Posts Tagged ‘vandwell’

Tight Ass

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

So back in the day, in 2004 or so, when I was married to a Microsoft guy and still had snazzy health care, I finally went to a butt specialist doctorguy to find out why it had bled and hurt every time I took a shit since I was a teenager.

It had taken me about 10 years to realize that it wasn’t actually normal to go blind with pain when taking a shit, but if I am honest, back then, I really just wanted my prolapses looked at because they were embarrassing and messing up my slut groove. I wanted to know why I was developing flowery little bulbs on my asshole and get them snipped off.

I had been misdiagnosed countless times by gynecologists who told me I had hemorrhoids, but once I went to the ButtMan I found out that what I had was an anal fissure; a tear in my rectum that kept breaking open and hadn’t healed for a decade.

I made jokes for a few years after getting the surgery, a lateral internal sphincterotomy, in which part of the internal anal musculature is shaved off to deal with overzealous tension, that my problem was just that I was a tight ass.

And that was, literally, my problem. After years of pain and consistent constipation I had taken to both squeezing and pushing at the same time. It was a weird, futile attempt to both squeeze down the giant unforgiving logs I was passing and attempt not to rip myself open again. It never worked. And periodically, usually from a hangover or the aftermath of a massive meth binge, I’d get buttvomit that seemed to irritate things even more. It was, in a word, prettyfuckingawful.

I remember the first poop I took after the surgery, and how afraid I was that it was going to hurt even more. I was told to stay relaxed at all costs but I was petrified at how much it might hurt. I literally cried when it actually slid out pain free. I couldn’t remember ever having that feeling before. It was magic. It was such a fucking relief. I didn’t even know it could be like that.

Keeping the possibility of pain free shitting in my life was one of the catalysts for the massive undertaking which ended up being years of focused food experimentation and figuring out what actually fueled my body. Part of the reason I wasn’t in agony that day was based on my post-surgery diet.

It also was one of the catalysts for getting into psychotherapy the year after, leading down the lifelong path of ultimately addressing and acknowledging the years, and I now realize, centuries, of collective trauma that I had been trying to shut out with the drug and alcohol binges.

Eventually, my conventional therapy experience along with ‘alternative’ indigenous and grief related work ended up bringing me to where pooping is actually a release meditation for me. I release what no longer serves me through it. I visualize what I want to release or connect metaphysically with it, or choose a symbol to represent what I am ready to let go of and I literally shit it out of my body.

This was a practice that came to me organically (haha), ended up being how I kept my sanity after David raped me before testing positive for HPV and I was having dreams of thick primordial slime dripping off his insect-swarmed dick. I shit those infectious fuckers out every day, sometimes twice a day. My poop was my ally when both of the men in my life had fallen beyond short. It was glorious.

My poop is still my ally, but it’s telling me things I don’t want to hear right now. It’s been a month since I haven’t bled, I’m going every 4 days maybe, and it’s been since the shed that I was consistently regular. It doesn’t matter how much water I drink or how many fucking apples I eat, it’s like passing stones through a fucking esophagus every time right now. Because I am stressed, on the move and transitionary all the time. Like literally all the fucking time.

So here’s the thing. I get that I’m not the most happy go lucky person basically ever, and that right now I’m voicing a lot of the shit that’s really grating on me about the world. There are a lot of people who actually know me/have met me and recognize that the Facebook thing isn’t the totality of my existence, but a lot of you probably don’t understand that not only is this my venting space, it’s also my main source of superficial social interaction and release. I spend a lot of time alone, on here, or with people I don’t actually know. I spend a lot of time stressing and driving around. I spend a lot of time thinking really fucking hard about how I could possibly ever maneuver my privileges, my values, my talents, my passions and my needs with integrity in a world that often seems hellbent on molding me into something I’m not. And, lately, I spend a lot of time how I’m not pooping.

And like some of you who’ve mentioned lately, and thank you for that, what I am doing is not fucking easy. It’s not glamorous. It’s not stable. Freedom isn’t fucking free. There’s a reason so many people never break out of the status quo to explore the truth of themselves or the possibility of embodying something different.

Seriously man I just wanna fuckin’ poop right.

Saturday, January 9th, 2016

I will be the first person to caution fantastical daydreamers that I have not chosen an easy life, and I didn’t fit myself into a van on a whim, but after over a decade of culling and evolution. Even then the transition wasn’t simple or painless.

I had a couple breakthroughs the last two days: not only did I finally get my electro music set up semi-permanently, I also figured out how to get my makeshift dresser under the platform rather than in front of it while still being able to access the crates in the back.

I can do situps and downward dogs indoors now. It has been taking an impressive amount of time (6 months) and a lot of seemingly wasted days sitting with the van torn apart thinking really hard about how to get another square foot of usable space out of each culling, to get this far.

Not gonna lie; I cried a little. — and heartfelt gratitude for all of my patrons, without whom none of this would be possible. (Join us at

But I get to plan my cooking around when the sun shines.
I have the satisfaction that, even with how gratingly fucking annoying the ridiculous, inhumane factions of society are to me, the direction of my life is firmly aligned and pointing in the direction of my integrity.
I find joy to the point of tears in that first night sleeping on clean, fresh sheets.
I astound myself with being able to get by, even rather comfortably, using very few resources.
I am relieved to be living in a way that I do not rely on my relationship with one person or the employment of one company to sustain me.
I am amazed at how rarely I actually honestly need a shower.
I amuse myself with my creativity and ingenuity, even if the results of it don’t look very flashy or fancy most of the time.
I’m happy that when I am called to move on from a place, I can leave.
I am happy that when I am called to stay put, I have a place of my own where I can do that.
I am grateful for the perspectives I am shedding and gaining about comfort, about need, about boundaries and solitude.
I am pleased at how many people I am meeting and visiting that I would normally not get to meet or see.
I am impressed that, though my productivity isn’t exactly where I’d like it, I am still creating and performing art while transforming the way I live.
I am tickled by how simplifying has brought me closer to each of my needs and processes, from sleep to food to pooping in plastic bags.
I am proud of how often I accomplish the ability to do something I once took for granted, and how often I think to myself “hot damn, I think I might actually be getting the hang of this.”

15 things I’ve learned in 6 months (and counting) on the road

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

I’ve been on the road for over 6 months now. Here are a few tidbits I’ve learned.

