It's not about the house.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Outie Show

I wasn't going to post today. I didn't feel like even turning on the dang computer. I just wanted to stay in bed with my newspapers. The football game's not till tomorrow, and in three short weeks I've forgotten what it's like not to have to spend my Sunday with one eye on the clock, trying to decide if it's time yet to start drinking beer.

But I have to tell you all what happened (even though most of you probably won't read this until tomorrow, I might just forget by then. A steel sieve, this mind of mine, a steeeeel sieve.)

So after the outies were finished drinking beer and scratching themselves and looking at the truck, they trooped inside to drink beer and scratch themselves some more. They do this. We don't mind. We go through two or three 36-packs of Budweiser a week entertaining outies, plus a twelve or so of Heineken for George (my real beer is hidden in a different fridge), but these outies are good to us. George drops everything and comes over to fix the truck for short money and wholesale parts whenever we need him -- I can sure as hell spend twelve dollars on a twelve-pack once in a while.

George is a mechanic by trade, and by calling, but not at a garage. He works in a -- well, where I grew up we always called it the Town Barn. Where they keep the snowplows and, I don't know, sidewalk sweepers and other assorted motor-driven things that belong to the town. He fixes these, along with cop cars and fire trucks, probably garbage trucks too, plus any other engine you slap down in front of him. We've brought him chain saws and weed whackers, lawn mowers and rototillers, those-things-you-use-to-jack-up-the-house, power drills, spin-sanders -- you name it, George can fix it. He even fixed the record player, so I can still have secret frug parties when Johnny goes out of town.

Anyway, while the boys were in the living room talking about scratching themselves, I ducked off to watch a little Dirty Boy in the master bedroom. A little while later, Johnny called for me. "Hey Horse! Is it okay if George uses your computer for a second?"

Of course it is. George can use anything he wants. It would be okay if George wanted to use my toothbrush, though I'd understand if he didn't want to. Plus he knows how to turn the computer on and everything, so I don't even have to get up to accomodate him. After about half an hour, though, I get curious and wander in. This is what I see -- and I didn't take a picture, so you'll have to use your imaginations (you remember how this works: kind of like reading a book).

George is black, handsome, and not big but very fit, in a twelve-years-in-the-Army kind of way. He's seated at the computer showing John B. how to download music. John B., who rides a Harley and fills a doorway, is standing bent over with his hands on his knees just so he can read what's on the screen. Dublin Johnny -- five foot three ("and a half!") -- is slagging on their song choices from his perch on a guitar-stool behind them. And Andy, an overgrown Alfred E. Newman with a beer belly and a sort of cave where his ass is supposed to be, is mostly passed out in the corner, but he rouses himself occasionally to make some drunken comment that has nothing whatsoever to do with anything that's going on. All this in a room that measures 10'x12', and that already holds a day bed, a desk, a steamer trunk, a dresser and a fridge.

So I squish myself next to Andy -- who, in a drunken reflex, tries to grab my ass -- and I settle in to watch this sitcom spontaneously unfolding in my office.

Suddenly, out of the blue, George turns to me and says "Hey, Erin, what's the story with Mike Rowe?"

What? How did you know about my love for Dirty Boy? How did you know what I was doing in my bedroom? Go back to being sitcom outies, that was funny, this is just embarrassing!

But the thing is, George doesn't even sound as if he's teasing. He seems to be asking me a serious question. And I really don't know how to answer. Am I actually going to explain, in front of four grown men -- one of whom is mostly unconscious, but another of whom is my husband, so between the two of them they count as at least one and a half, so -- am I actually going to explain to three and a half grown men exactly why the Dirty Boy makes my virgin teeth sweat?

Apparently I've taken too long to answer, and apparently my confusion is showing, because George minimizes the screen he's working on and there, for all and sundry to clap eyes on, is my computer wallpaper (which, at separate times and unbeknownst to one another, Johnny and Andy have both told me looks like Ernest Goes To Camp):

Oh. Yeah. You turned my computer on without me. Whoops.

The point turns out to be, however, that George loves Dirty Boy almost as much as I do (though he does insist on calling him Mike Rowe) -- only in a completely manly and heterosexual kind of way. All the boys down at Town Barn do, apparently, and they give him hella respect. George talked about him reverentially, almost, and we traded moments from our favorite episodes. It was fun. I've never talked about the show before. Well, not much. To anyone but Charlie. Who's an innie, despite her name. And who loves me very much. But who has to be getting a little sick of listening to me drool.

So we chatted for a little while, me and George, about Mike Rowe and his Dirty Show. And then Andy, from the day bed behind me, growled "You just want to get in his pants!"

Everybody told him to shut the fuck up, George ashed his cigarette on him, which led John B. to complain about all the second-hand smoke he was breathing in this tiny room, so Johnny farted on him -- and I went back to being a member of the studio audience again.

The Outie Show has been brought to you tonight by Marlboro and Budweiser, with special consideration from Heineken and Newports. No actual outies were harmed in the making of this episode. The actor playing Andy slept over at the AssVac, because Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Home When They're Too Drunk To Remember Not To Grab Their Friend's Wife's Ass.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Innies vs. Outies

John B. showed up before George did, but George is here now. And Andy just called saying he was on his way, too.

It's a boy party out there in my driveway!

When they went out to look at Chuck, they invited me to come along (because, ahem, I'm the only one who drives him), but I demurred. I don't know anything about cars. I wish I did -- oh, my lordy how I wish I did -- but I don't. And Johnny knows as well as I do what's been happening when I turn the key. So I figured I would just be in the way.

This boy/girl thing? I don't want to harp on it, but it's true. I didn't used to think it was -- I used to vehemently deny the possibility of any such sexist thing -- but, eleven years into this heterosexual relationship, I now acknowledge that it's true.

They're different, those outies. And as much as we innies try to tolerate their foibles and ponder over what might be going through their outie minds, I think they're a little bit afraid of us. So I didn't want to be out there, leaning over the engine and knowing nothing, possibly making some one of them scared to speak his mind.

But I have to just point out, now that they're finished and have come back to report, it turns out the problem is the starter motor. Which is what I said it was two weeks ago. And Mommie Dearest confirmed it (a proud innie her ownself). This was before Andy said it was the battery and replaced it for me. Before John B. decided it was a bad wire. Before George got here and did the diagnostics. And before Johnny claimed to have "said it was the starter all along."

I'm sorry, what was that you said, my dear? Oh yes, I heard you this time...

Innies rule!

But don't tell the outies that I said so. Chuck (TFT) still needs to get fixed, and this innie hasn't learned how to do that yet.

A Philosophical Dilemma

IF Chuck (TFT) has not been starting lately, and...

IF I got stranded at the grocery store this morning, and...

IF I left my hated cell phone on the desk in my office, and...

IF I used my only quarters calling Johnny instead of AAA, and...

IF, when I got back to it, TFT started after all, and...

IF I decided to drive straight to the garage, but...

IF I remembered that I had some bags of groceries, so...

IF I went home first and left TT running in the driveway while Johnny and I emptied it and yelled at each other for a while, and...

IF he insisted that I wait to bring it to the garage until he called George to see if he could fix it, and...

IF George's cell phone died in the middle of the conversation, so we had no idea if he was coming out or not, and...

IF Johnny told me to just F take TFT to TF garage, but...

IF I decided to be the stubborn ass I am and I refused (I sure showed him), and...

IF I started cleaning my office instead (if only so as to find TF cell phone), and...

IF I was halfway through the job and sweating when the phone rang, and...

IF it was George, saying he'd be over to fix TFT as soon as he gets out of work...


Do I have to put a bra on?

Another Fine Mess

This is what I'm up against for today:

My office.

It's pretty.

I decorated it myself.

No wonder I can't get any work done. Not even the toilet roll is in its proper place.
But at least my closet looks good!

Friday, September 28, 2007

He's Home

We scratched together.



Oo, Oo, Oo

There's a new lottery in Massachusetts. It's called the Billion Dollar Blockbuster. It's a scratch ticket, and it costs twenty dollars, which is absurd. But they say it has the best odds ever (which I don't know what that means, but anyway), and you have a chance of winning up to ten million dollars -- plus, everybody who wins anything at all gets entered in a second-chance sweepstakes that pays one lucky bastard a million dollars a year for LIFE (guaranteed at least twenty mil to your survivors if you go all Alanis and die the next day).

Now, I know I said I hate the gamblers. But I also said my husband is one. He lusts after scratch tickets like I do the Dirty Jobs guy (we know this about each other, it's okay). We've been hearing about this new game on the radio all week, and today he got paid for the first time since the ides of August.

So in the car on the way home tonight I asked him: "Are you going to buy one of those new twenty-dollar tickets?"

"One," he said. "I'm going to buy one. Twenty dollars is too much for a scratch ticket. I can win just fine for less than that. But yeah, I'm going to buy one. Why?"

"Well -- and understand I'm not telling you to buy one, or asking you to do so -- but if you are going to buy one of them... would you please bring it home and scratch it with me, your lovely wife, instead of scratching it with the boys up at the pub?"

