The Move is Definite–Keys on My Ring

Susie and I went to a morning workshop at church yesterday, and, after it ended, I met our new landlord in the parking lot.  There was a very brief ceremony–I reached into my wallet and pulled out a money order for the February rent, and he handed me two keys, freshly cut at Ace Hardware.  Steph, Susie, and I are now–however briefly–legally living in two places, a sign of look-at-me American affluence.  As she describes in her blog, we will be making the actual move to our new place in Clintonville on Friday the 13th, so I can take advantage of a four-day weekend.  (I’m taking leave on the 13th, and the 16th is Presidents’ Day weekend.)  We’ve begun packing–friends have come to the house with carloads of boxes of various sizes and shapes.  I try to bring home what I can from work, but half of the boxes are marked "State Property" and can’t leave the building, and there are limits to how many I can take on the bus.  I was at Family Dollar yesterday, in a futile attempt to buy rock salt, and was so disappointed about their not having any that I forgot to ask for boxes.

I don’t anticipate my office being that hard to pack up.  As you may remember from the pictures I posted in here last summer, most of my books are in milk-crate bookshelves, so all I have to do is carry them.  My bookcases are plastic and can come apart.  The giant desk, I am leaving behind.  Moving it to the office in the first place nearly resulted in slipped disks and hernias–it was kind of like a ship in a bottle.  Steph is giving me her desk and file cabinet.  I am both dreading and looking forward to emptying the drawers.  (Last year, I acquired the habit of idly pitching empty pill bottles into one drawer as I finished them.  The casual observer glancing at the drawer would think I was a combination of Elvis and Robert Downey, Jr.)  I once had a typical bohemian makeshift desk–an old door that I put across two sawhorses, but when I got into my full Pete Townshend typing mode, the door bounced as much as a diving board.

My new office will be in the basement, so I’m literally turning into an underground writer.  The less external stimuli I have, the more productive I think I can be.  There are windows at eye level, but I seem to remember they’re pretty grimy, so I won’t be as prone to daydream.

Steph is at church, knitting afghans for Appalachian families.  Susie and I are at the Whetstone Library–a friend of ours is taking her to the Ohio State women’s basketball game at the Schottenstein Arena (tipoff time is at 4).

Any of my loyal readership in the Columbus area willing to lend a hand with the use of a pickup truck to help move boxes to the new place?  That’ll be less we’d have to pay the professional movers.

Cold Weather Be Damned, I’ve Been Walking!

I’m proud of the fact that I have done a fair amount of walking this weekend.  (The weekend isn’t over yet–I have tomorrow off because of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, and I plan to be walking with my friend Scott in the afternoon, one of the rare times we get to walk together during the daytime.)

I went with Susie to and from the Franklinton library (two or three blocks each way), to Family Dollar to get her new pre-paid cell phone (she ended up buying a NET10 model), and then on to the gift shop at Mount Carmel West Hospital so she could buy a new Webkins doll.  I left her back at the library while I ran to Herbert’s Market, the little corner grocery at the corner of Sullivant and S. Glenwood, to buy bologna, bread, milk, and eggs for dinner.

And today after church, we planned to go to the Whetstone Library, which is almost exactly one mile from the Unitarian Church.  Steph and Susie went on Project Mainstream, while I went ahead of them on foot.  It was straight down N. High Street, and downhill most of the way.  The temperature has been in the 20s today, so my fingers and toes weren’t freezing to the point of immobility, and I really didn’t feel like I just had to get indoors and into the heat right then or else freeze to death.

I didn’t feel that way last night when Steph and Susie asked me to go out to Tim Horton to buy Timbits.  That turned out to be a futile mission, because I got to Tim Horton just after 9, when they took drive-through window customers only.  They wouldn’t serve me at the window, since I was on foot.  (Most places are that way, although I have stood in line at bank drive-through windows and no one has said a word.)

Elsewhere in this blog I wrote about a family trip in the summer of 1978, when we were going to see my step-grandparents at their home in the exciting metropolis of Spiceland, Indiana.  I got enough of my family very fast, and always did, so I escaped them by boldly deciding to walk to New Castle, which was the next biggest town.  It was almost eight miles north on Indiana 3, but it got me away from them, even if I was somewhat sunburned and aching by the time I stopped at a McDonald’s in New Castle for lunch.

Some snow is falling right now, but it’s not threatening visibility, and the wind doesn’t seem to be blowing much, if at all. 

Susie Buys Her First Cell Phone With Her Own Cash

Susie and I are at the Franklinton library while Steph teaches a voice lesson.  A little later this morning, I’m taking her to Family Dollar so she can buy herself a cell phone.  (Steph and I finally paid her all the back allowance we’ve owed her for weeks!)

