Monday, September 25, 2006

Hey Readers! I hope you didn't think that with the lack of email
traffic that I was dead, or like many of you suspected,
kidnapped by guerilla fighters. No, I'm not dead, but if I were you all
can duke it out over who gets to write the nostalgic,
accurate-but-still-flattering memoir of me that reveals the true genius
under-appreciated while on earth.

Short memo to the author: I would really like more prominent pectoral
muscles. Just a suggestion to cement the legend.

Most importantly, please make sure the title is as follows:
"Intelligent, Irreverent, Irresistible: How Adam Boardman cut a
smoldering swath through Global female culture."

But since I am not dead, yet -though I have certainly come close a few
times in the last year- you, lucky reader, get this instead:

Two months in the making, the final, final email!

The last time I wrote you I was braving massive reverse culture-shock
and the post-pregnancy realities of my sister and her friends (e.g.
needy infants, needy mom-egos). So let's pick it up there: after
Conntecticccutt, I met up with a friend I made in Bolivia, a freelance
journalist named Ramona. Just to give you an idea of what kind of lady
we are dealing with, Ramona grew up in East Germany. We are talking
oppression, corruption, isolationism, government-controlled media
propaganda with heavy handed messages and bad graphic design, etc.

In other words, Fox News, except you can't change the station.

The horror!

Her post Wall-coming-down wanderlust took the form of riding a
motorcycle, around the world. For most of us, this is absurd and
outrageous. The thought of giving up making 401(k)
contributions for that long just makes us too nervous.

For those of us who would try it, being almost completely new to the
sport would mean we would start with a moderate challenge under
favorable conditions with lots of support when things went wrong,
right?.

Not Ramona. Her self-chosen rookie mission: crossing the
convenience-store-free, brutal vastness of the Sahara desert.

Even in the gritty world of tough international travelers, Ramona is
not, by any means, your average customer. Should you ever need
someone to ride a motorcycle across your local continent via barely
passable backroads and produce something publishable,
all the while effortlessly exercising good style and taste, she is your
girl.

I saw her at work. Tough as nails, forever ready to laugh, and always
choosing prosciutto and scotch over the cold cuts and budweiser.
Furthermore, I don't know anyone more able and ready to kill with a
beer bottle.

Her victim: a wide mouth bass that was flopping between us and dinner.
All that motion was getting in the way of the gutting and frying. Like
a true assassin, she did not hesitate when I did to put our soon-to-be dinner out of its misery.

As for how this lady/killer (The Boardman being the only true
ladykiller in these emails) came into my life, we actually met
on a bus on the way to Lake Titicaca.

Yet another lesson of my travels: Fate happens.

For some reason the bus broke down in the middle of a 12 hour bus ride
in the Bolivian Altiplano. Regardless of cause -if being a Bolivian
bus wasn't enough- the result was that when we changed buses at 8 AM
the
30-something-marginally-smelly-for-someone-sitting-next-to-Adam-on-a-bus
campesino (South American for Hick carrying plastic bags) could be
replaced by Ms. Adventure in the seat next to me.

At which point something clicked (other than the bus' transmission
cracking). Stone cold sober, VERY early in the morning, after 14 hours
of bus riding, and my charm still worked enough for her to get off the
bus with me.

I know what you are thinking: "Before Sunrise," but with Bad breath,
stubble, crusty eyes. None of it phases me. Ethan Hawke could only
hope for such charm.

I know what else you are thinking: I really should teach classes on
this (or at least buy my book).

As Fate, which seems to be taking charge in my life, would have
it, we found ourselves in New England at the same time. Ramona invited
me to jump on the back of her motorcycle for a few days of cruising
around the New England countryside, on the condition that I take a
shower this time.

Lesson #1: Fearless charm and a shower is better than fearless charm
alone.

Always looking for new experiences and adventure (I hope you are too,
unless that cubicle is still getting your motor running like it always
has), I of course agreed. In all honesty I did not know what to expect.
4 days on the back of a motorcycle with a hot biker-girl driving?
Didn't my mother warn me about this? More importantly, is that even
remotely masculine?

We geared up and set off from Greenwich Village on her BMW GS 1200,
into the sweltering cauldron of mid-day weekend traffic. Riding on the
back of a bike takes some getting used to, and while stuck in traffic,
sweating from both the heat and nerves. Immediately, I was convinced I
was going to die doing this, and worst of all, the horror of how my
mother would have been right about motorcycles the whole time.

Let me say that to my mother, motorcycles were like a BB guns in
"A Christmas Story," and at at that moment all I could hear was a
chorus of something akin to "you'll shoot your eye out." Fear was
hitting me hard, but like many of you I feared the maternal "I told you
so" rather than, say, being maimed by a commodities trader on vacation
not looking before changing lanes in his Lincoln Navigator.

Apparently life was trying to teach me something. Other than that no
matter who you are at some point in your life when you are
nervous enough the re-assurance value of an adult diaper becomes clear.


