September 30, 2011

Dear Diary

Hey cats and kittens, dudes and dudetts: A quick tip from the Tuckerbag. Over the past few days we've talked a bit about sharing our stories and the reasons that people are often so willing to talk about their lives. There are two reasons that did not come up which are very important ones everyone can benefit from.
First, talking about your life, stories that you have and things you've done, can be therapeutic. Sometimes people just need to talk through their good points and bad points so the whole thing make sense. The big picture is often more clear than the ins and outs of daily life.
Second, we tell stories to refresh our own memories. Talking about our lives reminds us where we've been and gives us a better idea of where we're going. We get joy from remembering what we've been through, how we handled it, and how it shaped us.
For both of these reasons (and a host of others) I highly recommend keeping a journal of some kind. Even if you don't have time each day to write a full page, just jot down what you did, who you saw, or what you were feeling. There are a few ways to do this on the road or in the bricks.
  1. Keep a physical journal and write in it each day or a few times every week 
  2. If you're mobile and can't spare the space, use an online journal. Here are some suggestions
  3. Maybe you just don't like to write. Get a digital audio recorder or borrow one from your local library. Your spoken journal can be uploaded onto your computer so you can really remember what you were feeling at the time.
Let's be honest; you're living a pretty interesting and unusual life right now. So write it down!

September 29, 2011

Teach for America

Two professors have handed out guidelines for midterm papers. Didn't I just start classes? first semester is flying by and I've been forced to consider my next move. I went back to school so that I could get better jobs and make more of an impact, but in spring I'm going to have two fancy degrees and I have no idea how to use them.
Last night I put in an application with Teach for America, a organization that provides teachers to low income or high need areas in the US. I had to list my regional choices and picked New Orleans as #1 and Boston as #2. Where every I go I'll be there for two years and get some good experience. I was talking to a rep the other day and she said that doing Teach for America would allow me to "postpone the real world" for a while and figure out what I wanted to do next. Fact is, this is the real world and I've chosen a career path in which I will be perpetually broke. When all's said and done, I think it will be an interesting life, but right now it's a lot of running around and planning. I almost want to settle down for a little while.
Speaking of settling down, I'm house/dog sitting this week for a friend while she's at a wedding. Last night I cooked on a stove, watched television, and slept in a  bed. You might say that it shouldn't be so strange, having spent so much time in New Hampshire with Julie and family over the past year. The fact is that it's different when you're able to do all these things alone. No one there, no one talking to you, no one giving you weird looks as you light your tin can stove. It struck me that I could yell and no one would notice. It's been a long time since I was anyplace where that could happen.
It's a rainy day here in the northeast, so stay dry! I think those northern vehicle dwellers should make a weekend date for sometime in the spring. I've been hearing from quite a few people who will be wintering in vehicles and I'd love us all to meet in person to swap stories and ideas. Think about it.

September 27, 2011

Say Hello

There's this guy that gets on the bus at the grocery store at the same time that I do each morning. He's a big guy but less than average height, maybe sixty with a pregnant belly that holds his t-shirt away from his body. He hides long stringy hair under a neon orange bonnie hat with feathers twist tied to the strap and always wears a bedazzled belt.

We talk a lot, usually about him. He wants to tell me about his family in South Carolina and what he use to do for a living. He worked for the park service doing trail maintenance but, since he had open heat surgery, he hasn't been working. He's at the in between: between homeless and a disability check. He'll be heading to Florida next week to couch surf with friends and family for the winter. Last winter he stayed in Fort Meyers Beach and highly recommends the Chapel by the Sea (free doctor, bed, food, and they'll pack you a lunch).

His ex girlfriend died last week in Kentucky. She'd had ovarian cancer for a long time and he's been stressed about it so he's started smoking again. He walked up to the bus stop this morning and had to sit down in order to catch his breath.

There are millions of people in the world and most of them just want to tell their story to someone. That's why I have a blog. We are all made up of this collection of short stories and they justify us. We want to explain to people why we are who we are and why we're not someone else.

There are some fascinating people out there, make it a point to have a random conversation this week.

September 26, 2011

Radio Silence

What a week! I’m breaking radio silence today while grabbing a quick bite of French bread and hummus before tackling Spanish homework. No me gusta estudiar espanol!. But it has to be done. I remember last year being easier…

Anyway, I went up to NH this weekend for M’s 7th birthday (I got him a real bow and arrow) and his father’s 33rd. Totally hectic but fun, as always. So much work my head is going to spin off, but only a few more months until it’s all over and I’ll be nostalgic for the good old college days (again).

