Much To My Delight

Much To My Delight

Live Blogging the Bachelor. Yes, I watch it.

So, I’m not proud of it or anything but uh….I watch The Bachelor. For any of you who thought I was somehow too intelligent or thoughtful to get sucked into reality garbage, I am sorry to disappoint you. Hell, I even did a quick stint in reality dating myself (Elimidate, 2003!). But for those of you who also watch this hypnotically turdy television show, Welcome!

This year’s bachelor is a farmer from Iowa named Chris. He’s big and blonde, and the producers love to film him washing his gloriously hairless chest in his conveniently placed outdoor shower. Farmer Chris–that’s Prince Farming, to you and me– lives in a town with only 450 people in it, so finding a proper woman to tend his hearth and harvest has proven really challenging. The good news is that going on The Bachelor should totally increase his chances of finding a nice girl to bring home to meet his mother and his potatoes. Because that’s just what every budding makeup artist or dance instructor in head-to-toe sequins and fake eyelashes who goes on a reality show aspires to do — move to a farm in Iowa.

group of ladies abc

photo from abc.com

This was the second episode, so he’s already knocked the group down from 30 to like 20 or 25, or 15 or 7. Honestly, all these girls start looking alike to me, and I can’t keep track of them, and I really can’t believe he actually knows all their names. I continue to imagine an embarrassed PA hiding in the bushes, holding up cue cards with names, ages and professions on them. By the way, did you know that “Sports Fishing Enthusiast” is a job now?

Tonight’s the first group date, so Farmer Chris takes six ladies to race tractors in downtown LA because… he’s a farmer! This is totally what life is like back home in Iowa! Oh! And by the way, the women have to walk through the city streets in bikinis and high heels on the way to mount their tractors. I don’t know much about Iowa or tractors or farm life,  but if this is the official audition for becoming a farmer’s wife I just got insulted on six womens’ behalf. I wouldn’t walk down a city street in a bathing suit for a yearly membership to his CSA.

After the tractor race, he chooses to spend some one-on-one time with a gal named Mackenzie. She looks about 12, but she wears overalls and named her son after a vegetable, so she might actually be the best match for a farmer.

Far be it from me to judge, but the girl named her son Kale, for chrissakes.  I mean, she’s only 21, so I get that she wanted to go with a trendy vegetable, but I just feel like she’s going to regret that choice down the line. She should have gone with something really classic and masculine like Chive or Fennel. Rutabaga has a nice ring to it.

Anyway, they’re drinking beers in a bar and she tells him she only dates guys with big noses. He’s a little offended that she just told him he has a big shnozz, then she really tries to woo him by talking about aliens.  Clearly she’s forgotten some of the basics of adult conversation since having a kid. She gets really fidgety and nervous because she’s going to reveal to Chris that she has a baby, but dagnabbit, he handled it like a gentleman and didn’t flinch or burst out laughing when she told him her kid’s name was Kale. Which is more than I can say for myself.

For the second group date, another group of women join Farmer Chris on a nighttime zombie hunt. When you’re on a voyage to find your life mate, this is the kind of event that really separates the wheat from the chaff.  Once all the zombies were dead, the group of 12 popped some champagne while leaning on bales of artfully placed hay. He compliments his eleven girlfriends and says “You guys really killed it today.” That Chris. So punny. And so little body hair.

The losers back home who didn’t get picked for the group dates get drunk and twerk on the bathroom wall while wearing clay masks. One gets completely blitzed and does a monologue mocking all the hair on a fellow contestant’s butt. Now that’s just tacky.

This leads me to wonder: What happens after THE FINAL ROSE in these womens’ professional and personal lives? Won’t every potential suitor think they’re a little warped for going on The Bachelor, and won’t every potential employer youtube the shit out of their episodes before calling them in for an interview? Can they ever be taken seriously again?

fields of glory

photo by abc.com

But tonight, no one cares about all that. Tonight is all about lip gloss and winged hairdos and low-cut evening gowns. And roses–a very finite amount of roses. A girl with Kim Kardashian’s face who’s dressed like she arrived at the mansion via genie bottle or magic carpet just admitted to Mackenzie (Kale’s mother) that she’s a 26-year-old virgin. The jig is clearly up on that front for the young mother, and she admits to being extremely jealous that the cards are now ever in the virgin’s favor because Chris seems like the type of guy who would really prefer his produce organic, so to speak. The next clip shows the virgin making out with Prince Farming with such intensity I’m pretty sure we all just witnessed the nation’s first live tonsillectomy.

Final roses distributed. One girl trips on the carpet. Furious laughter. Now the cut girls are making their exits one by one. Egregious crying. Why do people sign up for this?

My heart is full of emotion. I feel sad for the girls who got sent  home, the ones who must now explain their behavior to their bosses and families. I feel concern for the girl from Brooklyn, who I’m fairly certain was floridly psychotic on national TV and is grossly being kept around for entertainment value. And I too find myself jealous of the virgin.

I could never get my ponytail that shiny.

 

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My Husband Vinny

 

Between you and me, I still find it hilarious that I ended up with a guy named Vinny from Queens. So does my family, who’ve lived in Texas for so many generations that some of their accents might actually require subtitles on national TV.

A lot of people who meet Vinny assume he’s Italian, because you know… his name is Vinny and he grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Queens. But Vinny’s not Italian, he’s Croatian. Which is, you know, not really that far from Italy.

Anyway, Vin’s accent is about the same as mine–subtle, with just a hint of local flavor. But on occasion, he likes to crank the Queens up a peg and go full Joe Pesci on us. There are no famous Croatians to imitate (are there?), so he tends to give the people what they want and pretend he just stepped off a Scorcese set. I find this to be the funniest thing in the world and will usually egg him on. I married a ham.

