people i met
So yesterday I got off my butt and called the tenant's rights people and the DCLU to call the dogs on my landlord. DCLU people were very nice, left him a nasty phone message along the lines of "Dear sir, it has come to our attention that you have a tenant living without heat. Please be aware that we consider this an emergency situation and you have 24 hours in which to begin resolving this issue, or you will face severe penalties. Space heaters are neither safe nor practical as a long term solution." I had a DCLU inspection scheduled for this afternoon at 1pm.
At 11 am there was a earthquake. Somewhere above 6.5 on the Richter scale, and the biggest one I have ever been in. I ran outside, and saw everyone else that was running outside, and looked at the 25 story high rise directly next door to my house, and started walking quickly in the other direction. I thought this house would fall in of its own accord before being squashed. Now I am not so sure. Needless to say, my appointment has been cancelled for the forseeable future, the inspectors have more pressing matters to attend to. All the busses are free for the rest of today.
After WTO, I'm told, the cops were all pissed off at the fire fighters because of the fire fighters' refusal to turn their hoses on demonstrators. Perhaps that is the reason for this parking ticket I saw at my bus stop the other day? The fire truck was pulled up to the curb -- near the Trader Joe's -- with all its lights flashing but no fire fighters in sight.
A friend of mine a long time ago explained to me that he broke up with his then-girlfriend because when he would ask her how her day went, she would start recounting it from the beginning, lumps and all. His description of this was "she's one of those 'I woke up and had an egg' girls" Sometimes I use this space as a place to keep track of what I've been up to for future reference, and it can start sounding like that. Well, tough.
Thursday I fell in love with an educore band: Bloodhag [pictured]. They sing 90 second songs about science fiction authors in a speedcore style that makes the lyrics unintelligible. In between songs they poll the audience on their reading habits and share facts about the authors they are singing about. They all wear nerd glasses and button up shirts with ties. They extoll the virtues of libraries. They were performing at a drag queen bar on Capitol HIll. The crowd loved them. I love them.
Friday I bought another typewriter. But this one works! I also got some football shoulder pads for $2. I went to the transfer station to get rid of all my recycling. I ran into a friend of mine that used to manage Hattie's Hat and now does some work for the Tractor. I said I'd been meaning to see about bartending there. He said their bartender just quit and I should stop by on Tuesday. Friday was also the abortive conference call with my alleged new employers.
they: so can you flip to the handout that says "guidelines"Today I got home to a "Sorry we missed you!" note from Fedex.
Friday I also watched a bunch of movies about Chiapas at the IMC. Some were made by the locals themselves as part of the Chipas Media Project. I may be callous, but it seems to me that if my crops were failing and I had no money and a gringo showed up with a video camera to show me how to "document my experience" I would sell the damned thing and buy food.
Saturday I plotted more ISP in the tropics plans then went to the marker fights where people stripped down to their skivvies and had their wrists strapped together, were given markers and ... well ... fought. The cops showed up at one point, but once they determined this was not a hazing ritual, left us completely alone.
Sunday was yesterday and hasn't been post-processed yet. I ate a lot of food and wrestled with computers and slept on a great couch. I have been trying to sleep at home now since I have three space heaters -- figuring it will give me more of an incentive to string-up my landlord -- but sometimes I still can't hack the freezing floor in the morning and I can't sleep restfully with those things turned on full blast and being all fire-hazardy.
Today I go work at the bookstore and hopefully do some letterpress printing tonight. Sorry to bore you with the mundanity of my day to day minutae. I can't promise it won't happen again.
I stayed up late at my friend's place talking about schemes that would keep us employed and happy in warmer sunnier climates. When I went to go crash on his couch, I found a postcard addressed to me on the pillow:
This past week I have encountered other typewriter fans. A man with a tattoo of an old school typewriter on his calf, and a woman who I did not meet, but I did see her seven typewriters in her living room. I think I will stop with one typewriter per house [and one loaner] and work on using them instead of idly appreciating them. They all have grandly evocative names: Remington Noiseless, Quiet Deluxe, Hermes Rocket.
My landlord came by beaming like Santa Claus yesterday and dropped off one of those nice oil-filled space heaters. He apologized for the recent chilliness of the apartment, but told me that his electrician had retired. Then he gave me one of those "what can you do?" shrugs.
