Monday, August 31, 2009

Dear Earth, Sorry I Drove To Work, Love Yelena

There were no parking places, I didn't want to miss my train, and 1010WINS said traffic was smooth sailing.

In retrospect I should have taken the next train as I had to make a special trip to the bank to get a roll of quarters and I will now be getting up every 50 minutes to re-feed the meter (I searched for quite some time, there were no spaces and I think I might rather give 10 bucks to the city in quarters rather than 40 bucks to a garage).

But perhaps the earth should thank me.

I took a small road trip with my brother and some friends over the weekend and was able to fill my gas tank for the first full time. It was embarrassing. Driving to and from the train station, the Whole Foods, and other assorted in-town travels net me approximately 19 mpg. In my tiny adorable Jetta that gets such good mileage. It is true, I really shift past third gear (though I might change that now), but 19 miles? I was a little crushed. After two days of highway driving however, not including this morning's foray into Manhattan, and I'm averaging, this is not a joke, 49.65 mpg. According to the fuel gauge, I would be able to drive 720 highway miles on one tank of gas. I don't quite know how this would be possible, and since, with the 2/3 of a tank I have left I'll be back to local driving, the theory will remain, temporarily, untestable, but wow!

Reviewing my driving, I don't think I did anything especially efficient - or anything intentionally efficient. Driving in the rain I used the wipers, had the air on occasionally, had the GPS plugged in, and went between 65-70 mph in mostly 5th gear, downshifting from time to time to pass, etc. Yet, at 3/4 of a tank I had gone 180 miles.

Devoted partner drives his car in a way I've always found strange: he'll stay in 5th gear until it's physically impossible not to. It's hard to tell if this has any positive effect since devoted partner's car is not in tip-top shape, but he says he does it to conserve fuel. I drive completely differently and match the driving to the gear. But now I'm questioning my strategy and considering asking the internet its opinion, even though driving 25 miles an hour in 5th gear feels really really lame. I just don't want to be wasteful.

Except, tangentially, I've noticed that now that I use the reusable shopping bags, I have no plastic bags I can use for trash. Is the solution to buy plastic trash bags? That seems wasteful also. And the paper bag I'm using for kitchen garbage right now is definitely the grossest option. Does anyone else have this problem? What did you do? Oh, and do you know if the driving the car in 5th gear all the time thing works?

Feh, must feed meter.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Last Gasp

We've put if off until the very last minute. We've come up with tons of excuses. And now we can't avoid it any longer. We have to return to our apartment for the wrap-up. There is only one task I know must be completed: the retrieval and return of our Time Warner Cable boxes (oh, Time Warner, I miss you so - you have no idea how much better Time Warner is than Cablevision; it would be like comparing apples to horse shit...). This is my task.

Devoted partner had work obligations that prevented him from partaking in the 2-week odyssey that was packing the house and I pretty well made clear that once we left the apartment I wasn't lifting another finger for it. There's some cleanup that should be done and, even though there's stuff we're simply not moving out, we should make it look like we tried. That is, if our neighbors haven't already broken in and stolen everything that wasn't nailed down; or if the mice have taken over and prevent us entry; or if the landlord hasn't already rented it to someone else.

I so don't want to go. Saturday is a time for fun. A time to make that cheesecake I want to give the neighbors, time to shop for lamps so our house isn't so dark, time to look into getting a work table for my prep kitchen. A time, frankly, for chilled wine and sex. Not a time to wade through militant mice and felonious neighbors on the way to figuring out why the local post office has forwarded exactly two pieces of mail in the three weeks since we moved.

This feeling of festering hate that wells up within me at the thought of four hours or so spent in a place I lived for six years leads me to believe that I have learned a valuable lesson: don't let it get this far. By the end of year two, I was ready to move on. So was devoted partner. We spoke about it in the abstract, complained about the good deal we currently had vs. the bloated rental market everywhere else; spoke about the ridiculous housing market and how if we were ever going to buy, now was certainly not the time as townhouses on our block were asking 3 million dollars - and I think I've mentioned how active drug dealings were done on our block. We just didn't do anything about it. I was still adamant about staying in Manhattan as opposed to shopping for living scenarios in Brooklyn, and I also didn't want to give up our space - devoted partner and I would never have survived in what passes for a one-bedroom in Manhattan.

But we could have done something else. We had a lot of good excuses why we didn't move: paying an exorbitant broker's fee to move into a place like the one we were already in seemed a poor waste of money; what if the new place proved worse than the existing place?; remember what our friends are paying for their places; and so on. But we should have found something that didn't make us so irretrievably miserable and resentful. We would have been happier. His shitty job would have seemed less shitty if his home wasn't also so shitty. Ditto my shitty job.

The thing I like so much about this new place, even though it too is temporary, is that when I come home, I like what I've come home to. Sure there are boxes in the hallway that need to be broken down and as mentioned above, it's a little on the dark side what with the lack of lights, but when I get home, I'm happy this is the place I get to call home. And I'm going to remember that this is a feeling worth having and worth sacrificing a little for.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Eye of the Beholder

I have been accused of wine snobbery. Perhaps it's the circles I travel in. When I upped the price I was willing to spend on a bottle of wine to, on average, $25, I was met with uncomprehending stares. When partial cases started arriving at the house I was queried as to why such lengths needed to be gone to. When first one wine fridge and then a larger wine fridge came to live with us, there was some snickering. I was ok with this because my drink of choice is wine. It's what I like to drink with my food.

I know nothing about wine. Except what I like.

I go to a restaurant, they bring me a wine list, I barely glance at it. The sommelier or waiter returns and I tell him or her what I'm ordering, and that I like unusual wines. I don't care where they're from or what color they are, I want something different, something that really goes well with the food I'm eating, something I'd remember. 80% of the time I have perfectly enjoyable wines I would never go out of my way to find again. The other 20%? Well, that's where we run into trouble. For the other 20%, I will expend boundless energy and time to tracking down more of the wine. Snobbish? I don't know. Obsessive. Yes.

But I've never thought much of wine ratings. What one person finds tremendous I might not, and, as I had to tell a wine shop proprietor recently, I would never spend more than $30 on a wine I had never tasted just because someone else liked it. To me, that's just stupid.

Yet, when confronted by art, another fairly subjective medium, I have the feeling that there is capital-G good art and capital-B bad art. Which is ridiculous because I know no more about art than I do about wine which means good art is art that's good for me. For a couple of years, we took the easy way out decorating our walls. I've gotten more proficient with a camera, we take trips to pretty places, and some of the 45 million pictures I take are frame worthy. This was fine in an apartment, but we seem to be working with a lot more space now, and our walls are starting to look a little bare.

But I can't afford ART art, and I wouldn't want to buy bad art.

No, wait, I don't care. It's what I like that's important. So, I've started browsing the artist's democracy, Etsy. For a couple hundred bucks I could help a struggling artist out, get several pieces for my walls, and it doesn't matter if the art isn't good because if I only spent 60 bucks on it, I can throw it out when I tire of it and not really care.

Well, now I feel liberated. I bought three bottles of wine on spec and didn't like them, but I was only out $60, so they'll do. Imagine treating art the same way! I'm going to put together a slide show for devoted partner so we can agree on things, but this will be my contribution: we will have stuff on the walls that is unique and, possibly, cool.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Keeping My Rage In Check

I recount a brief moment, from time to time, that demonstrates how close my insane is to the surface; I think the moment is humorous, others might find it disconcerting. Regardless, I think it's an apt example of the kinds of things that put me in a murderous frame of mind considering how insignificant it it. I was in Chelsea Market a couple of years ago buying, I don't know, fancy cheese and Meyer lemons. I also got myself a nice big baguette. I walked to the exit and opened the door as a man was walking in. He breezed right by me nearly touching me as he did so.

For a brief moment I thought I was going to beat him with my baguette.

This is true. I had even gripped the baguette in a battle posture.

I don't like when people don't observe the rules of polite society. Polite society states that thou shalt let someone out of a door prior to thou attempting to get in that door. People who do not observe this rule are cretins and must be defeated by bread-waving lunatics. Or so I believe. Even on my lucid days.

Here are some others in the same vein:

  • Thou shalt not insinuate one's self in front of those who were there before you in any manner of line whatsoever (this includes being at the end of the line when a new register opens up and then sprinting to be the first in line at the new register - think about it; it demonstrates such poor breeding)
  • Thou shalt not enter a form of mass transit and fix one's self immobile in a manner that prevents all people behind you from gaining entrance simply to preserve the "good spot" for one's self
  • Thou shalt not, when the subway door ends up directly in front of someone else, attempt to push that person out of the way enabling one's self to gain access to the subway first
  • Similarly, thou shalt not, upon exiting the subway, attempt to get out of the subway prior to the people in front of thou who are also attempting to get out of the subway
  • Furthermore, thou shalt, upon exiting a door, entrance way, stairwell, crossing a street etc., never simply stand in the line of entrance/exit simply thinking, or congratulating one's self on having made it that far. Stopping in the middle of a thoroughfare invites people to shove you maliciously. Much like thou wouldst in thine car, pull over to the side of the road if thou needest a breather.
  • Thou shalt not obstruct a free seat in a crowded form of mass transportation with any of the following: feet, bags, coats, umbrellas, pets, instruments, strollers, bicycles; those items did not pay to ride mass transit - your fellow passengers did

These are good rules. These are rules designed to improve society. These are rules I occasionally wish had been enforced by the iron hand of Mayor Giuliani. Failure to comply with these rules create far more societal damage than squeegee people.

