Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Girls & couches: I mean, girls and my couches thru the years

This past weekend, I had out my old laptop and was looking at some photos, and at my different sofas thru the years, and girls that sat on those sofas. 

Since I don’t have anything worth blogging about at the moment… let’s take a quick look back.

1. Rebecca and my denim corduroy couch, early 1990s

This is Rebecca, who I went to high school with in the 1970s and worked with in the early 1980s.  We became good friends, and a few years after I left our hometown to find my fortune in the big city, she came up to pay me a visit.

This was my second place in the city, my first “real” apartment with my own furniture and no roommates. 

(Sadly I had to give up this apartment and find a new place when the owner went on the lam for various criminal activities and deserted the property.)

Anyway, It’s been 25 years since I last spoke to Becky, I can’t believe we didn’t keep in touch.  The last I heard, she married a minister and moved to the South.  I hope she’s happy.

2. Rossi and the same corduroy couch, circa 1992

This is Rossi, who I dated for approximately a year.  She was a doll!  But she had strict rules on how men should behave, and over time it drove me nuts.

Do you remember that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Kindergarten Cop?   We were at the show, I was laughing my fool head off at those kids in the movie and Rossi nudged me and whispered “Real men don’t find this funny.”  I said “That does it” and got up and walked out. 

(Since we came in her car, it’s not like I left her stranded. I walked 3 miles home.)

She called me the next morning to break up and I asked how the movie ended.  I didn’t hear from her again until 10 years later, when I ran into her at Macy’s.  I asked how she was doing, she said “Unhappy, Doug!  I married someone who’s obsessed with toy trains!  He’s a boy, not a real man!”

3. Skye and that corduroy couch for the last time, circa 1995

Skye worked in my company’s Oakland office (near Pitt University) where the “downtown people” like me frequently visited for weekly staff meetings and such.  She was super-smart and very funny, and we enjoyed making each other laugh.

Skye met her husband Michael a couple years after we dated, became a Bible school teacher (which surprised me greatly) and raised a family. 

Sadly, she died from cancer in 2018. She was only 55.  RIP, Skye.

4. New artwork, a new couch & a new girl: Renee and the blue leather couch, 1998-2001

The first time I met Renee was at a dinner party hosted by my boss Kathy G (who was friends with Renee at the time).  I had a little too much to drink, and was doing celebrity impersonations of people like George Costanza & Tonya Harding for Kathy’s guests.  The following Monday, Kathy said “Doug!  my friend Renee is crazy about you!”   Uh-oh!
(I wasn’t too keen on dating my boss’ best friend, but agreed to meet her for dinner.  When the check came and I insisted on paying, Renee crumpled it into a ball and put it in her mouth.  Craziest thing I ever saw and I liked crazy.)

We wound up dating almost 3 years, but ultimately parted on good terms.  We just didn’t have enough in common to pursue something longer lasting.  I’ll always have fond memories of Renee and wish I could’ve been more her type. 

(And I sold the leather sofa to my middle sister Donda in 2001.) 

5.  Saving the best girl (and best couch) for last:  my niece Sophia and one giant dark green sofa, 2010

This dark green sofa came along in 2001.  The little girl (my 5 year old niece at the time) came along a few years later, in 2004. 

Sadly, the couch is gone.  I practically lived on it for 17 years and wore out the frame and tossed it out in 2017.  As for this 5 year old munchkin, she’s now 5’9” and almost 18l!

But I’ll always have fond memories of both.  Nerd smile

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Truth be told, I am all alone

I recently had an appointment to get my haircut, and truth be told I was very much looking forward to it.  Roe (a 51 year old Italian woman who’s been cutting my hair for 20 years) is funny & easy to talk to, and loves to chat.  She must have 1-200 regular customers and talks nonstop with each & every one of them.

So after I got to the shop, waited patiently for my turn then climbed into the barber chair, Roe says “Dougie Fresh!  Are we doing our usual?”  I say yes please, and she asks what’s going on.  Right then, Roe’s doctor friend Lisa walks into the shop, her 2 giant dogs in tow.  She sits down on the bench directly across from my chair and says to Roe it’s her day off, asks what’s going on.  She and Roe start talking and talking… it never stops.