September 18, 2011

Date Night

Disclaimer: Let me first apologize for any wild generalizations I might make during the course of this story/rant. They are based on my experiences and every rule has an exception. Also, try not to think any less of me because of my handling of certain citations throughout the evening, hind sight is 20/20.

So, last week I’m doing my daily shopping, debating how quickly I can eat cottage cheese and how long it will last without refrigeration, when this guy walks up to me with a blue orchid. He starts asking me my opinion about plants for some housewarming he’s going to and I, being a nice person, play along (though it might be the sloppiest pick up line ever attempted). He seems like a nice enough guy, tall outgoing and all that. As if trying to give me as much background as possible, the guy starts telling me random bits of info, and then says the one thing that will make me turn tail and run: “I’m a chef.”

My mother was a waitress for eighteen years, I worked in every level of food service, from bartender and waitress to bar back and manager, for ten years. I have dated my fair share of chefs. I’ve also been the girl that hangs out on the loading dock listening to the married guys talk about the chick they met online last week or the waitress they’re playing on the side. I have not had good luck with chefs, which is why they top my “no list” (No chefs, no one shorter then me, and no drunks).

Eventually he asks for my number and I’m about to recite my standby (*big smile* “I don’t think my boyfriend would be ok with that”) but am stopped by two thoughts:
  1. Going on a date would get my little sister off my back. She thinks I'm romantically stunted
  2. And I could use this as research for The Tuckerbag
Maybe not the best reasons to date, but reasons none the less

Skip ahead to the date. We’re going to play a form of Where’s Waldo: I’m going to recount the evening and you’re going to look for where this guy went wrong. I'll help you out, just in case you have trouble.

He wants to take me to dinner so we meet in the park downtown. This made picking me up at my "front door" unnecessary. I assume that we’re going to a restaurant downtown but he suggests a place about ten minutes away, so we get in his car and start driving. We make smalltalk on the way and one of his first questions is “do you smoke weed.” Not a totally stupid question but is it really first date material? I tell him no, but I have no problem with it. After a few more minutes the guy says that he’s really not that hungry and why don’t we get some pizza instead. So now I know he's a tool because, having asked me out, he's made no concrete plans. Please keep in mind that this is not a real date for me, just a form of research, so I’m interested to see where this goes. We go to a pizza place, he walks up to the counter and orders two slices to go, then turns to me and says “do you want anything?” I’m a little confused as to why we aren’t eating there, plus their pizza looks gross, so I decline. Is this amateur night? We can't even sit down and chat? Isn't that what a date's for? 
We get in his car and he brings me to his place. Yeah, you heard me. He brings a first date to his basement studio apartment that he shares with three other guys who luckily were not there or I would have run like hell. So he sits down on his bed with his pizza, takes out his water bong, and he starts a movie (American Gangster). So I'm not getting food and we're not talking. What makes this a date? He offers me tequila, vodka, or (grudgingly) wine. I take the wine served in a frosty beer mug. I don't mind that the guy doesn't own wine glasses or that he served me a generic and over chilled charoney, but this is why you take a date OUT to eat. At this point I’m thinking WTF have I gotten myself into here. We watch some of the movie and eventually I make it clear that this is not my idea of a date. He suggests that we go to a bar downtown and have a few beers, which we do. It’s during this time that he starts getting handsy. I take the opportunity to tell him all about my vehicle dwelling situation. He answers with vaguely interested sounds and I’m honestly not sure he was listening at all. We get two beers and then he suggests we move on to somewhere else. Once in the car he decides he’d rather go home and watch the rest of the movie. I think we all know why he wanted to go back to his place, so I won’t go into that episode. Needless to say he didn’t get what he was looking for and brought me back to campus. I’d told him I had a meeting at 9pm to give myself an out should the evening go sour. Within thirty minutes of dropping me off I he was sending me lude photos and texts.

What happened to romance? What happened to taking her to dinner and awkwardly kissing her on the doorstep? Is it completely dead when a guy doesn't think he has to put in any effort at all?

