Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Manhattan Maneuvers

Why am I standing on this late night, Forest Hills street corner smoking a cigarette after that 2-day marathon in the garage flea sauna? It's a necessary and disgusting habit, like schlepping antiques all over hell for two weeks that's why. I'm working out the remaining adrenalin while awaiting further instructions from my superiors. I shouldn't be telling you this, in fact your life is endanger knowing this much…I'm special forces. I know, I know, mild- (never mind) mannered midwestern mom-type with the requisite antiques hobby as cover (taxonomically speaking "job" might be over-reaching acceptable measure for this classification). But that's really why I was in that filthy Manhattan garage in 3-digit temps for the last two days of the East Coast tour. All I am at liberty to say is that strategic goals were mostly achieved, as best we can tell from command's grumbling, and I am on furlough so to speak, until Friday 0500 hours (when I reboard for new york, collect my progeny from camp and that full truck to make the fun drive home).

You can sleep nights knowing enemy combatants have been subdued (put down those fine ionic capitals dude, the password is NOT "are you gonna let me walk over $10?) and we've infiltrated by way of underground networks (they'd NEVER think to look for live people in this breathless box of death…by the way did we burn that stinking uniform?…oops, left it in the truck, note to self, pack hazmat bags and military strength orange-all spray). Hah! it only looks like a gross men's bathroom but actually it's a top secret command station where I quick-changed after 11 hours of duty (touching nary a surface mind you) and "showered" in the sink (remember this is the woman who gave you roadside cornfield latrine maneuver…I say suck it up, this is no time for prissy prudery and frankly we are beyond the term "shvits") and pulled that kinda short little black dress disguise on (really at her age…) Leave it to the female officers to convoy through manhattan and reconnoiter with the rest of our unit at headquarters (Bel Aire Diner, one billion other places to eat in New York, but there's the all night factor, free parking of large vehicles and complimentary mini muffins to consider).

The beauty of this assignment, which I will be repeating in September, is that there is no thinking. We know what they want (sorta kinda), we're well-prepared for the arm-wrestling, and they traffic in a currency we can trade in. Now if we can only keep Colonel Kurtz from losing it. That sleep deprivation and iced coffee defribillation makes the lips a little jiggy and voice a little loudish and with the "shoppers" wearing all manner of disguises beyond reasonable codes of decency (see-through lingerie, people on leashes, etc.), it's tough to concentrate on the the real operatives. Above all, we are there to keep our targets in the sight and to make the all-important trade. Ahh the smell of automotive grease and hot humans, the last minute deal-making by scavengers. I think I hear the flight of the valkyries playing and helicopters in the distance (so harmonic with new york accents and sirens). Re-entering familiar airspace in 14 hours and focused on destination my own mattress. Will face the tribunal and the missing documents later, the saloon calls for a cold one and then it's over and out for this soldier. Will report for duty at 0800, just enough time to have our story straight for the budget oversight committee on alleged abuses of funds.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sleepless in Hot York

Siesta was created because you actually can't function in the heat of the day. Is that why I couldn't find the subway stop as I circled it from 30 feet away? Sweet Jesus but it's hot on fantasy island. Let's hope that doesn't deter the tourists from shopping in the oven on Saturday (Chelsea Garage Annex Flea 26th and 6th or so). That this venerable flea market will actually close after forever I am unable to accept but August 30th is the end kids, so if you are in the hood buy a bag of ice, stick it down your pants and shop...think sweat lodge meditation for antique natives, sauna for slaves of salvage..free toxic cleanse with every purchase, doubles as a salt lick.. Secretly I love summer, bring it on (you weren't here when it was 2 and we were trying to load the van...no I am NOT over it). Tomorrow I'm going to crawl into a storage unit then onto a salvage yard, let's see if that degree clinical strength antiperspirant is all that. I'm holding back some great stuff for the store and word has it that MarkyD is pulling it together upstairs at ye ole heritage co.2. (Don't get excited, we're keeping it to Friday and Saturday for now, there's a pawn shop to run and mark is the go to prince of pawn in pontiac people!) And you know? I'm kinda getting ready for a BIG SELL OFF too, I'll even turn the AC on, big splurge. Scored a primo primo spot at Brimfield and I want all new juicy stuff for the September show (weekend after labor day). Thanks for asking, yeah the new van is running fine (giant repair bill later..don't get me started) Have yet another car to sell when I get home i.e. the cargo van (did i mention i am indeed parting with my beloved '67 porsche 912 and rick's '76 convertible karmann ghia is also on the block?) But first I gotta get this one back, but that's on the next trip to New York, never mind it's complicated...new stuff in the store first week of August, stay cool, RMA, shut up, love you mean it, go to bed, ok, shhh, ok, by, shit I forgot a photo, close your eyes, visualize the statue of liberty, scary dinner bills, good night from new york.

