Category Archives: journal

Do Not Drink the Water

As George W. Bush so eloquently put it a few years back, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me- Well, you can’t get fooled again.”

Now, I am very much a Fool Me Once type person and this has served me well, with one notable exception. Fool Me Once works with friends, with restaurants, with work-from-home opportunities that require money down and then send you a craft kit that isn’t going to make anybody money anywhere. It does not work with the weather. Meteorologically, Fool Me Once is a no-go.

Years ago, when Thing One was a toddler, a storm was forecast to bear down on New York with the intensity of Old Testament God smiting the Sodomites. From the reporting, there was about a ninety percent chance Ken Burns was going to document the hell out of this in a few decades time. And had that storm come, I would have been ready. I had mattresses pulled out into the living room so we could all sleep together away from the big windows that upon shattering, could slice Thing One into human sashimi. I made chili, lasagna, and glazed breakfast biscuits, gathered up plenty of snacks, and as the television instructed, filled my bathtub with water.

Except.

The storm wasn’t really a storm. You saw that coming, right? You and everyone else. Don’t get cocky. But, what about the water overflowing out of my bathtub onto the bathroom floor? Did you foresee that? Because when one is busy with a toddler and a full kitchen and the effort of mattress-rearranging, it is surprisingly easy for one to forget a bathtub filling with water. There was smiting that day, I assure you. But not by an Old Testament God. By my drunk, enraged, and possibly Tourette’s-afflicted downstairs neighbor. Well, that was the meteorologists’ chance and they blew it. I have ignored them ever since.

So, a few days ago when the first snowflakes began to fall, I had no idea there was an impending snow storm. I ignored the gun fights and knife fights over white bread, and when that devolved into bow and arrows and homemade spears, I just shrugged. New Yorkers, am I right? It’s not like I’ve never stepped over a severed arm or told Thing Two to avoid the lone eyeball rolling down the street before.

The storm rolled in. It was the second highest snowfall in the city’s history. It STILL wouldn’t have been a big deal, except that at the exact same time, a water main burst somewhere and left half of Manhattan with brown tap water. City officials applied smiley face stickers over their annoyed faces and promised us it was safe to drink, but everyone around me was looking at water glasses that look disturbingly like all those pictures they’ve been seeing of the water in Flint. Water panic! Luckily, my husband got my text and disguised as a pregnant woman, carried a few precious gallons under his shirt home from Brooklyn.

Now, this STILL wouldn’t be a big deal except you will remember there was this glowing and pulsing green puddle on my bathroom ceiling. Now after avoiding the puddle for a few days, and getting NO response from the Internet on how to better deal with it, (thanks, guys!) I finally mopped it up. “Mopped it up” in this case means I soaked one of those sponge-mops in watered-down bleach, inverted it, stood in my bathroom squirming at what I was about to do for twenty minutes, and then finally scrubbed at the ceiling. The mop head slowly absorbed into (through?) the puddle so that by the end, I was just rubbing the pole against the ceiling. But it was a clean, if somewhat scratched, ceiling. The puddle was gone!

The problem of course was that I hadn’t done anything about the leak itself, so by the next day, the puddle was back. This was the day of the storm, and shut in with nothing better to do, my husband duct-taped a new sponge to our now-severed mop handle and went to mop up the bathroom again. Since we only had two gallons of clean drinkable water, he used the brown water to mix the bleach in.

My husband says the puddle is exactly the same color it always was. It is not. It was green and now it has a purple shimmer that my husband swears isn’t there. The thing is it really doesn’t matter, since we both agree that the puddle now emits a steady hum which is a million times more disturbing than whether or not the puddle has a purple sheen or whether the snow on the window ledge is playing with the light and just casting a purple glare. A hum. It sounds like a drill.

So putting aside the fact that there might have been something very disturbing in our city’s water supply that interacted with whatever the hell is in this puddle, (We are very much still drinking bottled over here.) the leak does not appear to be resolving itself. Obviously. And if the dripping was keeping me up, you can bet that the humming, which I can hear from the next room over, is driving me insane.

When Turtle came up a few days ago, he said that this was happening in other apartments. I can only assume one of those apartments is our downstairs neighbor, who you will remember from above, was only slightly less vengeful than Old Testament God when I accidentally overflowed my bathtub onto his ceiling a few years back. Our relationship has not improved since. Probably due to the fact that Thing One and Thing Two no doubt sound like drunk water buffalo on roller skates from below. The problem is I don’t really see a Next Step that doesn’t involve checking out his bathroom to see if I can pinpoint the source of this leak.

So, that is my plan. I am going to go down there sometime in the next few days when Things One and Two are quietly watching TV so I won’t have to pretend I don’t hear how loud they are when they play superheroes. I wonder if bringing baked goods would come across as a peace offering. My neighbor is just the type to accuse me of poisoning him, but I feel like I can’t go empty-handed. A new set of towels?

I will post the results, which I am sure will be mortifying. Stay tuned. And if you are in the area, consider investing in a good water filter.

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The Leak (Advice Requested)

You know when you just have to get something off your chest? Yeah, I am having one of those days.

Let me back up. I realize I never talk about my family life here, but you know, #NewYearNewYou, and New You is going to hear all about it. We’ve been having a good winter. Visited with family. Partied with friends. My husband had the last few weeks off from work, so we got in some good quality time. And, homeschool life has taken a dramatic turn for the cozy. I always schedule less meet-ups and classes this time of year, so school is more likely something done snuggling under blankets than bumping along the A train. Sounds pretty nice, huh?

