There are times when I sincerely do not know what to do next. I have been following my gut instinct for the past week and it had been thrilling and rewarding. I feel the tug to do something and I act upon it, simply because I have no other options. Now, I sit and try to listen and I am not getting any responses.
Last night, I slept on the floor of a new friend's dormitory. I slept soundly. I woke up the next morning for a prospective job working in a food truck. I had an interview, and the manager said that they wanted to try me out for a day as a cashier in their truck and see what to do from there.
I had mixed feelings about this. I now have $278 dollars in my bank account, thanks to Etsy (and all of you XOXO). $250 of it is strictly "Back Up Plan" money, money that I have reserved for the sole purpose of high tailing it back to California to write the book.
I arrived at the food truck lot thirty minutes early and checked in with myself. I sat motionless for thirty minutes straight, trying to figure out what I was trying to accomplish in Austin. My gut told me to walk away, and I did. I botched my opportunity to have paid work in Austin.
What thinking in Austin, Texas look like.
I am planning the journey home. A career in Austin, working out of food trucks is not what I was looking for. I was looking for a place to figure things out. A lot of the people I have met on my trip asked me what I was up to in Austin, Texas. The most sincere answer I could give them was "I'm fuckin' around."
One of my friends sent me a message through Etsy that said: "Please succeed. I need to know that it is possible to just drop everything and end up fine."
You quite possibly will die. I have heard stories about people getting decapitated on Greyhound buses. I have friends who have been mugged. Every day I see homeless people and it scares the shit out of me because I know there is a great possibility that things will NOT end up great and I am not in control of anything that happens to me.
But if I am going to be completely honest, I would rather take that risk than not at all. I would rather do crazy shit on the daily just to see what happens then to sit at home browsing Facebook. I blame testosterone and too many movies as a child. But to fail is a part of trying, etc. etc. I would rather go to Austin, Texas and realize that I needed to go home than to never go to Austin, Texas and always daydream about what it would have been like if I tried.
THINGS I HAVE LEARNED:
I need to go back to school. I have a new-found appreciation and understanding of why I was going to college. We hear it all the time "College is a tool that needs to be used correctly, blah blah blah" and I know for a fact that I was using it incorrectly. To return to school with focus I think is going to save me a lot of money and time.
Be kind to everyone, be patient in your search of true friendship. Part of my mission was to try and be more social and to meet more people. I thought that there was something wrong with me, that I was just too awkward and weird to connect with anyone, so I thought "If I go to a new city, I will be forced to learn how to be friendly and I will make tons of friends." True, and not true. I met a ton of people, but I realized that not everyone has the capability of being my friend. I thought there was a recipe to connecting with people. There isn't really. Some people will understand you, some won't, and it takes time to find these people. I once asked my dad if there was a magical formula to social interaction. He shook his head. "It's always going to be weird. Social interaction, by nature, is one of the weirdest things ever."
Wandering is humiliating. Everyone please read this article. http://www.theonion.com/articles/im-just-a-free-spirit-who-is-entirely-financially,33905/. This is how I feel on a daily basis. I am by no means "independent". I am at the mercy of the kindness of others. There are only so many times you can say "thank you" and to save my pride I have made sure that I have stayed in a different place every night so I don't put up the appearance of freeloading (even if this is EXACTLY what I am doing). Realizing how much it sucks to be pathetic and penniless it a huge motivating factor to return home, to continue my education, and to be a fuckin' lion instead of a leech.
Being Twenty One Is Awesome. I am young enough to pass unnoticed through college campuses, buses, and dormitories. Almost everyone is willing to help you. The man in the golden scarf was right: it would be impossible to pull off half the shit I did this week if I was thirty five. I cannot stress this enough: THERE ARE SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE. IF YOU ARE SO INCLINED, TRAVEL BEFORE YOU ARE OLD. The Pro and Cons list of being young and traveling is lopsided and unnecessary. Do it now. Disclaimer: Even though you are young, you still may die. Happy trails!
That's it. I don't mean to be preachy, but a lot of this is new to me. I set out to learn things and I think this covers it. A lot of these are no-brainers, things that are like "of course you should know this, we've heard it a thousand times" but I learn by doing, and I plan to be that way for the rest of my life.
Sigh. I get excited and get lost in my thoughts, so I am going to leave you with this.
