2016-10-26

Car Plunge - Ken Price, 1994

There's a short concrete tunnel—an underpass, I guess—if you're on the 105 West and take the exit for the 405 South to Long Beach. It takes maybe 15 seconds to drive through at 65mph, and is sheltered enough to make the radio turn to static.

These days, in the car, I'm often listening to the radio. I quit spotify when I wanted to trim costs on my life, and now I just watch youtube if I ever want to listen to something. The radio remains a lovely way to tune into the local culture and find some surprise.

I've been taking this exit a lot as I drive between Los Angeles and Manhattan Beach, where I'm staying by the generosity of a friend's family. (I'm slowly, slowly saving up for a security deposit to move into LA proper.) The few seconds of static are always a warm welcome, despite the blaring tunnel lights that accompany them: it's a reminder that I'm listening to the radio, that this music is flying through the air to me with careful frequency modulations, and when the audio fades back in, it's all the more appreciated.

I gave the graduation speech at my high school and started the speech, more or less, with this quote:

For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin, but there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time to still be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.

Five years later and still pertinent. I've been putting off a lot until I get an apartment—but the catch 22 is that I can't afford an apartment until I get my shit together anyway. Instead, I'm nurturing the ability to do a little laptop work from anywhere and am happy with the driver's seat of my Dad's Subaru as the most consistent home I have. Just like with the tunnel, sometimes a transition should be celebrated as a thing itself.

My life is pretty low-margin right now. I have some lists around of art I'd love to buy and restaurants I'd like to try, but none of that can be justified when my money needs to go towards groceries, gas, and some new socks. I think I'll be really happy when I can buy a surfboard, but really I'm thankful for how much simpler things feel when I rule out all unnecessary purchases.

There Is No Such Thing As Ethical Consumption Under Capitalism From this memes channel.

Margins on everything seem pretty slim, when you factor in externalities. My gasoline is subsidized by the smog I'm tossing into the valleys, burritos by underpaid line-cooks, my laptop by suicidal working conditions in Chinese factories. Gosh, I have a hard time justifying doing or using almost anything under late-stage capitalism.

The goal is to do good on this. Do work I can morally justify, that helps negotiate some of the deluge of negative externalities. To be in transition and enjoy it, holding out for nothing.



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