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Monday, March 8, 2021

Personal snail mail at my new home warmed my heart this last weekend.

(As a quick side note, when my heart is warmed, people nearby can smell bacon cooking.)

I stopped at the house, still empty of stuff, to pick up mail and drop off some boxes that have been in my back seat for a year and I found an envelope addressed to "Rich Jackson -- editor."

Uh, oh, I thought. Someone has already tracked me down.

But when I opened the letter, money fell out.

Bertha (I'm withholding her last name to protect her privacy) said she tried to send a gift certificate from Lynn's Custom Meats & Catering here in Hayward after I linked to it on this blog. But because of a kerfuffle with the U.S. Post Office, it was sent back.

So she sent me some money to buy tubular and processed meats. 

She also offered some ideas for the upcoming move that I find so painful and stressful.

The best was yet to come: " ... Looming ahead, it might be well to find female companionship to do your mowing and snow shoveling," she wrote. 

Tongue firmly in cheek, I imagine, Bertha writing with a grin.

Then I counted the money which came in the form of a $20 bill, a $5 bill and the-rare-but-still-in-circulation $2 bill.

I don't understand the significance of such an amount but I assure you: I'm going to frame and hang the $2 bill in my home office as a reminder of the kindness of strangers.

Thank you, Bertha. You made my week.

Peace and $27 unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

(P.S.: Bertha wrote, "Keep the Faith and Pray for my arthritis. Please join me, friends.")

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Transitions remain.

Buddha's most significant story is that suffering in life is constant and we cannot change that. What we can act on is our reaction to suffering. That comes from want and if we can let go of want, we can lose suffering.

My response is one of the son of the Wisconsin Nort'woods: What if I just want a beer?

Several of my transitions include changing banks and other businesses who, inevitably, request a previous address. I don't like the word "homeless" at this point because the blog likely did me more harm than good. One interviewer more or less asked, "How could you let this happen to you?"

I've tried responding, "Well, I'm in between addresses."

That brings a blank stare.

I have been trying to buy a mattress and bed -- that's another long story -- and the salesperson always asks, "What kind of mattress are you using?"

Um, not mine.

Some friends. some motels, wherever I can lay my huge misshapen head so the mattress doesn't matter so much.

An expert warned me early on that the toughest part of being homeless, even my homeless light, is working out of it because people don't like the stigma.

I will work my way out of this.

Then I will settle in and read and write about big muskies and lumberjacks.

And be forever grateful for this chance so late in my career.

Have a beautiful long weekend, as temperatures here in the Nort'woods are shooting to 50 degrees.

Peace and fortitude unto you my brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

 I don't have anything to write about tonight.

Which reminds me of a joke.

The parents of a baby aren't terribly concerned when he hasn't spoken by his first birthday. But by the time he's 2 years old, they're worried and take him to an array of doctors. All assure the worried parents he has the capability to speak physically and mentally. Just wait, they said. No speaking by age three. They buy him nice toys and books. Still, no speaking by age 4. The parents return to the doctor. He's fine they say. They've done all the tests. Same at age five. It repeats at age six. Over this time they give him the best toys and food. The parents begin to think that's just the boy's life. Finally at age seven, he looks at his parents during lunch and says, "The soup is cold." They are stunned. "You've been able to talk this entire time? And you didn't?" The boy says, "Up until now everything was fine."

Everything was fine today.

Peace and a fine life unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

 I dream. I dream.

Three nights ago I dreamt I was hiking on a narrow path around the rim of Irvine Park in my hometown. It doesn't exist in real life. I had to have a walking stick because I had trouble moving my legs, stumbling often, maintaining balance only because of my makeshift cane.

The walkway became higher and higher but I told myself the need to keep on my journey. At some point, a dog, a very cute little dog, rushed out of a cave and nearly knocked me over the precipice. I fell backward, back on to the path and grabbed the doggy so he would be safe. Then I stood up and continued on until I could see my goal: the exit of the path.

There the dream ends.

That's an easy read. My trip has been long and filled with trials that scared me to death. And oh, I have stumbled. But I kept going.

The next night, I dreamt I had a new job as communications at a huge university. The chancellor met with me and said my job was to distill his intellectual messages into something simple, that provided the university with talking points and a marketing strategy. I nodded "yes" and he patted me on my leg.

He introduced me to his team, which included a graphic artist I worked with 15 years ago. They asked questions, I answered them. The artist walked me to the door of the building where we met and I asked, "What have you told them about me?" He said, "That you're really smart." Oh crap, I thought.

