Monday, April 30, 2007

The Good and the Bad

Well, it's sunny and there's lots of pretty flowers and the cats are adjusting. Okay, Starbuck needed no adjustment. She has assumed alpha-cat status for the household. Rocky is acclimating a little more slowly, but is beginning to be his old self again.

I opened a new local bank account.

Other than that, right now I'm frustrated. This new Mac I bought came with an HP printer, but I never set it up in the New York apartment. I didn't really need it, since I could print things at work. I did open it up to make sure all the parts were there and everything.

This morning I officially unpacked it, so I could start printing out resumes to go on interviews. Everything seems fine, except they included the wrong power cord. I don't know how that's even possible, but the end of the cord with the little holes in it definitely does not match the prongs on the adapter that are supposed to go into them. A quick phonecall to HP customer service resolved the issue: they're sending out a new power cord which will be here Friday.

I thought, "Eh, no problem, I can print off my stepfather's laptop." So I emailed the resume to myself and opened it up via Internet Explorer. Unfortunately, my stepfather doesn't have Microsoft Word, he has some other imitation program, and so when I opened up the resume, the header and footer were missing, my fancy bullet points had turned into numbers, the fonts had changed, and the margins were all wrong.

So, presently I'm going to try to open it up on my mother's computer, but it's 10 years old and on Windows 98 (long story...) and I'm not sure that her version of Word will be able to open my resume correctly, either. I may have to go to Kinko's or something.

I am ready to start interviewing NOW, but all my dress shirts are at the cleaners (they've been in a suitcase for a week, and of course the cats were in and out of the suitcases while I was packing), my shoes are being professionally polished, and I have no hard copies of my resume. I guess I can relax; I'm not in imminent danger of being penniless, but I am really interested in having some income so that I can get my new apartment and start having a life.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Welcome to Loserhood

Okay, well, now that the transcontinental adventure is over, it's time to face facts. I'm 32, unemployed and living with my parents.

Oh, God.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Day Six: Spokane, Washington to Portland, Oregon - 353 miles

I still can't quite believe that I actually drove myself and two cats all the way from Washington Heights to Cedar Hills. Altogether I put 3,154 miles on the rental car. What a silly thing to do! But I had a great time. Seriously, I'm ready to do it again. Ermm...maybe not tomorrow, but it's definitely something I'd like to plan again. I think the cats are game. It might be nice with a *friend*.

I am in awe of this beautiful country. How lucky we are to live in such a rich, bountiful part of the world. I only wish I'd had more time to explore and enjoy, rather than just randomly click photos as I sped past all this beauty at 75 miles an hour. From the Delaware Water Gap to the Wisconsin Dells to the Mississippi River to the Badlands of South Dakota to the Rocky Mountains to the Columbia River Gorge, it was a fantastic, awe-inspiring journey. While I'm glad to be home, at last, I am sorry the journey is over. I truly had a great time.

Today was fairly easy. We left Spokane just after 8:00 this morning, and enjoyed a warm, bright morning in the farming country (apples and wineries) of Washington's Columbia plateau. It wasn't long before we found ourselves in Oregon, and it was fascinating watching the climate change from being arid and rocky with a few scraggly bushes to lush green pine forest in the space of about 130 miles.

Thanks to the bright, clear weather, we had fantastic views of Mt. Hood.

We made it to the city just after 2:00 in the afternoon; what an odd feeling it was, watching the skyscraper affectionately known to locals as "Big Pink" begin to rise over I-84 as this long ride came to a close. It is hard to believe that this is "home" again; I'm not just visiting for a long weekend, I'm not heading back to New York and my familiar apartment in a few days, I'm here. Here for now. Time to find a new job and a new home and a new life.


Hi. We made it. Having difficulty figuring out how to connect my Mac to my stepfather's wireless network. None of us have a clue. Stay tuned. All is well.

UPDATE: So, by positioning my laptop at exactly the right angle on the hutch in the dining room while standing on one leg holding a wire coat hanger I managed to get just enough of a signal to get online. Does anyone know how to boost the signal from a D-Link Wireless Router?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Day Five: Billings, Montana to Spokane, Washington - 544 miles

Each day has been progressively spectacular; as beautiful as everything has been so far, Montana takes the prize. Holy cow. I see what they mean when they call it "Big Sky Country." For someone who has been yearning for some time now to find himself out in some wide open spaces, Montana delivers, in a huge way. I was lucky also to have continued wonderful weather.

