Notes from the underground: Living in Nola

When Chris was 23 years old; he left his home and the lake of his home and took a Megabus to New Orleans. It was there he learned the streets and how to revel in some of the darkest places on earth. He spent only 4 months there until life came and swept him away. This is his story from the first four months of his solo journey to explore the world.

I had a backpack and a hockey bag filled with all my possessions when I got off the Megabus in upper Marigny, New Orleans. I was headed to a housing situation I had put together through Craigslist housing weeks before. The house was in Central City and on the other side of the French Quarter; maybe a 2 mile walk. I had been exchanging emails with a girl that turned out to be my age. She and two others had been working as a traveling punk rock band and ended up running out of money in New Orleans. They let me rent the middle room of their shotgun for 400/month. Walking across the French Quarter to this house was one of the riskier parts of my life, but at the end of my first night in Nola I had made it to a safe place to sleep, I had $500 to my name, and I was so motivated to live I could hardly sleep.

My first few weeks in Nola went so fast. I needed to find a job and so I bought a bike and spent my days handing out resumes and emailing for jobs from the public library. At night I would head to different bars in the city to get to know the locals. I started working at a local bar as a bar-back and was just finding my groove when I got in trouble with the cook for “not respecting personal boundaries”. I worked another job at this karaoke spot called The Cat’s Meow right on Bourbon Street, I hated this job though. I was the lowest position in the club and mostly just handled the trash. I quit working there as soon as I got a job delivering Pizza with my bike at Magazine Pizza. It was good money, I worked nights, and it was great for someone that wanted to get to know the city. All this in only two weeks.

Two Weeks in and at this point it was a full on Quarter Rat. I knew many of the local street people. On the nights that I wasn’t working I would go and explore the night life of Nola. Sometimes I would go out with 2 of my housemates. The drummer and the singer were a lot of fun and were invaluable for learning different and new parts of town. There was a third member of the band I was living with. She was younger and not as social. One night the three of us went out to this bar Tracie’s in the Irish Channel. Just down the street from where me and the band were living. We played pool and darts and through some other bar shenanigans I ended up doing cocaine in the bathroom with a stranger. It was some of the best blow I have ever done in my life and after that I bounced all of the bar and drank so much I felt invincible. The drummer ended up getting lost and so it was just the singer and I for the walk home. She was cute and I was attracted. There is a problem with cocaine though, and that is that it wears off. When it came time to make the move I could not, she wanted me to but I could not. The next day I was headed pee in a cup for a job working a pedicab in the Quarter. I failed that test for cocaine! The pedicab manager didn’t care. He let me take the test again so long as I passed; and that’s how they handle things down in The Big Easy. People rules are greater than market standards. And this is how I love to live.

It was the third and younger member of the band that I didn’t get along too well. I don’t remember what our disagreement was about but one day she kicked me out. I was out of the house and she threw all of my things on the street and locked the door. It was afternoon when I picked up my things and walked to the nearest hostel. They had a dorm situation where for something like $20 per night I could sleep in a bed in a dormitory and keep my things in a place where no one would steal them. I was picking up as many shifts from work as they would give me and I knew that I would be able to afford to rent my own place in only a week or two. I decided not to pay rent at the hostel in order to save more for the house. One morning at 4am a hostel employee came into the dormitory and yelled loud enough to wake everyone up: “Someone is not supposed to be here!” I admitted it was me immediately, got my things and left. That day I wandered down to the quarter to try and figure something out. I ran into my juggler friend who said that I could crash in this squat house and that night he took me to an old and abandoned house in the 7th ward. 

Back during Hurricane Katrina the levees broke and it was the lower class areas of town that flooded first. I was in Nola years after Katrina but there were still many houses that had not been renovated, many of which had become inhabited by locals. Rumor had it that if you lived in a single place for 4 or more years and no one came to contest your ownership, then you became the legal owner of that property. The entrance to the squat house that I stayed in was in a sort of back alleyway and there would have been no way I could have found it on my own. It consisted of three houses and a courtyard. There were maybe 5 people staying in this area. Some of whom I recognized from town. The houses would have been underwater during Katrina and the walls would crumble when touched. There were holes in the roof but with some cardboard on the floor it wasn’t the most uncomfortable place to sleep. 

I slept in the squat for one week and have never been more money motivated in my life. I was picking up extra shifts at work, looking for a cheap place to rent, and spending almost no money. I remember going to Subway where I had worked out the way to get the most calories for your dollar with getting the sub of the day and maxing out on the veggies. I found a second job that I would work during the day generating leads door to door for a security system company. It was these days that I would hang out in the quarter with the juggler friend who showed me the squat house. He had painted a large sign that said “Sidewalk Circus” and would juggle all day in the quarter. Me and a couple other street people would hang out in this group. Frank the French Canadian could play the guitar, Bobbie could do rope dart and walked around with a staff with real animal bones on it and was generally a legit shaman all in all. I would mostly just try and talk to girls. There were more of us and the adventures we got into were so much fun. One night we were out and in the chaos of the night I found myself talking to a girl who playfully called herself “Trouble”. I insisted on learning her real name but she was stern in not telling it to me. Eventually we went our separate ways. Out of nowhere came a guy, taller than me who told me to stop hitting on his wife. I opened my arms as if to give him a hug and tried to tell him not to worry. He punched me in the face once and tried to punch me again but I ducked and grabbed him. We would have gone down wrestling but the fight was broken up only seconds after it was started. I had a black eye for a week. I had an interview at a white tablecloth restaurant that I didn’t get, and I had to stop working door to door because the owner didn’t like sending someone with a black eye to the door of people he hoped to be handling their security. It was  a major setback but I was still able to find the perfect house to rent and had planned to get out of the squat house in only a few days. 

