Wednesday, January 31, 2007

How'd we find each other?

Whenever I read comments on other blogs, I'm always struck by the crossovers. Elsie comments on Liz's posts. Winston comments on Peter the Other's. Joy comments on Tamar.

And I start thinking: Who found who and in which order? Not that it matters. It's just interesting.

Did I discover PT first, or Chux? I know it took me a while to figure out that Chris and PT are related. ( Jo came along after I'd sorted out the relationship, I think.)

A lot of my favorite bloggers don't crossover-comment, but for those of you who do, I like reading your responses to blogs that have a different focus from my own.

So, how'd we all find each other? Just wondering.

(Do you like how I'm killing time posting instead of packing???)

George and Fred

My new landlords. I met them the other day when I went to pick up a copy of the lease and keys to the apartment.

Quite a pair of entrepreneurs are George and Fred (and good Catholic boys, who are duly impressed with my Episcopal Church Center job). They own a couple of shops that specialize in that staple of every 1950s housewife, the short-sleeved, floral house-dress. Not sure if they sell accessories like bandannas and hairnets (without which no house-coat ensemble would be complete), but I'll find out soon.

The newest shop takes up part of the street-level floor of my new building, so I can probably get a good deal for ya' if you're interested. (And leave it to my Bro to notice the "pret-a-porter" - his words, ha! - when I sent him pics of the new digs.)

Anyway, George and Fred are extremely New York-proud of the renovation they've done on the apartment building. The front doors, marble hallways, video intercom system, stainless steel kitchens - the place is neat as a pin and attractive, to boot. Fred was absolutely gleeful as he showed me which key fit which lock, how to use the intercom system, where to put my trash and recyclables, how to adjust the thermostat. Such a proud papa!

I was forewarned that George and Fred would talk my ear off - and they did - but they seem nice. Fingers crossed we have a pleasant relationship in the coming years.

Tomorrow's moving day, part 1. The computer should be up-and-running by late afternoon, so I'll check in as soon as I can. Onward and upward (thankfully via a gleaming new elevator)!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Baggin' it

I'm in the throes of packing up my meager New York belongings to move to my new apartment on Thursday. A few weeks ago I was wise enough to look ahead and order several boxes of those gigantic XXL Ziploc bags, figuring they'd come in handy when and if I finally got a place of my own.

Boy, was I right! Know how many clothes, linens, and assorted other goods you can stuff into one of those bags? Mucho, mi amigos, mucho. (See, I'm practicing for El Barrio.) I suspect the top handles won't last the journey, but the bags alone are worth it.

Still, there's something about those bags that cause me to wonder where I can find bread and meat big enough to make a super-giant-size sandwich to fill one of them . . . Mmmmmmmmm.

OK. That's my Ziploc plug. Feel free to send me a couple o' free boxes, Johnson corporate folks.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

There is a rose in Spanish Harlem . . .

And that'd be me.

I did the deed today and signed an apartment lease. Finally. Couldn't afford to stay in pricey Carnegie Hill area of Upper East Side, so I moved to the Upper Upper East side, known as East Harlem/Spanish Harlem. Yep. El Barrio. But I have a Park Avenue address, I'm still in Manhattan, and I'll be paying $300 less than where I am now. Plus, it's a one bedroom. Yea! Three nice size closets, to boot. Subway just around the corner.

I found - on my own, no broker fee! - a beautiful, newly-renovated pre-war building (marble hallways, elevator, high ceilings, hardwood floors, arched windows, new stainless steel kitchen). I'm on the 5th floor so I'm above the fray, as it were. Perseverance, my friends, pays off in the end.

Better brush up on my Spanish, though. I have exactly one week . . .

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

One year ago today

I was just thinking that it was about this time last year that I got the initial call to New York, and thanks to my dear old blog, yes indeedy, it was this very day. That little email requesting my application came outta the blue on January 23rd, and look how things turned out.

