Wednesday, August 27, 2008

An exaggeration-free post

Even though we're using the broker provided to us by The Corporation to find an apartment, we thought we’d do a little research on our own, just to see if we could get lucky. So we got a couple numbers for management companies from a few of our NYC dwelling friends. I finally got around to calling one of them. Here’s how it went.


A bored ADVERTISING COPYWRITER stretches and yawns after his afternoon nap. He decides to make a phone call to a NEW YORK MANAGEMENT COMPANY.



COPYWRITER: (voice faltering due to instant confusion) is this the, uh-- (scrambling for the name of the management company) Is this…the management company?

THE SUPER: Who are you?

COPYWRITER: I’m…my friend is one of your tenants? I’ll be relocating to New York with my wife and I’d like to know if you have any one-bedrooms available?

THE SUPER: Yeah, well you can call back during business hours. 7 to 3. How about that? Right now I’m exercising, I’m all out of breath (begins breathing heavily) and I’m not gonna be of any help to you.

COPYWRITER: Ok, 7 to 3 you say?



A few things to note:
1. According to my Jerky Boys translator guide, all landlords in New York are called "The Super," which is shorthand for "The Super Across the Way."

2. Clearly I am an asshole for not knowing that business hours for Supers are 7am to 3pm, which was nicely emphasized by his “How about that?”

3. In order to prove that he was exercising, he began breathing heavily just after saying, “right now I’m exercising.”

4. If all my phone calls are going to be like this from here on out, I’m gonna have to start recording them to prove I’m not making them up. Cause that was awesome.

Oh, hi. You're still here?

Every additional day that we’re here since our pseudo-going away party, I get the same reaction from people. The words that come out of their mouths say, “Aren’t you outta here soon?” But just underneath their words, I can hear this creepy, soft whisper that keeps repeating, “Geeeet…ouuut.” Then the elevator walls bleed.

I’m sure the reason for this has nothing to do with Crissy and I sauntering through the halls at work, snapping our suspenders and correcting pronunciation. “Actually? In New York? Houston St. is pronounced HOWston like Faust, not HEWston like beef stew.” Then we titter with amusement and sip our highballs.

But it’s only partially our fault that we’re still here. First it was The Corporation taking a really long time to get me the offer letter after I raced in and told my boss I quit. Then I dragged my heels while trying to get The Corporation to pay for things like my family’s Christmas gifts and one massage per hour as part of my contract. Then our current job informed us that we’d have to pay them back the vacation time we haven’t earned yet. Haven’t earned? Wha??

The missus already mentioned this in an earlier post, so I won’t go into great detail, but the outcome of our emotionally-charged meeting with the CFO (I think that stands for Cyborg Faux-humanoid Organism), was that we’d be offered the opportunity to “work off” some of the remaining vacation days that we “owe.” Like we were sopping up the last bit of gravy in our pot-pies when I noticed I forgot my wallet, so now we have to earn our meals by washing dishes in the kitchen.

Which means that instead of being done on Friday, September 5th, now we need to come in on Monday September 8th for dish and mop duty. I guess if coming for the extra day will be an extension of the high-level staring contest I’m having with my computer screen, I can handle that. But I don’t have to like it.

Oh, and this is a picture of Crissy and an electrified Ramona Quimby on the boat up in Lake Geneva. Unlike my last image, this one is not doctored. Ramona pooped out the lightbulb an hour later.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Let us not forget

I find it so interesting how passionate people are about weighing in on where we should live in New York. It’s invariably the first question everyone asks us when we tell them we’re moving there. Here are some of the most common responses we’ve received:

“If you’re ever gonna do Manhattan, now’s the time. You’ll always regret it if you don’t.”

“Brooklyn is the place to be. Great restaurants, great bars, and the subway into Manhattan is a breeze.”

“Do Manhattan. If you hate it, you can always go to Brooklyn. If you do Brooklyn first, you’ll never move to Manhattan.”

“You get more space in Brooklyn. It’s the only way to enjoy your time in New York.”

“If you live anywhere but Manhattan, you’re an idiot.”

“If you live anywhere but Brooklyn, I’ll punch your balls.”

So intense. People really get worked up over it. People that have never been to New York in their lives ask us this question. And I have to cover my crotch while I answer just in case it doesn’t coincide with what they had in mind.

To be honest, Crissy and I have been back and forth on the subject countless times. I've personally flip-flopped so many times I, well…I suck at political jokes.

