Friday, March 3, 2017

“Lunch Before Tiffany’s” is coming right now to a blog near you

lunch before tiffanys

This past Thursday, my sister Shawn & I traveled to Pittsburgh—namely, my old stomping grounds—to find a new apartment for yours truly.  Doug, are you serious?  Didn’t you just move back to your hometown 5-6 months ago?  Didn’t you sign a year’s lease?   Yes, yes & yes--but it’s amazing how quickly things can spin in a new and exciting direction.  Just this past weekend, my sister invited me over for Sunday dinner (chili, baked potatoes & cornbread).  Never one to turn down a free meal and spend some time visiting family, I gratefully accepted their invitation.  Still, I was feeling pretty despondent and having a tough time not showing it.

I’ve been trying to not walk around with a dark cloud over my head, but the truth is, it’s been getting increasingly difficult to hide my feelings.   I wish I hadn’t given up my life in the city.  As soon as my lease is up, I want to move back to Pittsburgh & maybe find a new job too.  Shawn & my brother-in-law Jim know how I feel, and while they care enough to want me to stay, they love me enough to know I have to go back. 

And then it happened:  Monday morning, I’m sitting here on my (borrowed) couch watching MSNBC & sipping coffee when I get a phone call.  Without going into any details (too many things to be finalized) I received an offer almost too good to be true.  I’ve now got just a couple months to beat this TMJ once & for all and haul my butt back to Pittsburgh!

I immediately jumped on Craigslist, and after spending 3 days making phone calls, scheduling appointments with rental managers and filling out credit applications, we made the trek to the city to look at apartments.  Shawn asked if we could see all the ones on my list after I signed a lease for the first one—from what we saw online, we were sure it was going to be a slam-dunk.  (Sadly, it wasn’t; a dingy pair of tiny rooms behind a black metal door at the top of several flights of rickety steps, it’s windows pressed tight against a rusted, peeling house of horrors.)  From there, things went from bad to worse—I mean DECREPIT—and we were soon down to the last apartment on my list, in a long cluster of units behind Kuhn’s Market.  With an hour to kill before the showing, we had lunch at the pizza parlor up the street from my former digs, while I lamented that I never should’ve given up my old place, even if it was in a poorly managed building.  (Well, at least the steak hoagies we had for lunch were excellent!) 

We were about to find out just how bad things can get.  The final address on my list—3 vacancies in a crumbling complex—came with rotted carpeting, wrecked bathrooms and black mold running down the walls.  While the rental agent nonchalantly took pictures of the despair with his iphone, Shawn & I got in my car to head home.

And then it happened—we’re driving down the main drag of my former neighborhood, into the neighboring area called Avalon, when Shawn said she wished we could’ve seen some of the apartments she saw online at the Tiffany, and wondered where it was located.  I replied “Well, I think it’s mostly elderly folk, and probably run down inside… but who wants to live on the main drag with all this traffic?  Anyway… it’s right over there.” 

Shawn yelled “WHAT!” and hit the brakes.

tiffany apts

The Tiffany, on California Avenue

She said “Can’t we see if there’s any vacancies??”  I said of course not, you have to schedule appointments at least a day in advance.  She said “There’s a small sign out front with the property management’s phone number, can’t we just call and ask?” 

I shrugged my shoulders and said okay, not really expecting anyone would answer, it was almost 5:00pm.  But sure enough, someone picked up on the other end & said they’d send an agent right over.  My sister’s curiosity would be sated, at least.

I suppose you can guess what happened next; 20 minutes later, a graying yuppie around my age showed up, clipboard in hand & jangle of keys, and took us into the Tiffany.  I noted the large, expansive lobby.  It was empty but very clean.  Jay (the agent) said “They just remodeled this, they’re going to put in some new furniture down here too.”  We go in, head to a nearby elevator, and he presses the button for the 4th floor.  We followed him into two apartments that were remodeled from top to bottom, modern, immaculate & absolutely perfect.


New carpeting in the livingroom & bedroom, new windows, soundproof; parquet flooring in the dining area, kitchen tiles, maple cabinets, matching appliances include a dishwasher—all new, every square inch of it

(He also showed us one with all parquet floors & solid cherry cabinets that my sister liked better, but ApacheDug loves his carpeting ESPECIALLY WHEN ITS THIS QUALITY & BRAND NEW.)

After we picked our respective chins up from the floor, opened various closet & kitchen drawers (and I ran the water in the bathroom & kitchen) we thanked him profusely for his time and happily headed home, talking excitedly all the way.  I got up early this morning, spent nearly TWO HOURS filing out various credit & rental applications, then sat here biting my nails until 1:30 waiting for a response.  I was finally approved, will be moving in on April 1 & that’s no April Fools joke!

