Visiting My Old Neighborhood

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I found myself out to my sister’s house this week doing some additions and remodeling on a 127 year old house. Nothing big, but big for my 69 year old dad and me. First on that list was replacing the original 67 foot wide covered porch which recently had a tree crash through it, destroying 80% of it. They all did demo last week, then we built it this week. It will be roofed next week when the entire house gets a shiny new metal roof. This house is proof that you can polish a turd to shine like gold.

Anyway, while out at her house I decided to drop in on an old friend from high school. He still lives in his mother’s house in our old neighborhood we grew up in. We had the first two houses built in this development in 1973, we watched the whole neighborhood being built. I haven’t been to his house since going to his mother’s funeral in 2000. As I will explain, much has changed in the old neighborhood in the last 15 years. I also wanted to see the house I grew up in which was three houses down. My parents moved out in 2000 as well, so I really had little reason to go back. As I found out, going after dark was a rather large mistake on my part, the neighborhood has been through some very disturbing changes. Let’s just start with my old family house, which is nothing more than a foundation, debris, and trash. Seems it burnt to the ground about three weeks ago after the meth lab blew up that was in the garage. I called my parents, who are still in disbelief, who drove out today during daylight hours to look at it. When I finally made it to my friends house it was like visiting one of the wards in downtown Houston. There were iron bars on all the windows, the garage doors, and all the doors had heavy duty iron security gates in place. I’m guessing at this time the old neighborhood is not super safe any longer.

I had it explained to me that the last several years there have been really negative changes. The older people were moving out and there houses were turned into rent houses. I’m not saying that created the problem but it did accelerate the problem. Out of 156 homes in the neighborhood, only 4 of them are owned or have a mortgage, my friend owning the one he lives in. I won’t get all stereotypical on y’all since you’re already doing it in your minds for me. And I’m not being racist, there seems to be equal shares of everyone, in fact the clowns that burnt our house to the ground were white, well white trash. It’s a shame to see a neighborhood go this direction in any regards, but we all know it does happen everywhere, even out in little hick towns in southeast Texas. Blaming someone or something is pointless since it is pure economics. Unfortunately in big cities and little towns the low rent houses tend bring in a culture of people that others tend to move away from, that’s if they can, many can’t and they are just consumed by the negative changes happening around them. I’m no sociologist, but I know that the money in your pocket usually determines your living conditions. I am going to end my opinion right there.

I recall hearing on the news a few weeks ago about a meth house burning down in my old little town but missed where it was exactly and dismissed altogether since news in the Houston area every day is full of the same shit, shootings, arson, safe houses, trafficking, car chases, robberies, and so forth. But damn, meth heads blew up our old house. Needless to say, I didn’t visit with my friend very long because I didn’t want to be there to late. I did ask about his heightened security and he told me after two break ins where they stole things easily pawned that he had two choices, stay and fight or move away, he says there are no plans to move.

In the end, its very disappointing to see these now 40 year old houses laying waste in decay, abandoned, burnt out, and boarded up. I’m not trying to be dramatic about it, I know things change, but that shouldn’t mean it all has to go straight to hell. Or does it? Again, yes I know, it comes down to money and economics, plus the right conditions be set in motion, and so forth. If I may be a little nostalgic, I remember the days before the internet and xboxs, riding my bike everywhere with my friends, and seeing the street lights coming on meant get your ass home. As kids we lived outside, we liked the outside, we cherished our time outside, and I can’t recall never being struck with the dilemma of having nothing to do. It was a simpler time back then, a time we never get to go back to, and now all I have are the fond memories of growing up in a great house in a great neighborhood, all of this, of course, before the meth heads blew it all to fuck and back. Okay, I’m done sharing, get back to your lives.

