Sunday, June 20, 2010

World Enough and Time

My world has taken a turn for the weird. I have been hearing on and off for a few months from a family who said they wanted to rent my house for four months in the fall. They also wanted to rent the mother-in-law apartment for their nanny. People with nannies are Back East and get into scandals for not paying employment taxes. Here in the egalitarian West we don't hold with such fancifications. We settle social differences with Colt revolvers in the middle of the street at high noon. Winner is played by Gary Cooper in the inevitable movie, loser goes to Boot Hill. Or at least we used to.

For a long time I tried to hold the idea of what to do if they actually did take the house in abeyance. I am not one of those who can easily think in contingencies. But I did come up with some contingent plans.

One was to work on a coffee table book I have had kicking around on my agenda of things to do for a while. Though there are some genuinely startling and appalling gargoyles on the older cathedrals in Europe, mainly in France, there seems to be no collection of photographs of them.

At least there wasn't when I checked ten or fifteen years ago. There may be by now. If there still isn't, it would be fun to make one. One would start with the Romanesque cathedral at Toulouse which is lousy with gargoyles, but they are up high and hard to see. They were intended to scare away demons, not to be admired by the Christians, so there was no reason for them to be visible from the street.

It would be a lot of work and require a lot of time spent in various cities. I already have a good camera, a tripod, and a second hand telephoto lens. I would have to live either in hotels which would be horribly expensive, or buy a used mini-van in France and live in that, and in youth hostels sometimes, and in cheap hotels sometimes.

So that was one possibility.

A second possibility was to live on an ulpan in Jerusalem. An ulpan is a residential Hebrew school, we would say today an immersion program. When refugees were flooding into Israel from Europe in the 1940's and from the Muslim countries in the 1950's, it was necessary for everyone to learn Hebrew as quickly as possible. Otherwise the country would have become a polyglot mess of Arabic speakers from Egypt, Yemen, and Iraq, and Yiddish speakers from Poland, Russia, and Rumania.

The solution was ulpanim. On an ulpan, one lived in a barracks, studied Hebrew in the morning, and did agricultural work in the afternoon. A modern ulpan is quite different, but the underlying purpose is the same. A modern ulpan-nik pays for her stay and her instruction. One does volunteer work if one is so inclined (most are).

Which is itself a measure of the success of Zionism and Israel. Jews no longer arrive in Israel as harried refugees fleeing persecution. Israel is discriminated against and persecuted among the nations, but the Jews within its borders no longer are. Unless they are within rocket range of Gaza. But that is another story for another time.

The third option I considered was living in the RV for the duration, or at least some of it. I lived in the RV during the summer of 2007 and loved it. That summer I spent mostly in northern Canada. Northern Alberta is a pastoral idyll. Parts of it are secretly heaven but have been hushed up to avoid tourism and development. Not a bad place if you don't mind the occasional moose wandering on the road.

One advantage of spending the autumn living in the bus is that North America is my favorite continent and I would spend some time poking around in it. Another is that I could easily get far enough away from the world to not have wi-fi access to the internet time suck. A corollary to that is that in being away from both home and the internet, I might just get off my butt and sit down and write something.

There are several things I would like to write, the essays about deforestation in particular, that I might be more likely to work on if I weren't at home and online all the time. I might actually go to the trouble to learn how to take photos as well.

Anyway, Thursday the promised "check is in the mail" turned out to actually be in the mail. So this madness is on. It apparently is actually going to happen. So come August 21, I am going to set out for North America.

In contemplating which of the several choices to choose, it occurred to me that I should leave for North America whether the tenants rent the house or not. I have been lurking around this dump with only occasional exits (Latvia, Florida, Shanghai, Wisconsin) since coming back from Alaska in 2008. I am getting stale and it is time to get the hell out of here. Especially out of this claustrophobic little apartment and this repetitive little town.

And now I will.

But there is a lot to do. I have to get the house fixed up - rooms painted, termites whacked, dry rot repaired, new rugs added, more sheets and pillowcases, gardening spiffed up.

