Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Summer is Depressing
by fred owens

I got an email from Eric in Baltimore:

Thanks for the good news about summer in the Skagit Valley and going out in boats and summer evenings and all that cool stuff. But I always get depressed when summer comes. For me, it's the end of hope. I'm still stuck in this job, which I hate, and I don't want to hear from people that I should be grateful to even have a job. This job I have is crummy and I'm stuck here.

And Lisa looks like she's going to move out any day now. I know I've complained about how she talks so much, but now it's like super quiet around, or I come home and she's finishing a phone call, but she doesn't tell me about it.

Not good. Depressing. High heat and humidity. I hate summer.

Anyway, I liked that story, “Love Letters from the Sixties.” It was fresh like you said. But this was way before my time, and I wish it had more context, like a background or something -- I'm just telling you how to write your stories.

So Eric writes from
Baltimore saying that spring is about hope and new beginnings, but summer is the harsh reality. I feel the same way -- you know --because it never happens like I hope it would.

Another June and all the same old dreck, with or without mosquitoes.

Then, I have to say, these love stories I have been writing are very difficult. They probably don't look like a lot of work, but they are. Also, I get too sentimental -- I'm susceptible to that, like crying at the movies.

I could always write something about politics. Let’s see -- Obama is in
Cairo, and everybody under 35 is gay -- that about covers it.

I am sitting at a strong oak table at the Anacortes Library. I drank two Americano doubles, one after another, but I am still very sleepy. I don't know why.

4 p.m. Let's review the day. I woke up at 5 a.m. because the sun is so bright and my window faces east. I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, but I only tossed and turned until 6:15 p.m. when I got up.

I made coffee. I put on my shorts and went for a run. The running was good today, going down
Fir Island Road and I made it as far as the mail box around the curve from our house -- not very far, but pretty good for this ex-smoker.

Then I showered and dressed and drank a little coffee and left for the Rexville Store to have more coffee with my pals.

David Hedlin was there. He's a farmer. He orders toast every morning, and he likes it with peanut butter and jelly like a whole meal. Toast only cost $1.50 so that's a pretty good deal.

But today when Dave said "Toast," I jumped right in. "Me too."

I looked over at Dave, "Did he hear me?"

Dave assured me that my order had registered with Stuart who makes the toast -- Stuart Welch is the owner of the Rexville Store and our morning host.

8 a.m. I drove to Mount Vernon to get my new tires. They cost $267 for all four, with a 40,000 mile warranty. No sense getting a longer lasting tire, because my old Toyota has 240,000 miles on it.

But it feels good to have good rubber so this made me happy.

I got the tires, and then I drove back to my crew leader's house, which happens to be across the street from the Rexville Store.

I mean my crew leader for the U.S. Census job, where I have been working for the past 6 weeks, going house to house with a hand-held computer, getting everybody's address mapped correctly.

That was a great job -- $17.50 an hour, plus 55 cents per mile on the car.

I love the federal government. I adore the government -- this is the most money I have made in years. I could weep for gratitude.

But leaving that all aside, I went over to the crew leader's house and turned in my badge and hand-held computer -- because the job was finished.

I knew it was only temporary, but it still made me sad.

Then, as soon as I was done with that, I called the office of nursing administration at
Skagit Valley Hospital, to tell them to put me back on-call for my nursing aide job at the hospital.

My job as a nursing aide is very hard, stressful, and it doesn't pay well. But it's the job I have, so that's that -- just don't tell me I should be luck to have it, okay?

Anyway, the hospital was glad to hear from me, glad to know I was once again available to work on the evening shift, and said they had plenty of work for me.

That's a good thing about hospitals -- they don't run out of work.

Now, it's
noon. And it's very hot -- at least for the Skagit Valley.

I decided to do a small gardening job. There's a traffic island next to the Rexville Store -- just a small bit of earth, and you could hardly expect the state or the county to come and tend it. So that's my little volunteer job. I dug up some of the weeds and cultivated the soil. It was really hot and sweaty, but I worked slowly.

I won't plant this little plot until tomorrow morning when it's nice and cool -- everybody knows that it's not wise to transplant delicate flowers in the heat of the day.

After I finished that small garden job, I drove back to the farm, took a shower, and had a twenty minute nap.

Than I drove to LaConner to stop at the Next Chapter bookstore. I saw Lisa, the owner, and she asked me did I have the new poster for our Winter Writers Group. I said yes -- I went back out to my car and got it. Then Lisa put it in a good spot.

The Winter Writers Group meets all summer long, in case you wanted to know. We meet at
10 a.m. every Saturday at the Next Chapter in LaConner.

Before I left the bookstore, I got my first double Americano. But when I got to Anacortes and set up my laptop on the library, I was still sleepy. So skipped out of the library, drove back over to Starbucks and got another coffee.

The caffeine is barely working today -- it must this sleepy, hot summer weather.
As you can see, I've been busy today, but nothing really that hard.

Anyway, I wanted to respond to Eric's request to put the love story in a context -- this is a very good idea. I have enjoyed thinking about my life in 1964, when I was in high school on the North Shore of Chicago.

I have the right attitude for this story--this it not about nostalgia. But this is about a place I can go to, and bring you along, because it still exists, and so does Jill Farias the girl friend who "Sam" dated. She's flopped on her bed, kicking her feet, waiting for Sam to call, because it's 1964 and girls don't call boys. ….

Just give me a little more time ….

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