Sunday, March 30, 2008

Small Stars

I’m concerned because it’s been a while since I’ve seen the Tomato Man. I asked my mother and she swore she saw him a couple months ago, but admits it’s been a long time. I’ve asked around and no one knows where he might be. He’s disappeared before, a couple weeks here and there, but the only other time he’s been gone this long was when he and his girlfriend went to jail. I hope he’s not locked up again, or worse. There’s only so much a person can take, and the Tomato Man has taken a lot already.

My first afternoon back in Florida, when I just moved back from Atlanta, my mother took me to lunch and on the way back home she nearly gave me a heart attack when she slammed on the brakes, almost skipping the curb, screaming “I NEED TOMATOES!!!!”

She got so excited that she dropped her cigarette and burnt a hole in the thigh of her capris.
Good Lord, I thought. I’d certainly seen her have a nicotine fit before, but never a tomato fit, and no nicotine fit had ever inspired the sudden impulse to scream and halt traffic on A1A. These tomatoes must have been packed with eight balls of coke and heroin by the way she was acting.

“There’s Tomato Man!!” she said pointing, “See if you can’t get his attention.”

I rolled down my window and sure enough, there was a man furiously pedaling a rusty bicycle down the sidewalk. Rigged to the back of the bike was a wide, flat, homemade, wooden box stacked with a mountain of tomatoes that looked like it was a good speed bump away from a red, pulpy avalanche.

My mother honked the horn and the Tomato Man pulled his contraption over. We got out and my mother began sorting through the tomato mountain picking out the ones she wanted. When she finished the Tomato Man put them in a brown paper bag and charged her three dollars.

“You pretty ladies have a nice day!” he called as we sped away.

The tomatoes bled when we cut them. They were heavy globes of red with dusty skin that still smelled of heat and fields; the green summer scent of vines; asterisk-shaped yellow blossoms and lacy leaves. We had tomato sandwiches on buttered toast for dinner, but we could have eaten them plain.

“This is the best tomato I have ever had, I swear to God,” I said.

“See,” my mother said wiping mayonnaise from her chin.

We ate them again with eggs for breakfast. For lunch we made sandwiches with basil and prosciutto and pretty soon we were driving up and down A1A looking for the Tomato Man again.

“So, all he does is sell tomatoes from the back of a bike?” I asked.

“Mmm Hmm,” said my mom.

“He doesn’t have a schedule or anything?”

“No, you have to just be in the right place at the right time. He rides up and down the island, never goes over the bridge. Sometimes I don’t see him for weeks.”

My family has lived on a barrier island off the coast for the past 15 years. It’s nothing more than a long, narrow strip of land, barely a few blocks wide, including the beach, and is separated from the mainland by the Intracoastal canal. You can’t get on or off the island without crossing a drawbridge and if the bridge is out you’re pretty much screwed until it’s fixed again. I love the island though. Once you cross the drawbridge it’s like you’re transported back in time 50 years, to an old Florida that barely exists anymore. The Island is the Florida you remember visiting when you were little, with fishing piers, beachfront dives, motels with pastel neon signs, and stands where you can get fresh squeezed orange juice and coconut patties.

This Florida’s almost gone. A few years ago they tore down the diner that used to make homemade pickles and now when you’re going over the bridge you can see the construction cranes looming like skeletal, metallic dinosaurs. They’re building more high rise condos for millionaires, but with the building market going bust, a lot of them will sit vacant and wasted. They should have left the diner. This is why I’m so worried about the Tomato Man. He could be another casualty, one more uniquely beautiful personality paved over, crowded out by tacky post-modern architecture.

The Tomato Man has been an institution on The Island for years. He’s an old hippie, and it’s hard to tell how old he is, or was, because his skin is as weathered as un-oiled teak. He’s cracked and brown, with long, thinning blond hair. He’s perpetually sunburned and scabby and it’s best not to think about how dirty he might be. He only wears shorts and tie-dyed tee shirts.
I began to have tomato fits just like everyone else in my family. Every time I saw the Tomato Man pedaling down Beachfront Avenue, I’d have to pull over to get my fix. I’ve never had tomatoes like these. They were real – not those hard, tasteless, pink hybrids with the tough skin that some moron developed so that tomatoes could be shipped halfway across the world. Don’t they realize that tomatoes weren’t meant to be shipped halfway across the world? The Tomato Man did. He took a lot of pride in his product.

“I don’t sell if they aren’t good. I wait ‘til they’re ready,” he told me one day.

“Where do you get them?” I asked.

“I got a friend up by Okeechobee. He grows them up there. Don’t use no pesticides, no nothing. These tomatoes are all natural. And I’ll tell ya, if he brings me a load down here and I don’t think they’re red enough – I’ll line ‘em out in the sun ‘til they’re ripe, ‘cuz I won’t sell something that isn’t exactly how it ought to be. That’s how come I stick with tomatoes. Look how beautiful they are. Look how they hold the sun.” He stepped back to admire his wares.

“I’ll show you somethin’” he continued, picking up one of the tomatoes and turning it over.

“There’s a star on the bottom of each one. Look. It’s a little sun.”

I looked closely at the tomato’s underside, expecting to see nothing. I mean, it wasn’t a far stretch to assume that the Tomato Man had experienced his fair share of hallucinations and there was a lot more about him that was burnt besides his skin. But the tomato man was right. There’s a star on the bottom of every tomato; a tiny shining sun. Turn a tomato over and you will see a little rough spot like the tomato’s belly button with faint whispers of gold raying out into the red. Look closely, and you will see the star.

“You’re right!!” I exclaimed.

My sister told me that the Tomato Man sold weed too, but I don’t know if that’s true. Not that I would be surprised, if it were. She said he was well known amongst the students in her high school and that his pot was just as good as his tomatoes. It makes sense I guess, because how much money could a guy make peddling tomatoes over a three mile stretch of beach? You wouldn’t think you’d be able to eat on that kind of income, unless of course you could survive on tomatoes.

Tomato Man was mostly homeless. We asked where he lived. His reply was that sometimes he lived on the beach and sometimes he’s scrape up enough for a short stay in a rent-by-the-week place.

“I don’t need much,” he reassured us, “I’m the happiest person you’ll ever meet.”

And he was until the mafia got a hold of him. Well, that’s the rumor anyway. The mafia that ALLEGEDY exists ALLEGEDLY shook down the Tomato Man. I have no idea what really happened. People on the Island love to talk a good story, especially when they’ve spent several hours on a fishing boat in the hot sun kicking back Miller Hi-Lifes. The story for a while was that on The Island there were two rival Italian coffee shops – a good one and a bad one, and both were run by real Italians, actually from Italy. Café Uno was the good one where my Dad and I hung out and it had a nice little newsstand and was run by an older gentleman and his lovely wife. Café Due was the bad coffee shop, run by a seedy bunch of young Sicilians who everyone swore up and down were running an illegal gambling ring in a secret back room. They also said the Sicilians had organized some crime and were attempting to “tax” local businesses, except no one really took them all that seriously. Since no one took them seriously, they had to pick on whoever seemed the most vulnerable. Tomato Man was very vulnerable.

