Thursday, September 26, 2013

There and back again

February 19, 1985

Back again.
Three years after the beginning. Settling old scores, finding some new means of survival, or old.
It seems we spend our time reversing ourselves, going back to those things that have served us in the past. Sometimes, this past didn’t serve us at all, but grew in our imaginations over time into something grand.
Louise and I had this pattern a half dozen times during our brief relationship, going to and from Denver twice, to and from Portland twice, to and from Phoenix, Las Vegas, only to end up in LA where we started, seeking that perfect condition upon which would could rest.
The process always contributes to the deterioration.
Later the pattern continued in my life alone.
It lent itself to a career decision in 1974 when I took up work in Donald’s warehouse instead of another job as the manager in a calculator company (something that I could not have imagined would take off later into computers). I wasn’t together enough at the time to manage my own life, let alone a warehouse. Not then anyway.
Still later, after having finally escaped the rooming house in Montclair, found a quality apartment in a good part of Passaic, and bought my first new car (a Ford Pinto); I decided to move back to the rooming house in Montclair. I learned to miss the quality place and bemoaned my leaving it especially later when I moved back to the poorer part of Passaic where I live now.
I even did this with college – going back to school was in a way going back in time, trying to settle an old score with myself for having quit high school. I needed to prove something, and I guess I did, although I couldn’t even make it through college on the first try, forced out by poverty several times and a need to work to pay rent so it was there and back, there and back, grabbing piece of education as I could (better than the long hours in the Passaic Library I had spent trying to educate myself with the help of a Harvard graduate turned hobo who would pause often to advise me about which book was worth reading and which was junk. Even mentally ill, he proved more accurate than many of the so-called sane professors I later met.)
I had the delusion I could make a living as a writer. And so in December 1981, I gave up a job in a Dunkin Donuts and struck out on my own with a half dozen hand-written manuscripts.
But I am most of all a practical boy. I had the idea of starving and I hated that one time when I actually was homeless. So scared over lack of finances and with a very persistent landlord seeking to collect rent, I took up labor (what a joke) in a Fotomat booth – a sit down job in a fish bowl where for the most part I set up an electric typewriter and tapped away at novels trying not to get too annoyed at the customers who actually wanted me to help them.
It was piss poor money, but I got a lot of writing done, although I was more gypsy than anything, traveling store to store whenever someone called it sick or someone quit. I made so little at it that I had to rely on small loans from my uncle or my mother when rent came due or the power company wanted to turn off my electric and heat.
But alas, I sick of threadbare clothing and brown rice every night (saving pork chops for pay day) and crawled back to the Dunkin seeking my old job back. Part of this has to do with Anne and her brother, and Pauly – who some how became my room mate again though I’m still not clear as to how) and part of it is the need to do something to catch up, not just financially, but with myself, an labor – I mean real physical labor – has always made me feel rich and accomplished down deep inside, my hands doing something that matters, even if it is merely making donuts and muffins.
While it doesn’t equal putting words together, it does something that my writing has yet to do: pay the rent.

Scrap Paper Review menu

No comments:

Post a Comment