Tag Archives: apartment living

Lame Adventure 466: Testing My Limits

It is no secret that I am fond of pigeons. When they perch on the sill while I’m at The Grind, I welcome their visits.

Hello there!

Hello there!

I envy their freedom, their swagger and their ability to fly. The irony that they are on the outside of the bars while I’m on the inside is not lost on me. Every so often, mourning doves come around, too, like this pair that visited last month.

Mourning doves hanging out.

Mourning doves that dropped by.

Following a Sunday outing with my friend, Milton, I returned home, entered my abode and noticed that I had a guest perched on my bookshelf.

Guest inside my sanctum sanctorum.

Guest inside my sanctum sanctorum: “If I stay very, very still, I’m sure I’ll be invisible to her.”

I have been under a tremendous amount of stress in recent months. Nothing bad is going on, but I have been extremely preoccupied both at The Grind and on my own time. Two days earlier, on Friday before heading to the subway to go to The Grind, I heard a rustling sound inside my non-working fireplace.

It didn’t faze me.

As I was looking at the guest perched on my bookshelf, my first thought was:

Me: Huh. When did I get a stuffed pigeon?

Then, my guest blinked. I thought:

Me: Holy shit!

Next, I called Building Management. They were home in Brooklyn. They were unfazed, too. They told me to open the window.

Building Management: It’ll find its way out.

Me: How long might that take?

Building Management: Hit it with a broom.

Me (thinking): No way am I hitting it with a broom and risk literally scaring the crap out of it all over the place!

Me (saying): I don’t have a broom.

I have a vacuum cleaner and a whisk broom with a plastic frog handle.

Frog broom.

Frog broom.

Next, I called Milton. He laughed for five minutes straight, then advised:

Milton: Put on your rubber gloves, pick it up and throw it out the window!

Me: Are you insane? I have to climb up to it, it’s going to see me approaching, that should freak it out and then it might fly right at me. I’ll have a heart attack!

Milton: Hit it with a broom!

What is this about people wanting me to hit this poor creature with a broom? I’m not a violent person, I don’t own a broom and I would never hit it with a vacuum cleaner. It occurred to me that it had been in my apartment for three days, probably perched on that shelf the entire time, traumatized in these strange surroundings. It might have watched me ride my spin bike. Seeing me huff and puff in spandex could have traumatized it further. Had it flown around then, I would have certainly had a seizure. It is perverse to think that I had been completely oblivious to a pigeon perched inside my apartment for 72 hours.

It also occurred to me that it had not had anything to eat or drink since it flew out of the fireplace. Because I was not anticipating its visit, I didn’t have any appropriate provisions on hand: birdseed, bagel or pizza. Therefore, I was forced to improvise. I poured pellets of organic kamut, an ancient grain, and some water in a bowl. I placed the meal on a magazine outside the open window, hoping that my guest would chow down, then take the hint and fly away.

My guest didn’t stir.

So, I whistled.

My guest didn’t stir.

I clapped my hands.

My guest didn’t stir.

I shouted:

Me: Hey Birdy, look over here! Food, water, an open window!

Food, water and a Stella Artois ad to crap on, if nature calls.

Food, water and a Stella Artois ad to crap on if nature calls.

My guest didn’t stir.

I took a roll of wrapping paper and tapped it lightly on the talon.

My guest stirred big time, perched briefly on my spin bike’s handlebars and then flew behind a stack of sneaker boxes in an attempt to hide. I cleared the barricade. It was terrified and tried to press itself deeper against the wall. I felt so sorry for it. Then, a piece of a metal fan stand I have been meaning to throw out for the past two years, fell on its wing.

I nearly suffered a stroke and feared that the wing had been broken. Quickly I lifted off the fan stand. Luckily, the wing seemed okay. I was so grateful that stand did not hit it on its head.

I swooped down with gloved hands and picked it up. Pigeons are rather light. Its wings were flapping frantically. I extended my arms out the window, opened my hands and as it started to fly away, a breeze blew the cord from my blinds out the window and the pigeon got caught in the cord. I feared that the cord was strangling it, but only its wing was caught in the cord. It freed itself and flew straight to a tree across the courtyard.

Out this wide open window Birdy flew!

Out this wide open window Birdy flew! Eventually.

We both breathed an epic sigh of relief.

I have not found a single dropping. It was a considerate guest.

But I really prefer you guys perched outside.

But I really prefer you guys perched outside.

Lame Adventure 341: Mystery Pens

Since I had spent the better part of this particularly sunny and pleasant late summer Sunday indoors web surfing a seventies era Gillette Foamy shaving cream commercial featuring the legendary New York Mets ballplayer, Ed Kranepool*, and coming up short, I decided that the time had come to take my pasty white scrawny being outside for a walk while light still remained in the dwindling day.

*Ed Kranepool – is that a classic baseball player name or what?

Just as I was about to exit my sanctum sanctorum, I encountered an iPad box full of pens sitting atop the radiator cover in my building’s vestibule.

iPad box full of pens.

Although I would personally prefer the iPad it originally contained, there appeared to be many nice pens in that box.  The radiator cover is where tenants occasionally place items they no longer want, usually dull magazines and junk mail, but one year I recall that someone put out some Halloween candy.  I look at this stuff, but I’m not the taking type and it would be just my luck that I’d pop the piece of candy laced with a razor blade or arsenic in my pie-hole.

Pens, on the other hand, appeal to me.  They’re user-friendly.  I feel very discombobulated when I want to jot a note and I reach into my messenger bag only to discover that my pen is missing.  When this last happened to me I had to buy an emergency pen at a newsstand, but much to my chagrin, the seller only had blue ballpoints.  I utterly detest blue ink, but I had no choice, so I lowered myself and made the purchase so I could jot:

“If outlook on life dictates longevity, I should have been dead a week ago last Tuesday.”

