I Used to Live in Bali

I used to live in Bali. It feels like a fucking decade ago when it was just in April.

There’s this magic to Bali. I didn’t think I would ever care for that sort of shit, that hippie-yoga-surfing-nature-organic-coffee vibe, but it’s exactly what I needed for that month in my life. I’d wake up at 7am, meditate, masturbate, hit the gym (the standard). Then at 11am I’d jump onto my motorbike and turn left onto Nakula and take that all the way down until it hit the ocean.

In the mornings, the waves along Double Six Beach were too small to surf. They’d grow larger throughout the day and become enormous by sunset, crashing into the coast, bouncing, crashing once more. I’d go at 11am because that was amateur hour for us beginner surfers on our immense 10ft foam longboards. Wayan would be there, setting up his surfboard rental booth on the beach.

(I asked Wayan, “When do people usually switch to a shortboard?” “Normally it takes 2 to 3 months,” he replied. “Then I’ll do it in 2 to 3 weeks,” I said, as he rolled his eyes. I sucked shit and was stuck on a longboard the entire month. Somehow, I was worse at surfing by the time I left Bali than when I flew there in the first place.)

I’d surf for an hour. Sometimes 90 minutes. But after that, I was exhausted, spent. I would plead the gods for mercy as I stumbled from the water and collapsed on the sand. And then I would look down at my thick abs and round shoulders and be all hooollllllllyyyyyy shit.

After returning my surfboard to Wayan’s shack where he stored them, we would sit on lawn chairs and look at the horizon, where the ocean met the sky. It was a good life, and I fucking knew it.

Most of the time, I’d eat lunch at a warung on the way back home, a simple, local restaurant with a hot table where you point at what you want to eat, they stack it onto a plate, then charge you based on what you chose using some unknown calculation. I’d mostly get the same items but the price would change daily (but who cares, it was always between $2-$3). I’d be ravenous after surfing, and would hunch over my food and eat with my fingers, my wet swimming trunks soaking the wooden bench and the sun toasting my thoroughly tanned back.

And then I would write. I would sit at one of the three cafes that I frequented and write like a motherfucker for 4 to 6 hours. I would write and edit – over and over again – stories about dating, about girls who broke me and about the girls who I broke; about the women who graced my life like a blessing and about the women who wrecked my life like a fucking hurricane.

I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote until I looked up and the sun was setting which meant the waves would be crashing on Seminyak Beach. Sometimes I’d continue writing, sometimes I’d head to the beach, sometimes I’d go home and watch Netflix and sometimes I’d…

Jesus fuck, this sucks.

I Don’t Like New Things

The last three women in my life were all exes (in some capacity), and all older than me. Why do I like older women so much?

Off the top of my head: they’re calmer, more peaceful than younger girls because they now know what they like and don’t like, what they can and can’t do, and they say no to the things in life that don’t align with these philosophies (things like me).

I’m almost the same way, although I’ve recently discovered that I’m a fucking people pleaser who’ll suffer through five drunken nights in a row if there’s out-of-towners or if a friend needs a wingman or in accordance with some other stupid-but-mandatory principle that I have. (Why do I feel bad for people and torture myself to make them feel better?)

Anyway, so they say no to the things that will make them sad, which means that they’re mostly always content and comfortable, like a housecat lounging on the arm of a couch in a ray of sunlight. They breathe deeper and blink slower and their energy matches mine: low. Well, not low, but relaxed. Loose.

Alright, I just realized that these three women have beautiful faces and exceptionally slim bodies. Shit, that’s probably the entire reason, which makes more sense. Why the hell would I want calm, low energy? I’ll motorbike for weeks in Central Vietnam to relax and hit the gym three times before the earth makes a full rotation.

One of them, the Ex-Ex (meaning, we actually, legitimately dated; it was witnessed and written and had there been Facebook at the time, my status would’ve been In A Relationship), well we reconnected in Toronto and I spent more time with her than my friends or family, although that’s what ex-girlfriends are, a sort of amalgamation of both of those things.

