October 6, 2008

hi.  my name is elliott kaplan and this is my ucla art undergraduate thesis:

for this project, I will not be sleeping in my apartment for a period of exactly thirty days.  I will begin by spending the night of Oct. 15 in my room, as usual… the next day my roommate will be responsible for finding me a place (couch / floor / empty bed / etc) to sleep on.  whoever’s place I stay at that night will then be responsible for finding me a place for the next night; the process will continue until Nov. 15, when I will again sleep in my lovely bed.  each morning I will photograph where I slept and post the photograph (along with a journal entry) on this blog.  a physical installation of all the images and text will be shown in room 2140 of the Broad Art Center from [Amended Nov. 16] Dec. 1 – Dec. 5 // the opening will be Thursday Dec. 4.

rules and stipulations:

  1. [Amended Nov. 3]  I cannot sleep in the same room or apartment twice.
  2. If my host is unwilling or unable to find me a place for the next night, I will spend the night outside and choose an entirely new host the next night.
  3. If I am required to work from midnight to six am, I will sleep at work after my shift; my next location will thus be delayed by one day.
  4. Every location must be within an hour of ucla, taking into account that I must either walk / bike / bus / be given a ride.  Any location that I cannot get to or from (given these constraints) will be ignored.
  5. Personal safety will override any other artistic or aesthetic concerns.
  6. [Added Oct. 19]  I will not allow myself to go back to sleep until after I have finished my blog entry for the day.
  7. [Added Oct. 21]  Naps will be kept to a bare minimum and only used to ensure that I can adequately complete my other school-related obligations.
  8. [Added Oct. 22]  Blog entries need to remain “honest and encapsulating,” avoiding brief / trite summary.
  9. [Added Oct. 25]  I will not look up anyone on Facebook before visiting their house.
  10. [Added Nov. 2, Amended Nov. 5]  Blog entries must avoid unnecessary synopsis / relate actual concrete experiences / stop tracing complicated relationships.

thank you!

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November 16, 2008

November 16, 2008

Potluck!

Last night my roommate Aidan and I held a potluck for everyone who hosted me (and their roommates) and it turned out really well.  I wasn’t sure how many people would actually show up, but 17 of the 29 apartments were represented and we actually had a ton of food.  I felt slightly obligated to try some of everyone’s and so I ate until the point of nausea.  For the first hour or so it was just my close friends, but more groups emerged as the night went on and there was at least some mingling amongst the different social circles.  It was a nice opportunity to talk to everyone, recap about the project and our experiences, get some phone numbers that I was missing, and just kind of relax now that everything was over.  I also had “response cards” where people could write down any comments about my stay at their place, which will be a part of the show in two weeks.  We kicked everyone out around ten because I didn’t want to have to deal with the neighbors or our landlord, which was good because everyone was well-fed for the various parties taking place last night.  Aidan’s friend Laurel invited everyone from the potluck to her music-making party and so a bunch of us headed over there, but that was basically the end of the project.  A few hours later I slept in my bed for the first time in thirty days and it was an epic eleven hour experience!

There are a few last minute things that I want to say before I go back to the point in my life where I didn’t have to think in terms of blog posts.  While I believe this project to be a “success” and I’m glad that I did it, I would do a couple things differently if I were to do it again–for the month I would not have an apartment to go back to, not have any other obligations like work or school, and not be in an area where I moved through people who are in my similar situation.  Not having an apartment would just raise the stakes and tension of the whole piece.  Not having any obligations would similarly allow me to be more dedicated and create more opportunities for dinner / breakfast / etc.  Not being in my social group would both stop me from letting my social life interfere and create an entirely different experience / map out an entirely different group.  The work is intimately tied to the college lifestyle (and a very liberal-arts lifestyle at that), which makes sense given my current place in the world–but moving through a different group would allow a future piece to function differently and act in a dialog with this one.

I also want to mention that it was surprisingly lonely going to sleep by myself last night, waking up by myself, and cleaning the apartment all day by myself–knowing that I wasn’t going to be going out and meeting anyone tonight.  Although going through this has been a total pain, there was some level of excitement in knowing that I was going to be spending my night with someone I don’t normally spend my time with.  I also just got really used to having people around all the time + it was somewhat comforting to know that just by sleeping I was making art that I strongly believe in.  I got over all these feelings after a couple hours, but it was a really unexpected way to start my first day home.

Lastly: blogging.  One of the problems I have with the way most people use the camera today is that it acts as a barrier to living, with the photographer trying to so many pictures to “capture” an experience that actually experiencing the moment never happens.  This is why I never carry a camera around unless I have a very specific reason and goal (like documenting the places that I sleep).  Blogging is the same way.  Although a completely necessary part of this project, it was a hindrance to actually being in the moment: I found myself constantly thinking about how I was going to translate something into the blog / jotting notes in my phone when I should have been paying attention / having to finish up a blog entry when I could have been spending time with my host / etc.  It was pretty unpleasant and I don’t intend to do it again, unless the need arises.

Thank you all for reading!  Contrary to my earlier projection, the installation will be up tenth week (Dec. 1 – Dec. 5) in the Broad Art Center; the opening will be Thursday Dec. 4.

November 16, 2008


November 15, 2008

November 15, 2008

November 15, 2008

The first day of this project I slept four hours, so it only seems fitting that last night I slept four as well… I think it’s actually scarier that this feels normal, whereas the first day I absolutely wanted to die.  At least I’m done!  It was a pretty wonderful note to end on as well, as Sarah is one of those people I have always really enjoyed being around but rarely get to see.  We worked together two summers ago and had a really great time, then spent all of last year periodically talking about how we should get together and never really doing anything about it.

Sarah was originally going to attend the No On Eight rally on campus with me last night and then we were going to have dinner after, but she didn’t end up getting back in time and so I just headed over to her house when it was done.  I was kind of curious if we were going to go out or something since it was Friday night, but when I got there she was watching TV and so we watched some shows about nannying / just talked.  I’d like to point out that I had recently been told by someone that I stayed with that Sarah had a boyfriend, so I got all excited and asked her about it–only to discover they broke up, kind of putting a damper on the beginning of our evening.  I don’t remember who told me that, but apparently they were mistaken.  We talked for probably an hour and then she made me rice and Indian food.  I’m so used to cooking for other people at this point (my other concurrent project) that just sitting there while someone else made me dinner left me slightly antsy.  Only a couple hosts gave me food… it was quite appreciated, especially since she had already eaten.

Sarah’s roommate Erin got home about this time and hung out, watching a show about a pregnant man with us.  They talked about band a lot (I have been pretty entrenched in the band group the last few nights, which also has strong overlap with my coworker group) and that was actually quite interesting, harkening back to my discussion with John about band way back when I stayed at his house.  I don’t really understand much of what they talk about since I am completely disconnected from the UCLA sporting community, but I do know a lot of the same people which keeps it relevant.  Sarah and I had originally been planning on heading to Ralph’s to get stuff for dinner, so we decided to go get some things even though we had both eaten by this point.  We drove down there and Sarah got some of the college staples: pasta, salsa, milk, cereal, etc and I picked up the celebratory Blue Moon, obviously necessary for the last night.  I thoroughly enjoyed Sarah in Ralph’s, as this is her first year not in the dorms and she had no idea where anything was… kind of resulting in a lot of fun wandering about, almost driving in the wrong parking lot, etc.  Wooooo.

For some reason Sarah, Erin, and I decided it would be fun to look up the ridiculous adult ads on Craigslist over a beer–mostly because Erin and I didn’t really believe what Sarah was telling us about them.  There they were though, under “therapeutic services.”  We did this for a long time, to the point where it went from kind of funny to just kind of sad… you can only look at so many posts for sexxxei fee33tzzszsz 2 lickee before the humor wears off.  The whole weird fetish thing led directly into pterodactyl porn, which a lovely coworker showed everyone over the summer and is one of the more disturbing things I have ever seen; I’m glad Sarah and Erin can now share in that terrible, terrible memory with me.  At one point Sarah closed the lid of her laptop in the hopes of making it stop, but the sound kept going–actually making things worse.  Sarah also showed us “Green Porno,” which is a woman exploring bug sex and is just hilarious (and appropriate, I promise.)

After moving back to the living room, Sarah and I got really into Kim Possible on Disney… it’s still good six years later.  Erin clearly wasn’t as entertained by our Disney reminiscing as we were (Brink! Xenon! Smart House!) and went to sleep.  Sarah and I stayed up watching Home Improvement, which is also still amazing.  At some point we ended up talking on her bed, where I fell asleep at 5:20 or something terrible like that.  Sarah had to leave at 8:30, which ended the project on the most vulnerable note I think it ever hit… not only was she awake and leaving while I was still asleep (already an uncomfortable situation) but it was her bed, making everything worse.  I was for sure grossly sweaty and I’m sure my breath was terrible, but I’m going to hope that at least I wasn’t drooling… ugh.  I can’t remember the last time I woke up in someone’s bed that I wasn’t dating (not counting the occasional open beds I slept in during this project), the trust issues it brings up are enormous–that moment when you first wake up has got to be the most pathetic moment of anyone’s day and it is not pleasant when people who are fully awake are around.  I ended up sleeping another hour then letting myself out to write this before getting ready for the potluck…

It was a crazy last night and I had a really good time just relaxing with Sarah and Erin; we probably hung out for close to eight hours… definitely the most of any location this project.  Almost time to get back to real life; potluck prep first!


November 14, 2008

November 14, 2008

November 14, 2008

I just reread yesterday’s post… I was kind of ridiculous last night.  Oh well.  In keeping with how not worried about finding a place I have been, I didn’t talk to Debi until I was actually on my way to go out with friends.  I figured it was Thursday night, so she probably wasn’t going to sleep very early–which was incorrect.  I guess she had to move her discussion to nine this morning so that she could leave for an ultimate frisbee trip in the afternoon, but told me she would see how late her roommates were going to be up and call me back.  Turns out they were going to sleep early too, but a little bit later… so I needed to be back by 12:15 to get let in.  Debi gave me her roommate Samara’s number (which I incorrectly heard as Tamara) and then I met up with some friends at a bar in Westwood, where I actually saw one of Ashley’s really friendly roommates from a few days ago (I didn’t catch her name that night and didn’t want to ask last night either… but I do really want to know.)  I left around 11:55 and ran back to my apartment, got my stuff, and ran to Levering Heights… it was my third time staying at that complex and it looks like I have one more night there tonight.

Samara came down and let me in, corrected her name, and asked the usual questions about the project: what am I doing exactly?  have I stayed outside?  how has it been so far?  I answered after letting out a long involuntary sigh and provided more information than was asked, like how I was on the 29th night and just wanted to be done.  She seemed kind of grumpy, maybe because she had to wait up to let me in or something?  I had fully expected to deal with grumpy people, but in four weeks I haven’t really had anyone else seem annoyed that I was there so I was slightly taken aback.  Most people just aren’t really sure how to deal with me and are kind of awkward because I am somehow the “expert” of sleepovers, while this is their first time having a stranger sleep on their couch.  She probably just had a long day or something… I didn’t see her this morning, so who knows?

When I went to brush my teeth the sink looked clogged, but I think it was just draining really slowly: I’m kind of surprised that I haven’t seen more of that over the course of the piece, given that I am staying entirely within the college community.  It’s a strangely vulnerable feeling to spit toothpaste into a half-full sink and have to watch it slowly swirl around and know that anyone who comes in after you is going to see it as well.  Kind of gross.

My coffee / energy drink consumption is absurd at this point… it’s actually costing me a fair bit of money just to make it through my days, which sucks.  I guess it’s probably unhealthy as well, but whatever.  I finally learned how to use my roommate’s French press, which is saving me both money and cutting down on the waste I produce (going through multiple cardboard cups a day was killing my conscience–I now carry a ceramic mug around Broad and just get espresso shots as needed, occasionally picking up a Starbucks energy drink when necessary.)  The upside would be that I can now drink my coffee black, instead of needing to order a latte or something equally lame / expensive.

I woke up at seven something (I think?) when Debi was eating breakfast and got asked the final question everyone wants to know: what am I hoping to find out?  After giving a halting I-just-woke-up answer basically saying that I’m not hoping to find anything out (yes, that’s kind of untrue… but easy), we talked about ultimate frisbee for awhile.  I guess UCLA’s A team is one of the best in the nation and the B team used to be one of the best, but didn’t do very well last year… Debi is the captain of the B team, so hopefully they’ll have a good weekend.  I had no idea the frisbee team traveled for matches, so that’s fun.  I then packed up my stuff and got going so that I could finish this and still get over to Broad at a reasonable hour.

