Tuesday, July 31, 2007

West LA Insomnia

4:10am. Unable to sleep. About four hours earlier, I nodded off in the movie theatre at The Grove for about thirty seconds during The Simpsons Movie. I came back home and even attempted to sleep. No such luck. I got up to write. After an hour, I was still awake. I sat on Nicky's couch as her and Showcase were fast asleep and flipped through the cable. Superman was on. I played online poker for ninety minutes and lost $200. Costly insomnia.

I bought a used book online. It cost more to ship it than the book was worth. I started reading a couple of online newspapers and blogs. That was an hour ago. Thought I should finally blog about how I can't sleep.

Hemingway and Michalski have no shame in writing about the weather. It's been pleasant in the LA area compared to the brutal 110+ temps in Las Vegas. This is great beach weather.

I had a lazy weekend which started with a lazy Friday where I accomplished a lot. Woke up and wrote, ate breakfast a one of my favorite places, drove up to the beach, read a couple hundred pages of a book, cooked dinner, and then watched a flick. That would be the beginning of a routine I'd try to replicate over the next few days avoiding the cell phone and spending too much time online.

On Friday night, Nicky made me a delicious pasta dinner. The night before we completed a Midnight stoner's run to Ralph's on Pico and wandered around with only a handful of other customers in the vast store. We agreed to make a quick stop and get the items we wanted, instead of meandering through a ninety-minute half-baked shopping spree. One of the things we got was ravioli. She made that with arribiata sauce. Pretty tasty. That was the first home-cooked meal I had in over two months.

We rented Zodiac. It was about thirty minutes too long. I liked the thriller, despite the length. It reminded me of growing up in NYC during the Son of Sam murders. After the flick, I popped a half of a muscle relaxer. I need those to stay asleep. I have no problems falling asleep. The majority of my insomnia happens when I wake up from a couple hours of slumber and cannot fall back asleep. So whatever I get in that stint... is usually my allotment of sleep for that night. Sometimes I get two hours of sleep. Some nights I get lucky and I managed to get five. With the muscle relaxers I can get about seven or eight.

I squeezed out nine hours. I crashed just after Midnight and woke up at 3:33am, 6:30, and finally got out of bed around 9:30 or so. The drugs made me groggy so when I woke up in the middle of the night, I quickly fell back asleep instead of being bombarded with ideas, thoughts, or reminders that I have a lot of work to do.

Those things are addictive and I try to avoid taking them more than once a week. Otherwise, I'd be popping them all the time to sleep.

On Saturday, Nicky made me breakfast for my second home-cooked meal in a row. I spent most of the afternoon uploading photos onto Nicky's laptop and writing. I had almost a thousand unread emails to get through and I only allowed myself sixty minutes a day towards that task. Even then, the majority of emails I read or sent were work related.

Trying to reinsert yourself into friends' lives is tough after a long hiatus. Especially since I'm back on the road once contact has been reestablished. Such has been the life on the road. I do what I can with the time that I have. Emails are kinda impersonal and phone calls are always better, but I hate talking on the phone, so I ended up writing short emails because I could ramble on and on for hours if I didn't limit myself to an hour per day checking email. I need structure and discipline which is tough to live with when you're constantly on the move.

Anyway, dinner on Saturday was Zankou Chicken. The chicken-joint has one of the best values on the planet... $9.99 for a whole chicken. Feeds two. I was craving their garlic spread and pitas and chicken ever since I moved to Las Vegas over two months ago. Zankou is always on the list of places I have to eat in when I'm visiting LA.

We watched Hollywoodland on Saturday night. It's about a PI (Adrien Brody) who is trying to figure out if the death of George Reeves (Ben Affleck) who happens to be TV's Superman was a murder, accident, or suicide. LA police claimed it was a suicide and the case was closed. Aside from films about New York City, I'm tend to dig period pieces about LA and Hollyweird such as Chinatown, L.A. Confidential, and Hollywoodland. You can even add Boogie Nights, Short Cuts, and The Player to that list.

I had a near perfect Sunday. I woke up early and wrote for a couple of hours before Nicky finally got up. We headed to Nick's coffeeshop down the street for breakfast. That's another favorite eatery of mine. I usually order the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich on wheat toast with hashbrowns and an iced tea. Nicky asks for chocolate chip pancakes that I usually get to eat one of. After breakfast, we drove out to Zuma beach in Malibu. We thought found a great spot. I finished Under the Banner of Heaven as we enjoyed a peaceful two hours. Then a family of four sat down next to us which tilted Nicky. Because a second family of four who was also friends with them set up along with them. Eight loud beachgoers. before they arrived the area was mellow. A lot of people taking naps under umbrellas or reading.

They didn't bother me as much as they infuriated Nicky. I'm sure she'll write about what went down. I eventually read about fifty or so pages of Augusten Burroughs memoir Dry before I put it aside. I prefer not to read books about writers in rehab. Nicky tried to get me to admit that I put it down because of all the gay sex.

After the beach, I wrote for a little before we went to dinner. There's an Italian joint in Westwood called Hoboken which used to be owned by mobbed up guys from Jersey. It's inexpensive Italian food with great garlic bread. After dinner, we wandered around a book store for a while then went home. I wrote some more and around Midnight I realized that I was going to get back a large sum of money that the government had seized from my Neteller account. In the history of Sundays... and I must have had at least 1,800 of them. This Sunday might have been in the top 25. Maybe even in the Top 10... but I'm not 100% sure. It definitely falls in between 10-25 on my all time list.

On Monday morning, we followed the routine. I wrote after a wake and bake. When Nicky got up we headed for breakfast then straight to the beach. Junior's has a franchise in Westwood. The famous Brooklyn eatery known for its cheesecake had a west coast version. For some reason, we never went and always opted for Nick's, Doughboys, or O'Groats for breakfast. I wanted to try it... and I left pleased. The bacon was tasty for a thin cut. Wished I had more. The omelet was pretty good and tasted better when I put it on a buttered garlic bagel with salt, pepper, and a dash of ketchup.

We were at Malibu before 11am. The night before, I bought Nicky a book called Into the Wild. Written by John Krakauer (who penned Under the Banner of Heaven), he writes about a young man Chris McCandless who ends up dying in Alaska. He happened to go to the same college as me and graduated a few months before I arrived. I recalled reading stories about him in the school paper, The Emory Wheel that my freshman roommate Dave Simanoff wrote for and eventually became their Editor and Chief. I read the book when I lived in Seattle shortly after it was published. I wanted to re-read it again before Nicky read it. I got through almost 120 pages before we decided that we had enough sun. While I read another Krakauer book, Nicky thumbed through two travel guides. One was London and the other was Barcelona.

When I got back home from the beach, I accepted four international work assignments for PokerNews.com. Over the next six months I'll cover events in London and Barcelona and make two trips to Melbourne. The bad news is that I have to skip the Vegoose music festival this year. I'll be in Australia at that time. I finally know my schedule for the next six months. I can now pick out a couple of weeks to do some personal travel. Nicky gets to come to Europe with me and along with one of my trips to Australia. At the beach on Monday, she eagerly read the guidebooks we picked up.

I have a couple of days left in Hollyweird before I return to NYC. I unload my stuff from a two month stint in Las Vegas. Then I have a couple of days before I have to repack for a six weeks adventure in Amsterdam, Barcelona, and London. One journey comes to an end as another begins.

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