All Within Reach

Pictures of our new place will appear soon in this blog.  There are two reasons why they have yet to appear.  One is that Susie’s and my new, beloved half double is still quite cluttered and disorganized.

The other is that the cord connecting my digital camera to the laptop seems to have been a casualty of the move.  Replacing it cost me less than three dollars online, and there was an email yesterday saying it was in transit.  So, even if I had taken pictures of my new abode, they are hermetically sealed in my camera until this new cord arrives.

Because of Columbus Day, I have a three-day weekend, and my numero uno project will be getting the place in order.  It still won’t be guest-ready for awhile, but I will be able to share some pictures quite soon, if I can stay motivated and focused enough to keep working.

I was not a little kid let loose in Santa’s workshop when I went to the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio last Friday, so I am still furnishing the place piecemeal.  On Saturday, my friend Steve and I made a few trips back and forth from my former place in Weinland Park (that has such a beautiful ring to it!), and between trips, he helped me move some of the more cumbersome furniture.  Thanks to him, Susie’s and my desks are now in place, as is my dresser.  It took him, Susie, and me, working and sweating together, to get my king-sized mattress up the narrow stairway.  (Once on the second floor, moving it into my bedroom was easy.)  During moves, I have said (and heard) that recurring reassurance, “This isn’t heavy, it’s just bulky [or unwieldy],” but I didn’t dare insult Steve’s intelligence by saying that, especially when it came to the desks.

As I started to organize my study, I cursed myself for not taking the long table with me from Weinland Park.  I paced the small room (where I am now writing), thinking about what to do in the meantime until I made a trip to Goodwill to buy a table.  Then, I made my first trip to the basement since the leasing agent walked me through the place the first time.  I wasn’t sure why I was going down there.  Susie and I hadn’t taken anything down there.

Soon, I was glad I made the trip.  I found an old door leaning against the basement wall, and hauled it up to the office.  I stacked milk crate bookcases two high on the left and the right, and put the door across them.  I plan to go to Family Dollar and buy a folding chair for Susie’s and my desks, but in the meantime I am sitting on a small wooden workbench that I found downstairs.

The people who live on N. 4th St. between Maynard and Hudson must have had a good laugh early yesterday evening.  Susie is currently sleeping on a twin mattress on the floor, since the Furniture Bank didn’t have a box spring.  While I was between projects at work yesterday, I sneaked a peek at Columbus Underground‘s Website, just in time to see a notice from a woman pop up.  She had a queen-sized box spring free for the taking, and she lived in Clintonville.  She had brought it from her previous apartment, and found her stairs were too narrow for the mattress to fit.

Three or four emails later, I was headed north on N. 4th St. wheeling a dolly a friend loaned me.  (This friend works at Lowe’s, so obtaining dollies is as easy as my bringing home pens and tape from my job!)  This person’s house was several blocks north of Maynard, north of Hudson and near the rim of the Glen Echo Ravine.  She and I managed to get the queen-sized mattress onto the sidewalk, and she centered it onto the dolly.

And then the fun started.  She was trying–mostly in vain–to suppress her laughter as I made my way back toward Maynard.  I decided to pull the dolly, holding the mattress up against it with one hand and letting it rest on my shoulders.  Pushing it ahead of me was out of the question–I would have no visibility.

The half mile distance never seemed so long.  The mattress was just too wide, so I had to stop and turn it sideways for telephone poles, or to avoid breaking limbs off small trees, or tearing off the mirrors on parked cars.  The mattress completely dwarfed the dolly.  (It was like when a friend and I moved a queen-sized box spring and mattress on the top of his small car, tied there only with bed sheets.  I’m sure we resembled a ladybug trying to carry a two-by-four.)

Crossing Hudson Street was a nightmare.  It is a major entryway to Interstate 71, so there is traffic almost constantly.  Many motorists stopped for red lights sat behind their steering wheels with dropping jaws looking at this bearded lunatic with his pathetic dolly and his gigantic burden.

The railroad bridge near the intersection of Hudson and N. 4th Sts.  (The bridge crosses above Hudson St.)  The picture is from Amymyou’s Photostream on Flickr.

I was frustrated enough to consider abandoning the box spring in the nearest obliging alley, trying to be as inconspicuous and innocent-looking as possible as I leaned it against someone’s garbage cans and then beat a hasty retreat, dragging a clattering metal dolly behind me.

A young (late teens, early 20s) couple walking their dog took pity on me.  The guy and I carried the mattress at waist level the two or so blocks (but never had two blocks seemed so long than it did last night!), and his girlfriend followed us with the dolly.

The box spring is on the front porch.  After I clear a path, I will make an attempt to get this unwieldy piece of furniture up to Susie’s bedroom, although I think I’m procrastinating because I’m afraid I’ll discover the same thing my benefactor did–that the stairs are too narrow, and this box spring can’t fold in two, the way a mattress can.

