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I tried to commit suicide [Part 2]
Part 1 Thank you for your support. I have tried to take my own life many times these past few days. After I got mugged, the cut on my neck soon healed. Once I had posted what happened, I spent a long while crying. Then I looked at the responses. Everyone had been so kind, they were the first external words of kindness I had received from people that weren’t my mom, or Stephanie in months. One of the responses gave an interesting point, I needed to search my mom’s office to see if there was an explanation for my apparent invulnerability, and immortality. I turned the room upside down searching for anything, anything that could give a clue as to what was going on. All I found was bills, old photos, and letters. I dumped the contents of one envelope onto the desk. The envelope was addressed to my mom, and me, and was dated from five months before I was born. ‘Mellissa, I’m sorry, but I must leave you’ Read the first sentence. ‘Jessie will have to grow up without me. I want to see more of the world, but I ask you one thing. Give her this, it’s like mine, and she must not take it off from the moment she is born. You know just as well as I do that my origins mean I cannot stay. Olympus calls. If you need me, you know where to find me’ It was signed with my father’s name. Written on the back of the letter was an address. Inspecting the letter further, I could see a stain from an adhesive that must have kept the object stuck to it. What have I nearly never taken off since I was born. What had my father left me. My necklace. I yelped as the realisation hit me like the person who gave me a nosebleed last week. I reread the address, and typed it into google maps. It was more than an hour away by car, and it also seemed to be on the edge of a mountain range. I needed to find my father, to comfort me, help me, and find out why I was incapable of dying. I once again went into the kitchen, and removed a knife, and then I removed my necklace. I screamed with pain, as I felt like my heart was being torn out of my body, I picked up the knife, and through the pain, once again tried to cut off one of my extra fingers. I felt the knife pierce my skin, and saw through the bone, after a horrible amount of time, and the feeling I was dealing with without my necklace, the finger came off. No red strings of light to pull it back and knead together and heal it. My blood began to spill out of my hand, and the pain from the lack of my necklace was instantly replaced with the pain of the bleeding. I realised what I had done and fumbled to reattach the necklace, and realised how strange it felt to have one less finger. I closed the clasp around my neck, and instantly the red light snaked out of my fingers, wrapped around my sixth digit, and pulled it toward me, and kneaded my skin, and bone, reattaching it. I breathed a sigh of relief and began to clean up my blood. The necklace was what was preventing my demise, but I needed to know how, and why. I inspected the necklace. It was a goldish bronzy colour, and had a small orange jewel in the centre of the faceplate. There was nothing remarkable about it, but I couldn’t place my finger on what the jewel might be, but it did look expensive. I still shook as I grabbed the car keys, grabbed some lunch from the fridge, and began to drive to the address. An hour and a half later, I arrived at the address. It was a dishevelled shack. I stepped inside. Inside it was like a reception area, there was a single desk, behind which sat an elderly woman. “Can I see your Kardia?” She asked me. “My what?” “Your Kardia” She gestured to my necklace. I stepped closer, and she grabbed it by the chain and took a closer look at it. “Seems legitimate enough” She scowled, almost as if she wanted to get me in trouble, just so she’d have something better to do. “Welcome Jessica, son of Oswin. Walk straight through the mountain until you reach the sign, and then you’ll be beamed up” “Walk through the mountain?” “Yes, you have been to Elysium before, haven’t you?” “Yes” I lied. I followed her instruction, and walked out of the back door. The mountain stood in front of me. I pressed on, and then ran into the rock, expecting the worst. I phased through the rock. I was in a straight tunnel. I turned behind me, there was only solid rock. I tried to stick my hand through it, but I couldn’t. The tunnel was dimly lit by torches which burned without flickering. I continued through the passage for a few minutes, and then I saw it. There was a sign at the end, and it read ‘Five seconds after you finish reading this sign you will be teleported to Elysium, some may experience nausea, if so then use a beam safe anti-sickness pill to counter it.’ “What the-” Suddenly, my vision blurred, and the tunnel around me seemingly melted away. Suddenly I was standing on a cloud, in a strange city. “Watch where you’re teleporting” Yelled a man dressed in a toga at me “You nearly fused into me, imagine the mess we’d be in” I hurried away. Where was I, why was I here, and what was this place. Two of those questions could be responded to with a single answer. Elysium. I searched my memory for anything about Elysium I had learned in my history classes. Elysium, a place created by the Gods for heroes they deemed immortal. But that was from Greek mythology, and I was a devout Christian. I clutched my Kardia closer to me, for comfort, before I then noticed that everyone else was wearing a Kardia too. I wasn’t alone. Their Kardia were all sorts of colours, and with all sorts of jewels and stones, and all were necklaces. I stumbled backwards as a woman in a suit pushed past me, and I fell through some curtains and into a small room. There was another sign that read ‘Information Stand: Helping those new to Elysium’ A book lay on the table. It was thousands of pages long, however there was a single instruction on the cover. ‘State what you want explained, and or what you wish to find, the book will do the rest’ “My father” I stuttered. The book began turning over thousands of pages all on it’s own, flicking through page after page, until it found what it was looking for. It showed me a picture of my father in a casino of sorts, and there was text underneath. ‘Oswin, also known as Norman Goodwin’ That was my fathers name ‘is an immortal hailing from the golden age of the immortals. Taking a thirty year break to reside on Earth, Norman has no known descendants, and is quoted as saying that even if he did, he wants nothing to do with them. Currently in the Olympian Casino, located on 126 Olympian Street, Elysium’ So my dad was an Immortal. That made sense, and explained much of what had been happening. I grabbed a map from a store of leaflets, and found the address. I have some loose ends to tie up, and once I've done that, I'm going to live in peace, and nothing can stop me now. Part 3
As far as family heirlooms go, the rug was a singularly ugly one. Nobody in our family knew who the first owner had been. Probably some very distant ancestor, as it was most certainly old, with faded colours, a spread of unnameable stains, and well-frayed tassels. I’d been told it was Persian in origin, although it didn’t conform to the normal design of such rugs. It was far too large for most rooms, and woven with intricate patterns that would have delighted M.C. Escher himself. As a little girl, it had fascinated me. The dozens of complex, looping spirals had fired my curiosity, and I longed to trace them with my finger, to follow those labyrinthine lines all the way to the centre. But my great uncle would have none of that. Whenever I made a move for the heirloom rug, he’d snatch me up and scold me, telling me not to touch it. He’d distract me with marvellous candies and sweets from different countries, and would tell me stories about little girls who did things they weren’t supposed to. All of them met with sticky ends. I suppose that’s why it came as a shock to me, when my uncle vanished and didn’t return, that I was the relative who inherited the labyrinth carpet. It was much too big for any room in my rented flat. My uncle had become wealthy in his youth, travelling overseas and returning with great fortunes, claiming he’d won them from foreign dignitaries in games of chance and wit. Certainly, he was rich enough to own a house with grand rooms that would fit the giant carpet. When I was younger I’d believed every one of his tall tales. Apart from anything else, the man was a champion chess player of the highest order, so his stories of emerging victorious from any game he cared to play seemed very plausible. But as I’d grown older, I realised that it was much more likely my uncle was just a gambler. More specifically, the sort of