lawyers, guns, and money

I came home from work the other day to find Anne silent, pissed off, and almost in tears. My first thought is that she found this blog, and the reaction would be like it was last time. When she is in this mood I just have to wait it out, and eventually she will say what’s on her mind. I was relieved to find out it had nothing to do with me.

She got home from work and was met by a barrage of gunfire. It turns out Dan and his NRA-loving friend were firing a pistol and a rifle at the far back of our lot. They were shooting towards the bog, which now sits in public parkland. When he came back to the house, Anne told him she wasn’t happy about it, but didn’t say any more. She waited for me to get home to talk about it.

I am not against guns or responsible gun ownership (although I support laws to register every gun, just like cars). I am against Dan having guns in the house, for multiple reasons. He didn’t have the guns or ammo locked up, he didn’t tell us because he knew we would say no, he doesn’t have enough money to be blowing it on hobbies, he hasn’t taken any safety course, and we have two bipolar people in the house who should not be around guns.

Dan’s arguments were that he had magazine locks (but they weren’t locked at the moment); his friend showed him all he needed to know about shooting and safety; and he was certain that all the trees and brush in the swamp would stop any rounds. He said they checked the laws, and as long as they weren’t shooting toward a structure, or within 100 feet of a building, they were legally okay. I told him that firing without a real backstop is stupid. Not only that, but shooting into the park is illegal, and any stray rounds or ricochets could injure a hiker on the trail about 1/4 mile from their location.

The end result is that we agreed that there would be no more shooting on our property, and he had to store the guns and ammo at his friend’s house. I can’t tell him he needs to get rid of the guns (he is technically an adult), but he is living under our rules at our house. He can shoot at someone else’s house, or he can go to a firing range.

If he doesn’t like it, he can move out.

i no more brain today

Fuck I feel stupid today. I had a tough day at work, taxing my already-impaired mental capacity. I just felt like I couldn’t handle anything requiring thought. Then I thought about this stupid job offer, and how I won’t get it, then my confidence will be shot, and I will be very depressed.

I’m sure that attitude will get me promoted.

and you want to be my latex salesman?

Previously I wrote about a promotion opportunity at work, where I wasn’t sure if I wanted it at all. I took the plunge and put my resume in before I could chicken out. I found out last Friday that I was invited for an interview … in three days. Holy shit, thanks for the warning. At least I had the weekend to panic prepare.

Tuesday was the big interview. I went monochromatic, all black and gray, but I can pull it off. New shoes, $3 tie. I had the ZZ Top song “Sharp Dressed Man” running through my head the past couple days, and of course they played it on the radio on the way to work. I know my co-workers were suspicious that I had dressed up for the day, but no one said anything.

The interview was with three people I already know, which I suppose is common for internal promotions (I’ve never had one). My comfort level soon took a downward turn, however. It was one of those “STAR Method” interviews, which are difficult if you don’t rehearse ahead of time. I prepared as best I could, and there were a few questions I was ready for, but a few where I had to pull something from very deep in my ass. I wish you could just go point-by-point down the resume and expand on what I wrote previously, or if you could bring notes with you. But of course they want to see how quickly you can think and/or bullshit, which has nothing to do with the job I interviewed for.

I don’t know if I did well or not. I did what I could, and now it is out of my control. I’m supposed to find out in 2-3 weeks. The worst that can happen is that I still have a good job at the gas company. Or I could actually get the job, which may be the worst thing. I’m not sure. At least I didn’t end up on the floor in my underwear.

leaving treetown

We had two houses in Treetown. The older house belonged to A-mom’s grandparents and was built around 1900. The newer house was built by A-mom’s father in the 1930s, about 1/4 mile up the hill. When I was growing up we lived in the older house, then when the OB moved out we moved to the newer house for about 2 years. We then moved down to Goldville when I was 16.

We started renting the older house after we moved, but we never did rent out the newer house; I think A-mom wanted it to stay the same for sentimental reasons, even 10 years after her dad died. We rented to a weird Treetown extended family, who were just barely able to pay the rent (after alcohol and other drugs, of course). Sometimes we didn’t receive any rent at all, sometimes a partial payment, but A-mom figured something was better than nothing, and the house was at least being lived in.

