10:52PM I’m on the train. We’re somewhere around the West Virginia-Ohio boarder. It’s dark and foggy outside. All I see are orange industrial night lights. It’s been a long day but it’s gone pretty fast. I imagine I’ll pass out in a little while and then I have to get off in Chicago at ten AM. I’ve already dozed off for short amounts of time in which I forgot I was on a train.
7:22AM I think it’s six AM, not so sure about the time changes. All night long I kept having the most incredible dreams and then waking up and realizing I was on a train and falling back asleep.
I like all of the different accents on the train. Yesterday I sat alone until we got to D.C. A man sat next to me and coughed up his life story so fast you’d have thought he was dying. He spoke of camping with the Boy Scouts and going to the National Jamboree. He said he use to make or sell stainless steel materials strictly for McDonalds. He said that he would mostly deal with the international sales in Central and South America. He said Puerto Rico and Costa Rica were his favorite countries. He was in his sixties but he looked younger. He spoke about hiking with fifty pound bags and I said I hope I’m doing that when I’m sixty. He told me there are at least thirteen-hundred McDonald’s in the United States. He said he set up the ones in the Middle East after the Gulf War. He also said they’d specially built a McDonald’s to use for the movie Richie Rich. That came up when I spoke of the fake McDonald’s where they shoot the commercials in LA.
I was starting to fear I might have to kindle this conversation the whole day and then these other two guys filled the surrounding aisle seats. The one guy was ninety years old, also looked younger. He started telling WWII stories and said he was in the Battle of Normandy. The guy next to me chimed in and said he was in Vietnam. They went back and forth telling stories. Neither of them asked questions about the other, it was just a sort of hot-potato memory lane game.
The people behind me kept talking about their favorite trains. The one guy said that when they finish the bullet train in California he’ll go out there just to ride it.
My back was killing me in the beginning of the day. I arrived to Thirtieth Street Station about an hour before my train. When I walked inside I could see the train’s gate was not yet listed. I asked the woman at information when I could board. She said about ten minutes before departure. I waited and when I finally went down to the platform they said I’d have to take my bags on board—guess I missed the baggage check. This is why my back was kicking. The bags are still on here. When I get off in a few hours I’ll have to get someone to help me. The back injury is tough. I shouldn’t be lifting anything, but people look at me and they assume I’m a fit guy.
When I was falling asleep last night there was this demon baby in the back of the car screaming and growling. I couldn’t understand how the parent wasn’t comforting it. It was awful. In dealing with the pain of sitting in one place, the pain in my back, the eye strain from staring out the window, and this baby, it was not easy getting to sleep. Oh yeah, and there were these two girls talking about relationships, they must have got on around eleven PM. This one line sums up their conversation: “My momma, she had my dad get a credit check before marrying him, um-hum…” But right now I feel pretty well rested.
8:05AM The food on the train is awful. You can’t buy any vegetables and a simple apple costs a dollar. Fortunately I brought a bag of trail mix for each day, and an apple, banana, and orange for each day. Yesterday I ate a bag of trail mix, two apples, and two oranges. At lunch I bought a turkey sandwich. It cost $6.25. It was a thick soggy bun with a thin slice of cheese and a thin layer of turkey. No vegetables. I pulled the cheese off. I even looked at the dinner choices and none of them appealed to me. They seemed too heavy for an entire day of sitting.
As we head north towards Chicago the terrain is all flat, mostly comprised of massive farming fields. We passed many grain elevators and grain storage units.
5:30PM I’m on the second train heading out of Illinois. This train has two levels. I didn’t get a window seat but I’m now sitting in the lounge car. This thing is amazing. It has huge windows that curve up onto the roof. You can sit in seats that face the windows or you can sit in restaurant style booths. We were flying through the plains and you could see rain off in the distance. Eventually it caught up to us.
A lot of smokers ride the train. And overweight people and people in wheelchairs. The guy sitting next to me tonight said that he had a falling out with airlines after they started having him take off his shoes. He said he’s retired and he doesn’t mind taking more time to travel. He’s also a vet. The demon baby is on this train as well. Fortunately we’re in different cars tonight.
10:06PM It has been an amazing night. Socializing, with the right people, makes you feel good and accelerates time. I had dinner in the dining car and I ate alone until the last few bites. The waiter put two seniors at my table. Every time I went to start up on a topic they had a way of responding with a word or two. There were moments where I was literally staring down at my plate turning potential sentences over in my head. I kept thinking about how interesting the conversation sounded at the table beyond mine. They were talking about Los Angeles and the culture. All I could get the older couple to admit was mountains were beautiful. And I was stuck at the table because I was waiting for my check.
Out of nowhere a girl who was sitting alongside us grabbed her plate and sat down with us as she asked if it was Okay to join us. She said, “Your conversation sounds interesting.” I couldn’t imagine what part she heard. But internally I was praising her for saving me from a sinking ship. She told me her name, Chloe, and I looked into her eyes to find a delightful creature.
The conversation grew deeper. We were talking more about emotions and motivations behind train travel. The old folks said they’d been overseas when someone tried to bomb the Detroit airport a few years ago. They said everyone on their flight was searched, and they all had their bags searched, and they said they didn’t want to fly after that experience.
I got to talking about my obsession with photography and video. The waiter showed up with my check and said, “See, now you’re not going to wanna leave.” The older couple left and Chloe switched sides of the booth. We spoke for a while after that. There was a positive nervous energy while talking to her. I really liked something about her. When this happens I tend not to retain many details of conversation.
After leaving the dining car I walked back to my seat feeling a bit lighter. I sat down and this woman walked down the aisle and sat down across from me. She asked if she could borrow a piece of paper. She asked if I was in school and I said that I just like to write. I ripped one out of my notebook and handed it to her. She then said she’d just had the greatest conversation. She said the guy sitting next to her, who was now asleep, was Muslim, and she is a God loving Christian. She said he’d said a lot of stuff about the Quran and she wanted to write down some of the points. In that moment I could read her mind, she was starting to realize Christianity is similar to other religions. I could hear my own conscious telling me to tell her all religions are the same and these so called religious wars are really over possession of land. She then asked what I thought about religion. I said that I worship Mother Nature. I said that the wilderness is my sanctuary.
She then transitioned to me reminding her of her twenty-five year old daughter Laura. She said Laura is into photography—maybe that’s how it transitioned—she said her daughter was into photography. I said I could give her advice about making money on stock photography or how to make a living off it. As I spoke I could just see my mother having the same conversation. This mother was so much like my mother, so naturally I treated her as I would my own mother. I listened to everything she had to say and gave her the best advice I could. But if she was like my mother, then Laura would be like me, and if my mother came to me giving me advice someone had given her to give me on a train, I probably wouldn’t want to hear about it.
I gave her my email address and told her she could message me if she wanted. I asked about where her kids grew up and the woman spilled all the beans. She said she’d stayed single until she was forty-one years old waiting for God to bring her a man. She then had this guy she went to high school with contact her. His wife had died of cancer and he wanted to date this woman. So the woman slept on it, and then she prayed and it seemed God did want her to be with this man, even though he already had fathered four kids with the now deceased wife. So she walked into this marriage with these kids and she said she felt like she went from working a full time job teaching kids with disabilities to now being a housewife and raising and cooking and caring for all of these kids. She said raising the kids was harder than her previous job working with the kids with disabilities. She then said that Laura was telling her she hated her and she ruined her life. I told her about my family and I ultimately told her that kids say these things when they’re maturing and later they realize what it’s like to be a parent. I felt like quoting a quote I’d overheard a guy say on the train yesterday. He said Mark Twain said, “I always thought my parents were so dumb, but boy did they get smart in those five years before I turned twenty five.” I don’t fuckin’ know. My mind is still trying to grasp this whole train culture. People get on and they know they’ll never see you again so they open up completely to you.
Anyway this woman kept talking and I kept listening and next thing I know she says maybe I’m the one for her daughter and joking about marriage, but the scary thing was I could tell she wasn’t joking. God, she’s so much like my mother. A new thing I’m experiencing is I can see the kid in grownups. So she then says she wants to show me a picture of her daughter but she can’t find one so she’s going to show me a video. It was a video of her daughter. She pulls up a clip on her iPhone and holds it out in the aisle and it’s just this clip of a girl smiling and then playing with a dog with three legs. I could tell she wanted me to react like, “Damn yo, she’s hot!” but it wasn’t like that for me. So she played it again. I could see she really loves this daughter. She told me I could come and stay with her anytime I come to Kansas City. I couldn’t understand what was going on, I’d only spoke to her for five minutes. She passed me a piece of paper with her name and email on it. And somewhere in there was a story about someone she’d done a favor for on a train and how they’d invited her to Europe. I then realized that me giving her the paper meant something and she was playing the past favor forward.
We arrived at Kansas City moments later and she walked off the train. In the end I only saw my mother, a middle aged woman coming to terms with the fact that you just have to let children be what they want to be.
I feel bad for these white people. They grew up so strict, they’ve now spent their entire lives trying to figure out how to live.
2:56AM Back on western Time. We’ll be arriving in California in five hours. I’ve spent the night sleeping in my seat. But now I can rest no more. Last night I found two open seats and sprawled out on them. I watched the sunrise from the window in the back of the last car. Pink stretched across the low clouds.
I spent most of yesterday in the Lounge Car shooting video. Colorado was beautiful. There were hints of snow through most of the state. New Mexico was even more amazing. In New Mexico there was orange dirt with snow and pine trees. I hung out with Chloe and we both met an Egyptian guy with fangs named Seven. He was telling me about his dad. He said is father was the ultimate adventurer. His father would travel around and chip off a piece of various landmarks. He has pieces of the Statue of Liberty and everything. I brought up my ideas of a train with roof seating. Seven and I brain stormed on that. We both agreed that even if you had to sign a waiver, in case of death, we’d ride on the roof seats of a train.
This time of night you can’t see out of the windows. It’s too bad they can’t switch off the lights because I’m sure you could see stars. The trip has gone so fast. I’ll miss being on this train but I really can’t wait to stretch out, and shower, and eat some good fresh food.
12:55PM Yesterday morning I went to a free clinic. They will allow me one free visit in two weeks, and I have to wait four to six weeks to see if I’m accepted for free treatment. So I came home and made lunch and sat in the sun for a while.
I started reading my December 2012 issue of National Geographic. I was on an article about shamans. I got to this paragraph that absolutely stopped my heart. It reads:
||Before he became a shaman, Dorzhiyev was a lawyer working for the Justice Ministry—and from his reasonable, unruffled manner, this was easy to imagine. “I wore a white shirt and necktie,” he said. “My salary was good.” Twelve years ago, when he was 34, he was struck by what’s called a “shamanic illness” –an extended period of intense psychological, professional, personal, or physical difficulties, when the spirits are thought to be sending a sign. The problems persist until the person finally relents and picks up the shamanic mantle.
I had to stop for a minute. It was my life story. The past five years of my life summed up in a paragraph. So then I got to thinking that this whole back thing is really happening for a reason. This is it. I’m supposed to rid myself of all of my possessions.
8:24PM I’ve been feeling like shit today. I’m aware of how I need to stay positive and get through this, but I’ve really just been feeling like a lump of worthlessness. I woke up early. I’ve been reading this book about back pain. I walked and talked to my mother on the phone. I made lunch and went for a four mile walk in the sun. I came home and read more, and I napped in the afternoon. I woke up and surfed the web and then I went down into the gym to hang on the bar and stretch my body out.
I feel broken. I fear I won’t be able to wear a heavy backpack. I won’t be able to do those crazy camping trips. I read this damn book about back pain and I’m thinking, why didn’t anyone warn me about this? How could I have prevented this? I think maybe this was meant to happen. Maybe if I wasn’t injured like this I wouldn’t have the concentration to sit down and be creative. But how can you say everything happens for a reason when people die in freak accidents.
I will get it back. I will breath deep, and I will eat healthy, and I will stretch my flesh and bones until my health has returned. This is not the end of physical adventure for me. This is just the universe telling me to take a rest.
There aren’t any other species like us. We’re on our feet all day, standing straight up. I have to wonder if the spine was built for that. If we lived in trees we’d be hanging and the spine would have a natural decompression. If we were in water there wouldn’t be so much weight on the spine.
I wish I could live in the trees by the water so I could heal in nature. I’m happy for what I have. I have a place to live. I have enough money to buy food. I have a safe environment to heal in. I want to start doing two four mile walks a day. I will fight. I will break away from this. I will rid myself of possessions and I will learn to live in balance with nature once again.
12:50AM Tonight I went to the SAG screening of Silver Linings Playbook. I left 11044 Acama Street, Unit #206 at five PM. I parked on top of Mulholland Drive around five-fifteen and then hiked down into Hollywood. I stopped twice to pee.
I took a new trail in Runyon Canyon. It leads down to Curson. I felt so much like @#!$&. This is the path @#!$& would take. As I got down to Sunset Blvd I was struck by bright neon lights and store fronts.
I walked into the DGA around six-fifteen PM. There was already a long line. Time went fast and soon I was watching an incredible piece of cinema. The movie taught me a lot about myself. I always enjoy going into a movie not knowing anything about the plot. I liked seeing these broken characters. I’m such a broken person. I put up this great front on the internet and around strangers but really I’m a mess inside. This movie showed me the way. I’d also been thinking earlier today that I should make a movie that shows a character who must find a way to show his parents that they made him who he is. But this movie pretty much did that. It was perfect timing to see this movie, being that I was dealing with stress this week and trying not to get violent.
After the movie there was a Q and A with David O Russell, Bradley Cooper, the producers, and the editors. They said they’ve enjoyed the experience of people approaching them to tell stories of how they related to the movie. They said they were surprised to see so many vets relate to it. They said there are more American soldiers who’ve killed themselves than have been killed in the current war. David O Russell said that he likes an actor who bares their soul and is open and honest.
I walked out of the DGA and onto Sunset Blvd. I walked up towards the hills and the streets grew quiet. Then there was the fog. I slipped through a gap between the gate and the fence at Runyon. As I climbed the hill I walked into the fog. I use to worry about running into people while walking around parks at night, but now I realize I’m the guy people run into when they walk around parks at night. Not that I ran into anyone, I’m just saying I’m the crazy person living in Los Angeles that climbs the hills in the middle of the night. So as I got higher the city began to fade. And soon the trail ahead was just fog. I felt like I was walking through a dream. And I realized that’s how life should feel. Life should feel like a dream or a painting. To want to define everything and place it in a proper space is such a stale way of life.
I soaked in a moment at the highest point. I could hear hints of the city but I couldn’t see past the edge of the cliff. I felt I’d risen above the madness.
9:38PM Today was a day filled with nightmares. But it all turned into something beautiful. I’ve got a sunburn on my face like a mother fucker. I’ll write about it all tomorrow.
12:29PM Let me write about the 6th. I woke up at two-forty-five AM, showered, dressed, and packed my bags to go work as an extra on a Nike commercial. I walked out the door around four-forty-five AM. Just as I closed the door to the unit I panicked because I realized I’d forgotten my keys. All those nightmares about over sleeping and now I’d blown it by forgetting my keys. I knocked on the door and called Balint twice until he answered. His sister came and let me in and I suddenly realized I’d put my keys in that little pocket of your pants that’s within the big pocket—ya know that stupid little pocket you never use. I pretended to go get my keys from my room to spare myself embarrassment.
I then packed up my car and put on Steely Dan’s Pretzel Logic, but when I was stopped at a red light I changed it to Aim and Ignite because I wanted to sing. I was waiting at Moorpark and Vineland for the green arrow. The light changed and I hit the gas and the car stalled. I rolled into the middle of the intersection. A car honked at me. I freaked out, put my car in park and turned the key. It wouldn’t start. I ripped off the face of the CD player and shut off the heater. I then started it again and slammed on the gas and I propelled forward. I kept praying that I’d make it to the set, ‘cause goddamn I needed that money. I thought about bus lines, AAA, and calling friends. I thought of how the universe is all connected to things we cannot see and I just started willing my car to go. The engine began shuttering like the time I broke down on the 5 Freeway. I then switched to the slow lane and drove slow and steady. By taking my time I made it all the way out to Malibu.
I parked in the Malibu Inn parking lot. There were only a few other cars there at that time. As I stepped out of my car I noticed the sliver of the moon high above the coast. You could see the black circle of the moon as well. The crew was still setting up the base camp so I walked to the rocks and sat over the crashing waves. It was a beautiful place to arrive in the morning. You could see the sunrise over the ocean. LA is unique in that way because if you go around the bay you can watch the sunrise and set over the same water.
Later we got breakfast, checked in, and went to wardrobe. I met some great people. The day went fast. We had lunch and they never used us in the shot. We were released around three-fifteen PM. I drove to a gas station and bought some oil. I think that’s what was wrong with my car. It just needed some oil.
Still I didn’t want to be driving my car in rush hour so I pulled into Malibu Creek State Park and having all of my bags in the car I paid the day rate of $12 to park in the main parking lot. It felt nice rolling into there. I drank water and used the bathroom and then went hiking on a trail I’d never taken before. The trail went past rock cliffs and then I came upon the remains of an old house. The only thing left was the chimney. I sat there by the fireplace trying to meditate on who once lived there.
Later I walked to a fence that said no trespassing, and of course I crossed it. I explored rocks and trees for a bit before turning back. In some mud I saw someone had written, “Bob Cat?” next to some interesting tracks.
As the sun set I walked off the trail and onto some beautiful grass that seemed to be from a prehistoric era. I saw deer. I then walked to the cliff diving pool and saw a hawk. The hawk sat in a tree, then it moved to another, and then flew off. I then climbed up the highest cliff that people jump from by the pool. Light was fading. I sat up there soaking it all in, imagining this is the same Earth dinosaurs walked. The hawk flew over me and I raised my arms.
