Do You Think You’re Better Off Alone?

About 18 years ago I first heard this song called “Better Off Alone” by Alice Deejay. I remember hearing it in a club, in Atlantic City, high af, and you could say it came into my life at a time when I questioned the exact title to the song. At that point I had had enough of living in NJ, not knowing who my friends really were, and I didn’t feel like there was anything left there for me. In some ways, I felt like I was better off alone.  So I chose to be alone, and I left the East coast for good.

I moved to Seattle in July of 2000. I was barely 24 and I wasn’t there more than twenty five minutes when my friend picked me up from the airport, got me stoned, and played a version of Better Off Alone I had never heard before. I remember being driven back to his parents house slightly nauseated from the night before and incredibly inspired knowing that I made the right decision in life because that song found a way to follow me to my new place. I might have thrown up in the toilet downstairs the fist day I moved to Seattle, but I was fucking ready for my next adventure, and for the time being, I was better off alone.

I lived the next 18 months of my life impulsively, purposefully, and spiritually. I came to the point where I fell in love for the first time again, and I experienced all these emotions and drug fueled responses to the idea that maybe, I wasn’t better off alone and perhaps having someone in my life to love and to trust was becoming a better option. I found someone who would listen, and someone who would talk to me, unafraid of becoming too exposed to the hard truth of being honest.

For one reason or another that time didn’t last forever, and as I was packing up my Mitsubishi Eclipse on a warm rainy day in March of 2002, I again thought to myself, I know I made the right decision. Perhaps I AM better off alone, and I knew I was. It was the only way for me to protect my heart and my feelings and not allow them to be broken or distorted again. I got really good at just moving on in life and only relying on myself and being ok being alone.  In some ways I am really proud of that independence, but in other ways, it made me so jaded and lovesick for years that it’s hard to see how it did me any good.

Years would go by and I would move to southern California and I would forget all about this song. I would get so wrapped up in the idea of living in Hollywood and pursuing my dream that I wouldn’t have time to question it, reflect on it, or even think about the fact that maybe I was wrong. Was I better off alone?  I didn’t really care at that point because I was surrounded by other people doing the same thing.

It’s such an empowering and extremely lonely thought at the same time. Am I better off alone? I don’t know. The parameters of deciding whether or not I was have changed so many times in my life. Now it had been 7 years since I heard that song and one drunken night in the summer of 2008 I started listening to electronic music again and thinking back to those times almost a decade ago.  I needed a reason for every action, a cause to fight for, and I questioned everything in life as I  wondered, Am I?

Now it’s 2017, and life has reached it’s point on the circle where it becomes full like the moon. Here I am again  in the living room of  my apartment in North Seattle, questioning the answers and provoking my thoughts yet again.

Am I better off alone?

That’s the question right? For years it has been Yes, then No, then Yes again,  but I can assure you that I have felt nothing but the epitome of aloneness these last few months and it fucking sucks. I’m tired of being alone.  I’m tired of being so far away from my friends and my family. Sure, it’s been wonderful to have experienced all the things in life I have had the chance to experience, but for the first time in 17 years I’m thinking that no, I am NOT better off alone. I want someone to share these experiences with. I desire the familiarity of a place I know like the back of my hand and as much as I love the Pacific Northwest…it ain’t gonna happen here. I’m not better off this way, and finally I know now that it’s time to come home.

I will always love this song, no matter what remix I hear. I will always remember how instrumental the lyrics are for me even though they haven’t changed.  They remind where I’ve been, and where I came from. They remind me to always take stock in the fact that even though I’m independent, I still have the desire and the need to have people around me to love and keep me inspired.

This song gave me the mindset and the strength it took to leave New Jersey in 2000, and the wisdom and knowledge to know that it’s time to return in 2017. I can’t think of a better example of  life coming full circle than that.

Do you think you’re better off alone?

Not anymore.

 

Signum remix:

original mix

dash berlin remix

heavy trance remix

 

 

 

I Always Get What I Want

They say:

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you get what you need.

I’m not a huge Rolling Stones fan, however even though I understand that philosophy, I politely disagree. In some ways, I always get what I want, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.

We have this suspended belief in life that it is somehow a selfish act to want something, then go out and get it. Personally I don’t see how this is a bad thing at all, unless you are royally fucking someone over in the process of getting it,  and I don’t mean like making plans and then breaking them to do something else, I mean it’s a bad thing if you pull a 2008 housing market crash to get what you want. Wanting more money isn’t inherently a bad thing, but if the act of getting it hurts someone else in the long run, to me that is inexcusable. It’s not money that is the root of all evil, it’s greed.

