Category Archives: baltimore

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.

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.

there’s a hole in the ozone above where i do my hair

so now that it’s may in baltimore, two things are certain:

1) i will be sweating until early to mid october. possibly til halloween, depending on weather patterns.

2) my hair is now huge, only to get huger, unless i press no less than 400-425 degrees of searing heat directly against it, taking down baltimore’s power grid in the process and creating a hole in the ozone directly above our house.

this is compounded by the fact that i’ve started to go to the gym again, to “lose weight for the summer,” (LOL) seeing how it’s may 15th and i like to plan in advance and all. 10 minutes on the damn stairmaster this morning and my DIY blowout is shot to hell. totally going to have to do it again now. totally going to get carpal tunnel, which, whatever. you know i’m going to get it anyway because i’m a writer. might as well have nice hair while i’m sitting here in my home office where no one can see me (except holly, who somehow loves me no matter what my hair looks like, even on exceptionally large hair days that make her eyes wide with alarm as she whispers babe, your hair is really big today. bless her).

in other news: holly’s semester’s almost over and OMG THANK GOODNESS I’M SO HUNGRY I’VE BEEN HUNGRY SINCE THE FALL OMG BABY PLEASE START COOKING FOR ME AGAIIIIIN. no but seriously: this year’s been an emotional roller coaster! now i see why getting your mba is such a friggin big deal. it’s hard. it’s hard on spouses, too!

it’s like holly’s school stress travels into me through osmosis or something. i’m not taking econ BUT I FEEL LIKE I’M TAKING ECON. please! i don’t want to know about econ! like all good journalists/ex-journalists/copywriters, i pride myself in becoming an expert in confusing fields completely foreign/uninteresting to me, writing an article or website about said field(s), then promptly forgetting everything like it never even happened. don’t tell me about your econ class, holly, unless i’m writing web content/email marketing copy/a script/etc. on the life of an mba grad student with a partner who’s needed a home-cooked meal since august. (trust me, you don’t want me to write that.)

no. i’ve been cooking. i cook sometimes! i’m actually a pretty decent cook. i’ve made butternut squash puree, like from an actual butternut squash. (holly had to cut it down the middle for me because i’m scared of knives and, you know, blood.) i excel at grilling chicken. oh one time i made like…a chicken piccata-type thing! you know, with capers? i also excel at roasting any and all vegetables. i’ve made some vegetarian soups featuring trendy greens like kale and chick peas (the humble chick pea: always on trend, never out of style). i made a beef stew with red wine in it. (fancy!) i made my old friend diane‘s excellent sweet & sour gummy gelatin snacks because we’re hippies now and don’t eat anything artificial and everything in our cupboards is some kind of dried thing or seed sealed in an airtight container.

i started each semester out strong saying to holly i got you, babe! i’ll do the cooking! but then quickly petered out after three days, telling her on her way out the door to please go to starbucks during your break, honey, and get a latte and some kind of egg sandwich for dinner while i ate low glycemic foods such as green apples and various tree nuts at my desk. then i’d work on my e-book for five minutes, go downstairs and binge watch gay man shows like will & grace and the golden girls, spitting out pumpkin seeds as i laughed, thinking oh i should go do the dishes now but i probably won’t! oh that karen walker! oh blanche! oh sophia! i think i need an organic cheese stick! …but there was no one to get it for me because holly was in class. and then i’d feel sad i didn’t try harder to cook for my spouse. but then millionaire matchmaker was on and…what was i talking about again?

still. i would give up the chance to binge watch my favorite reruns for some home cookin that i don’t have to actually cook.

in conclusion, i started out talking about my hair and i have no idea how i got onto this topic. anyway, here’s a picture of the hole in the ozone above our house, three hours before i shut down the power grid.

Image

psych! it’s totally not. but wait: is that even real?? see, this is what happens when you google images. i have no idea if this is even legit. but it’s scary.

ok let’s stop talking about it now.

in conclusion (i love it when i try to “conclude” my blog posts). IN CONCLUSION: i have no conclusion. i was going to say something about hair to wrap up this post, but instead i’m going to tell you that while i was writing this (i wrote the majority of this post yesterday, about half of it alone in the house), the tv kept going on and off downstairs. it was really freaking me the hell out. i should have gone downstairs to investigate it, but there was a small part of me that thought it might be a poltergeist. (and we all know how well i handle spooky poltergeist movies.) i was trying to convince myself that some weird thing was going on with some kind of recording holly had set up but yeah, mostly i was thinking poltergeist.

i finally decided enough was enough, that i’d confront this invisible beast once and for all. i kind of expected to be sucked into the tv like that little girl in the movie (MOMMY HELP I’M STUCK IN THE TEEVEE! MOMMY MOMMY HELP! *shudder*). instead i found a box sitting on top of the on/off switch of the remote. i was flooded with the sweet nectar of relief one only feels after a close encounter with another dimension. (very few people have ever felt this.) i’m really glad this story had a happy ending or else holly would be really busy right now trying to get me out of our damn tv.

poltergeist hand comes out of the tv to get the little girl in the hit 80s horror movie, poltergeist.

