Thursday, September 16, 2010

new glasses, the old neighborhood, and former family...and maybe more

I have wanted new glasses forever.  I have been running around for somewhere around nine years in a pair I have grown to hate.  I'm not crazy about wearing glasses anyway, and don't wear them much indoors, since I'm just a little nearsighted.  Anyway, I got a 2-for-1 coupon from Pearle Vision and I decided to go for it, get new glasses and prescription sunglasses.  So I had an exam with an optometrist (who pronounced my eyes to be very healthy and my prescription unchanged), and picked out two frames, and chose the types of lenses.  I got kind of of-the-moment soft rectangular frames in a dark color for my regular glasses, and my sunglasses are a little larger and more square, sort of PoMo Wayfarers.  I spent $688 and saved $464.  It was pricey but a good bargain.  I could have spent $688 for just one pair.

The eyeglass store was in my old neighborhood, Brooklyn Heights.  I lived there from when I was about nine until I went to college (just shy of 17).  I also lived there for about a year, back in my parents' apartment, when I was twenty.  I don't think I really appreciated how beautiful and peaceful it was around there.  I really took it for granted.  It could easily be the nicest neighborhood in the whole city, along with parts of the West Village (though that section is much smaller than the Heights).  It's insanely expensive to live there any more, though when I was a kid, there were still reasonable rentals.  At this point, I think you'd pay around $2200 for a studio -- what Barry likes to call "tuchas gelt" (this literally means "butt money," and perhaps means something like "you'd have to have money coming out of your ass," which is pretty much how he uses it). 

I think a lot of the apartment buildings have probably gone co-op.  The last building we lived in went co-op, and my folks couldn't afford to buy it.  They borrowed enough money to make a down payment at the "inside price," and flipped it for much more.  They made $80,000.  My mother died soon after -- she had told my stepfather that she wanted to make a will, and he said, don't worry, I'll take care of the kids."  Guess who never saw a cent?  And when my stepfather died a few years later, he apparently left major insurance money to his sons, but nada for my brother and me.  It's many years since then, and there's nothing that can be done, but I was always sad that my mother was duped and my brother and I were ripped off.  We had gently approached the stepbrothers after their father died (one of them had just bought a co-op and one a new car, so they most have gotten tons of insurance), and said that we realized we were not legally entitled to anything, but we felt that we had a certain moral entitlement to something that might remain.  According to them, in the three years after my mother died, he had spent all of the 80K except for $1200 that remained in an estate account.  They agreed that we could split that, except that there was one medical bill still pending, which would have to be paid out of the fund if insurance didn't cover it, and they were waiting on the insurance company.  I believe they fronted my brother a few hundred dollars before the insurance claim was settled, but no more than that, and I never saw a dime.  And I haven't seen or heard from either stepbrother in almost 30 years.  Unlike certain people with whom I hope to eventually reconcile, I don't really want to know either of them.  The inheritance thing was only the last in a series of slights and nasty behavior.  (And for the record, my mother was wonderful to them, and they and any friends were welcome to show up for dinner any night -- the two of them even had keys to our apartment.) 

On another topic entirely:  there's a commercial on TV, I think it's local, for a lawyer named Roni Deutsch  who specializes in IRS problems.  She appears on her commercials and talks in a loud and abrasive way.  She yells, "Is the IRS calling you and asking for money?!  Do you owe thousands of dollars?!  Want to get the IRS off your back?!" and so on.  When she tells of the terrible things the IRS can do to you, like put a lien on your house, one of the terrible consequences she lists is "attack your paycheck."  The first time I saw this, I figured she misspoke. but when titles flashed on the screen with her list, it said "attack your paycheck."  Now I've had the IRS do just that to me, so I'm pretty sure, positive in fact, that the expression is "attach your paycheck," not "attack."  I'm guessing that *someone* associated with the making of this commercial noticed it, but was afraid Roni Deutsch would yell at them for correcting her.  I have to hope that not everyone on that shoot was too stupid to know that.  And you have to wonder about ol' you really want a tax attorney who doesn't know the proper expression for when the IRS takes money out of your pay?  If *I* know that, she sure as hell ought to.

I also saw an infomercial recently -- I wish I could remember what it was for.  They showed it twice in a row.  The first time, the voiceover was done by Gilbert Gottfriend (talk about a loud and abrasive manner of speech!), and the second time, it was done by a woman who probably had a normal voice, though it seemed really soft after Gilbert.  Infomercials seem a little lost now that Billy Mays is gone.  Say what you want about Billy, but he was absolutely the best at what he did.  I'm kind of fascinated by infomercials.  I was flipping through a bunch late the other night, and came upon a local one for what seemed to be a voodoo church with several locations in the city.  They were talking Christian stuff, but also doing things like blessing glasses of water and driving evil out of someone by getting the persons shirt and twisting it, I guess to wring out the evil.  Also, the two guys were Haitian, which is why my first thought was that it was voodoo-ish. 

