Life’s Illusions

Tears and Fears and Feeling Proud.

These past months, most of 2022 actually, have been a whirlwind of activity. Finally. Some light. I’ve not been writing because I’ve been surviving. The snippets below are simply things I jotted down during one sleepless night or another. But nothing coherent or worthy of note.

There is some repetition and past, future, and present meld together confusingly. 

So this is a catch-up post. But I will soon be back on track and endeavor to exercise my craft more regularly. 

Sitting outside, back at my country home (as opposed to my mountain home). Marti is terrorizing the neighbors. It must be fall because I am wearing two sweaters. A tight weave wool underlay and a Fishermans style I bought in Zurich in 1997 on a bicyle tour. More than a few people have suggested it is time to let it find a new home via Goodwill. But we are bonded forever and I will not. I may get buried in this sweater.

The times they are a’ changin. Black Dog Ridge is nearly done. By Thanksgiving the house will mostly be turned over to me. Only a fool would predict a new construction end date, but there it is. Written hard on the page.

I am in the process of divesting myself from Java-13, which will give me back some time. 

There are a lot of nuances in raising a dog. When Marti is out back with me and barking at nothing–just annoying the neighbors, I chastise. But when a trio of other dogs are also barking it seems heavy-handed. Sure I could hold her to a higher standard but she’s 7 months. A baby really. So I let her communicate with her brethen.

Two things I’ve learned over the 30 years I have been an entrepreneur. 1 – When I design a business from ground up, it’s super hard to take on partners who share the exact vision. They end up fucking the business up in one way or another by deviating from the spirit and passion of the original design. 2 – I am good at creating businesses, but it is not my desire or forte to run them. I hate being tied to the day-2-day. I like to be free to roam and ramble and running a retail business is like having one shoe nailed to the floor. 

Both of these characteristics have become clear in the past few weeks. So best to acknowledge that and enjoy the fact that our little town now has a kick-ass coffee shop—but I don’t have to be the one dealing with staff issues, product supply issues, Karen customers, and generally being there every morning.

So on to planning new and fun things to be doing. Brittany and I are going to the Columbus Coffee Festival next weekend. Then I will go to BDR to meet with Kenny and check progress. Carlita will come help Brittany and I design and decorate interior in mid-October. November Brittany and I will be in Cancun for a week. December, a long weekend in Chicago for Harry Potter. Then Tampa and San Antonio over the holidays.

I see a week in Somerset, a week in WV and in-between a few trips to Boston for work.

Movement. Life. 

Although somewhere in there I need to find time for a little cut and sew to repair a torn meniscus.

Some insomnia lately. When I can’t sleep but too tired to work or write or read, I just listen to music. Often on YouTube. My old staples mostly, Knopfler, Springsteen, Morrison, Prine, JJ Walker, Towns Van Zant, but also Joni Mitchell, Karen Carpenter, Steve Goodman and John Denver. The power of music. The awesome power. To transport us. To transform us. Can art be incidental to our time here? How can it not be proof that there is something beyond nothing. We don’t know if a life exists for us beyond this one, but perhaps art is the best proof we have. But who knows. Maybe it is all arbitrary and coincidental. 

I’m deeply immersed in the consequences of my decisions. Which is to mean, busier by far than I want to be. Every minute of every day is spoken for before I open my eyes. I don’t know if my addiction to motion and action makes me old or keeps me young. Sleep is once again elusive as my subconscious churns away at problem-solving in my conscious absence. But this week at least, getting up at 4:15 or so every morning was productive and helped me sort out some tough issues at my real job. 

September is pivotal. Work-work is full on and though I feel I have sketched out a recovery plan for the problem areas, the execution of those plans comes in the next few weeks. And Java-13. Very close now. Steven has been our savior and is carrying most of the water. He’s a work horse and is so closely aligned with me in approach and worldview I would think he was my son rather than my cousin’s son.

My first business was a coffeeshop and bookstore. 1992. A labor of love if ever there was one. Carla was the first employee I hired. She was a groovy, hippy, book-nerd who brought her significant knowledge of the book business (at 18 years old) to the College Market. Then came Johnny G, Little Laura, Maureen, Kelly, Deanna and a bunch more barista’s whom I can’t remember now. Peter Cook wrote me a custom POS program that is still better than just about anything on the market—I think I gave him a $400 gift card.

 Java-13 is likely to be my last business that I will design. It’s been a battle. It always is. No matter how hard you work. How much you plan. It’s always the case that on day 1 you are running around like a cracked up zombie—usually still painting and putting up shelves and finding spots to put everything.

Between the two coffee shops there was Kinport Junction, Senang, Sundance Consulting, Earth-Explore and Pyramid PgM. My little entrepreneurial portfolio. 

All of my businesses have been my own ideas and creation except for 1. And that one eventually bore my imprint deeply, but it also cost me dearly. In life force as well as real hard cash US dollars. The details are unimportant. Enough to know I made a great business. I have that.

