you're reading...
Couch #5 - Elizabeth

Couch #5 – Elizabeth – June 4th, 2010

Couch #5 belongs to Elizabeth.  The couch was given to her by her landlady who was moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma.  It has a pull-out sleeper.  She has slept on the couch and since the back cushions are so poofy you can fall off if you aren’t careful.  She is in a complicated relationship and lives in a gorgeous, homey, studio apartment in Hollywood, California.  Elizabeth is head of A&R for Latour Music also does night work at Patty’s Restaurant in Toluca Lake as a waitress.  She likes to travel, gets massages and pedicures, go on hikes, and eat out.  It’s important to share meals.  Sharing is fun.  She likes to get in touch with her youthful inner self, as well as reading magazines, scripts, self-help books.  She loves astro physics.  Sometime around 1998, I stumbled in drunk to a dive bar she was working at in New York City.  As I enjoyed the jukebox and her company, I kept returning.  Apparently I attended the topless New Year’s party.  Our relationship is amazing.  We established a good foundation for our relationship.  I even picked her up from the airport when she arrived in Los Angeles.  We have a pretty significant bond despite not seeing each other all that often.  Elizabeth shares her place with whoever needs a place to rest their head.  She has lots of visitors or guests.  I was a welcome decoration in her house.  I’m better than a plant.  One of her favorite songs is “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke.  One of her favorite films is “Big Fish”  She currently like Tuna Tartar with avocado and eats it every day.  Elizabeth lives in the land of possibilities, where anything can happen.

I left Alex and Steve’s place early on the morning of the 4th.  I had some errands to run on my way to my friend Elizabeth’s place.  She knew that I would be leaving early and had invited to come by whenever.   But first I had to stop and get my mail at my old apartment as well as stop and get my P.O. Box set up at the Post Office.  Not having a home, I needed a place to get my mail, and didn’t want to have to rely on a friend for that.  But, in the hubub of moving, this had slipped through the cracks.  Luckily, my landlord let me keep my key and thankfully the post office was ready for me.  I was also glad that in my mailbox at my old apartment, was my unemployment check.  This was supposed to have arrived the previous Saturday, and I was anxiously awaiting it.  It is this check that currently keeps my bills paid and the debt collectors from calling me endlessly.  While they hadn’t yet started those calls, the letters had started coming in and a couple of key deadlines were approaching.  As you can imagine, I was immediately put at ease upon seeing that familiar envelope in the mail.  I also had one last bag of books to drop at Goodwill.  I think that I had been there nearly every day for a week.  The people now recognized me and greeted me with a smile.  However, this would be the last time that I would stop there with a donation.  Well, at least until I start clearing out my storage space.  After making those stops, it was off to A&I to drop off my first 2 rolls of film.  I was anxious to see the results and post some real film pictures, but that would have to wait until Monday.  I then made one more stop, at Samy’s, to buy some more film.  They seem to be the only place in town that still has 35mm Fuji Pro 800z.  I’m hoping that they will continue to have it as I progress through this project.  As it has been discontinued, I’m not hopeful.  I may be shooting on Kodak Portra 800 by the time I’m done with this.  I called Elizabeth to let her know I was making a stop at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for coffee as well as some sort of Blueberry Pomegranate drink for her.   I stopped by her place for a quick hi and how do you do, dropping off my stuff and picking up the keys, getting logged onto her wifi,  and  grabbing a parking permit.  She lives in Hollywood, and parking can be a bear.  I then rushed out and headed back to Glendale to help my friend Julia and drop off a disk off wedding photos with Nicole.  This took slightly longer than necessary, but before you knew it, I was back in Hollywood with yet another internet password on my computer.  Elizabeth had to work that evening so after another brief conversation, we parted ways.   We would catch up more later, and in the morning.  This seems to be typical of our relationship.  Words do not need to be spoken and excessive conversing does not need to happen.  We have been friends like this for years and can pick up where we left off without apology.  After a bit of “work” I figured that I really needed a shower.  This would be the first shower that I hadn’t taken at the gym.  It felt good to have some privacy and take a nice long and relaxing shower.  It is incredible how many things I easily do in private at home, that I don’t feel comfortable doing when I’m in public at the gym. Even clipping my nails seems strange.  Also, I’m starting to find everyone’s showers and bathroom lighting completely different than mine had been.  More on that in a later blog.  Now that I was clean,  it was time to eat.

