Sunday, April 27, 2008

Smooth Operator

Back in 1990, after a failed attempt at higher learning at UMass Amherst, my mom got me a gig working for the catering company that ran the cafeteria where she worked. She worked at a community college and the catering company wanted to have a little muffin and coffee cart in the lobby of the main building of the school. The kids and faculty would come in and march right over to my little cart where I served ginormous muffins and horrible coffee. It was pretty sweet really, I made friends with some of the students and I was making some money.

One day I was working the cart (I used to say that because I thought that it made me sound more official. It really just makes me sound like a tool) and I was bumming out because the girl I was sort of seeing had broken it off (why? was it the living with the parents? the no license/car? shitty job working behind a muffin cart in the lobby of Bunker Hill Community College? nah, she must have been a lezbo). This regular customer came over and noted that I was sad and asked what was up. She was this really pretty girl from El Salvador and she had a very thick accent. She listened to my pathetic tale of woe (whoa!...hee. Joey Lawrence rules) and then she asked me what I was doing that night. Why, nothing! I was doing nothing that night Pretty Lady! What do you have in mind? What she had in mind was a party with a bunch of her friends in Boston! She invited me to go with her to "a Babba Tahhk". Wow. Babba Tahhk. That sounds fancy and exotic Pretty Lady from a far away land. I would be honored to attend this event with you. So we made plans to meet at the school later that night and she'd drive me there. AWESOME! I'm gonna nip this Summer of Failure in the bud!

So, after my mom dropped me off at the school and told me to be careful and to have fun (I sooooooo wish that part wasn't true), I waited for my ride to show. She pulled up in a little car jammed with about 4 other people (so with me in there it should be really spacious and comfortable now). I climbed over some people and said hello to Pretty Lady (I wish I could remember her name). The people in the car were all REALLY friendly and REALLY interested in what my story was. It was odd but nice. Meh. Whatever, we're going to a real rager of a party right? Riiiiiiiiiiight.

We drove over to some apartment in god-knows-where and piled out. There was about 6 more people in the apartment when we went in. I remember the apartment being small, clean and absolutely devoid of alcohol. Hmph. Plus, they had carrot sticks and raw broccoli in bowls on the table. Uh oh. My radar had sent up a bunch of warnings but I chose to ignore it since there was a Pretty Lady talking to me. I could have been on fire and I'm not so sure I'd have noticed.

Once again the others at the party were all REALLY friendly and asked a lot of questions about me. There was this one guy who was trying to bond with me over the fact that we both liked The Jam. Pretty Lady was introducing me to everyone and whenever she did so she'd mention that I'd just broken up with my girlfriend. My radar was shrieking to no avail. I was too busy wondering when the keg was going to show up.

And then it happened. The oldest dude there (a guy in his mid-twenties and therefore WICKED OLD) stood up in the front room and said in a loud voice "Ok, everyone! Let's get our bibles and form a circle in the living room!" Say what now? Get our what and form a what? Oh fuck me. For reals? Oh stupid, stupid penis. How could you bring me here?

All the people in the apartment (about 12 or so) did a sort of group "Hooray!" and ran to their bags. Hmmm, how'd I not notice they were all carrying bags before? Wow. There sure are a lot of crosses in this tiny apartment. They each grabbed a spot in the circle either on a chair, couch or cross-legged on the floor. Pretty Lady was beckoning me to sit next to her on the couch. Heh. Uh, no thanks there Crazy Pants. I'll just stand guard here over the Cherry Coke if that's ok with you. The leader dude asked me what was wrong and I had to confess that I had COMPLETELY misunderstood what tonight was supposed to be and could I please get a ride home now? No? Oh, ok. I guess I'll just sort of mill around awkwardly for the next FRICKIN' HOUR while you do your Bible Talk. Huh. "Bible Talk". "Babba Tahhk". Hmm. So, she didn't try to trick me after all. I'm just amazingly stupid is all. Wow..

To their credit the little christian people were still really nice to me. After they had finished, they drove me back home and Pretty Lady would still stop by and chat with me at the cart. But having been raised a Catholic, my views on religion and such are ... let's say repressed. It tends to freak me out. I still don't like raw broccoli at parties.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I Left The House! And On A Tuesday Too!!

Last night The Wiff and I went out to see Ad Frank and the Fast and Easy Women play at Harper's Ferry in Allston. I hadn't seen them play in probably a year or so and it was a really good show. As it turns out, it was also a bit of a reunion of sorts. First off, Nancy and Mike were there! They're great people and I was trying to think of the last time I had seen them and it has to be about 2 years maybe? God, I need to get out more often. I suck. Mike occasionally plays keyboards for the band (actually I asked him and he said that the last time was probably 5 years ago...technically still occasionally right?). I also got to say Hey to Linda Bean P.! One of my all time favorite peoples.

