Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Last Stand in Kent

Sometime during my first week after moving to Cleveland Heights, I realized I probably needed a car to find a job. The answer to this conundrum did not exist in theory; rather, it required a trip back to Kent to fix my estranged ’87 Chevy Celebrity. My most recent exchange with The Shelia-5, as I named her (after the vanity plate that the previous owner had graced it with) resulted in a very inopportune stall across 3 lanes of traffic on Rt. 59 in Kent. Upon trying to restart the fickle broad, she refused, the coy bitch, with a series of unresponsive cranks.

“Oh my,” I remarked upon looking to my left at a series of headlights bearing down on me. My passenger Sarah, clutching our boxes of pizzas, shifted uneasily on the bench seat.

I then slipped Shelia into neutral, exited very drastically, and proceeded to push her back into the parking lot of Hungry Howie’s. But the cumbersome beast, she got away from me, hitting the down slope of the parking lot and taking on a momentum wholly her own. Luckily, Sarah was in complete awareness of the situation and—just as Shelia was about to careen into a parked car—leant over and hit the brakes.

Sarah was also kind enough to provide Shelia and me a free AAA tow back to my apartment on Main Street. There, the shitbox came to rest for another six weeks.

Over those six weeks, I graduated from college, lost my job, took a ten-day vacation, lost all direction in life, got regularly drunk/high, and moved to Cleveland. Somewhere in there, I lost track of my car. That is, until things began to shake out in the new digs. Maybe I thought the situation would take care of itself.

Alas, the Celebrity was still disheveled and abandoned in Kent, awaiting the benevolent hand of an experienced mechanic to get her back on the road again. So no more than two days after moving into my new pad in the Heights, I forced myself to venture back into Kent in an attempt to better adulticize or responsibilitize my life. I figured a working auto would be the first step in that process. The next, obviously, would be marriage.

Somehow, the trip to Kent provided both, with a brief sandwich of homeless/hopeless-ness. My final Kent adventure began on a Monday morning, following a gracious ride into town from one of my new roommates. My old Main Street apartment still needed a good cleaning, and I occupied myself with that until Sarah could come over with her free tow.

Hours later, she showed. Subsequently, my car, with one tire having gone completely flat from disuse, was tethered and displaced to Main Street Auto, a few hundred feet up the hill. There, the problem was to be diagnosed and a cure afforded. I use “afforded” lightly, as my ongoing unemployment severely limited that which I could actually “afford.”

Mike, the main mechanic, assured me that the problem could be remedied the very next day, probably by the evening. I figured that I could manage staying the night in Kent, and Sarah was so kind as to offer her place as a sort of bed/breakfast/hostel. That night, we dined on French bread pizza and entertained ourselves with Season I of Grey’s Anatomy, with which I had been heretofore unfamiliar but quickly and inexplicably became addicted to.

I slumbered that night to visions of McDreamy delicately cutting open Shelia’s hood and curing her cystic fibrosis.

I awoke at 11:30 the next morning and made my way back to my old apartment, stopping briefly in at Main Street Auto to find that they had yet to even glance at my car. I figured it was to be a long day. For the next couple hours of early afternoon, I sat in a lawn chair in my rather frigid and desolate former living room, searching ineffectually for jobs on a stolen wifi signal.

I decided to grab some stimulants and warmth from Susan’s Coffee and Tea up the street, so I departed momentarily. I spent the next 7 hours at the coffee shop, the price of a small house having saved me the indignity of stealing their wireless signal outright.

Sarah called me around 8, asked if I had heard any word from the garage, which, of course, I had not. She offered her place to me once more. We made a chicken casserole that night with meat I had found in the freezer at my apartment. We curled up on her sofa to more of Grey’s.

While at Susan’s the next day, I called Mike the Mechanic to see when my car would be done. As it turns out, Shelia had been quite the prude, and would not divulge the location of her ailment. Huh.

