Category Archives: Personal stories

Stony Brook Saga

It’s beautiful, right?

This is the view from my bedroom in Stony Brook, NY. When I was growing up, my grandmother, Judy, lived here and this was her room. Although I grew up with this view, I never appreciated it. It’s funny, I was quote the north shore of Long Island snob and appreciated splitting my time between here and San Francisco. I appreciated that but not the view.

The journey back has been a little overwhelming. As a renter, I never had to worry about getting the ducts cleaned or the chimney repaired. I just called someone and whatever problem I was having was taken care of tout suit.

This is where I always knew I would end up. When my father bought the place from Judy, I was excited because I knew I would up here when he died. That happened last year. Truthfully, I also always knew that I would not know how to react to this. I cannot count how many nightmares I have had that he is still alive. And then there is the part of me that wishes I could punch him the face. Karma took care of him. He died choking on a piece of meatloaf.

My first visit back was surreal, to say the least. I had been warned that the place was a mess and while it was habitable, it was gross. The basement reminded me of the basement of American Horror Story; Murder House. I even found my other grandmother’s cremated remains. So creepy.

And now here I am. In a place with a memory for every emotion. Happiness, joy, sadness, loss, hurt, anguish, teenage angst, loss, love and some hate is thrown in for good measure. I am slowly getting the house into better shape. The basement will be redone soon and the carpet (installed in the 1980s) is gone. I got rid of a lot of stuff and moved my stuff in.

I was looking at the view the other day and I felt some things I have not felt in a long time. Happiness. Contentment. Joy. Just looking at the window, I have finally come home.

When did I join the Empire?

I am watching you. Stop using the airwaves to promote panic.

I was reading a Stephen King book this evening and a strange thing happened. In his introduction to Everything’s Eventual, he recounts a story about a radio station stunt he wanted to do to bring in my advertising dollars (he and his wife, Tabitha, own two radio stations in Bangor, Maine). It was going to be along the lines of the War of the Worlds. He says he never did it, to which I thought:

Thats a good thing because that would be a terrible misuse of government authorized air waves, it could incite panic, as it did with the War of the Worlds, and is shortsighted, selfish and myopic thing to do.

Of course, King’s reasoning had nothing to do with a concern for the public welfare, nor was it because he didn’t want to incur the wrath of the FCC. He failed in his PR mission because he just didn’t think what he wrote for the stunt was good enough.

Now, I stand by my thoughts about his stunt (seriously, in a country so paranoid that people try to shoot up pizza places because they read crap on Four Chan and Alex Jones exists, this would cause way too much havoc) but this is not a new response for me.

Not too long ago, I was out and people were watching a movie. It matters not what movie it was nor where it was being shown but it was a bootleg version of the movie and I had to leave because I felt badly about the copyright issues around watching stolen art.

I am not sure what the two really have to do with each other but while intellectually, I stand by both positions, I see that I am no longer the rebel I thought I once was. Then again, maybe I never was. Who knew I would one day join the Empire?

What really should scare you

This week, the United States carried out air strikes against Syria. This was in response to the dropping of sarin gas on a rebel held town. I will get to that but I have something else I want to write about first. You see, a number of people I know are worried that the U.S. air strikes are going to lead to war with Russia (it won’t) and are upset with me. While that is their right, their fears are misguided and are, in my opinion, in the wrong part of the world.

If war is what you want to avoid, you need to be looking at Asia. During the campaign, President Donald Trump made a lot of statements about China and its access to the South China Sea. During Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s confirmation hearings, he echoed those statements. This did not go over well with China. That government went as far as to say they would send nuclear weapons our way should be continue to meddle in their affairs. This is clearly scary and had me up at night worried about the possibility of war with China. When I was getting myself all worried, I found the graphic

This is a map of where China would send its nuclear weapons, should it want to bomb us.

This is from a Chinese magazine. Now I am encouraged by what looked to be a good meeting between President Xi and Trump so maybe we have come back from the brink of nuclear war with them but then you have Kim Jung Un.

Kim is unstable. That is not my opinion, it is pretty much everyone’s opinion. He has developed nuclear weapons and seems hell bent on developing a missile that can hit, well, us. If he can’t get it that far, he has Japan and South Korea to hit. This is incredibly scary because of how crazy Kim is. China could do something but they a, don’t want a unified Korea and b, don’t want more refugees crossing their border. Trump has made statements that we should give South Korea nuclear weapons, because more nuclear weapons always makes sense. This is a scary situation made worse by an American president with no real foreign policy. For his part, Tillerson responded to a missile test by saying, “We’ve talked enough about North Korea.” What the hell does that mean?

Speaking of Tillerson, we are now back to Syria. During the campaign, and other the last few years, Trump has said we should do nothing in Syria. Last week, Tillerson said that the fate of Bashar al Assad is up to the people of Syria. Several days later, 86 people are killed with Sarin gas. Many people believe that Assad was under the impression that he had the blessings of the current White House to do whatever the hell he wanted to his people. That is why I think the strike against the airfield was not a bad idea.

The big question is what happens next. One thing is sure, it won’t be war with Russia but what happens in Asia is anyone’s guess and that is the scary thing.

 

Fire is scary.

This is the closest thing that I can find to what may have caused the fire in question.

So, it was a Saturday morning. The time was around 9:30 am when I heard the strange noise. I went outside to see what was going on and noticed smoke all around the house. I was living in a building that housed three apartments. The heat hit me when I walked out of the porch.

I looked up and saw it; fire was shooting out of the upstairs apartment. My neighbor, Eliot, shouted that I needed to get out as soon as possible. I ran in and grabbed my cat and my computer and left.

I was not the first to call 911 but I did call. It seemed to take forever for them to come. The fire looked to be over the front part of the house but was moving fast towards the area over my apartment. It was scary.

My apartment had the porch.

The good news is that Eliot and Andrew had taken their cat to  the vet earlier that day. I do not think the cat would have survived the fire had he been there. The bad news is that no one was going to be able to live in the building until it was totally repaired. The person from the Gainesville fire department said that she believed the fire was started with a problem with the toaster oven. Wow.

When all of this was happening, the landlord came by with the man who did any repairs to the building. After being able to get some stuff out of my unit, I was able to see that there was no damage to my apartment from the fire itself. There was some damage due to smoke and water but not from the fire. I was ok, Squirrel was ok and most of my stuff was ok. That is all good and I am truly grateful that no one was injured or worse.

This is the room where the fire started.

 

But, then it all became a total pain in the ass. I went to stay with my mother. She had an air mattress and a study and that is where I was staying. My back hurt. I liked my apartment. I started dreaming about it.

She offered to get a different air mattress but seriously, there is a ceiling for how comfortable that can really be.

I started looking for apartments and that grew sad. Some that I saw were way too small. I was thinking I would just find something for the summer but then began to see that the place I was in probably will not be ready by the time I would want to move in.

The landlord’s insurance is suing the tenants’ insurance. The fire was on February 18. Nearly a month later and nothing has been done.

There was a vine growing through this crack.

Luckily, I found a new place. That is good. I was back at the old place and saw this. You can see out from the inside and there was a plant growing into my living room.

Now, my new place is about three blocks from the old place. I have much more room and a nice porch. I even have a nice fireplace for cold nights like tonight.

Fire can be great. This fireplace makes me very happy.

The new place is nice and I am glad I found it. If you rent a place, please get renter’s insurance. Fire is scary.

Squirrel on her new porch, sitting in her cat tree.