Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Poo on your christmas wreath


Today begins the great christmas migration. You know what I have to say about christmas? I say phooey. Bah humbug. Shark farts. Blerg. Pick your outburst. That's how I feel about christmas.

Now it's time to go run the last 9 errands I need to get done before we board the bus for the first leg of our centipedinal* trip.

*yes, I just made an adjective out of a disgusting many legged pest. google said it was okay.

Today's picture is of Beaky, the famous prospect park goose that is missing the top half of his beak. He was being fed by a friendly lady that comes to the park almost every day in the winter. When he ate, his tongue mushed around like a baby gumming a bagel. See a larger version here.

Monday, December 21, 2009

fumbling in the snow

like ants to a bowl of cheerios

Last night when I closed my eyes to go to sleep, all I could see was the mottled surface of snow. I spent a few hours walking through prospect park with my camera(s) yesterday morning, and it seemed like nearly every square inch of snow was disturbed by the feet of crying children and the parents trying to console them. It was almost comical how many kids were walking around bawling over how cold they were or whatever inane reason that shattered their world of the moment. I felt especially bad for one guy who had not one but three kids around the age of eight crying their eyes out as he ushered them to the grand army exit.

One of my favorite things about snow is the quietness of it. The other day someone told me that I fetishize austerity, which I of course denied, but the more I think about it, the more I agree. Less "morally strict" and more "markedly simple" (although if you ask charrow, I make everything a lot more complicated). Anyway, it's hard to find quiet in a city with about 35,000 people per square mile. But the sledders thinned out as I slogged my way further into the park, and I could finally hear the sound of my own footsteps. The only people willing to cut through the midsection of park were the cross country skiers, the occasional runner, and a friendly horseback rider. It was nice to feel like I was actually alone in the woods instead of like one more member of a congested snow globe.

Speaking of austerity, I brought 3 cameras to the park yesterday (there's a difference between fetish and execution): the holga, which I promptly dropped in the snow the moment I took it out of my bag, a canon F-1 SLR from the 70's and my regular digital SLR. I felt like a technowhore at one point because I had both SLRs slung over my shoulder for easy access. I haven't used a film camera since I was about 16, and it was a run of the mill automated squint and click camera. Using an SLR that required manual focusing and film advancing took some getting used to. Several times I had a shot lined up and pushed down on the shutter button only to find that I hadn't advanced the film since the last shot. It's kind of like driving a stick for the first time. You have about 5 different things to think about at any given moment and when you're first learning there's no fluidity to the process. Towards the end of my walk, I started to get the hang of it, but my digital reliance reared its head again when I tried to rewind the film. Having spent a good deal of time trying to figure out how to even open the film door (talk about IQ test flashbacks), I thought I knew how to rewind the film. But when I started cranking the rewind lever, I heard a few creaks and then the lever lost its tension, spinning around like a stripped screw.

In order to get the film out of the camera, I had to take it into the closet and figure out if it was jammed or if I could roll it up manually by turning the top of the film canister. As I fumbled around in the dark, I realized that the film had completely separated from the canister, so I had an empty canister on one side and a used roll of film on the other side. Not so useful. I called LTI, the photo lab I used to develop the Holga prints, and Justin walked me through the process of hand rolling the film so I could bring it in for development. This involved another trip to the closet and duct taping the cheap plastic film container because it wasn't the usual opaque version. Long story not so short, I am grateful that Justin was patient with my complete lack of knowledge once again, and hopefully my ridiculous efforts will be rewarded with a few decent photographs.

Friday, December 11, 2009

the minimalist grinch

double yellow

It's so cold outside that I could barely smell the clump of pine trees sitting outside of the market on the way home from the Q train. Back when I used to carry a wallet, I would stick a piece of christmas tree in one of the credit card slots so I could hold on to that tangy clean smell into the month of January. It lasts longer than you would expect.

My holiday smashup interlude: Deck the halls with boughs of credit cards. Tis the season to be whiney. Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to ride in a bumpy crowded bus. Hey!

I don't recommend reading The Road right before or after any major American holiday (especially 2 in a row that have morphed into times of rampant consumption/consumerism). It's strychnine for holiday cheer, not that I'm generally brimming with cheer this time of year. I finished The Road on a marathon bus ride home from Thanksgiving in MD. 4 hours turned into 6.5 thanks to a very clogged jersey turnpike. It was just long enough to make it through the book and then be thoroughly exhausted from the stress of worrying over the two main characters. Within the first 5 pages, I wanted to skip to the end just so I could have some peace of mind about where things were headed. I held off for maybe 30 more pages, but then I skimmed willy nilly at the beginning of each new situation because I just couldn't take the suspense (not that the knowledge made it any less stressful).

I'm not sure I should have read this book, given my tendency toward nihilism, but 2 people within 4 hours of each other basically threw it at me. I went to a friend's for dinner the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and she mentioned how great the book was. Then when charrow and I got back to her parents house, her sister told me (with no knowledge of the friend's recommendation) that she had just bought The Road at the airport because she needed something to read and I had to borrow it when she finished. Coincidence and masochism made it impossible to resist.

Among the many residual feelings I've had about the book is a hyperawareness of waste. Just last night, we made a squash vindaloo from a reliable cookbook that turned out to be almost inedible. The amount of clove the recipe called for was the culprit. There is absolutely no way to cover up too much clove. Blech. After eating our small portions (neither of us could force ourselves to eat very much of it), we decided, with much regret, that we would have to throw out the remainder of the disaster. Short of leaving it outside for a desperate passerby to take, there was nothing to be done. I guess we could have thrown out half of it and added more of the ingredients to even out the clove, but the nausea induced from eating it the first time made this a very unappealing option. We will not be cooking with clove for a very long time. Anyway, the point wasn't to berate clove, it was to say that throwing out perfectly good (but oh so bad) food was horrifying.

Do you know what else is horrifying? Christmas stores. The ones that only sell christmas decorations and wrapping paraphernalia. The frenzied consumerism of Christmas in general is pretty appalling. Now, I'm not saying that I'm immune to materialism. If you put a striped object of any kind in front of me, I would probably salivate and rip it from your hands. But this reflexive consumerism is definitely something I'd like to temper. Knowing that there are people out there that don't even consider the concept of moderation is seriously depressing. So many of us are governed by an overriding sense of entitlement coupled with a definition of success that hinges on the act of having. I can't handle an environment as stark (or as terrifying) as The Road, but I would definitely like to move in the direction of minimalism. I know there are a couple of you that just shook your heads in dismay. That's right, I said minimalism. How this can be accomplished living in a city as overwhelming as New York, I'm just not sure.

