Plywood and Heartbreak: Year of the Mad Dog

February 10, 2021 at 12:45 pm (The Easy Chair)

The year of 2020; it was something, wasn’t it? I’ve been meaning to do a year in review, but I wanted to make sure I lived through it first.

So, how you doin’? At the risk of sounding smug, all things considered, I had a pretty good year.

I didn’t come out unscathed, though. My sister was walking past my open door, and looked in. “Are you okay? You look depressed, like it’s the end of the world…”

The woman knows me. I have been spending a lot of time thinking about both.

Before anyone gets too concerned, I’m not talking Taxi Driver stuff here. My usually chipper ass has been down in the dumps, for reasons shared by many. The pandemic, loss of loved ones, whether because of sickness or just plain life. I miss Rain. I miss Mizelle, who is still around but has been scarce since the airlines shut down.

I miss downtown. I’m still there, the last light on, but goddamn! It’s a never-ending maze of plywood and graffiti, with only drugged-out zombies and kiddie-bike-riding forty-year-old tweakers for company. On the rare night when the normal people come out? That’s when I remember why I’ve done what I’ve done for forty years. It’s fun!

That’s part of the depression. The sadness? The end of the world thingy? End of the world happens for people every day. When I was a young’un, I thought if I lived until sixty I’d have had a good life. (And I was right.) I’m in pretty good shape at 59, doing better than the sixty-year-olds my parents knew. My problem these days is… even in a best case scenario, I have twenty or thirty years left. Then it’s death, the one life event I’m not going to be able to squirm out of.

I’m not scared of dying, not that I’m in a hurry. I figure most likely the lights will go out some day and I won’t give a good goddamn when it does. My problem with it? I don’t want to miss out on all the fun!

I’ve been spending too much time what-iffing. I need to focus on the present, not the inevitable. Those first steps are the hardest, and my knee hurts. But once I get going…

Sounds like the bars are reopening this weekend. All my “drinking buddies” will be back, but I won’t recognize them at first, because masks, and they’ve all gained weight. (I’ve no room to talk, everything is tight these days.) I can flirt with girls who don’t have three personalities manifesting!

Time to get on the old sterile bus and roll toward the dirty sunset.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Old Man Problems Part III

January 31, 2020 at 11:40 am (The Easy Chair)

And then there’s the technology problem with video…

Once upon a time, I had a snazzy video/audio setup with DVD/VHS capabilities, patched together with big screen TV, wired through the stereo and huge homemade speakers. I learned how to copy films for later viewing, creating a hefty personal library, including many, many concert videos. I got to where I preferred sitting alone in my room, rocking the house while smoking and drinking to my quivering heart’s content. That ain’t happening no more.

My Blu-Ray setup is great for watching movies, even if you end up seeing stuff like Django’s pancake makeup, or The Dollarhyde cleft-palate that’s actually a wad of flesh-colored gum. But I hardly use it. I have all this other shit to watch on cable…

Except I don’t. I’d subscribed to a bunch of movie channels, because at one time I could always find something interesting. I sat down one night, went through all 3,409 choices, and found three I might want to watch again. Again. I’d already seen what I want.

So I called up cable, and culled about $70 off the bill. I kept HBO, only because of Bill Maher. (I have to get real news somewhere.) I had not watched any of the channels I’d removed. I should do this thinning of the herd thing more often.

But now what? Where will I find uncut, subversive R-Rated fare to watch at 2 AM?

Netflix, of course.

I’d wanted to see The Irishman, but missed the one Saturday showing at the Hollywood Theater. Just as well. I can barely sit through a ninety-minute film any more, thanks to the low attention spans set by smartphones and such. At four hours, I’d have given up at some point. Watching at home? I can pause, make a sandwich. And… I can burn as many joints as necessary to get through this cinematic ordeal.

Except it wasn’t an ordeal. It was like hanging out with friends you’ve known and loved for forty years. (It reminded me of road trips with my cousin.) Robert DeNiro wasn’t mugging for the camera. (I hate his screwball comedies. Please…) Al Pacino was so good I forgot I was watching Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci? They must have had him on Thorazine, because he was a gentleman through the whole movie. Albeit a very dangerous gentleman. Four hours flew by.