What a year! I still can't believe I got the job. Such a lucky girl! Just goes to show - ya' never know what might be just around the corner (or tucked into the next email).

Monday, January 22, 2007

"Who Threw the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy's Chowder?" goes digital

Finally, a way to presto-chango old vinyl to digital. Seems someone's gone and invented a turntable that transfers old LPs to MP3 files and CDs - and (get this), for only a couple hundred bucks!

Imagine - all those records coming out of storage (skips, tics, and all), and finding new life. This is a godsend, since I have albums that will never be mass-produced on CD or zapped up for download. No. Really. Trust me. When I cast my mind back to all the weird rock-and-roll, folk, and soundtrack albums I have boxed up - well! Why, getting to hear the obscure Julie Andrews LPs alone would be worth the $150-200 for one of these new gizmo turntables. Sign me up!

Seems the trickiest part to the whole transfer process is cleaning the LPs beforehand. I see big bucks in marketing "album-cleaning kits." Anybody wanna get in on the ground floor of that little gold mine with me?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Happiness is a box (or two) of Thin Mints

OK. Enough with the bad cold and apartment search. What's really important is that it's Girl Scout cookie time. There's just something about winter and the taste of Thin Mints. Or Samoas. Or Trefoils. Or (insert your favorite GS cookie here). Shell out $3.50 a box and paradise is all yours. Mmmm.

I remember selling them door to door (for 50 cents a box - that's how old I am) in the neighborhood when I was a a Brownie and Girl Scout. And vying with other Scouts in school to see who could sell first to teachers. If I wanted to sell to Daddy's co-workers at TVA, I'd have to don my uniform and get down to his office to make the rounds. He wasn't one to just post the list at the water cooler, as many parents do today.

When Kate was in Scouts, I made her do the same thing - get her uniform on and show up to the office to sell cookies. She always sold more boxes per/person that folks who just posted the sign-up sheet with a no-show Scout. Really, who can resist a sweet faced little Brownie selling cookies? Hm?

As a Scout leader, I always got stuck with left-overs from the cookie sales, so I'd keep them in my office at Turner and let the crew know that they were there, but I expected a note saying what was taken and $2.50 payment. The system worked pretty well, believe it or not. I'd have guys coming to me in June asking if I still had a stray box or two of Samoas or Tagalongs. I coulda sold those for $10 a box, I bet.

I have my own Girl Scout cookie-eating technique: buy a quart of milk, sit down in front of the TV with your Thin Mints or Do-Si-Dos, and eat the whole box. That's right. Just eat the whole box. You're gonna do it anyway, and rationing yourself to 4 cookies a day for a couple of weeks only prolongs the guilt. My way lets you completely sate your craving, indulge in one big guilt-trip, and move on with life until the next Girl Scout cookie orgy. Mmmmmmm.

Monday, January 15, 2007

2 1/2 days into a head cold

Despite the coughs and sneezes swirling around me in the office, I have been a real healthy chick so far. I owe it all to clean living. OK, not really. How about lots of orange juice and hot tea? Anyway, I was fine and dandy until the moment I hit the subway after Grey Gardens Friday evening. Little throat tickle. Tiny cough. Uh-oh. Here it comes.

From that moment on I've felt as though my head is stuffed with cotton. I just want to stay in bed with a book and cup of tea. Thank goodness it's a holiday weekend and I have an extra day to pull myself together before tomorrow.

I'm staying inside today. Kissed a few apartment frogs on Saturday and Sunday - but today, as tempting as it is to get out on this dreary day and look at more dreary apartments, I'm nesting.

Ooops. Kettle's whistling. I feel sure that if I drink enough tea, the cotton in my head will evaporate. (Obviously, I'm delusional.)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Kissing frogs

My new term for looking for an apartment in New York is "kissing the frogs." As in, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince (aka, an affordable, safe, convenient place to live). Apartment hunting/finding is the only real downside to living in Gotham that I can see, but it looms large for me right now. I've been kissing frogs here since April, and I'm gettin' damn tired of it. I'm starting to feel right beat down.