My anxiety peaking, unsure what to make of my situation, being mindful
of no absorbent undergarments to depend on, at that very moment we pass
a BMW billboard along the East River-and I swear I am not making this
up- which said "If it doesn't scare the jeebies out of you, it is
probably not a very good idea."

EXACTLY what life needed to remind me at that point: to really live you
need to challenge yourself, which means taking risks, which means
facing fears.

As I have been shown repeatedly over the last year, fear is often a the
best indicator of when something is going to be nothing short of
incredible. Looking back, I can say that I have never once regretted
facing a fear. When I do, I come out okay and I take the power away
from what I was afraid of. The hard part is understanding of WHAT it
is you are really afraid. For us Americans it can be the bogeymen of
"health benefits" or "steady paycheck" or "I won't be able to find
another job." It could also be "what if I fail?" or "Maybe other crazy
people like Adam Boardman, but I can't do that."

We are as free as we allow ourselves to be. Think about that next time
you feel trapped. Regardless of how well we (Yankees, that is) embody
it now, freedom was the primary value that led to the founding of our
country. We seem to be driven not only as a society, but speaking
firsthand here, as individuals to a fear-driven surrender of our
freedom for "security."

I don't usually quote deaf people, you know, since it really is in bad
taste making one's voice sound funny while doing so, but Helen Keller
got it right when she sad "Security is a myth." A myth to which, in
the modern world, it is oh-so-easy to get paralyzingly attached.

Fears, once faced, teach us a lot: Over the last year I learned a lot
about what Adam can actually do (The Answer: A lot more than I
thought).

The best definition of courage is "the ability to do what needs to be
done." For me, that is embracing freedom and following my own path,
which of course I wish for all of you. You'll learn, and do, more than
you can imagine.

Facing the fear and embracing, in this more recent case, "freedom on
two wheels," I have also learned a lot about motorcycles.

Knowing what I now know about moto-culture, I can say with complete
confidence that I was the only man passengering (aka "riding bitch") in
all of New England that weekend.

In fact, maybe ever.

Beforehand I didn't really think much of how this pretty much NEVER
happens. In fact, I thought riding bitch with a girl driving was a
progressive, outside-the-box-secure-guy move (more about that in the
biography). You know, the opposite of height adjusting suspension kits
with large sub-woofers, or, say, voting Republican. Furthermore, I
figured it meant I was cool by association because *obviously* I had
found an exceptionally awesome girl.

Despite all this mental preparation, the moment of truth came as we
passed gangs of burly biker dudes. They see a cute girl driving a huge
bike with...is that a guy on the back? I suddenly couldn't help but
feel anything short of, you guessed it, completely emasculated.

I might as well have been wearing a sign:

"Hey guys! Please pull me off the back of this bike and kick my
bitch-ass! I'm pretty much asking for it!"

Thankfully they didn't. If they did, I knew Ramona was there with a
beer bottle to invoke fear and death. As we rode on through the New
England backroads, I hoped we would avoid confrontation until we met
the gang of aggressive, macho NE lake fish who wanted to teach me a
lesson.

Just imagine, Ramona Bruce Lee-ing their scaly asses just like that
scene in Kill Bill, wielding an empty Heineken bottle with fearless
mastery, fighting her way through the mediocre minions and finally
reaching the advanced specialty fighting wide mouthed bass, armed with
pointy reeds and pieces of propellers, some missing an eye and wearing
a patch made out of old fishing lures over it to add to their mystique.
They would be totally tough and scary, but nothing compared to the
green glassy fate that awaited them.

Then I realized that the emasculation of riding on the back of a
motorcycle with a girl driving is nothing compared to conjuring up
fantasies where the girl saves you from a gang of menacing lake-fish.

Before you judge just remember that I have to live a mind that comes up
with this stuff.

As for the biker dudes, I would bet they were probably just staring and
wondering how I got onto the same bike as this not-enormously-puffy-and
gross-like-their-biker-girlfriends girl, but I guess we'll never know.

Regardless, everything turned out great. I survived both the riding
and the stares of the leather-and-bandana crowd, and after a few more
weeks of Manny duty in the CT with my sis and Moira, I headed back to
Seattle. All of my worldly possessions were still there and I had to do
something with them before moving on.

Yes, I said it; I am moving on from the Big Rainy. I am finally
heeding the calls of California, beckoning me home to its sunny,
Terminator-governed embrace.

Seattle has been great, and I will miss my friends there, but the
"charm" of the inevitable crushing depression of endless gray skies for
7 months a year eventually wore off.

Be careful non-natives, Seattle people get pretty defensive when you
bring that up, in that "You are making it harder for me to deny how
crushingly depressed I get every year" kind of way. I will concede
that yes, summers, KEXP, and the market are all great, but I knew
before I left for SA that the Boardman needed a change.