There is the highway
And the homemade lovin’ kind
The highway’s mine
And us ramblers are getting the travelin done
You fathers build with stones
That stand and shine
Heaven’s where you find it
And you can’t
Take too much with you
But daddy, don’t you listen
It’s just this highway talkin’


I have finally found a place that equals western US in beauty and serenity. West Virginia remains wild. Remote. Mystical.  My neighbors are bricklayers, carpenters, farmers, craftsmen and laborers of all sorts. They don’t ski or ride mountain bikes. They are kind and thoughtful and neighborly. They make their living ostensibly with their hands but mental prowess is also critical to making ends meet.

Their appreciation of the land is deep rooted in survival and a connectedness that is different from people who move in for a view and proximity to a ski resort or mountain biking. Those things are available here for sure—but they are incidental. Not primary. My love of this land is growing by the day. It is preserved in a way that is hard to describe. The Greenbrier River remains undammed. It flows as it always has, for millions of years, through canyons slowly sculpted by its own hydraulics. It makes its way down state with natural barriers its only constraints.

Black Dog Ridge is more beautiful and peaceful than I dared to imagine. I am here nearly every weekend now. Soon it will be home. Kenny needs another 4 – 6 weeks to complete the interior. Maybe a bit more, but some of the final finishing work will happen over time. He will make a live edge bar from Cherry. Custom stair treads and banisters and rails. Some of these things take time because they are crafted lovingly from local materials by a man doing what he was born to do. And the price of time for these details is well spent.

Idaho, as much as I loved it, is taken over by wealth. Over-polished homes on 1/2 acre lots and a view of the Tetons. Not all of it, but mostly it seems. More Audi’s and Porsche’s than pick-up trucks these days. I do miss the Rockies of course—but I now have a viable alternative and closer to family. 

I wonder if lunatics know how crazy they are? Traveling seems to bring out the crazies. I think many have a combination of some sort of personality disorder combined with a shocking absence of self-awareness.

 Boarding the plane this morning. Early morning flight to BOS. This old lady, probably just 1 or 2 years younger than me, barged though the line for First Class and accosted the gate agent trying to start boarding. She started asking a bunch of crazy questions including ‘how big is my seat—if it’s too big it will hurt my back’. Interestingly, she was wearing a backpack the size of a Rottweiler. The sort of backpack a gap year student wears when trekking across Mongolia. But it’s the big seat that’s gonna rile up her bad back. 

The agent smartly let the lady pass through ahead of us. When she got on the plane she poked her head in the cockpit and asked ‘what time does the plane start descending’? The pilot, working through his pre-flight checklist looked up with the most bemused expression. He just stared at her for a few seconds before the stewardess smartly whisked her away telling her ‘we will descend about 20 minutes before we land’. ‘Yea, but I need to know what time’? ‘Where’s my seat’? ‘What time do we take off’? The questions faded slowly as she moved towards the back cabin. I gave thanks that I was sitting next to a reasonably normal 20 something hipster road warrior who would not be bothering anyone as he was buried in his video game.

On the return flight another odd encounter with another crazy woman. She was late to join the cattle call and was walking down the line asking “first class”? “Are you in first class”? She was desperately afraid that someone not in first class would board before her. When she got to me I replied “No, but I aspire to be”. She then started to get in front of me and I might have let it go. But instead I showed her my 1A seat assignment and she resumed her search for the last first class customer in line. Joyfully she sat right behind me so I got to hear her badger the flight attendant the entire time. 

It’s wild how many mentally ill people are wandering around this planet. Sorta sad I suppose but I don’t think most understand that they are crazy. 

The amazing genius of Oscar Wilde. I re-read ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’. Since I’ve had some sleeping issues, I’ve also plowed through ‘The Bomber Mafia’ by Malcom Gladwell and a long biography of Curtis LeMay. I had actually never heard of LeMay until I read Bomber Mafia. Interesting cat. Pretty good read. I am now reading Malcom X by Alex Haley. Terrific so far although I am just at the beginning. Carla and I raided Barnes and Noble at Easton and I picked up John Irving’s new book along with ‘Count of Monte Christo’ which I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read. So that will be remedied soon enough.

Fucking little league baseball. You know we are in a sports lull when they are showing little league baseball on the TV’s at Ocean Club. Brittany and I were forced to watch those little pissants run around trying their best to emulate their goofy-ass overpaid heroes in the big leagues. These kids were wearing wrap around sunglasses and chewing tootsie rolls 4 at a time and spitting the juice like chewing tobacco. Throwing tantrums.  The coverage have slo-mo replays and umpire challenges. WTF? Really?  When I was playing we got a free soda if we won and a group picture at the end of the year. 

This is the culmination of our progress as a civilized species. Arrogant little pricks playing a game and broadcasting it to the world.

In other news, Mondesa Youth Opportunities now has an alumni who is officially a Rhodes Scholar. Brittany donated $750 to MYO for new drums for our music program and next year we will celebrate our 20-year anniversary. Java-13 coffee and gelato shop is going well. Even though I am stepping away, I am proud of the foundational model. 

Marti the dog is growing up; she now identifies as a Jungle Fox. Work remains very busy but mostly tolerable at the moment. Which is the most we can ask for from a paid labor position.

Carla visited from Idaho for a too short week. Terri joined us for a quick trip to BDR. Fun was had by all. 

Please forgive the tense misplacement, random photos, generally disorganized post. I will endeavor to improve.

Humbly Submitted

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