October 17, 2018 – Morning Journaling

“What’s unlucky is not to change and disappear.
This way leads through humiliation and contempt.”
Rumi, “The Knots Untie”

It is Wednesday and I finally feel like I am catching up with life after a weekend celebration for my birthday. In general, I’ve never really been big on celebrations for myself. Part of it is just the reality of having an October birthday and moving around a lot. Due to school schedules and when I joined the Army I was in a new town for my birthday in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2014, and 2016. Basically, half my birthdays were in a city where I didn’t really know anyone. Even now, I’ve been in Wilmington two years and didn’t really organize anything. Luckily, I have an amazing partner who spoiled me for a weekend and we drove down to see some close friends nearby.

A lot of it also has to do with how weird I feel seeking and receiving praise or attention. It is this weird dichotomy where I like attention and talking about my views and life as much as the next person, but it feels uncomfortable to be explicitly recognized. Having a party thrown for me feels weird but if I’m at the party I like to feel appreciated and loved. I don’t know, maybe that’s normal.

So yeah, after this weekend it has been tough getting back into my routines. I haven’t gone running really (some excuses) or meditated (no excuses) and my focus has felt, well, scattered. I have been killing it at work though and knocking out a lot of good projects, so that’s nice.

To be honest, I’m really happy that there is basically nothing on my schedule for months. I’m not traveling for the holidays or hosting an event. I’d love to find a Friendsgiving or Christmas for Lost Children to go to but I am not going to organize it. If I end up just eating Chinese food or pizza on the holiday I don’t really mind. I just need some time to get into a routine and get the house back together. We’ve had basically no time to actually do the labor needed to recover from Florence.

We are planning on going up to Asheville for New Years, which will be nice. Shit. I need to get an AirBnB ASAP.

Where was I going with this blog?

I don’t remember. Oh well. Yeah, life is getting back into a routine and I have some nice goals laid out for my next year of life. I’m really happy and satisfied with the way things are going, even with the tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage to my house. It may take us a year or more to fully recover because we can only afford to do one room at a time, but at least we can safely live in it and we are all alive and healthy.

Oh, the quote at the top of the page is from “A Year with Rumi”, one of my morning reading books. That passage stuck with me a bit because I have kind of this fear of not changing. It seems so many problems in our lives (both personal and societal) comes from an unwillingness to recognize that the world is always changing, always in flux, and we can never go back to what it used to be. There is no rewind button on life and to even try is very painful for everyone involved. There was no time in my life (or anyone’s) when they “peaked” to long for, there is no “golden age” of America to try and recreate.

We must change. Change leads to growth. Change leads to life. And change requires that the old “we” disappear.

To fight that brings about feelings of weakness and hatred. To try and keep the world the same comes down to the two sources of fear (and all negative emotions): fear of not being good enough and fear of being out of control. In other words, “humiliation and contempt”.

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

37th/9th Birthday

My body has now been outside my mother’s uterus for 37 years. That feels like a long time, like I should be getting close to fearing death or a mid-life crisis or something, but I don’t feel that way. Each stage of my life has been more exciting, rewarding, and challenging than the last, and this last year may eclipse all others. At the very least, it was the busiest.

I still think it is strange that we count years solely based on birth. While it is a clear binary (in womb or out of womb) it is still an arbitrary starting point that is culturally based. Some cultures didn’t recognize human life until a child was a toddler and others broke lives up into clear stages with rites of passage that were far more important than birth.

I’ve discussed this before, but I want to revisit it. When you think about it, becoming an autonomous adult and how many years I have left of that is a far better measure than just post-birth. Sure, it isn’t as clear cut and will vary by person, but instead of “37 years old” I feel more like “9 years adult”.

See! Blue is childhood, green is military, and red is college. I’ve been an adult for so little time!

With this measure I am much younger and have a greater percentage of my life ahead of me than would otherwise seem. I imagine the next twenty years are going to look more like the last twenty years than my first twenty years. The last sentence is ridiculous but I do not care. Not that I think I should use this perspective as an excuse to slack off, it is just a way to look at how much life I have left in a clearer way. (I’m not afraid of death or anything, but I am not in any hurry to die either)

Look at all that fucking future purple!!!!! So many adventures!

So, what did I do on my 9th year of adulthood? Well, quite a bit. I love bulleted lists so here is a list with notes and reflections. In a semi-particular order:

  • Take my health seriously:  A year ago I decided that I wanted to make this my healthiest year of life yet. I had visions of six-packs, strutting the beach in a banana hammock, and bench-pressing two women while they contort themselves into yoga positions. Well, I ended up with the healthiest year of my life but not in the way I imagined. This year I went to a dentist and a medical doctor for the first time in over a decade (yes, there were cavities).

More importantly, I went to see a therapist at the VA. That small step led me to a psychiatrist, medication, and encouraged me to see a therapist regularly outside of the VA. The results have been wonderful and I truly believe I am healthier than I ever have been (even with my love handles).

I’ve been supportive of people seeking mental health help for many years but I never did it myself. I could make a shit ton of excuses but the truth is I was scared and/or didn’t think I needed to. It really took getting help to realize how fall I’d fallen. I didn’t hit rock bottom, but I feel like the bottom was within view. I’ve been struggling with a metaphor for my experience and this is the best I could come up with:

It is like I was flying. I drifted among the clouds and blue skies without many worries. Sure, I encountered the occasional thunderstorm but I weathered them without much harm. Little did I know, I wasn’t flying, I was falling. My friends, my family, and everything else in my life helped keep me afloat and slow my descent, but there was no avoiding the truth… I was falling.

The signs that I was falling became more and more obvious. Work started to suffer, relationships were strained, dark thoughts drifted into my mind. It was like instead of drifting in the sky I was now dodging cliffs and occasionally crashing into one and bouncing off. It wasn’t the occasional thunderstorm any more, I was in danger.

So, I started getting help. Therapy hasn’t (and won’t) allow me to fly again, but it has allowed me to find a safe place to land. My medication and therapy continues to help, like a ladder thrown down so that I can climb up. I’ll never fly again, but the sun is shining and I keep climbing up to solid ground.

