Monday, May 29, 2017

Do or ...donut! -- Day 579

When one spends a lot of time by oneself, one has ample opportunity for the contemplation of the deeper mysteries of life. Who am I? Why am I here? What is the purpose of all of this? Where can I get a really good donut? It is these important questions that drive us, and that give life meaning and color.

As I traverse this vast, sprawling Metroplex, I see many signs for little donut shops. I'm a huge fan of the small business models, and buying local. The excitement of finding a tiny, hole-in-the-wall donut shop with amazing products is the real American Dream. (All that stuff about getting married, buying a house, settling down? SECONDARY TO FINDING A GOOD DONUT SHOP)

Today, I am proud to announce that I have found the BEST donut I've ever tasted. But first, the runners up:

Krispy Kreme
5118 Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX 75206

Now, if you follow me on Twitter, you will know that I'm a huge fan of Krispy Kreme (and if you have never had the basic glazed donut while it's still hot, you have no grounds to argue against them.) But while KK does the simple donut really (REALLYREALLYREALLY) well, it goes against that hole-in-the-wall dream that I have. Still, I wanted to see what they could do with a personal favorite of mine, the classic Boston Creme. The donut was light and flaky, the creme filling was sweet and delicious -- if a little scant. The chocolate icing on top was a bit chalky, and flaked off in shingles. Honestly, I was a little disappointed. 4/10

Shin's Donuts
8251 N Belt Line Rd # 140, Irving, TX 75063

This is the AMERICAN DREAM donut shop. A very nondescript, unassuming, hole-in-the-wall, family-owned donut shop. And let me tell you this: they have the BEST kolaches EVER. More croissant than donut, they are warm with a hint of sweetness that perfectly accents the tangy sausage link in the middle. I would drive out of my way to stop here, but luckily they are less than a mile from my house! I gave them the Boston Creme donut test: the pastry was a little greasy on the palate, and a bit dry. Filling was flavorful, but there wasn't very much of it, and it was so off center that I had to bite twice to get any at all. Despite that, I give Shin's 6/10 and highly recommend that you go get kolaches. Thank me later.

Now, I want to tell you about this donut that haunts my dreams. When I picked it up from the box, the first thing that I noticed was its heft: this donut meant business. It was supple, but not falling apart; it reminded me of a fluffy down pillow. Sinking my teeth into the soft, perfectly cooked dough and being immediately greeted by the delicious Boston Creme, I was transported! The chocolate icing was perfectly sweet, and there was so much filing that it was spilling out onto my hand. THIS was what donuts were supposed to be like!

Where did I find this pastry marvel?

Dunkin' Donuts
14841 S Coit Rd, Dallas, TX 75248

Whyyyyy? This goes against everything that I wanted! Corporate giant, with relatively poor customer service, and the most fantastic donut experience I've had in a long while. I even got six different kinds, hoping that maybe the Boston Creme was a fluke? Nope. Bavarian Creme: delicious. Chocolate Creme: wonderful. Lemon filled: tangy, sweet goodness. Apple filled: better than homemade pie. Vanilla Creme: I'm going to die from a sugar overdose, but I will be smiling the whole time. I give them 9/10, missing the perfect score because the customer services was really poor.

So, there you have it. The Giant has slain David, not with sheer size, but with better skills. I'm just lucky it's so far away from my house, or I'd probably go broke and die in a Boston Creme coma.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Introspection sucks! -- Day 577

Introspection is not something that I'm very good at. Looking internally, while necessary for growth and maturity, is often messy and painful -- two things that I try to avoid as much as possible.  This blog has mostly been a chronicle of our external adventures, with a little bit of my own self-improvement journey mixed in. It's introspection lite -- call it a highlight reel.

Since we've been grounded, there are fewer external adventures to write about, and a lot more introspection going on. This is why the blog hasn't been updated much in the past few months. I was doing pretty well with a once-a-month posting, until the crushing weight of all that was going on in my head destroyed any desire I had to write about it. Add that to the fact that I don't think there is much audience for my own wallowing, and that explains the dearth of posts.