gambler who cheats. His body was never found, and that bore out my theory. Towards the end, friends and relatives said he’d grown increasingly paranoid, and his dwindling wealth became his greatest concern. They also said he talked constantly of having “Just one more adventure”, which they all assumed meant going back overseas and finding some Iranian prince to swindle. Whatever the case, he was gone, along with his fortunes, leaving nothing but a carpet that I couldn’t use. So, for the longest time, the heirloom rug stayed rolled up and stuffed into the back of my garage, where it sat in a great awkward ‘U’ shape, collecting dust and moths. It wasn’t until the fire that I realised that it was much more than just a carpet. Most of the neighbour’s house had burned down, taking the hedge, the wooden fence and half my garage with it. The fire fighters had sprayed down the side of my own home, to stop the heat and flames from spreading further while they put out the blaze next-door. Thankfully, there hadn’t been that much inside the garage; some things my landlord left behind, a few boxes of junk and garbage bags full of old clothes, a rusty bicycle I never used, and the Persian rug. I was almost relieved that the thing was gone; every time I thought about moving house, I dreaded the idea of lugging it along with me. But when I saw the lumpy tube on the back lawn, grey-brown tassels and dusty spirals soaked with sooty water, I felt a strange sense of dread and relief, all mixed together. Somehow the carpet had survived. “Don’t understand it myself,” said one of the firemen, stripped down now to just his pants and a t-shirt, “should have burned up with the rest, but it’s not even singed.” “Probably got asbestos fibres all through it,” said his colleague, a short, stocky woman with soot on her face, “might want to get it tested, could be dangerous.” “I will, I’ll get it checked out,” I assured her. After they left, I stared at the rolled up carpet for the longest time, before spreading it out on the grass so it could dry in the sun. The morning light was kind to the carpet, picking out highlights of gold and silver thread. Still faintly damp, it seemed that the water from the fire fighter’s hoses had done it some good – it looked cleaner than it had since I was a child. It’s funny how a child’s mind works; because I swear it seemed smaller when I was a little girl, which is the opposite of what I would have expected. That morning, the carpet seemed more enormous than ever, covering the entirety of the back yard. It was still an ugly thing. The dozens of spiralled mazes did strange things to the eyes, and made me feel slightly sick if I looked at it for too long – but it had an odd kind of allure now that its threads were cleaner. Deciding to make the best of the situation, I took a scrubbing brush and a bar of laundry soap to it, then hosed it down again, to wash off the suds and grime I’d lifted away. Once I was finished, the spirals stood out starkly; a curious labyrinth of interconnecting circles, a singular path wending its way through the intricate patterns. Gazing at it, I felt something shift in my head, and right on the edge I could suddenly see where it all began – the entrance to the labyrinth. As soon as I put my hand to the threads, I knew something magical was happening. Something impossible – for as my finger began to trace the path, the carpet seemed to expand and rise, until I was standing inside the pattern, the tapestried walls of a labyrinth springing up around me. Now I understood why my uncle had always been so quick to stop me touching it. I didn’t stay long, that first time. Shocked by the sudden, dizzy transformation, I stepped abruptly backward – and out of the maze. The carpet sprawled across the lawn, gleaming faintly, an eldritch presence that didn’t belong in a back yard in suburbia. Trembling with excitement, I went back inside the house and made a cup of tea to soothe my jangled nerves, trying to decide what to do next. Either I was going suddenly and completely mad, or that had really just happened. Either way, I had to try and go back in, there was no question. I didn’t feel mad. Impossible or not, it seemed like my uncle had known this secret since I was a child, and the fact that he’d shared it with no one meant something – though as yet I wasn’t sure what. I recalled the tale of Perseus and the Labyrinth, from a hefty book of myths and legends I’d read as a child. In it, the hero had carried a ball of twine and his father’s sword – the first to trace his path back out, the second to slay the beast that lived within the maze. Taking a ball of string from the kitchen drawer, and a knife from the wooden block beside the microwave, I ventured back outside and tied one end of the string around the remains of a tree stump in the corner of the yard. Tucking the knife into the back of my jeans, I bent down and began to trace the path. Fear and excitement thrilled through me as the world started to recede, and the Labyrinth grew up around me once again. The walls, I discovered, were made of the same stuff as the carpet itself, and the gold and silver weft glittered in the uniform light that shone from above. Great spiral patterns scrolled across the threaded walls, while the ground upon which I stood was a white road bordered with more of the same spiralling designs. It felt springy and tough beneath my feet, but I could not have said what it was made from. As I walked, my string dangling behind me, the walls seemed to grow taller, more imposing. Soon they loomed over me, letting in very little light and leaching all colour from my surroundings. Just before my string ran out, I saw something on the road ahead of me, shining in the dimness. A golden coin. The air was chilly now, cold enough that I began to shiver. There was no wind, the labyrinth was eerily still, but just on the range of my hearing, I fancied I could hear a sound. My mind couldn’t quite interpret what it was, but it registered as something very wrong. I snatched the coin and hurried back, coiling the string around my arm as I made my hasty exit from the maze. The coin collector gave me a thousand dollars for my find, and apologised that he couldn’t offer more. When he asked where it came from, I explained that I’d found it stitched inside an old Persian rug I’d inherited from my great uncle. Of course, I omitted mentioning that I had been inside the carpet when I found it. With the money in my pocket, I felt strangely calm. I wouldn’t have to worry about rent for several weeks and I could pay a couple of minor debts. I’d never been very good with money, and this was the kind of windfall I’d only ever dreamed about. But I didn’t quite spend all of the money on rent and debts. I kept a few of those dollars to buy a large quantity of brightly coloured string. On my third and fourth trips into the maze, I found nothing but empty and endless corridors flanked with towering, threaded walls. It became so dark that I needed a flashlight to see the way forward, and only the thinnest strip of grey sky showed far, far above me. But on my fifth trip into the labyrinth, I stumbled across something new. That sound was persistent in the distant now, barely audible, just loud enough to raise the hairs on the back of my neck. My mind had been picking at it as I walked, trying to unravel what it was, and why it was familiar. I realised that I’d heard a sound like it once before, when I was a child, visiting my grandfather’s farm. It had woken me in the middle of the night; a strange, shrill noise that was a cry for help, but inhuman. I’d crept out of bed and clambered out my window, following the eerie noise through the gates and over the fences of the farm, across two creeks, until I found the origin of the sound. A bull, impaled on an iron fencing post. Its mournful cries tore through the silence of the night as it rolled its eyes at me, mad with pain. Its body heaved and steamed as it tried to pull free of the metal stake, blood flowing freely down its flank. The sound in the labyrinth was the same, but somehow bigger, darker, and much more angry. As that memory clicked into place, I realised the corridor had opened into a courtyard, ringed by the colossal carpeted walls. Bones lay scattered all about the grey flagstones, a great mess of them surrounding an empty stone plinth. But the beam of my torch also picked out a handful of gold and silver coins, strewn near the entrance around my feet. Stuffing them into my pockets, I gave the charnel courtyard a last, fearful once-over, then left, hurriedly retracing my steps. It's interesting, what sudden wealth can do to a person. I found several collectors online who purchased my coins – two for truly exorbitant amounts – and rented a larger