Protected: 18 Wheels -A road trip through the mind

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Find The Fall

Interstate 90 is an exercise in patience. Just take a look at map and trace the entirety across the country with your finger. If anything, it’ll beg you to stop. The diversity of scenery you’ll witness between Boston and Seattle is too much to really comprehend, Everything from a cold looking harbor to another cold looking harbor (with a Ferris wheel). Somewhere in between you’ll see the massive expanses of South Dakota and the snore fest that is Indiana. You’ll also be whisked through big ole cities like Cleveland and Chicago.

This week, I’m featuring a “name the location” that will be somewhere along the I90 corridor. Hints include:

1) Although it looks massive in the picture, this waterfall is only 269′ tall and require only a short walk from the parking lot.

2) Over 1.5 million people come to take a peek at this site, although the actual park is only 2 acres large. At some periods of high rainfall, the falls are hardly visible due to a blinding mist caused by a rise in the river level and the increased speed of the river itself.

3) The deadest giveaway is simply to say “The Owls Are Not What They Seem”

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Last week we had two correct guessers (close enough for disco, in my book, selecting Denver/Aspen area. The picture of the black eyed susan is actually in a large field across from the alleged entrance for Hunter S Thompsons ranch in Woody Creek, Colorado. Taken in August, 2017, the weather was perfect for snapping photos and site seeing. I’d recommend visiting nearby Aspen and taking a gander in the deluxe lobby of Hotel Jerome. Absolutely beautiful décor mix a modern and classic motif beautifully. Take the extra five minutes and go all the way to the rooftop that overlooks a beautiful panorama of the nearby mountain range.

Pictured below are a few snaps from my visit to the hotel, the what I would call the “highlight” of my trip to Aspen.

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I’m going to start a new fundraising effort with each weeks “name that location”. I don’t want any of the money, but I’ll find a good cause and share with you weekly. If you’d like to donate to the cause, I’ll include a link for you to directly donate OR you can click my picture (to the right, on desktop) and donate to the Paypal.

This week I’m going to donate a chunk towards the sweetest little girl (and her mom is amazing) that I’ve ever met. Sam is an incredibly bright and creative little girl that is absolutely oozing with positivity and potential. Her mom, is just as incredible. A few years back, I decided to check myself in voluntarily to a recovery center for my excessive drinking. She came through, knowing very little about me, except what she had heard from mutual friends, and brought me a huge bag of brand new clothes, underwear and personal care needs that I would have otherwise not been able to get. Sara, in by book, is an absolute angel, and her daughter follows suit.

Sam, the precious daughter, is selling Girl Scout cookies. After sharing a link via private message with friends, Sara reached out to people to see if anyone had interest. It being a group message, you were able to see everyone else responses, and I was stunned. People were so self centered they thought only of themselves and said things like “No cookies, I’m keto” or “Sorry, on a diet.”

What the actual fuck people. You don’t have to buy the things, it’s about helping a little girl accomplish her goals and learn about small business. This isn’t about your new years resolution, this is about instilling pride in a little girl and encouraging her that she can do whatever she sets her mind to, and knowing Sam, that’s a hell of a lot.

If you don’t want to eat cookies, or don’t want to pay the whacky shipping fees, select the option at the top of the page, where you can buy a box or ten of cookies to be sent overseas. It’s more or less donating a lump sum. Click the link provided below and share some love. I’ve put in my order, you should too!

Link:

Buy some cookies from Sam and help her achieve her goal!

 

The Book Review that Never Happened

“Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.”

John Locke

With the momentum of a mudslide after a rainstorm, I dove into the self inflicted challenge of reading 19 books in the year 2019. The first book on the list, by chance, was 100 Things Phish Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, solely because I got it for Christmas. Last year I received a book or two as gifts and they sat on my shelf, instilling false confidence in me. You see, much like an old timey library in an old timey house, I had shelves lined with books that I hoped people would look at and think to themselves “whoa, she’s well read”, knowing deep down I hadn’t read them all. I was cheating myself. All of those pages wanted to be read, and I found distractions to keep me from reading.

I think in 2018 I read two and a half books, Crime and Punishment (which should have been three smaller books) and 3/4 of The Brothers Karizmov (which should have been a series of short stories). I enjoyed them, especially the axe murder part and the prostitute aspect and the imagery of gardens in The Brother, but they didn’t really didn’t get my momentum going to keep reading. I’d pick up The Brothers and have a feeling of anxiety, knowing that I wasn’t really having fun with the reading. It was like a chore, and I don’t like chores. I didn’t even have them as a kid, why would I self inflict them as an adult. As I sit here, I have a pile of unfolded laundry on my bed, not because I’m lazy and don’t want to fold, but because I don’t see the urgency of folding right this moment. That’s the same lackadaisical attitude I took towards reading. “Eh, maybe it’ll come out as a movie.”

