Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Village That Lives Above Me

The Village That Lives Above Me

What drew me to my current residence (Some of my mail still comes to “Or Current Resident”, and makes me feel somewhat transitory) was that for as low as the rent was, the place was (and incidentally, still is) HUGE. I also loved the shotgun house layout, hardwood floors, arched dining room entry and double stained glass windows in the living room. It also had a washer and dryer in the basement that I had access to so I did not have to sit in a room once a week eating Cheetos and reading a magazine while waiting for some stranger’s soiled underwear to get through the spin cycle.

I didn’t even look at any other apartments because once I find something I like and can afford I’m over the whole shopping thing. I knew I wasn’t going to find anything cheaper and closer to my favorite St. Louis haunts. I’m ten minutes away from every tourist attraction that I thought I would go to all the time but in reality rarely visit. I snatched it up before someone else got MY apartment.

What I learned right away was that I was in a very nun-centric neighborhood. I had one living above me, one living beside me and a whole gaggle of them around the corner. I even had an Ex-Nun-Creepy-Lesbian Stalker at one point but that’s another story for another day. Quickly I met a few of the neighbors along the street and found them all to be perfectly pleasant.

My building is a four family, probably built in the nineteen-fifties.  Sharing the first floor with me was this nice young Mexican couple with a cute little baby and another one on the way. Above them was a young single black woman who worked the third shift and was really quiet. My home life was pretty peaceful.

Until the black woman moved out.

And then the nun moved out.

This all happened in a fairly short time period. When the black woman moved out The Mexican Frat Boys moved into that apartment . The apartment above me stayed vacant for a long time, which meant that not only could I do my laundry (still eating Cheetos of course)  while catching up on past seasons of Reba but I could run downstairs and throw in the clothes THAT I WAS WEARING so that I would literally for one day, have no dirty laundry. This meant trekking back upstairs naked. I’m not above it.

When TMFB moved in, chaos ensued. There was always loud music playing with a tuba thumping so heartily that it vibrated my sternum. There were parties at least every weekend, which meant that my backyard was filled with lots of chatty people (which wouldn’t bug me so much if I could at least understand the language enough to eavesdrop) tons of greasy barbecues (which wouldn’t bug me so much if I couldn’t smell it or was at least offered a burger) tons of beer bottles and cans left in the backyard (which will always bug me but would bug me less if they weren’t filled with pee because someone was too lazy to go upstairs to do their business) and tons of loud sternum-thumping tunes (which wouldn’t bug me if the speakers weren’t right under my bedroom window and didn’t bellow until four AM.)

The little family on my floor moved out shortly after the baby was born. TMFB, who actually aren’t frat boys at all but work at a bakery, started meeting women. And falling in love (or at least getting women pregnant.) And moving the women in. At one point I lost track of how many people lived up there until I noticed that my landlord was doing some kind of construction above me.

One day, while doing laundry, (fully clothed for some reason) I looked up the stairs leading to the empty apartment and noticed that the door was open. So up I went. He was turning their dining room into a second bedroom. Shortly before it was completed he stopped by and I asked him about it.

“The guys next door (TMFB) had six people living in a one bedroom and I told them they couldn’t do that. One of the girls is pregnant so they’re moving over here. I’m converting the apartment so that they have a room for the baby.”

Oh, good a baby…living above me….who will probably wheel around in one of those walker things and then begin to take awkward little-drunk-person-like stomps all over my ceiling. Yay.

But I met the couple and they were very, very nice. And I could deal with a few parties now and then, which seemed to have slowed down. (My theory is that the nice little couple that lived downstairs was funding the booze and the beef and when they left, TMFB were too poor to finance the fiestas.)

But then about six or seven months ago, I noticed that it was beginning to be a lot harder to find a parking space in front of my apartment because of all of the SUVs parked there.

And then I noticed a lot more strangers coming and going from both upstairs apartments.

And then I noticed a stranger bearing groceries to the family above me.

And then I noticed a lot of scuffling shoes along the floors above me at all hours.

And then I noticed a strange woman doing her laundry downstairs.

And then I noticed a dead heroin addict on my front porch.

Wait. I should stop here for a minute. The dead heroin addict has nothing to do with the Village, but one day I heard a commotion on the front porch, looked out there and saw paramedics working on a gray-faced young man while a skinny caved-in cheeked girl screamed,

“He said he couldn’t breathe! He was having an asthma attack and came out here for air!”


