The great American novel and nowhere to write it

It seems a lot of writers have these great places where they can stay for free, in the woods of Canada or New Hampshire, and write their great American (Canadian?) novel. I don’t quite know how works out. I can’t afford to move, or quit my job even, much less move to the woods of Canada. Why I bet they wouldn’t even let me in there. I’ve never been to Canada but the general wisdom is that it’s full of nice people. Some might not find me so nice, at least sometimes. I get a bit grumpy with age and pain.

I know of people who say all Canadians aren’t nice. That doesn’t surprise me. I’ve been to Australia and New Zealand. I met a lot of nice people there. I also met a few who were real wankers. The same goes for people I met in the South Pacific and Indonesia.

The point is I am in this hotel room trying to find a halfway decent place to live or stay that costs next to nothing. It is funny, actually not, that this country is filled with empty houses. That is especially true with what the mortgage crisis. All these empty houses, and so many people who need a decent roof over their head.

I still can’t help but hang my head in disgust looking at the former Baptist Hospital of Southeast Texas, at the intersection of College and 11th streets in Beaumont. The five-story building built about 60 years ago has been empty nearly 10 years since the hospital was abandoned and rebuilt just to the east on College. The word is H-E-B — the big, San Antonio-based regional grocer — wants to raze the building and put in one of its superstores. That would be okay as well. This end of town needs such a store too where one can find all the fine foods, wines and cheeses.

I don’t care who moves in as long as someone will occupy all these empty buildings all over the place. Well, I’d hate to see a big 5-story building full of Al-Quida terrorists and rednecks and armed black African separatists. Although such a move might tend to “thin the herd” so to speak. A story I saw today says the Astrodome is suffering from neglect. Well, I hope they find some good use for it as well. But a lot of the houses from the mortgage meltdown will never be occupied. One day, maybe 10 or 15 or 20 years from now — those merely unoccupied homes will have become abandoned or used by the homeless or for crack houses and shooting galleries for heroin — will be torn down for someone bent on “urban renewal” or “gentrification” or one of those four-cent words public administrators and planners love to use. Until then, people say: “Gimme shelter.”

And don’t forget I could use a nice place in the woods to write my book as long as it is not in Canada, or anywhere outside of Southeast Texas for that matter.