Partly, I want to be there if he wins ten million dollars -- which is not entirely unlikely, considering that he's won a bunch before -- but mostly, even if he wins a lesser amount, I don't want him whooping it up at the place where he's been known to get a little what-did-I-do-last-night.

He agreed.

Now, as you know, Chuck (TFT) has been acting up lately. He doesn't sometimes want to start. So we've fallen into a routine where I pick Johnny up at work and we run all necessary errands as a team: I drive to all the necessary places, and I stay in the parking lot with the engine running while Himself goes in and buys the chit.

Johnny got out of work early this afternoon, and the agenda was: bank, Tedeschi's (a convenience store like 7-11), packie (for IPA), then dropping Johnny at the pub, then I'd take my own sorry self home because he got out early so there's still time left for me to get more work done and get some more chit in the mail.

But when Johnny came out of Tedeschi's, he flipped me this piece of multi-colored cardstock and said "There you go. Don't scratch it till I get there."

Oh my.

So now he's up at the pub, and I'm sitting here with this twenty-dollar -- possibly ten-million-dollar -- scratch ticket, which is calling for me from the other room (I put it up on a high shelf, so I would not be tempted, but let's not kid ourselves: I put it there, I can get it down).

I'm not going to do it. I'm not. He would oh-my-god so freaking kill me. If I scratched it, I would have to go and buy another one even if this one was the one.

But he'd better get home soon. If he doesn't, I know I'm going to grab the damn ticket and try to drive up to the pub. If I do, and if Chuck (TFT) should then refuse to start, I can't be held responsible for what happens next.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Here's Where I Admit That I'm A Big, Big Baby

continued from the post below

Nothing hurt. Nothing that he did in what turned out to be just three measly hours actually hurt. The novocain made my heart pound really badly for a while -- does that happen to people? I thought about telling him, but then I figured if it was going to kill me I'd be dead already so I just shut up.

But here's the thing: I'm 38 years old. The very first filling that I've ever had in my whole life was Tuesday. This tooth that I am now re-root-canalling? I broke it -- just a little bit -- biting into something hard and stupid that I don't even remember anymore, and I just didn't get around to seeing a dentist till it abscessed. That was the only thing I've ever had go wrong in my mouth, ever. Even my baby teeth. The endodontist who did it eleven years ago actually said to me that he would never see a dentist either if he had teeth like mine.

So when Dr. German really looked into my mouth for the first time, he gasped. "Your teeth are beautiful!" he enthused. "And virgin!"

I don't remember the last time any part of me was described either of those ways.

But I'm starting to get a little bored with this (as Sandy called it) epic tale. And since I've still got three hours of it left, I'm going to just give you some highlights:

-> I have to wear plastic goggles over my eyes so the bits of the old crap that he's drilling out don't blind me. He wears them, too. That's reassuring.

-> Another student comes in to peek and spends ten minutes saying how re-treats are such a pain in the ass and how the scheduler must really hate him for making him do this. Dr. German gives her a proper Miss-Manners cut.

-> Once he's got the old crap out, he has to vibrate the post that's in there to wiggle it loose. He does it with a teeny-tiny, well, vibrator. He does it for about ten minutes, alternately yanking on it with a pair of teeny-tiny pliers, but it will not budge. He says if this won't work we'll have to use a tool that's called -- get this -- a "post remover." Huh. How'd they come up with that? Finally he calls for the instructor to ask if we should use that, but he calls it something else and painful-sounding (the nerve-shattering, scream-inducing, agony machine - or something like that) but the instructor says no, keep using the wee vibrator for 5 or 10 more minutes; it will work. He's right. Except for it takes 25.

-> At some point, I have a giggle fit because I imagine myself with one of those sheets draped like they give ladies when they have caesarians -- the blue ones, propped up, so you don't have to see the gore. I picture a napkin-sized one draped across my nose, so I don't have to see what Dr. German's doing. Then I remember I can just close my eyes. (I did not have nitrous oxide, in case you're wondering.)

-> Dr. German tells me I am really very smart for figuring out that the chloroform he's using to dissolve the rubber that's inside my tooth, could also disintegrate the rubber in the dental dam. He does not repeat himself when this actually happens and the disinfectant goes running down my throat, making me feel like I swallowed one of those giant pills I drop down the back of the toilet, and I gasp and cough and choke and splutter and try to spit it out right through what's left of the dental dam even though my mouth is propped so wide open that trying to spit is like trying to move my hair.

-> He puts a little chloroform in there, lets it sit for a minute, takes a special tool and pokes around. This yields the tiniest, eentsiest little speck of rubber -- which he feels obligated to keep showing me; I'd rather he didn't but I'm in no position to argue. Then he puts another drop of chloroform in there and waits again. The whole process brings to mind the two years I spent stripping woodwork in the living room.

-> Long about hour two and a half I decide that if they're going to make you sit in these things for this long, they really ought to make them massage chairs like at the pedicure. Maybe not up around the shoulders -- wouldn't want my head rolling around while the Doc's in there with all his whatevers -- but between this appointment and the next two, I could have probably got rid of my back crick once and for all.

-> Oh yeah, so "next two." Because we ran out of time before we ran out of rubber in my tooth. So instead of one more of these appointments, I will have two. Plus the other two for the other fillings. Hm. Maybe I should ask about the nitrous, after all.

-> Except I don't actually have the appointments yet, because we were there so late all the receptionists went home. I was supposed to call first thing yesterday, but I didn't. I will call as soon as I post this thing, I swear.

-> And when I got back to Chuck, he'd got himself a parking ticket. It's not his fault. When I put the quarters in the meter, I didn't know that I was never coming back.

I just called. Goddammit. My next appointment is on Wednesday at 1:00. Next one with Dr. German, that is. I've got another filling going in Tuesday at 10:00. I really picked the wrong month to quit sniffing glue.

Here's Where It All Goes To Hell

continued from the post below

So we're about to begin. But it's coming on 2:30 now, and I'm supposed to pick up Johnny at quarter to four. So before Dr. German puts anything into my mouth, I ask him how long he thinks that this might take.

"Oh," says he. "This is a four-hour appointment. Re-treat. Four hours. The appointment is 1:00-5:00."

"But it's," I say, "and we haven't."

And this is where I start to cry.

"Didn't anybody tell you?" Dr. German asks me.

"No," I whimper. And it's not true that I'm actually crying yet. But it's coming. I have to get out.

"This is the point I usually ask people if they have to go to the bathroom," says Dr. German. I am a terrible person for having suspected he might be a masochistic freak.

So I grab my (okay, sometimes they're useful) cell phone and I follow his hastily-explained directions to the ladies' room. In the stall, I dial Johnny. Then I remember that I think it's disgusting when I hear people talking on their cell phones from the bathroom stall, so even though I'm not really peeing anyway, I wander out. And then out of the bathroom all together, because it doesn't seem very couth to be chatting while someone else tries to pee.

Larry answers. I was actually calling Larry -- Johnny's boss -- but usually when I call Larry's cell phone he knows it's me and hands the phone to Johnny. But of course I'm calling from my cell phone, which I've never done before, so he doesn't know it's me and so he answers.

"Johnny?" I say, too distraught to recognize a voice.

"No," says Larry, "this is Larry. You've called Larry's cell phone."

"Oh," I say, "can I please speak to Johnny?"

Larry heaves a gut-busting sigh and says, "He's in another building..." He's pissed that I called. His girlfriend calls him a dozen times a day, but he's pissed that I called his phone for Johnny for the second time in eleven years.

"You don't have to get him," I say, "can you just -- here's the deal." And I told him.

"You're not going to be out of there till six?" he says. And while you may think this sounds like sympathy for me, it isn't. He's pissed.

"No," I say. "Can you tell him, please? And can you ask him to call George?" Because, remember, the car wouldn't start this morning and George is supposed to be coming at 5:00 to have a look.

"But what--"

"I don't know, Larry. I have to go back in now." Because if I talk about this any longer, I will have a temper-tant for real.

And I hang up.

I get back to the room and Dr. German's in there, but he leaves again for something. Maybe to let me collect myself. While I sit and wait, my cell phone rings. I know it will be Johnny and it is. Talking to him, telling him he's going to have to figure out his own way home because Larry's being a dick and won't give him a ride anywhere, makes me actually really cry for good. But what can I do?

At least Dr. German isn't back yet. I've collected myself and I'm sitting in the seat, reading my book, when suddenly I realize that I've just been crying and it's going to be a couple hours until I can blow my nose again. I look around for a tissue -- doctor's offices always have a box of tissues somewhere -- but all I see is a paper-towel dispenser. Apparently dentist's offices don't always have a box of tissues somewhere.

Just as I heave myself up off the seat to get myself a length of paper towel to blow my sniffly nose, Dr. German walks back in. He's so embarrassed, he acts like he caught me with my pants down.

