Sunday, March 22, 2009

Maybe Lynn Ain't So Bad

Spring is here and with the warmer temperatures we will soon be opening our windows up. This is also when I start to regret buying a house on a busy street. I love my house, don't get me wrong, I just don't like where it is. When we were trying to sell it a couple of years ago (oh, and holy crap am I glad that we didn't end up selling it too by the way. With the economy the way it is currently, I'm quite happy with a mortgage that I can afford thank you very much) one of the main motivators was how much traffic noise there is here. Say what you will about winter but at least it's quieter in my house when all the windows are closed. I dread motorcycle season.

This house is the first place I've lived that wasn't an apartment. When we were looking I briefly thought about looking at 2 family houses but quickly realized that I was really tired of living above, below or right next to someone else. I wanted a single family house so that whatever noise there may be, it came from us. Although on a busy street that really isn't true either. But I digress (whatta surprise!).

I spent the first 16 years of my life living in a first floor apartment of a little 2 family house. The people who owned the place lived right upstairs and didn't allow my dad to park his car in the driveway. Another weird "feature" of that place was the fact that we didn't have any real doors (the exception being the bathroom door). All the doors were removed and replaced with those accordion door things. Y'know, the ones that don't offer anything in the way of privacy? Nor do they block sound or light which is a problem if your bedroom is right off of the kitchen. You know what sucks? Being a 15 year old boy with 3 sisters and no real door on your bedroom. We eventually moved to a shitty complex (Bryant Terrace HOLLA!) a few blocks over. I still have relatives living over there and the apartments are not a depressing as I remember. I think it may have been my own attitude (shocking isn't it?). I finally got a for-realsies door though.

After the college thing (long story) I moved out and had a series of apartments until I met Amy (The Wiff). Our first place together was this tiny place in Allston. Since neither of us drove it didn't bother us that there was never anywhere to park in the neighborhood. Unfortunately this apartment was near a couple of frat houses so 2 a.m. wake-up-calls for drunk morons smashing things on the street became the norm. When these instances started happening on Tuesdays, we realized that maybe we should move. Oh, that and the time that somebody got stabbed right below our bedroom window (actual quote: "Dude! You STABBED ME!!"). Yea, that may have been the motivating factor.

We then moved to the International House of Whack-jobs in Somerville. I should have guessed that this would not be a great place to live when I got hit by a car on my bike while I was on my way to meet up with Amy to see the apartment. Kind of a cosmic warning shot across my bow (except it was in the form of a Jaguar and it did in fact hit me). The apartment itself was ok but there were a number of incidents that made us move out a little more than a year later. The one that stands out was I was in the living room and I kept hearing this huge THUD! sound coming from our kitchen. I walked into the kitchen and sort of stood there waiting for the noise to happen again. I didn't have to wait long. THUD! Hmm, it's not coming from the THUD! kitchen, it appears to be coming THUD! from the apartment directly THUD! above THUD! us (there were 6 apts total in the building, we were on the second floor). What the fuck are they THUD! doing up there?

So I went up the back stairway to our neighbor's back THUD! door. I knocked (ok, I pounded) on the door and waited for the door to open. Nothing. THUD! THUD! THUD! It was increasing in intensity. I banged again. Finally a little dude opened the door and he was holding a baseball bat. Ok, didn't see that coming. He didn't seem hostile or anything and so I asked him if he could keep the noise down. Meanwhile the door was still creeping open (the whole building was sinking in the middle due to it being constructed of balsa wood and paper-mâché on a crumbling foundation of stale cookies) to reveal that there were 2 other guys in there also with bats standing around the kitchen table. Laying on the table was a giant slab of some indeterminate meat (goat? lamb?). They were tenderizing it. I cannot make this shit up. I said "What was all that banging anyway?" So, one of the guys showed me. He reeled back and gave the side of meat an all-mighty whack. His once white T-shirt I noticed had a fine mist of blood covering his belly. He grinned at me. Carry on men. I'll be perusing the apartment listings of the local paper thank you very much.

