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Couch #23 - Maura

Couch #23 – Maura – June 22nd, 2010


Couch #23  belongs to Maura.  She lives in an apartment in Hancock Park .  Not everyone knows where Hancock Park is, so sometimes she just says Hollywood.  Hancock Park is more impressive.  When I used to live nearby in Hollywood, I used to say I lived near Hancock Park.   Where I lived it was not quite as nice as this neighborhood.  I wouldn’t have felt as safe parking my car full of stuff there.  I also would have heard a lot more car alarms as I noted in the last blog.  However, the fruit and ice cream vendors did come around that neighborhood and they don’t in Hancock Park.  Oh, and there was the knife sharpening guy.  Let’s not forget about him.

The couch is from Levitz in Burbank.   Before this couch Maura had a couch named “Purple Love”  It was a plum, 9 foot, camel-backed, sleeper sofa and Maura loved it.   It had to be moved in and out through her window and even that wasn’t easy.  I believe it even involved the wall having to be cut into to get into the apartment.  The current couch was able to fit through the door.  Maura was doing okay financially at the time when she bought it, but could only afford to buy once piece of furniture at a time.  At this point in her life she wanted to replace all of her IKEA furniture because she wanted to be a grown up.  So, first, she bought this new red leather sofa.  There was also a love seat and a chair that went with it and ideally that’s what she wanted to get.  But then Levitz announced that they were going out of business.  Maura then went back, but buy this point the had discontinued the rest of the set.  Instead, she bought a love seat and chair that are chocolate in color.  They don’t necessarily match, but they do blend well.  She’s actually really glad that she got them, because if she had the all red set, it might look a little more “boudoir” in the living room than she would have liked.   She loves the couch though.  It is comfortable and it did pass the nap test.  Maura doesn’t buy a couch unless she can lay on it and actually fall asleep in the store.  If napping was an Olympic sport, Maura would totally medal.  She is the Queen of napping.

Maura is a High School Principal in Boyle Heights.   At the time of this interview, Maura was in a 5 year relationship, but currently she is single.  She is allergic is cats and dogs and is not home enough to be a good pet owner.

Maura goes to a lot of sporting events for fun.  Specifically she likes basketball and baseball.  She also works out a lot.  She likes to hike in Griffith Park.  She doesn’t do as much yoga as she wishes she could because of her schedule, but it’s definitely something she’s trying to get back into.    Maura also loves to go to Las Vegas.  She loves to gamble and she loves to win.   She wishes she could go more often.  She keeps practicing and given the law of big numbers, eventually she will win.

Maura likes to read a lot.  Lately, it’s been a lot of work related stuff, but she also likes really horrible chick lit as an escape.  She also likes the occasional non-fiction,  “Super Freakonomics” was sitting on the table.  Fun stuff that you can pick up, read a chapter, and put down and not have to re-read to catch up.  Maura subscribes to People magazine and everything in there must be true because they wouldn’t publish it if it wasn’t.   She likes the pictures and feels really bad that she’s supporting the paparazzi, but it gets her through one hour on a cross-trainer at the YMCA and that makes her happy.

Maura has a dual life.  She has her Burgundy Room bar life where people are always surprised that she works in education.  They are surprised she has such a straight-edge job.   And then Maura has her life where she is a principal, where she works in education.  She doesn’t share her adventures in the bar scene in Hollywood with that side of her life, nor are they aware that she was a bartender herself at one time.  The people who know Maura really well know both sides.  It is a dichotomy that she enjoys having.

Neither Maura nor I remember how or when we met.  It was definitely somehow Burgundy Room related.   Her first memories of me go back to the baseball games of our friends’ team the Crawlers.  She also remembers hearing my crazy laugh and thought it was great.   I personally recalled a very brief period of time when my friend Ian was dating our mutual friend, Lauren.   This was maybe 8, 9, or 10 years ago.  At that point, Ian and I were very close friends at the time and I remember meeting Maura through Lauren at that point in time.   Lauren was living near Bronson and Sunset at the time.  I also recalled going to a baseball game where Maura was also in attendance.   There was also a period of time 8, 9, or 10 years ago where Lauren was single and she and I were hanging out a lot and I met a lot of her friends, so it could have been then that we met.   Maura and I are casual acquaintances.  We are definitely comfortable enough with each other when we see each other, but it’s not regularly.   Facebook has gotten us closer.

