Category: travel & hobo life


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This was one of the best trips we’ve taken.

We got to meet holy scrap hot springs bloggers who are living life on a whole other level. They’re currently 7 months solid traveling full time. I hope we hang with them again. Their blog/lifestyle seem so well rounded. One of the things I mentioned to them was that they are so out of the box but seem to be functioning so well. Unlike so many people I know who are on the fringe they seem to be eating good, doing book tours, traveling, leveraging their time and creative efforts, etc. Their list of creative accomplishments and self expression is something I admire. I’d say they’re one of my few examples for folks who have wealth in many avenues regardless of their (perhaps small?) income. They live in New Mexico but we hung out with them in Portland.

Before we got to Portland we spent some time in Colorado. We hiked up a mountain in Boulder with crazy amounts of camera equipment including the large format film camera. That large camera has a suitcase size carrying case.

One thing that made this trip a million times better than the many road trips we’ve taken before this was our lack of requirement for specific food & drinks. We didn’t need a cooler or ice, we didn’t need to cook grass fed beef or bring 12 gallons of spring water. <— all of our former trips. I lived mostly on vegan canned soup and chips and Mark mostly lived on canned ravioli and chips. We drank water and lemonade out of a gas station styrofoam cup that we refilled at every gas station. We showered at a truck stop and slept in cycle to the moon. godddddddd that sounds nice.

We saw Brian and meet his “twin flame”. Seeing them was another major highlight on the trip. Brian’s girlfriend pretty much is a no non-sense kind of girl EVEN when she’s talking about total non-sense. That type of personality totally is fitting the bill on what I’m connecting with in people. Dynamic! Plus she supplanted my mind with Pallas Athena… so we’ll see where that goes (it’s in my 3rd eye). I didn’t want to leave them so we hung out much later than expected which was cool cause it was Audrey’s birthday.

We spent some time in Utah which was nice. We went down to Taos, New Mexico to see Michelle’s earthship. She hosted True Taos Radio which interviewed us live (as shown in a photo above). After the interview Mark took pictures of the gorge while Michelle and I just chit chatted on the bridge. I really needed some lady-chit-chat time so thank you.

The last day of the trip we took the time to discover the podcast app on our iphones and listened to some good stuff during the drive. We had a ton of music and audio books (“shit my dad says”, 2 nora ephron books, david sedaris, etc). We were over listening to music and had quickly burned the audio books. One of the podcast we listened to was about sleep. It really pumped me up want to address how smoothly my sleep had been on the road which was in contrast to how sleep has been most of my life. When we got home I implemented a “7 pm Get Off The Internet” & a “9 pm Turn Off All Screens For The Night” to turn my problem solving mind off early instead of letting it overtake me 24/7. Now we act like it’s little house on the prairie days after 7 pm (LOTS of reading, maybe a board game or a movie) then even more reading til bedtime. The trip felt like a reset. I’m sure no one wants to hear how people I love in real life post douchey bullshit on facebook and that I pretty much has ended my interest with interacting there. I’m cool with personal messages but scrolling makes my soul want to die. 2 weeks without the internet, sleeping with the moon/sun cycles, hiking mountains, travelling, seeing good friends… it really reset something corny in me that makes me want to just do what feels good in life. It’s like this trip renewed some inner guidance, it’s hard to explain with out sounding lame. Plus being in an earthship is pretty mind blowing and makes everything next to it seem to be lacking something. Speaking of something lacking, out of nowhere I got a really clear idea that we needed to change our apartment around. When we got home it’s kind of like we reordered our living space to create creative space for us each to do our own thing. And we got a sweet vintage crushed velvet couch for the living room from the thrift store…hooray.

The large black & white pictures were all taken with the large format film camera. Mark developed the film in our bathroom then scanned them onto the computer. Mark was new to the camera and did a hell of a job setting the camera up and taking great pictures.

With all of these wonderful things said and done it’s great to remember that this was a business trip. The trip was pretty much required to help soak up some of our profits and reinvest the money back into the business (via this trip) instead of sending that money in as taxes owed. During the 2 weeks we were gone we sold $956 worth of stuff on ebay. We kept our store open but changed the handling time on the listings. I also messaged everyone who bought stuff as a reminder on what day we’ll be shipping out in case they didn’t take note of the extended handling time. While $956 gross for 2 weeks is about half of what I would hope to earn at home we made this money while “traveling the world”. To me that is amazing. The mileage for the trip was 5,144 which cost us about $500 but due to mileage reimbursement being $0.575 per mile we credited $2,957.80 in deductions. Self employment has benefits that are unseen to traditional worker. Sure you don’t have a steady paycheck but we just got paid to see the world.

The rental was free and here’s the story. After checking out our car rental options we drove off and debated if it was worth the money to rent a spacious SUV vs take our non spacious car on the road. Our car is old and junky and i was worried about it lasting on the trip. Plus we had an insane amounts of (huge) photography equipment so where the fuck would we sleep? Within 2 minutes of leaving the rental place a car backs into us which sends our car into the shop for almost 3 weeks! While it was at the shop we got a rental from the insurance company at no cost…. like magic!

Here’s a video from our first trip to an earthship in 2013

Feel free to ask me any questions in the comment section.