The biggest dilemma that I must resolve is 1) Do I stay in Manhattan, convenient to work, theatre, Central Park - the cool stuff - and settle for a small, weirdly-spaced apartment in a maybe not-so-nice neighborhood? or 2) Do I strike out for Queens or Brooklyn, get a bigger space in a maybe nice/maybe not-so-nice neighborhood, that's not as convenient to work, theatre, the cool stuff?

I think I'll know the place when I see it. Online, pictures of affordable, interesting apartments look very livable, but then I go see the real thing. Ouch! I've seen places that boast hardwood floors, when, in fact, the floors are linoleum with a parquet wood design! I've seen places with an "open kitchen," where the stove is in one corner of the living room, the sink in another, and the refrigerator in another. Oh, and make sure the place has a "full bath," otherwise you get a sink, toilet, and a little spot to hose yourself down.

And don't get me started on the hours I've waited for brokers and apartment managers after making firm arrangements for a meeting time. Not once, not once, has anyone shown up on time. And several times the person I'm meeting isn't the person with the key, so we have to wait even longer for some little upstart to cross town to let us in to see the dump.

I have seen some OK places (most notably the very first place I saw back in April, but the guy wouldn't rent to me because I didn't have a New York landlord letter - remember?), but nothing hit me as the big "I'm home!" place. I'm not expecting a Karen Walker apartment, or a Will Truman apartment, or a "Friends" apartment, or a Carrie Bradshaw place. (Where are these places???) But there are a few things I'm looking for.

I want a bedroom. And a living room. Two separate places. I want a full bath (meaning bathtub w/shower, etc.). I want a kitchen that is functional for cooking stuff (because I do cook) - it can open up into the living room, but all the major bits need to be in one area. I need big ol' windows. If there's a closet or two and maybe a little office alcove, even better. I need a place that I'm not ashamed to bring my family and friends to. I like a diverse neighborhood, but not one where I'm the only person of my persuasion (the middle-aged white woman kind). I want a place that doesn't require 3 subway changes and a crosstown bus to get to and from work. I want my subway stop to feel safe when I get home after the theatre. All for under $1750.

I know. Impossible. But I must carry on the frog-kissing exercise until I nail a place where I can bring up some of my poor little furniture currently languishing in a couple of storage units in Atlanta. Oh, to sleep in my own bed! Anyway, the search for the "prince" continues.

And if any of you readers lurking out there are from Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens (yes, I know you're there) and know of a candidate for my "prince," I want to hear from you pronto! Please?

More kissing the frogs tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Friday, January 12, 2007

An evening at Grey Gardens

Here's the great thing about living in New York. I got a book of coupons for discount theatre tickets in the mail yesterday. And when I say discount, I mean discount - half off. Hm. Some interesting choices, several things I wanted to see, but opted for my Number 1 choice, Grey Gardens. Went online, entered the discount code, and started checking dates and seats (best available, you bet). Up pops Row G Seat 2 at good old Walter Kerr Theatre - that's 6 rows back, on the aisle, baby - for Friday Jan. 12. Did I take 'em? You bet your sweet weird aunt I did!

Now, see, I could do that because a) the tickets were wonderfully affordable and b) I live in New York!

Long, long ago, I posted about Grey Gardens (October 6, 2005, in fact) and how I was looking forward to its trek to Broadway. The new musical is taken from the 1975 classic documentary about Big Edie and Little Edie Bouvier Beale, Jackie Kennedy's outrageous aunt and cousin. If you haven't seen it - well, what are you doing sitting here reading this? Get thee to a video store! (Occasionally, it pops up on Turner Classic Movies, too. Be on the look-out.) Don't know if you can sit through it, though, because this is one odd pair of cat-ladies. Whoo-eee!

