I read a nice article in Orion magazine today. It was written by a man who got an internship with The Nation in college with the expectation that he would work his way from internship up the ladder to success. Instead he quit the internship to ride a unicycle across the country. Since then he never quite got on the career track and lives somewhere in Kentucky off the grid with a solar oven.
I keep asking the universe to send me an answer to my "what next" question. The question the PCT never answered. The question I can't seem to answer now as I vacillate between wanting to hike the PCT again and wanting to be successful in the work world and then feeling terrible because the only success I'm likely to ever have is on the PCT, making me a failure when measured against all the successful people living their orderly lives, making money, saving for retirement, having health insurance and babies. I really don't want that, but I don't know how else to survive, and I've spent my whole life believing in careerism, believing it is the right way to be, the proper way to live life, the definition of success. I can't shake that belief even though I can't live up to it either.
I really have to face facts that I'm worse than a nerd. I'm a total misfit. I'm babyless and always will be. I'm houseless and always will be. I'm careerless and probably always will be. My car never starts because I don't drive. I ride a bike and motorcycle. I have never worn make-up and never will. I'm getting old and wrinkly and can't hide behind youth anymore. I own parrots instead of dogs and cats. I like being alone better than being with people. I'm a weirdo. In the author's words from the article above, I'm loopy.
Instead of getting excited about careerism, which I seem incapable of doing, I had ths idea the other day to do the PCT again, but start from Santa Barbara instead of Campo. There ought to be a way to hike to the PCT from Santa Barbara. I took the following picture from the trail a day out from Casa De Luna. The picture is so hazy as to barely show anything. I took it because the scenery looked familiar, as if I were looking into my own backcountry from the PCT. That is why I think there might be a way to get there.
I really don't feel called to go back and fill in the little gaps of places I skipped in southern California. I feel more drawn now to just being part of the trail again. Making my own hike out of it. It's about the life of the trail and not just the miles for me. I kind of wonder if I could bring my bird, Fergie, with me. Here's a picture of me and Fergie on a hike in Goleta:
This time on the PCT, being that I have less money and less a sense that I can just drop right back in to the high-payed corporate world again, I would want to do the PCT without stopping overnight in towns, unless I can do so for free. No hotels. Super frugal. And super solo because I'd be doing my own hike by starting in Santa Barbara.
I have TOPO!, which is a computer topo map software from National Geographic. Unfortunately it makes me have to keep putting in different CDs all the time so it is extremely difficult to figure out how to get to the PCT from Santa Barbara using this software. I wonder if they still make good, old-fashioned maps that I can look at.
Here's my attempt to create a route. Zoomed in I was able to draw the red line on trails most of the time. Sometimes on roads. Sometimes I wasn't sure what I was drawing the line on. Since this is so close to my backcountry, I have no idea if the trails are even hikeable.
My mother emailed me and asked if I would like to stay at her house this summer and do trail angeling. That is another option, if I don't hike the PCT and don't have a good job. I could do some web design while staying there. But I'd really rather hike. I suppose I could camp on the trail instead of stay in the house all the time and then feel sort of like I'm on the trail again. Or do some angeling during July and hit the trail in Dunsmuir at the end of July and pick up where I left off.
Oh there I go again. Fantasizing about the trail instead of getting my butt back into real life again. It's probably silly to think of hiking from Santa Barbara. There may be a huge desert without water in my way. But it's fun to think about it.
I applied to City College so that I can take a class. I want to take a database class to improve/develop skills in that area. I still need to work even if I have become a drop-out loser these days. Perhaps having database skills can get me better temp and freelance jobs and allow me to keep my freedom to return to the trail again while allowing me to earn enough money to get by.
Another crazy little thing in the back of my head is Mendocino. I drove through there once and liked the area. Lots of weirdos like me live there. Maybe I should go and join them. I think Tony resents me and my drop-out lifestyle. Maybe he'd be happy if I wasn't here to be a drag on his life anymore. I can't make him join me hiking anymore. And it's bad I have depended on him lately. I don't blame him for resenting me, if he does.
Well, that was rambling. Sorry about that. I just want an answer to what I should do with my life, and I'm afraid I'm not satisfied with the answer I keep getting: just be the weirdo I'm drawn to be and let the career issue work itself out. It's so nebulous that way.