Maura had secret metal detector installed in the apartment  before my arrival and there’s cameras everywhere, so she’s sure that she’s safe with me there.  To be more serious, she thinks what  I’m doing is a neat idea.  It’s different.  Given the economic climate, she likes that I’m trying to make something out of a not so great situation, and that it’s something artistic and fun.  What a great experience.  And think of all of the stories I’m going to have when I’m through.  Maura is just excited to be a part of it.  And it’s an excuse to have somebody over for dinner too.

One of Maura’s favorite songs is “The Whole of the Moon” by the Waterboys.  She likes that it’s about an optimistic person who’s with someone who is not-so optimistic.  It reminds Maura of the year and a half that she lived in Ireland when she was 19.  It was just a great time in her life.  She was away from her parents and completely on her own for the first time in her life.  She didn’t know what she wanted to study in college, so she went to Ireland to get life experience.  It was fun.  She partied her ass off and did things she probably should never have done.  Maura enjoyed every second of it and made some great friends that she is still friends with.  Everytime she hears that song , she always wants to hear it again.

Maura loves tortilla chips.  She even had some today at lunch.  It’s her downfall.  With guacamole or just plain, it doesn’t matter, although she does prefer them warm and salty.  When she was in Ireland at age 19,  you couldn’t get tortillas there.  So, Maura would ask her Mom send the chips and regular tortillas to her and  Maura would make quesadillas and tacos.  Of course, her Irish roommates would mangle the pronunciation.

Maura can watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” every time it’s on.  She really likes George Bailey.   He’s a really nice guy.  There should be more of him.  She can also watch “Less than Zero” every time it comes on.  Maura read the original book when she was in living in Ireland.  It made her really miss L.A.   She had been to Scream and all of the other places that he goes to.  Maura is really excited that there’s a sequel now.   She also likes “Dangerous Beauty”.   They throw around old school poetry like it’s a rap-off but in these really great dresses.  Maura thinks if she lived during that period of time she would have had to have been a courtesan.   There are so many other good movies.  Maura keeps wanting to cancel the movie channels on her cable but just can’t seem to.

Maura worries about me and what’s going to happen to me and all the editing that I’m going to have to do.   She thinks that there is a lot of things in my experience that people can learn from.  It also great that all of these people are embracing me and opening their doors in these difficult times.  It’s renewed her faith in humanity.   But it’s not just the couches that are getting offered to me.  The video camera that I used was lent to me by a friend.  The digital still camera that I used was offered to me by someone that I didn’t know all that well when this project started.   And it’s not just friends offering couches,  there’s the random strangers too.  So, yeah, It’s renewed my faith in humanity as well.

Once this becomes a major feature film, Maura wants to look at some of the video that I shot and see how real it really is.  She wants to see how drunk we really were at Nico’s house.   Who would play me in the movie?  I ask.   Maura thinks it should be Woody Harrelson.  He’s really good and gets into character.  He’d have to come hangout at the Burgundy Room with us.  I’d take that, there’s a lot suggestions that people could make that I might not be happy with.  Maura also thinks that Tom Cruise could work.  Think Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder.

Maura has a tattoo on her leg.  She got it when she was really young and she did it to annoy her Dad, who is a retired police officer.   She was a really great kid, whereas her brother was not.  Because he wasn’t so good, he got a lot of attention.  Therefore, in order to get attention, Maura did something negative, and got the tattoo.   She’s very into Winnie the Pooh, so she got a tattoo of Tigger. She didn’t like it, and so last year she got it covered up with cherry blossoms.  The cherry blossoms come so briefly and they are so beautiful and represent how life is so fleeting and you need to cherish it.   The tattoo is also something personal. It’s not something, that, as a principal, Maura can’t show at work.  Tattoos are frowned upon there.   But she knows it’s there.  She can be true to herself and still be a professional at work.  That’s where Maura lives.