One afternoon I was sitting in class and another student came in late with blood on her shirt. She looked quite shaken. When the teacher asked her what happened she began to sob.

“Someone beat up the Tomato Man and I had to call 911.”

About 80% of the room gasped because that 80% had at least visited the Island and knew exactly who she was talking about because they had crossed the drawbridge in search of his tomatoes themselves. It was a dark day. No one knew if the Tomato Man was alive or dead. We didn’t see him for weeks and during the time that he was missing rumors swirled that the Sicilians had beat him up and taken his cash. No one knew what happened to his bike.
Months later the Tomato Man reappeared.

“What happened to you?” I asked.

“Some kids robbed me,” he said, “Took me forever to save up for a new bike.”

And for some time all was well. We had tomatoes all year round and we even took some on trips to see family up North. Our relatives nearly cried upon seeing the tomatoes’ perfect redness while outside it snowed.

Then Tomato Man went missing for a few more months and when he returned it was with a girlfriend who looked exactly like him, just with longer hair. The Tomato Man had found his Tomato Woman.

“The damn police are givin’ me a hard time,” He told us one day, “They keep tryin’ to shoo me out of here.”

There was a great public outcry and an article in the paper. Tomato Man got a peddler’s license. Everything seemed ok, but Tomato Man and his girlfriend disappeared again. This time they were in jail and when they got out Tomato Man promised everyone that he did not do whatever it was he had been locked up for and that some no good friend of his had set him up. You know how it goes.

For a few more years we continued to have perfect tomatoes with stars on the bottom and everyone was happy until some idiots started tearing down landmarks like the diner that made homemade bread and butter pickles. Big shot developers from New York and New Jersey invaded wearing mirrored sunglasses, driving Vipers while they texted on Blackberries, making deals to build fifty-story condominiums to blot out our skies. Not even the Sicilians could do anything about it. People like that don’t want old hippies pedaling through their million dollar views. I’m sure they got the police to hassle the Tomato Man so he’d go away. I’m sure they found a way to chase him out. Why do you need some homeless man selling tomatoes? There’s plenty of tomatoes in the grocery store.

But I could be wrong. Maybe sometime soon I’ll pass the Tomato Man cruising down A1A on his bike just like always. I’m praying.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fluffy Butt

My father was leaving to go back to LA before the sun rose Monday morning, but my mother wanted to stay in Florida. He thought this was the perfect chance to finally initiate the new security system they had installed at Casa dei Sogni last summer before they up and moved to California in October, but had never once set. Husband and I set the alarm system on occasion, when we thought of it, but most of the time the neighborhood of Basura del Este seemed so quiet and generally uneventful that we often forgot. I don't know what suddenly inspired my father to want to set the thing at 1am Sunday night. Maybe he had a few glasses of Cabernet and it gave him an uncontrollable urge to push buttons. Whatever the case may have been, he and my mother decided to mess with the alarm system for the very first time. My father pretended that he knew exactly what he was doing as he tried to show my mother how to work the thing.

Now my mother is technologically retarded, worse than I am even. She can barely use the microwave. She got her first computer in 1994, installed AOL and hasn't learned a single other application since and whenever AOL updates it throws her off for months. Since she won't even go near any other programs she writes everything in the body of an email, which has resulted in numerous disasters because she can't figure out how to save or file anything and then loses everything she ever writes. Luckily she doesn't write much and spends most of her time on conspiracy theory message boards or reading Alex Jones' Prison Planet. Don't even ask. My mother also can't use a cell phone. We got her one last year but she can't answer it half the time and she has no idea how to clear out missed calls so her phone beeps incessantly until one of us grabs it from her and makes it stop. She can't check voice mail, record messages or save contacts either. It's a disaster. I also need to add that my mother can not and will not use a microwave or a dishwasher either. Given this extreme aversion to technology one can certain see where trying to teach my mother how to use an alarm system might not be a good idea. It was not a good idea.

What made this an even worse idea was the fact that my father, who is not technologically averse per se, is rather, technologically inept. He has to call my husband at least 25 times a week, from California or here, to explain to him how to work various and complicated pieces of electronics that he bought because they looked cool and then couldn't figure out for the life of him how to work. Sometimes he acts like he knows how things work when he doesn't and then decides that the thing is malfunctioning and gets very angry. This is partially what happened with the alarm system.

My parents set the alarm and turned on the motion detectors and they tried to explain to me what happened in a way that did not make them sound stupid, but the explanation confused me and contained many discrepancies, so I will just tell you that they set the motion detectors improperly and the dog set them off immediately.

The alarm gives you one minute to key in the proper code to make it stop and it counts down as if the house is going to explode when it gets to zero. Frantically my father kept keying in the code, as the numbers got closer to the end, but nothing happened. This was of course because the alarm system was broken and not because my father didn't know the code. The system got to zero, red and black heiroglypics appeared, it flashed some sort of doomsday code and the entire house began to shake. Ok, not exactly. I've been watching too much "Lost", but it may as well have done all that. Once it got to zero it went into total, emergency panic mode. The alarm is so loud and piercing that it can be heard all over the entire neighborhood. A pod of dolphins 20 miles offshore heard it underwater and went deaf. The neighbors came out of their houses cussing, dogs howled and small children went into shock from the sound of it. My father still kept trying to key in what he thought was the code, but obviously wasn't so then he called US in the middle of the night to accuse us of changing the code while he was gone and not telling him. Turns out he had it but was a digit off, so once we told him the code it worked and turned off. Everything was fine.

My parents went up to bed and the phone rang. The monitoring company called to see if everything was ok. My father explained the situation and the lady laughed lightheartedly and said she understood.

"Ok, I'll let you go," she said, "Just give me the code word so I know everything's really ok."

There are two code words. One code word is the "I am a Dumb Ass and Set Off My Own Alarm by Accident Because I Don't Know How to Work It" code word. This means all is well. The second code word is the "HOLY SHIT OH MY FUCKING GOD I AM STANDING HERE WITH A GUN TO MY HEAD BEING HELD HOSTAGE BY TERRORISTS WHO ARE GOING TO BLOW UP THE ENTIRE CITY WITH A SUITCASE NUKE" code word.

All of my parents' code words are names of our former cats. The problem is that they can't always remember which cat they used for which code.

"Fuzzy Butt," said my father, thinking this meant everything was fine.

"No honey it was Bird Murderer!" my mother said, "You got it wrong. And the cat wasn't FUZZY Butt it was FLUFFY Butt."

