Hustle The Most Episode 23: Pull Y’all Up
In the last episode we talked a little about how sometimes things don’t work out. I was on an amazing tour playing the drums on stage every night to tons of people and I was somewhat miserable. I was in limbo. I understand limbo but I have never been comfortable in that space. I think looking back it was just wrong place and wrong time. So when the tour was over I had the choice to pretty much move anywhere in the world. There was a brief time where I was entertaining the idea of going back to Prague to live for a bit. That thought only lasted a few days then I decided to move back to Seattle. I had a lot of great friends there and I fell in love with that city a long time ago so I was going back. It just made sense to regroup in a place that I was familiar with and a place that I felt had some opportunities to do something musically and Seattle had a good job market. I changed my flight from LAX to flying into Vegas. My older sister lived there so I decided to go hang with her for a bit. I think I flew out of Heathrow in London. Ya know it’s always a little weird flying internationally because the flights are always such a melting pot of people. I mean everyone is flying to the states but they are all coming from different places and sometimes just connecting through airports in Europe and the UK. The flight back was pretty uneventful. Flying 10 hour by yourself across the Atlantic is always something. It wasn’t the first time I had done it so I guess you just roll with it. When I got to Vegas I still had my drums in Orange County so I borrowed my sister’s car and drove over to pick up my drums. They were at Tommy’s house in Costa Mesa and it was kind of weird meeting up with him to get them. Not because we didn’t like each other it was just one of those “we tried and failed and now here we are” kind of moments. After a short residence in Vegas I had to go back to Michigan and get my car and drive the 35 hour back to Seattle. This trip out I had my friend Hizzy roll out with me. He was a dude I always hung out when I was back in Flint. He worked as a piercer in this tattoo shop that I used to hang out at. My boy Joe Harris was a tattooer there as well. I always loved coming back to hang with those dudes. Joe and Hizzy were best friends for years and years! Everytime I came home to visit I would head to the shop and just hang out. Hanging out at that shop was always fun. They did a lot of walk-ins and they would have some of the craziest people coming in there wanting some of the worst tattoo ideas you could imagine. I remember sitting in this chair behind the counter and this big dude rolled in with his shirt all unbuttoned and he looked at me and was like “how much it cost me to get Sweet N Low across my chest”. No size, no font, no artwork. My man just wanted a price and his shirt was already half off and he was ready to go. There were so many of those stories. Every time I was there I would have to restrain myself from face palming myself when people would pitch their crazy tattoo ideas. That’s probably not right and I shouldn’t judge but some of the ideas were just ludacris.
Joe had a hoop in the back behind the shop so we used to go back there and shoot around if he didn’t have any appointments. When I say behind the shop what I really mean is a super dirty alley that sometimes had homeless people living in it. I’m sure we woke up people in that alley when we were screaming about making dope trick shorts. It was fun and we just rolled with it. This was the shop where I got my first tattoo in. It wasn’t the best set up but we made it work. I remember getting tattooed and I had to lay on a weight bench because he didn’t have a proper table. I mean it worked but it was awful. I was basically laying with my stomach on the bench and my head between the rack of the bench and Joe would be hunched way over trying to tattoo my back. We still laugh about that to this day. I was working at FedEx at the time so I would get tattooed for like 3 hours then go unload trucks in like 110º trailers in pontiac. That’s not the best way to heal tattoos if anyone is wondering. I think I did that about 5 or 6 times before we finally finished. It’s crazy this was in his very early days of tattooing. You know how it goes, everyone wants a tattoo from their friend because their friend now does tattoos but they are of course just starting so their tattoos probably aren’t the best. Joe was the same. This dude has been crushing it for the last 10/15 years but this was well over 20 years ago and he had been tattooing or about 5 minutes so ya get what ya get!
I gotta take a minute out to tell this story about hanging at the tattoo shop and how for like 2 days I was the most famous dude in Flint! This was like 2004 and Myspace was in full swing. I brought my computer to the shop at one point and hooked up to their phone line so I could get online. There was no WIFI happening for sure. I was showing Joe and Hizzy my Myspace page and there were like 4 dudes in the front that were kind of in earshot to us and I was just showing Joe and Hizzy things on my page and this dude was like “yo that’s you” ? And of course I was like, yeah. And he looked at his other dudes and was like “Yo this dudes on the internet!” I laughed it off and just kind of carried on and a few days later I was back at the shop and one of those dudes walked in with like 6 other dudes and was like “yo that’s the dude from the internet” and they thought I was way famous. I finally broke down and was like no it’s a website called Myspace and you can have a profile too, you just need an email address. I told them how it worked and they all went home and created profiles. They also figured out how to edit the HTML which was a hot thing at the time. They all requested me and after about 5 days their pages were so full of coding that they would barely load. When you clicked on it there was money raining down and booties bouncing around the page along with these crazy bass hogging songs playing in the background and like lasers and stuff shooting everywhere. It was completely insane. The pages would barely load!