5:22AM I fell asleep around ten. I slept with my sliding glass door open as it was a hot day yesterday. At two-forty-five I awoke to the sound of screeching tires and metal hitting concrete. I was having an interesting dream, but it escaped me. I put on a jacket and shoes as if I was being guided, and I walked outside. I live on the second floor so that means walking through the building, down three flights of stairs, and then I’m on the sidewalk. As I began to walk down the block I could see a man walking on the side of the freeway. The 101 passes in front of the building and the man was walking on a bridge of the 101 that goes over Vineland. I realized the accident was probably bigger than I imagined as I live in the back of the building, and the sound carried all that way.
I could see police lights already flashing. I walked through the large circle of trees and brush inside of the curving on-ramp. It was strange, like I was in a dream. My head was still foggy and I could see people and police officers walking along the freeway. There were cars on the side, and a car in the middle of the freeway. I was standing behind these bushes too dense to walk through, but I was looking at the cops and feeling the blue and red lights on my face, and I felt like I was in an effin’ dream. I walked around and tried to get on the actual freeway. A taxi cab was driving up the on-ramp fast and it had to serve to the side to avoid hitting cars that’d been stopped by police from going forward. If I wasn’t more careful the taxi would have hit me. I then noticed more defunct cars on the off-ramp. There were at least six cars involved in the wreck, but none looked horribly smashed. I hope no one was seriously injured.
There’s a weird division in the city. The whole reason I went out there was because I thought living right here I’d be the first one on the scene and I could have helped people. But the police were already there and I figured they would have told me to go home, as it would be a hazard for me to be on the freeway, plus I’d passed a sign expressing that it was illegal for me as a pedestrian to go that far. The ambulance was coming up the on ramp and at that sight I walked away. When I got back down to the street I noticed a fire truck was now up on the freeway bridge. I think of these people thriving in eggs, and they collide and then their egg is cracked, and at that point cars show up with flashing lights to help them or incarcerate them. What a weird effin’ world we live in. I can only hope to go the bulk of my life without the need for a car. I’ve had one for six out of twenty-eight years. How about I try not to use a car for more than ten years of my life.
7:17AM I feel like I’m on a row boat and I’m going to an incredible island. There’s nothing waiting for me on the island but the island itself. So I have to bring everything I’m going to want when I get there. If I bring too much stuff it will weigh my boat down and I may never make it to the island.
12:09AM Today I biked to The Brewery in Downtown LA, worked, and then biked back home. I feel like a billion bucks. The ride was about fourteen miles each way. Ten of which were on a bike path running along the 5 Freeway. In the morning it took me an hour and ten minutes and coming back it took an hour twenty-three. When I drive there I give myself forty minutes and some days, when traffic’s heavy, that’s barley enough. It was nice to get my work out in and to avoid the stress of driving. I also realized that I saved $8 by not purchasing gas.
8:30AM I really don’t have as many expenses as other people. I try to live minimally so that I don’t have to work too much. I don’t have a car payment, I don’t have cable TV, I don’t eat out, I don’t have pets, I cut my own hair, and I don’t pay for a gym.
9:06AM When I came home last night I found a box of tomatoes I’d bought the night before lying open and half empty on the coffee table. It was obvious that my roommate was sitting watching TV and eating them. I just let them sit there. I already had an awful night and I wouldn’t have been able to sleep if I let that get to me. The first roommate I had that stole food from me, I punched him in the face, he punched me back. That made for a tense living situation. The second guy I confronted verbally and the next day he left the apartment and had stolen some of our stuff. I’m not going to say anything about this one. It really pisses me off, all of these years struggling to eat and gain weight and to have roommates that make four times the amount of money as me stealing my food. I’d never steal my roommate’s food, mostly because they buy shit food. My roommate buys chemical infested everything and discount near expired meats.
9:40PM I got booked to ride a unicycle in a Wendy’s commercial tomorrow.
7:00PM I’m exhausted. I had a hard time sleeping last night. I kept waking up every couple hours until it was about four AM. Then I showered, packed up, and drove up to Newhall, CA. We shot at Disney Golden Oaks Ranch. I love those higher elevation parts of California at night. There’s a long drive into the ranch and we saw some wild animals. There’s a lot of big old trees and creeks up there.
After about ten minutes we arrived at a small-town back lot. A bus filled with the UCLA marching band came in behind me. Before the sun was up I was riding my unicycle around the back lot while the band warmed up.
The scene was an all American small town parade running into a Mexican parade. Wendy’s is marketing some new hybrid sandwich. There were three other unicyclists, two of them a couple. We all rode alongside the band.
A couple weeks ago, the night after Gus passed away, I had a dream where I had found a unicycle in a shop and I started riding it around outside. About a week after that they put out a casting call for this Wendy’s commercial looking for a unicyclist. I submitted an old picture of me on my Grandma’s unicycle from 2005. I don’t own a unicycle out here but I really wanted the job. Two days ago they wrote me back and asked me if I had any red white and blue costumes. I told them I could come up with something and they said I was on stand-by.
A couple months ago I found an old birthday card in my closet with money still taped inside. It was from Gus and Joyce, a birthday card from 2009. Having already saved this money for that long I decided to put it aside for something special. This past Christmas I added more money Gus gave me to this special fund. I knew something would come up and I’d know how to use the money. Yesterday, being on stand-by for this commercial I went out and purchased a brand new unicycle with the cash. I haven’t ridden a unicycle in about ten years but at the shop I test drove it without crashing. I bought it right away. That night they booked me for the commercial.
11:20PM Yesterday I watched a documentary called Plastic Planet. The film is lead by a man whose father helped launch the plastic industry in Europe. The film was extremely eye opening for me. It speaks about how plastics cause cancer, infertility, miscarriages, and various illnesses. Most of the time plastic doesn’t fall apart and it’s safe but if you’ve ever smelled plastic or seen a plastic object worn down then you’ve likely inhaled it into your system. Plastic is made from petroleum which is absolutely toxic. They speak about new bio-plastics that will dissolve over time but they say even if they were to stop all of the toxic plastic production right now, the existing plastic would still be around for another five-hundred years. They say there’s enough plastic to wrap around the earth multiple times. It’s everywhere. It’s unavoidable.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it today. All of the food on the shoot was wrapped in plastic and I had to cut a piece of cardboard using a plastic stencil and little pieces of plastic were breaking off. I was so afraid I was going to ingest them. I played with plastic toys all the time growing up. I know I chewed on them. Even sitting here right now I have plastic rimmed glasses on. You can’t escape it. I have a heater in my room and it’s made from plastic and when you turn it on you can smell it.
I’d love to get all the plastic out of my life. It’s hard enough buying healthy foods but now to try and buy foods without plastic packaging, that’s impossible. They brought up a great point that foods are required to label their ingredients but they don’t have to say what the packaging is made from. I think of all the poor souls heating up frozen dinners in plastic containers. It’s an effin’ mess. I wanted to vomit while watching this documentary. They showed a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that scooped up water and the water was filled with all of this tiny plastic debris. The fish try to eat it and birds swallow it and regurgitate it for their offspring. I think about life and how no one lives forever. No matter how healthy we are we’re all going to die someday, but why the fuck do we live like this. Just realized this effin’ keyboard I’m typing on is plastic.
9:35AM I’ve just returned home from crashing my bike. The plan was to wake up at five AM and go for a nice sunrise bike ride. I didn’t awake until six forty-five and was starting to think there might be too many cars on the road for me to ride. I decided I’d go quick and try to do ten miles in less than a half an hour, that way I’d be off the road by eight.
I started off quick and had so many green lights I didn’t get a chance to put my music on. At my first red light I put on Aim and Ignite. I went speeding back through the nice Toluca Lake neighborhoods and my thighs were burning. I was starting to think that maybe I’d done enough and should just turn back and make it a short one. Then I thought I wanted to break through to a new level of fit. I sped through the rest of the neighborhoods and arrived at the major street by Warner Brothers. I rode up towards Forest Lawn and caught a red light. I don’t remember but I imagine I shifted down. I was then waiting in the left turn lane alongside a moped. The light turned green and I moved up awaiting a big enough gap in oncoming traffic. Once the cars passed I sped into the bike lane on Forest Lawn. Now in the bike lane I started pushing myself hard to see if I could beat the moped. The moped passed and my chain locked up. I wasn’t sitting and the bike wobbled a little and then I was airborne. I felt my body sliding across the macadam and I knew I should have been tucking and rolling, I tried and I think I rolled over once.
Most of the impact went into the base of my right palm. The skin flapped open and blood was starting to roll out. I stood up and dizzily walked towards the sidewalk, leaving my bike behind. I turned to look and a man in a black car was waiting. He said something and I walked towards him and asked him how bad it was. Most of the pain was on my back side. He said, “Just a little road rash. I’ll stay here until you get your bike up.” I must have nodded and then walked back to get my bike. I caught a glimpse of my shoulder out of the corner of my eye and it looked real red. I think I thanked the guy before he drove off.
I remember looking at my chain and kind of trying to put it back on. It was all bunched up. I then stood on the sidewalk watching cars pass as I thought about calling someone to pick me up. It hit me that I hadn’t brought a phone with me and I didn’t have any friends numbers memorized. Forest Lawn cleared and I crossed with ease. I walked towards an office building knowing that I could simply show anyone the blood running down my hand and they’d help. There was a fitness center a couple buildings down and I figured they’d have better medical supplies. I dropped my bike out front and turned off my MP3 player before walking inside.
It was funny because there was someone at the front desk waiting to be serviced and I didn’t want to be rude and flash my blood and demand help but I knew whatever they were asking for was irrelevant compared to my situation. There was a young guy at the desk, maybe around my age, and you could see his eyes widen when he saw the blood. He rapidly grabbed a first-aid kit and pulled out some bandages and wipes and told me there was a bathroom upstairs I could use. Someone in the lobby offered me a ride home but he said he couldn’t bring my bike. I thought about it, but I was more focused on cleaning and bandaging myself. I walked up to the bathroom and got a grasp of my injuries. The worst cut and impact was on my right hand, the right elbow was ripped up a little, I had a quarter sized gash on my right knee, and there was a tennis ball sized bald rash on my right shoulder.
As I was cleaning an older man came in and said something funny. All I remember is he had a big smile, and I cracked a little smile too. He was asking me about cleaning the wounds. He walked me back downstairs and there was a cute young blond around my age. She was very professional. She pulled out peroxide and started wiping it on all of my wounds. She told me she cycles a lot and she’s been hit by cars a few times. Everyone kept asking me if I’d been hit by a car. The girl also told me that there was gravel in my back. She said it wasn’t so bad but she was trying to get it out. She told me her sister had a bad skateboarding accident and they had to scrub the gravel out. The thought made my wounds feel like nothing. When she put peroxide on my elbow it tickled more than burned. I’d already bandaged the cut on my right hand and she suggested I go back to the bathroom and put peroxide on it.
I walked back up and the skin had already started to bond. I picked at it till it flapped back open and poured the peroxide down in there. It bubbled. I then walked back down and started thinking about how I could repay these people. I want to drop off some food on Monday. I grabbed my bike figuring I could just coast home. There was a lot more damage to it than I imaged. The metal peddle was bent inward and all I could think was my right wrist had faced the same impact.
The chain kept popping off as I coasted. I kept trying to fix it but it seems as though some components got bent. I was about two miles from home. Halfway through my ride the chain got so twisted I couldn’t even coast. I looked up to the sky, searching for meaning, a telephone pole and power lines blocked a fair amount of the blue sky. I then walked most of the rest of the way home. Just before I got back here it hit me that the last time I did my ten mile ride I was listening to Aim and Ignite. There’s a lyric on the song The Gambler:
||You think that I nearly lost you when the doctors tried to take you away.
The lyric has been drifting in and out of my head since that ride. I have a very visual memory and I remember hearing the lyric while riding past that fitness center. I also recalled a quote by Henry David Thoreau I read a couple days ago:
||As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.
I really do believe you can draw things into your life. On my way out of the apartment my roommate was shouting profanities at the man that lives above him. In the staircase I passed by a mother with a disconcerted child. The whole beginning of the ride I kept thinking about accidents. I’m pretty sure I was simply pushing the bike too hard but I was riding with a sour attitude.
10:27AM The Earth is kind of like an old house. Once you’ve named everything and put it in its proper place it’s kind of boring.
9:25PM I pulled all the bandages off this morning without ease. I cleaned the gash on my elbow with soap and then I did my right hand. I’m most concerned about the flap of skin that’s now closed on my hand. It looks as though debris got inside and now it’s bonded shut. I ran it under the facet for a while hoping it might loosen enough to open. I figured it would probably be best to cut the flap of skin off to avoid infection. I picked at it a little but it’s solid. I then carefully pealed the bandages off my back. I don’t think a lot of the road rash was initially visible because the girl put some of the adhesive parts of band-aids on the actual rash. It hurt but they had to go.
I then meticulously set the water temperature in the shower and started rinsing. There was a big piece of gauze on my back that she’d surrounded with band-aids. The gauze was stuck to my wound. I let water run down my back but it wouldn’t loosen. I tugged at it and still it wouldn’t come out. I was laughing and crying and finally it came loose. I cleaned everything lightly with soap.
My right hand had been swollen with blood. Its fat, it kind of looks like a fake hand. I get chills on the wound on my right shoulder blade.
Sleep is amazingly satisfying. I lie on my chest with my right leg and arm almost hanging off the side of the bed. I make sure to keep my right elbow unbent and I keep alternating the direction of my face. I placed a pillow under my chest and stomach to make my head more comfortable. I’m moving less today as the wounds are scabbing up. I’m trying to keep from splitting them open.
5:43PM Last Friday I auditioned for a McDonald’s commercial. It was in Beverly Hills and they told me it was for a beach party scene. I drove down there by way of Coldwater Canyon. I found a parking meter on Robertson and sat in my car because I was early. The meter already had some time on it but when I went to add more time with my credit card it erased the previous time. I ended up walking down to the casting office early because I had to pee. I got there and we had to wait for a previous group to finish. A woman told us we’d go in and pretend to eat a new pop-corn chicken that has a spicy dipping sauce. She insisted that we make it look spicy, not hot.
We were a group of two girls and two guys. The others appeared to be younger and cleaner than me. The woman told us a story about how she booked her first national commercial. It was for Cheetos. She said she auditioned and they had them eat actual Cheetos out of a bag and at the end she accidentally carried the bag out. She then went back in and set the bag down and by habit pulled out a bunch of Cheetos. She didn’t even realize she was doing it, but then she walked out. Later she booked it.
Eventually we all went in and an older man with perfect dictation explained how we would be paired up and that we’d go into a party and greet the other pair and hand off one box of the chicken and keep one and then eat and mime to each other. We had to mouth everything. We did this a couple times and then they did solo shots. A cute girl went first, they had her stand with the box of chicken, I should add it wasn’t the real chicken, we were using popcorn for the audition, but she had to stand there and just eat it and enjoy it and look out at the party.
They started shooting and they put on this sexy dance music, it was nearly porn-o music. The girl looked just like the people in the commercial and suddenly I realized why they sell so much product. It’s all because the people on the commercials look healthy, and so full of joy and people think they can become them by purchasing the product.
I had to go next and I’m sure I looked silly because I thought it was stupid. I’d never want to be in a McDonald’s commercial but I considered if I got it I’d be getting money from them and I could use that to help educate people on the dangers of fast food.
Everyone else went and we all walked out and I told the first girl she was the best, that I was glad she went first. The two girls walked down the street the other way and I walked with the guy for a little but his car was right there. It was a shiny brand new purple Porsche. I realized I must have been auditioning with a new class of actors. These people were probably the children of millionaires growing up in Beverly Hills, getting their start in acting.
10:00PM Today I leapt from one of the highest cliffs at Malibu Creek. I feel like a new man, it’s mostly hitting me now, but I’m feeling incredibly inspired.
Ricky came over and I drove us out to Malibu Creek. It was his first time there and he seemed to like it a lot. I took my mask and looked around the rocks underwater. The deepest part of the lake is on the far side against the wall and I can never find the bottom. A couple guys leapt from the wall and I was suddenly inspired to do it. I climbed up there and it was a lot higher when I got to the edge. I didn’t wait long before leaping off. The fall was long and I was able to shout, “AHHH” and “OH SHIIIIT” before hitting the water. I didn’t touch bottom. The water level is kind of low but the rocks near that edge aren’t yet exposed.
8:55AM Last night I was watching episode one of the National Geographic series Guns, Germs, and Steel on Netflix instant view. It mostly featured New Guinea. I’ve seen other documentaries about New Guinea and I’m starting to think that’s the place I’d most like to visit. It seems to me that most of the island’s population is unspoiled by technology.
I was watching and kind of wishing there was no electricity in the world. The power in my apartment dropped out and then on again, and then it faded out again, and then on. It shut down my computer both times and the program was lost. A security alarm on my door was going off and I had to flick the breaker to get it to shut down. I then heard a bunch of fire trucks and ambulances drive down Vineland towards Ventura. The ghetto bird started circling with the searchlight down around Ventura. I grabbed my camera and started jogging down there.
Once I passed Bluffside I could smell a strange stench like there had been a fire. The helicopter searchlight was looking around the hills. I was shooting video and I realized all the power was out at the strip mall with the Ralphs. I walked down Ventura and could see branches of trees in the street. Then I realized that a row of five or so power lines were sagging across Ventura. Someone must have hit the pole and knocked it partially over. I can only guess the person was intoxicated and ran, because the police were searching the hills.
4:48PM Stubbornness leads to disease. I’m thinking if you do something the same way all the time eventually predators will catch on. Every creature has a predator, the best way to stay healthy is to be unpredictable.