"No it's not Fluffy Butt, or Fuzzy Butt or whatever the hell I said, it's Purr Machine," my Dad told the woman.

Then he repeated it very slowly for good measure.

"Purr Machine."

"I understand sir. Good night," said the woman on the phone.

"I don't think that was the right code, " my dad told my mom.

"Maybe the code word was Gray Kevin or Pink Fuzz," my mom replied.

"I don't know, we've had so many damned cats I can't keep track of them."

"No we haven't. How come we didn't use Charlie? You loved Charlie. That's easier to remember. We should change it to Charlie, Honey."

"Remember that cat we had named Kitty Ling who wouldn't lick her ass and smelled like onions all the time?"

"She had a brain tumor!"

"Holy shit, something's in the backyard," my dad said.

My mom, who was stark naked, looked out the window and didn't see anything.

"There is not, now turn off the light. You need to get up in three hours."

"There it is again. Honey I mean it, something is in the backyard."

They watched some TV. My mom walked around naked some more in her bedroom where she refuses any window treatments.

"I just saw it again!" said my dad.

"You did not. You're just all riled up from the alarm. I'm going to go out there and prove to you that there is nothing in that backyard."

My mom slipped on a bathrobe, went downstairs and went out into the backyard where she was instantly stormed by what seemed like 30 members of the SWAT team who were hiding behind trees, in her flower beds, behind the BBQ grill and in her pergola. She put her hands up and started screaming. My father heard the ruckus and went out too where he was stormed by even more police. How they did not literally pee themselves I will never know.

It took them an hour to search the grounds and every square inch of the house. My parents had to prove their identities, their ownership of the house and that they were not under duress with terrorists hiding in the attic waiting for the police to leave so they could set off that suitcase bomb. At one point my mom went to the front of the house and the entire street was blocked off and there were 15 police cars and the SWAT teams RV. No one on their street got any sleep Easter night including my dad who just got dressed again and went straight to the airport when it was all over. My mother needed a Xanax after all that.

At least we know that the alarm works and that they're getting their money's worth with the monitoring and we finally figured out that the code for "Everything's Fine" was "Fluffy Butt" all along.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Teaser

This week I'm going to be busy because I'm doing a weeklong writing workshop with a visiting author and he's giving us a lot of work to do that doesn't include blog posts. Imagine that. So this will be a quick little teaser, kind of like a commercial for the next episode of a TV show. Probaby the finale of a TV show during May sweeps.

Easter was great. No one said anything innappopriate. Few freaks showed up and the ones who did behaved themselves. In all we had a beautiful, perfect, almost elegant Easter dinner. Everything was calm, peaceful and festive. Until the SWAT team showed up.

And no, that is not a joke. I am not kidding. The SWAT team came to Casa dei Sogni on Easter, and it was not for the leftovers of my macaroni and cheese.
Saturday, March 22, 2008

Pineapple Casserole

A couple of people requested the recipe for the pineapple bread pudding, and being that it's really good I figured I would go ahead and give it out to everyone, but first a little on its history.

All sides of my family, except the Orthodox Jewish side, have been making pineapple casserole since way before I was born. It's supposed to have come from Mommom Jewel's sister Aunt Selma who was the best cook in the family. Aunt Selma married a man from Italy and this only ended up making her a better cook because his Italian mother taught her to cook Italian food. Aunt Selma's original recipe was called "Pineapple Bake" and I have a feeling it appeared in some magazine back in the day or was on the back of a box or a label to something back in the 50s. Throughout the generations we added to, took away from and altered the recipe a bit. We started calling it pineapple casserole, and just this year my father and I decided to liberate it from such a white trashy name which did it no justice at all, and call it Pineapple Bread Pudding, which is what it is anyway. Since everyone has been making it for so long we no longer have or use a written recipe, which is fine because it always turns out fine whether you measure or not or forget things or put in too much of something else. If you are dead set on measuring I found you a very close recipe which I will copy and paste here and provide the link to. I will add my comments for you in a different color because my way of making it is slightly different.

Pineapple Bread Pudding


INGREDIENTS:

2 cans (8 ounces each) crushed pineapple in juice
1/2 teaspoon salt (I have never used salt, but I like salt, so it can't hurt)
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
3 eggs, beaten (I use at least 5 eggs beaten)
2 cups fresh bread cubes (We have it down to a science. Forget the 2 cups. Its 14 slices of white bread, the shitty, gummy, butter-topped kind, but brioche or challah would be even better.)
6 tablespoons melted butter ( are you kidding me? Forget this 6 T crap. It's an entire stick and keep an extra stick on hand in addition to that because you should put some on top before you bake it)
This recipe doesn't include it, but I also add in about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of half and half or whole milk. It'll work if you don't use it at all though, but it makes it richer and more custardy.
Also the person who wrote this recipe forgot the most important thing A teaspoon of vanilla and by a teaspoon I mean hold the spoon over the bowl and let it overflow some because vanilla is good.

PREPARATION:
Combine the undrained pineapple with salt, sugar, and flour and the vanilla and the half and half or milk. Stir in the beaten eggs. Toss bread cubes with the melted butter OK, so this person forgot another KEY STEP. You MUST toast all the bread in the toaster first and then cut it into cubes. It's gross if you don't toast the bread first. You must trust me on this and TOAST THE BREAD, THEN toss it in melted butter then fold into the pineapple mixture. Pour into a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish I don't know what the hell this means. We bake it in a greased 9 x 13 Pyrex baking dish. Also top it with some little pieces of butter before baking because this helps its get brown and crunchy on top and if you want to get extremely fancy you can even decorate it with maraschino cherries but this should be reserved for very special occasions only and bake at 350° for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure it's set and not all jiggly and runny in the middle and let it get nice and brown on top because browness tastes good. You can serve it hot or cold, as a side dish (especially if you're in the South because sweets are considered vegetables and salads) or as a dessert. We always have it with ham. Sometimes its nice heated up for dessert with vanilla ice cream on top. People who have never eaten this freak the hell out when they eat it. I'm just warning you.

Let me know if any of you all make this and if you like it.
Friday, March 21, 2008

Nasty Assed Recipes - Easter Edition

I haven't really celebrated Easter properly since I lived in Atlanta, and even then, I only did it right once. Since I've been in Florida we could never really do Easter because it always coincides with Passover and we have more Jewish family members here than Gentile, so Passover, with all of its dietary restrictions that pretty much eliminate every single item on my traditional Easter menu, makes Easter dinner impossible. So we just celebrate Passover and are fine with it.

This year I was excited that Easter and Passover are weeks apart. Welcome back baked ham, macaroni and cheese and pineapple bread pudding! WooHoo! I insisted that we have a big Easter dinner and do things up right and surprisingly everyone agreed to it which is a miracle because getting my entire family organized and agreeing on anything is usually a monumental task and only I ever dare to try it.

