Thursday, October 14, 2010


I am becoming so tired of these self-searching questions, the interior focus of youth and boredom. Perhaps it is because I have hit a rock and see these questions as unanswerable for the time being and the pressing forward on the boulder is exhausting. Why is a search for passion so important? Why do I feel these questions following me around like lost puppies long after I have left them at the corner and told them to stay?

The search for our passions, maybe, is the search for the motivator, the self’s Prime Mover, our own personal God-of-the-small-life. We must see those that have identified their passion as somehow more peaceful and happier, that our seeking will be rewarded in an earthly heaven. But maybe it is because we see those that have identified their passion as productive, as somehow fundamentally more effective in their living, contributing instead of wandering. Maybe this search for my passion is haunting me now because I feel so useless, a drain on the social machine. The one answer I am so tired of searching for may be clarifying the one question I have yet to ask. Clearly it is not here yet.

I watched a movie today, entitled “All in This Tea” produced by flower films. It documents the beginning of the importation of organic tea from China by David Lee Hoffman in the early 1990’s. There is much talk of the ‘experience’ of drinking tea and of all the memories and tastes it recalls. Just a simple reminder to value simplicity.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Land Boat Press Release

What is Land Boat?

Land Boat is a writer/photographer team from Maryland on a Westward quest to find the American Dream. Matt Crooks and Annelies de Groot grew up on the water and are taking their live aboard knowledge to the road in a restored vintage travel trailer. They are spending at least the beginning of 2011 searching for the history, source and modern remodels of the classic American Dream theory.

The Trailer

The actual Land Boat is a 1973 Yellowstone travel trailer, 17 feet in length and several months in remodel. Matt and Annelies have documented the restoration on their blog at The interior has been restored and painted with a minimalist aesthetic and a boater’s needs, with a table that can be lowered into a second bed for visitors, bolted appliances, storage in every angle and no more aboard than necessary.

The People

Matt Crooks is a 2006 graduate of the Hallmark School of Photography. His style is pointed and active. His photos show you the inner focus of the skier mid-air, the childlike joy of the snowboarder at the peak of the pipe, and the deep creative attention of the woodworker. Matt knows how things work. He improves his environment with anything available, a creative knowledge he was born with and developed through taking everything apart. His varied jobs at a bronze foundry, a wooden boat shop, a mountain resort and in construction have taken this knowledge of functionality and focused it in on formation. He knows not only how something functions but what these functions can become. Matt’s skills in hacking objects, in pinpointing the usefulness of things, come from a deep awareness of an object’s potential and its components. This viewpoint of improvement and motion lend his photography an arresting dichotomy of intense peace among chaos, highlighting the one critical moment of stillness. The arena becomes a disaster zone, the winter beach a canvas for the surfer, and the a routine trick transforms into a performance in Matt’s photos. You can see his work at

Annelies de Groot has a BA in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD. This great books, seminar style education has infused her writing with an institution of linear progress, researched background and depth in simplicity. Work in educational and environmental nonprofits, international law, health industry and sail making edge the intellectual academic mindset with a practical and experiential focus. Annelies’ successful writing history includes green living articles in local papers, grant awards for nonprofits, website and textbook content, speeches and health advice columns.

The Trip

Starting out from Maryland on the first week of January, Land Boat will head West. The rough plan reads counter clockwise around the country, chasing the winter. Hopping from family member to friend to campsite, Matt and Annelies will live out of the trailer and live in to their unexplored horizons of mountains, prairies and coastlines. Matt has taken several cross country road trips previously, but Annelies has little on-the-road experience. They will take turns pointing out to each other their favorite locations on the continent while visiting pertinent settings for the American Dream.

The Theory

The term “the American Dream” is a relatively new one, coined in1932. It refers to the dream of a citizen to work hard and provide a house and an opportunity to his children. However, the foundations of this concept are rooted long before the Great Depression. In fact, the entire nation is founded on these principles of freedom for change and a fight for financial stability. Combined with the romantic Western movement new iterations of those fundamental principles can be seen again and again. Colonists, Frontiersman, Gold Rushers, Hippies, the Tech Savvy, all have made their way to the sunset for another chance to live their life the way they want to. But has this changed? The new media claims the “American Dream” is dead. Is this simply because this recession has highlighted our inability to achieve financial stability? Is it because the “dream” of owning a house is now farther away than ever for most?

