You Don’t Know the Ending To Your Story

I met my wife Jacqueline 10 years ago on the L train. I gave her a long look, thinking she was a girl I had gone on a date with recently (Jacq still doesn’t believe me, but I swear that’s what happened). My too-long gaze compelled her to ask what I was looking at.

I replied that I thought she looked like someone I knew (whose name is Jen and lives in SF now…I swear), but that she couldn’t be Jen because we were on the L train and Jen lived in Park Slope. Jacqueline remarked on my lack of sound reasoning (the first, but far from last time); she said people show up in unlikely places all the time. She told me how she ran into someone she went to school with in upstate New York while visiting Masada in Israel. People show up in the unlikeliest of places. She was right (the first, but far from last time).

We proceeded to have a long conversation. I remember little about it other than being totally smitten. Here was a girl who was intelligent, spiritually centered, well-traveled and smoking hot with pale blue eyes, paler skin and an awesome body. She was the whole package.

We got off at the Lorimer stop–I lived around there and she was transferring to the G train. With such a powerful connection, I didn’t hesitate asking for her phone number. She gave me her email address. I was pretty certain I had met my wife–the lack of phone number was of little consequence.

Let me backtrack some. At the time, I was relatively fresh to the city. I slept in a windowless bedroom in an illegal share with 4 others in Williamsburg–our heroin addicted, 12-hour-a-day-Doom-playing roommate’s cat had recently given us all flees. I worked as a cater waiter, while I wanly pursued affirmation through acting and modeling. And I was involved in an every-other-month-breakup relationship with a woman I’ll call Mary. She was 10 years my senior, a career stripper for 12 years and had a hyperactive adolescent son for whom I became a proxy father.

Thing were going pretty swell.

Meeting Jacqueline made me certain my fortune would soon turn. Mary and I were technically broken up. If I went out with Jacqueline, it wouldn’t be cheating. We would fall in love, I wouldn’t end up hooking back up with Mary. With the backing of a good woman, I’d get my shit together. The future looked bright.

What was most significant about meeting Jacqueline was this: I didn’t believe it was possible that a woman could hit me on all levels–mentally, physically, spiritually. The reason I knew I didn’t believe this was because I had settled for someone so far from that mark. Mary was a good (and hot) woman, but we had almost nothing in common. Then as now, my spiritual life was very important to me, meditating, visiting ashrams and the like. Mary had no particular spiritual bent. I had traveled the world for several years; Mary had never obtained or used a passport. Let me be clear there was nothing wrong with her, just something wrong with us.

Jacqueline was a walking contradiction to the belief that there was no one out there for me.

I wrote her an impossible-to-ignore invitation to our future with proper diction, punctuation and compete sentences (things that have long vanished from my emails). I entered her Yahoo address and pressed send to wait for my destiny.

Nothing.

Second email. Nothing.

Shit.

I was crushed. Her lack of response created a new possibility: That there are women out there who have it all, but they won’t give me the time of day.

[More soon]

Run! No One’s Stopping You

As my regular readers know, a little over a year ago, I was living in an unheated apartment, concluding my second, insanely frigid winter there. For “employment”, I was languorously managing a couple unpaid enterprises, subsisting on the last bit of dough from a once-plentiful savings account.

My life wasn’t bad in my Brooklyn igloo. I had friends, an amazing girlfriend, enviable relationships with my family, great health. But there were things that seemed like they would never change, and I had the premonition that those things would eventually thwart the natural progression of the other stuff–that not making money and flushing my toilet with collected rainwater would–to a prospective wife, for example–soon transition from quirky to pathetic.

A little over a year later, I have a wife, steady, rewarding employment, a replenished savings account, heat and–check this out–a child on the way! Right?

Things change. 

Here’s the bitch of it all: I was responsible for these changes. Of course, I had amazing collaborators. I may even have had divine intervention. But it’s my experience that divinity needs permission to work its magic. I gave it.

I say none of this to boast. I actually don’t want to take responsibility for any of it. As long as life is more accident than creation–something that happens to me–I’m off the hook. I can stay inert and afraid of the new things that seem like they’ll never change.

