Monday, May 01, 2006

Moments in a Box

I don't really have a home. I'm kinda homeless. I say NYC is my hometown, but I've spent more days in California this year than in New York City. It's been 17 or 18 months in a row where I've been constantly on the road flying back and forth cross country or showing up at random places covering the European Poker Tour or the World Poker Tour. I sleep in five star hotels and casinos in Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Las Vegas. And sometimes I'm at a budget motel chain or crashing on friend's couches or in spare bedrooms. The longest stint I spent in one place in the past year were the ten weeks last summer when I lived at the Redneck Riviera in Las Vegas. I never left Sin City once and I've been living out of a suitcase or luggage or a backpack for the last year and a half. The few material items that I own are in storage at my mother's apartment. Derek has several boxes filled with books, trophies, old sports gear, and insurance manuals stashed away in one corner and I use the rest.

I have worn out milk crates from Atlanta, GA filled with Grateful Dead bootlegs. I had a 1977 phase and collected as many shows from that epic year as I could get my hands on. Some of these bootlegs have been in my collection for over twenty years. I've picked them up along the way from fraternity brothers in Atlanta, from former co-workers when I lived in Brooklyn, in Jamaica, from old school hippies in Seattle, in Austin and even on Dead tour. My ex-girlfriend, the crazy French bitch who broke up with me on my birthday a decade ago, happened to have a shitload of Dead bootlegs. I never asked why. She just gave them to me one day. She was an artist and hand made several cool tape covers. She hand dipped cardboard into oil paint that created all these psychedelic cover art.

I also have several hundred books sitting in boxes and milk crates and orphaned into random piles in my old bedroom. I've acquired a lot of books over the last several years. Another ex-girlfriend used to constantly buy me books from biographies of epic people I admired like Jackson Pollock, Miles Davis, and Jerry Garcia to random fiction like Paul Auster and Chuck Palahnuik. And ever since my poker blog took off, the more popular it got, the more I started getting mailed every new poker book and title. The PR or publishing company hoped that I'd write a favorable review. I can stack all those freebies to the ceiling. Some of them still sit in the Fed Ex envelopes that they were shipped in. At this rate, I might never get to read them.

I also have ton of CDs that survived the great fire sale of 1998, when I left Seattle for NYC and I had to raise cash for gas money, so I sold books and CDs at this one place across the street from Scarecrow Video. I got almost $130 for CDs and just $25 for books. That helped fund my cross country sojourn.

I also had yellowing files, like old bank statements that I kept for some insane reason. I also have several boxes filled with my writing. That included almost one hundred tablets and small pads filled with my internal madness that I scribbled in over the last 15 years. I had to date some of the inside pages just in case the outer covers ripped off. I also had copies of all of my novels and screenplays stacked in one box which include various first edition and first drafts.

I also have odd piles of clothes bundled together. Some are items I haven't worn since the first Bush was in office. Another pile is constructed of bulky winter items like sweaters and fleece jackets. Then there's the paintings. That takes up most of the room. Almost a hundred are stacked up in the corner. Sometimes I let a couple out to breathe and hang them on the empty walls. Each painting is a visual representation of what was going on in my life at the time. It's a flashback on many levels. Some paintings are colorful yet frantic. Others are dark and banal. They are too big to do anything with them, so they collect dust until my death when my remaining family will sell them on eBay and make millions of dollars. Bastards.

I made an effort to clean up my storage space over the weekend. I threw out several garbage bags of old clothes. They were so out of style that I wouldn't subject poor or homeless people to my misguided fashion sense. I chucked anything I have not worn in a year with the exception of a a few Brooks Brothers suits and other dressy items that are fighting off the sexual advances of moths and other critters that inhabit New York City crawl spaces. I tossed several bags of garbage like junkmail and useless crap that I accumulated on my travels this past year.

I also need to start organizing all my books into three piles...
1. Books that I want to keep.
2. Books that I want to give away.
3. Books that I will sell.
At the end of the summer, I'm going to sell 100 books online for like $7 each on ebay or amazon to score a quick $700. Whatever I get is bonus and will go towards a plane ticket to some place exotic.

I wish I can get to a point where I can give away my paintings. But I'm still too attached to them. But the books I can let go. I'm going to condense all the music on CDs and sell those if I can. Eventually I can get every single Dead bootleg that I had on audio tape and transfer it to my iPod. I might get a new iPod and have nothing but Grateful Dead on there.