But we’re pretty sure at this point we’re gonna give Manhattan a shot. What the hell, right? How bad can it be?

One thing’s for sure. All we (mostly I) do is bitch about our current apartment. Regardless, I know we’ll miss it.

So I figured I’d throw in a reminder of the view from our balcony. But just in case we get too weepy-eyed about it, I doctored the colors of the image to remind us of just how good it never really was.

Monday, August 25, 2008

is this really how it's gonna be?

i hate that i'm emotional. i guess it comes with the italian and macedonian gene territory, though. thanks mom and dad.

for your reading pleasure, here's today's fun and embarrassing emotional moment-

being the pro-active, weekly timesheet submitting, faithful corporate drone, i went to the HR lady to inquire about my remaining vacation days and how that corresponds to my resignation date. according to "THE RULES", i have taken more vacation time than i have accrued while at the company. two whole extra days, to be exact. after i found out that i'd have to pay them back those two days out of my measly paycheck, i almost lost my shit.

with kevin by my side for support (he's got the same problem as me), we marched straight into the cfo's office to plead for a concession. "please, please PLEASE? i don't have a job yet. we have to pay a $10,000 security deposit up front and we need all the money we can get. we've been extremely loyal and good employees for the past five years. isn't there anything you can do? please. PLEASE?"

then the tears welled up.

cfo lady handed me a tissue and said she can't treat us like a special case. i wanted to scream and throw a temper tantrum on the floor. mostly because i cried. also because i'd be losing more of what was already an extraordinarily small final paycheck.
but thankfully in the end (as always), my better half was there to guide me out of the office and smile politely for me.

i wish he was going to be at my next job too.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Great Purge, Part 1

Yesterday we had Ed from the United moving company come over at 10:30 to check out our stuff and evaluate how much it'll cost The Corporation to move everything. Ed was a kindly, well-mannered gentleman of about 6’11”. When I let him in the building, I extended a hand and said, “Thanks for coming by on a Saturday.” Ed enveloped my hand with his flipper and, with a huge grin, responded, “Thanks for having me!” Yep. We’re still in Chicago, alright.

Ed ducked his way around our apartment, rummaging through our underpants drawers and typing descriptions of our belongings into a little blackberry-looking device, which he referred to as his “special computer”. The inventory didn’t take much longer than about 20 minutes, at the end of which he warned us that the efficiency of the packers could be a little freakish. “Just make sure you get out of the way when they get going. And don’t leave anything out that you don’t want packed. Wallet, keys, garbage, anything.” Garbage? They’ll wrap our garbage? I might have to leave a couple banana peels and a fish carcass on the counter, just to see what they look like gingerly taped up in bubble-wrap.

After Ed lumbered out the door, we decided to start purging some of our crap. So Crissy and I loaded all of our most embarrassing books into the granny cart and wheeled them down to Myopic, the ultra-hipster bookstore where they buy and sell used books with an appropriately surly attitude. Naturally, on our way there, I snagged the granny cart on a jutting building edifice, spilling books all over the sidewalk. Books with titles like “Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl,” and “The Engaged Groom: You’re Getting Married!” We scrambled to get them back in the cart, face down.

Since it was the first 8,000 degree day we’ve had all summer, I was already sweating like a baboon with a glandular problem, a condition only worsened by the prospect of the surly hipsters rummaging through our supremely uncool books...riveting page-turners with titles like, “How to Be Like Mike: Life Lessons From Basketball’s Best,” and “First in Thirst: How Gatorade Turned the Science of Sweat into a Cultural Phenomenon.”

Ultimately, we did manage to sell a few books, netting us $43. We were ecstatic. Mostly because we were able to get out of there before the hipster stinkeyes we were getting reduced us to ashes. It was a good day. So good, in fact, that I had to come home and take a 5-hour nap.

Now I’m sitting around the apartment while Crissy’s back at Christine’s parent’s pool in the burbs, sipping seabreezes. Which means it’s my responsibility to try to sell all of our most embarrassing clothes to the female hipsters down the street. And I'm not gonna lie. Just the thought of splaying my T.J. Maxx ties out on the counter is making my butt sweat.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

World's coolest friends

Last night a bunch of work folks threw a little shindig for us as a going away/excuse to drink thingy at the Rock Bottom Brewery. Actually, it was a joint event, since we were sharing the spotlight with another work colleague who’s leaving as well. Whether or not we went into it feeling slightly gypped is irrelevant, because we both partied like it was 1999. You know, when I wore a thumb ring without irony, and Crissy was pillowfighting with her sorority sisters to Lou Bega.

