Month: August 2013


You can’t get what’s mine

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239 - baby big-eyes suspicionIn the hood there are three types of people, victims, aggressors and those you just don’t mess with; I call them neutral aggressors. The victim is perceived as weak and unwise to their surroundings. It’s like dropping off someone in the middle of a large city who has never been to the city where they are lost and unsure, they will stick out to those who know the city. The aggressor is the person perpetrating the crimes against the victims.  The neutral aggressors are not perpetrating any crime at all but are wise to what’s going on and will kick ass if they have to, you just don’t mess with them because “they know.”

Growing up in a rough neighborhood you learn things about people and become “street wise” building up a mental arsenal against those who may or may not be out to get you and yours. It’s just part of life when you live in that environment. When and if you leave that type of environment you tend to take the lessons you have learned with you and apply them even when it’s no longer necessary.

Trying to change this mindset is difficult when you grow up seeing how deceiving and harsh people can be. In a way you loose the ability to see other’s in a neutral light so that when you meet a person your instinct is to size them up as to determine whether or not they are an aggressor. This learned trait can make meeting people awkward and uncomfortable, especially when you are aware of it. In order to reverse or unlearn this trait I think it’s important to first of all remove yourself from the environment, not always possible I know, and to remember how interactions take place with new people. I’ve found that most, if not all, people I meet are actually not interesting and being aggressive and probably wouldn’t even know what the hell I’m talking about if I said anything about this to them. If I can remember this each time I meet a person I am less inclined to size them up. Unless you grow up that way it seems like an odd mindset.

Over the past few years in particular I’ve made huge strides in this area but still my blinds remained closed tightly at night, another trait you learn in a rough neighborhood. When it’s dark outside you just don’t leave your blinds open with the lights on because that’s how people see what you got. I took a step back recently by purchasing light eliminating blinds for the entire front of the house. They are horrible blinds and make me feel like I have an office in the middle of a building with no windows or fake windows. Really it can be as bright as the sun outside but when you close the blinds they eliminate all light. I think in the next week or so I’m going to replace them so light can come in during the day.


Clean Your Room

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Inspecting multi-family properties is always interesting especially when in a college town. The contrast between one apartment and the next can be quite significant with a notable difference when one is owned by a female and the other a male. I have to wonder if there’s something about the way a guy is wired that makes him feel it’s fine to leave rotted food, garbage, clothes and all manner of filth throughout their place? There are exceptions to this of course but most of the time it’s the guy who has the dirty apartment. Going into an apartment occupied by a female usually presents nice flowery smells and tidy shelves just like I like things to be.

Thinking back to when I got my first apartment I always hoped it would be spotless with everything in order. Not all labels facing forward order but just tidy and clean. Somewhere along the way though I lost that desire and my apartment was not unlike the ones I sometimes inspect now. Trying to remember why I allowed this to happen I can only think it was just easier to let it go than to clean it up. Dishes piled sky high and clothes on the bedroom floor was a common thing. My newly acquired wife was not one to complain and contributed to it just as much as I did.

If I go even further back to my childhood my room was a total disaster. Not just dirty but really really dirty. There were bannana peels, plates of half eaten food, clothes and discarded snack bags/containers all over. I would simply clear a way for my Atari or Nintendo and my mother rarely told me to clean my room. Was there something imprinted in my mind during those years that prevented me from having a clean apartment as an adult? I think not actually. In fact I think it was during those times that I began to despise a messy room/house only allowing it to happen in my apartment because of laziness. Now I like my home to be cleanish. By cleanish I mean it’s ok to stuff things in my basement corners or closet but the areas where people see, that’s got to be clean.



More Memories

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The other day my youngest was watching Mork & Mindy on some retro cable channel upstairs. When she asked me about the show I said I remembered it as a kid and thought it was funny. As we age things change though and I found the show to be annoying and quite unfunny. How there was a time when I liked it I don’t know but then again I used to like candy, all kinds of candy, which I don’t care for anymore. It’s just one of those things I guess. Oh but I do like spinach now which I detested as a kid.