Truth be told, I absolutely dread the idea of moving again—I wish I could kick myself for throwing away $65.00 worth of packing material and boxes carefully labeled with the contents from when I moved HERE 6 months ago—but who knew I’d be leaving so soon??   I want to yell “rats!” but I can’t complain.  I’m too happy about going back to the city, and having something I can be proud to call HOME.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Strippers, splints & a split nation: Meanwhile, life goes on for most of us

two splints


A couple days ago, I got a call from the dentist’s office letting me know my new occlusal splint was here, c’mon in & let’s see how it fits.  For the last couple months I’ve been wearing a large, green rubbery sports guard between my teeth (at bedtime) to let the muscles in my jaw relax some, but it made my teeth & gums sore and I usually woke up each morning with the thing clenched in my fist or somewhere under the covers.  This new (clear) appliance was custom-fitted to my mouth & is a very hard acrylic, but more comfortable to wear.  (It’s also a lot more expensive; the sports guard from Wal-Mart was $5.00, the custom one cost me $250.00!)

When I asked the dentist how long I’ll need to wear this thing, she said “Probably for the rest of your life, you didn’t know that?  You have a serious jaw disorder, it’s not going to just go away like a cold or the flu.  In time this may help reduce the rigidity of your masseters, and prevent this from happening again.”   All I know is, it allows my jaw to relax some at night; I don’t have to make a conscious effort to keep my teeth separated (as my swollen jaw muscles tend to push down the insides of my mouth and clamp my teeth shut).   Isn’t this fun reading?

Doug, get to the part about the stripper… ok, ok!  This is something I shared on Facebook yesterday, the day after I got my splint:

Back in the mid 90s, a couple of the women in my office decided to hire a stripper for our IT manager’s birthday, “Nurse Candy” to surprise our boss during our weekly Friday meeting. When Candy & her giant silicone boobs arrived, she set down a little pink boombox and began doing her number. The 2 girls who arranged the surprise clapped & laughed—while the rest of us sat there in stunned silence. A couple women turned their heads, others looked down at the floor, one person covered their face with their hands.

Yesterday afternoon I sat in my doctor’s office waiting room, along with 5-6 other people watching Trump’s first “press conference” play out on the waiting-room tv. The reactions from the people around me were just the same as that awkward IT meeting 20 years ago! Just saying Don't tell anyone smile

What I didn’t add was that after that press conference, one of the women in that waiting room said “I guess none of us are Republican…”  and an older gent said “I am, so is my wife.. but we didn’t vote for this.”   I don’t know if he meant he didn’t vote for Trump, or didn’t vote for Trump’s godawful, delusional ravings but I suppose it doesn’t matter.  This piece of shit is now in office, it’s only been one month and I think he’s made his agenda quite clear:  he doesn’t have one.  Adore him or suffer the consequences.

Getting back to Facebook, I wonder if the liberals on there, or the “sore losers”, are feeling worn down, defeated like me.  I hope that’s not the case.  They once voiced their fears for immigrants, womens rights & the environment, and shared links of ominous warnings from more popular liberals (like Dan Rather, Michael Moore) that we’re doomed.  But aside from a couple die-hards, have grown quiet.  Most now share the usual hodgepodge of things, myself included, and life goes on it seems. 

All I know is, for the last couple days my teeth have been chattering.  I don’t know if it’s a side effect from that acrylic splint, or listening to Trump’s Hitleresque rants, or both.  It’s probably a little bit of both.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Just click your heels and say “There’s no place like one year ago… there’s no place like one year ago…”

just click your heels

Sometimes, when I haven’t anything better to do, I go online & visit my blog here to see what I was up to around this date a year or two ago.  I see that this time last year, I was excitedly comparing my ongoing weight loss to 8 sacks of sugar and the February before that… well, you get the idea.

I admit my life (for the most part) has been a pretty boring one, but up until a few months ago it was a comfortable one too; I enjoyed my daily routine and familiar surroundings.   Why I gave it all up, along with years of accumulated books & other things to move back to a hometown which hasn’t been my hometown for thirty years… into a dowdy apartment no less, overrun by a hyper-watchful landlord (who stormed into my place one night because I had my kitchen window cranked open a couple inches while it was sprinkling outside)… it was a poor decision made under duress, from the TMJ that was ravaging my health & mental well-being.   We’ve all done regretful things, but this was a doozy.

