The bathroom door isn’t allowed to be closed in our home. Not because there’s anything wrong with the door that prevents it from closing. Not because either of us harbor some kind of potty fetish. No, the bathroom door actually gets shut every time one of us goes in there…but then Junior comes along and kicks it open.
Why? Because he doesn’t want it closed. Plain and simple.
At first we thought it was a separation thing. Like, “aww, Junie missed me so he came running into the bathroom to see me”. Except, he usually doesn’t. He’ll just come up the stairs, cuff the bathroom door until it swings open, and then walk away. He’ll do it to guests with an equal measure of nonchalance. He gives no fucks who’s IN there. He just doesn’t want that door closed.
The bedroom door gets much the same treatment. If I go to bed earlier than Mark does, I’ll often shut the bedroom door like 90% so that I can’t see the light from the TV reflecting out in the hallway (it’s a small apartment and I’m a special snowflake when it comes to sleeping conditions). I always try to get Junior to come in and get on the bed while I’m changing into my pajamas or whatever, but he’ll often just mill around in the hallway or the spare bedroom looking offended. After a few minutes I give up, shutting the curtain and turning on the white noise machine, then crawling into bed. Just about the time my head hits the pillow, BAM. Junior cuffs the door and it swings open wide. He stands there in the doorway, a tiny white tyrant bathed in the somewhat eerie glow of the orange bulb in our bedside lamp, triumphant and unyielding. I can almost hear him declaring, Gandalf-like, “YOU. SHALL. NOT. CLOSE”. Then I have to get back out of bed, go over to the door and try to find a balance between closing it enough that the light doesn’t bother me, but having it open enough to avoid further insult to His Royal Highness. While I’m doing this, by the way, that little fucker will sashay in, jump up on the bed and nest down in the covers I’ve thrown off while getting up. This in turn causes at least one round of tense blanket negotiations, several canine sighs that drip with disappointment, and the eventual Great Resettling, before I can shut the light off.
Closing the doors all the way (as in, until they latch) doesn’t do any good either, because when Junior can’t cuff a door open, he gets upset. “Let him fuss, he’ll eventually self-soothe and calm down”, you say, rolling your eyes. Oh no, dear reader. This dog does not self-soothe and calm down. THIS dog will whine, and when whining doesn’t work, he’ll bark. When barking at the problem door doesn’t work, he’ll go downstairs and start barking by the living room windows or the kitchen door, both of which are adjacent to close neighbors. He knows we’ll do just about anything to shut him up from barking where it’s going to bother the neighbors, so that’s his trump card, and he’s not afraid to play it.
My desk at work is an L shape, except the corner of the L is chopped off. The only reason I can think of for the builder to have chopped off the corner of the L is that it would have partially blocked the window behind it, but the whole far leg of the L blocks the next window in exactly the same manner, so why the fuck would it even MATTER, you know?
This isn’t even relevant to what I wanted to talk about, by the way. It’s just something I was thinking about when I took the picture I’m going to show you shortly, and also I didn’t sleep well last night so filtering my thoughts is right out the (partially blocked) window at this point. Har har har.
This is my workspace:
Off to the extreme left of the picture, obscured by glare because I’m not a professional photographer and I was stealthily taking this picture while my boss was in the bathroom so I didn’t have time to re-position for 14 different shots, is a long, thin grey box called a network switch:
The switch has been sitting there shunting electrons hither and thither around the office for at least the five years that I’ve been sitting at this desk. Probably longer. It’s always a fucking production when the IT guy comes in to replace or fix things, so I’m pretty sure the advent of the switch being changed out would have stuck in my mind.
Which brings me back around to my actual story.
The switch in the picture is a new one because the old one started to sound like a helicopter touching down. The degradation wasn’t a sudden thing by any means. The switch had been exhibiting a normal-ish electronic hum for many months…years, even. It would ramp up to more of a refrigerator-like hum when the weather got very warm, but it wasn’t really distracting. And that’s saying something, considering I am the QUEEN of getting distracted by noises. I can’t NOT hear every noise going on around me, especially at work…but the hum of the switch even on its loudest days was just kind of a wall of white noise off to my left and it didn’t bother me.
