Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vermont Catch-up

So let's talk about that weekend trip, shall we?  Vermont was lovely.  When we drove up, we left around 3:30 pm so of course got stuck in traffic all through Connecticut, but it was OK, we made it in around 10 pm and had a bottle of wine and a cheese tray waiting in our room.  The inn was adorable, but of course there were some gnats buzzing around and the door was hard to close since it was over 100 years old and creaky, but it was OK.  I liberally sprayed bug spray and we settled in for bed.

Saturday we were up for our complimentary breakfast (I had oatmeal with fresh fruit and Vermont maple syrup!) and we made our plan for the day.  The canoeing turned out to be on a lake, not a river, so it was less appealing to me, and it seemed hard to combine with other things (because of the location and rental was for a whole day) so we decided to go to the state park and hike.  (Ha, hike, yes.)  We had half of our packed picnic sandwiches beforehand, then took the Scenic Overlook Trail, which was deserted so just us for the whole thing.  It was steep with a big payoff view at the end, and so beautiful and fun.  We were spotting wildlife, swatting bugs, jumping over muddy creeks, and I loved it.  Then we decided to hike a separate trail to the waterfall, since I wanted to see it, but that was a bit longer, so all told we hiked for about 6 miles and 4-5 hours and I enjoyed it all but it wore us out!  When we got back to the car area we ate the rest of our picnic on a picnic table overlooking the river.  And rested.  Then on the way back to the inn we stopped in little towns, bought a Christmas ornament souvenir, checked out houses for sale (in a wishing way), looked at old cemeteries to find the oldest gravestone, etc.  It was ideal.  We even saw a wedding letting out of a church, and the big fat bride waved to us (from next to her tall skinny husband in a cowboy hat!)  Then it was back to the inn for some resting before dinner at the inn's restaurant.  It was delicious but mellow, as we were so worn out!  We didn't stay up for beers in the tavern but headed to bed on the early side. 

Sunday morning we had breakfast there again, then checked out and drove through Bennington to explore more of the Vermont countryside, which was so idyllic.  I then showed him Bennington College's campus, where I'd spent time a few years in a row with my girlfriends, as one of them is an alumnus.  We stopped for lunch in town, then drove back through Albany, stopping at a roadside stand for fresh raspberries and raspberry jam.  We also stopped to check out the old camp Hike's family used to attend every summer, Shapanack.  It's closed now and all decrepit and overgrown, but sort of romantic in its own way, as a ghost of Catskills glory past.  We took lots of photos to share with his family, and we stopped for ice cream at the go-cart place, and then finally headed back the city and were mercifully spared more traffic.

All in all, it was so peaceful and relaxing and felt like a real break from the city.  We barely turned the tv on in our room, which I really appreciated.  Once the shit hit the fan on Monday, all I wanted to do was run back to Vermont and leave the city for good.  I'm now more in the temperate area of that wish (I could do suburbia now, though), but we talked about how nice it would be to have a summer place up there.  Oh, some day.  I'd love it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vampires are So In Right Now

Well, I'm still alive.  I have good news and bad news, interfriends.  Turns out my mysterious, terrifying bug bites were indeed caused by bed bugs, aka my worst nightmare.  The Monday after we came home from Vermont, I lifted my bed skirt (dirty) to check the tape around the mattress-cover zipper, and I saw some tiny dead baby bugs stuck to if they were trying to escape from the zipper.  And I recognized the body shape from my internet research.  I promptly called my landlord, who helped me drag the mattress and box spring outside, and began bagging up my possessions.  The landlord had called his exterminator friend, who came on Tuesday morning for my first treatment, and then I began washing everything I own in hottt water and drying it on high heat.  (I ruined fewer things than I thought I would!)

I did find one live bug under the bed on a canvas bag, and then after the exterminator's second visit, I found one dead bug on the floor and one in an empty dresser drawer, which scares me, since I didn't throw out the furniture, he just sprayed it.  This morning was my third (and what should be final) visit from the exterminator, and since the second visit I've been unpacking all of my possessions again (per his instruction), and I haven't found any more evidence.  I'm feeling more encouraged now that I sort of have a bedroom again, but you can imagine why I couldn't talk about it for awhile.

So for the first week, after one exterminator visit, I slept on my couch, swaddled like a Muslim.  (I didn't know how far they'd spread.)  My roommate was away on vacation, so I had to call her with the news on Wednesday, but thankfully she was calm and helpful and even offered to let me sleep in her bed while she was gone.  I stayed on the couch, though, just in case.  I never was bit, and never saw anything there or in my roommate's bed upon inspection, so I think they were just in my box spring and surrounding area.  (The mattress cover didn't have dead babies under the tape, even.)  There were some tears in the vinyl box spring cover, probably caused by my underbed storage bins, so that would explain their access.  Our whole apartment was treated twice (my room thrice), so now everything should be dead or scared away.  The dresser does worry me, like I said, but he sprayed it and I only found one dead one, and I'll be careful with clothes, plus the bed will be well-guarded, so hopefully that doesn't lead to a re-infestation... more hopefully, it was just that one, trying to run for his life.

