1077 – Love of Hills
Part personal essay, part journey, and a whole lotta ode should have your drifting off soon.
- Tappa tappa tappa
- Holy Mackerel
- East Coast Sandwich Sensibility
- What I talk about when I talk about running – Murakami
Notable Talking Points:
- Rolling Undulating Hills in California
- I am afraid to say that, secretly, I do enjoy running
- The Forlorn Loner inside of me
Episode 1077 – Love of Hills
[START OF RECORDING]
SCOOTER: Friends beyond the binary, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and my patron peeps; patron peeps, get comfortable. Scoots is here to take…to bring you bedtime cheer. Whether I’m far or near, soon it will…nothing will be clear. I’ll make…of myself, I make a rear. It’s time for Sleep With Me, patrons.
INTRO: [INTRO MUSIC] Hey, are you up all night tossing, turning, mind racing? Trouble getting to sleep? Trouble staying asleep? Well, welcome. This is Sleep With Me, the podcast that puts you to sleep. We do it with a bedtime story. Alls you need to do or alls you could do is get in bed, turn out the lights, and press play. I’m gonna do the rest. What I’m going to attempt to do is create a safe place where you could set aside whatever’s keeping you awake, whether it’s thoughts, things on your mind that you’re thinking about, anything you’re feeling that’s coming up for you emotionally related to the thoughts or related to anything else or just unrelated that are just there. It could be physical sensations, it could be changes in your routine or the temperature, season. It could be other stuff.
There’s a lot of other stuff that could be going on, but whatever it is that’s keeping you awake, I’d like to take your mind off of stuff and keep you company while you drift off. That’s really what my job is, is to take your mind off of stuff and to be your friend, your bore-friend, your bore-bae, your bore-cuz, your bore-sib, your bore-bestie, your bore-bud. Did I say bore-friend? That’s kinda the most important one. But to be your friend here in the deep, dark night. The way I propose to attempt to do it is I’m gonna try to create a safe place here by making a smoothing and patting motion, inviting you in, then I’ll send my voice across the deep, dark night, I’ll use lulling, soothing, creaky, dulcet tones, pointless meanders, and superfluous tangents.
What that means is I’m gonna go off-topic, I’m gonna get mixed up, I’m gonna sound a little bit different than something normal. There’s nothing…this is definitely…I don’t like to use the word abnormal, ‘cause it kinda is one of those words that has a little bit more feelings related to it, but this podcast is very different, you could say. So, that’s one of the things to know right up front, is…you say wait a second, I don’t get…when is this gonna start? What are you doing? I say, give it a little bit of a chance, but you don’t even have to give it a chance. If you’re feeling skeptical or doubtful, that really is the most normal and healthy way to arrive at the show, ‘cause maybe you were looking for something to fall asleep, you’ve tried a lot of other stuff, or somebody told you about this show.
So if you’re skeptical or doubtful or…I don’t know if that’s what ambivalent is, but you’re saying huh, I’m not so sure about this. That’s really…that’s totally…makes sense. Why wouldn’t you be doubtful? Then I’m gonna tell you stuff that’s gonna make you…I gotta…I got creaky, dulcet tones and pointless meanders and superfluous tangents, too. So, the only advice I can tell you is what’s worked for hundreds of thousands of listeners, which is give it a few tries and see how it goes. It takes the average listener two or three times to get used to the podcast and realize oh, this never makes any…it’s kind of…now I get that I don’t get it. Finally; oh, now I know what a bore-friend is. So, just see how it goes.
But I’m gonna try to give you all the information you might need to do that, to overcome…not even to put your skepticism aside; to just lower it down a little bit. So, let me give you that information. First off is the most important thing which is you. You deserve a good night’s sleep, and I’m here to attempt to do that. I won’t successfully attempt to do it for a lot of people, but I’m here to attempt to do that because the truth is, you really do deserve a good night’s sleep. You really do deserve some rest and a break, and if I can provide it, I would love to be the one that can help you make bedtime less of a rigmarole and more something you feel neutral about or that you look forward to. You say well, at least I got that sleep podcast that doesn’t make any sense to listen to.
It’s my bore-friend, my bore-bae, my bore-bud, and I can listen to him. He just rambles on about almost…almost about nothing on and on and on. So, yeah, I could see how it goes. I could listen to that. But the reason that is deeper than that; I really want to help you get some rest so that you can live your life and that your life maybe will feel a little bit more manageable, or maybe you could start getting more and more rest on a regular basis and you could be out there flourishing. That means your world’s better, and that means the world that I live in is better, and that is important to me and everybody else listening. It is the truth; you deserve a good night’s sleep, and also, the other side of it is I know how it feels tossing, turning, mind racing, trouble get…you know, thinking, all that stuff. Feeling, I got it all.
I got it all covered, so I know how it feels. That’s why I call it the deep, dark night. That’s one thing. The other thing that can…there’s two things. This is twofold; this is a podcast you really don’t listen to, so if you’re used to listening to podcasts or the radio or you watch stuff on YouTube, this is more something that goes on in the background that you kinda tune in and out of. I guess that’s…we do use a lot of stuff in that way, but we’re less aware of it and it’s…there’s more of a social compact; if somebody’s making something where they’re saying watch, I’m gonna give you ten reasons to start doing…tap dancing, they’re really hoping you at least get three out of five of the top ten. Reason one, because it’s darn fun, probably. Reason two, maybe cardio. I don’t know. I don’t know what the other ten…or eight are.