P.S.  Knowing everyone is worrying about you is strange and unpleasant… I keep hearing stories of people talking about it when I’m not around…


November 13, 2008

November 13, 2008

November 13, 2008

I have no time no time no time…

My roommate just stopped me from eating meat that is possibly rotten due to our fridge being broken, so I kind of love him.  It seemed like a good idea to try and cook out the rottenness?  It had only been two days, it couldn’t have been that bad.  Would I have done this if I’d been sleeping properly?  Probably!

I am starting to worry less and less about if things will work out… maybe just because they have kind of taken care of themselves so far?  Last night I was going dancing with some friends and Jason was going to sleep around 12:30 or something so there was some worry about our schedules meshing.  Earlier in the project I would have worried about it and adjusted my schedule accordingly, but figured it would be fine.  I got back around 1:15 or something and it was fiiiiine.  Jason is a super great guy, who I’ve known through work for a few years and was actually my suitemate two summers ago.  In keeping with his ridiculously nice personality, Jason was the only person to actually call me instead of having me call him yesterday–which was slightly off putting, but a very nice reversal.  He called and said that Ashley had explained the project to him (they’re dating!) and that if I needed a place for the night, he had checked with his roommates and I could totally stay.  Yay!

Before dancing I dropped off my stuff and was told by his roommate Ethan that I had to join the facebook group of people who have slept at the apartment.  I just joined (it’s called “I’ve Stayed at Hotel Levering”) and I’m the 27th person… DAMN!  Such a cool idea…

When I got back, Keith (a friend who frequently sleeps over) and Ethan were up studying and we talked for a few before I crashed on the couch next to a paper-writing Keith.  I woke up once and had to pee, which never ever happens… I tried really hard not to wake up Keith, but am pretty sure that I did from the rustling coming from his couch.  In the morning I swear he was there one minute and gone the next, but I was also confused and thought the door to the balcony across from where I was sleeping was the front door… so I think I was just a little tired.  I actually almost went back to sleep, but luckily Jason came out and made sure I stayed up; we talked about the potluck, but it doesn’t look like he can make it.

Later in the day art-Jackie told me that this project is making me a bigger Bitch than normal, which very well might be true.  I do get annoyed much more easily and speak my mind a little more, but she also hasn’t known me very long / well before this last month–so maybe she’s just not used to how sarcastic and rude I really am?  During my independent study meeting with Hirsch (he’s always worried about me!) he brought up how doing this at the same time as school creates an interesting set of problems… which is really true and maybe wasn’t my smartest idea.  Three studios + three hours of blogging a day + no sleep = trouble!

My hips still hurt; I can barely cross my legs.  Maybe I should take some Ibuprofen?  Tonight at the Amy Sillman lecture at the Hammer was painful to sit; I also was having trouble with nodding off, even though she was incredibly charismatic and interesting.  On the way home I saw a guy I know named Brandon, who said hi… but my brain wasn’t working fast enough to say anything, so I just pointed and shook his hand.  Frustrating!  I’m staying with Ethan’s gf Debi tonight, who was also my floormate sophomore year.  Yay!

Oh, while writing this my stepdad Jon called to tell me not to stress out about any of this and that he felt I was totally on par for a 21 year old and he was enjoying the blog.  He also told me that all the parents were just expressing their love in different ways and making sure that I was okay… it was an interesting call to get from him, since we don’t talk like that too much–but I definitely appreciated it.  Hirsch also told me he had been reading the blog and that it didn’t seem like any of my parent issues have been a huge deal; I think not sleeping has made everything seem much crazier / more important?  Whoaoaoa.

I called everyone about the potluck!  I hope people come… I’m going to send out a reminder text early on Saturday…


November 12, 2008

November 12, 2008

November 12, 2008

First, I just wanted to say that my drug and alcohol rant yesterday was just to clarify some things about myself that this blog might have made unclear.  It was not a judgment of anyone and I really have no problem with either of those things in moderation, but did want to make my relationship to them more apparent (mostly for the sake of my parents.)  While on the subject, I got a call from my mom at 7:30 this morning to tell me that she had received an email from my dad, caught up on the blog, and wanted to talk to me before she called him back.  Basically she just told me how proud of me she is, that she loves me unconditionally, and that she might not really understand all the project but she doesn’t judge me at all.  I appreciated the call, minus the part where (in the message she left before I called her back) she talked about how I’m taking this time to experiment because I wasn’t able to experiment properly in high school due to custody issues.  That’s not really true at all… I pretty much did what I wanted in high school and (even if I hadn’t) custody issues were settled long before that / were never really a serious hindrance.  People reading this as some kind of natural self-exploration is driving me crazy: I did not do this project in the hopes of “finding myself” or making up for some lost experiences or something.  Like I said yesterday, I am quite aware of who I am / what I believe in–obviously that’s going to be in flux since I’m 21, but please don’t just explain away everything that I’m doing as some kind of normal soul searching.  It’s not.  It’s a calculated and planned art project.  A friend who graduated last quarter told me that people kept telling her she was “just going through something” because of the work she was making and that it annoyed her immensely.  I didn’t really understand until now.  I’m not “going through something,” I’m just living my life under a different set of rules than I normally do… please give me some credit and don’t just assume that I must be doing this to heal some sort of emotional shortcoming.  On a lighter note, I made it into Alan’s blog after spending the night there the other day… so that is pretty awesome! I love him.

Last night I stayed with Ashley who I used to work with and have absolutely loved since meeting, which made for a nice experience.  I was in the studio roughly twelve hours yesterday, punctuated by talking to my parents for awhile, and was both emotionally and physically drained… so being able to stay with someone I am already comfortable around was very welcome.   I didn’t get there until around midnight, but she and her roommates all came into the living room to say hi and we talked about the project for awhile.  It was much less about “why” and more just about how it has been, which was kind of relieving on some level.  At first it was a little awkward because I was on one side of the room facing the three of them, but they are way too friendly to be awkward and seemed genuinely interested in what I was saying.  Besides the usual project stories (outside, car, etc) they got to listen to me talk about the issue with my parents, which quite a few people have now heard about.  I got the usual reaction of surprise, given that I am pretty tame for a college student, which makes me feel somewhat less crazy about things… even if I do understand their concern.

Everyone was tired and I was kind of interested in eating the macaroni and cheese I had brought with me, so we didn’t talk for long… although I did find out that they need a fourth roommate for the rest of the year (it came up how I was kind of like the fourth roommate for the night, in a weird way.)  Incidentally I happen to know someone who is looking for an apartment for the rest of the year and think it would be amazing if they end up living together as a result of this project.  One of Ashley’s roommates then showed me how to work the TV, which always happens… I’ve never actually watched TV at anyone’s place, but everyone shows me how to work it just in case.  In this particular situation the remote lives in the drawer of the coffee table, but the TV must be turned on manually first… they must have cable because they have a guide once it’s on.  They also set me up with some blankets and Ashley got me a glass of water; the amount of UCLA paraphernalia is great and definitely marked the culture of the apartment as UCLA BAND.  At one point I was invited to come to their post-SC party, to which I responded when and they told me after the USC game… and I kind of just blankly stared at them until they shockedly clarified that it’s early December.  While in the kitchen I noticed a whiteboard next to the fridge where people had left various comments; the trend of letting people somehow contribute to the apartment is something I have seen a few times… like at Stephanie’s, where people were allowed to write and draw all over the walls.  I think my favorite comment last night was something like, “Things to clean:  Everything.”

After brushing my teeth (and finding it really strange that Ashley and Manny have bathrooms that are almost identical) I was ready to go to sleep, but wasn’t sure if I should go back to the bedrooms and say good night or not.  It’s kind of intrusive, once that space has been designated as separate from the space that I am being left to sleep in, so I just laid down on the futon and Ashley and her roommate came back out to show me how to make it into a bed.  That was the most spacious “bed” I have slept on in weeks; stretching out was glorious.  They asked if I needed anything else, which I think I mumbled a “I’m sorry, I’m just really tired” in response and then immediately passed out.

I mentioned before that I see this as tied to being alone in London, where I often wouldn’t say anything to anyone for the greater part of the day and would find myself just wanting to speak for the sake of speaking.  Unsurprisingly, this is the exact opposite and I really just want to be able to just sit and listen.  Having to build a similar foundation of a relationship every day is both strange and draining.   There was a moment last night when we finished the sit-and-get-to-know-me part of the evening and Ashley and one of her roommates were just sitting on their computers talking while I ate my dinner.   They were talking about the various levels of popularity of people and were being pretty critical (I assumed they were on facebook) about levels of sluttiness, etc.   I did kind of question their casual / harsh judgment, but wasn’t going to say anything.  They then realized I didn’t know what they were talking about and clarified that these were various stuffed animals that their friends owned, the sluttiness thus referring to the number of pictures each animal has taken with their various friends.  There was then some joking about said stuffed animals (I guess some inappropriate public sex took place recently between two of the silly creatures) and it was great to be a part of a conversation that was not overly serious, where I was not the center of attention, and it wasn’t about this project.


November 11, 2008

November 11, 2008

November 11, 2008

I just want to get this project done, despite how well I think it has gone so far.  Things seem like a much better idea when you’re planning than when it actually comes to living–and I can safely say that thirty days is enough to consider something lived.  Last night I stayed with Manny, who is going to hand me off to another coworker / band kid and I am looking forward to it because it should be someone that I know and can relax around.  I’m fairly certain that it’s not going to get back to Alex, but he did get his wish of getting me way high last night and (as I predicted) it was a not a good time.  I was really paranoid, to the point of being convinced that I couldn’t trust Manny or Amanda–which made for a pretty stressful situation once we got back to Manny’s place and kind of just a terrible night.  I’ve known Manny for a couple years, do really trust him, and would have had a much more authentic experience if weed wasn’t involved… in fact, my brain was working so slowly that I couldn’t even actually talk or connect with anyone anyways.  I don’t really remember being worried about anything concrete, just that they both really disliked me or something (probably going hand-in-hand with the vague social anxiety that accompanies invading other people’s space everyday.)  I’ve since decided to not smoke anymore, as I was kind of curiously interested and have had enough experience now to safely say that it’s just unpleasant.  Even when it’s not as bad as last night, I’m still just less mentally proficient and much quieter than I really am.  I am glad that this isn’t a choice I made before doing this project, however, as I think smoking is somewhat related to college life and was tied to some of the experiences I had.

Manny and I had some toast, during which I was completely silent, and then I went to sleep… to be woken up about a half-hour later to meet his roommates.  I actually had to get up and walk over to meet them because Manny really wanted me to, which they responded to with confusion and told Manny that I didn’t have to get up.  It was weird and Manny obviously wasn’t himself either; he apologized numerous times already.  In the morning I woke up to him and his roommate starting homework in the living room and was offered to stay for breakfast, which is surprisingly the first time I have actually stayed for food in the morning.  Between the two of us we cooked chicken potstickers, leftover vegetables, a few eggs, and brewed some coffee.  It was a nice way to get things started and we kind of just reflected on how ridiculous and unpleasant the night before had been, after which I had to run to work on a video at Broad.  I was forthcoming with how worried he had made me the night before, which is kind a weird thing to share with someone who let you sleep over and is now making you breakfast; I think he understood, however, that it isn’t actually how I feel about him.

While editing I got a call from my dad, who had been called by my stepmom Calie, who had caught up on the blog and thus read the recent entry about potentially getting “fucked up.”  They were really worried about my ability to exercise healthy judgement at this point and my dad wanted to make sure that I seemed in control of my life, in case he needed to come over and make me realize how ridiculous I was being.  I understand their concern, but wasn’t really ready for the conversation and found it profoundly upsetting because I think that (despite some evidence to the contrary) I make very good choices.  I am neither a druggie nor an alcoholic, nor am I overly out of control / incapable of making healthy decisions–as were some of their concerns.  Well in all fairness they had different concerns, but the multiple conversations we’ve had in the last few hours are kind of just blurring together and I am actually finding myself unable to recall specifics.  I am close with my parents and found it really upsetting, as I respect their opinion of me and I felt like they had a view that is not really that accurate.  Despite everything, I am in control of myself and my choices–I’m not going to get caught up in anything or do anything that I am not okay with.  I understand their fears and should probably have brought it up with them myself, but figured they know me well enough to not worry (which was a flawed assumption.)  For anyone reading who might have gotten what I think is the wrong impression: I have never been belligerently drunk, I don’t drink daily or have any desire to drink daily, I have never blacked out, I don’t buy weed, I have only smoked a handful of times, I have no intention of smoking again or trying anything harder.  I can see how the blog might make some of those seem false, but the reason they are mentioned is because they are an important part of this experience.

