This is the fourth day journal entry of my experience of living in a dirt hole that these posts recount:
Dirt Hole Crash Pad Part 1:
Dirt Hole Crash Pad Part 2:
Probably should read them before this. The complete (minus small sentence structure, grammar, and word changes to help it flow better) journal is a supplementary piece of material to those more essential posts.
Note: Anytime you see (Note: Sample Words) is the present me commenting on the journal.
Scratched Word represents a word I crossed out in the journal.
Dirt Hole Journal Day 4
It’s day four, probably around 7 PM and I’ve just gotten up for the day. Though all I’m going to do is write, lay down some more, then go to bed. (Note: This sounds like a typical day for me during any period of my life.)
So yesterday was day three. Woke up early again. Actually had some sleep which was nice. Got out of the tent at maybe 7:30 in the morning, got my fire going again, and laid down in the dirt by the fire to sleep more. Don’t really think I ended up getting much sleep, though just laying there half awake was peaceful and restful enough. Did that until three or four in the afternoon, just daydreaming and drifting in and out — it was nice.
Got up, left a message on my mom’s phone telling her I was alright, then laid back down. Drank some juice and water, getting rested and charged up to go swim later on. Seriously when you lay around all day you just become more and more tired and hardly want to do a thing. After laying for well over an hour and after drinking more juice, I decided it was time to swim over to Minnesota.
Was windy that day and I was afraid that would pick up the current a bit more, but when I decided it was time to swim the wind died down so thought it’d be normal. So yeah, I had my swimming trunks out but then was like “ah it’ll be fun to swim across naked.” I thought this’d be cool since I couldn’t bring shoes and all I was going to do was chill on the other side and then swim back. Stripped all of my clothes, stood on the edge of camp looking for a spot I wanted to end up at on the other side, and then crawled down the bank. Got ready to swim. What happened next still makes me feel bad just to think of, and it continually forced itself into my head last night.
Started wading into the river. Temperature was fine though there is always that chill as you first enter a body of water. I was feeling good and honestly only afraid that a beaver or big fish might come under me as I swam and try bite my penis off. I got in to about my waist, just walking slowly. Then proceeded to dive the rest of my body to get over that initial cold shock. Started swimming, american freestyle, and I was doing fine. Kept my head sticking out of the water which I know slows you down and sinks you, but I didn’t want to try and do breaths or accidentally swallow some of the rusty disease water. About five different times while swimming I put my right hand over my penis and balls for a stroke (swim) or two because I felt honestly concerned about having my crotch chomped off.
Made it about 3/4ths of the the way across, doing pretty good but tiring from the swim. At that point, in just an instant my body began to give. Lost all strength and I became very very dizzy and disoriented. Tried to keep on swimming but had nearly nothing left, plus now the current grabbed me and started pulling me away from the shore. My body began to just about bob under the surface as I willed myself to kick my legs and flop my arms in hopes of getting to the shore. Panicked and my body was nearly lifeless from not having eaten anything for over fifty five hours. I flopped my arms and slowly got closer to shore, feeling as if I would pass out or have my body completely give at any second. Was maybe twenty some feet away and tried to plant my legs down on the ground so I could walk, but the water was still too deep. I tried this twice more — neither time found ground. My body was caught in the current, the target landing spot drifted by, and it seemed the current was going to shoot me back out into the middle of the river where I would never make it. I then somehow mentally and physically pushed myself to use everything I had left to get on shore. All it took was a few seconds. I flipped over on my back and did my strongest swim, backstroke, and managed to pull myself in close enough to where I could set my feet down in the mud under the water.
I slowly walked in the last few feet to shore and fell over on the bank. The bank was extremely steep and slippery. I wasn’t able to completely get my body out of the water. Lay there naked, grasping to the bank with my fingers. Jammed them into the mud like a madman mountain climber and just breathed. I was laying on the shore stomach down, gasping. Naked and covered in mud. Oh one detail I forgot about the swim was that my bangs kept on falling over my face so I could hardly see when looking for the shore. Anyway I lay there gasping for air, both my head and heart violently pounding. My body felt dead, my chest slimy from the mud I kept slipping on. (Note: This is all beginning to sound like how I’d write up the experience of a great fuck session haha.) My stomach ill. I lay there for probably fifteen to twenty minutes, waiting for my heart to slow down and my head to not feel as if it were on a swivel.