  • Visited St. Louis and Portland for the holiday
  • Challenged Myself Physically: Ran my first 10k and 9-mile run, and completed Outside the Box: Stranded. The more physical challenges I do the more I realize that the physical and mental dichotomy is a false one. The mind is part of the body
  • Bought a House: By far, this was the most stressful experience of my life. I would literally rather return to Afghanistan. It was totally worth it, even with the Hurricane Florence damage that we are dealing with. But it was tough.
  • Became an Entrepreneur: I stopped being an “independent contractor” and started an LLC. This is important for two reasons. First, it reduces my tax burden. Second (and more importantly), it provides me with an outlet to expand my business opportunities into things I’m passionate about. Specifically, end-of-life consulting. I went through End-of-Life doula training which re-inspired my passion to help people during this last(?) transition.
  • Travel!: I scratched two major things off my bucket list this year. The first was participating in RAGBRAI. One week cycling across Iowa was such a wonderful experience. It felt like Burning Man and my cross-country ride merged into one. 11/10 – Will do again.

The second trip was Iceland. I really can’t fucking explain how amazing Iceland was. I loved it and I can’t wait to go back. That reminds me, I really need to finish my blogging about it. Anyway, you should go there. 15/10 – Will live there someday.

Not a bad 365 days. This next year is going to be great too, but much less active (praise Zeus). There are a few things on the horizon though:

Burning Man: Next year will be my partner and my 5th anniversary and we’d like to return to the place of our ceremony.

Running: I’ve got a half marathon scheduled and would like to do a full one next year too.

Community: This is the big one. It isn’t really an event but more of a life focus. I would like to actively build a community here in Wilmington. It seems weird to “try” and make friends instead of it going naturally, but childless adulthood in a new(ish) town kind of demands explicit work to find friends. I actually thought (am thinking) about starting a meetup group that is explicitly for childless couples but something feels icky about that to me.

The weird thing is, I know getting out there and doing things works. Going to D&D lead to friends that I see and hang out with outside of D&D. Similarly, I met an awesome couple from kickball that I wish I saw more of, but between most of my off-time recovering and my notorious lack of planning it almost never happens. I’ve even reconnected with an old friend from my past and he and his partner have become incredibly important to me. I’ve also met people through volunteering and other friends that I know I could call on in a jam.

So, I want to really try and build up those relationships while trying other things I’ve been interested in. The truth is that it is sometimes a numbers game. Adults are busy and many have a community already or we live far apart. Besides, everything I’ve been reading in the self-improvement department emphasizes how important it is to have connections in a variety of networks to help with intellectual and personal growth.

Build My Brand: Lastly, I want to become a better advocate for myself and my business interests. It has been a long struggle but I’m starting to accept that I have something of value to offer the world and that it is okay to put my name out there. I’ve got a couple of things I want to focus on, including my writing, end-of-life work, and game creation. I’m excited to see where it all goes.

So, that’s my wrap up of my 37th or 9th year. I’m sure 38/10 will be amazing in its own way.

October 12, 2018 – Morning Journaling

“I am not the generator but the transmitter of energy. There are sources beyond my imagination that I can draw from – all I need do is to open myself. I am not alone, and life is not confined only to what I see. When I open my inner vision and ask forces I cannot see but that I can sense to guide, sustain and protect me, I experience serenity and a sense of well-being.” –Tian Dayton, “Daily Affirmations for Forgiving and Moving On

The above quote was today’s daily affirmation in one of the works that I reflect on each morning. I read it before my run and it planted itself like a seed in my mind. The sweat from my run acted like water and soil for the seed and soon it started to flower into ideas and reflections.

That particular book was recommended by my therapist and, to be honest, I was a little skeptical when I started reading it. I talked to her about my concerns and she gave me a homework assignment to further my reflections. I explained that the talk of “god” and “higher power” rubbed me the wrong way and had me rolling my eyes a bit. As is often the case, we dove a little deeper into why I felt that way.

The basic reason was simple. I have become more of a man of science than faith. While I recognize there are things we don’t understand (and may never understand), I shudder at the concept of god or supernatural forces. My conversation with her (and the subsequent assignment) made me realize that my understanding of these things was unnecessarily limited by my past. Basically, I put these words in a tiny box that was linked strictly to my Christian, conservative, public school upbringing.

One of the great ironies of my upbringing is that I was taught to believe in a “personal Jesus”, as long as that Jesus looked and acted exactly as I was told he should. The world I was raised in was one of absolutes. There is an objective right and wrong, truth and lies, us and them, etc. Everything was binary with no room for nuance or interpretation or subjectivity.

There was one right way to have a family. It was a married man and woman with children. Anything else was either wrong, at best, or perverse. If only others would wait until marriage for sex and then never divorce then all homes would be happy.

There was one right religious belief. Protestant Christian was it. The Catholics were wrong, so were the Mormons, and don’t even think about branching outside of Christianity. If only others believed what we believed they would be saved.

There was one right culture to have. “White” suburban American culture was right. Black urban “African-American” culture lead to crime, jail, and that hyphen caused them to only be partial Americans. If only others would act like us there would be peace.

Well, that’s not exactly true. There was room for nuance when it served the political needs of the community. “Thou Shalt Not Kill” is generally translated as “Thou Shalt Not Murder”, which makes sense to me but Christians seem incredibly comfortable with the (what I would call) murder of innocent people during war, even when that war makes no Christian sense. As I’ve said before, Americans are “God and Country” people, but not necessarily in that order. The truth is, when presented with the choice between flag or cross, many firmly pick the flag.

Side note: Do you know which of the ten commandments is “thou shall not kill”?

The 5th! If you use St. Augustine’s system, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Samaritan Pentateuch, or Lutherans. 

The 6th! If you use the Septuagint generally followed by Orthodox Christians, the Jewish Talmud, or Reformed Christians

The 7th! For Philo

I really only mention this because I was raised to believe that the Bible is infallible and true as written. That there is no fault in it and it is the literal truth of what happened. But, as my education has branched out I have learned that there are different Bibles with different books depending on the point in history, denomination, etc. So, either the absolute truth changes with time and place or there is some human fallibility that comes form interpretation and such… which means maybe we should err on the side of peace and “love thy neighbor”. Any book that has unicorns mentioned several times as a historical fact is possibly symbolic or has translation issues that naturally occur over 2,000 years across languages and continents. If word translated to English 400 years ago doesn’t match our image of an animal today then maybe potentially complex issues like sexual immorality may have some of the same translation issues. 

