Sunday, December 30, 2012

Seasons, Cycles and a Consciousness Shift

Christmas vacation is going well here at Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters in Harlem. I'm so glad to be able to say "Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters" again that I seem to be saying it more than is absolutely necessary - but it really is good to be back in a permanent HQ.  The Restoration project this week revolved around unloading boxes - finding important things like the coffee pot and the cork screw, then figuring out where to put all this stuff.  I've also been noticing little things for the final punch list such as someone seems to have used Ceiling White to touch up all the woodwork instead of semi-gloss.  The big news on the Restoration front is the bath tub.  It's been refinished.

I resisted refinishing the bath tub because I was convinced it would look like somebody painted it with White Out.  Then the woman from the tub refinishing company came to check it out and said there was fungus growing in all those ancient cracks in the glaze which convinced me to go ahead and get it done because me and fungus don't bathe together - but I remained skeptical.   On Christmas Eve morning, the technician arrived and covered the whole bathroom with protective paper.  After he cleaned, he filled in the chips and divots in the surface, and then he sanded that.  He set up a major ventilation fan, then he got serious.

The process didn't take very long, which was good since that porcelain spray smelled to high heaven.  After a few days, it still kind of smells like Diaperene in there, but that smell is fading along with the smell of paint and polyurethane from the floor.  The bath tub itself is surprisingly gorgeous.  I like it so well, I may have them come back and do the kitchen sink once we've finished up everything from the original Scope of Work list.

Another angle - just to show off my fancy plumbing:

Notice how he wrapped the faucet so that no drips would damage the surface while it dried.   I let it dry for 48 hours because we're not fucking up anything in the new place through negligence - through foolishness, maybe, but not through negligence.

Foolishness may be the reason why the Christmas tree has had to lean against the window for support.  Velvet and I chose a tree that had a big, gaping bare spot on one side since the tree was going in front of the living room window.  As convenient as that bare spot is for positioning, I think it has thrown the whole tree off balance because the tree kept falling over.  At first, Velvet and I thought the tree was falling over because neither he nor I had ever been responsible for putting the tree in the stand. Buzz Kill wouldn't let anyone else near that job, so neither Velvet nor I had ever done more than assess the straightness of the tree trunk until this very Christmas.

It's not so bad, though.

Velvet made the angel for the top of the tree when he was two and a half.  I helped a little, but he did the face all by himself.  It's begun to look a bit like something out of Nightmare Before Christmas, and we love it like that.

The Starship Enterprise survived another move and is exploring the Christmas tree system:

The best news by far, however, is that I have successfully avoided joining Cupcake's parents for a New Year's Eve dance at their Hungarian church.  While I'm sure it's a lovely event, I am strongly opposed philosophically to becoming friendly with Cupcake's mother.  She will surely pull me into their family's general arguments, which is reason enough to avoid her in and of itself.  Worse, though, she seems 100% likely to meddle in the kids' relationship so that Velvet will graduate from college and get married to Cupcake on the same day.

Granted it will be years before Velvet graduates, and I'm delighted that both Cupcake's parents believe it's important for the kids to finish school - it's just that they may not even want to get married.  I love Cupcake and am especially happy that she's taken over administrative tasks for Velvet so that he's registered on time and his class schedule is easy for him to manage in terms of both workload distribution and commute.  They really do make a good team, and there are couples who get together when they are kids and stay together until they die within months of each other in their 90s.  Could be that Velvet and Cupcake are as Good As it Gets.  However, too many kids get married too early because parents are pushy with their own expectations.  I believe Cupcake's mother is one of those parents.

I, on the other hand, seem to be the kind of parent whose example convinced her child that marriage is a bad idea unless somebody wants to procreate.  I still think it's better to be married if you choose to have kids because of all the legalities involved around property and health care.  It's much easier to get child support from an ex-husband than a Baby Daddy (or Momma), and little kids require a relentless amount of care so that it takes at least two adults to deal with the situation.  Buzz Kill and I did okay in that department.

Parenting adult kids is different than parenting little kids.  For the most part, once a kid is older, s/he is no longer relentless - at least if they are functioning in society (whatever that means in your own family).  The kids aren't under foot the whole time, so you can relax and do your own stuff.   Gigi is on her way over, and she's very much like an adult daughter in that sometimes I hear from her a lot, and other times I don't hear from her for a week or two.  She's a blessing in my life, for sure, so I'm glad we've become family by choice.  Diane is family by choice, too.  She's just enough older than me, and her kids are just enough older than Velvet, that I was able to get a glimpse of how parenting might be for me in the near future.  Diane is already in the Grandma Zone since her grown daughter is married and lives in Connecticut with her two year old.

While I was living with Diane, I realized that Diane has been present during all the major transitions in my life.  Before I went into the looney bin, Diane talked me out of the store room at work where I was hiding in tears, struggling to contain my feelings since I was so angry I couldn't face anyone.  She had a front row seat to my divorce, and she nurtured and supported me through this transition to the next phase of my life.  She cooked dinner and everything.  Going back to my favorite place - the intersection of Real Life and Fairy Tale, Diane is like the ferryman who takes the hero from one side to the other on his/her journey.  I think in mythology the character is Charon who takes people across the River Styx into the Underworld.  I'm pretty sure every hero's journey has a ferryman, at least if you believe Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers.

