Tag Archives: urban

if i wanted it to be this hot, i’d live directly on the equator

i interrupt this blog hiatus (omg wtf’s up w/the blog hiatus? i know. it’s annoying me, too) to say that my car’s already reading 94 friggin degrees and it’s not even 9:15 in the morning!!!! 

yes, baltimore–and every other city w/in driving distance–is trapped in a heat wave right now. and i am not a fan of the heat. and srsly? if i wanted it to be this hot i’d live closer to, or directly on, the equator. i am not kidding. i could do very well in an area that’s consistently 60-70 degrees. (does a place like that even exist? if so, pls tell me where it is.)

yesterday was weird. first of all, it was so hot that the city, well southeast baltimore at least, felt like a ghost town. not everyone around here has air conditioning, so when it’s hot, ppl usually hang out on their stoops or the sidewalk to get some relief. but the sun was beating down with such intensity that even the usual stoop suspects stayed inside. i didn’t even smell one bbq. not even the drunks in the house by the alley were out. total silence save for some sirens here and there. like i said: weird.

then, late afternoon, our power went out. in the almost-four years we’ve lived in our house, our power has never gone out. never. the lights went out. dishwasher stopped. the hum of our air conditioner disappeared. holly and i looked at each other and were like: uh-oh.

turns out the entire block was out. within 10 minutes, the temperature in our house went up two degrees. then i started thinking about all the pricey frozen stuff we had in the freezer. and the two new half-gallons of milk in the fridge. and that our cell phones had weak batteries. and both of our computers weren’t charged up. and all the assignments i had to finish.

wow, we are so dependant on electricity, i thought, suddenly filled with deep thoughts about modern life and its luxuries. this, of course, was followed up with a loud “THIS SUCKS” to holly. so much for deep thinking.

she, of course, concurred.

“the silence is deafening,” she said from the couch.

“i know,” i said. i was about to start humming top 40 hits to fill the dead air, but instead suggested we go out for pizza, since we decided that even cracking our fridge or freezer would put all of our cold and/or frozen food in jeopardy.

we went out and came back and the power was still out, tho the BGE guys were working on it. (major props to those guys.) thankfully our neighbor lori the teacher opened her home to us like she usually does (hi lori! love ya) and we charged an extra cell phone battery and holly’s computer. everyone was out on their stoops and sidewalks by then. and i guess the darkness and boredom drove everyone that had leftover fireworks to light them off almost simultaneously. most of the ghettofabulous fireworks around here sound like machine guns, so between the darkness, silence and bursts of uzi-like explosives i felt like we were in some kind of urban warfare movie.

we broke out the flashlights and then lit all the little tealight candles we have left from our wedding (almost two years ago now! can you believe it??). it could have been a romantic moment if it hadn’t been like 90 degrees in the house.

we went up to the roofdeck and since it was so dark and on the way up, i did a little flashlight signal to jerry the drunk (who was hanging out his second-floor window, like he usually does; tho he did have clothes on this time, seemed like, anyway. note: he doesn’t always have clothes on) as my way of saying hi. he waved. (i gotta say, he really is the nicest neighborhood drunk)

we didn’t last long up there b/c honestly, the fireworks (in such close proximity) combined w/the darkness all around was freaking me out. we went to sleep, to the sound of the guys working, on top of our comforter, and holly woke me up around midnight to tell me the power was back on. i went downstairs to check on the stuff in the fridge (food: always my biggest priority) and everything in the freezer was still frozen solid. whew.

then i got some crushed ice and poured myself a cold glass of iced tea, turned up the ac, went back upstairs, turned on the ceiling fan and turned on the tv. (i would have fired up my 450-degree hair straightener, but, you know, we weren’t going anywhere.) ahhh. creature comforts.  man i love electricity.

so today it’s supposed to be even hotter (104 degrees, msnbc is telling me) b/c of the humidity. and it’s not cooling down anytime soon. do you hate this heat? do you love it? and if you love it, why?!