Then A-mom died, and I became an unwitting landlord. I had no desire or ability to go up to Treetown on my few days off in between work and school, and I couldn’t depend on the renters to make any repairs. I knew I never wanted to live there again, so I decided to sell everything. The cars, the antiques, the hoarded junk, the tools, the houses, and the vacant property – everything must go.

By this time Anne and I were married, and the two of us were way over our heads trying to deal with all the stuff. The extended fish-in-law family helped me so much during this time, and I can never repay them or thank them enough. The helped me move all the crap down to Goldville, find people to buy the antiques, have huge yard sales, and get the houses ready to sell. We sold it all, and the proceeds helped me pay for college.

Some of A-mom’s friends asked me why I chose to sell the property, and told me it was a shame that I didn’t keep at least one house since A-mom wanted it to stay in the family. I told them it was a financial necessity, but in reality I’m just not sentimental about houses or stuff. I was simply trying to purge memories from my life. It did not work, and I have spent many years coming to terms with everything that happened in Treetown.

I don’t know if I will ever make it back to there, but like I said before, I probably need to go there once more just to close a chapter in life.

it’s alive!

I finally repaired my dead laptop, and I am happy to have it back. I found the exact same computer for parts for $40 on eBay. I completely disassembled both computers, replaced the motherboard, and reassembled. I had to disassemble again because I broke a little switch and had to repair it. Now everything works, and I am quite pleased with myself.

credit: www.irisvista.com

This laptop is now 5 years old, purchased after my Dell died. It lasted through the truck-driving years, traveling with me every mile of the way. It has seen me through the life of this blog. It has survived Nicole trying to watch every episode of every anime movie. It’s not fast compared to new machines, but it works for my needs. This has been a great computer for me, and I’m glad it will last a while longer.

I may not know how to re-tile a bathroom or install plumbing or fix a car, but I know how to fix computers. I wish I could earn a living in the computer business, but I’m happy to have this as just a hobby.

the cats of treetown

When I was a kid in Treetown, we had too many cats. Some of them were feral, and we never could catch them to spay or neuter them, despite Bob Barker’s daily admonition. The rest we considered “our cats”, and we took care of them as best we could. The males were neutered, but often there was not enough money to have the females spayed. The females then bred with the feral males, so we had more kittens, and the cycle continued.

We fed the cats a combination of dry food and a stew we would cook. The stew was in this dirty old pot, and we would put in meat scraps and vegetable peelings and a can of dog food, add water, and cook it for the cats and the dog. The house stank when we cooked it, but the animals loved it. It was funny to watch the dog and several cats all with their heads competing for space to eat.

We had an old cabinet with several doors. The windows had been removed, and we used it as a cat apartment. I built walkways to each of the holes so the cats could reach all the apartments. Several litters of kittens were raised in the apartment over the years.

My favorite cat was Mischief, or Mao (after his deep-throated meow), and later Chairman Mao, when I found out about the Chinese leader. He was a big brown cat who we inherited from A-mom’s friends in Treetown. After they both died, we took care of him, and he loved us in return. His brother disappeared into the woods and turned feral I suppose. I was there when Mao died; he seemed to have a seizure or a heart attack and just laid down. I was heartbroken.

chairman mao

Much later, when we moved away from Treetown, A-mom’s friend was helping us move stuff. By this time most of the cats had gone wild and moved into the forest. One of the remaining females had a litter, and they were just a week or two old when we found them in the cat apartment. I wanted to keep them, but A-mom said we were not bringing more cats to our new house in Goldville. The humane thing would have been to take the cat and her kittens to the shelter, but that’s not what happened. After working for a while, I went back to see the kittens, and I discovered a-mom’s friend drowning them in a sink of water. I was incredibly sad, but I didn’t do anything to stop her. I never saw the woman in the same way after that.

I still feel horribly guilty. I wish I would have done something to save those kittens.

opportunities

Previously I wrote about how my fears and insecurities affect my life in many ways, including at the workplace. When I am in a depressive spiral, I have little confidence in my ability to do my current job, much less take a higher position with more responsibility. These feelings have likely caused me to miss several opportunities.

At the moment, I am trying to overcome a few fears and perhaps improve my financial standing a little. I am actually applying for a new job at the Big Gas Co. that would represent a large jump in responsibility. There is a time deadline, so I am forcing myself to submit the application and resume before there is time to back out. I could still withdraw from consideration later in the process, but at the moment I am trying to shake off those ever-present second thoughts.