I'm on the other side now, for sure, and the entire New Age is upon us.  Even though it looks a lot like the Old Age out there - with war, crime, mass murder, political bullshit, GMOs and climate change - it looks to me like more and more people are starting to notice this is bullshit.  I still think that things will get worse before people start demanding change like they did in the 60's; and there are reasons to believe that workers revolt every 50 years or so as if it is part of the cycles of life.  Multi-national corporations that practice mutant capitalism may have influenced the cycle to the point where we have to have a global meltdown.  Destruction often makes way for new growth, though, just like fires clear out the underbrush in a healthy forest.  Kali shows us how destruction and creation are inextricably tied together - so I'm not worried.

Now that I think about it, destruction and creation has just occurred in my very own bathroom.  We're still waiting on the medicine chest, so there's no mirror in there for me to see a reflection of myself.  The funny thing is, though, that when I lift up my head after brushing my teeth over the sink, the image in my head is so strong, it's almost like there is a mirror.  Could be I'm projecting - but it could be that my internal self is finally so strong that I don't need to look in a mirror to decide if I like who I see.  More evidence of the consciousness shift.

from Blueberry at Texas Oasis 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Good Morning, Starshine

Velvet did not move home last night as planned.
I was exceedingly disappointed, furious, and an argument ensued.  Apparently he didn't realize I was making a "holiday" last night because I was under the impression he was spending Christmas Eve and morning with his dad and Christmas Day with Cupcake's family.  Not wanting to add more pressure to Christmas, on Wednesday when all this information was coming to light I said that Christmas is just a day like any other, and we'd have Christmas another day. Velvet appreciated that, but evidently did not notice when I said we'd celebrate the new age last night upon his return.

He went out drinking with friends from high school.

I have no problem with Velvet going out to party after he's been studying diligently for a couple of weeks.  I do have a problem with Velvet ditching me at the last minute when I've been excited and making small preparations.  The important word there is SMALL.  My kid has ditched me enough in the past so that I've learned not to go too far out of my normal way unless he's personally involved in the preparations.  I'm convinced the only way he knows something is actually going on is if he's personally involved in the preparations.

As it happened, I appealed to Buzz Kill to help sort out the trouble, and Buzz Kill did.  There's evidence of a consciousness shift of galactic proportions for you.  Buzz Kill being a sympathetic advocate for both my position and Velvet's is a big deal in and of itself.   That I appealed to Buzz Kill is particularly significant, although at the time, I was just following an instinct and didn't really notice I was on a different path.  During the course of my conversation with Buzz Kill, and subsequent conversation with Velvet, I learned that I was not spending a solitary holiday after all.  Velvet is planning to be here, and wants a tree and everything.  He was surprised that I didn't realize he'd be around, and that since I thought he'd be gone, we were having a holiday last night.  He remembered no talk of a solstice holiday at all whatsoever.  I pointed out that he didn't remember because he was so busy being a smart ass to Cupcake about the end of the world instead of paying attention to what I was trying to communicate when we were on the phone to begin with.

I'm not pissed off anymore because the lesson here is that Velvet and I need to set up some ground rules.  Reentry can be a tough period in relationships, and it's been six months since Velvet and I lived together.   Setting rules and defining expectations was pretty easy when Velvet was a little kid and even when Velvet was in High School (examples:  Grounding Velvet, Stonerdate 06.11.09; My Son the SPED, Stonerdate 05.16.10; and most memorably Hot Boxing the Bathroom, Stonerdate 05.11.10).  Now that Velvet is practically grown to be a man, I find that instead of just flipping my lid like I did when he was a kid, I get all bent out of shape because he's acting like every man who disappointed me or let me down - which is to say:  Every man I've ever known.

*Note* No disrespect to men.  My reactions are my own responsibility, so the issue is not men.  The issue is my reaction.  *Another Note* I'm willing to wager most men could say the same thing about every woman they've ever known.  Disappointment is not gender specific.

I need to deal with Velvet like Velvet - not like I would deal with a man even though Velvet is a man.  Further, every man I've ever know was not my child, although I'm sure there are plenty of men out there who feel like women in their lives treat them like children.  God knows Velvet is bent because he believes I treat him like a child.  I would argue that I treat him like an asshole, and there's a big difference between children and assholes.  Children act like assholes occasionally, but those instances are generally mistakes or accidents.  Accidental Assholery, if you will.  Assholes (or Ass-Wholes, as my buddy Woody likes to say) are complete assholes all the time.

Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters in Harlem is an Asshole Free Zone - that's why Notta Goodman, should he turn up like a bad penny in a few months when he's gotten tired of banging bimbos in the flyovers, is not allowed to cross the threshold.  His assholery may have been stress induced and therefore temporary instead of Complete Ass-Wholery, but from where I sit, it looks like he's as narcissistic as The Narcissist.  Interestingly, I noticed the other day that when I got involved with each of those AssWholes, I was on heavy pain medication.  I had just gotten thrown off that horse and dislocated the shoulder in a major way when I met The Narcissist, and last year when I met Notta Goodman, I had just had surgery and a biopsy on the very same shoulder.  With The Narcissist, it was Vicodin.  Percocet with Notta Goodman.  Not to mention the level of pain in the first place or else I wouldn't have been on medication at all.  With The Narcissist, there were all those psychotropics, too.  You have to wonder if my judgement was altered by all those meds - although I have to say that until I met The Narcissist, I had never been involved with a complete asshole before.  I had known a few assholes in my time, for sure, but they were people from work and stuff so I was able to keep my distance.