I also decided to color eggs and watch The Sound of Music on TV tonight because I had a bad childhood. People who had bad childhoods are always trying to do things as adults which capture the spirit of the idyllic childhood they never had but which they are positive everyone else in the entire world had except them. I fully admit to doing this on a regular basis and to having a lot of fun doing it. As a child I maybe colored eggs twice at my grandparents' house. When I went to go live with my parents all hopes of egg coloring and egg hunts and Easter baskets were shot. My parents just don't do that kind of thing and back then they weren't able to get themselves focused enough to even remember when Easter was half the time, no ALL the time, so we just didn't celebrate it and said it was because we were Jewish. I missed it.

So now I'm all grown up and god dammit some eggs are going to be pink and green or I will not be pleasant company. And I WILL be singing "I am Sixteen Going on Seventeen" followed by "So Long Farewell." You got it? Good.

This morning my mother and I started planning Sunday's events. I outlined the rules of the day, the foremost of which is "No Freaks Allowed." Yeah. Good luck to me on that one. By noon she called me back with a guest list that had grown to over 20. Most of those 20 are in the mild to moderately freakish category. I'll live as long as we have colored eggs and a cake in the shape of a gigantic rabbit head, which I intend to make. Yes, really. I am going to make a cake in the shape of a gigantic rabbit head. Again, this is what happens when people have bad childhoods, so parents, please do right by your offspring so that they don't grow up to be lame, sappy cornballs such as myself. Thanks.

My mother and I started looking for Easter recipes online as we planned our menu. I wanted it traditional (can you all tell from this post what a control freak I am?). Ham, macaroni and cheese, devilled eggs, which I can't stand but I want them on my Easter menu anyway, rolls, cole slaw with apples in it, pineapple bread pudding, Spring salad (I don't know what this is because I made it up so it would sound festive. I imagine it to be a regular green salad), maybe some greens or sweet potatoes and the gigantic rabbit head cake. Then my mother added in lamb, poached pears, creamed spinach, potato salad, caprese salad and BBQ'ed ribs. Is it just me or is that a bizarrely random selection of menu items there? Still, the menu was missing something. Obviously we can't have a holiday meal in my family without a Jell-O dish served with the main course. I began to look for one, and Readers, Cooks.com as usual did not let me down.

Without further ado, I present you with the Nasty Assed Recipe Award - Easter Edition. Mind you, I have cut and paste this recipe word for word without any editing so that you can enjoy its true, unbridled Nasty Assery for yourselves. If you don't believe me and would like to visit this recipe in its natural habitat, click HERE.

EASTER FRUIT SALAD

1 can or 3 1/2 c. fried cocktail
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 sm. lemon Jello
8 lg. marshmallows
3/4 c. chopped celery
1/4 c. chopped nuts
1/2 pt. whipping cream or 2 1/3 c. Cool Whip

Drain the fruit cocktail and heat the juice with the Jello and softened cream cheese and marshmallows. Cool mixture. When it starts to set, add to fruit, celery and chopped nuts. Refrigerate until thickened, about 1/2 hour. Beat whipping cream and fold in. It's now ready to be put into your favorite mold.

I don't know about this one Readers. My favorite part is obviously that "fried cocktail." Take a moment and try to imagine a "fried" cocktail. Many strange images come to mind. Then we have Jell-O, marshmallows, Cool-Whip and nuts. Then...celery. Why celery? Does the celery qualify this as a salad? Is it the addition of celery what makes this a side dish rather than a dessert? It's all too much for me. And my "favorite mold"??? I don't know what my favorite mold is! What could happen if I accidentally put it in my second favorite mold or worst yet, what if I just put it in a bowl? HELP!!

You all have any Nasty Assed Easter recipes?
Thursday, March 20, 2008

BREAKING NEWS!!!!

Readers, this is big breaking news. TOMATO MAN IS BACK!!!!

Husband was out running errands with my dad and they found him and bought two bags of tomatoes which I can't wait to eat.

Tomato Man explained to them that the town keeps running him off and the police and the alleged Mafia, (which does not exist at all because this story is fictional ok and I don't exist either because I too am fictional for the record and this blog is generated randomly by a computer in China), keep trying to shake him down. But no one can keep the Tomato Man down. He just keeps coming back and he will keep selling tomatoes on A1A until he drops dead (or gets a slug through the head from the fictional Mafia which does not exist).

The good news is that I got his phone number so whenever I want tomatoes I can call him and he'll arrange a meeting with me and we'll act like we're doing something else and he'll secretly slip me a bag of tomatoes when no one's looking and I'll act like I'm shaking his hand when in reality I'll have cash in my hand to pay him. Watch, then I'll get stopped by the cops and they'll think I have drugs and I'll be all like "I don't have drugs. Tomatoes? I had these. I just like carrying tomatoes around. Yessirree. I just carry bags of tomatoes wherever I go."

I'm so glad he's ok.
The other day I received what may well be the white trashiest wedding invitation in the entire world. If it didn't have so much personal information on it I swear I would have scanned it in, but that would also be a little on the hateful side, so I will just do my best to recreate it for you.

My cousin Shandy, whom I've never met, is finally getting married to her baby daddy, which is ultimately, when all is said and done, the right thing to do, and I commend this. Let it officially be known that I am very happy they are getting married even though I've never met either of them.

Shandy is 22 and my Uncle Gargle's oldest daughter. They live in a trailer outside of Millpond. "They" includes Uncle Gargle, his wife Tammy, Shandy, her baby daddy Russ, their baby who is four, Savannah Rae, and Uncle Gargle and Aunt Tammy's youngest daughter Sheree, who is 16 and from her MySpace page looks like a professional Rugby player, although she isn't. That is a damn lot of people to cram into a single wide, but I suppose when you've got a mess of people who are firmly committed to not working, then they're willing to make a few sacrifices for a life of sitting home watching Maury on a 27 year old black and white TV all day long.

Uncle Gargle is my mom's younger brother, not to be confused with Uncle Bull who is the famous grass roots political activist who has been on TV and had lots of articles written about him. Uncle G was dropped on his head as a child and, according to my mom, has never been right. I guess if he were a kid now he'd be one of those kids who has a million diagnoses like ADHD EH and QRS, and he'd be on all kinds of medications, in special classes and possibly wearing a helmet, but since he grew up in the 60s and they didn't have all that stuff then, people just called him stupid and crazy, since that was how he acted most of the time. He also had a speech impediment, which is how he got the name Gargle. As a child he made a strange gargling sound when he tried to speak. I know, it's all very Southern Gothic. As Uncle G. got older he got crazier. I've often wondered if he might not be a tad schizophrenic. Illegal drugs didn't help. He od'd on hallucinogens in his late teens and ended up on the roof of Memere Marie's house playing electric guitar and saying he was the Second Coming. I didn't know him as a child because he was in a mental institution for most of my formative years.

