On Giving and Receiving: Charity vs Community
Hi there! It’s Alyssa, sister and sidekick to Jack Friday (Adam) and Jane Witchweeks (Emma) on Hot Daniel’s maiden trek across the United States.
We left my home in Asheville, NC, two weeks ago, but the experiences we’ve already had could fill volumes. The journey has been predictably unpredictable, as we adjust to living on the road, on a bus, with three people and a cat.
Our trip started with a hiccup- we loaded ourselves and our belongings, took a picture for posterity, and cheered with excitement. And then the bus wouldn’t start. After much banging with wrenches on the alternator, we realized that it might just be the batteries. It was. Two new batteries from the local Advanced Auto parts, and we were actually and officially underway.
My friend Elizabeth joined us for the first leg of our trip, from North Carolina to the Houston area. We donned silly hats and danced to Jerry in the back of the bus as Jane drove down I-26 into South Carolina. It didn’t take too long to acclimate to the bumpy ride, and we cruised through the Southeast and into Alabama without incident.
We stopped for the night in Tuskeegee National Forest in Alabama, just west of the Georgia border. Excitedly hopping off the bus to look around, we were promptly swarmed by fire ants. For our readers who aren’t familiar with insects of the Deep South and southwest, a tiny explanation: fire ants are evil demon creatures. They are tiny and look harmless, and their bites feel like getting stabbed with acid-tipped needles. The bites swell over a course of hours, and leave angry blisters for days after. Despite these minions of the Great Deceiver, we still had a lovely night complete with lentil stew, campfire sing-along, and my first ever night sleeping in a hammock under the stars.
Our spirits strong, we embarked the next day for New Orleans, with hopes of Andouille sausage and fried everything enticing in the distance. However, a few hours driving across Alabama and Mississippi made apparent to us the one gaping hole in our plans for our initial journey: we hadn’t accounted for the heat and humidity. Sweat soaked through our clothes as we approached Louisiana, and we realized that stopping the night in New Orleans would guarantee good food, but also desperately uncomfortable time in the bus, for us, as well as sweet Trout. Emma, in a typical display of strength and heroism, drove straight through, and we arrived at my mother’s house after an epic fifteen hours of driving.
My mother’s house was like a paradisiac dream after the heat of the road. She and my younger brother greeted us at 2am with love and cold beer, and we settled into a week-long respite full of delicious food and near constant board and card games.
We met many of her colleagues and friends from the Conroe ISD where she has taught for more than a decade, and received words of encouragement and suggestions for easing the stresses of the road. Finally, our time drew to a close, and we headed for Austin- college home of both Adam and myself, current home to many friends and family members (including aforementioned Elizabeth and her partner David; older brother Austin and Cassie, whom you’ll meet soon).
To say that we were generously greeted would be a massive understatement. When Jane Witchweeks, Jack Friday, younger brother Alex, and I arrived in Austin late Friday night, we were welcomed to Elizabeth and David’s home with hot stir fry and cold beer (we love being greeted with a cold beer), and the local extended family almost all made appearances. In the five intervening days, we have gone out for tacos (ALL THE TACOS), toured my old college campus, taken a plunge in a secret beach, mapped routes, and made art.
Now that you’re up to date on the more mundane aspects of the trip, I want to reflect for a moment on what, for me, has been the main undercurrent of this journey to date. So far, we have encountered many small obstacles. There have been no catastrophes like what our fellow gypsy friends from Hill People (https://www.etsy.com/shop/HillPeople) navigated on their cross country journey, but we have felt the pressure of plans that don’t execute the way they were imagined, logistical difficulties, and a general sense of defeat in the face of what seems astronomical oversight in preparations.
However, despite all the bumps in our proverbial road (not to mention getting used to the bumpiness of bus travel), we are absolutely flourishing. Texas turned out to be simply too hot to live in the bus right now; our family immediately offered us solutions in the form of rooms dedicated to Trout habitation or even offers of cat-sitting while we work out the initial journey kinks. Some plants in the greenhouse turned out to be harboring nests of ant eggs; once again family came through with suggestions for natural ant poison and accommodations for us while we deal with the minor ant infestation of Hot Daniel.
For me, it has been two weeks of learning new humility. Some people find it hard to ask for help; in my usual extreme fashion I can have a hard time accepting it even when it is freely offered, because the thought that someone observed me “failing” is tantamount to conceding defeat. However, I have had to realize that despite my problem solving personality, I cannot handle all issues that arise on my own through sheer determination and cheerfulness.
This adventure has proved to be an intense foray into personal vulnerability; as with any community it necessitates a willingness to share and be shared with, to help and be helped. But because our entire lives are contained within the body of Hot Daniel right now, when our resources there fall short for any reason, our only recourse is to look to those around us for that support.
So far, we haven’t even had to ask. The loving generosity of our friends and family has buoyed us through all the little pitfalls. I’m grateful for the opportunity to practice trusting those around me. Right now we have still only ventured into the realms of established community; in a few days we’ll be heading north, then west, toward places none of us have ever travelled. The home has been built; the community around it grows. Thanks for reading this and being a part of it.
call me old fashioned
call me Randolph st. Cosmo, call me after you’ve offered a passion and a period tantamount to what you decision will demand in the future it will help carve from the luminous certainty of directionless potential.