Another reason, probably ‘cause tap…maybe it sounds pretty good; tap, tap, tapping. Another reason, maybe some sort of tradition. I don’t know. The reason…another reason…can I think of ten reasons we should be tap dancing? I think I thought of four. Not just cardio; five would be good for tone, too. Six; might make other people happy. Seven; creative endeavor that you’re put…you put your heart…eight; you do it…you can do it when it’s raining outside and while you’re singing. You can also sing and dance. Nine; keeps tradition…did I already say this one? Let’s keep this tradition going. Somebody’s gotta make tap shoes and tap-tappers. Or there’s also a used market for them. Support your independent tap shoe and tap providers, please. Number ten; resiliency. You’re learning something new.
Growth mindset; always good for you. Good for the body, mind, and spirit. That would have been…I should have just separated…oh, this is a sleep podcast? Sorry about that. But if I was doing that and I had a YouTube channel, the Tap Tap Tap…I guess that would be hard. You’d say, what’s your favorite YouTube channel? Tap Tap Tappin’ channel…cast channel. They talk about a lot of different stuff, occasionally about tap dancing. It’s not really about tap dancing and things interesting to tap dancers, like Tap Dance Notes or Tap Notes. But it’s actually just a tangent a podcaster went on in his mind when he was trying to introduce his sleep podcast. So, this is a podcast you don’t really listen to. Just like you just heard, that was a pointless meander tangent. You say oh, okay.
It’s also not a podcast that puts you to sleep. I’m here to keep you company while you fall asleep. So, whether you’re listening or not, I’m here for you. If you need to break during the day or you can’t sleep, I’ll be here to the very end. So, those are two things. The other thing that could throw people off is the structure of the show. It’s very intentional and it serves a lot of purposes, but you could eventually kinda repurpose the show in your own way as you become a regular listener, just because podcasts are sent out in a linear manner, so the show is designed in a linear way, but again, you could repurpose it or be a patron and kinda listen to it non-linearly. Learned a new word this week; linear. Means something like a straight line or something like that, or in a line. I didn’t learn what it meant, actually.
I just pretended I learned what it meant. I learned how to use the word; I didn’t necessarily know the exact meaning of it. On the Tap Cast, Linear Tapping, Episode 1. So, okay, where were we? Oh, so the structure of the show. Show starts off with a greeting. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends beyond the binary, or friends beyond the binary, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Then I say something silly so hopefully you feel seen and you get the tone of the show; a little bit kind and a little bit silly. Then there’s support for the show. There’s support for listeners and there’s support so the podcast can be free and come out twice a week.
Then there’s the intro, and the intro kinda goes on and on and on, but it serves a purpose too, which is to give you a middle place between when you were awake during the day and when you’re asleep, to give you a place to kinda meander and migrate yourself and transition from your waking life to your sleeping life, or wind down. That’s the way the majority of people use the show. It doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to use it another way. There’s people that use the show in so many different ways. But for most people, they start playing the show while they’re getting ready for bed, while they’re doing some sort of relaxing wind-down activity, or they’re just kinda winding down and sitting in bed or whatever.
But there is a small percentage of people that fall asleep during the intro, people that skip the intro, or people that listen to story-only episodes. So, kinda see how it goes at first, but for me, that’s really what works. I need an hour to wind down. So, I do different things to wind down so I can get a good night’s sleep. The intro kinda serves as a part of that for a lot of people. Then after the intro is more business. That’s again how the show can be free and twice a week and have over 300 episodes you could choose from or listen to in a row or whatever. Then there will be the story. Tonight’s story…I think it’s gonna be a personal essay, but I’m not 100% positive ‘cause I’m gonna record it later. Then there’s thank-yous at the end, so that’s the structure of the show, that’s why I make the show.
I’m really glad you’re here and hopefully I don’t…hopefully I tap off into dreamland like a tapper, tapper, tapper. The Tap Cast; podcast…things…oh, I already did that. That’s from Scriptnotes, but it’s called…it was called Tap…Tap, Tap, Tap Cast is better, even though it’s not better to say or to hear or to write down. If I was gonna make a pod…anyway, I gotta get outta here because I gotta put you to sleep. I’m so glad you’re here. I really appreciate your time. Thanks again for coming by, and here’s a couple ways I’m able to do it for you for free twice a week.
Alright everybody, it’s Scoots here and it’s been a while since I’ve done a personal essay-style episode or one of those. I try not to…I really try not to force things, but I’ve been…I’ll give you a little background, a little sleepy background here and see where this goes, because I guess I’ve had some confluence of things. Who knows when you’re listening to this but when I’m recording it, it kinda plays into that, and I guess it’d be cool that I’ll be editing this and you’ll be listening to it in the future, which is another great opportunity to see how these growth opportunities go. So, let me see; where are we at? So, I’ve had…it’s the fall of 2021. I’m not…I’m laughing ‘cause I…I don’t know what year it is and I know you probably don’t, either. Then even when I think it is, then I say probably not. It can’t be.
But so, to kinda practice more and more self-care and try different things out, I’ve tried to get back into journaling or morning pages or evening pages or inventory, whatever you want to call it. I’m trying to book in to my wind-down routine and my wake up routine with some more…just trying to get a little bit more involved in my life with…in a way that just gives me some cornerstones, and to try out. Also, to be honest, because it’s…if you do have kids in your life, it…it’s…say hey, this is what I’m doing, or we could do it together, side-by-side, parallel journaling. We’ll each keep our private business to our private business, but we could just do it at the same time as part of our wind-down routine, because it’s…the fall of 2021, the autumn of 2021 I don’t think is a easy time for anybody, but particularly school children.