8:56PM I packed up some food and drove out to the beach today. I parked on PCH outside of Paradise Cove and walked in. When I got to the parking lot the woman told me there was a five dollar walk-in fee. I asked her, “What if I’m just walking down the beach?” she said there still was one. I asked, “What if I run really fast.” She said they still charge. I walked about halfway back up the road and turned into an overflow parking lot. I walked to the end, towards the ocean and I was up pretty high so I had a real nice view. I tried to imagine the landscape without all of the buildings, roads, and cars. When I got to the end of the lot there was a barbwire fence on one side, and the other side went down into a driveway that said private property. The cliff was super steep but I could kind of see a worn path through the brush.
I was determined to get down to that beach. Paradise Cove is a nice calm beach for swimming, I don’t know of any public beaches that are like that. I climbed down the Cliffside, and started to realize I was sort of in someone’s backyard. I was getting pretty pissed off about how so much of the beaches are owned. I slipped a little bit and then made my way to a rain trough. Carefully I walked down the cement trough. I jumped down to the edge of Paradise Cove’s parking lot. No one noticed, or seemed to care.
I walked down the beach and swam around. I started to fear what it might be like fifty to a hundred years from now. I wonder how much of the beach will be owned. It’s sad because these people buy beach front property and they don’t even use it every day. It blocks animals and people from the sea. It’s a mess.
9:57PM Tomorrow will be an intense day. I’m heading out around eight-thirty AM to drop my keys off at the mechanic. I’ll tell him what’s wrong with my car and see if he has an idea how much it might cost. If it’s less than $300 I’ll fix it. After that I’ll then bike to Venice. Its fifteen miles. I’m not worried about the distance, I’m just a bit stressed about having to deal with cars right around rush hour. At the same time I’m excited to do something possibly more intense than my pre-car Los Angeles transportation antics.
9:43PM I did it. I biked more than thirty-five miles today. I made it to the mechanic, to both auditions, and to pick my finished car up. Later last night my agent notified me of a second audition at four PM. I woke up a little after six, without the aid of an alarm. I drank water and ate an orange and Trader Joe’s Nut Cluster cereal. I thought about riding my bike to a car rental location. It would cost $37 dollars for the day. I figured I could pull it all off like that. Then I started to think about what I could do with that $37 bucks if I biked it. I then realized that I had to bike it. I wanted to push myself.
I prepared my bike with lights, two water bottles, and my lock. I packed my bag with my notebook, headshot, money, cards and I.D., a sweater, two bananas, and a bag of Trader Joe’s Go Raw trail mix. I checked the route again and there was a Trader Joe’s in Culver City right on my route. I removed the second banana and trail mix with plans to pick them up along the way so I wouldn’t have the extra weight.
I used Google Maps to find a good bike route. I wrote down all the turns on my little note pad and put a rubber band around it so the pages wouldn’t flap when I pulled it out while riding.
I set out at eight-thirty AM. I started slow and the ride through Toluca Lake and Burbank was smooth. I got on the bike trail and powered through to Salazar’s Mazda in Atwater Village. When I crossed the street in front of the place I could see Antonio. I could tell the guys had seen my car and were probably wondering why it was there. I told one of the Mechanics everything that happened. He figured something must have been draining the battery. I don’t know if I mentioned this earlier but the day it died I was driving around ninety MPH. While I was standing in front of the garage this woman came up to me with a box. She’d found a bunch of baby ducks and was walking them around. She said they were loose and a raven was after them and they were in the street so she ran around and picked them up. She was thinking about taking them to an animal hospital so they could live. Then she said she would try putting them by the river. So anyway I told the mechanics I wanted to go to work and I’d come back for the car later.
I rode up Fletcher to Glendale to Silverlake Blvd. Silverlake Blvd had a nice bike lane that cut all the way down south of the 101. I kept howling and yelping to notify cars of my presence and then I just started doing it for fun. One guy howled back. Coming into Korea Town was slow but once I got on Fourth Street through Hancock Park I was flying. I cut down south of Wilshire and kept holding out my notepad to memorize the coming streets. I got a little off track but knew I just had to go south and west. I hit Venice and started pushing to Lincoln. I stopped at the Trader Joe’s and told the cashier I was buying fuel. I checked the time and I was supposed to be at my audition. A guy told me I had about four miles to go. I pushed it.
I showed up about twenty minutes late but it didn’t matter. They were still seeing guys for my category. They wanted me to be an athlete with ‘God-like Abs.’ I didn’t know why my agent had sent me out on that. I had some nice shirtless photos but even in those it was clear that I didn’t have abs. I just went along with things and started downing water. The other guys there were like bodybuilders. After I was done, I sat there eating trail mix. This one guy, David, offered to give me a ride home since he was going to North Hollywood. He said we could see if the bike fit in his car. We walked outside and he had a Corvette. Surprisingly the bike did fit. I never realized those cars had hatchbacks.
When I got home I drank more water, showered, and made lunch. I ate some raw cucumbers and fried a potato and green beans. I ate a big plate and scoped out my next route. My next audition was at La Brea and Olympic. Salazar called before I left and told me the work would cost around $50. I said it was okay. I figured it’s better than having to buy a new car right away, even if it only lasts another two months.
I rode my bike to the Universal City Metro stop and took that to Hollywood and Highland. I then biked south, eventually using a bike friendly street I’d used earlier in the morning. This one was easy because it was all downhill. I showed up a half hour early for this audition. They wanted me to be a car mechanic so I brought coveralls and changed into them.
Soon I was out of there and heading to the Wilshire Western subway stop. On the way I was thinking about how car commercials always seem to show a guy getting abused. It’s like they want you to think if you have this car you’ll be able to destroy and annihilate people who don’t. Food and Beverage commercials are all about having a big smile.
I rode the subway into Union Station and then I called Salazar. He said the car would be ready in an hour so I sat around and ate some more trail mix. It was fun to watch the people coming through the station. They were all so diverse.
I walked out front and biked north on Main Street. I rode past the Brewery and used the path I would take to go home from there. I jumped on the LA River Bike Path and kept seeing arrows on the path from some sort of race. There were a lot of people out walking around. The water looked nice. I rode all the way up to Salazar’s.
When I got there they were just doing a few finishing touches. They told me that the alternator had died. They put in a new one and the total cost came to $380. It wasn’t so bad. When they started up the car I was real excited. It was so much quieter and smoother than before. It’s comparable to how it felt six years ago. Maybe better.
I drove home and showered and made tons of food and ate it and watched Run for your Life, a documentary about Fred Lebow, the creator of the NYC Marathon. I feel super high and blessed and I wish every day could be like this.
6:36AM I’m in the Chicago Airport and I’m feeling well rested. I’ve still got a few hours till I take off for Grand Rapids. I’m a lot more relaxed now. I’ve been thinking about how I’m working so hard to make a name for myself out there in LA. It’s amazing how fast you can forget all of that when you get away.
They have the worst food in these airports. It’s sad to see people lined up for McDonald’s. I settled for this shitty CPK chicken sandwich after walking around the entire Phoenix airport earlier. I don’t see how people can feel good about themselves, or their health, or the world when they eat this dead shit food. It’s freezing cold in here. I think it’s warm in Chicago but they’re blasting the AC. You try to imagine what the landscape’s really like and this all seems like a world of pretend.
It’s also interesting to see how parents treat their kids in these settings. Parents are so boring. Most of them don’t lead by example, they just teach by scolding.
11:00PM I’m in my grandma’s basement. This year I’m not even going to turn on the TV. I’m just going to spend the nights writing and reading and unloading photos.
This weirdo guy sat next to me on my last flight. He was big and smiley and started asking if Grand Rapids was home for me. I told him some stuff and then he was talking about how he was buying a place in San Diego. He asked about what I did for work and asked my age. He spoke about having a new car and getting ready to buy a crotch rocket and sailboat and he said the last thing would be to buy a private jet. He said that way he wouldn’t have to deal with security and he could just go skiing somewhere whenever he wanted.
I couldn’t really tell if he was horsing around or if he really was rich. I asked him what he did for work and he said marketing. He was pretty vague but added something like, “I get paid a lot to tell people why their products aren’t selling, it’s a pretty chill job.” I kept shooting videos out the window and then as we were landing he pulled out a folder and said he had this start-up project. He handed me a paper that seemed to have a guy’s name and info on it and something about life insurance. He said I’d just need to contact these people and if they buy something I’d get $500 dollars per person. I told him I wasn’t into that kind of stuff and he insisted I might know someone that would want to do it. I firmly said no and kept shooting my videos. He got real strange, he went from being such a confident dreamer to this quiet jerky weirdo.
10:01AM I’m sitting at the picnic table outside our trailer in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. We rolled in around nine last night. It was still light out but by the time we unhitched the trailer it was pretty dark. Around midnight Joey, Laura, Galen, and I hopped in the Trailblazer and drove down to the river. It’s probably a mile or two away.
I hung my head out the window as we cruised along a thin road cutting through thick woods. The sky was incredibly dark. We drove till the road dead-ended at the Platte River. We parked the car and shut off the lights. There was lighting way out across the lake. We all laid down on the street and stared up at the stars. I’ve never seen so many in my life.
After a little while we took off our sandals and walked down the sand. We’re camping near this river delta that leads into Lake Michigan. The bottom of the lake and river are simply comprised of sand and rocks. I could tell even in the night, that the water was crystal clear. I started wadding into it. Joey kept using the flashlight and I just kind of ran through the branch of the delta holding my shorts up and crossed to the other side. I ran across the sand dune to Lake Michigan. The winds were intense and the lake was alive. I stepped in a little but it was a bit intimidating with the lighting. I ran out and took a piss. Then I ran back to my family and this time when crossing the river I just ducked my whole self down underwater with glasses and everything. The air was so humid and warm.
We walked back to the car and sat and looked up at the stars and lighting. I imagined what it would be like to be a native living out there, living wild and free. The weather and the fact that there was no moon last night and the woods and lake made it feel like heaven.
9:30PM I put on my headphones for my jog tonight. I was listening to Grouplove and running through the woods and the sun was popping out from trees and I had such a high, especially when track two came on. I jogged for a couple miles on the trail through the woods, then around the athletic fields and back around to the trail. I did it twice and then walked back onto a deeper trail into the woods. I cooled down by walking and splashed water on my face from a stream.
10:00AM I’ve been reading a book called Born to Run. It’s about a secret tribe of runners in Mexico. It’s very fascinating because I didn’t think tribes like this still existed. I picked the book up at the library and I really can’t stop reading it.
8:12PM I can’t stop reading Born to Run. This book is absolutely mind blowing. It’s going to have a lasting effect on my way of life. This book came out in 2009. I could have really used it then. The story is incredible but the writing is magical.
7:15PM I just finished Born to Run. I started it a week ago. It’s the first book I’ve ever read in a week and as far as I’m convinced in this moment it’s the greatest tale ever told. Reading the book was like watching the universe unfold before my eyes. Every time I caught a glimpse of the book sitting in my room I couldn’t help but lay back and read the next chapter. The people in the book are so interesting that you’d think it was fiction.
My right foot is still injured. I’m thinking I must have pulled something or torn something on the bottom or in the heal. I just can’t tell because the pain aches throughout the whole lower part of the leg. The weird part is that everything functions fine. I first had pain when I was in Austin, TX. I just remembered how I ran through the airport barefoot and it felt so amazing. So I tried to stay off my feet and healed up after that and then I was doing fine until I ran into the woods barefoot in Michigan. My adrenaline was pumping so hard I have no idea what I did to the poor leg. I think the best thing I can do is take it easy for the next month and let it heal up. If it wasn’t injured I possibly would have never taken the time to read this book. The book opens up with the author trying to find answers for his injured foot so I fell right into it.
The things I like most about the book are how it uncovers the way athletic companies have been lying to the public and it expresses the power of spirit when competing. All my life I didn’t know how to run, no one showed me and modern shoes misled me. I thought you were supposed to land on your heals. I can’t believe it’s taken me until age twenty-seven, nearly twenty-eight, to learn how to run. It’s sad how convoluted our world is, how we’re born as geniuses and then misdirected. A lot of my life I thought people who were happy all the time were obnoxious. Because of the example my parents led I thought strong people were angry people. I’ve never known the joy of competition. I’ve always gone out trying to prove myself for other people, never really doing what I wanted to do because I enjoyed it.
11:33PM It’s Wednesday night. Last night I worked on the Veronica’s music video with Spencer Susser and Ben Gilovitz. I arrived to Downtown LA around seven-thirty PM. They had rented a block of Santee Street. Spencer introduced me to a guy called Cloud and as I looked the guy in the eye I said, “We’ve met.” I worked with him on the Dasani commercial. He was break dancing.
They walked me over to the monster suit guy and told me to get suited up. The monster suit guy was named Ron. He was chubby and cheery with long black rocker hair and gothic clothing. I asked how he got into costumes and he said it was always a hobby, I asked him what other stuff he worked on and he said stuff like this. He was short with everything I asked him. It was annoying because I could tell we had a long night ahead of us. We went into the back of a box truck and I asked him what to wear under the suit and he said whatever I wanted. He’d make these short replies and just sort of smile.
I stripped down to my boxer briefs and kept my black t-shirt on. The suit was like a wet suit with brown and red and black lumpy bug-like features. There were boots with claws and they didn’t really fit right. The guy told me they once had inserts and then made some remark about how the production wasn’t paying enough for him to care. The gloves were longer than my hands and had rings connected to wires so I could move the fingers. The head was like a big bug head, there were tiny slits under the big fake eyes for me to see out of. I was worried because there’d been some mention of running in the suit but I could barely stand in the boots and see two feet in front of me. I stripped back down to the simple part of the suit and put my shoes on. I walked around talking to people and saw Katie. She was playing a gang member.
Cloud showed up with a camera around his neck and I asked him if he was shooting stills. He said he was shooting 2nd unit. He was going to pick up other angles while Spencer did the main shooting. Spencer came over and asked us if we saw the explosion. He said that they were all standing in the street and a bird bit into the telephone wire and it cause a big, major motion picture type explosion. Everyone started getting to work.
All of the gang actors were hanging out in an RV but I had to sit by myself in the back of the truck because of the suit. Ron was hanging with two friends, a guy and a girl. Ron and these friends were probably in their early thirties. They kept standing close and talking quiet. There was also a very loud generator by us. After exhausting my efforts to start a conversation with Ron I made no attempt to talk to his friends. From what I could hear they were just gossiping about common friends. I heard fake gun shots coming from the set and walked over to watch. A police helicopter showed up with the spotlight shining down on the set. They said they could only shoot blanks until eleven. I tried not to drink too much so I wouldn’t have to remove the suit to go to the bathroom but soon I realized I’d better drink. The suit had a little hole in the crotch just barley big enough to fit my dick through.
Sometime around midnight they sent someone to check that I was all ready to go. Ron helped me put everything on except for the gloves and head. Then he started painting this goo all over the suit. He told me it was food thickener. The production decided they wanted to add a back to the suit, so they’d made this big turtle shell thing. They drilled holes into it and tied a rope around each of my shoulders and then lashed it on. It restricted my breathing and was so painful I’m still feeling it now as I lay here twenty-four hours later.
Sketchy downtown LA types walked past the truck gawking at me. I sat on the back of the truck ready to go as Ron and his friends trash talked their friends and smoked cigarettes. They were comical, they were so negative and every time I asked them something I’d get a short joke answer. I watched as rats run below my feet and pigeons nested in awnings. Around one a PA came to take my lunch order. I order a tuna salad sandwich.
The food showed up and Ron and his friends went to scope it out. They asked if I wanted something and I said yes. When they were gone, someone brought me my sandwich with chips. I was so pissed off that I’d spent all this time in the suit. If they were having lunch it was clear I wasn’t going to set soon. It only took a couple minutes to put everything on and so I couldn’t understand why Ron wouldn’t have just pulled the stuff off. He seemed to have done that stuff before and wasn’t shocked when I wasn’t going straight to set. If I were him I would have pulled the suit off the guy and told him to relax. And if Ron wasn’t the one to do that I would have had someone from production tell the monster suit guy to relax. I was so pissed that I pulled my arms out and then untied the shell and pulled that off and my sandwich was sitting right there but my hands were covered in goo. I stomped over to the food table and whipped my hands off multiple times and then walked back to the back of the truck and had one of the most incredible meals of my life. I’m not being sarcastic, probably because I was suffering so much, the food tasted amazing. After lunch Ron’s friends disappeared. I thought they were working on the set or working with him but throughout the night it just seemed that they were hanging out. It was strange because they just kept complaining about everything.
Ron pulled his truck into the alleyway by the box truck. He waved to me through the glass but didn’t say a word. I took the hint that he was going to nap in his nice warm sealed off truck. I sat on the back of the box truck and soon it got really cold. Downtown LA is always cold at night. It was breezy and dry. I climbed into the truck and sat down. I pulled my arms into the sleeves to keep warm. I couldn’t put on a sweatshirt because of the goo. The whole night wouldn’t have been so miserable if they had waited to paint the goo on.
It was around two in the morning and I was curling up and laying down with my head resting on a shoe and feeling like an absolute turd. I wanted to go home and sleep so bad. It was so cold, the wind kept sweeping into the truck. I should add, the boots had slits in the bottom and I’d stepped into a dirty puddle and the water soaked my sock. I’d open my eyes and see people pushing shopping carts around the streets. I thought of the time I took the bus up to NYC at age eighteen to go to an MTV open call rap battle and I spent the whole night in line in Manhattan in February and if I wanted to go to the bathroom I’d have lost my place in line. I held my piss the whole night and was so miserable and because I’d done that nine years ago I knew I could make it through last night and I told myself if I could just make it through last night it would be worth it in some way.
