Friday, December 27, 2013

A bridge in Venice.


Okay, so the move's almost all done, Christmas is all over...but there was one other thing I meant to mention...what was it, again?

Oh! Oh yeah, that's right. Now I remember. That last item on my "to do" list for 2013.

Every Christmas, after we've gone over Josie's, Corb and I have our own tradition. Before we head off to visit his family, we take an hour to make glorious love exchange our own presents, just the two of us.

I've known what I was going to do for quite some time. First, I allowed him the honor of giving me my presents first. Then, I handed him the "boring" presents--the first two seasons of American Horror Story. And then, feigning forgetfulness, I said, "Oh! There was one more thing I forgot to wrap..."

I went to the secret closet (yes, we have a secret closet) and brought out a framed photo I had purchased at TJ Maxx Home Goods, of a bridge in Venice, and presented it to him. And then I said, "Oh, look...there's some writing on the back..."


And then I got down on my knees and I said, "Corb, remember when we were going through our rough spot five years ago, and I said that if we managed to get through that, and you were able to turn things around, then we should get married?"

He nodded. Of course he remembered.

"Well, we've gotten through it," I said. "Will you marry me?"

So, we are engaged! Now, I do need to get him a better ring...the only I handed him was only temporary, because I want him to pick out that for himself. (Me, I really don't like rings...I hate the feel of metal against my skin and avoid it at all costs...but I will pick out a simple one, too.) But, we did it! And only about six months shy of our ten year anniversary.

More to come, but 2013 was clearly a pretty special year for the two of us. We've moved into a much more secure place this year...and we've done it together. ENGAGED! Who woulda thunk?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The house that Horton built.


Corb's research into our new old house has been continuing. The other day he met with the lady from the Historical Society at the library. She took him up to the "secret" fourth floor of the Eldredge library, where he received a chance to take a look at some of the city archives, and make some copies.

The original owner of the house was a man named Edward Horton. This always makes me laugh, because it makes me think of Days of Our Lives. I guess that makes sense though. Isn't Days of our LIves set in Salem, after all? Anyway, the Horton were a prominent family in Eldredge at the time. Edward was a well-to-do business man, who was one of the owners of Horton, Angell & Co, a manufacturer of (among other things) the "original separle sleeve button."

To the left is an advertisement that Corb managed to snag from the archives. He's thinking about blowing it up to a larger size and then framing it on a wall within the house. Lord knows we are going to need artwork in the house--the current owners had beautiful stuff, but we're going to be starting from scratch, and right now, living in an apartment with two bedrooms (three if you count the half bedroom that we created for Ashes), a living room, and a kitchen, we really don't have a whole heck of a lot. I am sure that we will develop sprawl soon, but right now, all we've cultivated is cramped. It will be nice to spread out, and also reclaim all of the stuff that I have in so many other places, like Josie's homestead and my parent's house.

Edward Horton had his factory on a road that's quite close to the apartment complex that we live at today. His family also owned a series of shops right in the center, called Horton Block, back in the middle of the 1800s. It was a huge complex of shops (including a bowling alley) that took up an enormous amount of space in the center of the city. Horton Block no longer exists, however. It was destroyed in the "great fire of Eldredge," which took place at the turn of the century. I do believe that the factory is still around, however, although it's no longer owned by Horton & Angell.

Edward Horton had the house built in 1869. It was located in what is now a fairly ugly series of shopping complexes, including a pawn shop, but at the time, this road was populated by beautiful Victorians owned by some of Eldredge's most prominent families. Including Edward's brother, a Civil War hero who lived across from him in his own Victorian, which was even more beautiful than the one we are purchasing.

The place where our house once stood is now a Papa Gino's. Behind it is, there is a road called "Horton Street." Corb and I drove down it the other day, and It's really not a very nice road at all. The houses are too close together and kind of run down. The whole area has become a victim of urban blight. Progress sometimes sucks.

Stonington NarragansettAnyway, Edward Horton's death was kind of a big deal, from what Corb can see. He was a passenger on the SS Narragansett, a paddler steamer that burned and sank on June 11, 1880, after a collision in Long Island Sound. According to Wikipedia, "The Narragansett had taken on approximately 300 passengers at the North River Pier at Jay St. in New York City at 5:00 pm. Later that evening at around 11:30 pm, in heavy fog, she collided with her sister ship the SS Stonington near the mouth of the Connecticut River. The Stonington was damaged, but was able to return to a port and took no casualties. The Narragansett had a huge gash in the side of her hull, followed by a rapid fire. Many of the passengers asleep in their staterooms were unable to escape. Significant controversy followed the collision, as the captains of the two ships gave different accounts of the accident and the events leading up to it, and the crew of the Narragansett faced accusations of neglecting its duty. Approximately 50 passengers, but only one crewman, died on the Narragansett.One of the passengers on the Stonington was Charles J. Guiteau who, just over a year later, assassinated President James A. Garfield. Guiteau was on deck at the time of the collision, and afterwards believed that he had been miraculously spared to punish Garfield."

All of Eldredge went into mourning over Edward's loss, apparently. Buildings and houses in the center of the city were draped in black, and there was a day of observance to mark his passing.

After that, the house fell out of Horton hands, and eventually, the area started to change, and not for the better. Around 1960, the shopping complexes I mentioned were proposed, and the house that Horton built was targeted for demolition. At the last minute, however, a physician purchased the building, and had it moved to the location it's at today, which is about one mile down the street. Sadly, the more opulent building owned by Edward's brother was torn down to make way for "progress."

The attached rather blurry photo is from the Eldredge Chronicle, and tells the story of the migration of the building from where it stood in Eldredge Center to where it rests now. Apparently the move block up traffic for quite some time. I can see why! It can't be easy to move a house that is 75 tons!

As I have mentioned, eventually, the physician let the place slide, and about ten years ago, the place was totally renovated by a couple who appear to specialize in refurbishing historical old houses.

They did a fantastic job.I am not sure that Corb and I are up to their abilities, but there again, I guess we don't have to be. But we do appreciate the love and attention to detail that they put into it--and hope to keep it as beautiful as it is now, and remember it's history, for as long as the house is ours.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Today was spent house hunting with Tom the realtor guy.

Corb and I have had an idea what we are looking for some time now. We definitely positively absolutely do NOT want a cookie cutter McMansion; one of those new houses all the builders create nowadays that are just perfect for the typical American family with the soccer mom and the 2.5 children and Ward Clever husband. We want something with character, something that will give us space, something that is set away from other folks, that isn't crammed next to someone else's place so that we are breathing down their neck. For some reason, something Victorian keeps bubbling to the surface.

