There and Back Again
To say, the last year or two have been a bit tumultuous, confusing and in retrospect misguided would be an understatement. To say it's been interesting, would be trite and disingenuous. I won't go into great detail on most of the journey or this entry would never end.
The Big "Sometimes Not So Easy"
I love New Orleans.
But sometimes New Orleans loves me back too hard. And such was the case on my last stint in one of my favorite city's in the world.
After jumping through plenty of hoops to transfer out of the Atlanta union and into the one that covers the film industry in Louisiana, I worked pretty steadily. However, after a 17 hour delay with my flight from NOLA to ATL, as well as a number of other situations, I realized that moving to New Orleans may have not been the best tactical direction for me to take.
Perhaps, I thought, a return to California and working in Los Angeles might be the best next step. I had a very strong possibility of employment on the show Westworld, which did indeed happen.
I floundered about quite a bit.
I visited the Salton Sea.
I hung out in Barstow and Bishop.
I made it up to Mammoth Lakes on several occasions.
I camped quite a bit.
But not as much as I would have liked.
I also realized that there were several reasons why I have tried to leave Los Angeles so many times and I keep ending back up there. I sincerely believe that my last stay out there will be indeed my last.
The City of Angels and I have never been a good match. That is one of the few things in my life that keep learning. Hopefully, I am right in saying that we have said our final goodbye.
I imagine that I will be back to visit. But I don't believe I'll ever take up residence there again.
In my dreams, I could see living up in the mountains of Mammoth Lakes. I have never lived in the Bay area and given the cost of living in that region, unless my fortune changes I don't foresee that becoming a reality.
If there was more work, I may have stayed longer. But at the time it was pretty scarce and I didn't have the contacts I once did. I had been gone too long.
I realized that not only did my family still reside in Atlanta, but so did a number of my dearest friends. Not only ones that I had met during my time there but also a number of Angelenos that had relocated there.
My oldest friend, who I've known since meeting in Driver's Ed in high school and the one who got me into the film business lives in Atlanta now.
I would have to learn how to live away from the sea for at least the next several years. I wish I would have realized this before I spent a great deal of time, energy and money. But sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees as it were.
That said, I'm back here in the Empire of the South.
It's going to be a very different experience to be sure. Divorced, in the midst of a career change, very close to retirement, at least as a set dresser, fairly certain that I won't make a return to Burning Man although a number of my dear friends here consider themselves "Burners". I'm staying in the same complex where Skye and I used to take circus classes, although they've relocated and my aerial arts days are behind me. I've joined the gym that I was a member of before. In fact, we all were part of the gym at one point, it was one of the perks of the condo we were living in. Skye and I even were part of their team that participated in a Spartan race. The owner's the same and there are a couple of other familiar faces, but all of the jujitsu instructors I trained under had moved on as well as the yoga instructors.
But here I am.
In Atlanta, starting over....again.
Hopefully I've learned somethings along the way.
I once sighed and told the owner of the gym I was training at that I really needed to "get back in shape"; to which he replied, "Jon you're always in shape; you just might not be in Jon Danniells shape"
That's a blessing and a curse for sure.
I've always been a goal oriented chap. Which has had some interesting results in regards to being "in shape".
The goal is basically to look good and hold my own when it comes to jujitsu.
That said, I also would like to get some impressive shoulders.
Of all my body parts, I've never been able to develop them that well.
Where is My Heart? Where is my Home?
My physical heart, the one that beats in my chest and courses blood throughout my body, happens to be hanging out with the rest of me, here in Chatsworth, not to far from where I grew up.
The people closest to my metaphorical heart are mostly in Atlanta, although there a few here in Los Angeles.
But my heart resides in neither of those cities, it merely visits.
I am most at home traveling, although I do like having a home to come back to. I always told Cindy I dreamed of being semi-nomadic.
Being a solitary nomad is hard.
I've had homes before. One's I've owned, others that I've rented, others that were provided for me by whatever production my wife or I were working on.