My god, her hips. Her small waist and curvy hips, with bones jutting out everywhere. We first met when she was abnormally thin, when she wasn’t eating right because of something or other. I kept waiting for her to return to her normal size and wondered what that was, until one day she gained 1.5 lbs and said, “Well, this is me, this is me back to my normal weight,” and I was elated, even moreso because it went right to her breasts.

It’s been a decade since we dated. We were so different from who we are now. I mean, I didn’t even begin to travel back then (it was right at our break-up when I took my first solo trip to Southeast Asia that kicked off this life of global hobo’ing or whatever it is I’m doing now) when traveling makes up probably 75% of my life, and 99% of my identity. I’m certain that when my name comes up, the traveling aspect comes up with it. Alex, the Guy Who Travels.

So 10 years ago, our lives diverged and she went this way and I went that way, but then 10 years later we can immediately lunge back into our comfort zone, talk about bullshit for hours while falling in and out of consciousness on a thick white duvet in a converted mansion in Parkdale. That’s awesome.

What I like more than older women (actually I suppose it’s been rectified that I like hot, slim women) are women I’ve already been with. I don’t know why, I like the comfort of it. I like recognizing landmarks.

It’s the same when I travel: the past three years, I’ve mostly been revisiting cities that I’d already been to. I just don’t have the energy it takes to see something new (but when I do – holy fuck). I like to see shitty cities and how they’ve grown years later, and I’ll do this again and again, even with places I don’t particularly like (Luang Prabang, Hua Hin, Pattaya, Jakarta, Gili Islands, Lombok, Phnom Penh). I don’t care about the present state of where I am, I like to see the change.

So I love going to a recognizable place and seeing them evolve. I suppose that’s my thing, although it achieves nothing. I like going to Ko Samui and seeing how the stores on the main street change, how they built up that huge new mall right along the familiar beach road – just as much as I like seeing an ex-girlfriend’s small waist and curvy hips, her black hair splashed onto her white, naked shoulders.

Leggy Thai Teacher

I had an enormous crush on one of my Thai language teachers, and this is why: she possessed knowledge that I did not, and could bequeath that knowledge to me. It’s happened before where I’ve fallen for a woman because she could teach me something (well actually, it’s probably a requirement). Not even in some profound way, just to change my world by an eyelash: the political history of Malaysia; mushroom farming; chi energy; the importance of moisturizers and hair masks; identifying dog breeds; how to sneak ecstasy into a club to sell (in your vagina, under a pair of Dickie’s).

So the leggy Thai teacher knew Thai.

It’s not even like this was difficult knowledge for her to obtain. She was simply born here, grew up speaking Thai, and could now middle-man that information to me. I’m that easy, a sucker for the middle-man, the messenger, the delivery girl.

Leggy Thai Teacher also wore night time clothes during the day. She didn’t mean to dress in a provocative manner, it was just jarring to see in a brightly-lit classroom at 10am on a Monday morning. Teachers were supposed to look inadvertently hot, like the visible black bra under their semi-transparent button-up was a complete accident. Like their hair was tousled the way it was because they were up late marking, not fucking in the back of a car on the bottom floor of a Tesco parking structure.

I mean, she wasn’t dressed overtly slutty – but she wouldn’t be – couldn’t be – picking up any dry-erase markers off the floor in her dresses and shoes.

Some days, she’d curl her hair in the morning. Other days, she’d shove a chopstick through a ponytail. Some days, she’d wear short purple lacy shorts. Other days, a blazer that she’d repeatedly take off and put on due to the intermittent air conditioner. The male students would be mesmerized every time this happened; she knew how to put on clothes as sexy as taking them off (shoulder by shoulder; slowly).

(Most of the teachers at this school dressed this way. I think that in Bangkok, teaching English is a respectable position and rare in that you actually have some power over the Western foreigners. So night time clothes are simply their good clothes. They’re just dressed in the best clothes they own.)

So Leggy Thai Teacher was hot (relatively, I mean, if I saw her at club or bar, she’d be decidedly sub-par – I think), but goddamnit, her attitude. Her bitchy fucking attitude is what did it for me. She would literally sneer at me when I would say hi in the hallways. A fake-smile sneer that wasn’t so fake that I wouldn’t see that it was actually a sneer. Her sneer had fucking layers, man, like a goddamn sexy onion.