I left Steve’s early that Tuesday morning and made my way through traffic down I-5 to Sante D’Or Animal Rescue for my weekly volunteer work.   Despite doing this project, I wanted to maintain some semblance of a schedule and going to the rescue every week was my touchstone.  Besides, they are always in need of volunteers, especially during the weekdays.  The general routine is to get there by 9am, but on this day I was late.  In fact, on most weeks during this project I was late getting to the rescue.    I spent the morning at the rescue doing what needed to be done.  That could include feeding the cats and rabbits and possibly a dog or two.  It also includes cleaning the cages, the litter boxes, the dishes, sweeping and mopping.  It includes a number of other smaller things as well and can takes between three to five hours depending on how many other volunteers are there and how many animals are currently in house.  It’s time consuming, physical, dirty work, but  I do actually enjoy it.   After doing that sort of work, I usually feel quite filthy and so I try not to be in public anymore than I have to.    Sometimes I would stop at the Village Bakery and Cafe for a treat, but during this project I didn’t do that all that often, including this day.  I also usually work up a real appetite and need to grab some lunch.  Since I’m in Atwater, that could include an inexpensive hot dog and soda at Costco or a quesadilla at Del Taco, but I also didn’t do that on this day.   Maura had spoke of a having a big dinner with special guests and so I wanted to save my appetite.  I had some salty snacks in my car and those would tide me over ’til dinner.

The drive from the rescue in Atwater to Maura’s in Hancock Park is fairly short.   This was a nice change from the last three days, where it seemed I was going from one end of Southern California to the other.   However, parking at Maura’s wasn’t the easiest.  It’s not that it’s all that difficult to find a space,  it’s more that you have to park a fair distance away from the building and that her apartment was in the rear of the building.  That adds up a lot of walking.  I had my stuff pared down to a reasonable amount by this point.  There was an over night bag, a laptop bag, and my camera bag (which was just one of those green grocery bags).  I might have been still carrying my box of “stuff” in-and-out of each place at this point, but I believe I had done away with that and stashed it away in the trunk of my car.  There also might have been another bag as my overnight bag doubled for my laundry bag and when it got full, I would put the clean clothes in another grocery bag.   Anyway, you get the point.  It’s a small enough amount that I can unload it in one trip when loaded up properly, but it’s a large enough amount that walking three blocks with it was not pleasant.

It was still the middle of the afternoon and Maura had left me the passcode as well as the keys and I made my way in and dropped my stuff.   I then had conversation with my Mom, during which I assured her that I was okay.   She was, of course, concerned for my health and my safety.  I shared a few of the things I had learned at this point, but unlike my normal, long, rambling conversations with her, I kept it short, as I had a few things I wanted to accomplish before Maura arrived home.  I discussed with her the evening I had just spent at Steve and his family’s home and how it struck me that you don’t really know someone ’til you’ve had breakfast with them.  I hoped that my words had alleviated her worries.

After the phone call, I would once again take a much needed shower and get myself ready for the evening.  As I mentioned, working at the rescue is a dirty job and I didn’t want to be in that condition when Maura got home.  While it was unusual in my previous life to have almost no time to take a shower as had happened in the days before, it was even more unusual to take a shower in a different place all the time.  Every place has their peculiarities in regards to water temperature,  water pressure, and lighting, among other things and I found those things fascinating.   Maura’s bathroom is typical of a large, old apartment building.  It is a bit small, but the water was hot and the pressure was strong. She had a radio in there so I could listen to NPR while I took my shower.  That is something I did in my previous life and something I enjoyed when I could.