Thank You Karma, I’ve Been Patient

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So, I was working at the club last night, bored to the point I was actually on the verge of falling asleep standing up. Then, a ringtone begins to play on my phone, one I have not heard in many years, “The Bitch Is Back”, when I look at the screen to make sure it is who I think it is, I see ” The Cunt” is calling. Before I get into this wonderful conversation, let me remind y’all that in just over 15 years, I have spoken with my ex on the phone 4 times, and in person twice. Needless to say, we are on less than talking terms, much less being cordial terms with one another. But she called, which had to be hard for her personally, and now I am wasting my time “writing” about her cuntness while sitting here in my shop with better things to do, like scraping the duck shit off of my 50 year old iron bench so I can refinish it later. Oh Yea, the phone call.

When I first saw who it was I did smile a bit, but only because I was hoping she was calling me to say “I’m sorry” and “you are right”. It makes me smile because in 12 years of marriage and all the years since, I have never heard those words. Oh well, I better see what she wants so I don’t have to listen to a lengthy voicemail. It started off polite enough, almost like she was reading a prewritten script or something. I know I am the last person on Earth she wanted to be calling. Like normal, she talked and I listened, this is just the way it works, she wants something I have, and I just listen. This time it was different, this time there were a couple of ” pleases” there and a bit of gratitude in her voice. I had to pull my phone back twice to make sure who was calling me. Very strange indeed. So, what does she want? Well, that’s complicated. So you understand better, I need to take y’all back to when we were getting divorced because it would appear she made a few boo boos filing her taxes and now she has an appointment to discuss the discrepancies.

Anyway, part of the terms of our divorce were for her to receive proceeds from the sale, rental, or lease from the house we once called home. It always struck a nerve with me because this house was only in my name. But whatever, community property is what it is. The market to sell was very soft, so, with the aid of a realitor, which I paid for 100%, we put it on the market to rent. Now, I remind y’all, by this time I was out if the Air Force, living in Houston, and this house is in Alamogordo New Mexico. Within a month of our divorce a military couple were signing a rental agreement. Since I was still paying for the house, each month there was about $500 remaining, which I was oblidged to split with my now ex-wife. I made sure I wrote a paper check each month for ease of keeping the records straight. After around 3 years of the same couple renting the house, I received an offer to purchase it, cash. Seems the housing market was on the rise there. I purchased the house for $57,000.00, put another $10k into it, and at the point when they made the offer, I still owed the bank roughly $18k. What was their offer for this 2900 sq ft, 4 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath house? $98,699.00 plus closing costs with immediate move in. Without thinking, I agreed to the sale. But the cunt would not see half because I protested the decree and proved she never spent a penny on the house, the judge awarded her $20,021.09 payable over the next 16 months.

OK, so here is the problem, never did she report any of the proceeds from the rent or the final sale as income or a source of revenue when she filed her taxes. Oops. So, as it stands, she is claiming ignorance, and she has been given 30 days to prove she shouldn’t owe over $56k in taxes, penalties, and fines. She has been trying, unsuccessfully obviously, to do this on her own, leaving only a few more days before the 5th of August rolls around. Like I told her, I am not giving up any information without written proof she needs my information. When I asked what I get in return for graciously taking time out of my life to copy all the shit she needs, she offered to take me out for steak. I told her, in that case, when she shows up at my front gate to pick up her package, because I refused to do everything for her, for her to leave enough time for dinner. After a long, very dramatic pause, with a sigh, she agreed to meet with me on Saturday.

So, why am I helping the cunt? Its easy, I don’t want her mess getting on me, because trust me, she would find a way to suck me down that rabbit hole. Meanwhile, in exchange for the documents she has requested, my lawyer has drawn up documents that she must sign which release me from any obligations, financially or otherwise, and it includes a detailed inventory of all the documents so if push comes to shove, I can show I provided up, above, and beyond everything I could. No sign, no copies. Luckily for me, I keep the records of my past life neatly tucked away in a small three drawer filing cabinet. Lucky for her I packratted all of this away or she would be fucked and she probably doesn’t like prison orange anyway.

You want funny? As she reads along with you here today she is realizing that I truly don’t give a fuck about her situation and that this life lesson is one that will soon be forgotten by her because that is just the way she is. Yes, she reads my blog, only because my daughter sees to it on occasion for some reason. In the end, my dearest cunt, I can only thank you because you gave me something to do with my time and gave me something special to write about today. See you Saturday. Remember not to be sad in your time of need because, like always I am prepared, something you never took the time to learn.

