Saturday

You never know who will end up sitting down next to you at a bar...especially at the odd and off times...like 2 p.m. on a week day. Your judgment may or may not be so great, depending on how long you've been sitting there drinking. When the guy next to you at the bar starts ranting about how he'd enjoy beating the shit out of this or that guy because this or that guy kept putting his arm around him...well...order one last shot and drink it and leave. That's my advice. You just can't know who you should say hello to. You can't quite finish your beer quickly enough when he mentions he sleeps with a shotgun next to his bed (which means he's probably got a gun on him). You can't signal the bartender quite quickly enough when the guy seems to welcome the destruction of the world markets and the world in general. You can't scratch out a tip amount and a total and a signature on the credit card voucher quite quickly enough when he boasts that he actually earns his best commissions during times of disaster. The best you can do -I guess- is pay your tab, drink up, wish the guy the best of luck and walk out.

Friday

I returned from my trip to Virginia and found out my neighbor had been evicted. He is the friendliest and most generous person I've met in Florida. He and I went out and got rip-snorting drunk one night, no lie. We were trashed. His ex-wife had taken the kids that night for the first time in forever, so he was really wanting to whoop it up. So we did.

Anyway, his wife really did him wrong and continues to do him wrong. She cheated on him and left him -- with two little kids. She barely ever takes them when it's her turn. She sends him hateful text messages. She tried (apparently successfully) to sabotage a thing he was trying to develop with a new love interest. She cornered his love interest in a bar and told her all this hateful horrible crap. I would say that the ex-wife is a total freakin loser, but she's a fireman (fire(wo)man), so I guess she pumps some good kharma into the economy.

So his luck wasn't bad enough, so now's he's evicted. He moved into these crummy apartments because he couldn't hold down his house due to the mortgage/real estate bust. He was in construction. The work dried up. His mortgage payment probably adjusted north in a big bad way, so income definitely fell away from the outlay.

How many people are there out there like this? The economy is pinching hard. When will it turn around? A year? Two? I think it'll come back piece by piece. Education, then jobs, then housing, then global. What do I know? Ask an economist. Ask a futurist.
My sister's house was hit by some stray bullets a few nights ago. A gun fight broke out at about 1:00 am. A guy was hiding between my sister's place and the place next door, and somebody was shooting at him, and he was shooting back. There were just lots and lots of shots apparently. Two of the bullets pierced windows in my sister's place - which - would surely have killed or seriously wounded anybody, had they been standing there.

I wasn't there at the time. I was in town for the week, but I wasn't at her place when it happened. This was in Portsmouth, Virginia - where I'm from.

My sister's side yard and driveway has become a cut-through point for foot traffic from the alley. Due to the destruction of the fence behind my sister's place and the construction of another fence blocking the old cut-through point, the traffic now flows right under my sister's windows.

The landlord was out there the morning after the gun fight looking at the various bullet holes in his units and puzzling over fence configurations. My sister was angry. I asked her why she doesn't move out of there, because I wasn't really thinking - I was angry too. My dumb question made my sister even angrier, and she asked, Move where?!

She's on disability and her husband is too. His case always seemed kind of bogus...Sleep apnea. But: What do I know? Ask a doctor. Ask an auditor. Ask a prosecutor. My sister's disability is due to her back. Legit. She is in so much pain all the time it makes me want to cry. I've written about her and her back problems before. Maybe it's uncool to write about her...maybe it's good that these stories are told. What do I know? Ask a sociologist. Ask a lawyer. Ask a caseworker. I don't write much about the other folks in my family. I don't know if they'd mind...but some of them read my blog (and all of them can kick my ass, especially Karen.) I don't think they'd mind. But they have access to the internet and they're able to tell their own stories. My sister in Portsmouth - she's broke as hell...and she doesn't have much access to the internet - - which is a goddamm shame...she is the most curious person and the hungriest reader you'll ever meet.

There's so much I could babble about regarding my sister's neighborhood. I'll spare you. But one thing I noticed over and over -for some reason it grabbed my attention- as I made my visits over the seven days I was in town: there was a naked Barbie doll tossed up on the roof of one of the row houses, near my sister's place. Another thing I notice: There are always about thirty kids (no exaggeration) - like twelve-years-old and under - sprinting around, speeding down the sidewalk or down the street on bicycles, or popping up and down on skateboards, or wrestling, or near-fighting, or fighting, dog-piling, screaming, hugging, crying, laughing, smiling, eating ice cream, sharing, taking away, throwing rocks, asking you endless questions, or playing curb ball -- which is where you try to throw an inflated ball and hit the curb across the street - hitting the curb right on the edge - so that the ball bounces right back to you. Otherwise the ball bounces into the hands of the kid across the street.