“We do this for tips, you know,” the Jack Nicholson impersonator said to me as I put an arm around him and leaned in close for a snapshot.
“I know,” I replied, handing him a crumpled dollar. And I smiled for the camera, trying my best not to look too drunk. My hosts, a couple of savvy spendthrifts in their own right, were taking me on the budget tour of Vegas, from crummy crack hotels in neighborhoods littered with the refuse of discarded humanity to the towering heights of the Stratosphere in which we gained free entrance to the top to ride the Big Shot, and stopping off at many sorted places in between such as a tattoo parlor boasting $13.00 Friday the Thirteenth themed tattoos and the Belagio for free Mojitos. As my buddy snapped the photo I belched and tasted French fries. At least that was better than tasting vomit.
Our excursion started at four thirty on a Tuesday afternoon when they picked me up at the Las Vegas airport. We proceeded immediately to the aforementioned crack house they were presently occupying (only $195.00 a week!) and drank most of a bottle of vodka while sketching out our plans for the next three days. In a drunken haze we determined we’d mostly wing it, but much to my relief they’d booked a room for two nights at the Circus Circus. As it stood, that first night I’d be sleeping on the floor. The following two nights I’d at least have a bed, even if I didn’t get much sleep in it (not what you think; I am a lousy sleeper).
The next morning was met with a pounding headache and sinuses (thanks to a cold I’d picked up two days before the trip) and in a daze I showered and shaved, anxiously awaiting better digs. I didn’t have to wait long. We checked into the Circus Circus and after dumping off our things we made our way to the lobby floor to hit the slots.
“We never pay for drinks,” Amir told me as we walked out into the mild winter sunshine to hit the Circus Arcade. “You sit at a slot machine, put in a buck, then wave over the waitress for a cocktail. Drinks are free as long as you are gambling.”
The trick for me became how long I could make a dollar last. By winning twenty-five to fifty cents here and there I found I could get about three beers off a buck. And to keep the waitress coming around my friends and I would take turns tipping her. As long as she was making a few frogs it was worth her time.
We whiled away a lot of time doing that, but in between we realized there had to be other activities to make this trip memorable. Since the three of us weren’t exactly what you would call ‘rolling’ we priced out shows until we found one for ten bucks apiece. It was a comedy club in the Riviera, which was perfect because it was right across the street from the Circus Circus. At all costs we did not want to drive, not with how heavily we were drinking. The show was a hoot, presented by two comedians whose names I now forget (I think one of them had the last name ‘Bizarre’, but I could be wrong) in which a drunk girl from the crowd was incorporated to our ensuing hilarity. This chick was either a plant or a total random score for these comedians. After the show we ended the night at the slots, drinking ourselves silly while losing pennies.
The next day we started by walking from the Circus Circus to the Belagio and drinking our way back through the casinos. The photographs accompanying this post adequately show our drunken procession from one end of the strip to the other. Suffice it to say I’ll let them tell the tale. Our walk ended at the Stratosphere where Amir showed us how to get to the top for free and avoid the $18.00 charge: take the elevator that leads to the cocktail lounge (under the guise that that is your intended destination) and when you are let off the elevator just wait a few minutes and then take the stairs up to the top floor to the viewing platform and the rides. We rode the Big Shot (a wonderful contraption that catapults you two hundred feet into the air where you experience zero gravity before it rapidly descends and then hydraulics bounce you up and down a time or two for a giddy extra thrill). Upon its completion we used a coupon on the ticket to get a five-dollar slab of pizza and a large beer. Good times. We then drank our way back to the hotel and I ended the night with a tallboy of Miller High Life purchased for ninety-seven cents at a convenience store.
The next day’s highlights can be summed up as such: 18 holes of mini golf at the official Kiss mini golf course (using a half off coupon it was only six bucks apiece); lunch at the Hard Rock Café (the gambler’s special which is only $7.77) and a tour; a mid-day showing of the latest Hobbit movie in 3D (had trouble staying awake after two nights of lousy booze sleep) and then a $13.00 dollar tattoo from a parlor that just opened (I got Charles Manson and my buddy got $6.66). And in-between all of these shenanigans we did the usual: played slots for free drinks
The last night we spent in the crack hotel, me sleeping on the floor again, but after all the partying I got the best night of sleep I’d had in days. The next morning I awoke refreshed and after serving me pancakes my buddy and his wife took me to the airport where they went the extra mile and accompanied me inside. They had a reason, of course: one last bet on an airport slot. Throughout my visit his wife Aline had been winning ten and fifteen dollar bets (maybe even the occasional twenty) and at the airport she went one further and managed to coax $80.00 out of a machine. Lucky them.