In the beginning, when all we would do is recite the Thai alphabet for 3 hours a day (this went on for two full weeks until we could memorize all 44 consonants and 15 vowels), she’d take breaks and go to the washroom. Utilizing the same strategy that I would use in clubs and bars and restaurants, I’d time it so I would come out of the washroom when she would. Although my timing was bang on (is this a skill? Or creepy?), the strategy would fail miserably when I’d say hi and ask a stupid question, and she’d smile-sneer and go back to her phone.

God, it took months – months! – for her to warm up to me. It took months of me befriending every single other female employee that worked at that school before she would make eye contact while talking to me. Bizarrely, in the classroom she had no problem conversing, laughing, twirling her hair, cracking jokes, like I was her audience of one.

(What was that, some safety-in-numbers thing? She would flirt and blush when there were spectators, but then return to her sullen, bitchy self outside of the classroom.)

A few weeks later, I found out why she mistrusted foreigners: she had a daughter and was divorced – though we all knew that. What we didn’t know was that this Estonian man was a scam artist who traveled Southeast Asia claiming to be a lawyer for the Sultan of Brunei — with Power of Attorney. Before they were married, they dated for a year or two, and he flew her to London and Spain and Estonia (it once came up that she’d been to Estonia and I thought, weird). Soon after having their daughter, she discovered his lies through a network of other women that he had swindled in the same way, even going so far as to appearing with his transsexual mistress in the Pattaya newspaper.

I don’t know the entire story; it seemed he was a liar, but also that he was well-financed. So I’m not sure how he was swindling the women; maybe it was just the cheating? Though I can’t believe that a Thai local would divorce and ostracize a wealthy Western husband simply because he was cheating on her – that’s the norm in Asia.

Anyway, she went from wealthy mother and housewife to teaching English to foreigners at a school in a building with intermittent air conditioning, so I suppose she can sneer all she wants.

I Used to Live in Bangkok

I used to live in Bangkok. It feels like a fucking decade ago when it was just in March.

I used to wake up at 6:30am in my serviced apartment on Sukhumvit Soi 22 near Rama 4. I would wake up to the sun in my eyes and stretch while lying sideways, then masturbate and then meditate for 15 minutes, sitting up with a straight back and repeating a mantra in my head.

I’d brush my teeth and put on jeans and a button-up shirt (school day) then whistle on my way down two flights of stairs, say good morning to the mammoth security woman at the gate, cross the driveway and jump onto my Honda Click scooter.

Left turn to the main street and another left up Soi 22, then a right at Sukhumvit and an illegal u-turn at the intersection to get to my gym.

I’d work out for an hour, jump rope for another – and then it was 9:30am. I’d shower and dry off and put my jeans and button-up shirt back on and drive west on Sukhumvit to just past Asok, make a left into the parking structure, drive up three levels and park my motorbike with the others.

School was three periods, each an hour long, starting at 10am and letting out at 1am. I immediately made friends with the local teachers, the admin girls working the front counter, the IT girl in the back. The point of taking Thai classes was only partly to learn Thai; I knew that it’d be the best way to meet locals. Also, having a routine was nice.

So I was the nice, happy, jolly guy, which was a bizarre leap from who I was just months previously in Toronto – the angry, sullen, condescending complainer. I didn’t purposely change anything. It wasn’t my desire to change who I was. It just all kind of happened, because I was in my happy place (Bangkok) or at least out of my sad one (Toronto).

I would flirt with a certain teacher. She wasn’t hot, but she was the hottest one there – which counts for something. We wouldn’t overtly flirt, but we had that relationship where I’d be the loud, obnoxious student and she’d be the stern, merciless teacher with no patience for my bullshit. It was fun as fuck and time would pass by so smoothly, so swiftly when she was teaching. And Jesus Christ, her fucking legs.

“Holy shit,” said Dan after class one day. “That was just three hours of you two talking. That’s where my tuition money’s going.”

