Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Welcome to SF

by Skald

Jet lagged, tinged with lysergic acid,.... stumbling through the Mission District. Dodging drunks and junkies till we reach Delirium... right through the rabbit hole. I sit in rapturous stupor-- perma-grin. A wild Asian girl flirts with me, motions me to dance, tells me Im old, scoffs at me, then flirts again.... I remain silent, motionless, and bewildered throughout the drama.

As we leave, this same girl and her friend get in a hair-pullling, fist-swinging fight with another girl outside the bar. Guys come to the entrance and laugh... egg them on. One yells, "I love this bar".

I dont. The attitude, cockiness, poverty, and violence are too much for me right now.. just off the plane from Asia. I miss the gentler streets of Bangkok & Osaka. I miss the gentler people.

Other than the obscene fatness of folks, what strikes me first about America is the anger and violence. Everyone seems annoyed or pissed off. Theres a kind of strutting attitude. Its there in the self-righteous liberal cyclists... who scream at any car that dares "cut them off". Its there in the aggresive panhandlers... who mumble insults at those who dont give them money.

What is the source of this anger? Materially, these people have far more than the Thais... even more than the Japanese. But maybe thats the point. Americans have invested their lives in THINGS. Not people. Not each other.

Another immediate impression was how lonely and desolate America feels. This is a major US city, but it feels empty to me. There are hardly any people walking on the street. Everyone is sealed up in their cars.. safe from everyone else. Bangkok's streets are full of people. So too Osaka's. And even Hiroshima's. My little Bangkok neighborhood, late at night, had more people walking around than does my friend's SF neighborhood... at peak daytime.

Where are all the people? Why are they so spread out? Why do they hide in their homes and cars?

At first impression, America seems a ghostly place. Spread out. Mechanized. Lonely.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Starting Over

by Skald

One thing about the Hobopoet life.. its rarely dull. Not much routine. These last two years are the closest Ive come to "stability" in quite a while... but they too have been marked by constant change.

And now another big one is on the horizon. While my external circumstances are definitely changing... the biggest near-future challenge for me is an internal one.

Up till now, Ive devoted my energies to escape. Ive successfully escaped full time wage slavery. Ive learned to live simply. Ive DRASTICALLY reduced the need to work... while drastically improving the freedom to work ratio. As a result, each year has been more enjoyable. Im more enthusiastic and energetic than Ive ever been. In short, Im having a great time.

But there's been something missing. Up till now, Ive needed to focus on resistence and escape. But that phase is closing. Ive been successful.... there's no use beating that horse forever.

Now that Ive destroyed the old wage slave life, I can move on to creating something. It is time to create an independent freelance income. It is time to become truly self-reliant. It is time to completely break free from bosses in all their forms.

When I first broke from all semblance of living a "mainstream" life, I was terrified. I admit it. Just prior to my first experience at car living.. I was nervous, afraid, stressed, worried. A million bogie-men filled my thoughts. I imagined failure and humiliation. I imagined misery. I knew I would become undatable and doomed to loneliness. I admire people who face such challenges with bravado and audacity. But Im not one of them. My bravado comes after the fact!

And so, as I face this next big challenge, I am again terrified. I again imagine horrible failure and humiliation. I doubt my ability to earn a freelance income. I worry that I will be hungry. I worry that Ill be forced into fulltime wage slavery and have to eat all my words here on Hobopoet. I can already hear the critics and devil's advocates saying, "I told you so".

Luckily, Ive been here before. At the beginning of an enterprise, I lack bravado and I lack courage. I lack confidence.

But I do have one ally that has continuously seen me through--

Stubborn persistence.

Lacking brains, guts, and talent... I know I can always depend on persistence to push me through the doubts.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

No Shore

by Skald

Listen to: The Audio

No shore, no arrival. They spend there lives working, to buy things,
to fill in the space.
No arrival. Isnt Rollins right. Isnt that much of our problem.. we keep imagining that we will "arrive". We will arrive at success. We will arrive at "the answer". We will arrive at love... or greatness.. or happiness... or contentment.

