Friday, February 16, 2018

Ben Dazed And Confused

  • I Get A Bike
  • Ben Lambie Arrives
  • 30 Dollar "Fat" Tuesday
  • Wednesday Night Off To Get Ben
  • 20 Dollar First Night After Mardi Gras

Bobby and I were an hour late to meet him at the airport, after I had promised him (Ben) on my father's grave that I would be there for him, who is nervous around crowds of strangers.

I had made Bobby repeat at least once words like: "Don't worry; we'll scoot over there and pick him up."

"You're not going to be nodded out on methodone when I come to get you an hour before his flight lands; It's gonna be 10:30 at night, you're usually going to sleep around..."

"Don't worry, and, why are you going to show up a whole  hour before his plane lands, when it takes like, less than 15 minutes to get to the airport. All we're gonna do is pull up to the right terminal's baggage claim area and pick him up; that's where everyone waits..."

So, I was feeling relatively confident that I would pass the test of whether or not I could actually manage to be in a specific place at a specific time.
I had been haunted by worries, and just felt that more than likely, I would screw it up and Ben would be freaking out, standing among a large group of strangers, looking for me, but I wouldn't be there.

So, I did.

I got busy working on a recording which was a song for Ben (it was actually the background music to one of my songs with the lyrics changed to things like: "Welcome to my place, Ben," etc.) and then I got a text message.
"I'm here," wrote Ben.

It was 9:40 PM.

Oh, shucks. The printout of Ben's flight confirmation sheet, that he had been meticulous enough to have mailed to me, so that there would be no confusion and I would have a reminder, had been based upon Eastern Standard Time. Bobby and I were already one hour late to pick up Ben at the airport, as per plans which had been solidified months ago with rearranged schedules, apartments cleaned from top to bottom, trucks filled with gas, etc.

I had felt all along that it was more than likely that I would screw it up; but had quelled my worries by telling myself that that would be the old Daniel, the one who knew Ben when I last saw him in 1993, who would most likely screw it up.

I'm all grown up now, and a Street Musician in New Orleans; I've come so far, learned so much. The old Daniel would have probably never made it there.
Bobby made the first of his wrong turns on the way to the airport that was just 15 minutes away on Tulane Avenue, about 5 blocks from the apartment. He had become uncertain about whether to take Route 10, or go another way.

One of the routes might save us maybe 5 minutes.

So, Bobby took 5 minutes to stop at a gas station, to ask directions, so that we might save those same minutes in traveling time.

"Don't worry, we'll be there in no time...do you know how far you can go in 5 minutes, if you're on the highway?!"

We got there 11 minutes after Bobby said that at the corner of Tulane and Carrollton. Not bad, it would have been a 15 minute trip, had Bobby not stopped for directions.

Ben was understanding, after I had texted him about the time zone in the fine print, and he admitted to having made the same miscalculation.

We picked him up, whereupon Bobby began to drive us home as if we were in a great hurry.

He was missing turns, cussing, doing U-turns, cussing some more, screeching tires, changing lanes...
I thought it weird that, on the way to the airport, he was so nonplussed and in no hurry, but now it was as if we only had 15 minutes to get Ben back to the apartment.

Ben had a GPS application on his phone which was giving verbose instructions like, "right up there, just before that green fence, make a right... you just went past it, dumbass!" or such, but Bobby seemed to feel like he was being bossed around by the phone and wanted no part of it; he would find his own way; he grew up in Louisiana and has hunted most of the woods around here, and did so a long time before smartphones came into existence and...

"Hey, Bobby, we're not trying to get Ben back to the apartment as fast as possible, he has a whole week before he has to fly back..."

This had the effect of making Bobby slow down and start driving more normally. ..that's right, we were supposed to hurry to get to the airport to arrive on time, and then leisurely drive him back, pointing out things of interest, etc...I guess I got the two mixed up...

We got back to the apartment, which seemed to be to Ben's liking. He said that it was good that we had a gated parking lot. "No crackheads," was his comment upon that.

He took to Harold the cat right away, who was meowing to be let in for his midnight feeding.
Harold, in turn, seemed to sense the tension in Ben, after his ordeal of flying here, or smelled the alcohol on his breath which might have reminded him of some of the skeezers at Sacred Heart who try to pet him, when they are drunk, and try to feed him things like Vienna Sausage, and kept his distance.