I had set up a space to sleep with cardboard and my sleeping bag in a corner to the squat house. I put my clothes and other things in a corner but there were so many strangers in and out of that place that many different people had gone through my things and anything valuable was taken. It wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t have much to take in the first place. On the best of nights spent in the squat we played banjo and drank whiskey random French Canadians; on the worst of nights I would do my best to be as friendly and non-threatening as possible as some more dangerous people would roll through. I would spend as little time as I could in the squat. One night I was out in the Quarter at a place called CheckPoint Charlies and to this day I have not seen a more raunchy bar. There was a punk rock show going on and I jumped in the mosh pit to have some fun. It was a dirty mosh and elbows and knees were being thrown left and right. At one point a guy behind me stood in a way where his crotch intentionally brushed near my butt. I turned and grabbed him and then threw him into the mosh. This started a new mosh where everyone was throwing each other and it was fun. Then, out of nowhere the girl that I had been speaking to a few days before, Trouble launched herself at me from the crown. She grabbed me and started biting and scratching me. I tossed her off then started throwing as many other moshers in between her and I as I could. Then, out of the crowd came the guy that had punched me in the face and in front of everyone pointed out the door. I now knew that he went by the name of “Trash” and at this point I was more than ready to fight and followed him out the door. A crowd of 20 or more people formed a circle around us and started to jeer. I made the first move stepping forward and taking a swing. He dogged me, pulled my coat over my head and kneed me in the face. I was stunned but was able to grab him and push him against the wall. We scrapped for a bit longer but he had won the fight. I left and he went back into the bar. I walked back to the squat house and tried to get some sleep. 

That night was the only time I ever got sleep paralysis. I woke up late in the night unable to move. I saw what I thought was a shadow thing that had me in its grip. I tried to move or make a sound but could not. The shadow raised a gun and pointed it at me. Eventually I was able to make a small squeak and right then the shadow disappeared and I was able to move. After that night I was left with a chill however, one that would last until I got my own house and was able to put a locked door between me and Now Orleans.

Denver Revisited

First few hours in Denver and I already find myself in Lela’s Cafe. Lela’s is a bit of second home for me. It’s a 24-hour coffee shop that’s located right downtown. There have been more than a few nights of getting sloppy drunk here or using it as a layover place while I am between jobs or housing which is what I am doing right now. Seeing the same regulars that were here 6 months ago and then even the same regulars that have been here 3 years ago bring back some interesting memories; some good and some bad. I have been through a lot here in Denver and there is much pain in what I remember. It takes work to make it in this city. Not to get ahead of myself but this coming summer I think I will look for housing away from downtown and away from the memories. Something that takes advantage of the amazing outdoors here in this state. Maybe Boulder or maybe south of Boulder.

It’s always a good experience going back to Minnesota. Spending time with the family and the friends that I love so much keeps me grounded in a way. I should have sold my RV much earlier than I did and so I was a bit crunched into leaving the way that I did. I don’t have as much money as I would like to have but the good thing about Denver is that I have three potential jobs that I can pick up on the spot. Today and tomorrow I will ride pedicabs and then Monday I can work the canvassing business if I need. Tonight is a Saturday and tomorrow there is a football game so I feel that I can expect a good amount of cash to help me out with purchasing skis. If I still need a bit more I can even go and knock doors to make a bit of extra cash. After I have enough money to pay rent and buy skis then it’s time to retreat to my winter wonderland and find the groove of teaching people how to ski. I am looking forward to the ride up the mountain and to never coming back down.

When leaving MN I was somewhat indecisive in my choice of how to get to CO. At first I was going to take my motorcycle and so spent a good amount of money getting the bike fixed but then ended up buying a plane ticket. It’s alright in the end because I would have needed to spend the money on the bike eventually but did not need to spend it immediately and so now have a bit less money to buy things like an appt or skis. Just a little note on being more decisive. A bit a learning on how to make choices is in order at this very moment. Actually, this entire paper is dedicated to having a plan. I must point out that it’s those little decisions that you can’t plan for that are the decisions that will fuck you up.

Right now I am just chillin. Super tired but ready for life. Right now I write and I wait. I wait for the night and for tomorrow. Meeting up with some old friend and looking for everything that I want out of life. Massive success. Something that sets me apart for the masses all trolling around in this world. It takes massive amounts of motivation and even more amounts of work, but it’s simple in this way where you know what you have to do. Question for all of us is, can you do it?

My first goal is to quick video games. If I can stay clean for a month then I can move onto something new, like eating a super awesome diet. For now, I need to focus on the little things and not get ahead of myself. Simple really; simple but not easy.

This Summer

Life update

I started out this summer living in a car in Portland. Now I find myself living in an RV in Minneapolis. So much more than a simple housing upgrade and a move went down this summer, which is something I would like to touch on here as briefly as I can in this blog post.

There seem to be three phases to any adventure. The first is the preparation and work phase which is usually the one that is hardest to do. This was what my time in Portland was like. Working two jobs so that I could afford to travel south. Good times playing hacky sack at a boring ass job, and then weekends on the tricycle delivering people to their destinations. Even though my entire life was dedicated to exploration, I still wish I had more time to explore. It was only a few months spent in Portland before I left for the next phase of my adventure.

By proceeding through the work phase it’s time for the next part of the adventure which is the action phase. My action part of the adventure got jump-started when an old friend called and asked if I wanted to ride the tricycle at a festival in Kentucky. I had about two days to make a decision on if I wanted to go or not but it only took me about 5 seconds to make up my mind. I picked up a few grams of DMT (real shit), shaved my head, and jumped on a plane within a day. Upon getting to Kentucky I realized that the festival that we had been talking about was actually the Kentucky Derby. I joined a team of pedicab drivers and we road in Louisville Kentucky for three days before law enforcement ticketed half of us and then kicked the rest of us out. There is a decent video of the entire event that I posted to youtube that you can find here.

