Thursday, February 28, 2008

the present and the past


If you know me, you know I love two types of cars -- Toyota and Jaguar. My lottery fantasy of owning two cars (how extravagant) has always included a Toyota SUV (old dream, 1988 4Runner; new dream, 2008 Highlander hybrid) and a Jaguar (old dream, 1975 XJ 3.4; new dream, 2008 S-Type). There is some flexibility in there. I like my current Scion, and Ted's Prius is pretty darned cool. And it's impossible for my head not to turn at the sight of the new Jaguar XK (rrrrrow).

Other automobile makers occasionally earn props on Kelly's Opinion of Cars. When I lived in Connecticut, I regularly saw an Aston Martin DBS that was jaw-droppingly beautiful. I like the new generation Mini Coopers. And someone in the town where I live now drives an orange Lotus Elise in nice weather (i.e. not for the last three months), which is certainly eye-catching (though I would personally never want one, and would certainly never fit into one).

Tonight, I saw a Mercedes Benz CLS 55 AMD in a parking lot, and holy guacamole, it is one pretty car. I've never been a big fan of MB, perhaps because, despite their luxury reputation, most of their designs were just boxyugly when I first started ogling cars in my youth. In any event, it was lovely, and I just thought I'd mention it.

How this car rave segues into reading old journals, I can't tell you. I just started wandering through the first of my entries when I began electronically chronicling life, which occurred just as I moved myself 'cross country. Here's a smattering from June 1991. For me, it's interesting to read because I see some aspects of my personality that are exactly the same nearly 17 years later, and others that are now completely different. It's also cringe-worthy for its mundaneness and complete lack of creativity.

A brief primer in preparation for this.

  • I moved from Maine to Seattle, where I had no family, friends, place to live, or job lined up.

  • The trip was 5000 miles instead of 3000 because I "detoured" to Los Angeles to visit my brother.

  • Current cost for a room at the SeaTac Motel 6 is $44.99 per night, plus tax.

  • "Sisters" turned out to be one of my favorites shows.

  • Although upon arrival I expressed frustration at the concept of still being in Seattle after six months, it was all I could do to pry myself away from that wonderful city nine years later.

  • Anyone who tackles a long drive should read "On the Road."

  • I did not get the job at the Seattle Art Institute.

  • The house where I first rented a room contained roommates, Bean, Mike, and Dave.

  • Dave drove a bakery truck at the crack of dawn, and his spare time was spent at his "second job" (i.e. the race track, which he called "the plant").

  • The money that funded my trek was a cashed-out pension.

  • I lived in Seattle for one year before getting a television. During that first year, I became a regular at the Lake City Library, where I not only read lots of books, I used the communal computers one hour per night to journal and work on my resume, and Mavis Beacon taught me how to type correctly.

  • Priscilla and Phoenix (my cats) ended up staying with my parents for nearly a year. I brought them back to Seattle with me when I returned from my friend, Pam's wedding in 1992. Phoenix never adjusted. She ran away in 1993. Priscilla remained my precious kitty love until she died in October of 1998. It is her picture below, taken from my dining room table (she was on the skylight above).

June 21, 1991

A trip cross country, almost 5000 miles in 2 weeks, gone by. And I didn't write an ounce of it down. I rationalized that everything would come back easily enough when I look at the maps, motel receipts, and pictures. But I was frustrated that I couldn't write or tape things as I was driving. There were many inspirational sights, sounds, smells and events which conjured up creative literary images.

For some reason today, I decided it was time to write now. Time to write everything. I have encountered so many thoughts and emotions. If I'd written them down (or somehow recorded them), I would have filled a lot of paper space or blank tapes. It may have helped me to organize some of these many, overwhelming, and often confusing ideas.

June 22, 1991

This morning, as I was waking up, I realized where I am (Motel 6 on South 188th in SeaTac), and when that happened, it suddenly made me feel ALONE. None of my friends or family is here, and I'm having a challenging time trying to get started (anything -- job, apartment) because everyone I talk to is a stranger.

I have to go brush my teeth, throw on some clothes, and ask the girl at the desk the location of nearest laundromat when I pay another $32.02 for this room.

June 23, 1991

I was watching a show called "Sisters" last night and thinking about how hard it is to be here with my family and friends in New Hampshire, Maine, etc... . One line in the show was a younger sister saying to an older sister who was leaving town "there's nothing you'll find out there that you don't already have right here."

I've thought about that. I had it good where I was. A comfortable job, a nice apartment full of furniture and other necessary implements, close access to my friends, and regular visits to my family. It was good. Obviously something was missing, or I wouldn't have left it all behind, right? Hmmm.

I'm looking for a job and an apartment. I wanted to be idealistic and find a job I would really enjoy -- preferably in the music industry. It's tough not knowing exactly what I want. And my money's not coming from a never-ending source, so I've just got to find employment.

I interviewed at a place called Mills Music in Bothell on Friday. It's a store which sells and rents musical instruments, sheet music and supplies. A nice man, James Mills, and a beautiful store. Of course, I went in after he talked with Isaac Meyers -- grandson of the man who ran Meyers Music... a legacy in the instrument world in Seattle. James was kind enough to tell me that I was up against some pretty stiff competition. Oh well... even if I don't get hired there, I know that I can rent a piano for $39. a month!

I have an interview tomorrow at Promotions in Motion, an advertising agency. I'm hoping to be hired on the spot. Talk about optimistic. I want to start working THIS WEEK... I NEED THE MONEY! I also think it will help me to find an apartment once I'm employed.

