Will and I were supposed to be on the road by three last Friday, but one of my bosses called a little after one and sent me back to Anacostia, camera in hand, to take more pictures of boarded up crack houses. When you are not legally working, there is no one you can complain to about your job being unsafe. Getting shot on the job is not really getting shot on the job, because legally there is no job. I cannot tell Social Security that I am working a job that is hazardous to my health because legally I am not working. So if one day I head off to Anacostia and do not come back — which seems likely, considering how often I get lost down there — no one is going to give a rat\’s ass. On the upside, it looks like I may be able to quit the job, but on the reverse, if I quit, then I have no extra money beyond rent and transportation again. But I am getting ahead of myself.
By the time Will and I finally got on the road it was after six. It took an hour to fight Friday evening entertainment traffic and get on the DC beltway. Two and a half hours later, in Chester, Pennsylvania, my car started misfiring again. It continued to do so the rest of the way into Philadelphia, nearly breaking down over the Schuylkill river. We chugged into a parking garage off 76, checked into a hotel, and collapsed into bed. The car sat in the garage all day Saturday and we had a look under the hood Sunday morning. A decision was made to get the car to the nearest open bay to have it looked at.
Two hours later the car had required another $150 in maintenance for another oil change, a tune up, and a change in spark plugs. My head gasket was blown and it had fried the spark plugs. The mechanic didn\’t have a gasket on hand to replace it, and it would have been way too expensive anyway, so we got on the road without it. Made it from Philly to the DC area dealership where I bought the car last June in less than two hours, then sat around for another two hours waiting to hash things out with the damn car.
Last week I spent $105 on getting my car alarm transmitters replaced because one broke and the other was lost. I spent two days locked out of my car as a result — two days of missed work and frantically juggled errands and doctors appointments. In order to save money on having my oil changed (at 1500 miles over the limit), my brother offered to change my oil last Saturday. After I purchased oil, an oil filter, and paid to dispose of the oil, I had spent as much as I would have at an authorized mechanic… and an authorized mechanic likely would not have screwed my oil cap back on improperly. That, according to my car dealership, caused my oil cap to burst, which is why it was missing last week when I popped my hood last Thursday after finding my car drenched in oil from front to back. It was so thick it could not be seen through. I got a $30 parking ticket because I was unable to move it before the street cleaners went by. Then I had to cancel three doctors appointments for that day and an appointment to get my oil re-changed (the oil tank was now clogged with dirt and empty of oil) in order to get my car cleaned off, but after washing the car by hand twice, paying for it go through a car wash once ($12) and wiping it down with quarter of a bottle of Windex, the windows were still impossibly coated and very hard to see through.
Fucking hell, I hate that car. If it\’s not breaking down, it\’s stolen, and if it\’s not stolen, it\’s got two parking tickets to it\’s name and is in danger of getting a parking boot, and if it\’s not in danger of getting a parking boot, it\’s getting hit by someone else\’s car, and if it\’s not getting hit by someone else\’s car… and I have only had this damn thing for exactly nine months.
Generally, the stupid car costs me about $300 a month in parking, gas and maintenance. It has cost me more than that in the past week alone. Add up the other weeks in March and it\’s cost me all my savings, all my earnings, my entire disability check over the cost of rent, plus a small loan. It is not worth it at all.
Because of the \”privelege\” of having a car, my doctors appointments are scattered through out two counties plus D.C. I shuttle across the area constantly, and because my health insurance doesn\’t pay for medical transcript transfers or paperwork, I taxi folders of papers back and forth between doctors offices in Columbia, Greenbelt, College Park, New Carrollton, Wheaton, Kensington, Hyattsville, Friendship Heights, Takoma Park, Laurel, Gaithersburg, and Silver Spring. Then when you add work into the process — and god fucking christ, but in doing the math I really do just work to own a car and just own a car to go to work and get to doctors appointments that don\’t help — I am driving all over DC, sometimes having to return to the same neighborhoods three and four times a day on new assignments. FUCK THIS.
