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My Robot Is Pregnant theme song!

tough guy poetry and manly stories of loneliness
all contents copyright Jon Rolston 2004, 2005, 2006

June 19, 2009

photo posted from my iPhone
Hard to believe but I was moving a former kindergarten teacher who quit because he started using meth even at school. He showed me the golf course where the Zodiac Killer got someone. Then the tread on my tire came flying off. Inside dually, too.
He gave me a valuim and everything was fine.

June 18, 2009

jim’s deli & smoke shop

When they say a place is unpretentious, is this what they mean?

oh god i’m drunk

At my last yard sale an elderly woman stopped to talk to me. I said, “You’re Phillipina”. I could tell. She was. “When you go to a funeral in the Philippines, they don’t ask, ‘Did she have a lot of money?’ they ask, ‘Did she have a lot of children?’ That’s how we measure wealth there. In America it’s all about money.” That was her wisdom.

Here’s how I made money this week.

I hired a bunch of friends and a bunch of Mexicans to help me get a job done. ( I asked the day laborers, “Are you Mexican? You aren’t Guatemalan?” I wanted to know. They said Mexican. You will never see a Black person or an Asian person or a white person or a Pacific Islander or an Arab standing on Cesar Chavez hailing passing trucks. They are known collectively as Mexicans, although they may be from a more southerly region.)

I met with a guy who wanted his back yard leveled so he could put in a deck that was even with his back sliding glass doors. Not a big dream. I could help. I called some friends.

I told him $1800 to remove the dirt. And I’d take apart the deck. But we had to take down the fence and go through the neighbors back yard then down a flight of steps to get the dirt out.

How do I know how much that will cost? I don’t. Luckily I had Ian the Englishman giving me advice. He told me to say 1800. I could do the work, I knew that. I’d been the duke of digging ditches for four years in Woodside, 25 miles south of the city. But down there you could put a Bobcat (skid steer)in anyone’s backyard. Here it was all hand digging. I took the neighbors garbage bins with me and we used those to tote out over 8 cubic yards of clean fill. That’s about 10 pick up truck loads. 300 trips down the steps. I forgot to mention first we removed a brick patio. And a small deck. My friends, some Mexicans, and me.

How do you know what to pay someone who works for you?

Day laborers go for 10 bucks minimum. 12 is more humane. Unskilled labor, like digging. That’s what the word on the street is. You don’t know how well they work, you pay them 10 bucks an hour. Minimum wage is 9.79 in San Francisco.

The first day I hired a lot of my friends. One works at a movie theater. He also attends Berkeley. Another is a bartender. One more I met on photo shoots, he moves furniture. The first day was fine. The guy from the theater needed direction on how to back a nail out of a board. I remembered I had to learn that to. Straighten the nail. Short sharp blows in the direction the nail entered. Otherwise the nail bends. Then what? You need to know a few tricks. Which he knew none.

“I started hiring immigrants. It was the only way to make any money.”

The phrase rang in my ears as I looked up. Jeff had spent almost 20 minutes trying to get the nails out of one 2X4. I couldn’t be mad at him because only ten years earlier I had no idea about efficiency. I was on a rich landed estate installing a paddock gate for a billionaire. There was time to learn. Rus didn’t act that way.

“Go water the garden,” he’d yell at me. “Jeezus Christ, what the fuck you think you’re doing?” he’d ask me. He’s grabbed ahammer or a drill or a shovel out of my hands more times than I can count.

Jeff said, “Mario grabbed the shovel and pushed me aside and tore into it like a machine.”

