“You need to start listening to other people more” part1

A phone call this afternoon bid the remark in the title of this posting.  As a person who works with communities and does this as a job, I found it interesting that someone would even say something like that.  And then you remember how diametrically opposite some of our personal lives are in comparison to our professional lives.  How many of us fight with that inner struggle of this form of multiple personality disorder?

Analyzing things further: I laughed at the statement.  Because, frankly, it was pretty accurate.  In the recent past I have not listened to my friends in their warnings about Joshie Bear.  People warned me back in the beginning stages that he was a bad idea.  Back in November when he started on… and in December when he was gone for the month visiting family (read: cheating on me with another woman but none of us knew that until recently) or in…

Well you get the idea.

I look back even further.  To my parents.  To my rebellious punk rock days and what not.  About how the fashion and the ideas have continued to flow even after all of that… not completely changed but… evolved as I stepped away from that lifestyle and created another and yet another.

I know that in the past I might have essentially had a similar conversation with my parents.. well… if I had stayed in Illinois and things were a wee bit different but you get the gist of it-

Stevo: Wait, time out. I just wanted to ask real quick, if I can. You believe in rebellion, freedom and love, right?

Mom: Absolutely, yes.

Dad: Rebellion, freedom, love.

Stevo: You two are divorced. So love failed. Two: Mom, your a New Ager, clinging to every scrap of Eastern religion that may justify why the above said love failed. Three: Dad, you’re a slick, corporate, preppy-ass lawyer. I don’t really have to say anything else about you do I dad? Four: You move from New York City, the Mecca and hub of the cultural world to Utah! Nowhere! To change nothing! More to perpetuate this cycle of greed, fascism and triviality. Your movement of the people, by and for the people got you… nothing! You just hide behind some lost sense of drugs, sex and rock and roll. Ooooh, Kumbaya! I am the future! I am the future of this great nation which you, father, so arrogantly saved this world for. Look, I have my own agenda. Harvard, out. University of Utah, in. I’m gonna get a 4.0 in damage. I love you guys! Don’t get me wrong, it’s all about this. But for the first time in my life, I’m 18 and I can say “FUUUUUCK YOU!”

Dad: Steven, I didn’t sell out son. I bought in. Keep that in mind. That kid’s gonna make a hell of a lawyer, huh?

Mom: Yeah, he takes after his father. He’s a son of a bitch.

Dad: Well fuck you dear.

But now, years later (I mean that movie is from 1998 for chrissakes) even after that whole speech and ultimate conclusion of one of my favorite movies of my teenage years, perhaps the message and culmination was telling me more than I knew.  More that…

For the longest time my family and friends have been saying so many things about my potential career path.  Marketing, although that is where my home has been and continues to be when clients surge (btw: Muse for Hire currently- comment here to connect about your projects) it wasn’t the two places I’ve been told I should essentially be since birth: writing and law.

I have stopped my world from evolving with my previous choices in lesser men.  I’m not blaming them.  I made the choices too.  And you can look at even the postings about how much I stopped my world again the last time for this… stupid guy I fell in love with.

I gave Bear so much shit about pushing forward and pushing harder.  He in turn gave me that same “sell out” argument above that… well I had over ten years ago.  He told me recently that he never said he was a grown up but he was trying to be, at thirty five years old and counting he said he was “just a little behind…”  and then he’d made fun of my arguing and corporate tendencies again.

So maybe Bear was right about that initial statement.  Friendship wise.  Career wise.  Life wise.  But not for the reasons he likely thinks.  At the end of the day I guess this likely just makes me a… well, watch the video below and you’ll know the end punchline.

Carmageddon: The Aftermath

Dear Los Angeles,

So I see you that have survived the feared inferno of “Carmageddon”. You rocked the happy hour specials. You steered your four wheeled vessels clear of the freeways in fear of losing your ever so precious time sitting parked on the freeway for hours upon hours.