At one point Calie told me that I had become a cliche, largely relating to the way I have been talking about social connections / feelings / other sixties stereotypes.  I know they don’t really understand this type of art-making and so I want to take a second and clarify a bit for anyone interested.  We live in a time where images have lost much of their power and it is arguably impossible for blatantly political work to actually create any meaningful change–just look at the issues associated with documentary photography, everyone sees the images and then immediately goes back to their lives.  The question of how to make anything powerful / meaningful / profound / thought-provoking in such a culture is important and I think leads to the realm of performance and social interaction.  Obviously she is entitled to her opinion, but I think that talking about my work in relationship to an era of free love is just kind of a misreading.  I don’t think that’s what I’m saying and I’m not trying to imply we should all hold hands and be friends, as that is a ridiculous and unproductive idea.  I’m also not trying to reach some higher-plane of experience.  However, I am trying to examine the way we relate to one another and (at least in this case) the physicality of a shared experience.  Both my parents also expressed a concern about the need for drugs to make art, which I feel is absolutely not relevant to me and is actually something that I find kind of pathetic.  I have approached smoking with a host the same way I would approach drinking tea with a host; neither is integral to my project, but both were a part of the experience that I tried to share via the blog.

I am currently skipping work, which I feel bad about, but I was pretty much crying when I got there and had to ask Nicole if she minded working alone.  I have no capacity to ignore problems and would not have been able to make it through a six hour shift, so I used the time to talk to my parents and write this.

Mostly I just want to be able to retreat back into hermitism.  This excessive socialness isn’t who I am and I want to be able to center myself and be completely in control of my situation, as there is a continuous feeling of unnaturalness.  This project has been much more about my limits than I would have ever guessed and it’s getting wearying to keep pushing myself.  Paradoxically this experience has instilled me with a vague desire to be around people all the time that I am having to keep in check and that is the most terrifying part of everything… how long is it going to take for that to go away?  Yesterday at dinner was a good example, when I really wanted to invite people over just for the sake of having people around.  I’m not worried about any of the issues of “finding myself” that have been raised lately… I think I’m pretty much through the post-breakup trauma and am quite comfortable and certain about who I am–it’s more worrisome that I have this desire for company that is not at all normal for me.

Lastly I want to mention (because this often seems confusing since it’s largely omitted from the blog) that I do still see my core group of friends and they have been vital in keeping me grounded throughout this project.  I also go back to my house during the day to get some level of recovery, but have been working so hard with three studios that I have very little down time.  Four nights left and I don’t want to ever blog again.


November 10, 2008

November 10, 2008

November 10, 2008

Last night was almost my second night outside!  Stefan didn’t return my call about finding a place, so I called his apartmentmate Brenna once I deduced that they lived together and urged her to help Stefan find a place (not breaking the rules, as they both live there.)  Brenna agreed to help and said she would call a mutual friend of ours and get back to me, which she never did and she never returned my text… at this point I was sure I was staying outside.  Stefan then talked to Bev, who recommended Stefan have me stay with our mutual friend Alan and that is what I did.  Bev is kind of my savior at this point, as she has discreetly found me a place to stay the last four nights.  After staying at her place, she sent me to Kyra–then when Kyra couldn’t find a place she had Kyra set me up in her friend’s car (who I think is named Brittanny)–Brittanny doesn’t know anyone because she was visiting, so Bev had her send me to Stefan’s–Stefan couldn’t find anyone so Bev had him send me to Alan.  It technically was following the rules, as I don’t decide how my hosts find me a new place, but she really has masterminded my recent existence and put quite a bit of effort into it.  What a lovely thing to do for a stranger!  We’re pretty much bff now.

Alan and I actually lived together last summer and we get along really well, so it was a nice chance to let down my guard a bit.  I tend to keep things to myself and Alan tends to not let me keep things to myself, which can be kind of a nice relief at moments.  Everything I tried to tell him when he asked about my life he had already read in the blog (people have actually started reading this and I am getting more and more people telling me about how into it they are and how my honesty allows them to really become a part of the project–I also have a lot more people worrying about me after my last few posts, which is really weird) and so he quickly forced me to go deeper about how I’ve been lately.  This all took place over Runts and green tea.  We started by going over what I texted the other night, which was probably healthy to talk about, and then just about relationships in general.  My and Alan’s romantic lives have been strangely paired ever since I met him a couple years ago, so it’s something we have always talked about and it’s refreshing to get to talk about things that I normally wouldn’t bring up with anyone.  He was also there to listen when I was dealing with my breakup over the summer, so it kind of makes sense that we would get a chance to catch up now.  I learned he’s going abroad soon!  We don’t hang out too much, but I will miss our conversations (and video game playing / drunken ridiculousness) for the months that he’s gone.

Somewhere in my brain I knew that Alan blogs regularly, but I haven’t ever read any of it (a fact I am going to rectify shortly.)  We did talk about blogging a bit though: how I am trying to be increasingly honest, while he prefers to be a bit more ambiguous since he’s just blogging as a personal record.  I guess he’s going to try and keep it more open, which I would recommend.  It’s been really hard for me, but as someone who gets incredibly stressed out about letting other people know how I’m feeling this has been a healthy exercise.  The New Genres professor Harry Dodge commented how this project seemed like a way for Elliott to deal with his fear of people, but I think if it’s anything along those lines it’s more of a way for Elliott to deal with his fear that sharing things with people somehow means they’re scarily permanent.  And a chance for him to speak in the third person, because it’s quite amusing.

Before I go back to my night, I want to mention that apparently a lot of sleep followed by a little sleep makes me kind of grumpy and a little too honest.  Today that same professor asked if I was becoming more tired from my project (presumably because I wasn’t very participative in class) and my response was something like: oh, not really… I’m just not really interested in anything we’re learning today.  WHAT THE HELL?!?  WHO SAYS THAT???  I’m quite certain that’s not something you should ever tell to your professor.  I sent an apologetic email later on, as I really didn’t mean to be rude or offensive.  I absolutely love his class, I just happen to find analyzing traditional narrative cinema kind of boring.  Later this afternoon the Geffen Playhouse had closed the sidewalk in front of it, blocking my path to Ralph’s right after I had crossed the street to get there.  I was on the phone and this annoyed me, so I tried to walk through and a large man pushed me back and told me I couldn’t go through.  I then slipped past him into the street, where another person tried to stop me and I was forced to go farther into the street and was then yelled at to get back on the sidewalk.  I yelled back at him that they wouldn’t let me.  I generally avoid confrontation as it takes so much less effort to be laid back, but blocking off streets is a huge pet peeve (stupid LA) and I guess being tired made me a bit more annoyed than usual.

Alan had just gotten back from a Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament, so we talked about that and how that group really is this tight knit family and how he also had that in his Fellowship, Frat, and even amongst the Sproul Front Desk (where I work and he used to work.)  I’ve been thinking about that since last night and how I have my really tight group of friends that is totally family, along with my Front Desk family… it’s also really strange considering I don’t know most of the people from this project very well, but it does seem like some sort of strange family just because everyone is connected and everyone was generous enough to house me.  I was just explaining to Alan over instant messenger that I’m really excited for as many people to meet at the potluck as possible!

The only thing that kind of bothered me last night was when we talked about this party my ex and her roommates threw earlier in the quarter.  It was a dinosaur themed party and was amazing… I had a really really good time.  I guess Alan had been worried about me back then and thought that I had been “trying to find myself” and changed a lot in the process, which made me sad because I don’t think it was the case at all.  It was one of the first times being around everyone all at once since the breakup, but it was a really good time and I don’t like hearing from someone I respect so much that I was acting worrisome.  Good thing I’m arrogant enough to just take it for granted that he’s wrong… hehehe.  He was also worried about me because of what he’d read in the blog, but I assured him that I really am doing well.  And it was / is true.  I did feel like a was talking to people through some sort of curtain yesterday though, which was an unpleasant feeling… oh and today I fell asleep in the dental chair at the UCLA Dental Center in the two minutes my dentist had walked away to find the head dentist.

Tonight I’m staying with my friend / supervisor Manny (who is also one of the participants in my dinner project) and he, Alex, Amanda, and I are going to hang out.  I’m pretty sure Alex is going to try and get Manny to give him me tomorrow, in the hopes of fulfilling his desire to get me the highest I’ve ever been.  First of all, that wouldn’t be very hard.  Second of all, I’m not sure if I really want that to happen–but feel like it’s a part of the project and I don’t really want to say no since it’s not like I’m worried about my safety or anything like that.  Who knows…


November 9, 2008

November 9, 2008

November 9, 2008

I think I may have finally hit some sort of emotional wall last night, where I was completely unable to deal with anything and just had to go to sleep.  I’ve been interested in this girl for awhile and it’s not going anywhere (which we both agree is for the best) but I’m having a lot of trouble letting it go–which I think is just a factor of wanting some sort of stable thing to focus on in the midst of the scatteredness of my life during this project.  At Randi’s party I very intelligently (following the advice of a friend) decided to start texting her about it and unsurprisingly nothing had changed, which I could not really process properly so I headed over to Stefan’s to go to sleep.  I am absolutely not the kind of person to get all clingy and serious, so on top of everything else I get really frustrated for not acting like myself.  It’s not going to happen again and it wouldn’t even be a big deal if I would just stop bringing it up.

Last night at Randi’s, Alex (Amanda’s friend that I’ve met a few times and saw at the co-op party) kept bringing up how he wants me to stay at his house so he can get me “the most fucked up that I’ve ever been.”  In all honesty that’s kind of terrifying and so maybe it’s a good thing that I don’t see it getting back to him in the next six days… despite him wanting me to introduce him to whoever I happen to be staying with.  It’s nice when people want to be involved with the project though!

I slept nine and a half hours last night, probably the most I have slept in the last three weeks and I feel legitimately great for once.  My experience at Stefan’s was pretty lackluster, as I wasn’t in a very good mood and he was really tired as well.  He showed me where the bathroom and water were and then left me alone in the living room, where I quickly fell asleep after brushing my teeth and sending a few more drunk texts (but at least these weren’t ones that I regret, they were just recounting the ones I did regret to Grace.)  There is a Guinness clock in Stefan’s living room and it has the loudest ticking I have ever heard come from a clock.  My friend Austin called and woke me up in the morning to see if I was going to today’s No On Eight protest, which I am not–as today is my self-imposed mental health / get my shit together day, and I couldn’t fall back asleep because all I could hear was the damn clock… so I got up and left, which is good because I had lunch plans anyways.  On my way out I noticed some sort of frat accoutrement with my friend Brenna’s name on it and I’m kind of curious if Stefan and Brenna are roommates, since he mentioned the girls he lives with were gone for the night.  I intend to find out…


November 8, 2008

November 8, 2008

November 8, 2008

That update last night was kind of crazy, but I’m feeling somewhat better this morning; I’m still weak and kind of down though.  After writing it I found out that I was probably going to be sleeping outside because a drunk Beverly told me to just go to Pike and find any frat brother and tell him that she gave me permission to sleep on the couch, which is clearly a terrible idea and plus Kyra was supposed to be the one to find me a place anyways.  Kyra called about an hour later when I was wallowing in self pity on Grace’s couch and told me she had found a car for me to sleep in, a yellow VW bug.  I guess the owner was just visiting and was nice enough (and trusting enough) to let me spend the night in her car… the more I think about it, the cooler that is.  Kyra was kind of freaking out and just kept repeating that she tried really hard, but is a transfer and doesn’t know very many people–I tried to repeatedly reassure her that it was not a big deal and that I planned the project knowing some nights might be uncomfortable so she shouldn’t be so upset.  Now might be a good time to mention that right now I’m working with the person who let me sleep outside a few weeks ago and he just apologized for probably the five thousandth time for not finding me a place.  I wanted that component to ensure people felt some imperative to look for a new host, but had no idea that it would make people feel so guilty.  I don’t want to make art that induces guilt, so that’s kind of a bummer.

