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

 

 

 

Let’s Start With a Bang

Lately, I’ve been singing to myself…
I  d o n’t  w a n n a   be here no  more.”

October is over, a month that made me wax and wain with a purpose. A purpose I’m still trying to figure out as there is a goofy sideshow election going on that perfectly represents what this country, like myself have become. Divided.

I’m divided in half like a bi-polar nightmare and I don’t know if I keep challenging myself to see how far I can go, or if I keep making the same mistakes because I know it’s a challenge I can win. I started with a bang seven months ago and blew up my world by moving to a city I haven’t lived in since fucking George W. Bush stole the election in 2000.

I got a job that pays me well, and pays me benefits. I found a great apartment, some cool friends and a pretty girl and I loved that I loved everything in my life until it all stopped reciprocating that love to me right before the short lived summer of Seattle, 2016.

It makes me wonder… was it really love at all?

Maybe it was infatuation that changed my world and turned me upside down. Maybe it was the start of something new, and the journey to get to the destination that once I got to, I subtly started questioning if I really wanted to be there. It was obvious by my actions, so naturally those actions have caused me to question the reaction I’ve been having to my troubled, self inflicted life. Maybe I don’t know what I want, and maybe that’s ok.

What if instead of living a bi-polar life, I am living a world of multiplicity as I’m pushed and pulled into half a dozen different scenarios in my mind. Jesus Christ was NOT perfect, and neither am I, but I don’t think it’s wrong to be a saint and sinner simultaneously, just like him.

I came back to the west coast last week with the option to leave early, but since those first  72 hours have past me by, I’m starting to think that maybe I need to slow my roll and give it a chance. Maybe I need to stop trying to blow up my life and start trying to piece it together through finding out what I want, a little bit at a time through observation, and the patience to see it through to the end, or the beginning depending on how I look at it.

After all, I spent 13 years in that God awful place they call L.A. and I didn’t sell my soul for anything less than a million dollars of my own self worth that comes in the form of credit card which I don’t really care about anymore. It’s not real, it doesn’t really matter, and really the only thing that I can do is take a deep breath, maybe get a little artificial sunlight and go out there and live my life and discover what it is that comes next. I got to admit, It’s kind of exciting that I can still be this much of a free spirit in the summertime of my life.

For awhile I’ve been singing to myself
I  d o n’t  w a n n a   be  h e re  no  more”

…but I’ve been flowing like a samurai and stinging like a butterfly. Now I don’t feel the need to blow up my life again, but I do love the excitement, so for better or worse, let’s start with a bang.

 

 

Four Days in L.A. (Part 3)

I wake up on Shaun and Adam’s couch at about 7 in the morning. Truth is, I didn’t really sleep well and it was kind of hot all night and I was still wearing the same clothes from the day before when I got off the plane. I try to think about what happened after dinner last night, and then it all kind of comes back to me.

I remember going to Magnolia with Tasha, meeting up with Shaun and Adam, and having some more drinks before we headed over to The Well. Across the street from that bar is the Hollywood Palladium where I worked on and off for 8 years, and as I looked at it now on a dark night it seems so peaceful and quiet, unlike the last two years of my life when I worked there.

That place was always a shit show, which I assume must be a trend in my life because the place in Seattle that I currently work certainly has the same qualities of shit I used to endure on a daily basis, only worse.  The only thing that is missing are the bands and the intermissions where I would be able to get a half hour break from bartending. A break now? What the hell is that? I make drinks for 8 hours straight and probably haven’t taken more than an seven minute break since I’ve been hired.

“Do you live in the city of Seattle?” Adam asks.

“I live like six miles north of the city, but it’s still Seattle proper.” I replied.

“Seattle Proper!!” Tasha mocks

Has no one ever heard of that saying?  But, that’s pretty much the epitome of what my friends and I do. We talk about shit in our lives, bust each other’s balls, then do it all over again. Adam I leave the small group to have a smoke outside and we start talking about the last six months. It’s great to see him again. Adam and I are a lot alike in the sense that we’re both really good guys who never seem to get a break when it comes to relationships. I guess you could say we are handicapped in some way. He tells me about a girl at work he had been into that didn’t work out, and I tell him about the girl at work I had been into that didn’t work out.  There is this humbling connection he and I have when it comes to talking about failing in love, and yes you read that right.  I did not type the word “falling” because the former seems to happen more than the latter.