After 1/2 hour, Roe says “Hold on Lisa—Dougie Fresh how’s it look?”  I say my one word that day.  “Fine.”  She says “You’re good to go!”  I hand her $25.00, pick up my glasses and leave the shop.   

To be honest, I was hurt and pissed off.  First of all, I think that’s a lot of money for a man’s haircut but that’s another story.  (Before the pandemic, a cut & tip was $16.00.)  My gripe is, I don’t have anyone to talk to and was looking forward to just sitting and talking with someone I know & like for 1/2 hour, and this other person took MY chat-time on MY dime.  Am I sounding really wacko here?

Here’s the truth.  I don’t have any friends.  I don’t have anyone.  It’s pretty much why I blog.  There’s a couple of people I talk to online on occasion, and several who always leave comments on my posts that I genuinely like hearing from, but it’s not the same.

I have 2 former work-friends I stay in contact with, Danielle & Erin, but they’re pretty sparse relationships.  I’ve seen Danielle 2 times in 3 years—she doesn’t do phone calls, and her emails are never more than single sentences.  But she has two parents getting on in years, two dogs, a husband and a full-time job so what do I expect.  

As for my friend Erin, we have some pretty lengthy chats over the phone.  About one every 3 months.  But she moved out of the city 8 years ago, and I haven’t seen her once since then.

I’m not sharing this looking for sympathy or advice.  I’m just telling it like it is.  Most days it’s not a problem, then there’s a week spent alone recovering from covid with no one to really talk to during or after.  

I wish I could have one close friend.  Someone from my generation to really talk to, spend time with.  I’ve always wanted to visit Gettysburg.  I’ve daydreamed about taking a cross-country trip on Amtrak or Greyhound even; just not alone.  In the mid-1980s, I rode both while visiting Washington DC a number of times.  They took several hours on both and I enjoyed those trips very much.

I am going to share a little secret.  In the summer of 2018, I joined a dating/friendship site called ‘Stitch’, for people over 50.  I didn’t want to jinx things so I didn’t blog about it or tell anyone.  I said I was interested in meeting a woman, for friendship. 

(I’m not against romance but I wasn’t looking for that right off the bat.  I just wanted a friendship first more than anything.)

Right away I got several messages from other men also looking for friendship.  Well, I did specify I was looking for something platonic so I responded to a couple of them that lived in Pennsylvania.  The first suggested we meet for lunch then asked for a full-body photo, before we went any further.  The second fellow didn't waste any time and sent me a picture of himself. 

He was in his mid-late sixties, and naked as a jaybird.  (If that had been me, I would’ve put on a Lone Ranger’s mask at least.)  But I wasn’t looking for  homoerotic pen-pals, and dropped out of Stitch.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now.  I’m sorry if I got too honest or shared too much here.  The funny thing is, the more I wrote this out, the better i began to feel overall.  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Moon Pie, Rosita & suspicion of covid: it’s just another day at the Tiffany

Monday morning I was headed back to my apartment from the laundry room, and saw my neighbor Opal talking with Rosita in Rosita’s doorway.

(Rosita is from South America, 25 years old and stands around 4’9”.  She is a doll, and a dead-ringer for Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.)  She occupies the studio apartment next to our floor’s elevator. 

I asked how things were going, and where was Moon Pie, Rosita’s cat. (She’s beautiful, with bright green eyes.)  Rosita looked at Opal, and Opal said “She heard me coming and took off running!”

Rosita said “That’s not true… please don’t say that, we need you!”   Opal said to me “Rosita has to go on a business trip tomorrow, she’s leaving at 5am and not coming home until 10pm-midnight.  So I’ll be down here off & on during the day checking in on Moon Pie.” 

I smiled and nodded my head, yes, yes okay.  Before walking away I called out “Bye bye Moon Pie!” in my goofy falsetto voice.  Right away Moon Pie came to the doorway and meowed.  Opal said “You should get Doug to watch her instead of me.”