I explained that if he would bring by three more heaters, we might be able to call it even -- except for the matter of the electrical system not being able to handle all that extra wattage. As much as I love playing with those funky screw-in fuses, I don't want to be doing it in my pj's four times a night. It's getting warmer lately, so this battle is mainly over the principle of the thing at this point, but when I told him "gee, you really should try to find another electrician to get some heat in here, it is February after all" I got that puzzled "what planet are you from?" look that I am getting so familiar with.
Not 12 hours after writing about my tribulations with the publishers, they email and call and say they'll be Fedexing my package the next day. I got home this morning around 10:30 and the Fedex guy had already come and gone. I am officially pushing my deadline back one day. Not that I'm a gigantic fan of the post office, but if they had sent it to my PO box via next day air, I'd be getting it in the same amount of time.
This lumps in with my more general issue with the whole country assuming that people live in one place and work in one place and are at those places during predictable hours. Even if you work at home, or freelance, you are pretty much expected to have a location where you can receive packages and phone calls during "business" hours. Worst case, maybe you have a spouse or an employee that takes care of all this. If you do work in an office, they assume that your discretionary time is theirs to schedule and often assign you meetings during days off, or "ask" you to work extra, especially if you are part time or work freakish hours. I always got the stink eye when I would say "well, that's my day off and I already made plans, so I guess I'll have to miss the meeting." Since the meetings were rarely more than idiotic pep rallies or massively repetitive dronefests anyhow [no matter where I've worked] missing them was rarely an issue. I have enough pep, thank you, I'm just saving it for when I get home. Can you tell I am enjoying not working? My voice even sounds different now that I'm not expected to lie to strangers as part of my day to day existence.
Back to location. When I try to buy something with a credit card online, I need to have my shipping address be the same as my billing address. Mine rarely are. Half my bills go to Vermont, half here, more or less. My credit is good, I know all my secret passwords, I just live in more than one place. So off I go to the airport to buy my tickets. I tell my east coast boss not to call me before 10 am because I work nights. She persists. I think I may begin calling her at midnight "hey, I just started this project and I had a few questions...."
I have a hard time understanding how this country can make an effort to increase tolerance and understanding of other cultures, yet can't get their head around the fact that we don't all work in offices, or want to; and don't all have one singular place we call home, or want to; and don't all work during the day and sleep at night, or want to. And don't always enjoy the rejoinder "what planet are you from?" when we bring this up. I'm not cranky, just sort of baffled.
I have more petty little hardships than the cold apartment which, when all is said and done, is predictable and solveable in a number of ways.
Number 1: Work. I theoretically have a job that I am just waiting on getting the materials I need delivered. I receive many promises of stuff being fedexed to me "tomorrow", etc. and no packages. This is apparently "the way of the industry" but I think it's mental. This problem can also be solved rather easily, but in a way that involves me telling off people I am trying to get work from. I'm holding off on that.
Number 2: Reading. I have way too much to read. This may not seem to be a problem but when you are carrying your distilled life on your back and you are in the middle of seven books, it can lead to back problems.
All of this is to say that I am fine, really. The cold I had last weekend has abated and I swear food has never tasted so good before. This couch surfing thing is interesting. Once you reach a certain age, you don't go to too many slumber parties, and as a result you rarely get to spend extended dance remixes of time with most of your non-roomate friends, unless you go on a bender or a vacation with them. One of my favorite things about my 1999 New Years party, and Burning Man last year, was the chance to pad around morning-style with a bunch of people, drinking coffee, sharing last night's dreams and planning the next day's activities. Getting to do this with many different people over the last ten days or so has been enjoyable.
Every morning when I come back to my house after a night of sleeping at someone else's house, I am sort of amazed to find the house still standing because it is seeming to me that arson is really the landlord's only way out of this predicament.....
To recap, I started getting splitting headaches in the mornings about a week ago. The furnace was declared unfit for further use on Saturday -- excessive CO. The furnace salesman told me that a new furnace [including the asbestos removal] would run my landlord about $7-8K and didn't even bother to try to sell me one. I called my landlord and relayed this to his answering machine on Monday. I haven't heard back from him. I pay $145 a month in rent. My roomate pays the same. The upstairs neighbors [who have electric heat] pay the same. There is no way the landlord can expect an investment into any new heating solution to pay for itself, even partially. Period.
So where does this leave our hero? Well, I am going to call the Tenant's Union, and the City of Seattle's Housing Division. I'll call the landlord again and see if he has anything interesting to say. I will not pay any more rent unless this place has heat, but I might be willing to store my stuff here for a while longer while I work out a new scheme.
