I threw out my snow brush

Next month we’re moving to Florida. So this morning, I bit the bullet and threw out my snow brush.

snow brushOkay, let’s be clear, though. Not my ONLY snow brush. I mean, I still have a smaller one in the back seat. You never know, it might get misty. Or we could have an October frost. I haven’t completely lost my senses.

But my big, trusty, extendable brush, the one that I can use to push a foot or two of snow off the top of my car? I threw that out today. And I’m still kind of weirded out.

Snow doesn’t bother me and never has, except for driving. I know my husband doesn’t share this sentiment, but I’ll miss the white fluffy stuff now and then. I mean, I’ve already had my last white Christmas and I didn’t know it. On top of that I’m not usually great with humidity and I’m moving to a place where it gets downright sweaty.

But there’s air conditioning, just like there was heat up here.

And in Florida there’s our house, too, just waiting for us, with the patio for the kitties and a nice big tub in the gorgeous master bathroom and palm trees and pretty flowers and the Caribbean a short flight away.

The first half of my life had snowmen and winter boots and ice scrapers and cold frosty nights. The second half will have beaches and sun and swimming year round. I wouldn’t trade one for the other, exactly, but I’m ready to give endless summer a try.

FredCo Headquarters Moving to Florida

Fredco logoIn a memo to executives and minions, Fred Kamsler, CEO of FredCo, LLC, announced that the multinational corporation will be moving its headquarters from Long Island to Lake Worth, Florida, at the end of October 2016.

The move has been in the works for some time, although the timetable has moved up — corporate executives had been led to believe that a shift was more likely in 2017. “That’s generally how things work around here, though,” an employee told us. (This interview was given under the condition of complete anonymity and the option to be relocated through the Witness Protection Program.) “We might get a rumor of something coming, but we’re not considered worthy of details or information. We do and go as we’re told.”

FredCo poseNow that the news has gone public, we were able to get a few words from Mr. Kamsler himself, in a remote interview from an undisclosed location. “It’s true, we’re moving the company south,” he confirmed. “I would think the reasons are obvious. Warmer climate. None of that snow nonsense — the plows disturb me. Better flora and fauna. And closer proximity to my off-shore accounts.”

Joining Mr. Kamsler in Florida will be his brother and (honorary) Vice President of FredCo, George. (When asked for comment, George seemed confused and asked a number of questions about powder puff availability in the southern states.) Also accompanying the brothers will be, of course, their parents, Toni and David Kamsler. “This arrangement will allow my father to serve in his role as parental minion in a full time capacity,” the CEO explained. “Brushings were not being given as frequently as I required.” When asked about his mother, Fred looked possessive and ended the interview abruptly.

FredCo, LLC (“Using Your Money For Our Benefit Since 2008”) is a solely-owned and controlled multinational corporation with field offices located around the world. For more information, contact Publicrelations@fredanswerstonoone.com

geographically temporary

A long time ago, someone I thought was a good friend turned out not to be when she said that friendships are “geographically temporary”. Because we no longer lived in the same town, there wasn’t any point in staying friends. That was in another country, and besides, the wench, while not dead, is long unlamented. But I’ve staunchly argued for years the error of her ways.

Of course friends aren’t geographically temporary, not necessarily. Real friendship transcends barriers. Two of my best friends and I have not lived in the same zip code since 1994. Others have moved away and I’ve moved nearer to them. Some friends very dear to my heart have always been an Internet connection away. Distance makes things difficult, but it doesn’t make feelings nonexistant. I met and fell in love with my husband from across the state. And the three years we spent dating long distance was a heck of a lot harder than I could have imagined, but I never once thought of giving up on how I felt for him. Sometimes you have to make an effort when you’re not seeing each other every day, every week, or every month. You have to adjust, but you don’t have to let go.

