Tag Archives: travel

No Reservations: Why This One Has Me Panicking

My arms feel tingly. My vision’s weird. I don’t remember how much water I’ve had today and there’s a dull ache in my temples.

I’m feeling a bit lightheaded. Maybe you should drive. 

My phone woke me up at 6am. I jumped outta bed, walked to the phone, and when I saw the message was from a friend sent to an ongoing group text, I said, out loud, “Ya can’t message me now, man.” An hour later, when I was standing in my bathroom getting ready to put my face on, I finally looked at the text. There was a link to some real bad news. Anthony Bourdain. Gone. Cause of death: suicide.

The intensity of my reaction startled me. My knees didn’t go weak, but my ankles did. I leaned over my bathroom counter and planted my elbows against the tile to steady myself. It wasn’t true. He wouldn’t do that. How do they know?

Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 2.54.52 PM

I thought about Asia Argento and how Goddamn in love she and Anthony looked. I thought about Marc Maron and imagined him frantically re-uploading their WTF interview. I thought about tuna tartare. I thought about eating iguanas. I thought about shooting heroin. I thought about Iggy Pop, who once looked into a crowd of people at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles and reminded all of us that, “junkies are people, too.”

By the time I got to work and sat down at my desk, I was angry. I was so, so angry at Goddamn Anthony Bourdain. He didn’t owe me anything, but he owed a lot to at least a handful of people. Still, why should I care? It’s not really my business. I didn’t really know him. I’m not really an expert on anything. What the Hell do I know about sadness?

And then, I cried.

I know enough about sadness to know that if you get to a certain point, you think fucked up things. Something might cross your mind that scares the Hell outta you, but if you’re lucky, it’ll scare you straight. “Why am I thinking this way? That’s not me. I need some sun.” It happens. And while it’s maybe not something to bring up on a Wednesday morning to a co-worker you hardly know, it’s also nothing to feel ashamed about. Life is hard. No one knows what’s going on. For fuck’s sake, we’re in space. Name something scarier than that.

For as much of a dork and a jerk and a child as Anthony Bourdain could absolutely be, I loved that dude. Dork. Jerk. Child. I mean all this with Love. I loved dorky Bourdain, even when I kinda couldn’t stand him. I loved hearing him talk about Hunter S. Thompson as if he were just another college kid sneaking his first cigarette. I loved hearing him namedrop all the cool bands he liked. I loved hearing him say “Fuck” one too many times. It was hilarious. And endearing. Sometimes, yeah, it was annoying. But so what? A lot of people I love can display a good mix of those qualities, and hey, I’m sure I can, too.

I think that’s a big part of it. Watching his show was like hanging out with your slightly nerdy, undeniably smart friend who was always down for a good fuckin’ time. I never just watched him: I laughed with him and listened to him and rolled my eyes at him and cursed at him. “I feel like I’m watching the Keith Richards of egg flipping!” “Shut the fuck up, Bourdain.” 

Sometimes you hear something terrible like this and you can’t help but feel unsurprised. That might sound fucked up, and look, I’m not saying it isn’t, but do you know what I mean? You’re still in shock, but all the dots connect. The behavior adds up. Not here. Not on the surface. I’m not the only person saying this. I listened to NPR this morning, just like you did. “Shocked.” That’s the word they’re all using. And yes, there’s always more to the story. I know. But this whole thing, though? This whole thing is making me feel creepy. I have the creeps. I’m being reminded that we never have the whole story. Unhelpful. Unfair. Unkind.

This was a person who managed to elevate an art form by taking it down a notch. He got real about food criticism. Seriously, food criticism. How ridiculous, right? Exactly. But all that honesty about hard times in NYC and sweating away in frantic kitchens and kicking drug addiction and struggling with depression didn’t translate into the strength to be honest about just how bad it was.

Or hey, maybe he was honest about it, but not on camera. Or on paper. Maybe that was private. Either way, I lived to see another frustrating, stressful, wonderful day, and Anthony Bourdain did not.

What does it take to be happy? What does it take to silence the bullshit? Clearly not money. Not the adoration of millions. Not travel. Not food. Not love. On camera, he had the kind of life that most of us will only dream of having. Off camera…I guess we’ll never really know.

I’m curious to see what happens next. I’m curious to see who cries “mental health.” This stuff isn’t new, and from the looks of it, it’s on the rise. Why? Why are some people able to come to the edge of the cliff and then wake the fuck up?

