Ode to Olympic Swimming

O, Olympic swimming! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

1. For the 8 luscious men lined up in a row, waiting for the starter’s mark to go.
2. For the relay race, when 64 perfect bodies gather at pool’s end. Then 56 speedo-ed, and some wet, men cheer and jump for the 8 racing in their lanes. What a glorious and beautiful spectacle, the men’s 4x100 relay!
3. For the underwater slow-mo replay. Of that I have no more to say.
4. For the arms and chests and legs moving with such power and grace.
5. For the pre-swim stretching of said arms and chests and legs.
6.For the starting dive, always given a replay.
7. For the freak of nature Phelps, who garnered enough fame that NBC aired even the qualifying heats, not just the final races.
8. For the form and elegance of movement through water.
9. For reminding me of the days when I too raced the fly and breaststroke, years and years ago.
10. For the memory of my adolescent self finding a new joy at the edge of a swimming pool. When the boys swam the heat before the girls in meets.
11. For making my arms ache for the pain again.
12. For making me remember the peaceful silence underwater, the daily baptism that drowned my teen sorrows for 2 hours.
13. Forr making my eyes and mouth water, aching for the beauty before me in the form of 8 swimming men and a cool clear chlorinated pool.

O, Olympic Swimming! Why did you have to end? Now I have to go back to swimming or wait four years to have you again.

Check out these swimming photos from Scott and Colleen Goldblatt's Olympic Journal Blog. They've got more there.

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NYC, This is why I hate you

I woke up to sunlight this morning, which was a beautiful and new thing. I love my new place, I think I'll be much happier there than in my old place. BUT--the moving was a horrific nightmare. Behold the hassel that only happens in New York:

5 times I moved my things. 1st, last week into the truck with help from a friend and a hired mover. 2nd, into an empty house way out in Queens with help from the same friend and the old man who owns the house. 3rd, out of the house in Queens (after a 3 hour drive caused by the Mets game traffic.) I had help that one time from one fried. We were able to do it in an hour and change so we left Queens at 10:30. But I went back to Manhattan the wrong way and ended up in the Bronx After paying $8 toll. Then I got caught in Yankee game traffic and had to pay another $8 to get back into Manhattan where I dropped off my friend and then tried to find safe illegal parking for the full moving truck. Parallel parking a 14' truck on the street was not fun, to say the least. I got back home about midnight, when I left at 3:30 to pick up the truck.

That morning I woke up early to move the car from that illegal spot to another illegal spot. While packing things in the house where I've been crashing, I had to go out and move the truck 3 more times because people double parked next to it and blocked traffic. Of course, I'm the one they cussed and screamed at. One creative guy stopped his car to lean out the window and tell me, "When you hear people talking about A**holes, they're talking about you!" I said, "Thanks and slapped my left cheek for him. Despite my kind moving of the truck, I still got a $45 parking ticket I have to pay. It took me awhile to find some movers to help me empty the truck into my new home. It's a brownstone so there is half a flight of stairs to the front door and then my bedroom on the second floor. I finally found some who only quoted me $70 per hour for two guys with a $100 minimum. That was the best I could do.

After I got my two cats into the cab of the truck I left Harlem and drove towards Brooklyn. Meena is trained for car rides so she just sat in my lap and behaved herself. I had to confine the little one in a carrier and put her in the other seat and listen to her howl all the way there. It took 1.5 hours. I had to take surface roads some of the time because trucks aren't allowed on parts of the highway and some bridges/tunnels. Of course I got lost because MapQuest doesn't figure in for truck detour. But I got there at 1:45. The movers came at 2 and finished about 2:15. I gave them my last 120 bucks (tip) then attempted to return the truck to midtown.

I left at 3:30. I couldn't figure out how to get out of Brooklyn. I stopped to fill the gas tank so I wouldn't get over-charged by the truck company. But I estimated wrong and only filled it half full. The truck was due at 4:30!!! Not long after the gas station fill-up which took 15 minutes because another truck parked me in, I hit an SUV that was double parked. !!!! Those freaking cars should not be allowed in this city!! They are ridiculous and insane. It was hard enough driving a truck through narrow streets with cars parked on both sides and pedestrians everywhere, without the cars having to be grossly over-sized to feed the vanity of their owners. Anyway, I scraped and dented the rear fender of the SUV and scraped up my rental truck. Of course, I turned down the truck damage insurance when I rented it. Yikes!!! At this point I gave up and went numb to it all. I imagined the thousands or so bucks Penske was going to charge me and who knows what for the dang SUV.

