Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Missed It By That Much

Nothing is ever easy in my world - I know that all too well. So I've learned to just roll with things, and never let things get to me that much. But I'm getting tired of the roller coaster. Here's a recap of my latest ride.

I thought that in the week leading up to my most recent trip to Nevada, Dirty Joe would have a pair of one-night gigs that would give me enough money for that trip. But then they both fell through. Desperately in need of money, I called up my father.

I need to digress here for a minute. My relationship with my father has never been all that great. He left my mother when I was ten or eleven years old (it's not really so bad that I don't remember when), scarcely paid the child-support payments the divorce demanded (walking away from it on my eighteenth birthday still owing my mother over US$30,000), then often used my sister and I to get back at our mother for whatever slights he felt had occurred - never mind that he was the one who'd done wrong in the first place. My mother still hates him. In fact, when Joy and I got married, it was the first time they'd been in the same room at the same time since the divorce. Trust me on this, the pictures they were in, the tension was so thick, a chainsaw couldn't cut it.

Well, he recently retired from a career as a bus driver - a career he took after getting fired from the job his father had gotten for him (for trying to undermine his boss) - and he took it upon himself to offer me whatever help I needed. Sometimes, it was surprising me in Reno or Las Vegas and tossing a little money my way, or offering to buy a canopy for my truck (which I declined - why buy a $850 canopy for a $200 truck?), always without asking if I actually needed it. Sometimes it was just asking for a little help on the boat he'd bought, which I'd always agreed to with vigor. But this last time, which I'll admit was a last-minute crash-job brought about by the cancelled gigs, his mood was very different. He decided to give me an addict-intervention speech!


Yes, your dear author is apparently some sort of addict - addicted to what, pray tell? Driving all night? Shitty food? No sex? Yes, driving back and forth to gigs eats up all my money, I know that full well. But I didn't necessarily move back to Washington for myself, folks. I did it for Joy - her health, her well-being. I knew that I'd have to deal with the consequences of the move as it pertained to my career, but still this wasn't quite what I expected. He told me that he felt that I 'hadn't quite hit rock-bottom yet', which almost got him punched out. Do you really want to know what 'rock-bottom' is for me? It'll be the day of Joy's funeral, that's what it'll be for me. I was deeply offended, but eventually given the money I needed. I guess Mom's still right - my dad is still an ass. The recovering alcoholic (still recovering, too - what about the beer you had with lunch with me and Cousin Eddy in Carson City? Hmmmm?) basically calling the de facto straightedge guy the addict? He can keep his fucking money, and his fucking boat, and his stupid, useless fucking AA meetings (swapping one addiction for another, IMHO), and stick them up his ass sideways. I need a father, not a father-confessor tut-tutting me from on high about my questionable career choices. I'm sure he wants what's best for me, but telling me that I can turn my life around and the whole 'I-know-you're-smart-enough-to-do-whatever-you-want' speech doesn't have the effect it used to. To the teenage me, it was 'tough love'. To the 42 year-old me, it's condescension.

Sorry about the sidetrack, back on topic. The thing is, there's just as many ups as there are downs with this roller coaster that I'm on. Now that I had the gas money, I ran Joy to Tacoma, so she could go with her mother to her family's campout on the Bumping River, about 20 miles east of Chinook Pass. More on that later. As I was driving down to Tacoma, and Joy was napping, I got a call from a friend of mine that shall remain anonymous. This friend had heard through Mike and Arthur about my situation, and called me out of the blue with an offer: since I had a few days to kill between dropping Joy off in Tacoma and my gig in Minden, and I was having such a rough time of it, this person was willing to put me up in a hotel in Carson City for the days in between, just so I could decompress - no strings attached, no questions asked. Well, Mom always told me never to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I took my friend up on the offer, and quietly decompressed for two nights at an undisclosed location in Carson City. The only people who knew where I was were people I trusted. And boy howdy, did I need that time to myself. Things were only going to get weirder from there.

