The Wanderlust Misfit

Don't Run From Anything, Run Towards Everything

Archive for the category “Journal”

NO MORE INTERNET FOR THE NEXT COUPLE OF MONTHS BECAUSE THIS IS THE WORST DISTRACTION FOR A FEEBLE UNCONCENTRATED MIND THAT HAS EVER EXISTED SO, IN THIS VERY LONG TITLE, I AM SAYING GOODBYE UNTIL EARLY 2013 SOMETIME BECAUSE I AM NO LONGER GOING ON THE INTERNET UNTIL I HAVE THIS BOOK FINISHED. WELL, I’LL PROBABLY POST THE REST OF THE REASONS TO RUN STORIES, BUT THAT’S IT!! NO MORE INTERNET!

For the time being, while I’m writing The Road Paved With Madness, I will cease most all internet usage. I can’t focus if I’ve been on the internet, too many sites and ads vying for my attention that when I go to write, my mind wanders, helplessly.
I must stop using the internet during this period of writing because the internet, as well as television which I have already limited, diminishes concentration and focus: spreading sunlight across many diverse lands dilutes the total power of light that can fill the one important land which you to intend to explore and develop.
!!STOP GOING ON THE INTERNET WHEN WORK NEEDS TO BE DONE!!

I will not be posting on this blog, save for any short-stories I may finish during this time, until I have finished this novel.

When I return in early 2013 here’s what you can expect:
– The Road Paved With Madness as a PDF and on e-readers, and in your hands!
– Blogging about hitchhiking
– Blogging about living on the street and all this may entail
– Blogging about vagabonding, including something furtively titled ‘The Poor Man’s Travel Guide’
– A new, contemporary remake of the Declaration of Independence
– Lots of anti-establishment vitriol
– A new form of surrealistic short-story, furtively called ‘Scene-Flashes’
and…
well,
to sum it up I’ll be living on the road, traveling and rambling and writing writing writing. My plans are to take my time hitchhiking back out to Los Angeles, seeing the Pacific Northwest on my way there, and, upon my arrival, reclaim my bed behind the bushes and then strike out to meet as many writers, artists and wanderers as I possibly can.

Also during 2013 (hopefully), visiting Rainbow Fest!! and all other exciting adventures I can’t yet fathom!!

Useless Time

If you don’t remember dreaming, did you dream at all? Likewise, if you do not remember an event occurring, can it be said to have never happened, if there is no one else to speak for the existence of the event? If a past event is so insignificant as to give you no reason to remember it (think of the inane: stepping over puddles, everyday conversations, going to the store), it must have no real reason to have ever existed. Your life, your current circumstances, are the product of a list of prior events. Well, if something happened to you that is so insignificant as to have no affect upon the outcome of this equation, than that event can be replaced by any other inconsequential event and, being so undefined, can be said to have never existed in the first place.

Now, How much of your life can you remember? For the rest must be of no significance, worthless and empty and therefore, truly, not even real.

Thus,  The majority of your time here has been absolutely nothing.

I suppose holes can easily here be poked but the original idea stands: if an event, moment or action can be so insignificant as to bear no affect upon you nor anyone else, can it be said to have never existed?

The Writer’s Mire

Last week I fell into a rut, a mire of self-pity that glooms the senses and dulls the wit. These ruts have been occurring with some frequency since last November when I first began writing, though the severity of these ruts has always varied. This last one was probably the worst, just from the length of it.

It all began on the 1st of December, a Saturday night. I’d written well all week and again on Saturday and I was feeling for a break. I drank a bit of parents’ liquor, bought a pint of vodka and went over to a friend’s. We went to the bar and I stumbled home in the fog around three in the morning.

That’s what kicked it off, because the next day I was hungover and I didn’t do shit. The unproductiveness had begun. It’s like you’re speeding down the highway and all is good, momentum carrying you right along and you’re writing well. Then out of nowhere the pavement turns to mud and you get stuck, and once you’re stuck you lose momentum and you learn how true the Law of Inertia really is, because once you’re stuck it’s pretty ugly to get unstuck.

Anyway…

I languished for a week, wanting to pound my head against the wall and lamenting my sorry wordsmith-ing. I believe I was able to get a story or two out, but nothing of significance. I tried to change it up, going to the library, etc, but my libido had disappeared and I got grumpy and for a couple of days there I was just an asshole which, actually, had some positive affect because the reason behind anyone’s ‘asshole-ishness’ is a weak ego — so you’re an asshole to boost your individual will. Like a Red-Bull for my self-esteem it was a quick boost and then a nose-dive.

For about a year now I’ve recognized, as a common factor in these bouts of languish, a certain loneliness. This isn’t to say I’ve been without friends, but since I’ve begun to write I’ve realized a potent need for camaraderie, a close group of fellow writers or anyone, really, motivated by discontent; other artists and vagabonds. Writing is a lonely profession, and it’s all too easy to get lost in the voids of your thoughts.

This is when I drink.

I get mired in self-pity feeling as though I’ve gone the wrong path, should’ve stayed in school and my writing isn’t anything special, I’ve been misled by my own delusions. Bottles bottles bottles. I start to drink to erase these thoughts and, also, it helps me pick around in my brain — back in Columbus sitting alone at the bar, getting disastrously slopped and filling pages pages and pages with introspection. I’ve found this to be a near panacea of mental discordance.

That was how I spent this Monday. I’d grown sick of self-pity and I needed to get out of my head and the only way to do this is to dive right in (my head). So I told my mom I needed twenty dollars to buy writing supplies and I bought a notebook and a flask of Southern Comfort and spent the night drinking and thinking and listening to music.

I knew I’d been here all before and that the only way I’d ever gotten back out was by writing; that in writing I was able to find my true ego and develop and maintain my own libido. That’s where I’d gotten, but it wasn’t so easy to get there. Once you can’t write the Law of Inertia holds true and if you force yourself you reinforce your pity because it always turns out that what you’ve tried writing here is never any good. But there was a way to right my head and I made myself a list. Here is…

A List of Things To Always Know:

1.) I am a genius     (narcissistic? no, it’s a necessity and it’s one I got from Kerouac’s Technique for Modern Prose.)

2.) I have a natural tack for clear, descriptive writing

3.) the novel is wonderful story need’s telling

4.) my future is success

5.) after I finish the novel I will take to the road and worry about nothing and I will write and enjoy simplicities of life

6.) after this novel I will find the friends i know I must meet

7.) focus on the wave I wish to ride and know with all of me this wave will bring true desired future

But, and here I’ll botch a paraphrase of Yoda — do not become so blinded by the future that you can not see the here and now, for now is what is important and now I must write. I need to read all of this tomorrow because I’m drinking right now. It’s become that the most of what I write are but attempts to sort out my own confounded thoughts. Understand the need to place faith in the flow, Love the wave you are on and be confident and excited.

Viva!

For all the disenfranchised, discontented youth who have the roiling urge to rip the heads off the standard-bearers of the status-quo and to shove a revolution down their throats. This decade’s for you.

Too Drunk

They had an open bar for Turkey Fest, an annual gathering of an ever-growing group of friends back home. So of course, I was going to drink as much as I could in two hours. We met up at a friend’s house before hand and drank there, caught a solid drunk, and carpooled to the bar. I knew everybody. Literally, these were all kids I’d gone to school with for eight years and there was a lot of catching up to do. Plus, it wasn’t that crowded and everytime I wanted another rum and coke (I’m pretty sure that’s what I was drinking) it only took a moment to wave over the bartender. The open bar went for two hours, ended at eleven. I don’t remember leaving.

At the next bar I can remember snippets, brief moments like vague swirls of dreams. I saw my old roommate and gave him about fourteen hugs. Then I talked to other people out front. Who? I don’t know. I didn’t talk to anyone in the morning, got a ride straight home, and the rest of the weekend I stayed in. I knew I was an idiot, a drunken stumbling bumbling mess  — ‘Someone can’t handle their liquor’ ‘What an idiot’ ‘What did he say?’ ‘Get him out of here!’– Everyone else knows what the hell I was acting like, whether a fool or an ass, and I feel bad about it. These are people I’ve known all my life, will know for the rest of my life. Going around town feels like everyone knows, everyone saw and everyone I pass scoffs and looks away. I’ve ran into a couple people I saw that night and it’s embarrassing, because I know they saw me as a drunken mess and I know that image is going to jump up behind their eyes everytime they see me and they’ll laugh or feel sorry and remember I’m a drunken-idiot mess. And I haven’t a clue what I did. That’s what’s embarrassing, the fact that I don’t know and everyone else does.

