Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Semblance of Sanity

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I forgot about my old routine. I'd wake up in the darkness and sit down at the dining room table and await the glow of morning hover over the palm trees, as homeless people sneak down the alley to the dumpster and rummage through for empty beer bottles that the guys from upstairs threw away. I missed writing just to write along to music. The sounds of my favorite bands and musicians inspired me to write and write and write until it was time to stop. It's like turning on a faucet and I go and go until it stops flowing.

After a positive session, I grab a book and walk two blocks to the diner. This time, I carried along a new book that Michalski gave me called The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan. I quickly read through the section on apples and Johnny Appleseed and I'm in the middle on a section about tulips and the big tulip crash in the Netherlands many many moons ago.

It was sunny out for my first morning back. Bright with a light blue sky, just like I remembered the morning sunshine in Southern California, but not as intense as the intense Nevada heat. I slowly walked down my palm-tree lined street. I walked past people, real people, some of them going to work, others working out, and others walking their dogs. They were not like the people I passed every morning in Las Vegas, where the first person I'd see every morning was an ethnic maid pushing a cart down the narrow hallway of the Gold Coast hotel.After I exit the elevator, I take a step into the casino and a bank of slot machines.. It's sad when some of the first negative images you see every morning are old ladies gambling away their savings while waiting to die.

It was refreshing to see some normal people doing non-gambling activities. Working out. I forgot how people in SoCal are obsessed with their bodies. They would never even consider an all-you-can-eat buffet, let alone eat anything with carbs. A few exercise people rushed by and I picked up my pace. I weighed myself and was about four pounds over. I had actually lost one pound when I got to Vegas and dropped another five on Phish tour. In the last three weeks, I packed on a quick ten. Since I was back in SoCal, the portions would decrease and the overall healthiness and freshness of my daily intake would substantially increase once Nicky returned to cooking the majority of our meals. No more casino food. Thank God.

There were plenty of FOR RENT signs up and down my street. Some of the older places got filled with new tenants, while new ones cropped up. I made my way across the street and noticed that Nick's had fixed their broken front window. A few months ago, someone was wasted and plowed through the sidewalk and crashed into the side of the building. The owner lost space for two tables but still remained open for business. They simply worked around it.

The gang at the diner (from the owner's adult kids, waitstaff, and cooks) were happy to see us. They asked where we went and I mentioned that we were away on an assignment. The owner's daughter thinks that Nicky is a spy because she's always going off to a strange and exotic locale. Come to think about it, my entire career would be the perfect cover for intelligence gathering. Hmmmmm....

We have been running errands the last few days to prep for the next leg of Phish tour. I had to pick up some random camping supplies and other stuff. Target had a few items in stock and we stopped in there. It's located in a not-so-great part of town. The clientele is very colorful and lots of lower-middle class families with multiple kids running amuck through the aisles. Apparently, if you leave your cart unattended, someone with steal it... with the items inside. It happened five minutes into our trip. I found a hipster hat that Nicky wanted to see what it looked like in a mirror. She left the cart unattended for ninety seconds in the aisle and when she returned, it was gone. She was pissed and looked around the adjacent aisles only to find the cart nowhere in sight. She rushed up to the front to find another.

I bought a cooler with wheels. It was too big to put into the cart (even though it barely fit), so I carried/wheeled it around solo. I was kinda faded when we went to Target, so I was a little loopy when I passed the snacks aisles. I got lost in the cookies and chocolates section. I left the cooler in the aisle unattended for a minute when Nicky caught someone trying to take it! At that point, I dumped the cooler into the cart. If someone wanted to steal our cart with all the stuff inside, than so be it.

If our Target experience wasn't weird enough, the credit card machines at the checkout counter were not working properly or the cashier didn't have a clue. I'm gonna go with the clueless cashier. Both my credit cards were declined even though I have a zero balance on both.

Instead of throwing a hissy fit, I simply paid cash. Sometimes, it's your time to get screwed over by the Man... fucked by the system... run over by the Matrix. It's nothing personal. Sometimes, it just happens and it's your turn to get shit on by a slave wage nit or a malfunctioning computer from a multi-national corporation who is trying to cut corners.

Most of the time, I'm amazed that things run so smoothly in America (as opposed to plenty of places overseas - some of which would blow your mind about having backwards and mind numbing slow and horrible customer service). So when it's my turn to get a bad beat by the Matrix, I simply take it in stride. Maybe it's from playing a lot of poker where I'm used to losing out on something when I had the percentages in my favor.

A couple of times since I returned, I went into my office and closed the door and played music. I forgot how much I enjoyed the privacy and ability to work in peace and quiet instead of the zoo like the press box. Sometimes it got as loud as a bar at happy hour. I always adapted to my surroundings, ut I discovered that I get work done faster when I limit the distractions... no friends tapping me on the shoulder to gossip, no phones, no email, no Twitter... just sitting down, listening to music, and writing...

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