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Saturday we went to the New York Botanical Gardens for the Holiday Train Show. I seem to have a knack for picking family-friendly activities, and sometimes it feels kind of awkward to be the only childless adults adrift in a sea of MacLaren strollers. However, I have to say, it’s nice to finally have a height advantage somewhere.

We roll into the parking lot at the gardens in the Bronx.  We pull up to the first of two tollbooths, where we pay $15 for parking. There is a $2 discount if you pay with Mastercard, so I ask Vinny if he has one. “Fuck yeah, I do!” It’s amazing how exciting saving two bucks can be.

We pull up to the second booth. The guy tells us it’s $28 per person to come into the gardens. Damn! That’s steep. We ask if it’s worth it. The guy waits way too long to answer. We recognize the brilliance in placing the parking tollbooth before the ticket tollbooth. Clearly we’re not going to spend $13 to take a lap in their parking lot. We buy the tickets.

We tour the grounds before hitting the train show. We walk up a little hill to check out the rock garden, and are disappointed to find a big lock on the gate. The rock garden is closed for the season. Apparently the rocks will not bloom again until next April. Bummer.

We traipse across the grass. There’s a nice building on the other side of a big lawn. “Look at that,” Vinny from Queens says in his best Joe Pesci.  I think he used the top of his hand to brush some invisible dirt from his chin. “Now that’s a beautiful building. I bet it was built by the Italians.”

“Why would you bet that?” I asked.

“Because the Italians…they’re an extraordinary race.” This reminded me of the time Vinny called me a racist for ordering white toast instead of wheat. I had to remind him that wheat is not a race, and my poor nutritional choices are my own damn business.

“Vinny, Italian is not a race.”

“No it’s not…but this is!” And then he ran away from me.

Finally, it’s our turn to go see the model trains. We’re not really here for the trains, but the artist renderings of 150 NYC landmark buildings, all constructed with natural materials like twigs, leaves and roots. It’s apparent that most of the kids are more interested in spotting Thomas the Train than the Flatiron Building carved out of tree bark.

When we get to the front of the line, the young female ticket taker asks Vinny: “Are you a model? For Abercrombie and Fitch?” That Vinny. The one person I know who doesn’t look chubby in layers.

Then she asks me: “Can I see your ticket?”

Well, then. Moving on. Time to see some bark buildings!

bldgskyline

We take the tour amidst a million kids yelling “This is boring!”, completely underwhelmed by the fact that someone WHITTLED THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE OUT OF FREAKING MULCH. We thought it was amazing and felt like telling the guy at the tollbooth that it was definitely worth 28 bucks.

Since we were in the Bronx, we made one last stop before heading home– our favorite bakery on Arthur Avenue (the real Little Italy–not that overcrowded tourist trap in Manhattan) for some freshly filled cannolis. Vin double-parked the car and slipped back into Joe Pesci for this moment: “Be a good girl, and go grab me a cannol”.

I purchase two cannolis– one large, one small–from a delicate Italian woman with pillowy hair and beautiful hands. When I see the difference in their size I say, “Oh look, a mama cannoli and a baby cannoli”, and she repeats back to me in a lovely accent that is soft and slowly cadenced: “Yes, it is a mama cannoli and a baby cannoli, A-ha-ha-ha.” Vin could learn a thing or two about subtlety from this woman.

I run back to the car with the pastries, and Vin says, “Heyyyy, back to Queens. Our home away from home!”

“Vinny, Queens is our home.”

“Even bettah, even bettah.”

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A Note About Trends (This post though!)

 

Last Sunday morning Vin and I went out for brunch, as is custom. We’re trying to stretch our wings, so we journeyed to a really cool Mexican spot in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The tables were basically all two-tops running down the length of a wall so it was the perfect place for eavesdropping and checking out other peoples’ food. I was happily enjoying my chilaquiles when the couple next to us had their meals delivered. As the waiter approached them, the male patron seemed especially eager, and was carefully watching his plate of huevos rancheros as it made its final descent to the table.

When the food finally made touchdown, the man rejoiced with a hearty “BOOOOOOM!” loud enough for us to hear, and of course, ridicule. He also used both hands to enthusiastically gesture that his eggs had arrived.

Vinny and I glanced at each other and almost choked on our chorizo. Doesn’t this guy know that BOOM! is like sooooooo 2013?

People of Crown Heights and beyond, I think it’s time to retire BOOM. In my opinion, boom is not clever or funny because it’s tired and overdone and has been used in every crappy commercial for the last two years.  (See also: amazeballs, totes adorbs, keep calm and blah-blah-blah). Plus, if you check Instagram or blogs or Twitter or FB or whatever else the kids are updating these days, there are clearly a whole new slew of trendy catchphrases to latch onto. And here is where I try to integrate as many of them as possible into one blog post without completely blowing out all my brain cells. Please, to enjoy.

#NO FILTER

*******

Sooooo this just happened.

I was so hungry I literally thought I was dying, so I walked to the grocery. True story– our grocery store is so close to our house we call it “the pantry” (LOLZ for dayz) and I live in Queens so not only is it open 24 hours, but it also carries E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. including lots of really cool stuff from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Latin America and the Middle East, so… winning! You can get an entire lamb’s head (complete with eyeball) if you need it, and their selection of farty lentils and empanada wrappers almost makes up for the fact that 75 percent of the produce looks like it’s been thrown against a wall. #whaty’alldotomypeaches? #groceryfail

I’m a total foodie, so when i go to the store I have to make a list because I walk in and suddenly i”m like “I NEED ALL THE THINGS!”.  Srsly,  I get totally hangry and then I can’t. even. stop. myself from throwing everything in my cart. Except it’s not a cart, it’s a basket because UUUMMM HELLOO, I live in Queens and we don’t even have room for carts here. The struggle is real, y’all.

