Feeling melancholy on Labor Day

Face Backwords

Feeling melancholy tonight on Labor Day. That end-of-the-summer feeling. That sort of dread you feel when you live on the streets and you feel Winter looming towards you.

It was a weird summer for me. The Summer of 2018. It was like I had to deal with an Endless series of problems. Getting my feral cats fixed. Moving hundreds of boxes of my stuff from one storage space to another. My father dying. . . One thing after another. Even as I tried to make a point of savoring the summer months, the great weather, the lap of luxury.

Been flashing with unexpected bursts of anger all evening. Over the little things. “The shoelace that snaps when there’s no time.” I suppose it’s a cumulative affect of all the dissatisfaction I feel about my daily life. (NOW I’VE GOT THIS ANNOYING STATIC COMING FROM THE RADIO ON MY HEADPHONES — AAAIIGGHHHH!!!!)

Now I’m sipping on my third beer of the evening and I’m finally starting to relax. It’ll probably smooth out into a sweet evening after all. Sometimes all it takes is a good song coming on the radio to change my mood (I’m told I’m “mercurial”), and realizing it’s Friday night — the most magical hours on the calendar — and the beginning of a three-day weekend, so maybe the rest of humanity (the fucks) will take a deep breath and relax along with me and celebrate the holiday (Labor Day??) and celebrate our lives.

What else? My eyesight has been bothering me again. It’s like I can feel my eyes wearing out on me. I’ve kind of reconciled myself to the fact that my eyeballs are probably my Achille’s Heel. They’ll probably burn out before the rest of my organs are ready for the scrap heap. Such is life as a human being.

Earlier I thought to myself: “I’m one of the loneliest people in the world. That’s just how I roll.” The sentiment was probably just an over-statement — me being melodramatic. There are probably a lot of people even lonelier than me. But that was how I was actually feeling at that particular moment in time and space.

Some people might think it odd how I muse in public and make personal comments about my life and then broadcast them out to total strangers (hi there). And maybe it is odd. But that’s basically what I’ve been doing for the last 40 years. Some people call it creating “art” for lack of a better word. Or maybe it’s just psychobabble. But that’s just how I roll. And it’s probably too late to change.



Labor Day, part 3



Another odd job I had as a young man was handing out advertising fliers. There was nothing particularly odd about the job itself. But how it all played out.

I was living in Berkeley at the time, and the job was in San Francisco. So I had to commute to the city. The problem was, it was one of them “graveyard shift” jobs. It started at 2 in the morning and we worked until dawn. BART was shut down by that time. So the only way to get to San Francisco was to hitch hike at 2 in the morning. So that was a pain in the ass.

The job itself was pretty simple. I’d meet the guy who coordinated the job at his van on a street corner in one of the residential areas of San Francisco. And he’d give me my batch of fliers. And as I walked along, I’d roll them up and fasten them with a rubber band. And toss them on the front doors off all the houses and apartments. Not exactly highly skilled labor.

But after about 2 weeks on the job it got to be too much of a hassle to hitch hike to work at 2 in the morning. So I quit.

This friend of mine suggested that I apply for unemployment. It seemed like a long shot. Because I was under the impression you had to be fired or laid off to be eligible for unemployment. But I figured what the hell, and gave it a shot.

So I’m at the unemployment office talking to this woman behind a desk and telling her about handing out advertising fliers and how I had to hitch hike to work because BART was closed and etc.

And she said: “Due to circumstances beyond your control you were unable to commute to your place of employment. Therefore that makes you eligible for unemployment.”

And she signed me up.

So I ended up getting an unemployment check every month for an entire year. So that was weird how that one played out. Parlaying a two-week job into a one-year vacation.

But that’s often how it plays out in this life, isn’t it?. We get an unexpected break for no apparent reason. Or we’ll get crunched for no apparent reason.

Though I suspect there are cosmic reasons for all the things that happen to us in our lives. Even if we’re not always privy to those reasons.


Labor Day, part 2: Ace Backwords, pumpkin patch salesman

Image result for pumpkin patch children playing


One of the best jobs I ever had was pumpkin salesman. Every year for 2 months around Halloween this guy would set up 6 or 7 pumpkin patches at different lots in the East Bay. And he’d hire guys to run the lots.

It’s hard to be depressed when you’re surrounded all day by beautiful bright orange pumpkins. And little kids joyfully romping across the lot (the kids all got to pick out their own pumpkin and they were all convinced they had scored the most special pumpkin of them all!).

The guy who ran the gig would spend the day driving around from lot to lot to make sure everything was running smoothly, and to collect the dough you’d amassed. Often you’d have a big wad of cash in your pocket, a couple of hundred bucks. And the guy was no fool. He didn’t trust any of the guys who worked on the lots. So periodically he’d send in an undercover guy posing as a customer to buy a pumpkin with a marked 20 dollar bill. And then later when he came by to collect the dough he’d look through all your bills to make sure that marked bill was in with the wad. And if it wasn’t, you were in trouble. (One time he thought he had me because the marked 20 was missing from my wad. But what actually happened was, another customer had paid with a 50 dollar bill. And I had given him the marked 20 as part of his change.)

An even better gig was: He had these little campers on all the lots. Bedroom, bathroom, kitchenette. And he’d hire homeless people to stay in them overnight to guard the pumpkin patches from thieves. How’s that for the ideal job for a homeless person. Getting paid money to live in a home.
Ha ha.

After Halloween the guy would do the same basic gig for the next 2 months setting up Christmas tree lots. He tried to talk me into taking that job, because I was a pretty good salesman. But Christmas trees was a whole ‘nother gig than pumpkins. You had to lug the big heavy trees over to the customers cars, and strap them down to the top of the cars. And hammer the stands to the bottom of the trees. Often in the pouring rain. So I passed. It was too much like work for me.

But selling pumpkins was great.



Labor Day


Image result for mixing concrete for driveway "cement mixer"

Another odd job I had as a young man. I got hired to build a driveway.

It’s the only time I ever worked any kind of construction job. Because I’m a complete incompetent who couldn’t nail a nail into a board and am unqualified — as well as unfit — for 90 percent of the jobs in this world.

But this friend of mine, who was a brilliant carpenter and could do virtually anything with his hands, worked for this nut named George. And George wanted to put in a new driveway that led up to his garage. And my friend needed an assistant for the job. So he hired me to help him.

Now the driveway George had, looked perfectly fine to me. But for some reason George wanted to tear it out and put in a new one. So there we were.

My job was to take the big bags of cement and pour them into the mixer and then add water from the hose. And then when you had mixed the cement and the water into the perfect concoction, you dumped it into the space where it would eventually coalesce into concrete. Magic. And I was just barely competent enough for the task.

But the weird thing about this George guy, he lived in the rich section of Berkeley in the hills. Owned a large and expensive piece property. Had a nice big house. But the entire estate looked like a disaster area. Like a bombed-out war-zone. He had 20 different construction projects going on at 20 different sites. And the yard was completely torn up all over the place. And he had different men working on different things all over the place.

I couldn’t figure out if George just liked to have all these shirtless sweaty young men toiling away on his property. Or if he was just like a big kid endlessly playing in his sandbox.

But you got the feeling that if George ever did finally complete his dream estate. The next day he’d tell my friend. “Ya know I think I’d actually prefer to have the first floor of my house on the second floor. And the second floor on the first floor. So let’s tear it all out and start all over.”