Archive for August, 2010


another thing that I think everyone knows despite my never having said so here is that I have a new little dog, azure. I adopted her in early may after thinking about it for a long time, and she’s slipped into my life in a surprisingly easy way.

there are a few things people tend to say when they meet her for the first time:

“she looks like that dragon from the neverending story!”

“look at that snaggletooth!”

“who needs a baby when you have one of these?”

it’s true that she is a bit of an infant in dog’s clothing. she likes to be carried, and she’s not shy about asking to be picked up. in a crowd or after meeting an especially big dog, she will come running and stand up to rest her paws on my knees imploringly. once in arms, she melts into a floppy little thing, resting her head on a shoulder or breastbone, making contented, barely audible grunting noises. she likes to suckle on soft things: her stuffed bone, her towel, my shirtsleeves, her toes.

I really didn’t get a dog so that I could pretend to have a baby, but having a dog who likes to be babied is pretty sweet.


the jackhammer

the weirdest aspect of writing here is, in some ways, how ill-defined the audience is. am I telling stories, or chatting with friends? if I fill in the background details, am I boring you with things you already know? if I leave them out, am I coming across as frustratingly vague and unclear? perhaps you can give me gentle nudges one way or the other as necessary.

one big thing that happened, that I sort of assume everyone knows about, but I don’t believe I’ve ever actually mentioned here: I became a homeowner last november when I bought the apartment where I’ve lived since 2005. (I’ve lived on this same block for almost seven years now; my beloved one bedroom that was my first grownup home is just next door.) it was one of those fabled insider deals: I was a tenant when the building’s owners decided to convert it to condos, and I paid for the privilege of a well-under-market-rate purchase price with thirty months of angst and uncertainty surrounding lease renewals, failed financing plans, conflicting appraisals, and transactions involving more money than I had ever dreamed of spending. but it worked out and now my building is about half owner-occupied, while the rest of the apartments are still leased to rent-stabilized or -controlled tenants. I know that for resale value purposes I should want fewer renters, but I hope that they stay as long as possible. they are, after all, the people who lived here when my own apartment was a crack den, the citizens of the new york city into which I was born. my new york. their brooklyn.

anyway. one of the slow-burning side effects of this condo conversion is that we’ve had at least one improvement project going on somewhere in the building for the last several years. first it was the renovations of the units that were abandoned by non-regulated renters who didn’t want to stick it out in the hopes of eventually buying their homes. this is an old building, pre-war and modestly maintained as you would expect for a long-term rental property, so it’s always had its rough edges. but when the construction started I would often find bits of plaster and dust falling from the gaps around the heat risers, floor varnish dripping from the ceiling, or appliances littering the sidewalk with their doors removed, making it impossible to cross the street. then there was the scaffolding that turned my bedroom window into a cage while the facade was repainted. the endless attempts to turn the front yard into something resembling a garden, which mostly succeeded in unearthing the trash that people have thrown there (from their windows, I think?) over the years. now we have an unseemly mixture of hosta plants and fake lilies sprouting from the apparently none-too-hospitable soil.

none of this really mattered to me one way or another. I have no investment in living in a prettified building; I’m here because I love my neighborhood (and, just a little bit, because I hate moving). but this summer they’ve started to make changes in earnest: renovating the interior courtyard and turning the formerly off-limits basement into a laundry room. I’m very excited about the on-site laundry! I’m sure if I stay here long enough there will be an eventual roofdeck too. anyway the view out my bedroom window now looks something like this:

courtyard under construction

and from 9 am to 5 pm every day there is someone jackhammering the courtyard floor into pieces, growing a pile of concrete hunks with rebar spikes protruding like the unpleasantly crooked legs on a dead spider. the jackhammer isn’t even as loud as I expected, but between its pounding in the courtyard and the noise of the compressor that’s parked on the sidewalk out front, there just isn’t any silence around here during the day. no quiet moments.

I’ve always considered myself a city person and one aspect of that is that I’m comforted, not just unbothered, by the incessant hum of background noise made by subways, sirens, trucks, and punctuating gunshots. street noise is my lullaby. so I’ve been surprised to find that the lack of quietude in my apartment has made me painfully sensitive to every other sound that normally wouldn’t even register. flatbush avenue bus traffic; airplanes homing in on laguardia runways; delivery trucks idling along the curbs; train wheels whining from underground. even the park, with its drone of hornets and daycampers, is too loud. for the first time in years I can’t bear to listen to music through my headphones.

it’s a temporary condition and one by which I am not too deeply bothered. mostly it reminds me how lucky I am to have a home on this quiet little block in the middle of my lively borough and my never-sleeping city.


If you’re reading this, you probably already know who I am. and, in fact, this website is really here for you. (in the sense that I wouldn’t have brought it back if people hadn’t mentioned missing it. I missed it too, albeit in the abstract.)

so this is the third incarnation of my personal website, in terms of major discontinuities. I guess that makes this the cenozoic era of wockerjabby. no archives from the past 13 years are public now, although they still exist and I plan on keeping them intact. they are the fossil record of my third decade on earth.

you can leave me a comment, if you like, by clicking on the title of the post. I haven’t decided whether to make comment links public or what; in this environment of feed readers and problogging there is something about them that makes me feel a little uncomfortable and sad, but at the same time, stealth comments kind of lose their functionality.

I’ve been having a pretty good summer so far. there are two big things that I’m hoping to finish before school starts in september: chapter four of my dissertation and a t-rex robot. it’s still early enough in the month of august that I’m ¬†feeling optimistic.