Itsy-bitsy spiders

Slept ten hours on Sunday night, napped four or five hours yesterday, and then slept eleven hours last night. That's nuts. I'm a lifelong insomniac, and haven't slept this much since I was in a crib. Probably I should ask a doctor about it, but kissing Macy's goodbye cost me my medical coverage, so there's no doctor to ask.

My theory is, I was worried about making ends meet doing "anything legal" for a living, but since it seems to be paying enough to let me survive, I'm worrying less and sleeping more.

Woke up with a sore back, though. Must've strained it doing absolutely nothing yesterday.

It's a bad day for a backache — I have a gig in an hour and a half where I'm supposed to be Mr Heavy Lifting, helping some rich bastard organize her garage.

I assume she's a rich bastard, because who else could afford to own a home in San Francisco?

♦ ♦ ♦

In other news, the itsy-bitsy spiders are back, coming down from the ceiling, now in both the kitchen and the john. Walked into a few of them when I stepped out of the shower, which was sincerely unpleasant, but I didn't say anything to Pike. He was asleep. Maybe his oh-so-green "we won't use chemicals on God's harmless creatures" attitude will change when he walks into their webs.

♦ ♦ ♦

OK, now I'm annoyed. My morning gig — helping that lady clean out her garage — didn't happen. I stood at the appointed address until she was fifteen minutes late, left a note shoved through her mailslot, and walked to a phone booth to call and see what's up. What's up is, not her. She said she woke up drowsy, and rolled over and went back to sleep, and she didn't think to call me and cancel.

Not cleaning her garage is doubtless better for my back, and I told her she could reschedule and I'll cheerfully show up again, but first she'll need to pay me for four hours of work this morning. I was there. Her response wasn't literally a yawn, but it came across as 'couldn't care less'. 

Well, she can fuck off. I'll add her to the list. Let's see — so far I've said fuck off to Dahlia, fuck off to Jose, and now fuck off to this lady... whose address is right in front of me. I literally know where she lives. She'll either pay me for four hours work (that's my new minimum charge, for any gig) or I'll take my payment in the form of her front window pane. 

♦ ♦ ♦

In the afternoon I wore the green cape and handed out flyers. I look damned good in a cape, but man o man, it was cold today. Not Alaska cold, of course, but San Francisco cold. Can't fahrenheit it (I am not the Weather Service) but it was cold enough my fingers got numb.

Then, when my shift was over, I waited half an hour in the cold for a #8 bus home. The #8 runs every twelve minutes, says Muni, but Muni is a lying weasel like the lady with the garage.

In the near-freezing drizzle at the corner gas station's phone booth, I checked my messages, and arranged two more gigs. Then I called my brother Clay long-distance in Seattle, confirming that yes, I'll be flying north for a visit in May. He's very Christian and opposed to the kind of fun I'm hoping for, so I didn't mention that in addition to seeing the family, I'll also be spending some time with Sarah-Katherine while I'm there.

I suppose I could also see Margaret while I'm in Seattle, but I'm not planning to tell her I'm coming. When I miss Margaret, I can always punch myself.

♦ ♦ ♦

Came home frigid, broomed the spiders out of the way in the kitchen, and microwaved some vegetables for dinner. Pike's girlfriend was in the apartment again, and yesterday we said a few words but didn't really meet. Today we actually met — Pike said, "I should introduce you two" and did — and then we had a short but not short enough conversation. 

I'll leave her name out of it, because I forgot it instantly after the introduction, like I usually do. She's young like Pike, I'd guess fresh out of high school if she graduated, and she seems like a nice human and all, but she speaks bimbo. By that I mean, she uses bad grammar and weirdly wrong sentences — don't instead of didn't, me instead of I, non-ironic ain't instead of isn't, etc, and a few times she said groups of words I knew, all bunched together like they should add up to something, but they didn't. Arguably it's cute, and it would be some unknown but awful 'ism' to hold it against her, so I'll try not to. She also has a very nasal voice, though, and she was chewing gum while we spoke.