In a nutshell, the sad truth is this: I hate to think about that cool motherfucker with the shit-eating grin and know that he was unhappy. It hurts. It hurts a Goddamn lot. His show made the world, of all places, look like paradise. Paradise.

Such a shock. Such a bummer. Such a waste.

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The Scuzzy Sons-of-Bitches Who Light Up My Life Part VI: Jack Kerouac

Scuzzy Son-of-a-Bitch #6:


Jack Kerouac

My Future Be-Bop Boyfriend

(2004)

My high school boyfriend bought me a poster of Jack Kerouac during our senior year.  I had never even read any Jack Kerouac — I was more into Allen Ginsberg’s homosexual rages and Charles Bukowski’s drunken stupors.  Nonetheless, he found a Jack Kerouac poster and thought of me.

He brought it to me one night when all I wanted to do was sit around and feel sorry for myself.  The school year had begun with a bang, to say the least.  I was Drama Club President (go ahead and laugh at me), as well as Co Editor-in-Chief of the high school newspaper (laugh harder).  I had to prepare for our school’s upcoming “Cabaret Night,” as I was hosting the prestigious event and I wanted to do a good job.  There was also the issue of mandatory play rehearsal until 5pm on top of writing a Goddamn play for the spring Murder Mystery Dinner and performing in improv shows every other Friday night.  Add to all this the horrible fucking reality of college applications and yeah, I was one angsty 17 year old.

I was sprawled on my bed moping about how I was losing touch with my friends and blah blah when I heard the familiar knock at the door.  My boyfriend always knocked — he never ever rang the doorbell.  My mom let him in, and he came upstairs and presented me with this awesome fucking poster.

“Where did you get this?” I asked.

“Cost Plus,” he said.

“What were you doing at Cost Plus?”

“They have the coolest chocolate,” he said.

He then procured a small tin of green tea chocolate and offered me a piece.  I didn’t fall in love with it, but I could understand why he did.  It was the same reason he chewed clove gum and ginger gum and got excited whenever he was in a place that carried Beeman’s.  He dug the weird sodas at BevMo and always opted for anything infused with chili powder or licorice.  He loved used record stores and antique stores and was always giving me dusty old Tom Jones albums because he knew my friends and I thought Tom Jones was funny.

I thanked him for the poster and told him why I was sad.  He gave me a back massage while I laid on my stomach, my bedroom door wide open for my parents’ peace of mind.

During Christmas vacation, I tried to read On the Road.  I got as far as Sal Paradise’s affair with the beautiful Mexican woman and their adventures in cotton-picking.  It was all very beautiful and very Beat, but once school started and it was time to focus on the next project, I had to put Jack down.

(2006)

During my freshman year of college I nabbed a brand new boyfriend who also gave me cute presents.  On Christmas he gave me ceramic figurine of a hummingbird, which was an inside reference to my very first panic attack — an event he got to witness one morning before the sun was even out.  On Saint Patrick’s day he gave me a ring that he had found when he was in middle school and vowed he would one day give to a special girl.  On Easter he sneaked into my room and hid candy eggs for me to find, which made some of the other girls in my dorm “Ooooh” and “Eeee!” and “You lucky bitch!”

He had never heard of Jack.  He didn’t read poetry.  He didn’t read.  I tried and tried to at least get him to read “Howl,” but he always refused.  One night, I finally got him to lie down with me and listen to a recording of Ginsberg reading it.  When it was over, the only comment my boyfriend offered was, “I liked the part about the watches.”  I tried to talk about societal revolutions and war and change, but the conversation didn’t last long.  I refused to give up, so I tried showing him Easy Rider.  When the movie was over all he had to say was, “You’re such a hippie.”

He also didn’t want to watch all the Beat Generation documentaries I rented on Netflix that year.  I couldn’t even get him to watch No Direction Home, even though his roommate had exposed him to Bob Dylan’s music, which my boyfriend claimed to like.  For the most part, anything having to do with poetry or music or counterculture was anathema to him.  This led to many nights of,

“You should come hang out downstairs.”

“No.  I wanna watch my movie.”

“Well come down afterward.”

“Nope.  I’m sleepin’ in my own bed tonight.”

“But I wanna see you.”

“Then watch the movie with me.”

“But I hate hippies.”

“The Beats weren’t hippies.”

Eventually he would go to his room and I would go to mine.  I would watch something about The Beats and he would do something else.  When the movie was over I would lean over to turn on the light, and Holy Metaphors!, I would be face to face with the Jack poster.

