Friday, May 21, 2010

Nice Chair

Ah! Remember the good old days of college? The days when you rented an apartment and filled it up with lots of stuff from salvation army or hand-me-downs or stuff you found "free" on the sidewalk? The days when someone offered you a thread-bare arm chair or La-Z-Boy that didn't work, and you jumped at the chance for front porch furniture? The days when having that couch on your front porch meant that you didn't need to fumble for your keys at 4:00 in the morning when sobriety was a distant distant memory? You could just pass out right there on that comfy couch and sleep it off til the morning. Or the afternoon. Or whatever.

Guess what my friends? Rejoice in knowing that the good old days are still alive and well! College students still do this. And, they do it A LOT in the Parkmerced Apartments. I am over the moon about it. (If sarcasm could actually drip from a sentence - please envision it dripped off the last one).

Good news is that in our particular little enclave of this massive apartment complex it is mainly families, kids, dogs, and cute little stoops where you can place your requisite potted plant. Nice. Friendly. Quiet. Grown-up. But, just a few short steps to some other sections of Parkmerced and I am telling you folks, we are in student housing for SF State University. (Which, as an aside, I would like to point out that SF is a CITY and not a STATE and therefore the whole name of the University is a little cattywhompus if you ask me).

Walking the dog out among the various sections of Parkmerced is like taking a little spin in my Wayback Machine. I think I recognized some porch furniture from a friend's apartment at Wittenberg from 1979. Seriously. I wonder how it made it out here? And yet, there it was with someone passed out on it at 11:00 in the morning. It was both perlexing and magical simultaneously.

It's been such a long time since I have been immersed this atmosphere. It hasn't changed much. Now I understand what the "real" folks who lived in the "real" houses nestled close to my own college probably felt like. What does it feel like? It feel like I am 30 years past wanting to see a naugahyde recliner on my neighbors front stoop. I don't care how "cool" it is.

Alas. But, students need a place to live too - - and given that this very very large apartment complex is within spitting distance of a poorly named University it makes perfect sense. And, the management does attempt to "zone" everyone in little pockets. The family pocket, the elderly pocket, the student pocket. If I were honest it's all very un-San Franciscan. All this segregation is surely against some city statute or two or eight of them. But, I don't think anyone here is complaining. Truthfully, I think we all like our pockets.

None of my immediate neighbors have miscellaneous indoor furniture in their outdoor areas. And, I suspect that the students are happy that they don't live next door to some Mom of four who is constantly getting in their face about their empties on the lawn where little Mable is playing.

Pockets work as long as everyone is happy with it. I know that I am.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lint me your ears...

First a quick update... Yes we are all moved in to our temporary digs over here at Parkmerced. Second, I will write more on that later. Third, I had to do my laundry in the neighborhood laundromat for the first time today. It was a little joke from hell.

The initial obstacle was getting in to the actual laundry facility. They give you a code. They do not tell you that you need to punch in the code 7,142 times before you can decipher the correct sequence of punching in said code, pushing unmentioned "entry" button and then jiggling the actual door handle. I should mentioned that the first 3,571 attempts were made while balancing a giant basket of laundry between hip and door. I thought that perhaps the smell of "boy laundry" was inhibiting my ability to crack the code issue. Turns out I was just stupid.

Second obstacle was purchasing a "laundry card." This little ingenious device is supposed to make your life easier by not having to carry your laundry AND a Brinks truck full of quarters with you. Yet, the purchase of the card took about 15 minutes and various swear words. I got the first card when we first got here on Saturday. That took 20 minutes and a shit-storm's worth of swearing. I promptly put it somewhere where I wouldn't forget it. I have no idea where it is. Some day, just around the time I pack to leave, I will find this lost card with $30 worth of quarters on it. The truncated 15 minutes today proves that I can be taught. It has yet to be determined whether or not I will lose this one. Time will tell.