I could kill my mom and Aunt Kiki for this, but I distinctly remember them explaining the situation to me, when I was very little, as that Uncle Gargle had to go live in a hospital because he ate some bad mushrooms on a pizza. This scared the ever loving crap out of me and I swear I wouldn't touch a mushroom until I was in my early 20s because I thought if I got a bad one I'd have to go live in a hospital too. I didn't know Uncle G. was in the loony bin. I thought he was in a coma. The lesson here is this: People, tell your kids the damn truth so they can enjoy their pizza.

When Uncle G. got out of the mental hospital he got engaged. To a woman whom he met IN the mental hospital, which is very romantic, except that she was a Sloane. The Sloane are the absolute most white trash family in all of Millpond and no one likes them because they're all dirty, violent, dishonest, alcoholic drug addicts and they're also extremely ugly. The name Sloane is so associated with the abject that in Millpond their name has become its own adjective. To this day if anyone in my family sees a nasty person we call them a "Sloane." If we disapprove of someone's lifestyle we say they're living like "Sloanes." If someone has a filthy house we say it looks like the "Sloane Camp" because the Sloanes live on a sort of camp-like area all together, way out in the middle of nowhere, where everyone assumes they all inbreed and cook meth together and come up with illegal scams and two-bit cons. I once heard that they were ousted Irish Travelers, so you know they're bad. If you're so bad that even the Irish Travelers don't want you around, then you are seriously troubled.

You can imagine how everyone felt when Uncle G announced his engagement to Tammy Sloane. Tammy was, by the way, in the mental ward as one of her scams, which she is still running to this very day ALLEGEDLY. Ahem. Supposedly, Tammy isn't crazy at all, but she and her seven or eight sisters all came up with this brilliant idea to act completely bat-shit every few months so they can get sent to the state hospital for a spell, which thus gets them out of work and qualifies them for disability from the government, proving that they are too nuts to work. Then they get a free check. When it runs out they just start acting bat-shit again and go back. No big deal. The mental hospital's nice anyway. They don't have to cook or clean or pay rent. They just have to go to group therapy and make spin art. They also get free pills. Hell, that's a dang vacation spa. But again, I have no idea if this is actually true. Ahem.

Uncle G got married and immediately Tammy got pregnant with Shandy and Uncle G went through about sixteen different jobs because he didn't want to work and he didn't like people telling him what to do and he knew better than anyone else how jobs ought to be done and no one would listen to his expertise. My grandfather tried to hire him to drive trucks with him, but even that didn't work out. Then, by the grace of the Good Lord, Uncle G had a terrible accident and got hit in the face with a rim from the wheel of a semi, the force of which broke his neck and caused him a world of other problems. I'm not going to make too much light of this because it was very scary and for a long time we thought he might not make it. It was a legitimately bad accident and not a Sloane scam of any type.

The accident left Uncle G never able to work ever again. It also left him even crazier than he had been before and got him on permanent disability, which also meant that Tammy would never ever leave him. They even had a second child and she acted bat-shit a few more times so they could get more free money from the government and now they could even go on welfare. It was wonderful. For her anyway.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this Uncle Gargle found the Lord Our Savior Jesus Christ and became a Pentecostal. Pentecostals are the ones who speak in tongues and throw themselves all over the floor in fits during their services. Uncle Gargle does this, but on a slightly smaller scale because he is severely disabled. I'm not exactly sure if he's really speaking in tongues though. I think maybe the Pentecostals mistook his speech impediment for the language of prophecy and declared him speaking in tongues when what he was actually trying to say was that he had to pee or something and could someone wheel him over to the men's room. In any event, Uncle G is now regarded as some kind of prophet in the Millpond Pentecostal Church of Jesus Loves You All.

Shandy grew up in the Pentecostal church, where people made the mistake of telling her that she could sing. Then she started singing at different local events such as the Chicken Festival, the Soybean and Sorghum Exposition, the Millpond Fair and the annual weeklong event known as Horseshoe Crab Days. This all made Shandy think she was famous.

Poor Cousin Fallon and Shandy are close in age and had to go to high school together. Fallon didn't want anyone knowing they were related because Shandy was already getting a reputation for being a wee bit "touched." Then she got pregnant by Russ when she was in her senior year of high school, and it must be said here that Russ had already been with not only Fallon, but also Fallon's sister Alexis, so Russ has definitely had a good sampling of our family. Fallon hates Shandy and will not be going to the wedding.

Russ moved into the trailer with Shandy and the rest and they had a little girl, Savannah Rae. Shandy worked at the Wal-Mart for a little while before finally deciding to just give that crap up and go crazy too so she could get free money, which worked quite well.

For the past few years Shandy has been telling everyone that she and Russ were getting married. No one believed her because she is apparently dramatic and says all sorts of things that aren't true, and jeez, who gets married anymore anyway?

Well, lo and behold, here comes a wedding invitation the other day, so I guess this time it must be true, which is a good thing for little Savannah Rae. Ok, maybe the whole situation isn't exactly what one might call good, but at least it's a little bit better.

The invitation itself was pretty and homemade. Shandy and her mom must have reallt learned a lot about arts and crafts in the mental ward, because they did a good job on the invites. It was the wording I had an issue with.

"Savannah Rae requests the honor of your presence at the wedding of her Mama and Daddy-Pop, Shandy and Russ..."

Then it goes on to give the pertinent info - Fire Hall, potluck, BYOB, please try not to wear jeans, etc. This is all ok. These are poor people. I get that. I'm glad they are at least getting married, but really, did the invitation have to come from their four year old? Is that a little tacky, y'all? A teeny bit?
Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Conversation With Aunt Kiki

The other day I fell over a picket fence and busted the shit out of several parts of my body, including my face. Do not ask how this happened. It had to do with me getting locked out of my apartment and trying to get over the fence to get to the window and I was trying to be a bad ass, which clearly didn't work because I ended up bloody on the asphalt parking lot howling in pain. I'm ok. I was just bruised and bloody and have some nice abrasions and bruises on my nose and the right side of my face. I was pretty sore and stiff for a day, but other than that, I'm good. I kind of like having a banged up face. I've noticed that people are giving me a lot more respect now, like they know not to mess me with. I'm tough, man. I have scratches on my nose. You don't mess with people with scratches on their noses. Or bruises across entire sides of their faces.

The gang kids that hang outside of the crack house across the street witnessed much of the event and one actually came over to rescue me, so after I stopped howling in pain and looked over to my side a very cute white pitbull greeted me. It belongs to one of the gang kids and it looks exactly like Petey from the Little Rascals. The gang kid was really nice and offered to call am abulance or help me up or whatever I needed, but Husband was there by then. I think the gang kid thought Husband was beating me or something. I promised the gang kid I was ok and he and Petey went back across the street where the gang kinds have set up a makeshift outdoor Internet cafe where they all sit in the dirt out in front of the crackhouse with laptops and steal wireless. I don't know what they're doing, but the gang kids are in my good graces now for coming over to help me.

