Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da

On Friday the 11th, at 9:00 pm, I ceased to be a home owner. The following Tuesday, at 2:00 pm, I ceased to be a married man. I'll spare you the whining, gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments that this has involved. The last twelve months have constituted one of the worst years of my life. Right now, I'm running on the assumption that I've bottomed out. Because of those first two sentences, I can't just rise back up; I need to reinvent my life. To a certain extent, I even have to reinvent who I am. Here's a progress report.

Even without the divorce, Tessa and I would have been forced to sell the house this year because we were broke. The house took longer than we expected to sell. We came so close to the end that we would not have been able to pay our bills this month if the house hadn't sold. When we were fairly sure that a sale really was happening (six previous bids fell through), Tessa took most of our money to make first, last, and deposit on an apartment. I stayed in the house until the last day and borrowed money from my sisters to get into an apartment. Because the last few years have been so rough, my credit rating completely sucks. The only way I was able to get into an apartment was to rent from real people and not from a property management company. Fortunately, someone at the market has parents with a mother-in-law apartment over their garage.

So here I am. The apartment is great and so are my landlords. It's not perfect. It's way out in the country; about ten miles from the nearest small town. I'm going to have to leave more stuff in storage than would have been ideal, but the cost is somewhat made up for by the landlords covering all of the utilities, including internet. And I can't have a cat, which is real heart-breaker for me. But I'm making the best of it. I'm figuring out how I want to arrange things. I spent way too much time staring at the kitchen cabinets. It has a gas stove. The house was electric, so I'm relearning the techniques of gas. So far I haven't set fire to anything on the stove top, but I did set fire to some garlic bread in the oven.

My Facebook friends are aware of my adventures in getting my computer set. When we cleaned out the house to show it, I put my desktop unit in storage and started using a tiny laptop. It's a good as a temporary of traveling computer, but it is just too small for everyday use. One of the things I was looking forward to in getting settled was to set up the big machine. Better performance would be nice, but what I was really looking forward to was a full-sized keyboard and monitor. The computer came over in my first carload. Even before I'd built the bed, I'd set up the computer and discovered that I didn't have the power cords. After several trips to the storage unit, which is an hour away, I finally found them and discovered the computer no longer works. A friend said it sounds like a cracked mother board. So, I have to find a new repair place and decide if it's worth the cost of repairing. That calculation has to include losing all of the software on the old machine as well as my solitaire high scores. I'm still on the tiny laptop, but I'm using a full-sized keyboard.

So far, getting acquainted with the neighborhood has involved getting comfortable with the route--getting so I don't miss any turns--and figuring out where to shop. I've only gotten lost once. I managed to miss running into a deer once, which means my crappy reflexes are probably adequate to driving curving forest roads. One thing that still gives me problems is the fact that the speed limit changes eight times between here and the freeway. I know I'm going to get a ticket before I'm comfortable with that. Shopping is also something that needs exploring and learning. There are three grocery stores within fifteen miles. The closest is the smallest and the furthest has the best selections. So far it looks like the closest one is a little more expensive, but that its sales are better deals. On a whim, I checked the bulk spices in the big store and was quite pleased to find culinary lavender. I bought some. Choices, choices.

I suppose the last matter is my mental and financial health. They need some help. As I said, my apartment is out in the country, in fact, in the forest. On the one hand, it's quiet and the air smells much better than in the city. Quiet is a very good thing right now. On the other hand, I have a dangerous habit of going hermit and getting a little spooky if left to my own devices. When thinking of my ideal place to move, I thought being within walking distance of a coffeeshop would have been nice. I would spend an afternoon or two each week using their wi-fi and get to know some of the regulars. Driving a dozen miles to that is much less appealing. That means I should look toward a job as my main social venue.