While getting myself clean, I also noticed that I was getting tan.  Not anything to be proud of, but more like a farmer’s tan.  In other words, it looked like I was wearing a t-shirt when I wasn’t.   My head, neck and arms we’re all a darker shade of pale.   Being a homebody and night owl, this wasn’t something that had happened to me in a while.   I guess this is what having to leave the house and be outside for a good portion of the day does to a person.

In addition to all of this I also checked my email and peeked at my horoscope.  I usually do these things first thing in the morning, but with the morning rush, I hadn’t had time.    I went through and responded to the scheduling discussions, smiled at the show of support including offers of additional couches and politely removed those from the email list who didn’t want to be there.   I also grabbed a glass of juice and took my vitamins.  I generally take a multi-vitamin, Wellness formula, fish oil, and vitamin C.   After having been sick, I was sure to take these every day.   At the same time, I grabbed the salty snacks I had mentioned earlier.  On this day those snacks were Frito-Lay’s Munchies Cheese Fix Mix which includes pretzels, Doritos, and Cheetos.  It’s not the healthiest diet, but as there isn’t a fridge in the car, it was this sort of junk food that was too often part of my diet inbetween couches.  You can also see why I made sure to take those supplements.

While I was snacking away, it was about 5pm and  Maura arrived home.  We then adjourned to the back patio to enjoy some early evening sunshine, the garden, and a glass of wine.  Maura had just become a principal in the Los Angeles Unified School District, so she told me stories about her new job and the personalities involved.  I was also introduced to a couple of  the neighbors as they wandered outside for a smoke.  After sitting there briefly, we decided that we should do the photos and the interview soon, before dinner.  Our friend Rick and his girlfriend Mishi would be coming over and we were well aware that dinner would include and be followed by drinks.  That meant that company would almost immediately be followed by bedtime.   Maura would also be getting up early to go to work, so we had to do everything tonight.  As the photos and the interview are better done without an audience, it was now or never.

We headed inside and I loaded up my 35mm Contax Ax with some Kodak Portra 800.   As I mentioned in the last blog and previously, this was not my first choice.  But it was the only 800 speed color film that there was, so I didn’t have much of a choice.  While this was going on, Maura started to get dinner prepared so that it would be ready as shortly after we were done with our work.  We continued to talk.   I was still experiencing financial difficulties.  Despite not having to pay rent, other expenses had risen to keep my budget at least on par if not raise it.  I wasn’t saving anything.  Being “broke” at certain times in one’s life is a state of mind.  I can’t remember the number of times that people, who I knew full well had a very good income, would complain about being broke.  Sometimes I would have to bite my tongue when they would complain about how high the insurance payments were for their new BMW.  I’m as guilty of doing it as the next person, but while I wasn’t starving, wasn’t at risk for being truly homeless, and didn’t have any insurmountable problems,  at this point I wasn’t exaggerating.  I was broke.  Sure, my unemployment check would be coming in.  But that was already spent.  The bills had piled up and the savings I had hoped to gain by doing this project hadn’t surfaced and it had been three weeks.  While I’ve definitely had more stressful times, financially, in my life, this was still a challenge.  The bill collectors were calling seemingly every day and I still had to figure out how I could make 2 + 2 = 5 and if I couldn’t, what would I do.   I knew that I would figure it out and it would be fine.   I tried not to worry, but it was still stressful.

While Maura continued to make some preparations, I stared out the window at the neighboring building, the El Royale.   When I first moved out to Los Angeles, I had made friends with Max and Marko, a couple of the people who own and run the Hotel Cafe.  This was before they opened the Hotel and we used to all hang out at the Burgundy Room.  As well, on Monday nights we would play poker at Max’s.   His apartment had a view of the El Royale and we would often look out the window to see if we could see anything going on in anyone else’s window.  I don’t remember ever seeing anything very  interesting.  Nevertheless, here I was, 10 years later, doing the same thing.   It’s strange how this journey has taken met through the depths of memory as well as into worlds unknown.