On paper the job will pay more, and the year-end bonus is bigger, but I would be on a salary with an expectation of occasional overtime without additional pay. If I take the total compensation I get now and turn it into an effective hourly rate, I would need a significant increase in the total pay to make it worth my while. I don’t know if I can negotiate for more money during the hiring process; I’m not that high on the food chain yet.

I’m not sure if I actually want the job yet. I’m in a little bit of a comfort zone, doing the same thing for 3 years now, with a significant amount of job security but no real path for advancement. I know I get “the itch” to do something different every few years, and this opportunity will allow me to stay at the same company while learning new skills and having more of a career path. I think I have a good idea of what the job would entail, and I think I can be successful at it. I don’t know what it would be like to work with a different set of people, and what their expectations are. I also don’t know exactly who I would be working for, because management is in a state of flux right now.

Then again … this could be one of the biggest disasters of my life. There are so many ways I could fuck this up. My job could get moved to another location, or eliminated altogether, which could cost me financially. I could fail at the new job by not being able to actually handle the work that is given to me. I could let all my internal problems keep me from being successful. Worst case, the bipolar could get worse and turn my life to shit in a big hurry.

But in the words of The Viking, what if nothing goes wrong? What if everything works exactly the way it’s supposed to? What if this is the right decision? I guess there is no way to know the future, no way to satisfy all the doubts and questions until I actually make a decision and live with it.

a tale of two vacations

The (maybe last) camping-slash-sightseeing trip has ended. We didn’t hate each other the entire time, so that’s a positive.

The camping portion of the trip was fun. We found a little campground in the mountains of West Virginia with a neat little creek running through. We took time to relax, explore the falls, study geology, talk about life, and enjoy each other’s company in the quiet of our small valley. The thunderstorms were due on Tuesday night, and we didn’t want to put everything away wet, so we decided to pack up a day early.

IMG_1204

The sightseeing portion of the trip was not so good. We sat around a motel room most of the day on Tuesday, which was fine due to the severe thunderstorms washing out the day. Wednesday was okay, we got to see some stuff, but Nicole started having an anxiety-filled anger-fest, and she withdrew into her own world with her music and texting her friends.

Thursday turned to shit in a hurry. It was a nice day, and I had plans to visit a couple more interesting places. However Nicole was acting like a child and refused to do anything, and I didn’t want to leave her alone in a strange place. Anne decided to spend the day “relaxing”, i.e. doing nothing in the hotel room, rather than encouraging Nicole to at least come with us. I was completely irritated, and I threatened to load everything and drive home a day early. Instead I left by myself and quickly visited one place on my list, but it wasn’t very enjoyable.

Friday we came home as scheduled. We stopped at a little forest park on the way, but it wasn’t as nice as advertised, and it seemed more like a chore than fun. I chose to lighten up a little during the trip home, but I am still quite irritated that part of the trip was ruined for me. I guess I should know better than to mix in things I wanted to do, even though we talked about these things beforehand. I love natural places, and I want to share them with my family, but it never seems to work out very well.

I would like to go back to this area again by myself and see the things I missed this time. Maybe this is why I have so much fun taking a short vacation once a year, so I can watch baseball and see a little bit of a city, without having to adjust my plans for other people.

Another disappointment on this trip was the realization that due to fat and age, I cannot just charge up a moderately difficult trail like a used to. I’ve hiked up a volcano in the past, but this time I knew I wasn’t capable of doing a trail with a 20% grade and stairs and switchbacks. That really pisses me off, and it is entirely my own fault.

Yet another disappointment is the fact that the Man-child didn’t even want to come along. He hates the outdoors as much as I love the outdoors. He is (allegedly) an adult now, so it his decision whether he wants to join us, but somehow the camping and hiking genes (among others) didn’t take with him.

I had a different location planned for a camping trip next year, but I don’t know if I will mention it again. Maybe I need to do sightseeing by myself, and bring the family just for camping. I think it will work better that way.

the departed

It is a strange feeling to lose a pet; different from losing a person, but similar I think. It’s not that you think about them every minute of every day, but some little thing will trigger your memory of them. I knew that every time I came home from work Max would be walking up the driveway, rubbing me and meowing to say hi, but I don’t have that moment any more. I think about him when I open a can of tuna, Max almost running into the kitchen to beg and rub until he got the can to clean.