I haven't had a full time job in five years. I had a part time job for a year, I've had some contract writing gigs, and I've tried to help Tessa with the soap company. I've looked for a full time job, but had no luck. I have had, I think, four interviews in that time. I don't have to give up on tech writing; I can telecommute and I'm only a little over an hour out of Seattle and Bellevue, so I could handle weekly staff meetings for someone who wants that. But, in reality, it's getting less and less likely that I'll get much more of that kind of work. My knowledge and even the software on my computer get more and more out of date every day. When I look around here for on-premises work, I find mostly service-sector jobs. I'm really, really resistant to that. I've spent far too much of my life working jobs I hated just to get a paycheck. I know, I might not have a choice.

America is extraordinarily hard on failure. At my age, if I do take a service-sector it means I am never, ever going to have another professional job, or even get a shot at one. No one is going to give a second glance at a resume that goes from Lead Technical Writer to Walmart Greeter. And where does that leave me in looking for a social life through work? In most service jobs, the people I'll have the most in common with will be bitter, over-educated, downwardly-mobile geezers.

I can think of one service venue where could be comfortable. As grown up life has become more and more stressful, I have come took back om my bookstore days with greater and greater nostalgia. It's retail and there will always be assholes who try to ruin your day, but most book people behave pretty well around the objects of their love. When I think about bookstores, it seems that I could be comfortable in a lot of hipster venues such as coffee shops. I'm an intellectual snob and age gives me an advantage in that culture. "You've probably never heard of them." "I've been a fan since before you were born." Geezer-hipster could be fun. I could also be comfortable in a lot of small stores. For the last four years, the best part of every week has been selling at the market. It's really a big corporate store with uniforms or a yuppie dress code that strikes me as living death. If anyone knows of an opening around Everett or points north, email me.

There you have it. I try to write a little every day. Whether I like it or not, Life goes on.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Please go, Ron

In a display of a serious irony deficiency, Ron Paul uses his taxpayer funded, government website to argue for secession from an overly intrusive government.
Is all the recent talk of secession mere sour grapes over the election, or perhaps something deeper?
Sour grapes, with a delicate bouquet of racism and batshit insanity.
Currently there are active petitions in support of secession for all 50 states, with Texas taking the lead in number of signatures. Texas has well over the number of signatures needed to generate a response from the administration...
Dear Texas, No. Sincerely, Barack H. Obama
...and while I wouldn't hold my breath on Texas actually seceding, I believe these petitions raise a lot of worthwhile questions about the nature of our union. Is it treasonous to want to secede from the United States?
To want to? No. To try? Yes.
Many think the question of secession was settled by our Civil War.
It was.
On the contrary; the principles of self-governance and voluntary association are at the core of our founding.
Yes, they were. But it's still treason.
Clearly Thomas Jefferson believed secession was proper, albeit as a last resort. Writing to William Giles in 1825, he concluded that states:
"should separate from our companions only when the sole alternatives left, are the dissolution of our Union with them, or submission to a government without limitation of powers."
Keep in mind that the first and third paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence expressly contemplate the dissolution of a political union when the underlying government becomes tyrannical.
You see, Ron, it might surprise you and many of your Tea Party followers to find out, the Declaration is not part of the Constitution. It's also not part of our law codes. I know, you've only collected a government paycheck to write laws that pass Constitutional muster off and on for thirty-six years, so you might not have had time to learn that fact. Do we have a "government without limitation of powers" yet? No. One of those limitations is that Constitution thingy that your not so familiar with. Another, paradoxically, is that part of the government that you collected a paycheck from. You members of Congress are supposed to show some restraint, if only because you fear the other party coming to power some day. Third, are the American voters, who still get to throw you out if they don't like how you're doing your job. You see, under a government with truly unlimited powers, we don't get to do that.
The Federal government kept the Union together through violence and force in the Civil War, but did might really make right?
It might not have made it right, but it did make it legal. Remember what I said about voting above? The "Federal government" is not an entity separate from the American people. It is chosen by American people and made up of American people. We chose to keep the Union together and, in doing so, we made it legal.
Secession is a deeply American principle. This country was born through secession. Some felt it was treasonous to secede from England, but those "traitors" became our country's greatest patriots.
The founders of most new countries were almost always, at one time, traitors to the old regime. That does not make treason "a deeply American principle." Being founded by secession does not make secession "a deeply American principle." Let me put this in terms you might understand. You're a gynecologist. Being born of a cesarean section does not make climbing screaming and naked through your mother's abdomen a deeply defining characteristic of your being and it certainly does not justify doing it a second time.
Drift off topic. Whine, whine, whine.
If a people cannot secede from an oppressive government, they cannot truly be considered free.
You might be right, but you are pulling a bait-and-switch con on us. You started when you brought the Declaration into this. The Declaration of Independence is a philosophical argument. Let me repeat myself, the Declaration is not part of the Constitution, nor is it part of our law codes. A philosophical argument can always be made for secession, though it won't always be a valid argument. Whining because you lost two elections in a row is not a valid argument. Not getting your way is not a valid argument. And even when you do have a valid argument for secession, it's still treason and you better be sure all of your fellow secedees are on your side and you better be ready for a fight.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

