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April 2, 2000

If I'm even more muddled than usual for the next month or so, it's for a good reason.

I'm moving.

After twelve years shoehorned into the Home Office, I'm leaving for a place that will be a true home, with an office. Separate. No work will be allowed to contaminate the living area.

With three bedrooms, a living room and a family room, plus a large kitchen with a dining area, there should be plenty of space without having to have the two parts of my life overlap. And with a roomy, fenced backyard, I have a retreat where I can just sit and read, as well as a place where I can get my hands dirty, if I so choose. The lawn is overgrown at the moment, but I expect it to become my refuge. It's definitely something I haven't had for twelve years. Even then, all I had was an apartment with a patio and no real yard.

When I got to the new place to turn in my application, I told Jerry and Fred, my new landlords, that I would give them time to look it over and check me out. They said they'd already decided that I could have the place. I refrained from doing any cartwheels across the new linoleum, but I was thrilled that my brief search was over, and happy to be out of my current digs.

I'm as nervous as a cat, prowling around my house tonight, wondering what I can take, what I can get rid of, and how to pack. I'll start on one project and flash on something else I want to do. Needless to say, nothing is truly being accomplished. It will almost be a relief when Monday comes and all I have to think about is doing my job.

Some people move around a lot. Maybe you can get used to this upheaval. Maybe when you move all the time you don't accumulate as much utterly useless crap. And maybe you don't obsess so much about tiny details that you lose sight of the big picture.

Because in the big picture, I'm going to be a whole lot more comfortable, and a whole lot more relaxed. It gets intense, living with your work this way.

I couldn't do this without the Boss's help. I thanked him in advance, then wrote a strongly worded request that he participate in the new, higher rent I'll be paying. It's a delicate matter, because he's a ticking time bomb under the best of circumstances. You can never be sure what might set him off, and I've seen him at his worst. So far, it's never been directed at me, in over thirteen years. I'd prefer to keep it that way, but he can't afford to turn me down any more than I can afford to have him do that.

For years, I've been listening to people tell me that he's taking advantage of me, even people that have more stake in his life than mine. His girlfriend regularly encourages me to stand up to him. Now the chorus is getting a little louder. I'm not one to rock the boat, but I've been drifting in the doldrums for a long time. Could it be time to make some waves?

Since I couldn't reach the Boss by phone all weekend, I faxed the note to his office, letting him know what was going on. I did that this afternoon, after using a company check to pay the deposit on my new place. (Oh, yes, I told him that, too.)

I've been telling people I've lived here ten years, but I was going through some old paper journals tonight and found this:

March 26, 1988. Moving again! I signed a rental agreement for the place on Brookwood today. I showed up at 1:45 and met Peggy, who has been living there. She had only good things to say about Gloria and Alva, the landladies, who got there about 2:00. Alva didn't want to make another trip up from Marin, so since I was the first one there, I got it. I paid first and last month's rent plus a $200 deposit, for a total of $1,200. I left a note for the managers at Hopper Lane that I would vacate in thirty days, and that I would pay the pro-rated portion of the rent on the first.

This move came a week after I got a note from the Hopper Lane people that I was in violation of my lease because I had a cat. They gave me five days to get rid of Webster, so I packed up all his things and took him to stay with Suzanne and John until I could figure out what to do. He was miserable there. He wouldn't eat and was keeping the whole family awake at night.

March 22, 1988. I decided that since I am going to move anyway I might as well bring him home. He hadn't eaten and was acting really weird over there, slinking around and growling a lot. As soon as I got him home he ate half a bowl of food, and by late tonight he seemed normal again.

Two days later I got another note from the managers.

To get into the new place, I'd had the Boss sign a letter saying that I made more money than I did. This was to allow them to charge me more rent than I could afford. At that time I'd been with the Company just a year and a half, so I didn't have the leverage I have now.

I called the previous tenant of my new place tonight. She had left a washer and dryer behind, and I took them off her hands for a hundred dollars. I asked what I should know about the place, and she said it was a great place to live, and that she wouldn't have moved, except that she'd bought a house. She told me the neighbor kids get rowdy sometimes, but that she hadn't had any real problems with them. Before I hung up, she threw in a ceiling fan as part of the washer-dryer deal.

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