Netflix was good for a few other things, too. I saw The Highwaymen, with Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson as Texas Rangers hunting Bonnie and Clyde. I’d love to see this as a double feature with the late-’60s Arthur Penn film. I also saw the original Shaft, Superfly and a couple other movies from My Era. I had pretty good taste in cinema for a teenager.

But Netflix only had about a month’s worth of programming that excited me. I’d click through all the options three times, and end up watching Law and Order anyway. In fact, while watching Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans I couldn’t help noticing how Nic Cage looked and acted like a young Lennie Briscoe. (Before he got sober.) Fine. If I need variety, I can watch Law and Order: Panty Police.

So I cancelled Netflix, and immediately got half-price offers to rejoin. maybe in a month or so, when I can’t help but revisit my mobster buddies back east.

I’d better hurry. We’re all getting up in years…

Permalink Leave a Comment

Sunset Rising

December 31, 2019 at 11:55 am (The Easy Chair)

Sunset Rising

I’m feeling a bit mind-blown, as I sit here thinking about the past ten years. A lot has come down in that time. While end-of-year reviews are a favorite, I tend to get tired of them, and I know there is no end in sight. Or is there?

I’m almost sixty years old. I don’t feel that old, most of the time. I was musing the other day, to a woman I met when she was a sweet young thing. She’s still a sweet young thing, but now she’s also raising a sweet young thing. I mentioned how I’d known feisty, wild and crazy girls who ZOOMED past me in the maturity department. I’m still seventeen most of the time, in my head and heart. The crackling bones tell another story.

I fell in love, and while the love never died, the one I love did die. I still have a hard time thinking of her as gone. I still look for her to be smoking at the MAX stop by her old place.

While cleaning house, I found one of her stylish derbies, wrapped to be preserved from bugs and dust-bunnies. I took it to work, and called Bubba, her last regular boyfriend. He rolled up on a bicycle, and I gave it to him to put on his mantle.

“I have a picture of her wearing this,” he said.

I know he does, I gave it to him. We were on a bus, riding to the cemetery to visit her son. She was flipping off the camera, and smiling bigger than anyone should. But that was Rain. Always flipping the bird at authority figgers.

Tonight marks the end of the decade. Normally I would be working with Eva Braun, and the shift would be a busy but sedate affair. This year, however, Eva wanted to celebrate with her real husband instead of her work-husband, so Foxy and I will be maintaining status quo until the wee hours.

Hell, we might even get into mischief…

Permalink Leave a Comment

“Slow Ride, Take It Easy…”

April 14, 2017 at 9:00 am (Cussed Dumbers, The Easy Chair)

You know middle age is approaching when multiple people get excited about a toilet.

I introduce the Cadillac of toilets. We haven’t named it yet, but I’m thinking Pacific Princess. (It’s as big as the Love Boat!) The Nightclub Store has been getting some cosmetic surgery. MISTER Edamame is afraid he’s going to lose us as a tenant, so he’s been throwing money into the building. We have a new floor covering, linoleum that looks like hardwood and buffs up nice. There was nothing wrong with the floor! It had been replaced ten years ago, the whole floor, not just the linoleum. But if he’s buying…

How about something useful? Make the outside surveillance camera operable? (Oops, did I say that?) We have sixteen cameras inside, and he bitches about the wires, but says nothing about the busted camera that dangles from a cord from the awning outside. He had the laborers use a few zip-ties and corral the wires, painting some of them beige to match the wall.

When I heard we were getting a new toilet, I had mixed expectations. Since the previous remodel we’ve had this, this… kid’s toilet! It can’t be more than twelve inches off the floor. Our older employees take so long in there because they can’t get back up. And then there’s Art East, who is no fan. “Did an adult install that toilet? How the FUCK does anyone over four-feet tall keep from dipping their junk in the water every time they sit down?” He does a Lewis Black-worthy rant, and I wish I could do it justice. It’s hilarious.

