I haven’t looked at this site in almost two years. I haven’t written in it in almost three. So it’s time for an update.
Our landlord in Tennessee wouldn’t sell us the dome house for anything less than an exorbitant amount. Meanwhile, come Summer, we found out that snakes like to breed under the house and then start pouring out of the walls. So Manny and I ended up moving to another house closer to work in North Carolina.
Over the next year, we made great friends and Manny grew as a person and was able to expand herself and her horizons. She became more beautiful every day.
I, however, became wrapped up in my failure from the dome house- not because it was that much of a failure on my part, but because I lost a future I had so desperately come to want. The year passed by- I spent all of it at work, stressed, drunk, or sleeping. For a lot of reasons, it could have been a good year, but for me, it just wasn’t.
Except for our Tuesday night dinner parties. Those I will always remember fondly. They solidified some lasting friendships and were a time to be creative and social and have fun. But apart from Tuesday nights, I languished. I hated my job, and I spent so much time at it that I couldn’t enjoy the beauty of the area I lived in. Eventually, I couldn’t enjoy much of anything. When the year passed, we moved back to Florida and split up.
The year following, my head-space was akin to a drowning man who was drowning only because he was unmotivated to surface. My failures had piled onto each other in my mind- I had lost my dream-future, I was separated from most of my friends by either time or distance, and I had lost my partner, whom I care for deeply. I threw myself again into work at a new job. My off time was spent trying to stay as far from sobriety and my own thoughts as possible.
But gradually, the time I did get with my thoughts healed me. Self-evaluation led me to recognize that the weight of failure I had put on myself was largely unfounded. The dome property didn’t work out, but I tried everything I could. The relationship would have ended anyway, and I was able to eventually salvage a new friendship with Manny once I got my head out of my ass.
I started to take care of myself. Looking back, a large part of my depression probably stemmed from malnutrition- while I was getting plenty of calories (I gained 40 pounds in 2 years), working as a GM in a fast-food restaurant 60-plus hours a week had probably left me very deficient in key nutrients. I never had the energy to workout, or really do anything else, during my time in North Carolina.
Some new friendships (and old ones reopened) really helped me get back on my feet, mentally. I never lost the ability to take care of myself physically, but I owe a lot of the progress in my mental recovery to some friends that really let me see the good in life again.
I began to think in terms of making things better for myself, my friends, and my community again. I started forming a new plan. There was a reason I left St. Pete, FL in the first place. I wanted to travel away from home, to write, and to do something great. I got a gym membership, and started cutting down on cigarettes and drinking. I also started fleshing out a plan- a plan called Lieutenant Planet.
I wanted to get back to nature, like my life in Tennessee. I wanted to travel and write. I wanted to benefit my community. I put all that together and founded an initiative- A traveling environmental journalism/activism initiative. I put my notice in at work 4 months ahead of time, and I started researching, building a site, building a social media base, and telling people about the project. A lot of friends thought it sounded awesome, but a lot of them, I could tell, didn’t think I would actually do it.
January 1st, 2019 – I left. I toured Florida, writing about environmental issues around the state. I got the Ocala National Forest roadways cleaned up. I made a lot of connections in the environmental protection scene in Florida. Now I’m in Louisiana, doing the same thing. I’m living in my van, doing research, writing, and visiting environmental problem areas. I have a website for the serious stuff at lieutenantplanet.com.
I also have a more fun subscription site that houses an ongoing video series of my travels and reports, at patreon.com/lieutenantplanet. And I’m slowly starting to build an income through independent environmental journalism and activism. I’m 6 weeks in, and I have quit smoking, I drink only on occasion, and I am now a vegetarian.
At 31 years old, I sold almost everything I owned, quit my job, moved into a van, and started doing something good. I dragged myself out of my own depths to do it, and I couldn’t be happier.
I will be keeping this site to use as a personal blog space to remind me of how I turned it all around. I’m also interested in keeping the idea of the Ponderer’s Society alive, but right now I am focused on building a community of Planeteers, and saving the world.