Over the last few weeks, I had been undergoing a transformation in the way I approach my life and my writing. Things weren't right over the last few months. Even though I should have been happy being at the height of my career and reaching several personal milestones, I wasn't. Something was missing and I had to figure out why I felt empty and exhausted. I spent too much energy working hard to get to a level of success that I was too tired and too busy to enjoy it. I took the last month relaxing, detaching myself from this electronic world, and coming up with a new gameplan for the first next months and so forth.

I've been trying to simplify my life. I accepted that I'm living a transient lifestyle and will so for the next few years. I have very few material items aside from what I can stuff in my luggage and carry on bag. What I have in NYC are just boxes full of old memories. I have to learn to let go of the physical and material aspect of these items like books and paintings and boxes of junk. My storage space resembled my life. It was cluttered with boxed memories of the past and unfinished projects of the present. I had to clean everything up before I continued on my journey through life.

* * * * *

I've been on a writing binge. I penned over 15K words on the philosophy of Bruce Lee since I got back to NYC. I specifically focused on his interpretations of Chinese Taoism and Zen Buddhism. My mind wandered down paths and hallways that hasn't been traveled in years. I re-read a few books from Alan Watts. A friend of mine gave me audio recordings of lectures and discussions that he made several years before he died in 1973.

I have writing about how reading these books has affected me in a different way than when I originally read them in 1998. A lot has changed for me since then when I lived in Seattle and I sat on broken couch littered with cigarette burn marks and watched the late afternoon rain as my heavily medicated roommates chain smoked and pontificated on the cruel reality that the main cause of suffering is desire.

My life became so cluttered that I needed to break everything down and strip it to the core and rebuild my life from scratch. I just didn't sit around and smoke dope in Hollyweird when I was there... I was on a search for answers and figuring out why I've been miserable about some things. The drive along the coast with Change100 was inspiring. Seeing the impressive Pacific Ocean was a reminder that my time here is insignificant compared to the scale of time that the mountains or the oceans have endured. That reminder that "life is short and somewhat meaningless" stuck with me.

I used to leave LA disgusted about the absurdity of the entertainment industry. This time, I left on a mission... to worry less about things and focus on writing. At the same time I made sure that my schedule will be a balance of several things that bring me pleasure like writing creative pieces, non-business travel, seeing live bands, taking photos in the city, reading in the park, watching the Yankees with Derek, and spending time with old friends.

My time in New York has been consumed with writing and watching sports. This Saturday was one of those epic days in NYC sports. I felt fortunate to get to experience a day in New York City filled with games varying from the NBA and NHL playoffs and the Yankees. Not to mention the NFL draft where the Jets were rumored to trade their #4 pick so they can move up to #2 to take USC's Reggie Bush. The suits at Gang Green HQs decided to go the more conservative route. Instead, the Jets filled holes in a draft that the so-called experts would have a tough time picking apart. The Yankes won a rout against the Blue Jays and Jason Giambi homered. Again. And then the Rangers got swept by the red-hot NJ Devils. Hockey and basketball season are officially over for me. The only reason I'm watching the NBA playoffs is to see if I can spot a good game to bet on sometime down the road.

I was surprised to see a piece on the NFL draft by music writer and pop culture pontificator Chuck Klosterman. It appeared on ESPN and I was shocked as I shoved a bagel in my face and scrolled trhough his article a few minutes before the draft began.

"What the fuck does he know about the draft?" I muttered in between bites.

His article called The Wrong Guy wasn't bad. I like Klosterman. I read two of his books (Fargo Rock City and Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs) and have a third (Killing Yourself to Live) sitting in a pile of a dozen other books that I'm supposed to read, but will only get started and never finished.

On Sunday morning, less than 24 hours after his bit on the NFL draft and Reggie Bush, I picked up the NY Times Magazine and read Klosterman rambling on about pizza in something titled One Slice with Extra Meaning. What a lucky fucktard!

Pizza and football? And he got paid to do that?

I want that gig. I guess reading Klosterman the last two days in major media outlets inspired me to try to equal his feat. On my list of "Things to Do" is "have a piece published in the NY Times Magazine. Now I can add "get an article up on"

Time to push myself a little bit harder...

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