Monday, 8 January 2018

SICK

I was reunited with the old two lane highway that I have come to know and love so well. Maria felt the wind in her hair and just today got one of the most glorious showers ever. Rain isn't a word in the California dictionary you see. We've suffered a great deal, Maria and I, because of this. The air is dry. My nose didn't remember what clean air smelled like. My mouth had the taste of blood. The street cleaning was put off far too often and the dirt of life had been accumulating right along with it. It was time to wash my hands. The truth is, i've been in a dark place for months now, and i'm seeking refuge. I'm eager to once again become healthy and active like a regular human again.

Even as I write this my body and head are having fits. I've been to countless walk-in clinics, taken so many drugs, gotten countless tests, all the while being without insurance and stressing over every little thing. I was terrified and concerned for my health which continued to be in decline with no sign of getting better. It was lonely and scary being in a place where no one had a definitive answer of what was wrong, and just trying to survive. Most days I hoped I could just make it to the end and go to sleep, which was the only space I could find rest. Otherwise, life went by in the most depressing fashion, with nothing to show for except pain and anxiety, and no motivation of any sort remained. I lost interest in just about everything. I cut almost all food and drink and was forced to live on an extremely bland diet mostly consisting of bread. I became weak and tired on a regular basis and ended up pushing myself to a place of malnutrition.

This all happened over the course of a couple of months. I got some simple sickness at the end of September and then nothing was really the same after that. Everything became cloudy and it's hard to say exactly what happened, except for a terrible feeling that was foreign to me. With a whole mix of symptoms including trouble breathing, not being able to eat, dizziness, stomach pain, easily getting cold, and many other issues. Some things were in my head, and some of my responses to my sickness weren't the best, or more so how I tried to remedy it I suppose. I know very little, and I'm continually reminded that I have so much to freaking learn. The simple lesson of something taking TIME, well, that wasn't message I had patience for. As un-productive as these last couple months have felt, I can look back and see many positives that came from the sickness. It was an extreme wake up call, and continues to be so to this day.

Ah yes, this day, as I was saying. It rained today, in Alabama, which is where I surprisingly ended up. Actually, it was a big surprise for my mother who was not made aware of my adventure plans to drive across country to see her. Twenty-Eight hours I banged out in a few days and voila, like magic, I arrived at my destination. Although, I believe I began arriving before I even left. Seeing my family in person was certainly a key factor, but also coming back to being myself, which has been an extremely slow journey. But over the Christmas break I spent much time with a friend of mine who helped bring me back to life and get the blood flowing again. She and I were stuck with nothing to do and no one to be with over the holidays, and so we found refuge in being in the same boat. Because of this, I had quite the memorable Christmas and New Year, even amongst all the sickness and chaos. I moved out of the little one-room apartment and began to clear my head of all the dust.

I can honestly say I feel so much better, but at the same time, not everything has gone back to normal. Maybe it never will, I'm not exactly sure. But what is for sure is that I am more than ever interested in investing in relationships. We must help each other through these times or I believe we will wither away. For me I gained new relationships, but at the same time I began reflecting and appreciating all of the AMAZING friendships and family I already have. Sure they're spread all over the world, but they're there. I feel their love and support in my life on a daily basis. At some moments of complete weakness, someone's voice on the other line was what I needed to hear to keep going. And isn't it that simple sometimes? People just being THERE. We worry about saying the right things and supporting someone, but why not just be present with someone and I believe you can sort the rest out from there. I know I couldn't have survived without the people I have in my life.

As I say this, there are people in far worse conditions than myself, and they are truly withering away. Whether it's a sickness, a loneliness, an addiction, a broken family, or perhaps a lack of food and shelter. We are all silently screaming out in our own way. I just hope we can be more honest with each other for one, and I hope that we can start listening and helping one another. Quite frankly i'm tired of it, of being independent and being a part of a culture that is so disconnected. I don't know how much good our bodies are if we have no heartbeat. Everything slowly ceases to function and what's left is an empty shell. Please, if you're reading this, don't wither away and don't resort to the dark places. I'm here if you want to talk. No one deserves to deal with things completely on their own.

