Although my first novel began “I never intended this, of course,” when I came to Pittsburg in mid-August, I intended to stay for a year or so. I intended to finish another novel. I intended to write a memoir. I intended to learn some things about myself.
I had a lot of intentions.
After eight months here, I wrote a column called “An Unorthodox Man’s Unorthodox Job Search.” In it, I outlined, in the form of an open letter to the universe, a few things I was looking for in my next job. Since I’ve written a couple hundred columns, I assumed this one would meet a fate similar to the others: some people would like it, some people would say “meh” and a few would send me angry emails accusing me of being a Trump lackey or Anti-American.
(A brief aside here: I’ve written at most 15 columns that could generously be described as “political.” Six or eight would be labelled “conservative,” primarily because of their patriotism, while nine or seven are “liberal” because they defended free speech and treating all Americans with decency. No matter what I’ve written, though, I get responses from supporters of our president accusing me of trying to undermine him or being a snowflake. Likewise, folks who oppose President Trump accuse me of being a lapdog for fascism. Sigh.)
Back to that column, though. It wasn’t treated as a quick read by my audience. Instead, it was shared from person to person and ultimately led to my accepting a job with Hope for New Hampshire Recovery, beginning May 31—next Thursday. (If you missed it, here’s the news release and, I think, a pretty good interview.) So, after nine months the Tiny White Box and I are heading south to begin walking a new path. Tonight is my last evening here, and I wanted to pass on, without description or comment, a few things I’ve learned during this sabbatical.
- My friend George is right when he says, “There are always more solutions than problems.” It’s equally true that there is always more to be grateful for than stuff to complain about. Sometimes it just takes looking.
- Although the top of my head is still fairly dark, my beard is starting to come in with white patches.
- Running water is nothing to be taken for granted. Washing hair in outdoor sub-zero temperatures is not a character test, it’s just a pain in the neck.
- Once it gets below zero degrees the difference is negligible.
- I like myself. Even alone for a week or so in the middle of the winter, I can still make myself laugh.
People have asked, so I’ll answer. Yes, I’ll continue writing, although instead of aiming for a daily column, I think I’ll cut it back to three or four per week. If you’re worried I might be running out of ideas, below are some columns I’ve started but yet to finish.
The novel? It’s in the early stages of finalization. The memoir? It keeps on growing and growing, much like my gratitude for all of you.
A Miscellaneous Hodgepodge of Potpourri in a Ragbag
Bird’s Nests and Dog Crap
Blurbs for the Book
Colonel Warnke and Iced Beer
Cowards Stay and Face the Consequences
First Time Getting High
Green Grass and Urine
The Child of a Rat is a Rat
How Many Points Do You Need to Make a Pattern?
I am a Gluttonous Bulimic with an Appetite for Praise
I Don’t Have a Lot of Original Thoughts
If You Love Something, Set It Free—But Not Near Route 3
Instead of Quiet Desperation
Last Time I Danced in Public
Lethargy, Larceny and Lechery
Losing Four Years
My Personal World Records
So Whattya Been Up to for the Last 45 Years
Some Men Pass on Great Wealth to Their Children
Two Miles of Chicken Wire and a Four-Mile Pasture
You Said You Had to Get Back to Work
About the author: Keith Howard used to be a homeless drunk veteran. Then he got sober and, eventually, became director of Liberty House in Manchester, a housing program for formerly homeless veterans. There, he had a number of well-publicized experiences – walking away from federal funds in order to keep Liberty House clean and sober, a contretemps with a presidential candidate and a $100,000 donation, a year spent living in a converted cargo trailer in Raymond. Today, he lives in a six-by 12-foot trailer in Pittsburg, NH, a few miles from the Canadian border with his dog, Sam. There, Howard maintains tinywhitebox.com, his website, works on a memoir, and a couple of novels while plotting the next phase of his improbable life.