So, we're now in Spokane, back in Pacific Time. Tomorrow is the final leg of our cross-country odyssey, about 350 miles. I am exhausted and there aren't any real stories to tell from today, so I'll just let these pictures do the talking.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Day Four: Mitchell, South Dakota to Billings, Montana - 696 miles

Ah, South Dakota, land of the hand-painted billboards. My favorites today were "WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT: Keep our Animal Population Under Control - Wear Fur!" and "Meet Buck, one of the horses who played 'Cisco' in Dances With Wolves!" I am completely serious.

I have to say, South Dakota surprised me. It is really beautiful. The landscape is varied and dramatic. Even the vast, seemingly undifferentiated prairie is breathtaking. But there's also the rolling green hills of the Missouri River Valley, the desolate, craggy Badlands and the alpine areas around Rapid City.

Today Rocky learned how to use rest stops. He's been so good in the car, but today, just outside of Mitchell, he started having a complete fit. He was yowling and trying to open the cage door and just generally making quite a fuss. I wondered if maybe he'd reached the end of his traveling tether, but then I remembered that only Starbuck had left a present in the litter box this morning. Fortunately there was a rest stop just up ahead. I took out a small roasting pan I had brought along for just this possibility, put some litter in it, and put it in the kennel. Rocky sniffed it, pawed it, and then squatted over it. Success! It worked out well, not only because I didn't end up having to drive a stinky car or clean the kennel (I just threw the contents of the roasting pan into the trash at the rest stop), but the rest area itself was perched on a high hill overlooking the Missouri River, and it was quite beautiful.

Since the time change mid-state gave us an extra hour on our journey, I decided I might as well take the detour south from Rapid City and see Mount Rushmore, since I don't plan on being in South Dakota again real soon (though, I must say, now I'd like to come back and spend more time) and the weather was absolutely spectacular.

Once we crossed into Wyoming, I started feeling very sleepy, so I took advantage of a conveniently placed rest area and took about a 20 minute nap. That was all I needed to get me through the rest of today's looooong journey. (Well, okay, I stopped in Gillette for a Dairy Queen Blizzard.) The drive across north-central Wyoming was spectacular, and it only increased in beauty as we crossed into Montana.

The late afternoon sun was a rich golden color, and the grass a vibrant spring green. Unfortunately, my windshield became plastered over with bugs, so some of the pictures are kind of gross.

After checking in and getting the cats set up, I went across the street to the local "family restaurant" for a burger. I noticed the menu said "Domestic Beers $2; Imported Beers $2.50," so I asked which domestic beers they had. "Um, which ones are those?" the waitress asked. "Anything made in America," I clarified. "Yeah, I kinda thought so, I can never remember. Umm, we have...Bud, Bud Light...umm...Coors? I think that's it." I had a Coors.

Once I made it to Wyoming I already began to feel like I was "back." Not that one would mistake Wyoming for Oregon (at least, not the Portland area), but it is definitely "the West." Two more days!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Day Three: Mendota, Illinois to Mitchell, South Dakota - 622 miles

You know you're in South Dakota when you're driving down the interstate and you see roadside billboards opposing abortion and animal rights activism.

We spent a lovely, restful night in Mendota. Starbuck curled up next to me on the bed; I think Rocky spent the night on the windowsill watching the semis go by. That's where he was when I turned out the lights, and it's where he was when I woke up.

We continued north on I-39 early this morning. When we passed this sign, Rocky assured me that I had just missed our exit, but I told him we still had a ways to go yet.

I want to thank my friends and co-workers who encouraged me to go north across Wisconsin and Minnesota rather than sticking to I-80 through Iowa to Nebraska. Wisconsin, especially, was beautiful! I would like to come back someday and spend more time there. Everywhere you look, there are rolling green hills and large farms with red barns and silver silos, with lakes and streams and wetlands all over the place, and this morning's weather was bright and clear. Fantastic.