Personal responsibility is the greatest gift and burden one can possess. It shows us that we can transcend any situation. It also shows us that all our prisons–however real they seem–are self-made.

Today, consider:

  1. What if you were responsible for your life? You don’t have to believe it. Just consider.
  2. What story would you have to give up if this were true? That your parents, a shit economy, past relationships, poor health, etc. are preventing you from changing.
  3. What would be possible if you were responsible for your life? What unchanging things might you be able to change?
  4. Take one of those unchanging things and take an action to change it (preferably right now).  

Run Like an Antelope (Out of Control)

I apologize from the outset to readers who are not–or were not–Phish fans. This post might be hard to comprehend. It’s mostly directed at people who, at some point in time in their lives, let Phish into their hearts; who know what it feels like to have nothing outside of Phish matter.

For me, this era lasted from 1993-1997, with its climax occurring during the Red Rocks shows in the summer of 1994.

For the show’s first night, I convinced my buddy Aaron to make the drive down to Morrison. We got a little buzzed on tequila and a couple bowls, and entered the largely empty amphitheater. The concert was mostly songs from their just-released album “Hoist”–an album that marked a steady transition into more conventional music-making. The night was great, but it wasn’t life-altering. That would be the duty of the second night.

The second show was an all day affair. I hooked up with a bunch of heads to tailgate. We had a keg of beer in the parking lot, then ate a bunch of liberty cap mushrooms shortly before the show.

It’s impossible to convey what happened that night. The band was in their experimental-tripped-out glory. The expanse of sky overhanging the prairies visible from the Red Rocks’ bleachers was punctuated by isolated thunderstorms; bolts of lightening seemed to crack on queue with Trey’s guitar. When “Tela” was played, huge gusts blew from beyond the mountains.

A bathroom stop turned into an epic journey in serendipity. In my incapacity, I lost my party and wandered into the upper seats, which were nearly vacant. A shirtless, dreadlocked dude was dancing his ass off with his old woman. Sensing my aimlessness, he said, “Welcome to our lair. Have some of our nectar.” He handed me a jug of fresh pulped strawberry nectar. I have never tasted anything as delicious before or since.

It was a time when anything seemed possible. When oneness with creation was a realistic goal. When 18 minute jams seemed too short. When I knew what they meant when they instructed “Run Like an Antelope, Out of Control.”

Subsequent “adult” experiences have dampened some of my wonder. I bottomed out on drugs and alcohol, oneness was not achieved in relationships, nothing seemed nearly fast enough for me, etc. But I don’t want to dismiss this era as meaningless. While I don’t eat mushrooms or dose anymore (or listen to Phish for that matter), I may have been closer to the truth then than I am now.

For Phishheads and non-Phishheads alike, consider:

  1. What beliefs have you discarded, believing them the products of youthful naivete? 
  2. What ‘adult’ experiences led you to dismiss these beliefs?
  3. Ask yourself: are the adult beliefs any more valid than the youthful ones? Remember, your experience is not an indication of the truth.
  4. Choose one of those beliefs to incorporate into your day.
  5. Take an action around that belief. 
  6. Run like an antelope, out of control.

 

 

Stop Waiting for Things to Get Better

My total income last year could purchase a late-90’s Chrysler Sebring convertible.  I tempered this lamentable situation with the certainty that financial providence was right around the corner.  My well-thought-out plan was that Oprah would read my blog and say, “holy shit, how did the world ever exist without David’s prophetic prose?  Get him a book deal and TV show stat.”  Money problem solved.

Perhaps Ms. Winfrey has read my blog and is conferring with her people about how to present her generous support.  Or perhaps I am completely deluded.

Most of us have difficulty owning the results in our lives.  We see the unhealthy relationships, crappy jobs and flabby bodies, and recognize they’re problematic.  But we are certain that something is going to change real soon (read:  Oprah’s intervention).  That dude/chick from OK Cupid with the picture of him/her with his/her dog is going to be our soulmate.  We’re going to leave our job and start an organic cupcake shop.  We are going to get a PX90 Workout System, cut out carbs and be totally lean and ripped by summer.

