Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Be Our Guest

My husband and I live in a one bedroom condo in downtown Denver with a single parking space. Our second car, a 1992 Subaru, sits in the street.

This car looks like it has been through Armageddon. It's 18 years old, has chipped gold paint, massive dents, ripped upholstery, and rust damage. The car has no hubcaps, locks, or seat belts. My husband walks to work and I drive the first car, so we hardly ever use it- only on the occasional weekend. We named the car 'Piggy' because it's in such bad shape and is trashed. But we keep her because she's been paid off for more then a decade and really, has become a member of the family.

"I think a vagabond is living in Piggy," my husband announced one day after coming home from work and slamming the front door behind him.
"Come again?" I was sitting on the couch, perusing US Weekly (Spencer and Heidi divorced!) and drinking a glass (bottle) of white wine.
"I found some empty bottles of Jack Daniel's in the front seat of the car," he replied.
"Those are mine."
My husband adjusted his glasses and continued. "I also found an old sleeping bag, some men's shirts, and a pair of shoes."
"Oh wow," I said, intrigued. "A homeless person moved into our car?!? We're landlords!"

My mind raced as I thought of all the possibilities. Like, could we charge rent? Is our new tenant going to put a bag of ice in the glove compartment and call it a refrigerator? If we had to use the car, could he sit in the backseat and wrap his arms around the driver, thus saving us the expense of having to replace the seat belts?

"A vagabond is living in my car!" I excitedly announced the next day at work. I loved saying the word 'vagabond'. It was 100 times more sophisticated than 'homeless person', 'hobo', or 'crack head'.
"Oh..." my coworker Stephanie, cooed in awe. "Are you going to call the police?"
Of course I wasn't going to call the police. First of all, Piggy doesn't even have locks on her, so it's not really 'breaking and entering'. And secondly, having a hobo live in my car is.....fucking awesome. I would be the talk of the town for weeks!

I left bottled water and sandwiches in Piggy for my tenant, eager to make his stay more comfortable. We made sure to never drive or move the car, as we would be taking his personal belongings with us. I just kept hoping I would run into him, but never did- we just found traces of his existence. A few paperback novels would show up in the backseat, a pile of peanuts would appear on the dashboard, and at one point our car battery died when he left the lights on in the car.
"I had to jump Piggy because our vagabond left the dome light on," my husband grumbled one day.
"He is so absentminded, our vagabond," I said, fondly. "I hope he enjoys that organic raspberry cheesecake I left in the trunk for him."

Eventually, to my dismay, our vagabond moved out. I was horrified when I stopped by his place, opened the car door, and found his clothes and shoes gone.
"He moved out!" I sobbed to my husband that evening.
"What! Our front seats fully recline!" My husband shouted indignantly. "Did he find a fancier vehicle to squat in?"
"Our neighbors have a 2002 Outback," I pointed out. "Maybe he moved into theirs."
"I really didn't take him for a snob," my husband said, insulated.

I really do miss our tenant, and would love to invite him over to our car for some coffee sometime. I just wish I could find the license plate he lives at. Sigh.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lawn Care

When my sister and I were in elementary school, my dad decided that he was done dealing with the lawn.

Now for my parents,'dealing' with the lawn meant mowing it three times a year and praying for rainfall so they didn't have to drag the hose out from the garage. Our yard was dry in some parts, overgrown in others. At one point my little sister fell asleep in a patch of grass about two feet high, and we had to call the police because we thought she was abducted. Four hours later she stumbled sleepy-eyed into the house, and Dad goes, "Damn, I should really cut that grass."

There was also the issue with the animal graveyard. Half the lawn was covered in graves from our long dead friends, like Stephen King's Pet Cemetery. The tombstones were laid out side by side, the names of our former animals listed on them- Goldie, Muffin, Felicia, Pinky- god, did we always name our pets after prostitutes? It was like looking at a porn star lineup.

My parents claimed that they were going to just cover the entire yard in bark and forget about it, and two weeks later the trucks came in and dropped enough bark in our backyard to fill about eighteen dumpsters. It covered everything- the pet cemetery, the grass, the half-dead bushes. Our backyard was basically bark with a fence around it.

We had the red bark, so when it rained, the color would leak into the front of the house, staining the entire sidewalk with what resembled blood. It was like something out of The Shining. The bark was real soft, too- my sister and I could jump in it, play in it, roll around in it- honestly, it was like living in a gerbil cage. My parents would leave bottles of water and pellets of food next to the bark so that we wouldn't come into the house. For anything.
"Just cover your poo up with the bark," my mom said, after explaining to us to just shit in the bark and than cover it up with- more bark. There was so much bark that you could hide anything in it- excrement, toys, dead bodies, whatever.

I don't think the neighbors liked it very much, but really- would you want to look at a pile of pencil shavings everyday on your way to work? I didn't blame them, really. I mean, can you image if somebody had accidentally thrown a cigarette butt on my parent's lawn? The entire neighborhood would have gone up like it had been firebombed. Our house had more kindling than the Boy Scouts.

My parents still live in that house and the bark is still there- a little weathered, yes- but still there. Along with the carcass of my dead cat, Felicia, of course.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lights Out

A few days ago we had a power outage in our building, and my husband and I were without electricity for about 24 hours.