COULD HAVE BEEN ME. WASN’T. ANOTHER CLOSE CALL.

i went into a panic last night about the polar vortex and now we have too much food in the house.

so yeah, as you probably already guessed, i bought into the media hype about the “polar vortex” and kind of went into a panic last night.

the panic was similar to the widespread terror many of us here in maryland feel when we hear or read that it will snow except no snow was involved, just cold. this panic, of course, gave me an urgent, frenzied feeling that we were out of everything in the house and we needed to go to the supermarket immediately. i usually have this feeling anyway, because i’m jewish and we never feel like we have enough food in the house. it’s like, a genetic thing, so that when we have visitors we will feed them until they say NO MORE PLEASE STOP. this gives us great joy. anyway, i pushed holly out into the cold and off we went to the store.

when we made it there–THANK GOODNESS WE MADE IT, IT WAS SO COLD–before we got out of the car, she turned to me and said, calmly, that we were going to be ok. that there was no need to panic, we would be fine, we were only here to pick up a few things, we didn’t need to go into emergency mode, this wasn’t a hurricane, etc. i only heard her say “panic,” “emergency,” and “hurricane” so i panicked even more.

we get inside and the store’s…empty. it’s almost empty. OH MY GOSH WHY IS IT EMPTY? WHERE IS EVERYONE? clearly everyone else knows it’s extremely dangerous to be out in such cold. we’ve made a grave mistake but it’s too late to go back now. i must think fast. we must act fast. the temperature’s dropping.

lunch meats! we need lunch meats. MILK! TEA! PEARS! OH MY GOSH WE NEED PEARS.

CANNED FOOD! tuna! YES TUNA! and EGGS! OH LORD THE EGGS. we get to the eggs and THE EGGS ARE ALMOST GONE! the masses have already been here, i think. clearly there’s reason to panic, the eggs are gone! the only eggs left are three containers of those weird omega 3 eggs so we settle on a carton of egg whites. this is a valuable source of protein, i think. one that, i figure, we can cook up using a candle somehow, which i will light immediately when the electricity goes off because surely it will because we live in baltimore and nothing works here. AND OH MY GOSH WE’D BETTER CHARGE UP OUR CELLPHONES HONEY HOW MUCH POWER DOES YOUR CELL PHONE HAVE (i grab it from holly’s hands) OH MY GOSH ONLY 58% THAT WILL ONLY LAST US MAYBE HALF THE DAY. then i see mine is only at 20% and nearly faint.

we get to the cashier and we don’t even have to wait in line. it’s that empty. OH. MY GOSH. IT’S THE VORTEX. we need to move fast. YOU BAG, i tell holly, AND I’LL PUT THE FOOD ON THE CONVEYOR BELT.

the bill is $104 and i honestly have no idea what we bought besides milk and tuna and pears. i obviously blacked out while we were shopping. this is bad.

we go out to the car and the wind is howling.

HONEY! i shout over the swirling winds. HONEY! YOU PUT THE BAGS. IN THE CAR. I’LL. TAKE BACK. THE CART!

i want to shout SAVE YOURSELF! but i decide there’s no need to be dramatic.

we get in the car and start driving home and we see water gushing out into the street. WATERMAIN BREAK, i think. i immediately decide to hoard water when we get home, lest our pipes burst. first i’ll fill the brita filter. then all the pots. every one of them. the largest ones first. i’ll fill the crockpot, too. nothing’s off limits. if it can hold water, i will fill it. i made a stir fry earlier in the day and noticed a green pepper can hold water once you empty out the seeds. i suddenly wish i had bought another pepper. i’d fill that, too.

when we got home, i almost expected our block to be engulfed in flames but honestly, everything was fine (save for some drafty bedroom windows, which holly managed to fix).

it’s late and i want to keep things short so i’ll wrap things up:

the wind blew all night but we both managed to sleep. in the morning, we woke up and i found a cheese danish in the pantry. i’d like to say i was in my blacked-out state when i purchased that, but no, i totally remember buying it. i found beans and two cans of tuna, milk, the carton of egg whites, pears, frozen chopped spinach, and a number of other necessities.

what didn’t i find? what were we out of? toilet paper.

every once in a while our periods collide & our house pretty much goes up in flames.

These are the mugs we got in Disney World: one Mickey Mouse and one Donald Duck.

i should start this post by saying that this entry talks about periods and hormones and if you have a problem with that, you should probably leave right now because sh*t’s about to get real around here.

people always say that if you’re a female of child-bearing age hanging around/living with other women of child-bearing age you will eventually all get on the same cycle (that’s “period cycle” for those not in the know, which, really?). anyway, the reason for this has to do with…pheromones or something weird like that. i don’t know, look it up.

anyway, holly and i have been together almost 13 years and our periods have only converged a few times. PROBABLY BECAUSE WE’RE BOTH THE ALPHA. i should stop right here and say that sometimes i think my strong feminine pheromones pull her into my cycle. kind of like the rings of saturn. they’re that strong.

(holly, if you’re reading this, be quiet. i can see your lips moving but i can’t hear any sound.)

