New Pilgrim Chronicles:
One man's story of the trials and rewards of moving to Free State
Week Ten: Making Progress on All Fronts
by Brian Wright (copyright 2005)
Well, most fronts. The job search and the relationship angle seem to be coming together quite nicely at last! That's the important thing, isn't it? You need to have a base of operations before you can operate much. On the liberty-work angle, I wasn't as engaged; but I did finally go to the "Atheist Dogooder" topic in the Religion and Liberty forum and put in my two cents with Rocketman and the others.
So you can say I got down with the real people a little bit.
It's time to get the auto insurance taken care of.
Free State has a rule that if your car has a lien, you have to be covered with appropriate liability insurance. But it isn't something they ticket you for, and the auto registration and drivers' licensing process avoids the bureaucracy of mandating it (which I believe is unique in the US). If you are uninsured, your car has a lien, and you incur liability from an accident, that's when the lienholder can take you to the cleaners. But the state leaves you alone.
My new insurance guy, Bob Hayden in Goffstown, tells me in some states, such as Vermont, you have to have proof of insurance regardless of the state you're licensed in. Which sounds a bit statist, doesn't it? You think the Supremes will ever get a case that challenges the Vermont traffic-enforcement Gestapo; if they do, do you think the Supremes will issue an injunction to stop this aberrant, antisocial behavior from an adjacent dictatorship? Nah!
Anyway, my insurance, same coverage as back in Michigan, goes from ~$150 per month to ~$75 per month. So hmmm, let's see, which system do you think the average motorist prefers? I don't know how much of the savings is due to not making insurance compulsory. Way cool, I finally get it out of the way. And meet people, too. I mention to Bob that I'm a libertarian and that's why I'm asking all these questions about how we do things here.
He says a libertarian is going to like the system here a lot better than most states. We keep up the chitchat, and I mention I'm looking for work as a writer and heading over to Peterborough, because I've heard that's where the literary types hang out. I even tell him, "When I finally get established, I plan to buy a plot and put an earth-sheltered dwelling on it." Well, guess what? Bob has an earth-sheltered home! I think he'll let me borrow the plans.
Also, he shares with me that it's better to live on an unpaved roadI believe he called it Class 6since it legally limits development more than if you live on a paved road. "Okay thanks," I say, "I'll definitely keep that in mind."
Next day, I do run into a NH dipwad at the Kinko's in Bedford. Let's just call him Chad. I'm calling to have business cards made for my trip to Peterborough, and I want to send my file via email in PDF (portable document format) and work with a project manager to get the job done. Wrong! Must use the Kinko's website. Well, the website isn't working, and it isn't me. Chad insists it's my problem, but he'll take the job via email this one time.
He has this New England accent, and this attitude like "let's see how I can make it difficult for ol' Brian to do business with us." His negative persona doesn't jibe with my impression of most New Hampshire people, so Chad must be a Massachusetts import. And to top it all off, Kinko's does a ratty-ass job on the cards.
Odds and ends Monday and Tuesday:
Starting to get some calls for legitimate contract work, e.g. techwriting for an insurance operation in Portsmouth.
Run into the neighbor lady, Crystal, at this new wellness center in New Boston; this is a good-looking facilityand so is the wellness center and it's close. I might consider at least a Pilates class. Hours though don't include Sunday, and for the time being I'm keeping the Y membership.
The NFL channel has a special about Brett Favre (Green Bay Packers quarterback). Then on Monday Night Football, Brett makes an heroic effort against the Carolina Panthers, with four touchdown passes, but comes up short of victory.
Tuesday I'm working the book, doing a freelance piece, sending out resumes, organizing the paperwork. Lawnmower Manthis is my other nickname for Cap'n Jack, who spends every available hour trying to mow the jungle growth on the lawn with what looks like a toy lawnmoweris off to fly the frenzied skies.
I finally receive a reply from one of the legislative officials to whom I sent letters regarding the depleted-uranium poisoning issue. Senator Judd Gregg is so kind to confirm H.R. 202 is going through the House, and if it gets to the Senate for debate, "I will keep your thoughts in mind." I guess this means he doesn't regard DU as a humanitarian emergency.
On Wednesday, I travel 25 minutes and 17.5 miles to Peterborough, an artistic Mecca of New Hampshire. The purpose of my walkaround is to meet potential clients or employers, and to distribute my resume and business cards. It's a lot of walking, I have a DeLorme city map, my Daytimer, 20 business cards, 20 resumes, my tape recorder, my digital camera, and my cell phone (mobile-phone reception via Verizon isn't any better here than in New Boston).
Peterborough, set around the intersection of the Contoocook and Nubanusit Rivers, has a long, vibrant history. During the Civil War era, it was receptive to abolitionist activists such as Frederick Douglas, and served as a depot on the Underground Railroad. In 1907, the MacDowell Writers' Colony was founded; artistic/cultural connections exist between Peterborough and Boston/New York. Thornton Wilder wrote Our Town during his stay at MacDowell. In 1938, the Great New England Hurricane caused serious flood damage to the region. Several preventive damns and waterways have been built since.