Needless to say, we were pissed but had to pack up and head back west. To save money I hitched a ride with the pedicab guys (who were all from Utah) and spent most of the trip west in a hammock in the back of a box truck. About halfway there I realized that I had a potential RV waiting for me in Denver so I got off in Wyoming and hitched my way south. The RV was promised to me from a friend of mine who turned out to not be the most reliable of persons. To be honest, I knew this going into the friendship but stuck with it because I thought there was a chance that he might pull through. All and all, his friendship proved valuable insight into how poorly some people are put together. The fact that he never came through with the RV was the least bit of troubles. I am talking about a man who makes a good bit of money from selling prescription drugs that he get prescribed from a sketchy doctor. Never coming through on promises is something he would compensate for by making promises with more grandeur. All of these negative attributes were things that I could bear. He was funny and pleasant to hang around and for sure had a positive business input, even if his commitment was only half as strong as his word. Shortly after my time in Denver, he died of a drug overdose which is something I can never forgive him for. All that I put into building a relationship with him is now good for nothing other than to teach me to look for the red flags in people and to take action on not letting some into my life.

Flying out of Denver and landing in Seattle, I got back into my Subaru and headed south where I was to ride EDC in Vegas. I had about a month before I needed to be in Nevada and so decided to take my time going down the cost. I stopped in Pacific City to visit with a friend I had made working on the mountain. I was just looking to stop by for a night or two but when it turned out to be a hippy playground paradise home, I ended up staying for 3 nights. We had bonfires in the woods, kayaking in the ocean, surfing, bow& arrows + guns, some of us tripped our nuts off, and I even got a tattoo. After all of this, I continued to make my way south.

The rest of my trip went quickly before I landed in Vegas. I spent a few days in San Francisco but didn’t find much to do other than walk for miles all over the city. Got all the good tourist things in and made friends with a few people that walk the streets. On my way out I tried to climb half-dome in Yosemite National Park but learned that you need to apply for a permit in order to climb, and there is no car camping allowed in the park. Park security walked up on my car right after I got done smoking a bowl to myself at sundown. I had to wiggle my way out of getting a ticket and possibly searched and then quickly left the park just so that I could get a few hours closer to Vegas.

Upon arriving in Vegas I headed straight to the pedicab garage where I was able to rent a bike a ride the town. One of my favorite places to be in this world is on a bike in a strange place. The click of the mind that says “where the fuck am I and how do I figure this out?” has got to be one of the best experiences of my life. When the sun goes down Vegas becomes a lucrative place to anyone that is working a job. It’s all about strip clubs and dispensaries when on the bike. The days are hot and there is no underground because of the hard desert ground. I spent my days in delirium and my nights exploring and exploiting the town. It was a good warmup for EDC.

For anyone that has not heard of the Electric Daisy Carnival before, its a “festival” but better named as a rave. The largest rave in America. Half a million people show up for a 5-day event and I was seated on the nicest pedicab I have ever road. Two fat lithium-ion batteries were stored under the seat. With the push of the throttle, you could have that thing going 25+ mph in less than 10 seconds. The line of cars to get into to EDC camping stretched for miles. I spent the first hours of the festival driving through car lines looking for people that had too much to carry and needed a lift. I have never met a customer population so ready to spend money. Considering the ticket price was $500+ and the price to camp was more than double that, it should not have been such a surprise.

There are two big factors that go into how much money you make pedicabing EDC. They are how hard you work, and how smart you work. The working hard factor comes about by not sitting in lines. There are times in the city when sitting in a line is most likely the best course of action as it will get you quality rides quickly. At EDC there are so many sales opportunities that your best bet is to get on the hunt and to always be on the hunt. I don’t believe that in the entirety of the festival that it ever took me longer than 10 minutes to find new passengers. The other factor to working hard is sleep. Think about it like this; at any given hour of the day there is $100 potential dollars that can be made. How can you rationalize sleep when there is that type of money out here? The fact is that you need to sleep however and so the trick is to sleep as little as possible. The Uberman sleep cycle is a method for humans to get a little sleep as possible while still being able to function normally. It involves sleep for 20 min naps spaced evenly six times throughout the day. It wasn’t super intentional that I got on to something of this style of sleep but it happened none-the-less. I was also doing some experimentation with a nootropic I had just ordered called “aniracetam” which helps specifically with boosting your mind out of low performance into high performance. All of this hard work was paying bank and I continued to get more hardcore with my routine the further into the festival I got. I even stopped eating all junk food because of how much immediate monetary benefit I got from eating healthy. The second part and the much more valuable part is working smart. By this, I mean supply and demand. As I said earlier, I did not go more than 10 minutes without finding new customers but the average for finding new customers was more like less than 1 minute with a peak time new customer rating of just seconds. At first, I charged a normal city fair of $2 a block. Soon I realized that I wanted to have a good amount of people literally disgusted that I would ask so much. I would ask for the heavens and if I got rejected it would only take me moments to find another potential fair. This little trick made me thousands of dollars over the 5-day event.

The last night of EDC I worked until well after the sun came up The guy I rented my bike from came to get what was his late in the afternoon. I remember stumbling to help him lift the bike into the back of his truck, I then crawled by into the comfort of my Subaru and passed out so hard I did not notice the desert heat for even a moment.

EDC was the highlight of my summer. With the money I made I was able to pay off the last of my cc debt and go to another festival in southern California- Lightning in a bottle where I was able to send more than a few people on a DMT trip of a lifetime. After LIB I moved back to Denver where I rented a spot in Cap-Hill, continued to work pedicabs, and opened up my own business generating and selling leads door-to-door for a few different companies. Tree trimming and roofing were my bread and butter. A hailstorm hit pushing my life, for the first time, into economic prosperity. I bought a motorcycle and a motorhome and moved back home to Minnesota where I do most of the same thing but now with old friends. I road pedicabs at the Sturgis motorcycle rally and was even able to fit another festival in called Shangri-la (best festival ever). I now find myself wearing a flannel and looking out the library window at falling leaves in a chilled Minneapolis downtown. It has been a wonderful summer. The greatest summer.

