when a child is born in the Slabs, it’s not a cause for celebration. two ambulances (one for the mother and one for the baby, who is being taken away) and three police cars. sometimes it’s hard to keep my faith in humanity when so many of those surrounding me are setting each other’s camps on fire, losing their teeth and their organs to methamphetamine, alcohol and bad hygiene. one day a guy in a van with AZ plates starts putting together a nice little camp nearby; next day there are two ambulances out there responding to reports of a stabbing, and the sheriff and an investigator come around asking me questions. there’s a beautiful, noble young woman dying of cancer. an old man who’s been dumped here by his family. the hot spring is being converted by tourists into a creepy, free-for-all hangout. my best friends are, at best, hopeless alcoholics or living with some sort of psychosociological dysfunction. many come out here to die. but i’m here to live, and to thrive; i have drawn my line in the sand, i have pushed all my chips into the middle. there is more entropy and sabi here than is generally considered wholesome. sometimes it gets to me. like today. and they wonder why i keep to myself and keep the guns clean. Slab City is a slippery slope, and at times i feel myself losing my balance.