Friday, June 13, 2014

So Where Will I Sleep Tonight?

One more night before I can start over again. It's been not quite a weeks since I got home from Reno. Things aren't particularly bleak per se, but it ain't exactly beer and skittles here on the ranch. Joy has been holding up as well as can be expected for someone who's basically been forced to couch-surf for the last two months between our friends at the Evergreen Terrace apartments - where we're on the waiting list, by the way - and trying to maintain sanity as best she can. We're both stressed and angry at everything. But we do our best to apologize to each other before we go to bed, wherever that bed may be.

But tomorrow is a new day, and a new and more permanent residence will be waiting for us. Even before I got home from Reno, we'd been scouting out RV parks for the fifth-wheel trailer that Dad bought for us on the cheap only to wind up spending almost double what he paid for it to fix it up - much to his chagrin. We'd pretty much settled on setting up shop at Monroe Estates just east of town, but their insistence that my father co-sign for us pretty much scuppered the deal and sent us scrambling for a new location. On a lark we tried the Peabody Creek RV Park downtown happened to have spaces available and was willing to overlook my temporary lack of employment - more on that later - because of my comparative abundance of cash. In the morning we get the electricity turned on and change our address for quite possibly only a few months.

Why do I say that? Turns out that Joy's attorney has wrangled a new hearing for her Disability case in late September. Given that we're looking at seven years of back SS/D pay handed to us should the judge finally rule in our favor, even the revelation that Joy's medical bills have us $27,000 in the hole is suddenly kinda trivial.

And I doubt that I'll be unemployed all that long. A day or two before I left for Elko, I took a flyer and threw up an application onto Wal-Mart's website for any position that didn't require a lot of customer interaction - mostly graveyard-shift jobs. The day after I pulled into Elko, I got a phone call from the Port Angeles store's personnel office asking if I could come in today for an interview! After explaining the situation to their personnel manager most carefully, he agreed to keep me informed should an opening come up after I got home. The very next morning I got a similar call from the Sequim store's personnel manager, with a similar result. Then the personnel manager from the PA store called me again the following morning, only to remember the conversation we'd had forty-eight hours before and apologize profusely for waking me up from a deep slumber. And then he called me a third time two weeks later as I sat patiently between gigs in my old pop-up trailer - I guess he likes me.

By the way, the trailer is no longer mine/ours. I sold the thing to a nice young Hispanic couple, only for them to wreck the thing on the drive home. And then they had the audacity to demand their money back, claiming that I knowingly sold them a defective vehicle! I offered them my sympathy and nothing else before leaving the scene - we'd towed it down from Washington without incident, after all. I don't think they were being entirely truthful to me. Welcome to Craigslist, kids - everything is sold 'as is', and the moment they handed me the money and I handed them the title, they were on their own. I sold them a functional unit, and they knew what was wrong with it going in. Sucks that they wrecked it, but that's not my problem.

And I'm trying to get a new band started here in town. But it seems that everyone is in survival mode right now - myself included. Nothing is sacrosanct right now, anything and everything can potentially be sacrificed should I need the money. The Wal-Mart job is only minimum-wage, but the hours should be sufficient to keep us in the RV park for the time being. And at my father's suggestion I put in an app at Clallam Transit for a paratransit driver. I think I could do that. And there's always fast-food work or some other sort of temp or part-time job should Wal-Mart not be enough. I just have to bear down for the time being and get us across the finish line - which with any luck should be sometime this fall. I just have to do what I have to do, and hold on for the time being.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Why Now Is The Time To Let Go

I'm sitting backstage at the Atlantis as I start to write this. I'm miserable and in no small amount of pain – my cracked and broken wisdom teeth have been a constant ache for the last few weeks now, and I'm eating Tylenol like candy. In a certain way I have come to understand why Joy must endure on a daily basis, albeit no doubt magnified by an order of several magnitudes. One thing about going home for good is that I'll finally be able to see a doctor and dentist on a regular basis, even if I may have to drive all the way to LaPush to see Joy's dentist at the Quileute Tribal Clinic.

I know what you're thinking – what did he just say? Going home for good? Yeah. I have to give it up. This isn't something that just happened the other day – and as I write this my current employers have no real idea that I'm about to drop the hammer on them. I wanted to tell them sooner, but this particular trip to Nevada has been fraught with personnel problems, cancellations, and just bad fucking luck. And this whole chain of events didn't even start when I left Port Angeles for Elko, Nevada. It actually started about a little over a month prior to that.

