Sunday, February 28, 2016

One Of My Longest Posts

  • 3,000+ Word Post, This
  • $28.28 Friday
  • Clock Management Woes
  • Saturday Night Off (yikes)

Time has been a pain in the ass lately.

Oh, Lord, look at the time!!

It seems that every clock that I look at reveals it to be later than I had been hoping it would be.

It has been especially problematic when I only have a certain amount of it before catching the trolley which is scheduled to arrive at Starbucks long enough before it closes to make lugging along this laptop worthwhile.

The other night, it was almost 8 PM, and I stood there pondering whether or not to take it along, knowing that I would arrive with less than an hour to sip coffee and go online.

The more I pondered, the less worthwhile it began to seem, until I had thought about it long enough to make the determination that I should just leave the thing at home.

Getting a large cup of strong coffee, spiked with a shot of espresso, to bring with me to the Lilly Pad was the priority -more important than whatever I might  accomplish  in a half hour online -probably a scant blog post which would be prefaced with: "I only have 20 minutes to post, but..."

I usually figure that, if I could get at least an hour at Starbucks, then it would make up for being burdened with an extra 7 pounds the rest of the night, beginning with a 10 block trek to the Lilly Pad.

Then, I would have to be extra concerned about a punk running off with it, along with the backpack that it is in -enough so that I would tie one of its straps to the gate behind me.

And then, I would have its weight hindering me along the 3 block walk to Rouses Market.

This brings up another instance of time being a nuisance.

It seems that, I can start a song shortly after midnight, knowing that I have almost an hour to get to the store, and then after what seems like 15 minutes of playing; recheck the time to see that it is suddenly 6 minutes before 1 AM. and that I must jog there. The weight of the laptop then becomes a factor.

Once at the store, I must be careful about packing my groceries in the bag so  that they will put the minimal amount of pressure on the thing, as I have discovered that a gallon of water pressing upon a harmonica in its harness which is, in turn, pressing upon the laptop can put a crack in its screen. Jogging to catch the trolley increases that risk.

$28.28 In 2 Hours And 15 Minutes

So, as it turned out Friday the 26th, I stepped outside the apartment, after having packed all my stuff up and donned the appropriate clothing for the 44 degrees that was forecast, and saw a trolley pass, which would have definitely gotten me to that coffee in time. The next one along would come with no such assurance.

As I had been preparing to leave, I actually had been glancing at the clock every couple of minutes or so, just to make sure that it was not playing tricks on me; half expecting to catch the hands lurching forward; whereupon I would exclaim: "Aha! I knew something was up!!"

As I stood there waiting for a trolley which would turn out to have 11 minutes to make it to the corner of St. Charles and Canal Streets and a large cup of strong coffee spiked with espresso, all I could think about was how I had started my preparations to leave with a little more than an hour to spare, and here I was with only a 50% chance of arriving on time.

Barrister Draws The Line

I was hoping that Starbucks would have been busy enough -with several people having come in just before 9 PM, who would still be standing in a line that I could sneak into the rear of.

What I had working in my favor, I thought, was the fact that the Starbucks barristers have come to know me as a guy who only gets a cup of black coffee, sometimes with a shot of espresso, made by a machine which is easy to clean; just rinses out, and they would be less prone to tell me: "Sorry, we're closed."

As it was, I was planning to come in through the back door which is left open, ostensibly to allow people to leave, as the front door would probably already be locked with a "Sorry, we're closed" sign hanging.

It was Harold, that damned cat, I thought.

When I first stepped outside, he was meowing at the door, and I had brought him inside and put some food out for him. That is what had made me miss the first trolley which would have made it on time.

I got off the trolley one block before Starbucks, with 3 minutes to get there, thinking that I could cover that block on foot faster than the trolley could; which had to load about a half dozen people there whom, I felt pretty sure, would each not have the exact change and would each have to call out to any one of the passengers that might have 4 quarters for a dollar and then have to deal with one of the street types whose hustle is to sit at certain stops asking people who are getting off if they are done riding for the day and, if so, if they can have their all day passes, so they can turn around and sell them (the correct term for them is "trolley skeezers," by the way) who would say: "I got 2 quarters for a dollar," giving the tourist pause to think about that for a few more agonizing seconds.

Then each would, in turn, ask the driver if this was the trolley going to Harrah's Casino; or ask if it was the one going down St. Charles Street, and after learning that it wasn't, would stand there jotting down the directions to the one that does, from the driver, who would repeat them, as per that special courtesy that is extended to anyone who looks and acts -through asking that question- like a wealthy tourist.

By then the light ahead would be red, and the trolley would sit there an additional one of the 3 minutes that I had at my disposal, waiting for it to change.

