Hi, We’re the New People in the Building

Don’t let this face fool you.

This cat is an asshole. She derives some sort of feline pleasure from occasionally tormenting our dog Petra … she will threaten her by not allowing her to pass by or walk through a door or she will latch on to the back of Petra’s neck or nip her ears. It’s not something I condone or allow, but I don’t always catch it before it happens. When it does happen … everyone, but everyone, knows. Because Petra screams at the top of her little Chihuahua lungs just as if someone were trying to murder her. Now you might say, of course she does! I would too!  But the thing is, Shaylee doesn’t always actually make contact, and when she does, it’s not as horrific as it sounds.  Shaylee’s intent is not to hurt so much as to amuse herself. Remember, I did say she was an asshole.

The key thing here to remember is, Shaylee doesn’t always make contact. Sometimes she just gives Petra the ol’ cat stink-eye. However, if she’s stalking Petra and Petra knows it, Petra will scream … figuring the best offense is a good defense, I guess. Scare ‘em off with crazy.

This sibling intimidation hasn’t happened in a while and I can only assume that rather than the fulfillment of my hope for a peaceful, harmonious familial unit, it was instead simply because Shaylee was a little rattled after the move to the condo we now call home. (I will digress here a moment just to mention that unlike the noise dampening construction you might expect in privately owned condos, ours is more like your standard apartment building … we’re all well aware of what everyone else is doing at any point in time.)

At any rate, round about midnight last night, I’m pretty sure the neighbors think I killed my dog.

Welcome to the neighborhood.

A Little Game Called Doorbell Dodging

I am sitting in my comfy chair, in my fudge stained favorite sweatshirt, hair pulled back in an unkempt knot at the back of my head.  My teeth aren’t brushed, no make-up on, coffee in hand, laptop on lap, Maury about to announce who the father is (I gotta know!).  I stop cold, a spoonful of Captain Crunch lifted to my mouth.  I hear a car, I hear footsteps…I know what is about to happen.  Yet I’m powerless to stop it.

The doorbell rings. Ugh.

I immediately go into Doorbell Dodger mode.  I haven’t moved this fast since I found out there was only one chocolate glazed donut left in the kitchen at work.

First step, shut off the TV (dang it, now I’ll never know who the father is), then dive head first under the coffee table and hold my breath.  I can’t recall if I closed the curtains on the front door, and darn it, I see the visitor doing the “shade the eyes and look through the window” thing; it’s really kind of creepy.   The doorbell rings again, then the mystery person knocks.   Maybe even a cheery “Hello” from the other side of the front door.  Is it my neighbor?  A friend?  Publisher’s Clearing House? Jehovah’s Witness?  The police looking for me after I jaywalked last week? I may never know, because I hear a scuffling of feet before a car door slams and the sound of a car engine fading into the distance.  I tiptoe to the window and gently pull the curtain to the side, not far, just enough to peep through.  Car is gone.  That was a close one, I narrowly escaped. Whew!

Now that the threat of invasion is over, I start to wonder about the identity of the mystery caller.  I open the door and check for packages, letters, any clues at all.  Now the burning question — other than who the father is, obviously, is…who was the random caller?  And why the hell were they at my door? The downside of Doorbell Dodging is that you will be obsessing the rest of the day over who it could have been.

I feel kind of hypocritical.  I post sweet statuses about my door always being open, I’ll always be there, night or day if you need me…but really, those are just statuses I copied and pasted because I was too lazy to think of one of my own.  The reality is, I don’t like unannounced people on my doorstep.  I’d say call me first, but I never answer my phone either.

I have learned to transform into full Ninja when I hear a car in the driveway; I’ll be locked in the basement before you even hit the first step.  When I miss the tires on the gravel, though, I can get caught short and have to hide behind curtains or furniture. I’ve gotten really good at, if I may say so myself.