Well, hopefully I’ll learn my lesson and keep all this in mind next time.

Jersey Born,

Jersey Bred,

Jersey love till I’m dead.

Back to Jersey

Well, I’m back home in New Jersey. I’ve been here a couple of weeks, slacking off on my blogging save for the occasional short-story — which seriously, I’ll be having them out quicker, I swear!

Being home’s been kind of a speed bump, or more like tires stuck in thick mud after speeding down a highway. I’ve had a blast, seeing my home-town friends and getting irresponsibly drunk at the new bar that’s opened up in town and reconnecting with people I haven’t spoken with in years (though I can’t recall the conversations I’ve had). But still, I’m living at home now, and being in such a comfortable, quaint cozy place sucked out of me the urge to run, which is where I get my drive to write. The house I live in is very clean and proper, peachily decorated with knick-knacks and supplied with all of the modern technological distractions one could have. I have a large family, and we’re all squished into a small house. There’s always a lot going on here, and putting off writing to play the videogames I grew up with or to watch Star Wars and The Walking Dead all day — these distractions are difficult to endure, and being at home takes away my restlessness, fills me with content and the laughable tendency to lounge in comforting luxury. Indolent is what home makes me.

The above is a list of reasons I needed to get away to write; to live in minimalism, with nothing to do but to write. That’s what worked: having absolutely nothing and knowing that to ever have anything, the only thing to serve this end, would be to write. Having all the homely comforts I grew up with put a sludge on me creatively, motivationally. Over the weekends (that included Sunday) for the last couple of weeks I went out drinking, getting deliciously drunk and would spend the next day wallowing around the house with only a hangover to rationalize putting off work. Then I fell into a slump, rationalizing the slump with more bullshit. Then more drinking. Then Thanksgiving, more drinking, more bullshit rationalizing, and then the fear immobilization took hold. Thankfully. I realized I needed to get going again.

The best way for me to get back into writing? Get moving. I’ve been writing in a small room in the family basement, using earplugs to drown out all the noise from upstairs and a sheet serving as a wall to keep me out of sight from all the people walking back and forth. So this morning I got up and went right to the public library, my old ‘between the book-shelves’ stomping ground. I wrote well, and I’m pleased how it went. I’m filled with motivation again. Writing and moving has got me doing just that: writing and moving, productivity and the motivation to pull into existence the future I so desire.

This will continue to be a challenge for me though, and one I haven’t put myself to in a while. I will have the constant threat of complacency, bred from at-hand comforts and entertainment and easy intoxication, the whole of the time I am at home. And I will be at home until I finish these stories and this novel — only then can I get back to the road.

The time to discipline myself has come high and urgent. I must be out of here early enough to begin working, so that I might save enough to take to the road with enough money come the thaw of winter. It’s a race against time, and the discipline I must put myself through can only be of benefit. Each day I must have done a draft of a short-story, with the goal of having a Reason To Run published, at the very most, every other day. I need to blog every day. As well as comment on other blogs, that being the only important way to get traffic. I need to study, reading and analyzing other writers. And I found an online magazine called Vagabonds, an amazing publication, completely free and all about the re-emergence of literature in a new form (and the breaking away from that ever-more restrictive society you sheep are lost in 😉 )

I’m back to work! And it feels very, very good.

Walking

Last night I decided I would walk to LAX; it isn’t a far walk, I saw the map on Google and judged the distance myself: some buildings and streets here, a little swatch of bare ground there, and then the airport. Simple.

Well, it took me two and half hours longer than I’d expected, but I didn’t seem to notice. I have this thing where, once my feet start moving, so too does my head. My shoes’ll walk and my head’ll talk. Feet and networks of neurons wandering simultaneously. It passes the time quickly.

I wrote how, over the past few days, I was feeling rather morose, like stuck in the sludge of despair with no way to pull myself out. Walking turned that around. After about an hour I’d walked far enough south that I didn’t recognize anything around me and felt as though I were walking with feathers. Though, for whatever reason I decided to bring my knapsack with me, and that I regretted (it weighed in at forty-five pounds at the airport). But oh well. Walking gets me high, especially when I’m surrounded by things I haven’t seen before. Even if it’s just Starbucks and pizzerias and mundane city streets, the layout is different, the people are different, the whole place is different and everything feels, just, new. And exciting. And wildly breathtaking. So that after a while I’m looking with diamond-cut eyes turned up at the tops of the buildings and houses in a heart-pounding, nonsensical awe. But everything is absolutely wonderful. And everybody stops to talk.

Try this as a mind-fuck of a thought-experiment. Imagine yourself as being on an alien planet, without having ever heard of aliens or ever having left the neighborhood you grew up in. But the whole time you were desperately anxious for experience. And you find yourself on an alien planet where everything around you, the buildings, the plants, the geography, the creatures, everything is nothing you’ve ever seen before. Let everything absolutely, purely amaze you and fill you with child-like wonder.

Try it. Liquor and pot help.

Walking’s a blast. The mind and the eyes simultaneously scoping unknown regions of space and time and you become enthralled knowing that all exists. What’s down this road? What are they doing in this building? I wonder if they’re cooking dinner or fucking on a new bed? So many places of infinite possibilities. Keep in mind the idea that if you can’t see a region of space, than anything could be going on in there. I wonder what’s behind this door? It’s the reincarnation of Lincoln. Who knows? Wonder at it. And while you’re at it go read Reasons to Run. It’s just to the right   ====>

plane tickets and moving again: Replanning

I had been feeling pretty awful, not depressed or anything, just helpless. And I had lost all drive to write. It all stemmed from realizing the helplessness of my situation, that I was doomed to the street and would have to eat out of the garbage or panhandle and beg and that I wasn’t going to find a job because every day out here my clothes get dirtier. That’s what I was down about. I felt I no longer had control, was stuck in this, and this helpless feeling killed all drive to write — that’s how it works. Yesterday I was emailed a plane ticket back home. That changed everything. I didn’t feel proud about having to go back to my parents for help but if I didn’t want to eat out of a garbage, it’s all I had to do. The immediate effect on my mood was stark. As if a black shadow lifted off me I felt myself brighten, excited by the prospect of getting the fuck out of Los Angeles — as much as I love it. The helpless feeling that I’d been mired in washed away and suddenly motivation was driving me again. The only thing — I had to print out the tickets. And I only had one dollar left.

Of course this didn’t go over easily.

I spent an hour and a half in the public library trying to print out the emailed tickets. I had to wait for people to spend 45 minutes on the 15 minute computers, try to get the librarian to show me why nothing was working, argue to get my seventy-five cents back because the printer twice refused to print out a very important section of the email, and finally I gave up, left with half the email printed and only twenty-five cents left in my pocket.

My flight isn’t until Friday morning but I decided I would go today to the airport to work everything out, make sure I’d be able to get on the plane. The walk turned out to be a lot farther than I’d intended (about five miles). GoogleMaps seems to do that a lot to me. But walking lets me sort my head out, and here’s what I came up with:

I’m not proud about taking the easy way out; there’s a part of me that wishes I’d stayed and toughed it out, gotten a job and worked my way back east like I’d planned. But I decided this isn’t the time for that. I need to write, and spending all day looking for jobs and scraps of food isn’t helping. Hitchhiking out to California was absolutely amazing and I in no way regret coming out here when I did. I only wish I’d gone about it differently. What I should’ve done: been a responsible adult for once and actually saved a good amount of money while I was working in Ohio; then, either hitchhiked back east before the money ran out or spent the first week in LA doing nothing but finding a job. What I actually did: blew all my Ohio money on beer and spent the first week in LA writing instead of finding a job. So here’s the new plan: Go back east for the holidays to finish writing The Road Paved With Madness, like I had planned, but this time also finish up the series of short stories. I now get to start all of this a month earlier then planned, which means, come warm weather, I’ll be able to hitchhike back out to LA even sooner in the Spring. After I finish the series and the novel I’ll go back to Ohio, save up GOOD money, then hitchhike back out, immediately get a job washing dishes (not many places hire in the off-season, but come Spring…) and continue to live in the streets. I’m going to go all in, finally. I decided I enjoyed being an ever-filthy vagabond and that is was the being dirt poor broke that got to me, the not-having-food-to-eat. It’s amazing, really, because when you have food hunger is a lot less bearable; when you know you can’t eat you don’t get hungry so often. So, I want to live on the streets but have enough money to eat a little bit each day. So I’m going to work the minimum amount of hours I can. I’m only going to work to eat. Fuck rent. The bushes were free. I want as much time as I can possibly have to write write write and meet other writers and vagabonds and poets alike and wander the streets in a gorgeous daze feeling everything at once with the inside of my chest and only live and write. This is the only way I can see to do that. I’ll work maybe ten hours a week and live and eat and ramble with the wildlife along the sidewalks of Venice. And of course, blog it all.

