Now that Thanksgiving is solidly behind us, most normal people can now contemplate getting in the mood for the next major holiday on the calendar.
And for many of us here in the Upper Left-Hand, particularly those with some sort of theatrical predilection, that means at some point attending a performance of The Dina Martina Christmas Show.
I've waxed - well, poetic doesn't seem like quite the right description - let's just say, I've mentioned Dina in the past, so long-time readers (all six of you) already know the score. But for the uninitiated, think of the most horrible, awesome, hilarious train-wreck combination of late vintage Judy Garland, Tammy Fae Baker, and Joan Rivers, with a generous dollop of Courtney Love, a bad drag show and the scariest clown you've ever seen, and you only begin to develop an approximate image of the sheer want-to-close-your-eyes-but-don't-want-to-miss-the-fiery-collision that is Dina.
Aside from the rampant malapropisms (Christmas gifts, when expressed by Ms. Martina become "Chreeshmesh Jifts" for example), wardrobe malfunctions of apocalyptic proportion, and inappropriate holiday song melodies that only your butcher could love, Dina's shows always include a little holiday hand-out. I've been going to these shows for about six or seven years now, and generally expect she'll single out some relatively nondescript person in the audience upon which to shower her largess. Today however, perhaps owing to the large contingent of local theatre folk in attendance, when she asked if anyone wanted some "jifts" and my hand went up, she picked me. It might also have had something to do with the fact I was sitting in the second row on an aisle, which meant I could get to the stage pretty quickly - whatever.
Below, you see some of my swag, which consisted of (from Left to Right): A package of Gummy Maggots, a package of Sour Cream & Onion flavored Crickets (they were crunchy, but not very flavorful), and the "pasty resistance", a coveted (no kidding) container of Cheetos Cheese Flavored Lip Balm (not shown: a five-pak of "Saved By The Bell - The College Years" bubblegum trading cards).
And that big, bloody looking smear on my forehead would be the remains of a wet one planted on my noggin by Ms. Martina herself - I'll probably need a Scotch-brite pad to scrub it off.
Walking back-and-forth to work these past couple of weeks has been an interesting experience. While on the one hand I'm traversing very familiar territory, on the other, the simple process of moving myself from Point A to Point B each morning and back again each evening has started to give me a little bit more of a solid connection to the neighborhood in which I spend most of my time.
Typically this time of year, the weather has ranged from bright-and-sunny and very chilly, all the way to rain blowing sideways in sheets - and very chilly. Having lived in this part of the country my entire life this isn't really a big deal; I've got enough foul weather gear to handle a trans-oceanic voyage, and I recently purchased a very cheap pair of velcro-strapped walking shoes, simply for the convenience of having something that is: comfortable, stays dry, and is easy to slip on-and-off once I get to work, where I keep two pair of "regular shoes" stashed beneath my desk. So, regardless of the weather conditions walking the route between my apartment and my office is relatively easy and doesn't result in my arriving at either terminus looking - and feeling - like a drowned rat.
I've tried to vary my route ever so slightly each trip, just to give myself some variety, as well as to get a little better sense of what sorts of things are around me that, in more than 5 years living in the same place, I perhaps have overlooked. I'm trying to be more observant, more aware of my surroundings, taking note of what's there, and more importantly what sorts of things are absent.
Seeing as my path takes me from the edge of the Central District (traditionally, the center of Seattle's African American Community) up over the back side of what used to be known as "Second Hill" ( a description that's long been in disuse), down into the heart of the Pike-Pine Corridor (a sub-district of the surrounding Capitol Hill neighborhood), generally past the Theatre, across Broadway, the major north-south corridor through this part of town, and finally the short descent down the front side of the Hill to where my office is located, just east of I-5 (Important Assimilation Tip: Washingtonians NEVER preface this with "the" as in "the I-5" or "the 5" - that's how we spot the Californians in our midst).
Of course there's the usual things I pass by nearly every day: the Ethiopian restaurant on my corner, the partially abandoned gas station, the bike store and yoga studio and coffee shop right across the street; the Lamborghini/Mazerati dealer; the police precinct, the soccer field, community college, etc., etc. But, if I veer off just a block or so at any point I find myself turning unfamiliar corners, or noticing an establishment that I didn't realize existed until just then: the wrought iron foundry, the hydrolics repair shop, the print bindery, the chiropractor, the auto detailer - dozens of small businesses quietly plying their trades in the back alleys and off-the-main thoroughfares where most of us seldom venture, or just completely overlook when we do.
There are a few places I wish I would discover: a really good deli/butcher shop, a full-service bakery (as opposed to, say, cupcake bakeries which seem to be sprouting up around town like mushrooms in a rain forest), a tailor's shop, a decent Chinese restaurant (Thai, Japanese/Sushi & Vietnamese we got plenty of already), a small electronics repair shop, a 24-hour diner (or at least one that serves after 10:00 p.m.), a greeting card store - just a handful of specialty businesses to round things out.
Maybe that's a little old-fashioned of me, but the whole idea of having the place where you live and work being within walking distance of each other seems like rather an old-fashioned idea that might be coming somewhat back into fashion - or at least seems like an idea that SHOULD come back into fashion.
No, no I haven't dropped off the face of the planet, despite what the near dearth of recent posting might indicate; I've just been really, really busy.
We've settled in to the new office space, but there's still plenty of work to be done to get the finishing touches in place, and I find inordinate amounts of my work day occupied with drilling holes in walls and ceilings, inserting anchor bolts & screws and hanging things (curtain tracks, roll-up blinds, brochure holders, coffee mug hooks, et al) to them; rearranging the contents of file cabinets, labeling key sets - all manner of activities that aren't directly related to my actual job description.