I consider myself a honorable friend and a good person. In no way will I deliberately fuck over someone for personal gain. How do I know this? Because I’ve done it in the past and I didn’t like myself afterwards and I promised myself I’d never do it again. I was a shitty person for awhile when I was younger and even though I tried to cover it up or make excuses for those selfish actions, the truth always comes out in the end. Sometimes in an inconvenient way.

I’ve had rifts with my lifelong friends that I never want to go through again, and each day since, I try my hardest to avoid those perils in my life.

I’m honest, but I’m not transparent. I’m supportive, but I’ll always speak my mind if I disagree, and even though part of my job is to bullshit with people, I’m not a liar and I’ll always say what I mean because the world needs to hear it.

I’d like to think I’m a good judge of character, but my experiences this last year living in Seattle has left me with the notion that when it comes to matters of the heart, sometimes I let shitty people into my life, but not anymore. I want people who are honest and who are trustworthy and who understand that it’s not always important to be right, as it is to be fair. And like I said before, I always get what I want.

I have always lived my life for me, and in some ways I have always gotten what I wanted, although it never happen exactly the way I planned, or it’s never precisely what I expected. I think that’s alright as long as I realize that my wants must be genuine, and my actions to get them must be honest and commendable. If that’s the case, then I don’t see anything wrong with the idea of putting yourself first to get anything in life, especially if it helps someone else.

Maybe the Rolling Stones were on to something with that song, but I feel like the lyrics need to be tweaked just a bit to fit into my personal experiences. Perhaps it’s like this….

“You can’t always get what you want, but you will always get what you deserve.”

As someone who has proof of that concept, I like those lyrics a lot better.

Don’t Be An Idiot

Sometimes I get these thoughts in my head that are detrimental to my otherwise positive outlook. It’s an old habit of never really believing that everything is going to be ok, as if there is some magic switch that turns on and off the good luck and wonderful things I have in my life that make me happy.

Funny thing is, there IS such a magic switch. It’s that annoying part of my brain that sometimes thinks like an idiot, and even though I have been off REAL drugs for quite some time, when I catch myself thinking that way, I feel like it’s my brain…. on drugs. (enter egg in a frying pan)

I always know things will work out for me, but the process of getting there is occasionally a mixture of positive thinking combined with a tepid level of creating troublesome scenarios in my head that may never even happen. Duh.

For example, before I moved into my new apartment, I dramatized about them not accepting the fake letter I made from my old job in L.A. saying I was still currently employed so I could prove my employment, when in fact, I was unemployed. Or how about the classic case of when someone says I love you to me and I’ll always be there for you, and then when I’m not with that person, a part of my brain starts to doubt it. Or sometimes when I feel my wrist getting sore from constantly pouring drinks at work, I imagine me having to take some time off from bartending and I worry I will lose money.

These are all prime examples of a stupid and idiotic way to think, and guess what, I know I’m not an idiot, so why think like one?

The good news is I am now more able to catch myself when I have those thoughts, and immediately I tell myself not to think that way. Not to be a slave to my fleeting emotions. Not to get caught up in what isn’t really happening, but instead live in the moment.

I’ve been saying that line for over fifteen years, yet in the last week I have had two different people suggest to me that I follow those words during this time. Live in the moment.

It’s pretty easy to say that, but what does it really mean?  I guess for me to live that way, I need to define what those four words are really suggesting.

When I find myself thinking unwarranted negative thoughts, I’m going to look up and see what’s right in front of me, and appreciate it. When I’m driving or riding the bus to work, instead of letting my mind wonder, I’m going to put on a song that makes me feel like the confident man I am, and I won’t be ashamed even if my voice cracks when I sing along. When I miss my girl,  I ‘ll text her “I miss you” cause if she were there, I wouldn’t be so lovesick. And when I’m thinking about my future, I might want to remember that it’s a direct cause of the present, and that I should live in the moment, and not focus on what is yet to come.

Everything that has come into my life these past three months has happened so fast, I’m only now able to catch up and make sense of it all. It’s a juggling act that started when I took a huge risk for the third time and chose to change everything outside my proverbial window. Part of, if not all of the reasons why I’m writing this is to remind myself I lived in the moment for the last three months, it sure seemed to work out, and I’m currently reaping the benefits yet recently I feel like I was stuck in a mental blockade. I was resorting to idiotic ways of thinking and that doesn’t feel like me at all.

Maybe I need some therapy, or maybe I need to re-read some of the things I wrote a few months ago when I was confident as fuck. THAT guy would say to me  “Hey dude,….you got this, and there is no way that getting what you want is a bad thing, unless you flip that stupid fucking switch and try to sabotage yourself.”

I can’t let that happen. This is a challenge, and one that I’m ready for.

So I choose to turn off the negative and flip the switch in my brain back to an assured polished smart ass, instead of a weak and paranoid dumbass. This is good. My life is good. This is what I have, and this is what I want, because this is who I am now.  That’s living in the moment.

