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My Journey - December 2009

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My Journey - December 2009

Post  ChasingSanity on Sun Apr 11, 2010 8:02 pm

December 20, 2009 Time for me to bring you all up to date. Yes, I am still alive! I told “Ray”, the guy at the homeless shelter my situation; I needed at least $10 and asked him if he had some work I could do for him or he knew of some work to get my bicycle tire. “Ray” said IF I was a GOOD worker he would pay me $10 to do some work with one of the other guys at the shelter the next day. I slept well that night even though I was excited at all the portentous prospects on the morrow. “Ray” wanted me and this 20 year old guy to 1) tear down homemade particle-board wall on a fabric and pipe car port, 2) dismantle the car port, 3) clean up the area including removing weeds and trash, 4) push his disabled truck and trailer out of the way, 5) dismantle the cinder block and mortar wall he threw together. And put it back up in a straight line from (pointing) “here to there”. “Ray” was doing me and the community a big favor by providing shelter. I was happy to have a favor to do for him.

We all got started and things were going well until these two young and attractive women came from some Christian organization to conduct an interview with him. We were left unsupervised... but we worked really hard together for several hours. About the time the other guy had to leave for work a few hours later was when the interview wound down. “Ray” came by and asked us how come we had gotten so little done. We did a good job because we knew “Ray” was obsessively neat. He said the wall had to be at least another two feet higher tonight. The young guy had to get to work. The wall kept the family and their dog and guardian, a big and energetic German Shepard on one side of the wall and unsavory characters of all kinds on the other side. The only other people that might finish the wall would be “Ray” and a guy who was in no shape to do anything strenuous. I was building up resentments about the insinuation that we had not worked hard enough but I needed the bicycle tire and I did not want someone getting hurt around that wall because I threw a temper tantrum. I was also anxious about getting back to the bicycle guy on time. But I could use the extra money if I worked more. “Ray” came back and asked me if I could work tomorrow for $10. Those few words, “work tomorrow for ten dollars” changed my 'favor for a favor' into me being played a fool. “No. I am putting up enough of this wall to keep everybody safe then I am leaving. I need the wheel and your $10.” “Ray” threw in an extra dollar to get myself a drink or a snack. Oh joy.

While I was extracting the spokes I needed and the hub I wanted from the very nice tire TJ, the bicycle guy, had I told TJ and his wife why I did not like “Ray”. They were exactly the same reasons I liked TJ and his wife. I hope I am helping TJ and some of you by telling you about him. TJ seems like an an honest man who is providing a service to the community by recycling bicycles that are discarded. I get the impression it is a hobby for him that barely makes his his time, effort and money spent worthwhile. But, such is the economy, It used to be the same way in other depressions of recessions; nobody can afford to buy or sell much of anything.

After the spoke extraction I went to police headquarters, stated I was traveling through without resources, might they have a place I could sleep. They told me about this church... I fumbled around and finally found the church priest at home but they said he don't do that and he did not know the name of the new guy who just took over that post. I called the police and got the name of the guy at the church who was, kinda-sorta the one to talk to. Wow, was I tired by then! I left a message on his answering machine and called the police back to see about getting camping accommodations at a local park. The police dispatch ladies decided on my prospects for the night. I called back the new church guy who left messages while I was talking to the police. He had me go back to the priest's house. The priest and I agreed to go separately to a motel where I was given a free hotel room for the night. Success!

I rode my bicycle almost to White City, the last town outside of the caverns, before enough spokes broke that I could not ride anymore. Along the way I met a very nice lady selling antiques from her house on the side of the road. She told me to try getting help from the nice man managing the Black River Center for Learning. I pushed my bicycle for a bit then got a ride the last little bit to White City. I asked about the Black River Center for Learning and called them only to get a fax machine screaming at me. I got a ride from a family of campers to the address a few miles away. (http://www.brcl.org/) There were a couple guys in the yard and I explained how I came to be standing in front of them and asked if they could help and how they could help. Larry is the brother of Bill, the guy that manages the place and Larry said he could put me up but he might put me to work. “Threaten me with a good time.” was my reply. I worked there for a couple weeks, they ran out of work and I moved on.

I hitchhiked to Malaga, NM and got a ride from there all the way to Austin, TX with one ride, a lady named Lee. Lee was coming back home from her three month long “midlife tour”. We talked a lot and touched on things one does not normally discuss. I barely met her and yet I miss her.