She comes off like a floozy character in an old movie. There, I said it.

When I mentioned the spiders again, Pike said he'd broomed them out of the kitchen, same as I had a few hours later, but his girlfriend said she hadn't seen any spiders in the apartment since yesterday. I said OK and then said good night, but if she hasn't seen the spiders then she hasn't looked closely. They are lots of them. They are quite small, though. Maybe she needs glasses.

From Pathetic Life #10
Tuesday, March 21, 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. This is a site that references movies from time to time. It might be worth noting that Sidney Poitier died yesterday. I'm not a big movie guy, and most of my favorites are in black and white, but I'm certainly aware that there was American movie making before Mr Poitier and American movie making after, and things were never the same.

    In one year, he starred in "To Sir, With Love", "In the Heat of the Night", and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner". I don't care whether the expert critics on the site liked those films; they would all have had less cultural impact and would have been lesser films without Poitier.

    Just as important as all the movies he made, were the ones he refused to make. He was always aware that he and Bill Cosby were the only Black actors of public note, particularly as seen from white eyes. In the late 60s, when he was getting a million dollars a movie, he refused roles that, in any way, demeaned African Americans.

    He was, simply, a fine actor, one of the best in films in his time, Black or white.

    He made it to 94, so many of his fans are in the ground. I'm happy to be here as a witness, to remind younger people that he was a giant.


    1. I thought he'd been dead for years. To Sir, With Love was a favorite when I was a kid. In the Heat of the Night still holds up. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, maybe not so much.

      Good actor. Decent man, near as I could tell.

    2. This seems rather subdued, my movie-nut buddy. Are you not such an admirer of Sidney Poitier?

    3. Sidney Poitier was the one and only black star of his era, not because there weren't other great black actors, but because one was the maximum allowed.

      He was a fine actor, and spoke up for civil rights and Poitier rights, and I have no criticisms.

      It cost him, though. As John noted, on principle Poitier declined any roles that played into black stereotypes, and he never played a coward or to my memory anyone villainous or deeply flawed. What that means is, without doing a Poitier retrospective, what comes to mind is Poitier playing a lot of eggs — Extremely Good Guys.

      He specialized in poached eggs, and did 'em just right, but by nature poached eggs aren't all that interesting or memorable. He slapped that old cracker in In the Heat of the Night, and that was excellent. Hit rewind and watch it again. But mostly what I remember is Poitier being perpetually patient on screen, putting up with crap in a lot of roles.

      It was necessary. Someone had to do it, and Poitier did it great, but it cost him, and we never much got to see the range of what he might've been able to do.

    4. I can't disagree with your astute assessment. The slap was great, and it might have been Poitier's idea.


    5. I never disagree with someone calling me astute.

  2. > By that I mean, she uses bad grammar and weirdly wrong sentences — don't instead of didn't, me instead of I, non-ironic ain't instead of isn't, etc, and a few times she said groups of words I knew, all bunched together like they should add up to something, but they didn't.

    That writing is astute -- nice ears. Everybody needs to learn at least one language: the one their parents or surrogate parents spoke. Obviously, some people are economically disadvantaged and can't afford fancy schools. But some of our most valuable teachers are in crumbling schools in crumbling neighborhoods, and the taxpayers pay for the education there. Anyone who fails to learn how to speak his or her "native" language reasonably properly is fucking two billion years of evolution in the ass.

    Open a goddamn book.



  3. I've known smart and/or good people who could barely speak, hardly read, and couldn't write anything more coherent than a phone number. I do try not to judge... but it makes a bad first impression, that's often not a mistake.

  4. > or I'll take my payment in the form of her front window pane.

    This is hyperbolie I hope?

  5. > I've known smart and/or good people who could barely speak, hardly read, and couldn't write anything more coherent than a phone number. I do try not to judge.