Before I go any further, I need to make something absolutely clear: Macdonald Craig Robertson is a useless little piece of shit and I hope the little bastard dies painfully of dick cancer. Why do I suddenly hate and despise my half-brother to such an extreme? Well, I'm going to tell you.

I'm not really sure what his deal with me is. I've known for many years that he hates me. In fact, I've actually had people come up to me – complete strangers – and ask me if I was Mac's brother. When I told them that I was, on four separate occasions these people told me the same story, that they'd seen him at an open mic show the other night, introducing a song by dedicating it to me. About how much he hates me. I'm not totally sure why he hates me, to be totally honest. Aside from your standard big brother – little brother dynamic, I have no clue why he hates me so much. And he's never had the nerve to actually confront me about it. But he does like to confront my wife about it, that's for damn sure. And he's been doing this, what – the last two, three, maybe four trips of mine? He'll start shit with Joy while I'm gone, then plead innocence and try to be all buddy-buddy with me when I get back into town.

A few months back, Joy noticed that things were disappearing from our room. Nothing big, but it was still plenty annoying to her. Paint brushes seemed to be disappearing, then reappearing for some odd reason. She confronted not only Mac about it, but my mother as well. They told she could leave if she didn't like it, and that's exactly what happened. She spent a month at the apartment of our friend Delane, and she told me that she'd only come back if I put a lock on our door. I told her that we'd get around to it. Then she found that some of her oxycodone pain meds were missing. I got the lock for the door. I went to my mother about it, and she blew me off. I told her that this was serious – theft of prescribed narcotics is a Federal offense. She told me that she'd talk to him about it. I'm pretty sure now that she didn't. I'm pretty sure now that she doesn't give a shit.

Well, she started to give a shit about two months ago, when I was playing a gig here at the Atlantis. They noticed the lock on the door, and lost their fucking minds about it. I received a text message from her demanding that I remove the lock. I reminded her that we suspected Mac of stealing things from our room. I got another text telling her that I was deluded, then another telling me to pack up and leave. Apparently not letting my ignorant little shithead brother walk into my room whenever he wanted to, letting him take whatever he wanted to whenever he wanted to, that was some line of death that I crossed. She hasn't spoken to me since, and has instead only sent harassing text messages to Joy while I'm out of town demanding we get our things out right now, knowing full well that she couldn't do it herself. And here's where things get crazy. I'm not allowed in the house any longer – supposedly I'm a threat to their safety now! I'm beginning to wonder what Little Man is whispering in his mother's ear to influence her decrees.

Note that I said his mother – not our mother. Since they seem dead-set on casting me out of their lives, I've decided to do the same – and worse. I plan on disowning them. Linda Marie Robertson chose – likely at the behest of her son – to play favorites with her children, and pit them against one another. Her daughter Alex - a brainless twit if there ever was one, who uses her looks to get what her tiny intellect can't – decided to put me on blast on Facebook, trying to reinforce any claims that her brother was innocent and that I was delusional for accusing him of stealing Joy's meds. I told them to enjoy the rest of their lives without me, and held back letting her know just how much damage I can do to them. There's so many things I can say about them all. And I plan on telling all. To the police. And then I'll collect the things I need and walk away from them. Forever. I've taken the pictures of my family out of their house, because they don't deserve to know about my family any more. And out of pure malevolent spite, I found the baby pictures of my older sister and myself, and I turned the picture of myself around. When I get back to Port Angeles, I'll be collecting that picture, and any others I choose to take from her photo albums – and I'll just walk away with them. They chose to be spiteful to me for no particular reason, and I plan on returning that spite a hundredfold. Don't talk me out of it. It's too late for talk.

The only thing keeping me up at night is why Little Man is doing what he's doing. I think that it all boils down to his massive ego and his equally massive hatred towards me. In his sick little mind, this is all about proving that his dick is bigger than mine, and that he's somehow the better man than me. He didn't finish high school – didn't even get his GED. Of Linda's four children, I'm the only one with a college degree and without a drinking/drug habit, or still recovering from that habit, as my older sister Julie is. The bitter irony is that Little Man is doing all this in order to maintain his easy, lazy lifestyle – sponging off of his mother, occasionally working under the table with his alcohol, drug and dementia-addled father, and going over to harass poor Gordon and his friends until they can't deal with him and his monstrous ego any more. With me walking away, he might think himself finally victorious over me. But I'll have the last laugh – who'll take care of his parents with me gone? Julie is loath to spend time there because her mother still drinks heavily. Alex is a selfish twit with the IQ of a gravy boat. And with me out of the picture, that leaves Little Man to change his parents' diapers. Oh, and he'll have to get over his own hipster bullshit and go get a driver's license – how else is he going to get them to their doctor's appointments or to the store, on the handlebars of his bike? I should really thank Little Man for doing this, actually – I have no desire to change the diapers of a pair of ungrateful invalids.

