A Blow to the Head

I had a weird experience a couple of nights ago that keeps coming back to me.

I was about to go to sleep for the night when I decided to get a glass of water. I walked out of my bedroom into the hallway and started to get a little light-headed, this happens occasionally for me and I figured it would pass like it always does. Instead, I passed out* and hit my head on the floor. My partner came over to my unconscious body and called my name. I was only out for a couple of seconds and, except for a couple bumps on my head, everything was fine.

I went back to bed and laid down, but I couldn’t help but think about stories I’ve heard about where people go to sleep after a head injury and they die in their sleep. I wasn’t afraid, though, I figured the chance of death was relatively unlikely but if I did die everything would be okay. I really think there are only two scenarios for death, either there is nothing (seems the most likely), or there is something (probably not), and if there is something the odds are pretty good that it’ll all be okay. I was calm and at peace with the idea of never waking up.

I don’t want to die and I’m going to actively avoid death as much as possible, but if something happens I hope I can maintain this peace and comfort. My life has been pretty awesome and I want it to continue, but I don’t feel like I’ve wasted it or that death will be a terrible experience (though, the act of dying could be pretty miserable). Having a fear of the unknown (whether it is death or something much more mundane) prevents us from having new experiences, if our default is “new is probably bad” we limit our options and make our lives much smaller than they need to be.

Life is just too short to fear death.

*I think I passed out because it was my fast day and I had consumed a couple of beers that night, which likely lead to low blood pressure. I already pass out kind of easily (I’ve done it several times while donating blood) and I won’t make that mistake again. I like fasting, but it is something I need to exercise extra caution with. Oh well, live and learn.

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Windfucked

Pre-Post 1: Well, despite my half-ass efforts I have not really maintained this blog in addition to the other two I’m running. I think I will just start posting the same thing here that I post on the blog for our 2-year bike ride, Barely Functional Adults. This was originally posted on April 20. As a reminder,this is pretty much an uncensored version of the events of our bike ride. If you are uncomfortable hearing about sex, drugs, profanity, etc you should check follow our PG-version at www.10LegsWillTravel.wordpress.com . This is a warning. If you don’t want to hear about these adult actions please leave now

Pre-Post 2: Also, we have set up a GoFundMe account for our ride. If you enjoy the adventure or just want to receive a post card, booty pic, or vegan meal check us outhere**

Pre-Post 3: If you would like to see all our pictures you can check out our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/10legswilltravel.

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Okay, then… to recap, we are in a hotel room in Santa Maria and I think the date is 4/16.The hotel room gave us a much needed break and for once we didn’t smell like the awkwardly terrible mixture of sunscreen, sweat, dirt, hippy, and excitement. We hit the road excited and our path continued along the beautiful scenery of orchards and farms. I did get a flat tire early in the day but that is to be expected daily. That is one of the things about travelling as a group instead solo, your chances of hold-ups increase greatly. Two tires will go a week or so without a flat but with 10 tires we can pretty much guarantee a busted tube each day or so. We stopped in Arroyo Grande for a food resupply and coffee but it took longer than expected because the Albertsons in this town is terribly designed and doesn’t have bags… seriously, they don’t have bags for you to even purchase. Fucking stupid.

After the resupply we had a pretty decent ride to our sleeping location, a little college town called San Luis Obispo where we had a host from Couchsurfing in a freaking bus. A magic bus. A magic festival bus. A magic festival bus of awesome.

Our host was actually at Lucidity Festival and lived similarly to us. He is a burner who lives minimally and builds his life around community and experiences instead of things. We had a great time talking to him about festivals, cops, drug use, and life in general. I hope our paths cross with him again someday, and I am pretty sure they will. The universe kind of works that way. We caught up on a little work, shared a beer with our host, and charged our devices before crashing for the night.

We didn’t bang though, which is kind of a shame. “Banging in a magic school bus” isn’t exactly an item on any of our bucket lists but it would have been a cool bit of information for future drunk rounds of Never Have I Ever. It didn’t happen though because of logistics… not “people are around” logistics, we clearly don’t care about that, but just adventure logistics. Despite our increased sex drives from daily exercise we are all kind of mentally and physically exhausted by the end of the day. Basically, Anna and I will lay in bed horny but feel like getting the condoms out of the backpack on the other side of the room is just way too much effort. So at best we just half-ass grind on each other and pass out.

