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Couch #20 - Shannon

Couch #20 – Shannon – June 19th, 2010


Couch #20  belongs Shannon, or really it belongs to her roommmate, Andy.   They live in a  house in Fullerton, California.  Fullerton is above Anaheim.  It’s ten minutes away from Disneyland.  At some point the house was moved to it’s present location to make room for the 605 Freeway but Shannon doesn’t know where it used to be.  The house is on the oldest road in Fullerton.  Shannon grew up in the house since she was 2.  Her parents still own it and she rents it from them.  Shannon also lives there with her daughter Sydney, who is ten years old and Andy’s dog, Neko.

Shannon doesn’t really know completely the history of the couch since it’s Andy’s.  She met Andy on myspace a long time ago.  They like a lot of the same music and hung out a couple of times, when he told her that he needed to move out of his house.  His roommates were a couple and were getting married and also moving out.  Shannon was in a bad place at the time and needed a roommate really bad and invited Andy to move in with her.  Shannon had a couch, which was pretty cool.  It was half red and half leopard.   But, the cat had destroyed it, and so she had to get rid of it.  Andy brought the leather couch with him and sold Shannon on it, although it wasn’t as cool as he made it out to be.  It does, however, look good in the decor of the room.  The living room decor is a little crazy.  It’s half Andy and half Shannon, but it does all flow together really nicely

Shannon doesn’t sit on the couch ever.  If you do happen to get Shannon to watch a movie, which is rare, she stands on the floor and does yoga or workouts out with her weights.  She is always needs to be doing something.  She can’t sit still  whereas Andy is always sitting on the couch watching tv or playing video games.

One story that Andy tells is that he had a roommate that paid rent and slept on the couch.  He didn’t have a room or want a room, he just wanted to sleep on the couch because it was that comfortable.

On one wall of the living room are skateboards which are Shannon’s.  She arranged them really weird on the wall.  They are all Real/Obey skate boards and all in the original wrapping.  She has the entire set.  There was some controversy  about the Aultz “Take Warning” Board.  Apparently, they were not supposed to use the logo that’s on it, because it was stolen.  It was hard to get the whole set together at the time she bought them, and they were like 60 bucks a board.  Now you might be able to make a grand off if you sold them all together, because they are in such perfect condition.  People collect skateboards.  There is a huge market for skateboards.  People make a living just buying skateboards and selling them.  Shannon likes them a lot and doesn’t want to get rid of them.  It’s art.

Shannon is a Rolfer.  That’s a type of therapy. It’s a holistic approach  that gets your body into alignment utilizing movement and gravity.  Shannon is also on Facebook a lot and goes to shows a lot in LA and around when she cans.  She also rides her bike a lot around and goes on walks.  Shannon also sews t-shirts and is creative.  She is always thinking about new things to make. Right now she’s trying to make holistic soap/laundry detergent using herbs in her backyard.  Fullerton uses well water. So she’s looking up how make detergent for well water.  It would include rosemary, which is an anti-bacterial.  Shannon is also learning how to do holistic facials utilizing real food, that she can customize for people’s skin and body hair.  As well, she is an esthetician.

People think that Shannon is kind of hard and not that friendly at first.  Then they find out that she is really nice and caring for people.  She is always the provider.

Shannon and I met when she added me on Facebook.  And as soon I posted about this project she was in and signed up.  We just met in person  when I showed up at the house the day before.

Shannon and I are Facebook friends.  We both spend a lot of time on Facebook, maybe too much time.  It’s a lot of fun and it has gotten both of us a lot of places, including getting me to her home.  She likes that. But also, other opportunities and things that  have come up too.  It’s not as bad as people make it out to be.  As long you understand that there is no privacy.  That’s not what it’s about.

Shannon grew up in Southern California  in the ‘90’s when there were always cool things going on.  There was a lot of history.  There was a huge sense of community especially in LA and Orange County. Look at all the bands that were influential everywhere that came out of Orange County or LA or something like that and the whole subculture.  This project reminds her of that.  It seemed like an opportunity to be in “the time”.  It’s very now. To give another example, Shannon lived in Denver a little bit of last year.  She saw bands like Git Some and Young Widows and was watching them and thinking that they were so 2010, but nobody really knows it yet.   Have you ever had the feeling when watching something and thinking “This is so that year”.   Like when you watch movies about the ‘60’s and think “That is so what was going on back then”.   This project is like that.  It’s totally 2010.