I'm also not sure where I'm going with this gripe session. I intended to write about The Road* and now I'm off in ascetic grinch land. This time of year always puts me in a wonky mood for so many more reasons than consumerism. Write this one off to an extremist frame of mind and an overwhelming sense of guilt after having tossed out enough food for 4 people.

*I know The Road has nothing to do with the minimalist lifestyle, but the whole time I was reading it, I couldn't stop thinking about the simplicity of having everything you own and need with you in a bag or a shopping cart.

Monday, November 16, 2009

back to pre-

toy messenger

I took a walk through prospect park with a friend yesterday, and as we dodged baby strollers and bewitching dogs, I gave her a brief update on my physical health. At least it was intended to be brief because talking about it usually upsets me to the point of tears, but the laundry list of things holding me back keeps getting longer. It feels childish to be so dramatic about it because I haven't been diagnosed with some dreadful disease or syndrome or life threatening -itis. I'm not losing my hair or being pumped with death stalling toxins. I don't need machines to take a breath. Things could be much, much worse.

But it's hard to care about worse, when I am constantly reminded of how much better it could be. Literally everywhere I go, I see someone jogging. Or cycling. Or walking home sweaty from whatever their choice form of torture was for the day. I just finished reading Born Round (highly recommend it), and exercise is mentioned ad nauseum. If you google depression and exercise, the majority of the hits will detail all the ways in which exercise can create a bridge to cross the moat out of your Dark place. Or it can contribute to better sleeping patterns, which in turn can allow you to juggle your misery with care. Or it helps with weight loss, which might be the tug on your self-esteem that has you out of sorts.

Where is the literature on how to escape the depression that ensues when you can't put on your running shoes for more than a 30 min walk? Where can I find an essay telling me I should be grateful for the fact that I can swim at the pool if I don't kick? Can someone tell me how to appreciate the incredible bike that's been sitting against the wall for over a year (minus a few trial runs just to see what would happen)?

Part of me has to wonder if it's all just a total mindfuck. Do I have some unconscious need to be thwarted every step of the way? Is that laundry list of aches and pains actually one item long (me)? I'm doing what I can to figure out if there's a legitimate physical cause for the escalating breakdown of this clunker I'm walking around in, but my patience is wearing pretty thin. I can barely make it through the park without wanting to trip every chirping runner I see.

So here's where we're going to get crafty. Today's picture is me, at age 2.75. Pre-injuries. Pre-emotional breakdowns. Pre-creating barriers at every turn. I'm going to play a little game with myself where I think about this picture (and a few others) whenever I start to get really negative. I'm going to relax*. And I'm going to breathe. Think what you will, but self-delusion works. At least that's what I'm going to tell myself.

*Take a second and notice if you're tensing something in your body. I find something virtually every time I do this. Hello, my name is Clenched, how are you?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

three cheers for freud

dekalb market bread

So far, it hasn't been the best of weeks. After a particularly acerbic morning, I went to the food co-op to shop for marinara ingredients. My mom is coming to town tonight, and in preparation for dinner on Wednesday, I'm cooking the family tomato sauce recipe because "spaghetti with tomato sauce" is her all time favorite dish. The recipe is one that my parents perfected through years of eating spaghetti basically every Monday and Friday night. Monday nights, they ate sauce from a jar (it was also, without fail, my night to do the dishes). Friday nights, they went to the local greek italian restaurant in the strip mall across the street from my high school. Every week, the owner, "Papa George," greeted my parents with an exuberant hello and tilted his head back to peer at the whole family through his thick glasses. Eventually, my dad asked "Papa," as we called him at home, to divulge the secret to his tomato sauce. Papa was more than happy to go over the list ingredients, although I'm guessing he left out a thing here or there because it never quite tasted the same at home.

At any rate, I was standing in the co-op near the avocados, checking my list, when I heard a little boy say, "Mommy why are you so dramatic??"

His mom said, "Why am I so dramatic?" She paused. "Because grandma made me that way!"

It made me laugh out loud and was enough to carry me through the rest of my shop without getting sucked back into the mental bog that accompanied through the sliding glass doors.

Monday, November 2, 2009

regular anger

blurry beast

I called the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) last week to make an appointment for an x-ray. The receptionist told me that she couldn't schedule an appointment until she had received a faxed copy of my x-ray script. I made a phone call to the administrative office of my chiropractor. They said, "Oh sure we'll fax that today and give you a call when it's done!"

I called HSS the next day and asked to schedule an appointment for an x-ray. "Have we received a copy of your script?" the receptionist asked. I said, with confidence that I had played the game correctly, "Yes you should have received that yesterday."


"I'm sorry, we don't have a script for you," you said.

"Okay, well I spoke to my my doctor's office and they called to specifically tell me that the script had been faxed, but I'll ask them again," I said.

"Yeah, we can't even begin to schedule an appointment without a copy of your script," she reiterated with no hint of responsibility for the delay.

So I called my doctor's office again, 3 days later because the previously dictated conversation happened on a Thursday and I didn't have time to make the call on Friday. The office agreed to fax the script over ASAP.

"So if I call in about an hour, they should have it?" I asked.

"Oh yes, definitely," said the office manager.

(after swimming at the Y and working a heinous co-op shift for my overbooked girlfriend)

I called HSS. "Hi I need to make an appointment for an X-ray."

"Do we have a copy of your script?"

"YES, you should have received that sometime this morning," I said firmly, knowing I had jumped through the shiny little hoop they threw at me last time.

"What's your first and last name?"

"XX Johnson"

"No, I'm sorry, we don't have a script here for you. You said XX Dunkin right?"

"NO XX JOHNSON" I said, losing my patience. I wondered if the last person I spoke to had overlooked my script because she too thought I was an heir to the donut chain.

"No ma'am, we don't have anything here for you. Is this for an MRI? or a cat scan?"

"No, this is for an x-ray," I said, wanting to scream at her that I had specifically said at the beginning of this asinine conversation that I needed to make an X-RAY appointment.

"Oh, you don't need an appointment for a regular x-ray" she said.


"If it's just a regular x-ray you don't need to make an appointment," she repeated.

"I called here last week to make an appointment and was told that I had to have my script faxed over before you could schedule anything and you're telling me that I don't even need an appointment? That would have been really great to know UP FRONT."

Silence. No apology. No empathy. No response whatsoever.

"What is the procedure you need done?" she asked, annoyed by my ignorance of what a regular x-ray means.

"It says lumbar spine, hip and pelvis. It's listed under general radiology. Is that regular?"

Sounds of page shuffling.

"I don't know ma'am, let me transfer you to that department."

