Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hit the fuckin' road and piss up a rope


We totally won! The developer guy gave up! He's going away! Huzzah!

We went to a meeting last night of our town's Conservation Commission, where the developer was supposed to find out whether the Conservation Commission's rules applied to the land next door where he wants to build. We went around our neighborhood with flyers on Sunday to try to get some people to show up, because we thought this could be a big deal - at the very least, if the guy had to follow the Commission's rules, it would delay his project for a while, and at best it could cancel it altogether. (There's a stream that runs down the back of all the property on our side of the street that may qualify as "wetlands" according to the Massachusetts General Laws).

So we showed up expecting it to be another battle in a long drawn-out war. There were a couple people from the neighborhood already there, and when they saw us they came over and said that the chair of the commission had announced that Loser Developer had withdrawn his petition for determination of applicability. And we were like, "What does that mean?" He's stalling for time? He's thinking he doesn't have to abide by the commission's rules? What?

And we were sort of standing around in the hallway outside the hearing room discussing it when Loser Developer himself came out and told us he wasn't going to pursue the project anymore. He said they didn't think it was worth putting any more money into it because they weren't going to be able to build as many units as they needed to make a profit. Plus he said, and I quote, "I don't wanna fight the neighborhood."

That's me! That's us! We're the neighborhood! He doesn't want to fight us!


We totally made a difference.

So our city councillor was there, too, and after the developer dude left, he gave me a hug and said how lucky we were that it turned out this way, that situations like this don't usually turn out so well. He's sponsoring a resolution in the city council to re-zone our entire street to single family houses only, which would mean no more developments ever (yay!), so we're still going to work with him to get that passed - there's a hearing for that next month.

So my first foray into local politics has turned out well! Not only is the developer going away, but I got to meet lots of people in my neighborhood and feel like something I did had an impact. Even better, we didn't have to use the lawyer to get the result we'd hoped for.

It was hard for me to do some of that stuff - walking around knocking on people's doors and trying to convince them to be on my side is really REALLY hard for me. Getting up and speaking at that Zoning hearing was hard for me. Not freaking out and backing down after the guy came to my house and threatened me was hard for me. I feel like, at the advanced age of 32, I've learned something about the value of working hard for an issue you care about. If I'd done nothing two months ago when we first found out about this, it's very likely that they would have gotten their zoning variance approved and they would have already started construction (in my first conversation with the developer's local flunkie he mentioned starting September 15th). And I'd be miserable.

But instead I managed to do the things that were hard for me and overcome my vast reserves of social anxiety because I really didn't want this development to happen. It's funny - I was saying to our Councillor - I've never gotten involved with anything like this before, probably because nothing had ever impacted me personally before. But now that I've seen a little bit of how city politics work (and I'm sure the encouragement of a good end result helps, too) I feel like I want to keep doing things like this. KB and I have said that, whenever we end up where we're going to end up, we need to get involved big time.

The big loser here is the real estate speculator who bought the land from the people who used to live there. He was the one the developer was going to buy it from, and now that they're not going to, he's kind of screwed. I don't feel bad for him, though - if that's how you make your living, you've got to be prepared for some elements of risk, right?

Thanks for reading.

*And by "dude," I mean, of course, my tens of loyal readers.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The first time I smoked...guess what? Paranoid.

So I had a birthday last week. I am now officially well into my 30's and fast approaching the time where, when I sell my first screenplay, the trades will not call me a "tyro" screenwriter anymore. Sigh.

Nolan and I were down in NJ the week before last, and, as predicted, there was plenty of drama. It was hard to be away from KB for a whole week, but we did get to see a lot of family and eat lots of food, so it wasn't a total wash.

