Los Angeles, CA
I'm the worst kind of junkie. A functioning addict. Someone who says they don't cross the line and just dabbles yet manages to get the job done. But that's not even close to the truth. What's the ultimate goal? Wandering up to the brink of sanity and pushing the edge on the cusp of overdosing but without dying. That's it. The life wish.
Those around me are too afraid to say anything or too self-involved to notice. I get away with blatant abuse. I have yet to run into any complications with work due to a fortuitous combination of having a smidgen of talent when many of my peers are mental wrecks, incompetent,and untrustworthy. Any other job or industry, and I'm out on the street. Shit, I'm virtually unemployable outside of Las Vegas, yet I somehow get to earn a living during lean times with rising unemployment. Somedays, I wonder if I push it because I can. Other days I wonder if I push it because I can't stop.
I was never a full blown junkie until I moved to Los Angeles. Is there a correlation? That is something I have been exploring and will continue to explore in a series called the Vicodin Diaries. I will eventually use that material in the form of a novel or screenplay or both. Addiction is popular subject among the masses as long as it's not your addiction being examined. That's why shows like Hoarders or Intervention are widely popular among the dazed masses. Everyone loves watching someone else's trainwreck.
For the last few weeks I have been experiencing intense dreams about the City of Angels, my addiction to painkillers, majestic Pacific sunsets, and a collection of people in my life. Basically, the creative gods are sending me messages while I sleep. They are essentially molding a manuscript inside my head and it's my job to get it onto paper (or onto the computer screen).
I'm bombarded with visions and thoughts as I walk around LA or sit in the passenger seat as I drive around the side streets of the slums of Beverly Hills. My body, my mind is telling me something... hurry up and finish the Las Vegas book so you can write about Los Angeles and your struggles with addiction inside the city limits and in the last bastion of hope at the last bit of land in America before it's cut off by the ocean.
My dream... that I'll find out the true source of what is wrong with me during the process of writing that book and pinpont the source of why I feel as though it's better to be numb to the world that experience it without any buffers.
I use art to solve life's mysteries. Photos. Videos. Paintings. Poems. Satire. Comedy. Social media. Everything at my disposal. I know that I finally exorcised many self-destructing demons during the half of a decade it took to write Lost Vegas. I purged so many personal issues with the last draft that a part of me felt as though I didn't need to finish the last bits of the book and publish it -- mainly because I set out to write it for closure. Once many of those major personal issues with myself and Las Vegas were smoothed over, I sort of lost the drive to complete the project. In short... problems solved and I found the answers I was looking for.
Of course in the pursuit of closure, I had acquired a new set of problems while living in California.... confronted with addiction, balancing a relationship and career, and the never ending quagmire of art versus commerce. Where else would be the perfect battleground than Los Angeles, in the shadows of the Hollywood Hills, and in the streets of the Slums of Beverly Hills.
So that's where I am.... bogged down with a daily struggle to stay clean, on the cusp of finishing a project that is way behind schedule, stuck in an tumultuous industry where I've smacked up against a glass ceiling, and now it seems that every creative bone in my body is itching to write about something completely different.
I set aside time to write four other projects before the LA novel. Yet, that's all the vibes I'm getting from the universe. Thoughts about LA. My mind and my gut is telling me to write about LA. So I've been doing that on nights when I'm unable to sleep, or when I rise early in the mornings while it's still dark outside and jazz music fills the dining room and dices through the stagnant marijuana smoke as I sit down to write. I should be working on my own sites, or whoring those freelance articles, or working on Lost Vegas, yet I find myself scribbling down scenes, soliloquies, monologues, locations, character names, character sketches, and other thoughts about living in LA as a native New Yorker.
The pills come and go. The shakes attack me in unpredictable cycles. Some days are better than others and I don't think about sinking down to that warm and glorious feeling. Even though a bitter chill has blanketed the nation and most of Europe and Southern California is one of the few places in America with any decent weather... I'd rather ingest Vicodin and welcome the pill that provides my entire body with an inner warmth that is ten thousand times stronger than the sun.
