Two Things I’ll Miss, The Thing I’ve Missed

As I’ve mentioned too many times already, we just moved from Atlanta back to North Carolina, where both Tom and I are from.

I was  going through my phone pictures and I found two little examples of things I’ll miss from our time in Georgia.

The first is from the Japanese restaurant near our house. There’s a mural with lots of rabbits and anthropomorphic vegetables. My favorite part of the mural is this:

In all the fun and laughter amongst the rabbits and the vegetables (ok, yes tomatoes are a fruit), one rabbit seems to have gotten a little carried away in her enthusiasm, and this is clearly upsetting to the tomato she’s so happily rough housing. Maybe I like it so much because that’s how I felt in Atlanta – just a little tomato being jostled around by an over-active rabbit. Yeah, I got deep and metaphorical there for a second. Please know that I did not actually like it because that’s how I felt in Atlanta – I like it because a tomato is being man handled by a rabbit, so there’s no need to delve deeper to see why it’s so awesome to me.

The other image on my phone was of a run-down mansion that looks like it was built in the 1980s. We would pass it on our way to the movie theater that plays retro movies, also often from the 1980s. The house is a pastel peach, and I can just imagine all sorts of 80s douche bags dressed Miami Vice-style, having big parties and thinking it would last forever. And it sort of did, because nobody has changed that house since its heyday. This too could be seen as a monument to my time in Atlanta – arriving with the best of intentions and then slowly feeling the need for a change but continuing to stay the same. But, HA, no. We didn’t move to Atlanta intending to stay. Nope, I liked passing by this house because it stuck out like a sore thumb, reminded me of the 80s, and was on the way to watching old movies on the big screen.

Then came the pictures from the short two weeks we’ve been back. This past weekend we went to a small family reunion, held in my father’s small hometown, where my grandmother lived until she died. My grandparents owned a farm. My dad hated helping out on the farm because he was allergic to everything involving farms (which he so lovingly passed on to me). So, when the time came, my dad sold his share of the farm to my uncle, who is more enamored with farm land and farm-related activities.

So, while I love this town, and have many wonderful memories of spending time on the farm, I don’t actually know much about the ins and outs of farming. As a child I did more “look, I’m on a tractor!” novelty tractor rides than finding out exactly what tractors can actually do. I was also more, “hey look, there are peanuts everywhere and I can have some!” than actually understanding how the peanuts got there.

As we made our way to the farm, we ended up behind this thing.  It looked like someone took a bunch of other things and made this one thing. It also looked like perhaps we would find an alien driving it if we looked close enough. I can deduce that the giant old-timey looking wheels are to go down the row of crops, and that the tank on top (you can’t see it from this angle), sprays stuff, but as to what it’s actually called, and what it really does – dunno. But, still, there’s a part of me that sees something like this and it feels right. I may be allergic to farms, but it’s still there in my genes somewhere.

We passed the contraption (after contemplating driving under it just to see if we could fit) and continued on toward our destination. I haven’t been back to this town in years. Living in Georgia meant there wasn’t a lot of time to visit anywhere other than where my mom and sister live. So when we finally hit the street we were looking for, there stood the image that trumps all man-handled tomatoes and coke-filled pastel 80s mansions:

My family’s road. On my family’s farm. A lovely reminder of where my father came from and, by extension, where I came from. And while my dad isn’t here anymore, and my grandma is gone, too, the road bearing their last name is still here, and I can visit it any time I want. And that’s what being back home means to me.

That, and free food from my mom’s house, but mostly that.

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How Moving and Cat Poop are Related

We officially no longer live in our house. But, it’s still our house, which means we still have a mortgage. While our renters wait for their house to sell, and while they decide if they want to buy our house, we don’t have an official home. We’re staying with my mom while we wait for everything to straighten itself out. My mom is generous to have us and while I don’t mind being home-home, you still don’t want to be in your mid-thirties and living with your mom even though it makes the most sense and reduces the amount of times we have to move our stuff. I just don’t want to hate my stuff more than I already do.

I think one of the reasons cats have such a holier-than-thou attitude is because they've seen the way dogs react to their poop.

What does this have to do with cat poop? When you have cats AND dogs, you have to spend a surprising amount of time trying to figure out how to “protect” cat poop. If you have cats and dogs, you also probably know the term for cat poop that is used to describe a dog’s maddening love of it – Tootsie Rolls.

Every time you move with your dogs and cats you have to re-figure out how to keep those precious tootsie rolls from constant threat. I think it’s one of life’s strangest predicaments. For us, the solution usually involves a closet and a baby gate.