But that doesn’t mean…and I know it’s…this can be something…I say oh boy, I’m having strong feelings about this. I say yeah, this is a opportunity though, too. I don’t always view things that way, but I do have to say that then things…I started to realize some strange layers of stuff as I started journaling, in a good way. What I’m thinking we’ll talk about, and maybe this will end up being a two-session show. I don’t know, because I say I don’t know where this is…I really don’t know where this is gonna go or if I have sixty-five, seventy minutes of stuff. So, I’m trying to think where to start, but I guess where it starts is…well, yeah, with the backstory of where I’m at now and why I’m thinking about this. What it really comes down to is the hills of the East Bay and the South Bay in Northern California.
If you live in Southern California or Central California, you probably have some of these hills. They may be a little bit different. The grass that is not green can still always be greener, ‘cause I do feel like I like the hills and mountains around Los Angeles a little bit better. Just, they’re a little bit more wild, but you do have to drive a little bit past Pasadena or whatever, or out in that direction, I think. I can’t even remember anymore…to get to those kinda hills. But these rolling, undulating hills in California…and they’re a bit different because when it’s raining in the winter, they turn green, which I guess is counterintuitive for the rest of the…rest of everywhere else. Even for me, they have this rhythm.
Then they turn brown, and they’re brown for most of the…whenever the rain stops, a little bit after that and through the summer and into the autumn, which is kind of what our summer is here anyway. Then again, the cycle repeats itself in different ways, and it’s not something I really know a lot about, other than when you drive east from Oakland or San Francisco, you’ll start to see them. The further east you go, until you get to the valley, you’ll see more and more of them unless you go north or real far east into the mountains. These are the hills. I don’t know if they’re…they’re considered…I don’t know if they’re considered mountains. I don’t really know. So, what was my point here? I don’t know what my point…do I have a point?
Oh, so, these hills, when you live here, they are something that you…or at least I kinda take for granted, and I’ve lived, whatever, in California for a while. But then you see them turn green and you say oh, that’s cool. Then they turn brown again. So, the reason they have importance is twofold. Right now, I have fallen deeply in love with these hills again because of just some changes. But moreso, the confluences that these were the…this was literally the first thing I saw when I got to California when I knew I was in California. So, I’m trying to think what to explain first. I guess I’ll explain the love…current love first and then we’ll go back, because then it’ll be like looking at the onion and then maybe peeling the onion to say well, there’s probably something more here. I also…well, no; we’ll go to the other layers.
But so, I’ve fallen in love with these hills, and this is kind of a current personal essay-type thing. I prefer the past ones because the boundaries are a little bit different than talking about my current circumstances. But so, my current circumstances are that my routine’s changed, just like a lot of people changed. They changed going into the 2020, 2019, 2021, and then they changed coming out of them. So, it’s kinda been this three-phase thing. Well, I kinda had my routine, and then I started to try to formulate a routine with my daughter learning from home, and now we’re formulating a new routine with my daughter going to school. She goes to school somewhere where we commute to school.
While she’s at school, I work from a co-working space on the days I drive her to school, just ‘cause it’s a reverse-commute situation taking her to school, but if we were…if I was to try to go back home and work from home, not only would I have a double commute, but then the commute would be…it would just…just with traffic, it’s just not achievable. Only driving one way; I drive her to school, and then I go to the co-working place and I work, and then I go pick her up from school and we go home. But that’s kinda also changed around some of the production of the podcast, ‘cause I can’t record episodes at least as a…when I’m recording this at the co-working space, ‘cause it’s just an office setting and it’s not quiet and there’s not a podcast studio there.
I don’t know if I’d be…I don’t know if that would necessarily work. So, we’ll see, but things are working fine on the production thing. It’s just changes, right? I guess it’s good to…maybe it is good for me to talk about this even though it’s outside of my comfort zone, ‘cause I say sometimes when I talk about my life and current circumstances, I feel like the boundaries become blurry or impact people in a way because I fall out of line of how they imagine things or whatever around the podcast. Then sometimes I have to renegotiate those boundaries with the list…certain listeners. Or people take exception to it or whatever. So, I’m just putting that out there because I say well, I’m still trying to be vulnerable, not in a way to say hey, it’s okay; if you’re having trouble with me talking about this stuff, you could listen to another episode, but more with this world stuff of trying to navigate it.
I’m not gonna get too deep into the difficulty or whatever but it’s like okay, I don’t always view this stuff or wholly view it as opportunities for growth or exploration, but I also want you to know that some tiny part of me, probably because of the podcast, I make positive interactions with all the listeners and the examples you said, that it’s like I’ve grown a little bit. Where I say okay, these changes are good. So, that set up one change, right, and we’ve gotta kinda into a rhythm. Then I said okay, well, probably after we get back from school is when I would record some intros or some pickups where normally I would record those if I was working from home for a full day, during the day.
Then when I’m at the co-working space, I do have…I haven’t gotten a routine down for the week, but…where I’m able to focus a lot more on production, writing, and all of the…a lot of the logistical stuff that you just gotta sit and focus at a desk anyway to get done for the podcast. So, I foresee once I get adjusted to this, one day it being more like okay, these are my focus office days and these are more my production days, but we’ll see. I don’t know. We’ll see how things…I mean, that would be interesting if I fall back into a routine where I’m recording twice a day in two separate sessions, but I don’t necessarily see that happening yet. Also, a lot of…this is about self-care, right? I’ve talked about running before, and if you ever want a memoir about running…I know The Oatmeal has a lot of them.