I hope we can open ourselves up more. In this way I believe the pain won't be so severe. The pain will still be there, and I don't believe there is a magical formula for removing that, in fact, it appears to play an important role. But at the same time, we need help, and what a great feeling to be able to lift one another up. To throw away all stereotypes and all the shit and all the superficial crap and the pride and everything else and look someone in the eye and say "I'm here". (I love you)

*please don't freak out over my depressing beginning detailing my difficulties. Things have become much better and i'm in a better place (sounds like I died haha). But seriously, i'm just grateful for all the support and I share this personal story only to provide hope for people and to be more honest about my life struggles.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Pain

My cousin and I decided on an impromptu trip to a farmer's market one morning. We made our way down the staircase, through the hall, and out to the front gate of our apartment building. Luckily, I had scored a park right in front of our apartment on the road. Not in a rush, and checking if street cleaning was happening, we chilled outside by the car for a moment. All of a sudden, we hear the loudest thud, followed by multiple shrieks. All the ruckus appeared to come from our apartment building. We heard it clear as day and quickly turned around to see what happened. A few seconds go by and it's unclear what happened, that is, until a woman comes out the front door and rushes to the side of the building where her son had fallen. The loud thud was the boy falling from the fire escape and onto the concrete landing by our building.

The mother and sister of the boy are a wreck. The mother rushes her son out front, through the gate, to where me and my cousin are standing in shock. She screams out to us in spanish. For that one second you freeze and don't know what to do. My cousin grabs her phone and frantically dials 911. Meanwhile, I rush to the boy and try to help the mother place him to the ground. Blood drips from his head. We place him down in the grass. I must stop the bleeding. I turn to grab my keys and rush back into the apartment, up the stairs, to my room. By chance I had a new roll of paper towels on my desk, which I grabbed and immediately ran back downstairs. Holding this little five year old's head to stop the bleeding was traumatic. The whole situation was traumatic. On the positive, the boy was still conscious, and the ambulance got to us in record time. They did a fantastic job taking care of everything at that point. But seeing a little boy, who barely takes up half the length of the stretcher, screaming out in pain, it's terrifying. I instantly think of my nieces and nephews, and to the future when I myself might have a son.

The medics asked us a few questions, then loaded the boy into the ambulance, and were on their way. Everything happened so fast. It's just segments, blips, little pieces that are collected. My cousin and I walk slowly back into our apartment, to our room, and we take a deep breath. We speak a few words, trying to process what happened, and reassure ourselves that everything will be alright for the little boy. All these little events led us to this big event, which impacted us and removed me from my own head.

Quite often we spend much of our time considering our own life, what is going on with us, and what we are going to do next. I fixate on things about myself and lose all track of the world around me. Just a couple days later from the one incident, I wake up to the smell of fire. A nearby four story apartment building had gone up in flames. Each event draws me a little more outside of myself, and into the reality of what's going on around me. So many important things I should be paying attention to but i'm not. Now I keep hearing sirens everywhere, realizing it could be another fire or another little boy or some other tragic event.

Walking through the plaza where I work, out of nowhere, i'm struck with a thought. What if someone was screaming out for help amongst all these people...would anyone help them? Do we ignore things if they don't make an impact on our own life? Do we care? Do I care? The life of convenience gets a wrench thrown in it when there's pain, and yet, I don't think we can live without it. Pain is a vital part of life. We ARE suffering, presently, and must help one another on a regular basis. Some scars are less visible than others, but everyone has them. This is a learning opportunity! Don't wish away the bad times. We must welcome in the knowledge that comes from heartache.

Only then do we get a grander scope of the world and how things work. This will inevitably lead us to pay more attention, to others, and to the world around us. The physical and metaphysical. We are all witnesses to one big event. I've spent so much of my time closing my eyes, blaming the world for everything, and looking out for myself. I've gotten so comfortable as a so called introvert, who can people watch all day, and safely stay at a distance in my own head. I didn't understand how bad it was until something bad happened in front of me, forcing me to open my eyes and care for somebody else. I pray for that little boy. He is such a special part of this world, and I hope he can experience it fully.