When we move, I forget about this predicament because we did a really good job of solving the problem in our previous abode, like when people let their guards down during times of peace. Of course, it’s only a matter of time (that amount of time is easily measurable – it is the exact amount of time it takes for the cat to take his first shit in the new house) before I’m reminded that a fortress must be built around the Kingdom of Litter.

Our dog Ed is a turd connoisseur. I think he was feral at some point, which probably started his terrible hunger for poo, as it may have been his available meals. If Pizza Hut sold a Turd Lover’s Pizza, he’d eat it every day. His favorite soup would be turdle soup. He’d be disappointed by a pu pu platter. We don’t let him pick what he has for dinner, is what I’m saying.

He has the well-earned nickname “Turd Burglar.” He’ll burgle turds at every opportunity. Turds tremble in fear when they sense he is near. Seriously, the dude loves turds. That’s why, when Tom wanted to practice on his new photo editing program, he chose to create this:

You may be a world-class turd burglar, Ed, but this time the local tootsie rolls will only have folklore legends to pass down from generation to generation. “Hair as orange as John Boehner’s skin and a collar as green as grass, and he’d just as soon eat you as look at you.”

Rest easy, sweet turds, you’re safe for now. Turds in the backyard, I’m afraid you’re on your own.

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Adding this post to the Yeah Write weekly challenge. I had a lot of fun last week reading new blogs. You can lurk, hangout, or enter a post in the weekly challenge, then vote for your 5 favorites. Go check it out.

If anyone in this house snaps, it’s best if it’s me.

Online chat I just had with Tom, we were previously discussing him working from home (it helps if you know the plot of The Shining):

me:  I’m not right in the head and I haven’t had coworkers for a while

Tom:  I have been waiting for you to chase me and the dogs through the hedge maze. Swinging Elliott* at us.

me:  I don’t have the energy. I’m a boring insane person

Tom:  Ghosts constantly nagging you to kill us all. “Eh, maybe I’ll do it later.” There’s a post there somewhere.

me:  “You want them dead so bad, you do it.”

Tom:  On the other side, you wouldn’t survive if I flipped out, because you wouldn’t make the phone call to get Scatman Caruthers, and you wouldn’t want to run around outside.**

me:  That’s true. “Eh, I’d rather die than have to make a phone call.” That’s why telepathy is such a convenient power to have, you don’t have to pick up the phone. And, I would never make it back out of that maze.***

Tom:  Also true! So, the lesson is, you need to be the one to flip out, so we all survive.

me:  And what did I do when I flipped out last night?**** I went to bed early, then couldn’t get to sleep, and then we watched VEEP. Everybody lived.

*Elliott is our jerk of a cat.

**I’m allergic to outside and also have no tolerance for weather that isn’t between 55-74 degrees.

***I have no sense of direction.

****Moving causes several breakdowns on my part. We’re at the point where I’d like to just set fire to all of our belongings (but don’t because of the previously mentioned laziness). This is not a pleasant moving phase for anyone involved.

To the Person Who Left the Helpful Tip on a Napkin Under My Windshield Wiper

Dear Person Who Left the Helpful Tip on a Napkin Under My Windshield Wiper,

First, I am nothing if not fair and honest. I agree – I could have parked better. My parking job was not to my normal standards. My back wheel was on the line, maybe even a half an inch over. If I had known, I assure you, I would have backed up and tried again. I won’t write a public letter to you and not admit that your note wasn’t entirely unjustified. And, since you don’t know me and my nitpick-y parking jobs 99.9% of the time, I understand why you didn’t go for the more accurate “LEARN TO CHECK AND SEE IF YOU DID A GOOD PARKING JOB.” Regardless, I’m sure it made it slightly more difficult for you to back out of your space. So, on the point that I didn’t park perfectly, we are in agreement.

We are also in agreement about how delicious Chick-fil-A is. That was where the napkin on which you composed your corrective prose was written was from. I like to get the number 5 with a sweet tea. That’s two things we can agree on – Chik-fil-A is yummy and I could have parked better.

I see that on both sides, you struggled to make your pen work. I must admit, the thought of you, fuming, standing over my car, napkin on my hood, swirling your pen angrily, trying to get it to do your bidding, amuses me. I’m assuming you wouldn’t risk scratching your own car angrily swirling away at a flimsy napkin. Or, maybe you did it in your car, in the driver’s seat. Maybe you accidentally honked your own horn a little. That’s even better if that was the case.

