1.6. What day is it?

We’ve all had the experience of forgetting what day it is.  Usually we are one day off.  We lose a day because we’ve focused on something to the point of distraction.  Or gain a day by hurrying along some coming event.  But today I realized I couldn’t guess the day within two days–and there is a very pleasant otherworldly quality to that.  I hope it states how completely I’ve escaped to Life on the Road.

I do have things to do.  I left the Bay Area with a list of projects and tasks long enough to hang a week’s wash on.

I got tired of culling and deciding how much of what was necessary.  I know that I left with too many tools, clothes, office supplies, can of soups, and half-pints of blueberry yogurt. There are boxes of unsorted papers, chachkas, and other trivia that need my hands to feel and heft and decide to keep or not, and where to stow.

I have sorted through, donated, and dumpsters so much stuff in the last few months I have come to regard household closets and cabinets as the battlefield of the War Against Stuff.  Stuff is taking over the earth.

Today on Day 10 of the Year on the Road I am visiting my friend, Ron, near Tacoma.  He is a disciplined and opinionated.  He made me sprawl my mishigas of tools out in his driveway.  Then to get rid of the second dozen screwdrivers, spare electric drill, and socket wrenches, my #16 grit sanding discs, and hardware for racing sailboats.  I also discovered I was missing a few critical tools.

Ron wants to confront and consolidate my several medical kits leftover from home, office, camp supplies, and road emergency kits.  My excesses of clothes and linens are well-hidden for me to sort through another time.  It is not that I don’t realize I am over-stocked, just that I want to make my choices in a more leisurely fashion and after a little time on the road to get a sense of what I really need.  What set of tux accessories will fit my mood on the next tuxedo occasion?  The traditional black?  The maroon of my high school colors? Or the red fashion statement of Valentine’s Day?  Thus continue the agonies and nostalgia pauses of simplification and letting go.

I have a new set of routines that take a bite out of the day.  Monitor the propane tank, the water tanks (clear, gray, and black).  There is regular communion with my travel guides, maps, and visits to Internet sites for diesel prices, dump stations, campgrounds, and w-fi hot spots.  The last is not so important because of the hot spot feature of my new Droid.

And the routine I’ve missed the most: the 30-day drought in blog postings.  Today is the first day back to what I intend to be a metabolic regularity.

From captain’s seat about the Jolly Swag at mile 720 from the Year’s starting point.

23 Responses to 1.6. What day is it?

  1. karen wittgraf says:

    You really meant it. I thought you just might change your mind and enjoy the comforts of Jane. Miss her, don’t you? I’m happy to hear that you have all the equipment you need (and then some). Halloween is coming up- hope you have some orange attire!
    Thanks for the update, Karen

  2. Jacob says:

    I’m sitting here in Zocalo’s studying and within minutes of mentally asking myself, you post an entry that in a single swoop answered many of my questions. “I wonder how Al’s doing”, “I wonder where Al is right now”, and of course “I wonder what phone Al eventually went with”.

    I hope you are enjoying your travels. Should you have the time and interest, I suggest you read “The Plenitude” by Rich Gold which is a philosophical discussion of “stuff” from the perspective of its creator. I found it interesting to muse over the origins, function, and direction in which “stuff” evolves – maybe you will to.

    You have been blessed with the two very gracious traveling companions – curiosity and imagination. I look forward to your next entry.

  3. David Bauer says:

    Thanks for the update, Al. Your comments about ditching your stuff, and thereby lightening your load, is inspirational. I too must do the same, but what challenges me the most are the boxes of books that I have accumulated beginning in college and continuing through graduate school and a career teaching in higher education. Just as you have said about making decisions about your various tools, I struggle with myself about what books to discard and which are essential enough for me to keep. On the other hand, I am beginning to think that I can always rely on a library, making it possible for me to unload the works.

    At any rate, it’s good to get your progress report. Keep them coming.

    Dave

  4. captmal says:

    Glad to hear you are at last on the road and are in good sprits, casting off stuff is indeed hard to do,I’ve done It at least three times but somehow It seems to just grow back.