ANYWAY, this was one of those months. that our periods collided. we didn’t know it was happening at the time. and let me tell you, we were about to kill each other.

case in point: the damn tea. the damn mugs.

seeing how i work from home and all, i make a lot of tea. i make a lot of coffee but i make more tea. seeing how we both work from home i make holly a lot of tea, too. (she claims i mostly ask her if she wants tea but then forget to make it. i say this is bullsh*t. this only happens some of the time.)

so we’re recently back from a trip to disney world with holly’s family and we picked up two mugs while we were there. i gotta say: they’re pretty nice mugs. great shape, great weight, great design. one’s mickey mouse, one’s donald duck. i didn’t realize it at the time, but apparently the donald duck one is holly’s and the mickey mouse one is mine? oh excuse me, i thought we were sharing them equally. 

yeah so i’m making holly tea the other day. i know the mugs she likes and i know the ones she doesn’t. i choose one of her less favorite ones because the “best ones” aren’t clean. i’m getting the damn tea bag ready to put in the mug and she looks over and is like WHY AREN’T YOU USING ONE OF OUR DISNEY MUGS.

i was like, uh, EXCUSE ME THEY’RE NOT CLEAN RIGHT NOW AND TRUST ME I DID YOU A FAVOR BECAUSE THIS ONE’S THE BEST OF THE WORST AND YOU SHOULD ACTUALLY BE THANKING ME INSTEAD OF ACTING LIKE A JERK ABOUT IT.

suddenly her eyes, usually kind pools of brown, were filled with flames and daggers. my skin got all, what’s the word? like when a cat arches its damn back and hisses. similar to that. but skin.

i felt mad because dammit i was being nice by making her tea and choosing the least hateful mug i could find.

did she really want me to give her one of those generic starbucks mugs that she hates? (i don’t know why we even have them anymore. we got them years ago in a gift set and we’re always avoiding them. they need to go.) or one of the huge mugs that hold hold so much water they’d water down her decaf tea?

I WAS DOING HER A FAVOR AND SHE WAS, LIKE, RUDE. ABOUT IT. REALLY RUDE. AND IT MADE ME MAD.

me being mad made her mad and then we exchanged words. i was like, oh now i’m supposed to ask you what mug you want every time i make you tea? for the rest of our lives? like, get mug approval if there’s no disney mugs available? and she was like can you just stop talking? CAN YOU JUST. STOP TALKING.

then she shot fire daggers from her eyes. and i wanted to karate chop her in the throat. i felt like saying that but i didn’t. because telling your spouse who’s suffering from severe pms (lalala, see your lips moving, holly, not hearing any sound) that you want to karate chop her in the throat is usually a bad idea.

this was just one fight of many small to medium fights we had in a span of a week.

(I JUST THOUGHT OF THE WORD: BRISTLING! she made my skin bristle.)

we’d pass each other in the kitchen or look at each other in our office and i’d think why can’t we stand each other? what is happening right now? why does her breathing make me mad? why do i feel she can’t stand to be around me right now? why do her brown eyes look like pits of hot tar about to burn my insides? 

she’d put her cold feet on mine in bed and i’d be like WHAT. STOP. i’d kind of want to kick her in the shin. (i may have done this, i’m not actually sure.) everything i said she was like NO. and i felt: oh G-d. this is it. almost 13 years together. five weddings. good times. bad. and…this is how it’s ending. i….can’t even. i just…can’t.

and then she got her period. four days early. and then i got mine. the same damn day. five days early.

i’m blaming the damn acupuncture. even though i love it, i’m blaming it. i’m blaming the friggin moon and the damn  tides. i’m blaming patchouli and everyone that wears it. i’m blaming the indigo girls and anything else that’s gay.

vote for my blog in the mobbies early and often

now that i’ve (hopefully!) made you laugh go ahead and vote for lunch at 11:30 in this year’s annual baltimore sun mobbies competition. it’s up for best personal blog. registering to vote takes just moments (moments! literally!) and you can feel good knowing you’ve made a difference in the world. (my world. but still.) then tell your friends to vote. also your mom. and your gram.

p.s. those are the mugs in the picture up top. i told you they were nice!

it’s almost fall: here’s all the sh*t that needs to end.

fall leaves

oh beautiful crunchy fall leaves! what a friggin concept. can we do the damn thing already? damn!

it’s mid september–hence almost fall, my FAVORITE SEASON–and i’m pissed.

i wait ALL YEAR for this time of year. ALL. YEAR. i start listening to the smiths and early REM in, like, mid july, trying to will the season in. i even occasionally bust out the high tops and boots (much to holly’s chagrin) and you know what? i may look a little ridiculous but i do it for fellow fall lovers. i do it for you. and i do it for me.

usually it works BUT NOT THIS YEAR. this year everything is all wrong. it doesn’t friggin feel like fall is coming AT ALL.

here’s all the sh*t that needs to end right now so we can do the damn thing:

the heat.
it’s so damn hot out. what the hell. BRING ME CRISP AIR NOW. i want. to wear. a damn. sweater. what don’t you understand about that? damn!

the humidity.
don’t even get me started on the humidity. how are we supposed to have any DAMN CRUNCHY LEAVES with this humidity? the answer is we can’t. it’s just not right.

the DOGGONE DAMN ICE CREAM TRUCK.
c’mon! put it to rest, man! take that rusty old salmonella-carrying clunker you call an ice cream truck and hide it. then don’t bring it out til spring. stupid ass.

people being annoying. 
ok this is actually all the time. i just felt like bringing it up now. if you’re annoying. like, if you don’t know how to put your damn blinker on when you drive. or you’re not capable of not taking up an entire grocery store aisle with not only your body but your damn cart, then just stay the hell home or else i will be forced to pull out your weave–and if you’re not wearing one i will tape one to your damn head and pull it off–and smack you in the face with it.

