5-25-03, 5:45 PM -
Any day that begins with a handful of bacon and ends with a kettle of salt water up your nose can't be all bad. Such has been my routine lately, following routines while waiting for shoes to drop.
The largest and most resonant shoe is that of mastering, which is about ready to set sail. After much deliberation, I have decided upon Arthur Winer at Canaveral Skies in Brooklyn. Nice guy, good service, and he used to work for Sony, so I could do worse. (the disc is out now, have a look - ed.)
Unfortunately, I seem to have broken a heart in the process. Earl, the other engineer I was interviewing, has for some reason taken his rejection very hard. It's really freaking me out. I mean, I thought we had a business relationship going, and now I'm getting "I can change" emails and pitiful voicemails like I just told him "it's not you, it's me" or something. Who knew 40-year-old jazz guitarists could be so fragile?
Feeling pretty rough this morning, after having spent the night debauching with the Wifely and Paul on the West Side yesterday. Went over my limit a bit, and had a touch of the seasickness on the subway ride home, but no chunks were blown.
Saw a band of Paul's friends who fit rather neatly into the big "jam band" movement making its way around the country these days. Those that I've heard seem to possess a central problem: Lots of talent, no songs.
Last night's offering was a case in point. You couldn't ask for a tighter rhythm section, and the soloists knew their pockets of usefulness, a rare find among guitarists in particular. But it's a bit like watching Smallville: Nothing ever happens. No payoff. All belly-dancing, no after-party. All groin-grabbin', no deployment. All gravy, no chicken. Bugs me.
Anyway, our outing was in part a celebration of a possible triumph. We're 90% sure that we've got a new apartment. We were the earlybirds for this place in Washington Heights, just north of Harlem on the storied island of Manhattan, and it's REALLY nice. New kitchen, new bathroom, space galore, and a cool shopping neighborhood a block away.
Only trouble is the commute. It's about 30-40 minutes to Wifely's work in Midtown, which is no closer than our present Brooklyn abode. But something about being on The Island makes the place seem less remote. But there is no force more dangerous than that of the counted chicken, so I'll put any further speculation into Al Gore's lockbox for now.
This apartment-searching stuff is a kick in the head, to be sure. I have found little to no agreement among brokers and owners as to what constitutes a proper $1,000-per-month apartment.
Brooklyn's particularly wacky. Go to Greenpoint and you get a linoleum box with its own stairway-wino. Go to Bushwick and you get one block of population surrounded by eight blocks of desolate warehouses. Go to Fort Greene and you get a one-room squat in a VERY nice building with your own GARDEN, if you please. But it's still a one-room squat.
Manhattan's not any more consistent. We found ourselves exploring East Harlem a few times, on the strength of one really nice apartment we spotted there just a little too late to nab it. Seems it was the only one, though. Everything else either seems to be over an old McDonald's or to contain a suspicious overabundance of disinfectant-stench.
We made an exploratory excursion into New Jersey last weekend. I kept seeing what appear to be good deals on craigslist.com, and wanted to make sure we weren't dismissing it simply because it doesn't sound as cool to tell the folks back home about.
Now, Hoboken is nice. It's actually got quite a bit of character, most of it Irish. A well-kept bar on every corner, and a damned nice park/pier looking out on Manhattan. But it's nice enough that the prices don't seem likely to venture into po' folks territory.
Jersey City, however, is well within the price range of the young and differently-incomed. It's also kind of a shithole. At least the parts within walking distance of the trains are. To be fair, there are quite a few good restaurants, but you get the impression that everyone with a car has vacated to the decent housing further out. What's left are poor art students/waiters and people who stand on corners all day.
It's a very New York thing, standing on corners all day. The city's full of all-day corner-standers, and I'm still a bit baffled by them. They aren't homeless. They're generally clean, and they don't appear to be crazy. They just stand on the corner all day. Sometimes they wave at people they know, who then stand on the corner with them for a few minutes, but then they're left alone once again to just stand on the corner. I don't get it.
I mean, they must work somewhere. Maybe they work at night, and since everyone's at work during the day, they have nothing to do but stand on the corner.
Or maybe my honky ass just doesn't know how to spot a drug dealer.
But in the end, what we discovered in the course of our apartment-looking was that economy or space-for-price logic has very little to do with our desires at present. We just want to live in Manhattan. We've done the Brooklyn thing, which has its charms, but I think we just want to experience New York the old-fashioned way. Even if it's at the verrrry top end of the island, we'll still be able to use "New York, NY" for our return address.
So let's hope this thing comes through. Oops. Back in the lockbox you go.
I mentioned nasal irrigation earlier, and it occurs to me that I should explain. A few weeks ago, it became rather evident that sinusitus had come to matthewtown. My stupid Jelly Temps health plan takes a while to send reimbursements for doctor's appointments, so I figured I'd try some of that voodoo-shaman alternative-medicine stuff.