Around the time I watched Mork & Mindy we lived in an apartment off Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti I think call Park-view at the time or perhaps Triangle West? I don’t remember but we actually lived in both of them. There was a guy that lived on the lower level who we used to tease whenever we ran around the halls jetting out the exit near his patio door. He always had his patio door open with bead curtains and birds, I remember birds that were always making noise, sitting in their cages just inside the doorway. He would be there on his chair looking out and as we passed would talk smack like, “asshole” (yes I know that’s uncool sorry I was like 10) or “homeboy.” Later on I would find out my other friends were calling him homo but I didn’t know that word or what it meant so I said homeboy.

This poor guy never said a word but just sat there looking at us like we were a bunch of little bastards and we were. We terrorized the apartment halls running around knocking on doors then running, yelling and playing gun games or whatever. Come to think of it I don’t know how we got away with being so rowdy and rude. It wasn’t until I finally got my first bike that I spent less time being a bastard in the halls.

One day the nephew of my mothers boyfriend, Milton,  came over so we decided to show him the ropes in the halls teaching him how we do it. When we got to the exit near the doorway of our frequently taunted victim we wanted to pick up the taunting a few notches to show off for Milton. The taunts were followed by a few curse words and I called him “homeboy” in an especially rude tone which for some reason was the final straw. Why “homeboy” set him off I don’t know but he sprung to his feet and made a dash for his doorway to the patio which was feet from the walkway. This grown man was coming after us and we took off running.

Those of us who knew the area well scattered into the building with a few others out towards the driveway. Milton was new at this so he panicked and running towards the doorway he ran into the glass doorway. There were two glass doorways that separated the metal door in the middle both being clear glass so it looked like they were just openings. If he had a few seconds to think about it he would have known better. Really why would you have a solid door with two door sized openings on either side with no glass? It’s stupid. Milton ran head first into the glass and it shattered in millions of little shards but thankfully being a safety glass it didn’t break into sword sized chunks. Still Milton got cut up on his arm and hand requiring some stitches.

I can’t remember what exactly happened directly after that but the next day the glass was replaced this time with metallic stickers dotted across mid level. This was done to let other  people know “this is not an opening idiot. ” After that happened we never said another word to “homeboy” and he never said anything to us. Knowing he would come after us was enough to deter us from talking trash.

That's me in the middle extending my hands as if to present a large phallus to the picture taker. What a little punk.
That’s me in the middle extending my hands as if to present a large phallus to the picture taker. What a little punk.

Dark and Damp


Most days I am thankful for having a job I love and the added benefit of being self employed makes it that much sweeter. There are days however when I think to myself, “man is this worth it?” Sometimes that answer is NO but even then it’s only a no at that moment because overall it’s certainly worth it. When I inspect a home that’s in horrible condition I find myself wondering how I do it especially when that home has a crawlspace that’s low, muddy and big. My afternoon inspection today was one of those days when I cursed to myself while under the house wishing I charged hundreds more for this mess. In truth there’s no dollar amount that would make me happy to be here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAImagine crawling around in this mess. The only thing this crawl had going for it was it’s height being over 18″ though the hanging dripping wet insulation took away any joy in that. When I made my exit I had to pause for a while to gather my thoughts and shake off the look of disgust before revealing the condition to the buyer. As bad as it might get inspecting crawls I always think about the poor bastard that has to go down there and remove the wet insulation, debris, loose vapor barrier or work on the floor structure.


Hit repeat on that old school jam.

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There are movies and songs that I like and consider my favorites just like everyone else. My taste in movies and music is partially built on the memories attached to them but that’s probably not much different from other people either. Watching a movie or listening to a song always takes my mind to events of my childhood or even recent years where I find myself thinking about events in my life during that time. I’ve noticed that the songs I like most are attached to good memories but that’s not surprising, who want’s to listen to a song that makes them think of a bad time? Sometimes though I even like to listen to a song that’s attached to a bad time if only to be happy about the good times.

