Thing One’s Doodle.
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.
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.
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.
In tribute to my all-time favorite Space Man. Spider From Mars the world over bow their heads today…
Everyone had their own theories on the Space Man’s arrival. That is seven billion, eight hundred ninety-four thousand, four hundred and twenty-one theories.
Near as anyone can figure, the Space Man was born on one of the moons circling Pluto, hatched from an egg-shaped rock that glowed once opened. He was born fully formed in what was, by all accounts, a human-like body. The only distinction between himself and the humans who were drawing these conclusions were his blue skin and his disproportionately large eyes.
Also, near as anyone can tell, he sat in his ship, (which was little more than a bubble to both human optics and instrumentation,) blinking at the Earth with a confused expression on his face for six days before deciding to land.
Of course, once he landed, the Space Man couldn’t speak English or any other language. The first customs officials who shouted at him from a safe distance report only that he flapped his mouth in imitation, without any sound emerging. They said he looked distinctly like a fish when he did it.
A few minutes after that, the Space Man must have decided the time had come to communicate because every human in the world, all seven billion, eight hundred ninety-four thousand, four hundred and twenty-one of them, found their heads filled with a loud gurgle at exactly the same time. The sound was described alternately as a babbling brook and a flush toilet. Widely-assumed to be a message, the sound left the world perplexed and one too many folks in need of a quick place to pee.
Another seven days passed with the Space Man standing there, blinking and flapping his gums at anyone who came close to him, before the world’s leading archeo-linguists and several top code-breakers suggested a possible translation: Where am I?
It was at this point that the Space Man was officially declared a prophet. The thinking went like this: He looked human, but was certainly not human. He came from the sky. He wanted to tell them something. Ergo. (Humans, of course, have great difficulty imagining that they are not at the center of things.)
There were a few suicides, dozens of new religions, and a suffocating amount of awful fan art in the wake of this declaration, to which the Space Man responded predictably by blinking and flapping his gums.
In the end, two months after he arrived, he blinked one last time, climbed back into his bubble, and left. Humanity as a whole has been unable to process this news and has been staring up at the sky in a bewildered vigil ever since, still trying to unravel the many profound layers of the Space Man’s message.
Now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that the Space Man’s unusually large eyes, calibrated to the darkness of Pluto, had most likely become blinded on his journey towards the inner solar system. Of course, this would suggest his message was quite literal. He was lost. On his way to a party, perhaps. Or maybe a sort of space walk-about. Either way, this theory reaches the unpleasant conclusion that after only two months on the Earth’s surface, the Space Man decided blindly rocketing out into space was preferable to staying.
This disturbing idea now resides in the human subconscious. And for that reason, Earth resolves to celebrate January 1oth loudly every year as The Day of the Prophet’s Arrival. The period on the end of this assertion is read especially loudly, as a dare to any human alive to even breathe the words “space blindness.” Of the seven billion, eight hundred ninety-four thousand, four hundred and twenty-one theories, it has not come up yet.
And what has become of the Space Man? Well, let us hope for his sake, he has found his party.
Follow me here and @thejessicahanna on Twitter.
Never assume it is safe to enter a grocery store after taking hallucinogens. You may make it to the automatic doors without anyone noticing how long you pause before entering. You may even fight the desire to spin around and watch the door magically close behind you, thus giving yourself away and perhaps causing a concerned manager to annunciate loudly in your direction. But, you will not escape the cereal aisle.
You may happen upon it immediately, marching towards the freezer section to obtain some ice cream and then catching a hint of its siren song as you pass. Or you may spend a good hour assessing the skin that covers an orange first. (Are those pores? you may find yourself wondering. Does it sweat? Am I sweating?) It doesn’t matter how it happens. You will eventually arrive at the cereal aisle.
At first, it will seem benign. You may even be looking for cereal. But then, something will change. You will realize you are combing a vast prairie of fortified possibilities. You are wading through sticky promises of strong bones, smooth digestion, and mind-bending taste. You are being offered a quality-functioning liver, magnificently-pliable tendons, a new heart in fancy cardboard boxes. On sale! You will consider whether your organs are in need of an upgrade. It begins.
B-vitamins. Potassium. Calcium. Manganese. Iron. Titanium. You will no longer be sure if these are substances which belong in your body. In fact, in fact, you are going to be quite sure you have survived for years without uranium-enriched chocolate squares. Quite sure.
The shelves will now have begun to climb higher and higher in order to offer you more! More what? More shapes for one. Chocolate circles, chocolate squares, chocolate faces, letters, and astrological signs. You turn to your left and your right. You look down the lengths of the aisle, but its ends are nothing more than coupon-clipped assumptions stretching farther and farther away from you, because what if you don’t like chocolate? What if God forbid you are bored with chocolate? What about honey? What about nutty? What about day-glo fruit replicant?
It will now become more and more obvious to you that the amount of breakfast possibilities is actually infinite, that the factories and machines and human beings who produce these boxed breakfast items must in fact take up every last acre of land, may in fact be stationed on the Moon and Mars, for how else would we assure the great American populace that they will have an ample supply of breakfast food to choose from. The cereals themselves, the corn and rice, the wheat and oat, must be grown and processed, you are going to realize, and then treated with nine different sugary combinations, molded into seventeen different shapes, dyed to fifty-two different glow-in-the-dark colors, (how else will we find them at night?) stuffed in sixty-six different boxes, each appliquéd with a different smile blasting bright breakfast bliss. Oh, but don’t stop there. No, don’t stop there, because now you are going to see the names, the slogans, the bold-faced type, the plastered faces of maniacal and sucrose-addicted cartoon animals, harmless in their monochromatic simplicity, terrifying in their wild-eyed promises. Proselytizing? Yes, proselytizing with the outstretched candy-filled hand of a child molester, brimming with anticipation, future gains, and dental visits, all of this under the shameless florescent glare of the supermarket.
Carts pushed by old ladies, carts carrying babies (babies, for christsakes!) will wheel past you. You will probably be having a panic attack at this point as you imagine the rotors and pistons, the clunks and whirs of the machines working day and night to churn out our Breakfast Choices! Is it possible that humans only exist in order to make their own breakfast? you will worry as your heart slams against your ribs. Is this the point, the purpose, the pasteurized, calcified, magical mantra we’ve all been seeking?
It is just you and the cereal aisle. The cereal aisle! An entire aisle dedicated solely to cereals! The black, thick-drawn eyebrows on the cavity-laden bunny will narrow. The eyeballs on the honey-licking bear will squint. The hairs will raise on the back of the cardboard tiger. You are going to be swallowed. You cannot escape.
The almond-raisin panic will be all around you now. Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day, you will insist defiantly. It can’t be. It’s not even real food. It’s just sugar and food coloring. But, nothing you can say or do can stop what has already begun. The incomprehensible energy the human race has spent in denying this truth, in inventing more fiber-stuffed guarantees, in reordering our brains to demand a screaming confusion of Monday morning abundance is too great. It will swallow you, and this leaves two possibilities.
You may become the first human to be cereal-killed. Or else, you will walk out of the store, with or without paying, pushing a cart full of cereal boxes, worried only that you have forgotten the milk.