Vacation – Got the Jimmy Legs


Feeling Minnesota

Jeannie's mom reunites with former school chum Nick, at his bar

I've been officially back from vacation for 8 hours and I'm already looking for some place to hide. I'm sure it's just the initial surge of work/stress rushing into the vacuum of leisure time and once the worst of it is over it will all feel normal again. But until then, ugh. Anyway, here's what I did last week. (more…)

We'll be fighting in the streets

Meet the new boss

Just when we thought we couldn't handle one more thing, our neighbor informed us she had been seeing 2 new small kittens in her yard. Since we had already taken 5 kittens from her I couldn't think of a way to refuse. So I went and get them. These kittens are much younger than the first batch, probably just over a month old. But they are already rather feral.

They hiss and spit at us when we first approach, but unlike the older kittens, they seem to relax when we pick them up. They are small and fragile-feeling, with worm-bloated bellies and blue eyes. Their appearance has made taming the first group a little harder, but also sheds a light on the fact that this problem will not go away on its own. We need to get this colony fixed and fast.

We have inquiries in to the two main spay clinics, the ASPCA and The Toby Project. We also have a friend who has connections who will split a spay van with us if it becomes available. The whole thing is exactly the sort of slow-burning stress that I was really hoping to avoid this summer. But we don't always get to pick our battles.  There are some 15 cats across the street who need fixing yet, they range from mostly feral to hardly feral; I was able to pet several of them while I was trapping the kittens. That means against all odds these street-born cats have learned how to tame themselves, at least when food is around. It's kind of depressing when you realize how intelligent an animal is, and what it means for the hardships they've had to endure. You just think, they know how bad they have it.

Anyway, the real crux of the biscuit right now is that we are on the eve of our first out-of-town trip in over a year. To bring about such a momentous feat, we needed the help of lots of people. We not only have a sitter for the cats, we have one for the house (and birds, and plants) and one for these kittens. Not to mention all the great advice we've gleaned from other friends who are way more knowledgeable than us on kittens. It's been years since we've had kittens in the house and these are tougher as they're already somewhat feral. And there's SEVEN of them.

So thanks to all our sitters and fosters and advice-givers, I sort of wish all of this work was going to a more exotic trip. But in reality we will be attneding the 100th birthday party for one of Jeannie's aunts, in Northern Minnesota. Rock on!

We'll also be visiting Jeannie's old haunts in Minneapolis, my first time there, so that will be pretty cool, too. At any rate it's 7 days of Super 8 Motel continental breakfasts and cable tv! But when we get back, it's right back to kitten-taming and cat fixing business as usual.

From safety to where … ?

clouds on the horizon

I am back from vacation and finally settling in enough to blog and do things people normally do. We were in St. Thomas again, which was the last place we went for a 'real' vacation almost 2 years ago. We did go to Cleveland last summer, but hey, it's Cleveland. Anyway, as you know, St. Thomas is nothing but beach-lounging and relative-mooching for a week. Jeannie's sister took care of the cats while we were gone, guaranteeing her eventual canonization. People covered for me at work for the first time in recorded history, so this trip did not involve driving halfway across the island to an Internet cafe to do 'urgent' job crap. It was very relaxing; and a good thing it was.

Getting back to work was rough, none of these emails made sense, nor did I remember why I cared about it all. My boss' boss was in town, which should have been a sign. She had been away to start an online business by herself and hadn't been to this office for over a year (she's based in the UK). But she took us out to a fancy lunch and said many nice things about our dept's work. Then like a drunken one-night-stand, the next morning brought with it long faces and muttered apologies.

"This has absolutely no bearing on the quality of your work," she assured us repeatedly. As it turned out, she had come to tell us that our group will be eliminated by the end of October. The work we have been doing will be distributed among the staff who are lucky enough to live in the UK and Asia. Despite the fact that we are a global business and are all well-versed in conference calling and asynchronous group work, management apparently has never been comfortable having the marketing people in the US. So they've quietly hired more marketing people abroad and finally threw the switch.

Reaction was a stunned silence, although later everyone said they had seen it coming. Still it's hard to be told that you're losing your job. I felt a strange sense of relief, like the billion emails I was still catching up with suddenly just don't matter anymore. Unfortunately, they still do sort of matter, I have 3 more months to slog through before emancipation. So how do you ramp up the faux-enthusiasm for work you've been barely maintaining when you know you're getting canned anyway?

I guess I can stop thinking up ways to distinguish myself in the field. No more favors! Troubleshoot your OWN printer difficulties! Create your own PDF files, dammit! I have to figure out what my job has been for the past 3 years so I can update my resume (circa 1999)!

I'm getting a severance "package" which is some money and near as I can figure, not much else. I have the option of paying for my own health insurance and receiving $405 a week from unemployment. I'd be fine with all of this but I'll be out of work going into November, not known as a great time to find a new job. I might get a new job before the deadline, but then I don't get the severance dough, right. Screw that! I wanna get paid!

So now I am faced with the notion of finding a new career, mid-30s style. I sure hope I don't have to work in the same industry as I have for the past decade. I would like to think I won't have to do web-related work, but what else is there? I have a master's degree in poetry; my main skill still is a knowledge of Microsoft Office slightly above that of a novice. I gotta find a way to work in an industry I actually care about, like music or art or cats.

Cursory job searches are demonstrating little so far. I could get a job driving the ASPCA's mobile adoption van, that would be pretty sweet. But maybe I have some other skill I could apply in the service of a discipline I admire, yet to be revealed. I dunno. All I know is I can't believe I have to stay here 3 more months before I can get outta here! Do they really think I'm gonna give 110% anymore? No! I shall give no more than 65% at any time until Halloween.