And the bus requires a lot of work too. It needs the stairs replaced, and I need to be shown how the heater and hot water work.

Actually now that I think of it, I ought to work on the house first. I can have the bus worked on while I am living in it, if need be. The young'uns who are currently renting the joint are off for the weekend, so I can break in and paint some rooms in their absence.

These particular young'uns, unlike the Irish clods who were here in 2008, are creative and intelligent. They are engaged in making an anime commercial for AT&T. I have seen some of the story boards for it and it looks like it will be elaborate, clever as hell, and fun to watch. Some of the work is actually being done in my front room and foyer. How cool is that?

So maybe I should get dressed and start doing that, instead of sitting here? Nah.


  1. Jasmin10:32 AM

    I hope you have a miserable trip dog! Jasmin, XX

  2. Thanks Jasmin. You are too kind. Too kind of what remains undetermined....

  3. Christy3:59 PM

    So let me get this straight, you're going to break into their leased home and paint their house without their consent? Reminds me of when we arrived in America and discovered we were basically sharing a house with a middle aged Berkely PHD student who had an issue with loud noise and cigaretter smoke.

    You are a terrible landlord.

  4. Thank for writing Christy. You have established yet again the tenuousness of your grasp on reality.

    I left before you and your mates arrived and returned after you left. I have never met you, nor you I. So you never shared a house with me for even a moment. Middle age is something midway between birth and death at three score and ten. I haven't been middle aged for a long time. I am OLD. I already have a doctoral degree and don't need another so I was not a Ph.D. candidate when you were here. I was in Canada and Alaska when you and your friends were here so it wasn't likely I would know or care what noise you made. Common decency is that you smoke outside in someone else's home. But then again, common decency is such a strain on your juvenile impulses, isn't it, boyo?

    I am going to arrange their consent well in advance and paint when it will be convenient for them for me to paint.

    You got every single thing you wrote wrong. Including the last. I am an excellent landlord. The problem was that you are such a worthless tenant.

  5. Christy11:45 AM

    What? Are you choosing to forget that there was a female middle aged woman living in a granny flat, something we knew absolutely nothing about beforehand? Have you forgotten your brain medicine again?

  6. This existence of this middle-aged woman is equally credible with your not being Abood, you lying Irish piece of sh_t.

  7. Damien1:34 PM

    Jack, are you for real here? Are you saying that woman was a squatter or are you playing games with silly old Christy again?

  8. Actually I am so much not amused by his Abood character that if Christy were to fall drunk in front of a speeding train, I would get out my camera so I could enjoy over and over on video his being reduced to the same bloody pile of shit as a body that he is as a person.

    I am becoming suspicious I know who the squatter might have been had she been real. However both you and Christy are such persistent liars and swine about Israel, that you have little credibility on any other subject either.

    What name do you remember the woman to have had? And what was her Ph.D. field? Describe her.

  9. Christy2:37 PM

    Jesus Christ!!! Are you serious?? This is a fucking laugh!!!

    Are you honestly telling me you know nothing about the woman who lived in the granny flat?

    All I know is that she was an awful headcase and reported us to the police a few times. Apparantly she was finishing her PHD in Berkely, I'm not sure though, it is over 2 years ago at this stage. She had a bike and cycled every day to her college. The other neighbours seemed to have known her personally, in particularly the wife of the goofy English fellow.

    Let me just add that I find it hilarious that she was squatting in the granny flat while you were away, completely without your knowledge. My respect for her has now balooned.

    P.S- She had a plumber friend who was midly unhinged (Either that or he was an American caricature)

  10. I know who it was. Her name is Diana. You are quite right about her being a headcase. The boyfriend was a reasonable person except for having the headcase girlfriend. She was also a thief. Unlike your lot who I was mistaken in thinking you would have the brains or taste to steal classical music CD's she really did steal a huge framed Vermeer canvas print. She asked if she could have it. I said no, so she took it anyway.

    You are right that it is remarkable to have had not one lowlife headcase scumbag here that summer, but two.