place, nearer the city. It caught my eye for one very particular reason; it had one room large enough for the carpet. My explorations took up a lot of my free time now, as the further in I travelled, the longer it took me to get in and out. Braving my way past the courtyard of bones, I eventually discovered another one laid out just like it. But instead of being strewn with bones, the flagstones of this courtyard were spattered with dark stains, and the stone plinth was smashed to bits. The shrieking, undulating cry of pain in the distance became louder and louder. I was undeterred, forced onward by my greed. The maze became familiar to me, as did the weight of my new backpack full of string, dribbling twine behind me like the distended abdomen of a spider. I was grateful for my forethought; because in an instant, you could become disoriented in the maze, not knowing if you were going forward or backward. By the time I found the third courtyard, the swelling groans in the distance no longer bothered me so much. The flagstones of this one were unsullied. The plinth was intact, and upon it rested a small ebony chest, bound with bands of bronze. I knew what was inside it, before I even lifted the lid. When my eager eyes fell upon the glint of bright coins, there was no surprise, only the heady, satisfying buzz of fulfilment. The penthouse had several rooms large enough for my carpet, but I kept it locked away from guests – and there were now plenty of those. It seems that wealth buys friends very easily, although they may not be the kinds of friends you want to share your secrets. When I’d grown tired of parties and expensive clothes, and when I’d fucked my way through most of my new companions, I realised that there was only one prospect that truly thrilled me now: accumulating even more wealth. The casinos welcomed me at first, but when money stuck to my fingers rather than leaving them, they didn’t seem so friendly. Egged on by my own success, I started to wager greater and greater sums, as though I were testing just how far I could push Lady Luck before she decided she’d had enough of her latest lover. And eventually, she did. In a single night, with one throw of a pair of Perspex dice, I lost my entire fortune. Of course, I was not as concerned as most people would have been, finding myself in that unfortunate position; I ran straight back into the Labyrinth. Still dressed in my red, watered silk dress, my heels were discarded at the entrance, and I padded barefoot through the corridors. The noise of the wounded creature was just an irritation now, no longer something to fear; only a distraction from the pull of the wealth ahead of me. But something was wrong. I was well past the third courtyard, seeking the fourth one that I knew must exist, when I realised I’d forgotten my backpack. The walls loomed around me, black and threatening – and somewhere nearby, anger and pain mingled in the terrible shriek of the beast, echoing through the curving passages. Just as real despair began to creep down my spine, I realised that ahead of me was an opening. This courtyard was full of dead leaves, completely still in the stale, breathless air of the labyrinth. Piles of them were heaped up around the familiar shape of a stone plinth. Weeping with relief, I saw the unopened ebony box atop it, and I ran through the orange and brown drifts, kicking them out of my way in my eagerness to crack open the lid and survey my new fortune. But this time I was surprised. No coins greeted me. Instead, I found a small bronze knife, its handle inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and a message carved inside the lid of the chest. I would swear the crude characters did not belong to any alphabet I knew, yet I could clearly divine their meaning: With a cut, the way is revealed I swore then, loudly and profanely. As if in response, the mad scream of the wounded beast echoed through the maze – closer now, close enough to make me afraid. But I didn’t know which way was out; the leaves had settled, and the walls all looked the same. I chose one passage at random, running for a full ten minutes through those identical corridors before confusion set in. Was I going deeper into the maze, or was I leaving it? Pushing onward, I reasoned that I’d know soon enough – either I’d reach a fifth courtyard, or I’d find my way back to the third. When instead I emerged back into the courtyard full of leaves, I screamed in frustration. Twice more I ran off, twice more I came back to the courtyard of leaves. But was it the same courtyard? What if the fifth courtyard was also full of leaves, and also contained an empty box? What if the sixth and seventh did too? I had no way of knowing. Dimly, I registered that a new sound now accompanied the mournful, maddening howl in the distance. A faint rumble, as though something huge was moving through the maze. Frightened, I tightened my hand around the blade of the little bronze knife, cutting my palm. As I yelped in pain, bright blood spilled from my flesh. No, not blood; thread! It spooled to the ground, looping into a pile, then shot off into a corridor, and I knew it was showing me the way home. The rumbling was thunderous now, and a faint breeze, the first I had ever felt within the carpeted maze, stirred my dress. The trickle of blood slowed, then stopped. The blood thread carried on only a few hundred metres, and so I cut into the meat of my palm again – deeper this time. Four more times I opened my flesh before I followed the red trail into the third courtyard, the one where I’d found the box of coins. I could feel the ground trembling under my feet now, a steady, pounding shudder in time with the rumble growing ever less distant. I pricked the pulsing vein at my wrist with the knife, just enough to let out a steady stream of blood – and then I ran, the path of thread flowing and racing ahead of me. When I reached the courtyard of bones, the nearest wall shuddered and deformed, with a deafening roar from the other side. It shook again, then again, before the beast stopped trying to rip its way through the seemingly impermeable carpet. The thunder resumed, the flagstones jumping under my feet. I was weak now, but the entrance was close. My vision swam, and the roaring rage of the beast rang inside the vault of my skull. I stumbled back from one wall as it rocked under my hand, the thread bulging as something tried again to force its way through. The height of the walls was shorter now, so I knew the exit was very near. But my left foot no longer felt right; with every step, I sank and listed, as though the ground had grown soft. I looked down. It wasn’t the ground that had grown soft; it was my foot. Threads spooled from my toes, the flesh itself unravelling into the same stuff as the labyrinth. My veins were thin strings of red wool, my sinews glittered gold and silver. Cursing and weeping, I pushed on. I had no other chance. I heard a great rip as something gave way in the fabric of the maze, but I limped and dragged myself steadily onward, clawing my way along the wall as my leg unravelled to the knee. And then I was lying on the floor in the artificial light of my penthouse, a mess of ragged threads dangling from where my knee had once been. But I was safe. I was alive. I tried to stand, but something pulled. A single thread was still linked to the carpet, and it was being tugged from the inside. Screaming, I grabbed the thread and pulled back, but it spooled through my fingers, burning a line across the bloody flesh of my palm as it tore through my grasp. Past the knee and up my thigh, my skin continued to spool away as the beast inside the carpet yanked it inside with superhuman strength. Weeping, I realised that I couldn’t win. As the last threads of my leg spun away, I cut through them with the bronze knife. The prosthetic fits me well enough, and I’ve adjusted to life with one leg. But I still have nightmares about the labyrinth. The penthouse is gone, along with all the clothes, the shoes and the friends who weren’t really friends. Only the cursed, persistent, ugly carpet remains. Today I filled it with scrap lead and bound it with wire – and tomorrow I will row out into the sea until my arms can’t take anymore, then I will toss the evil thing into the ocean, where I hope it will never be found again. I have a feeling I’m wrong. I have a feeling it’s going to turn up somewhere were someone will find it. Probably someone who isn’t very good with money. Someone who really needs a break. If that someone is you, then I advise you to be very careful. And don’t forget your string.
I posted a few photos from the first week of a road trip around the USA I'm doing at the moment. Some requested a write up, so here's part 1 for anyone interested!
