4.27.2006

Even though it's Thursday,

I still have facts from the Sunday Times article on global warming zinging around in my head. Since it explained that the phenomenon is basically no longer controversial, I've been thinking about the distant future in an immediate, stark way. Drowning polar bears is one thing; the awful hurricane disaster quite another; but still, global warming hasn't affected me directly other than a disappointing lack of snow this past winter and a growing dread about summers that get hotter and hotter. But this week, Blue pointed out that oceanfront property is no longer a good investment. (Sea levels are expected to rise 5-8 feet by 2100.) Now that I'm actively saving for retirement again, I can attest to the fact that 2100 is not too far off, at least for the next generation. Already, you can't insure your Cape Cod house against floods, because insurance companies see what's coming. It's sobering. Did I want to buy oceanfront property? I don't know, but until Sunday I still considered it a good investment, and living in a coastal town, I relish being near the ocean.

Something clicked for me. There's a shift now, maybe for everyone, that global warming is more of a reality and less of an idea.

So it seems doubly crazy that the Cape Wind project is still struggling for air. Senator Kennedy, of all people, still leads the brigade to squash it. I wish I knew what his "Riverkeepers" nephew, Robert, had to say about that. Today in the car, mulling over why on earth there's such opposition to such an safe, earth-friendly energy movement, especially in a place with such bad air quality, I silently asked Kennedy: Do you want there to be another coal plant in Massachusetts?

And then it struck me. The answer is yes. There's a coal lobby. I think for a long time I was assuming that it was the lofty property owners in Nantucket that were stalling the good cause, and that in a progressive state like this one (you'd actually think alternative energy would come before gay marriage and universal health care, but I'm not complaining!), for sure we would have gotten clearance on Cape Wind by now. But no. That was naive. There's big money riding on more coal plants, and just like when I read the article last Sunday, a light went on.

A light in my head, that is. Powered by alternative energy.

4.24.2006

Warhol

In Chicago over the weekend, we got to check out the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art. It was super-cool. You'd think silk-screened art wouldn't be that different in the flesh, but the originals were really meaningful. The paint daubed onto Marilyn's beautiful face tragically alienates her, Jackie O's face reflects all the joy, shock and grief of her experience, and in accidents, advertising, and stardom, repetition reduces something human, just like they always said it did. Warhol's work seems to have only gotten more relevant to today's twin drivers of celebrity and consumption. He also used repetition to drive home terrible events, like police brutality at a peaceful Chicago protest. There it has a different effect: you see it again and again and you feel more and more human, and angry, and sad, and vulnerable.

Chicago was very beautiful and warm, filled with good visits with family and friends. But travel is hard to enjoy right now; somehow living in a construction zone has just made me want to stay at home even more.

Not sure I've figured that one out.

4.17.2006

Looking for Plarch

Is it green? Is it brown? "We need something outside the electromagnetic spectrum," said Blue the other day as we stood in the returns line at Home Depot. "Something that's not green, not brown, not gold, not wheat, not yellow, not cream, but something in between." We'd already painted our entire kitchen 'Garden Path,' which, we unfortunately realized after one full coat, was way too minty. "I want something sage," my husband said days earlier: "Think soft, silvery, green but not green." Garden Path was green. "What would you name the new, off-spectrum color of your dreams?" I asked him. Thoughtfully, he replied: "Plarch."

By Sunday night we'd primed again. I held in my hands a new gallon of paint, chosen after a lot of hemming and hawing. After we put the new color up on one wall, we took turns giving it our own names. "Dead Lawn," he suggested. "How about Mudpit?" I asked. Whatever it was, it went with the rest of our house, so we stuck with it. But once the entire kitchen was painted (real name: Homespun), I was vaccillating wildly between hate and love. At least this was a step above the Garden Path experience, wherein we liked it until it was finished, and then had a steady, endless supply of dislike.

It depended on the light, and maybe the angle of your head when you were looking at it, but somehow we couldn't quite pin down what color Homespun actually was. Sometimes I would pause, roller in hand, to gaze, and one wall looked exactly like a bad 70s avocado. "Is this really ugly?" asked Blue. "Maybe it's so ugly it's hip," I said. Other times I would catch a glimpse of it from the sunroom, and it was a warm brown. From the dining room, it looked like an indistinct stone. "I love it," Blue declared. "But what color is it?" I asked. He began to laugh. We'd found Plarch.

*

Also this weekend: my parents visited during the Garden Path debacle, we took lots of wonderful walks on actual garden paths, and my first tulips opened on Easter: two soft pinks and an orange.

4.12.2006

Too Much

Just after posting that last entry yesterday, I reached into my laptop backpack, which I always carry with me. I noticed something black jammed at the bottom. Could it possibly be my expensive black knit blazer that had been missing for two weeks and presumed MIA at the dry cleaners? I pulled it up from underneath my notebook, my orange Built NY lunch bag, my laptop power cord, my old pay stubs and various debris, and there it hung in my hand, covered in dust and flotsam, more ready than ever for a visit to the dry cleaners. On my walk home from work, I stopped in.