It rained quite a lot as we came across Minnesota, but the traffic was very light so we made pretty good time. The cats are just doing great. When I took out the kennel this morning in Illinois, Rocky just hopped right in and was ready to go. They spent the entire day snuggled together, with no "accidents" or complaining. Rocky meowed a few times, but it was more of a conversational "Hi" sort of meow, rather than "Let me out!" They've totally gotten the hang of it.

I am still irritated with this dumb FM transmitter. I didn't get the iTrip because a friend of mine said he had one to give me, but it was for first-generation iPods so I couldn't use it. The one I got at Borders in New Jersey is the Belkin knockoff. It was still stuck on 102.3 this morning, which has stations on it through most of Illinois and Wisconsin. In Minnesota I had some luck for a while, and then just before we got to South Dakota, somewhere around Luverne, it suddenly switched itself to 88.1, and I got a clear signal from it, which was great until we crossed into Sioux Falls when it became NPR. It is a genuine piece of crap.

South Dakota so far is beautiful. I thought it would be flat like Kansas, but there are hills and meandering wooded creeks all over the place, and at least for now, it's very green. I think they gave us the special pet suite here at the motel; it smells like dog. The cats don't seem to mind.

Because I am getting tired of the steady diet of Burger King and McDonald's, I went to the "fancy" restaurant at the Holiday Inn just up the street. Here is the transcript of the dinner:

Waitress: What can I get for you this evening?

Andy: I'll have the chicken fried steak.

Waitress: Okay, wouldjall like something to drink with that?

Andy: (looking around to see whom else she might be referring to) Yes, I would like a glass of the pinot noir.

Waitress: The what now?

Andy: The pinot noir.

Waitress: (pause) 'Kay.

(about a minute later)

Waitress: I'm sorry, which wine did you want?

Andy: The pinot noir?

Waitress: Right. Okay.

(another 45 seconds later)

Waitress: (holding the wine list) I'm sorry, coudjall point to which one it is?

Andy: This one here.

Waitress: Oh. How'd you pronounce that again?

Andy: Pee-no nwa.

Waitress: Wow, I'm going to have to remember that.

And here I was worried she'd think chicken fried steak and pinot noir was an odd combination, or that it would betray me as a liberal. Having left Minnesota, I am in solidly Red territory for the next 1,200 miles, until we arrive Thursday night in that hot gay mecca, Spokane.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Day Two: Du Bois, Pennsylvania to Mendota, Illinois - 588 miles

Today I joined the army. But more about that later.

We had a pretty good night's sleep, and were on the road shortly after 8:00 this morning. I snapped this picture of Rocky in the motel window as I was packing; it reminds me of the portrait of my mother on her wedding day.

As regular readers of my blog know, I like to take lots of pictures when I go on vacation. But I realized I'm not stopping anywhere other than rest stops, where it's better to take a whiz than a photo. I was driving by some pretty sights and thought, it's too bad I can't pull over! So I took out the camera and started snapping shots indiscriminately. This is somewhere in Ohio.

The cats were so good today! Real troopers. This was the longest leg of my planned route; they were in their cage for nearly twelve hours today. I didn't bother with any sedatives. Both of them went right to sleep and stayed that way pretty much the whole time. Rocky meowed once somewhere around Elkhart, but that was it. Most amazingly, we had no "accidents." Since we got through today, I have much more confidence about the rest of the trip.

The FM transmitter I bought for the iPod is busted; it's permanently stuck on 102.3 FM, which was fine for most of Pennsylvania, but across Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, that frequency is variously taken by evangelical and Spanish radio stations. I know there's a Border's in Beaverton; I wonder if they'll make an exchange a week after a purchase in a store on the other side of the country?

People in Indiana cannot drive. People in Illinois think speed limits are for sissies. Some guy at a gas station in Ohio said something indecipherable to me about something and I just said, "Ain't that the truth?" and he nodded and said, "Fuckin' A, man." Right on. Here's a photo I snapped somewhere southwest of Chicago.

I had thought I might go as far as Rockford, Illinois today, but after 12 hours I was concerned for the poor cats' bladders and pulled over here in Mendota to see if we could find a room. Mendota consists of two motels, a gas station and a McDonald's. Seriously.