Last night I was in a car driving through the desert from Houston back to Austin. Apparently it is tradition to stop at a gas-station halfway through these towns, so we stopped at a Shell station to use the bathroom and to buy snacks. It was about 10:00pm and outside in the dimly lit parking lot, one of my friends did a handstand and walked on his hands.
This is the most beautiful thing. To do midnight handstands between towns.
Erin: Turn that fear into motivation. Think Batman.
Me: Fuuuck, I think about the pit scene from the Dark Knight Rises EVERY DAY.
Erin: Why do we fall Master Bruce?
Me: Remind me.
Erin: So we can learn to pick ourselves up.
I have spent the past three days applying for jobs, doing job interviews, and so far I have heard nothing. I get about two hours of public library use a day, and then I scavenge around, meeting people and eating until I find a place to stay at night. My money is dwindling.
I did some math. I can survive unassisted for about two more days, more if I find a place to crash. Unless I hear back from jobs, I'm going to have to take the fall and come back home.
The problem is, in order to to get home, I am going to need at least $300 for Greyhound and food.
So here is the plan.
Quite literally, THE BACK UP PLAN.
On Etsy I have a link for a book that is being written. It will be finished, scouts honor, by March 31st if not sooner. It's $10 for purchase, shipping FREE.
If I sell 30 of these future-books, I will have enough money to pay for a Greyhound Bus and a couple lunches. If I sell 50, I can buy reams of paper and postage as well.
HERE'S THE DEAL: If a) you want to help me get home if things turn sour and b) you want a copy of a book with the entire, unabridged story of the Austin Mayhem Adventure, you can do BOTH by buying the book for $10 on Etsy.
A couple points:
If you don't believe that I'm going to write the book
If you think it's a shitty investment
If you think I am going to misuse the money
If you think this whole idea is DUMB
THEN DON'T BUY THE BOOK. I don't want to hear your sass. Just don't buy the book.
BUT, if you like my blog, if you want to help me get home, and you like art and people who make original content, and you want to know what HAPPENED, then by all means, please buy the book.
SITUATION A: If I get a job and successfully support myself, you STILL GET A BOOK BY MARCH 31st.
SITUATION B: I don't make enough money and have to make awkward phone calls to get home. I am ashamed and broken. YOU STILL GET A BOOK BY MARCH 31st.
SITUATION C: I die. You might get a book. This situation is really the wildcard of the bunch.
Please share this link and let's see if we can make this happen. No matter what, you are paying $10 and YOU ARE GETTING A BOOK.
[Also, if you are a super-fan by all means buy two or three. I will send you as many copies as you buy, and the more you buy the quicker I raise my "Get Home" funds].
My hometown employers will be upset. Actually, if I had to guess, they are very upset right now and wondering why I haven't showed up for work all week. Starbucks called me and asked me if I crashed my bike. I said no, I was having a personal emergency. Which was very very true.
On Sunday before work, I went to Peets for an afternoon latte.
All the seats were taken. I was about to leave when a man in a golden scarf said to me "Here, sit here." He offered a seat at his table. I sat down and drank my coffee and we talked for a bit.
"So what do you do?" he asked as he picked at a roast beef sandwich.
"Um... I'm a waiter at a Japanese Restaurant. And a barista at Starbucks."
"No, no," he said, "What do you want to do in the grand scheme of things?"
We got into talking about mind and body, life and purpose, and he concluded saying "You live in an exciting time. You're young. You can do anything. No obligations. It's so eeeasy for you to travel," he finished his sandwich and licked his fingers. "That's my one regret. I didn't travel enough when I was your age. Your mind is expanding right now, and you need to use it!" he began picking up the crumbs of the sandwich with his fingers. "If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?"
I thought for a moment. "Austin, Texas."
The man laughed. "There you go! Austin, Texas. What's stopping you from packing your bags and going right now?"
"I have two jobs," I said.
"Psh," said the man. "For kids your age, jobs like that are a dime a dozen. I am sure if you went to Austin you could find work. You're smart, you're friendly-" he gathered his napkins. "- you could make a living for yourself in Austin, Texas. WELL! I have to go. I'm already late."
"It was a pleasure talking to you," I said. "I guess I'll see you around."
"I hope not," said the man, and he left.
I sat at the table alone for ten seconds before what happened next.
