i've moved

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I've been working late hours at my job, and often I'm the last person in my section when our night time cleaning lady comes around.  She's very sweet and friendly and sometimes when I'm not at my desk she arranges my loose change and collection of shoes in pleasing patterns. I feel we've developed an unspoken kinship.

The other night I passed her on my way out the door and I noticed that the garbage can she wheels around is plastered with cutouts of children's faces from magazines. And like honestly, what the fuck? Is this just a miscalculated bit of whimsy to offset the drudgery of her profession? Do they remind her of her estranged grandkids? Or have garbage cans gotten edgier?

My big fear is that if I work late enough, the magazine cutout children will come alive and murder me while Inga watches and claps. I'm writing this post so that in case I go missing, one of you will know to check the garbage can. If you see my terrified magazine cutout face looking back at you, please avenge me.

I'm too lazy to write a post with a cogent narrative, so I'm just going to present a bullet-pointed list of my random thoughts.

  • I quit my job and have a week off before starting a new gig.  So far I've spent it lying on the couch in my high school gym pants eating cold pasta and playing iPhone Scrabble.  Today my brother came over and we watched 5 really rapey episodes of Law & Order: SVU and then he helped me return a keg to the liquor store. White trash sibling bonding rituals!
  • I found a fun trivia night at Bell House, a bar near my apartment.  Last night the prize for the first place team was two tickets to the new Penn & Teller Off-Broadway show, and my friends and I set out to win them with a yearning, panicked intensity.  We came in third, partially because I insisted the answer to "What controversial but legal act did Penn & Teller perform at the White House during an episode of the West Wing" was sodomy.  Turns out it was flag-burning.
  • Speaking of West Wing, I got the first season on Netflix, and my stars is Rob Lowe sexy.  I like it when he wears glasses, and then in a later scene he's not wearing glasses, and then later, more glasses. Rob Lowe. Glasses.
  • In a spate of pinot-induced loneliness, I reactivated a dormant online dating profile.  Within ten minutes I had a message that read, "Will be in New York next week. What are the good salsa clubs? xoxo, Maurice."  Not sure why he thought I was some kind of authority on this. I tried learning to salsa at my roommate's dad 60th birthday party last year, but after ten minutes her cousin banished me to the church basement's hallway because Puerto Ricans find me too embarrassing. Still, excited about my new boyfriend!!
  • Whenever I see "free-range eggs" on a menu, I picture little eggs merrily bouncing around in a field.  Same thing with grass-fed meatballs, only they're chomping on the grass with their tiny meatball mouths.  I told this to a friend last night and he said, "Sometimes I wish I could spend a day in your brain." But then he got a faraway look and he shivered a little and muttered, "But only one day..."
More later!


my new career

This weekend I went up to Boston to stay with friends, and Saturday they threw a big Halloween party at their apartment. It was a lovely time and I ingested many cups of magical punch that tastes nothing like vodka  and loads of this amazing cheesy buffalo chicken dip that's so addictive it like, alters your brain chemistry until all you can think about is getting more and more dip and soon you're standing over the empty bowl at 3am, trembling and begging your hosts for another fix while the last remaining party guests whisper sadly about how things have taken an ugly turn for you since college.

Anyway, I wasn't feeling so hot Sunday, and may have been a little slapdash in my packing.  So when I reached into my bag this morning, I discovered that I forgot to pack my makeup bag, but did manage to grab a giant plastic pipe that belonged to someone's Sherlock Holmes costume.  Good save.  I figure I'll just walk around chewing the pipe to distract people from the fact that I look really jank without makeup.  Everyone will be all, "She looks a little tired around the eyes, but dammit is she distinguished. Let's enlist her help in solving the Shrewsbury murders."  And then I'll be all, "the parson did it," and everyone will marvel at my preternatural detective skills.  Except for the parson, who's just been wrongfully accused of murder. 

I just instant messaged a friend who is currently living in Afghanistan.

Me: How was your birthday? Do anything fun?!
AV: I ran for shelter from what turned out to be a grenade blast.
Me: oh.

In Part I, I described the myriad charms of my colorful neighborhood. Today, in honor of Halloween, I will relay the chilling tale of my haunted apartment.

Late last year, my roommate Erika and I found an affordable two-bedroom on Craigslist.  We were enchanted by the large living room, hardwood floors and renovated kitchen, and agreed to move in right away.  As we blithely unpacked our belongings, we were completely unaware that a dark, slumbering creature stirred beneath us, disrupted by the sounds of clinking silverware and raucous laughter.  Intruders, the creature thought, his glassy red eyes narrowing into resentful slits.  They shall pay for their insouciance.