Hence, dinner consisted of an amuse bouche of pommes frites, with fillet de poisson and a side of nuggettes de poulet.

When I inquired if there was a room available tonight, the lady at the front desk asked me if I had any club memberships that would entitle me to any kind of discount. AAA? No. Army? No. (I did cut my hair pretty short for this trip, but...) AARP? No. AARP?!?!?!?! I'm not even 33 yet. How bad do I look? : (

"Well, you look like a nice guy," she said in her gravelly, hard-bitten midwest voice. "I want to give you a discount, let's see what we got here, why don't we say you're in the military. What branch you want, army, navy, marines?" "Oh," I said, "let's just say the army."

So yeah, I'm pretty sure I just committed a felony in order to get a $10 discount on a budget hotel room and a story out of it.

Then I yelled at my dad on the phone. He called to see where I was and if everything was all right. Then he said, "You know, I was looking at the itinerary you gave me, and you're going to have to drive nearly 75 miles an hour in order to get from Mitchell, South Dakota to Billings in eight hours."

Okay. Let me preface by saying my father is not known for his optimism or his sense of fun, adventure and spontaneity. I think he had a bet with himself going that I wouldn't make it to Illinois like I said I would. He's also getting old and is fixating on silly things. My "eight hours" estimate came from the website (which I highly recommend), which says that according to the route I'm following, I'll get to Mitchell after about 22 hours of driving and to Billings at about 30 hours of driving. It's about 600 miles between the two cities. Let's leave aside that I've been going about 75 mph all day long, and a lot of people pass me (especially in Illinois). Let's leave aside that in South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana, 75 is actually the speed limit.

Earlier he emailed me a list of emergency rations for the trip, including extra water, blankets, food, etc., as if I'm taking a pack horse, two saddle bags and no map to Oregon, not traveling the interstate system. I emailed back, "You left out beads and pelts for the natives."

So tonight I said, "And so what if I don't get to Billings in eight hours?" "Well..." he hemmed, because naturally he hadn't even proposed that question to himself. "I said it takes eight hours of driving, not that I'm going to do it in eight hours. I am on vacation, and I'm going to take as long as I damn well please, and if for some reason I am not in Portland by Friday, I'll pay for an extra day for the van, what's it to you?"

He didn't expect such a snarl out of me, and that was pretty much the end of our conversation. He said to call on Friday when I arrive.

Now I remember why I moved to New York when I was 19. (Half-kidding.)

Rocky is sitting in the window sill and growling at semi-trucks as they go down the road. Your guess is as good as mine. Other than that, he's perfectly fine. Starbuck seems to think the trip is fun. I'd have to agree.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Day One: New York City to Du Bois, Pennsylvania - 287 miles

Well, that wasn't so bad. : )

I am exhausted, so I'll try to be brief. You know, brief by *my* standards.

Picking up the car went fine; the van has lots of room and is easy to drive, though I've accidentally set off the alarm about five times. The drive up to my apartment was much easier than I thought it would be; I went up Third Avenue and went left on 57th Street to Eighth Avenue, then through the vortex at Columbus Circle (eep, that keeps you on your toes) and the plan was to go up Broadway all the way to Washington Heights, but naturally there was a street fair beginning at 96th Street. I detoured over to West End Avenue and drove up to where it ends at 106th...and the street fair was still going! So I went another block and turned left on Amsterdam, then back to Broadway at 120th, so that hjhhhhhhhhjjjjjjjj -- ha! sorry, Starbuck jumped on the laptop -- I could wave at my alma mater on 122nd, then north to 168th and the rest of the way on Fort Washington Avenue.

There was a parking space directly in front of my apartment building. I took that as a sign. Four friends generously volunteered to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon hauling garbage out of my apartment and putting up with my perhaps overly well-planned van-packing directions. (Sometimes I am ruthlessly efficient.) So, a big debt of gratitude to him and him, and also two non-blogger guys. It took a little longer than I'd hoped, but we got everything in the van, and I can even see out the back. I left the city around 4:00.