But what happens?  The date was annoying and couldn’t stop talking about his/her dog.  We made elaborate business plans that collect dust because things got so busy at our jobs.  PX90 and no-carbs are trumped by “Breaking Bad” episodes and organic cupcakes.

The reasons we don’t change are:

  1. We are deluded about who we are and where we are at.  We have distorted views of ourselves and the facts of our lives.  It’s impossible to map a journey before setting one’s bearings.
  2. We believe the problem is out there—that it’s about finding the right person, the right business opportunity, the right workout system and diet, the right whatever. But the problem is never out there, later.  It’s right here, now, and it’s us.  And unless we change now, nothing else will.

My girlfriend and I have been talking about our future—cohabitation, procreation, other -tions.  These are real world plans; ones that require more than dreams for realizing.  You can’t buy diapers with delusion.

Our future will not happen if I wait for Oprah to call.  Our future, if we get this far, will feature two babies, one baby-sized and another 6’3”/170 pounds.

If I want a future where I might be able to take care of someone other than myself, I had to get real.

The first thing I recognized is that I need paid work.  I’ve recognized this for a while , but recognizing and doing are vastly different things.  Until I have a job, my realization is an abstraction—devoid of meaning or reality.

Based on some coaching I received, I was asked, “What is missing, the presence of which would make a difference in this situation?”

What was missing for me was humility.  I wasn’t humble enough to say that I needed and wanted work; I wasn’t humble enough to say I didn’t know what kind of work I wanted; I wasn’t humble enough to say that my resume is pretty shitty for most jobs.

I also saw boldness was missing.  Boldness meant being willing to do whatever was necessary to get a job. It’s a tough market.  I suspect few would say, “Let’s hire that timid guy.  He’s really going to be an asset.”

Out of the “what’s missing,” I generated actions that corresponded with them.  What I came up with was a letter sent to around 100 contacts.  Here it is:

Subject:  Request for Help

Dear Friends,

A few years ago, I had an unexpected, middle-of-the-night move (aka breakup).  At that moment, I needed my friends’ help more than ever, so I spammed you, requesting shelter.  You answered that request with love and generosity, landing me a great place within 12 hours of making it.  Few things are as sublime as genuine dependence.  Having no shame in asking for what you need.

Today, I find myself at a similar crossroads.

I need and want work.  I’ve been plugging along with Lucid [an event I produce] and my blog for a while now, and will continue to do so.  But frankly, I don’t make enough money to support myself, much less the family that’s in my future.  I’m also eager to show up someplace where it’s more than me making the breaks–where I can contribute to a large team.

So I’m making a request:  If any of you have ideas or leads for jobs, I want to hear them.

What I’m looking for:  I’m open.  I see my chief competencies as communication (written and spoken) and relationship forging and maintaining.  I do event stuff obviously, but my main joy is working with people.  I believe these qualities would lend themselves to writing, sales, marketing, HR, PR or advertising positions.

Just as important as what I will do is where.  I want to be in a dynamic, progressive, conscious/non-evil environment (i.e. no big pharma).  I’m open to big and small organizations alike–from Google to start-ups. Regular work is preferred to freelance, though I’m open to the latter.  Some areas I’ve been considering are tech, marketing/branding firms/shops, food (e.g. Whole Foods), conferences/events and media; but again, I’m open to suggestions.

My corporate resume is thin, but I’m not afraid to start at the beginning.  I’m happy to prove myself (a well-placed character reference is always appreciated if you’re inclined to do so).

I will reach out to you personally, but I want to first cast a wide net.  If you have any suggestions or are willing to lend your insights, please let me know.  I look forward to spam-free communication meeting.

Until then, with great appreciation,

David

The response was amazing.  Within five days, I am contemplating two very attractive job possibilities, not to mention several others.  But none of this would have happened if I had continued to wait for something outside myself to remedy the situation or delude myself to think that things were going to get better.  Who I was being—unrealistic, complacent, timid—would not propel me to the next level.  I had to be something else if I wanted something else.