Third obstacle - the rules of the Laundromat say that you are to "clean the lint traps before starting your load." What crackhead thought this was the way to do things? How about changing the rule to say "clean the lint traps AFTER you remove your clothes from the dryer"? Cause, let me tell you, I'm-a gonna haffta get myself some serious laundry-doing rubber gloves before I remove someone elses' whatnot from their lint traps again. The bits of fluff and clothes particles from an unknown person were bad enough, but there were some long dark hairs in one of the link traps and I as I cleaned it, my saliva thickened enough to start a pretty gosh darn scary gag reflex and I nearly hurled on my clean wet clothes.

Fourth obstacle - I returned to get my dry clothes to find that someone had unceremoniously dumped them in a pile on the folding table. It seemed that while the upper level dryers were vacant, a fellow laundry-user felt that taking my clothes from the lower dryer was the better solution than to using the upper dryer. On one hand, I can appreciate the challenges of the upper /lower dryer conundrum. I was faced with this hurdle myself. At the lofty height of 5'2" the upper dryer is not a optimum choice. I can't see the bottom of the drum and would need to snake my hand in and around above my head looking for the errant sock or panties that would have escaped the initial pile removal from the dryer. I either needed a step stool or the courage to snake around in there. I had neither nor wanted to procure either, so I did opt for the lower dryer.

Still, it would have never occurred to me to removed someone else's clean laundry from a lower dryer if an upper dryer was vacant and empty. What I didn't like about it was that a) the anal retent in me did NOT like that some nameless (and therefore creepy and contaminated) person touched my clean clothes, and b) that said clothes were now fully cooled, wrinkled and in a messy pile. Frankly, I felt like washing them all over again. I also entertained the idea of exacting some laundry-room revenge on the discourteous creature who expelled my clothes from the warmth of the drum. I thought that when I left I would just crack open the door to their dryer and leave their clothes in a moist semi-dry steamy state. This revenge would have a tri-fold effect. It would serve to cause permanent wrinkles in just about fabric type. It would financially penalize the perp since it would cost another $1 to start the beast again. And, it would mean that whoever did this would be $1 closer to having to reload their laundry card thereby wasting lots of time wrestling with the laundry card refiller machine.

In the end, I did nothing. I just stewed while I folded. I talked to my sister later who suggested that she might have opened the dryer, spit on their clothes and then closed in again. She's a genius. I wish she had been with me while I folded and stewed. Next time I will call her. I would have felt better.

Yup, laundry. Makes me a basket case. Badda dump dump dump. Damn, I like to end on a good pun.....

Friday, May 7, 2010

And the Universe Speaks...

Mambo! Everybody go Mambo!! Or, in the case of my morning today... Zumba! Everybody do Zumba!!

I took a Zumba class this morning with my friend Goldie. We went to the Y where she has been working out. Key words in that prior sentence: "she has been working out." As for me? Well I haven't "worked out" since sometime in mid 2004. It was a humbling experience. My insightful observations:
  • I am out of shape (you can file that one under "no shit sherlock" or "Thank you Captain Obvious").
  • When your friend says that you don't need to take a water bottle with you. Ignore her. About 20 minutes in to the class, I was pulling my tongue off the roof of my mouth in tempo with the music. As luck would have it there was a water fountain in the room. That was the good news. The bad news was there was sign above it that said "No Spitting." People don't just put signs over stuff for no good reason. I bent down to suck in the life sustaining liquid while saying a silent prayer that there would be no big green loogey in there to greet me. I kept my eyes closed just in case. What you can't see won't hurt you. Especially when you have no moisture in your mouth.
  • More than half of the class was older than 60. I was chest-clutching and they were zumba-ing with aplomb. Humbling. The ultimate check-mate from the universe indicating that I need to get up off my ass more.
  • One woman who was zumba-ing beside me was not exactly rocking the moves - she and I were about on the same zumba-scale. She was, however, easily 80 years old. I decided to be all zen with it - it was my first class after all and for all I knew she'd been coming to Zumba every day for the past decade. Yup, I was all zen...until the class was over. My 80 year old fellow zumba-er slowly walked over to the side of gym to grab her stuff AND her cane. The balloon holding my self-esteem deflated with a deafening hssssssss. Again, Universe, thanks for that message.
  • I gotta get me some "real" workout shoes. The pseudo-10-year-old-chucks are not going to cut it. I think I pulled an arch or a toe or something. Who knew that all those ads about having the right shoe were right? I thought they were just trying to get you to buy stuff.
  • I have made a personal vow to stop being such a harsh unrelenting critic of all those folks on Dancing with the Stars. I have been known to make some biting and debasing comments about them there stars and their dance moves. Honestly? How friggin hard can that Quick Step be? Turns out that's it's hard. Like super-super-even-if-you-are-semi-coordinated-hard. I would like to especially direct my apologies to Kate for this season. She did look like a robot. But after having to seamlessly integrate feet and arms with a side to side buttocks pumping move this morning...well, color me contrite. I get it. The casual observer may have thought I was having some kind of slow-motion grand mal seizure rather than trying to replicate the sensual rhythmic zumba moves being exhibited by the instructor.
  • I need a nap. And shoes. But I need the nap first....