But since it’s 2008, I was ready to lie down with a cold compress by 9:30. A friend of mine puked at 11. I suppose it’s not really a party unless someone pukes, so he was unwittingly playing a vital role in the festivities. You’re a true friend, Rick.

If last night were a silent movie, there’d have been quite a few “scene missing” moments for me, but I do have little flashes of giving someone financial advice, and starting to tell someone I hate that I’d miss him, but quitting halfway through the sentence. Luckily, we still have two more weeks to ride the elevators together.

I would’ve taken today off, but I had to go into work for a presentation in which I’d be playing the guitar and singing a song about the delicious, whole grain wonderment of oatmeal. In the song, I rhyme “literal sense” with “anti-oxidants.” The fact that I was still a little drunk helped me ignore the tiny whine of my soul dying. Meanwhile, Crissy was sunning poolside at our friend Christine’s parents’ house while, at least in my mind, sipping a seabreeze.

Regardless, if leaving town is as fun as that, I think we’ll just hang out here for the next 5 years telling people we’re leaving every 2 weeks. It’s a nice reminder of how completely awesome our friends are. And a crappy reminder of how much we’ll miss them.

Oh, this is a picture of Alex, one of those friends. This picture makes me second-guess our move.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Home sweet holy crap

Yesterday the missus and I spoke to our broker, as provided by The Corporation, about what our hopes and dreams for a New York apartment might be. These people charge roughly 4 thousand dollars to do this job, and it seems to be unavoidable if you want to find an apartment in New York City. Now, there are a lot of dubious ways to earn a buck in America…pulling your pants down on a street corner comes to mind. Oh, also…advertising. But this is truly a bottom feeder profession. It’s like the catfish of jobs…though catfish is a little easier to swallow. Regardless, it’s a service being provided to us free of charge by my new employer, so who are we to complain? So we slipped into an empty office and dialed her up.

She was a very nice, thorough sounding woman who obviously has dealt with people moving from other cities to New York in the past. She spent the first half hour of our conversation warning us about the size of apartments we’d be looking at. “Listen, you’re gonna be really bummed out after the first day. Like, it will be a dark moment in your lives once we’re finished. Crissy, you will cry. Kevin, you’ll question your existence on this earth. Then you too will weep” Though some of this may be slightly exaggerated, she really did tell Crissy she’d cry at the end of the day. “Everybody does,” she reassured us. “Just try to prepare yourself.”

So she ended the call by telling us that she’d send us some good sites to check out to get a ballpark idea of what we could get for our money. “Whatever you do, do NOT use Craig’s List,” she warned us. “They lie about the apartments.” They lie? People lie to each other in order to get what they want? Our Midwestern brains could scarcely comprehend this.

10 minutes later I was surfing the WW Interweb, checking out some of the types of places we could expect to tour in a couple weeks. When we told our agent our budget was 3k/month, the perfect silence that followed suggested that we were actually on mute while her entire office huddled around the phone, scream-laughing and wiping tears out of their eyes. After regaining her composure, she told us that it might be tough to find something nice in the areas we were hoping to live (SoHo, TriBeCa, Greenwich Village, West Village, Lower East Side) but that she’d do her best.

If what I saw on those websites is any indication, we’ll be living out of a Radio Flyer in Queens for $3500/ month. But it’s cool. Cause we’ll get our $9,000 security deposit back in 2012.

it's a deal

Oh for God's sake it finally happened. It feels like we've been talking about this move to our friends for 67,000 years, and we had to wait for our brains to evolve to get us there. Or like we had to hitch a ride from continental drift to get us there. Or like it was the responsibility of the U.S. postal service to get us there. Slow is what I'm getting at, here.

At first it was them being slow. by the time they finally sent the official offer letter, I'd gotten into the game. "Could you amend the offer to say 'Company will reimburse any and all Starbucks tips forever from here into the afterlife?'" The HR woman basically told me to sign it or stick it. I signed.

Naturally, the fax machine ran out of toner and couldn't print the confirmation page telling me whether or not the fax was successful. So sometimes God likes to clog the system, too. Just to join in the fun. No Lord God likes feeling left out, after all.

