Life, you have a way of running off with me

Hello again,

It’s been over 2 and a half years since my last entry in this, perhaps the most neglected blog of all time. I guess it’s time to catch up.

What’s happened? Well, I loved that little apartment, but alas, as all things, it too had to pass. I got a cat from the Portland Humane Society. She was a lovely cat. A white polydactyl Angora. Very sweet. Whenever I slept on the couch, she would sleep on my chest. In bed, she would cuddle up around my head. I think I have a picture of her around here somewhere…

Put-put in her little house Yes, that’s her. What a sweetie! You can see her extra toes really well in this one.  She was a hell of a mouser. When I moved to Hillsboro, well, we’ll get to that part of the story soon enough.

Anyway, what happened in Portland is what has happened to me every time I settle into a nice routine. I start tunneling through the week, living for the weekend, and then when the weekend arrives, I waste it doing useless crap on the internet. Be it gaming, arguing, watching hours of funny cat and fail videos, you name it, I’ve done it too much. So as a response to this (or rather, my poverty-stricken mindset), the universe provided a speed bump in the form of a layoff. On July 18, 2011, I was informed that my services were no longer required at the printing company I had been working for. I only got in 9 months (almost to the day). I proceeded to watch “The Big Lebowski“, drink white Russians, and get drunk.

Unemployment suits me well, but it doesn’t provide enough funds to maintain even the tiny one bedroom apartment I was living in. So I looked for work in the area. I have experience as a publisher, not just as a printer, so I made the rounds with my résumé and found a job in Hillsboro. That didn’t bother me too much, since the traffic in Portland was starting to wear on my nerves. I was informed while still at Docu-Mart (the printshop I worked at in Northwest Portland) that most people in town don’t get a driver’s license until they are in their 30s and no longer have the luxury of waiting for the (very good) bus system to get them home. With children at home to feed, I can see that. But now you have people who are used to others doing the driving for them behind the wheel of their own cars. Indecision is a huge problem. And courtesy. You know, the kind of courtesy that comes across as stupid. Where someone on the 4-lane main drag sees you waiting on a side street to make a left turn and stops arbitrarily, just “to be nice and let you in”. Never mind that this breaks several of the rules of the road and invites a potentially deadly accident. Welcome to Portland! (insert rolling-eyes emoji)

Anyway, I was hired at a better pay rate than I had ever seen before, doing publishing, printing, binding, and all, in a small shop in Hillsboro, and it was just a matter of a few forms and moving house, right? So I moved into a small space in an Ashram devoted to one of the most bizarre-looking gurus I’ve ever seen. It was meant to be short-term, and I liked her teachings, even if some of them were weird. So with my belongings mostly packed in my car, and my cat adjusting to the grounds, I went in to my new job to fill out the paperwork. As per section 3401-3402 of the Internal Revenue Code, I classified myself as “exempt” on the W-4 withholding form. It was perfectly legal and strictly to the letter of the law (a law that has been masterfully obfuscated, by the way), but there was one little problem. The accountant. The company who had hired me also retained the services of a particularly cowardly accountant, and one with whom there was no reasoning. During the “discussion” with her, my new employers decided that they didn’t want me to work for them anymore, me being a troublemaker and all. (Hey, I don’t mind paying taxes, but damn it, I’m only going to pay taxes I actually owe). Thanks a lot, Accountant! Your mamby-pamby, fearful attitude cost me the best job I ever landed.

So, I was to remain on unemployment , and though I had less rent going out, transportation now cost me much more. So I vegetated for a couple of months; for as long as I dared.

(To Be Continued)

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Finally, a place of my own…

Halloween, 2010. My stint as an itinerant philosopher is over. I have it, the home I have been waiting for. The home that the microbus told me about.

Sure, it’s not gorgeous, yet. But it will be.

my living room from the northeast corner

on the way to WinCo Foods I got a table and two upholstered hardwood chairs. The sofa chair in the picture was free from Craigslist (my favorite resource). I’m looking forward to getting this place fully furnished for zero money. Of course, the ceiling-mounted HD projector and surround audio system won’t be free.

Update: I have just gotten a nice green leather couch. Needs a little repair but the upholstery is nice.

My adventure as a homeless person is over *sniff*

I love Portland. In a way I thought I could never love a city, I, nature-lover, crowd-shunner, smog-hater and congestion-loather, love Portland, the Weird City, warts and all.

I came here on a whim. Well, actually, it was more of an adjustment from a previous plan to stay in Ashland. Since Ashland didn’t appear to have much going on, and I was connecting with Portland people (at an event near Ashland), I came up here. I met a terribly kind couple who agreed to let me stay on their couch for two or three days, and I figured that was all I needed to get a jump start into my new life in Portland. It was a Native American Sundance that I was attending in Ashland, and I was surprised at the diversity of people there. There were Italians (from Italy), Peruvians (from Peru), Canadians, English folk, and even some generic Americans, in addition to the Indians (which is what they call themselves, not being obligated to be politically correct about it).

As fate determined, two or three days was only the beginning. Initially, I worked in the garden for Ashley and James (not their real names), and within two days I had made myself indispensible. My facility with metaphysics endeared me to James, owing to his study in Process Psychology, and we became fast friends. Ashley had a multitude of broken objects for me to fix, and doing so endeared me to her. She took it upon herself to show me around Portland, and we spent a couple of weeks taking frequent bus trips around town, as, at this point, I had no wheels.