By the time I met Notta Goodman, I had enough sense to recognize an Ass-Whole.  In retrospect, he turned out to be a lot like Doublewide (Shatiking Strikes Again, Stonerdate 11.15.08).  When I first met Double Wide, I had something to say about his behavior.  Because he hated to be seen as an Ass-Whole, he took steps to change my perception, but only because he didn't like being seen as an Ass-Whole.  He didn't mind BEING an Ass-Whole at all.  I'm sure his wife would concur.  The same applies to Notta Goodman.  When I raised an issue about him treating me as if my house was the drive-through window at Dairy Queen, he jumped into Damage Control mode and sucked up to me for a little while.  Once I bought his story, he reverted to his typical behavior.  From there, I saw enough similarity to The Narcissist to understand I was working out my own shit on Notta Goodman.  Narcissists are great tools for working out your own shit because their egos are so impermeable that no one can do any lasting damage.  The damage was done when they were kids, most likely by narcissistic parents.  In any case, there's no reason to be involved with a Narcissist unless (1) you're related and can't get out of it or (2) you get off to being a supply source for an emotional vampire.

It's also interesting to note that narcissism is developmentally appropriate in teenagers and young adults, so it's difficult to make a definite diagnosis of narcissism until the age of 25 or so - which brings us back to Velvet.

When I went to sleep last night at 11:00ish, I set the alarm to wake me in time for the great galactic alignment from 2:56 to 3:04am eastern time.  I woke up when the alarm went off, but then I closed my eyes for a minute and didn't wake up again until 3:18.   I figure that was the Universe telling me that the energy burst lasts for three days, so it's no big deal if you tap into it at midnight or at noon.  In fact, the energy is there every minute of every day.  We may be getting a direct hit from the black hole at the center of the Milky Way at the moment, but the Force is always there.  It always has been and always will be - or from a quantum perspective, it simply IS and there is no such thing as time.  We connect any time or all the time.  Ergo:  if 3:18 is just as good as 2:56 for The Force, then Saturday morning is just as good as Friday night for Velvet.

There's also a certain symmetry to Buzz Kill being the first man in the apartment (not counting contractors or Velvet, who I still have trouble thinking of as a man despite all this manliness).  It's a good thing that the conflicts between us have been resolved.  The Buzz Kill cycle is complete, much like the 26,800 year cycle our solar system just completed.  The men who passed through my life in the time since the divorce are part of the Buzz Kill cycle, too.  I think The Man fits into the cycle which could be called In the House of My Father.  My dad always looked at my marriage to Buzz Kill as a transaction in which I was moved from his payroll onto Buzz Kill's.  That's Patriarchy in action, and I confess I like the level of protection and security that goes along with being under the protection of a Patriarch, especially someone like my dad who considered himself a Benevolent Monarch.  He wanted his grandchildren to call him Most Revered Patriarch, but they just call him, "Scott."

Dad will be the next man in the new apartment.  He's coming up shortly after January 1st to take care of some carpentry and decorating details I left to him and my mom.  I'll go down to Texas at the end of January to get my mom.  She doesn't fly, so she and I are having our first Mother/Daughter road trip.  Whenever we've gone on a road trip before, it was a family event.

I'm glad that Dad and Buzz Kill have been the first men to cross the threshold because it establishes that I'm a Nice Girl - which is important in the Patriarchy.  And even though last night we shifted into the New Age and are in the process of leaving the patriarchy behind, facts are still facts when it comes to social conventions.  Now that we've established that I'm protected by patriarchs and am not to be trifled with - we can get on with the rest of the story and see just who will be the first man in there new apartment as a romantic interest.

Woody says that some famous academic believed that there are only two types of stories:  A Stranger Comes or A Call to Adventure.  I've issued a call to adventure to that artist who lives up in the woods, but I'm not sure he noticed.  I try to be subtle which means I'm so indirect sometimes that my message is unclear.  Or then again, I may have been bold as brass, and the artist isn't into the idea, or isn't ready or whatever.  It's hard to know what's up with people you've never met in real life.  It's hard to know what's up with people  you've known for twenty years.

I was talking with Gwendolyn and Nicole the other night on Here Be Monsters about how we ground ourselves to connect with The Light.  From what they said, it sounds like both Gwen and Nicole imagine the Light coming from their hearts and going up to the stars, around the planet and back to their hearts again.  For me, it's more like the Light starts to shine from my heart, then it expands so that my body dissolves, becoming Light and joining the Light.  There is no me, no Gwen, no Velvet, no artist in the woods - there is only One of us.  We're all The Light, and the Light is Love.  So like Bob Marley says, we're all One Love, One Heart.

