Learning How To Breathe Again

Last time I was living in LA I hated it. It was so awful that I didn’t even want to come back for a visit. Yet here I am.

And I have to say, this trip has actually been a ton of fun. For one thing, I made it clear to everyone that I would only be here for a month just to set expectations. So instead of feeling like I would be here indefinitely, I felt like I had to maximize the amount of time that I was here by seeing friends, spending time with family and doing all the shit that you can only do in a place like LA.

There’s a famous quote that I learned from one of Robert Greene’s books, The 48 Laws Of Power. This is from Law 16: Use absence to increase respect.

Here’s the quote:

A man said to a Dervish: “Why do I not see you more often?”

The Dervish replied, “Because the words ‘Why have you not been to see me?’ are sweeter to my ear than the words ‘Why have you come again?”’
~ Mulla jami, quoted in ldries Shah’s Caravan of Dreams, 1968

Greene’s books were some of the last ones where I’d purchased the hard copy versions instead of just pirating the PDF just because I enjoyed them so much. I’ve read the first 3 (48 Laws, Art of Seduction, and 33 Strategies Of War) at least 5 times each cover-to-cover. This quote stuck in my mind for a long time and this last trip to LA proved its validity to me.

When you grow up somewhere, you never see it the same way people do that move there from somewhere else. Which sucks for me because LA is an objectively cool city with a lot of interesting things to see and do. A ton of people move here because they see it as some kind of fantasy land where nobody cares how weird you are and you can just be yourself.

Not me. People I knew from high school are still circulating here, popping up unexpectedly at the supermarket and silently judging me for not being as cool as them. I mean probably not, but that’s what I tell myself. It’s stupid for sure, but I was never able to shake off that heavy blanket.

For whatever reason, I didn’t really feel that during this past month. I spent a lot of time in places that I don’t usually go and had a blast.

“It’s not a tumah”

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For example, in Venice there’s a street called Abbot Kinney that has a ton of cool little bars, cafes, independent boutiques and most importantly: smoking hot girls.

I don’t know if it’s because it’s summer time or what, but JFC these women are out of this world. All shapes and sizes but DAMN they are hot. And they’re everywhere too. Every store, every cafe… you can’t turn your head without seeing some little strumpet wearing clothing that would make a modern day Indian pitch a tent.

Interestingly enough, I’ve also noticed that since putting on a little muscle, I seem to get more looks than before. Whoever told you women don’t care about looks is a damn liar. They care.

Anyway, Abbot Kinney (and Venice in general) used to be a shithole where people slept in on the sidewalk and sold drugs in the alleys. They still do, but at least the scenery is a lot nicer.

Tons of startups have been moving here in the past five or so years, rents have skyrocketed and the place looks fantastic. Yet it still has that Venice-vibe of artists, skateboarders, beach-goers and all-around weirdos.

The thing I found most attractive about Venice’s makeover were the cafes. Nearly every coffee shop had a large patio packed with attractive young people working on their computers. And since I work on my laptop all day erry day, it was easy to imagine myself joining them.

I mean why not, right? Just buy a $4 coffee and you can sit there all day – the baristas don’t give a shit. I imagine it would be great for networking too because of all the startups that are within walking distance. Google and Snapchat both have offices down there.

This was really the first thing that opened my eyes and made me actually consider living in LA again. Venice was close to the beach, the weather was fantastic, AND I had my choice of “offices” where I could “socialize” with a bunch of random young people who aren’t ugly.

Except for the fact that renting an apartment there is as expensive as Beverly Hills, I could actually picture myself living there.

I don’t give a shit though. I’ll sleep in my car if I have to. I’ll buy a tent and go camp somewhere nearby, wake up at 5 AM and just work all day. I’m sure I can spin it and convince people that I’m some kind of sexy starving artist or something.

Plus, the Venice Beach Muscle Beach Gym is $20/month for a membership. Sure, you have to work out in front of lots of people. But isn’t that the point of getting in shape anyway?

Malibu’s Most Wanted

Malibu’s Most Wanted

After seeing what Venice had to offer, it was time to visit my oldest friend [that I still talk to on a regular basis]. We’ve known each other since the high school days and he’s helped me quite a bit over the years. Every time I would come back to LA, I knew I could crash with him for a few days. Now he’s married with kids and has a big house in Malibu, but still opens his doors to me every time I’m in town. If that’s not a friend then I don’t know what is.

I headed over to Malibu on Friday night and he and his wife and I shot the shit for a few hours before going to bed. I regaled them with stories about Thailand and Australia and filled my friend in on all of the weird shit I’ve been up to lately. We had big plans for Saturday.

Apparently they’ve grown their network of Malibuians since the last time I was there. They’ve got two young daughters (with another kid on the way) and have met some of the other parents in the area. I’m not sure what any of you think about people who live in Malibu, but I was way off in my perception of what people from there are like.

In high school, all the kids who lived in Malibu were a) really good looking, b) on all kinds of drugs, and c) total mental cases. Kind of like the ones from my area but less rough around the edges.

So that’s kind of what I expected to see this weekend. And I suppose that IS what I saw to some degree.

We spent all day Saturday at a semi-private beach as guests of some friends of theirs who are parents of one of their kids’ friends. I’m an old-ass 34 year old now, so I’m used to hanging out with people who have small children. Doesn’t really bother me as I basically already live like a boring parent anyway.

But it was interesting hanging out with these “dads” because they’re straight up adults. Talking about buying apartment buildings, what stocks they own… it was weird.