After laying in the truck feeling like shit I checked my phone and it was five-thirty AM. I looked to the sky and convinced myself it was getting light out. I told myself it’d get too light and they’d just decide not to have a monster in the music video. I sat there waiting for someone to come and send me home. Ron was still lying in his nice warm truck. I pulled out my copy of American Psycho and started reading. I was really enjoying it and then a PA showed up and told me they were ready for me. She was super jumpy like they needed me right away. I started putting the boots on and told her to wake up Ron in the truck. Ron stumbled out of the truck and lazily started to get me ready. I was annoyed because I was ready to go do this shit and Ron still had the jokey, lazy, negative attitude flowing. Finally we walked down to the set, about a block and a half away and Ron was painting the goo on me. He only brought one bucket and needed the other bucket and he said, “Can’t you send a PA to get it.” He was such a jackass.
Anyway I finally got everything on but the head and Ben came over and said, “You’ve been in that thing all night, you’re never going to want to work with us again.” I told him it better look good, and I trust with them that it will. I started walking to the alleyway and Spencer stopped me to get a photo of me grabbing him without actually touching him. Some other people took pictures and then they got me into the alleyway and Ron had the head and asked if he should put it on or wait until they’re really ready to go. I told him to put it on so it would motivate them, and he did, and it did get things moving.
They fired on some smoke machines and threw a tarp up over me to block some of the now growing blue light of the sky and I stood there in Santee Alley at Twelfth Street. Spencer had me run a little and then whip my head towards the camera. Then he had me pretend to get shot. I was moving around like crazy and panting inside the suit. It wasn’t easy to hear or see. They pulled out a cannon and loaded it with green goo and shot it at me. The first time the goo made the street slippery for my rubber feet and I fell backwards. I didn’t get hurt. I think it might have looked pretty good. They shot as I danced around in the suit for about five minutes total and then a guy started yelling that they were done with the location. I think they’d hit their cut off time or something.
They pulled off my head and Spencer walked right up to me and thanked me and we joked around and then the Veronica’s took pictures with me. The crew started cleaning things up and I walked back to the truck and found Ron wiping the head off. I pulled the rest of the suit off and threw away my goo soaked socks. I put on my pants and shoes and said some final goodbyes. I told Ben it wasn’t easy but it was fucking fun.
7:47AM Last Friday there was a shooting in a Colorado movie theater during the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. A twenty-four year old boy walked into the theater through the exit at the left of the screen. He was dressed in riot gear and he threw a tear gas grenade into the crowd and opened fire using two hand guns, a shot gun, and a machine gun. Twelve people were killed and many others injured.
I cannot imagine the fear and confusion that must have run through their minds. I had been planning to see the movie on opening weekend but after I heard that news I lost interest. After hearing something like that it’s hard to deny that violent movies influence violence or a desensitizing of it. I haven’t been to the movies at all since this happened. In the news I read that the shooter dyed his hair red and claimed to be the Joker. He didn’t resist arrest and in all of the court footage he looks insane. That said he’s not really cooperating. I wonder if he’s going to plead insanity so he can be thrown in an insane asylum like the comic book character Joker.
Of course a lot of people on the web are talking about this incident. People are saying things like they hope it doesn’t destroy people’s faith in God and that it was such a senseless horrible act. Looking at the big picture it’s just such a sad way to die. These people stuff themselves into a dark air-conditioned box to eat shit food and escape reality and then some crazy fucking psycho comes and opens fire on them. I can’t think of a worse way to die. I would have to think some of the survivors will never want to see a movie in the theater again, and I would hope that all the survivors never sit and watch a movie again, in realizing how precious real life is.
One of the girls who was killed had written a blog entry about how she escaped a random shooting in a Toronto Mall. I looked it up and read it last night and she said she had this eerie feeling in her gut so instead of buying sushi from the mall’s food court she went outside to a burger joint across the parking lot. She says the day forever changed her life and life is so fragile and we never know when or where we’ll breathe our last breath and that for one man it was in a food court.
I don’t have cable television but I can’t help but read about these events on the internet. You hear about it and it all seems so distant and it’s hard to imagine what the victims’ families feel like. They said one mother was slipping in and out of consciousness at the hospital and she was calling for her daughter but her daughter had been killed at the scene and no one would tell her that because they were afraid it’d kill her drive to stay alive. Another woman gave birth this week while her husband is still in critical condition. I’m surprised no one has gone into the courtroom and shot this asshole in the face. It’s funny how polite people can be surrounding such an ugly crime. That being said I don’t believe in fighting fire with fire. They’ve said that gun sales in Colorado have risen since this incident. I think in general people think if they buy a gun they’ll be able to stop something like this from happening to them. But the fucking psycho had a bullet proof vest and helmet on. Personally I would never purchase a gun. I would never own a gun because the moment you pull a gun on someone you’re inviting them to kill you.
8:17AM Yesterday I drove with Balint to Zuma. I found free parking and we walked out to the breaking waves. Balint told me about a great white they’d recently seen in Venice Beach. Then he ran into the water. I stood on the beach doing stretches until I saw a giant dark blue figure in the water with a fin. Turned out it was a bunch of dolphins all together. I grabbed my mask and camera and ran for the water. Balint and I commented on the dolphins and then I swam after them. I’ve always wanted to swim close to dolphins but have never done it. I followed them and when I went under I could hear them talking. I started saying, “Weeeeee,” in a high pitch. I realized that they might not like the camera because it would give off signal so I turned it off. The dolphins got away and I swam to shore.
I ate some food and went back in the water. All the sudden the waves got huge, bigger than I’ve ever seen in California. They were curling over. I saw this boogie boarder ride a barrel and shouted to him. He then told me a story about how he’d just been in Australia and saw a bull shark swim under his board. He said he started jamming his fist into the water like he had a knife and it scared the shark away. He said he wasn’t going to let them keep him out of the water.
Later I was swimming with my camera when I saw the dolphin fins appear out in front of me. I started swimming towards them and then this huge wave lifted up. All the fins turned in my direction and as the wave lifted higher I could see the bodies of seven dolphins all in a row. I thought they were going to crash right into me. They were riding the wave. I dunked the camera under the water and stayed in place. They went right under me.
2:38AM I was just looking through some transcriptions of dreams I’ve had. I found this one from April 18th 2012, right before I had my bike accident. It says I was getting ready for a marathon and I’d only worn black dress shoes. I wasn’t even into marathons at the time or running so much but it was like a message to wear simpler shoes.
The reason I’m up so late is I fell asleep around nine and then I woke up after having this dream where my brother was over here and he wanted to watch an old episode of Doug he’d taped. In these moments, sitting in my room, in this strange city that I’ve come to know, I think about my past and where I’m coming from and I can never figure out what the hell I’m doing here. TV really had a strong impact on my brother and I. Probably I’ve moved out here to find the source of it all.
11:01PM I just got back from seeing The Master at the Arclight Dome. It’s got my mind thinking in strange ways.
Today I went to Abalone Cove with Heather and Balint. The sea was rough and we didn’t do much jumping off the rocks. At some point I noticed this strange rectangular rock. I pointed it out to Heather and she walked up to it and saw some writing. She said it was a tombstone and pointed out the year 1983. Balint walked up to it and said the writing was Polish. I said it was a strange place to put a tombstone, that they should have placed it higher on the side of the cliff, and as I said it I pointed, and there was another one on the cliff. We walked up to that one and it wasn’t as corroded. It said the boy’s name and the date of his death: September 17, 2002. Ten years ago tomorrow. There was also a website on the tombstone for more info. We looked it up on the way home and found that the boy was found dead, laying on his backpack face up on the rocks. The police said it was a suicide but the parents think it was an accident or murder. There’s something strange about the whole thing. It fascinates me. The guy was so close to my age. I said that I could never imagine committing suicide in another country.
I had déjà-vu during the movie. It was during a scene where they were drinking moonshine on the boat.
I was playing in the sand today. I was wiping sand all over my body and face. Dirt is good for your health so I imagine sand must be too.
The movie really made me look at myself and my imperfections. Some people try so hard to correct their behavior and some people try so hard to fight their nature. It’s hard to follow your nature in a world with so many laws.
8:31PM My right leg is so fucked. I tried hiking on Sunday, while I was at the beach, and I stepped in cactus. I was wearing wetsuit boots but it went through the bottom and there seems to be just a little invisible needle stuck in the foot. I’m just going to have to wait for my skin to push it out. The knee and shin were bothering me yesterday and today.
8:34PM This morning I got an email from Ben Adams. He had contacted me months ago about doing some music for a short. He said he heard my music on the Grandma’s Virginity Podcast, and he liked what was on my website. There were emails from a line producer, and Kevin Lee of Nickelodeon in my spam folder. Kevin’s title is Manager of Development at Nickelodeon Animation. That was enough to get my attention. They said they had a budget of $500 to $1000 for the music and the short is only two minutes forty seconds. I told them I was interested and they sent me a form to fill out so they can make up a contract. The music will be due in about a month.
7:40PM Tonight is the third night in a row I’ve done the big loop at Runyon Canyon. I haven’t jogged, but I also haven’t felt any pain in my leg. I’m very excited. For a long time it felt as if I’d never heal. A week from now will be three months since I fucked it all up. I still don’t know exactly what I did to it.
8:22PM Kevin just called me. They want me to do music for their animated short.
9:09AM After talking to Kevin two nights ago, I was so excited I couldn’t do any work. I ate and passed out. I got an email around midnight and woke up at two AM and read it. He said he’d feel better having me do a free test to see if they wanted to use me. The next morning I responded by agreeing to do it that way. It strips me of some much needed confidence but at the same time it gives me a drive to really prove myself.
10:44AM The buttons on my phone won’t respond to my touch. Last night Ben and I went on the massive thirty mile bike ride, which is in a lot of ways a demonstration against technology. This is truly irritating because I have to think a new phone will cost $100.
The bike ride was amazing. Ben and I showed up to Wilshire and Western late along with a bunch of other people. When we got out of the subway station a couple security people pointed us in the direction that the group had gone and said they left about fifteen minutes before us.
We cruised as a small pack through the streets. We didn’t exactly have the power to stop traffic but in a few places we tried. I felt like I was in a small spaceship flying through outer space looking for my pack. As we got to downtown more people started pointing us in the direction they went. We went through a big long tunnel and then over the old bridge over the LA River. We were getting so close we could see them. At some points people would make a wrong turn, we were shouting to each other, some people had friends in the pack and they were texting and calling.
The main pack looped around and rode another big bridge back into downtown. It was beautiful with the full moon. We caught them in the big circle in old downtown. There’s always two breaks throughout the ride. I wished that the city could always be as vibrant as that old town square felt that night. Being in that old part of downtown I thought of how life must have been hundreds of years ago. I’d love to have a simple life without technology where you just enjoy the world for what it is.
We rode onward to Korea Town on Olympic and the next stop was in a park. I laid down and stared up at the stars. The city lights overpower the sky so it’s easy to forget there’s stars up there.
They were selling Gatorades for a dollar. Ben and I drank a lot. Next we rode down to Highland and up to Hollywood blvd. We took up all of Highland and most of the way it was eerily quiet. There was almost a slight fog in the air and I got this feeling like we were soldiers marching to battle. Everyone went crazy on Hollywood Blvd. It was like being in a parade. People on the sidewalks seemed to admire the animalistic nature we represented with our self propelled locomotion. They shouted and howled and slapped hands.
We got back to my place and I offered to make Ben food but he just wanted to pass out. I made a dish consisting of three free range eggs and organic green peas with Capellini noodles all mixed with Trader Joe’s Soyaki sauce. And I made a salad with Trader Joe’s herbal mix and organic sugarplum tomatoes and Goddess dressing. Food tastes absolutely heavenly when you’ve exhausted yourself.
As I was passing out I was watching Star Trek the Animated Series without my glasses or contacts. When I really relaxed my eyes I’d see the screen pretty clear.
I’ve been reading a book I got from the Library titled: Seeing Without Glasses. It’s written by a doctor who heals patient’s eyes rather than simply giving them corrective lenses. He says lenses are like wearing a splint on a broken leg. If you never take it off you can never exercise enough to heal. He also says that nutrition and exercise are a big part of seeing better. He says that a lot of vision problems relate to problems in the mind. I’m nearsighted. He says that nearsighted people have a poor vision of the future, this can happen from a traumatic event like divorce or a bad break up. It makes sense for me. My eyes went bad when my parents first spoke of divorce.
There are exercises designed to help you build up the strength of your eyes. I’ve been doing them and my eye muscles feel sore, like after a workout. The author suggests getting a weaker prescription so you can step yourself down off glasses. Unfortunately the laws in America don’t allow you to do this. You can only order the prescription a doctor prescribes you. I’ll find a way. I hope to heal my eyes going into next year.
4:55PM This morning I drove out to the Sprint repair shop. They checked my phone and of course asked me if there was water damage. They put these stickers on phones to indicate if they get wet, and if your phone gets wet they won’t do anything for you. They didn’t find water damage on mine. They said they’d order me a replacement phone for $35. That’s pretty good considering I don’t have insurance on it. Of course the employees tried to get me to upgrade to an Iphone. I really don’t want to upgrade to a higher technology. I want to be downgrading. So I’ve got to spend the next few days void of a phone. I’ve emailed most friends and told them I can only use my email for communication.
When I got home today I found a letter in the mailbox. I figured it was a check but I didn’t think much of it. I worked on music for the short and made food, and I’ve been stressing about finishing this music and I can’t tell if I like doing the music but I know I need money. I have about one thousand in the bank.
I made lunch and really I’ve been so stressed lately because I’m not getting to work on my writing or my photography and I’m testing this music for free and I know I’m not really qualified but I wonder if they just can’t afford someone better, so I’m working on it, and I remember that they came to me because they liked what I do, and I simply agreed to do this music. I have to send it to them tonight before I go to sleep because I have to be at Vanessa’s tomorrow by seven AM.
After all this I looked over and I remembered there’s this letter I need to open. I opened it up it’s a residual check for $1,844.17. That’s enough money to relax me a bit.
So I’ve been going back and forth trying to listen to my subconscious and the universe about whether or not I’m supposed to do this music. My phone broke and that’s a big reminder that I’m trying to get away from using so much technology and I definitely don’t want a job where I have to sit at a computer. But also my phone broke and that’s more money I need to spend so I’m in need of work. I get this check and now it’s like I don’t exactly need the money. I want to do the music mostly because they came to me. If they reject my work, I’m fine with that. If they accept it I fear I won’t be able to deliver what they need. The worst thing I can do is tell them I’m in over my head. The best thing I can do is to do what I do and then it’s up to them if they want to hire me.
9:01PM Simply put it’s been a crazy day. The madness kicked up after I got home from work. Still I’d like to record as much of the day as I can.
I woke up early, it was still dark out. Being without my phone I pulled out an old analog alarm clock the night before and set it for five AM. I didn’t actually wake up until I heard my phone ringing later in the morning. Last night before going to sleep I sent Vanessa an email telling her to call me at five-thirty AM. I explained that the buttons on my phone didn’t work but the noise would wake me up if my alarm clock failed. My alarm clock had failed and the time on my phone was six-twenty. I had hoped to be out the door by six-thirty. I drank water and sent off my finished tracks to Kevin. I didn’t want to send them late at night so I waited until this morning to email them. The emails were failing because they were so big. Eventually I got one out. I ate a half bowl of cereal, got dressed, and packed my bag. I probably didn’t leave until six-fifty and I had to be at Vanessa’s by seven.
The sky was beautiful this morning. The sun was just peaking over the mountains as I flew down the 134 East. When I got on the 5 South cars started to gridlock. I started to get stressed and could feel tension in my body. I showed up a little late. Vanessa was already coming out the door. We packed up her car and drove to Culver City to shoot for a chocolate company.
We had a full day of work and returned to Downtown. I then drove home on the 101 North because there was a horrible accident blocking my usual path to the 5 North. The 101 is much more aesthetically pleasing than the 5.
When I got home I found Sebastian’s rent money waiting for me. I’m the one that usually takes the rent over to the landlord. Sebastian gives me cash and Balint writes a check and I write a check for me and Sebastian. Balint wasn’t home and I’d yet to receive his portion, so I was concerned that if I did go over to give the check I might overdraw my bank account. I decided to go to the bank and deposit my cash and some paychecks.
I showed up to the Wells Fargo on Riverside and they locked the door right in my face. I didn’t have my phone and so I didn’t even know what time it was. The girl said it was six-o-five and they closed at six. A guy to my left, standing at the ATMs, told me to fight it. I told the lady behind the glass that I was bringing the bank money. Still they wouldn’t let me in. One banker, who was leaving for the day, told me to try the Wells Fargo in the grocery store.
I got in line at the Wells Fargo in the Ralph’s in North Hollywood. Oh yeah, I should mention that when I left my apartment this evening I was planning to stop at the bank and then go up to Runyon for a walk around the big loop. When I tried to start my car and pull out of the garage it kept stalling. I know it was because of the heat but I sort of felt like my car was telling me not to go out. So I had this idea that something bad could happen to me tonight.
At last I got my turn with one of the tellers at the bank. I handed over my cash and asked if I needed to fill out a slip. The guy took the cash, which I thought was odd because I hadn’t filled out the slip yet, and he handed me the slip and I looked down to start filling it out. I sort of felt like I should have been watching him with the money but I trusted him. On the slip I wrote out $1050 Cash. When I finished I said, “One thousand fifty right?” He said, “I got one thousand sixty,” and he showed me the printed slip reading: $1060. I said, “Oh yeah, that seems right.” Because I realized my roommate Sebastian had accidently given me $800 for rent. The rent is $750 and when I asked him why he gave me $800 he was surprised. I counted it and sure enough it was $800. I then gave him back two twenties. He didn’t have change so I went to my room and grabbed a ten and gave that to him. I also brought $300 to the bank. So in that split second when the guy said one thousand sixty, I suddenly realized that I’d thought I brought Sebastian’s $750 rent plus my $300 cash, when really there was no ten in there, it was $760 that I ended up with after giving him the forty back. Before I could say anything else the teller at the bank said, “Let me check again.” He ran my bills and it came up as $1040.