I watched as the paramedics wheeled the blue man away. Then I had to go to a meeting. When I came back, the police knocked at my door and asked me about the neighbors and told me that someone had overdosed on heroin there. These people were shortly evicted.

Things seemed to be calm for a while. A young guy moved in the apartment beside me and other than a wafting smell of stale marijuana every now and then, he’s a good neighbor. I had peace again.

Until another member of TMFB got involved with a woman with two children, a girl who was probably eight and a boy who looks to be about six. They moved in immediately. Despite housing laws, I thought I could deal with the village if they were quiet.

And if their offspring found other forms of entertainment besides standing with their hands over their eyes, noses pressed to the front door, peering into my apartment, encouraging Yadi to bark.

The first time they did this, I chalked it up to curiosity and found it sort of endearing. By the third day it was all I could do to keep from smacking the screen with my hand sending the children flying off into the front bushes, which incidentally, TMFB use as their personal trash can and ash tray.

This invasion of my privacy called for a nasty letter to the landlord. I made sure to let him know who he was dealing with by throwing in buzzwords such as “zoning laws” and “occupancy” and “leering midgets” and  “there are at least eleven people living above me and one is now learning to play trumpet right below my bedroom window which sounds more like a wounded goose trying to mate than any music I have ever heard.”

My apartment building SHOULD be able to house 9 people. At one point, I know for sure that it was housing 11 in the upstairs apartments alone. The Village.  I began to count cars. I have a car. The guy on my floor takes the bus. There are NINE other cars associated with this building. The Village.

After the letter and a few short, snark-filled phone calls, the peeping toms have stopped. The Village, however, remains.  Over the course of the last two months, I have seen and heard less of the Leering Midgets. The mother must have been reprimanded. She was doing so well at keeping them corralled upstairs on the balcony or in the backyard, where she had set up a wading pool for them under a tent that stayed up for a week then blew down in a heavy storm and where it lay like a crumpled spider for two more weeks before they finally lugged it over to double as a grill cover.

Please note that I said “was.”

Yesterday, I heard the chitter-chatter of tiny voices and saw a rusty, raggedy blue very-familiar truck loaded down with trash bags full of clothes, a dresser, a night stand and other various “someone’s moving” pieces.  I peeked out the front and saw a man talking on his cell and I hoped against all hope that he was calling for someone to help him move OUT.

But alas, no.

I watched, downhearted, as he carried his white trash bags of worldly possessions up the stairs and BACK into TMFB’s apartment.

I have officially lost count of the Village. I have also lost track of how many calls I have made to the landlord. But I haven’t lost my Citizen’s Complaint Bureau phone number (which is stored discreetly in my phone) And if I hear so much as one trumpet blast I’m speed dialing.

Times are tough for us all. But you don’t see me throwing a blanket up between my living and dining room and calling it a two bedroom flat. This just doesn’t work. I watched Who’s the Boss, I know. Someone will always catch a glimpse of someone naked in the shower.

And then I will have fourteen more peeping toms to deal with.


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Public Bathrooms

Public Bathrooms

Public bathrooms unhinge me a tad.  Unless absolutely necessary, I do not use them. There are just too many variables, too many moving parts in the machine of a public restroom that can mutate a basic human necessity into a bad experience. Let me clarify before I move on that I am talking (in strictly clinical terms, of course) about Going Number “1” and not Number “2” because that deserves its own day in court.

The thought of all of the germs and pieces of unknown material on the floors of the bathroom present the first possible problem. And as I found out yesterday in Super Wal-Mart, this fear is amplified when I wear sandals. I didn’t plan the right footwear for an outing into a public washroom so my feet were navigating around sanitary napkins, pieces of toilet paper and unidentifiable (and I will gladly leave these bits unidentified) strewn objects. And while no one will give you a second glance if you use HAND sanitizer when you’re leaving the lou, they will absofruitly rubberneck if they see you sit down on the bench outside of the bathroom and slather anti-bacterial gel on your feet.

My biggest fear of going into a public restroom is that I will find a dead body in one of the stalls. While I don’t know the statistics on the likelihood of this happening, it’s always in the forefront of my mind. It doesn’t matter that the bathroom is in a Super Wal-Mart in St. Louis and that there is heavy traffic in and out of the lavatory all day, I am always scared that I will happen to walk in right after the death has occurred and will then have to deal with the aftermath. And whilst I have given this fear a lot of mental energy, I have not contemplated what I will do the day it actually happens.