100 Things, was different in a way that can only be assimilated to Classic Rock Radio. Place yourself in a situation, perhaps when you were in your teens, you listened to what your parents listened to, and didn’t really appreciate it. You more than likely rolled your eyes at it and thought “gee whiz, Mom, why do you have to listen to such square music.” For me it was my mom listening to Supertramp. I had no appreciation for the talent they had (argue if you’d like, if you’re not a fan, but a band that can sell out stadiums has to have some sort of talent). I had totally forgotten about Supertramp until I was driving the work truck and it came on the classic rock channel. For some reason I felt like I need to pay it a little more attention. The songs seemed more pertinent, and the vocals seemed larger than life. I needed to hear more. I was hooked.

Much like Supertramp was the anthem of my Moms early twenties, Phish was mine. My first listen was in 1999, the apex of the Phish scene, according to band members, the book, and others in the scene. I was young, full of angst, and without a single thread of musical taste. Friends were listening to things like The Spice Girls and Britny Spears, I wasn’t going to do it. I couldn’t do it. Upon hearing a teenage cover band doing a rendition of Birds Of A Feather, I knew I found my band I knew that was the path I was going to take. I wrote papers about the album Lawn Boy for a creative writing class, I did a computer animation for the song Fee in my creative technology class. I was in deep. I continued to follow for the next fifteen years.

Long story short, I was in a relationship with a person that had no respect for personal tastes of anybody but himself. In his eyes, Phish was a music that only people that were whacked out on drugs would listen to. The songs were too long, and in his words “you’d have to hit your head on a rock to make this tolerable.” In an act of what I thought was compromise, I shelved my Phish and tried to forget that I ever listen to them. It wasn’t easy, and I was stupid for doing so. I found myself listening to Hair Nation, not by choice and ignoring music all together. It wasn’t until my pilgrimage West, to Oregon, that I was able to really dive back into Phish. With nobody to tell me what was acceptable to listen to, I feasted on the 20 minutes jams for four days straight. Colorado ’88 was my anthem.

Diving into the 100 Phish Things book reminding me of the liberation I felt, not only as a teenager when I first listened, but when I started listening again. Back when I started listening, I didn’t know a single thing about the band, aside from the liner notes. Over a decade of listening to them, left me with not much more knowledge aside from personal experiences at a few concerts and what I had read on the internet. After reading the first ten pages, I new I was in for a ride. The superficial knowledge was blown out of the water with in depth comprehensive information. The writers break the book down in to smaller, digestible pieces which made for easier absorption of information. I flew through the book in no time at all, sometimes laying in bed with a glass of wine and one of the live Phish albums playing in the background. It was an excellent way to blast into my reading goal.

I’m not going to pick the book apart and critique it, however. The appreciation I have for the art of writing is far beyond being petty and picking apart someones writing style. Much like fashion or landscaping, I have high opinions and don’t feel it’s fair to compare my taste to others. The only disconnect in the entire book was the fact it was written by two people and at times it didn’t seem like the other person knew the co-writer wrote the same thing three chapters prior. Otherwise it’s a seamlessly fun book that reads like an adventure novel, it puts you in the front row with the chompers and the rail riders. To people that aren’t into Phish, however, it’s probably only good as a paperweight. I loved every second, and learned a few things, most excitingly part was learning that Phish was 40 miles down the road when OJ Simpson made his famous chase. Stuff like that, which is important to me and useless to others is why this book is good. Very good.

Much like my reintroduction to Supertramp, my reintroduction to Phish was met with a new sense of appreciation for the music. I listened to Phish as a teenager and young adult, and the reprieve brought me a new excitement for an old band. My mom still listens to Supertramp, and I can’t blame her, it was a part of her. Phish was a part of me, and now, armed with 100 reasons why (actually a hell of a lot more) Phish is the band it makes me want to listen even more. Knowledge is power, and upon reading this book, I feel empowered to quit my job and follow Phish on the road. Immerse myself in the Phish culture, become one of them.

I couldn’t leave my little buddy though.

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Guess That Location

This site has gotten a bit on the boring side. The Philosophical babbling got a little dry and the eating disorder/psychological side of things are under control. The drinking is abated and the excitement of being on the road and car clubs have dried up. What’s the point of keeping a site? Does anyone else care?

It doesn’t matter to me, anymore, in the big picture of making a difference in peoples life through changing how they think. That’s not going to happen. So I might as well make it fun!

So here we go, I’m going to show a photo that I’ve taken, include three clues, and let you guess where in the world was Nikki. I haven’t decided on a prize yet, perhaps a customized blog post all about whatever topic you chose. It’ll be fun, and it’ll get me back into writing about things out of my comfort zone. I’ll do it every Monday.