We should all live like vindictive dirtbags

"What a home this is, what grounds these are, the pool, the golf course, you know if a Democrat were here he'd look around and say no one should live like this. Republicans come here and say everyone should live like this." (Mitt Romney, at a fundraiser hosted by Papa John Schnatter at his 40,000 sq/ft house, April 2012)

And, having paid insincere lip service to the middle class, those Republicans would go home and work to see that millions of middle class, unionized workers have their pay cut, loose their pensions and medical care, and be deprived the power that comes from collective bargaining.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The results are in

Based on my own exit polling (sample size = 1), I'm calling Washington for Obama at 10:45 am. Suck on it MSM!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

I need a home

After what has felt like an almost endless series of deals that came that close (holds fingers that close) before falling apart apart, we have finally sold the house. Now I need a place to live. Tessa and Marlowe already have a great place over in Bremerton. I have between three days and a week to get out of the house.

I thought about returning to Anchorage. I spent a few months in Anchorage earlier this year, where I was able to confirm that rent in Anchorage is about the same as in Seattle proper, which is too expensive for me, Everything else is more expensive. After all, everything else from pencils to beans to toilet paper needs to be shipped in from Seattle. If I had a nice grown-up job waiting for me in the old country, I'd definitely go back. But, I don't. I'm starting over, so staying where it's cheaper is the better idea. Rent goes down fairly quickly once I leave Seattle proper. At this point, finishing the book is the only thing that gives meaning to my life. So, as far as where I live is concerned, that means I'd like to stay within and hour or so of the University of Washington library. North of Seattle or west, across Puget Sound, are my preferred directions.

So, what are my criteria? Price/space and accepts cats are the top two. I figure I can afford around $800/mo for rent and I'd like to get at least 700 sq/ft of space. I can probably manage to pay a little bit more if I can get all my stuff in. I have some furniture and 104 boxes of books. If I have to keep some things in storage, I'll have to figure that expense as part of my rent. A cat is really non-negotiable. Tessa took Marlowe with her and my muse, Mehitabel, died while I was in Alaska. I need some mammalean companionship or I'll go nuts (nutser?) living alone.

My next criterion is more vague. I need some place where I could imagine staying for a while. Without getting too personal, losing my marriage, my home, my sister, and my cat have left me feeling a bit unanchored in the universe. As a freelancer, I don't even have a place of work to make me feel like I belong somewhere. This is not the sort of thing you can put on an application or prove in credit check, but I think it is the sort of thing a landlord might like to hear.

After the craziness of the last few years, my credit sucks, so I can't get into any property management company apartment complexes. Even if my credit was great, I'd rather not live in one of those; my preference lies in renting part of an old house. When our house closes later this week, I'll have a sizable chunk of change and could afford to pay several months in advance if that would make a landlord more comfortable.

If you have any contacts or ideas, drop me a line at archymarquis at aol dot com.