The first house we saw was Victorian and lovely, but too close to other places, with a tiny back yard and a driveway that was horrifying to exit out of, because we had to back out onto a main road.

The second house we had good vibes about from the beginning. Corb has been looking at it online for about a week now. It's on the outskirts of Eldredge, although it is on a main road. But it's set back a ways, so you can't see the street from the house, and the parking area is really quite pretty and spacious. You have to duck under a trellis or two to get to the front door.

And we kind of fell in love. It really is everything we want and more. It was built in 1880, and in the sixties, a doctor had the house moved to the spot it's in now. About ten years ago, a gay couple purchased it and refurbished it. They did such a good job that the Eldredge Historical Society asked them to teach classes in how to refurbish Victorian houses.

It has four bedrooms, one with bay windows that afford a lovely view of the front and one with a Juliet balcony, and a huge backyard, perfect for Theo to play manhunt. It has two dining areas, a den and a study, and best of all...

The perfect place for me to put my writing area. There is a larger area Corb was thinking I would like, but the minute I saw another space I thought, "this is what I want."

It's not too large: just enough space for a desk, a large book area, and an area for me to sit and maybe recline back. Behind it is a closet with sliding doors that I could use as a shelving area for my books and file cabinets.

I don't know. When I sat there, it just felt right. It felt like a place I could be creative in.

And Corb loved the place, too. Every room was just perfect for us.

We told Tom the realtor we would let him know in the morning. Of course, we are going to say we want to make an offer.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Jesus doesn't dance in this here town.

dancing jesus mini bw

His voice echoed in the still darkness. "Ted, I really don't like this."

What's Corb complaining about now? Well, here's the thing: it's nine o'clock on a Saturday night, and instead of partying like the rock stars we are, like we do every Saturday night, OF COURSE, the two of us are walking about at the Mount Hope Cemetery in North Attleboro, MA, on the trail of the elusive dancing Jesus statue.

Who would have thought? A dancing Jesus. What does he do, the hokey pokey?

All right, all right, it's pure hokum, I agree with you. Some nonsense dreamed up by someone trying to make some noise. However, the location is close to Eldredge, and the site is legitimately categorized on the web as an alleged haunted location. Hey, it's on the internet, so it must be true, right?

Apparently, if you stare at the statue long enough, it will start to undulate and dance. Is this a fricking statue of Elvis or Jesus?

We weren't close to seeing it dilate, much less undulate. Instead, we were walking through the cemetery, all alone, navigating through the narrow twisty roadways, my mustang about a quarter of mile away. Searching for the elusive Jesus, we were. Me, with a camera in my hand, and Corb, with a big ass flashlight. It ws a perfect night for ghost hunting, the air cool and crisp. No one around for miles. And here was Corb, getting more creeped out by the second.

Think of him as the Costello to my Abbot. Or would that be the Elvis to my Costello?

Either way, all I know is this graveyard was way too large for us to be alone in it so late at night. This is a lush, old fashioned cemetery, dating back to the 1850s, and during the day it's lovely, filled with stately old trees, lovingly maintained, nestling side by side with row upon row of quaint New England headstones. At night, however, the lack of modern conveniences, like, say, electrical lighting, make it something else entirely. It's like walking through a garden, only it's pitch black and there's a whisper of past lives all around you. It would be the perfect place to reenact the legend of Sleeply Hollow, and Corb increasingly had no desire to go the way of Ichibod Crain.

"Ted, we need to turn around."

"Ted, we need to get back to the car."

"What was that? Ted, I don't like this!"

"Wait a minute." I stopped, pointed ahead of me. "Is that it?"

Cue the choir of angels. There in front of us, a large white statue. Jesus, arms spread wide, certainly looking happy, surrounded by a mess of flowers. The two of us stopped and stared.

A minute went by. Two. No movement.

"Should I break out some disco from my iPhone? A little mood music?" I asked. "Would that help?"

"Shhhhh." Corb stood there, staring at the statue. Another minute passed. And then finally, firmly. "It's just an optical illusion. A trick of the eye. That's what I figured."

"Are we done here?"

Corb nodded. Well, that was certainly anti-climactic. The trip there was scarier and more thrilling than the actual main attraction. But isn't that the way it is for most real life ghost adventures? I snapped a few photos and we turned around. The ghost busters had busted their ghost/not ghost. "Let's get the hell out of here," said Corb, the fear returning into his voice.

Now for the next challenge: figuring out how the hell to get back to the car.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Stupid Shit I Read in People Magazine (September 30 edition)

From the Reader's Mailbag: "Katie Couric is such a genuine person, she deserves happiness! Dying to know what her girls think of the lucky guy." B. Green via Facebook

I mean, dying? Really?

Honestly, there are very few things I'm dying to know. The secret lady handshake, maybe. The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything, absolutely. The day Corb will actually admit I'm right about something, fer sure. But anything involving that "genuine gal" Katie Couric, her lucky guy, or her girls? I'm sorry; not really.

Why on earth do people get so obsessed with celebrities? I just don't get it. And yet, I see it all the time. I have a friend who reads these rags religiously, and she'll go on and on with some of her friends, prattling aimlessly about Miley and Liam breaking up, or what a dog that Lamar was to Khloe. All of it conducted on a first name basis, by the way, as if she actually knows these people. As if by vicariously reading about them and their puffed up PR pieces in some general circulation national magazine, she's been officially made an inner part of their sanctum santorum. Like she's somehow been become a lifelong friend of the bosom.

I mean, I guess I can understand (to a certain extent) the obsession some people have with royalty, which is similar, but at least somewhat justifiable. That sort of hero worship dates back for centuries, back to a time when royalty considered themselves divine. Those things linger, and besides, everyone likes a good fairy tale every now and then. Even then, though, I must confess that I always find myself tuning out whenever I hear talk about Harry this or William that, or the royal bump or baby or what have you. I haven't really paid much attention to any of that stuff since Princess Diana. Married. That was some time ago...

I guess it passes the time. Adds a little color into this world, by squawking about the peacocks. Still, it's one thing to casually talk at the water cooler about the latest lifestyles of the rich and the famous, and another thing altogether to be hanging on the edge of your seat waiting to find out how Katie's kidlets reacted to meeting her lucky guy. Did the squeal with delight? Did they giggle with glee? Who really gives a shit? Well, except maybe Katie Couric and her family, I guess. That's their business.

Oh, I get it. This poor Facebook reader who wrote to People magazine "via" Facebook was simply engaging in a bit of hyperbole (and by the way, I'm still trying to get used to the fact that via now means "by means of" as well as "by way of.") Even so, all this hero worship takes precious time away from talking about the important things in life.

