Not having internet is a bitch! Last Friday Anthony, Vincent and I moved to my new apartment with the help of the movers Vlad and Slobodan. They were pretty dour, at first, but I bought them water, and they cheered up. The first real smile coming when I gave them a tip. Vincent complained about the amount I paid to hire movers, saying that between himself and Anthony they could have rented a truck, and done it. But the truth is driving in Manhattan is a stressful, especially with a big truck, and these guys knew what they were doing. Very professional, with lots of little tricks.
On Thursday night before the move, while I sent in job applications, Anthony and Vincent disassembled the bed and the chair, and stacked everything in the hallway. My sublet was at the end of the hall, so this wouldn’t bother anyone for one night. The movers were scheduled to arrive at 8am. After that long horrible day we all fell asleep quickly. The movers arrived at 8:30am, and the process began. We mostly just stayed out of their way. When they were almost done, Vincent took the train up to the apartment to meet them, while Anthony and I stayed behind to clean, and finish supervising. Checking my e-mail, I had an invitation to come into test for a job I had applied to two days before. So, things were looking up!
The move went well, and we were all set up in the new apartment by 2:00pm. Vincent and I left Anthony to wait for the new furniture and returned to finish cleaned up the sublet, leaving it as pristine as possible. Good-bye Hamilton Heights. Hello to the Kingsbridge, Bronx!
Have I mentioned that the woman I sublet from gave me all her furniture? My rent was $1295, and in turn I got a queen size mattress of good quality, a platform bedframe (that she put together backward and then made work with wood glue), a six-drawer bureau, a rickety computer desk, and a nice tall bookshelf, and a small bookshelf. Not a bad deal. It would have cost me more than that to buy all that stuff. As it is, I only bought a dining table and the sectional. Plus, all the other housewares needed to set up.
Guysals! (Okay, I invented this word years ago because “guys” was deemed non-inclusionary by certain people, and although I believe “guys” is non gendered and inclusive because language changes, I have been trying for years to make “guysals” happen (guys and gals =guysals). Okay. Gusayls! I love my new apartment. It is probably too big for me, but since I am sharing it with my husby and best friend at first, it is perfect.
Vincent had obtained the perfect parking spot on Friday, no easy feat in New York. The street sweepers pass between 11:30 and 1:00 on Fridays, and he managed to park just outside the building while it was clear. On Saturday we took the car to go to Target, because I needed big stuff. The Target is just down the street and has a parking lot. Vincent bemoaned giving up his spot for the trip, but it was still there when we returned! Lucky day. It could stay there until Friday!
The rest of the weekend we dedicated to setting up and assembling all the Target items. A shower caddy, shelves for the kitchen, wall hangings, etc. At one point there was a knock on the door. It was Joe Alvarez, introducing himself as the handy-man. He doesn’t speak a word of English. Fortunately, Vincent has some Spanish, and they’ve been able to communicate. Vincent brought him to the tub (a wonderful, old-fashioned deep tub), which wasn’t draining properly. Joe looked at it, and said it wasn’t a problem, and he would fix it when it became a problem. Okay. We had just installed the air conditioner, and Joe pointed out that it is illegal to have a window air conditioner without a shelf in NY. In the sublet it had been hanging over the fire escape, but here we could get a ticket. He promised to help Vincent install the shelf and unit.
The next day the tub didn’t drain at all. It was rather unpleasant taking a shower with the water around your ankles. We found Joe in the basement and he graciously came to help with the a/c installment. At first, he said he couldn’t fix the tub because the super had the drain snake, but then he looked at it and found the problem. There’s this metal pipe about 18 inches high between the tub and the sink (pictured above). I thought it had something to do with the radiator, but no, it is the plug for the tub. It had gotten knocked during the move, and the plug had engaged, hence the stopped drain. He showed us how to move it, and no more problem.
My apartment is full of hills and valleys. It is over the lobby, so no downstairs neighbors to annoy, but it seems to be lacking some support. There is a serious dip in the floor in the bedroom, and the computer drawer on my desk had to be taped in place to keep from rolling out in response to gravity.
I had ordered Verizon internet (aka Fios), and the box arrived with the equipment, but I quickly realized I had no outlets. I had to call Verizon and arrange for a technician to come and install them. Unfortunately, the nearest date was Thursday. Arrgh.
Having gotten Anthony hooked on the Teavana shaken peach citrus iced tea drink at Starbucks, we next introduced him to our favorite restaurant in New York, Massawa. On 122nd and Amsterdam, we’d discovered this Ethiopian heaven when we’d lived on 120th and Morningside in 1993. It is still just as wonderful as it ever was, although a quite a bit more expensive.
