Monday, October 31, 2011

Closet Case

OhthankGod, Lee fixed my closet.

It was becoming one of those projects where, upon initial cataclysm, you realize that it's going to take some time and effort to fix. And then the initial problem just seems to grow and grow, until it becomes wholly nightmarish and unmanageable.

The time-table looks a little something like this:

1. CRASHBANGBOOM. Closet impodes. Clothes scatter. Cats further traumatized.
2. Pick path through detritus to get close enough to site of impact for inspection.
3. Shelves/bar down. Assess situation. Maybe just nail it back in?
4. No. Chunk of drywall came out. This will require screws.
5. Screws look dodgy. This looks like it needs super glue.
6. Super glue bad choice.

three days later

7. Clothes everywhere in a roiling sea of textiles; hangers poking up like danger sticks ready to impale. Can't find black cardigan. Or button-down. Or left dress shoe. All is lost in mounds and mounds of clothes.
8.Small Troubled Cat missing for forty five minutes. Emerged bleary-eyed from Sea of Clothing.

two days later

9. Late for work because could not find pants. Could have worn other pants, which were findable, but they didn't match the shirt I had found. Wearing findable pants meant looking for another impossible-to-find shirt. Catch-22.
10. In moment of fury, collect all clothing and create neat piles, organized roughly by their approximate location within previous closet set-up.

later that night

11. Neat piles exploded. I suspect cat involvement.
12. Impale foot on broken hanger.
13. Cry.
14. This is impossible.
15. I am going to have to hire construction worker to fix closet.
16. Call Lee.

After a brief ten-minute inspection, a trip to Home Depot, and less than an hour of magical work by Lee that involved hammering, the use of a power drill, and much muttering from Lee to himself, my closet was fixed. And secure. And he even hung a mirror for me in the downstairs bathroom. The entire operation took about an hour and a half, start-to-finish. After that, I cracked open the last of the pumpkin beers, and set to work folding, hanging, stacking, and organizing.

As a result: I now have a REAL CLOSET with CLOTHES THAT ARE HANGING UP. This was the last real feat of the Big Move, and I finally for the first time last night felt settled. I know where my black cardigan is! I know where my left shoe is! In the proper cubby hole next to the right one! I have a floor again! I don't live in fear of a cat suffocating!

Now, lest you think that my life has been consumed with unpacking and organizing (how horribly boring - clearly I am beginning to mellow out in my old age when my idea of a good time is ORGANIZATIONAL TOYS and a nice glass of chianti to aid the process), my boyfriend and I hit up Maisy's for the Forgotten Cocktail Club on Friday night with Lee and Hot Curry. The staff there rounded up some truly talented bartenders, put on some old-timey music, and displayed digital prints of Speakeasys. The fact that it was held in the basement, and that you entered through what looked from the dining room to be a coat closet, helped infuse the Speakeasy atmosphere.

The bartenders had a pretty impressive list of fares, including long-antiquated favorites like a champagne Pimms cup, absinthe, and drinks that include egg whites as a major ingredient. We sampled as many as we could (which was probably too many - old timey cocktails are apparently VERY VERY sweet, so moderation is key!) and came away with the idea that vodka sodas are boooooooooriiiiing.

Pictured here: an Anise Absinthe Smash and an Apricot Fizz. With egg whites. Total deliciousness.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Satan Cat

My roommate's cat wants to kill me.

Both of my new roommates are pretty chill. I bonded with one over the fact that I came home and she was watching "Someone Like You" (win) and I bonded with the other when she asked me, "Do we have any beer in this house? Can I drink it? I'll buy more tomorrow."

Also, because one of the two is from Poland, we decided that living together offered the perfect opportunity for us each to practice our rusty German skills. This began as a challenge to only speak German whilst in the house, and is playing out in a sort of Germish way: "Hey, konnen wir dieses channel change?" and "I'm going for a laufe."