Mario was hired help from the street. Mexicans like to show you they work harder than you. (assuming you are white) Jeff may have realized it, I don’t know, but when he swung a pick axe, everyone knew it was the first time. I wanted him to set it down and do some bookkeeping for me. But if that’s how Rus had treated me, I wouldn’t be out here today, confident and manly. God I’m a man when I’m on a job. My job. I told someone, “Sure, I can get all this dirt, brick, rock, cement and decking out of here through the neighbors back yard and down their steps for 1800 bucks”, without even knowing what the fuck I was talking about. Well, I did know. But I wasn’t sure. Which is the scary part. I knew their might be a live gas line out there. Or solid rock two inches below the surface. Or that tree may have crazy roots growing along the water line that leaks even though it leads into your kitchen. YOu look at the surface and say, “I’ve dug so many holes, I can guess.” Then you go hire people that have never dug and they don’t know how to operate a shovel. So you go down to Cesar Chavez street and hire someone who doesn’t even speak the same language as you.

I don’t want to work with people who don’t speak my language. It makes it hard. Do you remember the Biblical story of the Tower of Babylon? God got scared that people 6,000 years ago were going to build a tower that could reach heaven. (WTF God, are you stupid? Sun dried brick, no matter how you stack it, won’t get there.) Then God made everyone speak different languages, SO NO MORE CONSTRUCTION COULD TAKE PLACE. God hated construction workers.

Rolling a giant block of concrete downhill is hard if everyone pushes a different direction. I’m the lazy boss because I walk away and watch. They can’t listen to me and I have no clue what they’re swearing about. They want to show you they are smart and hard workers so they do their own thing. Talking to each other. I have to walk away. If only I could find a group of guys like me who were 19 and fresh to California. Who spoke English. Everyone is going to college to be a designer. learning how to operate a shovel sounds retarded to a white person. But here I am. The duke of digging ditches.

I’dhire Jeff any day of the week over these mexican guys. I can talk to him. He is funny. He tells jokes one right after the other in a language I speak as well. After work, we go to a bar and have a drink. I’m not much of a conversationalist because I’m thinking about what I need to load on the truck for tomorrow, but god damn right I like him more than Jose, Alberto and Louise combined.

I went to Turkey right after high school for a “5th year” of study. It made me realize how unique every culture was, and how much I loved being able to talk. It was the most important sense. The ability to bullshit. Maybe I’m blind, but I can bullshit. Maybe I’m deaf, so I’m out of this conversation. Fuck it, who ever you are, you want to bullshit with the guy next to you. If he’s too scared to crack a joke you hate him. If he doesn’t speak your language, you don’t hate him, you just see him as an instrument to get work done. That’s not how I want to live. I want to bullshit with everyone. Work is just a reason to get together and bullshit.

June 16, 2009

another type of poopies

It may make better business sense to hire Spanish speakers. A bunch of guys doing a bunch of mindless digging for 8 hours are gonna try to entertain themselves and that means talking about boobs and farts. Which would be fine if the homeowner and the elderly neighbors who are sitting around heard it all happen in Spanish. The homeowner and the neighbors don’t speak Spanish. They’d assume we were talking about shovels and holes. They do speak English and a word like “pussy” is able to penetrate walls and get through a tv commercial turned up loud enough for a guy with a dead hearing aid battery to hear.

This backyard we are hauling dirt out of is not far from my friend Ian’s rental place, and he keeps tools in the basement. I have a key. I went to look for some drop cloths to lay on the steps so we didn’t damage anything when I was suddenly gripped by the urge poop. Mind you I’ve been sick this week and I’ve been drinking loads of orange juice. That with the pizza for lunch gave me diarrhea. But I was in the laundry room of Ian’s apartment building and no bathroom around. So I grabbed a shopping bag with someone’s clothes in it and dumped them on the sorting table and hunched over the open bag on the floor and let it rip. I HAD TO GO.

“What do I wipe with…nevermind…gotta go again.”

I grabbed the bag but my diarrhea, like most people’s, was wet. So wet it was already leaking through the bag. I’d left the door to the basement laundry room open, it stunk like shit, my pants were down, I needed the plastic bag on the shelf over there. I went in that. Then I put the leaky bag in the plastic bag. Then I cut strips out of someone’s pillow case and wiped my butt. It was a laundry room remember, so I soaked the strips and got myself very tidy and clean. It was all very hilarious to me once it was over, and I rushed back to the fellah’s to share my story. Only, I wish I had said it in Spanish. Not everyone needed to hear that.

