Wednesday, November 29, 2006


And it feels so . . . meh. I had my ten year high school reunion in San Francisco this weekend, which culminated my Big California Week.

I got to SF on a Sunday evening and proceeded to the Hertz rental car area. The woman behind the counter seemed baffled by the fact that I was a woman, alone, renting a car, not for business, not for my boyfriend, but for me and only me to drive.

“You here on business?”

“No, vacation.”

“You have boyfriend? Husband?”


“You drive for you to go to work?”

“No, like I said, I’m on vacation.”

“So you have husband?”

“No, just me.”

“You by yourself? No husband?”

At this point, the screaming and throwing things option was increasingly appealing, but I took a deep breath, reassured her as to my marital status again, and was finally handed the keys to my bombastic Toyota Matrix.

It’s a car that looks rather unfortunately like a baby with a load in its diapers, but I was delighted to be behind the wheel of anything after almost a year without driving, and, tooling around the steep hills of Oakland and Montclair, I was pleased with the thing overall. I was half consumed by terror and convinced I’d at some point total el Matrix only because it was a rental, but aside from the woman who backed in to me in Berkeley (“Oh, I didn’t see you!” – which is odd, as my car is directly behind yours and its Invisibility Booster is on the fritz), the garbage cans I forcefully repositioned, and the parking sign I gently tapped while making a three point turn, my week of driving was mercifully incident free, the car was returned intact, and I discovered that parallel parking is a muscle memory thing – after the first awkward sweaty session of backing and filling, it all comes back to you.

Allison and her lovely new boyfriend Josh put me up and entertained me for my first few days, and then I went to sponge off the largesse of Stacey’s brother’s family.

Randy, the brother, his wife Andrea, and their two unreasonably perfect kids, Jackson and Annabelle, were delightful. Jackson, at age 2 1/2, is awesomely verbal and took an immediate shine to me. I’m about as maternal as a cactus, so I’m always thrown off when a little kid really digs me. It filled my heart with a contemptible gooiness when, at 7:30 in the morning, I heard Jackson grilling his mom to find out, “Where’s Liz?”

I had no choice but to acquiesce to the gooiness, and I was firmly a member of the mutual admiration society. Jackson made me realize that maybe, just maybe, if I had a kid I wouldn’t treat it like a houseplant.

I had Thanksgiving dinner/Jane’s 60th Birthday bash with Stacey’s family and Stacey’s mom’s best friend’s family and friends and assorted and sundry others.

The coup de grace of the trip was the San Ramon Valley High School Class of 1996 10 year reunion. It was held at Sinbad’s, a slightly seedy restaurant in the Embarcadero thats main feature is an eerie pirate mannequin complete with realistic looking chest hair, who lives in a glass case up front.

For $84, I discovered that ‘no-host bar’ translates into, ‘pay for your drinks made with bottom shelf liquor,’ and that fried food does not improve its flavor or quality the longer it's left over a Sterno.

As for the people, it was great to see a select few, but I realized about 2 hours in to it there’s a reason I left my hometown, and a reason I didn’t make a tremendous effort to keep in touch with a lot of my classmates. They’re all fine, pleasant people, but let’s just say the lifestyle choices I’ve made since 1996 made me feel like a slightly dangerous and exotic animal in the midst of placid and content cattle.

On balance, I realize how snobby and horrible that sounds, and I don’t mean to imply I have any sense of superiority over these people (oh, what the hell, yes I do). Everyone is just, well, nice and anodyne.

I’m glad I went, and it was good to see people, and ultimately, it reinforced to me that I don’t regret any of the decisions I’ve made that took me from there to here, even the iffy ones.

There were a few people I desperately wanted to see, but I had some communications problems with my POS cellphone and lack of an Internet connection, so Claudine and Joe especially, if you’re reading this, I fully acknowledge I suck!

To sum up:

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

In Which I Growl

So, Liz’s adventures in real estate turned out to be a bust. I am, in fact, closer to being almost a homo than I am a homeowner. And I’m really not much of a homo. I’m about as gay as I am Jewish, come to think of it . . . and everyone knows I’m the World’s Worst Jew.

The much vaunted roof deck of the building did not actually exist. I mean, yes, the building has a roof, but as for being defined as a ‘roof deck’ and ‘common space’ in the offering plan the ass-magnet sponsor and realtors submitted to the city, we have a no go, a blatant lie, and a big pile of false advertising, as it was sitting right there in the Times: "Its common roof deck offers you refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life . . . "

I went to my attorney yesterday to sign the papers that would have put me in contract. She was reviewing the specs of the building, and mentioned something about ‘no roof access.’

Me: Wait, What?

