First of all, sincere thanks to Matt Dormond for conjuring the S.B.Y.F. website with almost no notice. In my next life I’ll be more web savvy, I promise. Thanks also to Dave Dormond, Geoff Kloc, Krista Tracanna, Becca Venuto, Matt Murphy and the above for surprising me with supplies. I normally consider myself surprise-proof…I’ll get you guys back, trust me. Thanks to my mom, my brothers and my dad, the wonderful/generous graphics dept. at Jefferson, Phillip Le, Tommy Rice, and Jim Talone. I love you all. (And yes, one of those is my mechanic.)

Just a few hours before I get on the road, and so, with a final nod to Tim O’Brien, here are the things I’m carrying.

A car

Well, technically the car is carrying me, but there’s a good chance that will end up the other way around.

I drive a ’95 volvo sedan. For years it was known as “The Grocery-Getter,” but recently it was renamed “The Pope-Mobile”—not because it resembles the Pope’s car, but because for a few weeks there it was billowing white smoke.

It has roughly 150,000 miles on it (not sure, odometer is broken).

A few months ago I was turning into my apartment and the turn-signal arm snapped off (fixed with 2-ton industrial-strength epoxy!).

The air conditioning has never worked, so on a normal summer day, if it’s 80 degrees outside, the interior gage reads 110-115. That’s because engine heat blasts through the vents, and I sweat like one of those guys shoveling coal into a locomotive’s fire box.

Food, Water, Clothes, ect.


My first thought was to dump my bookcase directly into my trunk. In the end, I picked two:

#1 The Three Pillars of Zen (363 pages)

#2 The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde (857 pages)

A Notepad



Road Map

Cell Phone


For both recreation and self-defense.

Thousands of Oversized Stamped Postcards

My greatest fear is that strangers will be nice to me when I meet them, then toss the card as soon as I’m gone. I was told to expect 2-3% of people to actually mail them back; I hope that’s wrong. I hope people will take a moment and reflect, not only on what advice they want to give, but also on how they might creatively render it. I hope these cards become like little works of art. I hope. We’ll see.

My plan—if such a loose arrangement of ideas might be called a plan—is to head west toward Chicago. From there, I’ll visit Iowa, then up north and across west, down toward San Fran, loop back through Wyoming to avoid the desert, down toward Austin and New Orleans, back up the east coast. That could all change. The Pope-mobile may well break down before I leave PA. I may get robbed or run out of money.

I’d like to hand out the cards to as wide a range of people as possible, so I may visit libraries, parks, senior centers, schools, camps, prisons, churches, caddyshacks—who knows.

I’m expecting the trip to take roughly 5 weeks. I’ll try to post updates when I can, though I’m not sure how often I’ll be online. I’d love to hear from everyone here or on facebook. It’s the little things that keep you going!

Thanks again. My adventure begins tomorrow at 4 am. One last thing: if you like the story and the project, please pass it on to as many people as you can, however you can.

See you all soon!

2 responses to “The Things I’m Carrying”

  1. Lauren says:

    Do what you do best…just be yourself and people will get it. My fingers are crossed for you…happy and safe travels.

  2. Daimler says:

    2%-3% is what you should expect if you were to do a direct mail (DM) piece to random people.

    But since you’re actually talking to them and telling them what they’re doing and why, then I reckon you should expect a solid 30%-40% response rate. More if they don’t think you’re a dick.

    Good luck bro!

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