    Really glad to hear you retained “Jolly Swag” as the name of the land yacht, reminds me of another jolly, the “Jolly Olde” we spent many a happy hour cruising the bays and waterways, when I think back I feel a smile come across my face,hope you do too.

    Just got back from ten days in Mexico, had to get my fix of swimming with the fish,and all the other stuff(more stuff) one does in Mexico…..
    catch you later with the details….

    May you continue to have fair winds and dry decks…….Mal

  5. It’s one thing hitting the road, Al, but quite another to leave all the stuff behind. CWC authors were at the NCIBA trade show. I looked at the group under our banner and thought of you. We have come a long way because of you.
    Enjoy your travels,
    Alon
    http://www.leftcoastvoices.com/

  6. alan stowell says:

    Way to go Al!
    Nice blog or whatever it is called.
    In PR…”mas mierda”?Anyways……cleaning out my lockers and putting Adara up for sale
    I come up with so much caca…duplicates and triplicates of EVERYthing…..and realise that it was easier to go out and buy another “thing” rather than find the one I bought a year ago…and is hidden somewhere on the boat!
    Que pendejos somos!
    Old Prican circa 1975!
    Drive safe old amigo.

    • allevenson says:

      I fell into the duplicate trap. It finally dawned on me that I can go to the store and buy another when I need it rather than buy a spare today that I will not be able to find when I need it. How slowly we learn. Good to hear from you, senor.

  7. Berlena says:

    Al,
    Love your post and look forward to reading all of them. Who cares what day it is:-)…It is the right day, the right time, the right spot to be…I just started cleaning out my stuff, preparing for the hibernation of winter…Enjoy your journey…I’m leaving for Maui myself and hope to forget what day it is by my second day in. There for 3 weeks! Miss your humor! Remember to stay in your lane on the road-LOL…Berlena

  8. Eric says:

    Oh, to be so unattached so as to lose track of the days… I’ve ditched the tv and computer, but sadly my droid has a calender! Keep on truckin’ uncle, see you in the east.

  9. Don Mathews says:

    Al,
    Good to see that you are winning the struggle against the accumulation of stuff! It makes me think of Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Stuff”. Google it and watch her 20 minute exploration of the story of stuff in our society. Her most compelling revelation is that 99% of all the stuff we buy is gone to the waste bin or wherever within 6 months. That’s not sustainable!!
    Anyway, enjoy your travels. I look forward to hearing about them!
    Don

    • allevenson says:

      Interesting that this thread touches a nerve with so many people and that so many are concerned about how much they have accumulated and how much of that we only babysit while it is on its way to a land fill. I will look up the Leonard story. Thanks for mentioning it.

      • Lisa Levenson says:

        Hi Unc!
        Yes we all have planned big in life and life seems to say be in the moment! I am carrying supplies for an entire art classroom! I am right at the precipiss (Sp?) of starting own school and quiting teaching! HA!
        Not knowing if I live in AZ or Maine(certified in art teaching in both) I carry clothes for 120 degrees and 20 below!
        Since I see inadequate retirement funds in my future I picture continuing my collection but being limited to the shopping cart size of a homeless person…..Yes selective choices will be made and I will do my best, given the situation of the moment! If anyone knows a commune or community of sustainable living, I would like to find one! Thanks & happy trails until we meet again!

  10. john miller says:

    Al
    Greetings from Turkey. We are so itinerant that we have no idea about what we have. Five years of teaching in India y Turkey, now on year three have made us aware of the fragility and tenuousness of the concept of possessions. My Fall teaching is 65 first year students in Intro to Poetry, 60 sophomores in Contrastive Cultures US and Turkey and Modern Western Drama Brecht to Kushner to seniors. We travel every month throughout Turkey and will spend Bayram (EID) in Syria. Life’s adventures continue. On the teaching road trip John (and Robert now an ESL volunteer teacher)

    • allevenson says:

      What a treat to hear from you and Robert. Sounds like your life is getting more interesting with each passing time zone. I must connect you with my good friend, Gloria, who is currently somewhere in India and who taught in Istanbul for a year. I visited her there and had one of the great couple of weeks of my life.

