A crappy update, maybe once weekly

I can't write without solitude, and there's not much solitude while I'm staying with my sister and mom in the outskirts of Seattle. Can't think without solitude either, and I need to think. Solitude and thinking and internet access are only on tap at the library, surrounded by strangers and staff, and you have to ask permission to use the toilet.

Life is on hold, so this site has been on hold too, and there won't be many updates until there's a place of my own. Soon, I frickin' hope.


April 2, 2022

Meanwhile, expect a crappy update like this, maybe once weekly.

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I am full of doubts. Seattle is much bigger and more crowded than when it was home for me 30+ years ago. I'm the strangest stranger in a strange land full of strangers, and everything seems strange. 

Moving someplace where I knew nobody, quickly finding a place to live, a job to pay the rent, and surviving — even thriving, at least by my lowlife terms — I've done all that, several times in life. Coming back to Seattle, where I grew up, I was hoping to do it again.

Disadvantage: I'm much older now.

Advantage: It's Seattle, and I grew up here, so it's my home turf. But most of what I remember about the area has been torn down, changed, and crowded out of existence by Amazon and Microsoft, giant evil conglomerates that didn't exist when Seattle was my town, and they own the city now.

Last time I did this, I was a white man able to pretend at normalcy for long enough to make a good impression of low-rent landlords. Now, though, even the lowest-rent landlords want to run a credit check on me, which of course comes up blank cuz I've never done credit, which makes me look like a big risk for the rent.

So my next step is to target the neighborhoods that look hospitable, and look for room-for-rent posts on telephone poles and in laundromats. Maybe some old-school landlords who don't post ads on-line will still be impressed by my somewhat normal appearance and ability to pay cash.

We'll see. In the back (sometimes front) of my mind, I am wondering why I left Wisconsin, where there was an apartment and there could've been a job. Jeez, I hope I don't regret moving to Seattle. But hey, I say to myself, you've done this before and you're still you. It's all gonna work out in the end.

And if it doesn't, well, maybe it'll make a good short story.

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My sister is happy to see me, and me her. My mom is my mom — I'm happy to see her, too, but she makes me nuts, and I sorta suspect it's on purpose.

She asks what might be ordinary questions about my life, but it's so obvious (to me, anyway) that she wants inside my life, wants to judge my life, that every question feels like an interrogation. Like I should have my attorney present. Like she's collecting evidence to build a case.

She asked, for example, seemingly innocent questions about my drive from Wisconsin — where did you stop and sleep? (in hotels), what did you eat? (food), how did the cat like it? (she didn't), etc. I don't want to talk about such things because they're boring, the answers are only what you'd expect, and whatever answers I give, she references that info in future questions that can only be answered with 'yes, mom'. That's what I mean by 'collecting evidence'.

Like, she asked yesterday where I'd spent the night for my three nights on the road. The answer is, Sioux Falls, SD; Buffalo, Wyoming; Missoula, Montana. Today she asked, "So you spent your first night on the road in Sioux Falls, SD?"

Yes, Mom.

And then she wanted to know all about Sioux Falls, SD. Anything I told her, like, 'I had a sandwich at a sandwich shop,' she asked follow-up questions. What kind of sandwich? Wheat bread or white bread? I rolled my eyes and said ham on wheat, so the next day when I came home from the store she asked why I'd bought raisin bread instead of wheat bread, and bologna instead of ham.

See, her questions are never ordinary questions people ask each other. It's more like she's building a dossier on me.

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Here's my second night at my sister's place. It's a very small house — just two rooms, one for Katrina and one for my mom, so I sleep in the living room. Sis wisely turns in almost as soon as she gets home from work, leaving me and Mom to talk all night. I was exhausted from a day of fruitless shared-house-hunting, and by 7:00, I was drifting away in the recliner, and Mom asked again, "You don't have a TV?" 

"Nope, I don't have a TV." We'd already exchanged those two sentences at least five times in my first day. Ten times, if you count the loudly repeated lines when she doesn't hear my answer the first time.

"You should see what you're missing," she said, and turned the TV on. It's her house, her living room, her TV, and I'm just a guest, so the TV was on for the evening. I paid scant attention to the 'reality' shows she watched, but I couldn't think, either. Couldn't sleep. Couldn't plan my hovel-hunting strategy for the next day. Couldn't put together a sentence that made sense.

Mom wanted to talk about the TV show, explain the premise (here's the premise: it's about fat people trying to lose weight) and I was supposed to watch and be interested, but I didn't and wasn't. When the second episode started, I took my brain and myself to my car.