And the musical absolutely captures the real stuff of the film. Christine Ebersole plays Big Edie in Act I (1941) and Little Edie in Act II (1973). Her Little Edie is spot on - complete with the weird clothing configurations (celebrated in the song "The Revolutionary Costume for Today") and the bizarre accent. The whole cast is great (even the tiny Jackie Bouvier and her little sister Lee) - and it was a larger cast than I was expecting. Trouper John McMartin plays Big Edie's father in the first act and Norman Vincent Peale in the second. You'll just have to see the show for that to make any sense. And I think it helps to watch at least part of the documentary first, as well.

In short, fa-ha-bu-lous! And I was six rows back, practically in the center! Yowser!

Oh - and on the way out, brushed past Laura from last season's Project Runway. She looked so familiar that it didn't register with me who she was until she got a few steps behind me. Red hair pulled back in that sticky-out little ponytail and her signature high-waisted black dress. And that's the other great thing about being in NYC. Da peoples.

Celebrating 25 Years of Snow Jam '82 Tall Tales

Gather 'round, chirruns, and I'll tell you about an incredible happenstance that took place 25 years ago this very day. It was dubbed "Snow Jam" by a local pundit, for reasons that will become clear to those of you who didn't experience it.

January 12, 1982. Typical winter day in Atlanta. Temperature in the high 30's/low 40's. As far as I can remember, if there was talk of impending snow, it certainly didn't set off the usual Atlanta stampede to the grocery store for milk and bread - not that morning, anyway. We were all busy little beavers in the production department at Turner Broadcasting - taping shows in the studio, editing promos, writing copy, having production meetings. Life as usual, in other words.

Seems like about mid-morning word got out that snow was headed our way, but we all pooh-pooh'd it. Just the weather-folk stirring up the usual hype. Back to work, everyone!

Around 1PM, word came down that all but essential personnel needed to leave for home immediately. (Essential personnel in television is a grey area, but it certainly included engineers and Master Control Room folks that kept "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Three Stooges" running 24/7 on TBS.) It had, indeed, started to snow. And snow. And snow. We still didn't take the thing very seriously, jaded TV folk that we were, and many of us left it a bit late for safe travel home.

The folks that left it too late have stories that grow on the Scandal-o-Meter by the year. Tales of bedding down together in hastily requisitioned hotel rooms near Turner or crashing in the studio are legendary, 'Nuff said about that.

I didn't leave it too late (not late enough to have to bunk with a co-worker, thank God) but got out around 3PM having been offered a ride by two hot-shots new to Atlanta from Kentucky. I left my car in the parking lot and climbed in with Gerald and Paul. Whoa, Nelly!

Immediately the hot-shot snow drivers from Kentucky realized that - uh-oh! - ice and a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam (that pesky cause-and-effect thing, see) made forward movement in a car truly impossible. After sitting on 14th Street headed west and moving about 6" in three hours, I said, "Ya' know. I can walk home faster that this car's moving. See ya' and good luck, guys. Thanks for the ride!"

Fortunately, I lived about two miles away, so I left the warmth of the car to try to fend off blowing snow and icy pavements, willing to do whatever it took to get me moving toward home. Yes, it was cold, and it was slippery. Had a couple of nasty spills, but my momentum certainly outpaced that of the motoring public. It was a long two miles. Took me almost two hours to slip-and-slide my way through my little front door. But, oh!, what a relief. (Found out later that Gerald and Paul didn't get home until early evening.)

Husband Jack almost didn't make it at all. He'd abandoned his car by the side of I-75 and had attempted to take a short-cut to a surface street near our house. Of course, between the freeway and the street was a sort of gully or small ravine - he got down it OK, but it took him hours to climb up the other side because of the ice. He finally crawled in around 8PM.

It continued to snow heavily for several days afterwards. I managed somehow to get back to Turner to put in a few hours (had to make sure "Winners" and "Nice People" - two silly magazine programs we produced - got on the air) and indulge in the free food that Ted (Turner) provided for all the folks that were living in the studio during those days.