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We chat for awhile and before I know it it’s close to one in the morning and it’s at this point when the memories start to get a little fuzzy. However, one of the last things I do is spot a sign on the door of the building next to the bar, and I laugh because I can’t believe we were just talking about this. I snap a picture and I show it to Tasha

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The next morning  the sun is shining through Shaun and Adam’s living room window and even the blanket that I draped over the curtains isn’t really doing any good keeping the light out. The fan is on full blast and it’s not long before Tasha comes to pick me up and we head over to our old apartment in Hollywood where I haven’t been for the last six months. It’s already approaching 88 degrees at ten am, and I can feel all the wine, bourbon, and beer seeping out of me as I sit on the porch and wait for Tasha to get there.

“I need a burger and a diet coke” I say to her as I get into the car.

She puts the air conditioning on blast and we drive over to Carlton Way to do the final walk through at the apartment. After we park I run into my old landlord and I wonder if he knows I haven’t lived in the place since January and I’ve been illegally subletting it to my bff. I tell him we’ll be ready in about 20 minutes for the walk though and I head up the stairs and walk into apartment #310 for the last time ever. It’s smaller than I remember, but it’s just as empty as the first day I moved in back in 2011, minus the bed and the two couches Tasha and I have to dispose of in the middle of the hottest part of the day after I’ve barely slept and I am still wearing the same clothes from the night before. This is going to be tough, not mentally, but physically, but maybe a little bit mentally too as I would come to find out.

As Tasha cleans up parts of the bedroom and the kitchen, I get to work moving the box spring and mattress down the flight of stairs and into the trash area. It looks like a furniture store down there as there are tables, chairs, a bed, and other stuff  and I assume someone just moved out until I notice a sign posted on the wall. The sign reads something like:

“Do not take any of the stuff in this area, it is infested with bed bugs.”

Gross. I throw Tasha’s old box spring down against the wall and I make sure not to touch ANY of the other items near the dumpster. I’m not surprised at all by the fact that there is a bed bug infestation going on at that apartment. Tasha and I went through the same thing back in 2012 when we had to get rid of my old bed and cover everything while they bombed the apartment. I remember her and I checked into a hotel room down the street that day and took the cat and the rabbit with us against the rules of the motel. That afternoon we got drunk on chardonnay and ate thai food until some time after the sun went down when we could move back into our apartment.

My sunglasses are slipping off of my face in the stifling California heat, so I head back up into the apartment, dragging my feet and desperately in need of food and water which will eventually come but not before I look around the apartment and reminisce a little bit.

5741 Carlton Way #310 represented a dream that Tasha and I had for years. A dream of being successful creators of our own TV show, and even though we didn’t carry out the couch ourselves, that couch was where it all began. I can’t put into words what we went through over those 3 and a half years, so instead let me post a picture of Tasha’s instagram that she uploaded shortly after we finished the walk through of the apartment that day which pretty much sums it up.

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Trent & Tilly, the web series, and then the TV show was the lifeblood of me and Tasha’s career, even though we didn’t make a dime off of it. We made a bunch of webisodes and a half hour pilot episode, but you’ll probably never see them. We worked really hard, sacrificed a lot, and in fact, I went into debt thousands of dollars just trying to stay in Los Angeles another two years to see if there was a chance the show would actually turn into a reality.  It was such a good idea for a TV show, and it still is so I’m not going to give away any plot elements just in case.  We had celebrities in the pilot, agents to negotiate our deals, managers who wanted to rep us, people who wanted to work with us and people who we fired for being idiots.  But the real magic of it all was that Tasha and I had this obvious chemistry on screen that everyone could see, and sometimes was captured when we weren’t playing our parts, but instead, we were just playing ourselves. Here is an example from 2014 of what I mean:

I finally meet up with Alex, who also was the inspiration for a character in our show, and he walks me through the apartment making notes of what needs a touch up, the couches that need to be removed, and what needs to be fixed like the window in the kitchen that I broke last summer when I was frustrated as fuck.  I remember a wrote a blog about that day….

