Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sabbaticalling: Weekly Roundup #17

I like organizing things. A house. A shelf. A shopping list. Anything, really. I suppose it's the Virgo in me. So spending this past week mostly at my parents' house to help out post-emergency-mom-appendectomy brought me great joy. I organized schedules. I organized drawers. I organized files. I organized mail. Lots of organizing. Lots of joy.

What does this have to do with sabbaticalling? On the surface, nothing. But really....

Once I went back to Liberating The Astronauts for a moment, I realized, hey, this thing is not done. As I'd suspected. I plucked out lots of the poems and created a chapbook that I immediately submitted to Two of Cups. Then I tweeted about revamping the collection. Now I know what must be done to have a full collection--I must liberate it from what's weighing it down. I'm going more spacey. Like astro space stuff. It'll be grand.

Also, I organized submissions, rejections, and new places where I'll be submitting. See? More organization. While doing so, I drafted my Poetry Has Value piece for April, which I'll finish tomorrow and submit asap.

I blogged after going to trivia. I blogged a love letter to Home Depot. Here, "love" means "exasperated." I'm blogging right now. Mind blown, yet?

I finished reading a novel and two poetry collections along with some online journal reading. I don't think I'll be getting books from the library right now. I want to finish up some collection I have at home, and I still haven't gone to Poets House. I've been trying to go since February. Maybe this week it'll actually become a reality since I'm heading to the Morgan Library to see the Warhol exhibit on Friday anyway. Maybe I'll make a day of it. Maybe.

I got one acceptance this week, which was a huge happy dance moment. April has been a month of rejections, so getting an acceptance at the buzzer turned it all around.

Finally, last night I went with Eddie to Lightscapes. More on that at another time, but for now, I saw some fairies all lit up and when I revisit our photos, I'm hoping a few more poems will come out of them for my critters and creatures project.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hey, Home Depot! Yeah, It's Me Again.

An open letter to Home Depot as sent through their Contact Us email system on their website after they haven't responded to a previous email sent the same way and also didn't respond to a different email address I was told to use after still  not sending me the right replacement part and I've had a half-put-together media console/fireplace in my living room for about a month.

Hi, this is the second time I'm emailing through this site. I never received an answer with my first email, nor did I received an answer when I emailed as directed by your Twitter account. I have been having problems with my order (W473238940) from March 26 for Home Decorators Rinehart 59 inch Media Console with a fireplace in Medium Brown (Model WSFP59ECHD-1). The product had two broken pieces when it arrived. The bottom piece was cracked, but only superficially on the back, so we dealt with it. The other piece, H, is cracked, broken, and unusable. In putting the unit together, we realized it is much darker than the product photo shows (I have a side-by-side photo if needed). Seeing that we could not send a half-put-together unit back, we decided to deal with that, too.

On 4/11, I spoke to Isaiah who efficiently took down my information, contacted the warehouse, and promised to have a replacement piece sent in 3-5 business days. I double checked that it would be medium brown. He confirmed. I received the piece in 5 business days (7 days total over a weekend). The piece was even darker than the unit I have.

On 4/18, I spoke to a different customer service rep. She put me on hold for a long time as she tried to contact the warehouse. She said no one was answering, but she would place the order for a new part, indicating that someone mixed up the colors. She said she would put a rush on delivery for me, and someone would call me in two days to let me know the order was placed. No one called.

I called on 4/20 and was on hold for 30 minutes without anyone answering, so I hung up.

I called on 4/22 and spoke to Koya, who apologized that no one called, but said my order was put through on 4/18. She said the new part would take 5 - 10 days to arrive. I asked about the rush delivery the previous rep offered. She said that was not in the system, but I should receive the piece by Tuesday 4/26.

It is now 4/27. I do not have the part. I  have a partially put-together console in the wrong color in my living room and the top part of it in my bedroom. This is completely unacceptable, and I am incredibly disappointed that no one is helping me.

At this point, I want to simply send it back and get a refund. I would need packing materials and boxes sent to me, and a pick up. I expect that the return will be free of charge after this unprofessional experience. How can I go about doing that? I hope that I receive an answer this time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Years of Seinfeld Watching Put To Good Use

Different pipes go to different places.

Elaine and Suzy...Suzy and Elaine.

Get out!