Important things like talking about the bride who pushed the groom over the cliff, for THAT's important.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Stupid Shit I Read in People Magazine (August 26 edition)

Two years have passed since (Oprah's) last show, and what does Winfrey...not miss? The early hours. "Now the most exciting thing is to be able to wake up when my body naturally wakes up. lately that's 7:24 a.m." She has a ban on alarm clocks. "I hate them! I don't want to be jarred. It ruins my day."

God I know this feeling. If only I had a gazillion dollars in my personal Swiss bank account so I could banish alarm clocks, too!

And why the hell 7:24, by the way? Why not 7:25? Why not 7:30? It just seems so random and arbitrary a time. Is there some mystic explanation for 7:24? Could Dr. Phil offer a psychological underpinning? Could the author of The Secret tell her the reason she wakes up at 7:24 every morning is that generation upon generation of the world's greatest thinkers have woken up at 7:24 in the morning, too? That in order to truly embrace the Secret, all righteous thinkers have to set their body's inner alarm clocks to go off at 7:24?

I asked Corb about this strange time sequence, and he nodded, in that sage manner he has. As if such a thing were perfectly reasonable. "Oh yes," he said, in a tone most people use for discuss such solemn things as the pending bombings in Syria or the new twist in the Paula Deen scandal. "My inner body alarm wakes me up at 5:03 each morning, actually."

What he's NOT saying is that his inner self then goes over to the nightstand where his inner body alarm rests and SHUTS IT OFF FOR ANOTHER HOUR AND A HALF. I know, I have the proof! I'm the one who has to sit there and listen to him snore for the next ninety minutes. Or is that just the sound of his inner alarm clock ringing, which he just forgot to turn it off? 

The world may never know.

And then it dawned on me. The really scary thing about Oprah being able to finally wake up when her body wants to wake up is that she's STILL waking up ten minutes earlier than I am on most days. Damn her! Way to go, Oprah, now that you're slacking off, you're still making me feel like a slacker. 

Not that I don't try to wake up earlier. As I lay me down to sleep, my brain teems with thoughts of what I could do, if I just made the effort to make it an early to rise kind of day. I could squeeze in a blog entry more than once every two weeks. I could work on that extra report for the boss man. I could get that much closer to publishing my book. I could start building the addition to the deck that Corb's been craving for years.

Yeah, I know, I could do all that. Unfortunately, though, I'm stuck with a body that naturally likes to wake up at the very last possible minute before I have to go to work. Every day. Without fail. Even with one of those annoying alarm clocks that go off and jar you and ruin your day. 

Maybe that's why I don't have a gazillion dollars in a personal Swiss bank account.

Or maybe it's taken Oprah all these years to catch up with me? Yeah, that totally has to be it...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"Ready for my close up, Mr. Demille."

Although I do love to travel, I'm really not wild about the public side of public transportation. Inherent in this concept is the necessity of having to interact with the public, after all, and this means actually speaking to people, getting close to people, letting people get in your bidness. I don't particularly like anyone getting up in my bidness, thank you very much. I only spill everything on the internet. It's cleaner that way.

During the trip to New Orleans I had one man--a farmer from Atlanta--who insisted in telling me all about his family and the problems they were having getting to Cape Cod. God, it was so annoying. Eventually, I did get into it and found him kind of charming, and my daughter Ashes thanked me profusely for taking the heat off of her. Still, there was a huge learning curve from annoyance to charm. At first I gave him one word answers, looked away. Tried to look down at the paperback in my hands. Finally, I succombed.

But the worst was on the plane ride home from Missouri. On the trip, I was 22B, which of course meant I was right smack between A and C. At first I thought this was going to turn out just fine, because the girl in the window seat had her headphones on and kept to herself. And, the seat to my right was empty. "What luck," I thought. Maybe I'll catch a break and the flight won't be so full. Maybe once we lift off I can scoot over and-

"Here's your spot, professor." I looked up. A beautiful Indian woman motioned to the place next to mine. "Here is where you sit."

Answering her call: an enormous African American gentleman with an afro the size of Cleveland. He stood at least seven feet tall and looked as if at one point he had been half of a basketball team. He was dressed in a strict black suit, like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction. This thin and tall drink of water possessed eyes that were perpetually alert, constantly on the move. He held a small book in his hands.

He sat down and immediately turned to me. Extended a hand. "Good afternoon, sir. How are you, today?"

I put on my show face. A warm smile, which wasn't very warm at all. "Just great. How are you?" See, short answers. Then I went back to reading my book.

He turned his head and spoke sotto voce to the person across the aisle. "See, that's how you do it. Make a polite introduction, even if you don't say another word to the person for the rest of the trip."

What? I heard tittering around me. I glanced up. All the eyes in the seats around us were focused on the man next to me. In those seats were college kids as minty fresh as wrapped candies, of all races and creeds. They all looked squeaky clean, as if Mitt Romney had sneezed all over them.

My immediate thought: I was surrounded by a cult. Shit! I mustn't call attention to myself by looking around. Quickly, I stuck my head back in my book prop.

The doctor's grew louder. "You know, I was trying to think of an ice breaker to use for this flight. In fact, I thought all night about it. Then it came to me. Here's what I thought: let's say you were approached by a famous Hollywood producer and offered five million dollars to tell the story of your life.

"What would be your opening scene?"  

I jerked my head up. Wait, was he talking to me? But no, he was turned away, he was talking to the college kids. I was safe. Head back into book prop.

A Chinese boy in the row across raised his hand. "Five million dollars, just for the opening scene?"

"Five million dollars for the story of your life, but what would the opening scene be?" The man chuckled, pleased with his ice breaker. "I'm actually writing my own screenplay about this, so be warned, you might end up in it. So what is your opening scene, Xang?"

Although I couldn't measure Xang's reaction because I was supposedly too absorbed in my book, it certainly sounded enthusiastic. "I would start with the day my father walked out on our family. I was 15 years old. I would show how that bonded my mother and sisters and made us stronger from the experience."

"Excellent, excellent!" The preacher man (for that is what I decided he was) nodded appreciatively. "And you, young lady? What would your opening scene be?"

Oh, shit, It was at this point I realized he was going around the cabin. Would he stop with the kids? Would he move on to me? Would he involve the entire plane?

This was intolerable! I had no urge to tell complete strangers the story of my life. What would I do if he turned to me with all those overeager college students paying rapt attention? Besides, what story would I tell? Would I talk about my split with Josie? My meeting Corb for the first time? Would I dig real deep and talk about the time in high school I chased my best friend into a costume closet and we fell into each other's arms and held each other for twenty minutes, and how that moment shaped my entire life?