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So after a year and a half of paying rent again I’m over it. It was pretty much like I woke up one day and was just over it. and that’s apparently how i function in this world. I run my life on major amounts of repetition. Overall I prefer to do, wear, eat and move through my day doing almost the same as the day before. If you look at myfitnesspal I seriously eat the same foods over and over; pasta, bananas and chocolate are the staples of my diet. If you look at what I wear it’s the same Carnival Barker “ice cream freak” shirt 29 out of 31 days. So on and so forth. Because no ones forcing this level of repetition on me I’ll get on a quinoa kick and that will replace pasta and there’s an ebb and flow to it all. I’ll get into small pockets of enchantment where all I’m bathed in magic and feel a tingling & pulse of life everywhere and like everything else in my life it gets replaced almost of it’s own volition. Working out and (these days) dumpster diving food are the standard trying to pump myself up about it but it’s the type of chore that’s enjoyable but always excusable.

To review I’m content with a simple life but just like a light switch going on changes happens in my life often. I think the precursor to change is saying “i don’t want”. Someone asked me if I would ever do a tiny house again and I felt hella embarrassed to admit that I did not want to. For the last 1.5 years I’ve been decompressing from 17 years of work and have reasoned a “real” job isn’t for me. For many people (like my husband) life is very solid and black & white. For me everything is relative which is why I beat around the bush when trying to explain anything, all details are crucial factors.

Scavenger Life podcast (about selling on ebay) mentioned Mr Money Mustache. Mr Money Mustache’s blog really flipped the switch on many areas of my life that I had in the dark. I’ve NEVER thought about retirement and had an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude about it. I think that if something doesn’t matter then it’s fair game to look it. If you have an area of your life that you don’t want to look at because you say it doesn’t matter then talking about it should be easy. If an area of your life is challenging to look at that’s totally fine, we’re complicated humans but it’s unfair to write something off with white wash statements of unimportance because those are just not honest statements. Unimportant things shouldn’t make you clam up.

This is my absolute favorite video right now because it addresses our crazy behavior which branches out from our ideal and the reality. There’s a level of disconnect it seems we humans may always have in our lives. i want to write a blog post on cognitive dissonance.

So I didn’t want a tiny house and a job but now I do. MMM’s blog got me thinking about my future, thinking about what I wished I had given my current self and what I want to pass on to my future self. I think a job will be the fastest way to my goal and like any worth while goal there’s a timeline attached to it.

Having this last 1.5 years away from traditional work has been an eye opener. It seems that time and money are often influx. When I’ve had the most money was I was working a lot and had very little free time. When I was busy one of the main things I wanted was the freedom to go to sleep and wake up when I wanted. Now I have a lot of free time and no money. I get as much sleep as I like and wake up when ever I want but I have very limited options on how my life can play out while maintaining this ultra low income. When we had $24,000 saved we could move where we wanted and could come up with a different arrangement for our lifestyle, options we don’t have now. We don’t want a lifestyle overhaul, we don’t want to live on someones land in exchange for housing and Mark doesn’t want to live in a van. We want to live very much like we live now but smarter. Paying $550 a month for our 2 bedroom, 2 story apartment is not the end of the world but it’s also not smart. We have some of the cheapest rent in Dallas while living in a tiny apartment complex in a nice area and I’m not at all taking that for granted. I am 100% grateful! However paying rent is money we’ll never get back. If we financed a home and payed $550 a month on it then we’d get the money back if we sold the house. I’m just feeling trapped with rent and now that I have serious goals I feel constrained a bit by the trap.

   My goal is to retire in 10 years or at least be very close.

“Time or Money” seems to be the dance most of us are doing. One without the other feels unbalanced and I’m concluding that I really need both. My retirement plan is 100% about having the minimum amount money coming in while having the maximum amount of free time while maintain a lifestyle that isn’t constrained by either.

LIFESTYLE the numbers: Last night I asked Mark to spell out exactly what his lifestyle would look like if he didn’t have time or money constrains. He has one life to live and I wanted to know what his ideal life would look like. Ideally Mark wants to drink top notch coffee that he brews on a top notch machine at home daily. He wants the option to go out to eat (nothing too fancy) about 3 times a week with me if he so choices. He’s like to buy 1 really top notch pair of shoes (a couple thousand dollars) or a few slightly less nice shoes a year. He’d like a few thousand dollars to put into hobbies a year and have a larger budget for buying fancy beer. add in a nice vacation and we concluded that $17,000 a year would cover his lifestyle preferences. $17,000 in very doable! Either I’m some sort of saint or have poor persons mentality but I don’t have any real list of lifestyle wants. Maybe I’d get into permaculture (which cost money… wait, or does it save money?) Or I’d use the tools he has in his hobby budget to create art. Plus most of this shit i think about (going for bike rides, going to the gym, chit chatting with friends) is all hella cheap stuff. Well I do have entrepreneur blood but we’ll not focus on that for now.

RETIREMENT the numbers: Let’s assume that when we retire in 10 years we own (debt free) our home. Let’s say it’s a tiny home and property taxes are $1,600 a year. We build efficient in combination with alternative energy and our utility bills are ultra low.  We eat on the cheap and may grown some of our food. Gasoline, internet, insurance, etc. Maybe we could get by with $10,000 for our livelihood (remember we’d already own our home). So $17,000 for lifestyle and $10,000 for livelihood would require us to have $27,000 as our household income. If we saved $3,500 a month we’d have $615,991.86 in 10 years (8% compound interest). The $615,991.86 would produce $49,279.28 in 8% interest a year so if we just scraped 4% off of the interest that would give us $25,000 to live on while maintaining safety margins and accounting for inflation. This however doesn’t account for taxes ($5,000 a year at 15%), health insurance or unforeseen disability. While these numbers are not perfect they do create an outline on what the approximate steps would be to get from poor to retired.