After leaving San Luis Obispo we headed towards Morro Bay on the coast where we had to make a pretty important route decision. We could either head up the PCH or cut over the mountains and take the inland route north. We ended up deciding on the inland route because it was safer. The first day or so of riding towards the new route would suck with the elevation but everyone we talked to said the PCH is hell for cyclists up here… narrow roads, lots of turns, low visibility, and shitty drivers. So inland it was.

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Morro Bay was an interesting experience. The town itself was a cute little place right along the coast, very different from the busy hustle of LA area beaches. Everything was in walking distance and you got the feeling that most of the people knew each other, but it clearly had some issues. There was a strong separation between the residents with houses and the residents without houses. In fact, we often were treated fairly poorly because we appeared “homeless”.

Actually, fuck that term. The term homeless is wrong. The people who we talked to us who lived on the street weren’t homeless, they were houseless. A home is a place of love, family, and community and these people had all of those. What they lacked was a piece of property that our society says, mistakenly in my opinion, is necessary in order for you to be a respectable person. Words matter and the term homeless helps steer people away from what is really going on. To lack a home is seen as a character defect or something deserved, it is the inability to make connections and have loving relationships. Being houseless sounds more temporary or an intentional decision to live without something… much like being car-less or tv-less. Technically, all of us on the ride our houseless but we certainly aren’t homeless… we actually have many homes, filled with love and support, in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Portland, St. Louis, and everywhere we roam with our friend-family. The houseless people of Morro Bay are no different, they are intelligent, loving people who clearly had a community and a city that they cared for and about. Some of them may want houses, some may not, but to call them “homeless” is to ignore the issue and in many ways dehumanize them. Home is love, and they had love, what they lacked was property.

We left Morro Bay in the mid-afternoon knowing that we wouldn’t make it to another town before needing a place to sleep. The route through the mountains had some good climbs to it so we wanted to break up the day a bit and camp out in the woods. We had a scare or two as crazy people on the highway during the first few miles decided slowing down for 10 seconds was a waste of their time and worth risking our blood on their windshield, but after we hit the back roads things got much better. We had a beautiful climb along some pastures and the whole area made us think of Ireland/Scotland… which we have never been to but I almost expected a painted Mel Gibson to come running over the hills wielding a giant sword and yelling FREEEEDOOOMMM!!!!

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The paved road ended and we continued the ride on gravel through a heavily forested area. Time was ticking and we were quickly in need of a camping spot. Luckily we found a clearing with some abandoned sheds on it. It probably belonged to someone but it didn’t have a fence around it and was flat and safe. We had some dinner, pitched our tent, and got settled in for the night. We were all a tad nervous so we had sex to relax our nerves. Anna and I did our thing while Hans busted out the vibrator. We were all pretty close before this ride but at this point there really is nothing that bothers us… we’ve had sex in front of each other while sober, held conversations while peeing near each other in full view, talked about poop, etc. Walls are stupid among family.

The night went without incidence and we awoke with the sun and got an early start. The first part of the day was almost entirely uphill and we had to walk most of the time. It was draining but the ride was gorgeous and it gave us some time to chat and enjoy everything. Life can fly by so fast, even on bike, that you can miss the wildlife and connections that make living more than existence. After a couple hours we got to the top of the mountain, took some pictures, and started our smooth and wonderful descent into Templeton, CA.

Templeton was just a pitstop for us but it was a good one. They had a Trader Joe’s and a coffee shop with a very friendly employee (manager? owner?) named Joshua who loved what we were doing. We talked biking and adventuring for a bit while we got some work done. I would have liked to talk to him more but, as usual, I was tired, awkward, and felt a bit rushed as we planned the rest of the day. We quickly moved on to Paso Robles where we, unintentionally, spent the night.

As the sun was setting I blew a tube and for some reason the pump was having some issues. I couldn’t get it to fill up the tube at all… I would later find out that the tube was defective, not the pump. So, thanks to the generosity of our friends we tapped into our savings and got a cheap hotel room nearby that was dog friendly. We were able to clean ourselves, charge our devices, and catch up on Game of Thrones (as fate would have it the two episodes that we had not seen were both on HBO that night). We got a little sleep and were up early again for the road.