My favorite genre of music is old school R&B like Earth Wind and Fire, Gap Band, Stevie Wonder and some others. The songs appeal to me because they remind me of a happy time as a kid in the 70’s. My mother at the time had a boyfriend that I saw as a father figure and someone I looked up to. To me he was a provider, strong and decent. It wasn’t until later I realized that he was a womanizer, mean to my mom though never hit her and wasn’t such a great provider.

We had a record player in the apartment we lived in  with R&B albums stacked in milk crates set on their side to form sort of a table for the speakers on top. Bo, my mothers boyfriend, would play the records and  smoke weed while doing them old time dance moves. My mom would laugh loudly and I would look on wishing I could dance like that too. Perhaps the picture of what I described would not be appealing to some but it was to me. I was young and saw nothing wrong what what was going on. Bo would take me sledding around the woods over logs and grass pulling me with a rope while I sat in a long sled. It must have been hard to pull the sled like that around the woods but he would do it without stopping even. To me Bo was a great guy.

Eventually Bo left, like all my moms boyfriends, but over the years I would get less and less attached to them. I think it was around 1985 the last time I cried when one left. After that it didn’t matter much. Interestingly it’s R&B prior to this that I like. Anything newer than that I just don’t relate to or care for much.

My iPod playlist has music from my selection but also has music from my wife. Her taste is very different from mine but I do listen to her selection of songs sometimes just so I can find out of there’s something I might like and I have. During a recent trip north with the girls I gave one of her songs a try called “Living Proof” by Gregory Alan Isakov. I remember we were driving down a country road on our way to Empire. The girls were sleeping and I was thinking about our destination, of course thinking about my childhood memories of the place, and how much fun we would have there. When I listen to the song now I think of that day up north and it makes me smile.


Drive Up

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I’ve never been much of a fan of long drives but to me they are a special part of any vacation. The trip there is almost as good as being there. It’s the anticipation of where you are going, the scenery on the way and music or talk show you listen to that can make the long drive seem not so long.

This weekend we drove up to Bay City for a family reunion and ball game. While the ball game got rained out and I had to leave early due to one of the kids having an ear ache we had a great time the next day with family at the park then more fun times at the hotel. The weather was perfect with a slight breeze and enough sunshine so you felt warm at times but not too hot, perfect family reunion weather really. The drive up seemed long though I think mostly because I wasn’t exactly sure how far up we were heading.

As a kid I remember the long road trips with my dad or uncle going north to Traverse City or Ludington and at the time I hated the long drive. Listening to “These Eyes” so many times as the 8-track in my dads Pacer cycled from that and ABBA’s greatest hits I knew all the songs well. Even then the 8-track system was outdated as was the car but I liked the hard loud click the player made when you switched songs. My brother and I got along best at those times too, each picking a song or waiting so that we could pick a new tape then every 30 minutes asking if we were close yet.  I wonder what my own kids think about the drive up?

Today on the way home it felt like time flew by. Being in my truck with my whole family together was a good feeling even if we didn’t talk. We listened to This American Life. Actually we listened to two shows each being one hour. Once home I knew the kids would go out and play, I’d go upstairs or in the family room to watch television or read something online. Everyone would be in a different place but that’s the way it goes. It’s good to be home but I kind of miss the drive up and back.


Can’t shake the Harley

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This dream I’ve been having for weeks now, possibly even months, won’t go away. I find myself on a long stretch of road on my newly purchased Harley Davidson motorcycle or I am in a Harley shop looking at the inventory with every intent to purchase one. The feeling I get is not unlike the way Christmas days feels to a kid. These bikes are beautiful and I am always on black Harley with leather bags, chrome pipes and open road.

2013 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Lo Softail
2013 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Lo Softail

Waking up I feel determined to purchase a Harley so I go online and search out the one of my dreams which I found a long time ago but refer back to. The price..well it’s something I could do I know but it’s a lot of money and I don’t know if it’s the responsible thing to do. With four kids, all those bills associated with family life and knowing my oldest will be driving age soon. Get the Harley or buy him a car, put more into their college funds, pay down something else. These are the things I think about. Well that and to be honest I am afraid of motorcycles or better I am afraid of people in cars who pull out in front of motorcycles.