Yes, what a LOVELY scene that would be to share with the kids. Twenty minutes in heaven. I sat there and imagined the reaction.

Ack! This was terrible. Frantically, I fished around for an escape route. I knew my little book prop wouldn't be enough to safe me from the inevitable. I needed something stronger. I glanced at the girl next to me. Head phones! Yes, I had head phones in my carry on bag. Perhaps if I dragged out my iPhone and plugged them in I could pretend I was listening to least until the plane...

"Yes, the birth of your baby brother certainly would be a powerful way to start off the story of your life, particularly seeing as you assisted with the birthing. And you sir? Would you like to participate in our little ice breaker?"

BUSTED! I dropped the head phones from my hand. Guiltily, I looked up. The preacher man's alert eyes were focused straight on me, pinning me up against my airline cushion. He had an easy smile on his face, but there was a firmness there, hovering around the edges.

I looked around. All the kids were staring at me, a silent chorus. I licked my lips, felt a lump in my throat. I was being called on to perform. How much of myself did I dare reveal?

"Well, you see...that is..." I felt as if my head were going to explode. "Well..."

And then it hit me. Of course! I literally stood up two inches straighter. "Funny you should ask. I know exactly how I'd start that movie," I replied. "That movie of my life."

The doctor feigned interest. And I thought to myself, he's more interested in catching me, pinned and wiggling up against my airline seat. "And how would that be, sir?"

I paused for dramatic effect, aware that I was, for just this minute, the center of attention. This mild mannered looking middle aged bald guy that none of these kids had ever met, ever would meet again, this chump who hardly cut a distinguished figure in my red Led Zep T-shirt and khaki shorts. Certainly not compared to the preacher man in his natty black suit.

And then I said,

"So there I was, sitting on a plane headed back from Missouri. Just minding my own business. And out of nowhere. this gentlemen sits down next to me, looks me in the eye and asks, 'If you were offered five million dollars to tell the story of your life, what would the opening scene be?' And that's what it would be, all right. Just that. That's my opening scene."

And with that, I went back to reading my book.

I didn't hear a word from anyone for the rest of the flight. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Tedwords Tomes: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Really, there are too few books out there that make you feel.

I mean, evoke a real emotion. Most fiction simply moves you along on a tidal wave of action. Biographies and histories fill you up with page upon page of facts. Political invective intends to make you something, I suppose (it certainly doesn't intend to appeal to your head,) but that emotion is primarily hatred for the other guy, whoever that is. I don't consider that genuine feeling.

Then there are books like The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, which is a book that makes you feel the real deal. Those sorts are far and few between. The book was released in June, so it's actually quite remarkable I've read it, but after having done so, I'm placing it up there with some of my favorite children's classics, like A Wrinkle in Time or The Dark is Rising saga. The former, because of the obvious echo the newer book contains between its female protagonists and Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. The latter, because of the sense of childish comfort I derived from both, like a thick quilt your mother would throw over your bed as you were sleeping on a cold winter's night. 

The story involves a middle aged man who returns to his childhood home in Sussex, England to attend a funeral, and is drawn to a farm at the end of the road. When he was seven, he met a remarkable girl there named Lettie, along with her mother and grandmother. Of course, from there, the story becomes one long flashback. We are swept up, like a wave upon the sea, into his story, his discovered memory of past events. And while I have absolutely no idea what our narrator looks like, either in childhood and in middle age, and while some descriptions are a bit overused (yes, I am well aware that Lettie has lots of freckles. Thanks!) those quibbles are trifles, really. It's the bigger things in this story that make it so vivid and memorable. 

Neil Gaiman has a talent few other authors possess: he captures the feeling and emotions of being a child vividly. He's done that in other novels, but in this one there are clearly bits snipped from his own life that have been woven throughout, giving the novel a sense of authenticity that make the fantastical elements spring to life, like bacon on a skillet. That, and the delicious way he has of capturing the absurd make this one tasty meal, indeed.

Particularly vivid is the villainess of the piece, a nasty piece of work known as Ursula Monkton. This book is at its best when it is chronicling the little tortures she visits upon our narrator. The child who all at once finds his or her safe family surroundings becoming a place of horror and fear has always been a fascination of mine. Was it always that way? Had it been eroding for a while? That look at childish creature comfort being intruded upon by adult creature unpleasantries always makes for great fiction, and Ursula's methodical deconstruction of a once seemingly halcyon family environment into something approaching a perverse prison camp is particularly gripping. I flew through those pages. My kids became irritated as I made little worried noises. It's really good writing.

The best writing of all is the contrast between the clear sightedness of childhood set against the delusion that adulthood often represents. At the book's heart is the following marvelous quote:

Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did, when they were your age. The truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane made me remember what I look like on the inside, what I felt as a child. It returned me to a more innocent and creative time. It made me feel things I should be feeling every day of my life, like how truly breathtaking a full moon can be or how comforting a good slice of warm pie can feel after a particularly bad day. Or, how a really good book can have the power to take you to another place and time.

These are all good things to remember, even if, as the narrator does, the present somehow manages to make you forget them in the blink of an eye. That's why we need more books like this one. Read it. You'll see what I mean.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Tedwords Picture Parade: Aztec quilts

harry true

At the Harry Truman presidential library. 

After a robust study of the problems facing the world and middle America in the late fourties and early fifties, we stepped into the courtyard. Corb stared at the twin walkways running parallel between a row of bushes and punctuated at both ends by flagpoles with a big old waving American flags. He wrinkled his nose. "I hate symmetry," he said.

"I like it," I replied. "Only, I like one thing to be slightly askew, so it's not completely symmetrical."

"That means it's not symmetrical, bonehead," laughed Corb.

"No, no!" I protested. "It's like the Aztecs and their rugs. They deliberately placed flaws in their works so that--"

"Those were the Amish and it's a complete fabrication," said Corb, smugly, and I thought, 'most rugs are complete fabrications,' but stopped myself. Didn't matter. Corb was on a roll. "Aztec quilts. Hah!"

Now I was starting to see red. "First off, I didn't say anything about quilts. I mentioned rugs. That's not the same thing."

"You said quilts."

"I did not."

"You said quilts."


"And secondly, it's actually the Amish, not the Aztecs," said Corb at his most patronizing. "I just read it in a book about common American myths, and the whole thing a lie. The Amish didn't do that with their quilts. I know, I just read it!"