Damn. I got off on a tangent. Back to my original point…

I was unnecessarily limiting my definitions of what spirituality, god, and higher power is. My therapist asked me to come up with my own definitions that I could use in my own life instead of relying on what I was told to believe in the past. I kind of hated this assignment but I am committed to improving my mental health and I trust my therapist, so I did it. Here is what I came up with.

Higher Powers: I made this plural because that made more sense to me. This is kind of the focal point of my beliefs and the other two exist in relation to this concept. Basically, I see higher powers as the forces in the universe that can have a significant impact on our lives but are outside of our power to completely escape.

This includes physical laws like gravity as well as things like good, evil, love, natural selection, evolutionary drives (sexual attraction, fight or flight, etc), sexual and relationship orientation, etc. Now, I’m not saying we are helpless in the face of these higher powers or that they necessarily have a universal positive or negative impact on our lives. Like all things, I think there is some variation and subjectivity to it, and we have some control.

We can certainly fight the higher powers, that fight can be difficult and damaging but in some cases it may be worth it (ie, evil, urges to murder, rape, steal, etc.). But life is easier when we work in sync with higher powers, and in an ideal world we find balance between fighting and working with, we learn to “row with the flow” of life and combine our own focus with the natural forces to guide our lives in the way that is best for us.

Often, higher powers combine and we create archetypes to make it easier to comprehend. The polytheist religions did this very explicitly with their pantheons but we do this outside of religion (as we currently define it). Marriage is often a combination of sexual attraction, romantic love, commitment, evolutionary drive to procreate, community norms, etc. Art is a combination of physical laws, creativity, rebellion against authority, etc.

God: This was the most difficult concept for me to really identify and separate from higher power. For me, God is simply all the higher powers combined. It is the universe, “Truth”, the way things work. I am God, you are God, the rain is God, reality is God, imagination is God, death is God, my computer is God… they are all the culmination of innumerable forces that are beyond understanding or control. God is all and all is God.

Spirituality: Once I nailed down my definition of higher power this was fairly simple for me to identify. I see spirituality as the explicit pursuit of one or more higher powers. That pursuit can take many forms. The pagan who performs a seasonal ceremony to welcome in winter is practicing a spirituality that combining a number of higher powers including death, physics, time, and others. The Christian that kneels in prayer is similarly practicing spirituality towards their combination of higher powers (in the form of Christ or “God”). The marathon runner is likewise being spiritual as they pursue their passion, the painter is spiritual while they hone their craft, and one or more people giving each other pleasure are also being spiritual. Spirituality is simply an attempt to live in sync with higher power(s).

I realize that this probably sounds batshit crazy to many people. It probably would have to me a few years ago but one of the major revelations I’ve had in the last decade or so is that it is okay for me to come up with my own views. Nearly everything in this world is open to a level of subjectivity. Relationship styles, love, health, success, and even spirituality should be tailored to each of our individual souls.

2,000 years ago it made some sense that life was arranged in a uniform way spiritually, politically, and socially. Very few people interacted with people who were different (unless they were killing them) and the ability to share and refine ideas wasn’t technologically available. We also lived in a very poor society where life was relatively solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. If I lived in a 14th Century village and I decided that I didn’t believe in the same God, wanted a polyamorous/bisexual relationship, and wanted to spend my days making music then I would become an outcast and/or starve to death. We live in a privileged time because we can ask these questions and find ourselves closer to truths.

In the past, there were self-evident truths because we knew so little. We wanted a solid foundation because without it the center could not hold. Simplicity and uniformity was necessary, but we don’t live in the same world as we did 10,000, 2,000, or even 200 years ago. The physical laws are the same but our technology, society, and culture are different. The forces that act most prominently on our lives have proven to be more wild, varied, and nuanced than our ancestors could have imagined. There are simply very few, if any, binaries in life.

So, what is one to do without that objective stability?

I say first, rejoice. The world is so much more beautiful with mystery and variety and the ability to be true to yourself. I would rather live now than any other time in history. Sure, even 50 years ago was simpler. As a white, hetero-passing, man in America my word was law and I could basically do whatever I wanted (as long as I didn’t harm other white, hetero-passing, males). What I simple, easy, powerful life.

I would feel like a god! But much like toddlers, I could feel like a god but really be stuck in infancy. The simple life is not a full life. None of us can reach our human potential if we stay stuck in the old ways of thinking or if we desire to return to our infancy. I cannot return to the crib any more than our society can return to the 50’s. And thank God for that.

I don’t know if we humans will survive our societal adolescence. I hope so, but I don’t know. Like many people when they enter their teenage years and move into adulthood, there is a longing for childhood. We idealize those days of freedom from responsibility, but it was really just a freedom from life itself. Instead, we need to look forward… look forward towards the day when we can make our lives our own, when we can struggle and grow and love and be adults.

You can’t find your passion and experience true love as a child. As a person we need to break the chains of childhood that our parents used to keep us safe (and trapped). We need to go out on our own and discover what our truth is. And, as a society we need to break the chains of childhood that those in power use to keep us safe (and trapped). We must ask the hard questions, make mistakes, try new things, and discover what life is for us.

Luckily, throughout the ages tools have been discovered. Much like a good parent preparing their children for adulthood, philosophies and religions across time have helped prepare us for societal adulthood. We just need to look outside of our upbringing and open up to the experiences of others. If we do that we will discover some universal principles of human existence.

People have started piecing together these universal principles as best they can. Just look at  Aldous Huxley’s “Perennial Philosophy”, Carl Jung’s “Collective Unconscious”, or Joseph Campbell’s “Hero with a Thousand Faces”. Reading the texts that have lasted for thousands of years show us a glimpse of human truths. The Buddha doesn’t sound that different than Jesus who sounds like an ancient Stoic. The Upanishads and the Bible and Meditations share similar proverbs and parables to guide the reader.

We will be stable if we recognize past “truths” for what they are, branches on a tree. Christianity is a spiritual branch attached to the Tree of God. Sure, if you take away that branch from people they will fall. Unless you help them recognize that it is a branch and not the tree itself. Guide them to the tree and they can find other branches or wrap themselves around the trunk for stability. That way, when one branch falls they still have stability. As political parties and religions and social institutions rot and fall away we will stay strong, as long as we recognize them for a part of the whole and not the only truth.

