Yesterday was a ridiculously packed day. Way too much activity for most normal humans and I'm feeling it today. So what happened? Hmmmm...Let's think back....
I woke up early and got to work at 7:45AM to take the morning shift at my office. I wasn't supposed to come in early this week, but my co-worker has been sick the entire week (on *his* week to take the early shift!). Very suspicious, I know. Anyhow, I worked diligently until 12:55PM, when I was going to go downstairs to take a ferry to Jersey City to scout out an apartment I had seen on Craigslist (for buying). The ferry was leaving the dock at 1:07PM so I had to boogie out immediately or else I might be late. The realtor had already called to ask me to move the appointment to 2:00PM and I said no because my day was too full. So, if I missed the appointment, I would look like a major league asshole (as opposed to a minor league asshole prospect). That's why Sarah called me just at that moment to confirm our 4:00PM appointment (details to follow). I told her I only had a minute or else I might miss my ferry which was a mistake. The questions started coming, "Ferry? What? Where are you going? Why are you taking a ferry? What for? what are you doing?". I gave quick one word answers and promised I'd explain later and then hung up and ran to the ferry terminal. The NY Waterway ferry terminal is located a few hundred yards away from my building, but getting out of the building is a long ordeal because it's such a huge complex. BUt I made it with a few minutes to spare.
The trip over to Jersey City is only a 5 minute ferry ride that's quite pleasant. The river was a bit choppy and the breeze felt very nice. We pulled into port and I pulled out a map to see how far I was from the apartment on 106 Grand Street. I was happy to discover that it was only a 5 minute walk away. At that very moment, the clouds, which had been darkening and thickening, started to let a little precipitation down. Not a lot, just enough to let you know that the sky might open up later on.
Your ex-wife nearly keeping you from a real estate appointment: $4.50
The apartment itself being in prime commuting location: $10.75
Me without my umbrella as it starts to rain?: Priceless
I stayed as much under the trees during my quick walk to the aparment in order to stay as dry as possible. Finally, the agent pulled up in her car and waved to me. She found parking and we started up the stairs together. The apartment owner met us at the door with her baby boy (about 5 months old) and her little dog. I thought it was strange that she would bring her dog AND baby down but as she started to make her way outside, I realized she must be taking the dog for a walk. But I would be wrong. She said, "Nice to meet you. I'll wait in the car." What?!?! She's going to sit in her car while a strange guy and a real estate agent romp through her house? I can understand taking the baby with you, but what's the point of taking the dog?!? Very confusing...
The apartment itself is in a brownstone building that only had 4 units in it, one per floor. This was the top floor unit. As you can imagine, there was no elevator, but it was only two flights on some rickety stairs (the building is very old) to get to the top. Why only two flights? Because Apartment 1 is on the ground floor, Apartment 2 is on the main level when you come up the brownstone steps and the other two apartments are tow levels up from that. I normally wouldn't do a walkup (even 2 stories) but I assumed there would be roof access since it was the top floor. A big fat NO on that one! So I focused on the apartment itself. At first glance it wasn't too bad. It's not a big place (700 SQ FT), but it's laid out nicely. An open kitchen layout leads to a small dining area which leads to the living room area all in one long room with only a slight abutment of an archway to separate any of the rooms. The living room is walled up on the left side to make room for a second bedroom, which is being used as a nursery. I say 'bedroom' but I really mean a very small study area. I asked about the possibility of removing all of the inner walls and the agent didn't know anything about that. She ask the owners later and was informed the walls were's load bearing. Of course, I immediately went about figuring out where to put the poker table! I regret to say that the aparmtent is only 10 feet wide, and not conducive for the kind of poker parties I'm going to require! The bathroom was renovated two years ago with nice tile and twin vanities. Not too shabby of a job. The main bedroom, though, is very very small and barely fits a queen bed with just a little nook for a small desk. Closet space wasn't exactly huge either, but this problem is somewhat mitigated by a deeded basement storage space and a space across the hall on the landing which is usable as well. What really put me off the apartment though was the price and the taxes. Especially the taxes. The asking price was $419,000 and the taxes were going up next year to about $8100 a year! All this for a non-manhattan two floor walkup in an old building with no amentities. As I walked through the aparmtment, I was counting the number of things I would have to fix or do to the place to make it liveable to me. When my list reached the limit of all ten fingers, I asked to leave. The owner, her kid and her dog, were sitting patiently in their car.
The real estate agent (a very cute chinese woman who used to be in Credit Suisse equity research in Hong Kong but moved to America for the wonders of real estate) drove me back to the ferry and I made the 2PM ferry back, right on time. I worked for another hour and a half, desperately trying to put in some fixes that needed to be done to our code base RIGHT NOW and head out for my 4PM appointment.
