Category Archives: Let Me Introduce You to My Little Friends…

Breaking News

Breaking News

This sporadically scheduled blog is interrupted to bring you some breaking news.  I repeat, I interrupt this post to bring you a different post.  My other story will have to wait until next week.

I don’t always post all of my comments.  If someone somehow reads my blog and finds it offensive or attacks me, I read it, respond to them privately (usually unless they play the coward card and comment anonymously) and move on with my life.  Recently someone read my post about the Village that lives above me and called me racist.

I did not respond to it so I will now.

Dear reader, if you are still out there, looking for ways to condemn me, let me say thank you for taking the time to read ONE post in which I stated the TRUTH about the morons who lived around me.  If you really knew me you’d know I’m not at all racist. I am however, blunt.  The only thing I did was to write about what went on in my building.  If you can’t comprehend this, then let me just add this:  the blog is titled “THAT’S NOT APPROPRIATE”  meaning, that possibly, what I’m writing isn’t going to fly well with all of the PC crap out there now.  In conclusion to your condemnation, I say, I calls ’em like I sees ’em.

Last night a friend came over to play guitar, more on my bands later (yes, I am in two:  Sticker Monkey and the BEETles. We only play private parties.)  We decided to go get something to eat so as we’re walking out, I stopped dead in my tracks, horrified at what lay before me.  On my front porch, there was a three-inch puddle of fresh vomit.  Apparently the puker had hot dogs because that’s all it was.  On one of the steps was an even more massive puddle of chewed up hot dogs and milky tan spittle.  This had to be a kid.  We came back and I washed  the vomit into the bushes, ants and all.

This was just one more incident that happened because of the village.  I made a mental note to text the landlord one of my many texts that always begins like this:

“Can you please tell the people upstairs….”

But I didn’t and night turned into morning.  I stepped out to take Yadi for her morning poopy walk and saw that the parking spaces in front of my house were blocked off and in front of them was a U-Haul truck. Great. More neighbors. Another chance at being annoyed by bad behavior.  We finished our walk and went inside.

I sat down on the couch and heard shuffling coming from upstairs.  It sounded like someone was wrestling a baby elephant.


What the…?

I felt a little excited butterflies begin to stir in my stomach. My brain was doing the math:


Whoa. Down girl. Let’s not get too excited.  They, being the village that they are, and already having at least six people in a two bedroom apartment, might be moving someone in.  Maybe a grandmother. Or a grandfather. Or a second cousin once removed who didn’t have a green card. Or all of the above.

I got up and went to the front door, parted the mini-blinds and looked out.  And there, struggling to move an unbelievably large mattress down the steps, was the UPSTAIRS NEIGHBOR!

YAY!  I have envisioned this moment and hoped for it for so long and now it’s happening!

No more finding motor oil bottles in my freshly washed sheets in the basement!

No more oompa music from speakers right below my bedroom window!

No more tuba lessons in the backyard!

No more party remains left in the back for days, drawing bugs, rats and possibly even city raccoons!

No more little kids peering into my windows to make Yadi bark!

No more twelve SUVs taking up every parking space in front of the house!

No more missing laundry detergent!

No more unidentified socks showing up in my laundry!

No more second-hand smoke drifting up from the basement!

No more front bushes being used as a trash can for empty beer cans!

No more dirty diapers left on the steps!

And finally,

No more hot dogs puked on the front porch for me to clean up!

Yes indeedy, today… new, Village Free life begins…..

(Insert Hallelujah chorus here)


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Sea Monkey Farmer

Sea Monkey Farmer

As you all know, I am already a proud pet parent.  My shih tzu could beat up your honor roll student. Being Yadi’s mom is quite a commitment. One that I wasn’t sure that I was ready for. But I believe that I have raised a very happy dog and it makes me feel like I’m ready for more.

Romy and I went to a subdivision sale a few weeks ago.  We drove by a house where a lady was standing by the mailbox trying to get her sign to stay put.  We stopped and after calling “dibs”  (calling dibs in the world of rummage sales means that you have first call on the products for sale.  Rummage sale dibs is in no way legally binding nor do the people in the car with you ever actually follow the rules of dibs.  But I have to call it anyway.)

“Dibs!”  I screamed while opening the car door, with my dibs being totally ignored by Romy.