I'm an official commuter now and am able to avail myself of two separate modes of mass transportation daily: the Metro North Railroad and the New York City Subway. Certain malfeasance is more detectable on each of these modes of conveyance. Anyone who has ever commuted during rush hour on the Metro North Railroad will notice that in the three-across seats, people sit in positions one and three and then, as if by silent agreement, pack as much crap as is humanly possible in position two to prevent a third passenger from sitting there. Were this to happen only in a small fraction of three-across seats, one could chalk it up to a few bad apples. But if you ride this train between the hours of 4:00pm and 8:00pm you will notice EVERYONE DOES IT. And they do it in such a way that, for many years, I was embarrassed to ask them to move their shit. After all, there were other people without seats who didn't seem to make a big deal out of it, so why should I. Then I remembered I paid to ride this train - paid just as much as those jackholes hoarding space and that it was practically my duty to remind them of their douche-ishness while simultaneously getting my ass in a seat.

You should see the looks these people give you. I think it's made worse by the fact they're all upper middle class and wealthier. You'd think that good breeding would follow socio-economic strata, but nowhere is this proven more wrong than by the shitsack in the custom tailored suit with the $45,000 watch who moves his briefcase for you to sit down with same resignation generally reserved for Sophie's Choice.

That was my commute home last night though replace the man with a woman who did the "feigning sleep" maneuver to avoid sharing. I wasn't buying it. She hated me.

This morning, the infraction was committed on the subway, by one of the many commuters afflicted with Hurry Syndrome. Hurry Syndrome is most often recognized in drivers who cut in front of you only to get to the clearly visible red light/traffic jam sooner. The subway was pulling into the 86th street station and I was standing directly in front of the door, every bit of my body language indicating I would be exiting. When the doors open, a guy literally three people behind me start barreling forward. For a split baguette moment, I nearly elbowed the guy in the sternum, so surprised was I by his sudden propulsion. Instead, and less feloniously, I wedged my hips in such a way that to pass them, he would have needed to also buy me dinner, and exited the train first. Apparently Hurry Syndrome guy wasn't much of an athlete as, even though he did manage to exit directly on my heels, he was no where to be seen on the upper level of the station; meaning he was hurrying hurrying so he could wheeze up a flight of stairs, most likely blocking the paths of all those behind him.

I am reserving my rage on behavior while using mass transportation for another time, simply because airing all my crazy laundry at one time seems inadvisable if I'd like any of you to continue reading.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Once upon a time, in the latter half of the 20th century, aided by the work of Alan Turing, a magnificent device was invented. And I'll give you a hint, you're using it right now. Dreams of flying cars aside, here in the 21st century, computers power things. Pretty much everything. If it is vaguely electronic or could be vaguely electronic, there's a chip somewhere doing something. Fear this if you will, but unavoidable, inevitable, blah blah.

In the town of Port Chester, population 28,300, at their train station (a train which, just for those keeping score, uses computers to operate), a person wishing to park for the day is faced with the device pictured above. It is a metal box with tiny numbered slots that you put your money in. Let me repeat that: YOU PUT YOUR MONEY INTO A METAL SLOT. Please also note the "jabber," the metal device you use to wedge the previous bill all the way in the slot before attempting to add another bill. Exact change is a must unless you consider the parking facility a charity in which case, by all means let 'em keep your change.

But I think what gets me is the 4-step instructions. As if there was some confusion as to how this sophisticated device works. The manufacturers of the parking payment box have done market research and determined that you are indeed this stupid. Stupid enough to need instructions for putting wadded up dollar bills into a slot - like no one here has ever been to a strip club before. (Point of information: I have never been to a strip club, but I watch a lot of television.) As I do not work in the lucrative stripping industry myself, I now need to hoard my single dollar bills - I found myself buying a piece of fruit with a fiver just so I could get the four singles I would need for the next day's parking.

What I don't understand is how this device, a legacy of what can only be - no I take that back. I can't imagine any scenario under which this device makes sense. It's so very very primitive and therefore to my mind Soviet. Comrade puts money in slot. Computer operated machines are for decadent westerners.

It also is dangerous in that I doubt anyone even checks the boxes. There are probably thousands of uncollected dollars waiting behind those slots and the powers that be rely on my fear of receiving a $200 ticket for failing to pay a $4 fee to compel me to stick my money into the slot each morning - or at least each morning until I get my permanent parking pass.

I just hope that the inventor of this parking fee collection device is not whiling away his days on a tropical paradise; this really has added nothing to civilization and, if I may, has set us back at least 40 years. Much like its partner-in-crime over at the mall who is a computer but one that doesn't accept credit cards, these relics of a bygone era demonstrate ably why progress, even only for progress's sake is far better than apathy of convenience (ooh, I smell a book title: The Apathy of Convenience - you read it here first).

Monday, August 24, 2009

It Lives in the Basement

I have not done my own laundry since college.

This does not necessarily mean I haven't worn clean clothing since college though I do admit, with much hesitation, that I have been known to buy new underwear rather than wash existing underwear. I could also give you the 101 rationalizations I fashioned to defend this indefensible position, reasoned arguments about the value of my time, etc. But the truth is, I don't like laundry and I don't want to do it and there are plenty of other people who will do your laundry for you for a price. A price I was willing to pay. My roommate of several years loved laundry. He'd pack up his bag of dirty clothing, his ipod, and his book and go spend a whole afternoon doing laundry; I would drop mine off and retrieve it at some later date. When he moved into an apartment that had a washer/dryer, it was a momentous occasion. I think he might have wept. When I discovered that our house had a washer/dryer I mentally added laundry to the future housekeeper's duties.

But we're not unpacked fully yet. So we haven't hired a housekeeper. And it's been two weeks. And the pretty hamper in our bathroom was starting not to stay shut. And there are sheets and towels. Crap. I'm going to have to do laundry.

In my defense, I am not really skilled at laundry. I lose things, choose inappropriate settings, overstuff the machines, generally behave like an idiot. This weekend was no exception.

I don't sort laundry. I think it's a ploy by Big Detergent to get me to do more laundry (horror of horrors) and to spend more money on its products. Besides, who actually has enough white laundry to justify an all-white load? Clothing is clothing and, as such, goes in the same machine with the same settings. Anything that needs that measure of specialization (delicate cold, fluffy warm, permanent press?!?!?) should be cleaned by a professional. I am only human.

I now own many pink t-shirts.

Many many more than I owned, say, on Friday.

But all of my clothing has been washed before. What possibly could have bled? Oh, you mean that towel we bought at Cape May that was stuffed into a random bag during moving and was in this load of laundry being washed for the first time? I meant every OTHER item in the wash had been washed before. My bad.

Devoted partner saved one of my pricey brassieres from the indignity of machine washing by recognizing it had accidentally been stuffed in the hamper, and then instructed me in the gentle art of realizing when the water pumps connected to the washing machine were or were not on, further reminding me that if I wanted the clothing to become clean I would have to do more than simply cram it into the machine and press 'start,' I would, apparently, need to make sure the thing was plugged in and that water was servicing it.

At this point I would like to say, in my own defense, that these are precisely the kinds of concerns one needn't have if one has others do one's laundry.

Then, an angel descended upon the house. My mom. We had my parents over Saturday afternoon and nothing made my mother happier than when I gave her permission to oversee the laundry. Her enthusiasm stemmed from the fact that she doesn't have a washer/dryer in her apartment and must go to the basement to use the communal washer/dryer, so this was an exciting experience as I believe I am the first in the family to have a washer/dryer. She happily padded down to the basement and made sure things were properly loaded, soaped, and dried. Then she, I'm not kidding, folded the dry stuff and toted it upstairs in the plastic bin we had designated for the job.

Yeah, I don't feel really good about myself and my housewifery.

Sunday, determined to vaguely succeed at this task, even if for the first and last time, I did two more loads of wash. Load one didn't want to dry. I think it went through 2 if not 3 cycles. Load two I gave up on and asked devoted partner to do while I busied myself with further kitchen unpacking.

After all, maturity is, in many ways, owning one's strengths and weaknesses.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sometimes You Have To Wonder


We're missing some odds and ends. A side table here, a coffee table there, some lamps, floor coverings. The kinds of things we might one day invest in, but for now just need to have. Well I am a not infrequent Martha Stewart Living reader and I always see enterprising young things painting lovely old things lovely new colors. Then there was that article in the Times a couple weeks back about the couple that decorated their summer home entirely from craigslist, and you sort of see where I'm going.

I was going to surprise devoted partner by finding truly wonderful magical things on craigslist that were either good as is, or soon to be lovingly rehabbed by me (a person with no experience, eye, or artistic talent) into darling pieces we would treasure. Oh, and I wasn't going to spend more than like $75 on anything.

Come with me, oh ye who wish ye were more like Martha and less like me, and see what it is people sell. I'm not the first one to do this, there is a fantastic site at Item Not As Described which features truly awful items from the free sections of craigslist, but I want to spend money. Let's see what I can get. The parameters? I only looked at items in Fairfield County, sold by the owner, that had pictures.

We're looking for lamps. I don't like lamps in general, and I really don't like any lamps that devoted partner likes. I like lights. Sometimes I like chandeliers but only in an ironic way. I can be won over by sconces. Fortunately the following two lamps were discovered, both very much in the price range and, as you can see for yourself, funky. I'm funky. Funky can be good. I sang in a funk band in college. I felt like an idiot but there was definitely funk afoot.



But now I'm worried this funk doesn't match. The first funk could easily have lived at my great grandmother, Nan Nan's right next to her bowl of spearmint leaves. Nan Nan's house smelled like old people which is about right as Nan Nan lived to nearly 101 making her, help me now math, 88 when I was born. And 88 in those days was different. Older. Smellier. I think Nan Nan would have liked this first funky lamp. I'm not sure my love for my long departed great grandmother makes ME like the lamp any better. Furthermore, I would be surprised, nay shocked, had Nan Nan paid $85 for this lamp when it was new. After all, she raised my grandmother during the depression, and depression-era people don't shell out that kind of money for ugly, I mean funky, lamps.