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and here’s why people move to the suburbs

b/c when you’re trying to have a nice dinner outside–on your deck, say–some dude goes in the alleyway directly across the street–you know, the one you have an absolutely perfect view of–and just when you think he’s going to do something completely disgusting like pee he actually proceeds to do the ultimate in disgusting: barfs his guts up. repeatedly. and then you lose your friggin appetite, pack up the dishes and the half-eaten plates of food and haul everything inside with a big sigh.

then you say to your partner when you get downstairs–holding your breath so you won’t barf yourself–that you know why ppl move to the suburbs. that this is why ppl move to the suburbs. and maybe we should move to the suburbs?

ok, so obviously you know that this story wasn’t about someone else or hypothetical. it’s about us and it’s about last night and i’m having a hard time not getting sick just thinking about it. i’ve never wished for someone to pee in an alleyway before. and i’ve never wished for a hard rain like this either. (luckily, we think Jerry the Drunk ,who lives in the house directly next to the alley, cleaned it up since he has a hose he uses to water the plants–he has an incredibly green thumb, you’d swear he wasn’t drunk the way his plants and flowers grow–out front.)

look, it’s not baltimore per se. this kind of crap happens in every city. anytime you have a mass of humanity living close together, disgusting things inevitably happen. but for crying out loud. the dude was probably drunk and it wasn’t even 7pm. 

each day that passes here makes me more and more appreciative of the picturesque little new jersey town i grew up in. you’d be hard pressed to find me making cracks about living in the suburbs anymore. not after living here. wooh boy. no way.

oh fer cryin out loud: i really am old now

b/c i just called the local elementary/middle school “not as a parent but as a concerned member of the community.” damn kids are running wild in the neighborhood! not only walking in the middle of the street–i’m not talking a few at a time either, i’m talking 15-20 at a time; the sidewalks are clear btw, there’s  no reason to walk in the middle of the street–but taking handfuls of icy, sharp snow and scratching cars as they drive by.

this one kid did it to the car in front of us, then looked us straight in the eye and did it to us, too. they all pretty much sh*t a brick when all the sudden holly opens her door and gets out to yell at them, “hey! do you have money to fix the scratches on my car?? do you????” at which point they all started taunting us, shouting curses, dancing and giving us the finger, still in the middle of the street, of course.

look, i’m not stupid. these kids have been cooped up inside for over a week. and a lot of the kids around here depend on school to eat, so they’re probably grumpy and their home lives are probably crap. but: it is DANGEROUS for them to be walking down the middle of the street any time of the year, but esp. when two-way streets are now one-way and there’s ice and snow everywhere and most ppl around here don’t know how to drive in these conditions anyway! half the cars you see every day are slipping and sliding down these narrow sidestreets that a lot of the schools are on. they also shouldn’t be messing with moving vehicles, trying to damage them. these kids are badasses as it is. middle schoolers have actually beaten up full-grown adults in this city. but c’mon now. taunting drivers while they’re slipping and sliding on bad road conditions? plus taunting drivers in general! and destroying property. school administrators should know about that.

then we’re trying to pull in our spot and just as we’re starting to back up we see this woman–i don’t know if she was a mother or just a caretaker/daycare person–but she is beating this little girl that couldn’t have been more than four. i’m sorry but a kid that little does not need to be hit like that. what could she have possibly done?? the woman’s got about four or five kids with her, including an itty-bitty one in stroller. and this little girl is just wailing and now the others that saw her get hit are crying, too. we didn’t know if we should say something to this woman or not. i just kept thinking, if we say something she’ll probably get even more mad and beat the girl some more. yeah, and we’re wondering why kids are cursing us out and destroying property. i’m not saying it gives older kids a carte blanche to do whatever they want to, but it was certainly a cause-and-effect reminder of what some of these kids have gone thru and continue to go thru on a daily basis. it’s funny how you need a license to drive, but anyone biologically able can have a child.

anyway, i’m like, 80 now, calling school administrators. and i know they have enough to worry about. but still, they ought to know what their kids are up to in the neighborhood just outside the school building.

i knew it was only a matter of time

before some dumbass pulled a knife on somebody over a parking spot. this is today’s new neighborhood development.

yup, some dude moved someone else’s chair and parked in his spot. we saw cop cars and asked what was going on. like i keep saying: respect the chair. [or the cone, milkcrate, dining room set, tv tray, coffee table (yes, saw one of those today) or, my new favorite, a laundry basket full of snow with a pink foam floaty noodle sticking out of it.] respect it or you might get cut. at least in baltimore. so beware.

well now i feel like a giant ass

b/c the old man really did kick it.