  1. The single most important aspect of traveling long term in a vehicle is having a comfortable place to sleep.
  2. People as a whole are simultaneously much cooler in general, and occasionally also much more fucked in the face, than a settled familiarity might have you believe.
  3. Unscented baby wipes, while not entirely sustainable/earth friendly, are one of those industrial world things I am not going to give up. When dried out, theym ake great firestarters. Also: ALWAYS keep your extra napkins.
  4. A spray bottle of lightly fragranced water within reach is a godsend when you live in a van with no amenities or air conditioning, and are a great substitute for running-water showering. When it’s extra hot, like when I was working outdoors in Austin Texas in the dead of summer, adding about 20% alcohol to a bottle of water makes the cooling effect more pronounced.
  5. Trapping a sweatshirt in a rolled up window and driving around a bit does, in fact, do wonders for getting rid of the smell of smoke from ones clothing.
  6. A tiny bottle of lightly scented hand sanitizer works great for smelly arm pits between spraybottle showers, and has allowed me to use cancer stick deodorant very sparingly, generally only during ‘that time’ of the month when even two showers a day wouldn’t fend off the pitfunk.
  7. Keep every zip-lock bag that comes with anything you buy. Not only are they absolutely essential to making your first human poop pickup a bearable experience by giving you a method of hermetically sealing the doobag until you find a trash can somewhere, they are great for stinkyfood trash, storage, and keeping things dry in your ice chest.
  8. Have an ice chest.
  9. Keep grocery bags, too. They are good for trash, the aforementioned poop scooping incident, and also keeping the neverending trickle of things you realize you don’t actually need/want to give away organized. I have about half the crap I started my trip with.
  10. If you are a woman/penilely challenged, get yourself a pstyle. Changed my entire world.
  11. Thermos. You need one. Make it a good one.
  12. The dead of night is the best time to get shit done. Also night shift waitresses in 24 hour diners really appreciate people who are not being drunk assholes and sometimes offer to fill your thermos with road coffee for you.
  13. Hiking pack > Rolling suitcase.
  14. Grocery store > Fast food.
  15. Wherever you go, there you are.

Adios, Austin!

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Leaving with an expanded resume, a touched heart, my hands full of new helpful tech, and a head full of ideas.

Also I learned that sometimes there ARE good reasons, to water dirt.

Get updates at

Nearing the Bosque

Saturday, August 29th, 2015

As is per usual for my cycles of things, I’ve spent the last two weeks or so in a weird funk, anticipating the next stage of my life, which has me leaving the van behind with friends in Texas and traveling to Mexico.

“So I’ve noticed a lot of procrastinative anxiety and difficulty articulating the source, even though I can sorta tell what it is.

And I get the sense that if I can get it out somehow, even imperfectly, that maybe I’ll feel some movement happening with the energy that’s been sitting in my fucking large intestines and backing me up doubled over in gas pain periodically for three days now. (I HATE WHEN MY BUTTHOLE BLEEDS ARGH takes FOREVER to heal stupid giant hardass shit..)


I know that I write about stuff and talk about stuff and seem to be pretty clear and focused about looking at my own uglyass faults and dipshittary, but it’s hard. It hurts. Not like it used to when I was mostly uncovering the horrible crap I’d pulled in service to my unconscious avoiding bullshit, but it hurts. Worldviews are sacred and delicate, and even though I do challenge mine periodically, getting there fucking sucks. For every goosebumpy triumphant blog post imbibed in clarity and direction you may have read, there were weeks or months or more of petulant, painful fucking suffering to come to terms with what I wrote in it.

So, here’s the thing; for the last year or so I’ve been really focused on unpacking my role in a structurally oppressive hierarchy that favors, on a systemic basis, people who look like me and/or choose to maneuver socially the way I do. I can fill out spreadsheets and have a nice phone voice and charm people at social gatherings, I can easily look fitting for success, I am fluent in basic technology, I have a lot going for me — if I want to play the game, I can play it.

I’ve recognized I really don’t want to play it. I really just want to tell the whole system to fucking fuck itself, I want to dig a hole in a mountainside and never set foot in a city again, I want to be off the grid, I want to create a tribe with a new social order, I want to unplug, and I want to leave this entire festering pile of colonized bullshit behind.

In fact, in these fantasies, I don’t much mind if the way I do that equates to tearing the whole fucking thing down entirely. And in many ways I do think I am an abolitionist, but we’re talking like, bombs and shit, which in reality, I’m really not into. I’m more into tearing the system down by refusing to participate in it and starving it, and on many levels, my peeling away my belongings, getting out of residing in typical housing, and giving myself the freedom to move around has been a part of that life trajectory.

But there’s a thing, a nasty little thing, that keeps bugging me about this phase in my life right now. An aspect of my ‘privilege’ I haven’t really dug into, yet. The part where I grew up in tech, have tech at my disposal, and rely on tech as my avenue to receive my income — and simultaneously fucking hate it and everything I’ve come to see it standing for.

I can’t find the words to properly illustrate how uncomfortable I am — how uncomfortable I’ve been, under the surface. As I am looming over my trip to the Bosque — a move that was rooted in my desire to shed, to leave tech behind, but quickly became about my bringing tech and my technical skills to help the social reach of the forest expand and grow — it’s boiling over, hissing out from under a shuddering lid.

I’m unable to ignore the symbiosis, the reliance, how intrinsically the net and computers are a part of me and have been a part of me, how fucking privileged that makes me, and how deeply fucking conflicted I am about it. How fucking disgusted with myself I am that I use Apple products of slave labor whether they are handed down to me or not, that in attempting to extract myself from the machine my entire livelihood, even more so, revolves around using, leveraging, and myself slaving over technology that represents, to me, so much of what is profoundly, disturbingly, hopelessly fucking wrong; What is, quite literally, fucking destroying *everything*.

And I’m just really not fucking ok with it, right now.” — Facebook, Aug 25th

Just like the process I went through when I was choosing to leave Seattle and all the shit I was deciding that meant, I’ve been going through that again lately when processing my temporary move to The Bosque.

And, just like the process I went through when I came to a point where I broke through all the worry and displacement and inner voice naysaying that accompanied my new mobile life, I’m coming to the point now that I am starting to trust that I’ve actually got this thing maybe.