It was a whirlwind of an adventure (as the pictures readily indicate) and I won’t soon forget our exploits there on the Las Vegas Strip.
Category Archives: Humorous Anecdotes
Can Green Bay survive this season and make it into the playoffs? That is a very good question! Their depth chart has obviously been challenged with all the injuries the team has sustained over the last eight weeks. At one point it seemed as if they were simply dropping like flies: James Jones, Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finely, Evan-Dietrich Smith, Johnny Jolly, Nick Perry and Clay Mathews just to name a few. And then the star quarterback Aaron Rodgers eats the turf and goes out, and the very next week his back-up Seneca Wallace pulls his groin (I pull mine all the time yet still remain in the game; go figure!) and ends his season. Holy crap it sounds like the trailer for a bad movie about replacement players. ‘When all the first-string players go down, who’ll be left to pick up the pieces?’ And then they’ll show a bunch of actors like Rob Schneider, Adam Sandler and all the other dudes that star in their movies. ‘Who will save them now?’
In Green Bay the fine folks are hoping to go five and seven before Mr. Rodgers makes his way back into the neighborhood, figuring if he can return by the Thanksgiving game against Detroit the season can be salvaged. Maybe they can get in with a wild card, depending how the season plays out. As a rabid fan I can only hope the same. There isn’t a lot of faith in the third string guy, Scott Tolzien, even though he led the Wisconsin Badgers to many a victory during his stint in Madison. Thing is, though, he lost out to another quarterback who replaced him, some guy named Russell Wilson who took the Badgers to the Rose Bowl. They lost, but it earned him a starting position at the Seattle Seahawks, beating out another Wisconsin/Green Bay alumni Matt Flynn. Hi Ho!
I am saying all this from a very unique perspective: I am presently staying in Green Bay. Why would I be hanging out in this mill town/slash football Heaven? Good question, one that I am not going to answer suffice it to say I will be departing next week and on to greener (ha!) pastures. My stay here has been interesting to say the very least, tedious and somewhat boring if I want to sound like an asshole, but the fine folks of this quaint little town have been more than generous, in their deer hunting, gun hoarding, binge drinking, racial slur spewing sort of way. Yes, this is the hallowed ground of the legends of Frozen Tundra lore, the kind of gridiron stories that inspire movies and books about muscle bound gods who attack one another viciously all in the name of fair play, where the name Vince Lombardi comes up at least several times a day in any manner of conversation. In fact, I am staying off of Lombardi Avenue, a mere mile or so from the stadium. In just about any place in this town you can see the stadium, a neon monolith that the Brett Farve era Packers helped transform from the once modest arena (replete with aluminum benches to keep your tush cold in the winter) to one of the largest sports venues in the United States. Sacred ground, Titletown, all that happy crap that I was so excited about when I lived far, far away from this desolate, backwater burg. Somehow it seemed much cooler to be a fan when I didn’t live here; now I am just one of many who refers to the team as such: “We kicked their ass last week!” or “We’re going to the Superbowl!” as if the citizens are actually part of the team, an extension, the fifty-third man so to speak. Yet in a town where the city does own the team I suppose one can say that as they do have some sort of say, even if no one in management listens to a word. Just ask Ted Thompson what he thinks of Joe Jerk-offs opinion. Ted would probably mutter “Go to hell” if you suggested back during pre-season that it wasn’t a good idea to get rid of Graham Harrell or BJ Coleman, the thought being that Aaron Rodgers (despite his almost inhuman feats on the field) might sustain some type of injury that led to needing a back-up. Seneca Wallace? we all thought. Why the hell would they want that geezer out there? He practically needs a walker for Christ’s sake. Does he even have any of his original teeth left?
