Not so Neighborly Neighbors

As you may remember, I moved to a new condo over the summer.  Adjusting to my last place was a bit of a challenge as there was never a moment of peace or quiet. Imagine if Grand Central Station and Hell had babies. Yes, plural. The paper-thin walls (practically curtains, really), and endless noise made me wish I could crawl into a soundproof box and go to sleep. I drew up plans for an underground soundproof bunker, but I couldn’t get the permit; apparently you have to actually own the property you want to enhance. So stupid.

After I moved, all was right with the world again, except for occasionally hearing my new neighbor’s ummm… boisterous… patio phone calls. If her conversations are any indication, both her ex and her vent buddy are on speed dial. In general, though, quiet reigned supreme.  We’re only a few months in, but I guess the gods that be thought I was just a little too snug in my surroundings and they wanted to shake things up a bit, as they are wont to do when things are going well.

You know the saying, “you never know what you have until it’s gone”? Yeah, well, what I had were two perfect elderly neighbors with a perfectly well-behaved labradoodle who was just as polite and laid back as his owners. Maybe you can see where this is going.

They moved. I know, right!?

When I saw their boxes being loaded in the moving truck, I didn’t realize at the time, but the boxes may as well have been labeled “Peace,” “Quiet,” and “Sanity” because when they left, they took all of those things with them.

Let me introduce you to my new neighbors.

There is a mom, a dad, two young hell spawn children, and a beloved family dog who weighs roughly 500 pounds.

They moved in right above me where the two perfect neighbors with their perfect dog once resided, and I believe their hobbies include:

Crying simultaneously, dropping bowling balls, marathon training in the living room, vacuuming after midnight, jumping from furniture, wailing “Old McDonald” at odd hours of the night, and so much more!

Also, I think they wear concrete blocks on their feet. Or else, they have a raging elephant infestation.

I’d blame it on the hell spawn, but it’s the whole family. The parents get it on the noise game too. On any given night, it sounds like they could be playing basketball, woodworking, amateur clogging, or quite possibly murdering someone.

And the dog doesn’t seem to like his crate, I’ll tell you that right now. It has apparently occurred to the Loud Family as well because they’ve taken to locking him in the bathroom. And while my heart truly goes out to this obviously lonely dog, the other night it sounded like he escaped — taking what I think was the bathroom door with him, and possibly ate someone, I couldn’t tell. The mind is groggy at 3 AM.

Oh, wait! I forgot the best part… the smallest hell spawn (just guessing from the loudness and intensity of the footfalls), runs from one end of the condo to the other at very weird times of the evening. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Chucky or the kid from Pet Semetary was up there running around when everyone’s asleep, it’s that freakin’ creepy.

I think about my perfect elderly neighbors and their perfect labradoodle often… and I have questions. Where did they go? Is it peaceful there? I wonder if I could join them. Do you think they would mind? I don’t take up much room and I’m quiet, oh so quiet.

It’s desperate thoughts like these that go through my mind at 1 AM, when I’m lying in bed listening to what sounds like yet another reenactment of a battle scene from the movie Braveheart. They may take our peace and quiet… but they won’t take our sanity!

 

 

Bookaholics Anonymous

I love books. I think I’ve mentioned it before. There’s just something about the smell of dusty pages that takes me instantly to other worlds, other universes, fantasy realms. I’m not a book snob though, I’m just as happy with e-books, audiobooks, second-hand paperbacks; hell, I’d be happy to have someone else read to me as I sit back with a glass of wine. To say my house is filled with books is an understatement. I look at it as having a living, growing library rather than hoarding though. Hey, don’t roll your eyes at me! It helps me get through the day.

So yes, hello everyone, this is my first time at Bookaholics Anonymous and I am a book hoarder. No, I don’t have books cluttering up my hallways (well, maybe just a few), but I do have a lot of books. A LOT of books.

Also, just so we’re clear, I will never stop loving books. You know that guy that thought his wife was a hat and he fell in love with the hat?  I fell in love with books, a long, long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away). As Cat Stevens said, “The first cut is the deepest” and I’m ninety-nine percent sure he was talking about a paper cut.

Seriously though, I think everyone is secretly in love with books anyway. I mean, think about it: you go to your local nightclub, everyone’s talking about “picking up” getting “checked out.” Deep down inside, we all love books so much we want to be books. We use the same lingo in a place where we get shhhhed as the place where we say, “Shhhhhiiiit, I’m soooo wasted!” Coincidence? I think not.

Books are good people. No, no, no, wait, wait, wait … I meant, “books are good, people,” not “books are good citizens.” That would just be crazy talk. See the importance of commas, kids?

