Tuesday, April 04, 2006

We Move into the Former Home of a Slacker-Stoner

We moved into our new domicile on April 1, no fooling, located about four miles east of Mendocino, a small coastal town in NorCal. Although in the middle of the redwoods, the rental was our third choice. Due to “poor” credit (naturally besmirched by our homeless adventures to Mexico and back), in every competition for a rental the landlord invariably chose the party with better credit, despite bribes and proof of income.

Yes, bribes. I offered our first prospective landlord, whose income I learned was only $1500/mo., $500 extra just to choose us. She wouldn’t take it, choosing a single woman to live near her instead. Then her property would likely have seemed overpopulated what with me, Kathleen and Kenyon wandering around. I also think our energy overwhelmed this solitary artist who struck me as a chronic depressive besides. She missed out because I’m really good at raising such people out of their doldrums, which helps protect me from my own melancholy, which I’m suffering today—but I’ll get to that later.

Our next and preferred choice of all remaining rentals had a panoramic ocean view overlooking Highway 1 from the east. It was also the most expensive we considered. As if it mattered. Shot down by poor credit.

What, you voyeur, you want an actual number? Our best, Equifax: 539, “poor.” But I’m working on it.

Our third choice of rental, in which we now live, is situated in the coastal redwoods, as I noted above. Built a year ago, the walls are pristine white. The two-level modernistic dwelling has three skylights and lots of large windows to make it seem that we are living in a reverse terrarium. From inside a white vacuum we gaze out upon a wet, lush forest. Our outdoor deck is flanked by two large redwoods on each side.

Between the bare walls we sleep on two thin futons that our new landlord kindly lent us yesterday. He’s new to the business, likely why he trusted us in the first place with our poor credit, also the reason his former tenant was such an irresponsible pig, as the place was not clean when we moved in, but filthy in the way only a slacker-stoner could make it filthy.

We found no evidence of food in the cupboards but mouse turds nevertheless. Kathleen deduced the mice must have subsisted in part on pot seeds. Though the house was emptied of most objects (save the garage where many had been hastily thrown), it had the pervasive odor of Humboldt County grass, a smell Kathleen, being from NY, did not at first recognize. And although smoking had been forbidden by the lease, there were ashes everywhere, and the cupboards were littered with scraps of bud, so much that they amounted to at least half an ounce when collected. The linoleum in the kitchen had been repeatedly burned by dropping ash. The dishwasher had never been used. I found the original instructions and sample detergent within. (This may be in part explained by all the pizza boxes in the garage.)

Based on the evidence, we suspect this young man was self-employed in the growth and sale of pot, although like many dealers, he was only barely successful—because he liked his product too much. While I was gone yesterday Kathleen saw him creeping around the property, which spooked her. He had already stopped by the day before “to get some stuff.” When accosted by Kathleen he sheepishly explained he had returned for his “alfalfa seedlings,” not yet sprouted but supposedly contained in three 36-pocket plastic trays. Only a horse would need that much alfalfa, but I wasn’t there to intimidate the bastard, he had the cheek to ask Kathleen to help him carry his projects to the car. She said his eyes were strangely clear, nearly colorless, and although wispy and slight, that he gave off an air of hidden malevolence. Later she saw him creeping across the driveway up the hill to examine something. We both assume he had some gardening to attend to and hope he took care of it.

Wait—I just went downstairs to find another scraggly stoner at the door with a large, glass bowl held out like an offering. “Is Nathan here?” he asked. Now I was pissed; not only had Nathan shown up twice, but this was the second stoner who came here to buy some pot, so I assume by his proffered container, blithely parking in our driveway and disturbing our privacy. I told the young man that if I ever see Nathan again that I will kick his ass, and to spread the word that there was a new sheriff in town who didn’t sell pot.

You can’t imagine how uncool such a frontal assault is in drifty NorCal. The poor boy was in shock, so much so, I expect, that he got his diesel Mercedes stuck in the mud near the top of our driveway. I went up to help him, explaining I was pissed at Nathan and not him. Finally he managed to back his car down and escape with his belts screaming under the hood. I’ve noticed a lot of screaming belts in up here. Is it the moisture or just the quiet? Could cars actually be that noisy everywhere?