It doesn’t always work out, though, I guess. Moving here to Long Island has been a little challenging in a number of ways I didn’t expect (oh dear god the accent) but the one I didn’t see coming at all was the way some friendships have started to fade away. It’s 2014, after all, and it’s easier to stay in touch with people than it’s ever been. You’ve got email and text and Skype and Facebook and Twitter; there’s still no teleportation, but it’s damn close. When I was in my twenties I had to keep in touch with my friends through very expensive long distance phone calls, or through — brace yourself — actual real written and mailed letters. While of course we’re all a little relieved it’s easier and cheaper to stay in touch now, I’d venture to say we’d do it again if we had to, because those friendships are invaluable. So when someone stops keeping in touch with you now, when it’s easy, when it takes so little effort… well, the reverse is clearly true, isn’t it?

I’m no saint, and I’ve probably dropped the ball on staying in touch with someone, myself. Maybe I was thoughtless, or maybe, in complete honesty, I meant to. Maybe I’ve put effort into maintaining friendships that mattered the most to me, and let others fall by the wayside. I probably have. We probably all have. Still, while it might be only human, it still hurts. It’s that age-old feeling you get in your stomach when you realize someone meant more to you than you meant to them. It’s a universal experience we’ve all had, from grade school on up — whether it’s a kid in your class, a boy, a girl, a friend, a date, a colleague or anything in between, it always feels exactly the same way whenever you realize that the object of your affection returns the favor with less enthusiasm than your own, and most likely always has.

I don’t think friendship is geographically temporary. But I’m forced to admit that some friendships don’t last and probably weren’t meant to, whether you stayed put or not. Sometimes geography is an easy out, and if that’s the case, then it’s for the best. Happily, though, the reverse is true, and a good friend stays with you no matter how far you go or how long you’ve been away. So thanks, my non-geographical friends, for hanging in there.

bright lights, bigger city

A few posts ago, I was talking about the the parts of New York City that are nothing like what you see on TV or in the movies. To be fair, I should mention that there are other parts that are, well, every bit as cool as they look. Central Park is amazing. The Metropolitan Museum really does have hieroglyphics that may, who knows, be an ancient cartoon strip about a character named Sphinxie. Watching Good Morning, America before work and thinking, that’s just a short traffic-laden drive away, that’s kind of cool. And the city at Christmastime really was something to see — that tree at Rockefeller Center is gorgeous. Restaurants, shopping, the High Line, Grand Central Station, the Cloisters, it’s all right there on that one little densely-packed island.

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All you want is a dinkle… What you envy is a schwang… A thing through which you can tinkle…To play with or simply let hang.

The other really great thing is the theatre. I saw a slew of shows in the city years and years ago. But when you live out of town, going to a Broadway show is a whole rigamarole. Getting tickets that fit your travel schedule means you can’t take advantage of most good sales, or catch something in a limited run. When you’re across the state, you just don’t hear about a lot of great productions, off Broadway and on, and that’s probably for the best or I would have been even more pea green with envy than I was before. But being here, we can grab a great opportunity when it comes along, and I’m really excited about the shows we’re seeing.

My husband and brother-in-law have a subscription to MCC Theater at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on Christopher Street. If you’re a dork like me, the biggest thing that tickles you about that is that it’s where Joey sometimes had his shows on Friends, like the one where he fell for his leading lady before heading off to Blargon 7, or Freud! the Musical. But they actually do have a lot of great shows there — I went to one with them last fall that I really enjoyed and Dave has told me about others.

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The set for Waiting for Godot, pre-show. Unlike the jerkwad in the row in front of me, I didn’t use my phone to take pictures during the performance.

For Valentine’s Day we went to see Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan in Waiting for Godot. I mean, look: Godot is a weird play, and not entirely easy. You’re meant to chuckle but mostly to think, a lot. And it was an excellent performance, but I’m not going to lie: I spent the entire time in a bliss-filled haze of thinking, “THAT’S PATRICK STEWART. AND IAN MCKELLAN. PICARD AND GANDALF ARE LESS THAN THIRTY FEET AWAY FROM ME. ACTING. TOGETHER. THIS IS THE COOLEST THING EVER.” Don’t even get me started on when Patrick Stewart walked past me on the way to his car, later. It was transformative.