May we all experience the world fully, with pain and joy, laughing and crying, sickness and health. People are crying out all over the world every single day. May we listen. May I listen to my own words and not let them become conceded. I'm so bad at paying attention and focusing, but this at least feels like a small step in the right direction.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Curtain Call


Enter the haze. Welcome in the characters that have been assigned roles, just like yourself. I know, it appears as if they've already memorized the script. They're in costume and without hesitation follow each cue from the stage manager. You, meanwhile, fumble around with a couple props and can't remember your placement let alone your lines. It's a disaster. You survive another rehearsal, which you consider a major achievement, but it's as if the show never ends. Your memory recounts a curtain opening, but never one closing. This is where we stand.

Her words speak of past scenes that you missed, while you wandered off for a smoke break. An enlightening smoke break which lasted three years. Nevertheless, you acknowledge what has been missed in more ways than one. This bout of improv felt liberating and yet the play continued on, in the background, as a quiet whisper. Experiences in life leave you either turning the volume up or down, or placing everything on mute depending on your circumstances. Our emotions are changing from scene to scene. Too much hope and joy can be placed on the end result, which leads to misguided actions. Don't fool yourself in thinking every single action is misguided though, quite the contrary. It's the lines we forget that will forever be engrained in our minds, but guess what, the actor right next to you screwed up his lines too. This is an ensemble cast in case you forgot.

What if the curtain close was all just a nasty ploy to keep us distracted from holding hands and bowing no matter what. If you listen close you might just hear the subtlest of applause, coming all the way from the cheap seats, landing deep within your soul. You did it. You showed up. Another dress rehearsal and the actors and actresses await that spark, that thrill. Maybe you thought John Lennon was a dreamer, but he just took a step onto the stage, where he felt alive. That opportunity is offered to all of us. The morningtime reminds me of a purpose instilled beyond anything or anyone's control. Something uniting me with the rest of the cast. Maybe it's all in my head. I'm sure you're getting along just fine with your script, turning each page with ease. Although, your crooked smile says otherwise.

You seek out those that are down to Earth. The ones that take a step back and question their role in the performance. The introverts with a hipster lifestyle that has yet to catch on. If only you could have a scene of dialogue with one of them, you might not worry so much about your lines or your upcoming monologue. The window slowly closes as the morning sun disappears and makes way for the moon. You're too fixated on your cue that you'll never understand the reality of freedom within this drama, this comedy, this piece of art we hold up to criticize.

The show must go on. Please don't remain behind the scenes never to showcase your talent. Don't give up, no matter how hard it gets. Enter the haze and remember that morningtime feeling, before anxiety and fear awake, where you experience calm. Only when we join the cast will we find joy, and find our own part. They're not called supporting actors for nothing. This is where we stand....together.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

A Search For God


How on earth have we come to be in this black and white world? How have we lasted this long with a bitter taste in our mouth from all the modified crap served to us? From the government on down we are corrupt and we abuse and we know not what we say. This isn't a new concept or idea, it's the truth that never gets old. Sheer hypocrisy, a spitting of words to form a sentence that comes out as gibberish even to our own ears if we considered it. For a moment, take a moment, and think about the words that come out of your mouth on a daily basis. What are we doing with ourselves? Are we regurgitating words we've heard before? Well sure, we must go off something. The dictionary provides us with a helpful description allowing us to piece things together. What exactly is the meaning of all these words?

 Where are all these questions coming from you might ask? Fair question. At the same time, do you not also become overwhelmed with things or thoughts that have no apparent origin? Perhaps it has been stuck in our subconscious and we didn't realize it, or perhaps there's more players in this game of life than we previously considered. This, my friend, is where the search for God begins. How did I come to this conclusion? Not easily. In fact, it takes a deep sickness to put me in a position where i'm at a loss for words. It takes a skipping of my heartbeat to even consider something so crazy. The status quo comes right from the dictionary and all of our 'clever' catchphrases. Do we speak because we have something to say or to fill the void? Here, the void should not be seen as a morbid idea but one of hope and possibility. Only in this void, in this misstep, in this breath outside of an air-conditioned society do we have a chance at capturing something beautiful.

