riffing at 3 a.m.

It’s 3 a.m. and Mango woke me up to go outside but then couldn’t hold it and peed on the welcome mat while I was pulling my jeans on. Which is just as well. This neighborhood isn’t great and it’s 3 a.m. and I’d have to walk him three flights down and I’m tired.

Can’t get back to sleep, though, which is unusual. Which is unusual. [Editor’s note: I’d normally scrap the repetition, but in honor of the fact that it was 3 a.m. and I was kinda delirious, I’m gonna leave it.] But to be honest this is the first in three nights I’m not getting into bed drunk. Maybe that’s a factor. What’s actually on my mind, though, is a tight money situation which’s been exacerbated for the past couple months by an employer who hasn’t paid me since April and who’s now ignoring my texts. Which is not unusual. I don’t know what to do. Send another text? If so, in what tone? Do I belabor the gravity of my situation? That’d suppose he cares. This employer of mine is a fan of that famous FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss, who said in his book Never Split the Difference that, if the person you’re negotiating with suddenly goes quiet, and you’re tryna bring them back into the conversation, you should ask a question that’s meant to illicit a “No” rather than a “Yes”.

So there’s a guy in a bank with a gun, let’s say. You’re the hostage negotiator and you’ve been talking to him on the phone for five hours, making arrangements, and suddenly he stops talking. Rather than asking him, “Are you still there?” you should ask, “Are you backing out of our agreement?” Not sure why this supposedly works so well, but the book’s crazy famous and this is one of its most-championed bitsa wisdom.

So I’m wondering if I should ask this employer, “Hey, are you backing out of our agreement?” The risk, though, is that he’ll just say yeah and never pay me.

Anyway. I’m out here on the sofa with a notebook and the little wooden lapdesk I got from my mom’s place during the move. Mango’s chewed and scratched himself to sleep beside me again. He’s been doing a lot of that the past couple days. Needs a bath.

Back to the money thing: I’m still in one of these situations where being just a couple hundred dollars off the mark in a given month will throw me completely off balance, financially, for the next two months. I’m always kinda dog paddling to get my finances in order.

My dad took me for dinner tonight to Rey de Las Fritas on 8th street and 17th and when he rubbed his beard and asked what I was planning to do about the money thing I just shrugged, bit my tongue, cuz he’s quick to tell me I’m being pie in the sky to be thinking that the Project will soon turn profitable: the podcast, the posts, the book proposal, the novel, Philicio Nightly.

He’s gentle about it, but quick.

I’m really not sure how this p(l)ays out.

3 a.m. isn’t a bad time to write, actually. And 10 p.m. wasn’t a bad time to go to bed. I think Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, and Don Winslow, of my beloved Cartel trilogy (I reviewed the most recent volume at Open Letters Review), wake up at this hour. World’s asleep. So quiet it almost feels like there’s a hum.

This money thing. Boy.

Reminds me of this Mario Puzo interview on Charlie Rose where he’s talking about his life before The Godfather. Anonymous, poor. Says he’d get a flat tire and not sleep for two days, thinking about the ripple effect of that flat tire. Means, conceivably, that he’s gotta take the bus to work, adding a coupla hours to his commute, which means less time for writing, etcetera. (Puzo, incidentally, is the big guy in the photo at the toppa this post.)

Money. Jeez.

It’s raining a little. That’s nice.

Somebody’s rolling a shopping cart along the sidewalk right below my window. It’s almost 4 a.m. Who could be doing that?

Anyway. Back to bed.

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