Under The Influence of Beaches in January (story)

Eagle Pose with a bird we didn't pay to show up #ManBunsInParadise | Marco Island, FL

Eagle Pose with a bird we didn't pay to show up #ManBunsInParadise | Marco Island, FL

We're heading to Key West. By we, I mean me and Lauren. By Lauren, I mean my girlfriend. The TV is showing some news thing. Before that it was American Idol. I'd say half the people are watching. If you don't print out your tickets for this thing, they charge you $25. And then they scan it anyway.

It's raining outside and they have the A/C on. This is Florida. There's A/C everywhere. Because the ceiling fans can only spin so many times before the screws come out. Bodies are like that, too. I read that somewhere. In a bathroom bar in Vermont. After 4 Jagerbombs. So it could've been something different.

Lauren and I haven't seen each other in a while. We've had pretty constant communication for the past 17 days, but other than that, she's been in up near Boston freezing and I've been in Florida with the A/C as high as the humidity. In these times, 17 days is close to the friendship termination zone, where you start asking if the other person is still breathing. 30 days without posting something and people on social media forget about you. I read that somewhere, too.

It's 9:26 am and some of the people on the Key West Express, the boat we're plowing through the Gulf of Mexico aboard, are already drinking. I'm too stoned to focus on one thing so I'm doing art and wondering if people think I'm stoned. I'm a big fan of legalizing pot for this and other reasons like how it eliminates headaches and chronic pain and encourages creativity. Two points for pot. That's why it's okay to post about it on the internet.

Oddly enough, I've been pretty paranoid recently, but the boat is going up and down and I'd rather be focusing on the fragments of brain cells in my head someplace than the constant churning of the motors I'm so familiar with, having grown up on moving ocean vessels like this one. In this instance, a vessel is a boat. A catamaran.

I've been doing yoga, which has taught me to have a little more patience. And running, which has taught me to breathe. I always seem to forget those things because my mind's always focused on something else. Often, making art and doing yoga or practicing guitar, as if those are things you can 'practice' without making them an integral part of your life. I like to think of them as a release. Like somehow my worry and fears are coming out, bit by bit, inch-worm style.

Yoga and running do that: make me realize I'm human. That I need to breathe and pay attention to my body and all the other things hippies and yogis understand or believe in. I'm one of those, a hippie. I like climbing trees and occasionally, I'll read my horoscope from some blog online. Something like this. Don't worry, I'll never write my horoscope on here. I promise. I'm good at breaking promises, but seriously, please don't let me write a horoscope.

We're on Island Time so it makes sense that I'm writing again. I feel like nowadays I never find time to write anything other than songs. And I need to be writing more of those, songs. An old man in Denver, whom I've convinced I've met elsewhere in different forms, said 'songwriters are born. And not all of them like to share.' He was one of those, a songwriter who didn't like to share. He'd written 2,000 songs. So that was my new goal: 2,000.

I never knew it at the time, but it seems true, since I'm up to about 70 something now, after a year. But that's just a number. What about quality? Shit. It's a lot to think about, but as an indie musician trying to maneuver industry loops and stay above water financially––at which I'm doing swimmingly, if that pun makes sense to you––it's a necessary thought. Farmer's markets are expensive in some places and bar prices keep going up.

Stream-Of-Consciousness, if you're wondering. A result of years of structured writing before and during college. And after. That's now. That's what you're reading. Present tense. Lauren is next to me and we're on a beach in Marco Island.

Warrior 1 on the beach | Marco Island, FL

Warrior 1 on the beach | Marco Island, FL

You probably want to hear about Key West, but let's just summarize it in one blurb:

Key West is like Province Town, but people drive golf carts, smoke more reefer, and wear less clothes. It's like San Francisco, but with less graffiti and instead of sea lions they have cats and chickens. It's like you took all the burnouts, questionable crazies, and party-ers from Florida and put them on an Island where you were sure they'd never disturb anybody else. That's Key West.