What is it about a doorbell that turns us into secretive fugitives in our own homes?  The guilt of our actions makes us feel that our visitor has X-Ray vision and can see right into the bathroom, behind the shower curtain, and into your soul.

I don’t mind company if I know it’s coming.  Ok, I don’t despise company if I know that it’s coming a week in advance.  All right, all right; I will tolerate company if they have made a preset appointment a month prior and have stated the exact purpose and length of their stay prior to arriving.

I’d be a little more ashamed of this if I thought I was alone, but I know I’m not.  I am working on a few inventions for my fellow Doorbell Dodgers, if you’d like a sneak peek:

  • I am going to design a cover that turns my car invisible because I feel the car in the driveway is a dead give-away that I am doorbell dodging.
  • I will be inventing a table disguise that can be slipped on at a moment’s notice, transforming myself into a piece of furniture for the duration of the doorbell episode.
  • I have brainstormed the idea of stick-on house numbers that can be slapped over your real numbers, making your visitor think they are at the wrong door. I just can’t figure out how to install the numbers in stealth mode. Slipping my arm out the door long enough to affix the decals – and in full view of the intruder on my welcome mat, seems a bit awkward … not to mention alerting them to my whereabouts.
  • I have crafted suction cups for your hands and feet, so you can scale the wall like a fly and hang on to the ceiling to avoid detection. (this one is my favorite just in case you wanted to know)
  • I have recorded an endless loop of shower noises to be played over a loudspeaker, activated by the push of the doorbell. I have also recorded sneezes and horrible fits of coughing to scare the offender away.  For a small additional charge, you can upgrade to my recording of the barks of St. Bernards, German Shepherds and Great Danes with a voice frantically screaming, “Get back, get back!” in the background.
  • When all else fails, I have created a pair of “pants” that slip on the front only, so it appears you are wearing pants when you answer the door. This is a last resort … a Hail Mary if you will. Just be careful to remain facing your visitor at all times.

Let’s face it, the doorbell can ring at any time; it’s just a matter of when.  Always be alert, and until I can roll out my aforementioned handy-dandy inventions, be prepared:

  • Have a blanket the same color as your couch cushions to throw over you when the doorbell rings
  • Practice your escape route often. Be prepared to hurtle over barking dogs and dodge obstacles in the hallway for a clean escape.
  • Have more than one hiding place in case someone else in the house beat you to the first one.
  • Plan a spot to meet your family in the house after the visitor is gone so you can monitor windows in case he changes his mind.
  • Never let your guard down. Doorbells can ring at all hours of the day and night.  You are never really safe. Practice your stop, drop, and roll crawl across the living room floor on a routine basis.
  • Remember that sometimes a visitor will remain on the step for a minute or two after the last door chime. This is a trap that has caught many unsuccessful doorbell dodgers in the past.
  • Keep a pair of pants by the front door, just in case.

All kidding aside, anyone is welcome to my home, any time.  Just sign up for an appointment, call me in advance, and answer my prescreening questions.

Also, bring a bathing suit and be careful; that moat is full of alligators.

Moving and Grooving … Not So Much

When I heard that moving and changing jobs were two of the items in the Most Stressful Life Events, I decided hey…I’ll do both at once.

To those of you who pull up roots and move across the country, kudos to you.  That seems like a lot of fun (said no one, ever).  Your accomplishment almost makes me feel badly for complaining about my semi-local move.

Almost.

Now, I decided in all of my wisdom to take the new job first, and commute back and forth while arranging my physical move.  Why not?  How can it possibly be bad to slide into my new position, over an hour away, while trying to arrange moving companies, downsize my belongings, and pack for the move?

First, let me say that I am moving from an area with high tourism this time of year.  Second, let me say, I hate tourists.  Thank you, young family in the mini-van, for playing something on your car DVD player that I could watch while stuck in the bumper to bumper traffic during my commute.  Thank you, as well, Mr.  Older Gentleman in the baseball cap for keeping me safe by refusing to drive at the speed limit.  And a special thanks to all those who somehow manage to crash their cars so perfectly that all travel lanes are blocked in all directions, at rush hour.