the dog poop.
i seriously think there are packs of wild dogs running around baltimore because i swear every time we take a walk one of us is always pushing the other saying WATCH OUT! coming thiiiiis close to stepping on dog poop in the middle of the damn sidewalk and nearly giving each other a heart attack each time. i am just bringing this up now but it needs to stop throughout the year. summer just makes it feel worse. everything feels worse in the damn summer because it is so damn hot.

the yellers.
the drinking as soon as the damn sun comes up? it needs to stop. all day from my (home) office i hear weirdass drunk motherf*ckers shouting and it’s like, people: you may be able to drink like that in the summer but the season’s coming to a close. let’s give it a rest so i can get some work done dammit. pack it in and shut the hell up.

the weirdos.
i swear the heat brings out every last doggone weirdo in the city. GO INSIDE. be weird in your own damn house and stop freaking us all out! jesus.

the heat. 
the humidity.
oh right i already said these but it’s so damn hot i forgot.

i’ll tell you what else is wrong:
the jewish high holidays came earlier than they have in, like, multiple generations (i don’t know how to count a generation and i’m too lazy to google it right now). the last time they fell this early in september it was 1889 or something. obviously i’m failing already because i made a (jewish) new year’s resolution not to curse so much and in this post alone i said “damn” 13 times, “sh*t” twice, “hell” three times, “ass” twice, “dammit” once, and “motherf*ckers” once.

here’s my list if you don’t believe me:
(i starred out the vowels in case, you know, there’s kids reading.)
(and yes, i’m aware my handwriting is quite bad.)

correction: i actually said “damn” 16 times. i did a search for it. 16. oh that’s nice.

actually i just fooled all of you: do you really think i’d make a new year’s resolution not to curse?! that is crazy! i don’t drink. i don’t smoke. this is my only outlet. if i didn’t do it i’d be wreaking havoc on society and my marriage. plus i know i couldn’t keep it and that would be sacrilegious.

ACTUALLY. actually i just added the photo of the leaves at the top of this post and i wrote “damn” twice in the caption. so that’s 18. i thought about not mentioning it but that would be wrong.

so listen. obviously i’m mad. (i really did make a new year’s resolution not to be so damn mad.) (19, oops!) and obviously this will have zero effect on the universe or the earth’s axis or whatever the hell (ok i’m going to stop counting now) controls the seasons but let’s all join hands–no wait. i’m a germaphobe. i don’t want to touch your hand. let’s just get pumpkins. those are available now, right? yeah let’s get some pumpkins and carve them. toast the friggin seeds. throw some salt on ’em. yeah. they’re so good, right?

turn up your a-c (I KNOW IT’S NOT “GREEN” BUT BEAR WITH ME OK) and throw on a sweater. get your boots on. take out your halloween decorations. hell, break out pilgrim desk decorations if you’ve got em. COOK A THANKSGIVING DINNER.

that’s it! cook turkey. cook a damn turkey in your sweater. let’s all do it at the same damn time. i’d help you but i have to go to michael’s now to make a fall wreath. i used to hate fall wreaths but i’m “adult” now and i love them. holla!

f*ck yeah, baltimore.

baltimore's famous domino sugar plant.

i took this photo from a sailboat. even though it smells terrible, hot damn i love that doggone sugar plant.

lord knows i’ve had my issues with this city. LORD KNOWS. I HAVE HAD. MY ISSUES. WITH THIS CITY.

for example:

  • a rat was living in our dryer vent, hoarding chicken bones and crab shells. after holly cleaned it out, she thought she had “rat fever” from breathing…rat dust? then i had to convince her she didn’t have rat fever. that was really something.
  • fighting parking tickets here is nearly impossible. as if that isn’t enough, everyone in the courthouse has the type of body odor that literally makes you feel like you might drop dead.
  • if you rent a dumpster for some kind of big home renovation project, everyone and their mom–literally everyone and their mom–will come to your dumpster, morning, noon, and in the middle of the night to drop off refrigerators, carpeting, and cribs. it will be a community event and you will get no rest.
  • then other people will come to your dumpster to dig through it and  haul off everyone’s junk. they will always do this in the middle of the night. and they’ll break a lot of glass in the process. cause why bother being careful when you’re already in a dumpster?
  • if it snows one inch, everyone puts, like, orange cones and chairs in their parking spots. and if you move a cone or chair, you will get stabbed. (note: please don’t move the cones and chairs. your life is worth more than a parking spot.)
  • these ancient little row homes have tiny ancient holes in the wall–invisible to the naked eye–that let in bad odors, like, for example, the smell of dead body next door. the smell will seep into every crevice of your home and your belongings. then you will have a breakdown. then you will spend months trying to get rid of the smell, which will only completely go away when the home is gutted two years later.
  • oh yeah. and a rat could get in your house, from like, a bigger hole you never saw behind your stairs. from your late neighbor’s house. right after your basement floods and it will jump in and out of boxes like a sick carnival game. and then you will really lose your mind.
  • there’s more but i’ll stop.

yeah. it’s kind of a party here. not like a good party either. no, the type of party where you wake up the next day somewhere missing a heel, your phone screen is cracked like a car windshield that’s been in a horrific accident, and you have raccoon eyes from makeup your best friend did for you the night before that you thought was ok, but now, in the light of day, you actually see was alarmingly sloppy and you immediately decide you will kick her ass the next time you see her.

so it’s a hot mess here. there’s random puffs of weaves on our curb and our alley looks like a thrift shop and a helicopter once temporarily blinded me with its searchlight.