I do find it very interesting that Kyra and Bev didn’t just talk to Celina (Kyra’s apartmentmate) about it though, as we know a lot of the same people and I’m sure it wouldn’t have been too hard for her to find a place.  Maybe it has something to do with the apartment relationships / politics?  Or maybe they did ask?  I don’t know…

Bev (everyone else calls her that so I’m just going to start as well) and her friend let me in the car and left me with the keys, coming back a few minutes later with water and a blanket just in case I needed them.  It was somewhat relieving to have a space entirely to myself and I naively thought that I would be able to get eight hours of sleep.  VW’s are actually pretty small and I couldn’t fall asleep lying in the back seat (on top of my sleeping bag–it was so hot) so I moved to the passenger’s seat and leaned it back as far as it would go, falling asleep pretty quickly.  Figuring out how to work the seats was a huge pain in the ass and probably took me close to fifteen minutes, due to some sort of weird ratcheting mechanism… I kept discretely looking around to make sure that no one was watching me look like a total fool.  There was a moment where people walked by and I pretended to be asleep so that I wouldn’t have to deal with them, figuring out how to work the seat shortly after they were gone.  I woke up every hour and around six I decided to crawl into the back seat and try to sleep there again, which was slightly more comfortable but I woke up even more often.  At some point I unzipped my sleeping bag, stuck my feet inside, and kind of draped the rest over me to stay warm… and I woke up dripping sweat in the morning.  I sat up and looked out the window, only to find Bev and her other friend who owns the car staring back at me.  It was a weird fishbowl-like thing to wake up to, especially since they were all dressed up for the game and I way haggard… I guess they had just taken a picture of me! I fumbled to find the keys to let them in and they gave me a ride back to my apartment a few blocks away.

I often leave before my hosts get up or at least am not in close proximity to them in the morning, so this morning in the car was quite unique.  I was literally wet with sweat (the car was practically a sauna and I still had my sleeping bag over me), my hair was even more crazy than it usually is, and I’m sure my breath was quite unpleasant… not really ideal conditions for meeting someone new.  I’ve seen Bev the last three nights in a row and I’m really curious how her impression of me stacks up to how I am “normally.”  I feel really different / slightly out of control, but I’m wondering if that shows at all.  Today my good friend Dominick read the blog for the first time and mentioned that I’m doing a lot worse than I seem in person, so I’m guessing a lot of it is in my head… we’ll see how this last week goes.


November 7, 2008

November 7, 2008

November 7, 2008

Shiiiit.  It was a crazy night.  Sometime during the protest my phone mysteriously stopped working and I hadn’t called Kyra yet so I kind of started freaking out about how I could possibly meet up with her.  Eventually I just used a friend’s phone to call and then mine started working shortly thereafter, but it really highlighted how incredibly dependent this project has made me on my cell phone: not only do I need it to keep in touch, but it really is integral to me having a roof over my head each night.  Kyra, Beverly (who I hadn’t really gotten a chance to talk to much the day before, but had been texting back and forth with all day yesterday), and Celina (art major… we once went to a Bloc Party concert together!) were all hanging out watching movies and so I headed over there after celebrating a friend’s 21st, around 1:20.

Well, the four of us went to the Christian frat because we heard they were giving out free food.  Then we came back and watched an episode of Californication.  Celina then went into the bedroom to check on her drunk roommate Kelly; Kyra went to help, along with Celina’s boyfriend Nick.  Beverly and I were then asked to help lift her to the toilet… when we got there she was on her back, kind of choking on red vomit and unresponsively staring at the ceiling while we ineffectively tried to flip her over.  When it became apparent that things were not okay, Nick called 911 and he and I waited outside to show them which apartment when they showed up.  Nick, who clearly had been drinking more than I had, kept repeating how great this would make my art project and that it was just too bad that it was such a shitty situation otherwise; despite the situation (or perhaps because of the situation?) we got to know each other surprisingly well for five minutes… it was a really chill conversation that was completely devoid of small talk on both sides.  Once help got there, we all waited in the living room while the paramedics put her on a stretcher and Celina scurried back and forth trying to help them, repeatedly bringing up how Kelly had class at eight the next morning.  It was really intense and it was easily the most unresponsive I have ever seen a drunk person before…

There was one moment that sticks out in particular: I was sitting on a tiger-print stool at the bar, Beverly and Kyra were on the couch to my right, Celina and Nick were leaning against the wall in front of me, and the paramedics were moving Kelly on a white sheet from the bathroom to the stretcher in the entryway.  One of the paramedics (or a firefighter maybe?) said they were going to need more sheets.  Nick kept trying to hold Celina’s hand to calm her down, but kind of just kept bumping his hand against where her arm went behind her back and she seemed too distracted to notice.  Then finally they got it right for a few moments before she left to ride with Kelly to the ER.  It was a beautiful moment in the midst of everything.

Beverly, Kyra, Nick, and I cleaned the bedroom and bathroom–409, paper towels, laundry detergent, and scented candles > vomit.  It was such a weird situation.  We talked about how much we all bonded; I can’t believe that this all happened the one night I happened to be sleeping over.  I think at some point Celina came in and said good night, but I’m not sure if I just made that up or not.  I wanted to be at Broad at seven, but woke up at eight… I basically was falling asleep in the editing room, so I came home to write this shortly after class.  I’ve never had this happen before, but my neck muscles are really really sore from yelling so much (my voice is completely shot as well, I kind of throatily whisper at everyone and the cracking sounds like the stereotypical kid going through puberty.)  Whenever I yawn, my neck and jaw feel like they’re on fire… and I am yawning a lot.  And I still have dishes from Tuesday’s dinner to do.  Ughgah, eight nights left–last night Kyra told me that she wasn’t sure if she could find a place for today, but hopefully she does.

UPDATE:  I am absolutely not okay.  I guess it took three weeks to get to this point, which seems pretty solid.  I thought the shaking was from not eating properly, but that’s not it… I actually bought some cereal and have been eating three meals a day, but I still shake all the time.  Bad shaking, enough to make typing fairly difficult at moments, and it is actually coupled with the kind of weakness that you feel when you first wake up, like your muscles just aren’t quite willing to work properly.  My constant, natural optimism is gone and I just have a vague sense of dread and melancholy all the time… which I don’t think I have ever had before, even during some of my more down periods in early high school.  I am a social wreck, questioning / replaying / worrying about everything I say and I also have lost almost all ability to keep things to myself and have already told a few people things that I really wish I had been able to keep to myself (and then repeatedly called / texted them because I was so paranoid about it.)  My brain is seemingly unable to put things together like it should be able to–mentally things are moving really slowly or kind of just stay separated in a way that is really bothersome, as I can normally hold quite a bit of information at any given time and see how it relates / sift through it quickly and easily, but I feel like I am just accumulating raw information without anyway of dealing with it.  I can’t multitask, forgetting things that I should be able to remember which is causing me constant low-level stress.  A few days ago I made a “Genius” playlist on iTunes that started from the Lykke Li song “Dance, Dance, Dance” and it’s a really good mix, but it’s become all that I want to do–basically just sit around and listen to it over and over.  Tonight I’m supposed to sleep on a couch in a frat, which almost certainly means no sleep and maybe no place tomorrow night since I’m not sure if I even have a specific host.  Fuck this.  And sorry to everyone who has had to deal with my ridiculousness.


November 6, 2008

November 6, 2008

November 6, 2008

I was planning on going to sleep early last night, until I heard about the large No On Eight protests taking place throughout the city.   An art major named Grace and I were having dinner after the Rachel Whiteread lecture (which I more or less stayed awake through) and we decided to try and find more people and head over there.  I called Beverly to see if she wanted to come / to make sure that I would still have a place to sleep after… she had too much work to do, but said anytime was fine and that if she fell asleep my call would wake her up anyways.  Grace, art-Jackie, and I went to the protest for a few hours, which was simultaneously amazing and heartbreaking.  It was definitely one of the few times I have really been in love with this city.

Beverly was pretty hilarious when I showed up and I had my suspicions that she had been asleep; her answer when I asked if I had woken her up was something to the effect of a noncommittal “unghh.”  She had made me up a bed on the couch, complete with a bottle of water–after yelling for three hours my throat was killing me and it was really thoughtful of her.  We didn’t talk much, but she texted me today apologizing for being groggy and unhelpful.  It was so perfect because that is exactly the kind of message that I send to people all the time and I would have almost certainly sent one to Christi yesterday if I had any way of contacting her; the whole situation reminded me of me, which is fun.  Beverly also apologized that I had to sleep on the couch, which was kind of confusing as I’m not sure where she thought I wanted to sleep… maybe she just wanted to clarify to avoid any awkward confusion?

The floors at Beverly’s are incredibly creaky, so walking to the bathroom to brush my teeth and getting up to leave this morning proved quite the challenge.  I tried to move as silently as possible, not wanting to wake anyone up / make them wonder if I was just wandering about the apartment… it probably looked hilarious, stepping lightly in the dark while cursing to myself under my breath.  I was just praying the bedroom door wouldn’t open, as I already felt bad for getting there so late in the first place.

Sleeping was fine, despite dreaming about my tooth falling out the entire time.  It’s kind of ridiculous how much I think about it and every time I brush my teeth it becomes a paramount concern.  I also realized that the ink on my hand (I keep copious notes there) might bleed onto the leather couch, so my last few conscious moments were spent licking the back of my hand and scrubbing with my thumb; I then sucked the ink off my thumb.  I try to keep it classy.

I didn’t see Beverly in the morning because of early work, but we’ve been texting back and forth and I think I’m going to see if she’s interested in coming to the No On Eight rally today in front of the LDS Temple, which is where I’m about to head off to after grabbing lunch.  I’m so shaky that I can barely type because of coffee on no breakfast and I think the need for me to take better care of myself is finally sinking in.  My hips are still incredibly sore and my throat feels like it’s on fire as well, combined with my skin breaking out worse than it has since high school.

Oh, there is another really interesting part of trying to match schedules with my hosts’ that I have yet to expound upon and have recently become overwhelmingly aware of.  We always reach a point in the conversation where I have to ask what their plans are so I can adjust accordingly, as they are the ones who are actually in control of the spaces that I will be occupying.  It is almost always at least mildly awkward.  Take Beverly yesterday for example… after asking what she had planned for the evening, there was a long pause where I felt like she was probably trying to ascertain whether or not I was trying to include myself in her plans.  She slowly responded that she was doing homework all night, to which I quickly and probably over zealously made it clear that I was just asking because I could come over anytime and wanted to know when she would be around.  Beverly then told me she had a TV I could use, but she didn’t have time to entertain me… confirming the suspicion that she had been worried she may have signed up for more than just letting me crash on her couch.  It’s happened so many times that I’m just starting to find it immensely humorous.


November 5, 2008

November 5, 2008

November 5, 2008

Well now, I’ve had a cup of “awake” tea and two shots of espresso today and am ready to go!  Earlier I talked to some friends about the structure of these entries and it has again been emphasized that I need to go deeper–essentially that I need to present a slightly less summarized version of events and that I can probably cut out most of the who-knows-who as it is kind of just assumed that it will happen since I’m not moving too far out of my social sphere (we’re all students living in the same area with friends in common.)  I reread all the entries with that in mind and can hopefully continue to move toward the best narrative accompaniment to the physical act.  I hadn’t realized how little concrete detail / event I was providing… I will try to adjust accordingly.

I didn’t finish yesterday’s entry until around midnight, so I just took a shower and headed over to Macon’s straight away.  I called first, but no one picked up… I figured she was still out and wasn’t too worried about it because she had told me that she left a key for me (Macon is an art major as well and apparently Stephanie was talking to her about me / the project and asked if I could sleep over after finding out that we knew each other–so it wasn’t like she left a key for a complete stranger.)  No one seemed to be home when I got there, but the couch had a blanket and pillows on it which I figured were for me and so I promptly got into “bed,” leaving the light on so that whoever came home wouldn’t be in the dark with a stranger.  At some point I woke up to someone trying to get in, but after waddling to the door in my sleeping bag I discovered no one was there and figured I had been imagining it or something.  The doorbell rang sometime in the next few minutes (I may have fallen asleep again) and I opened the door to someone who I think introduced herself as Christi and apologized profusely for waking me up… she hesitated at the doorway and was actually so apologetic that I began to wonder if she even lived there or if she was a neighbor who needed something or something.  Turns out she does live there and is really nice, offering to get me anything I needed (including opening the windows for some air.)  My memory is pretty hazy because I had been asleep, but I do remember being convinced that I hadn’t gone to sleep yet and being confused that she was wearing shorts even though it was super cold out.  I declined the window opening (cold!) and I told her that I was confused by the first time she tried the door, immediately becoming incredibly and irrationally worried that she would judge me for being so confused about everything.  The worry stopped me from talking much, but I did mention that I was fine leaving the light on until Macon got back–to which I was then informed that everyone was already home and she was the last one back.  I’m still not really sure if people were there upon my arrival or if I slept through them getting back or what.  She turned off the light for me and for some reason the abruptness of it shocked me even more, but I don’t remember anything beyond the light turning off so I guess I immediately fell back asleep.