I didn't know where I was. I couldn't remember anyone's name. I didn't know the name of the university. And I couldn't find my car.

I had no idea what I was doing or where I was.

On my search for my car, a brick wall impeded me as I tried to climb over it. Someone reached out and grabbed my arm to help but I continued to slip off. "Pull harder," I asked.

Here the second dream ended.

Another easy read. I don't know what I'm doing -- yet. I'll figure it out. I just need some help.

My readings could be wrong. Freud would say I miss my mother's nipple. But that dude had an oral obsession of epics proportions.

I understand where I've been and where I'm going. The dreams serve to remind me.

Peace and sweet dreams unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Monday, March 1, 2021

 15589 Winter Drive, Hayward, Wisconsin, 54843

This spacious, two-bedroom home with a deck and two-car garage is my new home.

The Homeless Editor is no more, at least technically. I'm working on arranging a drive down to Bloomington in a U-Haul truck, packing up my stuff -- in storage for nearly two years -- and moving into my rental home.

I turned the key in the front lock this evening, the smells of new carpet and fresh paint greeting me. I might get a car odor refresher with that smell.

I could see where I'm going to put my kitchen table, the bookshelves, the TV -- even though I don't watch it much any more -- the beds. I'll need to get a second bed for the guest room and make that welcoming for the many visitors I expect -- no demand. Family, friends, random passersby -- all are welcome.

Soon the kitchen shall smell of sauerkraut and the backyard of the many bratwursts made locally.

I see myself, settled deep in a plush chair (or settled plush in a deep chair), buried in a book with Alexa playing Eric Satie -- great reading music, by the way.

The idea of driving 1,300 miles in a U-Haul stresses me but I understand that sometimes at the end of a long trip comes the hardest work.

I'll alert you as I finish these couple of weeks until I can lay my huge, misshapen head into a pillow of my own.

And I'm looking for suggestions for a new blog title. My current favorite is "The Northwoods Editor."

Peace and a pillow unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

 I saw the saddest GIF today: Kevin, a character on "The Office," spilled a vat of his world-famous chili.

Kevin is already a sad-sack character and the writers and actor played off that characterization for surprises. But Kevin is treated by fellow characters as lesser-than. That always kind of broke my heart.

So when he spilled his chili, a recipe he spent his life on, and ends up wallowing in the mess, it made me so sad.

Because all of the difficulties over the last year have not produced such a moment for me. I've had difficult times yet I've not been personally debased.

Part of that has been holding my head high, making the best decisions offered to me and -- the first rule of being a doctor -- not doing harm.

I have not been debased as was Kevin.

Is that too much empathy? Yes, absolutely. But as I've discussed with my kid, I'd rather have more empathy than less.

On Monday, I will have an address although I have to travel to Indiana to get my stuff -- mostly books and cooking equipment. I won't stay in the house until I have a bed there as I'm too old and fat to sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor. Watching me trying to stand up out of that would make a money-making YouTube video.

Once I'm set up in the new place, which includes a guest room, I expect visitors. Godamnit. Come see the beauty of the Wisconsin Nort'woods and have some beer with me, all of you beautiful people.

Or have a beer this weekend and wave it northwards.

Peace and beer unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

So I signed a lease today.

I'll share the address Monday when it becomes legal.

But now I wonder about mowing the lawn, shoveling the driveway, where to put the grill -- oh yeah, I have to have a grill for a series of sausages (my new autobiography title).

Such are the anxieties of an address.

The stress I've lived through in the past 10 months, ameliorated by the blessings of friends and strangers, is I just didn't know that the hell was going to happen next.

I've long called it the anxiety of the unknown. 

Worse, I've had this problem over the last 10 months of massive self-judgment.

I drove by nice homes, well-kept, two cars in the driveway, two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard, and wonder -- how did I fail?

This despite my favorite advice from the Buddhist nun Pema Chodron, "Love others, start with yourself."

And, oh, how I have failed. You don't have time to read that blog entry. It likely goes back to my toddler days, according to my mom, when I would stick my finger in a socket. Mom would say I should learn my lesson. I would say, "It's OK mom. That thing won't do that to me again."

There's a fine line between optimism and stupidity.

I promise I won't blow this new start. Or stick my finger in a socket.

And I promise I'll alert all of you, my dear readers, to the new start and the changes.

Peace and no electrical outlets unto you my brothers and sisters.