OK, so bear with me because I'm not the greatest with formatting. But I'll try my best! As the title suggests, I posted some photos of the first week and a bit of a 6 month solo road trip I am currently undertaking around the USA and parts of Canada. They were received relatively well, and some people asked if I could do some updates along the way. So here's the first one and hopefully it can inspire some people to do similar! Why? Firstly, some background on the trip. Around about 4-5 years ago I had a pretty shitty bout with anxiety and depression. This isn't a sob story so don't feel bad for me, I'm actually quite good now. But anyway, after a few trips to a Psychologist, we both decided that it would be a good idea to set a goal that would actually get me through the days. As a university student coming to the end of my degree, starting work didn't really excite me. So after some deliberation it was decided the only thing that excited me was travel, and no matter what type of work I got upon graduation, I would do it for about 2-3 years and save everything to put towards a 6 month road trip across North America. I actually studied American History at uni, so obviously that's what drew me here. More topical to current events, I actually took a lot of inspiration from Anthony Bourdain. Sounds made up now, but RIP. Where? I started planning this trip as soon as the decision was made. So if you're wondering why things are so detailed, that's probably why. Originally a lot was focussed around things with historical significance, like American Revolutionary sites, or Civil War Memorial, etc. But I've also always had a love for nature and hiking so that's where the National/State/Regional Parks come into play. Then the love of food travel shows started to seep in. Anthony Bourdain being the main one, then a bit sillier shows like Man Vs. Food, and yes, even Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives played a role, for as much shit that Guy Fieri (deservedly) cops here. This drew me to certain cities. I had already done a 5 week trip to the USA in 2013/14 for Christmas and NYE where I hit the main touristy spots like NYC, Vegas, LA, etc. So this trip was to focus more on the small towns, national parks, and open road. When? My previous trip was over Winter, so this trip had to be warmer weathegreener pastures. Originally planning to start in June, it just so happened that a sale popped up around January for return flights from Melbourne to LAX for AU$850 leaving in May and returning in November. Too good not to pass up and not that far from what I had planned anyway. Only problem is I cut it a little short because my cousin is getting married on November 10th and I couldn't miss it, so I arrive back in Melbourne the morning of... Cutting it fine, I know. Itinerary Now to the stuff that people will probably actually care about. My general direction that I'm heading in is a loop from LA, back to LA. That was the best looking map I could make out, but it gives you the idea. The good thing is I only have things booked about a week in advance at this stage, so it's more a 'rough' itinerary than anything. I arrived in the country on May 20th and have a ticket home on November 8th. It was best to have a return ticket because otherwise those border guards will be on your back and you put yourself at risk of getting turned back at the airport. May 20th - June 8th So now to the actual good stuff, with pictures and all! Going through each place I've been, what I enjoyed there and recommendations. This will probably be the way each subsequent post will be set out, if I commit to doing them (which I have a tendency to be terrible with commitment). Los Angeles, CA. 20/05 - 21/05: OK, now when I say Los Angeles, I didn't actually spend any time in LA outside of the Airport. I got my car and took it straight to a place called Santa Paula, CA. I've been to LA before, spent about a week there, did everything touristy, and didn't particularly enjoy it. Not to say others wouldn't find it enjoyable, just not for me. Santa Paula itself isn't much to write about, but the drive from Santa Paul to Fresno had some cool parts.
Took the coastal route to Santa Barbara, up to San Luis Obispo, and on to Fresno
Santa Barbara is a pretty expensive beach town with million dollar houses in the hills looking over the coast. I didn't spend long here but I did take a stroll through Paseo Nuevo, an outdoor mall which has a pretty cool Spanish vibe to it. Bought some US$150 Ray Bans here and then subsequently left them on a tram in San Francisco days later... nice
Fresno, CA. 21/05 - 23/05: Now I know what you're thinking, "Who the hell would go to Fresno?" I say this, because basically everyone I encountered in Fresno asked me that question. I went because it was a good base to explore the Sierra National Forest. Can't say much about Fresno, though. Also, a little side note, I'm not that proud of my photos early on. Everything is shot with my iPhone and it's taking me a little time to figure out how to get the best shot. Still in the process.
Driving from Fresno to Lakeshore, my first stop was at Shaver Lake. Not sure if the depleted water levels are from the drought, but wouldn't be surprised. The drive through pine forest was pretty good to this point, but got better as you got further into the forest.
A short hike to Rancheria Fall was definitely the highlight of the day. It started raining on me whilst walking to the falls, but by the time I was there it was hard to tell if it was rain or spray from the falls.
Santa Cruz, CA. 23/05 - 26/05: Originally, I wanted to stay in Monterey for this portion. However, everything was either way too expensive or booked out, so I settled for Santa Cruz. Or more specifically, Felton, which is out the back of Santa Cruz. I was happy with the decision.
I was staying right near Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, which had 100+ year old Redwoods everywhere and also a cool floor of clovers Funny story about the park, its namesake was actually an industrialist who cut down the majority of the original redwoods for profit. After he died the govt wanted to buy the land to preserve the forest, so the family agreed on condition it was named after him. A preservation park named after a guy who did the complete opposite
Big Sur is where it's at. The coast drive is phenomenal. I believe there were landslides recently so I could only really make it to Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park, but that was enough
Sausalito/San Francisco, CA. 26/05 - 29/05: I stayed in a hostel across the Golden Gate Bridge which I believe fell under Sausalito, but was in the Marin Headlands. I'd been to San Francisco previously so didn't feel the need to spend all my time in the city. I would park on the outskirts and catch the BART to downtown.
I'm a big fan of Sausalito. Something about the town itself has a really nice vibe to it and they have fantastic views back on the city. I had a nice dinner at Poggio Trattoria, which was probably a bit upscale for me but was super nice. Also enjoyed a beer at No Name Bar with a local who had retired and filled in as a bar tender. We watched one of the Golden State finals, good fun.
Onto the city itself. Most of the things I did were touristy. If you're not into crowds I would stay away from Pier 39. That was in May, remember. I can only imagine what July/August would be like. But it was pretty cool to see the sea lions at the pier.
I made my way up Coit Tower, which had some pretty amazing views of the city. Again, though, if lines aren't your thing I'd recommend not coming here. Probably waited around 40 mins to get up there for a total of 5 mins. I was fine with it, but can imagine not everyone would be.
I originally wanted to see a San Francisco Giants Baseball game, however they weren't playing. So I went across to Oakland to see the Athletics play. I don't know much about Baseball, but I'm an A's fan now.
And of course, how could I forget the good old Golden Gate Bridge?!. It might just be a bridge, but it is pretty incredible close up. Also the little spot that GIF is from is a nice viewing platform away from the crowds.
Lake Tahoe, CA. 29/05 - 31/05: I didn't know how I was going to like Lake Tahoe, because having Nevada there and casinos around I thought it might be a little much for me. Can confirm, it's a lovely spot that far exceeded expectations.
The drive in from San Francisco alone was enough to get me excited for Lake Tahoe
Driving from Lake Tahoe to Redding I went the scenic route and stopped at Truckee, CA. It allowed me to take the lovely drive along the river out, and then through the rest of Tahoe National Forest as well. In Truckee I ate at Coffee And, which was a classic little diner with a lovely waitress and homestyle food. Exactly what I want in a small American town.
Also stopped briefly at Lake Spaulding, which was a cute little lake on the way.
Redding, CA. 31/05 - 2/06: Another baffler for some people who didn't understand why I would go to Redding. This was my gateway into Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Also was an interesting little town with the giant Bethel Church) centred here.
Would highly recommend doing the Black Butte Trail near Mt Shasta. Has some incredible views of Mt Shasta itself and although a pretty strenuous hike uphill, it involves some cool rock scrambling, if that's your thing. Despite all this, the highlight of basically my life so far was making friends with this guy. He was even nice enough to pose for me.
On the drive from Redding into Oregon, I passed Mt Shasta again around Dunsmuir and got some nice views along the way
Crater Lake National Park, OR. 2/06 - 5/06: Based myself about 20 miles outside of Ashland, OR whilst exploring Crater Lake National Park. Stayed with this total hippie family at an Airbnb which turned out to be on a Weed Farm. I'd forgotten that it was legal in Oregon. But they were the best.
I was surprised to hear from a lot of people local to the area that they hadn't made it to Crater Lake yet. They need to get there, NOW. It's hard to describe or even capture in pictures the beauty of the lake. The deepest lake in the USA, and also has 0 tributaries, meaning that it has just been filled by rain and snow over millions of years. I hiked Garfield Peak, which still had some snow on it and was technically closed, but should open soon.
Eugene, OR. 5/06 - 7/06: Back when I was at university, I seriously considered transferring to the University of Oregon for a year. I kinda regret not doing it, especially after being in Eugene and seeing the town/campus. I didn't take a lot of photos, mostly just walked around and took it all in.