With the discussion of Max’s apartment, Maura told me about one of the interesting characters in the building.  This woman had a window facing Max’s window and one point fired a cross-bow arrow into his place.  Another time, Maura came home to the SWAT team in the hallway.  It seems that the same woman had barricaded herself in her apartment and wouldn’t come out.  Her father was a judger or something, so it was nearly impossible to have her evicted.  We also discussed what was next for me.   God knows what I said that night, but it was probably along the lines of getting the book the done, getting some photo work, making some money, and renting a room in a house.  I’m pretty much still in that boat.   “Gossip Girl” was also discussed.  It was on Maura’s DVR and and I’m sure that if I wasn’t there, she would have been watching it.   It’s her guilty pleasure.

Maura noted that  it was great that I was making the best out of a bad situation.  Maura also told me how my journey reminded her of “Round Ireland with a Fridge” by Tony Hawks.   Tony went hitch hiking around Ireland for a month with a small refrigerator.  He got picked up by a radio show for daily updates and later wrote the book.  A movie was made of it last year.   While not quite the same amount of humor or quirkiness has been involved in my adventure, I hope others see it in a similar way to Tony Hawks’.  I’m a bit more serious and philosophical than he is, but hopefully people find it amusing as well.

As part of this project I wanted to learn more about my hosts.  And as part of that I studied what they had on display in the homes.  So, I began to look around Maura’s apartment at the variety of photographs and interesting things that I could ask her about.  In a collage of sorts framed and hanging on her foyer wall was an old photo of great-grandmother.   It was quite an old photograph, and, being a photographer, it grabbed my attention.  There were a number of other things, some of which you can see in the photos featured on this blog

Along the lines of getting to know me better, Maura asked me how I knew another friend of mine, Anne.   Maura had noticed that I was Facebook friends with Anne.  I know Anne through my friend Tim.  Which, if you are counting, makes the third reference to Tim in three couches.   Anne also works in education.   This whole conversation raised the topics of facebook and six degrees of separation.  I often find it curious to see which friends and acquaintances of mine know which other, seemingly unrelated friends and acquaintances.   It’s such a small world and on this journey I was constantly reminded of that.

About this time we finally sat down so that I could conduct my interview and portrait session.  Our guests for the night, Rick and Mishi, would arrive near the end of the interview, but that wouldn’t deter me from finishing.  Funny enough, when they arrived, Maura and I both ignored the door in order to finish what we were doing.  By the time we had reached a good moment to break, Rick and Mishi were no longer at the door, leaving a twelve pack of Budweiser.  It was as if they were beer fairies.  I got a laugh out of it then and it still makes me smile.  Part of this also has to do with the fact that I had been asked what kind of beer I wanted.  I’m a Newcastle drinker these days, and because I was asked, I said that.   Somehow that translated to Budweiser and by the point that it arrived, I was just glad to have a beer.   Don’t get me wrong, I like Budweiser.  I mostly found it funny that I was asked at all, as I wasn’t paying a dime for it.  Rick lives upstairs, so when they disappeared,  they didn’t go far and as we closed in on the finish of the interview, they returned, letting themselves in.  I would say my hellos and how do you dos, return to taking a few more photos of the couch, and then put the serious work aside,  keeping my notebook and camera handy  so that I could record and remember every last detail of the rest of the evening.

I cracked open one of the beers that Rick had brought and the evening of conversation, food, and cold beverages began.  Rick told me about how he had recently moved into the building.  He didn’t want to get cable, so instead got one of those mobile internet cards so that he could access things like netflix online.  However, he read the contract wrong and ran up a bill in the hundreds of dollars.  Lesson learned.  Luckily he was finding it amusing enough.   And as he was amused, I smiled too.  This sort of expense wasn’t something I had to currently worry about and so I found the whole story amusing as well.