I Will Never Fail Drama

Alex speaks in a thick Russian accent and as we finish the walk through he has some very nice words to say about me and Tasha.

“You are good tenants.  So EEEF…you ever want to move back in, it will be ok no problem.”

This comes after he tells me that when they renovate the apartment they will probably charge $1600 a month for it.  As much as I appreciate how much he appreciated me as a tenant, there is no way I would ever move back into this apartment building and pay $500 more a month than what I was paying.  Besides, I don’t want to live in L.A. anymore but even if I did, you can’t go back.  You must go on.

I shake hands with Alex, he tells me that my security deposit refund should be in the mail within two weeks and I highly doubt I’m going to get anything back, so you could imagine how surprised I was the other day when I got a check in the mail for $600.  That pretty much paid for my trip and whatever expenses I incurred over the four days.

This was a hard day in L.A. Not only was it hot and I was tired and suffering from Hollywood allergies, but I had to say goodbye to a time and a place in my life…again. Six months ago I blogged about how in the last few minutes before I left for Seattle, I took a last look around the apartment as Tasha asked me if I wanted to take a picture. When I heard her say that, I got a little choked up and I said “No, I just need to go.” This time tough, I indulged in that opportunity.

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Thirty minutes later, Tasha and I find ourselves exhausted, sitting in a Carl’s Jr. on Pico and San Vincente eating cheeseburgers, fries, and drinking diet cokes. I miss Carl’s Jr. a lot.  It was probably one of the most rewarding fast food meals I have had in decades. We sit there chowing down our first bit of food since the day before reflecting on the afternoon, emotionally and physically drained from the last 24 hours. There is really only one thing left to say.

“I need a nap.”  I say to her.

“Me too.” She replies.

 

 

 

Four Days In L.A. (Part 2)

I got off the plane at LAX around 3pm on Saturday July 23rd.

I stop in at the International terminal, and I immediately think how I am going to be surrounded by anyone other than Americans so I should watch out for European families on vacation, dressed in tacky print shirts, khaki shorts, fanny packs, and middle-aged men wearing sandals that have no right to do so. It’s the only terminal that you can just walk into and get a drink at a bar without having a ticket to board a plane, so I sit at some pizza restaurant and order a skinny bitch, otherwise known as a vodka and diet coke.

I know you’re probably laughing at the fact that I sometimes order that drink, but it tastes good to me, and even if I’m hungover the next day  I surprisingly still enjoy drinking diet coke so that says something about the truth of my addiction to diet soft drinks. Probably not the worst thing in the world. I mean, it’s not like I’m a heroin addict.

I text Tasha that I’m on the Departures level of the International terminal because it’s less busy and easier to pick up people than on Arrivals. Thirty minutes later as I’ve been waiting outside on the top level for her to pull up, and after I specifically text her two more times to make sure she chooses the Departues lane when she gets to the airport, she calls me to tell me she’s on the Arrivals level. Of course she is.

I’ve known Tasha for over 9 years now, and the fact that I made a point to make sure she knew where to go, and she ended up not going where I told her to go doesn’t surprise me at all. That’s just Tasha. There are some people who can connect the dots when driving cars and multi task like a pro and who also have a good sense of direction. Sadly, this is not Tasha, but she makes up for it so many other ways that it doesn’t really bother me. I remember when it used to, when we dated almost 7 years ago and we were the pinnacle example of a hot and cold couple, which probably had everything to do with how dramatic we both were. I’m sure it was no accident that Katy Perry had a song out that year by the same name.

Thing is, Tasha is one of my favorite people and the only ex of mine that I became best friends with after we broke up. It was almost like life wouldn’t let us NOT be friends. After the relationship we worked together, we lost a pet together, we went to all my friends weddings together, and then we created a televison show, sold it, and then lost the deal together. She’s my best friend and we’ve been through some good times, some difficult times, and some shit times, and all of that has led up to this momemt, me returning to L.A. after six months and her pulling up outside the terminal in her pearl white Fiat Abarth.