Firstly, I would recommend checking out the University of Oregon campus. I've never seen a place be so passionate about their college, although I think that's a normal thing for a college town. Check out Hayward Field if you get there before they tear it down. An Olympic runner called Steve "Pre" Prefontaine went to the U of O and he's pretty famous around there. They call themselves Tracktown, USA because of their Track & Field program at the university
Other than going up Skinner Butte, where I got a nice view of the town, I got some beers at Beer Garden. They had a huge selection of different beers/ciders and they also had a beer garden (go figure) that was surrounded by food trucks. Also got pizza at Track Town Pizza, which I would recommend just for the fact that it seemed like the entirety of Hayward Field went there after an NCAA meet during the day
Portland, OR. 7/06 - 9/06: Currently in Portland and to be honest I haven't actually checked out the city itself at all. I'm planning to on my way out tomorrow, so here's what I've done so far anyway.
The Colombia River Gorge is an incredible drive only minutes from Portland itself that I would recommend to anybody. Unfortunately for me, the Eagle Creek fire that went through last year is still showing its effects and therefore a lot of the trails I wanted to hike were closed. Despite this, the drive itself and the stops along the way were still beautiful
The places I stopped at included Vista House, Latourell Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Multnomah Falls. Multnomah is probably the most popular stop along the way, and I can say that because I tried to go in the morning and the car park was closed because it was full. So I had to come back later in the afternoon
I spent some time in Hood River, which was a cute little town that had a lot to offer and was a good place to stop and turn back. I had lunch at Double Mountain Brewery, which I'd recommend. There's micro-breweries galore though all across Oregon, so feel free to try the like 3 others just in this small town
Summary If anyone makes it this far, I bloody salute you. I can say already though that the last 2 and a bit weeks have been amongst the best of my life. From here, I head to Seattle tomorrow, before crossing into Canada and doing the Rockies. I'll try to make these a bit more regularly so it's not a huge chunk of writing that is terribly written and hard to read. If anyone has any questions or wants to know more, please reach out! I want to help in any way I can if you're planning a similar trip or a trip to an area I am going/have been. Cheers!
What a place. I have always said that I never wanted to go to Vegas, boy was I wrong. We stayed at Aria for 6 days - This was a beautiful property and a perfect part of the strip. (We got upgraded into a suite - it was spectacular), rented a BMW, went to Red Rock Canyon (Check this place out!!!), ate a lot off the strip (Mushashi's dirty show was awesome!), saw Absinthe (got fucked in the face by Gazzilionaire!), saw O (got rained on!). Did the whole strip (9 miles of walking). Rented a boat and toured around Lake Mead for 8hrs - swam in 84 degree water. Got tattoos at Iron Horse Tattoo. All of this stuff was done because I listened to what you guys had to say. I asked for your opinions, and for everything from mlife upgrades to the Red Rock Canyon, you all were on point. Food highlights:
Secret Pizza was fun - we didn't cheat to figure out where it was, but it was fun to try and find. My wife was literally pulling on every door she could find. It was hilarious. As a bonus, the pizza was great.
Musashi - the dirty show was awesome. Late night was great!
Strip Burger - This was a great place. Economical (not cheap though), and good quality.
Cabo Wabo - Fresh salsa, guac and chips were great. Buckets of beer were required after a long day of walking the strip.
Ryan at Iron horse Tattoos did some ink for both my wife and I. Very easy going and are turning out well (still healing). Great experience, and he was very friendly and seemed genuinely pleased that we were already planning to get off the strip and do some stuff outside Vegas. Renting the boat (boatbound.co) was an awesome idea. It gave us the relaxation that you're looking for on a vacation. Lake Mead was awesome. All in all, one of the best trips of my life. Thanks all for your advice. Until next time ERN Edit: Since this has been linked to the sidebar, I'll give some more info: Here's some pictures from my trip Maybe a bit NSFW We stayed in a Tower Deluxe King at Aria. I did do the 20 dollar trick at check in, and were immediately upgraded to a strip view (had booked a mountain view.) Our check in attendant (at the invited guests line) asked if we were there for any special occasions. It was our 10th wedding anniversary, so he asked if we would like him to look for further, paid, upgrades (of course!). They offered the executive hospitality suite for an additional 100/night (a 200/night "savings") or the Tower Deluxe King room for an extra 50/night. I said sure thing! The room had 3 tv's, a living room, a king bed, and a wicked view of the strip. It also included a mini-fridge, which was great to keep our CVS-purchased beer, coolers and wine chilled. I charged EVERYTHING to my room, and was upgraded to Mlife Pearl status. This alone got us enough of a discount on our couples aromatherapy massage ($400 bucks) that it paid for the room upgrade. Our total bill for the hotel was 1800 bucks, but was reduced to 1380. 5 nights, 4 gelatos, A couples aromatherapy massage, 6x buffets (4 lunch, 2 breakfasts). Not a bad deal for sure. We only went in the pool once, for about 2 hours. We bought most of our booze at CVS or Walgreens. It's right on the strip, and they were priced way better than the hotels. Other than Aria, we went to Excalibur (rooms were very basic - I would not stay here), NYNY (my wifes favourite casino/shopping), MGM Grand (dated), Cosmo (nicest outside Aria - very glitz and glam, very hoity-toity), Bellagio (dated, but very nice), Caesars Palace (don't see what all the fuss is about, but didn't get to the forum shops), Venetian (beautiful "public" areas). We did not get to Paris, Wynn, or the other hotels further up the strip. Luxor was weird, but neat. Other than the above, we ate at the Aria Buffet twice (comps from MyVegas). We got bagels in NYNY, they were pretty good. Nothing special, but not bad. We at breakfast there twice. We ate at Guy Fieres. That was not great (late night menu, buffalo fries were cold, wings were uninspired, nachos weren't great at all 4/10). Ate at Cafe Americano in Caesars Palace prior to Absinthe (I'd give it a 6/10). While on Lake Mead, we ate at Calville Bay Marina. Surprisingly good. 8/10. We also ate at Buca Di Beppo - the pasta for 4 was more like pasta for 24. It was huge. It was pretty good overall, I'd give it a 7/10. We walked A LOT, even though we had a rental car the whole time. We used it all but one day. We did Counts Kustoms (neat, but the shop is very hot) and we did the Pawn Stars shop (of course jam packed and nobody "famous" was there). I did not expect to see the cultured stuff there that I saw. $15k -$30k prints from DeGaule, Picasso, Da Vinci, MC Escher, Dali. Neat stuff. We got to the Welcome To Vegas sign at 7am. There was literally nobody else there. At 1pm, the lineup for photos was 50 people deep. Go EARLY! O was AMAZING. We sat 4th row. I had to apologize to the woman sitting beside me on several occasions because I kept saying "Do you see this shit!" and "Holy Fuck" all night. SPECTACULAR. Well worth the price. Absinthe was ridiculous. We sat front row, and from about 1 minute into the show, my cheeks were sore from laughing. Great show, not for the faint-of-heart or easily offended. The intro says it all "If you're offended by words like fuck or shit, you should have read a fucking Yelp review" Again, well worth the price. We took a cab to Freemont Street - this place was insane. I would have liked to spend another night there just to make sure I saw it all, but I saw A LOT. Lots of half naked men and women. LOTS. The Boat was awesome. We boated 7 miles up the Colorado River to the Narrows. We hung around there for a bit, then went to find somewhere to swim. The water was 84degrees, which for my Canadian body was like a bathtub. We went down to the Hoover Dam and up to Calville Bay. We were on the boat a total of 7 or 8hrs. Great value, and, even though my sister is petrified of water and boats, she said it was the single best highlight of the trip for her. After the boat, we went to Hoover Dam to see it from the top. Don't go if you're afraid of heights. I'm not averse to heights at all but this was really high. Again, thanks to you all for providing such great information. If you all have any questions for me, please, feel free to ask!