Each pill is a log that I throw onto the fire of my soul. It keeps the inferno raging while I feel amazingly good and calm and accepting of everything around me including the insane traffic and suicidal drivers. I can deal with covert racism and classism hovering over the city like a batch of smog that won't evaporate easily. I shrug off the corrupt politics of the nation-state of California that is one step away from complete anarchy. I can handle the LA Douchebags yapping on their iPhones and cutting you off in their Nazi sleds when I'm faded to the tits on Vicodin or some sort of opiates. The annoying actresses struggling for their big break while serving me lunch don't piss me off as much when they totally fuck something up. After all, they were trained in the Mesiner technique and never received and formal culinary training. Sometimes I wonder what pharmies they are taking.
Everyone in this town is on something, trying to get off something, or trying to score something... better. It's the American way.
I knew there was a problem when I preferred the warmth of the pills than the soothing rays of California sun that shot down on me as I wandered through the pedestrian-less palm-tree line streets. Some mornings I wonder if all of this is just a dream and that I died many years ago and that this waking life is nothing more than my own personal heaven. Wouldn't that me a Philip K. Dickian mind fuck to learn that we're already dead and that Earth is nothing more than your personal heaven or hell based on your previous life. If that's the case then when we actually die -- we are born again and get another go around.
Other days I wonder if we're already dead and roaming the Earth is nothing more than waking up in purgatory. We're simply waiting to be sent to heaven or hell. Funny that heaven and hell in Los Angeles are only separated by a couple of miles.
Or then again, maybe none of that exists and when it's finally over (life, that is), we retreat to a big fat cup of nothingness. Fade to black. No credits to roll.
These are questions that have been swirling around my head the last few days and weeks, maybe even months and years. I know that every morning I slide out a chair and sit down at the laptop and peck away unleashing my thoughts. I tackle many of these touchy subjects and difficult philosophical questions. Most of the time I have zero answers and infinitely more questions. Yet, I feel better in a way because I'm trying to find answers to some of my existential questions instead of sitting on my ass and watching Sportscenter or wasting my time reading what the masses are chirping and complaining about on Twitter.
Every morning, I also get bombarded by waves of guilt for retaining my junkie ways, and spend a lot of time justifying and crucifying myself. Sometimes both in the same sentence as I place myself on trial. I'm the judge, jury, and executioner. Some days I avoid twisting the cap to the pill bottle. Some days I don't and my future rattles around with the remaining pills in the bottle.
There's always amazing art through personal struggle. I'm leaning towards publishing most of my morning journals that I wrote while in LA. Sometimes a few of those excerpts filter down to Tao of Pauly, but most of the time they remain hidden somewhere on my laptop. Some of those thoughts are the raw versions of me. The good. The bad. Mostly the ugly.
At any rate, I have my heart set on finishing Lost Vegas in the next few weeks, but on a positive note, I'm feeling the urge to write many more things and I'm not at all inclined to return to being a full-time whore to the poker industry. That's refreshing because sometimes I wonder if I'll ever lose the passion and the fire to write. Rather, sometimes I wonder if I can live life without another paycheck. Part of me felt foolish to walk away from an industry that has money when all the other available options for writers include a reduced wage.
Right now, it's not money that I'm worried about. It's time. That's my enemy. I don't have enough time to write about everything I want to. In the next few months, I'll have to make a tough decision that will affect the next three-four years. I dunno if the LA novel can wait and stand fifth in line (Lost Vegas, untitled e-book project, Jack Tripper, Phish book, untitled screenplay, LA novel) behind other projects that I must write. I guess that's why I've been spending ten fifteen twenty minutes a day jotting down all those thoughts, recapturing all those bizarre dreams from the previous night, and all of those whispers of dialogue rattling inside my head.
I'm supposed to be in Los Angeles, still don't know why, but I'll find out the answers somewhere along the way. It took me a while before I understood that I was given a pass by the writing gods to pen something about Las Vegas and that honor was not to be taken lightly. It's been an epic five year struggle with the Las Vegas book which is finally coming to a close.
As I finally escape the menacing neon and destructive darkness of Las Vegas, I'm running towards the everlasting and deceptive California sun.