I figure the best thing I can do is let light shine, and one day, someone will see it and show up at my door.  We'll make a story - mine begins with A Stranger Comes and his with A Call to Adventure.  Since I always like to go back to the intersection of Real Life and Fairy Tale, I'll use the movie Stardust as an example.  Yvaine provides a model for letting that little light of yours shine like a star.


Since it is Christmas time, after all, we may as well take the star idea on back to Jesus and with Wise Men.  All I have to do is shine, and a wise man will turn up.

Another story that resonates for me right now is Under the Tuscan Sun.  After her divorce, Frances restores an old house just like I am.

By the end, her every wish has come true but her life doesn't look a thing like she initially imagined which shows that when you get stuck on form, and time is a form too, the universe can't respond with any accuracy.

From a feminist perspective, it's kind of a drag that Yvaine only starts to glow because of the prince and that Frances' happiness is not complete until there's a man in her life.  Nobody can make another person happy.  We do that for ourselves, and until we're complete in and of ourselves, we can't fully relate to another person.  Nevertheless, theres'a lot to be said for steady, emotionally connected sex with a person you respect.   

Addendum:  Woody has informed me that the second kind of story isn't A Call to Adventure.  It's Someone Goes on a Journey.  I expect I've just come home from a Journey which is why when I think of a romance or a partner, I think A Stranger Comes.   Peter Pan tells us that all of life is an adventure, and I nearly always subscribe to lessons learned from Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and the rest of the crew in Neverland.  Dorothy proves that everything you need is in your own backyard, and we can always rely on lessons learned from The Wizard of Oz.  

Now that Velvet is home and we've discovered that the Chinese restaurant we liked best at our old home on Central Park West delivers to our new home here on Sugar Hill, we're settling in nicely.   We got the Wii hooked up to the TV in his room so we can stream Netflix and watch whatever we feel like whenever we feel like it.  It comes to my computer in the dining room/office too, so that's all the TV there is in the house.  Velvet and I like to watch movies together, and as it happens, he likes Stardust too.  I'm betting he relates to Tristan, the handsome, harassed young shop clerk who is truly a heroic king.

He and Cupcake spent the night here last night.  I have to roust them soon because the artisan from the tub refinishing company will be here at 9:00am.  The advance woman - a knowledgeable Latina about my age who gave me a hug when she heard this apartment is the first time I've had a home of my own instead of one dependent on my father or my husband -- convinced me that the tub should be refinished.  One single word sealed the deal:  Fungus.  Fungus grows in all those little cracks.  My mother says I can just squirt them with bleach - but I'm not comfortable with the idea of my bare ass on bleached fungus.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Restoration - Velvet, Galactic Alignment and the Bathtub Drain

Velvet moves home today.
I'm not sure if Cupcake will be joining him or not.  I made a point of inviting her since she's kind of scared of me and may not come with him without a specific invitation.  For the record, I like it that she's kind of scared of me.

The apartment project is at a stopping place for a few days.  A woman from the tub refinishing company is coming today sometime after 3:00 to examine the tub and make some recommendations.  I'm still not into reglazing, refinishing or otherwise fucking up the porcelain any worse than it already is by coating it with some ugly white acrylic shit no matter how many times people tell me it's great.  However, there is an issue with standing water near the drain.  The drain is antiquated and unusual.

As you can see, the drain is not flat on the bottom of the tub.  It's in the side and looks like a belly button, if you ask me.  There is a teeny little ridge inside that seems to be acting like a teeny, tiny dam.  Andy the Contractor says the pitch of the tub itself is a little off kilter, too, which contributes to the formation of the puddle.

It may be that the tub refinishers have a suggestion about the drain.  I feel like I've fully entered an ongoing episode of This Old House especially since Velvet's picturesque closet is about 1/4" too shallow for a standard size coat hanger.  Fortunately, a bookcase slid right inside which solved problem of storing the linens without a linen closet which I have been pondering for some time.  Now Velvet's closet is an outstanding linen closet, and I'll be spending more money at Ikea or on a small wardrobe for him.  He needed a new dresser anyway - and at this point, what's another couple hundred bucks?  He'll have to wait through a payday or two before we get said wardrobe, but the wardrobe box from the movers is perfectly fine until we can buy another piece of furniture.

In case you're wondering, here's the stopper:

The water goes through the belly button and down through the pipe in the floor.  To close the stopper and take a bath, you release this mechanism at the top of the chrome pipe.  You can't really see it on account of the flash - but you get the idea:

Athalie at the plumbing supply recommended I get this jazzy chrome stuff under the sink.   Much more attractive than typical pipes.  Here's the sink and the hole in the wall where the medicine cabinet will go when it ever gets here.

The front of the medicine chest is simply a flush beveled mirror.  An 8" towel bar is on the way, too.  I guess it's going to the right of the faucet since it won't fit anywhere else.

The contractors will be back to finish the bathroom once all this stuff ever gets delivered.  Meanwhile, Velvet and I will be celebrating the galactic alignment tonight.  I hope Cupcake is here too because it really is a time for all of us on the planet to appreciate our connection to each other and Earth, the mother.  Those two can appreciate their connection to me while we're at it.  I'm glad to be connected to them, too.