Lee was very concerned about dropping me off late at night at ARCH, http://www.frontsteps.org/ a homeless shelter in downtown Austin. She was right to be concerned, ARCH is not a good place for someone such as me. The employees were great people but their client population has a lot of drug and alcohol addicts, go figure. :/ I spent the night there huddled next to my bike for warmth and security. I did not sleep. When daylight came I went looking for a better place to stay and the locations of all the places I wanted to work with like Yellowbike. http://www.austinyellowbike.org/

I stayed outside of ARCH on a Thursday night, I think it was December 10. I wandered around Austin in a daze thinking I was doing just fine. That night, Friday, I found a free WIFI place and got an idea where some of the community bike shops were. I rode my bike around getting lost, stopped at several places and realized I left my backpack somewhere. I was terrified and in shock in addition to being exhausted. My backpack contains what I care most about. I retraced my steps and asked street people along the way if they remembered if I was wearing a backpack when I last passed their way. Three hours later I got back to the WIFI site and looked behind this trellis with very healthy looking plastic vines. There, behind the vines was my backpack with everything in it. I was still in shock and exhausted. I retraced my steps again to a covered garage across the street from the OrangeBike community bike shop. www.utenvironment.org/orangebike/ I asked these two guys there who were talking loud and crazy if I could sleep there in the covered garage. They hemmed and hawed but decided it would be OK if I got out of there before 7AM. AHHH! To sleep, perchance to dream.

I used that spot as my center and explored the surroundings. VeggieHeaven restaurant handed out free food, vegetarian oriental food!! I was in love. Where had they been all my life? A day or so later I went back to the covered garage. The two loud and crazy guys were still there with another guy - the guy who owned the house next door. Francis was quite calm and rational in comparison to those two. I again asked if I could sleep there. We all talked for a good and long time. Later on that night Francis came out and said it was going to be really cold, 37 degrees and invited me to sleep inside. I thought '37 is cold?' GOOD FOR ME! I said “Sure, I would love to.”

Francis' hospitality has been a blessing since then. He shares his friends quite freely and they are a very interesting group. I could not begin to describe them other than mostly male and full of energy. Francis is easier to describe; he is a criminal defense lawyer, a herbal gardener, woodworker, historian and a packrat. His office is neat and impeccably furnished but his home looks like the grate at a storm drain where all manner of flotsam have come to rest. Smile I am flotsam? Smile

I endeavor to earn my keep by cleaning house, being entertaining and bringing home tasty tidbits. Francis waits for me to tell his other friends about my trip but he usually does the introductions for me. “Ari is riding his bicycle around the WORLD!”

I found a retail bike shop, www.jackandadamas.com, that has bins outside with discarded parts. The bike shop repair crew tosses parts into the bins and so do customers. There are three bins; clothing and accessories, bike parts, and tire parts. I went diving several times. The first time I got a better bike seat. Recently I snagged cantilever brake pads. I dumped everything out in a corner of their parking lot and sorted the trash out of the bike parts bin to find the brake pads.

The other day, December 21st, I crashed my bike into a car. I got to the top of a hill and looked down on a four way intersection, all the cars were stopped, neatly arranged and I thought 'I can do this'. I got halfway down the hill when a car started moving across my path. “Oh shit! I can't dodge that, I am going to hit it.” I shouted “HEY!” as loud as my theatrical and military training and addled brains allowed but to no avail. I tried to turn the corner, going in the same direction as the car and I even rode his right front tire for an instant. I landed on my butt, back and head, in that order. All kinds of witnesses told me what to do – “don't move!” I moved the few feet off the road to the grass and put my hand on my head where it hurt most – what hurt so much? There was a lot of blood but no hole in my head. I did not need a hole in my head. :/ My bike was trashed, the front wheel and forks were mangled. Parts of my stuff were strewn about the street and grass. I made a feeble attempt to manage things - gather it all together for the trip to the hospital. “Can I go to the VA hospital?” “No, closest is Brackenridge.”

The nurses at the hospital emergency room, outside my room were discussing the two guys with head wounds; do they get sutures or staples? I gave them my opinion for free asked for super glue. I got staples, they do not do super glue. Razz

I told many people I could now hear the aliens much more clearly. Six days later I went back to the emergency room and got the staples removed. I told the two nurses about the aliens and I was glad to be rid of them – the aliens just whined and complained. The male nurse said "Watch out or they will make you pregnant." I replied, "I know, it is terrible how they do that too! Some things just should not be put in some places!" The female nurse laughed with feeling as I walked out the door.

It is now Monday, December 29th. I am at the Spider House coffee house and bar, one of the hottest spots in town. Time to upload and go back to Francis & friends.

On the night of the 31st, several friends of the house came by with offerings and greetings. One of the friends to visit was a very tall and muscular, permanently drunk 20 year old guy trapped in childhood. He told me I was the most attractive tall guy he has ever met. I told him it was a shame he was not a 40ish year old woman with that opinion. Smile

I am working on convincing Francis he needs to see the 3D movie "Avatar" at the Imax theatre; for his spiritual growth, of course.
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