I'm a sucker for a good Elaine catch-phrase. I'm also a sucker for trivia. Sip This hosted Seinfeld trivia, so I did what I do best--I put the team together. In this case, I was also able to contribute. Kind of.

I used to watch Seinfeld every day, a few episodes at a time, first in the early evening and then late at night. It's always on. I haven't watched like that in quite some time, but my brother has. And so has his friend. So that was the team: me and the two experts. See? I have a gift for team building.

With the very first question, my brother's friend was already writing an answer before the question was finished. With every answer, I was laughing hysterically. Seinfeld is probably the most cleverly-written show, and trivia was like reliving it.

Unlike trivia nights of the past, this night flew by. It was so quick and everyone was so into it and there was not a lot of, hey wait a minute that's wrong because bloop bleep blop dee blurp. Instead, it was more like an episode of Seinfeld--lots of people knowing a lot of things about nothing that really matters. In other words, it was awesome.

The part the tripped us up the most was the Name That Date portion. Not date as in month, day, year, but date as in the person one of the four main characters dated. Side note: there was a question about an exact date--the last time Jerry threw up--and my brother knew it. He also knew Jerry's exact address. Anyway, you know what I studied the most? The names of all the girlfriends and boyfriends. YET we still had trouble because there were even more of them that I didn't know about. Some were there, though--Todd Gack (what a fantastic name!), Jake Jarmel!!!, Rachel (of the Schindler's List/shrinkage episodes).

Yes, I had a study sheet. Let's move on.

So with my brother knowing all those minute details and his friend knowing every single plot, I was there for backup, knowing the general and obvious things anyone who watches should know, and for knowing that Jerry compared breaking up to trying to push over a vending machine. Yeah, that's right.

And....we tied for second! Which really was third because there was also a tie for first. Plus, we think we earned (in our hearts) a half point for saying Sex with Puddy instead of Puddy's Move when Elaine described something like a big budget movie that goes nowhere. See? Half point!

We still wouldn't have been first. We got very close though. Very very close. Between the almost winning and the jasmine green tea, trivia is becoming my favorite part of the month. It can stay that way by making me win. Or I can just take over trivia altogether. If I'm in charge, I can't win, but I also can't lose, which makes it a win-win situation in some sort of weird way. Aha! Victory!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sabbaticalling: Weekly Roundup #16

This week was much like other weeks--reading, writing, seeing, doing.

Also, I taught a workshop on Monday that was for children and then was opened up to adults. A grand affirmation that I chose the right career in teaching college and not the younger crowd. I mean, they were nice and all, but I just don't get them. Them meaning kids.

On Tuesday, I participated in a reading in honor of a library trustee at the Bryant Library. The night was filled with poetry and music. Very sweet.

Thursday was all about Connecticut. I drove up with my artist-workshop-friend to participate in Confluencia along with three other features. It was the best reading I've ever done. The other poets and I had a vibe like I've never had with other writers before, and we had just met. Truly a magical experience.

The end of the week up until now has been overtaken by adult-onset-appendicitis. Who gets appendicitis without classic symptoms well past the age of when people usually get appendicitis? My mom. And so, I've been really focusing on that, which is why this is so quick. Sabbatical is a good thing for many reasons. Not having to find people to sub for classes eliminated what would have been a huge added burden.

I'm guessing next week will be similar with the reading and writing but not with the varied events. National Poetry Month has been exhilarating and exhausting, and now I have a bigger reason to stay closer to home.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Fireplace Dreams Dashed

Fireplaces cause higher home owner's insurance. I never knew this until we got home owner's insurance and they asked if our new home had a fireplace. That makes sense, though. A fireplace offers a higher risk of burning your own house down. However, an electric fireplace does not (well, I suppose there could be an electrical fire, but that's not where I'm going with this).

I got a little obsessed with getting a media stand that includes a fireplace. Our living room tends to get chilly and our tv currently rests on a hope chest that I can't use for storage because, as aforementioned, the television stands on top of it. With one unit, I could have it all.

We found one at the Home Depot, the Home Decorator's Collection. It comes in two colors: medium brown and espresso. The espresso was available. The medium brown was not. I wanted the medium brown. So I put my email on the list that would alert me if it ever came back into stock.

I waited.

A few weeks later, I got an alert. It was in stock. I ordered it on the spot. I jumped for joy.

A little over a week later, I opened the side door to my house to find a huge box standing in front of it. It had tape around it that said Caution: Over 70 Lbs.