Every day of my life I must remember to look up, let go, and listen to the sounds and sights of the world that are right in front of my face. I need to stop focusing on what isn’t really happening, and instead pay attention and nurture what I actually have.  That’s the best advice I can give to myself. To me, that’s living in the moment, and the opposite of acting like an idiot, which is what we all should strive to do in our lives.

“Whenever I’m about to do something I ask myself, would an idiot do that? And if they would, I do NOT do that thing.”

– Dwight K. Schrute

 

For A Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic

I’ve always believed in being an optimist, but strive to try to not be one to a fault. I guess I had no choice back in ’99 when I started thinking overtly positive, and yeah maybe always thinking on the bright side got a bit out of hand but I knew no other way to live.  I try to see the perfection in every thing, and by that I mean the positive AND negative and that can be a tricky game to play, especially when some things happen that I regard as “bad.”  Bad is just the opposite of what I want to have happen. See?  I just did it right there. I’ve trained myself pretty well.

This is my life, and I’ve chosen to try and find the good in everything even though with each situation that becomes a challenge, but just like the title says, for a pessimist, I’m pretty optimistic. There is a song with that same name and I have no shame in admitting I stole it for the title of this blog. It fits, and this is the realest I have been with myself all week. I’m sitting on my patio on Memorial Day drinking a skinny bitch and typing out my fuck yous to the world, all while I try to perfectly transpose my self inflicted rhetoric on a computer screen. I don’t know if this is what the war veterans had in mind for a celebration, but I thank them for their service today while I try to make my complaining look an art form.

I’m not really a pessimist at heart, but I swing so far to either side sometimes, that it almost makes me feel like I could be fooling myself into thinking I’m an optimist. But who cares if I am?  I’m rarely let down with things in my life for more than a minute and believe me, I can get over anything pretty quickly.  But if I can be totally honest, the only way I wake up disappointed is when someone else lets me down. I try not to let that happen a lot, but unfortunately, it’s not entirely up to me.

However, I do suffer from the case of the “slightly dramatics” and sometimes I’ve been known to make it out to be the worst thing in the world…. for about five to ten minutes.   Even though I’m still a member of the drama club at age 40, BELIEVE me, I’m not as bad as I was when I was eighteen, nineteen, or twenty, so in my head I think I’ve made progress and I’m cool with that.

I have to cry out loud some of the time, but then I have to laugh out loud the rest of the time because those acts remind me not to be so fucking serious. “Why so serious,” a dead celebrity once asked. Well, he certainly took his life, and took it seriously, and all that makes me think is I don’t want to be anything like the joker. I’d rather be the King.

The King of wishful thinking. Another song title that comes to mind. I don’t know if wishful thinking is the same as being an optimist, but it sure feels like I’ve been doing what works for me for 16 years and I’m pretty sure even in my darkest hour, I have found some light at the end of the tunnel.  When something is going the way I want it to, I’m highly optimistic about it, but when something is going backwards or when I don’t like the outcome, I’ll probably get bummed out for a minute before the phrase “I guess it wasn’t meant to be” comes creeping into my brain.  Sometimes that works, other times it’s all smoke and mirrors.

I believe that the shit gets better, and that the shit is never as bad as it seems, but I also believe that sometimes the shit needs to hit the fan, and I think it’s healthy when it happens every now and again. I think that I’ve been used to the worst thing always happening in my life, but I’m learning to train myself to think otherwise because I outgrew my fatalist quarter-life crisis attitude, and I’m outgrowing my foolish post traumatic stress way of thinking.

I’m learning to be the positive thinker with his head in the clouds, but his feet on the ground so that way I’m always connected to what I really know to be true which is that sometimes, I’m a pessimistic optimist, but it doesn’t matter as long as I’m a confident pessimistic optimist.

That’s literally all it takes.  I’m calling the shots in my life and I know what I know. I’ve gotten to where I’m at by being who I am, and so far I can’t complain about how it’s all worked out. So if I could sum it up in one ironic phrase, I’d have to say that for a pessimist, I’m pretty optimistic. You can just call me Mr. Brightside.

 

 

The Only Way Is Up

I am not defined by the amount of time it took for me to be happy.

I am a culmination of every person I’ve ever loved, every girl I’ve ever dated, every guy I’ve called my friend, and every experience I’ve lived through that made me stronger and didn’t kill me in the process.

I took a calculated risk more than once and it paid off in dividends that can not be measured by any amount of material success.

I live my life on my own terms, hold myself up to my own standards, and if I fail I know it’s no one else’s fault but mine, and that level of responsibility makes me feel ok.

I do not blame anyone for the way things turned out except for myself, and when I wake up in a good mood, I know it’s because of the things I did to get me here.

