Situated inside a disintegrating studio, disintegrating because it is constructed of lath and plaster and is more than a hundred years old, I enjoyed a strange vacation week, a week the likes of which I haven't experienced since I was unemployed for three months during the spring of 2011.
But now the rat race beckons. Even though Monday is two days away, I can feel its tug already. So this morning, after reading yesterday's paper and a portion of the frontpage of today's, I set to tasks I've been puttering around the edges of all week. First up, the bathroom.
Listening to Eric Dolphy (there was a decent story the other day about the Library of Congress acquiring his papers) while washing windows, scrubbing the toilet bowl, mopping the floors with Lysol -- that, and sweeping out a small hallway leading to the bathroom and cleaning out a clothes closet therein -- left me with the impression that society as presently configured is insane. There is not enough time. We, the citizenry, are being compacted. There is the necessity to maintain an income, which means employment. This consumes more and more of our time. Then there are personal relationships, like the young couple on the street below my bathroom window strolling in the spring sun this Saturday morning, which for most constitute the next great expenditure of time. For me, not so. For me, it is information -- the never-ending battle to stay informed.
That is one of the reason cleaning the studio here is such a daunting chore. There are piles everywhere -- piles of books, newspapers, printouts, comics, scribbled notes, manila folders of projects years old. I worked with a German woman one time who said that she didn't like to keep books in the house because books were dirty. She said that they are magnets for dust. I have never forgotten that. I believe it to be true, particularly when you live in a building over one-hundred years old with walls of lath and plaster.
But I would rather live a life cradled in filth than one without books. I just need to clean more often, an unappealing prospect since that would require spending what little free time I have on the weekends behind a vacuum cleaner rather than reading. I presently work with a woman who lives in a trailer park, and that is how she spends most every weekend -- cleaning her home. She is a dispatcher. So her work week is stressful, demanding -- a lot of time on the phone with contractors and union members trying to get people to the job site. I have done that job. It is a high-adrenalin, tongue-chewing occupation that leaves you wrung out by day's end. To think that after a week of that one's free time is spent cleaning house -- that, for me, is too much. It is insane.
My unemployment spring of three years ago, which this vacation week has reminded me of, was due to a layoff from a dispatcher job I had with a carpenters local. In addition to keeping a log of my job searches, a condition of compliance with employment security in order to receive unemployment compensation, I decided to maintain a daily life log. It was a way to maintain sanity. It is easy to get hinky living a life of unemployed isolation. I am an old pro of being out of work. I learned my lesson in my 30s: Run, volunteer, stay busy, treat every Monday through Friday like you're going to work; that way you avoid cannibalizing yourself from the inside out.
Today will mark an addition to this page, a regular "Unemployment Spring" post. Even though I have been horribly inconsistent with "Hippies vs. Punks," I am not giving up on it. I am going to make a stab at a series of posts on The Clash's Combat Rock (1982), a high point for the Punks in the mass media, and high point in my first year of living as an adult on my own -- living off campus as a freshman at the university.
Also, I will be returning to the Where Monsters Dwell posts with issue #16 from July, 1972. Looking at this Bronze Age Marvel reprint series of Silver Age Lee, Kirby and Ditko monster science fiction and horror is all the more timely now that we are experiencing a rebirth of the Cold War. (Stan Lee's Silver Age monster stories were Cold War fables.)
"The Colt 45 Chronicle" will proceed fitfully per usual. The "Unemployment Spring" of 2011, written as it is by the person I am now, a burdened bachelor, should provide some insight into how high the Owl of Minerva flies in 20 years. Who knows, maybe the bird never gets off the ground.
A note on the first few entries: You will notice that the log dates begin in winter and are sporadic until March. I was laid off in March, but I knew it was coming. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters international office was, due to the impact of the Great Recession, consolidating; it did this by wiping out longstanding locals and merging their memberships into a smaller number of new ones. This had the effect of transferring even more power to the international. On the West Coast, this process began in California and then worked its way up to us in Oregon and Washington. No one would tell us when exactly it was going to happen; we just knew it would. I began my log in anticipation of the wipe out soon to come.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
I saw Annie, she the giver of my infection, at the Starbucks this morning. And surprisingly I felt very little. Part of me wanted to approach her and tell her that she made me more sick than I have ever been in my adult life. But she seemed so pathetic hiding under the bill of a baseball cap and reading a Harper's. She looked small and plain and unattractive and paunchy. I didn't want to approach because I didn't want to deal with all of her bullshit. So I got my coffee and left and came home and mopped the kitchen floor. I kept thinking that I should be feeling more, after all, she is the person that led directly to my new dispensation celibate fully mature lifestyle. But other than the feeling that I should be feeling more, I felt nothing.
I now eat simple kid foods exclusively. I refuse to spend any money going out to eat. At the grocery store I buy kielbasa; I buy hamburger; I buy chicken breast. I make spaghetti with meat sauce marinara. I make tacos. I make fried chicken and french fries.
One week until the Super Bowl. No football this weekend. How nice!