El Ten Eleven is one band that Shannon likes  but she doesn’t know how to classify their music.  Specifically, she likes “My Only Swerving”.  It’s so beautiful.  She also really likes the stuff coming out that has no words.  And it’s almost like she listens to other stuff now and is like “Why does the singer ruin it?”.    Beck is also one of  Shannons’s favorites, specifically “Dead Weight” from “A Life Less Ordinary”.  She goes around with these phrases, including some from songs, in her head and she either has to express them by writing them down somewhere, which usually involves spray paint, chalk, or in the dust of peoples car windows.  She did that recently in Laguna.  She saw this car that was so dirty and scratched in the dusty window “Don’t let the Sun catch you crying”.  It’s a hilarious to her to do things like that, that just catch people off guard.  There’s a a new thing/phrase now which features a finger pointing and it says “Give me the Dirt!”.  It’s from Space Ghost Coast to Coast.  That too, catches people off guard.  When Shannon was in New York, she had chalk.  Now, you know when you go out partying in LA that they have the bacon-wrapped hot dog vendors?  In New York, they don’t have bacon wrapped hot dogs.  They just have regular hot dogs.  So Shannon, with her chalk, went around writing  “No Bacon” everywhere with the 3 swirly lines, i.e. the universal symbol for bacon.

Shannon really likes things about bacon.  It’s funny to her.  She posts about bacon on Facebook all the time. One time she posted about bacon turtles, which are cheeseburgers, with bacon and cut hotdogs made to look like a turtle.  She’s also totally into horrible, fattening food that you find at the Fair.  It’s hilarious to her  that people eat this way, since she likes to eat healthy. It’s an abomination to her, but people seem to love it. It’s like they are trying to see how they can ruin their body the most with the worst possible thing.  And yet she likes to create these things, not that she wants to eat them.  Shannon doesn’t even know if she could even watch someone eat them.

Shannon changed her lifestyle dramatically 3 years ago  when she was knocked off her axis.  She now tries to eat healthier including more whole foods.  She got rid of the processed foods and doesn’t eat out any more.  Shannon cooks everything.  She likes to create things with food using stuff from her garden, like natural herbs, but she doesn’t necessarily eat raw and is not completely vegetarian.  Right now, she’s really into zucchini, because she is growing it in her backyard.   She believes that when we finally understand how all these processed foods are affecting our body, how it makes us feel, and what it does to us, people are going to start growing their own foods to survive..  Shannon also thinks we need to be more aware of everything we touch and everything we listen to.  We need to be aware of how we are living in the present moment, how we are right now.  That’s the huge key.

“Sin City” is Shannon’s favorite movie of all time. It involves everything that she is about or loves and wants to soak up and taste.  She loves the whole look of it, how they filmed it, the storyline, and the fact that it was a comic book/graphic novel by Frank Miller.  Just everything about it…the hookers at the end…Elijah Wood…all of it.

Shannon thinks that this project is awesome, that it’s a cool idea that I’ve taken this thought and I am actually doing it.  Usually you think about things and then you don’t do them and you never know.  People who succeed are those take these thoughts and actually put it into completion. She’ thinks it’s amazing that I did it and it’s all going to be good  because of what I’m getting out of it and what I’m giving people.

Shannon also wonders if I would ever consider taking the project farther than LA.  I initially got offers to go to New York, London, Spain and elsewhere from friends and supporters.   Initially this project was started out of a little bit of panic, a little bit of desperation.   It was a way for me to give up my apartment and not just sit around and feel sorry for myself.  I wanted to turn my situation into something positive.  But I couldn’t afford to travel.  I could only afford to stay in Los Angeles.  Perhaps when this project is finished  and my head is above water, maybe I’ll plan another couch project around Europe or New York or something.

Shannon thinks that I need start to look at things a little different.  Initially I’m only seeing it head-on “I don’t have enough money”.  There might be some other ways.  I need to do what I do with my camera.  I need to look at things from different angles.  I was already seeing things differently, but the changes were still formulating and I couldn’t quite express them clearly.  And that’s okay.