If only I were a more explosive person. Instead, I got off the phone and literally couldn't move for about 10 minutes because I was so angry. I could have walked into this radiology clinic over A WEEK AGO and gotten the x-rays done. If my chiropractic office knew anything about the clinics that they recommended, they could have warned me that I don't need an appointment for a "regular" x-ray. If any one of the 3 people I spoke to at the radiology clinic had paid attention to the fact that I opened each conversation "I need to MAKE AN APPOINTMENT" they could have sent me on my appointment free way.

If I walk in there and someone tells me I need an appointment for my "regular" x-ray, I may have to be escorted off the premises by security.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

payment not due upon receipt

the elzer family legacy revealed

I'm not up to date on what's happening with the health care reform issue these days. I see the articles in the NY Times, I start to read the articles, and I promptly give up and move on to simpler pastures. As a frequent user of the health care system, it would behoove me to pay closer attention, but I've yet to find the patience to follow along.

Something else I don't have patience for is calling my insurance company to help me dissect the mound of medical bills on my coffee table (I leave them laying around so that eventually I'll get tired of envelopes spilling onto the floor and call the appropriate money sucking institution).

Today, I decided to tackle the pile. My usual strategy for the payment process is to scan the bill, attempt to decode the line items that indicate a payment responsibility and then write the check while cursing to an empty room (for the health of my relationship, it's best to do these things alone). The coward in me doesn't usually make a phone call to check on bills that are confusing or seem incorrect unless the balance is outrageous (e.g. the $990 bill that I received for 6 months and continued to receive after 3 phone calls to remedy the situation). I know, it's a horrible philosophy, and I'm sure I've padded more than my share of health care system's bottomless pockets. But today, when I started shuffling through the account statements, I got increasingly annoyed at just how much money I was expected to pay.

For example, I went to the ER at the beginning of the summer and paid a $150 co-pay for the visit. I received a bill from the hospital asking me to pay an additional $224. That would bring the grand total for my 4 hour visit in which I spent approximately 3 minutes talking to an ER doc to $374. Not even I, the supreme avoider of the phone, am willing to pay that much to circumvent having to explain the situation to my insurance company. One of the advantages to detesting the phone is that I have developed a very effective way of communicating the information that will get me off the phone the fastest. I can reduce a convoluted medical billing saga into about 3 sentences. Granted, it doesn't increase the likelihood that I will actually make the phone call, but when I finally do, the economy of words verges on graceful.

Five minutes after picking up the phone, I have explained the situation to Blue Cross, they've called the ignoramus hospital billing office, and the financial burden is no longer mine. You see, there's this little thing called a prefix in my insurance ID, and oh, by the way, it's kind of important. If you don't use it when filing a claim, the bill just sits in the local Blue Cross circuit taking little bites out of my credit score.

I remember from one of the few articles I've read on the subject that an overwhelming percentage of medical bills contain errors. I can attest to this fact because approximately half of the bills I've received in the last 3 months have been inaccurate in some fashion. If I'd gone about paying them with the usual haste, I would have shelled out upwards of $500 in erroneous charges.

Who knew channeling your Jewish girlfriend could be so lucrative?

Monday, October 26, 2009

not an idiot free zone

fall foliage, eh?

I observed a meeting today in which I heard the phrase "data free zone." It was mentioned in the context of basically flying blind and having no baseline data with which to formulate an evaluation of department functionality and employee productivity. (how's that for vague industrial organizational speak? it was more interesting than that, but this is the obscure, safe-for-the-internet version)

Lately it feels like I've been making decisions from a data free zone. This might sound counterintuitive to anyone who has witnessed the tower of index cards I've been studying for the last month. But memorizing the levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs has done little in the way of illuminating my own needs. Do I need a career path (read: letters after my name and a 10 year plan) or do I just need a job? Do I need to go back to a head shrinker or do I just need to find a way to hang out with a dog (or 4) every now and then? Do I need to read the blogs in my Monday/Wednesday folder or do I need to start putting a little more time and attention into my own creativity? (finally, a simple question)

Do I need to look up grad school application deadlines or can I just make them up and check on them after I take the subject test GRE? A crucial question that I failed to answer correctly. Apparently the ballpark January dates that I had floating around in my head were a little off. Far enough off that I have run for the hills of pusillanimity. (okay, I had to look that one up to make sure I used it correctly, but it has a nice ring to it doesn't it?) You may be thinking, December? That's 4 weeks from now. You can do so much in 4 weeks! And I'm thinking, wow that scorched smell must be coming from my new Nikes. Better go jump in a lake.

Or as my new spanish idiom book from the library says: mandó al diablo*

*the idioms don't account for the idiots trying to apply them to different verb tenses, so I know there's something wrong with the verb. i may have just told all of you to go jump in a lake. sorry.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

may the schwartz be good enough

berry infusion

Lately, I've been practicing my satisficing skills. What's that you say? Have I read yet another self-help book? Well, I don't know if it really falls under the umbrella of self-help ("science, society, and technology" according to the library), but I did just finish The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz (the urge to quote Spaceballs will eventually subside). It wasn't eye opening so much as eye bulging. Protuberating, if you will.

A little background information from the book: satisficers are people who have a set of criteria for a decision and once they have found something that meets those criteria, something "good enough," they stop looking, i.e. they don't worry about the possibility of something better. Maximizers (oh, the irony in this term), will continue information gathering until they've researched enough options to consider making the "best" choice.

Ding ding ding! Hello, and welcome to the first annual meeting of the maximizers. Who here spent over a month selecting their hotel accommodations? How long did it take you to get dressed this morning? And the mother of all questions, where in the world are you going to eat after the conference??

Now, I'm aware of my penchant for deliberation, but I was not cognizant of the cascade of negative emotions that accompany my prized thoroughness. Apparently, it's not productive to scour customer reviews for hours before buying the same ice cream maker that good friends of mine own and use constantly. Apparently, unearthing more choices is a recipe for experiencing loss, regret, and depression.

As Charrow can attest, I am a maximizer to the nth degree. She has had to watch me agonize over the trivialities of our everyday life for over 3 years now. I'm amazed she has the patience to weigh in anymore considering my neverending supply of rebuttals. We're talking life altering things like "where should I study this morning?" and "what should I have for a snack?" I've put off shopping for shoes that would help me get over the eternal foot plague because I knew that there were just too many options to choose from, and the moment I bought one of them, I would see something I'd rather have.* You can only imagine how well I deal with more important decisions.

This search for the best choice (there's that word again) is crippling and apparently far from advantageous. So I am practicing the real way to maximize choice: accepting that something is good enough and moving on to the next decision. For example, when I opened this blogger window, I had a minor palpitation at the prospect of deciding what to write about. Instead of stewing over what would be the most meaningful, or the most interesting, or fodder for the best picture (yet another decision that usually takes longer than necessary), I decided to discuss the book sitting right in front of me. And then, instead of staring off into space trying to conjure up a compelling hook, I took a stab at a shitty first draft.