"Hon, there's a box, it's large....."
I texted Eddie to ask for advice--how do I get the very heavy box into the house? I tipped it over and got it stuck on the door saddle so I couldn't push it. His answer: A hammer. The two of us would make a stellar home improvement show. The hammer worked; I was able to use the claw to drag it over the hump. I pushed it into the house. Our fireplace had arrived!

We hemmed and hawed about putting it together. Would we be able to? Our putting-things-together skills are not at the expert level. I've put lots of things together, but nothing that had this many parts. We read the instructions and one step called for wood glue. We don't own wood glue. We got wood glue. Then we found that it comes with wood glue. After finding the glue, we figured we could put it together.

We took out all the pieces, putting them across the living room on blankets and sheets. There was Styrofoam everywhere. Styrofoam sheds. I vacuumed all the pieces. In vacuuming, we found that the bottom piece had a crack in the surface.
There was no way we were going to be able to get that back in the box to send it back. I realized the crack was superficial and in the back. We could live with it. Super!

We went through the rest of the pieces. We found a broken and cracked piece. This was not superficial. It was a piece that attaches the top shelf where the tv sits to the rest of the unit on one side. We would definitely need this piece. BUT we could put the rest together right then and I could call the next day and tell them about the broken piece.

Then I realized something. In pieces, I didn't notice. However, as I started to see it growing as a whole unit, I noticed. The color. This was medium brown? Umm, no. It was not. It was dark brown. It did not match.
Darker than the original picture
Not convinced? How about a side-by-side?
Light on the left. Dark on the right.
Seeing that there was again no way we could get the parts back in the boxes, we continued with my being dismayed. I figured I could stain the bookshelf in the living room to match this dark brown so that we would have only two shades of wood in the room. Ugh.

We put the unit together up to the broken piece. Then we put the top shelf pieces together. So we have the large unit and the back pieces pushed up against one side of the living room in front of a cabinet, and we have the top pieces on the floor in the bedroom. Maybe we should do a home design show instead.

I tweeted the above picture at Home Depot asking if the colors matched. They responded:
Figuring they were giving me helpful instructions, I did so immediately. I have yet to hear back from them.

I called the number on the assembly manual the next day. The customer service rep was fantastic. He took all the info--the model number, my contact info, when I'd ordered it, everything else he needed. He called the warehouse for me. He told me it was shipping out that day and that I'd have it in 3 to 5 business days. That meant in 3-5 business days, I'd have my fireplace. Yeay! Back on track.

I asked him if I had to send the broken piece back. No, he said, I could throw it out. I then double-checked--the unit comes in two colors and the color I have (supposedly) is the medium brown. He said that the color coincides with the model number I'd given him. Then to reassure me, he read back the number and the entire name of the product: Rinehart 59 inch Media Console Infrared Electric Fireplace in Medium Brown. Yes, that's it.

The piece arrived in five business days, which meant seven total days because there was the weekend. Happy to hear the FedEx guy at the door, I jumped up, grabbed the box, and tore it open.

If I had a working fireplace, like a real one, I would've thrown the piece directly into the fire because it was the wrong color. Seeing that I don't even have my electric fireplace up and running, I stomped my feet and pouted for a minute instead. Then I went a little nutty, turning on and off lights, opening and closing curtains, wondering if I was simply seeing things. But no, this piece was even darker than the unit I'd put together. It wasn't the medium brown in the original photo online. It wasn't the fake medium brown that matches the unit. It was almost black.

I called the number on the manual again. The service rep asked if I had a case number. No, I wasn't given one. She took my information. I explained that not only was the piece the incorrect color, but the entire unit was incorrect, so I was completely puzzled as to how the warehouse would ever send me the correct color considering their color selection seems to be whatever-seems-close-enough. She said that while she couldn't do anything about the overall color of the unit, she could certainly get me a piece that matches. She then said that she would put a rush on it since I'd been waiting for a while now. I thanked her for that as she went to contact the warehouse.

Five minutes later, she came back on the line to tell me that no one in the warehouse was picking up. It looked like they had sent the wrong color because of the model number.

The first rep I'd spoken to had the right number and even repeated back it was supposed to be medium brown. So this made no sense. I said this to her. She said that someone mixed up the numbers somewhere along the way.

Then she said she'd continue to follow up and that either she or the first rep would call me back by Wednesday to let me know when the piece would arrive.