Beauty described as something that pleases the senses or mind aesthetically. It's my belief though, that words like this are not learned from an educational book, but instead from your loving mother. The flesh and blood of the matter is before us, holding our hand in this filthy mess. Your mother, your experiences, your thoughts; these things all make up this thing we know as life. There's so much more though. Be my guest trying to describe the word pain to a man lying on the sidewalk hiding from the sunlight, clutching his heart, wishing he could be filled with life. We shouldn't act like it's a simple definition, and we must not misunderstand this pain either. Look at a building being constructed and appreciate the endless hours of labor that went into creating something amazing. We too can be amazing if we appreciate THIS labor, this pain, here and now. Tears flow and lights are low as I write these words I desperately want to believe for myself.

Maybe that's what we say on a daily basis, words we aren't sure the validity of but really hope to be true. That's a bit of faith I suppose, a relying on something not clearly defined, a thought that arose from an unknown origin. God is that unknown origin. He is the void. He has already written the sentence that I keep trying to scribble out myself. I speak like I know God, but trust me, I have no idea. In fact, God almost feels like a new concept to me. But of course, like truth, it's nothing new and never gets old. My lonely bones are scraping against these four walls, these definitions, and these pre-packaged lives offered to us. I believe my words mean something. I believe your words mean something. I believe they always have, but sometimes I don't pay merit where merit is due. I don't appreciate the pain or the process of how we take one step to the next.

I must confess i'm an infant. My mother keeps teaching me new words, the most recent being 'prayer'. She said she has half of her city praying for me. And you know what, I believe her. I also believe that I need it. It's not just something nice to say to someone. These are words that go beyond filling the void, they help add color to this black and white world we're trying to survive in. Please hold my hand and don't let go, for I am in desperate need of help. I must confess this post has been written during an extended period of sickness and heavy prescription drug usage, but don't let that taint the message, the process. I ask again, how on earth have we come to be in this black and white world? How do we survive? We seek color and search for God.



*This attempt at making such a profound statement feels feeble, but like a river these words flow and I want them to be true. Take the words knowing they come from someone who knows very little, and someone that is just as lost as the next guy.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Honeymoon Phase

The thrill of new cities, new toys, new discoveries....it has its charm and then typically fades away like everything else. Only lasting but a moment in time, like the honeymoon, which of course is wonderful until you must inevitably return back home and go back to your normal life. Normal life, that can be tricky to look at in the eye, face to face. We must embrace it or check out. Don't think so morbidly as to think 'off' yourself. "Check out" could be defined in many different ways, and unfortunately the definition would involve the majority of the population today. Can I continue to face the day? To face this so called "normal life"? Or will I choose to check out?

Los Angeles is ever changing, under constant construction, with a diverse crowd and a widespread domain. It boasts a population of over 13 million people, which makes it the second largest city in the United States. The night life, the vendors, the music, the food, the celebrities, the sky scrapers, and so much more. It's dynamic, with each section of the city proudly displaying something completely different than the rest. The walk of fame and the chinese theater, just some of the many icons in hollywood. Don't forget about all the characters you meet on the street as well. The layout of downtown LA, however, is completely different, and full of interesting pockets. Each day I walk around downtown I find something different and new that I didn't know existed before. The markets, the art, the festivals, the business folk; they all make up the city. I'd like to say I always walk around with excitement and wonder of what I might stumble upon next, but honestly, it's all become fairly routine and mundane. This is what it's called to settle down I suppose.

This is what everyone dreams of, yes? Routine? They seem to thrive off it in fact. As long as you have your lunch at 12:30 on the dot, which consists of all the important food groups, except on fridays where you 'let yourself go' a bit. Make sure to finish work promptly to get your fitness exercise in and burn those calories! Nothing like a successful day in the office and then a bangin' workout session to boost morale. Later on maybe you'll hit the town with some friends, grab a drink during happy hour, and speak a little more openly than you usually do. This, you will do, for days and months and sometimes years on end.