The next decision is the stall.  I always go to the stall that is closest to the bathroom’s entrance because I read somewhere (once, so of course I never forgot it) that statistically the first stall is always the cleanest because it gets the least traffic. What the stats don’t show is that this stall is also the one that ALWAYS has a little nub of lingering poo floating around in it. It really is a disgusting thing to behold but unless there is a line forming, it doesn’t pose a huge problem. I just enter, notice the poo and then immediately do that little u-turn that you do when you either:

 a) Observe lingering poo in the bowl


b) See that the toilet is completely filled with what looks like clean toilet paper but is definitely hiding something underneath that WON’T flush and that you don’t want to be blamed for.

So once I’ve secured a stall, I look for a place to hang my journey bag (Read: purse but less girly, more of a rucksack) because I do not want ANY PART of my bag touching ANY PART of the floor at ANY TIME. Usually there is a coat hook on the back of the stall but in well-used lounges sometimes the hook is broken off or dangling by one screw. As a way of trying to stifle complaints about these kinds of things, most public restrooms have secured that little stainless steel four inch slab on the wall RIGHT ABOVE THE COMMODE, so that you can chance the contents of your purse tipping into the toilet. Clearly this was designed by a man who didn’t mind fishing his sunglasses out of a pee-filled toilet and plopping them back on his head. If I don’t have a coat hook, I do another u-turn, line permitting.

I do not sit on the toilets. I don’t care if I watched the janitor scrub the seat. I am not sitting on that. Even if they supply me with that little thin toilet seat cover that floats off in the draft caused by your incoming butt right before you sit down, I am not letting my skin touch that seat. I hover.

Hovering brings its own dilemmas to the table. The Hover works well if it’s a manual flush toilet because then you just turn around and stomp on the handle with your foot and go about your day. But if it’s an automatic flusher, the Hover can cause the system to flush too soon, forcing you to have to wave your hand around in front of the sensor (or in case of an emergency push the little black rubber button by the sensor, totally defeating hands-free flushing) The Hover can also be to blame for the automatic toilet not flushing at all, even after you’re done, again causing the frantic hand waving.

Once you’ve finished what you came to do, you have to operate the sinks. Soap dispensers and sinks are unpredictable. Yesterday I pushed the soap dispenser vigorously, thinking that a pink gel would slowly ooze downward from the nozzle but instead I was assaulted by a soapy foam flying across the entire expanse of bathroom and splattering the baby changing station and the wall on which it was attached, as well as leaving me spotted with watered down bubbles.

I like the faucets that turn on like the ones I have at home. I don’t mind touching the handle because when I get out of the restroom, I’m going to reach into my rucksack and use hand sanitizer anyway (maybe even on my feet) I don’t like the ones that you push down and get a teaspoon full of water or the ones that have a motion sensor. Motion sensor faucets make you do a little hand dance underneath the spigot to find the sensor. Then it gives you about three and a half seconds of water before it automatically shuts off and you have to hand jive again. No matter which faucet it is, out of frustration, I give up and head to the drying station, leaving the sticky soap in the little webby bits of flesh between my fingers.

Drying my hands doesn’t pose too many problems. I like the idea of the hot air dryer but in reality I’m not patient enough to use it so I end up drying my sopping hands on the bottom of my t-shirt as I exit, making it look like I had an incident in the stall. The automated paper towel dispensers force me to repeatedly hand jive again because I cannot possibly dry my hands on the one inch piece of brown butcher paper that it spurts out with each dance.  The old-fashioned lever ones leave me saying “What’s the point of washing my hands if I’m touching a lever that a billion other nasty hands have touched?” No matter how I wash or dry my hands, I will sanitize immediately upon exit.

I don’t want to give the wrong impression that I am a germaphobe who skitters through life in a perfect little plastic bubble. These perceptions don’t always hinder my life,  I just think that sometimes there are things that we all think but no one ever talks about and I want to tear down that wall.

 I just want to give you your Oprah A-ha moment wherein you don’t feel alone. Consider these my volunteer public service hours. Unless I somehow get arrested, then I’ll try to use them in a plea bargain so that I don’t have to pick up trash along side of the interstate.