I'm pretty sure the second piece of funk was actually once owned by the art teacher at primary school. You all know this art teacher. She wore very big possibly hand knit sweaters, either hand knit by her or by the indigenous Chileans she had spent the summer with, the necklaces with the huge HUGE beads, and the reading glasses that had the artsy chain so they could hang around one's neck. I like to think that Ms. L brought this lamp back from Burma where armless orphans had assembled it with their feet and teeth and presented it to her as thanks for the summer she spent with them doing art therapy and sanitizing their water supply. Even though it probably took the orphans a bit of time to assemble these lamps, $85 is more than their entire village will make this year and, as such, might be slightly ambitious in the pricing department.

2 large off white lamps - $75

Fortunately, for less than the cost of ONE of the funky lamps, I can honor my other grandmother by buying these two lamps. My other grandmother was Jewish and lived in an apartment complex in Miami Beach with all of your Jewish grandmothers. The apartment was styled in whatever it is you call the style these lamps fit in, but she had dishes of seashells lying around the house, so these would have been perfect. Done.

Hand Made Book Shelves - $100

This has convinced me to take a photo of something:

In 8th grade we had to take pottery. I sucked. No, that isn't self-effacing, oh I'm sure you weren't that bad kind of fishing for compliments. I could not, for the ever loving life of me throw a pot and have it remain, well, pot-like. Instead I threw a ridiculous number of things that look like this. I'm not kidding, I have them all displayed in our living room, you should come over and look. Because I went to the kind of progressive, art-friendly school I did, the teacher, rather than tell me I was retarded, said she liked my non pot pots. I thought then, and think now, that they look like vaginas. Glazed vaginas. I like them a lot, but I would never have the balls to try and sell them. Especially not as, say, Homemade Ceramic Objet - $75; perhaps as Retarded Kid Can't Use Pottery Wheel Makes Ceramic Vagina - $2. So I don't know if I have it in me to subsidize someone else's retarded kid who couldn't handle wood shop.


I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that I have plenty to say about this piece. But you don't know what. You think you do, but you don't. This piece falls into a category I like to call Budget Madame X. You see there is a woman. A superfantastic woman who is the mother of a friend, the mother of a friend who is reading this, who has awesome, but totally eclectic taste. Think Louis XIV meets Miami Vice, but in a way so over the top and well thought out, that it works. I mean really works. Works so much that I, who would prefer all of my belongings to be angular, simple, and in a solid color, occasionally find myself staring at a seriously ugly piece like this and wondering what the non-KMart version would become in her hands. Since, I too would like to become a superfantastic woman in my later years, ugly pieces like these speak to me in a very particular way. They say things like, "but Yelena, you don't have a desk yet. You could turn this hideous vanity into something wonderful; something so Madame X aspirational." Then reality sets in, devoted partner comes walking by, reminds me that he knows Madame X, he grew up watching her decorate houses, and I am no Madame X. Sigh.

Brown Jordan Outdoor Furniture - $1200

Something I'm really quite partial to is being thought of as stupid. Sure, I know other people might not get off on it quite as much as I do, but there's something so delicious about the scenario in which someone wants to sell me a used item of theirs for more it would cost me to buy it new myself. You see, over this past weekend, devoted partner and I went to United House Wreckers in Stamford because they were having a patio furniture sale. We saw something that was, wait, exactly like this except it had an umbrella and an additional chair, for about $800. I feel kind of certain that a number of people scouring craigslist might have also seen the advertisements stating that UHW was having a huge patio furniture sale. Perhaps it's just poor timing on the part of the owners of this patio set, but I find it insulting to my intelligence. Either way, I thought $800 was too much for cheap patio furniture, so I definitely think $1200 for the same cheap patio furniture is excessive.

Wooden Picnic Table - Newly Repainted - $100

Similarly, I wouldn't have thought twice about this had the owner not pointed out he had freshly repainted the picnic table. By he, I'm assuming he meant his five year old, or the same kid who made the bookshelves, because this isn't a great paint job. And I can easily steal this same piece from any number of State Parks or summer camps and then poorly paint it myself.

leather chair and love seat - $40

Then there are times when you know that it's futile to fight. That even if you pay for them and keep them in your room, devoted partner will not go with you to pick them up, will not permit them to be loaded in or on top of his car. Will not spend any time remotely near them. You cry because these are POWDER BLUE LEATHER THINGS. Or as devoted partner just said, "you just like it because it looks like the elephant piano player from the Cantina scene." (Can't find you a photo of the thing, because of George Lucas's general douchiness no doubt, but you know the one I'm talking about.)

Strangely enough we might have found an item or 2 we'll actually buy. So craigslist is still good for something now and again. I just do fantasize about the house you get to decorate with all the kinds of crap above. Someone would probably consider it visionary!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

No, Sadly, Not A Joke Part 1?

Prior to penning the first of these posts, I worried that I would run out of things to write about, that there wouldn't be enough amusing fodder to justify this entirely self-indulgent exercise. Now, I know, it's only been a week or so, leaving plenty of time for doldrums, but today is not that day. Today I went to the basement to go out to the garage and stepped in water.

Lots of water.

The kind of lots of water that can only be present on one's floor when something is horribly horribly wrong.

Now, my initial response was that devoted partner had spilled, say, one of the gallon containers of water that lives in the basement and "forgot" to clean it up. This is both uncharitable and not "unpossible." Since the first evidence of water was in his room, I looked for the telltale bottle source. Not finding that I worried that the laundry room which has a sink, a shower, and a toilet, was having some problems. After all, we hooked a dehumidifier up with a hose leading to the shower. And sure enough the shower was clogged and overflowing.

Not a happy camper was I.

I shut off the dehumidifier, cursing devoted partner, and called to curse him at work since the dehumidifier idea was his making this entire problem his. I left an irate and vaguely lucid message. I returned to the downstairs shower and stuck my (ick) hand down the shower drain to see if there was an obstruction. I came away with what felt like, yes, toilet paper. Very very wet toilet paper. I washed my hands, called my boss, and then, call waiting alerted me to devoted partner's call. I apologized for sounding like a lunatic, explained the problem, which he assured me he hadn't noticed (I remained skeptical in my uncharitable way), and hearing the obvious crazy in my voice, told me he was coming home to help. First we ascertained that the toilet downstairs had also exploded, so the water on the floor was, indeed, of the poo-infused variety. I got in the car, went to Home Depot (that's 5x since moving for those keeping score), and selected from the dizzying assortment of mops, buckets, and cleaning solutions.

Arriving home, I found devoted partner already in slop clothing with many theories. The first part of the grand theory was that it was my fault for taking a shower that morning. Let's put aside it was he who used the downstairs toilet last night. His suspicion was that we either had a clog or a septic problem (for those who know what this means, apparently the former is a cheap fix, the latter is most certainly not). He comforted me by reminding me that we don't own this house, so a septic problem, while both gross and expensive, wouldn't really be our problem, financially or emotionally. We emptied the laundry room of all items on the floor (thank god I treated this move like an adult and had already unpacked my cookbooks and kitchen gear), called the landlady and left a message, and called the nice guys at, I kid you not, RotoRooter.

They should arrive momentarily.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

At The Station

I was smart. Really smart. Smart like a whip. My train was the 9:56am out of Port Chester. My house? 3 minutes from the station. I entered my car at 9:31am determined that all the little peccadilloes of commuting would not have me miss my desired train. Train station arrival: 9:34am.

And that's where we sort of went off the rails. I have not yet bought my annual parking pass - no matter, the internet assured me I could park for the day for the eminently reasonable fee of $4. When I pulled into the parking lot there were tons of free spaces and a helpful sign indicating where I would pay for my parking. But, on closer inspection, all of the parking spaces were for permit holders. I couldn't even see the parking spots for metered parking. And, come to think of it, if at 9:30am on a weekday there were still permit places available, doesn't it stand to reason that a day parker could use one of the 75 or so spaces reserved for permitters? Ok, so, obviously not. I asked the only man on the platform who looked as though he spoke English if he knew where someone in my position was supposed to park. He was incredibly nice and helpful, welcoming me to the neighborhood etc. etc. telling me not to park below the power lines not, as I had assumed due to radiation or the propensity for such things to fall on my car, but because of the bird shit. He shared my confusion about parking spots and suggested I get my annual permit quickly. We asked a cop who indicated the full parking spots farthest from the platform and, wouldn't luck have it, there was one waiting for me.

Which was no longer waiting for me by the time I got into my car and pulled it around. Now it was 9:46am. Ten minutes and not a parking spot in sight. At the mall, two blocks away, though was additional parking. I felt certain that I could park and run back in these ten minutes. Of course this didn't factor in the non-timed lights in downtown Port Chester. The one in front of you turns green at the same moment the one on the next block turns red. Thanks for that. At 9:51am I park the car in the lot and run to the ticket machine knowing that a New Yorker can clearly run two blocks in 5 minutes. Oops, but this meter works based on what spot you're in, not the far more reasonable, just pay for a ticket and stick it in your windshield variety utilized by, oh, I don't know, THE ENTIRE WORLD (for eff's sake, when I visit Etienne and want to park downtown I give the machine some euros, it gives me a ticket, I put the ticket in my windshield, end of story - no one cares what number spot I'm in). So I jog back to verify my number, jog back to the machine, punch it in and feed it my bill. Which it rejects. A helpful sign tells me that in 2010 this machine will accept credit cards. I try again. Now, not only will the machine not accept my bill, it won't accept any bills - the bill acceptor just stops working. The mall cop tells me I should park 100 additional feet away nearer the working machine.