At the time I had a job working for CSG doing energy audits for people (same company as the Hate Bus, different gig. I'll explain later in another installment of Vocational Errors) so I got to see quite a variety of places that may be potential rentals. As it turned out, one of my customers had a place for rent right down the street in an old funky building. He had cut up this gorgeous building into 8 separate apartments of descending quality. I think we got the flagship apartment. The landlord guy (Dan I think?) was a grade-A nut job who cut so many corners on his renovations to that place that it had reached the point where things were really starting to fall apart. But there was no one beating up dead animals there so we moved in.

Everything seemed ok for a bit and then we started to notice that not only was Dan odd but he was also home all the goddamned time. He had all these bizzarro rules and regulations which he posted all over the common areas of the building. He drove us crazy (Amy more so as he would talk to her a lot). In the basement below our apartment was an illegal apartment. The guy who rented this one was a male stripper who would practice at home with the windows open. Oh, come on man. How am I supposed to compete with that? Invest in some fucking shades will ya? He would blast this god awful techno bullshit that would thump thump thump me into a blind fury. I would stomp on the floor trying to get him to understand that there is a pasty white guy up here who not only doesn't want to be reminded of how he is soooo not qualified to be a stripper but would like a little quiet please. Sometimes he'd turn it down and sometimes he wouldn't. He didn't know that I knew where the fuse panel for his apartment was. I would just turn his power off. I dunno if he ever figured out it was me or if he just thought his stereo was too powerful.

It was all these little battles and petty arguments over space that made me pine for a place of my own. A place not attached to someone else's place. We've been here since 1998 now and have come to the conclusion that all those projects that we figured would be "the next guy's problem" are in reality our problem. We ARE the "next guys". Last week I had a friend of mine who does construction come over and give me some advice on a kitchen renovation. This could be huge. I think I love my house.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Night on the Town With Yours Truly

The Wiff and I went to see Louis CK last night and had a blast. Let's back up a bit here and be honest with each other ok? Ok. The show was really fun and I was really glad that I got to see Louis perform (he was on for close to 2 hours with the encore and then signed stuff in the lobby after the show) and the opener Ted Alexandro was also very funny (I didn't realize there was going to be an opening act and I'm glad that it was Ted) but I think that I shouldn't be allowed to go out anymore. Lemme 'splain.

The show was at The Orpheum and if you taller than say, 5 foot 9, you are going to be uncomfortable in your seat at this lovely venue (which Louis called "a dump" last night. He isn't wrong. The person running the spotlight seemed not to understand the concept and when Louis would move about the stage the spotlight sometimes just stayed put. In one awkward showdown Louis stepped over to his left slightly and the spotlight didn't budge. He stood there continuing his thought for a bit and then realizing that the person behind the spotlight had passed out or been kidnapped or something and wasn't going to follow him, he stepped back into the light. Nice job Orpheum. Also every now and then some confetti [I think it was confetti, it could have been paint chips for all I know] would drift down lazily from the light rig above Louis head. I don't know how he didn't point it out unless he just didn't notice them. But they fell periodically throughout the show. Not as egregious certainly but it did distract). I'm 6 foot 2-ish and um..fat. So, I was pretty uncomfortable in my seat from the get-go. I had a great seat as far as being able to see the stage but come on Orpheum, where the fuck am I supposed to put my legs? I ended up cramming myself into the seat (and honestly the issue was being too tall not too fat ... shut up, it was) and made myself as comfortable as possible. I put the sleeve of my jacket between my left knee and the seat directly in front of me to hopefully act as a buffer of some sort and settled in for an evening of ignoring the discomfort. But then she sat down.

I know what you're thinking (actually I don't. I have no idea if anyone reads this let alone what that random person could be thinking. Let's face it, even if I knew that you, whoever you are were reading this right now and I was staring intently at your face [you have a little somethin'-somethin' on your cheek, other side] I still wouldn't have an idea of what, if anything you were thinking): "Oh no! A big woman sat down and crushed Mark's widdle knee! Oh what an outpouring of sympathy I have for him in my very soul!" Nope, it was a little, tiny chick. But this little woman devastated my knee repeatedly but leaning forward in her chair and then SLAMMING herself backwards at a high rate of speed EVERY time she laughed. Intellectually I know that she did not purposely set out to unload several tons of crushing force onto my poor patella (look it up bitches) but I grew to hate this girl.