With this in mind, here are some things to try out:

  1. Name one area of your life you are hoping will get better.
  2. Get honest about what will most likely happen in that area. For example, if you’ve been underemployed your whole adult life, you will probably continue to be so for the foreseeable future.  It’s not guaranteed, but it’s likely.
  3. What is missing, the presence of which would make a difference in this situation? For me, it was humility and boldness.  Other examples include trusting, open, honest, generous, playful, etc.
  4. Name an action that corresponds with the “what’s missing.” For example, my email represented both humility and boldness.
  5. Take that action now. Like, really.

[I’m still looking for dating and relationship questions.  Please email them to me df at davidfriedlander dot com.  All correspondences are confidential.  Thanks.]

Seeing What is Possible, Dealing with Reality

Emily Dickinson: Possibility/Bedroom Dweller.

Emily Dickinson wrote the famous verse, “I dwell in possibility.”  Unlike the famous poetess, many of us dwell in limitation, using the past as our main referent for the future—i.e. because we’ve have never done it in the past, it will not happen in the future.

Possibility on the other hand allows for unprecedented realities.  Something that has never happened can happen simply because it’s possible.  We might not know how it will happen, but when we acknowledge the possibility, we are more likely to take the action corresponding to realizing that possibility.

For example, if we think being physically fit is impossible, based on the fact we’ve been unhealthy our whole lives, we won’t do the things necessary to be fit.  Conversely, if we believe being fit is possible, even if we don’t know how, we can figure out ways to realize that objective.

There is a dark-side of possibility however.  It’s what I call “the narcosis of possibility.” The easiest place to see this is at 12:15AM after a few vodka-sodas.  You invent a possibility, like starting a business.  You can’t wait to start making it happen.  The dude on the next bar-stool is going to design your logo.  Any-fucking-thing is possible!

You wake up the next day with a vague recollection of what was so great about your idea.  You try to muster the enthusiasm of the night before but are preoccupied by thoughts of coffee, eggs and Law and Order reruns.  You think of your lack of business skill, money, etc.  Fuck it.  It wasn’t that good an idea anyway.  Reality trumps drunken possibility once again.

This phenomenon is not limited to buzzed brainstorming.  Many sober minds have conjured great ideas that do not withstand reality.  We get psyched about a project, relationship, fitness plan, etc., but we fail to deal with things as they are in reality.  We don’t acknowledge our level of business training, our emotional maturity (or lack thereof), our state of health, etc.  Instead of developing these things, we become overwhelmed by the gap between possibility and reality, often doing nothing.  There are others who use willpower and force to bridge that gap—these people can make things happen, but generally at the expense of their health and happiness.

Sometimes we can’t admit that just because something is possible, it doesn’t mean we should do it.

Other times we create a possibility aware of the realities we’re dealing with.  It’s something we’ve considered well.  We have an idea and plan to carry it out.  But once the plan is in motion, we don’t ask ourselves often enough, “Is this working?”

Lest I be too abstract, I’m writing about myself.  I started this blog 6 months ago based on the possibility of writing for a living.  This idea was pure, uncut possibility.  According to the past, I had no reason to believe I would make it happen.

I love the writing part and the feedback I’m recieving.  I love processing my life and helping others process theirs.  But I haven’t been dealing with a couple nagging realities:  I don’t love not making money or working in isolation.  I’ve been trying to will these things out of my reality, but I can’t seem to do it.

Sure, it’s entirely possible I can make money if I refine my plan. I could find more ways to engage people.  I actively do both these things.

But the truth is I’m not dealing with reality.  I want to be better at working alone.  I want to be more of a self-starter.  I want to be one of these people—who seem so numerous on the internet—who through pluck and Twitter, amass great followers and fortunes.  But in reality I am not these things—at least not right now.

I have to assess where I’m at, based not on the narcotic effect of possibility, but on the sober truth of reality.  From there, I can create a new possibility.