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

October 11, 2018 – Morning Journaling

“Every time I take a look inside that old and fabled book,
I’m blinded and reminded of the pain caused by some old man in the sky.
Marijuana, LSD, Psilocybin, and DMT
They all changed the way I see
But love’s the only thing that ever saved my life.”
– Sturgill Simpson, “Turtles All the Way Down”

I didn’t really do a lot of reading yesterday, so nothing really to show on that front. I did my normal morning reflections but neither one really stood out to me. That isn’t to say that there wasn’t wisdom or value in those words, I just wasn’t able (or willing?) to absorb them. I firmly believe that there is wisdom and value in everything. Every book, every film, every song, every flower, every experience… and failure to find value or wisdom is a reflection of my own faults and weaknesses. They have value, even if I can’t or won’t see it.

Damn. That paragraph turned into a bit of a bummer. I may not subscribe to the MBMBaM Live Show rule of “No Bummers” but I try to keep things optimistic.

I woke up at 5:30 this morning. I’m not normally up that early but my partner had the opening shift and since our bed is in our living room (Thanks, Florence!) it just makes sense to get up with her. Besides, the healthiest times of my life all involved waking up early. I may hate waking up, but I love mornings. I don’t want to say that mornings are my “favorite” time of the day because each day is so different, but it is certainly the most consistently positive (after I have coffee and am no longer a grumpyface).

I actually woke up around 4am again because my cat started attacking my feet. Maybe they were moving under the covers because of weird dream I had. The world was post-apocalyptic because an EMT knocked out all the electronics in the world. I lived with my brothers in a town called “23rd Street” and I was riding on a bus that was driven by Clay Morrow. I think I was trying to buy car parts or someone stole my watch or something. The details are a bit fuzzy.

Anyway, it seems random to me (except  the name of the city, I grew up on 23rd Street in Gresham) but I’m sure I could extract some meaning from it. I’ve heard that in dreams you should see each person and element as a part of yourself. I’m sure I could find some symbolism from the bus, the city, my brothers (and the lack of my sister or partner), Clay Morrow, the watch, and living in a post-apocalyptic world. Now, whether my subconscious manifested those symbols trying to tell me something or I just attached meeting post somnium to randomness is a mystery.

Am I the only one that likes throwing in random Latin into my writing? I don’t actually know Latin or if what I write makes sense but I enjoy it. Maybe it is because I read some old books and everyone used Latin or French or German or Greek or Italian in their English writings because the reader actually understood. Now I kind of want to learn Latin…

<Googles ‘Free Latin Courses Online’>

Oh, yesterday I played D&D and was on a Nat20 hot streak. Which was good, because I was basically in a fighting pit the entire time battling gladiators. I’ve still got one more battle ahead of me but I finally came face-to-face with the last known person to own/see my sister. He wants to have a talk and it is going to take all my strength and focus on Io to keep from entering a rage and beating him with my weapon.

I also made a lot of money… which is good. I spent a lot recently for information and I’m still trying to revive a new religion. Building temples isn’t cheap. I also may need some money to adopt/hire a couple of orphans to help me with my research into Io and things worked in the past. They are going to need some training but it’ll be nice to have someone to serve an an apprentice that can take over the church someday when I die.

Alright, on to the work day before Hurricane Michael knocks out my power.

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

October 10, 2018 – Morning Journaling

Pre-Script: I felt like blogging today and I miss doing daily blogs. I would love to claim that I’m going to do this every day but that really isn’t likely. I just don’t see it as a high priority right now and I have other things that I need to use my spoons for right now. But, when the urge strikes I will do it.

“It is the prime task of a truly modern mind to endure both the spiritual and the practical as the framework for her life… When one has grown strong and wise enough, the warring elements which cost so much suffering and anxiety, will become complimentary elements and produce the great work of art which is your own life.” – Robert Johnson, “She: Understanding Feminine Psychology”

Currently Reading:
“The Magic of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz
“Notes From Underground” by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Morning Reflections:
“Daily Affirmations for Forgiving and Moving On” by Tian Dayton
“A Year With Rumi” translated by Coleman Barks

Book Reflections
Yesterday, I started and finished reading “She: Understanding Feminine Psychology” by Robert A. Johnson. Don’t be impressed by my finishing it in one day, it is only about 100 pages long. Though, after reading about this woman who finished a book a day for a year I find myself inspired by that task. This year I had the goal of finishing 60 books and have already completed 57, though many are graphic novels… but those count to me.

Anyway, I was a little bit skeptical when I started reading this book. I read the companion book, “He: Understanding Masculine Psychology”, earlier this year and thought it was okay but not great. I think there is something about Johnson’s style of writing that I don’t particularly enjoy even though I love the idea of finding meaning in mythology.

I actually found “She” to be much better and interesting. Perhaps it is because I was more familiar with the Greek mythology around Psyche and Cupid/Eros/Amor having read “Til We Have Faces” by C.S. Lewis last year. Or maybe it is because I am both less familiar with femininity and on a journey right now to embrace my own internal femininity that this book felt more relevant and enjoyable. Either way, I enjoyed the read.

There were some issues that I took with it that may stem from the time period in which it was written, or perhaps a thorough examination of some issues weren’t possible due to the short length. While Johnson fully supports and thinks it is important and healthy for men to embrace their femininity and women to embrace their masculinity (or anima and animus), he does seem to operate from a strict binary of man and woman. I wonder what his thoughts are on how this applies to transgender and non-binary individuals.

Personally, I think as we progress to a point of greater individualism and fluidity we will find there are more and more people who don’t fit the binaries that we have in place like man-woman, straight-gay, etc. Humans are much more complex than that and as we cast of the patriarchal and otherwise tyrannical chains that come from our theocratic totalitarian past the beauty of our diversity will spring forth. Which, of course, will disrupt the “natural” order of things, as it should and as we should desire.

So, how will the guidance from these myths, the tasks that we face, and the roles that we take still impact our lives in future generations? I don’t know, but I think applying mythological study to the changing world around us could be exciting and a lot of fun. I find myself re-inspired to read Jung, Campbell, and paganism. Maybe I’ll finally start reading “Psychology of the Unconscious” or “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”, both of which have been sitting on my shelf for years.

Daily Plan
I woke up from a dream at about 4am this morning. In the dream I had invented a card game and I couldn’t fall back asleep, so I got up and wrote down all I could remember about the game and started plotting it out. Even in the waking hours it seems to have potential. I want to make time to really flush this (and several other game ideas) out but I just am burnt out by the end of the day.