Shannon says that people expect huge change to happen in a snap of the fingers.  We are used to going into McDonalds and getting our food and getting out in 5 minutes.  But the body doesn’t work like that.  The mind doesn’t work like that.  In Rolfing, they teach you to be grateful for the tiniest thing.  The fact that I can see that glimmer of change in myself is a celebration that makes Shannon want to cry.

And along the lines of there being different ways to look at things, Shannon asks me “Do you know that there are ride shares on Craigslist?”   She knows that I am already taking a chance by sleeping over at people’s houses that I don’t know,  but I could get rides cheap or for free to places like San Francisco or Las Vegas.  I could travel and save a lot of money that way.  There might other ways to make money too, she says.  On that note, I mention to her that I have a link to PayPal on my blog to help cover costs, because film and processing   cost me nearly what I was paying in rent.  And I am eating out a lot more and spending more on gas than I was.  But perhaps I can also solicit money to get me to New York, should I decide to do that.

Shannon went to Boston for a week and a half.  She really needed to get away. She felt the need to get away from her life, She wanted to sell everything she owned and get her bike and backpack and leave.  Do you ever notice that when you really want something that an opportunity pops up and allows it to happen?  Maybe it’s not exactly how you wanted it to be, but, it kinda is.  Also, sometimes you just have to let go, to be “mozzarella”.   It’s really hard for people to sit and watch things happen and not be too controlling.  That applies very much to me and is part of what this project is  about.  I’ve always been a self-sufficient, not asking or relying on people to do things for me. I’ve never really needed to.  I always managed to make it work, even if it wasn’t ideal.  Sometimes I probably should have asked people for help or involved other people.  So, part of what this project is my effort to force myself to rely on other people to give me their couch and a few minutes of their time and to trust that they will.  I had gotten burned at points in my life because everytime I had trusted someone they had screwed it up.  You can’t be that way because there are alot of you can trust and who will come through for you.  I met Shannon yesterday and look what happened.  I have more faith in people these days. It’s amazing how many people stepped up.

Shannon then comments, “Isn’t it funny how everything got to be all about hoarding?”.  Hoarding emotions.  Hoarding stuff.  It may sound hippie and it’s hard, hard, hard to believe, that the more that you give and let go of, the more that you are going to get back.

If things had worked out the way that I wanted to and I had gotten some photo work and was able to keep up with my bills, I would not be where I am at now.   I needed to go a little bit lower and in order to  have that “A-ha!” moment, in order to realize that’s not what I need to be doing.  That’s what I’ve been doing all my life. I had just been getting by and it’s been mediocre.  I needed to think bigger.  The universe has continued to put bumps in the road to remind me of this, to keep me focused on what is important and get me to my goal.  Sometimes you need someone or something to kick your ass in order to change.   And you also need to be grateful for what you have.  Shannon had her ass kicked two and half years ago.  And though she still feels that she’s suffering through that low time, she remembers that she hasn’t really had to work much for the last two and half years and got to go to school and got to live four and half months in Colorado.  These are things that she never thought she would be ever to do.  She reminds me “to live every moment as if it’s perfect”.  To remember it, that’s the challenge. Everything is the way it should be right now.  It’s all good.

Shannon lives at her desk.  It shows everything that she worked for.  There’s a Jabbejaw poster.  She used to go to Jabberjaw all the time in the ‘90’s.  The first time she went there was the day after the riots for a Godflesh show.  Shit was still burning.  It’s on Pico and it was pretty scary.  They had amazing posters.  The poster is one of her prized possessions.  She loves Unsane too.   The poster is awesome.  Also at her desk is all of her certificates, including the one for Rolfing.  There is also memorabilia from her travels including her recent trip to Boston, photos of her and her daughter, as well as quartz and other stones for doing facials.  Her computer is there and she is often sitting there on Facebook and Pandora and YouTube.  Also, there is a Jesus Lizard poster, because  David Yow is her hero and the poster artist is amazing too.  She also has lots of affirmations taped on the wall and a Suicidal Tendencies pink baseball hat that she got at the ST tattoo shop before it closed.   She also has a cool Rat Fink Hat that she found at the GWAR show.   There is also a Robert Crumb picture up on the wall as well as a Niagara poster that her daughter used to say “That’s You Mommy”.  It says “If I Want Your Opinion, I’ll Beat It Out of You”.    That’s where she lives.  Awesome.