God blessed me that day. The guy in the car gave me his cell phone so I could talk to the owner. He told me earlier not to call the police. The woman asked me what happened and how bad it was. Then she said she'd like to just forget about it. Fine with me. Thank you God. So I headed back towards Manhattan again. I made my way to the Brooklyn Bridge where a cop turned me away, trucks aren't allowed. Then I drove around following signs and getting lost. Finally I asked a traffic cop how to get out of there. He showed me the way to Manhattan Bridge. I had $8 on me and had forgotten to bring my metrocard for the subway ride home. I prayed that the toll for this bridge was only $6 so I'd have enough cash to get home. I was blessed again because the bridge was toll free.

The guy at Penske was extremely nice to me. I arrived in his office frantic and sure I'd be charged another 70 bucks because the truck was an hour late (now 5:30). I showed him the scrapes. He wiped the paint off the scratches and told me it was only dirt so I had nothing to worry about. He was lying for me. May God bless his kind, kind heart. He also didn't charge me any late fee. But I had to pay $16 for 4 gallons of gas. And I had driven 91 miles so it all came out to about $120. Still less than UHaul. So I subwayed myself back to my new home and moved all my belongings upstairs to the third floor.

What a ridiculous ordeal-- made worse by my incompetence at planning and efficiency. While lost in Brooklyn I got very sad. I thought about how much easier this would have been if I had someone with me or someone to help me. Even just having a person in the car to make me laugh.... but I only cried for a few minutes. Being alone has gotten extremely old. I'm tired of this. I want someone with me. I can't even imagine how it'd have felt just to have someone give me a hug last night when I finished. People are not built to be alone.

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Not Homeless in the City anymore

I did it. I dropped a $1200 check yesterday as a deposit for my new home and picked up my new keys. It scared me. I don't like that kind of commitment on an iffy situation. But, I couldn't ask for a better shared living situation. I'm not thrilled about the shared living with strangers bit, especially 3 of them. But, as I reflected on my past roommate situations, if there is a problem then it's better to have other people around to diffuse the situation. Living with one person you don't like alone is worse than living with one person you don't like and some other people you do like.

It's a pretty sweet deal. 4 of us share the whole 3-story house in Brooklyn, in the Crown Heights area. The bottom floor is common space with the living room and kitchen and dining space. Then on the second and third floors are the bedrooms, two on each floor with a bathroom between them. So I'll only share a bathroom with one person. I have a big bedroom, the girls are ok with my cats and they don't smoke. They're a little bohemian, they'd rather have pillows than furniture in the living room, but that's better than living with a princess. Now I'm just waiting to hear from the guy who let me store my things in his empty house--to see when I can go get them. I also have to find a place to rent a truck since I refuse to EVER use U-Haul again, due to the 4-hour drama I had last time waiting for them to send a mechanic out to start the truck.

This is a good deal for me because I'm lazy. I don't want to have to produce the paperwork these landlord's require in addition to producing the same paperwork from my father in Florida. They want employment letters with salary information, credit reports, references, bank statements and I don't know what else. And if I moved into my own place then I'd have to pay to turn on all the utilities and my rent would be about 650-750 and would be exceptionally small or in a violent neighborhood. I'm paying 600 a month for my new place. My buddy said that's the lowest rent he's heard of anyone paying in Brooklyn. That's because the house isn't in the hipster-land part of Brooklyn.

I'm excited. My room faces the street so I'll get some sunlight instead of a view of the brick wall like I had before. We have our own stoop. And now I won't live above the barber shop that just re-opened after getting closed by police order for selling drugs on the premises. I don't mind the drug selling but the loud R&B music from 10 am to 10 pm got very annoying.

I dropped off my old keys this morning. So in a few days time I can get back to whining about more interesting things in life, men.

Read about the Three Degrees of Glory of New York City over at Times and Seasons here
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A digression: Housing update

I have tried to strictly limit my posts to the theme of this blog, the foibles of dating. However, such things lose all importance when one is homeless. I need to vent and figure things out. So this is a boring post about the stuff I'm currently dealing with. I apologize if you wanted some juicy no-sex in the city post. This is a homeless in the city post instead.

I'm sitting in my temporary lodgings, loaned to me by a vacationing family from church. The church has really come through for me and helped me out. One member let me store all of my belongings in his empty house near JFK. He also has a friend with a studio whom he is pressuring to clean up so I can possibly move in. The Relief Society president coordinated all of that and is just itching to get me a food order from the bishop's storehouse. The clerk said the church will re-emburse me for the cost of moving. I really love the church community and all the support we give each other. For a single woman who lives 2000 miles from her family, it's tremendously comforting to have this loving group so willing to help me. And the church garden has supplied me with plenty of food for the weekend.

Having said that, I need to vent. I am exceptionally tense and couldn't sleep last night. I want to live alone with my own lease so I can have security and the peace I need to do my research and writing at home. But, I can't afford that luxury unless I go to New Jersey. I'm ok with living in New Jersey as long as it's not too inconvenient for someone without a car. Here's where I'm at with all of this.

