Apartment next to me

So I've got this neighbor. I've got several, but I've only got one next-door neighbor. And if you know who she is, would you please do me a favor? Would you ask her, "what's the deal?" She's a part-time hater. And from what I heard last night, she's a part-time slut. Maybe I wouldn't be so confused if I had actually met her. But I haven't. She, being my only neighbor, never welcomed me into the complex. I don't hold it against her, good walls make good neighbors, right? But what gets me is the writing on the wall. OK, not the wall but my door. I've gotten a couple of notes from her taped to my door. I know what you're thinking, I said she was a slut, she must be coming on to me.

Wrong. Dead wrong.

Here goes:

Your dog barks nearly the entire time that your are gone. Please do something else with it when you are unable to tell your dog to be more considerate.
Someone more considerate

Nice, right? That was the first one. Next, taped to my door, this:

PLEASE TAKE your dog when you leave. It barks NON-STOP the complete time (all night) your away.
Your Neighbor

Seriously, forget the fact the bitch knows nothing of contractions. Also note the use of capital letters, and underlined caps? C'mon. She's redundant, but still sincere. She's getting angrier. Another:

Your Fucking dog is keeping everyone awake. Next time you leave it alone and it barks all night, I'm going to let it out. Perhaps it will find a master that gives a shit.

Then my sincere, yet never present neighbor, was kind enough to download a letter from the Department of Business And Community Development Animal Control Division for Multnomah County Oregon. I won't bore you -- anymore -- with the details, but basically it said this:

Dear Pet Owner:

Your are receiving this letter because a neighbor [my only] is concerned about a barking dog at your residence...The law state "It is unlawful to permit any animal to unreasonably make disturbance..."'Saving Pets One At a Time'"

Wasn't she the one who threatened my dog? Breaking into my apartment and "Letting it out"? That doesn't sound like Saving. That to me sounds like Harming. If not the dog the herself. I'll admit that I had a problem with my dog, until I followed the advice of the downloaded letter -- five pages in all -- and bought a device. The Bark Controller.

Ah, yes. The Bark Controller, available at Petsmart ($24.95), works. It took time. But I know it works. It gives off a high pitched sound heard only to the dog when it barks. The dog learns and ceases to bark. It took a couple of tries with it but now I'm sold. And by tries I mean one more letter:

You have got to do something about your dog barking! I don't want to have to make a report to animal control, but I will if I have to.

I failed to mention that I'm home six nights a week. I go out about once a week. I guess I'm averaging just under a note a week. Not bad. Anyway, back to the slut. Yeah. I heard. I heard her getting taken last night and I wasn't sure if she was enjoying it, but it was definitely audible. Gross, I know, but true. So, do I write her a note. I don't, but if I did it would say:

You have got to do something about your panting, your moaning, your yelping self. You are keeping everyone (ME!) up all night.
Your not-so sincere-neighbor

No, it didn't last all night. I went to sleep after the five minutes her boyfriend put in. But still. Is it time to move?

an ad

Current bookshelver seeks employment elsewhere. Male, 25, with limited skill, in search of new job within the Portland area -- willing to relocate. Able to work full time, but would rather not. Single, and with few issues. Has not been fired in just under a year. Salary requirements: over current wage of $8. Bachelor degree in Geography -- whatever that means. Well groomed, though I may need a haircut. Has transportation...for now. Considering graduate school. Has personnel problems with psycho bitches, fake fucks, ass-kissers, corporate mongrels, supervisors, and anyone using me to step up the ladder. For the most part responsible and on time. Casual dress preferred. Please respond with comment.

An epic

Diagnosis: Neurosis.

We worry a lot. We make stuff up in our heads and we believe it. We fabricate symptoms. We believe we are plagued. And we're neurotic.

It's for a reason though. It tells us something. Keeps us in check. Let's us know where we stand. Suggests we should change. Even when the writing on the wall turns out to be invisible ink, we search for it. We touch the surface, try to feel it. We pull meaning from the texture we touch. It's physical. And we ... We're mental. We can actually will ourselves ill. And we can breathe us back to life. We make it all better and then we do it all again. And why? Because this is what we do. Maybe not all of us. But some: the thinkers, the worriers, the faith-deprived, and the neurotic.