Wednesday, Nov 7th — Ranting, Lunatics?

Last night after I realized I was stuck on the street, I cracked. I was piss-broke and I cracked and sent an email to my parents asking for a plane ticket home. The plane ticket came through this morning via email. I have to go print it out and hope that my last dollar is enough.

Yesterday after I showered at St. Joseph’s I signed up for a meal. I’m hungry and sick tired of peanut-butter sandwiches. I walked to St. Joseph’s this morning and the man at the counter gave me directions to a small restaurant a few blocks down. You can’t see the ‘restaurant’ from the street but it’s on a corner and I saw a couple of street-sleepers straggling around to the alley. I followed. In the back of the building is an overhang and then a door with a metal-bar gate. Some people were waiting around the door, sitting or standing and looking worn-out weary. A woman in front of me walks over to the gate and the man sitting closest to the door stands up and holds it open for her.

‘What, are you just opening it because I’m a woman?’ She puts her hands on her hips.

‘I’m being a gentleman!’

‘Yeah, but you’re not opening for everybody, obviously.’ She juts her hip out to the side.

‘You can hold it for me –‘ The man holds it open and I walk inside. The ‘restaurant’ is one room the size of a two-car garage. Tables are set out, napkins and utensils and chairs, but the room lacks the comforts and furniture, the nick-knacks and picture frames of a for-business restaurant. The place looks bare, naked. I see a man walking around setting out cups and I get his attention.

‘You have to wait outside. Are you signed up? Okay, yes, what we do is we have everyone wait outside and then at 9:30 we open the doors. And you can sit down where ever you want, we’ll bring the food out to you. All we ask is that you clear your place.’

I walk back out. More people have arrived. I walk through the crowd by the door and into the alleyway to smoke a cigarette. The woman is still arguing about the door. Her face is dirty, she’s mid-forties and she has thick, blonde hair past her shoulders. She’s wearing a jacket and a skirt, skinny smooth tan legs. She’s surrounded by men. They’re bickering about the differences between men and women, serious but joking in a flirtatious sort of way. She had a big mouth that didn’t close and she’d egg them on, then they would volley retorts and gender-specific insults, and the man who had originally held the door open, he wouldn’t stop talking and the woman would put her back to him so that she was facing the other men, twirl her hair and make her hand talk in mimicry. Then she’d say, “Yeah, right, Okay. Whatever. Mm-hm. Sure.’ She was loving it, egging them on to keep their attention, soaking up the attention like a school-girl being flirtatiously teased by the popular boys.

Along the back of the building was a fence. There was a man sitting here, perhaps twenty-seven years old. He had an average build, brown hair, a friendly face, and his t-shirt was worn thin and ripped wide around his neck, his baggy black pants covered in mud and ripped along the back of both pants from foot to knee. He was sitting on the fence talking and talking between periods of sedated concentration, but there wasn’t anybody in front of him.

‘How is it in the desert? How is the Salt Lake? Can you transmute for me? Transcend and send me the energy because I have none.’ He sat there talking as if it were an ordinary conversation, his face relaxed and serious. ‘Can you reach the Death Star in my dimension? I’m stuck here, transmute me the energy.’ Then his eyes closed and his elbow rested on his lap, his hand upturned as if a bowling ball were placed in it, his fingers straining against an unknown force and his face tightening to a strenuous grimace, his whole body began to shake. Then he relaxed. ‘I could not receive it. The energy was cut off by an unknown force. Destroy all life-forms in the empty void.’ Destroy all life-forms in the empty void. That really got me.

For breakfast we had Spaghetti Obama. I sat next to a tall black man who wasn’t much older than thirty-five. He told me he used to be a boxer. He was very friendly and spoke with an accent so that I assumed he had immigrated here when he was a teenager. I forget his name and he told me that boxing, that being in the ring and trying to read the other boxer while being punched, that this had knocked something loose in his head so that he could now read everyone, feel them, he said. He explained it like being in the woods and searching for someone or an animal. You can’t see them but all of your senses are heightened and you see over here and over here, everywhere at the same time. You cannot see but you can feel it, you can feel them and where they are. That is how it is, he said. He proceeded to read the three of us at the table with him. You, he said to me, you are out there. You, you will never change, and you are uninteresting. We all laughed.

Tuesday, November 6th

The job hunt is turning out worthless. And I’m just about out of money. Walgreens and Freebird Burritos have both told me I have the job, pending the return of my background checks. Freebird Burritos has been waiting TWO WEEKS for my background check. They emailed the head office, or whoever is in charge of the checks, and it turned out they never received it. So although I’ve been guaranteed the job, I can’t start there for another week at the least. Walgreens. It sounds like I passed the piss-test but them too, waiting on this damn background check for over a week! I”M HUNGRY! Just hire me already. Fucking bureaucracy bullshit. I went back to the Brick and Mortar restaurant, talked with the assistant manager (who was young and very attractive with a sleeve-tattoo, that’s the kind of cool-ass restaurant it is) who said she’d email me tomorrow about the job, busing tables. Only problem is the restaurant is about two miles from the marina and my clothes are really getting grimy — I don’t know if they’re expecting me to look clean and nice. I have one dollar left. I spent the other dollar on a loaf of bread and you bet I’m still looking through trash cans for food. Awesomely, I found half a pack of cigarettes in one of the garbages.

Here’s where I stand: hungry and worn-out, penniless and grimy and ready to get off the street. It takes a toll on you, the helplessness of the situation like a tide of stagnant sewage water that keeps rising when your feet are stuck in the mud. Sitting at the Talking Stick with my laptop I sent Marcia a text via Facebook.

‘hey. what time do you get out of work tonight?’

‘What is your cell phone not working?’

‘Nope. Out of minutes. I was going to see if i could come back to your couch. only for a couple of days though, i’m getting a plane ticket back. I stopped by earlier but i didn’t see your car so i figured you had work.’

‘Yeah… my couch isn’t available though… Sorry.’

‘Eff! what is someone else staying on it?’

I considered this the end of our friendship. I don’t know exactly what happened but it was very disappointing, disheartening. Knowing that I now had nowhere to turn and was stranded to the streets. Perhaps she thought I was using her for a place to sleep. Maybe she really took it hard when I told her she was overly pessimistic, a ‘debbie-downer’ with a total lack of self-esteem whose negativity was driving people away from her (I’d only said this to her after she’d lamented how her roommates kept moving out on her. She didn’t understand why and after spending a few days thinking it over, that was the conclusion I’d derived). Or, maybe it was because I told her I would totally sleep with her roommate, who she hates.

But mostly I think it was disappointment. I think she was imagining me as a sort of ‘knight in shining armor’ who was going to come make her happy, take her out to dinner and be real romantic and such. Text messages and phone calls over the past year and half have led me to thinking this. I think she was anticipating a romantic relationship between us, and once she realized this wasn’t going to be, that’s when she began to pull away, took back the offer of me riding her bike and soon thereafter, sleeping on her couch. This is all a bummer, but honestly, she herself was quite a bummer so I cannot say this is the most terrible thing, but it is saddening that I’ve lost a friend. Seems that changes in the past two years were not surmountable.

I’ll go curl up behind the bushes now.

Monday, Nov 5th — Surprise!

I’ve been worrying every morning that someone is going to see me and call security, or, even worse, the cops. So every morning as I’m crouching behind the bushes waiting and listening I see in my head how my sleeping bag and clothes are going to be gone when I return in the evening, how the hole in the bushes is going to be patched up, or how there is going to be a group of concerned citizens waiting for me with torches and tasers ready to fry the homeless kid.