Fast forward to last week. We had a couple of warm days in a row, and on the third morning we came in to find that the hum of the switch had escalated to near air-conditioner levels. This thing is like four feet from me when I’m sitting at my desk and I started to get a little bit worried about it exploding or something. I don’t think they actually DO that, but still. Never hurts to fret, right? My boss walked in later that morning and asked where the noise was coming from. We pointed at the switch. He said he’d ask IT to change it out. We muttered about not holding our breaths and got back to work.
A week later, the IT guy showed up at my desk with a new switch and commenced with his usual over-dramatic explanation of what needed to be done, how much work it would be for him, how long we’d all be offline, and the general piss-poor state of all the electronics in the building (side-note: why do IT guys do this? It’s effectively saying ‘I’m shit at my job’). I nodded and smiled, then fucked off downstairs to get a cup of coffee, leaving him to unplug cables from one box and plug them all into another.
Ten minutes later, I returned to my desk…and to a gaping maw of silence. The new switch made no sound at all. Not even the barest hum! It was CREEPY. I commented to my office-mate that the silence was making me feel off-balance, like something that I’d been leaning against on the left was now gone. He looked at me like I had two heads (which is his usual response when I open my mouth).
“Do you want me to turn my music up louder to compensate?” he asked.
And, to be fair, I WILL get used to it…but in the meantime, it’s totally weirding me out. I didn’t realize just how much I relied on that background noise until it was gone. Even when I’ve got my headphones in, I SWEAR can notice the lack of white noise off to the left. And on a day like today, when office-mate and his terrible music aren’t around, the quiet is like a black hole threatening to suck me in, break me down to atoms of the elements that make up my body, and spit me out the other side into an alternate universe where the Big Bang hasn’t happened yet and I might end up being part of a rock in several billion years. Or something.
Also, not having the white noise means I can now hear every fart, groan and trickle from the adjacent bathroom.
Nobody wins when you can hear the boss’s Metformin poops, trust me.
We live in what I think of as the rural equivalent of an apartment complex. Instead of one big building with lots of units stacked on top of each other, there are several smaller buildings with two units each, plus one single unit in a stand-alone house with a garage (which, those people are clearly just showing off). The way our building is set up, there’s an apartment in each end and a maybe ten foot wide covered entryway in between that we share.
Over the two years we’ve been here, we’ve seen a few neighbors come and go in the unit we share the entryway with. There was the suspected tweaker, there was my boss from my high school job at the local general store (that was…awkward. Especially during his poker nights when a giant cloud of weed smoke would come rolling out his front door every time it was opened. Not that I have the slightest problem with people smoking weed…it just seems odd when it’s someone who was an authority figure in your young adult life, you know? It’s kind of like if you happened upon your high school principle or soccer coach packing a fat bowl. Part of your brain is like ‘coooool’ while the other part is like ‘wait, WHAT?’), and there was the last guy who just moved out at the end of February. We’ll call him D.
D was basically the perfect neighbor (at least, for us): he was a trucker so he was often gone for a week or more at a time. He was also quite hard of hearing, so even when he WAS home, he wasn’t bothered by our yappy dog, my husband’s propensity to sing along to music while he walks said yappy dog, or my propensity to talk to the neighborhood wildlife. He happened to also be a very nice guy, what little we knew of him, so we were sad to see him go.
The new neighbors moved in last weekend. Aside from a mysterious pile of cat vomit that materialized next to our welcome mat (which I strategically ignored until it disappeared about 24 hours later.WIN!) the day they moved in, and the fact that the female inhabitant smokes in our shared entryway, they’ve given me nothing to complain about.
Except…and I know how batshit crazy this is going to sound, but that’s never stopped me before…
…they leave their outside light on. Like, ALL the time. 24 hours a day.
I didn’t think much of it at first because they were in the process of moving and that’s stressful, you know? Half your shit is at one place, half is somewhere else, everything’s in boxes and all you want is to cook a grilled cheese but you have no cheese and you can’t find the right pan and the cat hates the new apartment so he’s spite-vomiting in inopportune places. I totally get it.
