Smooth Living

5 easy steps to feeling good

How do you feel? Are you mentally exhausted? Physically beat up? Emotionally traumatized? Try following these five easy steps to feeling better. They work. As the alcoholics like to say about their program, it works if you work it. But this program isn’t nearly as difficult as their twelve steps.
1) Take a break. Right now. If you are reading this, you have the ability to take a break. Get up and go someplace where no one will bother you. Go in the bathroom, lock yourself in your room, hide under the house, go to the mall, or go someplace where there are loads of people that don’t know you. Get yourself something to drink (like water or coffee) and just sit for 5, 10, 15, or 20 minutes. Don’t do anything else. No crosswords, shut off your phone, don’t read the paper. Just sit and enjoy your beverage. Watch the people, watch the ants, look around, look at the sky, don’t talk, don’t work, don’t do anything. Take a break. Five minutes is enough and 10 hours is not too much.
2) Do something nice for someone you don’t know. Anything. Buy some flowers and give them to an old lady you see on the street. Give some change to a musician on the street. Help someone that you come across that could use a hand. Don’t ask for anything, don’t expect anything, and when you are done, get out of there.
3) Stretch. No excuses. Just do it. Bend down, touch your toes. Reach your hands up over your head. Do any stretches you know. You don’t have to break a sweat. Just stretch.
4) Throw out some old piece of clothing. Find something you don’t like and throw it away. Just one thing. Maybe it’s too small, maybe it’s too big. Maybe your ex gave it to you. Maybe your mom gave it to you. Just find some piece of clothing you don’t like and throw it out. Trash it. Not the good will, not a thrift shop. The garbage. Get rid of it. You can throw out more if you want to or take the rest to the mission, but this one goes straight into the garbage.
5) Skip a meal. Just one. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Just don’t eat anything for one period and pay attention to how it feels. Then when the next mealtime comes, eat something you really like. Make it a small portion of something delicious and special that you eat very slowly. Savor each bite. Make it special.
These are just a couple of very easy things you can do to feel good. They don’t take any special effort. All there is to it, is to do it.
If you would like to know more like this, why not pick up a copy of my book:
Feeding the Spirit

Smooth Living

Family and Old Friends in Big Bear

This was written inside one of the closet doors, I felt guilty of killing those memories for whomever the girls were, so before pulling the door off and putting it in the dumpster, I figured I would save those memories from dying, just a little bit.

As a guy who is pretty used to freebooting and having a fair amount of time to himself, this has been challenging in a few ways. Since we are living on the jobsite and the project belongs to my Dad, there hasn’t been a lot of downtime. Dad likes to wake up early and go to work, since we are living on the site, he usually sees something right off that needs to be done and gets to it. I can’t really let him labor on while I sit and write or work on the computer and so I usually labor alongside him.
At the moment, Dad is taking care of some business in town and Murray has gone to the Home Depot down the hill, so I am taking a few moments to catch up a bit. What a relief!
My uncle Murray (named for our Irish ancestors The Murrays…not a hebrew name…) has been here for the past week or so and the upside is that we’ve been getting one hell of a lot done. The downside is that I haven’t really had a chance to just relax and explore or blog about any of this.

Murray, Mama Jeanne, and Dad relaxing on the lanai after a day’s toil.

Last weekend, my old friend James came up from the Inland Empire and we decided to take a little hike up to Gray’s Peak in our old stomping grounds of Fawnskin on the other side of the lake.

It was nice to take a couple of days to just hang out and explore this place. As you can see from the pictures, Big Bear is a beautiful place. The weather has been stellar and it was nice to get out and do a little hiking.

Gray’s Peak sits at an elevation of 7920 and we started from Fawnskin at an elevation of about 6900 feet above sea level.

The hike took about 4.5 hours and took us through the region of the Fawnskin Caverns where we used to spend a fair amount of time, then up to some Alpine Meadows, past the area where the firefighters managed to put out one of the big forest fires a couple of years ago and finally up to the peak.

I forgot my camera and the batteries on James camera were dead so we both took pictures with our phones, so I apologize for the resolution and color bleeding.

During James visit we of course talked a lot about old times, had a couple of nice dinners with the folks and even visited one of our old hangouts The Goldpan Restaurant in Fawnskin where I briefly worked as a dishwasher. It was funny to look out and see that things haven’t really changed in Fawnskin at all, the kids still hang out in front of the pizza barn, just like we used to.

