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.

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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.

Alone again

So last night was amazing. I didn’t stay sober but that was expected. In that respect everything went as expected. I woke up this morning on my couch in the living room, a spoon in an open jar of peanut-butter, still wearing my clothes from the night before and one combat boot.

And I was alone. I don’t know if I expected that to be different but I was certainly open to the possibility. I’m really starting to wonder if that is a realistic possibility. I’m seriously starting to doubt whether anyone is getting laid these days. I ran into a friend of mine, a totally hot, horny, polyamorous, bisexual married woman who is not having sex. Seriously, if she’s not getting any then who the fuck is?

I somehow feel like this is partly my fault. I’m trying. I’m doing everything in my power to make myself as sexually desirable as possible. I want there to be more sex in the world. I certainly want there to be more sex for me but I feel like the traditional avenues have been cut off. All of my life goals are completely contrary to being in a relationship so it’s not going to happen that way. The drunk hookup clearly isn’t happening but I don’t think that is really what I want either. Prostitution, although I don’t have any moral objection to it, has never been a turn on for me.

So I’m left with the sober hookup or having sex with friends. The sober hookup is only going to happen if I am really, really horny and kind of desperate. As much as I love, want and need sex my sober self still finds it kind of gross. It’s smelly and sweaty and I don’t care how hot a person is, the human body is just inherently kind of disgusting. Alcohol can help me look past all of that but really what allows me to be attracted to someone is being able to see inside that person. I need to connect with their soul.

That means that I need to deal with all of the emotional complications that come with having sex. I’m okay with that. In fact I’m more than okay with that. It’s actually the emotional connection that I’m seeking. If it was just physical I would totally be happy with masterbation but I’m not. I still feel like there is something missing. I want to be able to share that pleasure with somebody but it needs to be somebody that I deeply care about.

Fortunately I care about a lot of people. I just need to take the time to do the caring. If I’m going to have the kind of sex that I want it’s going to take an investment of time. Since a romantic relationship is not something that I have to offer and what most people are seeking in sexual situations it’s also going to take a lot of clear communication. I think it’s natural for the heart to turn to romance when sex and emotions are brought together. I just don’t want to create any false expectations. I know how bad that can turn out.

So it’s going to be a challenge. That’s okay, I’m always up for a challenge. At least now I have some clear and realistic expectations. I know it’s not going to “just happen”. I know it’s not just a matter of luck. It’s going to take work and it’s going to take time. At least I don’t have to feel like a loser for not getting any.

a penny for your thoughts, a dollar to act them out

Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. – Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia)

I’m going to try and make this a quick post. I’ve been looking forward to this day all summer and I really want to get on with it. I bought my ticket to see Gogol Bordello outdoors at the Cabooze the day they went on sale. I didn’t think they would sell out (and they haven’t); I didn’t know what the weather would be like (I feel like it was snowing when I bought the ticket), I just wanted to make sure that I put it in my calendar and committed to seeing this show. For the past five years I’ve seen them every time they were in town and it’s always an amazing experience.

I’m also just looking forward to getting out on my bike and having a lovely summer afternoon with nothing to do but ride and enjoy the day. A potential added bonus is that I may get to see one of my friends who needed to be removed from my life for a while. She contacted me Wednesday night wanting to know if I wanted to meet up. I’ve been waiting for that opportunity all summer as well. We’ll see how that goes.

So I’ve been doing some connecting the dots.

I heard recently on public radio that the government is changing the way that it calculates the Gross Domestic Product to include things like intellectual property that currently don’t have a clearly defined monetary value. I still think that we would be better off calculating Gross National Happiness but I this is a move in the right direction. Ideas have value and so why don’t we try to quantify it?

I’ve also been working on eliminated my possessions while maintaining my standard of living. I’ve become fascinated with the movement called Collaborative Consumption where instead of everyone having to own things that we don’t use 99% of the time, we share them so that we can reduce our individual consumption while still collectively increasing the benefit of those commodities.

I have a wealth of ideas but honestly I don’t have the time to use most of them. What if I could share them with people who had more time than ideas? Clearly, that is not an original idea. That is going on all the time, every day all over the internet. That is the driving principle behind conferences like TED Talks and the Aspen Ideas Festival. I’m convinced that collectively we have all the ideas we need to solve all the worlds problems. It’s just a matter of getting them into the heads of people that can actually do something with them.

So I have an idea that I want to share. It’s not going to save the world or anything but it’s a fun idea that I’m not going to be able actualize to it’s full potential. In my last blog post I introduced the words drunkonomics and drunkommunication. I feel like there is a book in there using the principles of alcohol and alcohol consumption to teach otherwise boring or confusing subjects. There could even be a chapter on drunkemistry. Alcohol is a solution after all. So feel free to run with that. Hopefully you will give me credit for the idea. Hopefully you will consult with me because I have many more thoughts on the idea. Actually what I want is a penny on the dollar so if you make a million dollars off my idea I want ten grand.

Post number 100

NOTE: This is my 100th blog post. I’ve known this day was coming for some time and have thought quite a bit about how to make it special. I wanted to do some sort of reflective piece discussing my goals and where I am on my path to obtaining them. Let’s just say that that goal, like all my other goals, isn’t following any prescribed timeline. So this post is nothing special for being number 100 although it is number 100 which is kind of cool in and of itself.  

