Thursday, July 28, 2005

If It's Not One Thing...

It's another. And another. And another!

Thanks to our latest daycare fiascosituation, there's some big changes on the horizon, pretty much across the board. Fork in the road time, if you will, with pretty drastic consequences coming from either direction. Part of me wants to kill Rosa for flaking out on us in such incredible fashion - without even a phone call! - and part of me wants to believe this is the equivalent of my decision to move back to Miami when I got out of the Army crashing and burning on arrival, sending me back to NY and, ultimately, to the life I now enjoy.

One doors closes, three more open. I've always been pretty lucky that way, even if the hallways have been a bit treacherous at times!

Some of the smaller changes, which are the only ones I can really talk about right now, include my putting Comic Book Commentary on hiatus for the next few months while I rethink its purpose. Between it and my contributions to Buzzscope, which will continue for the forseeable future, I spend way too much time covering comic books to not be making any money at it! The gears are grinding, though, and I have some ideas. Unfortunately, they all hinge on the BIG changes we're looking at making, so it may be 2006 before anything comes of them.

India's therapy is progressing pretty well, pretty fast, with all signs pointing to her being able to go to a regular kindergarten when the time comes. Color me cautiously optimistic as some days are much harder than others, but the therapists obviously have way more experience with this than we do, and there's no question that things could be MUCH worse. I can't even read some of the stuff Salomé has come across - books, articles, blogs - because it depresses the hell out of me.

Isaac is definitely suffering a bit from the amount of attention India's getting, initially jealous that India's therapist was only playing with her and not him, too. The good thing is he doesn't seem to perceive there being anything "wrong" with India, and other than getting frustrated at times because she doesn't always want to play with him, he's been pretty good with her.

In other, Let's Go Mets! Let's Go Jets!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Our 7th Anniversary

Rereading that last post, it almost sounds like our vacation sucked, but that's just work filtering through and tainting my perspective. We had a great time, the most "quality time" we've had together since...hell, Spain in 2000, right before Isaac was born?

I was thinking about the past 7 years the other day, and what's changed since July 18, 1998:

1) Bill Clinton was President and was somewhere in the process of being impeached for the whole Monica Lewinsky psuedo-scandal. George W. Bush was Governor of Texas and netted $14 million from the sale of the Texas Rangers, a nice profit from his $600,000 investment...with borrowed money!

2) The first Gulf War had still not been officially declared over, and I was still in the NJ National Guard.

3) A month after our wedding, I was on the Nuyorican Poets Café's only National Poetry Slam Championship team, and had just started running a little bit louder a couple of months before that.

4) It had been just over a year since Batman & Robin had crippled the Batman movie franchise, seemingly forever, and several years since I'd last bought a comic book.

5) I'd never been to Mexico, Spain, Virginia, Texas, California, Vermont, Rhode Island, Chicago, Worcester, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Seattle, or Washington, DC.

A whole lot of other things have changed, not the least of which has been myself. Despite being pretty sure I'd found the right person, I was far from sure that I was ready to get married at that point and our rocky first year certainly gave enough reasons to believe I wasn't. But Salomé believed I was ready, and sometimes someone else believing in you is enough to push you over the top, allowing you to do things you didn't think you were capable of. I have no doubt that I'm a better person today because of marrying her. Better, healthier and happier.

In many ways, seven years is a long time. I've now been a husband longer than I've done anything else consecutively, besides being alive. At the same time, in the big picture, it's barely a drop in the bucket.

Happy Anniversary to us, Salomé. Love you. So much! ;-)

Bourbon Street Stinks!

How come no one warned me? Bourbon Street at night is like everything I hate about Hoboken, magnified 10 times over, plus strip clubs! And it stinks like a mix of old alcohol and stale mop water. For all its unappealing skankiness, though, we did have fun people-watching the first two nights; and while I don't believe they're really 180 Proof, the Hand Grenade is a mighty tasty drink. ;-)

The French Quarter itself, and our trip overall, was a whole lot of fun. The humidity, as expected, was brutal at times, but for being on vacation instead of going to work, it was fine. On Saturday, we hooked up with both Phil West (in town for his brother's wedding) and my aunt Portia (who's living in Baton Rouge), and throughout the weekend did a lot of walking which probably limited me to only gaining about five pounds from all the eating!