BUT DAMMIT THIS PLACE HAS GROWN ON ME. like a mushroom. or…a wart. at first you don’t even know it’s there. then you see it, hate it, and want to rid yourself of it immediately. and then, as you contemplate wart creams at rite-aid, something strange and miraculous starts happening: you get used to it. and…start liking it a little? because dammit it’s your wart and it’s become part of you. and you could go to the dermatologist to get it removed but why bother?

folks, that’s baltimore for me. over the past seven years, i have cursed this place. i have screamed and shouted and chased cats, rats, and run from our neighbor’s beautiful german shepherd that continues to get loose. i have looked up at the sky, shaken my fist, and shouted WHHHYYYYYY. (really? geez, i’m dramatic.)

i honestly didn’t even know i kind of liked it here until i read this obnoxious dc response to the recent (and newest iteration of the) longtime baltimore vs. dc debate. (for background, first read this, then this.) since then, i have felt oddly protective of this hellhole of a city and i have come up with a list of my own.

mind you, it’s not a baltimore vs. dc list. as baltimore’s city paper points out, the dc vs. baltimore thing is lame. i have lived in both places and they are two distinct, very different animals, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

my list, aptly named F*CK YEAH BALTIMORE, is a list of reasons how this weirdass city has quietly and successfully wormed its way into my friggin heart. so here we go:

  • we may have some sketchyass people walking through our hood, but our neighbors are friggin awesome and we look out for each other and help each other out all the time. i have never experienced anything like it in my life.
  • we have a bread factory right splat in the middle of the city. the smell fills your whole damn car up for like three or four blocks. it’s pretty awesome.
  • old folks sit out on their stoops in the summer and can tell you what the neighborhood looked like 50 years ago. (you can read about one such old timer here. it’s an article i wrote on the late “mr. john” pente of little italy, who lived in the same one-block radius for 100 years–his entire life.)
  • carolers on your front stoop. really? yes, really!
  • big boyz bail bonds pens. they’re everywhere. and surprisingly good pens! gotta laugh or you’ll cry your eyes out.
  • formstone. also everywhere.
  • corner bars. yes, everywhere. go twice and you’re a regular.
  • playing bingo at the sons of italy lodge in little italy. 25 cents a card. i’ll take four, thanks!
  • speaking of italian, this place right here. dipasquale’s italian marketplace. best tiramisu (and everything else) you’ve ever had in your life. if that’s not enough, the owner, joe, is a huge madonna fan. and adorable ladies like this might be lunching there. come to our neighborhood, we’ll take you there.
  • speaking of food, this is best damn greek food you’ll ever have in your life. cash only, no reservations. get there early, and whatever you do, you must try the dressing.
  • sure, there’s blight here. but it’s beautiful in its own way.
  • and our little old ladies have some serious spunk.
  • you can take a free boat to the office and get a photo like this on the way home.
  • you can go out in your pajamas and no one looks at you like you’re crazy. and you know what? even in your pajamas, you’re still hotter than about 85% of the people here.
  • we are not cooler than you. baltimore is not one of those places with a reputation for being hip or cool. in fact, it’s kind of uncool. and you know what? that makes it kind of cool.

so there’s my working F*CK YEAH BALTIMORE list. have your own f*ck yeah baltimore? please share!

see, this place is MY WART. it’s my hot mess of a party. and if you’re gonna be dissin it, get ‘cho ass down here to southeast (SOUF-EAST) and tell it to my FACE. yeah that’s what i thought. PEACE OUT YO.

(p.s. i’ve never had a wart.)
(but i’m probably going to get one now because i wrote this. and i’ll tell you what: screw the wart cream at rite-aid, i am going straight to the dermatologist to burn that sh*t off.)

remember that one time we were on a low-carb diet and robbed a dunkin donuts?

first, the (big gay) elephant in the room: i kind of (read: totally) fell off the face of the earth for a minute. i told you about holly’s short sweatpants back in march and then i left you hanging for months.

  • was she still wearing the sweatpants?
  • did she cut them into shorts for the summer?
  • did she forgive me for encouraging her to buy them in petite when she clearly should have bought them in regular, thus saving her from the type of shame that only comes from wearing any kind of pants that are obviously too short for you?

the short answers to all of these are a. no (it’s been too warm for sweatpants) b. no (they are still whole and intact plus holly would never wear cut-offs; i’m not saying this is the right way to be but this is how she is) c. yes, she forgave me but i have yet to forgive myself. they’re pretty damn short.

where did i go? well mainly i was working. (if you’re self-employed the way i am, being busy is a good thing) and also life just wasn’t seeming all that funny. i mean, there have been many many funny moments, but it just wasn’t feeling funny enough to sit down and write about things, which is a major bummer for many reasons. if this blog has a purpose, it’s to make you laugh. to help you forget about whatever you’re dealing with in life and just sit back and have a good ol friggin laugh.

so now that i’m back, let’s just launch right back into things, shall we?

here’s what’s been going on since march:

we went on a low-carb diet and robbed a dunkin donuts.
the details are fuzzy because i was so weak from low blood-sugar. all i remember is waking up  covered in crumbs (old-fashioned cake: my fave), vanilla cream (cream-filled: holly’s fave), and raspberry jelly (jelly-filled: mutual fave). i had bite marks on my arm, which, if i remember correctly, i had tried gnawing off the day before. i realize that my arm would be considered “low-carb,” but i  hallucinated that it was a hot dog bun, so i tried to eat it.

