I was in a conversation with my friend Jeff, at a housewarming, last weekend. He was talking about painting his porch. But not just painting, because he can’t do just that. There’s the scraping, and prepping, and…
And I knew exactly where he was going with the idea. As if the million other projects I’ve done on my house in the last two years didn’t already illustrate quite clearly just how much of a perfectionist I can be… I decided to put a shelf in my bathroom. It’s a small bathroom, with nothing much in the way of storage, for extra items like spare toilet rolls or hand towels. So a small shelf, over the door and completely out of the way.
But a shelf is not just a shelf. A shelf starts as research. Home Depot wants how much for a slab of MDF with some screws? No no no… I bet Amazon has the same thing for half the price… er… wait. No. Damnit. And nothing I even like the look of, anyway.
It’s a shelf. How hard could it be just to build it? A small slab of wood on some brackets, right? But… I don’t just want a generic slab. I’d prefer to round off the edges, but I’ve never had any luck finding a router to borrow. But I can pick up wood trim from home depot when I pick up the board. Just make sure they’re the same width, of course. Dig out the saw, and trim the board. Not a great trim, so dig out the sander and clean it up. Pull out the miter box, and trim the wood trim, to fit. Glue on the trim, and tape it down until it dries.
Next morning, dig out the spray-on primer, because the brush-on is too likely to clog up the carving on the trim. 3 passes at that, to get all the surfaces. Bring it inside, and apply 2 coats of paint that matches the bathroom walls, to every side, (again, being careful of the trim).
I could just nail it in to the top of the door jamb. After all, I only want it to hold 1 pound at the most. But that would look weird. And I’m very much going for unobtrusive. But if I lift it up a bit, then… there’s no room under it for brackets. Soooooo… brackets from the top. Oops… no screws short enough to not go through the whole shelf. And I need to make sure I have drywall anchors if I’m going to be screwing into the walls.
Okay… so let me get out the level, and pre-drill the holes…
Okay… this was about putting up a tiny shelf to hold toilet paper, right?
I rehung (rehanged?) door #4, today.
It was one of those doors that took a bit of encouragement to latch shut. Besides the heavy layers of paint, it wasn’t quite meeting the striker plate properly. (A generic replacement plate.) So I sanded that a bit and repositioned the plate. Now the door latches without effort.
As far as refinishing the doors goes, this one is special. When I sit at my desk working, everyday, I stare down the length of the house, into the master bedroom. And during sunset, that room tends to fill up with a golden light. I’ve been looking forward to having the real wood door hanging there, framing that.
(Photo is obviously “before”).
One of the issues I run into when refinishing the doors comes after the first complete sanding. I’ve generally got it down to bare wood now. But these doors are approaching 80 years old. So they have a bunch of dents and divots and gouges, which have over the years been filled in with paint and putty and such.
I had been going back and spot applying some more stripper. It lets me remove all those little bits just fine. But I risk the stripper soaking into the wood and not allowing the stain to work properly. So I can get improperly colored spots.
On the latest door (#4), I found that I could manually scrap out most of those spots, just using the sharp end of a painter’s tool. I only had one serious, intricate gouge, that’s going to require chemical stripping.
Most valuable, simple things I’ve learned:
Almost every utility faucet, (as opposed to the ‘pretty’ faucets in baths and kitchens), has a nut right underneath the handle/shutoff. If (when) the faucet starts to drip or leak, first try tightening that nut. So far, it has solved the problem every time.
Plant bulbs. They typically have large, dramatic flowers, so the neighbors are impressed. But they’re ridiculously easy to take care of. Plant them at the right time, pointing in the right direction. Make sure the soil isn’t complete crap. And barring a drought… you’ll have an awesome garden.
Similarly… Pansies are awesome. I planted them in the fall just so I wouldn’t have a big empty garden bed until spring. Not only did they survive winter, but they’re growing like crazy now that spring is here. A flower for all seasons.
Youtube is invaluable. Every single thing you can imagine wanting to do to, in, or around your house… at least 20 people have done, recorded, and uploaded to youtube, with running commentary on how best they think to do it. And a lot of these people are professionals, sharing videos as a means of promoting themselves. Just be sure to watch several videos on each topic, to see which advice is consistently considered ‘good’.
Trust no one who comes to your door to sell you something. No one.
Most commonly used tools? A painter’s tool. A utility knife. A hand drill/driver. A small hand-garden-trowel. And a big-ass wrench. There’s plenty of other tools that have come in handy. But I keep going back to these.
Live near Home Depot.
The most time consuming and detailed part of refinishing the doors in my house involves stripping the paint from the door moulding, (as opposed to Door Trim Moulding). Large, flat areas can be scraped and sanded. But the molding has alternating concave and convex curves, requiring detailed hand work.
On the first door, I cleaned the large, flat areas before turning to chemically strip the moulding. After I finished, I wiped down the moulding with mineral spirits, to remove any excess stripper. But when it came time to apply the stain, it was obvious that the stripper had soaked into the wood, and wasn’t completely removed. It caused obvious differences in the stain.
Since then, I’ve switched to stripping the moulding first. The remaining paint on the flat surfaces prevents too much stripper soaking in, and the sanding of those surfaces removes anything else. This produced a very consistent, smooth stain.
I start with an overall initial pass with a cheaper stripper. It removes most of 3 layers of paint.
I then tape off the molding, with painter’s tape. This prevents the chemical stripper from spreading too far and soaking into the wood. On the top, I keep the tape back just a millimeter or so, to account for the thickness of the paint. On the lower interior, I inset the tape about a centimeter or so. This lets the stripper remove a little more along the interior edges, where even with a detail sander, I can’t remove right up to the exact edge.
I then paint a thick layer of stripper into the taped-off moulding:
I cover it with wax paper — which doesn’t react with the stripper, but does keep the stripper from drying too fast, allowing it to work longer. The stripper at this stage is SmartStrip. I let it work for as long as possible, which is about 22 hours.
