Randomocity

I don’t like it when people ride down the escalator. I prefer they walk. If they want to just ride, then they should stand to the side. Thanks. You don’t have to walk the way up hill, I can understand that.

I don’t understand the hype about the TV Show The Hills. I have no idea what its about or why everyone talks about it. And honestly, I can’t say I am really bothered by that.

Businessmen seem to think they own the place. And by “the place” I mean they think they own all of the following things:
– the arm rest between his seat and mine
– the empty seat next to him on the train on which to rest his Tumi laptop-case even though the train is SRO.
– the prime corner in my office elevator in front of the little computer screen that broadcasts the news, weather, and interesting tidbits of information
– the coffee line in the deli downstairs
– just about everywhere else in New York City.

I am excited for an all-girls weekend in Boston this weekend for Ashbloem.

How is the name “Jack” a nickname for the name “John”? That makes no sense.

Apartment Therapy

When I walk by a home furnishing store, such as a Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, or your no-named mom and pop store I literally start to salivate. I want to go in and buy everything.Picture frames, flatware, furniture, wall decor, draperies, candles, fine china, throw pillows, table runners, candelabras, mirrors, bath towels and all things bathing related, area rugs, serving platters, pots, pans… you get the idea.

I want these things. But I don’t buy them because I don’t have a place to put them.

Before I say more, let me say this: I adore living with my sweetheart. We get along so well at home and manage to share our chores equally with little friction. I adore waking up with him every day. This isn’t about him.

What I am not loving is living in a space that isn’t mine to really manage. From the plates in the cupboard, to the sofas in the living room… pretty much everything belongs to my sweetheart and his parents and I feel that, since I moved into their space, it would be rude to supplant them with my own things, my own taste. Although, a few things of mine have crept into the apartment slowly: a paining in the dining room; a few kitchen accouterments. And now of course our bedroom has more or less been completely made over since I moved in, that is the one area of our home that I feel I can liberally change. Damir encourages me to treat this home as if it is my own home, but I just can’t get over some sense that I am a guest here. And guests don’t typically redecorate the home of their host.

Much of my stuff hauled here from Boston remains boxed in the basement. When I see those boxes I seriously ache.

The plan, when I decided to drop everything and move to NY, was not to move in and live together. But circumstances as they were made that the only viable option. So now that I am settled and in a relatively secure job situation, why not move?

2 Reasons:

1) As I said earlier here, I love living with Damir, however his job binds him to our building. He is on call 24-hrs a day so he really can’t go far. I don’t really want to live apart from him, and he is kind of stuck unless he quits and finds something new which creates a whole domino effect of problems (the most pressing of which is: where would his parents go?). I am very afraid that if I leave living with Damir, I am ultimately I am pushing our union further and further away from our future goals.

2) Free rent, dude. In the NYC Metro area.

Over the past 1.5 years since I moved here I have flirted with moving out, but the “right” situation never really presented itself. I have even seen a bunch of apartments. And of course, I struggle with the above 2 issues so nothing has really felt right.

Then, 2 Saturdays ago a really really good solution came to light: one of only 3 studios in our building opened up, just down the hall from the current place. Damir was showing it to me, not to rent it, but to show me some renovation work he had done. We were standing in that space and I looked at him and said:

Wait a minute… Why aren’t I renting this place?

Hello….Light bulb! We called the broker immediately who said the place was mine if I wanted it.

It is perfect… the space is relatively large for a studio, with a big walk in closet, full bath and nice new kitchen. The price tag didn’t give me hives. It is right now the hall, so I’d have my own space yet still be close enough to make it easy for me to be with Damir. Sharing the car and our other stuff would be a cinch. It would be our own little romantic pied-a-terra (ha, get it?). I took Sunday to make sure I was sure about the year-long commitment to take on a lease and started planning how I would create a home in this particular space. I had it all mapped out. I spent about an hour in the apartment just feeling it out. I took a bunch of pictures to post here on Interravision with the announcement that I had started writing in my head… I’m Moving! Just down the hall! I scoured Apartment Therapy for ideas on how to decorate a small space and was inspired by this beautiful, if small, space I saw on their Smallest, Coolest Apartment Contest:


Monday morning Damir called the Broker to lock it in.
But it was already gone.

It had been taken by Some Guy. The other broker let it go, not knowing I had the option to take it.

When I got the news I was instantly crushed and thrown into despair. How could something so perfect, so in tune with my needs, just go to someone else? It just seemed like the gods had looked down on me and had said, “You have struggled with this situation long enough, here is the perfect solution for you”… and then said, “Psyyyyych!“There’s no way that Some Guy deserves it more than me! It isn’t just about the apartment, you know that right? It’s about finding a sanctuary that won’t simultaneously take the relationship that I am so thankful for 15 steps backwards. That’s not an easy order.