I suppose I should keep my voice down, as these toilets fall into a gray area. See, they were made before the great “toilet-water act of 1993” or whenever economy-flush toilets became mandatory. MISTER Edamame bought a dozen or so cheap before they were pulled off the market, and saves them for times like this. In order to fix the little toilet, he would need a new piece of plumbing installed. (Costing $600.) So MISTER Edamame released his miserly grip just a bit, hooked up this huge, classic throne, and now we’re shittin’ in tall cotton!

It’s too bad Weird Steven no longer works with us. He lives/lived a block from the Nightclub Store, and it irked Grinder no end that he would come use the store bathroom instead of the community john at his hotel. (“He’s too cheap to buy toilet paper!” “He only works sixteen hours!”) Weird Steven got fired for not having a phone, and stopped coming around a couple months ago. If I offended him, I wish I know what I did, so I could do it again, before I apologize for whatever I did. His conversational blurbs were often interesting, and that whole “learn something new every day” rule of mine was easy to attain, because of his oddball factoids. Back in line in the hotel hallway, and don’t forget your TP.

It’s nice to have a comfortable bathroom for employee use. One can drop off a few friends at the poo’ without baptizing their bits, and without spending half an hour with a plunger getting rid of the evidence.

Want to use it? Fill out an application. Employees only. Spouses of employees only if the parking garage is the final option. I let Rain use the bathroom, but not if any rat co-workers are around. Giggles, notorious for his bathroom activities, has been spending 2-3 hours after work, poking around in the back. Eva finally laid down the law, “At 7:45 you get your stinky ass out of here!”

All praise the Porcelain Gods!

Permalink Leave a Comment

Greetings and Hallucinations: Ten Years Gone

April 1, 2017 at 5:30 am (The Easy Chair)

Good morning, everybody!

It’s Saturday, April First, AKA April Fool’s Day. It’s also the tenth anniversary of this blog. No foolin’.

I have always wanted to be a writer. (Actually, I’ve always wanted to be a rock star, but since I have no talent or musical training, I’ll be like Barry Manilow and write the songs that make the whole world sing.) Since the physical act of writing isn’t the part I enjoy, (creating the story/atmosphere/characters would be that,) I learned to parse my words and make sure it sounds correct before committing to paper. Once I read Stephen King’s tutorial in About Writing I made it my life’s mission to obtain a word processor.

First it was a Mac, up until OS 8.6, at which time I went turncoat and got a PC. I would compose on Wordpad, or something like it, copy and paste it into email form, and send it to a few friends and relatives. I’d just said goodbye to a three-year relationship, and thatgirl suggested I start a blog. “It will be a great outlet for you, and you can chronicle all your stuff in one spot.” I went to WordPress.com, started piddling around, and voila! (Or ‘Wallah!!!’ as the ignant would spell.) I am Big Daddy to my own website.

Eight-hundred-plus adventures later, I’m still at it. Not many folks have blogs, at least ones in current production. I don’t write as much as I want to, but that’s a lazy excuse. (Sometimes procrastination works for me; I have a tendency to want to write the story before it has played out. Hold your horses, Wilbur!) I must self-flagellate: (Flagellate means praise, right?) I do think my writing has improved over the years. Practice (plus reading stuff written by GOOD authors) doesn’t make perfect, but it does inspire improvement.

Yeah, I’m still at it, and in some ways the situation is much the same. I just finished a long-term relationship with a woman I still dearly love, but I’m finally okay with it because she has moved on and has someone to take care of her. It was the same ten years ago. Neither thatgirl or Rain need a man to take care of them, but once another came on the scene I felt comfortable taking my emotional leave. It’s the protector in me, I guess. It’s not my problem anymore.

So I have my pages here, to vent, confess, plot. I see no reason to stop now. Writing is therapeutic for me. I don’t have a lot of readers, but I do have a faithful core, and I love you guys! Hugs, hat tips, bong hits and booty calls! Take the ones that apply to you! (Keeping my butt to the wall when Grinder comes by, tho.) Big thanks to Art East, for his visual contributions and continual egging on. You bring out the devil in me, bud.

