Self Opposition

I want you to see me; but I want to be left alone. I want you to call me; and I don’t want to answer the phone. I want you to knock at my door; and I want to hide under the covers. Invite me to your party; so I can tell you I have other plans. Give me a job; so I can spit in your face and tell you I’m entitled to more. Let me talk to you through a computer; so I don’t have to look you in the eye. Let me forget what it is to be alive; so that I can escape into a lush dream where I can control when the sun sets.

Fear.

In March of 2015 I decided to go camping alone in Joshua Tree. I’d just seen “Tracks” (2013) depicting the true story of Robyn Davidson and her solo “1,700-mile trek across the deserts of west Australia”[1] with four camels and her dog, Diggity. Earlier that year I crossed the United States from New York to California — I employed both a car and a friend’s company for the journey — and felt the need to get back on the road. “Tracks” gave me the motivation I needed plus I was in desperate need of some quiet, solitary beauty.

However, in the weeks leading up to the trip, I developed a great fear over the journey. I was heading into Joshua Tree’s backcountry alone for the first time and I had no idea what to expect. I’d camped alone only once before that — along the sandy beaches of the Outer Banks off the coast of North Carolina — and suddenly I felt completely out of my depth.

I imagined all kinds of things. My mind leapt into gear and found this a perfect opportunity to try and scare me out of going. I spent hours deep diving through horror stories on YouTube. I imagined a desert floor crawling with rattlesnakes, tarantulas, scorpions all out to kill me and by the slim chance I didn’t get bit by something I’d surely get turned around somewhere and die of heat exposure and dehydration. They’d find my sun-dried lifeless body a half-mile from civilization and the Rangers would shake their heads, chuckle and say, “City folk.”

And so in preparation I learned how to use a compass[2], what foods to pack, and how much water to bring. I researched the animal life in the area and how to stay away from them. I took notes. I bought maps. I was prepared.

Still, the whole drive out there on I-10 my heart was pounding: Why was I even doing? Had I death wish? How had other people survived this ordeal? What would my movie be called? “18 Hours?” Would Danny Boyle direct it, too?

But then something strange happened.

Almost as soon as I’d entered the park and walked into the welcome center, all that fear I’d had simply vanished. My heart slowed and my vision and breathing returned to normal. I was overcome by the incomprehensible majestic beauty of the park all around me and I’d easily surrendered over to the experience of actually being there, fully present for whatever adventures actually awaited.

My mind likes to tell me life is a scary place when, most often, if I just put my feet on the ground, I can see how beautiful it all really is.

And, unfortunately, I never saw any rattlesnakes, tarantulas, or scorpions.

 

[1] Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robyn_Davidson

[2] By “learned to use” I mean generally how to hold, sight mountains, and get vague directional readings.

Cover Letter.

To Whom It May Concern:

I am formally applying for the position of goat herder within your company. Do you have a company? LLC? I couldn’t find any mention of you on Google. No matter either way as I am still interested.

Unfortunately, I currently do not have any education or training within the field of goat herding but, you see, I’m looking for a new line of work and since I don’t really know where to start, I figured I might as well try to do something that looked fulfilling from a movie I saw once.

Plus I like goats. Or at least I think I do. I think I petted one once at a petting zoo when I was ten and even though that was — years ago it was a defining moment in my formative years I like to think.

Maybe you’re confused as to why someone with my formal corporate training in marketing and advertising — twelve years of graphic design and art direction, an excellent portfolio working for some of the best brands in the business — would want to leave that salary and herd goats?

Well, you see, this isn’t the future I was promised and since, as it seems currently, that all bets are off, I figure I might as well put all my talent and drive into something a little more fulfilling. Something that has a lot of hours outdoors, working with animals, enjoying the elements. Because if I have to sit in a chair for eight hours one more day I’m afraid that I might implode or spontaneously combust and when they’re selling museum tickets to my mummified room and tourists are standing outside just beyond the velvet rope they’ll see a little charred artist’s recreation of me and the Tour Guide will say:

“He never left.”

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

— J.

 

 

Get Ready.

Wamp wamp wamp…

The morning alarm rips me from my dream and thrusts me into the day with an unfortunate but acceptable violence, like the instant discomfort of a cold shower.

I leap across the room and fumble with my phone trying to minimize the damage to her sleep and even though I told myself I wouldn’t do it, since I’m already holding it, the first thing I do is check my phone for emails, messages, Instagram likes, Facebook comments, et al. So much has happened without my knowledge or approval or understanding.

Beep…

There is a fire alarm occasionally beeping, in need of a battery somewhere in my building.

Anxiety.

Breathe.

Ooh-ooh ahhh oohh…

The tenant in the adjacent building is practicing his R&B scales again. Two years of this shit. It’s time to move.

I put on clothes in attempt to look cool with two-year old Gap Vintage and I leave her in bed and I walk to my car and—

Wee-yo wee-yo wee-yo…

—several sirens pass at high speeds on Vine street.

It’s 7:30 AM and there’s already traffic.

I check my phone again to look at The Times because that’s what adults do and another story on Russ—

Fuck you! You fucking cunt-face motherfucker! A slightly irate driver in an SUV offers another in a Tesla.

I shake off the vitriol, get into my car and—

Ding!

—my car finds it urgent to beep at me, notifying me that I am five hundred miles overdue for service. Then—

Ding!

—it beeps again to tell me to fasten my seatbelt. These dings also come with urgent alarm signs, telling my brain that the world is quickly coming to end.

I turn the car on and pull away from the curb and—

Boo-ca-doo-wa-beep-bop-dah-doop-doop—

My phone rings. Dammit I thought it was on silent. Barclaycard is vicious and by now my heart is now pounding and my breathing is matching that of a high-speed runner and my brain is swollen and pressed up against my skull and every sensation coming into my body sends gigawatts of voltage through my body and I check the time again and—

7:36 AM.