Details of Book Author : Kazu Kibuishi ISBN : B078TNLQYD Number of pages : 208 pages Editor : Scholastic Inc. Date of Publication : September 25th 2018 Download Supernova (Amulet #8) PDF and EPUB - EpuBook Supernova (Amulet #8) Download eBook Pdf Epub, Book eBook English [Download] le Book Supernova (Amulet #8) in Format PDF Supernova (Amulet #8) Download of Book in Format PDF
Emily has lost control of her Amulet and is imprisoned in the Void, where she must find a way to escape the influence of the Voice. Meanwhile, Emily's brother, Navin, travels to Lighthouse One, a space station where the Resistance is preparing to battle the approaching Shadow forces that would drain planet Alledia of all its resources. Emily and Navin must be smarter and stronger than ever to ensure Alledia's survival. 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Share your favorite locally owned restaurants that are often empty.
I love restaurants. Some of my favorite places are little local shops that don't get nearly as many customers as they deserve. It makes me sad when places like Johnny Mcguires go out of business, and I don't get to eat there anymore. So I want to share some of my favorite places that will probably go out of business soon. I don't really think there's anything we can do to save them, but you should at least try them while you can. These are a few that come to the top of my head. I'm sure I'll think of more later. Buldogis I've been craving a Buldogis hot dog with korean bbq beef and home made mayo on it so bad. This place is close to Red Rock Casino. Volcano Grille This little place is just south of Arroyo Crossing, near 215 and Rainbow on the south side. The star of their show is the sauce bar. The sweet ginger sauce is fantastic. Giuseppe's Just north of 215 on Durango, in the southwest corner of 215. If you like chicken parm at all, get their Crusted Chicken Mozzarella. It doesn't have the heavy breading of chicken parm, and it is one of my favorite Italian dishes in this town at any price. Pho Thanh Huong If you want pho, go to Pho Saigon 8 on Spring Mountain. If you want an absolutely amazing sandwich for $3, get the BBQ pork sandwich here. It is in a grungy little strip mall south of UNLV on the SW corner of Trop and Maryland. What are your favorites?
This is a short story that looks into the life of two lovers. The main character finds himself in a sudden position of success, but he cannot handle the pressure that is a manifestation of his personal fears. His lover helps him along the way, but because he has trouble accepting his identity, the relationship becomes sour over the years. While his lover is loyal to him, loyalty only goes so far. The main character finds himself hitting rock bottom as he uses substances to cope with the pain. It has a classic ending. Bottom line- The Mirror is about accepting who you are as a person and being a homosexual doesn't define you. It is only a sexual preference. This story is one of my most popular writings.
(Creative- Non-Fiction) By: Max Sparrow
I toy with my wedding band. Turning the ring sideways, I let out a sigh, and read the description out-loud. "To my true love, Max.” Today would have been our tenth year wedding anniversary. I pull out a 200 dollar vintage, 2009 bottle of Dom Perignon from the fridge. It was Matt’s favorite beverage, and I sip it slowly. Everybody forms a concept of love that they feed upon as churchgoers feed on scripture and I have come to the dreary conclusion that no human knows what love really is. This thought sways in my head like the gentle branches of a Magnolia tree as I take another sip of the champaign. I look at the busy streets below my penthouse balcony. People move in different directions as they go about their daily tasks. Some carry briefcases while others hold the hands of children. A few walk at a brisk pace, and further down the street, by the subway, tired and weary beggars sit as they cling to the warmth of their jackets. I often wonder what other people feel— if they feel? Do the people walking on the streets feel the same pain that rips me apart?… It is a pain I have never known until I met Matt. It is something that I can only describe as heartache. The story of Matt and I’s separation is long and unhappy. I learned through the moments of my twisted relationship that there are no happy stories in life. There are only happy moments.
I loved looking at the blinking billboards and touring the casinos. As I strolled outside the Las Vegas Walkways and looked at one flashing sign after the other, I was in awe. Each sign was seductive in its own ways. Offering great gambling odds, deals on drinks, and shows. I wondered who replaced the bulbs that burned out and how long the bulbs lasted. A woman’s voice swept out into the streets as she serenaded those passing by the casino doors with a sweet melody. I looked up at a flashing neon sign above me but I didn’t bother to read it. The flash of the bright light and the voice was excitement enough. I fought the bustling crowd as I went inside. There were young couples, groups of people, and in front of me an elderly man who kept shouting over the noise to his wife. “I can’t hear you!” She screamed back and I could see the frustration on her face as she pushed buttons on her hearing aid. I was inclined to give a smile of amusement, but I knew a day would come when I might find myself in the same predicament. I was in my early twenties but everybody told me I had an old maid’s perception about the world. One professor in college looked at me and said, “Max, if you were sliced in half, there would be more rings to count than a 200-year-old tree.” The class laughed but I did not. I knew I was unusual because I saw the world in a different light. It was as if everybody around me was watching the world unfold as if it were a movie in black and white while I was looking at the same movie but in color. I felt and I perceived conflict in society from a much more emotional standpoint. This usual perception of the world led to bouts of depression that interfered with my ability to function. At times, I felt like my mind was being spun in a cement truck— around, and around. I passed through crowds of people and towards the seductive voice of the honey-toned women. She had a soft voice. It was like she was singing a lullaby solely to me. I hadn’t been the only one who heard her as I followed the crowd: “That voice” “I Know!” “Beautiful!” I was almost into the theater hall when my eye caught a waitress gliding down a hallway with a tray of cocktails. Her job was to lubricate spenders on the casino floor as they offered customers something more valuable than money— hope. The creation of this illusion would empty their pockets into the casino’s coffers. “Ma’am,” I hollered through the crowd as I battled my way towards her. She was speeding towards the casino tables in a shimmering sequin dress. I picked up a glass of cabernet as she passed without her noticing me. With my glass of wine I finally entered the room that the sensational voice was drifting from and as my eyes gazed upon this talented singer, my heart cried for her in pity. While I wasn’t a music critic, I thought the packed theater was a testament to her voice’s beauty. Sadly, however, that was all that was beautiful about her. Even from a distance, where I stood, I saw her giant clown nose stretched across her watermelon-shaped head. Giant moles were scattered across her face and she had a drooping double chin. I knew regardless of how wonderful her voice was — what people saw on the outside would always deter her from rising up the ladder of success. I wondered what she saw when she looked in the mirror? I was moseying about aimlessly and it was close to midnight when I thought I should turn in. It had been a night full of blinking signs, gasping gamblers, and good wine. I was struggling to walk in a straight line and had lost count of how many drinks I had. My vacation was almost over, I thought dreadfully. I had a consistent problem of taking joy away from things that had yet to end. I was mauling over the return to Louisiana in two days. “Back to the same old,” I told myself. In my mind, I began weaving unneeded thoughts of distress of returning home to the hot sticky, humid town of Baton Rouge when I collided with another person. The content of my glass went flying across the man’s white shirt. “I am so sorry— oh God— I am so sorry," I was babbling frantically. "I will give you money to pay for the dry cleaning,” I said, and I was panicking. When I looked up, I went silent. Our eyes met, and we both looked into each other’s eyes. He had the slightest smile on his face and his eyes were the warmest and inviting blues I had ever seen. “I’m Matt,” he said as he broke the silence and extended a hand. He didn’t seem the least bit bothered that his shirt was soaked in red wine. “I am Max," I replied and shook his hand nervously. "And the name of the red wine on your shirt is cabernet." He laughed