Drunken martial arts request we consider the virtue of flexibility, of the cooperative nature of choice, the solidity of two wills intertwined. Rigid onslaught is greeted with stumbly buffoonery but keep watching mon petit cerisier, the rigidity of concrete movement, agreed upon forms, accepted positions; what hope does Order’s dimethyltryptamine-clear outline cling to with slackening grip in the falling cloak of Chaos’ crack-filling negative space?
I imagine this question is answered with resounding laughter that starts and echoes always behind one ear or another, ticklish with vibrations persevering through space fields of no friction, but Order won’t hear it: Order, alas, remained monolingual until its Reintroduction Day.
Road trips, life plans, breakfast tacos, who can know the mind of the road? Who has given life counsel for its plan?
Start with breakfast tacos, my many friends, success is success.
And if you’re ever in Austin, Tx after a healthful night of chaotically neutral exploration of life’s hydra, debauched possibilities turn your hungover heart toward 1st street. Let it lead you to Juan in a Million’s and learn what a breakfast taco can become. Taste and see who is good.
Wherever I am that’s where I’ll be. The barbacity of truth. I confess it is off-putting to be an object of amusement, the recipient of leers, the variable in a bet. And yet, with what else could the objective realities couching this and all universes in their unwavering estimation of each action, inaction regard me, the lonely man? Rising and falling response is ineffable, a saturating fog of semipermeable leach-mind microbioals squatting in the dense, sticky heat of the green translucent mist of existence; facing the day fist out, taking every anvil from the sky in stride, building a loft bed only to more comfortably hide under it: Truth, Love, Time, Untime, Fate and Luck look on, bemused with their own omnipotence, as I set my foot upon uneven ground, walking shakily, and continue after the questing beast of meaning.
I suppose it is cruel of me to ask the watchers for purpose. They cannot appreciate life from my vantage point; the sharpness of the angles will bleed them out, accustomed as they are to the softer boundaries of Possibility.
We are off to Austin, Tx, the full weight of karma and its all percussion ensemble a load we carry lighthearted, square shouldered.
bum bum bum
Travel too far in any direction these days and someone will say to somebody, “You’ve got to manifest…” followed by honorable mentions of “abundance,” “the universe (with or without regard to a multiverse possibility),” and “intentional _____.”
Alas, to these somebodies I am always no-one-in-particular so their methods are unknown to me.
Recently my partner came to me with business proposition: build a greenhouse. A fine idea and I had a plan ready. Well, no plan is a plan in the sense that the word “plan” is necessary to it. An added bonus is its immediate applicability.
My kindergarten training in block-whole compatibility outlined my general approach: remove and replace with similar shapes.
Note: measure many times. If you cut short of your predicted measurements you can always trim further later.
Angle grinders are incredible for cutting metal, for cutting anything really. Cheap or quality model avoid extension cords if you can. Never use more than one, though. If the distance between workplace and outlet extends beyond one cord’s reach buy a longer cord. I burned two motors alive in their casings failing to heed my own warning. Two is the enemy of one.
Easy peasy. After removing the metal it was a simple matter of drilling holes in the Lexan (bendier and more resilient than plexi-just) every six inches and at least an inch from the edge, then drilling matching holes in the metal lip. I secured each side with bolt, metal and rubber washer above and below and a nut to hold it firmly in place.
For 8’X3’ 5 sheets of Lexan (one large for the middle and two matching pairs for the gently, then steeply angling sides) sufficed.
While it’s likely the sheets could be laid side by side my method saw them overlap slightly. Silicone or caulk work well to seal any gaps of which there may be many. The 2X4 pictured here was employed to stabilize the sharp angle of the arch required to recreate the edge of the roof. On the other side a 2X4 proved un-needful. c’est le bâtiment.
Post-greenhouse augmentation Emma breathed life into the still-cold shell. Today it’s a steamy good time hub, a horticultural hot spot.
You heard it here first and you won’t hear it anywhere else.
Rebuilding the temple
Running in a straight line along a flat circle I (once them: of the people of the book) stopped short of collision with him (formerly him). Darius! The great? Perhaps, but certainly the first I have met (at least in this leg of the race).
Before and behind ( a veritable cincture) the desperate forests of Alabama broke ranks and reformed with a tragic, wilting ferocity. Wary but wise he descended from the high place and met me, hands open in greeting.
“What is your business here, traveler?”
Oh the comfort of the common tongue.
“My companions and I seek respite from the generosity of the sun and the tireless road.”
“Who are your people and where does your allegiance lie?”
I confessed confusion and Darius, great in magnanimity, produced a ledger which held the secret architecture that saw order come to the green chaos even now hunger to reclaim us. Having granted safe passage throughout his empire Darius, district ranger of Tuskegee National Park, sent us off to rest and quiet, smiling calm.
We shall not meet again in this life or the next but may our thanks and the blessings of ahura mazda be upon him and his own as they navigate the billowing wilds of Alabama, amen.