Honestly, as soon as I picked up the rental car and successfully navigated Manhattan traffic, I started to feel better about this. The first leg couldn't have been easier: just turn right on 179th and keep going for five hours. I stopped briefly at the Borders in Rockaway, New Jersey and bought one of those FM radio thingies for my iPod. It works well until you come over a hill and suddenly there's a station on your station. Next I stopped in Mifflinville, Pennsylvania to grab a quick bite and stretch my legs.

The last 20 miles or so into DuBois (pronounced "Do Boys," which sounds promising, rather than "Do Bwa") were hard because I am so tired. But I'm here and now I'm going to crash and just wake up when I wake up. Tomorrow I hope to be somewhere in Illinois, the longest stretch of the journey to compensate for only going about five hours today.

The cats are fine. Starbuck fell asleep right away even though she didn't have any sedatives, and she seems perfectly content in the hotel room. She's curious, but doesn't seem bothered by any of it. Rocky is hiding behind the toilet and looks very unhappy, but he too slept soundly most of the trip. He had half a cat valium this afternoon just because I was concerned about his freak-out on Wednesday. He doesn't seem angry at all now, just weirded out. I can't say I blame him.

The First Day: We're Off

I can hardly believe the day has come.

I had hoped to write something profound as this chapter (or, more accurately, volume) of my life comes to a close, but I am altogether too addlepated at the moment. I just want to say, as I look back on more than thirteen years of life in New York, that the overwhelming feeling is one of immense gratitude. Yes, there has been a lot of pain and sorrow and frustration and loneliness and anxiety and disappointment, but in a way I'm grateful for all of that, too. These years have been rich and meaningful. I am so lucky. I will treasure and share these memories all my life.

Here's the schedule for the day: right now I'm off to the church I've been attending, St. Bart's on Park Avenue, for one last service. I only found St. Bart's within the last year, but it is an amazing place and it was a major factor that had to be weighed in the decision to leave New York. In addition to the gorgeous building, it has a vibrant, diverse, enthusiastic and welcoming congregation, and certainly the most fantastic clergy team I have ever encountered. I have made some great friends there and learned tons, but it was actually through some of the classes I took there that I discerned that New York itself is at the heart of what has been bothering me and that it was time to move on.

Conveniently the rental car place is one block from my church (purely coincidental). Let's all hope I get the minivan I requested, otherwise the purge of my possessions is going to be more dramatic than I'd like to think about right now. Can I tell you, I am far more worried about the drive from East 50th to Washington Heights than I am about the 2994 miles to Oregon? Driving in this city scares me.

Around one, some generous friends are coming over to help me clear out the apartment and load the fan. Everything is pretty much ready, so I hope we can do this in about an hour. I am aiming to be on the road between 2 and 3 o'clock, and plan to drive only as far as western Pennsylvania today, about four or five hours.

It is highly doubtful that I will be able to get online again today until I get to the hotel tonight. Wish us luck!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Last Night: For Real

I don't even know where to begin, so I'll start with the easy part and give a big thank-you shout-out to my friend Jere of the blog Jere-Rigged. Jere came over yesterday morning and helped me out for about four and a half hours, dismantling furniture, carrying bookcases up flights of stairs to neighbors and helping me carry tons of garbage and junk out of the apartment. If it hadn't been for his very generous offer to help out and the great work he did, I would absolutely be having a total nervous breakdown right now.

Packing up this apartment has been far more work than I ever anticipated. I had an idea in my mind about how much I could fit in the van, but today I set up a mock van interior in my living room and it became immediately clear that a LOT of what I was planning on taking was not going to be able to come, especially clothing. Right now I am just embarrassed and ashamed about everything that I will have to throw out; here I thought I'd been proactive in going through my belongings and giving things away, but I had more than I realized.

There's so much on my mind right now but there's still so much left to do. The packing is done, but there's still a lot of cleaning up. Right now I am filled with remorse over all this stuff I have to throw out, and having anxiety over finding a job and a home in Portland and whether the cats will be okay with the car trip -- Rocky's doing much better now, by the way -- and even occasionally whether I have made a colossal error. I hope someday this is all just a funny story I can tell a cute guy over dinner.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Slight Change of Plans

Okay, so last night wasn't my last night in the apartment. After talking to the vet today about Rocky's freakout, I decided that with all the change going on, me being gone for a whole night right now might make things worse. The mattress went away today, so I'm sleeping on a pile of quilts on the box spring. Rocky is definitely coming around, but still easily spooked. Poor guy. I did acquire some cat valium for the trip, just in case.