De-Clawing The Trash Bins

I got to Starbucks at exactly 9 PM, went in through the back door, and was informed that they were closed, and had already "closed out the register." And dumped out the last of the coffee, I guess, or given it to one of the Starbucks skeezers, yes we have them -they know that Starbucks is one of those "caring" establishments (that only buys their beans from suppliers that pay their bean pickers a decent wage, for example) whose policy might just be that if there arrives a homeless person at the end of the evening who really needs a "pick me up," and there is left over coffee and left over scones and/or bear claws, then give them away, rather than toss them in the trash. This provides the side benefit of keeping the trash cans from being dumped out onto the sidewalk to be "de-clawed" each night.

That particular location has a few regulars whom one can smell as soon as one walks in towards the end of a given evening.


Still wanting that coffee and having only a dollar and 38 cents on me, I headed towards the Starbucks at Harrah's Casino, mentally preparing myself for a possible encounter with the young black security "officer," at the entrance who, it seems, has carte blanche in turning away (with a smirk on his face, and the words: "Not tonight," repeatedly uttered, at the request for any explanation) anyone whom he can get away with deeming homeless with the presence of a backpack seeming to suffice in that regard.

As I walked the 5 blocks to the casino, I took inventory of myself, noting that I was wearing my nice shiny black shoes and my newest black jeans.

I took my nice black jacket out of my backpack and put it on, so as to make the pack even smaller, and appearing less like I was carrying "my whole world" on my back -no sleeping bag here- and then took my Starbucks gift card out of my wallet, so that it would be visible in my hand and might imply an affiliation with people who are not homeless, and the plastic card carrying world that they exist in.

I didn't have to worry, as the young smart ass was not on duty.

Instead it was the young black lady, who almost seems to welcome the appearance of me, as I look old enough, I guess, to save her the trouble of having to check my ID; a task which I'm sure is the bane of her working life, as it stands in the way of her receiving a paycheck for "just standing there," or, more accurately, "just leaning on the podium" taking as much weight as possible off of her feet.

Pedaling Wares

I had my strong coffee, sipping most of it down while talking with one of the pedicab drivers out front, who was complaining that it was a slow night.

His name was Gothier (Go-tee-ay) and he spoke rather broken English, with a French accent.

He told me that the drivers paid $120 to take out the pedal powered cabs for 24 hours, and that, on a night such as this, they could make "barely anything," but that, on a good night, they could "quadruple that."

So, I could drive a pedicab with the potential of making almost 500 bucks a night, rather than busking for $212 on my one best night, about 2 years ago, which was probably one of the "quadruple it" ones for him, I thought.

I also couldn't help thinking that, with my "chatting the passengers up" skills, that potential might be even higher than Gothier's, him being saddled with broken English.

I Save 75 Dollars

I went in for a refill, and then set out for the Lilly Pad, which was about 15 blocks from there (or a 75 dollar pedicab ride) noticing that it was just shy of 11 PM, when I passed the "Jesus shadow" clock.

Time has been a pain in the ass, I again thought.

I had been kicking myself over my recent string of 10:30 PM starts, and here I was on a Friday night (albeit a "slow" one, according to Gothier) at 11 PM.

I played for about 2 hours and 15 minutes, making $28.28, according to my accounting later on that evening.

NOLA On 14 Dollars A Day

$1.08 for an energy drink, $5.29 for cigarettes, $1 for a lottery ticket, $3 for an all day bus pass to save myself 75 cents on my daily rides, a gallon of water, some instant coffee and a newspaper later, I got home with about 14 bucks to lay on my bureau, where $2.60 had been when I had left.

A Gift Harp In The Mouth

The new harmonica sounds great.

The only problem has been that, it being a deluxe model, it doesn't fit in the harness that goes around my neck and so I have had to tie it on with strings made from plastic bags.

This is an advantage, in that, it makes me appear even more like a homeless street musician trying to make do -a hinderance at Starbucks turning into an asset at the Lilly Pad; and a disadvantage in that it has changed the angle at which the harp sits and I need to crane my neck a little differently to get a clean sound.

I will also have to work on tying it on tighter, so it remains stationary, as I struggle enough as a harmonica novice without having the thing moving around on me. This can be done by making the plastic loops smaller than the circumference of the harp and then shoehorning it through them so that they are stretched (...or by just saving up and buying a 20 dollar harness that fits it...).

I still don't know the origin of the anonymously sent harmonica, the fact that it came through Amazon hints at my mother, as she used to send me books through them whenever I had been in jail; and she is a blog reader.

But, the fact that the travails that I outlined concerning harmonicas in this blog had to do with musical technicalities, such as being out of pitch with the piano player in Lafitt's Blacksmith Shop Tavern, leads me to think that it is from another musician.

