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Entries in roommates (4)


Does Practice Really Make Perfect?

It's hard to believe that I am moving again. On the other hand, it is day and night from what the last experience was. The last move was utterly horrendous in a way that a person could wish that the memory erasing procedure in The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was real. Or not. You know, you have to measure the good times against the bad ones to appreciate the good. So in that regard, I guess that the grueling experience of the mid summer of 2005 was necessary and maybe good. My old man is still an ass with regards to his little vendetta he is holding against me, but we don't have much to do with him now.

Yesterday I spent some time at the new house raking and cutting some brush and hauling it off. Adam left on Tuesday, and his dad Phil is cleaning out the house. I have a lot of things over there already, mainly in the garage. With most of the trips I am making to the place for various reasons, things are trickling in. Glenn and I are about to take a new truckload or two over today. Kelli started school this week so she is limited as to what she can do, but at least the last days at this apartment are ones when she has off so we can bust out with the final cleaning and stuff, and by then the new house will be cleaned and ready for us to set up camp for real. Our final roommate situation is not finalized, though Phil's partner Nancy has a son that will be one of them for a while, and possibly Suzanne, a friend of Kelli's will be the second.

This moving experience has been a whole lot smoother and rewarding than the last. It only leads me to worry that when the year is up (the intended time that Adam and wife Caroline will live in her native Brazil), it might have to be another challenging move to some other situation where once again there would be no studio, no space, and the feeling of being pushed into an uncomfortable corner. But there's no sense in letting that spoil the fun. With that in the back of the mind though, it does sort of suggest that maybe I need to pare down my material possessions so that I don't have to endure loss, breakage and ironically, clutter (!) such as I have these last few months.


Empty Nest

It wasn't meant to be this way, but I'm sort of glad that it is. Me and the wifey have the house to ourselves, with no roommates at the moment. Usually we would have two others here. I've had two roommates more or less continuously since mid 2001, with a lot of turnover (eight people in three years, not counting Kelli moving in). The best roommate I ever had and the downright strangest one have both left now. One left on his own after a year, and the other was asked to leave, in part because he was clinically psycho. So, until Kelli and I get the place tidied up and advertised, we have it to ourselves. I was sort of looking forward to having steady roommates in a time of change, but no.

On the first night of our return to home (Sunday), psycho roommate John had a mad episode where he was absolutely raging at his demons who apparently were genetically modifying him, and usually though a homosexual rape procedure. John was just over the top that night. We are used to him shouting, but this was bring broadcast throughout the neighborhood at 10:30. I called 911, like I have done on two or three other occasions like this. Now, what a way to get your marriage off to a start! Kelli and I had spent Sunday unwrapping all our gifts and decided to put most of the worthwhile and unique stuff into my studio where it could be locked up, lest John choose to avail himself of it in the last few days of his stay. Those fears were unfounded however, because he got carried off by the cops, to the county mental hospital. The next I saw of him was yesterday when he officially was out of a rental agreement. Since he was gone and we were done with him, we called his boss and asked him to take his stuff to where John could get it. John ended up getting out of the ward and came and got stuff himself. Now all I have to do is do odd things like figure out how to hide various screw holes where he screwed my vinyl framed windows shut, and also screwed the door shut. He was an odd bird. He'd lock the door when he took a few steps to the bathroom, or stacked toolboxes and a table against the door after locking it. He ate only sealed food, favoring cans of diced tomatoes, beets, pork and beans, and a shitload of ramen noodles. (I'd noticed he would open the ramen and eat only the flavoring.) Then there was the fact that he would go into the bathroom for nearly an hour, run the shower, then would purge himself with some dreadful sounding vomiting. He always had vitamins and supplements. I guess you need that if you are gonna give back all the food you eat. He was obsessive about cleaning the kitchen sink, but often left the bathroom a mess, and his room is an interesting place where he had no furniture but for two pieces I lent him. He had no bed. He slept fully clothed with the lights on. That is assuming he actually slept. He flogged himself. He only read the Bible, no doubt favoring the book of Revelation (he also had a few study guides laying around). He likes Bush. He was an alarm installer. Hmm... fear of genetic modification, love of apocalyptic literature, and a fear of nearly everything, and a professional security installer. Sounds like a good time.

Anyway, I shall see no more of him. Kelli was understandably scared of him, but he really was pretty harmless. He was really in his own little hell, and took it out on himself.

And now, for the last few nights, conveniently at the very start of our marriage, Kelli and I have all the house to ourselves. It has been a long time since I haven't had to share the place. I lived here alone for six months back in 2000-2001 between the time my grandmother had to go to the hospital and when my old man took over.

There is something very peaceful about this now. The lack of interruption is just blissful. I've grown accustomed to people coming and going, but there is something really satisfying when you can just sit down to dinner with your partner and eat, or close all the blinds and just go at it wherever and whenever the mood strikes. Kelli and I do okay with the two rooms we have to ourselves, but it is nice to take a break from such limited quarters, even though it's not like she stands a chance to get any poetry done with the extra space, and I have all but given up on music, despite having the space available since day one.