Coming out of the long, dark tea time of my soul, I thought I would write something, just to get back in the saddle.

The question is: What should I write about after such a long hiatus? What is going to garner the most attention and grow my audience? How can I keep my fans entertained?

The answer my friends, is that I don't care. I can't care. I can't think about you, and work on me. So I will write about whatever frivolous crap comes to mind, and if you enjoy it -- great. If not, well, there's a whole lot of other frivolous crap that you can find on the internet to entertain you.

This is a vintage throwback image circa 2010, meme created today :)

I've had a bunch of ideas over the past month and a half, but none of them seemed "worthy" of print. Now that I'm no longer concerned for the quality level of my content ("True fans will understand" ~ Brett Favre) I may just be able to scratch out some shit posts over the next week or so. 

Stay tuned!

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Hustle and the Flow -- Day 521

As I wander through life, I pick up tidbits of pop culture and they come out in weird ways at random times. I was contemplating this blog post about our life right now, and the juxtaposition of doing versus being, when the name of a random movie (which I've never seen, btw) popped into my head. In case you were looking for this post to be related to the Terrence Howard movie, I have to warn you that you will probably be disappointed.

When I refer to The Hustle, I'm talking about the things that we DO. The choices that we make that influence our lives, our circle, our world. Every choice that we make impacts the history of the universe! (In case you were feeling infinitesimally small and insignificant. YOU MATTER.) Every choice that we make, from the decision to wear socks that match, to the person that you are going to marry, will change your story, your life, and your world. When the history of the world is reviewed, those choices will be there.

The Flow is that grand universal life force that is in everything, that IS everything. The unstoppable, unfathomable, unrelenting wave of essence that carries us ever forward on our linear perception of space-time. The Flow crashes through us obliterating our choices, and reminding us that we are specs of cosmic dust, tiny individual cells in an infinite body and the choices that we make are equally insignificant. You wanna wear socks? The Flow doesn't care. You wanna marry a goat? Again, the Flow gives not a whit of thought.

The dance of the Hustle and the Flow are what makes up our daily lives, and the Balance is what keeps us here. If you decide to stay in bed all day and sleep, will the Earth stop turning? Absurd, when you think about it. The Flow keeps the machinations of the universe in motion. Life will go on without you, around you. But it's YOUR life that will not be moving forward, if you don't move with it. And sometimes we need a break, I get it. The Flow is sometimes like a vast river, with different currents. When you have the energy to swim out to the faster moving water, things can develop rather quickly. If you need a break, you can just float along in the lazier parts of the flow. All choices become good choices, because no matter what you do, we all move down the line.

Personally, I'm not wearing socks today.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Road is STILL Life -- Day 487

Way back on Day 2 of this blog, I said The Road is Life, and I was talking about living in the RV full-time. As it turns out, the Universe still has jokes, and now I'm earning my money from driving. If life is all about the journey, I'm living so much right now!

I've been driving for Lyft for about two months. It's not a glamorous job, but it's been fun and pays our meager bills. I get to meet a lot of interesting and fun people, and mostly just drive around listening to music. There are worse ways to earn a living! (Trust me to know from personal experience.)

So this is where we are right now, still climbing out of the hole that being out of work for a couple of months has put us in. Still trying to figure out which way forward is the best way forward. Still trying to stay attuned to the flow of the universe around us. I get the sense that we are in a holding pattern, of sorts. We are like newly planted seeds, being watered, waiting for the warm sunshine and plentiful rain of Spring to cause us to sprout.

There are some cool things going on right now, projects in development, that I don't want to talk about just yet. This is definitely an exciting time for all of us, and I humbly ask for your positive energy as we collect ourselves for moving forward.

Love to you all!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Beginnings -- Day 447

I have debated on whether my blog should continue, since it seemed appropriate to end this writing journey with the end of our roadtrip. A few people have asked me what we've been doing, and one pointedly asked about the next blog post. So here it is, by popular demand! (Yes, I'm counting the single request as the popular demand, since there were no other demands to the contrary.)