Where was Nikki Chapter One:

Clue One: I’m at an elevation of 7800

Clue Two: The lowest priced single family home on the market in 2016 was $599,000

Clue Three: The Founding Fathers Name Was Jerome Wheeler

Please, this isn’t meant to be a “who can use search engines the fastest.”

Also, please share! You might not know, but someone you know might! Help me spread this little contest! You can respond your answers to this page by clicking the comment button or email me at pepitaweed@ gmail.com as well.

Here’s the snap:

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A Picture is Worth A ….

Not a penny, actually. I’ve been taking snaps seriously for about eight years now, and not once has a photo brought me a single dime.

It has, however created a canvas to jump onto and create a painting with words. Every picture that I’ve taken, good and bad (selfies aside) can tell a story. I forgot how much I enjoy shooting still life. Adjusting the snaps ever so slightly to compensate for my uneducated photography eye, and share. I used to put my snaps in the newsletter.

Maybe I need another newsletter.

This is my first serious snap in a long while.

Enjoy.

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It’s Official! Third Book Is Released!

I’ve teased you.

I’ve mislead you a few times.

Hell, to be brutally honest to all involved, I’ve lied about it! Enough of that, we’re not dwelling, are we?

Back in, maybe January (?), I promised that I was going to be publishing part two of my 18 Wheels: A Road Trip through the Mind book. I had momentum and was a fury behind the keyboard. I sat at a plastic folding table, earbuds in drinking Sierra Nevada Torpedo in copious amounts. The only thing I managed to make was a beer spill on my keyboard and babbling. I tried, without much success, to doctor it back into a readable form but that was a bust. I was actually pretty embarrassed. That wasn’t the sort of writing that a “professional” writer would make, and that wasn’t the drivel that I wanted associated with my name.

Sadly, I thought back on when I wrote my very first book. The amount of editing that went into that piece was minimal at best. It was not, however fun to write. It took too much out of me, and maybe that was what actually made it a good piece. The topic, however, had a very small reader base and although few copies were sold, I feel that it was well received. My “writers voice” was a bit skewed, however. At the time I was taking copious amounts of antidepressants simply because I was dwelling so much on the topic I was writing about. The more I tried to heal other people and my self through writing, the worse I got.

When I decided to write my second book, it was about 8 weeks into being on the road full time. I hadn’t touched a drink in weeks and was starting to develop an idea of what I wanted to be as a writer.

“Know who you are and what you represent.”

Satch Carlson

All the while those words bounced between my ears reminding me never to lose my identity. That first draft of my new book “God, Beer and Sundays” wasn’t even close to my inner voice. I didn’t try to fix it until my head was absolutely clear and my heart was into it. So, this morning was that day. It was like giving myself an early Christmas present, and then realizing that it’s a gift for everyone.

Notes before reading

Remember, this is part two of the book series. It’s not really going to make much since if you didn’t read the first book, which you can see and read here:

It’s on a Kindle format, and you can easily download the app for free if you don’t have it already. Also, there is a version that allows you to read it right on your computer screen too. Either way it’s not going to cost you anything more than the book cost. If you don’t agree or want to use Amazon (which takes a cut anyways) you’re more than welcome to shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to send you a PDF format for printing. Heck, you might want to do that anyways. Either way I want to make sure you get it in whatever form is conducive to your reading enjoyment.

The new book doesn’t have as cool a cover as the last one, but don’t judge me on it. My graphic design abilities have absolutely gone to the wayside since my departure from South Pleasantburg Nursery. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about how much I miss doing the cyber geek duties there. Maybe someday I’ll be able to find another gig that allows me to flew my creative muscle. Until then I’ll have to freelance.

Same everything applies to this book .It’s actually a pretty easy read, starting with tour truck drivers humble beginnings. I’ll keep the rest a secret.

So tip back an eggnog with me and celebrate number three!