The question of who will be the first man in the new apartment (not counting the contractors) has been settled as well.  As it happens, Buzz Kill will be the first man to cross the threshold.  Not that he's staying.  He'll be here with Velvet later this afternoon to take a couple of pieces of furniture to his own apartment.  Now that Vagina Dentata is comfortably installed in the old folks home on West End and 74th, Buzz Kill can call that apartment his own.  He's been doing some restoration work himself, but I haven't been paying much attention to Buzz Kill's restoration.  He may be hooking up a window alarm while he's here.  I needed Velvet to bring me one of those window alarm kits to go on the window in the kitchen that leads to the fire escape.  I'm not having a big, ugly gate across the window.  Sadly, window alarms are not available at the hardware stores in Buzz Kill's neighborhood, so he ordered one for me online and, as I said, will hopefully be hooking it up today while he's here.

Hopefully, he'll be gone by 4:20 since that's when I declared the New Age begins at Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters in Harlem.   All that outdated, patriarchal bullshit can go straight down the drain.  As with the bathtub drain in my own house, some residual bathwater may linger a while - but when you consider that we've been hearing about the dawning of the New Age since the original cast album of  Hair was on the Billboard charts, a decade or two of residue makes sense.   And besides, that metaphorical puddle near the drain reminds us not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I'm looking forward to Velvet's first night in our new home. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Rose Trees in New York City - Thing of Beauty #064-101

There are boxes everywhere, and finding the coffee pot has become a treasure hunt.  Until it turns up, there's plenty of tea and a charming little coffee shop around the corner that happens to be on my way to the bus stop.  They have free samples of muffins and scones in the mornings.  The kitchen isn't finished, so the coffee pot wouldn't have any place to sit anyway. 

The owner of the contracting company is personally involved in the restoration project these days as a result of the polite but persistent ruckus I raised over the situation with the bathroom floor tile. Turned out that during the time things started falling through the cracks, Andy the job manager had been having surgery on his shoulder very much like the one I had this time last year.  It's no wonder he didn't know what the hell was going on that week.  A lot of foolishness went on, for sure, but at least Andy wasn't bullshitting me about anything.

The owner came over last Thursday, the day I was reunited with my things, to look at the bathtub which had sustained some damage from all the busted up hunks of mortar the tile installer decided to collect there when he was prepping the room for the new tile.  The owner wants to refinish the tub, but I think I'm going to stick with my original plan of simply getting a extra long tub mat.  The bathtub had seen better days before the guys dumped the mortar in there, and I decided I'd rather look at  some ancient crackles in the porcelain than a refinished tub.  I don't like the mat finish.   I haven't taken a bath yet, though, because the plumber didn't hook up the hot water to the tap in the bath tub. That's an item for the punch list -- come back and turn on the hot water.  The plumber was a Rastafarian from Brooklyn, so I'm betting he was high and forgot.  He did a good job with the stopper, however, and that was the main point.

Overall, the place is outstanding, and when the owner came over to look at the tub, he brought a sample of granite for me to approve.  The countertop has taken some time because I really wanted Bahia - a black, white and grey stone with veins of lapis swirling through it. It's way too pricey for me, but because the whole counter is only 48" x 25", a remnant would have been perfect.  Three stone sources were searching, but nobody could find a Bahia remnant.  Something called Butterfly Blue is on the way, but who knows when it will get here.  Meanwhile, I've improvised a counter top from cutting boards.

I don't know where that leaves me and Velvet for Christmas dinner.  We have discussed inviting Cupcake's family over.   I'm good with that idea since the kitchen condition means we can get take-out from Dinosaur Barbecue:  Ribs with collards and mac and cheese.  I can make a salad and find a passable strawberry-ruhbarb pie somewhere.  The main thing is the company, not my cooking or the dishes - although I confess, I know the exact location of the china and silver.  In any case, I've never been particularly into Christmas, as much as I like presents.  I'm much more excited by the galactic alignment coming on Solstice this Friday night.

It's the perfect night to do a ritual using the incense Gwendolyn Holden Barry blended up specially for my own personal housewarming.  I turned the dining table into a vortex:

Here's the light.  The love beads a hippie made for Granny the Ho when she first moved to Laguna Beach back in 1966 are hanging around the center.   Tinkerbell will stay, but the jingle bells and Santa Moon will go back with the rest of the Christmas once that holiday is over.   I may keep the cross up there to protect me from the Christians in the building.  You never know about Christians.

I'll definitely leave this center piece for a while, though.  I love these amethyst bookends and they must be attracting the energy of the cosmos straight into this room. 

It's important to energize this area because I think I'm finally ready to start writing The Menopausal Stoners Guide to Parenting.   The dining room is also my office and library, so the computer is in a corner.

That's a self-portrait Velvet made when he was about six over on the left.  Somebody will hang it up later, once I get a new poster frame at Michael's or somewhere.  That's an empty bag of mango licorice and a dish of dried roses on the left, too.  Velvet gave me the roses at Thanksgiving, so they're special right now.  I eat that licorice all the time. That's why the bag is empty.  There's more in the cupboard, though.  Blueberry-Pomegranite licorice and a few chocolate bars, too.  And some gluten free ginger snaps.  For the record, I don't eat dried roses although I will float them in concoctions sometimes.  Maybe one day soon, I'll float them in the bath tub.