You chose to not clutter the streets with aggravation. For a few glorious days, there was a silent peace decorated on asphalt. People were drawn in droves to the otherwise bickered about public transportation. There wasn’t arguing with the hurried commuter in the other car, bike, or motorcycle trying to get to x function. There were no stretched necks as accident after accident piled up to make the drive home from work, play, or errands a little longer. There was less noise and pollution.

The 405 is opening as I type this. It bids one to wonder if the community has learned anything from this exercise. How will the Los Angeles community change? How have you changed for the greater good?

Los Angeles once had the greatest public transit system in the world. Nowadays, people dread the thought of taking a bus, a train, or a bike in lieu of a car. This weekend proved that the community here is so ambivalent to change that, rather than embrace the possibilities of other alternatives, would rather just not participate at all.

This weekend Los Angeles biker community advocates Wolfpack Hustle embarked on a 40 mile race against an airline proved the power of the human versus the machine. In a race won by pedal pushers that generated substantial buzz, why are the Los Angeles bike paths lacking in comparison to other major metropolitan cities?

Now that Carmageddon has come and gone, as a business person, are you going to take heart the relief and production capabilities of a happier worker that has not had to “deal” with traffic for one day? Are you going to provide more of an incentive to take public transit?

As a regular commuter are you going to make a more proactive attempt to take public transit when you can? Will you take an extra few minutes to walk down the street to that cafe for brunch or the extra few blocks to the grocery store?

It’s time the community took a big look at the bigger picture. We have the power to carve this city into something greater if we unify ourselves. Time is a precious commodity but so is a calmer, healthier way of life. Instead of putting one in front of the other, perhaps both are capable of happening. Dare to be a part of the change.

Home: Building our own definitions

This is my mother’s house in suburbia Illinois.  It’s not the place where I spent my entire childhood.  It’s the house my mother bought on the tail end of my parent’s divorce.  Its next door to the house I would spend my last year in Illinois before I embarked on my dream path: the shores of California.

My mothers world and mine are very very different and its more than just the zip code.

Andrew Largeman: You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn’t really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your shit, that idea of home is gone.

Sam: I still feel at home in my house.
Andrew Largeman: You’ll see one day when you move out it just sort of happens one day and it’s gone. You feel like you can never get it back. It’s like you feel homesick for a place that doesn’t even exist. Maybe it’s like this rite of passage, you know. You won’t ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it’s like a cycle or something. I don’t know, but I miss the idea of it, you know. Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place.

It’s been nearly 3 years since the itch hath caught me, but here I am yet again.  A white sky and wind chimes silently protest the rolling thunder filling the canvas.  Blank pages used to frighten me.  This one doesn’t surprise me at all.

I came back to celebrate the life of a man I didn’t know that I didn’t really know.   What do you do when you find out everything you thought you knew was a lie?

It started off small: a piece of him I thought I had.  On the day of his death I proudly wore a US Army shirt with his last name written on the pocket.  I’m not sure when (I believe it may have been in my days of ROTC back in high school) or how I acquired it but I always believed that was his.

I knew my grandfather was military, but what I didn’t remember was that he was not in the army.  He was in the navy.

It wasn’t until I had flown cross country to the place I grew up that I would find out.  How much of what else I remembered was also a lie?

I’ve been journaling intermittently throughout my trip.  My mind is scattered and focused… but every time I try to focus on the very man I came here for, I can’t seem to stay there.  Why?

When I’d made the call to my mother (a woman whom I don’t have much of a relationship with) it was greeted with disdain.  See, I haven’t been “home” in years despite many friends and other family here requesting me visit.

“You have friends and family here that care about you and want you here.” friends would tell me.

“I’ll be back someday… likely in a box but not anytime soon if I can help it.”

And that’s when I’ve come back.  Last time it was for my cousin’s funeral.  Time passed and so did another.  Tragedy happened again.  My mother’s side seems to get the brunt of it.  Perhaps its because there are more of them than in daddy’s immediate family.