I have found a place, but I'm very nervous about it. For shared housing, it's ideal. A beautiful 3 story brownstone in Brooklyn, I'd have my own large bedroom and the first floor is all shared space with a kitchen and living room. They don't smoke and are ok with my two cats. They are also mature women who work and aren't 21. What makes me nervous is living with 3 other women. I've had a lot of problems living with some strange people and I'm tired of it. I'm also concerned that I don't have a lease so I am left with no security. I want to live somewhere I know I can stay. Harlem is a nicer location than this particular neighborhood, although Brooklyn is more convenient for me socially since all my friends live there.

So right now, I'm exhausted from spending about 12 hours moving into storage and all other waking hours in the search for a home. But I agreed to move in with the women yesterday at our second meeting. We made plans for me to give them the deposit check this evening. I just called them and asked if I could have the weekend to think it over some more. Expectedly, they were not pleased. I said I'd let them know Monday morning, that I just wanted to sleep on it some because I've been so stressed. I don't trust myself to make the decision so quickly. Which means they will be showing the room to other people all weekend and could possibly lease the room to someone else before Monday. I could have lied and said I had problems getting the cash from the bank so I couldn't get them the deposit until Monday. But I don't want to screw them over that way so I explained the situation. So, I've given up my guarantee on that place. That makes me nervous. In fact, I might throw up fairly soon because I now feel more nervous about losing the guarantee than I did about making the commitment.

But I also called the guy from church about the studio. I don't want to live in a studio but given my situation, I have to either live in a studio or have roommates. Ok, so I've accepted that. The guy said he'll call his friend and see if the place will be ready for me to look at tomorrow. If it's big enough and I like the place then I will take it. I should also go to NJ this weekend to look at one bedrooms out there. I don't have the energy today. I had planned to spend the afternoon in NJ. My whole body is painfully tense now. I felt better before I called the girls.

Yes, I'd prefer to live alone in a real apartment in Jersey City but it'd be more expensive and I'd have to deal with the icky lease legalities. They require documents proving one has employment, recent pay stubs, W2 forms for last year, current landlord references, and since my annual salary is not 30x the monthly rent I will have to have my father co-sign as a guarantor. What that means is I'll have to provide documents from him proving he makes 45x (sometimes they want 70x) the monthly rent and bank statements and W2s from him. He lives in Miami. Oy vei. I'd also have the added inconvenience of living in NJ. Even though it's just on the other side of the river, it's like living on another planet. Typing this, I realize I can't deal with all of that. Good. So I don't have to go to NJ. I just have to see the studio tomorrow. That means I should get to the bank today and take the cash out on my credit card so I can have the deposit for the place in Brooklyn before Monday. Then I can secure the house tomorrow night if I don't like the studio.

I'm off to the bank now. Don't you wish you could live in New York City too? Life here is not like Friends. That show was ridiculously unrealistic. The girls' apartment would cost several thousand a month in rent, which they would not be able to afford. Nor could Ross afford his 1 bedroom in the village on his university salary. It was the only thing on tv after work when I worked nights at the newspaper so I watched it then and let it lull me to sleep. I'll shut up now and go to the bank.

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The Wandering Celibate

Ha ha, I'm such a loser. The lease I signed says August 14, 2004. So, the university told us we had to clear out on July 31. I couldn't find a new place by then so I decided to stay where I was since my lease still had 2 weeks on it. It's illegal for them to make us move out early and break the lease that way. (The university rented a bunch of apartments and then subleased bedrooms to students.) That's what I told the guy on Saturday when he came to inspect the apt.s to make sure everyone had left. He was not pleased. This morning, ConEd turned off the power in my apt. Now, everyone I asked about the matter told me that the school could not kick me out and could not break the lease that way. This morning I made some phone calls to housing offices in the city about the electricity. They told me to call the police. So I called the po-po this morning and told them my power was cut off when I still had 2 weeks left on my lease. But I also mentioned that there were complications with the lease, the building owner said the university didn't have to the right to give me a lease to the 14th and that I was in the building illegally. I tried to ask the police officer about this and he just said that was for housing court to work out. He sent a car to the building to make them turn my power back on.

Yay for me. Until I showed the nice officers my lease and the little clause that says the school can terminate the contract at any time and for any reason. The police said they couldn't do anything, I signed that contract so I had to get out. Eventually I'd get served with an eviction notice. Of course, that will take 30 days but they can't make them turn the electricity back on. Yikes. Personally, this looks like a shady lease and I wonder if it's legal anyway. But, I can't afford to find out So, fun fun.

The branch prez from church has said I could stay in their apt. while they are on vacation for the next two weeks. Now I have to deal with my stuff. I'm afraid to leave it in the building because they could change the locks and I'd be screwed. Does anyone know the law about this? Can they legally throw my stuff out on the street without serving me an eviction notice?

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