I financed my present for a few years in the hopes that it would pay me back a hundred times over in the future, but what it really ended up doing was making me aware of the past fact that money doesn’t buy happiness, and that is a comforting thought which I’ve known all along.

I gambled everything for love a couple times in my life, and it wasn’t until recently that I realized every chance I took back then led me to have the patience, the luck, and the game face to finally know what to do when I hit the jackpot recently.

For a long time, I lived in the world of possibility days, until I finally made those possibilities a reality and chose to stop thinking that a better quality of life was simply a possibility that I didn’t deserve.

Sometimes I can’t believe how quickly everything I wanted in my life has become my reality, but then I remember that when I finally decided what it is that what I wanted, and when I finally figured out how to go about getting it, there is nothing anyone can say that will bring me down from this cloud.

The only way is up.

The Midnight (Drive)

When I was younger and lived in New Jersey, I used to go on late night drives by myself around town. I would start out at point A and blast my music for the duration of the calculated loop I made around the city as I tried to clear my mind by speeding on the empty highways and letting the midnight wind blow through the open windows and sunroof in my car. It used to center me and it used to help me deal with what ever stress I had been feeling that week.

I loved taking those drives. There was never anyone on the road except for me, my car, and the occasional random vehicle or copper I would pass in the night.

As I got older, these late night drives stopped happening as much due to the fact that by the time I was 27 I was living in Los Angeles and regardless of where I was at midnight or 1 am, there was always traffic, not to mention I was reluctant to drive anywhere for fear of losing my parking spot. I remember taking one trip around the city looping around the City of Angels via the 101, to the 405, to the 110, and back to the 101. It was the most stressful forty five minutes of my life and had the complete opposite of a calming affect on me and my psyche.

Motorcycles passed me at a high rate of speed on either side of my car drowning out the tunes on my radio and making it almost impossible for me to enjoy the ride, and due to the overwhelming population of the city, there was almost never a place to go where it didn’t seem like everyone else was driving too as well. I thought to myself it was ok though because at least I had made it out of New Jersey and I was doing something with my life. 10 years have past since that night, and come to think of it, that was the last time I took one of those late night drives by myself.

Last night I got home kind of early from my second job, went upstairs to sit on the couch and sometime around midnight I decided to go for a drive. I guess for years I didn’t think about how driving in my car alone listening to music actually helped to calm me down and made me feel stress free, even if it was for only a fleeting moment. I put on a song I love to hear when I am driving, I sang along to the lyrics, and I drove up and down the hills of my North Seattle neighborhood heading down Rooosevelt and ending up at the QFC to pick up some coffee and some gummi life savers.

I started singing along to the lyrics of the song playing in my Prelude.

“I’ve been asleep in the drivers seat. I’ve been lost in my head for weeks. Trying to find what it is I need. Too goddamn tired to sleep.’

I had this flashback to when I was driving around in my late teens/early twenties and there was nothing that could get in my way. It made me smile. It was the perfect retro moment that was topped off by the perfect driving song by a band called The Midnight. I could actually enjoy being in my car and accelerating up to fifty miles an hour with no one else on the road even though I knew the speed limit was half that. I could drive till the coast was clear, or at least until that part of my brain felt less clouded. It just made me feel so much better.

I haven’t been very stressed out lately which I am happy to report, but I’ve been tired as fuck and restless at night, even though most of the time I can fall asleep within half an hour of getting home. There is a part of me that understands why I’ve been working a lot and how my routine of going from one job to the other has kind of burned me out, but it has made me more appreciative of these moments in life. It’s not that I couldn’t do it when I lived in L.A., but I was always felt so irresponsible out about wasting gas, or getting into an accident, and these were NEVER things I thought of back when I lived in Jersey when I tried to drive my problems away. I think I truly missed that part of my life and I’m so glad it is back for good.

Sometimes the only cure for the late April blues is to get into my car, put on some really good music and drive aimlessly. It’s probably the only time in my life when I don’t mind not knowing where I am going because I know where I’ve been, and I know where I am, and of course, I know the road I’m on will always take me back home.

I Think it’s Time I Better Call Saul

The story of how Jimmy McGill became Saul Goodman is a fictional one, but last night when I was watching the latest episode on AMC, I could swear it was a mirror image of my life. I got home from a slow night at work, turned on the TV, and suddenly I could see me staring back at myself from a show about a criminal lawyer that is set in the past. No, I’m not a lawyer by any means, and I am no longer a criminal, but what caught my attention was how Jimmy was trying to find his identity in a new town at a new job when all he really wanted to do in life was to be happy and do the right thing.  Why can’t those two things go hand in hand?

