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In case you missed the recent memo . . .

I now live in Port Angeles, Washington. Sort of. I came out to Washington to see friends and family, and just decided not to go back. I still have to pack up the bulk of my belongings and bring them to Washington, but I’m heading to Michigan next week to do just that. This is where things get interesting.

After a cross-country train ride and two stops along the way, I’ll arrive in Michigan with three days to pack all my stuff. After moving out of my house last summer, everything I now own will fit comfortably in any car, like the car I’m going to rent to drive back to Washington after stopping in Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and anywhere else I find a welcome face and a warm bed.

I expect to be on the road for about a month. If you’ve always wanted to take a huge road trip like this one, keep an eye on this site and consider signing up for my free newsletter to follow along while I drive all over the place, meeting new people and enjoying all the roadside diversions I can stand. There aren’t enough roadside diversions in the whole world to satisfy me.

This is an exciting new chapter for me. Despite the huge amount of uncertainty, I’m looking forward to a new start and sharing all the fun with you.

Update: Follow my updates from the road on a new Tumblr site called Road Delirium.

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Personal

This is not a good coffee day for me

I woke up today with a coffee craving. I don’t have any coffee at my house, so I’ve been looking forward to a hot cup in a cozy shop all day. Let’s see how this plays out.

The first shop is closed.

The second shop might be too hip, but I really like the space. It’s a new shop from a well-established local company that does food right. Waiting ten minutes for my drink isn’t sitting well with me, though.

Aha! They made the wrong drink. I had to go up to the counter to find out what was happening since nobody realized I was still waiting for something that was never made. Let’s see how attempt number two turns out.

Nope. Their second try was the wrong drink, too. Communication between the register and the espresso machine isn’t really happening. My theory: the fucking pour-over station is getting in the way. I can’t wait for that fad to pass.

Finally got my drink. It’s lukewarm.

I’m disappointed. I want to like this place, though, so I’ll keep trying. Perhaps they’ll tighten things up as time goes on. And the pour-over kid really needs to go.

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Pop Music As Time Travel

I fired up a Kitten playlist to blast a wall around me while I work, and I was instantly transported back to some ad hoc club in Austin, TX, almost two years ago. I saw Kitten live on a fantastic night during an amazing week of travel, seeing strange sites and falling in love with new friends. It was a great time for me. Listening to this playlist sustained me for several months after that trip as I was wrapping up my divorce. The lights from that venue, the solid thunk from the drums and bass, the buzzing guitars, swirl around me right now, blocking out the doubt and critical voices.

There’s plenty of other music that moves me in the same way, but there’s one piece in particular I haven’t had the heart to revisit. The summer I fell in love for the first time, I picked up Styx’s Edge of the Century. That girl’s middle name is Lorelei, named after a Styx song from another album. I bought both and listened to nothing else for a time. First love is interwoven with the notes and tones from the Edge of the Century album. I bought a digital copy a few months ago. I just know the moment I hear those first chords, I’ll be in New Orleans all over again. We’ll be splashing in the rooftop pool of the Hotel Monteleone, ambling through the French Quarter, staring at the lights reflecting in the Mississippi River in the dark.

I can’t do it. I don’t know if I’d ever find my way out of that memory.

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But where did Christmas go?

If I were to wake up tomorrow and find Christmas 2014 had been mysteriously cut short, this will still have been the best holiday season I’ve had since I was a child. No doubt in my mind.

I will do my sincere best to share my excess cheer with all of you. Each of you deserves to savor the same joy I feel right now :)

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Personal

Dear Evernote

Dear Evernote,

Your shiny new Mac app is changing note titles to Untitled. It also takes MINUTES to display a note after I click its card in the sidebar. Something tells me this isn’t what your new app is supposed to do.

I want to rely on you for business (like you want me to), but how can I do that if your update breaks basic functionality?

Also, how can I get this fixed when your support team takes so long to reply and doesn’t even give complete information? I thought buying a Premium subscription came with the benefit of fast support.

Love,

Jason

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Personal

Bittersweet travel day today

I’m heading back down to Grand Rapids on another bus, gray over white landscape tumbling along. Yesterday was a lovely and heartwarming Thanksgiving day.

Find the people who fill you up (joy, love, food, warmth) and spend your time with them. You’ll never notice lack again.

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Writehack

I have this new writing project I’m working on, and I figured out a way to trick myself into gathering notes more quickly. Each time I have the urge to check ADN or Twitter, I add a new thought to my notes first. I’m collecting notes in an Evernote notebook, so I can easily get the notes down then switch to the social apps, no matter which device I pick up for the task.

Getting the notes down is proving to be more fun than catching up on my timelines. Sometimes I get distracted and skip the social stuff entirely. This all feels so strange.

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Personal

The key is wearing the right number and variety of layers

I met with a friend tonight, and since I don’t have a car, I had to walk to her house. The temperature was around 20° F, and we’ve still got over a foot of snow on the ground. She lives just about a mile away.

It was a great walk. Truly. I felt more at ease walking in those conditions than I would have felt driving the messy roads.

This is going to be a good winter.

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Personal

On Making New Friends

I’m reading some self-improvement books—mostly for a project I’m working on but also for myself—and the information is solid, except for one thing: every one of those books talks about finding happiness, lowering anxiety, or learning to trust your intuition in the context of being around other people on a consistent basis. What if you aren’t around other people at all?

This is actually a big problem for me right now and has been for the last few years. Normal people have coworkers they see daily and local family members or friends they spend time with. They often have a significant other to talk with most days or maybe a church they drop in to once or twice a week. I somehow painted myself into a corner.

I don’t know how friendships happen for normal people, but the pattern I’ve seen play out in my own life hasn’t kept pace with my needs. When I moved to Michigan, I lost contact with most of my Illinois friends. I stayed in touch with my closest friends, but by necessity those relationships changed due to the long distance. I made new friends through work and through a group at a local college campus. Then when I moved to a new city, the same sort of culling took place.

In the new city, I made friends with coworkers at the jobs I worked. When I moved on from each job, I kept in touch with one or two people but grew apart from the others. See the pattern? Enter a new social circle, make friends, change circles, keep just a few ties that understandably diminish due to necessary separation.

Here’s where my reliance on the pattern broke down. I took a job working remotely, which meant I didn’t have face-to-face contact with my coworkers. A year later, the only human I was interacting with in person on a consistent basis was my wife. Under the best circumstances that’s a precarious position to be in, and that little bit of solid footing gave way when we divorced. There was nobody left.

My only strength in handling this aloneness is also a weakness that works against me as I try to remedy the situation. I’m perfectly comfortable spending an enormous amount of time by myself. This trait has saved my sanity countless times, but it works against me by fostering a complacency toward seeking out new friendships. I feel fine by myself most of the time, so I don’t make great, often uncomfortable, efforts to meet new people. (I tend to be shy.) Making new friends, friends who’ll be a source of comfort and strength, is a steady process that takes time. Being comfortable by myself means I don’t take the necessary early steps to meet new people and to be awkward around them while we get to the deeper levels of friendship. Since I don’t invest my time there, I have no one nearby when I really need someone to lean on.

My online friends are great. You all have been a tremendous source of encouragement when I’ve needed it, and the smiles and laughs we share truly warm my heart. I can’t hug you, though, or ask that you hold my hand when I’m feeling scared. Glowing text on a screen disappears as soon as I look away.

I know the next steps to take, generally. I need to meet more local people and make an effort to get to know better those who resonate with me. I have to be willing to talk to strangers, which scares me, and be awkward in front of people I want to like me, which is one of the hardest things I can imagine right now.

Wish me luck.