Also last week I had the opportunity to spend a little time with my oldest friend on the planet, Kris Rafferty. How strange to hang out with someone that was my first friend when I was 4 or 5 and realize that neither of us have really changed very much. We instantly fell into the comfortable comaraderie we used to have as kids running around our neighborhood and causing mischief. Kris lives in Palm Desert and comes up to Big Bear fairly regularly so I think it is pretty likely we’ll be able to hang around more over the summer.
One thing that I’m not too happy about is that I’ve probably put on 10 pounds since being back in the United States, mainly because of the huge portions of food people eat here. My Dad is a real meat and potatoes guy and serves up huge steaks off the barbacue and after a day of working hard, I tend to clean the plate, I’m realizing that I need to start eating half and saving the other half for later or I’ll end up obese.
As an example of how big the food is here, check out this hamburger my friend Dave Walker made for dinner before I left Bellingham

On that plate is a full meal for my entire Moroccan family. By the way, while it’s nice to be in Big Bear and seeing old friends and family, it isn’t home to me. Home is where the heart is and for me that is in the little town of Sefrou in Morocco where Hanane and her family are in an environment that isn’t too radically different from this one, though the culture certainly is. I think about going back to her and Morocco often and look forward to finishing up the work here so I can head home. Of course, I’m also looking forward to whatever adventures happen along the way back there.

Smooth Living

I got this email this morning and think that this is a pretty great resource to pass on to all of you. Trust me, when I say they way we travel, work, and live is changing; I’m not joking around. The world is already a very different place than it was in 1995 and by 2012 you can be living a life that will seem like a dream.

Hey Vago,
>I saw you posted about a ride in Couch Surfing’s ride
>group. I think you would really like
>You can post your rides, search for rides, find all
>best ways to get to your next destination. There is
>also lots of other cool info for things to do when you
>get to your destinations. It’s very Couch Surfing
>friendly and has a ton of cool features. You can even
>take your ride and post a link from our site to
> and it will have all your info all
>ready to post.
>we are also adding truck stops, places to camp, bus
>routes, and lots more data in the next month.
>We are a newer site and will be working on our first
>”Brew” starting May 31st.
> There should lots
>of new stuff happening and if you joined now you would
>be on the ground floor of something cool, kind of like
>joining CS 5 years ago 🙂
>Not spamming, just sharing 🙂

Existensis making the impossible Poor Vago possible Smooth Living Uncategorized

A moment's reprieve from the Scary Arab Clowns

The Scary Arab Clowns have agreed to give me a moment to address my friends and family via here and facebook due to the increased activity on both sites and the interest this has caused.
First of all, let me say thank you for all the congratulations, warm wishes, warnings, and announcements that I am out of my mind.
Of course I’m out of my mind. What kind of a person gives up his stock options to move into a VW bus and discover what it’s like to be homeless in the middle of a Northwest Winter? What kind of anarchist joins the Marine Corps? What kind of person moves to Hawaii with $100 and no plan? What kind of person starts to get his degree at the age of 35? What kind of person buys a round trip ticket with no intention of using the return and no plan of what he will do? What kind of person smokes salvia divinorum dozens of times in an attempt to lose his mind? What kind of a person reads the bible, the koran, the tao te ching, and even the Satanic Bible and finds truth in all of them? What kind of person wants money and fame and yet hates money and fame at the same time?
I will tell you what kind of person. A person that is out of their mind. So for those of you who are worried or concerned, there is no need to be. I am just as out of my mind as I have always been and that is not likely to change.
So here I am in Morocco. I meet a girl that physically, mentally, and spiritually is the woman of my dreams. There are no illusions here, she has issues, I have issues, we both are fundamentally flawed human beings and that is okay. As you no doubt read, I had red flags rising all over the place telling me to run, to wait, to hide, to give up, to continue moving on. So did she. So does her family. So does her community. But you know what? Shit happens. And so does love.

