annoying places i find my hair.


a dramatic depiction of my hair flying around our house. i don’t know that man.

the plight of the jew isn’t just hypoglycemia (HAVE IT) and hiatal hernias (ALSO HAVE THAT), it’s huge, thick hair, which, yes, i also have.

why do we have such thick hair? i suppose to keep our heads warm in the winter and to keep us complaining in the summer when humidity forces it to swell so dramatically that we can’t fit through doors and we have to ask complete strangers to please give us a push because we’re late to our appointment with our GI doctor.

there are pluses and minuses to our thick hair. i suppose one of the more significant minuses, at least for me, is that fact that i’m constantly shedding hair wherever i go. really. our house is like a old western. puffs of my hair—i honestly don’t even know where they come from, they’ll appear 5 minutes after we vacuum—fly by like tumbleweeds. 

my hair is everywhere. here are some of the more annoying places it shows up:

the dishwasher.
so annoying i don’t even want to talk about it.

attached to my lipstick/lip gloss.
especially when we’re driving with the windows open. in fact, you know what? i’m  not even going to put anything on my lips if we’re going to have the car windows open. screw it. not even chapstick. i’ll go without. i’ll put it on when we park.

on holly.
she’ll unknowingly have one of my hairs somewhere on her body and yet she can’t find it so she think she has some kind of neurological condition until she figures out it’s actually my hair. sorry, babe.

the dryer.
OMG IT’S A SPIDER A POISONOUS SPIDER. i faint, only to wake up to discover it’s just a bunch of my hair that’s somehow been tied together by the force of the dryer. great. now i have a bruise on my head and i’m going to have to go to my primary care provider.

my purse.

containers of spare change.

my mouth when i’m chewing my food.
where in the HELL is the MANAGER, there’s an insanely LONG HAIR in my. wait.  this hair is connected to my head. it’s my own hair.

holly’s food.
sorry, honey .

my mother-in-law’s house.
sorry, susan.

anywhere i stay overnight.
sorry everyone.

anywhere i go for 5 minutes or more.
sorry humanity.

if you have long hair—or are cohabiting with someone that has long hair—please feel free to add to this list.)

it’s time for summer to end in baltimore.

i am DONE with the sights, sounds, and particularly the smells of this city in the summer. i dared to take out our recycling this morning only to be assaulted with the pungent odor of something dead…somewhere. (a large rodent, probably.) and you know the heat just makes it worse.

i’m telling you, taking out the trash or recycling in our neighborhood, or maybe it’s just our block, is an act of sheer bravery. first of all, you never know what you’ll encounter in your backyard. a hissing rat. a dead rat. a feral cat ready to mark you as his or her territory. a large weed with berries on it that literally grew overnight. a child’s toy that’s suddenly appeared out of nowhere—a fluorescent My Little Pony, for example (yes: true story)—to freak your shit out before you’ve even had your morning coffee. even though you know a rat dragged it in, it’s still freaky as hell to see toys in your backyard when no children actually play out there. that’s poltergeist shit (and you know how i am with that.)

then you have to touch the garbage or recycling cans. oh that’s a treat! because 4 times out of 10, there’s 1 to 4 rats hiding in them waiting to give you a heart attack. so what you have to do is kick the can or cans before you touch them. and if there’s a rat or rats inside, they run out, then you scream and run back in the house while your partner who’s watching you from the comfort of the indoors tries not to pee her pants while laughing. then you have to resist the urge to punch her in the throat and start all over again.

once you actually get the damn cans and drag them to your gate, you have to open the gate, which, in some ways, is actually worse than kicking the trash cans. because you never know what’s waiting for you on the other side.

the worst is a dead, flattened rat. i probably don’t need to elaborate on the details of that. but mattresses are really bad, too, because it makes you concerned for so many reasons. for example, why are your neighbors throwing out 5 mattresses? how many people are LIVING there? and why are they throwing them out all at once? do they have bedbugs? these are the things you can’t allow yourself to think about when you live here. you will go crazy if you think too hard about your neighborhood and the people in it. it’s best to just let it be. unless there are people on the mattresses. then you run.