(no seriously: it was “phase 1” of the south beach diet. it went well but…yeah, after 10 days we totally fell off the wagon. however, it was a good learning experience. like, a good way to learn how to creep out of dunkin donuts on your hands and knees after you have no idea how you got there. also we learned how to make cauliflower pizza, an odd but strangely addictive low-carb delicacy.)

i got in a fight with the sushi guy at whole foods and can never get sushi there again.
it sucks but look: i don’t need to be buying overpriced sushi from whole foods anyway. it’s kind of awkward now, but whatever! don’t try to charge me $4 for single sheet of soy paper! so i don’t like seaweed! do you really need to punish me for that? jews don’t like seaweed. it reminds our collective subconscious of crossing the red sea, which you know was uncomfortable for everyone involved, especially us jewish women because, hello, our hair. anyway. next!

i brought more natural disasters to under armour.
last time i contracted on-site at under armour, there was an earthquake and i split my pants right down the middle. this time i brought a tornado. well it was actually a “waterspout.” either way it scared the sh*t outta me and i hid in the basement until it was over, where, oddly enough, i learned there was a much better snack machine than the one on the third floor where i was working. holla!

i accidentally gave holly caffeinated coffee for like two weeks.
she kept saying she felt nervous but we couldn’t figure out why. i think i switched the bags or something? or labeled them wrong? oh i don’t even remember how i did it. honey, i am so sorry!

i got a retainer.
well actually it’s a night guard but it’s funnier to say retainer. apparently, when i sleep my jaw clamps down like a vice, resulting in phenomenally bad headaches. i finally relented to the idea of a mouthguard, which i imagined would be this big behemoth of a thing, like the kind of mouthguards football players wear, and i was concerned that, you know, instead of helping me, it might choke me while i slept. but when i went to go pick it up, it was this cute, teeny-tiny, dainty clear thing. like, it should have an english accent or something.

going in to get it molded at the dentist wasn’t as bad i thought it might be. to avert a new-jersey-jewish-control-freak panic attack, i kept telling holly “THLLLL MAA AH NNNLK,” my mouth full of this weird kind of…blue goo? and a big plastic mold-type thing.

“babe, i can’t…i can’t understand you,” holly said, laughing, while the dental assistant shot us weird looks trying, but failing, to smile.

(if i could have spoken i would have told that assistant to mind her own bees-wax and that if she didn’t look away i would punch her in the throat.)

“THHLLLL. MAA. AHH. NNNLK!” i kept saying.

this, of course, meant “tell me a joke.” which holly never did, as she couldn’t understand me. the exchange was ridiculous enough to avert anxiety, and now when i go to bed, i’m super sexy. i put in my mouthguard and it mathhes me tawlk like thiithhh. nicethhhhhhh.

i got fever & we almost missed jamie & jamie’s wedding.
i came down with a mean 36-hour flu on friday, may 31st. the day before our friends’ jamie and jamie’s wedding. (yes, they’re both named jamie. i know. the gays, constantly throwing you for loops and destroying the universe.) it came on in the span of like 10 minutes. i swear my body felt like it was shutting down. holly was irritated because the wedding was going to be fun and she didn’t want to miss it. (hello, i didn’t want to miss it either!) she also said i was complaining a lot. however, i couldn’t hear her because i was under three layers of blankets, shaking so bad from how cold i was because i had a 101.7 fever.

(holly, you’re mean. if you weren’t so cute i’d punch you in the throat, too.) 

i tried dry shampoo.
total bullsh*t. i felt like i had lice for like four hours and it made me smell like old lady.

i made a short-lived decision to become a charm city rollergirl.
i announced this in the car last week. it was a sudden decision but seemed like a sound one at the time.

“i mean, i’m not really athletic enough. right now. but i could, like, train to be,” i said, twirling my hair thinking of my cool future rollerderby name (Jersey J.? Jess The Jerk?) and all the tattoos i’d get and then have to hide from my parents.

 “i’d also need to learn how to skate backwards. and learn how to stop.” 

“you’re not tough enough to be a rollergirl,”  holly said.

“yes i –”

then she poked me in the arm.

OW! HEY! THAT HURT! THAT WAS LIKE, A PRESSURE POINT OR SOMETHING.”

“see? you’re not tough enough. you can’t be a rollergirl.”

“yes i am!” i said, rubbing the spot she just poked. “that’s going to leave a mark.”

and then, just to emphasize how i upset i was, i added the clincher:

“i’m going to blog about this.”

and so, here i am. blogging. again. gettin fevers. robbin dunkins. cussin at whole foods. makin tornados waterspouts. pullin out weaves. cuttin b*tches who be frontin me. wearin pajama t-shirts in public.
(note: i only did one of the last three things listed here.) (you’d never even know. it’s like, a regular t-shirt.)
(we also never actually robbed a dunkin donuts.)
(i’ll tell you what: if we did ever rob a store, it’d definitely be whole foods. and i’d rob the sh*t outta their sushi bar.)

holly, i’m sorry i told you to buy those sweatpants in petite

as a spouse/significant other, you are depended upon for both a) tasks and b) opinions.  in our household, one of my tasks is that i make the coffee because you’re so good at it, holly says, batting her eyelashes. (i need to note here that she’s actually pretty good at making it, too, but she’d rather i’d do it, which is totally fine, as i’d rather her take the recycling and trash out to the black hole that is our alley.)