Max was definitely part of the family; we adopted him when he was 5 months old, and the kids were 7 and 3. They grew up together; the kids have a hard time remembering when we didn’t have Max. Now Dan is an adult (well, man-child, but you get my point) and Nikki is not far away from adulthood. Max lived a full lifetime in just 14 years. So much has changed for us, but it seems like just a short while ago he was a older kitten chasing a snake in the driveway.

I don’t know if the other cats know, or care, that Max is gone. I don’t know if they have the capacity to miss another cat, or understand that he is gone. I do know that in Max’s last few weeks, Opal would not play with him like normal. She stayed away from him and left him alone. I wonder if cats know when another cat is sick, and if the sick cat is cast out of the social hierarchy until they die.

———

In other news:

I killed my most popular post, the one about wanting to push an extrovert in front of a bus. That post was getting 10-20 hits per day, but almost no one bothered to read any other posts. I guess I don’t want the attention without someone getting to know the real me, not the little temper tantrum that wrote that post. Since deleting that entry, I have returned to my normal 0-3 views per day. Since there are only maybe 5 people who actually read this, there must be a few curious wanderers who find my site accidentally. That’s okay, I’m still writing for myself, and I shall continue.

Three of us will be going camping in West Virginia next week. The Man-child doesn’t want to go because he hates the outdoors. I’m looking forward to having a relaxing time at a small camp next to a little stream, maybe hike a little, see some scenery, burn a few marshmallows, and just unwind for a few days.

I hate our property. There is too much yard work to take care of. Another little tree fell down, so now I have more work to do. More pressure to accomplish shit is not good for my depressed/bipolar brain. I don’t really like the house either, and it is turning into a money pit. I have been talking a little bit about the “five-year plan”, maybe selling and downsizing. I think Anne is agreeable with that, but we were talking about all the repairs and upgrades that need to happen before we think about selling. Thinking about the cost in work and money makes me want to throw up.

I have lemon meringue pie. No explanation necessary.

grandpa’s workshop

This is a story I wrote in 2004 about A-mom’s dad and his workshop. I think it fits in well with the Treetown stories.

Part of me still feels bad about selling his home, his land, his (and later A-Mom’s) memories. The Model T he loved, his homemade snowplow, and all the rest were sold in the summer after Mom died. She never could get rid of anything. To her, his memory was inseparable from his stuff, the material possessions he left behind. I had to be more practical, but it still hurts me that I needed to sell his things. I used the money to help finish college and afford a house of my own. He was pretty practical, and I think he would have understood.


The thing I remember most is the smell of Grandpa’s workshop. It was a sweet musty smell, created by cedar floor boards covered with sawdust and steeped in a mixture of solvent and chain saw oil. The air in the shed was moist with the oil, like humidity but thicker. The sawdust was heavy, almost sticky, from the oil moisture soaking into the remains of thousands of saw cuts. There was the smell of dirt, the soil just below the floorboards, kept cool and moist under the shed. The smell of mineral oil, which had lubricated dozens of moving parts in bench grinders, table saws, wrenches, gears, improvised bicycle chains, and other surfaces. The glistening fluid was gone now, evaporated into the still air, only remaining in the shop’s memory by its scent.

There were many fascinating things for a boy my age to look at. Tools for every use imaginable, some I knew well, others whose purpose I could not imagine, and could no longer ask him. There were dozens of tiny plastic drawers, each containing a specific type of item, springs, washers, nuts, screws, wire connectors, ball bearings, or special nails. There were so many different nails he used for various jobs. Some I knew the names of: box, common, roofing, concrete. There were other nails that I never have learned why they were necessary, when to me an ordinary nail would suffice. But Grandpa knew, and in my eyes, it made him that much better for knowing.

I moved some things, looking at tools and gadgets many times older than myself, stored in decayed cardboard boxes nearly the same age. The worn, dark color of the wood was exposed where a box had been disturbed, interrupting a thin covering of sawdust. There was a small pile of metal shavings below the grinding wheel on the workbench. The pile had not been perfectly conical for some time, because I always had the uncontrollable urge to feel the shavings with my finger, the tiny, rough bits of metal gently sanding my skin as I rubbed it. On the untouched part of the bench, shavings were layered with sawdust in a lithology recording Grandpa’s various projects over the years.