But where does that leave me, you ask? Well, Joy and I were staying with friends for a while, until my father decided to actually help me when I needed it and not read me the Riot Act over it. He bought a.... well, let's be honest. He bought a cheap fifth-wheel trailer for Joy and I to live in until her Social Security case is settled. After that, we're out of here. But until then, I have to do the one thing I really didn't want to do – quit playing music full-time and go work some normal job for the foreseeable future. As I write this, Mike and Arthur still don't know what's going on or what I'm about to tell them. I don't want to tell them I'm leaving. But I have no choice.

I wanted to tell them when I got to Elko. But what I found out when I got there gave me pause. Steppen Stonz' keyboard player at the moment had abruptly quit the band via text message. We knew Chris Williams would be leaving for most of the summer – his Tahoe Reggae band was going on a European tour this summer – and a previous keyboardist would cover for him until he got back. But Chris took the bitch's way out, and Mike and Arthur were nowhere near ready to be told further bad news. Jef Derderian came back to cover for four of the five nights in Elko, then a new guy came in, an Italian kid from Vegas named Dom who like Chris and Jef is a trumpet player and a recent graduate of UNR's music program. Dom seems like a nice enough kid, and I hope he can provide some stability for Mike and Arthur – they need all they can get.

I genuinely like playing in Elko. The Red Lion is a nice hotel, the food in the buffet is good, and the people are plenty nice. I'm glad that they'll continue to bring Mike and Arthur back with Dom and whoever replaces me – they really need the work. What sucks about Elko is the drive back to Reno. Five hours of driving into a constant 30mph head wind is murder on my gas mileage. But at least I got to spend a few days off visiting with Michelle and Bill and the grandbabies. Can't really call them babies any longer, since Cody is ten and Ellie nine. But it was a pleasant few days until I pulled up stakes and headed south for a three-nighter at the Carson Valley Inn.

Which never happened.

Thanks to some.... unforeseen error, it turns out that we weren't even on the schedule at CVI. I did my best to keep from screaming as a manager apologized to me for the inconvenience of having to drive in from Reno for nothing. I called Mike to tell him what was going on, and if he was mad in Elko, he was really pissed off now. Both Mike and CVI management were wanting to talk to Stew Stewart about whether or not some error had been made, but apparently he was.... unavailable. And the story he told Mike as to why a gig he'd given us in January suddenly wasn't available was something right out of science fiction – according to him we were supposed to be playing at John Ascuaga's Nugget this particular weekend. Which was an utter load of bullshit because anyone who hadn't just fallen out of a tree knew that the Nugget no longer had live entertainment. In fact, I'm pretty sure that we were the last band to play their cabaret back in March before they closed it in preparation for it to be torn down and their sports book moved into its place.

So now I couldn't tell Mike and Arthur that I was quitting the group while we were in Minden. From there it was back to the trailer in Sun Valley for another week-and-a-half. I've put the trailer up for sale, and hopefully I'll have it sold before I return to Port Angeles.

And then I ran out of money.

And then I ran out of propane.

I'm not looking for sympathy – that's just what happened. And I just had to deal with it. And now I'm in bed at the Atlantis bandhouse, found out earlier today that the band that had been here previous to us had totally trashed the joint. Dog shit and piss in the carpet. Diarrhea in the bathtub. Broken faucets and generally shitty disrespectful behavior. I couldn't willingly be in a band that treated their lodgings like that. Fortunately for me, I won't have to find out about that because this band will likely never play in Reno again after this last weekend. But now it's four-thirty in the morning, and I need to get some sleep. I'll finish this later.

I tend to ramble when I tired. Come to think of it, I just tend to ramble period. Got maybe four hours of sleep before my teeth and jaw started to ache again. Got an offer for the trailer, but only a thousand dollars. If I wasn't desperate, I'd have turned it down. But I'm not in any real position to turn down money. So I think I'll take the offer, if only to get it off my hands and get my bank account back into the positive. This trip has been gawd-awful from the jump-off, and I just need to minimize losses, stanch the bleeding as it were.

