Sept. 4th, Tuesday. Look for work day. I was a real responsible person and got up at 7:00 a.m. to call up some employment agencies. Bright and early, you know. Well, as a guy staying at Harry’s told me, the agencies don’t open up ‘til 8:30 or 9:00. Doesn’t make much sense to me. It does explain why we could never get any temporaries until afternoon back at my old job.
So at 8:30 I went to one by Harry’s neighborhood and they told me they didn’t need anyone in the category that I fell into: light industrial, they call it. which I guess is about right. Blue collar type work in a white collar business. So I had to go to one downtown. There I filled out lots of forms, took some tests that sounded easy, (weren’t) and now I have a number to call twice a day to see if they have any work for me. Fun. I feel like I’m accomplishing nothing now.
After all that I walked around the Haight-Ashbury area. I’d heard of it, but didn’t know much about it. Only that it was big in the 60s and they put out some underground comix from there. I looked through some comic and book stores, and saw a purple building called the Jimi Hendrix Electric Church. I didn’t check that one out.
Then I remembered to call the artist that Don Black had told me to see. I arranged to meet him tomorrow morning at 9:00 at some coffee shop. He said he would look forward to meeting me.
That evening I ate supper and watched most of a Star Trek episode at Harry’s place. Sorta felt like life back home, except for the new people that show up at his place. New to me anyway. Another pretty girl, who has known Harry for a while. And a guy from Austria.
Anyhow, still trying to accomplish something, I went around the corner to wash clothes. Good thinkin. Now this one was my kind of laundromat. You could talk to the people! And they’d talk back! (The ones who could speak English, that is.)
I talked to a man (around 40-ish) who was from New York. Called SF a small city. I asked him my question I’d started asking a few people. “Why do you live in SF if it’s so difficult to do so?” He said he like it here. Good people. He hasn’t been back to NY since he’s moved out here 5 years ago. We talked about traveling, drinking, the service, and mostly lifestyles. We felt the same about the unnecessary expensive lives that most people live. “I just scrape up enough money for the rent and utilities. Then if there’s any left that’s fine. If not, that’s fine, too,” he said. His advice on drinking was, “Don’t drink just because your down or depressed. Just tell yourself now that you won’t and you won’t.”
Then after my clothes were done I noticed a pretty girl who’d just started her clothes, and was standing out by her car. It was a nice night and I was in no hurry so I started talking to her. Asked her why she lived here. She said she was from Michigan or Missouri, somewhere in the Midwest, out in the country. Told me about the lesson she’d learned and the concessions she’d made, moving to the big city of SF She was a real talker, which I like. I wanna hear all that folks have to say.
“I come from a huge family. And from the country. I’m a trusting person,” she said. “I’m nice and responsible. But I learned that not all people in this city are that way. In any big city, I imagine.” She’d lost money and things to people she’d tried to live with. And she’d given up a lot to live here. She’s been living in affordable places sharing the rent, had most of her stuff in storage, her dog in a kennel. But now she’s tired of that. She’s going to get a bigger, more expensive place with a yard and all the stuff that she’d had back home. She’s moving up. If she can find a place. And someone to share it with. She’s planning on splitting the $1,000 a month rent. Now she’s paying $700 a month. And she wants to get rid of the Ford wagon economy car she’d bought new back home. She always has to explain why she has it. She’s gonna get a sorta beat up convertible foreign car.
When her clothes were done, and we were out by her car again, I told her it was interesting talking with her. She said she like to talk. Then she said (sorta out of the blue), “Well, I don’t live with anyone--I mean I live with my brother. If you need someone to talk to or something. He’s in the book. You can get ahold of me there.” She gave me her brother's name. I asked her name (Debbie) and told her I might call her sometime.
The next day, Wed., I went to see the artist, James, at the coffee shop. Easy to find, impossible to park. I think in a big city like this that you’re better off without a car, and if you do have one, you don’t move it. You’ll lose your parking spot. (They say that a lot of SF is good for walking to places. I’ve walked quite a ways already, to the store, to Harry’s from where I parked).
Anyhow, I found James “hangin out in the coffee shop” like he said he did every morning. Introduced myself. I felt uncomfortable around him. Sorta the way I feel around Harry. I can’t put my finger on exactly what causes this; something to do with their own confidence or something. James listened to how I met Don Black and my questions about Art. (My mind sorta went blank when I finally had the chance to ask someone.) He showed me some slides of his paintings that were currently in a show somewhere. Real colorful, Picasso sort of things, abstract and figurative. He said he always knew that he had to paint to live, never just a hobby. It’s taken him 15-20 years to get to having a gallery selling his stuff. Said you can’t work full time and be creative. The suburbs also kill creativity. When I asked him how to pay the bills when you’re not working, he said don’t have any bills (real helpful). Also said that you can’t starve in America. One of the reasons he said when I asked, “Why SF?” was the light. The combination of the sunlight reflecting off the bay, the fog, the buildings, etc. make for beautiful light. Not to mention having a great view from nearly anywhere, due to the hills. And he’s right about these two points. They were all reading the papers so I told him I had to go and might talk to him again.