I already had a sense of family history, of passing time, and fleeting memories. How could I not have learned those things so early, with all the loss and death and sadness I had already seen? A calendar on the wall, showing the finest cars of 1961, had notes written in his scrawled hand, probably with a red, flattened logging pencil, sharpened with his Buck knife. The notes, like “Call Bud, LE4-1301”, or “visit B. Daley”, or “repair plow”, were probably rather mundane to him, but it seemed very important to me to have those notes. They were my connection to his life, a way to remember him working on things, showing me his tools, or making a trail for me to follow him through the deep snow.

Even on the hottest summer days, the shop remained cool and damp, as if the spirit within fed on the moist air and refused to let the summer sun take that away. The sun was needed in his garden anyway, for the corn and squash and beans. The beans that A-Mom and I planted that year were extra special, as they were the last beans from the coffee can on the workbench. They were buried one inch deep in his garden that spring, covered with sadness and watered with tears.

His workshop became a memorial, or maybe a crypt for all the memories, his tools, his spirit. I knew his body was resting in peace at the cemetery, but to me, his spirit always remained with his workshop. He built it, along with the other sheds, the garage, and the house, with his own hands and those of his since-departed friends. I was impressed that my Grandpa was smart enough to build these things himself, a humble monument to hard work and common sense. Over time his memory became almost mythical, with the significance of both my own memories and those of a-mom. He was the only man I had to look up to, since I had no father of my own, and his passing caused a void in my heart that has never been filled.

With passing time, the stillness of the workshop always surprised me. Maybe I expected to hear the saw blade cutting one more board, or the grinder sharpening one more axe blade. The only sounds there were in my memory, except for the occasional buzzing of cedar borers or paper wasps in the rafters. I could hear him telling me to not be scared, they were not interested in me if I left them alone. I felt the creaks in the floor just the same as he did when he walked to the door. I could see the edges of the doorway base board, concave depressions worn smooth from the countless impacts of his boot heels stepping through. The hum of the water pump in the next shed, pumping water from a well that he dug himself.

A few times, I heard A-Mom’s quiet sobs and unanswered questions in the drowsy late afternoon, or in the gathering twilight. She never did recover from his passing; he was her best friend, her biggest fan, her devoted and loving dad. I had my own questions and tears too, which never got answered either. Other kids still had their Grandpa, why couldn’t I? Why did he have to die, when all the worst people in my life continue to live? My own sadness and sense of loss always seemed stronger and more meaningful sitting on his old chair, in the moist dusty air of his workshop.


 

goodbye max

We said good bye to Max today. He had been getting progressively sicker for the past few weeks, and we decided it was time to let him go. He went to rest in Nicole’s arms at the vet. We brought him home and buried him in the woods behind the house.

DSCN3166

Max loved his people, and we loved him in return. He and the kids grew up together, so they have many special memories of him. We were all sad, but we will remember all the good times we had with him.

Jake stuff on my cat 009

Max survived a lot during his nearly 15 years, including the move from California, the cricket swarm, the white cat next door, and several injuries. He lived a full life, and I am honored to have shared it with him.

Good bye, Max.

jake attacks football

 

anti-father’s day

I wrote the following post in 2004, when I was in a real angry, bitter place. I have mostly got over this feeling, but I still wish I had a dad to turn to when I needed help. Anne’s dad is a substitute, but it’s not the same.


There should be a separate pseudo-holiday, maybe a Saturday afternoon, where people think about the father they never had in their lives.

Pick up a football, and throw it to the other side of the yard where he isn’t, while he is not telling you about that amazing Raiders-Steelers game he saw 30 years ago. Go in the garage and imagine what it might be like to have him tell you the right way to countersink a screw or hang a light fixture. Buy two tickets to the baseball game, tell people you’re waiting for your dad to show up, order two beers, and have a one-sided argument with yourself about the designated hitter.

Light the grill, put some burgers on, and wait for him to turn them over. Buy him a present, maybe those cool ratcheting end wrenches at Sears, and send it to a randomly chosen address. Rent a pickup for the day, and pretend he is helping you cut wood in the forest. Talk with his food at breakfast at the diner and share your thoughts about your possible career choices, while ignoring the stares of the other patrons. Call the home of old people and ask for Dad, and start a conversation that lasts until they realize you are not really their son.