I left Greg and Nicole’s on the afternoon of June 19th, 2010.  I wandered around his neighborhood in downtown Los Angeles, taking some street photos, picked up my car at the parking lot, and made my way to the YMCA for a much needed shower as well as taking care much neglected things like shaving and flossing.  Not having gotten much done while at Greg’s I decided that I should take some time and get some things done before heading down to Shannon’s place in Fullerton.   This inbetween time is usually the only time I have to get anything done, so I wanted to maximize it.  You see, usually when I go to someone’s house, it is a social event.  They want to hear about my travels and I want to share those stories.  So I do not want to spend time sitting on the computer, reading email and the like.  Also, if they are a stranger, as Shannon was, there is even a greater need and expectation of this being an event.  And in this case, Shannon had also planned a party for that night, so there would be no time to do anything until the next day.  As a party suggested it would also be a late night, it was also likely that any free time would not be until late the next day and would be short since I would have to drive back up to LA and would have to meet my couch host for the next night before it go too late.   So, after leaving the YMCA, I decided to stop at Stir Crazy for some coffee and cheesecake and free wifi and take care of some business.

Upon reading my email here,  I came across a message from someone who was not at all interested in this project and as I had been blogging quite often and  posting those blogs and emailing my list about the blog, they had gotten annoyed and unfriended me on Facebook.   Initially, I have to admit, this bugged me.  You see, I have always been a person who tried so please everyone.  I always want people to like me and when I started this project, I received numerous messages and comments of support and encouragement.  It was many more than I received for anything else I had done.  It seemed that everyone loved the idea. But, of course, that’s not how anything works.   The more people that love an idea, the more likely it is that there will be a corresponding number of  people that will hate it.  Not having had any experience with any ideas that seemed so popular, nor having any experience working on a project with such longevity, I had not experienced this before.  Was pursuing my passion and wanting to share it so wrong?  No, it wasn’t.  But not everything was for everyone and I would just have to get used to the fact that strangers and even friends may not understand what I was doing and may not like it either.  I’m still quite sensitive to it and still have to tell myself to “get over it”.   It’s not so hard when it’s a complete stranger.  Most people are polite when asking me to remove them from them from my mailing list and I would imagine that if they had to ask, most people would be polite when unfriending me on Facebook.  It’s more difficult when it’s a friend or an acquaintance.   In those cases, I remind myself first that it’s just Facebook.   While I may have gazillion “friends” on there and be easily able to ignore the barrage of emails, status updates, postings, and requests, not everyone works that way.    The same thing with email.   But I also try to remember that just because this is my life, and I find it interesting, it does not mean that everyone finds it interesting. And, even those who may find it interesting, may not want to hear about it day in and day out in minute detail.   So, all I can do is cater to those that do want to hear everything, not get upset at those who do not, and hope that most of those people, and even more, will check in periodically.

While I sat there and read through my messages, one of my fellow coffee shop patrons received a phone call.  A very long phone call.  One where he spoke a very high volume.  Now, I’m not completely opposed to people talking on the phone in a coffee shop.  After all, it is a public place and I do my share of meeting people at coffee shops and having conversations well within earshot of the other people.  But there is something different about a phone call.  When I receive one in public place like a coffee shop, I either take it outside, or I keep it brief and quiet.  I’m not sure why there is a difference, or why I can’t block out the noise as easily as I do with my email and Facebook.  Maybe it’s just days like this where one annoyance heightens the other.