  11. She had lived here the previous year, 2007, as a subtenant of the woman who had the large apartment with her daughters that year. Apparently Diana kept the key and I was not wary enough of scumbags to change the locks.

    Of course she was just a sleaze and a thief. You on the other hand are a sleaze and a racist pig. On the whole, I prefer her.

  12. Christy4:01 PM

    Thanks Jack, this is the most humourous thing I've heard in a long time. For 99% of the globes population I would feel a semblance of pity, but for you... Well it couldn't have happened to a nicer person. By the way I did steal one of your books.

  13. Well, Christy, given your Abood racism, I could not really care less what you think because you are both mentally and morally defective. In your better moments you rise to the level of subhuman. You are a waste of flesh.

  14. Christy8:41 AM

    Hi Jack,

    Abood is not me. (Abood is a lovely opportunity to vent my feelings without the pretense of not being a racist.) Though I'm glad it makes you feel better about yourself to think that he is.

    I enjoy your double standards. Namely the time you said that we would be the last Irish people to ever rent your home. That comment was racist. (It is not our fault that, as Irish literature shows in endless profusion, we are a people cursed with drunkeness, immaturity, and among men egomaniac puerility.)

    And may I add that there was a possibility that Diana vandalised the house once we left? I never thought about it before, but it makes sense considering she was a headcase squatter who you didn't even know was there. If this is the case, I'll await my checque compensating me for the deposit in the mail. (In fact I will say or speculate to deny responsibility for my infantile behavior and vandalism.)

  15. Christy4:25 AM

    Why did you not post my comment? It was a reasonable assertion.

  16. Which one of your stupid unpleasantnesses are you referring to?

  17. Christy4:04 PM

    That Diana may have vandalised the house before she left. She is a headcase after all, and she squatted in your flat without your consent.

    If this is the case, will you please return the deposits you stole from us?

  18. Diana was one of TWO headcases here that summer you mendacious lying piece of shit. You also claim not to be Abood, not to be a bigoted racist, and whatever other headcase juvenility strikes you at the moment.

    She also does not smoke. Part of your vandalism consisted of putting out cigarettes on the front of my house and throwing the butts in the bushes, you sleazy lying racist little pig.

  19. Christy4:25 PM

    Stop calling me Abood and stop accusing me of lying. Does it hurt you to confront the possibility that you may be wrong?

  20. Christy, you are far stupider and a more transparent liar than you realize. You are obvious, boyo.

  21. Christy12:56 AM

    Offer me your proof. How am I abood? What have I done? I have explained my reasoning for staying away while he was rampaging on this site. I am just about sick of the accusation at this stage. I AM NOT ABOOD.

  22. "Methinks the lady doth protest too much.""

  23. Christy1:50 AM

    Considering the amount of slander you've directed my way, I don't believe it is too much. If anything I've been remarkably restrained about it all. I expect an apology.

  24. How perfect! You spend two years vilifying me both under your own name and as Abood, and now you complain that I am not polite enough to you?

    What a fucking headcase you are, Christy. It is precisely because you have so consistently refused to show even the least civility as Christy and been even more despicable as Abood that I have left off showing you any.

    This is exactly of piece with your vandalizing my house and then whining that you didn't get your deposit back.

    It is also why you sympathize with the Palestinians. They can't see any connection between their actions and the consequences either.

  25. Christy writes-
    "Abood is not me. (Abood is a lovely opportunity to vent my feelings without the pretense of not being a racist.)"

    Well good. I am glad we got that settled. In the same message you both deny and admit to being Abood. In vino veritas, eh? Loser.

    "It is not our fault that, as Irish literature shows in endless profusion, we are a people cursed with drunkeness, immaturity, and among men egomaniac puerility."

    If fault means anything, that is what it means. It is precisely your fault that you are worthless in at least the ways you mention. We are all born as infants and it is our first task in life to grow up, to become adults. You seem not to have done that, nor even to have tried. The fact that others in your country have not either does not excuse you in the least.