It was during this time that I first fully grasped the fact that I had nearly died. If I would have panicked more and not swam right, or had my body gone completely under from losing consciousness then I almost assuredly would have drown to death. Someone would have found my half rotten, flesh picked by fish,
corpse who naked corpse caught up in a pile of logs and garbage. Stuck on the bend of the river for a month. That’s not how I want to die. It was either during that swim or when I was on shore that I kept on telling myself, this isn’t how I want to die. So yeah I lay on shore recovering, freaked out, and thinking of what’d just happened. Although I’ve swam over to Minnesota a number of times before with no problems, this was a new part of the river and as I laid there I realize just how bad of an idea it was to swim with a fast current when across a river and cut across a fast current when you haven’t eaten for over fifty-five hours. I figured that was the reason I became so lightheaded and why my body quit on me. Guess I had been feeling a bit di dizzy around camp, though a bit of water, juice, and walking made that better. Oh yeah before I swam over I had stretched out good.
After twenty minutes of laying there stuck to the mud, recovering and thinking of what happened along with what I should do next, I walked down a few feet,
to still clinging to the banks like my only life line. Got to a spot where I could get my whole body up on shore. I sat there for probably another twenty minutes. Heart wasn’t pounding but stomach and head were still quite unstable. Don’t think that I was crying but I was about as emotionally shook up as you can get. As I lay there again, feeling tired just from crawling the few feet to the shore spot of shore I was on now, I began to think of my life.
I lay there on my back, dizzy, naked and exposed, with much of my body mucked up with big clumps of mud. Thought mostly of the things I regretted doing, and the things I regretted not having done in my life. (Note: Holy fuck, did I seriously not elaborate on what those things were? Bad move, past Gabfrab, bad move.)
I also believe that once on shore a thought of God fluttered into my head, but I immediately butted it out. (Note: I thought I had prayed before taking off to swim again and that’s where my thought of God came from but apparently it was when I hit shore here.) I don’t believe in any god, heaven or hell, and only put my faith in free will and cause and effect. I nearly drowned because my body had no strength. Having been raised a Catholic my entire life I guess that trained though of God still lived somewhere within me, waiting for a time to pop out. So yeah as soon as the thought popped in my head I dumped it out without even a moment of hesitance. I guess in this culture we’ve been fed God, and people generally believe the most when they are desperate. A desperate situation brought a brief desperate thought, thankfully most thoughts in desperation aren’t very rational! I chose to swim — free will — and I nearly drowned from no food or energy — cause and effect. (Note: I remember this thought having more effect on me and bringing about more spiritual contemplation. Maybe I was lying to myself and trying to play it off as nothing in the journal, or maybe I really did just feel that way.)
I think deciding to stretch and drink juice before the swim may have been that edge that I needed. So yeah I lay there feeling beat up as shit, thinking of life and I believe avoiding the pointless resolve of promising one’s self that they would change. I’m pretty cool with where I am currently in life. I just regret some big things of the past, and do regret not having done certain things with my life up to this point. (Note: Again, I really wish I had elaborated. I don’t know what these regrets I refer to are.)
I laid there, stomach feeling sick, and suddenly felt the urge to vomit. Began coughing the about-to-puke cough and after a few more hacks I coughed up some vomit onto the ground, but didn’t really puke. It was also at this time that I felt like I had to shit. My stomach felt terrible, I still felt like puking, and I
regret regretted not having shit earlier. I imagined someone coming by and how on earth would I explain myself if I was there naked, muddy, vomiting and shitting. I wrote before leaving on this trip that I may puke on my own shit for fun. I wrote it as a joke but now it was nearly a reality. (Note: Ah, that’s the Nolan I know and love.)
I was trying to figure out a feasible way to shit and not get it all over my legs. I sat there thinking, wishing I’d never crossed the river; wishing I could just go home. If I hadn’t been naked I might have got up into the woods and walked until I was opposite my house, and then just shout until someone came out. But I was naked and this was obviously a hindrance. I mean how would I explain? So I just told myself I’d sit on shore until I felt better, no matter how long it took. I ended up not having to shit and nearly decided to nap, but once again I didn’t want someone to see my naked body laying ashore. I said at the beginning of this trip that I wouldn’t let pride stop me from going home if I thought I was in great danger, but the embarrassment and complication of being naked was too much. So I decided to swim back.