It was only a few moments later when we heard the pounding on the door.  I swung it open to find a large, fuming man standing in our hallway.  The flush of our toilet had somehow flooded the kitchen of our downstairs neighbors.  We stammered apologies, called the landlord, and enlisted the help of a plumber posthaste.  It seemed that it was only an isolated incident, and we chalked it up to a moving day hiccup.

We were wrong. Dead wrong.

At first the incidents were small.  A leaky radiator.  A faulty doorbell.  Soon we discovered that there were holes in the sides of our walls, holes so large you could waggle your fingers through them.  One day I opened my apartment door to find a fireman with an axe standing in the hallway, a flood of water pouring down the stairs and over his boots.  I stared for a moment, and then wordlessly shut the door.

The downstairs neighbors' apartment continued to flood, and they pounded on our door with increasing frequency. They accused us of unconscionable acts like taking showers and washing dishes. They surmised that we were in cahoots with the landlord.  At one point they shut off water for the entire building, forcing us to take baby wipe showers and brush our teeth with Diet Coke.

In a dark rage about the lack of water, I went downstairs to confront the neighbor.  I found him dejectedly slapping his soaked kitchen floor with an old tattered broom. Something about this forlorn sight softened me.  "What the hell is wrong with this building?" I asked him, hoping to set in motion the easy camaraderie of sharing an enemy.

He gazed at me for the moment, and then lifted his broom up to touch the tip against the ceiling. The entire ceiling moved up and down easily, as if it was merely a slab of tin.

"We haven't had a real ceiling for as long as I can remember.  Years ago a cat came in through a hole in the wall and somehow got stuck between the tin and your floor.  For days we could hear him yowling up there, and we couldn't get him out.  We told the landlord to come get him out, and he told us it would be easier if we just let it die."

"So what did you do?"

"Well we couldn't just let it die!  Imagine the smell. We had no choice but to do what we did."

He didn't even need to tell me the rest.  It was painfully obvious what had happened: he and his wife had performed a satanic incantation in order to send the cat, body-and-soul, into another dimension.  But their spell went awry, and instead of slinking off into some netherworld as expected, Ghost Cat remained trapped under our floorboards, vengefully plotting against the humans who had ruined him.  Thanks guys!

As the weeks went by, Ghost Cat acted out with increasing furor.   He sparked an electrical fire in the apartment above us, resulting in an electrical outage for the whole building.  Ghost Cat kicked the ladder out from under the girl above us, who had to be carried out of the apartment on a stretcher.  He unleashed a plague of brash, tiny mice upon our apartment, who followed us into our rooms and regarded us blandly as we tried to shoo them away.  It was a nightmare.

Through all of this, our intercom system remained broken.  For several weekends in a row, a nice Thai couple came by to try to fix it, but they were no match for supernatural forces.  Then, late one Tuesday night, I heard an urgent knock on my apartment door.  I opened it to find my landlord, Mr. Soloman, in my hallway. (He insists that we call him Mr. Soloman despite the fact that a) Soloman is his first name and b) he's at most 24 years old.)

"Dude, it's almost midnight. What's going on?"

"We need to come in and fix your doorbell."

Without further preamble, a tiny Orthodox Jewish man dressed in green coveralls slipped into our apartment and started banging on our intercom with a hammer.  Erika stumbled out of her bedroom, rubbing sleep from her eyes.

"What's going on?"

"They're fixing our doorbell that's been broken since we moved in."


The man kept hitting his hammer against the intercom, mumbling to himself all the while.  Mr Soloman stood nervously in the doorway and watched.

Suddenly, at the stroke of midnight, the intercom emitted a long, plaintive, otherworldly cry.  A gust of wind picked up outside, knocking branches against our kitchen window. The howl reached a crescendo, and then there was only silence.

The man in the coveralls gave us a grave nod, put down his hammer, and exited the apartment without another word.   Mr. Soloman smiled wanly, and then vanished also.

I turned to Erika, enveloped by giddy relief.

"I think we're ok now. I think its all going to be ok!"

"Is the doorbell fixed?"

I tried it.  "No."


Erika turned and walked back into her bedroom.

 As I stood there I felt like I was being watched.  I looked over  to see a cat standing on the fire escape, staring at me with wide, angry eyes.  There was another gust of wind, and he was gone forever.

...Or was he?

Happy Halloween my dears!

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