Really, I did try to sound calm, even though every fabrication in my being (it's a joke, son) wanted to rip out his lungs. "No. It was the Aztecs. I'm not denying what you read was about the Amish, but I can assure you, what I read was about the Aztecs, and I read it many years ago. It stated that they believe that if a certain craft was too perfect, it was..."

"An insult to God, yeah yeah yeah," said Corb, waving it away. "Maybe you just messed it up after all these years. It was about the Amish, and they actually didn't do anything of the sort. Aztec quilts. Hah!"



"I DID NOT!!!!!!!!!"

"Hmmm," said Corb's cousin, sounding slightly stunned, as we walked out of the courtyard and into the research area. "Kind of wish I had taken my own car, today..."



Six hours later, as I was relaxing in the hotel room, I came across the following internet post:

"I could have ripped it back, but I refer you back to that philosophy of the Aztecs, who deliberately introduced flaws into their work, as they knew that if they one day found a perfectly crafted item, it had to have been made by the Gods. I don’t necessarily have the same belief, but it makes me chill out when I make mistakes that won’t make my whole piece unravel!"

Justification! I copied the post and sent the link to Corb and Shelley. It's the little things in life that make it worth living.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Stupid Shit I Read in People Magazine (July 15 edition)

Matt Perry

This week's issue of People magazine...or was it last week's? I think I actually have next week's issue, too. Gah, the early cover dating to try and maximize sales ploy always messes me up...

Anyway, this week's issue reminded me that I had wanted to post SOMETHING about the fact that former New England Patriots tight end (that always sounds so dirty to me) and current suspected mass murderer Aaron Hernandez lives only two minutes away from the old Homestead. I mean, you could literally walk to his home from my old home. Not that I would!

Can you believe it? We have a mass murderer in our neighborhood! And we don't even live in New York City.

In fact, on the day the body of his former "friend" (with friends like these...) was discovered, Corb was driving through the Industrial Park where the body was discovered, to pick up the kidlets, and noticed a bunch of police officers scouring the woods. He remembers thinking at the time, "Now, this is odd." Then the thought popped out of his head.  I only learned about that one a week after it happened...Corb gets distracted by shiny objects.

Actually, Annie was friendly with Aaron Hernandez. Because she used to work in the hotel industry, she struck up a friendship with him while he was a rookie and she was working at a hotel near Foxboro stadium. She said he seemed like a really nice, down to earth guy. And, she had bumped into him at the supermarket a few days before the murder and spoke to him for a half an hour about things like babies and diapers. You know, new parent kind of things.

She feels kind of sad about the whole thing. I just find it interesting that you can know someone one a new parent, as a sweet rookie player...and because you know him or her in that manner, you find it hard to see that person in another light...say, as a gangsterish thug who seems to likes to orchestrate executions.

We get stuck. I think there's a scientific term for it. Our initial impression of a person becomes the predominate impression--we see them as we knew them. It's kind of like my relationship with my sister Laurie. It will never progress any farther because we knew each other (to quote Doctor Who) in a fixed time and place. That transcends all, that defies any sense of time or passage or growth. Or, lack of growth. Annie wants to see him as a sweet new father with a gazillion dollars from a big football team.

It's kind of like how I see Matthew Perry. I want to see him as that annoying Chandler on the show Friends, not as an Asian Addict, which it appears he's turned in to. Why he's addicted to Asians is beyond me, frankly. I mean, I find many Asians attractive, but I wouldn't exactly say that I'm addicted to any one race of people...oh, what? Oh, that's "As an Addict"? I always do read those headlines way too quickly...

Anyway, today is the day that I speak with my boss about my last day at work! I handed in my notice last Wednesday, but he then went away to Mexico for a week and I haven't spoken with him since. Today should actually be my last day in the office, doing actual work. I'm planning to go to New York to go over the transition Monday and Tuesday, and then have a trip to Missouri with Corb to visit some relatives of his. Expect lots of farm photos!

This has been a weird week. Organizing your life for departure after twenty years at one place is just a strange feeling. More on that later.

Tedwords Picture Parade: Helping hands


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Roam with a gnome.

Up until a few days ago, we had a next door neighbor who lived on the second floor of our apartment. Her name is Pat, and she has beautiful gray hair and a broad, open face, with hardly a wrinkle on it, despite her years. She has a pear-shaped body and  never fails to have a big bright smile on her face. I've never heard her say a negative word about anything. That might account for the absence of wrinkles.

She also has a hunch to her back, which makes it extremely difficult to get around. Some days I would watch her make her way up the stairs and wondered what it was like to live like that. She'd slouch down, and she'd grab on to the railing. Then, step by step, she'd shuffle her way up the stairs, resigned and determined. She'd never asked for help, even if she had a big load of groceries she had to carry up the stairs. Our friend Linda had informed us early on that she'd have been offended if we had asked. She wanted to do it on her own, and did not want anyone to make a big deal of her disability.

The only time she actually asked for anything was during the winters, when it would snow out. Then, she would let Corb and me shovel out her car for it. She drove a white PT Cruiser, and the retro look suited and framed Pat. I could just see her tooling around in her jaunty vehicle, adventuring in a classic car with that big confident smile on her face.

Anyway, about a week ago, we started noticing signs that Pat was moving. Came home one day to find two guys moving a couch out of her house. Her daughter was stopping by more frequently, carrying boxes. And then,one day, there was a big moving van there, and a steady stream of stuff was heading out of her place.

I managed to grab Pat during one of these streams. "You leaving us?" I asked, trying to keep things light and fluffy, just the way I thought she liked it.

She beamed, her bright intelligent eyes squinting slightly, as she nodded her head enthusiastically. "Yep! Tomorrow's my last day here." And then, as if she had to get it out. "Thanks for shoveling the car for me, all those times. You guys were a lot of help!"

"How about if she's going to a nursing home?" I fretted to Corb, later that night, in bed. "That back of hers might be getting worse. How about if she's not able to get around any more? I'd hate to see her sad. I'd hate to see her in a nursing home."

"Relax," said Corb. It was ten and he was anxious to get to sleep. He had been awake enough for one day. "She'll be fine. Don't worry." These were words he has to say quite a bit to me, by the way. He is well used to them.

The next morning was Saturday and I had to bring Theo to work early. As I made my way to the first floor, I looked outside, and I noticed that Pat's Cruiser was parked in the front. There was Pat, in the driver's seat. Oh God, I thought, this is her good-bye.

Then I noticed something else. Standing next to the Cruiser was Pat's daughter with a big ceramic lawn gnome in her hands. As I walked down, she placed the gnome on the roof of the car, right over Pat's head. She stood back to take a photo. Pat flashed a winning smile.