Here are some quotes from my evening
  • “I knew this guy who played field hockey and he was really good, but he was playing against a bunch of girls so, you know, he should be”
  •  “I don’t read. I want to live my life, not read about someone else’s”
Tips for my date:
  1. Chef and Line cook are not synonymous and don't brag about being free on weekends, it means you can't be trusted with a real dinner service.
  2. I’m not 13, I don’t want to hang out in your basement
  3. Do not rub my back at bars, it’s disconcerting and awkward and I don't know where your hands have been
  4. If you’re going to ask me questions, try to sound slightly interested by the answers, even if you're not
  5. Don't start making plans for later in the week within the first 30 minutes of the date.
  6. Try to discreetly mention your name a few times throughout the evening just so I remember it because... I don't (maybe Chris? Nick? hmmm...)
  7. I do not date men who own Pomeranians. Get a real dog.
  8. Lady bits are pretty. Man bits are not. I don’t want photos of it.
  9. It's fine that all you want is to get laid, but put a little effort into the wooing because you're way more desperate than I am. 
  10. If you ask a girl if she smokes weed and she says no then try to restrain yourself from smoking, at least while your with her. Nothing is more annoying then talking to a stoned date when your not
So that's the story. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I will of course be adding a Dating While Vehicle Dwelling post, but it will be almost entirely through interviews and hands off research.

September 16, 2011

Dawn Of The Ice Age

Last night was the first really cold night of the fall. When I was a kid our house was heated by a small wood stove in the living room and how warm you were at night depended on how close your room was to the living room and if mum and dad remembered to get up and stoke the fire in the middle of the night. Sara, my sister, and I use to climb into bed together so we could pool our blankets. We’d stick our heads under the covers and let the heat from out breath fill the chamber and that’s how we’d sleep all night, two lumps in the center of a bed piled with quilts and wool. When I wok up this morning my head was under the covers and I was dreaming about being nine years old in the winter. Tonight we’re getting down to 35 degrees again and I’ll be breaking out my extra blankets.

I promised a post about dating while vehicle dwelling but wanted to wait to post until me research was complete. I have a date on Saturday so you should be seeing something by Sunday but here are the questions I’m mulling over now:
  1. Where do I tell him I live when he asks?
  2. He wanted to pick me up… where?
Yes, I’m that dedicated that I’m going on an actual date just to give you the inside scoop. I may end up treating him as an experiment and being totally honest: what would happen?

September 13, 2011

Just Another Manic Tuesday

My stress level is one step above biting your nails and not quite at uncontrollable laughter. You know, that crazy laughter that bursts out as you're walking down the hall and makes people look at you sideways and give you a wide birth? Yup, that level.
So here are the highlights.
My home has been invaded by a horde of college students and the place that has been my home for the past five months will now be their home for the next nine. 
I've discovered Dunkin' Donut's pumpkin coffee, on the recommendation of a coworker. It's a little sweet but sinfully addictive. A splurge that I find myself indulging in too often to really call it a splurge. 
With the wedding last weekend I haven't really had time to clean my car out (a weekly ritual) so it's a little cluttered and cramped. 
I could have slept in for at least another hour this morning and debated skipping my shower to get it.
A potential issue to be covered next time: Dating while living in a car.

September 9, 2011

My Brain Is Full

This may be the longest I have gone without posting since this blog began back in April!
Classes started this week (ahh!) and I am to that point of stress where you begin to involuntarily twitch. But today's Friday, so I can take a half step back and look back on the week as an "experience" rather than the hectic hell it actually felt like.
I left New Hampshire at 3am on Tuesday morning, my attempt to avoid the massive labor day traffic filing back into Massachusetts. It took me three hours to drive back to school and I arrived just in time to hop on the bus and get to work. 
The way my schedule is set up I have classes and if I'm not in class I'm working in the department, making copies, filing, and doing other oddball (low skill) jobs. This works really well for me because I can get 20 hours of work in with a 20 credit hour week.
Anyway, back to the story. Tuesday I ran around going to classes and by my 3pm class I was falling asleep in the back row. No what a professor wants to see. This week I've had
  • Spanish
  • Biodiversity
  • Victorian Monstrosities
  • Foundations of Education
  • Afro American Lit
  • Sociological Theory
I've also read The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes) and four essays for classes and written three pages. Ahh!! Next week will be so much easier. Stay tuned for my nervous breakdown!

September 5, 2011

Dover, NH

Dover is an old mill town that I have called home many times over the past decade. It's considered a city so it has all the modern amenities, like a park with a bandstand, the children's museum, great bars and a landscaped park. Dover boarders Durham NH, which is home to the University. As a result there are over 21 bars within walking a two mile radius and someone is always playing live music. If you're into the historic side, we have that too! The mill buildings are all standing along with displays about them. The first strike in America happened in Dover and also has the distinction of the first all women strike. It wasn't successful, but it was the first of it's kind and set the president for the New England mill community.

