Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: Pick Two (aghrivaine) wrote,
Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: Pick Two

Jack Kerouac Saved My Soul

So man I've been wrapped up in anxiety since I got here to L.A. Sure at first it seemed like this big adventure, like the end of the rainbow, you know? But the thing about the end of the rainbow is if you get there and there's no pot of gold waiting, it's easy to feel pretty salty about it, like maybe there's some damn leprechauns somewhere kickin' up their heels in Vegas spending what rightwise oughta be mine mine mine all mine, you know?

It got pretty bad, this case of the blue devils - it was a weird thing it wasn't really depression like what's dogged my steps from time to time, but rather just a sense of utter failure, dislocation, and more than anything, a huge sense of having made a drastically bad decision that I wouldn't easily be able to recover from, if at all. It was dragging me down, thinking about what it would have been like if I'da just stayed at home with friends and family, and used the money I spent coming out here to finish my book. I'm working in IT out here, anyway, coulda done that at home, right? Nothing that I came out here to do, no... to be - has panned out. It was a bad decision, but you know, I made it with good intentions, and what I thought was good data. Thought I had a great job working for and with people I really got along with, that would be very lucrative. Turns out that was all based on a lie, but given the risk I hold myself accountable for not looking at what seemed to be too-good-to-be-true as, indeed, too good to be true.

So man oh man, I've been hipped. Hey, what do you do if everything you try ends up a collossal fuckup, you know? It's thrown me for a loop. Up is down, down is up -- freedom is tyranny and fuckohfuck there's Republicans in the House, Senate and White House. Things fall apart, man, the center can not hold. Anxious, that's what I've been, brow furrowed, back tense, never relaxed, always waiting for the next kick in the stomach like a dog that's been whipped as a puppy. It's no good place to be, man, no, no - not at all.

So this weekend I've exactly as many things to do that are all responsible and productive as there are people in China. And let me tell you, there's a lot of Chinese over there. (Which is good, because if there were that many Spaniards, say, in China, it would be weird.) So what do I do? Tell you what I do, I take the bull by the horns, and play video games. Baby, it's one thing I'm good at, and now matter how bad I fuck up I can just go back to the last save game and do it right. Wish I could do that, I'd go back to my savegame last August, say - I'd tell Claudia not to bother, I'd not bother planning to come out here to California and I'd finish the damn book and maybe find a job with a small company in PA that maybe doesn't pay as well as the megacorps, but it a hell of a lot more rewarding. Or maybe I wouldn't maybe I'd do something else, but anyway, I wouldn't be here, that's fordamnsure.

But hey, no savepoints in life, gotta just keep on with the keepin' on, and make the best of whatever cookie-batter you find in your mixing bowl. Too many nuts in this batch, but fuck it -- theyr'e still cookies, right? Maybe I don't get the chocolate chips I thought I would get, but a good cookie is its own reward, no doubt. Yes, yes - the metaphors are strange, but you know what I mean, so keep up with me, k?

About halfway through Saturday I figure I've had enough of sitting in front of a computer so I drag my recently inherited from a guy-with-a-baby (apparently having a baby means you can't have furnite anymore?) awesome comfortable reading chair out into the weed-choked Vietnamese countryside that is my backyard, and sit in the sun. I pick up "On The Road" again, which I've picked up and put down about a half dozen times since I left for Kahleefornnea (as our beloved Governer calls it). But this time, it picks me right back up. Kerouc's got it right man - what's the use worrying about how you thought things were going to turn out, right? He and Dean Moriarty had it right, that people just want something familiar to worry about, and once they found it, they'd let it occupy their minds rather than seeing what was around. Why do that? Really, other than the comfort of familiarity, what good is there in it.

"We were prophets emerged from the desert to bring the holy word - and the word was 'WOW!'" - that's what Kerouc says. So if I rewrote the above story looking at it from the beat perspective it would go something like, this.