"I'm sorry I don't have anything softer," he says. "Do you want me to go get you some toilet paper -- er, I mean, a tissue?"

Somehow, I love him for the fact that his brain went straight to the toilet roll. We know I have a predilection for that sort of thing.

to be continued

(and, for some reason, I feel compelled to inform you that, for all the times it occurs in this continuing-stoooory, I have not yet managed to type the word "continued" without an error in it. I've fixed them all, to this point, but I'm done. Obviously I have some sort of hangup, and I might as well just share.)

Here's What They Meant By Risks

continued from the post below

"Oh," says Dr. German. "Did they not have you sign a release form the last time you were in here?"

Um, I signed a lot of things, but I don't think--

"Telling you about all the horrible things that could go wrong which would necessitate us rushing you to surgery and perhaps even you dying?"

Okay, so he didn't really say that. But no, I hadn't signed anything like that. So I had to wait again while he went and got the form and came back and read it to me. It said if this happens then we need to extricate. It said if some other thing happens then we need to do an implant. It said if this thing they think is true turns out not to be the case, then I will need surgery. It said it's possible that this little tool we use could break off inside your tooth and if that happens then there's no way to get it out so you just have to live with it forever (I didn't ask what the implications were for leaving the little pieces in there. I hope at least they'd give me a doctor's note for airport security. Because I'm going somewhere as soon as I'm done paying for this torture, that's for sure.).

There were other things, but I wasn't 100% listening. When he said "If [something], then it could cause you problems later." I said "Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a second. The whole reason I'm doing this is that I understood if I didn't do it I might have problems later. If I'm going to have problems later anyway, then maybe we could just skip this?" I didn't really grab my bag and stand up, but mentally I did.

No, no, no, he said. He was just telling me the small print. The fast-talker stuff at the end of the commercial. None of that was likely to befall me (because I have such good luck with this sort of thing. Dr. German doesn't know me very well, do he? Do he remember the fire alarm, and the deleted record, and the x-ray machine that didn't work?).

Fine, whatever. Give me the form.

I was supposed to initial each of nine different points and then sign on the bottom. I know it's so unlike me, but, just in case, I read it before I signed. I decided as I read it to ask for another copy so I could come home and quote it here verbatim, but I forgot (actually, this one time it's not true that I forgot, but if I tell you what really happened I'd spoil the surprise). The one part of it that still sticks in my mind went something like this (the words are paraphrased, but all emphasis is theirs):

"After we're done with you, you're not really done. We're only going to put on a temporary crown. You MUST, as soon as possible after you leave here, go to your other dentist and get a real actual crown. If you don't, there will INEVITABLY [that is really the word they used] be problems, which WILL include: blah-de-blah blah blah and BREAKAGE OF THE TOOTH [okay, that emphasis is mine]."

Well, hell. If Dr. Whoever had made me sign one of these eleven years ago, I sure as shinola would not be sitting here right now.

Yes, okay, this time I'll get the crown.

to be continued

Here's Where It Gets Ugly

continued from the post below

Because oh, yeah, I forgot to mention: this was B.U. dental school I was endodonting at. These folks are only learning how to endodont. Dr. German made sure to explain to me that he had gone here to dental school and practiced for seven years (in, ahem, Ft. Lauderdale -- is my gaydar on target or what?), and that he had done three of these procedures already this week and they'd all gone well. So I wasn't so concerned that he didn't know what he was doing, but I wasn't so thrilled that, almost an hour in to my appointment and having gotten nowhere, we now had to wait for some phantom instructor.

I pulled out my book.

Dr. German looked at his notes.

We waited.

And we waited.

And we waited.

Finally Dr. German got up to look for him. "He's with somebody now," he reported upon return. "There's one more person before us, and then we're up."

So we waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

Then Dr. German said "I'm just going to go hang on his elbow, so's he doesn't manage to sneak away."

So he left and I waited.

And waited.

And -- oh hey, here they are!

Instructor looked at the pictures on the screen, said "Yup, as long as she understands all the risks involved in the procedure, then you can carry on."

Um, risks?

to be continued

Here's How It Went On

continued from the post below

He wasn't old at all! In fact he might have been younger than me, which means -- wow -- you can go to dental school instead of high school these days (because I am so very young, you see). He was really tall -- at least 6'4", I'd say -- and sort of handsome in a shy, retiring kind of way. Like he used to be the fat kid in junior high and he never quite got over it. Plus I'm pretty sure he's gay.

Yay! If you can't have a woman, get a gay man I always say!

He apologized for being late, explained that he was outside with the fire trucks, and walked me through to our room. Talked to me a bit about my broken tooth, read my chart, confirmed my allergies and everything, and then called my file up on the computer.

Ahem: called my file up on the computer.

Well, gosh. It appeared that my file had been deleted somehow. Which means we're going to have to take a few more x-rays so he can see just what is going on.

Oh poop. I mean, x-rays don't hurt or anything but they do take time, and I really just can't wait until I'm done out of here. But there was nothing to be done about that, so he set up the thing and put the thing on me, put the other thing in my mouth and lined up the last thing (I think those are the technical terms for all of it, at least), then ducked out of the room.

I'm no dentist, but I know that when the little pop up box on the computer screen says "Error," then that means there's something wrong. He tried like nineteen times, but the x-ray machined wouldn't take my picture. And it's not that I'm a vampire, and it's not that I'm invisible -- Dr. German could see me perfectly well, and I had walked myself there in broad daylight, so I know.

He tried taking a picture of the drill, just in case. If the picture of the drill worked, then it was me that was the problem after all. But it didn't. Phew. I guess. So he said what we all say when this sort of thing happens to us:

"I'm going to go ask the IT guy to come down and take a look."

So he went away for a while and I took my book out and read ten pages or so while I waited. When Dr. German came back he said -- oh come on, say it with me -- "He told me to unplug everything and boot back up."

Why is it that this is always the answer, and yet none of us ever try it until the IT guy tells us to?

So he did, and he tested it on the drill thing first, and it worked, so he lined it up on my face and voila. Fifty minutes in to my one o'clock appointment, we at last had a picture of my tooth.

"Now," he said, "the instructor has to come have a look before we can get started."

to be continued

Here's How It Continued

Continued from the post before...

After about a half an hour the alarm went off, the fire trucks drove away, the people petered back in (can you peter in? I've only ever petered out, but I like the sound of it). Five minutes or so after that, I heard my name.

Now, I have to back up a bit and explain that the woman I saw last week was very nice, and I assumed I would be seeing her today. I knew the name on my appointment card was not the same as hers, but it was the same name that had been on my check-in slip last week -- so I thought maybe she'd just gotten married or something and hadn't gotten a new nametag yet. Or something.

But when I checked in, they referred to my doctor as a him, and there's just no way she got reassigned that quickly.

Now, call me crazy, but I prefer a woman dentist. Man doctors, for some reason, but woman dentists. And the woman (whose last name on her tag I now know was for real) was Japanese. I have no feelings about that either way but -- and I'm sure this is politically incorrect on some level but I'm being honest here -- this name was German. Very German. I don't know why, but I had visions of some 70-year-old Auschwitz survivor with shaky hands, who would yell at me for never having got the crown put on eleven years ago.

I started to sweat a little when I realized this, but I began to shake in earnest when Dr. German called my name.

To be continued...

Here's How It Started

Well, it started with the truck not starting, but you knew about that already.

And I'll skip the part about the taking a half hour to find a parking spot and then finally finding one and having to dig through the truck for quarters because that's pretty de rigeur.

So my appointment was at 1:00. I have a habit of being early. For everything. But especially for doctor's appointments. I find that if you're early, they'll often take you early, but if you're on time they make you sit there until you're 45 minutes late. So I like to be early.

But in this place it doesn't matter. The procedure here is that they check you in, and then they wait until the very second that your appointment is, and then they page your dentist. So however long it takes him/her to come from wherever he/she was, that's how late you start off, no matter what time you arrived.

It's no so bad, really. Having been early and all I watched the process happen a few times, and the doctors usually came withing five minutes. So when 1:00 rolled around, and they paged mine, I thought I knew what to expect.

But the fire alarm wasn't what I expected at all.

It started with just the flashing light, which takes a minute to even register out of the corner of your eye. Then a tone sounded and a voice came on: "This alarm means a threat has been determined to a portion of the building. At this time we will only evacuate the portion of the building known to be threatened. Listen for your floor's alarm tone at the end of this message, and if you hear it, then find the nearest staircase and exit calmly. If you don't hear your alarm tone, then you may remain in the building."

Well, that's reassuring.

So the message repeated itself while we all sat there staring at the red box on the wall and wondering if the building was going to blow up before we even got to the end, but it didn't. And when she was finished talking, a tone sounded for abou two seconds and stopped.

But was it the tone? Nobody could be sure. This one said that was the generic tone and our tone would sound different, but she couldn't say what it would sound like. This one over here said she'd heard a completely different tone in her office -- was still hearing it, in fact. Finally it was determined that we didn't have to go anywhere.

So I stayed in my seat by the window and watched the whole rest of the building pour out onto the sidewalk. Watched the fire trucks arrive and the firemen pour out of them. Hey, I'd already paid the lady for my appointment and it wasn't cheap. I wasn't going to walk out until I smelled smoke.

But apparently my doctor was.

To be continued...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dental Damn

Did you know cholorform dissolves latex, just like vaseline does? Damn, there goes my weekend...

Here's how my day went: I got caught in traffic on the way home, and in the end I couldn't make it home to pee, so I pulled off at the grocery store -- because after a day like mine I figured I might as well pick up some beer while I was at it.

The toilet stall I chose (out of necessity, because one was gross and one was occupied) had pee all over the seat -- and I was glad. Because when I reached in for toilet paper to wipe it off, I realized there was no toilet paper.

So I spread my legs reaallyy wide and tapped my feet, because everybody knows that's the international symbol for "Hey baby, can you spare a square?"

I'm going to try to write now about the day I had, but I'm also trying to see how many beers I can drink before I pass out, so we'll see who wins.


Chuck (TFT) wouldn't start this morning.

Remember how I said yesterday about how he's been giving trouble lately, and how I'm not decent in the morning and all that? Well, this morning we went out to take Johnnby to work (Johnnby -- I like it. I think I'll call him that one from now on), and I turned the key and I got nothing.

Sometimes lately it'll give one feeble turnover -- wa -- and then nothing, but usually on the second or third try it goes. But this morning, no wa, no nothing, no matter how I tried.

So I sat there in the same hot-weather pjs outfit I decribed yesterday -- no, actually, I was less decent: I had on a wife-beater undershirt instead of a T -- and I turned the key and I pumped the gas, even though I knew it was going to do anything because it's like a reflex for those of us over a certain age, and I told Johnny to get out and give the thing a shove because someone told us to give that a try because the problem might be a tooth missing on the flywheel (or maybe I'm just projecting). And I screamed "F-WORD!" every time I turned the key and got nothing but a single click.

Then I realized that my window was open and so were the windows in the houses of everyone who all summer closes up with air conditioning but they'd already put their window units away for the season and weren't going to haul them back down from the attic just because it's freakishly hot in practically-October. Hello, neighbors! F-word, I say!

Finally I gave up and called AAA. I didn't think the problem was the battery -- considering the fact that this was happening last week, and I did think it was the battery then so I replaced it -- but in my experience, nine times out of ten if you call AAA the problem will fix itself before they get there (unless the problem is a flat tire, in which case some random friendly stranger will come along with a lug-bit on a drill to loosen that stubborn nut for you).

AAA put me on hold for like, freaking ever, so while I was on hold with them on the cordless phone in one ear, I called Larry on my cell phone in the other to tell him Johnny was going to be late for work (Johnny was in the jakes at this point, pooping pennies). Larry's phone rang three times and just as he picked up, AAA came on the other line. Confused, I slammed the cell phone closed.

Grand, now not only is Larry standing around wondering where Johnny is because he's supposed to be arriving at work right this very second -- now he also thinks Johnny just called him and hung up. He probably thinks he quit or something. Oh well, AAA...

Do you know, in the past I have preached evangelical about the American Automobile Association. I've not understood why anyone would own a car and not sign up. I've even suggested it to some folks who don't own cars, because if you're a member they'll help you anywhere -- with a rental, or a friend's car, or anything. Bravo. But for the first time in seventeen years of membership, this morning I felt condescended to.

First of all the on-hold had all these recordings trying to sell me things, which they never used to do. Second, I don't know what kind of emergency they're having on a beautiful morning in September -- I've never been on hold this long in an ice storm in March. And when someone finally did come on the line, he wanted to sell me a new battery and then, when I said no, he questioned my ability to judge what was really wrong.

"You just have no power then, Miss? You think maybe you might have left your lights on last night or something?"

Balls to you , man, I know when I need a jump start. And I happen to know I don't particularly need one this morning right this second, but I know that if I sit here any longer trying to start it through whatever's really wrong, I sure as hell will need a jump start soon. I just want to know you folks are on your way. So hop to!

He told me it would take an hour and gave me my confirmation number. I called Larry back -- he didn't answer this time, great -- and left a message telling him the f-word car wouldn't start and the f-word AAA had me on hold which is why I hung up on him, and they were coming now but they were going to take an f-word hour, at which point the f-word bridge was scheduled to go up, so Johnny would hitch the closest flying pig and be there as soon as f-word possible.

Then I got dressed, so as to be marginally decent when the AAA guy came. Then I went out to wait in the car for him. Then while I was sitting there I decided I might as well run down the battery trying to start it, since he was on his way with a jump and all, and so I turned the key...

And Chuck (TF-wordT), F-wording started.

So I took my house keys off my keychain with the car key in the ignition, ran in the house, hollered for Johnny (who yelled "F-word!"), grabbed my wallet and etc., and called AAA to cancel (they picked right up on this one). Johnny made a quick call to George to come look at the F-word car this evening for us, and we were off.

I fully expected and planned to get stuck behind the bridge on my way home, but that sign is never right. I drove over the bridge at 8:01 and there was no evidence of any planned opening in sight.

I have to go now. The F-word truck has to start for me three more times today before George gets a look at it, so here's hoping (this is not what we're praying for, so don't waste my mojo; if I have to take a cab to the dentist's office, I'll be fine).

But I did just hear a big boat blow it's big boat-horn, so I suspect I may get caught on the bridge on my way out. I'm going to leave Chuck running the whole half-hour if I do, and I don't give an F-word about global warming.

The REAL Secret

I'm going to share The Secret with you, because I have things Out There, and I need the universe to Respond. You may use this Very Special Secret yourselves if you promise to use it for Good and never for Ill or Vegas. It is a powerful Secret, and always, always works. So, in the interest of getting Prudence what she wants and dearly deserves because Lord knows she's worked hard enough for it...

Please to repeat after me:

O Elvis, who art King
Lift up my spirits
Fill my heart with song
Love me tender
Protect me from those who would do me harm
And keep my blue suede shoes
Forever from impurity


If you wanted to light a candle while you said it, I wouldn't go standing in your way.

Oh, and I may ask you to do this one more time later, but if it works this time I may not need to. I promise to report back on the results.

(And when I have the results, I promise to tell you what the Priscilla you were praying for.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Somehow, I Deserved This

So I dropped Johnny off at work this morning (yay!), and when I drop Johnny off at work in the morning, I don’t always get all the way dressed myself. Decent, yes. Decent enough so if the car breaks down I won’t humiliate myself in front of god and the AAA guy? Not so much.

It’s unseasonably hot this week here in Massachusetts. They’re predicting temperatures in the mid-90s. So, despite the fact that it’s the last week in September, I drove him to work this morning wearing my summer pjs: a ratty old t-shirt and a pair of Hanes-for-her cotton sleep shorts. No bra, no underwear, no problem – and no, Chuck (TFT) did not break down. He’s been playing his share of tricks lately, but we made it there and I made it back just fine.

Except for the fact that it took an hour and a half for what should have been a 30 minute drive. The g-d bridge was up. We left early because the sign said it was opening at 7:00 but the sign is never right and it opened at 6:40. So we had to go the long way around with everybody else in the entire universe, and by the time we got around to where we wanted to be on the other side (45 minutes, it took, to go essentially a mile and a half) the bridge was down again. Naturally. So we picked up all the just-coming-over traffic, too.

But that’s not the point of my story. I got home in plenty of time to shower and get to my dentist’s appointment. Phew. A quick pee before I get in the shower and –


What the hell was that? A penny? Where the hell did a penny come from? It couldn’t have fallen out of my pocket, I don’t have any pockets in these sleep shorts. Oh my god, it was stuck to my ass! It was on the car seat, and my shorts rode up, and I sat on it for an hour and a half, and Abe pushed his honest little face right into my butt cheek and stuck fast. I carried the copper in the house with me thusly – I even checked my email with it on there! – and then I carried it into the bathroom where it fell off when I sat down.

Nice. Lovely. Well, at least it didn’t—


What the hell was that? Another one!? What am I, a freaking change machine? This one, though, did not land on the tile. This one went in the drink. The head. The bog, the jakes, the crapper – and I’ve already peed.

I’ve heard of throwing money down the toilet but this is ridiculous. I don’t have time to deal with this right now. I lowered the lid to remind myself not to use or flush it, and I showered and dressed and went to get my tooth filled. Went to feed the cats. Went to pick up Johnny’s prescriptions. Went to fill the car with gas. Went to…

Anybody else need anything done while I’m out here doing things? Maybe that root canal? Or another big ship maybe needs to get under the bridge? I can sit here if you want to raise it, I don’t mind.

No? Crap.

So I came home and I checked for email and for comments on my blog (why didn’t any of you people write to me?!), and then I sucked it up and put on the rubber glove…

It’s done, it’s finished, and that’s all you need to know. There are no more pennies in my plumbing. Or in my posterior, thank you very much.

I imagine I deserved that, after the puerile post I wrote this morning. But the next time I have a dirty job like that to do, I’ll just close my eyes and think of – well, you know.

Not England, that's for bloody sure!

I Know It When I (Don't) See It

I’m off to the first of what will be, before it’s over, a grand total of four dentists appointments in a single calendar week – two for fillings (the third filling-appointment falls in a different week all together, so that one will be a piece of cake), and two to re-root canal the tooth that fell apart. Beats me how you re-take out a root that went down the drain eleven years ago, but I guess that’s because I went to college for something else instead of sadistic stick-your-fingers-in-a-bunch-of-strangers’-mouths school.

Some other day, I’ll tell you all about how I managed to get myself in this oral predicament (I’m sure you’re chomping at the bit, waiting with baited breath, drooling in anticipation – badump-bump) but for now I you might like to chew on this (badump…) while I suffer stoically my acts of contrition for my sins of omission by a dental technician (…bump! oh, I’m hot this morning).

I was reading this book, which you should all read and which I bought because a friend was reading it and I already love the author from his column in Esquire. I had to buy it because I don’t even really know this friend in real life, so I couldn’t just steal it from her when she was done. Something I would never do anyway, never, because everyone should buy books at full cover price because authors (and their Super Agents) need to be getting themselves some kind of paid. Remember that. (Actually, you can just file it away. I’ll remind you later when it’s really important. Anyway…)

I was reading this book (still) and there’s an essay in there all about how Pamela Anderson is (or was) the Marilyn Monroe of our times (of our younger times – this essay is like ten years old). I’m not going to go into the whole thing here, but feel free to leave a comment if you disagree or buy the book and read it for yourself if you want to see what it is you’re disagreeing with before you leave a comment – either way, no skin off my teeth. But in the essay, he talks a lot about The Tape.

He seems to assume that we’ve all seen it. Tommy’s monster schlong and Pammy’s barely literate paean to it. He acted like it was the goddamn Charlie Brown Christmas special or something, the way he referenced portions of it and expected us to just know what he was talking about. That sad little tree that with a modicum of love and attention from Our Hero becomes a mighty tannenbaum. Or something.

But I’ve never seen it.

I’ve heard about it, sure. And it’s not at all fair to say I couldn’t understand his references without the visual imagery in my mind, but still. I finished the essay feeling like I’d missed out on something. He makes a compelling argument: Pamela Anderson just might be the Marilyn Monroe of our time. And if she is, then this tape is her Some Like It Hot (or at least her Some Like It a-couple-more-adjectives-that-I-won’t-list-because-I-know-my-Nana-and-Mommie-Dearest-are-out-there-somewhere).

It’s not that I’m a prude; I’ve never seen anything Pamela Anderson was in – except maybe an old episode of “Home Improvement” back before the Toolman gave her the old heave-ho. And I’ve never seen anything Tommy Lee was in – except maybe Pamela Anderson in an old episode of “Home Improvement,” back before the Toolman gave her the old heave-ho.

And I’m not going to pretend that I’ve never watched an ounce of porn. Of course I have. I watch the Discovery Channel, don’t I? But I’ve never watched internet porn. In fact, I was shocked just the other day to discover dirty talk on a wiki slang dictionary (add all the technological advances that you want, but you give adolescent boys a dictionary, they’re still going straight for the cuss words). And I’ve never watched celebrity internet anything. The closest I’ve gotten is a few old clips of Dirty Boy from his pre-Dirty, QVC days. (And let me just state here for the record: not prurient at all. I haven’t watched them twice and, knowing my love for Dirty Boy, that’s saying something.)

I just don’t do the whole paparazzi/voyeur thing. I never even watched the OJ trial -- nor will I watch the redux. It’s not that I think I’m above it all, more like I think that I’m below. Of course I’m curious, but it just feels wrong. These are people’s lives, and turnaround’s fair play. Not that it would ever happen, but I know I wouldn’t want anybody looking that closely into mine.

So I don’t read People, EW, Us Weekly, or the Enquirer. I do read Vanity Fair, which is really just Entertainment Monthly For Rich People Who Fancy Themselves Socially Conscious – and since I don’t qualify for either of those last two categories I guess you’d have to say I read it for the articles where Jennifer Aniston finally cries over being publicly cuckolded by Brad Pitt (or is cuckolded the right word here? Is there a word for women? Pussbooted, perhaps?). But at least while Jenny cries, she has her clothes on. (She later takes them off for GQ, however, which I also read, so maybe that invalidates my point. Whatever. That’s not the point I set out to make here anyway.)

The point is, I read the essay (remember the essay? The one about Pam and Marilyn that started this whole thing?) and I put down the book. I heaved a heavy sigh and I thought to myself: “Oh, alright, fine.” And I went to the computer. It was time. If this was Some Like It Hot for my generation, then I didn’t want to be the lame kid at the Piper party. Mommie Dearest missed out on watching the moon landing back in 1969 because she was busy squeezing out wee tiny me – how do you think that feels? The one experience the whole world was a part of and she has to hear about it second hand forever. At least this hole I could fill. So to speak. Quit giggling.

So I said “ooooookaaaaay” very slowly and I went to youtube. I took a deep breath and typed “tommy lee sex tape” really fast. And then I sat and stared at it a while. The words, I mean – stared at the words. Did I really want to do this? Did I really want to pop my you-know on something as base as this? Shouldn’t I ease in to it with a little Britney ’tang, then move up to gelfling Paris Stilton before I go the whole nine yards?

But no, none of those would have happened without this. This was the proverbial Grand Daddy of them all. Okay, there was Rob Lowe in 1988, but that’s just embarrassing – and at least one of those girls was underage, I think, so watching that would open up a whole new kettle of sick that is just never going to be a part of my world. And besides, I don’t think Tommy had Robbie in mind when he was hoisting sails, whereas I can’t help but assume Paris’s grainy blow job was, at least on some level, an homage to Mr. Lee.

Please let me interrupt here to point out how much I manage to know about all of these things without ever having seen any of them. And also to apologize to MD and to Nana for having gone to dark places I never meant to go.

As for the dark places that I did intend to go, I gave myself a little pep talk (“Come on, Erin, you can do this!”) and hit “search.”


If you type “tommy lee sex tape” into youtube and hit search, you get this. The first few sites are trying to sell you something. I don’t remember what. I clicked on two of them, and they were both the same so I moved on. The next few are people making their own homages to the original (which just, ew). I didn’t click on those. And then it moves on to old Motley Crue footage and, I don’t know, “Home Improvement” episodes. Further down, for some reason, both Trainspotting and Jimmy Swaggart make appearances on the list. I didn’t click on them, either, but I still might. I’m dying to find out what the connection is.

And so that’s as far as I got. I didn’t search in Google for it because I didn’t want to end up clicking on a pile of dead ends and wind up with a Compaq full of dirty cookies and an inbox full of spunky spam.

It’s probably just as well. After all, if the Pam & Tommy Show is such a seminal experience, then maybe it is the gateway drug for all the rest. Maybe, if I saw it, I’d understand why Britney wants to flash her beaver, and why people want to look. Maybe I’d start spending random minutes trolling the internet looking for the latest hoo-ha shot. I hear Janice Dickinson has got one. I bet it’s loverly. I bet her publicist suggested it to quell the rumors that she died ten years ago and this thing embarrassing itself all over basic cable is actually a drag queen impersonator (you see? you see how much I know about these things without even trying?).

So I’m okay with being left out of this little piece of cultural awareness. I’m busy enough as it is, I don’t have time for trolls.

Johnny sanded the bathroom yesterday and found out it needed some more patching. But he's back to work this morning (yay) so I fear it will be a few more months before we have progress to report on that front.

Monday, September 24, 2007

No Winners This Time

I was going to leave the poem contest open for another day, but I have to post something before I leave for work, and I don't have time to write a big long what-was-I-saying ramble. So, in the interest of brevity, herewith, a Loser Haiku:

Ladyscot got Buf
But Chi-town was too well-hid
Nobody got it.

Look below at the original post, I've put links on the relevant phrases...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I'm Sorry

I'm sorry I didn't post more this weekend, but I was busy doing this:

And this:

And, ah, there we go, this:

And I'm sorry I posted that obnoxious post the other day about the Bills. That's not like me, and I almost paid for it, and I deserved what I almost got. But I didn't get what I deserved, and I'm sorry to say that I'm not sorry for that.

And, last but not least, I'm sorry, but... does your closet look like this?

For that matter, does your bedroom look like this?

This is what happens in my house when you balls-up the joint compound in the closet.

Johnny takes it upon himself (eventually) and gives it the old guild-treatment.

Seriously, who takes this kind of care in their freaking closet?

Johnny does, that's who.

That's not why I love him, but it's a pretty good extra-plus. Non?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Look What Just Arrived!

That's our illustrious quarterback on the cover of GQ magazine. And yes, that's my rumpled bed the magazine is on (but don't worry Dirty Boy, I don't love him that way).