if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know who i’m talking about: our old man neighbor, the loner, the one we always checked in with each other about–that we’d seen him around. the one i’ve been irritated with for months and months: for his overgrown yard, rat factory garage, unconnected gutters…for reporting us to the city for a bag of leftover recycling that was mistaken for trash when i don’t even know if he’s the one that reported us. the one we could have reached out to more b/c we knew he didn’t have any family or friends.

we’d been smelling something weird in the house since wednesday or thursday. honestly, it smelled like a dead mouse, but just in the front of the house. we figured this was the case, since we just hired a new exterminator and he’d set a bunch of traps. as the days went by, it got stronger. hell, just this morning holly was sniffing really deeply–reallly really deeply (ugh)–by our front window looking for clues. we lifted up the arm chairs yesterday, half-expecting to find a rotting mouse or something. late last week we lifted up the couch. nothing there either. the smell sort of seeped into the basement, too. i’d even decided i’d call the exterminator to have a look this week since we just couldn’t find anything. it got to the point that we couldn’t do anything for any period of time (homework for holly, various writing assignments for me) b/c the smell got so distracting that we couldn’t concentrate, let alone cook, and it really freaked us out that we couldn’t locate its source.

we didn’t see the old man on halloween (us three next-door neighbors: the “BGE guy,” old man and holly and i usually sit on our marble stoops each year with bowls of candy for trick-or-treaters). heck, we hadn’t seen him for at least a couple of weeks. we decided today we’d knock on his door to see if he was ok. if no one answered, we’d call 311, the non-emergency police line.

we knocked before we left to go out this morning. no answer. then we knocked on our neighbors’ door (the one who lives on the other side of the old man, the aforementioned “BGE guy” and his family) to ask if they’d seen him lately. or smelled something. but they weren’t home. we knocked on the old man’s door when we got back. still no answer. we talked to a couple more  neighbors and asked if they’d seen him lately (he usually walked out to the local grocery store a couple times a week) and they all said, come to think of it, no we haven’t. so that’s when we decided we’d call 311, all the while expecting it to be nothing. he’d be alive–and mad and freaked out when the fire department kicked down his door, hell that might kill him, we figured–and we’d have wasted a whole lot of emergency responder time over a dead mouse in the wall, and we’d feel like the crazy, worry-over-nothing neighbors.

as soon as the officer got to the old man’s front door he knew. he said he could smell it from outside. plus there were flies on the inside of the windows. and condensation. (we’ve had an abundance of flies lately. it’s been odd, and i…don’t want to talk about it.) he was “95 percent sure” he said that our neighbor was dead inside the house, and had been so for some time.

soon the fire crew came, took out their ladders, climbed up and opened his windows to get in. we watched from the roof (we didn’t want to be in the house, but we didn’t want to be outside of it either; the roofdeck seemed like the best possible option, tho we noticed we could smell it from up there, too) as the firefighters and officers put on oxygen tanks and masks to go inside. that’s when i knew that our very worst baltimore nightmare had come true.

i wasn’t out there when they cracked the windows open, but when i came outside a little while later, there were still flies swarming on the formstone front of his house. the smell spilled out onto the sidewalk. it morphed into a smell that i don’t want to ever smell again. it’s burned into my memory.

i felt selfish for feeling so grossed out and disgusted. after those grossed-out type feelings passed a little, i felt just plain weirded out that we were just going on with our lives as he lay dead inside. (he must’ve had a heart attack and fallen on the ground, the crew told us.) once i got all those feelings (temporarily) out of my system, i started feeling really sad for him. that he didn’t get to die with dignity or with family around. that he was so alone in this world that the two girls next store wound up smelling something and called the police and the coroner had to take him out in a bag. that’s no way to go. then we both started feeling bad for not making more of an effort. we should have brought him hot meals, holly said. i shouldn’t have been so mad at him the past few weeks (since we got that environmental citation i suspect he turned us in for), i said. hell, the last time i saw him, just over two weeks ago, i’d say, he was standing in his doorway, wanting to say hello. he was oddly friendly all of the sudden, and i figured it was b/c he wanted to keep us off his trail (from suspecting that he was reporting our trash that wasn’t really our trash). he startled me, and i said hello and that was it. i was grumpy. little did i know that would be the last time i’d see him alive. now i feel terrible about it.