SAVING for retirement: In order to save $3,500 a month (for 10 years!) or $42,000 a year I’d need to make $42,000 to save plus the cost of living $13,000 would require me to bring in $55,000 net income. While that is a bit of stretch for me to do that all on my own I do have plan. I want to get a full time waitressing job ASAP. If I could earn about $120 per shift and do 6 shifts a week then I’d bring in $37,440. The remaining $17,000 could likely come from ebay because my sellers dashboard shows that i’ve done over $15,000 (gross) this year when I was just dumpster diving and selling $10 items. Plus i’m not leaving the ice cream shop, I love carnival barkers and just making $3,000- $5,000 a year there helps out a lot! Again these numbers are not perfect or taking taxes, health insurance or unforeseen disability into account.

SAVINGS BONUS: my off the cuff savings plan is coming from the point of view that i’m doing all of the work. Marks in school so maybe I can kick some ass, do my best and save a bunch of money. Then in 4 year from now Mark will have a grown up job and we can put 100% of his money into savings. Let’s say he starts out making $45,000 after taxes and within those 4 years of his school I’ve accumulated $194,018.42. Then we add in 4 years of 100% of Marks paycheck then in 8 YEARS WE COULD RETIRE, two years early!!! say what!?! after 8 years our grand total would be $633,442.51! or if we just commit to the 10 years then those extra to years would give us a new grand total of $909,399.02…. almost a million dollars in 10 years. so Marks contributions would double my efforts! that’s a bonus!

This is where the second tiny house comes in!

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RENT the numbers: Our rent is about $6,600 a year. In ten years that’s $66,000 and that same $66,000 could actually be more like $96,798.72 if I could invest it (at 8% compounded interest) instead of giving it to our landlord. When I look at those numbers it makes me want to move in a $2,000 van and reclaim the $550 a month in order to invest it. Our first “tiny house and land” cost $8,000 for the land and about $5,000 for tiny house. <— that’s about the same amount of money we will have spent in when this second lease it up!

If you google “building costs house calculator” there are websites which will show the break down of everything (foundation, roof, plumbing, etc) as well as separating the material costs from the labor costs for whatever basic house design you have in mind. I have my heart set on building another tiny house but a bit different from our last one. Tiny houses are attainable. While they’re more expensive per sqft the overall price can be significantly less if you keep it simple, find affordable appliances and do what you can where you have the skills.

Since this post is long enough I will simply state that it’s now starting to sink in that we actually lived in 150 sqft with no plumbing in the woods for a year. holy hell! We need plumbing and more than 150 sqft, I understand that now. We don’t need it like it’s life or death but i’m no longer trying to live like life or death are my only two options. I’m also willing to admit that I no longer have a desire to move to the woods. I like cities that are under 100,000 people but I live in Dallas and honestly shit is fine out here too. It would be ideal if we could get a small city plot, have our tiny house and do urban homesteading. If we could do urban homesteading in walking distance of friends that would be epic but I’m not hearing anyone say any of that. Urban plots are expensive but right now i’m seeing the value. We’re talking about a 550 sqft floor space with a large loft. I can see us having a shed for Mark’s projects. I can see an epic amount of landscape design for beauty and function.

Besides a lack of money being an obvious derailer for this to come to fruition there’s other issues. I didn’t realize how good we had it zoning/permit wise on our last piece of land until til I started looking through permit requirements just in our area. There are so many requirement it’s hard to absorb it all. Plus “If you want to make god laugh then tell him about your plans”. right on.

 Have you seen this new tiny house TV show? I’m all over it! Mark doesn’t like it but i do.
http://www.fyi.tv/shows/tiny-house-nation

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you guys know i’m crazy and nerdy so i’m sure this post will come as no surprise.

here’s a little bit of financial/fanatical history to paint a personal picture as to where i’ve been and where i want to go.
i grew up poor as shit by pretty educated people. at age 14 i got my first job which i kept for 9 months until i switched to another job and ultimately worked consistently from age 14-17. when i was 17 my partner in crime and i moved out of our parents places and got a sweet duplex together in the humble and hispanic neighborhood that we called “ave R” or “Our Avenue”. short after getting our own place we felt the only way to complete this new found freedom would be to quit our jobs (and somehow get rich to avoid ever working again). freedom guys, that was goal then and that’s the goal now. i had a few homeless vacations and lived in the woods without plumbing for a year all with the feeling of freedom in mind and trying to see where i fit on the spectrum of freedom in respect to lifestyle.

while freedom is a blanket word there are two means according to webster with a total of 11 variations on that. at a daniel vitalis (oh yeah, that guy….boring) said at one of his jazzed up talks that things are fucked when people think that free means “something for nothing”. so let’s think about all of these things, freedom; the quality, the state of being, the restriction and the privilege.

then add in a few more thoughts.
1. we only have the mental capacity to focus on and execute a limited amount of tasks so we can’t do (or undo) it all. “we can do anything but we can’t do everything” – http://affordanything.com/about/
2. being aware that often perfect is often the enemy of good (which keeps us all stuck)

From age 17-28 I thought on varying degrees of consciousness that i hated money. the system of money is illusive and the system of slavery is dependent on making this making of cash-money. when i was 28 and we saved $24,000 in 18 months it was completely coming from the place of wanting to drop out of the system for a variety of reasons. i was really wound tight and thought dropping out would chill me out. when we saved the first $8,000 it was like, “i don’t hate money. my quality of life hasn’t changed and i’m the same person. having money and not having money is seriously a non issue to who and what i am, point blank.” money did impact how i was in the sense that i could buy quality things; paying local farmers for their goods, local artists for their tattoo art, donate a shit load of money and contribute to services that won’t get by with moral support. There was nothing bad about having more numbers on a dead screen saying “you rich, bitch!”. we never had anxiety about making ends meet, shit was good. but i was building up to drop out so there were limitations to that goal. limitations being that now 1.5 years after leaving our land we’re on food stamps and not even scraping by.