Yet I digress. And I haven’t even touched upon the poor play of the defense, who’ve allowed far more points than I’d care to mention (I’d have to look up the stat and I don’t feel like it) and haven’t been able to make any plays on the ball worth mentioning (forced turnovers, etc), although AJ Hawk has been looking alive out there, not to mention Mr. Jolly, BJ Raji and to a certain extent Sam Shields, although he has blown several key plays, most noticeably during the Monday Night Football debacle against the Bears and their six foot seven receivers. Holy man…
Is the season going to be a wash? Can Green Bay arise from the ashes and make a play-off berth? Will they continue to lose first-string players, continuously testing the depth of their second and third string players? Will Green Bay ever renounce its love of killing Bambi’s mother, father, cousins and distant relatives? Will the fans ever admit how much they love chanting John Kuhn’s name simply because they adore being given a free break on saying the word Kuhn (pronounced coon) all together in the mostly white somewhat ethnically challenged town? Some of these questions may never be answered, but the season will play itself out as it may, and in the end it is just a game, a game that generates more revenue than I’ll ever be able to conceive of in my lifetime. Be that as it may, I’ll still be watching because, what the hell, I love football and I love the Green Bay Packers. Go Pack!
I’m standing in a club called ‘Excess’, a gay bar on Main Street in Green Bay, wearing zombie make-up and tattered clothes, wondering what the hell I’m doing with my life. The make-up artist and his girlfriend are on the dance floor shaking what they got as I lean against a wall and ponder my existence. First things first I did not choose this club; I agreed to come here because the drinks are cheap and nobody judges you, you are who you are. Gay, straight, zombie…none of that matters right now. I feel down because I wanted to meet someone tonight, anyone, preferably a woman, pretty, relatively young, but it is impossible because the make-up artist did such a good job that I am hideous. Beneath all this latex rubber and fake blood no one can tell what a handsome man I am, so I am drinking way too much and thinking about smoking a cigarette (I quit six months ago). Not that what I want can be achieved in this club; not more than two minutes ago I watched two chicks make out with each other in front of the bathroom while a guy in a full body leather bondage outfit lead another man around on a leash. The one on all fours was wearing ass-less chaps and a motorcycle hat Ala Rob Halford from Judas Priest.
My companions finish on the dance floor and we reconvene by the bar. We decide to leave, to go to the country saloon next door, and what the hell, right? Can’t get any worse.
We head over and people comment on the costumes.
“AAARRRGGGG!” I say convincingly, vomiting more fake blood by crunching a plastic capsule in my mouth that tastes like cough syrup.
As we navigate toward the bar I think about everything that has transpired tonight and it makes me more depressed. We started the evening at a party with so many beautiful women I was utterly overwhelmed. All taken, of course. And the guys they were with? Well, let’s just say there isn’t ad spaced reserved for them in Maxim Magazine for the next designer cologne. How did they get these gorgeous women? I wondered, and how did I get one? The world is soooo unfair.
No difference in this country bar: the place is wall to wall with smoking hot babes. Does the rest of the world know that Green Bay, Wi, is full of such amazingly stunning women? And here they are hanging all over beer-bellied guys in cowboy boots with obscene facial hair. I’ll say it again: “AAARRRGGGG!”
This leads me to believe that there is simply no point in carrying on, in continuing my useless existence. I give up, I’m throwing in the towel and calling it a night. I ask my friends what they want to drink and they profess to being drunk so I order a beer for me and two waters for them. The woman tending bar is nice to me but she outweighs me by at least sixty pounds. She is pretty though, and the fact that she is nice makes me smile. Hell, I could do worse than her. Maybe I should set my sights lower.
So I stand against a rail overlooking the dance floor, watching a guy dressed as the Joker strip a fur coat off of an otherwise shirtless, giant, hairy dude and proceed to lick his nipples and I wonder what they are doing here and why they aren’t at Excess. Is anybody seeing this but me? Yes, and no one seems to care. Do I care? No, not really, I just want to meet a nice woman who I can enjoy relaxing evenings with and have long conversations about nothing. I want to cuddle; I want to feel breasts pressed against my chest, warm, soft lips brushing against my ear. Instead I am alone, witnessing things I can’t erase from my mind if I want to, which I do, very badly
The evening comes to an end when the couple I am with decides they want to go. It’s probably all the hot women; he wants to get his girlfriend home and nail her. I don’t blame him. She’s a looker herself, all dressed up in a harlequin costume complete with zombie rotting flesh. I imagine they are going to have a mighty fine time, but I’m not, you know, imagining it. That would just be rude.