I have been getting better at doing the things that are difficult but personally important for me in the morning (running, reading, meditating) and putting off the things that I know I will finish (namely, work) until later in the day. I really should be able to carve out 30-60 minutes in the morning for game development.

The rest of my day is super exciting:
0715-0815: Run/Shower
0815-0845: Reading
0845-1030: Gym with Trainer and shower again
1030-1800: Work (house or money)
1800-1815: Prep tomorrow by setting out running stuff, making coffee, cleaning desk and setting up books, etc
1815-2300: D&D!

D&D Update: Gory (my character – Level 11 Dragonborn Path of the Zealot Barbarian) and his crew have had a lot of adventures lately. He had to stand trial with the Zhantarian, which ended up going well. He was ready to die and had prepared his will and notes to his companions (yes, I pretty much actually made these). We are now getting close to tracking down the man who bought my sister as a slave years ago.

I really love playing D&D. We have a phenomenal dungeon master who balances the story with our freedom really well. He has taken backstories and really allowed them to play out in the world. Gory has evolved into a person that I never imagined he would due to how the adventures have played out. I know there is always a risk that he will die. I don’t necessarily want it to happen but I’m okay with that. I think there should be some level of ‘danger’, I don’t want to always be saved by my deity… sometimes bad rolls or bad decisions should result in permanent death. I’m prepared for how that would play out and can play another character if needed.

Things I Highlighted Since Yesterday Morning

“She: Understanding Feminine Psychology”
Her wedding is her funeral in a sense.
– All husbands are death to their wives in that they destroy them as maidens and force them into an evolution toward mature womanhood. It is paradoxical, but you can feel both gratitude and resentment toward the person who forces you to begin down your own path of growth.
– Nearly every man wants this of his wife… He wants the old patriarchal marriage where the man decides all the important issues, the woman agrees, and there is peace. Most men harbor the hope that things will go in this manner and for a little while there is the possibility that marriage will be like this.
– Most growth comes from the feminine element in myths.
– The chronicle of a woman’s life can be described as her struggle and evolution in relation to the masculine principle of life.
– Every garden has a serpent or shadow figure who brings the tranquility to an abrupt halt.
– A man knows who he is, and he knows he has a god, a magnificent being, somewhere within him. But when a woman lights the lamp and sees the god in him, he feels called upon to live up to that, to be strong in his masculine consciousness… terrible things happen to men who are deprived of the presence of women for it is the presence of woman that reminds each man of the best that is in him. Trump, alt-right, ‘incels’…
He is not well equipped at finding meaning for himself.
– Few women understand how great is the hunger in a man to be near femininity… As a man discovers his own inner femininity, he will not rely so heavily on the outer woman to live this out for him.
– The in love experience shatters human tranquility but sets about a great evolutionary energy
– The moment you fall in love with someone, you must acknowledge that person’s utter uniqueness and thus their separateness. Then we become immediately aware of the distance, the separation, and the difficulty of the relationship. There is generally a terrible feeling of inferiority in both men and women when they find their companion a god or a goddess.
– One may view a marriage as two people standing back to back, each protecting the other in a particular way.
– If you wish to give your children the best possible heritage, give them a clean unconscious, not your own unlived life, which is hidden in your unconscious until you are ready to face it directly.
– It is the prime task of a truly modern mind to endure both the spiritual and the practical as the framework for her life… When one has grown strong and wise enough, the warring elements which cost so much suffering and anxiety, will become complimentary elements and produce the great work of art which is your own life.

“The Magic of Thinking Big”
– Prolonged association with negative people makes us think negatively; close contact with petty individuals develops petty habits in us. On the bright side, companionship with people with big ideas raises the level of our thinking; close contact with ambitious people gives us ambition.
– The majority of people are convinced deep down inside that they haven’t got what it takes, that real success, real accomplishment, is for others who are lucky or fortunate in some special respect.
– A rut, which incidentally has been described as a grave with both ends open.
– We must fight of the suppressive influences of our environment.
– Big men do not laugh at big ideas
– People who tell you it cannot be done almost always are unsuccessful people, are strictly average or mediocre at best in terms of accomplishments. The opinions of these people can be poison.
– 1) Do circulate in new groups. 2) Do select friends who have views different from your own. 3) Do select friends who stand above petty, unimportant things.
– There’s another type of poison perhaps a little more insidious – thought poison – commonly called ‘gossip’… thought poison is subtle, but it accomplishes ‘big’ things. It reduces the size of our thinking by forcing us to concentrate on petty, unimportant things. It warps and twists our thinking about people because it is based on a distortion of facts, and it creates a guilt feeling in us that shows through when we meet the person we’ve gossiped about.

“Daily Affirmations for Forgiving and Moving On”
– It is not simply the contents of my life that determine my inner peace and happiness, but how I see those contents. I actually disagree, I think it is solely how you view those contents because how we view them is the only thing we can control. 

“Notes from Underground”
– I swear to you, gentlemen, that to be overly conscious is a sickness, a real, thorough sickness. For man’s everyday use, ordinary human consciousness would be more than enough; that is, a half, a quarter of the portion that falls to the lot of a developed man in our unfortunate nineteenth century.
– Everyone does it; it’s their sickness that everyone takes pride in.
– I am strongly convinced that not only too much consciousness but even any consciousness at all is a sickness
– Consequently there is not only nothing that you can do to change yourself, but there is simply nothing to do at all
– It is in despair that the most burning pleasures occur, especially when one is all too highly conscious of the hopelessness of one’s position.
– Nature doesn’t ask your permission; it doesn’t care about your wishes, or whether you like its laws or not. You’re obliged to accept it as it is, and consequently all its results as well.
– In consequence of that, silently and impotently gnashing your teeth, to come to a voluptuous standstill in inertia, fancying that, as it turns out, there isn’t even anyone to be angry with; that there is no object to be found, and maybe never will be; that it’s all a sleight-of-hand, a stacked deck, a cheat, that it’s all just slops – nobody knows what and nobody knows who, but in spite of all the uncertainties and stacked decks, it still hurts, and the more uncertain you are, the more it hurts!