anyway, sometime within the past six months or so we were perusing our local jcpenny’s–wait, no: JAYCEEPEE–perusing the aisles of our local JCP, when she stumbled across a pair of particularly comfy looking grey sweatpants.

ooooh these are nice, she said.

yeah, i said. nice.

now, you may or may not recall this, but i’m not much of a shopper. it’s like, the “gayest” thing about me (besides, you know, the obvious). i mean, i love a trip to target, but at least there i can make a quick getaway into the greeting cards/ cleaning products/make-up aisle to get away from all the clothes.

holly loves to shop. oh she loooooves to shop. (“i DO NOT love to shop,” she just said. whatever, she likes to. i don’t care what she says.) and she loves to get my damn opinion on everything. so that’s the context here. as i was saying:

do you think i should get them in a regular or petite? she asks me as i walk behind her, distracted and instagramming (is that a verb? i’m making it a verb.)

you’re small. get a petite, i say. otherwise you’re gonna havta get em hemmed and that costs as much as the pants. 

so i should get the petite?

yeah, get the petite.

ok, i’ll get the petite.

great, can we leave now?

no, not yet, i want to look in the kitchen section. where’s the escalator?

at which point i groaned and we had our usual but-i-don’t-want-to/pipe-down-babe-it’ll-just-be-a-minute,-if-you-want-me-to-cook-for-you-i-need-kitchen-tools exchange.

after a couple of washes the pants shrunk. holly noticed first. i looked up from words with friends and agreed that yeah, they were a little on the short side.

now, weeks later, i see that they’re actually not just a little short, they’re painfully short. she likes to wear them, because they’re a great color and they are indeed comfortable, but, like an inside voice or an inside cat, they are inside pants. she’ll occasionally wear them for a walk to the park and immediately regret it, saying she feels like rocky balboa (see below).

Rocky Balboa runs up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum in the first Rocky movie.

rocky balboa’s short pants in the first rocky movie. i guess it was ok because it was the 80s? anyway, holly’s aren’t quite as short, but it’s close. it’s really close.

anyway, now i feel kind of guilty. even though i laugh and call her “short pants,” i really do feel bad. she depended on me for input and i lead her astray. she should have never gotten the petite. babe, i should have never told you to get the petite. i’m sorry and i love you, even in your short pants. especially in your short pants.

i’m also sorry i was accidentally making you caffeinated coffee instead of decaf for like a week last month and you kept feeling anxious and we didn’t know why. i didn’t properly label the ground bulk coffee we got at whole foods. completely my fault. it was my task and i failed. i’ll take the trash and recycling out to make up for it. wait no. i can’t because i’m scared of our alley. but i love you and i’ll be more careful from here on out.

in other news: we’re getting MARRIED this weekend. THIS TIME RIGHT HERE IN OUR HOME STATE OF MARYLAND! on st. patty’s day (sunday!), the three-year anniversary of our first legal wedding in dc.

it was kind of a spur-of-the-moment decision. we ran over to the baltimore city courthouse earlier this week and were like HOLLA! we’re here to get our marriage license! (well, we didn’t say “holla” but we could’ve) and the lady was like HOLLA! here it is! (well, no, not really but she was nice). anyway, the rabbi that married us the first time will do it again, except this time she’ll be able to sign a license. full circle right? and this time in jeans! (if you’re new to this blog and you’d like to read about our nuptial adventures–and oh, we’ve had many–in one fell swoop, check out this essay i wrote for the current issue of baltimore bride.)

until then, folks, take your spousal/significant other-ly duties seriously! if your partner’s pants seem too short, for crying out loud, pay attention and speak up. and if s/he can’t process caffeine, don’t confuse the bags. you know it can only end badly.

hurricanes upset my hiatal hernia

(a breaking news interruption in the what i did this summer series)

like most jewish girls in the 21st century, i’m not known for my hearty nature. my straightened hair frizzes easily, my joints tend to ache before rain, and i need to eat every three hours or my blood-sugar will drop severely and i will undoubtedly act out.  (trust me, you don’t want me to act out.)

i also have a hiatal hernia that gets irritated during stressful situations. so you know i wasn’t happy to hear there was the worst hurricane in like 50 years headed our way.

to be quite frank, even before sandy’s arrival, i’d kind of had it with the natural disaster type things around here. we’d already had two hurricanes and we’ve only lived in baltimore since 2006. oh and then there was THAT EARTHQUAKE which i mistakenly thought was an underground gas explosion, which propelled me to make the wise decision to stick my head out of our second-floor bedroom’s wide-open windows and shout at the jackhammering work guys outside WHAT THE F*CK ARE YOU DOING MY HOUSE IS GOING TO EXPLODE.

as luck would have it, a drugdealer across the street looked up at me and shouted EAAARTH-QUAKE!!!!!! oh so it wasn’t a gas explosion, i thought as i my socked feet slid across the rumbling floor. relief quickly turned to guilt, as i really gave the confused-looking workers a verbal lashing. i kind of felt like a dumbass but whatever. it could have been a gas explosion. what the hell do i know? i’ve never felt a friggin earthquake before. this isn’t california, it’s maryland. so i did what any jersey girl would do: i threw on my sneaks and jean jacket, grabbed  my purse and ran the hell out the door. it doesn’t matter that it was 90 degrees out. hell if i’m going to let our house crumble on my very best jean jacket.