But also, what I talk about when I talk about running, which I’m probably misquoting by Murakami, is the great memoir about writing and running. So, okay…so, but so, I loathe running. I guess I didn’t think this would be a running podcast about running, but this will go into a whole ‘nother thing of California. So, but running is something…or jogging, you’d say, that since I discovered podcasts, before I even started making Sleep With Me, particularly Scriptnotes and some deep dive theme park podcasts, those got me back into running because I was able to…and I’ve talked about this or I talk about it in interviews a lot, too.
There’s something about that very similar and that probably led to Sleep With Me that…normally if I was running, even if I’m…normally when I’m running, I…the one thing I don’t want to think about is the fact that I’m running, because for me…and I know there’s a lot of mindful runners and mindfulness and running’s a thing. I am paying attention, but I don’t want to think…if I start thinking about running and not being mindful of it, then I think I loathe this. How much longer do I have to do this? I can’t really enjoy it because my thoughts are getting in the way, which is my own thing. But because I discovered podcasts, I’m able to…so, I still…so, I’ll still have my thinking track going on in my brain unrelated to running that could…whatever, my chattering brain that could be chattering about anything.
But then I also have a podcast going. Let’s say it is Scriptnotes or Len Testa on a podcast and I’m listening to that. I’m able to kind of listen to that and then maybe my thoughts intrude on the podcast and I pause and I get distracted or I drift away and then I go back to the podcast where I re…I say, what were John and Craig talking about? I better back it up, ‘cause…but so, that enabled me to not think about that third thing, the fact that I’m running and whatever, I’m exerting myself, or just not getting my overthinking brain involved in that process. Just distracting enough. That’s worked. There’s been times I’ve taken breaks from running or every once in a while I’ll get a little…pull something and I take a break. Secretly, I’m afraid to say this, but I do enjoy running even though there’s a part of me that loathes it.
I really do like it, and I like being outside and I like being…not that I’m running…I’m not a fast runner, but being…having to be able to get to a certain distance at a certain pace that’s not that fast, but being able to sustain…being able to jog for an hour enables you to kinda see stuff that walking, you wouldn’t get…be able to see or enjoy stuff. So, that was a tangent about running. But it’s an important tangent because I said to myself with my daughter staying, I said okay, I’m trying to balance work and this is a part of my self-care and almost a hobby, is running or jogging. She’s going to school east of where we live, so there was one time I was trying…before I had the co-working space, I was working at libraries. So, there was two public libraries I had to choose from.
So, there was one time I drove to one of the public libraries and we…I drove through the hills that I was talking about, and I saw a couple parks and I realized wow, there’s a lot of trails on these hills. I’d like to start running. Then another day, I think I just got…was I just lost or did I go looking…? No, did I go running? Oh no, so, I said to myself well, why don’t you go for your run and time it so you finish your run at school pickup, and you can leave your car at school pickup or…in the parking lot or whatever? Then it’s not necessarily the end of your workday, but you’re not distracted by when are you gonna run. Like, let’s try that out. So, I tested that out weeks ago and I said well, let me see how far from her school…if I can just run and find one of these random entrances to these hills, a lot of which are run by the East Bay Parks District, which is amazing.
I don’t really know the history of it, but if you go to the East Bay of California, the hills between Oakland and San Leandro and Hayward…and then the…that’s the developed area, and then the next developed area, which would be kinda the…is that the 680 Corridor, I’d call it, you have San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton, Walnut Creek, Concord. The hills between those are mostly parks, which is really a miracle now and such a resource, and a visionary resource in the sense of like, not only was it preservation, but it’s also…offers recreation and it offers value that nowadays might get lost in the bottom line or might become over-valued instead of saying wow, this actually serves a value that probably increases the home values and ideally will build a lot more housing in California in the areas that are already developed, you know.
We don’t need to use these hills. I don’t think that’ll change; I think they’re protected ‘cause it’s a resource…even if you live in an apartment building, then you can enjoy the hills or whatever, like me. I don’t have a house in the hills where I could just run out. It would be pretty sweet. But so, let’s see, where was I? So, everybody gets to enjoy these parks. So, I ran one day and I just kept running, and I was going down side streets, and then I found a entrance to this open space, they called it. Interestingly enough, it had a bike trail, a bike and running trail, a horse trail, and then hiking and run…trail-running trails. Now, I was at the end of my run that day, so I just found the entrance and then I ran back to my car. Then since then, I said okay, well, I could park at the entrance to that and then run in the hills.
I don’t know; right now it’s still something new, so you all know what it’s like at the beginning of a relationship when there’s unexplored territory, but I am so in love with the running…trail running in these hills, or trail…or hiking, because sometimes it’s too steep for me to run or jog, even. I’m just really enjoying it, and it’s also inland, so it’s hotter air, which I love running…not in humidity, but I can…dry heat, I actually do enjoy running in. Not extreme dry heat, but 80s, 90s, I don’t mind because it’s…if there’s not a high humidity…I don’t know. But I said there’s something else here. As soon as I hit these hills and I started running or jogging in them…and you’re talking about these same things, so very dry right now dirt, hard-packed dirt with brown grass or…no, well, a straw-colored grass.
They’d say brown, but I’d say like a straw-colored grass. There’s some trees and stuff, but it’s fairly barren, but to me it is so beautiful. I think it is from growing up in such a different ecological environment, so we could talk about that a little bit more in a minute. But thus far, and I’ve only probably run in the hills like six times, so it is this new thing for me and I’m still getting to know how far I can run and still be back in time for school pickup, which one time I cut it close; I was two minutes late. When your kid’s at a new school, two minutes late…like I said, sorry, I got caught…mistimed things. So, I don’t know, and there’s not too many details about the running in the hills other than…I’d…one day I go right, one day I go left, one day I take this path, one day I take that one.
