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Tomten Inflation

The tomten market is making a comeback. I was looking at my Christmas Things wish list on Amazon last week, and lo and behold one of the tomtens I bookmarked last year for possible purchase this winter is listing at $100,030.00. Another is now going for $290,024.00.

(If you aren’t clear what a tomten is, they are, in a nutshell, short Scandinavian awesomeness in hats who take care of livestock and security on farms.)

Now, tomten prices took a dive when everything collapsed a few years ago, but, like many luxuries of high living, they’re back on the rise. How can I tell? Well, there’s no exchange category for tomtens, since barn gnomes are not a commodity tracked by the US Department of Agriculture or anyone else except children (whose calculations can be, admittedly, inconsistent).

(It would be an insult if there were a market for them, really, being practically human as they are. And God knows you don’t want to insult a tomten: although, like the Mormons, their reputation has recovered from sometimes questionable practices of the past (in their case, violence to local maidens, not marrying them), they are still testy when not provided with buttered porridge, so let’s just everyone keep things civil and accord them the respect they deserve.)

In the absence of official market tracking, my tomten rebound data is somewhat anecdotal but so striking I think it stands. A jump from $29 to $100K+ is noticeable.

At first I was shocked at the inflation, but after a moment I realized that this is an appropriate market correction. Tomtens are, when you get right down to it, live-in farm hands. While paying a nearly $300,000 salary for a day laborer may sound steep, keep in mind that tomten work at night as well. Also, they’re magic, and you can’t put a price on that, am I right?

Of course it’s possible that these prices aren’t reflective of the larger market as a whole but a glitch in a server in Amazon’s subbasement,  but I prefer to think that tomtens are finally getting their due: civil rights – and possibly unionization – have brought equal pay for equal work.

Unfortunately, this uptick in wages puts them squarely in the 1%, so they’ll see a lot of the tax breaks they recently started enjoying disappear in the coming fiscal year, but we all have to pay a little to get a little, and tomtens’ socialist Scandinavian roots will have toughened them to a 40% tax bracket.

For my part, I’ve been priced out of the tomten market for the time being. I could get some livestock for our yard so I can write off my tomten as a business expense, but I’ll need to run that by my accountant to confirm. And R. He’ll probably want to have a say in introducing a cow to our twelve square feet of grass. I’m sure he’ll be fine with it though. Who wouldn’t want a cow if you already have a gnome to take care of it? No one, that’s who. This is going to be an awesome Christmas.

The #$*(! Bird

Not the #$*(! bird. This is a normal chickadee. Note how quiet he is.

I am a city girl. Even when I haven’t lived in a city, I’ve been a city girl.

Don’t get me wrong: I can enjoy a beautiful sunset with the best of them, but please don’t ask me to do it from the doorway of a damp tent or while wearing a piece of clothing labeled “packable.” Or “quick-dry.” Or “bear tolerant.” I like my nature urban, preferably efficient and definitely law-abiding. And by “efficient,” I mean, “with paths,” and by “law-abiding,” I mean, “not violating noise ordinances.”

Case in point, the (*&$#! bird two doors down. Clearly unaware that the laws that apply to that ice cream truck that used to park in front of my place in Brooklyn apply to him too. Namely: you don’t get to park in front of my place in Brooklyn for an hour at a time playing the same fucking music over and over again.

I read a study a while ago where these noisologists  – I know that’s not what they’re called, but for the purposes of this conversation, let’s just go with it because I can’t find that article right now – were trying to find a place to record nothing. I don’t know why. They could have gotten one of those white noise machines if they felt like things were getting a little noisy, but I guess they must’ve had their reasons. They ended up going deep into some national park to see if they could record the sound of silence on tape. They couldn’t. They said it was the airlines or something, but that doesn’t sound like the whole story. I think it was one of these *&$#! birds.

He starts his yelling  birdsong as soon as the sun is up and, when I think to check, he’s still at it mid-afternoon. He must be trying to score. And he’s not that attractive, so I’m thinking he’s doing that thing where he hits on 1000 women so he can score once. Or maybe he scored once already and he’s just talking about it all the time now. Either way, super annoying.

