Archive for September, 2007

Bureaucratic mistakes

September 29, 2007

We have proof of the clerical error that led the IRS to believe we made a lot more than we really did. Papers to prove it are in process. Now, let’s see how long it takes for us to cut through the red tape and get this fixed. Anyone into placing bets?

Adulthood sucks butt (this week)

September 29, 2007

Community volunteer work is supposed to be good for you, something a responsible adult does. You help your neighbors, meet new friends, make your corner of the world a little nicer. It is not supposed to make you want to slap people upside the head, throw your child in the river, and finally up-end that bottle of Oxycontin that has been sitting around since you got your wisdom teeth removed. Obviously, volunteer work affects me poorly.

As you can tell by my lack of blogging over the last few weeks, I have been too busy to sit down and get my thoughts straight.

There was our trip to Louisville, KY, to support Pawpaw’s show, the Gospel Connection, and Aunt Jenna’s southern gospel group, Higher Hope. There was the return to work with deadlines looming, since I didn’t work on anything while I was away. There were my freelance projects, needing a quick turnaround, and then a revision after that. And then there were the Friends of the Greenwood Playground.

I have only met one of these ladies in person, and they all seem very nice. I accept full responsibility for taking things too far and way too seriously.

We wanted to put on a puppet show this fall with a marionette theater. All I had to do, said the nice Friend leader, was call the puppeteer to set up a date and then get the event permit. Easy peasy, I thought. This was not like organizing, oh, say, a massive daffodil planting (another opportunity that I wisely passed on). This was a small, get-your-feet-wet volunteer project.

Me and puppet lady played phone tag, for weeks, even before I went to KY. When she finally talked to me, I realized that what they say in the theater district is true: every actor is a diva, even the puppeteers. She wanted a day “with a big crowd.” What day is that, exactly? Since I’m new to the neighborhood I didn’t know, but I had to “grab the date right away.” Of course, she then didn’t answer my call when I tried to pick a date the next day, after speaking to the Friends. When I suggested to the puppeteer that we set up the show in the sprinkler area, which is a big open space in the middle of the playground, she said, “The sprinklers will have to be off during the performance!” First, it will be October. You know, when it’s cold? Second, would I have suggested the spot if the puppets, the stage, and the audience would be wet, in October? No.

Okay, so the show was finally set. Next, the permit. It takes no less than 21 days to get it approved, says the website, the lady I call, and the dozen (I swear, I counted them) signs at the permit office. We have less than two weeks before puppets will be arriving. On the chance that our permit will be fast-tracked, I must get the application in the day I finalized the show details, which was this past Tuesday. Instead of frolicking in the park with Charlie, as had been my plan, I had to fill out a form containing questions I knew nothing about (Do we have insurance? What events did we hold in the last two years? Dates and descriptions, too! I just moved to the neighborhood, people.), get it printed and get it to the office before 4 pm. The lady told me this at 2 pm. CW was asleep, and I had no printer.

So, I took just-awakened, getting-ready-for-snack CW to the library where he pulled books off the children’s shelves while I screwed up my computer reservation. I got absolutely no computer help from the four librarians I asked. One of whom, after giving me an explanation of children’s versus adult’s computers, proceeded to say to her co-worker, who was trying to help me, “I just explained to her…” As if I wasn’t there. As if what she’d explained to me actually had anything to do with the problem I had described. (Never treat a mother like an idiot. Just because she has to speak babytalk between asking directions does not mean she’s incompetent. You WILL have evil eye thrown all over you.) One kind, wonderful librarian guy finally helped me print out my form. (He couldn’t help me keep CW from wiggling, whining, and wanting to run out the door and into the street. The poor kid was hungry, but I hadn’t been able to cook him much since, oh yeah, our kitchen sink was broken and I’d had to remind the landlord twice that morning to FIX IT, PLEASE.)