As I mentioned before, Elizabeth lives in Hollywood.  And when I say in Hollywood, she might as well have stars in the sidewalk outside her door.  Okay, it’s really about a block away, but it is only a block away.  I wandered down pack Grauman’s Chinese Theater and battled the throngs of tourists in order to get a burrito at Baja Fresh.  Having been broke and a homebody for a while, I had lived off of grilled cheese, BLTs, and the occasional home cooked meal.  As some of you know, I can cook, I just don’t always want to cook for one and my apartment was not exactly set up for guests.  Now, being homeless, I would either have to rely on the cooking skills of others, or eat out.  As I was often on the run during the day, this has meant either not eating or eating fast food.  I’m not sure that I would consider Baja Fresh fast food, but it’s not exactly real mexican food either.  I got my burrito and headed back to the apartment.  Time had flown by and it was getting late and Elizabeth would be home soon.  In addition, I had left my laptop charger at Julia’s and my computer battery was getting dangerously low.  There would be neither the time nor the tools to email or blog or anything soon.  Now Elizabeth was supposed to be arriving home at around 9pm.  But 9pm had come and gone and there was no sign of her.I was exhausted and as I debated calling and checking in with her, I dozed off on the couch.  Exhaustion is so far one of the themes of this journey.  About an hour later, at approximately  11:15, I awoke and shortly thereafter Elizabeth arrived home.  Apparently she had to wait for her check at work and was delayed about 2 hours.  Interestingly enough this led to her having a conversation with a patron of hers which has the potential of leading to some financial success on a project of hers.  We discussed the fact that if she had left on time, she would not have had that conversation.  Everything happens for a reason.  This is also one of the themes of this journey.  In addition to this, she told me the story of a couple of friends who were currently in Las Vegas.  It seems that one friend had gotten an offer for a free private flight to Vegas and a free hotel, among other things.  He had invited Elizabeth, but as she had to work, she could not go.  Another friend went in her place.  A free Vegas vacation seems too good to be true, right?  Well it was.  The two friends had gotten the flight there, but were now stuck there with no hotel and no flight back.  It had been some kind of scam.  Elizabeth felt terrible to have put her friend in that situation, and spent the late nights hours on the phone with her, as well as arranging a hotel room for them.  At the same time, she was glad it was not her.  Again, everything happens for a reason.  It was now becoming very late and time for bed.   I folded out the sofa bed , brushed my teeth, and was soon fast aslep.   As  we had gone to bed late, I slept in late the next morning.  Elizabeth likes to sleep even later, and while I was anxious to get moving, I probably needed the rest.

Garbage trucks kept me from properly falling back asleep, but I did relax for a bit longer. Elizabeth finally got up a short time later and we got ourselves ready and headed out to IHOP for breakfast. Laughing about ordering a Moon over my Hammy and getting thrown out, we arrived for breakfast.  Elizabeth picked up the paper so that she could read the “Love is…” comic and we proceed to pig out on way too much food.  After breakfast, we were both in a bit of a food coma. When we arrived at her place, she ran out to deal with something and I almost immediately passed back out on the couch.  I had barely been up for a few hours and I already needed to sleep.  After a brief nap, Elizabeth arrived back home.  Naps are key to my survival on this journey.  I had to run one more errand to get a birthday present for a friend, but then would be on my way back to Julia’s to get my charger and then on to my next couch.

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 #5 – Elizabeth – June 4th, 2010

  1. Mackay. hmmmm. by the sound of your last name I am sure you will appreciate this little Scottish ditty that I recited to myself yesterday before napping on my moss green ultrasuede couch, the very same couch you will be sleeping on…

    God bless stones.
    Stones are a lot like people, cept they know more and say less.
    God bless stones…
    Oh, and pebbles too for they have feelings.

    Fussy Fag

    Posted by Icepac | June 11, 2010, 5:40 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: