Sunday, July 9, 2017

Slow getting back into the swing of things, but such is the life of a turtle


Last Tuesday I noticed things were getting pretty shaggy above my ears, so I crossed my fingers for luck and headed up the street to Lincoln Barber.  (They don’t take appointments, it’s either empty or there’s 10 guys in front of you.)  Still, aside from a couple tryouts from other barbers/stylists over the years, and my recent six month move back to my hometown (where my Aunt Sandy’s sister Sharon cut my hair and did a pretty nice job) Lincoln Barber has been my go-to place for 20+ years.

Anyway, when I walked inside I saw right away this wasn’t happening--there must’ve been 8 guys ahead of me.  Roe (who cuts my hair and takes about 35 minutes to do it) knew I wasn’t about to sit there for 4 hours and said “Sorry Dougie Fresh, try again tomorrow.”  Darn it!  But I know they’re always busy for a reason.  So I waited a couple days, then last Friday I walked back up--and encountered the same busy shop again.  Aargh!  As I headed home feeling more frustrated than ever, I passed The Man Cave (an overpriced barbershop run by 2 girls in halter tops) and saw it was empty, but there’s a reason for that too.  And then I saw a sign in the window of Betty’s Beauty Shop—“MENS HAIRCUTS BY JOE, $12 FRIDAYS ONLY.”  Why not?

JUL062002

Here I am back in 2002, after trying out a pricey men’s salon in downtown Pittsburgh; I liked it, even if they did pile a bunch of product on my head.  What I didn’t like was the $35.00 price tag, not including the tip!  

So in a nutshell—no, turtleshell—I walk into Betty’s Beauty Shop and there’s an old man with a gray buzzcut in one of the chairs, reading a newspaper.  He looks up and says “Here for a haircut?”  My gut told me to get out of there, but I said I guess so.  He stood up and motioned for me to take his chair.  And before I could say “My regular barber uses a No.5 clipper”  I heard what sounded like a high-pitched buzzsaw, felt something hot & biting on my head and a large plop of hair fell in my lap.  I jerked and said “WHOA!  I haven’t even told you what I wanted yet!”  He replied  “Been cuttin’ hair for 45 years, I know what I’m doing”.   After another hard swipe off my noggin,  I said  “Sir—STOP!!  Holy crap, I didn’t want scalped!”   He chuckled, then said “It’ll grow back but you gotta let me finish this now.”   So I sat there, feeling like a hippie in the barber’s chair after being drafted.  When Joe ended his assault, he swung me around to face the mirror (gasp!) then swatted the back of my neck with a wet towel and said “Appreciate your business, come back again soon.”   Soon?!  I stood up, handed him $15 and walked out of there without looking back. 

8 days later, and I know what you’re thinking:  “Oh Doug, it doesn’t look that bad…”  Trust me—you’re just seeing it from a good angle!

As I headed home, my head hunched down and feeling a LOT of breeze up there, I caught a glimpse of myself in the glass of a store-front.  I LOOKED LIKE A TURTLE.  And given the way I’ve been living the last several weeks, hiding out in my shell & slow to doing anything, I was reminded of Don Knotts in “The Incredible Mr. Limpet”.  You think you’re a fish long enough, you become one.  Or in my case, a turtle.

Doug, are you alright?  You haven’t written anything in 3 months!  Are you glad you moved back to Pittsburgh?  How do you like your new place?  Have you got it fixed up yet?  Hey, weren’t you supposed to start a new job?  How’s your TMJ?

These are some of the questions I’ve been asked in the last few weeks, and I have gotten on here several times to share what’s going on or explain recent actions, but frankly I just wondered if it was worth the effort.  Plus with everything going on in the world right now, I’ve been feeling a little self-conscious with my much-ado-about-nothing schtick. 

(It’s not like I’ve ignored my blog entirely though; I’ve added 25 movie reviews to my Movies page in the last month.  Just sayin’!)

So in a real nutshell—yes, I’m VERY glad to be back in my old neighborhood in the city, relieved is more like it.  The new place still needs fixing up, but after the money I’ve spent these past 10 months on moving, medical bills & breaking a lease, I’m just not ready to be spending any more right now.  And I did start that new job, but decided I liked retirement better after all and left after 2 weeks.  (Okay, this one does deserve a lengthier explanation… I’ll save that for next time!)

But all in all, I’m doing just fine.  Well, aside from a butchered head.

green shell turtle

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I’m back in the city, thanks to some very special people… it’s a beautiful thing

 

This past Saturday, with the help of my sister Shawn, brother-in-law Jim and my niece Sophia, I moved back to the city of Pittsburgh.  (Well, about 5-6 miles north if you want to get specific.)  But right now, all I can say is—it’s wonderful to be home again.   And there’s no way I could’ve done it without them, thank you so much guys. 

My sister Shawn also got me this awesome welcome mat for my new front door

So after a busy weekend of unpacking, bright and early Monday morning I headed out of my new apartment building—and walked up the main avenue to my former neighborhood of 22+ years, to drop in on some folks & businesses I haven’t seen since last summer.  I had to laugh when my old friend Tilla at Lincoln Deli exclaimed  “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!”   When I started to reply, she said “YOU MISSED OUR FRUIT PIE SALE LAST WEEK!” 

Anyway, I’m not all moved in just yet so to speak—I still don’t have a couch (it’s on order!) or dining chairs for my new dining table, or anything for the walls—but here’s what I DO have, and for all this I am grateful & happy.

An awesome view out my giant livingroom window—it’s an 8 foot square of new glass that looks down on a tree-lined street in the daytime, and at night I can see the twinkling lights of Mt. Washington in the distance.

elevator

Did I mention my building has an elevator?   (And yes, that’s a bouquet of fake flowers in the former ashtray attached to the wall…)  Now this is city living!

 My new bedroom, with a cool green metal bedframe I bought at IKEA—assembled by my awesome brother-in-law Jim.  

dresser

Here’s my new red dresser, ALSO bought from IKEA, and ALSO assembled by Jim and Sophia.   

tv and table

I had to get a new tv stand (my old one was a corner unit which wouldn’t work here) and also bought this stylish glass-top dining table (sans the chairs).  My sister Shawn found it for me, all I had to do was plunk down my credit card!

kit1

The kitchen is small as they come, but everything is happy, shiny & new; easily the nicest one I’ve ever had, along with the rest of this awesome apartment.

Well, that’s all I have for the moment—I just wanted to get some pics of the new place on here, and again say a big thanks to my family for helping me get back where I belong.   But as glad as I am to be back in the city, I’m very much looking forward to going home again this weekend—and seeing this little handyman for Easter!  Smile

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.

402

New windows, 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 and knew that was for me!)

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 or around 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.

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.

chattering-teeth

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?

ME:   I SAID HI NANCY.

HER:  I’m not deaf.

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

HER:  Not good, I dropped a can of tomato juice on my foot.

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

HER:  Seven months.  A long time. 

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:   Yeah, you mentioned that once before.

HER:  He died in his sleep, August 1988.  He was 55.  Same age as you.

ME:   I know.

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

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

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