And did I mention that I live over a bridge? Not in the troll variety, but definitely in a pain-in-the-ass variety. As in a bridge that is the only way in and the only way out of my little piece of hell. Picture this, if you will, 10 to 12 toll lanes spread across an expansive highway, chock-full of vehicles as far as the eye can see, who, once through the toll lanes, ALL must merge down into two – count them, people, two! — tiny bridge lanes. It goes about as well as you would think. Fun and games, people, fun and games.

And let’s not forget the truckers … all of whom seem to travel at the same time (I mean, really!?) and all of whom, instead of coordinating their driving so that they all make their way through one end of the toll entrance or the other (I don’t care which, just pick one!) would rather spread out into numerous lanes across the vast sea of traffic and then, using their sheer size and apparent disregard for simple etiquette, squish whole lanes of vehicles into an untraversable funnel that keeps everyone involved from moving forward.  What did I say above? Fun and games. I honestly think that if people truly knew how to take turns AND if trucks could please, for the love of God, just follow each other through the toll lanes, that traffic could be eradicated on the Bridge I hate so much. As it is, it’s like trying to pour mud through a pinhole.

When I finally complete my hour long, now turned three hours long, trip to the House of Forgotten Boxes, I need to organize, scrutinize and itemize my belongings before stuffing them all in bags with sticky notes that say, “Dining room,” “Bedroom,” and “Who cares?  I should have tossed this out years ago.”  I believe my belongings multiply in direct proportion to how many hours I have spent driving. Seriously, it’s true.

It’s amazing the things you convince yourself to keep when you are moving. What should be a purge instead becomes a stroll down memory lane.  “Awww, the receipt from that one store I went to that one time somewhere I don’t quite remember, three years ago.  Better keep that, I may need to return whatever the hell this was.” “Look, it’s my Halloween costume from sixteen years ago.  I can use this again someday.”  “It’s my favorite Crocs!  Ummm…okay, never mind, I can throw these away.”

My new job is great, and the people are fantastic.  I feel a little lost when they discuss local adventures; I feel that I almost understand, but then they throw some twist in there that makes me do a Google Search later.   “Let’s get crabs at Dave’s after work, his lawn mower opened that chicken egg last Christmas.”  I nod and smile.  I may even try to act like I know.  “Ah, yes, Dave certainly did pick that oyster out of the chimney.” Blank stares follow, and they all talk about me over the water cooler at lunch.

I haven’t learned the shortcuts of my commute yet, either, and when people ask how I get to work they offer all sorts of useless advice.  “Oh, you should have turned at that snowball stand on the west corner of the dirt road.”  One day I’ll get it, but for now, I am lost in every way.  And that’s just the commute.

At work, in my new building, I am convinced that people randomly switch floor stickers in the elevator.  I find myself wandering around the rooftop looking for the printer, or down in the basement with the janitor, who, as it turns out, is a lovely person despite his overall serial killer-like vibe. He gave me a wonderful recipe for salmon fritters.

At home, I am surrounded by boxes that clog once familiar doorways, causing me to get lost in my own house, which is saying something considering the size of this house (have you seen my house? It’s small … as in tiny, like Jerry’s mouse-hole tiny).  I haven’t seen the kitchen in a week, but my daughter tells me it is still there.

Image result for jerry's mouse hole house

I have been on the phone for about three weeks trying to schedule my new cable in my new house, and I have been assured a cable worker will be at my new home sometime between now and December 23, 2022.  Somehow, my mail has been getting lost.  At least, that’s what I’ve been telling the bill collectors, but I’m not sure how much longer they will keep buying it.

As stressful as all this is, I know it will be worth it in the end to be settled in my new home and job.  But for now, I believe I may have crossed through the third gate of Hell.

And obviously, I can’t find my way back.