In the morning I woke up with my head on their pillow and not my pillow, causing me to quickly check for drool.  Luckily and surprisingly there wasn’t any, which was a big relief; I almost always drool in my sleep and I can almost guarantee that at least one host has noticed it so far.  Besides the usual worries of drooling, talking, etc I now have a new social anxiety when sleeping over–what if my fake tooth breaks!  As of yesterday evening my retainer has become increasingly broken at an alarming rate and I am just hoping that it will last until I can make an orthodontist appointment at home.  My tooth is probably the only thing I am consistently self-conscious of and the first thing that I thought when I noticed it was loose was that it is totally going to break at a stranger’s house.  Anyways, I left early this morning to make it to my class and didn’t see anyone… making this the second time I went all night without ever seeing my host.

The last meals project has caused me to walk to the grocery store one or two times a week and I find myself too busy / unmotivated to go any other time and pick up actual groceries for myself.  This means I barely have any food and am pretty much relying on skipping meals, eating food on campus, eating at friends’, food from my sleepovers, and potstickers.  I say this to explain why I didn’t have breakfast this morning, but have had quite a bit of caffeine–the result of which is some pretty intense (and probably unhealthy) shaking.  Today I am also having a really weird soreness in my lower stomach / hips that I’m going to attribute to this project, because I never actually do anything to merit any muscle soreness.  Maybe it has to do with the couch being a little small?  Sitting has been surprisingly painful, as it hurts whenever I’m sitting and moving my legs… but I’m too fidgety to sit still.  Ugh.

Numerous people have been asking for written participant responses, but I have remained resistant to soliciting such responses or putting them in the main body of the blog.  Anyone can leave comments, but I feel the blog is primarily intended to be a record of my experience.  I am tentatively considering having “response forms” of some kind at the potluck, however, allowing for hand-written accounts from any host who wants to give one.  These would then be a part of the installation.

Rachel Whiteread artist lecture tonight!  If I can’t stay awake through it, I am going to be grumpy.


November 4, 2008

November 4, 2008

November 4, 2008

Well, Obama is the new president and I’m pretty sure that I need to be out celebrating so I’m gonna keep this short… plus I have very little blogging time Tuesdays because of the last meal project (see below, Oct. 22, Oct. 29).  Last night I stayed with Stephanie, who is way chill (and gave me a homemade pumpkin-spice muffin on my arrival!)  I spent most of the night finishing up a paper while she avoided working on hers, to the background of amazing dance music… although I had to do it without internet.  It’s crazy how isolating it is being internetless, but at least it stopped me from distancing myself from the apartment–which had quite a few people in and out all evening.  Stephanie and I also talked about the project for awhile, along with some about our European travels over summer; it was a much needed, low-key night.

Today I talked to Hirsch Perlman about the relationship between this project and the last meals that I am serving (they will be shown together during the first week of December and should hopefully create a dialog.)  I know I have mentioned the project before, but I want to take a second to clarify: I meet with a group of the same five volunteers every Tuesday night for dinner for six weeks and each week a different participant gives me the menu of their hypothetical “last meal,” which I then cook and serve to the group.  Whoever chose the meal is also in charge of leading the dinner conversation, which is videotaped and will be edited into a cohesive whole and shown alongside the installation of these bed / couch photographs.  These two projects are acting simultaneously on my life, function somewhat as foils, and serve to enlighten my investment in both works.  Hirsch made the interesting and important point (not necessarily in these words) that paradoxically this fairly arbitrary grouping of dinner guests has actually become a more stable part of my life than my current living situation, further highlighting the pieces’ interconnection.  I will be making a few key choices that should emphasis this relationship–leaving in parts of the dinner conversation that discuss where I am sleeping next, making it clear in the installation when my host was also a dinner guest, and, most importantly, holding a potluck dinner (as opposed to a party) at the end of the thirty days (Nov. 15) in the same space that I am hosting my weekly dinners.  The temporal and social overlaps are key to both works and something that I had probably not considered thoroughly enough… I hope that this way the show will be a different experience than reading the blog or watching the last meal video, imbuing both projects with an important multiplicity.


November 3, 2008

November 3, 2008

November 3, 2008

Last night was easily the farthest I have gotten out of my comfort zone so far this project and may have also been my worst night of sleep to date.  I stayed a second night at the co-op (I’m okay staying in the same building more than once, just not the same apartment) and was Josh and Jarret’s guest.  I was technically supposed to be staying with Josh, but he doesn’t have a cell phone so I kind of ended up as Jarret’s responsibility.  They’re really cool guys and we talked for a few after I dropped off my stuff on the empty bed in their room–Chris had told me to ask Josh and his friend Jessie (who was also there) about hitchhiking back to school from South Dakota and so that was the first thing we talked about.  Josh went into it a bit, talking about some of the good people he met / only having a place to say some of the time… it sounds really amazing and intense.  Intense seems like the best way to describe Josh, a self proclaimed tree climber who is a college student somehow functioning without a cell phone and who is really into bike riding.  Most of the people from last night were actually really into biking instead of car-ing, which I really respect.

This girl Blaze stopped by right after I got there and invited us all up to her balcony to smoke and I think there were probably ten or so people hanging out when we got there.  A strongly-opinionated, really talkative Ukrainian (I think) man provided me with some coffee and cognac to alternate sips of, which left me with an incredible warming sensation.  To the backdrop of some pretty crazy international music, we smoked some weed and Josh rolled me my first hand rolled cigarette–which was really nice of him, but destroyed my throat.  Everyone was quite open and sharing, which was way beautiful and I felt really welcome to just relax.  We had a pretty lengthy discussion about different types of pot, which was kind of strange for me since I’m completely disconnected from that whole culture and from there we moved on to a vegetarianism / animal rights.  It was fairly apt, given the vote on prop two tomorrow and possible slight increase in the living conditions of animals used in food production… it seems like I have been exposed to quite a few vegetarians so far this project and I think now is probably a good time to finally give up red meat.  I’ve been tentatively planning on it for awhile (as I think it’s pretty hard to ignore how terrible our current practices are for both animals and the environment) and think I am finally at the point of overcoming my laziness, spurred on by a number of really amazing people who are actually living their convictions.

I was really quiet most of the night, but had a great time just being with a group that is quite different from mine.  There were actually some people from both CSU Northridge and Santa Monica City College, along with people from UCLA, which was a first for the piece as well.  Josh decided that since I was only with them one night and everyone probably asks me about the project, that he was going to tell me stories and give me some life advice instead.  I think the most interesting was that even though I don’t smoke, I should always carry cigarettes with me because it’s the perfect thing to do while talking to homeless people: they have a lot of really important things to say and smoking is an easy way to avoid any awkwardness on both sides.  I mean, it seems like pretty solid advice and I’m sure talking to more homeless people would only benefit my life, but I don’t really have any intention to actually start buying or carrying cigarettes.

Jarret and Josh went to rent A Scanner Darkly at some point and that is when the rest of us got into a discussion of the differences between men and women.  The Ukrainian guy was being slightly sexist, although he was being way too loud and argumentative for me to actually get involved in the conversation. This girl who lived there and was from Nashville (I think her name was possibly Emily, but I met a lot of people all at once so I’m not sure) did respond though and it made for quite the lively discussion.  Around this time I was trying to agree with this other guy from Nashville that I didn’t feel like I fit into the sexual stereotypes being thrown around, but am pretty sure that I just succeeded in declaring my homosexuality to a bunch of strangers.  Not finding any way of correcting that without seeming like a homophobe, I just let it stand and still find the whole situation pretty amusing.  After that I headed back to the room, only to find myself locked out and so I waited on the balcony for Jarret and Josh to get back.  It was a stunning night out and I felt completely at peace just watching the clouds move across the sky, even as I was resigning myself to just skim my reading for the next day–some things are more important.  I bailed on the movie, as I was already only going to get six hours of sleep… but didn’t even get that due to one of those guys being the loudest snorer I have ever heard.  Seriously, ever.

It’s hard for me to encapsulate just how chill and open this whole group of people is (a group that seems to be defined via their residence and not any other glaring similarity), but I really enjoyed their company and it is an experience that I never could have gotten without this project.  It kind of makes sense that I keep staying with such generous, laidback people (as those are the kind of people who would house a stranger, plus I tend to move through fairly artistic channels) but it is something that I am very thankful for and am definitely not taking for granted.  It’s kind of a bummer that this experience isn’t something I can effectively open up beyond the participants, but of course that closedness is a part of why it is so intimate and intense.

Although I talk a lot about using art to effect real-world change, it is also something that I am very wary of
and don’t think can easily be defined: essentially all art should effect some level of change, if only within the viewer and the artist.  That being said, I do try and work in a way in which my art has a direct e(a)ffect on me / my body / my place in the world / the bodies of those around me / etc and yes my success in that endeavor varies.  Last night, after I posted yesterday’s entry, I received an incredibly long message from Heidi about the abrupt end of our friendship that we had effectively ignored for three years.  I wrote a really long response and then we talked on the phone, finally getting to the point where maybe we can be friends after dealing with things.  That whole interaction would never have happened without Mario sending me to Brian’s, serving as an example of the kind of merging of / interrelation between my art and my life that I am interested in.  I would never have guessed that Heidi and I would ever start talking again, much less actually talk about the way things were left.  The idea that art has such potential is utterly amazing.

Ah, just for the record I think I should clarify that Heidi was my first real friend at UCLA… not just someone that I went on a few dates with; my Oct. 30 description was probably a bit trite.


November 2, 2008

November 2, 2008

You would think that by now I would be less amused by the connections I see around me, but I still find it completely mind blowing.  Last night Heidi recommended I put more of how I’m feeling in these entries (which seems to be the general response from everyone) and so I will endeavor to do that… but I really am just very into relating all the crazy things that happen.  The lack of sleep and lack of relaxation are terrible, but it’s so cool that things are actually moving and evolving!  Anyways, I met up with Heidi, her roommate Alisa, and Alisa’s boyfriend Nate around 7:20 to go to the play Asses and Elephants in Santa Monica instead of that party with Brian.  The play was a love story between a Democrat and a Republican set during the 2004 election and was really good; more relevant to the project, however, is that I met Victor and his roommate Madi (not sure about the spelling here) at the play–those are the people whose apartment I slept at the night before Halloween, when I didn’t see anyone.  They seem really cool and possibly the “hippiest” people I have met at UCLA; Madi also had no idea I slept over or that I was doing a project, so I think she now finds me creepy for starting our conversation with how I have slept at her house.  Victor had the genius idea that after I am done I host a party for everyone who had me sleep over and I am really really into the idea.  I have been struggling with issues of exploitation and using people to make an art project with no intention of ever engaging with them again, which is precisely what I do not want to happen.  I think a party would really tie everything together, ensure that anyone who was interested in it being more than a one night stand (hehehe) could do so, and enable this large circle that is oddly centered around me (and has really become my audience) to meet / socialize.  It is also a way for me to give back beyond just staying open to the experience–I originally wanted to set up a project where the participants were actually doing quite a bit of work for very little in return, unlike some of my more recent projects.  Turns out I hate that mechanic, as I feel like I am not taking my responsibility as an artist seriously… I need that last conclusive moment where everything comes together and I am working with people, not just using them as a material.