Today is Thursday. I gave them until five-ish last night to call me. They didn't. I called the number on the manual again. I was on hold for over twenty minutes. Then I hung up.

At this point, I would like for someone from Home Depot/Home Decorators Collection to do one of the following:

A) Come to my house, take the unit apart, pack it up in boxes, and take it away, refunding me my money.

B) Send me boxes to pack it up after I take it apart myself and then pick it up, refunding me my money.

C) Come to my house, take this unit away, and replace it with a full unit with no broken parts in the RIGHT  COLOR.

Those are the only options. I'm pretty sure that they will have a different option like, I'll send you the right part by October because who really needs a fireplace this time of year anyway? I'll tell you who, Home Depot. I do. That's right. Me.

Say it with me, everyone: FOR SHAME, HOME DEPOT! FOR SHAME.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Whitney Walking

Fun Fact: The Whitney Museum moved since the last time I visited.

Fun Fact: There's rarely parking at the train station during the day.

And so, I walked to the train station from my house. This took about 25 minutes. I encountered an off-leash dog wearing a sweater along the way. I got to the train station as the second early train I thought I'd make was pulling away.

Quiz Time!

True or False: I was one big sweat ball when I got to the train station.

If you answered False, you don't know me at all, do you?

The next train was direct to Penn, so I was able to settle into a seat at the station to wait while reading my book. Then I was able to settle into a seat on the train while reading my book. Or so I thought. Mobs of people appeared, and for most of the train ride, I was sitting with a family who talked to each other in spurts. When people disembarked at Jamaica, I disembarked from the family and found an empty row of seats. There, I took off my jacket to take off my sweater so I could stuff it in my bag and put my jacket back on. Cause, you know, the sweating.

I got downtown pretty quickly. No one breathed on me too badly. Then I walked. And walked. And walked some more. Not only had the Whitney relocated, but it kind of put itself in Witness Protection or something because it was far from basically everything. Okay, it's probably not really that far, but the day turned windy--which is my least favorite kind of weather--and here I was walking again and there was a lot of construction going on and then there were cobblestones. At least the neighborhood was groovy.

I'd gone to see two things. One was an installment of Open Plan with Michael Heizer. I'm not sure exactly why I needed to see floor-to-ceiling photo projections of standing in a hole, but I really really wanted to. So I did. I got myself up to the floor by taking the stairs--more walking--instead of waiting for the elevator because museum elevators have the worst wait. Then I walked into the exhibit, which is the entire floor of the museum. It's very dark. There are couches. Basically, it took about 20 seconds to see the installment. Yet, I'd taken a little under two hours to get there. I sat on a couch, and in the dark, I wrote these notes from the description, which made the experience last longer:
M. Heizer. Actual size. Munich Rotary. Lose track of horizon as the the depression were endless. "There is no beginning. There is no edge . . . It was evanescent." 18,200 square feet [something scribbled out] Land art. Art so large, scared to approach it. up close it gets fuzzy. It moves.
Then I made my way out of the darkness.

Next up was Laura Poitras's Astro Noise. So I have this full poetry collection called Liberating The Astronauts, and it's gotten me kind of magnetized to anything that sounds spacey or space-adjacent. Astro Noise is about war, not space, but it sounds like it's about space because of the Astro part, so that was next on the list. It took more than a few seconds to see. Some of it was neat, like making art out of the screen images from radar and drones. Some of it was disturbing, like slo-mo videos of people witnessing horrible war-things. I walked right by that stuff. Then I came upon a dark room. Very dark. When my eyes adjusted, I saw people lying down on a platform. I noticed a screen on the ceiling. So I got on the platform and on my back and I was transported back to my grammar school planetarium trip for a moment. I stayed there until the film started to repeat. My trip was now worth the sweat and time and 22 dollars. I was looking at the sky around the world and into space. See? It's about space after all.
On the way out of this exhibit, there were walls with holes in them. If you looked in the hole, you could read things. Here's my view of one such hole:
Short People Problems
Then it gets creepy. Really seriously creepy.
Hello Big Brother
 Then I ran through the rest of the museum, dodging school groups and tourists, taking in the rest of what the Whitney had to offer. I enjoyed the outdoor galleries and sculptures.
I enjoyed getting to be in this picture because of the mirror. I think that's exactly why the mirror is there. Or not.
See me?
And of course I enjoyed this.
I took the stairs on the way out because I'm apparently training for a marathon. All the walking and climbing meant that not only was I getting my culture on, but I was also killin' it at Project Pants Fit.
Artsy look at the stairs

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sabbaticalling: Weekly Roundup #15

National Poetry Month has kept me busy, especially this past week. 