I said something like, “That’s not right.” He ran it again multiple times and it kept coming up as $1040. Now I was kicking myself for not watching my money. I was now sure I’d brought $1060, but I’d told him I thought I brought $1050, and he was now telling me I’d brought $1040 after he showed me printed proof that I’d brought $1060. A manager started to see what was happening and he started this strange protocol. Basically the teller had to stand to the side while this manager counted all of the money in drawer and on the desk while my stack of cash sat off to the side as well. The process took a very long time, like ten minutes. I just stood there speechless, the teller was speechless, the manager was speechless.
I thought about the events of my bringing cash into that bank and I was still absolutely sure I’d brought $1060. I thought this whole protocol was ridiculous. If the machine counted my cash as $1060 one time and then $1040 another time, how could you trust the accuracy of that machine? He printed out a slip that read $1060, I wasn’t going crazy. I was stressed and sort of mad at myself for caring so much about a twenty dollar difference. I was more freaked out at the fact that I couldn’t trust my bank. I imagined if I didn’t have money or a bank I wouldn’t have to deal with such stressful breaches of trust.
Finally the manager looked to me and asked, “How much did you say you brought in?” I said $1060. He then said yeah, we got $1060 and showed me a new printed slip with $1060. He then said something like, “Thank you for your patience,” and turned it back over to the teller. I completed the deposit slip but didn’t add in my paychecks, I was too wary of the bank to give them more money. The teller then said the greatest ice breaker: “How’s your day?” I said, “It’s alright.” He said, “Crazy day huh?” I could tell he was pretty new to this job and I felt bad that anyone had to work such a meaningless job but still I couldn’t look at him without suspecting he’d done something funny with my money. Once the transaction was complete I started to walk out of the Ralph’s and the bank greeter reached out to shake my hand. I kind of shook his hand but I was sort of tripping out of my mind.
I don’t do drugs, I haven’t smoked weed in over a year, and I haven’t had alcohol in over a month, but I was tripping out of my effin’ mind driving away from there. I thought about how my car stalled and that made me late for the first bank and this all had brought me to this bizarre situation, but why?
I drove up to Runyon and parked outside on Mulholland Drive, where it’s legal to park all night. I wanted to write everything down there. I took a pen and some paper in my pocket. The sun had just set. The sky was still very blue and pink and orange. There was a city car labeled: PUBLIC SAFETY sitting in front of the gate to the park. I walked up and tried to open it but it was locked. The park is closed from sunset to sunrise but I’ve never seen them lock it directly at the moment the sun drops below the horizon. I thought, of course, it was all starting to make sense. My writing was drawing me back in. See, I’ve been working on this music for the cartoon all weekend and I haven’t been able to do my writing and now the events of my life were inspiring me to write.
I sat down on a rock outside the gate to the park. I wanted to see if the Ranger was going to start fining people. I just sat there and wrote out my thoughts on an envelope. I’ve covered most of the ideas I wrote down on the envelope but there’s one that kept ringing in my head as I thought about the fact that the park, my source of tranquility was locked: “What is this prison we’ve created?”
I asked the universe to show me some sort of sign of why my night had took such dramatic turns as if to block me from the things I truly wanted.
The Public Safety truck left and I watched as another guy about my age walked up to the gate to find it was locked. As he turned around I expressed how I despised these park laws. He said we could just go in when someone was leaving. When someone came I decided to go in. Knowing how disastrous my night had been turning out I feared I was destined to get an afterhours citation. Somehow I knew I had to break the law by going in that park. I had to do it for my sanity.
As soon as I got to a point where I could look down on the city lights all stress released for my body. I hiked up to the taller side of the park. I passed people with lights and looked at the remains of the colors of the sunset. When I got to the peak I let the winds wrap around me. These winds were extremely warm. It felt like a blanket. I was lost in the moment. I looked West and fell into a meditative state as I began to stretch my arms and breath deeper. A few people passed by me, but soon I was all alone up there. I spun around, to the east, and when I opened my eyes I saw the full moon peaking over a barely visible mountain chain. There were the mountains with the observatory in the foreground and then this faded jagged line that the moon crept over. It was huge, God-like. It was bright orange. I could feel its presence. Wonderful emotions ran through me. It was then I knew the civilized world was not for me.
I knew I couldn’t take the composing job, even if they wanted me, because I can’t bear to work a job that requires sitting at a computer. I can’t waste my time and talent working on digital entertainment. I have to follow my heart. I have to build up my body and drop technology from my life.
9:37AM I just wrote Kevin an email stating that my heart isn’t into music right now. I said they’d do better with someone a hundred percent into their craft.
11:50AM Right now I have $1,466.18 in my checking account and I owe $1,355.11 to my credit line. That’s about $100 to my name. I’ve yet to cash my new check. That’ll change things a bit. It’s funny to think I’m so close to being back in debt. I can only wonder how my year will end.
6:28PM I just woke up from a nap. I worked today but Vanessa let me go at three PM. We were setting up for a photo shoot of children tomorrow.
Yesterday I woke up at four-thirty AM and road my bike to Vanessa’s. I listened to the Genesis album Duke on the way. I left my apartment around five forty-five and it was really dark and foggy out. I hardly passed any cars through Toluca Lake and Burbank. I pissed in the bushes after crossing the horse bridge. The music of Duke went well with my ride. Certain songs seemed to rise and fall with the environment around me. I liked feeling like I was living in LA in the eighties. My bike’s from ’79 and I’m sure most of the structures I was passing were built around then.
Sometimes when I ride my bike I feel like I’m in a small jet or spaceship. It’s something to do with the smoothness and the lights I use on my bike. I could see downtown LA poking through the fog. The sky started to get light but was still cloudy as I passed Griffith Park. Coming down a slight hill I noticed a pack of hoodlums standing on the bike path. They were taking up a whole lane and the one guy started to step into my lane. They looked like they were scolding someone in a wheelchair. I didn’t really look much. They might have been pushing a shopping cart or dumping a body in the river. I got real tense as I passed them. I just kept riding strong fearing they might try to knock me off my bike and rob me. I passed and all was good. Before them the first guy I saw was jogging, I nodded to him. I then crossed the bridge over Los Feliz and passed professional bikers. I love that trail but I’m often nervous about the gangs that seem to hang out there. The rest of the ride was smooth. The album is fifty-five minutes and it didn’t end until I was off the bike trail and in the neighborhood before the Brewery. I must have got there in an hour flat.
We worked on a yogurt shoot all day. It took us until eight-fifteen. I find when I ride my bike to work the day goes much faster. I also end up looking forward to going to work as much as do leaving work.
The ride home was eerily quiet. I don’t listen to headphones at night. I worked on my breathing. I breathed deep and thus slower than the paces of my peddling. The river was quiet, silent. After Griffith Park I passed a guy with a dog and I must have freaked the dog out cause it started jumping all over the place. The part of the ride before the equestrian society is really dark but the headlights of cars on the freeway sweep through dry vegetation and light it up a bit. After crossing the horse bridge I said hello to a white girl on a horse. I didn’t think people rode at night. She was super smiley and asked how I was doing. I cruised through city to my place. I didn’t have a single altercation with a car. No one even honked at me. It felt nice.
I made potatoes, eggs, and green peas, and was passing out as I was eating.
My right leg has been feeling some pain. I don’t feel it while I’m riding and I don’t think the riding worsens it. I actually think it might be clearing things up. I still need to figure out the stretches that will relieve this nerve pain.
I passed out hard last night. I wish I worked my body that hard every day. I love passing out like that.
11:46PM This morning I woke up at five AM to go on another bike ride. I rode my bike seven miles and turned around and came back. I get a lot out of it mentally and physically, but it’s nothing compared to ancient hunting rituals I feel I’m simulating. I wish I could live at least six hundred years ago, back when there were all sorts of animals everywhere.
8:15PM Yesterday was a crazy day. I woke up at four-thirty AM to ride my bike. I listened to Face Value and rode to Travel Town. It was much darker and I used a little extra caution when driving on the rougher parts of the bike path near Forest Lawn. The air was crisp and the sky was sparsely cloudy. I realized I could see a lot of stars over the cemetery because of the lack of lights. I zoned in on the Three Kings. Recently I learned that the Three Kings line up with the North Start on December 25th. They’re getting close.
Coming back I used the light from passing cars to scan the bike path ahead. The rides are enjoyable but you always have this fear in the back of your head of some reckless driver ramming you. I keep the music low enough that I can hear the traffic. I always time my rides to the length of the album. Once again I was putting the bike away while the secret tracks played.
I thought I’d fall back asleep but I was too energized. I started cleaning up my bathroom. I’ve been wanting to clean things up and throw away shit I don’t use. I especially want to rid my life of plastics.
Today I continued cleaning. I threw away a lot of shit. I plan to throw more away tomorrow. I want to donate my clothing somewhere. It’s tough when you do acting. You’ll collect all of these random outfits so you can fit all of these different roles but a lot of the clothing I end up owning I don’t even wear and then it’s so hard to throw away because you might get called for a job or audition where that mechanic jumpsuit would have been perfect.
I’m trying to look at this cleaning process the way I did when I moved out of East Hollywood. I truly threw away everything I didn’t need in life. It was then that I realized that when you move you throw away all of these things you’d just been hording and if you didn’t horde them you would have had more closet space. I sort of have this theory that the less stuff I own the more focused I’ll be on my art.
8:07AM Today is Monday. On Saturday Sebastian and I rode the metro down to USC to see the space shuttle Endeavour. It turned out they were far behind on their schedule and we ended up walking from USC south to Martin Luther King Blvd and then to Crenshaw and south into Baldwin Hills.
The shuttle was moving very slow. Out of nowhere the mayor showed up with a few astronauts dressed in blue jumpsuits. They walked down Crenshaw as people ran into the streets to photograph them and shake their hands. I ran along with them and then when I looked south I saw the massive shuttle coming over the hill. There were thousands of people out there. The police were trying hard to control everyone and to move them to certain parts of the sidewalk but there were just too many people.
Sebastian and I found a good spot behind some bushes. We stood there thinking we’d get a good sight but then it seemed the shuttle would take too long to arrive. We then left our prime spots as more people had gathered behind us and decided to walk through the neighborhoods to come up on the shuttle. Soon we got up to it and it moved to us. Kids were climbing all over city trucks to shoot pictures with their cell phones. I walked back into the neighborhood to get shoots where you’d just see a piece of the shuttle. People were stopping their cars and walking out just to see it. All the side roads got jammed up. Eventually the police had to roll through to keep traffic moving.
The sun was setting and we’d spent a long time out there. We walked at least five miles. All along the way people were sitting on roofs and having cook outs and they could have seen the shuttle if only they were willing to walk a few miles but they just sat there waiting. The shuttle ended up arriving ten hours behind schedule. Sebastian and I cut through the Crenshaw Mall and walked north up the middle of Crenshaw. It felt like the city’s biggest block party. There were marching bands and dance performances and everything. We were walking past some fire trucks as it was getting real dark and I spotted a $20 bill wrapped in a coupon. I picked it up and said we should get dinner.
I’ve been stretching my leg and noticing relief. I’ve been doing the pigeon pose. It’s a yoga pose where you stretch your left leg back, your right leg forward with the knee bent and then you fold the knee over to the right and drop your chest over it. Heather suggested it.
I had a moment of clarity with my vision, I think it was on Friday while I was cleaning. I stopped to work out my neck and I had this old TV on the floor in my room. I was lying on the bed and I looked up to the back of this TV and I saw some writing on it. My eyes flexed and for about ten seconds I could clearly read this tiny print from about four feet away. It was incredible, it felt like I had magic powers. It was enough to keep me reading this book about vision fitness.
Today I ordered a couple pairs of glasses one with a prescription of -2.25 in each lens and on pair with -1.50. My current prescription, from a test I took last year, is -4.25 in the left eye and -2.75 in the right. I really want to even out my vision.
I told my mom about the vision fitness on the phone today. Her generation had it really bad. They were all told how the world was and they just had to believe it. They couldn’t go on the internet and look up other opinions or new age healing. I’m lucky to be alive in this time.
As information grows and technology advances I think we’ll have people who use technology to weak their bodies and minds, and they’ll be people who use this information and technology to improve their overall health. That’s simply how I see it, we live in this advanced civilization so why not use all of this progress to better yourself.
6:48PM Today I worked. Last night and today all I could think about is how everyone is destroying our planet. It’s not hard to get in that mindset when rolling through six lane gridlock traffic.
I got to work and we were shooting products for major packaging company. There I am hanging out with these people and I can tell these people don’t really like their jobs they just do it for the money and I don’t like my job I’m just there for the money, so we have these polite broad conversations and get through the day.
We were shooting the adhesives on diapers. This company wants to sell more adhesives. Babies wouldn’t need diapers if we didn’t live indoors. Diapers wouldn’t need adhesives if people weren’t lazy, they could just tie a knot. I can’t even begin to imagine the pollutants that come from developing modern adhesives.
4:00PM I just finished a day of assisting Vam. We did another architecture shoot. After we finished he laid out a lot of wisdom to me. He’s a funny guy. Every time I’m going to shoot with him he sort of acts really strict and then loosens up on the drive home. I guess I probably do the same.
I did the monthly Critical Mass ride last night. Ben and Heather came with me and we met McKenzie at Western and Wilshire. The energy was a lot stronger this month. A lot of people wore costumes and even more people were taking photos like mad.
We rode up to Hollywood. People went crazy in Hollywood. We all heard a car crash into something by the In and Out. Fortunately no one was hurt. A bunch of the riders were cheering. I guess that’s the ideal thing to happen during an anti-auto demonstration. The girls dropped off in Hollywood. We rode onward to the Zoo for the first stop. Ben and I downed water like crazy and ate trail mix. We then decided to go North through Burbank while the ride went back towards Hollywood. It was pretty bad ass, riding through the zoo in the middle of the night with a guy that looked and was dressed like Lincoln. I felt like we were riding horses through the American frontier. I should ad I was dressed as a native. They had some haunted train festival by Travel Town. It looked like some sort of 1950s carnival. I love outdoor events.
We rode along Forest Lawn, and through Toluca Lake, and as we pulled up to a red light a young guy crossed the street and I’m sure he was a bit shocked to see Lincoln and a Native American riding bikes in the middle of the night.
I drank a lot of water. We got news that Justin’s cartoon Ricky and Morty went to series. He’ll have ten episodes airing on Adult Swim next year. I passed out hard but kept waking up to piss. I then woke up at five AM for work.
Vam offered me some hot water and we sat down to talk at his house. He and David have this great house on top of a hill in Eagle Rock. It was so clear today, from winds, that we could see Century City and the Ocean. We rode in his car to the location.
We were shooting an old So Cal Gas facility in East L.A. The whole compound was surrounded by a tall barbwire fence. They said it was one of the oldest facilities for Los Angeles. We were shooting an area of the warehouse that had been converted into office space. The woman working there said they use to make gas pipe related items there but now they stuff had all been shipped overseas so they had this opportunity to repurpose the space. In the parking lot I noticed stacks of yellow plastic piping. I guess they now make all piping out of plastic.
The shoot was pretty easy. The hardest thing with Vam is cleaning off desks and having to put them back the way you found them. At one point I had to block out reflections of the camera with black fabric. I had to move all of these Halloween decorations a woman had put up around her cubical. The cube culture is so depressing. These people hang pictures of their family members. I remember seeing my mom’s cube when I was a kid. It’s sad that they work these jobs where they have to sit all day and destroy the environment in an attempt to feed their families.
We finished around one PM. Vam took me to a Chinese restaurant called Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant in Rosemead. He said it’s one of the best Chinese places in LA. They had tanks of salt water creatures in the wall. He got a small table in the back and he ordered dim sum on a sheet that was all Chinese characters and English numerals.
While we waited for the food to come he showed me landscapes he’d done. They were absolutely incredible. He’s shot at a lot of the parks on the west coast. They were comparable to Ansel Adams.
Our food came and I followed his lead. He ate shrimp wrapped in some kind of rice pasta, and then these egg balls, it was like a white pastry with sugary yellow yoke in the middle. He told me his philosophies on shooting commercial photography. He said the client must be open minded, they always have a vision and they expect you to have that same vision, but two minds never think exactly the same. He said if they’re not open minded they’ll never be satisfied. He said that’s why he requests that the art director be on set with him, otherwise he’ll shoot and then get notes and they’ll have to do it again. He said that you have to sacrifice as a photographer, they’re paying you so you do what they want. He said that no one wants to make a final decision on a set because they don’t want to be the one that messed up. He also said that if the client can just trust him and let him do what he wants they will get something great.
He told me how he was assigned to shoot the Millennium Dome in London. The client and him knew each other well and he was paid enough to give it a week’s time. He waited for it to rain and waited for dusk, that way the whole dome was reflective. He said that people who worked on the Dome were calling him up and buying copies for use, that it was a very popular shot.
He told me that you have to get creative with the pricing. He said that he’ll be hired to shoot a building and that it’s usually the design firm that wants shots. He then offers to have them pay his photographer fee and a usage fee. If multiple contractors are looking for shots of the final construction he then offers for them all to split his photographer fee and pay a smaller usage fee. It’s a win win, the more contractors, like the people who made the carpet, or cabinets, or furniture, want in, it’s less for them and more money for Vam.
While we were eating he asked me if I wanted to order some noodles. He said, “Don’t Hesitate,” that this might be my only time at the restaurant. I told him I was going to be plenty full, and I still am. It was funny that he used those words. I’ve taped the words: ”Don’t Hesitate” to the top of my computer monitor at home. It’s a reminder for me to not stay on the computer for long periods of time, and to keep my thoughts natural and true.