I like this little corner.  I especially like looking out the window right next to the desk.  When I glance to the right, this is the view:

I reckon Velvet can fix the screen so it's not adding an extra horizontal line to the view when he comes over tonight.  He's in the middle of finals right now and wants to continue doing well in school - ergo: he's not moving in until the weekend.  That's just as well.  It's just as well The Man is staying in San Antonio for the holiday, too.  I love him through and through, but I think I like him best when he lives in Texas and we have drinks every year or so.  He's never going to be a bit Bohemian, and I'm committed to a Bohemian lifestyle.  I'm not exactly sure what that means, but let's say it means living at the intersection of Real Life and Fairy Tale, where art and activism combine.  The Man doesn't like to stray more than a few blocks from luxury hotels with consigners and hookers.

I'm so completely content to settle in peaceful solitude that I'm bordering on blissful.  Work is kind of a drag right now because everybody wants to talk about what's wrong with America on account of the shooting in Connecticut and that's a very big topic people should have been discussing for decades.  My friend Al Osorio from is involved in seeking justice for a man who the police murdered in his own front yard.  The cop nearly shot his wife while she ran to his side, except the cop apparently ran out of bullets.  Al is in this video at 4:05 talking about the shooting.

Nobody knows about Al's cousin Ernest Manuel Duenez, Jr. He's a brown man in a poor neighborhood and they get shot all the time. Lots of little kids get shot all the time in poor neighborhoods. It's too bad crazy white guys with automatic weapons have to shoot up elementary schools and movie theaters before people start talking about our society. And it's too bad that we ourselves blast little Pakistani kids to bits with drones all the time. I guess it's different when the president authorizes killing little kids so there's no need for candle light vigils around the country. I don't mean to be dismissive or obnoxious about the latest mass killing in America - I just think there were already plenty of reasons for an outpouring of grief and a demand for change. And once something else comes on the TV, most of the mourners will go back to shopping at Wal-Mart. The families in Connecticut will be forgotten as we move into the next news cycle.

Here at Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters in Harlem, I remain focused on making my own little corner of the world as peaceful and loving as possible in the hope - actually with full confidence - that by embracing Love (which comes from the universe just like Obi-Wan and Yoda say) and expanding and sharing that love, the world will be a little better.  It's especially better when you connect with others who are sharing and expanding the love, too.

I have to pause a moment to appreciate my dear friend Diane, who nurtured and supported me for the last few months while the guys were working on the apartment, and Gigi my almost-daughter who gave me a quiet, peaceful place to rest my head over the summer.  Naturally, the whole thing reminds me of a song:


Sir Elton says Rose trees never grow in New York City. I beg to differ. I think the one I've grown is pretty great. And that's Thing of Beauty #64-101, with special thanks to Jennifer Morrison (realia) who challenged everyone to Explore Beauty over a year ago.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Restoration Project Continues

The movers will be bringing my stuff to the new apartment on Thursday.  Whether the bathroom will be finished enough by then so that I can sleep there Thursday remains uncertain - but I don't care.  Thursday is the day.  I figure that since Wednesday is the end of the world as we know it (although that really might be at solstice later next week), Thursday can be the first day of the rest of my life.

I gently, quietly but forcefully blew my stack at the contracting company so that the owner is meeting me over there later this week to address my concerns:  Specifically who will be paying to refinish my bathtub now that his workers used it to store the old mortar they removed from the walls before they put in the tile and then doused it with toxic chemicals while they were stripping the doors to the old kitchen cabinets.  Somehow, I don't think I need to pay for that.  I don't think I need to pay to replace the sheets of marble floor tile on which the very same cabinet doors were resting when the fellow doused them with toxic chemicals.  Apparently, this sort of shit happens all the time.  Mother says that all I have to do is deduct the cost from the final bill and tell the owner if he wants the money he can sue me.

I'm thinking the owner is well aware of that tactic which is why he called me up to say that everyone's main goal is to make me happy.  I love it when people say, "All I want is for you to be happy, Patricia."

Meanwhile, the place looks outstanding.

Here's my closet.  The pink paper on the door knob is a note pointing out the paint on the crystal door knob.  Richie did a nice job on the moldings and the walls, though.  I'm hoping he won't mind doing a little more work in the bedroom.

Here's Velvet's closet:

The doors wouldn't shut because the drawers from the base cabinets were inside on the shelves while the floors were being refinished.  The floors show up pretty well in this shot of Velvet's radiator:

They had to repair the floor around the radiator because it had apparently been leaking for years and fucking up the floor.  It's all good now, and Richie didn't splash any paint on the steam pipe.  He did a good job fixing the wall to the right, too.  It was damaged by water from the shower since the grout in the shower had fallen out years ago.  The room was a mess - especially with all that popcorn shit on the ceiling - but it's lovely now and Velvet is excited.

The floors look pretty good here too:

I'm hoping Richie has to come back to clean the paint from these doors.  Then I'll see him this afternoon or tomorrow when I'm monitoring the progress.  He painted over the hardware on the left side which is why I left a note.  Somebody's got to clean that up, too.  Here's a before shot of the same area:

You can see where I was testing colors on the wall.  Turns out that I didn't use any of those colors.  I got a ridiculous white chandelier to go in the dining room.