 

In early May, we’re going to see Daniel Radcliffe in The Cripple of Inishmaan. I think we’re going to enjoy it, as it’s gotten excellent reviews in London. It’s a dark comedy, and with Dave, the darker the better, really. And yes, I imagine there will be a similar part of me thinking, “HARRY POTTER!!!”, but this time it’s more about making up for a previously missed opportunity. I was desperate to see Equus when Radcliffe was in it in 2009, and I couldn’t make it happen. That’s still disappointing, since it’s such a great play and also starred the now-departed Richard Griffiths, but I at least we’ll be there this time around. And for Dave’s birthday, later that month, we’re going to the long-awaited revival of Hedwig and the Angry Itch, starring Neal Patrick Harris (go for Barney!). I can’t wait.

Years and years ago, I studied theatre and thought I wanted to spend my life working backstage. That didn’t work out, and it’s not something I want anymore. But living here and getting out to see shows, keeping on top of what’s coming up in venues small and large, gives me back a little bit of something that I once wanted very badly, even if in the most tangential of ways. So if nothing else, that alone makes up for all the stinky subways and the sun setting at two o’clock and the traffic, even the traffic, ten times over.

do you know the way to santa fe?

88px-NY-347.svgI started a new job a couple weeks ago. I like it very much, and the hours are great. Apparently the woman I’m replacing — she retired — was a bona fide hoarder, however, and the office is filled with pile after pile of papers, folders, Sweet & Low packets, old used stamps, and sheets of yellowed labels. There is no rhyme or reason to it, and some of those piles contains fairly important things, including invoices, requisition forms, even (so far) two checks. It’s a disaster, and if you know me, you know every minute I’m around that kind of disorganization makes me want to jump out of my skin. So I’m trying to work my way through it, a little more cleaned out each day, but — good lord.

Anyhow, the thing that I’m noticing the most about my new job isn’t about the job at all. It’s about the drive back and forth, getting ready in the morning, coming home when I’m done. It’s the strangest thing, but it’s almost as if having a job is what’s finally making me feel at home here.

I don’t mean our apartment. I’m very at home there, and I remain as enamored of our laundry sorter, our balcony, and our fireplace as I was right from the get-go. I’m even happier at home now that our crazy-ass downstairs neighbor moved out to torture someone else. The new neighbors have two loud, noisy, yappy dogs, and it’s like heaven to us — normal people making normal noise, and not getting mad at us for walking across a carpeted floor in our socks at two in the afternoon. But I digress — our apartment has always felt like home, and I love it there.

It’s the neighborhood, I guess, that I felt strange in. The general area. I mean, I don’t usually know where I am. I sometimes get the general direction of where we’re going, but it’s all sort of vague. The city is thattaway. Dave’s mom’s is the opposite direction I think it’s in. The closest Chipotle is just way too far away, but doable in a pinch. Shop Rite is not where my GPS says it is (it’s just a bunch of trees! there’s no store in there, I checked), and on my way back from Astoria I spent a lot of time driving in circles in Flushing Meadows, because Apple Maps declared I had gone off the grid. In other words, I got so lost, satellites couldn’t find me.

Suffice to say, I’m still not great at getting around on my own. I’ll probably be using my GPS for awhile, even if it evidently can’t always be trusted. But at least now I go back and forth most days to the same place. I stop at the same red lights, see the same businesses, go around the same bend. It’s only a few miles of road that have become familiar, most of it strip malls and developments and Whole Foods. But it’s mine, and it’s familiar, and that’s a start.

play it again, sam

So when I wrote about the move last month, I actually left one big thing out. I was too depressed to write about it at the time, but now that it’s (spoiler alert) fixed, I can: the piano got damaged in the move.

IMG_1904Owning a piano when you move is like having a giant boulder chained to your ankle. You have to move, and the easiest thing to do would be to leave the boulder behind, but you can’t. You’re attached to it. I wanted a piano all my life. When my mother died, I used some of the money she left me to buy this piano, and I’ve loved it ever since. I can no more get rid of it than I could my left arm. Pianos are sentimental possessions, and that would be fine if they weren’t so damn unwieldy.