So, while I wrestle with Fortune to get in her good graces again, I have all new reasons to pursue out-of-the-home activities. Last night I bowled a 145 -- I bet no one else can bowl their rent! The night before I lay on a warm couch at my friend's house drinking tea and and alternating between reading books and telling stories with my friend who was also reading on a nearby couch, as I recovered from my cold. That morning, I had exacerbated my cold by waking up extremely early to go ice skating. A wonderful coterie of weirdos was on the ice Sunday morning at 11, including me. My favorites were the parents who could barely skate holding up children who could not skate at all. My friend Lisa concluded that the fact that I did not fall meant that I had not pushed myself hard enough. I skated on ponds when I was a kid where we had no rails to hold on to, the rink feels weird to me.
I am home today because I ran into an old friend at a party this weekend who is trading me a typewriter for some flourescent lighting and a bamboo umbrella. He is delivering the typewriter on his bicycle.
Going to a reading tonight. Must remember the reading drinking game.
So being home a lot has led me to one very important conclusion: something in my house makes me ill. More specifically, it makes me ill while I sleep, and only when the heat is on. Give up? It's my furnace! I have no idea what's up [yes, I have a - silent - CO detector] but I woke up two mornings in a row -- after not drinking at all -- with headaches so bad I was afraid something had lain eggs in my hair during the Fuse Ball and the larvae were eating their way out of my brain. I went to the doctor. She saw the glitter fall out of my hat when I took it off and said "How was the party?" Ha ha. She saw nothing wrong with me and recommended some brain scans. I did some tests on my own because I'm awful when I'm off my game, and having a spike-through-my-eye feeling definitely put me a little off kilter. Sleeping with the heat off had me awakening headacheless.
So, now I have an issue with my landlord to deal with. My landlord is a nice guy, but the rent here is so amazingly cheap primarily because he is super hands-off and can be pesty about fixing things. Asking him to fix a nebulous furnace issue could result in: no action whatsoever, increased rent, or the final tearing down of this place that I have been dreading since I moved in. I'm doing some more tests this weekend. And sleeping with the heat off.
I am also going ice skating at Key Arena. If that sounds vaguely appealing to you, join me!
Today I went through my ritual hazing at KUOW where they sent me to the downtown public library with a cell phone to look at porn on the public access computers and report on it. Unfortunately, I did my job too well and was on the computer, looking at about five simultaneous windows of smut, not knowing that the time limit you have [45 min per day] accrues per window. By the time I called in, I was all porned out; on and off in seven minutes.
I saw Traffic this weekend and it made me feel all oogy, so I had to go to the library for a few hours to read. The worst part of it, besides the obvious "drugs are bad" morality play was in how they made drugs appear to be bad: drugs will make your virginal sixteen year old daughter have sex with a [black] drug dealer, drugs will make parents make bad financial decisions, drugs will make families fall apart! Shit. Ridiculous.
I also went to the Fuse Ball which I have been calling a rave for yuppies. I decided to volunteer there because I figured it would be interesting and, well, what else was I going to do? Dress was supposed to be "outrageous" which for most people means a lot of silver body paint, or girl clothes on boys. For me, it meant cutoffs and combat boots and handcuffs and cleavage. I usually wear overalls, this was outrageous enough for me, and I was working the door shift from 2-4 am so it was appropriate. I met some nice people, had a lot of E-laden conversations with friends, got bought drinks by strangers and found a ride home at 4 am, so slept before the sunrise. Money was made, so the fundraiser was a success. Tonight Books to Prisoners had a beer and pizza fest in thanks for the people that helped them move to their new space and/or provided their old space. No body paint [but some excellent tattooes], no drugs, no techno. Just a few pitchers of beer and some vegan pizzas at Piecora's.
The real tragedy here is that I enjoyed both events [felt more comfortable at one, more exhilerated at the other] but the total population of each event would not have been caught dead at the other, except for me. There may be some sort of moral here, but damned if I can figure out what it is.
But back on the subject of public radio. I have a ridiculous new little "job" at KUOW being a call screener for Weekday. The pay is zero, but on the upside it's two blocks from my house, two hours a week. And I get to influence yuppie culture in some tiny way, or at least talk to people on the phone who won't always yell at me. And, as my Mom has said, getting paid nothing is sort of better than getting paid badly because then it becomes clear who is doing whom the favor. "Hello KUOW, what is your opinion on child pornography...?"
I screwed up and didn't go to a library yesterday because I was too busy sitting around the chick bathhouse steamroom, sending mail to Antarctica, and discussing anarchist utopias over beer and french fries. I may limit my library intake to four per week this month.