The tulips are ultra goofy, but I figure that since I'll be hanging all manner of stuff from that chandelier, they're perfect hooks.  I'm looking at that light kind of like the Christmas tree in Eloise at Christmastime:

Eloise hung bananas and cookie cutters and tooth brushes and pretty much anything she took into her head on her Christmas tree, and that's exactly what I'm going to do with that light - starting with the love beads a hippie made for Granny the Ho back when she first moved to Laguna Beach in the Sixties.  Over time, I'll add pink quartz crystals and amethyst crystals that I can get at the bead store off Columbus Avenue down by Buzz Kill's house.

Last time I was over there, the kitchen was in a state of disarray with the stove sitting on top of the refrigerator so they could fix the floor in there too.

You can't tell from the picture, but there's tile on the kitchen floor - the old hexagon mosaic.  It's where the stove sits when it's not on top of the refrigerator.  The refrigerator has been sitting on a platform for years and years.  The reason was a mystery until we discovered this pipe under the platform the other day:

Mother and I figure this pipe drained away the water from the melting ice in the old ice box back in 1916.  Somebody should have cut it down and capped it off under the floor, though, especially since the board behind it is totally gone and a whole parade of mice could march right through it.  Something must be done, and I'm sure it's going to cost me.  A standard size bottom freezer refrigerator will fit in the space perfectly when it's done.  I'm not sure if I'll get stainless or white. For now, the old one will remain.

I couldn't get in the bathroom to see about the tub the other day because the guys had stuffed the base cabinets and all their equipment in there:

Looks to me like they didn't protect the tub surface when they put all that shit in there either - but at least this time I have photos to show the owner when we talk about refinishing the tub and my bill.  I'd rather have that discussion with him on Thursday evening once my Great Granddaddy's 1912 Remington shotgun is back in my possession.  That little shotgun has been busted for years, but the contractor doesn't know that.  I'll just prop it up in a conspicuous corner.

In other news, I haven't heard from The Man from San Antone since I invited him for Christmas.  I may not hear from him for another year.  He's the very best Unavailable Man ever, so as long as he's out there ignoring me, I don't have to ever get involved with another Unavailable Man again.  More to the point, though, is that I recently concluded that The Restoration Project has a lot to do with restoring my original spirit - the one I was born with - to this Self I have become.  It's like PENolan is who lived inside of me all along but as I was growing up, I morphed into a Nice Girl, then a Troubled Child, then there was Mrs. Buzz Kill - and all the personas I adopted out of Self defense.  It's good that PENolan is a pseudonym because I mouth off a lot and it's generally better when people at work don't know what you really think about anything at all.  Work is Work - and it may not be a good idea for people to think a free wheeling divorcee with socialist and anarchist leanings is in charge of their two year olds.  I have a feeling that most of them would think it was great - until they heard me call Obama a Corporate Cocksucker.  So it's good to wear different hats for different occasions.

I was thinking about The Man while I was running errands the other day and noticed that my old punk self - the one I was when he and I first met in Austin, Texas in 1979 - is the very same woman walking up Broadway.  I may have on a black cashmere sweater when I stroll into any restaurant in town, but it's got a hole in it because I threw it in the washer.  It looks like PENolan and Tricia Ellen are finally integrated into one authentic self - just in time to move into Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters in Harlem.

Thing of Beauty #063-101 (Explore Beauty, a challenge from realia)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Crushing on Richie

I have developed a crush on Richie, the handsome, well spoken, meticulous fellow who is in charge of plaster, moldings and painting at my new apartment.  I haven't made a full-on pass a Richie yet because it seems like inappropriate behavior even if it's not actually sexual harassment to hit on the painter.  More importantly, though, I seem to recall that Kathleen Turner made a spectacle of herself by making a pass at the plumber.  In the version of this vicious gossip that I heard, Kathleen had on a peignoir and was carrying a bottle of scotch.  The story was circulating when she was in some Tennessee Williams play on Broadway. Most likely Streetcar.  Anyway, she was developing a reputation as a bovine lush at the time - and I really, really would hate to be compared to a bovine lush.  Kathleen Turner was in another play a couple of years later where she was naked on stage.  By that time, nobody called her bovine anymore.  They just said she was brave to appear naked on stage at her age which sort of pisses me off.  She's not that much older than me, and she and I have a similar body type.  She and I also have a similar way of winding up at the bar at Cafe Luxembourg as soon as they start serving liquor on Sundays.  She just leaves on her sunglasses.

Richie seems to like me, though, so when he said he wanted to see pictures of the apartment once I had gotten settled, I invited him over for black eyed peas on New Years Day.  Today I have to get over to the apartment to make sure he's got my contact information.  At least, giving him my number is on today's agenda.  It's more important at the moment for me to regularly monitor the  progress since Andy the Contractor had a fantasy that he'd be done with the job this week.  That was before we discovered that the reason somebody put the refrigerator on a three inch platform was NOT because the floor boards took up precious inches near the floor so that the refrigerator would only fit properly into the space if it were raised above the molding.