“Welcome back, bitches!” She screams as I open the door.

I’m excited to see her. She looks great, but Tasha always looks great. She’s fabulous and takes good care of herself and has these big features and this natural beauty that doesn’t even wain when she wakes up from a hangover. I start telling her about my drink at the bar with Anna Faris, and she starts telling me about this indie horror movie she’s up for called Clown Motel.

Not Clown “Hotel” which I imagine would come with a continental breakfast and free Wi-Fi, but Clown “Motel” which is most likely located on a creepy, desert road with a gravel parking lot, two vending machines and an ice bucket. We laugh but of course I tell her I’m proud of her because I know that she’s is way more talented than this town has given her credit for.

We make our way back to her new apartment in Beverly Hills, but it’s not as glamourish as the Walsh residence from 90210. Tasha has just moved into this sublet with her rabbit Rocco after 6 months living at my old Hollywood apartment. We have to do the final walk through tomorrow, but now all I can think about is this little bunny in front of me who got me through some hard times the last year or so when he frequently lived with me in L.A.
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I tell him that my cat Dapple who he lived with for three years has passed away, but I’m pretty sure he already knew somehow. It’s great to see him, but it’s also time for Tasha and I to freshen up and go get ourselves some dinner and many many drinks.

We Lyft to Kabuki on Sunset and Vine which was always our go to place for business meetings, happy hour, (aka jappy hour) and gorging on sushi and wine. I walk in and accidentally kick the glass door with my foot. The host makes a funny comment and I realize I’m back in a town where people just speak their minds.

“If you break my door, we’ll just add it to your bill.” he says.

I laugh because it was funny and we get seated at a table and I immediately request a bottle of wine to start. We order three different types of rolls and a garlic steak, Tasha and I start catching up from the last six months.

I left L.A. because I felt like there was nothing left there for me. I was exhausted mentally, physically, emotionally and financially and I was tired of the struggle and the competition and I had been there for thirteen years and even though I aged gracefully, there is this enormous amount of pressure to stay young and defy the laws of physics. As an actor I had a small amount of success in my mid thirties, but by the time I turned forty, I was so over the rat race and the mental traps that I would seldom fall into that it started to take it’s toll on my confidence.

“You’re so much more confident now than when you left. I can see it in you.” Tasha says

She’s right. I used to get panic attacks in L.A. cause I was stressed as fuck, and my dating life was non-existent because seemingly the first and only question that everyone asks you on a first date is “What do you do,” which implies that the answer you give next will decide whether or not this person is interested in you at all. Everyone is a writer/actor/producer in L.A. but somehow if I told the truth that I tended bar at the Palladium and Wiltern it wouldn’t come off as an impressive field of expertise.

We talk about the drama that I had been through up in Seattle and how it started off so fucking great as I landed a lucrative job, was dating a hot girl I work with, was ready to plan out my future, but then I crash landed back to earth when we broke up in June and my cat Dapple died a few days later. That is a lot for someone to go through that quickly and I’m amazed that one of the only casualties of that debacle was the temporary loss of confidence I felt for a couple weeks and the erratic sleep patterns and highs and lows I felt along the way.

I guess a part of me understands myself enough to know all I really want in life on a daily basis is to feel like I do a good job, I’m appreciated, and that people like me. I’ll admit it, part of the reason I moved to L.A. was to follow that dream of having someone somewhere tell me that I’m good at what I do, but trying to live out that dream in L.A. along with the 2 million other hopefuls with stars in their eyes is just like being a small fish in a big pond trying to get a piece of bait.  Somehow though, living in Seattle and working at the bar is like being a big fish in a small pond. There’s less stress, the money is good, I’m doing well, and I work with a great bunch of people that I would like to think appreciate me for who I am. When it comes down to it, I really just want to be happy and stress free although those two ideas are easy to visualize and difficult to manifest.

“Are you happy up there?” Tasha asks me.