And if this turns out to be the case, the next step for the box spring is the Columbus Freecycle.

Susie turns 14 tomorrow.  She understands that her big gift was the new computer, replacing the one the thieves took.  She and I will split a small cake, and on Saturday I’ll take her to Studio 35 to see Star Trek II: Chekov Screams Again The Wrath of Khan.  I have already ordered a gift she has wanted for some time–a year of Seventeen–but the first issue has yet to arrive.

Despite my loathing of Bill O’Reilly, I am reading his current book, Killing Lincoln, mainly because any new book about the Lincoln assassination is a must-read for me.  Already his narrative style is starting to grate on me.  He has introduced Lincoln several times as “the man with 14 [or 13, or 12] days to live…”, which reminded me of a Discovery Channel show I liked, Final 24, describing the last hours of the lives of notable people, such as Jim Morrison, Hunter S. Thompson, and Nicole Brown Simpson.

Advertisements

Susie Sees Her New Home–Inside and Out

Around dusk last night, Susie and I took the bus from our soon-to-be-ex neighborhood (Weinland Park) so I could give her a brief tour of the half-double in Old North Columbus (known more informally as Baja Clintonville).  I was racing the sunset, and only expected her to see the exterior.  I won’t have the keys in my possession until a week from tomorrow, and we don’t officially live there until October 1.

Our timing was excellent.  We got off the bus and were walking westward on East Maynard, and the first thing I noticed was that our half double was blazing with light.  I looked up and I saw Jerome, the leasing agent I’ve been emailing, speaking with, and meeting with since the word go, as he crossed the street from his truck, paintbrush in hand.  I was glad to see him, and asked if I could give Susie a brief tour of her new home.  He said sure, so we went in.

Normally, a house full of empty rooms doesn’t attract much interest, but Susie walked from room to room, quite enthralled.  The fact that it’s not in Weinland Park is 95% of the charm, to be sure, but she was already mentally planning where her bedroom furniture will go in the new place.  (She’s decided she doesn’t want to have the head of her bed under the windowsill, because she’s tired of hitting herself in the head upon awakening.)  She took over the master bedroom when Steph moved out, but I’m reclaiming it in this new place.  All of the rooms smell like fresh paint, and Jerome said the only major project remaining was to stain and varnish the floors.  (I like hardwood floors, especially since I don’t own a vacuum cleaner at present.  There was shag carpeting on the upper floors when I took the first tour of the place, but it’s gone now.  That was mainly because the previous tenants had a big dog they let run wild–which may be okay if you live out in the country, but not in a half double in the big city.  The shag carpeting smelled of dog urine, but when I came to hand over the check for the deposit, the carpet was gone and the second floor deodorized.)

Susie and I spent the next hour at Kafé Kerouac, using their computers.  I thought about writing a blog entry last night, but I was using a computer that dropped its Internet connection whenever somebody sneezed, and a machine that was very slow to respond to anything I typed.  I am a very fast typist, and using that computer last night reminded me of what I heard about Linotype operators back in the days of molten lead and hot type.  The mark of a good linotypist was that he would have to stop and wait for the machine to catch up to him.  For me it was just frustrating.

We walked south on Indianola most of the way home.  The evening was young, and students are starting to return to Ohio State for the fall quarter, so there were students wandering around with cases of beer.  It was barely 11 p.m., and already quite a few of them were under the influence.

We began to smell smoke around Indianola and E. 11th Ave.  At first, it was a sooty smell, like someone had been barbequing and had removed the food from the grill.  But the smell kept getting more intense the further south we walked,  and before long I suspected there was probably a fire somewhere nearby.  We were close enough to campus for me to think at first it was someone being careless with an impromptu bonfire or couch-burning, but as we walked further from campus, we began heading east toward our house.

It says a lot about Weinland Park and how unsafe we feel when I told Susie we should walk toward the fire.  I knew we would be safe there, because a fire would have police officers and firefighters everywhere, so nothing could happen to us.  We were walking past St. Sophia Orthodox Cathedral at Indianola and E. 9th Ave. when I looked east and saw a column of black smoke rising up against the night sky.  I knew the fire had to be pretty much under control, because I saw two fire engines leaving the scene at a rather leisurely pace.  As we walked, I saw a few embers of flames glowing here and there on the roof of a building, and I guessed right away where the building was.

There was a 1969 comedy movie called If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium.  A similar phrase would be, “If it’s burning, this must be N. 5th St.”  (I’ve explained it before, but to avoid confusion: The numbered streets in Columbus are the exact opposite of Manhattan’s.  In Columbus, streets run north-south, avenues run east-west.)