On Sunday all three of us went to the Angelika to see “Sorry to Bother You!” OMG this is such a great movie. It’s my kind of movie. A bit of magical realism. Scorching social commentary. If you like Being John Malkovich, or Adaptation, you would like this movie. It is brilliant.
I called Regis’ office on Monday morning and talked to a new person. Three or four times I’d previously called and asked for Regis at 9am, as instructed, I’d been told he wasn’t in yet, and that was it. This time a young man answered and told me I didn’t need to speak to Regis. I could let anyone in the office know I was available. He asked me if I was a recent college grad, and I said no, I’m an old Phd. “You know what PhD stand for don’t ya?” he said, “piled high and deep. Hahaha.” Yeah. Funny.
I told him a bit about myself, but that I had a test scheduled for Tuesday, so wouldn’t be available. Fine. Vincent and went to the zoo and got a membership card. It’s for me plus one. So, I can take anyone I want to the Bronx zoo, if any of you are interested.
On Tuesday I got up to practice making Table of Contents and whatever else might be on the test at the law firm. I felt encouraged, because they had scheduled the interview within a week of my application, plus it was a firm, not an agency. However, just as I started to get ready the HR woman called to tell me the man I was supposed to meet had called in sick, so we scheduled it for Wednesday. In lieu of that plan, Vincent and I packed up our computers and went to Starbucks to access the internet. That didn’t work, though, the internet wasn’t strong enough, so we found the nearest public library and went there. Excellent connections. I applied to a few more jobs and posted my last note. Then returned home.
I WAS going to post about how much weight I’ve lost since deciding to move to NY. I remember an old interview with Ellen Degeneres, when she first came out, saying that she’d carried 10 or 20 extra pounds on her all the time she was in the closet in Hollywood, but that as soon as she’d made the decision the pounds had come off, because she was happy. I feel sort of like that. I’d been steadily gaining weight all last year, no matter how careful I tried to be. Mostly eating while bored. Since my May expedition trip, I’ve lost nearly 15 pounds. Of course, the walking is a lot of it, but I’m no longer bored, so I don’t eat as much. Until Vincent came, that is. I’ve put three pounds back on, because I find I eat more with him around. I will have to fix that.
The greatest thing about this week is that he is here. It is the longest we’ve spent together without the boys since they were born, and it has been wonderful. It feels like it did before they were born. It’s also been great to have Anthony here. Anthony is one of my favorite people on the planet. I have known him since he was 14 and I directed him in the lead role of The Diviners. He is extremely talented, and smart and our adult relationship largely consists of deep philosophical discussions about theatre, and society.
On Wednesday, I went into my rescheduled testing at the law firm. All dressed up, in my suit. At least it wasn’t in the 90s this time. The building is on the East side and has the fancy elevators I’d come across once before. You go to the elevator bank and there are little tablets. You select which floor you want to go to, and the tablet tells you which elevator to get on. Then you wait for it to arrive. I got on my designated elevator, but when I got off I was on a service floor with no direction. A man saw my puzzled look, and I told him who I was to see, Richard Fitch. He pointed me to a door down the hall, so I went there and walked in. There stood a man filling out a form and a woman behind the desk. She asked me how she could help, and I told her I was looking for Richard Fitch. She indicated the man next to me, and he said “How’d you get in here?” I told him I’d been through security and come up. “Well, let me finish this, and then I’ll take you to testing.” Okay. I stood for a moment, and then he walked away with an indication to follow. Arriving at a training room, he pointed to the seat in the back and said “you’ll sit there.” I walked towards it, then turned and stuck out my hand, “Hi, I’m Christine.” He paused a bit, shook my hand, “sorry, Richard.” I asked him if he’d been out sick the day before and felt better, thinking that I was trying to establish some sort of relationship. His knee, he said.
He then set me up with a sheet of paper and unformatted text. I was to make the text look like the sheet of paper, exactly. It was very similar to the Word test I’d done at the previous law firm, and I felt very confident about it. It was an improvement, because it told me the font size, whereas I’d had to eyeball it before. So, I started. I had 50 minutes to do that one, and then there’d be a written test for about 20 minutes. He told me he wasn’t strict on time, and he’d be checking in with me periodically.
