May 10, 2007

You can't go home again

After putting it off for almost a month, I finally went back to my old place a couple weeks ago to pick up the last few things left. My old landlord, Patrick had been calling me about it. I needed to just get it done. Honestly, I'd been a little apprehensive about going back, in part because of how strange it was to see it emptied out. The orange walls were bare and every sound echoed back at me.

That apartment was my home for 8 years.

When I got there, Patrick and his wife, Gloria were there talking to the guy they brought in to fix up the place. I could hear the same creepy echo from the hall, then I walked in. They had re-painted the apartment a bland off-white. The warm orange glow was gone.

It was so disturbing, it was all I could do to grab the last of my stuff and get out of there.

Patrick and Gloria gave me a ride to the new apartment and in the end it reminded me of the day I was dropped off at college.

April 4, 2007

Too Much TV

I OWN YOU, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

An unfortunate side-effect of spending all this time in the house unpacking and setting up has been a sharp increase in my TV consumption. We have cable in multiple rooms, which was a surprising decision to come from someone who claims to hate TV, but it made sense when dealing with the cable company.

It used to be that I'd spend the time listening to music or NPR, but lately, it's just been one show after another. Every hour I'll hit the DVR or On Demand looking for something else to have on in the background. It's almost hard to remember that a year or two ago all I had was fuzzy broadcast television that I barely ever watched.

I have to keep that in check. I always described my relationship with television as an addiction. I did my best to avoid it for years. Now that I'm 'on' it again, I'd like to keep it moderate.

It's very easy to do mindless tasks while watching TV, but reading and writing and anything that requires some focus is nearly impossible.

Tonight, I'm going to try to avoid turning on the TV at all.

Slow Cooker

Part of the kitchen 'booty' I've acquired in the move is a small slow cooker Tammi had. She'd never really used it. I've been wanting one for ages. I read a Bittman column about it a couple years ago, shortly after I discovered braising and realized that I had to have one. Now I do.

Yesterday I threw some seared short ribs, chopped chorizo, garlic, onions and what was left of a bottle of red wine from the other night in the slow cooker and left it. When I got home, it was ready to eat. Unfortunately, I had just stuffed myself at Fette Sau, so I was in no shape to eat it. Tammi had it for dinner went back for seconds. Sadly, I forgot to put it away and left it 'warming' for the next 20-odd hours, so it's ruined before I could dig in.

But, I made a point of picking up some pork belly from the supermarket in Koreatown. I'm going to season it up tonight and leave it cooking in a pork broth I made that's been waiting for just such an opportunity. Tomorrow night: Porky Goodness.

April 3, 2007


IMG_5506, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

After spending the last 4 days unpacking and dealing with plumbers, electricians and cable guys, I'm taking s little downtime.

I'm spending the afternoon in Williamsburg. Not walking around, not looking for graffiti, just sitting on my ass and drinking beer. I'm hoping to eat some barbecue at Fette Sau, which just opened, whenever I finally get up. I tried to check it out a couple days ago, but it was packed.

Right now, I'm at Spike Hill, one of my favorite bars in Brooklyn. I find that weekday afternoons are the best times to go. The crowd is sparse and the vibe is relaxed.

The photo above is a reshoot. A year ago, I also had a day off and ended up at Spike Hill. I shot a similar photo of people sitting in the window. It was around when I first started seriously shooting. Expect a few more reshoots in the next few months.

March 27, 2007

Settling In

This is going to be a week of firsts.

Today, I did my rush hour commute for the first time. Sunday night, I took a taxi to our new home for the first time. I didn't know where to turn, or how many blocks we'd be going.

Trial and error is everywhere. The washer and dryer we ordered wouldn't fit in the house, much less the basement. We have to order a smaller one. The couch in the living room is bigger than we thought, we have to rearrange things, maybe even buy a new one.

Meanwhile, we're making progress with the unpacking. I still don't know where half of my things are, but there's progress. This morning I dug through boxes to find some speakers so I could listen to npr and begin my morning ritual in my room. In the bedroom, Tammi watched NY1, her preferred way to start the day. One regular point of contention solved already.

There's a lot to be figured out, tons of progress left to be made, but everything is already starting to come together.


March 25, 2007

Moved in, wiped out

IMG_4555.JPGMoved out...

...and moved in.

