February 19th, 2010Uncategorized
I’m pretty sure that my neighbors gather in their kitchen at night while I’m doing dishes, turn off their light and watch me. Our kitchen sinks and windows directly face each other. It’s a bit awkward because they haven’t come over with a welcome casserole or baked good of any variety, and we’ve been here for well over three weeks now—plenty of time to get settled in.
I’m still hoping etiquette will prevail and they’ll do the right thing. I try to ignore them when we happen to be in the kitchen at the sink at the same time, but I can’t help but notice when the entire family is crowded in the kitchen and suddenly the light goes out. There’s no way they could all get out of that room so quickly. What are they doing—feeling their way along the wall for the exit? No, they’re watching me.
Maybe I’m paranoid because I’ve thought about turning off my light and watching them, but I haven’t done it.*
So far we haven’t met any of our neighbors. The only encounters I’ve had with the people I live near have been casual. I’ve taken free pots from the front of the house of the peeping toms and exchanged glances with the overweight gangsters in puffy coats who shuffle by our front yard with contrived limps.
Once the kids fell asleep while we were driving home, so I stayed in the car, eating a veggie wrap, and stared at the old lady next door as she changed a light bulb on her porch. I couldn’t believe it—I must have stared at her for 15 minutes and she still didn’t feel compelled to introduce herself, offer me a welcome wreath or pastry, or invite me in to look through her purse or open her mail.
The thing that disappoints me about these rude neighbors is that they’re the ones I want to be friends with. Once you cross over to Grant Street, it’s no man’s land. I may sound like a small-town girl, but there’s an ’80s model car completely full of trash and five-gallon buckets of mysterious brown water on Grant Street. People park in the middle of the sidewalk and leave their old Christmas trees to brown in the sun. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you don’t want a casserole from someone who lives in a camper shell that rests on cinderblocks. The secret ingredient is usually fiberglass.
We’re really happy with our new home and we’re glad we could stay downtown, but I have a feeling that if we were on the other side of Chambers, where the houses cost $50,000 more, we would have gotten food.
* Update: At this point, I have watched the neighbors. They don’t have any drapes and they watch a lot of television. I like to watch them watching television. Some might say this behavior makes me a creep. I say it makes me an artist.
February 4th, 2010Uncategorized
Ethan and I have just gotten back from dinner at Hazel’s. Hazel is Arnica’s mother, the wonderful lady who took me in when I had nowhere to live and made me get my act together. Eventually.
Hazel lives on a peacock farm with some of the most boring people I have ever encountered. How many times can one person remind everyone that she didn’t like beans as a child, but now finds that, as she ages, she’s really, really starting to like beans? Yeah, guess what, Jen? I know you didn’t like beans as a child. You tell me that every goddamned week. And guess what else? I didn’t care the first time you told me. What’s that? You think seaweed smells fishy, do you? That’s fascinating. Oh yes, I agree, water is good for you. Just shut the hell up about your goddamned food observations, will you?
The problem isn’t just the inane food dialogue, it’s also the pace at which Jen speaks. She’s a “groovin’ hippie,” and everything comes out very slowly and deliberately. A simple “Hey, how did you like the rice? I put peppers in it” takes a good 45 seconds to ooze out.
Jen’s boyfriend—I’m just going to be honest—has the worst hair I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s so bad I get shivers whenever I stand near him. It’s long, down to his hindquarters, and dreaded. He then pulls half of it up (the Christian half-ponytail I hate so much) and lets the rest cascade down his back like some horrible, filthy waterfall. He doesn’t talk at all, which I find less boring than having to feign interest in Jen’s stories. “Please, Jen, tell me that madcap story again about how you didn’t like beans as a child—you are too much!”
We know the evening is winding down when the conversation turns to salt. By this time my jaw is sore from making “what the fuck?” faces at Arnica and Ethan during Jen’s lackluster, coming-of-age food tales. At least we eat in the dark, where my observations can’t hurt anyone.
February 3rd, 2010Uncategorized
1. “I generally don’t like things that come in log form.”
2. “There’s no law against Charlie.”
3. “They can kill me, but they can’t eat me.”
4. “I don’t want to hear any shit, just peel the goddamned potatoes.”
5. ” We’ll be safe once we get on the street. Out there we’re just like any other sedan.”