Put up new picture frames, keeping the fake photos capturing the empty memories of fake families – it’s more appropriate that way. Tell your kids how you don’t remember the great time you never had that day. Admire the paper dad for his strength, his convictions, his respect for women. Let him know you understand that he can’t find the right words to tell you how he feels, seeing as how he is just a model selected by a graphics design firm, and you are an adult orphan with no one to go home to.

hoarding in treetown

When I was a kid in the 70s and 80s, A-mom and I lived with the Old Bitch. They were both hoarders, not to a severe degree like you see on the TV show, but we had a lot of shit laying around.

The OB used to hoard newspapers, old magazines, and National Geographics. Most of the day she sat or laid on an ugly green couch, surrounded by stacks and stacks of newspaper and magazines. The paper was stacked on shelves, TV trays, antique dressers, an ancient ottoman, or on the floor. The adjacent closet was filled with newspapers, as was the master bedroom. The stacks would lean precariously, and occasionally would fall in an avalanche of newsprint and history. One day when a stack fell, I learned the Eisenhower was no longer president.

Then again, who didn’t hoard National Geographics during that era? Tell me you didn’t grow up without at least one or two shelves of yellow-bordered magazines that you looked though for the pictures of dinosaurs, outer space, or naked African tribeswomen?

The basement of the older house was nearly filled with boxes full of unused jars and bottles of all kinds. There were gallon jugs from apple juice and wine; blue bottles from ancient times; green beer bottles shaped like little kegs; a wine bottle with a fat bottom and a 3-foot tall neck; and hundreds upon hundreds of prized canning jars. We never did any canning or preserving, so the canning jars sat empty in the basement. One time I accidentally broke a few while poking around in the basement, and I was yelled at for what seemed like an hour.

We had rooms in the house we never entered because they were filled with antique furniture of varying quality. Most of the pieces needed some restoration, but there were a few nice dressers and tables. We also had a garage we couldn’t use because it was also filled with antiques. A-mom used to have an antique store in the 1960s, but when she closed the store all the remaining treasures ended up at our house.

We also had old cars in various states of disrepair scattered around the property. I can remember at least 9 cars ranging from the 20s through the 50s. A few were garaged (with stacks of stuff on top of them), a few were parked in the yard, and a few were parked in the forest. A few of those cars probably remain to this day.

The newer house (Grandpa’s house) had several sheds filled with old, rusty, unused tools from the 20s through the 70s. A-mom inherited all these items when her dad died, but she could never get rid of anything of his. It was her last attachment to him, and as a result she placed a high emotional value on everything left behind

Most of these hoarded items remained on the property after we moved to Goldville. After A-mom died, I was left with an enormous task to get rid of stuff. I can never repay Anne and the extended fish-in-law family for all the help they gave me. If it were not for them, I would have burned everything to the ground or let it all go to ruin. As it was, all those antiques were sold for a fraction of what they were probably worth, because I basically was screwed by one of A-mom’s crystal-people friends who was an antique dealer. Honestly I didn’t care at the time, but it was probably a bad decision not to have an auction instead.

After Anne and I were married, a few remnants of the shit-pile followed us to Partytown, Hippietown, and Portland, where we had yard sales to get rid of the stuff. We still remember the big sale in Partytown as the Mother of All Yard Sales, where we picked up about $1500 in two days.The only items that remain from those days are a Japanese teapot and a bottle of mercury, along with the gold coin I sold to pay for truck school.

interlude

Lately I haven’t felt like writing about my bipolar issues or depression or the day-to-day happenings of life. I added a short page about the people who appear in this blog who have played an important part in my life. I’m writing a series of stories about Treetown, the fictional name for the little town where I grew up. I also plan on writing a multi-part series on the Old Bitch, who helped me stay depressed and full of insecurities to this day. Eventually I will get to an analysis of my self-esteem issues, when I feel like I can write it without triggering a depressive episode.

I realize these stories from my world will not be great reading material for most people, and I don’t mind if you ignore them. I’m writing these pieces to clear some stuff off my mind and purge a few old memories, and I am in the right state of mind to write out those thoughts. I may not post quickly, but I’m sure no one will notice.

In the meantime, a few news items:

The Buzzard finally retired last week. We had a big sendoff party and lunch, and the boss told him he could leave early, but he stayed for the entire shift just so he could draw out his last goodbyes. He was likable, but he was also obnoxious right up to the very end. It took him the entire week to clean out his cubicle where he has hoarded papers and books and photos and old staplers. Some of the material he left behind to see if it was useful; the books are, but the rest can go in the trash or recycle bin. He actually had personnel records from the 80s, complete with interview materials, disciplinary records, and social security numbers; I shredded those papers.