The third part of any adventure is the post-trip recuperation time. It’s a time that I often become introverted and sometimes madly depressed. It can be hard to accept that in the end there you are and for all the changes that you feel that you have gone through, once again you find yourself back at your baseline, back in boredom. For me, it sometimes takes a long time to pick myself up and get back into preparation build mode but in the end, there is nothing else I can do. With every trip I get better and the past few months in MN I have been able to release myself from the post-trip depression faster than ever and have started to prepare for the next adventure.

In less than a month I will head into the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where I will start my season as a Ski/board-instructor at Vail Resorts. This life would be something of a dream to me many years ago but now I am growing accustomed to it. I often feel scared and nervous but now, my excitement far suppresses any negative emotions that might prevent me from moving forward. The fun doesn’t stop there and already I am ready for the next adventure to come.

Much love,

-Chris

Bus Conversion Blog- Day 1

Yesterday I bought a full length (40 ft), yellow, school bus. I bought the bus off craigslist from a bus company called Park Adams Transportation for $1500 bringing my total expenses up to $1500 for the bus conversion. I met up with one of their employees who showed me out back where he had over 50 buses stored, only 3 of which were for sale. I learned that school districts are only allowed to run their buses for 10 years before they need to upgrade to newer buses. This makes it so that there is a consistently high turnover in in the bus world and thus is the reason why it’s so cheap to make a schoolie.

My main focus when looking for a quality bus was that the rust was in check (most important that the bottom of the bus is cleanish), that all the electrical systems worked properly (failed to see a faulty speedometer), and that the engine sounded and looked like it would last. As soon as I found a bus that met my specifications I made the purchase. It was nice that I felt that I could trust the guy that sold it to me and he assured me that if there were anything that turned up wrong that I could bring it into the shop and he would be able to help me out in fixing it.

Making the first drive was one of the craziest things I have ever done in my life. Technically you are supposed to remove all indications of it being a school bus and then get permission from the state for a temporary relocation before you can drive the bus, but the man who I bought it from assured me that for the first drive that it would be ok. I set off on a 14-mile drive to find the spot where the bus is parked now. It was a wild drive, though its not as hard to drive something that big as I thought it would be. Its important to make sure that you will clear each turn at to watch tail kick when turning as well. Eventually I made it to north mpls where the bus is parked in front of a park and not in front of private property.

Having parked the bus in a comfortable space I now am looking into removing the markings that make it a school bus, unbolting the seats, and getting the bus registered as a recreational vehicle. I also want to know more about what the laws are about parking a large vehicle on the streets for an extended period of time and am wondering if I am going to have to deal with people messing with me. I mostly feel like I am in over my head but for sure expected to feel like this. I am taking it one day at a time.

Lions Mane- For Your Health

With all the different new supplements and smart drugs popping up on the market nowadays it can be hard to decipher which are legit and which are trying to capitalize on the new fad. Well I have some good news for you. Lion’s Mane has been tested by science and this is what they have found out.

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#1- Memory, Focus, and Concentration

Lion’s Mane is a neuropeptide which is something that help support neurons in your brain which is what helps your brain process and transmit information. There is scientific literature that points to the fact that Lion’s Mane take for 4 weeks can help photographic memory. It can also do wonders for anyone that has cognitive impairment and needs to get back to baseline.

#2- Reduces depression and anxiety

Studies have shown that Lion’s Mane can reduce depression and anxiety just as effectively as leading pharmaceutical manufactured drugs but without many of the undesirable consequences which means that it can be a great alternative for anyone that is suffering from the unwanted side effects from pharmaceuticals.

#3- Increase in Energy

Many people claim that mushroom energy is much more stable compared to the energy that comes from say, coffee. Lion’s Mane natural is packed with antioxidants that help with cell growth and intra cellular energy exchange. It has also been shown to slow the buildup of lactic acid and can be used by athletes for performance.

#4- Keeps the brain Healthy

The reason Lions Mane keeps the brain healthy is because it has been proven to increase NGF (Nerve Growth Factor), which is just what the brain needs to save itself from damage. Lions Mane has also been shown to regenerate damaged brain cells which means its great for people with degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

#5- Supports gut and cardiovascular health

Like most fungus, Lions Mane has many antibacterial properties that will protect the stomach from different infections including; inflammatory bowel syndrome, Crones, and leaky gut.

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Lions Mane can be found outdoor in North America and Asia. Popular dishes involve cooking the fungus in butter. If you can not or do not wish to find wild Lions Mane then you can order some online as a dietary supplement.

Pedicabs, Psycho-spirituality, and The USA

Here is a blank canvass waiting to be filled

Here is unlimited potential ready to unfold

It is here that I draw my destiny with nothing but thought

It is here and it is now that I choose my ideal to discover the road ahead

Here on paper I have the power to pick any path and to pick any ideal. I will pick the best of all possible paths and the greatest possible ideal. Much of my path is already laid down on the calendar in my phone which is a project I have been working on diligently for the better part of the past two months and something I am insanely proud of. I have created something of a Rick and Morty’esque wonderland for me to run through this summer. It’s a major art, music, and travel tour of the west and on paper it looks like a 10/10 summer. It’s the details that are going to get me to the real good life however. Its in the micro events that I will not be able to write about that I will be able to grow the most from. The small moments that take place between two pairs of eyes that can never be predicted and never really make it to the page of a blog post. From where I sit now all I can do is put together ingredients by which the valued moments may manifest spontaneously. In the moment anything can happen and all I can do now pray for the courage to create what is meaningful.

Currently I am seated in the seat of an airplane headed to Louisville Kentucky where I have been invited to ride The Kentucky Derby. I do not know what to expect from this but I have heard of the money that can be made riding pedicabs there and by the time you factor in the spontaneous adventure element, I am already on the plane. The Derby is just the beginning and a great training ground for the type of life that is about to unfold. The charisma, the sale, the courage to go after these skills can all be found here. It’s going to be a wild week and then its going to be an even wilder summer.