They drop me off at my place and we urinate (just the dude and I) on the lawn. Then they split and I give in to temptation and smoke a cigarette I bummed from someone at the country bar. Just another day in the life of a lonely man, a zombie all dressed down with no place to go…
After getting absolutely no response on the Bukowski post (none of you blog readers enjoys classic literature I guess) I suppose it is back to doing what people liked about this blog: funny animal stories. Actually, what people seem to like best is advice or sports or politics or medical shit but here goes anyway.
I was in my second year of pet sitting, having yet to give my business a name (it later became Moonlight Pet Sitting) and I had a regular client I’d acquired through the clinic I worked at. Suffice it to say all of my clients at that time were through the clinic. I’d met the family when I assisted with the euthanasia of their cat, a very sad event indeed, but what follows is quite humorous. Besides the cat they also had two beagles, a male and female, Max and Roxy respectively. They were both very sweet dogs that got to enjoy a lot of time outside because they had a fenced backyard, and were also very young at this point. Max was just over a year and Roxy was six months. Because of this she had to be crated when left alone in the house and Max had to be kept in the laundry room. They later added a dog door and allowed Roxy free reign, but at the time I was pet sitting for them this wasn’t the case, so I always tried not to be gone for very long in sympathy of their overactive bladders.
Whenever I pet sat for them the owners would gate off the kitchen/dining room area (as this had the patio doors that led to the backyard) and this was where we spent all of our time. The living room was right next to it and I could turn on the TV and watch it from the kitchen table. Gradually I’d allow myself to go over the gate and sit in one of the living room chairs, but mostly I hung out with them out of compassion because when I went over the gate they wanted to as well. At night we all slept in one of the kids bedrooms in the bed together, snuggling closely.
So things went like this for about a year and then a friend of theirs got a poodle mix named Black Jack and I began pet sitting for him too. He was a very sweet, hyper little guy and he loved playing with Max and Roxy. Since they got on so famously the owners elected to have me pet sit all three at the beagle’s house when the two families went on vacation together. No problem, I thought. Easy money because I could charge for three pets.
That was where I was wrong. Together they were a nonstop combo of playfulness that knew no bounds. They tore around the yard constantly, the three of them acting like kids on the first day of summer vacation. And that wasn’t all. For some reason (although all three were fixed) they went at it like a bunch of horny teenagers. Black Jack was after Roxy and Max was after Black Jack. Yes, this meant that Max was gay or bi, but at least he wasn’t going after his sister (I failed to mention that they were from the same bitch, different fathers but same mom).
One evening as the orgy was taking a turn for the worse I had to separate all of them but I allowed Max to have his pillow. He kept at that thing, humping and humping as I watched and laughed. That is until I realized I should make him stop. I mean, enough is enough, right?
When I took the pillow away I noticed Max was walking all hunched over, that he seemed as if he was in pain. Closer examination revealed his erect penis was stuck outside the prepuce (the sheath of skin that holds it in). It was big and red and swollen (well, duh). I didn’t know what to do so I called the veterinarian I worked for. At the time he’d take my calls after hours (it was nine on a Saturday night) on his home phone or cell.
“Hello?” he answered.
“It’s huge and it’s swollen!” I exclaimed.
“And it’s all red and I can’t get it to go down! What do I do?”
At this point I have to mention that the vet was young and had a perverted mind like my own. I think it is safe to say he thought I was talking about myself and was somewhat taken aback (only because he wasn’t gay).
“What do you want me to do about it?” Sounds like a personal problem, his tone suggested.
“It’s Max!” I explained and at once he understood.
“Let me get on line.”
He booted up his laptop and started researching it.
“Get some cold water, or some ice and apply it to the, um, swelling…”
At this we both had to laugh.
“Either that or you can use salt. You know, like how you can remove a leech or slug?”
I dug through the cabinets, found a rag and then filled it with ice from the freezer.
