Monday moaning

So a couple of dreams last night made me wake up kind of sad and depressed, which was followed by dealing with a completely unnecessary doctor’s appointment for my mom (that got me pissed off and more depressed), followed by a  phone call from an unemployed  colleague that made me even more depressed.

I think it’s gonna be pizza for lunch…

New York photos

That took long enough, didn’t it? Can’t wait to get back, though. Actually, I can wait till after August. I’ve been in Manhattan in August before. Not sure that’s a mistake I want to make again.

Randomly Friday afternoon

Thoughts before shutting down work, visiting Mom, and driving over to my weekend house in Winston-Salem:

  • A neighborhood where $1600/sq ft is a housing bargain is probably not one where I want to live. That’s irrelevant, of course, because I couldn’t afford to live there even if I wanted to (link via Dan).
  • I’ve loved this song (and its siblings, “I Know a Place” and “Don’t Sleep in the Subway”) since I was a wee tyke. As I grew older, they also represented an urbanity that somehow got lost during the late 1960s and 1970s but was something I really wished I had lived through. It’s interesting to read the back story and even more interesting that I chance upon the link via an urban issues site I frequent rather than via one about music. Obviously I wasn’t the only one who recognized Pet’s whole urban vibe thing.
  • On suburban blight, an issue I’ve been intrigued by in recent years, especially since watching it firsthand in East Charlotte when I lived there briefly in 2005-2006. Atlanta has more than its share as well. The big issue, as the author points out, is that discarded suburban strips are less likely to attract the sort of homos, hipsters, and homesteaders that have rehabbed other types of down and out neighborhoods, just because the built environment is so much less flexible.

Next week is beyond hectic for me. Don’t expect much in the way of updates. Not that it matters that much, I guess (David said, kicking a tumbleweed out of his way…)


Le problème avec San Francisco

C’est ça…

The problem is not, mind you, that the either tenants or property owners were “victorious” so much as the fact that the battle is so contentious and the stakes are so high. Of course there are battles like this in other urban areas as well, but it’s always somewhat amplified in SF because of two factors: (1) rent control, which tends to artificially inflate rents on vacant properties and to artificially deflate rents on occupied ones, and (2) the “activist factor” in SF which tends to amplify pretty much every issue.

There’s other baggage there for me as well, but this is a major part of why I was so anxious to get out of SF eight years ago and why it often seemed so exhausting to live there. No matter how hard you work, your standard of living–or the residential component thereof–will only ever improve so much. On a reasonably good salary by most California standards, I would not currently be able to afford market rent even the dingy hovel I used to occupy South of Market.San Francisco unfortunately works well neither for homeowners nor for renters in this regard.

Granted, there’s much less demand for living spaces here in the heart of the Piedmont Triad for a variety of reasons but it sure does make life a lot simpler sometimes.

(Nod to Andréa Lindsay et Luc De Larochellière.)

Randomly Thursday night


End of stuff.


Jesus, what a rotten week. I’ve been chairing a search committee at work and we had candidates in for on-campus interviews–which in the academic world takes a day and a half per candidate. I’ve had the university accounting people breathing down my neck for year-end grant reports. And my department moved into a new space. All in one week. My job usually isn’t quite this stressful but this week was a nightmare. Just to add texture, I’ve had trouble sleeping (surprise!), I’ve been fighting some minor bug, and my mom has been an even bigger challenge than usual all week. Tonight’s Time Warner snafu was the icing on my wretched little cake. I’m exhausted.

The weekend may require some flavor of impromptu road trip. I’ll keep you posted

Eight years

This post is a little late. I landed back in the proper end of the country in early June of 2005. But I’ve been busy. So here are some random reflections on spending the equivalent of two presidencies back east:

I have become a Harris Teeter person rather than a Food Lion person. Supermarket choice is a biggie for me, obviously. Maybe I’m just feeling more middle class. More likely, though, it’s the fact that since I eat much differently now than I used to–much less processed and frozen crap–I’ve found that HT is not really any more expensive, but it really is much more pleasant. For reference, though, I will never become a Whole Foods person. There is nothing pleasant–nor even remotely tolerable–about being inside a Whole Foods.

I don’t drink sweet tea anymore. Haven’t in a long time. That ended pretty quickly after my first year back east. I pretty much never go to Waffle House or Krispy Kreme either.

People still don’t quite know what to make of me when I speak. I don’t have quite enough twang to register as a local but still have enough to make people wonder. I say “freeway” instead of “highway” or “interstate” and I actually know how to pronounce “gyro.” That said, I often–but not always–still emphasize the first syllable of “insurance” and “Thaksgiving.”

I am not one bit more fond of children, sports (even college basketball), or religion than I was eight years ago. I may even be less so. I have, though, started caring about discovering music again, even if a sizable proportion of it is in a language I understand only un petit peu.

I really miss being able to visit LA with relative ease. Being able to visit New York and Tornoto with relative ease helps make up for this.

I have discovered that many of the things I thought i disliked about city life were actually things i disliked specifically about San Francisco. But I have also come to expect more out of a living space for a lower price, which will make it hard for me ever to return to an extremely urban environment. I may regret this but I’m not sure. Related: Now that I have a house that can be cleaned, I’ve realized I kind of like it that way. Given any option in the world, would this be my first choice of where to live? Probably not. But it’s perfectly acceptable and I’m not clawing my eyes out dying to leave like I was in SF eight years ago–or like i was here twenty-plus years ago.

I hope never to have a thirty-mile commute again. Having a real career for the first time in my life, however, is pretty danged nice.

I have by necessity rediscovered a big part of my individuality and my independence over the past few years. The various circumstances that led to this were not ideal, but I think the end result will be positive. The fact that I have reconnected with a lot of old friends is a big bonus as well.

Where will I be in June of 2021? I won’t make any predictions at all.

Videolog: Second Chance

Peter Bjorn and John
Second Chance (2011)

I like it. It sounds like really good power pop, circa 1981. Or like “Sign of the Gypsy Queen” by April Wine–which may or may not qualify as really good power pop, circa 1981. And no, I’m not entirely sure why I’m associating these two songs…

On the town

I spent a good chunk of my Canada Day weekend throwing out more crap from my two houses, but I took a break Saturday night to do the town with my friend Jeff.

I really should get out more. We had a  great time at College Hill and Westerwood, where there were interesting people and passably good music. Then we hit what is apparently Greensboro’s newest queer bar. I don’t know how new it is in terms of opening date but I can assure you there’s nothing else new about it, including the exorbitant cover charge. The crowd consisted of the same thirty or forty homos who have inhabited every Greensboro queer bar since time began, all of them wearing the same cologne and dancing to the same shitty music they were dancing to twenty or thirty years ago. For good measure, some guy I was a little embarrassed to have slept with almost thirty years ago hit on me. Suffice to say I declined his advances. If I were looking for a new hangout in Greensboro, it would be one of the two former bars, not the latter.

Today, I dealt with some stuff for Mom, took care of some things in Winston, had lunch at Cagney’s, and came home to watch the rain–there have been lots of opportunities for that this summer–while pondering my Fourth of July road trip. It’s looking like DC right now. I’m trying to decide between the cheaper hotel that’s not as nice and is farther from transit but is closer to Old Town Alexandria, and the slightly more expensive one that’s really nice and is right next to the Metro station but is more of a hike to anything local.

There was also German food in Durham on Friday and shawarma on Saturday.