American Diaries – 20 Aug 2003

Part 1/3. This is the first time I’ve transcribed an excerpt from the old black notebook I bought on my travels in 2002-3. I’ve kept the original wording, with only tiny amendments for spelling and grammar. Otherwise it’s verbatim: warts and all.

 

23:45 Wednesday 20 August 2003
4175 Executive Drive, La Jolla

In short, I awoke this morning late again only to sink into my usual uncomfortable frustration at our current lack of progress. My back ached terribly, partly as a result of a bad night’s sleep (not for any particular reason) and partly because we had spent Monday night sleeping – trying to sleep – in the wilderness of the Angeles National Forest near Pasadena.

Fortunately, Nick persuaded me to go for a surf with him and that sorted me right out. I got the workout that /I needed and my aching back and aching brain found total relief.

On returning to the apartment we wasted a few hours, cooked up a remarkably good curry considering our lack of ingredients. Later, Nick and I went for a stroll and then jumped the fence of the Jewish Community Centre opposite and sat on their spring-boards and talked about our position. With brimming minds, we returned to the apartment and I stumbled across a copy of Pink Floyd’s “Is there Anybody Out There” concert. That is what we are listening to right now, with tea and porridge steaming before us. A fulfilling day in the end.

While we had been bouncing and swinging our legs on the spring-boards we fully reviewed our perspectives on our travels, our lives as they stand and how we project them. I would like to go over a few of the points made here.

  • That our lack of progress is aided in no small part by the poor quality of the environment within the apartment; sterile, messy, stagnant, lazy, stuffy, unhealthy.
  • That these travels are, and have always been, less about the places we visit than about the people whose lives we get to experience and share, and the stories they have to tell.
  • That we should express the last point on our website
    [1] somehow as well as, and also for the purpose of, the next point.
  • That we wish to inspire and enthuse people, both in their general existences as well as within the context of whatevernext.
  • That not only is it hard to inspire people but that it is hard to find inspiration in such an environment as this apartment and in our stagnant situation. Further, that in order to inspire people we should be setting an example and we are not doing that at the moment – that is probably on the main sources of our frustration.

We also discussed how much we have both been thinking recently about how we would run our respective lives after travelling. Whether or not I have mentioned this before, I would like to write about it just now as I believe it is fundamental to my thinking as it is since I left home 9 months ago.

Off the top of my head I think the best way to review my idea of a life in my own place would be simply to list off what I would do differently and by what principles I would try to live. Principally I imagine myself back in London, as I see myself there easily – not because London is what I am used to or because I feel that I have work still to do there but because that is where my friends are and it is the place in which I could function most efficiently for obvious reasons.

Anyway, a few ideas for life:

  • Choice of home: pay less rent relative to wage than before and put money aside regularly to improve home and exterior lifestyle and environment.
  • Create environment in home (even just in one room if necessary) in which I can feel comfortable and/or inspire and/or willing to work – obviously, all of these would be necessary but they could be in the same space or different spaces.
  • Eat very healthily and simply, saving money on treats like meat and by buying bulk volumes of basics such as veg and tinned tomatoes. Spend more on a constant supply of healthy snacks such as fruit and nuts.
  • Blender for smoothies and cocktails.
  • Less booze, more juices or smoothies (using fruit and soya milk).
  • Take time and money to search out and construct simple furnishings to improve environment (eg. blow up favourite photos, build instead of buy).
  • Computer with good setup incl; fast internet (always-on) connection, wide range of music, video & photo editing software.
  • Only live with people who are independent and proactive, unobtrusive, patient, clean and healthily minded.
  • Keep a cleaner ship – washing up as you go (find somewhere to put the dishes so they don’t linger even when clean) and clean the floors and surfaces more often.

Alright, maybe more of that later. Before I go to bed I will mention the last two days for prosperity [sic].

On Sunday night, on the spur of the moment (well, during a discussion with flatmate and good friend Chris Caseine about his recent interest in hiking, camping and all that outdoor stuff) I suggested a hiking trip. Early on Monday morning we cooked some egg-fried rice to take with us and drove up to L.A. Chris showed us around his house – a very comfortable and calm place with a driveway full of beautiful old cars and stocked internally to overflowing with old toys and sports memorabilia. At lunchtime we drove Northwest to a hiking trail in Bear Canyon, in the Angeles National Forest. We hiked about 4 miles – not too strenuous and slept uncomfortably on a tarpaulin sheet, constantly vigilant to the threat of bears, evidence for whom was everywhere (droppings on the trail and vandalised bins).

We hiked back at a good pace so as to make the route more challenging and to beat the midday sun. It took no time to whizz back to Chris’s house to refresh and there we met his mother, father and aunt. We accepted an offer to visit his father at his workplace and headed there promptly.

Chris’s dad, Daryl, owns Encore Studios, in Burbank. One of the hippest, most fly recording studios in Los Angeles. Over the years he has worked with them all from Fred Astaire, through the Rolling Stones, Barry White, Aretha Franklin, the disco crowd and now the gangster rappers from Tupac and Biggie to Eminem, Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg.

Amidst no end of shameless name dropping, he told us very openly about the music industry from the studio’s perspective. How the scene has lost its charm, how the guys these days always have guns with them, how they came to the studio to escape their wives and their stardom and just hang out, get stoned, get hookers, even get their hair cut!

After touring and generally hanging out at the studio, playing with the equipment, playing on the pinball machines and playing X-Box, we returned to Chris’s to be treated to a great Chinese and our first viewing of Michael Moore’s Oscar-winning work of art “Bowling for Columbine”.

We were back in San Diego by half nine, and those were two good days.

 

References

  1. We had launched a website called whatevernext.org before we left the UK, not only to document our travels in various media formats, but also to host a social network for anyone else who wanted to do the same. A full-blown social networking platform for creative travellers, in 2002. It was an innovative and potentially valuable thing that we never really promoted or developed. Nick built the entire thing, I just contributed to the ideas and content.

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