As we were leaving the restaurant he asked me about the election. I told him I thought the whole thing was a joke. We agreed about how it’s silly that the candidates debate about abortion rights, that was something decided decades ago. I said I think the country is so divided that nothing gets accomplished, they just argue back and forth.
11:44AM Two days ago I went down to the LA courthouse to sit in on some trials. It amazing me how easy it is to do that. It could become a new obsession of mine. The first trial I walked into was hard to figure out. First they had a finger print expert called to the witness stand. They grilled him about factors that go into getting a good print. At some point he almost directed his response right to the jury and was talking about how heat and perspiration can make it so a print can’t be detected. Some of the suits in the room started coughing and I wondered if they were coughing to express themselves or it they were genuine coughs.
I started to think it was some sort of case involving a stolen vehicle. The next person called to the witness stand was a short timid Hispanic woman. The DA pulled up a slide with a picture of a Kragen Auto Parts store. They asked her if she recognized it. They then pulled up a slide with a diagram of the inside of the store and asked where she was standing when the shots rang out. I like how slowly it all develops. It turned out that she had been working in the store when a shooting happened out in the street. She ducked behind the counter and when the shots ended they all ran to the windows to look outside. She ran to the front doors and saw three black men run past her. She said one of them was holding a gun. They asked her if she had experience with guns, she said no, they asked how big the gun was. She asked if she could show with her hands. She held up her hands about two and a half feet apart. They then asked if she recognized one of the men in the room today. She said no, that she couldn’t remember. It wasn’t until then that it dawned on me, I could be sitting in the same room as a murderer.
9:57PM Just after sundown yesterday I drove up to Runyon Canyon for a hike. It was nice and foggy. I took my time walking the big loop. It was pretty dark by the time I got to the bottom. As I climbed back up I looked for the owl. It wasn’t around. I then heard it as I got past the house in the middle of the park. I kept walking and there was one owl making deep hoos on top of a telephone pole. There was another way high up, maybe on a power tower, making higher pitched hoos. They kept calling and responding. After I passed them, before I got to the ranch with the horses, I saw this white four legged creature sweep over the path far ahead of me. I thought it was a dog, but no one was around, maybe it was a coyote.
When I got home I made some food and continued watching Eagle’s Wing. It’s a western from 1979 staring Martin Sheen. I found it on Netfilx the other night. I stuffed myself and watched the movie and started passing out towards the end. It’s a great western. It deals with Native Americans and it’s shot very creatively with minimal dialog.
I woke up abruptly after having a dream where my childhood dog, Samantha spoke to me. I’ve read that talking animal dreams are some of the strongest dreams you can have. I think it was a message about how cut off I’ve been from a love life.
Today I woke up around ten AM. I drove out to Malibu Creek and hiked to the water. The water was very stagnant at the creek. I hiked back out and drove up to Zuma to swim. I kept my phone on silent all day and didn’t even look at it until I got home. I took my glasses off and pushed sand around. I really tried to breath and de-stress. I just wanted to be one with the Earth. I ran into the water and stood in the waves and then I had the sudden urge to swim south with the current. I swam towards Point Dume. The water was incredibly clear. I opened my eyes underwater and they didn’t even burn. I kept doing it. Perhaps you get burn in your eyes from the sand and not the salt. Even now they don’t hurt, they actually feel cleaner than ever. So I swam until I came upon this big rock protruding from the water. I didn’t want to get hurt trying to swim around it so I got out. I then started jogging back to my bag. I was tired and I didn’t expect to jog the whole way but I just kept going. It felt nice to get my heart beating.
About an hour before sunset I hopped in my car and drove back to Malibu Creek. I parked at the overlook on Mulholland and was about to hike when a group of out-of-towners asked if I could take their photo. They were from Minnesota. It was two guys with one hot chick. I told them about the park and the creek, they had no idea it was down there. The guy told me to hike safe before I disappeared into the brush.
I walked along the sandy path enjoying the serenity. A baby snake wiggled by my foot. It was black and yellow, it didn’t look too dangerous. I walked to a point where I could see the dam down below. The sun was now over the peaks to the west. I sat down on the dusty trail. The wind would gust up in my face, it felt like fall time. I looked at a dry tall grass plant shaking in the wind and I thought: Nature loves you. When I think about what I’ve made my life’s purpose and what I write about, I have to think nature loves me. Nature must know what I’m doing and I like to think all the tiniest organisms of nature are helping me do what I’m doing. I know it’s silly but I really do think this from time to time and it was the main thing that seemed to help me de-stress.
I’d love to be nomadic. I think we were meant to live a nomadic lifestyle. All animals should be able to move about the country. Unfortunately there are now too many confines. Sitting on top of that mountain I could hear the sounds of water and rock and metal. I think back to these great times I had camping, running around barefoot on wooden docks, and canoeing, and eating group dinners outdoors. That’s the life I want.
As I drove home in the dark I decided not to turn on music but to take deep inhales and hum on the exhales. I did this the whole way home. It kept me relaxed and sort of made me feel like a rower on an ancient ship.
9:58AM Nature makes no mistakes. Everything in nature works in a cycle. It’s only civilized engineering that holds our species back.
9:30PM I picked up a copy of Frederic Baraga’s Short History of the North American Indians. It was written in the early 1800s by this man who was living amongst natives in the Great Lakes region.
Thus far I’ve read his introduction outlining interactions between the Colonists and the Natives. He writes that some Indians made friends with Colonists and some despised them. Indians gathered to put an end to the English while the Europeans amassed armies to fight off the Indians. Eventually Indian tribes started to band together to slaughter the Europeans and the Europeans did the same. By the 1700s most Indians were pushed away from the New England area. Fredric Baraga writes that the Indians are diminishing and he fears in a few centuries they will only be something you read about in a book.
So wise was he. He says that most Native Americans lived on the East Coast because it was so fertile, and that many were dying of hunger in his time. He also says that white men would come and trade cases of brandy for furs, the Indians would get drunk and die of accidents or they’d go and murder someone and then the relatives of that person would seek revenge, and the relatives of that person murdered would seek revenge, and so on.
It’s amazing how so called civilized people have destroyed our planet. Most humans are so easily bought off. There’s a dollar amount to sway even the most determined of men.
Yesterday was the election. I didn’t get off work in time to vote. I don’t care so much for the presidential election because it’s now so clear that the elected president of the United States has very little to do with the decisions of our government. They’re a face for the country, a representative of our people. The one thing I did want to vote on was Proposition 37. It was a new regulation that would require food manufactures to label products with genetically modified organisms. Why wouldn’t we as a people want to know what we’re eating. Most of us thought it was a no-brainer that this proposition would be voted into action. Unfortunately it was not.
I don’t have much to worry about as I tend to eat raw natural foods, but what really terrifies me is the monstrous agriculture industry that put up more than $45 million dollars to run TV and internet campaigns directing people not to vote for Proposition 37. The companies make billions of dollars by feeding people poison, and sadly most people don’t realize how harmful the foods they’re consuming are. They then end up with disorders or have children with birth defects and this is all good for the drug industry. It’s all money. As long as people can profit from the misfortune of others, they’ll provoke the misfortune of others.
4:40PM Today I drove to the hardware store, bought a gardening spade, drove up to Upper Fryman Park, hiked to the stream, and planted some old sugarplum tomatoes.
9:47AM Last night I went to this live podcast recording at Meltdown Comics with Die Antwoord. Ninja spoke of this concept of future self. He said he’d been raping since the olden days and that in recent years Yolandi told him he should rap as his future self. It’s a concept I find incredibly useful. I started thinking about my future self, and it’s basically just who you really want to be, so in a way it’s the real you. My future self would wear running sandals and furs and run everywhere I needed to go. I wouldn’t use technology or electricity, I’d mostly seek the natural joys of life. It painted this image of me and how I’d dress.
Throughout the night they spoke about each of their music videos and then they’d screen ‘em. I’d seen about half of them. It’s amazing how well done they all are. The fact that the music and lyrics are so tight helps a lot. My favorite video is Baby’s on Fire. The last one, Fatty Boom Boom, was pretty sweet too, I like their use of tribal drums.
In one of the videos Ninja says he’s a mix of all these different races and classes living in South America, rolled into one person. He said that Africa is a very spiritual place. It’s interesting to see this white man with an African upbringing. I know he’s not nearly the first of his kind, but I feel we’re reaching an age where things are different. Instead of being the white guy living in Africa, he’s the white guy from Africa.
I think the environment into which you are born has much more influence on your culture then your heritage does. I’m now seeing how this is true in my upbringing in the woods of Pennsylvania. My dad was from Michigan and my mom was from the city so my brother and I were unique in growing up in these woods. If feel this is why I have a strong interest in Native American ways of life. European’s coming to America saw the Natives as primitive, looking at their culture compared to mine today, I see them as superior.
Throughout the night chills ran through my body as I could start to feel the drive within Ninja and Yolandi. When they first came out to speak people were laughing here and there. I’ve always seen them as this crazy duo that makes funny videos with funny lyrics, but last night it was revealed to me that they’re just two romantics seeking music with a purpose. They don’t care about making millions of dollars. They want to have fun and being signed with a record company just isn’t for them.
This is something new in our culture that I quite like. Anybody can put a video up on YouTube and make money off of it. So if it does well you can then start your own independent company where you call all the shots.
At the end of the last video there was a making-of feature. There was this clip of Ninja describing a robe he’d made for the video. He said he painted all of his favorite words on the robe. Words like: Peace, faith, inspire, love. A chill really ran through my system as I realized what Die Antwoord stands for. To me it’s the answer for how to create great art, make it with a purpose other than achieving monetary wealth.
8:38AM Today is my 28th birthday. I awoke at six AM and watched the sunrise from my bathroom window. There were patchy clouds and the sky had the array of color you get from a wonderful sunset. Now the sky is all clear. There was an Earthquake centered in Universal City at seven-forty-five AM. That’s about a mile from here. It was only a 2.5 but it shook the hell out of me. I was sitting at my main computer browsing the internet. I sort of took it as a sign to get off the computer. I’m now on my laptop but at least there’s no internet on here.
There’s something about the morning after I saw Die Antwoord worth mentioning. That morning I took one of the biggest smoothest shits of my life. In dreams taking a crap is usually sign of a much needed release of toxins or symbolic to creative flow. That night with Die Antwoord has had a real impact on me. I’m feeling this crazy creative flow through my system.
1:23PM I had an amazing Thanksgiving yesterday. Just got home. I’m packing and heading out to sleep in the woods!
9:00AM I made it out alive. I just got home and poured myself a bowl of cereal with hot water. The skin on my hands and feet is still red from the cold.
Around two-fifteen PM I parked my car on a neighborhood street on the western edge of Calabasas. I drank some water and then walked along the road until I got to a trail running west. I’d never taken this trail before but I saw it lead to Malibu Creek State Park on Google Maps. It was very hot compared to weather we’ve been having. It must have been in the mid 80s. This trail took a about an hour to walk, much longer than I expected. When I entered Malibu Creek, on the Grasslands Trail, there were people all staring at some deer in the brush. I continued onward to the Mash Site. The park was very crowded.
It was about four-fifteen PM when I got to the Mash Site. I sat down at a picnic table and wrote this:
||Sometimes I don’t feel like myself. Its times that I’m in a place like this where no one knows me and I know no one that I start to feel a deeper connection to my existence than I do my identity.
The sun dissolved off the highest peaks. The moon was about three quarters full. It had started to rise as I was walking the first trail. The back and shoulders of my t-shirt were all wet from sweat. It now felt cold and I feared it wouldn’t dry, as the sun had gone down. I was sitting at the picnic table waiting for people to clear out of the park so I could secretly make my way to a rock I’d scoped out earlier this week. The plan was to spend the night on top of this rock to stay safe from animals. A father with a little boy rode down the trail on dirt bikes. The kid had this little tiny dirt bike. I didn’t even know you could have motorized vehicles in there. Lastly this huge family came to the Mash Site and took a few portraits before leaving. This woman said, “The moon is shining, we need to go.” Some of them wanted to walk back in the dark. Once they were out of site, I walked up the Lost Cabin trail. It’s a trail that leads to what is probably the center of this massive park.
The light in the sky was fading fast. I climbed on top this rock. It’s about fifteen feet tall with a slanted front, that’s how I climb up. It’s at such an angle that I believe no animals could climb up it. The other sides of the rock have a sharp drop off.
As I was standing up there I got these urges to turn back. I knew once it got too dark I wouldn’t want to hike out of there because of the possibility of a mountain lion or bear attack. Even bobcats wouldn’t be fun to deal with. My t-shirt did dry out for the most part. I put on my thermal shirt, then my fake-fur sweatshirt, then my big thin sweatshirt. I put on my ski mask but kept it rolled up so I could hear the animals around me. Once it was really dark I pulled off my pants and put on my thermal underwear, then I put my pants back on and tucked them into my black socks. Then I put on my thick long socks and pulled them up over my pants and put my shoes back on. I felt pretty cozy.
Time seems to go faster in nature than indoors. You think about that feeling of looking at the clock and seeing five-thirty and thinking you have the whole night ahead of you. At five-forty-five PM I shut off my phone.
Many creatures were stirring around me. I think they were mostly birds. There was this strange rolling noise, it was like a high pitched rolling sound. This bird was making it and then it swooped right in past my head. I stood up and flapped my arms and it flew back to where it came from.
The moon was bright enough for me to be able to write in my notebook. I had my backpack propped up next to me, I kept it zipped up but I kept a flashlight and notebook out the whole night.
I pulled out a bag of trail mix and ate. It was getting colder so I wanted to make sure by body had fuel to keep me warm. Animals were still stirring around me and I started to fear that the noise or the smell might draw them in. I especially feared raccoons. When I was in Michigan a friend told me they’re drawn to the wrinkling of plastic bags because they associate it with food. I was careful not to spill any of the trail mix. It figured it was better to eat it than to have it in my bag.
I knew I had a long night ahead of me, and I didn’t sleep much on Thanksgiving night, so I decided to lay back and close my eyes. It was rapidly getting cold. The rock was shaped in a way that made it pretty comfortable to lie in. I was lying back with my hands in my pockets and my ski mask rolled up with my glasses still on. I was looking up at the stars and air traffic. I also had a fear of a park ranger spotting me and fining me. I started to doze off and this strange noise flew past my ear. It sounded like pebbles shifting. I sat up and heard it further away and figured it must have been something on the ground. Later I saw a moth and thought it must have flown past my ear.
It wasn’t easy to sleep as it was getting very cold. My body and head were fine, but my feet, legs, and hands were cold. I tried different ways of sleeping. I slept on my back with my glasses off and the ski mask backwards and pulled down and my hands tucked into the opposing sleeves. The moon had barely moved and so I thought maybe I could spend the night writing. I wrote this:
||The fun of nature is the mystery. All art was once based off nature. Now we have movies about movies. We’ve built a shell around our imagination.
I think I got too cold to write and went back to trying to sleep. I pulled my thin sweatshirt over my legs and slept in a ball. I’d sort of doze off but whenever I heard what sounded like an animal walking through the dead grass, I’d get up, roll up the mask, and slide on my glasses. My glasses were fogged from the cold and they wouldn’t clear up until I had them on my face for a couple minutes.
I noticed the three stars in Orion’s Belt rise from the horizon. I focused in on them watching them rise so slowly and I started to feel the fact that the Earth is what’s moving. I felt like I was on a great ship.
It was my guess that the moon would take twelve hours to cross the sky, so I imagined it’d be set by two AM. I also figured I’d have to watch Orion cross the entire sky before I saw the sun rise. I really thought about making my way out of there. If it was a warmer night or if I felt safe to walk around I would have had more fun, but it wasn’t easy being up there on that rock.
I’d stand up to stretch and bounce around to try and get my body heated up. I was doing that when I saw these little black creatures fly across the rock. They were chasing each other. The one was really big. It ran to where my head had been resting, and then I was really freaked out. I’m sure it was a lizard but I wondered if it could be harmful. I hadn’t thought about lizards and spiders being able to climb the rock.
I remember guessing it must have been ten-o’clock. And then I was hoping it was at least twelve. I made a point not to turn my phone on. I wanted to truly soak in the experience. The air was so cold my feet started going numb. It must have been because I was only a couple peaks away from the ocean. I thought I was prepared but apparently not. I thought about the guy in 127 Hours and how he had to endure such temperatures. This was nothing compared to that.
I pulled my arms in the sleeves of the thin sweatshirt and then sat in a ball and pulled the sweatshirt over my knees and tucked my head into the opening and blew hot air. It actually heated up my thighs. By doing this I’d also create moisture and so it would then be a little colder. My feet were still freezing.
In the beginning of the night I heard dogs barking in the distance. In the middle of the night I heard ducks.
I was starting to fear I’d do damage to my toes. They were getting so numb. I pulled off my shoes, and emptied out the big pocket of my backpack, and then jammed my feet in there. I laid back. This is probably when I had the dream.
I had this dream where I woke up on the same exact rock. I’d slept to the point that the sun was pretty high. There were construction workers and fences, and there were now buildings in the field I’d been observing from the rock. I feared they’d see me on the rock and realize I spent the night illegally. I thought about hiding or running. The word ACT kept popping up. I don’t know if people were telling me to ACT out like, to stop them from developing the area, or if ACT was the name of the construction company.
Suddenly I woke up and I still had the mask on but I could see the moon through the fabric. I rolled it up thinking the dream meant it was going to be day. It wasn’t. Judging by the starts I still had hours to go. The backpack wasn’t as good as I hoped. I shifted back through all the different sleeping positions. Later in the night I heard coyotes and owls.
I looked to the east one time when I woke up and I thought for sure the sun was coming up. I’d rub my toes and then tuck them back in the bag and try to sleep more. Flashes of naked women would enter my head. I think the extreme discomfort was making me envision things that brought pleasure. My toes were so numb.
