Sacked by the "downturn", an unemployed architect touring the country in a bus...

I used to live in New York City. I designed homes for the tycoons of Wall Street; Park Avenue, Scarsdale, Greenwich. It was great fun. And, after years of saving up for a down payment, I was just about to buy my own little place in Fleetwood, half an hour north of the city, when the economy fell apart. Architects are like canaries in a coal mine when the economy slows, and true to form, there were massive layoffs in firms all over the country. Devastation of the profession. So, I decided to try to find something else to do for a while. I bought a 23' school bus and I'm on the road to see if I can figure out what that might be.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Best thing that's happened in years

I keep telling people, this is the best thing that's happened to me in years. Of course, I'm depressed and worried about my future, but aside from that, I'm in a great mood most of the time. I feel liberated. The stress in my life is gone. I'm free. On the one hand, the situation is so bad, there is nothing to do but laugh and have fun. And on the other hand, I know it could be much worse... I actually have some savings (dwindling), I have skills, and I have friends and family. And for the moment, I have health insurance. (Come on, Senate, get it together and pass something with a public option!) I'm eating and sleeping better. I've lost weight (30 lbs.) And I have an opportunity to think about what I want to do. I'm starting a blog! (I hope this thing has a spell checker.)

I worked with Moveon for a few months, to help support the Waxman/Markey energy bill. Then health care reform. Then I worked on a musical invention of mine. I'll post about these and other persuits, but the point is, I am looking at things anew, and it's great. And it seemes a lot of people I meet these days are doing some of the same kind of soul searching. These are the worst of times, but maybe also the very best of times. Adversity will improve the arts; better films and books and songs surely must be about to burble up from the discontedted and dislocated out there along with me... I can hardly wait.


  1. Roy,
    thanks a lot for share you feeling ...

  2. That sounds like a lot of fun. Hope you post a plenty of photos especially of your work on the bus. Have you thought of a name for her?

  3. Hi Boris, Signpainter,... thanks for visiting. Name the bus!!! I used to have a Volvo cross country wagon. It had AWD and was designed for off roading, but it was a lovely silk glove, with leather seats and refined details throughout. I fitted it out carefully and packed every nook and cranny with gear and it became a traveling living pod. I called it the 'John Glenn', after the compact 'Friendship VII' Gemini space capsule he flew around the earth. I drove that up to VT and the White Mountains in NH, and then from Boston MA to NC and then up into VA and back here in NC, but it was just too loaded down with gear and I didn't want to stay in motels, so I'm selling the Volvo from my brother's in VA, and I "upgraded" to this bus. The price is about an even swap. But this is a BEAST in comparison. The Volvo happily purred at 80 to 100, the bus belches Deisel at 40 to 70. I cleaned the Volvo with a tooth brush and waxed it in the sun. I snip off stray wires on the bus dashboard and it may get 401'ed eventually.

    I thought I might call it the Beast, but it felt unkind, like naming a dog a funny name like Ketchup or Fartface. I came up with Tourtoise for the Blog, I guess I could call her Tourtoise :-)

  4. Roy: This is fantastic. Paint the bus ala Ken Kesey and you can reincarnate the Merry Pranksters (sans the drugs). I finished reading "Blue Highways" by William Least Heat Moon a few months back. He records his adventures and experiences traversing America on back roads in the 70's (I think). Some great Americana and anecdotal stuff - similar to what I'm sure you will be discovering. Keep blogging - really interested in keeping up with your adventure (who knows -maybe your blog becomes a Blue Highways for the 00's). Happy trails!!
    Jim McRobert

  5. Thanks Jim. Hope all is going well back east. It's 50 degrees here in Durham. I had all my windows open and the generator running and power tools whirring... Nice day :-)

  6. You're onto something Roy, there are alot of us out there who are reassessing our lives and working on living more intentionally. I've been working towards a more minimalist existence for somewhere around a year now, moved around the world, realized that this wasn't the right time for that, turned my relocation into a sabbatical, learned a new skillset, and am excited to see what comes next!

    Keep us updated and be sure to include lots of pics!

  7. Hi Jesse,

    Thanks for the comments. I'd like to hear more about your adventure, too. Where are you now? What's your proffession and what new skill set did you learn?