Continuing with the reunion theme, I saw this guy Phil that I knew from a million years ago. Then later on I saw Joey Diaz whom I worked with at the copy place in Harvard Sq. (I worked at a few copy places in my day. I actually was working at a copy place during the time when that frickin' "Copy Guy" skit was playing on Saturday Night Live. People would come in and say "Heh..Makin' copies!" as if they were not only the first person that day to say it to me but the first person ever to say it. They weren't. Luckily for me, I was already dead inside. Side note: who knew that the "Copy Guy" had a name? It was Richard. Wow..I really do suck).

Then on came American Music Club and they sounded fantastic. I wasn't that familiar with their stuff but they're really good. Great even. We hung out for their set and realized that it was now 12:15 am on a school night. Fudge. The Wiff turned to me and said "I have to get up in 5 hours." By the time we said our goodbyes and got out of Allston and back to the castle we call home it was 1 am. So right now I'm functioning on about 4 hours sleep (thereabouts). Not horrible when your younger and dumber but when your old and (still) dumb, 4 hours really doesn't cut it. I feel jet lagged without having to take my shoes off and walk on industrial carpeting.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Failed Attempt at Being Green(er)

First a little history: I didn't get my drivers license until I was 25 (The Wiff didn't get hers until she was 28). I didn't really need it up until that point. I lived in the city and I could easily bop around on public transportation (the dreaded T), my bike, my feet or I could mooch a ride from one of my friends. Plus, the dumb jobs I had up until that point were usually close enough that most of those forms of getting around worked fine.

Then I got a job where I actually had to drive around all day as part of the gig. Well, poop. That means I'm gonna have to learn to drive or something. So I did (thanks Rene and Bruce! oh, and Gary too!). Then I bought a car (affectionately named Sally but also not-so-affectionately called The Leper). A 1983 Mercury Marquis. It broke down a lot. I mean a LOT. But it was mine. And then I gave it to my sister Mary (and it broke down on her. A lot. Sorry Mary).!

So blah blah blah and we move away from the city (not the royal 'we'...The Wiff and me). We moved far enough away that it's actually kind of a pain in the booty to get into the city where, unfortunately, our jobs are. At least that's what I had been telling myself for most of the time that we've lived out there. But last year they started construction on our commuting route and it totally fudged up the ride in. It was taking well over an hour to get into Cambridge. It's only 15 frickin' miles. It was time to abandon the car and go back to taking the train. Actually, I'd never taken the commuter rail before. It was always the regular trains and/or busses for me cuz I'm classy like that.

I made the jump back in October and for a while there, it was ok. I didn't really mind giving in to their schedule. I didn't really mind most of it really. I'd get on the train, go to North Station and then walk over to my office here in Kendall Sq. Then at night, reverse the route. It was kinda nice. A short-ish walk in the morning, and another at night. Stare out the window of the train and listen to music. No traffic. No big whoop.

Then the delays started. And winter happened. And I started to notice how annoying my fellow humans are, especially in close quarters before I've had my coffee. Hmph. I figured I could endure though because I'm doing the right thing here. I'm being a responsible citizen or whatever by actually using our mass transit system. This is ok, I would tell myself but I wasn't listening anymore.

I started to find more and more excuses to drive in to work. And then one day last week during one of those guilty-feeling drives into work, Charlie Card judging me silently from my bag in the back seat, I said quietly to The Wiff: "I hate the train." She was concerned mainly because we'd miss our walk. But I argued that we could walk after work along the beach (awwwwwwwww) since we live right there. And it would be a much nicer walk than the one we do from Cambridge to North Station. Pretty good argument. And bonus, they have finished the road construction on our commuting route so our commute is now 35-40 minutes. When we take the train and walk it can take an hour and a half. We were getting home at 5:45 or so. Now we get home at 5:10. Hmmmm. More time to go for a walk or just relax or whatever the hell.

But dude, you say, what about the environment? Gas prices? Your shitty cars? The retards out there on the roads? Well, I say, Feh. Meh. Pffth. F Them. I have to be completely honest. I cannot stand taking the train everyday. It's ok once and a while but as my main form of transportation it just doesn't work for me. Not when it takes as long as it does and I get all sweaty and gross on my walk to work. I'm pretty revolting actually. I was actually considering having a complete change of clothes with me every day if I was to continue to take the train and walk every day in the summer. Me in the heat and humidity is downright awful.

So the train can blow me. I'm driving.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Why Am I Surprised?