And now, instead of rereading each paragraph and wondering if I could weave more anecdotes or one liners into this post, I'm going to consider it done.

*I finally bought non-converse shoes and my bobo foot is very grateful. The new shoes are causing a bit of an identity crisis considering how long I've worn chucks (pre-hipster, thank you very much), but I have to listen to the foot if I ever want to run again.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

nervous nelly

he suffers from too much attention

The other day as I was walking to the train after another sluggish swim at the Y, I noticed a dog with a serious case of the jitters. This dog was not of the usual ankle height, teeth baring breed. If I had to guess, I would say it was a sheep dog or collie mix -- something with potentially manic herding tendencies, but generally not the kind of dog you see cowering in the street.

This poor dog could barely walk a straight line because every second it was craning its neck to keep a 360 degree vigil on the world. Literally, every second. Meanwhile, the man holding the leash casually strolled along with his female companion, apparently unfazed by his dog's incessant full body twitch.

Now there's no telling where this dog's nervous energy came from. Maybe I mistook fear for an instinct to surveil his owner's path. Maybe the dog was a rescue and hadn't fully adjusted to the hectic sidewalks of New York. The dog's stride was so agitated that its body was cockeyed, and its turnover was nearly double his owner's, yet it remained a step or two behind.

Whatever the background story, it was an upsetting sight and it made me think about how much effort it takes to be frightened. There's no telling what I could do if I repurposed even half of the energy I spend on fear induced, though often high level, procrastination.

*today's picture is Simon the slimer. do not let his pathetic expression fool you.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

hello my name is thorn

my new vacation home

There's a passage in William Zinsser's book On Writing Well that encourages the writer to abandon the idea of being the best. I would directly quote the paragraph, but I had to give the book back to the library before incurring large fines. I'm trying something new where I actually adhere to due dates instead of assuming some far-off date and then being unable to put books on hold because I owe the library a small fortune.

Basically, Zinsser emphasizes the reality that there will always be someone out there who is better than you, so you can't get stuck on the idea of being best or you will never start whatever it is you want to be supreme ruler of. (look at that preposition left to fend for itself) I have a severe case of bestitis with a long list of comorbid conditions, such as negativitis, procrastinationitis, insecuritis, aloofitis. I'm here to tell you the combination is truly paralyzing. As many of you have noticed, my blog posting has slowed to a trickle. We're talking desert cactus proportions here. And do you know why? No, it's not because I've devoted my spare time to feeding the elderly or revitalizing parks. I'm stewing in a decoction of neuroses, turning up the burner by reading other blogs (or magazines or books or newspaper articles) that I deem far superior to anything I could ever produce.

Even as I type this, I'm thinking, "okay, how can I make this the best pathetic post ever."

Pursuing the best is making me a very stagnant person. I can't make decisions because I want to make the best one. I can't write posts because I know they won't be the best in the cloud. I can't post pictures to flickr because they're not in the best (i.e. retouched) condition yet. I can't decide on the best career path. I can't I can't I can't.

Enough with the bullshit. Or rather, the best shit. I don't let bestness get in the way of certain things, like swimming or running or cooking. Just the other day I had a horrible workout at the YMCA. It felt like I was trying to swim through molasses with limbs made of terry cloth. But I slogged from one end of my lane to the other, intent on reaching a goal of 25 minutes, and I left knowing that I would look forward to the next time. What's the difference between swimming and writing? Why can't I write a mediocre post, click publish and try again next time? There is no good reason to put writing (among other things) on the once-chance-to-get-this-right pedestal.

So, welcome to the recreational lane of blogging, where I attempt to doggy paddle and flutter kick my way from one end of the screen to the other. Goggles not required.

the wrap around

*the sand castle picture is from a contest that I stumbled upon last weekend at Rehobeth Beach

Thursday, July 23, 2009

i've been pollinated

Last Saturday, Charrow and I were lounging in prospect park when a butterfly skimmed over my hair and settled onto my stomach. For the purposes of not repeating the word butterfly (because it's such a floofy word and it makes me feel like I should be writing a discourse on woodland creatures), let's call my new friend Horace.

Horace stuck around for a good 2 or 3 minutes, resting on my light blue t-shirt and periodically sticking out his proboscis (or tongue, as I called it at the time). It was a remarkable sight. The slightest breeze jostled his wings and made the thousands of hairy projectiles covering his midsection ripple in the wind.

I have no idea what was so appealing about my outstretched stomach, but the visit was a welcome distraction from the self-pity I felt as I watched the pockets of sporting activities around me. My foot is nowhere near 100% (at least not when it comes to exercise), so going to the park to get some fresh air results in a mixture of severe jealousy and relaxation. I'm still swimming at the YMCA, but the summer camps have made it more complicated than I care for. Around 9am every day, the meager selection of lanes gets compacted even further to accommodate the 20 rambunctious campers that have apparently been waiting all their life to hear their voices echo off the walls in the pool area. Being a mediocre swimmer means I stick to the 2 slowest lanes depending on just how slow the "extra slow" lane is running. When the lanes are combined, all the people in the fast lanes get integrated with the slow swimmers. I have a hard enough time breathing without the stress of trying to stay out of Joe Speedo's way so I usually relinquish my spot and walk back to the Naked Place grumbling about those damn kids. It makes me feel geriatric in more ways than one.

Just when I was getting used to my winged visitor, he flitted off into the breeze and that was that. Until yesterday. I was sitting in prospect park, wearing the same light blue t-shirt, taking my shoes off, and as I shifted my socks from one hand to the other, a butterfly plopped down on my right hand. I have a feeling it was Horace, though I can't say for sure. But how many human hopping butterflies could there be in the exact same patch of grass that I had frequented less than a week before?

Horace came back twice in the time that I was sitting there reading and lusting after other people's dogs. On his first return trip, he landed on my left shin, tickling the hairs on my leg, which I have to tell you was too similar to how I imagine a spider would feel if one were to live long enough to crawl onto my person. But I kept my eye on Horace, willing my brain to think "butterfly" not "spider." His final visit was a brief perch on my blanket that I ruined by reaching for my camera. Every week my photography teacher at SVA says, in an attempt to keep us from taking pointless pictures, "remember, no butterfly collecting!" so I couldn't resist trying to get a shot of Horace. Alas, he wasn't game for my portrait taking.

**the picture for today looks washed out compared to the flickr version. anybody know why?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

cloudy with a chance of rain

This weekend felt like one long, restless nap.  The weather was shifty.  My mood was shifty.  The cats were not shifty.  Basically, I'm glad it's over, and I hope the sky decides to stop exploding.  

