I’m single for the first time in 5 years–Bali here I come? And, getting stoned with my shaman and my uncle.

I might go to Bali for a while.

My various L.A. jobs haven’t started back up yet, I have enough air miles for a free ticket anywhere in the world thanks to years of compulsive traveling, and hey, it’s Bali! I don’t know all that much about the little Indonesian island, other than it has seven volcanoes and deeply spiritual people. What I DO know is it’s on the other side of the world, and I feel the only reasonable use of all those air miles is to go as far away as possible…and it’s freaking far. From LAX to Japan it’s 11 hours, then another 8 hours to Singapore, then 3 more hours to Bali.

Know what all that time crunched into an airplane seat is? Golden writing time. There’s something about being forced to stay in my seat and the angle of the tray in my lap that makes for some of the happiest writing I’ve ever done. I wrote most of my  senior Honors thesis on a plane to Fiji. I wrote some of my favorite passages of my novel on the plane to Brazil. I sorta want the trip just for the air time. Of course, I could just do that writing here in L.A., but far-flung international travel is an excellent procrastination method.

Travel I can’t afford, I should add.

I’m a broke broken record, even to myself. I know I need to get a job more stable than the indie art project thing, the occasional spokesmodel thing, the clipping my grandma’s toenails thing. But that can wait, right? I’ve got a check coming from the CES gig, and yeah I could put it towards bills in L.A….but Bali has monkeys, and big flowers, and rice paddies. Better to be broke in Bali than fiscally responsible in Los Angeles, I always say (actually that’s the first time I’ve ever said that).

Another plus: I had an honest conversation with myself to examine if this Bali notion is me running away from something, or running to something. I am pleased to report it is neither. I’ve grown to love my life in Los Angeles, and I’ve finally gotten it through my skull that “making it” won’t equate happiness. I need to be happy now, or I’ll be all out of practice by the time success comes (BTW, what I consider “success” is up for revision—used to be “my name in lights,” now it’s “my name cleared from collections”).

One of the things that’s really blowing my hair back these days is ecstatic dance. I started going last November after a particularly bleak stretch of anxiety and self-loathing. Ecstatic dance is basically a bunch of people getting together and rocking the fuck out. It’s not a club scene—there’s no drinking or drugs or denim boners grinding against you. It’s just nice, cool people being happy and healthy together, working their emotional shit out through sacred movement.

Last week I went to an ecstatic dance in Santa Monica. There was a live DJ, live drumming, and a really rad shaman who did a sound healing after the dance, running between us with palm fronds soaked in essential oils, healing the energy in the room with percussions instruments and gongs and singing bowls. This shaman had an body like a sculpture, a thick beard, and dreadlocks woven with shells and stones.

After the dance he asked if anyone had jumper cables, his car was dead (he drove a dope black Range Rover, I might add—the shaman biz is thriving!). I happened to have put cables in my car that day, and offered to help him out. As his car was charging, he asked if I wanted to smoke some of his sacred after-shaman-ritual herb with him. The answer: YES.

So we hang out, and smoke this incredible blunt he rolls, that’s got hash in it, marijuana, holy basil, lavender, and some other stuff I can’t remember. We end up hanging out until three in the morning, trading ideas, discussing how to be warriors of love. I asked him about my Bali idea. He said, “You get self-realization when you look at nature, if you’re not in nature enough here, then you should go there.” I told him I couldn’t seem to focus in this city, that all the “stuff” I have to do makes me feel so anxious I can’t do anything. He told me if you’re not inspired, you have no will power. That I needed a big hit of inspiration. Then he told me used to be the red Power Ranger, and showed me a photo to prove it. I figure this guy must know what he’s talking about.

Bali—One point.

The next night I went to my Uncle Jimmy’s 74th birthday dinner. Jimmy is one of my favorite human beings. He’s actually not really my uncle, he was my real uncle Ricky’s partner, who died when I was a baby so I’ve grown up knowing Jimmy as my uncle. Jimmy has had the coolest life—he was in the original L.A. cast of “Hair,” he and Ricky had a super successful comedy act in the 70’s (Robin Williams opened for them), and he traveled the entire world as a cruise director in the 80s and 90s.

After the birthday dinner I joined Jimmy at his North Hollywood apartment and we did what we always do—smoke a joint and look at photos from his life. I brought up the Bali idea. He told me the answer to travel should always be yes, but to be careful of my heart, it needs safe-keeping. I told him I don’t really have the money for the trip, well, I don’t not have the money, but a more responsible decision might be to use it towards bills.

“But if you don’t go to Bali, it could be your Woodstock!”

“What do you mean?”

“Your uncle and I were supposed to go to Woodstock, but we got offered a gig at Rodney Dangerfield’s club in Brooklyn the same weekend. It paid $30, so we took it. Can you imagine?! I missed Woodstock to earn $30!!! I can’t tell you how often I’ve regretted that.”