This is the worst part of the day. The sun has just risen and the marina glows orange. The bushes are thick so that only a little light gets through and I’m crouching there in the dim shade, unable to see the promenade or if anyone is coming. All I can do is listen, listen and wait, hope for the coast to be clear. I hear two people coming up and I sit still, letting them pass. When I can no longer hear their squeaking shoes I make sure I hear nothing else — it’s just the rocking of the yachts. The branches swish and rustle as I crouch through the opening in the bushes and hop down from the wall; my sneakers make a smacking sound as they hit the promenade. Damnit! I’ve jumped out right in front of a woman walking her Scottish-terrier. Quickly I take out my cellphone and pretend to be busy, pretend there’s nothing wrong here; a nonchalant elbow resting on the wall. ‘Hey Mark, it’s Brian. Yeah. I checked the sprinklers, they all seem to be fine. Yup. The nozzles and pipes, got ’em. Check.’ The woman’s mouth fell open, red tongue white teeth, and she used her hand to close it, walking by with a quickened pace and never taking a second glance. She had jumped when I came out of the bushes and this rattled the big brown sunglasses on her over-tanned face. She left her glasses stay crooked on her face and she kept walking, too surprised to even look back. There’s no one else out yet and I get away without being seen twice. But I’m going to have to start waking up before the sun, I suppose.

I have a white plastic bag with me with peanut butter and bread in it. The St. Joseph Center, where I’d visited yesterday, opens at 8:30 and I planned to get there and see if they had showers. Their webpage said they did. I get down there around eight o’clock and I sit out on the front steps and make myself a couple peanut butter sandwiches, saying hello good-morning to the passers-by. Well-dressed employees are walking in and out and there is a couple homeless people gathered around, waiting for the center to open. One of the guys, he’s drinking a coffee and he’s one of those obviously insane homeless you see. He’s talking to someone who isn’t there, walking around doing stretches with his morning Starbucks in his hand while his other hand, the fingers gently dance and prod in the air as he talks and sings.

At eight-thirty I walked inside. ‘Hi, what can I do for you?’ asked the security guard at the desk. ‘Is this a homeless shelter?’ ‘We have services for the homeless.’ ‘Are there showers here?’ ‘No, but if you’re looking for showers, you can go here, to the St. Joseph on Lincoln.’ The guard slid a business card across the counter. ‘Where on Lincoln?’ ‘Just go out here to Rose, go all the way to Lincoln and make a right. It’s… two blocks down, on your left.’ ‘And they have showers there?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Awesome! Thanks a lot!’ I was looking filthy and  I realized I need to clean up before trying to find a job.

The St. Joseph Center on Lincoln is a featureless, square building with the front windows and door barred shut. It’s on a corner and around the side, in the back, I can see a handful of dirty-clothed people mulling around smoking cigarettes. I walk to the back and find the door, go inside and get in line. I’m standing in a square room with folding chairs lined up, a few tables to the side, and a line of homeless people waiting to check in at the front desk. The front desk is a podium with a computer chained to it, a young man with glasses taking everyone’s information. The podium is in a doorway and behind him I can see more rooms, a counter with a sink, cabinets and a telephone. There’s a security guard in a t-shirt standing next to him. I sign in, tell him I need a shower and to do laundry, and he tells me the shower is full for the day but that if I’d like to wait I can shower if someone doesn’t show up. Also, the washing machine is broken. Ok, fine, I say. Would you like to sign up for a meal? No, that’s okay. The man gives me a funny sideways eye when I said no, as if he all of sudden didn’t think I was homeless.

There were a few people I recognized, whom I’d seen walking around or hanging out at the boardwalk. Most of the people here were older, mentally deficient drug-abusers but there were a few younger people my age. I thought about saying hello, introducing myself and perhaps befriending a few people, but I was in my head, introverted and not in the mood to open my mouth. I watched the people come in and out, lolling about in line, feet up in chairs sleeping with jackets over their heads. This was a colorfully despondent bunch. Bicycles laden with spare toaster parts, filthy clothes and grime-stained duffle bags, baggy, ripped clothing and the smell of weeks’ old body-odor like a crusted layer of stench that reaches the nostrils with a head-shaking backyard-rotten stench. When the bathroom door opened you could smell the stale piss, and also I saw there was a shower in there. I grabbed my plastic bag, which was filled with toiletries as well as my breakfast, and I went in, shut the door and hurriedly showered. I was only in for five minutes, but still there was a banging on the door. I showered quick and cold, got dressed and slipped out the back door. Outside there was a skinny black man sitting on the curb, smoking a cigarette and yelling to nobody about the dangers of public urination.

 

October 28th

Last Sunday, not this past Sunday but the one prior, I was feeling kind of down about not finding a job, somewhat lonely in this new city of mine. I did a bit of job searching, gave up figuring it was Sunday afternoon and not many places are open anyway (every place was open but I needed a way to rationalize doing nothing productive). I had seventy dollars left. I took a twenty out of my bank, which is a pocket in my Carhartt coat, and went to the liquor store.

Here was my plan: pint of cheap vodka, whatever greasy food I could then afford, watch the sunset and delve into my Dionysian Desires and feel happy for a while.

It was gorgeous.

I took off my shoes and rolled up my pant legs and plopped down in the cool sand. I ate a delicious greasy gyro and felt filled. I drank some of the soda and filled the rest with as much vodka as I could, put the top back on. The bottle was in a plastic bag and I drank that quick while the sun set.

I’ve seen the sun rise over the Atlantic. This was the first time I saw it set over the Pacific. It was, well, pacifying: The bright yellow orb slowly sinking and I could see the space between sun and horizon slowly shrinking. As the sun got lower it grew dimmer and I found I could stare at it, could see the roundness of the sun and as I stared at it the sun turned purple, everything else pink. Awesome. And for the first time I saw the column of light the sun lays down across the ocean like a column of satiating Heavenly-orange light coming right at me. I sat there and got drunk. I saw the sun meet the ocean and slowly slip bright burning red into the depths. Afterwards I got up and walked around. I felt wonderful and I talked to many people, including a man who had been on the pier all evening photographing the setting sun. He was from New York and we talked a while. Standing on the pier the leftover sunlight was a dim glowing, blood red splotch along the horizon. It disappeared finally and I stood out on the pier and looked back at the beach and Los Angeles. To my left, the north, I could see the black outlines of the mountains against the dark blue sky. The mountains were mostly black save for a few places that were well lit. I saw Hollywood like a blanket of lights that ran up the side of the mountains. West of this the mountains were again black until another blanket of light was laid along the side of the mountains. I could even see the threads of these blankets, strings of lights roughly parallel, following the contour of the mountains. Then again it was black. Along the coast to the north, where the mountains jut west into the sea and form the northern boundary of the cove where Los Angeles sits, there was a thin line of lights here along the coast. It was all black until a little nook of lights. That was Malibu. To the South was a smaller mountain with the lights of Long Beach. I thought this was real cool: to the southeast was a line of bright dots in the sky, planes streaming in, coming into the airport. The line never ended. I stood there and watched as stars would brighten until I could tell they were moving. Then the stars, or planes, rather, would swoop in these long curves and fall in line and glow brighter and brighter until they disappeared behind the skyline.

I’m liking Los Angeles more and more.

Reason to Run

In case any of you were wanting to read about this last hitchhiking tour, even though there aren’t too many of you following this blog yet (I notice these things, ya know), I’ll begin posting pieces of it in a couple of days.

I’ve decided to cut the trip into fragments and make a series of stories out of it. Each story will be 1,500 – 2,000 words and they’ll each be called ‘sodes’ for no other reason than because ‘sode’ is shorter than ‘episode’ and sounds a whole lot more ‘new-wave’ and ‘edgy’. There should be about 20 – 25 sodes in all.

The title of the series will be ‘Reason to Run’ and each sode will show a point that plays into the overall theme of the series. Hopefully the points don’t go over everyone’s heads. And while each sode will be based on actual events that took place during the trip, I’m taking the liberty of eschewing all facts and writing in surrealism and pretty much doing whatever the hell I want with it. If you’d like, you can take these stories as things that actually happened or as things that didn’t happen.

Distractions and Doubt

I came across an awesome post this morning that really got me thinking. Here’s what I had to say:

“I think that for a person to truly write, all distractions must be done away with so that the writer can having nothing but writing on his mind. This entails what you called the ‘drastic lifestyle change’ — taking the plunge. I find it hard to do something else when I know I need to write and this makes it difficult to keep even a part-time job. That said, I’ve ditched most of my possessions, college, profitable work, and much of my social-life (bridges don’t so much burn as they do fall apart). I now have nothing left going for me except for writing. Nothing left to do but to write.