Rosita asked me if I would.  I had nothing else going on, and frankly I was tired of looking at the same walls in my apartment, so I said okay.

I wish I could show you this young woman’s studio apartment.  I took several pictures while trying to take photos of Moonpie to send Rosita during the day, but I feel it would be a real invasion of privacy to show too much here.

(Plus, Opal told Rosa it’d give me something to blog about.  Rosita said “Oh really?  What is the name of your blog?  I want to see it.”  I apologized, but said I didn’t want to tell her.  She said “That’s okay.  Maybe I’ll look for it on my own.”  Ulp.)

Except for a cot to sleep on in her walk-in closet, and a deflated bean bag chair by her one window (studios only come with one double window, 1 bedroom apartments like mine have 5 windows) this young woman had no furniture, zero none.  No sofa or chairs or even a lamp or tv.

How could this be?  I know what she does for a living, she works in Foreign Currencies at Melloncorp downtown—it’s identical to the IT job I had at Mellon in the 1990s and it paid quite well. 

Anyway, of course I have no right to judge—and truth be told, while I don’t consider myself that old just yet, being a 25 year old single is a whole other mindset.

After a half hour or so, I knew I couldn’t take it.  I picked up her litter box & cat dishes, and took them down the hall outside of my own apartment’s front door.  I then came back and said “Moon Pie, your pad is depressing the hell out of me.  You can either sit there in your cat-house, or come down and spend the day with me.”

I went to the front door, opened it and said “Coming?”   Moon Pie jumped right up and followed me down the hall to my place.  (Here she is, exploring.)

I learned a couple things that day:

1) I’ve been looking at my own place all wrong the last couple weeks.  It’s not so plain, I have a pretty nice apartment.  It’s a clean one too—with plenty of places one can sit!

2) Moon Pie is funny & sweet, a real character.  When I gave her special treat at noon (half a tin of Fancy Feast) she would take a bite, run over and rub my toe with her nose, go back and take a bite… she did this 10 times!   I was cracking up!

But I realized something else that day too.  I don’t think I want a cat of my own after all, apartment cats require a lot of TLC.  

Oh and finally: after I returned Moon Pie and came home, I began shaking.  What the heck was going on?  By 11pm, I had a fever of 101 and here it is Wednesday night and I still do. 

I am wrapped in 3 blankets as i write this, I’m pretty sure I have covid for the third time.  I’m going to take a covid test Thursday morning before posting my blog, I’ll share the results below.

I knew it.  I gotta go back to bed. 

Saturday, September 10, 2022

My teepee has a new accent chair, and the winner is…

Here’s my new chair, it arrived late Friday afternoon.  I went with the ‘Washed White’ McCrae chair from Joss & Main.  It was originally $720.00, but because I tend to put things off until the last minute, I got it for $515.00.
(It dropped in price $45.00, then 3 days before Labor Day there was a “Pre-Labor Day Sale” for an additional 20% off.)  I almost waited too long, the next morning I got an email that the chair was now out of stock.  Did I purchase one in time?  I wouldn’t know for a week.

I had 3 chairs in the running—a boxy armchair, a cheap faux leather thing and this one.  But I knew I wanted something modern, minimalist, industrial in design. 

I worried about getting something with white fabric, but it’s not a bright white, more of a cream with a dull glow.  It’s a heavy canvas fabric and quite nice.

(I placed a tan pillowcase over the headrest portion to keep the top of the chair from attracting a lot of dust.  I also bought this 14x22 red & cream lumbar pillow for some color.)

The chair’s iron sides and back are surprisingly substantial, heavy.  This is not cheap.  You can use the skinny armrests to sit yourself down or get up, they won’t wobble or move.

You can’t tell with my lousy few photos, but the chair sits very low to the ground.  It works though, because the cushion is so high. 

Also the seat is 30” wide.  That’s like a chair-and-a-half.  An adult could sit in it side-by-side with a child.