(I assume the *&$#! bird is a him, although I haven’t personally confirmed it. I know some loud women, but it’s only guys – usually cyclists or snow sport fanatics – who a.) get up at some ungodly hour to go about their business, and b.) talk about what they’re about to do, what they’re doing, and what they just did  before, during and after. Most over-talking girls I know at least wait until brunch to get started.)

He’s selected the high ground for his exploits – the top of a tree on the top of a hill – which was a good call generally, but isn’t going to get the job done, if you know what I mean. This is a residential neighborhood. Not the kind of place you’re going to meet lots of available singles. Unless he’s looking to hook up with a baby or a plumber. There are a lot of both on our block. Which is weird. About the plumbers, I mean. Maybe they’re especially into having a view, what with the staring into pipes and what not all day. Anyway.

You’d think someone looking for a mate (or a one night stand – whichever – I’m not judging) would pick a higher traffic location, one with lots of people and maybe some liquor, but the closest bar isn’t for blocks and blocks. And it’s not a nice one either. It’s a kind of dive-y, well-drink-only place. Mostly guys who show up to start drinking at noon or stop in for the game. Unless the bird is gay and completely without standards, he’s going to be disappointed by those prospects even if he did head over there.

Not to say that he couldn’t be gay. And it’s fine if he is. But my impression of gay men is that they’re even choosier than women and those guys leaning on the doorframe at 2PM aren’t a lean, making-an-effort-at-Gold‘s breed, so if he is gay, he’s even farther off his mark than I already think he is.

There’s a coffee shop over by the bar. That’s a better target. Trendy. Crumb-dropping. That’s where he should be. Hitting on crabby, starved-looking hipster birds in skinny pants, languidly pretending they’re not interested in anything and listening to – let’s be honest – music that sounds like a slow-speed car crash of an untrained guitarist and an un-oiled baggage carousel.

But no, he’s over here, diving pointlessly up and down from the topmost branch of that tree, singing. And by “singing,” I mean, “repeating the same set of five-note variations 1000 times in a row.” It’s “singing” like a two year old’s tinkling the Fisher Price ivories is “piano playing.” And, unlike a two year old, he can’t be distracted from his efforts by cookies or jellybeans. I assume. Our snack shelf looks like Ronald Reagan and a Girl Scout had an illegitimate diabetic child that they left it in charge of our grocery shopping, but that bird sticks to his tree no matter how many treats get dropped on the way to the car or out in the yard.

I guess if I really wanted to see if he could be lured to decamp by snack food (or anything else – I’m open to suggestions), I could get a T-shirt cannon and fire a pack of Fig Netwons over to the tree.

Come to think of it, I could just get a T-shirt cannon and fire T-shirts over to the tree. A bird is no match for an all-cotton sphere with three decal wolves on it traveling at, I don’t know, 60 mph, right? (Is that how fast they go? Probably not, I guess, or concerts and morning shows would be a lot more like paintball. Which would be cool. I don’t know: 20mph?)

Judging by his current shenanigans though, he’s quick.

Also, while I’m urban, I’m not heartless: I don’t want him dead. Just gone.

Which sounds like the kind of thing you say over that prison phone thing that lets you talk to your hit man through the glass. “I’m not sayin’ I want him dead. God forbid, right? I’m not an animal… I’m just saying – hypothetically – if he did meet with an, um, unfortunate accident, I’m saying I wouldn’t be upset. God rest his soul. Not that I’m suggesting anything.”

It’s hard not to admire his tenacity though. I mean, he’s sticking with his obviously flawed plan every day for, like, eight hours. You have to admire that kind of ignorance of repeated failure, right? It takes a special kind of optimist to get up at the crack of dawn and make that kind of racket. He’s not showing up for his fail work bleary-eyed and sullen, keeping his head down and skipping meetings. No realistic assessments of his personal choices are going on over there. He’s all up on it, like one of those people who thinks every day is a great day when you know full well that statistically that can’t be true every day and you’re kind of braced for the day when they realize that and all those bad days come out in a torrent of tardiness and inappropriately pessimistic comments about this quarter’s planning, so you just kind of nod and keep your mouth shut about that bird that’s been driving you around the bend and, even though it’s nice to be right about things (even statistical ones), you  secretly hope you won’t be around when that one bad day comes. And that they’ll be all right in the end, of course, too. You know, with some therapy about getting in touch with their negative feelings and wearing more black or whatever. I don’t really know how that whole thing goes. I already wear a lot of black and no one mistakes me for an un-self-critical, meeting-attending optimist. (Even though I am. Really.) (OK, yes, I’m usually late for the meetings. And this bird thing is making me kind of nuts. But still: optimist. Underneath.)