I think at this point I was as close to crying as I have been in over a year and just kept saying to myself that I wished I was back at camp and that I’d never swam across. (Note: The crying would have been from the breakup with Vanessa as breakups are the only thing that I’ve cried over in my adult life.) It was shortly after I didn’t feel like shitting anymore that I decided to start my swim. Picked out a spot where I’d roughly like to land and walked
in the along the water shore to a point where I thought I’d get drifted up by the current enough so that I’d land at my target. So yeah I was actually feeling alright; my body wasn’t really dizzy or sick. I jumped in. Right away I didn’t even get off to a good start this time. My body felt tired right away, though not depleted to the point of not being able to swim. I think I tried to swim more with the current rather than cutting my body through it. Oh yeah I think before I dived in to swim I was like I hope I don’t die, but if I do, I do. Almost already resigning to death. Was swimming and at about the halfway point my body really started to give. I had to concentrate and tell myself I had to push with all my life or this would be the end of it. I think I started getting scared here that I wouldn’t have the ability to get across, and this is something I’d thought of before I dove in on the swim over to Minnesota. At least I had juice and water before, now all I had was a wrecked body and the taste of juice in my mouth from the barf. I didn’t cover my crotch going across this time. The beavers could eat my penis for all I cared. I just wanted to make it ashore alive.
So yeah I was pushing and got to about the last quarter of the swim and my mind and body gave up. For what couldn’t have been more than two seconds, though it felt like nearly a minute, my legs would not paddle and my arms would not stroke. The current started taking me back out to the middle of the river while I simultaneously thought “I’m going to die,” and “No, I can’t die.” I once again forced myself to use the last bit of strength and swam against the current to get closer to shore. Was getting kind of close when my arms went out again, almost putting me all the way under. I think in this moment I lost consciousness momentarily. Came out of it and flipped over on my back. Kicked my legs. Got my arms moving again, and with a few strokes I landed on shore.
Lay there gasping, once again clinging to earth. 3/4ths on land, 1/4th in the water. My head was spinning to almost the point of passing out and I thought I was about to watch my heart explode out of my chest. But I was so happy that I made it alive. When laying over in Minnesota on the shore I thought about how that swim was one of the scariest things that ever happened to me. Now as I lay on the North Dakota shore I realized this had to be one of the happiest moments of my life. So I lay there for a few minutes and thought something like “might as well complete this,” and got my body on shore. I lay there for close to half an hour, naked, muddy, recovering and thinking of how dumb I’d been. How I nearly made a fatal mistake, how I felt so overhwelmed with joy to be back to safety. Okay maybe I was too tired to be overwhelmed, but it felt incredible.
As I lay a beaver or a woodchuck rose to the surface of the Red. When I saw it I got scared and ran up the rest of the bank onto the mainland. As I walked the few hundred feet back to camp I felt dizzy and kept on repeating what I’d been saying while laying on both shores — never again. Got back to camp, had some water and juice, then laid down. I think I journaled for a bit after I felt okay. Gathered some wood — still dizzy — and made a fire.
Kept on thinking about what happened to me. It was scary to relive. Also something in my mind told me that I should try swim back the next day if it looked calm, but yeah sometimes my mind has a mind of its own and says idiotic things such as that.
So I had my fire and chilled by it, listening to the tractor in the field next to me and just thought of nothing until I got to bed. Did the whole telling the animals to stay away thing again, but not nearly as much as the night before. I guess after almost drowning twice that day I just didn’t feel too scared. I’ve become more accustomed to the woods. Still kept the fire going until it was pitch black. Went to bed around midnight,
Didn’t wear the toilet paper again because it had been too hot the night before. Just wore socks, pajama pants, my t-shirt, and the over shirt. Despite being tired I never really did fall asleep all night. I may have drifted out once for like an hour or two but that was it. It was very uncomfortable because of the ground by my head being so uneven (I really should fix that) and there was mud all dried to my body from the swim and laying on shore.