"I am so sorry," I said, and she laughed as I walked in. "No problem, I lose things all-time. Where was it, you closet?" I lied with a nod. I was ashamed. We settled up, and I started out the door. She called me back. "Don't forget your coffee mug!" she said, gesturing toward the stainless steel travel mug I'd left on the counter.

4.11.2006

Lost

I walked into the dry cleaner's yesterday. It had been so long. "Excuse me," I said. "This is kind of embarrassing, but I'm not actually sure if I left something here or not." "OK," she said, unfazed, gripping a pen and notepad for my last name. The wall of tags revealed nothing, but when she learned it (might have been)/(was) a single item, she promised me she'd look through the store. "When might you have brought the item in?" she asked. Really, she said, "When you bring in?"

"I don't know," I said, and we looked at each other and laughed. I did, fortunately, remember my own phone number, and what the item looked like, so I was able to provide her with that.

Walking out into the cool spring breeze, I headed in the direction of the sun, feeling more like an old woman lately than someone in the last few months of her twenties. I wasn't even sure where to go. I just wanted to amble, slowly, and be reassured by the distant yelling and laughter of the neighborhood kids and the feel of my own pace. I did remember where my house was, yes, but the kitchen remodel, some details about work, certain aspects of the future, had proven so overwhelming lately that when I missed a favorite item, a black knit blazer, I didn't know what I had done with it. I remember thinking it should go to the cleaner's. Whether it ever made it there, I truly can't say.

4.07.2006

This Week

I've noticed a proliferation of Tivo stickers on cars. Why, why? Why? Just a sticker that says "Tivo," as if they peeled it off their Tivo and slapped it right next to the sticker from Cornell University or whatever. Why?

I really enjoy being at a young company. People are genuinely funny, for one. I usually don't enjoy corporate humor, but there's a general shared tone here that's made me laugh out loud in every meeting I've had this week. Also, and I think this goes along with being really funny, my colleagues are clever, and also curious, and they are often interesting. Not always, but often. This is high praise from me.

Maybe what I'm getting at is that most of them are empowered. They seem empowered with their own jobs and their contribution to the work of the company. What I'm saying seems simplistic, but in my experience, it's very unusual.

I had a rare moment last night to watch a "Friends" rerun (one I'd never seen, where everyone kisses!) and a commercial appeared for the radio station 93.7. The entire commercial consisted of my old friend Eugene Mirman staring directly back at me and psuedo-describing the radio station with pleasant irreverence. It was a funny ad, plus, it was my friend.

I've been very sleepy all week. We insulated, framed, babysat contractors, let people in and out, worried about inspections, minded the cat, swept plaster dust, and saw friends until late at night. This morning I could barely open my eyes. "Something's got to give," I told Blue. "I think it should be sleep," he said. "I nominate our friends instead,"I said, since giving up sleep isn't really working. He agreed. Not giving them up entirely, just for a couple weeks. Starting next week. Starting middle of next week. Just until the cabinets are in.

4.04.2006

Final Update

Our baby passed all her tests! We're homefree! Here comes the drywall!
Update

Man, I really don't like the new NYTimes.com layout. It's impossible to find anything, especially anything to read. I miss the old Times. The old, clunky, trusty Times with the old familiar font.
Update

Electrical inspection passed!
Testing

We failed an inspection yesterday. It was a framing inspection. "Your framing looks great," said the inspector, "but you need more thermal fiber." Was it a thermal fiber inspection? I'd never even heard of thermal fiber before last weekend, when a visiting plasterer in for an estimate mentioned it as an aside. Home Depot doesn't carry it; hardware stores don't carry it. One remote contractor supply center carries it, but they don't have evening or weekend hours. I drove out there Monday morning, two hours before the inspection, and bought the smallest amount I could: 85 square feet. The pack was almost as tall as me, and a lot wider.

Thermal fiber, it turns out, is like insulation, except that instead of blocking cold drafts, it blocks fire from traveling between floors. Fire loves air pockets, so you have to eliminate air pockets by jamming them with bits of thermal fiber. As I found out when the inspector stood in our kitchen, you also have to insulate the sides of stairs with thermal fiber, and in fact the side of a stairway makes up one entire wall in our kitchen! How does anyone ever find out this sort of thing except by failing an inspection?

She promised she'd come back today, and review us for both thermal fiber and for insulation (which we stayed up until 1am last night to install). But we can only pass if our electrical inspection passes one hour beforehand, at 9am. And according to everyone but our electrician, inspectors don't want to see any insulation, just wires. We would have loved to have had this inspection earlier, except that our electrician failed to show up on Sunday, when he was scheduled to complete the work.

If our baby passes her tests, the plasterer will return at 7am tomorrow with his team, perform drywall magic on our walls and ceiling, and make it look pretty and paintable and like a home again. And this we want more than anything.

When I left my kitchen this morning, I took a look around. I felt worried. I felt proud. I wanted it to be its best. I hoped it would pass all three tests. It's so small. It's trying so hard. It didn't mean to fail yesterday. I have to believe it will be OK.