Do you think they have bird therapists?

He’s not going to quiet down without that or a girl. More likely the girl, right? I don’t think I’ve ever been pulling more for the loud guy to hook up and head home already. I’ve always felt too bad for the woman who might end up being involved to really get behind his efforts. But there are girls who like that kind of thing though, so who am I to say it shouldn’t happen? Everyone needs their someone, right? So, *&$#! bird, here’s to you finding your someone. As soon as possible. Like yesterday. And don’t screw it up by mentioning your ex-girlfriend or how you’re an early riser. Girls just want you to be quiet for a minute and listen. Please.

The Goddam Glass Is Half Something

Pegu Club’s Goddam Glass

I’m bad at searching for very specific things on the internet. I know this because, after spending two hours making nice with Google and no headway in tracking down that quote from the movie we saw that one night when it was raining in 2004, I lose it, R. offers to help, and he finds what I was looking for in about 30 seconds. Which is infuriating. But he has really nice hair and I have what I was looking for, so I get over it.

I accept that I suck in this regard. What I don’t accept are actual physical stores and restaurants and whatever not knowing where they bought the actual physical stuff that is sitting right in front of me. They already found it and bought it for God’s sake. It’s not like I’m asking them to go track it down for me. They have a receipt for it somewhere. This is a totally different class of ineptitude than mine.

Here’s what I’m talking about: cocktail glasses. The goddam cocktail glasses I’ve been hunting down for five years now ever since I drank out of one of them at Pegu Club on Houston Street.

Honestly, I think if the Pegu Club hadn’t been so repeatedly clueless or obstructive or whatever it was, I might’ve forgotten about them by now. But no. After way too many, “I don’t know”s, from the staff, management sent me on TWO wild goose chases, one of them on a bitterly cold February afternoon down the Bowery, which was just mean. How can they not know where they bought their own stuff? I know where I bought my stuff. Especially stuff that I have a thousand of in racks behind my bar.

OK, you’re right: I don’t have a bar. And I don’t have 1000 of anything. But you take my point: I know where my goddam glasses came from.

I had to resort to stealing one of the goddam glasses.

Me. Crime. That’s what it came to.

I frame my crime like this: for a restaurant, stealing goddam glasses is the equivalent of office workers taking home Post Its. It’s wrong but, despite all the reports on white collar crime classifying lifting pens from the supply closet as out and out theft, I just can’t think of it in the same category as wheeling the Xerox machine out the back or selling stock tips.

I did it when I worked in an office. Taking Post Its, that is. A few. Not like crates of them out the loading bay or anything. I couldn’t manage that. I’m a terrible liar and I tend to run into things when I’m trying to be sneaky so I would make a super inept criminal. Which is sad because I like to be good at things.

But that’s not my point.

Beretta’s Almost the Goddam Glass

My point is, getting that goddam glass out of that bar took my whole evening – I was sweating like I was making off with the Mona Lisa – but I only feel a little bit bad about it: given the amount of time I’ve put in on this goddam glass hunt, I figured I kind of count as an employee and, as such, thievery of small breakable goods that clumsy patrons do in every night is within bounds. (I think. Maybe.)

Now that I have one of the goddam glasses at home, when I build my own glassblowing studio to make my own goddam glasses I will have a prototype on hand. Maybe I’ll get so good at it that Pegu Club will ask me to be their supplier. Which would be super ironic and totally pay for my new glassblowing studio. And by, “totally,” I mean, “not at all.” When the Pegu Club purchasing manager shows up, I’ll laugh maniacally and say, “No way, suckers! Don’t you remember that frigid February afternoon I spent walking up and down Bowery looking for that unnamed restaurant supply place you sent me to in 2007? You don’t? You’re new? Huh. Well, congratulations on the new job, I guess. This is awkward. You can still appreciate that payback’s a bitch, right? You can’t? Well, you’re young. And well-adjusted? All right. Do you want a glass of water? No? OK, well, I’m going to be over here by my Revenge Kiln, you let yourself out and we’ll both pretend this never happened, OK?”