I don't have a home now; just a place where some of my stuff is and where I sleep and do the other things people do.
I've always enjoyed quotes. One of my favorite books growing up was Bartlett's Familiar Quotations.
There are a plethora of famous quotes that speak of Heart and/or Home:
Home Is Where the Heart Is
There's No Place Like Home
A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it
Maybe at the heart of all our traveling is the dream of someday, somehow, getting Home.
Being happy at home is the end of all ambition
He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.
When I was at home, I was in a better place.
The home should be the treasure chest of living
Open House, Open Heart
I've always loved welcoming people into my home, whether it be for holiday celebrations, or game nights, or just having tea or coffee. People were always welcomed to spend the night if they were too tired or maybe imbibed too much or just didn't feel like going home. When we had our big house up in the Baldwin Hills with a guest bedroom, we hosted all sorts of guests; a filmmaker from Iraq, a person I friended on Facebook because we shared the same birthday and at the time, I didn't have many friend on FB because not too many people were on Facebook yet, as well as another up and coming filmmaker, as well as a fellow set decorator (three decorators under one roof, oh my).
We hosted many New Year's Eve parties, Thanksgiving diners, absinthe tasting soirees, pizza cooking get togethers (I had a wood-fire oven as well as an outdoor kitchen built on one of the terraces), Fourth of July parties to name just a few.
People often say this when you first enter the gates to Burning Man.
It didn't mean much the first time I went, but after that every year after that it rang true. Even last year when I left early.
It was a gathering of like minded folk and some of my most memorable experiences were out there in that temporary community, that temporary home.
Homeless but not Heartless
I may be in a transitory living situation and I don't really have much of an idea where I'll find "home" again. My hearts taken a beating in the last year or so but as long as it keeps beating, there's hope.
Hope for healing, growing, exploring, following one's heart as they say.
What a Difference a Day Makes
Cindy, Skye and myself had recently returned from an amazing adventure in Croatia. Once again we had pulled up roots, put everything in storage and went on another epic adventure. It had been several years after Yugoslavia had broken up and the region had had a civil war. I had done a great deal of research and it was deemed safe for tourists to return to the jewel of the Adriatic. But there was still apprehension which played out well for us because it was incredibly affordable and without many Western tourists. And we were welcomed with open arms.
When we returned to the States, we stayed with a dear friend of Cindy's. We were there for several days. We weren't in any rush as we didn't have any upcoming jobs or a place to stay in Los Angeles. But on 9/10, we decided not to wear out our welcome and packed up all of our luggage and headed out towards Cleveland where one of Cindy's sisters lived.
As we were leaving New York City, Cindy opened up the moon-roof and pointed towards the Twin Towers saying, "Skye when I used to live over there, my friends and I wondered if the Towers were to fall, would they hit our apartment?"
She slid the moon-roof closed and we continued on toward Cleveland.
The following day we watched the news in disbelief.
We couldn't understand what we were witnessing.
It was surreal.
We also realized the world as we knew it would never be the same.
Think of this as sort of a trailer for upcoming blog-posts. I haven't posted in a while but that certainly wasn't because of a lack of material.
Two of my mainstay topics, bicycle blunders and grappling with storage issues continue to haunt my existence and lucky you get to hear me winge about it. "Winge" got autocorrected twice to "wine" before finally allowing "winge" to stay, perhaps to suggest that with a little more wine there might be less winge. There might be more on that later, we'll see.
And of course "stuff", another favorite conversation of mine. In my case recently, what to keep, what to throw away, what to store and then the regrets for doing one of the other. I was going to formulate that last sentence only to find there isn't an adequate antonym to "regret". When I looked it up, words such as impenitence, remorselessness, satisfaction, calmness, comfort, contentedness, contentment, delight, ignorance, joy and the list of almost opposite words continued.
As I've been going threw my stuff I've found some wonderful books, pictures, fun and interesting memorabilia and this that and the other.