My first stop is the cheese aisle because, duh–it’s cheese. I’m obsesssssssssed with cheese. Cheese is my fave. Cheese is EVERYTHING. I need more cheese in my life right now. Then I remember I’m lactose intolerant and literally start crying. Okay, I didn’t literally cry. That’s silly. I’m a grown woman.

(I definitely got emotional though.)

I move back over to the fruits and veggies to load up on stuff for green smoothies. Everything looks a-maze. I throw a pineapple in my basket. It’s super heavy but WANT. I move over to the kale. It’s gorge and I LOVES IT. I grab bananas, and fresh ginger and quinoa and lemons and parsley and chia seeds and everything else that falls under the category of vegan- healthy- paleo- clean eats- organic- gluten-free- veggie porn. I’m going to make the freshest, healthiest, most drool-worthy green smoothie everrrrr and I’m going to live for it and it’s going to taste amaaaaaaaaazzzzzzzzing. Ah-maze-ing.

Still.

That puffy white bread though…

That sexy can of Pringles though…

That Ben and Jerrys’ Triple-Caramel-Chunk though…

I am crushing on them. HARD. I can’t even. I caaaaaaaaan’t. STOP IT. Gah. OMG. I DIE. I am completely dying. I’M TOTALLY, 100 PERCENT DEAD. Not even mostly dead, but DEAD. Like, as a doornail.

And then I see it.

THIS. This exactly. This right here. This right now. Ummmmm, are you even serious??? This stuff is my jam!!

Oh wait, this is jam. Nom-nom-nom, strawberry. And with a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good. Into the basket it goes. Right next to my farty lentils. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM! (i hate myself. i can’t help myself.)

I make my way to the freezer case for a really big bag of ice so I can dump it over my head and film it. OMG It’s gonna be so cold, but it’s for a great cause and I look pretty good wet and YOLO FOMO YOKO ONO. But before I head home to drench my blowout, lemme take a selfie.

me in grocereee

#greasy hair, i sorta care #dear mom, send chapstick #no filter #hahaha, just kidding– in our mid-30s we use all the filters #grocery shopping rules #this is the widest aisle in the whole store #ootd secret–the initials on this monogram necklace aren’t mine cause i bought it for $2 at a flea market # i had no idea what ootd meant until i wrote this post #an old man caught me taking this picture  #i felt really stupid taking it

Totally winning at grocery shopping. EPIC trip. Time for champs!

 

Sorry. I’m not sorry.

 

 

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Snip, Snip. Just the Tip.

 

I always forget how much I hate making small talk until I need a haircut.

I can tolerate people weeping openly, can engage in conversation about disturbing thoughts or memories, and manage to stay pretty calm when someone presents in crisis, but try talking to me about the weather and I become almost useless. Can’t swing it. You’ve got exactly four minutes to discuss how humid it’s been and then I’m going to start asking questions about your childhood.

Because of this aversion to small talk, I avoid beauty treatments at large, and put off the necessary ones (like haircuts) until my locks have become so raggedy that the ends start begging for sweet release. I really knew I needed a cut when last week one of my sassier clients looked at me curiously and asked: “Why is your hair not sexy today?” Shortly after that comment she asked when I planned to bring cookies into the office again. I can’t reward this behavior with baked goods. But I can get a haircut.

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<Modeling my resting bitch face, circa 2011>

Anyway, my hair was “not sexy” because the last stylist I tried to make small talk with didn’t really put in the layers my thick hair demands. His touch was too subtle, too sparing. He was a young, handsome guy who’d just moved here from Serbia a few months prior, so our conversations actually had a bit more heft to them since I married into a Croatian family. Still, once I shared my impressive knowledge of the language (Sretan Bozic! Sretan Uskrs! Bog!) and my affection for Eastern European pastries, we pretty much ran out of subjects to cover. Plus, his English wasn’t great and my Serbo-Croatian repertoire consists only of Merry Christmas, Happy Easter and goodbye.

So Friday, after an impressively short workday, I popped into a salon I pass everyday on my way home from the train. It is a bare bones, no-frills kind of joint that mostly attracts very old ladies with steel walkers and names like Esther. The walls are painted an unsettling shade of green and the lighting is so harsh it’s like every crease in your face has been put under a veil of magnifying glass. When I walked in and asked for just a haircut, the receptionist seemed relieved they wouldn’t be preforming another weekly wash and set.

I was quickly sent over to a teensy Asian woman named Susie, who was eager to understand why I had never come see her before if I lived on this street for seven years. She wanted to know where my hair had been and who’d had their hands on it. A lot of people had–I’m a notorious salon jumper. She critiqued its color (the left side was too blonde), its shape (she agreed with my client–not sexy. needed more layers) and its ability to keep my husband’s attention (don’t worry; by the time I’m done with you he won’t be able to keep his hands out of it!).

I found Susie pleasant. Just enough talk to make me comfortable and get the information needed to meet my beauty needs, but not so much that I felt pressure to endure endless conversation about my hair or anyone else’s. Mostly I was just relieved that she never asked me what I do for a living. When you work as a therapist, sometimes this conversation can be really weird, and I’ve had some awkward exchanges with past stylists: (PS: All quotes verbatim)

“Who would want to work with crazy people?” (Perhaps there’s a more tactful way you’d like to ask this question.)

“So my boyfriend does this thing where he hides out in the bedroom for days playing video games and not showering. He also never wants to have sex with me and has to count to 20 before doing anything. What’s his problem?” (As much as I’d love to diagnose your partner without ever having met him, I think I would rather sit quietly and read this magazine on my lap.)