And here is my only remaining distraction: Was the plunge the right idea? Did I totally fuck over my life by putting everything on the line for the small chance that I might actually become a successful writer? Is it time to act like an adult, get a real job, and like everyone else place my only passion as a hobby?
Doubt. It’s the only distraction/subtraction so corrosive that it kills all creativity.”

The only way I’ve been able to rid myself of doubt is by believing that I have done right, by having faith in what I’m doing.

Love your life and the path you have chosen. Fill yourself with incredible ecstatic joy for what it is you are doing. You have chosen this. Fall in love with your life, because the only way you can bring about the future you desire is to have endless love for the world you strive for. And once you do this, creativity will make your blood tingle. And it won’t stop.

(This is all potently narcissistic, and that topic I’ll save that for another post.)

For My Halloween Costume…

I bought a piece of beige cloth, wrote ‘DHARMA’ on it with a magic marker, and used safety pins to attach it to the backside of my pants. With it I’ll be wearing my usual clothing — a flannel with a ripped shoulder and a pair of dirty jeans with their own little hole.
Question is, will anyone get it? Will anyone appreciate the cheap simplicity and genius of my costume? Oh well. Who cares. If no one gets it at least it will be a good conversation starter!
Cheers for the holiday!!

Bluegrass Basement — No Boots

The bar was in the basement of an upscale restaurant. Along the walls and in-between the couches and tables were displays of antiques; old typewriter, butter-churn, record horn, and the lights were low, dim yellow tinted red from the shades cupped up on the walls. Small, white candles in tall glasses on each table. The bar was in the center, long oak counter running square, and as you followed it around you passed tables, chairs, people standing in groups and people in bar-stools, little tables rounded by ottomans, the bathrooms and to the back of the bar long cushioned benches along the wall, low tables in front.

Here was the stage: A square cove was pushed back in the corner of the wall, ten square foot stage. Red rug and dark wood panels, low light red tinted from the shades cupped against the walls.

Four of them whispering together before the strings twang. The bass on the right begins thump, thump, boom thump — fingers flipping at thick strings, bass player with broad shoulders, barrel-chested and heavy faced. Thump, thump, boom thump. The old man on the left brings in his guitar, acoustic simple riffs playing pah pah, ker pah pah — and he begins to sing, low and soulful scratchy voice, sounding think the way his forehead wrinkles thickly, scrunched soulful over closed eyes. And the banjo comes in, curly black hair and a blunt-nose kid cradles his banjo under his arm and plays, standing tall and loose rhythmical tapping foot. And the fiddle, the fiddler long-faced and serious, glasses with thick and black top rim only, long nose and the fiddle stuck in the crook of his neck as his head looks down, shoulders stooped as his bow flicks twangs off the strings.

Thump, thump, boom thump ker pah pah pah une ker pah pah. And the music picks up just like this: two of them singing now and the bass steady, guitar in the back and the fiddle and banjo stand center, the two of them playing delightful while the old man sings and moans beautifully. All of them barefoot. Above them the bare aluminum of air-conditioning ducts and red gas pipes twisting a network of fumes above their heads. Two younger guys in the front, in front of the crowd standing just in front of the band, clapping and stomping and driving them on. The banjo flicks quick fingers up and down the fret board making strings sing and the bass making bounce the bump bump, thump boom thump, the old-man guitar riffing gritty and slow, keeping pace to his voice. They wear flannel shirts, sometimes open showing hair, dirty jeans rolled up above ankles and barefoot. The banjo comes forth now, the other instruments fading to background, supporting sounds, as the banjo fingers pick up moving back and forth in chords and flicking strings, the banjo player leaning back real skinny in the shoulders and letting loose the sounds of the banjo he cradles in his arm. He plays and crescendos and right then the fiddle makes debut, long screech and bursting forth its gorgeous back-woods sounds. Fiddler with his head down. He plays and plays and tall and lanky, head down, shoulders hunched, where the fiddle cocked in the crook of his neck. And it picks up, the fiddle screeching and crying and bursting choir choruses from the strings flicked with the bow, the fiddler has been stomping now and is kicking both his feet. Head still down and shoulders hunched he leans back, eyes closed, and is hopping jumping foot stomping to the crescendo and the two wild ones in front of the crowd dancing and stomping clapping overjoyed with the beauty of bluegrass country back-woods magic and the two start cheering as the fiddle crescendo tops and tips the band breaks it off in clean final note and the two of them cheering hearing no one else. They turn around. Mink coats and high-heels, tweed jackets and shined shoes.

Perhaps to be better dug somewhere else.

Los Angeles

I arrived in Los Angeles Saturday evening, having to take a bus from El Monte far enough into downtown L.A. for my ‘host’ to pick me up. Riding on the bus I wanted to explode excitement, run out the door bumping people all over, and take off down the street, staring at everything and taking everything in. But, I sat there quietly and knew I had to stay on course and not make my ride wait around for me. For the next month or so I’ll be sleeping on a couch in Marcia’s apartment. We’re friends from high school who’ve done a good job keeping in touch and, after telling me to come to Los Angeles for the past two years, finally convinced me to make the trip (the comfy couch being the decision-swaying factor). So I put in my two-weeks at the ol’ job, paid off my last roommate, got into fight with my other roommate, packed a bag and left, spent the next week hitchhiking across this magnificent country.

Marcia lives in a two-bedroom apartment in Venice Beach, about a mile from the ocean. Her and her roommate, Isabelle, are apparently grinding edges and I heard a bit about it on the drive into Venice: they were good friends, now they aren’t, and dreams of strangling one another are looking more and more like real possibilities. Isabelle goes out of her way to put Marcia down and Marcia has no clue why.

One of the first things Marcia told me upon getting in the car was that driving with her was more dangerous to my health than hitchhiking. She also commented she had turned into quite the grandma since last I’d seen her. Anyway, we went out for a bite to eat, Marcia lamented her laziness and terrible parallel parking skills, and afterwards we stopped at the liquor store, bought some beer, and returned to the apartment.

There’s roof access to the apartment that I’ll be staying in and instead of going out, which was just fine because Marcia had work early the next morning, we sat up on the roof and had a couple beers, talked and caught up and all that jazz. Marcia called Isabelle and Isabelle stopped by.

The tension was palpable. I saw daggers shoot out of Isabelle’s eyes the first time I saw her look at Marcia. Then Isabelle said something referring to ‘New York Jews’, and when Marcia mentioned that it was all Mexicans that ran the kitchen where she worked, Isabelle called her out and said Marcia was being racist. Double-standard was obvious.

Over the next couple of days I spent some good time with Marcia and it became evident she was having a self-esteem crisis. She’d even mentioned it herself, saying she had low self-esteem. Isabelle was evidently getting to her and Marcia had commented on this as well. Marcia was beginning to come off as the grandma she described herself: overly-cautious, fearful of criticism and doubtful of her abilities, lamenting how she was no longer any ‘fun’. I went to a barbecue with her yesterday and Marcia made a spinach dip. It was very good. But Marcia kept fretting that we wouldn’t like it, that something was wrong with it and furthermore wrong with her. Marcia told me about another roommate she’d had. They had started off as good friends, just as the case is with Isabelle, and, sticking to the pattern, this roommate had taken to distancing herself from Marcia, just as Isabelle now is. This has led Marcia to believe that it is she who somehow drives people away. Curious enough, the third roommate had visited a psychic who told her there was a person in her life who was a ‘black-spot’ that was dragging her down. For the next month this roommate avoided Marcia and moved out.

So, I got drunk at the barbecue. And on the ride back I decided to confide some thoughts to Marcia. It was only her and I in the car. I told her I thought she was overly pessimistic. That she needs to work on her self-esteem and be more confident with herself. I forget exactly how I worded all of this but she asked me for examples and I provided some and I didn’t mean to be offensive or sound mean or like I was trying to belittle or do harm, but when I woke up this morning Marcia sat down to talk with me, and, surprisingly, she told me there was a lack of communication regarding how long I’d be crashing on the couch. I was of the idea that I’d be spending at least a month there. Turns out I have two weeks to find alternative sleeping places! haha. But it’s not funny. I feel like I hurt her and I didn’t mean to, I was saying all of this with the best of intentions, because a pessimistic, unconfident personality has a lot of negative energy, and not only does this negative energy feed into itself, causing more and more events to transpire that lessen one’s belief in their self, but this negative energy seeps into the spirits of everyone who spends too much time around them, bringing down everyone they associate with. Moods are infectious. People feel happy around happy people and when someone gets angry or down it invariably wears off on others. Marcia felt she was the common factor in the disappearance of her roommates and friends, and I though perhaps this piece of advice could somehow help.