i take comfort in the fact that, in my mind, he’s not alone anymore. and with loved ones long gone. i wish the cops hadn’t thought it’d be funny to tell me gruesome details i pretty much begged them not to tell me so i could picture him as i had known him: as the white-haired, long-bearded eccentric man, always in his tan safari hat with the string hanging around his neck. walking quietly to the supermarket, always in khaki, multi-pocketed cargo pants and a dark blue jacket, always buttoned up, even on the hottest days. who mumbled about public television shows even i didn’t watch (like britcoms; oy, the britcoms) even when i worked at one (admittedly, i watch very little public television; yes, even when i worked at a public television station). who thought we were spying on him when we built our decks. the ex-morgan state librarian who tried to be friendly to us, even tho it was painfully obvious it was hard for him.

we won’t be staying in our house for the next couple days. (i’m writing this from our good friends’ house) it needs to air out. my whole head needs to air out, actually. i’m going to saline spray the hell out of my nose before i go to sleep tonight. we think our freshly laundered pajamas may have an odor to them, but honestly, what can we do? i’m going to ignore it and just put them on and try to go to sleep.

we continue to shake our heads b/c we never really thought it would come to this. we didn’t really think he’d “kick it” and then we’d “smell something.” it was always this morbid half-joke. and here’s it come true.

i’ve got to admit that this is just too much. i just want some peace and quiet. i just want all of this disgusting stuff to stop (and i haven’t even told you the half of it; i am saving some real doozies for the book). i know i joke around a lot about everything: about our neighborhood. the hookers and the dealers and the rats and the alleys. but at this point, i gotta say:  i really just want to move away and leave this all behind. i don’t want to go back to our house. i feel like everything’s changed. i don’t want to sleep there. i don’t want to live there. i feel crazy just thinking about it. baltimore, i’ve had enough. i really think it might be time to go.

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i’m tired of telling you how crappy this town is, so tonight i’m gonna show you

i’ve kind of had it today. i was going to blog (yesterday, but i got too tired) about all the special things holly did for my birthday (and all the wonderful facebook notes i got throughout the day, even the day before) but baltimore city has ruined things again. so instead i’m going to rant about our ghettoass neighborhood. specifically our alleyway.

if you have a weak stomach i suggest you stop reading now.

they say a picture’s worth a thousand words. and up until this point, i haven’t shown you photos of crap in/the antics of our shittyass neighborhood in order to protect our privacy. but alleyways are fairly anonymous.

so here you go:

trash_decaying rat

that’s the alley behind our house. about a week ago.

see that flat, rotting thing on the right? that’s a dead rat.
and that sewer right there? that’s a chesapeake bay water drain! like blue crabs? that’s what you’re eatin’, folks!

here’s what it looks like right now:


and you know what i especially love? i love how the city fined *us*, we got a notice this afternoon, for not having our trash “in the proper receptacle,” which we always do, btw, it’s just that the recycling guys refused to pick up the one bag that wouldn’t fit in our city-approved yellow recycling can last week.

We, of course, will be requesting a hearing about this,I wrote our councilperson and the mayor (i heard they actually read the emails she gets) tonight, but it is a true slap in the face considering how much we actually care about our neighborhood. We’re the ones that shout out our bedroom windows that we’re calling the police when we see our neighbors literally being beaten to a pulp in the middle of the night–without us shouting, they might be dead. (For the record, we called the police. This has happened twice.) We’re the ones that stood with the young mother (who didn’t speak any English) directly in front of our house many months ago that was sucker-punched by a bunch of teenage boys while her two young children were sitting–scared and bewildered–in her car, until the police showed up. We’re the ones with the carbon monoxide detector that, two winters ago, saved the lives of the temporary residents of the once-vacant house next door  (the six men living there were using propane to heat their entire home since they didn’t have power). Look up “Jessica X” and “Holly X” in your 311 records and you’ll see how many times we’ve called about so many different things in our neighborhood. Thus far, I haven’t seen a single thing improve. And now, the icing on the cake: a $50 fine.

as i was taking photos of all the crap out back this afternoon (to attach to the email), i saw one of our neighbors walking up the alley towards me. she’s a rollergirl, seems tough as nails, and she told me about a junkie she saw in the alley this morning, passed out, needle still in her arm. and it’s just like, look. i know all cities have their problems. but some days this place downright sucks. esp. when you’ve put so much of your hard-earned money into renovating a once-crackhouse in a neighborhood that seemed like it was getting better, but instead got a whole lot worse.

