Friday, March 26, 2010

where trouble melts like lemon drops, high above the chimney tops; that's where you'll find me

I wish I could record all the swishing, dripping, banging, clanging, knocking, thumping, bubbling, whistling, rushing, thundering, and clicking noises that the hot water pipes for our complex -- which happen to run through our basement apartment -- make each night. Then you'd understand why I don't sleep through the night (other than the sinus problems, of course).

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12 minute mile + 3 years of no workouts + medical issues = 30 minute mile. Sheesh. Math really does suck.

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I heart swimming!!!!

Dudes, I pulled the breast stroke out of my hat Wednesday night... haven't done that one for 30 years. I'd been pissing around with the backstroke and a paddle board, 'cause my breathing was so ragged I didn't trust my face in the h20. But today for the first time I got the breathing under control and spent 35 minutes straight on laps alternating the crawl, backstroke, and breast stroke. I was fucking awesome!!!

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Dear Whole Foods: broccoli and shrimp do not belong on a pizza. That is all.

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My guilty pleasure (the mindless People mag) + another guilty pleasure (Haagen-Dazs chocolate/peanut butter--dude, it's not even fro-yo) + George Lopez on the telly?

Priceless!

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Walking up 8th Ave on a mild march evening, from the kmart at 34th to the modell's on 42nd (after a full day of work, an incredible workOUT, and an evening of student advising for which two whole students showed up), with IZ K serenading me via my ear buds?

Priceless.

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Standing on the A platform at 42nd and watching two maintenance men search the tracks with flashlights, find something, reach down with a claw attached to a long pole, pull it up... and hand the cell phone back to the dumbass woman who dropped it on the tracks -- all before the next train came and smashed it to bits?

Priceless.

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I'm going to the circus tonight.

And to a wine tasting workshop tomorrow.

I fucking love my life!





photo mine...some funky plant in fort tryon park

Saturday, March 20, 2010

sunny day, chasing the clouds away

I've been posting over on FB about the travesty that is the tax system. I don't have any little rugrats under age, so I'm now single with no extra exemptions. I filled out a W4 last year with one exemption, figuring I'd break even -- wouldn't get anything, but wouldn't pay anything. Apparently, I should have claimed zero fucking exemptions to break even. Which just doesn't make sense. I'm going to owe the feds, the state, and the city this year, and I have no idea how I'll pay.

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I saw the super's wife today, and she asked me if I'd lost weight. Whoo hoo! I know it's not enough to be noticeable, especially for people who see me every day. But she hadn't seen me for weeks, so maybe there is a slight visible effect of three weeks of working out.

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The landlord came by to collect the rent today. He collects it in person, in cash, each month...I don't mind. He had a welcome surprise -- the preliminary paperwork for the next lease period.

My lease isn't up till May 30, but something may be afoot in NYC. It seems that when the city is short on cash and Mayor Bloomberg can't get it directly from the people, he'll increase taxes to owners of buildings with rent stabilized apartments. Then, he'll allow the owners to charge higher increase percentages for new leases so they can recoup some of that cost.

That means that if he'd waited till May, it's possible that my 6% increase for a two-year lease could have been, say, 8%.

Also, he's maintaining the preferential rent for two years. This means that although my normal rent would be about $1500, the 6% increase will be on my $1175 preferential payment. So, while my rent will go up to $1245 on June 1, I'm assured of keeping the apartment at that rent for two years, regardless of whatever stabilization increases occur.

I also found out that, while I had thought that when an apartment reached a monthly payment of $2000 it ceased to be rent stabilized, I was only partly correct. If the apartment is rented to a new tenant after it hits that mark, then yes, they can charge whatever rent they want -- there is no more stabilization if the owner doesn't want to go that route.

However, if someone is already in the apartment and continues to renew the lease every two years, and if that someone makes less than $250K, the apartment will continue to be rent stabilized. That saves the tenant from freaky, unexpected rent hikes. In general, it goes up 3% for a one-year lease, 6% for a two-year.

Basically, that means I'm safe in my apartment indefinitely. Even if I were to become unemployed, the UE would cover the rent so I wouldn't be homeless.

