Friday, May 27, 2005 

Finally Friday

Only one week of work and I'm already psyched for a three-day weekend.

I like the people that I work with, but I'm definitely the youngest person in the group by far. And I'm a little tired of being the "new kid", with all of the introductions and the conversations about New York and what I did before. I'm eagerly awaiting the next hire so I don't have to wear a Visitor name tag anymore.

The house contract negotiations blow. It doesn't help when the person who is selling the house insists on telling you stories like how his pilot friend had a UFO experience while you're trying to figure out if the house sits two feet too close to the property line.

My wife's starting to get a little stir crazy. She is waiting to do any job searching until we've actually moved into a house, so she's sitting around all day with my mom and dad, which I'm sure is hard for her.

So, all-in-all, its extraordinarily stressful right now. But had a couple of beers last night and was in bed by 10:00.

But I woke up this morning feeling magnificent. I slept hard, had terrific dreams (the ones you don't want to wake from, not the usual surrealist "why the hell have my feet turned into pickles?!"), and for the first time in about a week, felt truly rested.

And it's Friday.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 

Week One: A Report In Numbers

The morning of Day 8 in Atlanta. I'm about to brave I-75/85, but before I do, I thought I'd like to look back at the numbers that made up my first week back in Atlanta:

Number of days spent in Atlanta..........7
Average wake-up time.......... 7:12 AM
Average bed time.......... 10:40 PM
Average number of cups of coffee each morning.......... 2.5
Number of days spent negotiating sections of real estate contract for new house..........14
Number of stomach ulcers resulting from negotiations..........6
Average price of Heinz ketchup (24 oz. bottle) in Atlanta..........$0.89
Number of Waffle House Visits in the first week..........1
Number of Chick-Fil-A Visits in the first week..........4 (2 Lunch, 2 Breakfast)
Hours independantly spent with two year old nephew..........2
Number of Blues Clues episodes watched during visit with nephew..........4
Number of F-Bombs dropped during visit with nephew..........1
Number of times nephew repeated the F-Bomb..........26
Number of times sister heard my nephew drop the F-Bomb..........3
Average price of gas in Atlanta..........$1.96/gal
Number of car horns heard in past week..........0
Days spent at new job..........2
Average commute time..........20 minutes
Average hours spent work..........8.25
Number of conversations with the head of my division..........1
Number of times I called the head of my division the wrong name in conversation..........1
Number of work-related e-mails read in the last week..........0
Top speed of parent's internet access..........36.6KBps
High score on 3D Pinball for Windows.......... 1,954,300

Saturday, May 21, 2005 

"Papa Bear, this is Baby Bear. The porridge is hot and Goldylocks has come home."

Day four in Atlanta.

Wow... things really do move a lot slower down here. The days are lazy and time seems to crawl by.

Nothing in Atlanta typifies this more than my mom and dad's dial-up internet connection. Holy balls, is this sucka slow. It's truly painful.

I've rediscovered the joys of Solitare, Hearts, and 3D Pinballs for Windows (high score of 1,808,750, mofos!) while waiting for pages to load. You know, I keep trying to explain the benefits to my mom and pop of faster loading times combined with the use of the phone while you're online ("Mom, you will never miss a gossip call from one of your buddies again!!!") but to no avail. Even my dad (affectionately known 'round these parts as "Papa Bear"), who hates long lines and needless waiting, says he has no need for that.

Another big development is Dad's current search for a pick-up truck. The "Pick-up Truck Debate" has been raging in our family ever since Dad retired from the army. And it's heated up in recent months.

Mom has pushed back on this for countless years, while Dad has lived with carrying fifteen 50-pound bags of lime in the back seat of a '92 Ford Crown Victoria (affectionately known as "The Squad Car" for its resemblance to police cars of the same era). This car was his father's, who passed of a stroke in late 1997, so there is definite attachment to this car. It's a great car, but now is run down a bit with several dings and a layer of dirt and pollen. It sometimes hiccups while accelerating and there's absolutely no air conditioning to speak of.

And the interior smells like gasoline and sweat. So much so that it makes my wife nauseated (or nauseous, depending on who you talk to).

Now, I can see where Mom is coming from-- Mom feels that owning a truck will label him (and more importantly, HER) a redneck. But I can see where Papa Bear is coming from-- most landscape engineers, which since retirement my Dad likes to refer to himself as, have trucks.

And honestly, God knows that someone that goes by "Papa Bear" deserves a muthafuckin' truck.

More recently, Mom's ultimatum has been that Papa Bear can get a truck if two conditions are met:
1) Papa Bear is no longer driving "The Squad Car"; and
2) Said purchase of truck does not include any of the following items:
a) gun rack
b) Confederate flag (ranging from bumper-sticker to ACTUAL Confederate flag)
c) a bumper-sticker of Calvin pissing on a Ford/Chevy emblem
d) a dixie horn, a la The Dukes of Hazard

Since Kate and I are in the market for a car, Dad concocted a plan so fool-proof, so brilliant, so amazing that it would grant him a truck...

Giving ME the Squad Car.

You know, Kate may raise her eyebrows at the prospect, and Mom may think that I may not want the Squad Car, but I'm all for it. Hell yes.

Three reasons:
1) Papa Bear gets his truck.
2) Kate and I get a secondary car which will be used to drive the three miles to and from the MARTA station which will take me to my office in the morning, for FREE.
3) The car has fucntionality and history. I can't let Dad get rid of it.

How many people can say they're driving an automobile that, in the middle of the night, causes people to pull over to let you pass?

How many people can say they've spent countless Friday nights on the road with their "Papa Bear" listening to their baseball team on the radio?

How many people get the opportunity to drive the car of not one, but TWO people you respect and admire the most in the world?

Well, at least one. This guy.

Thursday, May 19, 2005 

Livin' with ATLiens

Day two in Atlanta.

I woke up yesterday morning, rubbing my eyes and wondering if I had made the right choice in leaving New York. When I looked out the front window of my parents house and saw TREES and GRASS, I knew everything was going to be fine.

Things are really nice down here.

Immediate upsides I've noticed:
-I haven't heard a single car horn in the last 48 hours.
-Heinz Ketchup is $.89. That's 89 FREAKIN' CENTS! (I can't believe that this amazes me like it does)
-My niece and nephew. Last night I had my niece laughing in hysterics (I was walking around her Big Bird stuffed animal), and I don't think a sweeter sound exists on the planet.
-My dad is almost as big of a baseball fanatic as I am. Just wait until I get him into fantasy baseball.
-The lack of fire and smoke.
-My new boss told me to come in around 10:00 on my first day of work. Eat it, NYC.

Immediate downsides I've noticed:
-Mosquitos. I'm not sure whether or not we've got West Nile Virus down here...
-Traffic blows. And everyone is driving their H2 or Ford Expeditions...
-Danny Kolb. Mofo blew another save and lost his "closer" job. Thanks, dude. You just screwed any chance of me maintaining 3rd place in fantasy baseball.

I'm off to go look at houses.

Sunday, May 15, 2005 

This Morning's Laundry (A Story in Haiku)

This morning, laundered
what seemed like all of my clothes.
It took forever.

My clothes still smell like
I had been working in front
Of a barbeque.

As I was waiting
For my clothes to dry, someone
Had started yelling.

A woman entered
Asking who would take her clothes
Out of the dryer.

She yelled at the girl
Who works at the laundry joint,
"Fuck you, spanish bitch!

"Ugly little bitch!"
She continued. I stood there
Watching this unfold.

The little woman
Said her laundry had been there
Since seven o'clock.

As it was crowded
People were waiting to use
Any free machine.

"Fuck that bullshit, bitch!"
The aggitated woman
Told the spanish girl.

She tore out of there
Screaming several choice words,
Her laundry cold and creased.

I thought there would be
Fisticuffs or gunfire.
This bitch was crazy.

Just another sign
That maybe the decision
To move was correct.

I don't know if I
Will see a laundromat
In the ATL.

Personal safety--
Just another benefit
Of in-home laundry.

Saturday, May 14, 2005 

"It's the only time I've ever been to Staten Island."

My wife and I are currently packing up our belonings and cleaning the apartment.

After just shy of five years, we have decided that we've had enough of New York and are moving to Atlanta. And it's far more difficult then I thought it was going to be. I'm taking apart my enterainment center and my computer table, and as I look down the length of my railroad apartment, it hits me that this isn't home anymore.

It's incredibly hard to say goodbye to such amazing people. And you couple all of this intensity with the realization that I'm about to be chin-deep in debt with a mortgage and a car payment, and I'm a freakin' mess.

I left work on Thursday. I had been working at the same firm for four and a half years, and leaving was much harder than I imagined. I really grew attached to the people I worked with, but that night's farewell drinking extravaganza was a wonderful way to wrap it up.

Getting home that night at around midnight, I wrote a poorly-worded, cheezy e-mail thanking my coworkers for making going to work a pleasure, and proceeded to immediately pass out.

I wake up at four in the morning with a pounding headache and my wife screaming, "PETE! I THINK THE BUILDING IS ON FIRE!!!" Shooting up, the blood rushes to my head. I stagger, nearly passing out, but grab the doorknob and inhale. There's definitely smoke.

I open the door to the bedroom, and there is a cloud of smoke in the apartment so thick that I can't breathe. I try to run into the kitchen so that I could find out where the fire was (if it was our apartment or even on our floor), but I can't breathe. The smoke is thick, smelling of burning plastic. I turn around, ripping the cords out of my laptop (which holds the only copy of all of the music I've been working on for the last year and a half), and yell for my wife to get on the fire escape.

Aside from minor smoke inhalation, we are fine and luckily no one in the building was hurt. We didn't have too much damage-- while our apartment smells like a barbeque pit, we only had to deal with the minor inconvenience of a layer of greasy soot on all of our stuff.

The fire was on the first floor apartment, and while no one will confirm it, the rumor is that the boyfriend of one of the two girls who rent the apartment had a cigarette they left lit as they went to walk the dog. The two girls, who I have passed several times in the hall and have always thought of as extremely nice people, lost everything. They had no insurance. The entire apartment was gutted.

I saw the other girl in the apartment outside as I walked my wife to work on her final day. She was trying to salvage anything she could, holding a half-burned copy of The Devil Wears Prada. I ask her how she's doing, if she is okay, and if she needs anything. I feel the overwhelming urge to give her a hug as she tells me how she wasn't even there, and she had just come back from spending the night with her grandmother in the hospital.

"It's the only time I've ever been to Staten Island," she says, barely holding back tears. "I go to Staten Island and I come home to find that I've lost everything."

And while I wanted to tell her that she shouldn't blame the boro, maybe it'll help her deal with the whole experience if Staten Island bucks up and takes the fall for this one.