At this point, I use a multi-purpose painter’s tool to scrape away as much as possible. I’ve looked into more specialized scrapers, but the only thing they’d really work on is the concave portion, which is the easiest to clean the painter’s tool. This can remove most of the paint, but not quite all. Some places it is just too thick, and in the interior, sharp edges, it often doesn’t get the last bit.
I apply a second, lighter layer of the stripper, using the same process. One day later, I scrape the moulding down again. This has managed to remove all the paint from the moulding.
It raises the grain, and can leave the wood rough in some places. But when I get to sanding, I also sand the moulding using steel wool, which leaves a smooth but still sharp shape.
(If the stripper can take it all the way down to the wood, why don’t I use it on the entire door, and forget the sanding? It’s expensive, and I can afford a little time to save a little money.)
There’s a story behind the purchase of my house, that I thought should be known. It’s not a good story. So I will be completely factual wherever possible, and label any guesses or speculation. I believe that will still convey the necessary information. So… be prepared for some overly specific and elaborate language. I just want to share my experiences.
The story involves the sales team, on the house. By team, I mean the former owner, and the seller’s agent, and lawyer.
I’d like to quickly describe one of those people and my opinions of them, to basically rule them out of the discussion. And will do so again later with a second person. The seller — the former owner — to the best of my knowledge from the records, sales documents, and various googling sessions, was a retired lady who lives in Pennsylvania. At some point in the previous 10 years, she had purchased this house with her now-deceased husband and sister (or maybe sister-in-law). I don’t know for sure why it was purchased. But it seemed evident that she was now retiring, and her family members had passed, and she just wanted to get rid of the house. So I have a hard time believing she was in any way malevolent in her intentions.
She had a seller’s agent — a woman named Mary E. Lowry Smith; last known to be working with Coldwell Banker. As near as I can tell, she repeatedly took every opportunity to do the work related to this sale in the cheapest, easiest manner possible, and I will describe the incidents I am referring to below. It’s understandable, and even desirable, that an agent would try to save their client money. But in these cases, it often seemed to cause more problems than it was worth.
I don’t know of any specific rules stating what a Seller’s Agent *must* do for their clients, aside from some rules regarding ethical practices. But if I was hiring a seller’s agent, right at the top of my list of desired services would be “assisting me in ensuring the house is ready to be sold”. And the house did have the standard generic coat of paint over everything, and they responded in one way or another to all of our repair requests. And we even made it to within approximately 2 or 3 days of closing, last Fall. This is when the title agent I was using discovered that the title wasn’t clear.
(If you don’t know, a clear title would mean that the house is legally allowable to be sold, specifically by the person trying to sell it. No leans, full ownership, etc.)
So… when the dust settles, it turns out that the title wasn’t clear because the paperwork for inheriting the full house from her family members was never properly filed in DC. This is the first time I asked “Why didn’t the seller’s agent catch this BEFORE we started going to closing?!”. It may not be their legal responsibility, I don’t know. But as I said, it’s certainly something I hope any agent I hired would check on. “Dear client… do you have the right to sell this house you’re having me list?”. Given that the proper paperwork *was* filed in the seller’s home state, I give the seller the benefit of the doubt that they thought they had already done the right thing. But I would expect my agent to check very thoroughly.
We spent a little while bouncing messages back and forth, with various people trying to find out how to solve the problem. It soon became evident that the seller would need a lawyer to deal with the paperwork mess that is DC government. So… did they go and hire a lawyer specializing in estate issues? (This was an inheritance problem). I don’t think so. I don’t know the lawyer personally, but some googling on his name and offices and such shows that he had an office phone number in common with the seller’s agent — Mary Lowry Smith. I suppose they could be both renting executive offices from the same building. But it seems more likely that instead of seeking a specialist in estate law, the agent worked with a lawyer at her firm/brokerage, who presumably specializes in real estate law.
My agent — who has been doing this for a couple decades — was of the opinion that a local estate lawyer could probably have cleared up the issues in anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. How long did the sellers take to clear up the issue? Until early May… about 7 months.
I mentioned earlier wanting to quickly clear a second person. I don’t actually have any hard feelings against the seller’s lawyer. If my guess about him working outside his specialty is correct, then I’m sure he did his best. Working outside your usual realm can’t be easy. And certainly not when you’re dealing with DC government bureaucracy.
7 months. That was a ridiculously long time. It caused huge amounts of issues in my personal and professional life. And from what I was told, about half the time when we inquired about the status of the work, we were told that the seller’s agent was sure everything was being done, and she didn’t want to pester the lawyer.
I really needed to move. My current living situation was awkward at best. And when it became obvious this was the long stretch, we decided to take the seller up on an earlier offer of pre-residency, where you essentially rent the property until you finish the sale. And this is when the offer was no longer available. They were worried about what I might do to the property, and how that could affect them if I didn’t finish the purchase. Me, who had been waiting for months and months to buy this place. And a property that had been sitting obviously vacant in a questionable neighborhood for over a year.
7 months. And once that was over, I had to redo things on my end, because the mortgage company wanted to rerun things with more up-to-date numbers. But… we finally made it to closing, literally the weekend I was to be forced to leave my place of residence. We elected to sign the papers at different times. In the best of circumstances, it seems like agents try to keep sellers and buyers apart, and for good reasons. And this certainly wasn’t the best of circumstances. So, I went in, and signed my papers first, thanked everybody, and went home to start moving my things.
At which point, I got a call from my agent, who was very unhappy. Right from the start, we had been discussing with the seller that they would pay closing costs. We even had them sign a document to that effect. But at the closing table, the seller’s agent — Mary Lowry Smith — said that they had never agreed to this. When we showed them the document, they said they didn’t understand what it was when they signed it. Here, I only see two options: 1 – She was telling the truth, in which case she had a client sign documents without actually understanding them, which seems like really bad professional practice. Or 2 – She was lying to get out of her client paying those fees.