Last month, we laid down the law with Susie–if she wants to have a cell phone, she needs to buy it and pay for it herself.  We were including a line for her on our Revol account, but in the space of two weeks, she managed to break one (insurance and loyalty discounts enabled us to replace it for about $5 and change), and then leave its replacement at the library and lose it about 10 days later.

My hope is that since it comes from her own pocket this time, she’ll do better with hanging onto it.  This also means we’re doing the prepaid option.  Our next stop from here is Family Dollar, so she can buy a TracFone.  (One of her friends has one, and they seem to be quite popular in this neighborhood, especially their annoying walkie-talkie feature.  Susie will have no need, as far as I can see, for the walkie-talkie.)  At one time, I would have suggested PagePlus, but I’ve had back experiences with their phones dying 1-2 days after buying them at the corner markets in this neighborhood.

We watched Ghost last night, and I really enjoyed it.  (Since Patrick Swayze will become one before long, it seemed appropriate.)  I’ve never cared much for movies about the supernatural, with very few exceptions, but this was excellent.

I’m nearing the end of Andrew Vachss’ Another Life, and he has said this is the final book featuring his recurring character Burke, the institution-raised thief and con man who lives to hunt down and destroy child abusers.  Burke is not a likable character–other than his hatred of child abusers and those who prey on children sexually, he is totally lacking in scruples–but his loyalty to his “family of choice” endears him to me.  (His “family of choice” is a ragtag gang of criminals who live below the radar in New York with him.)  If you’re new to the works of Andrew Vachss, don’t start with Another Life.  Start at Flood, the first one, and read the series in order.

Unwinding Pre-Church

Steph is too tired, and the bug that made Susie feel crummy came back for an encore this morning, so I’m at Panera across from Our Lady of Peace Church, eating a bagel, drinking a small river of Diet Pepsi, and blogging before I head over to First UU for church.  I’m here alone today.

I barely left the house yesterday because Steph and I gave the living and dining rooms a long overdue cleaning and rehab.  One of the benefits was that we found Clara, the smallest of the nested wooden Russian dolls a friend of mine sent Susie from Moscow several years ago.  (Susie named the outermost one Mrs. Doll, and, in descending order, the smaller ones are Sarah, Mara, Cara, and Clara).  Clara had rolled under the couch while Susie and her friends were playing with the dolls, and she had been MIA ever since.  (I had been afraid she’d rolled down the furnace register, so I was relieved that she was safe and sound, albeit a little dusty.)

I left the house yesterday to go to the post office (I bought stamps and post cards) and to Family Dollar, and in the evening to take Susie to her friend Rosemary’s for a birthday party.  (It was at Skate America, and all the kids were meeting at Rosemary’s house beforehand.)  Steph and I ate some leftover spaghetti and watched Fay Grim, which I liked much better this second time around.  Steph had started to watch it under protest, mainly because she couldn’t stand its predecessor, Henry Fool, but she ended up thinking it was fantastic.  Susie came back, far overstimulated, from Skate America shortly before 10:30.  As soon as Fay Grim ended, I walked over to Rosemary’s house and got there just as the kids were returning.  (Seeing James Urbaniak, who played Simon in both films, on the season premiere of Without a Trace whetted my interest.)

My office is the next big cleaning project I want to tackle.  I’m sorry to report it no longer looks like the pictures I posted here last June.  I won’t post pictures of how it looks now, but I want to have it cleared before NaNoWriMo begins in November, so it won’t become a dawdling tactic.  ("I’ll get to work on the novel, but first I want to clean this shithole up!" has become a familiar stalling tactic.  "As soon as I get organized" is another one I use quite often–and waiting for me to get organized is as realistic as leaving the porch light on for Jimmy Hoffa.)

I was quite disappointed that McCain decided to debate Obama after all.  It would have been such a wonderful visual showing Obama, Jim Lehrer, and an empty podium.  As for the bailout, these bankers should be left to stew in their own juices–you made your bed, now sleep in it.  I feel like batching up all our bills and outstanding debts (and they are legion!) and mailing them to Congress and the White House to apply for a no-strings-attached bailout.

P.S.–I accidentally erased Without a Trace before I had watched half of it.  Any of you beloved readers still have a tape of it?

Feast or Famine

As cliched as it is, that is the perfect way to describe the workload today at the Industrial Commission.  Either we’re flooded with work, or else we sit around on our hands all day doing nothing.  I can’t complain; I was pretty busy in the morning.  I transcribed my least favorite physician, a Dr. Marblemouth in Cleveland, and typed a few Statements of Fact.  My co-word processor didn’t arrive until after 2, so I worked on her lump-sum advancements.  (This isn’t as exciting as it sounds, believe me!)

