There are many things that I need to explain in response to your email:

When I attended the Quantum Eye, it was my fourth night on Manhattan Island. Ever.

I had never been to the East Coast before in my life, unless you count a cruise ship from Florida to the Bahamas where there are such things as sideways purple traffic lights and a strange sport called "Cricket." Why anyone would name a sport after the insomniac's least favorite insect is beyond the depths of my fathom gauge. And here I was thinking that the people of Cricket were a secluded tribe of murderous aliens hell-bent on the extermination of ever other life form in the universe.

When I came out to Manhattan, I hadn't intended on spending my money so quickly - I'm also TERRIBLE at math, and so instead of staying in hostels, I found myself living amongst the Nomads of Manhattan on the MTA - until my MTA card ran out, at which point I slept during the day wherever I could and walked around at night.

When I was at the performance, Mr. Eaton made an inside joke about the sound-and-lights guy being late, but I didn't know it was an inside joke. I had assumed that Mr. Eaton - being the master of reading people that he is (I've met some military spooks just like him, and they always know more about me than I do), I had assumed that he had made that comment because he recognized that I was in a pickle and was looking at whether or not I could make it in the city one day.

If not that, then why did he pick me first to go on stage? I assumed that he had to have read something deeper than just the fact that I didn't make eye contact with him. Perhaps he saw me falling asleep before the lights came up, and just wanted to make sure I didn't fall asleep again during the performance. But I had thought that it was something deeper.

I don't even know what I was doing on Manhattan. It had been in the back of my mind ever since I watched the movie ROMANCING THE STONE for the very first time. You know that iconic scene in the end where Douglas's character sails-(ish) a boat down a busy street on Manhattan? I thought to myself, if that boat can fit in there, I must surely be able to as well.---
Actually, I'm not sure if I can remember the first time I watched that movie - it was one of the FEW movies that I watched on repeat at my mother's house as a child when she could not afford basic cable and the three channels on the TV were all shit. She only had like fifteen VHS tapes, and I've seen them probably thousands of times.

I think, in hindsight, that my trip to Manhattan Island was a pilgrimage of sorts. Not a religious pilgrimage, although I found myself constantly mouthing the words "Is God real" over and over. It was a pilgrimage that took me to the places that have inspired me the most up until this point in my life, those being: the Daily Show, the New York Times, Broadway, HBO, the Subway (the train not the sandwich, although I really like the sandwiches too), and Ground Zero.

Along with that came an instagram of Casey Neistat's famous studio and BEME HQ, a selfie with Roy Wood Jr., a window into my father's generation with A TRIP OF LOVE (I assume the same experience he had of his father when watching the HBO series THE PACIFIC for the first time), shaking hands with Christian Borle and Joey Calveri.

So many people, in so many ways, have convinced me that New York City is going to be the next leg of my life. My next step up.

I met a Staff Sergeant who told me a story of a young boy from Puerto Rico, living in Miami, who got in the hugest argument of his life with his then-girlfriend, and decided to pack everything that he owned and move to New York. Now he makes more money than anyone he knows.

I met a security guard who said that after his deployment, he was lost and confused, his contract was finished. He saw that Jon Stewart had started a program for war veterans called the Veterans Immersion Program. He applied, and he's been working for the Daily Show ever since.

But I also ran across those in the depths of their despair.

When I was in the Post Office across the street from Madison Square Garden, I was standing in front of a woman in line who commented on how heavy my pack seemed to her. I told her that everything I needed "to start a new life" was in this backpack. She told me how that made her slightly jealous, both of my age, and of my conviction to listen to the voice in my head telling me to wander. Her name was Lois, and she was at a complete fucking loss as to what to do with her late husband's old things, because they all reminded her of him. I asked her who her husband was: "Joe Franklin."


I told her exactly the same thing that I wrote down in my journal at the end of SOMETHING ROTTEN: "Follow your heart." And I suggested that she use the same service that Tom Hanks used to auction off his old typewriters, and that the proceeds go to benefit the education of future comedians and actors. And then I gave her an awkward hug.

When I was in the Port Authority Bus Terminal - I spent WAAYY to much time in that building - I ran across so many homeless people it makes my mind boggle still. How many people have moved to this city to live their dreams and wind up like this? "Too many" one of them told me when I was interviewing him for my podcast. This island, to an extent unlike any other in the world, is just a fucking game. A game of real estate barons gambling with evaluations and landing their dice on the futures of their tenants. The scene at the end of Men In Black makes SO MUCH more sense to me now. This game is a jungle circlejerk of the highest order.