I don’t think her denial would have ever stood up in court. But I was literally on the brink of homelessness. I had just spent 9 months trying to buy this house. If I were to dispute it, it would mean more delays… weeks or more likely months. And legal bills. And no house in the mean time.
My agent who has more patience than is good for him, worked out a deal to split the costs of closing among several parties. It got paid. They signed the papers. I owned the house, 9 months later.
I don’t think anyone broke the law, nor any rules. But I dealt with a seller’s agent — Mary Lowry Smith — who didn’t confirm that their house was legally sellable. An agent who I doubt hired a specialist to solve a complex legal issue that came up. An agent who didn’t seem concerned enough to pressure the work forward. An agent who couldn’t get me residence. An agent who did things that were at least questionable, that cost me thousands of dollars extra at closing.
That is apparently what the seller got, and we dealt with, when they hired Mary Lowry Smith.
As I said, I tried to keep it factual. And where I was speculating or making educated guesses, I clearly said so. And aside from saying she was probably trying to save her client money, I didn’t speculate on her reasons for her actions. And if she ever wishes to discuss it with me, and even correct me if it turns out I am wrong or mistaken somewhere in here, I’d be happy to.
Best ‘mistake’ purchase I think I’ve made for this house is a large pair of channel lock pliers. I mean… very large. Heeee-uge.
I needed something to get the 4″ nut off the bottom of the toilet tank. There are not many things that can get a grip on a 4″ nut. I basically ended up with the largest set of pliers that Home Depot had to offer. And it kind of pissed me off, because I couldn’t foresee actually needing them again, and they were a bit expensive.
In fact, I was tempted to return them after I was done with that first job. The packaging hadn’t even been disturbed. But I kept holding onto them, and holding onto them, and …
And then, when I needed a strong grip where I could exert a lot of force on a rusted rod, out came the pliers. And when a friend couldn’t remove their oil cap on their car, out came the pliers. And then…
I posted the following two bits on Facebook a couple weeks ago; but I wanted to share them here as well, for long term archiving:
So yes. As of yesterday evening, the sale of the house is officially complete. I am now a poor homeowner.
Commentary on the whole thing will come. But for now, I want to thank two people, without whom it never would have happened: Heidi and Jason.
Heidi contributed to changing almost everything in my life in the last few years. And without her support in numerous ways, I never could have gotten to the end of this process.
Jason went above and beyond the call of duty as a realtor/broker. I can’t imagine a better problem-solver or more enthusiastic conspirator. Even if you’re only thinking about buying a place, you should start talking to him now. I’ve watched him help so many of my friends through every step of the process.
Still haven’t written up the dirty laundry behind the home sale. But, since I already thanked a couple people, I wanted to extend that out a bit. Plenty of people helped me out over the course of the thing. The people who helped me move stuff in and out of storage. People who loaned me tools and such. People who listened to the good and the bad. People who took me out and made me forget my stress. People who offered to beat up the offending parties. Not gonna try and list names, because I would no doubt forget someone. But you all were awesome.
The plumber just showed me a section of the pipe she pulled out—the junction where it went out to the front yard faucet. It was packed completely solid with rust. No wonder it wasn’t working.
Yes we survived the earthquake. And the hurricane. I’m not so sure about the locusts on the horizon, though.
This street is apparently notorious for the power going out if someone so much as sneezes. This is a big change for me over living further downtown, where all the powerlines are buried. So with the approaching hurricane, we felt a little… doomed.
Knowing something would probably eventually happen, I suggested we go to bed, and try and get some rest while we could. Less than two hours later, at about midnight, the lights when out and the UPS started beeping. We threw on our clothes and went downstairs quickly.
You see, we have a sump pump in the basement, powered by electricity of course. And we have a drain on our back basement steps that empties into the sump pit. Not a good combination in a hurricane. The drain constantly fills the pit, and the lack of electricity means the water doesn’t get pumped back outside.
So we started bailing out water. First into the kitchen sink upstairs. Then after a few different tries, Heidi fashioned a makeshift funnel — out of a Windex bottle — that allowed us to reliably pour the water into an old washing machine drain.
Ten hours. For ten hours, we took shifts, bailing water out of the sump pit, before it couple flooded our basement. Around 10 oclock in the morning, after one false start, the power came back to life. Lights hummed. Hot water started percolating. And the pump was quickly reconnected and began work almost immediately. Even 2 days later, it’s still pumping water out of the basement pit every few minutes.
We’ll be getting a battery backup, and bilge pump, before the next big storm.
Made a nuisance of myself the other evening while Heidi fixed a very good dinner. Click for the photo set.
I stood in the doorway earlier this week and watched someone drive their Mini Cooper down the street with a full-sized couch strapped to the top. Almost hard to tell who was carrying who.
I was waiting for the delivery of my new bed. It’s such a hopelessly adult thing, waiting excitedly for a new bed. The bed is now here, delivered less than 24 hours after I ordered it. The mattress should arrive sometime next week.
I was quite happy with my old bed/couch. I’d been sleeping on it for 10 years, with no complaints. So everyone who wants to pick on it — which was everyone — can kiss my ass. But it has gotten had to ignore the realities of the occasional need to potentially share sleeping arrangements with other people. Most of the women who have stayed on the old futon had no public complaints, but…
There does seem to finally be something tangible going on in my life right now, (besides the obvious ‘trying to get hawt chicks into bed’). Let’s see where this goes.
You know I get no end of joy out of watching the prostitutes as I walk home late at night. Flamboyant doesn’t even begin to describe them. Is ‘miamiviceish’ a word?
But last night as I walked back from the metro around 3:00, a big, black SUV pulled up near me, and the two attractive women inside asked me if I was doing okay. To think I look like a male hooker is probably the least likely thing you can imagine.