So she was brash and mean inside the classroom, but outside – holy shit, she was worse…

Alright, you know what, she’s a story for another day.

After school, I’d sit at the front desk and talk shop with the girls that worked there: the cute Filipina who I met first when applying to the school, the Japanese DJ began to drink with, the Chinese dollface who became a good friend. It became my favorite routine, to chat with them before and between periods, while Snarky Leggy Teacher would sit next to us and ignore me.

I made friends with other classmates, too, and after class we would go across the street to eat at the mall. Terminal 21 was a newly-built mall with some of the best food in Bangkok. The developer and management smartly lured in the city’s top street food vendors – who would in turn lure the city’s hungry denizens – to set up at the mall by giving them free rent. Then he put the food court on the top floor so us hungry denizens would have to traipse up 7 flights to be able to eat some top-quality, bottom-dollar grapow moo.

After lunch, I’d invariably have something to do. I was always busy, always on a schedule, even if that only meant going to McDonald’s, hitting the gym and making a movie before my massage. So I’d leave them, my foreigner friends who had nothing to do but wander the mall during the day. I’d jump onto my bike and head back east, then make a right on Soi 22 and change out of my jeans and button-up shirt, in that fucking mid-30-degree heat.

Uber Salesmen and Viet Weddings

I met the groom two weekends ago at a lounge in Downtown LA. He’s the cousin of my connection in Ho Chi Minh, a Viet-American ex-pat from Orange County who moved over there to start up private schools.

The groom was tatted up; ink peeked from under the sleeve and collar of his white dress shirt, indicating that they were probably connected and spanned his entire torso. “What do you do in LA?” I asked him. He did the numbers at Sony Pictures. “Damn, you’re the most gangster accountant I’ve ever seen,” I said. “Nah, we all look like this over there. No one cares.”

Extremely nice guy. By the end of the night we were hugging and he put me on the guest list for his wedding.

Last Saturday was the wedding. I took my time during the day, exploring the city on bike. I went up to Hollywood to see the throngs of tourists, and then rode down Sunset, past the bars and lounges and a Denny’s where I forced a sick girl to take me to, nearly a year ago. My weeks have turned into these unrelenting sprints at work, just non-stop 10 to 12 hours of staring at my laptop at the office and then staring at my laptop at home. So on weekends, I try to slow time down, slow life down back to the easy pace that I’m now accustomed to (it’s not working and I’m getting … scared).

For dinner, I had a simple noodle soup and played with the dog. Drank wine and watched Spy Game for the millionth time. Around 9pm I experimented with shirt-vest-blazer combinations and by 10pm I was in an uber headed for downtown.

The uber driver – god, they do this a lot over here – they talk about their other jobs and try to sell me shit. They try to network. A few were actors and producers, but on this night it was some Eastern European dude who did ironworks. He told me to go to his website on my iPhone, and I begrudgingly did with a scowl on my face. His website had samples of his work – mostly fences and the security bars over windows. I mean, it was cool stuff and I appreciate hand-made handicrafts – but what the hell was I supposed to do with this? I told him the many things I did for a living, and none of them included buying fucking fences.

He also told me he made tons of money as a hacker in the early 90’s. “Why’d you stop, if you were so successful at it?” “It was too boring for me. I was too good for it,” he said, as he made $7 for taking me from K-Town to a wedding hall downtown.

I stepped into the wedding venue and walked straight to the bar, ignoring the photo booth to my left and the dance floor to the right. As she made my vodka-ginger ale (they didn’t stock gin), I met Cara and two other guests, who immediately included me in their round of tequila shots.

I ran into the few people I knew, Private School and his brother who I met briefly in Bangkok, who did finance in Boston. He introduced me to his girlfriend, a 6’ tall Spanish bombshell who he met while in Barcelona, and I was immediately suspicious of how he could procure such a woman, because I was insanely envious.

Another guy I met in Saigon was there. While I lived out in Asia, he got sick of it and flew back home, to Los Angeles. He gave me the lowdown: “See those guys there? They’re affiliated with Bloods so good thing you’re wearing gray.”

“Are you serious, because I almost wore my blue suit today.”