I feel like I have some catching up to do. After taking 10 days off from driving pedicab to spend time with my daugher and focus on the benifit show I have gone back to it full force. Since last Thursday I have clocked in 46 hours driving pedicab. On top of that I spent 8 hours today delivering City Pages. That is an hour longer than it should have taken me but I was moving a bit slower having had only three and a half hours of sleep last night. My only day off was Monday and I wasn’t feeling very social. Writing is a social act for me so I hope you can understand why I haven’t written in a while.

I recall writing not too long ago about worrying that the pedicab thing might cause me to make too much money. That has not proven to be the case this past week. I actually did alright last Thursday and last night but Friday through Sunday was a downward spiral. Sunday I actually lost money. I’m sure that the company would have cut me a break on rent if I had asked for it but I’m not going to do that unless I have to. I look at this as a business and I’m in it for the long haul. Some days are going to be better than others and some days I may lose money. The important thing is that company I lease from are able to stay in business because they allow me to have a job that I can do, is meaningful and moves my life forward. Money is secondary at best.

After having a not so hot Friday night I was really tempted to take Saturday off. The weather was really kind of shitty which added to my difficulty getting in the mood. I went into The Depot for breakfast with coffee and a screwdriver. In came a group of cyclists that stopped by for a shot on their way to Tour de Fat. They were already half in the bag which is really where I wanted to be. If I wasn’t driving pedicab, that is exactly where I would have been.

I still went to Tour de Fat on my pedicab. Since it’s a biking event there weren’t many opportunities to get rides but I did get one.  It was a mother, her toddler and her friend who had come into town from Chicago to support her while her infant son was in the hospital with some serious medical problems. Along with them came a stroller, an umbrella and a couple big bags. It took an hour before they were ready to leave the bar then I drove them to the liquor store and pharmacy before bringing them back to the apartment. It was the type of service that could easily have warranted a hundred dollar tip but I refuse to be about the money. They paid me what it took for them to feel good – just like anyone else. I was just thrilled to be part of their experience. I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to be part of that moment.

I know that some of the pedicab drivers that are upset because I do some things for less money than they would and that by doing so I somehow cheapen the profession. I also take care of obnoxious drunks that other people don’t want to deal with. I also spent half an hour helping one of the cashiers at our favorite downtown convenience stores find an ATM so he could deposit money even though he didn’t have any money to give me. I also gave a ride to a homeless woman, clear across town, during bar close, because she had no idea where she was and needed to get to the shelter. I have no idea if any of this makes good business sense but it’s the human thing to do. I just feel lucky that I have the ability to do something about it. Still, at the end of the season I’m pretty convinced that I will have made as much money as anyone.

This weekend though, where I didn’t make very much, my thoughts were on how much I saved. If I hadn’t been driving pedicab and having wonderful, meaningful experiences, I would have been out drinking and spending money. I’m not saying that wouldn’t have been wonderful and meaningful as well but the economics would have been different. Hmmm… that’s got me thinking about drunk economics. I mean Freakonomics is already taken but maybe I could write a book called Drunkonomics.

I don’t know, I’m a pretty cheap drunk these days. Since I’ve been driving pedicab I’m not drinking as much, I’ve lost weight and my metabolism has changed to the point where it doesn’t really take that much to get me drunk. After working Sunday I decided to do an experiment and see if I could bar hop home without getting shit-faced wasted. I fucking love science!

Well the experiment was pretty much over after two bars and three drinks but I was still committed to seeing it through so I grabbed my self some White Castle and kept going. I don’t know why but as long as I’ve been a vegetarian I still crave shitty fast food sometimes. Okay, maybe being drunk had something to do with it, but still… gross.

Next I hit The Otter for some Karaoke. I requested to sing “Use Me” by Bill Withers but had finished my beer and whiskey before they called my name – probably a good thing.

From there I had my choice of bars to hit but I knew that it would be a good idea to put some distance on my bike before drinking any more. Jimmy’s seemed like a good call and it did wind up being a good time. Oh yeah, there was kind of a side experiment going on to see if I could get drunk enough to hook up with a random stranger. I was totally there but apparently not everyone was running the same experiment so I moved on. I had one more stop before I had to head home.

I did wind up getting picked up at the last bar. I can’t really say how that went south but I have a feeling it had something to do with drunkommunication. Anyway, I wound up back at the bar and biking home. I made it home just fine. I was pretty wiped out from the weekend but I was home safe… except I didn’t have my keys to get in the house. FUCK! I had them when I unlocked my bike.  Where could they be?

I tore through all my bags and pockets until I was convinced that I didn’t have them. I contemplated breaking into my own house. I contemplated calling the police because I was concerned for my safety. Crazy, disabled, drunk people shouldn’t be left outside alone at night… but then I realized that we are all the time and that I really was on my own.

I knew that my keys had to be somewhere between my house that the bar which was three and a half miles away. Chances were that I dropped them when I unlocked my bike so I headed back to the bar. I made it to the bar but couldn’t find my keys. I collapsed on the stoop feeling completely defeated when the staff started filtering out of the bar.

The bartender asked me, “What’s wrong J?”

“I can’t find my keys.”

He looked around the bike rakes and picked something up and said, “Are these them?”

“Yes, yes, yes. Oh thank you soooo much!”, and I gave him a big hug.

Feeling all energized I made it back home although I really was still running on fumes and swerving all over the road.

Oh well.

All’s well that ends well, right? Okay, so maybe drunken pub crawls can’t be part of my lifestyle these days. I’m also concerned that getting drunk is not a solution to lack of sex but that is why we run experiments. I’m still convinced that science holds the answer.

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