In essence, that’s what I’ve been doing. Granted, I am not out there shopping for colorful suits, I didn’t have a huge signing bonus that I can’t afford to give back, and my story takes place in Seattle instead of Albuquerque, but just for last night there were so many striking similarities between Jimmy and Saul and I that I woke up this morning feeling like we were the same person, at least for forty four minutes.

Spoiler alert, for those of you who haven’t seen the TV show Breaking Bad, I’m not going to ruin any of it for you as this story takes place before and after that series. This isn’t so much a blog about television as it is a blog about how what I saw on television was so much like my life right now, that I had to comment on it. Jimmy, like myself has always been a square peg, but man how much we both try really hard to fit into a round hole.

I’m a creative person by nature, but I chose to leave the world of massive creativity behind when I left L.A. for Seattle in an effort to try and do the right thing by working my ass off to pay for my debt that I put myself in the last two years in Hollywood. I went into debt because I believed in what I was doing. I don’t mean a small debt like “I owe it to myself” I mean a pretty large debt that is the equivalent to one years worth of tuition to a semi-prestigious college somewhere where in the pacific northwest, or southwest depending on inflation.

Much like Jimmy, I got everything I wanted. The job, the second job, the “coco bolo” desk that I tried real hard to put together the other week, but in reality my desk was from IKEA, and everything I wanted wasn’t in a desk job. Eventually, Jimmy finds a way to get fired from his job so he can keep his signing bonus and go into private practice by himself in a future episode and become the grifty Saul Goodman that I know and love. But the thing is, that’s where the similarities stop and where my life starts to kick in.

Maybe I haven’t been very honest with myself, or maybe it has just become second nature for me to think that I want something, get it, and then decide it’s not for me anymore. My “Kim Wexler” reminds me not to be crazy and to remember that I have only been here two months to the day and I have accomplished a lot in those 60 days. Sure, I agree with her in theory, but then I start to see something I thought was so secure and tight begin to unravel. Maybe it was just a slow Monday,when I barely made thirty-five bucks, and maybe there was a reason that Jack in the Box burger made me feel nauseated before the end of the show. Regardless, the doubt began to manifest and I had to start questioning myself and wonder am I just like Jimmy, a square peg trying to fit into a place where he doesn’t naturally belong?

Much like the character on the show, I find myself bending the rules a little bit like I always have so life suits me better. I find myself taking a calculated risk to get to the place I need to go quicker, but no amount of back roads or shortcuts are going to get me where I need to go. I am doing what I thought was the best thing for me because it was honest, and don’t get me wrong, I believe honestly is always the best policy, but guess what….winning the lottery or robbing a bank would solve my problem in a heartbeat and I think if I got away with the latter or was lucky enough to hit the former, I would be able to deal with the ethical backlash, no problem.

I know I’m not stuck anywhere, and I know that I could get up and leave this all behind like I have three times before, but what would that prove? I can change my outfit like a chameleon to match what I see on the outside, but the truth is I don’t feel like someone who tucks in their shirt, and I won’t bring myself to do that anyway.

I know I’m going to end up being me, just like Jimmy/Saul did, but I don’t think I need to change my shirt or my name to do that. One reason is because I already did change my name back in 2002 when Better Call Saul actually takes place, the other reason is because I can’t afford a new shirt right now. Wow, the similarities are almost too much for me to handle.

I’m not going to sabotage this opportunity, or throw it all away for some foolish pride, because I remember it was the right decision for a long time, it helped me to save myself, and I know it might turn into something good and I guess perseverance is the key to my success. However I will continue to think about if I made the best move every single time a little bit of doubt creeps into my head. I will persevere in spite of the fact that I don’t really know if this life I’ve created is for me, but one day I will know for sure.

That could be in a week, in a month, or later today, who the fuck knows?  All I really know is that much like Jimmy, I’m trying to find my identity in this place, and I think that at least for one night accepting the fact that I don’t know if I fit in, actually helps me feel more like myself, whomever that is.

Am I Going to End Up Like Jeff?

At the end of one of my shifts last week, I passed on getting a drink after work because I had to catch my bus back home. So instead of sipping a Jameson and ginger, here I was sitting across from Jeff, a fifty five year old blue collar dishwasher who works at a hotel on 7th ave. We had been talking at the bus stop for a little bit before we boarded, and I guess at this point that conversation would have to continue for the short ride back to Aurora Village being as how I didn’t bring my iPod to listen to music, and sitting across from him staring at my phone at this point would seem rude and anti-social.

“I like you Christian.” He says “I appreciate your friendly nature.”

