Friday, January 11, 2013

RIP: Huell Howser

As someone who lived in California for so many years--and who happens to be here after the untimely passing of Huell Hauser--I am going by the axiom that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But still, I am so going to hell. Here is my take on Huell continuing his show on the "other side." RIP Huell...and thanks for giving me an excuse to work on my Tennessee accent all these years.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Moment of Self-Reflection: I Am a Modern-Day Living Protagonist

Moment of Self-Reflection: I Am a Modern-Day Living Protagonist

As they so often do, today’s moment of self-reflection came as the result of jetlag, a redeye, undersleeping, and those old-time classics: the shower and substances.

While showering yesterday afternoon during my first day in Los Angeles, I kept coming back to a difficult thought: This time yesterday I was in HawaiiParadise.  But no longer.  A little more than a year earlier I took the trip of a lifetime to Australia and New Zealand.  I’ve never wanted more in my entire life to simply just miss that plane back to the U.S. 

My vacations are precisely that: side trips into the avoidance of my real-world problems.  Some people get drunk, others stuff themselves with food, I grab a flight somewhere.  For two or three or five days or several weeks I get to live life like I have no real issues.  No debt.  No job.  No singlehood.  No permanent place to live.  Adventure makes me get to be the self-appointed leading man of my own existence.  I share with my “audience” my adventures and travels as if it’s part of a new book for them to plop down a few pennies at the supermarket checkout line.

I live my life like a fictional character might.  I have cast myself in an ongoing real-life adventure tale—one that I would want to both read and/or imagine myself vicariously being. 

Within the past week I got into a hula-dancing competitionat a luau (and came in second) and sang to sharks before getting in the cage.  Many of my friends are starting to slow down; I speed up.  Because it’s more fun that way.  Because then I have more stories to tell.  Because if I didn’t, then you wouldn’t have anyone to read about who still does interesting things that a man his age might otherwise do best to avoid.

It’s a difficult path to tread.  You must go out and find the adventures, the major and minor players, and the locations.  They will not find you.  If this strikes as solipsistic, then consider that I can only ever live through my own view and vantage points.  This is my story to live and mine to tell. 

My story will not be boring. 

Did Mt. Doom come to Frodo?  No, he had to walk there.

Did the road roll out its entreaties to Sal Paradise’s front porch?  Of course not—he had to go “on the road” to find what he was looking for.

Just as I will have to go searching for the journeys.  The adventures will not come to me.  

I would rather be a poor adventurer than a stable homebody. 

The reason I live as I do—and this was the big revelation—is because I choose adventure over stability.  I could be working three jobs right now to ensure that I have enough money to eventually get my own place.  And what’s there really to do at home anyway? 

This has almost certainly been a partial cause of my inability to maintain—or, nay even get into—a solid relationship.  Why I seem to hop from girl to girl and have done so more or less constantly for four years since I was in my (very first) adult relationship.  (Maybe they’re not all crazy after all, but I’ve found that the exact means of driving them away is to confess even some small modicum of emotional connection.)  Or why I can’t keep a job for more than a few months.  Or have an address that I don’t vacate and turnover an average of three times a year. 

It’s almost certainly why I don’t wish to have children. 

If I’m home and stable, I have nothing to do but wish I were “out there.”  If I’m adventuring, I continue to be poor...but at least I see the world, even through a poor man’s eyes rather than see it wearing diamond-spectacles and staring at high-priced picture books from Wal-Mart that might make a good coffee table item for dad.

And I share it with, my friends, my colleagues, my readers!  I shall continue to endeavor to break through to writing for people who do not know who I am, but in the meantime, it is you, my readers, who believe in me and encourage me to continue writing for another day. 

My adventures inspire my writing.  My writing is inspired by outstanding writers who came before me (currently reading the incredibly Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut).  Meeting people inspires characters both real and imaginary (sometimes both at once!).  This I distill—experience, people, places—and transmute them into a digestible and entertaining vessel for your consumption. 

Allow me, ladies and gentlemen, to be your vessel.