  11. Roberta Dillon says:

    I never said good-bye, but I guess it’s never too late……..Safe travels. I, too, have made a shift, but nothing as amazing as yours. I just moved 1/2 mile from one apt. to another, but the effort of packing and moving stuff is as if I had gone 4K. I have become very efficient and effective in sorting, packing, and disposing!! Too bad, you could have used my services. So, now that I am settled, I can think of you being on an adventure that I can only dream of.

    Where are “we” off to now? Winter is approaching and we are getting a taste of it today with the prediction of rain in Marin…..Wish I were there! Roberta

  12. Colleen Rae says:

    Congratulations, Al. One of the big ‘lessons’ in life is to – ‘de-stuff’ one’s self. I envy you too the wonderful opportunities for adventure that are before you. I know you will inhale it all with your usual zest for life.
    How remarkable that you can forget or not remember the day…most of us would love to be in that moment to moment reality.
    I’ll be thinking of you on your travels and look forward to your interpretations of your adventures.
    Colleen

  13. tanya grove says:

    Your goals are ambitious and your acts inspirational. I’m slowly trying to get closer to a net zero gain—not necessarily clearing out all the closets and making no purchases, just trying not to accumulate more stuff without getting rid of an equal amount. This year, inspired both by my reduced income and my nonexistent bookshelf space, I made the pledge only to buy books from people at book signings where I can have personal contact. I’ve bought only six books (which is probably half of what I used to buy) and every one is signed by the author. I sold and donated many more than six, so I’m feeling good. I’m nowhere near putting all my earthly belongings in an rv and hitting the road, but I admire your ability to pare down to the essentials. I’m glad you’re blogging so we can all keep track of our wandering adventurer.

  14. Sheri M. Cohen says:

    Bon Voyage, Al. Your inciteful comments are only exceeded by your admirable attitudes and philosophy of life – - now reflected in your latest adventure. I wish you the best of journeys and look forward to reading about it. By the way, I knew you had a lot of friends in a lot of places, but had no idea how extensive your network was. And so many people with literary talents as well! Another nice refection of your enviable life. Well anyway, have fun and be careful!! (The Jewish mother thing is always lingering there beneath the surface. What can I say?) Sheri

  15. linda enis says:

    Good to hear from you. Am hoping to do the same type of traveling one day. Am home recovering from surgery (again) tired of this! But hoping the end result will be back on my bike ( I bought a new “old lady, built for comfort” bike for the future)
    Looking forward to your visit in November.
    Linda

  16. Aaron Ruff says:

    Al, you are always good to read. I’ll keep keepin’ up.

  17. It’s funny how you tried to leave it all behind, but wound up bringing too much of it along anyway!

  18. Leanne says:

    Hey Al,

    Washington!!! Awesome! If you’re talking about “stuff”, the journey up there was…uneventful? Tell me about Puget Sound, Mt. Rainer, Seattle…the (grounded) nomad in me needs some vicarious living.

    Back to stuff: “The Story of Stuff” is a great video, saw it a while ago. It’s a wonderful statement of how we don’t, as a culture, take pride in or value workmanship anymore (planned obsolescence). Me? I’m with the rest of youse, for me it’s as I heard once: the first 50 were spent acquiring things, the second 50 – letting them go. After all, when you get down to it: we’re all just nomads passing through. And nomads travel lightly.

    Bon voyage,
    Leanne
    P.S. Love the name you chose for the land yacht: “Jolly Swag” – it’s appropriate for the state of it’s captain, and what he does to all he meets (brings happiness!)

  19. Al, please tell us about what you have seen, the odd things that have happened on your voyage and even odd people you have met. Is it too early yet to accumulate those? I know about “stuff.” I am smothered by stuff and no amount of sorting and clearing seems to make a difference. So I have apologized in advance to my nephew and his wife. The job will be so much easier for them since none of the stuff will mean anything to them. The NCIBA trade show was a blast. Too much to tell here. Want to go look at my blog on the trade show at http://www.authorsden.com/lucillebellucci? Happy roads, Al.

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