It seemed like we were always eating, especially me and the oysters, what with them being so ridiculously cheap. Like $6.50/dozen at Felix's and $8/dozen at the Bourbon House, what ended up being our favorite restaurant of the trip. (The most amazing brunch I've ever had, and their beignets rivaled Café Du Monde's.) We had a great Sunday night dinner at the oddly named Alpine Restaurant, a happy little discovery while wandering in search of somewhere interesting for our last night's meal.


I hate tourists, and I especially hate the ones I see every day around my office on their double-decker buses like they're on safari. Nevertheless, we took a couple of walking tours, one Friday night - ostensibly a "haunted places" tour that was really more of a sightseeing at night tour - and a really cool one on Sunday afternoon, a combination of Creole history and "secret courtyards" that completely changed my opinion of the Quarter itself.

Much of Vieux Carre looks like it's abandoned because so many of the buildings are shuttered, especially on the residential streets, but because old New Orleans was such a skanky swamp with trash thrown right out onto the muddy streets, houses were designed in reverse, with elaborate courtyards hidden away from view in the "back" yards. We saw a few of them on the tour, from the simple to the elaborate, and perhaps the most amazing thing was how removed from everything you felt in them. In one, with noisy Bourbon Street only a half block away, it was like we'd taken a ride out to the countryside, it was so peaceful. Our tour guide - the wonderful Jenny; ask for her by name! - pointed out a lot interesting things, my favorite being the difference between the French and the Americans back in the day, as seen in the hidden courtyards of the Quarter vs. the flambouyant luxury of the Garden District.

We spent a lot of time walking up and down Royal Street, the Quarter's 5th Avenue to Bourbon's [pre-Giuliani] 42nd Street, since it runs parallel to Bourbon and doesn't stink, and I found the perfect location for a comic book store in the 700 block where an Importico was going out of business! There are a lot of galleries on that end of Royal and I could imagine a high-end, indie-centric shop with a gallery and an emphasis on trade paperbacks called Graphiqué. If only...

We also played our usual game of "could we live here?", spurred on by how relatively cheap rents - and, presumably, real estate - seemed to be there, what with these great apartments overlooking Jackson Square renting for $1700/month! The equivalent here in NYC would probably be something along Washington Square Park which typically rents for upwards of $3000/month, though with half the square footage! Of course, other than tourism, we were hard-pressed to figure out what sort of industry New Orleans had, though I'm pretty sure publishing isn't one of them. Probably a great place for single artists to live, though.

The return trip home was terrible, with our connecting flight from Miami delayed a couplafew hours and we ended up getting home close to 3am, in no condition to jump back into the daily grind so we both took yesterday off, too. Seeing India's scratched-up face from an ill-advised trip to the McDonald's playground with Isaac and her grandmother, where she had some kind of a run-in with another little girl, pretty much ensured that if we ever take another overnight vacation without them, it will have to include a drive down to Virginia to drop them off at my mother's place.

Of course, now there's the inevitable letdown that comes with returning to the reality of 9-to-5 drudgery, my patience a bit shorter, my resentment a bit deeper, and each email I read through fanning the flames a bit higher.

A change, as the song goes, would do me good...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

You Can't Serve Two Masters

There's a passage somewhere in the Bible to that effect, the equivalent of the more recent "can't have your cake and eat it, too."

The whole poetry & comics thing is one example, where a couple of months back I was inspired to get back into the scene and start performing again, only to be cockblocked by life's twisty little turns. In the meantime, comic books have swallowed the majority of my free time, not to mention storage space, as my writing for Buzzscope has taken on a life of its own. (Check out my latest feature here.) There's just not enough time for both, which makes the increasingly rare outings to Acentos and Bar 13 that much more special when I can pull them off. Last night was particularly fun as I popped in late to drop off a crate full of chapbooks I'd collected over the years for them to give away, and hung out for a couple of hours after the show with Lynne, Oscar, Matt, Rich, Maria and a couple of others I can't recall. In some ways, it felt like cutting the final thread connecting me to that period of my life, and now it's purely about the people.

Which is cool in a kind of "if I can't have it, at least I get to eat it now and then" way.

Or something.

I have no idea what I'm trying to say half the time these days, unless it's about comic books! Speaking of, go here to see my newest fascination.

Two sleeps to New Orleans!

