Guess I'll be a Berkeley boy.

Today was a good day on Telegraph. Best day yet. Sold enough fish to more than break even, actually making Jay a few cents profit after my wages. And on a weekday, too.

After doing the fish thing, I walked the mile or so to Judith's house, where we talked over the details of her kind housing-and-housework offer. In exchange for 12-14 hours a week mopping and sweeping and scrubbing and such, I'd get a room free of rent, and she'd get less of a mess of a house.

I'm pretty sure living with Judith wouldn't drive me insane. I like her, and she is insane, officially. She needed to prove it once, that she's unbalanced enough she can't work, so to get some form of government aid, she passed a test, or failed a test, whatever. The cliché is 'certifiable', and she's certified. Grade A bonkers.

She's a friend, she's nuts, and she's also my boss, which could be a tricky combination. If Judith my boss gets on my nerves, I'd go home and there's Judith again, Judith the nut, and Judith the flatmate. In the several times I've seen her, though, she hasn't much bugged me yet. A little, sure, but everyone bugs me at least a little. Mother Teresa? Alan Alda? They can both kiss my ass.

Jake is her husband and he seems to be amicably gruff. Sometimes he tosses viciously sarcastic comments, but he hasn't yet tossed any at me, and the zingers I've heard have been funny. He and I certainly haven't clicked, but we haven't clashed, either, and he works 60+ hours a week, so he wouldn't have much time to infuriate me. If I'm keeping his house clean, presumably he wouldn't hate me.

Cy is the boarder who lives three doors down from what would be my room. We've had a couple of conversations, and he seems OK, too. He telecommutes to work on that Information Superhighway everyone's talking about, and he has a bad back so he's not on a bowling team or anything, which means he's almost always home, but he stays in his room mostly, and doesn't hang out with the others. Fine by me.

Joe is the other flatmate. He's some kind of a software geek, quiet and bookish, and also always in his room. He's very introverted, member of a chess club. I've only met him once, and he clearly couldn't wait for the introduction to be over. Basically he's me without all the flab.

There are three cats, all friendly purring houselions. One of them is very old and no longer uses the litter box, seems to have pooping and peeing privileges anywhere she wants to go, and usually she wants to go on the back porch, or the closet in the guest room. Both places stink, of course, but it smells like job security to me, since I'm the guy who cleans up after. If I take the job and move in, I will keep my bedroom door latched to keep that cat out.

And there's a dog — Lugosi. I love Lugosi. He's the size of an Oldsmobile, with a ferocious salivating bark that loosens the plaster. He doesn't want to bite, though. He only wants to play. Toss a tennis ball down the hall, and he'll fall over himself in a hairy hurry to bring it back sloppy and wet, drop it at your feet, and wait impatiently for you to toss it again. Being huge, his happy tail tends to knock on doors or topple whatever's been left in the hallway.

And there's always plenty that's been left in the hallway, and everywhere else. I haven't seen inside Cy or Joe's rooms, but Judith & Jake are beatniks not neatniks. I'm a sloppy and messy guy, but Judith & Jake's place always looks like a burglar broke in the night before.

Their flat is near BART, so getting to San Francisco for work or movies or El Castillito won't be difficult. People's Park and Telegraph Ave, where I work as Jay's fishmonger, are about a mile away, a reasonable walk, and Berkeley has two theaters that show old movies all the time, the Pacific Film Archive and the UC. 

All in all, this arrangement could work. I keep looking for the catch, but the only half-problem I can spot is the neighborhood. It's awfully whitebread, much quieter and safer and more boring than I'm used to.

Cy told me there's a "drug house" down the street, but in Berkeley that probably means a high school kid who deals pot. Where Pike & Terry and I live, crack is the leading industry, but on Judith's block I haven't seen any obvious addicts, haven't heard gunshots, haven't seen anything interesting at all.

If peace and quiet is the only drawback, well, I'll suffer through it. Yeah, I think I'm moving in.

It's not happening today or tomorrow, though, because the room that would be mine is absolutely overflowing with Judith & Jake's accumulated everything — clothes, boxes, old magazines, old furniture, two broken TV sets, and just general junk a foot deep, three feet in the drifts.

It's going to be a lot of work clearing everything out of that room, work which falls to me, of course. Then comes the more ordinary unpleasantness of moving, which will involve shuttling what little I own under the bay via BART.

After that, guess I'll be a Berkeley boy. A whole different city to get to know.

From Pathetic Life #13
Thursday, June 15, 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.

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