I had just finished lamenting that the thing about cats that I don't like is their lack of loyalty to their owners and how Harold would jump on the couch and snuggle with whomever happened to be sitting there, as if just wanting a human to pet him, and not being particular at all.

"Do you have air conditioning?," asked the guy from Massachusetts, as we were entering the hallway.

"Air conditioning, this is the middle of winter...for us."

"Yeah, I guess so," said Ben.

We entered the apartment. Ben complemented me on my red carpeting, a patch of which had been brand new and rolled up in my closet for the past couple years, and which I had "rolled out" for him.
"Do you have anything to drink?" asked Ben, who had been drinking beer all day in and out of airports.

A new red carpet, waiting to be dyed purple
I had grape juice in the refrigerator (which I hadn't drank off of by mouth).
I opened a cabinet, glad to see that there was, at least a clean cup, and feeling suddenly like I had not taken the right steps to make my apartment hospitable. I should have maybe gotten a frozen pizza, I thought.
Ben took a sip off of the grape juice and then proceeded to drop the rest of it through the cabinet against the wall that looked like it had a glass top on it to him, but which doesn't. The grape juice exploded out of the cup and splattering the wall, and especially the brand new red carpet that I had rolled out for him.
"Dude, I am so sorry, I thought there was a glass top!"
The thought fleetingly went through my mind of Ben destroying the whole place over a week's time. He had only been there for 45 seconds.

Ben has aged in the past 25 years, like all of us, but in him the passage of time seemed to manifest itself in a certain clumsiness. His motions tend to be jerky, as if trying to keep pace with his thoughts. He has "A.D.D.," he said.

The A.D.D. is something that Tim, my caseworker (seen above in pencil sketch) also has. Ben has the same habit of poking at his phone during a conversation, as if the conversation alone wasn't enough to hold his attention. He will occasionally look up from his screen to interject "Oh, really?" or "That must have sucked!" or others, depending upon the context.

I had to test him at one point, by asking: "You didn't hear what I just said, right?"
But, he had actually heard what I said.
We sat on the couch and chatted for a while. Well, I chatted, Ben chatted and poked at the screen on his phone. "No, I'm just Googling stuff, like the restaurants you just mentioned.."
So, he was actually "in" the conversation and was Googling along with what I was saying.
He was tired, and is on a different schedule than I, so he retired to the bedroom, which he quickly converted into a living space by emptying out his copious suitcases.
But, not before going into the kitchen to grab one last beer out of the fridge.
I heard a crash.
"Ah, shit!"
"Did the shelf fall down?"
"No, I...you'll have to forgive me, I'm a little clumsy.." he yelled from the kitchen.
He was up bright and early and followed my suggestion to Betsy's Pancake House, which I had recommended based upon a conversation about it that I overheard on the trolley once. Someone was praising the place as being "a local secret," or something and said that a lot of cops and people who work at the courthouse eat breakfast there religiously.
People who like a lot of grease, I guess they are, because Ben came back with a thumbs down rating on the place, complaining that every customer in there besides himself had been "obese."
I would do better with my next recommendation of The Beachcorner, for a cheeseburger which was huge for 8 dollars.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

A Bike Tomorrow

  • 33 Dollar Follow Up To 169 Dollar Night
  • 35 Dollar Night After That (Saturday)
  • Ben Lambie Three Days Away

I sit here outside the Starbucks at the casino, using their wireless, "grasping it," but not sipping coffee. They are closed, yet the rest of the casino is in full spin, to use a roulette analogy.

I left the Uxi Duxi last (Saturday) evening, a bit after 8 PM, and after it had stopped raining.

We had gotten a surprise downpour, one of those "Holy cow, look at it come down out there" moments, just a little before 8 PM.

My really nice umbrella was still leaned up against the wall at the apartment.

I thought I was going to have to wrap the laptop in a plastic bag and then just get soaked along the 2 mile walk home. The trolleys weren't running, due to the "Endymion" parade, which ran along Canal Street, and past my apartment.

The new guy at the Uxi Duxi, whose name escapes me, allowed myself, along with the girl who often wears equestrian boots and her husband to sit in the place after closing time, as he had chores to do which would keep him longer, and we are all regular customers, so he wouldn't have to worry about the characters that he was locking in the place, along with himself (who would be counting cash, for one thing).

The girl who wears the equestrian boots had gotten married right there at the Uxi Duxi, to a young guy who hardly speaks because he is self conscious about his English. He speaks French.
So does the girl with the boots, but just a little. Enough to keep a marriage going, I guess they both think.

