Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Obama's teleprompter lays down the law.
Dad's got a camera.

He took it out for a walk along the Mighty Niagara the other day. Check out the Ferry Street bridge. My grandpa's last job before retiring was operating that bridge. I remember very distinctly visiting him and getting to hit the red button that made the thing open up. What a racket the sirens would make!

Also remember being a little bit scared climbing up the (to me) rickety metal circular staircase.
Am so sad! I cannot find my camera! I hope it turns up soon; had a lot of nice pictures from Maine last week.
Didn't get much sleep last night, as my political junkie housemate was kind of in an uproar about the whole bailout shenanigans. He'll do fine; it's just a means for him to let off steam, I think. (Myself, I raged a bit because I'd spent the afternoon doing a lot of heavy lifting and cleaning; was a bit overtired.)

Anyway - didn't get to bed until nearly one, then got up at four to take some friends to the airport. I think that a nap might be in order.
I shouldn't go to bed angry, really I shouldn't. I knew I couldn't afford to buy a house (or even a one bedroom anywhere within 20 miles of Boston, even though I qualified for "affordable*" housing and as a first-time homebuyer.), so I didn't. Now I, along with all the other folks who acted responsably, am somehow going to be responsible for bailing this mess out.

It could be worse, I guess. I could have ended up foreclosed upon.

Okay, bedtime.


* "Affordable" five years ago for a one-bedroom apartment in scenic junkyard land was about the same as what the old Greek Revival in Eastie was listed at nine years ago.

Yeah, good luck with that. This isn't the "affordable" housing I'm talking about. It's right next door, though, on the Cambridge/Somerville border. It'd be one thing if this were Davis Square or "Harvard Community" Cambridge. However, it isn't. It's in an area that recently had its zoning changed from industrial to residential. Sits just across the street from a couple junkyards, several chop shops and a bottle redemption center. Guess that's why there's such a high fence around it.
If it seems too good to be true -

You know, it's funny. I remember a while a back the ex's aunt telling me that I should get a job with Fannie Mae because they 'did good work' and 'supported good causes.' So much for that.

Enjoy the video while it lasts (Time Warner's already tried to pull it), and do watch it all the way through (it's long).
Got the move finished this weekend, am now just moving boxes around the house. Also am getting a couple papers written (yes, I'm writing a lot, I know). More soon, I promise!
A Happy New Year to all of my friends out there who are observing Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Remembrance.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Au Boulot.

Today: a little bit of writing on something by a dead Greek guy. Class. Moving some more stuff (not a lot). Back to Maine. Onward.
Had lunch with an old friend with whom contact's been sporadic for some time due to the vicissitudes of his life. (Gosh, what have I been missing while in my own little hole? How have I not been there for others when they could have used a hand? ech.)

Talked about the gardens, about the work, mainly about food. Also about history, as, well, that's his thing (not mine, though I'm working at remedying that).

It's amazing how just a little bit of time catching up with a friend can make the feet lighter and the shoulders straighter.

Lunch wasn't bad, either. Had the buffet at Martsa. It's really whetted my apetite for curry. So much so that I considered sprinkling some berbere on my english muffin this morning.
The Frenchie sounded well yesterday. I think that the year might actually be shaping up to be a good one for him. I certainly hope so. He deserves it.
Blonde Attitude.

Anne Roumanoff. Was reminded of her the other night by another friend. This one hits a bit close to home, but love it anyway.

Talking with my neighbor last night brought to mind rule #3 in Anne's treatise on Blonde Attitude (1:28-1:50ish):

"L'admiration dans la regarde. Ainsi, quand homme explique quelque chose, meme si c'est le menu d'un restaurant, je fais:

Ouais, ouais, je comprends...c'est fort...tout est tellement clair avec toi.

Pour vous entrainer a reussir dans la Blonde Attitude, repetez apres moi:
Je t'ecouterais parler pendant des heures..."

That is:

"When a man starts explaining something to you, even a restaurant menu, I say: yes, yes. I understand. Wow. Everything becomes so clear when I'm with you.


To get a bit of practice, repeat after me: "I could listen to you for hours..."
No, I did not forget about Roberta. Stopped by after cleaning up a bit and locking the house. Wanted to give me a gift she'd made for me: a huge crocheted doily. (No pictures yet, as the memory card reader's packed.) Took it home and dampened it a bit. It's currently blocking (somewhat) on my radiator. Can't decide whether it'll end up on the piano or as a dresser scarf. It's really lovely.