We walked up to a garage full of educational toys.  For me, a bust.  Yadi is smart but I refuse to try to make her learn how to count with an abacus.  Upon closer examination though, I found a gem, a diamond in the rough.

For there, among the fourth and fifth grade math books, nestled behind several packets of Brainquest cards, was something that made my ignored pleas of Dibs pay off:


A complete Sea Monkey kit, normally costing seven to eight dollars….for TWENTY FIVE CENTS!


I immediately snatched up the monkeys and forked over the quarter.  My adventure was set to begin.

We got back in the car and I explained to Romy how excited I was about this find.  She seemed unaffected.

Hmm….well she won’t be so unimpressed when she sees them magically hatch right before her very eyes!

I headed home, knowing that I would have to wait four whole days to hatch my new babies. Romy was going to come in Wednesday to go to a Cardinals game. I planned to hatch them then.

On Tuesday, per the official Sea Monkey directions, I filled the tank and added the water purifier.

One more day.

After the game, we headed back to my house. (We mopped the Pirates by the way)  As soon as we got there, I made Romy come into the kitchen to watch the little beasts come to life.  She was able to contain the overwhelming excitement that was brimming just beneath the surface.

I ripped the envelope and dumped the eggs into the tank and stirred gently and….


See those little black dots?  THOSE are Sea Monkey eggs!

Wait for it…..see how they’re moving around in the current?  See how they’re not wiggling yet?

Sadness.  My eggs did not hatch.  Romy picked up the instructions and informed me that it may take more than a day due to the water temperature.

I was so disappointed that Romy, who was to be the godmother to my monkeys, did not get to experience their miraculous birth.  Even more disappointed that the next day, Romy and I were headed to her house in the country and she would again not have the opportunity to see them come to life because despite  homeschooling her kids, Romy had NEVER seen live Sea Monkeys.

Let me repeat that for emphasis:


Un-American. It’s equivalent to never having had a Chia Pet.  Everyone needs to do it once.

And I had owned Sea Monkeys before. In seventh grade, I had some.  I don’t remember the specifics but I think they may have started to smell and we um…disposed of them.  Don’t ask.

I came home from the country on Friday and immediately ran to my little Sea Monkey tank.


Oh sure, they were just tiny little dots but they were alive! I didn’t fail! (at least at this one thing.)

Now, I can proudly say that I have a pretty healthy amount of Sea Monkeys. I am officially a Sea Monkey Farmer.  They’re only a week old and they are thriving.  I can’t wait til they breed.  I don’t want to rush them to grow up and I’d like them to be kids for as long as they wish but I want grandmonkeys!

I just wanted to let you all know that I am embarking on this new adventure.  I will keep you updated and will eventually post pics (because I know you are all on the edge of your seat) and maybe even videos of my thriving Sea Monkey World.  Until then, wish me luck on my breeding.

….of Sea Monkeys…not of myself.


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The Declaration of Friendependence