i wish i could show you a photo of the front of our house, which is pretty nice, i must say, but alas, the privacy. i promise the alley’s a whole lot worse than the actual street. and i gotta say: our alley’s one of the worst in the neighborhood. i honestly cannot tell you why, but it is. anyway, i wanted to show you. you can hate me now, since you probably barfed up your dinner.

so about my birthday–and sticking with this general grossness theme i’ve got going on tonight–i got a special gift from my parents that arrived today in a truck and a knock on the door:

an exterminator.

yes, i asked my parents for an exterminator for my birthday. (that’s kind of how you know your life is more than a little ridiculous: you ask for an exterminator for your birthday) and they totally got one for me. i was so happy when he (“the orkin man”) showed up. he was very nice–perhaps a bit offbeat, but, from personal experience, i’m going to hypothesize that most probably are–and pretty chatty.

holly likes to study w/the tv on (that’s why i have headphones on right now; marriage is about compromise, right?) so as she was working away on her cute lil netbook, she had a movie going in the background.

“what is that, ‘fools rush in’?” he asked, craning his neck over from the mouse traps he was setting to see the screen.

“yeah,” holly said. “it’s one of my favorites.”

“oh me, too,” he said. “i love that one. you know which one i also love? whassit called…oh, i know,  ‘sweet home alabama!’ that’s a good one. and that actress, whasser name, i don’t know her name…murphy brown, the one that played the new york city mayor? she was spot-on (he was laughing at this point). she was great.”

i knew holly and i were thinking the same thing: our exteminator likes chick flicks??? 

i came thiiiiis close to asking him what he thought of one of our all-time favorites, ‘how to lose a guy in 10 days,’ but stopped myself for fear of embarrassing our surprisingly sensitive exterminator (who picked up a fairly huge rigamortis dead rat outside, placed it in a doubled up safeway bag and put it in his supplybox about five minutes before this) in case i was pushing it too far. (all joking aside, i wanted to know if he liked it.)

anyway, it was probably the best present i could possibly get. aside from things money can’t buy. like being (accidentally) woken up by your partner before the sun’s even up as she’s preparing to leave to get you a triple shot tall soy latte from starbucks, croissant, fresh oj, a bouquet of fall flowers and two cards (one just words, one with music) and present them to you upon her return. (yes, i cried. talk about supersensitive. i just love being loved by her.)

and now i had to ruin this perfectly gross/obnoxious post by getting all sappy. again.

would it make you feel any better if i told you that the honeymoon phase of holly and i both being unemployed and home all day together (except when she’s in class) is over?

how do you know when the honeymoon phase is over, you ask? probably when your partner tells you she’s gonna put you in a “sleeper hold,” which is apparently some kind of dorkyass navy headlock (she was in the navy reserves for 11 years). she thinks it’ll quiet me down. haha. yeah, right, babe. gonna take more than a headlock to quiet my ass down.

here’s why you don’t set off firecrackers in baltimore

’cause, friggin a,  they sound like gunshots.

late june/early july in “charm city” (haha; that’s almost as good as “baltimore: the city that reads”) always stresses me the hell out. it’s like HIT THE DECK every five minutes in our neighborhood. at least after the sun goes down. i swear, even the rumblings of our fridge ice machine set me off these days. is it wrong to say i miss suburban new jersey right now?? 

tell me: where’s the pleasure in setting off firecrackers? (holly, don’t answer this. she would gladly set them off every single night if she had her way.) ok, lighting a bunch and throwing them at the damn ice cream truck with the little girl voice that, after a brief silence, pops up in the middle of whatever it’s playing (damn truck started w/christmas music once spring set in: wtf?) at who-knows-what-decibel and says: HELLO?! would be fun. i’ll admit that. that would be fun. (shorty: you lived in our hood. you know the truck. total shoutout to you right now, btw. hearts.)

i’m already jumpy, what, with the helicopters and searchlights all the time (this is a baltimore thing, and isn’t confined to just our neighborhood, so if you’re a friend that hasn’t visited us yet but wants to, pls don’t be scared). but now it sounds like there’s machine guns around, too.