Here’s something interesting, which you probably can’t tell from these comparison photos but is very obvious in person.  The chair’s pillows are 2 squares sewn together.  But one of the squares is 2-3 inches longer than the other.

You can either have a longer seat cushion (left) when you sit, or a taller back cushion (right). 

I don’t know which way is the right way, or even if there is one.  I like both. Nerd smile

I also bought this mudcloth pillow cover from an Indian textile seller on Etsy; it has stripes of cream, red brown & turquoise in it.  But it needs a custom pillow insert, and I’m not sure how I feel about it as it reminds me of giant tobacco leaves.

Hoping I find another pillow for the chair, though.  It looks a little too plain without something with a pattern, and when I put the red & cream one on my bed, I liked it on there even better. 

I wish I was married, most men don’t like or aren’t good at this stuff!

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

A real wooden seat, a fake wooden floor—and two more residents out the front door

Yesterday morning, Josh the maintenance guy knocked on my door, holding two toilet seats.  He said “You were supposed to get one of these when they replaced the base of your toilet, can I come in?”

What a nice surprise.  I’d been meaning to replace the seat for over a month now, the left hinge was broken.  Josh had a plastic seat like the one I already had, and a larger wooden seat.  I opted for the wooden one. 

While he was installing it, I asked “Did you see the moving trucks here this Labor Day weekend?  It looked like someone was moving in, and two were moving out.  I think the ones going were Don on 5, and Mary on 1.”  Josh said “I don’t know names, I go by apartment numbers—do you mean #502 and #104?”

Er… yes, I guess so. 

He said “Both of their leases ended this month, Steiner told them they were done.  But they were told months in advance.”  My face got hot.  I said “That just happened to Rob—I mean the guy in 405 a couple weeks ago.  And now two more get the boot?  Man, that makes me nervous.”

Josh said “You have nothing to worry about, they like you—why do you think I’m here installing a new toilet seat?”   I said “Do you know why they were forced to move?” 

He said “Well… the guy on 5 was some type of hoarder.  A year ago when we were doing our yearly walk-thru, his bedroom had McDonald’s bags piled to the ceiling in one corner.  In another corner he had pizza boxes stacked to the ceiling.  I mean, his trash was sorted but it was still a lot of trash.  They gave him 30 days to clean it out, he did.  But this past April, the trash was back.”

I shook my head in disbelief.  (Disbelief someone would hoard literal garbage, and that Josh was even telling me.)  I asked “What about Mary on 1?”  Josh said “She cost the building real money.  Last year they had to repair the plumbing under her bathroom floor, she clogged it with those toilet wipes, those things don’t disintegrate.  She was warned not to flush them anymore, they sent a notice to all the tenants.” 

Yep, I said I remembered getting one.

Josh said “In May we had to contract professional plumbers, she flooded hers and her neighbor’s apartment when she backed up the main pipe on the bottom floor.  She was flushing stuff like chicken bones too.  They told her they wouldn’t be renewing her lease come September.”

I said I felt bad for both of them, and hoped they learned something.  I asked Josh if they found a new tenant for the empty unit on my floor yet.  He said not yet, they just completed replacing the flooring.  Did I know they’re doing that now?   

When a unit becomes available, they’re removing any carpeting, and covering the entire floor—kitchen and bathroom included—with wood laminate.

Here’s my own flooring—I have carpeting in the living room & bedroom, wood parquet in the dining room & linoleum tile in the kitchen and bathroom.

He said “Do you want to see the empty unit down the hall?”  DO I!  I yawned and said okay, sure… why not. 

I asked him if I could get a photo to send to my friend who’s looking for a new place.   (I don’t have a friend looking for a new place… but I do have a blog!)

I wanted to take more pics, but didn’t want to push my luck.  This flooring is throughout the entire apartment—livingroom, bedroom, kitchen, dining room.  Personally I don’t like it, but they removed all the wallplates to paint two walls a robin’s egg blue, which sounds nice.