Thanks to Dr T. A recent check of my phone showed we have shared 3,178 texts, mostly involving work schedules and the Chicago Cubs. The next nearest persons with that many convos are Rain and Dizzy, with about 1,200. This made me go “Hmm…” until I realized I’d piled up so many messages from Dr T because I’d never gotten irritated and deleted all his messages. There’s much to be said for friendship. I treasure yours.

A hearty hello to my buddy back east, Uncle Jeff! I’m guessing you’re spending this Fool’s holiday shooting craps in Atlantic City. (I shot craps once, but Rain couldn’t figure out a tasty way to cook them.) Thank you for all you do. I love getting the east coast perspective.

And now, it’s time to venture off to Master P’s. I’m at the Nightclub Store until midnight, then I have three days off. I intend to make the most of it.

As my Australian friends would say, “Cheese might!” Here’s to another ten years, and may the stories only get better.

Permalink 3 Comments

“How’m I Doin’?”

March 3, 2017 at 1:30 pm (The Easy Chair)

preying-mantisFine, just fine.

March 1 brought change to my life. My relationship with Rain changed forever. We have friend-zoned each other. I think this is going to be fun.

I make light, but it hasn’t been exactly easy. For the last six years she’s been on the edge of every thought. Everything I do I would factor her in somehow. It’s all part of being in a relationship. We fell in love. It/we may not have been a traditional couple, but we were a fun, colorful couple. (I had to stop and change that to past-tense. Still used to it being “us/we.”) We were constantly in contact, when her phone wasn’t turned off or lost. And when that happened? We would meet by giving or knowing each others coordinates.

So when I have to wait five minutes for the bus, I don’t pull out my phone to call her, or text some mushy love note. I craved a cigarette. Wow, that’s where my tobacco habit transferred to? She was good for me in many ways. She kept my hands busy.

My last relationship, before Rain, was an off and on three years kinda thing. We still chat via internet on occasion, and I still love her like yesterday. She’s doing well, has been in a relationship for years, and I am happy for her. But I couldn’t let go of her until I knew she had someone. It’s been the same way with Rain. We’ve broken up a handful of times, but never because of someone else on her part. (My part? Whistles, glances heavenward…) Now that I know she has someone who makes her happy, I can let go a little bit. I’m still going to care what happens to her, and still going to miss her sometimes.

But I won’t miss waiting on her.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Xmas Comes Slowly This Year…

December 26, 2016 at 5:10 pm (The Easy Chair)

skulls-and-caddy

…But it comes!

I have most of the stuff I really need. I have a lot of stuff I want, or can get it without much effort. What I’ve wanted this year are not material goods. Peace in my soul and mind cannot be bought. While not in distress, I’ve felt better mentally.

I need a hug. Preferably from an old friend. Do Christmas wishes come true? Since Monday is also considered Christmas this year, I have until midnight to find out.

Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink Leave a Comment

Merry Xmas, Dahlinks

December 25, 2016 at 12:25 pm (The Easy Chair)

washing-machines

I was the first awake in the house. I skipped shaving. It’s Christmas and Sunday, for Chrissakes. Besides, I am on a mission.

I scooped up socks, stripped my bed. Stuffed an energy drink and fresh trash liner into the duffel bag, and loaded it into the granny cart.

Off to the light rail and the laundromat. Laundry is two weeks overdue, and strangers thinking I’m homeless are offering me blankets.

Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink Leave a Comment

Let There Be Light!

December 22, 2016 at 12:20 pm (The Easy Chair)

YamhillLamppostMy phone was ringing at 8 AM. Whoever on the line better be ready for an outburst. I don’t do morning, as Rain says.

“Hi, this is the electrician with REACH, we’d like to come take a look at your bathroom. Would an hour be okay?”

