Leif Pettersen's Travelogue

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DISCLAIMER: Although I am voluntarily and soberly posting the following piece for public consumption, it was not, in fact, written by me. It was written by a mysterious, but alarmingly attractive guy that I like to refer to as “Wino Boy.” Despite the fact that I have never seen or interacted with Wino Boy, he nevertheless has somehow figured out how to get past all my locks, alarms and laptop passwords in order to fire off nearly useless reams of ill-thought out, unrealistic, laughable doo doo when he has had the occasion to consume between two and three bottles of red wine. It’s like Superman and Clark Kent… We are never seen in the same room together but we are both routinely spotted behind my laptop, typing furiously with one hand and clutching a cup of coffee (or an open bottle of cheap wine in his case) with the other. I found the following piece on my laptop one morning while I was removing myself from an objectionable HI youth hostel on the outskirts (aren’t they always on the outskirts?) of Porto, Portugal. Usually when I come across these jabbering missives, I simply delete them, but I found this one, though being rooted in a hilarious fantacy, to be marginally inspiring in a happily deluded way and decided to keep it for laughs. It’s fascinating actually. As you read through, you can almost see the coherent thought process and common sense deteriorating after each lingering swig from the bottle.

I am posting the entire, unedited essay for your enjoyment and so you might have some inkling of what it’s like to have a deranged, staggering idiot breaking into your things and eating up valuable hard disk space with his late night discourses.


I Rule!

Posted on 1/30/04

“I’m just an ordinary guy with nothin’ to lose.” -Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) from the film “American Beauty”

During a recent night with my abused feet propped up and covered in Neosporin and bandages, I indulged in my 14th viewing of the movie “American Beauty.” I had not watched the movie since the wild backspin I put on my life last spring and I suddenly found myself more than just rooting for Kevin Spacey’s character, Lester Burnham, as he took his unhappiness into his own hands and proceeded to make hilarious and extreme changes to his life. These adjustments took him from being a miserable, out-of-shape loser to a jovial, fit, dope smoking bundle of good vibrations as he turned his back on the universally accepted life path and all reason to create his own, albeit short-sighted, life plan. Instead of laughing and enjoying the fantasy for the umpteenth time, I was bug-eyed while I suddenly found myself identifying with Lester in a very personal way when I compared the past four months of my life to his actions in the film.

Now I can’t rightly straight out associate myself with Lester. He was in a much deeper hole than I was before my moment of clarity. I wasn’t married (just barely), I didn’t have kids and while I wasn’t miserable, I certainly wasn’t jumping out of bed every morning with crazed euphoria at the thought of another tedious day alone in my house, in a career that was quite obviously not featuring my strengths and spending five months a year hiding out from the weather under a blanket on my couch and watching the Timberwolves trudge through another predictable season (Though I have noticed that the effing Wolves waited until I left town to make huge, exciting changes to their roster, making this season more anticipated than any other in the past six years. Those evil bastards.).

In fact, my gamble is only a fraction as questionable as Lester’s and the consequences, if everything were to collapse, are only limited to the embarrassment of living in my friend’s garage (thanks Marge) and praying for someone to hire me for a job that pays about half of what I used to make.

Ultimately, I’m just breaking the rules and rearranging the life plan of birth-school-career-retirement-death. No big whup. Who was it that said “Youth is wasted on the young?” Winston Churchill? Whatever. I have news for whoever it was. You can amend the rules. That’s right! I took back my youth beeotch! I dialed back my maturity and accountability by unloading everything that had even a semblance of stress or responsibility. House, car, career, personal hygiene… all gone! I’ve simplified my life down to two pieces of luggage, my feet and luck. I’m 33 years old chronologically, but I’ve defied What’s-His-Name and taken back my mental and spiritual youth and it has been invigorating to say the least. Take one look at me and you’ll see the changes immediately. I’ve lost weight. I’ve gained strength, stamina and endurance. I’m as tan and sun-drenched as a “Baywatch” extra. And there’s this weird, irrepressible smile that I get every time I stop and think about where I’d be if hadn’t lost my mind last spring. Tee hee!

Nothing is more simultaneously scary and satisfying than totally screwing up your life while becoming the envy of all your friends all in the same move. Once the deed is done, whether you wake up every day screaming or with a crazy grin on your face all depends on how you look at things. If you stay medicated (you don’t actually think I would have had the jewels to do all of this without that sweet Happy Pill buzz, do you?) and concentrate on the fantastic experiences you’re having, everything will be copasetic. If you focus on what it’s like to have no savings, no career, no heath insurance and no belongings beyond what you have in your two pieces of luggage, you are likely to scare the living bejesus out of your hostel roommates at least once a night when you wake up sobbing from that dream where you live in a flop house, heating your 27 cent Campbell’s soup dinner on a $4.99 Target hotplate and contemplating your aluminum can collection route for the following day.

Think about it carefully. You can do this too. You may have a spouse. You may have a dependent. You may have a subscription to “Martha Stewart’s Living.” This is all stuff you can drop if you really, really want to. I can’t tell you how to do it. It’s all situational. What I do know is, life - is - short. If you’re unhappy, stop doing whatever is that’s making you unhappy and make some changes.

Don’t stop right now! This type of thing takes some planning, but with the right preparations you can do whatever the hell you friggin’ want. You can move to the Bahamas. You can be a helicopter pilot. You can start your own porn company. Just keep thinking “This is my life and every day that I am unhappy is a wasted day.” We all have our ups and downs. If you have one or two unhappy days a month, stop reading this babbling, go outside, lie in the grass and laugh until you cry. You are a lucky son-of-a-bitch and all you have to do is keep on keepin’ on. If you are unhappy 28 days a month, it’s time to shake things up. Where is it written that you have to live in misery all because if you dared to make any changes you might mess things up for your family/co-workers/neighborhood association/pee-wee soccer team? Fuck them. Let them have their own epiphanies.

You could have a stroke tomorrow. You could loose your hard-earned life savings in an Enron-related debacle. You could have your dick, or what have you, cut off by a discontented partner and thrown into the bushes from a moving car. Another quote that has haunted me since I “evolved” is from a little film called “Fight Club.” “The things that you own, end up owning you.” Broaden that sentiment out to include all of the perceived responsibilities and living organisms that encompass your intangible prison and that’s what you have to aim for. Buck off the stuff that’s tearing you down. Don’t do it all in the same afternoon, but get it done. Make a schedule no longer than six weeks (I only use that time-frame as it was the amount of time that transpired between the moment I resolved to quit my job, sell everything I owned, make the arrangements, buy the equipment I needed to launch this odyssey and the moment that I got on a goddamn plane destined for Europe. If I can do all that shit in six weeks with my brain firing at only half capacity, so can you).

OK, I just reread the last two paragraphs and this is starting to degenerate into a really bad motivational speech. I f*cking hate those guys. Let me just leave you with this thought: Your freedom is not waiting behind your next raise or your new car or your child’s graduation or your retirement. It’s right in front of you, behind all of the shit that you've piled around it. Start moving things around and reacquaint yourself with your freedom, then when you’re ready, get naked and get intimate with it.


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