Originally we planned on getting up at around 7am and knocking out 55 miles to King City. We were running behind, as usual, but it was a good thing we were. As we were loading up our stuff we met Pam and Mike, two fucking amazing people who have an organic farm in southern Oregon. They were actually supposed to be at a different hotel that night so it seems the universe kind of brought us together for a moment. For about 30 minutes we discussed many aspects of life from government to spirituality to veganism and I’ll just say that they are our type of people. They kindly offered to let us stay at their place when we come through the area later this summer, an offer that I am looking forward to taking them up on. They loved what we were doing, our views on relationships and family, and I am sure many other things. I hope they are up for some chats over a cold beer, I think we have a lot to share with each other.

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The miles flew easily by throughout the first part of the day (Saturday, 4/19… for those keeping track, I can barely remember) but after our picnic things got kind of shitty. The afternoon winds hit us head on as we rode through the Salinas Valley and our pace slowed to a crawl. It was kind of like riding your bike with two flat tires through mud while someone slapped you in the face with sand over and over and over again. Quite frankly, we were windfucked… or windraped as Hans put it because it wasn’t consensual and no didn’t mean no.

Our motivation was dying slowly, tears were being shed, and every time I looked down at our speedometer to see 4.7mph I wanted to just give up. On all sides were hills creating a wind-tunnel that seemed designed specifically to give cyclists hell. It became increasingly obvious that we wouldn’t make it to King City before darkness took over the land, much less with time to hang out and rest. We had no choice but to look for shelter as we came into a 200 person “town” called San Lucas.

I spotted a church and headed there hoping that someone would be inside and could grant us permission to sleep inside, or at least put our tent up near the building for shelter. The church was barely standing and nobody was inside so we decided to just risk it and set up our stuff on the back side out of sight and out of mind. We had already been seen by about 5% of the town and the last thing we wanted was more attention.

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That night was one of the scariest of my life, and by far the scariest since I left the army. Hiding in a small town where you don’t know anybody turns every sound into a potential enemy. For better or worse we are designed to err on the side of fear. Dogs roaming the streets became Cujo. Footsteps became murderer or rapists. Cars became gang vehicles looking for an easy drive-by target.

For all my beliefs in “people are good” and similar philosophies that shit does not mean anything when you are in an unfamiliar place in the dark surrounded by potential hostile forces. Words and beliefs are worthless shields that can be shouted by martyrs but won’t keep you alive and safe. It made me realize how different things were when I was in the military and equipped to defend myself and others against “all enemies, foreign and domestic”. A firearm is not a theory, a firearm is solid. Metal in your hand, a weapon to protect, something that you know exists. Freedom, community, and peace are all concepts that become worthless and their potential for non-existence becomes glaringly obvious when compared a tool gripped firmly.

So, as we became known to a big dog who liked to come around and bark at us hourly throughout the night, or as we heard someone working on their car at 3:30am, I didn’t fall back on “people are good”. I put a weapon in my hand (a small camping ax… all I really had), I stayed awake, and I tried to trust my training to lead me to the best decisions possible… the decisions that would keep us safe, or at least cause as much damage as fucking possible to any would-be attackers.

But, as is often the case, the sun rose without incident. My fears turned out to be nothing more than shadows and dust. When I saw the dog that wandered by hourly it was clear that it was no more of a threat than the roosters that stayed up all night making noise (Sidenote: Fuck roosters. They don’t crow at sunrise, they crow at sunrise, 1am, sunset, because a car drove by, because a dog barks, 11pm, and for no reason at all. Why do people own those foul beasts.). With light from the sun illuminating the cloudy world we packed things up and hit the road the final 10 miles to King City where we decided to take a day off from riding, camp at a county park, and just relax.

Saying Good Bye

To be honest, I thought someday I would get used to it. You think after all the transitions in my life… Oregon to military, military to college, college to Washington DC, Washington DC to Los Angeles… I would get used to saying good bye to new friends. It still isn’t fucking easier. Maybe it isn’t supposed to be. Maybe the difficulty, the held back tears, the moments of second-guessing all are a testament to the love I’ve found and the bonds I’ve formed. Maybe it is a good thing that it is hard… it still sucks though. 

Yesterday I want to a Game of Thrones party at my best friend’s house. It was the last opportunity to say good bye to a lot of the friends I have made while in Los Angeles. And the good byes aren’t over, this weekend at Lucidity I will say good bye to another group of beautiful souls who have helped me learn to love myself and others. These are people who I have come to look forward to seeing, people I meet with a warm embrace, people that I can open up to (even though some of them would rather me not). I wish I would have spent more time with them, made them more of a priority, and tried to build a stronger friendship and forge more memories. But alas, what’s done is done. There are no more days for new memories in LA, at least not for a while.