Here are some sites o check out if you come to town

Seacoast Children's Museum
Very cool, even for adults. Bring a child so people don't point at you and laugh

Kelly's Row
An Irish Pub that always seems to have something going on. Trivia night, a band, pool tournaments. It's always a good time

Orchard Street Chop Shop
Amature night

Harvey's Bakery
Cheap and awesome breakfasts aimed at the college crowed

The Brick House
Displays local art work and is often having concerts upstairs

Dos Amigos
The best (and cheapest) burritos around!

For more info check out the Dover events calendar!

September 4, 2011

Portsmouth, NH

I woke up at 3am Friday morning and drove to New Hampshire. Today, on the Tuckerbag, we're touring Portsmouth, one of my all time favorite seacoast towns.

This is a seaport and right across from the Navel Ship Yard. The town has gone through a lot of changes of the past century, but today it's a very small city with concerts in the park, Irish bars, quaint coffee shops, and blues bars.
Plum Island

Prescott Park
The Yatch Club
This is the site for most of the outdoor events in Portsmouth. There are gardens, fountains, and lawns to have a picnic.

NH to Maine Bridge

Portsmouth Music Hall
Great shows! Enjoy a night out with some of the best music and theater NH has to offer

Portsmouth Brewery
Great food and awesome local beer. If you like a good micro brew, this is the place for you. They even offer a sampler so you can aquatint yourself with the full lineup!

Strawberry Bank
Period homes from all over the state have been collected to make a mini village in the center of Portsmouth."Visitors to Strawberry Banke have the opportunity to experience and imagine how people lived and worked in this typical American neighborhood throughout four centuries of history. Through its restored houses, its featured exhibits, its historic landscapes and gardens, and its interpretive programs, Strawberry Banke tells the stories of the many generations who settled in the Portsmouth, NH, community from the late l7th to the mid-20th century." -  Site statement

The Press Room
A great jazz bar! There's always something going on

Prescott Park Fountain
So, check these places out if you're in town, it's a great area and a must see if your in New Hampshire. For more information and a full calendar of all the cool stuff going on in town, check out the Portsmouth Events Calendar


September 1, 2011

Vehicle Dwelling at College

I am amazed at the number of college students who are considering vehicle dwelling during their time in academia. I'm doing it, so obviously I think it's an awesome idea! Here's why:

Rent in a college town (even for just a room) is about $500 which is about $6,000 per year. In four years of college you're looking at $24,000 for just rent. Say that out loud so it sinks in. Twenty. Four. Thousand. Dollars. That's more than two years of in state tuition and you walk away with nothing! Here are some alternatives:
  1. Save that money and pay off your college loans faster
  2. Make payments on an RV instead of an apartment. At the end of the four years you'll own the RV
Parents: I'm talking to you! It makes good money sense. Whatever you choose you'll be walking away either richer or less in debt.

Students: We don't have much room in our vehicles so start looking at cutting down on books and other school related stuff. Here are some helpful links to save space and money.

Course Smart Textbooks
Take advantage of the electronic age! At this site you can rent your text books online for a fraction of the price of buying a physical book. Major pros:
  • All my books cost about $50
  • I can access them either on or offline
  • I can print pages
  • I can highlight and take notes in the book
  • Searchable!
  • You don't have to store books, just access them on your computer or Kindle
Seriously, totally worth it and a huge space and money saver

At a little over $100 it's the size of a paperback book.
  • Instead of buying my thirteen English books for class (Jeckle and Hyde, Dracula, Shakespeare, Etc) I get them all free. This easily saved me $100 in just one class.
  • I can read PDF files on it, so when a professor assigns readings they're easy to carry with me.
  • Let's me highlight and make notes within books so I can pull them up in class later
Zoho Online Notebook
Clunky binders filled with zipped pouches and lined paper are out. There are so many options for laptop based notebooks there's no reason to waste the space. I got Windows Notebook from a friend (normally very expensive), I love it but it really slowed down my laptop. Zoho Notebook is a free online notebook with all the bells and whistles of those expensive apps.
  • You can make it accessible to classmates
  • Highlight, make notes, draw pictures and diagrams
  • Attach files and URLs
  • Make to do lists

So, get an in town PO Box, find a good space to park, and go paperless. You can't have dorm room parties (parents: that should be a plus, right?), but you can visit. Most of your time will be spent on campus whether you want to be there or not. Invest in a decent laptop (which you should be doing regardless) and a van or RV. You can walk out of college with a degree and maybe not be in debt until you're fifty.
Say it again:
Twenty. Four. Thousand. Dollars.