Homeless Prophecy

As we talked about before, every day I walk from Penn Station to my office in Times Square. About a block into this walk I pass a nice gentleman who is raising money for homeless causes. He shouts loud and clear over the din of the morning rush, asking people to give what they can because, after all, “YOU ARE ALL JUST ONE PAYCHECK AWAY FROM BEING HOMELESS”.

This scares me. I guess because it’s sort of true. But not really. Or is it?

This past year has been a financial obstacle course for me. First I was moving to New York with a great job and a great paycheck. Then I was unexpectedly unemployed and freelancing. Then I made some money and paid down some debt. Then I lost my job and was unemployed for two whole days before taking another job that is a bit less lucrative (but SOOO worth it). How do you keep financial consistency with this madness?

The only way all this was possible without going homeless was because of my sweetheart. He puts the roof over our head, his job makes rent and utilities (even cable!) non-existing entities. And I realize how much I have to be thankful for. As much as I bitch and moan about not being closer to the city, and that we don’t have more space for ourselves (you know, with the parents and all), this crazy year would have been much more crazy and stressful if I was throwing $1400 a month on rent down the toilet.

But there are strings to this comfort. If we wanted to move, for example closer to the city, we don’t just break our lease, pack our bags and move on in to a shiny new place. It is a complicated process of him finding a new job, and then finding temporary housing for three months before being allowed to move into the new place that offers the same benefits of rent and utility. Plus we have to consider the parents. And there is the scary notion that, if bad luck should befall us (knock wood), we will lose the arrangement completely and possibly then, yes, be just one paycheck from being homeless. Ok, not one, but a couple for sure.

Let’s not think about that.

On that bright note, happy long weekend to everyone!

Sleepy Revolution

I like a good mattress as much as the next person. And maybe it’s because our matress is rather sucky that I noticed this strange phenomenon lately. It’s really, dare I say, epidemic.

Within a 2-mile radius from my apartment I have counted EIGHT Sleepy’s mattress stores. I can’t think of any other chain that has 8 outlets in this same area. Not, Not McDonalds, and not even Starbucks, if you can believe that. It begs the question: what is going on here?

Are people just not sleeping? Probably, yes. I know I am not. But I would also venture to guess that mattresses have a high profit margin as well. I mean, two of the eight Sleepys by my house have “Grand Opening” on them, and they are less than half a mile from each other. How can they both be profitable? I know all about the economic theory that a rising tide lifts all boats and all, but this seems to be somewhat out of control. Are expensive mattresses just a big scam?

What is all this hoo-ha about temperpedic (sp?), sleep number and isotonic-foam? Do you really sleep better if you drop a grand on a bed?

Man, I have SO MANY questions about this.

hrvatski!

No, no need to say “gesundheit” in response! I am starting Croatian (Hrvatski) lessons after work tonight. I have signed on for 10 weekly lessons at LanguaWorld here in the city. I have tried and tried to get into learning the language via tapes and CDs (even uploading to my ipod to facilitate), but I realized I need the discipline of a teacher to kick my butt into gear. Plus, reciting Dobar dan, govorim malo hrvatski (good day, I speak a little Croatian) over and over again on the train probably would not be very pleasant for my fellow train companions.

I am a little worried about the school.

I had to pay in cash up front, after a lot of confusion regarding whether or not I am entitled to a 20% discount (apparently I am not.) Then today I get an email that said my teacher was in a car accident this afternoon… did I read about it? (no) And that class is cancelled. But then I got an email and a call saying, We have a subsitute, can you still come? (yes).

Well, I am going to be positive and envision an engaging teacher, bright fellow peers, and me speaking passable Croatian after 10 weeks are up. Sretno! (good luck!)

I am not making this up.

My fascination regarding the strange things people buy as travel accessories has been well documented. But THIS came across my desk today, courtesy of our friends at Daily Candy, and now I say you have GONE TOO FAR.

I first thought snug and cozy thoughts when I read about the in-flight sleeping bag, but then was horrified when I saw the promotion pictures. See for yourself:


Is it just me, or do these look like body bags (especially the second one)? I just know the next time I am on a long haul, there is going to be some jackass seated next to me zipped head to toe in this inflight sleeping bag looking like extra luggage that wouldn’t fit in the hold. I mean, come on, let’s think about this logically.

WHERE and HOW would you zip yourself into this thing?

You get on the plane, everyone is jockeying for prime overhead space and trying to get themselves situated (and if you are like me, that means organizing the 5 magazines, ipod, book, water bottle, hand lotion, crossword puzzle and journal in the envelope sized seat pocket so you don’t have to reach into the overhead after takeoff. I am all about the activity bag). Do you go to the bathroom, zip in and then hop to your seat in your overgrown potato sack? I suppose that would be ideal. But my guess is that it’s more likely that you will attempt to zip in at your seat, twisting and turning and reaching and inadvertently punching your seat neighbor in the chest with your elbow while trying to get your arms in the tiny suited arm holes. Yeah, that sounds about right.

And of course, what do you do when you have to go to the bathroom? Man, I am not even going to go there. You get the idea.

So, as if this were bad enough, there was ANOTHER ridiculous item in my daily candy today. This just can’t be true. Is it? Or is it an elaborate hoax?

Flatulence Odor Control Seat Cushion

Yes, the opposite of a whoopi-cushion. You get it? You sit on this cushion and when you fart, it absorbs the smell. It’s called, I swear I am not making this up, GasBGon. I guess there were so many others who had the same thought I did upon reading about this, namely, “Whaaaat?”, that the GasBGon website appears to have crashed. But never fear, our trusty friends at Amazon have it in stock; check it out here. I am trying to ignore the fact that Amazon appears to be selling used versions of the cushion– since the only thing worse than a fart cushion in my book is a used fart cushion. You dig?