We're getting there. I see light at the end of the tunnel -- or, more precisely, the living room floor is starting to reappear. Tomorrow most of the rest of the furniture is going away.


This afternoon I grabbed a quick pizza lunch with a friend who came by to acquire my DVD player and some books. He was going to take some bookcases because he currently lives nearby, but has decided to move again so he's not taking on more furniture just now. He rented a room from a lady who never walks her dog, she just leaves newspapers out for him to pee and poop on. "And," said my friend, "the ironic thing is, do you know what she does for a living?"

"No...," I said.

"She's a professional dog walker."


I did get my last piece of mail at this address today. The forwarding order kicks in tomorrow. I received confirmation from the post office; the last line of the letter says, "If you do not speak English or you do not understand this letter, please take it with you to your local post office for assistance."

I mean, if you can't understand English, how helpful is that? (Probably just as helpful as the folks at the post office to whom the reader is referred.) It reminds me of the old Looney Toons cartoon with the eye test where the text gets progressively smaller and the punch line is, "If you can read are Chinese."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Last Night

Tonight is the last night that I will spend in this apartment, which has been my home since June of 1996. President Clinton was in his first term. I barely believe it. My sofa bed went away on Monday and my bed is leaving tomorrow, so after that there won't be anything soft to sleep on. The Fabulous Jackass, who conveniently lives just six blocks away, has graciously offered his sofa for my last three nights in the city. There's still a lot of packing and cleaning to do -- however, we're getting there! -- so I'll go down late each night and come back in the morning and go back to work.

I love my cats. (You're shocked, I know.) They play hide and seek in the pile of boxes, and take turns being "it." Seriously. See the photos below.

Okay, now for less good stuff. I have bad luck with air conditioners, apparently. I got my first air conditioner in the spring of 2002. (Yes, I lived through New York summers with just fans and fortitude for 8 years.) That winter, I decided I should bring the air conditioner inside. Well, I'm not very skilled with air conditioners, so I went to take it out of the window, and this was the result:

Oopsie. Thank God my living room window is over my building's lobby; if it had been over the sidewalk, like most New York apartments, I damn well might have killed someone.* That thought still haunts me. So this time I paid the super $20 to uninstall it for me. (And I've sold it for $35. Net profit: $15. Whoo! )

When my super arrived, I went to put the cats in the bathroom, since the living room window would be open (I'm on the third floor, which is actually the fourth floor). Well...I'm not sure what happened, whether Rocky doesn't like the super or whether there's just been altogether too much coming and going of people lately, but the poor cat FLIPPED OUT. He positively flew around the apartment making this hideous howling noise. I mean, he was truly in a panic. I've never seen him do anything like that. I only managed to get a hold of him when his collar caught on part of the vacuum cleaner. I managed to get him into the bathroom, but he exacted his pound of flesh. Rather literally.

He seems to be okay now. Still, I think he'll be living in the bathroom tomorrow, since I have three different appointments with people coming into the apartment to take stuff away. I'll just put him in there in the morning and leave him there.

For KR, here's a close-up of Starbuck's collar.

**IMPORTANT** TimeWarner is coming tomorrow morning to take away my cable box and modem, so if I can't manage to find a wireless signal, I won't have internet access during the day. I'll be able to check in at night down at the Jackass' place.

* Extra credit reading: there is a funny story out of it. Shortly thereafter I found myself in line at the grocery store -- or, "on line," as New Yorkers say -- behind one of the building busybodies, who was telling me all the latest gossip. I wasn't really paying attention, until she said, "...and then some idiot just threw his air conditioner right out the window, and it's just sitting there in front of my living room. I tell you, the people in our building are no good." I just nodded my assent.

A Fabulous Night on the Town

My awesome friend Audrey, whom I've known since I was 11 (when we shared the marquee as the White Rabbit and the Narrator in our 6th grade production of Alice in Wonderland), is in town for business this week from L.A. Coincidentally, her younger sister Renee was also in from D.C. for a meeting, so we all went for dinner at a chic SoHo restaurant on Sullivan between Prince and Spring.

