I don’t want to save the planet, I’m sure it will be fine, I just want to make a better world

I laugh at myself. I should have known that I couldn’t condense my thoughts into a few small posts and accurately reflect my past week. Sometimes I wish that I was a comic and could put everything that I want to say in 14 words. Luckily there are some brilliant people like Joel Pett who can:


Not used by permission (sosueme)

For more on this subject check this out:


Life is beautiful

The other morning, to be specific, the morning of Tuesday August 20th, 2013, I woke up with the most incredible sensation. As my eyes opened to greet the day I felt absolutely convinced that life was beautiful and that we lived in a world where everything was exactly as it was meant to be. For that moment in time I was living in the best of all possible worlds.

Then two hours later I woke up for real. I had in fact only been dreaming of this world. But could there be some truth to it? Could it be that life actually is beautiful? Many people have suggested that it is but given that I write a blog titled “Life Sucks, So What?!?” I clearly have my doubts.

Still, for two hours I was living in the best of all possible worlds. I was completely safe, happy and receiving everything I needed or could possibly desire. In that moment what I needed more than anything, to the exclusion of everything else, was sleep and what a beautiful sleep it was.

So this begs the question; does life suck or is it beautiful? I don’t think that I am going too far out on a limb to say that it is both. I realize that this might upset some of my friends who are convinced that life is beautiful but welcome to reality.

Actually, that is the real question. What is reality? I love my happy-go-lucky-life-is-beautiful friends but sometimes I get frustrated because I feel like we are not living in the same reality. Perhaps that is the case. Perhaps there are multiple realities. Or as I like to think of it; reality is just really, really fucking big and no one person can ever see all of it at once. Sometimes we see the parts that suck, sometimes we the parts that are beautiful.  Some people carve out their own vision of reality by only seeing what they want to see. Actually, that might be most people but I don’t have the budget to do the research and frankly, most statistics suck. Feel free to prove me wrong it you want to conduct a study and quantify the beauty of statistics.

My life is as an artist… or philosopher or whatever the fuck I am. I see my job as looking at everything, trying to make some sort of sense out of it, and doing the best job I can at communicating what I see. My job is to connect the dots. My job is to bring the universe back to earth. What I am quickly realizing is that the universe is really fucking big and that there are a lot of dots. I feel like an astrologer looking up at the ancient night sky and thinking, “there has got to be an answer in there somewhere”.


The truth is that all those dots are connected. They all affect one another. Some connections may be more significant than others, just like some of our personal relationships are more significant than others, but the truth is we are all connected. To be honest, the dots connected by astrologers seem a bit random to me, but so what?!? We all have to make choices in this universe and if it works for you, who am I to judge?

Reality is big enough for everyone. If you want to believe that life is beautiful, go ahead. There is plenty of evidence to support that theory.  If you want to believe that life sucks, it’s pretty easy to do that as well. If you think that there is a supreme order to the universe and that everything happens for a reason, be my guest. If you think we live in completely chaos, I feel ya there too.

On this particular day in late August three young people including a toddler and a pregnant woman were shot in my neighborhood.  While no one was fatally injured there is no denying that this was a tragedy and the outrage exhibited by the community is completely understandable. My heart goes out to all the victims and to everyone affected by this incident. This has got to stop and our communities have got to come together and do a better job.

Still, I feel it’s important to point out that there were 387,750 people in Minneapolis who were NOT shot that day. Our odds of being shot on that day in Minneapolis were less than 1 in 100,000 or 0.0008%. Fortunately I don’t need a big research budget to come up with those statistics but they don’t exactly help much either. Crunching numbers and connecting dots seems pretty stupid when we have bullets connecting with flesh.

On that same day I took my daughter and her dog Toastie for a walk along the Mississippi River, across the Stone Arch Bridge to explore the ruins of the old mill city. It may very well have been one of the best days I have ever spent with my daughter but what I found most profound was that my daughter had a dog. She got this dog just a week before but she had been dreaming of it for two years. She even had the name picked out. So many people tried to dissuade her from her pursuit of getting a dog but she persevered. I encouraged her to keep her dream alive because even if it was unattainable I know that life can only be as good as our dreams.

And her dream did come true.

My dream in which I discovered a world of beauty could come true as well. I doubt that it will but so fucking what?!? Of all the misguided dreams and false hopes out there, believing that we can make the world a better place is one I’m willing to embrace.

