunday), but did I go straight to the car? Nope. Don't judge, I sprang for a cheap room at Motel 6. My reasoning was that I didn't have a place to shower yet, it was down pouring, and I wanted some super "me time". All lazy reasons, but it was nice to lay in a big bed and watch crummy TV all night.

So today I went to work and then to the YMCA for a membership so I could shower each morning. Wow was I spoiled at UMass with 20 buildings, free WIFI, and seven showers at my disposal. Did you know the Y charges a $75 "one time sign up fee"? I'm too cheap for that, especially when I only need it for a month, so I'm back on the prowl for a place to shower tomorrow morning.

Living mobally changes everything about your day. When you live in a sticks and bricks you think about things like what's on TV tonight? Is there munchable food in the fridge? Did I pay the cable bill? When you live in a vehicle your life is boiled down to the primal necessities like where, what, and how am I going to eat? Where are the most accessible restrooms? Am I going to be safe sleeping here? We spend a lot of time debating all the things that "normal" people take for granted. This really seems horrible to a lot of people, but I kind of find it freeing. Basic necessities are the only things I really need to worry about.

Speaking of basic necessities, I have an appointment to have my car fixed this Thursday. so I can be legally inspected by the 11th. Cutting it close, but there you have it.