The problem now is one that I already have had to deal with, but at a smaller scale. Kelli and I have enough stuff to fill this house, and we do just that. With the exception of the rental rooms, the whole place is filled with my furniture that I inherited or collected, and a bunch of knicknacks, and frankly, a lot of stuff. And now we have more and more stuff from all the wedding gifts. It's like we have been married for a few decades. So really, any prospective roommate doesn't need much but their own stuff to sleep on. I sort of wonder if having all this stuff affects the selection of roommates, eliminating the ones that see there is no place for their stuff, and leaving me with the dudes who are not really going to stay for a while because for the most part, all they have is a room full of stuff, and one room is the same as the next. And now I am afraid of people stealing stuff that will be more and more sentimental to Kelli and me. I could tolerate a little loss or breakage before, but now that will be a more frustrating thing should it happen. There was a roommate who left early last year who tried to make off with some of my stuff. Nothing precious, but I caught him and took my stuff back, and replaced it with a couple dirty and bug-covered bricks taken from a pile in my back yard. He never told me how that went down upon getting to his new place. I got him good, but it made me even more paranoid about sharing stuff, just as a bachelor.

Yesterday, I had dinner ready and waiting for Kelli to get home from a reading. It was my ever-improving chicken stir fry and rice. I totally nailed it. Had some wine at the ready, and when Kelli got home, we were at the table in just a few minutes, house totally silent, dark but for a bunch of candles scattered about, and the delicious scent of garlic and stir fry wafting about in the house. All we had to do was just enjoy being with each other, and we did. No distractions. Sweet. I plan to savor it while it lasts.


I Guess This Doesn't Suck After All

Last week was spent stripping my kitchen of its cupboard doors and refinishing them and repainting the entire kitchen itself. It was something I had on the work sheet for over two years since my grandmother died in early 2001. The cabinets had been in her favorite color: yellow. Two tones of the stuff. Everyone who has lived here since (I’m on roommates six and seven now) has not liked the yellow but was too unmotivated for whatever reason to help me do anything about it. Now with the Gus and Sara, it's been a breeze getting stuff done because all three of us feel like making something of the place. I have my first female roommate in over five years now, and she is really motivated to see the place become home like and livable. After two and a half years of guys who don’t give a shit, that is a blast of fresh air. Hey, imagine always having to make decisions and do all the work yourself then imagine coming home from work one day to find some work is getting done on its own. It is nice to see some interest in the place come from someone other than myself, for a change. Gus the Greek is a hard worker and a great guy who wants to see this place take on the role of “home” too. I want to make the distinction between home and house. All the other people here but for one (the one that later tried to steal from me in the end) have been pretty much the garden variety young male roommates who don’t attach themselves to the place beyond a living space in exchange for some money. But this place is some place I grew up in, and in more recent years, have put a lot of work into. It's hard to keep it up, mostly as far as energy goes, and it's harder when no one helps. I really had to get people in here who would be more respectful and motivated to make it a place to really enjoy. So far, I have been totally jazzed on the fact that some strangers have come in and wanted to make it their own as much as I have. It means a lot to me after some years of the opposite. I’m not into all that feng shui stuff. I just think I’m done with the gross imbalance that has been my domestic life in the last few years.

I was going to say something about how it was 20 years ago that I first started to learn to play drums (with a hiatus for about four or five years in the late 80s). That may or may not be important. What I would like to say is that, now, 20 years after I was beginning to learn my first rock beats, it comes full circle. I played drums on Come and Get It for a Badfinger tribute CD arising out of an online Roland VS recorder group I used to haunt. My buddy and mentor figure Doug Robinson had me over to do studio work several times in the summer before and after I quit music in July. One day, he suggested we play some Badfinger tune, and that I play guitar on it. Well, two things happened: First I felt way inadequate to play guitar, then we found the song actually didn’t have guitar on it at all! So I went to the old standby, suggesting I play drums on it. We cut it in about three rehearsals with Doug on piano and me on his funky and vibey old sounding jazz kit that just got the Ringo feel happening in me. We recorded drums and piano in one room and in one take, with some seemingly random fixes punched in to put some more specific drum fills in (clearly audible if you listen for it, but mostly masked even to me who thought we should do it all over, but Doug persisted in leaving it sort of a hasty job with such human flaws so readily apparent). Then we did the percussion in one pass and he did bass. He sent that recording to a buddy who did the huge multitracked vocals. Doug got the tracks back to his place and mixed them (with a little contribution from me in the form of the warbly effect on his grand piano to simulate the Lennonesque detuned honky tonk piano tone on the original. Paul Horn, drummer in the TAPKAE band for about eight months, gave me props for hitting the feel right on. It's funny, after all the prog rock I have been so keen on, the stuff I still do best is the simple stuff, sort of like the stuff I learned at the very beginning. I don’t have to read it off a page anymore though.