We discussed Rick’s work as a Private Investigator and once I was caught up on the latest investigation, the topic somehow devolved into a discussion about transvestite hookers.   We lived near a part of Hollywood, where when you saw what you thought was a woman, it wasn’t always  a woman.  In fact, I learned to tell the difference, although it always that hard.   However, I have had friends from out of town get easily confused.  I specifically remember a late night outside a bar called 3 Clubs.  My friend spotted a “woman” and responded with a wow.  Now it was dark and there was alcohol involved, so I’ll cut him some slack.  I corrected him immediately,   “That’s not a woman”.  He was in disbelief and had to walk closer to this person to check. He returned convinced that I was correct.  Looks can be deceiving.

While telling these sorts of stories, I noticed Maura’s shelf of Dodger bobble heads.  She had a number of them including the random Randy Johnson Arizona Diamondbacks bobble head and a Tommy Lasorda one as well. At one point I had a small collection myself. I had had a partial season ticket a few years ago and had been to quite a few games.  But, in my effort to reduce the amount of stuff I had in my apartment, I sold them off and gave them away.  I still have more of that work to do when I finally have my own home or room once again.  In a way, I can’t wait to get back to that work.  I found it interesting what people chose to collect.  As well I was glad that I really didn’t have those sort of urges any more. I  wanted less, not more, and so I while I could appreciate the collection, I was not jealous of it or longing for something similar.

Rick then asked me if I had seen the flowers outside.  While I had enjoyed the garden, I hadn’t studied anything.  Apparently the flowers were in bloom and they were a bit unusual.  They bloom at night and upside down.  He wanted to be sure that I saw them.  I don’t  remember what kind they were, but they definitely were beautiful.  Not having a garden or plants in my old place, I had missed such things.

It was now dinner time.  Maura had prepared a delicious pork roast as well as cauliflower and green and yellow beans. I had a glass of red wine to wash it down.   It was served on her grandmother’s china.   This was a special occasion.  This was quite a treat.   To top it off, we  had ice cream for desert.

After dinner we remained at the table, I opened another beer, and we continued talking.  The conversation was loose and fun and the topics changed quickly.  Maura and Rick  discussed going out for happy hour.  Maura and Rick are fun people and like having a good time.  Not that my other friends didn’t like to have a good time,  but Maura and Rick are two of my friends that I especially think of when I want to do something fun.

We also talked about our plans for Independence Day, July 4th.  In the past, there were always fireworks over the golf course across the street from their building.  Because of that, there was always a party in the building, if not multiple parties of all sizes.  These parties would culminate in everyone gathering on the roof for the fireworks.  In my previous life, I had lived nearby, so it was usually the destination providing someone that I knew in the building invited me or was at least willing to let me in.  In addition to Maura and Rick living here as well as Max having lived here, I also had numerous friends live in this building over the years.  So much so, that it’s sometimes been referred to as the “Burgundy Dorms” since most of these people had worked at or were regulars at the Burgundy Room, one of my favorite local bars.  This year,  I don’t believe that there was going to be fireworks on the golf course, or maybe it was just that neither and Rick nor Maura were going to be there.   Rick said  that he would be heading to Ricky Vodka’s house and Maura was off to Las Vegas.    I knew that I wouldn’t be joining them at either place, but would instead be continuing my travels and would be spending that day and night on my friends Stephen and Liz’s couch.  It would still be a work day of sorts for me.

We also told stories about stealing cable in the 80’s.  For those of you old enough, you’ll remember those big cable boxes where you had a whopping 36 channels or something like that.  I remember that the device was so lo-fi that you could fold an index card and put it through a slit at the seam and wham!  you had HBO.  We briefly discussed porn including the widely-publicized “Two girls, one cup” and all the parodies on it.  I hadn’t seen it, but I knew the premise, and that was enough for me.