“It’s good you didn’t,” he said, smiling, though I was unsure if he was joking. Really? Would I have been slain at a wedding for wearing Crip colors?

The bride was gorgeous. She came up to me, drunk, and asked, “Who are you?” I told her how I met her husband the weekend before, how I was friends with Private School and his brother and the other guy. “Do you even know my name?” she asked. I didn’t. Or I did, but I forgot. She asked me a few times before pointing up at the giant sign with her name on it. She was fake-furious and it made her even more gorgeous.

On the dance floor, some of the guys took off their shirts. They stood along the walls with solemn faces, swaying to the 90s hip hop with their dress shirts in their hands and showing off their full body tattoos. It was scary as fuck so I left.

Everything Was So Right.

June.

The second time that I saw her was a few days after the first. It was Friday night in downtown LA at a place called The Library. She was leaving in the morning for the rest of the weekend, to drive up the coast and lose herself in the trees.

Just days before – the first time that I saw her, at the heavy metal bar on Melrose – she asked, “Come with me?” “I can’t, I have a friend visiting from out of town.” I declined her invitation unaware that it was a fleeting opportunity that I will probably never have again, for the rest of my fucking life. I didn’t know that it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I didn’t know that she was a once-in-a-lifetime woman.

So on that Friday night I found myself amongst merry friends in a cheerful area of the lounge that was sectioned off for the birthday party we were all there for. Although it was my first Friday night in Los Angeles since last October, I didn’t care about the drinking or the small talk or the hipster crowd or the drunken white girls. I didn’t care about the friend who was visiting or the friends who lived there that I was seeing for the first time in months. I didn’t give a shit.

I only gave a shit about her and so I watched that goddamn door until she finally walked through it and then we hugged and smiled and chatted and she subtly brushed my arm with her shoulder and I delicately traced her stomach with the tip of my index finger.

And then we were drunk and in the hallway leading to the bathrooms. We stood in the corner and leaned up against the wall that was decked out in red velvet, maybe next to a payphone and a small table with a glass vase and fake white flowers.

And then we kissed and kissed and fucking kissed and I dug my hand under her jean jacket in order to caress the deep, tight arch of her back, my favorite part of her body, the place where I used to sleep.

And then I told her things that you’re not supposed to tell girls who don’t yet belong to you, but I thought it was clinched, I thought that the contracts were signed – everything was going so smooth, you know? – and so I told her who she was to me and the incomparable degree of how much I liked her and how rare it was.

“Once every five years, I swear to fucking god,” I told her. “Twice a decade,” I said, just in case she wanted to hear it on a different scale.

We kissed some more and then she left to sleep for her coastal retreat in the morning and then I blacked out, satisfied that everything was right in the world. Everything was so right.

Ephedrine Makes Me Sad

It’s not the fucking cocaine that was making me sad, it was because I’ve been on an ECA stack for around 6 weeks.

Here’s the thing:An ECA stack is ephedrine-caffeine and aspirin. It’s what weightlifters take to shed weight, using two mechanisms: it increases your core body temperature by, like, half a degree, and it kills hunger.

(Killing hunger isn’t necessarily a good thing when dieting, though. Conversely, if you starve yourself, you’ll retain more water, your metabolism will drop, and you’ll lose muscle – all ingredients that result in you looking skinny-fat. You’ll lose chest and gain love-handles, which is a shitty way to look.)

The ephedrine and caffeine jack you up, and the aspirin thins your blood so the shit flows through your system faster. Ephedrine’s illegal in the US but perfectly legal – and cheap as fuck – in Canada, because Americans make meth from it.

So I despise this stack. I supplement with caffeine on the regular, but the addition of ephedrine just makes me jittery and exhausted by the end of the day. But when you’re trying to cut weight, it’s a general rule that you have to do things that you despise. You’ll be hungry and tired and uncomfortable – and the people who can’t take that shit, or believe there’s a more pleasant way – are wrong.

Well, I suppose you could have a healthy lifestyle and lose weight slowly over a decade. Do you know who does that? Losers.

