What did I hear about you living under a bridge for a while?
Yeah, for a few months. It was great. The Ashland Avenue bridge over the river, by Ashland and Fullerton. It’s actually two bridges because there’s Ashland Avenue and then Webster Avenue, so it’s kind of an L bridge.
When I was in my late teens, probably, one of my friends took me down to this—it’s basically like a huge building under the bridge. The bridge used to go up and down, and they would have these huge concrete ballasts, and they needed these enormous rings for all the gears and stuff. So I would hop a little fence and then had to scramble down this little hill and then go around this fence and do some climbing, and then do some tricky climbing, and then you get into this place.
There’s like this one cavernous room, absolutely huge, and then a bunch of little rooms off of it, and then another fairly cavernous room. It was a huge space, and I started hanging out there in my late teens. It was popular with graffiti artists, ‘cause it was a totally private place for them to paint. Somebody had rigged up electricity, so there were lights in there and stuff.
Very few people ever seemed to go there. I guess me and two of my friends camped out there for a few days, maybe just for fun. I don’t even remember. And then it just turned into a place to live. I lived there by myself for three months, then I lived there with a couple friends for two months the next year.
It was great. We brought a bunch of stuff there and built furniture. I ended up living there with this guy who was kind of my boyfriend, and we had a little bedroom, and we made a bed out of milk crates—we lashed a bunch of milk crates together. And we had a nightstand, and we had a radio and a typewriter. It was like a little house. It was great to wake up in the morning and yawn and stretch and step out. The river is right there. That was usually great. The river often smelled pretty bad.
When I lived there by myself a couple of months, that was pretty intense solitude. And that was pretty nice. Six or seven years ago. I was in my early-mid twenties, I guess. Basically the two times that I lived there, first by myself and then with other people, I had rooms in two different parts of the building.
Why did you move out the first time?
The first time I guess I just went traveling, I left town for a few months. And then the next year when I was living there with friends and we got kicked out by the bridge authority. Then they put up more fences, so we couldn’t really get in anymore.
So you lived there for a total of how long?
Probably five or six months. When I was living there I had a job, too. It was definitely a weird time. I was working at the Music Box Theatre. I’d have to come into the theatre and give myself a sink bath, because I would get really dirty living down there. They never knew that I was basically homeless.
That’s interesting. Did you think of it as being homeless, or squatting, or super-alternative living?
That’s a good question. I don’t know if I’d put a name to it back then. I guess now I would think of it as squatting. I’ve had more exposure to that idea. I don’t know if I had a name for it back then.
Hm. Well, do you have anything else you want to tell people?
I guess I would want to express that I’m just giving you some greatest hits of weird shit I’ve done or that’s been in my life. But it all seems pretty normal to me.
I mostly don’t know what I’m doing in my life. On the whole, that’s probably not a good thing, but in a small way I think it is a good thing because I open myself to different types of situations, that I might not open myself to if I felt I was on a clearly defined path.
This is the first time I’ve ever been interviewed, I think. I’ve always secretly wanted to be interviewed.
What kinds of questions would you like asked of yourself?
I would probably be really hard on myself, like, What are you doing with your life? What are your goals? I tend to be very hard on myself. I was interviewing myself, I would grill myself like that.
Does it bother you that you don’t know what you’re doing most of the time?
A little bit but not too much. I’d say, it’s partly that I don’t know what I’m doing and partly that I’m just lazy, I guess. I’m not sure how much of either of those things.