Hello Neighbor

Apartment living gives you many opportunities to meet and live around interesting people. For example, we have a next door neighbor named Jim. Jim is very talkative and outgoing. He likes to sit on a green plastic chair that he has placed between our bedroom window and his front door. He sits there and smokes and greets the other people living on this side of our apartment building as they come and go. He sits out there at all hours of the night. Sometimes, while I’m trying to get to sleep, I listen in on conversations he has with neighbors. The other night he told the new woman living upstairs, “As soon as this lease is up I’m moving into a place that I can afford. Not that I can’t afford this place. I want something smaller. Maybe a villa.” A villa? What’s that all about? Is he moving to Italy or something? I’m not a snoop. Really I’m not.

I often wonder why Jim didn’t choose to put his chair on his balcony. We all have a small balcony. It would be an ideal place to put a green plastic chair. He does use his balcony for standing and talking on his cell phone, or standing and smoking, or sometimes standing and drinking beer. One day when I came home, Jim was standing and drinking beer on his balcony. He greeted me and I greeted him in return. Before I knew it he was ranting about his job as the fish guy at a supermarket on the south side of town. “People on the south side just don’t eat seafood,” he told me. “The management doesn’t know what they’re doing. I’ve been working for this company for six years and I’m starting to loose my passion for seafood!” He told me that he was loosing his passion for seafood four more times before his rant ended.

Our new neighbor upstairs has turned my once comfortable apartment life upside down. She moved in about two weeks ago. She seemed nice and harmless enough–a young recently separated woman and he toddler. Since she moved in, however, we can hear her and her boyfriend having sex twice a day on average. They both have parking difficulties and like to park just over the white line so that they are incredibly close to the car next to them. They don’t speak to us. A friendly hello while passing in the parking lot is greeted with a cold turn of the head in the opposite direction. They have strange driving habits that involve running up way too close to you before passing you in an obnoxious manner. Other than that they seem like good people.

These are only two of the examples of people living in my apartment building. There are many other interesting people here. It makes me appreciate that we are all unique individuals. Some of us have loud sex, can’t park and have a passion for seafood.

Waste Not

My mother prides herself on being frugal. I’ve gone to book stores with her where she has picked up a book about how to save money and said, “This book doesn’t contain the half of it. If you want to know how to save money, I can tell you.” She is a fan of outlets and outlets of outlets. She scours dollar stores for much needed items and shops at dented can stores. She saves every last bit of leftover food, even if it is only a spoonful. She has storage containers small enough for one spoonful of food.

These are good things. Saving as much money as you can is good. Who wants to pay too much for an item? Who can resist a bargain? I like to find the sales. I like to buy marked down items. I don’t like to waste things. The problem is that sometimes my mother takes this to an extreme.

Last weekend we stopped by my parents’ house. They had company over and we were all sitting around the living room chatting when my mother offered us dessert. Only my husband and I accepted the offer. It was some sort of fruit cobbler. I have to admit that it was good. When we had finished eating my mother said proudly, “I had all this fruit in the fridge going bad and I decided that instead of throwing it out I’d make a dessert out of it.”

I was shocked and later pulled her aside and told her that the next time she makes food out of something that needs to be thrown out, she shouldn’t mention it to the guests. She seemed puzzled by my advice. Even when I asked her if I could write this blog about the incident she still seemed proud of the dessert, especially the fact that she almost threw that fruit away. The most important part to her is that she didn’t waste anything! Nevermind feeding the company trash.

Might As Well Face It You’re Addicted To……

I don’t really understand addiction. I probably have a few that I’m not aware of yet. There are many things in this world that people become addicted to. Some have a constant craving for alcohol, drugs, sex, power, or food. Others are addicted to computer games, television or even failure. There is something that drives us to obsess.

I once saw a woman who seemed to be addicted to tanning booths. She wandered into the laundromat the other day while my husband and I were folding our laundry. She was in her fifties, had bleached blonde hair, and skin as dark as mine with a red undertone. She was going for the leathery look. Some people like that look. She walked up to the woman folding her clothes at the front table and loudly started complaining that she had an appointment at the tanning salon next door but the doors were locked. She had already been waiting for thirty minutes. She uses their tanning booths on a regular basis and they’re always late.

“They always do this. I know people who’ve just stopped going!” she said, pulling at the elastic of her yellow shorts. The woman folding her laundry nodded at her. “Unbelievable! If they don’t show up soon, I’m never coming back. They’ll loose my business in a minute!” Her voice filled the laundromat. I could hear her clearly over the news on the television and the hum of washers and dryers.

When we left the laundromat she was still waiting. The sky was clear blue and she stood in the shade, smoking a cigarette, and occasionally glancing at her watch. She was waiting to lay in a tanning booth on a summer day in Florida.