Then this past week my friend Rose was here visiting, which was awesome. We took Nolan to the aquarium on Monday, which he enjoyed thoroughly (although not, perhaps, as much as his mommy did). But the big hit for him was the balloon he got from Cheers, where we had lunch. They didn't let us take it into the aquarium (I guess because if it popped and got into one of the penguin exhibits a penguin could eat it and DIE), so we had to check the balloon, which was tied to Nolan's sweatshirt, at the coat check. So when we came out of the aquarium I had to give the coat check guy my little ticket and say, "It's the balloon," which I thought was nice and dada-esque.*

Tuesday night KB and Rose and I went out for my birthday, and I was reminded of how little tolerance for drinking I have these days. Out of practice, I guess. I was totally hung over the next morning. Yuck.

Both Rose and KB left Wednesday - Rose for NYC and a wedding, and KB for New Jersey and a job interview. So Nolan and I were on our own for the rest of the week, which I guess we should be used to at this point, but which still kind of sucks.

Then Saturday we're all flying to Omaha to visit Pappy and Grandma for a week. So we'll be gone again, but hopefully for a more restful visit. They volunteered to Nolan-sit for one night so KB and I could have a date night, which will be nice. When I talked to my dad yesterday he asked, "Do you want us to fill up the hot tub for you guys?" and I thought, "Is this a trick question?"

So. Yeah. That's the cliff notes version of the last two weeks. I've got another Development Next Door thing this Wednesday night - the Conservation Commission is having a public hearing regarding whether there is Conservation Commission jurisdiction on that property. So I'm hoping to get lots of neighbors to show up again to speak against the development.

And I need to get Nolan's fifteen months old pictures out. Already, the querying e-mails are coming - "Where are the new pictures?" So it seems like I've got a lot on my plate.

And now I'm old. Older. Alas.

Thanks for reading.

*I thought of that Salvador Dali quote, or rather, Penn and Teller's rephrasing of that Salvador Dali quote, "So little of what might happen, does happen." Which they took to mean that Dali was wondering why, when he orders dinner, he's never served a flaming telephone book. (I'm totally paraphrasing from "How To Play With Your Food"). I thought this situation was pretty similar - give a coat check guy your claim ticket and you get a balloon tied to a child's sweatshirt.

Friday, September 01, 2006

I told the witch doctor I was in love with you

Going to drive down to Dirty Jers with Nolan tomorrow - my mom is flying up here from Philly, we're picking her up at the airport, and then we're all three driving back down to her place (can you tell this is her first and only grandchild? The things she's willing to do, I swear.) Let's hope we don't encounter too much of Hurricane John or Tropical Storm Kristy on the drive. (Kristy? KRISTY? It sounds like we'll be attacked with huge hair-sprayed bangs and frosted eye shadow instead of weather.)

So we'll be gone for a week. KB is staying here in Beantown as he has his first big board exam on Friday the 8th. He'll have a week of bachelorhood and old-fashioned cramming for his test. It will be good in a way that we'll be gone so he can focus, but we're going to miss him a lot.

Nolan and I will stay with my mom and visit lots of family, so there will be plenty of potential for conflama* because of all the various goings-on with the fam. My aunt on my dad's side is visiting my grandparents with two of her sons (and apparently some girlfriends? Or something?) from Spokane, and my stepsister and her boyfriend have also moved back to the East coast from Ohio and have been staying with the same grandmother but have now been booted out because of my aunt's visit and are staying with my other aunt and uncle for a few days while they look for their own place to live. Everybody clear on that?

So prolly no posts for a week or so. Unless I get really bored one day at my mom's.

Thanks for reading.

*I actually used that word on the phone with my aunt, Dru, and she was like, "What? Con-what?" I forgot it's not really a real word.

UPDATE: Okay, I just want to point out that I'm not really an idiot - I just didn't realize Hurricane John was in the Pacific Ocean and thus there was really no chance that we'd run into any John-related problems driving down the East Coast. Apparently, it was Hurricane Ernesto (or what was left of him) that gave us all the rain and wind and giant tree branches crashing down onto the Merritt Parkway 40 feet in front of us that we just barely avoided. My mistake. (By the by, why is the hurricane in the ocean off of Mexico named John, while the one on the East Coast is Ernesto?)