Though the city was paralyzed, there was a general party atmosphere that lasted for days. One of my favorite stories is how a new Atlanta restaurant built a loyal clientele because of the storm. According to one of the founders of Longhorn Steakhouse:

" . . . there was a major snowstorm in Atlanta that brought the city to a halt, so we pulled a sign out front that said ‘Drinks $1 While It Snows.’ So all these people forced to pull over walked in ’til they filled the place up. And over the storm’s three days, the steaks plus the genuinely friendly atmosphere surprised people, generating loyalty.” That event—taking place January 12, 1982—became known as the “Snow Jam."

It was party party party, amidst the slippin' and slidin', with - of course - the obligatory "baby boom" hitting Sept-Oct. 1982. Ah, the stories. Believe it or not, I can't find a lot about Snow Jam on the internet, which surprises me since so many folks love to tell their tales. There are certainly no pictures. Hm. Send 'em if you've got 'em, people!

Cheers to Snow Jam '82! (Just remember: "What goes on in the snow, stays in the snow.")

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

We'll take a cup o' noodles, yet, for Olde Lang Syne

The ramen noodle inventor died Friday in Osaka, Japan. Believe it or not, those little dried noodles that come to life when you add hot water weren't thunk up by a bunch of hungry chemists in a laboratory (though they sorta taste that way). No, the curly pasta was invented by none other than Momofuku Ando, founder of Nissin Food Products Company. He didn't die of obesity - of living off ramen noodles - his heart finally gave out at the ripe old age of 96.

The New York Times gave the guy a huge chunk of yesterday's obit page, plus a light-hearted bit on the editorial/opinion page. So this was no small deal, the invention of ramen noodles. According to the NY Times:

Ramen noodles . . . are a dish of effortless purity. Like the egg, or tea, they attain a state of grace through a marriage with nothing but hot water. After three minutes in a yellow bath, the noodles soften. The pebbly peas and carrot chips turn practically lifelike. A near-weightless assemblage of plastic and foam is transformed into something any college student will recognize as food, for as little as 20 cents a serving.

Let's raise a Cup o' Noodles to the late Mr. Ando, for cheaply and fillingly feeding starving college kids everywhere! Cheers, Noodle Guy!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Chillin' at O'Hare

It's one of those up-and-back days. I had a 4-hour meeting in Chicago, so I made it a turn around run - early AM flight to O'Hare and mid-afternoon flight back to LaGuardia. Always tiring, but I'll be glad to be in NY when I wake up tomorrow. Still, it does tire one to do a day-trip.

So I'm sitting at the gate waiting for the plane to show up to wing me back to Gotham - a good opportunity to make a few airport observations.

Why does it come as a shock to people - after all the constant, drumbeat of publicity - that yes, you have to take your shoes off, yes, you have to take the laptop out of the case, no, you can't take that bottle of water through the security checkpoint, yes, those small shampoos and liquids have to be in a plastic bag. Get with the program, people! Watch the news! Double-check with the airlines before bogging down the security line!

Why would public restroom designers put the coat hook on the wall behind the toilet, directly over the loo? Help me see the logic in that. And no, I didn't drop my coat into the water, but only because I was extra-double careful. What were they thinkin'?

Why would the newstand only sell extra-large, double-size candy bars and not regular sized ones? Mo' money, to be sure, but who wants to be seen tearing into a great honkin' bar of chocolate? Not that I'm opposed to great honkin' bars of chocolate, but it is the New Year and we do have resolutions to keep, despite last evening's post. Just a small little nibble for me right now, please. (And I'll put that $5 away for something else.)

And I'm sitting across from a young couple right now heavily engaged in PDA (public display of affection). Oh, those young whippersnappers. Get a room! Hope they're not sitting anywhere near me on the flight home!

Maybe I'll go grab that big ol' candy bar, anyway.