Yesterday was crazy. It was nerve-wracking and frantic, but by the end of the day, my stuff was in our new apartment. Many thanks to my mom and our friends Dorla and Kevin who came out to help. And of course to Tammi who put up with me totally freaking out all day.

Last night, we had dinner at Chez Oskar and got very drunk. It is (was?) Brooklyn Restaurant Week, and they had a prix fixe menu. I had a great Lamb Shank for my entree along with Country Paté and Creme Caramel.

This morning we got up early and Tammi's stuff was moved in. The place is jammed with boxes. We've already started unpacking, but it's total chaos. I spent 15 minutes searching for underwear.

Sadly, instead of celebrating, I'm stuck at the office. I'm hoping for a quiet night. Tomorrow is delivery/hookup day.

March 24, 2007

Moving Day

I hate moving. That's why I haven't done it in 8 years. I'm exhausted. I'm just barely functional. There's a little packing left, but it's fine. At this point I'm happy to just dumnp everything in a bag or box and deal with it when we get there - after I sleep for 10 hours.


March 20, 2007

Keys to the Kingdom

I picked up the keys to the apartment today after work.

I'd probably have something significant to say about new beginnings and the start of spring if I weren't so exhausted.

We've decided to wait to paint, which seriously diminishes the chances of actually doing it, but is much more realistic.

The next two days are dedicated to packing. Enjoy the pics and travel posts in the meantime.

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I'm moving on Saturday. Today is Tuesday. Many things have yet to be packed.
In order to avoid an obvious form of procrastination, I'm going to take the opportunity to post some brief or pre-written pieces over the next week or so. I may post about the move here and there, but really, I need to focus on the actual move more and writing about it less. In the meantime, enjoy some of what I've had to say about San Francisco, Chicago, Hawai'i, and Montreal among other places.


March 16, 2007

The Move: More Verizon Nonsense

I've got just over a week to go before moving and not nearly enough packed. So far, I've mostly been purging, but at this point I just need to start packing everything up. I decided to work from home today so I can start really packing stuff away. Given the crappy weather, today seemed like a good day to stay in the house and get some packing done.

Verizon of course had other plans. I was on the phone with them for almost 2 hours trying to figure out why I still don't have a dial tone. Allegedly the issue is fixed, but I still don't have service. Now I'm totally irritated with everything.


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March 14, 2007

The Move: Verizon sucks


Fucking Verizon.

I'm trying to be on top of things. Today I started the process of moving over subscriptions and utilities. I called Verizon and scheduled an installation for a week and a half from now. I told them I to disconnect my line at my current apartment the same day.

Tammi calls me tonight and it's disconnected. Apparently 'the 26th' sounds like 'today.'


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March 13, 2007

DITC: Step Into A World Remix

"I'm gon' make you dance."

Who ever thought a KRS-One song would start like that? More to the point, who ever thought 'The Prophet' would ever do a track with Puffy, who many of us, at the time, could only think of as the Hip-hop anti-christ. It was an obvious radio track for KRS. It had a hot beat but still had all of the self-righteousness brilliance one would expect alternating between the bubble gum clap trap Puff has always been known for:

"Hear the sound of my money machine See the 600 Benz see the chrome rims gleam See the teacher KRS and the Puff Daddy See the young black and famous Rich like Matty With the power and the knowledge at our fingertips With a style make the ladies wanna lick they lips, shake they hips Shake they rumps, bass thump Believin they could fly by the way you jump, player, uhh Hip-Hop mayor, fat rhyme sayer From the Boogie Down to the Himilayas..."
(Puffy's lyrics courtesy of Gold Lyrics )

As I said, clap-trap.

Thankfully it was the only track of its kind that I can think of. I'm not sure if the backpacker community would have survived had there been more. Contemplating the juxtaposition of skills and extreme nonsense too much would certainly had caused heads to explode.

Sorry, I can't end this entry without posting a little more of puffy's hackneyed bullshit:

Politic with the teacher (c'mon) as the hits reach ya Puff Daddy and KRS-One, double feature (that's right) Uptown diplomats, watch chips get stacked So-and-so, this and that (uhh) Just 'Show me the money!' Ain't nuttin funny (uh-huh) Have you stuck on stupid broke feelin crummy (ahah) Ain't no time for Girl 6 Cause I got a ten, holdin my stack of big Benz Correographer causin your funky dope maneuver (say what?)