at that, and I smiled. “Would you like to have a drink with me at the bar?” He asked and I couldn’t help but stare at him curiously for a moment. His eyes lit up but brighter than any moon I had seen, and they glistened with more beauty than any stars. I saw the entire universe dancing in his eyes. Even more— they lit a fire in me. I tended not to engage with men that made my heart feel the slightest bit warm. Love was a foreign concept that I evaded because I saw it as mindless and irrational. I have scoffed at many people who have told me that I might one day be at its mercy. At that moment I would have had to agree. “Yes, sure a drink,” I said. He led the way to the bar. We talked late into the night. Matt was a professor of psychology but when he asked me what my profession was— I paused. I tipped my drink and guzzled down the contents of the glass before responding. My eyes found their way to the bottom of the floor. “I recently submitted a book for publication. I was given an advance and I thought— what the hell— I’ll go to Las Vegas.” I answered while I propped my head up with my elbow on the bar counter. “I find that incredibly romantic,” He replied softly as he leaned in and gave me a gentle kiss. As our lips met I felt a rush of ecstasy flush through my body. I should have walked away but I couldn’t. There was something about his charm that held me captive. “So, you’re a writer?” He asked, pulling away from my lips and brushing his long bangs away from his dazzling blue eyes. I wanted to grab him by the shirt with my fists and press my lips against his while we tumbled down upon the ground in passion. I downed another drink before replying, “Yes I am. I am a writer.” Matt smiled at this. He told me that he had come to Las Vegas on a similar mission— to explore. “I love traveling. There is so much beauty in the world, and I don’t want to miss any of it.” “Where have you traveled to?” I asked as my eyes were drawn to the red wine stain on his neatly button-down shirt. A simple mistake that could shift the direction of my life. Such irrelevant choices could lead to profound change— simplicity is underrated, I decided at that moment. “Oh, I have been to the United Kingdom. I love Paris and London. I fell in love with their culture. One of my favorite things to do was look down from my studio apartment at night and watch people bustling in the busy street below.” He placed his hand on mine. It felt warm. It felt right. I loved it. We spent hours talking about our traveling experiences. Our conversation would begin to die down after a couple hours and he we stared at each other for several seconds of comfortable silence. “Wanta come to my hotel room?” I did not hesitate. Downing another shot of vodka, I said, “Let’s go!” We got married in Las Vegas and exchanged wedding rings. Matt told me that night, I had something special about me. I was innocent and beautiful. I wanted to believe that. I moved with Matt to Arizona where he worked at a local college, and my book was published. It received good reviews, and it appeared in every bookstore. The book consisted of many references to the homosexual lifestyle and the fear and shame I had because of my sexuality. People bought it. Some Christian fanatic groups burned my books— but either way— my book was being purchased. One week after it was released I was drunk more than usual, and I shared my feelings with Matt. “I am not somebody who deserves success,” I said. Matt eyed me curiously before smiling at me. “We all deserve success, Max. I believe true success is happiness,” he replied. “Are you happy?” He asked me. I thought about what he said for several moments as I looked off in a daze and into the blackness of the night in the far window of the room. Finally, I reconnected my eyes with his and said softly, “Let’s have a martini.” Matt laughed at me. The publisher called me a week and a half after the book's release. They insisted that I go on tour and begin writing another book. After I hung up the phone, I picked up Matt’s cigarettes. It had been years since I last smoked, but the slender tubes of tobacco calmed my nerves. I was laying in bed with Matt as I hung up the phone and struck a flame to my cigarette. “What the hell are you doing?” Matt asked as he lay on his side and looked at me curiously. “That was the publisher,” I said as I adjusted my head against the pillow and took deep breathes from the cigarette. “I don’t want you smoking, Max,” Matt said as he tried to take the cigarette from my hand. I pulled it out of his reach. Mat looked at me with discerning eyes before asking, “What did the publisher say?” “I-I- I don’t want to talk about.” I stood up from the bed and paced back and forth. I was puffing on the cigarette with such fury that the coal had already dwindled to the filter. The heat of the ash could be felt on my knuckles. This was my chance, I thought to myself. I had an opportunity, to show my skill but I knew, I could serenade the audience with beautiful words just like that singer serenaded me in Las Vegas. I could writer wonderful pieces of literature for the publishing firm but at the end of the day when we both looked in the mirror, we were hideous. These thoughts of despair might have all been all in my head but when you believe something long enough, it becomes a truth. I turned towards Matt and relayed what the publisher said. He laughed. “You just got great news, and you are stressed?” Matt replied as he continued to smile. “What is it you’re afraid of?” I looked at Matt and was silent. “Well, let’s hope you never win the lottery. God forbid— cause that would make you go nuts!” He continued to laugh, but I looked away. I finally said in a whimper, “I can’t, Matt. I can’t handle the pressure. I can’t do this.” I put my cigarette out in the ashtray and lay beside him on the bed. He grabbed my shoulder as he nestled my head on his lap. “Yes, you can— I believe in you, and I know you can do this.” He said soothingly while he stroked my hair. He lifted my chin with his hand and gave me a tender kiss. I would begin to promote my book, and started writing the next one. Matt and I would travel the country. The first trip we took was to Chicago, and I was nervous. The doctor prescribed me Ativan. I ate them like tic-tacs. With the Ativan and alcohol mixed, I could successfully handle book reviews and attend book signings with ease. When people thanked me for writing my book, I couldn’t help but squint my eyes in puzzlement and wonder how they could not see who I really was. Yet I still managed to say, “It was my honor.” I pulled it off these events successfully. While I signed books; I took praise, and made small talk with people who bought my works, Matt was in charge of filling the coffee cup with vodka. I would sip on it while listening to people tell me how much my book meant to them. My repertoire with the public was considered incredibly positive as I began to engage with bigger audiences and more fans. I remember the day we ended the publicity campaigns. “I gotta to tell you-you're amazing with people.” I looked at Matt as he collapsed into a chair at the airport. “Looks can be deceiving," I replied and smiled but it was a meager smile. Earlier that day we had attended the last promotional event. It was late afternoon, and we were waiting to board a plane back to Arizona. My attention was focused on the bottle of Ativan I was emptying into my hand. “Why are you taking so many pills?” Matt asked curiously. I didn't reply until he stood up and snatched the bottle from my hands. “You don't need these,” he said, pulling the bottle above his head and out of my grasp. Matt was taller than me. “Please give them to me,” I begged. “Please.” For a moment he looked at me carefully. Then he handed me the bottle but was silent. He was silent the entire plane trip home. I preferred the silence. Days would pass slowly for me. I stayed in our house for lengthy periods of time with curtains drawn and the lights off. I would lay down in bed while I typed my book. Once a month I would make an appearance and read lines from my new work. The readings continued to go well, but as deadlines approached for my second manuscript, I would drink even heavier. Matt continually insisted that we socialize. I was content to drink away the night as my fingers glided across the keyboard. My refusal to accompany Matt outside of our apartment started fights. It would lead to the first of several eruptions. “Max, for fuck sake, we are going out!” He hollered. He was already dressed and looked charming in his blue jeans, Tommy Hilfiger shirt, and a sports coat that fit snugly on him. His black hair was combed to the side. “I have to write,” I replied as I took a long drag from the cigarette and exhaled slowly. That was only half of the truth. “Every day it’s the same shit. You say you will go out with me and never do,” Matt protested as he slammed his hand down on the desk I was typing on. “Look, Max, I know your work is important, but