Now I have missed my train, and I'm ok with this provided there's no chance in hell I can miss the next one at 10:29am. I have now parked close to the working machine, know my spot number in advance and feed my bill in. The bill is spit back at me. I recall something crazy the mall cop said to me which I couldn't possibly have believed to be true: oh, it won't take the new bills. The machine isn't programmed to accept my $5 bill because it's new. Very well, machine, I have 4 mostly uncrumpled one dollar bills. Will you accept those?


Sort of.

While the machine happily took my bills and told me I could leave my car at the mall until 2am for the four dollars I had just deposited, it didn't give me a receipt for the transaction. Or what it called a receipt. How am I supposed to know the receipt isn't the thing I'm supposed to stick in my windshield? Similarly, am I supposed to trust that a machine that couldn't take my five bucks will know that it just told me I was safe to be in my parking spot? I am unfamiliar with the rules of parking in Port Chester. If the powers that be don't like the location of my car will they simply provide me with a ticket I can perhaps contest, or will they boot, or god forbid, tow my car? If they tow my car, will they leave a note, or will I return to the shady parking lot this evening to no car and assume it was stolen and then cry a lot? This experience (let's for a moment leave aside that the damned machine won't take credit cards until 2010, as if credit card acceptance is a space-age notion) has not filled me with tons of confidence in the commuting department.

But that's ok, because the actual train station is run by the MTA, people I've known my whole life who...hey, wait, why is the ticket office closed? This is during business hours. I have questions about monthly passes and would like to speak to a human. Ah, no human? Ok, I'll talk to a machine. At least this one understands magic plastic money cards. Finally, once on the train which is, blissfully, air conditioned, I speak to my first human of the transactional day - the ticket taker. He is a simply lovely man who informs me that I don't want to buy a monthly pass until September because a monthly pass isn't a 30-day pass, it's a per month pass. Can you taste the idiocy? Sure, I understand that this means the person checking your pass doesn't have to read, he just needs to glance at the color of the card or the big print that says something like SEPT, but honestly, couldn't that big type read 9/14/09, and if it was after 9/14/09 he would know your pass expired and you owe someone some money? No? Ok, fine. The $226 card I will be buying from the MTA will be about as sophisticated as the bus pass from middle school.

At least at 10:30 in the morning there were lots of empty seats!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TV Makes You Sort of Smarter

There is a blurry photo of me taken by a German tourist in Southern France after I just inadvertently completed a 2 mile hike in a pair of 4-inch Gucci heels; the final leg of the hike was a scramble over boulders in a river. I thought this was something worthy of memorialization and am ever saddened by the German tourist's poor photo skills. Those who know me know that I can, from time to time, to time to time, be seen in inappropriate shoes. Heels at rugby matches; heels in a foot of snow; heels at the beach. In recent years, I have attempted to embrace other types of shoes, dare I say, more practical shoes. I own a lovely pair of knee high rain boots, a pair of snuggly snow boots, a bewildering array of dollar-store flip flops, two, count them, two pairs of sneakers I never wear, and a pair of Converse I do. This ownership does not prevent me from liking the idea of shoe incongruity. So when I think about myself and cars, I think about holding a wrench in one hand while standing over the hood of my car in heels. I think the visual of me with oil on my face and pricey Italian shoes on my feet is an excellent one.

Which goes to show I know nothing about cars. The least of this knowledge can be summed up in the fact that I have a brand new car for the next two years and if something were to happen that would necessitate me or anyone else opening the hood and using a wrench, proper footwear would be the least of my problems. But I do like cars. I have been known to say very un-ladylike things about very nice cars, and once I bumped my rental car into the curb because I wanted to get out of my car very quickly to tell a nice couple how much I loved their late 50s/early 60s Corvette Stingray - they thought this was funny.

So when devoted partner introduced me to Top Gear, it was a perfect match. I like snarky geeks and I like fast cars, ergo I like Top Gear. And certainly, from the number of episodes I have watched I must now know more things about cars. Right? I have been toying with the ideas of referring to my own car's transmission as "five on the floor" and turning off the traction control even though the dealer told me this latter thing was a bad idea. But I have seen the guys on Top Gear do it, and TV is smart. Yes, I am confused why we in the states refer to it as horsepower and they refer to it as brake horsepower though I have assured myself these two things mean the same. Also, I don't really know what horsepower is or does though I know more of it makes your car do more stuff better and faster and stronger but that it doesn't necessarily mean the car with more of it would win a race. Suffice it to say I know nothing about cars and will, for the foreseeable future, not be strutting around mine in coveralls and Christian Lacroix.

Yet, I like driving. True, I am still uncertain what leasing a car means and how much damage I can do to mine before the nice people at Volkswagen refuse to take it back and instead demand money from me which is why, thus far, I have been driving it like a grandmother. Add to this that all the driving I have done has been local, and the poor car hasn't even made it to 5th gear save a handful of times. Since I find suburban driving to be the single most confusing form of driving - city driving has clearly marked street signs and frequently is laid out in a grid pattern of some sort; highway driving is generally in a long straight line with frequent signage pointing out your current location and distance to your ultimate one - I am trying to get some more practice on the lovely Greenwich roads.

Aside: these roads are NOT lovely. I was under the impression you people, and I guess that now includes me, pay ridiculously high taxes. As such, your main road, the Post Road, should not be so hideously deformed by potholes. Your side streets are, likewise, not to be believed. I have been told that you might not want to repair your potholes because smooth roads encourage people to drive more quickly, but let me tell you, I live in a highly litigious society and until they make rules about who and how frequently I may sue, if your flippin' potholes mar my beautiful new, liability uncertain automobile, I will be expecting you to pick up the tab for the damages; and by expecting, I mean I will sue you. Fix the god damned potholes. Shabby rich is so 90s!

To wit, the drive from Casa Me to the fishmonger is about 2 miles and very direct. Yesterday, I decided to take a little tootle through the backwoods of Greenwich. Thereupon, I discovered something the locals must know, and must pay dearly for: you people have some sweet driving roads. True, yesterday, during my exploratory mission, I was driving your curvy, shifting altitude roads at about 20 miles per hour, but I was the only car. I could have been doing these roads at twice the speed, shifting up and down at will to really coax my car into and out of the curves - demonstrating the awesome farfegnugen-ness of the car and feeling fairly badass myself. How else will I be able to thoroughly enjoy a high-speed tootle through the Alps is I don't get practice now?

It is true that twice on my ponderous and frightful journey I encountered things I hadn't anticipated: a catering truck coming towards me on a road barely wide enough for my own car much less us both and a cop car that had pulled over a truck in the middle of the one-lane given to cars of my directional persuasion about 25 meters behind a blind curve, but I'm sure those were anomalies and that when I'm ready to open 'er up, I will have the roads to myself. Also a really good soundtrack pumping me up.

But I've discovered something terrible: the cool rubber mats in my car are grooved deeply enough that they latch onto tiny pointy heels causing the driver to a) stall the car, b) accelerate too rapidly, and/or c)herky-jerkily brake. This whole automotive fantasy obviously doesn't work unless the driver is wearing a slim skirt and precipitous stilettos.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Two Kitchens

Once upon a time, I had a vision of suburban kitchens, a grand sprawling vision, supported by my mother-in-law's kitchen in the house where devoted partner grew up. There was an ample island and a breakfast nook which actually fit a circular table 6 feet in diameter, making it a room-sized nook. Sure, when I looked at that kitchen, I had different ideas of placement and utilization, but the size was just about right. So when we started looking at houses for rent, I was a trifle disappointed that the kitchens were significantly smaller than my expectations. Don't get me wrong, the average Manhattan kitchen is still dwarfed, but the average Manhattan kitchen is a 3'x2' L off the living room making the average Manhattan toilet bigger than the average Manhattan kitchen.

The house we have moved into, though, did have one of the smaller kitchens of all of the houses we looked at, and since my one deal breaker in this whole process had been ENORMOUS KITCHEN, one could wonder what changed my mind. While I should not be showing any pictures of our house at the moment because it is not fully unpacked, this is a good indication of the space I'm working with in my kitchen:

So, a decent sized kitchen, but not an Architectural Digest-type kitchen. But this house has a hidden secret. Apparently its builders were very very very dirty people. Because nestled in the basement is a laundry room the size of my dining room and kitchen put together - with its own shower and toilet. A veritable palace of clean clothing. But in the room itself was one washer, one dryer, and some cabinets. That was it. And so, the laundry room was planned out from the beginning as a second kitchen; a prep kitchen if you will.

Having interned in kitchens this past year, I learned it was common to have a prep kitchen where most of the work got done, and a service kitchen where the food made it to the plate and out to the waiting guest. I chose to model my kitchens on this theory. Downstairs will be where my work table is, and all my appliances, and most of my specialty equipment. I will be able to make and roll pasta, prepare batches of puff pastry, make chocolate, all without leaving the room. I have already debated getting an induction cooktop in case I really need to make things hot downstairs. Upstairs will be the oven and the stovetop and the place where dinner finally gets assembled - the disparate pieces perhaps having been made below and simply finished upstairs - this was how I ended up in a house with a smaller than preferable kitchen: I got two kitchens. Here's a sneak preview of the downstairs kitchen shelving:

So this is going to be a much different kitchen experience from what I'm used to. Devoted partner has developed a solution for the upstairs kitchen pot storage problem (the problem being there was no good place to store pots where they would be easily accessible) and it involves this awesome piece of apple green pegboard:

Sadly, I didn't take a picture of the pegboard color tryouts which were funny, but since the only orange available was traffic cone orange, I settled on apple green because all of the wood paneling in house does lend it a bit of a darkness I wanted to dispel. Once the pegboard is up, there will be almost nothing left to put away, and almost every item that is associated with cooking will have a designated home. I consider this a monumental accomplishment and I simply cannot wait to cook something a little more sophisticated than grilled chicken. I will supply pictures of the finishes products as they arrive.