Tried to scrape and pick the mud off my skin but it formed around the hairs on my arms and legs so taking it off was like having your hair plucked. Was too painful so I just did as best I could. One side of one leg was completely covered in mud and it was painful to lay with it to the ground but it was also the position in which I could breathe best. Also sometime during the night believe I heard an animal close to camp screech and it sounded like it attacked another animal. (Note: Holy shit I remember that! It was this total orgasmic blood curdle. Probably the only time I legitimately heard an animal while out there.) It only lasted a second and I thought it was real but I heard the exact same sound about an hour later so perhaps it was imagined. None of this really bothered or scared me much because I still kept on thinking about the drowning. It was in my head much of the night. When I heard the animal I slunk further back into my undone tent in the grave hole and pulled the top of it over my head. Didn’t move for a few minutes but I wasn’t shaking scared like I was on the first night.
Sometime during the night I got up to pee. While pissing I saw lightning off in the distance. I hoped it (I can hear someone talking and doing something over in Minnesota) would not come near but soon enough I could see lightning through the screen of my tent bag. It rained a few drops so I just held the other tent more over mine and laid back down. Never did get to sleep after that.
Morning I didn’t get out right as the sun came up because I was thinking about that animal noise. I think I may have slept for an hour or so around then. Got up and pulled my tent out of the hole and got a fire going with the wood I collected the night before. Oh yeah after I got back to camp that night before this morning, night of day three, I collected some wood while not wearing any pants, uh because I could. So I started my fire this morning, day four, and lay by it until like 3 PM.
Did nothing the whole time, just sat by the fire until it went out. Tried to sleep on the ground some. Didn’t get much sleep, an hour or two
separate for to every few hours of laying on the ground. Watched the clouds those float around for a few hours. Thought they were like invading spaceships since they are huge round spinning floating things in the sky that shoot down water droplets at us, almost like lasers. I didn’t fixate much on the whole drowning incident which was nice because it’s pretty scary to think of.
Got up, got some juice and laid back down. Also at some point I took my
pict picture for the day and called and left mom a message saying I was doing okay and that I was laying down because I had a pretty rough time the day before. Drank some V8 vegetable juice that is shitty. It has formed a filminess from sitting out in the sun. Only drank like 12 oz. of it and then started drinking another juice. It was too sweet — pina colada flavor — and I think I’m going to just throw both out tonight. It’s probably 8:30 now. I’ve been living off about one 48 oz. bottle of juice and about one and a half bottles of water per day. I’ll probably have a lot left at the end that I think I’m going to toss.
So yeah after leaving a message with mom I lay down for like four more hours. I told myself last night that I’d do nothing today, and that’s what I’ve done. (Note: Finally I accomplish a goal!) I haven’t left my campsite all day and haven’t gone further than twenty feet from my ground hole. When I was laying down two flies bothered me and bit me for a few hours, but I was too lazy to throw on my long shirt. When I finally did I saw that my arms were really bit up and sore. I guess when I get back I’ll have to wash them good.
For the rest of the night I’m just going to have a fire and a chill. After today I will be half done. It’s been like eighty two hours since I’ve ate but I’m not hungry and feeling good. Tomorrow I get drunk and get to fuck. It’ll be cool. Night.
Your Curdled V8 Drinking Narrator, GABFRAB:
P.S. Not much to say about this one. This was probably the most boring journal, despite recounting the most memorable incident — my drowning. I’m disappointed that I didn’t think to journal what my regrets were. There have been multiple times in these journals where I say I’m thinking random thoughts or about my life, but never elaborate on what those thoughts are. Too bad. Could be fascinating stuff.
I have yet to swim in the Red River again. After that incident I just have never felt compelled to. It’s interesting that I wasn’t thinking about it much the day after it happened. Though I guess I was trying to block it from my thoughts. Compare that to the fact that I was still bothered by thinking about my ex over a year after she dumped me. For some reason that seemed more affecting and important to the course of my life. Even with years of distance, that breakup seems more destructive to me than the drowning.
The near drowning doesn’t bother me at all anymore, whereas my hobo attacker from Minneapolis does. I swim to this day and still love it. Though always have my eyes peeled for hobos jumping in the pool. My mother and I sometimes canoe in the Red and my dog Pappy will swim along with us. She’s a really strong swimmer and will paddle over to Minnesota, run on the shore to adventure, then swim back to North Dakota and do the same. All while following us down the river. It’s so fun to watch. I pet her when she swims up to the canoe. I really need to write about my dogs sometime soon.
The fifth and final journal will be up in a few days. Then we can get over this ordeal and back to some good blogs. But the final journal is a good one. So I hope y’all enjoy it.