Can I be honest. I just threw up. Have we lost all the wonder and mysticism of life? Are we so happy with routine that we will take it to our grave? Routine can be great and at the same time it can slowly destroy us if we let it take control. A man came up to me the other day asking for help, and then he apologized saying "i'm sorry, I know I wasn't a part of your plan today". All I could respond was saying in fact he was a part of my plans for the day, because we must expect the unexpected and embrace it. We must settle into certain living quarters sometimes, but that doesn't mean our hearts or minds should settle to an extent of restricting ourselves from true living and sharing and love. How will people eat if we don't feed them? How will there be change if we don't take a step? Life can continuously be thrilling if we let it. Don't compare yourself to anyone else, and don't make believe that mysticism is a fantasy in fiction novels. Mysticism can be reality, and it might even be possible to enjoy the wonder of a child once again.

I'm not good at settling into anything. I love the freedom of travel, what Glen Hansard calls gypsy privilege. It's great, because you experience so many different places and people, but it is only temporary. Isn't everything temporary? Yes and no. Some things and people will stick with me forever. And the only way that is possible if I make a connection with them that isn't easy. It's painful in fact. Places I miss. People I miss. Love that's been broken in a way. Perhaps there's a healthy way of settling. In fact, it took me getting very sick this past week to even consider this as a possibility. It sounds silly to say, but I finally sat down and didn't DO anything. I just layed on the floor being sick and feeling bad for myself, but through that I finally started taking care of myself. Which led me to appreciate being settled and also allowed me more opportunity to help others, now that I was becoming more healthy both physically and emotionally.

I hope you're able to settle in a healthy way, and realize that being on the move too much can be dangerous if you don't take care. So enjoy the things of life, take notes of your daily thoughts, find the wonder in the sunrise through the trees, and take care my friend. May you walk in peace and good health. Treat each new day as a wonderful surprise, and hold close to those you love.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

To Live in a World...

        I would like to live in a world without royalties, without domestic disputes, without the insistence on locking your car, without divided cities, without foreign atm fees, without small illuminated screens and without so many important things left unsaid. We're all in the same boat. That same boat, in fact, has a hole punctured in the bottom of it, and we're sinking slowly. Does anyone else feel this too? Sorrow comes for certain pains, while other times it's just plain depressing because it feels like we're steadily getting worse. Like someone with lung cancer told they must stop smoking, but we continue to smoke and say "i'll live my own life". I'd like to think i've turned a new leaf on some of my previous harsh judgements and accusations. Now i'm legitimately concerned.

Some of this may come across as naive, and I apologize, for I still consider myself a child when it comes to this world. I'm stretching my arms out and wiping my eyes to adjust to each new light. Sometimes I can't always adjust though. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable. I get frustrated. Just because a certain system is in operation does not mean that it is "working", and the best way to do something isn't always just echoing what we've done previously. We work from what we know, fair enough, but we know very little. We hold extremely tight to our possessions...why? It's as if we all paid a visit to someone at the beginning of our lives that told us to "hold tight to our belongings, it's a matter or life and death". People do steal things, it's true. I lock my car, I lock my apartment, and I feel right in doing it. I spoke with a musician the other night who explained to me how vitally important it is to trademark and copyright your music so that someone doesn't grab it and claim it as their own. He said he learned the hard way and he has learned a lot ever since making music and sharing it. Why can't we simply create? Why can't we simply live?

The ole mighty dollar plays its part. It shouldn't have the control that we give it, but here we are, and the boat keeps sinking. Some people spend most of their days just perusing the web and various databases, searching for information or products or currency they can take as their own. There are hackers, tech, nerds, and so on that use codes and tricks to obtain other people's info to steal their identity. We withhold information and/or fabricate details for our own benefit all the time. We are eager to get the most out of everything, for our own pure gain, and often times at the expense of someone else. It's more than a shame, it's sickening. I commend a person that has worked extremely hard to get to the point that they have, but still, that doesn't negate the fact that the system is lopsided and in need of correction. The next time someone asks you if you can spare some change, think of them asking you if you want to see the world change. If so, then you have something to spare, if not, then I guess there's no problem with holding on to what we feel we've earned.

