Thursday, October 29, 2020

Extra Notes: Personal Tales from Along the Pier

This blog turns three years old in a couple of months. In truth, it is much older than that: it's closer to twelve years old. The original Pier to Forever I created right here on Blogger back in 2007. Back then, however, it was almost all thoughts and essays like this. I don't recall posting much else--my stories and such. Back then, blogging was still a "thing," and so I began getting lots of hits and comments. A couple of posts went semi-viral, and that's when I discovered the lovely existence of trolls, some of whom took exception to what I was saying and began flaming me. Frustrated with them, and with the blog's slowing growth, I gave it up a couple of years later. By then the pundits had declared that blogging was "yesterday." Foolishly, I listened to them.

"Foolishly, I ..." is a sentence that I can use far too often looking back on my life, I suppose. Many foolish decisions have I made in the course of the past half-century-plus. I look back on them with regret. Most of them, at least. But I'm inclined to agree that a life without regrets, perhaps a lot of regrets, perhaps a few very strong regrets, isn't a life that was really lived. Foolishness is just par for the course for human beings. We're finite, small, pathetic creatures when you get right down to it.


When I quit the original version of this blog, I also quit Facebook. The year was 2010. My tutoring business had just died. Kye and I were broke to the point of homelessness. She had just started her copywriting business. We couldn't afford a full apartment, so we rented a bedroom in a home from a Scientologist, who turned out as crazy and immoral as his religion. We moved out into another bedroom in La Mesa (a suburb of San Diego), this one with a retired Salvadoran emigrant and his American wife. They had been married more than sixty years. He was underwater on his mortgage and desperate for cash, so he rented one of his bedrooms to us. We stayed there two years. He turned out to be no better than the Scientologist.

We bought a 1984 Pace Arrow, fixed her up, called her the TARDIS, and moved to a trailer park in El Cajon, an eastern exurb of San Diego. I made the mistake of criticizing the park management on a form specifically asking for criticism, so the management--of course--kicked us out. We gassed up the TARDIS and left San Diego altogether, stopping finally in Smith River, California, the northernmost township in the state, just a minute or two from the Oregon border.

We stayed in that park for two years. What a filthy, rotten, despicable place. Drugs, prostitution, a criminal management team, grotesque disregard for hygiene and enforcing their own rules. We packed up again and moved to Gold Beach, up the Rogue River a little ways, to a park we ended up staying at for four years, until we got evicted because I reported the owner to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) when I saw his employees killing baby swallows. That decision wasn't a "Foolishly, I ..." decision. Not in the least. The owner and his family were, and are, horrific, monstrous people. I'd always known that. If faced with the same circumstances again, I'd do the same thing--again, and again, and again.

We moved downstream a mile to another, much smaller, much quieter park. So far, it has worked out just fine. We'll see how it goes.

Since 2010, I have looked for gainful employment probably three hundred or more times. I've never received an interview. Two reasons prevail. The first is my age. I'm past fifty, and ageism in the United States isn't just a "thing," it's practically enshrined. The second is my credit, which is terrible. In the U.S., employers are allowed to check your credit score. If it sucks, as mine does, they are well within their rights to refuse you employment, or fire you if you are already working for them. It's a human rights violation, plain and simple, but as the world is perhaps noticing now, the United States couldn't give two shits about human rights. The white supremacists have thrown off their hoods and taken over our government. But the truth is, they've always been in control.

And so I write. And write. And write. Twenty-four titles since then, with probably three new ones to be added by the end of this year.

Titles almost no one has read, and probably never will read.

That's tough to deal with for a year, let alone a goddamned decade. The human animal is a tribal one, and requires recognition and praise from his peers for his hard work. I've more or less gone without not just a decade, but the high end of two decades. It has worn on me in ways I can't elucidate fully.

So in the past week, I made a couple of hard decisions.

The first is this: I rejoined Facebook. I know, I know: I've posted right here on this blog probably dozens of times how much I fucking hate that site and that I'll never rejoin it ever again. But this past week, I went against those promises and rejoined anyway. I can (maybe) live with the decision, because I'm sick and tired of not having, not finding, my tribe. My community. Over two billion people use that social media tumor. If I'm going to find my tribe, it'll probably have to start there, for better or for worse.

The second decision is less morally gruesome. I'm going to return to church. Not the Catholic Church in which I was raised, no. But the Unitarian Universalist Church which I became a member of in 2003. There's a tiny congregation in Coos Bay a couple hours north of here. Kye and I are going to the Sunday service tomorrow morning. If that turns out okay, I'll make an effort to get up there monthly, maybe bi-monthly. We'll see. It's a liberal church with a strong progressive stance, and with a strong commitment to social justice. Right up my alley.


I have "smoked" since rejoining Facecrotch. "Smoking" is the term Kye and I use to refer to the activity of looking up people from our past. I've spent a couple hours doing so the past two days.

One thing I can say doing it is this: I do not regret leaving those people behind. If their Facebook profiles are anything to go by--and I believe they are, being highly curated "best of" showcases of suburban bullet points--those individuals live shallow, consumptive, meaningless lives. I actually feel sorry for them. Life is plastic smiles, "toys"--cars and motorcycles and fancy houses and the newest tech; it's gleaming white teeth, Republican propaganda, skin-crawling self-promotional podcasts, cat GIFs, smarmy inspirational sayings from people who largely do not deserve to be quoted for any reason, videos of their kids learning to be good suburbans, vain efforts to hide ballooning asses and guts and balding heads, trip photos out the yazoo, and mindless, thoughtless 'likes' and emoticons and Jesus just shoot me already why did I rejoin this cultural cesspool O God I think I sold my soul to Satan.

As for this blog, it's going nowhere. I love this digital space. I've made it into something special. And it's only going to get better and better.

What a motherfucking ride it's been.

Update: late October, 2020:
I've already re-quit Facebook.
And the church?
Covid-19 destroyed that little venture
for me, less than a month after originally
publishing this essay.
There you go.