After decompressing, I played my three nights at the CVI without serious incident, and from there headed back to Carson City to spend a few days with my amigo Jeremy Orris, his wife Alison, and their adorable little boy Logan. But now there were a few new guests there as well: Jeremy's sister Dream, and her two boys Aiden and Joshua. This meant that I was couch-surfing in the living room, but I was able to look on the bright side: long nights alone with Jeremy and Alison's giant-ass HDTV and equally giant-ass DVD collection. I cooked and cleaned for them when allowed to, helped take care of Logan here and there, and got to know Dream and her boys. She'd just moved to Nevada from St. Louis with her fiancee and their boys (UPDATE: that's ex-fiancee now - apparently people don't like it when you gamble their food money away when not buying meth and crack with it, get fired from two jobs in a month, and threaten to kill the people who took you in - all of this happening shortly after I left for the gig at the Fandango), and was looking for just about any kind of job. I was able to throw a little help her way - hope something comes of it. Otherwise, I just did my best to be invisible.

And then, another phone call. Mike calls me one day, tells me that I can check in at the Carson Station. I'd learned by now to just take what people give me, so I grabbed my duffel bag and said my goodbyes to the Orris clan. I had no problem with staying at the Station - hell, there I could plug in my Xbox360 to their wall-socket modems and actually get the thing online for once. Not to mention that I new damn near everyone there, and that they were all glad to see me, eager to hear what was new with Joy and I.

As it turns out, I was also kinda eager to find out. Y'see, while I was chilling with Jeremy and Alison, I'd been getting messages from some of Joy's family members as they were returning from that family campout. And they weren't exactly positive-sounding, either: one message suggested that Joy wanted to go home as soon as I got back from Nevada, rather than stay in Tacoma for a week at her mother's then go to Yakima for a memorial service for a recently-passed uncle of Joy's. Then a message came from a niece saying that I wouldn't be going to that service - not that I had a problem with that. Then Joy sent me a text-message telling me that we needed to talk about something, but only after her mother had gone to bed later that night.

It turns out that the campout had been spectacularly bad for Joy. Upon hearing the news that her kidneys were failing, the response from her family - especially from three of her four brothers - was a collective snort of derision. Things got so ugly, Joy actually got into a fight with those same brothers, then attempted to walk home from the campground in a blind rage. Given Joy's illnesses, and how they affect her mobility, it's amazing what blind rage can do - she made it the better part of a mile before realizing she didn't even have her cane with her, let alone her clothes, her wallet, etc.. And to add insult to injury, when Joy started getting sick after the campout, coughing up a lung every ten minutes or so, her mother refused - refused! - to take her to an urgent-care clinic or an ER in Tacoma, trying to tell Joy that she wasn't sick, quit pretending to be sick! At one point, I tried calling in just about every favor I had with anyone I knew to go get her from Tacoma and take her back to Port Angeles. I guess that in the end, I'm glad I missed the campout - I probably would've gone on a murder-spree had I been there to witness what my wife endured from those idiots.

And in the midst of all this, I still had a gig to play. This was our first trip to Casino Fandango in the south end of Carson City, so we had to be at our best. And we pretty much were. Our friends from Reno, Carson and Minden all came out to support us, and we didn't let them down. I have to give big kudos to Merrell, our soundman at the Fandango who also happens to be the casino's Entertainment Director. He did a great job with our sound and set-up. And did I mention that he brought us food? Two trays of sandwich-fixings, meats, cheeses, veggies and bread? Craft-service! What a nice touch!

God, this is weird. I've spent all but about two paragraphs talking about personal drama - and I'm not done yet! After getting Joy home Sunday evening (and avoiding any sort of confrontation with her mother whatsoever - I still want to kill the old bat, though), we were finally able to get her some medical attention for that nagging cough. It turns out that she has pneumonia. I have such a wonderful mother-in-law. A wonderful, caring old biddy who apparently thinks that her daughter is faking being sick to get attention. Yeah, the doctor telling her she has pneumonia, that's totally fake - just a ploy to get attention. And that chest X-ray she took yesterday, that's not a new spot on her lung, that just Joy attacking the X-ray with a Sharpie, right? I bet she'd even tell Joy to quit faking it and get out of that coffin.....

Yes, the Rage is strong with this one. And it ain't going away any time soon. Either that, or I've got to quit blogging at 5am.....

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