After three days, though…it seems like you should have probably bought some cheese. You should have probably put the pans away and found a place for all your shoes and gotten the cable hooked up and hung the curtains. You should probably be better acquainted with the location of light switches. You can probably remember to shut the outside light off, if not when you go to bed at night, then certainly when you get up in the morning and the sun is shining.
And yes, I know, I’m an asshole because I’m not considering that maybe one of them works odd hours or maybe they came from a place where shit would get stolen or vandalized if people thought you weren’t home or any number of other reasons why they might choose to leave the light on. Also, yes, it’s their electric bill not mine, so what the hell should I care whether they leave the light on or not.
You’re not wrong. Just for the record. I’m not saying you are.
But it still fucking bothers me. It makes my god damned teeth itch.
Until the mice got into it.
Our old apartment was a frigging mouse superhighway, and the hall closet was their on/off ramp. Over the course of the several years we lived there, I tried everything from snap-traps, to those sonic deterrent things, to attempting to train the dog to catch them (no dice. He made it clear very early on that Maltese are not a working breed. Unless you count barking at everything that moves as work. He’s got that shit on lock), to stuffing any holes I could find with steel wool (surprisingly effective, but only if you can locate every single hole ever. Otherwise those sneaky little fuckers will always find another way in). The only thing I didn’t try was poison, because while I apparently don’t have a problem with a spring-loaded metal bar snapping a mouse’s neck once they’ve been lured in by the smell of a delicious snack, I can’t stand the thought of them eating poison and then getting a bit of a poorly tum before dying.
So those little bastard mice got into my garland box, chewed all the wires, built a nest, and had a shit-and-piss-athon the likes of which I have never seen before (and hope to never see again). Needless to say, that garland ended up in the dumpster when we packed up to move to our current, blessedly mouse-free abode. Last year I meant to buy a replacement garland but I got distracted with…who fucking knows, probably BREATHING, knowing me…and never got around to it.
This year when I pulled out the holiday decorations I remembered the garland again, and I wrote it down on a LIST. If something makes it onto a list, I have about a 40% higher chance of actually remembering it. That still only bumps the total chance up to about 47%, but still. So it was on the list and when we went to Walmart on Monday night (which is another story in and of itself, oh my fucking word), we found a replacement garland. Happy happy, joy joy! I set it off to the side in the living room when we got home, intending to hang it up the next day. Which didn’t happen of course, because “hang up garland” wasn’t written on a list anywhere and I fucking forgot. WELCOME TO MY WORLD.
Wednesday afternoon I finally remembered I had bought the garland and decided to hang it up. The plan was to string it around the opening between our living room and kitchen. I call it an opening rather than a doorway because a) there are no doors and b) if there WERE doors, it would take like 3 doors to fill the opening. Tangent: is there an actual word for that? When there’s a hole in the wall that is clearly a transition from one room to the next but isn’t a doorway? It’s not a hallway or a passage because it’s not, like, its own space…it’s just a much-wider-than-a-door-shaped hole in the wall. Jesus, I’m making it sound like it has sheetrock and wires hanging out of it and shit, which it totally doesn’t. It’s finished and painted and whatever.
Sorry, back to the story.
Unfortunately, it would also be completely wrong.
The garland definitely did have lights incorporated. I’ll give it that. And it WAS green. And the lights WERE clear. But, as I unwound the garland from the cardboard it came wrapped around, something was amiss. Instead of 18 continuous feet of garland, what I ended up with was about three feet of cord with a plug at the end (reasonable), maaaaybe six feet of lighted garland, four more feet of bare green cord with a plug and socket (like the normal two-sided kind that comes on twinkle lights) in the middle, then another maaaaybe six feet of lighted garland, and three more feet of cord with another plug (which is the only other reasonable part of the whole bloody thing).