Maybe I wasn’t mad at the guy on the phone at all, but was instead just redirecting my anger.  After all, I was feeling a bit stressed that day.  I was way behind on my goal of blogging every day and with only a short time at the coffee shop, I would just be falling further.  Frustrated, but lacking a solution or more time to think of one, I packed up and left the coffee shop.    I would not be posting a blog and would have to take the long drive down to Orange County where I knew I would be up late partying, whether I wanted to or not.  After having been out more nights than I can remember and after having moved every day for nearly 3 weeks, I was exhausted.    All I wanted was a relaxing evening and then to get up the next day and finish up some writing.  At that moment, none of that seemed possible. But then the phone rang.  One of my best friends, John, called me.  He’s one of the people I trust most, and he’s one of the people that I know will tell me the truth.   So, I asked him what he thought of the blog.   He told me that it needed more of me in it.  That it needed more of my thoughts and more of my experience.  Feeling as if I had put in as much of my experience as I could,  I argued and debated with him.  To be honest, it sort of pissed me off.  I mean, how could I keep up my writing and be sure that the writing was more personal?  It didn’t help that John was also calling me to tell me that he would have a roommate moving in and that I would need to have some boxes I had stored there, moved out, by the end of the month.  The last thing I really needed was one more task added to my to do list.   As I was already running late and needed to move my car, we wrapped up our conversation, I picked up a lottery ticket, and  started on my way through Saturday evening traffic to Shannon’s place.  But while sitting in this traffic, some things occurred to me.  Who said that I had to blog as I went along?  After all, if it was stressing me out, pissing people off, and not good, then what was the point?  Why not write as I had the time  and  take the time to do it right?  This way I could relive each night again, and process my thoughts and feelings in a way to make them explainable.  Doing this would also help me to learn the lessons of each night and that was also one of the reasons I was doing this project. It was decided and a weight was lifted from my shoulders.  Of course, nothing comes without consequences.   What I wasn’t aware of at the time was that my time would feel even more constrained when I finished the project and that even by February, I would not be even halfway finished with this project.

With the relief of having accepted that I did not need to finish the blogs as soon as possible, I still faced the stress of the long drive to Fullerton.  I had been to Fullerton before.  I bought Volkswagen Jetta TDI (Diesel) from a small specialty dealer there.  I had been there a few times between looking at the cars and actually purchasing it.   So I was aware of both how far it was and that it really wasn’t that far either.  While it did take me longer at 6pm than it would have earlier, it didn’t take me nearly as long as it could have.

When I arrived, I found a spot on the street, unloaded a few things and made may to the door.  At was at this moment, that I met Andy,  Shannon’s roommate.  Shannon was in the shower and Andy was expecting me and greeted me warmly, welcoming me into the house and introducing me to a couple of other guys as well as Shannon’s daughter, Sydney, and their dog, Neko.   Andy also showed me to the garage, where keg of beer from Bootlegger’s Brewery was.   Bootlegger’s is a local Fullerton brewery and I believe that we had Golden Chaos, a golden ale.   I grabbed a beer, but then quickly decided that I should bring in the rest of my things before I got too much further engrossed in the party.   Once I was settled, I rejoined the small gathering in the kitchen/dining area where the computer sat and music was not only playing but was the topic of conversation.  At this moment, it was Octopus Project with Black Moth Super Rainbow – “The House of Apples and Eyeballs”  playing.  It went on seemingly endlessly and after noting this, I was told that the album was set to replay when it reached the end.  Ha!

After a little while getting to know each other, Shannon finally emerged, showered and dressed.  She gave me the tour of the place showing me all of the artwork that she had up on the walls, including a number of Bettie Page pieces by Olivia.  She also showed me her certificates for rolfing and explained it further.  You can read more about it here… (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolfing). While there was  a some home made bread and some chips and salsa on the table, it was time for some real food.  The grill was started and some hunks of beef  were thrown on for dinner.   A picture with words “Captin Salty” hung on a post outside.  I was informed that Captin Salty was a pirate.  I can’t tell you much else about Captin Salty except that he does have his own Facebook page.

It was at this moment, that Sasha arrived.  Now I should stop for a moment to remind you that I wasn’t originally scheduled to be here on this night.  Originally I was supposed to be here on Thursday, but when I finally got in touch with Shannon to confirm, on Wednesday, she informed that she thought we had scheduled for Saturday, and that she wanted me to come for the party so that I could meet everyone.  As my Saturday had cancelled,  it worked out.   But, what I found out when Sasha arrived, was that there was another motive for wanting me to come on Saturday.  When Sasha walked in, she was carrying a cake.  It was a cake in the shape of a couch.  It had a little bald man with facial hair lying on it under a blanket.  It said “50 Couches in 50 Nights”.  I was amazed.  Here I was, at the home of someone I had never met before, and their friend, had made a cake in my honor.  All the stress that had overwhelmed me earlier in the evening faded away. I didn’t know what to say. I  said thank you and took some photos and smiled a lot, but that didn’t really show the emotion I was feeling, nor does it today.  I still recall that emotion just thinking about this moment.  By the way, it was a vanilla-chocolate swirl cake.