However, just recently I noticed a slight downhill trajectory. For one, my kids, Thing One and Thing Two, are starting to exude the maniacal and malicious energy of two things locked in a box by a fox wearing socks, which is to say they are going a little stir-crazy. And those weeks of no work have now led to no paychecks, which surprisingly have not stopped the bills from arriving. And then, there’s the leak.

I first noticed it one morning when in the bathroom putting on eyeliner. Staring into the mirror, I thought I saw a drip behind me. But listen, glasses are in my near future and I had bigger fish to fry, namely getting eyeliner on in a way that did not make me look like a raccoon trying to make a few bucks as a prostitute. Focus was required.

Later that day, sitting casually on the toilet, (not doing anything mortifying, probably sipping a finely-crafted Old Fashion while perusing Hemingway and adjusting my tweed slacks and Annie Hall vest accordingly,) I saw it again. A drip. Clear as spit-shined crystal. Starting from the floor and falling up to the ceiling. Shit. I followed the next drip up and there on my ceiling was a slimy green puddle, a sort of radiating green, the kind of green that gives the impression that some other dimensions have definitely been involved in it getting there.

So I put down my whiskey and my…Hemingway did I say? And I called my husband, who you will remember was still at home despite both of us preferring that he not be. We looked up at the puddle on the ceiling and trying to look on the bright side, he noted that at least the puddle was growing slowly and not rapidly. Then, we got onto our hands and knees and tried to see where the drip was coming from without getting hit in the eye by a goopy green drop. There was no obvious hole. My husband taped off a 3 inch by 3 inch perimeter so the kids wouldn’t step on it and went to look for the super who was shockingly no where to be found.

Also, shockingly, my husband was called into work the very next day, so the possibly toxic and definitely otherworldly puddle became my responsibility. I spent almost the entire day looking for the super. I will call the super Turtle from here on out. I like Turtle a lot, but Turtle is the world’s worst super. Here’s the deal: Turtle has a mangled spine for one reason or another. He has had countless surgeries and walks so curled over that the hat he wears is balanced on the back of his head. Obviously, the pain and curled shape of his spine means he walks extremely slowly as well. Because of this, once I did find Turtle, it was another half an hour before he made it upstairs to our apartment. Also, because of this, by the time Turtle reached Stair Two, I felt guilty for asking for his help at all and was already trying to beg him off checking things out.

But, checking things out he did. Turtle has a very grumpy voice, as you would if writers referred to you as Turtle, and he uses lots of frustrated moans as he talks. So, his explanation went something like this: “Ehhh! I don’t know what they expect me to do about it. Ahhh! Ehhh! Ahhh! Happening all over. Ehhh! I don’t know. Ehhh! Ahhh! Ahhh! I’ll walk to the hardware store and see if I can get a good cleaner to scrub off the puddle. Want me to… Ehhh! Ahhh! …do that? <Me promising him we will do it ourselves and begging him not to make the trip> Ahhh! Ahhh! But I don’t know what to do about the drip. Ehhh! You want to call management. That’s what I’m telling everyone.” Following this enlightening monologue, Turtle let out a series of soul-wrenching grunts and groans as he processed through my apartment and out the door to a chorus of my most sincere apologies. I promise here and now I will never ask for Turtle’s help again and I will deliver chicken soup to his door every Tuesday.

So. Management. Except Management does not speak English. I don’t mean this facetiously. I live in New York. I know thick accents. Management does not have a thick accent. Management does not speak English. I do, alongside a mediocre amount of Spanish. As it turns out, Management does not speak Spanish either. I suspect Management of speaking a dead language, perhaps ancient Sumerian, that no one but Management understands. Because of this, all calls to and from Management progress from normal language to louder and slower language to even louder and even slower language on both sides until the issue is let go. And so it went with the inter-dimensional puddle in my bathroom.

So now, here I am, with a pulsing green puddle on my bathroom ceiling…oh, I didn’t mention it started pulsing? Yes! It has! I did go to the store as Turtle suggested and get a jug of bleach, but after setting up the ladder, I couldn’t bring myself to touch the puddle, let alone wash it off my ceiling. And now, the damn dripping sound is keeping me up at night. Night Two, Day Three. I would pull my hair out if I didn’t have to walk past the puddle to throw it in the trash.

So anyone out there that has dealt with this?

Serious advice only in the comments please. Follow up to come.

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Excerpt from my Work In Progress

I’ve been working on a manuscript for some time now. A futuristic literary rodeo. A reinvented apocalyptic tall tale. An Old West story set in a future of outlandish characters, untrustworthy aliens, murderous robots, and one deadly pathogen bent on extinguishing humanity. Here’s a quick excerpt brought to you by our hero, the roughest, toughest Candy Ann Darling, and her sidekick, Suzanne…

 

Candy looked from the road to Suzanne and then back. “Is that what we’re talking about now? Even you don’t believe that a good plan would have saved Kid.”

“Well then, you shot at me and ruined my good hat,” Suzanne said.

Candy tipped her head at the horizon ahead of them. “That I did.”

“You shot at me,” Suzanne demanded.

“Your hat was ugly then and it looks better now. What do you want from me?”

“I want to know if you was trying to kill me.”

Candy smiled, exposing her missing tooth. “Are you asking me if I miss, Suzanne?”

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The Boot Collector

Space Squid is a deep, dark, lurking online zine operating out of Austin, Texas. I had to adjust my tone a bit for this one. A dash grimmer. Inclined more sharply towards SciFi. Go ahead and check out my piece, “The Boot Collector,” and two great shorts here at  Flash Fiction Frenzy.

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