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Flotsam and Jetsam

I'm just a little over a week away from personal move number 20 ?!? Sadly, I have counted the number of times I have physically packed and moved my belongings from one address to another since 1980. 3 times in the state of Ohio. 7 times in the state of California. 2 times in the State of Georgia. 2 times in Washington DC. 2 times in Tokyo. Germany only once. London only once. And now back in California and I'm working on move #3 (to be rapidly followed by #4). That's 20 moves in 30 years (not yet counting move #4 to occur some time in the future). Holy moving boxes batman!

I (obviously?) don't mind the concept of moving. Any sane person who couldn't tolerate moving would not do it over and over and over again. That would make them stupid or a bit of a masochist. I'm neither (in my own mind anyway...) But,what tends to get me a little riled up is the pre-moving phase. The day of the move is a piece of cake - or as close to that as one could get considering that a bunch of strangers are putting all your stuff in boxes and wrapping your furniture with incredible large rolls of saran wrap. I mean, they're working. You just moving from place to place supervising and drinking Chai Latte. But the pre-moving stuff wears on me.

Where is the furniture supposed to go in the new place? How in the world I am going to cram all our stuff in to 3.5 smallish closets in our tiny little townhouse? What stuff can stay in the house here safely while they jack it up, set it down gently on steel beams and pour a new foundation? Will it get stolen? Does it matter if it gets stolen? Why did I just buy a ginormous package of toilet paper that now needs to be moved? Where do you put "garage" stuff in a townhouse without a garage? Do you need to keep it in the living room? Do you just clutter up your back patio with that crap? And if I'm going to do that, shouldn't I have an old washer or bathtub or a car without tires or something out there as well? Why, for the love of Pete, did I not put XYZ in storage before? Why, the love of Pete, did I put ZXY in storage when I could really really really use that right now? And finally, how did we amass so much additional claptrap over the last 8 months??? I have about 7 million boxes of books in a very dark, very secure storage space somewhere here in SF. We've already got a whole 'nuther bookshelf full of books since then. We're gonna ban reading at the new place. Sorry kids. No more new books until next January. Just play on your computer instead. Call of Duty is good for you.

And so, the next days will be consumed by rooting through all our belongings to separate the flotsam from the jetsam. As I write, my car trunk is already filled with the out-grown clothes of two boys. I forced them to do that this weekend. A miserable chore for both parties. They don't want to try anything on, I want them to try everything on. They whine and I threaten bodily harm. We got through it. But, gosh golly, they got bigger fast. I could clothe a village with what they shed from their drawers.

Well, I'm off to it. The basement is next on the agenda. There's a pile of old roll-up blinds I want to take to Goodwill as well. They've been sitting in the basement for 8 months. Sitting there day after day, gathering dust, and probably lots of spiders. Hmmm? Maybe this is better left for the trash? Spiders in my car? Perhaps this is one jetsam that doesn't need to be separated from its flotsam.