Los Angeles, CA
I'm sitting in a faux 50's diner inside LAX and pecking away at my tiny laptop as Nicky reads a book on her iPad and a couple across from us are bitching and moaning about something. I just paid $14 for a breakfast sandwich and an iced tea. It wasn't even a BIG ASSED ice tea, just a medium. Fucking airports can overcharge their customers for mediocre food and they do. If I wasn't so busy this morning, I would have grabbed a goodbye meal at the coffeeshop, part of a tradition that I have whenever I depart LA for an extended period of time, however, I was in the middle of a rough adjustment phase knowing that I was going to be away for five weeks and I wanted to capture the last bits of inspiration that had struck me in the last month of so.
In this instance, I'm going to be on the road for five weeks (four weeks away from SoCal with just one day back to LA in early November before I drive to Vegas). The majority of this trip is for fun (or what the powers to be consider "pleasure") with the last week of the trip including a work assignment in Vegas for the continuation of the WSOP. I used to have fun in Vegas, but these days, whenever I go it's strictly business, which is tough when you have to have a work mindset in a place where people are partying it up. On a good note, I'm heading to Colorado and Denver for almost a week and crashing with the Joker.
Back in my 20s, I used to party hard in New Orleans. In my 30s, that locale shifted to Vegas. But after losing my party destination due to work obligations, I needed to find a new place to get away from it all and throw down hard. That's why Denver and trips to Colorado are so important -- it's the only place where I know I can escape from the daily grind and evade the darkness of the poker world for a few days. Colorado is where I've been recharging my batteries the last few years and I couldn't be more excited to be heading back. Nicky and I visited Colorado just two months ago for an epic trip to Telluride that included an arduous journey to get there. So far, this trip is looking a like a breeze, but I'd hate to jinx myself.
One random thing that happened to me today -- I got stuck in an airport security line that made you walk through one of those fancy and controversial full body x-ray scanners. I didn't want to go, but didn't have a choice. They asked me to remove any paper from my pockets, which included a wad of cash. They made me hold it above my head while I got zapped by the machine. Now, I'm gonna get cancer and everyone at the TSA knows I have a small penis.
I have 12 Phish shows on the agenda this trip and hoping that the Yanks advance to the next round in the playoff so I could at least watch a few games with my brother in NYC (if not score tickets to the games outright). I wish I had more time in NYC, but what little time I do have will be spent with my family because I'm not coming home for Turkey Day this year -- the first time I'll be skipping it in over a decade. The price/time/hassle is simply not worth it for me to go home for a few days only to get scorned by my mother. She can do that on the phone and I can save $500 and avoid traveling with amateurs who take fourteen bags and try to stuff each one into the overhead compartment, and all of that excess baggage for a 4-day trip.
Part of me in angered that the airlines charge you to check bags, mainly because it causes people to opt for carry-on and everyone is fucking angleshooter and brings three or more bags. But part of me thinks it's a good idea to penalize passengers for taking a shotload of luggage and overpacking. That's sort of a byproduct of an overzelaous consumer society -- that people brings tons of material items with them on the road. Hey, if you're afraid to fly and need a lucky pillow to calm you down, then so be it. If you have kids with you and need toys and trinkets to keep them sane and quiet, then that's OK. But if you're bringing a dozen outfits for a weekend in Vegas and clogging up the overhead space, then that fucker should pay dearly for being a materialistic vapid moron who only cares about how the look in public.
But hey, I'm the guy who always goes carry-on. I actually mailed a box of some "autumn clothes" and some books to NYC ahead of time so I wouldn't have to worry about bringing a bigger bag. I dig the fact that I can fit several weeks of clothes in a regular sized book bag, and anything else fits into my laptop bag. I'm a huge proponent of carry-on. Just like the character in Up In the Air said -- you save an average of 20 minutes by NOT checking bags. When you travel as much as I do, that can add up to almost a full day of extra time, and these days, time is so fucking valuable and it seems as though I never have any.
The last time I checked a bag domestically -- it got lost. The last time I was forced to check a bag on an international flight (it was a puddle jumper in Costa Rica), I got robbed. So, it goes without saying that I'm a minimalist in life and only carry with me what I need. Being an experienced travels has its advantages especially having no fear leaving behind an item that has less than a 10% chance that I'd actually need.
My travels will take to me Colorado, South Carolina, NYC, Atlantic City, and several stops in New England including Providence, Amherst MA, and Manchester NH. Oh, and I almost forgot about Vegas, but that's the "work" portion of the journey so I'm putting that out of mind and trying to focus solely on the "play" part of this trip.
Two friends of mine have been struggling with health issues, which is vexing because I can't do a single thing to make them better and it's frustrating when you're powerless in those matters and see you're friends -- in pain. They know that they inspire me and the thought of their daily fight is something that gives me something to remind me that life is incredibly short and that most of the time you're doing a lot better in life than you think. So much of our society is designed to make you feel like shit, or feel inferior, so it's easier to fall into the "woe is me" category than grab life by it's underwear's waistband and give it a fucking atomic wedgie.
I'm sure that my recent creative ourburst had something to do with the powerless feeling about being unable to make my friends feel better, which is also why I'm ready to have a real good time and enjoy being in the moment over the next few weeks with people and friends that I don't get to see as much as I'd like.
I'm on the road... again. Sometimes I wonder if this is where I really belong.