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Jenn’s Sage Advice

Jenn’s Sage Advice

I would somehow like to leave my mark on this world and have been pondering that very thought lately. Oh sure, I could pee on every patch of grass that I get near, or I could rub my body on your leg as I walk by (I won’t. It’s considered sexual harassment…learned that the hard way) but I wanted to make a bigger impact on my little world. . What I really want to do is give you, the reader, a gift. Something you can take with you and always use, maybe some words of wisdom. Out of the goodness of my heart and the restlessness of my head. All of the great thinkers: Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, Oprah, all of these people left their mark with their words and their weight problems. I want to leave you all with the same, something to marinate on for a while. My hope, nay, dare I say it? My dream, is that one of these little tidbits will change your life for the better, or at least help you balance your checkbook. I’m pretty sure it won’t help with the checkbook though… In fact if you’re reading this instead of balancing your checkbook then I’ve actually hindered you from doing that and now I will feel responsible if you overdraw. Weight of the world, people, weight of the world.

 Anyway, I have compiled a little list to help you on your way to a better you.I hope you enjoy it.

My Wisdom

  • Today’s Beanie Baby collectors are tomorrow’s people who dress a concrete goose in a raincoat on their front porch.
  • Eye boogars are just nature’s way of telling us are not as cool as we think we are.
  • You can lead a sorority girl from the sorority house but chances are she won’t find her way back.
  • I can write haiku. Haiku doesn’t have to rhyme. It’s five seven five.
  • That last piece of wisdom was written in haiku form. Really makes you think doesn’t it? No? Ok.
  • You can put a tuxedo on a penguin but he’ll only feel overdressed.
  • You can get hot cheese stuck to the roof of your mouth but that won’t get you a handicapped parking space.
  • You can always wing it but leave flippering it to the dolphins.
  • A bird in hand will almost always poop on you.
  • A penny saved is still just 1/50 of what you need to buy a Superball.
  • Never date someone with a U-haul permanently attached to their Pinto.
  • Keeping your dignity means never going on reality TV.
  • There’s a story behind every shoe found along the highway.
  • Don’t let sleeping dogs lie. Make them tell you the truth.
  • This generation’s “Dancing with the Stars” is last generation’s “Circus of the Stars.”
  • You’ve got to know when to hold ’em know when to fold ’em and if you’re making an origami swan, you have to know HOW to fold ’em.
  • If you can’t stand the heat, get your dog fixed.
  • Dying will take years off of your life.
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Posted by on July 28, 2011 in Random


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Geriatric Dirty Dancing

Geriatric Dirty Dancing

A few years ago, I had an experience that I have never forgotten: It started out like a normal outing, going to a bar to see a live band.  I’m not sure why I didn’t associate the name of the bar ‘Generations’ with the demographic that it catered to but I didn’t.

We got to the bar around ten thirty and as we walked in I was smacked in the face with the familiar smells of smoke, booze and desperation. I didn’t know it then, but this desperation was in the late terminal stages. My eyes adjusted and I saw the typical black pleather bar stools and bowls of peanuts (that are contaminated with over 250 different specimens of urine. I heard Johnny Depp say it so it must be true.)  Cracked pleather chairs and chrome were everywhere.  I did a quick scan of my surroundings and realized that I was probably the youngest person there. And I was over thirty. Yikes.

Bars are the perfect petri dish for people watching.  I looked at all the people interacting and realized that every one of them was at least in their late fifties and had really put some thought and care and preparation into their appearances. These people were there for a reason and with purpose. I imagined them all standing in front of their mirrors and primping and preening to get their hair to just the right feathery Farrah perfection. Yes, they were here on a mission and had prepared whereas I was sweaty from playing basketball in a hoodie and had not combed my hair in five months. This is not an abnormal look for me.

I looked over at the bar and saw a couple who had obviously just met so in my head, as I often do, I made up their conversation from across the room:

Her: So then, I took it back and they gave me the sale price! Can you believe it?

Him: No! I can’t! That’s awesome! So then what happened?

(She babbles on about silk shirts and his inner monologue takes over.)

Him: (in thought only, not out loud) Hmmmm….I’m getting lucky tonight…. Yeah, she wants me. Did I leave any dirty underwear on the floor in my bedroom? Wait, did she just say something I should respond to? What do I do? What do I do? Don’t panic…Just nod (He begins to nod in agreement.) Yeah….that’s it. Crisis averted.


Him: (a little too excitedly) Yeah!!!

And then the man with the mic said something that suddenly lifted the veil from my eyes. He took a dramatic pause and began,

 “You broke my heart…because I couldn’t dance…you didn’t even want me around….”


