What It Takes — Or How Revolution is a Privilege

My trip was delayed until Monday morning. I picked up a Nissan Altima from National Car Rentals at the Salt Lake City airport.

Back at home I had the bare essentials assembled.

I reassure myself repeatedly by visualizing a return to Utah to pick up the rest of my belongings, when I have some more money. I’m in Monk mode, which means I only need those items that will help me get to my next step. Material possessions are superfluous for now. If I really need something, I’ll buy it out in Washington. Life transitions while poor still come with some amazing privileges, but setting higher standards can only demoralize the soul.

I brought with me my iPhone, my wallet, my PC, basic wires and cables, three blankets, a pillow, clothes, toiletries, baseball bat (I’ve already outed myself as paranoid), sleeping bag, calendar whiteboard, portable fan (can’t sleep without it), extra pair of shoes, my bike, and a bin full of spare food and kitchenware. For nightly entertainment I brought my Xbox 360 and a TV monitor and my Kindle. These last items I am prepared to sell if I need the spare cash, but otherwise their purpose is to preserve my sanity in the weeks of hustling ahead.

I set out on the road, heading at first up to Salt Lake City, then towards Boise, and then on towards Seattle. It was a beautiful trip. I listened to The Power of Now by Eckard Tolle, World War Z by Max Brooks, and EDM. I disregarded the law and took some pics, even a selfie, because I’m tired of following rules. I made sure to only use my camera outside of traffic congestion.

I arrived at my cousin’s house in Mill Creek at 1 am after 14 hours of driving on 4 hours of sleep. I know, I really should have slept more, but I was in a fascinating conversation with Marcus Johnson on Twitter.

Listening to the highly-reviewed World War Z audio book reminded me how people always assume things will turn out for the better, until they don’t. I’m determined not to be that kind of person. Blame my Eagle Scout award, I’m going to be prepared for what’s coming.

The best part of the drive was when I started driving next to a car with Tennessee license plates. The two women inside seemed to be my same age and had their car loaded up with luggage as if going on a trip. They had sunglasses on and seemed very stone-faced. I sped around them, then they sped around me, then they slowed down and I sped around them again. We ended up doing this, revolving around each other, for practically the entire leg of the journey through Oregon!

When I realized they were watching me, I did what only a dork like me could come up with on short notice. Once ahead of them, I began singing as loud as I could to tracks by Vampire Weekend and Queen. I bobbed up and down, trying to dance and shuffle while seated. When the ladies sped by me again they were laughing and smiling. We did this a few more times, but I pretended I didn’t see them. I stopped and gave them a long look, eyebrows raised, trying to teasingly communicate “are you watching me?” Maybe it appeared as though I was scowling, because after two hours of this game they slowed way down and I didn’t see them again. It was a fun distraction as I fought off exhaustion. I wonder where they went.

The bedroom I’m crashing at looked like this Tuesday morning:

It’s not much, but… it’s not much. Oh well, I have to see myself for what I can be, not what I have. I need a place to sleep, send job applications, order necessities and write Medium posts, so this room serves just fine. I have two weeks from today to be out of here, it’s only temporary.

Speaking of necessities, I realized on Tuesday that I hadn’t brought my bike helmet and I didn’t have a bike lock. Stupid. Luckily, Amazon Prime Now delivered both along with a wireless adapter for my PC within two hours and without charging me for shipping. I think I’m going to like it here.

I’ve been following a simple schedule since Tuesday, that I deviate from only to go to interviews (only two so far, this Thursday and Saturday).

  • 6:30 am — Wake up. Exercise (basics only: crunches, biceps, push-ups, lunges). Take a cold shower. Eat breakfast (2–3 eggs, toast, black tea). Meditate. Take supplements (currently: fish oil, NALT).
  • 8:00 am — Start working on job applications. I work for 45 minutes then take a 15 minute break. I don’t look at my phone or social media until my break, but usually I just like to refill on water in the kitchen, stretch my legs, or microwave another cup of tea.
  • 12:00 pm — Lunch break. I make soup, noodles, rice, potatoes, beans, chicken for now. I’d like to add some more veggies to my diet.
  • 1:00 pm — Back to job applications.
  • 6:00 pm — Finish the day, make dinner, same fare as lunch.
  • 7:00 pm — Listen to an audio book or music as I catch some outside time. There are many awesome little parks throughout Mill Creek to choose from. I like to go on walks and read my Kindle (currently: Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson) or go on a bike ride (usually with a store visit in mind).
  • 8:00 pm — Back indoors, I surf the net, give myself some downtime, play some Xbox (currently: Rise of the Tomb Raider).
  • 9:30 pm — I prepare for sleep, turn off the electronics, write in my planner, read more, send some last texts to friends and family.
  • 10:30 pm — The day closes. Sleepytime!

I’m applying for an Uber Xchange Lease. I have $250 for a down payment and I would like to be able to make some money on the side if finding the right job takes too long. I can pay the monthly simply through fares on Friday and Saturday nights. If the lease turns out to cost me more in time than it profits me, then I can return the car in 30 days. Some of these jobs I’m applying to are as far as Olympia, so if I land an interview, having a car will make it much easier. Uber is still in the approval process, apparently they need to see more evidence that I’m not living in Utah anymore. I’ll keep you updated!

Friday morning I received a call from a potential employer. They wanted to interview me Saturday afternoon. I was relieved, it was the first interview I had landed since Utah. However, I was also disappointed. I wanted to surprise everyone by biking to Fidalgo Island to join Break Free PNW.

I spent most of Friday night planning how I was still going to make it up there by hopping on my bike as soon as I returned from my interview. It’s so close! Yet so far away… 6 hours and almost 70 miles by bike.

I would have to bike at nighttime, because I could only start after my interview, and I wouldn’t be guaranteed a place to stay. I planned to bring my sleeping bag and just find someone to share a tent with, or nestle in somewhere in the woods. What’s worse, to get back to Mill Creek to continue my job search on Monday would require me to pull another 70 mile ride the day after. Now, I’m a casual cyclist, after I’ve biked more than 50 miles I’m usually exhausted and the day after my legs are almost too sore to walk. As my Friday evening darkened, I began to realize I would not be able to #OccupyFidalgoIsland after all. I could have jumped on the light rail, but it would have cost me $40 round trip. That’s not an amount I can spend every weekend until I start earning some money. For a while, I entertained biking up Saturday night, leaving the return trip for Monday, but then…

I realized I had a real justification to not attend. While civil disobedience and non-violent resistance are the most effective ways we can mobilize society to take on the issue of impending climate catastrophe, this was not the time to be taking on more responsibility than I could handle. I’m only just starting a new life and I should be given the benefit of the doubt. After all, I have honest, worthwhile intentions. The environmentalist movement isn’t going away. I need to work on myself first, and when my basic needs are taken care of, then I’ll bring my A-game to the cause. Incidentally, this is a great reason why we need a basic income.

Still, I would have LOVED LOVED LOVED to be there with these other activists!!! I wonder how many others are in the same situation as I; eager and willing to mobilize against polluters, but without the means to contribute. It would have only taken an empty seat in a van to add my voice and body to this protest. I searched the web for a volunteer who could give me a free or $5-$10 ride with no luck, and I was only an hour away by car! Maybe in the future we could provide some more basic services for those without the means. Still, it seems the event accomplished what it set out to do.

For now, revolution is a privilege. A privilege I hope to earn ASAP.