Friday, July 8, 2005

Spring Cleaning in July

We celebrated Independence Day by giving our prison cell apartment a thorough scrubbing. "Thorough" as in near-blisters and aching joints when we were done. Except we weren't really done, because we still have our bedroom and closets to do tonight. That this includes a new bed, desk and rug - completing the Extreme Makeover - makes it all a bit more bearable.

It's funny how you can go months without realizing you've simply been treading water, waiting for something to happen instead of making it happen. We hadn't really done much with the apartment since we'd started looking at houses, and the place had gotten to the point where I was starting to hate being in it. It was always messy, my comic books were taking over the bedroom, and the kids' toys were always underfoot in every room.

We flip-flopped the kids' play area and the dining room - instead of our original plan of trading bedrooms, converting the living room into our bedroom and using the kids' room as an office - giving them a lot more space to play and making the apartment feel new again after two years, the longest we've lived anywhere. We also finally put together their toddler beds, so India is now out of her crib and free to roam. Fortunately, she loves bedtime, the whole tucking in and saying good night, so it's been an easier transition than I expected. We did have to switch their sheets, though, as she claimed Isaac's bed for herself and wouldn't give it up!

The comic books are still a bit of a problem, though, as I'm up to six longboxes, three short boxes and two stacks-and-a-half of unfiled (and unread!) comics and trade paperbacks. The discount I get at Midtown via Buzzscope has meant I'm spending slightly less money than I used to, but for nearly twice as many comics! (It also means your gift certificates for my upcoming birthday are worth twice as much!) I'm going to have do a little spring cleaning here, too, figuring out what I actually want to collect - primarily anything with Moon Knight, Black Panther, Black Lightning, [selective] Batman, random minority characters, and everything from Epic - and selling the rest of the stuff on eBay or something. I also need to figure out a way to generate some income from this stuff before the end of the year so I can claim some business expenses.

Anyway, we got some good news last Friday when we found a school for India that has an available spot starting in September. 1:1 teacher:student, they bus her there and back, and she can transition into their pre-K program after she ages out of Early Intervention. Also, our daycare provider decided to stop being flaky and, after a three-week vacation, will be back in business at her new place. All that's left is for us to win the lottery now and we'll be set!

As Isaac would say, "Seven more sleeps until we leave for New Orleans!" Calgon...

Deja vu-hahhahhahaha!!!!

An email I just received via my resume on


I've recently obtained your resume from the Monster Board and I was very pleased when I read it. I believe that you possess many of the skills and qualities that are consistent with some of our most successful Financial Services Representatives here at MetLife.

I am seeking to expand our Agency and I would like to share information with you regarding a career opportunity in the Financial Services industry that you may find quite interesting. We can offer...

- A sales training program - one of the best in the industry today, with financial support during your initial stages of development.

- An attractive compensation plan that rewards salespeople who consistently produce substantial amounts of high-quality business.

- An extensive benefit program that currently includes a healthcare package, disability income coverage, life insurance, a savings and investment plan and retirement benefits.

Please contact me by e-mail a*****@METLIFE.COM so that we can arrange a mutually convenient time to meet each other to discuss this career opportunity further.


A**** G****
Agency Director
Bridge Financial Group
One Penn Plaza
4th Floor
New York, NY 10019

MetLife is an equal opportunity employer.
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, New York, NY 10010
Bad enough it's a half-assed form letter that didn't even fill in my name, but they obviously didn't really read my resume or they would have seen that I've already been down this road with American Express Financial Advisors and either referred to that or not bothered contacting me. I figured after AEFA's similar approach to recruiting - resume bank searches for people with marketing backgrounds - had failed so miserably, no one else would be doing it, but it's the third such email I've received in the past six months, all from different companies.

Interestingly, AMEX recently announced first that they were spinning off AEFA, and then that they were dropping "American Express" from its name, rebranding it as Ameriprise Financial. Considering one of their biggest selling points to prospective advisers and clients was the American Express brand, that's a potentially crippling move for their current advisers and their recruiting efforts, not to mention existing clients who were wooed by being under the AMEX umbrella.

If you work with an AEFA financial adviser, you better grill them about their personal next step because the likely exodus this will cause could leave you high and dry, shuffled off to some low-rung schlub no other company wants to poach. Conversely, if you're a valuable client, you may get pitched to move your assets to whatever new company your adviser jumps to, a situation that could go either way depending on a lot of fine print they won't be encouraging you to read.

I hate the financial services industry!