But as we all know, things just don’t work out sometimes just because we deserve it. But, call me crazy, I am not really accepting that it isn’t mine until Some Guy has actually moved in on April first. At night I visualize myself opening that door with my key (Walker is on the name plate over the buzzer)… walking into the closet with all my clothes hanging (neater than it would be in reality for sure)…. cooking something delicious in the kitchen on the new stove while Damir enjoys himself on the pretty couch in the space I have mapped out to be the living area. My bed is in the corner, behind an asian-style screen with a cherry blossom design on it. Turquoise and chocolate with some creamy pink or yellow accents are the color scheme throughout the place. Sunlight is streaming in through the big window. It feels like a home. It is home.

*Sigh. I wonder if the power of my thoughts is really moving fate towards a miracle or just causing me torture. Friends keep telling me, “surely there is a reason it didn’t work out, you’ll see.” Maybe. Maybe not.

In Michigan


My Mom’s family, The Arados, used to congregate annually in the little town of St. Joseph, Michigan for a week each summer. It was a big family reunion where all my aunts, uncles and cousins would gather for adventures at my Great Grandfather’s old farm on lake Michigan. I don’t know when he got the house, but it had been a gathering place for the Arado clan for a long time. Our Adventures in the 70s and 80s included activities such as playing golf-cart hide and seek, scaling the treacherous bluff to get to the beach, and avoiding getting yelled at by my Uncle John. We did this every year until around 1990 (the summer I was in Italy) when the farm was tragically sold off by some relative I have never met to a real estate developer. The farm has now been divided up a broken into individual lots, however the farmhouse still stands. My mom covets it still and I don’t put it past her, or my aunts and uncle, to figure out a way to buy it back, even though the land around the old farmhouse is lost to new homes.

I got this email from my Aunt Jan today:

To: Family
Subject: Remember Michigan?

Hello Family!
Recently, your parents–the Arado siblings–had an e-mail discussion about our memories of Michigan. I mentioned this to Todd, who immediately asked why he wasn’t included in these e-mails. (After all, he pointed out, he gets plenty of forwards that are far less interesting.) So let’s open up this discussion to everyone… So here’s the deal–share with us your fondest (and no-so-fondest) memories of Michigan…

She wrote more, but I didn’t need to read further before starting to jot down a few memories. So, for all non Arado blodded folks, this is the most boring blog entry of all time. Well, lets face it, it might be boring for some of the Arado kin as well. I am not as gifted a writer as some of my cousins.

For me, Michigan (that’s what we called it, it was never “the farm” “Grampa’s House” or “St. Joe”, we all always just called it simply, “Michigan”) is synonymous with summer vacations, childhood and laughter. Man we laughed A LOT there.

La Gram in the Old Days at Michigan

First, I have such strong memories of that old house itself. She had her own creaky personality. The house wasn’t all that big, all the kids were split mostly into two rooms: the Boys Room (site of Adam’s legendary biting episodes) and the Girls Room. Also upstairs was the kids bathroom with the huge clawfood tub, My aunt Ginny & Uncle Barry’s Room (where I used to help put Jess to sleep) and Uncle John’s room which was OFF LIMITS. Why do I remember reading the book Little Black Sambo in that dimly lit hallway? From the Girls room at night you could hear the trains pass by, I remember the exact pitch of the train’s whistle. In the daytime we used to bet what color the caboose would be.

Gram and Todd

Downstairs my Mom and Gram shared a room, which smelled distinctly of Gram’s “White Shoulders” perfume; I don’t remember my dad being there before my parents were divorced, though surely he was. My Aunt Jan and Uncle Paul had a room across the hallway which, if memory serves, had a staircase to the basement. Todd and Tim generally slept down there (in Aunt Jan’s room, not the basement), they didn’t sleep in the rowdy Boys room, maybe out of fear of being bitten by Adam. The basement itself was scary. I only remember being down there once to tie-dye a shirt back in my crafty days.

The living room was rather small, and we weren’t inside all that much out of fear of being yelled at to GO OUTSIDE ITS A BEAUTIFUL DAY. When we were inside, i.e. when it was raining, we watched the Family Feud, Days of Our Lives and baseball on the big TV encased in fake wood. Or, we played games. Lots of games: solitaire, yahtzee, trivial pursuit, gin rummy, Sorry!, Monopoly… the list goes on and on. Gram would tell us not to pick grapes off the bunch one by one, but to take the entire stem. The adults had cocktails.

Some of the best times at Michigan were at mealtimes:


Eatin’ Corn on the Porch

The kids at at one table on the porch and the grownups at in the dining room area with the huge picture window (with the terrible curtains) facing the driveway. We always had the freshest of fresh produce on the table, and Gram’s salad every night. To this day, Gram’s salads are the best I ever had; I’ll have to see if she remembers her secret ingredients. There would always be Lamb night served with mint jelly, and to this day the smell of lamb reminds me of Michigan (oh, it also reminds me of the time I got food poisoning on the French Riviera, but that’s another story). Frank would cook in the kitchen and always had a smile for you. He had his own rooms on a separate cottage on the property, but not in the main house. Famous lines from dinners still resonate, such as Todd’s, “I stuck my hands in the butter” which we all thought was hilarious.