I despise this stack but I can’t deny it’s efficacy, which is why when I was in Toronto, I bought three bottles of ephedrine (100 pills for $4.99). I started the stack back in August and all the way up until this morning, when I noticed my bottle of ephedrine had 3 pills left.

The dosage is six pills per day (two every 5 hours), and you’re supposed to cycle the stack, like ten days off for every 20 days on. You need to give your body a chance to rest and recover, and you don’t want to damage your Central Nervous System.

I’ve been on it for 50 days straight – probably closer to 70 days, including the days that I didn’t dose. Jesus fucking Christ.
So while I’ve been happier than when I lived in Toronto – skipping winter for two years straight will do that – I’ve been sullen the past few weeks. That cloudy, hopeless feeling that I want to say is depression, but I know is not depression because to become happy, all I need to do is eat chicken McNuggets or do 10 deadlifts or some fucking simple shit. So I’m not clinically depressed, I’m just in a black hole of grief and malaise.

I thought, maybe it’s the full-time hours I’m pulling? But no, I love this shit, and I worked full-time hours while in Southeast Asia anyway.

I thought, maybe it’s the girl that I like that doesn’t like me back? But no, I’m used to that shit. I’ll either fight for her or move on and they’re both valid paths that I’m fine with.

I thought, maybe it’s the weather? But no, I live in fucking Los Angeles.

I have a dog, I cycle daily, I’m killing it at the gym, I have a new city to explore, I rediscovered PornHub.

It’s the ephedrine. It’s the fucking ECA stack, and I should’ve known because this happened all the time in the past when I jumped on it. Only before, it would happen after a quick three weeks, and I would take the bottle of leftover pills, douse them with water under the faucet, then toss them in the trash. Then I would eat sensibly and workout regularly like a fucking LOSER.

Thai Uber Driver

I opened the door to the silver Honda CRV outside the Whole Foods on 8th. I didn’t buy anything, I just went in to see what the offerings at their hot table were. It’s my favorite way to eat, at a buffet table where you can devise your own meal, where I can go heavy on the protein and zero on the carbs.

If I were to move into that penthouse loft around the corner, this would be where I’d eat 75% of my meals and so I wanted to scope it out, make sure it’s a Whole Foods with a good hot table. It matters: the Whole Foods in Venice Beach is shit; the Whole Foods in Playa Vista is spectacular. This one looked somewhere in between.

So I stepped into the silver Honda CRV and immediately got on my phone for the duration of the ride. The driver took a few turns on the tight downtown streets while complaining about the construction, the potholes, the pedestrians crossing the avenue while looking down on their phones.

“Look at this guy, so stupid crossing the street without looking!” he said. I ignored him, I was browsing fitness girls on Instagram. “He would be dead in my country.”

“Where’s your country?” I asked.

“Thailand,” he said, uninterested.

“Sawadee krap. Pood pasa Thai nit noi.” I said. Hello, I can speak a little Thai. “I lived in Thailand for the past two years.”

This got him happy and us chit-chatting about the country where his roots were, the country where my – wait, what’s the opposite of roots? Branches? Leaves? Whatever, the country where my fucking leaves were. Fuck off.

“Where did you live in Bangkok?” he asked.

“Sukhumvit Soi 26.”

“Oh, the rich area.”

“No, I was closer to Rama 4.”

“Oh, well, still the rich area.”

“I guess,” I said, figuring that I couldn’t convince a 60-year old Thai uber driver in Los Angeles that I wasn’t a rich man in Bangkok.

He asked about this and that neighborhood, mostly areas outside of the main core of Bangkok. “Oh, there’s a Central shopping mall there. A Tesco Lotus just opened across the street.” “Is there a McDonald’s yet? A Kentucky Fried Chicken or Pizza Hut?” He wanted to know the American Fast Food situation – which is probably a good barometer of how well an area’s doing.

“There’s this market, Rod Fai Market. If you keep going west and west, past Phra Kanong — ”

“You mean east.”

“No, west,” he said. “This market, Rod Fai, I used to work there as a teenager. I made ice cream”

“Yeah, that’s east. East on Sukhumvit, and across the bridge, way over at Seacon Square.”