We'll get better. We'll try. We'll have to get disciplined and we'll have to work. We'll have to take care of ourselves, one another. Reaffirm. Show concern. Make better. Be honest. It won't be easy. We'll probably fuck up. We have in the past. We will again. We'll say sorry, and we'll mean it. We'll make sense. We'll be right, but we'll also be wrong. It happens; it happened.

We can work it out. If not for each other then for ourselves. It's best to think of ourselves in a time like this anyway. I'm most important to me right now because if I don't take care of me then I won't be able to take care of you. Same goes for you. Please. Please take care of yourself. That's my wish. Don't hurt yourself because it also hurts me. It's got to be about you. I'm a man, but I'm only one man. And I'm not you. I want to help you, but if you help yourself you'll help me too. You'll help us all.

I'm not through. Not with you. I want to make it work. I need to work to make it work. I ask you do the same, and if it doesn't work out between us then we'll never be able to say we didn't try. That we didn't give it a shot. That there wasn't a chance.

Will this go on forever? It won't. Nothing is forever. We're here for only a short time. And then gone. Gone to somewhere else. Maybe somewhere better. Now, however, we're here. And this is real. As real as it's going to get.

Forest Park on a day much like this one Posted by Hello

on a walk today

A few blocks from my sometimes confining apartment is Forest Park, the largest forested city park in the United States -- it's 5,000 acres. I go there sometimes, but not enough. When the weather is bad, or I'm feeling gray, it is easier to go to Chapman Elementary -- two blocks away. But when I have an hour or more, which happens, I'll make the journey from Marshall to Thurman (think Alphabet District, where a block represents a letter), 26th to 3oth. Then I go down some cement steps, and some metal steps under a bridge, to the Lower Macleay Trail of Forest Park. This is a small trail that takes you to a stone house -- once a restroom -- in the far southern part of the park. The trail intersects with Wildwood Trail at the stone house. Wildwood is the longest of the Forest Park trails and winds 40 or so miles. Clearly I've only seen a small portion of this park. I will hike more, but from what I've seen I know this is the place for me, at least for now.

Heidi, my three-year old Aussie Shepard Basset-Booze Hound loves blazing these trails, jumping into the stream, which parallels Macleay, greeting other hikers, just being in the outdoors. This is why she moved here. She loves it. I guess you could say the same for me. I feel good in this place. The smells of damp dirt, the sight of moss covered trees, the feel of the cool moist air, makes me happy to be here, even if it is just me and Heidi. I walk the trail and have time to observe Nature. I see an uprooted tree, dead but with growth on it, and I realize that there is life after death. I laugh at Heidi and call her crazy for jumping into the cold stream. She shakes it off, heads up the trail, letting me know that I'll never understand. All I get out of it is that we're here to have fun and enjoy now. And though this is a strange time, this isn't such a bad place to spend it.

National Geographic did ZipUSA on my zip code:97210. Check it out at: http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0309/feature6/

The faucet drips and I'm pissed

My faucet drips and I'd just assume it wouldn't. I guess things could be worse. But if one is in fine health even the slightest disturbance can make him feel fair. So it drips. And I sit. I listen. I try and type in rhythm. I ignore it. But it drips, oh does it drip. There are screws that should be tightened and have. I am the grandson of a mechanic. I have the tools. I plumb. But it drips, Jesus Christ does it drip. And, I patiently listen. It's constant. I'll tighten it with all my might and it will slow. But it will also drip. Still fucking dripping. It's water. It's nothing. Wait, water is everything. I should respect it. Appreciate the drip. Thank God it's not a gush. I just wish it would hush. I'm tired of the drip. I close the door on the drip. Pray that the drip stops. But the drip doesn't stop. The drip has never stopped.

My toilet used to run. It used to whine. I went to the hardware store and I bought new toilet insides. It took me some time but I replaced most everything in the tank. I calmed the cry. I stopped the run. As mentioned before, I plumb. And now when I flush it all down I appreciate the quiet. I go to my dripping sink, wash my hands and smile at myself in the mirror. I walk away forgetting the drip.