I rode my bike home, packed my backpack, took all the money I had stashed away in my drawers, and biked to the bus stop. I did not go to my scheduled shift at Starbucks.
After a brief stop in Santa Cruz and 48 hours of bus travel, I arrived in Austin, Texas. I have been here for two days now and I already have a novel's worth of shit that's happened to me. As some of you might have seen on Facebook, I MET JASON SCHWARTZMAN. I was just walking down the street, looking for food, and I see JASON SCHWARTZMAN across the street. I got his autograph, had a short but pleasant conversation, shook his hand, and went on my way. Apparently he was in town shooting a movie called "Seven Chinese Brothers" (more on that here) with Bob Byington, who was also with him when I ran into them. I met up with some friends later and tried to express to them how exciting it was that I met JASON SCHWARTZMAN, but no one seemed impressed. "Yeah, that's Austin" was a common response.
Where the f**k am I?
Since I've been here I've been trying to get a job so I don't die. I got my Texas Alcoholic Beverage Certification and my Texas Food Handlers License, so the world is my oyster. I have been applying to restaurants all over town, and so far I haven't heard anything. It's tense, because I am reaching the "point of no return", when I will eventually not have enough money to buy a bus ticket home. And why on Earth would I want a bus ticket home? I need to somehow find a way to survive here and DAMMIT, I'm going to do it.
As for living arrangements, my first night I stayed in a hostel ("Hostelling International - Austin") which was like heaven compared to the bus. I slept soundly in a bed next to a man from Denver who had a pleasant demeanor and unpleasant smelling feet. Last night I managed to use my Facebook connections to find a friend of a friend who lives in Austin, Texas, and I crashed at her place last night. Everyone has been so kind and I am so grateful, but it is time to get a job. ASAP. Or else I quite possibly may die.
This is, of course, a summary of events. I have been taking extensive notes and I know that I will definitely be putting together a book or something to talk about all of my adventures on the Greyhound and in Austin, but for now I think I need to focus on getting that GUAP.
My life is sheer and utter insanity. There are certain things that are very hard to express in a simple blog post, like how everything felt "right" when I left, and how certain opportunities arose and it seemed too perfect to be coincidence. And how much I love Austin so far. I could go on, but I'll save that for the book.
It is late and I have work tomorrow so this is going to be a short post.
But I think I may have had a perfect 21st birthday, so perfect I am on the verge of tears.
I did so many of my favorite things. I will attempt to list them.
At midnight, I bought my ticket for a bartending class in San Francisco.
My mother got me a ream of paper as a gift, and I loved it because I needed it badly.
I spiked my hair and took the bus to work.
I worked a slow day at Tachikawa and talked about everything that mattered with my good friend Chris.
I WENT TO THE DENTIST
I got a tall, regular coffee at Starbucks. Everyone yelled "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" when I walked in, so loud it was embarrassing.
I ate dinner at Tachikawa, and for the first time I tried hot sake. Every time I prepare hot sake at Tachikawa it smells amazing, and today I finally got to taste it for myself. ALSO SUSHI AT TACHIKAWA IS MY FAVORITE THING ESPECIALLY WHEN I GET A 20% DISCOUNT BECAUSE I WORK THERE.
Went to the Berkeley Poetry Slam, got a beer, watched the FINAL competition of female slam poets and was floored. Excellent poetry.
My friend Katherine got me a mystery book as a gift and I love it. There is no blurb written on the cover. The contents is a unknown. This makes me more excited than anything.
I WENT TO A BAR IN OAKLAND, DRANK ANOTHER BEER, AND SAW LIVE MUSIC. "Go rap," said my cousin Yung Jess. "What?" "It's an open mic, go, anyone can just do it." I watched for a bit, then went onstage and spat a verse. AT A BAR. IN OAKLAND. My life became complete. Once I was done I sat down to finish my beer, a random person gave me props. "Was that you spitting up there? Good job." DAY MADE.
I came home exhausted. And then I saw that there was a small package on my floor.
Inside was THIS APRON:
Per usual, my sister gets me the best gifts. For those of you who have never seen "My Drunk Kitchen", I suggest you start now. This was by far the best way to end my day. Erin Miller, you are an amazing sister and I dare to say you know me more than any other person on planet Earth. You are a star, and this apron is my favorite thing.