Back to the present, I noticed that the iPad box packed with pens for the taking had many in black ink.  I helped myself to four, but took one in green for it reminded me of my charming Significant Whatever.

The chosen five pens.

I am certain that if she were a pen, it would not be one that’s generic and black.  She’s quick with a clever quip.  Recently, she cooed, in reaction to my always attaching photographs in my emails to her; the most recent being an image of a bag of artificially flavored sour cream and onion potato chips — after admitting that she did not necessarily require a visual aid to envision this foodstuff:

Chips I would never eat.

SW: I’m beginning to think maybe this is a form of OCD or Tourettes with you.

After I palmed my five chosen pens I headed out the door and proceeded to walk up my block at a jaunty clip.  I observed a new bag in a new tree across the street from the other tree that’s been bagged since spring.

New tree bagged.

Significant bag caught in branches.

It was a satisfying stroll where I was subject to only one tiny bug flying into my face – and just in-between my eyes rather than into my glasses.  My thoughts as I walked were primarily focused on the presidential election, new angles of intimacy with my Significant Whatever, and who left those pens behind and why?  It was quite a collection that was accumulated.  Did it take years?  Some appeared to be from hotels, others from places including Yale.  Were the rest purchased by their former owner or just absconded from the workplace, another great American pastime – filching office supplies?  Or, was it someone whose mate laid down the law:

Mate:  Either those pens go or I go!

When I left for work on Monday, the pens were still there, but it appeared that more were taken and my fellow tenants were indulging in this magnanimous gesture.  When I returned home that evening, the iPad box full of pens was gone.  Maybe their original owner had a change of heart and could not bear forfeiting his entire pen collection?  Or, could it be that in the course of the day every pen was under new ownership? Possibly, my landlady now has that iPad box full of pens sitting in her kitchen alongside her ancient answering machine, with the message declaring in her Irish brogue, “This is a machine”?

There it is, another unsolved mystery about as confounding as why no one has yet to post that Ed Kranepool shaving cream commercial on YouTube?

Lame Adventure 330: From Barnyard Puppets to Neighborhood Pooches

Twenty-nine years ago when I was a freshly minted NYU(seless) grad, I found my no fee, rent-stabilized, gas and electrical inclusion (i.e., no charge for gas and electric), Upper West Side hovel in The New York Times.  After making the mistake of agreeing to take me on as a tenant, my Irish-Catholic landlady, Catherine McCrank (name changed to protect the demented), ordered me to sit at her kitchen table to write a list of house rules that she dictated. I made the Faustian deal to follow her rules for the life of my tenancy in her building.

Deal with the devil circa 1983.

Since Manhattan usually has less than a one percent vacancy rate and I had been looking for a garret for three months, I would have willingly signed a confession that I was San Francisco’s Zodiac serial killer between the ages of four and twelve just to land this affordable 312 square foot crash pad.

The first rule was No petsNo air conditioner which has haunted me brutally this summer appears further down the list.  Back to Mrs. McCrank’s No pets rule, she loathes animals, particularly dogs.  Some tenants have snuck in cats, and occasionally there have been dog visitors, but this has been a dog-free house as long as I’ve resided here and at this stage, I’m almost the oldest tenant in the joint.  The length of my tenancy shocks the younger residents when they ask that irritating question:

Younger resident:  How long have you lived here?

I used to give an honest answer but after a while I grew tired of hearing:

Younger resident:  No way! You’ve lived here that long?

Now when someone asks I handle it as follows:

Me: I can’t remember.  Forever!

Then, I laugh, and they laugh and what we’re laughing at neither one of us knows other than they’re probably paying a good fifty percent more than me in rent, so I suppose the joke’s on them.

Unlike Mrs. McCrank, I love dogs.  I grew up with a mutt I adored that hated my guts, Mean Streak.

Meanie on the lookout.

In the above photo, Mean Streak’s paw was bandaged from excessive nail biting; he was a worrier as well as a canine warrior.  He was also an excellent watchdog and I assumed that he barked and snarled at me to maintain his skill set. I never held his ferocious temper against him.

I always figured I’d eventually live in a place where I could finally have a dog, but after twenty-nine years living in this sweltering, albeit affordable, rat hole – where I’ve just renewed the lease to start year thirty, I’m resigned to the reality that this is never going to happen.  Therefore, the closest thing I have to a pet is Bill E., my newly acquired puppet barnyard goat.

Low maintenance puppet pet. Just dust off on weekends.

I also like to come and go as I please.  Dogs need a lot of time and attention.  I oversleep nearly every morning of my life.  If I had to add “walk Fido” to my to do list I’d never make it out the door in time to squeeze onto the jam-packed subway train for my commute downtown, sandwiched between satchels with enough space to fit a week’s provisions for a family of four.

What is in here, fifty copies of “Fifty Shades of Gray”?

Fortunately, there is a silver lining to my tale of no-pooch-for-me woe.

There’s Blanca.

“That be me!”

This adorable 9-year-old Westminster Terrier lives across the street from my brownstone with her always pleasant owner, A.  They’re quite a team and it’s probably a reflection that A, who is so cheerful, would have a mellow dog.  Possibly a telling factor in Mean Streak’s sour demeanor was that my childhood phone number was 1-800-LUNATIC.  Was that a coincidence?  Probably not.

Back to Blanca, seeing her and A on my walk to the subway station to head down to The Grind is a welcome start to my day.  Lucky for me, Mrs. McCrank did not have one more rule on her list, “No socializing with neighborhood dogs.”

“Arf you, Mrs. McCrank!”