The Best Thing I Ever Found at Brimfield

Sitting in front of the fan under this little white oven tent and selling my wares, I am counting the minutes until I can pack it all in and head to my little oasis. A dealer I met through another dealer I met showed us this pristine spring-fed pond. To dive into that alternate universe after the all day heat, dirt, stuff and the selling of it, keeps me going. I can swim the entire perimeter and see the lilly pads and the path the water creatures make escaping my current. As my longtime dealer friend lulu says, the people still in this business despite all the economic woes are the heart and soul of the business. Despite the conditions and long hours, to sit amongst our tents and share wine and hors d'houevres, complete dinners and then watch old 8mm movies on the side of a white truck, I can't imagine a richer life. I actually gave up a hotel room and the 30 minute commute to sleep in my new old van and bathe in a pond. I couldn't be happier about it. The full moon and sparkling stars mark a path from the bathroom, a bag of toiletries slung over my shoulder. I rise early with enough time to read for an hour before I head for the showers, dress and head to the food tents for coffee and breakfast. I am reminded of the gypsy encampments outside the city limits of Paris. Dirty barefoot children ran between the adults whose loud laughter rose with the steam from pots. They were having fun and I felt sorry for them. I have since learned that simple trumps fussy and while it is glorious to stay at a posh hotel and eat at fine restaurants, it isn't any more fun than this. Tomorrow I gauge whether to stay all or part of the day knowing I have to pack it all up and load the van in the hot sun and head to New York City. Next weekend is the garage flea market and all the city gypsies will be there. I can't wait for them to see the cache of worn wonderment as it spills out from my traveling show.

Monday, July 4, 2011

A New Holiday Work/Play Plan You'll Love!!

Going on a trip should be fun and a good excuse to buy a new outfit. If you asked my mother and three sisters, a trip of unloading junk and selling it on the side of the highway is not fun nor would buying a 10-year-old, 1 ton, 5.4 liter V-8, 15-passenger van to do this next week, qualify as a chic outfit. What do they know? I know my 80 year-old, retired-engineer dad thought it was fun looking at used vans with me, not to mention it's his kind of outfit. It's complex, the son you didn't get, but didn't really want, that is still your daughter/child driving 1300 miles in an old van next week. He has that look on his face that says, I know cars and this one stinks, but for the right price? My daughter is crazy, thank God I'm here. This has made his day. But, the owning that spur of the moment decision-making and make-fun-work habit might by his genes? That's another story. He crossed an ocean with probably as much forethought and blind ambition. Did fun enter his mind? in between working like a dog? What if all he needed was the right manual?

My inner Martha Stewart says work and play is entrepreunerial, you just need a little multi-tasking manual to make it fun. The Fourth of July is ideal for this vacation. Your kid has to be collected from sailing camp and couch surfing in paradise, you have to find a van, pack it and do a show next week, just put the pieces in order. Simple engineering logic and plenty of time for fun! Just don't over do it! In a 48-hour plan, one needs two eight-hour stretches of sleeping time. You know two spots with queen pillow tops and 400-count cotton sheets that will cost you nothing. Suggest your company will make their holiday. Sound completely fried if they waffle.

Work up to the minute that the highways shut down on Friday. Grab bathing suit, toothbrush, vodka on the counter, don't forget old dog. Expect that one of the two last vans on the way to your first night's accommodation will be perfect. One just so happens to belong to an old client you liked, send plea out to the universe and to the ghost of the Big Three Gods. Your sister's spacious arts-and-crafts home in Kalamazoo is a sure thing, separate dogs, break out vodka, retire to the porch for cocktails, sleep. Her husband Rodger owns the original Heritage Co. store, shop there before you have to pick up your child. This feels like work, so make fun stop for berry picking on the way. Rodger knows mulberry tree 5 blocks away. With less than an hour, inspire genius. There's three of us, some kitchen bowls and a rain poncho in the car. Two people hold the poncho like a funnel, slip bowl in the poncho's neck, another shakes the branches, genius engineering. Laugh your way to a peck of free sweet berries, go to work.

On the highway by noon, expect the unexpected accident/road shut down by two, take uncharted tree-lined road where your car stopped. Promise you'll get for GPS next time, turn left. Be delighted by a sparkling lake on the right and the antique store in the middle of no where. Turn around in the next parking lot where the local girl scouts happen to have a dog wash stand. Drop the old dog off in the hot lot with the darling girls and make donation, go to work, collect fresh dog, take pictures, that's fun, continue. Child pick-up delayed, stop for homemade burgers at roadside grill, disregard smell, enjoy burger. Arrive at friend's home in paradise, hug your child, join adults for cocktails on the deck. It's really hot in the late afternoon heat, put on suits, jump in Lake Michigan, leave as not-so-fun mosquito party starts. Retire to the aforementioned hotel-like accommodations, sleep. Wake up and leave by noon, buy van from old client, rekindle friendship. Have fun firing off business possibilities as you peel off your last dollar. Stop on the way home for family party, eat, always fun when your other sister is cooking, endure fireworks, go home, sleep is the new fun.

Stay tuned for next weeks productive and fun work/play retreat workout to the East Coast!