Man, I just want to say how much I love Jethro Tull. I got the Heavy Horses remaster and it just shimmers like a jewel. It took me a long time to really like that album but more and more I find it one of the finest Tull releases ever. I like most all of the ‘77-’87 period best, ironically some of that is least liked by hardcore fans, but I say, hey! Tull is just the beacon for me in music. They are so unlike any other band, as far as I care. Sometimes I feel a little guilty for fallng back on Tull so much, but what can I say? They just come up with the goods for me. Ian Anderson finally made the really cool acoustic solo album he was always expected to make. Rupi’s Dance is really nice music overall. So far there is no tune that turned me off musically. The only bummer is that he can’t sing like he used to up till 1984. He can’t just go for it nearly as much as he used to. His instrumentals are as good as anything he ever did though. Ian is, to me, brilliant. This CD has him doing a lot of instrumental parts from the expected guitar and flute to accordion, bass, piccolo, mandolin and percussion. He has long been an inspiration for me.



So far, things are looking up. For you astute readers of TAPKAE.com who are in the know, things got pretty bad around here for most of the summer, and desperate in early September. Y'all can read about that on the 2003 page above if this is coming as news to you. The meds seem to be taking some effect now with a couple solid weeks of being on them. But more importantly, I think, is that there are some things that I am doing directly to not let the depression take another foothold.

Last week I went and bought a bike and each day have been riding a couple miles. So far it has all been in the neighborhood, just zigzagging all over the streets and hills that make up my area here in Clairemont. I found a trail a few days ago that I absolutely didn’t know existed, and it was in the canyon directly down the hill from my street! I rode the mile and a half or so that was extremely bikeable, then it turned to adventure as the trail gave way to a washed out river bed that was very wooded and rocky, causing me to have to carry or drag the bike all the way. This went on for about a quarter mile at the end, opening up into the back side of a small townhome development at Balboa and Moraga area. Considering I never knew the trail existed, this was great fun for me. It reminded me of when my childhood and adolescence was spent doing precisely this discovery and adventure in the canyons in my neighborhood. So that was certainly a good thing. I did the ride in the afternoon just before dusk, a nice clear Saturday that gave way to the evening clouds and fog we get here every night. It was just as I remembered it. Instead of having mom back home with dinner ready, it was my Kelli taking a nap for the time I was gone (she was surprised to find it was two hours), then having to make the dinner myself, for us. That isn’t quite how I remember it, but it is great nonetheless to come home to.

Domestic life is also looking better around here. I have two new roommates who are more interested in taking care of the house as their own than any other roommates I have had, but for one (the one who eventually tried to steal from me, go figure). Anyway, we have Gus the Greek who is a chef and baker. He is about 18 years older than me, and works like mad to get whatever he sets his mind to. I don’t think he worries too much about material possessions much. I think he has this old world view that I find refreshing. He and I are making a little garden in the back yard now, with some potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce and herbs (plural, no “herb”–sorry Brandon). We are also going to try to revive my backyard, a place that has been let to die to some extent, which is a shame because I have known it to be beautiful. Gus has been inspiring to listen to, and a great addition to the place.

Sara, the other roommate, and first girl to move in here, has brought something of flair to the place. She has the plants, brighter colors, snappier furniture, and in general some life and enthusiasm for making the place feel nice and vivid. She has only been here a little over a week, but she loves to keep house. She and Gus are a far cry from the lazy bachelors that have been here before, that I am so glad to have gone. The place just seems more alive and able to become more livable and stimulating. I need that. The lazy roommate thing just drove me to depression. With all the time I spend at home, more and more I find that I need to have some order. There are some projects of the painting sort I plan on doing to further this new trend, so that will tie up some free time and keep that ball rolling. Other domestic things have been just trying to keep a neater place and doing the little stuff like putting clothes and materials away, and making my bed and opening blinds full wide.

I set up the drums and have done some casual playing for nothing but fun and as a little investigation to see if it is still viable. I plan on getting the guitar and bass rigs ready to use for my birthday which might have some jamming happening. My drum technique has never been too refined, and not having played for a couple months doesn’t help except to make me just want to cut loose and not even think. So I bashed along with some old Badfinger and Ben Folds Five—stuff that doesn’t require much more than a feel for a song. I will have to tread lightly on this return to music. I might like to play, but not really put anything of a project in front of me.

In school, I have only one class, and that is Oral Communications, with the same instructor as I had in 1987 in 9th grade and in 12th for US history. He is a great teacher, and I wanted to take his class again. Tonight I did my first full speech. It was about depression. I was pretty nervous but didn’t clam too hard and believe I came in pretty well. I did include that I was writing from the perspective of a suicidal person who only recently got past that episode, but my voice was shaking some like it was happening now.

With the exception of some new challenges for my father and I trying to live in the knowledge that I am not made of leather and steel, things have been good. I have made some amends to some people I have wronged, reignited a friendship or two, cut down computer time (mostly off the newsgroups and boards that I spent so much time on) and have been trying to live a little better. Some exercise, some routines like journalling and some counseling have been making things better for the last two weeks or so. My 30th birthday, a day I often thought I wouldn’t see if I had my way, is in less than two weeks, and I am actually looking forward to the chance to hook up with people and celebrate life. It may sound corny, but at the moment, the cloud is gone and I want to enjoy that.