The Declaration of Friendependence
“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.–Thomas Aquinas
I take my friendships very seriously.  I am sure that I am guilty of setting my expectations probably way to high for my friends but I have a credo of friendship that I live by and here it is:
I will never ask my friends to do something that I would not do myself.
  In keeping with that, I realized that I owed it to Romy, as my best friend, to clearly lay out the expectations I have of her and of myself in this friendship.  So without further ado, here is the
Declaration of Friendependence.
I, Jenn Murphy, being of semi-sound mind do hereby, on this twenty ninth day of the month of April of the year two thousand and twelve do hereby and henceforth, plan to abide by the following guidelines as set forth in this very official sounding but really just full of big legalish words that would more than likely allow me to kick butt in a game of Scrabble.
Article 1-Timeliness
1.1.  I will always be on time to meet you wherever we decide to meet.  More likely, because of my paranoia and constant fear of running late because of someone else’s moronic driving, I will be at least thirty minutes late to any event.
1.2.  I fully expect that you will be a minimum of ten minutes late to nearly every event and even if your husband Duke isn’t with you, I will overlook the fact that you blame your lateness on him. 
1.3.  Due to your consistent lateness, I will always tell you that we need to meet earlier than we actually do.  Please expect that this time will range anywhere from five to twenty minutes early, so as to keep you from guessing what time you actually have to be there. This way, you’ll be on time and I will not be irritated. Win win.
Article 2-Embarrassment
1.1  Going forth from this point, I will try to limit the amount of embarrassment I bring to you publicly.  I expect you to do the same. 
1.2.  At certain events, please expect that I will be wearing a Wonder Woman cape and or tube socks as wristbands.  Maybe even at the same time.  Don’t ask questions, just go with it.
1.3.  Fanny packs are not allowed at any events that we go to.  Just hand me your personal effects and I’ll throw them in my journey bag. 
1.4.  If either party is discovered by the other party to have a boog, the second part will discreetly let the first party know of the boog’s presence.  And this shall be done quietly, without yelling, “hey you’ve got a boogar hanging out of your nose!”  Perhaps a simple upward tilt of the head with widened eyes while quietly intaking a little air would be appropriate.
1.5.  If one party asks the other party if a particular item of clothing makes them look fat, the questioned party must fight very hard to keep from retorting, Tommy Boy style, “NO YOUR FACE DOES.”
Article 3: Aging
1.1.  Eventually we will both be senile.  You, being older, will probably hit this milestone first.  I promise to not get irritated with you when I have to answer the same question fourteen times in a span of twelve minutes. 
1.2.  I will come visit you in the home.  Should I end up in one first (by some freak accident) you are expected to do the same.
1.3.  I will gladly feed you your pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, just like Hoke in Driving Miss Daisy.
1.4.  Along those same lines, I will drive you to the Piggly Wiggly but you have to sit in the front seat because I am not your chauffeur.
1.5.  I will not change your diapers.  That’s why you have kids so that one day they might return the favor.
1.6.  I will tell you where you left your false teeth (in your mouth) after about a half an hour of not telling you.
1.7. Both parties must alert their families BEFORE they are too senile to express their wishes, that they wish to be placed in the same home.
1.8. In the event that I perish before you do (unlikely since you’re like a decade older than me) please have my ashes scattered in two places:  Art Hill in Forest Park and Busch Stadium.  And try not to get arrested dumping the remains on the warning track of the stadium.
Article 4:  General Articles of Friendship
1.1. In the event that we are engaged in a fit of laughter that is making our stomachs hurt so bad, and the first party tells the other party to stop because they are going to throw up, the second party is not required to do so and in fact, may take this as encouragement to try even harder to get the first party to throw up. This also applies when there is the threat of liquid coming out of nostrils due to uncontrollable laughter.
1.2.  If both parties are shopping and the first party squats down to peruse items that are on the ground, the second party can not be held responsible for giving in to the urge to push the first party down. 
1.3.  Only in the case of extreme emergency will either party be expected to share their Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers with the other party.  This sharing will ONLY occur once the top layer of wax has been scraped off before and after usage.
1.4.  The above is also valid for the sharing of beverages.  If party one has a beverage and party two does not and is parched, party one may share her beverage with party two but not through straw usage.  Party two must take the lid off of the beverage and sip carefully so as to avoid any backwash and must then replace the lid.  At no time should party two use party one’s straw. 
1.5. If both parties have agreed to view a movie together, each party must abstain from watching the movie without the other.
1.6.  While shopping at the Goodwill By the Pound store, party one must fully expect party two to throw a pair of underwear in her general direction at least once during the outing.  Party two agrees to aim only for the arms of party one.
1.7. Both parties must agree to capture a picture of any plumber’s butt that they encounter when not together and send it to the other party.  If the parties are together, a funny photo must be taken of one party pointing to the offending plumber’s butt.
1.8.  As the need arises, either party may place addendums to this declaration within reason and as agreed upon by both parties.  In the event of a disagreement on addendums, Jenn Murphy will make the final decision.
1.9.  Neither party will ever sing Celine Dion songs in each other’s presence.
1.10  Party one reserves the right to, at any time and on any occasion, bring up the fact that an elderly woman in our church mistook party one for party two’s daughter….and giggle.
1.11.  I promise to always have your back and tell you the truth (even if this means just hesitating too long when you ask me a question)  and let you know if you have a piece of corn on your face when we are in a restaurant.
Please note that these are the original articles of the Declaration of Friendependence.  I, Jenn Murphy, have given Romy the ability and authority to make addendums to these original articles in case I have forgotten or overlooked any important points. However, if she writes something that I disagree with or in no way can follow through on,  I hereby reserve the right to change the addendum at my whim. 