I came out to California thinking I'd have my best girl with me, working on cartoons and living in style. But that didn't work out; the girl went nuts and bailed, my cousin was a flake and the industry was a bore. I found myself in another tech gig but living with some crazy kids making it big in music and art. I made some friends, and the friends were loopy and weird, but most of all I found out that out here, in the New West, in the town without history, in a city with no past - I could be whoever I wanted to be, that no one knew where I was coming from. Of course, they didn't care where I was going, either, but hey - if they don't, I don't have to either right? I'd spent too much time seeking the comfort of the familiar trying to recreate my life in the East out West, only bigger, better and more glamorous. But that wasn't the way to do it man, no story in that. It was time to crawl out of the little nest, the little bubble of the ordinary, the warm womb of quotidian to-do lists and comfortable, redundant thinking. Time to open my eyes and see this side of the world, the end of the continent, the ocean that the sun drowns in every night, the lights of the city that gleam like broken glass, the horrible beautiful crazy world out here with palm trees and broken promises. And when that was beat, I'd be gone - gone and gone, you know? No reason to stay here, but no reason to leave just yet, either. If I beat a retreat back to where I'd come from it would be more of the same same same - and my big mistake out here was trying to make what's inherently, wildly, essentially different the same to what I would expect. It's fine to think I'd change Los Angeles (though hubristic, to be sure) but a lot scarier to think I'd be changed by Los Angeles. But that's what it is, dig? It's change. I'm here, it's true, but if I don't like it, I pull up stakes and leave. What's next? Who knows maybe it's Australia, maybe it's Oregon, maybe it's Iowa - but wherever it is, it's the Road, the Way - the Holy Appia, and if the road is my home then everywhere I go is home. It's not drifting like a tumbleweed, it's more like exploring.

After a few hours of sitting in the sun and reading and pondering and turning a brigther shade of red because the sun here is so close to the earth, the neighbors shouted over the fence about their new hot tub they'd just installed. I had helped install it, so they said I ought to get a chance to try it out, you know? But the water was no hotter than the air - and the water was plenty hot - so I figured I'd wait till next week when we finally had our simultaneous house-warming and tub-warming party - (house for us, tub for them) - a party so big it'll take two houses to contain it, you know? But we yakked about what a California yard ought to be like, which is basically an outdoor living room, only better becuase the roses bloom there. There's always something blooming in our yard - maybe it's the geraniums, maybe it's the roses, maybe it's the succulents, maybe it's the orange tree. There's so much sun, the plants have to have enough color to get noticed, I guess. The huge magnolia out front is blooming now, massive white petals that float down when they're dead and end up something to sweep up, but until then they're a magnificent crown on the tallest tree on the block - a crown of snow, of pure white, of beautiful dying flowers.

And it was like that second-cup-of-coffee benevolence that hit me then. This was a good place, or at least, good enough. And there were so many things yet to see and do here before it was worth putting under my heels and showing my backside too. It may be the end of the continent, hell, the end of the world - but I've got lots to see before I need to poke my head over the next horizon. I'd found the end of the rainbow here once, literally - handing a script I wrote over to a producer there was a rainbow out the window that crested right where I was standing. No pot of gold, no leprechauns (fuckers are in Vegas, I'm sure of it) but the point is not that you go looking for the end of a rainbow to find wishes or gold - but rather you go looking so that you're looking for something, and it's the looking that matters, not the finding. What do you do once it's found? No credits to roll in life - so whatever happens good, bad, or indifferent - you're off to something else. And that's what you do when you find yourself disappointed, broke down and failing. You just keep looking. If you love the looking, then who cares what you find?

Thanks, Jack Kerouac, for putting words to the road, to the looking.

Maybe I don't have my head on entirely straight just yet, but then, maybe I never will. I'm okay though, here or wherever I find myself next. I won't say "wherever I end up" because ending is something I'm about, see? Not looking for an ending, I'm looking for the next beginning.

Don't look back. Don't look forward.

Look around, baby. Look around.


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