I even looked forward to batching, my least favorite task.  Batching means taking packets of original dockets and making sure they’re in good enough condition to be scanned.  If not, I have to Xerox them.  That’s never very much fun.  Hospitals used to love using pink onionskin forms, and these things have been around so long they look like the Dead Sea Scrolls.  I made the mistake of putting one through the automatic document feeder on the machine–it, of course, tore it to shreds.  So I had to do some emergency surgery with Scotch tape before it was workable.

I’m splurging and ordering something from for the first time in eons.  It’s a two-disk DVD of Se7en, the monumental suspense film starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman.  I ordered the New Line Platimum edition, which has many behind-the-scenes anecdotes and pictures–including how the directors went about creating the many bizarre handwritten notebooks that are found in the serial killer’s apartment.  I’m sending a money order, so I expect the package to be in my mailbox in about 10 days.

Se7en is one of my favorite movies.  It’s not for the faint of heart, but the gore and gruesome scenes are not as overused as they are in any of the CSI shows.  (CSI makes me nostalgic for Quincy: That was about a coroner, and yet you never once saw a corpse in the picture.)

I’m at the Franklinton library.  Susie needed a red wig for a Hallowe’en skit she’s doing at school tomorrow.  I learned this interesting fact at dinner, so we came here via Family Dollar, where we bought an Ariel wig for her.  (Family Dollar is where we buy pet food, and where I buy the composition books that I use for diaries.)  Looking at that wig, I wonder: Does the Little Mermaid also wear an algebra?  (Get it?)

Orientation at Highland Elementary

Yesterday was my orientation as a tutor for Columbus Reads.  The school that the Industrial Commission and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has “adopted” is Highland Avenue Elementary, which is located pretty close to where we live.  Our house is in Franklinton, just west of downtown Columbus.  Since it flooded every year (pre-floodwall), it became known as The Bottoms.

On the other hand, Highland is on the “high land”, in a neighborhood called The Hilltop.  The school is just around the corner from a fire station, so hearing the sirens and the station loudspeaker adds a quaint ambience to the learning experience.

It’s going to be a challenge, especially for a rookie like myself.  A third of the student body does not speak English–they’re either Hispanic or Somali.  I have never taken a foreign language (a regret I’ve had since I graduated from high school), so I cannot help in the ESL program.

I had some excitement when I got home from work.  Steph is taking Susie, even as we speak (6:56 EDST, per my Casio Data Bank watch) to an audition for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at the Davis Center for the Performing Arts.  I knew I’d be on my own for dinner, and I started some of the chores on the list she left on the dining room table.  I had just gotten to the Franklinton library and was logging onto a computer when my cell phone rang.  It was Steph.  Just then she learned they needed a photo of Susie for the audition.  I ransacked a desk drawer or two and came up with one taken at Meijer’s when she was in kindergarten or the first grade, in between losing her baby teeth and the beginning of the permanent ones.  I am now at the Main Library, pounding this poor keyboard to burn off excess energy and consume the adrenaline that’s coursing through my system.

My friend Pat C. gave me a Palm III Palm Pilot yesterday.  He and I go back a ways–he read and stood up for both Steph and me at our wedding in 1996 (he was memorable for wearing a kilt), and I did the same when he married his wife Tanya the following year.  Tanya is a midwife, and was on hand at Grant Hospital for Susie’s birth (nine years ago as of 10/6), and the 36 God-awful hours of labor that preceded it.

I asked him if he had a PalmPilot he had outgrown and wanted to sell me.  He volunteers at a non-profit computer group called FreeGeeks, and he said I could have a Palm III if I wrote some ad copy for them.  So we met yesterday for lunch at McDonald’s, he gave me the Palm III (which is Amish compared to other Palms and BlackBerries, but it does all I’d ever need it for), and told me it needed batteries.  So, I stopped at Family Dollar and bought two AAA batteries.

And the damn thing seems to be DOA!  I E-mailed palmOne to see what repairing it would cost, and the conservative estimate was $169!  And I could buy a brand-new one for $99 plus shipping and handling.  I’m hoping that there’s some miracle I can pull off to get the Palm III working.  (I had a PalmPilot for awhile, but one of the kids in Steph’s children’s choir five-fingered it when we lived on Avondale Avenue.)  I know that PalmPilot has passed into the language, much like Xerox and Kleenex and Scotch tape, but the equipment I am describing was made by palmOne.

If anyone has a Palm they’re willing to part with cheap, please E-mail me!