Monday, January 08, 2007

I've found my new exercise regime

And a-one, two, lift that fork. One, two, take a bite. . .

How I get my news

If if weren't for my little sister on the left coast, I'd never know about the big stories happening in New York.

Got a call from her this morning, asking, "Can you breathe?"

"Um. Yeah. Why?"

"Gas leak in Manhattan," she reports.

Also got calls from her when that dentist blew himself up in his apartment a few months ago and when the baseball player's plane crashed into the apartment building. Here I sit, Midtown Manhattan - the thick o' things - and I have to get my New York news from Sister in California!

Maybe New Yorkers just take things in stride (ignoring things like gas leaks and crashing airplanes - ho-hum). Maybe. Or maybe it's just that I'm hard at work, clueless as to catastrophes swirling my way.

At any rate, thanks, Sis, for letting me know what's going on just outside my 6th floor window on Second Avenue!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Truthiness has been Plutoed

"Truthiness," the wonderful word created by Stephen Colbert in 2005 to describe "what one wishes to be the truth regardless of the facts," has been replaced by a new Word of the Year. The American Dialect Society has chosen "plutoed" as the 2006 Word of the Year - "plutoed," as in what happened to that sweet little planet that found itself no longer a planet. Demoted, out in cold space, no longer elevated to the realm of planet, but just a little lump o' rock in the universe. "Plutoed."

Seems plutoed beat out "climate canary," "macaca/macaca moment," "YouTube," "surge," and "flog."

There were other categories besides the top honor, including "Most Outrageous" ("Cambodian accessory" - Angelina Jolie's adopted son) and "Most Euphemistic" ("waterboarding").

The ADS didn't go into any detail on people or things that were actually plutoed last year (besides the planet, I mean). First thing that comes to my mind is the Republican Congress. Plutoed, for sure.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Mountain Rainbow (not New York City)

Lovely shot of today's rainbow in Blue Ridge, Georgia
(courtesy of Bro Bill). Make a wish, then go for the gold!
It's Friday!

Locked in an apartment in Harlem

Here's a little New York apartment-hunting tale for you.

I'm on a serious mission trying to find a permanent home - well, as permanent as a NYC renter can be - so that I can finally move my stuff up from Atlanta and sleep on my own sweet bed. I'm looking on my own but also with a broker, because that's what everybody says I should do.

Melissa, my broker, seems really nice - not at all like the one I tried to work with back in April. We scheduled a two-apartment go-see for Wednesday lunchtime. I grabbed Boss Lady's assistant, Lisa, since she's a native New Yorker and might have a more genuine take on things than yours truly. (OK, that, plus the Boss Lady's in St. John's right now and won't miss Lisa in the middle of the day.)

The first apartment we looked at was OK, but weirdly arranged, as NYC apartments are wont to be. So, no.

Next we ventured 'way, 'way up into Harlem - sorta mid-to-east Harlem, but farther up than I'd been. Now, I'm open to to Harlem, friends. East Harlem and Spanish Harlem - as long as we keep it under, say, 120th Street - is OK with me. This place, however, was at the corner of 125th and Park - a very interesting 'hood.

A street vendor had James Brown music blaring (no complaints from me, baby - I love JB's music) and was selling all sorts of memorabilia. There was a new Body Shop across the street (always a good sign). The building itself, however, was totally, frighteningly ugly. Still, why not give the place a look, eh?

Well, the actual apartment was lovely - lots of light, big windows, huge kitchen, beautiful real inlaid parquet floors. Bathroom was fine. Only one closet - major problem, but plenty of room for storage units in the kitchen. Oh. And the rent was extremely reasonable. However, I was sure I wouldn't take the place, with the neighborhood and building being so iffy.

Lisa, Melissa, and I start to leave, and lo! and behold, the front doorknob wouldn't budge! We could lock and unlock the deadbolt, but the knob itself had a lock as well that seemed glued shut. We had the keys with us, but there was no way for us to unlock with the key from the inside. We were, in short, locked in. Each of us gave the knob a try, to no avail.