It all started with an afternoon poetry reading on Sunday. My workshop friend gave her final public musical performance, so I went along to listen. There were some main featured poets who read and also an open mic. There was also an interpretive dance to "Eye of the Tiger." Whole song. Start to finish. Yep, that happened. It was pretty amazing.

Monday night I hosted the Poets In Nassau reading Writers Raise A Glass at Turn of the Corkscrew. It's usually a cross-genre reading, but since April is poetry month, I slotted five poets and had an open mic. I asked all the poets and open mic readers to read at least one poem by someone else. I loved how it went, so I'm making that a thing for open mic moving forward. Everyone has to read a little something by someone else. We get to see other people's reading  habits. I've been posted Suggested Poems For Today on the Poets In Nassau group page on FB, and I'm going to keep doing it because I like it and others seem to like it, too.

Wednesday morning was workshop day where I gushed to my friend about her performance. We then did some poetry workshopping, which led me to revise a bunch of poems, and write some more. Then that night, I participated in a Beat Voices reading. I read a poem by Diane DiPrima and a poem by Anne Waldman. Then I read two of my own "beat" poems that I wrote probably sixteen years ago when I thought I was beat. They were okay. They weren't bad, but they weren't great. Still, that's the only beat stuff I have, so it worked. I found out at that reading that the music stand I'd donated to Sip This is kinda broken. Actually, thinking about it now, it might not have been the stand I donated. Perhaps someone took the one I donated and replaced it with this one because this one was wobbly and moved on its own. Whatever the case, it was a fun night of Beatific poetry, even though the host's camera died. I took moody pics, though, and shared with him to commemorate the event.
Moody selfie. So beat.
 Thursday I found myself and Eddie at Tribeca Film Festival. Okay, this has nothing to do with poetry month, but April is also TFF month. We went to see a group of shorts they call New York Then, which included his cousin's film Mulberry. I enjoyed all of them for the most part. The thing I miss most about going to TFF every year and seeing five films is being inspired. The buzz around the festival motivates me to write. Coming in closely at second of all the things I miss is the low-price tickets. They aren't so cheap anymore, which is why I haven't been going.

The event-going ended on Saturday where I participated on a panel for Reading Poetry Aloud. There were three of us on the panel. There were three people in the audience. So we wound up having an informal chat about readings and hosting and how to navigate the local scene and how groups can support each other. I got an awesome sticky-note pad for my participation, and given that I love office supplies, I was elated. Eddie also loves office supplies, but this is mine, all mine.

In the interim of going out, I did some necessary staying-in work. I finished reading a non-fiction essay collection, and began both a novel and a poetry collection. Then I read through some old and new selections in  Flapperhouse, Electric Literature, The Toast, Booth, Okey-Panky, McSweeney's and Queen Mob's Tea House. I listened to one more episode This Podcast Will Change Your Life, and then decided it's not quite what I want to listen to. The early episodes are difficult to hear, and I'm not sure if the quality gets better, but I don't want to be challenged to listen to something, especially when I'm driving, which is when I do most of my listening. I also listened to Catapult and PoemTalk, both of which had new episodes.

The most blogging I did was writing this. Instead, I worked more on my website, which is now fully functional. Save the blogging. Obviously, I'm still here to blog. Giving it a few more weeks. Or months. Change is bad!

I wrote a lot this week. I usually write during readings. It's not rude. I encourage everyone to do it. I revised a lot, too. Then I exchanged feedback with my online poetry workshop. That led to some submitting, both my full manuscript and individual poems.

On the business side, I updated my submission tracking sheets and my email list. I continued to plan a few readings and got myself invited to another reading someone else runs.

All this activity means I'm killin' it sabbatical-wise. I'm also very tired, but it's the good kind of tire. It's the poetic kind of tired. It's the freelance writer kind of tired. Plus with all this running around, Project Pants Fit should see some benefits. I'm using today to unwind a bit, maybe read a little, because this upcoming week is just as eventful. I figure I'll be going out a lot until the end of April when we poets all get to take a collective breath.