Anyway, I still have to talk to her about all of this. I only saw her briefly this morning and I’ve been out all day running around looking for a job. I’m going to have to apologize, say I’m sorry if I sounded mean or insulting, and hope she gets over it and lets me stay as long as I want!

Hitchhiking Lives!!

I made it!

After a week of rambling across the North American continent, I made it. It took me just over one week and it was one of the most exciting, desperate, heart pounding, soul freeing experiences I’ve ever had. I survived on peanut butter sandwiches and Pop-tarts and apples and oranges, slept in the woods and open fields and almost froze my ass off in the Arizona desert and I woke up on separate occasions covered in slugs and ants. But you know what, I met the coolest bastards and sang at the top of my lungs with rambling saints and rode with addicts and truckers and now it’s time to soak up the sun and liquor and good times on the gold coast.

I was picked up often by older folks who had gone hitchhiking themselves — albeit twenty, thirty years ago. They’d tell me how easy it used to be to catch rides, that they never had to wait — out of one car and right into the next. Their rides would even buy them dinner! These were the aging Hippies, the older folk who came of age when the youth roiled and searched. I thought I made pretty good timing myself, only taking eight days including the day I spent visiting a friend in Oklahoma. It was funny though, how some drivers would be surprised how fast I was getting around while others were surprised how long it was taking me. My average wait time? 30-45 minutes. There were a couple instances where I had to wait well over three hours, and other times when I caught a ride in under 10 minutes.

I’ve been told I have an addictive personality. Well, guess what, world! I’ve found my new high! because I know of nothing so freeing and spirit-lifting as hitchhiking, as living by your wits and sleeping under the stars, rising with the sun and spending an entire week outdoors breathing fresh air and truck fumes. It’s dirty, it’s tiring, lonely and sweaty and grimy and you’re a vagabond and a wanderer but there is nothing as exciting as seeing someone pull over, throwing your bag over your shoulder and sprinting over, clueless as to who the hell you’re about to spend the next two hours (or two days) talking to. And once you’re sitting there, sitting comfortably in a seat and talking with your driver, you look out the window at the passing scenery and a giant smile burns onto your face from the fire in your heart as you realize, I’m making it! I’m crossing a frigging continent! And this is what I’ve learned: that most people are good, with honest intentions. Of course there’s a lot of scumbags out there who look to take advantage, to rob and panhandle, but the vast majority of rides are people looking to pass forward some good. I got picked up often up by guys who’ve hitchhiked themselves and were trying to pass forward the favor. I got picked up by people on long, lonely drives, looking for friendly conversation and was even offered rides by folks on their way to work.

The looks on people’s faces when you tell them you’ve hitchhiked. They’re surprised, in awe, amazed that such modes of travel \still  exist and work and these big excited smiles stretch across their faces. Other people call you an idiot and will promptly tell you how many people get butchered on the road. Oh well, (for them).

I’ve had some people, usually young people around my age, say they’re envious about the lifestyle, that they wish they could get up and just go like that. I’ll ask them why they can’t, and this is usually the response: I’ve got work, I’ve got school, responsibilities, man. Bullshit! haha. Listen, if you want to do something you have to just get up and do it. You can’t wait around. You can’t plan. Draw a line on a map and stick that thumb out! (But, do a bit of research first. And okay, some planning.)

Anyway, I’ve decided that the reason behind my wandering stems from a feeling of being un-free. I felt a cog in the machinations of someone else, a marionette dancing to someone else’s strings and I was sickened by it, inflicted with malaise and apathy, listlessly going through the motions and listlessly following the necessary steps I’d been drilled into understanding were the only way to success and happiness: Graduate high school, graduate college, get a nine-to-five and car payments and a home mortgage, get married and pay taxes and have kids. Bullshit! There has to be something else and I grew despondent, wanted to rip my skin off for a desperate attempt to find something, something else! Anything! I was sick of consumerism and the disgustingly palpable corruption in Washington and the endless wars and I couldn’t deal with it any longer. So I decided to throw myself out there. Decided to explore the fringes of society. I decided to hitchhike.

People are sick of doing what they’re told, sick of sitting around and sick of not moving — there is a growing sense of despondency among the masses, I keep hearing about it and I know you do too; that feeling of dread that something terrible is going to happen and that we’re helpless to avert the coming disaster. People are sick of the rich getting richer, the middle-class shrinking and again, the corruption. Something has to give, and time and again comes the phrase, “We need a revolution.” People are tired of feeling like mindless gears in a machine they can’t control and the freedom that is no longer felt is in dire need of expression. Allow for a history lesson: The Beatniks in the 1940’s and ’50’s lived with the dread of knowing that at any moment, a nuclear bomb could fall and vaporize everything they ever new. They felt they didn’t have control, and a search for higher meaning, for freedom and control of the self began: the Beatniks began to wander. The Beat movement morphed into the Hippie movement — more people searching, grasping for a higher purpose outside of bland consumerism and war and political corruption. The Hippies traveled. They hitchhiked. The Beat and Hippie movements were both born of discontent, of youthful angst, of a feeling of dread and a desperate sense to once again feel ‘in control’ of their worlds.

But then it was silent. For forty years it was silent.

Now, in 2012, what do we have? We have incorrigible corruption in government, with no politicians willing to take a stand. We have an ultra-rich class that continues to grow richer while the middle-class continues to shrink. The Beats had the Cold War. The Hippies had Vietnam. We have the perpetual ‘War on Terrorism’ and the ever-present threat of indiscriminate bombing feeding fear and the need for spying on the public, indefinite detention, the TSA, the endless bombings of foreign villages.

People are sick of it. People are getting anxious. The youth are filled with ill-content and the desperate need to once again feel free is ripping out the hearts of young people around the country. People hear about hitchhiking and a big grins matches the excitement in their hearts.

People are beginning to search again, the road again filling with wanderers and the discontent youth.

So hear this, America: Hitchhiking is not dead! It might be a rusted shell of what it once was, but it sure as hell isn’t dead!!

Hitchhiking is making its return and the youth are beginning to search once more!!

Dueling Roommates

I went out for some drinks with a friend from work last night, went back to her house where she promptly passed out and so I ended up smoking a joint by myself while her gay friend smoked a hookah. He was nice enough to give me a lift back home and I wound up having him drop me off at DP Dough, where I had terminated my employment the week before. My roommate Chris had called me to tell me he didn’t have a key on him and he was already at DP Dough so I told him I’d meet him there. Plus I wanted free food. I get there and he’s in the back sitting on a make-table all red-eyed and flustered, feet crossed and rocking back and forth as if overcoming the shock of some trauma.

Turns out some kids at the show he’d been at were giving him a tough time. They didn’t think Chris was ‘punk’ enough and he didn’t think they were ‘punk’ enough and he had apparently become indignant when they shrugged him off and turned down his attempts to make friends. Back at the apartment he was venting. He had begged our co-worker to come inside and talk with him. I tried to distance myself but I felt bad I figured I should do my part to console and advise. So I stayed in the living room with Chris and our coworker.

He keeps going on about how these kids weren’t punk enough and they had dismissed him as not being punk solely because of his age. Chris is going on 27 and is already completely bald. He lamented and complained that the kids there (they were only 18 or 19) refused to accept him as a punk. It was pretty pathetic hearing him complain about this, and as his eyes teared up and he got all flustered and frustrated again he continued his story, explaining how he challenged these kids to a fight, and how they blew him off and called him an idiot. A big thing with Chris is that he often gets the idea that people look down on him and has the habit of taking inane gestures and comments as condescending, then gets all flustered that someone is belittling him and he starts getting angry and lashes out. (I’ve only seen this once in the five months that I’ve known him, but he’s explained other instances with annoying frequency)

I take it he has an inferiority complex.

Chris continues with his litany of perceived injustices committed in just over two hours by two complete strangers, reiterates how they were pussies and weren’t punk because they wouldn’t fight him and instead collectively denigrated him to make him look an asshole in front of everyone else, bitched how the punk scene had been diluted and how he was the only true punk left, and made sure we knew that he could’ve ‘smashed their faces in’ if only they had had the balls to fight him. Chris was drunk and he doesn’t drink often, so perhaps it went to his head. But the rest of the night he was just a pain in the ass.