Maura escaped to have a smoke outside and the conversation continued.  Mishi talked about working for Forrest Ackerman as a caretaker at the “AckerMansion” and living in the “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” room.  She also told the story of how she brought in a pink couch and after intially wanting to get rid of it, she was convinced to put it in the Bela Lugosi/Boris Karloff room.   It, of course, stood out, but that was the point and the joke.  Rick and I also talked about owning Volkswagens.  He’s always hadVW Beetles.   With his recent move, the one that he currently had was being stored in a friend’s garage.  The talk of beetles let to that of bugs, junebugs specifically, which made themselves known that evening.  We talked about Ireland and the violence that had happened years ago.  Maura is Irish-American and still has family there.   She was planning a trip for Christmas.  We talked about the movie “Religulous” by Bill Maher.  “Toy Story III” was also discussed in this conversation.  We spoke of first dates.  Maura has a quite a few stories about bad first dates.  One of those featured her date meeting her at the Dodger game and showing up drunk.  Rick was her wingman for the night and they decided it was best to ditch the guy.   However, when they did, the guy took off with Maura’s jacket.  And that’s just one story.  The Hootenanny was also brought up.  The Hootenanny is annual music festival/car show of sorts that takes place in Orange County.  In 2010 the headliners were  Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis.   I’ve never been, but every year it looks interesting.   Perhaps Rick had been thinking about going there, but I don’t recall.   By the time I had reached this portion of the schedule, I was pretty drunk.  I had tried to keep up with Rick while downing my beers and sipping my bourbon.   The handwriting on my notes is sloppy and my memory even sloppier.   I do remember Maura painting her finger and toe nails but not much more.  The conversation was good, the drinks went down easily, and the food was delicious.   Before I knew it Maura was packing up the leftovers for Rick and both he and Mishi headed out.  Maura finished up getting ready for bed and I followed suit.  The TV went on for a little bit and we watched a bit of Family Guy before I then turned on Sportscenter  for a few minutes.  With the bed made and my teeth brushed, I fell asleep just about the moment my head hit the pillow at 1130pm.  With all the booze in my system, some warm and fuzzy blankets, I slept so well.

I was awoken just before 7am as Maura got ready and then left for work.  I didn’t move from the couch and barely said more than thank you.    I remember that, because Maura also said thank you.  Thank you to me?!  What did I do?  I showed up, used her apartment, ate her food, drank her wine, and watched her television among other things.  But as my mother told me numerous times on this journey, when someone helps you, they get more out of it than you do.   Or something like that.  She put it much more eloquently than I have.  I get that, but nevertheless, it still struck me as strange every time someone was thankful for my visit.

After Maura left, I flipped on the television and watched the US play in the World Cup for a little while.  I was coughing this morning.  When I haven’t gotten enough sleep I always wake up coughing.    I was often coughing  in the morning on this journey.   As I lay there I remember the dreams I had had.  I dreamt that a friend of mine was a doctor and that she was giving me advice.   When I do awake and remember my dreams, I like to try to remember all the details and then look up the meanings.  In this case it seems that I needed emotional and spiritual healing. Or maybe that I needed a physical check up.  Of course, since she wasn’t an actual doctor, it also could have meant that I needed to be cautious of people who claimed to be what they are not.   Hmmm….

I didn’t get up for a while.  I dozed in and out of sleep while the television broadcast silently in the background with the sound muted.  Eventually I got up and made some coffee.  Maura doesn’t drink coffee, but does usually have some really good coffee in her place.  There wasn’t any milk, but I made due with almond milk.  It was actually pretty good.  As I hadn’t really  taken any photos around the house, I  took my couch photos as well as pictures of all kinds of things around the house, some of which we had discussed the night before, including an artistic black and white nude photograph of Maura’s Aunt when she was pregnant back in the ’70’s.  I also captured my favorites with shots of her bookshelf, refrigerator door, and various funny signs and knick-knacks around the place.  Not in any rush to go anywhere quite yet, I was also able to go through my so-called normal routine.  I checked my email and other  things before finally leaving at around 145pm.  Checking my regular mail, getting more film and stopping for lunch were on the agenda before I got to my next couch in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of 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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