After this I went up the hill where Nathan had skulked to see what I could see. There he had hidden nothing but a Shop-Vac and two trashcans with five gallon buckets inside. I was expecting to find some dopage but I doubt that place gets enough sun. If Nathan comes back a third time, too bad; we don’t know where his vacuum or trash cans and buckets are, period (although we will be using some that very much resemble his). We learned this strategy of passive ignorance in Mexico. If the poor buy starts to whine, I’ll let him know that he is illegally on our property and thus in grave danger. (Jack: “Is there any other kind?”)

I shouldn’t be so hard on these slackers, it’s just a territorial thing—that Nathan was skulking around without identifying himself while my deaf wife was home alone. Kathleen opined that the reason Kenyon didn’t bark at him was because he seemed such a nonentity.

The 60s were never over; they just moved north.

As for my melancholy? It has to do with the cognitive dissonance of living in a sterile fish bowl while being surrounded by a lush forest. Add the fact Kathleen leaves for NY on Thursday and we have no bed as yet and our arthritis medication has not arrived from the Internet—

No, I think it’s mainly the stillness here! I’ve never lived in a place so quiet, where the refrigerator makes the most noise and you can hear a mouse fart. Strange. I did not know I was overstimulated; now I am suffering understimulation or stimulation withdrawal, not to mention withdrawal from my favorite stimulant, nicotine.

I’m sure I’ll become accustomed to this new space eventually but for now I find it kind of spooky. It’s as if I, too, were deaf, as there is nothing to hear. This must be somewhat how it is for Kathleen (without her hearing aid) all the time. Peaceful but slightly disconnected, so I suppose, and then there is always the issue of safety—you can’t hear a creeping stoner, for instance.

Kathleen loves it here, by the way. Her hearing aid normally picks up so much ambient noise that she finds the quiet delicious. “In the city all I hear is noise,” she says.

I’m still mad at Kenyon for not barking at a potential intruder. Then, to be fair, Kenyon don’t hear and see like he used to. And neither do I.

Thine in Truth and Art,

C. E. Chaffin


  1. Yea... we have problems with meth addicts in our quiet city. At least stoners seem to be less agressive.

  2. http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-fro2.htm

    "From whence we came"

  3. Anonymous2:05 AM PDT

    Once, while lazily speeding north on the I5, listening to the World Series blare from tinny speakers, a man and a nearly man were lit up by the CHP. There was a swerve--not necessarily caused by the beers in the cooler in the back seat, but caused by the thumb-to-index finger exchange of the tiniest tube of fire, smoke, and mind-blanket herb we could muster. Fearfully yet with humor, the nearly man said to the man, "Shit. Cop. Eat the joint."

    After explaining away the swerve as jubilance over an Oriole run to win the game--as if he really cared--the nearly-man was given a passing score on the finger-nose-tiptoe pop quiz that one can never study hard enough for. With an admonition to keep the beer in the cooler, the pair happily sped off to strange Bavarian lands in Huntington Beach where beer flowed endlessly from the taps, ending its October journey splashing off the porcelain onto clean tennis shoes. Barely seconds into their Octoberfest destiny, the nearly-man asks for the dope.

    "I ate it," you replied.

    Up until that day, I thought it was only an expression, but you set me straight (so to speak). How we didn't get arrested then or at 2:00 am shouting outside your buddy's apartment in HB, I'll never know. Drunks and idiots, I guess.

  4. Dear Anonymous,

    It's true I grew up in HB and also true that on occasion I may have had to eat a dry appetizer, though I don't recall this specific incident. I do remember the German restaurant in HB and attending Oktoberfest there, but I really wish you'd write me privately and let me in on the joke, or recollection. I'm a manic-depressive grandpa on a hell of a lot of medications right now, and your laser-like memory may help restore part of my lost life.

    Hope to hear from you,

    Craig Erick ("Crazy Craig" at Marina HS)



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