The country of origin (U.S.) seems to rule out The Lidgeleys of London -and they usually give me a "heads up" to check my mailbox in the coming weeks.

It was Tim, my caseworker, whom about a month ago assessed that I seemed to be spending a lot of money on harmonicas, to which I replied that that was because I was buying the 12 dollar ones; and added that a Marine Band (the brand that it is) would last me a lot longer.

Still, it is a mystery.

It might have come from Lee Rumbley, a sometimes blog reader from Mobile, Alabama, who is a paramedic and also a musician, and one who had commented upon a video that I posted to my Facebook page of me doing part of my "Bum Suite" on guitar and harmonica. I think he plays with a band called "The Last Walz." I would check, but I'm offline.

The curse of time once again reared its head, and I wound up missing Saturday (last) night, having not gotten to sleep until a little after noon, and having set my alarm 5 hours ahead (I had fallen asleep in the bathtub for probably about and hour in the late morning and was counting that against the "at least 6 hours" of sleep that I seem to need in order to feel fully awake the next day).

I had gotten in on the last trolley, about 3 AM, then, cooked beans and liver, worked a bit on a jigsaw puzzle, recorded a rhythm guitar part to go under a harmonica melody, which I then set to repeat infinitely while I soaked in the tub, seeing if any lyrics came to me (they usually don't; I have to write the lyrics when it is silent, so that I am not constrained by the rhythm of the music and can use whatever meter fits the words, and then put them to the beat later...).

I read a little bit of "Chronicle of America," a year by year, day by day history of the United States.

I'm up to 1841, and President Harrison has just died, 31 days into his term, after becoming ill probably from giving a 2 hour inaugural speech in the cold. John Tyler will take over from there.

I woke up with the alarm, feeling dead tired, wondering if the huge pot of beans and chicken liver (that I had eaten a couple hours before going to sleep) needed to be added to my "do not eat" list -maybe just without so much liver, and feeling kind of depressed, and having had a dream in which I was chasing after a skeezer that had stolen something from me, and whom I knew I could have whipped in a fight, but whom I couldn't catch, even though he and another skeezer were just nonchalantly strolling along the sidewalk.

I tried to run but was just floating as if up to my shoulders in water.

I guess I should have been relieved, upon waking,to see that I hadn't fallen asleep and left the bath water running.

Even after setting the alarm ahead and waking up again, I still felt like one does after eating a huge Thanksgiving dinner; like sleeping.

I woke up at 11:05 PM, and thought that I could still be at the Lilly Pad by midnight and play for 2 and a half hours (my quota, recently) and make who knows how much money, and still catch the trolley back on my 24 hour pass.

Leaving Money Out There

The decision not to was based upon my stepping outside to put Harold out, and discovering that the temperature was in the low 40's.

It is forecast to warm up over the next few days, and so I used that as rationale for waiting until the next (to)day.

Missing a Saturday night, though, makes me feel ashamed of myself. That is something that had never happened when I was homeless. The apartment enables me to be more lazy; something I need to guard against.

Now, it is 9:08, Sunday morning.

A couple of improvements that come to mind: A. Buy my food at Rouses Market before going to the Lilly Pad (whenever I have the money) so that I can play past 12:40 AM. It might be reassuring to know that dinner is already in the bag next to me as I play.

B: Adjust my thinking to where I really don't consider an hour a whole lot of time to get somewhere.

C: Take a glance at the trolley schedule some time and memorize the times that the ones that pertain to my schedule leave from across the street -maybe even glance out my window to ascertain whether or not they run pretty much as scheduled. A lot of people would have already done so, but, I get a D- in "self management."

If I was wealthy, I would actually hire a personal assistant that would do things like that for me.

Me: "Where's my pick?"

P.A. (from the couch in the living room) "The gray one is on the bureau next to your cigarettes, and the orange one is in your left breast pocket; you put it there before you went into the bathroom."

Me: "O.K., Thanks."

You've just read: 3,018 words


  1. Here's a hint: Stop calling Starbucks baristas "barristers". That's what they call lawyers in Britain.

    Another hint: Stop mentioning that you're a college grad, in English no less. Your spelling, grammar, and writing style are so horrible, it's like you got your degree from Sears. Instead, say you're a high school drop out, and then people will just smile at your misspellings, malapropisms, etc., and think about how well you're doing.

  2. Oh, and I should mention, it's only $30 to rent a pedi-cab for the night here in San Jose because we're all poor as shit here.

    There are no jobs, so you have to have some kind of street hustle to survive - selling flowers, hustling handicrafts you make, doing street music, etc. We have tons and tons and tons of homeless people and they all seem to have a "tech" background.

    I was promised that my pay might eventually go up to $30k a year but I can see now it's going to be $10k until I die. Don't ever come out here.


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