I allowed time for the photo to be taken, then walked out. Pat had a sheepish look on her face, as if I had caught her doing something she hadn't wanted anyone else to see, "We're going traveling," she called out, sounding happier than I've ever heard her. "He's coming with us."

Immediately, my mood lifted. This was eaxctly how I wanted to think about Pat! Traveling the country, seeing the sites, along with her daughter and her lawn gnome. Taking photos, sharing them with friends. Pat in DC, Pat at Mt. Rushmore. That big broad smile, those bright eyes, seeing the country, taking a road trip. Adventuring.

Was it one last trip before a nursing home? I don't want to know and I don't care. I just want to think of Pat perpetually discovering America. Eating at diners. Bringing her lawn gnome in for a nibble. No flat tires, no car trouble, just blue skies, apple pie, and sunshine. And, Pat.

If you happen to spot a white PT Cruiser driven by an older lady with a lawn gnome, say hi, won't you? That's probably my friend Pat. Roaming. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Stupid Shit I Read in People Magazine (July 8 edition)


She was in her bedroom, where she clearly had been all day. Her laptop was resting on her knees. Probably working on a story, writer that she is. Head bent down. She looked a little irritated that I had interrupted her concentration. "Yes?"

"The love I have for you is primal."

Ashes wrinkled her nose. If I had farted into her room, she couldn't have looked more disgusPaula-Deen-Under-Fire-PEOPLE-Coverted. "That's...really creepy, dad."

What a sweet girl. I beamed.

"Dad, could you do me a favor and tell that to Theo?" she asked.

"Of course." I pulled back her curtain and walked down the door to his room. Knocked on his door. He didn't answer. I waited a few seconds, in case he was masturbating, and then opened it up. "Theo?"

He looked up from the video game he was playing. "Yes?"

"The love I have for you is primal."

I stood there and smiled in my most winning fashion. He stared into my eyes for a moment. And then he said, "Could you please leave?"

I closed the door, humming 'Can you feel the love tonight," to myself. Ah, the love of a father with his children.

"You know how bad that sounds, right?" Ashes asked, as I headed back to her room. "Primal just sounds plain dirty. It sounds like you love us in a dirty way."

"How terrible!" I said, shocked beyond belief. "I just read in People magazine that famous actor James Gandolfini was found dead in Italy on a trip with his 14 year old son. And when his former fiancee Lora Somoza heard it, she thought, 'At least he was with the great love of his life when he passed. I remember he once said the love he had for his son is primal.' Primal. Isn't that touching? And all I wanted to do was pass that on to you."

Ashes shook her head. "It sounds dirty to me."

Dirty? Ah, the nerve of these kids! Equating primal love with something dirty. They don't get it, the way I got it, the way recently-deceased noted actor James Gandolfini got it. The ingrates don't know good love when they see it. We'll see if I ever shower my primal love on them again!

Ingrates. It was enough for me to take up drinking. Again.

I waited until Corb arrived home from the work, after the kids were long gone. I waited until he had taken his shoes off and he had thrown them into the closet. And then I said,

"The love I have for you is primal."

Corb blinked for a moment, taking in this heartfelt declaration of love. It was clear, he was looking for the right words to express the feelings he had inside. It was obvious, he wasn't going to let me down, the way my kids had. He would clearly be the one I took to Italy to have a heart attack with.

"You smell like doo doo butter," he replied. Then, headed for the bathroom.

Sigh. It must be the delivery. Clearly, James Gandolfini was a far, far better actor.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Are you experienced?

Mr. Trip 2

Stop me if you've heard this one before: there we were, in a cornfield in Oklahoma, just me, a tornado victim, a production crew, and an insane director.

Stop right there. Jesus, I always mess up jokes. The truth is, we couldn't have been in a cornfield. That whole week I was in Oklahoma, I didn't once see a corn field. One of the natves clued me in on a dirty little secret on my second day there: in Oklahoma, the corn really isn't as high as an elephant's eye. In fact, the only line in that song that has any honesty is the one about the wind sweeping down the plain.

And boy, does it. Which was why I was standing there in ninety degree weather with that tornado victim and that crazy director, filming a video in the sweltering heat. What nature had wrought had been harrowing, and the stories being told about hiding in closets as the twister closed down upon your house, of the dreams destroyed and property lost spoke to the heroic spirit of the people who lived here. It also told me I'd never live in this place, not in a million years.

"And, cut." Her raspy cigarette-ravaged voice, reminding me of none other than Mercedes McCambridge, filled the ear.

With that, Amy hopped off the soap box to give the old man sitting in the rocking chair a big hug. She was a comical figure, an aging sixties hippie with a big floppy hat on her head and a willowy floral outfit that she insisted protected her from the sun. She ran over to the man, gave him a big sweaty hug. "You were so good," she cooed, holding his head in her hand. He gazed up at her with complete adoration. Then, when all that nonsense was done, she turned to the cameraman, all business. "How was that?" she barked out.

The cameraman, not one for gush, nodded. "It was okay."

Amy frowned. "Okay? I don't want okay, I want to know how it went. Okay doesn't tell me anything. When I ask you a question, I want an answer. Christ!"

Well, that did it. She was so completely done with him. She turned to me. "Can you believe this guy?" She moved closer, whispering in a conspiratorial fashion, which was ridiculous, because he was still only about a foot away, and could hear every word. "You know, I never wanted to use this clown for this shoot. Too negative. I've always hated working with him. He has a bad attitude. When I saw his name on the production list, I wanted to fire him on the spot. But I gave him a second chance. I believe in redemption, Ted." Her voice rose, as she started to forget she was talking shit about the guy right next to her. "I wish I had fired him. He's lousy." She elongated that last word for dramatic effect. The cameraman looked like he was about to say something, but then decided to move on.

In an instant, her attitude changed again. Amy was like a tornado in Oklahoma. Her dark moods would come up her quickly, cause havoc, and then disappear from view. Now she was beaming at me. She reached out her hands for me to take them. "What did you think, babe?"

I grabbed those sweaty hands. I was a PR pro, after all. I always knew the right bullshit to sling. "Just great, Ames! This is going to be terrific."

I mean, it was a company video, for God's sake. We weren't exactly filming Gone with the Wind. We had a small camera crew and a styrofoam board to control the lighting. I wasn't exactly expecting miracles.

I also hadn't been expecting Amy. When we first started on the video, I thought the director of the shoot would be the same guy who had produced our last one, three years ago in Alabama. He was a low key guy, soft spoken and efficient. Corporate. Unfortunately, he had been busy and she had been doing a lot of work for the company recently, so...I should have known during my first encounter when, by way of introduction, he has passed the baton over to her by saying, "Welcome to the Amy Danielson experience."