So, the other day.  I’m in the library, my temple, my place of refuge, my sanctuary where all my friends hang out. Yup, they’re all there. All my BFFs, sitting patiently on their shelves waiting to be picked up, Treasure Island, The Count of Monte Cristo, Great Expectations. And I pick up this book by Alex Kava called Before Evil.

If you haven’t read Alex Kava’s Maggie O’Dell series, just what the hell are you waiting for?? Needless to say, I checked it out.

So anyway, I’m reading this book, and I see that the editor or proof-reader or perhaps both didn’t do as good a job as they really should have. Let’s just say there were some mistakes.  Mistakes even Microsoft Word’s menacing paper clip would have jumped on.

The sad thing is, this is becoming more common, even with well-known authors who have decent publishing houses behind them. And you know what? It’s not such a big deal for me. When I come across a mistake, I simply correct it in my head and move on. I’ll repeat, in my head.

However, the previous reader of this Before Evil book didn’t settle for simply correcting the mistakes in their head and moving on. Oh no. They had taken it upon themselves to correct all the grammar and editorial mistakes with a pencil. In the book.

Now some book lovers might rejoice, and others would shake their head at the idea of writing in a book … a library book of all things. I know that textbooks bear the brunt of a student’s study habits, and that’s all good.  But there are serious moral questions to be asked here. Is this a good thing or a bad thing, making corrections in a book? Should we all be literary vigilantes? We have guerrilla gardening, guerrilla knitting, why not guerrilla editing?

How to play: walk into any library, pick up any book and start correcting. Done. Easy-peasy, right? Congratulations, you’re a guerrilla editor! Better than being a gorilla (I’m told they can’t read, but I think they can and they’re just faking).

Is it bad to write in a library book? It’s not your property after all. It belongs to everyone. Is this person doing a service or a disservice to the readers who come after them?

In this case it was in pencil. So, it could be erased should the librarians choose to do so. But still, maybe someone doesn’t want those editing marks? Maybe for some it will prove distracting? Maybe the mistakes were deliberate and intended as some kind of post-modernist subversive statement? I mean, really, who are we to say?

Maybe the editor was having a tough day when Before Evil came across their desk. Maybe this veteran book editor, normally perfection itself when it comes to editing, was having a flashback to their previous workplace where they were bullied for not knowing the difference between an Oxford comma and you know, that other one, and they see an editing mark and completely flip out… they start tearing up books left and right, jumping on tables, and shouting at the top of their lungs: “You can’t shhhh me, I’m the gingerbook lady!” All to say that maybe, just maybe, they were having an off day in the proofreading department.

More importantly, how much of a grammar nazi do you have to be to do something like this?

But it gets worse … there I was looking at these marks, when I saw that the self-appointed editor had made a contentious decision. In one paragraph, they had crossed out the word “shrubs” and scribbled in “scrubs.”  But here’s the thing … the original word choice from the author was arguably right as the character was in fact making their way through some trees at the time. A person doesn’t dive into some scrubs unless they’re in a hospital and desperately need to get suitably dressed in a hurry to get to their own surgery.

Now there’s a book idea. Forget Before Evil.

Before Surgery.

Anyway, there I was, thinking: do I change the change? Do I edit the edit?

But then, what is the literary world coming to? If people are allowed to make edits all willy-nilly, however they want, will all editing of future novels be outsourced to the readers? What is this anyway, I suddenly asked myself? Wikipedia?

Missing Manners

I’m not sure what’s wrong with people these days. No-one has manners anymore. At least it seems that way sometimes.

A prime example just reared its ugly head earlier today.  I walk out of my condo to the smells of something incredibly yummy wafting on the breeze – and it’s obvious someone nearby, in my very building, has a scrumptious menu in the works. Do they not know the well-worn adage we all learned as small children: No food allowed unless you have enough to share with everyone?

If you’re going to torture the neighbors with delectable aromas, the least you can do is make enough for everyone. I mean, really.  Didn’t their mothers teach them anything?

Monday’s Fun Day

As you know from my previous post … this past Monday was a tough one for me. Some days, tragedy strikes when you just aren’t expecting it.  When it hits so hard, all at once, it can take weeks, months or even years to recover.  Sometimes, you never fully recover at all.

Monday turned into one of those days.  I almost feel ready to talk about it now. I will push through. For you, my lovely readers.

I was running right on schedule (translation, thirteen minutes and three seconds late).  I stumbled to my car before remembering that sometimes, just sometimes, you need car keys.  Thank God, I had forgotten to lock my front door and was able to walk right in to my house to get them.  Also, thank the Gods that be, I don’t live in a high crime area. Cause you know … open front door.