I have a couple suggestions – if this was truly a call to action, you should have left the contact information to a local parking school (do those exist?). Or, maybe a nice drawing demonstrating the proper way to park, although I do understand that that was probably impossible considering your ink flow problems. “LEARN TO PARK” is a request, but if you really want to empower me to LEARN TO PARK, a little guidance would be appreciated. Luckily, I do know how to park, and this was just a fluke, so your helpful note could simply serve as a reminder to stay vigilant, or face the wrath of future napkin notes.

Finally, I’d like to make one more point. We were both parked in a hospital parking garage. I had just come back from a gastroenterologist appointment. So, unfortunately, if you were hoping that I would read your note and start crying from embarrassment and humiliation, dabbing my tears with the very napkin that held the stinging message, that did not happen. I already reached my daily limit in the embarrassment department at my appointment. But, that’s really not the point I’m trying to make.

The point I want to make is this: you left your note on the car of a healthy sarcastic blogger who parked bad because she was panicked because she was late (also something I rarely do), but it could have been different. You could have left your note on the car of someone who had just found out they had cancer. You could have left the note on the car of someone who rushed to the hospital because their loved one was in an accident. You could have left your note on the car of a couple who had just lost their baby from a miscarriage. You don’t know. And you know what? I don’t know, either. Maybe you were one of the three examples I just gave, and my parking job was the straw that broke the camel’s back. If that’s the case, I’m sorry.

However, I’d just like to say that I don’t leave notes like the one you did because of everything I mentioned in this letter. Do I drive past a double-parker and assume they are a jackass? Yes. And you know what? If they really are a jackass, they don’t give a shit about any notes pointing out their jackassery. And, if they’re not a jackass, they’re probably having a bad day. The chances that you would actually be enlightening someone who honestly doesn’t know they park bad and would be relieved to be told about it are probably less than the chances of winning the lottery.

All of that is to say: if you are the type to leave obnoxious notes for obnoxious parkers, just don’t do it at the hospital.


P.S. Just yesterday, I was lamenting my lack of blogging material, and Tom told me I needed to leave the house more. So I guess I also owe you a “thank you.” If we ever meet at a Chik-fil-A, waffle fries are on me.

My Bad Habit: Writing Posts to Further Avoid Having to Talk to My Neighbor

I have many, many bad habits. I pop all my zits (fuck you beauty magazines), I can’t have junk food in the house because I will inhale it in a day, I will stab your sentimentality with a broken bottle, etc. But the bad habit I’m currently suffering from is social avoidance. Which, admittedly, isn’t exactly a habit, it’s more of a neurosis, but I’m not splitting hairs, which is also a bad habit.

You see this? It’s a giant dead tree. It has a leprosy-like oozing wound towards the bottom. It looks like The Jolly Green Giant has been kicking it. All of its branches are on one side, because, and this is just a guess, when the tree was alive, it also was socially avoidant.

This big, dead, dented tree is leaning towards the electricity, internet, and cable-making lines. Every day (ok, twice a week), when I leave the house, I think, “I sure hope that tree doesn’t fall,” and then I think the same thing when I get home, twenty minutes later.

Since we’re trying to sell the house, we think it’s in our best interest to get rid of it (and, you know, because it will kill civilization when it falls), but the problem is, it’s right on the property line with our neighbors. We’re pretty sure it’s on their side of the property line because of a row of now-dead formerly fluffy ornamental plants, which we assume serve as a natural dividing line.

The logical thing to do is walk 200 feet or so, knock on their door, and ask them about it. The neighbor husband works from home, so it shouldn’t be hard to catch him – I’m home all day, too.

I’ve spoken to these neighbors probably 4 times. The first time was when I met them. The other times involved the fact that they let their dog out in their unfenced front yard and forget about him. I don’t like this about them – we live on a very, very small cul-de-sac, right near a busy road. Their previous dog was hit by a car. They haven’t pieced together the problem yet. So, not only do I have my general social anxiety and avoidance to contend with, I also have crazy thoughts like, “I don’t want to go over there when the dog’s not out because he’ll let the dog out when I come to the door and then the dog will get hit by a car and I’ll never be able to live with myself.”

I’ve actually come to the conclusion a few times that I’ll just pay to have this huge tree removed to avoid having to have a 2 minute conversation with my neighbor. But, then I realize that’s crazy, and then I reset the feedback loop.

And so there sits the tree – a giant, dead monolith commemorating my inability to initiate a conversation.

I’m not even going to get into my next bad habit, which will ride the coattails of the current one. Once it’s settled, if I have to deal with the tree, that will involve a phone call, and then we’re talking another month or so of avoidance.

This post was written in response to Studio30 Plus’ writing prompt, “Bad Habits.