jumping into selling full time on ebay did 2 shifts in my thinking.
1. i love money. i never get a sale and feel defeated or unsatisfied. when i make $$$ i feel great because i love money.
2. all i care about is selling fancy, quality, expensive and/or rare shit. period. i used to hate fancy brand, not any more.

humble sales are a thing of the past, we’re over dumpster diving to make a living. dumpster diving food is still great but since trash digging is a bit more out of the loop for our lifestyle we’re paying for food too.

loving food stamps (which i do!) is an extension of me loving money. i think loving money is okay even if i don’t love having a standard job. i love money because it the glue that connects me to the things i love so clearly it’s more about the things than the money itself. if there was another magnet stronger than money then i’d go that route instead. getting things & having options is the root to my love of money. for me, money is freedom. it isn’t the only form of freedom and for most of us (debt) is far from freedom but it’s all in how you use money. when you love something you tend to treat it well. when i thought money was shit i pissed it away. now money is a cute little kitty or puppy that i want to take care of and grow and sail on to some rainbow filled, unicorn dancing future of love and freedom.

while i’m new to loving money i will admit that i don’t fully understand it. using mr money mustaches website as inspiration i’m back in the head space that saved us $24K except this time the goal is early retirement via saving ultra crazy amounts of money (instead of pissing it away).

Mr money mustache and his wife retired at 30 years old!!!!  TEN YEARS AGO! and it all makes sense. what they’re doing makes total sense to my nerdy brain. money is the only math i like. him and his wife had fancy jobs so they lived simply (on maybe $25k a year) until they were 30 years old. They had something like $700k (i’m new to their blog so i don’t remember) and found the 4% – 6% interest pays them $28k a year to live FOREVER. maybe this is totally boring to you but i’m beyond jazzed up just writing about this! we’re living on $18k (or less) so the idea of maxing and relaxing while the dollars roll in just seems like a maricle and it’s more than our bottom dollar lifestyle. and they own their own home and they are always investing the interest and have grown that hundreds of thousands of dollars….it’s all too good, i’m completely on board.

i would like to retire in 10 year or even be million times closer than i am today. i care about my future self. today i scrape by and have to think about where our money is at and making ends meet, i’m not stressed but i could do much better. it’s completely possible to gift my future self by getting my shit together. i actually think we’re in better shape to save now than when we saved our first $24k because we spent way too much of food, way too much on art, way too much on hobbies (well, not really but you know what i mean).

here’s my plan: mark’s taking off of next semester. well, maybe he’ll take just one class. we’re going to get balls to the wall strategic with selling on ebay. we’re going to take concrete steps towards “A to B” goals and see if we can surpass our current plateau. (hopefully we can afford to grow) we’re going to get on the grind and see where we’re at! we’re doing about $1k a month, not shit, so quote me in 4 months to see what our progress may be. in 4 months if we’re not seeing reward for our work then mark will get a temporary job before going back to school. i love ebay so i hope it doesn’t come down to me getting a job but i love early retirement more than ebay so i’m willing to walk away even though i’m hoping i will not have to.

freedom for me is working smarter now to sail on further, longer and easier later. saving them $579 per month and investing this savings would compound into about $102,483.00 every ten years. all i’m saying is that i’m seeing a more passive future ahead.

if you have a different plan towards freedom let me know!

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MADISON,WISCONSIN

 

once a year this college town has it’s move out day, August 15th.

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this blog post will be like you’ve come along for the adventure but just the fun parts. no walking door to door looking for gold, no 15 hour drive there and 15 hour drive back, no sleeping in a cramped car for you.

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there’s a lot of curb diving, lots of piles and a life time supply of mattresses. this year due to rain all of the mattresses were dragged through the mud. fuck it! who shows up to this  woodstock of dumpster diving wanting mattresses?!
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dumpsters (as pictured above)  for apartments were the minority, it was mostly residential trash cans for apartment buildings/large houses and curb diving.
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my goal was to 100% fill the car which we did in 20 hours. thank god we could only be there for less than a day before we had to come back to texas. i would cry me a river if we had more days to dive and our car was full by the first day. i’d either cry or pay to ship items home. this way we got our feet wet and did the most with the least amount of time and car space.

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this is about 48 items of clothes, mostly cheap mall brands and 3 jackets. the picture on the right is the jackets. the top jacket is a leather jacket we bought from the thrift store for $10 because it was 59 degrees when i woke up and many of the sweaters we dumpstered were wet from the rain. DSC_2548

sweet ass shoes

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the foil looking art we dumpstered but the water color on the left we bought from a thrift store to resell. a piece by the artist has sold for over $200 in the past so we figured why the hell not, only $25 investment.

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random shit.  we still need to test out everything. i’m hoping the keyboard works.

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not a whole lot to say about this. i imagine it has resale value.

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half of a bottle of sailor jerry spiced rum without a lid.
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5 bottles of unopened wine and a bunch of beer. mark was thrilled.DSC_2630

the electric scooter doesn’t work but we *might* be able to fix it. this raleigh road bike (bottom left) was a curb find. as mark was taking it apart to get it in the back seat this college guy comes out of his apartment building and was like “i have a bunch of tires and a raleigh mountain bike you can have too”. yes please. very tight squeeze but 2 bikes in the back seat made the car 100% full.

