Assisted Living

The lake level has gone down now and there are kayakers and fishermen out early — the same lake I came to with my dog in the winter months with my German tapes on an iPod shuffle and my notepad, hoping for something brilliant. We live 10 minutes from this lake and don’t come to it enough, so I resigned myself to daily walks since I left my job, six months ago this week.

My wife clocked enough hours for her contract work last month to annualize at $300,000 USD. It’s no kind of life though, working 80 hours a week — and while I’m quick to point out that I’m doing everything else and itemizing my tasks, it’s nothing like getting 32 session owners to get their decks in by the drop-dead date, which means nothing to anyone, the term “drop-dead.”

So there is a stark imbalance in the household with Dawn online most of the day and much of the night, batting back IM’s and managing 2700 open emails, worrying over what might be in the in-box if she’s slept normally and not checked-in for eight hours.

But we pretty much got everything done with our lives and our assets that we could die a tidy death now, and it’s a goal of mine in some ways, to disappear for a year.

Since I left Starbucks, I’ve been in touch with a few people and thought about many of them lots, but haven’t reached out to them. As a friend and former boss of mine said last night, there really aren’t any jack-asses there because the jack-asses don’t last. Really without exception, I liked everyone I worked with, so leaving had a feeling of finality that was both sad and liberating.

I wrote it out and told my friend I believe there are lessons and insights in my story others could relate to and find meaningful, but I’m unsure if I can pick it up now or need to let it sit for a while. Unfortunately, there is a filter in my memoir-writing that sanitizes out a lot of what’s real, and that’s death in any kind of writing — and not the good kind of death, that’s fun to read about.

I think we need to write and sing about what pisses us off or makes us happy and do it with gusto. I have to figure out how to do that with my manuscript, and it seems the first 50,000 words aren’t the hardest, but what needs to follow for it to be finished.

There’s an elderly man I met months ago on my walk to the lake and he pointed in the direction I’d come, down a Dead End street, and asked if that was a good walk. His wife has dementia and he’s moved to a home to be closer to her, even though she doesn’t recognize him.

Neil Young had it better in his song “Old Man,” but there is something in that, to see ourselves in others; it allows me compassion.

He said he’s a thousand feet from the Assisted Living home in a different place, because he doesn’t need any assistance with that for now.

Categories: death

Tags: , , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. That’s perhaps the appeal of fiction, that you can work it all out without self-filtering. I’m stalling on starting my next fiction project, though, because I fear the fiction will seem so obviously not.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The 50,000 words came with relative ease for me. And then I read them and was overwhelmed with such a sense of frustration and ultimately paralysis. I have to learn to work beyond that point or I’m finished as a writer. Let me know if you figure that out!
    As a non-sequitur, I just started reading Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit from the Goon Squad”. I thought of you – it’s a work of fiction centered around the music industry, mostly punk rock. Her writing style reminded me of yours and your music references.


    • Yeah, I’ll let you know if I figure it out Michelle. “Finished as a writer” or “not started as a writer.” It sure did come with relative ease. But I’m getting myself slowly ramped up for the challenge, because I’m stubborn (and stupid). Those two can make for great success stories I think. Would you recommend the Egan book? If you say no, I’ll be insulted since you said it reminds you of my style. Ha! But thank you — I’ve read some books on my punk heroes and love reading about them, particularly a band called the Minutemen. If my writing could sound like any music/band, it might be them — in and out quick, with the feeling there’s a lot more.


      • I’m not far enough into the Egan book to recommend it, but I will let you know if I think it’s worth a read. Enjoyable thus far.
        I’m pretty sure my grave epitaph will be “She got an A+ for effort”. I’m ever persistent with the writing, but occasionally pissed that I have to be. It’s become a compulsion and dangerously close to feeling outside my control.


      • I think you’re going to do okay, irregardless (!)


  3. The Egan book won the Pulizter, it’s a good read, although the last section is probably what won it and it was my least favorite–I’m surprisingly old fashioned when it comes to structure. I had a memoir prof in college whose advice has always stuck with me, and was along the lines of if you need to write the word shit, write the word shit. Don’t dance around by saying feces or excrement or something else fancy when the scene calls for shit. Sounds simplistic, but it’s helped me immensely in my work (fiction and non). Write without a filter. You can always add one later. Like Instagram ;-). Keep writing.


    • Old fashioned about structure? Well now I’ll have to read it so I can see what you mean by that, I’m intrigued – thanks Dina. And for the encouragement, I take it to heart. I was very cynical about the blogging-community thing until I tried it and built one with you and a great group of others (most of whom you know, ha!) and I often tell others about the great people I’ve met, and how healthy it is for me as a writer to know others of like mind who are doing it. Thanks for the advice. I don’t even like filters with my beer, or in my hot tub. They always trap the interesting stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

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