While it hurts to leave these people, I am not sad about the future. Because I have been through this before I know that many of these friends will be in my life forever. Hell, my best friend and I have known each other almost 25 years and have only lived in the same city for about 10 total. I hold on to people who mean something to me, thanks to Facebook and the internet that is easier than ever but it is more than convenience, it is in my nature. I may not talk to them much (hell, I don’t talk to them much now) but they are always in my heart and they always pop into my head at the best times… “Oh man, I have to call Josh, he has got to hear about this”, “Hey, Dagny would love that”, “Oh Blayne… if only you could mow down on these cheesesticks with me”, “Damn, where’s James when I need him?”, “I wonder what Emmett would think of that?”… I wish I contacted them more than I do. In a very real way they are part of my family and when thinking of them I am home.

Home isn’t geography for me. It is where I can be unapologetically me. It is where honesty, love, and peace prevail above politics, social status, or religion. And the people I say good bye to as I start the next chapter of my life will always be my family and home. I know that if I need them they will be there. I love them and will miss them… but I know that any physical separation means nothing when our minds and spirits are connected. They are my ka-tet and that is a bond that doesn’t break, no matter how far I roam. 

2014

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It is true that I’m not a fan of arbitrary ceremonies, holidays, or social obligations I do see value certain objective moments to help spark change in one’s life. It helps to have a day to mark beginning and end, to provide a frame to view the past and the future. Our calendar system with the new year starting a week and a half after winter solstice is pretty arbitrary but in the end it works. So, as I reflect on the past and look into the future I can’t help but be happy. Every year has been better than the last as I have grown, learned to love others and myself, and realized happiness is internal.

Last year marked a time of growth and advancement for myself for society as a whole. Marriage equality grew by leaps and bounds, the Drug War is collapsing around us, and on a global scale just about everything is better as we continue to end war, famine, and poverty. Certainly there is work to be done, as the world gets better the United States continues a steady slide into a police state where the media and political class keep everyone paranoid of “terrorism”. In my personal life I have found a passion for writing and travel, am in a wonderful romantic partnership with an amazing woman, I was able to celebrate my best friend’s wedding, and have begun repairing relationships that have been nearly broken with members of my family. I am happy and with that momentary ball drop, champagne toast, and kiss to wish in the New Year approaching I find myself focused on three things for 2014.

Writing – My biggest struggle with writing is the feeling that I don’t have anything new or of value to say. With the internet we are flooded by thousands of writers (both good and bad) and it can be overwhelming. I need to realize that every person, every story, every idea has some value to someone. I am not writing for everyone, I am writing for the one person who may learn a lesson or become encouraged by my words.

Positivity – While I am generally a positive person I often find myself focusing on negative things, particularly on Facebook and other social networks. I want to start to change that. I still think it is important to comment on injustice and bring attention to abuse in order to bring about change (ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away) but solutions need to be provided as well. Whether it is pointing out libertarian solutions to problems or providing contact information for law enforcement officials accused of abuse my focus needs to be about fixing a problem instead of just pointing out the problem.

The Moment – I will continue to work on enjoying the moment instead of worrying about the past and future. Whether it means implementing more yoga, meditation, or just “stopping to smell the roses” I want it to become a habit to just be. The only thing under my control, the only thing guaranteed is now.

Birthday Wishes

This upcoming Sunday is my birthday, but because I am a (barely functional) adult I don’t really need much, but there are lots of organizations out there that do. So, for my birthday I hope you all will considering what you can to one of these amazing organizations. Liberty, ending the drug war, medicinal research, and ending rape are four of my passions and these organizations are on the frontlines. Every dollar helps.

Men Can Stop Rape: This organization is working to change the narrative around rape and end rape culture by mobilizing men to use their strength to protect, not harm. Check them out and see if they fit what you want in the world, if so, please donate.

Students For Liberty (SFL): As an international education based non-profit SFL is having a global impact for liberty. They provide resources and training for college students who are interested in a free society. Check them out at their website and if you like what they are doing you can donate here.

Students For Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP): SSDP is an international organization that works to educate and mobilize students to change the policies in their country. They value sensible policies of harm prevention, instead of incarceration, for narcotics use. They are doing many things that could use some financial support.

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS): MAPS continues to do great work in search of medicinal uses for a wide range of stigmatized drugs like marijuana, LSD, and MDMA. They focus on clinical research, as well as providing educational harm prevention materials. I really believe that what they do will have a huge impact on the treatment of a variety of issues that face society, but they need help to keep going.

