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In which I drain my savings account

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Back in December, a natural gas leak was discovered in the crawl space beneath my house. The inspector from Xcel told me that it wasn’t urgent, and that I could have it repaired at my leisure (pronounced “lehh-zhure” in my mind). So this past Friday, I finally had someone come take a look. He shut off the gas, unplugged all of my appliances, and started testing.

Here is how a gas man “tests” for a natural gas leak: he uses a spray bottle of soapy water to mist the joints of your pipes (not an innuendo). If bubbles form, gas is leaking.

Well, bubbles were forming. Gas was leaking. It’s much worse than I was originally told: I need a full (multi-thousand dollar) replacement of all of my gas lines – that is, if I don’t fancy a dramatic death by explosion.

This worker would have started the job when he was here on Friday, except that my gas line actually runs from my cellar out beneath my neighbor’s house, and he will need to access their basement to complete the repair. My neighbors are out of town for the next week – and since the worker said that it would be dangerous to turn my gas back on, I have been gas-less for the past three days, and will be for at least four more.

But don’t cry for me Argentina – it’s basically like fancy camping. I have a comfy bed and electricity – at least, I did until my space heater blew the breaker (momentary setback). I have coffee in the mornings and a microwave to heat up the soup from my freezer. But I don’t have stovetop burners or an oven, a shower with hot water, or heat of any kind. Luckily, this week is off to an unseasonably warm start, so I don’t have to worry about my pipes freezing. I’m cooking in the CrockPot and wearing wool socks and counting my lucky stars not to be dead even though I haven’t taken a proper shower since Thursday.

On Saturday night, I crawled into bed and tucked the covers around myself like a burrito. It was 10:30 or so, because I am geriatric – and even though there was a party with a bonfire raging in the vacant lot across the alley behind my house, I put in earplugs and fell asleep.

When I awoke to shouting and laughter, I figured that I hadn’t been asleep long since the party was still going – but when I looked at the clock, it was 3:45am. “Seriously?” I thought. I walked to my kitchen window and looked outside – and yes indeed, the bonfire was in full force.

So I called 911. (See above: geriatric.)

I asked the operator for the non-emergency line, but she said she could help me. I told her that I needed a squad car (and yes, I called it that) dispatched to break up the party, and after taking down the information, she said she’d send someone as soon as possible.

An hour later, the drum circle started.

At 4:45 in the morning, my neighbors started a drum circle.

So I called back, this time to the non-emergency line like a decent human being (720-913-2000, FYI), and asked the status of my knight in shining cop uniform. They said that the night was busy, and assured me that they would send someone as soon as they could.

I hung up the phone and burst into tears because in that moment I so desperately wanted someone else to fight my battles for me. But then I pulled myself together and tugged on my boots and marched across the alley like a BAMF/high school chaperone, and informed them that they were at least 5 hours past their bedtime and could they PLEASE stop DRUMMING around their BONFIRE.

I didn’t stick around long enough to experience their reaction. I was too mortified at my old lady rage. I did a step-pivot and scurried back across the alley, blessing the darkness for shrouding my face, lest I see these hooligans in the daylight.

I slept from 6-8am, and then got up to go on a hike with Kristen. We made it a half mile before Foxy bounded up a hill and then started limping. After checking her paw for thorns and not finding any, I carried her back to the car, which is kind of like carrying a 4-year old without the benefit of legs that can wrap around your waist. As we drove home, I passed one of those traffic cameras that take your picture if you’re speeding – which I was (54 in a 45, which also happened to be a construction zone). The camera flashed, and I can now look forward to a hefty ticket in the mail.

Foxy’s limp worsened throughout the day and her paw swelled up, so I took her to the emergency vet. The x-rays revealed no breaks, but potential torn tendons. So I spent last night worrying that she would need surgery – but luckily the radiologist called with the report that she should heal up without it [cue the angel choir] and oh by the way, your bill will be $500.

So now it’s Monday and it’s back to work and I’m still without gas and my poor pup is on pain meds and all I want is some roasted vegetables and a bubble bath, and I guess that the moral of the story is that we don’t always get what we want.

Hope you had a better weekend than Foxy’s foot and my bank account.

SadFox_cropped

The sky is falling, and other tales of woe

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Ever had one of those weeks?