Thursday, June 18, 2009

it might just move you

If you have a taste for self-improvement shows, then I urge you to go to you tube and search for "You Are What You Eat BBC."  Be warned, this show will go against your American sensibilities of social propriety and decency towards other human beings.  Within minutes you will hear the word "poo" more times than you've ever heard it on any of our major TV networks.  And you will like it.  At least I do.  

It's basically a weight loss show that is nutrition and exercise based (shocking, I know).  There is a finite time period (8 weeks), but there are no Biggest Loser boot camp style implausibilities when it comes to exercise and weight loss expectations.  The subject (or subjects) of every show are significantly overweight and, more importantly, engaging in self destructive life style habits.  At the end of the 8 weeks, you won't see a sunken faced marathon runner.  Instead, the participants are still well away from their healthiest weight*, but they are more aware, more informed, and armed with a battery of constructive new habits.  

Can you tell I'm trying to make it palatable to the skeptics?  

Yes, the host is a heinous bitch sometimes, and she says things that are horrific even after you've gotten used to her no-nonsense delivery.  Yes, the show appeals to the sensationalism of just how much these people overeat and how inactive they are.  Yes, the narration is ridiculous and heavy handed with the puns.  But you know what? It's effective.  Even if you consider yourself to be self-aware and health conscious, you will learn things from this show.  If nothing else, it will give you good ideas for recipes.  Just the other day we experimented by making a lentil pie with squash/chickpea crust because it was mentioned in the meal plan for one of the participants.  And it was damn good.  

So please, give this poo smelling, rude awakening, accent laden** show a chance.  

*the show discusses weight in units of "stones" -- 1 stone = 14 pounds (in case you, too, are a sucker for calculations)
** sometimes the cockney is so thick that we have to rewind it to figure out what the heck they're going on about.  

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Drano required

I started the draft of this post with the words "blog: fail" which segued into one of those apologetic posts that I abhor where the author says their sorry for letting you live your life with one less web page clogging up your frontal lobe.  

Let's move on to a different kind of clog shall we.  

Namely my ears.  They are clogged with the chlorine saturated water of the Court St YMCA. I was under the impression that YMCA stood for Young Men's Christian Association.  Oh no.  I think it really stands for You May Catch sight of Ass (and I'm sure Ester will be back me up on this).  There is a constant stream of naked women ambling (and I mean ambling) through that locker room.  I know this makes me sound prudish and seems counterintuitive considering my experience with organized sports, but I find it jarring to open the door from the humid stairwell, tired and dazed from my swim, only to come face to cheek with a variety of wrinkles, tan lines, and states of verticality.  Didn't anyone's mother teach them not to bend over in front of people they're not biblically acquainted with?  (I know, I'm stretching it a little too far because anyone who knows me would scoff at my bad attempt at biblical humor.) 

The good news is that the only discomfort I've experienced thus far at the Y has been in the sea of nipples and discarded towels.  My foot is holding up extremely well.  No more clunky walking boot!  I've moved on to the custom orthotics recommended by my GQ podiatrist.  My walking speed still leaves something to be desired (especially when I'm trying to navigate the Naked Room).  If I were living in some other half awake city this would be no problem, but around here the pace of pedestrians is so breakneck that I feel like I have to constantly peer around to make sure I'm not clogging up the sidewalk.  (I'm rusty.  Let me have my words.)  I wish there was a way to let people know that while I have no visually evident impairment sans boot, I'm still not physically capable of sprinting through the subway stations.  Maybe if I walked around naked people would give me a wider berth.    

Thursday, May 21, 2009

fast track to nowhere

We've been making small changes to the apartment (small compared to the painting ordeal), one of which is the addition of shamrocks. Charrow bought 2 shamrock plants, one very hearty looking specimen and one very spastic, but cheerful little guy.

That is, it was cheerful. Direct quote as she lamented the loss of flowers: "I was so busy worrying about it that I forgot to water it!" Oops.

The cherry tomato plant that we bought at the co-op is faring much better. It's burst out of the mesh cat-proofing device and is growing at a rate of 1-2 inches a day. Who knows if it will produce any tomatoes, but it smells good and it makes our window look like a miniature veggie patch.

In other news, it seems that my swine flu mockery has finally come back to haunt me. I've been feeling like someone shoved my head under a garbage truck for the past couple of days. Hopefully the sickness reached its pinnacle with my yak attack this morning. I was so worried (as I am wont to do when it comes to disease) that I went to the ER.

Boy was that a mistake. I could have spent the day resting and couch surfing with the animals. Instead, I shifted around in an uncomfortable waiting room chair listening to women shout out answers to "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" and give their two cents about the soap opera actors. When I finally made it back to the treatment area, it was only to be shunted from one area to the next. I started out in the Fast Track area, which let me tell you was anything but fast, and then some nurse decided that I should be moved to the Urgent Care area, which again, did not live up to its name. 4 hours later, I walked back to the train with a ditto of how to treat a Viral Syndrome (if you experience convulsions, come back to the emergency room!) and a co-pay that was way more than the $5.29 bottle of Ibuprofen that I should have bought in the first place.

It does not pay to be a hypochondriac.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

hazmat suit required

Our apartment has become an unofficial Hot Zone. No, I don't mean we're baking because of the spike in temperature (yay for sprummer! or springer? or maybe springummer? sprimmer?) I'm talking about a virus shedding, wheezing, squeaking hot bed of sickness. Poor Charrow has been coughing and miserable for 5 days straight. She sounds like a combination of a plastic t-bone with an overextended squeaker and a Disney cartoon truck sputtering its last gasp of exhaust before collapsing in a heap. It's not pretty. Although it is comical when she manages to eek out a mangled version of her voice that sounds more like Sloth than Charrow. I mock her because I have yet to come down with the whatever variety of flu she's hosting. Let's hope it's not as swinelike in nature as some of her vein popping coughs.

Now would be a good time to own an ice cream machine.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

won't you be my umbrella?

It's another soggy day in the neighborhood. The fledgling leaves on the currently unidentified tree outside the window are a vibrant green against the muddled brownstones. The workmen across the street have moved on from swiping at the remnants of an old piano (producing a dissonant sound that made me feel like I was in a Hitchcock movie) to making an incessant racket with some sort of jackhammer/stone grinding tool. The noise is reminiscent of the cacophonous MRI experience last week. I had no idea MRI machines were so loud. It was like being stuck in a washing machine strapped to the hood of an 18-wheeler while someone took a jackhammer to the toploading door during the spin cycle.

At any rate, it's raining again, which is doing absolutely nothing for my already tenuous mood. My foot is a light shade of purple, and my brain is in serious need of a kick-start. I don't know if it was the hours I lost to this blog* (rabbit hole induced dysphoria?) or the time spent painting in the confines of the bathroom at the 13th street Joe the Art of Coffee (toxin induced depression?), but for the past 48 hours I've been hazy at best and as soggy as the weather at worst.