The Saddest Story Ever Written

“Once I was checking to hotel and a couple saw my ring with Blues on it. They said, ‘You play blues. That music is so sad.’ I gave them tickets to the show, and they came up afterwards and said, ‘You didn’t play one sad song.’ “
Buddy Guy
Did I use the quotations marks right? Did I site this correctly at the bottom of the article? Does it have enough buzzwords to make it click worthy and does it have enough content to attract readers but not too much to detract them? And at that moment, I turn away from the keyboard and delve into mindless drivel including cartoons on FX and a constant stream of memes on social media. My attempts at freelancing via pay-per-article sites and assignment driven services have been futile. I couldn’t care less about writing about the best gluten-free restaurants in Provo or how some nameless female revolutionized blood testing. It just hasn’t been my bag. I wanted to be able making money at it, but I couldn’t sell my soul just to make money on such junk. Even the most eloquently put piece, written by Hemingway for instance would be garbage if he didn’t care about it.
That’s exactly where I hit a wall. I was searching for an outlet but none seemed like a good fit. I wanted desperately to write, but there didn’t seem to be a single place that would read what I wanted to write. A flash of inspiration came from a more than excellent friend of mine that requested my creativity for a newsletter that is a subsect for a club I used to be an esteemed part of. It was an assignment, and I tackled it like a free donut in a breakroom of a company that doesn’t give you a Christmas bonus. I saw it as an exciting opportunity to poke back and see who was still listening from that group. At the same time I was flattered at the thought that people might still want to read what I had to say. Either way, I bit hard into the wafer of writer goodness and choked. I had developed a complex. Nobody really wanted to read, so why write?
Because it’s an art form, it’s an extension of a thought process that would otherwise be ignored. It’s a manifestation of whirling ideas in a mind that would otherwise be lost in a dream state at night. They’re words that are mine and mine alone, and your approval, rejection or lack of acknowledgement is not in my power. For far too long I was afraid of rejection while writing, Maybe it was the nasty hate mail that I got from assholes while writing for the club, maybe it was just lack of positive reinforcement for good pieces. Psychologically I was trying to fill a void. Philosophically I was trying to find my place in relation to the world by poking at the general population and asking what they thought. The responses dwindled and nobody gave feedback. Fingers fell silent.
Why I felt like hopping back on the keyboard is beyond me, but I am and trying to make a more solid commitment towards writing pertinent pieces and bringing some sort of light to people who may be in the dark. Format is going to vary, but am making a commitment to expanding the horizons of anyone that might want to read.
So, seeing as how it’s the holidays, why not regale the populous with the saddest story you’ll ever hear. A story that will question humanity and if you could ever love again.
“Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make his tail wag.”
Kinky Friedman
Anyone that has ever had a pet, dog or otherwise can relate to the connection that you feel with another creature. It can be a reptile, a fish, hell, I remember there was a coworker that had a guinea pig that she’d had since high school (so the damn thing was ancient). You go home and see their little face, and something pumps in your heart and your brain sends happy juice. Even when they’re little son of a bitch bastards, they’re still our little buddies. If you’re a good human being, you should love animals.
There are people that don’t, and they suck. I can’t defend them, they just don’t. I witnessed my neighbor kick drop a puppy, him being three times bigger than me I let my fingers do the talking and called the authorities. They still have dogs, I’m sure they still have a mean streak, but I didn’t what I could to stop him from doing it ever again. That isn’t even the saddest thing. I’m painting the portrait of human compassion. Loving something that can’t give you anything but love back.
Sitting in the passenger seat of the work van, tired of the day, tired of my job, tired of most things in life, I turned towards reading the plastic signs attached to the telephone pole next to the road. Signs promised yard sales, roof cleaning, and some guy named Jimmy that wants to buy my house for cash. Then, at the bottom of the stack of the signs was a picture of a sweet black doggie with one little ear sticking up and a floppy one. He had a big old doggie smile and I could see a curved tail indicating that he wasn’t just smiling for the camera, but wagging his tail for it too. He was missing, he had ran off from his family as they dined at the adjacent Texas Roadhouse.
It took me back to the several million times that our little buddy ran loose through the neighborhood. He would dart in between fast traffic and drink out of scary puddles. He’s bark at the scariest dogs in the neighborhood and scoff at any attempt at being retrieved. We’d have to chase him with the car at up to 30 miles an hour until he pooped out. Every single time he got out there was nothing that would keep me from scouring endlessly until he was back at the house. Typically he’d come home, dehydrated and dirty and always looking a little guilty, but never did he get scolded. We were disappointed in him, and his Houdini ways, but he was still an excellent doggie. Tail wagging.
Reading that sign I was reminded of that helpless feeling of not being able to find him and sympathy for the family that had lost their doggie. I, however, found there doggie. Less than four feet from where the sign was posted, there he was. Tail wasn’t wagging, smile absent. A casualty of a four lane fast moving road. The irony of that same dog, laying underneath that sign was crippling, and I was choked up thinking of it. Knowing the family had posted the sign with high hopes and the dog probably trying to return back to the last place he remembered seeing his family was sad. Everything was just sad.
The next day we passed by that same spot. The dog was gone, the sign was gone, but the memory remained. I’ll forever be tattooed with that vision, that dog.
jim

Snaps, shots, and surprises

“If you write something, and you believe in it, you’d like to see sixty million people moved by it.”

Nelson Algren

The fear of parking my ass in front of a keyboard and actually pounding keys has been a crippling feeling lately. All truth being told, I’ve been avoiding all sort of metal exercise, solely because I felt a sort of choke collar around my neck. It’s a new feeling, a feeling of drowning and choking at the same time. Gasp for breath and choke a second later. People have called it many things, writers block is not one of them. For a person that loves to be poised with fingers at the ready wanting to barf words onto a screen using fingers, I know writers block isn’t the term for it. Confidence was the issue, I knew there weren’t sixty million people wanting to read my stuff, actually, I’d be surprised if six people read my junk.