There's a ventilation fan in my kitchen. I never use it. Even when I'm burning stuff and smoke fills the place, I won't turn it on. It works, but I don't use it. I have. When I did turn it on -- it's up on the wall -- water comes down from it. I don't know what's up there, but it's water and for some reason it comes down when I turn the fan on. So I don't turn the fan on, I open the window or the door. I take the battery out of the smoke detector and I stay dry.

Some how, some way, water forms a puddle under my oven. Now, maybe it comes from the same place that the water from the ventilation fan comes from. There's a sea somewhere. But I'll be walking through the kitchen and step in a pool of water, get my socks wet, curse the world, and then laugh. "Ah water, you rule the world."

I guess it has to do with Portland. It rains a lot here and water has just collected in my run-down apartment building -- I'll live -- but, that doesn't explain why the faucet is still dripping.

My feet are cold. I'm going to put on some socks.

Jetta Bastard

Getting to work is a numbers game. So, I see 5:17 on the microwave clock and I see 5:15 on the alarm clock by the door. I'm going to be late or on time. Not early. Not this morning. I snoozed this morning. It was freezing last night. Bellow 32 degrees. Easily. I can tell because I was out there at 5 a'whatever scraping my windows with a piece-of-shit ice scraper. My Jetta was warming up. It didn't need to, like me it's ready to move when awakened. I would have been down the street, but there was no visability. I could see when I was done, but not much better. I would have to scrape both sides of the windows. But I wouldn't. Defrost on 4, even with the noise, I'm fine, warm enough. I'm trying to get the CD player to warm up, it says, "ERROR" and spits out the disc. Unlike the Jetta and myself, it has trouble starting on a cold morning. I let it relax a sec and try again. It works. I might be late but music will get me there.

In the Jetta there are lights. The CD player, when it's working, lights up like a cell phone. The headlights work, and the brake lights work -- last time I checked -- but, no longer do the dash lights work. There was a dimmer to the dash lights. It was cute. I could set my odometer's mood. Shed light on the gas situation. But now it's dark. Except the clock. The clock lights up. And it's reading 5:21 -- I am going to be late. Butbutbut bababy haahhhhooow mmuuuuchch?...ch...ch...Dead. Gas. I'm outta fucking gas. Shit. I'm up hill, so I'll coast down. From the top of the hill, I trying starting. It's running, then it's dead. Great. Bottom of the hill -- 21st street. And Stopped. Middle of the Intersection. A kind stranger, from some reason out -- at 5:25 -- early this morning, helped me push the car into a spot with the sign, "1 hour parking." "Thank you," I said and he was gone. I called work. "Mike, my car busted," I amazed myself with. "Tell Ben to pick me up." Ben did, but he called first. He asked if I had a can. "Nope." And he informed me that they don't just hand those things out. "See ya in fifteen," he also informed me. Wandering the streets on the phone, I went back to the car. It was cold, freezing, and for some reason I didn't have a coat on. I had a golf shirt and a ultra light pullover. The car was warmer and my CD player was working, I'd be fine.

At 5:48 Ben showed -- recognized me by my hazzards. I got in his truck and we were on Burnside in five minutes. The Chevron had gas cans and gas. I bought one, and filled it. Actually, I didn't fill it up because I live in Oregon. It was 5:56 when I finally paid the pumper, 5.95 for the gas can and 3.97 on Pump #3 for the 2.091 gallons at 1.899/gal. $9.92. Back at the Jetta on 21st and Kearny where I'm calling the Jetta my bastard child. I'm pouring gas in the tank and it' dribbling on my hand. I smell of gas. It fixed my busted Jetta and I apologized to my son. You're not a bastard, just lucky it was gas. It's 6:20 when I clocked into work. 50 minutes late. My 7th occurance. Sunday I start using my 80 hours of vacation time. Tomorrow I need to wake up at 4:10 and not snooze.

some time ago Posted by Hello

What's the what?