I told Josh I’ll stick with my old-school flooring, thank you very much.  He said “This is for new tenants only… you should be glad you got a new toilet seat.”


Thursday, September 1, 2022

When it comes to family, some things will remain a mystery forever

Last night I found this photograph online (on a memorial site) and I think my heart skipped a beat.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. 

This is my Aunt Lois (and her husband Roy), my mom’s older sister. 

We have no photos of Aunt Lois.  She died in 1979 from brain cancer at the young age of 47. 

To say my mom loved her sister would be an understatement.  Lois was born in January 1932, my mom August 1940—Lois was 8 1/2 years older.  Their mother was abusive, and unstable, so after Lois moved out she often took Mom in.  She was more than an older sister, she was Mom’s guardian too.

My dad had 4 brothers & sisters—the 5 of them were extraordinarily close, we all lived within a few miles of each other.  Growing up, our cousins (on my dad’s side) were more like “extended siblings”; we were close in age and got together often.  

On my mom’s side, my Aunt Lois had 6 kids, “technically” our cousins but we didn’t know them.  Lois lived and raised her family in Ohio.  Spunk (Milford), Joel, Beth, Stephen, Kim & Cindy.  Except for the last two, the others were much older than us and I can only recall meeting a couple of them once.

I have exactly one memory of Aunt Lois oldest daughter Beth.  In 1970, she came to stay with us for a weekend while our parents went on a short trip.  Beth was quiet, pretty and a senior in high school.  That first night, she asked us what we wanted for dinner and we said hamburgers.  When she began cooking them we shouted “You’re making them too big, we’re poor!”  and she laughed and said “I’m sorry, okay!” and crumbled them up and made sloppy joes instead. 

I don’t think we ever saw Beth again.  17 years later, in 1987, Mom received news that Beth was dead.  She lived in South Carolina, had a career in the Army, and recently left her husband.

He met her when she got off a plane and shot her. 

She was only 34 years old.  I wish I had a photo of her.  All I have is a vague recollection of her senior class photo, her hair & face reminded me of a young Patty Duke.

What will always be the biggest mystery to me though is Aunt Lois daughter Kimberly.  (You’ll see why in a minute.)  She was only 5 years older than me, I saw us as kindred spirits.  We both read comic books, saw ourselves as artists, and the few times we got together we’d lay on the floor and talk tv and old movies while “copy drawing” art panels from comics. 

Kim took art lessons as well, and would show me how to add shadow under a face, or give dimension to a character drawn from the side.  I think of her lessons every time I doodle or draw something in a card I’m mailing to someone.

Kim at 18, 1974

The last time I saw Kim, I was a teenager.  After her mom died in ‘79, we never saw or heard from Aunt Lois’ family again. 

Until my own mom died in 2004, I often asked her about Kim or Aunt Lois’ other kids but she knew little.  Mom sometimes heard from Aunt Lois’ oldest son Spunk’s wife, ‘Sis’.  But those reach-outs grew few and far between.

In 2015, I began a search for Aunt Lois’ kids—I had no intention of bothering them, I just wanted to know.  I learned the oldest, Spunk died in West Virginia in 2012.  Her second oldest Joel was married & lived in San Diego.  Third was Beth, who died in 1987.  Her fourth child Stephen had a family and lived in Michigan.  Her youngest daughter Cindy, an EMT was married with a daughter and lived in North Carolina.

The last person I found was Kim here.  Born in 1956, Kim died in 2011 aged 54.  But what shocked me the most, was where she lived.  Right here in Pennsylvania, in a small rural community named Clarksville—11 miles from my family.  She lived there a long time too.  She was loved by her neighbors.

I wish Kim had known how much I thought about her over the years… maybe it wouldn’t have mattered to her.  The fondness & curiosity was probably on my end only.  I don’t think my own brothers & sisters were that curious either.

I just keep thinking all the times I drove home from Pittsburgh to visit family, and until 2011, I could’ve visited Kim too.  I hope her remaining siblings Joel, Steve & Cindy are well, and I hope Kim’s life was filled with creativity and contentment.