.journal 2001.08.16
The less fortunate.

Now listening to: Delerium, Karma
Now reading: Poppy Z. Brite, Drawing Blood; Sylvia Plath, The Collected Poems
Now playing: Marvel vs. Capcom (Dreamcast)

So it's now been three months since the fire. And yet we have still not been able to find a suitable builder to restore our house, and believe me, we've been looking. My father's been removing the drywall and stuff from the house by himself evenings and weekends to release tension and help himself deal with the current situation with the house better, and at this rate he may have the thing down to the timbers before we hear back from anybody. The funny part is that he just got done tearing down the walls of my room, but he had to leave a piece of drywall up because otherwise there would have literally been a window from my room into the bathroom where the medicine cabinet used to be.

I still want my house back as soon as possible, but it's really not that big a deal to me at this point. I figure that will happen whenever it happens, and I have another more pressing matter I've been attending to recently. I'm not exactly cherishing the thought of staying in this hotel room until the new year, but if it happens then it happens.

Living in this hotel for three months now has been a very odd experience, though. You have to remember, I've only really known my house when it comes to long-term living arrangements. Before the fire, the longest I'd ever gone without sleeping in my own bedroom was seventeen days. I'm going well beyond ninety here, and if my suspicions are correct about the feasibility of winter construction, there's a good chance I could end up here for upwards of three hundred and sixty five. No disrespect to the hotel, but that thought doesn't sit well with me.

I guess I've gotten used to the hotel in a way, though. It bothers me sometime how accustomed I've come to things here simply because this isn't my home, but you can't live in a certain place for so long a period of time without elements of life there becoming routine to you. So I've learned how to deal with the problems the open-air design of the upstairs leads to with noise and odours and such, and the limited amount of cooking I can do due to the kitchen here, and stuff like that.

One thing that's been odd for all of us to deal with has been the presence of the maids or cleaners or whatever you want to call them. (They refer to themselves as "housekeeping," but this isn't my house, dammit.) I will certainly admit to being a bit of a slacker when it comes to cleaning my own stuff, but I'm still used to doing a good deal of my own cleaning and even what I slack off on I know how to do. But here it's like, "Go ahead and make a mess of things, the cleaners will take care of it later." That's odd enough for me but it's killing my mother, because before she went to work for my father she was a housewife and cleaning is what she does, and still did at the house. For her, the inability to do most of the cleaning around here leaves her feeling without a sense of purpose or usefullness.

Still, as grateful as we are to have cleaners coming in here, their presence poses some problems for us. Since my sister is such a late sleeper (and I'm joining her in that regard for my two weeks of "summer vacation" between summer and autumn terms at college), we usually miss the cleaners on their first pass and have to try to catch them the second time around. Not only that, but one of us has to be here while they clean, because otherwise we have to put Spyder in her cage and we really, really don't like to do that. That isn't even getting into all of my stuff that I have here, or all of my sister's stuff she's buying to replace what she lost in the fire, and how we just feeler safer if someone is here to watch over it.

So we usually only have the cleaners come in here twice a week. We figure that we're not even paying for our stay here, and the insurance company probably has a deal with the hotel where the hotel charges them a reduced rate for long-term stays such as ours, so we try not to be too much of a burden to the hotel staff. Plus we treat this room a lot different than their normal customers do, simply because we're not "staying here" like their usual clients, we're actually living out of here. In many cases we've even bought our own supplies of things the hotel could provide us for free, like shampoo and toilet paper, and we do a tidying-up of things before the cleaners come in just to make things easier for them.

There was this situation involving the cleaning staff recently, though, where things weren't so easy. Goddess knows we've all been trying to be as accomodating and adapting to pretty much everything given our current situation, but myself and the rest of my family simply had our collective patience stretched to the limit, and were it not for a well-timed coincidence I think we would have snapped.

The first few weeks we were here we didn't have a regular cleaner; we tended to have different people on different days. We knew a couple of their names, but we were still adjusting to life in the hotel at that point so getting to know our cleaners just wasn't that big a priority for any of us.

Finally, though, we got a regular cleaner by the name of Frank. None of us liked Frank from the start. He talked loud, and usually said everything repeatedly as if we didn't get it. He was hardly what we would call sociable, and he never did that good a job on much of anything. Often times my mother would leave a list behind of what she considered the most vital things that needed to get done, and they wouldn't always get done. What was worst of all, though, was that it seemed like he could only breathe like someone making an obscene phone call; I don't know if it was the stairs up to the room winding him or what, but his breathing was laboured all the damn time and it didn't matter how loud I turned up my music or the TV, I couldn't drown him out.