I make plans a lot. Many of my plans I put down on paper. A majority of my plans do not come true, they are more just a thing that I do to keep myself busy. I like to plan. Perhaps I am finally getting good at planning thing because I feel like at some point I crossed a threshold where I seriously upped my ability to make things happen. Dream manifestation takes dedication, which is not a skill I necessarily had as much of when I was young. Maybe it was a deeper understanding of karma and an unwillingness to suffer that ultimately catalyzed into my current discipline. Whatever it was, I’m running with it.

I ran with it all the way to Kentucky and plan on making something like two racks over the next four days. This is the carnival pedicab world and that type of money is here and ready for the taking. It’s the work hard play hard kind of lifestyle and I will be doing both here in Kentucky. Monday I fly back to Seattle and then start my drive south to Vegas. It’s here that the “trip” begins. I plan on going as slow as possible so that I can see the coast. San Fransisco has such a draw and is something I am going to make time to let shape me before I head to the Electric Daisy Carnival in Vegas. I have been working up to this point in my life for a long time now. It’s what I was built for. Check out the Subi Shaman on YouTube and you will see the ideal that I am aiming for.

Last night a buddy of mine shaved my head and then sent me on my way. Its the first step in my transformation of much more to come. Between the present moment and the end of the summer, there is a long road of me picking up and getting rid of different skills and habits that will eventually make me into the greatest Urban shaman the world has ever seen. The goal is spiritual enlightenment on a world scale starting with the west coast. All of the money, beads, dream catchers, stylized fashioin, and mythic status to come from this will be profound.

I can see myself in public parks, on the beach, and in festival tents. I have the commanding presence of an urban mystic and I am the architect of the shamanic experience. Something of a Rasputin or a Kokopelli and even further, dare I say a Sitting Bull. All of these people are legendary figures of which to aspire to over the next couple of months. This is a life defining moment that I plan on shaping my character for the rest of the world to come. It’s going to be some of the last and greatest change to my character before I settle my mind for life.

This is an invitation to come along as I make the journey into the private world of urban shamanism. Even I don’t even know what I will be getting into but I now that it will be profound. I will use my writing as a method of self-examination and as a way to see the change that happens along the way. You can use my writing as inspiration and as a way to give me tips on what to do and we can become co-creators in this journey of a lifetime.

Next post on Monday summarizing my experience here at the Kentucky Derby. Tune in, turn on, check it out.

The Boring Details of Building an Excellent Life

It’s the spring is when man is at his most creative. My last post was written in the dead of winter and so much has happened since then. Last I wrote “The Charismatic Character” from inside a ski lodge surrounded by groups of skiers and snowboarders and many different screaming children and families. If I ever felt fatigued with my writing the slopes where only yards away. The last post was a fairly intensive research project and so having the ability to escape into a winter wonderland was a huge key as to why it turned out so well. It was shortly after publishing that post that I wrapped up my time on the mountain and descended back into city living. Still broke and still in my car but with a much richer and more meaningful life. The adventure spirit was catalyzed up on the mountain and I can now claim to have passed into the realm of true adventurers and day by day my thirst for the next journey only grows. There are so many things I need to do and so long as everything plays out according to plan. I will just barely scrape on through, making discipline and thriftiness of highest importance.

I got a boring 9-5 (actually 11-8) job that requires I show up to work on time everyday. As much as I hate showing up on someone else’s schedule, the job pays well. The sacrifice is something I can stand only because I know that it’s something I need to do for a short time before the fruits of my labor will come through. I can feel myself becoming frustrated at times and I wonder if it’s not because I have never really put in more than 20 hour a week at any one job before in my life, and then only for short sprints. I have always been more focused on creativity and my own ventures that I could never handle working for someone else’s dream. This week will be my 5th out of 8 total weeks that I plan on putting in at the company. At this point it feels like I am finding my flow and I expect my best performance to come in the following few days. Because of where I am financially, the work is necessary but all I want to do is create and this job is not the place for my creation, and so I look forward to the day where I can take my last paycheck and make my own way away from the company.

With all of the work I need some place to release all of my tense up energy. Dancing might be the thing to do and I should really find something like that for no reason other than release. At the moment I have not found anything that truly heals my soul. Instead I have taken my pain from the job and am using it for more work. On the weekends I pedicab which acts as my way to release and to grow in my social skills. Getting on a bike and yelling nonsense at drunk people has such a cathartic effect that by the end of a long night on a cab I can let out all of those witty and humorous things that I could never really tap into during the work week. Something about the combination of exercise and short funny interactions that gets the juices flowing. Its pedicabing that will do a majority of the legwork in shaping the events of the summer which brings me to my next point; the plan.

Last week I received my first paycheck from working a fulltime job. The first thing I spent my money on was a permit to ride pedicabs at the Electric Daisy Carnival in Vegas. For all of you who have not heard, EDC is one of the largest electronic dance festivals in the world. Today most people would call it a rave. (I say this having been to the old school raves from the 90s, where the people (true ravers) all scoff at the modern usage of the term, but such is the way of change.) EDC in Vegas is sure to be full of pink tutus, shirtless bros, all of the drugs, and a light and art show sure to blow the mind of even the most sober dancers in the crowd. I paid more than half a rack just to get the permit and will be paying almost three times as much to rent a bike. That puts me in at over 2k invested just to be able to ride. I have no doubt that it will be well worth the investment. Still, my work here in Portland comes down to the wire in putting together all the elements that will allow me to rage face with the ravers down in Vegas. There is a lot to do and only just enough time to do it.

