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It's a fine line between living for the moment and being a sociopath.

Patricia B McConnell: For The Love Of A Dog.

Pema Chodron: The Places That Scare You

Daniel Wallace: Mr Sebastian & the Negro Magician

All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. --Pablo Neruda

Monday, April 17, 2000

LA Unconfidential #3

L.A. Unconfidential
April 17, 2000

Don’t take anybody’s word that it don’t rain in southern California. I don’t know why every freakin’ Ally McBeal episode has to end with her walking down a Boston sidewalk in some kind of precipitation but, tonight, I looked out my Los Angeles window and felt like she and I were in the same town. When I was packing in Sydney, a few weeks ago, I looked at my Drizabone and my leather jacket, gave a chuckle, and shoved ‘em in a box to be shipped—literally, by ship. Now, Smartypants isn’t chuckling. I’m rifling through my bags this morning trying to find anything the least bit water repellent.

This dispatch will be a short one. I’ve been sinking all my spare time into trying to find a place to live. It’s one of my least favorite things to do: deal with real estate agents in a tight housing market. Just behind the smile and the handshake is a functioning brain solving the riddle “How can I screw this guy just a little more?” On the other hand, it’s amazing how many nice folks you run into when wandering around their apartment buildings. I’m sure this isn’t uniquely American or Californian but, damn, I’ve never had so many people strike up a conversation to tell me how wonderful their worlds are. “Hi! You lookin’ at an apartment in the building? Hey, you’ll love it here. Everybody’s real nice.”

I’m sure they are…and I hope they had some of their rent somewhere other than the stock market. I’m not usually superstitious, but no sooner had I written about the market being ready for rehab, in the last Unconfidential, than it decides to get intimate with the world’s worst withdrawal symptoms. The market crashed big on Friday; by Saturday people were calling me asking how that’s going to affect my future. Fortunately, we’re just slightly better funded than that. So, like, I’m good at least through the end of next week.

I’m in the midst of inking the first few important content deals for the business. For those of you who didn’t understand a word of that sentence, hears the translation: I’m buying a bunch of indexed material (text and pictures, mostly) that visitors to our site will want to access. There are a couple of ways to give our visitors access to the information they want: write it for them, buy it (or, really, rent it) from someone else and give it to them, or provide links to it on someone else’s site. We want to rent a bunch of stuff. Part of my first couple of weeks was spent finding the best stuff. Now, we’re negotiating with the folks who own it. It’s fun. On the other hand, it’s not that hard. Only time will tell if I pay too much. Fortunately, given the markets’ gymnastics, it’s a good time for any one who has actual money. It’s nice to be the customer, too, after four years as a client servant.

This weekend is Easter. Sylvana’s coming over to spend a week. Maybe I won’t be such a dweeb for seven days. We’ll be spending Easter weekend with my mom in San Diego. Beach. Walks. Mom talking about sex. The usual.

Being a relatively short drive from my mom is different than you might think. My sister, Sandy, was jubilant when I arrived in California—not because she was happy to have me closer to her—but because she figured she’d finally have someone who would understand what it’s like to live near Mom, but never get to see her…because Mom’s always gallivanting. I arrived in LA, had a celebratory phone call with Mom, then she choofed off to Baja. So, I’ve been about 90 miles from Mom’s house for the last three weeks, after ten years in Australia, and I still haven’t seen her. She just got back from Baja, so I’ll see her for Easter, then she’s off to Alaska. Who knows when we’ll catch up again? As my old workmate Miranda used to say: “Bless her.” I love having a mom everybody likes hearing stories about.

Before I check out for the week, I’d just like to course-correct something. Some folks have mentioned that these notes sound a bit down. Hang with me, fellas. I write these at my most reflective. Usually, you’re my Saturday night company, maybe after a movie and a quiet dinner for one. So, yeah, you’re getting the questioning, searching Houston, thinking about the trade-offs of life, the inspiration and tragedy of choices, and the wonder of the unknown that is so close at hand. You’re right; you’re not getting the unabashedly celebratory Houston in these notes—the one that aspires to grope each new day with giddy mischief. But you’re more than welcome to come visit him.

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