As the band played on, couples shifted into standard Dirty Dancing poses. All of a sudden there was grinding and bumping and dry-humping going on all over the bar. The entire bar went from doing some corny line dance to acting like teenagers whose parents were out-of-town for the weekend. I didn’t even know people with hip replacements were that flexible. Staring at this picture, I was horrified and amused at the same time. I could have looked away, but then my eyes would have settled on something even more obscene.

The band played a few love songs that quickly segued into baby-making music…but not before the bridal party showed up.

I’m probably not a good example of the “Every Little Girl” but I’m pretty sure that it’s not Every Little Girl’s dream that she spend a few hours of her wedding night in a bar with people three times her age. I have to believe that this girl either worked at this bar or was coming to see her parents who had somehow ended up at this bar after the reception.

As the baby-making music took off and the elderly got even more explicit in their movements I tried to picture what these people did in their real lives. I wondered if they were there with their spouses, if they worked in offices or factories and if they had kids, or more likely grandkids, at home with a babysitter.

Now enters a man who very well might have been the lead singer of the Cars. Business in front, party in the back, Yes…I kid you not, the perfect mullet walked in. This was no ordinary mullet either. This guy had spent some time shaping it because there was nary a hair out-of-place and it was a deep chestnut while the lines on his face said that it probably should have been gray. It got even better from the neck down: He had on a Don Johnson-y gray sports jacket with shoulder pads to give him that triangular shape. Pulling together the whole ensemble was a very thin tie. I didn’t even want to glance at his lower half but I can only guess that he was wearing pants with several pressed pleats in front and a braided leather belt.

I kept my eyes on him, not so much because I wanted to watch him but because I couldn’t stop watching him. I am always baffled by people with weird hair that don’t seem to be self-conscious about it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there has got to be AT LEAST one person in Mr. Mullet’s life that could say, ‘Dude, lose the mullet. The eighties are over. Let it go.” (although this guy should quit using the 1986-appropriate term “Dude”) I stand by my theory that people tend to get stuck, fashion-wise, in the era that they were the most happy in. For example, I worked with a woman who was the epitome of an eighties’ hair band groupie and I firmly believe that it was because those were her glory days. I think Mr. Mullet might have succumbed to the same phenomenon.

The band began to really delve into the lovemaking songs and so of course had to play Let’s Get It On to which Mr. Mullet began to sway and swish and lean and bend and twist and throw random hands in the air and mouth the words all by himself. He also did those weird finger pointing motions that are typically associated with a man by himself on the dance floor. Even though he was by his friend, Mr. Mullet was just in his own world. At some point during the song I think he found a dance partner who had a ring on so I assumed she was his wife. They moved out on the floor and I lost him for a few minutes….until the next song came on and he had a new dance partner, also with a ring on her finger. I’m sorry, am I at a key party?

It got worse. The band started to play Sexual Healing. Mr. Mullet was really into a groove with Woman Number Two. He was using one hand to grope every part of her body while the other hand he used to steady himself with the rail that seperated the dance floor from the chrome and pleather. Occasionally he would shake his head this way and that way to get his mullet out from under his jacket collar. I would love to tell you that I got up and went to my car or at least looked away but I didn’t do either. I had to look because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, but I didn’t want to look because no one wants to see that. At some point during the “dance” Woman Number Two moved her hands somewhere I couldn’t see, hopefully on the upper half of his torso under his sport coat but from the look on Mr. Mullet’s Mick Jaggery face, I’m pretty sure her hands had ventured lower. I felt like I had somehow ended up in his entirely-decorated-in-leopard-print bedroom with them. Awkward.

And finally my ride said she was ready to go. I did not hesitate. I had sipped soda all through the evening but when it was time to leave I considered ordering the strongest possible drink TO GO in order to dull the pain that I would endure when I got home as I scraped my eyeballs with a blunted knife to try to get these visions of the elderly mating rituals out of my head.

I have to say though, that I was very proud of myself for being able to control my urge to turn around as I hit my stride to the door and yell:





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Little Hollow Plastic Boundaries

My favorite part of every trip to a store is the checkout line. The checkout line offers you a variety of people watching opportunities as well as a chance to do experiments on other shoppers. And you get to count it as an independent study credit in college! (This statement is not based on reality.)