But then again, the internet is flooded with people looking for attention, grasping at a piece of that sixty million. How Nelson Algren came to the figure of sixty million I’m unsure of (however I’m damn sure that almost nobody, maybe one in a hundred have heard of him). It’s a pretty suitable number to wrap your head around, though. There is a lack of quality context and a flood of context for the sake of making content. I have a blog/YouTube Channel/Twitter account/Instagram….you get the point. Nelson, buddy, I wish you could see what you’re missing out on. Your figure of sixty million wasn’t too far from the truth, but back in the 20’s, when you threw the figure out, it was probably absurd. That many people all wanting to be heard and have attention. I’m struggling with this, as any serious intellectual probably should.

I was defeated by it. I wasn’t going to compete, self esteem at an all time low and my willingness to sit down and try to spew forth philosophical dribble was even lower. I did not, however, turn to chemical refreshment, the pal in my pocket. No, it wasn’t going to help, I wasn’t going to sleep my way through this informational a-pocky-clipse. I had to wait till my mind was good and ready, and my heart was there. My heart was starting to ice over and I was beginning to be concerned with an absolute freeze over and expulsion of all creativity from my brain. The internet was killing me.

“Every natural human urge has been thwarted in one way or another, so that some cocksucker gets to make a dollar off of your guilt.”

Frank Zappa

And the cocksuckers are making plenty of pennies.

At the apex of a turning point in life, many of us find ourselves crashing into the preverbal tire wall of self worth. You’re acing the course, at least that’s what you feel like, you line up your turn it, hit your mark, gently guide in to hit that glorious apex and then, wham, you’re neck deep in a wall. That’s what they want, they want you to have to buy tires, new cars, a neck brace. It’s an odd parallel to draw, but stick with me. The race track isn’t much different from the track of life. Rare, if ever do people want to let you pass so you can be better than them and place better on the track, same goes in real life.

There are sixty million people that want to see you succeed, however, you only meet maybe three of them in your entire life. It’s not your fault, it’s a big freaking world. It’s easy to become defeated and bury your head in the sad sand, aka, the internet. Which, today, actually became a good place for me to be…enter Frank Zappa.

“There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

Frank Zappa

A friend, vicariously through the great creation that is the BMW CCA, posted this on his feed. I love scrolling feeds, however, I don’t read much. Typically I look for cat videos and pictures of dogs. This isn’t due to my lack of intelligence, it’s actually the opposite. The internet is full of people arguing, and when an argument occurs behind screens, where people can copy and paste emotions, it’s a waste of time to read most of it. *most* I saw this post, and I had a sucker punch moment, almost like it was a sign from Nelson Algren himself (you’d think I’d say Zappa, but I’m sure he’s far busier in the afterlife).

I leapt from my second hand store rocking chair that my mom bought me for five bucks in Burlington Wisconsin….and I toted back to South Carolina, in a tiny One Series BMW….with luggage for three. (I’m territorial of my rocking chair). I went to my fiberboard bookshelf that has long been sagging and grabbed my copy of The Real Frank Zappa Book, a book that I’ve had since maybe 2001. I read it, and handed it to my sister, six years minor, and honestly didn’t think much of it at the time. Ten or so years later, after we had both moved out of the house, I went back to visit and found a few books. Bukowski, Palahunik, Zappa, Thompson, Algren, and an odd Capote (that nobody read). I took them with me, never opening them up.

Today, however, I popped the front cover of Zappa and found a sweet pile of pictures that my sister had stashed away. A sweet one of us as kids with a baby bird, pictures of her friends, a picture of her at a Mexican restaurant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (I took that one, I remember). I’m not sure if it was the tangible paper between my fingers, the book itself, or nostalgia, but I had a gripping feeling of completeness. I was onto something that wasn’t the internet (ironic…seeing as how I’m using it as my medium right now).

I tore into other books, seeing highlighted passages and makeshift bookmarks. Dogeared pages that I scoured wondering what the pertinent passage was. So many pages, so many sheets of paper flipped over. So many ideas that permeated young minds. These were my guide books, flight patterns, goals.

In one book, my original copy of Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas, I found my ticket stub from when I skipped country (yeah, not even town, but country) to visit Morelia, Mexico to be with the love of my life at the time…long story short, I don’t live in Mexico now, lesson learned. I wouldn’t take that back for the world though, however, somehow I forgot all about that adventure.

Another book, another set of memories, not so much mine, but my sisters. In Sex, Drugs, and Coco Puffs, I found some of her PETA literature. A pamphlet with a bunny on it. I didn’t read, but I’m sure testing and Hasenpfeffer had something to do with it. It wasn’t my journey, but I shared it with my sister. I remember that, and I might not have, had it not been for paper remnants in an old book. Memories on Facebook have nothing on an artifact found between to sheets of literature.

