Monday, July 30, 2007

Day Off In Bed

Once again, the Universe provides. Just after my post last week whining about being broke and not getting ahead on the bills an opportunity presented itself. We have hired a new, full-time manager at work and another part time. The part time guy was solely responsible for working the late, nightclub hours. The new full time manager would help out both in the nightclub and during the regular restaurant hours. The thinking was that if we had a little help in both areas, we could curtail our own hours and maybe have some time to rest, finish any special projects, and do better in the areas we had already taken on. So of course, the weekend that the new manager takes off for a previously scheduled weekend away is the same weekend that the part time manager decides to quit. It seemed that a night or a weekend of 14+ hr. shifts might be in the offing. My boss tried to soft-sell it by assuring us that he wouldn't demand that anyone step up. He tried to sweeten the deal by commenting that "of course, you'll get the extra pay". I'd like to say I chuckled, but the truth is I sneered derisively. "I'm sorry. It's just that we never got paid for the last shifts we were promised money." I couldn't resist. The other manager that was supposed to be paid as well as our CFO were all in the room. I'm afraid I may have pissed off my boss a little. He sounded irritated. But so was I. As well as sick of working so hard and not being able to have anything to show for it.

It was then that he claimed he didn't know we hadn't been paid. I have no doubt that's true. But how is it part of my responsibility to see that my employees are paid what they are owed and not part of his? Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love my boss. And in his defense, I wouldn't know that my employee hadn't been paid if he or she didn't bring it to my attention. But I do have to send their pay information to the payroll office. His passive/passive act can frequently leave us to fend for ourselves. And of course, I'm much better at taking care of others than I've ever been taking care of myself. So after assurances from him on several occasions that we were free to pay ourselves the money we were owed, as well as any additional payments this weekend would incur, it seems that the opportunity to put in a couple of very long late nights would finally have a tangible result in my checking balance.

I admit, a part of me briefly considered taking the back pay and skipping this weekend. I can be lazy. But fortunately, in the end, not stupid. I got home Saturday morning at 6:30 and to bed at 8:30. On Sunday morning it was 8 am. Bedtime was sometime after 10:30. I slept all afternoon and woke up to sore feet, a crabby disposition and an upset stomach. I also had a pocketful of cash. Today I paid off an Amex bill almost exactly equal to one week's take home pay. And I still have some money left for hookers and beer. Minus the beer. More importantly, I have a bit of breathing room. If I'm careful, I should have a little bit of money left from my next few paychecks. That means I won't have to recreate that Amex horror next month. I'll also have paid off another minor credit card, and can get to work on paying down one of the more substantial cards I've been carrying.

See, that's the thing about trusting the Universe to sort it out. The solution you need will almost always present itself. But you still have to be smart enough to see it. And you may have to bust your ass for a weekend and spend your day off recuperating on the couch. But since the hard work becomes a means to an end, it doesn't feel like it's all that hard at all. Now if you'll excuse me, I haven't showered in 36 hours. I stink.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Quick Like Bunny

Only have a hot second. Busy at work. Did an afternoon party for HGTV yesterday so I left for work at the crack of noon (the horror!). I love doing those buffet/cocktail/open bar parties. I know just what to do and how to organize things so that everything gets done. I brought the staff on in stages because we had a small party immediately following that one and then a live music promo for the Latin Film Festival that went all night. It worked out great and everyone had work to do and everyone made money and nobody had to slave away the entire day and night. I love it when a plan comes together. Working the whole weekend but I'll try to update a few times. No plans for my weekend. Still pretty broke.

The crazy dog-hating lady next door left an incoherent note taped to my door. This is why I didn't even want to be bothered by her in the first place. Now she thinks I actually think or care about her. I do not. I won't be answering her but I'll try and transcribe it for you in the next couple of days. If this is TGIF for you, enjoy!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Paging Debbie Downer.

Finished up my weekend with very little to show in the way of accomplishments. I'm out of sorts. I have a full time job and I'm having an awful time making ends meet. The bills are caught up but I can't save any money, and I'm totally stressed trying to keep up and get a handle on my massive (and self-inflicted) credit card debt. I'm no longer drinking but it seems I'll be paying the price for a lot of reckless behavior for some time to come. One of the not so pleasant aspects of getting sober is I have to face reality. All. The. Time. But it comes with the package.