“Oh you’re right,” he said. “Oh my god, I am forgetting my roots. I’m sorry.”

“No, don’t be sorry,” I said.

“Where did you live in Bangkok?” I asked him.

“Pathum Thani, near the old airport.”

“Ah, I know it. A girl I dated lived there.” Good Girl Local Girl lived there with her mother and her illegal monkey, in a newly built townhouse in a gated community, with a busted BMW 3-series on the driveway. This was before she became estranged and moved out. I still don’t know why. She went to live with her gay brother a few kilometers away, gave away her monkey, started a new job in downtown Bangkok and went from an iPhone 6s back to her old 4.

“My sister bought some land there. I was 15 years old so it was more than 40 years ago. Back then, one wah was 500 baht.” A wah is a Thai unit of measurement that they used back in the day, before metric took over. Old guys like this clung to it. 500 baht is $15. “People told her that she was crazy to buy in a swamp. That you couldn’t farm there so it was worthless.”

“How much is it worth now?”

“One wah now is around 30,000 baht.” About a thousand bucks. Makes sense – that area’s nice as fuck, now. Forty years ago, they didn’t know about McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chickens and Pizza Huts.

We drove down 8th and into Koreatown. “Is Normandie before or after Catalina?” he asked. I didn’t know. He knew LA streets like I knew Bangkok. We hit Irolo and he made a right, dropped me off next to the Togo’s sandwich on the Southeast corner where I had my bike locked to a parking meter.

“It was really good to talk to you,” he said.

“Krap khun krap,” I replied.

For The Dichotomy

I’m looking for a short-term apartment in LA and it’s proving to be hard as fuck. I’m not used to this many people, this level of competition for every single pad, from shitty, overpriced studios to pricey downtown lofts. There’s just so much demand is this goddamn city full of transients, of people from all over the world trying to make it, I guess.

Yesterday, I found a listing on Craigslist – where all the scammers congregate —

(Probably 95% of the landlords I’ve contacted through craigslist were scams. People with names and emails similar to legit real estate brokers and property managers as to fool anyone who tries to Google them (ie: Patrick Robert turns into Robert Patrik). They all immediately send application forms which are approved in twenty minutes – a good sign of a scam, what fucking office is that efficient? – and then a tenant agreement after, which states that my Fully Refundable Deposit should be promptly wire transferred into the following account. For some reason – well, out of gaping curiosity – I’ve kept some on a leash and reply back and forth to see what happens, to see how they’ll respond and how the scam will play out. I ask questions like, “Can I see the crystal blue ocean from the window?” and “I own a pot-bellied pig – is that okay?” and all the replies are yes yes yes yes of course yes no problem send the deposit right away to secure the property!)

So yesterday, I found a listing on Craigslist for a loft downtown. I emailed her and she responded and I was ho-hum about it, half-presuming it to be another scam. But then I ran into her listing on AirBNB — same name, phone number, address, photos – and texted her back saying, plainly, “Holy shit – you’re not a scam!” I arranged to see her place right after work.

I took an uber downtown. Ten minutes, $6. Alright, okay – so that’s the bright side to this level of competition in America, to having all of these fucking people: cheap ass services. So I ubered and arrived and told the valet parking attendant (!) that I was going up to the 11th floor. He called the elevator and there was no 11th floor button and instead a large PH to denote Penthouse.

I knocked on her door and a Pomeranian yapped. She opened the door and the pom leapt out at me – onto me – and I aggressively pet him like I suspect that all dogs like to be pet. When I looked up, the landlord was a blond-haired Asian hipster girl.

Razzle dazzle time!

I was wearing black slacks and a blue button-down, everything tailored to be form-fitting as fuck. I love my dress clothes because I don’t get to wear them often (prior to this job, while living on beaches in Southeast Asia), so I’m fairly conscientious about them. Everything’s tucked and crisp and clean, to an anal degree. I mean, I have fucking lotion in my desk at work that’s used solely on my ankles because they’re exposed when I sit with my legs crossed and my pant leg rises up. (Socks are for chumps.)