you are becoming obsessed with this. Let that go... Common, Please! We can go to some clubs. Get drunk. Trust me— it will be fun. We can get a banana daiquiri— your favorite,” Matt said as his voice became relaxed. He stood behind me while he rubbed my shoulders. When I didn’t reply he went to the windows and begun to open drapes as he let the rays of the setting sun shun through the windows. At last, I looked up at him with weary eyes, as he said, “We can go out dancing. Perhaps we could dance to your favorite song? The first song we danced too.” Matt walked over to me and grabbed both of my hands and said, “Look into my eyes.” I did, but only for a moment. “I have to work,” I repeated as I pulled my hands away. I began to peck away at the keys. Matt stood still, but I knew he was staring coldly at me. He was angry and I didn’t know how to properly communicate what I was feeling. Perhaps if I had been able to communicate my feelings— maybe our relationship could have been saved. “Fuck you, Max,” he said and he left the apartment. That was the first time he cursed at me. After he left, I put my cigarette out in the ashtray and covered my face with my hands as I cried. Matt continued to pressure me to leave the apartment. We were in New York for an appointment with my publisher when Matt had a volatile explosion that would be the worst confrontation the two of us had during the relationship. “Max, please, let’s go out,” He begged. “This is New York City.” I looked up at him and shook my head no, back and forth. I was stumbling to the bar in the apartment. “I have been by your side and hold your hand through everything! I gave up my job! There isn’t a thing I haven’t done for you! I want to go out, common, Max. You will have a great time.” I was no longer paying attention to Matt. Instead, I was busy fixing a drink and laying out different Benzos on a table. Matt stood still as he awaited my response until he realized he wasn’t getting one. He walked to me, took the glass out of my hand and threw it at the wall where it shattered. Then he picked up the pill bottle with an assortment of different Benzo’s. “What the fuck are you doing!” I screamed. “Are you in love with me or these pills?” He hollered back as he walked into the bathroom. He unscrewed the top of the bottle and emptied the contents into the toilet. With my teeth gritted I said, “Who the fuck do you think you are?” I grabbed him around the waist as the two of us struggled. He was more powerful and hurled me against the bathroom wall where I slumped down and began to cry. “Are you crying over me or your pills?” He asked in a flare of anger as his eyes glared down at me. Then he left the apartment. My second book came out, and it too was well received. Not long after its release, I signed a contract for a third book. Matt and I toasted our fifth anniversary. “I do love you Matt— I do— ya know,” I said as our glasses clinked together. That was the bitter truth. “And I also love you,” he replied, but I felt his words were cold and distant. “Why do you love me?” When I asked this question, Matt looked at me with a narrow gaze. He seemed at a distance. “I just do,” he said and then stood up, and walked away. My drinking increased as my third book progressed, and I would start to find another love— opiates. I found mixing liquor, Benzo’s and opiates together gave a fantastic high. At first, I took prescription painkillers but this quickly progressed to snorting heroin. Matt would find me passed out in front of my computer screen, picked me up, and tucked me into bed. He had stopped flushing my drugs down the toilet. When I awoke in the morning, I would find him beside me in the bed watching television. While my relationship deteriorated, the press I worked for insisted that I continued to tour and conduct readings. The publishing house worked me like a slave, but I was living a life of luxury. I was in a theater in New York, and drinking heavily. The previous night Matt had not come home. I questioned him about it and he said, “If you went out with me, maybe you would have a clue what I am doing!” Since I had engaged in heavy drugs, our sexual relationship had perished. I asked him if he was seeing somebody else, but he didn’t answer. Instead, he walked away from me. His overnight disappearance and possible affair led me to drink heavily on the day of a major book reading. Matt insisted that they call off the event, but I ignored him. I stumbled across the stage and to the podium where l looked out across the hundreds of people. They were all staring back at me— waiting for me to read— clueless about who I really was. These must be weak people, I thought. After staring blankly at the audience for several moments I would proceed to read a portion of my book as words tumbled out of my mouth in slurs. After the event, I was told that almost everything I said was incomprehensible. I would publish my third book, and despite my crude behavior during that reading, it was still a success. The publishing house continued to request my appearance at public events, but Matt was given the authority to stop it if I was inebriated. I signed a document that gave Matt the authority to pull the plug. My drug use continued, and Matt called off many promotional events. We fought tirelessly and when he asked me to talk to him, I couldn’t. The bickering continually worsened until the final night. I was snorting heroin off the sink. In ten minutes I was going to be a guest speaker at a local television station. This was the first time I had done heroin outside of the apartment. There was a knock on the bathroom door. I finished the line of heroin, stood up, and proceeded to the door, but I couldn’t walk. I fell down on my face and lay helplessly. The door finally swung open. Matt looked at me on the floor. “Help me,” I begged my hand outreached towards him. “Please," I repeated. The last thing I remembered was his cold calculated gaze bearing into my eyes— I was desperate and miserable, lying hopelessly on a bathroom floor. I was a man that many people referred to as a brilliant writer but if you don’t see it in yourself, I suppose it doesn’t matter what other people see in you. When I looked in the mirror I saw a person who flawed beyond repair and fighting a battle in life he would never win. I saw a man with a giant nose, covered in moles, and a double chin. I saw a failure. I awoke in my penthouse apartment, under the covers and I was relieved that Matt had brought me home. The heroin must have been cut with something. “You need help, and I am just— I am not the one to help you,” Matt said. I was trying to get the computer in my lap but stopped to look up at him. “Look at you. You can barely hold your head up.” “I don’t know what to say. I - I am struggling. You know that,” I said softly. “Max, I am sick of this relationship. I am sick of dealing with you when you are high. I feel like a fucking babysitter,” Matt scowled, and we stared at each other. He picked up his keys and headed for the apartment door. “Wait, Matt,” I pleaded. He did not pay me any attention. I watched as the penthouse door slammed closed and I let out a long sigh. That night I worked furiously on my computer as I wrote the beginning of my new book. I struggled to stay awake as I waited for Matt to come home so that we could talk seriously. He didn’t come home that night. I fell asleep. I awoke the next day— one year ago to this day— and while most people would describe it as a fabulous April day; I looked out the large bay windows and managed to distort the suns rays, and cloudless sky into a dark, miserable world. I stumbled out of bed as I yelped in pain from a nasty hangover. I looked at my watch. It was 1:30 in the afternoon. “Matt,” I said as I looked over to his side of the bed where he normally sat and watched television. He hadn’t come to bed, and I realized the television wasn’t on. “Matt?!” I cried. The shower wasn’t running. He hadn’t returned, and I expected him to come back in the next few hours or the next day. I was beginning to turn back to the bedroom when I noticed something on the door leading outside of the suite. I walked to it. Taped to the door was his wedding ring, along with a note. The note read, “Many years ago you said you couldn’t do this, and I had responded, ‘Yes, you can— I believe in you, and I know you can do this.’ Max, you can’t do this. When we first met, I loved you, but you’re the person I want to be with. I think you are a monster. You’re on your own.” I now sit on the balcony downing champagne as I realize that I am living in Fear— Fear of success— Fear of living— Fear of intimacy— Fear of judgment— Fear that I will never be good enough. Fear of who I am. Fear is all I see when I look in the mirror. *****Please Subscribe To Get More Information on Published Stories and Book Releases***** Appreciate Comments VISIT MY WEBSITE AT www.maxsparrowbooks.com For Blog and More Reads
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