June 26, 2012
Not Looking, ME Newsletter Vol. 5, Issue 26
I’ve been everywhere, man. Places I thought I shouldn’t have been; places I thought I could stay in. but the truth is somehow nothing feels right.
After an exhaustive search, and many nighttime test drives, I have not found a place that meets my minimal expectations. I’m not looking for the Ritz Carlton, but there are some things I am truly not looking for. Anything that smells like smoke after it has been deemed “move-in ready” is not what I am looking for. First come, first serve non-covered parking is not what I am looking for. Communal laundry is very much not what I am looking for. I am not looking for “first floor” apartments which are in the basement, or “second floor” apartments which are up three flights up.
I am not looking for ways to blow $50.00 aka as “Give us $50.00 to be put on our waitlist and if anything comes open we will call you and you get the benefit of coming to our community events.” Huh? I am also not looking for, “No, we don’t have a wait list.” When I ask, “Really? You won’t mind if I call once a week?” The young agents gasps, “Oh, no! I’d call more than that. If I was you I’d call every day!” I am not looking for “We even have a free year-round gift wrapping service.” Or “We’ll take your suits to the dry cleaner and feed your pets while you are away (for a small charge of course).” I am not looking for liars, but I’ve found plenty of them. I did come across one agent who subtly discouraged me from plunking down $50.00 to be on a waiting list, by encouraging me to drive around and look at the locations of the available apartments. Once I did, I understood. Judging by the gaggles of outdoor stoopers, beater cars and overflowing trash bins, I did not return to that office. He didn’t hound me, either, for which I was grateful.
I’m not looking to pay an extra $70.00 a month for the eternity of my occupation for “upgraded” appliances aka known as anything newer than the standard ones in apartments that appear not to have been renovated since 1976, at least. I am not looking for an $850.00 apartment with $8 for trash, $30 for water, $40 for pets, $35 for a covered parking space, $50 a month more for second floor, another $20 or so for third floor, and +$70.00 a month for upgraded appliances and closet bi-folds that work smoothly. Actually, I was looking at that apartment closely because the normal rent was $975.00. An email from the leasing agent announced a super deal new price of $875.00 a month, so I went on over that day, on my lunch ½ hour, and was told, “Oh, yeah. We don’t have any more at that price. Filled ‘em all.” So the final price of this smaller, older, non-upgraded appliance apartment would be either $1138.00 or $1208.00. The first being a non-significant savings of $62.00 a month (turning off the spare phone would cover that) or a whopping $8.00 over my proposed current lease.
Add on moving costs, even with help from friends with trucks, there’s always gas and lunch to buy, boxes, tape, newspapers, time, the hassle and stress of packing, starting and stopping utilities, changing addresses, and the price of general annoyance, and I cave. I just can’t take the pressure or uncertainty anymore. I’ve spent hours figuring out where I can trim my budget and my already sparse life. I have some viable alternatives: $50.00 to turn off second phone – the one I use to find my primary phone when I misplace it. That also incurs a $140.00 fee, but that’s about 3 months and then I’ll have 9 months of saving $50.00 = $450.00. That’s almost 4 months of the extra $120.00 increase. I could cut Netflix loose. I haven’t watched any movies since December, anyway. At $8.00 a month, that’s $96.00. Not quite up to covering the increase but helpful. There is the $15 a month accident insurance I’ve been carrying for years and have never had to use. Savings = $180.00. So, there I’ve covered 6 months so far.
What else? Less frequent haircuts also includes less gas use for the drive to Lansing. Buy fewer kitty treats. Less use of appliances – wash by hand instead of using the dishwasher and laundry only once a week. Water is included in this lease, electric and gas are not. Oven use only once a week – cook for the whole week at one time. That’s a fun challenge. Heat as required by lease, at least 65 degrees. Cooling, only as needed. I like being warm, that’s not going to be a problem.
I could even eliminate what little use of fun money I allow. And I’m ok with that because I’ve already had a quite a bit of fun this year.
June 19, 2012
Re-, ME Newsletter, Vol. 5, Issue 25
I made a commitment when I moved to Ann Arbor in August of 2010, that I would live as I would like to, within reason, with a reserve bit of caution. Pickings were slim; student schedule timing dictates availability, even for the working class. With the house already sold, and decreased night-time vision, I needed to move quickly. So, with limited choices, I chose to settle somewhere I would feel pampered. Amenities made the compromise between price and living in a budget conscious, semi-permanent state doable. My 900 square foot apartment has always been big enough for me, but this year the price tag outgrew the space. Hit with a 24% rent increase over two years, I’m saying that says a quite a bit about greed and new management. So, the hunt begins.
I am not intimidated by the prospect of re-grouping, re-gathering, re-settling. I’ve done it before; way more than once. Based on previous frequencies, my magic number seems to have been a seven tolerance. Michigan is closing in on fourteen, with five moves squeezed in. Even though now would be a good time to consider elsewhere, nowhere else is even tempting. I’m not happy about this turn of events. Given my nomadic ways, you’d think I’d have this routine down to a science, but I’m only as good as my current outline.