“I’m going to try it and call you back.”
I hung up and sought out Max, who had lied down in the meanwhile. I rolled him over onto his back (he was such a sweet, docile dog) and saw to my joyful surprise that it had gone in on it’s own. The ice pack wasn’t necessary. I called the vet back.
I brought Max in to see him the next day and while he was being examined I referred to him as ‘Boner Boy’ and the name stuck. It became our personal nickname for him whenever he visited the clinic for shots, blood draws etc. And I still pet sat for he and Roxy and took them on walks, until 2008 when the bottom fell out of the market and the family had to cut back on their spending and could no longer afford me. It was sad to see them go.
But while I was still pet sitting for them I had to tell the owners about what happened, and they had to confront the issue that their dog was gay (or bi) and that the three probably shouldn’t be combined for overnight pet sitting. After that I took care of the houses separately. Black Jack’s owners continued to be a client of mine after Max and Roxy no longer were, so I would see them around the neighborhood, and then eventually they didn’t need me anymore either. But by that time my clients had all turned over and I’d replaced them with new ones, but I’ll never forget little Max the Boner Boy, his sweet sister Roxy and the ever-randy Mr. Black Jack…they were always ‘up’ for a good time!
In an effort to remain true to this blog’s original plan I am now going to write about previous jobs I held, the crazier and more ridiculous the better. If there are many folks out there who enjoyed the writing of Charles Bukowski, this blog is for you. For those of you who have never heard of him, he was an American writer who found notoriety writing for the L.A. Free Press in the 1960’s, a column called Notes Of Dirty Old Man. He later found fame writing several books about jobs he worked, one called Factotum (later made into a movie starring Matt Dillon) and Post Office. In fact the latter was his first published book, having written it for a publisher named John Martin who believed so strongly in Bukowski’s ability to spin a good yarn that he offered him $200 a week to write so that he could quit his job. Writing about what he knew best (drinking and working for the United States Post Office) he was surprised to see that it did well enough that he was able to publish several more novels (for they were marketed as ‘fiction’) and garnered a rather eclectic audience around the world. He was especially beloved in Europe, but he made a splash in America as well. He wrote the movie ‘Barfly’ (based on his own life) starring Mickey Roarke and Faye Dunnaway.
So that is the new focus of my blog: all the crazy, crappy, preposterous jobs I’ve worked over the course of the last thirty years while pursuing my creative endeavors. Like Bukowski, I am a college dropout and enjoy the occasional beer or ten, but unlike Bukowski I was never a very good fighter yet I was never unwilling to ‘go’ if it indeed became necessary. I also traveled a lot and ended up in some rather compromising situations. I’ll also embellish a bit in some of these tales, as he was known to do. Rest assured they are rooted in reality, but sometimes you have to stretch them a little to get the desired effect. All that said, here is a short one since I’ve already taken up this much of your time: Hotlanta in the summer or Give me Whiskey or give me death, a tribute to Charles Bukowski.
The year was 1994. Kurt Cobain had killed himself in the garage of his Seattle home and the new Woodstock would prove to be a bust, as the grunge generation was a surlier, more unpredictable lot than their predecessors. Artists like Soundgarden and Alice In Chains and Beck were topping the charts while smaller bands like Mudhoney and Monster Magnet were making the rounds, keeping things afloat until they later found fame (Monster Magnet) or they dissolved into an historical footnote (Mudhoney). I was living in a warehouse in an area called Little Five Points in Atlanta, Georgia, having moved there from Raleigh, North Carolina after I got the boot from a band called Motherload. I’d been their lead singer (and chief purchaser of alcohol because they were all nineteen to my twenty-three) but they eventually had enough of my drunken shenanigans and sent me packing after I picked up the lead guitarist during a gig at a packed pool hall in Raleigh and tossed him into the crowd. He was mad because 1) they didn’t catch him, they instead ran out of the way and 2) because his Gibson Les Paul got ruined in the process. I couldn’t really say I blamed them. I was drunk and on drugs most of the time back then, in fact one of my favorite pastimes was driving around the triangle area drinking malt liquor and smoking weed and taking acid and going wherever the wind blew me. Suffice it to say I met a lot of strange people, some of whom thought I was the strange one. Go figure.