“I don’t think anyone will understand what I am trying to create until It has been created, and even then it will evolve.” – Brian Fey, regarding new ways of communicating, documenting and publishing The Bosque.

My response? “Proof of Concept; it’s a thing for a reason.”

I realize that is what I am doing, here. My proof of concept that I can survive, thrive, make a difference, live, and find some form of solace by doing things this way. I have to remind myself that this is brand new. I left Seattle 3 months ago. Each new step is a challenge in so many fashions, confronting my views of myself, my limits, what it is I need, why it is I chose this for myself.

I googled images of Patzcuaro, the small Michoacán town nearest The Bosque, for the first time today.

It is beautiful.

Next up: The Bosque Village

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

The conversations have been had, the mutual admiration has been expressed, the values and goals are well aligned, the time is right, the action item list is soft drafted. I’ve the plane ticket and the passport renewal submitted in plenty of time (presuming no catastrophic postal issues) and am thus ready to let the population at large know what my patrons have been hearing for a while now – after having Brian Fey and his amazing project on my radar for many years, my next adventure begins in September, in Mexico, at the Bosque Village.

A good page to familiarize ones self with what the Bosque is:

The Bosque facebook page:

Patrons will continue to get my personal experience and musings/updates about my travels. $5 a month at gets you all the updates and the opportunity to support what I am doing, directly. Sign up, and spread the word if you would. My goal is to break 35 patrons before I depart in September.

A large part of my contribution to the Bosque will include video production, process documentation and social media, in addition to faciltating music, art, movement programs and of course, hands on learning about sustainable forest living.
Between my personal projects, philosophical musings, and the work I will be doing to contribute to the Bosque specifically, I expect to enjoy a very rich and busy rest of 2015.



Saturday, June 27th, 2015

I used to think I would never find a place I belonged.

The lonliness filled me to the point that for a long time I didn’t even have the energy to wander anymore, looking for it, literally or figuratively.

I’d talk myself out of going anywhere I felt I might find my place before the possibility could take shape.

I talked myself out of distancing from people who I could feel saw me as projections of their fractured selves and believed they were smarter, better, and more worthy than me.

I struggled against a rising tide to stay where I was, even as it became clear while the life I’d built for myself fell away piece by piece that it was time.

For years, opportunity and the damn near limitless directions I could take overwhelmed and paralyzed me. And it seemed as though no matter where I went in the world, no matter how well my skills or personality fit into a certain group of other humans, I would never be free of that feeling; I don’t belong. Anywhere.

So in a way, it didn’t matter what the fuck I did. But I had to do something.

So I decided to belong to myself, even though I only felt it part way.

I decided before I was ready, before I really believed, that I had to figure out a way to believe that the possibility of belonging was someplace other than where I was told it was, where I had been encourage to look for it.

I decided to give up most of what I know the majority of the people in my life to work their entire existence stabilizing. I let go of things that I know friends of mine lose sleep over getting, having, and keeping.

I gave away massive amounts of expensive possessions, one of a kind art, things that had defined me for decades.

I flew the nest I’d spent 17 years building and tending as it smoldered behind me, wrought from the merciless determination of a universe demanding transformation, and I left.

One thing I’m quickly learning after doing that, one thing that keeps coming up for me as I look around Texas and camp and experience myself in this environment, is that I don’t actually ‘belong’ any more here and now than I have in any other time of my life.

Yes, it’s true, this camp is strangely well suited for my natural theatrical gifts. And yes, it’s true, the recycling mentality in Texas makes me actually cry sometimes. It’s a mixed bag. Seattle was a mixed bag, too.

But the path to belonging, that feeling I thought meant I was so close to having belonging for myself for so long, was actually control, and dominance. I felt I belonged when I was in charge, when I was leading, when I was on display, and when I was in power.

I learned a long time ago that sort of ‘belonging’ was not only fleeting, high maintenance, and high anxiety — but that I didn’t feel very good about myself once I was dethroned, either. The mist that rationalized the oppressive nature of my height and status, and the grief of having worn mask after mask to maintain the facade that I enjoyed it, once gone, paved a view of someone I was deeply ashamed of.

Belonging is something I now know as a learning.

It’s something that helps me grow, expand, and something I take with me in my soul when I move on.

It’s not popularity in high school, it’s not being the better half of a beguiling power couple, it’s not running a nonprofit — belonging is a muscle I work, that gets stronger and stronger when I am where I should be, experiencing and connecting in ways that feed my soul.

So much has changed in my life. Almost everything. But those changes aren’t why I belong where I ended up.

What’s changed is me.

I belong with me.

Road update from Denver

Friday, June 5th, 2015

This is going to be quick, because I’ve spent most of my limited tolerance for computer time editing images and uploading them for print.

Basically, in the last few days I have discovered: It is difficult to get same-day automotive service in bumfuck, the brakes have stopped shuddering and are probably loose again (but the van still stops — go figure), my poop is sorta normalizing, Wyoming is surprisingly fucking awesome, I am in love with cooking outdoors, I pretty much hate big cities right now, I still love the hell out of a good storm, my back hurts from stooping over all the time, everything I thought about how to effectively pack the van was wrong, main highways are for suckers, THEY STILL MAKE JERKEY STUFF?!?!, I can barely go an hour on the road without wanting to stop, BLM land is wonderful and showering naked outside is equally as wonderful, I am not a very good wildlife photographer (or maybe I just don’t have a good lens for it?), Yellowstone is FUCKING AMAZING and is also a fucking pain in the ass to try to stay in overnight, I stay hydrated much better when my gigantic boobs are full of water, and for now, in amazing weather and a laid back timeline, I am very, very happy to be on the road.

Some pictures:

And a video of where I cooked, ate, and enjoyed my leisurely breakfast yesterday, without another soul in sight:

Road update from Bozeman, MT

Monday, June 1st, 2015

I’m back on the road as of Sunday, after spending a full week staying with friends in Spokane. I mostly rested a lot, took many baths, ate ice cream, and hung out. Van life is also a lot more comfortable now that I got the windows tinted. NW Solar in Spokane did a great job for a reasonable price.

I got about half my mp3’s off of my NAS onto an external drive during the time I was on a network, which I will do pretty much nothing with for the time being because the van only has an AM/FM radio. But I have more readily available access to music than I did before so.. score?