Overall the whole play situation was kind of awkward, despite being really good.  I was sure Heidi had read my entry about her and was just waiting for it to come up, plus I’m a fairly shy person in general and everyone wanted to talk to me about the project–this piece is definitely forcing me to get more comfortable talking about my work, which is probably a good thing.  I keep getting asked how I came up with this.  Of course there are many different things that I am interested in / influenced by, but I think my social situation over the last few months bears the clearest relationship.  My girlfriend of two and half years and I broke up at the beginning of the summer, after which I spent three weeks by myself in London and then three weeks on a road trip to Canada with my family… essentially resulting in a sense of being alone that I hadn’t felt in a really long time.  On some level this project is a foil / compliment to those months.

After the play, we went back to Heidi’s and picked up Brian on the way to hear Matt S.’s (see Oct. 29) band perform at an apartment near mine.  Interesting side note, I later found out they were originally supposed to play at the party that I was going to go to with my roommate Aidan… so essentially I bailed on going to a party because I had plans with someone else, to go to the same party.  Weird.  We stopped by my place on the way for some alcohol, said hi to Aidan and Jac (Oct. 17) who were getting ready to hit the bars, and then made it over to Matt’s concert.  Apparently Yvette (Oct. 27) is the violinist in his band!  Ashley (Oct. 25) was also there… along with a few other people I have seen along my travels.  I think now is a good time to mention that no matter where I go in Westwood, I will inevitably see Dominick’s (Oct. 22) coworker Paige.  It doesn’t matter if I go with my group of friends, someone else’s group of friends, by myself, whatever… I will see her.  I don’t really understand how that can possibly happen, but I do wonder if I will end up at her house considering I have seen her so many times in the last three weeks.

Earlier in the night Victor had told us he could get us wristbands for the aforementioned co-op party and so Heidi, Brian, and I headed over there after picking up my sleeping bag, pillow, and camera.  When we got there I met my host Chris, who apparently lives at the co-op and I dropped off my stuff in his room… he was with his girlfriend Amy, who is an art major that I have known for a little over two years.  Six degrees of separation, fo’ sho’.  Upon entering the party, I saw Alex who I know through Amanda (Oct. 18 / Oct. 24) and who was also there to see Chris… please forgive how confusing this is, I feel like I haven’t slept in forever and I am having trouble with articulation.  Later in the night I also met Brian’s friend from Berlin that he had offered to introduce me to a few nights ago, although I don’t remember her name.

This is when Heidi finally brought up the blog entry about her and we talked about what I earlier termed an ultimatum.  I knew it was coming and it definitely needed to be talked about… she just said that she had been starting to like me and needed me to clarify if it was going anywhere, which I guess I did?  I told her that I remember thinking she was “too nice” for me, but I’m not sure she took it overly well.  It was a long time ago and not really too important to rehash, but I did have a really good time hanging out with her–although talking to someone when they have read your blog is very unnerving and just seems unfair.  The two of us danced for a long time after Brian left (thank you time change) and I was way flirtier than I ever am normally; I have yet to decide how I feel about that.

After Heidi left, I met back up with Chris and Amy.  While Chris scoured the party for his roommate Noah’s keys, Amy and I had a surprisingly candid talk about relationships that kind of caught me off guard.  She asked why I had broken up with my ex and I explained a bit and then she told me some about her relationship and the eventual issue of graduation… which I feel like I can relate to, given that it was at least part of why I started to reevaluate my own relationship.  I don’t know how valuable any of my advice was, but it was really nice to connect.  Chris and Amy are apparently quite good at getting people to talk, as we stayed up until some ungodly hour (even for me) and I was actually talking about my life / art / etc instead of just listening.  Chris also explained how the co-op works, which was really interesting and I am very glad that I got to stay there as it is one of the few apartments in Westwood that is probably better known than the treehouse.  It’s not really relevant to the project, but is a fun fact.  It felt really healthy getting to open up to Chris and Amy, as I tend to keep myself fairly guarded around people that I don’t know too well and I have been around many more of such people lately.

One thing that I did notice when Noah and his friend were over, however, is how I am increasingly unable to deal with “traditional masculinity”–namely the discussion of “sexual conquests.”  I tend to just get quiet / awkward and laugh a lot, probably the result of not really caring combined with finding it so stereotypical and demeaning.  I actually noticed it back at Mario’s as well.  It really isn’t a judgmental thing so much, just some kind of code that I feel like I can’t and don’t want to be a part of or understand.  I used to at least be able to pretend in high school and I’m wondering when that shift in me took place… I think it probably has to do with my guy friends up here being (like me) completely disconnected from said cultural phenomenon.


November 1, 2008

November 1, 2008

Apparently my lack of faith in Victor was completely unmerited.  I called him around 4:15 yesterday and left a message thanking him for letting me stay over, explaining the project a bit, and telling him that I would really appreciate it if he could find a place for me to stay that night.  I got a text a few minutes later containing a phone number, address, and one line telling me her name is Marina and she will be back at her apartment around 1:30 tonight.  It was pretty cryptic, but I called Marina (who is really nice) and we decided she would just call or text on her way home since we were both going to different Halloween things outside Westwood.  Since yesterday I noted that I dread having to deal with talking to someone about how / when we’re going to meet up, I feel like I should also note how great it is after we do figure it out.  Everyday I have this huge buildup of dread about having to deal with this project; as soon as I get off the phone with the person, however, it’s an intense rush of relief that lasts until the next day when the dread starts again.  Going over to someone’s house is really easy at this point… I don’t worry about it much and it has lost most of its awkwardness as well.

I had never met Marina before, nor her roommate or other friend (possible boyfriend?) whose names I cannot remember for the life of me.  Before / at the beginning of all of this, everyone I talked to questioned whether or not I would actually stay with strangers or if I would just move from friend to friend.  I really had no idea, but part of the choice of thirty days was to facilitate a transition beyond my friends and it has worked out surprisingly well (eight of my hosts I knew before this project, five I did not–of the eight, I would say three are people I would never see myself staying with under normal circumstances.)  I am curious if I will somehow make it back into a group that I know / if the trend towards strangers will continue / if I’m headed for a night outside to reset everything… the farther I get from the people I know, the less of an idea of the project I find that my hosts have.  Interestingly, this lack of information about what I’m doing doesn’t seem to effect how anyone treats me.

Marina lives in the building literally directly next to mine and I got there to find that they had moved the living room table and got out blankets / an air mattress to give me a place to sleep, which was much appreciated.  We talked for a few minutes about the project, but everyone was pretty tired so we went to sleep quickly.  It’s funny to see some of the similarities in things I am told every night I sleep in someone’s living room: here are the light switches, here is the bathroom, water is in the kitchen… followed by a search for the TV remote.  All of life’s necessities.

I had to leave around ten because Marina’s roommate’s parents were getting there at eleven and that just seemed like an unnecessary complication for everyone.  I got about seven hours of fitful sleep and as a result my eyes feel really swollen today.  Lovely.

Last: lately I have been thinking a lot about whether or not I am just using people.  I think that our relationship is more complex than that, but I’m not ready to delve into it quite yet.  While finishing this up, Heidi from a few nights back called: Thursday we found out that the co-op party Brian invited me to was wristband only, but Heidi just invited me to join in her other plans tonight instead… which I guess include going to a play with one of the environmental clubs in Santa Monica and possibly seeing a concert with Matt S., Chuck, and Anna.  I had talked to my roommate about possibly going to a party with him after hearing I couldn’t get into the co-op party anyways, but I’ll be doing this instead–and it definitely relates back to issues of just using someone vs. actually allowing this to become something bigger than a series of sleepovers.


October 31, 2008

October 31, 2008

Last night was the first night where I didn’t actually see my host.  I talked to Victor around nine to let him know that I was going to a friend’s Halloween thing and see if I could come over after.  He just told me he would leave the door unlocked and to come in whenever; I got a text around 12:45 saying that he was going to sleep and I should just lock the door after myself.  I had been planning on leaving right about then because I didn’t want to be too much of a burden, but ended up staying another half hour since he was going to sleep anyways.  Having to coordinate my schedule with someone else’s has definitely been the most wearying part of this project… I start dreading it in the afternoon and it doesn’t really go away until I call.  It’s a matter of finding a precarious balance between my social life, the social life of my host, and where those two are going to intersect for the night.

I left around 8:30 this morning to get some things done before work, but no one was up… making for a pretty crazy night on a total stranger’s couch.  Their living room was way intriguing though, stuff everywhere (quite a bit of it art) and three or four couches–not that I did more than just glance around from the couch I was sleeping on.  Whoever lives there seems really interesting and hopefully I will get a chance to actually meet them in the future; I can now say that I’ve stayed at the treehouse though, one of the most infamous of Westwood apartments.  I’m slightly concerned about tonight: Halloween, combined with not having talked to Victor face to face, might inhibit me getting a place for this evening.


October 30, 2008

October 30, 2008

Through Matt W. I got connected with this really generous, awesome group of people and for that I am quite thankful.  Brian housed me last night (the same Brian who got Red Mango with us two days ago) and I have to say that he was quite cryptic when I talked to him in the afternoon about coming over–he kept making references to how I knew his roommates, but refused to tell me who they were.  The day before he had made a comment about them being female and hippies, leaving me the whole evening to ponder who I might know that fit those characteristics.  When I got there I was surprised to find Heidi (an ex-art major that I used to be friends with and may have gone on a few dates with) and her friend Alisa that I had also met a few years back.  The way all these people know each other continues to amaze me.  Everyone seemed pretty excited to have me there, with Brian even pointing out how he loved how the project created numerous indirect situations as well–like his apartment getting increasingly eager as it got later in the night.

I talked to Brian for a long time about post-college plans… his happen to include moving to Europe, so we spent awhile on the political / cultural situation over there.  I don’t know much about it and Brian is a european studies major, so it was mostly him telling me about some of the differences and similarities between different countries and the US.  It was all really interesting.  At one point I mentioned being curious about the Berlin art scene and I guess Brian has a friend from Berlin who is studying here this quarter.  There is a party at the co-op Saturday night and Brian offered to introduce me to his friend if I make it over there, which sounds pretty great and has subsequently been put on my calendar.

After Heidi came out and reminded Brian how late it was, we all got ready for bed: I hadn’t had a communal teeth brushing so far this project, so that was pretty interesting–another fairly private act to share with strangers.  A lot of the apartments seem to have their own traditions (like the “check in” from the night before) and after getting ready for bed Heidi looked up my birthday in the “birthday book.”  I have to say my tarot reading was actually pretty wonderful, as it was about leaving behind material possessions in search of a higher truth that would eventually lead me to the infinite.  I don’t really put much faith in things like that, but it is a nice idea right?  Being included in these very apartment-specific events makes me feel so much more welcome and I think is a good indication of how a lot of people take this seriously and want to do more than just let me sleep on their couch.

I got to sleep on a pull-out couch in the living room and it was great!  After getting in bed, I talked to Heidi for a bit since she was still out working on a paper.  It was nice to catch up and I would definitely enjoy talking for more than a few minutes next time.  According to Brian, she thought that I just abruptly stopped talking to her towards the beginning of our first quarter here… although I remember being given an ultimatum to either hang out more or not at all, naturally choosing the latter because ultimatums are stupid.  It doesn’t really matter anymore, but I do find it quite poetic to stay at the house of the first real friend I made at UCLA as a part of my last project here.

Things are going really well, with tonight being the halfway point.  Although I do really love this project, it has been hard and I look forward to the end–although I don’t think I could have made it any shorter and still have gotten a thorough-enough experience.  I think Heidi put it nicely last night when she said that it must be exhausting to not be able to put my guard down; it definitely is.  Everyone had to get up early this morning, but Brian and Heidi told me I could sleep as late as I wanted so I slept in until ten.  A welcome eight hours of sleep… hopefully I can stay alert and actually contribute during senior studio this time.

Tonight I am staying with Victor (who was over last night talking with the fourth roommate Tracy) and Brian kept joking (?) about how I am going to be descending even farther into the hippie subculture in the next few days.  Sounds good to me.


October 29, 2008

October 29, 2008

The connections I am seeing between people and the interconnectedness of this large social circle I am apparently a part of is really crazy.  Mario called me around eight last night to see if I was coming over for dinner… I told him that I have this last meal dinner project on Tuesdays, but asked if I could come over once I was done.  He said that was fine and that if he wasn’t around his roommates would definitely be.  When I arrived no one was answering the door, so I called Mario again, who was out and then called his roommates, and then this girl let me in.  I was pretty sure I had met her a couple years ago and that she was dating an art major named Chuck, which is how I awkwardly introduced myself.  Turns out her name is Anna, we had met before, and luckily she is still dating Chuck–avoiding an even more awkward situation.  Matt (Weiden, from a few nights ago) had told me that Mario may or may not be roommates with Chuck and Matt Sobel (art majors that I have known since my first class at UCLA), but they are in fact all living together.