Normally I’m not that friendly at almost 2am on a Wednesday morning when I ride public transportation, but for some reason there was something about this guy’s plight in life that really struck a chord with me. Jeff was wearing a baseball cap, sported a push broom mustache, thick coke bottle glasses, and he spoke with a “Warsh-ington” accent that reminded me that I am NOT in Kansas anymore. In fact, I never was in the first place, but when Jeff tells me one of his children is now in his early thirties and lives in Montana, a state I have never been to, being on a bus sure feels like Kansas.

Jeff was unemployed for awhile but lately has been working his ass off, still in debt much like me and trying really hard to make a good life for himself, but I could tell that the recent events he had been through had been weighing on him.

“I was born in California near Orange County, fifteen years before your time.” He stated with a sense of accomplishment.

Jeff talked about being paid almost eighteen dollars an hour to wash dishes at a hotel, and he was proud of that fact, and immediately I was reminded of when I worked the same kind of job at a Friendly’s in New Jersey for $4.50 an hour in 1995. I was a little LESS proud of that fact, but that didn’t stop me from blurting it out. Jeff reminisced about his lady friend that left him four months ago, his car that needed a new alternator recently, and as I stared down at his bandaged and weathered hands, I thought about how I had cut my finger twice at work this week, put out five hundred dollars for my new tires and how I haven’t even HAD a lady friend for four years. Shit, we have a lot in common. Of course  the next thing that went through my mind was….am I going to end up like Jeff?

At this point I notice he pulls out a nail clipper from his jacket pocket and starts to groom the dry skin around his thumb and index finger. Two things come to mind….
1. I don’t know if public buses are the appropriate place to do that, Jeff.
2. Who the hell carries a nail clipper on them at all times?

None of that really matters at this point, but what does matter is the fact that here I am riding the bus about to start working two jobs, six days a week to try and cut my credit card debt in half by the end of the year. I think it’s a good plan to immerse myself in work and it wasn’t too long afterwards that Jeff told me he understood because he is in the same boat as me, although I’m floating in much deeper debt waters than he is.

“You have two jobs?” He exclaimed surprisingly “I wish I could get two jobs.” He then muttered to himself.

Yeah, I have two jobs because one of them is seasonal, and the other one could turn into something great down the line and for me to live this life that I’ve chosen, I need to rely on myself first, and not make excuses and whine anymore about how hard it is to live. Sure, sometimes it’s difficult but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel just a little bit lucky at the fact that even though I’ve only been here for 45 days, I went on three job interviews and I got hired at two of them. I would have gotten the third job too, but both me and the owner of the comedy club knew I was overqualified for that gig from the start.

“You’ve only been here a month and you have two jobs?!”
“I have a good resume.” I replied.
“I wish I had two jobs.” Jeff repeated to himself.

I thought about that for a second and then it hit me. I’m actually doing pretty well in the grand scheme of things. I’m still in debt up to my neck from the last two years I spent in California, but four months ago when I came up with this grand idea to move out of L.A. for the sake of my well being, in my mind I had this plan that I was going to get an apartment and a second job tending bar if needed so I can keep myself busy and really fight for a chance at this life that I am so privileged to be living. I got to remember that.

I have to be honest, I was shocked at how quickly I was able to manifest everything I wanted. It’s like I decided to put the energy out in the world, and the universe felt it and gave me exactly what I said I desired. I should be happy about this, and I truly am, but then I started to wonder why the fuck wasn’t I this powerful the last few years I lived in Hollywood?

Why couldn’t I create a job to keep me in L.A., or a legitimate contract for the TV show Tasha and I killed ourselves to create, write, and produce, and why couldn’t we both manifest a shit ton of money that came with it? Why did I have to leave everything I had known for thirteen years to make a better quality of life for myself and why have things gone so smoothly during this transition?

Then I remembered to stop questioning why, and start appreciating the fact that I got what I wanted. It’s just that simple, but I can’t talk like that to Jeff on this bus ride back to North Seattle because when you start saying that we all have the power to create your own reality, people think it’s bullshit and most likely will call you crazy, but that’s ok because you can bet I’ve been called worse.

Jeff and I talk for a few more minutes before the bus drops me off at 95th and Aurora. I shake his hand and he tells me he’ll stop in to my bar for a beer on Friday when he is done his 8 hour shift at the Marriott, and I hope he does cause I would like nothing more than to buy him that beer because even though I barely even know this guy, it’s clear to me from his humbleness and his demeanor that he has earned a whole free case of beer.

Am I going to end up like Jeff? Probably not. We don’t have the same outlook in life and I would assume when I’m 55 I will look like I just turned 42. I’m not going to start washing dishes cause I’m a little too fancy for that type of work, and if all goes well I’ll be writing my memoirs and getting paid for that shit. I’m not going to drive a Volvo that needs repairs, and I don’t think I’m going to meet my next girlfriend while I am having coffee at a McDonald’s, not to mention that I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a baseball cap and thick glasses when I’m fifty five unless someone paid me to do so, or I was trying to hide from the public. The latter seems more likely than then former.