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Another Life, Another Time

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I generally get a handful of texts and e-mails every week from people I worked with at Club X. Usually just to let me known whats been happening and what will be happening. I suppose it is done to “keep me in the loop” even though I have been out of that loop for quite some time now. I generally do not reply to 99% because there usually isn’t anything for me to say. Now, I have two people, one stripper and one waitress, that I do keep up with and talk to regularly because we all became decent friends over the years I worked there. What makes them special you might ask? I will make a long story short, because it actually took me a few months to figure out what was going on. In the beginning I thought there was just the waitress who also was a stripper on her off nights. She would talk to me like normal regardless of what shoes she was wearing that night. Then, out of the blue, after a couple of months, she was on the dance floor stripping and at the same exact time she was waitressing. I thought I had lost my damn mind at first and then they both came over to the bar I was working and sat down, the both smiled while they just sat there looking at me. Yes, now I know, they are twin sisters. There had always been the two of them and few, if anybody, knew about it. Most people in the club thought the same thing I did. Anyway, a friendship grew and developed and now they keep in contact with me quite a bit.

This morning I get an e-mail from them asking me if I miss being a bartender there. They also known I was laid off and wanted to known why I just don’t come back. Do I miss being a bartender there? Not really. I do miss the money but I have said this all before now. I’m sure I could go back to bartending and it would be a decent paycheck, but I walked away when I did for some very specific reasons, first and foremost it was because I was done working nights and second is the hours I worked. It was a freaking part time job yet I worked 50-60 hours a week while having a day job doing 40 hours a week. You do the math, I was tired, more like exhausted, no walked around like a freaking zombie most days. So, I gave up bartending at the strip club, with that I have up about $100k a year, so yes, it has been missed. However, after doing that for 5 years, I socked away a nice start to a retirement, which, so far, we haven’t had to dip into, as of yet. I think it would take something very drastic to get me to go back permanently. Not that time is not now. I liked it after I quite, I see my family now and we have relationships now, something we could not have when I was working nights. I won’t bore y’all with the issues that job caused with my wife. I will say that it wasn’t for the reasons y’all might be thinking, it was simpler, it was because I was never home to spend time with her, ever, and it had a tremendous impact on our marriage. I will leave it there.

I do miss the people, I do miss bartending, and yes, I even miss being surrounded by hundreds of totally nude woman every day. The scenery was always nice. But, back in the real world is where I belong. Perhaps if I was single it would be different. One never knows. As always, the sisters like to include pictures of themselves at work, and to date the one shown here today has been the only one I have been able to share. I wonder, daily, where my life is going, and with often reminders of the past I see that wherever it is that I am supposed to be going is probably I’m the direction I am already headed. I am happier now that I have been in so many years. That’s what we should be, right, happy in our life? Personally, I think that is the answer.

The People And Trees Around Us

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The people and trees around us seem to share some things in common. Both are around us yet we know very little about the actual life they have lived. We observe them both grow and age. Trees and people carry on with their life whether we are their to share it or if we have missed out. I know that sounds pretty deep but it is also a really simple truth when one sits down for the comparison. Well then, what’s my point? We will get to that or maybe you might even see what it is by the time I am done here. But let’s start with the tree that has fallen a few months ago out at the far edge of what I mow as part of my yard. Call me lazy but I just haven’t reaaly felt like dealing with this fallen tree because of the work I knew I would be having to do with it. However, as spring is now in full effect where I live in southeast Texas, I know I only have a few more weeks before it is very hot and swampy outside. It won’t be too much longer and we will be flirting with triple digits. Due to the heat I try to accomplish major things outside in our very short cool weather months. So, as I mowed my grass with my brand spanking new John Deere riding mower (the replacement), I drove by this tree which reminded me that there was work to be done. Or,leave it and let the other trees and vines consume it. But I don’t want this to look unkept, a personal choice, so I made the plans to handle it yesterday, Monday, since I have found it is better to plan things into my empty days instead of just throwing caution to the wind. After mowing I made sure my chainsaw was sharpened, my tractor was fueled up, and the burn pile had been knocked down, all in preparation for Monday’s task. I also went ahead and loaded the tractor onto the trailer already connected to my truck so there wouldn’t need to be so much back and forth walking on my part. Sadly, I know this dress all too well with all the old and majestic trees on the property.