After my second visit, the exterminator came to inspect and spray at Hike's apartment.  He hadn't had any problems and we didn't find anything in my paranoid inspections, but we wanted to be sure.  After that clearance, I started sleeping over there so I could stay in a real bed and not get woken up by my roommate's odd hours. 

So now, after today's third visit, I need to buy a new bed.  And protectors, of course, and I won't use any comforter or bedskirt for awhile -- just a mattress pad over the expensive mattress/box spring protectors, light-colored sheets (to easily spot blood smears) and a fleece blanket (easily washable.)  Tonight we're going to check out Macy's, since they have a great sale on, and they seem to offer good financing and delivery options.  I just have to make sure that the new mattress will be protected from the old mattresses they pick up in that same truck.  Ugh, so many details.  It's been very overwhelming.  And so frustrating because my bites didn't really match the descriptions/photos online.  I'm taking comfort in some facts, though -- bed bugs feed once every 7-10 days, which was about the frequency of my bites, so I can't have had too many feasting on me or it would've happened more often.  I also don't think they could get through my foam mattress topper, so my theory is that they were living in the box spring and just walking up to my exposed arms at night, since they didn't bite me anywhere that was under covers.  In short, it seems/I hope it wasn't too many bugs and that we got it early enough to wipe it out totally.

So yeah, I'm very grateful for Hike, who helped me finish washing everything I own on that Tuesday, and who has been really kind and supportive and generous by sharing his tiny room with me.  He also bought me a recent Groupon for a facial and massage at my favorite Astoria spa as a "reward" for surviving this.  So nice!  (I'm saving it until I feel like the crisis has passed a bit.)  We're looking at beds together, and I think we're going to get a queen, so that it's big enough and adult enough and we can use it for many years, since we'd like to be getting engaged/living together within a year.  So on that front, I was ready for an upgrade anyway, and the sale is really great so I don't feel too terrible about spending the money.  It ended up that getting infested was cheaper than I thought, though fully exhausting and stressful, with the living out of plastic bags and moving clothes from a clean bag to me to a dirty bag (all sealed) after wearing.  Then washing.  I didn't even use a bath towel for a week, since I'd put them away and didn't know where they were.  I had a hand-towel and then mostly air dried...while cooking.  It was slightly dangerous.

But now I am a mostly normally functioning person again...just very cautious, and will be for awhile.  Please don't be afraid of me or my apartment, as I promise, I'm policing everything very carefully.  At least I reacted so strongly to the bites that (unless my body suddenly adjusts to it) I will know if I get another one, BUT I HOPE TO GOD I DO NOT.  I've had two mosquito bites over these few weeks that freaked the hell out of me, but they behaved totally like mosquito bites and weren't so itchy, so they can't have been the BBs.  (Riiiight?)  I bet there will shortly be a specialty for therapists that's something like "post-infestation fallout management," as this experience is still fucking with my head.  Anyway, that's why I've been so quiet.  I will hope to entertain you more in short order, but I wanted to explain (and vent) first.  Thanks for your kind words as I was dealing with this, and hey, I survived my worst nightmare (that didn't involve a death!)

Friday, July 8, 2011

West Dover, West Dover, Send Stevie Right Over

In a few hours Hike & I will be on the road for our weekend minibreak to West Dover, Vermont, which is in the southwest quadrant of the state (according to Google maps.)  I can't wait!  As my confirmation e-mail says:

"Your Historic Getaway Escape Kit includes 2 nights stay for 2, breakfast for 2 each morning, a $50 credit towards one dinner in our restaurant, a wine and cheese tray delivered to your room, 50% off a kayak, canoe or bike rental, a picnic lunch and trail map to local swimming holes and an artist’s tour of Skip Morrow’s gallery. At the inn you will receive a packet with all the details, maps and info you need to enjoy your amazing deal!"

This is the inn:

And this is our room:

And this is the forecast:

We'll head out once Hike gets the all-clear to leave work (banks are so stuffy) and then we'll run back to Astoria to pick up our stuff and the car, and then hit the WIDE OPEN ROAD (after NYC traffic, that is.)  I hope it's romantic and outdoorsy and relaxing.  Don't worry, I've packed bug spray -- this week I have another bad few on my arm, too, so I know better now than to risk getting eaten.  But we decided we want to canoe (instead of biking or kayaking) since that's the activity we'll have the least opportunity to do here, and I'd love to hike (ha, with Hike) and swim and eat and read.  I may never come back!

Geez, think I should manage my expectations?  Oh well.  Happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Seriously, Cootie?

This is on my hip...which has been covered at all times (except in the shower), as far as I know.  I mean, my underpants cover it, even when I'm asleep!  (You can see the lovely imprint from the waistband of today's boyshorts.)  So I'm confused, still, as to what is biting me and why I'm only recently reacting this way.  Is it a radioactive spider??