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Winter's OVER, dudes! It was so nice outside today I went out in just a short-sleeve shirt and a not-too-heavy hoodie. I had to take off the hoodie! The sun was shining to beat the band. I'd planned on going in to the office so I could workout/swim and then do a little work, but I decided I wanted to be outside instead. I swear I think I've got SAD from being cooped up in this basement apartment all winter.

So, I decided to run a bunch of errands today, and to walk as much of it as I could -- exercise, sunshine, and getting things done, hey! I started with a quick trip around the corner and a block north to the post office, to mail some more tax forms to the rugrat in Florida. She doesn't have access to a printer where she is.

Then I needed to go up to 181st and Broadway to have my cell checked out by a sprint repair shop, so I walked up there from 191st and Broadway. I say up 'cause there's a definite uphill -- which is good for a walking workout -- but really it's south.

I walked past the funeral home at 189th, right across the street from a big apartment complex. Past PS 46 between 187th and 185th, across the street from the Key Foods and the BP gas/Dunkin' Donuts.

Past the Staples at 185th. Past the 34th police precinct between 184th and 183rd, across from the Social Security Admin building. And to 181st, with the New York and Company store across the street from the McDonald's.

Unfortunately, the response from the repair shop was to go to a main Sprint store, where they could do the work immediately, and where they had a replacement phone in stock if I needed it. The nearest Sprint store was at Marble Hill (225th). It's down the street from the Target and I needed a few necessities, so I decided to go for it.

So I walked back down (north) Broadway, stopping at Key Foods to pick up some produce and a couple of necessities like ketchup. Hey, I don't care how much sugar it has in it, a person can't function without ketchup in the house.

Spinach and romaine, those little peeled baby carrots (they're sweeter than the big carrots), onions, cucumber, and a couple more of those really yummy sweet potatoes. And not a single goodie -- not one!

I carried those the rest of the way home, unpacked and put away what needed to be refrigerated, and headed back out for the Sprint store and Target.

This time I walked a block north and turned northeast on Nagle Ave. It's about four blocks to the 1 subway. We're smack in between two stops on the 1, at 190th and at Dykman. The route to the 190th stop is mostly underground, so we use that when the weather sucks. Otherwise, I walk up Nagle. Well, this time, let's just say I sort of strutted up Nagle. I was in such a good mood with the sun, and with the weight comment from the super's wife. My feet felt very light today.

Nagle is 'the hood' for sure. The streets are lined with locally owned shops -- everything from pizza, chinese, chicken, spanish foods; beauty and barber shops; a grade school; small medical/dental clinics; small bodegas; western unions. And 80% of the signage is in spanish. People (more men than women) bring lawn chairs down from their apartments and hang out on the sidewalk, and guys work on cars parked along the street.

I hopped on the 1, which was above ground at that point, so I was still enjoying the sunshine. I stood for the three stops, got off, and left my cell at the Sprint store for an hour.

I walked by the Lane Bryant on my way to Target, and saw a sweater in the window that I really liked, so I had to stop in and check it out. I tried on a few things, and wound up with two spring-y sweaters that are good for casual professional work attire.





Then on to Target, where I mostly picked up necessities, but also found a handbag on sale. And I did not get soda or candy or munchies. But I did pick up a pint of ben & jerry's froyo. What can I say?

Back to the Sprint store an hour and a half later, only to discover I hadn't given them my pin code to unlock the phone.

-- Insert homer simpson doh! moment here --

So I waited around another fifteen minutes while they did their thing. They fixed it so I can get online, supposedly fixed the problem with freezing and the phone shutting off on its own, and installed a new battery. We'll see if that works.

Then I used said online service to find the nearest Supercuts. Spring was in the air, and a haircut was as well. So back to the 1, and back down Nagle to take home the packages from Target.

I decided to go the other direction back to the 1, and picked it up at 190th, riding it down to 103rd, walking a block to 102nd and Broadway to the Supercuts. Where I took a deep breath and had the stylist cut off most of my hair. Not only can't I pull it back into a ponytail or clip, I can barely tuck the front behind my ears anymore. I'm trying to get used to it. I think once I shower and style it in the AM, I'll like it.

Now, back on the 1, I decided to get off again at 181st, walk the two blocks to Broadway, and walk home one last time back down Broadway. Along the way, yes...I hit up the mickie d's. After all that walking, I figured I'd burn most of it off.