She lived up to that introduction from the very start. Amy was anything but Corporate, a fact that I kind of liked. She was from Los Angeles, a fact that she wore proudly. Within five minutes of our first meeting, we were bickering about animal rescue shelters. One of our customers had lost a dog in the tornado, and Amy got it into her head that she wanted to interview someone at the local animal shelter to see if that happened a lot.

"Amy, this is a video about how our company helped out our customers," I pointed out.

"Oh, I know, I know," she rasped, clearly brushing that aside. "The lost animal is an interesting side story, though. Maybe we could end the video with information on how to contact your local animal rescue league to make a donation or something. Or, hey! Maybe the company could make a donation!"

Maybe Sarah McLachlin could come in and star in it, too. "But Amy," I repeated, trying to be patient. "That's not the point of this video. When would you film that? It would take a long time to shoot, and we only have two days."

"Just think about it. Be creative."

And I was the one she got along with! As I said, she hated her production crew, with the sole exception of her Production manager Cindy, who she was paying for out of her own pocket. Cindy was everything Amy was not: sweet, friendly, calm, and possessed of the patience of Job. The rest of the crew Ames had no use for. They were all misfits: the camerman (negative), sound guy (lazy), and the PA, who was a hot college junior (clueless.)

She did like the customers--and they loved her. She was truly excellent with that. On the other hand, while she seemed to like most of the company adjusters (with one big exception,) they didn't quite get what the Amy Danielson experience was all about.

Which made sense. It was kind of like Sheriff Bart coming to visit the local townsfolk in Blazing Saddles. Cut to narration by Gene Wilder: "You have to understand, these are simple, practical folks. People of the earth." these are people who are used to dropping everything to cross the country and help out people during times of disaster. They are not used to LA folk and their ways. And Amy had ways...

Like, after the first day of shooting, she made it a point at dinner to go around the room to each and every adjuster and kiss them on the top of their heads. It was meant to say "I love all of you," I guess, but the look of irritation on their faces as this flaky director made the rounds was priceless. Or the way she would try to get the male adjusters to loosen up by brushing up against them with her boobs and rubbing their arms and shoulders and having deep, thirty minute conversations with them. Perhaps that would have been helpful, in anything other than 90 degree weather. In that heat, it was simply sweaty, gross and annoying. It made them more agitated, and it kept the rest of us waiting around, annoyed.

Then there was the way she liked to disrobe. She was a practicing nudist, she confessed to me at dinner on the night of the kissing-go-round. She thought nothing of taking off her clothes at the drop of a hat. I didn't realize that she would put this into practice until the second day of the shoot, when she decided to take her clothes off and change into a new outfit. Although she had her poor PA use the styrofoam sound board to cover her from the front, that hardly protected the sides. I discovered this fact as one of the adjusters and I were walking back to the scene.

We stopped, mid conversation. There they were, in dazzling technicolor. Amy's breasts, dangling in the breeze. "When did this become a nature video?" I joked, but the adjuster, a good old boy from Texas, turned all shades of beet red and walked away as quickly as possible.

Now, I'm no prude, and aside from this unexpected display of exhibitionism, I rather enjoyed my initimate discussions with Ames. At dinner, I opened up about my life, and she chatted away about hers--about her three husbands, especially about her gay second husband and his huge cock. About how she found him in Central Park one day, servicing several other men at a park bench. These are the sort of stories I live for. Tell me more, more, MORE LA lady! This was the foundation upon which we became good friends.

Anyway, I am sure it will be a really good video, because Amy really did pour time and creativity into it. The stories of the customers and adjusters will certainly come through. Be that as it may, I think that the common consensus is that we'd think tiwce before hopping aboard the Amy Danielson experience again. She was too mean to her crew and tended to agitate the adjusters. She was moody and mercurial and had to be reined in a lot. All in all, the end probably wouldn't justify another means.

But, oh! What an experience it was. When it comes to devastation, I will never forget the tornado-strong winds that gusted out of L.A. Amy. She is one of a kind and a character, and I like that about her. It gave me something to talk about for a week now. It made the time spent memorable. In a world where all we really have are memories, that's saying a great deal. My time spent with Amy will certainly not be gone with the wind...not for any time soon.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tales of the traveling hat.


Ames texted me: Don't forget to bring a wide brimmed hat for the film shoot

In the land of underwear and socks, I flipped out my cell phone and texted back: Getting hat now.

"But do you think it's a little too much?" I whined to Corb as I placed the hat on my head. It was an explorer's hat, all right. Stanley would most decidedly have met Livingstone in it, if there was a WalMart around in those days selling cheap wide-brimmed hats. "Where's a mirror? I need to see what I look like here."

"Be quiet and pose," said Corb, whipping out his camera. He reached over and pulled down the strings that wrapped around the front of the hat, so that it looked like I was wearing a baby bonnet. "And make a pouty face, while you're at it."

Being the obedient servent I am, I complied. Then, like a dog with a bone, I returned to my topic. "But it looks really silly, right? I mean, even without the baby face. Even though Ames is insisting I bring this, I look totally ridiculous, don't I?" Ames, by the way, is the director of the video shoot. She from LA and has a voice that would make Mercedes McCambridge proud. 

"You look fine," replied Corb, then giggled. "I gotta post this onto Facebook!"

"Oh, Jesus..." And with that, I raced to the changing rooms. I made a beeline into the nearest open room. "Just a second!" I called out to the Hispanic woman overseeing the rooms, who frowned and tried to protest I was in a handicapped changing room.

I ignored her. I stared in the mirror. "Hmmm..."


Thirty minutes later, Corb and I reached Josie's place. The kids were relaxed on the couch, in that lifeless rag doll pose that all teenagers assume when they are resting on a couch.

The first words out of Theo's mouth:

"What are you wearing on your head?"

He said it precisely, in clipped, measured tones. Apparently, the King was not amused.

I posed for him. "Oh, do you like it? It's my traveling hat."

Theo paused for a moment. He pursed his lips. "I do not like it."

"Oh. Isn't there a Doctor Seuss book like this? 'Do you like my hat?' 'I do not like your hat.' 'Good-bye.' 'Good-bye.'" I walked into the living room to sit down next to him.

A foot, placed on the section of the couch I intended to sit in. "So, I get it's your traveling hat. Why are you wearing it now?"

"Oh. I'm breaking it in."