But we won't. There is no arrival point. As soon as you "get there" you are already moving on. Every experienced traveler knows this... there's no stopping point. If the mystics, psychedelic freaks, out-there physicists, and other crazies are right... death is not even an arrival point.

"Going from, towards"
Thats how Thoreau described life. Always and ever moving on. Always and ever traveling. Much of the misery we see around us is caused by resistence to this truth. So many people desperately trying to arrive. So many trying to cling to surety and "security".

In the name of security, they squander their vitality. They close their eyes to their own glorious visions... and they abandon their deepest desires and dreams. They live half-lives.

They imagine that they are secure because they have job-security, a good retirement plan, a paid off mortgage.

Of course they are delusional. They are one accident away from crisis. One layoff. One health crisis. One uncontrollable change.

They will not escape these things. In trying to, they only escape their lives, their dreams,... the mystery and euphoria of chaos, change, growth, challenge, engagement.

Rollins is right, there is no shore.

But there IS a magnificent, glorious, beautiful, terrifying, never-ending dance.........

Join it.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Freelance Chronicles

by Skald

Im going for it. I am finally going to build a 100% freelance income. No more wage slavery and no more bosses. Enough bitching about the problem, time to work on the solution.

Over the next few months/years I will chronicle my efforts. The failures. The inevitable difficulties and frustrations. The tactics. The strategies.

I hope to be as specific as possible about my efforts to build an independent income and live an independent life. Thus far, Ive focused on the simplicity side of the equation.. reducing needs.

But Ive taken that as far as I wish to go... Ive found my "enough" level. Its a level that still demands some income. So my efforts now will be on getting that income as a freelancer.

The rough plan:

Freelance Teaching: Long term.. I hope to build a sustainable living income from teaching English to foreigners and immigrants. To maintain and promote my nomadic lifestyle, I plan to build much of this through distance learning.... using the internet, Skype conferences, and other tools to serve students all over the world.

My aim is to build a group of international students... and connect with them from anywhere in the world via high-speed internet. Thus, if I want to move to South America... I just go, get a high speed hookup, and continue as normal.

This will take time to build. Ill chronicle my efforts here. In addition to distance students, I will recruit independent students in whatever city I happen to be living in.

Freelance Teaching Strategy: For Hobopoets, traditional "business" strategies dont make sense. We dont have the cash for mega investment. No one wants to loan us money. We can't afford advertising.

We must be bootstrappers with a capital "B". We must start with absolutely nothing (sometimes this means starting without even a home).

So forget retail shops. Forget restaurants or traditional schools or anything that requires a building with a lease and rent. Forget anything that requires lots of upfront money (and for us, "lots" aint much).

Forget anything with large startup costs. Forget anything that depends on selling large volumes of "stuff".

The Hobopoet way is not BIG... its small. Micro. TINY.

I will focus my teaching efforts on a tiny micro niche (net-savvy subversives and misfits who want to learn English.. people who hate traditional education) These are the folks that traditional schools label "strange", "loners", "difficult", "contrary", "troublemakers", "don't fit in".

I will focus solely on customized courses for these people. That is, I will create a course for each individual student or semi-private group (4 students max). I will not have classrooms... I will teach via the net... or in cafes.. or in homes (ideally over a cup of coffe or a beer).

I have no need to compete with mega schools or programs... By offering hyper-customized courses... by being human, personal, and real... by using methods completely at odds with traditional education... by seeking the students they fear... and by having low financial needs... I eliminate the ability of these schools to compete with me. Indeed, they have no need or desire to do so.

I aim to serve what my friend Shiori calls "Blue Ogres"... the weird, the independent, the deviants, the creative, the odd, the sensitive (ie. people like me).

I aim only to provide remarkable courses to remarkable people.

Ill leave mediocre students to the mediocre schools.

Thats the freelance teaching strategy in a nutshell.

The first trick, of course, is finding these students. The second trick is attracting a few to give me a try. The third is to kick ass and win them over.

Meanwhile, I have to eat. So in addition to this noble sounding plan... I will be bartering, finding odd jobs, taking Part time work, donating sperm :), writing freelance articles... and scrounging income any way I can.

To be continued......