Melissa called the landlord and several others to see if they could let us in from the outside. A flurry of phone calls. The guys on the other end of the line throught, of course, that we were just three dumb broads who couldn't figure out a doorknob! They took their sweet time coming to our rescue - over an hour, in fact.

We cooled our heels in the apartment and listened to James Brown telling us how good he felt from the street below the front windows. Having just lived through my Twilight Zone marathon, I was convinced this was a Rod Serling experience, and that when we finally opened the front door, it would be 1945 or something.

Finally, the landlord came, and we showed him the problem . He couldn't turn the knob from the inside, either, so nyeh, nyeh, nyeh. When we stepped outside after our Harlem lock-in, it was 2007, not 1945 (or was it????), so the Twilight Zone theory was shot.

The New York adventure continues . . .

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bank Rant #4793

I always seem to be complaining about banks, but if they would just behave I wouldn't have to take them to task so often. Hmph.

Here's the latest "grrrrrrr" against Bank of America. Sold the house. Got a pittance, in the form of a check (not a BoA check). Knowing BoA's policy of holding check deposits for, oh, say, 40 days or so, daughter and I decided to cash the darn thing and put folding money into dear old BoA. Well, we went to two different branches of the originating bank, but, it being the last biz day before Christmas, neither branch had enough cash on hand (so they said) to cover the full amount.

"Fine," sez I. "Give me $x in cash and generate a cashier's check for the balance, just so's I can get some of it to clear Bank of America" Done.

Cash and cashier's check duly deposited at a branch of BoA well before 2pm on Dec. 22. Deposit slip showed that, indeed, a hold was put on the check but that funds would be available on Dec. 27. Fine.

Dec. 27. No funds show up. Next day, I get a letter from BoA saying that a further hold had been put on the check (remember, it's a cashier's check - good, good, good) until January 3. Huff. But OK.

January 3. Still no funds. Call BoA again. Woman started quoting all sorts of regulations, saying BoA was legally within their rights, blah-blah-blah. Seems the "funds release" was rejected (by BoA, mind you, not the originating bank) - no reason given. Funds not available until Feb. 7.

February 7!! What? Why? No reason.

So this morning I call the originating bank. No problems with a check. It's a cashier's check and will be honored anytime. The guy I spoke to was nice and said BoA had lots of problems. "Have someone from BoA call me to verify."

Fine. Called the branch of BoA where I deposited the check. Woman on the other end of the line couldn't figure out why the check would still be on hold. She makes a phone call. Calls me back - couldn't get check released, all by procedure, doncha' know. She gives me another guy's phone number to see if he can authorize release of - did I mention? - a cashier's check. Well, of course, that guy's in a meeting. Will call me back. Sure. Just see if I don't call every hour on the hour for him.

What's a person to do? I haven't banked with BoA for long - just since moving to NYC, and only because there is no SunTrust Bank in New York. Sigh. But if I ever get this issue resolved, it's bye-bye BoA and hello Washington Mutual (I think).

How can a bank refuse to release funds for a cashier's check? Especially when the originating bank is willing and ready to make it good? How can my account be held hostage for so long, for no reason?

I tell ya', there's a special level of Dante's hell for these people. A pox on all their houses. Bah!

Who stole my banner?

My distinctively adorable blog banner, designed by blog-bud Christa, has been notably absent for the past couple of days. I checked Blogger's template area and everything seems to be there. Any ideas?

Well, if you see someone else toting Shorty's banner, bop 'em over the head, make 'em walk the plank, and return me ould flag, please.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year's in The Twilight Zone

I spent New Year’s weekend in The Twilight Zone. Thanks to Sci Fi Channel, the way I now ring out the old and ring in the new involves vegging out in my flannel pjs, drinking endless cups of tea, ordering out take-away food when the hunger pangs strike, and watching episode after episode of the Rod Serling classic. Talk about addictive!