Frank was THE MAN

The golfcart gets its own special mention. I am sure it was meant to be purely functional, but the kids made it recreational. At a certain age (11? 12?) you pased a test and were allowed to drive the golf cart. We could fit 8 or 9 of us in it, if we packed it in and sat on laps. Before being allowed to drive, we would beg the nearest adult to take us on a golfcart ride PLEASE! The ride would typically go up the paved path that lead to the bluff, around and through several of the bumpy grapevines, including of course THE WIDE VINE, by the scary chicken coop, passed the white barn (scene of my boxing match with Adam), around the birch trees “look out for that pOllllllllle!”, across the shuffle board court, and by the spot where my sister Erin clocked cousin Matt over the eye with a golf club resulting in the only emergency room visit I can remember there.

I’d Kill for that hair today

Personally, I remember feeling very awkward at Michigan, particularly as I got older…13, 14, 15. I was smack dab in the middle of the age range of the cousins, too young to hang with Erin, Jeff, Matt, Liz and Trish and too old for Todd, Tim, Jess, and Peter (Maggie wasn’t born yet). Adam was closest to me in age, but we were hot and cold to each other, alternately buddies and enemies. I am sure the older kids found me annoying, but I wanted them to like and approve of me desperately.

Exhibit A: Terra’s Awkward Stage Begins at Michigan

We rarely left the farm during those stays. I remember once, in one of the later years, going to a dance at one of the towns nearby, the one song I remember from that is Billy Idol’s remake of “Mony Mony”. I think Erin almost picked up a hitchhiker that night, or maybe she just threatened to. The adults would sometimes take the kids out to a movie. Oh, and there was some deer park not too far where I bought Jess a monchichi. The summer that ET was popular my Uncles John and Barry took all the kids to see the movie but I was so darn excited to see ET that I threw up while waiting in line. Uncle John had to take me back to the house, but made me keep my head out the window for the whole ride in case I puked again. I think he had a new car. Adam and Uncle Barry didn’t go see ET, they saw Stripes instead.

Height of 80s Fashion

My Aunt Jan asked about our recollections of visitors, of which I don’t remember too many, other than the Bruns’ from Indiana who seemed scary. I think it must have been hard for the non-Arado blooded people to fit in to the group–even the spouses of my Aunts and Uncle. We must be an intimidating bunch.

Look how Intimidating

The lake was eating the land, and every summer the bluff would be more and more ragged and more land would be gone off the edge. Nearby houses were falling down the cliff, having no land left to support them. We had campfires on the beach in early years, but towards the end the beach was very eroded and it was hard to get down from the bluff. I was scared that the lake would eventually get to our house, even though it was quite a ways from the edge.

There is so much more I could write… about Tina and the caretaker, bottle rockets and sparklers, the swing set, one scary night by the chicken coop, the card shuffler, Tab Soda, bikes from the 50s, antlers, reading Helter Skelter, and playing softball in the yard… it goes on and more things keep popping into my head the longer I sit and think and write.

I miss that house. I miss those summers. I miss the chance to see all my aunts and uncles and cousins all at once, all together. Now we just have weddings which bring some together, but never everyone together. You could say, “Well, it’s too hard to get everyone together. We live far away. Everyone has their own stuff going on”. Yes, well, that’s true. But it was true back then too. My mom was recently divorced, probably close to broke and still she loaded her kids in her small Datsun hatchback to drive from DC to Michigan one summer. She wasn’t going to miss it, or maybe wouldn’t have been allowed to. The main difference between now and then was the house, the farm, that meeting point, which we had to bring us together.

It’s a damn shame we lost it.

I don’t think this parting shot was taken at Michigan, but Dino was SO Michgan it felt wrong to exclude him.

Restoration

A hobby I have picked up along the way is trying to restore old photos. It’s not an easy hobby, since its not like I really know what I am doing. But regardless, I enjoy the process of trying to make something old look a little new.

Sabrija, Damir’s stepmom, came across some old Passport photos today. Well, not THAT old, maybe about 15 years or so. But they were bent and somewhat damaged, so I scanned them in to see what I could do. These aren’t finished, but it’s a start…

Here is the original:

You can see there are a lot of cracks and scratches. Here below is my cleaned up version:

Damir’s dad’s photo is pretty good, except for a scratch right on the middle of the eyeball that looks like a cataract from afar:

So I figured out how to cut and past his clean eyeball into the socket of the old one:

I didn’t save the original photo of Damir, but here is the touched up version. He’s about 9 years old in this picture:

Its not an easy photo to retouch since the entire thing is very speckled and slightly blurry. The clean up version looks more like a painting than a photo. But he’s still damn cute anyway.