That wasted three minutes of retrieving my keys cost me my coffee stop on the way to work.  There I was, in full Monday Zombie mode, uncaffeinated.  I know, I know. That’s not a good thing for anyone.  I’m okay though, I thought, because there is coffee at work.  There is always coffee at work; my entire office worships the brown life-giving brew that enables us to think, socialize, and well, move at all.

Pulling into work, I see one spot left.  It isn’t much of a spot, but after maneuvering my car for six minutes, I was able to park in it and exit my car through the trunk.  It was at this very moment that I realized that I had forgotten my purse. My arms were too empty, you see.

Never mind the makeup, novel, phone charger, Kleenex, coupon book, six pounds of loose change, utensils (don’t laugh, have you seen the crusty knives at IHop?), travel mug, candy bars, protein bars to make me feel better about the candy bars, day planner, night planner, weekly planner, monthly planner, expired planner, frequent flyer fro-yo card, screwdriver, and other necessities for daily living, I had forgotten my wallet.  Still, coffee was just 6 flights of steps away (did I mention the elevator was out?), so who needs a wallet.

Normally I have no problem with the non-company outsiders using our facilities for their meetings, but Friday’s meeting attendees must have needed coffee to stay awake, as we all do, during their meeting.  I don’t begrudge them coffee, but they used all the creamer. They used the creamer powder we keep under the break room sink for emergencies.  They used those tiny little creamer pods we keep as back up to the powder for emergencies.  They raided the refrigerator and used the whole milk and cream (we don’t do half and half here) in there, too.  Hoof prints in the break room seem to indicate that they brought a cow in for extra milk.  I pictured people with plates piled high with creamer pods and powder, drinking mugs full of milk and creamer, laughing maniacally and high-fiving each other, “Ha!  No creamer for THEM on Monday!”

The very nice person who always, but always, stops on Monday morning to get our coffee and break room snack supplies didn’t.  I guess she was having ‘A Day,’ too.  Later, she said she could have sworn there was enough creamer left in the fridge to do for a few days … having taken a much-needed day off on Friday, she was not privvy to the outsiders’ shenanigans. I don’t blame her. Yet, there I was, all coffee and no creamer.  My spare creamer was in my purse.  At home.  My imagination played with me again, picturing a burglar sitting in my living room, watching Maury Povich, and helping himself to my purse creamer.

In case you are missing the importance of this, having no creamer in your coffee is like not eating popcorn at the movies.  It’s like non-alcoholic beer.  It’s a French fry with no ketchup.  It can be done, sure, but only by a savage (I’m looking at you Lee).  With no purse creamer and no wallet to slip out to Dunkin’ Donuts, I was facing a Monday without caffeine.  Monday Without Coffee sounds like a country music song, doesn’t it? Or a horror movie.

No wallet means no lunch, so now I am uncaffeinated and unfed.  This is a double whammy.  I think I may have lost a few friends that day.

Then, in a rare burst of energy, I decided to walk to the copier.  My heel broke, causing me to do a dance move I can loosely compare to the Hokey Pokey on speed.  My copies flew all over the hallway as I struggled to maintain my balance.  Why would my heel betray me?  Well, obviously it’s because the shoe was old and not because I have all the grace of a wounded wildebeest.

Naturally, it was National Blooming Idiot Day and everyone around me seemed to be celebrating.  I’m not sure if it was because I was unfed, uncaffeinated, unheeled, and temporarily unglued but these people were more idiotic than normal.

I’m sure you all can share my pain when I say I have a few people in my life who completely lack any sense of self-awareness whatsoever. While they wantonly cavort through my private life, they seem to be especially prolific at work. For those, I offer this piece of advice … when we tell you that you’re a piece of work … it is NOT a compliment.

To add insult to injury, here is Shari, her heathen cup of black coffee in hand, perky and bright.  “Gee, broke a heel?”

No, Shari, I always lurch like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.  You never noticed?  Gee, Shari, how did you not realize I have one leg shorter than the other?  Gosh, Shari, this is the newest fashion craze, you didn’t know?

Instead, I just mumbled “Yeah.”

Helpful Shari.  “Don’t you keep crazy glue in your purse?”

That was the last time Shari was ever seen. You’ll never find the body, I promise.

It’s in my purse.

Ever have a day like this?  You swear that if just ONE more thing goes wrong, you’ll snap.

Then the universe responds, “Challenge accepted!”