I think about this question a lot. Everybody in life just wants to be happy, I mean I said it myself three sentences ago, but I don’t think that happiness is something you feel constantly day in and day out. It’s a fleeting feeling that comes and goes like the seasons. Sometimes I can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning and start my day, other times I just want to sit on the couch and eat a whole pizza and not leave the house at all. Sometimes I’m depressed or sad, and other times I feel content as if nothing really bothers me. Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down, and yes I realize that what I’ve been writing sounds like the lyrics to a pop song that has been playing over and over again in my life.

“I am right now.” I said.

And I really am. I’m back in the town that I spent most of my adult life in, I’m sitting at the table drinking wine and eating sushi with my best friend who I haven’t seen in six months, and I’m about to close the door on a chapter of my life that will hopefully help to open up another door to the next chapter, whatever that may be.

“Good.” She says. “It sure seems like it.”

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We order another glass of wine each and I text a few of my friends to see where they’re at. Ironically they are just down the street getting out of the movies at Arclight so we all plan to meet up in a little bit.

For the first time in awhile, I don’t feel stuck, I don’t feel stressed, and I don’t feel like I need to be someone I’m not. It just feels good to back in Hollywood.

Four Days in L.A. (Part 1)

I got off the plane at LAX around 3pm on a Saturday. The air was dark and smokey, probably because of the wildfires that had been raging in Santa Clarita the night before. I immediately take a picture of the ominous sky and the sun that is barely shining through as I wait outside of the International terminal for Tasha to pick me up.

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I think about how I haven’t been back in L.A. since January.  On Monday it will be exactly six months to the day that I moved up to Seattle. Was it ironic that my trip back happened to fall on the six month anniversary of me leaving southern California?  Probably, but I think everything happens for a reason and here I am back in Hollywood after having gone though a roller coaster of emotions since June. I guess I needed a little grounding and I’ll be the first one to admit I didn’t think that such a toxic place like L.A would have been able to offer me that, but that’s exactly what it did.

It all started a few hours earlier while I was sitting at a bar in Sea-Tac airport having a drink with a stranger from Alaska, and a well known celebrity from California.

I got to the airport with an hour before my flight was scheduled to take off, and being that this was a well needed mini vacation for me, I started drinking early. I went to one of the bars in the terminal and found nowhere for me and my bags to sit, so I ventured further past the parents and kids flying everywhere and into uncharted waters and found a seat at Anthony’s Fish Bar. I ordered a bloody mary and some chowder, and stared at my phone like most people do in airports.

Sitting to my right at the crowded bar was a guy in his early thirties with tattoos and a bald head, and to my left was another guy who I never really spoke to. I settled in drank my drink, and ordered another bloody mary. Right around the time that my second cocktail  was delivered, I hear a woman’s voice ask the bald dude next to me if anyone is sitting at the empty stool next to him. Naturally, I look over and when I see this blonde woman in her early thirties, I immediately recognize her from TV and the movies, but I can’t remember her name to save my life.

What was that movie she was in that I never really watched but I kept seeing trailers for it waaay back in 2005? Oh right. It was called “The House Bunny,” and sitting two stools to my left ordering a pinot grigio was none other than Anna Faris, well known actor and wife of the immensely popular Chris Pratt. I guess this is how the trip is going to start.

A few minutes go by and I can hear the dude next to me and her conversing and even though I’m not in the middle of the conversation, I really want to be, but how on earth do I segway myself into a private conversation between two total strangers at a bar in the airport? Does this guy even know who she is, and if so, is he ever going to let on? Not three minutes go by until she leans over, and asks the bald dude a question.

“Who’s your friend?” Anna asks as she motions to me.

At this point, the truth comes out that neither one of us know each other, but apparently, we are all about to. She introduced herself as “Ahh-Na,” not “Ann-uh” which I already know is the preferred pronunciation of her name because I watched that episode of Entourage when she played herself and crashed into the back of E’s car in the Hollywood Hills wearing nothing but a towel.

Anna is extremely nice and sweet and at this point me, Anna, and our new friend Dustin all clink our glasses and cheers and start having a three way conversation about life, love, and tattoos.