At this point more people start to arrive, including  the band, Neighborhood Watch.   As they began to set up, I picked at the meat that had come off of the grill and had yet another beer.  A fake moustache made out of yarn, became the hit of the party with everyone trying it on and posing for the camera.  I managed to capture a number of people with it on, and I was even encouraged to wear it myself.   Neighborhood Watch then started to play on the porch with Andy, a different Andy,  wearing his patented “Palmdale Rulez” t-shirt.   They rocked the house playing both covers including “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?”  and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” as well as originals.  It was a blast.

It was at this moment that I truly realized that my fear of being at a party was unfounded.  You see, most nights, I showed up to my host’s home and I was at least a major part of the attraction, if not the whole attraction.  People wanted to know how I was sleeping and what was the most comfortable couch and what was the strangest experience I had had.  But not on this night.   While there was a cake and there were some questions, it was not about me.  It was about the party.   For one of the few times in my life, I relished the role of the wall flower.   Not that I really was a wall flower most of the night.  Most of the night I was making new friends and trying to get to know them or at least enjoy a fun time with them.  We were getting drunk and talking about music and our lives.   If only for a moment, things were somewhat normal in my my not very normal world.   And that made me very happy and relaxed.

Around this time Amanda, an old friend of Shannon’s arrived.  Shannon asked if I could take a photo of them.  They also showed off their heels to me which they were proud and which looked quite uncomfortable to me although I was told that they were not.   As well, Crystal, another Amanda, and Blossom, who are friends of Andy, the roommate,  arrived.  Blossom had her dog Yoda, a chihuahua,  in tow as well.  I sat down with the people from Neighborhood Watch, answered a few questions about the project and was even given an Arco gas card with $10 on it.  It was yet another gesture that made me a bit emotional.  The yarn moustache made another appearance, I sat on floor and played with Yoda, and Shannon went back to playing music off the computer.   She introduced me to El Ten Eleven.  While I don’t recall which song she played, I do recall really liking it.  And so now, every once in a while, I just search for it on YouTube and play whatever comes up.  It always makes me smile.   I, in turn, played Restavrant, for her.  I believe that she enjoyed it.

The party continued and the music kept playing.  I remember I was feeling pretty drunk and very relaxed.  I remember blending in with the wallpaper a little and people watching.  Everyone was very comfortable with each other and having a grand old time.  Then Save Ferris’ version of “Come on Eileen” came on.  Everyone started going a little crazy.  In my drunken babble I mentioned that I would be staying on Monique’s couch the following weekend.  While I’m not normally a name dropper and don’t put much value into it, at the moment, I felt that I needed to score a few points with these people, if only for a moment.    I sang along and the party continued.

I also remember at this time that while Andy’s friend’s Crystal and Blossom seemed to having a good time or at least mingling, Amanda was either sitting with Sydney watching kids shows or was sitting by herself.  She would later explain that she was exhausted, but I was concerned about her, even though I had just met her.   After all, I had often been the person at the party sitting alone, either tired or depressed, and in need of some company and conversation only to be left alone.  I wanted to be sure that was not the case.  I was assured it was not.

It was starting to get late and as I couldn’t leave my car on the street overnight, and as the driveway was now free, I took advantage of a break in the action to move it.  Upon returning to the house I explained to Shannon that I had been concerned about having a stressful night and staying up too late, but instead was having a wonderful night.     At the mention of the stress, she felt the need to further explaining Rolfing in practice. She put me through some moves and it worked some wonders on my body.  I felt a lot of the stress simply disappear as if released from my body by the motion.  All the moving and running around and stressing over this project and life in general had put knots into my shoulders and back.    Just a quick Rolfing session with Shannon and a good deal of that was gone.  Just thinking about it all,  I can feel the knots currently occupying my neck and  reminds of my need to go do more Rolfing.  Or at least get a massage.