The new possibility I’ve created is to continue to develop my writing, but with more human contact and steadier income.  There’s an ancient tradition I am going to employ to remedy this situation.  It’s called a job.

Maybe if Emily Dickinson took a similar approach, she would have left her bedroom.

It’s important to note that deviating from an original possibility is not killing it.  In fact, sticking to the original plan would kill it.  My new possibility affords me self-expression through writing, supported by the stability and relationship building of a job.

Here are some things to consider for yourself:

  1. What possibility in your life is being thwarted by reality? In other words, name a dream—one you may or may not be taking action on.  Within that dream, what realities are compromising your ability to take action or enjoy acting?  For example, you want to date, but don’t do so because you have trouble being open with potential partners.
  2. What new possibility could you create if you dealt with reality as it presently exists? Using the above example, based on your lack of skill, you could create the new possibility of being supported, getting a dating coach or asking someone who is romantically fulfilled to find out what he or she does.
  3. Take one action that based on this new possibility right now.

What Do You Want?

Tell me what you want, what you really, really want.

I had coffee with a new friend the other day.  He asked me the dreaded question—the same question I ask when I encounter someone who is experiencing confusion, powerlessness or frustration with his life.  Answering this question can threaten the delicate balance of the answerer’s emotional and physical ecosystem.  The question is, “What do you want?”

I was flummoxed.  I thought I knew, but things had changed since the last time I wrote out what I wanted.  You see, every now and again I list out what I want for my life.  I get as detailed as possible, creating a material and emotional blueprint for my life.  The more detailed I get, the more likely I am to move in specific directions and ask specific questions.  Here are some examples of things I currently want:

  • To develop my writing such that it supports me and a family materially and spiritually in abundance
  • To start a family by the end of 2012
  • To live each day joyfully and filled with love

My wants exist as possibilities.  They are often unprecedented and have little relation to my past experiences.  The trouble is if my past dictated what I want now, I would content myself with a heated home and a girlfriend who doesn’t shoot heroin.  Not a particularly inviting future.

The most unsettling part of the question is what stating my desires entails.  If I want this, then what do I have to do?  Who do I need to be?  What if the actions I need to take and the person I need to be are different than what I’m doing and how I’m being?

Well they are different.  How do I know?  Because my current actions and states perfectly ally to produce what—and only what—I currently have.  In other words, I do what I do and I am what I am and that gives me exactly what I have.  These actions and behaviors are manifestations of unconscious desires (looking good, comfort, etc.), which are fine, but not necessarily gratifying in the long run.

If I want things other than what I have now, I need to supplant my old actions and ways of being for new ones.  For example, in order to make my living off of writing, I need to be bold, disciplined, organized, etc.  These new actions and states might not jive with last night’s engorgement on grass-fed beef and sweet potatoes while watching Deadwood on DVD.

I answered my friend’s question as best I could.  I’m not totally clueless as to what I want.  But I also saw the need for refining what I want.  It’s easier to chart a course with a map.

With these thoughts in mind, here are some exercises I’m incorporating into my life and suggest you do too:

  1. What do you want? Get as detailed as possible—emotional state, health, profession, relationships, living environment, etc.  These desires should be authentic—i.e. they are your desires, not ones shaped by the past or someone else’s conceptions; do your best to keep what your parents’ or a multinational corporation’s desires for you out of your answers.  Feel free to co-create with the people in your life; for example, make sure what you want aligns with what your wife or business partner wants.  Don’t butt desires.  Write them down and keep them somewhere you can see.  Be willing to amend if you’re wrong about what you want.
  2. Who do you need to be to get what you want? This step is aligning yourself emotionally with your desires.  For example, if you want to be a professional singer, but you’re too timid to audition, you will need to be courageous.
  3. What do you need to do to get what you want? Once you believe that what you want is possible, you will have to take certain steps—go to that audition, write that novel, quit that job, etc.
  4. Every morning, ask yourself “what do I need to do and who do I need to be to get what I want?” Write out your answers and let them inform how you conduct yourself in the world.  See what happens.