Anna is considering moving to Seattle and not living in L.A. anymore and she asks me why I chose to move up here and without letting on that I know who she is, I’m honest with her and I tell her hey, if you don’t need to be in L.A. or you can fly in when you have work, there is really no need to live there, especially since the air and the view in Seattle is a lot cleaner and healthier for your mind and body and soul.

We talk about Dustin’s job in Alaska on a oil rig and how it’s a difficult position to be in a truck with a guy for 14 hours a day in the middle of nowhere drilling for oil and whatever else riggers do. He’s a really nice dude and he tells a story about how he recently got divorced from his ex wife but they are still best friends and they have a 21 year old son. Anna chats about how she once worked the coldest job ever in Canada in a city called Regina.

“When I got there, I saw a billboard that read “Welcome to Regina. It rhymes with fun.”

Now we’re all laughing because we know Regina actually rhymes with vagina and I’m trying to figure out when the director is going to call cut because what is happening now reminds me of being in a movie where you meet a celebrity at a bar in Sea-Tac airport, but then I realize that this is just my life, drinking alcohol at 12:15pm with two strangers, one of whom happens to be famous.

Dustin takes out a picture of his son and somehow we start talking about tattoos and he shows me and Anna the ink his offspring just got. It’s a new school tattoo of a green alien sitting indian style on the floor wearing Birkenstocks and giving the double middle finger while a big fat joint protrudes from his mouth.

“Yeah, he’s gonna regret that one.” I say

And believe me, I would know because I have a tattoo that I wish I never got.

“Show us!” Anna says.

And this is the point when I caved into the pressure of my new friends at the bar and rolled up my left pant leg and showed them the most regrettable tattoo I have on my body. A cat getting electrocuted

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“Wow, what is it?” Anna asks as she pokes my leg with her finger, trying to figure out exactly what I’m showing her and I’m somewhere in between a little nervous that she just touched me in the worst tattoo ever, and slightly impressed that I currently have a celebrity poking my leg and none of us think this is weird at all.

I go on to tell her that when I was 18, I had a guy who used to do tattoos out of my kitchen back in Jersey and that I must have been pretty young and stupid at the time to get a multi-colored cat having electro shock therapy from sticking a fork in a power outlet.

“But you know what, you should never cover it up because it will always remind you not to make impulsive decisions in life.” Dustin says.

He’s absolutely right, and he makes a good point, and it’s at this time that Anna asks me why I’m going back to L.A. I tell her the truth because that’s what people do when they first meet each other in airpot bars and I explain how the last month in Seattle was kind of rough on me as I lost my cat and my ex within the same week, and before I know it I’m showing Dustin and Anna pictures of both of them. But what am I really doing in L.A.?

I’m going back to take care of an apartment I have had under my name since I moved to Seattle almost six months ago, and I’m going to see friends of mine who I’ve missed these last 180 days and who have been there for me for years. I’m going back to get a sense of where I came from and perhaps get an idea of where I’m headed next and believe me, even though Los Angeles can be a toxic city, I think I’m able now to avoid the toxicity of the Hills and the San Fernando valley even though the the news reports are saying not to be outside for very long because of the smoke from the wildfires.

It’s nearing the time that I have to board my flight, but if I can be totally honest I kind of want to miss it and continue this random conversation I’m having at a bar in Sea-Tac airport with an oil rigger and a comedic actress, but I know that there is something waiting for me 967 miles south of here.

I say goodbye to Dustin and I tell him it was nice to meet him, then Anna extends her hand and as I shake it she reminds me that her name is Anna, as if I still don’t know who she is, but perhaps she likes that level of anonymity, so I never let on that I know.

I grab my bags, wish them both good flights, and I head over to gate 38 and board the plane for Los Angeles, but not before I text three of my friends telling them that I haven’t even landed in Hollywood yet, but I already have a great L.A. story to tell them.

The Emerald City Attack

Now the path is slightly different, with some twists and turns that are raining down with familiarity. Feels like I’ve been here before….

Perhaps in another decade, and another time when the parameters of what I was working for were slightly skewed to match what I sought at the age of 26, if I even knew at that time what I wanted. But instead, it’s 14 years later and I’m back for the attack in the Emerald City with an opportunity in front of me to pick up where I left off, at least in the grand scheme of things that I call my life.