Fart Cushion. Seriously? Listen, I am as opposed to fart odor as the next person, but this just seems to go beyond the level of normalcy.

I know, I am telling you that I just know, that it won’t be long before I am on some flight going somewhere where the person next to me is attempting to zip himself and his fart cushion into a cotton body bag. Mark my words.

Steph

There is nothing I can appreciate more than a leap of faith. That is just what my good friend Steph has done– and in quite extreme measure.

After meeting a very nice boy on a Greek cruise ship last year, she quit her job, left her apartment of nearly 10 years, said so long to close friends and family and moved to Sydney, Australia to be with her love. Yes, the same Sydney that is half-way around the world. Man, I thought my own move from Boston to New York was a big move.

Steph holds a very dear place in my heart. She’s a ray of sunshine…on crack. She carries more energy, more “can do” and more purses than any one else I know. We first became friends back in college and have managed to keep the embers of our friendship burning even though it is only in the last year that we have lived close to one another.

It was Steph that I was visiting when I met Damir here in Long Island. In fact, it is because of Steph that I even met him in the first place. I never would have had the courage to talk to him and his cousin, but my girl Steph is not one to be labled “shy”. She struck up the first conversation, and I have carried it on ever since.

Though she has only been gone a short while, her absence is palpable. Even living around the corner we didn’t see each other as much as we probably should, but I liked just knowing she was there. It was comforting to know a good friend, and one that knows me to the core, was just a few blocks away. Long Island still feels like foreign territory to me, and I am ashamed to admit that I have made not one new friend outside of work that lives in the area. It’s easy to get lazy like that.

I hope she is there now in Sydney basking in the glow of the Australian winter sun and the excitement of a new home, country, and boyfriend. At least I now have a good excuse to start planning a journey to the South Pacific! Here are a few photos from our nearly 15 year long friendship (click on it to see larger):


Love Me, Ortiz Me

This weekend Damir and I went South to check out the Red Sox play the Orioles and hang out with my parents for a bit. Traffic was insane both coming and going so it feels more like we spent the weekend on the New Jersey Turnpike rather than in Maryland with the folks.

Lucky for us though, Sunday was a beautiful day to catch a baseball game. Warm and sunny, and after the first hour or so of the game the sun went behind the awning of the stadium so we watched the game in the comfort of shade. Camden Yards is a beautiful baseball stadium which doesn’t appear to have a bad seat in the house. The only bummer there is that they don’t have enough vendors coming through the seats with drinks and food– just expensive light beer. Where are my Fenway Franks??

The game itself was a true heartbreaker. The Sox lost the lead they carried most of the game in the 8th inning, and then lost the game in the 10th on a walk-off home run by Kevin Millar (who I still love since his Red Sox days). It’s a bad loss, combined with the Yankee’s sweep in Cleveland, puts the Sox too close to comfort– only a 4 game lead in the AL East.

The 6+ hour drive home last night was a long long drive after that loss, especially sitting next to my pinstripe wearing boyfriend.

And another goodbye

All week I have been trying to write this post, and keep hitting the delete button about halfway through my thoughts. I can’t get it right, and so now I will stop trying to get it right and just write.

I learned on Monday from my friend Penny that a friend we had in college was tragically killed last weekend in a boating accident on the Chesapeake Bay. Mike and some friends were out on a boat late Saturday night and hit a marker; three ended up in the water and Mike didn’t make it out. I don’t know more details than those.

Mike and I weren’t extremely close in college, but we hung out in the same social circle. Because our social connection, my memories of Mike all take place at a party or bar, and thus are full of laughter. It has been years since we were in touch, but regardless the news has been weighing me down. Mike was engaged to be married, and my heart goes out to his fiancee.

I have to admit fearing what she, Mike’s fiancee, is going through– when Damir is late to meet me, or we are distanced for a period of time, my brain often defaults to the worst case scenario. Why do I do that to myself? Usually I am fearing a car accident, not that he is careless at the wheel, but having spent some time now driving the NY highways, I see those other crazy drivers careening down the road… not to mention the countless roadside memorials that now line the shoulders of every road I drive on. But he always comes bounding through the door full of kisses and hugs and each time I realize how silly I am to worry in such a senseless manner. What’s the point?

I don’t have a suitable closing for this post, how do you “wrap up” news such as this? I leave you with the link to Mike’s obituary in the Baltimore Sun: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/obituaries/bal-md.ob.schott07aug07,0,4743019.story

May You Frolic in Cat Grass Forever

Dear Marley,

Sweet Kitty, you will be missed.

I am glad I came across that ad on that expat message board when we lived in Amsterdam and that Ashbloem had space in her home and heart for you. I know you brought her much joy and laughter over the last several years, and guided her through the changes in love and life that have since transpired. Her Virgil in orange fur.

No doubt you were thankful to be free of those kids in your previous home, and owners who took less than loving care of you. The first of Ashbloem’s brood of kitties, you were the cantankerous yet sweet older brother of Gus and Tugboat. You became the world traveling kitty, passport and all, having lived in Holland, Switzerland, Boston and finally Dallas. You got to see more of the world than most cats, or even people for that matter.

I am sorry that I was not there to say goodbye, but I know that you are up above noshing on some sweet cat grass with a side of tuna.

Farewell, sweet kitty.