I'm guessing the root of my problem is three fold:

1. I have yet to join the Y, which means I have't exercised in over 4 weeks, unless you count crouching with a paintbrush in a bathroom or using power tools in the kitchen. This is akin to leaving my hippocampus in the sun to shrivel up like a raisin. I hate raisins.

2. I am having serious Path oriented anxiety and indecision.

3. Upon further reflection, there is no third fold. All other issues stem from the first two folds in one way or another.

So, where to go from here? Nowhere for the moment. My bulbous foot needs a break from all the non-exercise activity I've been putting it through. But I can't stay in this dank brain space for much longer or you will be subjected to more blathering posts, and I will continue to inflict misery upon myself and the closest victim (i.e. the needy one and poor, overworked Charrow).

The Wise and All Knowing InterWeb says that it takes 21 days to create or break a habit. I don't feel like searching for the best link to convey this wisdom, so google it for yourself and see how many different Paths to Freedom you can find under the 21 day umbrella. I mock only the worst of examples because, ultimately, I believe there's some credence to the idea.

So for the next 21 days I'm going to make it a point to do at least one thing each day to combat this habit of self pity and avoidance that I've been nurturing lately. I won't bore you with a daily edition of my woo woo endeavors, but I will let you know if something interesting comes out of the woodwork during my attempt to identify what's Next.

* highly recommend this blog, but beware if you're weak in the ways of moderation and/or need to be productive

Friday, April 17, 2009

warming the bench

The diagnosis from my GQ podiatrist (relationship status: unknown), is that I do not have any sign of a fracture, old or new (old or new!), non-union, or otherwise. I do, however, have two torn ligaments in my sesamoid complex (i.e. the ligaments that make up the joint of your first toe), and a hearty case of sesamoiditis.

Both GQ man and I were confused as to how I could have torn ligaments when such an injury is usually caused by on obvious precipitating event. Perhaps it was an overzealous game of Settlers? Maybe I got too excited jumping down from the ladder while I was painting? Could it have happened while ferrying my dead motorcycle back and forth across the street?

It remains a mystery. A very painful mystery.

My plan of action is to hobble over to the Court Street YMCA, sign up for a family membership and resign myself to another summer of swimming. Sound familiar? I'm more enthused about swimming this year, but I still secretly want to throttle all you cheerful people in your matching running gear.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

attach item Q with fastener 3R

What's the best thing you can do when you're stuck in your apartment with a busted foot and 2 exceptionally needy cats*? Go into home improvement overdrive! The exhaustion from working all day will prevent your throbbing foot from keeping you awake at night and the loud noises will force the cats to retreat, thus providing you with a safer pathway from project to project.

Okay, so I may be spending too much time on my foot, but I managed to take a break every hour or so to sit down and read my overdue library book. Today's accomplishments include finishing the kitchen walls (which included an undesirable foray into the roach corner), hanging many (many) Ikea organizing gizmos, and when I finish writing this post I'm going to make a stir fry.



(The waffle iron looking contraption is a collapsible dish rack)

Has my domesticity put you to sleep yet? Too bad. My parents used to watch This Old House** every weekend, so I've been conditioned to get a kick out of drilling holes and leveling shelves. It was either listen to Bob Vila (or his successor Steve Thomas) talk about laying bathroom tile or watch Greg Norman agonize over a putt for nine and a half hours. I'll take grout work over the PGA any day. Hell, I'd watch Norm use a router before I'd watch golf.

*the squinting hairball pictured today is not one of the aforementioned co-dependent wretches
**currently working on a brownstone in Prospect Heights, which I found out from my grandmother who was very excited to tell me that the streets of Brooklyn have trees.

Friday, April 10, 2009

podiatrists are the new black

Have you ever had a cortisone shot? As of today, I've had two, and I'd like to keep it that way for, oh, the rest of my days on this asphyxiating planet. If for some reason there are retirement communities on the moon by the time I reach the age of necessity, I don't want one there either.

I came back early from our Passover stay in Jewville (Chevy Chase, MD) to see a podiatrist on the upper west side. The first half of my day was spent mouth breathing on an 8am Vamoose bus and botching the subway trip from Penn station up to 86th St. Normally, I'm not pushy about squeezing into a seat on the subway, but for the past week I've been experiencing some serious foot pain. The walking boot that I've been wearing feels like a free pass to shimmy into what would be normal sized seats were it not for men sitting with their legs agape. The worst moment of my backtracking trip was when a 40-something couple dawdled their way in to the seats that had emptied out right in front of me. If you're going to steal seats from the temporarily handicapped, do it quickly.

I made it to the appointment with enough time to fill out the paperwork and absorb the wisdom of whatever Vanity Fair issue was at the top of the magazine stack. And then, for the first time that I can remember, the doctor walked into the waiting room reading the intake form. I was thankful that I hadn't followed through on my burning desire to write "pain in my ***" in the chief complaint section. When I imagined the scenario playing out, I figured the doc probably wouldn't bother giving it a glance. Good thing I'm a chicken.

Or rather, good thing I found a doctor who reads. He's also a compact GQ poster boy. I'm not sure what alternate universe I found on W. 85th Street, but the doctor was attentive, attractive (not that this has anything to do with effective medical treatment, but when you think podiatry, do the words metrosexual come to mind? didn't think so), empathetic, and prompt.

The short version of what he said is that I may have an old fracture (from last year) that didn't heal properly, and there's a chance that it's a "non-union", a word you don't want to hear in the same sentence as fracture. Or it's just a bad case of sesamoiditis. Or maybe there's a new stress fracture.

Whatever the case may be, GQ man wooed me into agreeing to a cortisone shot. After the chair grabbing, eye squeezing, ow-ow-ow-ing was over, he told me that when you insert a needle it either feels like it's going through butter or tinfoil. Guess which one my joint felt like? I thought the water balloon feeling* was going to be the worst part, but it was actually the sensation of being a human kebab for about 25 seconds.

Here's a wry twist of fate for you: GQ man's office is right across the street from Central Park, so I got to watch people running through the park as I squelched my way back to the train station.

Excuse me while I ice my reynolds wrap and curse the birds announcing Spring outside my window.

*balloon feeling = the cortisone fluid whoosing into your joint making it feel like a water filled sac, or balloon.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

fool or ghoul?

(glasses: charrow's. attempt at a funny face: my mom's.
for more of both: go here)

I've never constructed an elaborate April Fool's Day caper. I prefer to go for short-lived shockers, like scaring my mom by hiding in the laundry room wearing a ghoulish mask, or environmentally annoying pranks, such as filling a co-worker's office with balloons**.

This year I decided to prey on the reputation of my new city.