But although I look square and businessy, I do it exactly for that reason: the dichotomy. For the contrast between my straight-laced wardrobe and my filthy fucking mouth. (This is also why I need a full-sleeve tattoo.) Also, I had to look like I could afford her rent.

We talked for close to an hour, the first 20 minutes as we walked through her apartment and up to the rooftop deck. The rest of the time we were on her couch, drinking water from mason jars (hipster, see?). We had a shit-ton in common, from her working as a UX/UI designer (which is exactly what I’m doing for my client in LA) to her leaving LA to try the digital nomad lifestyle for a few months, which is why she was looking to rent out her apartment.

I mean, Jesus fucking Christ – we’re the same person.

So I regaled her tales of the past 2.5 years, bouncing between cities and working from cafes. I gave her hints on how to work (have a routine; stick to it), where to live in Bali (Seminyak), and said I’d introduce her to the friends I’ve made in every major and some minor cities in the region. I turned that shit on, laid it down thick, because that’s what it takes to get a fucking apartment in Los Angeles.

We went downstairs together, she had to walk her dog and I had to find the subway station. “Alright, so I have a few people interested, so I’ll let you know,” she said, as I shook her hand and let it linger.

“Yeah, awesome,” I replied. “And regardless of what happens with this apartment, get in touch and I’ll be happy to introduce you to people over there,” I lied.

It’s Monday and on Mondays I Don’t Eat

It’s Monday and on Mondays I don’t eat.

I’m also cold – even in LA – because when I’m fasting my circulation is poor and my heart can’t pump the blood all the way to my extremities. How I did this shit in the dead of winter in Toronto is beyond my comprehension (or my reality – I’ll never do that shit again).

So on Mondays I’m hungry and cold and generally in a somber – but super productive – mood, but today has a layer of palpable misery because I did too much coke last weekend. Well, not too much, but more like, too frequently. Like small, insignificant bumps, but 3 or 4 days in a row.

What happens after doing that shit for one night is that I wake up sad. I’ll roll out of bed at 7am and make it to the gym, but I’ll sit on a bench and stare in the mirror and try not to cry for no fucking reason. By evening I’ll snap out of it, jump on my bike and pedal that shit away. Not this time, not after feeding my brain chemically-induced dopamine for 72 hours. It’s 5pm on a Monday and I still haven’t snapped out of it.

Holy shit, is this how women feel on their periods?

It’s not even normal sad; it’s heartbreak sad – the worst fucking kind. I sit there and feel heartbroken, like I just parted ways with a 3-year girlfriend and the near-future is bleak and hopeless. What the fuck is that? What kind of evil withdrawal symptom is that?

So there you go: no more coke for me. Nothing’s worth heartbreak. Nothing’s worth even this stupid fake heartbreak, where I have no one to think of (so I think of them all).

But just three days ago, on a bright and hot Saturday morning, I jumped onto my bike and rode down 3rd St. until it ended in Beverly Hills, then jumped on Santa Monica Blvd. until I hit the ocean. I biked down the pier and took the the bike path to Venice Beach until the boardwalk ended at Marina Del Ray.

I was a fucking god that day, smiling ear-to-ear with my tank top off and tucked into the back of my red shorts, a bandana around my face and pedaling fiercely while laughing maniacally. I was so thoroughly gratified with life during those few hours that I could not be exhausted.

And a short three days later, I feel tired, desolate, depressed. The sun disappeared, the office AC is frigid, and I chose to masturbate twice instead of meditating in the morning.

Nothing to look forward to, nothing but bills and late paycheques and chatty coworkers and unwritten books and unattainable women who I shouldn’t have called out to meet, who I forced myself to not message the past two weeks, by any means necessary, but who I eventually messaged yesterday during my heartbreaking cocaine hangover, and who I will now have to meet while I’m in this exceptionally weak mental and emotional state and she’ll crush me for the third time this year.

Because I’ll ask for it and she’ll look me in the eye and say, “Just stay down,” and I’ll say, “Never,” and she’ll say, “You’re asking for it,” and I’ll say, “Give me your best shot,” and she will and I’ll die.