Friday, August 14, 2009

According to the Internet

This could have gone one of two ways:

I'm an idiot, how could I even contemplate quitting smoking during my move? That's like adding insult to injury. The stress of getting everything done, not leaving priceless heirlooms to the mercy of the neighborhood children who were ready to break down my door and scavenge the second our car pulled out added to the stress of not smoking? Definitely an idiot move right there.

This is friggin' brilliant! I'm a genius. I'm going to be so consumed by the whole moving thing I'm not going to even notice the not smoking thing. Sure there will be times a cigarette would be nice, but I'll just be too busy to have the kinds of cravings that, in other circumstances, would lead me to violence against others.

Turns out I chose wisely. According to the internet, the nicotine is out of my system now (or at least out of my bloodstream). Would it be nice to be smoking while I type this? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Am I gonna? Nah. This was way easier than I expected. I've been smoking for real, for true, for sixteen years. That's buying my own packs and smoking them throughout the day smoking, not I'll have one with a beer and sometimes on the weekend smoking. And while I would certainly rather be having a cigarette than not, I am frankly amazed by how not traumatic quitting has been.

I have some theories, none of which has ever held water with others, but since this is my corner of the internet I can expound on them at will. I think the physical habit was always more important to me than the chemical one. I remember thinking this very early on in my smoking career. I liked the action of smoking; the nicotine was a secondary thing. This manifested itself in my not freaking out over long periods of time when I couldn't have a cigarette. Yes, when the plane landed I was right in line with the other addicts, but it was the action of lighting the cigarette and bringing it to my mouth that I was looking forward to, the feel of it in my hand, and not necessarily the nicotine. Call bullshit at will.

I also experienced the ill-effects of smoking less strongly than the people around me. Devoted partner would frequently cough and hack as smokers do, whereas the only time I ever noticed anything was when coming off a cold; it would take another day or two longer than normal to get over it. But I didn't wake up in the morning with phlegm, I found it no more difficult to run up stairs than I normally do (when we did that thing in science class that the Apollo astronauts had to do with blowing through the tube to keep the ping pong ball suspended, I failed spectacularly; I had no lung capacity before I started smoking; and as for the out of shape thing, well, one major life change or two at a time).

Last year when I interned in the kitchens and was afraid to take a break to pee, much less to smoke, I routinely went 10+ hours, four days a week without a cigarette, and I neither attacked my chefs with knives, nor collapsed crying in the corner. I'm not saying I plan to take up heroin, but since everyone says quitting smoking is harder than quitting heroin...

So is this bragging? It is and I'm sorry for that. But for all my bravado, I'm actually surprised that the past 6 days have gone as they have. The house is making it's way towards livability, and I'm not smoking - neither of those things has been true in my life for quite some time. I know I finagled a caveat into my quitting, that I could smoke on vacation, but I know it would be foolish to smoke during my next vacation, whenever that may be, as I should let non-smoking me get used to things for at least a year before tempting fate.

But it is possible I have replaced one addiction with another. Is it normal to go through a box of dishwasher powder in four days?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Small Differences, Chapter 1

I have cooked in my new house for the first time. As Martha would say, this is a good thing. To do this, however, I needed to go shopping. Armed with my reusable grocery bag (I really need to remember that one is NEVER enough), I went to the butcher. There had been a much beloved meat shop in Greenwich that also had a restaurant called Manero's. Sadly, it closed several years back, leaving its denizens inconsolable. Especially sad for our household was the loss of the steak sauce. A couple of bottles were left over and their contents prized like Caspian caviar. More recently, some of the old employees opened up a new meat market and rebranded the steak sauce, turning many frowns upside down. Their store, Greenwich Prime Meats, was my first stop. Ok, so inside was less of a revelation than I may have hoped. There were some predictable cuts and some prepared food and some b-list olive oil for sale, but no fascinating local specialties. Greenwich may be many things to many people, but in the years I've known it, it has never been a foodie paradise. Though, Greenwich Prime Meats, if you read this, you have an enormous picture in your shop of all the different parts of the cow, it would be nice, I think, if more of them were represented in your deli case: bottom sirloin is no one's friend; hanger, strip, flat iron, skirt - any of these would be a more welcome addition. Still, the ACT of shopping at a butcher's instead of a supermarket feels good, and I came away with some flank steak.

Next door is the Bon Ton Fish Market, the real aim of my day's shopping. I wanted my first meal to be fish. A) because I notoriously suck at cooking any fish that isn't a scallop; B) I am not smoking and am adamant that I will not put lots of other things in my mouth instead thereby causing me to blow up like a hippo, ergo nice good for you low fat fish is something I should be eating more of which means; C) I should learn how to cook the stuff. The fish market was quite nice and there was a fair bit of selection - much more than at the supermarket, and it looked good and fresh and inviting. I asked the fishmonger what had been caught nearby, and aside from a little confusion as to whether or not Nova Scotia could be considered nearby (it can't unless it is compared to, say the Bering Strait in which case, yes Nova Scotia is nearer by), there were quite a number of options, though ecologically unsoundly, my eyes did linger overlong on both the mahi mahi and the grouper. I settled on a lemon sole filet which looked quite nice and quite bone free. Now a note to the nice people at Bon Ton Fish. I think, if I am not mistaken, that your scallops were selling in the neighborhood of $18/pound. This is too much for scallops. The Union Square Greenmarket, with its, shall we way, luxurious prices, sells scallops for $14/pound. Please reconsider. I love scallops, but would seriously consider tacking on 30 minutes to my commute to stop by 14th street to pick up my scallops there.

Ok, protein assembled, now it needs to go with something. And I was off to the Whole Foods. One of the chief selling points of this house was its proximity to the Whole Foods, a store I was initially suspicious of, but have come to love over time, and now really dislike shopping elsewhere. The Greenwich Whole Foods does need some help, though. It is, bizarrely, significantly smaller than the Whole Foods on 14th, 23rd, 59th, and Houston - suburbs are supposed to have the ridiculously outsized grocery stores! This one is frankly petite. As such, it's a little more cramped, but so so so so much better than the alternative (mostly because when faced with the Entemann's aisle at the Stop & Shop, I find my self drawn to its tasteless yet familiar "baked goods").

[Commence rant on current offerings at supermarkets]
Once upon a time I was younger and went to school surrounded by other children. These children had a surprising lack of allergies to: peanuts, lactose, gluten, color, air, water, etc. In fact, I have met a number of people in my life and I know 2 people who are lactose intolerant and have met 2 people who can't eat gluten. Who are the rest of you and why are you systematically destroying my supermarket? I wanted yogurt. Simple, whole milk yogurt. Yes, in a perfect world I wanted banana yogurt, but I am a realistic woman and I would settle for strawberry. Do you know how many yogurts at Whole Foods are NOT MADE WITH MILK? 5. Do we really need 5 different kinds of soy yogurt? Surely one is sufficient considering not that many of you can't have milk! Then there was nonfat yogurt, lowfat yogurt, a bewildering assortment of maple flavored yogurt, some goat yogurt, and one, that's O-N-E whole milk strawberry yogurt. I would waste some more time on the gluten-free, well everything, also the vegan stuff, but if you can't tell, this gets me actually angry as opposed to fake angry. If we are producing children so incredibly frail that milk and bread will kill them, well, all I can say is I need to pay more attention to my Mandarin homework because the end of American hegemony is far closer than I feared.
[end rant]

The point of this long foray into my personal shopping habits (for those really interested we had lemon sole with a radish and scallion butter reduction, sauteed radishes and pilau with a 2006 Bouzeron that I thought I wouldn't ever be able to find and Smith & Vine in Brooklyn carries), was to share my excitement at the chalkboard posted right outside Whole Foods: farmer's markey Wednesday 8:00am-sellout; in the Whole Foods parking lot.

Awesome! Wednesday was my traditional market day in New York, I can continue the tradition here. Besides the official town of Greenwich market isn't until Saturday and I have fears about Saturday markets being really crowded and kind of pushy and shovey. So a Wednesday market suits me fine. So this morning, I packed up the car and headed out (I've decided why I keep stalling the car by the way - the cool floor mats have ridges that catch even the tips and heels of flip flops - so until I swap them out, I'll be driving barefoot). I got to a suspiciously empty Whole Foods parking lot. I saw a guy selling flowers and plants and not much else. So I walked around the parking lot. Nope, no market. Maybe 8:00am was ambitious. True, I had waited until 9:15 to st out, thinking that 8 was ambitious, but perhaps the vendors showed up closer to noon and hit up people on their lunch breaks. I went inside the Whole Foods to inquire at customer service. The verdict?