I walked back to the apartment, past crews with rakes who were cleaning up after the parade.

I found cups, balls that flash florescent light when you bounce them, an unopened bottle of Sprite, two unopened bags of pizza flavored bite sized snacks made with "real cheese," and more balls and Frisbees, and an unopened can of Rolling Rock beer, which I took with me, and then later gave to Carlos, who lives on my floor.

I knocked on Bobby's door at about 10 PM, thinking that I would just make a short social call, perhaps to apologize for having reacted angrily after he had implied that would naturally spend the whole amount that I had made the night before on the electric guitar which is on layaway at Guitar Center.

He didn't answer the door. He knows my knock and my schedule and thus who was there with 99% certainty, but he didn't answer. I figured that he was still stewing over the night before.
I still had weed left over. After having paid full price for it, I was using it a pinch at a time, no stopping to see "Hey, Daniel, please tell me you have some weed!" David the water jug player.

I got to the Lilly Pad to discover that the bar had set up some speakers and was cranking mostly rap music out into the street for the benefit of its mostly white patronage.

I had to move down a block to across from The Quartermaster, where I was able to make 33 bucks in a couple hours, not 169.

I went back to the Lilly Pad a bit before 1:30 AM, where the mostly rap music was still blaring.

After waiting to see if it would stop at 1:30, as if on a schedule, I left a few minutes later, after it hadn't.

An ounce of kratom, a pack of American Spirits, another shot at the Uxi Duxi (so I could sit there and use their wireless) along with a pack of batteries, can of cat food and coffee had set me back 25 bucks for the whole day.

I came out about 8 bucks ahead, "at the end of the day."

And Bobby is talking about me spending 165 bucks on an electric guitar?

I still haven't gotten over that, but am working on it.

I've been trying to "observe" the thoughts that come into my mind, not identify with them (as per the advice in "The Power of Now,":book that I'm reading) and also try to objectively perceive the emotions that I have, which are reflections of the mind, according to the author.

To realize that your thoughts come from your mind, which has been conditioned by past recollections and is under the influence of fear, produced by an imagined future, which might be horrible, and then to not identify with them...my mind is thinking this but my mind isn't my true self...is the point of the book, so far, at least, I'm only in the 5th chapter or so...

You can't go back and change the past, and the future doesn't exist, the only thing we have to work with is the present.
One of the most useful things I have found in the book is the advice to focus upon the present moment which might seem very boring, when your thoughts might be fixed upon what you are anticipating doing in a little while, or emotions that are hangovers from past experiences, rather than that particular boring moment. Focus intently upon the sounds, the smells and every aspect of the present moment, and you will encounter stretches where you are at peace and your focus is no longer upon the distractions of the future and the past. This might only last for a few seconds at first.

I have been kind of surprised by the thoughts and emotions that I have observed in myself.
Thoughts like "He's probably a bum and is going to ask me for something for free," is a good example of how I have been robbing myself of my own peace of mind.
After I become aware of the thought, but don't identify with it, I am actually able to look the people in the eye and seem to be relating better to them, in general.

But, off I go to the Lilly Pad now.
I should be set up and playing by 11:15 PM.
I hope the sound system has been squelched at Lafitt's.
I have done a shot of White Borneo kratom and have some weed to smoke. But, with all of this living in the present moment, maybe stuff like that will fall by the wayside.

A Bike

And, Ester, the Israeli woman whom I see on the trolley a lot, has a bike to sell.

My days of paying 3 dollars every morning on an all day bus pass may be over, once again.

She had mentioned it to me about a week ago. I forgot all about it and missed meeting her the next day, after she had ridden the thing to work for that very purpose. But, she stashed the thing there, where she will be working tomorrow (Monday) and I guess I will buy only a one way fare on the trolley to get there, planning upon cycling home. And to think Bobby's knee jerk reaction to my having a killer night was that I needed to spend it all on the guitar (while I had the chance) and forego things like the saving of 3 bucks a day for the foreseeable future on bus passes, a toilet bowl sanitizer, cat litter...etc. I guess it's a good thing I didn't listen to him.

Tomorrow, I will go to the coffee/cigar shop where Ester works to look at it and hopefully buy it, for hopefully not much more than 20 bucks. "Hi, Ester, I made 169 dollars Friday night...so how much do you want for the bike?"