I've been having a lot of fatigue lately. I'm fine for most of the day but late most every afternoon I completely run out of gas. I get unbelievably tired and I literally have to fight to stay awake. If I'm working at my desk I frequently nod off for a few seconds at a time. It lasts for about an hour or so and then I'm fine. Later in the evening I snap to and I feel energetic and alert. I have no idea if this is a side effect from the meds or of getting old. It doesn't make sense that it would be related to HIV. I haven't changed treatment recently. I suppose it could have to do with the fact that I've been getting no exercise beyond the occasional 1/2 hr of cardio. I know that everybody has a natural rhythm to their day. Lots of ups and downs. But I'm not used to getting tired. I feel ... out of control. And I don't like it.

Rained all afternoon so I spent today futzing around with my computer, trying to find artwork for the walls from the pictures I've taken. I actually found some great ideas. Put some more music on my phone and ordered some med refills. I did make some fucking outrageously delicious turkey burger patties and I cooked up some fresh green beans. I also got my laundry ready to be done. I didn't do it, but it's ready. I guess that's ... something.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bitch Cut Me!

Walking to work yesterday when it started to rain. As it got heavier, I began walking briskly for the subway station, staying close to the buildings. You get the benefit of the various awnings/overhangs to help you make it a block or so in the rain while staying relatively dry. Unbeknownst to me, a sprinkler pipe was carrying an extra piece of jagged metal. I brushed it rather violently as I hurried by, and immediately heard a tearing and felt intense pain. I looked down to see my jeans ripped open at the knee. The metal sticking out of the pipe had torn my pants and unfortunately in to my flesh. Judging by the pain I feared a deep cut. Upon inspection, it seemed to be a bad scrape instead. But it hurt like a sonofabitch. And I faced the prospect of going to work with badly torn pants. I thought about finding a Gap but it seemed like a bad idea considering I was bleeding. Best to get to work. I sat on the subway, worried that I had misjudged the cut as superficial and would look down to find blood running down my leg. No such gusher ever came and when I got to work I cleaned and dressed the wound and went about my business. It had already started to heal up by the end of the day. In order to seal the deal, my dog set about lick-cleaning the wound when I got home at 5 am. I hope he doesn't catch The AIDS.

In unrelated news, I put a fresh coat of polyurethane/stain down on the living room floor. No easy task considering I had to protect the wet wood from pawprints for 6 hrs. until it dried. It looks great but now I'm noticing every stray dust ball and dog hair that shows up on it. I'm almost finished in the living room. I need to buy a full length mirror and some artwork. While I was doing that, the landlord had hired people to paint the hallways and the vestibule in the building. My ferocious dog ignored the workmen in the hallway all week. Although I did have to stop him from sticking his nose in the paint pan. The vestibule is now a lovely shade of robin's egg blue. Unfortunately, today I was noticing how dirty and scuffed up my mailbox is. I think I have a problem.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

In The News ...

The Canadian press is reporting on a gay bashing that took place in Quebec City on July 1, in which a man was severely beaten by a group of skinheads after leaving a downtown gay bar. In response, the Quebec GLBT rights group has decided to take the radical and bold step of holding ... wait for it ... a brunch.

Leave it to the French-Canadians to call a brunch, located "a few steps from where the young man was attacked" symbolic. How did that conversation go?:

"Zut, alors!"

"What eez it Jean-Michel?"

"Oh, Jean-Pierre! Ze gay boy was attacked by ze skeenheads!"

"Non! Zat eez an outrage! What can we do?"

"I have called Jean-Louis. He eez organizing zee protest on Sunday."

"Sunday? Mais Jean-Michel, Sunday eez ..."

"Do not worry, Jean-Pierre. Eet eez a protest ... and a brunch, aussi!"

"Brilliant! We will drink zee Mimosa's at zee skeenheads in a disdainful manner!"

"C'est vrai! They weel think twice about gay bashing after we eat zee omelette."

"I am calling Jean-George and Jean-Jacques."

Coming up next month, the French-Canadian BBQ against world hunger... "We weel dress like zee cowboy!"

Oh, and I had sex with a stranger.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Want To See My Legal Briefs?

At long last, I fire a fresh round at my dog-hating neighbor:

3## Second Ave. #14
New York, NY 10003

My Landlord
6## Jones Rd.
River Vale, NJ 07675
July 14, 2007

Dear Mr. My Landlord,

I was quite dismayed to receive your letter last week regarding my neighbor Ms. Cartabelato. Assuming I’m still in the building in 2009, I will have been a resident at 3## for 20 years. In that time, I have never had a disagreement or a complaint from a neighbor (excepting the occasional leaky pipe) lodged against me. Indeed, I have always tried to be a thoughtful person, and take great care to keep my apartment in good repair and not disturb the other residents. Given that, I was disappointed that the many inconsistencies in Ms. Cartabelato’s allegations were taken as fact, without ever taking time to, at the very least, ask me what might be occurring.

