q. i. f.?

work & play

It’s been kind of tough for me in New York since coming here in December, a rough introduction (owing in part, but only in part, to unrelenting ‘polar vortex’ winter) to living and working in this city of cities. And I don’t love it here to begin with; didn’t come here in pursuit of any New York dream; have a hard time, really, understanding why so many see this ‘here’ as a destination of choice. My failure to be attracted to the great metropolis is something I guess I’ll have more to say about in time. At the moment, though, I’ve got to share a sort of ‘New York, new normal’ incident that I’d have to be a pretty hard case not to get a kick out of or feel some gratitude for, three months in.

wait, there’s more.

Writing this from the New York subway — leaning against one of those ugly painted steel columns on the boarding platform at the moment. In a few minutes I’ll be getting on the G to return from my new employer’s office in Brooklyn to the room I’m renting in Queens, which takes an hour, give or take, depending on how you do it and whether the trains are on schedule.

wait, there’s more.

Last night I arrived in New York City not for a few days’ visit, as on other trips up to see Susannah over the last two years, but to stay. I start work at Build With Prospect, a worker-coop design/build firm in Brooklyn, on Monday. Performance-oriented builders being rare animals and small-business building companies that are also worker co-ops being rarer still, there’s a good deal more to be said about this employment move. But that’ll wait; that’s really ‘Work Notes 2015,’ and I haven’t covered 2014 yet. The thing to be remarked on here is becoming a New Yorker. I don’t have much to say about it, though. I haven’t got my head around it in the least. Not sure I entirely believe it’s under way, let alone that I should know what it means. Lord knows I never looked at New York as a site of arrival until very recently. I’d never even visited the city until two years ago (almost exactly, this weekend) when I came up to meet Susannah for the first time, though I’ve lived a short few hours’ drive from all this all my life.

Anyway, here I am.

I’ve achieved, or suffered — a question of interpretation, there —, a nice diversity in work taken on this year. This will be the year that stands for the failure of the several previous years’ efforts to channel myself in a single field by jumping aboard the old new green economy. Or the apparent failure of those efforts, let’s say. I don’t think it amounts to failure entirely.

For the present post, I’m going to keep things easy and look back at a project from spring. Last year, I helped a friend with one of his air-sealing & insulation jobs on a house outside Washington, D.C.; I was there to cut the access holes where his crew went into attic spaces to work, and to patch up the holes with dry­wall afterward. While we were there for that job, the owner asked about hav­ing a closet built into one of the attic spaces we were accessing. So I went back in spring and did that. It was a nice little project with a bunch of parts — sort of a micro-remodel. And a real functional improvement to the home to boot. In a hun­dred-year-old house, too! Call me crazy, but I like old-house work.

wait, there’s more.

I did something unusual this past weekend — unusual for me, that is: I went away for the holiday weekend. A thoroughly conventional getaway, something my adult life’s mostly been without. The place was a lake-side property owned by my girlfriend’s family; it’s where they go during the summers to relax and catch up with each other. On this Labor-Day occasion, I got invited along. It was lovely.

wait, there’s more.

A friend completing ancient-Near-East PhD work contacted me from the other side of the world a few weeks ago. It led to something I haven’t done in years, an illustration job. She didn’t ask me to do the illustration, actually. She wanted to know if I could help find somebody to do it — which interested me, but not as much, as I thought about it, as the possibility of doing it myself. Either was going to take time, anyhow.

wait, there’s more.

In a post of almost two years ago, I write that I am ‘happy to report that the working life is gradually becoming less problematic.’ Ah, ha ha, spoke there perhaps a little too soon! The ‘great little company’ I announce getting in with weren’t headed where I expected and didn’t find me a fit for their requirements after all, for one thing. And the road since has been anything but smooth.

wait, there’s more.

Drawing remains irregular as ever, but here’s some head-neck-torso practice from the last couple of days to show the itch is still with me.

It goes without saying that there’s a lot of nudity to work with on the web. For this kind of exercise, though, p––n’s mostly unsuitable, in my judgment. Yoga sites (and ‘yoga’ sites, too, sometimes) turn out to be good sources, though.

It may be time to admit publicly that I’ve gotten around only in the past year or so to acquainting myself with Mike Mignola‘s B.P.R.D. stories — long, long after they achieved cult fandom and critical success and spawned a couple of crappy muppet movies. Mignola’s characters are kind of irresistible for me. This in spite of my lack of feeling since childhood — distaste, really — for the macabre and for monster stories of all kinds, and in spite of their thinness (not as comic book characters go, but as fictional characters I’m generally attracted to go).

wait, there’s more.

I like to think of this blog as sort of an indefinitely structured exercise about reading. It’s not a writer’s blog, certainly, nor on the other hand a non-writer’s journal of projects or happenings or what have you, certainly. Its persistence as a ‘blog’ would be a little hard to defend to myself if I thought about it much. But I don’t. I like having it and like the thought of things I might sooner or later do with, or in conjunction with, it. I like the blogosphere (even if lately I spend little enough time trawling it, even at the favored friendly spots), moreover. For this blog, if blog it be, the handful of likes is easily justification enough.

Although it isn’t decently a journal of any kind, often I’m of a mind to make mention here of things I’m working on — or rather, say, of my working life, with all its missteps and productive fragments & entanglements, broadly. It does occur to me sometimes that if I were keeping some record of ongoing thoughts about working life here, drawing the fragments together over time might seem a less elusive thing. If I were really on top of it, too, I’d make connections between the work efforts and that expansive idea of reading I cherish. Of course, trying actually to maintain such a problematic working life and taking time to blog at all are inherently at odds to some degree.

At any rate, I’m happy to report that the working life is gradually becoming less problematic. I’ve been cultivating a long time, with classes of one kind & another and a lot of awkward networking, an escape from self-employed please-don’t-call-me-a-handyman, and it looks finally like harvest. I find myself in the door with a great little company and a chance to make skills begun with two years ago (and tentatively put to use in 2009) really a practical centerpiece of my pursuits. Happily, it’s a company formed by smart young people with frugal & somewhat experimental entrepreneurial sensibilities, and their low-fuss way of doing business gives me some room to develop a fit with them on individual terms and keep other relationships in the picture at the same time. That means, for instance, that I can continue to be involved with a city not-for-profit I’ve been doing some limited work with since early summer. (The latter group still lacks a web site. It’s one of the things I’ve been working with them on.)

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