Ashes looked up from the book she was reading. "Dad," she said, amused. "Some things are better left not broken in."


This trip is really kind of weird to me, because the timing is just so off.

I know how these video shoots go. It's a full day of taping and setting up the shots and trudging through debris and talking to people and doing the political stuff, like haking hands and making small talk. By the end of the day, you're exhausted, and you have absolutely no time to do anything else BUT the work at hand. Which means, that I am going to get nothing else but this video done for the next our days. And after that, I have all next week off.

This is like two weeks out of work, and I'm a little worried about what's going to happen to all the other stuff I'm working on. Then again, it could be good experience for the people I work with, if the job offer that Joe is dangling in front of me comes to be. Maybe it's time they learn to do the things that I do.


Arrived in Oklahoma. Picked up the rental car and drove to the hotel. Made it into the lobby, just in time for our production meeting.

"It's a nice hat," said Amy, approving. "Cut off those strings. They make you look silly."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

An act of beer.

As with most couples, our holidays are always divided up among our families. Memorial day, being a somewhat minor holiday, isn't much squabbled over, and it's become a day dedicated to visiting Corb's family. Usually at his mother's house, usually involving a cookout. How freaking American.

This year's barbecue was actually held at his brother Scott's cookie-cutter McMansion, with the large pool and the row upon row of similar palatial monstrostrities squeezed in next to each other. Eh, the food is good, and Scott's wife Tina was really helpful with Ashes, who undwerwent surgery for removal of a cyst in her breast about a week ago (to our great relief, it's benign.)

Corb's grandmother, who has been in and out of the hospital and rehab facilities for almost a year now, was allowed out to visit. She came equipped with a wheelchair, walker, and oxygen tank. Getting her onto the deck was an ordeal in itself.

Every time I see her she seems more and more frail. The Parkinson's seems to be getting worse, and one of her fingers on her left hand seems to be drooping. Still, she seems to have a bit of fight left in her. We parked her in a shady spot next to her favorite food: salsa and a bowl of nachos. Tina placed a bottle of iced water next to her, so she would have something to sip.

I could tell she was having trouble, as she grabbed a few chips and valiantly tried to dip them into the salsa and bring them to her mouth.

"Want me to help?" I asked, making sure I spoke to her like an old friend rather than talking down to her. I hate it when people do that. She nodded, and I scooped the chips into the salsa and brought them to her mouth. I felt almost like a mother feeding a baby bird, except for the disgusting pre-chewing part of things.

"Can I get you anything else?" I asked, after four or five nachos.

"Yes," she said, eyeing the water jug next to her with disdain. "Can you get me a beer?"

"A beer it is," I said, smiling. Yes, that's the spirit.

A plastic glass filled with Bud light located. Glass brought to lips, her entire demeanor relaxed. It's amazing how a simple thing can serve to change the dynamics. Despite the discomfort she felt being carried onto the deck, the attention paid to her, the fuss that had made, there she was, kicking back a beer, feeling a bit less self-conscious, a little more normal for a few precious minutes. 

I smiled and glanced at Corb's mom. "What a day," I said, and winked. "Nachoes, salsa, and a cold beer. If Ernest Hemingway were to drop in and hit on grandma, the day would be complete."

Diana shook her head, recognizing immediately one of her mother's favorite life stories. "If Ernest Hemingway were to drop by, I'd be more than a little worried."

Then, on to the burgers. These are the days to treasure.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The politics of suds.

Living in an apartment isn't necessarily a social experience. Really, there are relatively few times we interact with our neighbors, other than possibly to wave to them or say hi as we are exiting or entering the building. Our next door neighbor across the hall, Linda the Cat Lady, is a little different, but even then...she knocked on my door yesterday to borrow two chairs and a table from our deck, for Mother's day. It was the first time I had a full-on conversation with her in about a month.

The one exception is the laundry room. I DREAD the laundry room.

It's not the inconvenience of actually socializing. It's the fact that there's only one washer and one dryer in our apartment building, which means that everyone is fighting for the same piece of real estate.

Our neighbor on the second floor is the worst. She has two small children and honestly feels that the laundry area belongs to her family. Which means that she does a load and then leaves it there for hours. Sometimes days! One time I opened up the washer and her clothes actually smelled moldy from being in there, damp, for so long. And don't get me started about having to pick out other people's clothing from a washer or dryer. It's just...uncomfortable.

Yesterday, I wanted to do all the laundry, but the second floor lady was hogging all the action. Today, I went down with a load, determined to get it done. The place was covered with piles and baskets, but fortunately, both the washer and dryer doors were open.

At last! I couldn't tell where she was in the process, but the lights were off, which meant she hadn't been there recently. Now was the time to get that little load done. As fast as I could, I shoved my laundry into the washer.

And the MINUTE I closed the door and turned the washer on, I heard the door open upstairs. Footsteps down to the laundry room.

It was the lady from the first floor, with a small bag in her hand. NOT the annoying lady from the second floor. It looked like she had run out of detergent or something and had gone to the supermarket. Had I stolen her place in line?

Here's how I solved this: "Hi," I said.

"Hi," she replied. Then we parted ways.

Fifty minutes later and I knew the washer was ready. I ran downstairs to change loads, But no, the dryer was running.

Ah, okay. The first floor lady had been looking to dry her clothes. I was going to have to wait. Okay, I could handle this.

Ten minutes later and I'm upstairs. And I realize I didn't bother to check to see how long that damn dryer was running for.

Shit, I was sick of running up and down the stairs. "Corbie?" I asked, sweetly. Corb was sitting on the sofa, watching Modern Family, his current obsession. "Can you do me a favor?"

Corb frowned. Oh, the "F" word. I hate it, too. "What?"

"I've been downstairs for the laundry twice today. Can you go check and see if the first floor lady's laundry is done?"

Now seriously, Corb looked a little bothered. You'd think I asked him to rob a bank or something. "But how about if she's done there?"

"She was, earlier."

His lower lip jutted out. "But if she sees me nagging her to get her laundry out of the dryer, she'll hate me."

"If that's the case, she already hates me for stealing her space with the washer."

Ah. Corb triumphant. He had found his way out. "Then she can't hate me. We are a couple. You're only supposed to hate one half of a couple. If she hates you, she has to like me. So I can't go down."


Reluctantly, he went downstairs. It wasn't easy. I had to lift him off that sofa, push him to the door. Shove him down the stairs. But goddamit, why should i have to deal with the laundry politics, each and every time? There's another advantage to getting a house (if we get a house...this week will determine that!): no getting lathered up about the laundry. For that alone (and the thought of getting my own den,) it's going to be well worth it.