Thursday, June 24, 2004

Back from tour, unemployed, looking out for what's next. Starting April 12th, we embarked from SF to Amsterdam for the European tour which lasted until we arrived back home on May 8th. Three days later, we drove to LA and did a U.S. tour which brought us back home on June 18th. We have one more show here on 6/26 and then one in New York on 8/5 and then possibly Hong Kong some time in October (though doubtful). It has been a long one and I am adjusting to the concept of being alone for much of the day (while my wife is at work). Nothing has sunk in yet. However, since I last posted that money thing with my old job resolved itself. The Monday morning I was to leave for Europe, a FedEX guy showed up with a check from my old place of employment basically giving me $1200 and a note that said "while we don't agree with your assessment, we have decided to pay you the balance to settle the matter and signing and depositing the enclosed check officially closes the matter," etc. I have since found that my entire former department/office has been laid off, and people are trickling out until the end of the year, as I suspected. After this Saturday's show I will begin dipping my toe into the networking water to see where I land. Mostly it will probably involve a lot of lunches with former coworkers and whatnot. I am not ready for this type of thing just yet and I am not sure what I really want to do. I do know one thing: I will not work anywhere unless the hours begin at 8am or later. There is still a chance I may work for my wife's uncle, but it depends on whether or not he can secure a couple of deals he's been working on with clients of his. I would be a "train the trainer." It also appears we will be moving into her mom's apartment addition once completed down in Santa Clara, rent free for 1-2 years until our debt load is, or close to settled. I have secretly called it a self imposed exile, because we would be far enough away from our circles of friends and normal activities for it to make us feel like we're holed up in the Crimea. That is literally true, I suppose, in that they have done a lot of work in the front and back yard to make it feel like a vacation oasis in the middle of bland suburbia. The front is a series of elaborate fences, lush gardens and interesting Japanese-inspired architecture. The back has a new jacuzzi and I am assuming its surroundings is somewhat similar in concept to the front, though I have not seen it. They are going to build a two story in-law unit adjacent to the garage side of the house. Once completed, we will move in supposedly.

Politically I haven't been that active. I support Kerry, though I am wary of his ability to relate to the average Joe. I wore a "FUCK B*SH" t-shirt during most of our shows on the US tour. It started to smell pretty bad and had to give it a rest, putting my experiment of seeing if I could wear it to every show to the serious test. I signed up as a volunteer for the Kerry campaign, but I am not sure I have the wherewithal to try and raise funds. I may have a lot of time to attend events to see what it's all about, however.

I forgot to mention the landlord dispute my wife and I had with the people that bought the house. Just before I was to leave for Europe, the new landlords, after a series of fits and starts and different stories about how they wanted to move into the place and so on, told us they wanted to raise the rent from $1025 to $1601.40 (adding the 1.40 for extra injury, we gather), well above the Oakland Rent Control amount of 3%. They said they had a loophole for "debt service" costs. We gathered our facts, and exposed their errors in accounting as well as errors in procedure. The hearing took place on 4/28 and we basically won. They wanted to raise the rent in April originally, but now they can't until October, and then only $300, not the $600+ they originally wanted to. They have appealed the decision, but they will probably lose there also, due to the inflammatory remarks made towards the rent adjuster who oversaw the case. In some ways it was probably better that I was not present for the hearing, because my wife is a lot more composed in those situations that I would have been, especially when the husband landlord started insulting my wife at the hearing, as he had done in times before in interactions we've had with them. A classic one was "if you don't like it, there are other places to rent in the city," when she told him that we were not, in fact, responsible to replace the faulty sink. That particular comment was a declaration of war, I said at the time, one which culminated in the hearing we won. When the time comes, they will get what they want, an ability to raise the rent to whatever they want, since we will be moving out soon enough. But I can assure you that the market will not bear $1601.40 a month for this place. Not in this economy. There's a place down the street that has had a sign up for the same amount for over two years now, and it has remained empty the entire time. Good luck Martha C and Alfonso Cortes Ponce!

Ah, a rambling account to be sure. But I've been feeling a little unmotivated and clammed up in the writing department since I returned exactly a week ago from the tour. It's all about the show this Saturday right now and then I will gather my thoughts after what is certain to be a bender of a barbecue at our house the afternoon after the show.