The text to charrow read "I went to move my moto and ITS GONE."

Her reply said "Oh no!"

Shocked at the brevity of her response and unsatisfied with the climax of my plan, I cut the joke short and wrote "that's all you have to say?? good thing it's april fool's day." Her subsequent texts revealed a lack of amusement ("I hate u. Good luck finding a new gf").

As I chopped basil for my omelet, I considered another victim. Someone who would be more apt to react with horror and dismay at the misfortune I'd experienced in this predatory city.

The text to my mother said "Give me a call when you have a chance. Someone stole my moto and I don't know what to do!"

I put my phone down feeling sure that she would see through my ruse. Or worse yet, she would leave an important meeting to call me immediately, thus securing both my success and remorse for having duped her.

Two minutes later, the phone rang as I was coaxing an egg yolk from one half-shell to the other trying to keep my fingers out of the runny stream of egg white. Potential lines raced through my head as I rinsed my hands and picked up the phone.

"Hi," I said, closing my throat so the words came out strained.

"I'm so sorry." I searched her voice for a stifled smile, still not convinced that she believed me.

"I went to outside to move the bike and it wasn't there."

"Did you call the police? Do you think it was towed?"

"I don't know. There aren't any signs with phone numbers for towing companies. I knocked on the super's door, but he didn't answer." [pause] "Mommy..."

I admit. The whining was a low point. I'm not proud of it, but for a minute I actually believed that my motorcycle was gone. As I was saying the words, I could picture myself knocking on Norman's door and being crestfallen at the lack of response.

"What am I supposed to do? It's not even registered in NYC."

"Well that's okay. You tell them that you just moved there," which is mom speak for you tell them that you're new to that godforsaken city and that someone stole her baby's property!

"But what about my insurance? I haven't switched it over to NYC yet."

"It doesn't matter, you're still covered. That's why you have insurance."

"And that's why it's April Fool's Day."

There was a sharp intake of breath and what followed was a string of profanity that included such choice phrases as "[insert full name], I can't believe you, you can just kiss my ass!" She repeated it over and over like a mantra for abused mothers everywhere. Never have I heard her utter those words with such contempt.

"But mom," I said, "wasn't that better than jumping out at you with a mask??"

She didn't agree with me, but at least she laughed in the middle of a work day.

** I'm especially proud of this prank because it involved stealing the master key from a secretary's desk and coming back to work after hours with garbage bags full of balloons to infiltrate my co-worker's perpetually locked office.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

primed for disaster

I enjoy painting about 10 times more than the next person, but I think I’ve had my fill. First there was the bedroom nook, which thus far has been the simplest part of the process. 2 coats, wham bam, lots of TED conferences watched, NPR coma attained, minimal furniture moved.

The remainder of the room has proved to be nothing short of a nightmare. We went for a bright yellow color to offset the warm blue/green of the nook (previously the bedroom color from Atlanta, which is double bonus points because we didn't have to buy the paint). Both the Sauce and I have an aversion to mild yellows. It’s too hard to find one that doesn't remind me of either cat barf or the pastel color of my grandmother's underwear. So we went with something that should have come with an exclamation point after the name(!) . Now, I should tell you that the existing wall color was an olive/pea soup green. Think dark and almost military. My painting nickname, if such a thing were cool and actually existed, would be "she who does not prime", or "screw priming" for short. I’ve never actually been burned by my resistance to priming, but I’ve paid for all of my priming arrogance.

Oh, how I’ve paid.

The first coat of yellow(!) covered about as well as trying to smear cold cream cheese on a warm bagel. I got through the second round of cut-in (also known as edging, or painting the corners, or brushwork, or anything that doesn't involve a roller), and was dismayed at the continued streakiness. Usually by that point I can tell that the second coat will do the trick, but that olive green continued to eyeball me from underneath 2 heavy coats of yellow(!). Sensing futility, I decided to roll a patch of wall to see just how well it would cover the spotty mess I’d made. 4 coats later (in that one patch), I could still see a shadow of green.

There are times in life when shortcuts can be rather useful, but painting is one of those things that doesn't lend itself well to trickery. Back to Lowes I went. A coat of "high cover" primer later, and I was back in business. Until I ran out of yellow(!) on the opposite wall. I’d wasted so much paint that 2 gallons weren't enough to cover 2 long walls of a studio apartment.

Wait, it gets worse. The longer I stared at the yellow(!), the more it made me want to hide in the closet with the cats. The walls were yelling at me (yellow? yelling? not a coincidence my friend) I tried to like it. I really did, but every time someone came over, I felt the need to say that it wasn't exactly my first choice, which is never a good sign. (sorry charrow, I know we decided "together" but I was trying to be compromising, and I figured I was judging too quickly)

So we picked a new color. I primed (take that, yellow(!)), I painted 2 coats, and now I’m sitting on the futon staring at the fruits of my many, many days of labor. The name is dull (veridian green), but the color is so relaxing that I can't actually think of something interesting to compare it to. I may have to stop writing this post to go take a nap.

My own personal groundhog day has ended, and I’m thankful that it involved cat puke* instead of Andy McDowell. Let's hope the kitchen goes more smoothly.

*I'm hoping the high volume of cat puke over the last week is a coincidence and I'm not inadvertently causing them brain damage with the paint fumes. Petey does not need any more reasons to act challenged.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

sometimes opposites should attract

There's a roach somewhere in the kitchen right now. It's taken almost 3 months for one of the not-so-little pests to appear, and I'm sad to see the honeymoon period end.

We generally try to wash the dishes throughout the day or right before going to bed because it's annoying to stumble into the kitchen with one thing in mind (coffee) and have to jockey for faucet access to get water into the electric kettle. So last night when we got home from a rousing game of Settlers of Catan (one in which I fortified my position as biggest loser), Charrow started on the task while I tended to the socially acceptable food grubbers. A minute later, there was a clatter of silverware and Charrow scrambled out of the kitchen with the water running full blast.

Not knowing exactly what the problem was, I stepped into the kitchen unarmed. This turned out to be a critical mistake because the first time I spotted the palm sized roach was the only time I had a clear shot at it. Granted, it would have been hard to take aim and scream at the same time, but I still wish I'd had the forethought to pick up a shoe. By the time I grabbed a Chaco from underneath my dresser and returned to the scene, the intruder was gone. I staked it out while Charrow finished the dishes, but it never came back into the smashing zone. It did reappear for a minute, but it deftly used the edge of the microwave as a shelter, and then it was gone.