I spent most of the night with Chuck, Matt, and Anna.  We did some studying (which is when I wrote yesterday’s entry), some Red Mango with their friend Brian, had a couple beers, and just hung out / got to know each other better.  Again, I don’t socialize with too many art majors outside of class so it was really nice to spend some time with Matt and Chuck not in the context of the studio.  They are great hosts and apparently have been checking the blog regularly (making it even crazier that their roommate ended up hosting me and they had no idea that I was coming.)  I have to say the highlight of the evening was probably when we “checked in,” going around the table to say what our most challenging moment of the day was, what we are most thankful for, and what we learned that day.  It was a great, albeit slightly tongue-in-cheek, way to connect.

When Mario got back with his roommate Ryan and two of their friends, I talked with them for a bit and had some scotch and lasagna with Mario.  They were also really open and happy to have me there; everyone seemed genuinely interested in both this project and my dinner project, which is always a nice surprise.  Mario is graduating next quarter, so we talked about that for awhile and how neither of us really have any idea what we’re going to do–besides find some sort of way to pay the rent.  Interestingly, Mario and Chuck are starting up a company called Homstie where people can rent out unused space in their house or apartment to people who need cheap storage and the company came up quite a bit last night (I got to see the forthcoming commercial too, which is brilliant.)  I think the environmental repercussions of such a project are really interesting and will hopefully help their success in a culture that is increasingly interested in “going green.”  Rethinking the way storage is handled and promoting a both environmentally / financially responsible policy for using unused space is pretty exciting–as are any projects that allow individuals to connect instead of just forcing them to operate through a corporation.

Matt, Chuck, Anna, and I went to sleep around two or so, as Matt, Chuck, and I had studio together at eight the next morning.  At some point Mario and Ryan came in and we all ended up piling on Chuck’s bed, which I can safely say is the most physically intimate experience I have shared with anyone up to this point in the project.  I guess later last night I started laughing to myself in my sleep… what a fun reminder of how intimate sleeping with people can be, given the removal of conscious social control.

I ended up getting a ride with Matt and Chuck this morning, which worked out pretty well and I might actually start doing regularly.  They were also excited about the possibility of having me over again soon, which I would definitely love.  Only stopping by my house to grab my backpack was kind of a jolt though, as I usually have a few minutes alone in the morning to center myself before class.  It’s definitely a part of the project and I’d much rather spend the extra time with my host if they’re willing, but it still has been throwing my day off a little bit.

I have no idea where I will be tonight, but am fully confident that Mario (possibly with the help of Matt and Chuck) will have a place for me.


October 28, 2008

October 28, 2008

Sleeping at work is not fun.  I got four and a half hours of sleep on the floor of a study room, resulting in my complete lack of participation during critique for my afternoon studio.  I actually felt really bad because art-Jackie was so helpful during my critique and I said nothing constructive during hers… I’m going to make sure to talk to her about it one-on-one after I’ve had a chance to think about things a bit more.  The graveyard shift was actually pretty interesting though, despite needing two coffees to stay awake.  It was work-Jackie’s first shift and so we went through the hefty training check-list before getting to talk for a bit.  When people want to talk about themselves I usually just let them (and tend to be genuinely interested) so it would be pretty safe to say that I know way more about her than she knows about me.

Tonight I am staying at Yvette’s friend Mario’s, which also happens to be Matt S. and Chuck’s place.  I am actually writing this entry at their house, as this is the first free time I have had all day, so I’m going to wrap this up…


October 27, 2008

October 27, 2008

I don’t really have much to say about last night, despite it being my first night staying with a total stranger.  Yvette (Matt’s roommate from last year) agreed to host me, but we were both busy until late so by the time I got there she was getting ready for bed and we only talked for a minute or two.  I’m kind of bummed we didn’t get to see more of each other, as she seems like a pretty awesome person.  What struck me most by the whole situation was just that she and her roommate were totally fine giving me full access to their living room without even knowing anything about me (I guess Yvette wasn’t even sure if I was friends with Matt or not.)  I hope that I would be willing to do the same for someone in my situation, although I know I have a bad tendency to get caught up in worrying about the safety of my possessions that would likely be a hindrance.  Around three Matt called and woke me up to inform me that his phone hadn’t been working that night and to check that everything had worked out with Yvette.  It’s really interesting how some people take their responsibility for me much more seriously than others, despite me giving everyone the same instructions.

Tonight I have to work a graveyard shift (hopefully my only one for the duration of the project) and so I won’t be staying with Yvette’s choice until tomorrow night–although she has already planned it and I believe it is also someone that I don’t know, which is really exciting.  In a strange turn of events, however, I happen to be working with one of the new deskers that just got hired and I thus haven’t met yet.  Midnight to six am shifts tend to be great bonding time if you’re open to it, so I am planning on forcing myself to remain present and engaged in the spirit of the project.  It will probably take a redbull and some coffee, given that I haven’t been sleeping much lately; I’ll have the results for you tomorrow.


October 26, 2008

October 26, 2008

I slept eight hours last night!  It was so wonderful!  I ended up staying at my friend Andrew’s house, which was a strange throwback to junior high / early high school when we used to have sleepovers every weekend.  I went to coffee with Andrew and my other really good friend Jesika (who is also his girlfriend) around 10:30 last night, which is my pretty standard way of spending my nights when I’m home.  We talked politics, which was interesting given it was a topic that we tended to just avoid in high school.  I guess Andrew has been told he’s a bad Christian for voting no on eight, which is ridiculous… I was also informed my mom’s church is full of yes on eighters, so I’ll have to give her a call about that one.  Andrew and I then had his first legal shot at the gay bar next door, rounding out the conversation nicely.

Andrew and I got back to his house around one and talked for about an hour and a half… lately I have been seeing a ton of Jesika (she has been coming up to LA quite a bit since summer), but haven’t seen much of Andrew–especially just the two of us.  It was really nice to catch up, as it had been awhile.  Andrew is finally leaving “the OC” by transferring from Saddleback College to San Francisco State and I am so excited for him.  It should be a really good change, although he has some family commitments that might make it a bit of a challenge.  In the morning we had cereal together and he headed to Presbyterian Church of the Master (where I grew up going) for Sunday service, but I had to get home.

Location seems less important and less interesting as the project goes on.  The physicality of where I sleep isn’t terribly important anymore, just the shared experiences that are created as a result.  This is what I thought might happen, but am only now starting to actually not really care if I am on a couch in the living room / the floor of the bedroom / etc; it’s all just different ways of making meaning.

Hopefully Matt’s friend is still willing to have me over tonight… I need to give him a call about that.


October 25, 2008

October 25, 2008

Around ten last night I headed over to Matt’s apartment, without any expectations or idea of what was going to happen (it was a Friday night, so I rightly assumed we weren’t just going to sleep.)  I have known Matt since the pre-freshman year art open house, but I don’t really know much about him outside of his work and so I found myself very curious about what we were going to do.  It’s pretty rare that I go to someone’s house with no expectations, which is something I’m trying to do as a part of this project.  We increasingly judge people based on social applications such as Facebook, which provide us with an overwhelming amount of information before we even really spend any time with someone; this is a methodology that I am interested in avoiding by leaving myself open to new people and experiences, unmediated by my preconceptions.  I felt like I was really able to achieve this because of how little time I have previously spent with Matt, combined with his total willingness to include me in his night.  Before I go on, I think it’s a good time to mention that Sunday night will be my first time staying with a total stranger, so soon we’ll see exactly what it is like to enter into a situation with almost no previous knowledge of my hosts.

While moving around has been a total physical and emotional drain (I think I’m averaging five hours of sleep a night, while I tend to function much more fully on eight), there have been a few nights that have been completely rejuvenating via their ability to reassure me that there is actually something new to be discovered through this process.  Last night was one of those nights.  Matt, his roommate Gleb, and their friend (Gleb’s girlfriend?) Ashley were just getting ready for dinner when I arrived.  I had already eaten, but they were kind enough to provide me with a second dinner… it was really good, sausage with some sort of rice and red wine.  Dinner conversation was an examination of the difference between media art and art, with Matt essentially arguing that art tends to revel in creating multiple meanings via an inherent ambiguity.  I don’t know that anyone there really bought into the distinction UCLA maintains between the two, but it did make for a really interesting and productive conversation (one that I feel particularly invested in as I constantly struggle with how to keep my work open and honest without resorting to ambiguity.)

After dinner we went to two parties, which were full of art and design students… somehow I largely missed really socializing with either of these groups over the last three years, making it a rare treat to spend time with them outside of class.  I had some good conversation, very tasty sangria, and got to know Matt and his friends a little better; this was followed by some more wine at Matt’s and finally crashing in Gleb’s vacant bed.

Every night has created some sort of different experience and thus I don’t know that I can really rank them, but the nights that have felt the most rewarding for me are the ones where my host is someone I don’t know that well and someone who is willing to match my investment with an equal investment of their own.  I think John and Matt both present good examples of this, as I hadn’t really ever connected with either of them but they were both so willing / interested in sharing themselves and being an active part of the project.

I’ve also been reflecting on why the sleeping over is so important and I am realizing that it sets up a situation where I have to remain socially engaged past my natural point of comfort.  This is the space where things begin to move past small talk and into the much more intimate, sincere territory that I want to explore.  Going for many nights in a row is also key because I can’t just disengage myself for the night, secure in the knowledge that the next day I can go back to doing what I want / seeing who I want / enjoying the solitude and comfort of my own bed.  Unless I want to have a hellish, incredibly unproductive month I have to train myself to relish the space I share with those kind enough to house me the same way I normally relish my own privacy.

I made a commitment to come home to Mission Viejo this weekend months before planning this project.  Although I was able to cut it down from three nights to one night, I will have to break the constraints of the piece again this evening.  However, I will be sleeping at a friend’s place (I still need to find the friend) and not my own house, continuing my general “investigation”… tomorrow things will continue with Matt’s choice as usual.


October 24, 2008

October 24, 2008

As one might be able to discern from the image, I never made it over to Matt’s.  Last night some friends from home visited and I ended up drinking more than I should have / intended to because no one really liked the whiskey sours that I made… so I finished everything that was left over.  At this point I was pretty intoxicated, but still not that bad.  A few minutes before I was planning on heading over to Matt’s, however, I took one hit from a pipe at Amanda’s (I’m kind of concerned that my parents read this blog, but figure I need to be honest) and within minutes was throwing up for the next hour or so, followed by passing out on her bathroom floor.  I don’t drink enough to get drunk very often and smoke even less than that, so last night was kind of a huge unpleasant surprise (I have definitely never drank enough to throw up before.)

Despite the fact that last night was pretty much a wash in terms of the project, I am not allowing myself to go back to sleep.  I might take a very short nap later in the day, but am essentially going to live with the two and a half hours of sleep I got last night in the hopes of maintaining some sort of conceptual integrity.  This also puts me in the awkward position of apologizing to Matt for never showing up and asking him if I can sleep over tonight; if not, I will be sleeping outside.  I am quite disappointed in myself.

UPDATE:  Matt has agreed to have me over tonight, thus continuing the flow of the project.  This makes me feel a lot better about everything.  Hoorah!


October 23, 2008

October 23, 2008

I was starting to nod off in senior studio today; fortunately we stopped the video and began to discuss it before I was able to actually fall asleep.  I haven’t been this constantly tired in awhile, nor have I ever consumed this much coffee before (at least one to three times a day at this point.)  I didn’t get over to John’s until three last night, but figured I would still be able to get a good night’s rest since I don’t have class until one on Thursdays.  Well we ended up talking until 4:45 or so plus I woke up a ton of times, pretty much killing my plan.  Part of it was due to the futon just being uncomfortable, the other was that I was sharing the living room with one of John’s roommate’s friends… she was on the pull-out couch next to me.  It was kind of a fun situation to be sharing this room with a total stranger that I never did meet (anonymous sleepover!), but she got up earlier than me and woke me up a few times even though she clearly tried to get ready as quietly as possible.