A lot of my friends sent me text messages and Facebook messages and wall posts, and I was really happy to receive all of them. The ones that made me the saddest were the ones that said "Connor, we miss you." I want to cry. I miss you too. I miss all of the friends I have at Sarah Lawrence.
However, the best gift is being home. It's very difficult to explain. I don't know if I am weird or sensitive or what, but when I was walking down the streets of Pinole today in the fog, I knew I was in the right place, and I felt happiness well up in my chest and I wanted to cry. I didn't, because I had a hot coffee in my hand and I was about to go to the dentist. But it was a beautiful moment. Spiritually, I wept with happiness.
On our way back from the bar in Oakland, my cousin and I talked about our plans.
"I'm tryna get a grill," she said. "I have gold fangs, but I want six gold bottom teeth."
"That's twenty dollars a tooth," I said.
"I know," she said, tapping the steering wheel. "Gotta save up."
"I wanted to get a grill hella bad," I said, "but I told my friends at SLC about it and they told me, verbatim, 'that is disgusting, why would you do that, I find that to be the most unattractive thing you could ever do'."
My cousin made a face.
"That shoulda been a sign that you were in the wrong place, kid. Grills are raw. It's in your blood."
It's a small, silly, stupid thing. I am sure I could've found Sarah Lawrence kids who were into getting gold plating for their teeth, but the small, silly things click more snugly into place here at home; my music taste, my clothes, my hobbies. Everything seems to mesh very well with me here. And it makes sense, because I grew up here, I was shaped by Pinole, California, and now I've adapted to function in it.
I am very thankful for everything I learned at SLC. There is too much to count. I don't know, go read my evaluations or my previous blog posts. Psychology, writing, biology, etc. etc., but maybe the most important lesson was learning how to appreciate the hometown I had left so hurriedly.
I could give advice, like "go to college for the right reasons" but if my readers are anything like me they're not going to believe it until they do it themselves.
Blah blah blah I got all sentimental. (Oh no... maybe it's the beer GASP).
I'll end on a lighter note.
My parents warned me that tonight was going to be dangerous.
"Don't worry," I told them, "I'm not going to buy a lot of drinks, I don't have that much money."
"IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY, everyone is going to buy you drinks and you are going to get SICK."
I heard horror stories from my friends, who went to bars on their birthdays and ended up drinking obscene amounts of alcohol.
"Don't do it. You aren't a man yet, you'll see," said my friend from Texas.
The funny thing was, no one noticed at any of the venues. Only my close friends knew it was my birthday. No bartenders, hosts, strangers made a fuss, and I was thankful.
We walked up to the bar and a bouncer scanned our IDs before we entered.
My friends went first, then he swiped my ID, looked at me and softly said, "Happy Birthday, dude."
Three people had checked my ID today, and he was the only one who noticed. Go Oakland bouncer, you are observant and awesome.
Ooof. This was longer thank I thought. And it's almost 3am.
I've been home for about a month now. Here are some highlights.
I am a barista at Starbucks, a waiter at Tachikawa (a sushi restaurant in my home town), and a "cable equipment operator" for Pinole Community Television. I'm bringing home money, not nearly enough, but enough to have a good time about once a week and enough to save up for a car in the near future.
Since I don't have a car, I've been biking to work every day. It's about 20 minutes to each job, and I am more or less fit. I carry everything I need in an intense outdoorsy backpack, and if I do say so myself, I look like a badass when I'm biking everywhere. That or homeless.
Working at Starbucks is wonderful and interesting. I am being trained and I am somewhat more competent at making drinks (although yesterday I was working drive-thru and I think I sold two mochas without coffee in them. Essentially, I handed out two hot chocolates). I am getting better. If you order a Frappe I will panic. But I will make your drink correctly. After asking a lot of questions from more experienced baristas.
Working at Tachikawa is also great. Tips are good, the lunch shift is manageable, and I get free sushi every day I work. There is very little to complain about. I have noticed when I am overwhelmed with customers I will sing to myself, which is soothing, but as I become more competent I am singing less out of stress and more out of pleasure. Also, a high point of my day is hearing a jazzy version of Rihanna's "Take a Bow" play in my restaurant (below). Every time this song comes on my mood improves by 10%.