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Love Your Neighbor

Love Your Neighbor

The little angel chorus in my head was singing their hallelujah jubilee today. I needed some things at the dollar store (a tiny fm radio to pass the droll hours at work, a few sodas and maybe even a unicorn paperweight) so I grabbed Yadi and headed out the door. Before you turn me into the authorities as a bad pet parent, it was warm here so SHUT IT. Or I will turn you in for leaving your dog’s massive poo in my front yard.

As I was heading out, my upstairs neighbor , Mary, was just coming home from work. Before I go any further, let me flesh this situation out for you in case you haven’t been keeping up with my home life. I live in a decaying four family apartment building. There’s a nice quiet guy in the adjoining ground floor apartment. The apartment above him is now empty, as half of the village was evicted. I’m pretty sure I had a hand in this. I can only take so many years of little kids leering at me through my front door (made me want to walk around nekkid) Parties in my back yard that don’t end until four am (with speakers right below my bedroom window playing tuba-heavy oompa music all night long) and the bushes in front of my house being filled with beer cans (Recyclers, please feel free to come clean it out. You could retire on the money you’d make) And finally, the apartment above me houses two families: a woman (Mary), husband and recently-toddling-in-cowboy-boots one year old, and her pregnant sister and her husband.

Overall I haven’t minded the people who live above me because they’re as quiet as they can be with half a dozen people living in a two bedroom apartment that is the same size as my one bedroom apartment. We pretty much leave each other alone unless, like today, we happen to be coming or going at the same time.

Now you have all of the information you need to understand the rest of this story. It is not lost on me that if I were telling this story in person, you would have wondered what you were going to cook for dinner during those last two paragraphs.

Mary stopped me and the following conversation ensued:

“Did you hear the furnace?” Mary asked.

“I did. I texted Nolan (landlord) about it.” (Mary’s furnace does weird things. It’s so old that sometimes when it’s out of water, it sounds like something is about to go off in the basement and cause the whole place to implode. If you’re unlucky enough to be downstairs when it’s doing this, you’ll note that it also tries to herky jerky across the cement floor but is tethered to the wall by random pipes.)

“Yes, he came and fixed it. It scared me!”

“It scared me the first time too! I was pretty sure that the whole place was going down. I don’t even use my gas heat. Too expensive.” I said.

*Note: At this point I could write the entire portion of our conversation about heaters and heat alternatives, but it was less than interesting and I care enough about you to spare you from it. You’re welcome.

We covered several more topics-the evicted neighbors (I played dumb as if I thought they were gone but wasn’t sure. ) She confirmed that they were gone. I feign shock. Then she begins to tell me things that made me sad.

Remember the kids that I wrote about earlier? I mentioned them in a blog called “The Village” To sum it up, I had two neighbor kids who annoyed the bajoobies out of me by making Yadi bark on purpose, staring at me through my screen door and generally just being obnoxious kids. I’m not a huge fan of children to begin with (save for my niece and nephew who are awesome. Shout out, O and T! and a few kids who are well behaved) but these brats went above and beyond when it came to their annoy-your-neighbor call of duty. After they got evicted, they obviously had to go somewhere. Mary told me that they were about to get evicted again, for the very same reasons they got evicted here-the trash, the kids and the parties.

“Remember when we had that tornado?” Mary asked.

“I do. It was New Year’s Eve of last year but I wasn’t here. I was in the country.”

“Well that was when my husband was working nights and I was home with my baby and he called and told me to go to the basement because the sirens were going off so I grabbed my kid and we went to the basement. When the sirens stopped we went back upstairs and as soon as I got in, there was a knock at my door. And it was those kids. They were standing there with wet towels wrapped around them, begging to stay at my house. Their mom left them there alone that night and went out dancing at the club.”

Keep in mind that these kids were both under eight years old. Annoying? Yes. Capable of being left alone all night while mommy goes out partying? NO.

Mary continued, “And, you know that day you were banging on the ceiling?”

BUSTED. Yes, a few times when it has sounded like a herd of wildebeasts stampeding across my ceiling, I have been known to take a broom handle and bash the crap out of my ceiling.

I waited to hear her out before I admitted my guilt although I’m sure my face showed it. I have absolutely no poker face. Puh puh puh pokerface puh puh pokerface…Dang it. Stupid Lady GagGag.

“Well I was so embarrassed because that was that little boy. You know that little boy that used to live over there? His mom asked me to babysit when she went to work and he would not listen! I kept telling him to stop running and jumping and he just kept going. He’s wild!” Mary explained.