When I’d come back last time, I saw friends as well.  I don’t believe death should be a sad time.  Its a time to celebrate life all around you.  So when I come home, I make a point to see as many friends and family here as I can.  I do my best to fill the days here with positivity.  Nothing gets accomplished with sadness and worry.  Life has a way of working things out.

Theres a touch of a scent of mildew.  The water washes the country roads of its city grime.  The sadness remains constant.  It bids to swallow this place whole.  Not so secretly, a part of me wishes that it would.  Perhaps this is why I ran to pages of comic book and blobs of paint.

My favorite place for baked raviolis closed down a year ago.  Some of my friends had moved to the city.  I find less and less reasons to return every time I come here.

The phone call to tell mom I’d pulled the favor with my longtime friend and gotten a ticket home was greeted not with an ecstatic thank you, but

“This is not a vacation.  You are here to see me and be with my family.  That’s all this is about.  It’s not about you.”

And while it isn’t a vacation, it is about family, and, as selfish as it may sound, it’s also not about them.  Life is a journey and the destination is yourself.

I made the call to my friend for my mother.  She and I have years of darkness that I want nothing more than to get through.  I haven’t been the nicest person.  Neither has she.  There are reasons I don’t live here anymore.  There are reasons why I don’t make a huge effort to come back.  The feeling of “home” hasn’t existed in this place I spent my childhood for what feels like ages.

I was speaking with someone this morning about what home is.

Andrew Largeman: You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn’t really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your shit, that idea of home is gone.
Sam: I still feel at home in my house.
Andrew Largeman: You’ll see one day when you move out it just sort of happens one day and it’s gone. You feel like you can never get it back. It’s like you feel homesick for a place that doesn’t even exist. Maybe it’s like this rite of passage, you know. You won’t ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it’s like a cycle or something. I don’t know, but I miss the idea of it, you know. Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place.

Home is not just a place a person spends some of their time in.  It is a feeling.  It is a state of mind.  It is a place of refuge.  It is comfort.  It’s a hug.  But it’s more than that.  It’s very specific.

Home is not something you are given.  Home is a gift that is found deep within the heart.  I am constantly surprised by the places where I have found this very specific embrace.

I was standing in line at two stores before I made my exodus from LA.  I’d lost more than a grandfather this week and I wanted to chronicle via film the whole adventure.  I didn’t make it to the checkout line with a camera.  Instead, I bought 3 bags of candy.  I didn’t even buy a notebook.

I went back to my apartment and packed in a rush.  I wasn’t the only one going on a trip that morning.  After I gathered everything, I dashed to see Prince Charming.  I wanted my last moments in Los Angeles to be spent with someone who brought back to the surface these feelings of home simply by just existing.  Someone beyond myself.  If only for a moment.

Even being there, however wasn’t about just him.  It was about me.

We both live in our singular worlds and at times we peek out and step into a world outside of it.

This would be the first trip we would not take together… but that’s a different story.

He brought me to the airport bus.  It was late but I would still catch it.  I really do need to speed up.  Was part of me just not wanting to say….

We kissed and said our “See you laters.”  I’m not a fan of the word “Goodbye.”

Is that partially what this is about?

The rain stopped outside. I shouldn’t be inside writing.  I should be out and about meeting a stranger in my hometown visiting from Portland or a secret admirer from a city just outside my “home”town.  I should be visiting friends and having a grand ole time.  But this is not a vacation.

The door slammed.  My mother returned from work.  I think I may toss on my Converse and get muddy and contemplative and wet. Years later,  my escape route has changed very little.

My mother is watching family videos.  In her world, these were the “happier days.”  And as much as I do enjoy my own moments of nostalgia, moments with her are not the moments that I turn to.

A friend of mine gave me a challenge for this trip: to film only the things that made me happy about being back.

“My mother would never be filmed.” I told him.

In the vacuum of silence and laughter of yesteryear, I look at how different our memories are.  Beyond just my grandfather, were these too all just… an illusion created in the mind’s eye?