(The only other possibility I can come up with is that the sexual come-on was just a lure for some less enjoyable event. But we won’t think about that.)
A few minutes ago, the water running in the gutters jumped the curb and was flowing over the sidewalks. Damn glad I live on the 4th floor. Three major thunderstorms in the last 4 days . In an area where we previously were lucky to get 1 or 2 thunderstorms a year. And at least one major storm earlier in the week.
It’s giving my laptop battery a good run for it’s memory.
Yay… the neighborhood is going up in smoke! A minute ago I was listening to the rain outside, when there was a terrible electrical arcing sound, like something out of a Death Ray in a James Bond film. When I went to the window to look, a large cloud of smoke way rising up through the rain. Given the lack of bodies, (yes, I am paranoid enough to go down and check), I’m guessing the rain just seeped in and blew out a street lamp. Still… you know… smoke and electricity!
Sometime between the raindrops, I got out this weekend. Not much, because I still feel very lazy. But a few things. I checked out two new exhibits at the National Gallery, (Photographic Discoveries and the Renaissance of Venetian Painting). Also finally visited the National Museum of the American Indian. Really… aside from the atrium, not that impressive. Watched three movies, this weekend, (Transamerica, Mrs Henderson Presents, and Memento). All good, though not quite great.
I’m remarkably relaxed, going into this coming work week. I spent all of last week stressing out about work. I had a whole string of projects, while not behind, were taking a noticeable amount of time. And I really believe my clients should be care free. But I finished out last week well, catching up on all my major projects, and having picked up a couple new, small projects. I designed several pieces over the course of the week, which not only my clients liked, but I was impressed with as well, and I didn’t have to kill myself on any of them. (*knock wood*).
I was offered a job as an Orgasm Fairy, the other day. Apparently, I am #5 on a google search for the term “Orgasm Fairy”.
So I got that going for me.
Then again, every time I check my stats, someone has found this site by searching for the term “fucking little girls”.
But you know… I’ve still got the hookers for neighbors. Call girls, I guess, since they seem to operate primarily on an in-call basis. I’ve gotten in the habit of looking at the guest sign-in whenever I stop at the front desk, just to see how many visitors they’ve had. Um… so to speak.
But yeah… they apparently tried to lure the Cleaning Lady into working for them. I find it a little funny. She’s not ugly… but I don’t know if I would pay for sex with her. She probably doesn’t have the temperament, anyway. Just being asked was so traumatic that she immediately ran to the assistant manager to report it. It’s the worst kept secret in the building, that they’re working up there. But if they start making life difficult for other people, they may find themselves out on the street. This time, in daylight.
Besides the fact that hookers do laundry all the time, apparently it’s common to order everything C.O.D. Besides being amazed that anyone even offers C.O.D. shipping anymore, I find it interesting. I guess this isn’t a job were you want to leave a huge paper trail. Just the other week, a UPS guy came by with another such package. It was his third and final attempt at delivery. The one girl finally answered the door, stark naked, presumably expecting a customer. She quickly jumped behind the door, though certain body parts kept slipping out. Man… is that the start to every bad porno, or what?
Meant to get this updated look for the website up yesterday. I had the template basically done. But Pixel wanted to play, and I wound up going to Chiaroscuro with Kier again. Kelowna seemed to have a good night. Dancing and spinning. Taking all kinds of pictures, including one she ran over to show me, of all the dancers spinning around me. Finished off the night pretty well, too, from the looks of it.
I didn’t see Kris there. Although, I did learn that her name was Kris. So that’s something. She was always the-girl-in-the-sports-bra. Until someone pointed out last week that she was also the girl I met at a home farewell party, who gave me a lift home, a couple months back. Weird… never saw the connection. Probably wouldn’t have known what to say in the truck home. ‘Cause… you know… I got those mad people skills.
But we did have more faux lesbians last night. And we all agreed that beats sitting home on the couch watching TV any night.
I ran into the prostitute in the laundry room today, talking on her phone. Someone mentioned that her and her roommate do laundry every day. That had never really occurred to me, but it makes sense. Especially this time of year, with the sweat and the juices, and the whatnot.
In addition to some johnny cash, marilyn manson, and patsy cline, I picked up Miranda Lambert‘s album yesterday, on the iTunes music store. (Gift certificates are our friends). My uncle had bought the CD–which is a pretty strong recommendation in its own right, as previously, the last album he’d bought was only available on vinyl and 8-track–and played it repeatedly while I was down there. She’s pretty good. Country, but not to the point of parody. She has a little bit of folk singer in her voice. And always a good sign: not all of her songs are about love. Looking over her website, it’s some pretty sickeningly blatant marketing by a record label. That journal sounds like it was written by an ad exec trying to sound like a 13 year old girl, not a 22 year old professional musician. But so long as the marketing doesn’t affect the music… we’re good.
Okay… political question: Do you ever wonder how a US President who lied multiple times to invade 3 countries resulting in over a hundred thousand deaths, can keep a straight face when acting outraged that the Iranian President may have been involved in taking hostages 25 years ago?
Food for argument.
I maybe shoulda gone out tonight. Kier tried to drag me out to Dollhouse, at the Black Cat. At the very least, I would have like a chance to see Kelowna, (smart, interesting, attractive). But after 2 seperate cover charges, the fact I almost never dance, and that it’s being held in the dungeon known as Backstage, I decided to stay home. I think God is on my side though. Ju7st as Kier stepped out of the subway, he got nailed by the biggest rainfall we’ve had in weeks. Told him that a storm which comes on so fast will dissipate just as fast. He didn’t believe me, and made a run for it. Within 5 minutes, it had pretty much stopped raining.
