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The Old About Page

January 1, 2015

January 1, 2015

The hardest part about starting a blog is in the “starting”. The idea first came about when Frank, the wonder beagle, became my companion in July 2014. I was posting little stories here and there on Facebook when a number of friends encouraged me to start writing a journal about our experiences together. That was when I opened up this page. Being the procrastinator that I am, I didn’t do anything about it … instead, I added some recordings of my guitar playing (as a way of testing out the interface). My intent was to start banging stuff out.

Then the blackness hit. Another episode. A bad one. They “happen”. Don’t know what triggers them. If I did, then maybe I’d have been able to take care of them earlier in my life and not be where I’m at today. Woulda’s, coulda’s, shoulda’s, right?

But I’m in the middle of a bad one as I start this “About me” section.

Digression – I am a 61 year old guy who was diagnosed with complex PTSD in late 2010. I’ve suffered through it for most of my life, but it was diagnosed at various times as “depression”, “ADD”, “anxiety”, and so forth.  It wasn’t until I went to see a therapist that had experience with Viet Nam vets (I wasn’t aware of that when I started sessions with him … it turned out to be a simple case of serendipity!) that I was properly diagnosed.   I won’t go into the particular hell I lived through – that’s not the purpose of the blog. I’ll just say that it’s resulted in lifelong issues that bring me to where I am today. I’m alone (except for Frank, who’s shown an incredible amount of tolerance for my moods, anxiety and depression), I’m simply not able to end my mental paralysis in order to work, and I’m pigeonholed behind four walls, unable to get out except to let Frank do his business (and the occasional trip to the grocery store).

I find myself in Charleston, SC, having moved here on a whim when my last relationship ended.  And after 8 months, I’ve realized that I can’t stay here if I want to live.  I can’t go back to New Jersey … or California … or Texas, and live on a permanent basis.  The walls are closing in. Pretty quickly, too.

So that’s where I’m at. And it’s caused me to consider – hell, who am I fooling. It’s caused me to DECIDE to embark on a journey. To force myself out of these four walls and into experiencing the world before I die. Rather than sit here in my little apartment until I run out of money, I’ve decided that I’m going to become a vagabond. I’m going to travel the country in my car, camping for 2-4 weeks at a time in various spots. This blog will be a journal of our travels.

Frank is gonna be a GREAT Co-pilot!

Frank is going to make a GREAT Co-pilot!

It’s January 2015 as I write this “About” section.  I’ll be 62 in April and I intend to file for Social Security by the end of this month. Despite applying before I turn 65, I’ll still receive almost $1,800 a month in benefits.  I have a small amount in a 401(k) … all told, I have less than $50k saved up for retirement.  But I believe I’ll be able to embark on this lifestyle and live almost totally on my Social Security, needing at most around $2k/year from my savings.  Quite honestly, I don’t see me living long enough to run out of money, but I’ll address that when I have to.  One way or another.

I know I’m crazy. I know that I’m being driven by my PTSD … hell, there are enough of us out on the streets, living in homeless camps in every major city. I’m going to try to avoid that as much as possible. My campgrounds will be scenic with the hope that I gain some joy in the experience. It’s sort of a last gasp effort to try and find some peace in my life. There’s only been two places I’ve found peace – on the sea and on the road. I can’t afford a boat, so I’m opting for Door #2!.


Edit (8-Feb-15)

My basic view of “blogging” has always been somewhat neutral / leaning towards negative. I sort of look at it as man’s desire to “rage against the machine”. Few people listen. Even fewer people care. For the most part, it’s listening to inner demons, evoking the silent sufferer’s yearning  to be heard. Lord knows that I’ve gone hoarse yelling at stupidity I see on TV. My fingers have gone numb expressing vitriol on Facebook and Disqus chat threads, mostly on articles of political commentary.  (As an aside, I think my “Vitriol-o-meter” also acts as a barometer to measure the depth of blackness I experience at any given time.)

That viewpoint has changed over the past couple of months though … not so much because of a self-serving desire to justify my own rantings, but because I’ve been exposed to a number of other bloggers who have added quality “stuff” to the vast wasteland of the internet. They actually have something to say, or valuable information to impart.  As I said in another post, I can only hope to achieve a fraction of the value they’ve added to the medium. (And even that little hope is more than likely delusion.)

Another thing I’ve realized is that blogs aren’t really set up to be a book. They’re reverse-chronological … what’s most important is today’s post. Today’s thought.  I suppose it’s more of a narration than a book… someone can pick it up at any time, see what’s currently going on with the author, skip around, etc.  I get that now.

If you’re like me, however, and look for a “beginning” to a story, the best way to approach Frank and Jeff might be to start with my first post, Catching UpFrom there, you can use the navigation at the top of the page to move forward or backwards in chronological fashion. If you’re a shoot-from-the-hip kind of person, wander through the posts to your heart’s content.

If you’d like a little background to my story, A Nomad’s Past is the first of a three-part post… sort of a short summary of how I got to where I am today. I posted a bit more about my past in Super Bowl Sunday, too.  I think these posts go a long way towards setting context.

 If you’d like to send me a private message, feel free:

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7 responses to “The Old About Page

  1. casmilner

    January 19, 2015 at 9:37 am

    Thanks for the link to the blog, Jeff. National Parks are the best real estate in the US — get a senior annual pass an you will be set! Several books come to mind, in which you may find inspiration: a) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travels_with_Charley (contains his famous “Texas is a state of mind” quote, and he travels w a poodle), b) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodbye_to_a_River (traveling with a daschund, I think) and c) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Road , maniac, degenerate beatniks criss-crossing the US in the 50’s.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • ustabe

      January 19, 2015 at 10:21 am

      You’re certainly welcome, Cas … thank you for the book recommendations. I will definitely check the first two out. I’ve already read “On the Road” … more than once, I might add. I’ve been a Kerouac fan for years. At one point, I had a CD with various artists performing readings of his written word … letters, poetry, whatever. Two that I specifically remember were Eddie Vedder and Hunter S. Thompson. Methinks I’ll have to go pick up a copy “for the road.”

      Liked by 1 person

       
  2. Michael Risser

    January 26, 2015 at 1:32 am

    Great blog Jeff, glad to see it. When you posted your music on WordPress.com, I was going to suggest you “flesh it out” into a full blog w/ pages/ themes, etc. given who you are, your writing skills and all you have to offer. Thanks for sharing… I have no doubt you will add much deep and quality content to the internet of things… Thank you for that… Lastly, regarding the logistics of living the life on the road, I am attaching a link to one I followed for a while (3 Wheel Journey), While I am no longer physically able to utilize his means of transport (bicycle), it offers for me some useful and resourceful tips for living “On the Road” (BTW – I just read Jack Kerouac and other great books when I found myself with spare time I rarely had after losing my job a few years ago. I am personally not too far away from sharing some of your struggles and journey, may see you and Frank out there sometime soon…

    Here is the guy who I followed a few years ago, when he was on a bicycle trip around the USA:

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCfDfz-LrHf6NNdgIihvTJw

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • ustabe

      January 26, 2015 at 6:43 pm

      Thanks for sharing the link, Mike. I will definitely check him out.

      Like

       

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