A half hour later, CW and I were on my bike, heading to Park Slope. (I suppose this counts as bike ride #6, though I haven’t gotten to write about #4 and #5 yet.) We reached the office at 3:30 PM. Ah, but not really. The lady out front said, “It’s downstairs. Go around to the side door.” So, we go. We unload from the bike. I prevent Charlie from diving head first into a trash can that was so disgusting it could only be appealing to toddlers, and rats. We found the door on the left, down a long hall. Guess what? That wasn’t it, either. It was out back. In a different building. So we went out back, up uneven stone stairs, beneath some construction scaffolding to the door another lady pointed out to us. Nope. The office we wanted was actually around the building. Trudge, trudge, trudge. We made it!

We suffered through a short lecture on how our permit might not go through because–as the signs all proclaimed–they needed 21 days to process it. But, she said she’d do her best. It was all I could ask for.

Charlie and I finished our ride with a stop to the bike shop where Dixon fixed my popping gears with one magical touch. Finally, I thought, our day was looking up. Then we got home to find a notice from the IRS about dividends we never received. They want to charge us more than a thousand dollars in taxes and fees for money we never got. ARGH!

Deep breath.

I remember, just out of college, when I had no car payments, no insurance payments, no retirement plan, no child whose future I had to take care of…I only had a phat new apartment in Florida with a pool and a dishwasher and a job that let me goof off a bit while I made more money than I’d ever made before. $15,000 a year, anyone? I remember thinking, this is what it’s like to be an adult, paying your way, taking care of business. Why did everyone say it was so hard?

Okay. I get it. Lesson learned.

A neighborhood meeting

September 9, 2007

ANA

Charlie and I (mostly me) are trying to get more involved in our community, now that we’re in a neighborhood where that’s actually possible. (Times Square was not the most involvement-friendly area, though we were part of our area CSA.)

We’ve joined the Friends of the Greenwood Playground, the Kensington/Windsor Terrace CSA, and on Thursday, Charlie and I went to the Albemarle Neighborhood Association meeting about the renovation of our local grocery store. The changes are much needed. (A week or so ago, I bought a watermelon there for Jesse and when he sliced into it water gushed onto the counter and floor. We both looked at the waterfall in astonishment. I’ve never seen such a thing. Turns out it was rotted inside and all the water had left the fruit and nestled just under the skin. Yuck.) Charlie and I only got to stay an hour because someone got antsy, but we saw the slide show of what the future store will look like and we ate some veggies and donuts. The best part is that we got the back of our heads in the photo shown on our neighborhood blog. (If you click the blog link, you’ll see me in the red shirt and Charlie in my lap. We’re famous.) (more…)

Charlie sings the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann”…and tells us what the lion says

September 9, 2007

Wish lists

September 7, 2007

We took a train trip to PA over the Labor Day weekend (more notes and pix to come) and in preparation, I stopped into the toy store to get a few things for Charlie. I thought new toys would be more fun to explore than the ones he’s used to, so I splurged a bit on some small books, stacking toys and trucks that fit in our suitcase. While I was there, though, I saw a push toy that was totally awesome, sponge letters, bath tub markers, bubble books and all kinds of cool stuff. I wanted to buy it all, just because I knew Charlie would find them fun, but my pocketbook stretches only so far. So I thought I’d put together an interactive wish list for Charlie (and one for me, too, which is on that same page) so anyone looking to give a gift for birthdays, holidays or any old time can see what I think Charlie might like. Of course, you may already be psychic, like Aunt Becky and Aunt Debbie who not only got Charlie clothes that fit, but a dog-shaped cell phone. Charlie says: Dogs! Cell phones! Yippee!

Bike ride #3

September 7, 2007

Sunset Park pool
(Historic photo of the Sunset Park pool courtesy of newdeal.feri.org)

Just before Labor Day, when Saturday reached nearly boiling, we took a family bike ride to Sunset Park. It was uphill the whole way, so it was a really nice ride home. Jesse and Charlie explored the playground and sprinklers and watched the locals play soccer and volleyball. I changed into my swimsuit and waded (very slowly) into the wonderfully icy depths of the Sunset Park pool. It was the perfect way to beat the heat, and that bike ride definitely counts in my growing list of bike trips. Just thirteen more before my bike has (sort of) paid for itself. Jesse says we’re biking around the city looking for seasonal grapes on Saturday–maybe as far as Union Square. Hmm, we’ll see about that.