Buying a house; others are downsizing


houseTom, the Mayor, an old FantaCo buddy, asks an Ask Roger Anything Question.

Roger, My wife and I own our house. Do you ever regret buying a house at the age when others in our group are thinking about downsizing? This last winter was mild for us; I really didn’t have to shovel, thank God!

Although I’ve probably touched on this in passing, I should explain my ambivalence about home ownership.  My parents did not own their house. Instead, they rented it from my maternal grandmother. So I had no experience to emulate.

When they finally bought their place in 1972 in Johnson City, NY, near Binghamton, they kept it for less than three years before moving to Charlotte, NC. Initially, they moved into a rental before eventually buying another house.

I lived in rental units my entire adult life. Mostly, I was fine with it. Sure, a landlord could be a pill. And on one occasion, everyone in the building I had lived in had to vacate because the owner wanted to upgrade the place.

Still, it wasn’t all that bad. For one thing, I am not what you call handy. Once you get past a hammer, screwdriver, and wrench, I’m pretty hopeless.

When I was in junior high – what they call middle school now – we had shop, where we were supposed to make wooden and ceramic items. I was indisputably terrible. I was slightly better at metal shop in ninth grade, only because the machinery was far more precise than I could ever be.

So having a house at all is rather scary, as I noted here and here and probably elsewhere.


But here’s a fact. My father was 52, and my mother was almost 51 when they had their first grandchild. I was 51 when I had my only CHILD. My wife and I still have a teenager living at home in the summer.

Similarly, I was 47 when I owned my first house. Technically, 46, if you count the house I moved into when I first got married, which my bride had purchased independently. But the place we live in now is still a newish experience.

Yet, my wife asked me last year what I will do with my stuff. I didn’t know how to answer that; I’m still using my CDs and books, and probably counterintuitively, I’m still buying some. It will kill my brain if I stop interacting with new stuff.  Then I’ll be… what’s the word I’m looking for? Oh, yeah, OLD.

Oh, and BTW, Mayor, I take specific pride in the quality of my snow shoveling. I don’t do that lame shovel-width snow removal. Instead, I clean the whole walk and salt it if needed. I learned that at FantaCo, we needed to make the sidewalk safe for our customers. If I can no longer do it satisfactorily, I’ll hire someone.


My wife has wanted to fix the kitchen since we bought the house in 2000. The room was poorly designed, with the stove, the built-in silverware drawer, and the sink too close to each other. She hates the cabinet space and the wallpaper, among its flaws.

She wants to fix it and keep it long enough to appreciate the improvement. So we’ll downsize… eventually. I have been removing some items that don’t bring me joy, but I’m not going all Marie Condo. Heck, Marie Condo’s not even all Marie Condo anymore.

March rambling: something dumb


“Good morning, friends. That awful feeling of shame and panic when you remember saying something dumb years ago is your nervous system trying to protect you from perceived danger. Try telling your body, ‘Thank you for wanting to protect me. We’re safe now. It’s okay to let it go.'” from Good Morning, Friends: Gentle Suggestions for the Start of Your Day. I have been there!

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4-year-old girl shot dead by 3-year-old sister with semi-automatic pistol


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Stephen Sondheim’s Final Musical to Premiere Off-Broadway This Fall

Aaron Sorkin Reveals He Had a Stroke Last November: “A Loud Wake-Up Call”

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Please keep voting for the niece Rebecca Jade at the San Diego Music Awards in categories 20, 21, 25, 26, and 27. Also for Peter Sprague in category 4 for an album that features Rebecca.

Dry Bones – Delta Rhythm Boys.  A recent Old Testament scripture was Ezekiel 37:1-14. By coincidence, I was playing that week the soundtrack of the movie Rain Man, which included a version of Dry Bones by the Delta Rhythm Boys, though not precisely that take.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Festival Overture

Let It Burn from Paradise Square the Musical, featuring Tony Award Winner Joaquina Kalukango

Tchaikovsky’s Symphonic Fantasia, The Tempest

Life’s a F***ing Fantasy for Santos – Randy Rainbow

Coverville 1436: Cover Stories for Poison and Sugar Ray

Woody Woodpecker theme

Music from the Emerald Isle

What’s The Name of That Song from Sesame Street

Franz Von Suppe’s Light Calvary

Where would you be if you weren’t where you are?  

that “third place”

Jeanne Beanne, who I know IRL, asked some Ask Roger Anything questions.