“We’ll call you when we figure it out; it’s definitely not the fuel pump.” Mike said. “We think it might be the computer. Or the crank shaft sensor.”

“Well at least that’s something,” I said, knowing full well I would be spending the night at Sarah’s again.

I fished some loose change out of my pocket to pay for a refill on my long-expended house blend. The cashier said I could have it for free. I glanced down at my apparel: the same discolored red hoodie I had been wearing for the last 2 days while essentially living at Susan’s. Huh.

Once again, Sarah picked me up in front of the coffee house right before it closed. She had eaten at Ruby Tuesdays earlier that night and was so kind as to offer me the leftovers. I don’t think I had eaten yet that day.

We had depleted our cache of Season I Grey’s episodes the night prior, so a trip to Family Video was in store to grab Season II. It seemed I couldn’t sleep without McDreamy.

After I fetched Sarah and myself a beer from the fridge, I realized we were basically married and had been for some time. I rationalized that we both stayed in it, you know, for the kids. I imagined that if I had stayed another night, we’d have had roast for dinner.

The next morning, after Sarah left for work and I did the last night’s dishes, I hopped on the horn to my roommate, to see if he was coming back through Kent that day. Luckily, he was, and I scheduled a pick-up at Susan’s for later that evening. I did not expect to hear from Mike the Mechanic, and I did not hear from him. I spent another full day at the coffee shop, plugging away at new job openings and posting comments on friends’ My Space pages.

For Sale: MINT condition 1987 Chevrolet Celebrity. Silver. Maroon velour int. NEW computer, alternator, starter. $600 OBO. You pick up. Location: Main St. Auto, Kent, OH. Available early March 2009.

My roommate came and got me around dusk and we went back to my old apartment to make off with the last of my belongings: hibachi grill, bulletin board, cleaning supplies. I threw the lawn chair away, as I was no longer in need of the makeshift home office. I ran into the landlord, who told me to leave the keys on the kitchen counter, as he would come by later to pick them up. I left them there, as instructed, along with January’s thrifty $50 prorated rent.

This was to be my Kent legacy—2 keys and $50. I left Kent jobless, carless, homeless. My roommate and I stopped by Sarah’s on the way home to say goodbye. We separated. I arrived home disillusioned, dirty, and exhausted, but with the implausible desire for a roast.

Friday, January 12, 2007


Sorry that it took so long to republish this thing. I had been envisioning changes for some time and have been unable to find the time.

Thanks for you patience.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007


The Dream: New York City, Brooklyn, in particular. The high-profile internship has flown the coop, but I could (presumably) make the jump as a starving artist and build my life from nothing. For this, I would need to convince myself that I am, in fact, an artist. Otherwise, I'd just be starving.

Hope: Chicago. I was in love with this city six months ago. But when said high-profile internship moved from the Windy City to the more elitist realms of NYC, I more or less forgot about it. Q: Where to start? Who do I know? A: Nowhere; No one.

Realistic: Cleveland Heights. Jobless, I take a much safer (is it?) leap away from Kent, college, burnt bridges. I'll be living in a high-profile (is it?) neighborhood with a bunch of kids my age. In comparison to the first two, this is a cop-out, but not as much as the next two.

Cop-outs: Tampa/Bradenton area, Florida. Free place to stay. I'd have my old retail job. I'd bike to work every day. Basically, I'd re-live my life from the summer of '04. Except I'd be an adult, not a college kid saving money for the school year. And then there's the family. . .

Youngstown, OH. My dad and stepmom tried to sell me on the idea of moving back home and saving money. I can't do it, for I know that I'd be working as a busser at the Boardman Chilis, sleeping on a futon in the family room (or basement), and searching unsuccessfully for the 8 creative people that live in Youngstown. Make that 7, as one of them is in Kent.

Out of the question: Kent, OH. Although the Kent scene has been very good to me these last few years, I need to move on. The jump away will be hard, but time shakes everything out. I'll miss the place. I'll miss her. But Cleve-O isn't that far away at all.