Instead of going to the bars and drinking all the local beer this great city has to offer, I work on my discipline and putting together everything I need to put together in order to make my dreams come true. To be honest, I like the life of hard work more than the life of leisure and play. I was never really good at having so much free time anyways and so feel that this type of working intensity life will stay with me even after I leave this place. It’s the type of hard work that sinks in to my off the clock time and let me tell you, it feels so good to have the discipline to do the things I want to do. Right now I am reading three books, I have a meditation practice that has been going strong for over a month, I am actively producing creative works by the daily, and for the first time in years I am waking up before 7am on a consistent basis. I wish I had the funds to start yoga class but I bet I get a week in right before I leave.

Jesus said it best when he proclaimed that “to all that have, more will be given; and to all that have not, everything will be taken.” Upward spirals tend to continue upward, just as much as downward spirals tend to continue downward. Being human we are capable to seeing the consequences of our actions but changing our lives from negative to positive is something that often requires some sort of terrible inspiration to set one down a different path. We know the type of things that is required to change a life; be it the awesome or the awful, both can have a profound effect on the choices we make. Sometimes hitting rock bottom can be what it takes to make one feel that they can no longer keep living as they have. Other times it’s the realization of how great life can become. What’s important is to keep pushing the envelope of life and to keep taking risks. A life lived in the middle will produce mediocrity. A life lived on the edge will shape and define you into something smooth and refined.

Over the past few years I have made a life of traveling from place to place. As soon as I get comfortable I know that it’s time to move on to something new. It’s been hard living like this and now I yearn for order more than anything. From where I sit now I see the potential of building a business that spans all over the states. With the connects I have made and the skills I possess I feel more than capable of creating phenomenal income that would allow me to travel the country and create the order that I crave so much, but something about the chaos is calling and so I feel compelled to throw myself back into the unknown. It’s because I feel that I will come back stronger than ever with new skills that I have never dreamt of having; and so its with my favorite type of sadness that I turn my back on a business built in the USA and instead set my sights on a foreign land and all of the unknown that comes with living in a new country.

Thanks for reading. It’s my hope that you are able to get half as much from my writing as I do. Two minds are better than one and I would love to collaborate so drop a riff in the comments below and we can create something that will change our lives together. I currently reside in Portland and in a few weeks will be in Vegas. After Vegas I plan on traveling the country so if you reside in the United States then lets make plans to meet up.

Until next time.

-Chris

The Charismatic Character

The word charisma comes from the Greek word kharisma meaning “a gift of grace”. The word has defused greatly from its original meaning but still, there seems to be something enigmatic and divine about the energy that lights up and animates charismatic individuals. What gives people the permission to see the impossible in someone; such as in the case of Napoleon Bonaparte. What is it that inspires such devoted followers; such as in the case of Moses. Where does an ever-attractive calm contentedness come from; such as in the case of the Buddha. In this essay, we will examine a few examples of charismatic individuals hinging on the claim that charisma comes from the three characteristics of self-confidence, sense of purpose, and contentment.

First, charismatic individuals are known to have a deep sense of contentment that brings faith and comfort to all in their presence. This calm that accompanies such contentment builds trust in people that feel its warmth. People place great faith in content individuals and their ability to know the path of peace and are more likely to follow the more discontent their own lives have become. Contentment comes from an acceptance of how things are. As children, we grow up in a world of ideals. We are able to dance at any moment and can unabashedly go after the things we desire. As we grow old our world expands and we are often forced to deny ourselves some things in favor of others. The modern individual is confronted with ideals of consumerism and beauty that often conflict with our childhood passions leaving the individual wanting. It’s not wrong to desire a perfect body or an ideal lover. It’s when these desires prevent us from accepting things how they are and we begin to blind ourselves of the truth and is when our contentment becomes under siege. When you look at what consumerism desire from the individual, it’s no surprise that the modern human is massively growing in discontentedness. As reality becomes further removed from the technology-enhanced ideals, and as the fear of being left behind or left out invades the mind, the body can often lose touch with what is truly important.

It was said that “so extraordinary was the Buddha, so unnervingly kind and wise and so positive was an encounter with him, that it would change peoples lives forever”. In Buddhism, there is a practice known as unbiased attention (also known as formless meditation) which seeks to dispassionately see things as they are. This can be done by looking at a simple object like a chair or piece of fruit and refraining from making judgments about such objects. To refrain from judgment becomes more challenging when looking at more emotionally charged subjects like say, your relationship with your parents or your deeper desires and fears. To see things as they are is a practice that can build contentment and can be done simply by taking a seat, breathing deeply, and examining thoughts and sensations as they arise without passing judgment on them. To be alright with things as they are is natural when judgments are put to the side or eliminated and can be attained with this simple practice.

Second, sense of purpose is something that can mold our every action and every charismatic throughout history has had a fiercely strong sense of purpose. Our sense of purpose is something comes from deep within. It’s the thing that drives us towards a more meaningful existence. The reason why so many are attracted to religion is a good indication of how powerful the pull of purpose is in the life of a human being. In many different mystical tradition purpose develops into a divine state of flow where the self is annihilated and something greater is channeled through the individual. Wu-wei, higher-self, enlightened, self-actualization; all are examples of states that take hold and allow greater purpose speaks through the individual. For Moses, it was his communion with God that told him of a new world and drove his existence. It was said that his face was set aglow after he saw as much of the glory of the lord as the human eye could stand. As Moses so fervently believed his vision, so did his people. They were drawn in through the impact and promise of greatness which he, in turn, delivered to them.

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Direct communion with God is not something you can get like you would a loaf of bread at the store. For most of us, purpose is something that is built with clear vision and hard work. All it takes it that you define your goals and then start to work towards them. They could be anything. You just need to make sure that your heart is in alignment with your mind or your willpower will fade with time and effort. It’s better to be compelled into action rather than pulled.

Third and final, self-confidence is the final and most important pillar on which all charisma hinges. Fail to demonstrate self-confidence and you will be shown as the charlatan that you are. Unfortunately, this final step is the hardest to build. This is because confidence comes from competence which is based on your ability to succeed. To build competence requires that you get better at life which requires work, trial and error, and the ability to fail. You going to want to start testing yourself in order to see what you are capable of. Through tests, you come to know yourself and you can start to then build self-trust and form a clear understanding of what you can and cannot do. From here, you can start to build competence through success.

