the (often) meandering travels of a student anthropologist
Field Notes: September 26th, 2017 - Asheville, NC
More expenses, continued doubts, opening up about my fears and the situation I am putting myself in - what a financial risk this is (at my age). It is hard to read, and make public. I have always been a private person, especially when it comes to admitting I don't have it all figured out. But every woman who takes up this lifestyle has to come to terms with her own obstacles and this is a small window into the insecurities and risks that must be undertaken, albeit each woman is unique.
Come So Far, But Haven’t Even Started
This past week has been a study in being pulled in different directions - I’ve continued to [research] Youtube vlogs and finding/noting nuggets that relate to nomadism as a culture. For example, ideas from Jill Elizabeth include being empowered, needing social skills in order to create community in a nomadic lifestyle, needing to be a problem solver, the enormous amount of time spent just taking care of the basics (food, water, electric, toiletry, shelter, and identifying good and bad snakes and killing the latter), the relationship between nomads and small towns…Debra Dickinson’s discussion about how in van dwelling she only feels homeless in an urban environment...Carolyn’s RV Life about introversion/loneliness and how she finds both friends and community online, and more about the necessity of moving with the seasons.
I’ve been working with Dr. Tomberlin with my new wide angle lens - struggling with focusing a manual lens. It’s already a challenge and my eyesight needs correcting again. Much of it is going to involve mastering what is quite a bit of complexity on my camera.
Then I’m trying to plan what I need - what to pack (in very limited space). I’m “behind” in terms of being able to boondock - to live off grid. I still haven’t purchased / installed my full power or internet solutions.
And, then, there is Juno. She went for the final mechanic trip (I thought) to get the rear main oil seal replaced. Major expense - $1000. But while under there the mechanic says my ball joints need replacing - another similar repair in terms of cost. That means digging out another credit card.
So tonight - I’m having a moment of major doubt. What am I doing? Going into mounting debt for what? $20,000 in student loans and $5000 on a credit card. Easily by end of next spring that might be $35,000. An undergraduate thesis that does what good for a 51 year old? I have no plan where to go from here. I should be out looking for a job.
I had thought to start this blog/youtube and maybe make money picking up followers/patreons, but I’m recognizing I may not have the stomach for it. Too much exposure, too many trolls.
I keep saying I’m opening a door to see what will happen but I don’t know. This is a huge risk and I seriously have NO PLAN. Just following a dream.
So, there. That is me putting out all my fears, anxieties and wobbliness.
However, I have to remember over the past few years I’ve gone back to school, conquered terrible anxiety to do so, and am learning so many skills fixing up an RV. I’ve discovered I enjoy photography and writing and with practice I can probably be decent at it. [...] I’ve made new friends and am learning new coping techniques for this change in our culture I did not see coming. Ha, and this “coming of an age” I did not see coming either. There has to be a reason for all this - there has to be something in exchange for this risk. I’m not just aimlessly wandering am I? I’m reaching for a goal, I’ve put all this into motion for a purpose.
On the bright side, when I’m out there (interviewing other women and observing), I’m going to better understand what it took for them to make the decision to get on the road. I’m not going out there without anxiety, fear, or importantly, without a sense of seeking - which I think all these women have to one degree or another. If I wasn’t feeling like this I couldn’t be as empathetic. Sure many are in different financial circumstances (have social security, pension or disability) but they are still taking risks that put them living on an edge. I wonder how much of an edge I am going to find these women on, and how they are coping? Thriving? What truths are they discovering?
I’ve committed to this course of action and after serious thinking it through, this is still the best option for me. I think the delays and unanticipated costs have me freaked out as I am also behind in actual academic research and starting my blog. This really is all expected and nothing out of the realm of what I anticipated. Unexpected repairs, facing fears, delays (part of being a nomad/traveling is letting go - you can’t be in control, going with the flow) and questioning myself. This is part of throwing oneself into “the unknown”. I have prepared as best I can.
These field notes, while essentially raw, are an edited version. While I have tried to leave them intact in order to offer my project visitors an authentic peek into the process of creating an ethnography, as well as my own emotions concurrent with the experience, at times I have needed to remove or modify information to protect my relationships, or my informant's privacy. Grammar and spelling is only modified when necessary for readability, I've designated omissions with [...], and sometimes will add hover notes for clarification. Please see methodology for more information.