Off I go into the great white yonder.  Armed with a camera and a pen.  And while it isn’t a vacation, it is about family, and, as selfish as it may sound, it’s also not about them.  Dare to build your own definitions.  Dare to create your own stories.

Life is a journey in ever constant motion and the destination is yourself.

If this note has touched you in any way, I would love for you to write me and tell me your story.  What is your definition of home?  What makes an amazing memory amazing?  Do you believe that where you grew up is your home?  Why?  How has it shaped you as the person you are now?

Thank you so much.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Mr Perfect

Back when you were younger do you remember those “Little Miss” books?

Well, a little while back, when I was out and about with a friend in Westwood we stopped in a gift store called Aah’s!  Walking in, you essentially knew what you were getting into.  Everyone has been to those cheesy shops at some point in their lives.  Some, more so than others.  It was littered with silly gag gifts and other assorted randomness.

Most of the time you walk into shops like that just for the experience of them.  Rarely, if ever do you buy something or know someone that does.  At least, not unless they are in their teens or know someone who is about to hit 40.

That night though I did find something.  I found a couple of things actually.  One is indeed silly and I may have to return to get it to send to someone important.  The other?  A few buttons that I put on the messenger bag that I carry most everywhere.  This story is about one button in particular- one that had the image and name of one called “Mr. Perfect.”

Little did I know, that perhaps that was a magnet for the person I would soon find to be my Mr. Perfect- HOM.

After we met it seemed very odd that the button mysteriously fell off my bag.  I put it in my pocket and held it close.  It was as if fate was telling me something…

The button is still in my pocket.  I want not to draw in anyone else.  I firmly believe that I found what I was looking for, even if it may or may not be the right time for it to happen.

Muse for Hire trudges on… those cranes have not been finished yet.  I realize more and more that I know where pure inspiration comes from.  That perhaps I already knew.

Mr. Perfect is in my pocket.  The dream is still there.  I lived it and think about it…but I don’t think about it.  I know that even if it wasn’t him… then damn I came the closest that I’ve ever gotten to it yet.

In the aftermath of the nuclear blast (a story which I am still devoted to help him pen) there is a sole survivor.

I wonder if Mr. Perfect will return and grace the nights and days with that light again or if the light that burns twice as bright will burn out twice as fast yet again.

To you my dear, I would Walk Through Hell.

I really firmly believe that there was a reason why we encountered eachother.  That there was a bit of serendipity.  That it was about something more.  It was real.  It was tangible.  It was… a movie that I will never forget.

I care about you more than you know.

I’m sorry that things turned out the way they did that day.  We were supposed to be flying kites high above the sky… the week that we had made me feel like that inside.

There are things I want to show you.  Experiences that I still want to have with you.  Mr. Perfect… you are everything I always wanted and more.

If you’d only let me.

If only

If only

If only.

I miss you my dearest.  I am looking for that way home… as I said before, San Diego my heart is yours.  This time, more than ever do I know that to be true.






Gold stars for you: Moving is more than moving

I haven’t talked to her in a few months.  We’d said that we were going to talk more.  We used to be best friends.  You know, back before he happened.

I introduced her to her boyfriend- a guy I knew from a website around the same I started to date Big.  While we all know what happened with him, her relationship, though cross country not only lasted but she arrived in New York this week to take up residence to be near him.

Her sheer amount of patience through the struggle of being away from the person she loved for so long is admirable.  I envy her in a way.  It is not something that I think I could have done.

Her cross country love story- from Alaska all the way out East, gives me a bit of hope.

Everything is possible if you add heart and push yourself.

So while I push harder than ever to get through some of the things going on here, my bag is a carry on tote.   These cranes will continue to be folded.  And perhaps wishes and dreams really can come true… but only if you give yourself entirely to the goal.

Here’s to fighting to making that move… everyday closer to that one bit of manifest destiny that resides within each and every one of us.

And with that, I have to go back to work.

Gold stars to you my former best friend.  I miss you.  Congrats on making it home.