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”


Carry Your Tools

Our ideas, our creativity, our skills, our passions are all worthless if we do not carry with us the tools to use them. They will continue to be nothing but passing thoughts and dreams if we don’t make something concrete out of them. And the first step to creation is recording.

I try and always carry a pen and small pad of paper with me. This simple act allows me to record things I want to blog about or stories I’d like to write or phone calls I need to make or things to buy at the store. For example, one page of my notebook says:

  • Call Dr. 9/26
  • Blog – Keep notepad w/ you
  • Pg 17/18 Blog
  • Air freshener
  • Search “Georgia” and “Hinesville”
  • Subscribe and Save
  • Get bees
  • Magic particle charge? unique element?

Of course, I don’t always follow through with these notes. I have pages littered with blog post ideas that I have not written. My follow-through is probably close to 5%, but that is better than the 0% it would be if I didn’t record my thoughts.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned or something, but I prefer a pen and paper over using my phone to record thoughts and ideas. My phone turns into a distraction for me too easily and I am way less likely to review my notes on my phone, but when I pull a notepad out of my pocket after getting home it is a reminder to turn written words into action. I guess that is really what writing things down is, it is the middle ground between thought and creation. An idea needs to be recorded in order to be manifested, and manifested ideas are necessary to improve the world.

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

Begin Again, Again

It was only a few weeks ago that I mapped out a 3-month plan with a variety of fitness, financial, and other goals. I was pumped and ready. I was going to finish off my 37th year since birth strong as fuck. But, as is often (always) the case, things didn’t work out that way. I struggled to get things started or meet my early goals and then Hurricane Florence kicked me out of my home city for a couple weeks.

So, here I am, almost four weeks into my new plan and my progress is basically zero. There is really only one thing to do.

Begin again.

Probably the most important concept that I’ve retained from my on-again, off-again, always-a-struggle meditation practice is the idea that you are successful as long as you begin again. So, I will begin again, hopefully a little bit wiser and a little better prepared.

Last time I set goals for myself I was way too damn ambitious. I set goals like I was at my strongest instead of where I actually was. It was basically like a marathon runner taking months off of training and then deciding to pick up where they left off. Of course I struggled, of course I became discouraged, I was planning for someone that no longer existed.

This time, I hope I am setting better goals. Specifically, I’m getting back to basics and focusing on habit building instead of quantity. I have two daily goals for the next four weeks: meditate every day and run every day. If I meditate for one minute every day then I am 100% successful and if I run 1/2 a mile every day then I am 100% successful. I’m going to try to do more than that but some days I might be able to muster little more than a half-ass jog to the end of the block and 60 seconds of trying to count my breaths.

Besides those, I have two weekly goals that include doing yoga once and participating in a group/social exercise at least once. I’m even allowing myself to count both of those in one session if I do a group yoga session. I think these goals are manageable and next month I can start thinking of adding something new (maybe intermittent fasting or lifting weights) or adding a quantity goal for meditation and running.

Really, I just need to realize that there is no rush. It is better to succeed at slow progress than give up on large goals. This is something I struggle with in all areas of my life, I want things to happen quickly, I’m anxious to be active and accomplish things and I overwhelm myself. I set myself up for failure.

Hopefully, not this time but if I do fail then I will simply begin again.

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

PJ Answers All: Step-Parents and Addressing Hurricane Flobags

First, I got another anonymous question this weekend from Sarahah. If you want me to give you my thoughts or advice on any subject feel free to send me a message on Sarahah, fill out this SurveyMonkey form, or contact me through more traditional means (see end of page) and tell me that you want it addressed anonymously. Oh, and the incomplete archives with about 100 questions and answers can be found here.

This may be different than your normal questions, but still curious as to your opinion (if you have one). What do you think of step-parents being called ‘mom’ or ‘dad’ by their stepchildren?”

Thanks for the question! To be honest, I have never given this much thought. My birth parents are still married and I haven’t been in a position where this affected my life directly. Though, two of my best friends birth parents are no longer together and so are some of my cousins and other friends. Homes are increasingly diverse, which may be a good thing.

Because this involves language there might be regional differences, but to me “dad” and “mom” are more of an emotional relationship than a biological one. You can “father” or “mother” a child and the word becomes a verb instead of a title, but you can’t “dad a child” or “mom a child”. To me, father/mother is mostly about biology.

So, I might find it a little strange (but really none of my business and not terribly important to me) if a step-child called their new parent “father” or “mother”. But it makes perfect sense to me for them to call them “dad” or “mom” as long as those words reflect the emotional relationship between the two parties.

I really can’t say when the relationship warrants that kind of terminology. I imagine it happens more commonly and quickly in families where the step-parent enters into the child’s life early on. For example, a close friend of mine’s mother remarried when he was in elementary school. His step-father, not his father, has always been his dad. But if my parents were to divorce and get remarried I would probably never call my step-parents mom or dad. Oddly, I do call my in-laws mom and dad.

I think it really depends on the relationship and it is something that should not be forced. I mean really, no title or relationship should be forced. A child isn’t going to love or respect and adult more because they are punished for not making specific sounds out of their mouths when conveying an idea about that parent. In fact, it’ll probably make the child resent the adult.

Thanks again for this question. I like giving thought to new things and this was definitely an issue that never crossed my mind.

Alright, I’ve got another issue on my mind that I wanted to address.

As some of you know, I live in Wilmington, NC and we are currently in the direct path of Hurricane Florence. Yesterday, I posted a quick Facebook post about my decision to (probably) stay and the reasons for that decision.

Unfortunately, some of my Facebook friends tried to talk me out of it. I know they had the best intentions but it comes off as condescending as fuck to try to convince someone that they are wrong, particularly when you imply that they are stupid or haven’t thought things out. I’m a 36-year old, college educated, entrepreneur, combat veteran who spent over two years travelling by bicycle without guaranteed shelter, access to water, electricity, or food. I have also lived in the South for nearly half my life. I love my life and don’t enter into decisions that may risk it lightly. So, you are a dick if you want to publicly shame me on my Facebook wall for my decision. If you really care or are curious about my thought process you should send me a private message. I fucking hate publicly posted unsolicited advice, particularly from people who, despite claiming to be libertarians, think they know my situation and what is best for me better than I do.

Okay, now that that is out of the way.