The new wave of organic, health-focused, minimalist lifestyles rings true to Matt and Annelies both in their values and in their quest for understanding the American Dream. Perhaps having lost sight of financial stability and social freedom in favor of excess and correctness our nation is fighting back. What do you think? Over the course of the trip the pair will be interviewing a series of people including those who have deeply inspired them with their well-known success and those who are deeply inspiring them with their quiet every day victories. A series of photo essays and analytical articles will appear on the Land Boat blog to illustrate with whom and where the American Dream is found.

Please send us an e-mail if you are interested in Land Boat. Send us your questions and suggestions to or


I have a friend, in her late fifties, who has recently stumbled upon the conundrum of passion. Realizing that while there are many things she excels at, and much she enjoys doing, there is nothing that she could drop everything to pursue full time. She has a career, which blossomed out of a job, which she does not love.

I have read quite a few life-hacking books that teach you how to maximize your results and enjoy life, essentially. They all explain how to make a living off of your passion. However, nobody has yet told me how to find my passion in the first place. A few of them suggest exercises, such as “make a list of everything you have ever been good at or enjoyed doing in your life, including when you were a child”, or “think about what you would do if you could do anything in the world”. Neither is helpful. I too am still passionless.

Or am I? How can I find my passion if I am still unclear as to what it is. I am told that passion is the one thing you would do above all else. Well, that makes those tips above even more redundant – how can I find the one thing I would do above all else if the way to find it is to think of that thing? Circular logic, this. Must I be talented at my passion? Is it truly a passion if I cannot recognize it? I am also told that it is the one activity that makes you happiest when doing it. Well, then I must not need to be very good at it as most things I really enjoy doing I am not that skilled at. So how am I supposed to make money off of doing something I am not very good at?

What’s the importance of finding your passion anyway? Why is it so heartbreaking that, at fifty-something, my friend cannot recognize hers? Perhaps we feel true belonging not to a loved one or any result, but to the activity of passion. We are truly one with ourselves when exercising this activity, when performing in these great strides of humanity.

Land Boat

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October 5, 2010
A few weeks ago I made friends with a bartender at a slow cocktail bar in a bowling alley. He mixed me a great martini and we chatted about school, careers, psychology. This led to a chat about our alcoholic fathers, our siblings – his sister is starting up a clinic for kids like my brother. We chatted about the work I was doing, the book I was writing, the trip I was taking.

I ran into him again tonight and we began the same chat until I used one different word. The “I “of my adventures became a “we” and the addition of one person somehow made his gaze unnecessary – to him solely of course. Funny how after adding one to “I” to create “we”, I am left alone – somehow the plurality of self can be the least welcoming and therefore the loneliest math. There was no untruth to “I”. There is greater truth in “we”.

I wrote a how-to article on the year long care of poinsettia plants, which need fourteen hours of cool darkness for seven weeks in order to bloom its bright red flowers. This somehow proves the theory that children spend much more time at home; grow closer to their parents, just before growing up and changing measurable amount. Perhaps we all need darkness, and cool, to flower.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Entering this century

I have recently entered the 21st century - and by recently I mean today.

Let me explain. I have been using for the past six years the same apple powerbook, which I am terribly attached to. The thing is like an old dog - slow and loyal and been with me through it all. However it is an old dog with alzhiemer's. It has started to delete its own files and the memory size - I kid you not - is the same size as my ipod. Along with this old retriever my telephone is a four year old, much dropped, no longer produced machine whose power charger stopped working this morning. My plan was to upgrade the phone when my contract expired - in three weeks. NO WAY am I paying $30 for a charger for an old phone I no longer want.

Lately I have been making some side money freelance writing. I do this while I am at work and there is nothing left to do, so its all been pretty entertaining. However I cannot type documents on my ancient apple.

So I find myself right now sitting in front of the naptown whole foods, typing this post on a brand new tiny internet machine netbook, with a brand new tiny smart phone with the label "palm" and a touch screen that acts like an iphone sitting next to me. I can receive picture messages! I can write documents on a computer! I can sit and use the computer for more than ten minutes without recharging! I can interact with people as if its - dear lord - two thousand and ten years after the new era!

ZZZZomg right?

On another note - i'm out of shape. getting back into it's a bitch. gotta love those tight zippers on new identities!

Land Boat

Friends - new website

and new blog

Follow the adventure!