bunt sign

February 22, 2000

Despite my frequent complaints about the hovel in which I live, I have a sweetheart deal here and I know it. I'm paying at least $150.00 a month below the market value, and I've been promised that there won't be another increase in the foreseeable future. So when I get a visit my rental agent, who sometimes goes to bat for me against the owner, I take notice.

Today she came by to have me sign a document stating that due to its age my building might contain lead-based paint but the owner doesn't believe it does. Well, isn't that comforting? It's also maybe a little overdue, since I've been here ten years. On the other hand, by now I've probably outlived any danger that I might have been exposed to.

I might have blown it, though. She asked if I wanted blinds for the living room and I told her no, I liked my drapes. She then asked if I wanted the place painted, and I shrugged and said that I'd be gone for a week in June. Before I knew what had happened, she had written the date in her little notebook and told me that they would be in touch.

After she left, I started looking around and began to realize just how much equipment I'd have to protect and how many books and CDs and boxes full of documents I'd have to stow, somehow, before a painter could come in and do the job.

And that's not even to mention the dents I've made over ten years of living. In my younger days, when I was hot-headed and the neighbors were rowdy drunks who blasted obnoxious music through the walls all the day and night, I might just have lost my mind a few times and sent my sneaker through the wall. There could possibly have been a time or two when frustration with — oh, I don't know — life in general has induced me to commit some now regrettable act of violence against the interior furnishings. The evidence for such random acts would probably not fit under the heading of "normal wear and tear."

Yeah, well, just because I work for a contractor doesn't mean I know how to patch holes in the drywall. Cooking wasn't the only skill I didn't have a chance to learn as a kid.

All I can say is that she took me by surprise. There are plenty of other improvements that are more important than a fresh coat of paint. The electrician who promised to rewire the place last summer could come back and actually do the job, for one thing. Drainage in the driveway is such that the biggest puddle is at precisely the spot where a visitor parks. The heating system consists of a single aged wall heater, with no thermostat.

At the rate I'm going, and despite my determination to find a new place, it's beginning to look as if I'll still be here come June, so I'm going to have to decide how to handle this.

The Boss was on one of his crusades today, the kind where he tries to bend the law to suit his skewed view of the world. The contractor that we filed a stop notice against last month responded with an affidavit, and my entire day was taken up with preparing a counteraffidavit. The Boss would fax his draft to me, I'd type it and fax it back, he'd make corrections or changes, and we'd start the process again.

He would like it to look as if it were done by an attorney, but he's not about to hire one. So he borrows wording from various legal documents to make it sound legally formal. Or formally legal. What actually comes out is a pseudo-legal patchwork of words and phrases and clauses that may or may not mean anything.

His plan was to finish today and get it posted by certified mail. Then about five o'clock he decided that since the post office was closed, we would change the dates and get it off tomorrow. Unfortunately, that also left him the rest of the night to fuss over the document and fine tune it to death, with me dancing on the other end of the string.

It wouldn't be so bad if it were a straightforward typing job, but I'm left to decipher his muddled handwriting and distorted grammar. After thirteen years, I'm forced to admit that I know how to think the way he does, and how to phrase things the way he'd like to. In fact, he doesn't have to take care with his drafts because he knows I'll fix them. This lets him write and rewrite until he wears me out.

We finished it, I think. But tonight I'm so tired that I might not get anything done tomorrow, either. Could just sleep straight through the whole day.

This was not how my life was going to go. Whatever this is that I do, it's not what I am.

It took years to convince myself I would never be a writer, at least not the kind I aspired to be. I could put words together, but I couldn't tell a story. I'm not sure how well I would have done even if I'd had the talent, though, because I probably wouldn't have worked hard enough to develop it. Some of it is laziness, just the way it sounds. The rest is not wanting to spend too much time on any one area of interest. Whatever I'm doing, I can always think of several other things I'd like to be doing. At the same time.

If I held onto the dream of writing for too long, I might have given up on teaching too soon. I allowed myself to fail at that endeavor, halfway through my year of student teaching. I talked to my counselor, and she agreed with my decision to quit, reinforcing the feeling of inadequacy that comes all too easily to me. At 22, I was a lost soul, overwhelmed by the world.

But I look back now and see what might have been. Then I look at what is, and it's all I can do to remember that my life is mostly good, and that I am not my job. Hell, even my job is mostly good. I don't know if I would have succeeded, had I stayed on course toward a teaching credential. But even if I'd tried and failed, the next few years would have been no more of a waste than they in fact turn out to be. You couldn't tell me that when I was 22, though.

Eric has managed to pick up tickets to a couple of Giants games at Pac Bell Park this season, but he was disappointed that most weekend games were sold out. No Dodger games were available, and the best he could do was a preseason game against the Brewers and a late-season game with the Diamondbacks. We may add some midweek games as the year goes by, but for now we're left wondering how longtime fans like us, not wealthy enough to buy full season tickets, are expected to be a part of the wonderful new Giants experience.

We're sitting in the rafters, too, or whatever they have instead of rafters. Rafts? We could be paddling on rafts, I guess, in the middle of the bay. Behind the foul pole, under the giant Coke bottle. Should be exciting.

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