The pen show was awful. Let me 'splain...I was hoping (and my sister Mary was also) that this would be like a art supply show or maybe even a coolio stationary store kind of vibe. But what it ended up being was a bunch of dudes (mostly dudes with a smattering of women) who are into COLLECTING pens. Yeah. Not really what I had in mind. I was looking for stuff like Kohn-i-Noor rapidograph pens (they're made for drafting but I use 'em for doodling) and my sister was looking for these fancy-pants pens that she uses in her art. We ended up doing one lap of the room and then bailing. Lame lame lame. Cost me $6 to walk around a hotel conference room once. These people were an odd bunch. We noticed that a lot of the guys were wearing these safari vests. Dunno why that is...more room for pens?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Games We Play

When I was a kid there were some games that my sisters and I would play whenever we had to drive somewhere. There was always Punch Buggy but I don't remember that as being wildly popluar in the back of the Great Beast (my dad's 1973 Pontiac station wagon). At night we played Padiddle (which I still play to this day). We didn't do the point system thing it was more of who could spot it first and yell "PADIDDLE!" at the top of their lungs. We also used to hold our breath when passing a cemetary (because it is impolite to breathe in front of those who cannot). My dad would more often than not slow down when going by cemetaries. He'd end up with 4 kids slowly turning blue stubbornly refusing to let him win. He always won that one.

There is a game that I still play to this day and it doesn't necessarily have to be played whilst driving. I'm going to credit my sister Patty for this one but I'm not entirely sure of its origins. How you play is when you see a Post Office truck, van, jeep-thing or whatever, you cross your fingers on one hand. The goal is to keep those fingers crossed until you see another mail truck. When you see the next one, you can uncross your fingers and you get ... wait for it ... Good Luck! Yep! How exciting! And, the longer the time between crossing and then uncrossing, the longer the good luck will last. However, if you uncross your fingers BEFORE seeing another mail truck, you get Bad Luck! And the same duration rule applies. OOoooOOooh! Scary!

cross, uncross, cross, uncross, cross...DAMMIT!

As far as I know this game doesn't even have an official name or anything. It doesn't even have clearly defined rules. Or at least it didn't always have rules. Over the years I have added special conditions and other regulations to make it more complicated. For instance: what is the relationship between length of real time with crossed fingers and the resulting good/bad luck? My sister Patty never really addressed this important question. So I had to. The relationship is 1 to 10. If you cross your fingers after seeing a mail truck and successfully uncross them at the next sighting 10 minutes later, you will get 100 minutes of good luck. Holy hell, I sound like a crazy person.

But it gets weirder. In my travels I have often found that might have to uncross my fingers for just a second or 2 (like to pick something up or maybe flip someone off. Have you ever tried to give someone the bird when your fingers are crossed? It totally loses its oomph) but I don't want to get penalized for this. Ah, no problem. In every game of ... whatever this is called ... you are allowed a 5-second uncrossing. But you must immediately re-cross after this 5 seconds is over. Failure to do so will result in DOUBLE the bad luck. Harsh? Meh. What's worse is you have to make a really embarrassing move to make sure the uncrossing is recognized as the 5-second variety. You must "throw the cross into the air". Yep. You read that right. You take your hand with the crossed fingers and flick them up into a "peace sign". Then, and only then does the 5-second rule come into play. You can only do this once per, uh, session.

I wish I was lying about this but everytime I happen by a Post Office with a whole bunch of mail trucks all lined up in the back, I cross and uncross my fingers like..well, like a madman. Is this too much sharing? I also get genuinely disappointed if I am unable to find another mail truck and have to concede to uncrossing my fingers and enduring the bad luck penalty. Similarly if I see a truck and decide NOT to "take it" (as I call it) and then later I see another truck, I get kinda pissed that I missed the opportunity. Wanna hang out? No?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Welcome to 30 Years of Not Thinking About My Roof

Huzzah! The roof is done and done! The guys did a fantastic job and I would recommend this company very highly. As a matter of fact, I'll do just that right now: Hire Ferreira Remodeling. One of the best parts is that Alex (the guy who owns the company) took pictures for us of the work in progress. Check it:

This is from the back of the house looking towards the front.

This is looking down at side of the house. That's The Wiff's office under that blue tarp thing.

This is the roof of The Wiff's office being worked on. The van is in our driveway.

This is a shot of the flat part of the roof. This is the roof that started this whole project. Looks shitty right?

Well...blammo! Here's the new roof. See how pretty!

This is from the roof of The Wiff's office looking at the little bump-out over our dining room bay window. You can actually see the mess that the previous owners made of the roof. All that black crap at the top of the gutter is roofing cement that they slathered on the old roof so stop the leaks that they had. Hey! There's Alex's van! Call him! He rules!

Here's a shot of the main roof and the chimneys. We now have shiny flashing! Previously we had goopy roofing cement. Booo!