My mp3 battery had gone dead just as I reached Supercuts, but I didn't mind. It was nice to walk down the street and hear the multiple languages being spoken, the occasional car driving by with reggaeton blasting, windows open.

It was, in a word: NYC. My NYC.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

for goodness' sakes, look at those cakes!

I don't know how anyone could workout without James Brown. He's my constant companion when I'm sweating and hurting on the elliptical or treadmill. When I think my shins and knees will quite simply stop functioning on me, leaving me screaming in agony and rolling around on the ground.

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Shopping at Costco is a very different experience in Manhattan. First, one must be sure you're wearing very comfortable clothes and shoes, as this will take some time. Your handbag must be something small (just the necessities ladies) and have a shoulder strap that goes across your body, leaving your hands and arms completely free -- and your metro pass easily at hand.

Because Costco is on the upper east side, and you live on the upper west side, it will be a bit of a trick to get there -- because you sure as heck aren't going to pay a taxi. So, you'll walk a couple of blocks to the subway, where you'll take the 'A' from 190 to 125, the 'C' from 125 to 116, and the 'M116' (that's a bus, for you non-nycers) from west 116th to east 116th, and walk a couple more blocks to Costco. You'll repeat the process home, but with heavy bags.

Now, you can't shop like you used to at the Costco in Yonkers. You won't have your car to pull the cart up to and load full of crap you think you might need over the next six months. No, you'll have to seriously consider every little purchase, asking yourself if you can carry it home.

After shopping and checking out, you'll take your cart outside and unpackage some things so they'll fit in the three elizabeth haub reusable grocery bags you've brought along. When you pick up the three bags and begin the walk back to the bus stop, you realize you've underestimated the total weight of your purchases. Badly.

When you finally arrive back home (four hours after you left), you discover that the total weight of your bags (of course you weight them!) was 55.5 pounds. The next day, your neck, shoulders, and back are...well, you won't be doing the weight machines in your workout for a few days.

And you didn't get nearly everything you wanted to get, which means you'll have to go back again in a couple of weeks. Why not use a wheeled cart like you do for regular grocery store trips? Because it won't fit on a bus filled with people.

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I'm still struck sometimes, in moments of reflection and introspection, with the fact that I'm 50. It seems so earth-shattering. And those little panic attacks I get, when I fixate on no longer existing at some point, are getting more frequent.

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I miss my son, over there clear across the country. I haven't seen him for four or five years now. And I haven't yet seen my grandson, and probably won't till my son is able to get a home of their own. He's currently living with his in-laws, while he sells his house across the state. I keep having dreams about him...in them, he's usually a child, and I have lost him somewhere and can't find him. I often still wonder why I moved so far away.

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photo mine, the last cup of mexican chocolate I made before my cocomotion machine went belly up

Friday, March 05, 2010

girls, girls, girls

Not a typical post title for me, since I'm not into girls at all. But I went to see a play tonight, and the actors were from the Queen's Company, billed as NYC's all-female classical theatre company. Can I just say they are fucking incredible?! What talent! And apparently, many of the cast appear without monetary compensation.

The play I saw was The Wonder, something originally circa 1700s England -- old language, quick wit, humour you have to think about -- with some hilarious 21st century tweaks.

I absolutely, positively, haven't had that much fun in a very, very long time. I'm seriously considering buying another ticket to see it again before its run ends.

Screw Broadway, dudes, off-off-Broadway is where it's at!

On another completely unrelated note, I worked out again today despite a full day at work and the play after; I wedged it in between the two.

This is day four, two in the pool, two in the gym (treadmill & weights). I like the pool better; since it's lower impact, I can get my heart rate up higher painlessly. The treadmill & elliptical cause some serious shin and knee pain.

I seem to be down a couple of pounds, but it's early. One more week, and I'll pull out the tape measure. As the doc says, the waist is more important than the weight.

Still running out of time grading student work. I had planned to put aside one day a week this semester for the MFD 'cause I have a course release to do research, but damn...I don't know where the time goes every freakin' weekend. I'm working on it, but it's so constantly overwhelming.

And ironically, the stress/pressure/too much to do is about all the things one has to do to ultimately get tenure in addition to teaching. All the extra work is keeping me from the MFD, and yet of course I won't get tenure without the MFD completed.

As David Bowie said in Labyrinth, "I am exhausted from living up to your expectations of me."

(photo from the queen's company website)