In art news, on Friday, almost one week later, I played the house show I didn’t make it to the weekend before, for a tiny audience of three. Matthew Winters of The Bight joined me and played a bit. He’s an impressive solo artist and super nice dude. Check out his bands music if you are like me and missed them at the Volume Festival this weekend.

IMG_6432 768w, 261w, 688w, 1536w" sizes="(max-width: 550px) 100vw, 550px" />I also finally got a chance to hang out and have lunch with Dreadful Jonquil of Fiercelocks, formerly of Seattle and now of Spokane. We’ve collaborated artistically in the past but had never had a chance to just be together. It was really freakin nice.

I’m also having more brake troubles with the van. I got them checked in Spokane after an uneventful second drive out, to be told that the holding pin on the left rear drum brake had apparently popped out (and that they’d never seen that happen before) and my left rear brake hadn’t really been braking at all.

They also said that in 14 years of brake work they have never heard of, and can’t imagine how, an adjustment wheel would be responsible for freezing a brake in mid-transit, and suggested that the people at Tire Factory told me that’s what happened to cover up something they fucked up.

Regardless, my rear brakes were adjusted, again, and off I went with a supposed clean bill of health, again.

Now, when I brake at high speeds, the van shudders like it’s going to shake itself apart, and I can feel the rear brakes catching unevenly. I can avoid this if I use up about half a mile to slow down (so that’s what I’m currently doing). Today, rather than puttering through Yellowstone as I’d planned, I am trying to find a brake shop in Bozeman or perhaps Livingston to get the rotors properly measured and examined and likely, replaced.

[insert dead happyface with dollarsign eyes]

In my bodywork/healing practice, the definition of progress is often the act of chasing down a moving problem. I’m sorta looking at this brake thing like that. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t ready to not be having these issues, though.

Speaking of which, my health has been a little off lately (and what would a blog entry of mine be without mentioning poop?). I’ve got a pale clay color going on, indicative of a problem with bile secretion, and I am fucking -tired-, basically all the time. I also ate pretty badly this last month or so, and I’m not in a lot of pain, but it’s another thing, like my brakes, and like the sag in my motorcycle tow carrier, that I am tracking closely.

IMG_6473 1024w, 460w, 688w" sizes="(max-width: 550px) 100vw, 550px" />
Montana is fucking beautiful in the springtime, btw. I spent many hours yesterday driving south of a gorgeous storm. I could see lightning in the distance for most of the way. It was so cool I couldn’t stand it, and stopped to stand on top of the van and take a panorama video for my patrons.

I also took a few pictures at Old Mission National Park in north Idaho that are available as prints.

The journey that began thrice

Monday, May 25th, 2015

Originally, I was planning to leave for Spokane last Friday, giving myself a whole day to prep for the house show I was to be headlining in Spokane on Saturday.

Alas, a 3 hour brake job ended up taking all day long on Thursday, setting me back and causing me to be working late on other elements of the trip. It took forever because my emergency brake light was stuck on. They checked and checked and checked, and had gotten to the point of tracing wires and dealing with electrical, convinced that it was not a brake problem.

By 5:30 I said fuck it, and just decided I would pull the damn handle before I moved the van ever, and call it good until I could get down to New Mexico to hang with my pal who has a shop (and who I will be doing work on the van with anyway) to figure out what the stupid electrical problem is.

And of course, the tow equipment I ordered arrived late Friday evening without all the proper hardware I needed, so it was a somewhat stressful pain in the ass to get put together, too.

By the time I was planning to leave on a 5 hour trip Friday evening, I still had some things to deal with in Seattle and I was a deep fried shade of worn out tired. So much tedious shit had gone wrong I was walking around muttering ‘skullfuck’ most of Friday afternoon. So I decided to leave Saturday morning, rested, instead.

That was the first time I didn’t start my trip. No biggie.

Take II:

IMG_6413 1024w, 460w, 688w" sizes="(max-width: 550px) 100vw, 550px" />

I left around 11am Saturday morning, driving by that fuckass eyesore inconvenient ass canoe fucking sadium for the last fuckass time in a long while, commemorating my pleasure at this by snapping a picture while I waited at the light.

Not long after North Bend, I started having the roadtrip feels. During my first solo road trip in 2011, the surge hit me as I was maybe 20 miles south of Seattle. Pearl Jam’s “I’m Still Alive” came on the radio.

I hadn’t heard it in years, but that trip was all about confronting the darkened hallway of my past in California. I didn’t understand exactly what I was in for at the time, but I did sense that song was the perfect floodgate opener for what would come in the weeks later.

This time it was about 20 miles outside of town again, east this time, listening to Keep Going, when my cover of Heavy in Your Arms came on.

Like the Pearl Jam song, there were a lot of applicable layers to why it hit me like it did. It’s a fresh wound that’s also been salted recently. And like the Pearl Jam song, there is hope there.

I recognize how I anchor myself stationary in order to ‘be’ with people. How heavy I HAVE to make myself to justify doing that, how hard I lean in to them because of it. And I also recognize how much I received from them while I stayed. I recognize how much I still miss some of them, sometimes. A lot, sometimes.

But mostly I recognize how done I am with all that shit. I cried out my doneness. I cried out the regret and the pain and the loss and the missing. And I let in the goodness and the openness and the raw cold air taking its place. Just like I’d done with Pearl Jam, when I’d finally gotten done being anchored by my heavy past life in Sacramento.

Mixed in with the missing and the hope and the exhilaration was a sense of relief, of freedom. Against many odds and my own resistance and fears, the van was packed, running, stopping, full DOT inspected, puttering down the road. My motorcycle was softly swaying on the tow carrier and I had alternative, maneuverable, affordable transport other than the huge van. Just that I was here at all proved I could count on myself, and that I could trust my instincts well enough to ask and receive from people.

I started smiling through my tears. I started feeling the excitement. I started believing in the possibility, in the adventure, in all the shit everyone ELSE has been so excited about while I’ve been making big asks, and doing a lot of physical and soul grinding work to make this actually happen. I started believing in the positivity of my choice to leave, not just the necessity of it. I started having faith.

And then I smelled the smoke.