This behavior led to writing sentimental journal entries and scribbling short poems in the margins of my lecture notes and drinking way too much coffee and hoping that one day I would meet someone who really got me.  We’d go to San Francisco on the weekends and eat seafood and drink red wine and wander the streets tossing dimes to the bums and scat-diddly-dat-dat-datting back and forth in crazy love.

In August, one month before sophomore year started, I gave all the cute presents back and called the whole thing off.   One day, I came across some old CD’s of Jack reading his poetry with Steve Allen playing piano in the background.  I knew that we owned the CD’s because I had seem them in my mother’s bedroom before, but I had never thought to steal them.  Newly single and newly inspired, I brought them up to school with me in September and listened to “October in the Railroad Earth” while I pinned pictures of Johnny Depp to my bedroom walls.

Soon after school began, my mom took a trip up to Santa Cruz to visit me.  Well, okay, she wanted to check on me.  The split with the hippie hater had been a tough one, and my mom didn’t want me to spend my first weekend back in Santa Cruz sitting in my room and crying about some guy.  She drove up on Friday and spent the night, and the next morning she drove us to San Francisco.  We stayed in a small room at the Hotel Bohème in North Beach, and mom took me to City Lights and bought me Beatnik postcards.  We wandered into The Beat Museum, where we were given a tour by the owner.  He also showed us THIS:

On Monday morning, when mom drove home and left me to get on with my life, I felt absolutely cured.  I didn’t give a shit about boyfriend or ex-boyfriends.  Everything was going to be fine.  Everything was fine.  All I wanted to do was write poetry, and all I needed was my Jack Kerouac and Steve Allen CD.

(2012)

A few months ago, I quit my job and went on a road trip up north.  Before I left, I checked out an audiobook of On the Road.  I listened to it all the way to Santa Cruz, then a few days later I listened to it on my way to Menlo Park.  When it was time to drive to Alameda I put on The Dresden Dolls, and then when it was time to drive to San Francisco I listened to my new copy of Let Love In.

In San Francisco I ate dim sum in Chinatown and wandered around North Beach drinking Espresso and taking pictures of graffiti.  I had drinks at Cafe Vesuvio and scribbled in a notebook I bought on Valencia.  I was alone, and I was free, and I was happy.

One evening I crashed into the Beat Museum and asked the guy behind the counter if he had access to the Poet of the Month archives.  I told him that I had won Honorable Mention twice in 2007, and that I would like to have copies of my poems.  He explained that he didn’t have physical copies, but he could try to find them for me online.  He worked on his computer for about ten minutes before saying, “I found your poem from April.”  I said, “There’s one from May, too.”  He looked at his computer, then said to me, “That page has been corrupted.”  My face fell.  He said, “I can recover it.  Give me a second.”

About twenty minutes later, he announced that he had fixed the problem and I now had web access to my poem.  I thanked him profusely and bought some merchandise so I wouldn’t seem like a total asshole.

I was never able to find my poem online, but it’s okay.  Somehow, I feel that if I ever found it and read it, I would only see the stupid mistakes and the dorky word choices.  I would criticize myself, and I don’t want to do that.  Instead, I prefer to think that a perfect poem written by a romantic 20-year-old girl is somewhere out there floating around in the informational abyss, never to be seen by human eyes.  I think Jack would like that.

And I never finished listening to On the Road.  I think Jack would like that, too.

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Anybody Want Anything?

want |wänt; wônt|

verb

1 [ trans. ] have a desire to possess or do (something); wish for : I want an apple | [with infinitive ] we want to go to the beach | [ trans. ] she wanted me to go to her room | [ intrans. ] I’ll give you a lift into town if you want.

     • desire (someone) sexually : I’ve wanted you since the first moment I saw you.

noun

1 chiefly archaic; a lack or deficiency of something: Victorian houses which are in want of repair | it won’t be through want of trying.

     • the state of being poor and in need of essentials; poverty : freedom from want.

2 a desire for something : the expression of our wants and desires.

Ever heard of California Chicken Cafe?  It’s a restaurant chain here in Southern Cali.  Most everything on the menu involves chicken, and, rest assured, the items that don’t contain chicken contain avocado.  You can also add chicken to any non-chicken item for $1.75.

You don’t know what you’re missing.  Really.  ::Cough::

California Chicken Cafe is a popular lunch option at the office where I work.  I, myself, rarely participate in the California Chicken Cafe extravaganzas.  No, I don’t think I’m better than everyone, I just can’t be spendin’ money on shit that doesn’t bring me immense joy.  Plus, I spent all my money on baked clams and cannoli last week at San Gennaro in New York City.

