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It’s like a bolero

December 12, 2011

In the week since I’ve been here, Christmas has arrived in New York. Last time I was here there were a few lights here and there and a tree lot on 8th Avenue in Brooklyn. Now there are trees and lights in many windows, greenery along fence rails and stoops. There’s a new tree lot around the corner from my apartment, just up from the bodega. When I walked by the French restaurant on the corner, people were hugging each other and getting into cabs out front and wishing each other a Merry Christmas. Meanwhile, on 14th street, people were lighting cigarettes for strangers and handing out sandwiches in front of the Salvation Army. The guy who sleeps in the doorway had a Santa hat pulled down over his eyes. As I dodged him, I nearly ran into a gay couple dressed in velvet and holding hands who stopped dead in front of me to stare through the window of a sports bar at a television and argue about whether the play they’d just seen was a safety.

The building where I’m staying exhibits no signs of any impending holiday, not on the stoop, not on the front door, not in the lobby or the elevator or the front doors of the apartments. I can’t even see any lights from my window. All is the same as ever, except the heat is on, which means that every now and then it sounds like someone is sitting in the corner of the bedroom shooting a bb gun at an upturned bucket. And also, the heating poles are red hot, which means some careful choreography in the bathroom. I had never heard of heating poles before. Are they a New York thing? None of my radiator-heated apartments in Boston or Chicago had heating poles. But here there are both poles and radiators. The poles get hot whether you want them to or not. In theory, you can turn the radiators on and off, but it doesn’t always seem to work. In the end, you are at the mercy of your building, which starts to feel like a living, breathing thing in the winter time. I think this building is a wheezy old man. He means well, but he suffers from lumbago and corns and he isn’t getting any younger, you know.

I took a cab from the airport to Brooklyn to visit Cranky and Baby J, passing, on my way to my apartment, a Dunder Mifflin truck, which kind of made my day. Cranky made a delicious dinner and poured some delicious wine and Baby J was immensely entertaining as usual. For the first time, I’d been a little bit dreading coming in this week, not because I didn’t want to be here, but because this work week is going to be brutal. This is the end of a month long crunch that has meant I’ve only had two whole days off work since before Thanksgiving. Yes, I’m including weekends in that count. This week, we put the project to bed, which is both thrilling and terrifying. There will not be much sleeping this week.

After dropping my luggage in the apartment, I stopped into the local bodega to pick up some milk for breakfast and on my way out noticed a small calico cat curled up inside an empty Duraflame log box. I made note of it for AJ, who is in love with this video:

Sadly, I didn’t have my phone with me to capture this particular bodega cat on film.

And now, it’s time to make the doughnuts.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 12, 2011 7:37 am

    The only place I’ve ever seen heating poles is at a local greenhouse where we used to get our Christmas trees. It has since closed.

  2. December 12, 2011 9:14 am

    Go to Home Depot (there’s one on Third Ave in the 50s) and get pipe insulation before you burn yourself. They’re paper-covered fiberglass tubes, three feet long. You’ll need to measure the pipes as they come in different circumferences. I use two per pipe, leaving a few inches of pipe uncovered at the top to allow some heat out. Good luck….

  3. December 13, 2011 12:36 am

    I’ve never heard of heating poles. Interesting concept. And I love bodega cats. That’s something I miss, living on the west coast.

  4. drgeek permalink
    December 17, 2011 12:46 am

    My wife, being where she is from, did not understand the meaning of “it’s time to make the doughnuts”. I had to explain it to her… it took some effort.

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