I woke and I thought for sure it’d be pre-dawn. There wasn’t a sign of day break.
I slept once more and this time I woke up and could see the brightness through the mask. I pulled it up and the sky was blue! Oh my god, I felt so saved. There’s this crazy thing about sleeping outdoors. It’s like a life and death think. When you don’t have a clock you just have to wait and trust that the sun will rise, and knowing that it will rise gets you through the night.
I sat and waited for the sky to get a bit lighter. Then I started to hear voices. I feared people might discover me so I slipped on my shoes. No one showed up so I figured they were voices blowing in the wind.
I was thirsty as hell but my water was cold as snow melt. I drank some and started the trek out of there. I passed people, and I saw a coyote that kept looking back at me. They’re funny because they’re afraid of people but they don’t run away like deer. I saw about a dozen deer as I exited the park and then went over to the other trail. It took two hours just as it did going in. My car was there and un-fined and un-harmed. There was a yellow bicycle lying on the sidewalk next to it. It was strange, the bike wasn’t locked up or anything. The drive home took about twenty minutes.
Now I’m here, sitting on my soft bed. My ears are red and my face feels the way it would when I’d come inside after playing in the snow.
As uncomfortable as the night was I’m absolutely glad I went out there. You need nights like that to cleanse you. I wish I could sleep outside every night. If you could have a fire it’d be quite pleasant. I like seeing the stars, and I really like that feeling of dying and waiting for the sun to save you.
1:59PM Money will just buy you a bunch of shit that will be polluting the earth long after you’re dead.
2:26PM I just went jogging around the neighborhoods. The pain from last week’s jog had completely ceased. I’m starting to notice direct relief while stretching. I bend my upper body at the waist while pushing my heels and insides of my feet into the floor. God it feels good to jog. I was about half through when these two techy guys walked from a house and asked me if I had a minute to look at a video. I kept jogging, laughed, and said, “No.’ I lifted my hands in the air and added, “The world!” Before I finished jogging I wished I’d said, “I have but only a lifetime to look at the world.” If I can get to a point where I can jog once a day I will be in ecstasy.
3:31PM Four-hundred years. If you could just go back four-hundred years you could drink out of any river or lake in the Americas.
11:17PM It’s been a rainy day here in Studio City and I’ve spent most of the day in my room. This evening I had a desire to get out and walked to the 99 cents store. When I got back I remembered a dream I had last night that took place in a nearby park. I realized I should have walked there. I decided to come upstairs and do more work and then take another break when I needed it.
So around ten-thirty I walked out through the misty air to the park. I walked through the park to where I felt I was standing in the dream and on the way I saw this white card face down on the wet grass. I thought it was just some litter and stepped past it but then I realized that might have been for me. I stepped back and picked it up and it was a soggy business card with the name Clare Vivier. It had an email and website and all that at the bottom. When I got back here I looked it up. It’s just some local clothing company. But then I put the name in an anagram solver and found it’s an anagram for “I Crave Liver.” It’s funny because I’ve been feeling faint this evening and wondering if it’s because I haven’t been eating any meat. I usually have a little piece of meat every month but I’ve been staying so true to my new vegan rituals that I haven’t had any in a long time. I gotta sleep on this one.
P.S. Couldn’t sleep on it. I just looked up the nutrition of liver and it seems liver is high in vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for your eyes. I am getting it from vegetables but I think I ought to consider eating a little meat each month and picking up some vitamins.
2:24PM I just went for a jog around the neighborhood. I didn’t feel any pain while running and I went for 1.3 miles non-stop. I didn’t even have to stop for traffic. When I was cooling down I felt pain under my right knee cap. I did my forward bend stretch before and after running. I’m not feeling the knee pain now but I’m having little shoots of pain in my foot. All said I believe I’m progressing to health.
I feel I will be able to expand my running distances from here on out. When I calculated my distance on the computer I was a shocked to find I’m only running 1.3 miles non-stop. I’ve got a long road ahead of me, but I know from experience I must to take my time. It was said in the book Born to run that man peaks as a runner around age twenty-seven. I believe this statistic to be skewed in light of how much my generation has been babied. I’ve only just begun to use my body.
5:25PM I’d like to write about my hard-drives and saved data. I bought my first computer around age sixteen with $500 bucks I’d saved up from working as a tour guide at Crystal Cave. I made music on that computer, and designed some art and graphics in a Photoshop-like program, I also downloaded a lot of music onto the machine, and even had some photos that I took with a super low resolution digital camera. I remember buying an external hard-drive. It might have had a gig of space.
I used the drive when I first moved to Los Angeles. My mother mailed my computer equipment a couple months after I got here. The drive lasted a few more years. This was 2003. I wasn’t really downloading, taking photos, or creating music, and it was in 2007 that I got a new computer. This machine had a lot more storage space and this is what I used to make music with the Sleepless Knights. I actually just disposed of this computer earlier this week.
I believe I bought a new external drive in 2008 when that computer filled up. I was working at VH1 and I had the money to buy one. I really think it was while I was living alone that I bought it. I was feeling this need to have a backup of everything. It was also while I was making that VH1 money that I bought an even bigger drive, something like five-hundred gigs and I filled it with everything and took it on a trip back to my mother’s house for the holiday and that’s where it now sits. Every year I go back, I back things up on it.
When I moved to Studio City and got into filmmaking I bought a terabyte drive. On the day I was exporting my Channel 101 show I dropped the drive and it hasn’t worked since. I was so devastated and in a state of disbelief when it happened. I thought about all of these files and it’s like I knew they couldn’t have been deleted from the drive, but it broke to a point that they were no longer accessible. I looked up ways to recover data online and I spoke to a friend who had similar stories. He told me he had drives sitting in a closest waiting for a time when it becomes easier to recover the data. So that’s where my drive now sits, in the closet, waiting for technology to advance.
I bought this drive made from bamboo and recycled aluminum to replace that one. And more recently I’ve purchased a two terabyte drive as my main back up. This drive has all of the data I’ve saved my entire life, minus the crashed drive. It has reports I did in high school, videos I made in my twelfth grade telecom class, all of the photographs I’ve taken including scans of photos my parents took, and even photographs my parents grandparents took. It has all of the music I’ve created, my journal entries, including journal entries I transcribed from when I was in elementary school. The drive has all of the music I’ve collected since high school. It has it all, including a copy of this document. I really do need to make a backup of that drive. See now I’ve put all of my eggs in one basket, which is great, but to be totally safe you need a total backup and a backup of that backup. I guess I’ve just reached a point where I’m not so interested in the preservation of all of this data.
Basically I’ve come to realize that these computer files do nothing for my health. I use a hard-drive, and then it fills up and you have to buy a bigger one, and then you’re stuck with this hunk of metal and plastic that won’t decompose and no one wants it because the new hard drives are smaller and store more data. I can lug this drive around the rest of my life but that means I’ll have to protect it which limits what I can do with my life. I could try hiding it or storing it somewhere but then I risk someone finding it and releasing all of my private information. I wouldn’t care for my information to be released after I die, but then you think of my children and the effect on them to be exposed to it. Most of the children of wealthy families you see in the news are so messed up emotionally. It’s because they don’t have their own identity.
I feel it’s best for everyone to have a clean slate. It’s also unhealthy to hold onto the past. It’s great to have some good memories, but to have clear photographs and direct transcriptions of things said, well it kills the whole art of storytelling. You start thinking that something is important simply because it’s been preserved for a long time. What’s really important should instantly come to memory.
If nothing was recorded then I wouldn’t have gone to school. My parents would have simply taught me how to get by in the world. But because so much has been recorded and preserved you then have to sift through it all, there are different organizations fighting for all sorts of different knowledge to be taught in our schools. Really we just need to know how to feed ourselves. Because happiness is not measured by knowledge. The most brilliant minds in the world are the ones that brought us the technology to destroy the Earth. We need to put more focus on enjoying life for what it is, than altering the world to suit our selfish desires. Animals don’t need to own property, money, or possessions to survive.
A hard-drive will not work in the event that the power goes out. And if this were to happen in my lifetime imagine how much of a fool I’d feel like for having spent so much time building this drive. What’s the point of simply passing information to the next generation without taking time to explore the mind? Human thought can never be fully transcribed into written word. All of the data on that drive is simply a replica of something inspired by nature. A photograph is but a replica. To work with computers is like poking at ideas with a stick. If you really want to be inspired you must use all the senses.
You think about all of the elements of the Earth that have been mined to make a hard-drive, you think about the rivers polluted by this act, you think about the countries corrupted by this business, and you did it all just to save some data, so that after you were dead someone could think you were important. Who the hell wants to feel important when their dead?
I do like paintings, and sculpture. It’s more the fact that the materials of a hard-drive are so permanent. Who would want such permanent information about themselves to remain long after they’re dead?
9:03PM The faster you travel the further you must go to feel you’ve gotten away.
9:56PM Have you ever felt your soul pulled by evil one day and pushed towards good the next, but you grew up in a society so far removed from good that you didn’t feel right being good. And evil was so well welcomed by those around you that it didn’t seem so bad. That’s what it’s like to live in the year 2012.
The streets are littered with advertisements displaying happy healthy faces promoting products that make you weaker and destroy the environment. While there’s no place within walking distance where I can fill a bottle with clean drinking water, or land that I’m permitted to grow vegetables upon. In the society in which I live all of my species natural needs, with the exemption of sunlight and oxygen, are only acquired with monetary wealth.
You look at every other creature on Earth and they’re free to do whatever they want. This is where education has ruined us. The human race has used its advancements in brain capacity to imprison itself. The only members of the human race that are free are those with access to unlimited money. I have a hunch there are more poor people in the world then there are wealthy. So the big question on my mind is: Why do poor people keep purchasing unessential possessions sold by the wealthy to further profit the wealthy?
Because if all of the poor people in the world gave up interest in money, and started living off the land, than no one would be rich enough to pollute the rivers, lakes, oceans, and forests, that were designed by nature to provide for all of mankind, free of charge.
Nature loves you. She wants you back.
8:13AM We finished the Veggie Grill shoot last night around nine PM. At the end of a big shoot like that the Chefs must clean all of their food and dishes. The food stylist must clean and pack up all of her food and props. And then Vanessa and I must tear down the lighting and unload the camera. I take out the garbage, the list goes on. What I’ve realized is it’s like this on every set. If you really want to bond with a crew, you need to stay late the first day.
I’ve got one week until my flight to New York City. I work two more days guaranteed. I feel confident I’ve made enough money to get me comfortably through my two weeks off.
I’ve been listening to this Black African and West Indian accent training CD I picked up from the library. It’s by David Alan Stern. I listen to it in the car and it makes me relax during my commute. I’ve listened to some of David Alan Stern’s other accent CDs and I must say Black African is my favorite. I like how they use their whole mouth to vocalize. It’s soothing. I’m also finding it’s helping my singing. I was belting out the songs, last night on the drive home, with better pitch and less effort than ever before.
7:22PM Later this morning I logged on to Facebook and I girl I went to high school with, Georgia, posted a link to a news story and video about my man who died yesterday in a motorcycle accident.
His name’s Matt Bortz. I went to school with him from kindergarten to tenth grade. He also went to my church. The article said that he was riding his motorcycle down a two lane road outside of Fleetwood when he tried to pass two cars in a no passing lane and ran head on into a tractor trailer truck. They said he was wearing a helmet, boots, leather, and gloves, but he died on the scene. I’m friends with him on Facebook and he has all of these photos of his daughters on this page. They’re probably one and three years old.
At first I tried to think of all my memories of him. The first one to come out was when I was in high school. He moved into my neighborhood and I remember going over to his house. We played video games in his basement. One night we set up a massive game of Golden Eye for Nintendo 64. Another memory came up. He was on the volleyball team with me and some other friends that lived close. He was one of my first friends to get a car. It was this sporty white coupe. One day after practice we went driving around these country roads by our neighborhood. We started gunning it around the turns. The car skidded off the road and we stopped just before hitting a telephone pole. The whole event was pretty exciting.
I can’t believe he’s gone. You wonder how he could have tried such a risky maneuver when he had these young children. As I try to step into his mind I think that he was seeking risk and excitement. He has photos of motorcycles all over his Facebook and some links to bikes he desires. I think everyone in modern society is seeking more exhilarating activities. It’s not fun living in the modern world. You sit down and push buttons most of the day.
He’s the closest peer of mine to die. I probably would have never seen him again. I got to thinking about my high school friends. You spend so much time bonding with them and your whole life you’ll find people you meet that remind you of them, but those original school friends are your core group, it’s a bond that lasts a life time.
This afternoon I went jogging. I did the 1.5 mile loop non-stop. I felt some pain in the upper left side of my right foot throughout the jog. I did my stretches afterwards and was able to relieve the pain.
Today is Thursday. On Tuesday I worked twelve hours and Wednesday I worked thirteen hours. They gave me a lot of leftover food to take home last night.
Matt Bortz got me thinking of something unique about my generation. I was born indoors and later went outside. I watched movies before I saw live performances.
8:48PM Today I worked with Vanessa. I had to do some heavy lifting and I’m really feeling it now. Yesterday I worked out, thinking I wouldn’t have much physical work to do today. I noticed the mole on my right cheek is changing. They say that’s a sign of skin cancer. I’d rather just wait and see what happens than pay a doctor to look at it, because if it is cancer there’s no way I’d be able to afford the surgery or treatment or whatever the hell they have to do.
I keep thinking about Matt Bortz. This evening my mother sent me an email with the subject line: sad news. Inside she wrote about his death and put a link to his online obituary. It didn’t really sink in until I saw that, with his picture and everything. I dug into my hard-drive yesterday and found these photos I’d done in 2001.
I bought a digital camera when they first came on the consumer market. The quality on mine was shit, but out of about a dozen photos I’d taken in high school Matt was in three. In one he was making a silly face, in another he was pulling his eyes down to make a creepy face, and in the third he was wearing fake glasses made from paper. The photos were taken in a study hall we had together in ninth grade. He was a funny guy. His funeral is Monday and it’s going to be in the church we went to as kids. I wish I could be there. It’s sad to think that I might have never seen this guy again but now that he’s dead I wish I could go to his funeral. The thing is, I’ve never been to a funeral.
I think about death, and you think about how precious life is, and then you think about how most people live their lives. They pile up so much crap and give a lot of their attention to electronic entertainment. It’s a sad way humans live. In the wild animals live to the fullest and when they die, they die. You live and as far as I believe you live again. That’s the way to live. To waste your time with things that will outlive you seems like such a waste.
Seeing Matt’s death makes me want to get on with my life. If I could do anything right now, I’d love to be training for Marathons.
4:27PM I’m depressed. I did some heavy lifting on Friday at Vanessa’s and now I’m having this horrible pain in my lower back. I feel it when I’m standing, walking, and lying in bed.
There was a delivery of props on Friday and I took a dolly down to pick things up. Vanessa started freaking out about how long it was taking and she moved the chairs and tables around and threw me in the elevator with these heavy tables and no dolly. When I got to her floor I wanted to make her happy and get them all moved out but I know it was while lifting them that I really pulled something in my lower back. I’ve mentioned it a thousand times but I’ll say it again: nothing makes me more depressed then living in ill health.
Animals get killed when they get injured, that it’s. For humans you have to live with this damn pain. I’d give all of my possessions and every penny in my bank account to have perfect health. I’d even do it for the health I had before Michigan. God, to think at the beginning of this year I was so goddamn healthy. I could have been jogging all the past years of my life and now I have these urges to jog and I’m fucking dying of back pain.
I’m trying to convince myself to love the pain. Being angry about your pain just makes it worse. I have to love it with all of my heart. Tomorrow will be my last work day of the year.
I plan to get some good rest over my break and hopefully in the new year I can get back to jogging.
Yesterday I mailed Trader Joe’s food to my Mom’s house. Last night was the big Bad Santa party.
I think it’s horrible that I’ve spent my whole childhood learning in school, and coming home to watch TV and play video games, but not spending much time building up my health. I played some sports but my parents never pushed me much so I didn’t work hard at it. Now I’m twenty-eight years old and I just work these jobs that are destructive to my body so I can have money to feed myself. I’m not really doing anything. The best thing I can do with my life at this point is try to make living better for future generations.
2:34PM I’m so damn depressed. This pain in my lower back is as strong as it was Saturday morning. It’s clear to me now that it will be a long recovery.
Let me explain exactly how this happened. Friday we were preparing for a shoot we did Monday, yesterday. This coffee company Don Fransico’s wanted to shoot portraits and they wanted it to look like a house. This coffee truck showed up and they had all kinds of boxes and tables for us to bring upstairs. They were on the phone with Vanessa telling her that the delivery man had to keep moving to deliver coffee around town so they hoped he could just drop the props. Vanessa was telling them that they had to bring it up to the studio, that she’s just a photographer, not someone that moves props.
Anyway I went down to help the guy out, was having a friendly conversation, and I took a dolly to load the props onto. We loaded it up and I took it upstairs. I unloaded everything and took the dolly into the elevator. When the elevator doors opened at the first floor Vanessa was there with the guy, and the rest of the tables. They were trying to push everything in the elevator and Vanessa was in freak out mode. Sometimes she gets into this freak out mode where someone is in her ear telling her to hurry, so then she’s in my ear saying, “We’ve got to move, we’ve got to move.”
So she can’t see that I have the dolly in the elevator and I tell her and she says, “We don’t need it.” I then tucked the dolly in the corner and they loaded the tables all around me in the elevator. I got to the third floor and suddenly I realized I was going to have to move all of the stuff out of the elevator on my own. Vanessa was at the first floor with another load, and I put it all together in my head, that she sent me up with this load, thinking I’d unload it, and send the elevator back down to her.