Say what indeed...

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DITC: Usual Suspects

I remember the album, Vendetta, was supposed to be Mic Geronimo's big comeback. Unfortunately, the lead single turned out to be his own Flava in ya Ear remix. DMX came out of nowhere and outshined him on his own track. What I didn't remember was that Jadakiss was on it too. This was back before the Lox album, I think. He took a little while to catch everyone's attention. I remember my friends and I jumping on All for the Love, when their album came out. I wonder if we even noticed that it was the same dude who was on this track.

These days I rarely listen to new music, so I haven't heard much Jadakiss in a while, but I do know that he got pretty damn big since I got out of school. Sadly, I haven't heard anything at all about Mic Geronimo. Just like Craig Mack, no one has heard from him in a long time. According to AllMusic, he's released two albums since, one just this year. I guess there's still a chance he'll blow up. I wouldn't recommend he use too many unknown guest stars this time around.

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March 11, 2007

The Move: A second look

We visited the apartment again this afternoon. It was the first time I've seen it since we the open house. It was a little different from what I remembered. In order to plan everything out, I needed get past the idealized version of it that I've had in my head. This trip I got to check out it's flaws. Now I have a better idea of the issues we're going to have to deal with.

First and foremost is lighting. There's a long connected space encompassing the entryway, the hall and the kitchen which has little or no light coming in. The stairs that go to the parlor floor apartment are also unlit. We're going to have to buy a lot of lamps.

Another thing is the height of the ceilings, maybe about 8 feet. At least one of the shelves we were going to get won't fit in there.

Going into the door on the garden floor is going to be difficult when we move in. The bay windows jut out into the path, leaving less than 3 feet across. Getting our larger furniture in may mean passing through the parlor floor.

On the plus side, the rooms are all bigger than I thought and I actually got a chance to measure them. Also, both closets are walk-ins, which is nice.

The living room, being an extension on the house has windows on three of its walls, so it's very bright. Looking through the place again, we got a better idea of how the paint will look in the natural lighting. That was very useful. Some of the colors that we had picked out looked totally different inside. We're going with a orange-yellow spectrum moving from the entryway to the living room. My current apartment is orange, so I've been partial to that for some time. We haven't quite decided on the colors for the other rooms. I was going to stick with orange for my room as well, but now I'm thinking I may go with a red. The color for our bedroom is Tammi's choice and she's not sure what she wants to do with that either.

I'm glad I got another chance to look at everything, if slightly overwhelmed with all that needs to be done.

more to come...

Continue reading "The Move: A second look" »

March 10, 2007

The Move: wading through the past

My Alma Mater....

I can't say I was totally surprised when I found a batch of stuff from college. Even so, it took me back to find a stack of flyers for a party I threw when I was a sophmore. Somewhat gratifying, I found a few of them with numbers on them from various Mt. Holyoke girls I tried to talk to back then. I was never successful with any of them, but still.

I also found a box full of thesis drafts and notes. I wrote about online communities and the degree to which people have always used technology to create and extend social groups. It's funny because Mike and I were just emailing yesterday about online communities and the failings of BlackPlanet, a site which everyone I know gave up on years ago.

One thing I had forgotten is that, true to my geekiness, I had code-named each chapter. Every chapter of my thesis was named after a character in the Bloom County comic strip. Opus, Bill the Cat, and so on. If I recall, I had a set of Bloom county icons that I used to signify them on my computer.

Back to work...

March 9, 2007

The Move: Paint Fight!


Not as much fun as a paintball fight, a paint fight is when you go to Home Depot and try to pick out paints together. Much like Paintball, you should be sure to pick out exactly opposite colors. Unlike Paintball, you don't get to shoot your opponent, no matter how much you want to.

Ok, it wasn't nearly that bad. I will say this though, compromise is hard. It's particularly difficult for someone as overbearing "strong-willed" as I am.
This whole excercise is a challenge. It's a good thing to go through, though. Better that we figure out how to work together from the start.

Continue reading "The Move: Paint Fight!" »

March 6, 2007

Move Update: 3.6.07

I'm stilll trying to wrap my head around the task ahead. So far everything is going pretty well. I'm shredding papers, which is pretty entertaining. I started packing books this morning.

