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.

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