So I thought I was buying an 18 foot garland but REALLY what I got was two six foot garlands strung together with a GIANT FRIGGING BLANK SPOT IN THE MIDDLE. If the blank spot had been at either end, I could have just ucked the extra bare cord in behind something and been ok with it…but in the MIDDLE? Come the fuck on. I ended up kind of half-assed doubling the garland over on itself so that it would stretch across the top of the opening (seriously, tell me if there’s a real word for that, it’s really bothering me) and hang down a little on each side while disguising the NEAR ENTIRE THIRD of it that’s just bare green cord.
The morale of this story, I think we can all agree, is to not buy garland at Walmart.
Or, if you’re going to buy garland at Walmart, open the box and check that it is what it says it is.
Or, just eschew garland of any kind.
And don’t let stupid incontinent mice get into your stuff because they’ll ruin everything. EVERYTHING.
AND…there should be a word for a doorway that contains no doors. The doorway, I mean. Not the word. The word can have door in it, but I don’t really see how that could work unless it was like…non-doorway…and that’s really not any better of a word for what I’m trying to explain.
Ok, I gave myself a headache. I gotta go.
…you know, that thing that blew up in everyone’s faces just about a week ago? So, I’m not going to.
Instead, let me tell you about this terrible cloud of stench that’s following me around today! Don’t worry, it’s not a fart story (yet. I’m pretty good at devolving any story into a fart story if given enough time, so I make no promises about where this will end up).
I’m very sensitive to smells. Side note: my husband might argue that if I was truly sensitive to smells, I’d make more of an effort to clean out whatever is currently making our fridge stink like a kimchi experiment gone wrong, but that’s a smell I can get away from simply by shutting the refrigerator door and thus I’m not particularly motivated to fix the situation. Don’t like the smell? Just shut the door! I’m a problem solver.
Smells that I can’t get away from are an issue for me. Strong smells will often give me a headache, bring on the asthmatic Throat Tickle Of Doom, and wreck whatever small semblance of concentration I may have tenuously pieced together. As such, I don’t wear perfume or heavily scented personal hygiene products, I buy either unscented or only very lightly scented laundry soap, I tend to clean with white vinegar because it’s way less smelly (to me, anyway) than chemical cleaners, I’m anti car-air-freshener…you get the picture.
When I suddenly can’t find my preferred brand of a normally scent-containing thing and am forced to buy something different on the fly, a whole ridiculous process ensues. I’ll spend at least ten minutes sniff-checking every scent variety of the thing I need. I’ll talk to myself in the middle of the store aisle, muttering about how Option A smells like mothballs and cat pee but Option B smells like vanilla extract and death. I’ll make up my mind, then see another interesting option, sniff THAT, and end up changing my mind 17 times. All this while having random coughing fits because of the aforementioned asthmatic Throat Tickle Of Doom. I usually end up getting so pissed off about the whole thing that I end up just chucking SOMETHING in my cart in the interest of not having to live out the rest of my days twitching and coughing in the health and beauty aisle.
Which is exactly what happened when I was grocery shopping on Saturday and, to my horror, couldn’t find my preferred brand of deodorant. Ten minutes into my Sniff All The Things routine I was finally so fed up with my inability to JUST FUCKING PICK ONE AND MOVE ON that I ended up tossing the one I currently had in my hand into the cart and stomping off.
Without sniff-testing it.
I didn’t shower on Sunday, so the horror of what I had done didn’t become clear until this morning when I was getting ready for work. I popped the cap off the new stuff, turned the dial to raise the product, and got my first whiff of it. It was a fairly inoffensive fruity smell – I think it was trying to be pomegranate or something? I don’t know. I was running late as usual so I just rubbed it on my pits and then went to get dressed. As I was getting dressed I got another good whiff of it and thought to myself, “ugh, that’s kind of strong”, but short of getting undressed and scrubbing my armpits, there really wasn’t anything I could do about it at that point.
On the way to work I was trapped in the car with the smell and had plenty of time to think about the mistake I had made. What initially seemed like an inoffensive fruity smell is now akin to Hawaiian Punch with undertones of mothballs and formaldehyde. It smells like the “family heirloom” afghan your great aunt Edna had in storage for 20 years and then freshened up with a dousing of her favorite Febreeze formulation, Tropic Nightmare, before gifting it to you. It’s like someone steeped pine cones and cedar shavings in one of those buckets of “just add booze” strawberry margarita mix that contains no ACTUAL fruit, only a slurry of high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, preservatives, red dye #4 and “strawberry flavor”, then boiled it down to crystalline form and SET IT ON FIRE.