I still don’t have those glasses. I can’t find them anywhere, including (but not surprisingly) on the internet. The closest I’ve come are some coupes from a company with the unfortunate but somehow appropriate considering my fruitless search name, Schott Zwiesel, which rhymes with “shot weasel” if you hadn’t already worked that out.

It’s very frustrating and I try not to think about it.

But that’s hard because now it’s happening again, only this time, it’s a pillow.

It started when I was pregnant. I had (more) money and (a lot more) time and a giant, giant pillow to share it with. Not one of those pregnancy body pillows that look like you killed someone who had scoliosis and showed poor judgment by disposing of the body in a pillowcase in your bedroom either.

My pillow wasn’t really a pillow at all. It was six feet of perfectly round foam encased in tasteful linen. Or flannel. Or one of those fabrics that tear and pill when I own them for more than ten minutes but always look great at spas. Which, in not much of a coincidence, is where I met my pillow.

And by “my” I mean “the spa’s.”

I should have learned from my goddam glass experience and just stolen it right away, but getting six feet of pillow out of the single exit right next to the front desk was more than my terrible, terrible crime skills could manage. I’ve been subconsciously missing that pillow for two years. (I have a permanently dislocated first rib and a two year old, so let’s just say that things don’t always stay where they belong. Like attached to my sternum.) When my physical therapist pulled out a shorter version of The Pillow two weeks ago, that shit was on. I unzipped the cover and the tag said, “Ikea.”

There was no chicken counting though. I could feel that chilly wind blowing in from the Bowery.

Man, was I right. So. Many. Fucking. Chickens. Ikea doesn’t make The Pillow anymore. And the internet is teeming with fake chickens asking to be counted, none of them the right one. Too short. Too narrow. Too fluffy. Too flat. It’s the goddam glass experience all over again.

After fruitlessly searching every massage supply, yoga and Pilates product web site in the world, I emailed Foam n’ More, a direct-to-the-trade foam supply company asking if their 36″ foam pillows were a.) hard like yoga rollers (concrete) or b.) soft like upholstery foam (your couch, my couch). This is what I got back:

Not my Goddam Pillows

“We have 2 different types of 36″ foam bolster. What dia are you looking for?”

No answer to my question, plus no description of the mysterious “2 different types.”

It took me half an hour to figure out that “dia” meant “diameter,” and less than a second to figure out that this was going to be a long, goddam-glass-like road lined with people working in manufacturing plants in Troy, Michigan, who wish we could kick off a nice long email chat to pass the time.

I’ll tell you who’s foamin’ more now: it’s me.

I drove back across town to my physical therapy studio, strode in among the limber clients, measured the pillow myself, and asked the owner where she thought I could look next since Ikea was a no go. She said, without equivocation, that she got it at this place on Folsom. Which she didn’t. She got it at Ikea. I know this because the goddam tag says so.

Instead of saying this, I waited politely while she Google’d the place on Folsom, clicked on the wrong link and started an online chat with a girl named Harmony about the length of a completely different pillow she had pulled up on a page which clearly stated the pillow’s length. Harmony didn’t seem to mind and took forever to collect the information. Another few minutes of back and forth about their physical store location (which they don’t have), and the owner realized her mistake and pulled up the address of the place on Folsom. Which, after I sped over there, turned out to be a seedy corner storefront with mostly blacked out windows on which you had to knock to be let in, at which point the “supply” part of their name was revealed to be a short hallway stacked with about nine products.

Split secondary realization: the Troy, Michiganians on the road ahead would be joined by zen’d out but unhelpful yoga supply company staff with names like Harmony and Chives.

I called the spa where I first met The Pillow. Harmony II took my name and number to give to their purchasing manager who would definitely call me back on Monday. She didn’t call back. Like the hardboiled PI who can hear the faint whistle of the blackjack before it hits him from behind, I saw that coming.

Several days and another phone call later, the spa assured me they got The Pillow from “Massage Warehouse” sounds like a cover for a human trafficking operation working out of a hanger in Hoboken, but I check it out anyway. Naturally, Massage Warehouse has no such product. (Also, no young girls from south Asia toiling in the back, so that’s slightly better news.)