If you really want to throw something my way though, I am accepting support for my upcoming bicycle ride via paypal.

Couples Therapy

I have often talked about my advocacy for using MDMA* as a therapeutic assist for individuals facing PTSD, as well as a way for romantic couples to keep communication open and maintain a strong love for each other. A while back my partner and I got to experience something else when we had a night “rolling” with another couple who are our friends. I found this experience to be incredibly positive and I hope to relive it again with that couple and others that we know.

There is a false stereotype that MDMA is some sort of “sex drug”. In reality, it opens doors of communication and fosters love and trust between those involved. Due to the nature of the relationship of all involved the only sexual contact occurred between significant others and did so in a fairly private manner. Instead, the whole experience was a lot of discussions about love, life, relationships, and how much we appreciated each other. We  all got to discuss how we face the problems in our lives and what we hope for in the future. We were also able to find out how another couple deals with difficulties in relationship types (both being kind of mixed poly/mono couples). People who love each other should be free to discuss anything openly, but sadly social barriers and our past often prevent that. MDMA helps open that up.

Moving forward I certainly hope we have more experiences like this. With all things pre-intoxicated discussions are key. While I may be comfortable with things like being naked in front of friends, giving/receiving massages, having sex while others are in the room, or even sexual intimacy with others it is important to get these things on the table beforehand when everyone is completely sober… if something comes up of interest during a roll you can always discuss it the next day and save it for another time. It is better to guarantee enthusiastic consent and interest in an activity than risk harming a person or relationship. Basically, err on the side of the most conservative member of the group.

Unfortunately, I am not as outspoken in person with individuals as I am when writing about things as broad issues, so though I may be interested in something I often remain quiet. I’m working on this, and thinking there might be a better way. I’ve seen lists of sexual interests that couples can exchange where they rate things like “I’d love to do that – Maybe under the right circumstances – No way in hell” and I’m sure that could be adapted for couples therapy. Even if new boundaries aren’t pushed, enjoying a loving and intimate home environment while rolling is still one of my favorite things to do, and it sure as hell is a lot safer and cheaper than alcohol.

*Unfortunately we live in a place where men with guns are willing to throw peaceful adults in cages if they possess MDMA. Due to Prohibition the quality of MDMA can be compromised and can become unsafe. Please, please, please, always purchase from a trusted source, use a test kit to ensure quality, stay hydrated, and look out for each other. Rolling is amazing and can be a near spiritual experience, but it isn’t worth taking unnecessary fatal risks.  Be Safe.

So You Wanna Go On A Bike Ride…

So, our upcoming bike ride has garnered some interest from friends and strangers. One common question we get asked is “can people join you for a day or nine?”. The answer is a resounding MOTHERFUCKING YES!!!!!!!!!!!! We love our friends, even those that we haven’t met yet and adventures shared are better than adventures alone. I think there is a ton of value in riding with your friends and exploring the world. There are some things potential travelers should know though…

1. We are burners and that means we will take the 10 Principles of Burning Man as guidelines for this adventure. While all 10 will be important I think Gifting, Communal Effort, Immediacy, and Leaving No Trace will be common themes throughout. It would be lovely if our friends who join us are at least familiar with them.

2. We are a dating couple who plan on having sex in every state and skinny dipping in many places. You should be at least comfortable with nudity and tolerate the sounds of us rubbing against each other. To be blunt, I can be a bit loud, particularly when I know I have an audience.

3. We don’t have a set plan and things can change quickly depending on how our minds and body feel or terrain and weather. Also, we will definitely discuss routes with all parties involved but in the end we will follow the path we choose, even if other people don’t like it. Of course we would never leave anyone behind though and when things break or people need to rest we will do that.

4. Be prepared to take care of yourself. As it is put in the pickle back video, we will work together but everyone should have what they need to survive alone. That means having a bike, food, water, and shelter at the minimum.

5. This is going to be fun. There will be hard work and we will all get less fat but it is about the experience and enjoying everything nature and society has to offer. We aren’t setting any land speed bicycle records, rather our plan is 50-60 miles per day on average with many breaks

So, if you are interested let me know sometime… it can be today or 6 hours before we arrive in your general area. We aren’t comfortable anyone riding with us for the entirety at this point but if you want to spend a week or two with us that would be really glorious. Much peace and love to you all.