I woke up at 5 ish this morning because my son bashed me in the face with his fist. He’s 7 months old, so his fists are still tiny, but the boy knows how to use them to pummel me. His mother woke up and took the rest of the early morning shift and I slept in until 8 a.m. They both snoozed, but I got up, kissed my lady on the forehead, punched my 7-month old in the face, and then proceeded to start my daily routine. (I’m kidding. I kissed him, too. He’s the best.)
Barring extraordinary bad breath or an infant-related outburst, first thing I do in the a.m. is drop to my knees and do three quick prayers and a check-in to God. After that, I meditate for ten minutes with the Headspace app. Many people who use guided meditation apps hate this one because of the host’s strong New Zealand accent, but I don’t mind it because I’ve always gotten along with assholes.
After that I study philosophy for a bit and then do a journal entry based off of what I read. Today’s entry included a passage from Epictetus—“I will neither beg the doctor’s help, or pray for death”— and some gratitude shout-outs to a few new friends, my young family, the ability to work, etc. I also include a passage from Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s book, The Gulag Archipelago, about his euphoric ascent away from despair while a prisoner in Soviet labor camps:
“And that is why I turn back to the years of my imprisonment and say, sometimes to the astonishment of those about me, ‘Bless you, prison, for having been a part of my life.’ ”
After that entry, I write in a separate journal to my son, Ozzy. Today I instructed him to say “bless you, prison” whenever he feels trapped by circumstance: “Re-examine yourself, your situation and make a hard decision to change your perspective—get accustomed to this mindset and you will survive most human setbacks.”
I know—deeeeep. The reason I do this routine every morning is because I’m a recovering drug addict. I’m also a recovering narcissist, nihilist, and cynic. Without this 30 minutes of self-reflective hooey my mind gets real noisy. I won’t overdose on cocaine if I don’t do it, but I’m guaranteed to be a real prize dickhead that day.
Our nanny comes around 9 a.m. She brought her 73-year-old mother and her 2-year-old child. We live in a decent sized apartment, but it’s still pretty full. I left at 11:30 a.m. because I have a weekly commitment at an AA meeting on Vine Street. There was no speaker today at the meeting so I volunteered. This used to be an unnerving, unpleasant experience but I’ve gotten over the stage fright of candidly discussing my personal in front of (mostly) strangers.
After the meeting, I head off to a boxing lesson with my trainer, Shane.
Shane was born in Canada but drifted to LA become a professional fighter almost 20 years ago. He’s bounced in and out of numerous gyms and at one point, he was a highly sought-after trainer, who had celebrity clients like Adam Levine and Dave Chapelle. Right now his only client is me and my friend, Adam, so he’s homeless.
I’m serious. He’s not one of these between-jobs, normal-looking homeless guys that sleep in their cars until someone can Venmo them enough cash to get a hotel. Nuh-uh: Shane is straight-up filthy bum who sleeps in the stairwell of the fire exit of the old boxing gym that fired him a couple years ago. He’s been stabbed more than a dozen in times in various street fights. His left eye has been bashed into an ugly eyelid lump. His teeth are broken and brown, his beard is overgrown and matted with dirt. Today he wore a bright yellow tennis shirt that’s probably two-sizes too-big and resembles a neon tablecloth on his 5-foot 4-inch frame. Before we work out he’ll regale me with some horrific absurdity of his daily existence. Today, for example, an overzealous security guard at Ralph’s supermarket tried to tase him. He also had to run by the free clinic to get a prescription for his athlete’s foot which has become very painful and has turned to “foot rot” on certain parts. “Sometimes when I walk the bottom of my foot comes off,” he said.
I pay him $40 cash for each session.
We ran through our usual ten rounds of pad work and calisthenics and I’m physically spent.
Afterwards, we went down to Farmer Boys on Hollywood and Western where I treated him to a late lunch. Shane shared more stories and opinions that are unique only to him. “The black homeless guys in LA are pretty tough,” he said. He stacked his scrambled eggs, bacon and even the drab piece of wilted lettuce used for garnish on to his wheat toast and took a sloppy bite. “The ones I’ve fought, at least.”
I sprang the nanny around 4 p.m. and spent the rest of the day with Ozzy until his bedtime at 6:30 p.m. My girlfriend writes for a TV show and was headed out to her premiere gala. I opted to stay at home. Ozzy cries for about an hour—heart-stabbing, throat-scratching wails–but then goes right out. I sat alone with my thoughts until the Postmates delivery guy arrived with my ramen. As I ate I realized that even though it feels like I’m alone, there’s a boy upstairs in the crib who needs me to sit here and eat by myself. I don’t know when I achieved this contentment but it’s quite a remarkable turnaround from the selfish piece of shit I used to be. I’m remarkably okay with staying right where I am for as long as I need to be here. Bless you, prison.