The last couple days, I’ve been having hits on my blog from the keywords: “Chinatown poem.” So, if you’re that awesome person trying to find out about the poem I published in The (awesome) Rattling Wall, then check out my reading below.
Last Thursday, I read at Book Soup as part of The Rattling Wall Issue 3 Book Tour. I was lucky enough to read with some great writers: Brian Rooney, Amy Wallen, Panio Gianopoulus, Kate Reeves, and Suzanne Lummis. It was a great reading, and I was honored to be a part of it — especially at such a cool and historic bookstore. When I moved to L.A. almost two years ago, I interviewed Joseph Mattson and Tosh Berman at Book Soup. Since then, my goal was to read there. Big thanks to Michelle Meyering and The Rattling Wall for helping make that happen. Check out the video above to see my reading.
So, as for what happens when you lose everything…Today was an utter disaster. It was one of those days that you can never see coming — like an old man running through a red light — that shake the shit out of you and realize how one mistake can send you on a trajectory of unfortunate events.
This morning, I woke up and went over to Portfolio Coffeehouse on 4th Street to work on this piece I’m writing on port truckers. I’ve been working on it since early September, and I have countless interviews that were extremely hard to come by. So, I’m sitting in Portfolio, texting my buddy who just moved to L.A., and I’m going through some of the old audio. I was going to delete some of the old ones in order to focus on typing up the important ones. That’s when it happened. I hit the erase button on my Olympus video recorder, and instead of only deleting one of the interviews, I deleted the entire folder. All of my work…gone.
Suddenly, months of work, personal stories I was trusted with, money, opportunity, was gone. I knew I was in a coffee shop, and I could hear the espresso machines spitting foam and the random people talking about their new businesses, but it all disappeared, and I wasn’t in the coffee shop anymore. I was outside of it, in my head, playing out the infinite scenarios of apologizing for a stupid mistake and wondering how in the world I was going to make my deadline.
Now I actually walked outside, crouched down where people couldn’t see me, and screamed, “FUCK.” I looked down at the voice recorder, holding it as if I was strangling the piece of electronic crap. “How can this be so easy? How can you be such a little shit? What the hell is wrong with you? I didn’t want to erase all my work. Couldn’t you have know that? Couldn’t you tell? How can you be such a terrible purchase?”
I stepped back for a second, realizing that I’m probably talking to myself, and I took a couple of breaths. I went back inside and googled the Olympus product, found the contact information, and gave them a call.
So here’s where things get better, and if you’re going through this same scenario and you’re about to give up all hope, let me tell you — there’s a way to fix this.
What the woman on the phone told me is that there are these audio recovery programs you can download for free. But she said they only work for about 75% of your lost work. I figured, hey, 75% is better than losing everything. What I needed, however, was to connect my voice recorder with a USB cable to my computer, so I rushed over to Best Buy, and I bought the cable. One of the Geeks there told me about this program called Recuva. She swore by the product and said it worked most of the time.
Oh, I thought, maybe I’m saved. I prayed to God or Allah or Buddha — whoever the hell is up there listening to me and my problems — and I found the program for free. Well, Recuva is a program only compatible with a PC. I’m using a Mac. But I found another program that worked for a Mac. It is called Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery. The download was for free, and it started scanning my computer. The great thing about it was that you could scan iPods, hardrives, audio files, even flash drives, and it would find your material. Lucky for me, the program found all my audio recordings.
And there they were — my mp3 files all stacked up in a folder like a miracle sent down straight from Vishnu. I couldn’t believe it. The program saved me — and for free.
I went to click on the files. No so fast, the program said. You need to buy the $100 software in order to recover the files. I could see the audio, but I couldn’t own them yet. I reluctantly paid the $100, knowing there was no other option, and now I have the files back, in my hands, in order to complete the story.
But it was terrifying. I have never done something so stupid. Well, at least as a freelancer, and I know now that I must start backing up everything. What a wild day.
Last night, I celebrated my Independence Day and the beginning of my journey as a freelance writer with a trip to Chinatown to cover Matjames Metson’s assemblage show and read poetry with Slake. It was an amazing night. And not just because of the art show, but because the city was booming with people. Kids were banging on drums, and dragons were dancing in between the pedestrians. Check out the photos taken by my lady.
Really loved having the opportunity to read my poem, “Before the Week Ahead,” with Slake. It was a poem about the anxiety I felt driving to work on the 405 from Long Beach to Woodland Hills. Sort of felt like a moment of freedom to read this poem — almost a declaration of Independence. (Heard Craig Gaines use this phrase, and I borrowed it.)
Today is my last day of work as an academic coach. I’ve been working at a rehab center for drug and alcohol addicts and teaching creative writing, and it has been an incredible experience, which I will continue to write about and allow to change my life. And over the next couple of days, I will be chronicling this goodbye as I start my career as a freelance writer.
And as luck would have it, I’ll start this journey with a bang. On Saturday in Chinatown, I will be reading poetry at Matjames Metson’s Method Attic—a one-night event showcasing Metson’s art at Coagula. For the event, Slake: Los Angeles has set up a stellar lineup of poets, including one of my favorite LA poets, John Tottenham. I’m honored to be a part of it. Check the flyer below and come to Coagula if you’re in L.A. Plus, there will be live music and a festive atmosphere in Chinatown. Don’t miss it!