And a shot of the front entrance roof. I like the architectural shingles cuz they have a really nice pattern.

Our next-door neighbor hired Alex to do her gutters based on our recommendation and the quality of his work. He also may get another job from the woman who lives right across the street.

Whew. I'm so glad that this worked out the way it did. I've heard (and had) bad experiences with contractors but at the risk of repeating myself, Alex Ferreira is a great contractor.

Ready for conversation whiplash?

My sister and I are going to completely nerd out on Sunday and go to the Boston Pen Show at The Holiday Inn in Somerville. I'll just wait here as you re-read that. Yep. I'm going to a pen show. On purpose. And I can't frickin' wait. I have a problem. I'm addicted to pens. There, I said it. I'm pretty sure I get it from my dad who was clearly addicted to pens (and his napkin for some reason. I remember whenever it was my turn to clear the table after dinner he would guard his napkin like it was a treasure. "Don't take my napkin!" Uh, no problem there dad. I really don't want it. Honest). The pen show is $6 to get in and goes from 10am to 4pm. See you there? Yeah, prolly not huh...

Aaaaaaaaaand The Wiff and I are going to see Eddie Izzard on the 29th. That should be a great show. I'm looking forward to that.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wrapping Up

Today is the last day of the roof work. The guys thought initially that it would take 3 days (they have a small crew) but because of rain and cold it has taken 4. Not a huge difference, but I'll be glad when I can have my driveway back. There are fragments of roof everywhere. Oh, and something that they neglected to tell me: I should have covered up stuff in the attic. Yeah. I haven't gone up there to check it out yet but I'm sure it'll be a mess. Ah well. I needed to clean up there anyway.

Also I am ever hopeful that today will be the last day of this frickin' cold that has been plaguing me for the last 2 weeks. I'd love to not have to cough. I'd love to not have to blow my schnozz every 5 minutes. I'd love to be able to breathe normally again. Today is the day dammit. No more I say! If only it was that simple.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Adventures in Home Ownership

Ah yes..the roof. I had mentioned earlier that we have to repair a section of our roof. Well, it turns out we should probably replace the ENTIRE roof. Yeah. Technically we could get away with not replacing the main roof but it really doesn't make much sense. Starting tomorrow (Thurs.) the guys are going to be stripping the old shingles off and putting down the new ones. They will most likely have to replace some of the roof decking as well. That stuff adds up fast at $4 a linear foot. Unfortunately neither one of us will be here to take pics of the work tomorrow but they won't be able to finish it in one day so we can get "in progress" shots. Sigh. There goes my vacation money.

Cough! Hack! Blaaaaaargh

Hey! You know what sucks? The Flu. Yep. It totally does. Since last Thursday I've been sort of ignoring the fact that it had become increasingly difficult to breathe and when I did breathe it sounded like I was sucking a milkshake through a broken straw. Meh. I'm a dude. I can walk this off, right? Just like I did with that pesky gall bladder all those years ago. No problem.

Cut to this past weekend where I spent most of my time whimpering and complaining in my living room while I watched bad TV. Meh. I'm a dude...eventually I'll beat this, right? I certainly will be strong enough to go to work on Monday. Um, in a word: no.

Sunday night I slept maybe 3 hours getting up frequently to allow the coughing fits to shake my entire body. I had the cough where you end up light-headed afterward. So not cool. But I got up at my usual time (5 goddamn 30) with the intention of going to work. I felt like I might split in half if I coughed again. My sides actually hurt from coughing (diaphram I assume?). So I called in sick. Well, technically I emailed in sick that doesn't have the same ring to it.

What's really the bestest thing about this type of flu is that you really can't sleep all that well. But of course that's all you want to do is sleep. I went downstairs and sat in my chair and tried to watch daytime TV. I failed. I passed the hell out sitting upright in my chair with a cat in my lap. I awoke 2 hours later when my lungs had filled with some lovely, greenish, viscous fluid. Commence horking. So frickin' nasty. The cat abandoned me.

Monday night I kinda felt ok so it must be because I'm a dude and I've now whipped those mean ol' microbes and I'm back in control right? Nope. That night was another winner. Tuesday morning saw me right back at the computer emailing in sick (see? doesn't sound right). By the end of Tuesday I felt somewhat better and my lungs were allowing me to occasionally breathe in deeply. I say occasionally because when I tried to show off to The Wiff just how he-man strong my respiratory system was I was reduced to leaning on the wall and coughing for 5 minutes. Awesome.

But, this morning I am back to work (hooray?) and feeling better. I still sound like ass but I can function. I have to forgo my usual coffee ritual and replace it with water. If I have coffee in combination with the fake NyQuil I'm on I'll be so frickin' high that I'll start to hallucinate.