“Plastic soldiers in a dirt war.”

Jim Morrison

I dug deeper, grabbing books left and right until a pile of photos fell out that took me from my intellectual slumber into full blown writing rage. I remember the day/night like it was yesterday and forgive me if I ever forget it again. I was at the height of my intellectual insecurity, hosting a brunch for people seventeen times more educated than I. A professor at Duke, an incredibly esteemed English teacher, a PE, and, well, Malcolm. I served made from scratch Beef Wellington with paired wine and cheese. I had emergency snack rations for afterwards, God forbid the beef be tough. I wore my most modest dress….okay, let’s be honest, I wasn’t myself. I think they picked up on the scent because everyone was uncomfortable.

My blessing actually came from the high level photography that I was doing at the time (again, I forgot that I even did that). On a tour of our home, Malcom and Sarah were blown away with a few of my pieces and asked if I had them in a gallery somewhere. The answer was no, and the tour went on. They saw my  binder and folders full of information about my new to me E24. Turns out Malcom had one back in the early nineties. Sitting around the living room, conversation got dull until I offered up a beverage…bourbon…Makers Mark 46, and Malcom jumped at the opportunity.

Actually, everyone did.

We spoke of everything from Jimmy Buffett, to the collapse of cotton in the south, degradation of mental health due to technology, and I remember it well as it was my favorite topic, dresses with pockets. It was the first time I ever felt on level playing ground with people of higher educations. It was the first time I didn’t feel bad about who I was, degree wise. Never in my life have I ever met a couple of more genuine people.

In case you’re wondering, the evening climaxed on the Liberty Bridge in Greenville, SC. To be fair there was only so much charm our home had to offer, downtown seemed like the answer.

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Malcom and Sarah still send me an email at Christmas.

And for them, I owe it to them to try harder. Pick up my camera and take better photos, type on my machine and make better stories.

But always leave a paper trail. Had it not been for this snap, I might have forgotten about this moment forever.

Nikki Publishes Another Book

“The only way I could finish a book and get a plot was just to keep making it longer until something happens. ”

Nelson Algren

I’ve been greatly influenced lately by something other than my old friend, booze. (insert gasp here).

I know, I know, it gets old after a while, reading about my opinion on things and the adventures that I have. To be fair, I’ve had quite a few of them in my time, and I like to let people live vicariously through my reckless abandonment of rationality. It seems to be very gonzo of me, to embellish the honest goings on of my mundane life. As Hunter S Thompson once said, “it never went fast enough for me”, which is how I felt for quite some time, especially when looking for something to write about. It led me down a path of self absorbed urgency and bad decisions. It led to stories that I never wrote about, because, well, life indeed got too fast for me.

Now it’s going at a snails pace and nothing exciting really happens to me, or at least, nothing anybody would want to read about. I guess it might be the big 34 creeping up on me, maybe it’s the fact I haven’t driven in a year. It might just be the fact that I felt I saw my viewer count drop, so my assumption was that people stopped caring. I got a random email once in a while asking when my next post was going to be, and well, I didn’t know so I didn’t respond. I left everyone hanging, all three of my fan club.

I wrote my book 18 Wheels, A Road Trip Through The Mind, and nobody bought it, or read it. It dehumanized me and I felt like a failure at writing, so I quit. I mindlessly worked my job, every once in a while with a spark of inspiration to write, but did nothing about it. I looked at my draft folder maybe once a week, but opened none of the files. I skimmed through the manila envelopes of organized material that I have saved to write the Great American Red Shark adventure, but did nothing. I made a conscience effort to write something after my good friend Ken Kanne fell ill and I set up a go fund me account (which he could still use help, visit the donation page here). My site sat blank and the money didn’t roll in. I felt bad, I wasn’t helping Ken out much, but then again, I wasn’t helping myself either.

A turd, I felt like a turd that had been floating in the toilet of attempts for too long. I was stagnant.

Now, the urge to flush the attempts down the toilet is strong. The urge to hop back on the writing horse is there, and I’m pulling myself up by my hard trodden boot straps. I’ve pouted long enough, it’s time to type. I’ve been investing too much time in playing The Sims and not enough time typing. I’ve got to start somewhere. The time is now, the place is here.

After writing 18 Wheels, A Road Trip Through The Mind (which you can buy here) the idea was to have a recurring project, getting through all 18 categories of our hero, the truck driver, emotional trauma. Good news, I’ve got #18 done, and I’d like to publish it, however, I’ve got stage fright. I’d like to have some feedback from those that have read the first one as to the input as to what should appear in the next in the series.

I understand not everyone uses the Amazon platform, so, if you’d like a copy sent to you pdf or word doc, I can certainly hook you up. This writing thing is my “sort of secret” way of raising fun money. You know, the kind of money you spend when you’re on a adventure.