Bali—Two points.

I also want to go to Bali because it sounds ridiculous: “Once I went to Bali for a month with no money and no idea what I was getting myself into.” It also sounds brave. It sounds like something Erin would do, or at least the Erin I want to be.


9 thoughts on “I’m single for the first time in 5 years–Bali here I come? And, getting stoned with my shaman and my uncle.

  1. Dearest Ash….This is such a lovely comment, thank you for taking the time to read my blog and give such great feedback. I’m trying to be braver about posting and comments like yours help! Glad to know perhaps my words can offer some solace to others maybe going through something similar…..I like the “If there is no struggle, there is no progress” quote….my friend Oona has this Freud quote up in her kitchen: “Someday, you’ll look back and realize the struggle was the most beauitful part.” It might seem obnoxious for me to talk about a “struggle” when I’ve got Bali on my plate….I guess it will be an escape for a while, which is sometimes the only way to build up the stamina needed to stare the struggle in the face and say: I will conquer you!

  2. I really like you and your writing. I can fully hear your voice and this financially unattractive episode of your life is soo charming. Charming in the sense that we, your audience, can all tell you will be doing great things and writing about all of them… and people will care to hear, maybe will even need to hear. I have a funny feeling, soon you will wake up in the future, balanced and financially fine and giggle at the irony that when you were “poor” you were never more care-free and footloose. And not to forget that there are so many of us that don’t really know exactly where life is taking us, so to hear you write about the same issues, is somehow comforting. “If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress”

    Also, only in LA would you meet a Shaman who used to be the red power ranger, who drives a range rover. I HEART LA. I think it’s the most creative and unique city that feeds off of the individuals/artists that make it LA. With just a tad more skill and practice, you will be able to write amazingly anywhere. 🙂

  3. Dearest Nasty Nate:
    If I loved you anymore, my heart would burst. Thank you for this insanely great comment. You are my most favorite Masonic Pilgrim.



  4. I love to see such self reflection and introspection. Very inspiring stuff. I hope you’ll include me in your web series too!

    Life should be measured in miles, not days or years. Get your miles in while you can and worry about days and years later. Take some time to actually see with your eyes and hear with your ears, but speak with your pen. Don’t do anything to find joy, just create it.

    A Pilgrimage to Ballsi sounds like an amazing adventure, but you seem to be trying to convince yourself to go. Uncertainty adds to the excitement, but if the winds aren’t right to sail yet, don’t force it. You’re the most rockinest babe around, and now that your single, the world better WATCH-THE-FUCK OUT!

    Erin’s Checklist:
    1. Kick Ass
    2. Take Names

    “When I wake-up in the morning, I piss excellence.” –Ricky Bobby

  5. Thank you for this gorgeous reply, full of wisdom and insight. I think you’re onto something about the not creating extreme peaks and valleys, I struggle with that, always sniffing out the next great adventure. Thanks for the Bali travel tips as well. I appreciate you taking the time to read my thoughts and reply in full, and glad to know I’m not the only one trying to make it alllllll work. Much love!

  6. Home is where you make it. Your situation is born of the seeds you sew in the earth as you trot along. Travel should never be “to run away from” because the inevitable truth, starting the moment you step foot on the plane heading towards your destination, is you have to come back to whatever and however you’ve left it behind. Kinda like your bed in the morning.
    Go to Bali. Eat nasi goreng, drink bin tang beer, but beware the doobies. Mark my word. People (Balinese and tourist alike) are payed to offer ganja for you to buy or smoke and then you end up in Balinese jail without a buzz. They do offer mushroom shakes and foam parties, fire dancing and all the surfers from every nook around the world that you can feast your eyes upon or sink your teeth into.. Heed the warning your shaman offered and safeguard your heart.. The chances of Javier Bardem running you off the road and then whisking you away to an island are worse than you getting attacked by a polar bear and a brown bear at the same time.. (saw that one on a commercial)..not by much, but still.
    Go to write, explore and fall in love with yourself. Know that you have to eventually come back to reality (LA LA land), but maybe to wrap up what you’ve done there, buckle down and mend some financial fences, then spread your wings somewhere with less smog and more trees, more space and less plastic…faces.
    I don’t know a lot about anything and there are people who know more than I (like your red ranger shaman) but I have struggled with and continue to work at the balance of self satisfaction (art, food, party,cosabella panties, TRAVEL) with “responsibilities” (bills,3 jobs, truck maintainence, rent, health insurance, taxes).
    I haven’t found the recipe yet. If I do I will be sure to let you and everyone know..however, I believe that one of the key ingredients is to prevent extreme peaks and valleys, and try to find a middle. Also to always consider what kind of a foot print your next move will leave and simplify your life so that you are not stuck in one place..of course unless one day you decide to let the roots grow.
    Good luck on your adventure

  7. Sounds amazing and your writing makes it even more inticing but I say hold out for Jamaica!!!! ;-p

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