A blog about living outside, first in my car, then in tents.

“Stop Whining!” (“On Gratitude and Suffering,” Part II)

Are you charitable? PART II: “Stop Whining” I feel gratitude because I have suffered. The greater my suffering, the greater my ability to appreciate that which I have. I am keenly aware of those factors in my life that have held me separate from greater misery and created positive experiences and emotions. So when I hear someone speak of someone else who is suffering by saying, “They should count their blessings and stop whining,” I experience it as what is sometimes called a “mind-fuck.” A mind-fuck is something that postulates one thing without acknowledging another factor that is also true and contradicts the first postulation. A mind-fuck twists logic, and often presumes multiple false...
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There but for the Grace of God (“On Gratitude and Suffering,” Part I)

I wrote this essay in 1999 while living in upstate New York. These reflections, from a time in my life that many things were working well, seem relevant to “Living in My Car, With Dogs.” I have broken the essay into four parts. PART I: There but for the Grace of God I have so much to be grateful for. So many people who have had the experiences of abuse, violence, loss, and mental health challenges that I have had are on the streets, or in a brothel, or dead of suicide like two of my childhood friends, or living the life of the dead see-sawing between heroin-induced haze and prison-imposed regret like another...
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The Price of Popcorn and a Donut

I’m sweating and its only 77 degrees out. My back against the car seat feels like I’m standing in front of a furnace or like my body is the furnace. My eyes kept closing for a second too long on blinks during the drive back from the city today. My upper back is contracting, the flesh and muscles pulling in on themselves. Getting out of the car my hip and knee joints feet like they needed an oil can. And I am SO tired I feel I could fall over. All this because two days ago I ate half a bag of SmartFood (popcorn covered in cheese) and finished the bag for breakfast the...
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Flat Tire Number…Three?

Flat Tire Number…Three?
Do NOT buy Fisk tires. Do NOT buy Fisk tires, at least not their Classic line. If they even make them any more. Last March I blew out a tire; it was a sidewall rip. I was overdue for new tires and had money from the bank relocation check. So I bought four new tires at Discount Tire (which as someone pointed out does not mean their tires are less expensive than elsewhere). For the first time in my previously privileged life I bought the cheapest tires available. I did not realize at the time that Fisk tires were proprietary (or otherwise connected) to Discount Tire, meaning I would have trouble finding them anywhere...
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Ranchers Not the Problem: Public Lands Management Is

Ranchers Not the Problem: Public Lands Management Is
Now that I’ve been better educated about ranching in a recent educational conversation with a management-track cowboy and a woman equally informed about ranching, I am going to venture some conclusions about cow pies, cattle and public lands management. Here are highlights of the points made by the man and woman with whom I spoke the weekend before last: When I stated my willingness to be educated about ranching, I noted that I like my grass-fed beef as much as the next steak lover. The cowboy informed me that the cattle on the ranges are not the cattle that get butchered for food. They’re the breeders. The calves become the food; adult cows make...
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My Car, a Spider’s Lair?

My Car, a Spider’s Lair?
Leaning into the car I saw it. Perched at the intersection of windshield and dashboard. The hugest spider I’ve ever seen within three feet of my bed. I did not stop to take a picture this time. (See “Do NOT Crawl Through That Open Window!.”) A while earlier, I had placed a folded towel just next to the frozen wolf spider’s position. It was the best “squisher” in sight. I slowly eased into the driver’s seat, positioning my hands, rolling the end of the towel, calculating how much terry cloth it would take to kill without providing too much cushioning. “I only have one chance,” I thought. I struck. I slowly pulled back the...
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Sleeping With Carlos

Sleeping With Carlos
Normally my big dog, Carlos, sleeps outside and the smaller terrier, Dwyn, sleeps in the front seat. That gives me the full back of the wagon for my bed, with both back seats pulled down. On occasion a reason presents itself that merits Carlos sleeping in the car. The usual reasons are a) Carlos is driving me crazy barking (actually he does this much less now, having learned greater discretion in distinguishing between a threat and an interesting noise); b) it is raining and I’d rather have him in the car than getting muddy and wet; c) a threat presents itself, such as a bobcat cry, a neighborhood known for mountain lion activity, or...
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Feeling (Falsely) Rich

Feeling (Falsely) Rich
In addition to my furniture, a couple cool lamps and vintage jewelry, I am also selling items that belong to a person who had a previous sale in the sale room, as well as some of the property manager’s items. Several pieces of furniture, including a large comfortable sectional couch, had been stored in a nearby room. We moved them into the sale room this morning, and customers gobbled them up. I sold a pair of bar stools, two end tables, two lamps, a hammock, a metal bird cage and more. I get a casual commission on the manager’s items, so I was not disappointed that none of my items sold this weekend. I...
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Tales from the Sales

Tales from the Sales
A local property manager has generously given me use of an empty office space to sell my furniture every Saturday and Sunday through the end of September. It’s in the L-shaped plaza across from the storage place, at the sharp turn in the highway. Here are a few stories and notes about the sale days so far: Sunday July 28: First Day of Furniture Sale I sold a necklace that I had held back when I pawned much of the rest of my sterling silver. I calculated I could get more for it by selling it as a necklace, and I did. At $20, it was my one sale of the day. I bought...
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