In Atlanta I held several jobs, but the first one I worked was selling school supplies for a shady company called Pacific and Atlantic Wholesalers, a telemarketing outfit that violated just about every law you can imagine when it came to consumer fraud (overpriced, crappy merchandise, hidden fees, broken promises regarding free bonus items with every order etc. etc. etc.) run by a man so crooked he made the Enron presidents seem like portraits of American stability. He’d sit behind his desk cleaning automatic weapons and snorting white powder off his desk blotter, every now and then venturing onto the sales floor to holler: “Let’s get a hum going men!” or “I hope you get stuck in traffic and don’t have a forty ounce can to piss in!” if he was upset that we weren’t making enough sales. Sometimes he said even cruder things like: “Shut up bitch or I’ll fill your mouth full of sperm!” or “Shut your pie hole or I’ll fill your corn hole!” Despite all this ranting lunacy the surprising thing was we actually made sales, lots of them. We were cold calling schools all over the greater continental United States and asking to speak with whomever did the purchasing for the school store. When they were put on the phone we then stroked their egos and smooth talked them into buying grosses upon grosses of shit they didn’t need, all of it cheap, easily breakable garbage. Notebooks with bindings that came unglued the first time you opened them up, pens with barely any ink in them that ejected what little there was in a puddle all over the page, pencils that snapped in half if you looked at them funny and so on. Yet we all made sales (some of us to a greater or lesser degree) and some weeks I made enough money to cover all my bills for a month.
It was in the middle of a heat wave in August that the air conditioning went out and, to keep us working, the owner, Cliff, bought us several gallons of whiskey and a quarter ounce of blow, encouraging us to help ourselves. He didn’t have to ask me twice. Within a few hours I wasn’t sure what the hell I was saying to people over the phone, all I knew was that I wasn’t making any sales. When I’d had enough, I snorted another large pile of coke, slammed a giant shot of whiskey, announced I was ‘getting the fuck out of here!’ and got in my car. I don’t remember driving home, all I remember is arriving and getting into it with my drug dealer roommate. I was sick of he and his friends keeping me up at night, partying into the wee hours when I was trying to sleep off a drunk, and I decided this was the time to air things out. Well, one of his thug buddies was there too, and between the two of them they easily restrained me and proceeded to ‘convince’ me that I was in the wrong. They were quite persuasive, let me tell ya, and the next day at work I looked like I’d gone a few rounds with Floyd Mayweather with my hands bound behind my back. To make matters worse the owner called me into his office.
“You left early yesterday,” he scolded, not even mentioning my beaten-to-a-pulp-face; he was too busy using a large hunting knife to shave a mole off his back. “I don’t think you’re taking this job seriously.”
I looked at him incredulously. “Taking the job seriously?” I repeated, trying hard to keep the sarcasm out of my voice. “What’s not to take seriously?”
“You don’t come and go as you please. The manager has to authorize it.”
As I recalled the manager had been under his desk when I left, wearing nothing but black, ankle high socks and muttering something about the impending apocalypse while he drooled over a photo of Ms. July, but I kept that to myself.
“Yes sir,” I muttered, not wanting to argue. What was the point? “It won’t happen again.”
“Damn straight it won’t.”
“You fucking freeloaders,” he said, dismissing me. “That’s the last time I give out free drugs. None of you assholes made any sales.”
“Not even Kennedy, sir?” Kennedy was the only sober person in the bunch; he never drank nor indulged in anything stronger than coffee.
“Kennedy was sick yesterday.”
