DIARY of a 99%-er: The Struggle Between Survival and Creative Expression

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September 4

“Too many ‘grown-ups’ live in dark, tailored suits riding gray subways and highways through black and white realities of grim choices and limited options. Reclaiming the multi-dimensional diversity of the human experience is the task of this journey – no less than a quest for our wholeness and the renewal of our collective spirit.” – Anodea Judith

Praise the Lord, our prayers have been answered. Simon is finally working again, although it’s only $10/hour, with no benefits. But at least it’s a job. Hallelujah! He’s working for a friend, who recently opened a retail store in Laguna Beach to sell the ceramic pottery that he makes. Simon used to schlep around this artist’s ceramics to local farmer markets and art fairs. This entailed a lot of heavy lifting as he had to pack up a tent, tables and all the merchandise in his car, drive hither and yon, set up everything, work for several hours, then tear it down and pack it up again and repeat it all the following week. Luckily, now, he just gets to show up in the brick-and-mortar store.

And, oh, what a cast of characters walk into that store. It’s across from a well-established coffee shop and the characters are right out of a Jack Kerouac novel. There’s the elderly guy, who’s philosophical and contentious and apparently has nothing else to do but wander in every day and shoot the shit with Simon over existential topics, which is absolutely perfect for Simon. Then, there’s the lotion-peddler guy, who comes in smelling of alcohol and the lotions he peddles. He actually tries to sell his lotions to the customers who are walking around and browsing. Dude, no poachers allowed! Then, there’s the son of a famous jazz monologist, who comes to jam with a bunch of young musicians who have started hanging out at the store and playing music on the weekends. It’s like The Real World meets The Beat Generation meets The Band. But they do put out some serious music.

The most poignant character, though, is a young guy who works at the nearby coffee house. This guy told Simon that he typically gets suicidal around the holidays. To protect himself from himself, he walked into the shop with a Bowie knife and asked Simon to lock it up until the holidays were over at the end of the year. Simon did as he was asked, ostensibly saving this guy’s life for one more year.

So for the most part, Simon is grateful to finally be out of the house and have something to focus on, other than not having a job. We are both thrilled and relieved that he is contributing to the rent and our monthly expenses. I think he’s still given up on finding a full-time job with salary and benefits, but you never know what can happen. Maybe an art gallery owner will walk in and offer him a job.

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