Thursday, September 23, 2010


Two Cents Opportunity: Name That Blog!

Well, the new name "Wasteland Wastrel" for my blog now seems a bit melodramatic, and furthermore misleading, because I am not going to flop in the gravel for the winter, I am planning to move indoors. A trailer court sort of indoors, but not a tent, or not just my Crate and the Great Outdoors. "Inna Tenting 395" is no longer true, but neither is "Wasteland Wastrel", because I hope not to return to BLM campgrounds until I have a Mobile Indoors of my own to park in them  And it isn't really wasted land, it is Public Land being legitimately used by taxpayers (mostly). "Boondocking" would be what a wastrel would do, or what is termed "stealth" parking in urban territory.  "Wasteland" would then have to refer to culture, society -- redolent of T.S. Eliot's contribution to English literature, and I should have left it as a single blog entry, meanwhile pondering a new blog title more carefully. 

Dear Readers, consider the facts:

"Inna Tenting 395" was true until my tent blew apart and I gave up on tents in the desert since it blows so often (it is blowing outside under a flood lamp full moon as I write this curled up in the cozy comfort of my Tacoma Crate.) "Inna Crating 395" ? ... probably too ambiguous.

Public Land is truer than Wasteland, but not as edgy. 
However, it does include all public land (state, county) campgrounds, not just BLM.

Retiree is (or will be soon) truer than Wastrel, but not as colorful. There is an RV club titled Escapees that was mostly retirees when it started up, so that's taken. 

Any title with Road in it is way too loaded with guy-thing stickers. 

Desert-Something would be true as long as I stay in the desert, but what if I wanted to cruise around the Oregon beaches next summer, when I get that little 13ft Casita Trailer I'm dreaming about?

MobileKodgers, SwankieWheels and WanderingScribe are three blogs I've bookmarked as sistren and brethren in the lo-rent rolling life; Mobile Kodgers writes poems for his gregarious high-energy lotsa-fotos lifestyle blog, SwankieWheels follows through on her vow to kayak all the states in the Union, and WanderingScribe writes, but not about wandering. There was a wonderful blog titled DesertDutch, but it went unchanged for 3 years and then disappeared; it had lots of good stuff about Hiway 395, Mojave, old Route 66 and Slab City -- may Desert Dutch and his dog the Duchess live, or rest, in peace.

All these folks mention the moving-around-thing in their blog title. But it looks like I won't be rolling just yet, but  "WannabeRVer" doesn't really grip the imagination.

I am considering "PublicLandsPilgrim" because I have a wonderful painting of a gray-haired woman in baggy purple flannel and jeans, holding a staff while standing in an indeterminate Eastern Sierra meadow; it is not a self-portrait, but it is an appealing figure, to use as a figurehead, or masthead. And Pilgrim is what Vatican II designated both the Catholic Church and the individual Christian to be. The Pilgrim Church, the Church of Pilgrims. Obviously, there is now in process a tremendous backlash to this idea, which renders the true pilgrim a churchless wastrel. No church, no home, no going back -- and so fare forward, wastrels!  

But mixing Government with Faith is proscribed by our Constitution; how could I make this idea ethical? 

"Mobile Pilgrim" is redundant. 

Maybe just: "Lo-RentTrailerArtist" ?  I need to pull forward into my retirement plan which includes touring around to art festivals in municipal fair grounds (and on the pier, the beach, the park etc.), sell my paintings, and reproductions thereof, and my poetry books. or "TouringTrailerArtist"  ??

Hey Readers!  Please comment, free custom painted pet portrait to the winning suggestion!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Return to the Desert


It's a monastery out there, lots of semi-solitary folks

camped on wasteland drinking dirt cheap beer all  

day long to find the peace that only neglect can bring.

It doesn't (oh come on, you know Merton, "the Hermit,"

drank .... and that Roshi in Mt. Baldy ...) work. So angry!

If you need an unchurched god and you can't connect 

while stuck in this culture, you go to hash inside.

Finally comes the day you quit patching your mask,

and when you can't afford to rent but still own a vehicle 

you drive it to the desert and park it on public land.

It's too cold, too hot, too dry, too dull, and lonesome.

If you don't drink, you"ll get peevish and bored.

But if you try to return to the Renters' Paradise

you'll feel really sick. You'll get homesick

for space and light and sand and sage and Nothing.


explanation of blog URL and Title change:

Complaining of boredom and loneliness in my no-amenities desert campsite, I had welcomed a house-sitting opportunity to explore the possibility of returning to a middleclass single lifestyle and its society and entertainments, but while visiting Davis, CA, a shady, pleasant, semi-rural college town, I found myself feeling anxious.* Oddly, out in the desert I do not feel this way.

Although I greatly enjoyed visiting friends on the seaside of the Sierra Nevada (and friends were warm, sweet and generous to me, as they have always been, and for which I am and shall be always grateful) the core of loneliness I complained of remains unchanged. I wonder if the comforting experience of being "surrounded by old friends" is primarily circumstantial, a local social-self identity that a participant forfeits upon leaving the circumstances. "Circumstance" is more than physical surroundings, it also means social position and participation in a specific culture. I have never made the necessary self-investments that sustain and reward middleclass culture: marriage and children, career and career-supported house and properties ownership, and all their concommitant social networks of education and recreation, vacations, celebrations, associations, inheritances, politics. I lived there as a visitor, an outsider. 

Perhaps the anxiety I felt in Davis and the East Bay is partly a reflection of the apprehension of insecurity, poverty, failure and social opprobrium that fuels the construction of an appearance of well-being in a circumstance of well-deserved prosperity, a matter of pervasive concern to all middleclass societies since their inception at the end of the last cycle of Western feudalism. Often expressed by European bourgeoisie through the cultural values of "good taste" or "maintaining the status quo" (that so infuriated artists and philosophers of the 19th century), in the United States it also manifests in the form of an encrypted Puritan-derived belief that success proves moral righteousness, that poverty proves (or in another version, causes) essential moral corruption (or revolution!) and is therefore to be feared and shunned. I find this moral dimension to be particularly troublesome; it seems to underwrite social investment in denial when well-being is not supported by reality.

Now that I can claim the reality of being a "desert rat," -- a wastrel living in a vehicle on vacant land (public BLM lands unused by industry or agriculture, hence "wasted" land, although it is often designated "recreational land;" when public land is designated as a park or monument it suddenly becomes a civil or national treasure, and therefore more expensive to park on... ) -- I can let the practical demands of a life on the margins provide relief from the strain of trying to appear to be secure, successful, solvent and fulfilled. I never was, I never did, I never had, I never will.

*Anxiety is a reality-independent, free-floating fear; most immediate survival problems are practical in nature and resolved by taking action. Now, at 60, I realize that much of the time when people complain and worry obsessively, meanwhile refusing to initiate any solution to the stated problems, they are expressing this nebulous anxiety. In my family, the menfolks always tried to "fix" all worries and complaints as if they were practical matters. I have put people off by imitating them, and have also confused myself. In the desert, these patterns have become clearer.