In any case, I really am quite ok. It's a good thing that Aunt Kiki doesn't know about this because she'd swear I was dying, had broken my spine and was a paraplegic. Then she'd call everyone in the family and tell them this.

Lately Aunt Kiki seems to have caught a case of hypochondria, but it's focused on everyone in the family and not herself. Usually hypochondriacs (of which I am totally one) think they have diseases and are dying. With Aunt Kiki, she thinks everyone else is deathly ill.

Hypochondria is rampant in my family. My mother has never in my entire life been to the doctor, but she has diagnosed herself with everything from hepatitis to diabetes. My grandmother, Memere Marie, swore she had lung cancer, which turned out to be acid reflux, and my Uncle Bull, my mom and Aunt Kiki's older brother, was actually admitted to the hospital with severe stomach pains. They were going to do exploratory surgery but it turned out all he needed to do was take a gigantic crap. So yeah, my family goes to the emergency room when they have to poop. I'm not immune to this nonsense either. A few weeks ago I envisioned my entire death from inflammatory breast cancer because I had a mosquito bite on my boob.

Mostly, our hypochondria is limited to ourselves. Aunt Kiki has taken hypochondria to a whole new level. A few weeks ago she had lunch with my mother. This is how the conversation went. They were having clam chowder.

"Sissy," said Aunt Kiki, "I think Mom's dying."

She was talking about Memere Marie, their mother. My mother was very upset and wanted to know why Aunt Kiki would say this. My grandmother is in her mid 70s afterall and has smoked since she was about 7 months old.

"Did she say something to you?" My mother asked.

"No, I just have a feeling. I really think she's going to die this year. You know how she's been sending everyone money? I think she's giving us our inheritances because she knows she won't be here long. I'm telling you Sissy, Mom's gonna die."

My mother changed the subject.

About five minutes later Aunt Kiki started up again.

"Sissy," said Aunt Kiki.

"What?"

"Are you keeping secrets from me?"

"Kiki, what the hell are you talking about? Of course not."

"I think your husband's dying," Aunt Kiki deadpanned.

"How could you say that? He's totally fine!! Are you saying this because he buzzed his hair off?"

"He looks bad Sissy. He looks like he's dying. I think he has stomach cancer. Look how much weight he lost Sissy."

"He lost weight because he was on a diet because he ate like an asshole over Christmas when the kids were out to California with us."

"Mom thinks he looks bad too. She's worried. We think he's dying and you aren't telling us."

"I can assure you, I would tell everyone if something were wrong."

Their entrees came and they talked about something else. Ten minutes later Aunt Kiki went at it again.

"Sissy."

"What Kiki?"

"You are wasting away. You are too skinny. I never saw you this skinny before. Something's wrong with you. You need to go to the doctor. You're gonna die," Aunt Kiki said.

"Kiki, I am NOT going to die and I am definitely not skinny. Cut this shit out. Nothing is wrong with me."

Aunt Kiki shook her head sadly.

"Yes it is Sissy. You look like a slip of nothing. I can't believe how skinny you are. Only sick people get that skinny."

"Kiki do you see me sitting here eating this fish and chips? I am not too skinny. I need to lose 20 pounds at least, now cut this out. There's nothing wrong with me."

They finished their entrees and ordered coffee. They started to talk about their kids.

"Sissy."

"What Kiki."

"Little Anne looks TERRIBLE."

I need to break into the dialogue here for a second. Aunt Kiki suffers from the same affliction as everyone else in my family. They can't call anyone by their actual names. "Little Anne" is me, your author. This is what Aunt Kiki has been inexplicably calling me for the past three or four years. Before that she called me Louise. Neither Louise nor Little Anne are anything close, not even remotely similar, to my actual name. I have no idea where she comes up with these names. There is no logic. I think it's why I don't use my name on here. No one calls me it anyway. I can't even remember what my real name even is.

So Aunt Kiki here was telling my mother that I look TERRIBLE. In capital letters terrible.

"She looks fine," my mother said.

"Sissy, no she does not. Little Anne looks like she is deeply unwell. She looks like she's dying. Did her cancer come back? Are you keeping it from me?"

"Kiki, honestly. She NEVER had cancer."

"Yes she did. She had cancer in her neck."

"It wasn't cancer and it went away when she got treatment. She is fine."

"Little Anne looks like shit Sissy. Her color's bad. Listen to how she coughs. I bet she picked up tuberculosis on one of them trips she goes on. You know it's back. There's an epidemic. She could have got it at school. Don't you see how pale she looks? You hear her cough."

"Kiki, she's tired because she works her ass off and she's pale because she's inside all day working and studying and writing. She's coughing because she has asthma and she coughs more around me because of my cigarettes."

"Sissy, it's not normal. She looks bad. You need to tell her to put some rouge on her face or something. I'm telling her myself. She needs to get to the doctor. I think she needs to get tested."

My mother asked for the check because at that point the only other family members left were Mini-T and my sister. Maybe Aunt Kiki think they look healthy. Apparently I look like a tuberculosis victim who needs a makeover. She should see me now. On second thought, actually she shouldn't.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008

This is Probably Why People Come Here on Vacation

This is the view back to the Island from the pier. I'd like to have one of those townhouses.

Pelicans from the Pier

I thought you might enjoy some Vacation at Home photos.

My Vacation at Home, Part 1

I have now returned from my vacation at home. It also ended up being a vacation from the Internet, but that wasn't exactly intentional, it was because I was doing a lot of different things.

I ate lunch here at Michael's Genuine and concluded that it was ok but not one of the ten best restaurants outside of New York at all and was filled with a bunch of pretentious assholes. One conversation I overheard contained this sentence:

"Oh yeah, I've been to Australia like six or seven times... or something."

That's not the chef's fault, but I do have to say this. Michael Schwartz, your food genuinely needs a little more flavor balance man. Everything I ate needed some tartness. How about a little squeeze of lemon here and there? And pastry chef lady - cacao nibs may sound cool to add into a banana split, but not when they nearly chip your veneers. Desserts should be soft, puffy and/ or crispy, not pebbly.

I also went strawberry picking and began to have elaborate pastoral fantasies wherein I think I imagined myself in a Bo Peep sort of outfit frolicking among the fields singing to birds and tame bunnies. This caused me to pick a truckload of strawberries, which I've been eating at every meal and also forcing other people to eat with me. No one seems to have minded though because the berries are really good and sweet.