I originally considered making New York City my next home, but no
matter which map I checked, it just wasn't in California.

Not just anywhere in California, but to the gasping, argumentative
horror of my Seattle friends, Los Angeles.

Bill Hicks jokingly called LA "Satan's Asshole." Judging from their
responses when I told them I was moving there, most Seattle-ites agree.

Why LA? I was born here and it's sunny. Isn't that reason enough? I
should mention there is also a professional draw: I am going into
comedy. At this point that could mean writing, stand-up, production,
or whatever else works best for me. I knew before I even left on this
trip that I needed some changes, so what better time than now to make
them?

My journey south certainly provided the time and distance I needed to
do some thinking. While in Bolivia, I sent a postcard to my friend
JB. It read "Well, I have been making some progress on the career
front. At this point, all I know is that I want to be: funny." All of
my professional direction boils down to two words. Be: funny.

Soooooooooo we will see what happens, but the way I look at it, having
it all figured out just kills the adventure.

Who knows, maybe I will be the next Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Mel
Brooks, or one of the other great Jewish comedians, and I am not going
to let not being Jewish stop me. Maybe some day Mel Gibson will
mention my name into a drunken rant. Do I dare dream so big?

The outlook is promising: Having been told that I look Jewish, seem
Jewish, or have a Jewish sounding name, a few of you have even said
that on occasion I say something funny, so I figure I can skate by on
the first three and work on the last.

From whom am I hearing this, you might ask? My Jewish friends and the
lovely Jewish women I have met (none of whom, for the record, I have
dated) all seem to think so.

In fact, I'm looking forward to meeting more of these women in LA and
watching them swing from "Wow, I'm flirting with an attractive,
charming Jewish man I can introduce to my mother!" to a disappointed
"Really? Are you sure you aren't Jewish? I mean, are you REALLY sure?"

Just in case I was momentarily confused and they could remind me back
into their potential dating pool. I guess having dark features and
being vaguely neurotic gets them confused sometimes.

So there you have it, the Boardman is back in the US of A and as of two
weeks ago I am in Los Angeles. I moved here with no job, no car, no
apt, limited connections and an even more limited, post world-travels
bank account. So far, it is working out great. For the record, You
are all invited to come visit.

If you have a friend who is looking for a staff writer or needs a
house-sitter for their place in Malibu, Call 206-484-3350 (that's my
celphone).

Most of all, THANK YOU to all of you for reading these emails. THANK
YOU for all of your wonderful feedback and encouragement. Your emails
and letters meant so much to me. This year has been crazy, wonderful,
terrifying, and transformational, but most of all I know that I
couldn't have done it without each and every one of you.

Much love,
Adam

P.S. This is that section of the book that most of you will skip over
anyway, or maybe gloss to see if your name is mentioned. If you want
to take your chances, keep reading.

Even if it looks like I am lone wolf international man of mystery, this
adventure was the result of me receiving a lot of help and support. So
many people have helped me, encouraged me, and been there for me, but a
few I want to mention for outstanding support:

A big thank you to Matt Robinson for more things than I can fit into an
email, but specifically for being a tremendous friend and managing all
of my financial and personal business. Matt, I can not be more
emphatic when I say that I could not have done it without you, and I
can not imagine how I could even begin to return the favor. If nothing
else, I hope I can be as good of a friend to you as you have been to
me.

To my sister Erin for all of your love and support and always taking my
calls, despite the suspicions of your redneck husband, none of which
were for bail money. Even if on some level you will always be my grody
older sister, you are a dear friend to me.

To each member of the Waterman family for always believing in me,
directing me towards South America, and helping me get moving.
That and being generally fabulous, of course. Not everyone gets to be
part of two families, but you make me feel like I do.

Andy: Your phone call in October is what really put this into motion;
your energy and ability to engage people rubbed off on me and paid huge
dividends. Your words of "ask for help" opened countless doors for me.

JB: You're right, it is always worth it to get in the water and see
the view from the top. When will Asia be more than just a feeling?

Karla and Gary: your endless support and encouragement mean the world
to me. You are true friends and I so thankful to have you in my life.
Thank you!

Charley: your photos of Cerro Torre did more than just look incredible,
they inspired me to stay focused on getting out there.

To the WONDERFUL Kathy J for the creative mojo, love, and being such a
wonderful friend. To Pat and Barbara for not letting me forget what's
important AND letting me sleep in their guestroom for two weeks while I
am getting started. To the Liebenthals for all their help in Buenos
Aires, to JB and Ian Mackay who got me into the mountains and to get in
the water, to Mary B for reminding me to breathe (and why we bother in
the first place), to Trisha for words that resonated with me every
moment, to my grandmother for encouraging me to travel, my mom for not
worrying and always loving me.

All of these emails have been posted to theboardman.blogspot.com. If I
can kick this rotten laziness and procrastination, I will keep posting
to it indefinitely. Until then, take care and keep in touch!