I had forgotten what it takes to get through the tough times because the last time things got tough I caved and bolted out of this city and I let the proverbial rainstorm get the best of me when I decided that this life was too much for me to handle.  But I’d be lying if I said I don’t appreciate the challenge this time around, and may I point out how god damn cyclical life is and how for the first time in awhile I understand and I god damn appreciate it for something new.  An opportunity.

I learned to live by the phrase “What you resist, persists” and I suppose in some small way I have been resisting the obvious invitation life has been sending me for years every single time I find myself falling away or getting swept up in the emotions that flow through my body.

I get a taste of something I feel like I’ve wanted for years and I think those emotions are real, so I get wrapped up in them until they keep me up at night. But with a little determination and help from myself, I slept through last night with only a small amount of restlessness and even that only came sometime around 4am when perhaps it got too hot to stay slumbered up in my bedroom.

It looks and feels like a different place here now, and even though this apartment is starving for some sort of an argument, I know I’d only be calling out myself and I’ve done enough of that recently to last me until the next time.

And the next time, ironically is THIS time and it’s one of those lessons I started to learn back in 2002 when I lost myself to some silly lack of patience. Now there is nothing more regretful than realizing that if I just stuck it out and really tired to turn things around I might have been able to accomplish what I wanted, but a wandering eye and an adolescent dream is what took me away from here before.

But it’s not that time anymore. I’m not the same person I was back then, and I’ve learned from my mistakes. I’m poised for a return to greatness.  I’m better, I’m stronger, and I’m back for the attack.

 

The June Gloom

When I lived in Los Angeles, most mornings in June we would all wake up to intense overcast and cloud cover.  It would burn off by the late afternoon when the sun came out, and it’s called the June Gloom because it happens during that month when the summer first starts, and the sky looks like how I feel right now.  Gloomy.

This June has been a tough month for me.  Asking around you would hear about how I broke my cell phone and had to buy a new one, how I got swept up in someone else’s eyes, then I crashed back down to earth with a sick cat who was dying of two health issues at once. Money has been hemorrhaging out of my bank account, two has became one, and my cat’s condition has worsened and she barely has been eating the last two days.

I could wait a week to put her down, but what would that accomplish?  I think sometimes we try to extend the life of a dying pet for our own self worth.  We want to feel like we did everything we can for this animal, but sometimes the best thing to do is to let them decide when it’s time to go.  Dapple let me know that yesterday.

It’s all happening so fast and all at once in the month of June.  Now, I don’t live in L.A. anymore, but I’ll be damnded if it doesn’t feel like the June Gloom followed me from Hollywood this whole fucking month.  I want to be pissed off and angry but there is no one or no thing to actually put the blame on.  It’s just life, and it’s telling me that I guess I’m strong enough to handle all these things, otherwise I don’t think they would be happening.

I found an album in my iTunes that I hadn’t listened to since I bought it.  In fact I don’t remember buying it, but life always seems to find a way to communicate to me through music when I need it most:

Am I the only one I know

Waging wars behind my face

and above my throat?

Shadows scream that I’m alone.

But I know we’ve made it this far, kid.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

It’s called “Migraine” by twenty one pilots.  Kind of fitting for me right now. No, I don’t have a headache to go with the pain, but there is a dull numbness  I feel just thinking about how certain events in June have caused to shape my life in a way that is so very different from a few weeks ago. Although, maybe I’m not alone since this hasn’t been a good month for a lot of my friends either.  Maybe that June Gloom is going around.

That song sticks in my head for a reason. Regardless, I’ve made it this far, and if I remember correctly my posts from last summer were filled with confusion and doubt, and ups and down, and code words and paralell lines that I walked on so crookedly, and God I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself. Yet for some reason, now I am well aware, and you don’t have to tell me twice, that I am better off than I was last June.

Keeping in mind that pain and loss are involved in every single thing that has bummed me out this month, I still can say that I’m in a better place than last year.  I certainly didn’t think to look at it that way, and even though I feel like life has been beating me down this month, I have to remember that this time last year, it was ME doing it to myself.  At least I learned from my mistakes.