The first time, I figured it was the semi next to me, burning some brakes, like they do. I recently saved a friends van transmission with my nose and insistence that we pull over in Maui, so even though I thought it was likely nothing, I rolled my window down and sniffed and paid attention. Then the smell went away.

..And then it came back, right next to a road construction site another mile up the road or so. I wanted to believe I was smelling something in the air, but as my friend Neil so elegantly taught me not long ago, while wandering a crowded area with a friend, if you smell the same fart twice, that means it’s your friend farting.

In that teaching moment, I was the farting friend, in case you’re wondering. And in this case, I was pretty sure I was the farter by now, too.

Trouble is, I had no shoulder and nowhere to pull off for another 3 miles or so. The smell was getting worse when I opened the window. It took me a while to figure out my cab was filling up with a delicate haze of white smoke. And my brain kept spinning back and forth between believing it was me and thinking it was some horrendous tire fire or something somewhere.

As if I didn’t know tire fire smoke is black, or what burning breaks smell like. Stupid brain.

I finally pulled into a rest area, went to the semi side, got out and popped the hood. Nothing. The smell wasn’t even very strong now, mostly in my scarf and clothes. Then I took a look down the passenger side of the van and saw this:


I wasn’t particularly worried — I have AAA, I’d mentally prepared myself for breakdowns of many types, expecting things to go wrong. I wasn’t expecting them to go wrong on my first day, with a system of the van I’d just had worked on two days ago.

I knew it would take forever to get a tow (I was right – 5 hours), and that I was too far from Spokane for that to be my destination, so I cancelled my performance immediately, thankful that the house show organizer had found a couple of openers and the show would still be great without me (it was). Then I started trying to figure out wtf went wrong.

At first, I thought it might have been the weight of my motorcycle on the back. That was the only thing that was different from yesterday, when I’d eaten half a tank of gas driving that damn beast around running errands, and the back of the bike made for the load to be slightly heavier on the right side.

I know how ridiculous that sounds NOW, but at the time I had decided I wanted to take the bike off the tow carrier, turn it around, and try to make it the 30 miles into Cle Elum without waiting for a tow.

I walked around a bit and asked a couple truckers to help me get the bike off the rack (it’s not possible for me to wrangle it off myself). Once we got the bike off, one of them asked me what was up with the van, looking at my tire pensively.

We talked a bit about what happened, and soon thereafter I had confirmation from three separate people who tow shit for a living that there was no way the bike caused my breaks to seize up. We tried backing the van up to release the brake adjustment, which we confirmed was stuck slammed to the inside of the drum.

I suppose you could say the van moved.. If two inches of strenuous lurch and then locking up again under a tremendous amount of engine torque counts as moving. I tried both directions. Both back wheels were stuck as fuck. Which begged another question — why wasn’t the left back wheel of a rear wheel drive vehicle, which wasn’t brake seized, spinning?

Thus began the wondering of whether the ebrake was stuck on, perhaps the cable broke while I was driving or something. Plus that stupid light being on. But that seemed unlikely, given that I’ve left my ebrake on before (who hasn’t) and it’s more of a lagging kind of thing rather than a seizing up kind of thing, and I felt nothing while driving. I thought maybe it could have been the ebrake, and with the drag at 60mph for god knows however long I was driving, maybe I’d friction welded my breaks or something.

“You got a jack?”
“Well, I’ve got tools. And I don’t have anything better to do, my pick up got cancelled and I’m stuck out here til Tuesday. This sort of thing happens to our rigs all the time. I’ll bet we can get this fixed”

The plan was to get things cracked open to see if I’d thrown a spring into the brake which had gotten stuck, check the shoes/see if I’d need to ride over to Cle Elum to get parts or not. So my new friend Marcus started working to get the wheel off and the brake cylinder open, while we talked about what could have caused the seize and what to do next.

*bang*bang* .. and the break cylinder open. *pry* … and the break cylinder open? … *tap taptap* OPEN SESAME, FUCKING BREAK CYLINDER!!..

Or, not. Not is fine too, I guess.

By this time, I knew I was getting towed back to the place that had done my break job, Tire Factory in South Park, and I’d be spending another night in Seattle. In fact, Owen eventually worked out a way for him to come in the next morning (Sunday) to get me back on the road, so I didn’t have to wait the entire holiday weekend.

That sounded about right, to me. I was convinced this was their problem, anyway. In fact, I was pretty pissed off, especially about that brake light, and letting them convince me my breaks were fine while the fucker was on. I was handling it super well, though. Like someone I didn’t really know very well.

Like someone who knew they could count on themselves, maybe.

Many hours, a nap, and much conversation later, including two more people coming over to see if I needed help/drinking water/etc, and my tow driver stopping by to let me know his person before me needed a tow to Tacoma (4 hours! yay!), Eddie from Cle Elum towing showed up, for the second time, to rescue Vandwell.

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Day 1: Spent at a rest stop outside of Cle Elum, waiting for this. Rear right brake (which was adjusted along with other brake work two days ago) stuck and burned to utter shit over the pass, van won’t move. Met many helpful people, was actually a pretty enjoyable day all considering, perhaps a blog post about that tomorrow. For now, lotion on my increasingly roughed up hands, an unexpected extra night of KEXP radio, van tea, and sleep.

PS: Loretta’s in South Park for breakfast around 9:30, if you want the in person version, or are curious what fried brake smells like, cause everything I own smells like it now.
I will quit you yet, Seattle. (And sorry I am not performing tonight, Spokane)

Her name is Vandwell now, btw. And as she was pulled onto that tow bed by a metal rope with a skid under her back paw, I saw her big pretty face for the first time, a little sad, a little scared, a little sick, and I realized: I love my van. I love my big stupid rusty gas guzzling van. That, and also there was something in my eye.

I also noticed that with the skid, passively, all three of the other wheels were rolling, and the ebrake caused a noticeable change/lurch when Eddie took it on and off. So, no ebrake sticking there.

Eddie and I took my tow carrier off the van, since her fat ass took up his ENTIRE tow truck bed, and ratcheted it to the bed floor near the cab. I rode the bike back to Seattle, into the sunset, as it were. I beat Eddie to the tire place by a few minutes, hung around while he dropped off the van, got the tow gear back on her big dirty butt, and wished him a safe drive home.

And that was the second time I didn’t start my trip. Somewhat bigger biggie.