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this is the list of everything we found. about 70 items  not including booze or menstrual pads. with 70 items if we sold everything at $10 each we’d make about $700.  gas cost about $320 so earning $700  for this experiment / adventure is a success in my mind but it’s likely that the 2 bikes could sell for the amount we spent in gas. *if* the scooter works (and that’s a big if) that’s $300-$500 right there. one of the nikes is worth about $40 resale and the other about $80. the dress shoes might be $50. so $700 an item is likely the lowest we’d get. plus this was a hella good vacation is we want to start throwing that word around. we really LOVED the town. super bike friendly, bike paths, bike lanes, bikes you could rent sitting on every corner. madison couldn’t make it any easier to just show up and start riding. very cool, we’ll have to go back to bike the town.

as far as dumpster diving goes i was expecting more GOLD-GOLD but as you can see we didn’t find any. no apple products, no diamonds or jewelry, no bags of fancy clothes. nothing like i was thinking but we were only there a day. one day out of a week of trash picking so i’m very happy and would like to go back with a van or truck next year. there was a fair amount of scrappers rolling around in their trucks but there’s more than enough to go around. the trash that week is so much that the city has multiple dump trucks collecting trash DAILY! i was sad to see all of the dump trucks get most of the city before i could but it really wasn’t a problem. i heard about this annual event from the 7th interview we did for our podcast about a guy who lived on a commune for 13 years in texas but currently lives in or near madison wi. so glad he mentioned it and very glad i wrote it on my calendar last november.

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It’s completely fair to say that the gods were not showing interest in lining up the timing for me and my homie to go on our Bike The West Coast Adventure and it’s honest to say that I didn’t give a damn. It wasn’t that the gods were against the trip. I had been asking for some sort of camp-outside/unplug-from-technology cure-all to reset my fucked up sleep cycle and get me out of the house. Then the opportunity appeared; a homie from back in the day said that she and her little family were going to live on bikes and ride up the West coast. My homie has an interesting blog Gutterhood To Motherhood.

The tricky thing was this, when I first started our podcast, I contacted them and harassed them to let me do an interview. Most of my friends live on some sort of fringe lifestyle but this homie seemed to be on a whole other wavelength. Gutter punks with kids living wild and free? I couldn’t imagine it. They declined the interview and it resulted in a fight with homeboy (my homies’ husband) so I’m going to keep everyone’s name out of this post.

So my homie and her little family are going to bike the West coast and I invite myself along. Even though I wasn’t on good terms with homeboy, I really did want to go. The adventure seemed to be the answer to my wish. They said I could go and I told Mark about the trip. He really didn’t want to go but he dropped his 2 summer classes 3 days before they started to accompany me on the trip. After the trip he told me that didn’t feel safe about me going without him. Protecting me was his motive for the trip while my motive was adventure.

We instantly hustled up all of the money we needed to do the trip. 2 road bikes, water bottles, water filters, bike trailer, saddlebags, finding the right seat for Marks bike, camping gear, instruments for busking, etc. We’re super poor but shit was coming together… with the exception of our schedule with the homies.

Because we’re poor and knew the trip would only be for 2 months tops, we bought things on the cheap. Our friends couldn’t afford to get cheap shit because they planned to be out on the road indefinitely which pushed back their starting date. Although we have a flexible schedule we did have a final day for the trip, a time when we would have to be back so Mark could start school.

We had everything but our bikes shipped to Los Angeles so when I felt the pressure to get on the road we bought 2 bus tickets and figured that since our homies weren’t ready we’d go on our own. The idea of going without them made me super sad. I wanted to get to know my friend since last time I saw her we were both very different people. I wanted to meet her kids and husband & experience life on their terms.

Greyhound was a train wreck, more so than usual, so after being up all night waiting on a bus that was cancelled we said “fuck it, let’s do this differently”. I wrote my friends and said “Just send our shit back to us. We don’t need to bike California since we’re not going together, we’ll just plan a new trip elsewhere”. She replied that her husband thought she was being overly cautious and that we should all roll out together and work the kinks out along the way. That was exactly what I wanted to hear. We’re back in the ball game.DSC_0560

We asked around, seeing if anyone had friends or family that would let us park our car in their driveway for up to 2 months so we could drive out there. That was a dead end. I looked up LAX a few weeks beforehand and the parking price was way out of our budget. Blah blah blah, when it was all said and done we pissed away so much time waiting on our trip, we could now afford to drive our car and leave it at LAX parking because we had 3 weeks left to adventure instead of 2 months. LAX charges $7 a day for parking.DSC_0477

We drove to LA and within moments of arriving I texted another set of friends to see if they were available for us to stop by and say hi. Turns out they were moments from shooting a reality TV show and we were randomly casted parts in the show! DSC_0478Mark was a fireman and I was the neighbor warning Jill and Nada about their house being on fire. Jill mentioned that we could park our car at her place which saved us a ton of money.
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We spent the next few days with my homie and her little family while they tie up some loose ends. They know we’re only available for a 3 week adventure and had decided that they were going for 3 weeks and coming back to the garage where they live to get properly prepared for their upcoming lifestyle.

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THE GARAGE AT NIGHT the kids are dancing in the picture to the right

While they lived more wildly in the past, they were now living in a garage rent free. I will say their set up was pretty sweet. The garage was tiny but they kept the garage door open and the amazing California weather filled their space.DSC_0551

Homeboy took us on a bike ride, 14 miles from East LA to downtown and back. The 2nd to 5th miles totally kicked my ass. I have endurance; I can go on hella long bike rides but I don’t have the capability for hills. We went up and down hills on the first half of the ride and my heart was beating so hard that death was around corner. The second half of the ride was very nice, not many hills and the weather was blowing my mind. Plus we were riding on the street the whole time and with homeboy’s confidence it didn’t feel scary in the least. He owned the lane and that was awesome. He’s really strong, definitely left me in the dust.