First and foremost, I am the owner of only one dog. I do, on occasion take care of a friend’s dog when my schedule allows. Perhaps once a week, I take them both for a walk or to the local dog park. It’s a rare occurrence, I work full time, and I find properly caring for one pet takes most of my attention. I have been the proud owner of a rescue animal for well over a year. He is 3 years old, a fully grown animal, he has been neutered and he has all his necessary shots. His adult weight is 36 pounds. So if I may be so bold, if he does indeed outweigh Ms. Cartabelato at 36 lbs., I suggest she seek medical treatment immediately.

While far from perfect, the dog is housebroken and well trained. He has been socialized with other dogs, and I never hesitate to let him loose in a designated dog park. He has never initiated a bit of aggressive behavior. If anything, he will shy away from other dogs and most people. I feed and walk him twice a day. This usually happens in the afternoon and again at 3 or 4 am when I finally return home from work. When I get a day off, I make it a point to take him out a little longer, as I feel guilty leaving him alone for long periods. When we go out, we exit the building quickly as he usually is understandably in a hurry to relieve himself. When we return, he immediately climbs the stairs to the apartment door and waits to be let in. While in the hallway, he is not in the least aggressive or threatening. I have never allowed him to bark or snarl or frighten another tenant. To suggest that I allow my dog “the run of the halls” is complete and utter nonsense. The only time he is ever in the hallways is when we are exiting or entering the building.

Characterizing him as some dangerous animal prowling the hallways is a fantasy, as are most of Ms. Cartabelato’s “morbid fears.” I have tried to be sensitive to her needs, and have even gone so far as to attempt to train the animal to retreat to a lower landing and allow other tenants to pass by. He accomplished this training with ease. Ms. Cartabelato was unsatisfied with this solution, claiming that my dog would ”think she is his enemy” and presumably become some sort of wild wanton killer. Indeed, if anyone has anything to fear in this situation it would be me and my pet, as Ms. Cartabelato’s behavior has grown more threatening and bizarre over the past year. She has on numerous occasions threatened to “leave out poison” for my dog in the hope “that he gets sick and dies”. She has repeatedly berated me and called me names, and when I tried to verbally allay her fears she told me I “was crazy” and “out to get her”.

I assumed, given her advanced age, that perhaps she was suffering from the beginning onset of senility, but in light of her continual obsessive behavior, I’m starting to have real concerns for the welfare of my pet. Perhaps if she has any family, they could begin to explore her options regarding some sort of an assisted living situation. That way, her obviously deteriorating mental capacity could be observed and treated. As a matter of fact, at this point I would welcome Ms. Cartabelato calling 311 the next time she felt herself to be in imminent danger. I am confident that should an unbiased authority respond to her complaints, they would find her fears to be self-induced paranoia, and of no real consequence. Perhaps that would put an end to this nonsense, although I seriously doubt it.

As I stated earlier, I have a full time job that is very demanding. I work between 60 and 70 hrs a week. If I’m lucky, once a week or so I get an afternoon to take my dog and a camera and go out in to the city and indulge my amateur photography hobby and enjoy a long walk. It’s one of the few pleasures I try to make time for. Unfortunately, it is often marred by the ridiculous and childish behavior exhibited by Ms. Cartabelato. Up until now, it has been disconcerting. Being contacted and threatened with a summons has made this situation an unwanted annoyance I hardly have the time or patience for. You should know that if this harassment and these verbal threats to me, my pet and property continue, I will have no choice but to seek relief in a court of law. At the very least, I plan to pursue and file a restraining order, in order to keep this clearly emotionally unbalanced woman away from me and my pet. My desire to be a caring and thoughtful neighbor doesn’t mean I have to be subject to the capricious whims of an old woman with some serious psychological issues. Barring using any of the solutions to Ms. Cartabelato’s “morbid fear” I have already mentioned, perhaps you can suggest a competent therapist that would allow her to find a way to negotiate the day to day tribulations of living in a city of 9 million other people and their pets.



cc: Josephine Cartabelato
Martin Murphy

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Rat Problem In New York City

has seriously gone out of control. No, this isn't a promo for that new rat movie that just opened. Certain worker unions in NYC use the inflatable rat as a form of protest whenever they believe a construction job is using non-union scabs. The rat was set up the other day near Union Square on 14th St. This is a picture from the camera on my Mint Chocolate phone. It doesn't suck, and I used to hate cell phone pictures, so expect more phone pix in the future.