 

Guido the Great

The big sexy car that almost killed me.

I was on my cell the other day, pacing down a Cobble Hill, Brooklyn side-street on a lovely Tuesday afternoon.  As I meandered from one side of the street to the other, I heard a V8 engine growl.  A brand-new, black BMW 7-series was barreling straight toward me.

While physics has other ideas, I felt like I could crush this wannabe speed-racer and teach him a lesson about safe driving.  He approached doing about 50 mph.  I stayed in the street and stuck my foot out like I was going to kick his car, asserting my pedestrian power.

Kicking cars is a recurrent act that has resulted in one outright assault and several near-misses.  In truth, I am not that tough.  However my aversion to combat is often overshadowed by my righteousness.

Anyway, seconds after my air-kick, the dude (and you know it’s a dude), screeches to halt, backs up, stops the car, and starts shouting at me out of his window.  I hope he doesn’t have a gun.

“You do not kick my fucking car, motherfucker,” followed by additional, threatening oration that more or less built on this initial thesis.

“You were doing 70 mph and could have hit me,” I replied.

He let off a few more expletives and started to drive away.  I took out a pen and paper to write down his license plate number.  He saw this and didn’t like it.  He stopped again, got out of the car, and got in my face.

“You taking down my license motherfucker?”

“Yes, I am.”

“You do not want to fuck with me.”  This comment had more than a whiff of truth.  Here was a guy, one I imagined to be of Italian-American ancestry, who had the diction of a high school dropout yet was driving an $80K car and outfitted with the accoutrement suggesting he bought the car (Persol glasses, Rolex, well-fitting jeans).  I imagined his last name to be Gotti or Gambino.

“You do not want to fuck with me,” he reiterated.  “What you jus’ move to this neighborhood, motherfucker?  I was born and raised here motherfucker.  Get the fuck outta here.”

While I hadn’t ‘just’ moved here, I was indeed relatively new to the neighborhood, and I did not think this was a very nice welcome from a local.  And while I believed he was born and raised here, I wondered why he had a Pennsylvania plate (I assumed because insurance is a lot cheaper in PA.  Smart move).  I decided to table that question.

He got right in my face.  “You do not want to fuck with me. You do not want trouble.”

The Oscar for best portrayal of a tough-guy goes to David Friedlander.  As he stood inches away, I didn’t move.  I had a relaxed stance, with my chest out.  I didn’t move my arms.  My unblinking eyes locked on his.

We were both lucky.  I was in a very clear state that day.  Though I didn’t say it, he was not going to fuck with me.  I wasn’t going to let him put me in a bad mood. Continue reading “Guido the Great”

Man-Child Manifesto

About 7 years ago, I was training to be a personal fitness trainer.  My gym assigned prospective trainers like me to “floor shifts.”  If you belong to a gym you see floor-shifters shifting around the gym floor.  They are supposed to help out, get towels and schmooze with customers.  These workers are paid peanuts, have little to do during their shifts and usually open the gym at ungodly hours until they get their training certificates and can take on clients.  The crappy pay, work and hours is meant to separate the wheat from the chaff—the people who really want to train and people who just want a job.  I was chaff.

I had good reasons why I quit the gym:  I made much more money at my other job (I did); their training method was stupid (it kind of was); gyms promote superficial fitness, not health (they do).  But another reason for quitting revealed itself.  It didn’t matter what I was doing.  I always found reasons why something sucked.  Personal training, acting, modeling, cooking, school, girlfriends, friends—I quit all of them for good reasons.  It wasn’t an episodic issue, it was a systemic one.  I was a quitter.

I realized that I wanted to be more than a quitter and a dabbler.  After the gym episode, I started a program of recovery from quitting, carried out in a pretty straightforward way:  I stopped quitting things and finished many things I had started (I got geeked out on transformational workshops for a while too).

But that recovery took time.  It took a while before the old evidence was displaced by the new.  I had to show up to relationships, jobs and other commitments for a while before I was able to fully experience myself as a committed person.  With any major change, there is a period between letting go of what you don’t want and creating what you do.  Which brings me to the present.