Once that was done, the crowd that remained started to question me about the cake.  When was I going to cut the cake?  I kept expecting Sasha to cut it or maybe Shannon, and having drank beer all night, I wasn’t quite in a cake mood.  But I also couldn’t let it go to waste.  As no one else wanted to cut “my” head off or destroy Sasha’s beautiful work, I grabbed the knife and made the cut.  Of course, this destruction was documented.  And the cake was consumed.

At this point, Andy and many of the guest began to settle in on the couch front of the television in the living room.  Nobody was quite ready to leave or go to bed yet, so they popped in “Battle Royale”  for a late night screening.   We continued to drink, and talked through much of it, including Amanda, Andy’s friend Amanda, commenting about how all the girls were “provocatively bleeding”.    I was exhausted and had to get up from my spot on the floor a few times in order to pace around the kitchen and stay awake.   At the same time, one of the other guests, who was relying on a ride from a friend, was also making coffee.  I was not alone in my exhaustion.   Once the movie was over everyone who remained very quickly cleared out.  I said my goodbyes and nice to meet yous and got myself and the couch ready for bed.  Before I knew it I was laying my head on the mulit-color Beatles’ Yellow Submarine pillow and was off to dreamland.

10 am came early but I was well rested.   Shannon made some coffee and prepared breakfast.  We would be having a quinoa goulash of sorts.  I had never had quinoa before, so this would be a new experience.  It was delicious.  I can still recall the texture.  Texture is a big thing with me and food.    I mean, I like the way things taste, but the texture is what makes the difference to me.  It’s the reason I don’t eat alot of shellfish raw.  I really just can’t tolerate oysters or the like.  Oddly, I haven’t had quinoa since, but with all my moving around still, I haven’t cooked much since.  I may have to rectify that soon.

As Shannon cooked and I sat drinking my coffee, we discussed our relative situations and the economy.  We were both out of work and struggling to survive.  Work was not coming easily and trying to live the lives we were used to was a challenge.  Times were tough and at that point, there did not seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel.  This was the new reality and life would have to be lived differently.

Since we were partying the night before, we had not done our photos and I had barely done my photos.  As Andy would soon have to leave for work,  we discussed doing the photos and interview soon.  As Shannon cleaned up from breakfast and got ready, I listened to records on a turntable.   Yes, vinyl records on a turntable.  I really don’t recall what we were listening too as I was focusing my efforts at documenting the space and getting my brain into photographer mode.    In addition,  Shannon and I continued to talk as she got ready.  We discussed both the usefulness and goofiness of  facebook.  Shannon told me how she posts random comments stolen from youtube as her status updates.  Some people find the humor and carry on the joke but others seem to be a bit lost with it.  Either way it’s alway and interesting experiment.   Of course, I may have just given away a secret here, but I’m guessing all of her friends are not reading this.   We also discussed Pavement.  The band.  I believe that like my previous couch hosts Greg and Nicole, she was also going up San Francisco for their show up there.  As I’ve mentioned before, there is often a connection from one host to the next.  In this case it was Pavement.

Soon everyone was ready, and I took my portrait photos.  When that was done, Andy left for work and I conducted my interview with Shannon.  It was at this time that I further elaborated on my state of mind.  This was a pivotal stay for me.  Less than 24 hours earlier I was stressed and freaking out.  Now, I had decided not to stress about the writing. I had had an awesome time that was not all about me. I could breathe and not think and relax.  I had rocked out to some great music, had mini-Rolfing treatment, met some wonderful new friends and had both ate and slept well.   And with the presentation of the cake that Sasha made I realized that the appeal of this was much larger despite some people not “getting it”.   I learned that I would have to let go of that negativity bothering me and simply embrace the good things and keep smiling.  I also realized that my next blog would not be about one of my couch stays, but would instead explain why I was doing what I was doing and what led me to do it.

And with that I packed up and was on my way.   I was anxious to get moving back to LA where I could meet with with Bela to pick up some black and white negatives and contact sheets , check my email, write a blog, and make my way to my next couch in West Los Angeles.

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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