Just before first light, just before the first glimpse that day is breaking, before the buttcrack of dawn, I was at the tree unloading my tractor from the trailer. I rearranged the small generator in the back of my truck so it was back on the runner mat, if not it vibrates allover the damn place. I plugged in my 80’s boom box and pushed play. Great news, we will be listening to Ozzy this morning. I cranked it up to max volume so I can hear it over the chainsaw. I am sure Mr. Crowley sounds pretty eerie creeping through the dense trees this early in the morning. Hot damn, chainsaw lit off on the first crank, time to let the wood chips fly! After about about an hour of cutting I begin to feel the warmth of the sun on the backs of my legs so I known I need to get moving so I can get it done. My son, riding the golf cart, came down to tell me he was off to catch the bus. He was a little upset he wasn’t helping me but was very understanding I think. Off he went, back to the house to get his bag so he could go catch his bus. Thankfully he brought down my big plastic mug that I left on the kitchen island, I was dreading having to break momentum to go back to the house. After a few hours I had a garbage pile and the wood I will keep for my outdoor fire pit. Oak is a great wood for these fire pits. I put a little effort into cutting the wood into very manageable pieces. I will split it in a few weeks to let it dry out more. First I need to fix my frankensplitter because it has a nasty hydraulic leak somewhere. Being done cutting, I hooked the chains to the bucket of the tractor so I can drag the bigger branches to the burn pile. Afterwards I loaded all the cut wood I was keeping onto the trailer. Tired now, and its only just shy of noon, I decide to leave everything where it is to go get a bite to eat up at the house. The hard work is done now so there isn’t actually much to do except clean up. I won’t lie, after making myself a toasted smoked turkey sandwich I did end up taking a short nap out on the deck while enjoy the slight breeze. But, nonetheless, I needed to finish. Before heading back down I loaded the crock pot up with chicken and spread the cheesy sauce on it and turned it on, dinner at 6 or so is my guess. Easy peasy done. I walked back down to my truck, loaded up, and the parked it back up alongside my shop. I will unload later, maybe even the next day (being today and it isn’t done yet).

While I waited for everyone to start trickling in from their day I took an ride down to get the mail. Bill, bill, advertising, sale, and something strange with no return address. I hopped back in the cart and headed back to the house. I opened the strange letter first. I skipped to the end to see who it was from, I know, bad habit. After realizing I didn’t know the person I started from the top. It started with a short explanation of how we don’t actually know each other but she knew me because of her mother and because she saw me in 2009 when I met my biological siblings for the first time in South Dakota. Technically she is my niece that I didn’t know I had until reading the letter. Her letter bears bad news, it seems that my biological grandmother has passed, someone I never met, and I am being informed that I was mentioned in the reading of her will. She will not disclose to what degree nor why, but told me to be expecting a package which contained some items belonging to my biological father. Items she had wanted to give me in person but it never happened. My biological father also died before I met him. In fact he had died before I never knew of him. Then the letter was signed with “Love, Gracie”. End of letter. Sadly, I never met the mother of my biological father, but I am sure she lived a very full life.

Which is where we get back to how trees and people share a similar path in life, both go on whether we are there to witness it or not. Both come and go in and out of existence and the is little we can do about it. There are many people I have not met and may never meet on that biological side of my family. Until 7 years ago the ones that have met me never knew I existed and when I dropped in on their lives I am sure it was as shocking as an old oak tree crashing into the living room because of a bad storm. And then in a crash of thunder, all of our lives changed. We questioned most of what we knew, and we embraced the changes that were coming whether we wanted them or not. I will wait for my package, impatient of course, because that is the way I get sometimes. So, this is where it ends today, with me waiting for my mystery package.