Chapter 7: Bookmaker Jake Gets a Life (June 2012 - Fall 2013)
Soon after my dream of dishwashing died a swift death at the hands of the Moon Colony I started a new working role as Delivery Driver for a restaurant supply business in NW Portland called "Bargreen-Ellingson." As it goes, it wasn't long before I was calling my new corporate person "Mr. Bargreen," much to my coworkers' chagrin.
I'm generally a known antagonist of employment of any kind, but I was surprised to find that becoming a Delivery Driver for Mr. Bargreen had its benefits. One of which was working 4-10s, which gave me Mondays to rewrite sections of The Living City in preparation for my second run. The other was the fantastic fact that I spent most of my workday running the "Gresham route" and the "Salem and North Salem routes" all by my lonesome. I haven't had this much head time at a job since dishwashing at Signal Mountain Lodge, or of course working for Bob the Crystal Miner. This is hard to say, but I almost like this role. The people I work with are interesting, complex characters...and I've finally found a form of employment that has the stability I need to resocialize myself from my mental health adventures in Wallowa County and the summer I spent mostly alone, bookmaking and working for Bob in the Northern Cascades.
In any case, once I mastered my new role, I put my mind to selling books. In July I produced my first real book selling scene at the NW Book Fair. It was great. Emily and I set up "our home" in the 10x10 space we were allotted in Pioneer Courthouse Square, where I made and sold books. One of my favorite was the Voodoo Donut Book, which featured a book material seeking adventure behind the Golden Door and a number of fun interactions with the locals. That book sold before I was done with it. Here's a shot of the young woman who bought it. She was shopping with her mother in law. They were a riot, and so was our other amazing adventures that day!
Next up was Wordstock in October. I thought the home theme we set our booth with in Pioneer Courthouse Square worked, so I decided to do it again, with gusto. Mr. Bargreen came to my aid and allowed me to use my delivery truck to haul our kitchen props and most of our living room to the Convention Center.
Our weekend at Wordstock felt like a wild ride through almost every emotion in the bag. The Wordstockers showed me a lot of interest and attention, and I was able to sell a number of my favorite books almost immediately. It felt great to see people's eyes light up when they read my wacky bookmaking adventures. By the end of Saturday I'd made myself a nice-sized pile of pressed and dyed green fibers.
The next day wasn't as light. My Grandma (the Hub) had some sad news for us. Her lifelong friend and lover Leon had died. We spent a good part of Sunday morning talking about him. He was a great guy. He used to take my grandma and I to the Village Inn for dinner after I'd spent a long day stacking hats for my grandma's business the Brass Needle. I didn't make or sell many books that day, but I can't think of a day that spoke more to the spirit of The Living City than that. There I was in Our Home away from home I'd set up in the Convention Center (of all strange places) surrounded by my supporting cast of friends and family, eating Emily's homemade cookies and our homemade salsa, enjoying our time together while I worked. Sometimes dreams do come true. Ha! Take that reality!
After Wordstock I settled into my Monday routine of drinking beer, doing laundry, and rewriting the parts of The Living City my Editor and Chief (Emily) kindly said needed some tender loving care. In spite of what Bob says I think my writing scenes can and should be counted in the overall work of a bookmaker. I think it's weird how we've managed to split the work of bookmaking into two characters: the Author, and the Factory Workers who crank out the Author's products for him. I mean, it seems like such a downer to do all that work writing a story only to pass the fun part to some bored factory worker somewhere far away...
Anyway, as I settled into my Mondays and my new route-running scenes, other more important parts of my life began to heat up when Emily and I decided to get married. After a lot of conversation and a night of writing, we decided to engage ourselves in the small coastal town of Newport, Oregon where we'd already spent many happy moments.
There we had fun taking turns proposing to each other. My favorite moment was when Emily and I walked out into the ocean in the wind and the rain, and I asked her for her hand in marriage. I expected that we'd then both "take the plunge," but as soon as she said "Yes! Yes! I will!" she ran for the shore, and I ran for the ocean where I took the plunge. It was a hoot. I swear I met my character Bill the Bum that night at a park where I made split pea soup to celebrate our engagement. I bought a homemade leather lighter holder from "Bill," and then I invited him to join us. He asked if the pea soup had ham in it. When I said it didn't, he politely took his bow and left our scene.
From there I/we decided that we should spend our winter and spring training for my first marathon with our good friend and badass Plaid Pantry Manager Jim Clem. It was great. I loved our runs in Forest Park. And yes Jim, I even loved all the fucking crazy hills you ran us up. It was fun to spend time running together. As it goes in The Living City, doing some kind of work with someone (even something as pointless as running a marathon) is the best way to get to know them. I don't know how people do relationships without work. I mean really, what can you learn about someone sitting calmly at a bar, or church audience, or school room, or a movie theater without some sort of conflict to test the limits of their character?
Speaking of which, the spring also brought another round of dialogue with my Uncle Jim. The drama that unfolded took an ugly turn. In short, try as we might, communication between us was just not happening. The result of the drama was a moment where I signed over my authority to be his Payee back to him, which was good. He's not a helpless child, and I'm far cry from being his parent, or doctor, or some other person who's willing to actively govern his life like it was their own.
After our marathon (twice around Timothy Lake on Mt. Hood) where I almost lost my shit and balled like a newborn when we gave each other a group hug at the finish line, our attention shifted to the mission of putting together a wedding scene. It was a lot of work, but Our Wedding Story turned out better than I'd imagined. Most of our friends and family were able to make the journey to Silver Falls State Park where we were married in an open meadow beside the New Ranch, a large complex thing with a kitchen and bunks for our guests. The moments we made that weekend are too numerous to share here, but feel free to check out Our Vows and the program for Our Wedding Story. If you've read The Living City some of those lines should seem familiar...
Our honeymoon was spent in a canoe on the Green River in Utah, on the great recommendation of our friends Glen and Sue. My favorite memory was drinking wine in the middle of a wicked storm where the rain evaporated before it hit the ground. The wind was so fierce we had to stand outside our tent and hold it to the shore. We had more fun memories (and a few sexy ones), but I don't feel obligated to share them with you now. Maybe some other time.
That's my sexy, adventurous Wife! and here's the storm shot...
Two weeks later, Emily and I were setting up Our Home again under the shadow of Seattle's Space Needle for Bumpershoot 2013.
It felt good to get back to bookmaking, and it feel even better to get so much interest and attention from the Bumpershooters.
As of September 8th, I'm plotting to transform again into Bookmaker Jake for another showing at Wordstock. I'm sure it will be a blast. What could go wrong? We just ran a marathon, wrote an outstanding wedding story, adventured down the Green River, took Seattle Bumpershooters by storm, maintained our employable roles for the rent dollars, and fed Pip the Jungle Cat every morning at five. Is there anything we can't do?