On another note, I took about the last 4 months off from the gym. Between going to Gay-A every day and the new job, it was difficult to find time so I just stopped. But I've been back several times over the last week and OH MY GOD I'M SORE!!!! But my Ben & Jerry's belly needs to go, so ...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

He's Dead, Jim

A bit of sad news to report here at From The Ashes HQ. One of our minor characters has unfortunately passed on. It is with more than a little sadness that I have to say that Colby the dog has died.

I was chillaxin on the front porch with Jet after an early evening walk. I heard someone come out the front door but paid them no mind, in case it was Ms. Morbid Fear. Turns out, it was The Hellcat, who I've scrupulously managed to avoid for months and months now. I thought this would be no different, when he surprised me by stepping up and offering me a pet food coupon. I was startled, but managed to politely decline the surprising contact. It was then that he informed me that Colby was recently put down. Doubly surprised, I merely shrugged and turned away. He quickly went on his way. But I was incredibly sad. I didn't ask the circumstances. I imagine his spinal cord problems got worse. Maybe he could no longer walk. Perhaps something else happened.

I had Colby marked as a total Red Shirt from the very beginning. I knew his days were numbered and I had imagined this scenario happening sooner rather than later. Colby had been frequently hurt or sick the whole time he lived at my place. Even though The Hellcat managed to recover from the worst effects of his meth addiction, the dog had obviously been neglected. He would be left alone for a day or two at a time. I imagine at times it was longer. He wasn't always walked and frequently went to the bathroom in the room he stayed in. Sometimes he was fed balls of bread and leftover gravy when there was no money. It was painful to witness and yet it would have been over-stepping to intervene. And there was no doubt that Colby loved The Hellcat unconditionally. Despite the neglect, I'm sure the reverse was true as well.

In my anticipating this news, the hurt and hurtful side of me imagined a decidedly unsympathetic response. I thought I would express my surprise that the poor thing lived as long as he did. I thought that would really hurt if I said it. And I found that I couldn't. I thought about it. I dismissed the notion. I couldn't imagine being that nasty, no matter how angry I am or was. If somebody ever said something like that to me, I'd be devastated. So I simply shrugged. And turned away.

If it wasn't for Colby, I wouldn't have realized how much I loved having a dog in the house. If it wasn't for Colby, I wouldn't have Jet. He had a great face and the most expressive eyes. There were whole sentences in his eyes. Colby was a great little dog. Rest In Peace, little dude.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Welcome To Your Monday

Your long weekend is over and you're safely ensconced back in your cubicles or behind a desk somewhere. Hopefully, today will only be a day where the words "do you want fries with that?" will be asked of you and not by you. Not to denigrate our friends who have chosen a career in fast food. Some one's got to clog America's arteries.

On the other hand I am only half way through my weekend. And New York City is a bit of a swelter right now, as the heated temps from the west have finally pushed across the country. I slept till a bit after noon and then took my time getting started. My day mainly consisted of running errands. A trip to Home Depot for light bulbs and drain cleaner, the drugstore for travel shampoo for the gym and then to the laundromat to pick up a bag of clean clothes. Having my laundry done for me is one of the few luxuries that I regularly indulge myself. A lot of people tell me they're squeamish about letting other people do their laundry. Predictably, they usually mention the underwear. I've actually had many conversations with quite a few people who do laundry for a living. I try to impress upon people who've confessed their unease with a stranger touching their butt-floss that it takes a pretty colossal ego to imagine some immigrant launderer wants to have anything at all to do with your soiled underwear, beyond pitching it into a machine. Putting it on their head and doing an interpretive dance, let alone gathering in a pack in a basement somewhere to sniff it are pretty damn unlikely when it comes to your stretched out granny panties. Quite frankly, you're just not that hot. It's way more likely that whoever is handling your laundry is on the lookout for whatever disgusting mess you've wadded up in your laundry bag and let sit for a week or two. Like that white sock you wiped up your load with and forgot about. Don't think for a minute when they pull out a crusty stiff gym sock that they don't know what's on it. I've heard many a horror story about shit covered sheets that people think nothing of sending off to be laundered. I don't care if you're nursing a nun stricken with Alzheimer's. If she craps in the bed those sheets should be thrown away or hand washed in a sink. By you. In general, the only people that should clean up your poo besides you are your mom or your ICU nurse.

