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Tuesday, March 8, 2011


They say the two of the most stressful times in a person's life are getting married and moving.  And we're doing both.  We close on Thursday, at which time I will become a first-time homeowner.  Along with my brother and sister, I actually owned my mom's condo in CT after she died, because she left it to us.  (Because she was awesome and always made sure we were taken care of.)  This feels a little different. Maybe it's because I have a kid of my own now, or that the house is big, like the one I grew up in, grey and square and big, though this one doesn't come with a pond and big field to play ball.  It also doesn't come with my father, so I guess we'll call that one a draw.

So for the next week or so, writing is going to be tough.  I have finally decided on a plot for my next novel, and am still moving forward with plans for a new memoir. Not having written jackshit for the last year means I have a stockpile of ideas, or incentive, or ambition.  Or whatever.


We're hiring movers, since I am a complete fucktard when it comes to most practical enterprises, like balancing a checkbook and unscrewing bed posts.  It is true that I am good at lifting heavy things, but just the thought of all that disassembling and reassembling gives me a panic attack.  The last piece of furniture I tried putting together was a drawing desk Justine bought me for my birthday a couple years ago. It was a simple desk with a metal bottom and wood top.  It ended up taking me four hours, and I eventually gave up and used wood glue.

So we're finding someone else to pack us up into our new house.  Every company Justine calls talks about "using professional movers" and "not day laborers."  Which is pretty funny.  "Moving furniture" generally isn't a career path.  In fact, I used to do that job.  Not the resembling part so much, but the heavy lifting, up and down stairs, the driving around with other less-than-employable ex convicts, addicts, and dropouts.  I wasn't even so good at heavy lifting in those days.  I weighted probably fifty, sixty pounds less than I do now, which would've put me around 160, and had a slight drug problem.  This was during the month or so I tried reuniting with my first wife, Hadley, in Rochester, MN.

I glossed over this part in the first memoir, when we lived at the Candlelight Inn, which despite the bourgeois name was as bad as any skid row SF residency hotel. OK, maybe not as bad.  But pretty fucking bad.  I talked about one of the temp jobs I had on a farm, but I had quite a few of them.  'Cause they're temp job, temporary, meaning a new shit assignment every day.

I'd come out to Minnesota because, well, I loved my wife very much.  I really did, and it sounds stupid now to talk about wanting to "make it work," because she was schizo-affective and we had that drug problem and all, but we were still people, and we had dreams and hopes and believed in the possibility of a better tomorrow, just like regular people.

I would've been around 27, I think.  It was a miserable time, just floating, drifting, really, San Francisco, back east to rehab, hang out at my mother's, driving her crazy, stealing her checks, until she'd say it was time to go, then back across the country on a bus, finding people who still had apartments and were dumb enough to let me crash on their floor.

My brother had an "extra" truck.  That he allowed me to take the truck under my promise of making payments has proven to be a sticking point between us ever since.  I, of course, didn't make payments, and now every time we fight, despite my being years sober, Josh will still bring it up.  We're going on fifteen years now.

I'd spent the summer in CT, shooting up in the basement, playing rock 'n' roll with my old band (whose equipment I'd hock and then have to get out in time before the next practice), smoking cigarettes, wearing out my welcome (which does beat being alone).  Since it was my mom's house, there was probably food, so I may've actually been a little heavier than I remember, but not like I am now.

Then one day in September or November, maybe August or October, who knows, I took off to meet my wife.  I'd tried to kick first, heading back to Brattleboro, but after a few days, I was out the door.  The time hadn't done anything to soften the withdrawal, which hit sometime in Illinois, as I drove in my brother's green ranger, chain smoking and listening to the blues, because every Chicago radio station seemed to play them.  By the time I found my wife's place, a one-room dump she was sharing with a girl she'd met in rehab, I was a shaking, sweating mess.  My presence was not appreciated by the roommate, who kicked us out, and so we lived in my truck for a few days, until I'd saved enough money working day labor.

My jobs included working on the assembly line at this factory that pre-packaged meals.  Nothing good.  Like carrots and celery and peanut butter, maybe apples, but cheap, crappy apples and produce.  But that job was cool because they let take one of these packages for a free lunch.  And since I had nothing, a free lunch was pretty good.  Beside the corn farm, I also worked as a a maid and a mover.  I worked with this really interesting recovering alcoholic/Jesus freak.  In those days, I was pretty anti-God, but I remember being really taken by this guy.  Hadley met him and thought he was stupid.

The temp agency paid me daily, which was the only real perk of the gig, and then I'd pay our rent at night.  We lived on Taco Bell for a month.  I'd save a buck here or there to buy drugs, but I had to work quite a few days to do that, so I was always pretty sick.  On day they sent me to dig ditches.  Literally.  My job was to dig a ditch, they'd drop in a wire, and I'd fill the whole back up.  I worked that day with this Nigerian kid, seventeen, maybe eighteen, busted his balls all day, and he talked about how this job was the best job because they let him work overtime, and so some days he made almost $100.  A usual payday at this temp agency netted me around $40, so this kid had to be working pretty much round the clock.  And he was so damn happy just to be given the chance.


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