Friday, February 3, 2012
(part 267) FROM GUNS TO WEED WHACKERS
From 1987 to 1991 I devoted my attention to the store and the firearms business. I did well at it, and thought my life had finally begun to make some sense. I worked and I made headway. I could pay my bills and look ahead with some conviction that I would prosper. I had all but forgotten about music and the music business as I pushed ever deeper into the realm of buy and sell living.
I became well known at gun shows in multiple states, and traveled by motor home throughout the west. I pulled a trailer with a Harley Davidson on it. I had a pocket full of credit cards and cash, and felt free to pick up and go anywhere at anytime, day or night. This period ended abruptly in Reno, Nevada, where I was surrounded at gun point by numerous Federal agents from the ATF and Marshall's Service in a sting operation alleging illegal firearms sales.
For the next few years I studied Federal Criminal Law and Constitutional Law at the courthouse law-library in San Luis Obispo. Day and night, for a few years, I read law books to aid in my quest to be done with the entire mess, which I ultimately succeeded in doing.
Once again I was broke, and without any irons in the fire. I had lost everything and possessed nothing but a used car. I moved into a mobile home park in San Luis Obispo where my mother had purchased an old home that needed a lot of attention. It was depressing as hell, but was at least a roof over my head.
Without a job, or any other prospects, I had to come to grips with the situation as it existed, as opposed to what I thought should exist. I had to make some money to live, but no one was offering the likes of me a single thing. I began doing yard work at my mother's place, and a neighbor asked if I'd do some for her. I agreed, and for $6 an hour I began to do chores for people in the park. This was to become my job for the next twelve years of my life.
In 1997, while digging up a neighbor's old bermuda lawn, I noticed something happening to my body. At first I believed it was nothing more than a reaction to hard work in a 100 degree heat wave, but later found it to be something far more debilitating.
After a year of repeated visits to doctors and emergency rooms, I began to get daily headaches that literally progressed to the point of complete despair. Finding no help, and faced with the prospect of becoming a total invalid, I regrouped internally, and made up my mind that dying while working was better than a slow helpless decay into darkness. With that as a premise, I went back to work and fought my way forward for the next ten years.
I worked, and worked hard, as if to say, "This may kill me, but at least I will die standing up!" As a side issue to this activity, the headaches got worse and worse, and at times caused me to become highly volatile and aggressive in my responses to those around me. There was no way to gauge how the work would effect me on any given day, or how much the effect would alter my coping skills.
Part of the problem was who I had to deal with, or whom I worked for. Many of the people were rude and cheap, always wanting more, and to pay as little as possible for it. I did a good job, and wanted fair pay for it, so at times this became a source of complete frustration. To be talked down to, while working hard, was off limits, a point I made vividly clear to anyone and everyone.
I saw myself differently than the way I was perceived by those I worked for. I knew who I was, but they didn't. To them I was no more than a nobody doing odd jobs for them, and they treated me as no more than that. It was hard to take, at times, to say the least, and I lost more than one job as a result of trying to defend my integrity, which many thought I did not possess.
As the years tumbled by, I only occasionally thought about who I had once been, and what I had spent much of my life doing. I had no instruments to play, or equipment of any kind. I possessed only an old cassette tape of some of my songs and recordings. I only told a couple of people what I used to do, but other than that it was an unknown fact by most who knew me.
As I worked, I would sometimes break into song as a way to entertain myself and pass the time. People would react oddly to my doing this, because it would come out of nowhere, and it struck them as strange. Undaunted, if I just felt like singing, I would carry on as if it were no big deal, and enjoy the confused look on their faces.