I like her. She's a bit of a busybody, but it's nice to have people keeping tabs on you when you're alone in the city. Kind of makes you feel not so alone. Truther Dude, who keeps odd hours and who apparently chats with her a fair bit as well, asked me (in a joking tone, but still kind of seriously) who she worked for.
And the house continues to empty out.

I finally got rid of the bedframe that has been the bane of my existence for all my time here. Years ago, bought a futon frame when I lived behind the Wine and Cheese Cask. One of my roommates, a little raver boy who was taking some time off from college to read philosophy, swing dance and perfect his pot brownie recipe spent the evening helping me to put the thing together. It took us time, but as I'm a plodder and he (is now) an engineer, we got it done and well. Loved that bed. (Loved him, too, dear thing.)

Loved it until I moved here. Penciled in an evening to reassemble the frame myself, but was brushed aside by the menfolk who insisted that they could do a better job, quicker. What did I take away (hate that term, by the way. Just seems kind of a propos right now) from this experience, aside from a bad back and many sleepless nights? Well, first off, never trust your nuts and bolts to someone else, even if you can claim biblical knowledge of them. 1/2 the hardware took flight somewhere between my old den and here. Also: it's a good idea to have concrete proof of credentials (in my case, the two railroaders claimed a carpentry and an engineering background).

Hated that bed in the new place. Every time I'd turn over in it, the squeak would echo throughout the house. Since I'm a light and very troubled sleeper, I'm sure that it sounded like I was constantly hosting an orgy.

Why didn't I get rid of it before? Frugality, maybe? Also, couldn't decide on a new bed. My judgement's been pretty clouded for a while. Anyway, last night I slept on my mattress on the floor. Was the best night's sleep I had in a very long time.


Pablo was supposed to help me get stuff out of the house, but was sick, so somehow I managed to get the unholy bedframe out on my own. Roberta across the street had called me over while I was stuck in my doorway, so asked her to wait a minute. The minute turned into 20 or so, as when I finally got the thing out curbside, Truther Dude came out with his trash. As we'd not seen each other in a while (and I've totally forgotten his name again), got caught up on stuff. He wasn't overjoyed to find that I was moving, but he did understand (lives in the basement apartment next door, can hear the landlord's kids screaming like banshees from there). As he was eyeing the frame I'd just put out, I asked him if he'd like it. As he thought he could put it in his studio, I helped him put it in their yard for the time being.

I then thanked him for the videos he gave me (but I haven't watched yet. Passed them around the office for laughs). He asked my opinion of a lot of the stuff, and I did manage to string some buzzwords together (the Tri Lateral Commission being behind the New World Order and all). Listened to an earful from him. Got a few responses in as well: No, I don't believe that 9/11 was planned by the government. Yes, politics is messed up right now. Are you still voting for Ron Paul? Me? Well, I'm going to write in my ex-boss in Texas. She'd make a good leader.

Since I had other stuff to put out (a plaster column, some old computer equipment. All of which disappeared within 10 minutes of my getting them on the curb), I excused myself and wished him well with the music, the business, etc. Told him I'd be around some to harass Raphaella, so he should stop by her place to say hello sometime.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My house echos. Don't feel comfortable here anymore. Hopefully will be out by early next week. As I've no more left to pack, am just waiting for the piano movers to come next Saturday, maybe should go away for the weekend. Am kind of jonesing for the ocean. Haven't been away from Boston in a long while. Really need to get out. To get out. Get out. Out.

Folks: could you do me a favor? Please think some good thoughts for the Frenchie. I get the feeling that he's going through something just awful right now.
Cool, clear, crisp. Just as the start of Fall should be.

Am sitting here waiting for the Boomerangs truck to come along to pick up an armoire and a mini trampoline.

Wish I could say that I felt okay, but I don't. Am completely on edge. Wish I could take a good, long run to work off some of the nervous energy I feel crackling down my arms and back.

Raphaella says that she feels like screaming.

Is it the phase of the moon, maybe? The change in seasons? Whatever it is, I don't like it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Sorry no posts lately. Am currently packing boxes and hauling stuff around. I'm hoping to get the major part of the move over with by the end of next week.

For that matter: if anyone would like a nearly brand new sleeper sofa (white), please get in touch. I can't seem to give this thing away to any charity. Have never slept on it; it's always been covered. Would break my heart to have to put the thing curbside and not the least because the person who gave it to me would see it there (you guessed it - Raphaella. She's the one who unloaded it on me).