Allow me to introduce the Neti Pot. You basically take a plastic tea kettle, fill it with a saline solution, pour it in one nostril and it comes out the other. The idea is that it cleans out all the snotty, gunky bacteria stuff that keeps you sick. Worked for the first week, but I got a little sniffly yesterday, so we shall see. I ain't given up on the hippies yet.
Still at Bigass Bank, but I'm not sure for how much longer. The psychic destabilization energy I seem to carry into every work situation has manifested itself again, despite an active attempt on my part to follow the Prime Directive.
See, when I started this gig, I was told it was 9 to 5. Fine, whatever. So every day at 5:00, I bagged up my marbles and made for the elevator. Didn't say a thing, just made a break for it. I did notice, however, that I was the only employee doing so. Most were there when I arrived, and remained at their desks when I left. No one said anything, so I figured that was their prerogative. And I sure as hell wasn't going to say anything, lest the issue be resolved definitively, probably not in my favor.
But as weeks passed, a funny thing started happening. People at first started joking about how they needed to leave at 5:00 like ol' matthew. I merely replied that that was a pretty good idea. Then I began finding myself joined by co-workers in the elevator at 5:00. Just a couple at first, but gradually the crowd grew. Temps were the early converts, eventually contaminating the permanents, graduating at last to the managers.
Two Fridays ago, the dam finally broke. At 5:00, the entirety of Team 3 stuffed itself into two tiny elevators, leaving the babushkas and Yeshivites alone in Mortgage Land. They fled as phones rang behind them and Eastern European cries of frustration pierced the air. They exhaled as the elevator doors slid shut, and the Emperor's Force Grip released their windpipes at last.
A familiar lump rose in my stomach. Damn. I've started another revolution.
Sure enough, Monday's email brought a screed from Hagatha the Fidgety Workaholic Manageress, excoriating the slothful home-goers and giving praise to those who think nothing of working well past dinnertime so the Company can continue its grand tradition of customer service understaffing and creating the world's largest population of latchkey kids.
It was further stated that one-on-one meetings would be held with the offending deserters to ascertain whether they really wanted this job or what.
But to my surprise, these oppressed masses didn't back down. Nasty 'Reply-All' emails soon sliced forth, demanding that the team be addressed as a group or not at all. These were answered by the familiar "no one is indispensable" refrain, which in turn was deflected by a "go ahead and try it" shot off the bow.
Now I'm kinda skeered. As of last Friday, the combatants are still simmering in their own gravy, which means they'll either forget the whole thing or have a Company Meeting. Pete help me if I have to sit through that.
I think what I'm really afraid of is that I'll get fingered as the head vampire. Goddammit, I sit in my fucking chair and say nothing to anyone all day long, and the motherfuckers go and pin my poster to their daily calendars, dreaming of the day when, like matthew, they can rise through the muck and become a low-wage, carefree freedom fighter. Jesus Fucking Christ on a mother-ass-grabbing popsicle stick.
I'm starting to get the suspicion that the stories we've been told of revolution and its heroes may in fact be a bunch of hokum. It seems that all it takes is putting someone who just honestly doesn't give a shit in the middle of a group of people who don't really WANT to give a shit, and presto, you've got your revolution. Take that, Gandhi.
In other news...
Finally saw Matrix Reloaded last week. I think it's safe to say that the Star Wars universe has officially been dethroned at this point. If I were a 10-year-old kid, my brain would be catatonic in its inability to comprehend all the ways in which I wanted to be Neo. I mean, Luke Skywalker can only throw stuff with his mind and slash villains with a glowing sword. Neo can freakin' FLY, for Pete's sake. He can out-Kung Fu anyone in his priest/monk/nun outfit, not to mention jump inside a smarmy computer program's virtual body and blow it up from the inside. Christ almighty, I wanna be Neo NOW.
Unless I could be Magneto. Saw X2 as well, which is a damned fine movie.
You know, I really need some horn-rimmed glasses taped in the middle. I could wear them under my Dungeon Master robes, which would conceal my Boba Fett armor. Geez.
Last week I had to re-work my Six Day War book, on account of my tendency for expansive sentences and bigass words. I somehow knew that would happen, despite my conscious effort to keep everything kid-friendly. The problem is that my idea of a 5th grade reading level is Sherlock Holmes, which I read in mass quantities as a sproutling. And it's very difficult to find small, simple words for "diplomatically", "peacekeeping", or "international law". I ain't Fox News here. Ba-boom-CHING!!
All right, that's enough from me. Gotta salinate my nose. Have fun, and see that you don't start any workplace regime changes. That's my job, and I'm apparently not giving it up anytime soon.