Having a piano professionally moved door-to-door from Buffalo to Long Island was, to put it mildly, cost prohibitive. Four-figures-prohibitive. We settled on a solution that still involved professional movers, but we’d be doing the freight ourselves in our U-Haul. It was a good (and professionally recommended) solution. And for the record, a perfectly good one. The piano was moved onto the truck, across the state, and off the truck and into the apartment with no problems. What went wrong? I was tired and not careful, that’s what, and the damage occurred less than a mile away from the house, and just because of forgetting to secure something at the last minute. No one’s fault but ours.

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*Piano only. George’s butt not included.

We were lucky: the damage was mostly cosmetic, and did not involve the mechanics of the piano. Firstly, one wheel broke, which was inconvenient, but not that difficult to have fixed, once we found the right guy for the job. That put us back at 100% fully functional, but there was still this unsightly gash, a few inches in diameter and an inch or so deep. It didn’t go through, and it was in fact going to be on the side of the piano that is up against the wall… but I couldn’t leave it that way.

I’ve been told that hiring a contractor is a nightmare — people don’t call you back, or if they do they’re unavailable, or if they promise you a quote they don’t give it, or if they do, they sometimes don’t show up when they’re supposed to start the job. Apparently finding a furniture repairman is the same way, because we searched and searched and searched. We made calls and inquiries that never got answered, we spoke to people who said they couldn’t or wouldn’t help, we had no-shows and no-call-backs. We got one quote (pretty steep) and then couldn’t get the guy to set up an appointment. We were striking out everywhere. Frustrating.

IMG_1858Michael’s Furniture Service was our savior. The owner not only answered right away, and not only understand just what we needed, and not only gave us a reasonable quote, and not only came out and did the job that very same day, he also did the one thing that’s really needed doing: he fixed the piano, and that fixed my peace of mind. All better. You can barely see where it was, and if you didn’t know there’s ever been damage, you wouldn’t know or see anything other than wood grain. We’re really grateful, and recommend their company to anyone in this area.

So, all better. Whew. Now I just need to practice a little more often. 🙂

the name game

I was more than eager to change my name when I got married, for reasons that anyone who knows me would understand. And having worked in the Clerk’s office these past few years, I know just what the procedure is: get your marriage certificate from the clerk and take that to Social Security, then the DMV, and then change it everyone else. Simple, right Not exactly. And the weirdest part is that the places we thought would be the most hassle weren’t, and in reverse, some places that shouldn’t have blinked were the worst.

US-PassportcoverMost important for us was getting my passport changed. Our cruise isn’t until January and we wanted to book everything in my new name, so I’d need an updated passport. I worried about that a lot — how long would it take, should we pay for the super-fast service, or just expedite it, would it come back quickly. Well, bravo, State Department, because it was a breeze. I made a short appointment at the Post Office, got new pics and mailed everything out, and I had my newly-minted document back in my hands about two weeks later. We were even able to track the progress while it was processing. Nicely done, federal government.

I’ll give credit to the feds for Social Security as well, though sitting in that office waiting for my turn was like a page out of Sartre’s “No Exit”. New York State, however, gets a slightly lower rating. Some of my endeavors at the DMV were fine — new license, new registration. Getting a new title apparently involves making the paper it’s printed on from scratch. And your “EZ Pass” program was a little too persnickety about documentation for changing my last name on something that’s linked to a device velcroed to my window.

PayPal was not a walk in the park and took two tries uploading scans of my forms. But every other site was simple — Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Google, it was just a matter of typing in the change. Apparently I could tell the Internet my name is Toni Princess Consuela Bananahammock and that would be fine.