I always do that final once-over of my cart, which provides its own entertainment: Going to the store for cotton balls, I usually end up with a basket that contains: cotton balls, a pencil tray, white nail polish and a little glass cube that has a 3D unicorn etched into it (to put on the desk that I don’t have.) If I have a long wait, I use this time to figure out how I settled on this assortment:

“Let’s see, I need cotton balls…Oh, there they are on the bottom shelf! (I bend down to pick up a bag.) My goodness, will you look at that! I need to repaint my toenails, they’re chipping! (off to the nail polish aisle) Red polish is too sassy….I have blue polish at home, so…white. White would be great because of my tan (that I don’t and won’t have.) If I’m going to get a tan, I’m going to need sunscreen. When am I going out in the sun again? Probably not for a few weeks. I’ll wait. I really should start making lists so I don’t forget something…(off to the stationary aisle).  Let’s see, pencils…I have pencils at home…but where are they? I KNOW I have pencils..I need to organize my paper supplies. Oh look at that, they have a pencil tray. I could put that in a drawer and then I’d never be lost for a pencil. I need a desk… I should buy a desk (off to the furniture aisle) That one’s too expensive, but I really like that one! I don’t have room for a desk. But I like the idea of a desk’s personal touches: inbox, outbox, nameplate, paperweight…maybe I’ll just get a paperweight and set it on my coffee table and that will satisfy my desk craving(off to the crap-for-one-dollar aisle) It’s a 3D unicorn! In a glass square! Mine!”

Now I feel better because I have justified my random purchases while simultaneously moving up to the best spot.

I’m the third person in line.  The first person is being checked out.  The second person has put their stuff halfway down the belt, wasting the first two feet of conveyor belt closest to the checker. So I take my stuff out of the basket and I start putting it on the conveyor belt, less than a foot from Second Person’s stuff. On purpose.

Second Person notices that my stuff is on the conveyor belt too and they panic a little bit (I say they panic because I know I panic; therefore everyone must panic.) Recourse? Put that little hollow plastic barrier between our items. The boundary setter of the retail world, it says, “Don’t touch my stuff!  I don’t want your stuff touching my stuff! I don’t want this clerk thinking I would buy a glass cube with a 3D unicorn in it.  I’m not paying for that.”

If I’m the Second Person, I’m always sure that the Third Person is going to be offended when I set my little hollow plastic boundary.  As if I am saying, “Hey, buddy. I see you putting that stuff on the belt. Why aren’t you leaving at least a foot between your stuff and mine? You better have money for that baby formula because if you don’t, I.WILL.NOT.HELP.YOU. Stop eye-ing my 3D unicorn! Mine!”  Then I give them that half-smile that says “I know you’ve been the Second Person. I hope you understand it’s nothing personal, I’m just not going to feed your kid.”

Really the person who SHOULD be offended is the clerk, because we are essentially telling this person that we don’t think that they are smart enough to understand that the gap between the items means that it’s a totally different order.

Putting up the little hollow plastic barrier is the most power that you will ever have in a checkout line. Literally. You are never more in control in a checkout line than when wielding a  tiny hollow plastic square tube…unless you are the First Person and you are paying for one hundred and fifty-two dollars’ and seventy-four cents worth of groceries in pennies.

Check. And. Mate.


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Sam’s Club

With the excessive heat this week, I have been hermiting as much as possible. This is not a real word but it’s in the Jenn Murphy Manual of Style so I’m allowed to use it. Today though, I emerged from my self-imposed exile because I needed bottled water. I feel guilty to a degree, for messing up the environment with my plastic bottles, but I also know that my mind will not let my body consume my apartment’s tap swill without having a total mental meltdown. I am convinced that the pipes haven’t been replaced since 1955 and that they are filled with all of the gunk not only from the former tenants, but also from the current residents. I’m pretty sure the Village upstairs is under the wrong impression that they have a built-in garbage disposal. So I firmly believe that if I drink my tap water I am drinking fifty-six years’ worth of bacteria and raw sewage, along with the greasy scraps of the fish fry that the Village had last night for supper.

I went to Sam’s Club because it’s always cheaper to buy in bulk.  I’m of the belief that if one sees a bargain, one stocks up.  And by stock up I mean when soda goes on sale around the fourth of July, I will end up with twenty-four cases because you “Buy ten, get two free!.” I can’t pass that up.

 It would seem that Sam’s Club would be a perfect fit for this kind of mania.

I flashed my card at Sam’s and rolled my wobbly wheeled cart back to the water aisle. If I were a homeless person this is the kind of cart I would inevitably end up with: one with the jack-jawed wheel that doesn’t cooperate with the other wheels. Such is life.