So I hit the stop button on the elevator and started unloading everything. I couldn’t use the dolly because it was stuck in the back. Once everything was out I sent the elevator back down to Vanessa and waited. She didn’t show up. She has a thing where she doesn’t like me leaving things sitting out or leaving the door unlocked because she’s said things disappear easy around there. My goal was to then get these tables inside her studio before going downstairs to help her. I lifted these very heavy tables and it was then that the injury occurred. Vanessa came huffing and puffing through the door a little later and I asked what happened. She said the elevator had come down to her but it wasn’t working.
So here I am. Sitting in my room doing breathing exercises trying to heal my back. This is so very depressing for me because I just spent five months healing off an injury that occurred over the summer. The past two weeks I finally got back into jogging. Jogging means the world to me. It keeps me fit, healthy, sane, it helps me creatively, it really means everything to me. If I could be doing anything with my life right now I’d be training to be a marathon runner.
So now I’m fucked. I can’t workout. A sitting job would be bad for my back, a lifting job would be bad for my back. I’m simply going to spend my holiday sitting around healing and I can only hope I’m healed by the time I return, otherwise my money will all run out by the end of January.
Health is everything. I wish I could have left the city while I was in good health a week ago. Next time I’m healthy and debt free, I’m making a run for it.
12:58PM I’m resting on George’s couch. We just took the subway down to the Museum of Modern Art. We ate at Rockefeller Center and then took a train down to the High Line Park. My back was really hurting from all the standing.
My flight went well. Once I took my seat on the plane I passed out for most of the flight. When I was checking my bag in I dropped my notebook wallet and my cards and money spread all over the floor. This woman behind me said it was good luck, that it meant it was going to rain money for me. Later I looked back at her and could see she had a cane and that they’d brought a wheel chair for her. I was feeling her pain. I’m envious of anyone that can live with a physical disability.
The flight only took four and half hours. We flew over Manhattan and then past JFK and out over the ocean. I’ve never noticed this big bridge crossing from Staten Island, it’s the last bridge before the Atlantic Ocean. Kind of like a Golden Gate of the East. The pain in my back was pretty prominent while sitting on the plan. I pressed my forearms into the arm rests to lift my upper torso up for relief.
I’d made a reservation for a shuttle from JFK to Grand Central Station. The last time I was here I had to carry my bag up the stairs from the subway. It was hard enough then and I knew if I had to do that this time I’d surly damage my back more.
A man came and took my reservation form along with this other woman’s. He loaded our luggage into the van and then opened the doors. The shuttle was completely packed. The people were looking at us and I could make out they were speaking German. The woman, her daughter, and I each squeezed onto a row and we shut the doors. The ride took at least an hour. I tried to make out the German but couldn’t keep up.
As we drove past the outskirts of the city I noticed them say a word that sounded like ‘fences’. I thought they were noticing all of the fences and so I took notice to them. All of the houses had fenced off front yards, the patches of grass and trees were fenced off, the play grounds were fenced off. The sun fell beyond Manhattan as the skyline rose into our view, and then we drove through the tunnel.
Instantly it was very exciting to be in New York. I like the age of the buildings. I like seeing the sculptures on facades and knowing they are real stone, crafted by hand. I killed time walking around Grand Central until George was off work. There’s now an Apple store in the station, with light-up Apple logos in the stone walls. It almost looks as if they’ve purchased the landmark.
I met George in the lobby of 575 Fifth Avenue. I love seeing all of the different cultures in New York. There seems to be no racism. Everybody is moving around. It’s not easy being here with such an injury. There’s so many beautiful women.
We walked back to Grand Central and he helped me lift my bag up stairs. While I was waiting I bought a seven day metro pass for twenty-nine bucks. He helped me carry the suitcase down stairs and we got on the subway.
I really appreciated his help with my bag but by the time we got to his place I was regretting stopping in New York. I remembered that he doesn’t have an elevator in his building and I suddenly wished I’d just gone from Grand Central to the bus station and headed down to Pennsylvania.
After we settled for a minute we walked out to a Chinese place for dinner. I had a delicious and filling plate of seafood pad Thai. We walked back to his place and I kind of wanted to just stay out and walk around all night. The pain is worst when I’m sitting. Standing can be bad but walking is alright.
We just came back to his place and hung out. He played some guitar and looked up happenings on the internet. He pulled out this yoga mat and I laid on it on this hardwood floor. It felt really good because my lower back is lifted while lying on a hard surface. If I lay on a couch or bed the padding packs into my back and makes the pain worse.
George lives on the upper East side, just before the Bronx. Living in New York is kind of like being on a giant collage campus. You have this little tight apartment and then you can easily walk wherever you need to go, or catch a subway. The hardest thing for me is the food. Fruit is expensive here. It’s about triple the cost of Trader Joe’s.
I had some crazy dreams last night. I slept on this hardwood floor and the dreams were pretty positive. I was flying in them, and so I think the hardwood floor is good for my back. I plan to keep sleeping on a hard surface until this thing heals up. I’m starting to have more faith about it healing. It’s been a week since I injured it and it’s really felt like a prison sentence for me. You think about getting older, and to think your body is damaged so bad just makes you not want to live. It’s very hard to deal with such a situation. Mostly I’m stressed about going back to LA. It will be easy staying at my Mom’s place, that will be the perfect place to heal. But when I get back to LA I don’t know how I can earn money without lifting or sitting. I just hope I can heal by the end of January because that’s when I’ll be running out of savings.
9:31PM I’m hanging out in the basement of my mom’s house in Mertztown, Pennsylvania. As much as I hate cable TV, I do have the TV on. I’m watching a program where Oprah talks to Jamie Foxx about his career. Out of hundreds of channels this is the most interesting thing I can find. Animal planet had a program called Wild Men, or something like that, but it just turned out to be a show about country guys catching squirrels and it kept cutting to corny processed interview clips.
1:44PM My bus arrived to Kutztown yesterday around three-thirty. I left my metro pass in the bus station with a note stating that it’s good till Thursday and someone should use it.
We got back to the house. My mom put me in my old bedroom. After I moved out nine years ago it became a living space for my Step-dad’s parents when they got sick. I looked at the bed and remembered Joyce had died in that bed and Gus laid their until they moved him to a nursing home. At no point was I given a choice of which bedroom I’d like to sleep in.
After unpacking some of my things I went outside for a walk. It’s a little warmer here than New York. I walked around the pond and through the trees. I found this nut that comes in a big soft ball that turns brown as it dies. I peeled off the ball. I think it’s a walnut, they must be walnut trees outside. I tried cracking the nut between two rocks but wasn’t able to break it.
4:05PM Last night going into my old bedroom all I could think about was how Joyce’s ghost might be there. She’s nice and I know she wouldn’t do anything to scare me, but still I was a little freaked out. I slept on the floor by the window, for this reason, and for my back. I fell asleep but awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of my phone ringing. It was so bizarre. I thought I’d turned the ringer off and I couldn’t imagine who’d be calling me at that time. Feeling like it might have been Joyce trying to contact me from the dead I walked across the black room to the illuminated phone. I picked it up and the screen was all scrambled, you couldn’t make anything out. This is not a joke! I was freaking out. I held down the end call button until the whole thing shut off. I figured it was her way of telling me to do away with some of the electronics.
12:34AM Strange things happen to the mind when watching TV. You lose your own conscious thoughts. You just start believing everything they tell you. I feel like some kind of wise old man amongst a herd of cattle. It’s funny how it took me moving to the city to realize nature is the only way to live.
6:52PM I just showed Forks Over Knives to my mother. Towards the end she said something like, I can’t believe this isn’t a more popular documentary.
1:35PM Last night while sitting in the hot tub looking up at the stars I realized I was sitting in the same angle I was the night I spent in Malibu Creek State Park. It also occurred to me that as you look at the constellation Orin as a man, and lay back in a way that mirrors him, his head will be to the north and his feet to the south and he will move east to west like the sun.
10:48AM Last night a storm came through here. It was raining and occasionally there were strong gusts of wind. I showed the documentary 2012: Time for Change to my mother. After she went to sleep I read more of American Psycho. Around eleven PM I put on some snow pants, boots, a winter jacket, and I walked outside. Rain was splashing against my coat. I ran across the street to this big field. I walked way out in the field. From one angle you could see the valley of Kutztown, but if I turned I could fill my vision with a dark forest. I liked looking into the dark woods. It was like this mysterious void where anything could be happening.
Two nights ago while I was sitting in the hot tub I saw a shooting star to the south west. I wished for better health.
8:31PM I’m back and fed after an epic hike. I drove out to a trailhead near Edenburg, PA without a problem. When I parked there was one other car and someone else pulled up as I was starting my hike. I waited at a fork and asked this older guy directions. He gave me the low down on the park.
Right when you turn onto the Appalachian Trail you have to cross a river. There was a man there dressed on in bright orange and at first sight I thought he was fishing. I asked the man in orange what he was doing and he said sectional hiking. I wasn’t sure so I asked him to elaborate and it turned out he’s in the middle of a two-thousand mile hike along the Appalachian Trail. He started in West Virginia and he’s going to New Hampshire. He said he’s gunna to go skiing.
I sat there for a while interrogating the bastard. He said at some point he’ll pick up a pair of snow shoes. He said he hikes in the winter because he thinks it’s absolutely beautiful in those parts. While I spoke to him he boiled water from the creek and poured it into a bottle, and he seemed to be making a soup. He told me about these shelters along the trail. The rule is that they have to me missing one wall, but you can camp in them along the way. His name is Lasher. He said, “Lasher, Long-Ass-Sectional-Hik-ER.” I headed off on my hike and he said, “See you on the trails someday.”
The Appalachian Trail is marked with little white rectangles. They paint them on trees or rocks and when there’s a double rectangle it means the trail takes a sharp turn. I had hiked to the pinnacle when I was in Boy Scouts but I wasn’t recognizing anything. When we did that hike it was probably the summer because I remember everything being lush. I remember crossing a creek but it was bigger. When you’d hike in boy scouts you were usually looking at the feet of the person in front of you and you were talking to people around you, horsing around.
There are dense trees all along the trail and in the beginning I was climbing north but mostly heading east. It was snowing. Lasher said last night was the first he’d seen snow since starting his hike. The mountains in the distance look blue. There were rocks along the trail that were covered in a pale green moss. There are a lot of rocks along the trail, at times there are these rivers of rocks.
I stopped at an overlook about halfway to the main peak. You look out and see farm fields and trees. Near this overlook there was a big field with silos that had been converted to house telescopes. The first guy I met said they have star gazing parties up there. I was stuck in my head most of the way. At one time I got lost and I’d often see these fire circles with burnt wood. I’d have to back track and find a white marking.
At some point the trail turned into a river. There was steady water running down the dirt. I walked off trial and then I saw another hiker, he had music turned up so loud he didn’t notice me at first. I waved and he looked startled, probably because I was off the trail coming towards him. I also noticed these guys wear bright colors and my jacket is brown and pants were black. He asked where I was going and I said the Pinnacle. He said he had to get back before dark and although he didn’t say it he seemed concerned like I wasn’t going to be able to hike there and back before dark.
I continued up the trail and sometimes I’d breathe deep and hum as I exhaled. The air was so cold I couldn’t keep it up. The snow was falling and melting most of the way but as I got towards the Pinnacle it was starting to stick to leaves and fallen trees. Finally I reached the peak.
All of these rocks jut out of the dirt and then there’s a very sharp drop off. There even seem to be caves within the rocks. The snow and scenery made me think of the Revolutionary War. It was nice to look out and see only farms and small towns. I could even see the flashing lights of police cars or fire trucks in a distant town. I tried to imagine what it would have looked like to see only trees below.
Near the Pinnacle there was this massive pile of rocks. It was obviously put there by man, but I can’t tell if it’s something people have done over time or if it was a project done long ago. It reminded me of a burial mound.
The first man I’d spoke to told me that there was another trail I could take back and it would loop around to the parking lot. I wasn’t listening to him very well and I’d expected my memories of hiking the trail to come back to me but they didn’t. I continued on the Appalachian Trail and was told the looping trail would be marked with blue rectangles. It was getting dark fast and again the trail was turning into a river. One of my socks got a little damp and I was losing confidence in finding this new trail. I turned around knowing it would be hard to see these trail markings in the dark.
I saw a man in bright orange coming towards me and called out, “Lasher!?” I didn’t mean for it to be a question but that’s how it ended up. He didn’t respond and then I saw him pull a headphone from his ear and he said, “Hey, you’re still up here.” I told him I was lost so I was going head back the way I came. He looked like he was in a different world. I took off out of there and ended up getting the other sock a little wet. Light was fading fast.
I got back to the giant rock pile and started making my way out of there. Soon I could see a pinkish-orange blob where the sun dropped below the cloud line. That 2012 documentary I watched last night got me thinking about mushrooms. I wanted to eat some but I feared I might poison myself. I ate some needles from a pine tree instead. They tasted minty, and I felt more of a connection to the earth. I hadn’t seen any animals. They must live lower at this time of the year. I only saw a few birds.
Light was dropping super fast and I was starting to slip on the wet rocks. My back didn’t really hurt and my right leg was doing fine. I kept telling myself to be careful. Soon I could see the telescope silos and I ran across that field. When I got to the first outlook it was super dark but I could hear voices. For a minute I thought my ears were playing a trick on me but then I saw two figures standing on the rocks, they seemed to be drinking beers. I didn’t say hello and I’m not sure if they even noticed me. I just wanted to get the hell out of there and I knew I still had a good hour of hiking.
There was this whole slope of rocks and I lost sight of the trail markers while climbing down. I had to climb back up and find them. Then I found the dirt trail. It was almost pitch black now.
I hiked down what was now familiar terrain. I think we must have taken a different trail when hiking with the Boy Scouts, because I didn’t see anything I recognized. I kept moving down the trail and every time I slipped I’d slow down and tell myself to be careful. At some point I heard rustling in the leaves and as much as I wanted to see an animal, I wanted to get the hell out of there. There was no cell signal so I’d turned my phone off, hoping to conserve power in case there was an emergency. I saw a sign nailed to a tree with the number 1.8. I figured that’s how many miles I had left.
Soon I saw a sign pinned to a tree and I thought it said reservoir with an arrow. It was so dark I stuck my hand up and felt the letters and confirmed it was an R. I walked a little but then I felt lost. I pulled out my camera. When you push the button down halfway a light comes on to help the camera focus. I used this light as flashlight and found the sign read SHELTER. I didn’t remember passing this shelter, it was one like Lasher talked about with the one wall missing. I passed it and kept walking and tried to avoid stepping in water and then I started to think that I might have passed the parking lot and was now on the Appalachian Trail heading east. I sort of started to freak out and I could imagine my mom getting concerned that it’d been dark for a little while and she’d yet to hear from me.
I could hear running water so I knew I was close to that creek I crossed in the beginning. I followed the sound of the water and this lead me to a road and soon I found the bridge where I’d met Lasher. I then crossed and walked down another road and I saw my mother’s Prius.
I turned on my phone and sure enough there was a message from my mom. I drove back home in this egg-like pod car with the heat turned high. The whole hike took about four and half hours and I think I went nine miles. I got back and ate some chilly my mom made. I’m heating up the hot tub, planning to watch a movie, do some reading, and more eating.
I just built a bonfire outside to light up tonight. I shaved my facial hair for the first time in over a month. I feel fresh.
10:08PM Last night after sunset I was walking on the treadmill watching a documentary called King Corn. My mom ran downstairs to tell me it was snowing. It was like one of those Christmas miracles. When I finished my hour walking I ran out onto the driveway, barefoot and shirtless, and there was a good half inch of snow.
The snow kept falling and I went out to light up my fire. It was now covered with the white stuff. It took a little work to keep it alive but soon I had a blazing inferno. As the fire burnt I started packing snow and I rolled it around to make a snowman. It’s something I never experienced as a kid, to play around in the snow and then have a big fire to warm yourself at. This is something the Native Americans must have enjoyed.
9:12PM Some pain in my lower back and right leg has come back today. Yesterday I felt amazing. I walked about three miles on the treadmill, and then I ran out into the snow and played around. I was lifting large logs for the fire and pushing large balls of snow to build a snowman. I felt no pain last night, but today, this morning and now I’ve been experiencing pain.
I’m concerned. I’m set to ride the train back to LA in a couple days and I’m sure I’ll get there, and I’ll be avoiding work, trying to heal my back. And I fear I might not be able to make money or I might go back to working and never allow my back to heal. I’d do anything for my health. Really! I’d do anything to return to the state of health I was at in the beginning of 2012.
So now, I’m sitting in the basement, Christmas night, watching documentaries on Netflix, and it’s got me thinking I should stay here longer. I haven’t mentioned anything to anyone but I’m thinking I should look into delaying my train ticket and see how big a penalty they’d charge me. If it’s $100 dollars or less I’ll consider staying here. Even if I only stay until January fifteenth, that’s three more weeks of rest.
10:27PM Tonight I changed me Amtrak ticket. To my surprise you’re able to change it without any extra fees. My new one was actually cheaper. It cost $196.00 so I got $40 back. I’ll be leaving here on the ninth of January 2013. That’s 13 more days here. I plan to take it easy but I’d like to spend some time on the treadmill.
12:55AM It’s starting to feel like I live here. It’s a far different world than the one I went to high school in.
11:13PM Tomorrow’s the last day of the year. What a crazy fucking year. Last year at this time I was in debt. This year I’ve got about two grand in the bank, but no potential signs of income. 2012 has been a crazy ride. I got to travel to Austin, Texas. I booked two national commercials. I had an amazing vacation in Michigan. I became wealthier than I’ve ever been in my life. I was fitter than I’ve ever been in my life. I signed with a major commercial agency. I had the Head of Development at Nickelodeon Animation contact me regarding my music. And now I’m sitting in my mother’s basement all alone thinking about the past, dreaming about the future.