Now, credit cards were a very mixed bag. One of them wished me to have a magical-kingdom-nice-day and did it in a flash, no questions asked. A certain clothing store’s card did the same, and I think sent me a 30% off coupon just ’cause in the process. With Bank of America, I went into my branch and was able to take care of my accounts there easily enough — but the credit card officer we had to call wanted me to go into a bank to process my request, which he said to me as I was calling him from a bank. Any of that pales compared to American Express — my favorite credit card (JetBlue miles!) and usually a wonderful company to deal with, but in this instance a monster-filled nightmare. I filled out forms and uploaded documents. I waited. I called to see what the problem was; I was told there was no problem, so I waited. I called again and was told all my submitted documents were illegible. I had an unpleasant conversation with a customer service person who didn’t understand what a PDF was. I submitted again. Those were also not acceptable. I had my new husband craft a lovely, CPA-ish letter that said, “Get this fixed and send my wife her AmEx card ASAP”, and it arrived FedEx a day later. (That right there? That’s why I married him. ) So go figure.

If I had it to do over I wouldn’t be so blithe, but it’s all done now, and I am who I am, both in paper and in plastic.

time out

relaxing_300I joined Weight Watchers last January. Overall, I have only good things to say about the program. I think it’s healthy, and I think it focuses on good eating habits for life. I like that they teach moderation, not deprivation. I think the program is simple to follow, and I think they have a lot of great ideas. It’s a little expensive, and I sometimes think a little too corporate, but I recommend it, I really do. I worked hard for 11 months, recovering after my surgery, sometimes in pain, sometimes not. The exercise I used to like hasn’t been a possibility, so I focused on eating well instead. And while WW didn’t give me dramatic results, it did start moving the scale in the right direction, instead of the scary wrong one it had been headed in. But having said all of that, I’m officially on hiatus for a little while. It’s a good program, and one I know I’ll go back to when I’m ready, but it’s just not working for me right now.

I wish I wasn’t the kind of person who gets comfort from food, though, honestly, I’m not sure I know anyone who could really claim they don’t either. And I’ve got a lot to be happy about: I’m married to a wonderful guy, and we had a beautiful wedding. The move went more or less well, and we’re here, in an apartment I love, in a nice town. But despite all that, this isn’t the easiest time for me. I’m still sad sometimes. I miss home. And it’s been a lot to get used to in a short period of time. As my very wise friend Amybeth said, leaving everything I was familiar with and moving here has been a little like Dorothy waking up in Oz. It’s amazing here, but it’s different. I don’t want to go home — this is home — but I’m adjusting. I need time. It’s like the boys — George came around fast, but Freddie has been slower to adjust. He likes it here, but he still seems confused sometimes, unsure. I guess I’m more like Fred and I just need a little longer to get used to it.

So I thought about it, and I came to some conclusions — about things in general, not just Weight Watchers. I feel like while I’m adjusting, I need to cut myself a little slack, whether it’s not worrying about my lack of employment just yet, not freaking out over how much more everything is here, or putting down the WW Points Calculator for a little while. I’ll try not to go crazy with foods and I’ll try to keep acclimating, I’ll keep looking for bargains and we’ll keep our eyes open for opportunities. But for now, I think I need a time out from making any other demands on myself other than just shifting gears and being kind to myself while I do it.

movin’ on up

wheelmudSo, we’re here. On Long Island, and home. As I write this, Dave is finishing up one of our last tasks, hooking up the TV in the living room, and with that, we’ll have everything almost set. Not too bad, right? Less than two weeks later and we’re done with the move and everything. Did it all go off without a hitch? Not exactly, but in the end it all worked out.

The morning after our wedding, tired and headachy from a hotel room with the worst ventilation ever, we said goodbye to a lot of people: out of town guests traveling back home, friends hitting the road, people from home I would be leaving in a few days. And I did not handle it well. The excitement of the wedding, I think, kept me from thinking too hard about the fact that I was moving away from everything I know. There were a lot of tears.