I am still undecided on whether I am staying or going. A lot is going to depend on what the storm does in the next 24 hours. Regardless, my partner is leaving tomorrow morning with the animals. So, what is my thought process? Let’s lay it out. I think there are four basic scenarios… I feel like this might be a Prisoner’s dilemma type of situation, I should make a four-square chart. Anyway here they are from relative worst to best:

Storm is Really Terrible, I Stay: This is basically the worst possible scenario. As much as I’d like to stay and help my fellow citizens, after chatting with some experts I realize that I won’t really be in a position (nor do I have the tools) to help. I may even be a liability. Even if I end up being perfectly fine I will be stuck away from electricity, water, and additional food for maybe weeks. I have a bunch of reserves but that would suck ass. I also might die (but I think that is actually way less likely than people realize).

Storm is No Big Deal, I Leave: If the storm is mostly a bust with limited power loss and no major road closures then it could be very wasteful for me to leave. Any minor damage that our home has could turn into major damage if nobody is around for a week to address it. A small leak in the roof can turn into a small leak, floor damage, destroyed furniture, etc. if it isn’t taken care of quickly. Of course, it isn’t really possible to know the extent of the damage the building will take.

Storm is Really Terrible, I Leave: This would suck but leaving would be the best call. I would likely be stranded away from home for an extended amount of time, my house may suffer considerable damage, and there may be property loss. We have insurance but this would still suck. At least I would be safe at my in-laws and able to still work.

Storm is No Big Deal, I Stay: This is the best case scenario. If the storm ends up veering away from us (probably North) and we end up with nothing but weak-side winds from 100 miles away then the damage will be light, services will be quickly restored, and I will be home to fix the house and protect it from looters.

So, there are my options. I still don’t fucking know what I’m going to do. As of this post (8:35am EST, 9/11/2018) the storm is projected to center on Jacksonville, which is about 40 miles northeast of me. If it continues to slide north with projections north of Greenville on Wednesday morning then I’m likely to stay. That’ll put me just on the southern edge of the likely 2-day path. If it slides further south towards Wilmington again then I am going to leave. Really, the only tough decision is if the forecast puts it in the same general vicinity that it is now because it could easily either be No Big Deal or Really Terrible.

I guess all I can do is prep the house and wait and see.



Gentlemen, You Are More Than Just Your Dick

I haven’t spent much time on dating websites or apps. They were starting to become pretty common and popular when I lived in DC but, aside from a short-lived OKCupid account, I missed that trend. During that time I also solely identified as straight and had not really explored or accepted my more nuanced sexuality. That means I’ve never really looked for a male partner online.

Well, recently that has changed. With my partner’s support, I’ve started using AdultFriendFinder and similar sites to find more open-minded couples and singles in our area. I’m not looking for sexual partners per-se, but I am looking for non-judgmental friends that won’t judge me if they find out that we define monogamy a little more physically loosely than others. Originally, I was worried that all we would find were people that wanted to fuck but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find a wide variety of people who want a wide variety of things on these sites.

I guess I’m not alone in my desire to not feel alone.

Overall, it has been a pretty positive experience with one major issue: the guys.

I realize that these sites are primarily for swingers but getting inbox full of dick pics and “Hey, wanna fuck?” is something I haven’t experienced (though, I’m sure 99% of my female friends have). This brings me to the purpose of this blog, to ask a question and to give some advice.

Question: Is this dick pic, monosyllabic message method actually work?

I have a hard time believing it does but it is so prevalent I wonder if I’m wrong. Maybe it is the relatively low cost to the men to do this. Maybe it is insecurity on their part and they are looking for some attention, any attention, or any validation that they are attractive or sexy. So, instead of being more vulnerable by showing their faces or personality, they just put a series of poor-quality cock pics they took with their phone.

And it isn’t even just the messages. Entire profiles are nothing but two dozen dick pics, as if we need to see it from every angle in every light in order to make a decision.

“Man, I was totally against a threesome with that guy until I saw dick pic #87, something about the way the cock looks in that mirror with the dirty bedroom in the background really put things in a new light. Let’s fuck”

I know that when I was prone to send dick pics unsolicited in the past it is usually, though not always, because I’m feeling lonely and insecure. So, I turn to something unnecessarily shocking and hope to get attention. I really can’t apologize enough for my shitty behavior in the past. I don’t know if I am still friends with any of the women I acted this way towards, but my god I am so sorry. It is never acceptable for me to use my insecurities and weaknesses in a way that violates the consent of others. I wish I could change the past.

Is that why these guys do this, or is it because they actually and truly think their dick is special and their best asset. Which brings me to my comment/advice.

Gentlemen, you are more than your dick and it is not your best asset.

Listen, I know it is absolutely exhausting and time-consuming and risks your ego to put your face and personality in your profile, and to send actual thought-out messages that show you read the profile of the person/people you are interested. But I truly believe that it will yield better results. Is your current method working?

Big dicks and dick pics are a dime a dozen online, it really isn’t that special. What is special is someone who shows that they are a real person with interests and sends an actual articulate, well-thought out message. If a couple’s profile says, “We’re looking for like-minded people in our area to build a friendship with,” then a dick pic, a “let’s fuck” message, and a blank profile probably won’t get a response. And you do want a response, right? Or are you just on these sites to try and feel powerful by waving your dick around.

Have a little pride in more about yourself than something you have zero control over. You are a multi-faceted person and turning yourself into nothing more than a sausage who can string 4th grade level sentences together is dehumanizing. Show the world that you are complete.

I imagine most people looking for a male partner are less concerned about our phalli than they are about our personalities and whether we are respectful, kind, and compatible with their desires. Yes, it is riskier and makes you more vulnerable to show a high quality picture and fill out the profile, but if you are paying ~$100 to use the site shouldn’t you put some effort that might get results?

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe sending out a dozen dick-pics a day gets you what you want more effectively than I realize. But as someone who is now on the receiving end of those dicks, I am deleting most of them and only responding to the people who show me they think with the head between their ears.

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a Snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

Icelandic Agavemoon – Day 1

As some of you know, my partner and I spent last week camping around Iceland. Iceland is a place that has always interested me and it was kind of a dream come true to visit. This trip was the best in my life, it is nice to still have some “bests”, even better than my first Burning Man (though it is difficult to compare and contrast the two).