Every time I lift up my arms the smell assaults me. The good news is, I work at a desk and I type 90% of the day, so I’m not lifting my arms up that much, right? Right!
Except that this afternoon is yoga class. Not only will my arms be up a good 60% of the time I’m in class, but I’ll also be hot and sweaty which will, I presume, make the scent even stronger.
This is how I die, people: shakily trying to hold Warrior II pose while my super helpful yoga teacher keeps reminding me to breathe and my oxygen supply slowly gets cut off from the stench of my own deodorant.
It was nice knowing you all.
This afternoon I had a customer, we’ll call him Jim, who insisted that I needed to fax an invoice to him rather than email it. Like, he didn’t just ask that I sent it that way. He made it very clearly that it was the only option I had to get him the invoice. Since getting the invoice paid was, you know, the reason I called in the first place, I felt compelled to comply.
I scan a lot and I print a little, but I haven’t had to send a fax in a good eight years or so. We have one of those all-in-one copier/scanner/printer/fax things that has never really worked entirely right. It’s always emitting these strange patterns of chirps, and it likes to eat every third piece of paper I put in the feed tray. Also, we have a weird VoiP phone system where you have to dial certain numbers to get an outside line from certain phones.
Which is really all just stuff I’m telling you to distract you from the fact that I forgot how to send a fax.
I mean, I knew there was a part where you put the paper in, and then you dialed the number and the magic Internet gnomes got to work drawing a tiiiiiiiiiny (omg, so tiny) replica of your document which they then projected across the skies with their special Internet gnome flashlights in a specific pattern that only the gnomes who lived in the machine of the person you were sending the document to could decode…or whatever. But I forgot all the bullshit about having to dial 9 first, and then whether or not I needed to dial an extra 1 before the phone number, and what phase of the moon we needed to be in for this to even work and OMG it was all just such a process.
So, I re-learned how to send a fax, and that was…I wouldn’t really call it FUN, but it killed some time and therefore had value of a sort to it. I punched the right numbers in and I signed my cover sheet with a little smiley face because YAY, COMMERCE! I loaded the pages into the feeder tray and hit “send”. The machine made a satisfying amount of screechy dial-up racket and then sucked my pages through the scanner part. Assuming my part in this information transfer drama was now over with, I walked away.
But lo, all was not right in the land of the Internet gnomes, it seemed.
Several minutes after I walked away from it, the machine emitted a series of kind of mocking beeps and printed something all of its own accord. Suspicious, I approached the machine once again and looked at the print-out. It read…
…’fax not sent’.
“Awww, COME ON! I have to do that whole stupid thing AGAIN? I already shredded the originals! Goddamnit. This is why nobody faxes anymore JIM”, I grumbled.
I went back to my desk, printed out another invoice and another cover sheet. I didn’t sign the cover sheet with a smiley face the second time, because commerce is great and whatever but seriously, fuck Jim and his insistence on using outdated modes of information technology. The whole process of dialing the extra numbers and then the real number and then praying to the Internet gnomes, the whole nine yards…I re-did it all.
And once again, the bloody shitting fax didn’t go through.
I stomped back over to my desk and called Jim to ask what the deal was. Jim proceeded to tell me to…
…wait for it…
…oooh, not quite there yet, but almost…
…he told me to just email him the invoice.
It’s seriously really good that through-the-phone ear-stabbing technology doesn’t exist because I am telling you, Jim would have been bloodied in that moment. Jim would have suffered. And I would have laughed.
On the up-side, I did re-learn how to fax, though. It probably won’t be relevant to my job again for another eight frigging years, but hey…the more you know.