I'm not looking forward to telling Mike and Arthur of my intentions. They've been good to me for the last five years. Put up with me. But I've got more important things on my plate now, and I have to move on and shoulder a burden that in some respects I've been avoiding all my life. I admit to my flaws as a person – I always have. And those flaws aren't something that can be eliminated with a wave of the hand. But I found it funny that when my father decided to help me and purchase the fifth-wheel for me, he said that he 'didn't approve of my lifestyle' – what the fuck is that supposed to mean? I'm sober – not a recovering alcoholic like he and my sister – I never started to begin with. I've never drank a significant amount of alcohol in my life. I've managed to hold my marriage together when it might have been easier to just walk away. I've found it funny that my one marriage has lasted longer than either of my father's – perhaps longer than both of them combined. What is it about my 'lifestyle' that he finds objectionable? Sure I haven't made a lot of money at this game, but I'm not a drug addict. My addictions are far cheaper than any drug. As I once told my wife, my Xbox 360 was a whole lot cheaper than booze, drugs, and hookers. And it's a whole fuck of a lot cheaper than divorce.

Okay, so I said it – I'm done with Reno. Will I come back? I simply don't know. We've pondered the possibility of returning to Reno once Joy's SS/D case is settled to our satisfaction. That kind of money – well over $100,000 in back payment and nearly $1,800 a month for the remainder of Joy's life – would allow us to find a small house or mobile home or even another, larger RV just about anywhere in the western United States. We've thought about staying on the Peninsula, though I think at the end of the day we both want to get away from there. I told her that wherever she wanted to go was fine with me. And Michelle is actually expecting us to come back to Reno, because she made the mistake of telling her kids that we'd move back there. At least with the SS/D money we'd be able to buy the things we'd need to make Joy more comfortable in Reno. As in solar panels to help defray the cost of electricity so she doesn't have to swelter in summer and freeze in winter. But we've also considered several locations in Oregon and Eastern Washington, and I think that those are more likely stops for us than Reno.

{June 2, 1230hrs} I just broke the news to Mike and Arthur. They didn't like it – how could they not like it? But they understood. And they appreciated that I was willing to break the news to them face to face instead of over the phone or Facebook. I just worry that I might be the straw that broke the camel's back, even though they told me that it just wasn't the case.

Now that the weight is off my back, or at least that part of the weight, I can try to make some sort of assessment of the time I've spent here in Nevada. On and off it's been eleven years or so since I first started coming down here. I've made some great friends here. And I've lost some friends here as well. I've had some great times here. But I've been miserable here – I'm miserable right now. I can't shake the feeling that I've somehow dealt a mortal blow to Mike and Arthur. Empirically, intellectually I know better. But in the not-quite five years since I started working with these guys, they've been through five keyboard players and they're just starting in on number six. They have four weeks until their next gig – playing Fourth of July weekend here at the Atlantis – which at least in theory is plenty of time to find a new drummer, and hopefully one who can sing. But while they understand and accept my decision, they'd still rather have me around, and the door is always open for me to return.

But I'm frustrated. Angry. I don't want to do this. I don't want to walk away from everything that defines me as a person. But now it's time for me to find other ways to define myself. But I still have music in my life. I have friends who will no doubt be happy to have me back in town and find use for my talents. But that will have to be around a full-time job. There isn't much available, but I already have options. In all likelihood I'll either have a job waiting for me when I get back to Port Angeles, or I'll be employed within a week. But working a regular job isn't me. It just isn't. I guess that I'll have to make it me, though. It's time for me to hunker down and just plod through until we can get Joy's SS/D case settled. How long that may be is anyone's guess. So I have to bite my tongue, be polite when I'd otherwise be truthful no matter the damage it may cause.

And I need to try to somehow enjoy the time I have left here in Reno. Since I have no idea when I'll be back – if ever – I might as well do my best to be positive and make the proverbial lemonade from lemons. Tell my friends that I appreciate their friendship, my bandmates and fellow musicians that I appreciated working with them and alongside them. Smile when I want to cry or scream, then return home to the one I love above all others as I move on to the next chapter of my life. There may be another act yet to play here in Reno, I'll hold out that hope. But hope doesn't get the rent paid. I just have to do my job, whatever that is, and continue moving forward. I was dealt a serious blow by the betrayal of my own family against me from within. But nothing can stop me. Nobody can stop me. I will continue forward, because that's the only direction I can go.