Spring 2013 – Sierra Vista, AZ – After the craziness in Florida, I drove across country to my parent’s house in Sierra Vista, AZ near the border. Things were a bit rough. I had to leave my van, bike, and all my belongings behind at the Houston police headquarters. The first two weeks with my parents was brutal. They were supportive in a way that they kept me alive, but they brought over a psychiatrist who threatened to have me committed.
Edward Snowden had not yet leaked the info about the NSA’s PRISM monitoring system, so my tales of being monitored by the government in the wake of the Boston Bombing sounded like a tall tale to my parents. It was a counselor from the middle school my mom works at who finally explained to my parents I’m not insane – I’m just not a Christian.
I needed to build my writing portfolio quick, so I parlayed my experience with HuffPost and MainStreet into regular writing gigs with Lifehack, HardcoreDroid, and a Time Warner Cable content factory. Kino MacGregor, Wendy Day, Christine Assange, Anonymous, and Rachel Steinmetz all provided me with projects and support. I worked with the editors of the various publications I worked at on my skills in SEO marketing, keyword writing, layouts, photos, Photoshop, and basic writing skills.
Each project broadened my horizons to something new. I was gaining contacts in more HP verticals, stretching the creative boundaries of my imagination on Lifehack, and sharpening my business and writing mechanics with HardcoreDroid and TWC. Work was going great.
My personal life was in shambles though. My financial situation was a mess. I had to rent a car and drive to Houston and back to get my stuff out my van. I put over 2k miles on that rental car in the span of 2 days. I drove through some insane situations and stopped whenever I needed food, drinks, or just a quick break to sleep. I was caught in a hailstorm outside San Antonio the weekend before the tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma.
I enjoyed the freedom of the open road. I was so happy when I finally got my stuff. I spent the last 2 weeks living in my parent’s house with nothing but the clothes on my back and what little I had in my backpack. I gave my sunglasses to a crackhead during my first visit, so I didn’t go outside much. Having them back was a great feeling.
I had my yoga mats back, my clothes, a couple cases of beer, my hygiene supplies and food, and so much more. I was stoked. Living at my parent’s house became a lot more bearable when I had my creature comforts, but I still needed to get out. They’re hardnosed Christian Republican military vets living in a small city that only exists because of Ft Huachuca, the military intelligence capital of the US. Having a whistleblower son who walks the razor’s edge between the governments, corporations, and more isn’t easy for them to handle.
My willingness to experiment with drugs and usage of marijuana as an artistic aid doesn’t help. It also doesn’t make it easier that they feel the internet is just a game. They think I’m writing instruction manuals for some kind of phone game. I do actually do that, but the reason I do is because I’m notorious for fighting the system.
I didn’t have the room to practice yoga as much as I’d hoped, but I was able to get some meditation in. I worked day and night, through weekends and holidays, making sure I was on top of every game I was involved in. I watched HuffPostLive every day for nearly a month while I planned out my voyage to Phoenix. Moving to one of the hottest cities in the US isn’t the normal path people take, but I knew I’m better off finding a van replacement in a bigger city than I am in a smaller area. I’m too much of a city slicker. The songs I’m dancing to don’t play on small town radio. I made plans with some old friends and they brought me up to their home in Phoenix to spend the summer.
Summer 2013 – Gilbert, AZ – Before moving back up to Phoenix, we made stops in the Bisbee area to spend the weekend with some extended family. I discussed digital privacy with a border patrol agent (a conversation I’ve since had with a police officer, attorney, teacher, and government contractor simply to hear the different perspectives), and enjoyed country life. If you’re going to live in a small town, living in a bigger plot of land out in the boondocks is definitely the preferred option.
By June I was finally back in Phoenix, feeling like myself again. I’m currently living with my second family (although that may change sometime in the near future based on another situation). For the first time in a long time I’ve had a chance to stretch my legs and be myself in the comfort of a home. Their house is nice. It’s equipped with solar panels, a great kitchen (with an island), and great people. The vibes were enough for me to fully recover from my time in Clearwater.
I started getting calls for consulting work through my work on legislation with the CFPB, DFS, and more. I was invited to join both the Author’s Guild (dental/vision insurance = score!) and Thompson Reuter’s expert witness network. I have a few speaking gigs in the works for next year for my work in blogging and whistleblowing. Yoga is working out. Kino’s book has been detrimental in everything. I met a teacher who’s been helping me get my mind straightened out and refine my writing. We exchange grammar and writing tips randomly throughout the day. Overall life is good.
I’m writing this from a hammock while sipping on a mason jar drink while an adorable little cat and dog lounge next to me. Staring at the stars while a mister cools the breeze flowing over me is heavenly. There’s weed in the air, and bass bumping out the Harmon Kardon speakers from Despot. I have pending open offers with 3 political websites (including YourAnonNews and Muckraker). My editor at HD is giving me a column on top of my reviews. I’ve been playing the best of Android games to get acclimated. I’m working on some projects with yoga and Lifehack. We’re planning some cool stuff at HardcoreDroid. Summer in the city isn’t so bad afterall…
Brian Penny is a former business analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower and freelance writer. He’s a frequent contributor to Mainstreet, Lifehack, The Huffington Post, HardcoreDroid and an affiliate of Starbucks and Tiger Direct. He documents his experiences working with Anonymous, practicing yoga, and fighting the banks on his blog.