I heaved two cases into my cart and clumsily steered it to the next aisle.  I stopped at the maraschino cherries (I should mention here that during one of those sleep eating nights, I ate half a jar of maraschino cherries while standing at my kitchen sink. I didn’t stop there, I drank the syrupy juice that the cherries had been floating around in. Don’t lie, you’ve done it too.) and considered putting them in my cart. And then I had a momentary return to sanity and thought, “WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH A FOUR POUND JAR OF MARASCHINO CHERRIES?”

 I often yell at myself in my head.

I walked each aisle, giggling at the size of the jars and cans. Remember when you could get that little bag of generic Barbie accessories at Wal-mart for two bucks and it would have hundreds of plastic shoes, hangers, a record player and some records and then a coffee mug? And you could make Barbie hold the mug by putting her hand through the handle but the mug was usually as big as her head? Totally disproportionate. This is how I feel when I shop at Sam’s.

I realize that Sam’s Club was really intended for restaurants, vending companies, people who still keep well-stocked bomb shelters and Mormons; but there’s something about walking around in there and seeing the monstrous portions that makes you feel like you NEED to buy something.

I knew then that what I needed to do was find a healthier alternative for my recent sleep eating so that I didn’t wake up with Skittles melted to my torso. I wanted goldfish crackers because you can eat huge fistfuls of them and still intake few calories. I found a four pound, three “stay-fresh” bag box so I put it in my cart. For good measure I threw in a box of granola bars (48 bars in one box: Peanut butter, dark chocolate and S’Mores!)

Salty and crunchy and semi-healthy: SOLVED.

I have always loved going through the candy aisle of Sam’s because it’s like a candy store except that you can buy a lot more all at once and not be judged by the checkout girl. If you go into a candy store and buy five pounds of candy, you’ll get smug looks from fellow shoppers as well as the clerk. BUT, Sam’s Club ENCOURAGES you to buy TWENTY-FIVE POUNDS of candy at one time!  They even pre-package it for you!

I needed to find a candy that I could keep around the house that I wouldn’t eat by the ton. When it comes to candy consumption, I have no willpower. Absolutely none. I will eat it until I am physically sick. And then after the shakes and the nauseousness goes away, I will eat some more.

I needed to find something that would take a while to eat and satisfy that craving. I was going to have to go the old lady, hard candy route and at Sam’s my choices were limited. They basically offered a seven pound bag of Starlight mints(NO), two pounds of “Fancy Assorted Hard Candy”(ABSOFRUITLY NOT) or a five-pound bag of Jolly Ranchers (YES!)

Sweet and long-lasting: SOLVED (I hope. But we’ll see.)

Everyone knows that one of the best parts of going to Sam’s is the Sample Lady. It’s like the poor man’s Las Vegas buffet. Today I sampled a caramelized onion pre-made hamburger patty (edible but just barely), a slice of a fajita wrap (that I ended up spitting back into the napkin) and a styrofoam cup of tropical punch Kool-Aid. Kool-Aid sampling is a waste of the Sample Lady’s obvious talent. We all know what Kool-Aid tastes like; and overall, most Kool-Aid flavors just taste like sugar-water. On a side note, I think it’s what birdwatchers use to attract hummingbirds, which might explain why I was drawn to it.

For a single person, Sam’s Club is a pretty ridiculous place to shop. Other than string cheese, I can not eat that much of any one thing without ending up repulsed by it. I blame Sam’s Club for the fall out between myself and Boca Burgers. It also caused my break-up with Hot Pockets.

But in the end,Sam’s offers a Jumbo Nathan’s hot dog and thirty-two ounce soda for a dollar seventy at their snack bar and Nathan’s is the BEST hot dog you will ever taste.

So I think that was well worth the forty-five dollar membership….


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Introducing…Yadier Pujols Murphy

In full disclosure, if I’m going to write about weird things or people in my neighborhood, I should start at home. Because when you point your finger at someone else and say “weirdo,” there are three fingers pointing back at you and then your thumb’s just hanging out trying not to choose sides. But in my home, one of those fingers is pointing at Yadier Pujols Murphy.

Yadi is an eight pound, almost-five year old shih-tzu.  She was named for Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals. I got her about a week after the Cardinals won the World Series in 2006. Only later did I find out that the name “Yadier” means friend or companion in Hebrew. This is what Bob Ross would refer to as a “happy accident.”