Let’s see where this goes, and then keep an eye on my timeout and then trying to say okay, can I get back in the same amount of time I went out on? But again, and I don’t know if you ever experienced this, but where you’re touching something in a sense and you’re saying why does this feel so electric? Why does this touch feel so electric to me? I guess for somebody like me that’s a overthinker, part of me would say you shouldn’t be enjoying this so much or oh, you’re delusional or whatever. There is a part of me, a strong internal critic or cynic, but I still said what is this with these hills? It really isn’t that big a deal. I mean, it is though. I don’t know. It’s not a traditional beauty like a lot of people would say. These hills…they’re just barren, straw, grassy hills with some old, gnarled trees.
I’d say yeah, like a walnut tree I think I ran across the other day. They’re bleak; it’s just dirt, hard-packed dirt, and it’s just…the sun’s on it and…gnarled. I say oh boy, yes, you are right. Isn’t that…doesn’t that make your heart palpitate so much? But I still said what is it about these hills? Even talking to my journal about it, I said huh, well, I’ve been running with these hills and it’s…I don’t know. It’s really got me going. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I mean, not to be…I’m thirsting these hills. Then as I was writing it out, I remembered that there is a…oh, what is the electric layer, was when I moved to California, and I had never been to California before. That was the first thing I saw that I knew I was in California. I was actually incorrect in some sense. So, I was on the plane.
I was taking a flight; I don’t know where my layover was, but I flew into the San Jose Airport, San Jose, California Airport, which over the past few years, it had kinda grown in traffic, but it’s a small…at the time, it was a smaller airport but still jet…still jets could land. I was flying from Syracuse to California, but I probably had one or two layovers. Maybe just one; maybe there’s flights from JFK or LaGuardia. But who knows? Alls I know is I love looking out the window of a plane, but at some point I started to see these hills, and for someone from Syracuse, I thought they were sand dunes. I said holy mackerel, is…I really felt like I was experiencing…it just…my mind was blown, seeing these sand…or what I thought were these sand dunes, and just being like holy mackerel, I cannot believe what I’m seeing.
I can’t believe these rolling hills. It was…from someone that just grows up in a much different environment, which now I go back there and I kinda have…it really is powerful. I’m able to have that exact appreciation, like flying into a East Coast city in the summer and seeing the trees retaining the humidity or flying in in a starker time and seeing everything you can see ‘cause there’s no leaves on the trees. I really haven’t gotten a lot of autumn travel back east in, but…or flying someplace…another different environment, like maybe Florida. But flying to the East Coast, the northeast, and…or flying into a city like New York or Philly and then seeing the combination of the green and the heat on the cities; oh, boy.
Then being on the ground and going for hikes or walks in those type of things, which is a mix of kind of…what do you call them? Evergreen and deciduous trees and feeling that humidity; a whole ‘nother romance. But so, I remember my plane landed and I can’t…it’s interesting, you have these powerful moments that are a little bit misty, right, where a new…you’re taking a new part of your life. Maybe also this is coming up because my daughter’s experiencing it in a different way. She’s a freshman in high school, right? But so, I’m on this plane and I can just remember looking out the window and seeing these hills and thinking that this must have been where they shot movies that took place in deserts, which I can’t even think of one. I think there was some action-type, drama-type movie, but I don’t even know.
I said, is this…these are like the sand dunes you see in movies that people get to ski down. No, they were not. Then just know…it was hot because this was August, and San Jose gets pretty hot. It can get pretty hot. I got off the plane, it was hot, and I did not know anything…I knew very little about California other than San Francisco and Los Angeles and a little bit more. That was the limits of my knowledge. Like I said, I had never been there before, so I was thinking that San Jose…I was like, this must be one of these desert regions of California, which was incorrect, and I guess part of my brain didn’t quite put together that San Francisco was just thirty miles away or something. So, I got off the plane. Like I said, it was hot.
Now, this is where my memory gets a little bit foggy, and it’s weird that the…mostly, other than these feelings of mesmerizing, I can’t really tap into the other feelings ‘cause I’m sure I was feeling some other strong feelings because I was going there, and I’ll talk a little bit more about it. But whatever; let me get this hills stuff out while we…we’re here. So, I get off the plane and I presume it’s daytime, so my best guess is that I left early in the morning on the East Coast, which would make sense ‘cause even now when I visit Syracuse, there’s not a lot of flight options. This past time, luckily there was a 12:00 or an 11:00 midday flight, but usually…and the…normally there’s only very early…you’re talking 6:00 in the morning flights to connect to a flight to the West Coast, or late afternoon flights that then don’t get in ‘til really late, like 1:00 in the morning.
But somehow this year, with…because also I had to change my tickets a bunch of times, but I was able to get some flight that left at a reasonable time. I think it was around 10:30 or 11:00, and then, whatever, went to one of the hubs, Detroit or Atlanta, normally. Then I was able to get home at a reasonable time, like 7:00 or 8:00 at night. I think it was, yeah, like 6:00 or 7:00. Okay, so here’s…so, I land in San Jose, I get off the plane. I think…and probably somebody had coached me through this, but I’m pretty sure…this was back in the…so, I had a hotel booked near the airport. I’m pretty sure this almost never happened to me ever again, but I’m pretty sure what happened was…this was back when all the hotels had free shuttles.