I said goodnight, the other co-worker left soon after, and as I was lying in bed watching TV I begin to hear Eminem emanating something awful from the living room. I shrug it off. Then Chris starts to sing and that’s when things got obnoxious. I heard our roommate Greg open his door, walk into the living, and ask Chris to please be quiet and turn the music down, we have very thin walls. Chris says okay, the music goes down, Greg goes back to bed, and not a minute later I hear Eminem’s voice getting louder and then comes Chris’s voice, just as loud as before. I call Chris from my bed and tell him he has to turn the music down, it’s still really loud and Greg’s going to get pissed. Chris says okay, I hang up, and the music stays the same.

I get out of bed.

‘Hey, man,’ I say, sounding groggy and squinting in the light. ‘Can you turn the music down? It’s loud in there. I can still hear it perfectly.’

‘Nah man, it’s cool. That’s not going to happen.’

‘What do you mean, dude? Turn the music down.’

‘No D-ude. I’m not going to. I’m sick of you assholes walking all over me and taking advantage of me.’ He’s currently sitting on the floor in front of his laptop, his legs tucked under him in an awkward way that only people with really effeminate legs can do, and he’s rocking back and forth. The laptop is plugged into the speaker system we have set up, and this is the position Chris remains in for most of his waking hours when he’s not delivering fast-food as a 27 year old bald man. Sitting in front of his laptop is the only thing he does.

‘What the hell is that supposed to mean? Just turn the fucking music down dude. Or put the freaking headphones on!’

‘Yeah man, that’s not happening.’

I reach for the cord that connects the laptop to the speakers and he gets up and blocks me. ‘Turn the music down dude. I’m not dealing with this shit now. Turn it down and don’t make me come back out here.’ I walk away and he’s bitching about something. It’s five in morning. Whatever.

I hear him singing again and the music hasn’t gone down. It’s now been ten minutes and I stood behind my door for two of those minutes, hoping he would turn off the frigging music because I really didn’t want this confrontation at five in the morning with a drunk nihilist who thinks every person he encounters is out to commit him injustices of the severest order.

As walk down the hallway and past Greg’s room, I can hear Greg, ‘Oh, god, damnit.’ He knows he’s going to have to break this up.

‘What the fuck dude! Why can’t you just turn the music down?!’

‘Because I don’t want to! I fucking live here too and these are my hours, so just deal with it!’

‘No. Turn the fucking music off.’

‘Fuck you man. You’re the one who always wants to blast music to piss off the neighbors. You’re the one always trying to fuck with the neighbors. You even pissed on their stairs when you were drunk! I bet you don’t even remember that, huh!’ We have neighbors above us who blast music on the weekends. Chris sleeps in our living room and keeps nocturnal hours, so that when the neighbors upstairs blast music (which is very annoying) he can never sleep and he gets revenge by blasting his own music. I admit taking part in this, but he’s the one that gets all pissed off over it and plots revenge.

Chris keeps going on about how he pays more rent than I, which is completely false, and how he always does all of my dishes and has to clean up after me and how he’s always doing things for me and what the hell have I ever done for him?

‘Are you fucking serious dude! I do my dishes! And how the fuck that mean you can’t turn the music down! Did you forget that I drove you and your girlfriend to the show tonight? Or that I’m the one that found you a place to crash!’ I had convinced Greg to let Chris crash in the living room and now I was regretting it. Greg was the only one on the lease.

Chris stands up and starts walking towards me trying to look big and I see clearly what’s coming. To avoid a trade of fists I shove him as hard as I can, really lunge forward and push through him with my weight. Chris goes flying backwards, stumbles over the shoddy ottoman and lands on the floor looking very surprised and indignant. He tries getting up, flustered and angry and red-faced and he stumbles so I push him again and he falls back down. This continues for the next two or three minutes, the two of us shouting and every time Chris gets up I shove him. Greg finally comes out looking very annoyed about all of this and by this point I’ve clear thrown Chris around the room, back and forth and left and right, over the coffee table, into the couch, onto his laptop. (I have to claim here, truthfully, that I’ve never been any good at fighting or arguing and have always shied away from confrontation, even when it meant walking away with my tail between my legs.) Greg gets in the middle of us and I back off because this all all quite pathetic and I feel bad (somehow) for the sorry bastard. He comes at me some more and I toss him away and Greg splits us up again. More shouting and pushing and Greg trying to keep us apart. I’ve retreated into the hallway because I just want to go to bed. I’m tired. Then Chris headbutts me. I see his pale ugly bald freckled head coming at me and I lean backwards and he just skims my nose. It didn’t even knock my glasses off.

Getting hit in the face or the head is the only thing that truly enrages me, gets me seeing blood. I charge at Chris and get right in his face and throw him straight to the ground. I can see his eyes get wide, realizing how simple it would be for me to hail and unholy shower of solid fists at his face. Instead, I just grab him by the throat and break him down emotionally.

‘Are fucking kidding me man! You don’t do fucking shit with your life! You sit around smoking pot all day and don’t do fucking shit! You are literally fucking worthless to everybody! you low-life fucking 27 year old delivery driver! You sleep on a piece of furniture that can’t even be considered a couch! You have no fucking aspirations or a fucking clue about anything and then you lash out like this!? On the only person who’s been able to put up with you!? You’ve lived here for half your life and you still have no fucking friends here!’ I stepped back and crawled backwards and sat up, stunned. ‘And you know what? The only reason I ever hung out with you was because I thought you’d have some cool friends, at the very least. I didn’t give a shit about you and now I definitely don’t. The only reason I hung out with you was to meet other people. Then I was going to ditch you. But you weren’t even good for that. Fuck you man.’

‘Yeah? Well fuck you man, fuck you. Go fucking hitchhiking and see what I care.’

Which reminds me to mention that I’m leaving tomorrow!!! WOOOO!!

To wrap it up, Chris told Greg he’d turn down the music because he respects Greg, he actually respects Greg (he made sure Greg understood this point). The music was unheard the rest of the morning and eventually I got to sleep, but not after Chris came to my door begging for me to open up because he was really sorry and he wanted me to know how much he loved me. He came in the first time and it was entirely pathetic, him crawling back to apologize and to tell me how we’re ‘brothers’ and all that deluded crap. Finally I got him to leave, because I ended up having to plead him to leave and let me go to sleep. Five minutes he was back knocking on my door, pleading that I open up and talk to him. I pretend I’m asleep. He bang the door once and walks away, muttering under his breath how I’m the asshole. ‘Fuck him,’ I hear him say. Then he pulls the same stunt with Greg.

The kid had issues with his father growing up that’s he’s told me all about, imaging that we’re much closer than I ever said or acted. His dad used to demean him and call him an idiot (Chris did drop out of highschool), and knock him around, acting tough although his dad is really rather short and bi-polar. Anyway, this kid Chris will hijack a conversation so he can make sure everyone knows he has a grasp of the topic and know how to use big words.

Well, buddy, you’ve burned another bridge. Should’ve made sure you were off of it before you lit it.

Bad Acid and ‘The Road Paved with Madness’

Writing did not go well today. I sat at the coffee shop and wrote only a couple of paragraphs, spending most of the time editing through the previous chapter. The problem was that I couldn’t get my head into it. I’m at the part of the story when things start to get, weird. Chaotic. Maddening.

Some people call it the flow, others God’s Will. Whatever the name prescribed it’s all the openness, the macrocosm, the Universal Will, and I’m at the part of the book when I become absolved into all this.

The whole point of the story, and indeed, hitchhiking, is the openness. To hitchhike with any amount of success you have to follow the flow and live by coincidence, taking things as they come and talking with as many people as you possibly can, being completely open and honest with everyone and speaking to them as if they were your best friend or closest confidant — this is you how you find rides. But dangers reside in this, because when you dive into the flow and absolve yourself into the Universal Will you lose your self, literally: by blowing yourself open to the Universal you abandon your Individual, your ego and your self; you become secondary, lost and helpless in the currents without the means to keep afloat.

The part of the story I’m at is when I’m riding with a certain individual and the two of us go fully to the flow. And the only way I can describe this is by likening it to an acid trip: everything glows and all you see and experience is wildly new and wonderful and the smallest things will get you going, throwing your head into spinning ecstasy and the world around you and every word spoken is joyfully ecstatic. But this turned for the worst. And this ‘worst’? Well, the only way I can describe that is an acid trip gone horribly wrong.

Because…

Once we absolved ourselves into the flow, that’s when we lost control.