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Nigger- Rich

  • 33 Dollar Friday Follows 169 Dollar Night
  • Bobby In Building C

I got back to the apartment about 9:30 PM, last (Friday) night. I had moved to outside the Uxi Duxi after they had closed at 8 PM and worked another 45 minutes on yesterday's post.

I had a good mind to pack up and try to get the next bus into the Quarter.

I had a little bit of weed to smoke, needed batteries for my spotlight, but was otherwise equipped to go out and play decent strings and a decent harmonica, to see what kind of night would follow the 169 dollar outing of the night before. Was that a fluke, or would the Mardi Gras continue to be lucrative?

I stopped to see Bobby in building C, thinking that I would get a little more weed from him, and that I would offer to pay him his cost on it, since I had made some money.

When I had been totally broke and having 4 dollar nights, Bobby had given me a lot of weed.
When I had money, I offered to pay him his cost on it.

I can't afford Bobby's weed at its regular price of 20 dollars per gram. The alternative would be to get a 5 dollar sack of regular old house weed from the dealers in front of Banks Meat Store.

I told Bobby that I had made 169 dollars the night before.

"You did what? What did you say?" He seemed so incredulous, that it became clear to me that he must think that I do nothing but go out and have 4 dollar nights.

"I got 169 bucks last night..."

"Are you gonna get the guitar out of layaway?"

And so, there it was. My initial thought was that he was irresponsible with money.
I have always liked Bobby.
What's not to like, one might ask.
He has given me plenty of weed, along with guitar strings, art supplies, etc...
And, he is basically in the process of buying me an electric guitar and amplifier, so I can make more money "out there."
Though, he encourages me to get off the street and at least try to play inside a club somewhere where I might get a "regular" pay of 50 bucks a night, and where I would still have a tip basket in front of me where 100 dollar bills could still go.

I had to push away the initial thought that Bobby must be irresponsible when it came to finances, to even suggest that, after having the first really good night in 11 months (over a hundred bucks for the night) I throw the whole amount onto an electric guitar, that I won't be able to play right away, that I might not even enjoy playing (I haven't totally embraced the concept of electric instruments and "street music").
That is what I have heard described as being "nigger-rich" -overestimating just how rich you are and being extravagant like there is no tomorrow, and finding out that there is a tomorrow, but the money is going to have run out by then....

Then I would have an electric guitar and no amplifier...and no toilet paper and no cat food and be sitting in the dark with it.
Bobby means well. He thinks that the sooner I get out there playing a loud guitar, the sooner I will start making 4 times as much as I am now. And he is right, in a sense, but just doesn't see the whole picture.
"Oh, no, this is just back-fill," I told him, and then explained that I have fallen so far behind that a lot of the money has to be used to catch me up on everyday things like light bulbs, cleaning supplies, and to supplement the food stamp money which has almost run out already, one week into the month.
He seemed to be upset about the fact that I wasn't going to use the money from my first good night in a while on the electric guitar, almost as if I wasn't willing to pull my weight. "I'll help you get an amp for it," he said. ...and a bike and a trailer to pull the stuff behind me....
That almost turned into an argument, as the clock ticked away on a Friday night.
Finally, I wanted to get some bud and get out of there.
"20 Dollars!," said Bobby, as he handed me what he has been charging me 5 bucks for, when I have made money, and just given me otherwise.
I felt like I had made a mistake in telling Bobby about the money. It is not an indication that I have "started to make money again," and will be alright, and I told him so.
I wound up paying him full price for a bud of weed, feeling like I did after I had told the food stamp people that I made a little bit of money busking, and was rewarded with a letter a few days later telling me that 65 bucks a month will now be cut out of my benefit amount.
I told Bobby that he was making me feel like the food stamp people.
He seemed to understand this perspective.
It's like when you go to jail in some states. If you have money on you, they will confiscate it from you in order to cover "administrative fees," otherwise you stay for free.
How well the guy whose money was confiscated will sleep, knowing that he has paid his administrative fees, is hard to say.
"I need to take about 40 dollars to get a new harmonica, so it will be easier for me to busk up the money for an amp to go with the electric guitar."
I was able to calm Bobby down by telling him that "the way I spend money" was never to throw all of the money I had into anything. "I would wait until I had about 500 bucks before I spent 165 of it on anything..." It's like, if you have a wood fire burning, you can take one of the sticks out and the fire will keep burning, with the ones you have thrown onto it starting to catch, but if you just grab all of the wood and pull it out then, no fire.