I was so very tempted to go buy an Airport Express today. So often when I’m working with my laptop on the couch, I want to listen to some music that I have on my machine, but I either don’t have it on disk or don’t feel like burning one. The Express would let me wirelessly stream the music to my stereo. Not to mention print wirelessly. But after spending 8 bucks at Radio Shack for a couple of AV splitters, I now have what I need to plug in my laptop from anywhere in the apartment. Compared to the $120 Express… not a bad compromise. Not to worried about the printing. If I’m printing, I’m gonna have to get off my ass soon anyway to mail, fax, or assemble something. Oh… the store? Crap. No less than 4 employees sitting around on top of the boxes talking, waiting 10 minutes before asking me if I needed assistance. (I couldn’t have cared one way or the other… but, you know… common courtesy…)
Today? Massive laundry day. Tomorrow? Massive kitty litter day. My life is so glamorous.
I can’t think of anything to write. I can’t think of anything to write. I can’t think of anything to write. I can’t think of anything to write. I can’t think of anything to write. I can’t think of anything to write. I can’t think of anything to write. I can’t think of anything to write. I can’t think of anything to write.
I think I mentioned before, I had a english comp professor in college who had us keep daily journals. And if you honestly couldn’t think of anything to write… you repeatedly wrote I can’t think of anything to write.
Right now… I feel the need to expel some mental miasma. Like a sneeze you can feel coming. You prepare yourself… stop… deep breath… tense your shoulders so as not to blow yourself over… wait… your nose is tingling… here it comes… almost there…
I feel like I need to write to get rid of something. Trouble is… I am kinda tired. This puts me in a very mellow mood. And I can’t write worth a shit when I’m mellow.
This whole day has been fucked up. All I’ve had are snacks all day, and no real meals. It’s now almost 11 PM, and I have no desire to eat dinner, which would be my first real meal of the day. Didn’t get much work done either. Lots of little prep shit for the coming deluge. But nothing measurable.
Well… I did get stuff back up on my walls, this evening. My apartment was recently gutted for renovations, and I’ve slowly been getting it back into a livable state. I have two small problems left. Well, two small piles that are problems. Stuff I don’t want. There’s a stack of comic books and a stack of picture frames. Both still in good condition. Not that they interest me in the least. The comics I’ve had some recommendations on… donate them to a library or hospital or such. i looked up the donations page at the Children’s Hospital, but as expected, they’re mostly concerned about money. And I can’t bring myself to call someone whose life is dedicated to helping to ease the suffering of children, and asking them if they want the comic books that are too boring even for me. *breath* The picture frames leave me in more of a quandary. Short of a garage sale, how do you get rid of picture frames that you don’t want? I won’t throw them away. I’d be satisfied giving them away… but how does one advertise picture frames of varying sizes, materials, shapes, and colors? I’m thinking maybe I should come up with an art project utilizing them, and give them to people as presents.
Wait.. I smell girls outside…
I think that’s what girls smell like. I don’t know. It seems like so long since I’ve left my apartment.
Is the sky still green out there?
I have too much crap. I could easily have told you that a week or so ago when I moved it all down the hall and back again, so my floors could be replaced. That little exercise in exercise didn’t even involve everything.
Procrastinator that I am, at about 11 PM last night, I started moving everything into the center of my apartment. Everything. This is in prelude to haveing the walls repainted. Somehow, when everything was in its previously ordained place, it could almost look sparse in here, at times. But try to pile it up in the center of one room, with at least a 4 foot walkway surrounding it, and you would be surprised how fast it fills up. I have maybe enough room left for a large bulldog. (Pixel has chosen to sleep on top of a perilously piled stack of laundry, which rests on a stack of comic books I’m trying to give away, which rests on some empty boxes, which rests on my couch. Did I mention the beautiful new floor the couch rests on?)
But yes… too much shit.Too many empty boxes for when I move or sell something. Too many clothes, because I feel guilty giving away a gift I never wore. Too many books and paper stacks, whose contents I could no longer describe. An absolutly obscene number of picture frames, some of which are big enough to hold Christo’s artwork.
It’s a life long habit of collecting crap so I have something of my own. And while it can be meaningful, sometimes crap is just crap.
I had a strong, if not entirely new feeling, when I came home from my most recent trip north. It involved what felt like the blindingly obvious need to eschew mental clutter and useless actions. Instead of obsessing about the appropriateness of inviting Autumn to dinner with Kier and myself, I just call and inform her of the opportunity. Instead of worrying about the fact I am going to call someone I don’t know and ask them for work, I make the call. I never cared about the outcome. It was just the fact I had to make the call that hung me up. Every second I worry over inviting Autumn to something is another second I could have been creating a real memory.
It’s not so much trying to order my life as trying to cut loose the necrotic memories and processes.
I really do love it on the roof.
Late in the day, when the sun has lost it’s ability to burn you, but not to blind you. Or maybe I just spend too much time inside, because it take me forever to adjust my eyes and stop squinting, even in the shade.
Maybe the sunlight doesn’t really make it to the street. I seldom need sunglasses, and have never squinted down there.
The sound certainly tries to make it up to the roof. My family who’ve never been here would recognize the sirens from the firehouse around the corner. But up there, they’re just sirens; without the physical force to knock you off your feet, that they have at street-level. Other than them, and an occasional Harley, nothing else makes itself heard on the roof. There is only a steady, low-level hum that is the city. A half million inmates. Another quarter million tourists on an average weekend. Three-hundred-thousand cars. Air-conditioning in every northwest home. Giant city buses dissecting the neighborhoods, disgorging people someplace they obviously didn’t come from.
Down here in my apartment, I can hear someone’s brakes scraping. I can discern the rhythm of an ancient muffler. Pixel’s collar is jingling about 5 feet behind me.