the most alarming thing that ever happened to me in our alley was years ago when a…prostitute? approached me and…propositioned me i guess? she was an awfully strange-looking prostitute if she was one. i don’t know. she didn’t make too much sense but at one point she asked if i was married and i said YES! and then i ran inside and told holly. if i ever encounter a zombie in our alley, we are moving immediately.

anyway, everything is roasting in this city right now and it’s disgusting. and everyone is acting like a loon. a man that may or may not know our neighbor carol—i guess she knew him but wouldn’t let him in her house?—spent two days digging the grass out of the sidewalk next to her house (and trust me, there wasn’t that much grass to begin with), then they found him sleeping in her boyfriend’s van? i have no idea. also: a really weird-looking bouquet of roses in an actual vase showed up on the sidewalk in front of the house next door to us and stayed there for days. if a My Little Pony suddenly shows up in front of our house, WE ARE OUT OF HERE. same goes for the guy digging up the grass. anyway, hand me a mug of hot cocoa, i’m ready for fall. the moment i see more than 15 leaves, i’m raking them in a pile and immediately jumping in it. unless the pile is moving. in which case there’s probably a rat at the bottom of it. then i will scream “RAT!” run inside and just look at the leaves from indoors. that works, too.

where do all my hairbands go?

one thing holly always gets on my case about is hairbands. not that i use them, but that i’m constantly restocking them. it’s very irritating because what she doesn’t understand is that i can’t find any of them, ever.

i could seriously have like one million hairbands—yes one million—and i wouldn’t be able to find a single one. not a single one. that would happen to me. it would.

like small no-show socks that get eaten in the dryer (actually, i bet it’s the washer), it’s a complete mystery to me where in the hell my hairbands go. true, if i clean out my purse at any given moment, i may find, say…5 to 10, depending on the size of my purse. however i never ever find any of them when i need them, so i go without in the car when holly has the windows down on the highway and we arrive at our destination with me looking like bridget jones does in the first movie when she and hugh grant check in at that hotel. you know the scene.

bridget jones big hair

why, no, i actually couldn’t find a hairband in the car. and yes, the windows were open. why do you ask?

i actually find it pretty annoying that holly complains when we’re walking in target and i covertly grab a pack (SHE ALWAYS SEES ME. THIS IS THE PROBLEM WITH HAVING A SPOUSE THAT IS ROUGHLY ONE-TWELFTH NATIVE AMERICAN. SHE HAS SUPERSONIC SENSES AND SEES AND HEARS *EVERYTHING*) and she sighs and says BABE MORE HAIRBANDS? and i’m like YES BABE. MORE HAIRBANDS. i don’t care if people stare because i’m shrieking in target. she has short hair. she’ll never understand the plight of people that need an excessive amount of black hairbands because they can never find any. one day they’ll find the mysterious cause of missing hairbands and then she’ll apologize because it wasn’t actually my fault.

it’s annoying how she complains about things she’ll never understand. unless she grows her hair out, which she’ll never do, despite my pleading that she’d look soooo cute with a headband. (she has a beautiful forehead! an artfully selected headband would only highlight this fact.) but no. instead she takes me to home depot and lowes, which i hate. the moment we walk in i swear i feel like falling asleep. right where i am. in the plumbing aisle while she looks at metal pipes to build things with. on the concrete floor. right there. on my feet. or curled up in a ball on the floor.

we were in home depot last week, in that damn plumbing aisle, and i was like, doesn’t this place have any CHAIRS for people like ME who HATE IT HERE? they have chairs near dressing rooms for men and other people that loathe shopping but must endure a loved one trying on clothes. i mean, it doesn’t even need to be a cushioned chair. i’ll take a FOLDING CHAIR, for crying out loud. i know you sell them here! friggin put out a folding chair! damn!

