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Couch #3 - Julia

Couch #3 – Julia and Jack (and Mavis) – June 2nd, 2010

Couch #3 belongs to Julia.  The Cowboy Couch was found at Goodwill, who thought it was broken.  It cost $19.99 plus $10 to have it moved.   Julia lives in a house in Glendale, California with her son,  Jack, age 6, and the Sophia Loren of bulldogs, Mavis.  Jack is named after Ramblin’ Jack Elliot.  She is my friend, business partner, and a cosmetic brain surgeon.  We met last winter on the almighty facebook and finally met in person in March.  Julia has bungee jumped over 200 times.  Her and Jack’s favorite song is “I’d Rather Have You” by Johnny Cash.   Her favorite films include “Cinema Paradiso” and “The Singing Detective”, the original.  She likes chocolate.

I arrived back at my apartment on June 2nd intent on not dragging this out another day.  The plan was to load up the car, make one last trip to my friend John’s place in Venice, load up the car with the things I would be taking with me, hand over my keys, and be on my way.   Now, I should apologize here.  This was 5 days ago and I made no notes of the days events until I arrived at Julia’s and even then, not too many.  At this point I wanted to move on with my life and get started with this project and notes took precious time.  I was also exhausted.  That all being said, as you may have read my “Too Much Stuff” post, most of the events and feelings regarding the move  were purged when I wrote that.   Anyway, where was I, oh yeah, I got a late start and needed coffee and a banana from 7-11.  I also needed more boxes from Office Depot.  I got a package of 3, and would need 3 more later.  After making these pit stops, I finally was at the apartment.  I quickly boxed up the remaining items by literally dumping a drawer into each box. Posters were rolled up together.  Garbage was tossed into a bag and taken to the dumpster.  A few items, including a perfectly working vacuum, a box of books, and an old Sega Saturn with 6 games, were put aside for Goodwill.  There was no more time to try to give these things to a needy friend.  As boxes were ready they were loaded into my car.  These boxes included a box which contains most of my negatives and a plastic bin which contains most of photos.  These are not just the photos that I’ve taken, but the photos of me since I was a baby.  This is my most valuable possession.  I’ve sometimes thought that if I were to awake with my apartment on fire, I would grab this box, plus my laptop, and my camera.  Which is why this bin sits at the apartment of one of my best friends and not in my storage space.   Anyhow, after loading these things up and when the car became close to full, I loaded up the Goodwill items and ran them up the street.    I then returned home and loaded up whatever else needed to go to Venice.

At this point, my landlord arrived.  It was 12:30pm.  I had hoped to be finished by this point.  I informed him that I would run these things to my friend’s place and then would return to load up the remaining items and clean out the trash.   I anticipated it would take me an hour and a half.   He agreed to wait around.  Other than the still malfunctioning light on the on-ramp at La Brea that I had previously mentioned, the trip to Venice was fairly uneventful.  John and a friend of his assisted me in unloading the boxes and the posters.  I handed over a few small items that I thought that they could use and was on my way back to Hollywood.  However, upon getting on to the 10 freeway, I had a dead stop.  Apparently there had been some sort of traffic accident and we weren’t going anywhere.  Again, a blood vessel was about to burst in my head.  I exited the highway as soon as I could and decided to take my chances on local streets.  That was not much better, but it was better.  Finally, nearly 2 1/2 hours later, I returned to the apartment.  My landlord decided it was going to take me too much longer for him to wait and he wanted to beat the traffic home.  I convinced him that I would be quick.  After all, I still had a shower to take and a couch to get to and time was running short.  Now, my landlord knew that I was having some financial difficulties.  After all, in April, for the first time in the 11 years that I had lived there, I was late with the rent.  What my landlord was unaware of, was that I would be sleeping on couches for two months in order to save on the rent and get caught up on my other bills.  On June 1st, the day before, he found all of that out when I explained my situation in a heated and expletive laden outburst.  Part of it was the stress of moving.  Part of it was due to the lack of sleep.  And still part of it was that I was tired of his shrewd behavior and avoidance of committing to any sort of estimate of what the cleaning and damages would cost.  I should clarify here, that while I told him I was sleeping on couches for two months, I did not tell him about this project, and I also did not tell him that I had been looking to move out of his building regardless.  I  was done with that apartment and that neighborhood and needed a change.  So at that moment  when he was anxious to get home and leave to me to finish,  but also aware of my situation, I was able to convince him to stay and to return a majority of my deposit on the spot.  He also agreed to let me keep the key to the gate and to the mailbox.  I had not yet set up my P.O. Box and forwarded my mail and was awaiting an unemployment check and was quite glad that I would have access for the time being.  He then left me to take care of the rest, which I was able to within less than an hour.   I then left the remote for my parking spot, various sets of keys to the apartment and building, including some which were no longer useful, and was on my way.

Grabbing the last set of clean clothes that I had along, I headed off to the gym to take a shower and feel human again.  After a brief stop at 7-11 for a vitamin water , and a stop at Rite-Aid mostly for a set of nail clippers, I was on my way to meet Julia and Jack.  Now as I was making my way there, I received a text from Julia informing me that Jack was losing his first tooth and that I should hurry if should want to capture it.   I was too far away at the time and the tooth was out  before I even left the gym.  But when I arrived at their home, I was greeted by Jack with a gap where his tooth used to be.   I hadn’t met Jack before this day.  I had seen a million photos of him, and heard as many stories, but we had not met.  However, when we did meet, I knew we would be fast friends.  After all I was willing to listen to him describe his video games and didn’t ask to play them myself.  After dropping my stuff off, the three of us hopped in Julia’s car and headed off for dinner.  We would be meeting her friend Grey and having Cuban food.  While Grey was the friend that we initially had in common on facebook,  I had never actually met her.  So, we exchanged pleasantries and discussed the wonder of photography  and Julia, as well as the project, but mostly Grey and Julia chatted and Jack and I further discussed video games and how delicious fried bananas were.  Grey exited early and after dinner,  Jack was greeted with a surprise.  It seems that the tooth fairy had already gotten word about Jack losing his first tooth and sent him a flan at the restaurant.  He was quite surprised and curious about it and had many questions, most of which Julia was able to come up with some sort of answer that made perfect sense.  We quickly finished the desert and headed back to their home and mine for the night.  When we arrived back we soon noticed how late it was getting.  If we were to take photos, we needed to do it then as Jack had to go to bed.   As I was not only exhausted, but also in a food coma, I didn’t exactly spring into action, but I did get moving and photos were taken of  everyone including Mavis, their bulldog.  A few of these photos are featured in this blog, and more will be up soon.  With Jack off to bed, it was time for the tooth fairy to make an appearance.  Money was placed into a small bag along with some fairy dust, which was also scattered in various places around the room.  Jack was also smothered in kisses and an note was left on his mirror.  Julia made quite a show of it was quite impressive.  After all of this, and some further conversation, it was time for bed and my long and exhausting day, I was more than ready.

The next morning I was awoken very early.  Jack is an early riser and got out of bed early and headed off to his Mom’s room.  However, he soon returned, video game in hand, and plopped himself down on the couch where I was sleeping.  Half awake I listened to him describe the adventure that was unfolding on the game as  well as discussing how the tooth fairy had gotten into his room and what she had left him.  Julia made some coffee and I managed to get myself up and moving.  Jack had to go to school and we had to leave.  We made our way to school, and I rode in the back of the car with Jack.  We played with Batman toys and as we approached the school, I noticed that Jack was a bit somber.  While he liked school, we were having fun and he didn’t want it to end.  Well, neither did I.  That kid is quite a character and just remembering all of this brings a smile to my face.

After dropping Jack off at school, Julia and I ran a couple of errands and went to Starbucks to camp out and work.  She had incorporated an occasional journey there in order to get herself out of the house.  That’s something I should have done long ago and will now start doing more regularly.  Also, as her internet was down, if we wanted to check email and get online, it was necessary stop.  After a few hours of that, we headed back to her house for some more photos, an interview, and some laundry.  I desperately needed clean clothes and needed to finish the things I needed for my project.  Those things, plus a brief nap and before I knew it was closing in on 8pm.  After such a good time filled with laughs and smiles, with good company, and in a pleasant environment, I wasn’t anxious to leave, but the next couch was calling.

About 50 Couches in 50 Nights

My name is Dean MacKay. In June and July of 2010, I slept on 50 different couches in 50 consecutive nights. I took photographs of the couches, both as a couch and as my bed. I took portraits of my hosts and interviewed them. I documented their homes on film and digitally as well as in a journal. I was treated to home cooked meals and intimate secrets. I was cared for when I was ill and checked in on after I was long gone. There were sleepless nights and busy days and times spent discussing the past and dreaming about the future. I drank a lot of coffee at a lot of different coffee houses. There were old friends who became closer and acquaintances who I now call my friends. There were even strangers who invited me into their homes. Threads were woven among them all. My skills were honed as I practiced my craft on a daily basis. I learned many things about my hosts and I continue to learn many things about myself. These times are unforgettable. This journey was initially born out of necessity. The economic times had taken their toll. But the fruit of this labor is not simply financial. It is emotional and spiritual and societal. I tapped into something that is still developing. And as it develops I will share with you this knowledge as well as providing you a way to share it with others. I hope that you will support me as this journey continue and grows. I plan to unveil many things from this work including a coffee table book on the couches, and perhaps other books and a documentary. I'm also hoping to get the blog carried on a major website. Of course, and second project is also in the works although what form it will take has yet to be determined. Any assistance or advice that you can offer to further these projects is welcome. Your support, both financial and emotional, is crucial to my success. Thank You. © Dean MacKay 2010


One thought on “Couch #3 – Julia and Jack (and Mavis) – June 2nd, 2010

  1. The following excerpt from today’s blog reminded me of a joke:

    “Now, my landlord knew that I was having some financial difficulties. After all, in April, for the first time in the 11 years that I had lived there, I was late with the rent. What my landlord was unaware of, was that I would be sleeping on couches for two months in order to save on the rent and get caught up on my other bills.”

    The Joke:

    What’s the difference between Dean and a couch?

    A couch can support a family of four.

    Buh Wah ha ha ha ha ha (my evil laff)

    Don’t worry Dean you and I will be washing down lobster canapes with glasses of Cristal on my ultrasuede and you will forget all your money woes.

    Fussy Fag

    Posted by Icepac | June 8, 2010, 5:38 am

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