Well, gentle reader, if you've come this far, you'll probably want to know why I needed to have a 4PM appointment with my ex-wife in the middle of a Thursday. The answer is, I needed to give her a 'GET'. What's a 'Get' you ask? Simply put, a 'Get' is a Jewish divorce. But aren't I already divorced? Yes, I am, but only Civilly. What that means is that the State of New York considers me divorced and will allow me to remarry, but a rabbi of the Jewish Religion still considers me to be married and will refuse to officiate at such a re-marriage. In order to get divorced, jewish-style, the husband must give the 'get' to his wife of his own free will and accord. This will allow the wife to be remarried whenever she would like (after a 3 month waiting period). It's an old tradition and fascinating to watch. The 'Get' is done in strict accordance with old traditions in front of a Rabbinical Court called a 'Beth-Din'. There happens to be one a few minutes from my work in downtown Manhattan, so that was the logical place to go. The court consists of 4 rabbis, one of which serves as the main adjudicator, one serves as the scribe and two serve as witnesses. An elaborate ceremony (thankfully held in English) is held which consists of the following steps:
(1) The parties appear before a rabbi learned in the laws of divorce, a scribe, and two witnesses;
(2) The husband requests that the scribe write the GET for his wife, which the scribe then proceeds to do using a special quill pen;
(3) The husband declares that he is giving the GET of his own free will, and a similar declaration is made by the wife concerning its receipt;
(4) At this point, the GET is then signed by the two witnesses;
(5) The parties are again questioned as to whether they are giving and accepting the GET voluntarily.
(6) the husband takes the GET and drops it directly into his wife's cupped hands, stating: "This is your GET and accept this as your GET, you shall therewith be divorced from me, you are untied free and permitted to any man";
(7) She then places the GET under her arm and symbolically leaves by turning and moving several steps away;
(8) The divorcée then returns and the GET is taken from her by the officiating rabbi who tears the GET crosswise; and
(9) Finally, the divorced woman is given a Divorce Certificate to prove her divorced status, and the process is over.
THe divorce document is written out in front of us with an actuall quill feather that the scribe sharpened by using a razor blade to shave the bone! It was then dipped into an inkwell and painstakingly written out in Hebrew. I had a large part of the ceremony which mostly consisted of me saying things like, "I hereby declare that I have made no promise, agreement, oral or otherwise, or have any knowledge whatsoever of any contract, implied or otherwise, that would prevent this Get from being pure and valid. I further deny any future witness who may say that I have entered into this Get of anything but my own free will and I have not made any of these statements under duress, etc, etc, etc..." Wow, no wonder there are so many Jewish lawyers! When you get through this huge speech, believe me, there is no ambiguity at all that you are divorcing your wife and no one twisted your arm! The proceedings, as silly as they were, were obviously tinged with sadness. A divorce, even when mutually amenable, is never a 'fun' thing. Which is why I burst out laughing in the middle of my speech when I heard Sarah start singing this song under her breath:
"Wookin' pa nub in all the wrong places. Wookin' pa nub..."
I lost it. The 4 rabbis, dressed shabbily in very old and worn black suits, looked at me puzzlingly through their thick and scrabbly beards. I couldn't help myself.
After the divorce was done (http://www.thejewishdivorce.com/ if you want more details on the process), I rushed back home with Sarah to get ready for my gig that night. I packed up all of my things, changed into my 'rocking' clothes, and had Sarah drive us to the location (Don Hill's). When we got there, there was another band doing a sound check. It turned out they had booked another band before us at the last minute and we would actually be on 2nd, not 1st. Darko and Vivian were in attendance, as well as David R, the Slayer, Scott L, Liezl and Vera. The crowd was small for us (only about 20 or so) so it lent a somewhat intimate air to the event. When we started up finally, the time we *didn't* spend with the sound engineer shone through. I couldn't hear anything on my monitor for the entire first song and the instruments drowned out the vocals. For the second song, the monitor was brought up but the bass started feeding back. It was only until the 4th or 5th song that we started to find our groove. I thought we were cooking at that point, but audience's are a funny thing. Larger audiences tend to give bigger reactions. Something about crowd psychology I think. You've all seen movie comedies in front of large and small audiences. The larger theater crowds ALWAYS laugh the loudest. Same thing here and the small audience was a bit of a buzz kill. So when it came time for an encore, we weren't feeling it, though the crowd starting yelling for one. Not our best gig, but not awful. The one we did at Snitch was much worse but the one we did at Crash Mansion was the best.
I had dinner afterwards at this great tapas place two blocks away. After ordering way too much food with Sarah and one of her friends (John and Vivan sitting at the next table), we started to eat when Sarah said, simply, "Tony Soprano". Huh? Then I looked over my should and none other than James Gandolfini was walking towards us with what looked like a friend of his. He was dressed casually in jeans and a black T-shirt and he was heading to a small bar next door. That was somewhat exciting. Scott L and his friend met up with us later and when we told him who was in the bar, he went in immediately. Turns out James G. is a hell of a nice guy and he had drinks with Scott and they chatted a bit before James took off about 30 minutes later.
So, to recap, my day consisted of:
2. A real estate listing
3. A divorce
4. Playing a gig
5. Eating tapas
6. A celebrity encounter
How the hell am I going to top this during the weekend? :-)
P.S. Bonus points if you understand the reference from the subject line....