After a few nights spent fruitlessly bonding with Google over The Pillow, I reached my goddam glass limit. I drove to Ikea and bought an inferior Half the Pillow for $15.

I don’t know how we’re going to fit a foam manufacturing plant in the backyard what with the Revenge Kiln and the azaleas, but I’ll tell you what: this is happening. I can only take so much.

This Old House

You know that scene in horror movies where the idiot family who moved into the weirdly perfect house that inexplicably wouldn’t sell for years realizes officially that their place is damned? I don’t because I can’t watch horror movies and ever sleep again. But I assume that’s how it goes because I accidentally see the occasional preview. That’s what happens, right?

Well, on the anniversary of our moving into our very first house, that’s how it’s looking for us.

Except that I suspected something was wrong with the house – you know: on principle – before we bought it, so I haven’t been caught off guard like the Idiot Family. (Let’s hear it for paranoid low expectations!)

And it’s not haunted. And all in all it’s a pretty nice house.

But it does have

  • A 100% half-assed heating system (if that’s mathematically and physiologically possible)
  • A stove that was a.) mysteriously not updated when the rest of the kitchen was, and b.) periodically and without provocation stops working in a non-reproducible way.
  • Something in or around it that causes our eyes to itch and water most days.

So it’s not really like those horror houses at all. Except that it’s a house. And that last thing about our eyes. That’s weird, right?

It’s not like, “Aargh, I have a knife and live in your wall!” homicidal weird, but it is creeping weird. Like, “How can I need eye drops when I’m not allergic to anything and this never happened at our old place fourteen blocks over?” weird. Which is a pretty specialized category of weird. But then your walls melting in one of those horror movies is also a pretty special category of weird, right? So here we are:  the “something sinister and eye-irritating lives in our air” thing + my totally normal, not at all paranoid suspicions = SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THIS HOUSE.

I wonder if we live on a radon fountain or if the ducts are lined with asbestos or if the place was built on some werewolf burial ground. I wonder if the previous family moved because they knew all these things and they stopped emailing me not because I wouldn’t quit asking very, very politely worded things about what the hell became of the keys to the back door if there ever were any, please? but because they knew about the radon fountain. I wonder these things OFTEN.

If there were a WebMD for houses, I would be on there all the time. I think our house has rickets. That’s a thing, right?

Tool Time

I’m handy.

Correction: I believe I am handy. I have an uncharacteristic can-do attitude when it comes to doing things that I believe I know something about, which includes pretty much everything to do with the house and our garden.

Just to be perfectly up front, this confidence is probably misplaced.

It’s not like I’m some sitcom husband, making disastrous and not very hilarious mistakes in the process of proving my spouse to be correctly exasperated with what an idiot I am for, say, trying to fix the back steps with a watering can and a table saw. I’ve seen most of the stuff I’m trying to do get done. My parents did major construction on all of our houses, much of it themselves, so I’ve witnessed concrete footers being poured, landscapes being leveled, and sheetrock being put up with nail guns. I helped roof my first house when I was eight, which, now that I mention it, was probably not age-appropriate. To be fair to my parents, I don’t think our house or any of the roofing products had any labels like A.’s toys that said, “3+ years,” or, in this case, “16+ years.” Maybe the house’s label was on the bottom. That’s usually where it is. I can see how they missed it.

All this exposure to handiness gave me the impression that a.) all this stuff was possible to do with minimal assistance from professionals, and b.) I was equal to the task.

Both of these impressions are more or less wrong.

Just because my parents didn’t hire professionals didn’t mean the job was getting done right or efficiently, but who was I to judge? I was six and constructing complicated mud pies in the dig area, and then twelve with an impressive backhoe in my backyard, and then fourteen with my dad headed to the emergency room for accidentally cutting the back of his hand open with a chainsaw. That shit is distracting for quality control.

And on that second point, in case you never tried jumping off a tiny platform two stories up to catch a narrow swinging trapeze bar, seeing something isn’t the same as doing it. It wasn’t like I was taking notes when I was eleven and pouring cupfuls of granulated insulation down into the cement block walls of our new basement (which, incidentally, was holy God freezing all the time, so let’s just assess how that all worked out).

What I’m getting at is that not all my This Old House undertakings end with the quick, clean success I came to expect from a childhood foundation of witnessing DIY, mostly unfinished construction jobs. Fancy that.