So, anyway, we're on a beach in Marco Island. South Beach, if you wanna get all name-sy about it. Steam-Of-Consciousness writing is the opposite of detail. Or, I guess, it's a different kind of detail. Believe me, I could sit here all day and tell you all about the oceanic shades of blue and describe the people walking on the beach. Or I could tell you what's on my mind 'cause people keep asking me 'how I am,' and I keep saying 'good,' when really it's something more like this passage you've been reading. But people have short attention spans and anything more than 'good' and you're already walking past them.

So find your own way. That's what this is. My Genre: Hippie Ramblings Under the Influence of Beaches in January. You can find it between the last minute airport t-shirt souvenirs and the high-priced magazines before you board the plane to wherever your latest Book Club read suggested you go for the holidays. Hopefully, you pick up a copy and it leads you to something else under it, something that can really explain it.

The beach in paradise is crowded with people. Some listen to reggae, others walk miles on miles in short bathing suits, their french accents littering the beach with the smell of caviar and underage wine-drinking. All shapes and sizes of people with a unique story of being. I think that's what I've been trying to write for a while. How I got to this beach with the girl next to me and what we're doing, what we've done. Our story.

Recently, we've been spending time uploading pictures that document our lives to the internet. It's frustrating because we're so new to this and every time we think we've got something good it's never up-to-snuff. In this instance, snuff is a standard. Other times, it is the first syllable that leads to Snuffalufagus. He's a neat dude.

Anyway, I've never been good with the internet. Ever since my therapist diagnosed me with depression and anxiety and some other guy said I had tourette syndrome, ADD, ADHD, OCD, and a buncha other acronyms I'm too dyslexic to remember properly, I've pretty much given up on a lot of things in my life. But I'm writing again, so there's that.

There isn't anything to complain about, really. I've got a girlfriend who seems to be more of a soulmate and I'm on a beach in January drinking Painkiller (rum with a splash of pineapple juice, OJ, and creamed coconut) and doing yoga. To anyone else, it'd be paradise, nothing to worry about, smooth sailing, as it were.

Captain Shep and the 'Liberty' on Shell Island.

Captain Shep and the 'Liberty' on Shell Island.

But once you add in all the external factors (pressures of a vagabond life, a serious lack of patience, etc.), I'm pretty much losing my marbles. But don't tell anybody. It's a secret. Hint: I'm bad at keeping secrets. Can you tell?

If you've read any Kerouac, he writes stuff like this. On the Road is the same kinda thing. But Kerouac used a lot more hallucinogenics. A side-effect (or perhaps primary effect) of hanging out with H.S.T. If you're unfamiliar with H.S.T: Google it. If you're unfamiliar with anything you've read so far: Google it. I'm sure someone on Yahoo has it all pegged down. Some Internet savant rainman. He'll break it down for you in a step-by-step YouTube video that ends with 13 hashtags whose pop-ups lead you to sites with fetishes you can use for inspiration on your next Tinder date.

Outside, a man's been mowing the lawn for what seems like several eternities and construction exhaust fills the humid air. They built this island. Part of it was here, but the new stuff was created. All these people think God's pissed off about any number of things we've seen recently, but personally, I think he's most mad when we try make Islands and do his job for him or her or It. I mean, people don't just get flooded for masturbating over FaceTime. Or maybe they do. Snapchat's gonna be the end of us. Take that, cultural relativity. I think I used that phrase right.

People like writers get editors for stuff like this. Nonsensical fantasies and ramblings. Strewn together with enough uncertainty to suggest mysteriousness. I've often thought about showing this stuff to an editor, but I gotta find a good one first. Some schmuck off CraigsList who misspells 'you're' and types like a recovering crackhead on Prozac. That's the kinda editor I need. He'll wear his hair in a manbun like me and laugh hysterically before he says something funny because he's already thinking it in his head and it's already so funny he has to do something about it. The ad will read:

Editor Needed. Previous experience with hallucinogenics, loose memory, and immeasurable regret preferred, but not necessary. Mugshot needed upon request. Mental stability optional. Payment exclusively through Venmo.

That'll rear a hero of a result.

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