I regret nothing.

Today, a co-worker was about to make a chicken run when he suddenly cried out, “Anybody else want anything from California?”

There was a pause, and then I asked, “From California?”

“Yeah.”

I thought for a moment, and then said, “I want a house near the ocean.”

My co-worker laughed.

“No, no, as in, do you want anything from California Chicken Cafe.”

I didn’t want any damn chicken.  I did, however, proceed to ramble about some of the things I do, in fact, want.  When it was time for me to shut up and get back to work, the rambling continued in my head.

I now present to you Ten Random Things I Want.  Some of them are unique to California, and some of them…well…

♥♥♥

Ten Random Things I Want

by Stephanie Callas

10.

I want a house near the ocean.  I will live there by my damn self until I decide I want company.  I have not yet decided the exact location of this house, but I know it will be North of Pismo.  It will be impeccably decorated, and feature a killer sound system.

9.

I want my car to be paid the Hell off.  No more monthly car payments.  None.

8.

I want a bulldog.  An English Bulldog.  I will name him Brando and he will be my buddy.  He will be a healthy boy, with no respiratory problems or hip dysplasia, and he will not die of heatstroke like so many English Bulldogs tend to do.  He will be chubby and cute and he will love The Godfather as much as I do.

7.

I want to know how to program computer viruses.   Ya never know when ya may need to rip someone off.

6.

I want the cryogenically frozen body of Walt Disney.  People will come from all over the world just to get a glimpse of it, and I will charge admission based on my personal prejudices.  60-year-old man in an Armani suit with a 23-year-old socialite on his arm?  $10,000.  Cute hippie-boy with a beard and a beanie who wants to stop and see The Walt on his way to Mexico?  Admission is free!  (This is, of course, not including the food and wine he will inevitably purchase in his effort to seduce me).

5.

I want to be able to travel.  I’m talkin’ far and wide.  I want to wake up, decide that I should spend the weekend in Barcelona drinking from a wine skin and speaking in an English accent and introducing myself as Brett, and then go do it.

4.

I want to be friends with John Waters.  I want to be on a first name basis with him.  When he’s not visiting me in my fabulous house by the ocean, he will be sending me funny text messages and buying me semi-perverted presents.  We will Skype every Monday morning while we’re having our coffee.  He will say things like, “Mondays are just such a DRAG,” and I will say, “Honey, you WISH you were a DRAG,” and he will say, “Honey, the world couldn’t HANDLE all THIS in DRAG,” and I will say, “Honey, you WISH the world couldn’t handle YOU in DRAG”…

3.

I want to speak fluent French.  I will go to Farmer’s Markets all over the world and ONLY speak French.

2.

I want a box of cannoli from Ferrara’s bakery to be delivered to my door every Friday night.  FRESH.  I want them to be all different varieties — regular, chocolate, Nutella, pistachio — and they will all have perfect shells and perfect filling.  I will serve the cannoli to all of my fabulous dinner guests.  Some parties will be small, and others will put Woodstock to shame.  Brando will be everyone’s favorite couch companion, and John Waters will bring out everyone’s inner freak.  Tom Waits will be playing the piano and Patti Smith will be playing the clarinet.  Peter O’Toole will be serving champagne and Leonard Cohen will be handing out white lilies.  Nick Cave and Barbara Streisand will perform duets that bring the guests to their knees in cathartic abandon.  My parents will be excited to be out of the house and my brothers will be happy to be away from school and work, even though school and work is treating them just fine.  All my friends will bring fabulous dates — no assholes, no losers, no fuddy-duddies — and those who do not will be more than thrilled to spend an evening unattached and irresponsible.  No one will get drunk, and everyone will get happy.  The next morning, I won’t have to do one bit of cleaning.  While everyone is driving home, not one person will be thinking about work problems or school problems or money problems or family problems or marriage problems or credit card problems or plumbing problems or love problems.  No one will think, “I should have just stayed home and studied,” or, “I should have stayed in and searched for a new job,” or, “I wish that guy had called me back,” or, “I wish that girl hadn’t been there.”  All they will be thinking is, “I can’t believe I got a picture with the cryogenically frozen body of Walt Disney.”

1.

I guess it goes without say that I want World Peace, so fuck it — I want Don Draper.

The End?

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