Honestly, I don’t wear hats and I only need glasses at night when I drive, but aside from all the different physical characteristics between Jeff and I, I think the point here is that me and this stranger currently have a lot in common at this moment in time. I can empathize and relate to him, even though at first glance I wouldn’t have even thought we had ANYTHING in common other than we are both on this fucking bus back home. For some reason, life put this guy in my path and maybe I needed to meet him that night to remind myself of lucky I am.

In fifteen years, I’m not going to be riding a bus at 2 in the morning from downtown Seattle after I have just finished my shift at a hotel. I don’t believe that I am going to meet some young kid that is 40 but looks 28 and I won’t be slightly envious of him because he works two jobs. Yet, the one thing I can take away from the last half hour is that Jeff is a good person, and someone who works hard. Jeff may have picked an inopportune time to decide to trim his cuticles, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I can tell, regardless of what I see on the outside, that Jeff is an inherently decent human being.  I’m so glad I didn’t go for that drink after work because I guess it wouldn’t be the worst thing if I ended up like Jeff.

I Took the Bus to Work & Nothing Bad Happened to Me

I have always loathed the idea of riding the bus. It’s probably due to my white middle class upbringing in South Jersey where getting a car at age 17 was a birthright, and taking the school bus was always more stressful than it needed to be.

As much as I love my car, I don’t love the idea of spending up to $25 a day to have it sit in a parking lot for 5-6 hours. What a fucking waste of money. I’ve already spent more in the past month on deposits, registration, and moving expenses, so perhaps it was time I faced my fear of public transportation, if only to put a little more green in my pocket.

I started my new job yesterday in downtown Seattle. I won’t say where I work because of the social media policy I had to sign stating that any form of blog or post I make on any website may only include the name of my workplace if I followed it with the sentence “The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent that of (insert bar name here.)

Regardless, after I took a look at the parking situation downtown, I figured out it would cost me about $100 a week to park my car if I work four shifts. Unless I’m making a thousand dollars a day, the cost of parking my car in the city flat out sucks. After a few intuitive questions to my HR rep about where to park, she informed me my company will reimburse up to $45 a month for bus fare.  After hearing that,  I’d be an idiot NOT to take advantage of the public transit system.  I had no choice but to put my past fears and nightmares aside, and let someone else do the driving.

The first time I took a bus was when I was in summer camp in the 80s, and I threw up into my baseball hat on the way home because I got nauseated from sitting in the seat over the back wheels.  Eight years went by before I got on a six wheeled vehicle again.

The next time I took a bus was 7th grade. It was my first day of school, and not being keen to the schedule, I missed my bus and had to have my Mom drive me in, but not before I got the bright idea to cut across a dew dampened field of leg high grass to try and catch the bus at another stop.

It was no surprise I also missed THAT bus along with soaking my jeans all the way up to my knees from running through someone’s backyard. However, I spent the next few years taking the bus to school with my Walkman on at all times, trying my hardest to sit in the back or the front as not to get all pukey again from sitting over the wheel.  By the time I was 15, someone was picking me up and driving me to school everyday and I wouldn’t have to take any bus anywhere until sometime in the year 2007 in L.A. when taking the bus was forced upon me.

That’s when I found myself trapped at a shady motel at six in the morning somewhere south of La Brea and Venice boulevard, while my car was parked at a Carl’s Jr. restaurant in Hollywood three miles away. I had just been ripped off for sixty bucks by some wise ass kid, I had no money in my bank account, and I had to bum a dollar from some prostitute just to get on any form of public transportation to take me back home. I’m leaving out a lot from that story, but trust me, I’ve included the basic facts and that’s all you need to know.

I know this may seem like I’m spoiled, but I always thought of taking the bus as the lowest form of transportation. In my mind, the hierarchy of getting from point A to point B goes like this:
1. Driving myself in my own car
2. Riding in someone else’s car
3. Taking a cab/uber, which could also be #2 if I didn’t pay for it.
4. Taking the subway
5. Walking
and finally, all the way down there at number 6: Taking the bus

I knew in the back of my mind I was turned off by the whole idea since I was a kid. I guess I was traumatized by my past experiences coupled with the fear that something bad was going to happen as most bus rides are portrayed negatively on TV and in the movies. Maybe I could chalk that up to the fact that I was raised Catholic and taught to fear everything in life, but being a pragmatic adult now means sometimes I have to break myself of what I always have done to make room for something that is more sensible.

It’s not practical to spend almost two hours of my hard earned hourly wages on a holding spot for a hunk of metal and rubber in some parking lot, when taking the bus cost me a fraction of that amount, not to mention the fact that I have a $45 buffer I will get back. So, I did the inevitable, I manned up, stopped being a pussy, and I took the bus to work yesterday.

