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Couch #7 - Buffy

Couch #7 – Buffy – June 6th, 2010

Couch #7 belongs to Buffy.   It was given to her by neighbors across street less than a year ago.  It has an issue with leg and is propped up on some books.  It is leather and kinda new.  It is very comfortable.   Buffy is single and lives in a 2-story duplex with her roommate Patricia, in Silverlake, California.  She has a cat named Birdy.   She is currently making a CD of her music every month and selling them in her CD of the month club.  People can subscribe to the entire series or buy them individually.  She also does child care and psychic healing and loves the earth full time.   Buffy likes to lay on the grass and look at the sky and watch the wind.   She likes to read, drink wine with friends, play music, and sing.  Buffy also likes flowers, likes to dance, although she doesn’t do it that often, and cooking.  She embroiders and collects records.   Buffy is from Utah and grew up Mormon. She has lived in San Francisco.  She sees things…like fairies. Buffy is clairvoyant.    We met through our mutual friend Kate at the Cha Cha Lounge.  We only met once more, when Kate was moving away.  We missed each other at the Leslie and the Badgers record release show. One of her favorite songs is “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole.  She likes the movies “What’s Up Doc?”, “The Jerk”, “West Side Story”, and “The Misfits”.  She loves mashed potatoes.  She thinks that 50 nights might not be enough, and hopes that I get on NPR, Oprah, and Jon Stewart.  Her fortune for the day was “Every heartbeat creates a miracle”.

So there I was on Sunday, June 6th…in Nico’s apartment with some time  before I would head to the next couch and some things to do.  I had a place to myself for the first time in a couple of days and wanted to get some things done while I had the peace and quiet.  There were any number of things that you take for granted when you have a room of your own.  I was also tired, as I had yet to really adjust to sleeping somewhere different every night.   Things would get done, but at more leisurely pace.   And I was hungry.  It was lunchtime and as has become an occasional part of my routine, I decided to wander the neighborhood to see what I could find to eat.  I made my way up to Sunset Blvd. and was immediately greeted by The Counter, custom built burgers.  As they are not cheaap, I went looking for something more reasonably priced, but found myself turned around and headed for a delicious burger.  I deserved it.   As I believe I have mentioned before, I had eaten very frugally for months.  There was alot of cold cuts, salad, and the occasional home cooked meal that I would prepare in bulk and eat for a week.  I wouldn’t really eat out unless you count In N’ Out Burger.   Now that I didn’t have to pay rent for the month and couldn’t cook anywhere, I thought I would occasionally treat myself to something delicious and June 6th was one of those days.  I ordered up a the basics, to go, and headed back to Nico’s to pig out and get more done.   Before I knew it, it was time to go and I headed over to Buffy’s for the evening.

Buffy and I had exchanged emails earlier in the day and I was to meet her by 6pm.  She had to watch her neighbor’s baby from 6-8:30p and I wanted to get there prior to that.  I arrived at her place just before 6 and she ran through the details.  I was given the internet password, a glass of wine and a towel.  I was also instructed to put a vegetarian lasagna in the oven so that it would be  ready when she returned later.  I was introduced to Birdy, the cat, and left to do what I needed to do. Oh, and  I was also told that Buffy’s roommate, Patricia, would be arriving home at some point, but was aware that I was going to be there.   Once again, I found myself on my own in a new house.  I explored a little bit, but mostly went about my business.  Combining those two things, I took a shower.  I’m finding that everyone’s showers are different.   Water pressure varies as does the type and quality of shower heads.  In my Hollywood apartment I had a very simple, but very high pressured shower head.   I don’t particularly remember much about the water pressure or design of the shower head at Buffy’s, but I do remember that it shot water all over the ceiling.  I initially was concerned that I had broken it, but was later told that was the way it was and that I hadn’t broken anything.  Another thing that I’ve become aware of is the varying differences in lighting in people’s bathrooms.  At my former apartment, the bathroom lighting was bright and unforgiving.  Every wrinkle, hair, or blemish could be seen.  At times I would pour over each of these things trying to make myself look good…well, as good as I can.  While I don’t like to consider myself vain and while it may not appear that I put much effort into how I look or what I wear, I do put in some effort in and I definitely don’t want a unibrow ruining the whole thing.   But now, after spending time in other bathrooms I’ve discovered that they mostly have “energy efficient” lighting and that such lighting makes me looks much better.  Hell, I look great.  I wish they had this lighting everywhere.  The only lighting that flatters me more is bar lighting, but you can’t spend your whole life in a bar.  Believe me, I have tried.

After I took a refreshing shower, and checked my email once again, I pulled my camera out and took a few shots around the place.  One of the shots I took was of the front of the house.  While taking this photo, a small child, with his father, passed by me.  Seeing me taking photos, he asked me “Are you a Dad?”.  I was slightly confused by this question, and after a pause, answered “no”.  He then asked “Are you a picture taker?”, or something like that.  I replied yes to that one, to which his father told him, “You can be a picture taker too, one day.”  The whole interaction made me smile.  Patricia arrived home and in between being once again glued to my computer, we exchanged pleasantries.  8 o’clock came before I knew it and I threw the lasagna in the oven following the instructions Buffy had left.  She returned shortly thereafter to put the finishing touches on what would be a delicious dinner.  I pried myself away from the computer and Buffy, Patricia, and I adjourned to the back courtyard for dinner.

Patricia told us about her unsuccessful journey to catch a train to visit some family.  We also discussed politics and ultimately ended up discussing spirits.  Not the kind that you drink but the kind that wear sheets in cartoons.  It seems that place I would be sleeping in was haunted.  Buffy told me that the site had been at a crematorium at one point and that the house has been moved there when the 101 Freeway was being constructed.  She also told me that there was some Italian ghosts who prevent her from cooking certain things well.  I can’t remember what things, but it was things that she had cooked just fine elsewhere.  These spirits had even told her that the lasagna we had for dinner was too salty.  Having seen a ghost at least once in my life, I found the stories she told both intriguing and entertaining.  And while some of the stories didn’t sound pleasant, she assured that if I did see the spirits, I shouldn’t be worried.   It was growing late and we decided it was time for our interview and to take some photos.   Once those were complete, it was time for bed.  Buffy prepared the couch for me and said good night.  After one more check of my email, it was sleepytime.

I had a solid night of sleep that night.  Patricia had to get up an leave early and I only vaguely remember hearing her.  The couch was right near a window which was near a walkway where the neighbors would be walking.  Everyone was very quiet.  I awoke, well rested and happy to be so.  Buffy got up shortly thereafter and we walked down the block for breakfast.   We went to Cafe Tropical and I got a coffee (cafe con leche I believe) and a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich.  It was very New York.  We sat outside and had conversation while the AA people stood and talked.  Across the street, Buffy informed me, were the drunks waiting for Silversun Liquors to open.  It was quite  a scene.  After breakfast we strolled back to the house past the Jacaranda trees.  They seem to be everywhere.  We discussed the differences between being “broke” and BROKE.  It still surprises me that people making 6 figures salaries can consider themselves broke while others struggle with low 5 figure incomes and yet, consider themselves fortunate.  It’s all about perspective.   Once back at Buffy’s place, she got to work on her recording.  I returned some emails and what have you before packing up my things and making my way towards the next couch.

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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

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