Last Monday and Tuesday, I got four parking tickets in 24 hours. My license plates had expired at the end of March (news to me!), and before I could find an opening in my work schedule to hit the DMV, Denver’s parking patrol graced me. Four times.

I have to say, street parking enforcement in Denver is stricter than any other city in which I’ve lived. No matter the offense, THEY WILL CATCH YOU. I’d say that it’s the worst thing about this town, except then I remember how bad the boogers hurt (those who live in dry climates at high altitude surely understand), and allow the parking patrol to drop a notch on the Worst list.

When I finally made it to the DMV, they slapped me with a late fee and sent me on my merry way.

Late last week, I walked out into my backyard to find Foxy chewing on a chicken bone – just, you know, an instrument of canine death. I mentally accused every one of my neighbors of throwing leftover KFC over the fence into my yard, and cursed them along with their children and their children’s children.

The next day I saw a squirrel summit my fence with a chicken thigh in his clutches, and realized that the bone had likely been dropped by a varmint. I released my neighbors from vindictive mental prison, and instead, channeled my anger into psychic BBs aimed at a rodent – which really gets me nowhere (as opposed to despising my neighbors, which is obviously edifying).

When I was stopped at a red light at Colfax & Speer and I offered the homeless man on the corner a granola bar and he refused it, saying he doesn’t eat “that garbage,” I told him that his sign (“Anything helps”) was a lie. And as he walked angrily and aggressively toward my car and I frantically reached for the button to roll up the window, I thought, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME.

On Sunday, May 11, it started to snow. On Monday, May 12, it was still snowing. And just as my soul was withering up to die, my kitchen ceiling caved in* – as did my will to soldier on.

Let me tell you, you think life’s bad, and then your roof collapses*.

I’m leaving tomorrow for a work trip to Minnesota, and 12 hours after I get back, I’m leaving for a week in Nashville. My roof has one job – to keep everything out – and it’s failing. Work is busier than ever. I’m exhausted. There’s a lot of uncertainty in my life that I’m trying to beat back and not give the power to, but it feels impossible. I find myself craving things I don’t need – new clothes and new shoes and plane tickets to take me far away – but I know that they’re just misplaced desires. This ache can’t be fixed by money or things or security or control, all of which are just a fist full of water – the tighter I hold on, the more they slip through my fingers.

“You sound really stressed,” she said. And it was the best possible thing someone could offer – a simple acknowledgement that life feels out of control right now.

My throat got tight. “I am. I’m really stressed. I wish that just one thing was easier right now.” And then, the heart of the matter floated right up to the surface. “I need to find a way to be happy.”

And I’m not talking about a “look for the silver lining,” “there’s always something to be thankful for,” “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” kind of happy. I’m talking about laughing in the face of life’s trials and letting them roll off my back like a wet duck – because life’s too short to dwell on the nonsense. Do I trust that there’s a story bigger than I can see, and that it really doesn’t matter if the sky is falling, because my security lies somewhere other than my circumstances?

This is the question I’m asking myself today – because the older I get, the faster life goes. I don’t want to miss it.

*Very dramatic terms to describe a mere leak – although yes, thank you pessimist friends, I agree that the roofer is probably going to tell me, “There’s no such thing as a ‘mere’ leak.”

Subaruined

Monday, November 21st, 2011

On Friday, I dropped my phone and shattered the screen, rendering it useless.

Irony is contacting the police to tell them that if they in fact find my stolen vehicle, please don’t call me – call my sister instead.

And then I asked, “By the way, any news?” And they said, “No.”

On Friday night, I sat in the living room, listening to feral cats fighting outside the front door. What else was there to do? I couldn’t drive anywhere, and I couldn’t call anyone. This must be what a 50s housewife felt like, when her husband would take the car to work in the city and she would be left stranded at home with no outside contact, speaking only to her mute household companions. Hers were babies. Mine are dogs.

On Saturday morning, I went for a terrible run. My brain felt spiky and sore. Down every street, I searched for my missing car. I quit after 6 1/2 miles, when I was planning on running 10.

Later that afternoon, I got the news (via my sister, who has laryngitis, which makes all of this that much more hilariously complicated) that my car had been recovered, that it was not drivable, and that it had been towed to an impound lot.

So Becca and I drove to the barren wasteland that is the Denver Impound Facility, and claimed poor, vandalized, un-drivable Subaruthless. The inside of the car is completely trashed – the ignition punched out, wires ripped, the dash hammered to sharp little plastic bits. There are no license plates. The car now sits at a body shop, ready for surgery.

But there is a silver lining. Along with everything else in the glove box, guess what’s missing? $100 worth of unpaid parking tickets. I’m not paying anything I can’t find.*

In the meantime, I am still phoneless. All of you boys who are texting me because you want to marry me? I’m not getting those messages. Consider alternate methods of communication, such as pigeon carrier, smoke signal, or a St. Bernard with a note in a tube around its neck.

*Yes, I know.  This could totally backfire on me.

Crash

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Salutations, readers.  Did you think I had abandoned you?

Oh please.

I should begin by saying that the sickness has left my system – literally, and glory hallelujah.  The only person that knows the specifics of my Monday is my mom, and I’m uncomfortable with even her knowing.  It was… I can’t even go there.  Let’s change the subject.

So here I am, back in Denver.

Time, catapult me out of August already.  August has spread me thinner than a hipster – and it isn’t even over yet.  I hate running on no reserves.

I’ve said before that I believe that our number one act of spiritual worship should be getting enough sleep.  Last weekend, Greta told me that she recently read that the most important factor in a woman’s happiness is whether or not she is well-rested.  How do parents of babies function?  This is an absolute mystery to me.  I don’t even own a house plant, and yet I am crashing – crashing like… why is the only metaphor I can think of “like Kanye at a Taylor Swift speech”?

See.  Crashing.

When I’m crashing, I lose creativity, and get all inconsolable about things like the cardboard box in the corner of my living room.  It’s just sitting there – but it’s just been sitting there since I moved in in January.  I don’t know where to put it.  I don’t know what to do with it.  It’s just THERE, taunting me with its displacement.

Twenty-eight years old is too old to get zits – but then again, Annie Parsons has never been a quitter.

I get irrationally annoyed at bad writing (in the interest of spying on people, I subscribe to some truly horrible blogs), and text messages in which every sentence ends in exclamation points!!!!  This is not the way you talk!!!!!  Calm the hell down!!!  You’re wasting your 160 characters!!!!!

Give my hackles a chance to settle down, and then I’ll tell you about my trip to Seattle last weekend.  Crashing or not, I can tell you right now that it was blissful.

Have I mentioned my state of physical woe?

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Last Thursday morning, I was in a car accident.  Don’t worry – the Honda’s fine – or, at least she will be after the other guy’s insurance pays for a new $750 bumper.  Do you know what this means?  I am losing my bumper stickers.  All of them.  No more “FRESH BEER.”  No more “VIVA NASHVEGAS: EAT MORE RHINESTONES.”

This is probably for the best.

While my car will be spiffed up in no time, I am suffering the effects of whiplash.  My lash was whipped.  I am stiff and sore, and can barely turn to the left to check my blind spot when I drive.  I don’t even want to think about what further calamity this could lead to for the Honda.

But you can’t keep a badass down, and on Sunday, I walked a grand total of 17 miles – a 9 mile hike south of the city, and then an 8 mile walk back in Denver.  When I finally got home, with the force attainable only by a girl who had just walked 17 miles, I stubbed my toe on the couch.  I stubbed it so hard, so mightily, that I thought I was going to pass out from the pain.

It didn’t take long to figure out that my toe – the same one that I broke back in January – is blasted to smithereens.  I won’t go into the dirty details, but let’s just say that it’s swollen beyond recognition (I’m sorry, are you a toe?), and black, and the bruising wraps around to the bottom of my foot, spidering its way up the ball.

Sorry.  Maybe those were the dirty details.

So that brings us up to the present moment: ice on my foot, heat on my neck, wishing for whiskey.

Good morning.

In other news, look what happened to my sister.  She’s always getting picked up by guys.

Themeless thoughts

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

I love beets.  I really, truly love them.  If I see them on a menu, I will choose beets over almost anything else.

My least favorite color is blue.  I don’t hate it, I would just never pick it for anything.  If I were the captain of a kickball team, I would choose red first, and then green like my new curtains, and then maybe teal.  Yellow would be one of my last choices.  But not as last as blue.  Blue would be the last one standing.