But conflict within New House deals entirely with the felines who must now share it. This is problematic because:
1. My roommate's cat is the devil
2. My cats are overly friendly and dumb

(Well, one of my cats is overfriendly and dumb. The other, Fiona, is what my boyfriend refers to as "the small troubled one." She is the one that got stuck in a dryer for five minutes when she was a kitten and as a result is now a fully-grown adult cat weighing five pounds and afraid of anything that is bigger than she is, which is pretty much everything.)

My roommate's cat; we shall call her Satan; is a hissing, spitting mess of a cat. My first weekend there, my dumb and friendly cat, Sushi, was innocently sniffing around when Satan came FROM OUT OF NOWHERE and not only tore up my cat's ear, but chased both of us upstairs and sat outside my door, howling and scratching, for a good ten minutes. I called my roommate in a panic to ask her to come and remove the thing from my doorway so that I could have proper egress to and from my room. I was locked inside in terror until she came home and assured me that Satan was safely put away in her room.

So now Sushi has a jacked-up ear and a host of irrational fears.

Which means I now have two troubled cats.

After a lot of Internet research and strategizing, my roommate and I came up with a six-week plan of action that involves separation, letting the cats out at alternate times, rewarding with attention and treats, and a host of other Cat Whisperer-type things that will hopefully ease the transition.

It's a transition for all of us. I am used to dumb, overly friendly cats who want nothing more in the world than to be ascloseaspossible to you, and who don't actually use teeth and claws when playing. A few weeks ago I came home to find Satan sitting at the top of the stairs, eyeballing me, and in an attempt to ascend the stairs to my room, the cat began a warning display of growling and hissing.

I chose to stay downstairs for awhile. If Satan wants the landing - Satan gets the landing.

I'm going to have to stop kowtowing to a ten-pound ball of fur.

(But it's armed with razor blades and hate!)

In other news, Lee is coming over to resuscitate my closet this weekend. This is excellent news. I had a dream the other night that I was late for an event and couldn't find the dress I was supposed to wear. I was drowning in piles of clothes and shoes, unable to locate said dress, and panicking. This is no good.

In other news, tonight Lee, Hot Curry, and the boyfriend and I are all going to the first event of the Forgotten Cocktail Club. Because who doesn't jones for a singapore sling now and then?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

I have been in New House in New Neighborhood for just about two weeks. Last night, I met the boyfriend at one of the wine bars on my new street. Not only was I greeted by name by the bartender, but the owner came over, slapped me on the back, said "Hello, neighbor!" and offered us some special olives to taste.

It's not so much now that I moved to a new neighborhood in the city. It's beginning to feel like I somehow finally moved Home.

Because what is home without an easily-accessible wine bar?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


So, after the whirlwind of the last couple of months, I finally woke up on Sunday and realized that I feel like I can breathe again.

Less than a week into New House, I came home from work one evening to discover that my closet had imploded. Both cats were hiding under the bed, and I suspect they are still in shock. It seems the entire bar came out of the wall, bringing with it the upper shelf, all of my clothes, and a good chunk of drywall. So, while the rest of my room is beginning to take on an orderly fashion with books put away, desk set up, and even a picture or two on the walls, my closet remains a cavernous hole filled with hangers poking every which way and clothing lumped up in piles.

So the closet situation is going to require some heavy-duty fixin' and DIY'ing. Which means a lot of Googling and YouTube'ing. How did anyone get anything done before the Internets?

At least there's no mold.

All of this has caused me to suddenly be Domestic. The other day, I installed a towel bar. By myself. Using power tools. (That I borrowed from my parents.) I met with the cable and internet providers when they wired the house. I fixed the garbage disposal that had a stuck wheel. I took apart and put back together multiple sets of IKEA furniture. (Meaning I helped my boyfriend identify the various plugs and screws and held particle board in place while he orchestrated the actual decon/con. Semantics.)