When you absolve yourself into the Universal Will you abandon your Individual Will, and without a balance of both you haven’t any Free Will, no means of controlling the world around you or the events that shape your destiny. That’s when you start to drown. What acid does is dissolve your ego, and this is why everyone who’s ever taken acid feels so damn lovely and connected with everyone they’re with and with everything around them. — The ‘bad’ acid trip is the ego fighting this dissolution.

And this is why I couldn’t write: it’s scary. It’s frightening. And I don’t want to submerge myself in this mindset, which is what I must do to write this truly, when I’m about to go hitchhiking again. I don’t want to leave to go hitchhiking with that awful feeling of helplessness because setting out with that mindset is certainly going to exacerbate it. Feeling helpless on the road means I will be helpless, means I won’t have any control and that something terrible will inevitably come about and plunge me into ever deeper helplessness.

So…

I’ve decided to put off writing the rest of the book until I successfully get out to California. There I’ll have some certainty — shelter and a place to sleep and food to eat and I won’t have to worry about losing control and I’ll be able to write truly and well. If I work hard and well it should only take me a couple of days to finish this second draft. Then, while I’m back home for the holidays I can rewrite the whole damn thing and be satisfied with it and put it online. The title is going to be ‘The Road Paved with Madness’ and I’ll have it online for e-readers and in PDF for anyone to download for free.

I’m off now to spend a final night with all the friends I’ve made since living in Columbus and when I wake up hungover tomorrow I have a lot of preparing to do. I need to find myself a new pair of shoes, a canteen and a poncho. Then I have to figure out what I’m going to do with this laptop that I’m currently typing on. I want to have it in California with me so I’m going to see how much it would cost to send it out there. If it turns out to be too pricey I’ll get a box, some packaging material and pack it up nice and tight and wrap it all with a few plastic bags and stick it in my knapsack. The laptop’s small and light so I’m not worried about it being too cumbersome to travel with, just worried that I’ll have to keep worrying about it so that I remember not to toss my knapsack around or drop it while I’m out there.

Common Denominators

There is an idea that has, for some weeks now, been stuck in my head, and the idea is that everything I do, the writing, the traveling, the drinking, the endless desperate torrents of thoughts and the general restlessness of mind and body and spirit, that all of these things must have a common denominator, one underlying propellant that fuels the things that have more or less absorbed my life.

At first I saw it as discontent, a discontent with a society that I was fed-up with, for reasons that I didn’t yet understand, and that this discontent had led me to seek out other means of existence through writing, traveling and thinking. I thought this could be the basis of my restlessness. But I went deeper with it, and I’ve begun to think that all of the things I do are caused by a feeling of helplessness, of feeling as if I am not in control of my life, not free and only ever capable of being a cog in the machinations of a faceless soul-eater (whatever that may entail).

If my common denominator is indeed a will-negating feeling of helplessness, of not being free and in charge of my own destiny, then here is how the effects of this feeling stack up:

Traveling: When you hitchhike (or travel in general) you have to be completely open with everyone you meet, and you must meet as many people as you can. You have to live by coincidence and toss yourself without reason into the flow. You must submerge yourself into the uncertainty and from there create your own certainty (this is free will): other than this there exists no greater analogy for life.

Writing: Writing allows one to create an entire Universe on a sheet of paper. There is no greater freedom than this.

Drinking: Drinking, and intoxication in general, as all forms of intoxication serve to inhibit reason, mitigates the uneasiness and the melancholy that develops from feeling helpless and un-free. Drinking reduces the Individual Will and allows a person to be more accepting of outside flows, even if those flows are guided by other, more cynical and faceless persons.

Thinking: My head won’t stop churning and it at times bothers me but I find solace in this, that I am in control of own thoughts: whatever happens within my head I can control, what happens outside of it, that’s where I have less control. And to bring in something we’ve all seen pasted on posters in kindergarten and grade-school: Knowledge is Power. That, to me, is ultimate truth. The ignorant have much less control over their lives than do the knowledgeable, and so, perhaps, these relentless thought processes are some subconscious way of feeling ‘in control’ of my life.

All of these ideas are likely to morph, but I think I’ve hinged onto something, that the major preoccupations of my self are indeed caused by a single denominator. I don’t think the denominator will change much, only if to go even deeper, and I fully believe the ‘deeper’ will take me face to face with Oedipus. But for now this idea is ample and will suffice, and I will continue to keep all of this in the back of my mind where the sub-conscious can work on it — with my half-knowing 😉

Drunk-State

In drunk state the mind is feeble, infant-like and the individual blown apart, more to the mercy of those around him. People tend to look down upon the drunk, to mock him and he becomes the point of ridicule, lowly, unintelligent and will-less in the eyes of others. To the drunk, the imbibing of alcohol is an exercise in purification, tasting the residue of Heaven by dislocating the self from reason and becoming saint-like, to truly forget who one is for the realization that one isn’t, therefore everything. In drink happiness is found, smiles at the bottoms of bottles, because it allows the drunk to forget, to, for a time, leave reality, transcend the painful by heightening emotion (the opposite of reason). To drink is to search, both guided with an ill-content for what is. Drinking is the wandering of soul and mind. Drinking is the profession of artists. Drinking is the attainment of trance; vibrant aching emotion bursting like a valve at the swig of a bottle, the drain of a drink. To drink is to empty yourself by filling yourself with wild, uninhibited emotion. Liquor is tears. All this is why the drunk must be shamed: he relinquishes control, prostrates himself before the constructions of society – the will of others – and allows himself to joyfully drown in the incomprehensible currents of the Rivers of Heaven. This is why others feel they must shame the drunk: it is in their nature to control, so they must therefore exert will over he who has relinquished control, sacrificed his will, like a saint. And this is why I must only get drunk inside: to save myself from the control of others, for though at times I must abandon myself (for spiritual attainment) it is detrimental to chosen destiny to have others will over my own. Of course, I will still come out to have a couple drinks when you are in New York, drinks are great for bonding, but bonding isn’t the reason the drunk drinks, and so I can never drink drunk in public. You must see, it’s all very spiritual.

Well, I’m Back

Well, I’m back. I decided I needed to get back into blogging and keep plotting out my life for better or for even terribly worse.

The last post I put up was about going hitchhiking and then, for five months, there was nothing, and I kind of found this funny because it definitely sounds like I went hitchhiking and never made it back. But I figured no one here would have worried, seeing as it is this blog hasn’t had many visitors (yet!), at least not nearly enough to drum up any worries about my potential demise. So, for those of you who have missed me dearly (and by this I’m blowing smoke up my ass) I would like you to know that the hitchhiking trip was completely mind-numbing and soul-freeing and that my hiatus has only been due to a recently developed preoccupation: hitchhiking was such a success in that it turned out to be more ridiculous than I had ever imagined and the coincidences that lined up were more than spectacular and alarming to the point where I’ve decided to turn the story into somewhat of a novel. That’s been the preoccupation, I’m writing a book. And my shitty job, too, for which I just put in my two weeks because, in two weeks, I’m Going Hitchhiking Again! This time to a much more distant destination: Los Angeles.

I’m drunk now and perhaps this is the worst time to start blogging again, but here it goes and I’m going to try and sum up the past four months before I can no longer see the keyboard. Much of this will be pulled from notebooks and Facebook statuses (I had a few good ones in the past four months).

Speaking Open

I was walking to Bernie’s for their dollar-fifties, pleasantly strolling and whistling The Doors (who else to whistle in sunny spring?). Along the sidewalks in Columbus, especially around the campus, are four sided billboard signs for the public to post miscellaneous notices. I check these frequently, being always with the open eye for things to do, and I noticed a notice for a free ‘start of the summer’ concert at the Columbus Commons, a public park in the city center where they’ve been building a new stage. ‘First concert on the new stage!’ yelled the post and I got real excited because I have this thing with free concerts, I can actually go to them and all. But then I saw the date, Friday May 25th. ‘Fucking A!” I yelled out, and this little squat lady walking by gave me the curious eyebrow. I should’ve said to her ‘it’s the day I’m leaving!’ explained to her the free show is when I wouldn’t be in town. I wanted to and I thought of it quick enough for it to be understood, but there came the ego, or the super-ego rather, being inhibitions engrained by society. But I’m getting there: I can talk freely, thoughts unchained, speaking my mind, if you will. I was whistling loud the whole time walking and I had no qualms about my frustrated outburst of expletives. But then I though. And my frontal lobe, so carved by society, filled my head with doubt and seized my voice. But it’s fleeting, that mist of uncertainty that forces the processes of logical reason, and inhibition.

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