“People can be addicted to anything,” my husband said as we drove away. I guess they can be addicted to anything, even tanning booths.

Tuck, Tuck, Tuck

Our sofa is covered with a slipcover. I received this slipcover as a wedding present from my grandmother. I am indeed grateful for it, because we couldn’t afford to buy new furniture, and state of my husband’s sofa was appalling. While we were dating, he was always sure to cover it completely with a sheet before I came over so that he wouldn’t have to hear my comments about it. I don’t know how old it is, or what color it might have been at one time. There’s no way of knowing these things. What I do know is that it is disgusting.

So my grandmother gave me a nice, soft, brown slipcover to cover it with. When we first got it we laid it over the sofa the way it was pictured in the instructions. Then we did what the instructions told us to do which was, “Tuck, tuck, tuck!” Believe me there was a lot of tucking to do.

The problem with the slipcover is that no where in the instructions, or on the package, did it warn us that we would be tuck, tuck, tucking for the rest of our lives. The slipcover looks very good after being properly tucked in but once someone sits on it, it’s all over. What am I supposed to say to guests? “Please sit anywhere but the sofa.” “Make yourself comfortable in this straight back dining room chair.” “You can sit on the floor here, use the bottom of the sofa to rest your back against.” Sofas are made for sitting, but slipcovers are not.

Someone told me that if I put a broom handle down in the sofa it would hold the slipcover in place. This is not true. The broom handle does nothing. It just gives me extra steps to fixing the slipcover. Now I take the broom handle out, tuck, tuck, tuck, and put the broom handle back in.

Today my husband told me that the sofa is so much nicer to nap on with the slipcover. He said that the slipcover makes it soft and comfortable. He told me this while I was tuck, tuck, tucking about an hour ago. Now he’s taking a nap on it. I won’t fix it again today. I’ve limited my tuck, tuck, tucking to once a day. The slipcover will just have to be disheveled until tomorrow. I have better ways to spend my time.

Fancy Smancy

Friday was my sister’s birthday. I went out to eat with her and my mother at a “fancy” restaurant downtown. The wait staff all wore black pants, black shirts, and long black aprons. I’ve been to several “fancy” restaurants where the wait staff wore the same thing. It must be the “fancy” restaurant uniform.

Our waiter was a thin, pale man. He made a point to look at each one of us for a few seconds as he told us about the specials. He used carefully planned hand gestures as he talked. When he left the table my mother said that he reminded her of a museum guide. I wondered if he slept huddled in the corner of the kitchen by day, surviving off of table scraps.

Most of the fish on the menu was encrusted with something, like Macadamia nuts or Parmesan cheese. I don’t know when this trend started, but I don’t like it. I don’t want to eat anything that’s been encrusted. I think that it is supposed to remind you of something being jewel encrusted, and thus make you feel fancy. The problem is that the only thing it reminds me of is an old pair of underwear that someone’s worn for three days straight.

The more expensive the food is at fancy restaurants, the less food you get. I would think that because I paid more, I’d get more. Apparently, part of what you’re paying for is the atmosphere. This placed greeted me with the atmosphere of dirt smudged glass on the door and cobwebs under the windows. The metal art on the walls was…interesting.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. My food was delicious. I wiped my plate clean. My sister ordered that same thing as me but she only ate half. She’s on a diet where she eats portions fit for a small bird. I often say I’ll start that diet, but forget when my food arrives.

We got truffled chocolates at the end of our meal. They were good. My sister didn’t eat hers. I think it was a good birthday for her. Don’t worry we didn’t spend too much money–my mother had a coupon, of course.

Time Crunch Crunch Crunch

When I was young, I hated going to bed. I didn’t want to sleep. I wanted to be where all of the action was. I wanted to see and hear everything. Even after my parents got me into bed, I would lay there, struggling to keep my eyes open. Sleep was a hassle. It ate up precious time.

Now I can’t wait to get to sleep. I was happy to take an hour nap today. Tonight, I’ll bed thrilled to crawl into bed. I know I’m not missing anything. Sleep still eats up precious time, but I need it desperately.

My husband often reminisces about how much he did as a kid. “When I was a kid I had all of the time in the world,” he likes to say. It’s true too. As a child, the days creep by. A year takes lifetimes to pass.

Since I’ve been married, the days seem to be sixteen hours long. The year is flying by. I find myself saying, “I can’t believe it’s already July!” I look at my list of goals for the year and think that there’s no way I’ll complete them all.

Okay, I have to be completely honest. This having no time stuff is a load of garbage. If I really had no time, I wouldn’t have been able to take an hour long nap. If I really had no time, I wouldn’t be able to drive across town to eat lunch with my sister, or spend almost two hours looking at floor plans for dome homes online. If I really had no time, I wouldn’t be able to put up posts on this blog. So I guess I have time. I just need to organize it better.