She: Yeah, no roof access. It looks like the only people who have any kind of outdoor space are the people on the 4th floor with the duplexes.

Me: Oh my god. No roof access is a total deal breaker.

She: Well, let’s call the sponsor’s lawyer and see what she says.

Me: Oh, fuck.

A call was placed to the sponsor’s lawyer, who knew nothing about the alleged deck. A call was placed to the realtor, who said, “Of course there’s a deck; I’ve walked around on it.”

Physical presence of deck or no, the thing wasn’t in the offering plan, and to make it legal, the offering plan would have to be resubmitted with the city,and re-approved, which takes several months, according to my lawyer. And, the people who would end up paying to have this deck built are, yes, you guessed it, the condo owners in the building, not the sponsor. So basically, if I wanted a roof deck, all the other people in the building would also have to want it, and then be willing to invest the money to build and approve the damn thing.

The thing that makes me seethe is the fact that I had to pay my lawyer $500 to discover the sponsor and the realtors had lied about a major feature of the building, and the one that made it so appealing to me. My lawyer totally deserved what I paid her; the stack of documents she had to go through is worse that War and Peace.

But the fact the she is the one who had to inform the realtors they’d been lying the whole time, and that it cost me $500, gave me a mild Tourettic attack as I stormed down the hallway at work dropping f bombs like they were hot.

I hate confrontation, but I was so furious I called the realtor and told her, look, either lower my bid by $50,000 and make sure it’s accepted, or you reimburse me for my legal fees. She stammered, “Oh, I’m going to have to get back to you tomorrow on that!”

She calls me this morning and says, “Well, you’ll need to make a more reasonable bid and we can talk, but we’re not paying for your legal fees.”

I said, “Well, that means I can sue you for false advertising.”

Long pause. Then, “Oh, let me call you back.”

Five minutes later, I get a call from her boss saying, “The sponsor has agreed to reimburse you.”

Fuckin’-A right he did!

They have, overnight, changed the Times ad to read, "there is potential (italics added) for a fabulous common roof deck with stunning harbor, Statue of Liberty and skyline views."

Fuck you, buddy.

The moral of the story is: buying real estate is treacherous and Brown Harris Stevens can kiss my sweet white ass. At least no one died, and nothing terrible happened in the long view, but this whole process has done nothing to improve my stank attitude.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Wave

Today was much different than I anticipated.

Well, I can’t say I had anything to anticipate, having tucked all the swirling ramifications of spending a large portion of one’s savings deep into some cranial recess. A nice happy place of daisies and sunshine where the Home Equity Fairy flits from condo to condo, depositing goodwill and ownership where e’er she roams.

Instead, the Home Equity Fairy pulls last minute failure-to-disclose bullshit, and then you yearn to find her and squish her.

So, I will discuss something I feel is the wave of the future, instead.

I noticed tonight that the New York Times was displaying tag clouds in a blog ‘article’ alternating with a blog roll. First time I’ve noticed that in the Times.

This is huge, people. This is one of the top websites in the world endorsing what was, up ‘til now, still pretty on-the-edge technology.

All of this so-called Web 2.0 stuff (lawdy, how I hate that term) is the wave of the future, bitches. Ride it.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button

Monday, November 13, 2006

Search and Destroy

I went to see Imogen Heap at Webster Hall last night. You might not recognize her name, but she’s responsible for the ubiquitous “Let Go” that was on the Garden State soundtrack, and she is a tremendous musician, both vocally and technically.

She does this thing I’ve never seen before, where she records a vocal sample on the spot, loops it, and stacks more on-the-spot samples on top of the original, until she’s created her own choir of sorts.

She also used a weird keyboard machine she wore around her neck, and as she sang the root note, this machine somehow processed her voice into intervals she could then manipulate using the keyboard. I have no idea how that thing works, I only know I desperately want one.

There was a giant Lucite piano. I couldn’t see the keyboard very clearly, but it looked like there was a whole bevy of mixing equipment up there with her. She was a total spaz while setting up for each song, having so many buttons to push and effects to activate, and each time she forgot to tweak something, she’d say “Oh, shit,” in the loveliest British accent. She had a few false starts when an effect didn’t work as planned, and spent a lot of time flouncing around the stage with a coxcomb of pink feathers pinned in her hair, making her seem dotty and altogether delightful.

The one negative of the night was the drunk jackass in the back of the room who felt the overwhelming need to scream “whooooooooooooo!” at every possible opportunity. This idiot was as loud, unmiked, as Imogen Heap was miked.

The first time, there was a lot of head turning, and some generalized audience laughter. Heap looked a little startled, but kept going.

The second time, there was less head turning, and a bit of audience grumbling.