And then I ran a half-marathon. Thousands of people running, and just as many lining the streets of Baltimore, cheering and holding out hands for high-fives. The most glorious moment was just before the finish when the route takes you THROUGH Camden Yards, with everyone screaming and photos being taken, bands playing, balloons a'flying. I crossed the finish line in two hours, two minutes. My goal was two hours. After the killer hills, I will take the additional two minutes in stride.

My dad stuck with us for the first 4-5 miles, and then paced back a bit. Catalano and my boyfriend and I stuck together until about the last mile. He finished in just over two hours, and Catalano finished just a minute behind me.

And then I puked. First time for that. I finished the race feeling pretty shaky, and decided that what I needed immediately was lots of fluids and something to eat. I managed to eat part of a bagel and a whole banana, and then we got into the beer line. I kept feeling worse and worse, but trying to convince myself that it would pass and I would feel better. Not even half a beer in, everything came back up. In front of everyone. Nothing like ralphing with friends and family looking on.

The boyfriend kindly convinced me that only real athletes puke, and recounted the number of times he's retched before, during, and after swim practices in college. I later found out that two of my trivia girls also let loose - one at a water stop, and one ON the finish line. Both of those seem far more epic than a Beer Garden Retch, to be honest.

I spent the rest of the afternoon in bed, and it was glorious. When I finally rallied around 7pm, all I wanted in the world was a bison burger. And I had one. With french fries. AND CHEESE. And it was divine.

I spent the next three days limping with insanely sore quadriceps, and didn't really feel better until I got a run in yesterday. This is better than Lee who, upon running his first half marathon a few years ago, went out on a marathon drinking spree and was unable to walk at all the next day. I, at least, had the use of my legs.

So now, I am looking for the next race, the next challenge. I know I'm not prepared - mentally or physically - to take on a full marathon yet, but ultimately I think I'd like to knock one out in the next couple of years. I need to get a few more halfs in first, however, ideally without puking.

In other news, in all of the chaos of work, moving, running, and the thousands of regularly-scheduled programs I have going on in my life anyway, I got a parking ticket. It was my own fault: I was unloading my car one rainy night after an epic Costco run, and parked illegally thinking I'd be out of there before I could get ticketed. No lie, an officer stuck me with a $77 parking ticket in the ten or so minutes it took me to unload my frozen foods.

I have inordinate amounts of rage when it comes to things like parking tickets. It's all entirely relative of course: I don't understand why meter maids aren't doing their jobs when I see someone else parked like an asshole, and I scream victimization when I myself park like an asshole and get a ticket. (Sort of like how I get angry at pedestrians when I'm driving and angry at drivers when I'm walking.) But with my sudden need for STUFF (who knew I was going to need a shower caddy AND hooks for my aprons in the kitchen??), I feel as though I'm hemorrhaging money, and racking up a $77 parking ticket in less than ten minutes feels agonizing.

Because I am naturally a very graceful person who is well able to mask anger and carry myself with aplomb, I of course didn't immediately get shaky lower lip and call the meter maid a name that would make a sailor gasp. I of course didn't do anything so rash and childish as then proceed to wave the ticket in the air and weave an eloquent tapestry of curse words while standing out on the sidewalk. I didn't call into question the intelligence of the assigning officer, and I certainly didn't bring Baltimore City Parking Authority into it.


My boyfriend, from whom I initially attempted to hide my proclivity for violent bursts of outrage upon feelings of victimization by unseen forces (and occasionally inanimate objects that trip me, hide my keys, or otherwise complicate my life), was privy to this obviously mature and logical outburst. He had that look on his face that's a cross between "Should I offer a distraction; say, an ice cream cone?" and "I have never met this person before in my life, Officer."

One thing that has arisen out of the mellowing that has come with my late twenties is that these outbursts are far shorter than they used to be. Within the hour, we were watching documentaries on Discovery Health about phantom pregnancies and weird phobias, and I was quite content.