Take III

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I didn’t sleep very well that night, in a deserted parking lot BY THE RIVER (y’all happy now?). On Sunday morning, Owen rolled in around 9 and started getting to work on what I felt surely would be a much bigger deal than he seemed to think it would be. I was thinking for sure I’d friction welded my breaks dead and I’d be in Seattle another fucking week getting them fixed. But hey.. better than Cle Elum where I don’t fucking know anyone, right?

I started wandering around to find a place to get breakfast. The place I wanted was closed. I met an artist rapper named Kaev on the sidewalk. We walked for a while, chatted philosophy, drugs, trust, art. Sat in the Subway for a bit, until I gave him the $4 he asked for to cover the gap between what he had and the sim card he wanted. Then he disappeared. Funny how that works.

Did you know, btw, that if you stop in at Subway really early in the morning and order a cookie (so you can kill time in their shop, being the only place open at 9:15am on a Sunday in South Park), there is a possibility they will tell you with a crinkled nose that those cookies are from YESTERDAY, as if you wouldn’t want them? And when you say, well, how about selling me two cookies for the price of one, then, they might look over the entire case of cookies, about two dozen maybe, and offer to sell you the whole fucking batch for three bucks? Cookies have been on me ever since. YMMV.

Since I was back in the area, my friend Chris, who walked me through making the brackets for my bedframe last weekend, met up with me to get breakfast. Around the time Loretta’s was about to open, I got a call from Owen, asking if I was ready to hit the road.

I stammered a little, cause actually, I wanted breakfast now (that wasn’t cookies), and I was a little shocked that it’d taken less than an hour. Incredulous even. I had questions.

“You got the cylinder off?”
‘Yep! Needed a chisel and hammer, but yeah, it came off. Those semi’s, they’re big, they use big tools. I’ll bet what your friend had just wasn’t small enough to get in there.’
“Wait.. the pads are still good?”
‘Yep! You caught it early! They’re still super thick.’
“And the spring is still there? It didn’t break/get caught?”
‘No problem with the spring. Your adjustment wheel just froze up. I had to really work at it to get it loose’
“I’ll be right over. Do you still have the wheel off? Can I see?”
‘I can totally take it back off for you and show you.’

And show me he did. The shoes were, in fact, in darn good shape. There was a fresh coat of shiny metal goop on the adjuster mechanism that I found out was lubricant. He also told me about how neither wheel would move under engine power because the right wheel is always the drive wheel, so the left wasn’t trying, either.

I got under the van and looked at the star wheel through the adjuster hole and was taught how to use a screwdriver to adjust my breaks if they ever lock again — which they shouldn’t. But, as is made clear by the existence of this story, sometimes shit happens.

Slowly and surely, it was coming back to me, how much I liked working on my own cars when I was a kid. I started remembering my drum breaks on the Superbeetle, how I’d change my own muffler, and how I’ve periodically been thankful for my Dad teaching me about tools and cars when I was younger.

Chris, Owen and I put the bike up on the rack, and said our goodbyes.

The moment when I put Vandwell in reverse and she MOVED was very exciting, indeed. We were back in business, and while I wasn’t thrilled with losing 60 miles of gas, I was very glad I’d taken her back to Tire Factory and gotten complete with them, without being charged, or having to wait for the holiday weekend to be over, even. I gave them a chance to take care of me, and it worked out. Otherwise, like if I’d gotten towed to Cle Elum instead, I might have been farther along in my miles, but I would have been out more money, and stayed pissed at those guys for a good long time.

I took the opportunity, since I was in Seattle again, to hit up Ballard one last time to pick up my NAS, which I’d realized I’d left just before this break shit went down. I was getting low on gas, the needle had hit empty, and I remembered still having about 6 gallons left the last time it’d been there — plenty to get 9 mostly-highway miles away to the Safeway by the shed for the cheapie gas. Right?


Not only did I run out of gas, like full on engine death out of gas, I ran out of gas … on 99, in the battery street tunnel.

For those of you not in the know, it’s a two lane one-way tunnel with a 40mph speed limit where people regularly do 60+, with zero shoulder in sight, an onramp/merge point about 50 feet past the tunnel, and a concrete median between lane directions once you’re in the daylight again.

In short: A motherfucking death trap. Even if I could have gotten out and pushed, it would have been a level of stupid I just won’t go to anymore.

I can still hear myself mumbling encouragement as my dead full ton van full of everything I own in the world rolled along like a fucking steel whale in the dark. Just a little farther, boo, and we’ll be heading slightly downhill. Maybe we can get off the highway and onto Harrison if you have enough momentum, big girl. Hoo, that’s not looking so likely, creepy mccreeperson. Just get us out of the tunnel, then. Keep rolling until we’re out of the tunnel.

I came to a stop a few car lengths outside of the soul eating dark, with my hazards on, and my eyes unable to stop watching in my rear view as people blasted out of the hole, seeing a horizontal motorcycle hanging off my ass end, gears in their heads turning, changing lanes around me.

First things first: I called 911. I never call 911, and honestly, I was pretty cool and focused about this whole thing. I knew what to do, that I wasn’t getting out of my car no matter the fuck what, and that I had AAA and I’d be covered (if you don’t have AAA, fucking get it.).

But I did use 911, because that was the quickest way to get the information I needed to get to the people I needed to get it to rather than trying to fuck with my shit cell service to look up numbers. Besides, I knew I was about two freaked out drivers away from having the cops called on me, anyway.

I am in a very large stalled vehicle in a very, very unsafe location. I said, yo, you need to know I’m out of gas on 99. I’ll call AAA after you, it’ll be a quick fix, but I have no idea how quickly they can come to me, and when they get here, they’re gonna be a sitting duck in the road (my gas tank is on the drivers side, and I was in the right lane where I’m supposed to be). You might wanna get someone down here. Like, now.

I called AAA for the second time in as many days which is as many days as I’ve been on this fucking ‘adventure’, and get an estimate ‘within the hour’, but I’ve been red flagged, so it should be less than that.

Well let’s fucking hope so.

I settled in, continuing to watch Rear View Roulette in some weird abstract fascination. Being a holiday weekend, traffic was fairly loose. I wasn’t bogging anything down save for maybe two or three cars when someone had to actually stop and wait a few seconds to get around me. But it was steady, always cars coming.

I remembered hearing that they generally ticket people for breaking down on the bridges and wondered if I’d have to deal with any shit when the cops showed up. I hoped since I wasn’t actually fucking traffic up they wouldn’t think about it.

At one point, a big truck changed lanes smoothly behind me, seeing me in plenty of time — but the Car to Go that had been tailgating that motherfucker blind barely, barely missed my bike.

Every time a large vehicle came up on me slowly, I fantasized that they’d stop, hop out of the car with a gas can and come ask if I just needed gas.

I wondered if maybe I should make a cardboard sign that says “Need Gas!” and keep it in the car, cause, despite the encouragement from my friend that I keep 10 gallons of it with me in the cab.. that ain’t gonna happen.

Then my phone rang.

“Hi, this is Mikey from AAA.”
‘MIKEY. How far away are you man.’ (in my ‘I have a sense of humor AND this is fuckin serious’ voice)
“I’m about 5 minutes away. Are you past the denny onramp? Or before it?”
‘I am just outside the tunnel, before the onramp. I’m blocking the right lane.’
“Ok. I will be there soon. Hang tight.”

5 minutes. Ok. Cool.

About two minutes later, a giant truck pulled up behind me. I watched in the mirror as the door opened and showed a big WSDOT on the side. Then I noticed the light bars — not tow lights. MOVE THE FUCK OVER lights. They started blinking bigass arrows toward the left.

The tension broke and I laughed. FOR ME?

The driver walked to my passenger side, I shuffled over (the van is so wide, I can’t adjust the rear view mirror while sitting in the position I drive in.. it’s like two steps to the passenger side) rolled the window down and let him know AAA was close, and thanked him for showing up so quickly. I wasn’t sure what they’d be sending, but I was really pleased it wasn’t a cop, which is what I guess I was expecting.

I really don’t like cops. Not because I have anything to hide or reason to fear them, other than not having the money to pay the damn tickets they write, but because the police as a system require a bunch of brainwashed (in the best cases) uniformed oppressors masquerading as service workers. The institution of policing is one of the most violent dirtyworker tools of the imperialist capitalist colonialism bullshit I fucking hate about America that’s infecting the rest of the world. Their jobs exist, and have always exited, to bully and injure and kill a demographic of people I have come to care about, and many Seattle police have fucked over and hurt and maced friends of mine. Upon first glance I pretty much fit the stereotypical demographic they’re supposed to ‘protect’ (rich/not obviously poor, white) but I don’t trust them, I don’t think we as a society need them, having them around makes me nervous, I can’t pay their fucking ransoms, and I don’t like dealing with them basically ever. Which is kinda why I don’t call 911.

But I’m glad I did, in this case. For me, it was the smart thing to do, and having that truck on my ass felt like the most direct protection I’ve had in recent memory. I was in a bad way and someone flat out had my fucking back, no question, literally, standing up and in the way for me. I really felt the bigness of the truck, the power in the engine, the magnitude of that signal saying, fuck off, get out of the way, heed, we’ve got this. I felt covered. It was good.

I’ve had a lot of support from a lot of people in recent weeks, amazing support. And, I didn’t realize until I wrote this, after having some rugs pulled out from under me by people I thought I could trust to stand the fuck up for me and help me when I’d fallen flat on my face, how much I needed to feel something just like that truck at my back.

And then a second WSDOT truck came, stopping behind the first, and I chuckled again. YES I AM THAT GUY. I AM THAT FUCKING GUY WHO RAN OUT OF FUCKING GAS IN THE WORST POSSIBLE PLACE EVER.

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I called Mikey back to let him know I had a posse behind me now. He said he was almost there and he had an officer with him. I had a flash of a cop in the cab with him waiting to fingerwag me and write me expensive tickets. I pushed the thought away and decided I’d play that as it came.

Mikey showed up a few minutes later, escorted by a police car with lights on, who rolled right past us and kept on his way. Mikey got me my gas, shared a few commiserating words (He has a suburban that likes to run out of gas before empty — I just didn’t mention I actually WAS empty :P), was helpful, fast, and friendly, and did in fact completely avoid getting run down in the middle of the street just as I’d suggested.

Mikey left. The WSDOT guys smiled, waved, told me to have a good weekend. I was moving again, about 15 minutes after I’d stalled in the tunnel. I got back to Ballard and picked up my NAS, filled up my tank, and went on my way toward Spokane.

I stopped at the same rest stop, which will be closed permanently in two days, to get a healthy picture of Vandwell, pleased to not have been inhaling break smoke getting up there this time. It’s really a shame, save for the Bonneville Salt Flats rest area, this was by far the nicest one I’ve been to.

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I caught up with Marcus in Ellensberg for lunch, still hanging out waiting for his next pick up of hand sanitizer or apples. “I wish I’d thought of lube!”, he said. Indeed. :P

And, I stopped at a scenic overlook, walked up (and down) a bigass hill in flip flops to snap some pictures.

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I’m now safe in a little attic in Spokane in my friends, Craig and Mark’s, house, who have been fans of my music from the beginning. I played their house a couple years ago for their wedding, my first house show ever, and here is my home base for the next week or so, complete with a bath tub that I am using indiscriminately, along with the ridiculous selection of bath sauces Mark picked up for me knowing how much I dig his tub.

I’ll be getting the glass tinted in the van on Friday and after that, be continuing on my way, potentially camping a night in Coeur d’Alene. I’m thinking Zion, after that, but the for-sure part is that I’m heading south, toward Los Almos, and what is sure to be a prime selection of problems to solve, working on getting the AC functional in the van.

Here’s hoping I’ve gotten this good batch of teaching moments and calamities out of the way, and I’ll have mostly smooth sailing for a while. I was shocked at how tired I am today after all that excitement and problem solving and learning. Which, it turns out, I’m remembering, I’m actually quite good at.

Also; My stupid parking break light? Still on.

It’s been a long time since a blog post took 4+ hours to write. Time for another bath, I think.

A place to lay my head

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

Over the last two days, with the guidance and collaboration of my friend Chris, I used a hacksaw, a jigsaw, both a table AND hand held grinder, an oxygen torch, assisted with two types of power saws and a drill press and all sorts of other shit I don’t even remember, in order to make metal brackets and holding pins for the wood base of my platform bed, which utilizes the seat rails that are already in the van and is totally removable.