at least in ikea i can escape into one of those make-pretend living rooms and sit on a futon. or hang out in the cafe and eat swedish delicacies or at least have a cone and a cup of decaf from the snack bar. but home depot and lowes, man, there’s just no escape. so i usually act out until holly sighs and says, “ok fine. let’s go.” once we get in the car, my entire body relaxes and i suddenly feel quite rejuvenated. but my rejuvenation is typically replaced by guilt because i know she wanted to stay. so instead i suggest we get some gelato so we both can feel better. and that’s what’s called emotional eating. the end.

in defense of baltimore

while i haven’t written in some time, in light of what’s happening in baltimore right now, i feel this pressing need to speak out. i’m not even sure what i want to say, but i want to say something in defense of this city.

i’m certainly not qualified to speak on larger issues at play here – socioeconomics and cultural divides, race, class, policing, and politics. but i live here so i’m qualified to comment on a few things.

holly (my partner of almost 14 years, in case you’re new to this blog) and i moved here, to southeast baltimore, in 2006. it was supposed to be very temporary. and like many “temporary” things,  it’s turned out to be…not all that temporary. and here we are, almost 10 years later. you hear that a lot around here.

i moved here kicking and screaming. oh my gosh did i kick and scream. moving here (from washington, dc) was a crash course in…everything. i’ll be honest with you: it’s not easy to live here sometimes. dc this is not. but it’s not meant to be dc because it’s not dc. it’s baltimore. and now, suddenly, i find myself wanting to stick up for this city. because, while i may not love it here, it is my home.

i’m not going to sugarcoat it for you: yes, it is dangerous here. yes, it is dirty. and, yes, the rat population is out of control and they will eat you alive if you’re holding a bagel in your hand outside after midnight. but you know what? it is damn homey. and our neighbors actually care about us. they check on us. when we got married, they supported us, even when some of those closest to us did not, they did. all walks of life, all different colors and backgrounds and accents and languages and everyone said congratulations. we saw your story in the baltimore sun and we just want to say congratulations. even the neighborhood drunks teeter-tottering  around. we never expected that. and we’d only lived here a couple years back then.

now, nearly 10 years in, we have a little community. when you live this close to one another, you’d assume you have a community, but that’s not always the case. in this age of having a thousand “friends” on facebook (but, when push comes to shove, you never talk to anyone on the phone anymore and sometimes you’re lonely as hell), and everyone’s “crazy busy,” it’s nice to know that a couple of blocks of tiny row homes all huddled up to one another, the people inside of them, they give a damn. community is still a thing here. community lives in baltimore. and that’s more than i can say for any other place i’ve ever lived.

somehow, in the midst of our sometimes-chaotic neighborhood, holly and i have built a life here. weird dirty ice cream trucks make the rounds til 10pm blaring christmas music in the middle of summer. mice give you the finger while they’re squirming on sticky traps. cats shit on your roof. but people watch your car for you. they ask how you’re doing. neighbors you know can barely put a meal on their table slip a holiday card in your mail slot. everyone mourns the friendly neighborhood drunk, the one that always waved at you from his second-floor window, the same one he hung out naked from, when he quietly dies from cancer. and when the mail lady that everyone loves dies from a heart attack on the job, you talk on your stoops about her, wiping your eyes, pausing with a lump in your throat because you can’t even fathom her not knocking on your door anymore and you shake your heads in unison because life in a mystery and this city has bright spots of light in it all the time.

kids ask you to play catch with them. you watch them grow up right before your eyes. you help the lady a few doors down with her resume and she lands an awesome new job. your other neighbor, a heating and air guy, fixes your air conditioning in the middle of the blistering hot summer just because he wants to. even when his knees are killing him from working all day, he climbs up on your hot asphalt roof and works on it til the sun’s down. all he’d like in return is to crack open a beer with you, so you drink one with him now, then buy him and his wife a case later. your greek neighbors across the street bring you an easter bread with a colored egg in the middle. a guy you’ve barely ever spoken to clears off the ice from your car and around your tires just because. a mystery person shovels the whole block. people knock on your door before noon to remind you to move your car for street cleaning so you don’t get a ticket. that all really happens here. in baltimore. “smalltimore,” as the locals call it. because you wind up knowing everyone. and everyone knows you.

