Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rumours of my death etc. etc.

Almost two years since I posted anything here. Wow. Tch.

I always said I didn't want this blog to turn into Livejournal, and be a series of posts about how little I've posted of late and promising to post more, along with a few random excuses, but it has to be said the last eighteen months have been a bit of a bastard.

Getting kicked out of my workplace was fun. By which I don't mean fired, which would have been a cakewalk in comparison, but our bookstore being evicted from the 19th century house its inhabited since the mid 1980s so that it can be demolished and some kind of storage facility built. Another dramatic example of the drive to improve that particular stretch of historic Route 66. The knocking down of historical buildings I'm not going to bang on about too much here; I've already done my stint on TV news, and made my share of near-slanderous accusations of criminal misconduct. I'm pretty much over that by this point.

Also, looking back at the post previous to this one in 2012, I can't really say anything that wouldn't just be farcical.

Which leaves the nitty gritty of the joys of physically moving an entire bookstore over the course of several months. Books sound remarkably easy to move about - the entire point of the format is their portability. When you have approximately 300,000 of them, however, it gets a bit Herculean. Stick 25 hardcovers in a box, and you've got a 50 lb box to haul about. In the middle of the summer. Into a truck trailer with absolutely no ventilation. Do that a thousand times, and you've about half-filled the trailer. Now finish filling that one and fill three or four more. The very last week involved hiring a moving company who sent about 15 employees to finish everything off and unload at the other end; even though this is what they do for a living, they all had "why does God hate us so much" expressions before the end. I imagine half of them have quit their jobs since and just walk the earth, living on whatever nature provides.

This all being said, from the bookshop's point of view, we've moved from a down at heels, slowly sinking into the ground neighborhood where people living 100 yards away weren't even aware there'd been a store there for 30 years, to a prosperous and up and coming neighborhood where's there are heaps of little startup businesses and ridiculous amounts of foot traffic wandering past (and into) our door every day of the week. It's all very prosperous and hipster-ish around there, and it's probably the best move we'll ever make.

On a similar note, about six months ago Kit and I were awoken by a knocking on our door, which turned out to be the police. They were checking everyone had vacated the apparently condemned building we were living in prior to boarding it up, and were somewhat surprised to find out that the landlord hadn't bothered to inform anyone. 'Not informed' is probably a gross understatement for a man who was taking down any condemnation notices pinned to the door with a surprising amount of speed for someone who normally hobbles around on a walking stick.

So in the middle of moving and building out a new workplace, we had to pack and move our entire apartment inside of a week. This was in many ways easier that moving the store. Considerably less books were involved, and boxes weighed a mere 20 lb, or even less. I could almost juggle them, they were so laughably light. We also had the distinct advantage that anything we didn't particularly want to keep, we simply left behind, often in a huge pile on the floor. There was an unspoken, but strongly implied message of fuck you and your slum building in whatever we left there.

Three days into packing, we get a messenger from the landlord asking if we have our rent for this month yet. Howls of derisive laughter filled the building, and scared birds out of nearby trees.

We live in a house now. A house that's ten minutes walk away from my job. I have an actual garden, with a lawn and trees. A garden which I've not spent an awful lot of time in, given we're in Missouri and it's midsummer, but I expect the autumn to be nice. It's a tiny house by American standards, but would be somewhere around "incredibly spacious retirement bungalow" on the British scale of things. The kitchen alone is bigger than some places I've lived over the years.

The house also has incredible luxuries like hot and cold running water, by which I mean we can have either hot or cold water come out of the taps when we wish, as opposed to the water which ran down the walls of the apartment whether we wanted it to or not. Not to mention a lack of hot and cold running cockroaches. Plus novel things like bathrooms with lights in them, and mailboxes where things can be left without being public domain.

On July 4th, which is apparently some kind of holiday celebrating the British, the neighbours let many fireworks off. They waited until it got dark before starting, and were done before 11pm. No-one felt compelled to add small-arms fire to the celebration. This is a startlingly different approach to our old neighborhood, which felt like living on the Gaza Strip every holiday.

And this is basically much of why I haven't been blogging much. Life has been dramatically improving in every way possible, but only through a long and painful process of explosive deconstruction. Things haven't quite entirely settled down, but they've subsided to the point where I don't get home and just want to go to bed.

It's not the entire reason why I haven't been blogging, but more on that in the next entry.