Up on the roof, I just realized, is they only place where there is a big sky. Every time I go to Texas, or I sit on the Seneca Lake shoreline in New York, I marvel at the big sky. I miss it, and haven’t seen it regularly since the summer of ’96. But up on the roof, all the building do their best imitation of a photograph of some European city. There’s an actual horizon, and not just a rise in the street.
I think if I sat up there too long, they would have to drag me back to my apartment, kicking and biting.
While I sat here looking for bloggers and journalists out of Geneva, Pixel tried out approximately 20 different sleeping positions in the sun. I recieved 7 pieces of Spam. I found out You’ve Got Mail has nothing to do with email.
I don’t believe it. In a one-horse town like Geneva, there must be more people journaling online. Not much else to do.
The money in this town is amazing. I passed houses today that had no right being anything but museums. And parks that you arne’t allowed to walk your dog in.
I wondered… who cleans off the tennis courts? Tennis courts are always surrounded by trees; probably to keep the balls from hitting nearby buildings. Even today, there were piles of leaves surrounding the courts. Does someone actually go out there with a leaf blower or a broom and clear away the organic refuse?
I don’t know where Pixel went. I think she’s investigating the groceries I haven’t put away yet.
I need a new job. We … well… the design jobs are dead again. Of course we have a few jobs. But they’re just the kind that sit around for months with no changes. So I’m idle. I cannot stand being idle. I can’t stand the crap work I’ll do for a couple weeks. I can’t stand the sudden splurge of jobs we’ll get. I can’t stand the unqualified designer we’ll hire. I can’t stand…
I need a new job.
Pixel’s been quiet for too long.
Two more songs for the soundtrack…
Divebomber by Pigface
American Hero by Scotland Yard
You know there are some pissed off Christian fanatics in Disneyland this week.
I got my hard drive the day before my trip. With the help of some beautiful shareware (1,2), I had cloned my entire 30 gig internal drive within an hour and a half. And the incremental backups since then have taken only about 5 minutes each.
There’s $110 I truly hope I’m wasting.
More and more, I think this city may not be the place for me any longer. I know by now I cannot travel anywhere without some sense of frustration or displacement upon my return.
I sat in the hotel one night in San Angelo flipping channels, and came across a speech from the Senate floor. Considering the hive mentality in DC, you can’t help but see that almost every night on the news here. But sitting there, with a little perspective and a lot of relaxation, it struck me hard just how … anachronistic… it all is. Some truly ancient man in a suit that surely hung in Grover Cleveland’s closet, giving a speech that no one with the least interest in reality could possibly care about, in a room that hasn’t been remodeled since god knows. The wooden creak of this mans movements and the soma induced expression on his face… you just know he had not had contact with reality in many decades.
And much of this town revolves around these men. No matter how hard I try, I just don’t care about them. And they quite obviously don’t care about me. I have no vote there anyway. I received a mailer from my only representative there, yesterday. It well communicated the message: “Unless you’re black, poor, on drugs, and interested in buying a house in the slums, get the fuck out”
I’m not going into the status of work, since that has been well covered before.
bah… I’ll finish this later…
My clothes are in a pile on the floor. Clean clothes. In a stretched out pile. Because I’m just that lazy. And they weren’t really dry when I go them from the dryer.
Ran out of here late this morning, and it was just that bad a day, so they’re still there.
But it makes Pixel happy. She loves to curl up in a pile of laundry, though she’s not particular about whether it’s clean or not.
And I just can’t shove her out of the way to fold the laundry.
Do you know how fucking unnerving those helicopters are?
They’ve been circling the District for two or three days now. These are the same ones that come out whenever there are protests, gatherings, events, or threats. So they’re only out there when they suspect something bad afoot.
Today they’re focusing on downtown very specifically. I am lucky enough to be right on one end of their flight path.
I really wish this was LA, but they don’t chase people down with helicopters here. And there’s no news choppers, because they’re simply not allowed to fly. The Secret Service is paranoid like that.
Pixel keeps looking up at the sky as if to ask what the fuck that is.
Lets keep in mind that it’s after dark. And this is Washington Fucking DC. So there are half a million people living in 64 square . And the cars… never… fucking… stop. I just rant this because I don’t believe that they’re using night vision or infrared. The only useful thing I can imagine them doing up there after dark is looking for highly concentrated radiation sources.
There’s something to lull your kids to sleep at night with.
It’s like trying to sleep with a 30 year old air conditioner running in your room.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…
I had plans today.
Eastern Market. Hopefully pick up the photo from Joe. Check out the pet store.
And groceries of course. Haven’t had fresh food in nearly a month now. Getting a little sick of peanut butter.
But this snow is coming down. I don’t see it stopping any time soon. And I cannot imagine anyone left with an outside spot at Eastern Market. And if the market is closed, do I feel like going over there just for the pet store.
Hell. I barely feel like going out for groceries.
Leave this nice warm apartment were I can watch the snow through the massive bay windows, to trudge through it all, cold, wet, windy.
And the church bells somewhere nearby are playing a song I know, but can’t remember.
I know i drive you all nuts when I say my building is on fire. I can’t help it when the fire engines show up every time I’m on the phone.
Okay… so it has never been a real fire, but Samuel Clemens never got anywhere with journalism.
Yesterday though, the exaggeration became almost too real. Honestly, I missed it all. But when I came home, the Arson Investigation unit was pulling out of the driveway. And in a few hours, when the Emergency Services repair truck pulled up next door, it finally hit me what happened while I was in Bethesda.
The five hours of deconstruction, sawing, shattering, and hammering in the middle of last night left the neighboring building with a grim visage. It looks as though the entire right half of the building — four stories — was damaged by a fire.
No injuries, from what I can tell.
But it strikes very close to home. Literally. One entire side of my apartment is literally connected to that building. If the fire had spread to the other half of the building…
I may be a little sick in the head.
I must be.
Have you ever heard a giant boom and not gone to look? Do you calmly ponder it’s origins, wondering what may have crashed this time, or was it a bomb, or even, the Bomb?