It's the only way to live in cars

Every New Yorker without a car should force themselves to rent a car at least once a year, if only to reiterate the inherent smartness of living the rest of the year without one. Sure there is the initial joy of feeling like you can go anywhere! do anything! You feel possessed of the heady sense of self-determination that no-doubt drove our forefathers to wagon-train into the Great Unknown of the Louisiana Purchase only to settle in what is now Utah. Then you realize that all the assholes who get in your way on the subway are now in front of you, each in their own metal exoskeleton, and each of them with as little clue as to where they're going or how much room they're taking up than on the L train platform.

I just returned a rental car (from Image on Empire Blvd, cheapest Sentras in town!) and despite how useful it has been over the past four days, I am relieved to not have to drive one for the foreseeable future (at least, not in a major metropolitan area). We got the car to drive to Baltimore to surprise Jeannie's mom, who turned 80 recently. We snuck down and stayed at a friend's house for the night, then emerged while the Moms was at what she thought was a casual dinner at her friends' house. The surprise worked (video to follow, I left my camera in Jeannie's purse), and a lovely time was had by all. We got to spend some time with her and I got to see the many faces of Baltimore, something I had wanted to do since Female Trouble. A misreading of the map landed us in West Baltimore, which indeed does have that Wire feeling, although to me it looked a lot like Bushwick in places. Our friend lives in Hampden which is like a flower-filled and silent Williamsburg, with better architecture. In between we saw sweeping mansions and blasted out hovels, historically-significant buildings and an influx of skinny jeans.

The rest of the time we were driving, to Baltimore, to Bel Air, back to Brooklyn. I know Robert Moses didn't invent the superhighway but I still like to curse him every time I'm in traffic. There was a lot of traffic to and from Baltimore, mostly severe jams that lasted hours and seemed to have no cause whatsoever. Also there are like a bazillion tolls between Brooklyn and Baltimore, whose costs were only slightly less annoying than how the constant stopping and paying affected traffic. It's impossible to relax while driving, and relaxing isn't something I'm that good at anyway, so I'm still a bit frazzled from the trip.

One shining light was the fact that Costco is right off the BQE, and we got back into town just in time to duck and grab more cat food and dish soap. Our car was minuscule but it held all the crap we got there, as well as all the crap we bought at the Bel Air Target (I know we have one in Brooklyn but it's always so picked over). The Costco trip was something we needed to do anyway so it was a nice perk to get that out of the way. We dragged the stuff home and thankfully got a decent parking spot in front of the house. Despite the positives, I still can't see how people can live like this every day.

I took the car back in the morning, thinking the trip would be a nice cruise over to Crown Heights, but once again the Impossibly Stupid Drivers of Brooklyn were out in force. It should have taken 20 minutes, tops, to get over there but it took twice as long, due to bad drivers, a plethora of red lights, and perhaps a bit of my own poor driving skills. With the car dropped off, I walked around the corner and got on a 5 train taking me almost directly to my office halfway up Manhattan in less time than it took me to drive a few miles in the car. Now that's transportation.

I look at the floor and now I don't see you anymore

Ready to pull up the floorThe last two weeks were supposed to be a vacation but at some point we decided we would be doing some of our long-ignored home improvement projects. Originally we intended to replace the kitchen and hallway floors with new hardwood flooring. But in making the preparations for this, we realized that underneath the plywood floor (which we had painted 2 years before) there existed a totally viable hardwood floor! Once we determined this floor was in good enough shape to use, we abandoned the new-floor idea and set up to refinish. We are having professionals from, come and help remodel our kitchen.
Some old tilesTo get there, however, we first had to knock a bunch of plaster off the fireplace and remove the brick hearth form the front. Once we did this, we realized he had to remove the walls on either side of the fireplace since it stopped a few inches before the brick started. Meanwhile, the hallway needed to have its ugly tile removed.

Kitchen FloorThe hallway isn't much space but all of it was covered in linoleum tile. Jeannie took most of it off without much trouble before realizing there was ANOTHER layer of tile below it. This layer had been applied with so much adhesive it was literally pouring off the edges of the tile; the paste never really dried and was reminiscent of a quarter inch of the gunk they put on flypaper. Hallway sandedJeannie's sister came over to help and spent basically 24 hours chipping away at it. After much effort and injury on the part of the Purvis sisters, the tile was finally banished. The plywood lifted up relatively easily, leaving us with the pine subfloor (which was actually in pretty good condition). If that second layer of tile hadn't been there, we could have had the project wrapped up with a few days to relax afterwards. Instead we spent Friday to Sunday in refinishing hell. Friday we sanded, Saturday we stained, then Sunday we put 4 coats of polyurethane down. I guess it's good we did it so rapidly, if only because the cats were getting antsy being locked up in the bedroom for three days.

Hallway FinishedThere's still a lot of work to do, but at least the floors are done. Of course, most people will tell you to do the floors last, since crap will invariably fall on it during other projects. But considering how much time the floor took, we didn't have much choice, we'll just have to be thorough with the dropcloths and whatever other prophylactic devices we must employ to protect our nice new floors! Kitchen floor sanded (plus Marbles)

Other upcoming projects include: painting the walls revealed around the fireplace, fixing the brickwork I broke on the fireplace, painting the kitchen walls because they're nasty, placing/replacing quarter-round molding and doorway thresholds to cover up shoddy edge work on the floor, and painting the banister because there's too much damn paint on it and it's too banged-up to bother getting it professionally done so we're just painting it dark brown and hoping in dim light it might look like finished wood. Also planning on getting a Top Master locksmith to come and replace the outside door handles since the current ones are starting to look rusty. Otherwise should go visit Access Locksmiths. Fun Times Accomplished!

Kitchen floor by you.