The Weekend.

Things I did this weekend:

1. C and I went to Target, which oddly enough is about a 7-minute walk from our apartment, across the river to the Bronx, for laundry detergent, a cover for my Kindle, a plastic-coated whisk that I can use in the no-stick pans, dental floss, paper towels, and a couple other things I can't remember any more.

2. I installed the curtain "hold-backs" that I ordered from Home Depot. I ordered and paid for 4 pairs but they sent 8 pairs. No idea why. Because of the design of the curtain rods, it was difficult and took some time to open and close the drapes. Our windows open onto a 10-flight stairway that goes up from Broadway to our neighborhood in Inwood, and the stairs are flanked with streetlights, so curtains that close are necessary. Now, we can just hook them on the little things when we want them open and let them go when we want them closed. I can't tell you how much stress that relieved for me. Silly, I know.

3. I organized the office. I had ordered a bunch of stuff from the Container Store (my new retail crush): a wire hanging shelf so I have extra room for towels and napkins in the kitchen cabinet, another wire shelf for the freezer so everything doesn't slide out onto the floor when you open it, and 8 plastic bins to stack on the shelves in the office so all the little stuff we store in there can be stowed neatly instead of piled on the floor. The office is actually now a comfortable, attractive room where I can write. That's huge. Before, it felt like a garage.

3. I used my favorite Xmas present to convert an old recording of my first full-length musical, an adaptation of Frankenstein, from audio cassette to digital files. (I have a box full of cassettes of my pre-CD/internet/GarageBand work to convert. The machine is called a Tape2USB II, made by Grace Digital Audio and it's super-easy to use.)

Tim and another friend Liz and I wrote and staged Frankenstein in 1991. It was too quick (we wrote, rehearsed, opened, and closed the show all in about 9 weeks), and we were too inexperienced, and it didn't come together. Half the audience walked out every night at intermission, and I can't blame them. It just wasn't ready. The experience was eye-opening and heartbreaking, and we sort of never looked back.

But now, there might be some people interested in developing it, so I pulled it out. The recording is not great, the performances are awful -- I don't want to badmouth the very talented and game group of actors we worked with, but they were mostly as naive as we were about the challenges of a full-length musical -- and musically and lyrically it's a mess, but there's an atmosphere and a complex emotionality to the piece, not to mention the power of the story, that shows through and is still very affecting. It would take a lot of work, a serious overhaul, but it would be worth the effort. Remember that's what happened with Lizzie Borden. It was very old work that had receded into memory, but it was revived by people who saw its potential and created opportunities for us to re-write it and find a new audience for it.

4. C and I watched the Republican debates. It's mesmerizing, watching the old Reagan alliance of hard-hearted rich people and Christian reality-deniers fall apart before our very eyes. When Ron Paul is the sanest person in the room, you're in trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for Please don't let any of these clowns and monsters get elected president.


Also from the Container Store, I bought a sliding contraption with recycling bins that will fit in one of our narrow kitchen cabinets, so we can get our paper, plastic, and metal recyclables out of the office and hidden away. I had a ridiculous confrontation with our landlord recently about garbage, which I lost but only because he holds all the cards, so I would rather the recycling bins not be out in the open to remind me daily of my economic powerlessness.

Owners of residential buildings in New York with more than 3 units (ours has 4) are required to provide an area and containers for their tenants to put their garbage and recyclables, and they are required to put the containers in front of the building on designated days to be picked up by the city. Our landlord does not do any of this. He expects the tenants to keep everything in our apartment until pick up day (3 times a week for trash, once a week for recycling) and then bag it and take it to the curb ourselves. It's not such a burden to deal with our own trash, but I think certain responsibilities come with ownership and the landlord should keep his end of the bargain. There's plenty of room in front of the house for garbage and recycling bins, so why should we have to store refuse in our apartments?

A few weeks ago, he sent us a note saying that he'd been fined for some improperly sorted garbage (recyclable stuff in with the regular trash) and asked us to be more careful. I wrote back saying that it was not likely us, since we're very vigilant about recycling, but that if he would provide containers for his tenants' garbage and recycling it might be easier for him to manage it. He told me that he's not a superintendent and doesn't do garbage, that part of the charm of living in a small building is dealing with your own garbage, and that if we didn't like it there were alternatives. He actually said that.

He's defying the law, but we of course have no leverage. We could insist, report him to the city, make a stink, but he could turn off our heat, refuse to make repairs, double our rent, make our lives miserable in any number of ways.