When I got cold and came back inside an hour and a half later, Mom was still watching the Inanity Channel (as if there's only one). After another half an hour or so I said, "I'm going to fall asleep now."

"Good night," she said, and thankfully she mostly stopped talking, but she kept watching the TV, and she's very hard of hearing, so the volume was all the way loud, and I kept popping in and out of sleep, as the obese women on the tube went to a high school reunion to be embarrassed.

The show wasn't the worst part of it, though. Worst were the endless commercials, mostly for other stupid shows on the same channel, shows that made the show about fat people look like Shakespeare. Always in the corner, except during the commercials, was an on-screen ad for something called Dr Pimple Popper, another show on what is, apparently, my mom's favorite TV channel. Gotta be better than watching the preacher channels, I guess.

Once every hour or so, if I was sleeping too well, Mom woke me to explain how the chair reclines, and I re-explained that I know how the chair reclines but I'm fine un-reclined.

I could explain that the chair makes an odd sound when it's reclining, and I'm a big fat man who's broken several chairs just by being fat, and anyway it's perfectly comfortable sitting with the chair un-reclined. I don't want to explain all that, though, because it's not worth the words, spoken at yell-volume so she could hear, to explain something she wouldn't understand but would argue with. And who cares whether I recline or don't recline? Well, Mom cares.

"I am not reclining the chair," I said. "The end." She laughed and explained what lever to pull to recline the chair, and I was wide awake four hours after I wanted to be asleep.

This is not sustainable. Jeez, I need to find a place pronto.

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When I wrote Pathetic Life it was my diary, but a diary rewritten several times, until I wasn't ashamed of it.

This is a diary entry, too, but at the library, or at my sister's house with my mom all over me, there's no chance for rewriting.

It sucks, but this is the closest I can come to writing right now, sorry.

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Driving through South Dakota and Wyoming and Montana and Idaho and eastern Washington, listening to redneck talk radio and country music, reading bumper stickers and billboards and even local newspaper headlines, reinforced my pessimism.

So much of America has pledged allegiance to stupidity, worships at Donald Trump's solid gold urinal, that if there was an emergency — say, a major pandemic, or climate change, or if the Russian army invaded America — Redneck America would be actively aligned with America's enemies, same as always, just out of habit.

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No time for news-hopping, but one story that's inescapable in the newspaper (Mom subscribes, and it lands on the front porch every morning) and the newscasts (Mom watches, so I have to watch too) is this: President Biden has ordered the release of a huge portion of the nation's strategic oil reserves. His thinking is, maybe that'll eventually lower the price of gas by a dime or 20¢ a gallon.

I thought the purpose of a strategic oil reserve was to have oil, in reserve, in case of an emergency. Gas prices going up is an inconvenience, not an emergency.

There's a war in Ukraine. People are dying. We're supposed to be rooting for the victims, so you're not buying Russian vodka and you're angry at US companies still doing business in Russia. Part of the pain of war in the Ukraine is, gas prices will go up — and Americans can't even handle that minimal gripe?

Climate change is happening, and eventually the oil will run dry, and gasoline will get much, much more expensive. It might be nice to have an oil reserve then, when it means hospitals can remain plugged in, subways can run, and gruel can be delivered to starving Americans. Nope, we won't have that oil when we need it, because we used it all to keep your RV trip to the mountains at less than $6 p/gallon.

Cranky Old Man is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.
Tip 'o the hat to All Hat No Cattle, Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, Meme City, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks.
Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S., and always Stephanie...


  1. You can do it, brother. A cranky old bastard can survive, to paraphrase an old country song.

    1. Yeah, I'll do it, but I won't like it. And I've already had enough of family (mom mostly, but not entirely) second-guessing everything I do.

      Room of my own can't happen soon enough.

  2. Glad you made it there, Doug. Now you'll make it there.

    1. Found a room I like. Now we're just waiting for the current tenant to finish moving out.

  3. I briefly moved back in with my Mom when I relocated back home at the ancient age of 39. Same thing. Never-ending questions about stupid stuff. I of course miss her now that she's been gone over ten years, but damn I do not miss the interrogations.

    1. Sorry about your mum, Mark.

      I wouldn't mind the questions if they led to a conversation, but they never do. She asks, for example, where I slept while driving to Seattle, and I tell her the first hotel was in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but that's where it ends, until the next day, when she'll ask, "So, you spent the night in Sioux Falls, SD?" And I got nothing more to say about Sioux Falls, SD...


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