Where would you be if you weren’t where you are?  

What a metaphysical query!

Several points in my life are, if not this, then that.  One was made for me, as I’ve mentioned. If my mother didn’t work outside the home at McLean’s in downtown Binghamton, NY, I would have gone to Oak Street Elementary School. So I wouldn’t have met Karen, Carol, Bill, Lois, Bernie, and others, with whom I went to Daniel Dickinson, then Binghamton Central HS, until seventh grade. It would have totally changed the dynamics of our relationships.

I wouldn’t have met Ray at Dickinson until seventh grade and likely wouldn’t have been in Cub Scouts, with Ray’s mom as our den mother. Probably, I wouldn’t have met Dave at all.

If I wasn’t watching JEOPARDY with my great-aunt Deana every day at noontime, I might not have become obsessed with the program so much that I tried out for the show in 1998, made the cut, and won a game.

If I hadn’t attended New Paltz college, I wouldn’t have met Mark, who turned me onto comic books. So we wouldn’t have gone to the Crystal Cave comic book store, where I met Raoul and Tom, who I would later work with at FantaCo in Albany. Also, Mark introduced me to the Okie.

The Wanderer

1977 was pretty chaotic. Still, I met friends Deborah in NYC and Judy in New Paltz. Judy and her friend Jendy would be pivotal in my going to library school at UAlbany in 1990.

And if Mark and MK52 had not moved to Schenectady, I wouldn’t have crashed with them there from December 1977 to  March 1978 and ended up working at the Schenectady Arts Council, whose offices were in the run-down Proctor’s Theatre.

If  I didn’t know Nancy at SAC, I wouldn’t have met Shazrak, with whom I moved to Albany, in 1979. In May 1980, I worked at FantaCo.

I’ve mentioned this before, but FantaCo was that “third place”  –  not just a retail store, mail order place, publisher, and comic book convention purveyor, but a gathering place of people interested in art, music, and popular culture. Besides Raoul and Tom, there was Mitch, Hank, Rocco, Marky, Augustus, Sinisa,  Mayor, Peter, and one other, who bears special mention.

I met artists and writers like Fred, Bill, Steve B, the Pinis, and members of the band Blotto. I’m still friends with at least one of the customers, ADD, and others still remember me from the place.

I met Debby through Mitch. She introduced me to lots of other people. Though she didn’t play, she was indirectly responsible for my playing racquetball from 1983 to 2010 at the YMCA, where I met even more folks.

Walter, a customer turned FantaCo employee, was even more of a person who interacted with many others, many of whom I know today. He was also the epicenter of the hearts game.


Being in Albany meant going to church in Albany and all the connections I made at church #1, then church #2. I wrote about the drama and trauma of leaving church #1  here.

I could write much more about other jobs and volunteer organizations and their impact.

Then there are the romantic relationships, which would take several book chapters. Suffice it to say that there were things said or left unsaid, things done or should have been done, that altered that trajectory in many ways.

Three things that manifested in your life that you did not expect.

Comic books, JEOPARDY, and being a librarian. Being a dad was a “well, maybe, if…” thing.

How have they changed your path? And purpose?

They’ve definitely changed my path. I don’t know that my purpose, which to be, for lack a better word, useful, has fundamentally changed, even when the circumstances did.

Coke or Pepsi?  Lol

Diet cherry Pepsi.

In praise of being late

Squeezing in “one more thing.”

I saw an article on the NPR website back in January. The title was In praise of being late: The upside of spurning the clock.

I have a complicated relationship with timeliness vs. tardiness. On one side, I HATE HATE HATE getting to an airport anywhere near late. I got to the airport less than 30 minutes before takeoff back in 2009; this caused considerable disruption. Back in the 1980s, my father took me to that very same airport, and I was literally running through the terminal as my name was being called over the loudspeaker. Did I mention that I HATE it?

Likewise, I like a time cushion when taking a train or even an intracity bus. Indeed, I’ve been known to lie to myself about the departure time.

I’ve attended a fair number of meetings in my time. When running them, I like to start on time, not so much for my sake as out of respect for others. Some people prefer to give some time to those who may be tardy. I’m even more impatient in ZOOM meetings; let’s finish this!