Anyway so Hizzy and I hopped in the Porsche and headed across the country. I felt bad because Hizz was like 6’3” and like 250 and we were in this little 2 seater for like 40 hours. We packed a bunch of stuff into the car so he even had stuff at his feet. It was pretty cramped but we made the best of it. He took lots of photos of the usual touristy stuff like, Wall Drug, random people on the road and lots of scenic stuff. I think I did all the driving and of course rolled into town at like 4 AM just dead tired. We were staying with one of my friends that had extra space to put us up for a while. Hizzy stayed there for about 10 days and was pretty hesitant about going back. He kept talking about not going back, I think he changed his flight once or twice because we were just having fun. We were having fun just hanging out and he was stoked to not be in Flint. I can tell you that when you live in one place for 20 or 30 years and you don’t get out of that place very often if ever, a new place seems like an entire different planet. I felt the same way when I first moved there. It just sucks you in and you never want to leave. We didn’t do anything special just just kicked it around different parts of Seattle and Tacoma. Every place was new to him so he was just taking it all in. We went to a few skateparks and hung out. He didn’t skate but he had a video camera and was always trying to get Robby and I to do tricks. We were at the park in a town called Puyallup and he kept asking if we were going to pull yal up skatepark. It was so funny.
So after Hizzy talked himself into going home it was time for me to look for a job. Remember this was starting over for me so I was just trying to figure it all out. I kind of looked around Tacoma for work but I was looking at apartments in Seattle so I thought it was best to probably look for work up there. It’s only about 30 miles from Tacoma to Seattle which in midwest miles that’s nothing. We drive that everyday for fun but in Seattle that 30 mile commute can take 2-3 hours sometimes. I did a lot of digging around looking for work and came up with nothing. I mean I say I was looking but really what that meant was that I would apply for a few things online and look on Craigslist and Monster for an hour then go skateboarding until dark!
After some digging my friend Sarah called me and asked me if I wanted to work for a day at her store. They needed day labor. She was working at the Urban Outfitters on 5th ave in downtown Seattle. She said they needed help painting tables. She lived in Queen Anne and walked to work which was basically like a 20 minute walk down 5th avenue. For my one day of work we decided that I would drive to her house and park my car and walk downtown to the store with her. They started at 7 am. So I had to get up at 5 and drive to Tacoma and find parking in Queen Anne then walk the 20 minutes down to the store to work for the day then walk back to my car, drive back to Tacoma. This was all for like $10 an hour. But it was only for a day so that was ok. You just do it, take the pain and move on. About halfway through the day they asked me if I wanted to come back the next day and me not having a job I said of course. Then they asked about coming for the rest of the week. Then they asked me to come back for the next 2 weeks. Then for the month. I made that commute and worked in that store for 3 months before I finally found an apartment in Seattle. One of the biggest barriers for me finding a place was the fact that I wanted to live close to downtown and I had a car. Parking was a total nightmare in Seattle and most of the apartments don’t have parking and if they do it’s like a couple hundred bucks a month to park. When you are broke and barely making it the hundred bucks is food money or a phone bill or something. Luckily I found a place downtown that was only a few blocks away from one of the only hidden non zoned, non metered places in Seattle. When I moved in I would just park my car there and walk the 2 blocks to my place. I didn’t drive much so I would have to go back every few days and make sure that it was still there. The apartment I rented was a cool little 1 br downtown where I paid $650 a month which at the time was an absolute steal! It was actually nice, clean and in a great location. It was close to work which was great because I ended up working at that store for about 4 years on and off. Eventually doing all of the design and display work for 2 different stores Seattle. It’s crazy to think that this job started out as an offer to come in and paint tables for a day and I ended up there for 4 years. This job gave me a lot of flexibility which eventually came in handy when the itch came back to get back on the road. I think we will get into that in the next episode.
So let’s talk about what did I really learn from all this
I think that there is a common theme throughout a lot of my podcasts which is all about taking a chance, rolling the dice, leap of faith of whatever you want to call it. It’s about doing something instead of doing nothing. It’s about growing and changing and just seeing what’s out there. 9 times out of 10 you can always revert and go back if you don’t like what you see but what if you do like what you see? Hizzy coming out to Seattle with me was him taking a chance and he just didn’t have the push to stay there. I think another week and he would have stayed forever. He loved it out there and I think he felt free there. Free from all his burdens, drama and anything else that was weighing him down. Everytime I would come home and see him after that trip we would always talk about the trip we made together across the country!
I really learned again that it’s ok to take a chance. I have this theory that when you are unemployed and have no prospects that your time is worth zero. That was the choice for me. At $10 an hour I could have said no that’s not worth my time and just kept looking. But the reality was that I would have just sat on the couch that day in an apartment that wasn’t mine while making zero. I feel like it’s an easier choice to make something over nothing but it really depends on where your pride lives in that equation.
Looking back on this I also learned that you have to build things one piece at a time. I was rebuilding basically from scratch and that’s pretty overwhelming.Piece by piece you I just took it piece by piece and put it together like a puzzle and eventually the outcome was a pretty picture but it all started with just a single piece.