Speaking of dreams, given that tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom I want to leave you with these words of another unrealistic dreamer, Martin Luther King Jr:

Tonight is the night

After sleeping most of the afternoon, recharging my batteries in preparation for the most impossible of endurance tasks, I reach for my favorite energy drink of hops and barley knowing that it may be the only thing that will sustain me during this marathon mission of sitting still.

This summer has clearly seen a decrease in the amount of time I have spent writing. I guess that is understandable. I have been busy but lack of free time is not really my excuse. Technically, all my time is free and I probably have more of it during the summer than I do during the winter. I just can’t stop moving. When I do, I fall asleep. I’ve been trying to write every day but I never seem to get anywhere.

Tonight I will try again. TIme has a way of condensing and solidifying my thoughts so rather than writing about every mundane detail my hope it that I can highlight some key experiences and their relevant conclusions. Rather that one long disjointed post my plan is to write a few shorter posts that get right to the point. The thought gives me a bit of a chuckle but let’s see how it goes.

I’m not ready

I had this absolutely awe inspiring transformative day on Tuesday. This day came on the heels of an incredibly fun, thought provoking weekend. I couldn’t wait to get home and write about it but as soon as I walked in the door I recieved a phone call from a friend who wanted to discuss disturbing hallucinations, emotional outbursts and horse ballet. Obviously, that was more important.

It also made it clear to me that my life has become a little too humdrum so instead of writing about my recent enlightenment I decided to go out and see what the rest of the world is up to on a Tuesday night. There are secret lives of fascinating people going on everywhere, even on a Tuesday.

Perhaps it’s all just too much for me. I can’t stop thinking. I can’t stop writing and rewriting Tuesday’s blog post in my head. It’s brilliant. It’s wonderful. It’s poetic… and really, really long. Actually, it’s kind of confusing and disjointed.  I can’t remember ever being so simultaneously excited and apprehensive to write anything in my life. I’m sure that I have but at the moment I am completely consumed by this present quandary.

And it is exhausting. All I want to do is sleep. I don’t want to see anyone, talk to anyone or do anything. I just want to be left alone to do nothing. I guess I need more time for my thoughts to either solidify or dissolve away. So today I wait for the future in which I can meet my past with rested eyes.

Pay it forward

Since I started driving pedicab back in March I’ve been trying to figure out an economic model that works for me. I do the job because I love it, it’s good for my body and good for my soul. I need to make money doing it but if money was my sole motivation I would never do it.

My favorite rides are the ones I give for free, or at least not expecting any money. My second favorite are the ones where people totally over tip. That makes me feel good too. I usually I get a good balance of the two but one day a couple weeks ago I had a day where no one over tipped, but no one got a free ride or under paid either. Everyone paid their fair share and I made as much as I usually do. For some, that would be the perfect system and something to replicate but it didn’t sit right with me. It didn’t seem real. I want greater diversity. I want people to get rides even if they can’t afford it and I want people to feel good about paying more if they can.

What I really want is to be able to do my job without thinking about the money. What I really want is to be able to make a living by just being me and doing what I do naturally. I don’t feel comfortable accepting payment for services rendered because I consider the service to be priceless. The idea that you can get someone to haul you around on a bicycle if you give them enough money feels like bribery to me.

So I decided that no one would get to pay for their ride. I’ve saved enough money that I can do this, at least for a little while. In essence, that ride has already been paid for through the generosity of riders before them. My hope was that even though nobody had to pay me anything they would still want to. Since they couldn’t pay for their own ride I would let them pay for somebody elses. The belief being that we are all in this together and everyone does their part to support the community. It’s like I could never charge one of my friends for a ride but at the same time they have been some of the best tippers. I would just treat everyone like my friend. I thought it was a brilliant and original idea, but would it work?

Actually it’s not that original and it has worked. It’s basically the principle of “pay it forward”. Karma Kitchen and Seva Cafe work that way. There are numerous other examples of people paying it forward in real life.

Since I’ve been doing this for the past week and a half I’ve found it to be a pretty sound business model – at least for me. I’m getting the diversity of riders that I want and my income has stayed pretty much the same. Everyone who wants a ride can get a ride and everyone feels good paying what they can pay, even if that is nothing. Those that can’t pay it forward with money I ask to pay it forward with an act of kindness. Everyone has something to give and if we all do our part we can make the world a better place.


