Originally Posted: May 9th, 2023
Updated: May 11th, 2023
It took a while, but my phone finally collapsed after I dropped it for the last time.
You’d think they’d make pockets that shape the contours of these devices, ensuring no accidental breaks. Instead, I watched it slip from my red jacket and land with that distinct, all-knowing thud to end all thuds.
I’m texting my brother and my friend RB through Google Voice. RB sent me a text this morning, asking about the chickens. I texted her back on my computer. She says she’s ready for the off-grid life. Today I’m realizing how slow time can pass without the phone. “It’s nice,” I write, but what I really mean to say is that I noticed a few ants wrestling by the door. A grasshopper almost flew into my mouth. Arjuna needed to be gently tossed into the makeshift pond in order to finally figure out it’s safe for swimming.
…and dunking one’s head in. Assuming you’re a duck.
I took out my old DSLRs from two decades ago. One had a broken mirror. The other works well enough. It’s a gray spring day, perfect overcast weather for shooting. I’m not used to using a camera, or wearing one. When I reached down to pick up Arjuna, it whacked me in the mouth.
There’s this dream I had years ago that still sticks with me. I’ve written about it here on Typewriter Poetry, back in February 2014: “Moved To New Orleans.”
I’m at the train station in my red jacket, holding onto my typewriter by its case with my black camera bag slung across my shoulder. This was the dream that convinced me, almost ten years ago, to hop on a train and go to New Orleans. I purchased an Amtrak ticket and said goodbye to my family a week later.
One of the reasons why I’m enjoying writing long-form and sharing DSLR pictures is because it reminds me of those old Deadjournal, Livejournal, Xanga, Blogger days. I don’t handwrite in my journal as much as I used to, which I’m learning to accept as “okay.”
But the words have to come out, somehow. Why not bang it out online?
My typewriter has been sitting inside of my car. I shift between leaving it inside the bus — my tiny house and art studio, the Starry Night Skoolie — and leaving it in my daughter’s room at my mom’s house.
There’s so much that changes when a tiny human emerges from your womb. My friend NT mentioned the other day how she has mini panic attacks while driving on the freeway. “Me too,” I exclaimed. I’ve become the most cautious, hyper-vigilant driver I’ve ever been thanks to the toddler bossing me around from the back seat.
In some ways, it’s good to know I’m not alone.
My typewriter carries so much history and meaning and symbolism that I’m not surprised it hasn’t found a stable “place” to quietly sit. There’s this black writing desk on the bus that I’ve been keeping out of the way. I’m afraid that guests might not like it in the living space, since it takes up so much room. But we haven’t had any bookings as of late. It might be the right time to finally move it — the table, I mean — and see how the typewriter fits.
Creative block, writer’s block, artist’s block as a parent is an entirely new beast I never anticipated meeting. My friend BY — an accomplished musician; I would play her songs while carrying my daughter, Little M, to sleep — told me in the early days of my solo parenting journey that the parent/artists she knows says to give it about 7 years before everything feels “creatively balanced.”
“Seven years?” I wasn’t sure I could last that long. We’re now in year three and I am just starting to feel the waves, again.
I’m teaching myself how to swim.
I planned on buying a new cellphone, but something in me kept driving to the desert.
Next thing you know, I’m in the middle-of-nowhere at the local feedstore, where a woman named Karen tells me the truth about the “medicated feed” label.
“The only medicated feed you can get legally is through a prescription,” she says. She hands me a huge bag of feed for waterfowl — ”water balls,” she says with a smile — before we walk over to the register. Karen recognizes me, now, so she gifts me a small box of dog treats as a courtesy.
“Little macaroons,” I joke when she shows them to me. “Macaroons,” she echoes, pronouncing it correctly. I add “macaroon” to my list of words I slip up on, like “metropolis” (“metra-polis”) and “niche” (“nitch”).
My first day with a broken phone feels pretty okay. I reinforced the roof over Arjuna’s enclosure. Next on my list is building an outhouse and figuring out how vermiculture, composting, black solider flies, and humanure all play together.
I’m not kidding when I say that homesteading feels a lot like programming. There’s a certain skill of observation and responsiveness that’s required in both worlds, especially if you’re a rapid prototyper like me. Call it the chaotically good energy I’m drenched in, but for some reason, I’ve always been good at just doing things and hoping they work.
Not that it’ll ever be the prettiest, or the most efficient on my first try. But give me a few more iterations. I’ll always be able to figure it out.
Thanks for reading.
If you’re new here, my name’s Billimarie.
I’m an artist that happens to embody the solarpunk ethos. In the past, my chosen mediums were film, photography, poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and performance art.
I’m hoping to return to music this year.
I run a tiny house glampsite called the Starry Night Skoolie. It’s part of a greater project — For Every Star, A Tree. For Every Star, A Tree is a nonprofit I founded at the beginning of the year to help with afforestation on a community level. 100% of proceeds from the skoolie go back to the water and the trees.
I’m a dreamer who loves encouraging people to chase after their pipe dreams. As you might notice, I’ve chased a few in my time. I believe I’ve been molded by them for the better.
If alternative living and dreaming is your jam, I’m certain we’re singing the same song.
Billimarie Lubiano Robinson is a wandering artist and writer.
From 2011 to 2015, she traveled around the U.S. with her pink 1950’s Royal typewriter and typed hundreds of spontaneous #FreePoetry poems for strangers on the spot. Well-versed in the art of reckless wandering, Billimarie has backpacked Hawaii, hitchhiked the West, lived in a Parisian bookstore, and survived a Swedish winter alone in the remote wilderness. Her work has appeared in FIYAH, the Newer York, the Northridge Review, Marías at Sampaguitas, Pussy Magic, the Eastern Iowa Review, as well as on her websites: Billimarie.com and TypewriterPoetry.com.
Billimarie and her daughter currently live part-time in their tiny home and art studio, affectionately called the Starry Night Skoolie. The skoolie is rented out to adventurers, travelers, wanderers, glampers, and campers looking for a new way to experience the desert.
Billimarie has spent the last three years planting trees and maintaining a tiny native forest on the outskirts of Los Angeles in the desert.
This is For Every Star, A Tree.