From what I could gather during this interview, it works like this: your neighborhood is nice. And as such, there are no homeless shelters in your neighborhood. And as such, the homeless population in your neighborhood is decidedly less than other neighborhoods. Until the time which these masters of estate decide to shake up the board. They move the shelters, and now your formerly-nice neighborhood is dominated with homelessness. With that, your apartment costs stagnate, but in the neighborhoods where the shelters used to be, the prices go up due to their "cleanliness." The affluent move in. The homeless population is forced out of that neighborhood. But the board shakes again, and the homeless are moved somewhere else. You're left in the same apartment, but your prices now skyrocket. You have two choices: move, or go homeless yourself.

This island is indifferent. What I mean by that is that it really seems to me that this island could literally give a shit if you are white or black or hispanic or poor or rich or catholic or jewish. Everyone gets slapped in the face eventually by this island.

The emotions felt on Manhattan are the magnifications of those I've felt anywhere else in the world.

When I feel sadness elsewhere, tears come to my eyes. But when I got to the reflection pools on my second night here, I collapsed in the same way I had done so many years ago on the cat-urine. I could not move. I had been planning on visiting the site when it was open, but my insomniac legs just carried me there from Hell's Kitchen at around 2am. So much pain. And washed out of me were all of the same unanswerable totalitarian questions that have been driving my nihilisticisms since that day; why, how could anyone do this to someone else, why, why, why? And along came a security guard, saw me there on the ground, outside the ropes, and I assumed that he was going to offer help.

But this isn't any other city in America. This is New York City. And this was when I learned the true nature of this city: instead of offering any sort of help, this security guard told me: "the park's closed."

I looked up. And perhaps this was the best thing that anyone could have said to me at that moment, because I stopped crying. My pain was gone instantly, and replaced by... annoyance. I could have punched him in the face. I could have given him the middle, and I so desperately felt like it. But I did not. Instead, I said these words: "I know the park's closed." I stood up, told him I would come back in the morning, and left. I grabbed a McFlurry.

I never went back to Ground Zero.

When I feel excited elsewhere, it barely registers externally. There are things that I get passionate about, like politics and music and writing and books and comedy. And I was able to contain myself when I met Robert Gates at my university, and composure is usually my pro-word in all things, especially as I am now regularly interviewing guests for my podcast. But only on Manhattan Island, when I was standing in the entrance to the set of the Daily Show, I nearly collapsed. Again. But this time, my body was feeling a type of excitement that I had no idea was possible. It has dawned on me that this show has been a better guide through my dark times and heartaches than God himself. Snot and tears were running down the side of my face, and in that same voice a master chef might use after the first bite of his most delicious meal, I told the ushers: "Yes, I'm fine. I'm just fine." But I was honestly much more than fine. I was exuberant.

When I feel fear in other places, it grips me as an old friend might when he tells you that your life is now so different. When a girl looks you in the eyes and says that she's no longer in love with you. But here, when I ran out of money for the MTA on my third night, and discovered that I was in overdraft due to my stupid math - I nearly collapsed - AGAIN. And this time, I was gripped with a fear immeasurable to anything else that I've ever felt before in my life.

And with that came a flood of emotions to include self-loathing, confusion, and anger. I found an unseen corner of that MTA terminal, and fell asleep.

But through it all, I had one thing that so many others coming to this place do not: I had a way out. And so, last night that Staff Sergeant spotted me 20 dollars so that I could get to the airport in Philadelphia. Now it is here that I sit, until midnight on the 15th, when my paycheck comes in, at which point, I will be purchasing a ticket back to Washington State so that I can do some more work for my own National Guard Unit and reflect more on what it is that I've learned here.

What did I learn? Three things:
1: Follow my heart.
2: Inspiration is everywhere.
3: Just ask questions.

But right before I left, I had about three hours to kill before the Greyhound came into the station. I used this time to walk down to Casey Neistat's studio and Beme HQ. I have been watching his vlogs regularly since Christmas, and I've seen every episode he's ever made. Ultimately it was something he said in one of his videos that convinced me to fly out here: "there are a thousand reasons why not to do something. Only one reason to do it."

And when I got there, and I saw the building for the first time, I realized something deep in my bones. This, all of this, this was his dream. Not mine. He might have been the catalyst added on top of a million other adventure movies I've seen - to include THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY which was the reason I went to Honolulu last year - that made me come out here and see what it was like. But that's all I really did. That's all I really was - I was a vagabond, filling a desperate itch to see and experience a new form of life for a while. I was on vacation - although, admittedly, most travelers don't sleep with homeless people.

One day I will come back here. I do not know if this is where I belong. There are certainly plenty more jobs here than at home, but too many ways to spend that money earned.

I should think, however, that if I were GUARANTEED a job and an apartment, and that was a rock-solid guarantee, then I would move here. But nothing in New York is that permanent.

But when I come back, it will most likely just be part two: my entire time here, I never went any further North than 47th Street.