I snapped the above photo from the cab as we passed through Times Square.

After our fantastic meal, I uncharacteristically declined the offer to share a cab and instead walked up 6th Avenue a little ways.

I don't know whether the Grey Goose went to my head or what, but I'm still having trouble believing I turned down a cab in favor of a ride on the A train, late enough in the evening that it was making all local stops. I don't know how long it took me to get home, I wasn't really looking at my watch, but it must have been well over an hour; the Empire State Building's lights go off promptly at midnight, and I didn't get home until after 1.

Things were fine up to about 125th Street, then we sat in the tunnel for an age and a half, and slowly inched our way up to 145th, where for some reason we ended up downstairs on the D platform. Then we sat, and sat some more. (That's the last time I turn down a cab ride. Actually, come to think of it, it probably really is the last time.) Eventually there was a completely inscrutable announcement, general confusion and consternation, and everyone got off the train. Apparently there was some problem with the switch further up the track, so there was no more A train for the night. Swell. I went up and found a gypsy cab and collapsed into bed.

Then I woke up at 4:30, panicking about everything I have left to do. I am still hoping to find time to go out into the city before I leave and just walk around and enjoy myself a bit, but I just feel so overwhelmed right now. I've been packing and cleaning and chucking for four days now and while progress is obvious, there's still so much left. I decided that rather than lie in bed and have palpitations I should probably get up and do something productive.

And finally, a gratuitous cat picture.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Now I Just Need a Domestic Partner

Oregon House OKs Domestic Partnerships

The House voted 34-26 in favor of a bill that will give expanded legal protections to same-sex couples in Oregon. Now it heads to the Senate (like the House, dominated by Democrats), then presumably afterward to Governor Kulongoski, who has promised to sign it.

Best quote: "I have met former homosexuals; I have not met former Blacks or Hispanics," said Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford. "I don't believe what you chose to do makes you a minority."

Uh-huh. What a lame quote, as if "minority" is a term that relates exclusively to ethnicity. No, you silly twit, what makes gay people a minority is that there are fewer of them. Hello. Duh.

And you know what? Straight people get "special rights" for choosing to get married.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Hurray for Neighbors!

Last night I was lying in bed panicking about how to get rid of my furniture. I'd always felt like I didn't have very much stuff, but I guess I was wrong. I knew I could always take stuff down to the sidewalk and hope for good weather, in which case someone would rescue it before it got rained on. Or peed on.

This morning I hit upon the brilliant idea of putting little signs in the elevators in my building. I warned people that I didn't have particularly fancy stuff, and also that the place was a wreck (see the photo below...) since I was moving. I had low hopes.

Here's what I managed to get rid of today:

2 bookcases
1 file cabinet
1 desk
2 lamps
1 dresser
1 microwave
a plant
a shoe rack
the sofa bed

and...*drum roll* please...

the litter box.

Seriously, this woman came by and said, "Are you taking that litter box with you? It's nicer than mine." And I said...errmmmm, no...actually...

Only in New York.

Also, the boys who came to get my sofa bed? Ding-dong. Cute! Whoo!

Packing Up

There are two cats in this picture.

I will probably be waaaayyy too busy over the next few days to do any substantial blogging or, alas, blog reading. But I'm still here.

Of course, the cats think this is all great fun. So many new places to hide!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

To the Geeks


I just got home from my self-thrown "farewell" party. A BIG "THANK YOU!!!" to everyone who came, especially those of you who bought me drinks. It was a great turn out, and it meant a lot to me that you all came to wish me good luck on this crazy new chapter in my life.

Even so, there is a special subset of tonight's attendees (including some who couldn't make it, for valid reaons) who deserve a real debt of gratitude.

A few years ago, as my chosen career was imploding, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a unique group of friends, whose ignorance of and disinterest in opera was as refreshing and wonderful as their tolerance of my passion for LOTR. You guys have been my rock, and I hope you know that this decision to up and move back to Oregon included major arguments with myself about the wisdom of leaving behind such an incredible network of friends. I love you all, and will miss you all more than I can say. Thank you, a million times over, for your friendship, support, generosity, encouragement and admonishments. If it wasn't for you guys, I never would have known how to even start a blog. I never would have watched Battlestar Galactica. My she-cat would no doubt be named Norma or Adina or Gutrune instead of Starbuck.