Most of my projects take considerably longer than I expect, require knowledge that I don’t have, and would be a lot easier with tools that I don’t own. Hence our $800 water bill the first month we lived in our new house: I know how to fix a running toilet! Of course I do! We had an antique one at House #2! Ha ha – you silly house owners without my knowledge, having to call a plumber and pay him all your money! I will fix this myself with only the plumber’s tape that I, the construction-literate genius that I am, just happen to have lying around! It’s as if I were a professional contractor! What’s that you say? $800? For spending the month getting all pruney in my bath of superiority instead of calling a plumber for a fraction of that cost? No one needs to hear from you Mr. Know It All. There’s no need to take a tone with me.

So that happened.

The latest Fix Me! incident was a giant tree branch half snapping off our tree in a storm oh, about two months ago. My noticing and assessment of the situation was like lightning. My subsequent trying to pull it down with brute force and calculated leverage was unsuccessful and could very nearly have led to a head wound. Oh yeah: I forgot to mention in my catalog of misjudgments that I often get hurt. R. usually predicts this and warns against it, but he clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about because he only has a PhD and no background watching grown-ups do construction work while climbing on a nearby jungle gym.

After a few weeks, I borrowed the right tool to cut down the branch. Great success. Then it lay in the yard for a month because I didn’t have the other right tool to cut it up into pieces that the compost guy would pick up in our bin. I needed a saw. Like the saw I have used every year to hack at the base of our Christmas tree because I refused to invest in a Christmas tree stand big enough for the giant tree I select every year. (What? Christmas is awesome. Back off.)

Our tree to stand ratio is like the older men with half-shaded glasses who work on used car lots: super rotund in the middle, tapering down to skinny little legs and thin shoes on the bottom. The last year I whittled our tree’s stump down to the size of a toothpick, I was six months pregnant, out on our freezing and wet deck and R. was away on a business trip, before which I had 100% totally promised him I would not try to put the tree up by myself. I don’t know why he believed me. I’m a terrible liar.

We got a bigger stand after that. But I needed that Christmas tree saw to deal with this giant tree branch. It was about fourteen feet long with half a dozen sturdy side branches coming off it. I couldn’t find the saw though, probably because my search was hampered by the fact that I didn’t really want to find it. If slimming down a Christmas tree trunk took an hour, all my strength and most of my holiday patience to get the job done, this tree branch + that saw was going to = me sawing off my ankle or something. I needed a new saw.

Two minutes in the saw aisle at Home Depot with Wikipedia up on my iPhone informed me that we had been using a hack saw designed for cutting narrow plastic pipes to take big slabs out of a pine tree trunk. Huh. Well that explains that. Maybe this year we should select a tree with a narrow plastic pipe running up through it. That’s the correct takeaway from the situation, right?

Let’s just say that all’s well that ends well. Instead of replacing our hard-working hack saw, I purchased a hand saw which is what we needed all along. It worked really well. The tree branch is gone. So just shut up about it taking five Christmases worth of blisters and sweat, plus two months of half a tree splayed out in our tiny yard for me to figure out which $14 saw I needed. I got the job done. So yeah, I’m handy.

A New Low?

I know it doesn’t mean much to your day, but getting our pot rack hooked up to our ceiling has meant a lot to the OCD gnome on my shoulder who has been breathing heavily every time he sees the pots and pans stacked on top of each other’s non-stick surfaces because they have nowhere else to go. I know my gnome could be spending his energy elsewhere – like on reorganizing the dryer lint – but there was no convincing him, so we finally put up the pot rack.

In the process of hanging it, we uncovered further evidence that our house’s skeleton was put together by a crack addict. There is no clear pattern of studs in the walls or ceilings: the stud finders we’ve used (all three of them) indicate that the “crossbeams” start and stop at random. Which means the house might come down at any moment. I either try not to think about this threat, or, when I do, I channel my anxiety into getting excited about the quirky and unknown nature of the future. Ha ha. Ha. Hmmm.

Anyway, tracking down the half-beams to sink the pot rack’s screws into meant making a lot of pencil marks on the ceiling. The gnome, pleased as he is about the rack, is a little irritated by the marks. Erasing them however required a.) an eraser which might or might not be somewhere in R’s very cluttered office upstairs, and b.) some time standing on a stool.