That WAS the market. That one dude selling, I'm really sorry to say this buddy, some of the sickliest looking herbs I've seen in a while, his flora was the market. No fruit, no poultry, no weird mushrooms. One guy and what looks like the flowers and herbs he grows in his own 1/4 acre backyard. Perhaps calling that a "Farmer's Market" is a bit like my calling the fire escape at my old apartment a "deck."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

An Open Letter Composed While Unpacking Books

Dear Amherst College,

I get it. I really truly do. After ten years in which I didn't give you more than a passing thought, you have reasserted yourself into my thoughtscape. We didn't get along, you and I, something you repeatedly told me was "my problem." Ok, time heals most wounds. You gave me my life partner and that's no small feat, so, um, thanks for that. I never thought my single on the 2nd floor of Stearns would yield a suitable mate, and yet twelve years later...yes, we're all bored with the twelve years later story. But, I always felt as though there was something more, something you were forbidden from openly disclosing, but something so important, so mania-inducing, that you nearly burst from the pressure of holding it in. And now, as I stand in a sunny office in my new dwelling in the Amherst College-appropriate location of Greenwich, Connecticut, I understand what it was you were trying to tell me those four (ok, three) years you had me in your boring, icy grasp.

You love Proust.

You love him like chocolate and ponies and sunbeams all rolled into one.

The hard-on you have for Proust is so enormous, not even the lofty yet architecturally derivative Johnson Chapel could hope to contain it.

You cannot, for love, money, or your own sanity, get enough of Le Monsieur des Madeleines.

Though perhaps I go too far. You didn't seem to have much use for, by my count, 1,934 of his pages (and let's be fair, you didn't really seem to ever get past the Combray section of Swann's Way, so let's make it an even 2100). But those 150 pages, by Vishnu, did you collectively experience the mother of all petits morts every time you broke the spine!

How else can I explain the sheer number of copies I am currently unpacking? It is true, I read about all of Marcel's diarrheic dyspepsia long before I trod your hallowed halls, and I maintain that it is entirely possible that by slogging away through Cities of the Plain, I successfully read more of this pile of fumier de cheval than any of your tenured professors (in my edition, boys, it's in the second volume). One of your shepherds of my mind didn't even bother asking us to purchase the complete book, but assigned a Vintage Classics copy of just Swann's Way. What can I take from this decision? It couldn't possibly have been your concern for my or my fellow student's pocketbooks (Amherst students don't have those kinds of concerns, and god help you if you were a scholarship student attempting to major in a frickin' science), and were the book as monumental as its repeated inclusion on syllabi all but assures, why wouldn't I, a fertile plain in the hands of a seasoned farmer, derive much from further reading. Having gotten so much out of the mere first book of this treasure trove, wouldn't you want me to inflame my passions further over the summer by completing the book? Yea, wouldn't my education be woefully incomplete without having this experience?

I contend that your frequent repetition of this tranche, was intellectual fraud of the lowest kind; a poseurism so devoid of artifice so as to convince the onlooker that it was sincere all along. The transparent attempt to make one's faculty seem hyper well-read by assigning and reassigning a book which, had any of the faculty ACTUALLY read would have obviated the need for even contemplating instructing others in its self-indulgent onanistic crapulence, was a masterstroke simply because it was so obvious as to not possibly have been true.

And for ten years, I bought this line of thinking. I couldn't imagine that the 150K or so your bachelor's degree was valued at in the late 90s was the product of the selfsame bombastic bullshittery we students so excelled at (excelled at, as luck would have it, in the very courses that taught Proust). No wonder students and faculty got along so well - all of us were talking utter gobshite about books we had never read!

But it leaves me with quite a conundrum. I have not even reached the halfway mark of my book unpacking and so far I have:

1. The first copy of Remembrance of Things Past, hardcover, two volumes, I ever bought, circa 1994 at a used book store, quite possibly in Hadley, Mass (this should have clued me in come to think of it);

2. The Modern Library hardcover edition of Swann's Way assigned by a professor who obviously thought my upper body strength could use some work, and that I should use those dollars I had earned art modeling for something more important than cigarettes;

3. Volume 2 of the old Vintage Edition whose existence is suspect to me as it does not contain the inimitable Swann's Way, leading me to believe volumes 1 and 3 are lurking in another box;

4. And of course, the Vintage paperback of just Swann's Way.

I shudder to think how many others are waiting to join these already shelved. Sure, an astute observer would wonder why a student would continue to purchase the same book when she had purchase it a semester or two previously, but there's the rub: had I known I would be assigned the book again, I might have brought it back to school with me. Without that foreknowledge, I was consigned to the Soviet-era booklines like all my classmates rather than suffer the indignity of showing up to class without the book while my put upon mother ransacked the house to find it and send it up.

And of course, the kicker is, no matter how much I know I will never read any part of this book again, not even in French as practice; no matter how many copies emerge from my boxes, I know they will stay, year after year, as part of the Yelena permanent collection because I suffer just like you, my wayward profs. I know in my heart of hearts the simple truth you tried to impart to me those many years ago:

only the lowliest of Plebes, the least accomplished Lord Jeff of them all, would dare do something as crass as to throw out Proust.

Yours repetitively encore et encore une autre fois,


Suburban Dictionary, Entry 1: Dishwasher

dishwasher -noun

A machine for washing dishes automatically.

Not from the German geschirrsp├╝lmaschine, but I do like telling people I know the German word for dishwasher, and if you try saying it, gesheershpoolmachiner, you'll see how much fun it is too.

Now from what I have gathered having spent a day playing with this machiner, is that if you feed it powdered soap and dishes, it returns you very hot very clean dishes. This seems a spectacular invention as washing dishes using one's hands involves a) work, b) time, and c) chapped hands. Also, for example, if one were to ask one's devoted partner to wash the dishes by hand, there is an excellent chance that said dishes would not be returned to the shelves in optimum cleanness. However, with the use of this machine, one's devoted partner need only not break the dishes as they are "loaded" into the machine.

Caveat: apparently, this machine is not friendly to one's expensive pots, nor large enough for one's sheet pans; however, the internets tell me I can clean my sex toys in it - having, they warn, removed the batteries first. So, good to know.

It seems that many people outside of an urban environment have these handy little machines in their kitchens. I have heard, from time to time, of an urban dweller managing to get his hands on one as well, but at what price? The urban dweller must disguise himself as a suburbanite when entering the appliance store or the salesperson will not sell him a dishwasher. It is a well known fact that these magic machines are intentionally kept from urbanites for fear that they would be able to slowly interpolate all the perks of suburban life into their urban existences thereby leading suburban value to drop rapidly. Complicit in this conspiracy are New York City landlords who consider dishwasher ownership and installation cause for eviction and lawsuit. The average landlord would sooner allow a tenant to breed English Mastiffs in an apartment than install a dishwasher. So those brave souls who have managed to smuggle dishwashers into their apartments should be feared and worshiped; they have powers I personally would not want to fall afoul of.

My delight in this nifty gadget was such that I spent all day yesterday washing things. I rationalized that the dishes hadn't been so clean before I packed them, and that I packed them in newspaper rendering them still less clean. Certainly after spending all that time inexpertly papering my shelves with trompe l'oeil marble shelf paper, it was necessary to make sure the plates etc. that were shelved were in pristine condition.

Now, the machine does seem to take a while, mostly on the drying part of the process. It soaps and rinses the dishes in about 6 minutes or so, and then spends the next hour drying them. The drying process does nothing to cool the dishes meaning that unless you possess super calluses or don't much care how many items you drop on the floor, the dishes are too hot to handle once the drying process is over, so you open the door and let them cool for 10 or so minutes. So let's say, for argument's sake, that the whole soup to nuts process, including loading and unloading, takes about 1:30. The dishwasher is not capable of handling all of one's dishes in one go, especially if one, for inexplicable reasons, owns, say, 20 espresso saucers. This makes me wonder about the dishwasher's efficacy in the face of a dinner party for eight, but I guess one loads the appetizer and hors d'oeuvres dishes as soon as they're cleared and hopes the cycle will be complete by the time the meal is over and the dinner and dessert plates need washing.

All in all, this seems to be a handy tool for those too lazy to wash dishes in a timely fashion; and in this devoted partner and I are both implicated. I will soon be able to test the dinner dishes theory as devoted partner suggested that in the next two weeks we have my mother-in-law and father-in-law for dinner on separate nights...

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Stuff and Where It Might Be

We have been here 36 hours. Number of boxes unpacked: 0. We did find the alarm clock this morning because it went off, thereby leading us to its hiding place. Our move took about three times as long as I thought, mostly because I thought we had less crap. Our movers were terrific and did not demonstrate that they were put out by the fact that a 3 hour planned move took 8 hours. In fact the only thing that sucked about moving day was my car.

My brand new, first ever car that I love dearly even though we have been together a short while. The spiffy red car that has miles only I have put on it that I swore I would not park on the street in my neighborhood Friday night. No, said I, I would not permit my lovely new car to be sat on my hooligans, broken into, or stolen outright (though I might enjoy watching the mouth-breathers from my neighborhood attempt to drive a manual); instead, I would put it into the only reputable looking garage in the neighborhood, pay the 20 bucks for safety and security, and pick my car up in the morning no worse for the wear. I have just now returned from the Port Chester train station in his car, after dropping him off because my car? Still in the garage. Why, you might inquire, is your car still in the garage when you have been a suburbanite for 36 hours? That is an excellent question for which I have a terrible answer: the elevator at the garage is broken. So my shiny car is on level 2 with no way of getting to level 1. They don't know when the elevator will be fixed and given that the garage is located in my old neighborhood where things operate on UST, Uptown Standard Time, it could be many a moon before Big Red (not ACTUALLY the name of the car because I don't name cars or private parts) is reunited with me. This sucks.

Our living room and bedroom are the only two currently functioning rooms. I say this because I am typing this port from a computer that sits atop my dresser. As the movers were planning to move my desk out of my old bedroom, we realized it was no longer structurally sound and left it there, leaving me one desk short. The dresser desk is a temporary solution which is hard on my knees (they are what's currently pressing against the drawers). Instead of unpacking, yesterday we shopped, and for the most alluring of items: laundry hamper, trash bags, shelf paper, garbage cans. The shelf paper is what is confronting me today. This is an older house and before I go unwrapping all our gear, I'm going to repaper all the shelves - this job fills me with so much apprehension, I'm considering calling my mom for help (I'm not really great at a) straight line cutting or b) adhesives).

