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Tyler Bauer: Rambling on Through Alphabet Soup

All roads may not lead home, but for Tyler Bauer, home is wherever those roads may lead him next. 


The 29-year-old adventurer and writer from Lawrenceburg, Indiana, lives full-time in his 2020 Toyota Tacoma with his 9-month-old dog, Maizee. Inside is a bed for one, a small custom-built desk and a lingering, distinct and almond-like aroma of notebook paper. Snippets of writing inspiration blossom and stickers litter the walls of the space he has called home for the last nine months.


Before the truck life came about, Bauer previously lived in his Kia Soul and was thinking of moving into a van to continue his journey. Considering all the traveling and offroading he does that a van could not handle, Bauer said he decided something with four-wheel drive was his best shot. 


With exploring different states and countries for the last 10 years such as Kentucky, Oregon, Colorado, Canada, Nova Scotia and most recently residing in Fayetteville, West Virginia, the truck has been converted to fit Bauer’s current lifestyle — a life that is made up of writing, rock climbing and traveling.


Before he set out to see the world, Bauer served in the U.S. Air Force for six years doing statistical analysis and database management. 


After his time in the Air Force, Bauer received an English degree at Xavier University which allowed him to focus on literature, and just last year completed his master’s of education in the English language at the University of Kentucky. 


Bauer now works full-time at New Roots Community Farm, a nonprofit agricultural resource center located in Fayetteville, West Virginia, and is able to continue living in his truck.  


“Living in the truck, it’s always something I wanted to do,” Bauer said. “Rock climbing is my other thing. I really like writing and I really like climbing. Living in the truck is a way for me to do both, and it’s been great.” 


The freedom of truck life does come with certain challenges from time to time. 


Bauer said the confined space can create a state of chaos and lack of stability. That lack of stability can range anywhere from easy access to heat in the winter to the difficulty of finding the space to sit down at a desk and craft anything longer than a poem.


But that has never stopped Bauer from writing. Living in his truck has played a significant role in fueling his creativity and love of words. From filling shoe boxes with poems as a kid to now filling notebooks to the brim with ideas, the small desk space he has set aside in his truck keeps his creative juices flowing. It’s a place he can sit, turn on his small wooden elephant lamp and write whatever comes to mind in the form of poems. 


“I’ve always been writing poems, I just didn’t know they were called poems. Because people have a weird view on what is and is not poetry,” Bauer said. “Poetry is kind of just everything, right? Like there’s weird things that happen, just look around and turn that into something, you know? It’s like a way of collecting inspiration from everything around me and using it.” 


This realization is what sparked Bauer’s interest in using a typewriter. 


In November of 2022, Bauer was out shopping around Peddlers Mall in Lexington when he discovered a 62-year-old typewriter. Though he didn’t buy it at first, Bauer quickly regretted his initial decision, leading him to go back and bring it home. 


“It kind of revolutionized the way I see writing and the joy of writing,” Bauer said. “It’s really fun to use a typewriter because it slows things down so much and it’s not just another screen. There’s also something in the sound of it printing immediately, it makes it a more meditative practice.” 


Since having the typewriter for a little over a year now, Bauer has found more excitement in using the typewriter to publish his thoughts and poems than a computer or his phone. He described the ways he loves how the typewriter replicates the imperfections our computers work to perfect. 


“When you tear things out, you know how it leaves that little bit of white on the edges, a computer can’t replicate that,” Bauer said. “I think that there is something so beautiful in doing something, but doing it imperfectly.” 


Before the typewriter, Bauer used to write things down in notebooks or loose sheets of paper, and they would disappear soon after or end up being stuffed in old shoe boxes. Now with his typewriter, Instagram account @writing_and_rambling and stickers covering the walls of his truck, Bauer has easier access to finding old poems and reliving the moments he created them. 


Bauer said using the typewriter in public spaces is often not an option for him because of how loud the typewriter is. The keys on Bauer’s manual typewriter are noisy in quieter settings, making places such as coffee shops unideal locations for writing. 

“If I wanted to write on the typewriter, it’s loud. Everybody would stop and look and then they’re like, ‘Who is this granola guy in here using a typewriter?’” Bauer said.


His poetry has included several recurring themes throughout his many years of writing, such as life, traveling, love and substance abuse.


With the exception of his dad, Bauer witnessed his entire family overdose on heroin. Seeing the substance abuse problem resurface in kids made his drive to inspire others through writing more prominent. 


“So I’m looking at writing and poetry as a way to help that,” Bauer said. “Even if I spend all my life writing bullshit poems, if it has the effect to change just, like, one outcome, that’s kind of the goal … find what you’re good at naturally and use that to uplift in whatever way you can creatively find a way to do so.”


His gift of writing led him to teach high school English for a year in Lexington. Bauer was able to be a light in some of his students' lives without them even realizing it. He wanted to help students recognize the beauty behind the art of writing, just as Kurt Vonnegut did for him. 


Bauer wanted students to see that English class is more than merely essay writing. He focused his teaching on out-of-the-box thinking and creativity while creating his assignments.


“When I was teaching, there were kids that would just have their heads down in class all day. And then I came in, and I’m not saying it was a change or whatever, just teaching poetry and tying it into whatever I possibly could, like classic hip-hop,” Bauer said. “Showing kids how there’s poetry in everything and being able to capture that and really recognize the beauty in things.”


Bauer referred to his English class as more of an art class because of the way words can be experimented with, messed with and paint detailed images in readers' heads. He noticed a stigma surrounding poetry in school and wanted to do his part to move past it.


“It always seems that girls are drawn to poetry, but guys are like whatever,” Bauer said. “But I think guys should change their own oil and write poems. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, it can be both at the same time. I’m just trying to bridge the gap and find a way to make writing fun again.” 


He wanted all his students to spend more time having fun with the art of writing and getting in touch with their own creativity they may have never known existed.


Built into the side of Bauer’s truck is a small wooden frame he found at Goodwill that contains his favorite quote of all time by Pablo Picasso, one that fully captures his philosophy on life:


“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”


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