I’m not thrilled with the timing. I had more immediate plans on my agenda: replacing the dinosaur computer, re-losing 20 re-gained pounds, and then another 50 plus a few, transcribing 40 years of writing – some in scribbled hand, some typed, some meticulously copied into blank books, some in clean computer format. Already at war with myself over simultaneous tasks, I am given another assignment. “The How of Happiness; A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want” book is strangely subtitled, captioning a meringue-topped pie missing a significant cut: “This much happiness – up to 40% - is within your power to change.” I chuckle when I am handed this gem, because in a very short time, my therapist had honed in on my need for substantiation. “Facts, please,” is my most frequent request. Give me figures, proven scenarios, documentation, and I will consider another point of view. I haven’t cracked the cover yet but I‘m already knee deep in theoreticals. If you can be 40% happier once, why can’t you be 40% happier twice – or 3x – even better - 120% happiness. Intrigued, I’ve been alternating the search for a new abode with cognitive based, self-examination exercises for determining the happiness path that best suits me.
It’s Sunday evening, again, and everything I’ve aimed for today is either only half finished or wasted effort. The random ipod shuffle sound track for the day throws out the temporarily re-energizing “Tick Tick Boom” by The Hives, summing the whole thing up quite nicely. “You know I’ve done it before, and I can do it some more. I got my eye on the score, gonna cut to the core. It's too late, it's too soon, or is it? Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, boom.” I’m running out of time: to plan this move, to garbage out and re-pack. I’m running out of time in my weekend, in my one month lease renewal deadline mandated search. It’s 6:15 pm and all I want to do is nap. And eat pizza. Realistically, the latter isn’t possible without proper chewing surfaces, so, once again, my alternatives are limited. Standing in the middle of my it’s-going-to-get-worse-before-it-gets-better chaotic mess, I see no immediate resolution and therefore no point in going on today. So, I guess, nap it is. A short refraining reprise… at least until the dryer buzzer goes off.
June 13, 2012
Long Jump, ME Newsletter, Vol. 5, Issue 24
Lucky enough to find myself caught up in a beautiful life’s-to-short-to-not-enjoy affirming day and evening. Lots of laughter and sharing memories, lots of wine and a Sopranos cookbook Italian dinner, lots of discovering and rediscovering, similar pets and familial quirks. How come we need to travel so far away to get a better perspective on our life? Tomorrow is loosely planned, and tonight I’m willing to go with the flow and see what happens. When the evening is through, the normal people adhere to their regulated schedules and retire. It’s late but I’m not tired. Well, maybe I am but my mind is juggling immediate memories and continued worries. I know I should try to sleep, but instead I drag out my laptop, settle into the loft, finding floor space between the sofa and table. I recheck this week’s pending newsletter for typos and continuity. I check my email and end up in a surprising, well-removed, long distance conversation. Limited communication and space are good for editing and re-editing and making sure what you say is exactly what you mean to say.
The problem with being on a happy high is that reality always manages to slap it out of you. The problem with the ups is the downs. That other shoe dropped hard onto my head, sent shiver shock down my spine, and once again shattered my heart. Opening up just doesn’t make for safety. I jumped off the diet/exercise wagon. So maybe I just don’t have what it takes now that I know I can’t get what I want. And, if I can’t have it all, why bother? Me doing better doesn’t make me anything but still myself, forcing through the fog, keeping forward because it’s what I am supposed to do. Legal bills, disappointments, catching my own reflection and still seeing me; could be I’m tired now that the hyper has worn off. But it’s still a down and I think oh, well, I might as well accept it, embrace it and let it out. It’s what both of us want anyway – me and the grief would like to be rid of each other, and ourselves.
4/25 Here’s a politically correct term designed not to offend my sensitive senses, and yet describes what I’ve been saying all along: I own a social reluctance. I’m told it’s ok to plateau, and I think, well, that’s good because I like it here. I don’t even bother letting on that I plateaued years ago with the realization that I am truly not and never have been a social butterfly. And while I am certainly not the life of anyone’s party, I am certainly not isolated. I mean, I am certainly not as isolated as I could be. I show up for work every day; exchange pleasantries, as long as they are offered first. I include myself in large group social settings because I’m safe in duplicity. I like the feel of commonness and anonymity in crowds. I attend concerts and church, both occasionally, and engage in walking and talking with a friend a few times a week. I do not seek opportunities, but rarely decline if one is offered.
In the non-social hours, I am still working on the rest of the miscellaneous stuff that I have to either find somewhere to put, or off load, or buy something to help intelligently store it. Although, I’ve decided not to purchase cabinets or dressers until I achieve a bed. I want suite; something that matches for the first time in my life. I recently saw a bedspread I really liked, and will probably buy it now to avoid regrets later. I still feel like furniture denotes permanence, or at least an expectation of staying put. Someday, I will find a way and a reason to put down roots, but now isn’t the time.