Also a lot of manual labor. There was still some packing and cleaning to do, and on Monday, a giant U-Haul truck to load. That eventually went really smoothly, but not before we drove it back from the rental site, pulled up to the house… and promptly got really stuck in the mud. And when you get an enormous 26′ moving truck stuck in the mud, even a little, there’s really no simple rock-back-and-forth solution. The more you try that, the worse it gets. You’re stuck. I mean, we had a trained archaeologist on hand, and even she couldn’t dig us out (thanks for trying, though, Jen!). But an hour or so of panic, a tow from a slightly smaller U-Haul truck later, and we were back in business. Everything got loaded up and the guys hit the road, and Dave and I spent one last night in an empty house, said goodbye to some good friends, and got up Tuesday morning and left, kitties in their carriers, car loaded to the gills.

IMG_1805It wasn’t that bad of a drive. The cats didn’t like it, and didn’t eat or use their litter box, or drink anything other than a few drops of milk, but they were calm the whole ride. And we made decent time, and kept each other company. It was okay. We arrived home in Smithtown in one piece, home to a house already full of furniture and boxes, thanks to our amazing family and friends who’d unloaded the truck, and a nice welcome home surprise from my new mother-in-law.

IMG_1818The days since have been busy. We’ve taken some breaks here and there, but I think we both felt the sooner we could get rid of the boxes and get everything set up, the better. We went room by room and got it all done, including moving in The Couch That Almost Wasn’t — if it wasn’t for a terrific new neighbor, that couch would either still be stuck in the hallway, or gone in sawed-apart pieces.

The cats in particular have calmed down a lot now that the boxes are gone. I strongly suspect they don’t know the difference between packing and unpacking, and this has just been a continuation of the disarray their life has been for a month. Georgie is very okay now, exploring and playing all the time. He’s a little too excited and won’t settle down to snuggle, but he will eventually. Freddie has taken a little more time. Spatial relations have never been his strong suit, and there have been times he’s forgotten how to find his water bowl, or even me. But he loves his fireplace, just like I knew he would.

And me? I’m okay. I’m happy, of course. I waited for this day to come for a long time. I love our new home, and I love Dave, and everything is good. But if I’m telling the truth, I’m a lot more homesick than I thought I’d be. I miss everyone. I miss everything. I keep picturing my room in my house, my yard, my driveway. My ride to work. My neighborhood, my stores, my familiar places. It’s not anything against here, but I find myself wishing I could just do the aisles at the NF Boulevard Wegmans, go to bingo, and then come back home here again. And I wish I could do that whenever, and not once in a long while. I love the changes I made, and I love it here, but I miss the things and the people I had to leave behind, maybe a little more than I’d planned on.

the last countdown

countdownSo I’ve been counting down to our wedding day for months, sometimes posting about it on Facebook. Eight months to go, five months… one month. But I’ve had a secret the whole time: it’s a fake-out. Oh, the wedding is really on November 9, don’t be silly. But that isn’t the day I’m really anxious for. Secretly, I’ve been aiming a few weeks earlier, for this Saturday, for October 26. That’s the day Dave comes here and then doesn’t go away. At least, not without me.

It’s been three years and about four months since we got together — wonderful times, of course, but also years of goodbyes and counting the days until we see each other again, occasional time zone difficulties and calls, texts, Skype and email. I’ve cried in an airport, at last count, sixty-four times. Every minute we’re together is wonderful and every minute we spend apart I’m looking forward to the next time. And it’s finally done. No more picking him up at the airport and trying not to think about how I’ll be right back there in a few days, dropping him off. No more planning visits. No more goodbyes.

Obviously, we’ll be apart sometimes. Dave still loves Vegas, and I still like to see my friends, and we’ll do things apart, sometimes for a stretch of days. So yes, there’ll be airports and goodbyes in our future, but it’s not the same. Not at all. We won’t ever be leaving each other just to go back to separate homes anymore. From now on, my home will be his home, and his home will be mine, and that’s the place we’ll both always be coming back to, wherever we go. It’s been such a long time coming but we’re finally here, and I couldn’t be happier. So no more countdowns for me, after this weekend. We’re going to have a lovely wedding, but I’ll already have the one thing I’ve wanted all this time.