There are so many reasons to love The Twilight Zone, I don't know where to begin. First and foremost is the writing – great story-telling, with a sly way of pulling you along - even though you know that things probably aren’t what they seem, and then – bam! – a twisty, unexpected, yet winkingly wry ending. It does not get any better than that! Tight little tales that stand up, even in today’s oh-so-smart-ooh!-aren’t-we-clever world.

Another reason to watch: the showcase of stars, many of whom were unknowns when they did TTZ. Robert Redford, Charles Bronson, Carol Burnett, Lee Marvin, Roddy McDowell, Dennis Weaver, Donald Pleasance, Robert Duvall, Julie Newmar, William Shatner, and Burt Reynolds all appear very fresh-faced. Even old pros like Mickey Rooney, Gladys Cooper, Wilfred Hyde-White, Agnes Moorhead, Ann Blyth, Joan Blondell, and Buster Keaton show up occasionally.

For many of the episodes, I can pinpoint where I was when I first saw them. TTZ ran on Friday nights during my prime slumber party and spend-the-night-at-a-friend's-house days, so I associate certain shows with certain parties or friends. Example? The night I sat around the TV (black and white, of course) with Debbie Goff's family for the famous (and my favorite) "To Serve Man" episode. Were we shocked at the ending! Ha!

It's hilarious to watch all the spaceship/planetary travel and futuristic episodes. The clothes! The technology! The extra-terrestrials! Still, the stories are good and you always get that little twist at the end.

I'm glad The Twilight Zone marathon has ended, or I'd still be in my jammies waiting for Burgess Meredith's glasses to break or Billy Mumy to get a phone call on his toy telephone from his dead grandma. Happy New Year, Rod. In the Twilight Zone.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Resolved . . .

I'm-seriousI'm not much for New Year's resolutions, but a couple of things have been nudging at me, so I'll give 'em a try. They are small things that may or may not make much of a difference in my life, but at least I'll be able to check them off a list and feel as though I'm accomplishing something when I start drowning in the Sea of Overwhelm. Here goes:

1. Count my steps. Yup. Ordered a pedometer the other day, and it should arrive by the end of the week. I've always been a walker (ask anyone who knows me) and have been curious about how much I do walk in a day. Rumor has it, one should try for 10,000 steps a day. I've no idea what my daily count is, but I want to know.

2. Rediscover Walter. The book I started writing two years ago really stalled out in 2006, due mainly, I think, to my move to NY and the other big changes in my life. Add that to the fact that I've lost a good chunk of what I wrote at the end of 2005 (maybe the loss is for the good), and I haven't had the heart to begin again. But now it's time to return to Walter's life and begin again, if that's what's called for. I will try to write a little every day.

3. Hand-write a note or letter to someone at least once a week. When Mother died in 2004, I was so lifted up by the hand-written cards and notes I received in the mail from friends, most of whom didn't know Mother at all. For a few months after that, I was diligent in writing a note to at least one person a week - a birthday card, a get-well message, a congratulations note, whatever. It was tough at first, getting back into the habit of handwritten - as opposed to email - correspondence, but I soon re-mastered it. I will go to the post office on Wednesday (I think it's closed tomorrow in honor of Gerald Ford) and get some great stamps, so that I'll be ready to roll.

That's it. That's as much as I can commit to right now, and I'll be lucky to keep up with these. I do not resolve to lose weight, eat right, or make more money. If any of that happens, well and good, but I'm not going to beat myself up over it. I will do my job to the best of my ability, maintain old friendships and crank up a few new ones, and try not to succumb to cynical pessimism (though, oh!, how easy that would be).

New York New Year

Didn't see the ball drop in Times Square, but ol' Bails and I hoofed down 5th Avenue and followed the crowds into Central Park, where we saw some mighty fine fireworks and a goofy Midnight Run road race.

Cheers to all!