I went to the pier, I organized my apartment. I was not killed by One Eye. I realized that whomever robbed my car bizarrely stole my raincoat, which was hot pink and cost me all of $11.99 five years ago on clearance at Old Navy. They also took my car's antenna, so not only can I no longer listen to my XM Radio, but now I can no longer listen to the regular radio either.

Instead, I have listened to this CD about 785 times. You may recognize it from a Ford commercial. I like music from commercials.

"Lost" has utterly consumed my life. I can't even believe myself. I started watching the dvds to see why everyone liked it so much because I have a bunch of friends who watch it and I didn't get it. Now, dammit, I'm halfway into Season 2 and I can't stop. I've dragged Husband into it as well because everyone knows that solo addiction is no damn fun at all. You have to drag someone else down with you. I hate that I like this show because parts of it are really stupid and they fist fight in the sand way too much, but I'm a sucker for mysteries and shit that's supernatural, so that's what hooked me. That and the fact that I think I like looking at a collection of insanely hot people running around a jungle. Clearly this island has supernatural properties. One of them is that a bunch of women who survived a plane crash can live on the beach and remain looking perfectly coiffed. Another is that apparently on this island clothes don't wrinkle at all when you wash them in river water and hang them up between trees, and the last is that hair stops growing. You know damn well that those women wouldn't have time to pluck their eyebrows or shave their underarms or legs. How many razors could they have possibly found in the debris and how long could they stay sharp? I can totally suspend disbelief about cursed lottery numbers, monsters that look like black smoke and mysterious hatches, but I can not suspend disbelief about a lack of hairy armpits!

In other news, I thought you might want an update on my family and their shenanigans. Aunt Kiki was here for four days. Uncle Ben Yusef finally left. Mini-T came to visit and my mom fell down the stairs and spiralled into an odd depression where she has done nothing but read conspiracy theory on the Internet and then forward it all to me. She's ok from her fall, so don't worry. She's just bruised up.

My sister was supposed to go to Malaysia with Rusty Brad but at the last second, meaning IN THE AIRPORT, when she thought she was going to Malaysia he told her that in fact they were going to Honduras. It was a surpise. I get the logic though. They were only going for a few days. Malaysia is far. If you only have a few days to visit a third world country known for its drug trade and sex trafficking then you should go to the closer one, right? And Honduras is safer because there aren't any Islamic Fundamentalists there. Except, I'd still prefer Malaysia because it looks way less third world, is really pretty and has food that I think I'd really like and I want to see those fancy buildings in Kuala Lumpur. Again, they only had a few days. I think they actually ended up in Mexico and not Honduras after it was all said and done. I am no longer keeping track. She's back and she's alive and doesn't appear to have been sold into slavery or have contracted any intestinal parasites, so that's good with me.

My siblings are each uniquely irritating to me, in different ways. I was worried about my sister. Mini-T though - totally triflin'. Mini-T came over last week trying to borrow money from my parents. His child support payment is due in 2 weeks. He needed $600 dollars for that and then he wanted some more money because he has decided that he wants to start a ring tone business which will make him an instant millionaire. Do not ask me how. My mother told him to get his ass a job, but he argued that he wouldn't get a paycheck for at least 3 weeks and his child support would be late. I said that he should go wait tables or be a bouncer at the Bubblegum Kittikat because both of those jobs would provide instant cash in hand and he wouldn't have to wait for a check. He didn't like those ideas.

I don't get people, I swear. I know so many people who complain they're broke and can't find a job and need to borrow money but none of them will get off their asses and work because they think so many jobs are below them. No job is below anyone. If you don't have money and you're healthy and fit money is the easiest thing in the world to come by. Anyone can work in a restaurant. You may not WANT to, but you still can and if you've gotten yourself in a situation, as Mini-T has through his bad choices, where you're broke, then you need to pay a little penance and do some work that you don't like for a while to get yourself out of the situation. It'll build character, so shut the fuck up and go take someone's order and be glad you aren't a migrant worker or someone who has to work in a meat packing plant.

Mini-T left empty handed, still dreaming of being a ring tone millionaire.

Uncle Ben Yusef was here with his own dreams of becoming a millionaire, but I'm gong to make myself a panini.

Tomorrow Uncle Ben Yusef and Aunt Kiki get their own post.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Scary One Eyed Man

As I complained yesterday, my car was broken into last weekend, which pissed me off and caused me a world of hassle. At the same time, and I'm not, for the record, implying any connection whatsoever here, I met, sort of, one of my new neighbors who exhibited some particularly bizarre behavior relating to the car break-in. I'll explain how it all relates in a minute.

My apartment is in a pretty old building which has been recently restored and it's in one of those odd, transitional neighborhoods. My mother said that when she first moved here almost 30 years ago, that the neighborhood I live in now used to be the worst imaginable slum. Then, in the 90s, adventurous gay men moved in and started fixing up the run-down old houses and the neighborhood acquired a pleasantly quirky hipness which is what made me want to live here in the first place. That and the fact that it's located exactly halfway between the really good Italian bakery and the equally as good French bakery, and I can walk to all sorts of places from here. And there are peacocks. So I really love this neighborhood, but it's strange and not totally gentrified. You'll find million dollar houses next to vacant, condemned shacks with squatters. My building is a good example of this. It's really nice and lots of lovely people live here, but then next to my building we have the junky rental place with all the rickshaws in the unkempt yard, where they have just this week now added some dune buggies to the whole mix of shit out there, and across the street we have a full on apparent crack house where some kids who look like they're in a gang hang out in the dirt alley next to it and everyone leaves their doors wide open and uses old sheets as curtains. An honest to God crazy man lives in that building.

The crazy man has lived there the entire time that I've lived here and he has been honest to God crazy the whole time. He drives a beat up, at least 25 year old car that is completely covered in strange stickers. The parts that aren't covered in stickers he has written on in Sharpie marker. When he leaves his front door open and you can see inside (oh also there are stickers on the door too) you can see that his small studio is jam packed with weird odds and ends that the crazy man has found and artfully arranged inside. There are things like soda can sculptures, old furniture all stacked up, birdless cages, a dress form (very creepy), car parts and mannequin legs and the walls and are plastered with an elaborate collage of pictures and articles torn out of magazines and newspapers. It's more than a little unsettling to see. It has a definite "Silence of the Lambs" quality going on in there. Ultimately though, I think the Crazy Man is fairly harmless. I hope anyway. He wears shiny shorts from the 80s with half tee shirts and he rollerblades a lot and talks to himself, or people who aren't there and if engaged he'll explain all about intergalactic conquest and the ruling party's corruption on Zeta Reticuli. Weird - totally. Dangerous - likely not. I think he's your average schizophrenic minus the paranoia, but again, I really don't know.