I love seeing live music, especially when the musician, live, is even better than they are on an already impressive album, as was the case with Imogen Heap. But I did not pay $30 to have some drunk asshole howl like a wolf in a trap and fuck up my sonic experience. I’m totally down with enthusiastic yelling and applause in its time and place, but when it becomes clear you’re making a spectacle of yourself for the sake of letting the performer know you’re in the room, you need to be elsewhere.

The third time this human megaphone of irritation felt the need to contribute his yawp, it was at the beginning of “Hide and Seek,” a lovely, haunting, minimalist piece. The first 16 bars were almost totally drowned out by this moron’s vocalizations, and at that point I felt a deep urge to seek out, locate, and forcibly remove this person’s vocal chords. But then I would have missed the rest of my favorite song, so I had to content myself with sending the surliest of evil vibes his way, along with my 3,000 fellow concert-goers.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Democrats win the House.
Democrats win the Senate.
Rumsfeld resigns.

I'm so damn happy I peed a little.

Now we wait and see whether this will result in an ineffectual clusterfuck or if my like-minded political representatives will actually do something now that they've gotten some power back.

Regardless, Republicans, you were PWNED! You may now suck it.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Almost a Homo

Ner. I’m almost a homeowner. Holy crap. I am swiftly entering the pantheon of yuppie hell, and I’m not so sure I feel good about it.

Two weeks ago, Adam and I went to check out an open house I spotted in the NY Times real estate section. A two bedroom condo for less than the price of a firstborn child. WHAT???

So Adam and I meandered a bit south of where I live now, to the soothingly named Greenwood Heights. Unscrupulous realtors might describe this area as ‘South Slope.’ I call it, ‘next to the giant cemetery.’

But, whatever you call it, I can afford it. Or at least I think I can afford it. Several large banks also think I can afford it, or are, alternately, assuming I can’t afford it, but are hesitant to tell me so, so I’ll default on my mortgage, fall into a debt death spiral, and have to get knocked up just to sell off that firstborn child.

I can see it all so clearly now! It’s a conspiracy involving Citibank, Ben Bernanke, and the Federal Treasury, cunningly designed solely to publicly bankrupt and humiliate me.

Clearly, I’m going through the Major Cold Feet phase of homebuying. And I’m not even officially in contract yet, though the realtor representing the condo’s sponsor assures me the papers will be sent to my attorney today. Once my signature and a few thousand dollars are removed from my account, I assume the panic will truly begin.

I’ve been saving for this since I was 16, though, and despite the fact I’ll have to severely curtail my bad habit of buying expensive shoes in bulk, I hope to Jebus that ultimately this will be better for me than flushing money down the rent toilet every month.

My head now spins with fixed-rates, and ARMs, and points, and all other manner of crap I’d much rather have someone else think about. Also, I must add, that scene in Sex and the City in which Miranda buys an apartment is completely accurate. Every mortgage company I’ve spoken with has asked, “It’s just you? No husband? No help from your parents?” And each time, with decreasing patience, I’ve answered, “Yep. It’s just me.” My subtext, for those of you who need to know such things, is, “bite me, asshole. This is 2006, and I am neither chattel or valued on a goat stock exchange. I am a working woman and I’m doing this for and by myself.”

Empowerment aside, I’m scared shitless, and must admit to worrying who’s going to help me drag heavy items around and drill holes in walls. Then again, I’m freaking out about everything related to this whole process, so let me not go borrowing trouble any sooner than I have to!
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button

Monday, November 06, 2006


Awesome is running 26.2 miles dressed as a rhinoceros. Or running 26.2 miles at the age of 77. Or, come to think of it, running 26.2 miles at all.

I love watching the marathon just to see the variety of people who think a Sunday well spent involves getting up at 5 AM to force one’s body through all sorts of unnatural contortions for the sheer pleasure of running 26.2 miles.

Due to sheer sloth, I had a rough time dragging my sorry corpus out of bed by 10:32 on Sunday. I clicked on the TV so see what was what for the progress of the nutbags who were making their way up 4th Avenue in Brooklyn.

And there it was . . . LanceCam. Lance Armstrong, hero, yellow-bracelet wearer, one-testicled cyclist extraordinaire, was running his first marathon surrounded by a phalanx of past marathon stars, and preceded by two dudes on a motorcycle; one steering and one seated backwards to catch Lance’s every stride with his camera.

Lance was at 36th Street! Oh, Jesus! If I wanted to see Lance, public decency was going to have to wait. ‘Bra be damned,’ I thought, as I zipped up my hoodie over bare skin (shirt be damned. Too) and hoofed it out the door, hair uncombed, sleep still crusting my eyes, hoping to get a glimpse of the man as he went past my block.