Any airport hotel also had a free shuttle that would pick you up at the airport, ‘cause it wasn’t close enough to the airport to walk. I’m actually not…now I’m like, 99% positive, ‘cause I can kinda remember walking up, and I think a lot of times, they had a dedicated phone booth for it where you’d just press one button and it calls the hotel. You say hey, I’m here in the San Jose Airport; I need you to pick me up. This, I think…I’m pretty sure it was a Holiday Inn, but just…at least in my mind, that’s what it was, like a Holiday Inn-type motel. I don’t think…well, maybe it was a…oh boy, we’re getting more information coming here. I think so. So, I get the hotel shuttle, and I’m pretty sure it was daytime ‘cause I don’t think I stayed more than one night. I think I only stayed one night at this place.
So, I went to the hotel and we’ll just pretend it’s a Holiday Inn, and I checked in. Again, I said holy cow, let me get out, and I went to my room and I knew I had to be somewhere the next morning, I think. But so, I got settled. I don’t really remember…I literally remember nothing about the room at all, but I know it had a outdoor pool and I went swimming, because I love swimming and it was so hot. So, I don’t know if I swam right away or I went swimming…and so, this hotel was also the recommended hotel, I think, for the people that were doing this, which was a year-long volunteer program. So, I think part of me was…the social, nervous part of me and loner…I have my loner part of me ‘cause I like to be alone sometimes, but there’s also the forlorn loner or the outsider-type part of me.
So, I don’t know if there was other people my age at the pool or if I was wondering…or whatever. But so, I know I went swimming. I’m not sure if I went swimming first or last. The only other thing I knew I did, which is so me for nowadays, but I guess I’d gone to college in New York too, so it made sense, is I went for a walk. If this…so, this was not in downtown San Jose, so this was somewhere out…actually, the San Jose Airport, though, is somewhat near downtown San Jose. I don’t think I…maybe I asked at the front desk, like where is there someplace I could go eat? Or maybe I didn’t; I just started walking, but I walked and I got to a boulevard that you would expect by…not far from a airport where hotels and motels are. Maybe it was the same boulevard the hotel was on.
It just had offices and fast food places, and this was either a Saturday or a Sunday. So, then I went to a Togo's and the reason I’m laughing is that my relation…it just…I didn’t know that it was a chain and again, I had moved from a place that…this was pre-sub…Togo's, I think, was pre-Subway, or maybe Subway was around at this point. But if you were gonna eat at a chain deli in New York City, you would usually eat at a Blimpie's, and if you were eating at a chain deli in Syracuse, you would usually eat at Jreck Subs. Otherwise you could go to the Brooklyn Pickle, or in New York City you could take your pick of independent delis. All of those places, even Blimpie's or Jreck Subs, they make similar sub sandwiches. I know some people have hoagies and grinders and Adam Sandler has a song about it, but those are made a certain way.
So, I had a kinda East Coast sandwich sensibility, and I still do. I had a sub at a independent sub shop this summer and it was a East Coast sub. I don’t know how else to describe it. Subway attempted to copy that, but not successfully, no offense. But they did a good enough job. Togo's is not like that; it’s…and I don’t quite know how to put my finger on the difference, but that…so, I remember ordering the sub and eating it and kinda being satiated and probably drinking some lemonade or a soda. I just remember that…and the reason I was laughing again also is because…so, for a long time, I worked somewhere in a building that was on the second floor or even out…and this building, it was a reconverted factory to offices and stuff, and then on the ground floor was a Home Depot.
I think there was a Walmart that had a Mickey D’s in there. There was a cell phone store and maybe one or two other things, and then a…I think Togo's was literally the only place…so, if I forgot to bring my lunch to work and I didn’t want to drive somewhere, which I didn’t want to do ever to go get my lunch, my option was Togo's or I think Mickey D’s, which you just can’t…I mean, come on, occasionally…like, inside a Walmart. So, I grew to have a contentious relationship with Togo's, ‘cause it just was one of those places where it was like, did its job but nothing ever…I never had like oh boy, I gotta go to Togo's and get that Wild Ones Sandwich Pack. It was more like well, at least I could fill up on the Sun Chips and then whatever, I’ll have the turkey or the tuna or whatever they got going.
So, I didn’t…I guess I’m not…that’s just my personal tastes, either. I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. If you love Togo's or if you work there, that’s cool. Probably people love it, and it was the first place I ever ate in…here’s…here you…there you go, first place I ever ate in California; Togo's. While I was at Togo's though, is that’s when I got a little bit closer view of these hills and I was…I mean, this part was a little bit like a boring Sleep With Me movie where I was like that kid walking down…this is why I say a boring Sleep With Me, ‘cause I’m walking through a office park-style area from a Holiday Inn looking at these hills, realizing there’s grass on the hills. But still, the undulation of these hills, it just struck me.
It was just…it was romantic in a way, like I was talking about earlier, that I’m feeling about it now that’s not traditionally romantic. Sure, California…I got to move to LA, and that…now, the hills around LA or the Los Angeles National Forest or the Angeles National Forest, there’s some romance. Then you go further into the mountains of the Sierras and stuff. Holy mackerel. These hills are not that flashy. Even if you go into some of the East Bay…the Redwood areas, these hills are more undulating hills with straw-like grass. But there was just something about it, and maybe it’s just seared to that new memory. Then I walked back to the Holiday Inn and I’m pretty sure I didn’t do anything. I don’t know, maybe I did something, but at some point I met two other gentlemen or boy…men, boys, I don’t know, guys that were doing this volunteer program that knew each other.