Keys and locks and passwords and safes aren't going to save us. We have become so protective to the point that we lock ourselves up into a number of beliefs and stereotypes that don't promote world growth. We judge poor people for taking the money given to them and spending it on liquor or weed, but how is it any better for someone that has excess to spend money on the exact same thing? What because they have money to get healthy food from the organic store and get a little high on the side, that's not a problem because they're balanced? Is that it? How messed up is that? Seriously. We scrutinize the wrong people far too often. I believe we could all be a little better off if we were taken down a peg, if we had a little less, maybe forced to re-evaluate how we live. Part of the separation comes when we make strong distinctions or call things black and white.

Family life isn't great for everyone. Some people deal with a world of pain every day they come home, walk through the door, and put up with more than they ever should have to. Sometimes it turns violent, either physically or verbally, and sometimes it's just emotional pain. There's rarely a rhyme or reason to it, just what they've had to deal with their entire lives, and others don't think much of it unless it interrupts their evening dinner. We are separated by our homes, our cubicles, our apartments, our cars, our lines, our first class, our phones and so on. Each thing plays a part in us taking one more step back from the rest of the world, which we believe in doing so will help keep us a little safer and maybe help us to live more efficient lives. The definition of efficient is "achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense". What is it would you say might be at the expense of having computer kiosks or electronic cashiers? Well, not only does it take away a certain number of jobs from the general public, but it also helps us to avoid human interaction, and in doing so removes one of the most precious things we have. I'm not joking, human interaction and connection is one of the most beautiful gifts we've been given. It doesn't appear to be that devastating to anyone. I honestly can't say such a blanket statement, but this is coming from a lot of built up frustration.

I'm afraid and angry at our current state, and after seeing our 'strides' for the future, it doesn't look like it's getting much better. But I do believe in growth, and unity, and I believe that through each small action on our part we can make a difference. Things are not as they should be but what a beautiful thing it would be to live in a way we truly believe is our purpose. Live in a way where we are not closed off from the world, where we confront issues at hand, where we take part in society, where we find joy beyond possessions, where we acknowledge the world around us and the responsibility we have in it. I believe we have been given so much potential. I hope and pray we will use it for good, because things have gotten out of hand.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Born to be Wild


           Hello, I bet you've wondered where I've been, or perhaps you didn't notice I was gone...nevermind. A new life transition has taken place. A new order, a new way of doing things, and a very stark contrast to my previous living quarters. Previously, you see, I lived in a wofati, a hobbit hole of sorts, which resided not far from a stretch of shops and cafe's, the dwelling itself was nestled in a patch of woods. This was home for a year once I had returned from travels on the other side of the world in Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea. Life never felt the same afterwards. My year back home was filled with restlessness and questions. By the end of the year, I felt like I finally found a home with the Schroth family, but as is my nature, I hit the road and got on the move. This time, I remained in country, headed out to the west coast in my 'new' toyota corolla. This trip would prove to be another big step in my journey, and one that would be a turning point as far as my restlessness. I've found great freedom and joy on the road, never looking back since I left. Missing the friendships of course, but not questioning the trip, because i've already seen so much fruit from it. This instilled a confidence and a new stride in my walk.

Far from hunky dory all the time, no, there's been plenty of hiccups, but those come no matter where you are. It's the hippie lifestyle that people smirk at, that people talk about but with a voice that is distant, like they'll never get the chance to live so free. It's sad and strange in a way, because most people limit themselves so much in life, to an extent where the best they can muster is dreams. Dreams are great, but one of my favorite things is putting something into action, even (especially) when the outcome is unknown. I'm not saying i'm the best at it, no, I struggle to make things happen too. We spend too much time watching other people live or thinking about great styles of living for ourselves, that when it comes to actually making decisions, we freeze up like an old laptop that's on its last leg. Well, I love my old laptop that has lasted me all these years, but I certainly don't envy it.

It's the character of LA. It's the smell of Korean BBQ, contruction, weed, lattes, smog, and urine. The faces of the Filipino, the Mexican, the Hispanic, the Korean, the Native American, and even the occasional American. The ten minute regularity of the train coming to and from each station, always moving forward and taking people places. Everyone has somewhere to go, everyone has something to do, and the town operates day in and day out. People drink they're coffee, they're bubble milk tea, and eat a variety of foods to fill their stomachs and take on the day. They talk business, politics, social media, relationships, and weather just like people in another section of the world. We're all the same really, but each place has something to offer, it has character. I'm becoming more familiar with 'the character' of the world. Hardly an expert on worldy affairs or missiles or refugees, but i'm seeing things in person on a daily basis that I will never forget. Two young guys spitting raps to a homemade music track playing off one of their phones. Watching through the metal fire escape bars I see opportunity, and I see talent in everybody. The homeless population carrying all that baggage, searching for the smallest bit of shade while others of us soak up the incandescent lights. I feel hopeful and sick all at once.