Aside from feeling like a total zombie all day, last night was really really good.  So far John has been the person that I have spent the least time with prior to this project, but for some reason his house was where I have felt the most comfortable.  I’ve been reflecting on why and I think that it had something to do with the way the apartment is laid out: unlike most Westwood apartments, the living room is fairly separate from the rest of the place and even has its own doors so I felt much less like I was intruding upon everyone by sleeping there.  John and I also had a really good conversation when I first got there, which was pretty sweet.  Not only did we talk about web design, drumming, traveling, the current state of cell phones, etc. but John was really open and sharing–including playing me his audition tape for the UCLA drumline.  Amazing.  John also showed me some pretty cool websites that he frequents and I’m going to share one with you because it is so crazy: http://www.instructables.com/.  People post instructions on how to make different wonderful things… I love it.  While I have been writing this, John called to tell me I’m sleeping over at Matt Weiden’s tonight.  This is kind of blowing my mind, as that is a jump from one circle of friends to another circle of friends and I had no idea that they knew each other.

Earlier today I was thinking about component #1 from yesterday’s post and how it relates to when I questioned if this project would “live up to the hype.”  When I said that I was being slightly mocking, but I think it does seriously relate to one of the ways I see my work creating physical exchanges.  Ever since I started doing “performances” I noticed that people who might not be particularly interested or invested in the visual arts love to argue about how much one can eat from a vending machine, if twenty-four hours of video game playing will effect the way one looks, etc.  This direct physical engagement with the body is something that has become an important part of my practice and I love that people seem to positively respond to and question that physicality, even projecting it onto themselves and how they might respond to whatever situation I have created for myself.


October 22, 2008

October 22, 2008

I see this project as consisting of three main components:

  1. The physical exchanges between me and my hosts… conversations we have, time we spend together, food we share, planning the logistics of the next night, etc.  This is not something I feel I can adequately share with those who are not participating, nor am I even interested in that.  Performances are never the same unless you were there.
  2. This blog as an honest diary / reflection chronicling my experiences and opening up the space of the project beyond those immediately involved.  The option to comment is made available for anyone who wants to, but ultimately this is a place for me to present this process as I see and live it.
  3. The physical installation to be shown after the thirty nights have elapsed, presented in conjunction with another project I am currently working involving participants’ “last meals”.  I am currently thinking this will consist of a printed collection of the photographs, connected to form a timeline or social-web of those who housed me.

#1 should manifest itself naturally–it is essentially built into the project parameters, assuming I am being honest and open to what is going on.  #3 is fairly irrelevant at the moment, given I cannot really plan an installation of a performance when it is only a fifth done.  #2 is where I am most focused at the moment.  Now that the innate shock of sleeping elsewhere has worn off and I am getting used to writing a blog (the necessary egotism and openness is incredibly unnatural for me), I really need to make sure that these entries are as honest and encapsulating of my experience as possible.  This is as much a part of the work as any other and will really be the only way for me to examine and present what happens on a night-to-night basis, as opposed to just telling people something trite and dishonest after the project is completed.  “It was awkward” or “I really connected with people” do not do the experience justice.

On that note, this morning in new genres was the first time I have fallen asleep in class in probably two years.  I think that really shows the physical toll this is taking, even if Harry did show four straight hours of video.  I have been going to sleep later than I normally would when I have to get up early the next morning and getting up earlier than I normally would on days when I can sleep in–a combination of the inevitable (socially necessary) pre-sleep talking and having to get up when anyone in the house does.

Last night I slept at Dominick’s, but didn’t get over there until close to one when he got back from a concert.  Earlier in the night his roommate Brian invited me over early to play xbox, which would have been amazing… but this was before I discovered Brian had also clogged my sink while helping cook his aforementioned last meal.  So I headed over there after about two and a half hours of sink plunging and dish washing instead.  Dom and I only talked for a few minutes since we both had to get up real early this morning, but I did propose a collaborative project that we’re hopefully going to work on where he covers various people’s “breakup songs” and I make videos for them.  I was pretty excited to get to talk about it (which I think I played down); I have wanted to work with him for years now, but the right idea never really coalesced.

Falling asleep on their giant fluffy couch was fine, although I could hear Brian and the other roommate Wes talking in the other room and I would have loved to hang out if I wasn’t already only going to get five hours of sleep.  I don’t remember waking up at all and in the morning I immediately silenced my cell phone alarm, barely getting up in time to leave for class.  Tonight I am sleeping at Dom’s bandmate John’s house, which happens to be right next to where I slept outside the other day.  John and I see a lot of each other, but rarely talk (and I usually have no understanding of what he is talking about–often math and drumline) so hopefully it will be a good chance for conversation and a way to move out of my immediate circle of friends.  I do, however, have plans to go to Knott’s tonight with some coworkers and so hopefully my getting back late will work out with his schedule… I still need to find that out.

Today Julie in the New Genres department heard about the project and asked if I had talked to any actual homeless people my age.  I had not and didn’t really even think it was much of a problem, but I guess it is.  She gave me the name of a place where she teaches video (Common Grounds) and I think I’m going to at least look into it.  I don’t know how much I feel it relates to this project (I am not really engaging in or with homelessness on any meaningful level) but it is definitely an interesting connection that I should explore.


October 21, 2008

October 21, 2008

Last night I slept over at Lindsey and Sadia’s, which was a pleasure.  I arrived around 12:30 to discover Lindsey had borrowed a futon from a friend so that I wouldn’t have to sleep directly on the wood!  It was actually really comfortable.  We talked for about an hour and then went to sleep… it was definitely the best night’s sleep I’ve had since Amanda’s couch.  I had to get up at eight for work and was provided with both coffee and a travel mug!  So wonderful.  Tonight I will be staying with my good friend (and Lindsey’s boyfriend) Dominick and I must say that I am already looking forward to their incredibly padded couch.

In response to recent concerns brought up over a twenty minute nap I took yesterday: no, it does not defeat the purpose.  I have cut down my napping immensely and am not using napping as an excuse to avoid sleeping at night or anything like that, but I do have two other studios that I can’t just ignore because I am too tired to function.  Blame the UC system?  Since beginning this project I have taken two naps (both of which were under thirty minutes) and they were directly related to my work / class schedule–not where / how I slept the night before.


October 20, 2008

October 20, 2008

Ok so I’m going to do my best to try and stay coherent, given that I am incredibly tired right now. Navid didn’t end up finding anywhere for me to sleep last night and so I spent my first night outside. My friends Sonja and Stacey have a weird patio thing near their apartment and I had been planning on using it the first time I had to sleep outside, although I was hoping it would be farther into the project (I can’t sleep in the same place twice outside either, so next time will certainly be more unpleasant.) Once I stopped feeling sorry for myself, it turned out to be a pretty nice experience–it was a beautiful night out, being serenaded by the faint sounds of the 405 while gazing at the roughly fifteen stars not succumbing to the light pollution. Seriously though, it was beautiful and really not that cold… which is just about all I could ask for. The couch was comfortable, but small, leaving me to either curl into a ball or hang my feet off the side; I would switch between the two each of the numerous times that I woke up. I had to get up at 6:30 for class, meaning I didn’t get many hours of such fitful sleep, but did get to avoid any awkward confrontations with the other residents of the building.

Tonight I get to choose a new starting point and my friend Lindsey has agreed to let me sleep over, which should hopefully put me in a position to go more than three places in a row. C’mon, really? Three? I’m pretty sure we can do better than that.


October 19, 2008

October 19, 2008

I got over to Navid’s around midnight, pretty tired from the game… only to discover that everyone was studying and I had forgotten to bring my reading.  So I walked home and back again, after which Navid and I talked for awhile and did a bit of homework.  I went to sleep pretty quickly and didn’t really wake up at all–again, the open balcony situation makes for a really nice night.  I got up once one of Navid’s roommates came out at tenish.  I was originally planning on staying for breakfast, but Navid was still in his room and I couldn’t deal with the awkwardness of waking up to people I didn’t know (plus I had to get some things done before work at noon.)  I’m definitely going to do things like stay for breakfast if it’s offered, but I’m still trying to get used to this whole situation first.

Last night was the first time I have ever considered just quitting during an “endurance” piece, which is kind of disheartening after only three days.  It’s kind of terrible having to be social right up to the moment I go to sleep and starting again as soon as I wake up, plus I have to really bend my schedule to the people who are letting me sleep over.  I knew that would be the case, but it is actually pretty taxing in practice.  Of course I’m not going to quit, but it is nice that pretty much everyone knows about this project and would never let me live it down if I didn’t make it thirty days.  Since planning this, I have become aware of Tehching Hsieh’s work and I have to say that looking at all his year-long “performances” should keep me from whining too much: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tehching_Hsieh.

I hadn’t really planned this out or anything, but I am informally deciding that I’m not allowed to go back to sleep in the morning when I get back to my apartment… because I’m tempted to do it each time.  Naps are fine, but I’m not going to go back to sleep at least until I have finished my blog entry for the day.  These things take me an incredible amount of time and I am always quite awake once I am done.

Lastly, I am frequently asked why I am doing this and I want to take a second to write down a few of my thoughts on the subject.  I am interested in the isolation frequently seen in our contemporary society and how (if at all) art can examine and/or bridge that gap–hence the use of those around me in every work I have made in the last year.  Ultimately I don’t have a goal that I am trying to achieve, just living under a different set of parameters and seeing what happens as a result.  I want to use “art” to create an active space where the arbitrary systems we have created are revealed and the possibility for change becomes feasible; process is more important than any result.  The entire work is placed in the hands of those involved, as is my own comfort… it is an exercise in trust, generosity, and uncertainty.  Hopefully it will create a dialog with / between those participating (and even those who are just watching) and it will definitely change my thinking and understanding.  It is an attempt to do something.  Before you ask, yes this was partially influenced by couch surfing; like most of my practice it stems out of things I encounter in my daily life and then seek to push in new ways.  There will for sure be more on this in the upcoming weeks, but I think looking at some of my other work would help to clarify my investment for anyone interested.

I have no idea where I’m sleeping tonight!


October 18, 2008

October 18, 2008

Amanda’s couch is amazing.  I seriously haven’t been that out in a long time… and as a result I woke up incredibly confused about where I was, which was kind of fun.  I ended up going over there after I got off work at midnight and we all went to sleep pretty quickly thereafter.  Having the living room to myself was nice, especially since the balcony doors were open and it was surprisingly pleasant to fall asleep to the sounds of a Westwood Friday night.  In the morning I went straight to the football game with Amanda and some people and only stopped by my apartment to get clothes before working six to nine tonight.

I’ve discovered that I really like looking around other people’s rooms as I’m falling asleep: I’m so used to always seeing the same things every night that it makes for a really surreal experience to be in new oddly half-lit spaces.  I’m curious if the novelty will fade in a week or two.  Regardless, I have my newest apartment!  I’ll be staying with Navid tonight, the third coworker in a row kind enough to house me!


October 17, 2008

October 17, 2008

The first night away was officially a success!  I went out with some friends to celebrate three twenty-firsts and then slept at Jac’s apartment when we got back (she was out with us, which made things pretty easy.)  There happened to be an open bed for the night and I am quite appreciative of getting to use it… although I may have underestimated how ridiculously hot my sleeping bag is going to be.  That may be an issue.

It wasn’t really a big deal at all (I’ve known Jac quite awhile and I was slightly inebriated) but it is definitely going to be awkward if / when it gets around to people I don’t know very well.  First, there’s the “is it time to go to sleep yet” stage.  Next, the “let’s hope I don’t creepily talk in my sleep” (which my roommate maintains I do pretty regularly) stage.  Then the “uh… it’s morning… do I just leave?” stage.  It’s all a little stressful given sleep is such a vulnerable state that we usually don’t share with many people.

It looks like Jac and her roommate Randi decided that I’m going to be sleeping at Amanda’s tonight.  This should be fine considering we’re pretty good friends as well… although there was a discussion last night about how much Jac should fuck with me, so I guess we’ll see where I end up.


October 16, 2008

October 16, 2008

Well: last night was the last night in my bed for the next thirty days.  I don’t really have that much to say about it, given it wasn’t really anything new.  Ideally I would have slept an epic ten hours or something; unfortunately I couldn’t fall asleep and had to get up at 5:20 for work, leaving me with a solid four.  On the brighter side, my roommate found me a couch for tonight at our friends’ apartment and I’m pretty excited to actually get this project started / see where it goes!

Just for the record, this piece has already generated more interest and excitement than anything else I have done at UCLA… hopefully it’ll live up to the hype?!