Monday, August 22, 2011

Out the Front Door

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

One week ago, I stepped off a redeye flight from San Francisco and wandered around Chicago's O'Hare's airport bleary-eyed as I struggled to read an email from my French editor, Jerome. I scrolled through my CrackBerry and read about a potential future project. I was surprised and honored because it came out of nowhere. I have no idea if it will even take off, but it was the first non-poker project I heard of in a while that seemed intriguing.

I was supposed to be on vacation and not thinking about work, or more importantly, not worrying about writing because that's what I do 24/7. By the mere definition, a vacation was supposed to be just that -- time away from the grind of the daily activities that cause you grief, heartburn, and insomnia. The hardest part about being a writer is that most of your time is spent connected to a laptop and flirting between real life and the complex, virtual world.

The summer assignment in Vegas always fucks me up both mentally and physically. Two months in Sin City will do that to anyone. This summer was probably the worse in both respects, but at least, I had something positive happen from the summer of hell because I'm finally realizing that I'm the warden who committed myself to live out a life sentence in the asylum. All I had to do was walk out at any time and life would be... different... albeit somewhat normal again.

Sometimes we forget that the biggest obstacles in our lives are the ones we created ourselves, so more often than not we're paralyzed by whatever mental prisons where we sentenced ourselves. It took a couple of painstaking experiences to finally figure a way out -- which is something I had access to the entire time. A way out.

So, now I stand on the other side of life's tunnel....and I feel like the lone survivor in a bad disaster movie. I'm very sore, dirty, and surprised that I'm on this side of things. A lot of folks and dear friends will never get out because they got stuck inside, or they weren't aware of their own demise and got sucked away into the void -- self-imprisoned in the darkened hallways in their minds.

I've been ready to walk the walk. I've been shit talkin' for a while and it's time to really do those things that make a life worth living. For example, instead of bitching about how much I can't stand LA... I'm making the change and moving. That's just the beginning. I'm trying to apply that shift in thinking to my career path. You'd be surprised on how much time I wasted trying to appease others at the expense on my own development. With that said, I've had to make a lot of rough decisions -- sort of rip-the-band aid-off-quickly decisions that hurt no matter what. So, instead of being paralyzed by indecision, it was time to have the courage and balls to make those decisions. Shit, sometimes any decision is better than indecision. The bottom line is that it's not the time to be afraid of making mistakes. Sometimes I have to look like a fool to get to where I want to go.

Hence, the last couple of weeks. Lots of different thoughts rattled around inside my head about projects, places, and the future. So many in fact that I did everything in my power to contain those thoughts to a few trusted people and I avoided posting anything for the public's consumption (on the blogs, Twat-stream, or other tentacles of social media). Sometimes an existentialist crisis is best had in the privacy of one's internal chatter, but at the same time, sometimes it's best to just keep enlightenment to oneself, especially when most people around you don't really want to be unplugged. The herd is always upset by the rogue salmon swimming upstream.

In short, I feel as though I've returned to someone slightly resembling my old self after a couple of months of internal reflection which was both a humbling and frightening undertaking. I've come a long way in a short time and although I've been incredibly lucky in many instances, I also know that I worked diligently to put myself in a position to get lucky. I had a colleague once say, "Never apologize for taking a vacation if you've been working your ass off."

But that's the problem because I've been apologizing to myself over the last few years because I was either working on vacations or felt guilty for not working on them. I learned the hard way that sometimes, a break is a break, and necessary for the future -- both in terms of growth and development, and the necessity of everyone once in a while to stop and sniff the proverbial roses, even if said roses are sprinkled in cat urine.

I took a vacation and for the first time in a while, I really avoided the pitfalls of getting sucked back into the black cloud of conversation that was just within arms reach on the horizon. Some days I feel so far removed from it all that the last few years seems like a daydream. I have to pick up a copy of Lost Vegas and fan the pages to remind myself that all of that actually happened and it wasn't just a dream. Yet other days, when I'm trying to step back to gain perspective, I'm being chased by the dark clouds. No matter were I go, there they are. I can't even ditch my CrackBerry and hide among the hippies without poker rearing its ugly head. Such is life. That's the life I chose to lead and no matter where I go, it'll always be there. Took me a while to figure that out, which is the sad and inevitable result that anyone ever finds when they are trying to flee a problem, places, or a person.

No matter where you go, you can't escape until you finally unlock the doors in your own mental prison.

Snoopy said that I reminded him of Andy, one of the characters from the Shawshank Redemption because I was slowly and methodically plotting my escape one day at a time. Little did Snoopy know, but I could've walked out the front door anytime.

* * *

I finally got some sleep, which I desperately needed after a few months of horrible insomnia. When you're sucked in a pharmie coma for weeks on end due to heavy dosages of medication, you kind of forget what it's like to live every day in the same cloudy, foggy, haze that never goes away. Unless you live in the Pacific Northwest or San Francisco, then you know what I'm talking about when it starts to rain one day and then it's just grey and bleh and drizzly for several months straight before you finally get a bit of sunshine and then summer is around for a while before the depressing cycle repeats itself.

Numb to it all is the best way to describe the daze or the morning after that some friends of mine refer to as "the noon slouch." Shit, I have at least a novel's worth of stories to share about what it's like living in a daze in the City of Angels. Maybe I'll finally sit down to write that book as soon as I leave LA. I always do a better job writing about a city when I remove myself from said city.

Well, for me, I'm hoping this isn't a short-term cycle, and that the most-recent sunshine that has burst through the greyness sticks around for a while. I felt as though I turned a corner in the last few weeks both philosophically and artistically. I've been caught in limbo for a bit and had no idea what was going on, but a sudden wave of clarity washed over me, followed by another and another within a short time. No coincidence that most of these triggers happened on the road, while on vacation, when I'm supposed to be relaxing and not worrying about work. Letting go was the best thing I've done in a while.

Now comes the tough part -- which is implementing a lot of changes I know I have to make, while continuing to adapt/overcome in other areas, while saying goodbye to a lot of things that need to be left behind.

I'm the personification of Aloha. The Hawaiians had it right -- goodbyes and hellos are the same word. It's truly time to be moving along. Hello. Goodbye. Goodbye. Hello.

1 comment:

  1. Been reading your blogs for a while now, bought a copy of your book for my son, and find your material interesting and well written, quite the departure from 99% of the internet.

    Now for some tough love. You can take it.

    The cycles of greyness you speak of may come from all the drugs you take, dumbass. Been there done that myself and it nearly destroyed me and my family. I quit cold turkey and it saved my life.

    You tell yourself you need them, have to have them, can't live without them and it's all a lie. The only reason you do it is because you WANT to.

    When you and Nicki get to your new place in SF wean yourself off them, walk around and get some exercise and fresh air. You will see your true talents come through and maybe, just maybe the greyness will not return.

    I sincerely wish you two the best of luck and hope things turn out well.