I have a question, but don't answer. First this:

The only piece of advice that I'm certified to give is, when you're high on life, living the dream, doing good, on-fire, on whatever, I beg of you, if your phone rings, and it shouldn't, it shouldn't be here, -- this place triumphant, you shouldn't have brought it or you should have turned it off, you should have broken it when this happened last Tuesday, don't get it now; it rings, oh, it fucking rings, you've made sure it rings, -- not too quiet, but so you can hear it -- it's been in pocket, out of pocket, left in car, it's always on the same ring: Medium Low; you've missed a call, but then you think, and you check it, and you check the time, "No one called at 12:48. Check," when was the last call? Check Missed Calls...Fuck...This isn't worth it.

So. How many times are you in this Mecca? When else are you resting on this pillow? Think, man. This could be it. Don't answer it. Hit END before there's a beginning. We shouldn't do the phone thing. Not like this. It's too much worry. Socialize with the environment that you're in or nothing. Break rules, don't check in. Call later. No one is growing here. It's out there, and it's not good.

It wasn't you alone. Sure, you helped, you didn't always call, you thought about it, but you didn't always do it. And that's cool, your for the cause: 'Less minutes call time, more minutes face time.'

This is Understanding, and this is why? we know who? now is when? or then; and, here's where?

But what's the what?

What's the what?

And we've got it all.

a letter

Hey, you,

I have this issue. I have many issues. One in particular -- of my issues -- I find painfully important to share. So please, let me.

I like a lot. Probably too much. Then sometimes, I don't like anything in front of me. Like, for instance, sometimes I crave your affection. Other times, I'd just assume be by myself. When, at times I like your feedback, there are times when I won't call you for days. I'll take your calls most of the time, think of calling you, but I won't make the call when I think to. Because I've got this issue, we'll never be as close as we should be.

I hide myself out of reach, but would love for you to come find me; I don't want you to depend on me, but I'll depend on you. I need more sleep, but I'd sleep with you even if that meant less. I like talking to you even if it seems like I'm just listening. I continue the conversation after we've said goodbye. I'll share more with the imaginary you. You won't like this, but it turns out to be true.

I'll see you again because I can. I thnk if we try we can at least have the minimum. But, to be honest, we'll never have it all. I'm a terrible guy who has an issue: I like you. But I like a lot. Love to like, so we'll see....

And, guess what?
It's me

a conversation

"Quickly what's the name of your girl's, friend's, brother's roommate?"
There was no answer;
"Her name?"
no answer;
"What do you mean you don't know?"
no answer;
"You know?"
no answer;
no answer;
no answer;
"Well Shit. That's fucking great, man. You don't know fucking shit."
no answer;
"You peice."
no answer;
"What's the fucking girl's name?"
"Oh, that's Emily;"
"Emily what?"
no answer.

His name was Billy Gupton

10:30 the Timex alarm clock read. It was Sunday morning and Billy Gupton got out of bed. It must have been his folks leaving for church that brought him out of his stupor; he made sure they were gone before he got vertical.

When he arrived at home earlier that morning all was quiet in the house he grew up in. Now, opening his bedroom door, there was a hush. There was no movement in the house, no noise, but a hush. Billy Gupton's ears crackled and the hush changed. He moved his jaw right to left. It was bright so he scrunched his face, stretching it tight then wide. Billy's head hurt; he was dehydrated. His body hurt too; he was sore.

In the kitchen: 'Glad no ones home,' Billy thought. 'Water.' He ran water into an empty jar. It practically absorbed in his mouth; it tasted sweet; he finished it all in one drink. Some spilled down his chin and onto his bare chest, but Billy made no attempt to wipe it off. Back to his room: He stood looking at the evidence of last night's arrival. Coming in: He dropped his pants from his waist, stepped out of at the ankles. His shoes spread -- one here, one there. A shirt was taken off and thrown into the corner near the hamper. 'The pockets of pants must still be full,' Billy thought.

He dug in, pulling out handfuls. Right front contained keys, a napkin with writing on it -- haikus written in black ink -- a black pen, and gum wrappers. Left front pocket had a battery-dead cell phone, aviation sunglasses, and change. Back right pocket -- his wallet. 'No idea what's inside.' ATM receipts told him, '40.00 -- checking.'

'Where did it go?' He reached for the back left and found a five.

'Five.' He put everything on his dresser and walked to the bathroom.

