Since resuming work on the second draft, I’ve finished Chapter 28 and I’m about a third of the way through Chapter 29. Both chapters deal with the first four-year stint I spent living on the roof of an SRO hotel here in San Francisco. Up to this point, each chapter has dealt with much briefer time periods. But I’m into an extended denouement now, a gradual winding down of the story, where events began to happen at a much slower rate. But there’s no point in torturing the reader with all the details. I spent much of those four years simply pondering the previous twelve months, which had been extraordinarily difficult. I’d spent four of those months living right on the streets of Panic City.
From homeless to home owner.
The sheet rockers are gone now and the painter has begun work. Then the floors will either be sanded and refinished or totally replaced, depending on the condition of the fir boards under the current layer of decaying cork. It’s going to be another month or so before peace is restored around here. There was one strange discovery during the sheet rocking phase. Our house is shaped something like a barrack and was originally divided into a series of “stalls”—that is, small, individual rooms. At some point, a previous owner tore out the walls to make one big room. The wall behind our bed was made of old, cheap fiberboard, and when the sheet rockers pulled it off they discovered that it was a false wall thrown up over the original outside wall to the building. The wall contained two doors, both of which had been entrances to separate rooms. Before putting up the false wall, the previous owner wallpapered over one of the doors, but left the other as is. The curtain was still on the door. (Today, behind the wall is another room.) A lot of the older places here on Telegraph Hill were built like this. Completely improvised. They are funky, but they do have soul—something that you can’t buy, as the floor guy reminded me.