I slept for another six hours last night from 4am until just after 10am but still awoke feeling exhausted with very little fight in me. I tried to get ahold of my daughter to make plans for the day with no luck. I continued with anything in which I could find inspiration. On this day it involved bleaching and dying my hair and painting my nails. I tried working on a graphic design project but couldn’t stay focused.

Then at one this afternoon my daughter appeared on my doorstep without warning. It was a pleasant surprise but one which I wish I was given time to prepare. Perhaps anticipation of her arrival would have fulled my spirit. Instead I was left struggling to even make conversation and feeling disappointed that I was letting her down. Eventually I was left with no option but to bring her home.

With the thought that perhaps my diet has affected my energy level I prepared a healthy salad. Soon I will be on my bike heading downtown. I’m looking forward to driving pedicab although my body is scoffing me. It is with faith that I carry on in the face of doubt and ridicule.

G’night mate

Well that didn’t work quite as planned. As soon as I had decided to call it a night I began getting text messages from a buddy who wanted to hang out. I had just enough drinks in me at the time to consider it a good idea. It was a good idea. Spending time with friends is one of the things that has gotten out of balance lately. It just meant that I wasn’t going to be getting to bed early or getting up early.

In fact I didn’t wake up until 11am and had to run straight away to deliver City Pages. By the time I got home it was 7pm and I was exhausted. I crawled in bed with my dinner and was passed out shortly there after. Next think I knew it was two in the morning. I’m still yawning and tired so hopefully I can get back to sleep and try this again tomorrow.

Between recently and soon

I have another post that I really wanted to get done today but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Today is one of those days where I am struggling to get anything done. I’m just too exhausted to move and sitting makes we fall asleep. It’s a pretty well deserved exhaustion though.

I worked 11 hours driving pedicab on Saturday. I didn’t think that I would actually be working that late because I expected it to rain, but it never did. I wound up throwing in the towel at midnight because I was losing my ability to stay focused. I didn’t feel like it would be safe for me to stay on the road any longer.

Luckily I took Sunday off but rather than resting I biked 25 miles out to Lake Minnetonka. I went with my friend who is a pretty bad ass biker… and drinker. We stopped at several bars on the way back then stayed up until the wee hours drinking in her garage.

I woke up fairly hungover on Monday and really considered taking the day to rest but figured it would be better to push on through. I did and it wound up being a wonderful day.

I didn’t have much going on today except seeing my daughter. That actually got pushed back several hours due to miscommunication so I never got moving today. I’m still not up for doing much moving.

Maybe I can get up early tomorrow and get some creative stuff done but I’m done with today! Today’s purpose was simply to mark the spot between what I have done and what I will do.

I’ve given my notice at City Pages so I don’t know how much longer I will be delivering the paper. It could end any week now but at least I know that I have that to do tomorrow. I’m actually really looking forward to it. Tomorrow can’t come soon enough.

Love is greater than guilt

So we have a large homeless population in Minneapolis. I had a couple from Austin, TX in my cab last night. The woman works with the homeless population in Austin and so I included a tour of some of our homeless facilities. She was amazed at how big they were.

Personally, if I was living on the streets I would rather be in Austin, TX than Minneapolis, MN… certainly in the winter, but I guess I had never thought about whether we had more or less people who were homeless than other cities. But I do think about people who are homeless a lot and I am very grateful that they are part of my life. They have taught me so much about survival and what is important in life. My senior intership in college was working at a drop in center for homeless youth. I love that as a pedicab driver I get to help and interact with people who are homeless all the time. I love when I have a good night like last night and I am able to give money to people who are homeless.

Most people who are homeless do not have jobs but that does not mean that the don’t have money or ways to get money. In this society we all need money to survive and being homeless does not exempt anyone from that reality. Unemployed people living on the street find ways to get money from government services, private charities and from you. The charities and government programs are a pretty set deal. The best opportunity a person has to improve their situation is with you. You are the variable. Whether or not you give to this other human being is what makes the difference.

But this isn’t really about the homeless. This is everyone. We all survive by someone giving us money. We may say that we earned the money, and certainly we did, but there are other ways to get you to work. Slavery may have been outlawed but we are not so removed from it to forget that it existed.

At least when we are giving money to the homeless we are doing it out of our own free will, right?

Not funking exactly! The homeless use the same tactics to get money from you that corporations do. These are the same tactics that politicians use. They are the same tactics that get us to buy lottery tickets. They are the same tactics that every business uses. They are the same tactics that pedicab drivers use. They play on our emotions. They use our love, hope, fear, joy and guilt to get us to give them money.