For the first 15 minutes, I whizzed through. There was nothing I didn’t know how to do. Then I got to the hard part. I’d been teaching myself how to do Table of Contents, but this one was in columns, and its referents were in the outline at the bottom of the page. I’ve done redlining, and outlining, and bullets, but these were peculiar. Before leaving, he’d told me they had a separate outlining software because Word’s didn’t work well, but for the test, I would do Word. I’m talking about something like this:
Section 1.1 The administrative blah blah blah
- First purpose of the blah de blah
- Second purpose of the blah de blah
There are style codes built into the outline, and those become the key to form the Table of Contents. I am rusty on this. What’s more, I set up the outline, and the styles, and formatting, and then I would change something and everything would rearrange. Word tries too hard to “think” for you, and sometimes it really messes up. I got all the bullets done, and started on the TOC, and shit, I didn’t know how to make columns in this format. At least, not the way it looked on paper. Richard came in and checked on me. The first time I was fine, the third time I was panicking. I looked at my watch and it had been an hour. Shit shit. I told him I was struggling a little bit, and he went away. The next time I admitted defeat. “I’m calling it,” I said. He put my work on a thumb drive, took the hard copy, and gave me a test to write on. I felt bad because the entire first half of the work I’d done was good. It consisted of a header, a financial table, styles. The bottom half was bad. Damn. The written test was like: what keystrokes would you use to remove all character formatting? Easy. Plus, I was still sitting at the computer, so I could perform or look, to be sure I said the right thing. Not sure if that was intended.
I finished that test quickly and he took it and left me to myself for several minutes. When he returned he sat down next to me, looking rather grim. “How much legal experience do you have?” he asked. Two years at Cleary, two at a law firm in Kalamazoo. “Well,” he said, “you didn’t’ do very well on the hands-on test.” I thought he meant the written test and I was puzzled because I thought I did, but then I realized he meant the Word test on the computer. He started describing my mistakes. I pulled up the work and together we discussed what I’d done right and wrong. One point in my favor was he began to show me how I’d done the header wrong, and I showed him the default header he didn’t know existed, explaining the confusion. Finally, he sat back, and said “I don’t usually do this, but I’m going to recommend you get an interview.” (Next step!) I think you can be trained, and you know a lot of the right stuff. You got the written test perfect.” So, YAY! (But once again, I would love someone to enthusiastically want me!) It’s Friday and I haven’t heard anything further yet, but I’m keeping the faith. As he walked me to the elevator we passed a cafeteria – I remember the days when companies had whole cafeterias and dining centers right onsite. Pretty cool. I asked him how long he’d worked there. “Twenty years” he said. He wasn’t terribly personable, but I don’t care. It might not be the perfect job, but it would get me experience for the next one.
Thursday, we waited for the internet technician to come and hook us up. And waited. And waited. He was supposed to come between 8:00 and 10:00am At 10:15 I got on Verizon and started a chat with someone about it. They had no record of the order, then they transferred me. They found the order but said it had been completed. Then they transferred me. The third person I chatted with found the order, and agreed to get a new order going, but had to transfer to billing for that and we waited on hold for 45 minutes. By this time, I’d been chatting for an hour and a half. I was in all caps. Finally, Saj put me through to the queue so I could request a callback. I expressed that I did not want to have to repeat everything all over again a fourth time, and he assured me it was all written out. Fine. Vincent and I returned to the zoo.
Verizon called me while I was in the gorilla exhibit, and I couldn’t hear anything. They called back a bit later, when I was outside and the first thing the guy said was “what’s your order number?” I told him I didn’t have one, that I had a trouble ticket, and he transferred me without comment. I then got a technician in Syracuse would finally got the message. I have to admit I was a bit short with him, and used my “strong” voice. He finally understood everything and put in a new order for today from noon to 2pm. Bless! He ended the call by telling me he didn’t understand why the first guy “Saj” hadn’t just placed the order instead of trying to transfer me to billing. Honestly, you’d think a company like Verizon would have better communication.
So, here I am today. Waiting for Verizon. Hopefully, it works this time. Vincent went off to Target to get me a few more things with the car. It street sweeping time, so he had to move it anyway. But when he came back, he got the space again!
Lastly, I bought my plane ticket for Michigan this week to attend Angelina’s wedding. I will be arriving at noon in Grand Rapids on the 23rd and leave on the 27th. Hope to see some of you! Vincent will be doing one more grand circle drive. He goes up to Quebec City to collect Pax early next week, then to Kalamazoo for five days, then to NY with both boys, leaving Gali with me, and then taking Pax to Montreal to live with his uncle again. He will drive home alone, and I will fly home with Gali.