Analysis: my body feels like hell when I tense up. The longer I tense up, the worse I feel. I always tense up when I am in a car. I am generally in a car three hours a day. If I quit working real estate, that rids me of half of the time in the car. If I fire all my doctors and tell my health insurance to either go to hell or give me local doctors or doctors within walking distance of the red line, then I save the other half of the time in the car. I can then get rid of my car and use public transportation. I hate my car, I hate driving, I hate commuting — it makes perfect sense. Using the disability fare on the bus and metro, I\’ll spend about one quarter to one eighth of the amount of money I was per month on my car. The rare occasions that I think I need a car, I can rent a wonderful Zipcar, use the metro disability van, or car pool. For road trips I\’ll go back to using mass transit, which is much less stressful considering every time I leave town in my car it breaks down.
With all the extra time on my hands from not commuting, driving around the city for work, sitting in shitty doctor\’s offices and looking for parking, I can be doing things that are actually beneficial to me, like getting back to yoga and aquatic therapy. Maybe then I\’ll start sleeping again and people will stop telling me that I look like an exhausted skeleton. Maybe then I can kick this deabilitating depression that has been eating away at me since January. Maybe then I can start writing again. Enjoy something again. Be happy again. Wow. Imagine that.
In the meantime, today I get to sit at home on my ass, waiting for my case worker to return my calls yet again. She always manages to call in the few minutes that involve me stepping into the bathroom or walking down the hallway to the lobby, and unfortunately, my phone does not get service in the inside of the building, so I never get those calls, only those voice mails. Not today. No, today I am not showering, I am not going into the kitchen, I am not going to pee, I am not going to to go downstairs. I have cancelled two doctors appointments and told work I won\’t be in until after business hours, and I am sitting here and waiting by the phone like I am fourteen and waiting for a boy to call.
My car sits at the dealership, currently undiagnosed, but I am determind to kick it\’s ass to the curb. Pa-pa-pa-paw.
Oh, and I got jury duty. The thing is, I want to do it, but I know I can\’t sit in those chairs for nine hours a day. I don\’t know what would be more amusing — to lie and answer moderately to every question in an attempt to get on the jury so that I can see a trial from a juror\’s point of view, even if it is just a small infraction, or to answer honestly and as liberally left as I really am.
This past weekend Will and I met up with a variety of other models and photographers for a day at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philly. I managed to twist my ankle and my knee and we got locked in the medical ward after everyone else got shooed out. The place was a dream come true. Once we all got frisky enough to skirt past the designated grounds, we discovered some absolute gems. I wish I could take my grandfather there. Historian\’s wet dream and an artist\’s fantasy. I think I fall into the first category, however. I was too wrapped in poking around and theorizing to get much done in the means of artistry. , , , and Will got some great shots, however. All the below are by Will.
Once we got in the psychiatric ward, it was hard to get us out
Home, sweet home.
The Recovery Room in the Cell Block 3 Hospital wing. Behind us and to the right, a tree had grown up the walls of the corner of the room. Behind us to the left, a group shower had been built after the wing had originally been designed and built. Forward in the photo is the bathroom; broken commodes and sinks remain. Out in the hallway, several doors down, a fire had broken out at some point years ago outside of a room with a cage built inside the walls.
With one of the \”ghost cat\” artist installations.
In between the Hospital wing and the wing that housed Death Row is one of a handful of tiny exercise yards.
Some prankster (not one of us) drilled the numbers \”666\” into one of the doors in the psychiatric wing of the hospital ward. It looks to have been done in the last twenty years since the prison closed, but who knows?
Will and I want to go back to the prison. The best parts were wandering off the allowed portions,
but some things about those sections of the prison just do not make sense. For one, they are obviously dangerous and are being restored so that the public can eventually access them, but then why are there already artist installations in these sections that cannot be seen unless you are in them? Two, why do these sections that are supposedly being fixed up and restored look so very much more old, decrepit and creepy than in the virtual tours of the very same rooms on the web site? VT technology was only introduced recently, so it is not like those tours are that much older. The tree that is there now could not have grown in just five years. It must have been growing since the prison closed in 1970. Whomever is in charge of ESP is apparently glamorizing the prison\’s insides and making it look even more atrocious than it was. While that is a surefire way of attracting more tourists, that is a seriously hellacious way to treat history. I don\’t care if you fornicate on Abe Lincoln\’s lap, but jeeze, at least have the decency to tell it like it was.
Addendum: Now it makes sense. The wings look like that because the movies 12 Monkeys and Return to Paradise were filmed there. The wings were transformed to be suitable sets, and while the rotunda was changed back, it does not seem as though other places like the hospital wing have been.