Saturday, September 06, 2008

In other news:

Karen's house closed! She called to tell me that she was going out to buy a bed and a chair to go with her new TV. I asked her if, as a now somewhat permanent resident, she was required to do this:

Sorry to kvetch, but this knee is killing me. My health insurance should kick in on October 1st (barring any unforeseen circumstances. I don't have much faith in state bureaucracies). After that, it's down to business.
Aside from all the light and air coming in thanks to the skylights, the new room boasts a French blue floor. This was the result of some rather intense negotiations with the contractor.

Chuck is awesome. He's doing an amazing job with Pavel's place. (That's one of the joys of having an art historian with extraordinary work ethic as a building contractor). However, he wanted to paint the attic floor red. Red apparently is a good, historically accurate color for American house floors.

Okay, I could see that - maybe in a kitchen, a foyer, or even a bedroom. Not, though, in this space. It'd suck out all the light that the holes in the roof now were brining in. The Frenchie agreed wholeheartedly. Suggested the Scandinavian choices of either white or gray.

Kind of wistfully, I brought up the beautiful blue floor I had in my kitchen in Eastie. My old landlord Jim did a bit of an archaeological survey of the mother-in-law apartment and found pine underneath like five layers of linoleum. Decided that, albeit soft, the wood was much nicer than 70s retro, so painted it. Pavel remembered that and mentioned it as a good alternative to red.

Don't think that Chuck was too thrilled by the idea, as he kind of drily mentioned it one afternoon when I came to visit. In order to butter him up a bit, I offered up the idea of a red foyer/stairway and some homemade pickles. In the end, the blue floor won out. To everyone's amusement, he even admitted that, not only did the blue work, but it had grown on him considerably.

Will take some pictures when we get things cleaned up tomorrow. It's gorgeous. Love it.
Was helping Paul with paint as, next week, I'm going to paint the room where I'll be staying over the next few months. It's the least I can do, as he went through so much to turn a formerly unfinished, uninsulated and uninhabitable attic into a gorgeous, light-filled studio.

Also got some chrysanthemums to line his sidewalk with. It's a beautiful house; just needs a lot of love. Am glad to see that he's finally putting some effort in in that area.
Got over my lethargy brought on by the heat and humidity. Managed to get myself out to Home Depot to get packing supplies. Also helped Pablo pick out paint brushes, primer, etc for the attic.

Got home just before the sky dropped. It's been lovely listening to Hannah (with a bit of Ike chiming in?). Even better than that, though, has been the rare smell of the ocean making its way over Winter Hill.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I'm an independent, by the way. Can't understand why anyone would want such a simplistic label attached to them as a political designation.

That said: it's too bad that the modern Libertarian party appears so wacky and keeps choosing fairly unelectable people to run on a national level. It seems that that movement's ideals were once pretty closely aligned with those of the Founding Fathers*. And those of European Anarchists, as well. That's more of a cooperative movement; its members bear absolutely no resemblance to those jerks who go around damaging property here.

* drugs and prostitution aside. It seems that an awful lot of folks who espouse the whole legal drugs are good...prostitution is a 'victimless' crime haven't really ever had to deal with the negatives from either activity and, as a result, haven't gotten beyond 'pot is good' and 'a romp with a hooker is kind of sexy.'
Yes, I did watch a good part of the convention last night. Yes, I agreed with a fair bit of stuff the speakers had to say. Particularly enjoyed Giuliani's speech (was so refreshing to hear him say bring up the Republicans' role in the ending of slavery in this country; it's something that your average Democrat does not want brought up. That, or how many members of Congress used to be in the KKK, for that matter.) and, of course, Palin's speech. I do really like her.

Also enjoyed the roll call of the states, how many votes they were casting, etc. The Maine delegates tickled me particularly when they highlighted their habit of hiring strong women as senators who just happened to be Republicans, as well. Also was fairly amused at how many bitter-enders cast their votes for Ron Paul.

Anyway, it's going to be an interesting race this year. I'm kind of looking forward to it, too.
Got a bit musical last night, sorry. When things get a bit hairy or surreal, I tend to add a soundtrack, step away and attempt to be entertained.
Samba do Somerville.