Give yourself a moment to ponder, would you rather spend a half an hour scrolling through stupid shit on FaceInstaTweet or invest 4 bucks and read my book?

I’m waiting 🙂

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Zips makes it BIG!

Ha. No, you can refuse it, but I don’t recommend it.

As many of you know, I’ve had quite the adventure the past year. Exactly a year ago, to the date, and almost hour, I was settling into my new place in Oregon. Life was crazy, life was upside down, but I loved it. I had freedom in my veins, and not a soul within a two day drive that I could rely on to bail me out of tough times. Tough times I had, but I made it through. I worked, but with a half heart, because I didn’t want to have a boss. I wanted to do my thing, which, at the time at least, was be reckless.

Free spirits are often riddled with responsibilities that don’t seem to fit in with crazy free spirit living. I tried my best to adapt to the desk life, it didn’t work. I loved what I was doing, but I couldn’t mentally keep myself in the chair. My mind was outdoors, exploring, but I cranked away at the computer. The entire time, I always had Zips on my desktop as a computer wallpaper. A fantastic picture of him taken in Sweden, always there to give me a smile even when I wanted to cry. He also hung out in my purse, under my desk, for extra moral support. A few of my coworkers, who worked within a desk length sort of kept their heads in their own space, never opening up to me, so if I was emotionally struggling, I had nowhere to turn. My best friend at work, Betsy, was a room away, yet I never really opened up. I kept. My nose in my own struggles, knowing it wasn’t sustainable. I lived the company I worked for, I could make it happen though, and I feel sad about that.

Fast forward, I’m still struggling with the daily battle of lack of passion for my job, but a glimmer of hope broke through yesterday. Forever and a day, I’ve had Zips by my side (he’s right here, as a matter of fact on his very own bar stool). He inspired me to pitch an idea to a company, a company that sells bee advocacy products. I sent a picture of Zips, strapped into his travel spot on my tote and explained Zips travels. I also explained that wherever I go, I get questioned “what’s with the bee”, which afford me the opportunity to raise awareness of the decline of the bee population. My idea is to make Zips clones _not identical_to sell, so others can experience a life with a Zips of their own.

He’s so much more than fabric and stuffing, he’s an emotion support bee, he’s an advocate, he’s a steward, he’s a positive influence on society. See where this is going?

I’m going to start producing Zips, hand sewn and made out of repurposed fabrics and start making a few different prototypes. It’s still a baby business in the making, BUT, it will be my business. Not one of these “I am my own boss, yes still sell products that other people make and take a cut of” (leggings, supplements, makeup).

So, please, cheer me on in mkinh this happen. I haven’t named the company yet, not have really taken a needle to fabric yet, but it’s happening.

On the plus side, it’s hard to get fired when you’re the boss.

An Eye For An Eye and a Prostitute

“People only count their misfortunes; their good luck they take no account of. But if they were to take everything into account, as they should, they’d find that they had their fair share of it.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Notes from the Underground

I sat in a darkish room, with darkish walls, around a darkish table, surrounded by people of grim expression and waning enthusiasm for life. Sitting there, in my bright red blouse, coordinating black and red skirt and red heels, I fit in like a mouse at a cat convention. Wringing my hands beneath the table, I looked down at the sheet of paper that sat in front of me on that dark table. The edges of the paper were yellowed with oils for hundreds of hands before me. People were speaking, I was hearing, but not listening. These strangers around me were sat in the dark room, most of them voluntarily, reading from these sheets. Some of them didn’t even have to look at the sheet to recite the words, for many of them knew them by heart.

“Nikki, your turn.”

“Step one: We admitted we are powerless over….” and I read, keeping my eyes downcast, looking in the direction of the paper, but not really reading it. This was an AA meeting, and we were basking in the pain each other had experienced and or were experiencing. The faces were friendly, almost to a familial extent, all looking to help those looking for a hand up, not necessarily a hand out. The meeting went on, as they typically do, stories of sadness and hurt, and upon conclusion, I was making a hot trot towards the door. It was a Sunday morning, I wanted to get on with my life.

“Please, young lady, Nikki was it? Please, join us for congregation and fellowship. You need no money, we will feed you.” The soft voice echoed for me from behind. “South Main, it’s…”

“By the tracks, I know where it’s at.” I left without much more to say. I hadn’t been to church since the annual Christmas Eve service with my mother-in-law a year or two prior. I wanted no part, I didn’t want to be around a bunch of holy rollers, nor did I want to monopolize my precious day off with sitting there listing to some sort of preaching. I kept walking, zeroed in on my car door, actually planning on crossing the county line to buy the ever elusive Sunday beer.