Maybe that’s why I’m reluctant: to find myself in new company, to explain myself; easily avoiding both will make leaving easier. I know I’m not really leaving, either, at least not this year. I’ve got my heart set on 2013 being an action year. Right now I’m prepping: running down the long-jump speed corridor. Knowing I intend to re- launch myself at the end is exciting and terrifying. Yet, I’m picturing it: both feet off the ground, arms extended , instantaneous trajectory realization. And, it seems possible, which is significantly better than not being able to imagine getting up off the floor.
June 04, 2012
Rollins, ME Newsletter, Vol. 5, Issue 23
On the most surprising March 23rd ever, the estimated 2.5/3 full Michigan Theatre (capable of holding a smart 1,710 people)housed no audience and entertained no performance. For three continual, no breaks, no big breaths, no sips or swigs of water, no regrouping, no wandering more than two foot from center stage, no looking away from the audience, no time allowed for applause, no brow mopping, effortless one man, white-hot spotlight, spoken-reveal hours, this is one centered dude. Rollins communicated with a freshly formed cohesive community. Leveled out from second one, syllable one, word one, he made no attempt to capture our attention, but rather carefully collected it, cradled, coddled and cherished our presence welcoming us into his heart and hearty move-it-forward world in a refreshing, respect inspired rant.
Mind blowing lightening speed, hilarity, severity, clarity, mind marauding, simpatico symphonic parallel divergence, massive overload, motivational power-infusing, books are great but your life is your adventure, exhausted, breath holding, laughing, no time for clapping, rant and recall, crazy incredible, cross generational, I’ve been there laughter and I’ve never been there laughter, veterans / suicide rate - you may not ever be able to walk this off, but you will be able to walk with it – I believe in you, all you need to do is respect yourself so other can respect you, too. As long as you’ve got Tom Waites records and omelettes, you can always keep going. Put on the records, eat the food and keep going. If you’ve got an opinion, don’t hide behind the first amendment – defend it. Come through the front door and state your case, sign your name in big ass John Hancock – king don’t need his spectacles – letters. Racist? I’ve got a record collection that will turn you around. I wish I liked myself a tenth as much as Newt likes himself. 50 is the decade of hilarity. I don’t want no satisfaction. Turning 50- a complete finally: it is here, moment – that passes. Oh, well, on the eve of that great event in NYC celebration around mouthfuls of tuna fish sandwich – reality descends: as far as maturity goes – this is it!. Lincoln and Rollins 2/12 & 2/13. Three year national geographic project. I am not workaholic, I am a work slut (How to steer an alligator – jodi’s idea for blog title)(or how to steer anyone with honesty and stories.) I hate inactivity; books are cool but your own adventure is where it’s at. Uma (Humour), the nation and the generation that gave America The Ramones on ipod and pizza delivery. I don’t get scared. I believe my intent is good I can negotiate myself out of anything. (at the corner of Lincoln and Rollins (jodi idea)).
No wavers, no wavering, we are his muse, his inspiration, his fix, his fix-it’s. Launched into it full force, from the crest of the roller coaster, no climbing preamble. Words/scenes ran together, turned back upon themselves and intertwined, like watching Jack's bean stalk grow at an alarming speed, too fast for our puny processors, but not for our hearts to follow along. Radiating intent and purpose, sending forth intertwining mind vines ‘til we believed we were one sharing the stream of consciousness, a collective of empowered previous observers and admirers, family in an intimate way. He readily admits to reading email and letters, saves many, mostly those from veterans and families writing of suicide notes and military shame. He answers - not because he’s that important - but because we are. If we’re reaching out there must be a reason.
Different parts made different people squeamish. One extremely loud (at what I deemed inappropriately timed) laugh at a phrase we’ve heard repeated, repeatedly been horrified by , and which is unacceptable. The one where the Obama family’s portrait is compared to something out of the planet of the apes. The laugh was followed by a split second judgment rendering , a collective audience intake, without a moment’s pause by Rollins, as if he didn’t hear it, and he had to have heard it. We heard it in the balcony. Old punk, new punk, severely under tattooed for the evening. Under the influence of one long intellectual orgasm, my noddle-limp limp back to the parking garage attests to that. As does the craving for stoner food sparked by the dozen or so close-mic audio-toke punctuation marks. Pointing out the brilliant and ridiculous not in the world around us, but in our world. Fix things, here now, sharing departure guilt and self-flagellation for our benefit, there’s always more good to be done, and if you have to be angry to do it, be angry.
Scrambled brains: super processor, the man is a machine. Said his piece, waved and was gone. But he switched me on; I can’t switch off. Hyped up on Rollins, I want to catch that virus, contagion, electric socket energization. Three hours. Three hours!
… in the morning I am a wreck. A happy wreck. In appropriate Rollins speak: a fucking happy wreck. Like we’re the Rollins/Korte/My Generation wonder twins or wonder triplets or wonder mega-thousands. Activated, united, power. We can. We can.