The view from a different window

I’m usually a little worried about everything, even when nothing’s happening in my crappy life, but now things are changing fast, maybe too fast. It's breathtaking and worrymaking — I’m piecing together work where I can find it, no steady job just "anything legal" and checking my messages three times daily, and hoping it'll add up to enough to pay the rent but I'm not yet sure.

And now, maybe I'm moving out of the rez hotel and into an apartment? We'll find out later this morning, but do I want to do this? Yes and maybe no. Pike told me yesterday, "The neighborhood is a hellhole, and the apartment needs work, too," and I'm not all that sure about living with him, and packing and moving is so much hassle, and I'll have to hire a mover or rent a van, and worry worry worry, so I needed illegal pills to get to sleep last night, and then I slept crappy.

The pills knock me out fine, but sometimes give me dreams I'd rather not, and last night I dreamed about Billy Mumy. Yeah, the actor who played the kid on Lost in Space. I watched that show but never much liked it, never liked the kid either. I was looking at his older sisters, of course. But "Danger, Will Robinson," that dumb redheaded boy was the star of my dream. I don’t think I was even in the dream.

Mumy couldn’t commit to a Lost in Space reunion movie, because he was playing the lead in The Dustin Hoffman Story — a play, not a movie. I guess Hoffman was unavailable? I was in the audience at a theater, watching Billy Mumy as Dustin Hoffman as a man playing a woman in a soap opera inside Tootsie, and it was disturbing and boring at the same time, so I literally pinched myself awake and couldn't get back to sleep, and now it’s Thursday, and in 45 minutes I’m meeting Pike at his apartment, to see if I want to move in.

Do I want to move in? Yeah, probably, and as I pulled on my pants, I noticed that yesterday’s rains are dripping through the ceiling again. Damned rez hotel. And this time the drips splattered right onto a box of Pathetic Life back issues, so if you send for one and it’s warped or splotchy, maybe I'll charge extra and call it a special collectible edition.

♦ ♦ ♦

OK, I’m back from seeing Pike’s apartment, and it’s worse than I’d expected. It’s on a street that’s really just an alley, where all the buildings are mostly the same low-rise tenements you see everywhere in SF, but in far worse repair, with bars on most of the windows and trash and needles on the street.

The apartment Pike’s renting is on a second floor, the steps up from the street are graffiti-painted, and there was an old lady sitting on the stoop smoking a cigarette, who glared at me when I said “Excuse me” and squeezed past. The doorbell was loose wires sticking out of the wall, so I knocked, heard footsteps, and Pike opened the door and...

What a fuckin' dump. The bathroom door was off its hinges, 'Mierda' ('shit' in Spanish) spray-painted on the living room wall, dead roaches on the floor, and Pike crunched a live one under his shoe on his way to a kitchen-style chair in the living room. He sat down, said “Explore, dude,” and turned his attention to Leeza Gibbons on a small TV on the floor. 

The chair and TV were the only furniture, so I guess you could say the place had possibilities. The living room was spacious, bigger than my room at the rez hotel, with peeling plaster, no carpeting, and no light bulb in the ceiling fixture. I like the art on the wall, though — 'Mierda' — and don't want it washed off or painted over.

From the living room, the kitchen is to the rear, and the bedroom is to the front. Just one bedroom, so one of us will be living in the living room. “Which room’s mine?” I asked.

“Take your pick,” Pike said.

The bedroom is bigger than the living room, and I need to be able to close and lock my door, not have Pike walking through all the time, so I walked into the bedroom and claimed it. There’s a bay window behind bars overlooking the street, where old tires and trash is piled on the sidewalks. I opened the window, and from down the street came the occasional sound of breaking glass and breaking marriages, and local toughs play dueling boomboxes on the stoop steps.

The best (and only) interesting thing about the bedroom is that there’s a built-in bench along one of the walls. The wall rises to about knee-height, then goes in a few feet, then up to the ceiling. Maybe I could call it a shelf and put books there... or, brilliant idea, maybe I could sleep on the bench. It's wooden but wide enough, since nobody's ever going to sleep with me. If I found a foam mat the right size or just wadded up my laundry, I wouldn't have to buy and build a bed.

There’s only one bathroom, of course, and it’s just a bathroom, but it’ll be my bathroom. Well, mine and Pike’s. Toilet, tub, sink, and a very small stained-glass window. Who puts stained glass into a bathroom window the size of a piece of paper?, I wondered, but the stained glass classes up the shitter, and the window opens. The toilet flushes. When I turned the faucet, there was hot water in a few seconds.

In the kitchen, there were mouse turds on the counter, and syringes in the cabinets. When I opened the unplugged refrigerator — Why did I do that? — there was an ancient gallon of milk and the smell made me retch. 

To Pike I said, "I walk around without pants a lot. Is that gonna be a problem?"

"I'm straight, man," he said. 

"Me, too."

"Probably not a problem then," he said, so I paid cash for my half of our first month’s rent, and Pike says he’ll have the keys duped and get me a copy tomorrow. Maybe I should’ve talked to him more, tried to make conversation? Nah, he was all about Leeza on the TV, and I don't like making conversation, and anyway, I was in a hurry to get to work at the shop with LeeAnn and Stevi.

As awful as the apartment and the street are, I’ve lived in worse places. I can live anywhere, and with a toilet and shower and a kitchen of my own, be it ever so humble, even a shitty apartment shared with Pike will be better than the rez hotel. I think. 

Should I be worried about Pike? Probably. I really don’t know diddlysquat about him. We worked at the same place a few years ago — my job before Macy's, doing surveys on the phone. We had no arguments there, but we never had a serious conversation about anything either. We’re damned near strangers, and I don’t think he’s even twenty years old. I’m 36.

It’s probably stupid to move in with him, but it’s not the first time I’ve done this exact stupid thing. Fifteen years or so ago, I invited a guy I barely knew to live with me, back in Seattle, and it worked out. We became great fiends, so maybe Pike and I will become friends, too. Or maybe he’ll strangle me in my sleep. Guess we’ll find out.

I have "anything legal" lined up that’ll keep me busy for the next few days, but I’m hoping to move in over the weekend.

♦ ♦ ♦

After working at Unusualia most of the day — inside schlepping stuff around, and then on the sidewalk wearing the cape — I checked my messages, and Dahlia had called. She said she had the revisions all revised, and could I please come to tonight’s rehearsal, then take her notes home and type it all up ASAP? Sure, but also yikes. If I’m working at the shop and for Jose and other odd jobs — and also moving — when am I going to have time to type a script?

Ah, well, it’s just one more worry. Collect them all. 

At the rehearsal, I watched from the seats and it felt eerily like my dream last night, only without Billy Mumy. Dahlia led the actors through some getting-to-know-your character exercises that seemed very very silly, but maybe that's the method. What do I know about acting? 

"Show me," she said, "how does your character walk? Does your character have an accent? A catch phrase? Does your character have any unusual habits or mannerisms?"

With half a dozen actors ‘acting’ their answers to these and other questions, often all at once, it looked like Tex Avery time. I was the only one giggling, though, and the only one in the seats. I have no character to get to know, for behold, I am only the typist.

Dahlia wants the script prepped and photocopied by Saturday, so I’d better quit typing about Doug and Dahlia and Pike, and start typing about Jesus and Mary and Brad and Janet.

From Pathetic Life #10
Thursday, March 9, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Pathetic Life 

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  1. Doug dont do it. Dont move in with Pike. He sets off alrms.

    Just kiddng, I know this was 25 years ago and hope it worked out.

    1. No spoilers from me, except that Pike didn't strangle me in my sleep. He never even tried.


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