oh, and don’t think it ends july 4th either. oh no. you see, you have to finish off ALL your explosives. so the fun continues for at least a week after the holiday. yeah if you knock on my door and i don’t answer? i’m hiding under the couch. come back in august.

in other news: we went to latinofest last night. “ahh. it’s so nice to finally be with my ppl,” i said to holly.  not that i’m latina, but apparently i pass for it. i pretty much “pass” for what ethnicity is being celebrated at most ethnic festival around the city (save for african-american/native-american). so, yeah: greekfest? sure, i’m greek! (gimme feta!) polish–yeah, that, too. (gimme perogies!) russian? you betcha. (gimme borscht!) (of course my ancestry does help just a little bit on that one, wink wink)

holly really wanted a “latinofest 09” shirt, which i, of course, found completely adorable (seeing how she’s even less latina than i am). we weren’t finding them anywhere, and we started thinking that maybe they were for workers and volunteers only. she asked this cute guy working the beer stand about it, and he was like, no, sorry. then she joked and was like, can i have yours? and you know what he did? he totally gave her the shirt off his back. (hey germaphobes: he was wearing another t-shirt under it) ppl do that for holly. but the thing is, she’d totally do that for someone, too. (this is one of the many reasons i married her.) he was exceptionally cute, and this created quite a stir. fun.

we got home and watched “vicki cristina barcelona,” which came highly recommended from my favorite food blogger. i must say: i liked it. and don’t ask me how in the hell it happened, but holly fell asleep. and before the very best part! i’m gonna youtube it right here for ya, baby. i’ll slap it on in here for you, too, whoever you are. b/c honestly? sometimes the only way to make a monday better is to watch penelope cruz and scarlett johansson make out in a darkroom. ttys 😉

i can’t take this wildlife anymore

srsly. aren’t ppl living in cities, like, not supposed to come in contact with animals? as in: we go out to the country to look at animals from far away and giggle and gasp about how cute and fluffy they are? right? right? THEN WHY THE HELL DO I HAVE TO DEAL WITH SO MANY FRIGGIN ANIMALS IN THIS CITY???!!!

what’s w/the wildlife, huh, baltimore?? what the hell‘s with the wildlife? there are CATS sh*tting on our ROOF, ppl! our roof!! tell me how this is even possible? (i know. they’re climbers. but humor me here.) they use our backyard as a friggin litterbox. they. are in. our. WALLS! our walls!

the rats burrow under our gates. they even gnawed thr way thru the concrete as it was drying when we put in our patio. the mice, oh you know about the mice. oh and there’s dogs running loose, too. german shepards and pit bulls (that could easily–and very gladly, i’m sure–tear me apart). i’m telling you WHAT. i used to really like animals before i moved to baltimore. but now i’m srsly rethinking  this, as the animals in this town are determined to ruin my life.

around 7/8 or 9pm most nights we hear some thumps and then some eery scratching in the ceiling, sometimes the walls. the first time this happened i was *alone*. holly was in class and i’m telling you i thought i was going to die. or lose my mind. or run out into the street (which would only have me running back in the house for a myriad of reasons). sometimes it gets so loud i think whatever it is is going to appear splat in the middle of the bamboo floor and start hissing at me. like, pop out from behind the fridge and gouge my eyeballs out. if you heard it i swear you’d feel the same way.

at first we thought that maybe it was a giant (gulp) rat. (oh G-d no. pls.) then i thought maybe it was a raccoon (we had a family of those suckers “move in” above our porch in nj when i was growing up) but we really don’t have those here. (the rats probably eat them. you think i’m joking? yeah, i’m totally not.) we don’t have squirrels in our hood, either. (again, the rats prob. scared them away. nothing fluffy and cute allowed in east baltimore.) we’ve decided it’s probably a cat. or cats. b/c i swear, just when i think i’ve seem *all* of them, i find a new one perched on our fence, skulking in our alley (tho i try to spend as little time as possible there since i was propositioned by a daytime (female) hooker who was smoking something in a metal pipe and asked me if i had a husband and what my name was. pls, i know, i know) or peering at me just under the roman shades covering our back french doors (and scaring the s**t outta me in the process).