i just noticed i’m a paper bag hoarder.

in my quest to be environmentally friendly and lower my carbon footprint, i save all the paper bags from all the environmentally friendly supermarkets we shop at, namely whole foods and mom’s organic market.

i get so excited about these bags thinking YES. YES I WILL MAKE PAPER BAG FALL FOLIAGE AND MACRAMÉ OUT OF THESE. then i immediately think: no, no i won’t. i’ll buy fake fall foliage from michael’s that’s probably made in china, and macramé, which i just looked up, is actually knitting with knots, which sounds kind of cool, but has nothing to do with paper bags.

no, what i actually think will happen is that i’ll reuse these bags, responsibly and carefully bringing them back to these supermarkets, casually telling the moderately friendly cashier, oh! i actually brought my own bags today so i won’t be needing new ones. i will pretend not to care that she forgets to give me 5 to 10 cents off (depending on the supermarket) for each bag that i brought, because in the end, i’m doing my part to save the environment, right? who needs 1o cents off my bill for each bag i bring? (I DO DAMMIT. LADY GIVE ME MY DISCOUNT.) ahem.

anyway, here’s what actually happens: i forget to bring back the damn bags. and instead bring back MORE paper bags each time i shop. and they pile up in our laundry area until the extra-large non-supermarket paper bag that’s holding them all is actually about to burst. and then, when i can’t possibly fit another one in, i think: oh. i’m actually a paper bag hoarder. and i won’t be satisfied until every last inch of our home is filled with paper bags, so many that i won’t even be able to find my own spouse.

HOLLY! i’ll shout, when this day inevitably arrives, panicked, swimming through the paper bags like it’s a giant, adult-sized, environmentally friendly ball pit. HONEY WHERE ARE YOU. GIVE ME A SIGN THAT YOU CAN HEAR ME.

and i’ll hear a small, soft voice–and crinkling–from somewhere in the house (i won’t know where because the sound is so muffled from all the paper) saying, out of breath from the effort of shouting through piles and piles of densely packed paper bags–honey! over here! i told you. to start. bringing. the bags. back. 

i’ll hang my head in shame. except for i can’t even hang it. there’s too many bags. so i’ll just place my chin on a pile and weep. i won’t even have to wipe my eyes because my tears will flow directly into the highly absorbent bags made from 80% post-consumer waste.

OK NO. what actually happens is that i use these bags as recycling receptacles and to bring snacks on long car rides. but unless we start running some sort of after school program, there will never be enough recycling to fill all these bags. and there’s just not enough long car rides. so what’s happened is that i’ve now accumulated (i counted them yesterday)…43 paper bags. FORTY-THREE. PAPER BAGS. who needs that many paper bags? no one! only supermarkets!

my favorite part is that i actually save all these small paper bags. you know, the cute ones? thinking: i’ll pack my lunch in this! yes! i’ll reuse it and pack my organic lunch in it! but no! DUH, i work from home! so i’ll carry something in it, i think. YES! something artisanal. and i will hand whatever it is (dark chocolate, probably, or some kind of sheep’s milk cheese or an annoying IPA beer) to a hipster guy with a beard, who will reuse this little bag until holes begin to form in it and then he and his bearded friends will compost it while wearing fitted plaid shirts to grow, i don’t know, lima beans or pumpkins or something and make aioli out of them.

NO. you know what happens with these little artisanal paper bags? THEY GO IN THE RECYCLING. in fact, i recycle them in the large bags that i fill with all the other recyclables each week. so now i actually have paper bags within paper bags within paper bags (if they’re double bagged, which about half of them are).