On the ride home Jeff asked, “What’d you do with the bag?”

It was like a ghost story, because I pointed behind my head into the back of the truck and said, “It’s right there!”

It was, it was right there. I had tucked it level with my head on some random garbage because I didn’t want it to tear open. It was right behind the glass behind my head!

Jeff screamed. Covered his mouth with his hand like he was barfing then with a plaintive voice asked, “Why do you still have it?”

“I couldn’t leave it at Ian’s!”

“Yes you could have! You should have stuck it in his oven and left it on 300!”

“I think I can smell it in here!”

Jeff gagged a little bit. Poop stories rule.

June 14, 2009

visionquest denied

I gouged out some crud from under the corner of my big toe with the round end of my nose hair scissors. So many little things to keep up with. My desk is always cluttered, but that clutter doesn’t have the rank stench of what comes out from my toes. Is this a visionquest? So bored laying in bed for two days now, it’s all I can do to not fix a tall Tequila and OJ over ice and crawl under the blankets, only to prolong the illness.
Here’s what I’ve thought about as far as why I’m living the life I am.
I like working more than I like creating things and I’m embarrassed about that because I want to be creative more than I want to be a worker. But if I have the choice of staying home and writing or going to clean out a garage, I’d rather do the clean out. It is more immediate and exciting to me.
I’ll be 36 shortly and I’ve become someone I didn’t want to be: a wage slave.
Is a visionquest supposed to bum you out? No, it’s supposed to give you a path to a new life.
Fear of being poor keeps me from sitting around the kitchen table drawing comics, so unless the visionquest comes fully funded, I don’t see myself having the courage to take the path suggested. This whole weekend has led me to recognize the dark vortex of a reality I’m afraid to escape. Wage slave.
How to be free? I want to sing it like a bird. Like an opera. Like the beginning of the Star Spangled Banner. “Ohhh How Can I Be FreeEeee?”
I should know by now there is no freedom. Like the crud under my toes, life is always gonna stick crap in my way I have to deal with. Money can’t buy me anything but a more appropriate digging tool for the job, but whatevs, the nose hair scissors work fine.
I’ll be a junk man with a junk shop and piles of stuff and always wonder why I didn’t work harder at writing a novel or getting a tv show. Then I’ll remember – I was more interested in collecting stuff.
It’s like I have two sicknesses. The one is the hording compulsion. The other is the egomania that wants to be in the public eye. My visionquest has revealed to me that hording is a stronger compulsion. If I want to be more creative I have to get rid of everything. I have 12 bicycles in the shed. I have six old doors in the back of the pick up. I have 800 pounds of steel in the form of a chair lift to bring disabled people up a flight of stairs in the back of the new truck. I have two couches, three fish tanks, a locker, a slip’n slide, throw rugs, and boxes of clothes and books in the back of the third truck. The garage doesn’t have a path to the back, but there is a route of things I climb on top of that I know can support my weight when I need to get there. I have more doors behind the bushes alongside the house. Under the back steps are old windows. Sometimes I feel insane.

June 13, 2009

the neighbor

photo posted from my iPhone
Here’s Kal. Sandblasting parts off an old motorcycle on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The 20 gallon air tank on his compressor woke me up, but it was two thirty so I couldn’t complain. I’ve been ignoring a cold but today I addressed it. This was my visionquest, to lay in bed as long as I could and not think about anything. Perhaps tomorrow the wisdom will come. I’ll keep you posted.

check out our package

photo posted from my iPhone

That’s what the Comcast ad says. This sign is right on Castro and 18th, heart of the gay district. Has anyone seen this ad anywhere else? I wouldn’t expect it anywhere in Woodside. Learn the local dialect, gain their trust and suddenly everyone in the neighborhood has cable.

June 12, 2009

photo posted from my iPhone
It’s a banjo crossed over an m16 caramel almond ice cream cake for Dougs birthday!