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“tell me a scary story”

After a few days, we hit the road. We biked 24 miles to Venice Beach. Along the way we stop to refuel our bodies and the 2 little kids, so smart, so lovable, kept asking with their cute little faces “Tell me a scary story”. Mark took a bunch of pictures of me trying to scare their little minds with stories that were variations of the ones I’d heard as a kid. We were too far to bike to a campground and sleeping on the beach is illegal but we found a spot behind a sand dune. Under the super moon, next to the ocean, hidden in a little spot, we slept on the sand. It was a very magical night. The sky felt so big and there I was with my husband and an amazing family.DSC_0584

When we left the garage earlier that day and got on our bikes it seriously felt incredible. Something about having our group together on bikes was like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I can’t translate the feeling, it just felt amazing unlike anything else.DSC_0589

One huge appeal of rolling with them was that they have two little kids. The trip wouldn’t be like a college toga party. The fun would be within a spectrum that’s in my comfort zone. I have friends that drink and get fucked up and that’s not in conflict to us hanging out but I imagine that if we were to be together for weeks on end, at some point they may want to walk on the wild side and my old ass can’t hang. With these homies, I wouldn’t be abandoned for wilder, crazier times. Another positive piece is that they have way more experience living on the street than me which makes them overqualified for this adventure and someone to learn from.

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where we woke up

The next morning, for reasons I wont go into in this blog, we went our separate ways. We woke up knowing this and it felt okay. We hung around in the sand for a few hours and chit chatted about life. When it was time to part ways my friend gave me a goodbye hug and I felt a feeling that’s hard to put into words. It was amazing to see her and sad to part ways but it was what it was.

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biking to our car

We looked up our friends’ house where our car was and it was 17 miles from where we woke up. It was the best bike ride ever. 15 miles along the beach on the bike trail. It couldn’t have been any more convenient to get our car. Our new plan was to drive to the East coast, have Mark meet my family that I haven’t seen since I was 21, bike different cities along the way and enjoy the rest of the trip.

We got to Arizona and the weather was brutal. Over a hundred degrees and humid as hell. We biked a few miles and the scenery looked like a dump. The weather was too shitty to feel like I could honestly accept looking at this joke of a bike path. In the past I would have seen that situation as an opportunity to prove to myself that I’m down for dirty but before the trip I had some interesting “the map is not the territory” revelations. I shut down the situation and opted for something that was out of my current character. “Fuck this, let’s go to Whole Foods, eat some fancy food and really figure out what’s next”. We bought salads and lemonade and something in me shifted. My ride or die attitude about dumpster diving and shitty situations really dissolved. FUCK LOYALITY*LOVE HONESTY, I guess.

We got back in the car and headed for NY state. I called my mom and asked her to get a hold of her sister and let her know we were coming to visit and bike around the Adirondacks. We got to Oklahoma and we were sleeping in our car when I woke up at 3AM and realized that we may have enough money to pay the gas to get there and back but it’s a bit of a risk. Earlier that day we went to a food bank because we couldn’t afford food and dumpsters hadn’t been panning out on this trip. I focused on my feelings. The struggle to get this trip to come together and the simplicity of paying full price for my Whole Foods salad. Fuck it. Instead of driving to NY and back to come home broke lets drive home now with a pocket full of money and buy a bunch of food that I’ve been avoiding paying full price for (I need to write a blog post on that indulging feeling, it’s a complex subject).

I called my mom to tell her that we were heading back to Texas and that we’d go to NY some time soon but not now. She told me that my aunt was organizing getting the family together and I felt very sad about having to cancel that. Very sad. Hopefully we’ll see them within a year from now or even 6 months. That will likely be our next adventure; biking New York state.

Cancelling the trip was a relief and an ego blow and that’s okay. We’ve been biking a bunch since we’ve gotten back home. Mark likes biking even more now and is interested in bike touring in the future but wants his tour to include nice hotels nightly. This hobo married a king, not new information, blog post coming soon on what that means for our future as a happy partners in life.

My homie has an interesting blog Gutterhood To Motherhood.

 

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DSC_7454 REi am nervous as fuck. i’ve been nervous for the last 6 months or so, nervous in my body but not in my head. my head is the most relaxed it’s been in 30 years. when i sit really still i can feel the ever present anxiety in my chest swell up bigger.  i’ve speculated that i’m just too sedentary. my sleep is fucked up too and most nights i lay in bed trying to get my body to submit to my will, “just go to sleep, everyone else is asleep at this hour. ” then at 6 am i arrive at my bodies bedtime and i fall asleep & wake up when ever i damn well please (9-12 hours later). i’ll stay up late playing on facebook & have a pity party about my pathetic life. i’ll scroll through the 8 hour old feed and see memes about camping putting the whoop ass on my sleep schedule. the memes seem lame but resetting and unplugging sound amazing! sitting at my computer for most of my day (work and leisure) feels like it’s sucking me dry.
i’m the last generation in this country to know life before/without internet. the first 20 years of my life was spend with friends, going on bike rides, long walks, getting in trouble, watching movies, reading books. even as a little kid i watched as much tv as i played outside. each show had a definitive end unlike playing on facebook.