To the tub: Billy's on his knees. Straightens up and turns the knob to hot and out to full blast. Filled it up briefly, and turned the water off. Scrub the tub: With his hand and the water that had collected he cleaned. He stopped and let it drain. He put the rubber draincover over the drain. Hot again and full blast. He stood and felt dizzy. Looking down the tub seemed small. Water was filling; the steam made Billy need to sit. Lid down, Billy sat. He brought his elbows to his knees and his head to his hands. He breathed deeply, felt weak, then stood.

The mirror: Get a second opinion. His brown eyes were red. 'Ha, ha, you look like shit.' Still, he leaned into the counter. He hadn't shaved in a week and his facial hair patched his cheeks and down his neck. Phlegm came to the top of his throat. Billy slid it down his tongue and into the sink. He put toothpaste on his toothbrush, but decided not to put it (the toothbrush) in his mouth. Gag reflexes: Stomach elsewhere. He shut off the faucet. Back to the bedroom: He took off his boxers and stood naked for a moment. He picked up the napkin on his dresser. He read:

I'm at O'Brien's.
Sitting and drinking my beer,
No one knows my name.

'Another beer please,'
Clearly haven't had enough.
'Fill my head with thoughts.'

She is late again
Always comes when I am drunk
Can't let her know though.

"How did that felt, don't remember. Remember writing, but don't remember feeling.' Th thought of alcohol made him tired.

Elaine. 'She was late last night, but she did come. I let her know she was late, completely blowing my plan of not letting her know that Iwas drunk.' She stayed for a while, had a drink herself, but Billy had had more too and that turned into a problem. 'She left me at the bar.' Billy drank more, wrote poems and chewed gum.

Back in the bathroom: Billy went to the mirror where he looked below the neck. 'Getting fatter; no doubt about it.' Now a few years out of college, where he hadn't gained weight, Billy had been drinking more and doing less. His shoulders slumped and when he tightened his pecs they didn't move. 'Waist, give me a boost...Nothing?' It was neither a stomach nor the flat abs that he once had. It was nothing. Lower. 'Dick, c'mon.' Hung over as well, it didn't respond. Must have been the whiskey. Scared penis fearing the bath, made him think of whiskey. 'Whiskey.'

Sluggish, Billy went to the kitchen. Sunday paper. Sports. Having the section gave Billy comfort. 'Hurry back.' He knew he had time with the water, just felt funny naked. He ran on his toes. Once in the bathroom he closed the door. Billy's hunched and turned the knob to the right for cold as he lifted the lid to the toiletseat. 'Relax.' He pissed in rhythm with the flowing water. The urine smelt strong and came out for a solid minute. 'Ahhhhhh.' In the bowl the water was so yellow it looked orange. 'Flush...Down.' Like lava returning into a volcano.

Tubs make noise. 'Rrrreeee,' the surface squealed as his body rubbed the surface during entry. 'Cup the nuts...Shield.' It's a must. It was hot, 'Fucking hot,' but felt good on his aching body. He dropped the paper to his right and closed his eyes. He released his balls and felt the water with his open palm, 'Wheuooo...ahhh.'

There was darkness at first when Billy Gupton closed his eyes. He saw black. 'I see black. It feels like I'm at the cinema.' Lights up: He's at O'Brien's. He's talking with Elaine. Close-up of Elaine. It was the first time they met: Elaine was nice to him, found his drunkenness enjoyable, Come to my house, Billy. Stay the night, she said. Cool sheets. A warm body. Sweet smell. 'I remember Elaine that morning, close and comfortable.'

Billy's cheeks rose. He smiled with out parting his lips. His face was clammy but his lips were stuck together with dried saliva. Knees bending, he slid in down to his chin. He lowered his knees until his head was beneath the surface of the water. Billy's body was consumed by the bath water, but his brain was in a different place. Last night: Writing his poems, he watched her walk in. 'Loved her and wanted to be with her all the time.' But said, 'we should move in together.' She didn't know him. 'I said it and convinced myself.' He couldn't convince her; scared her. He wished he did it sober as it sounded like good idea. 'It'd be different; I couldn't do it sober.'