I had a job that did not involve the general public. So being five minutes late was of no real consequence. Yet one office character was quite fussy about it, ironic since she often left early. 

Generally, when I was late, I was tending to my daughter, or the bus was running late.

I understand that, after the office went remote when COVID hit, the hours became a bit more flexible.  It took a pandemic to do what I thought was common sense.

My household

The NPR article reads, “Are you, like me, chronically late? Do you squeeze in ‘one more thing’ before you leave home, only to lose track of time?” I used to say my wife was always late, and she’d insist that she was never late. The truth is somewhere in between.

When she was teaching, she was seldom tardy.  But if we were going to leave to go shopping, and she said we’re leaving at 2:30, we’d more than likely be going out the door at 2:45. Note that she set the time, not me, then fails to meet her own deadline. 

This used to irritate me, truth to tell, because she was/is one of those “one more thing” people. Now I pull out my phone and play backgammon or read a magazine until she is ready. 


I came across a 2014 NPR article entitled Running Late? Nah, Just On ‘CPT’.

“It’s hard to tell where this concept originated. But one of the earliest versions I came across was from a 1914 issue of the Chicago Defender, in a race-manners column penned by D.W. Johnson. And he clearly thought that adherents to CPT were, um, rude:

“If there is any fault among colored people that needs an immediate remedy, it is a lack of punctuality, to learn how necessary it is to be on time, to be prompt and punctual in their engagements, to meet on time at social and public gatherings. It is perfectly absurd that so many of our people, sometimes unconsciously and sometimes willfully, wholly disregard the important fact of punctuality. … We have in our method of gathering what is commonly called, in the vernacular of the street, ‘colored people’s time.’ “

But “If almost every community — Latinos and Irish folks and Indian-Americans and LGBT folks and West Indians and many, many others — have a cultural norm of not being perfectly on time — then shouldn’t arriving on time be the thing that gets its own special snowflake phrase? It seems, from people’s responses, that CPT is basically Everyone Standard Time — that early or punctual arrivers are the exceptions.”

Operating on different cultural clocks

In other words, some have argued: “punctuality is a social construct.” There are studies analyzing Cultural Norms Regarding Lateness for Meetings and Appointments. In international relations, these are important to understand. 

I can try to be more mellow about delays as long as it doesn’t involve scheduled transportation.

The birth of the hearts game

special house

My friend Walter wanted me to write about his former Albany dwelling. I won’t mention it by address to honor the current residents’ privacy. That house was the center of many people’s social life. Some out-of-town folks might come through Albany when he wasn’t home, stay there, and leave a  note. He often left the door unlocked or told people where to find the key.

That house was the birth of the hearts game I’ve been holding almost every year around my birthday. Back in 1987, and for about three years, a rotation of people played hearts in his kitchen roughly five days a week. This was regardless of whether he was present or not.

The cool thing about the house was that the bedroom upstairs was soundproof because of how it was constructed. Thus, PS, Walter’s wife, wasn’t disturbed by the noise downstairs. (PS was, and is, a saint.)

Almost no one entered the corner property’s front door, though. Most people came in via the porch in the back, where you could see the fruit trees.  The kitchen had a display case like in a retail store.  His comic book-related paraphernalia resided there.

The house was much larger than I realized, taking up three city lots. The time I recognized that fact was when Walter and PS moved. They had garage space for six vehicles.

Approximately 50 people helped them move over two days. I never even got to the new place, being too busy packing stuff into various cars and trucks. Later, Walter and PS made T-shirts for us movers with a picture of Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

And the card game went away.

The card game returneth

My wife asked me what I wanted to do for my 60th birthday. I said I wanted to have a hearts game at our house. I invited Walter, O. (who later lived in the house Walter and PS had lived in), some of the players from the day, and one or two others.

I held it every year until I was 63, when my wife suggested that weekend wasn’t good. But there was never a better weekend, so I’ve avoided postponing it. Even in 2020, I held a game on March 14.

In 2021, we did some online hearts thing plus ZOOM, which was… something. It didn’t happen in 2022, but it did in 2023. The forecast was dodgy, and some people didn’t make it, but we always had six players, with at least three people at the table.

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