yes, i’ve been missing a while. and yes, the last time i wrote holly was scared she had contracted the rat fever, which, for the record, actually turned out to be the flu. but, as i’ve explained in the past, when i disappear, there’s always a good reason for it. and this time it was to take care of holly’s grandmother.
if there’s one thing holly and i believe, it’s that grandmothers come first. and while the rest of the world (well, america, at least) may be slow to catch onto this theory, we live and breathe it. so when holly’s gram broke her hip in january, we came to butler, PA (“pee-ay”) to be with her for her surgery and get her on the road to recovery.
either holly or both of us have been here in butler caring for her grandma, which–between traveling, working and caregiving–hasn’t left a whole lot of time for blogging. but just b/c i haven’t been blogging doesn’t mean my impish mind hasn’t been working overtime.
here are some of the things i’ve been thinking about/what’s been going on:
1. i don’t know how in the hell it happened, but somehow i avoided getting “the rat fever.” first holly went down. then her mom. her gram started getting it but we got her on tamiflu, which curbed it. i was the last one standing. well, me and frank (her stepdad), but he’s a tough police officer dude so he doesn’t really count b/c his immunities are probably stronger than mine.
i fled the scene via amtrak, pittsburgh to philly (where my parents live), a seven-hour train ride, which, for some reason, was dominated by amish ppl. i hit about 5-10% of them (just their shoulders) with my laptop bag when i was going down the train aisle w/all my luggage. i was like, “oops! sorry! ooops! sorry!” i swear it wasn’t bc they were amish (hello, i’m a gay jew). i think they were just broad-shouldered and my laptop is four years old so it’s kind of massive. i’d apologize to them but they’re probably not reading this. unless, of course, they’re on that 16-year-old, four-year break thing, in which case they’re probably too busy binge drinking and having sex to care about regularly reading my blog.
2. i was on my own at home two times, once for like 10 days, while holly was in butler. this was hard for me for a number of different reasons.
2a) Eddie the Rat (not to be confused with Dryer Vent Rat–no, Eddie the Rat came from the old man’s house next door and terrorized us over the late summer/early fall w/his terrible rat ways) must have found out thru the rat grapevine that i was by myself and decided to make his presence known, usually just after i had gotten into bed, by scratching at the foam insulation stuff that holly put in the space behind the stairs. one time he was so loud i was convinced he had actually made his way in and was downstairs, tap dancing on the furniture, drinking beer and doing whatever the hell it is that rats do.
i texted holly, as it was nearing midnight and didn’t want to wake up her parents and grandma by calling their home line. i wrote it with one shaking hand, as i was holding a shoe in the other. (shoes have been our preferred method of scaring Eddie the Rat, as we can easily throw them from our bedside, out our bedroom, down the hall and against the stairs with astounding accuracy)
honey i think the.rat isdownstairs.Call me now. (like i said: i wrote it with one hand.)
holly called me a few minutes later, half asleep, and told me to go downstairs and check. i whimpered and told her that no, i was scared, until she suddenly seemed to wake up and exclaim, honey, it’s not a bear, for crying out loud. just go downstairs and check. i decided she was right and lo and behold, he hadn’t gotten in. i went back upstairs, lined up no less than four pairs of shoes next to the bed, along with a snow shovel from downstairs (a snow shovel? i don’t get it either; nothing like a plastic snow shovel to make you feel safe from rats) and was up off and on thru the night. he came back the next night, too, but of course disappeared again once holly came home because rats are like that.
2b) i essentially starved while holly was away, as she’s the cook in the family. my daily food intake consisted of mainly cereal and cheese quesadillas (i put fresh spinach in them, so at least there’s that). i went to whole foods, but instead of focusing on what food i’d make, i bought high-sodium frozen items and made googly eyes at the salad bar. one time i left and got sushi, despite the fact that our preferred sushi place is supertrendy and i was in yoga pants, sneakers and a fedora. but whatever. i was hungry. i got the sushi and ran.
i used to tease holly that when i went away for a day or two or maybe a weekend, she lived like a bachelor. i’d come home and find empty cereal bowls with the spoon and some milk still in them (sometimes the milk had even solidified into a crude cheese-like substance–oh stop acting like you don’t know what i’m talking about b/c you and i both know you know) along with half-empty beer bottles. but i’ve discovered that, left to my own devices, i’m actually way worse.
i drank red wine at my computer (at like, noon). ate canned cheese ravioli (organic, but still). downloaded songs on itunes that i have no business downloading (rihanna: s&m, flo rida: who dat girl, an alejandro remix, an entire gin blossoms album) b/c i’m not 15 nor am i a huge gin blossoms fan (nor do i actually need an alejandro remix). i watched “skins” on demand until i lost faith in humankind. i watched every episode of “portlandia,” some twice. (have you seen that show? omG funny.) i read portia de rossi’s memoir in, like, a day and a half. i even read it while i was drying my hair. i wore the same outfit every day. (yet another plus of working from home) i tried making a meatloaf, but managed to simultaneously burn it and undercook it at the same time. the texture resembled…oatmeal. which…i mean, i don’t even, i don’t even understand. i ate one bite and then worried for three to five hours that i gave myself a foodborne illness b/c i couldn’t find the meat thermometer and decided to “eyeball” it instead.
2c) as luck would have it, we got a lot of rain the 10 days i was by myself and our basement started to flood. i decided i would step up to the challenge and actually pump it out with this pump/hose contraption we have.
“before you use the pump,” holly instructed me over the phone. “put some oil in the motor. use canola or olive oil.”
i was like you want me to put cooking oil in the pump? and she was like, yes, the motor needs oil or else it will start burning and it will break. so not only did i have to pump out the basement, i had to figure out how to put cooking oil in the darn motor. plus the water in the basement smelled like cat piss since every friggin feral cat in the neighborhood uses our backyard as a litterbox. so i put the friggin oil in the friggin motor and pumped the nasty water out of the basement, frizzing up my nicely straightened hair and making me realize just how lucky i am to have a partner who deals with all the nasty stuff around the house.
3. speaking of nasty, i walked into our house last week only to be hit with the dead body smell again. i swear, it’s like this disgusting boomerang. just when we think it’s gone, it comes back. it’s not like it’s as strong as it once was (in fact, you wouldn’t really know you were smelling it unless you knew what you were looking for). and we’re not exactly sure why it’s back. it seemed to kick back up after workers removed the rest of the old man’s furniture. who the hell knows. all we know is that it’s annoying and gross but holly and i have both agreed we’d rather dead body smell than a rat. these are the things you learn in baltimore.
switching gears a little bit…
4. in exciting non-rat/bad smell-related news, i made my publishing debut yesterday as a contributor to It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living. inspired by dan savage’s It Gets Better Project, the book features over 100 essays from celebrities, writers and everyday people with the same powerful, resounding message: if you’re an LGBT teen, don’t give up–life gets better. i know i’m somewhat biased, but i have to say that it’s an absolutely wonderful book. it’s climbing up the amazon bestseller list and you can get it for half-off right now. (you can check it out here.) my contribution is an edited version of my it gets better blog entry from december. if you liked that entry, you’ll love the book.
if you already bought the book, i’d love to know what you think. if you’ve ever battled an urban rat with a plastic snow shovel, i’d like to hear about that, too. and if you’ve ever watched “skins,” move it along, folks, b/c i never actually said that i watched it. you’re totally making it up.