Everyone comes in here and tells me their problems. I’m pretty much a therapist too.” ( Super! Would you consider yourself more Gestalt or Jungian in practice? )

But Susie was a pro, and she appeared eager to have me settle down and commit to a regular stylist as my hair had clearly already made its way around town. She was kind of cute, and kept pointing out what she considered her assets as a stylist. After sharing a particularly useful bit of information (“Never keep your hair parted the same way all the time. It thins your hair. Flip it to the right one week, then wear it on the left the next week”), she exclaimed, “See! Susie shares all the best tips!” Susie did share the best tips.

cut

<Doing what Susie taught me and flipping me hair to the opposite side. Hello volume! That Susie!!>

After making an unmemorable statement she thought was funny, she said, “See! Susie makes all the customers laugh. I’m funny, right?” Susie was funny, actually. Right after cutting my long bangs she sang, “Snip, snip! Just the tip!” and the pre-pubescent part of my brain almost exploded.

By the end of the cut and dry, I was pretty much sold on Susie, especially as the tally for the event was only thirty-five bucks. I was happy with her handiwork and so was she. As I left the salon she called out, “Make your husband take you out to dinner tonight. I hope he recognizes you!”

So we went out to dinner, and by sheer coincidence, the restaurant was next door to the last salon I visited. The weather was lovely, so we ate outside on the sidewalk in front. As luck would have it, out comes my Serbian hairstylist for a smoke break. He was looking in my general direction, so I gave a friendly, slightly awkward wave. Based on the furtive look on his face, I’m still not sure if he thought I was some random girl flirting with him or, as Susie predicted, I had become wholly unrecognizable.

Either way, I was just relieved he didn’t come up to the table and start talking about the weather.

 

 

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Flowers in the Attic: You smell DELICIOUS.

 

If you are a Generation X’er like myself, I will bet you a bazillion dollars that you had a copy of VC Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic as a pre-teen girl, and that you acquired it in some kind of seedy 7th grade underground book market because your mother wouldn’t buy it for you. You fed on it late at night, presumably by the light of a full moon or a shanghaied flashlight, with your sheets pulled tightly over your head to create an impenetrable cotton fortress. You felt everything reading that book–exhilarated, disgusted, shocked, embarrassed, perhaps even a little bit dirty. You couldn’t sleep because you were too excited. You could never look at your brother the same way. It was so, so bad but so, so good. The book jacket classifies it as a “gothic melodrama” — a pretty conservative description for something geared toward teenagers that featured themes like child neglect, torture, murder and incest. Babysitter’s Club this was not.

 book cover

foreveryoungadult.com

Anyway, if loving Flowers in the Attic is wrong, I don’t want to be right. I’m thinking about starting a book club just so I can get some women of a certain age together to make paper flowers, eat powdered donuts and discuss how fucked up it is that this is considered YA fiction. During our meeting, we’ll screen the new remake of the movie, currently airing on Lifetime Television.

Yes, ladies. It’s happened. It’s here. There’s a remake of Flowers in the Attic on Lifetime. Get it while the gettin’s goooooood!!

And by good, I of course mean awful!!! So awful! I loved it so much, you don’t even understand. In an homage to the original experience, I captured it on TIVO and gobbled it up early in the morning in secret before my husband was awake. It was such a delectable way to start my Saturday.

The casting was brilliant. Ellen Burstyn played the evil grandmother and she scared the absolute shit out of me.

flavorwire.com

flavorwire.com

And check out who plays the mother, Corrine…

heather graham

{You said it sister– not me.}

So, let’s pause and discuss Heather Graham for a second. Greatest actor of our generation, right? This line from the movie tickled me because it’s the exact phrase in my thought bubble every time I see her act.  She looked beautiful in the movie, but her acting was handily outshone by all four of the people cast to play her children, two of whom were five years old.

If you’ve read the book or seen the original movie, you already know what happened to those sweet, innocent tow-headed kids. Nothing good. Being locked in an attic for two years will do terrible things to your psyche, your sexual proclivities and your skin tone. It will also make a great jumping off point for the sequel, so viewers can further titillate themselves by glimpsing into the future and seeing how the kids fared ten years after their escape, presumably after a decade of trauma counseling.

And we call this…Petals on the Wind.

God bless you Lifetime. You filled my Saturday with so much joy. And guys, don’t worry. I took breaks between these movies to go outside and get some fresh air and sunshine. If the first film taught me anything it’s that blonde hair and gray skin do not mix.

This time, Vin was awake so I had to nibble on my guilty pleasure between eye rolls and audible whines of disapproval. He was looking twitchy, and I could tell he was fiending for some hockey highlights or basketball.

“If you change the channel, I will murder you,” I warned. This seemed pretty rational–even understated–at the time, especially when juxtaposed against the truly unsettling threats being tossed around on-screen. Plus, there was a suicide-by-donuts scene coming up, and I honestly thought he’d enjoy it.

lifetime.com petals

lifetime.com

I know I was! I wasn’t familiar with this story, and had forgotten that there had been several follow-up books in the continuing saga of this very dysfunctional family. And my goodness–this one was even more salacious, more tawdry, more disturbing and more campy than the first. So much maliciousness, so much ridiculously bad acting, so many uncomfortable love scenes. I know…ew. It was ridiculous and over-the-top and I was yelling at the screen the whole time. “Listen, I get it! He’s hot and he’s a doctor, but HE’S YOUR BROTHER!!!!”. At one point I cried out, “I need a girlfriend here on the couch with me!” because I wanted someone to share the fun with.

