Sacked by the "downturn", an unemployed architect touring the country in a bus...

I used to live in New York City. I designed homes for the tycoons of Wall Street; Park Avenue, Scarsdale, Greenwich. It was great fun. And, after years of saving up for a down payment, I was just about to buy my own little place in Fleetwood, half an hour north of the city, when the economy fell apart. Architects are like canaries in a coal mine when the economy slows, and true to form, there were massive layoffs in firms all over the country. Devastation of the profession. So, I decided to try to find something else to do for a while. I bought a 23' school bus and I'm on the road to see if I can figure out what that might be.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

More stuff

Josh and I will update the CAD drawings for the house project, to incorporate my designs, and we planned to give the files back to the architect of record, a big mucky muck here in Palo Alto.  But he reacted badly and e-mailed David that he wouldn't work with us and David must choose.  David choose us.  So now I have an architectural filing set to produce.  It's paid work!  Josh is an architect with California registration, so he'll seal the drawings.  I've also looked into what I need to do to get my NCARB certification recognized here; there is a California supplemental exam, for which I will need to do a bit of studying, and I need to pay some fees to NCARB, and catch up on continuing ed credits (listening to 36 hours of Marvin Windows lectures and the like, ugh..)  The process will take 6 months or so.  I'll get this in motion for the next project :-)
I met a friend of David's, Jim, who is well connected to the Stanford music department and who was very impressed with my keyboard.  He mentioned me to the head of the department, but he's to busy to take on another project now, as the Stanford summer jazz festival and workshops are just starting.  So Jim also mentioned me to the fella who runs the Stanford Monday night jams at the COHO, and who will watch out for me if I want to attend.  I'll do that tomorrow night.
I'm going to Massachusetts 7/8 to 7/31 to visit my sisters and attend M&B's music party.  I'll try to finish the vibraphone I built with B, and try to dipose of some of what I have in storage, and get a physical.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I've been doing some household repairs, like getting doors to work, and kitchen cabinet doors and drawers, too.  Biking and reading, and practicing vibes.  Played vibes w/fellow resident Jeff and two of his friends at the neighborhood block party.  Meeting folks in architecture/construction biz related through Josh, who will be building the project here.  I pitched in to help Josh meet his deadline for an open house marking the completion of his present project; I installed door hardware ($20/hr, woo,hoo!  Josh really appreciated the help.)  Went to the open house, too, and met a dozen folks in the local "green building movement" as they refer to themselves.  I produced two dimensioned floor plans for Dave and Hillary, which Josh will input to CAD.  We've met with a few HVAC folks to evaluate their approaches to the project.  I've been on a few bike and hike day trips with Harper, my 7 year old friend from here.  We pack a lunch of a couple of apples, some cheese slices, a couple of chicken sausages, and we bike about 5 miles or so to a little creek, with Harper showing me the way.  Then we explore the creek, perhaps 200 or 300 feet in one direction or the other, and have lunch.  Harper pokes stuff with sticks, we toss rocks, and slice apples with pocket knives.  It turns out we have similar wilderness skills.  Then we bike back.  I am nostalgic for the time I spent with my younger brother Jeff when he was Harper's age and I was a teen.  (Jeff is a remarkably kind and great guy, always was, with two daughters of his own, now.  I visited them at the beginning of my trip.  His wife Kate leaves comments here from time to time.  Hi Jeff, Hi Kate, Hi Meg, Hi Jenny!  :-)  I started helping Esperanza learn to read in the mornings here, now.  She's 24, from a small village in Guatemala, married to Clark, 39, from Florida, who went to South America to find a wife.  Esperanza wanted to see more of the world, has some courage, and jumped at the opportunity.  She speaks some English.  She's reading at about 2nd grade level, I'd say.  It's very moving to help her.  A fellow resident here said I was a mensch, but I think I get a lot out of it; so much of my angst this year comes from feeling devalued. 
I've really relaxed these last several weeks.  I don't know if I'll stay here, or in California, or return to Massachusetts, where M & B have recently again offered me welcome.  All I know is that I have made some peace and simply want to continue to be creative.  Sorry to be so brief.  There are many, many stories here, but I just can't focus here to get them down.  Maybe eventually, but not now...