The reason the refrigerator was on a platform is because there's a damn 3-inch pipe sticking up out of the floor underneath it.   My mother and I think this pipe was the drain for the melting ice in the icebox back when the building was constructed in 1916.  Sometime after electric refrigerators were invented, the landlord must have cut and capped off the drain pipe.  I think I've seen pictures of old refrigerators that had legs - so even though a capped off pipe sticking out of the floor was unsightly, you could still slide the unit into the space without an issue.

Clearly, that damn pipe became an issue later, and the landlord solved the problem by building a platform.  Once the building went coop in the early 1980's, the pipe became the shareholder's problem.  By that time, Hope would have already lived in the apartment with the refrigerator on a platform for over fifty years, so when she got a new refrigerator about 20 years ago, she continued to use the platform solution.  Why not?  She had gotten along fine for years, and it's not like anyone upgraded anything in the apartment since the coop brought the building up to code in 1982.  She did have a security system and burglar bars installed, but I can see why a little old lady would have been scared in that neighborhood years ago.  Grown men with weapons were scared in that neighborhood back then.

I do wish someone would have mentioned the pipe in the floor when they busted up the platform over a week ago.  Richie was on vacation at the time, and a new guy came in to do some sanding and any other miscellaneous jobs that fell to the low man on the totem pole.  I don't like him much because he's always grunting, belching and farting while he ignores me with a slight air of hostility.  There are two other guys - a big one who did all the major sanding of plaster.  At the moment, he's taken the doors off the built in china cupboard and put them in the bathtub in order to scrape off the lead paint.  He sings while he works and is very friendly, although he doesn't have much to say for himself.  I suspect he's the one who wrote "GOD IS BOSS" in pencil on the bathroom door when they first started working. 

There's also this little guy who has been laboring for a couple of weeks on the tile in the bathroom.  He's putting together the cabinets, and when I told him I was shopping for back splash tiles he told me to get squares.  Apparently, he's had enough of rectangles since they're a pain in the ass to line up around corners, windowsills etc.  He uses the big saw in the sink to cut the tiles.

He did an excellent job in the bathroom, and he seems to be doing okay with the cabinets.  There will be a shelf for open storage running under the cabinets, and his head is in the spot where I'm putting the microwave.  I think I'm getting a small GE Profile, even though my nose is still out of joint over GE dishwasher that spontaneously combusted and led to my eventual divorce.  Maybe that was for the best, all things considered. Either way, though, GE is an arms manufacturer, but Mother says Whirlpool and the rest are just as bad when it comes to weapons, nuclear reactors, oil rigs and shit like that.  In any case, I don't believe this little fellow is the one who discovered the pipe under the refrigerator and didn't tell anyone.  I think it was The Farter.

I think the Farter dismantled the platform, left the wood on the floor and shoved the refrigerator partially back into the space without telling anyone anything about the dang pipe.  Andy the Contractor certainly didn't know anything about the pipe when I sent him a text about it yesterday after Richie moved the refrigerator out of the way so I could look behind it.

The reason it was so tricky to determine why the refrigerator was on a platform to begin with is because the fridge lives between the wall and the old dumb waiter.  Too bad the building wouldn't let me turn that dumb waiter into a pantry, but they reserve access to that space since the electrical wires for the whole line are in there.

Here's one of the shelves over the refrigerator which shows how tight and specific the space is:

It seems to me that Andy the Contractor is very good at lots of things, but he's been so focused on the bathroom that he forgot all about the kitchen.  The electrician has come into the apartment twice to upgrade the electricity and that ancient fuse box is still on the wall to the left of the fridge, as well as the annoying plug which clearly should have been located somewhere less conspicuous.  Removing the fuse box, which I think is called a GFI, is definitely on the original scope of work and in the estimate.  Moving the plug is sort of my fault because the scope of work said to move outlets per my direction and I never went in and drew a picture on the wall with a red sharpie.

Actually, I have never drawn on the walls with sharpie at all.  I left post-it notes.  But I still forgot about that plug - and so did Andy.  I just thought that since I was clearly limited in this area, I was paying the contractor to think ahead.  Live and Learn.

Mother says that cutting a hole in the floor so that the pipe can be cut down and capped off and covered under the floor - and then securing the floor is no big deal.  She said my dad could cut that pipe in thirty minutes and there was no reason to pay a plumber $85/hour to cut a pipe that hasn't been used in fifty years. Mother doesn't live in New York City.  I'm thinking this little surprise is going to cost me five hundred bucks - but I may still be able to get my stuff out of storage on 12/12/12.

Meanwhile, Richie has cheerfully been adding the Feng Shui drops from Daughters of Isis to the paint.  He was jazzed to hear all about The Blender, Gwendolyn Holden Barry who studied mythology with Joseph Campbell and everything. 

When I showed him the little bottles, we had to stand together in the sunlight by the window and hold them at arm's length to read the labels together, so I know Richie and I are in the same demographic.  Today I want to know where he grew up and how he knows about Feng Shui but hadn't learned about black eyed peas on New Years Day until two years ago.  A while back, Velvet and I ran into Richie at the apartment and were talking about how nice he is as we left the building.  When I wondered if Richie was married, Velvet said, "Mom! He's not even 30 years old."  I told Velvet he was at least 35, and now that I know he can't see jack shit without reading glasses, I'm betting he's nearly as old as I am.