i have alotta cat lover friends, so i’m going to try not to get too mean in describing my frustration w/these friggin felines. but i will say that i’m going to call animal control stat. if  you know me and you’re reading this and want to adopt one, well c’mon on over! i’m sure if you hang around long enough (and are fast enough. those suckers can ruuun) you can grab one and take it on home. good luck w/that, tho. good friggin luck.

we’ve had some rough nights since we moved to baltimore

some worse than others. for example, our second night in our newly renovated (once-boarded-up-honest-to-goodness-crackhouse) house, a car, um, blew up a couple hundred feet away. i’m not talking, like, a little car fire or anything. i’m talkin a full-on CSI/90210-oh-my-GOSH-dylan’s-FATHER-was-in-that-car!!!  fireball with a sonic boom that literally made us think our heater blew up in the basement.

i stick my head out one of our two street-facing bedroom windows, suddenly feeling very, oh, let’s just say…trashy (i was rockin my “nighttime” hairdo, i.e. a rat’s nest; all i needed was a cigarette hanging off my lips, hairnet and moomoo) and i’m like, “not out here!” holly runs to the back of our house and suddenly yells “OHMYGOSHCALLTHEFIREDEPARTMENT!” yeah. about 200 feet off our deck is said fireball. more firetrucks than i have ever seen at once come screaming in, as do the cops. there’s so much fire extinguisher liquid chemical stuff being sprayed on this thing that it’s running down the street like a mini stream (straight into the chesapeake bay c/o of our storm drains! nice!). soon, the emergency crews are peering into the charred car with flashlights looking for a body (they didn’t find one. thank GOODNESS). i’m like, what the EFF. is this, like, an everyday occurance?  our neighbors shrugged about it. um yeah. 

i hadn’t even had a chance to shake that off (i tend to need time to “shake things off”) when, a few nights later, we’re in bed and we hear…a drill. we’re like omG someone’s trying to drill off the locks and break into our house! so i whisper to holly, scared outta my gourd, should we press the police button? (we have a really serious security system) and she’s like, yeah, in a whisper. so i jump outta bed in my peejays and hit the button. our siren goes off, brink’s security calls, SENDTHEPOLICE i tell them! soon there are two big police guys downstairs and they’re like nope. nothing. they were really nice about it. to this day, holly and i are sure we heard a drill that night. since we were still in the renovation stage, we had a *lot* of drills around the house. but we still can’t figure out how a drill went off w/out one of us pressing the button or w/out it falling off a counter or something. [if i believed in ghosts i’d be like, it was a ghost of hookers past (apparently a “lady of the night” once lived in our house) or something. but no. i’m not even going to go there.]

then there was The Night of a Thousand Mice. which is a whole nother thing. and oh YEAH, also that night we almost got poisoned by carbon monoxide! [illegal occupants of the vacant house next door didn’t have heat or electricity so they were staying warm, cooking and you know, running a *tv* w/propane tanks, which pumped their house full of carbon monxide, which quickly seeped thru the brick walls into our house and if it weren’t for our carbon monoxide dectector (get one if you don’t have one. srsly.) we’d all be dead. ] 

jump ahead a year+ to last night. last night was a doozie. around 3am we hear what sounds like moaning or crying. maybe a woman? we call the cops. (there’s no telling if they actually showed or not. sometimes we call and they’re no-shows. and i say again: nice!) we hear it again. then some banging on the walls? it stops. shortly thereafter we hear something fall downstairs. we looked at each other like: ohmygosh.

i grab holly’s police stick (hey, she was in the military and we have a police stick next to the bed.) and she’s putting on sneakers and looks at me, “well? are you coming or am i going by myself?” (yes, i was scared and stalling.) we creep downstairs, not knowing what the hell we’re gonna find and….


and it was an ikea plastic shopping bag holder. you know, the kind w/all the holes in it that you stick on the wall. yeah. it fell off the wall. geeeeeeeeeeeeez. we breathe out. go back upstairs and watch bbc america’s “you are what you eat” for like two hours (if you’ve ever seen that show, you know it’s really hard to stop watching. like rubbernecking on the highway. exactly.) the comic relief of the night was that when we got back upstairs, holly starts laughing when she sees herself in the mirror. she threw on a polo shirt over her pjs before we went downstairs and apparently, the collar was popped. (accidentally. we have a firm no-collar-popping rule in our household.) hahah. well, if there was someone downstairs and the police stick didn’t scare em away, the popped collar def. would have done it, she said. hahaha.