Two steps seemed like a lot.

I know. Don’t even. I have a small child and a lot of competition for my time so just back up on off me. We’re not even at the worst part yet, so save some energy.

I didn’t erase the marks.

Instead, a few days later, when I was in a 5&10 type store, get this: I bought an eraser. Yes, I was that daunted by the prospect of possibly fruitlessly climbing a flight of stairs and spending two and a half minutes tracking down the eraser we probably already have, that I paid a bored clerk 99 cents to give me another one.

And you know what? I think that was a brilliant solution to my problem. It was worth every one of those 99 pennies.

Well, until it didn’t work on the pencil marks at all, that is.

I can feel you and the gnome judging me for my $1 solution to my tiny problem, but I’m still not ashamed.

So now we’re back to square one of the new, not-at-all improved process: a.) drive back to the 5&10 and find a different eraser which might or might not work, b.) give them money for it, and c.) spend some more time on a stool.

No, it hasn’t occurred to me to go upstairs and find that eraser we already have. Just be quiet.

I don’t know if this is going to happen. I wouldn’t get your hopes up. Maybe you and the gnome should go get a stiff drink and check back later.

The World Series – It’s All About Me

world_series.jpgThat said, the World Series is the latest worst thing to happen to us re: our delayed move. (We own our new house as of today, but the old owners have until November 30 to move out, sadly for us.)

One of the big down sides to our current place, aside from the size and the outside noise, is the inside noise. We’re on the top floor but, due to some engineering oddity, hear everything that goes on in the apartment below us.

Every alternate tenant has been fine. The problem couple a few years ago was a girl and her 250-lb. boyfriend who owned a local bar and would bring that night’s band back to the apartment at 2AM for an impromptu, drunk jam session. I can’t imagine why we had a problem with that. After he threatened me one night when I complained, our landlady shook their lease at them and they piped down. Kind of. Sometimes. Eventually they moved out, but not before they started a successful company that makes waffle batter in aerosol cans. I don’t like to talk about that.

The couple after that was perfect. She was a yoga instructor and he was a landscape designer. We never heard anything. Ever. I don’t think they spoke to each other. Which worked out well for us but probably contributed to them breaking up a year later and moving out. Remember children: communication matters.

The latest couple introduced themselves to the building by setting up their stereo first thing and moving in to a throbbing beat at ear-shattering volume with their front door open. That spells Trouble, with a capital T, which rhymes with P and stands for “Phuck you.”

They’re friendly and pretty responsive but still a regular noise nuisance. We have a truce that they shut it off at 11PM, which they do 98 times out of 100, but when you’re up three times a night with a baby, sometimes you want to go to bed at 8:30, which you can’t when their thrice-weekly dinner/furniture rearranging parties are in progress.

I’m guessing that they’re in their late 20’s, not malicious or aggressive but doing what people in their late 20’s do, namely being oblivious. R. reminds me regularly that we used to be them, waking our 40-something upstairs neighbor regularly at my old apartment across town. He’s right, of course, but his rightness just makes me a tad more irritated, not less (as true but inconvenient-to-my-present-argument statements often can).

Here’s my point: just because they don’t mean to upset me and little A., just because it’s an intention-less crime, doesn’t make it not a crime, right? Don’t they watch Law & Order? I’m not saying it’s murder noise – it’s manslaughter noise. But you still go to jail for manslaughter, right? Not that they should go to jail. Just their stereo. And maybe all their furniture, which apparently just can’t stay in one place.

Which brings us to the World Series. (See? I get there eventually.) They’re sports fans, these rowdy neighbors of ours. Which relieves us of the necessity of watching any of the World Series games because every time the Giants get a run, the floor heaves with their cheering. Keeps us abreast of the home team’s progress and makes sure no one up here settles in for a quiet evening at home. Which, you know, keeps our civic pride alive. And keeps any nostalgia that might be setting in about our cute little studio apartment firmly at bay. *sigh* That’s a good thing, right? So now I’m just tense about moving to a bigger place and not being settled in in time for a cozy Christmas and I can’t wait to vacate our current place. Maybe we should just rent an RV and park outside our new house until the current tenants (previously the owners) get creeped out and move out more quickly. I think that’d be a lovely way to kick things off with our new neighbors, don’t you?