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  • Before I left for Oregon in early 1997, I got rid of everything I had for the exception of my old 1950's Gretsch drum kit, a duffel bag of clothes, work boots, a few stupid hats (all of which came with me in the car to Oregon) and all of my books, which were stored in milk crates in a corner of my parent's garage. Up in Oregon, I had added to my possessions a 1975 Lincoln Continental (gas was about a buck a gallon back then), a leather jacket, an acoustic guitar, a Dobro and a few firearms. Minus the books, everything I owned could easily fit in that Lincoln; most of it including the drum-set could fit in the trunk, and indeed when I left Oregon for the final time in late 2000, that was all I had in this world. Strangely, and quite un-American I might add, I felt good about that, and I was okay with adding the drum-set to the book pile at my parent's place and getting my life pared down to what I could carry on my person, in case I had to ditch the car. There was certain both romantic notion and practical ease with getting my stuff down to a bag of clothes, a leather jacket, one good pair of boots, a guitar, a pistol and an old car, and with today’s technology, you just need to add a lap-top and/or a smart phone, and you can have a giant music and book collection on hand without having to cart that shit around anymore as well. Gone is the necessity of lugging around a bunch of boxes of books and records and the shelving needed for them and the giant outdated tech to enjoy that media. Certainly, being a record and book buff requires a kind of permanent address and even a bit more money these days to house all of that shit. It’s like being a horse owner in the time of cars. Some archaic shit is now the past time of the more well to do and established folk comfortable to remain in one place for a long period of time. Unfortunately, I’m not so lucky to be the cool guy with the giant record collection and 1970s record player that takes up an entire wall and a personal library spread throughout a large house including an old office with a fire place and mahogany shelves full of leather bound books; however, thirteen years living in the same town has a way of stacking up a bunch of shit onto a pile as time drags on.

    Since leaving Oregon, in the past thirteen years I’ve had ten different living arrangements/addresses: the parent’s couch for two weeks, Life Arts Building (one year), Third and Lime (year plus), Bob’s couch for a couple of months, Mark’s couch for about a month, Renee’s old house for a summer, the Pat Cave in the garage of Renee’s new house for about a year, the Pat Cave 2.0 in the basement on Mission Inn near Park (three plus years), Lime Street near Fourth (one year), and the place I’ve presently been at for a little over five years, my longest stretch in one address since I was a kid living with my folks. In that time period, I’ve also worked as a substitute teacher, line cook, plumber’s apprentice, stable boy at a horse rescue, English tutor, delivery driver, Office Max stooge, and an online TA, but that’s a whole different rant. More importantly, my stuff level has also gone up and down during the whole time period with an uptick of more shit over the last three addresses.

    During my four years in Oregon, I didn’t really acquire much stuff. I knew it was all temporary. Matter of fact, it was bringing the drum-set with me that ended up limiting my ability to quickly ditch out and freely travel at will. It was an anchor that required an address, and maintaining an address required full time employment, especially in Portland. Had I left the kit with my books in my parent’s garage, my time in Oregon would have ended much quicker than it did, probably shortly after being ditched by a certain psychotic, bald harmonica player with the local fuzz closing in on him. Had all of my stuff fit in a backpack, I probably would have been on the next thing smoking out of town when I got my next paycheck from the shit job I was working at and been back in Rivercide before the close of 1997. Then again, I wouldn’t have gotten to know the bio-Dad, the great northwest and Belize like I did, so it all kind of worked out. Once back in the home town several years later, I began to get away from my "lack of stuff" philosophy, but that’s kind of necessary when you’re not traveling. You need something to sleep on at the very least. Up in Oregon, I slept in furnished motel rooms, the back of a car, in a camper with a bed, a converted school bus with a bed in it and in a hammock in a thatched roof shack in Belize. And, unless you’re one of those hard scrabble bastards that can sleep on the ground, which requires a shitload of booze for me to do, even living at the Life Arts Building required a couch, which was the first bit of stuff I began to acquire.

    Like the four vehicles I’ve had in the last 13 years, I’ve also burned through a few couches and beds. People seem to like to give away or sell for cheap their used furniture and junker cars. I’ve been more than happy to take possession and squeeze the final years out of them. But, like my part time job at Valley College (twelve years running) and the red truck, (eleven years running), some of the possessions seem to stick around while others are easily discarded (along with other part time jobs and even roommates). Now, all of these years later, I’m looking at all of the stuff I have to move, and suddenly burning it all in the front yard and leaving the bonfire with a rebel yell out of my truck and maybe a few shotgun blasts into the air before smoking the tires almost sounds like a plan. But, I don’t like sleeping on the ground or the back of a car seat anymore. Age has a way of doing that to you. So, for the next two weeks, I begin the arduous process of bagging and tagging all of my shit and preparing to not only move the more important stuff to my new room at Jennifer’s chicken ranch in Norco, but a bunch of other stuff will basically be used to furnish a little “vacation home" out in Joshua Tree, and suddenly, I realize that my life has turned into a more impoverished version of an old George Carlin bit entitled “Stuff.” I’m going to end up with my bedroom being in Norco, the living room and dining room stuff, along with the TV and most of the books and videos and another bed my roommate doesn’t want out in J-Tree, and even my two drum sets will be in two different separate houses: the new one set up in its present position in the rehearsal studio where I presently reside and my old Gretsch over at Bob’s place, because I pretty much use it to play with him these days. My stuff will now be in four different places, and five if you count the shit I still have stored at my parent’s house.

    The funny thing is, in the end, most of this stuff is really kind of meaningless to me. Realistically, it comes down to a few items having any importance, and that’s mostly due to sentimental reasons. If all of my shit burned to the ground, I’d only be bummed about losing the old Gretsch kit, a suitcase with all of my old writing in it, and a handful of memorabilia and hard copied pictures that haven’t been scanned. And, as long as I still had one of my three redundant hard drives in tact with most of my writing on it, a bag of clothes, one pair of boots, a laptop (for my work) and a working vehicle, I’d be able to move on and start over anywhere with no problem . . . as long as I had the cash to get more stuff that I don’t give a shit about or just afford motels with room service for the rest of my life. And how nice and liberating would that be?
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