Until a week later, when it suddenly occurred to me that I ought to check the due date on that parking ticket. Because I presumably owed SOMEBODY, SOMEWHERE some moolah for my egregious parking. While my life is cluttered and busy, I tend to have a photographic memory of where things are located (making it all the more infuriating when something gets moved and I can't find it) and I specifically remembered sticking the parking ticket in the middle of the front seats by the gear shift so that I wouldn't lose it. So that it would be staring me in the face and I would remember to pay it.

Except it wasn't there. It wasn't on the floor, in the seat, tucked carefully into the glove compartment or center console, and wasn't even in my bag or wallet. The thing had gone missing.

I assumed that the city of Baltimore just wanted its money, and I could go to the website, enter in my tag number, and it would spit back at me the amount I owed and tell me again what a horrible crime I had committed for "blocking an unmarked" (UN-FREAKING-MARKED, mind you) "pedestrian walkway." But still, losing things irks me to no end, and I wondered if perhaps in my fit of blind rage I had eaten the ticket or shoved it somewhere unsightly. Because my boyfriend was witness to everything, I casually asked him if he remembered what I'd done with the ticket and said that if I couldn't find it, I could probably just try to track it through my tag number.

"You could," he reasoned, "but it would be a waste of time."

"Why? You sort of have to pay parking tickets, it's kind of the law..."

"Well, maybe it was already paid."

Say whaaaaaaaaaat?

Lemme tell you about modern romance. You can leave the flowers, the chocolates, the love notes, the little gifts, and all those trappings of Hallmark flirtation and give me a man who steals parking tickets out of your car and pays them. This is also the guy who has filled my gas tank, fixed all of my electronics, helped me move twice, doesn't flinch when I spill red wine on his carpet, and doesn't mind touching my disgusting feet with the missing toenail when I am hard up for a foot rub. Swoon.

I did give him Portal Coasters a couple of weeks ago. That has to count for something.

So, settling into New House in New Neighborhood and resting my horribly-aching quads. There is a bit of a lull between now and the holidays where I feel as though I can finally catch my breath a bit, but somehow things never remain that quiet for that long, so I'm just trying to take advantage of the brief glimpse of down time. And figuring out how the hell to fix my closet.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Puked and Lost a Toenail

Well worth it, and now consider myself a real runner. What's next?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Take Your Mark


The last couple weeks of life have been chaotic (but, really, when is life ever not chaotic?), hence the lack of posting. I feel as though I came back from vacation, packed up my life, and moved in the span of about two and a half weeks. Oh wait...that's exactly what happened.

Life is again a flurry of boxes and bubble wrap, only this time it's a more settled feeling. My new house is beautiful, the neighborhood is divine, and things are slowly but surely beginning to develop new patterns and routines. A week into the new house, and I can make my way from my room to the bathroom downstairs at night without the lights on. I call this progress.

Oh, and tomorrow I'm gonna run a half marathon. You know, no big deal.

Actually, wait; it is a big deal. I've been training for this thing for eleven weeks. And while I haven't had time to update the mileage to the right of this page, I know that I've put 175 miles on these feet since August in preparation for this.

Icing on the cake - my dad, my boyfriend, and Catalano are all running too. My lone hobby became a project for my boyfriend and me, and I will say that training with a partner was much, much easier than training alone. We did all of our long runs together, starting at 8 and working up to 12.5. We had difficult runs where we could barely pick our feet up off the ground, and runs where we finished before we realized. I have to say, I probably got the better end of the deal - training with someone who was a college athlete was a huge asset. I learned what to eat, how to stretch, when to rest, when to push. The best part: I had someone to rub my shins and shoulders and work the knots out of my calves.

What?! I cooked him dinner on many occasions!

So this half marathon will be a family-and-friend affair, and I couldn't be more excited. And a little nervous. I've been working towards this for the last few months, but also I feel as though I've been mentally prepping for this for the past year. Last year when I ran the relay, I knew this was something I wanted to do. The greatest physical challenge I've taken on thus far.