My left ring toe – the one next to the pinky toe – is broken.  Or something.  I have a tendency to overreact to physical ailments, so it’s hard to tell – but something is definitely wrong with it.  All of a sudden, it’s gigantic – Elmer Fudd might as well have dropped an anvil on his foot.  The weird thing is that it doesn’t really hurt – but it’s swollen and purple.  I still ran for 40 minutes last night, though.  That probably didn’t help.

When I run, I listen to what I have been told is the “worst running music ever” – mid-90’s country.  I can’t help it.  The songs are so good.  In the 90’s, Nashville still operated by the principle of “the best song wins” – before it became so politicized and exclusive.  So last night, I was all, “Trisha Yearwood?  Patty Loveless?  Blackhawk?  YES PLEASE.”

These days, at least there’s Lori McKenna.

For as stilted and exhausting as it can be to move to a new city, I am reminded of something that I felt a lot of when I first moved to Nashville: potential.  The first days in a new place have a lonely sweetness to them – quiet possibility.  Each person that I meet might wind up being my friend.  Each road I drive down might lead to a surprise.

So.  Denver, ho.

I just wanted to tell you all of these things today.

I’ll never work(out) in this town again

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

My parents recently enrolled in a gym called Fitness 19 – named such because it’s open 19 hours a day.  Oh, Coloradans – you are so clever with your words!

Due to her recent surgeries, Mom hasn’t been to Fitness 19 in awhile – leaving her membership card available to yours truly.  My workouts on Saturday and Sunday were awesome – convincing me that I might actually acclimate to Mile High altitude, finally get the runner’s booty, and basically win the Nashville half-marathon that I’m registered for in April.  So last night, I went again.

I handed my (mom’s) card to the man behind the counter, and he scanned it.  “Thanks, Susan,” he said.  I smiled at him, and went to the magazine rack to choose some smut to read while on the treadmill.

“Wait – Susan?”

I froze.

“Susan, I think there’s a problem.”

I slowly turned around and faced him.

“Susan, when is your birthday?”

My mind raced.  “June 21.”

“What year?”

My mind raced even faster.  “Nineteen fifty-fii… SHOOT.”  I said it out loud.  “SHOOT.”

“You were not born in the fifties.”

And then, some bizarre calm overtook me.  Like a sociopath, I cooly stated, “You are right.”

He was serious.  “This is not your card.”

Again, conscienceless, “No.  It’s my mom’s.”

He was adamant.  “You cannot work out using another person’s membership.”

“Okay.”  Pregnant pause.  “But can I work out right now?”

He let me run for 40 very awkward minutes on the treadmill.  I ran like I have never run before.  It will be the last that Fitness 19 ever sees of me.

Bad choice

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

I talk to people on the phone all day at work, walking them through various Computer Things.  Yesterday, while the customer’s internet connection was moving slowly and we were waiting for the page to pull up, she decided to make small talk.  She asked me if I’d seen the pictures of the coyote that got hit by the racecar and stuck in the grill – apparently, it’s some amazing “It” email forward out in circulation.

I told her that no, I am out of touch these days.  I don’t even know important things – like if the Taylors are dating – let alone the fate of would-be road-kill.  I am the least “in the know” person around.

So she told me to Google it – to Google “coyote hit by car” – because the pictures are incredible.

Perhaps this goes without saying, and should have been obvious from the start, but THAT WAS THE WORST IDEA EVER AND DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU.

Some nice, relaxing Friday morning quease

Friday, September 25th, 2009

The benefit of being home sick is that I can stay home.

The trade-off is the fact that I might throw up.

I have not thrown up since age 14 – half a lifetime ago.  I’m so nervous.

Who wears short shorts?

Monday, June 29th, 2009

We have a small crisis at the JAM house.  One of us (I’m not saying who) got some bug bites (I’m not saying where) that are now inflamed (I’m not saying how).

(Okay, I am saying how.)

Never put Nair over top of bug bites.

I’ll let you do the math.

Nair is an evil, evil invention.  It DISSOLVES HAIR.  You do realize that that is the same job description held by Drain-O?

Let’s change the subject.

Actually, let’s just leave it at that.