111 Days to Las Vegas

Merry Christmas

Words into the darkness.

I don’t have a lot of followers, nor am I especially looking for any. The words over the next 111 days are primarily for me, and those who might find this by accident. Drake is not my real name. I don’t share this blog with anyone in real life. Others have known about it in the past, but it’s been dormant so long they don’t check it anymore. Notifications not a problem. I’ve left Facebook and Twitter kicked me off long ago.

So here I am.

Just me.

In 111 days I go to Las Vegas, and on this day, I’m pretty disappointed with my life which might surprise when looking at the surface. I’ve got a good job. I have family. I have a wife I love very much. Decent apartment, a few dollars in the bank, very little debt, food to eat, health insurance, gym membership, books to read and I live in one of the largest cities in the United States where every experience is at your fingertips. I’ve got this whole ocean of positives, but like that ocean, when only looking at the surface you don’t see the millions of pounds of plastic garbage deep in the trenches.

Trigger warning: I’m a person of privilege in American society. The more militant among us might gladly point out I’ve no reason to complain about anything. That’s fine, though I would disagree. Experience is singular. This experience is only my own and not intended to be compared with anyone else’s.

I have addictions: cigarettes, alcohol, junk food…but really, I’m addicted to distractions which is what all of the latter are…I’ll watch terrible television for hours instead of completing tasks that are important, making progress in what I once said mattered to me. Used to say, because I’ve been ambivalent for so long that to bring up such things only points out to others how I’m not making any progress, which in turn makes me feel even worse. I’m good at my job, just good enough. I could be far more diligent, far more focused which would improve the work, but instead I’m content to stay on the internet horrified by what I read (and do nothing about). I don’t see my family too often. I could go to the gym more often. I loathe my appearance. I maintain a bit of debt, largely because of the money I spend on distractions. No focus. Little drive. I think I’m probably depressed, but I don’t do anything about that either. At the base of it, I see promise in myself, the same promise I’ve seen for a long, long time but since I no longer believe, the promises drift up and down the endlessly rolling sand dunes that fill my nightmares when I have dreams at all.

In Las Vegas, I’m deciding where I want to stay: the Fremont downtown or the Flamingo on the Strip. I’ve stayed at neither before, but I’ve been studying the history of Las Vegas and both have historical appeal. It’s really a matter of which atmosphere I want as a foundation: Strip wealth and luxury or downtown old time feel (despite the Fremont Street canopy). My personal interests are more downtown gritty and as I’m learning Blackjack, the El Cortez has the most liberal tables but I’m also attracted to the grandiose glamor of Las Vegas Blvd. For my amusements the Stratosphere has the best location, but that tower depresses me with it’s height and isolation. I’ll figure it out.

Also to be figured out: the novel. I’ve been working on my second novel for sixteen years and it should have been completed fifteen years ago. I could go into why this has happened, but the preceding paragraphs should explain enough. What I would like to go into is how this novel has defined my days. Once I was known among friends as an aspiring writer, disciplined and dedicated, but it’s been washed away by distractions and the progress is negative. I’ve done more damage to this book over the years then improved the final draft. Indecision and lack of confidence plays the role and every year that passes I fall further from my own aspirations and previous identities. Can I finish it for good, finally in the next 118 days? History would say I’ve not a chance in hell, but this one last time, I’m betting I can.

And then there’s the photography. I’m good, and I’ve shown promise. I’ve had a few shows. I’ve sold prints, but I’m also a scared photographer. I know the photographs I want to take, and they would require me to connect to others, both good and bad…but due to my own self loathing, sometimes I feel on the edge of collapse so to be rejected by strangers or to take in the negative look from a subject just seems unbearable, a tipping point. So while I still take good photographs, they are not ones I care about and this has made the whole exercise emptier than it should be. Photography is art. Art is self expression. But if you don’t take the photographs that would truly express yourself, photography is one more charade. For me to change, this too must change.

I’m not a gambler, but I’ve been to Las Vegas five times previously. The first four were nothing special, something to do and I was entranced by the ridiculousness of the whole place. I had a good time when I was there, but this was more a reflection of who I was there with, until the fifth time. Again I was with others, but for some reason the city grabbed hold of me in a way I hadn’t previously experienced. The Western feel with the modern crazy, the arts district with the Fremont lights. I had my camera. I took countless photographs and those photographs carried a meaning for me that none of the images in the previous year had. I knew right away I needed to go back, to see if it was a fluke or to see if it all continued to resonate, and if it does, well that will bring up a whole number of questions. Good questions. Interesting questions. I feel curious for the first time in years, and feeling curious is a very good thing.

Creativity is tied to spirit, and I’ve practiced Eastern philosophies for some time now…kind of. I’m well versed, I know all the chapters and these studies have informed some of my approaches, mostly manifesting itself through the way I work, when I’m really on it. I know the next level is a regular meditation practice, but I have difficulty coping with silence, with being still, without a constant influx of information/media/noise. This too must change. In addition, my fitness, my relationships can all use work (and work they will receive), but most important is to develop my belief in the self and how it relates to the worlds I currently inhabit as well as those worlds in which I wish to take part.

I know what needs to happen.

I always know what needs to happen.

It’s a tall fucking order, likely doomed to failure, another I can chalk up over the next 111 days, but maybe there’s a chance that this is the time, that I’m finally ready…maybe.

There are rules for the next 111 days. Daily, weekly and monthly tasks, and when I publish this it will all begin, just like that. If I can follow the rules and complete the tasks, the larger picture will simply take care of itself so the focus is on these rules. Some highlights: quitting all social media and television, practicing daily writing, exercise and meditation, study of the photography masters, weekly blog posts, photography submissions to magazines, quality time with other people, I-Ching readings and a dutiful maintenance of my financial budget. I have a plan and I have goals.

Okay then: I’m 111 days to Las Vegas. After a long time of ambivalence, it’s time to be curious once again.

Have a nice day.

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