“The congregation is full of people like you, Nikki. There are drug addicts, both recovering and not. Alcoholics, some show up drunk. Homeless people, prostitutes, all of them are welcome. We don’t judge there. North Main.” He proclaimed from the door, almost as a beckon call.

I sat in my car, offended. Did I look like a damn drug addict, alcoholic, homeless prostitute? I faltered slightly before starting the car and heading off to the house, not going for beer. The entire ride, the whole three miles, was nothing but a reflective trance, the fear of what people thought I was, or even more frightful, what I had seen myself become. I wasn’t being invited to fancy occasions, formal dinners, company picnics, I was being invited to a church full of winos and hookers. That was the company I kept, or at least, the company I was perceived to keep. I ended up going to the service, against what I would typically do on a Sunday. I sat in the extreme back row, I gave no alms, I did eat a sandwich though and had a very interesting talk with some of the congregation.

The crowd was interesting, and as described, diverse. Some people in their Sunday best, hats and all. A few were in pajamas, a few were sleeping in pews. The minister didn’t care, he stood up there, spoke his sermon, threw water on some people, and as a congregation, songs were sung. I sat that one out, only because I wanted to focus on the faces of this crowd, this incredible gathering of oddities. Upon entering, I held my nose in the air, I was better than these people, or so I thought. By the end of the sermon, I was lower than these people, I felt like the slime on the underside of a slug, and to borrow a line from Crime and Punishment, I wasn’t worthy to keep the feet nor shake the pinky of any of them. I left there, shaken up, and in a funk for the rest of the day. Honestly, I hadn’t thought of that day until yesterday.

“Women gouges out own eyes, leaves bystanders shocked and disturbed.”

“Woman found holding her own eyes outside upstate church.”

“Woman rips out own eye, shows up at upstate church.”

You can see where this is going, it was that church. That same church that welcomed me, welcomed everyone.

I opened the new article and immediately recognized the church from the photograph. I felt sick to my stomach in a way I hadn’t felt since about a year ago when I read the new article about the woman stripping naked and running with the track team, Julie Ledger. The problem that I had, the draw that I had towards this story wasn’t the macabre nature of the story, it was the fact that there was some sort of parallel that I could see between the two stories.  I had a personal connectivity to the woman in the upstate, could she have been one of those people in the church on that Sunday?

Without needing to be said, people don’t rip out their eyeballs without an inner demon that takes the wheel of their destiny. In this case, it hasn’t been released if or what sort of drug it was, but there is a huge part of me that leans towards some sort of same substance that caused a girl, wrapped up in the wrong lifestyle, to strip off her clothes and chase a track team around. These activities, these actions, these life changing circumstances all stem from a decision to escape reality. This is the only logic reason for one to subscribe to a lifestyle of drugs, and in some of our cases, alcohol. Reality becomes so gray, difficult, and impossible to handle we chose to numb our senses and drop out of it for a while.

Here’s the hitch in the giddy-up, there’s always going to be the edge.

“”The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”

Hunter S Thompson

I’ve been to within feet of the edge, I could feel it in my blood. It’s an interesting feeling, almost as if you fear death, but at the same time you welcome it to put a period at the end of the sentence of life. Crashing cars, unable to walk, poisoning, heart failure, all of these near misses of going off the edge didn’t really effect me. I’d shrug it off as luck, and never really stopped to look back and take inventory of all my “luck” incidents. This girl, with her eyes, whom might I add was only stated as being 19 years old, has gone over the edge, and who knows how any times previously she had a close skirting with the edge without going over.

I feel my friend, although I’ve never met her, Julie, had a ridiculously close skirt with the edge, and I feel for her, our nameless woman here in the upstate – no wait – scratch that – girl – has dove headlong over the edge. Think of it this way, she can barely buy cigarettes and lottery tickets, she can’t buy beer, and for the rest of her life she will be haunted with a decision that changed her life forever. It takes one step too far, one shot too many, one snort too long, one tree too sturdy to put you right over the edge.

I’m not getting preachy, but keep in mind, I’m shaken and tend to pull out my worn out soap box, take a delicate step onto it, lift my hands into a cone shape around my lips to form some sort of hand megaphone and yell a message. This is my message.

We all take risks, and none of us are saints. I’ve realized that drinking has, well, ruined my life. I do not hate myself for it, I just have become very cautiously aware of it. Have I become a teetotaler and put a plug in the jug for good? No, not hardly. Have I become hyper aware of those that don’t take care in their decisions when participating in their favorite escape. I care, I care about everybody, stranger or not. I hear stories that could easily be one of my friends, acquaintances, or hell, even people I don’t particularly care too much for and I care.

“As we are, so we do; and as we do, so is done to us; we are the builders of our fortunes.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Listen, life really isn’t a lottery, you’re not going to have a fortunate and fulfilling life by living on luck. Take the reins and make the right decisions. You might need help that you don’t have within yourself. I’m here if you need me.