So here is my story:

I finished early last night; before bar close. I headed to the Saloon where a number of my friends go for Hard Mondays and still had time to down a couple of strong cocktails before heading to McKenzie for a good beer before the night was over. There I met a guy who was in town from San Francisco to record with my friend Matt “the Doctor” Fink of Prince and the Revolution. There is a whole nuther story there but it’s a bit off topic. Still, we talked until 2:30 am and they said we had to leave. I returned to the Saloon to get my bike and ran into a few friends who were still hanging out. After they left I found myself with the homeless guys who hang out in front of the Saloon.

I didn’t have much to offer but I did have an airline bottle of gin and cigs to go around. A couple of guys insisted on giving me money so I accepted it. In my line of work people insist on giving me money all the time. I kind of have to take it or I don’t get to keep working.

[There are actually about three or four more stories that could go here but I’m sorry, I can’t actually write about everything. If you feel like you are missing anything read the last 70,000 words I’ve written… or stay tuned for the next 70,000,]

At the end of my stay one of the guys asked me if he could get the money he gave me back. This put me in a very awkward position. I will give anyone anything that I can when I am motivated by love. I gave him a cigarette out of love. He gave me money which I received as love and now he wants it back. We had a little conversation and this is what I left him with:

“We had an exchange that was based in love. If I give you money, the money you gave me, it will be tainted with guilt. The love that we shared has more value than the money in my pocket and if you carry that love into the world you will find more money than what you gave me for a cigarette.”

He agreed with me and I hope that he did find more money. If not, I totally own him 53 cents.

Here is my million dollar idea for which I only expect a penny on the dollar:

Stand at the end of a freeway exit with a sign that simply says, “I Love You”. I would suggest using some colored markers and making it pretty but here is the key: hand the drivers who give you money a flower. It could be a wild flower that you pick from the roadside or feel free to come pick flowers from my yard. They say that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar but I don’t think that is true. Besides, who the fuck would want to catch flies anyway? I’m just saying that you can catch more money with love than guilt. For all I know I might be wrong about that but still… as long as you can get what you need – fucking do it with love.

Express trip to right now

Today is Monday, the start of a new work-week for most people. For me, everyday is the start of a new life. For me, every day is the same. Every day is a day to reflect on the past, move forward into the future, all the while remaining in the present.

Writing affords me the to opportunity to do all those things. Today I am moving. Today I have energy. Today I am aware of all the things I have to do and I am bloody fucking overwhelmed. Today you get my to-do list.

  • I still need to fix the drip in my bathtub. My last attempt did not do the job. I’m still recycling the wasted water but it’s not a long term solution.
  • I need to quite my delivery jobs. It’s time and I need to recycle that time into other things. This will also allow me to sell my van.
  • I need to design and order business cards. It seems like a stupid thing but without them even I don’t take myself seriously.
  • I need to write my creditors and let them know that I am breaking up with them. This seems like an important thing that I should have taken care of a long time ago but it has had a hard time making it to the top of the to-do pile.
  • I also need to file my property tax refund. The fact that I haven’t done that is just stupid.
  • The state also owes me medicare premium reimbursement for the entire year. I really need to figure out what is going on with that.
  • I still need to close my bank account and open an account with a credit union. I’ve been waiting for my federal tax refund to do that but who knows when that will show up.
  • I have a concept for a DJ night that I have wanted to do for forever. The idea has finally gelled and I think it can work. I just need to write up a proposal and get the ball moving.
  • I seriously need to replace my phone. The screen has been cracked and the camera not working for six months. I have it insured, I just need to make the call to get it replaced.
  • While I’m at that I also need to get my stove and washing machine fixed or replaced.
  • And I’ve got some medical problems that I need looked at. I’ve got a sliver in my thumb that has been bothering me for months and my prosthetic eye is about two years overdue for replacement. I could also use to see the dentist.
  • And while on the subject of health I really need to spend more time stretching. My muscles have been been getting a lot stronger but I haven’t been taking the time to keep them loose and it’s starting to cause problems.
  • I need to find more time for my friends. I know that this is the “year of me” but it seems somehow pointless without anyone to share it with.

Sadly, even with all of that to do it looks like the only things I may accomplish today is laundry and the dishes. Hopefully tomorrow I can mow the lawn.

And fuck…

I still need to eat.

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