I don’t know if I met them at that night or during the day, and one of them was a little bit more outgoing and he said hey, are you in this JVC program? I said yeah, and then he said oh, come back to our room. I’m pretty sure I came back to their room the morning we were supposed to take the airport shuttle back to the airport, and that’s where our journey started. But let me back up again. I kinda talked about this a long time ago in another podcast. So, but again, hopefully this…maybe this is some new territory and if you’re listening, maybe you’re sound asleep looking so good and that’s great, but if you are here along with me and here for me to keep you company, maybe you could help make some of this normal, because this is what old Scoots went…goes through all the time.
But so, this goes back to college, and I graduated college or I was graduating and I did not know what I needed to…what I was gonna do. I knew what I wanted to do with my life, which was to make movies, but that didn’t seem possible. At the time, I was probably…some of my underlying issues; I got sober much later after this, but I probably…that was impacting my decision-making, my relationship with alcohol and my relationship with fear, which those two are inexorably linked. So, I thought…and this was…well, it’s not mistaken ‘cause my life took the journey it took, but I think if I was more…in a more stable or confident or comfortable place, I probably would have stayed in New York which is what most of my friends did. Oh, ‘cause I went to college in the Bronx, Fordham in New York City.
Some of my friends got job offers when they were in college or they were recruiting or they were like, I don’t know what I’m gonna do, and they kinda started to figure out who’s gonna live with who or whom. I was…I had the old…the hot foot, right? They call it…I think I thought I was gonna get some geographic cure. I said okay, well…but I also was just lost. I said, I don’t know what I want to do. I know I don’t want to get…I know I don’t have good boundaries and if I just get some job working in a office, I’ll get stuck. At least I had that foresight, because you could easily get a job…there’s just a lot of companies; I think they were all companies that were hiring people based on selling something or whatever, so it wouldn’t have worked out anyway.
But so, but I said no, no, no, I can’t just get a job, and I didn’t have any money, so it’s like, I kinda gotta figure out a job to stay in New York, and I just had a sense of hotfoot. I said oh no, no, no, I gotta get outta here. I don’t know what I’m gonna do. I guess when you talk about synchronicity with these hills, there’s also other forms of synchronicity ‘cause I’ll never forget it. I don’t know if this was…what part of my senior year this was, but they had this volunteer career fair or volunteer opportunity fair or something. I think one or two people that I knew said hey, I’m gonna go check this out. Maybe I went…maybe I liked somebody and they were going or what, but I went to this and I found two different organizations. Well, three, but two that I was very strongly interested in, and I didn’t even realize this was a option.
It was like oh, you could do a year of service after you graduate, and that’s what you’ll do for a year. There was one and it had just kind of…it was having trouble with funding because of politics-type stuff, but it’s still around now, which is AmeriCorps. They had these two different kinds of AmeriCorps…they had this one AmeriCorps that was responding to stuff and I thought wow, when major events happen…I don’t know if this program’s still in place, but AmeriCorps is a direct service thing. Like, you go…Teach For America was another one that was there, but I don’t…I didn’t think I wanted to be a teacher. I remember, actually maybe one of the guys I went for, he did Teach For America. I think that’s what it’s called, and you just volunteer and you teach for a year, and I think now he’s a principal somewhere.
But so, I said okay, well, I don’t want to do Teach For America ‘cause I don’t see…which is ironic. I don’t see myself being a teacher. But so, I saw this AmeriCorps thing. I said okay; they said yeah, we kinda have these two things going right now. Maybe they were called different things at the time, but we had regular AmeriCorps, which you go do something and whatever, similar to Teach For America; you go work on…in direct service with people in need. I said okay, that sounds cool. Then they said we have this other one, but it doesn’t have funding right now. Funding got cut, we’re trying to get it back, restored. It’s more physical. Probably now they have something like the Civilian Conservation Corps. It was similar to that where it wasn’t necessarily all fixing trails and anything.
It was like oh, if some strong weather goes somewhere, these volunteers would go there and help. I said that would be cool. So they said okay, well, here’s how you apply to all of it. So, I saw that one, then I saw another one…what did I see? There was three…there might have been one other organization I can’t think of. But so, there was this other organization there called JVC, which stands for Jesuit Volunteer Corps. The JVC was based in a Jesuit tradition and it was a little bit more mission-based where AmeriCorps was non-secular. JVC was…or JVC’s not necessarily Catholic even though it has a Jesuit backing. It was rooted in this fourfold mission which was spirituality, which you could define how you wanted, social justice, simplicity, and community. It had this…fourfold values.
I said okay, and yeah, again, you go work in direct service. A lot of the direct service was either…not social work ‘cause you weren’t a social worker, but working with social workers or teaching. They said it’s a little bit harder to get into. We screen people or whatever, and…but they said here’s how to apply. I said holy cow, this might be for me, one of these two things. The more I kinda discerned about it, ironically, when you talk about Jesuits and stuff, I said I really think I want to do one of these. At the time, the response…AmeriCorps was my top choice. So, whatever; I filled out the applications and…my timeline is very confusing ‘cause I have no idea if this happened after I graduated college or…I think the JVC probably…timeline was probably, yeah, you apply for it and then you don’t get accepted ‘til after you graduate college.
I’m not sure about that, though. There was some uncertainty, and the AmeriCorps one was definitely uncertain. They were like, you can apply, but at the time, even the AmeriCorps overall, they were like, we might lose funding just ‘cause there was different parties in charge of each part of the government and they weren’t getting along. So they were like, we might not have any funding for this at all, but we definitely are having trouble getting the funding for this. This is just how I remember it, too. It might not be true. So I said okay, that I guess will be my first choice, but I’ll apply to this JVC too ‘cause it sounds pretty cool and sounds maybe a little bit too intense for me, like the idea of the spirituality.