This woman came over and checked out the bee’s awhile back, she developed a new look for Burt’s Bee’s as a class assignment. Check out her blog!

(I still haven’t figured out how to upload images from my desktop, only from my iPhone, so I can’t grab an image from her site. But Cristina told me the colors of my kitchen inspired her palette. Take that Matt Conway, you said it was gross.)

June 11, 2009

I stopped bloggin for two days as an extended moment of silence for two journalists held captive in North Korea. see more here

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the boredom of being in San Francisco. Being sentenced to 12 years hard labor in North Korea doesn’t sound exciting, but being a pawn in a nuclear struggle does. I hope the two are released soon and can come home and binge on oreo cookies and Jack in the Box. Which is exactly what I did when I got back from Italy ten years ago.

It’s inspiring to see someone take off and dig into a story. I need a break from hauling garbage and painting apartment walls. Any ideas?

June 8, 2009

good exercise

photo posted from my iPhone

even on drug addicts

photo posted from my iPhone

halfhealed madmen

met a locksmith. went to switch out locks for an old woman who’d been punched and robbed. That was sad, but not every old woman has him over because she’s been robbed. He held onto one old lady who had to hold onto him just to walk across the room. He switched out some locks and finishes up, asking, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

from here I’ll let him speak for himself…

“She looked me up and down real slow and creepy and said, ‘Yes, but I don’t think you’re man enough to do it.’ I dropped my head and said ‘O.K.’ and walked out of there as fast as I could.”

This guy was funny, like a combination of Ian Loch and Ken Hawkins and all the funny kids from NH who loved to tell a story where they realized they weren’t man enough to do it.

He must be from New England. I never asked, I just knew. We beat each other up back there, call it conditioning for the winter. Just yesterday I took notes on the inside of a ripped up cigarette pack as we made jokes about having sex with a pregnant woman.

Here’s some backstory. We cleaned out a garage and found a bunch of porn on VHS. “Knocked Up and Horny” was the name of a loose cassette stuffed behind an old wooden dresser. Cleaning out garages teaches you about the world.

“Is that a threesome, if you do a pregnant woman?”

“Yeah, but one third of it’s pedophilia.”

“Could you get arrested for that?”

“What if it was a breach baby and you got it pregnant?”

“That couldn’t happen.”

So we had a reality check. We were mocking motherhood and innocence. We needed to. It was a very New England moment. Something that derives from rebellion. An urge from reading “Live Free Or Die” on snow-tired Subaru license plates back east.

It’s fun to regress once in awhile. I spend a lot of time learning about other cultures and how to say, “where’s the bathroom?” in Cantonese. Learning acceptance and tolerance. To rip into my own flesh and the flesh of those who look like me is like medicine.

June 7, 2009

half truck half man alligator

photo posted from my iPhone
An extended cab trailer. First I’ve ever seen.

June 6, 2009

photo posted from my iPhone

been workin with collin lately, and his sewer line broke which flooded the basement where his landlord had a bunch of stuff so collin got us the job, hauling wastewater soaked mattress’ to the dump. Today was so weird because last night we played a show at a cafe that had power issues. the amplifiers turned on but not enough juice reached them to power them. so we did the show with out electricity, which is hard for an electric bassist, but we did it. then i slept in my truck on a coffee table and woke up at collin’s, ready for our yard sale which the cops quickly busted up since we didn’t have a permit and we’d set up on the sidewalk and started drinking bloody marias.

the point was, the landlord threw out a foldable boat. So after the yard sale we folded the boat up, went to the boat launch, unfolded the boat and went floating around the bay. in a boat that floats. covered in sewerage from the leak. back at collins. but it was an aluminum boat that folds up.

i’ve been busy, my relationship is all messed up with my lady, lyle says everyone is going to the cool new blog instead of mine, but today was perfect. perfect. i woke up with stiff hips from sleeping cold and cramped but got up and walked down the hill to hang the yard sale sign and by then my hips felt great and i kept realizing my life is good. like things were so good, once wasn’t enough. i realized again life was fun and i had good people around me.

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