A photo of lots of paper bags.

an actual photo of my paper bag collection. there’s more but they couldn’t fit in the shot. do you want some? i’ll send them to you. maybe we should just get a fire pit and use them as kindling. we could turn off our heat and stay warm by the fire. we could also cook meat over the fire. reduce. reuse. recycle.

this is how you load a dishwasher

i know all you think i do is write things and smacktalk and pull out weaves and throw them in the tree pit outside our house (to be fair, i actually only regularly do 2 of those 3 things; really need to put smacktalk higher on the list!), but i actually do housework, too.

to tell you the truth, when i put my mind to it, i actually excel at housework. one of the things i excel at is loading, then successfully running, the dishwasher. so i figured: why not give a primer to my readers about how to load a dishwasher?

ok, so here we go:

1. use environmentally friendly dishwasher detergent or pods or whatever!
i mean, C’MON! don’t be ignorant! my favorite are these method dishwasher tabs. get them in pink grapefruit, then text me immediately after you use them and tell me what you think. they’re really good.

2. the tiniest bit of mashed potatoes will ruin everything.
don’t learn this the hard way. I KEEP LEARNING THIS THE HARD WAY. even, like, a little chunk of potato clandestinely stuck to the bottom of a plate will ruin all your hard work. this goes for any kind of potato. ANY KIND. they will break down in the damn dishwasher, then spread to many many different dishes, including the inside of your favorite coffee mug, then DRY ON THERE, refusing to budge, ever. you will have to soak them, while cursing silently under your breath that eating any kind of potato is just not worth all the hassle, you will stick to mashed cauliflower, because, really, at the end of the day, it’s way lower in carbs and much easier to clean.

eggs are the silent enemy of the dishwasher. do you check for ticks? like, after you get out of the woods or whatever? OKAY GOOD. now apply that thinking to eggs on plates. CHECK FOR EGG. like potatoes, EVEN THE TINIEST BIT OF EGG WILL MAKE ALL OF YOUR DISHES SMELL LIKE A WET DOG. IT WILL MAKE YOUR DISHWASHER SMELL LIKE WET DOG, TOO. AND YOUR ENTIRE KITCHEN IF YOU OPEN UP THE DISHWASHER WHILE IT’S STILL RUNNING BECAUSE YOU FORGOT TO PUT IN THAT DAMN SPATULA. (it’s always the spatula! ALWAYS.) this is especially necessary if you enjoy over-easy eggs, which we do, because, hello, it’s the best kind of egg. but the yolk? omg. get that damn yellow yolk film off your plates before you put them in or you will be hit with the smell of fido freshly in from a rainstorm every time you reach for a dish. and when you try to find a dish that doesn’t smell like wet dog, you won’t find one. then you’ll have to run the damn dishwasher over again and you will shake your fist at the sky and shout WHY.

4. get creative!
so once you get the lay of the land in your dishwasher, as in: if you put this big plate in over there then the spinny thin up top won’t spin, feel free to get creative. THERE ARE NO RULES IN DISHWASHER LOADING. okay, so there are actually some rules. like, some things say “top rack only” and that’s usually good advice to follow. but other than that, go for it! got a little space between all those glasses up top? good! throw a friggin spatula in there! (yes! the one you forgot to load!) put a mug on the bottom rack. shove things into every little crevice because a) it ultimately saves water, which helps our ecosystem, especially if you’re using environmentally friendly dish detergent (see #1), b) it’s fun and c) you will feel an unexpected sense of accomplishment.

5. i will beat you at loading the dishwasher.
i am not a competitive person in the least. (well, except for bocci ball, because i am italian-american by osmosis.) but hot damn, IF THERE IS ROOM IN THE DISHWASHER, I WILL FIND IT. i will find it and put something there and it will be clean in 90 minutes. are there dishwasher loading competitions? OMG ARE THERE? because i will WIN.

A dog in a dishwasher. This is not how to properly load a dishwasher.

