Thursday, May 28, 2009

Back to Kansas

I've traveled a few thousand miles to be here. And, here is so fundamentally good and soul restorative I find myself having trouble wrapping my brain around it (much less trying to put it into words).
So rare are the moments when I wasn't able to articulate something (read: I never shut up) a
nd since I've been pretty elusive in my tweets and status updates, I'm going to attempt to bring you up to speed and NOT lose you in the details.
The shortest story I can think of goes like this: A few years ago everybody I knew started to die, within a couple years everybody was gone but my kids and a couple of faithful friends. But, in the three years that it took that holocaust to pass, I'd buried my mom and my dad and more beloved memories than I've ever cared to count.
The best and only response I could come up with was to sell everything I owned (but my guitar, laptop and cell phone) and hit the road. I really didn't care all that much about much at all, and it had become abundantly clear that that which wouldn't just freakin' kill me forgodssake, would just make me stronger.
With a completely unfounded belief that I was unstoppable, I traveled. Then I traveled some more, and a little bit more for good measure.

I've met so many people and seen so many things, that I can only smile a bit and shake my head from side to side.
Seriously. For real.
I think it's imperative that we all step outside our comfort zones, and my adventures have proven that we are all way more resiliant than we think we are.
I a
m a horrible homeless person. I can suck it up and do the stiff upper lip thing as good as (well, technically: MUCH better than) the average bear. But, I simply can't ask anyone for anything. It just kills me. So there was that.
And then recently I remembered that I could write well enough to sell that talent, and not everybody can do that. Some people do algebra, some knit - I write. I did what I've done for 3 years: Craigslist. Long story short, I'm sitting in a 70 year old limestone building in Perry, Kansas. I am now paid to be a Marketing Director.
I can drive the old red Dodge beater truck with a manual transmission. There's a sweet bro
wn lab named Rachel that comes in and I can pet her and throw her sticks.
Out the front door the trains roll by
with certaintity, out the back is the Delaware river (no mamby pamby river either, it's way bigger than the Arkansas.) Go a mile either of the other ways and it's nothing but milo and soy and fields of tart prairie grass. There are a lot of guys on tractors.
If I'm so inclined, Lawrence is just 20 minutes away and there are all kinds of attractive things to be had there.
There is a herd of Red Deer (wh
o look just like Reindeer to me) and they're having babies. I've heard of the sheep, but have yet to see them. Supposedly it's not the best lamb you can eat, but it doesn't suck either. I learned that you can't wrangle deer, you have to trick 'em. That could be fun.
The concern for whom I write is a well-established family business and it reminds me so much of what
I knew and learned to love growing up in a family-run business. I can swear AND take showers here. I have a room and a soft padded place to lay my head at night.
Just up the street is the Perry Bar and Grill where they still allow smoking indoors. On Thursdays they have $5 steak nights. I don't even like steak, but I'm really looking forward to Thursday next - my son and his wife and my perfect grandson are meeting us there for dinner. And, I have never in my life been so grateful to know that I can buy them all dinner.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ode to the Hobo

As far as I can tell, through countless hours of research, there is no definitive line that separates the Hobos from the Homeless. The statistics (which I consider to be somewhat outdated) indicate that on any given night here in America there is between one and two million people sleeping on the streets, in boxes tucked away in alleys and in the drainage ditches available in almost every city in the country.
From my personal research, I've found these misplaced and discarded humans to b
e considerably more generous and beneficent than the average middle-class American. They've given me their last ten or twenty cents and I've returned the favor every time I have any change in my pocket (which, much to my dismay, is not all that often anymore). The times I've felt unsafe have been few and far between.
I am beginning to believe that the disparity between privilege and poverty is most clearly defined by the kindness of those who've known poverty.
Back in the day (the late 1800's) the very first Hobo Convention was held and a code of ethics was developed that still holds true today. I believe the consequences of our economy have increased the homeless/hobo numbers ten fold (at least) and there are now new considerations and symbols.
I am a hobo who travels
with a laptop and a pre-pay cell phone. I have had great success in finding free wireless in every city I have jungled in, thanks to warchalking.In addition to those symbols, there is a whole new set of symbols that make it easier for the modern day hobo to identify safe harbor from danger.
The vagabond lifestyle is not something that I'd wish for my best friend, but it has provided me with an entirely new perspective on our culture and our priorities.
While there are times that I miss owning stuff (clothes, electronics and a cat) there are more times that I am ridiculously grateful to know that I'm not a burden to my children.
Should you see a homeless, humble and dignified person in your path, don't go out of your way to avoid them. Even a smile given freely to someone sitting on a street corner can make a day so much better.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day Eve

This is that night when we set out a plate of cookies and a glass of cold Whole Milk.
If we go to sleep early, she'll show up.... looking like Jackie Kennedy.
Moms all across America are thinking they will get roses or breakfast in bed or a phone call.
Maybe chocolate... maybe beer.
I miss my mom.
Almost every single day.
She was all that and more.
Happy Mother's Day.