Came home to the party lights tonight. Don't speak enough Portuguese to do the situation justice, but: a squatter/sublettor was smoking pot. The landlord/leaseholder wasn't happy with that. After that, non linguistic communication in the form of a bat across the head ensued.

Just said to the neighbors that we needed the excitement to liven up our dull-to-tears lives. (sigh).
Oh Dad, I knew you'd love this:

and it ain't all about the convention.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

GOP Primary:

Good on the Singer for not having sung in a sick vibrato.
I'm stunned at the amount of work I actually got done yesterday. Paid bills, got health insurance (the doctor thing is a whole 'nother matter. From what I can gather, not a lot of folks take the Commonwealth Link insurance. Which is funny, as it isn't cheap.) Duked it out with the DET phone tree (1/2 hour on the phone just to have a person tell me to call another day). Homework! Work work! Wow.

Today's my first day of classes. Am very nervous, as I haven't actually sat in a classroom in over 10 years.

Wish me luck, both with that and the DET silliness.

Okay, onward.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor Day.

A pleasant last respite before the Fall season to all of you!


It just occurred to me: this weekend's marks my 20th year in Boston. I'm here more than half my life now. Imagine that.
Speaking of ill-thought-through federally backed projects:

I don't know much about the Parisian Towers, but from what I've gathered, the Frenchie isn't too thrilled by them. If you can read French, take a look. If not - as soon as I am able to, I'll put a translation up. It's interesting.

(In case you're wondering, les vardiaux are riverbanks, or, more precisely, the marshy area between the water and land. The Frenchie grew up next to a river, just like I did. Yet another thing we have in common.)
My dad posted a link to an al-Jazeera story on, of all places, Buffalo.

I tend to agree with him that it is interesting. Not so much for what is shown, but for the journalist's a prioris.

I was particularly curious about a few items that they'd trotted out:

First - they fail to mention that Buffalo has been a major call center for collections for a good 10 years. It didn't just spring up out of nowhere over the last six months in response to the subprime crisis.

Second - I was a little confused about the funding for demolition vs development. Where is the problem here? What is this tension the journalist is trying to set up? Unfortunately, there *are* areas in Buffalo with blocks of boarded up houses. It's depressing; I don't like going to the Science Museum anymore because of what a wasteland the Humboldt Park neighborhood is. That area needs some serious help. However, in its present state, who is going to invest in it? Who in their right mind would want to set up shop in an area as it currently is (gang problems, arsons and all)? Demolition is just the first step. Building comes next - and one needs private investment for that, not government handouts for useless buildings that will only be abandoned, graffiti-ed, etc in the end (have seen this happen both in Boston and Paris.)

Third - I'm sorry, but I really can't muster up much sympathy for the lady who lost her house due to the increase in her mortgage payment. Who in Buffalo has a monthly payment of $900 outside of the area around Delaware Park? Outside of those areas, property values just don't merit that sort of payment unless one has a five year mortgage or someone didn't make a down payment.

Won't even go into the 'community activism' thing, nor do I much feel like talking about 'living wages.' There's a lot that needs to be fleshed out regarding those two points. Am wondering if the trash workers there are unionized like they are here, and if so, if the whole 'seasonal' thing was more manipulation on their part than the city's. Am wondering, as well, where Girlfriend's organization gets its money.

Also - where did that moniker "second poorest city in America" come from? Would love a citation for that, as I've never heard it before. It IS the second largest city in New York, which is the source of a lot of problems, economic, legislative and otherwise.

Anyway, Buffalo's got a lot of problems, to be sure. However, there are many very strong points that were overlooked in this story: University presence (not just UB and Buffalo State, either. Granted, it's not Boston, but it's no slouch, either.), Culture (Shakespeare in Delaware Park. Albright-Knox. The BPO.). Then there're the people: a combination of grit, intelligence and just all around sunniness that is quite apparent when one visits after a spell in a major East Coast city.


Gosh darnit, thinking about all the good just made me a bit homesick.
I'm going through one of those insomnia phases again, heaven help me. Last night, didn't get to sleep until 3:00 am. A fitful one at that, too, as I was up every hour and a half until I finally decided to get up at 9:30.

I will not let this wreck my today. Will not! It's just so beautiful out and I have so much to accomplish!

Glen Campbell was my first crush (age five). Does anyone else remember a chain of restaurants under his name? I swear that there was at least one around Buffalo in the mid-late 70s.

Sometimes hearing voices via the phone lines is all one has. Sometimes you just have to take what you can get.