so i’ve been thinking about unplugging and resetting. a month ago a wild friend said their wild little family was going to bike up the west coast and were to live on bikes indefinitely. i invited myself along and my innovation was accepted a week later. mark dropped his summer classes 2 days before they started to come on this trip with me. with 3 weeks to get our shit together we hustled about $300 between selling stuff on craigslist and to the pawn shop. we pulled some of our last dollars together to get everything we need to live outside for an undisclosed amount of time. i know we wont be gone more than 2 months because mark has school and was contracted to build a bass for a deep space metal band. due to timing conflict mark and i will be traveling without our homies.

since we’re going to be homeless with no way to hustle trash money and no fridge full of free food i’m hoping to recreate those wonderful elements on the road. i’m hoping to dumpster and busk our way up the coast…. we’re poor as fuck so we’ll see how this unfolds. i’m scared of some things about this trip. this seems way more dangerous than train hopping. biking up 6,000+ ft of elevation freaks me out, plus strong winds, heavy summer traffic, blind corners, no shoulder, etc. but scared or not i’m getting on greyhound in a few hours and moving forward with the plan.

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i wrote this article and it is awesome. dig through it even just to look at the pictures. ENJOY!
http://brinkoffreedom.net/politics-and-economics/dumpster-diving/Image

I’m not a past-dweller. There may be a few things I think about but generally when a chapter is complete it feels like waking up from a blackout or a past life. I just turned 30 which feels like a big chapter in my life has ended while the train moves on. When I was in Arkansas I went down memory lane and wanted to get a complete story of some friendships I’ve had for a long time. I wanted to piece together how we met and what were some of the defining moments in our friendships. Knowing folks from teenager to 30 holds a lot of interesting bits. Those people have hung out with every boyfriend that was a piece of shit to me. Those people have talked about anti-establishment things and together we have schemed up a thousand ways to get out of jobs. The most interesting part that really got my head in a knot was remembering when we started introducing new friends to each other and organically, a community was born. 1-on-1 friendships tend to be super straight forward and theres not a substitute for that type of communication but community is tricky.

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my middle school partner in crime

In middle school I had a small tribe of friends. There wasn’t a community because it was more or less 3 of us and we’d rotate our 1-on-1 time and sometimes we’d all hang out together.

I did get a high school diploma despite not stepping foot in school for the last 2 years. The first 6 months of high school started out as a very small tribe of female friends who I’d rotate hanging out with 1-on-1. Hormones were part of the times so a small tribe of guys started interrupting my 1-on-1 time and hanging out with us. Because there was a small tribe of guys, that attracted a few more girls and that would have been my first community (and in some ways it was) but I didn’t like the vibe and I had some fundamental life changes at that time as well.

The life changes were 3 things:
1. When I was 14 I worked my first job selling fried chicken for 9 months. I liked that job because my boss was a 17 year old senior in high school and we’d just chit chat (1-on-1) the whole time I was on the clock. I liked the job and it was easy so when I quit that for a new job I was traumatized when the new job felt new and intimidating (and that feeling has not gone away since).
2. I stopped listening to rap. I was raised on MTV and their version of gangsta rap, hip hop and R&B. I thought rock music sounded terrible. I was laughed at by all of the white kids and the black kids for wearing Tupac shirts every day to school. When Master P came out it sounded so bad that I had to learn to like rock bands. Getting off the rap band wagon was like a brain transplant. When I forced myself to find bands that I liked I had to own up to only being attracted to black and Hispanic guys. I had to own up to seeing the world through made up gangsta eyes. Changing my musical preferences totally changed my circle of influence.
3. I got kicked out of public high school for skipping school on finals and was sent to the emotionally disturbed room in alternative school. I hope I didn’t gloss over that but that was a very big change. I went from ignoring a very diverse crowd of thousands of peers to being at ground zero with 12 kids that didn’t give a fuck.

Looking back, the classroom at alternative school kind of had a community vibe. For one, it wasn’t a diverse group of kids. Everyone had very different characters and personalities but overall had the same life story. Only 2 of us out of the 12 hadn’t gone to green oaks, a facility providing mental health and addiction services. I hadn’t gone because I think drugs are stupid and my depression eats away my insides which is easier for other people to ignore. The only other person who hadn’t gone was someone who was 18 and wouldn’t consent to being checked in. Even though I thought everyone was super interesting, I couldn’t connect to folks in that environment. To block everyone out I started writing poetry and reading books during class.

I’m still friends with a few folks from that class but our friendships blossomed outside of that building. Why is it that my first community vibe was with a group of people I tried to block out? Something about having a common wavelength between us, seeing each other day in & out and watch each other loose our shit can be pretty bonding. Someone would have a meltdown at least once a day. I just remembered I would have 1-on-1 time with the 2 teachers running the class. They leveled with me as a human being and told me all sorts of meaningful personal shit. That’s where I first heard of Taoism, from one the the teachers.

the tao

the tao

After a year and a half of alternative school I was sent back to high school which didn’t last a month when I stopped going to school. I had some serious manic depression going on and was feeling very lonely in such a big school. I met my first boyfriend and we did the 1-on-1 thing most of the time. We were new friends with this other couple so now I’m back to a small tribe. After a couple years of that train wreck of a relationship, my boyfriend gets replaced.

No matter who gets replaced there’s a re-configuring of 1-on-1 & small tribe. When I was 19 I met this really cool guy who I blew off as not being that cool, avoided his calls, etc., which is similar to my reaction with the couple who I became in a tribe with. I didn’t so much like them at first and made myself unlikable. I ran off to Philadelphia, did a little bit a traveling and long story short when I got back to Texas I got in touch with the cool guy and we became great friends. He was older than me and knew a ton of radical shit and would try to explain it all to me. I would kill for a friend like that again! I started hanging out with the couple and they were really, really great friends. They did a lot of 1-on-1 time with each other and were needing to expand their connections and started reaching out. They would try to find like-minded people via Myspace (ha ha!) and it worked. I remember them saying to me that they met a couple new friends. Around that time I started doing community events AKA documentary night with vegan potlucks.