In short, on top of being the Membership Director, Office Manager and Bookkeeper, I've now also become the office handyman, due in part no doubt to the fact that I own a set of battery-operated power tools and have competency in using them.
On top of all of this, I've been spending a lot of my so-called "free time" (i.e. weekends and evenings) the past couple of weeks babysitting workshops, auditions and rehearsals utilizing our resource room - as I sit here there's a rehearsal going on down the hall for the Theatre; on Sunday it was a five hour camera acting workshop.
Part of our build-out for the space was supposed to include creating a security barrier between our office proper and the resource room, kitchen and restrooms precisely so that this sort of on-site supervision wouldn't be necessary. But, there's still a gaping hole in the hallway above the security door and until that's sealed up, I just don't feel comfortable leaving the space unattended, even when the people using it are trusted friends and colleagues. The maintenance guy from our old office was supposed to have come in on Friday to take some measurements for the framing of the sealing partition, but in typical fashion he never showed up. At this point I'll probably have to spend yet another weekend afternoon putting something in place myself if I plan on having anything resembling a personal life between now and Christmas.
Well, needless to say I survived last week. Despite the numerous rocks thrown in my path the office did get moved, the data and phone networks were eventually brought online and the unpacking is nearly completed. There will be plenty of finishing touches to complete, but these can be done at a relatively leisurely pace. But, at this point in time My office is basically set up with only a couple of boxes awaiting some sort of bookcase/shelving to come in before being unloaded. As I type, my boss is trying to assemble his Ikea window blinds (his office windows front right onto a sidewalk and he's becoming a bit bored already with feeling like an animal on exhibit at the zoo). The only pieces we're waiting on to complete the major load-in are our conference table, which will arrive Monday, and a buffet sideboard for our conference room, which is on back-order and may not ship until after the first of the year. Otherwise, we're more-or-less back to business as usual.
And I've walked to and from work three out of four days so far this week. Unfortunately, I also seem to have hit a bit of a plateau, and am struggling to get below 200 lbs. I'm holding steady, but haven't dropped any weight for the past few days.
The fundraiser went remarkably well; not as many in attendance as would have been my preference, but the staff was overjoyed, and despite the somewhat (IMO) middling turnout a good time was had by all. I've probably already mentioned it a thousand times, but one more won't hurt: my undying gratitude to everyone - performers, volunteers, artists, contributors - for helping to make it a success. I learned a lot in the process, and should be able to do an even better job of it next year - just have to figure out when to do it, since Halloween falls on a Sunday in 2010.
We Got To Move These Refrigerators, We Got To Move These Color TV's
It appears I made it to 49 after all. The way this past week started out, I wasn't exactly full of confidence I'd survive in good enough shape to be more than a blubbery pile of goo on the floor by now, but despite the set backs, the delays, all the things that were supposed to go one way, but insisted on going the other, here I am.
The second team of movers proved more than equal to the task, even despite the fact that our massive main reception desk initially couldn't be maneuvered out of the old office. But, removal of a few drop-ceiling panels and brackets gave us enough clearance to just squeeze it out.
And the guy who did our data line wiring just happened to be available for a brief window and was able to come in and rewire the entire phone system on Thursday, plus fix a couple of boo-boos (totally my fault) that were overlooked during his first installation.
So, once again, just about everything came down to the absolute wire. But, the good news is the phone system was up and running on Friday morning, we sussed out our data network and all the various and sundry machines are happily beeping and booping with each other and - most importantly - with the outside world. The only negatives at this point are one network jack that seems to be on-the-fritz, and the fact that my boss picked up a virus on his laptop most likely due to the temporary jury-rigged Internet connection we set up earlier in the week (we ganged my co-worker's Clear Wire modem to my wireless router, but had to leave everything open and unsecured, because nobody else could get my WEP access code to work - the techno-geeks among you know what I'm talkin' 'bout).
Friday morning I rented a small storage locker and in the afternoon picked up a rental van, and we all schlepped over to the old office to clean out the last of the odds-and-ends, hauled it all back to the new office, emptied the truck, then filled it with about 60 bankers boxes full of old documents we don't need on-site, but aren't allowed to throw away, and my boss and I then took them over to the storage facility and loaded them in. Even though I rented the smallest space they had available, we still only managed to fill it to about one-third capacity, which means we can still get to things in the highly unlikely event we ever need to access anything.
The final bit of business was to contract with someone to clean out the detritus still left at the old space and haul it off to the dump/recylers. There's a company in the same building that does this, but their estimate was IMO somewhat excessive, so I contacted the building maintenance man (the same guy who drove me to distraction on the kitchen counter project), and he underbid by about $200. Plus, he would have had to check us out of the space anyway, so this way we don't have to worry about that part of things either. He came by around 5:00 p.m., we handed him a check and all the keys and access cards for the old building and parking garage, and so the moving part is now officially done.
There's still a huge amount of work to do: lots of re-arranging, moving things into place, getting rid of packaging, along with general clean-up and a final move in of a couple of items, most notably our conference table which is in the process of having its surface refinished. But that will happen next week - or beyond.
I finally managed to attack my new office on Friday, and even in the short amount of time I was able to devote to it, got it into workable shape; now it's just a matter of dealing with the finishing touches, and turning the place into our new home. We have about a month before our annual Holiday Party, which should be plenty of time.
So, tomorrow it'll be back to a somewhat normal routine, plus playing catch-up on the rather modest backlog of things that didn't get dealt with last week. It's just good to have it all over and done with - the scope of this project turned out to be akin to the massive build-out at the Theatre I managed in the spring of 2008; just as nerve-wracking, frustrating, but ultimately satisfying in its completion.
Now, all I have to do today is whip together a ginormous fundraiser for tonight.