Grinding metal (on purpose) is fucking awesome. I am glad, regardless of the things that aren’t really ideal about this vehicle, that I got the chance to play with some power tools again — and I’ve never worked with metal before. Sparks and bending red hot torchassed metal rod, FTW. I wanna do more of it.

It had looked like, and I had hoped, that I would be upgrading to a shuttle bus before leaving — however, that didn’t pan out, and the pre-bedframe part of me was kinda ticked off about that. Now that it’s done, more space creation and organizing energy is moving, and the van seems less cramped and oppressive than it did yesterday.

I kinda wanna make a table that attaches to the frontward seat rails, now…

*whistles innocently*

Friday, May 1st, 2015

I’ve broken through. I’m done with the fear phase.

I am so fucking glad I am getting out of the cycle of modern capitalist society.
I am so fucking glad I will no longer have the weight of paying for a stupid fucking building on my shoulders.
I am so fucking glad I will no longer be fighting tooth and nail to gross $20k so that I can actually net $5500 after taxes, licenses, continuing education, and fucking expenses in order to make that stupid money.
I am so fucking glad I am done writhing in the grotesque in-between place I’ve been festering in for YEARS resisting leaving all this absurd fucking shit behind even as it’s been crumbling around me, begging me to fucking wake up.
I am so fucking glad to finally be feeling some fucking sovereignty and some fucking freedom.
I am so fucking glad I am getting the fuck out of here.
I can’t fucking wait.

Amazon Wishlist for van buildout and basics:
Patreon link to help, and follow art and music updates on the road:

Trip Brainstorm

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Been thinking about places I want to be heading when I hit the road next month, and how long I might actually be gone, where I might want to be during winter, etc.

Some places I am going just to check them out, some places I am going because I have a friend or two there, some for specific reasons. Here’s my latest ever-shifting soft itinerary.

Seattle to..

Spokane, WA (house show)
Boulder/Denver (friends, cuz)
Grand Canyon (cuz)
Sedona, AZ (cuz)
Los Almos, NM (friend)
Austin, TX (friends, AND SUMMER JOB!)
New Orleans, LA (friend, just cause)
Wetumpka, AL (friend, with a FARM!)
Jacksonville, FL (friend)
Savannah, GA (recommended)
Asheville, NC (art!)
New York, NY (friends)
Woodstock, NY (friends)
Boston, MA (friends)
Madison, WI (cuz)

If I were to hit them all in the timeframe and seasons I anticipate, and if after that I return to Seattle, I’ll be gone roughly a year.

But who knows, really.

Tiny dreams hit the road

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

As part of Year of the Nee, I’ve recognized a few things about myself that I’d discovered at one time and then lost again. Things like an affinity for dinosaurs, and reading fantasy and sci-fi books.

I’ve also gotten back to music by making a very focused album (the whole thing is about patriarchy) in a way that I haven’t approached creating albums before.

I’ve come to accept that I miss performing, particularly after performing in Los Angeles during Amanda Palmer’s ‘Art of Asking’ tour, and that I want to do a lot more of it somehow. I periodically miss Little Red Studio, theater which laughs in the face of the fourth wall, and being part of a troupe.

I’ve also come to accept that I need, desperately need, to relearn how to have fun again. I’ve been saying that, but I’m getting it now – I am fucking dying over here without that shit. YotN showed me how imperative it is that I relearn how to relax for the joy of it, not because I am in an isolated burnout from the weight of the world. One avenue toward that is to reconnect with my skills as a performance artist in a way that also helps people — like what I had set out to do when I created Vita, but with way less weight and responsibility.

And I really, really need to be out in nature, more. Less media. Less internet. Less fucking ‘stuff’. More rest. More air. More dirt. My hatred of capitalism, my horror at the declining state of the world, following politics, following activist movements, trying to fit in with this fucking society.. it hurts. I gotta get rooted in the basics, get grounded with being an actual part of this living rock rather than an earth raping meatsack alien invading it, or I’m going to lose my fucking mind — and I need all the practice at that I can get.

All these things have been swirling around as I’ve been working within the status quo I’d created for myself around making a living and maintaining a private healing practice in the heart of a gentrifying city.

I’ve been wondering how to put it all together, melding past and present interests, sticking as close to my ideals and what I want to support in life as I can and still manage to eat. At the same time, I have become aware of how fatigued I am of doing it all myself — maintaining my own office, putting on and producing my own shows, etc.

It seems this summer, I may be getting a little taste of what all that might look like — just as I was finally, finally letting this life of mine as it stands now, go (and completely fucking freaking out about it, frankly).

It all started when I put some ‘home’ savings, which I’ve been clinging to for a year now, where my mouth has been, and bought a friends van to live and travel in. Nothing particularly hospitable for that purpose, mind you, but something with enough room to carry my gear and art supplies around, small enough to park anywhere, big enough to crash in.

That set in motion the desire to set something, anything concrete really, to actually travel toward. I’ve been planning to leave the area near the end of May, when Shedlyfe has run its course, but hadn’t had a specific destination in mind. I had ideas of what I want to be doing (busking, sleeping, playing open mics, visiting old friends, meeting new people, checking out healing and arts communities), but not where. Mostly I’ve been kinda suspended in this super uncomfortable what the fuck am I doing freakout place without actually having a vehicle to do any of this stuff in.

One thing lead to another, and I found myself planning to visit a couple friends in Austin, TX as part of my trip. As circumstance would have it, no sooner had I pinged my friend about when would be good for her, she asked if I would want to hang out in Austin to do a job.

For two months of the summer.
At an immersive literary theater camp.
For creative, booklovin’ kids.
Where I would play a 3000 year old androgynous storytelling singer poet.
With a story outline, and tons of improvisational interaction.
In a realm created in a series of fantasy books for 6th graders.
Which is rooted in greek mythology.
Wherein the 12 year old protagonist is dyslexic and has ADHD (both of which indicate that you might be a demigod).
In a state park.
For money.

Um. Yes.

Yes the fuck I would.

Sweltering heat be damned: Camp Half-Blood, here I come.

The support of my patrons at Patreon is how I am getting to Texas to do this (and eating, and filling the van with gas, and basically living, period): Thank you.