Most of my “adult” life has been spent primarily living for myself.  Sure, I’ve shown up and committed to relationships and institutions, but I always made sure I had enough emotional or physical distance that our needs weren’t completely intertwined.  I wasn’t going to let anyone or anything drag me down with them.

I’ve had great times living this way.  I’ve been mobile and flexible.  I’ve slept well and gotten plenty of exercise because no one impinges on my schedule.  Since I have minimal material needs, I haven’t needed to make much money or work too hard.  I’ve been able to change my life instantly without all that messy explaining one must do in close relationships.  For example, I can go vegan overnight because no one else is eating from my fridge.

But something happened 9 months ago.  I met a girl.  I like the girl.  The girl wants a family.  In order to be with her for a while, I had to be on board. Continue reading “Man-Child Manifesto”

A Funny Thing Occurred to Me While Tripping on Acid

Drugs were an unspeakable evil as a child growing up in the 80’s.  The “Just Say No” campaign bludgeoned me with fear.  Many of my mom’s friends experienced coke-fueled implosions.  Shane fell off the bridge and got brain damage on Degrassi High.

But my adolescence was an unspeakable evil too.  Without drugs, I was like a cold Chihuahua, thin, shivering, plaintive eyes, tail between my legs.  I walked around certain that no one liked me, unpopular with both sexes.  I offered guys no competition.  I offered women no confidence.  Most of my nights in high school were spent alone watching reruns of Quantum Leap.

Shortly after moving to Boulder, Colorado when I was 16, I was introduced to marijuana.  I was working at a bike shop.  One night after we closed, “Shorty,” a buzz-cut, army-fatigue-wearing, 6’5” Wisconsan, who grew skunk-smelling, crystal laden kind-bud (I’m not sure if they still call it that) lit up a bowl.

I took one puff of Shorty’s weed and was sent into paroxysms of coughing.  When the coughing subsided, I spent the rest of the night in the bike-storage room hallucinating that my parents were at the front of the shop. It was not an auspicious start.

Undaunted, I worked past this initial foreboding experience.  No feelings of near-death and extreme terror were going to deter me from squashing my depression.  Throughout that summer, I learned to love marijuana.  When I started my high school, that love blossomed.

Nancy Reagan lied.  Drugs were great. I spent the next few years continuously high. Continue reading “A Funny Thing Occurred to Me While Tripping on Acid”

Transform Your Life for $550 (or not)

I don't know what this image has to do with this post, but I thought it was cool. Via sfist.com

In the fall of 2003 I was pretty lost.  I had just been spit on by my recent ex-girlfriend—an emotionally unstable, 10-year-my-senior, ex-stripper with an adolescent child—having finally broken up with her after 5 unsuccessful tries.  I was calling myself an actor and model, but would go on a casting or audition once a month at best.  I was trying personal training to make money, but that didn’t seem to be going anywhere either; I hated the work environment and didn’t feel like I was helping anyone get fit.  Everything I did seemed to turn to shit.

My main pastimes at this point were walking around Chinatown looking for interesting food and hanging out on the steps of Union Square.  I was doing the latter activity one day when an acquaintance named Rob walked by.  Rob was a perpetually tan, shaved-head Texan who seemed to dress exclusively in clothes from Barney’s Co-op—clothes that were meant to look downtown cool, but you knew cost $1200.  Though I thought his taste in clothes garish, I liked Rob.  He had a cool, slow southern demeanor.  He always seemed to be doing things like Muay Thai boxing and feeding starving children in Africa.  I thought, “Maybe Rob knows what I should do with my life.”

I asked Rob and he said I needed to go to Dallas.  I’d never been there, so I listened on.  He said that all of the results in his life came out of workshops run by an organization called Millennium 3 Education.  He claimed the workshops would get me in touch with the roadblocks in my life, of which I had many.  I don’t recall him telling me anything specific about what would happen in the workshop other than an assurance that it would change my life.  I said I’d think about it. Continue reading “Transform Your Life for $550 (or not)”