Napoleon Bonaparte was known for his brilliant military strategy which led him to victory after victory early in his career. His confidence must have felt something like invincibility as he was regularly able to beat the odds in even the most dubious situations. It was only through making the mistake of invading Russia that Napoleon prevented his own immortality. Shortly thereafter he was captured and imprisoned by the British only to escape to create a citizens army to retake the throne. Appearing before enemy guns pointed directly at his chest Napoleon declared “Here I am. Kill your Emperor, if you wish”, but the soldiers could not fire. Compelled by his audacity they cried out “Vive L’Empereur!” The confidence of Napoleon borders on deific. Most of us are not even presented with the opportunity of finding such competence in life; however, we can use his character as inspiration. His strict and efficient work habits, iron will, and insatiable ambition brought Napoleon to command such competence in life making almost nothing impossible for him. All of these characteristics we may wish to incorporate into ourselves if we desire such skill. While we may never be king of the world, we can be king of our own domain.

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In conclusion, we have laid out three traits of the charismatic character: contentedness, fierce sense of purpose, and self-confidence. Contentedness coming from one’s ability to accept things as they are. Sense of purpose coming from a well-articulated goal and made stronger through continuous action. Self-confidence coming from competence and is built on self-knowledge and success. Something like charisma is a forever task and by practicing these three traits anyone can build themselves into a more likable, more influential, better leader, and in the end, find more fulfillment in life. Life is short and there is much to be done. Peace out.

Ski Instructor Instruction

This coming weekend will be my fourth week as a ski instructor. I teach just outside of Seattle at a little place called Snoqualmie. If you around and need a lesson, ask for me and I would be happy to learn ya for a day or two. With just a few weeks under my belt, I can already say this is the best job I have ever had. I am moving up the ranks and have taught many solo lessons with clients that like and request what I bring to the table. By day I spend my time sharing my passion with receptive individuals. By night I learn from teachers that have been in the game for years. Here in this post, I will be going over a few things to know if you are looking to become a ski instructor. First, the physical and mental requirements of the job. Second, the learning path and a bit about the different types of lessons you will be going through. Third and last will be a bit about the culture of the mountain and how much of a good time there is to be had in the elevated chill.

First, to be a ski instructor you don’t need to be the greatest skier in the world. In fact, most professional coaches are not the best at what they coach. Generally speaking, the best coaches are people that had to struggle just to get decent at the sport. Through struggle, they were forced to pay close attention to how the learning process goes. For me, I learned how to ski at a young age and can’t actually remember learning the simple things like turning and stopping. When one of the most common questions is, “How do I turn?” it’s not the most helpful thing to say, “You just do it”. To be able to answer a question like this has forced me to rethink how I ski and by doing so has made me a better skier. So, while you don’t need to be the best skier in the world, you are going to need to know the basics that will allow you to properly demonstrate skills to your students.

The other thing that you need is that attitude of the teacher. Patients is the first thing that comes to mind as attributes that come in handy the most. Some student will understand the lesson on the first try and continue to grow exactly as instructed. Other students are going to struggle to a point where you may never be able to teach them how to ski. Patients with each person’s learning style is essential to delivering a message free of frustration. Other traits that help with the teaching style are an assertive character that can calmly articulate the theory behind each lesson so that people understand. The trick is to grab their attention so that they need not spend effort listening but can are pulled into each lesson to find understanding and in the end, performance.

Second, there are many things that you can do on skis, and many lessons to teach these many things. Generally speaking, I start each class out with an overlay on the basic of stance- Jump once and notice your posture when you land. Legs bent, torso leaning slightly forward, arms out at the ready. I might talk about ski technology and drop a bit of mountain slang on the quality of snow we are riding that day. (Sugapow is the best you can hope for up at Snoqualmie, which isn’t the greatest of rides for all you gapers that have stumbled on to this post) With skiers that have never been on skis before I first hike them up the bunny hill and tell each of them to send it. We then work it out from there. I find it best to push people into the deep end and catch them if they start to sink, but I am not working for myself and must constrain my lesions within the safety confines of corporate mountain culture. In my opinion, learning happens at the fringes where shit gets uncomfortable. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” so let’s learn the basics and then hit the most gnarly stuff we can find, but that’s just me.

Lastly, the people of the mountain are people that understand the nature of skiing. It’s a sport meant to push your limits and the people that get this are to most awesome of people. On one side of this ticket you get people that are passionate about the outdoors and often fall into the category of granola hippy. These are the people that wake up at four in the morning just so they are sure to get first tracks down the sickest line the mountain has to offer. On the other hand, you have the party people that stay up all night drinking but still manage to wake up by sunrise finding that fresh track through light pow is the best way to cure a hangover. All of these people come together and sit side by side on the lift to create something to be a part of.

This lifestyle is something that I would die for. It’s something that has brought so much good to my life and if you think you would find even a fraction of what I get from it then you might want to think about getting it. There are many other jobs that all play a role in shaping the mountain. From the humble lifty, the shredders in the ski shop, admin officials, ticket office girls, cafeteria party girls, to the elite ski patrol. There is a place for everyone that wants it and everyday people get it. Year by year fresh pow will fall, new limits will be pushed, and as the bullwheel turns, you know where I will be.

Until next,

-Chris

A Story of Coming Up

This is a story of coming from darkness into the light, which has been theme on this blog. At one level I wish I could stay in the good life and keep on building from there, but life is full of surprises and everyone is tossed from the saddle from time to time. The value that I hope to give people who read my blog is the moment of climbing back into the saddle. In these moments can we make that triumphant cry but only with bloodshot eyes that know there is a long road ahead and that this is only the first step of a long journey. Here is an invitation to come along for the ride on yet another first step.