Maybe it’s just this city that’s sick.
“This theme can be played in a very sad, minor key, by training the lens on realities that seem to sink the Washington myths. The once-grand town houses now boarded up. The vaguely seedy cornices on rundown local buildings, which do for Washington architecture what bad teeth once did for the idea of English aristocracy. A picture of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., that apostle of hope, caged behind a security grate.
“But on balance, it’s a happy thing, this wealth of common human dailiness, this life force, bursting through the abstractions and idealizations, the symbolism and the rhetoric. Here’s Washington for you: fresh-faced teenagers trying to look tough, hard hats with ropy muscles and plenty of work, flower gardens and bow ties and quiet acts of generosity.
“Every time we Washingtonians drive over the Potomac bridges, or up I-295, or along New York Avenue or East Capitol Street — each time we catch sight again of the dome, the temples, the obelisk — we are reminded that we live inside a very famous photograph. Billions of people around the planet have seen our spot in the world.
“But only we really know it, because for us, Washington is not an idea, nor even simply a place. It’s home.”
7 murders in eight days, by gun.
another week in the District.
I woke up to cheering this morning. Of course, it isnt the first time I’ve had cheering in my bedroom. But ussually it doesn’t happen when I’m alone.
Okay… so maybe it does, but it’s a personal thing.
The DC marathon was passing my apartment. Those people are sick. Getting up at 7 in the morning and running 26 . Just punch me in the gut and let me go back to sleep.
My landlady is a nut. She’s on this trip about me looking like Nicolas Cage. It isn’t the first time anyone’s told me this. But she is slightly more vocal about it. She has the entire building staff calling me Nick, and I caught her yesterday telling other resident’s I don’t even know about it when I wasn’t there.
No wonder I am having personality seizures.
My apartment is clean, damnit.
Insert babbleing here.
cause, ya see, I made a psuedo-promise a few months ago that wI would post things here even if I had nothing to say, but I have noticed a degeration in my writing lately (not to mention my love life).
I do have one thing I want to write about. But not now. I am still pondering. Have my little list of thoughts taped to my forhead, cause I never remember shit I was thinking about unless I right it down.
This in contrast of course to the fact that I remember everything anyone else was thinking, or saying, or doing, or…
Man, I should remember to breath more deeply.
Here come the sirens. If you know me at all, then you know what I’m talking about.
Building holiday party was tonight. Beautiful women, prodigious amounts of alcohol, and apartments only a few feet away. MMMMmmmm….
I ought to buy one of those ‘word-a-day’ calendars.
I am expecting something good soon. But only if I survive the weekend. Bio terror attack on Sunday or Monday. Tha’s his story anyway. But if people crashing planes into skyscrapes didn’t know the truth until the boarded, I’m not really in the mood to humor a putz from California who had his coming of age crisis while in Pakistan and decided to shoot at the US Marines.
Fooooooooooooooooood. My gut is rumbling. The taco’s in the freeezer are calling my name. (Come to butthead! … sorry… flashback)
For someone who didn’t have anything to say, my own oral flatulance amazes me.
Oh thats much better. The Washington Monument and the Mall is covered in a red glow.
Mother nature is a sick puppy.
To be more specific, the sky isn’t dark enough. Not where it normally becomes. By now it is should be black. But what I see out my window is more of a tan/gray.
The streets are as dark as ever, but the sky has a light cast to it.
This is not a comforting thing.
The only reassuring aspect is that it’s been like this for hours, with no other noticable differences.
It is 10:52 p.m. on November 27th in the Northern Hemisphere.
Confirm something for me.
Shouldn’t the sky be dark now?
Tonight I watched the contrails pile up over the District.
(Con-trail – ‘kon-“trAl – n. – 1943 – streaks of condensed water vapor created in the air by an airplane or rocket at high altitudes)
I’d seen a couple earlier in the day out in Georgetown. But sitting in my windows at home, I watched six of them appear. And four more float over the horizon, as the sky shifted (fuck Galileo).
The problem, in case ya didn’t know, is that the District is a no-fly zone.
No commercial aircraft. That, and the contrails themselves mean there were at least 12 military jet flights over DC today. Only once before do I remember any jets flying over, and that was in relation to the September 11th attacks.
They were headed straight towards the Pentagon, though they flew well past there.
Maybe the Pakistani President should visit more often. Makes for interesting sunsets.
I was walking through Georgetown today after leaving the flea market, looking for a Chinese place to eat. I passed this… guy. I had to look twice because my mind just didn’t process him the first time. He had to be in his late 40s/early 50s. He had close cropped white hair going in every direction but down. There was a patch over one eye, and a maniacal look over the other. He was wearing cut-off camouflage pants and a sleeveless white t-shirt, and just leaning on newspaper box.
Should have expected him. I had just passed the mental health center.
Just rain already, damnit
The city was unnaturally dead this past weekend. Well, sort of.
Eastern Market was as crowded as ever. But I heard some vendors complaining about a lack of sales.
And the MickeyDs behind the FBI was all but empty, with just a bag lady and some guy sleeping on a stool. Wonder if the suspension of FBI tours has killed their business.
Walking around, it just seemed like an incredible lack of people.
I read elsewhere that even the Pentagon City Fashion Centre was quiet.
Nothing that could be accounted for by a lack of tourism. On it’s worst day, DC was normally busier.
Wondering just how many people heard about the suspected second attacks for this weekend.
Can someone explain to me why there are jets flyin over DC, which is a no-fly zone at the moment?
Thirteen Metro Police square cars just went by, with all lights and horns flashing, at high speed, headed east.
The presidential motorcade doesn’t get 13 squad cars.
This is the kind of shit that makes me nervous.
It is 7:30 in the morning. looking outside you couldn’t tell a damn thing happened. not now anyway. But just 22 hours ago, I was standing in front of this very computer, when a loud bang outside was followed by a vibration that shook the building.