Lastly, two videos I orchestrated came out since my last blog post. You can check them out below. I put together the "Happy" music video after my sister, Erin (http://syriouslyerin.wordpress.com/) put up her own music video at her school. The second video is something my friend Karloz and I did with my Grandmother. We tried learning how to cook dinuguan, a traditional Filipino dish consisting of pork cooked in its own blood. Delicious. I am told that my grandmother is the real star of the video, and personally I think the best moment is at 2:20 but you can watch the full clip below.
MOVIES SEEN RECENTLY (Rated on a scale of 1-10, 1 being poor and 10 being the best fucking thing I have seen in recent times):
Wolf of Wall Street, 10
Justin Bieber's "Believe", 10 - Ya'll need to calm down about Jbiebs getting arrested. People get arrested, it happens, one of my good friends was arrested for a DUI, I don't care if Jbiebs is going on a "downfall" I am still a fan of his music and his performance skills. Don't try to pick a fight with me about this kid because we all deserve to be treated with respect. John 8:7. Google it.)
Frozen, 10 - Asher Roth once asked this question and after seeing this move, I now have an answer.
Frances Ha, 1 - My sister recommended this movie to me and I am sorry I didn't like it.
Inside Llewyn Davis, 10 - Great film, exceptional Cohen Brothers form, added some of the music from the movie to my Spotify 2014 playlist (which can be found in the sidebar).
Blue Jasmine, 10
BOOKS READ RECENTLY (rated on the same scale as above)
The Ask, by Sam Lipsyte - 5
Taipei, by Tao Lin - 10 (I know I rated this a 3 out of 5 in my Goodreads, but that's because rating something out of 5 stars is an entirely different game than rating something on a scale of one to ten. Also stars and points are different. Deal with it).
KICKASS MUSIC I'VE HEARD RECENTLY
"Forever" by Cap1 feat. Acehood - I was riding in the car with one of my cousins recently and she was playing some bumpin' jams from her CD player from a CD she had burned herself. I asked her where she found her music, and she said she just listens to stuff from "datpiff.com" and picks what she likes. I tried it and came up with "Forever" by Cap1 feat. AceHood which is a good song, not great, but is something I hum to myself when I am riding my bike to work.
"r - Cali" by A$AP Rocky - Found this while browsing A$AP Rocky's Spotify page, and realized that it was from an album of original music from "Grand Theft Auto V". WHAT? I checked out the rest of the album, it's kind of lame, but this song is bumpin' and I dig it.
"Matches by Mac Miller feat. Ab-Soul - A song that is fun to listen to and also way too relevant.
Blah blah blah. Turning twenty-one this week. Should be interesting. My friends, family, and co-workers are worried for me. I hopefully will not get smashed. I do not plan on getting smashed. For the love of God, please, I don't want to get smashed. I just want to go to a bar and have a good time and be able to work the next day. Maybe I shouldn't go to a bar. This is the first time I've even entertained that option. Nope. It's my birthday. Gotta do it.
Cheers and thank you. Here's a picture of me with my Monet calendar:
I wrote a little chapbook called "Pain Parade". The only reason it is not in your tiny little hands is because it costs a buttload to mail it across the country, so I've been printing a bunch of copies and handing them out to people who might like it. It's fun, I'll try and get you a copy, if you want one come visit me and honestly give me $5 for it because that would be sweet.
MY LIFE CURRENTLY:
9:00am Wake up in a sleeping bag because my house is super cold and my parents don't believe in heat. "It doesn't exist, why should we pay for it?"
10:00am Bike to work because I don't own a car. I put portable speakers in my little bike-basket and blast hip hop to make it feel more like a car.
11:00am-3:00pm Work at Tachikawa Japanese Restaurant.
3:00pm Eat sushi in front of Subway because that's the only outdoor seating for miles.
3:30pm Bike home.
4:00pm Arrive home, banter with father. This hour of comedic back-and-forth could be televised. It should be. It might be in the near future.
6:00pm-12:00am Hiding out in my room, drinking tea, writing, browsing the internet, being moderately creative and productive and eventually watching Parks and Rec after my muse has left me. (It took me five minutes to write the phrase "when my muse has left me" because I couldn't decide if it was fitting or pretentious. I'm a douche either way so I'm gonna roll with it).
I attended a rap battle on Thursday. I made it to the second round and lost. I was mad about it. Not because I deserved to win, but because I deserved to lose. Next month, however, I am going to blow that shit out of the water. Since I am at home, I am going to practice freestyle rap during my free moments, and when I am biking to and from work.