In the following weeks (yes, days turned into weeks, literally) I formed a relationship with James and Ashley that was based on the respect that only those who do not know each others’ idiosyncrasies can exercise. Before moving in with them (temporarily), I found that they were very involved in the Eagle Spirit Circle here in Portland, and that was to become very important later on. I had come to the Pacific Northwest to experience Native American Spirituality in its most radical form outside the Reservation, the Sundance. In connecting with the people at the dance, I found that Indians generally have a lot more respect for life and its processes than “Westerners”. They also are very concerned with family and even extended family.

Turns out that James and Ashley command quite a bit of respect within the Circle. When two of the leaders (okay, the central members) needed to go to East Oregon for several weeks, I was recommended as housesitter. The recommendation was well-taken and I gladly took the opportunity, as this afforded me some time to be alone. It was marvelous. All I had to do was feed the fish and water some plants, and in return I had the comfort of a guest house all to myself. I took the opportunity to play some Mirkwood MUD and look for a job, in that order.

During that time I dealt with a wave of unease that broke in upon my peaceful sovereign state of mind. I started to worry about a ‘deadline’ that my ego had created for itself to worry about. I knew I had only so much time to stay in the guest house, and then it would be to… where? As I overcame this issue with the help of a friend in Texas (the same friend who helped me to ask the right questions to achieve my sovereign status), the way became clear for me to find a job, and that was the key back into the door at James and Ashley’s. They saw that I was giving a good effort to pulling my weight, and that I just needed a little help for a while, and they opened their home to me AGAIN.

The job I found turned out to be the perfect one for me, a mix of routine and challenge. I had done it before, but not in such a well-organized shop. I got a job running a small printing press, just like this one:

AB Dick 9970

The people are nice at my shop.  The work is easy enough but not too easy, and a bit too hard at times (to keep me exercising ego attenuation) All in all, I have grown to like this job so much that I look forward to going back to work when things get slow on the weekends. I have never enjoyed work in my whole life up to this time. I didn’t think it was possible for me to love my job, as I have heard other people say. I’ve just been too much of a layabout for most of my life. I haven’t ever *liked* work. I’d normally much rather sit and watch a video or play video games or get high and veg-out to music. Something has changed in me. I suppose that in the last nine months I have gotten my fill of doing nothing, and won’t need to do it any more for a while.

I love my job. Saying it still feels foreign and somehow heretical.

So the next task was to find an apartment. It was easy enough, and random enough to let me know that it was divinely ordained. I was driving home from work.(Oh, I didn’t mention the means by which I got my wheels… I’ll save that for a later post. It’s worth a post of its own.) to James and Ashley’s, and the traffic on the 205 was hellacious. I saw an exit ahead “68th Ave.” and decided I could drive cross-town on Foster and make much better time than I was making on 205. I exited and continued onto Halsey. Driving along, I saw a Volkswagen microbus on the right. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a bit of a passion for VW microbuses. Naturally, I ogled it as I drove past, and in that instant, I saw the sign that had been placed in its windshield: “Apartment Available”. Now, you must understand, if God wanted to get my attention, she would put a sign in the windshield of a microbus.

Trying not to squeal the tires too much, I turned around and found the apartment cluster to which the sign pertained. It was a charming, dilapidated, unkempt courtyard surrounded by what looked like motel units from the outside, but I was pleased to find they were full-sized apartments on the inside.

The manager was not at home, but I dawdled around long enough to meet with him and see the apartment. It was perfectly priced and perfectly sized for me, a single man in his 40s with no one in particular to impress. The crowd is a bit younger than me, which is good, since I intend not to act my age, ever. I told him I wanted the place and he gave me an application. I returned it the next work day (which was a Monday), and expected a speedy resolution. Alas, it was not to be.

I waited for days, calling the manager on occasion, just to make sure he had not forgotten me. But it was to no avail, since the owner (the manager’s aunt) was out of state and incommunicado, vacationing. I began to panic enough to begin to re-manifest a similar situation from 1997. I went shopping around and found a more expensive apartment, in a better neighborhood, far from the fun of Portland center. I went so far as to put down a deposit and payment for a background check. But mulling it over the the next couple of days cemented it. I did not want a repeat of Summer 1997 (wherein I panicked and moved from a great situation to a crappy, more expensive one). I asked for a refund of the deposit and got it. Then I started harping on the manager, who finally got through to his Aunt, and I received a positive answer back. Yes, she would be happy to rent to me!

And today, the big day. Almost. I was supposed to move into my new apartment today, but due to a lack of proper paperwork, I have to wait another day. Sigh. Sometimes enlightenment is hard.

The Beginning

As good a place to start as any, the beginning has the added benefit of being something that everyone has a feel for. Beginnings are an archetype both in our Western Agricultural/Industrial Society and, as far as I have been able to find out, in all societies that have left a trace of their existence on this good green Earth.

My beginning was unexceptional. What is exceptional is that I remember it. Through a psychic trauma suffered at age 19, several memories of my earliest moments and years burst out of the box my Ego had stuffed them into in an act of self-protection.

I remember the lights above my head as I lay face-up in the palm of an ill-paid suburban obstetrician. Of course I didn’t know that he was ill-paid at the time, but later research into the hospital in which I was born excluded the possibility that he was anything but ill-paid. I said I remember the lights, and it’s no exaggeration. They were blinding, yet I was still able to make out several silhouettes with outlines blurred by the intense illumination. I heard voices, presumably speaking in English but to my ears it was a garble of vocalizations that sounded a lot like, “ugga-ugga” and, “goobluh gudtha”. I could not see the faces of the group staring down at me, and the feeling was one of having been found without my clothes on. At least, that’s the word-approximation of the feeling that I assigned it from my 19-year-old perspective. I started to panic, but could not remember any reason to be worried. All was as it should be, as it always was, and I remembered no more.