Sometimes you meet someone and you just know. Yes there have been other people I have loved, yes I have attempted to share my life with other women, and yes, I have failed in the past. You know where I have failed? I have failed by listening to those cautions, by listening to those warnings, by allowing my fear to dictate the terms of my life. Why should we wait? Should we wait so that we aren’t completely committed to each other and we can use that and fear as an excuse to drive wedges between us? Should we wait because we don’t know each others flaws well enough? Should we wait because commitment requires time?
No. Love happens. This isn’t a fairy tale, this isn’t a story, this isn’t a movie or a film. This is life. This is my life, it is Hanane’s life, and this is also your life. Some of you reading this are shaking your head and thinking that I am delusional. Maybe, but I will tell you what, you are delusional. You are all going to die, just like me, you are not going to live forever, you are going to die and it could happen in minutes or it could happen in decades. We are all going to die. You won’t be taking those bank accounts with you, you won’t be taking your cars, your houses, your clothes, or anything else. If we are all very lucky, there is an afterlife and we will be able to take some of our loves and passions and experiences on this plane with us, but we cannot know that. We can have faith, but we cannot know.
All we can know is that all of this ends for us at some undetermined time (unless you choose to end it yourself at a predetermined time).
So, why should we wait? Should we wait to tell the people we love that we love them? Should I wait to make certain my love for Hanane is real? How long? Six months? A year? Three years? That is insanity. I’ve seen marriages where they waited and failed and I’ve seen marriages where they didn’t wait and they still succeeded. The reason my past relationships failed was because of fear and because of not being willing to commit.
I fail when I don’t commit. We all do.
So again, thank you all for your concerns. I appreciate and love you. I hope that you all take a moment to consider that death could be waiting in your driveway or kitchen or workplace and commit yourself to living your life right now. The future may never come, but the moment is here, now. Take it because it is all you have.
So here is my recent history in very brief form, the clowns want me to write a book, I think it is a good idea.
I took a week to travel around Morocco and consider whether to commit or not. Trust me a week in a country where no one really speaks your language is like ten months in a place where they do because you get time to think. I traveled alone but made some friends along the way.
I thought and thought and thought and I realized that right now, right here, I have the chance to do something wonderful. I have the chance to commit myself to a woman who has told me that if I don’t want to become Muslim, she will still love me even though her religion frowns on this, a woman who speaks better English than me, who has overcome difficulties that most of you can’t imagine, a woman who knows that I am not secretly rich and who has dreamed of starting a life with her man with nothing so they can build it together. This has also been a dream of mine. She knows that I may not ever want to return to the United States, that I have far more debt than I know how to pay back, and that life with me will be more difficult at times than if she were to marry a man from her own culture.
Her employers and friends are concerned that she has lost her mind. They are warning her that I may be an exploitive foreigner who is only trying to use her body and steal from her. They are as concerned as some of you, perhaps they are more concerned. She is loved by her friends, her family, and her students. And while I have endeavored to not put her on a pedestal, those who know her certainly have.
So I came back to her and upon seeing her, emotions flooded us both. We spent the day talking and working and of course, because this is Morocco, eating with her family. We talked about waiting and we agreed that waiting is sometimes worse than not. For a week I had been writing about my fears, my intentions, my desires, and what it is that I want from life. I want this life with her. I know this. And so, I asked her if she would consider becoming my wife. She cried and she said yes. We talked about the challenges and difficulties (and there are many…believe me) and we both said yes.
This was only the beginning. I wanted to cook dinner for her family that evening so that I could ask her father for permission to marry her. So we shopped, we found her a beautiful ring and I bought ingredients to make pizza. That night, Hanane and I made pizza and thought it was hard to get his attention away from the TV news, I finally managed to ask Selim if I could marry his daughter. He said yes. Not because I am American, not because I am rich, not because of all the negative reasons, though I admit that I am sure these things help, but because I have lived here with this family, they have seen the way we look at one another, the way we talk, and the way we interact. To those who know us or see us, there is no doubt. I hope that in looking at the few pictures I have put up on facebook, that the concerns of my friends and family are also put at ease.
The next day we bought dates and a few essentials and in the evening we hosted a small engagement party for Hanane’s family and neighbors. Not more than fifteen people but an engagement is not an off the cuff thing here. There was ceremony involved where we put the rings on each others hands, fed each other dates, gave each other milk from bowls, and finally where henna was applied to Hanane’s hands and feet and to one of my hands. The whole family danced and sang and took part and we feasted on things that everyone had brought. As you can see from the pictures, Hanane is a Princess and on the day of engagement, a Moroccan woman is a Princess. So maybe this is a fairy tale after all…

And now, we move on with life…there are no guarantees. There are difficulties in each person’s life that no one else can understand…and joys.
As to religion. I am Muslim. And there is no problem at all with the fact that I still find truth in the words of Jesus, the words of Buddha, the words of Krishnamurti, or the teachings of any faith. Why am I Muslim? For one reason only, because I submit myself to the will of God and don’t have any illusions about being in control. Someday, we can discuss the particulars in email or in person and I will be happy to clarify. But publicly here, I make my declaration that I am Muslim.
The Evil Clowns are back from shopping and I have to go now….
Vago (the artist formerly known as Chris)

making the impossible Poor Vago possible Smooth Living Uncategorized

On the Road Again…odd but true.