The new neighbor on the other hand is scary as Hell. The new guy doesn't live in the crack house across the street with the gang kids and the Crazy Man. He lives next to my building in another crackish sort of rental building with a caved in roof that is next to the white trash house with the rickshaws and dune buggies. This building isn't quite as bad as the one across the street but it's pretty bad. At one point a bunch of New Agey lesbians lived in there and they all gave massages and had dogs and were getting over their troubled childhoods and they were all really nice, as were their dogs. Sadly the lesbians moved on and a bunch of trash and vagrant types took their place, but again, they were pretty harmless and didn't interact with me at all. Periodically there'd be some sort of domestic incident, but with my life I am very used to domestic incidents and thought nothing of it.

All last Saturday, the day of my break in, the new guy was outside in the alley spray painting his car. He's huge and looks like a whooped ass, drug addict version of Sylvester Stallone if Sylvester Stallone had one eye. The one eye thing is terrifying because the eye is literally not there. It's not like he just has one jacked up eye or a scarred eye or is blind in one eye. I'm talking the dude does not have an eye. He just has a smooth, dark indentation where an eye should be. You know what this guy looks like? He looks like if Sylvester Stallone got a cool part playing a villain in a Coen Brothers movie.

So he's got this 1978 Jaguar and he decided that he needed to spray paint it white last weekend, with regular white spray paint from Home Depot, which I didn't know was meant for cars, but whatever. It took him all day long. During that time Husband went out and moved our cars, the only other cars in the parking lot, because he was afraid the wind would blow overspray onto them. This apparently ticked off One Eyed Sylvester Stallone guy a lot. He was giving us dirty looks with his other eye. His only eye, rather.

The next day we get up and find the Saturn has been burglarized so of course we had to call the police. The coolest, funniest cop in the world showed up to make the report, which was the one good thing about this all because he was very entertaining. He was about our age and had our same dry sense of humor. He probably loved Arrested Development and I guarantee you he watches the Daily Show every single night. The cop explained that he lives here in the area too and that the same thing happened to his car and then he proceeded to dust for prints and act like he was on CSI - Minor Car Break Ins South Florida. It was great. While we were standing out in the parking lot One Eye got into his newly spray painted Jag and drove through the dirt alley in front of us very slowly with the windows open. He got to the end of the alley, then he backed up suddenly until he faced us.

"DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY TO ME??? DO YOU??? WHY DON'T YOU SAY IT TO MY FACE???"

We were all bewildered and startled.

"Like what?" I asked.

"YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH ME?? TELL ME RIGHT NOW! TELL ME RIGHT NOW TO MY FACE! I HEARD YOU TALKING ABOUT ME!!!"

"We're not talking about you. This has nothing to do with you," I said.

"BECAUSE IF YOU WANT TO START SOMETHING -"

"EXCUSE ME!!" said the Cop, "Am I invisible over here or what?"

That made One Eye peal out of the alley, squealing his tires and throwing gravel all over the place.

"Good lord," said the Cop, "What is wrong with that guy?"

Then, I confess, we spent another five minutes this time actually talking about how crazy the guy was and the cop said we ought to keep an eye on him.

I've been trying to avoid One Eye as much as possible because if someone is nutty, stupid, fearless and angry enough to try to start shit with total strangers in front of a police officer then that individual is dangerous in my book.

It's my Spring Break, as you know, and I'm enjoying my vacation at home, so I'm really getting to see what goes on here in the daytime. One Eye doesn't appear to have a job and all day long grimy, messed up, transient looking people come and go, very quickly from his apartment and they park in my building's lot, sometimes making such quick stops that they don't turn off the cars or close the doors. This is not a good sign. One Eye himself comes and goes alot. I see this because my apartment faces the alley where he parks.

Two nights ago Husband and I were home watching a movie around 11 at night and we heard a terrible banging, clanging ruckus out in the alley. We looked out the window in time to see One Eye jumping back into his spray painted car and squealing his tires angrily out onto the street just like he did in front of the cop. A few minutes later Husband went outside to see what made the ruckus. He pretended like he was taking out the trash.

A couple weeks ago when my closet rod broke Husband took it outside and placed it neatly, and not in anyone's way behind the dumpster in the alley because it wouldn't fit properly inside the dumpster. It was actually pretty hard to see back there and one would have to go to some trouble to extricate it, which is exactly what One Eye did. Then he proceeded to hurl it at the side of our building, nearly missing our car and our window. The rod hit the side of the building with such force that it bounced off, hit a fence and then fell onto the pavement. It made a lot of scary noise. I ask, why would One Eye do this randomly at 11pm as he was on his way somewhere? It's just weird and creepy.

This guy scares me. If I turn up missing, let this serve as a record that this person needs to be looked at. I need to get some mace or a stun gun or something. What advice do you guys have for me about this? I'm just curious how other people might handle it. Right now I'm ignoring it all as best I can and trying to keep a detailed record of whatever incidents happen.
Monday, March 03, 2008

How My Week Should Have Gone

1. My car would not have gotten broken into and important stuff, plus just stuff I liked would not have gotten stolen.
2. I would not have had to close my bank account and open a whole new one and then deal with all the issues that go along with that.
3. I would not have had a paper, a presentation and a project all due within the same two days.
4. I would be better organized so that having all this happen at once would not send me into an anxiety attack. Perhaps I'm being too hard on myself. I suspect this all would have sent anyone into an anxiety attack.
5. More crazy people would not have shown up at my parents' house and proceeded to get drunk and naked.
6. My long planned and long awaited vacation to Millpond to visit my family would not have gotten canceled THE DAY OF THE TRIP leaving me with ten days full of not much to do.
7. I would still have health insurance.
8. My bronchitis would have healed nicely a long time ago. Or asthma or whatever it is. Everyone has a different opinion.
9. I would not have wished to disown every single person related to me and to go live alone in the Everglades in a shack where I would not bathe and where I would live off of alligator meat which I killed with my bare hands.
10. I would not have gotten a rejection letter.
11. My long lost half sister whom I have never met as an adult would want a genuine relationship with me and not be asking me for money.

Yes, it was a bad week. I had to step away from the computer. So great was my ire that I knew if I were to write anything it would be nothing but ranting vitriol. I was so angry that I could have been a guest commenter on some Fox News show and really I'm more of an MSNBC girl, though that is due in part to my passionate crush on Dan Abrams who I hope isn't gay, although I suspect he may be.

I decided to make the best of a bad situation and so I decided to go on vacation anyway, except I am on vacation at home. I figure millions of people come to where I live on vacation and are actually really excited about it and love coming here, so for the rest of this week I'm going to act just like one of them. I am going to do all the things that people do while they're on vacation and I'm going to cook and relax and write and read what I want and I'm going to heal and not curse my family.

Oh also, my sister is going to Malaysia tomorrow with Rusty Brad (new reader and commenter) and Aunt Kiki showed up for five days. More later.

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