It was assumed that the president’s home was so much rubble now. Or at least the OEOB.
When I made it to the street, an area that had been crowded with normally jaded downtown workers watching the fire crews race around town just 2 minutes before, the street was empty.
You live in this city knowing you are ground zero for any war that might happen. But I never expected the sky to fall. That was everyone’s reaction yesterday morning. You just didn’t know what was going to happen next. That was the scarey part. No one worries about a nuclear war, since you’ll never see it coming. But this was gruesome.
Americans are strange people. I left the shell shocked downtown for safer destinations. And I passed people having lunches at sidewalk delis. I came back to work to find client called about work, since they weren’t sure if we were going to stay here. In the suburbs people where discussing it in the street like yesterdays Redskins game.
Fifty thousand people worked in the World Trade Center towers every day. Twenty three thousand people work in the Pentagon every day.
This was no symbolic strike at american culture. These weren’t milatary targets, cultural landmarks, or transportation centers. These were probably the two biggest concentrations of people on the east coast. This was simply about wholesale slaughter.
And nothing we do is going to make it all better. There is no justice in a situation like this.
There is a dark storm flowing across the city tonight. I could barely take a step in it and was a mess by the time I got out.
This doesn’t bode well for my plans. I may have to come up with something else.
Am I ominous enough?
Ugly naked guy is wearing tighty-whiteys tonight
i warn you, I’m hardley eloquent, or for that matter legible, at this hour in the morning. Or any hour in the morning.
I’m beginning to think they run a demolition derby outside my apartment every night. If possible, I prefer to sleep with the window open. But at those times, I hear the loudest crashes, screaches, and roars. Of course if I actually drag my lazy butt out of bed to see the wreck of the Titanic, there is nothing out there. How can anything make that much noise and not be in pieces.
For that matter, how can any city never stop. They say New York is the city that never sleeps. Well bullshit. I visited New York just a year ago now, and at night time, things got noticably quiet. (granted I was on the 27th floor). But downtown DC, which on the weekends becomes a ghostown complete with rambling sagebrush, during the weeknights could make a auto factory seem like a quiet little campground.
this has gotta suck.
Fifteen minutes before the big memorial day show down on the Capitol lawn, and it starts raining.
You have to wonder what goes on in this city after dark. I can hear someone going at i with a jackhammer out there. How does anyone use a jackhammer after dark — and why?
I went to the National Mall after work. The Airforce and Border Patrol had displays set up, with tanks, helicopters, jets, and mobile rocket launchers. Being the violent, opressive american I am, I had to see them, and take some pictures.
There is something eerie about framing a picture of a high calibre tank with the American Capitol Building as the back drop.
I’ll put up links to the pictures when theyre ready.
I think I love this apartment. No matter what time of year, when I walk in after work, the sun is bathing the entire place in a bright warm light. Very comforting thing to come home to.
So I got my new chair. I think I mentioned the old one breaking down. This thing is suhhhhweet. (for a chair of course) The alternate color isnt so bad. the construction is very high quality. With springs at every joint for flexibility, and a pneumatic lift. First time I sat down, the seat molded to my gludius. (first time anything’s grabbed my butt in months)
dayuuuum its cold today.
yesterday, I walked home with my coat open… just emjoying the brisk air. But I woke up this morning to reports of a pending storm. With a possible 2-3 inches of snow. my first thought of course being; "Thats not a storm…. THIS is a storm!" (sorry, crocidile dundee flashback).
anyways… 12 hours later… we have 10 inches of snow on the ground. Needless to say this has effectively shut down DC.
(So why did I say it?) And while it isnt exactly he 3 feet my hometown just got, it’s still enough to make for some difficulties.
So Ive whiped out the russians, indians, and Zulus. What should I do now? Besides playing Civilization. Cant even check my email. Seems like my ISP got shut down by the storm.
Did I mention I broke my chair? Damn desk chair Second chair thats snapped off at the base, on me. You lean back one day and wake up finding yourself counting the holes in the ceiling tile. So Im waiting for Office Max to deliver a new chair. Id ordered a gray one, but got a message saying all they have in stock is a burgendy one. So I call back to okay the shipment
"Do you want to cancel the order, Sir?"
"So what do you want to do, Sir?"
"Now I may be wrong here, but as far as I can tell, theres only one other option."
Am I the only one who thinks customer service reps are rejects from corrospondance schools?
I miss her. Three more months.
I look forward to the day I can wake up with her in my arms, and know she isnt going anywhere. (hey… any woman that sticks around after seeing me first thing in the morning is a keeper!)
4:44 pm est (cool huh?)
work, washington, dc
So I woke up at 4:30 this morning realizing that I had passed out last
night while ‘just resting for a minute’. So I stumbled over and turned
down the eveangelist screaming from the television; shut off the lights,
stripped down, and went to bed.
Did you know when
you get in bed at 4:30 in the morning, it is damn hard to get comfortable? Oh well… I overslept for work anyways to make up for the time I lost sleeping.
comics day. You see, all over the coutry, comics are delivered on Wednesdays.
And comic shop owners and collecters (and readers) being the impatient
people they are, the stuff goes on the shelf right away. And yes, I
am one of those freaks. I call it my one addiction. I dont smoke, I
dont drink, I dont do drugs… I gotta have some vice.
Ever go furniture
shopping? it aint easy when you have limited transportation and restricted
funds. there are no discount stores near me. those that are, charge
ya up the wahoo. or else the selection just sux. *sigh*
And lets make this
a step harder… there are no Kmarts, no Walmarts, no Targets, and no
Ames within traveling distance of me.
How the hell do
people do it?
Is anyone interested
in taking over a mother who likes to try and make her son feel guilty
about not talking to her. I’m tempted to remind her that she hasnt written
or called me in just as long a period.