Nicole is almost done with school, and she is stressed about her last finals on Monday. I think she will do okay, and pass all her classes, so she will get to stay in the vocational program she loves so much. If she lost that she would possibly become suicidal.

Max is doing much better after some treatment at the vet, and eating special cat food which helps joint pain. I’m tempted to eat some myself. He went on a killing spree, catching several mice, a chipmunk, and a baby bunny. If he can hunt, he must be feeling better.

I’m ready to go camping now, even though our trip to West Virginia is not until July 5th. The list is made, and I just need to get the stuff together and condense everything into a couple of containers. We are going small this trip, so we are just taking the basics. I like it that way.

I’m debating whether to delete this post on extroverts and introverts. This post became very popular and is near the top on a Google search, but very few of those readers bother to click through and check out the rest of the blog. I wrote it while in a pissy mood, and I’m not real proud of it. It is too snarky for my style, and I have much more important things written elsewhere in the blog.

treetown

I have written here that Goldville is the ye olde hometown; it’s where I attended school and where I spent my later teenage years. But for my first 15 years we lived in Treetown, a small hamlet in the California mountains east of Goldville. Actually we lived in Old Treetown, which was close to a high-dollar gold mine in the late 1800s. “New” Treetown grew outside the little valley and now includes less than 500 people.

Treetown is in the national forest, where huge pine and cedar trees grow. There is abundant rain and snow during the winter, but it rarely rains during summer and fall. There are abandoned gold mines, with hidden shafts lurking in the forest, ready to swallow the unwary. There are endless miles of logging roads through the forest. I explored many miles of these roads, whether on foot or by dirt bike, and the forest was my back yard. I hid among the trees when things at home were too much to deal with.

Treetown was a place where your neighbors could be next door, or maybe half a mile away through the trees. There were retired folks, hippies, outlaws, and drug addicts. Most of us saw each other at the general store, or maybe at the government cheese handout. We never had much dealings with our Treetown neighbors; in A-mom’s paranoid world, they were either talking about us or were out to get us somehow.

Besides lumber, the most valuable economic activity in Treetown was production of meth, heroin, and pot. I found a marijuana grow in the forest one time, and we didn’t say anything to anyone, for fear of having our house burned down in retaliation for calling the cops. We knew the neighbors were cooking and selling drugs, and maybe the cops received an anonymous tip on them, but the dealers just moved to a new house.

Treetown has a beautiful natural setting, but the residents are determined to turn it into a big garbage dump. There are abandoned and ransacked houses scattered around town, and the lived-in houses are usually surrounded by rusting cars, dead appliances, and whatever junk didn’t get hauled off to the landfill. There are a few nice houses interspersed with the shitholes, but they are definitely in the minority.

During my time there, we contributed to crimes against the environment. We had an abandoned house that was partially burned during a fire and never repaired. We also had several abandoned cars scattered around the property. We and a few other families used to dump our garbage into an old mine shaft, and when the trash got close to the surface someone would pour in a couple cans of diesel and set it on fire, allowing the trash to settle and compact. The Forest Service found the dump one day, and fines were handed out; A-mom finally paid, but they were added to the list of people out to get us. Later, once I learned about pollution and contamination, I was horrified at the idea of the backwoods garbage dump. In a bit of karmic justice, I once helped direct a cleanup of a similar dump in the mountains of Oregon.

I was glad we finally left Treetown; there were too many bad memories there for me to want to return. We moved into Goldville when I was 16, but we were still tied to the property because we rented the older house to a series of unsavory characters. I suppose we were lucky none of them turned it into a drug lab. I inherited the property after A-mom died, and I was not prepared to deal with the aftermath, so I sold all the stuff and the properties and said goodbye forever. I will tell that story another day.

I was feeling rather unsettled a while back when I decided to take a Google Streetview trip to the old homestead. (Yes, Google actually drove my little one-lane mountain road in its quest for world domination.) I could clearly see both houses I grew up in, A-mom’s house and Grampa’s house. Seeing the houses and the garages and the water tanks and the old bridge brings back too many memories, some good, a lot of bad, and a little in between. I know that if I ever get back to California I will have to go drive there, if nothing else to show the kids where I came from. It will be painful, but I feel like it has to be done sometime.