The past few weeks of my life it’s been hard work just to stay afloat. Mostly adrift I have been looking for something to give greater purpose and ground me in the life of my dreams. There have been two types of people that I am working with along the way and they are the people that I know I should be around, and the people that my parents know I should not be around. When it comes to a supportive environment free of the bad kind of drugs and full of the right type of attitude, my friends are split. In my mind I know that I should be hanging out with the people that fit the mold, but for sometimes I feel more comfortable with the dirty kids. Maybe it’s some sort of superiority complex where I need to feel and act like a boss. Whatever the case my life is wild and I have been teetering on a line filled with all the good and all the bad I could ever imagine.

As I continue to get into more and more crazy experiences (see “Going into the unknown”) I start to think about grounding and the events that build character. Part of me wants to run away and go headlong back into travel, but deep down I feel that I need to build something of a community and stay in one place long enough to face my demons. I was hoping that this type of grounding and greater significance in life could be found through work. A job that I love doing and one that would allow me to attain my greater aspirations in life. At first I thought that job would come by selling cars and so I tried my hand. It was an emptiness in my stomach and a yearning for more that told me it was time to find something new. In the three weeks I worked at Subaru I sold three cars and so feel that I can say that I left not because I was a bad salesman but because I am bad at working with a team. One of my demons to be faced for sure.

Living in a car with a job can feel like a bird without a nest. Living in a car without a job can be like falling into a pit without bottom. I spent the few weeks after Subaru doing some of the worst activities. Eating cheap and unhealthy, surfing junk online at whatever library I found suitable for the day. There are a few positive things the be said about my decident path. First, my meditation has stayed with me through thick and thin. 20 min a day on the usual. These practices have been expanding into a domain I can only hint at here, on this webpage, and in this current reality, into something truly profound with a path of clear challenges to be overcome. Second, I always find time to hit the gym and work my body, and it shows if I do say so for myself! My reading has also stayed on point and I will be picking up a book called The Art of Seduction as soon as I am finished with this. On the same page as reading I will say that my curiosity with life has never come close to turning off. Constantly am I looking for new things to learn and this studious attitude towards life is taking me far. I really do love learning and what may be more, I love knowing, as little as that may be. As sick and as lonely as I can feel at times, I can always look back and say at least there was this.

Ok, now it’s time to tell you the kicker. The thing that I found that provides me with so much meaning and direction and purpose that it’s changing my life. It’s a job, the job I picked up after my job at Subaru, and it’s a job that takes me in quite the opposite direction. That job is a ski instructor at a mountain about and hour from the city of Seattle. My first day was just a week ago and it’s taken over my life by (snow) storm. On my first day the hill was so crowded and the demand for instructors was so high that my second lesson I worked solo with 12 fresh new skiers. With no training it was my responsibility to get these folks (mostly around the age of 28) from gaper level skiers to something that might be able to hit a chairlift. Dare I say that I am training future rippers capable of dreaming up their next runs in the nights before they hit the slopes. Unfortunately this is not the case for everyone.

Some of the best moments of my life have been had on the side of a snow covered mountain. Conveying this to people is the best part of my job, but the reality is that most people suck and take a learning class just so they can think that they are getting unusually good at technique when in actuality it’s almost entirely about the attitude. The attitude of pushing your limits is the thing that is going to get you super good at skiing. What I get paid to do is to hold gapers hands and tell them things that make them feel like they are getting some type of understanding. I try and enlighten people to the truth as much as I can, and the truth is that if you want to get good at something you need to keep pushing your comfort zone.

The people that go pro will go for years without lessons because they have the “can do” attitude and don’t need lessons. What anyone can do to get good fast is hit the bunny hill until they can make a turn left and make a turn right. After that has been accomplished they need to take the chair (even against better judgement) and then get something like 400 right turns and 400 left turns in. After that has been accomplished its time to take it to the gnarliest terrain possible and send it as hard as you can.So long as it doesn’t kill you, you are going to come out stronger. This is the point where something akin to the title of ripper can been attained. Here is when people are capable of loving the sport for the sport itself. But hey, that’s a tall mountain for anyone to climb and I don’t expect it of everyone.

I worked with a young boy about the age of 6 for my last lesson today. We started with boot work and then gradually moved up to walking on flat ground with skis attached. After that we worked on hiking up the mountain without sliding backwards and then bombing a short distance without falling. By the end of hour one he was making turns and even stopping mid run. When I told him that I thought he had a natural gift for this sport he shrugged and said he figured as much. After a day of teaching people, most of which will never find their passion, it felt like a gulp a hot cider after a long and cold walk through the rain to work with this kid. He had the attitude and thus had a future in the sport of skiing. I can’t wait to see him next week to we how much further we can get.

I have been saving the best until last and must say that the feeling I get from working with people that really learn comes in a close second but first the feeling I get from the woman of the mountain. Everyday I teach up to 40 different people how to ski. I am doing public speaking about something that I love and all day I get to dick off and hit on women in a sly and politically not appropriate manner. It’s clear when a girl is into me and it’s something that happens slightly less than once a class, making it something like 3 girls a day. At first I was taken in by my co-workers. The girl at the shop, the girl at the ticket counter, a fellow instructor; but as of now its all about the girls I teach. I am kickin it with one the day after tomorrow. We are meeting up near the ferry, next to the bay of the Puget Sound, downtown Seattle. I can’t think of a better place for a first time.

Life always feels better with greater meaning. Meaning may be very thing that makes life feel good. A job can be a great source of meaning and a great job will do exactly that. Money will always be a problem but now, at the end of the day, I enjoy the food more because my body is exhausted from a solid day of work. Now, leave work and feel like a made a difference in someone’s life. Now I can say I made a difference in my life. I feel good about my life and where I am going. Hope you’ll stick around to see how it goes because I will be sure to let you know. I will be here, writing, learning, living and loving. Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think. Best blessings and I hope that you too can find something that gives you meaning.