My husband is super into sports. Not just “dudes keeping a ball away from other dudes” sports, but like…pretty much any sports. He’s not that big of a basketball fan and I’ve never seen him purposefully skim through the channels to find, like, gymnastics or figure skating competitions…but just about anything else, he’ll watch for at least a few minutes if he finds it on TV. Even golf. That right there should tell you something about his level of commitment to watching sports.
When he first moved in with me, he had this thing about how he didn’t want to record games (matches? Sporting…events? Whatever…) on the DVR and watch them later. He only wanted to watch them live. If he couldn’t watch a game live from the start, he would just skip the whole thing because…well, I’m not really sure why. But he had his reasons. Man reasons.
Anyway, after several months of disagreements about what we were going to watch on our one TV, and instances of him missing a game he wanted to watch because we had to be somewhere else, he finally started to warm to the idea of recording sports on the DVR. Nowadays, there are things he still prefers to watch live, but for the most part if real life interferes with sports-ball TV time, he’ll just record the event and watch it later. The one side-effect of this, however, is that when he’s waiting to watch a game he’s recorded, he will be SUPER ULTRA OBSESSIVELY careful about trying to avoid seeing the score of the game he’s currently not watching. He’ll stay off social media, he’ll avoid news websites that he knows might be running a ticker of the scores, etc. It’s serious business.
So, last night the New England Patriots were playing. Normally Patriots games are firmly at the top of Mark’s “must watch live” list, but last night’s was only a preseason game (I can totally hear him scoffing at the word ‘only’ in my head right now, by the way), so it was acceptable that it be recorded and caught up on a little later. We finished dinner, we went into the living room, he turned on the TV…and there was the Patriots game, because the DVR had been set to record it so the TV had been auto-tuned to that channel. Mark squawked and threw a hand up to shield his eyes, not wanting to see the score. He had the remote and was trying to change the channel but couldn’t make the remote work…possibly because he had his hand over his eyes. He started pleading with the TV as he struggled with the remote.
“No, no, no, don’t tell me the score, don’t tell me the scooooore, noooo!”
To which I, exceedingly helpful wife that I am, cheerfully replied…
“Oh don’t worry, there’s no score yet. It looks like there’s only five minutes left in the quarter.”
There was a beat of stunned silence, then we embarked on a detailed refresher course of Mark’s feelings with regard to having sports scores spoiled for him.
But…IN MY DEFENSE…my reasoning was that there was literally no score, so I wasn’t really ruining anything. Right? I mean, there are things you can GUESS might have happened in a game that has a 0-0 score with five minutes left in the first quarter, ie:
- one or both of the teams are having a bad night on offense (PLAUSIBLE)
- one or both of the teams are having a GOOD night on defense (ALSO PLAUSIBLE)
- somebody might have gotten really CLOSE to scoring but then it didn’t happen (+3 PANTS OF PLAUSIBILITY)
- maybe nobody had gotten close to scoring at all because…I don’t fucking know…pterodactyls stormed the field (MAYBE NOT PLAUSIBLE, but entertaining to consider)
By their very nature, zeros have no value. Logic* therefore dictates that my revealing that the score was zero all revealed ACTUAL NOTHING. I don’t see how that’s problematic in any way. IN FACT, quite the opposite, I feel like I did him a FAVOR by increasing his anticipation for watching the game. If I hadn’t said that there was no score, he wouldn’t have been NEARLY as interested in eventually watching the first quarter of the game to see just what shenanigans had led up to said fest of equal nothingness.
*Disclaimer: I use the term ‘logic’ in the loosest sense here. Not that anyone reading this really needed to be reminded of that, I suppose…but still. Better safe than embroiled in Internet debates with people way better at logic-ing than I am (see also: everyone, ever).
What I DON’T like is not having any control over what I’m listening to for eight hours a day. After a while it becomes like an audio version of waterboarding. I am literally incapable of tuning noises, especially voices, out a lot of the time. Fighting with my brain to focus and get things done when I’m constantly distracted by background noise (especially ones that annoy me) quickly becomes exhausting.
So this afternoon when I happened to have removed my headphones briefly, I heard office-mate’s 14 year old daughter, (who is coming to work with him all this week (which is an entirely different rant that I’d like to write but I won’t)), pipe up with the following: