Digging a Hole

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Jersey's Playoff Team

Oh, werd?
Kevin and I have a habit of going to the 'season-on-the-line' games of our favorite sports teams. You may remember the Devils getting knocked out of the playoffs by the Rangers in 1997. Or the Mets completing the first of their recent late-season collapses by giving up 9,000 runs in the first inning of the 2008 season finale. Or Billy Wagner blowing a 9th inning four run lead against the Yankees by beaning in the winning run. (Oops.) We personally attended all of these games.
It should come as no surprise then that we watched the Devils give up Game 7 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in a stunning 80-second moment of time that ripped the hearts out of the citizens of the Garden State.
With the Nets considering jumping ship to NYC (the worst of betrayals) and the Jets and Giants insisting they are a New York team even as they build a new stadium in the swamps of the Meadowlands, the Devils have claimed the mantel "Jersey's Playoff Team."
So, at Game 7, in Newark, we were issued towels to wave emblazoned with an outline of the state. Jersey hero Kevin Smith urged real Jersey girls and boys to cheer on their team. Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi blared from the speakers. Animated zambonis raced on actual simulations of the streets of Newark eliciting shout-outs to the Newark Bears. Fans bought funnel cakes from the "Devils Boardwalk".
When the final score of the Rangers final game flashed on the board, it was official: Jersey had prevailed. For a glorious half hour, Jersey was in and New York was out. Then, in 80 seconds, we were out too, and it felt like the entire state had lost.
On the Newark Light Rail train home, a young African-American family decked out in new Reebok Devils jerseys urged the dejected fans riding the train all the way back to the suburbs not to lose hope.
"We'll be back in the playoffs next year guys! Don't worry! This is Newark's team now!"
If we are one thing in this state, it's resilient.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Ownership Society

Oh, werd?
Eric is incapable of watching one television channel at a time. He prides himself in perfectly timing his channel flips so that I can catch every moment of the Colbert Report and he can watch Destroyed in Seconds during the commercials. His absolute favorite channel to flip to, though, is the Home Network.
Me: You are watching real estate porn.
Eric: No, this is informative.
TV: Next, Sara and Robert take the plunge for the first time on Property Virgins.
Eric really really really wants to own property for a few reasons:
1) Our apartment has 1.5 bedrooms but 3.5 roommates (and two baby chicks).
2) Paying rent, even really cheap rent, is not an investment. (Although buying a house seems to me like renting from the bank for 30 years, but whatever.)
3) We want a dog.
We have gone to look at a few places in the "bad" neighborhoods of Montclair (i.e. a slightly higher Chinese restaurant to antique store ratio), so Eric has learned what my parents learned decades ago: I like and get incredibly excited about the wrong things in houses.
Real estate agents love showing houses to people like me because rather than keeping a cool hand, I reveal accidentally how excited I am about "features" that most people would assume detract from a house's value.
Real estate agent: The layout is a little quirky.
Me: Cool! There are doors between all the bedrooms so you can walk in a loop upstairs!
When I was 8, my parents looked for our first house. The one they now live in was perhaps not their first choice, but it was my favorite because it was the first one we saw that met my three key parameters: I got my own bedroom, it had a backyard, it had a downstairs where the rooms connect in a loop that I can run around and around. I'm pretty sure that there had to have been a moment where both of my parents smacked their foreheads in resignation while I showed the real estate agent how fast I could make it from the dining room to the kitchen.
In our current sporadic home search, Eric has patiently tried to explain to me why it is important not to exclaim in joy at "features" such as:
1) The tiniest living room ever ("It's so cute and cozy!")
2) The extra back staircase ("Cool! Just like a secret passageway!")
3) The bedrooms and other living space being in the basement instead of a second floor ("We can have loud parties here without disturbing the neighbors! It's like a bunker!")
4) The tree growing out of the ceiling ("It's so pretty! It'll be a blast to fix this place!")
I have yet to restrain my unhelpful outbursts despite the number of times Eric has reminded me not to look too excited about a house you are touring.
In my defense though, I have also had to explain to him that a neighborhood with multiple abandoned houses is not, in fact, "up and coming!" nor is it a sign of how much a community values public safety when the police check to see if you are buying drugs while you look at properties.
So the search continues for a house with a yard for a dog, a low low price and property taxes (but safe enough for me to go out at night), oh and a porch swing.
Eric: You can add a porch swing to any house with a porch, Kerry.
Me: Dude, if it has a porch swing, I am sold.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Brownie and Blondie

Oh, werd?
This week, Eric and I have been hosting two baby chicks in our living room as part of the "Adopt a Chick" program. As some of you know, we get fresh veggies all summer long from a Jersey organic farm. We also get one free range (like, actually free range, as in outdoors eating bugs) chicken per month in the summer. The chickens are raised and slaughtered by Farmer Ken, a genuinely nice guy who was concerned that the egg-laying hens he received from his supplier had had their beaks trimmed too much before arrival on his farm. For this reason, he decided to order newly-hatched chicks.
April, though, is economically tough on farms. There are no crops for sale. There are no meat chickens fully grown. The only profit comes from the sale of soup chickens. We had a soup chicken for dinner last week. Into these tough economic times comes Adopt a Chick. We paid Farmer Ken money to keep two baby chicks in our apartment this week. They will lay eggs on the farm for as long as they can. We will buy those eggs from the farmer and from Grace, the woman who owns Terra, a store across the street that sells local and organic food as well as fair-trade gifts. My first job was babysitting Grace's kids. The economy is local and sustainable and beautiful except for one thing: when egg-laying hens stop laying eggs they become soup chickens, and Eric and I could very well make a broth from Brownie and Blondie next April.
Oh, yeah... I named them. My first mistake.
Brownie and Blondie have taught me a lot about chickens. They poop a lot. They like to scratch and peck... a lot. They prefer to sit on a perch to sitting in even the cleanest wood shavings. They have distinctive personalities. Blondie, the bigger and possibly slightly older of the two is the brave one. She was the first to learn that she could fly out of her box and sit on the edge (after Farmer Ken assured us that they can't do that... oops.) Brownie is klutzy and less adventurous. The only thing that can move Brownie to heroic feats is when she can't find Blondie. This is where it gets painfully cute. When the pair cannot see each other, they break from their typical peeping and instead call out in distress. So when Brownie fell off the box backwards and landed in a grocery bag, it was Blondie's calls that alerted us to the problem. When Blondie started leaping from the box to the laptop's monitor while Eric or I worked on the computer, Brownie crashed into the armchair trying to reach her. (We have taken to giving Brownie boosts when she feels left behind.) Both chickens like to sit on a warm hand, and they love to cuddle each other.
So, the problem becomes, can I eat Brownie and Blondie? Because if I can't, then I really shouldn't be eating any chickens at all. Maybe I should not have named them. Maybe it's okay because in the wild they would stand no chance at all or in a factory farm they would be tortured. Maybe living on a genuinely healthy farm with Farmer Ken and his wife even if their ending will almost certainly be in a soup pot (possibly mine) is their best case scenario. Chickens would not even exist if people did not think they were tasty.
Farmer Ken emailed Eric and asked if we wanted to buy a soup chicken while we were dropping off Brownie and Blondie on Saturday (he probably did not refer to them by name in the email). We had enthusiastically praised the delicious soup just last week. Now the soup was sitting in my lap watching the Daily Show. Eric politely declined, for now.
We get our first roaster in June or July.
Brownie and Blondie are playing on the keyboard.