It was complete mayhem.

About 20 seconds before we lost our electricity, I had every light in the condo on, was running the blender to make a banana-mango smoothie, heating up my flatiron, listening to the radio, and cruising the Internet for topless pictures of Taylor Lautner.

And, suddenly- there was silence. And dark.

"Honey?" I said into the blackness. "Where are you?! Dear god- I think- I think we lost power! I can't see you!"
"I'm sitting six inches from you at the kitchen table," he said, munching on a bowl of cereal. "We're in a 600 square foot condo and it's like, one o'clock in the afternoon. You're hardly blind, sweetie."
"Oh my god!" I screeched. "We're going to DIE!"
"It'll turn back on in about 30 seconds," my husband said.

But he was wrong. 2 hours later, we were still without electricity, and I was hysterical.
"My hair- it's frizzing out! The flatiron doesn't work! I can't get onto my favorite Hollywood gossip website- and how are we going to eat?!" I had a point there. The food in the non-working fridge was going rotten.
"I guess we'll just have to eat whatever is in the pantry," my husband said.
"God! It's a fucking Apocalypse!!" I screamed, and fell to my knees. "Why, god, why us?! Why now!?"

That night, I had to wash the dishes, by hand.
"What is this, Little House on the fucking Prairie?!" I sobbed, my perfectly-manicured hands immersed in hot suds. "How did people live like this?"
"We'll be fine," my husband assured me, while he scraped down a piece of wood with a pocket knife.
"Are you whittling?"
"Sure am. I'm carving out a little wooden creature. I think it's going to be a mouse- should look nice on the mantle."
"What is happening to us?!" I screeched, the water in the sink scorching my soft hands.

That evening, as I worked on my needlepoint by candlelight and gently swayed back and forth in my rocking chair, I couldn't help but admire the simplicity of the lifestyle they had back in the day. I sighed contently. "Remember, Pa, when we used to be slaves to our cell phones, computers, and the information age?"
"You mean this morning?" Pa asked from his desk, dipping his feather into its inkwell. He was writing poetry now, and I was extremely proud of him. "It is nicer," he mused, leaning back in his chair and running his fingers through his suspenders. "I'm enjoying this power outage." He glanced over at me. "And you made the best darn Cornmeal Mush and Bean Porridge tonight that I ever did have the pleasure of eatin', Ma," he said to me with a wink.
"Oh, Pa." I blushed up to my ears. He just might get a look at my petticoats tonight!

The next morning, as I was frying potato cakes over the fireplace and Pa was oiling up his boots, the lights flickered, and then came on. We looked as each other in astonishment.
"The power...it's back on," Pa said, astonished.

Darn it. Guess I'm going to have to wait to finish that needlepoint pillow until the next Apocalypse.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Time for Dinner

I was hanging out with my friend, who I'll call Jen, (because that's her name) and she was talking about her days in college. She mentioned a friend in her sorority who used to be bulimic, and then Jen mused, "but hey- what girl hasn't had an eating disorder at one point in her life?"

I thought- so true, Jen- so true.

Eating disorders and women go together like peanut butter and jelly- thrown up, of course. I've seen it all- anorexia, bulimia, laxative abuse, over-exercising, crash diets, pill popping-and even....cotton balls.

"I'm going to leave you here for about 30 minutes while the color sets," my hairdresser said to me at my favorite salon. I was settled under a hair dryer, flipping through a magazine and getting my roots touched up.
"My friend is coming over with lunch," my hairdresser continued, as a girl walked into the salon with a brown paper bag. "Oh, there she is now!"
My confusion turned to horror as my hairdresser and her friend pulled cotton balls and some apple juice out of the lunch sack, dipped the cotton balls into the juice, and then swallowed them whole.
She glanced over at me watching them, my jaw on the floor, and said- "Oh, the cotton balls- they expand in your stomach and you don't get hungry. I've lost like, ten pounds doing this."
A million thoughts raced through my head- if you have cotton balls for lunch, can you shit a quilt? And what's for dinner? Q-tips?
My jaw re-attached itself to my face and, thinking about her ten-pound loss, I asked- "can I have one?"

My one girlfriend in college was a full-blown bulimic, and even though her teeth started turning yellow from the stomach acid exposure- I couldn't help but admire her 115 lb. frame.
"She's reeks like puke," my other friend whispered to me.
"I know- but she looks great," I replied, envious.

A couple of times I've attempted to have an eating disorder and failed- like when I try to go without eating for a day to 'drop a pound or two', and then around 10pm that night I'm face-down in a frozen pizza, too hungry to wait and properly cook it in the oven.
"That's disgusting," my husband said, watching me gum the ice off a piece of pepperoni.
"I'm fucking STARVING!" I scream, my eyes rolled into the back of my head, crouched on the floor of our kitchen, hovered over the frozen pizza like a panther after a fresh kill. "Leave me ALONE!"

I could sit here and blame the media, supermodels, and society for our eating disorders- but really, I think women majorly bond over our fight with food, and maybe, a little bit- secretly enjoy it. We bitch with each other over spinning classes and our cabbage diet- and connect with each other in a way men cannot.

Pass the cotton balls- I've got a pool party to attend this weekend.