Halloween movie night

Halloween movie night

When I got back from Philly and reconnected with these progressive folks it became really clear in my mind that I shouldn’t be walking past people I share a neighborhood or zip code or planet with. That reaching out; consciously trying to connect would actually be a radical way to live so I started documentary night so we could all get together once a month. So the couple would meet new folks and invite them to movie night and movie night grew! We did it for 2 years straight then on and off (mostly off) for the next 8 years.

Movie night brought together a community. Most folks came out every month for 2 years even if they couldn’t care less about some lame ass documentary. That was the foundation of our contact list, folks from movie night. Those people were the folks we started inviting to the woods. One of my friends is the hub of the wheel. He found this secret place in the woods, off the public trail, cleared the spot and made it magical. Being around a fire on the earth is really bonding. There was a while when movie night dissolved and going to the woods was what we did. A lot of the folks who came to the woods I didn’t know. No one would ever call me to hang out 1-on-1. It’s a mixed feeling to be an alien in your own community. In my head I’m thinking that they all hang out in different configurations but I’m only invited to the larger community events.

By the end of 3 years I had pity parties about my lack of 1-on-1 time with folks in my community but I knew who my community was, or at least that was solid. Then solid dissolved. The main couple to the group broke up so that was like a weak link. Someone was hitting on (“playfully flirting”) with someone who likes to be dramatic and cry victim, another weak link. Turned out someone I was having internal catty feelings about had fucked my boyfriend, that was the link that broke the chain. No one gave a shit that I was being gaslighted the whole time, no one was my friend… just my vague community.

I needed a lifestyle change. My relationship was fucked, my friendships were fucked. I got into raw foods because I knew it would change the way I thought because if you listen to raw foodists they say shit no one else says. The raw food meet ups were a community. It seemed liked everyone had known each other for a long time. A lot of people were level-headed and everyone cared about health as much as I did. There was a very nurturing energy and all the language was about quality. It was different, things seemed precise and thought out. There were folks giving the “out there” kind of vibe, being a bit on the fringe and I really admired them but those were the folks I connected with the least. The down to earth folks were more like friends, more engaging and personable while the fringe seemed kind of like rock stars that I could look up to but would seldom say anything personal to me. I feel like I was secretly taking things from the people on the fringe and trying to assimilate it into my personality. It seemed like I was just little old me until the tables had turned and overnight I became the main player (manager & “head chef” creating the menu) for a raw cafe that was opening in Dallas. That’s when I felt the energy shift. I’m NOT going to go into the details of the fucked up cafe situation but I will say that it took almost a year to open and during that I became a quasi-central part of the that community.

in the woods

in the woods

The raw food community was another super solid community that for me, dissolved. I couldn’t be a raw foodist, I had to admit my health issues from veganism, I wasn’t a part of the cafe any more. The cafe did some fucked up shit but like before no one gave a shit because no one was my friend, I was just part of the community.

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For time sake I’m going to skim over another community that started going to the woods together, a whole new crowd of folks. Folks that seemed like the previous folks going to the woods. Friends with each other, not with me, but I’m somehow a part of the community. That group didn’t totally dissolve. I wasn’t as deep in that group so I can’t say for sure. It seems like folks grew or traveled apart. It seems that there were issues with folks being romantically involved. I’m sure there’s plenty of communities where everyone fucks each other and it works out okay but that has not been my experience. I think flirting and fucking within your community is a fast way to dissolve a community but I could be connecting the wrong dots.

Community is something I’m interested in. When I look back over the last 10 years I get a really heavy heart when I think of going to the woods with folks. I miss that time in my life so much but honestly that wasn’t the best time of my life by far. I felt lonely and depressed but my brain insists on seeing that time through rose colored glasses. I miss not having a community. I have a handful of 1-on-1 friends. I have a handful of people that I think are cool as shit but they never check in with me and I’m always the one to initiate a message first, which I notice and I think it’s stupid that I message them in the first place.

There’s another piece to the pie. Melody was talking about adults being lonely and having a “rent-a-friend”. She’ll see folks at the gym not taking direction from their trainer, just trying to chit chat. That is paying for 1-on-1 time. She talks about folks confusing their tattoo session as hanging out with their “friend” the tattoo artist, paying for 1-on-1 time. I thought about all of my times in the raw food community, how I was essentially paying for those friendships as well. I was paying for classes as a “rent-a-community”. That is kind of embarrassing. The thing is when I was high up on the cool food chain I started to notice that we were buying and selling cool and acting like the products are legit when the product is just a small part of what’s really being sold. At the end of the day when I drop a name and act like someone’s product is so cool, I’m implying that we’re like minded in some collective community but those folks don’t give a shit about me. I have a friend who said “it’s their job, it’s how they feed their ego”. I had read once that tribe leaders sell their image on pure vibe. Like they’re feeling pure rage (because they’re so aware) or pure bliss (because they’re so aware) or pure whatever. So folks have this perfect awesomeness and connect their product to their awesomeness and now you too can have the missing thing in your life to make you more whole like them. I want a real community, not a rented one.

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I’m so fucking lost when it comes to community. I want to get land with other people and I no longer feel like I need land with my best friends. I felt like the expectations around “we’re going to grow together and get closer in every way” seems to implode but getting land with strangers seems like a crapshoot. I would love some perspective. Insight any one????

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