I met a really nice young man recently, although I'm reluctant to say how we met on this blog.  (Especially when job-hunting, I'm very aware of anything I post here or on Face-ity Book-ity.  So let's say that it involves an herbal remedy which is legal in some states but not (yet) in this one.  We had been getting some that was very ordinary, and had visited someone recently who had something amazing, which they get delivered.  I had heard about these delivery services, and that people usually learned about them by word of mouth, but the person who had it was a friend of a friend, so we didn't really feel we could ask to be put in touch.

I remembered hearing that a certain online bulletin board thingie had coded listings for these services, and had looked at them once or twice -- you find them by searching for a certain three-digit number which is generally associated with this remedy.  So we decided to give it a shot, and responded to a few ads; they generally ask you to e-mail your phone number.  One in Brooklyn responded, but wouldn't deliver to our part of Brooklyn (and his was two far to get to), but I realized he didn't advertise a premium product anyway.  A couple didn't call back, but one finally did, and he couldn't deliver but said that I could meet him in Manhattan, so we made arrangements.  (Barry was a little shy of being involved in this so I pretty much took the lead.  Both parties take something of a risk in this kind of thing, but it's fairly equal.) 

So the dude who met me is my new pal.  Our minimal size transaction went swimmingly, so we've now done two more of a larger size.  What he has is extremely great, the kind of thing that has names, of a superior quality.  And the guy is really sweet.  We've been meeting in a little deli, and the first two times, he asked if I wanted to get something to eat, and I begged off both times, mostly because it's a substantial trip back and forth. 

But I realized that he was being friendly, which I just didn't expect from a guy maybe in his late twenties.  Guys in their late twenties generally look at me and see old and fat -- actually, my face looks pretty young, but my hair is gray.  I'm not bad-looking but I'm certainly not thin.  Guys in their twenties look through me.  And men in New York are incredibly looksist in general -- men in their thirties and forties looked through me when I was thirty or thirty-five, because I was not thin and not tall and not bosomy (though my hair was dyed).  Outside of New York City, I am often the belle of the ball, especially among old hippie types.

Anyway, when I made my latest transaction, I sat down and had a coffee with this guy.  We talked about the usual New York junk, various neighborhoods and real estate, subways and buildings (he lives near an area where I once lived), my job hunt and his pending divorce and his kids.  We also talked a bit about Coney Island, and he'd never heard of the Mermaid Parade, and I told him about it and said I'd send some pictures.  He was a very nice guy to talk to and I was glad I'd stayed.

So I e-mailed him a link to some Coney Island stuff, and he sent back an e-mail thanking me, and all of this kind of love-and-peace stuff.  Thank God there are still young hippies.  And I guess it's nice to know each other a little, since I'll probably continue to see him now and again.  It makes me a little sad when younger people act as if or think that I'm irrelevant, since I don't think of myself as old to the point of being out of touch.  In fact, I still feel pretty young between my ears, which I guess is not uncommon.  My body's certainly older, but my mind is pretty fresh.  I think.

I still have not heard from the collectibles place, but I've kind of decided that this is what I'd like to do, regardless.  I've taught myself about a lot of these things, mostly on-line.  I know advertising collectibles fairly well, especially early-mid 20th century, and especially soda collectibles.  I know banana stickers and roller rink stickers. I know a lot about certain 1950s modern china.  I like modern a lot, fifties and sixties.  And I love old restaurant china.  I know a fair amount of entertainment memorabilia and also sports memorabilia.  But I think I need to know more about jewelry and watches, which is a bread-and-butter area.  And even some costume jewelry, and Mexican silver jewelry, which I adore.  And certain types of vases and other ceramics.  My specialty(ies) will eventually make themselves clear.

I guess the idea is to start buying items from flea markets and selling them online for a profit, and maybe eventually have my own online or even brick-and-mortar store.  I can't even imagine how much I would love doing this for a living.  I'm realizing that I know a lot more than I knew I knew, and that it's one of the things that I most enjoy.

I recently bought a used copy of Kalki, which I adored when I was young.  Also the second Stieg Larsson, and a Marge Piercy I haven't read.  Yay for buying used books at Amazon!

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