Apparently, Lance, in mile 8 of the marathon, is significantly faster than me, boobs a-jiggle, trotting down the hill for an avenue and a half to try to make it to 4th Avenue and 15th before he flits past.

I traipsed back home to apply undergarments to myself and then hopped on my bike to head to Reba’s house to watch Johnny’s cousin Allie go by. Which she did, looking like she was out for a refreshing stroll in the country, instead of a third of the way a trip through hell. I think it was those endorphins – she was freakin’ high.

Reba, Keshia, and I stayed at 4th Ave and Butler to cheer on more runners. Apparently, the entire country of France was required to participate, but I can’t tell you how much pleasure I had screaming “Vive la France!” at the top of my lungs and having weary French types brighten up at my English pig-dog accent.

The Italians were also out in force, and while they represent a large portion of my ancestry, I was only marginally confident yelling out “Viva l’Italia!” That very well may be Spanish, for all I know.

I screamed until I was hoarse and clapped until my hands stung. Then, humbled by this awesome parade of running humanity, I had two beers and a glass of wine before noon, toasting my running brethren with each gulp.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Jen and I went shopping today. She needed fashion hosiery, I needed lipstick and boots. We work near enough to the Herald Square Macy’s to almost make it worth dealing with the 50,000 tourists per square foot to fight one’s way up to the Clinique counter only to be told one’s favorite lipstick color has been discontinued.

Jen secured her three pairs of bad ass patterned tights, I got the closest color I could find to my color of choice, and we popped into 5th floor fancy shoes so I could get a completely unnecessary pair of boots.

I’ve been on the Great Burgundy Boot Quest of 2006 from the time the daily temperature dropped out of the 80s. I ordered a lovely pair from Zappos, but the bastards were so slim in the calves that without the assistance of Fabio or similar, there was no way they were zipping all the way up my leg. Back they went.

At Macy's I found a pair, that, while not technically my dream pair, are totally serviceable: under $200, burgundy, pointy toed, 3 inch heeled, and happy-making.

Jen, tights in hand, and me, boots and lipstick in hand, left Macy’s to struggle upstream in the midtown throngs.

Macy’s is in the Garment District, and where there’s clothes, there’s models. It’s not uncommon to see underfed 14 year olds loping along 7th Avenue on their way to a fitting, or a nice vomit, or whatever else it is models do.

Today, though, we spotted not one, but two girls who looked like skeletons with a light dusting of skin. I turned to Jen and said, “That one needs a sammich, or a rice cake, or something.”

Jen, watching one walk over a subway grate, says “If she’s not careful, she’s gonna slip right in there.”

Then we laughed and spoke of burritos.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Lean Into It

It takes me about 40 minutes to get to work on the subway in the morning.

The first leg of my journey is quick, and if the M and R are running smoothly, it takes about 5 minutes to get from point A (Prospect) to point B (Atlantic) with stops at 9th Street and Union in between.

Then I shuffle nudge squeeze my way across the platform and insert myself into an N train. Here is where the fun begins.

It is, more often than not, sardine-ville on the train, as everybody in Brooklyn really, really wants my face in their armpit, and will do everything they can to make sure I’m jostled into prime face-armpit position by the time the ‘bee-boo’ of the closing doors is heard.

Today, for some reason, the N was far less crowded than usual, so, while I still had to stand, I had plenty of room to enjoy my New Yorker without breathing in some dude’s musky Eau de SpeedStick.

The Grand Street exodus allowed me to snag a seat, and I plopped down with joy and settled in to read in peace.

Then, out of my peripheral vision, I felt it. The gentle, but steadily growing pressure of the woman on my right leaning in to me as she fell asleep.

Subway sleep is a funny thing, as are subway sleepers. It’s not a restful sleep, but instead is based on the dodge and weave model of boxing, where your exhaustion overtakes you and you slump, only to jerk yourself awake until the next bout drags you down again. This can happen several times in rapid succession, and there’s no fighting it.

Sleepy lady drooped ever closer to my shoulder, only to yank her head up like she’d been electrified every time the train shook.

Then, out of my peripheral vision, I felt it. The gentle, but steadily growing pressure of the woman on my left leaning in to me as she fell asleep.

I was sandwiched between two subways sleepers, both of whom seemed to be inexorably drawn towards the dubious pillows of my shoulders. Sleepy lady on the left was either more tired or more aggressive, as her head actually touched down a few times before she recoiled herself. Sleepy lady on the right was more delicate about it, and I only got most of her body weight, but not much of her head.

I was hesitant to wake my beautiful dreamers, but 34th Street was where my service as a nap-platform came to an unceremonious end, and I let myself get swept away in the rush of departing riders.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button