I'm also debating the Great Book Unpacking of 2009. Even with the 300 or so books that didn't make the cut - I'm looking at you high school copy of Macbeth - there are a number of boxes of books. Our movers commented on this several times. What stops me from diving straight into the books is that, technically, this room, my office, can stay unpacked longer than, say, the kitchen. It's not an essential room. as is obvious from the fact that it is an office with a dresser for a desk. The kitchen should be dealt with because it helps us eat; on the other hand, nothing in my office requires shelf paper.

My early review of this house is I love it. It's definitely big enough and I foresee lots of multi-level shouting since his office is downstairs and mine is upstairs. It had been raining quite a bit preventing us from doing all the backyard frolicking I had foreseen (the presence of neighbors with children will most likely prevent all the types of frolicking that could go on), but I smoked my last cigarette in the backyard right before bed on Saturday, and it felt nice to have a before bed outdoor area that didn't have other people blasting music in it. The living room is shaping up nicely. We liberated a chair, ottoman, and rug from my "mother-in-law" and as soon as we locate a rug pad (oversight, I know), I think the rug will be a welcome addition. It's seriously ugly, but in a way that completely matches the room (the room isn't ugly per se, it's just very retro - I promise pictures when things are better looking than they are right now).

So I commence papering. This is a lie. First I am going to unpack the espresso machine and have a cup of coffee; then I am going to contemplate the great papering. I just thought I should be honest.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Penultimate Day On My Block

I'm glad I had the stoop sale if only for the last hurrah feeling it gave me; I'm less enamored of the 54 dollars it netted me, but I should have remembered my neighbors aren't the greatest of book enthusiasts - the Playstation 2 games went immediately. I was in front of the building before 10:30 and was swiftly joined by two neighbors I have known essentially since moving in. R is a science geek who greedily will talk to my better half for ages, rather intelligently, about anything he recently read or heard or saw on TV pertaining to science. I give him my old copies of National Geographic and on our recent trip to Egypt, we brought him back his name in hieroglyphics on a piece of papyrus. R's only major deficiency is that he is an alcoholic, and not the functional kind. He is drunk all of the time and as a result obviously has no job and isn't able to keep his thoughts together. I would put him in his mid-40s. He recently suffered a severe fall, alcohol-induced no doubt, and was in the hospital and recovery for several months. He lives with his sister, his mother, his brother, and a bewildering assortment of other people most of whom, I think, are related. His sister, J, is also an alcoholic, but an avid amateur student of history. Their alcoholism is the only thing that makes them typical of our neighbors.

Harmless to us, we have always had a pleasant relationship and I was not dissatisfied that they elected to join me for my stoop sale. Sure, I didn't understand everything they said to me after a certain point had been reached, but for whatever it means, they're good people. I spent the very first part of the day chatting with their nephew, a newlywed who is ostensibly studying criminal justice, though he wasn't quite able to articulate in what capacity.

Sales were predictably not brisk, and R and J bought several items at my recession-friendly prices. Nothing was more than $5, most things were a buck. My one proud moment of the day was carrying on a comprehensible conversation with a customer in Spanish. I do not speak Spanish. I speak a decent amount of French and applied my normal romance language strategy to this scenario: speak the French word in a Spanish way (recently this strategy was woefully inadequate as I attempted a conversation in Fritalian with some Italians while waiting on line at the airport - it also does not, in any way work in Portuguese - so maybe this is a stupid strategy. All I know is that the woman asked how much things were, I told her, I asked her how far away her apartment was, and provided a bag when asked for one).

As the day progressed, more people stopped to chat. Soon, neighbors were returning to their apartments with chairs, and my stoop sale became a small-scale block party. This was kind of fun. But my fellow stoopers were drinking the morning and early afternoon away which led, predictably, to fights as the day wore on. The nephew fought with the aunt; the uncle, incapacitated by a bum leg, kept trying to get up to defend his sister; people unrelated to the parties attempted to break things up. A book was thrown. A cane was brandished as a weapon. The n-word was used so many times I am surprised it still holds meaning. See also both f-words, the a-word, the s-word, the mf-word, and some local patois words I am certain are not kind. Then there were tears and recriminations and parties heading to opposite sides of the street. The girl next to me, unrelated but a neighborhood fixture, and the boy who lives in the building that we have christened "the evil kid" couldn't stop laughing which made it difficult for me not to laugh because this was funny - funny in the way drunks fighting is funny. So not really funny, but embarrassing enough you giggle. Following the fight more alcohol was drunk from paper bags (and this was alcohol, not beer), some pills were taken, and explanations were made about how no one's going to talk to me like that and he thinks he's so special but he's nothing without his welfare check.

The saddest part of the day was when R started talking to me about how he and family could come visit us at our new house for backyard barbecues. I had already determined that I would continue sending him my old National Geographics, but that was the extent of the keeping in touch I was going to do. I don't have fond memories of living here and, as disgusting as this sounds, the act of sending a disabled person with a love of science copies of magazines he wouldn't otherwise buy seemed a good deed. Spending social time with the same neighbor and his extended family when not required to by proximity? I couldn't imagine anything I'm less likely to do. This isn't a place I'll come back and visit for old time's sake.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Must One Pack Egg Noodles?

Admittedly, yesterday was a success. The kitchen is packed. For those of you who know my kitchen, please rest assured that all important goods, the tapioca maltodextrin, the bizarre juice pressers, the 697 spatulae, have found a new home in a labeled box. This means that around 95% of all items in the house that are going into the moving truck have been packed. It also means that the remaining 5% is assorted crap. The boxes are big, the assorted crap, if sorted, too small, by theme, for any box. This is the part of packing, or cleaning, I might add, that I hate - the leftovers.

Adding to this, I learned yesterday that my darling will not be home this evening as I had assumed, but will rather be arriving tomorrow evening, as he is taking the red eye from the west coast tonight and going straight to work. After seething a little, I have decided that all the truly horrible remaining tasks will be assigned to him - I think it's only fair. Whatever lives under our bed? Him. Cleaning our bookshelves? Him. This is only slightly comforting.

It's 8am and I'm having second thoughts about my stoop sale. Do I really want to sit outside in the hopes that someone will want our George Foreman grill for $5? Do I want to find and clean off all the stuff to be sold? Will several hours of my day yield anything more than half a tank of gas money? From a procrastination standpoint, it's terrific - several hours sitting outside instead of locked in the humid apartment discovering more places mice have evacuated their bowels; but from a practical standpoint, perhaps not so much. It's just that some of the remaining chores are, well, so petty.

1. The ginormous plastic tubs of chocolate and sugar should have their casters removed and be duct taped so they will survive the journey.
2. The liquor needs to be boxed.
3. Makeup, unguents, jewelry, knick-knacks must find a home in a box.
4. Some decision must be made about the garbage bags of old clothing.
5. Printer paper, tax documents, computer accouterments, those need packing too.
6. The floor: what's on it? Do I care? Shouldn't I just swoop it all up, put it in a box and worry about it later?
7. We're missing a cordless phone. I don't want to go looking for it.

But the biggest single task ahead is foodstuffs. My shelves are mostly bare - they've been pruned and much has been thrown out i.e. the half cup of rice in an enormous container, spices so old they resemble dust more than aromatics, rancid oils, etc. But now what remains must be either pruned or packed. Will this stuff survive? I have about 1.5 quarts of homemade vanilla extract in mason jars - it has taken over a year to get the flavor concentrated and I'll be pretty upset if they spill. Which spices do I keep? What about noddles? Even if the package is unopened, isn't it better to toss it and spend the buck fifty sometime next week? Does one really need to pack egg noodles? What about a box of kosher salt? Surely my parents, in the age old tradition of bizarre old country customs, will be providing me with new salt when they come for the first time. Also salt costs a dollar. Can't I throw out the salt? These are the questions which are plaguing me and making me consider just one more cup of coffee and 37 more cigarettes.

Oh, and there's the rub.

I'm quitting smoking on Saturday.

See, I left that little pearl for the end. He quit four weeks ago on his last day at the old job. I said I'd follow suit on the first day we slept in our new house. So every cigarette between now and then is bittersweet. I've been smoking for quite some time. I love to smoke. Ask anyone who knows me. I don't actually want to quit. I hold out hope that the news will break tomorrow that they've found a cure for all the ails smokers and they have started to add it to all cigarettes. Yes, yes, I'm going to quit. It is the right thing to do - it just also happens to suck. I weaseled in a caveat to the deal: that I have the option to smoke on vacation, because driving through foreign countries without a cigarette in hand seems somehow barbaric, but who knows if I'll follow through on that. I don't fear a relapse, I'm stubborn as hell, but what fun will the smoking be if it's just for that week? Then there's the weight gain. I've made some downward progress in that department over the past year and I'm not super enthusiastic about yielding it. But that's all nothing compared to the honest truth that I love smoking. I will miss it terribly, and should therefore really spend the day sitting in front of my computer smoking.

Shouldn't I?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I Don't Think I Smell Good

It's quarter past nine in the morning and I've been up for three hours, a feat generally only accomplished when I have to be at an airport. I'm procrastinating and listening to The Poseidon Adventure in the background because I'm moving on Saturday and the apartment only seems a little packed. I paint a lovely picture this morning: I'm wearing my best friend's college lacrosse shorts (circa 1996), a girly tank top that reads "Treasure Chest" exactly where you would assume it would, and what were once pink flip flops. I am not wearing deodorant which is probably what accounts for that smell. My legs and underarms could use some attention in the depilatory department, my eyebrows need tweezing, and my upper lip is begging for bleach. All the clean clothing has been packed, so the next four days are going to be outfitted by whatever is still on the floor - so, no underwear pretty much.