This has been brought to you by one of the June Gloomers of the world.  We are the  people who know that love dares you to change your way of caring about ourselves.   We know that sometimes there truly is a last dance, and that nothing stays the same forever.

We also sometimes feel good about the struggles we live though and who we have become through our experiences, and we hope and pray that it can only get better by the end of the week when July rolls around.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

(Picture courtesy of a really nice June evening at Golden Gardens in Seattle.  The sun does comes out sometimes)

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.

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.

Making Friends (Or Lack Thereof)

I’ve been in Seattle for about a month now. Each day I seem to fall into a routine of getting up around 7am, making coffee for one, and then feeding my cat who eventually sits in front of the sliding glass door to ask if she could go outside.

Aside from the obvious feline companion I have a few friends up here, but it’s not like I can just call someone at any time of the day or night, and if I needed them, they would be here. Come to think of it, was it ever really like that?

The last year I spent in Los Angeles I had a handful of friends I saw regularly, but I spent the majority amount of my time watching TV, working, eating pizza, and hanging out with a rabbit. I had a purpose. Yes, that’s me and Rocco Valentino “mean muggin” the camera after our routine of morning pets, fresh vegetables, bothering the cat, and a double dose of afternoon carbohydrates when he behaved himself or otherwise looked at me in a certain way. I swear we could communicate with each other. Don’t get me wrong, I love my cat and she truly is my daemon, but even though Rocco was Tasha’s pet, I feel like I miss that bunny more than you could know.

I’ll admit it, I might be a little bit lonely right now. Since I’m a little green up here, I have been spending a lot of my free time alone, with the exception of the gym, the job interviews, and the random things people say to me at the grocery store or the gas station. I’m sure this could be attributed to the fact that I haven’t started work yet, or the fact that this is a new experience for me, and the people that I know who live here are already hung up on their own lives with boyfriends, girlfriends, wives, jobs and kids, five things I do not currently possess in my life. Why can’t life be as simple as it was when I was best friends with a rabbit?

I know I made this decision in my life, and I know I took a leap of faith when I decided that I was going to move out of Southern California, a place that I so desperately wanted to live when I was younger, but I didn’t bomb out, I made a calculated decision based on factors that couldn’t be ignored and the idea that…..wait…. what the purpose of all this again? Oh right….to find a better quality of life for myself.

Have I found it yet? Well, that remains to be seen.

I know how this may come off. I know it seems like I like to reminisce about a time in my life when I had it better than I have it now, but honestly I have it better now than I did a few months ago. I know that sometimes looking back could be the key to moving forward, and maybe for a moment that’s what I’m doing by posting about this. I know living in Hollywood and being best friends with a bunny aren’t really things I should be longing for, but there is a part of me that misses that aspect of my life, even though I truly feel like I made the best decision for my well being.

Sure, my social life hasn’t blossomed quite as instantaneously as I would like, but then again, I haven’t really focused on it. I have been trying to live my life with a sense of urgency and the desire to be unaffected by the thin line I cross when I feel like I’m trying too hard to force something to manifest. Sometimes I think that if I had Rocco next to me, he would totally high-five me after reading that last line cause he gets me. But who “gets me” up here?

I know the girl I used to love may turn out not be who I think she is at all, and I’m ok with that. I know the people I used to know up here may have moved away, or totally forgot about me, and that is no reason to be upset.  But above all, I know the friends I have up here who don’t text me back don’t mean it in a malicious way because I’m sure it has everything to do with the fact that people being busy, is just people being “busy.”

I guess I’m just tired of being a nice person with so much to offer, but with no one to offer it to. I’m sick of having people take advantage of the fact that I’m NOT an asshole, when all I see are assholes reaping the benefits of taking advantage of other people. I guess this is what happens when you become too soft. I guess this is what happens when you hang out more with animals instead of people and can’t seem to cultivate social relationships in a timely manner, but really, I guess this is what happens when you spend the last year or so being best friends with a rabbit.