And I guess that’s why I wrote this post today. I’m certainly no film critic. But I really wanted to share this special experience with you, my invisible internet friends. I know you understand me, because you were there. In the ’80s, under the covers, in the shadows. If not in solid form, than in spirit. This post is for you. Please, set your Tivo’s and invite me over. It will be such a gas.

And to my mother, who tried in vain to shield me from these hallmarks of 80′s youth culture. Brava, lady. You were doing parenting right. I can see why you thought this material was inappropriate for children.

But for cultured, experienced, classy, educated adults? Mmm, mmm, mmm. Sweet as powdered sugar.

 

 

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I think I’m ready to talk about it (part 2)

*This story is the continuation of another post. Please read yesterday’s post before reading this one.

 

Wednesday evening, Jan 29:

Armando returns to inspect the pipes again, and reports that the problem is much bigger than he thought. The work will have to be referred out. He goes to cut holes in the walls of the two apartments above us to see just how much pipe needs to be replaced. We have Armando cover the hole with a flattened cardboard box to keep any assholes with tails from trying to break into our apartment. Armando does an amazing job securing the cardboard to the wall and the floor with a roll of duct tape given to us at Christmas by Vin’s cousin Lucy. The tape has little french poodles and Eiffel Towers all over it, and it adds a nice Parisian-chic flair to the wall of our mouse shantytown. I sleep soundly, reminiscing about happier days in Paris chewing on baguettes and shit instead of worrying about mice crawling across my face.

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fast forward to Sunday, Feb. 2: A new set of pipe guys come by and start formulating a plan for replacing the enormous 100-year old busted pipes running through the three floors of the house. They speak mostly in Polish, so I don’t really understand the depth of the damage, only that it’s a lot. They remove the cardboard box Armando so brilliantly taped to the wall, and start poking around. One of the guys admits that he sees mice crawling up the wall, which reinforces our decision to call the landlord about hiring an exterminator.

They don’t really do any work that day, so the hole remains. We are fresh out of kicky Parisian duct tape, so one of the guys just kind of half-assedly presses the cardboard with the old tape back onto the wall. I do not sleep soundly that night. I am woken several times by the horrible sound of scratching. I wake up cranky and terrified to enter the kitchen/living room, where the mice have apparently been playing canasta all night.

Monday morning, Feb 3:  I slowly creep into the kitchen to make myself coffee. No droppings anywhere, but as I look toward the cardboard wall, I notice there is now a big scary hole right near the top of it. I say a prayer, remind myself that the exterminator is scheduled to come tomorrow, then move to the bathroom so I can take a shower and do my normal morning routine, which because it’s still winter, does not include shaving my legs.

I get out of the shower feeling much more refreshed and ready to embrace the snowy day ahead. I make a move toward the kitchen, but Vin stops me at the doorway.

“Don’t come in here.” He looks serious.

“Why? What happened since I took a 2-minute shower?” My heart stops.

“I came in here to do something, and I saw a mouse. Just tell me what you need from this room and I’ll get it for you.”

I’m grossed out, but I keep my wits about me. I can handle this. I’m from Texas. I grew up with o’possums living underneath our deck and semi-aquatic nutria rats circling the banks of the lake we lived on. I lived in Colorado, where prairie dogs would spontaneously pop up out of the ground  to say hello. So I calmly stay in the bedroom while Vin passes me what I need from the other room. Because we live in the weirdest apartment ever, my closet is in the same place where I eat my breakfast, so Vin grabs my outfit, then hands me a cup of coffee, light and sweet. This is actually a pretty nice service. I could get used to this. Except for the mouse, of course. That asshole needs to go.

 

Monday late morning:

It’s a slow day at work, so I actually pick up the phone and call my husband just to say hi. I almost never call him during the day, which makes me feel kind of terrible. Do you guys call your spouses during the day?  I’m not even sure he recognizes my voice.

“Listen,” he says. “I didn’t want to tell you this when you were in the apartment this morning, but I didn’t see a mouse.”

“What do you mean?”

“I saw… a rat.”

Apologies in advance to my grandparents reading right now from Horseshoe Bay, but there is no way to describe the feeling one experiences upon learning that a large disgusting rodent most often seen in subways and sewers has actually been running across your kitchen counters without using a few choice obscenities.

OH SWEET, SWEET LORD. THERE HAS BEEN A FILTHY MOTHER-FUCKING RAT IN MY APARTMENT. A FILTHY FUCKING RAT.

Well, there goes all my home entertaining.

Luckily I work in a mental health clinic, so I can get free therapy whenever I want. I hang up the phone and go to the first open door I see and take a seat.  My colleague gives me the support that I need, and even shares a story about the time they did extensive work on the outside of his building and he ended up killing 77 mice in his apartment in one month. I look at him with profound admiration and respect because I would need to be hospitalized after an experience like that.

 

Monday night:

I refuse to leave work until Vin does because I’m not walking into the rat cave alone. I beat him home by 30 minutes and end up sitting outside our front door, resting my head between my knees. The battery in my phone is dead, so I pretend to meditate, while silently willing whatever furry creatures have been hanging out in my apartment all day to magically teleport themselves to a snowy meadow far, far away. I hear Sochi is lovely this time of year.

Vin finally comes home. We go in. The rat has definitely been out and about. Plastic has been chewed. Several things must be thrown away. But I must say, I am incredibly surprised by this rodent’s bladder control. This many trips inside our kitchen and he hasn’t left any of the tell-tale evidence these creatures usually do. I’m sort of impressed; I have to pee every ten minutes.

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Tuesday morning, Feb. 4th:  Last night while I slept, Vin drove to Home Depot to purchase a roll of steel netting, a staple gun and enough duct tape to fix a crack in the moon. When I wake up this morning, I see that he has constructed the world’s most impenetrable rat fortress. I wish I’d taken a picture of it, because it was beautiful handiwork. Who needs Valentine’s Day? This man protects me from rats. Now that’s romance.  I really need to call that guy more often.

Tuesday afternoon:  Tell me if you heard this one…Three Polish handymen, an exterminator and a landlord come to a three-level house in Queens. The exterminator finds a pipe in the front of the house that’s poorly covered and identifies it as the rodent’s port of entry. The handymen cut out an even bigger hole in the wall to get to work on those pipes. Our landlord spends all afternoon reading my cookbooks because our TV is still broken. When his wife calls and asks what he did all day he reports, “I read a red book called ‘Epicurious’”.

 

hole

 

And now it’s Friday morning, the big hole has been covered with sheetrock and is waiting to be painted. The floor around the area has sunk into the ground and must be replaced. But the holes are covered, the smell is gone and nothing is scratching on the other side of that wall. I’m a happy camper.

There are lots of silver linings to this story, first and foremost the advantage of being renters in this scenario, because Vin and I didn’t have to pay a dime for all this work.

And secondly, there is a small part of me that feels like having rats in our apartment is like entering a special club or enduring a rite of passage.

I have a rat story.

After 14 years here, I officially feel like a real New Yorker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I think I’m ready to talk about it.

 

It’s 10:30 PM on Tuesday, February 4th, and three Polish men are drilling into our kitchen wall like they’re trying to burrow their way back to Warsaw. I arrived home from work at 7, starving and with a throbbing headache, and all I want to do is go to sleep. Our entire kitchen area is wrapped in plastic, so we ordered tacos from the little place around the corner and ate them in bed, using cookie sheets as food trays. As soon as I shut off this computer, I will attempt to sleep with lamps on and pillows covering my head as the three workers–and my husband who likes to observe all things home repair–walk back and forth through my bedroom carrying bits and pieces of the 100-year-old cast-iron pipe that cracked like a rotten egg inside our wall over a week ago. They wrap up the day’s work shortly after midnight.

PS:  They’re not done. It’s now Wednesday night, it’s 8 pm, and there is still a Polish guy in my kitchen, humming loudly while working away. I have already been informed they will be here tomorrow night too. I am back on my bed trying to keep myself entertained while Vin is at work and our TV is still broken. I don’t even have any tacos.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s back up.

 

Sunday, Jan. 26

There’s a puddle on the floor by the kitchen sink, and a stack of paper nearby is soaked through and smells like a boys’ locker room. If I understood Photoshop well enough, this is where I’d insert a picture of myself with a furrowed brow and a thought bubble that reads: “Aw, Shit.”

I call over to Vinny. “Hey Vin–might not be able to make fun plans today. I think we need to call a plumber. We’ve got a leak.” He walks over, nods, and says something along the lines of “Aw, shit”, which is apparently the universal response to finding a leak in the house.

So our landlord, who’s really great about handling stuff right away, sends a guy named Armando over to investigate. Armando takes a quick look around and says, “I’m just gonna start breaking your wall to see what’s going on.” This line alone makes me happy to be a renter, because the minute people start throwing phrases like “breaking walls” around, you know there’s going to be a big bill coming your way soon.

Armando knocks two holes in the wall–one behind the area where the fridge lives and the other underneath our kitchen sink–and it smells like…well…it smells like a big fart has been trapped inside our wall for the past three years and has finally been released into the atmosphere. This, of course, reminds me of my friend’s brother who famously trapped his own fart in a jar during high school and kept it on a shelf all through college. I’m not sure when or how the ceremonial release was held, but I’m happy to report that their whole family is still alive and the fart-catcher is now a well-respected physician.

Where was I?

Right. So, Armando turns on our kitchen faucet and shows us what has been hiding out for a good while–every time the sink goes on, the busted pipe releases a gush of water that passes through the back of the wall. This was not a drip or a leak–it was like a friggin’ dam breaking every time we turned on the sink. There was a river running through the wall with nowhere to go, which is why it smelled like a  fart in a jar, with a lid screwed on extra tight for four years before finally being set free on graduation day.

I feel terrible for Armando who is on the verge of tears because he got arthroscopic surgery on his veins two days ago, and the BED stockings he wears to improve his circulation are currently cutting it off entirely. He replaces the pipe under our sink, and says he’ll come back later that week to patch the holes. It’s great timing when he leaves because the Grammy’s are starting and Beyonce is about to dry-hump the floor, a chair, and Jay-Z all within the span of six minutes. I prefer to be alone with my husband when watching soft core.

When Armando leaves, our wall looks like this.

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And under the sink, it now looks like this:

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Monday morning, Jan. 27:  We hear and see another leak, this time from another pipe. We call the landlord. Landlord calls Armando.

Monday evening:  Vin works late and I meet a friend for dinner. Landlord and Armando stand outside the house calling for 25 minutes in the freezing cold, because landlord has forgotten his key. Landlord calls both of us four times each. Neither of us hears our phone. We feel like assholes. Call landlord back when we receive his messages; he reports they will come by apartment tomorrow while we are at work.

Tuesday morning, Jan. 28:  I leave a note on the kitchen table, apologizing for not being there night before. I tape another note onto the leaky pipe inside the big hole, letting landlord and Armando know: LEAKY PIPE HERE.

Tuesday night:  I arrive home. The holes are still wide open. The pipe is still leaking.

But the note I taped to the pipe is gone.

And then I almost step into a huge pile of busted glass. There is glass everywhere. I try to figure what’s broken, and suddenly see that our little candy dish we keep on a side table is missing. Then I realize…ALL THE CANDY IS GONE. No wrappers, no chocolate shavings on the floor…just broken glass and missing candy.

