Thursday, June 28, 2007


It's out, it's out, it's OUT!!

I D-14'd it for 505 long days, walking around with this thing in my chest like some kind of refugee from one of the Alien movies.

I honestly felt like that little piece of engineering might just come flying out of my body at any moment, the way it protruded so attractively between my collarbone and my bra strap.

Zach kept saying that it was hardly noticeable at all and that I was exaggerating wildly.

All I know is that I noticed it every single day.

I felt it every time I lay down on my right side or stretched my right arm over my head.

I saw it in the mirror every time I got out of the shower.

I thought about it whenever I wanted to wear something with a V-neck, or a scoop neck—or any kind of neck, really, other than a crew or a turtle, and I haven't been wearing too many of those. (Just ask any thermostatically challenged post-menopausal woman how often she likes to wear clothes with constricting necklines. Let's just say that it's hard enough to deal with one's own personal heat waves in a tank top, let alone anything more confining.)

The very same surgeon who put the port in last February took it out first thing this morning. The whole thing was over so quickly that Zach barely had time to get a cup of coffee before they called him into the recovery room.

It'll be a couple of weeks before the stitches are out and the soreness disappears, but I don't mind.

I'm free, I'm free, I'm FREE!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Keystone Knowers

Well, now we're in the realm of farce.

Yesterday, Zach and I arrived home at about 5:30 in the morning, having spent an unforeseeably long night flipping the house upstate in time for our next renters to arrive later this week.

We might have stayed another night if we weren't driving a rental car that was due back in Brooklyn by 8AM. (Because the 17-year-old engine of our own car can no longer be trusted, we are treating it like any other teenager: It's grounded. This hurts us way more than it hurts the car.)

The rental place didn't open until 7:30AM, so we drove straight home, where we saw that a spot was open on our block, right behind our decrepit ragptop. We parked, got out, and had started unloading the car when Zach noticed that our ragtop was a little more ragged than it was when we left on Friday.

That's because someone had slashed the top and broken into the car.

Now we have lived in New York City long enough to know better than to leave anything tempting in a car we park on the street, so we knew that nothing of consequence could have been taken. But that didn't stop the miscreant (or miscreants) from breaking the lock on our glove box or from breaking into our trunk. As far as we can tell, the perpetrator(s) made off with one mini Maglite flashlight and a few quarters that Zach keeps—hidden—in the ashtray.

Just as all this was sinking in, we ferried the first load of stuff from the rental car into our apartment, where we discovered that our cats were not at all amused that we hadn't made it home in time for dinner. Their dinner, that is. They (or she, if it was only one) peed in the middle of our bed and crapped in three different places: the bed (just to be thorough, I guess), the kitchen, and outside the litter box.

While Zach secured the ragtop, I cleaned up the indoor messes and gave the cats their very belated dinner. We finally closed our eyes—lying directly on top of the vinyl mattress protector we were smart enough to buy at some point—at about 6AM. I got up an hour and a half later to return the rental car.

A few hours after that, when we were both awake but still more than a little groggy, we heard the unmistakable sound of a street sweeper outside our window.

That's when Zach remembered that the ragtop was parked on the wrong side of the street. When we first arrived home, he had made a mental note to move the car before the 11AM street-cleaning deadline. And it was now well past 11AM.

Before he even went outside to check, we both knew that there would be a $45 ticket on our windshield.

Zach made the best of the situation. He left the ticket and the car where they were.

The way the alternate-side-of-the-street parking regulations work around here, we now have a legal parking spot until Thursday at 11.

If you have a really twisted view of the world, I guess you could call that good luck.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Mind Over Bad Luck and Other Matter

On Thursday, Zach received what's called a "session fee" for the work he did on an upcoming series of commercials for a show on the SciFi channel.

We had been feeling more than a little dejected in the wake of the disappearance of my laptops and the back window of our car, followed by the news—which came after we spent a couple of hundred bucks replacing the window—that our engine was in its last throes of driving life.

I wasn't home when the mail came on Thursday, so I didn't know that the check had arrived. I had gone out to see my dad and then turned around and headed to a restaurant downtown where we going to meet friends for dinner. I got there first.

A little while later, Zach walked into the restaurant, brandished the check, and announced that he had made up his mind: our luck had officially changed. This check was the turning point, he said, and from now on, it was going to be only good things for us.

Of course, it was an entirely arbitrary decision on his part. The check itself wasn't really any kind of portent. We knew all along that the session fee would be coming. We just didn't know exactly when. (These things can take a while.)

Then again, bad luck is, by definition, arbitrary. So why not practice a little psychological jujitsu on the wave of misfortune that keeps crashing down upon us?