Picking up the narrative from where we left off in my last post (Thank You--Day 411), the overwhelming generosity of our community enabled us to travel safely back to Dallas. The air of defeat and desperation was mitigated by the warmth of the love that we felt, and we chose to see this as a temporary refueling stop, rather than the end of the journey. Driving back had it's harrowing moments, as Fezzik was still not used to driving long distances, and we were trying to conserve as much money as possible by stopping as little as possible. Some of the mountains gave us trouble, and we actually had to pull of the road a couple of times to prevent overheating, but with a lot of patience and by the sheer force of will, we made the 1366 mile trip in about 3 days.

Rolling into my son's apartment complex, as we had a few times before, had a different feeling this time. The uncertainty of the future, combined with our new found hope from the community, blended into a weird cocktail of fuzzy stress and happiness. We were just in time to celebrate my birthday, back in the arms of our welcoming family. I had mentioned in December of 2015 that everyone should get a Randall (Sometimes the Brakes Fail -- Day 55), and this advice is particularly pertinent again. Randall and Jason have opened up their home to us to stay while we get things figured out.

Day 16 ~ Brookhaven College Thinker
This ancient photo is known as The Ponderer c.2009

December was filled with a mixture of extreme happiness and severe disappointment. My birthday and Christmas were wonderful, spent with friends and family, and reconnecting with folks that we hadn't seen in a year. The fun times being tempered with job opportunities evaporating almost overnight, and feeling like we drove all this way to our safety net, only to find out that it was more like a cobweb. Facing the reality of being older than I've ever been before, and not as *ahem* professional looking as I once was, I wondered if we had made another grave error, and didn't know how to proceed. The brightest spot was the knowledge that at least we weren't going to be homeless a thousand miles from anyone that we knew.

"It is always darkest just before the Day dawneth."~Thomas Fuller

Sometimes you forget that you are made of star stuff, ya know? That the Universe is rigged in your favor? It may not always seem that way, but it is what I believe. When I trust in that belief, and relax in the knowledge that Everything IS, it saves me from the pit of despair that is always lurking on the edge of my perception. Following the flow (The Best Laid Plans -- Day 138) is a much less stressful life and truly the way that I want to live, I just haven't gotten there yet. But as the clouds parted and revealed January of this new year, things began to fall into place. One circumstance after another fit perfectly together to provide for me both transportation and a job. Now we begin the uphill climb from the debt hole into which we had fallen, older and wiser. 

Look out, 2017. Here we come.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Thank You -- Day 411

Often I like to start a blog post with a quote, and I was thinking about using "I get by with a little help from my friends" ~ The Beatles, until I realized that it was about taking drugs and that was NOT the tone that I wanted to set for this particular post, where I'm trying to figure out how to express my gratitude to my community of loving friends and family that have supported us through this rough transitional time. And why are run-on sentences so funny?

But seriously, I owe a tremendous debt that could never be repaid. I reached out for help, and the overwhelming generosity of the people that I am privileged enough to call my friends has humbled me greatly. The outpouring of loving support through words, job offers, places to stay, and obviously cash donations brought me to tears on more than one occasion.

I asked for a miracle and the miracle was you. 

To briefly recap, we spent a month in Hemet, California, trying to find jobs to keep our adventure going. All signs had pointed to this location as being the most logical, in terms of proximity to civilization, affordability, weather, amenities. Everything about our stay was perfect, except for the fact that literally no one was hiring. I had heard things about the job market being tough for the last decade, but it had never affected me in Texas, because the economy of the Lone Star State was really strong, and I was in an industry with high turnover (which means getting hired is super easy.) California is a different animal entirely, and the higher wages for menial labor means that people are more selective in their hiring and turnover is relatively low. When you pay people a living wage, it's a job they'll want to keep for as long as they can. We reached a point where we had to choose between paying rent for a little while longer, hoping that one of the 32 jobs for which I had applied would call me back for an interview, or giving up on California and trying to make it back to Texas. Paying rent again would have meant no money for food, so that was one of those really interesting exercises in Faith. 