The problem with roaches is that I hate them as much as Charrow does, but because she can't stand still long enough to kill them, the task has fallen under my jurisdiction. I feel obligated to assume the responsibility because she's willing to remove the dreaded arachnids for me, even if it requires getting dressed for a late night catch and release. But the truth is, I'm horrible at killing roaches. The bigger they are, the more I yelp and the less accurate I am with a shoe. All I can picture when I'm about to strike a blow is the fact that I'm going to miss and the damn thing will scurry towards me and gnaw my nose off (because apparently they DO bite).

THE LESSON: fall in love with someone who fears different multi-legged invaders than yourself or you'll both end up screaming from atop the highest point in your living room OR make sure you get cats that enjoy crunching on just about anything that wiggles.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

blunder of the day

It's been about 57 degrees below reasonable for the last few days. A little while ago, I ventured to the corner store to get a soda for my lunch. It was a desperate act that I should have foregone, but alas, I am weak. I left my glasses on for the errand (because I am also lazy), and the turtle fur wrapped over my mouth and nose made my lenses fog for most of the outing.

So I made my lunch (turkey bacon and mozzarella on an english muffin with kettle chips) and sat down on the futon with my recently purchased vice. About halfway through the sandwich, as I laughed along to Joey wearing a top hat (I,too, am wondering why there is a wikipedia entry for a Friends character), when I noticed that my glasses were fogging up again. I took another bite from my sandwich and sat there confused. Could it really be that cold in the apartment?

And then I realized that it wasn't fog. It was smoke. Coming from the kitchen. Apparently I was so distracted by the joy of having a cherry coke zero and a plateful of salty goodness that I forgot to turn off the burner. I ran into the kitchen (all 6 steps) and there was smoke streaming from the matte black surface of the pan (the lustre of oil having been seared off).

I flicked off the burner, ran the 8 steps over to my dresser and yanked the battery out of the smoke detector. I should stop here and tell you that the smoke detector was on my dresser because of an earlier incident in which the Sauce made squash fries that also caused a blanket of smoke to diffuse throughout the apartment.

It's been a half an hour now, and the air is almost clear. Let's not talk about the 10 minutes I spent madly flapping a dish towel about. I think Petey is still hiding under the bed from the terror and my toes are still numb from leaving the windows open.

Friday, January 9, 2009

horsin around with Ira Glass

I'm headed to the horse country of Virginia to spend the weekend playing board games and listening to my friend's dad talk about obscure 1930's movies. There are 4 Vamoose coupons in my pocket (free ride!), a smelly turkey bacon/mozzarella sandwich in my bag (sorry seat neighbor), and this american life podcasts to drool over.

Have a good weekend!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

double parked

I've moved* 7 times in the last 6 years. 6.5 of those 7 moves can be credited to the brawn and generosity of my friends (and sometimes friends of friends).

The law of averages has been kind to me thus far in my apartment hopping lifestyle. I've never had to pack a truck in the rain, although I have had to drive a 14 foot truck towing a 4-wheel car dolly through the mountains of VA in a heavy downpour with 2 cats and an anxious girlfriend in the cab (mountains of VA = transfer truck central). I've never gotten into an accident while driving a moving truck. I've never had a flat tire or run out of gas or ended up on the side of a highway with a smoking engine. There are so many nightmares that I could be whining about right now, but I've never had to live them.

While my lucky streak held up for that other little .5 move, I can safely say that it was the most nerve wracking experience of my entire portability history. You would think that something so insignificant as a .5 move wouldn't be so scarring, but my pulse still quickens when I hear the belch of a large truck pass by.

I know many of the few of you who read this blog have driven a rental truck before, but trust me when I say this: until you've driven down the streets of brooklyn in a 16 foot truck, you haven't lived the fear I speak of. I don't mean to say that my fear is of a superior caliber than your fear; I just mean that our fears are simply not the same. Others of you may be thinking, "delivery trucks do it every day! how hard can it be?! some old lady driving a school bus has more balls than you!" And you'd be right on all accounts.

The one good thing that I can say about the combined 15 hour/2 day drive (besides the opportunity to listen to 8 hours of Ira Glass), is that it prepared me for what was to come. (Much the same way training wheels prepare you for riding a roller coaster). I made it through the tollbooths and the bridges without incident. My confidence rose with every last minute lane change and every blare of the horn (and there were many of both thanks to unforecasted lane closures). But as soon as I turned on to 4th Ave in Brooklyn, I was ready to call the moving guys and pay one of them whatever it would take to get them in the driver's seat. I was even prepared to pander to their masculinity.

After 20 minutes of bumper to bumper traffic and an infuriating pit stop for gas (would you just keep driving if you saw a moving truck trying to swing wide into your lane to avoid a parked car), we made the turn onto Sackett Ave. The sight of brownstones lulled me into a false sense of homestretch-ness.

I knew that parking was going to be an issue, but I wasn't really aware of the solution until Norman, the superintendent of the building, said in his Italian singsong, "yeah, you know, when a truck comes, you know, he can't get by, so you just move the truck and park again." It could have been worse. I could have had to move the truck 9 times instead of 3. I could have side swiped any number of cars, some of which were double parked and occupied by parents waiting to pick up their kids from school, but nothing horrible happened. The shear possibility for disaster was enough to stress me out (not to mention the look on Charrow's face whenever I re-parked the truck by trying to get as close to side as possible to circumvent another trip around the block). By the time we were unloaded, the throaty sound of an approaching truck was enough to make my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth.

Our original plan was to pay the "friends" who helped us move (the uninsured "friends" that we must never tell anyone from the management company about), and drop off the truck together. But there were boxes on the curb to be taken up and a Fed-ex truck that had been slowly making its way up the street for 25 minutes was fast approaching. So I double checked that I had all the maps, including my NFT book (care of Liz), and set off with a chorus of honking in my wake.

I got lost. Luckily traffic was so bad that I had time to readdress the map and get back on track. And then I got lost again. I finally had to pull over and call the drop-off place because I couldn't navigate the one-way streets well enough to get the one block that I needed, and I was off the NFT map. I asked the guy who took the truck how much I'd need for the bus ride back to Park Slope. "2 dollars," he said as I flipped through the cash in my pocket, "but you need quarters." When I asked if there was anywhere nearby for me to get change, he looked at me as if I was wearing a big slice of tenderloin around my neck and I had just asked where I could find the nearest underground dog fighting ring. I happened to have 6 quarters in my pocket and he rummaged up another 2 from somewhere behind the dingy counter.

1 bus transfer and 25 minutes later, I walked into the smallest apartment I've ever rented to start an existence in the biggest city I may ever call home.

*moved = relocation of all belongings from one dwelling to another. change in zip code not required.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

hello nyc, goodbye national moron

It's been a very tiring couple of weeks. I will give a more in-depth run down of the move (yes, we wooed the co-op board ---- all two members that we met with), but for now I just want to say happy new year!

(and what a year it will be without you know who making a big you know what out of the country)