Frank tried to put on a good front, but it was obvious he didn't care much for us, either. Just before my parents left on a mini-vacation, we discovered this long dent in the body of the parents' van that just happened to be at the exact same height as the top of the cleaning carts they use here. And powder we scraped out of the gash matched the colour of the carts perfectly. Because my parents were on vacation we didn't say anything about it to the management (Frank was a very big fellow and looked like he could really hurt someone if he wanted to), but we pretty much figured Frank did it, whether by accident or on purpose. So you can imagine how it felt to let him into the room after that.

About a week ago, though, it wasn't Frank who came up here to clean. We asked the new cleaner what was going on, and he said that the previous day Frank had decided he'd rather hang out at poolside talking to people than doing his job, and after about fifteen attempts to get him to do his job the manager simply told Frank to leave and never come back. The new cleaner was a perfect gentleman and really did an excellent job of cleaning stuff up around here, taking care of several tasks that Frank never did. We thought that was that, and we could feel a lot better when we heard that "Housekeeping!" call at the door.

Tuesday we had a different cleaner in, probably because the hotel hasn't hired anyone to take care of this room on a regular basis yet. But we got to talking with this new cleaner about Frank. For one thing, his name wasn't Frank. He told us a pseudonym, for what reason I don't know (I won't reveal his real name here out of concern for his privacy), but I'm guessing he thought if we went to the manager to complain and used someone else's name that he'd be out of trouble, even though the hotel's own logs would point right back to him. Frank had also been complaining quite loudly about what a mess we make of things in here, and how we were these horrible, horrible people, but we'd kind of figured on that. What we hadn't figured out, though, was why Frank could never complete those lists my mother made for him.

Frank was illiterate.

Apparently Frank would always come to this cleaner we were talking to whenever he got a list from the manager, and had him read it to him. I don't know how Frank could have possibly gotten a job here without rudimentary reading skills, but then again I guess illiterates find ways to cope with their deficiencies; maybe he had a friend fill out the job application for him or something.

But I'm just coming off this first college course I've taken in several years and I'm not that happy because I don't think my presentation was fairly judged and I had problems answering some test questions because my professor's English wasn't that good, but, you know, at least I have the chance to go to college. Starting the course I was just totally obsessed on getting an A, so I could hold it up as a harbringer of my future academic career, and when the presentation bombed and put the A out of reach, I was just totally crestfallen. But, you know, at least I have the chance to go to college.

Somehow I doubt Frank even graduated high school; I don't think I'll be seeing him on campus anytime soon. I certainly don't like what Frank did to our van or his general shoddy cleaning work, but it's hardly like I would wish any ill will on him. Especially after this revelation. I had a hard enough time getting work when I had my own company even with all the skills I had; how hard is it going to be for Frank to find a meaningful job anywhere? What is going to happen to him next? I don't want to say I feel for him, but there is a level of concern there.

All of this kind of makes me go back to a subject I've talked about before, about the concept of "be glad for what you have and you have no right to complain about anything" that I've run into thanks to all the encounters I've had with jerks throughout my life, and my own belief that satisfaction with anything less than the purest form of your bliss is inherently wrong, that you should always be complaining, always be trying to get exactly what it is you want out of life and never settling for anything less. Now that I've had this close encounter with someone much less fortunate than myself, it makes me wonder just what my own concepts mean to me.

I'm glad I've had more opportunities in life than Frank has had. But that doesn't mean I don't have a right to be miserable over what's happened to me in these last three months. As used to this hotel room as I've become, it still isn't home to me, and there's a sense of security you derive from being under your own roof that I want back. As happy as I am to have done my best in that class I just took and as much as I'm positive I'll get a real good grade in it, I'm still yearning for that "A" that I feel I should rightfully have. And as glad as I am to have made so many new friends now that I have my own car and started at a new school, my old friends still mean much more to me and I'm missing them more than ever.

All my life I've believed that I was put on this earth to do something great, and it was about twelve years ago that I realized that I was meant to accomplish that goal with my music. I'm not saying I have to become a multi-million selling artist, but I have a message to get out there, and music is the medium through which I have to send that message. For all I know, the drive to get that music out there may lead me to homelessness. But it may also lead me to great fame and riches. But I know who I was meant to be, and I have to keep fighting to become that person. To me that pursuit is just as important as breathing and sleeping.

More than that, though, I believe everyone has a right to be happy. Not happy with what he or she has, happy on his or her own terms, and short of harming other people I believe everyone has a right to follow their bliss however they want. And everyone has a right to be unhappy if something stands in the way to their happiness. I have a lot to be grateful for right now, but I also have a lot to be unhappy about. And I'm going to keep fighting to regain my happiness. I'm glad I'm not in a situation like Frank is finding himself in at this point, but I'm not glad that I still have so much suffering in my life. And so help me, I am going to do everything I can do to be happy again. Pardon me if maybe I vent my unhappiness in this forum from time to time. If reading what I write makes you unhappy, then don't read it, it's that simple.

Everyone take care and be well. I'll see you all soon.

- Sean