I'm reminded of a story that I heard once in church. There was a flood, and a good Christian man found his house filling with water. As the water made the road impassible for his vehicle, a neighbor came by in a big four-wheel drive truck. "Get in, the flood is getting worse," the neighbor shouted. The man replied, "God is going to save me!" And he retreated to the upstairs of the house. As the water rose to his second floor window, a rescue worker came by in a boat.  "Get in, the water is going to continue to rise," called the rescue worker. The man shouted back, "God is going to save me!" and climbed up to the roof. As the water encroached upon the edges of the roof, a helicopter came with a lowered rope. The rescue worker called to the man through a bullhorn, "Climb up! This is our last flight out!" The man yelled back, "God is going to save me!" With a shrug, the rescue worker in the helicopter departed, and the water still rose. The man o the roof drowned and went to Heaven. As he stood before the Throne of God, he asked, "Why hadn't I been saved? Why was I left to die?" God answered him, "I sent a truck, a boat, and a helicopter. What else did you want me to do?"

As I was in Hemet, stressing about what to do, the idea of asking for help kept coming up. I am loathe to request assistance in ANY circumstance, preferring to suffer along in silence, often feeling like whatever struggle I'm going through is deserved. Consequences are the result of actions that we take, decisions that we make, and choices that we select. Everything that happens is for a reason! I'm not suggesting that everything is predetermined; rather, things are post-determined, in the sense that the reason something happened is often due to the actions, decisions, or choices that we make. There are ripples that we see, and many that we don't, that influence our world and the world of those around us. Everything is interconnected, and the ripples of the choices of other folks influence me and my ripples too. When I came to this realization, I knew that the reason I kept thinking of asking for help was to learn that it is OK to ask, and that sometimes when you ask, you will get more than you need. I didn't realize how alone I had been feeling, fighting this fight with only my girls in tow. Our community rose up to support us, and now I know that I'm truly Never Alone, and we are all in this thing together. 

So I extend to you all my heartfelt thanks for giving me back my life, and showing me how deep my roots actually go. Some of you I speak with regularly, others I haven't interacted with individually in a long time. But know this: I love you, you are part of my community, and if you ever need me, I will be there for you.

I am You.
 You are Me.
 We are One.

Friday, November 25, 2016

End of the rope -- Day 394

This is the hardest post that I have ever had to write. I've actually been putting it off for a while, trying to convince myself that I wasn't going to need to write this post. Holding out for a miracle.

Miracles are around us every day, and it is often up to us to figure them out. Sometimes the miracles that occur are so common as to be mistaken as mundane, and only after careful consideration does the miraculous appear. This past year has been one miracle after another! This adventure in an alternative lifestyle has been liberating and educational. I am truly thankful for this experience, and the places that we've seen, the friends that we've met, and the memories that we've created that will stay with us forever.

Sometimes when you're following a path, it will take you in directions that you are not prepared to go. Sometimes you think you know where you're headed, only to come around a blind corner to see a cliff with a dizzying drop-off. Is this a dead end? Of sorts. The beautiful vista that opens before you is worth the hike in. Appreciate the beauty of the experience! Having to go backwards down the path at that point is just logical, and safe.

This is the point that we have reached in our journey. We are at the precipice, we have seen the beauty and the majesty, but now we have to backtrack a bit. We are going to be going back to Texas. We are not looking at this as a failure, merely another chapter in the adventure.

But we are going to need help! Having calculated our budget for the return trip, it turns out that we don't have quite enough cash. The jobs that we were counting on to get us through this winter have all dried up, along with our savings. We are coming to you, our community, to ask for your assistance in this great time of need. I know that Christmas is coming, and you all are going to be stretched a little thinner in celebration, so I'm not asking for much. Whatever you can contribute will be greatly appreciated, and we will be indebted to you forever.

If you have ever wanted to buy us a drink, or dinner, or take us to the movies; if you have ever wanted to buy us birthday gifts or Christmas presents; if you have ever appreciated any help or act of friendship on our behalf and wondered how you could ever repay us? Now is the time. I will accept any gifts or loans to our paypal account Send the Jacksons back to Texas ( We have already made arrangements for a place to stay once we get back, and I have several job prospects there, but all of that is irrelevant if we get stranded in Arizona on our way back. Please help, if you can.