She seemed oblivious to my every attempt at making her as uncomfortable as possible by jamming my hand between my knee and her chair (not recommended by the way. Did you know you have pain receptors in your hands too? FACT). I would occasionally bonk my right knee into her chair to sort of disrupt her evening. She became the focus of my hate and fury. I began to wish that horrible things would happen to her and her family and people that she worked with at the Quiznos or whatever. My hate spilled over onto her boyfriend sitting next to her who was NOT slamming himself into his chair. Why couldn't you sit where she is sitting you asshole? Can't you control this little trollop? She's making a guy you don't know and will never see again uncomfortable. Meanwhile, I'm missing the show and distracting the Wiff as well. I guess I could have asked her to cut the fucking shit with the over-enthusiastic whole-body guffaws before I was rendered crippled but it was then that I realized that she's just enjoying herself and isn't that what we're all here to do? I stuffed the other sleeve of my jacket between my knee and her chair and got over myself. A proud moment of maturity you could say.

So what did I learn? I learned that I am probably going to continue to really hate being in crowds but unless I want to become a complete recluse (a single recluse too I might add since I doubt the Wiff would put up with that for too long), I'm going to have to suck it up and stop being such a whiny bitch.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Really? That's THIS Weekend? Shit.

I need to be more honest with myself. I still tend to suffer under the delusion that I'm social and a night owl. This from a guy who is usually asleep by 10 pm (or earlier...wassup ladies?). Back in September I had tickets to go see The Walkmen play in Cambridge and I didn't end up going. The show was on a Thursday night (a "school night") and I had been in a training session all week so I was dead tired. I was driving back from the training, stuck in traffic on the dreaded Rt. 128 when it dawned on me that there was no way I would be able to get myself to go to the show that night. If the show was at like 8 or 9 pm then maybe (and that's a pretty big 'maybe' too) I would have made it. But they didn't even go on until 11pm which means that I'd get home, have dinner, watch a lil' boob tube and then try to pry myself off of my chair to go BACK into town for the show. I'm too old and tired for that. Especially if I have to drag myself into work the next day.

Ok, so lesson learned right? Nope. Back in December (I think) The Wiff found out that And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead were coming to town and we should totally go! Hmm. They were playing on a Sunday night in March so I could even take the next day off if I planned for it. Which of course I didn't. Since we bought the tickets so far in advance, I procrastinated on asking for that Monday off. Flash forward to a week before the show and The Wiff reminds me that "Hey guess what? The show is this Sunday (last Sunday now, March 1st)." Oh crap. I can't possibly get the Monday off because of stuff going on at work. Oh crap. There's also a huge-ass snow storm coming that night as well. "Um...honey? Yeah, um...I don't think I wanna go to this show either." See? I'm dumb.

That's 2 shows within a span of 5 months that I've blown off AFTER buying tickets. I even tried desperately to get someone to buy the tickets off me before they became useless but alas, everyone I know is also old and tired. Either that or they didn't know who the band was.

But on March 14th, The Wiff and I are going to see Louis CK at The Orpheum and I'm really excited for this show. Plus: it's on a Saturday! I'm a big fan of his comedy and we scored the same seats that we had for the Eddie Izzard show. Bonus.

Oh by the by, I'm going to do the Five Boro Bike Tour on May 3rd down in New York. Now I just have to get back into biking shape within 2 months. Hmm, years of abuse and neglect turned 180° in a really short time? No problem. I'm looking forward to this ride because it's a ride not a frickin' race. I can pedal my girth at my own damn pace thank you very much. Plus it's a good excuse to hang out with my friends Dave and Solh. I just hope I don't blow it off. No promises.