I'll also keep you up to date with the progress of my auto-biography, "Lost Not Found"
Downsizing and Upsizing
A few years ago I made the mistake of purchasing several bikes that I didn't know how to ride but felt confident that I could learn how.
Third Times a Charm...Or Perhaps a Curse
Some time in the last couple of years, I was staying at yet another hotel and my very expensive road bike which was locked with a cable on a bike rack was stolen. There was video surveillance but you couldn't make out the license plate or what the thieves looked like, so it wasn't of much use.
Another time I was at a hotel and the burglars stole the entire rack with two bikes on it.
Just a few days ago I was parked in front of a friend of friend who I was going to help move.
I had purchased a rack that locked to the frame of the truck, the two bikes had a U-Bolt locking them together that was attached to a cable that went to the frame of the truck. They apparently cut the cable and then lifted the two bikes in unison and hoisted them into a truck where they deal with the heftier lock at a job with either a grinder or welding torch.
That's my theory at least.
Maybe Fate is Looking Out For Me
My brother was a semiprofessional bicyclist before running into an oncoming car when training in Topanga Canyon. He was airlifted out and has never ridden since then. After the initial emergency room visit he never took care of his ankle; in part because of my mother's Christian Science influence but more because he didn't have health insurance.
Another good friend was mountain biking in Mammoth Lakes, took a turn too quickly and ended up slamming into a tree, cracking a couple of ribs which took him out of action for a couple of months, which given my current state of affairs, would be disastrous.
Anyway You Slice It
I am now left with an off-road unicycle, which I haven't had a lot of practice on and besides being a fun novelty, especially at Burning Man is not a viable option of getting around or getting a cardio workout.
I'll probably pick up a cheap cruiser just before I head out to that pilgrimage in the desert, but I won't be investing in any sort of fancy road-bikes or mountain bikes until I have a living situation where I can bring them in at night.
It's a rather sad state of affairs, but I hopefully have finally learned from my mistakes.
May the Fourth Be with You
Growing up Star Wars was a huge thing for me. It was the first time I remember waiting in line for a movie opening.
It was unlike anything I'd ever seen before. I was still pretty young, so I was easily impressed.
It was magical and ground-breaking on so many levels and I certainly am not alone with the effect it had on me, although I don't come close to being a hardcore fan.
Cinco de Mayo
It's been interesting now having traveled all over the country and lived and worked in several different states, how regional we can be about our holiday celebrations. Growing up in Los Angeles, Cinco de Mayo was a pretty big deal, Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday was a non-event.
Now, having lived in Atlanta and New Orleans until just recently, I've gotten a different perspective on a few things.
Obviously, Mardi Gras takes over NOLA and in Atlanta, well it's a bit more tricky. In 1862 while the defeat of the French army during the Battle of Puebla (Batalla de Puebla) was taking place in Mexico; we were having our own little conflict known as the Civil War.
Of course, I obviously had learned about the war in school but it's a completely different matter when you visit the battlefields and see confederate flags still waving proudly in people's yards.
Seeing Stone Mountain for the first time clued me in on how some Southerners still felt about the War of Northern Aggression; but that's another story for another time.
The Ren Faire and more
Most important for me was May was when I'd probably go to the Renaissance Faire. It was magical to me. I loved being transported to another time and of course there were the turkey legs which I looked forward to every year. It was also one of the first places I was able to drink. They rarely cared back then, so at 15 or so I was able to get myself some good ale.
May 5th is also the anniversary of when NASA launched the first American-manned space flight (1961) and the opening of Carnegie Hall (1891).
Jon Danniells is an adventurer and traveler, a teacher and student, a husband and a father, a cook and a farmer, a "week-end warrior" (very amateur athlete) and has not earned any money on these labors of love.When I googled myself what showed up first was my IMDB listing, which is basically a resume for my 20 and then some year career in film, for which I fortunately do get paid.