OMG WHAT. (note: not our dog but sure is cute!) (also: this is not an acceptable way to get potatoes and egg off your dishes before you run the dishwasher. don’t be lazy! STOP WATCHING BRAVO AND RINSE THE DAMN DISHES. a little rinsing goes a long way.)

i want to go hunting but i don’t want to kill animals or shoot a gun.

ever since i wrote about “hunting gear” a couple years ago, i’ve been on this kick that i really want to hunt except for: a) i don’t want to actually kill an animal or b) shoot a gun.

shooting a big furry animal? one that’s cute? (and let’s face it: they’re all cute. even the ones that want to eat your face.)  i just couldn’t do it. i’ve also learned that when hunting, you need to drag the dead animal back to your car, then at some point, gut it. which, no. please, i can barely make a meatloaf!

i also don’t like shooting guns, because they’re a) loud b) dangerous and c) have kickback. and i try to avoid all loud, dangerous things, especially those that might wind up tossing my body like a beanbag. (hah, that was a funny visual.)

so i guess what i actually want to do is wear cool hunting clothes while hiding out in the woods looking at animals.

is there a name for this activity? because it’s definitely not hunting.

i think what might be a good solution is to take a moderately short hike in camo and hunting-appropriate boots, stop in the prettiest spot, and watch animals in their natural habitat while i picnic on a variety of forest-appropriate snacks, including but not limited to fresh fruit, sheep or goat’s milk cheese, and/or a selection of meats that don’t need to be heated. and pumpkin seeds. oh, and tea, from, like, a stainless steel thermos that keeps it really really hot for hours, because, really, who knows how long i’ll be out there? OH AND CHOCOLATE. DARK CHOCOLATE. mmmm.

other items to pack:
-a blanket
-matches (in case i need to make a fire, which, how do you make a fire? whatever, i’ll figure it out.)
-a tent (in case it rains)
-one of those wind-up lights that’s also a radio and a cell phone charger
-S.O.S. flares (in case of emergency)
-bear spray
-a knife (don’t ask; this just feels like something i should have)
-first aid kit

ok, i guess what actually want to do is to go camping, in which case i’m going to need one of those portable camping stoves. and some kind of stove top coffee pot. breakfast foods. canned beans. things like that. OH WAIT: BUG SPRAY. but without chemicals. natural bug spray.

this is turning into kind of an ordeal. maybe i should just go fishing. except i don’t want to bait the hook or touch any fish. so i guess what i actually want to do is sit in a boat or stand on a pier all day, catch and reel in a fish, and basically make someone else do all the gross stuff. (note: i have actually found someone to do this for me!)

so yeah. that’s actually all i wanted to tell you. how’s your summer been? mine’s been a little on the crappy side (hence not posting much). HOWEVER (however!) i’m thrilled to tell you that I HAVE COMPLETED MY E-BOOK, “THAT’S NOT A KITTEN, IT’S A RAT,” AND IT WILL SOON BE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE FOR THE LOW LOW PRICE OF $2.99.

the gist of this e-book is that it’s actually a mini e-book (hence the reasonable price), designed to be read in one hour or less. it contains lots of what i call dvd extras for regular readers (like how i unknowingly peed my pants in kindergarten while listening to phonics records in my elementary school library) but also tries to reel people in that haven’t made it to this blog yet with tales of eddie the rat and the bottomless abyss that is my bag.

BONUS: if you’re somewhat local i am willing to come to your book club (yes! your book club!) to answer questions, or, you know, just to eat your food and talk trash with you and your friends. i will also bring HOLLY, whom, as you all know, is the real hero of this blog in that she is endlessly patient with me as i talk/complain about her and spill our business on the internet. (LOVE YOU, HONEY!)

trust me, i will let you all know the moment it’s available for download. in the meantime, does anyone want to sit and watch animals in the woods with me? make sure you wear camo. i’ll bring the forest snacks and the bear spray.