“Of course, but knock twice at least. We are day sleepers, and might be out of it…”

Last August, during the height of home repair ambitions, I attempted to swap out the light switch in the bathroom. Sister had pointed out that the wall was hot around the light switch, alarmingly so. After much internet research and a consultation with the carpenter neighbor, I tore into the wall and immediately regretted it. The wires didn’t match. I duct taped everything, and got the electricity turned back on just before sunset. Since that time we’ve been using a Coleman lantern in the bathroom. D batteries are expensive, but one set has lasted months. It’s better than a fire.

Soon, urban lumberjacks were invading the house with ladders and groovy tools. Drills with lights inspired Alien imagery as they poked through the attic. The old ceiling fan came out, looking an accordion made of dust. While one electrician worked in the crawlspace above, the other ran wires through the wall, and soon we had light over the bathroom sink. No more shaving like Ray Charles!

Once the electricians departed, and Luna came out from under Niece’s desk, I took the inaugural shower. A hot, steamy, fog-engulfed experience had been replaced with a completely dry mirror. The air was crisp by comparison. The mold on the ceiling might eventually go away after all…

It may not seem like much, but it’s the universe’s Xmas present to us. Our most gracious thanks to you, Universe. For light. For being. For everything.

Permalink Leave a Comment

A Long, Cold Winter

November 18, 2016 at 12:29 pm (The Easy Chair)

I’m cold.

I grew up in Sandy, Oregon, 25 miles from downtown Portland and about 50 miles to Mt Hood, elevation 978 feet. (Give or take. Dad always called it “a thousand feet.”) It was colder than sea level, but hardly arctic.

Growing up a fat kid, cold didn’t bother me. I never believed in that theory anyway; my skin is on the outside where the nerves are. But as I age and lose weight, it seems like I’m cold all the time.

It hasn’t been a problem the past couple years. Winters have been rainy but not cold, and I had Rain sleeping with me, so the body heat kept my room toasty. With her gone, it’s been cold around here more ways than one.

We have a super-efficient furnace installed by the Russians that lived here previously. It’s big, meant to heat a small business. We turn it on for ten-fifteen minutes and the whole house is good for hours. Except lately, when you turn the heater on, the gas builds up and creates a scary light show when it ignites. So Sister called a repairman, who claimed “it was just dirty. $118 please!” We have a call in to him, to come move the dirt around again so we can stop shivering.

Stoned, Cold

Stoned, Cold

I know, we’re in for a long winter if this 40-degree stuff is getting to me. But we haven’t had much cold weather. It’s been two years since I’ve worn The Great Pumpkin, but I won’t be cold if I break that out. It’s rated at -30 degrees. I’ll smoke a big fat one and slip into my Tang-colored poofy jacket. Say hi if you see me.

I was worried it was me, getting sick or something, but my niece and sister are huddling under the covers, and have made a deal with Luna. She’s guarding them furiously from the bed, all snuggling and watching cartoons until work time.

I’ve been keeping my room as warm as possible, using 60-watt bulbs in the lamp, leaving the computer on, etc… I feel like Tony Soprano wandering the property in my bathrobe. (Blue trenchcoat, not pink shorty. Rain made that bathrobe disappear. Waah.) By the time I get showered and layered up, it’ll be too goddamn hot on the bus and I’ll have to peel down.

I’m not as cold as my homeless friends. I have a roof. I have a family to keep me warm on the inside. I have a goofy dog who loves us in that unconditional way that dogs have. Luna’s growing, looks like a black Hee Haw dog. She bays at the moon when left alone, she sounds like a fire truck. Django the wandering tomcat has been spending more time at home lately. Guess he’s been getting cold too. The mice and Guinea pigs are low maintenance; happy to see us when we bring carrots and peanut butter.

Time to make the doughnuts! I’ve been steady working Friday and Saturday nights at the Nightclub Store, and I imagine tonight will be busy. Busy with thieves, scammers and those pretending to shop just to get out of the rain for a few minutes. “Snap to it, let’s go! Beep beep beep, buy your shit and get on outta here!”

There I go, being cold again…

Permalink Leave a Comment

Next page »