And sure enough, a white frame duplex on N. 5th St. was on fire.  To my untrained eye, it looked like a total loss.  I’ve walked past it before, when headed toward OSU or anywhere else north of Weinland Park, and the doors were boarded up and the windows painted shut.  Whether this was arson or not, I have no idea.  Before I began typing this entry, I looked at The Columbus Dispatch‘s Website, and there was no story about it.  Fires on N. 5th St. no longer count as news.  My neighbor Rory’s blog hasn’t mentioned it yet, and he has had an ongoing series about Weinland Park fires.

Weinland Park’s official flag.    

Last night’s fire made me more thankful than ever that we will be leaving this dismal neighborhood.  During the year it has been home, I tried to reassure myself I was living there ahead of the curve.  (I have vague memories of when the Short North was a neighborhood no sane person would venture into after dark, and now it’s the trendiest neighborhood in Central Ohio.)  If anything, the neighborhood has deteriorated even further in the past year.  The drug peddling, the mugging, and the burglaries have become more brazen.

Susie wants out of Weinland Park as much as I do, and it is two weeks before we officially live in the ‘Ville again.  However, she did show a naivete about the neighborhood that almost made me laugh.  I went ahead and ordered two new laptops, and asked that they be shipped c/o a friend’s house–he works at home a lot, and his wife is usually home during the day.  I wondered about bringing them home to Weinland Park, and our neighbors seeing us bringing in new computers.  “We can do it while everyone is at work and school,” Susie suggested.

Work?  And school?  Weinland Park residents?

A Memorable 9/11 for Susie and Me

In perusing the blogosphere and Facebook posts today, it would almost seem like self-indulgent sacrilege to post anything other than reflections and reminiscences about the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  Maybe, like me, you are 9/11’d out.  I do not downplay the horror, bloodshed, and tragedy, but I write of personal matters today because it may be a little while before I will have access to a computer for blogging purposes.

Why?  Both Susie’s and my laptop computers, as well as our Wii console, were stolen last night/early this morning.  I am just thankful that Susie was not in town when it happened.  She was at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Dayton, at youth chaplain training.  It may be fortunate that I was not at home.  I was at a concert at the Dude Locker in Clintonville, and discovered my back door ajar and both computers missing upon my return.  (It shows how little I use the Wii–Susie noticed it was gone; I didn’t.)

The event finalized any lingering doubts that I have had about getting the hell out of Weinland Park.  I moved there last year with the same high hopes and enthusiasm as I did when we lived in Franklinton, eager to do good and go a step beyond the people who were full of solutions about a blighted area, retreating at 5 p.m. to the safety of Worthington or New Albany.  Now I see it’s an area where the children are out of control and where the civic leaders who see it as the next Olde Towne East seem to think of mugging, burglary, and drug pushing as performance art.

Happily, I can report that our exodus from Weinland Park is a fait accompli.  Soon after Susie came home from Dayton, I met a leasing agent and handed over a cashier’s check.  As of October 1, Susie and I will be returning to the ‘Ville (Clintonville).  I found a three-bedroom half double in Baja Clintonville, around the corner from the Maynard Avenue United Methodist Church.  The price is affordable, and the landlord has been hard at work on improvements in the week or two since I first looked at the place.  The previous tenants were two graduate students who liked to party and who must have thought it was bad karma to housebreak their dog, so the leasing agent, I think, was happy to be renting to a single parent and teenage daughter.

Aerial photograph of the general area where Susie and I will live.

The news about the burglary was pretty upsetting to Susie, so I was glad that I was able to offset with the news that our time in Weinland Park is very brief.  I think she had begun to despair of our ever getting out of there, and I admit that I was mysterious about the fact I was meeting with a rental agent this afternoon.

We don’t have the keys yet.  The owner still wants to do a little more work, but he will hand me the keys on the 25th (two weeks from today), and that is when the move-in process begins.  Since my soon-to-be-ex-landlord was not all that conscientious about keeping vermin at bay (the two- and six-legged variety), Susie and I will not be moving as much.  The biggest pain, as always, will be books.  (I have three milk cartons consisting of diaries alone.  You can imagine what the rest of the library is like!)

I am hoping the computers are insured.  I am buying them through a purchasing plan my union sponsors, and theft should be covered under that.  If not, back to the drawing board and start buying another computer.  This is the one time in my life I’ve been thankful for a dry spell, writing-wise.  I have to admit there is not much writing that was lost on my laptop.  I wrote The Sad Hospital on a typewriter, and my memoir about Robert Lowry (which has been in the home stretch for over a year and a half, “in measurable distance of its end,” to quote the telescreen announcer in 1984) exists in several incarnations, including a hard copy I printed out and an optical disk.  Susie, I am afraid, has lost several poems, stories, and projects with the theft of her machine.