anyway, as soon as i heard about the hurricane, my hiatal hernia started acting up. (have you ever had bad gas pains? yeah, it’s kind of like that but higher and it burns.) i put on my brave face (and yes, my jean jacket) and went to safeway friday afternoon to buy water only to be confronted by soviet-era empty shelves, then promptly threatened to cut a girl and pull out her weave for two bottles of smartwater. (no i actually didn’t do that but i could have don’t tempt me)

i bugged holly all weekend about getting ice, buying more drinks, buying more food, making sure the gas tank was filled, recharging all the rechargeable batteries we bought before the last hurricane that we haven’t used yet. i also bugged her to cook me hearty hurricane food like guinness beef stew and chili even though they would probably all upset my hiatal hernia.

i finally remembered to fill up the bathtub sunday night, when the hurricane was already well under way, of course. i’m not exactly sure why you should do that? because storms make the water go out? and then you use it to flush the toilet?

whatever, they kept mentioning it on the news and it was stressing me out. so i turned on the tub then went downstairs and started doing dishes until, panic-stricken, i remembered OH MY GOSH I LEFT THE WATER ON BABE TURN IT OFF HURRY!

“oh i love how this is my responsibility now!” holly shouted as she frantically ran up the stairs.

i knew she was right but i was also in the middle of doing dishes. sue me, i panicked and she was closer to the stairs. anyway, in those moments before she got to the bathroom, i had visions of the tub running over and telling people, yeah we had a really bad leak and our ceiling collapsed but no, it wasn’t because of the hurricane, it was because i left the bathtub on for like 30 minutes.

“IT’S OKAY!” holly shouted downstairs.

i breathed out, eternally grateful for our oversized tub.

i rewarded myself for getting through such a stressful time by drinking some cranberry-lemonade honest-ade, which we bought in case the water went out and/or became poisoned, so it was strictly off-limits. i took a few gulps and irresponsibly encouraged holly to do the same.

then we decided to go downstairs to our children-of-the-corn basement, which, yes, once smelled like dead people but doesn’t anymore, to check how much water we were getting.

we quickly discovered that we’d sprung a new leak, which was saturating the ceiling. i immediately started worrying about how much it would cost to fix and would it lead to structural damage, simultaneously patting myself on the back for even knowing such a term. then i realized holly had been talking to me for like a minute asking me to help her pump the water out of the basement through our street-level basement window.

while we were pumping, all i could do was think about how much i wanted to wash my hands and would i get a spider bite and would patient first be open and what if i needed antibiotics?

we went back upstairs to the living room, and by then the wind was really going. between the howling winds, the leak downstairs, and pounding rain, i doubted i’d be able to fall asleep.

suddenly holly was next to me on the couch in her pajamas wanting to watch one of her dumb comedy/action movies. you know, the kind where one thing after another goes wrong? (this one was “the sitter,” which, though kind of annoying and crude, was also kind of funny.)

she’s always stealthily changing into her pajamas. seriously, i turn my back for a minute and the girl’s in her pajamas. i don’t even know how she does it but it never ceases to amaze me.

“you really want to go to sleep in your pajamas?” i asked her wide-eyed. “what if we need to run out in an emergency in the middle of the night? i’m sleeping in my clothes. i’m not even taking off my bra.”

“what kind of emergency?” she said, trying not to laugh.

“well…like if the windows break. if the wind blows the windows out and we have to run out of the house away from flying glass!”

“i think we’ll be ok,” she said, settling into the movie.

i gave her the evil eye, jealous of her cozy pajamas. my jeggings suddenly seemed restrictive, and my ironic flannel shirt felt too hot. but whatever. i was prepared. she’d be the one sopping wet in her pajamas outside with the neighborhood perverts if our window blew out, not me.

when the movie was over, we went to bed. i decided to wear sweatpants to sleep because hell if was going to run out of the house in the middle of the night in boxer shorts amongst the perverts and whatnot. i had a moment of hesitation regarding my bra but decided i could put it on while running out of the house if need be.

i’m happy to report that besides the new basement leaks, our house withstood the wind and rain. and i did manage to sleep. and there were no emergencies causing us to run outside in the rain amongst the perverts. i was relieved i didn’t have to put my on bra on the run. to be honest, i’m not sure if that’s even possible.

my heart is heavy for all the folks that lost their homes, lost everything, even their lives. i spent many happy times with my family at the jersey shore. but, as a one-time jersey girl, i have to say: new jersey folks are damn resilient. if anyone can rebuild, it’s them. the same goes for those in queens.

last night i thought about posting this entry, wondering if it was too nonchalant considering the damage that’s been done. but then i decided everyone could use a laugh right about now. and what better way to cheer up than to read about my multiple neuroses (and my hiatal hernia) during a hurricane? exactly.

in unrelated news, if you love lunch at 11:30, and i know you do!, please help me win best personal blog in the baltimore sun mobbies competition. signing up takes about…5 seconds. and voting takes about the same! just click on the badge below and look for lunch at 11:30. you can vote once a day, every day! not to try to bribe you or anything, but i’ll totally send you leftover halloween candy if you vote for me. i promise it won’t have any needles in it. promise. and no raisins. i don’t believe in giving out raisins. or pennies. just candy. THANKS.

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