I call Vin confused. Why would our landlord and/or the plumber break a glass candy dish in our apartment and walk away? They are very decent people, and that seems out of character. Plus, Vin called the landlord. He ended up not coming over after all.

And so, the only explanation I can surmise is that someone else entered our apartment this afternoon, ate all of our chocolate, removed the note from the leaky pipe, then smashed a candy dish on their way out.

My mind will not let me consider the obvious answer here, which is that a mouse crawled out of the enormous hole in our wall, smelled our chocolate, climbed up onto the table, smashed the glass and ran off with the candy. There are no droppings anywhere, and I am actually much more comfortable with the idea of a stranger walking into our apartment, creating a serious hazard and stealing a note just to fuck with us.

I am actually still more comfortable with this as opposed to what happens next…

 

Stay tuned! Part 2 will be published tomorrow.

 

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I never dated online, but here’s the profile I’d write if I did…

I was chatting with my friend J last week, who was regaling me of tales from his dating days. J is a happy newlywed now, but had quite the adventure with online dating before meeting his bride, who reeled him in with a profile that featured her pretty long hair and a promise to introduce suitors to the best pierogies in New York City. He had so many funny stories to share that I felt a slight twinge of regret that I never had the opportunity to date online. I imagine it would have been a very frustrating process weeding out the foxes among the freaks, but there is part of me that feels I missed out on tons of great fodder material. I’m happily hitched, but this thought breaks my little heart.

And so I’ve taken it upon myself to conjur up a dating profile. Let’s see if my milkshake still brings all the boys to the yard.

 

Username: Sweet Lady J
Tagline: Ooooh, love to love you baby
Age: somewhere between NHS and AARP
Physique: A little softer than it used to be, but still holding up pretty good
Have Children? What do you think?

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ABOUT ME: I am a 27-year-old (just go with it) nice white lady with a decent head of hair and a very, very slight Texas twang.  I make terrible pancakes but fabulous huevos rancheros. I’m rotten at math but great with word puzzles. I avoid phrases like champs, totes, adorbs, and mani/pedis, but overuse the word “dude” to criminal extent. I sing every time I go to the bathroom to pee, which you’ll quickly notice is way too often. I like to wander aimlessly and follow directions very loosely which usually ends in frustration for everyone around me. I’d love to accompany you to the park, a great café or a tango class but don’t take me to a movie because I’ll probably fall asleep. I’ve never been described as a stage-5 clinger; in fact, I’m far more likely to never return your phone calls. I work as a therapist, but promise to avoid diagnosing you with a mental illness until at least date five.

ABOUT YOU:  You’re sweet to animals and children and your parole officer has nothing but nice things to say about you. You’re the type of guy who doesn’t need to be reminded to put the seat down and says excuse me after making funny noises. You have enough body hair to make you look masculine but not so much that I’m going to be spending my Friday nights shaving your back.

ABOUT US: We’ll be the couple everybody wants to be–the kind that wears matching footie pajamas on Christmas morning and posts adorable footage of our duets on Youtube.

For Fun: correcting grammar mistakes, watching other peoples’ pets frolic at the dog park, reading cookbooks full of recipes I never intend to make, repurposing cheap crap from the dollar store
Favorite Hot Spots: Michael’s craft store, TJ Maxx, ethnic grocery stores
Last Book Read: “The Dinner” because I prefer reading about sociopaths to dating them

 

me 026DSC_7991swingjenn photo(Nothing wrong with putting up a pic that’s more than 5 years old. shhh…I’m 27 remember?)

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Closing Pitch:  I have no communicable diseases, I always share my toys and I’ve never lost my temper in a public place. Also, I get drunk off one margarita, so if you’re on a budget, I’m a pretty safe bet.

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This is what happens when you’re with a long-haired man.

A few months ago, Vin picked me up from work in the car. We were on our way out of town, but I was starving and damn close to gnawing off my own arm off with my incisors, so I insisted we stop for pizza before leaving. So we drove from Manhattan to Queens (where we live), and popped into a pizza parlour. We ordered, sat, and drank chilled coca-colas. Finally our pizza arrived at the table.

Halfway through my slice, I look up at Vinny.  I’d already been with him at least 35 minutes.

“Did you cut your hair?” I asked. He never tells me when he’s about to get a haircut. He likes to spring it on me out of nowhere like some big makeover reveal on Hoda and Kathie Lee.

“Finally! I was wondering how long it would take you to notice. I cut like, seven inches off.”

This is what happens when you’re married to a long-haired man. This is also what happens to my observational skills when I’m hungry.

vin and jenn

If some fairy godmother type had floated down to my house in Galveston, Texas as a kid and told me that one day I’d grow up and marry a long-haired man named Vinny from Queens who wears surfer hats and outrageous sneakers and grew up listening to heavy metal I would have passed out from shock.  Not because a fairy floated from another planet to tell me my future, but because I would have thought she was so far off. I never thought I’d end up with a guy who looks like Vin. But oh, I’m so glad I did. He’s an original.

I’ve known Vin about 13 years now, and I have never seen the man with short hair. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t even picture what he would look like with a traditional men’s haircut. I would imagine that few people who know him well– aside from, perhaps, his mother– could picture a short-haired Vin either. Vin’s hair is inextricable from the man himself. Vin’s hair is like the third member of our family, his defining feature, the source of all his power.

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I have grown rather attached to Vin’s hair over the years, and have often found myself wishing that my own dry hair shared the same impressive properties as Vin’s locks. Vin has the softest, sleekest hair of any person I know. It only gets slightly frizzy when it’s super humid out and I don’t know why or how, but Vin’s hair will absorb the smell of shampoo better than anyone else’s hair in the world. Some people pop a Xanax or dab essential oils like lavender or bergamot on pressure points when they need to relax. I simply grab a fistful of my husband’s hair, breathe in deeply and slowly exhale.

