Latest developments, worldly and otherwise.
There was the exodus from Zer0 as reported in SOTG #17. This gave me a partial feeling of being back to “square zero.” The weather meanwhile was well below zero, hence the frozen pipes already mentioned.
Then there is the Patreon campaign idea, reported in SOTG # 18, which was all about numbers. The aim of the Patreon campaign is to increase my income from zero to . . . something. (Eventually I will need to earn at least $2000 a month to live on.)
My article on Kubrick—a two-thousand word cull from the much longer work-in-progress—was accepted by The Quietus, a fairly well-established UK music and culture website. (No pay, but exposure.) The day before I got word I found out that Tariq Goddard—the founder of Zer0 Books, and the one who’d quit—wrote for TQ sometimes, and that TQ was the first site to report the split. This clued me that I was circling the right water hole in the desert of the literary world.
TQ asked for an overtly autobiographical passage to be excised, and while I was going over the piece again, now I knew it would appear at a mainstream site, I found that I didn’t like the piece so much. It was like I was reading it with new eyes, the eyes of an unknown, potentially hostile audience. Theory of mind. I rewrote the piece attempting to appease this imaginary audience and minimize what I felt sure would be a defensive reaction. (I’d found out recently how many people out there think that finding obscure clues in Kubrick’s films is the sign of an obsessive loser in need of a life.)
I talked to my wife about this odd experience and what it implied, and the next day I messaged Phil Snyder. He agreed that writing for a larger, potentially “unfriendly” audience might be just what I needed.
Here are a few slightly revised notes from our chat:
It is like taking the car on the highway instead of forever pootling about town; my anxiety helped me see part of the mechanism by which I have avoided success. It is good to have a support network [i.e., this blog] but not if I get dependent on it; I have to leave the nest eventually, otherwise I will just end up creating another consensus.
When small bands make the shift to big gigs they often fail horribly; the stakes get higher, and of course, when people perceive you as being more of a “big shot,” they become much harsher judges. It is going from the safety of being an amateur to being a “pro.” [Which is essential to start making a living.]
My wife brought my attention to something the night before which I had never fully considered. I was conditioned from birth to be a leader/ruler —a somebody; the psychological conditioning of being a rich kid goes much deeper than for a poor one, because it’s not just, “Hey kid you gotta earn your bread to live,” it’s: “YOU HAVE TO CARRY THE DYNASTY FORWARD!” I have been both carrying this deep feeling of entitlement—as if I am supposed to “rule”—and a deep resistance to it, to succumbing to that program.
The next day, my wife traveled across Canada to spend time with her sick mother. It was the first time I had been alone in the house, the first time it was her and not me going on a trip, and the first time I’d been alone in my own space since I’d lived briefly in Estonia, in 2012.
The temperature had been gradually creeping back to zero, meanwhile, and the pipes finally unfroze soon after my wife left. I went to look at them to see about insulating them before the next big chill. The crawl space under the house—and especially the access to it—was so small I could barely even get my head under to see. What I saw was massive ice sculptures under the kitchen area, and a soaking wet joist! There appeared to be a copious leak under the kitchen, and I could hear the hiss of a burst pipe and see water dripping off the wooden joist.
No sooner was I alone than—CRISIS!
I wasn’t even sure I could get under the house, much less fix the problem. I was reluctant to try in case I got stuck there. (I don’t own a cell phone so I would need to leave word with someone in case something happened otherwise I’d probably die under there.) I decided it might be beyond my skillset and to find a plumber and see what he said. It looked like a major job, and if I got a professional in I’d probably be looking at upward of $1000. But whatever happened, it had to be fixed pronto. I didn’t even know how long the leak had been there, but the joist would rot in no time if it continued to be soaked, and then the kitchen floor would collapse.
The house we’d built back to shape with such tender loving care, that had seemed finally so solid and secure in time for winter, was suddenly looking like a potential disaster area.
A couple of days went by, during which the plumber I called did not return my call. I got the first electric bill since the cold hit: $554 for two months! The prospected next bill was well over $700. I was starting to feel creeping despair.
Meanwhile, I put together a 3000-word piece on extra-consensual perception for Pijama Surf and edited a new video for the Patreon campaign. The launch date I was aiming for was December 7th, which was the day in 1991, 23 years ago, I left a life of wealth and comfort behind me forever, and moved to Morocco. Maybe it was time to un-renounce my worldly wealth?
This morning, I called two more plumbers and a local handyman I know called Dan. On slightly more than a whim, I checked my astrological transits. This was the main one.
So there it was. Good news on the other side of difficulties. It was time to get back to the basics.
The phone rang and it was Dan. He was free—in fact he was out of work—and he said he would come right over.
I put on my work clothes and went outside; Dan arrived in his blood red truck and I showed him the crawl space. Dan is a hundred pounds heavier than me, and a few inches shorter and he didn’t even try to get under there. After some thought, he said our best bet was to cut a hole in the kitchen floor, in the corner where the fridge was, create an opening to go through, and tackle it that way. He said we could replace the parts of the pipes that went under the kitchen so that they would then run inside the house; that way, not only would we fix the leak but also prevent further problems when the temperature dropped again.
I gave the go signal and we went to work.
The whole job took less than four hours and cost me $120, including parts (plus a $10 tip for Dan).
While we were going back and forth from the hardware store, Dan told me he’d developed a stomach parasite and lost about twenty pounds over the past couple of months. He was glad I’d called him, because it meant he’d have money for medicine. (The doctor had recommended antibiotics.) I said that if a stomach parasite was causing him to lose weight, then it sounded like a tape worm. He admitted they hadn’t ruled that out, and added that his father had had a tape worm when he, Dan, was a kid.
I got Dan’s card and told him I’d do some research. I thanked him. I could sleep easy at night now—until the next thing happened. He thanked me back and off he went.
The above is of course a meta-narrative, and as such no doubt it’s full to the brim with clues. I am too tired to even think about analyzing it, but if anyone wants to give it a shot—be my guest.
But now I must eat.