While I would love to sit here and share Yadi Bear’s life story complete with full-color eight by ten glossies,  I will not bore you with all that. Because, if we were having lunch, I wouldn’t want you to tell me every cute, quirky thing your toddler does, even if it was as adorable as what Yadi does….which it is not. But I would probably not say that to your face. I would just smile and nod as I let you drone on while trying to command my body to suddenly have the stomach flu so I could excuse myself to go home and see what Yadi was doing.

By the way, if you’re wondering how we got Yadi Bear from Yadier, you just have to say both names out loud. They rhyme. My mom gave her the nickname, which was odd because up until Yadi came along, my mom had never experienced puppy love. Yadi makes people fall in love with her.  It is only because of Yadi that I met some of the people who I promised to tell you about, because we met all of them on our walks. Except for the village living above me. There was just no possible way to avoid the Village, with or without Yadi.

So here is just a little about the love of my life and the reason I am always entertained:

1. She may have gender identity problems because I gave her boys’ names. She squats AND cocks her leg to pee. I tell people it’s because she’s prissy and doesn’t want to pee on herself…but I know it goes deeper than that.

2. Yadi is obsessive-compulsive. About a lot of things. But it really manifests itself in her pooping routine. She will walk back and forth on the curb about ten to fifteen times rather frantically until she finally scrunches up with ALL FOUR FEET ON THE CURB, and poos. For some reason she doesn’t want her feet to touch grass while pooping. She’s just prissy. (See bullet point number one.)

3. She pouts when she knows I’m leaving. If I tell her “Mommy’s got to go out for a while,” Yadi will scan my face to see if I’m serious and if she determines that I am, she hurries to her bed to sulk. She picks up on non-verbal clues too. If I take a shower and put on jeans and socks to go out (Not just jeans and socks, that’s illegal. Found that out the hard way) she KNOWS I’m leaving. She’s so smart!

 Yes, I know your four-year old is smart too. Suddenly my stomach is cramping. I think I might be getting the flu….

4. Yadi is passive aggressive. The other day, I picked up the plush bathroom rug that she loves to nap on and she had peed on it while I was out.  I know it’s out of spite too, because one day I forgot something and had to come back and get it and Yadi had already PEED ON THE PUPPY PAD. I had been gone for two minutes.  It was just a dribble but it was definitely a rebellious dribble.

Yes, I still use puppy pads when I’m not home. I see your seven-year old running around the front yard in nothing but a diaper because he won’t stop playing long enough to go pee. Don’t judge me.

5. Most of the time, Yadi doesn’t eat her food out of a bowl.  I fill a ferret treat ball with IAMS and she rolls the ball around with her nose, occasionally pawing at it to get the food out. I originally bought her a dog treat ball but her food was so tiny that it just fell out with one nudge. Maybe using a ferret ball contributes to her identity issues, but it buys me some time to get things done.

6. Yadi has a KONG and loves it. If you don’t know what a KONG is, it’s a hollow Christmas tree-shaped toy that you put treats in and the dog has to work to get the treat out.  When I need to work, or spend hours watching horrific clips of high school musicals on Youtube, I use it to keep her busy. Yadi knows this, so she will chew off as much of the treat as she can and then stand there, looking at me and doing this deep growl while she stomps on it with one paw. It’s her version of a temper tantrum. She knows I can only stand so much of this before I will help her get the rest of the treat. It’s a battle of wills and she always wins.

7. LIke a little kid right before she falls asleep, Yadi gets this sudden ultra-burst of energy. I call it getting “rowdy.”  The form of rowdiness depends on where she is when she feels the energy. If she’s been napping belly-up on the couch with me, she lunges and growls at me, wagging her tail the whole time. It’s the cutest little gravelly growl I have ever heard.

No, I don’t want to see the “art” your little Picasso painted with the same finger that he just had up his nose. 

After a few minutes of rowdiness , she’ll trot around in a tight circle and go back to sleep until I carry her to bed.

Yes, I carry her to her bed. You still read your thirteen-year old bedtime stories so shut it.

If she’s on the floor and she gets the burst of energy, she will want to play fetch for a few minutes. But her version of fetch is “watch me prance around with this toy in my mouth.” After prying the toy out of her mouth and flinging it across the room about six times she wants a belly rub and then passes out for the evening.

So that should give you an idea, for now, of what I deal with on a daily basis inside my home. If it weren’t for Yadi Bear, I probably would not know as much about my neighborhood as I do.

 They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I just looked at my word count and it’s right around there. Man, I totally could have just posted this picture instead…


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