During the walkaround, I find myself close to the galleries, boutiques, and bookstores that give the little downtown such charm. Here are a few photos:
The famous Toadstool Bookstore where well-known authors have booksignings.
The relative price of biodiesel fuel from a pump
only half a block from the Toadstool.
A colorful car eloquently extolling the virtues of Hemp Planet (which can be a great source of biodiesel).
Through the decades, two newspapers have coexisted in the town: the Peterborough Transcript and the Monadnock Ledger. Considering the small population, it's rather amazing both could be supported all that time. I leave a resume and business card with each; I wouldn't be surprised when this whole Free State job search is said and done, some kind of journalism is where I find myself. The day is warm, though beauteous. I'm done with work. It's Miller Time; I've seen my landing zone in the form of a quaint little pub named Harlow's.
The Smutty Nose India Pale Ale (IPA) is cool and refreshing. I strike up a conversation with a young man who's arrived on my left. His name is Mike. Interesting guy, drives a Zamboni, you know one of those hockey-rink ice smoothers. Loves it. He says he's also working on a historical novel about someplace along the Canadian border. His brother, who goes with him on epic bicycle trips, is the chief of police in Temple/Greenville, so I chalk that up in my noggin to namedrop in case I ever get pulled over.
Mike claims that contrary to my experience of not feeling any oppressive police presence in the Free Statenaturally I explain to him all about the FSPNew Hampshire has more police per capita than any other state. I check out his claim of NH police per capita on the Web as I write this piece, and he has to be thinking about some other statistic. New Hampshire has 1.6 police officers per 1,000 population vs. an average of 2.3 across the United States.
However I do see two signs today that suggest some unnecessary intrusion of the police power:
One of them is a "Drug-Free School Zone" sign noted on my walkaroundtwo things make such signs ludicrous: 1) the mindless hysteria of the war on "drugs" doesn't suggest what drugs the zone is supposed to be free of, e.g. caffeine, aspirin (!?), and 2) does anyone truly believe a sign against something prevents it. How about we put up a sign "Stupidity-Free Zone" to improve children's scholastic performance?
The second sign is in the bar. I regard it as rather obnoxious: "We confiscate all false identification and report all illegal activities to the authorities." This apparently means if you fill out a football betting card, the bartender circulating the card will rat you out to the gendarmes. Again, I don't see much chance of that. As for underage drinking, just don't serve anyone drinks if they are obviously not mature enough to handle them. Self responsibility works much better to keep people sane and civil than criminalization of consensual acts.
All right, enough of the soapbox. Mike moves on and a very nice-looking woman considerably south of my age bracket sits a couple of seats down on my right. Emily is her name, and I'm on my third IPA so naturally she's becomes enthralled with my smooth, debonair mannerI pretty much let people know right out of the chute about the freedom thing in New Hampshire.
Well, it works! She actually moves without me asking her to sit directly beside me, and we conduct scintillating repartee for another slowly sipped beer. What I like about Emily is she's really into reading books. Well, that and some other things. Peterborough in general seems full of eye candy. I'll get a job, and in the immortal words of Governor Arnold, "I'll be back."
On Friday, there's a lot of encouragement on the job front. I interview with the president and owner of a small software firm about seven miles down the road in Amherst the idea being to do technical and company-image writing. Also, a repeat of a former contract opportunity in Waltham, Mass., pops up; this time the recruiter seems truly eager to get me under contract. I get some help from my ex and from a writer colleague back in Michigan to handle the prejob dance sequence at the software company with a modicum of sophistication."Remember, Silly, 'Don't try to do everything at once, and don't try to do anything all by yourself.'" People love to help you if you ask them. Major lesson. Applies to the Free State Project as well.
Cap'n Jack, as I think I mentioned, is a former chef. He likes to have people over, so it's very special getting all this wonderful food and terrific company, mostly of the young professional variety. Fertile soil for "just folks," "Freedom to the People" seeds of thought.
I communicated to a couple of my FS intellectual comrades that I'm increasingly getting a vision these days. Specifically, within the next two years, i.e. before 2008, I see Mary Ruwart and her Healing Our World book (and possibly even me and my own little novelette in progress) being household names. Certainly, Jason, Amanda and the Free State Project will be common knowledge.
The end of the national-security state and toxic war-criminal government is just around the corner, not to mention the irrational superstitious and terrorist movements that contribute to them.
Disclaimer: The forgoing is only my humble opinion and does not reflect any official thinking or position of the FSP.
Well, I have two more chronicles to go. Let's hope the series leaves the gentle reader with a conclusive and helpful understanding of the FSP "early mover on the street," or late mover for that matter. You should be aware of several of the practical issues you'll face, as well as the opportunities and pleasures of being here, from a commoner's perspective.
(to be continued)