Los Angeles, CA
Stuck in a rut with working and juggling life stuff. I'm not one to let things pass too long without documenting them, so I'm gonna be throwing together this post over a 24 hour period, a couple of sentences and fragmented thoughts at a time.
I caught an old lady stealing sugar packets from Jack in the Box. She's one of those crazy old ladies with smeared eye make up and lipstick. She grabbed a handful and looked around to see if anyone was watching... I was and she missed me... and she dropped that batch into a plastic bag and then went in for two more fistfuls before she walked up to the counter said something and walked into the back. She looks like she might be completely bat shit crazy or perhaps she's a former starlet stashing away $3 million in a savings bonds locked in a lockbox underneath her ottoman.
Of course, that wasn't the worst thing I saw during that afternoon trip to secure a BIG ASSED iced tea. That would be the drooling guy who was nodded out in the back booth. He had an empty tray with a thousand of torn up little pieces of paper and two twisted straws that looked like a puppy had been using it as a chew toy. I couldn't tell if he was an old junkie nodding off in between spikes or if he was just an deranged person slumped over because of his high-potent anti-psychotic prescription pills.
"Do you hear that?"
It sounded like drops of water, like when you don't tighten the knobs in your shower and a little bit of water trickles out minutes after the fact. Except that sound did not come from the bathroom. Instead, it was in the bedroom. I went to investigate and saw the ceiling dripping. Heavily. A rushed to get a bucket from underneath the sink and when I returned it was raining inside the bedroom. We got luck because the majority of the concentration was in a small unused area in between Nicky's massive-sized dresser, her desk and the foot of the bed. Six or seven inches in any direction and we would have had serious damage to personal stuff. As is, the only things we lost were a perfectly good towel, it really could have been a lot worse.
I went upstairs to the neighbor's apartment and they didn't have a leak from their shower or bathroom. It was in between the floors. Must have been a busted pipe somewhere in the bowels of our slummy apartment.
Nicky called our slumlord. It took him one hour to get here. It's Mother's Day, he told us as an excuse. Of course, instead of turning off the water right away, he decided to poke around in the attic. When he discovered the issue (a broken pipe in the attic that was dripping through the walls), he called his plumber. Of course, he has a special plumber and didn't bother calling a different one for this emergency. He had to use his guy, but his guy was not available.
"Tomorrow morning," he said.
"Why not now?" I pressed.
"It's Mother's Day. He's in San Diego."
All good sons visit their mothers, especially Mexican men who hold their mothers in the highest regard.
"San Diego means Mexico," I said calling his bluff.
"Si. Manana," said the slumlord.
"Great. What if he gets detained at the border? He might not show up?"
I couldn't win this argument. No sense in trying to use jedi mind tricks to get him to turn off the water. I had to wait until morning to get the leak fixed. Until then, all I had was the bucket.
I was up until 4am working. Nicky slept in my office. The futon can fit two, but uncomfortably. I slept in the bedroom with the drips hitting the bucket at the rate of five every three seconds. Sometimes the water droplets were soothing, but other times, terrifying, like the Tell Tale Heart. I couldn't fall alseep, even though I was exhausted and drained after a long weekend, and even a long week of other pressing mental disasters. When I finally fell asleep, I was woken by the alarm. 6am. Time to inspect the ceiling and wait for the plumber. At sunrise, the paint on the ceiling began to bubble for over 25% of the entire ceiling. The dripping has expanded a couple of inches and started to miss the bucket.
And I waited... and waited.
6:30am. Nothing. 7am nothing. 7:30am, my slumlord arrived but no plumber. What if he was detained by the border patrol or minute men? What if he doesn't show?
At 8:27am, the plumber finally showed up and he took one look at my ceiling and said, "That's bad."
No shit, Sherlock. We called the night before for a reason.
The first thing he did? Shut off the water. Why our landlord didn't do that, I'll never know. After a couple of hours, the plumber emerged from the attic with the broken pipes. He fixed everything and the dripping finally stopped.
"So when are you going to fix the ceiling?"
"It needs to dry first."
"So this weekend?"
"How about the end of the month?"
Face palm. This is what I get for paying cheap rent in the slums of Beverly Hills. We'd pay $1,000 more for the same place two blocks north, but then again we'd have an actually Beverly Hills street address and we'd have a proper landlord who attended to our basic needs... like not having it rain in our fucking bedroom.
I have an odd assignment... sort of a "hurry up and wait" kind of thing. I'm essentially always on-call and waiting to spring into action, so I can't stray too far or get to lit. In short, it's been a challenge to stay sober because during huge periods of boredom is usually solved by a wee bit of inebriation. The catch here is that that lull can keep going on and on and on and in essence a wee bit here and there all of a sudden turns into a steady buzz and accumulated over a long time makes it harder to stay awake.
So I've been reading a lot and catching up on thousands of articles and blogs that I had bookmarked over the last few months. I cleaned out my Bloglines folders and did some serious purging. I shifted how I view news drastically. I rely on the Google overlords to send me the NOW/INSTANT/GOTTA STAY CONNECTED TO THE GRID news to my iGoogle page which has three columns specializing in things that I need to know right now. Bloglines used to be my go-to venue, but no longer. It has become a place for feeds and stories that are non-essential, more like non-time sensitive Salon and Wall Street Journal articles. I go to Bloglines to catch up. Adjusting the Bloglines settings for my CrackBerry has been wonderful because it gives me something to read at the coffeeshop.
I also have a couple of bookmarked websites that I also go to check news, so my connectivity is essentially a six-pronged approach...
1. iGoogle news feedsNotice that TV is last because I never watch it, especially for news. Twitter has been all I need these days, ironically. In the last few days, Twitter is where I learned about the slide in the stock market, a perfect game in the making, the death of Lena Horne, and Betty White thrashing it up on SNL.
2. Bookmarked news feeder websites
4. Word of mouth (emails, texts, IMs, calls)
I analyze how I seek out news in order to better prepare myself in the future as someone who is a freelancer in the media and someone who has a couple of pieces of valuable (and unquantifiable) web real estate. How do others seek out their info? And can I insert myself in that genre and get paid to write?
Content will always be king on the internet. I keep telling myself that someone will need good writing down the line. The lightning fast new sites with vanilla blurbs have no need for my services. They hire bland typists who will work for no pay. Hopefully, a few avant-garde publications will pay a living wage for "literature-minded" pieces and journalistic long-form, but those are few and far between, especially because I'm not looking for journalism work. So my future looks like this... the gravy is in being able to do the zippy blurbs, which will pay the bills... and fund the passion for lengthier projects -- which caters to people who actually want to sit down and lose themselves in writing, or those who have the extra time on their hands to read, instead of fast-food news which is what has been driving the news cycle the last few years. The titans of media are losing their ability to horde advertising revenue as the entire paradigm shifts.
These are things that keep me up at night.
In ten years, the e-publishing world will be so instant that I can literally write "THE END", hit publish and within ten seconds the novel will appear on your shelf as a virtual book to be read anywhere in your house, on your phone, on the train, on an airplane, on a computer, in your car, on the shitter in the stall in your office. If the eco-nazis take over this world and outlaw books because they kill trees, then I'll be forced to exclusively write e-books. Which means the days of 700-800 page screeds are over. Time for the novella to make a huge comeback next decade. I'm banking on it.