“Now get out there and get a hum going or I’ll-”
“Fill my mouth full of sperm,” I supplied for him. “Got it sir.” I was tempted to salute but I simply turned and left, wondering why I was stupid enough to keep working there. But when I felt the cold blast of the newly fixed ac, and I got that phone in my hands and spun some magic that landed me a twelve hundred dollar commission, I knew why indeed…
I haven’t updated this blog since June, might have been May, I’m not quite sure. What started as something I updated every week became more and more sporadic as a health problem took over my life, changed everything, and left me to pick up the pieces. The topic of the blog started to take a turn in late March/early February; what started as funny anecdotes about pet sitting became personal rants about various things. Then there were a few posts about my health issue, how a primary care physician mismanaged it and then nothing…tumbleweeds…less than nothing. My life as I knew it completely changed, forcing me to move from sunny San Diego back to rain-soaked Madison Wisconsin (a fine city in its own right but nonetheless very different from what I’d been accustomed to over the last decade) to live with my parents while I figured things out. Here I am, a man in his mid-forties, and a serious sleep disorder forced me to move back to Wisconsin from California to live in my parent’s basement. It’s almost like the set-up to a bad movie produced by Happy Gilmore Productions (no offence dudes). And the town they live in is cow pastureland, cornfields and dairy farms. I moved from the very edge of the Pacific Ocean and into the heart of cheese country.
There are many things I use to console me: 1) I can now watch the Packers play every week during football season 2) My entire family lives here and I do enjoy their company very much 3) Once I get my shit together I can get the f*ck out of here and go back to California. We’ll see how that works out.
I am writing this on the evening before seeing the neurologist to review the results of my polysomnagraph (a sleeping EEG). This was a test I’d begged my doctor in Encinitas for but he refused me, telling me it was ‘a pain in the ass’ and that he could figure out my problem without tests. Well, thanks to the neurologist here, we know what I am dealing with (preliminary results were phoned to me right after the test) and that it is nothing life threatening, but what a trial it has been! I’ve been hosting a seemingly endless stream of ‘exaggerated hypnic jerks’, sleep starts that every one has but, in my case, EXAGGERATED. Most people will have a few and then fall asleep. Mine go on all night, every night, nonstop. Just when I am on the verge of sleep: POW! A jerk that shakes my whole body (or just moves my hand, foot, arm, leg, neck, back etc.) waking me up. Shit, I’ve been through this a million times. I’m sort of sick of telling the story.
Irony, that lousy bitch, came in the form of my returning to this lovely manure tainted paradise and the problem seemingly going away. All of a sudden I could sleep without twitching, and I was able to reduce the medication I took nightly. I did the sleep study and it showed I was ‘normal’. Five days later and the twitches came back with a vengeance straight out of the bible. Seriously, they were like electric shocks being sent through me at regular intervals (possibly from a cow prod?). And worse yet, the medication was no longer working! Sleeping pills used to shut them down and now it was barely keeping them at bay. I was jittering and jiving the night away until I was forced to get up because sleep was impossible.
The worst part of the whole ordeal (besides leaving my sunny seaside town and my pet-sitting business and my independence) was having to try and get people to understand my problem. Somebody was forever giving me advice on what they did when they couldn’t sleep. I don’t know how many times I had to tell them: it isn’t that I can’t sleep, this isn’t insomnia! I am jerking more than a prepubescent boy who’s just discovered masturbation! This is a physical problem, not a mental one. Of course, the longer it went on, it became a mental problem; I nearly had a nervous breakdown from lack of sleep. Hence why I came to my parents house and am writing this in their basement, hence why I abandoned a successful business in one of the best cities in America to cut grass and weed flowerbeds.
So, this blog can still be about funny pet sitting stories, no problem there, but I am no longer a pet sitter. In fact, as I alluded in the previous paragraph, I’ve been working as a landscaper for my brother in law’s company. I work much harder now and get quite filthy. Inbred chicks at the BP won’t give me a second glance when I come in reeking of organic compost (read: manure) with circles of dirt lining my neck like jewelry. Writing, well, let’s just say I haven’t been doing a great deal of that. My latest novel is stagnating at around two hundred and five pages and promotional activities for my self-published novel The Gyre Mission: Journey to the *sshole of the World have screeched to a dead halt, with the exception of the video pitch I submitted to greenlightmymovie.com. I’m not sure if that $40 was well spent, but it was an interesting experience.
Tomorrow I find out what my neurologist (actually, not my neurologist after tomorrow; I had to switch health insurance and my new policy no longer covers him) thinks of this on again, off again problem. Maybe he will do me a favor and give me a lethal dose of barbiturates, like they use to euthanize animals. Put me out of my misery, as it were. Or maybe he’ll just shrug his shoulder and say: “Sucks to be you dude.” Whatever it is, I’m sure it will be worth the two hundred + bucks it costs for thirty minutes of his time, and that bit of advice you can take to the bank. Just don’t take it to mine; the check will bounce. Peace.