Anybody out there from upstate New York? Anybody want to make a poem-bet on the outcome of tomorrow's game? You could probably go ahead and just start writing now.

Don't forget to read the post below and play my contest game. Later, I'll tell you about the miraculous and spontaneous thing Johnny did yesterday...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Once More, With Feeling

Jen read my morning post and sent me this by email (because The Man prevents her from commenting on my blog from work:

"May the spiders of the AssVac know to keep their distance.
For their death may be upon them, in the matter of an instant!
May the wires in your attic not meet with flooding rain.
From what I hear, electrocution? It is quite a pain.
I bid you peace as you enter the weekend sprawl.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the
Holy Shawl."

Nice, yes?

And it reminded me that I haven't done a POEM CONTEST this week (I said, two weeks ago, that I'd do it on Wednesday from now on, but I guess I lied about that). So here goes:

The post below -- the one about how it's supposedly (don't believe it!) bad luck to kill a spider -- I referenced two different musicals in that post. Name them both, and I will spoof a musical-song in your honor. If you'd like to request a song with your entry, you may, otherwise I'll choose one for you.

Google random phrases if you know one but not the other -- you never know what word strings may show up in silly songs. And feel free to take wild stabs if you've no idea. Funny entries are always winners on some level!

Go Go Go!

Bad Luck Comes In Eights

So I'm walking down Mt. Vernon Street in Beacon Hill yesterday with my Lady. We're on our way to Vanille to get ourselves a latte (well, she's getting a latte, I don't even know for sure what a latte is), sit at one of the outside tables , and people-watch the tourists (they are legion, this time of year). We're about halfway from her house to the cafe when I look up -- and there, between the street sign and the pole, is this enormous black-and-yellow spider, sitting quietly in the center of a perfectly spun web.

I tried to look on line and find a picture of it for you, but I couldn't. Or maybe I could, but I got the heebie-jeebies looking at all the pictures of all the wrong kinds of spiders. And, while I'm heeby-jeebing, did you know that the brown recluse spider -- this famous, only-kind-of-poisonous-spider-that-actually-lives-in-Massachusetts and, it bears repeating, is called brown recluse -- is actually yellow and black? I've been keeping my eyes out all these years for the wrong thing all together. Not that I wouldn't have killed the brown ones anyway, but still. It just goes to show the mentality of the kind of people who study these kinds of things. Anyhoo...

So of course I interrupted my Lady in mid-word, pointed, and exclaimed "Oh my god, look at that spider!" And raised my book to squash it flat.

"Oooohhh..." she sighed. "Look at her..."

Oh crap, I forgot. My Lady is all love the earth and women power. Well, I'll be over here...

We stood around "admiring" her for a minute (a very, very looonggg) minute, and then finally we continued on our way. My poor Lady couldn't remember what she'd been saying when I interrupted, but she'd been reminded of a story.

"In our cottage that we used to rent in Lymington," England, where she and her late husband spent every summer for something like fifteen years, "there was an enormous spider one time at around two in the morning. I swear to you, it was this big," and she made a doughnut of her thumbs and forefingers.

"Urp," I said.

"You should have seen Fred and me. All we could find to catch it in was a saucepan and its cover. So we were chasing it around, clanging the pot and lid together fruitlessly for a good half-hour before we caught the thing -- at two in the morning!" She laughed and wiped a happy tear.

"Oh, our neighbors must have thought that we were nuts," she said, when she was ready to go on.

"We finally caught her, though, and carried her outside. I wonder what the neighbors thought of that!" She smiled, sighed, and looked straight at me.

"We never killed them, you see" she concluded (pointedly?), "because, of course, it's bad luck. "


So that explains it.

When we first moved in here, you see, the house was blanketed with what I came to think of as the "golden ceiling spider." With my trusty wad of toilet paper, and from my movable perch on a trusty kitchen chair, I must have killed twenty or thirty of them a day for a least a month. Now, instead of coming in multitudes, they're rolling together by the dozen and stationing each gargantua at strategic interludes -- that, I've decided, is why they disappear so completely when I swat them. Yet swat I do. Swat, squish, step, flush -- ta, ta, Aragog.

And from the day that we moved in here we've had nothing but rotten luck.




It looks like my options are: let the spiders live and (hopefully) thrive right along with them; or continue killing them and die slowly myself.

Of course, we could always just move.

It has come to my attention that the link above -- and the sentences above -- regarding the brown recluse spider, may be slightly less than accurate. I didn't look too closely and I thought, because the page was titled "brown recluse something," and because the picture of the spider on the page was labelled "brown recluse something," then that meant it was a page about, and picture of, a brown recluse spider. I was wrong. It is apparently a page about spiders in general, named after the brown recluse, by folks who (excuse me, I just threw up in my mouth a little) love it. For the record, and according to this website, the brown recluse is actually yellow. Glad we cleared that up.

Now that I look at it, the brown recluse looks an awful lot like the golden ceiling spider...

Seriously, we have to move.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

More Things I Learned (and/or Forgot To Say) Last Night

Forgot To Say: Electrical inspector came yesterday. Our furnace is officially finished, finished, finished!

Learned: Our Sleepy electrician is, like, best friends with the electrical inspector. See, in our experience, the electrical inspector is kind of a punk -- he not only yelled at me for calling once to schedule an inspection, he also yelled at the Other Electrician for letting me. He insists the electrician be here for inspection, and I knew that, so I worried when Sleepy told me not to worry about it. Turns out everyone else has to be here, but Sleepy can stay home. I think it can't be a bad thing for the town inspectors to know that we know their best friends. (And don't worry, worriers, Inspector said Sleepy not only did a good job but went overkill on safety issues. So the AssVac won't be burning down any time soon. Rats. Or, not because of the furnace, at least...)

Forgot To Say: Our Old Electrician, Jack -- the wonderful man who pulled the permit and supervised the work in our kitchen but didn't do it, instead using the time to teach us how to run power ourselves, all for the price of a loaf of banana bread baked in our new (then) oven -- died two weeks ago. Spinal cancer. We didn't know until last Saturday. He didn't want anyone to know, apparently. But we drank a toast to him at the bar, and so should you. He drank O'Doul's; he'd want you to have whatever.

Learned: The AssVac will burn down after all, but for reasons unrelated to the furnace (worriers, start your engines). When Johnny and John B. went up in the attic to examine the rain coming down the stink, they discovered an open box of connected and uninsulated wiring protruding from the floor just inches from where the water was pouring down. The water is not pouring anymore, but we have to get Sleepy back here, pronto! (Johnny only told me this last night -- I assume because the inspector was here yesterday and our furnace is officially finished, finished, finished, and god forbid I should go to bed without something to fret on.)

Forgot To Say: Johnny got his job back. He starts Monday. Paychecks, yay!

I want a pony, and safe wiring, and a Red Rider BB gun, and a new roof, and an E-Z Bake oven, and a finished kitchen to put it in...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Just Because It's Been A While...

Okay, really I'm posting because I forgot to tell the outcome of the stink pipe (just between us, I can say stink).

So, it was the night our Sleepy LaBeef backup-electrician stayed till 10:30 playing Johnny's beautiful bouzouki (someday I'll post a picture of it; it's gorgeous -- not quite as nice as Dirty Mike, but still, pretty not-bad-for-a-bouzouki). Before they started playing, and almost before they started drinking, John B. and Johnny crawled up into a side part of the attic that I never even knew existed until that very moment, to check out the leak around the stink pipe.

"Pretty bad," was the verdict. And then bouzouki and beer-drinking ensued.

A few days later -- I guess this would have been last Thursday, after we were back from our second round of courthouse hell -- John B. came by with I-don't-know-what fixit-things. He and Johnny leaned a ladder up against the house, climbed up -- John B. with a newly-mangled back and Johnny with an oldly-mangled knee -- and fixed it.

I really don't know what they did up there. I could go ask Johnny right now -- which is what I usually do in these situations (you don't think I actually know about all the things I write about, do you?) -- but I don't feel like it. I'm taking a little mental vacation this week. They fixed it, okay? It doesn't leak anymore. That's all I need to know.

Oh, and we need a new roof. While they were up there, they determined that we'll definitely be needing a new roof.

But for now, we're going to hope the old one holds till next year.

La la...

Does anybody know how to hang wallpaper? The computer kind, I mean? Because seriously I wouldn't mind having to write about these damn disasters all the time if I had Dirty Mike smiling encouragement. Or just staring off into space, looking all pensive 'n' shit...

La la...

Something Stinks

It didn’t rain the entire month of August and, since we’re not very hosey-folks, our entire garden died. We are now the only people in the state of Massachusetts (and beyond) without zucchini. Poor, poor, pitiful us.

But it finally did rain last week. And the night it did, Johnny came out of the bathroom – the older one, not the en suite one we built – muttering “Huh, that leak is getting worse.”

Wha? What leak?