When I started this particular blog, I was going to try & make it a more light-hearted one.  Here’s what I miss from one year ago!  My worn couch that was fine for flopping down on, Obama in the White House (had to throw that in), my own thermostat, free tv because I lived in the city, my sexy but deadly Russian neighbor Uriel, etc.;  but the more stuff I come up with, the angrier I get!

And now, a recent conversation with my 84 year old neighbor Nancy

ME:   Hi Nancy, how are you today?

HER:  Eh? What’s that?


HER:  I’m not deaf.

ME:   I’m sorry—how are you this morning?

HER:  How do you think?  Look at my foot, I dropped a can of tomato juice on it!

ME:   Ouch, I sure am sorry.  So how long have you been here now, 6 months?

HER:  Seven.  A long time.  Too long.

ME:   I take it you don’t like it anymore than when you moved in?

HER:  Too many do’s & don’ts.  The woman who lives below me snores!

ME:   Yeah, the floors here are pretty thin.

HER:  You remind me of my husband.

ME:   You mentioned that once before.

HER:  He died in his sleep, August 1988.

ME:   I know.

HER:  I got up that morning, thought he decided to sleep in. I did my things, had my coffee, went out, came back and made lunch.  He was still in bed, cold as a fish!  He was dead alright.

ME:  Well… nice chatting with you Nancy!

Believe it or not, she’s the one bright spot around here.  So for the time being I have no choice but to stick it out… I signed a one year lease back in September, and unlike prison there’s no means of escape.  I just hope that when the time comes, I can get some version of my old life back again.

There’s no place like home….my old apartment, that is

my old teepee

Monday, January 16, 2017

Like the man says: get back... get back to where you once belonged



Last night, I had the good fortune of having a long phone chat with my old (and once upon a time) very good friend Don.  The last time we’d spoken was in December 2012; the time before that was when we met up for dinner in the summer of 2009, and the time before that was in 2007, when he’d just turned 55 and told me he was quitting his IT job with PNC Bank in pursuit of early retirement.

My former office at UPMC

I first met Don way back in 1990, when I landed my first IT job as a computer consultant for the Dept of Aging.  We were put on the same project, but I was fresh out of school and a complete newbie; Don was 11 years older and forced to deal with someone with a lot of questions. Smile 

But we seemed to hit it off right away.  We were both loners of sorts and enjoyed, worried & fumed about the same things.  (We’d often sit in Arby’s or Roy Rogers yelling at each other—“this isn’t healthy!”)  Besides lunches and chats in the office, we’d get together every couple weeks, see a movie, have a late dinner and rant to one another on what was wrong with our company, the government, society, ourselves…. man those were some good times!

Don pays me a visit in my new apartment in Bellevue, 1995

Our get-togethers got less often after Don met & married his wonderful wife Patti in 2000; by then we were on different contracts and different companies.  But we still managed to meet for lunch once a week to complain about our respective out-of-shape selves & catch each other up on the latest.  (It just occurred to me that we were never big on email… haha)

So last night, after giving Don a brief run-down on what’s been going on in my neck of the woods, he said “Doug—wait ‘till you hear what’s been happening with me!”  He told me his early retirement was just that—too early.  “Doug the first year was great!  But I don’t play golf, I don’t have any hobbies… there’s only so much tv you can watch or walks you can take… after the second year I was so bored, I’d had it!”   I sat here nodding my head, I got it.  He then went on to tell me about finding some part-time work: a bookstore, Macy’s, even one where he drove to various supermarkets to set up cookie displays!  But they were all minimum wage & too physically demanding, and after a year he was back to his old retired self.  

When I told Don I was sorry things didn’t work out, he said “well… it took awhile, but they did.  Guess what I’m doing now—I’m back to computer programming!”  After he gave me the run-down on his current gig, he said “I think you’re on the same path I was on, and if you don’t mind me giving you some advice… I know you’re dealing with that TMJ, so get yourself better.  Then I’d suggest you get back to Pittsburgh.  I think it’s where you belong.  If you don’t want to work and don’t have to, that’s your choice, but I think you could easily find another IT job downtown.”

I thanked Don for our long chat and his words of wisdom, and we promised to talk again in two weeks.  (I really hope we do.)  The truth is, as I’ve recently told others, I’ve been feeling out-of-sorts and homesick for my former life in the city.  I’m not sorry I moved back to my hometown… at the time it felt right.  But I left here nearly 30 years ago and I’m not the same Doug I was then.  I’d like to think I’m the one in that picture at the top.  I need to find him again.

Original Painting entitled The Red Man in Journey Native American Art Native American Paintings Painting Santa Clara Pueblo Helen Hardin Tsa-Sah-Wee-Eh Little Standing Spruce

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