Steinbeckian Farce

Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday

The Monk is not back, But I, Mac, am. No longer committed to celibacy (no matter how much a reality it is), poverty or austerity there are still some small things needed to change my lot in life, little things like: a job, money, a decent apartment, a bed, a dresser, my art and computer equipment from cities far and wide across this vast land, a car and a woman. That’s all…nothing big.

These things take patience and time. They take intentionality, planning, execution and a certain bull-headedness in the face of adversity and some heavy headwinds.

When I shut down sansadobe months ago I expected things to change more rapidly. Instead I have had to hunker down much deeper, spread out to more contacts and be more resilient than I could have imagined across the board. It have had to go deeper in my health-related issues, become more disciplined in my computer use, re-learned time-management and find ways to bounce back from serious setbacks (like two netbooks being stolen). I will buy a third netbook in a few weeks and watch it like a hawk, but there are no guarantees so long as you are homeless in the fullest sense of the word (having a bed and a locker does not count as “not homeless”. When I have my dishes in my cupboards I will consider myself not homeless).

Now the amazing thing continues to be the variety of people you meet when homeless. Some pf the most brilliant and creative people I have met in a long time, and some of the stupidest and wildly insane individuals on the other. It is not a place for whiners, the self-pitying or the despairing. They are best left to sleep under a bridge, up “on the hill” and to use their few County given resources to drink away consciousness. I understand…I really do.

But that’s not for me. In fact, in a certain way the harder things have become the more shrewd and steely I have become after brief moments of grief. To be sure, finally having the proper meds, not drinking and getting exercise really help a lot. Also letting GO helps a lot. I have probably never lived so stress free.

So why do I have Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday up above? Well after my second Netbook was stolen I was really adrift a bit. Suddenly I had too much time and no way of providing myself with diversion. I was caught in Pascal’s bind. I don’t have a useable library card (charges I cannot pay from 2008) so I was left to pick from the scant books at Mill Street.

Shit. Utter horseshit.

Until Tina arrived with some books. A definite “hippy chick”, Tina is , well like a select few here, extremely smart and educated. She immediately sensed my duress and provided me with the Steinbeck book, a wonderfully entertaining tale set in Cannery Row (Monterey, California) which I know well as my parents and my sister both live there. In fact, there is actually a street in Monterey named after my step-grandfather, Carl Daniels.

The cool thing is the story is about a ragtag bunch of interconnected folk all kind of down on their luck. No one has any real money. Most of the main characters live in the “Palace Flophouse”.  The only real difference between that community and this one is the near unearthly beauty of that whole bay, the fact that everyone drinks all the time (no one drinks here for long), and the sort of natural interplay between all social castes. We get some of that here, and racism does not exist at all at this level (which says a lot). The real difference is that the principle players still have some social power and sway in their world despite their poverty.

As I sit here tonight in Marin, I am in the richest County per capita in the United States. That cannot help but cause some real divisions. But not among most of our caste. Only those who are so used to stealing as addicts (mostly “tweakers”) to support their habits cannot be trusted.

I talked this a.m. with Steve, a man with a genius IQ and a man who knows literature at least as well as I do. We agreed that Steinbeck is much better than Hemingway. He is as sparse a writer, but with a humor and warmth that Hemingway’s self-importance could never sustain or produce.

I heartily recommend this book. Perhaps in the next few weeks I will endeavour to start chronicling some of the stories around here. Some are quite funny, others sad…not a a few bizarre.


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