See, this bathroom – or, I should say, part of this bathroom – is the only thing we’re keeping the way it was when we moved in. Neat-o art deco tile in there. Also pepto-pink tub and basin, which Poppo and MD insist is authentic ‘50s style, but which I insist must go. Eventually. When we’re rich.

I probably can’t do it justice, but here’s a picture of the floor (it could use a mop, so?):

And of the soapdish (ignore the soapy crud – also the paintbrush on the back of the sink...

Huh, I’d forgotten that paintbrush was in there. See how things just become a part of the landscape if you leave them long enough? Also how long it’s been since anybody painted anything around this house? Anyhoo…)

This tile was near enough pristine when we moved in, but within a year or so I started to notice squares cracking on the floor around the toilet. Not sure at first if they had always been like that and I’d just never noticed, I kept an eye on them (loads of fun, let me tell you, for a girl who doesn’t clean her house that often, to make a point of keeping an eye on the tiles on the floor around the toilet. Yuck.). Sure enough, the cracks were spreading.

That happened to be the summer that Johnny’s nephew stayed with us. He happened to be a guild-trained mason (the brick-and-mortar kind, not the secret-handshake kind), so I asked him to take a look. He said the tiles weren’t the problem, the floor beneath them was.

Apparently the toilet had been leaking for donkey’s years. Wax ring, kaput. But the lady who died here hadn’t been using a toilet in a while, and when she did she only weighed about a dozen pounds. The spongy floor and pretty tiles weren’t used to actual people sitting on the throne.

We had a few other things going on at the time, however – and besides, we wanted to save that tile floor – so we changed the wax ring and Nephew went down to the basement and boxed in the floor. Couple of 2x6s, couple of big strong screws, couple of sheets of plywood. Even the inspector (who was here for other reasons) seemed to think it would be fine.

I don’t know if it is or not, or if that’s just how it goes, but the tiles have continued to crack – albeit much more slowly. I fear someday I’ll sit down and fall right through the floor. Which would be a shame, because those tiles are lovely. In the meantime, however, we’ve been worrying more front-lobally about other things like furnaces and—oh...

Which reminds me why I started this whole story in the first place.

So Johnny comes out of the bathroom muttering “Huh, that leak is getting worse,” and the first thing that springs to mind is the toilet and the tiles. Worse? How worse? What do you mean, worse?

“No,” he says. “The pipe.”

Pipe? How pipe? What do you mean, pipe? My eyes sweep under the pepto-sink…

…which actually looks kind of pretty here. But I see nothing.

“No,” he says. “The stack pipe.” Except he didn't say "stack pipe." He said “stink pipe.” Which, if you ask me, makes more sense. But which a plumber laughed at me for saying, so I don’t say it anymore.

Wha? The leak from the stack pipe? What leak from the stack pipe? And how leak from the stack pipe? What do you mean, stack pipe? Water goes down the drain, not up the stack pipe…

Johnny pointed to the wall above the sink – the newly stripped and joint-compounded, but not-yet-painted wall – and there, in the new, smooth joint compound, was a spreading water stain. (This happened last week; it's dry now, so I can't show you.)

“That’s why I haven’t painted yet,” Johnny explained. “Because I noticed that leak last month and I wanted to see what was going on with it. If I put paint on there, I wouldn’t see the leak, and the paint would just get wet and peel right off again.”

Ah. So that’s why it's been so long since anybody painted anything around this house. Because it hasn't rained. And the closet that I started and you insisted that you be the one to finish? Is there a leak there, too? And how 'bout that door you convinced me to let you take over, and then convinced me to hang before you did? Is there a stink pipe in the living room as well?

Now, Prudence. Johnny hurt himself. And he's going back to work next week. Wouldn't you rather have a paycheck than a painted bathroom?

Fine, Goody. But I'm finishing that damn closet on my own.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I'm Winning!

So they're talking about gambling in Massachusetts, and not just at Indian casinos, either. Real, state-run, actual casinos. At least that's how I understand it, anyway, and I haven't been much paying attention, because I think the whole thing is just this side of sleaze-a-rific.

But then, in today's paper, an article about the whole shebang about how some people who live here would be so excited to not have to drive all the way to Connecticut to throw their money down the toilet (they have better plumbing in Connecticut, apparently).

Now, I'm not being completely fair (which, I know, is so unlike me). We have the lottery, which is gambling, and which Johnny plays religiously, and which is, in fact, how we managed to come up with the down payment for our house (ya-freakin'-hoo). So I'm not going to get on any higher of a horse about this one. Except to say, in my own snobbish way, that it's not the morals of it or the waste that bothers me -- hell, if you're dumb enough to waste your money that way, then I might just marry you! No, it's the people it attracts (the non-cute-Irish kind of people) I can't stand.

When I was little, I had long hair. I mean long-long. Sit-on-it-when-its-braided kind of long. Down-past-my-calves-when-it-wasn't-braided kind of long. Strangers used to comment on it. Everyone wanted to touch it. I used to ask my mom to keep the ugly ones away from me. And the dirty ones. But mostly the ugly ones. "Please don't let the ugly people touch my hair," I used to beg her. Nice, huh? Bodes well for my compassionate adulthood, does it not? Anyway...

This article in today's Globe about the prospect of state- (or, I suppose we should say Commonwealth-) run gambling has a bunch of interviews with a bunch of people they scraped up off the parking lot at Foxwoods (big Indian casino in Connecticut, for those of you from elsewhere). There's a picture of this one guy, with a pull quote from him off to the left.

"Oh, man, I'd be psyched," he says. "There's not a game I don't like. And free drinks all night!" The attribution reads: John Doe (they give a real name, but I won't, because I'm fixin' to defame), Foxwoods regular and Weymouth resident.

Townville. Lovely. I live where these people come from. I come from where these people live. Might's well go ahead and build the damn thing, then, governor. Put all that good tire-biter money to work right here at home.

But then there was this article in the business section, which is why I titled this post what I did. Huzzah! For once, something seems to have worked out in my favor.

What do you think, should I hitch a ride with the tire-biters down to Mohegan Sun this weekend?

The Invasion Continues

Sunday, p.m.
Spotted: 1 nickel-sized spider
Location: Bedroom curtain (sliding-glass door)
Outcome: Whacked with New Yorker, fell behind cushions of love seat. Cushions squashed and punched repeatedly. Unwilling to investigate further. New Yorker burned.

Monday, a.m.
Spotted: Silver-dollar-sized arachnid
Location: Master bedroom en suite shower floor
Outcome: Squished with wad of toilet paper, folded up, and flushed. Definitely deceased. An ex-arachnid.

Monday p.m.
Spotted: What's the gigantic-est coin ever minted in the history of minting coins? Well, then that-sized eight-legged freak.
Location: Shoulder of one of Johnny's shirts, on a hanger in the bedroom closet.
Outcome: Whacked with sports section of Monday's Boston Globe, fell into pile of shoes. Pile of shoes squished and kicked and stepped on repeatedly. Unwilling to investigate further. (Also unwilling to relinquish sports section until finished reading about how "no NFL team in recent memory has played a game as well from start to finish as New England did Sunday night. " Creature not found in sports section. Creature must be afraid of Tedy Bruschi.)

Just now:
Spotted: Worsted-weight web, size of a serving platter. A Christmas serving platter.
Location: Inside bedroom window.
Outcome: None yet, but sensing pattern. Unwilling to sleep in MBR tonight. Considering swallowing bird. Or Tedy Bruschi.

God Said Ha!

Some loose ends of the furnace saga that, in the throes of last week’s immigration saga, I’ve forgotten to mention until now…

· According to my blog archives, I started joking about the furnace blowing up on February 11 (and please note all the other things I said we planned to do this year; ain't I cute?).

· According to my blog archives, the furnace blew on April 23rd.

· Moral of the story: don’t joke about things like that.

· It’s a little late for that now, isn’t it, Prudence?

· Okay, revised moral of the story: don’t make plans.

· So, again according to my blog archives, the first plumber came to price the job on April 28th, at which point we started saving money because I accidentally let Rumpelstiltskin out of the garage (we don’t have a garage, but we don’t have a gold-spinning misanthropic midget either – it’s a joke).

· Sometime in mid-July (and eight or ten plumbers into trying to price the job) we got serious about starting it already. We hadn’t saved the money yet, per se, but we decided to spend our savings and save them back (ha), rather than wait until we had it all (ha) and risk it being, like, September or something before we got the system in (ha ha).

· Actually, officially, for-good hired the Kid on August 10th.

· Kid finished the job on September 14.

· Oh, except it’s not actually officially, for-good finished yet, because the electrician (who, I also forgot to mention but which has no bearing on this discussion, used to play with Sleepy LaBeef) doesn’t feel any urgent need to return our phone calls or summon the electrical inspector.

· And the Kid left half his tools in our front yard.

Hardy, har, har, har.

I’m not bringing those tools in. I’m sorry, but I’m not. As long as they’re in the yard he can come get them whenever he likes. Once they’re back inside the house, I'll have to schedule a pick-up, and we’ve seen how good the Kid is keeping appointments…

Monday, September 17, 2007

Are You Jellin' YET?

