Sunday, March 01, 2015

More Fun with Real Estate

I had easy experiences with my first two condos and also with buying my garage, but the house purchase continues to elude me.

First, we had the great leaking oil-tank scandal of 2013. Now we seem to have the low appraisal of 2014. 

I went into contract to buy an as-is house near the Liberty State Park light rail. The house is nondescript on the outside and a bit of a wreck on the inside, but everything worked and it had a nice yard, and was out of the flood zone. 

Unfortunately, due to the lack of similar comps nearby, it didn't appraise anywhere near what I was going to buy it for. I really believe in this area, so if there were any way to get it at a reasonable price, I'd make up the difference. 

But to get it with its current appraisal, I'd need to fork over $61,250, then put another $30-40k into renovating. Once you get into a $100k up-front house, you start to think "Wow, I could buy a lot for that, and wouldn't need to lift a finger." 

So strike two. Hoping not to strike out next time. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Saturday Mornings

Work has been taking up just about all of my time, but I liked doing pottery so much last time I tried it that I decided to make time to do it again. I signed up for the Saturday morning class and that has really worked out.

I get out of the house early—like today—and there is nothing pressing for me to rush to after, so I can stay late until I've finished something. I take these classes at La Mano, near the 23rd Street PATH train, so it's super-easy to get to, and the classes are inexpensive enough that it's a better deal than getting a free class where I teach and paying the materials fee.

I'm still not very good at it, but I'm getting better at mugs.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Working Hard

I had a business trip over the weekend.

Food trucks were also involved.

And so were monsters and aliens.

Anyone want to guess where this was?

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The New Heater, Part III

The new heater is looking great, isn't it?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Decorative Heater

Here's my new heater. It looks great, doesn't it?

But it didn't seem like it was generating that much heat. I peered in through the slits. I'd turn it off, then turn it back on. The fan would kick in and heat would come out. Then the fan would go off and an orange light would go one.

Hrm. What could that be, I thought. Standby mode? 

I looked in the manual. 

Oh. That's the thermal protection light. It comes on when something goes wrong. 

I shut it off at the breaker and gave it the finger. That'll show that heater. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Awaiting the Punchline

Friday afternoon, my office phone rang. I waved to my guests - a writer and an assistant - to shush for a moment and answered.

"Marie Javins." (I've been answering my phone like this since the co-publisher called one day and I awkwardly missed a beat as I held the handset to my ear and tried to remember where I was. I'm terrified I'll say "Marvel" or "Teshkeel" when I pick up.)

"May I speak with Archie Goodwin?"

Archie died in 1998. He'd been my first boss when he was the head of the trailblazing Epic Comics when I'd interned there in 1988, and he is rightfully revered as one of the most innovative voices ever to make mainstream sequential art periodicals (you know, comic books) and graphic novels. He'd moved to DC from Marvel the year after I'd started at Marvel, when Epic had been involuntarily reorganized and brought under the Marvel umbrella.

"He doesn't work here anymore," I said, trying to sound neutral and unsurprised, resisting the urge to demand to know who one earth could have been calling 17 years too late. The area code was 407. "A sales call," I thought, but I don't know.

Then later, I wondered how that call had gotten to me, Archie's former subordinate from another time and company. I tried to find out Archie's old extension online and didn't make much progress. There just isn't much info indexed from 1998.

Then it occurred to me to reach under my home-office desk to the shelf at the back, to pull out and blow the dust off my ancient Rolodex.

Yep. I have Archie's old phone number.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Send Me Back to Work Already

Time off is clearly detrimental to my impulse to fix things. I don't even own this place! 

But I pulled up a piece of broken floorboard yesterday. It's a sample to go to a vintage flooring place, so I can match the old floorboards in a few weak spots. I'm pretty sure it's heart pine anyway, like in all the old tenements. I suspect this pipe running along all the weak spots has something to do with the situation.

Yes, I've piled books on top of the hole so I don't forget it's there. 

Good thing work starts again tomorrow. The only real damage of the holiday is an empty cavity where there was once a dangerous heater and a hole in the floor. 

Most people just overeat for the holidays. 

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Happy DIY 2015

I started the year out strong, by dismantling an electric heater that's been terrifying me every winter morning in this apartment since I moved in back in 2007, and probably terrified my friend Yancey since the day he bought the place in the mid-nineties.

And once I dissected it, learning that one breaker powered only the heater and nothing else, I had no idea why it had taken me so long to realize that. I could have flipped the breaker years ago, left the heater in the wall, and not worried about a sublet person starting a fire or about the dangers of having a heating element covered in the accumulated dust of 1987 (when the building was "renovated") and 2014.

I want to congratulate myself and bask in the glory of dismantling a fire hazard. But instead, I just wonder why I didn't flip off the circuit breaker the first week I lived here.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in Review

Stuff I did in 2014:

 -Learned how to properly cook a steak.

 -Learned to throw pots (very poorly, but still).

 -Missed out on an amazing house due to a leaking oil tank, and missed out on Richie Havens's house due to someone having a lot more money than I did. Still trying.

 -Got three Marvel ART OF movie books to press.

 -Edited a prose novel adapting SECRET WARS.

 -Launched seven more students into the world of Photoshop, but more importantly, did all I could to equip them for the world.

 -Helped a past student and a temp get employment.

 -Gave a talk in the UK, followed it up with a holiday in Romania and Bulgaria. Pissed off a Danish development worker in East Africa by making a smart-ass, intolerant remark about dental hygiene.

 -Went through three health insurance plans. No, four.

 -Made an umbrella.

 -Packaged two Choose Your Own Adventure-style books about the Oregon Trail.

 -I lost more weight without trying, without regular gym visits. My secret, same as last year, was to avoid processed foods which are full of sugar in the form of refined carbohydrates and corn syrup. Give it a try. Not just good for the waistline—also good for your outlook.

-Had a miraculous moment where I represented both major American comic book companies at the same time.

 -And I went back to the workplace, which is full of ups and downs, and reminds me that the part I don’t like is delivering bad news to passionate creators.

 Where I fell down this year is on anything social. I worked more than ever, which seems impossible, but I ended up in a job intended for two industry veterans. It’s only temporary, and will pass. I’ll be available for lunch soon enough.

Not too bad a year, especially when I look back at the hopelessness of past New Year's comments, but the whole construct of a year is kind of goofy. Tomorrow is just an extension of today, so I try not to put too much stock in noting the passage of one day to the next. Some years, I go to another country to be a tourist over New Year’s, just to avoid the superficial measure of success in a world where I’m usually able to overlook my solitary existence. It’s hard to do that when pop culture is bombarding me with messages about being with friends and family. Easier to be distracted by the challenge of sorting out a situation I don't understand.

It's funny how when you're young, you have so much life ahead of you—you dance, you go to parties and shows, you chase an elusive something through the night in Manhattan—and so much to look forward to, and then at some point it turns to despair, and then you wake up one day with that behind you, and instead it becomes about acceptance, and just getting through the days. Acceptance pushes disappointment aside, and here you are. Just getting by, having lost the hope of something amazing being right around the corner. What's right around the corner is more change, more transition, more ambition, and more day-to-day life as I fight back against the human predisposition toward comfort and routine.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Holidays 2014

The guys are feeling especially Christmas-y this year.