And one of those bucket list things: run a half marathon before you're thirty.

Shoot. I should probably make a list of all those things I was supposed to do before thirty. Because that's in like...7.5 months. Damn. I need to get busy figuring out world peace, writing a best-seller, and penning a Billboard top single.

But first...I think I'll unpack some more boxes. And run 13.1 miles.

Monday, October 3, 2011


(I feel as though I may have already titled a blog post "Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes." But I'm too lazy to go back and look. Eh.)

Everything is changing.

The past year has sort of been a whirlwind of change. A flurry of engagements, marriages, big moves, career changes, babies, and a host of other milestones have been happening all around me. In the coming months, Lee and Hot Curry will move to Utah*, some friends are hoping to start families, others are facing big career changes.

In some stroke of extraordinary good luck, it took me five days to find a new place to live. Well, five days, infinite emails, phone calls, Craigslist lurkings, two properties falling through, and multiple sketchy potential roommates. Last Saturday, however, I got the call from a girl with whom I'd been looking for houses. She'd found it, THE house, gorgeous, in our price range, lots of space, three bedrooms and a third roommate already lined up. Ready to go October 1. She was standing in this gorgeous house holding an application, ready to sign and put down a deposit if I was in.

The catch: the house isn't in Federal Hill.

I have lived in the same 20-block radius of Federal Hill since 2007. Four and a half years. I've moved twice since I first arrived here from Florida, shaking the sand and dead lizards out of boxes. I know every crack in the sidewalk, every short cut, the hours of every liquor store, and where I can always, always find a parking space when I'm hard up. My friends all live here, my trivia is here, my vet/dentist/pharmacy/gym are here.

Now, granted, New House is geographically situated less than a mile away. But changing neighborhoods in Baltimore is akin to changing boroughs in New York. Not only that, it forces you to vastly recalibrate everything from your morning cup of coffee to where you can buy eggs at 10pm if you need to. WHICH SOMETIMES I DO.

So, I decided that this house needed to be nothing short of spectacular to make me give up the comfort of my daily routine. I went over to view the space, and my decision became more difficult, because it was. Spectacular, that is. Partially compared to where I'm living now, where the house is crumbling down around us, and partially compared to some of the spaces I'd seen previously. Nothing like a hovel that's outside of your price range to make you want to give up and live in a box. But this's beautiful. It's large, it's open, it's full of light, it's on a pretty little street in an eclectic neighborhood with some of the best restaurants in the world. And it's in my price range. Well within, I might add.

You get stuck in your bubble, in your routines and habits, in the patterns that make up daily life. Moving to a new house disrupts this, but you adapt. Moving to a new neighborhood completely changes things. But I'll adapt.

And change, I've found, is not a bad thing. A new perspective, new habits and patterns. With the comfort of knowing I'm still a ten minute cab ride or half hour walk from my old 'hood.

So, I filled out an application and left a deposit. I picked up the keys and signed a lease a week later. And life is filled with boxes and packing tape again, with changing addresses and begging my friends and family to come and help me - again - a mere six months after I previously moved.

And this time, it really is a move. A big change. Time to go forward, to adapt again, to begin again a little bit less than a mile away but in a different mind set and different physical orientation.

And, yes, high levels of stress. Moving makes me want to chew my own skin off. No lie. But from start to finish, it's been less than three weeks since I came back from vacation, discovered I needed to move, found a place, and will have everything done next weekend (I hope). At some point, I'll congratulate myself on this whirlwind of proactivity but, for the mean time, it's back to packing and purging. (The one good thing about moving being the sudden proclivity to throw all of one's crap away - less to move.)

And, also, it's not like I'm moving to Utah.

(*I need to include this fact because both were quite reticent to allow me to move out of Federal Hill, at which point we would no longer be neighbors of sorts. I reminded them, politely, that wherever I move in October, they are moving to UTAH in November. They told me I was being selfish and rude for leaving Federal Hill before them. How utterly insensitive of me.)