So today's agenda consists mainly of getting to the gym, getting a haircut (that's assuming my hot Croatian barber with the pretty DSL is on duty today) and taking in a Gay-A meeting. Also, I've been spending the last few days organizing a response to the letter regarding my neighbor and Jet, so I'll be spending part of the afternoon comfortably avoiding the heat while composing an appropriate albeit snarky response.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Holiday Video

As usual, I don't get a holiday. Not that I'm feeling sorry for myself. But I did take a certain smug sense of satisfaction when I woke to find the weather outside unseasonably cool and overcast for the 4th. Picnics would go on but at least no one around here would be enjoying the beach while I worked. Of course, there wasn't much work to do anyway. I managed to finish the weekly payroll and send it on to the CFO, insuring that the holiday won't impact Friday payday, at least on my end. Our customers consisted mostly of drunken British sailors and wayward non-English speaking tourists. Anybody with a lick of sense or communication skills managed to find the various outdoor festivals, free concerts and of course fireworks displays put on by my fair city. I decided to close up for the night when one of our only two tables in the house ordered just Freedom Fries (kidding). If you've decided to take the entire long weekend off I don't blame you. My weekend won't start until Sunday.

In any case, one of the things I enjoy about holidays is how certain TV stations will run marathons of some of their programming. You can sit and watch an entire season of Project Runway if you're so inclined. And my new DVR is paying off in spades. I finally have a library of crap to watch even if I don't get home 'till 5 am. No more boring World News Now, lots of Little People, Big World. You know, the important stuff.

One of the better marathons I stumbled on this weekend was courtesy of the BBC. Yesterday afternoon they aired back-to-back specials from British comedian Eddie Izzard. I had only seen one of his specials previously, and the BBC was kind enough to air 3 more. Maybe you won't see it, but I think his humor is exceedingly intelligent and I just love his delivery. Here's a fairly large (and timely) clip, you can find many more on YouTube:

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Of Note ...

pI wrote last summer about how I had developed an extremely allergic reaction to mosquito bites. It's been going on for about 5 yrs. or longer. A bite itches like crazy. The area starts out like the hives but grows and grows. By the end of a day it turns into a nasty red welt. By the next day it spreads out under the skin and becomes all hot and itchy. It sometimes takes over a week to stop itching and disappear. Besides being extremely painful it's horribly unattractive. So imagine how pleased and surprised I was to stumble on a treatment and cure. I'm not sure what they did, but the answer is in a bottle of Off! Skintastic IV. While it would obviously prevent bites in the first place, I've found that after I've been bit, applying the OFF! to the area stops the itch in a matter of minutes. Whatever swelling has taken place recedes in a few hours as well. By the end of the day, if you leave the bite alone, you can barely see it. I know that other people have suffered extreme reactions to mosquito bites from looking up data on the 'net. If you do, or you know someone who does, tell them to try Off! Skintastic IV. It's a fucking miracle!

In other news ...

You knew it was coming. Michael Lucas has truly lost her mind. I think all that botox finally seeped in and paralyzed the edit button in his brain. Not that I necessarily disagree with the underlying sentiment expressed, and I'm truly a fan of telling it like it is, or like you think it is, but damn, she really went off the rails and over the top with that one, huh? Michael, sweetie, the fact that you managed to work the phrase "a sagging, hairy Muslim pussy" into your first paragraph makes me think you maybe should have taken a deep breath and a run around the block before you hit "publish" on this one.

Monday, July 02, 2007

I'm Innocent I Tell Ya!

Look at him. Does this look like the face of someone who would steal a red roller gel pen that had rolled off a table on to the floor? Does it then look like the face of someone who would take said pen up on to the new couch cover pictured here? Does it now look like the face of someone who would chew said red pen on top of said new couch cover until the pen burst, spilling red ink all over the new couch cover? And while he was at it, does it look like he would get the red ink all over his paws and down his chest and proceed to track it in to the bedroom and on to my blue sheets? Because I can assure you, this is precisely what that face looks like. Fortunately (for him) the ink mostly came out of the couch cover, enough so that it will after another wash I expect. It didn't really come out of the sheets though, but I did manage to wash and turn them so you don't see the stain easily. And I buy sheets as often as I buy footwear (read: often). Also fortunate, his satisfied wagging when I expressed my dismay at the scene made me realize rather quickly he has no idea what ink nor, I expect what the color red is. So his punishment consisted of a vigorous bath and a good stern talking to. Followed by biscuits and kisses.