"I'm a little short on the rent."

We're allowed five days grace, but today's the day the rent is due. It's $550 — $275 from Pike, $275 from me, and jack shit from Terry. Being a semi-responsible adult, I've been putting aside a hundred bucks each of the past three weeks, so my half of the rent is covered, with a little left over for utilities and whatever comes up.

When I got up this morning, though, the first thing Pike said was, "I'm a little short on the rent."

"How short?"

"I've got $210," he said, "and I'm hoping you can tide me over for a while."

"How long is a while?"

The answer was a shrug.

Hence my 'half' of the rent will be $340. I can cover it. Been working fairly steady, so it's not even a strain, but it's got to be a special occasion, not the start of a trend. 

Pike is unemployed, except for taking my odd-jobs overflow, and he doesn't seem to be particularly looking for work, but he's not a deadbeat. He has brains and wits enough, when we talk metaphysics it's hard keeping up with him. He's a decent dude, too, if I don't subtract too many points for his girlfriend, so I didn't lecture him, didn't hardass him, and didn't say "just this once." He knows I'm poor, so "just this once" goes without saying, or we wouldn't be in this shitty neighborhood with Mierda painted on the wall. 

A while later, though, when I walked through his room to the john, he was using his driver's license to lay out a line of coke on the coffee table. So he has the money for luxuries, but not for the rent.

♦ ♦ ♦

Maybe you've noticed how stories of IRS crackdowns seem to make the news in early April every year? It's not a coincidence, it's a scare tactic, designed to make anyone thinking of 'cheating' think again.

Well, this morning's IRS PR in the Chronicle is comical: The geniuses at Internal Revenue suspect that laundromats might be under-reporting their quarters, since it's all jingle-jangle cash. With this as their "probable cause," IRS is going to gas, electric, and water utilities, to determine which laundromats seem to be using more hot water than their sales could account for.

America, baby — land of the free, home of the brave, where you're always subject to audit, investigation, and fines, so keep all receipts for seven or eleven years.

♦ ♦ ♦

"You have — six — new messages." 

Two calls were from potential clients. I called 'em back, and maybe something will come of it.

A furious man left a furious message, complaining that I'd stuck my "anything legal" stickers on newspaper vending boxes, and he'd had to scrape them off. He didn't leave a number so I didn't call back, but I'd say, no sir, maybe you chose to scrape my stickers off, but you didn't have to. I don't stick my stickers over the coin slot, or the news window — they're on the side of the box, doing no damage to anything. If you "had to" scrape them off, well, you'll have to do it again next time I make the rounds.

Maggie called. She got my letter, and wanted to say she still loves me. I still don't know why. She asked me to call her, collect. I didn't, but might.

Kallie called, inviting me to a party at her place tomorrow. I'm not going, of course. I don't do parties. But I did call her back.

And here's the last and weirdest message: My brother's ex-wife called, to say she's in town with my niece for a few days, and I'm invited to join them for dinner. 5:30 tonight, at the Hard Rock Café.

That's not happening, because (a) I'll be working at 5:30, (b) the Hard Rock is an evil yuppie scumhole, and (c) I barely give a rip about them anyway.

When Madeline left my brother Dick, she also left town and took the baby with her. That was twelve years ago. We were never close. And she friggin' dumped my brother — but now she wants to meet me for dinner, with their teenage daughter, Marianna, a kid I haven't seen since she was barely out of diapers?

Mostly I'm immune to the concept of family, but... is my ex-sister-in-law still family? Am I supposed to love her, eat an overpriced cheeseburger with her?

No hard feelings, but no. I don't want to hang out with Madeline and Marianna, just because they're family, or ex-family. There's an uncle in Texas I've never met — am I supposed to love him? My mom has a crazy sister who lives in Idaho, and I've only seen her a few times, but enough to vouch for 'crazy' — am I supposed to love her? Call me a monster, but I simply don't care about my ex-sister-in-law.

I choose for myself who I'm going to care about. Some days I don't even care about me. Other days even that's too demanding.

Today I care about Kallie, enough to return her call but not enough to go to a party. I care about Maggie, but a little less, so her call remains un-returned. In a month I'm flying north to Seattle, to see my mom and a few of my siblings and their kids, and I care about them all. Love them. Looking forward to seeing them.

While I'm there, though, I'm not going to hang out with any of them them more than once or twice. It gets depressing.

From Pathetic Life #11
Sunday, April 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. No your ex-sister-in-law is not family and a phone call out of the blue from awoman who dumped your brother years earlier, no hey, that sounds like a vey bad idea. Dodged a butter there.

    1. >Dodged a butter there.

      I try to use margarine.

    2. Here in Wisconsin, we don't take kindly to margarine.


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