As the experience has marinated in my mind I have been struggling with how to share this experience. There were a lot of events and reflections that made this trip so important to me and it is difficult to figure out how to blog about it. In the end, I decided to use the writing technique I did with my book and just do it chronologically. When appropriate, I will go on tangents about my thoughts on a particular subject. Oh, and you can find some of our pics on our Instagram pages (@peterneiger and @anna_kale_27). We are still sorting through the pics on the camera but you can get an idea of what we saw/experienced via Instagram.

First though, here is a list of things that we were really, really happy that we had with us.

  • High quality waterproof hiking boots
  • Waterproof camera
  • High quality cold weather gloves
  • A highway map
  • High quality cold weather sleeping bag
  • A Jackery (or other battery storage for the phone)

Several of those items were quite expensive but they are lifetime investments. I’m going to hike a lot of trails, sleep in a lot of cold places, and take pictures in a lot of wet places. I don’t think you need high quality, expensive stuff to adventure (just like I don’t think you need an expensive bike to cycle cross country) but they are good investments if you plan on a lifetime of wandering.

And here are some things that we wish we had/knew:

  • Camping utensils (we own them but forgot them)
  • A basic knowledge of the language
  • A more hardcore vehicle for Highland exploration (more on that later)
  • An Icelandic/English dictionary for grocery shopping
  • A car phone charger (again, we have several but forgot them)
  • A travel credit card or a chip card with a PIN. You can’t buy gas with a credit card in Iceland unless you have a PIN and most credit cards in the states use a signature instead.

Day 1 – Saturday, August 25

We landed in Reykjavik at about 6am. Well, technically we landed in Keflavik but everyone called it Reykjavik. Due to the time zone change and our day-long layover in Boston we had only slept about 2-3 hours and that sleep was shitty plane sleep. Oh, but we did see the Northern Lights from the plane, so that was cool.

So, we were tired but the sun was up and we were ready to roll.

Our first stop, SADcars to pick up our rental, a beat-up grey Jimny that would prove to be a loyal, if somewhat frustrating, companion for the next 8 days. Once we had our vehicle we really didn’t have any solid plans. We had two reservations, one for a hostel on August 26 and one in Reykjavik on our final night, but other than that nothing was set in stone. Our “plan” was to simply head north for a bit and then east and then along the southern border. That would allow us to see the touristy stuff on the Golden Circle and explore a bit. Camping is available everywhere so we didn’t worry about finding a place to sleep.

The drive into Reykjavik was the first time that I really felt like I wasn’t in the US anymore. The different road signs, words I couldn’t pronounce, and the general friendliness of drivers was foreign to me. Luckily, we had a paper map, our phones showed our GPS location despite being in airplane mode, and all the signs in Iceland are pictures and most are pretty intuitive.

Unfortunately, “most” is not the same as “all”. Once we got downtown we were bombarded with signs that varied slightly and were difficult to interpret. What does a sign with a single red line across it mean? How does that differ from two red lines? These are all questions that we should have answers to. Which brings me to my first Iceland lesson:

Lesson 1: Familiarize yourself with road signs before arriving in country.

(I took a shit ton of notes, including several pages of lessons. Some of these are unique to Iceland but I think most of them are applicable for all international travel.)

Eventually, we figured out how to drive and get around without killing anyone. I am a big fan of roundabouts and stop lights that give a yellow warning before turning green. Traffic control in Iceland is pretty awesome. Hunger was hitting us so we grabbed some breakfast at basically the only vegan friendly place that was open before noon (not a lot of breakfast restaurants in Iceland) and then went to the grocery store to stock up. Grocery stores were our best friend because they were cheaper than restaurants and being vegan limited our options. Luckily, we have two years experience traveling without modern appliances and we know what food to stock up on.

Being vegan actually made the trip easier for us because it acted as a filter to all the options. Every decision we make goes through a number of filters based on our tastes, preferences, finances, convenience, ethics, etc. Our veganism is ethics based so we can quickly cut out any restaurants that don’t have vegan options. Then we factor in where the place is located and what options are available.

Of course, decision making involves both binary filters and degree filters. Binary filters are simple “yes/no” filters that allow us to reduce options. Do they have vegan options? No, then it is gone. Degree filters, on the other hand, are a bit more complicated because it requires weighing options relative to each other. One place is 7 miles away and the other is 8, which do we choose? There isn’t enough information to really make an informed choice because things like menu options and price matter. So, do you go to the place 8 miles away with 10 vegan options or the place 7 miles away with 8 vegan options? It all depends…

Anyway, being vegan cut out a lot of the headaches because we could focus on the 3-4 all vegan restaurants that were available in Reykjavik. I was actually really surprised how vegan friendly Iceland was though. Almost every restaurant had an explicitly marked vegan option or two and the prices for vegan food were on par (or sometimes cheaper) than meat options.

After we had full bellies and a carload of food we headed north. We tried to find some allergy medicine for me because my body was acting weird but we couldn’t find any. We later learned that medicine can’t be sold in grocery stores or gas stations, only in pharmacies. It was kind of weird not to find that in a grocery store but find underwear hanging on the walls and lube prominently displayed at the cash registers with the gum and other impulse buys.

The roads we choose were pretty sparse and we picked them based on how scenic they looked or what random experience might be along that way. Due to this technique we found the town of Akrans that had some cool lighthouses that you could climb up. After that we headed out to Glymur Falls to hike up a few miles along cliffs to watch water obey the gravitational pull of the Earth. It was an amazing site and the pictures we took don’t do any of it justice (this is a regular occurrence in Iceland).

Up until this point we had not really ran into tourists. That would change in the future when we discovered there are basically two types of tourists in Iceland: Boots and Buses.

Bus Tourists tended to be older, stay in hotels, and take buses all around the Golden Circle. They shuffled off the bus, walked a few feet to a beautiful site, took a picture, and then shuffled back onto the bus. We knew that a location would be crowded and that we would leave fairly quickly when we saw a bunch of buses.

Book Tourists tended to be younger, camp out, and wander off the normal paths. They hiked along random trials, pushed their way through the rain to reach a glacier, and were mostly found in the southern parts of the country away from the Bus Tourists. These were our people.

By time we got to our hiking stop point it was starting to get late. We cracked open a couple beers, drank them and rested for a bit, and then we hustled down the mountain. We had passed a campground on the road earlier that day so we headed back there where we set up our tent, paid our fee (about $15 per person, which was pretty standard), had sex, and then went to sleep.

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a Snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”