June 24, 1991

I had it great. I had a comfortable, secure job, opportunity to be published bi-weekly, nice apartment... . I've been through this before. I'm just frustrated that I left it all behind to find something better. I know what is said about hindsight. I could have used that time to develop my writing skills and apply to other careers while employed in a stable job. But I could only possibly appreciate that opportunity after giving it up and moving 3000+ miles away.

I'm trying to find an apartment. I am now running low on money, so I want to get into a place soon. AAARRRRGGHHHH! Now I just want a job so I can pay everything off. Now I'm going to watch Nightline, about unemployment and overwhelming debt.

½ hour later...

Someone mentions that Christmas eve is 6 months from tonight and what rushes through my mind is how I'm going to buy presents and why the hell I would still be in Seattle.

June 25, 1991

Jack Kerouac never anticipated the 90s.

June 26, 1991

OK. I have a place to live. It's a little room (not that little, but not huge) with a corner window (a cool thing) in a house with three other people. I've only met one of them. It's kind of strange, but as long as nothing unusual happens between now and tomorrow when I get my keys, I'll be OK.

Now I just have to find a job. I want that job at the Seattle Art Institute. I want that job at the Seattle Art Institute.


June 29, 1991

Saturday. What did I do on Saturdays in Maine. I think I went to New Hampshire enough that when I actually stayed in Maine, I allowed myself to vegetate. Watch movies, listen to records, clean the apartment, drive somewhere. Today, I slept til 10:00 (not really, I kept waking up 5:30, 7:00, 7:30, 8:00, etc...). Then I had an English muffin for breakfast. I talked to Dave for a little while. His 1974 Barracuda passed the state emissions test. Then he went to the track.

Bean wandered up and down for a little bit, altering (her client) Barbara's polyester skirts. Then, she went to a conference.

I ended up reading "The Carousel" by Rosamunde Pilcher, the author of the runaway best seller "The Shell Seekers." It only took 3½ hours to read. It was a good-but-predictable story. It did make me realize that if I want to write professionally, I need to be reading more often. If I read more and diversified things, I'll have a better grasp on the styles I do and don't want to emulate. I've been reading the newspaper every day for a couple weeks now. I quite enjoy it. I never bought the paper in Maine, because I never needed or wanted to.

Right now, I want to be employed more that just about anything. I'm thinking about the influx of bills I'll be getting in the mail on Monday (Mom's forwarding them to me). The only thing which allays my fears of unpaid bills is that I paid (and in some cases overpaid) all my bills before I left a month ago. So, at the most, I'm a couple weeks behind. And everything from Maine is paid --electric, phone, cable, oil, etc... . My auto insurance will be due in a month.

Anyway, I do need to start working this week. The sooner I start, the better! It's hard to imagine that on June 6th, I had $1600. cash, and as of June 29th, I have less than two dollars in loose change. I'll have to go through my receipts to figure out where it all went. I know that 17 or 18 nights in a hotel adds up quickly (17 x $30 = $510. approx.), plus $400 to move into the house. Plus gas, food, film, tolls, crates, hangers, etc... . That's where all that money went. It's not like I was being extravagant and buying souvenirs everywhere I stopped. In fact, the only things I bought for myself are postcards. I bought a gift for Gerry, and paid for gas for Denise when she drove me to Idyllwyld and back. Regardless, I knew that I would spend that money: that's what I planned to do.

I just expected to be immediately employed, and if I had been, I'd probably have my first check by now.

What a boring life I lead. I was just talking to Dave about various things, mostly rock 'n roll. It started because "Alone" by Heart was on the radio. He said "Heart: Seattle's Biggest Embarrassment." It struck me as really funny, and I howled! He said he'd met Ann Wilson about 10 years ago at a party, and she was doing major coke. The conversation led to artists, musicians, actors who invariably get involved with drugs and alcohol. It's almost a prerequisite that if you're remotely famous, you have to have a slightly scandalous lifestyle. Which leads me to the conclusion that I will never become famous due to my past, present, and presumably future straight-as-an-arrow lifestyle.

Anyway, nothing makes me feel like I’m me here. I no longer have my job, home, alma mater, family, or friends to support my sense of myself. It has been largely based on those things for a long time, so when I took them all away, I struggled with my identity. When I first got here, all I was was an unemployed nomad in a city full of strangers. It is my task to affirm myself (as a person -- not as a job or a home) within these circumstances.

It's amazing, the thought process that occurs in the absence of television. Dave has a TV in his room. He put it out in the living room for half a day, and I watched in mindlessly. But it's his TV, it's always been in his room, and unless I buy a TV, I'll be watching none of it. That will be a very good thing. I won't have to pay for cable. Although that would probably be nominal ($6.00 or so), it will be that much less to budget. I will be forced into other alternatives, such as reading, writing, and getting out and about.

Look at everything that I've written just because there's no television.

June 30, 1991

I'm not getting my cats. I just talked to my parents. The conversation was going along normally, then my mother asked if I minded if they had the cats declawed. So many things rushed through my mind that I forgot to say anything. It was obviously a longer pause than I thought, so she asked again -- or said something relative to shake me back into reality.

The things that went through my head:

  • I found a place to live that would allow me to have cats so that my parents didn't have to house them for any longer than necessary.

  • If they're declawed, they're going to be angry, and I won't be there to help them through recovery.

  • They won't be able to travel for a couple months, probably.

  • These cats are my children, and I feel like an uncaring parent who has abandoned her babies by moving cross country and leaving them with someone else to care for them.

  • They are one of the few stable things in my life, and I've been shifting them around ever since I got them. Moreso, in recent months.

  • My parents think I'm a freeloading, spoiled brat, and they need to be totally responsible for them.

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