Hi Pot, Meet Kettle

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but nowhere is my hatred of people more evident than during my daily commute to and from work. Driving without impeding traffic just seems so simple doesn’t?  If drivers would just keep moving forward, there would be no traffic. But no. You have whole factions that want to take in the view of the lovely graffiti-sprayed concrete barrier walls as they meander along, clogging up the works for the rest of us.

And then there are those who hamper the flow of traffic simply because their driving style is selfish and rude, and worse, ineffective. “Oh! Is that a leaf blowing on the road!?  Traffic IS pretty heavy during rush hour. I better come to a complete stop just in case.”   “Well, look what we have here! This person coming off the ramp wants to merge in an area where they literally have nowhere else to go. I could get into the other lane or oh, I don’t know, slow down OR speed up to allow them over, but no. I think I’ll just go the exact same speed they are, so they are forced to stop and … voilà! There. Now, we have a nice funnel of jammed traffic for all to enjoy. My job here is done.”

Tailgaters are the worst. Don’t these drivers realize that we’re ALL in the same boat with regards to flow of traffic, etc.?  Do they think that if they intimidate the driver in front of them, suddenly, the traffic ahead will clear, and they can skate through to wherever it is their going?  From their attitude, it’s likely a destination that won’t suffer in the least from their absence. They’re not exactly smiling bundles of nice.  If you’re in the fast lane doing 80 in a 55-mph zone, you should rightfully expect to not have someone riding your bumper. Sure, sure, it’s the fast lane… but there ARE speed limits, you know.

Even more annoying are tailgaters in the slow lane.  I mean, if you’re tailgating me to the point that I can’t even see your headlights while I’m doing 70 in the slow lane … well, guess what? That’s right bucko, we’re back to doing 55. I don’t even care if I’m late to work. Does that make ME the asshole? I don’t think so.  It’s the principle of the thing.

 

Identity Crisis

My friend tells a funny story of identity theft and Facebook hacking, and it goes something like this:

“My daughter was 6 years old, and she saw me playing Farmville on Facebook.  There was nothing she wanted more than her own Facebook Farm, and I let her start one using only my hand-selected friends as her neighbors.  She worked at her farm for months before we both lost interest in the game.  A few months later, she revisited her farm on a whim. She logged in, only to find her account was hacked by someone in Lagos, Nigeria for apparently nefarious purposes.

Of course, I immediately sent Facebook a message confirming that she was only a then-seven-year-old from the US who had been hacked.  Out of curiosity before I closed the account, I checked on her farm.  Whoever had hacked her had continued to play her farm, bringing it to a level 96.  The farm was full of every animal and crop available, every object that game coins could buy, had been expanded, and it was amazing.  As I deleted the account, I had conflicting thoughts of how impressive and amusing it was that the hacker had built up the farm, that it was unbelievable someone from another country was in contact with my online friends and claiming Farmville rewards,  how sad I was that I couldn’t just move the farm to a new account for my daughter, and how equally sad the hacker probably was to realize that all of his months of farming were gone forever. And yeah, they could no longer phish for emails or defraud people of their life’s savings, so there’s that too.” 

This leads me to my thought of the day: why can’t hackers use their hacking abilities for good, instead of evil?  Hack credit card databases and erase everyone’s balances.  Hack the credit bureaus and give everyone scores of 835.  Hack into a store’s loyalty programs and quadruple everyone’s points.  Hack into Facebook and decimate our opponents in Words with Friends.

After the financial fiasco that was the fall-out from my divorce, if anyone tried to hack my credit information to use for a loan, they would be laughed out of the bank. You want a loan based on this mess? The loan officer would call over his colleague to share the joke. She wants a loan based on this mess, Barbara! Can you believe that!? The would-be identity thief would be escorted out of the bank by armed guards, given a lollipop as a consolation prize, and told never to return.  Hell, when all was said and done, he would probably end up sending me a sympathy card and $20 before deleting my records from his database.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel for those who have had this happen.  It is a disaster to straighten out and can linger on your credit scorecard forever.  But imagine if the thief would send postcards and pictures of his purchases and adventures?  It would be like an adult version of “Flat Stanley” or a slightly less fun “Travelling Gnome” prank.

Personally, I would love to see what an identity thief could do for me.  By the time it’s all over, I would probably end up with a credit score of 850, a new house, a nice car, and a home-based business in fruit sales.  I’d be curious to see where he would travel; would he take my identity to the Bahamas for a month?  A long, lazy trek through Europe? Hey, at least one of us should have the vacation of my dreams.

Or, he could just build my farm in Farmville to a level 96 and let me take it from there.  I’m easy to please.