I know this may seem odd, but I am on the road again. Don’t worry though, I haven’t abandoned new found love. Instead, this is a practicality. Admittedly, I have wanderlust and Hanane understands this, so while she arranges her passport and completes some English teacher trainings, I am hitting the road. Today I took taxis from her house in Sifrou to Fes and then a train to Rabat, the capital of Morocco. I am astounded by the beauty of this country. Rolling green hills with millions of little orange flowers and lush fields. Its spring, I know. The cactus that stand in the fields reveal the dry conditions of summer, but man oh man. The view from the train was spectacular. I rode first class this time and admit it was worth the extra six dollars. It was nice to be left alone and have no one trying to become my new best friend.

I’ve checked into the youth hostel near the Medina. A nice place. Since I haven’t uploaded any photos, I’ll pull some from the web for you.

So here is the deal.
Chapter 1: The Vagobond leaves all he knows and sets off on a random journey that has no set destination.
Chapter 2: Somehow he ends up in Africa, in Morocco, and he meets a shepherds daughter and they fall in love. In ten days she captures his heart. There are complications, as there always are in love, one of which is his dim prospects as a shepherd.
Chapter 3: He leaves his love to search for fame and fortune telling her he will return for her. She sets about arranging her life and they part with a kiss.

And that is where we find ourselves now. The best part of this story is that it is really happening and if you appreciate being able to watch it unfold, please either use the donate button on the left side of the page ( to support this real life adventure or at least
click on ‘bookmark’ at the bottom of this post at and share this on Digg, Facebook, Myspace or other social networking sites.
This is my life and it is extraordinary. Please help me to keep it going. Thanks and now we can all hope for a happily ever after to come in the future.

Smooth Living The Life Aloha Uncategorized

Rocky the Beach Boy aka Aboudeen the Wrestler


While I was riding my skateboard around Waikiki today, I ran into my buddy Rocky. Rocky is the captain of one of the catamarans that pulls up on Waikiki and takes folks out for sunset and blue water cruises. If you make it to Waikiki, his catamaran is the one right behind the statue of Duke Kahanamoku. Rocky and I became friends when I was working as a casting assistant for a reality show that was trying to find Hawaii people for their wife-swap show.
Rocky used to be a professional wrestler in the 1980’s. He wrestled under the name Aboudeen, mostly around Portland, Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. If you meet Rocky on the beach, tell him that the Vagobond sent you and if he looks puzzled just say, the guy who wrote the vagabond book. He will know who you mean right away.

Smooth Living

Smooth Living- 1930's Style.

On my way to San Francisco for a conference of the American Anthropological Association and I decided to conduct an experiment. What would it be like to put on my suit and fedora and travel like it was the 1930’s?

Being ever so slightly socially anxious these days, this is sort of fun but also sort of interesting, hilarious, and odd. Putting on the suit, the hat, and then carrying my leather bag and carry on, I look like a G-man from a 1930’s movie.
The cab driver was confused as I came out. He didn’t know exactly what to think. People don’t dress up to travel today. They don’t dress up at all. Especially in Hawaii where wearing shoes is considered dressy. So the cab driver jumped out of his cab, opened the trunk, and didn’t say anything until I spoke. Interesting.
Then, he asked me “If you don’t mind me asking, what do you do that you get to dress like that?” I tried not to guffaw but it wasn’t difficult as I was feeling anxious about being judged, I recognized that and so I said. “To tell you the truth, I’m an anthropologist.” “What does an anthropologist do?” He asked. “We study people.” I answered. That set a strange tone as now he was probably under the impression that I was studying him. I was. I had to come to terms with being odd and standing out. The truth is, I am odd as I wear a suit to travel and I do stand out, but I am fairly sure it is in the best possible way.
The cab driver and I talked politics. I asked him what he thought of the economy and the new depression and he said he thought it was because there are too many people and that the government should have created think tanks to figure out all of this would happen before it did. Finally, just before he got here, he told me that he thought that things had been alright with the less intelligent people out of work, but now that smart people were losing their jobs, he expected all hell to break loose. He figured that the smart ones would tear everything apart. The cab ride was $30 but I suppose it was worth it just for that insight and to start out figuring out what it is like to travel this way.
At the airport, I was surprised that I had to take off not only my shoes and hat but also my coat. The female security guard triple checked my ID and while my bag got searched because my toothpaste tube was too large (a new euphemism?), the male security guard let it pass. When I asked the female security guard what she had been checking, she told me that she had been making sure my ID wasn’t expired. Not yet, but almost. The passport though is good for quite a while.
A male passenger waiting behind me made the instant assumption that I was heading back to work in San Francisco. I even mentioned that I live here, but he had already decided I was heading back to my home and work on the mainland because of my attire. Then, he sort of wanted to make friends I think, but I didn’t encourage him.