None of you happen to believe in God, but nonetheless, I believe God led me to you. You were, and are, absolutely the right people at the right time. This city I can live without; but the 3,000 miles I'm putting between myself and you guys is going to hurt like hell. Do take care, and please stay in touch.

The Geeks:


Doomed to Flail
Fabulous Jackass
Useless! Worthless! Insipid!
He Who Has No Blog

And while I'm at it, THANK YOU to the other bloggers who showed up tonight:

Hit or Miss

Saturday, April 14, 2007

This Just In: Portland is Cool

I'm starting to get ready for the gala farewell bash I'm throwing for myself at a bar in Hell's Kitchen tonight, and I sat down to check email and peruse the latest news, since I've spent the entire day packing, organizing and throwing things out. I clicked over to The New York Times, and noticed that right now the #1 emailed Times article is a travel review called "36 Hours in Portland, Ore".

The verdict?

"Truth is, Portland doesn't want to be Seattle, its highly caffeinated neighbor to the north. With less traffic, better public transportation and Mount Hood in its backyard, this self-styled City of Roses doesn't stand in anybody's shadow. Its vibrant downtown overflows with urban pleasures like chic restaurants, funky nightclubs and spritely neighborhoods crackling with youthful energy, but nobody's boasting. That's another nice thing about Portland."

Friday, April 13, 2007

No More Gay for Pay

Today is my last day at my job with the Homosexual Agenda.

It feels really weird.

The best part is never having to ride the A train to work again. The stress of the commute has been the largest drain on my energy and was perhaps the biggest factor in my decision to leave the City. For someone like myself, who quickly feels overwhelmed in constricted, crowded environments, my daily ride to Wall Street is a one-hour and ten-minute exercise in extreme self-discipline. I am happy to never have to do this again.

I'm also, admittedly, ready to move on from this particular position. It has been great; I've learned tons, both in terms of acquiring and refining professional skills but also in discovering an enormous amount about how our legal system works, civil rights law, and the core arguments why full equality for gay, lesbian and bisexual people matters and how it will be won. I have probably the most congenial co-workers one could ever hope to have, and the work environment is one where I am completely free to be myself. It's a place where my impersonations of Kermit the Frog doing a scene from Raging Bull and Mommie Dearest if it had been cast with Carol Channing are not only tolerated, but requested.

I'm going to miss my view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Still, I am ready for a new challenge in a new setting, even if that phrase does sound lifted out of one of the three-hundred terribly banal cover letters I received with the applications to replace me.

I also want to extend a HUGE THANK YOU to my parents. Without their constant support -- financial and otherwise -- this entire New York adventure never would have been possible. They have been incredibly, unspeakably generous. Two years ago, when this job was first offered to me, I was on the brink of declining it because I didn't see how I could afford even my very modest life on a non-profit administrative assistant's salary. But they knew how much I wanted this job, and they volunteered to continue to help me make ends meet, just as they did all through college and the time I spent getting my singing career off the ground. So, a big round of applause for them.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Rocky Makes a Friend

Rocky with Agnes Day, the Easter lamb.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

More Playing: Zoom!

The sun came out today, though it's still unseasonably cold (it was 34 this morning). On my lunch hour I ran around taking some photographs of things I'd like to remember; this is a little square just off Water Street below Wall Street. Interesting assortment of architectural styles downtown. Being the very oldest part of the city, this area has several buildings dating back to the colonial era.

This is Battery Park, where the boats leave for the Statue of Liberty; the office towers in the back are actually in Jersey City, NJ.

On the left is of course the Statue of Liberty -- I have to say, I will miss being able to just stroll down to look at her on my lunch break -- with Ellis Island on the right.

The Queen Mary 2 was in town today, docked at her berth in Brooklyn. This is the view from the accountant's office at work; you can see the QM2 in the far right of the photo. The Wall Street Ferry dock is at the bottom.

And this is how close I was able to zoom in:

Here's a shot of the full vessel.