It sounds strange, but when I hang out with “adults” like this, I feel like I have some kind of advantage over them. These people are stuck in their routines with their wives, jobs, and kids and I think when they hear about how I live, they get a little jealous. That instantly endears them to me as long as I am not an asshole about it.

Not that their lives are bad by any stretch of the imagination. But as we say in Hebrew: l’hakol mitraglim (to everything, you can adjust).

And that’s how it was at the beach. Meeting all these chill ass high-rolling Malibuites talking about their fucking Teslas and shit.

I kept thinking to myself, “Fuck, if I lived here I could do shit like this all the time. Rub elbows with rich people and figure out how to make money off of them.”

Not in a predatory way, of course. I’m not bringing them into my MLM. But one thing I learned from Think And Grow Rich is that you need to look at every single situation as an opportunity to make money.

That’s not especially hard to do when you’re in fucking Malibu either. This kid’s dad used to be an investment banker who quit 4 years ago and now just sits at home and trades stocks all day. Says he makes 30-40% every year off his investments. Chill as fuck, not a care in the world, just living in Malibu, playing on his Nintendo Switch and surfing every day.

Breathing: my new favorite pastime

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After a few hours on the beach it was time to go. I was 30-something hours into a 48 hour fast, dehydrated and probably suffering from a bit of heat stroke. We were all cooked and ready for a nap. But we still had the big event of the day coming up: the breathing meditation workshop.

Apparently, my friend’s wife had met some free-thinking people in Malibu who are into some holistic shit, so we were all invited to this couple’s house to do “DMT breathing.” They invited a special trainer to come and teach us all about some kind of breathing technique that’s supposed to get you high or some shit.

Now, I know a bit about DMT but wasn’t aware that you can experience it just by breathing. Sounded like bullshit to me but I kept my mouth shut.

It was a pretty crazy scene when we got there. All the girls were 9s-10s with perfect bodies and most of the dudes were surfer types with a bunch of tattoos. The guy who owned the house had a fucking mohawk with the tips bleached.

As soon as we got there, mohawk-bro took us into his garage to see his new car. I didn’t take a close look because I don’t give a shit about cars, but I could see that it was a black Porsche and it didn’t look like he bought it from a used lot. He had six cars.

This guy was obviously a baller because of something, but if you saw him on the street you’d think he worked at a skate shop.

And his wife? Hoo ee buddy… what a stunner. I need to be respectful in case they read this someday, but she looked good. All the women there were beautiful.

Anyway, after sitting around mingling for about 30 minutes the instructor gets there. An Asian-looking guy with a French accent, you could tell he was a very nice dude. He did his best to try and make everyone comfortable about the fact that we were about to hyperventilate ourselves into a blissful hypoxia instead of something normal like smoking crack.

The short version of the technique is that you’re supposed to breathe as deeply as you can as quickly as you can using your entire body. You inhale as deeply as possible, then exhale as deeply as possible. But you don’t sit there like a stiff log, you have to use your entire body. The Franco-Asian showed us how to do it and it looked really fucking weird. He was like rocking back and forth, had his eyes closed and the whole thing just looked weird as shit.

But I was a guest in these people’s house and while they seemed a little weird, I don’t think they’re the type to spike the Kool Aid. So I figured I might as well do what this guy says, see what it’s all about and then make my own judgment.

He took us through an exercise where you breathe deeply like that for 2 minutes, then at the end you take one final inhale, hold your breath at the top, and contract every muscle in your body. He called it “making your poop face.”

Long story short, it was fucking awesome. The breathing itself feels pretty good if you do it like this guy showed us, because the rocking back and forth activates your core and the muscles along your spine which don’t get a lot of love thanks to our modern lifestyles. But the high you get afterwards is the best part.

We did 3 x 2 minute rounds followed by one 20 minute round which was pretty intense. I tried to do it the way the instructor showed us for the entire session and I am feeling it in my back today. But immediately after finishing the session (and a quick savasana) we all felt pretty damn good. Afterwards we had a barbecue which was a great way to break my 48 hour fast. I mean it wasn’t that great because I was drinking exotic beer and tequila, but the food was good and the hosts were very host-like.

In fact, I credit the stimulating conversation, openness and overall comfort in an otherwise uncomfortable situation with the effect that the breathing had on us.

Feelin /fit/ buddy?

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This event was kind of what took me from considering moving back to LA to virtually sealing the deal for me. I mean I obviously can’t bank on going to breathing workshops with stunners and millionaires on a weekly basis.

But actually… can’t I? Seriously, why the fuck can’t I? These people exist – I just have to find them. And I have one of my closest friends planted right in the thick of things doing the networking for me when he picks his kids up from school. He’s a baller too and has been for as long as I’ve known him.

Shouldn’t I put myself near people like this? One of my other friends told me I should change my name to, “Gorky-Throwing-Away-Lottery-Tickets.”

I can’t believe I’m even considering moving back here, even for a short amount of time. But I have a gap between September and December where I don’t have any plans to be anywhere.

Why not Venice Beach? Go work on my projects every day at various coffee shops next to hotties, 48 hour fasts to save money and stay lean, yoga classes with more hotties, breathing workshops on the weekends with big ballers and their shopaholic wives. Why not?

I can still live like a degenerate if I want. And worst comes to worst, come December I’ll chase the summer back to Thailand and spend another six months doing Muay Thai and chilling on the beach.

Damn these difficult decisions.

This article was brought to you by YallaPapi.com – a WordPress site dedicated to the pursuit of excellence as long as it doesn’t affect my fitness level, tan, or beach time.

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