Friday, May 31, 2013

Pack Up Your Sorrows

Once I've thoroughly excoriated myself for a misfortune or humiliation, my next reaction, is “Goddammit, now I have to think about this even more so I can write about it.” The stress of running a small business has dogged me for over thirty years. We've scaled down to the extent that our excellently located building it too large for us. I've had a series of pending deals that fell apart and have been living with anxiety with regard to the property for over a year now. The latest deal looks so much like it's going to stick that my realtor kisses me and says, “I really think this one is really going to go through,” and then, laughing, says “unless there used to be a dry cleaner or gas station on the property.”


The potential buyer does some cursory research on the property. There was a gas station on the site in 1916. The deal that boded to stick has come unglued. I am faced with horrendously expensive environmental testing and possible off the charts remediation before I can market the property. Most likely I will have to convert it to a rental but this creates another huge catalog of hassles. A week ago I was fantasizing about writing checks to pay off credit card debt and the new car that even my mechanic says I desperately need. Himself and I find a tiny cabin in the mountains we were going to make an offer on. I've hired a crew to break down the film library and cleaned out my own office. We've negotiated a lease on a very nice space in the neighborhood. The promise of less financial pressure and complication made me so giddy that I could actually think about Spud's departure without breaking down.

After being atypically buoyant for a couple of weeks the gas station news wallops me into despair. Due to oral surgery I am on my second week of a liquid diet. With my go-to solace unavailable, I decide, even though it's barely eight, to take an Ambien(s?) and hit the sack. I'd totally forgotten plans to go to a concert with my friend Broderick. He arrives and I have probably never been so happy to see another human being in my life. I can't think of another person on the planet capable of distracting me from this epic disappointment. We drink at Mohawk Bend and we talk about music and film and people we know. We stand in a long line for a concert at a club on Sunset Blvd. and after an hour realize there's no way we're going to get in and it completely doesn't matter. I realize too that I am very drunk.

When my dad saw that 16mm film was on the way out, he turned the library over to me. He couldn't keep up with the new technology and didn't want to. With the sale of the building I decide it's time to do some future thinking. I put an ad on Craigslist for someone to mastermind a social media campaign and help us monetize our library beyond the realm of clip licensing. I receive nearly 200 responses. I am so overwhelmed that Spuds helps me vet them. We immediately delete inquires containing an excessive use of exclamation points, resumes that say “team player” or with links to videos that start with a closeup of a sad girl. I cull the list down and ask about 20 potentially good candidates to make a short video with footage from our website. The results are astonishing. I choose the best of the best and schedule five interviews. When the real estate deal goes south I don't have the heart to cancel. The interviewees are young and completely delightful. I would hire all of them. I am honest that the hiring has been postponed, perhaps forever. I do offer them footage and a link to their work on our website. They are gracious but I am heartbroken with disappointment.

This is short today due to hours on the phone with the State Water Board, orphan tank specialists and geologists. An attorney friend has made some referrals and I am elucidated by a number of patient professionals. I've discovered Sanborn maps which have existed since the 19th century. These are intricate hand drawn street maps made for the purpose of fire insurance. It is a 1916 map that reveals my tragic gas station. If I weren't in the midst of potential financial Armageddon this foray into geophysical and environmental sleuthing would be fascinating.

My sweet boy Rover's eyes have grown rheumy and I know his hearing and vision are poor. I have to help him into the car but can't bear how sad he'd be if I left him home. At age fourteen he is two years beyond the life expectancy of a dog his size. I take him out to walk as often as I can but when I've been stuck on the phone trying to figure out the fate of the building, he's peed on the floor a couple of times and is sheepish and embarrassed. It is harder and harder to look at him and not see the inevitable.

Spuds is off to the prom in a white dinner jacket. He is the first Murphy to attend such an event. He graduates in two weeks and then his departure is imminent. The status of my building and my financial future feels precarious. My doggie is on borrowed time. It is hard to do my usual spin thing here and conclude on a purely positive note. I did interview five wonderful young people, kids a bit older than mine. The job applicants and my own fine kids bolster my faith that the next generation will get it together. Standing on the sidewalk, more than a little tipsy, in a long line of what I believe are referred to as millennials was totally pleasant. It evoked my own twenties spent in Echo Park. It occurred to me that before the kids were born, I used to have fun. Disintegrating underground gas tanks, kids leaving the fold, decrepit dogs and all, this is the beginning of my Part Two. I might not be relieved of financial stress as I had envisioned . The completely empty nest will be an adjustment. I'll be a basket case when the dog goes. But there will always be someone to have fun with and help me step out of my worries for a little while. And thank you God for hard cider.

3 comments:

kristine keenan said...

Sorry about the situation. I left a longer e-mail on your aol account. It is "imminent", not "eminent".

FionnchĂș said...

I'm glad hard cider is on tap among the hirsute and hip denizens, tatted and teeming, at millennial Mohawk Bend. Echo Park's changed so utterly. While I long for a place to escape this increasingly tumultuous hometown (city, megapolis, sprawl) to, I realize in real estate as in used bookstores, that what you set your hopes on to snap up can teach you the lesson of transience, fate, and surprise that follows us no matter how best we lay our plans. So, we will wait, you will eat again, and ghosted gas stations aside, we will endure. Who knows what we'll find? xxx me

Layne said...

Thank you Mrs. Keenan. Errata corrected. Another one Himself missed but I have other things to thank him for.