Okay, so this is the third time I've tried to make this g-d jelly.

The first time, when I mentioned it last Thursday, I spent about six hours in the kitchen. Actually, first I spent four and a half hours on the Sunday before boiling the grapes down into concentrated juice and straining out the pulp. That was fun. My kitchen looked like a crime scene. I think the only thing more gorey-looking than grape juice in a porcelain sink is beet juice all over the counter -- next to actual gore, of course. Not that I'd know.


I was following the Joy of Cooking recipe -- which is the recipe I always use and which has always worked before. The old Joy, the original, not the new Rachel-Ray wanna-be version with good-for-you recipes and probably without a listing for woodchuck in the index. P'shaw! Nope, in this house, we make our jelly the old-fashioned way: we burn it.

Just kidding, I just couldn't resist the rhyme.

Really, according to the Joy, we bring the juice to a simmer very, very slowly, never allowing it to actually boil. We add a quartered apple for the extra pectin and we stir constantly until -- oh my god stop stirring NOW -- then we add as much sugar as juice (if not more), stir only until the sugar is dissolved, then simmer simmer simmer (never never never boil) until it sheets off the spoon just like the picture in the book.


...until it sheets off the spoon just like the picture in the book...

Oh hell, it's been boiling for a half an hour, just can the damn stuff already.

So that was Thursday. Needless to say it didn't set up proper. Sort of, but not really. More like an ice cream topping than a breakfast spread (yum! Mom, can we have grape jelly on ice cream for dessert? And then run circles around the house screaming in tongues until we collapse in a convulsing sugar coma? Please!?).

So on Saturday I tried again. I'd been assured (by someone who shall remain nameless but who goes reluctantly by the intitials MD) that I could open up those jars of jelly-syrup, dump them out into a pot, boil it all up again with some (gasp) store-bought pectin, re-can it, and have jelly just like new.

Might've worked, too, if I hadn't decided I could guess at the amount of pectin it would need to make it jell for real, and then divided that amount in two because, well, it was halfway ther already, wasn't it? Also maybe if I hadn't used the five-year-old envelope of liquid pectin that was leftover from the time Johnny and I got in a fight before completing whatever artsy-fartsy project had temporarily possessed us into believing we were Charles and Caroline (that's Ma and Pa Ingalls, for those of you who don't re-read the Little House books regularly well into your own happy golden years). And yes, I know they didn't have packaged pectin on the prairie, but I'm sure if Nellie Olsen's father had sold it at the general store, Pa would have surprised Ma with it some month instead of buying shoelaces or something, and she would have blushed and used it happily. Or maybe she would have picked a fight with him because the car wouldn't start and dumped the marmalade down the garbage disposal and then left the pectin in the refrigerator for five years. You don't know.

Where was I? Oh yeah. Jelly came out worse the second time.

I mean, it tasted fine, and I appreciated the second batch of jelly-foam, though by then we were out of saltine crackers because it's kind of a rule in my house that whenever there are saltines around I have to eat them three meals a day until they're gone, which is why we never buy them except for special occasions -- which is why if you come over to my house for a party, instead of getting fancy-dancy, butterfly-shaped or whole-grain crackers, you're going to get saltines with your sharp white cheddar cheese. But anyway... it was even more runny the second time.

So today. Today I went to the grocery store and I bought new pectin. I read the directions. AND I followed them.

One package of pectin for six cups of jelly (well, technically it said six cups of juice, but it's a little late for that, now, isn't it?), stir in and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly (really? okay...). Add the sugar (again, bit late for that, what?) and full-boil for one minute (seriously? just one minute? if you say so...) then remove from heat and skim foam if necessary (well, of course it's necessary; we may be out of saltine crackers but we've still got french bread, have we not?). Fill hot jars etc., etc. -- and then water-process for ten minutes?

Really? Are you absolutely sure? I have never heard of water-processing jelly before. But then, I usually seal my jelly with wax, and water-processing wax would just be stupid. I decided to use lids this year instead because I want to give some of it away (I have to give most of it away: I got two gallons of it for god's sake) and I don't want to freak people out if they don't know about the wax thing (then again, if any of them are reading this, they might be freaked out already -- hey, everybody I know, ignore this post, okay?). Anyway, so I water-processed the damn stuff.

I think it's going to be fine.

Oh, except the grocery store I went to only had two things of pectin left. Six cups each. And I believe I mentioned that I got two gallons. And that's just from the concord grapes. There's another gallon of jelly made from white grapes that needs to be re-done as well. So I have to do this again. And again. And maybe one more time.

Know what makes a good hot-board for putting three gallons worth of pints of jelly on so as not to burn your table? The shelf from the closet in your office that you still haven't got around to finishing:

This week, I swear. Or maybe next. As soon as I'm done with all this g-d jelly...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Rosevelt Colvin Elementary School

Rout: to defeat utterly.

Sorry, Robert, but sack dances are for p-u-n-k PUNKS! And Sgt. Bilko just looked confused.

I'll be expecting some acknowledgement of this in the morning -- since I imagine you've cried yourself to sleep by now...


Guess what came in the mail yesterday?

Letter from Keyspan.

"Dear Erin Ellia,

"Granite countertops [try formica], Italian marble [the only thing Italian in this house is the salad dressing], recessed lighting [so far recessed you can't see it at all], outdoor rooms [the bathroom is outdoors when Johnny's drunk enough]... those are just some of the many home improvements that we all invest in to beautify our home [I'm sorry, are we all living together like the Manson family now?], increase its value and improve its climate [Chuck (TFT) gets only nineteen miles to the gallon -- does that count as "improving its climate"?].

"However, there is one home improvement that many of us overlook [again with the communal "we"]. It's one that not only enhances the market value of your property [bullshit, but I have to give them credit for keeping their its/it's straight], it can also help you gain control over the high cost of energy [oh, so now that we're talking about paying the bills, it isn't all about "us" anymore?].

"And that's upgrading your home to KeySpan natural gas heat.

[What a great idea! Where do I sign up? How long do you think the whole process might take?]

"A new heating system is the only home improvement that you can make and expect to get back your entire investment [this one I don't argue with; I don't know how true it would be if you had an efficient oil burner, but compared to the clunker we had, we expect our new system to pay for itself within the year]. And, new heating equipment can run up to 30% more efficiently than a system that's ten years old or older [ours was only five years old, but every single person who was supposed to service it in those five years, didn't]. So, you'll use less energy every month, and pay for less energy every month [emphasis -- and fifth-grade logic -- theirs].

"KeySpan natural gas heat is the cleanest-burning fuel. Inside your home, that means no puffbacks [huh?], soot or leaks to worry about [um, I'll still worry about the leaks, thank you very much]. Plus, with natural gas heat, you never have to schedule deliveries or maintain supplies [this, honestly, was the biggest seller for me when I decided to change over. I forgot to get a crown for eleven years until the damn tooth fell apart, you think I could keep on top of how much oil I had in the tank?].

"That's why we say that upgrading to KeySpan is more than a smart home improvement, it's also a wise home investment [and a royal pain in the ass].

"To take advantage of the savings you can realize by converting to KeySpan and getting a new, nautral gas heating system, call us today [and we'll give you the run around for six freaking months]. We'll show you how fast [ahem] and easily [AHEM] you can convert your home to natural gas heat [you'll notice how careful "we" were not to talk about the cost].

"If you call by November 30, 2007 [gosh, for a company who can't seem to meet a deadline to save a life, we sure do like giving deadlines, don't we?] you can get new, energy-efficient heating equipment [delivered to your driveway] and save up to $1500 [which, if you don't get it out of the driveway by the deadline we won't give you until after it's delivered, we will charge you anyway]. (That's over and above the energy savings [which we nebulously refuse to quantify].) To find out more about the products we offer, or to take advantage of this promotion, call 1-800-gas-2001 [but not today, because it's Sunday] by November 30, 2007 [there's that deadline, again] and mention code 5277 [and we'll refuse to tell you anything at all]. Or, simply [ha] go to [you'll notice that this hyperlink here doesn't work, and if you type that address in, you'll find out that the security certificate's invalid. Reassuring, to say the least]

"Sincerely [really?]

"Krista Georges
"Marketing Manager

"P.S. If you need help finding a contractor, we can help you through our Value Plus Installer Program [by which we put you in touch with plumbers who either won't show up, or who will charge you three times as much as the job's supposed to cost]. And, you can also learn to save money and energy, and earn valuable rebates, through our energy-efficiency programs [but this is all we'll ever have to say about that, anywhere].

"[Also, make ten copies of this letter and send them to ten friends within seven days or else seomthing terrible might happen to your house.]"

Gee, thanks KeySpan! I do think I will try me some! Oh, except wait -- this was tucked in to the envelope behind the letter (and this, I paraphrase):

We've been bought. We're not KeySpan anymore. But we had all these old letters lying around and we figured mailing them out was better than throwing them away.