I am thirty-two years old and apart from the college years in Massachusetts, have only ever lived in Manhattan. I knew I would only ever live in Manhattan. This was my home and I wasn't moving anywhere (except maybe Paris, which is like New York but with French people and more bakeries). So for the ten years since college ended I have made my home in Manhattan. Sort of. You see, I can't afford to live in Manhattan. Pretty much no one I know can. True, most of the people I know do live in Manhattan, but few of them in places the average 32-year old would consider a home. Not wanting to spend the better part of my patchy salary on shoeboxes, I made the decision early on to be an urban homesteader i.e. live uptown. Really, really uptown.

I made my first home in an illegal 3-bedroom sublet on 110th street at a time when 110th street was still terra incognita for the college educated white girl. Cab drivers dropping me off would ask if I was sure this was where I wanted to go. It was a great apartment that I was eventually evicted from for being an illegal occupant in the first place. By the time of my eviction, NY1 had done stories on my very block and how nice it was and how other college-educated white people should certainly move there, essentially raising the average rents to a point where I could no longer happily afford to live there.

Enter a disastrous one-year experiment in Spanish Harlem - a neighborhood I assure you was not gentrified then and is not gentrified now (seven years later). I lived in a street-facing first floor two bedroom with my roommate and frequently also with my boyfriend, right next door to a chicken slaughterhouse. No, I did not make that up. You can go check it out on 117th street between 2nd and 3rd avenues. This apartment had a lot of problems, the most notable being the vibrant sidewalk culture. By vibrant, I mean loud and constant. I called the cops (the precinct, not 911) numerous times for noise complaints. At 4am. On a Tuesday. Because someone though jacking up the radio in his car and testing out his oversized speakers was a neighborly thing to do in front of my window. Again, at 4am on a Tuesday.

We fled from that place. This time it was the roommate, the boyfriend, and me, searching for something that would accomodate all of us and have some of those creature comforts, like an elevator, a super, and ground clearance. But now it was 2003. People had been hearing things about this place called Harlem, and it wasn't even remotely possible to find a deal in any of the neighborhoods that were actually up and coming. I saw an apartment overlooking the 1/9 train station on 124th street - and yes, you do notice that subways come by every three minutes; don't let a real estate agent tell you you'll get used to it. I saw a "four bedroom" apartment through, and I'll say it, the only real estate agency I would never advise anyone to use, Manhattan Apartments, and was berated by the showing agent for walking out within thirty seconds.

"What's wrong with this one," he sighed, "it's a four bedroom!"
"I couldn't actually fit beds in any of the rooms."
"You could fit a twin!"

I found a great apartment with four actual bedrooms, thus realizing my dream of having a dining room, and had the money in hand when we were informed the police department would be taking that apartment effective immediately to perform surveillance of known criminals on the block. Awesome!

But finally, we found what was, cosmetically, a good fit. A three-bedroom apartment on 146th street with an elevator, a super, and the poor man's porch: a fire escape. The price was right and we signed.

Fast forward six years. If I was not moving out this weekend, it is entirely possible I would be committing a series of felonies against, well anyone who looked at me funny. My landlords? Classic slumlords. When calling the office to ask for the mailing address (we've paid automatically through the bank since day 1) to formally submit our resignation, I was asked a series of questions before the information was freely given, and by freely given, I mean the woman at the office sighed repeatedly and relented after I asked if there was some special reason for keeping the address from me, a government secret perhaps.

Here are just some of the problems with the building:

1. Filthy
2. Elevator frequently and mysteriously out of service (including from the last weekend in June through Labor Day last summer)
3. Super obviously has second job as superhero as he is never ever around except when
4. Blasting the same 6 songs from his stereo in the courtyard below my window pretty much any evening the weather is nice
5. Illegal gambling operation in first floor apartment sanctioned by management as they installed the "security camera" in that apartment
6. Broken front door. When door is not broken, it soon becomes broken as neighbors bash door in when they forget keys
7. Occasional pharmaceutical sales in back of lobby
8. Buzzer has been broken for three years - no requests for fixing it have been responded to
9. Leak in bathroom from apartment above frequently resulting in my returning home to three inches of water on floor; also gaping hole in ceiling from water damage. No repairs scheduled
10. Neighbors let dogs pee in public hallways

Now I know you're wondering how on earth we stayed here for six years. We didn't mean to. In fact, every year we only signed on for One More Year, but then we didn't do anything about it because the status quo was what we knew and I didn't want to leave Manhattan, though I certainly didn't want to move any further uptown. My original roommate moved out and to Brooklyn, his replacement, a very bad decision from Craigslist who still owes us lots of money, also fled when we asked him to make good on his back rent, but we just didn't know where to go and, there were some upsides.

Our below market rent allowed us to do other things with our money, specifically travel. By my count, since moving here in 2003, we have been to the following places: Bahamas x2, France x3, Corsica (technically still France), Cayman Islands, Portugal, Egypt - that's 1.5 international trips per year. This has been a good thing. But we hate it here. We hate everything about it. We hate that there's no truly edible food available for delivery and that the grocery store looks like something from a post-apocalyptic nightmare. We hate that we're pretty sure our own neighbors broke into our car. We hate that our neighbors break the door and leave their trash in the halls, both in bags and just as loose refuse. We hate that nothing ever gets fixed and more often than not new things get broken. But what we could not abide was that every year as the quality of life stayed the same or tumbled, the rent kept going up. Sure, it's still the cheapest 3-bedroom apartment you'll find, but it's no longer dirt cheap. So I said in March that I didn't care where we went, but that we had to get out of this place before I went completely off the deep end.

So I started getting on board with the idea of the outer boroughs though, sadly, I'd be trading one marginal neighborhood in Manhattan for a marginal neighborhood in Brooklyn. As the economy kept tumbling I got hopeful: perhaps we did wait long enough and the decently sized two bedroom apartment of our dreams, south of 92nd street, could be found. Sadly, no. While that 2.5 million dollar two bedroom apartment is now closer to 1.8 million dollars, that's still about 1 million dollars more than we could comfortably afford, and that's after hitting up all existing relatives for dough. Yes, there are $800,000 two bedrooms, but I've seen them and they're not for me. I won't be spending 60% and more of my income to live in a 10x10 bedroom with a 8x13 living room. No thank you. I'll go back to my original plan of waiting for them to discover something horribly toxic endemic to living in New York that only people who were born with have immunity to (and this saves my better half because he was, in fact, born in Manhattan).

Then the unexpected happened: his company got bought, he found a new job, and the job was in Westchester. Suddenly we were not going to be moving to Brooklyn or Queens, we were going to start looking at the novel idea of renting. A house.
The idea had been tossed around, ostensibly for years. He's a suburban boy who has always hated the idea of apartment living with its cramped quarters and utter lack of outdoor space. I took one look at where he grew up and swore I would never live someplace like that. Everyone looked the same and you had to drive everywhere - even if you just needed a Milky Way bar at midnight. Then there was the drunk driving, the cultural vacuum, and the evils of something called lawn care.

But a lot can happen over the course of a twelve year and counting relationship. Perhaps I've mellowed. Or perhaps it was the perfect storm of events: my increasing homicidal tendencies coupled with the new job. So we found ourselves talking to real estate agents who didn't expect 20% of the rent in fees or the blood of a virgin to seal the deal. We named our price and then saw ACTUAL HOUSES. Lots of them. All over the Westchester area. We had a couple of dealbreakers: no multi-family houses, a decently sized backyard, a basement, but we still ended up seeing nearly 20 houses, all but two of them perfectly livable.

Sure, I wanted the least practical of the bunch: the four acre on a lake creaky Hansel and Gretel cottage, but it had no garage and no basement, and was really really far away. So we looked at the rest and, after some crying on my part, settled on the one that made the most sense: good space, two-car garage, 10 minute commute for him, 2 minutes to the train station for me. There was just one problem.

The house is in Greenwich.

As in Connecticut.

As in the place he grew up I swore I would never live.

But I'm kind of excited. You see, I now have a car. A shiny red VW Jetta with a 2.5 liter engine and a five-speed manual transmission that purrs like nobody's business sitting in my garage in Connecticut. I'm going to have a dining room complete with a lovely bay window. I compromised on the kitchen, which is a little small, because there's an enormous laundry room downstairs that I'm going to turn into a prep kitchen complete with metal shelving and room for my chest freezer, wine fridge, and ice cream maker.

Yet there is always a caveat. This one was unavoidable. The love of my life, right now? In San Francisco for work, while I clear out our apartment and box things, and sweep up mouse shit (did I not include major vermin problems as one of the things I hate about this apartment? I don't know how I could have missed including it, it's evidence is EVERYWHERE). Yes, my wonderful mother is coming over later today to help me box up plates and glasses (because if I did it on my own, there would only be dangerous shards when we unpacked later), but I am frankly overwhelmed. Who knew we had this much crap? And as I look at what's not coming with us, I'm even more amazed. There are about 15 boxes of books, but there are also about two bookcases worth of books that will no longer be members of our family.

So why blog?

Because Saturday evening at a get-together a girl I had gone to middle school with said, "you should totally blog about your move and the transition." I don't know if it will be funny, and I don't know if I'll stick with it (I have a horrible track record), but I'm going to try. And now I must, must, must, return to the task at hand. However, writing this down has shamed me.

I just put on deodorant.