This is not a bragging statement, simply truthful...I've come a long way. Through mountains, crossing rivers, highways, gravel roads, dessert, plains, and everything in between. I've experienced the midwest culture which I can't help but be completely intrigued by. Plain and simple, when you're out in the middle of nowhere and have got nothing to do, you turn to three things: Beer, guns, and church. Sometimes all of these things make up one afternoon. It's far beyond anything i've witnessed before, truly being out in open territory with nothing to do and nowhere to go. I could make judgements on their choices, but who's to say I wouldn't do the exact same thing if put in their position. Besides, the whole "judging people" thing completely contradicts my "we're all the same" statement. When on the road, you encounter many crossroads, and it's up to you to make a decision in that moment as to what direction you will head. My direction has been 'west!' for a while now, and i've settled in a new way that is hard to describe.

Maybe it's the people that were put in my way as I traveled. If I learned anything from my previous travels, it's that I don't want to plan another trip with just me, myself, and I. This time, my adventure took on a whole new complexion, and has involved others at each destination point. First off, my best friend Justin rode all the way out to Montana with me, which made the road trip more epic and memorable. He had to buy a ticket back to the east coast to make it back for his job starting up in the summer, but he had a perfect week-long window which we made the most of. I will never forget each state and the corresponding challenge given to us from friends back home. Old school mix cds, frequent dairy queen stops, and camping in the woods each night, now that's a road trip. Saying goodbye to Justin was sad, but now began the next chapter which I spent with my brother and his family. I had a niece and nephew i'd never met before for crying out loud. Taking a trip to see them was a no-brainer, and once again an experience I will never forget. I got to play with the kiddos. I got to know my brother's wife, Jenny, a lot better. And I got much closer with my brother, more than I could have imagined. It was pure bliss.

This is just a halfway point, or just a point, as if life fits into the timeline that we restrict it into. Did I mention the Montana scenery? Beautiful. Stunning. Amazing. Especially making your way southwest from Great Falls. The drive was hardly by myself as I had so much nature to accompany me along the way. Knocked out eighteen hours in a couple of days, sleeping in my car along the way, and arrived safely in North Hollywood where I would stay for the next week. This is where I met up with my next travel companions. My cousin and her roommate had flown in a few days earlier from Melbourne, Australia, and were ready to explore and live it up. I, of course, was looking to do the same, and we didn't have much trouble on that front. Ultimately, we made it up to San Francisco and all the way out to the Grand Canyon (which I had seen once before, but seriously, it's the grand canyon). We rocked up back in Los Angeles to drop my cousin's roommate off at the airport, and that's when reality set in. We didn't actually have a plan at this point. Or better put, I had only planned up to that point, and didn't really bother to go further. My cousin technically had a plan, as she was scheduled to do a semester at Stella Adler, the acting school in Hollywood. One week spent in a walmart in Burbank kept us on our feet financially and allowed us time to search both for living arrangements and jobs to afford the arrangements that we hadn't made yet.

           Despite the various so-called predicaments, one including my debit card being compromised and cancelled, it all just added to our adventure. Honestly, even in the moment, in the nights chilling in the parking lot, we experienced a joy because we had each other and we were writing our own stories. No longer living off of our mother's milk as it were, but working to get by and learning how to do with very little. It was, and remains to be, great. I'm lying on the floor of our new apartment, as we don't really have any furniture, and i'm enjoying the fan blowing in my direction on this hot summer night. In my sights are job opportunities, new locations to explore, and music venues. But it's hard to think far beyond this moment in time, what we call the present. Each day I wake up and meditate on how beautiful a new day can be if you're open to it. I'm open, i'm broken, and i'm expecting the unexpected. Welcome back.