But I said it appeals to me, the idea of social justice, ‘cause I had moved from someone that was more ignorant, right, and more close-minded and I didn’t really understand how the world was for everybody. As I became more aware of that, I did say wait a second, there is this social injustice that I see now that I’ve gotten outside of my bubble. It did become more and more important to me the more time I spent…I think that’s part of a Jesuit education or even a Liberal Arts education sometimes. You say oh, okay, whoa; I really was a ignorant, privileged person and still am, but as my…as I started to realize more of that, I said wait a second, maybe I do need to be a part of change here, or I’m not comfortable with this. What can I do about it?
So, JVC did offer the opportunity to engage with that and say well, if this is important to you, simplicity, social justice, spirituality, and community, think about applying. So, then I applied for JVC, and the only things I really remember about it is…I don’t know if it’s after you get in or when you apply. I think when you apply…back then when I applied, you applied to a region. So, there was…the United States was broken up into one, two, three, four…five or six regions; the Northeast, Southeast, the Middle South, maybe the South, but that included Texas and everything. Then the Midwest, the Northwest, and the Southwest. So, I applied to JVC SW, Southwest, and…because I said well, if I’m gonna do this, why not do it somewhere that’s…I could live in California or Arizona?
I think at the time, I had this…also this romantic view of not just California but of Arizona as well. I think at the time, I was…would have been happy to be in California or Arizona. Then you had to apply…then you had to pick…I think they gave you a list of locations and jobs and you had to rank your top ten or your top five. Then you had to apply for the jobs based on your experience. A lot of the jobs were teaching, which was a bit of a bummer for me ‘cause I was kinda like, I just didn’t see myself as a teacher. But I think I did put some Arizona teaching jobs high, and then Los Angeles was my second choice, and then after that, maybe San Diego. I wasn’t…I didn’t have as much…I had more glamour for Los Angeles than San Francisco at the time, even though as a kid I talked about how I was obsessed with San Francisco when I was in grammar school.
So, I applied and then I remember having a interview call with this guy Mike, and he was very animated and sounded pretty relaxed. He said okay, well, tell me about yourself. It was more of like a informational…whatever you call a interview to kinda see how you’d handle things socially and things well outside your comfort zone. Then I found out I got in, and then I found out that I got placed in East Los Angeles at Our Lady of Guadalupe school, and that is where I would be a second grade teacher’s aide and a boy’s PE teacher and coach, none of which I was qualified. Second-grade teacher’s aide I was pretty qualified to do, and also I was in the capable hands of Mrs. T, so she was Florencia. She was the best. I got…so…oh, okay, so back up as we close out here.
So, I got to…we…I was at the thing, I saw the beautiful hills, went to Togo's, met these two guys. I was definitely outside…then I started getting outside my comfort zone. Then we had to go get a bus, and I think it was a school bus, and…to go…we were gonna go on a training retreat. I remember our bus broke down going over the Santa Cruz mountains, and I don’t…I can’t remember who I sat with. I think I can kinda barely remember sitting with a couple people, and I was very, very socially feeling those strong feelings. Eventually we got to the retreat centre and then it was in Aptos, California, like on the coast. Now, the Northern California coast is much different than the Southern California coast.
So, I don’t know if we swam, but I remember hanging out on the beach, and there was people that were a little bit more socially interactive than me. Then I met my future roommates, ‘cause you live in community. You live in the community you serve and then in a community of other volunteers. I met all my roommates and I said okay, well, this seems like…we all seemed to get along. There was three women and one other male, and we kinda connected. Then I said okay, well, at least now I know some people. I’m trying to think how…what else…how else everything planned out. Then we had the retreat and training, and we kinda got to know our community members and then kinda got more comfortable, and kinda got trained in mostly…how do you deal with, as a graduate of school, going to a new job that’s gonna be pretty intense?
That was the most important, powerful thing, was just remember; this is gonna be really hard. Your first few weeks are gonna be really, really hard, living in community…also, we were supposed to be living simply, which meant we had a very limited budget. Our housing was paid for and our utilities, and then we got a small stipend to spend and then a small stipend for food and stuff. They said you just kinda let yourself…you’re not gonna be good at your job and it’s…you’re gonna have to…you’ll slowly learn, so give yourself permission to have some really hard days at work. Sorry, I got distracted…and then…oh, so we had a simple budget. So believe it or not, we were actually able to eat really well.
I think we were each given $75 a month for food and we kinda pooled that among the five of us and took turns cooking. I did get lunch at my job though, because we…all the teachers…that was a great thing. Just happened to be with my job, but we would…the mother of the parish priest would cook lunch for the teachers every day. So, we’d have a teacher’s meeting every day and eat lunch, which was absolutely amazing. So, I’m trying to think if there’s anything else. I don’t know; I guess it’s just been on my mind I guess with changes lately, but just the hills and how it’s kinda reconnected me. It’s just strange to fall in love with something again that not many people probably fall in love with. Then, why do I love this so much?
Then I say oh, well, I love it because of what it is, but also because I’m…I was already connected to it. So if you’re wondering where I am, I’m probably…I’m probably not, but at some point you could see me slowly, oh so slowly jogging on that path, listening to a podcast, and really enjoying the dirt and the heat and the dust kicking up. Not too dusty though, and the grass and the views of those rolling, straw-colored hills. So glad to be back in your arms. Goodnight.
[END OF RECORDING]
(Transcribed by Leah Hervoly)