Anyway, they got it. We're good. See you in three weeks, ya big dumb apple.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

to do:

exactly one month from today, we will be on an airplane bound for new york city, indefinitely. within that time we'll have (hopefully) done the following things:

1. said all of our "see you laters" (i refuse to say goodbye)
2. found our new mini-sized, jumbo-priced apartment
3. eaten my last burger and cheese fries at portillo's (for a little while)
4. charmed a few folks and secured some form of employment for me
5. set up a visit for a friend to visit so i don't feel so lonely
6. convince the benjamin family to move back from london
7. updated this blog for our friends and family at least 3 times a week
8. kissed my nonna and nonno
9. gotten rid of a lot of STUFF/CRAP/BAGGAGE we don't need
10. found a bar where we will feel at home watching our beloved chicago bears

that's all for now. i didn't promise this was going to be interesting for you folks. hee.

Get that violin outta here

I won’t say it felt good to quit, because I didn't hate my job. It was just time to graduate from the first level to the second. That’s just how it goes in advertising. You make no money, take another job. Make no money, take another job. Make more money, you’re overpaid. Then they let you go at 44.

I will say that the best thing about quitting for me actually happened about 2 and a half weeks prior. A fellow employee approached me in the hallway to commiserate about the state of our agency, which has undeniably been in turmoil. She and I had been there a pretty long time…maybe too long. Luckily, both she and I had survived a round of layoffs, and everyone was still staggering though the hallways like a collective open wound.

So I was used to commiserating. That I can do. But what really stuck in my craw was the fact that she began to give me a pep talk. In a way that really was her own personal pity, but that included me in the whole sordid ordeal. It was like one of the titanic violinists convincing the others to keep playing. “The captain loves the way we play, we might not get a better gig than this, and we're better people for staying.” I know she was trying to be helpful. And nice. But it made me a little sick.

A couple weeks later I quit. And now that I think about it, I suppose not feeling a little sick felt pretty good, so I take that back.

It felt a little bit good to quit.

Friday, August 15, 2008

For sort of sure

Well, the little lady's got it right. It's official. Well, ok, it's not OFFICIAL official, because I don't have the offer letter yet, but it's in the mail, as they say. Actually in the mail, though. Not figuratively.

But as soon as I got the phone call yesterday, we figuratively kicked our heels together, packed our bags, and waved a hanky off the back of a boat. Then I literally quit.

We are out of here. We're 99.9999999999999 percent sure. So I think it was the right time to quit. The sooner the better.

Because we are out. See you later. Goodbye. Totally pretty sure.

I'm gonna check the mail.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

it's been three years in the making...

it's official SUCKAS!

and so it begins...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hotel Lilliputia

Well, here I am. Back in the Big Apple. Lying in the bed of what is officially the tiniest hotel room I've ever stepped foot in. I had to army crawl through the doggy door to get in. I had to shimmy up an airshaft to get into the bed. And now that I'm in bed, brushing my teeth is debatable, considering I'd have to remove two of four limbs to get into the bathroom.

Best part about this little Lego-land Hotel? $235/night baby...WITH the corporate discount. Wouldn't have it any other way in this city, I suppose. The kicker is that the agency that brought me out here for an interview (which shall remain nameless until I get the job for superstitious purposes) failed to pay for the room. Clearly it was an oversight. I mean, CLEARLY.

Still, it's making me gunshy about drinking a $16 bottle of water, or a $45 Corona, or a $6,000 half-bottle of wine.

Half bottle. Seriously. Who invented those? Ewoks?

Wish me luck, uhh, nobody that's reading this...

the crab apple

i am crabby. anxious. nervous. excited. scared. hopeful. and if we don't figure this thing out soon my husband is going to divorce me on the grounds of my moodiness.

i just want this to &$(*#&% happen already.

i want to get our life moving, i want to start this journey together. but i just want to do it, now.

but for now the waiting continues...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Dear Corporate Wheels, Take Your F*$@ing Time

Good god these things take a long time. I'm supposed to head back out to NYC sunday night for yet another round of interviewing. The longer it takes, the more time we have to second guess everything. Boy, this is gonna be expensive. Man, is this the right job? Crap, where are we gonna watch Bears games? Jeez we hate super-rich people.

Regardless, we're fully committed to this. More specifically, we're fully committed to the pizza. And the occasional dirty water dog.

Hey, if Brett Favre can do it...