    Judging people is a fool's game, and is morally questionable, but I'll admit to thinking those who believe that Trump won the 2020 presidential election and that the Democrats are pedopheliacs and miscreants who work out of a pizza shop in Washington DC, missed an opportunity at education somewhere along the way. This constitutes a startlingly large percentage of the American population. You're entirely free to not judge them, and you're free to agree with them, but I think you would be wrong in both cases.

    Ignorance isn't the moral equivalent of evil. Some people have had less opportunity for formal education than others. But in most of the United States you can go to school for free, have the use of free books, get a free breakfast and a free lunch if you're living in poverty, and participate in after-school sports programs.

    As a progressive, I know these programs should be better funded and are far from perfect, but many of the teachers and administrators in these schools are committed and are not without language skills. It must be disheartening to them when they see their former pupils carrying protest signs outside a pizza restaurant because somebody named Trump told them to.

    These people are not living up to the potential that two billion years of evolution and a nation-state with free public schools and free libraries provided for them. Feel free to disagree, and I'll be happy to listen.


    1. It's a form of white privilege, or education privilege, or just proper grammar privilege, but when I hear people speaking awful English or read people who can't write a coherent one-sentence note, I suspect they're stupid. It doesn't help that when I get to know such people better, they usually are stupid, and yeah, the most vividly misspelled protest signs seem to be carried by QAnon nincompoops.

      There are exceptions, though, including a marvelous and kind friend of mine who couldn't type this sentence without twenty typos, and you'd be saddened if you heard her try to read it out loud. She emphatically isn't stupid, though. It's just that words are not her medium. Some people can spend twelve years getting a free public education, but certain subjects will never pierce their craniums. For me it was algebra. For her it was English.

      So I kick myself when I make such snap judgments, and try not to.

      It's also worth noting from my first sentence — after 60-some years of life and 50-some years of writing, I still can't spell *privilege* without a spellchecker's help.

    2. Doug,

      I remain convinced that rare exceptions shouldn't strongly influence how we think about the world. I had a close friend who, from the time I was 10 or so, I spent some time with almost every day. Brian and I rode bikes together, played baseball together, skateboarded together, and played thousands of hours of cards together with the other young people in our neighborhood. He never figured out school, and, for a while, attended a "special" Lutheran-sponsored school for the slow and damaged. Brian was neither. He just didn't process information like other kids. When White and McDivitt made the first space walk, Brian referred to them as McWhite and Divitt. When I got a student deferment from the draft after we left high school, Brian got drafted and sent to Vietnam, where he dodged bullets but picked up a nasty drug habit.

      When he came home he enrolled in vocational school and, as far as I know was doing OK, drug habit and all. I saw him less then because hard drugs weren't my thing, but still had a beer with him once or twice a week: friendships last.

      When he was 25, he was hanging out with some friends and, when it was time to go, handed his car keys to a guy who was less high, something a responsible person should do. There were four people in the car when the guy misjudged a corner on a fast highway and plowed into the end of a guardrail. Three guys walked away. Brian, in the front passenger seat hit the window and died long before help could arrive.

      I helped carry his casket to the hole in the ground and everybody had a good cry for a young life lost. That was in 1975 and I still think of him often, always fondly. I think of him as a good friend, a sharp card player, a guy who my family kind of adopted, and the guy who got me my first two jobs when I was in my early teens. I don't think of him as a dumbass, because he wasn't. I got adequate grades in school and he didn't, but neither of us could spell worth a damn, and I still can't. Brian no longer cares. But, through inference and a little bit of magic, he could "shoot the moon" in Hearts as well as anybody I've ever played with. Intelligence is complicated.

      And now, as I write this, I have tears in my eyes and can't see the fucking screen anymore. So, yeah, I know what you're talking about.


    3. Condolences about Brian, my man.

      Nothing much else to say, but I love it when you write.


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