My hair is generally pretty straight-forward, and doesn’t necessarily lend itself to many different looks. Vin’s, on the other hand, renders him quite the chameleon, and with a simple switch in outfit, hat and facial hair, he can take on a completely different look. It’s like being with a different man every week, which is exciting and fresh for me. Observe:

There’s rocker-Anthony-Kiedis-style Vin.

cool

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vin cute

There’s backwoods-hipster-hobo Vin:

hairy mancuddlin

Surfer Vin

vinny rip curl

 

Formalwear Vin

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tux

Willie Nelson- Vin

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 Top Model Vinultra dapper
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and probably the most frequent association…

Jesus Vin

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Yes, my husband walks on water.

But the best thing about Vin’s hair is the free stuff we get when people confuse him for my girlfriend. You wouldn’t believe how many times we’ve been at a restaurant and a waiter approaches our table from behind Vin’s chair with a “Good evening, ladies”, only to be met with horror when he comes around the other side to greet facial hair and tidy sideburns. One time we got two rounds of free margaritas because one waiter after another made the same mistake. I think Vin might be an evil genius.

Still, having two long-haired people in the house is not without its picadillos. We have hair all over our house. A mix of blonde and brown hairballs roll like tumbleweed along the tile floor. We have consistently clogged drains and a constant need to purchase conditioner and elastic bands. Vin cuts his hair approximately once per year, at the point where it is finally so long that it cannot be contained. I have no idea how much longer this will go on.

 Before I know it we’ll 60 and I’ll be waking up every morning next to a member of ZZ Top.

I hope I’ll look like the hot blonde in the video. But that seems less likely.

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Losing Gravity. And my lunch.

I saw “Gravity” in 3D last weekend, and it kind of felt like drinking a pot of coffee before doing a Triple Lindy off the high dive. Though completely and utterly captivated throughout the entire film, I also felt sincerely nauseous from scene one. As if paying $22 for a matinee wasn’t enough to make me lose my brunch, watching Sandy and George tumble through infinity really made me want to hurl.  Clearly, my stomach was not built for space travel. Or crop tops, for that matter.

Once it was over, I began considering why I experienced such strong somatic symptoms while watching actors get bounced and bobbed around. As it turns out, this movie triggered some long-buried memories I’d blocked out for a reason…

 

It was the night of my high school graduation. There was electricity in the air. (Could have just been the humidity. I went to school in Texas). Anyway, we had just survived three separate speeches referencing Forrest Gump’s “Life is a box of chocolates–you never know what you’re gonna get” bit, and now it was time for fun. The auditorium had been converted into a veritable amusement park for our “Project Graduation” festivities so parent volunteers set up poker tables, food stations and various silly activities. It was kind of like the carnival at the end of “Grease” except no one coupled up and broke into song at the end. Why is real life so disappointing?

The first thing I did was gear up for my sumo wrestling match with my friend Lizzy. The suits must have weighed at least 40 pounds each and devoured every inch of our bodies, rendering us limp and sweaty inside their sticky, bulky shells. Walking around in these fatsuits required every ounce of strength we had, and we were both falling all over ourselves like baby fawn on shaky legs, only far less delicate and way more grotesque. Any chance I’d had of exuding femininity or an ounce of sex appeal was lost in those 15 minutes, and with an opponent who weighed in at 4’10 and 85 pounds, I’m still shocked that I was able to body-check my tiny friend without her dying right there on the auditorium floor.

sumo suit (bouncypro.com:houston)

Image by bouncypro.com/houston

If you’ve never had the singularly weird experience of wearing a rented sumo wrestler costume, let me explain that the grossness you experience inside of it is no match for the disgust you feel once you’ve been aborted from it. You will be drenched from head to toe, and immediately repulsed by the knowledge that you just voluntarily spent a small portion of  your life rolling around inside a rubber beanbag lined with other people’s butt sweat. Not to mention the fact that these costumes include something called an inflatable bladder, which still baffles and horrifies me to this day.

Having exerted so much energy throwing my body around, I emerged from the suit starving and rewarded my win by eating everything that wasn’t glued to a table. Sumo wrestlers eat about 7,000 calories per day, so I really went for it.

Then I made the very poor decision to strap into a gravity-training machine popularized by summer space camps. Before you press play, I ask you to visualize a 17-year-old girl. She is dripping in sweat after having flopped around in a 40-pound rubber suit right before eating her weight in mini tacos and warm cookies.

Okay. You may proceed.

 

Needless to say, when the spinning stopped I hobbled away from that torturous cage like a blind, wobbly drunk and made my way toward the nearest garbage can, which happened to be right in the middle of the crowded auditorium. Surrounded by the majority of my graduating class, I proceeded to barf up everything but my soul. Lizzy’s mom ended up driving me home at midnight, with everyone else partying till the early dawn. The next day I’m sure she mailed a thank you letter to Jesus, a small token of gratitude for having narrowly escaped the horror of me puking in her Suburban or crushing her petite daughter to death with my inflatable bladder.

The truly unfortunate part of this story, and likely the rationale for me having blacked it out until last weekend, is that this was the last time many of my high school classmates ever saw me. Sweaty and pale-faced, being escorted out of a graduation party after barfing in a garbage can. I wanted to go out with a bang, not an eruption.

So this post is dedicated to any members of the Ball High class of ’95 who have found themselves wondering, “Hey! Whatever happened to that girl who puked in the middle of Project Graduation?”

Well, here I am.

Still feeling slightly queasy as I stumble blindly through the vast universe.

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