I walked two blocks to Aurora and 95th to catch the RapidRide to downtown. I pressed my ORCA card to the screen at the bus stop, and it made a happy sounding noise.  When the bus came I got on.  I thought I was going to get lost, or harassed, or mugged, but as it turns out, no one cares because everyone is looking at their phone anyway.

Truth be told, it was quite a laid back process. I even enjoyed the fact that I didn’t have to look for a parking spot, or slam on my breaks because some idiot cut me off, usually that idiot by the way is a bus driver. It was an all together painless process, and in fact, I didn’t even drive my car yesterday, and I’m totally ok with that.

I think I might have been too hard on public transportation my whole life, and I apologize to it. I know I may have looked down upon the idea of getting around using the metro system, and I’m sorry for judging any person who has been taking the bus their whole life. It’s not like I thought I was better than you, I just have had  a few bad experiences and have owned a car since I was 17.   I’ve  been driving myself everywhere since then. I guess you could say old habits die hard.

So for what it’s worth, I can now look at riding the bus as a practical means of getting from point A to point B, and not so much as a symbol of my status in this world. After all, I didn’t get sick, I wasn’t late, and I didn’t get attacked by some weirdo at the bus stop. (yet)

I still love my car, but I think I love the idea of having money in my pocket and reducing my stress level enough to allow someone else to do the driving from here on out. I guess I had to face my fears head on, and I’m proud to say I took the bus to work yesterday, and nothing bad happened.

I’m a NJSS & I Won’t Let it All Go to Shit

Back in 1998, I was running an independent magazine and working for the man waiting tables. I had money coming in, some level of stability, and I was dating a girl who would turn out to be the first one of her kind that I fell in love with.

A few short months later I would be overcome by greed, and found guilty of being a striped collar criminal and pretty soon the job, the magazine, and the girl would disappear into a fond memory of mine that I would look back on and wish I could have had the chance to nurture every day of my life.

I had it all together then, and I just let it slip away.

Three years later I would find myself on the receiving end of a job I was under qualified for, but I had talked my way into it by simply being confident enough and putting on a good show. It afforded me a rock star lifestyle, and I was writing and dancing to music and living with a girl who turned out to be the second one I fell in love with, and my muse for years to come.

By the end of that summer I would learn that neither the job, the inspiration, or the girl lasts forever, especially if you do things in life to sabotage the gifts that you had worked so hard to receive. Years later I would find myself looking back on those events and repeating the notion that I should have appreciated what I had when I had it, instead of reminiscing at all those journal entries I wrote during that time that were bound together by disappointment and remorse.

I had it all together, and then I acted careless with the things in life that really made me happy. I came to long for that happiness for years to come, even after I left that state of mind, and the state I was living in at the time.

It took another 7 years for me to be set-up for success again. In 2008 I had two lucrative sources of income, I was a talented undiscovered nobody, and I was riding high while coming out of the low tide of my life. Through a set of dramatic and matrimonial circumstances, I found an amazing woman who would afterwards go on to be my ultimate lover and my best friend at the same time.

However, because of my own dark addiction and my blatant stupidity and stubbornness, both of those cushy jobs stopped being such a commodity, and started being the catalyst that broke me down. Due to my insecure course of action, the woman who helped me so much who I still adore had gotten so unsure of the power and the strength that brought us together. By the time I was ready to make the ultimate commitment to my ultimate lover, we found ourselves more comfortable as spectators in that ceremony, than participants in the union of the two souls that invited guests come to bear witness to.

I had it all together, but I kept fighting it for a chance at some sort of selfish freedom that now makes me feel isolated and alone.

I’m writing this 8 years later on the 29th day of a month that only comes once in every 4 cycles. I’m starting to look around at my new life in the new city I left some 14 years ago, and I’m starting to see things becoming set up for another possibility day when I can take pride in the fact that I’ve learned from the past, and I’m ready to make the most of the present. I’m beginning to see a pattern in my life where I’m living out when things start to go well, and I don’t want to fuck with that process.

Hopefully now, I can take advantage of this new scenario that so perfectly reminds me of those old scenarios when I had it all together, and maybe this time I will use it as the jumping off point to something great, instead of jumping off into a ditch that I so don’t want to dig myself out of anymore.

I know that this is shaping up to be a what I call a true New Jersey success story, and for me to make that statement a reality, I have to realize that it is something I’ve been working for all my life, and I am accepting of the fact that I deserve it this time around.

This is the first time in awhile I can say that I’m starting to have it all together again, and this is the first time when I can consciously and confidently say that I’ve learned from my mistakes, and this is the first time I can say that I won’t let it all go to shit again.