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Weekends and Bookends

Well, I was very quiet last week, and at this point, I can't remember/won't bore you with details about the weekend before this one.  But this one! Was nice and long and relaxing.

Friday I snuck out of work at 4:30 to meet Schmillie and see Bad Teacher.  I thought it'd be dumb funny and Jason Siegel was in it and how wrong could that go?  But oh, so wrong.  And you guys, I know I'm supposed to be all up in Justin Timberlake's jock or whatever, but NO.  He's just so asexual to me.  Yuck.  And so there's a really creepy "love" scene (or rather, "dryhump" scene) and it only makes him more revolting.  Anyway, the movie was bad but we got through it together, then wandered a bit to Banana Republic, and it was a lovely night, and I bought a soft sweater on sale, and then heard some lovely opera in the Union Square subway station before getting home to relax and watch True Blood.  Hike came over after the Mets/Yankees game (he went with friends to CitiField) and then to bed.

Saturday he left, and I was terribly PMS-cranky and took a two-hour nap and then went to the gym and met up with Hike and his friend Yoshi for dinner and UFC watching, yawn.  But it was nice to be out and have some beers.  Sunday we went to church with his Grandma, then back to her house for family dinner in the afternoon (and doing his laundry), and his mom brought me a white jacket that she bought but didn't fit her right, so now I have a white casual jacket.  She wears petites so basically can hand things down to me, and this is something I'd wear to work and not too mom-ish, so good!  Sunday night we just stayed in at his place, cooked dinner, and played our video game.

And then Monday we picked up his friend Yoshi and headed out to Long Beach, where we met up with his bro and sis-in-law plus some other of their friends.  It was so pretty -- the cloud cover had cleared by the time we got there, and the water was cool but totally comfortable, which meant I could go in to cool off every 20 minutes (as I need to when I'm hot!)  It was fun and we stayed about two hours, which was the limit on his parking spot, and he tried to move the car but couldn't find another spot so we just gave up and came home.  It was for the best, though, as we beat the return traffic and had time to relax and shower before meeting Yoshi again for dinner on Broadway in Astoria.  We sat in the back garden of a Thai place and I had a pink drink and it was relaxing.  Then home to hold a two-week old baby!  One of my roommate's friend's just had her and they were over for dinner, so I nabbed the baby and sat in the quiet living room to hold her for awhile while she slept.  Adorable. 

Now it's Tuesday already!  I can't wait for this weekend's Vermont trip.  I hope it's entirely relaxing and outdoorsy and loving and rejuvinating.  And until then, I'll gym it tonight, go to softball tomorrow (and Hike may come over after), then get my nails did on Thursday (and I need an eyebrow wax really bad -- they're caterpillars), and then we leave early afternoon on Friday.

OH and I'm re-reading Forever.  I love this book.  It starts out in Celtic Ireland, which I've always enjoyed learning about, and then is set in various Manhattan time periods, so it's the best kind of historical fiction.  It's also getting me (more) psyched to watch the New York documentary that I bought Hike for his birthday.  We have less movie time lately, but I hope we can break that puppy open soon.  Anyway, I'll finish the book this week and then I can bring our new book club pick to Vermont.  Ahh, summer reading, I love you.

Why I Am No Longer a Career Girl

I'm having a mini-anger attack at some news that just appeared on my Facebook feed.  Apparently the publishing company for whom I worked for five years just recently signed a partnership deal with Joseph Gordon-Levitt's website/movement HitRECord.  This was an idea I brought up about five years ago, when I worked mainly under the company's entertainment publishing arm, and JGL was just starting this project.  He'd also just done Brick (so this was around 2005), and I did a lot of research and reaching out to his people, and the Executive Editor was vaguely interested, but not enough to bite, so he eventually passed on the idea.

And now, the new entertainment division has partnered with HitRECord.  And I am sure my initial pursuit has been forgotten, and someone thinks it's their fantastic idea, and they've now paid much more than they would've in 2006.  Yes, it was too early then, but we would've been on board before it got expensive (i.e. before 500 Days of Summer and Inception.)

All that to say, after one giant Fuck You, Your Ideas Are Worthless Amidst our Large Corporate Machinery in the form of a laying off (with generous severance, thankyouverymuch forced union membership), things like this both anger me at what I could've brought into the publishing world if ever given enough power and also make me grateful that I no longer am at the mercy of someone else's ignorance or opinion.  I've lost the power to influence culture, but I've also gained the freedom to cultivate my own tastes and not feel so desperate for the next big thing.  Instead, I can marinate in my current obsession(s) and actually enjoy them, instead of trying to monetize them.

It still stings, though, to matter so little professionally.  So I literally have no upwardly-mobile interest at this point.  I want to do my work and find it relatively interesting, but more importantly, I want to life a full and rewarding private life.  I wouldn't mind earning a salary on which I can live comfortably in the suburbs, but I don't want to climb to the top of any org chart.  It costs too much.