“Yes, I was very frustrated at that because the mirrors on my wall were threatening to fall off,” I replied.

“I’m so sorry. He’s just wild! He doesn’t listen!”

“I knew it wasn’t you or your kid. I mean, I can hear your kid toddling around but I also know that he’s learning to walk,” (even though the noise bugs me I realize I can’t get mad about a child taking his first steps. I can however get very angry at a little spaz that causes one of my IKEA mirrors to come crashing to the floor.)

Mary spoke some more about what a wild kid he was and that she was glad that they were gone and then the topic changed again. And this was when the angels chimed in.

“You know, my sister is pregnant? And with my son getting older, he needs a room? So we are trying to buy a house.” CUE HALLELUJAH CHORUS.

“Oh,” I say, trying to conceal my sheer delight at the prospect of a little more quiet in my house.

“We don’t have enough room and we want to live closer to my mom. She lives by the airport.”

“Oh,” I repeat, trying so hard to not show the true emotion that is bubbling up inside me.

We talked a little more about the housing situation and I’m sure we covered other topics but by this time my mind had started to imagine some nice quiet nun moving in upstairs and how the only noises I’d really have to deal with would be the little rosary beads clicking against one another.

To be honest I didn’t hear much more that she said after the “we are moving” exchange. Between the rosary beads and the hallelujah chorus being sung by the angels in my head, I was distracted.  But since then I have been filled with genuine “Love Your Neighbor” feelings. 

And by genuine, I mean these feelings totally depend on them leaving forever.



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That Girl

That Girl

I hadn’t been to a concert in over a year.  I saw Third Day about this time last summer. It was a great time but something was lacking. For the longest time,  I couldn’t put my finger on what was missing.   Then it hit me:

That Girl.

That Girl is at every concert.

Most of the time, That Girl has been drinking.  That Girl is the one girl at any concert who inadvertently makes a fool of herself by drinking too much, dancing too much and drawing unwanted attention to herself.  I have done research on this and you will never find more than one That Girl at any event. They do not travel in herds. They are also like roosters in that only one will be Alpha-That-Girl. Once one emerges as That Girl at a concert, the other potential That Girls disappear into the mist.

That Girl’s evening begins normal enough. She shows up at the venue looking very stylized. She has spent a lot of time on her makeup and big hair (always long. I have yet to see a That Girl with short spiky hair.)  Since That Girl probably doesn’t get to go out much, she may have even gone shopping for a new outfit just for this evening. Sometimes she’s with her boyfriend or sometimes she’s out with the girls. The thing about That Girl is, you don’t know until closing time who she’s there with and even then it’s not definite as to who she came with. Don’t try to spot her when you first arrive, you won’t find her. That Girl doesn’t emerge until after the first few rounds.

Once you do spot her, you will not look away. And unlike most times when you should look away, this time you don’t want to because she is captivating. She is mesmerizing in her own sloshy drunken way. She’s the first one up dancing and the last one still swaying when the song ends. Some times she will have a death grip on her beer, sometimes she will wave her beer in the air and other times she will be doing a jig with nothing in her hands at all, giving her full range to throw them up in the air and let them gently drift back down in a wavy dream-like fashion  That Girl dances with her whole body including her long stringy hair. She’ll swing her head around all crazy while she’s swaying and sloshing. She looks like a hippy wannabe except for the fact that  sometimes she’s dressed like a sorority sister. With a little bit of research, you’d probably find that she was the President of her chapter.

That Girl’s age could range anywhere from twenty-one (Many birthday girls end up being That Girl because of the unending free shots) to seventy-one. That Girl knows no age. If you notice an older That Girl, chances are this isn’t her first experience in the role. She’s probably been playing it all of her life and is either comfortable playing the part or has no idea she’s been cast.

That Girl has no clue that she is drawing such attention…or does she? This is the question i always ask myself.  .i really think it depends on the girl. A good way to judge is to see how many times while swaying that she loses her balance. If it’s more than twice, there’s a good chance she doesn’t mean to draw attention to herself but can’t help it because with liquid courage comes spinning rooms.

These girls may be and probably are, considered fairly normal in their everyday lives. But once they get that beer in their bellies and music in their souls, they just become…That Girl.

And if you go to a venue, are on the dance floor and look around and can’t find That Girl…it’s probably you. Keep drinking. You won’t remember any of this in the morning.

And for that you will be glad.


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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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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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