ahh, baltimore. now i see where my neighbors were coming from back when that car exploded. gotta just shrug it off. gotta laugh or you’ll just cry yr friggin eyes out.  (or just sit in the corner and rock yourself back n forth. that’s always an option, too.)

you’re lucky if the mice don’t mug you around here (i.e. welcome back to baltimore!)


there’s certain things you hear in baltimore that you just don’t hear too much of in butler, PA (pee-ay) (that’s where we were for a week for xmas, just back monday night. i came down with the cold to end all colds while i was there. i’ll fill you in later). for starters, helicopters.

baltimore is a helicopter city. if it’s not the po-lice, then it’s the friggin news-copters. b/c there’s just always somethin’ going on. police chases, suspects on the run, something burning down. [a church burned down on our street last year. i was home sick that day and all the sudden it looked like a dust storm rollin by outside. i poked my head out the door, and turns out it was smoke. i was like, holy crap the church is on fire. and sho’ nuff, there’s the news helicopters. hopefully they didn’t zoom down on me in my pjs and sneeks. (hey at least i wasn’t wearing a terrycloth bathrobe and slippers) everyone came out to watch the fire. (nothing like a neighborhood fire to see who lives on your street!) i was like, don’t any of you ppl work?? then, as i glanced around, i realized i didn’t feel too bad in my pjs and sneeks, b/c i looked about the same (better, even!) as everyone else. ahh, baltimore.)

i have srsly digressed here. what i meant to tell you is that even tho we came home to two dead mice (haha, i’m laughing b/c i just remembered that nursery rhyme, “three blind mice/see how they run.” hell, in this town you’re lucky if the mice don’t mug you. i couldn’t give a rat’s ass if they’re blind or not. [we found a rat’s ass in the backyard over the summer. ‘nother story for ‘nother day. (props to becky to throwing it out. thanks, becky!)] and the usual debauchery of our ‘hood (namely, drug dealers and hookers), i kinda missed it! i heard the familiar whapwhapwhapwhap of helicopters overhead and i…i kinda got the warm n fuzzies!

i’ll never forget when nicolina came to visit our place for the first time over the summer. we were on our roof (deck) and here come the ‘copters! it wasn’t nighttime, so there were no searchlights. (searchlights get esp. exciting when they actually make their way into your home. can you say duck & cover??) but she was like, omg! this is just like THE WIRE! i can’t wait to tell my mom!!  i was like, wait til the sun goes down, baby. then the real fun starts.

so back monday night to the noise and the dirt [and yes, two dead mice; hey, don’t judge. you try sharing your rowhome walls with a overpopulated rental on one side and a shut-in old man with newspapers and books to his ceilings (we’ve never seen this; an exterminator told us) on the other], the alley cats (we have a lot of them; don’t even get me started) and low-ridin caddys w/tinted windows, which our fair city has no shortage of  (never honk at them, holly sternly warns me; don’t worry, baby, i won’t. maybe if i had a death wish, but i don’t so, haha,  i def. won’t). we passed the famous baltimore smokestack (above; photo taken on a clear day earlier this month. not bad for a cell pic!)–which sits just off I-95, and as much as i (and everyone else) love it, hell if i know what company it’s associated with or what sort of  product it’s involved in manufacturing–before our exit, and, tho i was highly nauseated by my aforementioned cold (which i still have, and for the record, is one of the very worst i’ve ever had) and our 5 hr ride, i was like ahhhh, we’re back. never ever thought i’d think something like that about baltimore.

i swear, i used to hate it here. i hated moving to baltimore from dc. it’s funny how things change, you know? it’s not like i love it here, but i definitely don’t shiver every time i hear someone say “baltimore” like i used to. haha. see that?  never say never.

it’s new year’s eve tonight. nicole (i.e. nicolina) and i have assured one another that 2009 is going to be the best yet. i’m kind of thinking that, too. so whatever all of you are doing tonight, stay safe, have fun and if  a low-ridin cadillac (usually with superloud bass seeping out) with tinted windows is driving ahead of you and the driver doesn’t put on his/her blinker and turns suddenly, for crying out loud, don’t honk at it. even if you’re not in baltimore. ok?? haha. ok.

happy ’09!! here’s to your resolutions if you’ve got any! here’s to never saying never!