I moved to San Diego from the Midwest a decade ago, and I still can’t get over some of the things I’ve experienced over the years. I live north of SD, in the burbs, and up here the folks are very well off. Let’s put it this way: up here, you’re either rich or you’re poor, poor being anyone who makes less than $40,000 a year. Anyone who makes a pitiable $35,000 is eligible for heat assistance! So you are either rich or you work for the rich people. I suppose it could be worse. By working for them I was able to write my debut novel The Gyre Mission: Journey to the *sshole of the World. Yet with money there is a natural breakdown of what ‘normal’ folks would call civilized behavior. These wealthy douchebags own leased Beamers, Mercedes, Porches, Audi’s, Corvettes, Hummer’s etc. and drive like they own the road and they’ve written the traffic laws themselves. Red lights? Pish-posh. Speed limits? Not here my friend. I’ve lived all over the U.S. and I’ve never seen so many effed-up auto wrecks in my life. Seriously! You know those cars chases in Hollywood movies that seem so unrealistic? Well, they get all their ideas by watching these buttholes drive. First month I was here I saw a woman drive her car off of a twelve-foot embankment and land upside down in a (fortunately) low-tide lagoon. What happened next? People stopped their cars, got out…and took pictures with their phones! I think I’m the only one who called 911. Honestly, one morning I’m driving along El Camino Real and I see a waterspout gushing a hundred feet in the air. Some dillhole took out a fire hydrant! Every morning on Interstate 5 there is a major, five-car pile-up in which at least three people are seriously hurt. How could this happen? Well cheese and crackers it don’t take a genius to know that you gotta let off the gas and use the brake once in a while. I could go on and on but what the hell would it matter…
And where else could I start and profitably maintain a pet sitting/dog walking business in which the majority of my clients treat their pets better than children in third world countries? While little kids with bloated stomachs are eating grubs and being swarmed by flies in some faraway craphole, I’m opening up can after can of cat food for some overweight feline who can’t decide if he wants the tuna or the salmon delight. He’ll then eat half (or a third) and I’ll throw the rest away, thinking about all the hungry kitties in China. The gardeners and the cleaning ladies who commute from Tijuana just can’t get over the fact that my clients and I make such a fuss when one of the spoiled pets has the runs or vomits and is rushed off to the veterinarian. Hell, in their country, the dogs are covered in ticks and fleas and are walking around half-starved, eating out of garbage cans. They’re lucky if they can bring their freakin’ children to the doctor if they’ve been throwing up or have diarrhea, much less their pets.
As an example: I was walking a dog that had been attacked by another dog and suffered severe nerve damage in one rear leg. Hence, when she walked she dragged the limb (until her owners got her a brace). A gardener I walked by commiserated. He said: “Is broken, yes?”
I tried to explain that it was nerve damage but we had a language barrier. No matter what I said, he didn’t understand. So finally I agreed. “Yeah, it’s broken.”
“You get splint,” he advised and I nodded, nodded as I slowly backed away from him. But I understood full well how he thought: in Tijuana their dogs would walk around with broken legs and no one would give it a second thought. Eventually the limb would become necrotic or septic or succumb to gangrene and would need to be amputated. In most cases the dog would simply be put down. He probably thought he was being really kind, offering me the advice. And he was, in his own way. Should I have been angered that he thought I was so stupid I’d let my dog walk around on a broken leg? No, there’s no point. I actually had a client (a white couple) who did just that. Their cat broke a limb and the night before I showed up to pet sit they called me and told me Junior had a limp but it was nothing to worry about. Yeah, it was broken, had been for two weeks. Yes, it was necrotic. Yes, it had to be amputated. These people were white and rich and incredibly stupid. Sh*t happens.
So come on out to sunny Southern California! If you make less than $50,000 a year there’s a good trailer park I’ll point you in the direction of, and places where you can get food stamps and discount clothing. Don’t worry that a gallon of milk is $9.00 or gas is $6.66 for regular unleaded. You got the sun, the beach, and the palm trees. Find yourself in California my friends!