So that is our new philosophy.

We are going to doublehandedly turn back the tide.

Yes indeedy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Spring Summer Cleaning

I have in my mind the image of an art restorer working patiently to take off the top layer of paint—not to mention grime—that is obscuring the masterpiece underneath.

I have this image in mind because Zach and I have begun to do a similar thing, where the top layer of paint is all of our accumulated stuff (including grime) and the masterpiece (or work in progress) underneath is our life.

Yesterday, Zach went upstate and got rid of something like 10 contractor bags full of debris and other junk from the renovations, plus what seemed like a metric ton of cardboard—basically the packaging from every single assemble-it-yourself piece of furniture we bought from Ikea, including a kitchenful of cabinets, three beds, six nightstands, four dressers, two coffee tables, two side tables, a bookshelf, a dining-room table, ten chairs, and a bunch of stuff I am forgetting.

Today, I went through nearly every piece of clothing I own, skimming a respectable amount for the give-away pile and organizing the rest. Tomorrow we begin to tackle the papers that have colonized our living room. Soon after I will mow down my stacks of newspapers—and magazines.

Eventually we will get to the basement. That will require a lot of intestinal fortitude and possibly some Valium.

With the house upstate we strove for—and achieved, I think—visual calm. Even though we finished the place (well, mostly) just in time to turn it over to renters, seeing it in that nearly pristine condition for even a few minutes made me ache for the same kind of peaceful landscape here in our regular digs.

If life is going to continue to be turbulent, I hope at least our home can be tranquil.

We could use an oasis right about now.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Computer Crashing (Not That Kind)

Zach is graciously allowing me to share his computer while we wait for my laptops to magically reappear figure out how to replace mine.

This works fairly well when we are in the same place, but, as a solution, leaves something to be desired when we are, say, a few hours' drive apart. And that is what we will be for the next 24-48 hours.

So please bear with me as I try to live as a Luddite for a brief period.

Also, if you have any suggestions for finding a "new" laptop (i.e., one that is old enough to be really cheap but young enough to still be an improvement over, say, semaphore), please sing out.

Many thanks to all.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Then Again

My new laptop was stolen on Tuesday.

My old laptop was also stolen on Tuesday.

The window from the back of our convertible got dislodged somehow and blew off while Zach was zooming up the highway on the way to our house, also on Tuesday.

Our first renters show up in approximately 28 hours, and we have approximately 2,800 things to do to get ready for them.

One of those things is to print out a bunch of information I had written up and saved. On my computer.

We are pressing on, but it has not been the easiest of weeks.

And that doesn't include the quality time I've spent in the purgatory known as Ikea's returns and exchanges department.

I miss Greece.

Friday, June 08, 2007

No Stress

We met many wonderful people on our trip—mainly artists, restaurateurs, shopkeepers, innkeepers, and fellow travelers—and a few of them have already contributed to the vocabulary of our relationship.

Over and over, in a variety of contexts, the charming, chain-smoking artist we met on Santorini said to us, "No stress, no stress" in his mellifluous Greek accent. We have been repeating it like a mantra ever since. (The emphasis is on the "no.")

Good thing, too, because we are now upstate, working furiously to ready the house for our very first renters, who arrive next Friday. It's a huge project for which we have an unforgiving deadline and a very limited budget, a combination more commonly seen on reality-TV shows like Project Runway and Top Chef. Fortunately, no one has been taping our exploits.

We have encountered several snags and plenty of stressors since arriving last night. But each time, we have been able to channel our friend Andreas and his words of wisdom. (To get the full effect, you really have to double up the phrase.)

There will still be times—possibly even this very week—that call for a D-14 approach. But more often than not, I think we will go Greek and try not get worked up about things.

Plus we just like to say, "No stress, no stress" in the best Greek accents we can muster.

Go ahead. Try it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


We arrived home late yesterday afternoon, tired and hungry and happy, trying hard to hang onto that post-vacation glow. And "vacation" isn't really even the right word, because it was so much more than that.

It was physical and mental distance from the many tribulations of the past couple of years.

It was the highest-quality quality time we've had in ages.

It was sights and sounds and smells and tastes we'd never experienced before.

It was sunsets and thunderstorms and the bluest water we've ever seen.

It was foreign tongues and universal gestures.

It was world capitals and tiny villages, islands and mountains, mopeds and ferries.

It was unplugged and wi-fi.

It was no alarm clocks.

It was dessert every day, sometimes more than once.

It was the Parthenon and the Eiffel Tower and dirt roads and olive groves.

It was 18 days with my one true love.

It was a dream and a reality.

It was a complete surprise.

It was everything I could have wished for.