Like a blanket, the warm water covered Billy's body. His mind wasn't right and it slipped deeper. Billy reached the breath-hold point. He slept as he dreamt his movie. First night at Elaine's: Billy's in bed with her. She says, how do you feel, Billy? Billy said he felt nothing. He said he'd call that day but didn't. 'I sobered up. I thought about it.' He didn't call.

Asphyxia. Water overtook oxygen as Billy dreamt. It was killing him as he watched his underwater movie. The film moved forward in time. 'It's the future. This is what it would like living with her. Every morning like that with her.' Selfish. 'I didn't love her but loved the feeling of love. Love to love.' He wanted to move in her, thinking his love would grow. She didn't want that. She didn't feel comfort on the same level. In the dream he woke up next to her every morning. Feeling the way he felt that first time every morning. They were honest with eachother. Billy opened up, listened, and soon loved.

The water worked into his lungs. Billy became unconscious. Lungs flooded and his body bobbed. His head stayed under. 'Honesty is the new love.' Hypoxia.

In with the knew

If I had known now what I knew then I still don't think things would be that different. But at the same time, I think I knew all along. Does that make it wrong? I think it does.

Tabitha came to get her whiskey last night. And I asked her if she wanted to say anything to me. She did but couldn't. She needed the whiskey to do so. So she wrote me a letter.

I could tell she was drunk, the letter said so. She also poured it out and made me realize that I needed to have a converstion with her. Explain a little more. There was a lot that she didn't know. I wanted to tell her. Wanted to be honest.

And I was.

Friends change. I liked her, but knew all along that we wouldn't end up together; I still like her and know we never will. It's my issue:

If I knew then that this would happen, would I do the same. I would. I had fun. We had fun. Yet, we're able to stay friendly. There's something wrong with it, but not for me.

Out with the ole

"Holy Shit," was my reaction on the second of January waking up next to my ex-girlfriend. "Holy Shit," I said.

I had gone up to Seattle kind of on the fly. It was New Year's Day and I was with Tabitha, a girl from work I had been seeing, when Steve called and wanted to know I wanted to ride with him and Katie, his girlfriend, to Seattle. I did and called back fifteen minutes later and told him I'd go.

First, though, I was going to pick up a desk from Tabitha's. It was in Beaverton and we were going to use her dad's truck to bring it to my apartment in Portland. We went there, took her bedroom door off, brought the desk down some stairs, picked up her dad's truck, put the dek in the truck's bed and drove the 25 or so minutes to my place.

Steve, awaiting with Katie at my place for the last few hours, came down, helped me unload the desk. I said goodbye to Tabitha and we kissed for the last time.

See, my problem is that I'm an asshole.

On the way up to Seattle I asked Steve and Katie how I could break it off with this girl. I liked her, but there was no love connection. "That sounds real," Katie said. It was. It was how I felt.

Before we left I called Lacey and she didn't answer. I knew she was in Seattle. She flew in that morning from New Mexico, where she was visitng family for the holiday. I knew she'd be there, but she didn't answer. She called me back and I told her I'd call her when I got there, but that I wanted to see her. She agreed to this but seemed surprised.

Now, maybe it was the buzz from New Year's, but I was feeling pretty good about which surprised too.

After two stops. Kelso and Lacey, Wash. (no relation) we arrived in Seattle. We met up with Katie's friends from Arkansas. They were in the band Aqueduct (Pistols at Dawn), and were gracious.

I called Lacey and she had a friend drop her off. We hung out for a bit and she wanted to leave, go back to her place. So we did that.

At her apartment there was wine. There was sushi. There were stories, memories, tears. There were cigarettes. Then there was sex. Then more.

We spent nearly the entire next day, laughing, telling more stories, eating and being honest.

We decided love changed and that seemed to be OK.

I left there feeling good and hollow.

Because there was Tabitha.

I mentioned that I was an asshole.

I had to break up with her because if I didn't I'd be living a lie. It wasn't fair for her.

She wanted her desk back. Briefly, she did. She called. A couple of times. She called telling me she wanted it, then saying I could keep it. Then called to tell me she wanted her quarter-filled bottle of whiskey and that she was coming over to pick it up in a couple of hours.

And so I sit here. Writing on her old desk. And waiting for her to come pick up her whiskey.