Predictably, Tammi and I have already had a couple heated debates regarding budgets for necessary purchases. We'll figure that out.

Our broker went on vacation on Wednesday, so we had to deal with someone else for the lease signing. Unavoidable, but it meant that no one could answer our questions - or even give us the landlords phone number.

There's still no word on when we get the keys, but it has only been a day. I'm a little impatient about that. A lot of our planning depends on when we can get access. I'd love to be able to schedule moves and figure out when we can paint.

Also, I haven't seen it since before we decided we wanted it. Besides tammi's pictures, I'm flying blind as far as dimensions and such.

I'm just eager, I guess.


Continue reading "Move Update: 3.6.07" »

March 4, 2007

The Move: The Lease is Signed

It's official.

Today we went downtown to the Corcoran office and signed the lease for our new apartment.

And so the process begins...
Yesterday I started clearing out my closets and, as predicted, found a piece of mail from 1998. We bought a heavy duty shredder for the paper purge that I'm going to have to do. I have piles of bills and mail and junk that needs to be destroyed.

The good news is that we will have no shortage of packing material. And we'll be prepared should a ticker tape parade spontaneously erupt on my block.

We don't know how soon we'll be able to ge into the apartment, but we're hoping for sooner rather than later. We want to paint the place before moving our stuff in. I don't think it'll be a big deal since the apartment is empty right now.

More to come...


Continue reading "The Move: The Lease is Signed" »

February 28, 2007

The Apartment Hunt: Accepted!


This afternoon we were notified that our application, which included references from our bosses, our landlords, 2 months of bank statements and credit checks was accepted. This weekend we'll meet, sign the lease and pay our fee and rent.

I'm sort of totally shocked that this happened so quickly. I'm typically the skeptical, conservative one. I couldn't imagine going with the second place we saw. But here we are. After the paperwork is signed, we get to the big part: The Move.

I need to buy a shredder. I've probably got 8 year old mail sitting in my closets somewhere. I'm going to have to call in the Salvation Army to pick up all the stuff I'll be donating.

And then there's the apartment. Since it's empty, we'll have the opportunity to get in there before April 1st to clean up, to paint the rooms and to set things up before we start moving our stuff in. We have to figure out how we're going to pay rent, how we're going to set up the entertainment system, how we're going to set up our network, which washer and dryer we're going to get... everything.

It also means that we'll be able to start moving in before the first. We'll need to figure out how we're moving too. A company or a man with a van.

This is going to be the real challenge. I hate moving. There's a reason I've lived in the same place for nearly 8 years.

Stay tuned...


Continue reading "The Apartment Hunt: Accepted!" »

February 26, 2007

The Apartment Hunt: The hard sell


We're both pretty convinced about this now. This evening Tammi went back to get a better look at the place. She shot some more photos of it and looked at the basement. She's sold. I'm sold. So why is the real estate agent still shoving it down our throats?

This is the first time I've dealt with corcoran and I have to say it's not something I hope to do again. The apartment is all we could have asked for, we're ready to move along with the process, we're filling out the applications. Yet every interaction we have with the broker, we're reminded of how desirable the apartment is and that other people are still seeing it.

Never mind the 12% broker fee(!), that's irritating enough. So are all the references and extra information that we're required to provide. But the incessant scare tactics and bullying piss me off. You don't get to work at the biggest brokerages in the city by being passive, but this is too aggressive. Now that Tammi's sold on the place, she's afraid that someone is going to jump in and scoop it out from under us, because that's what our broker has been not-so-subtly hinting.

(rant continues after the jump)

Continue reading "The Apartment Hunt: The hard sell" »

February 25, 2007

Apartment Hunt: Finished?


Before it's even begun, the hunt might be over.

Yesterday we saw an apartment 2 blocks away from where I grew up and a block from where Tammi lived when we first started dating.

The price is at exactly the top of our range, which has us paying about what we're paying now. That alone ought to be enough to tank it, but it's got some major things going for it.

It's got the usual frills of a new reno: new appliances, new bath, new heating system. It also has a second bathroom, a dishwasher, and a washer/dryer hookup in the basement. The basement that we'd have exclusive access to.

Seriously. Who has that?

Read on to find out why I've fallen for this place after the jump...

Continue reading "Apartment Hunt: Finished?" »

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