Friday, September 29, 2006

That Damn Haley

"Haley! Haley! HALEY!"

Haley is the four year old across the street from my house. I hate her. I know you're not supposed to hate children or babies, but I do not like Haley. Or maybe it's that I don't like her parents who spend half their time calling her name, telling her not to go into the street, asking her if she wants to go inside, begging her not to scream because has the most annoying, bratty sounding scream you've ever heard and it goes off every five minutes without fail. I guarantee that she hears her name at least 500 times a day. At least. She will respond only after the third "Haley." I bet they even spell it some stupid way like Heylee or Haillye or Jualee (though who am I to talk). For our Halloween party, I've been thinking about going as a Fishtown person, but that just seems too easy and pretty mean and not very clever in any way. Every year, I obsess about Halloween costumes and every year I wait until the last minute. My criteria for Halloween costumes are:

*Must be somewhat cute, but not too cute--not like a fairy or a princess or anything. Jodie does not care about cuteness. Neither does my friend Liz, who once came to a party dressed as Dustin Hoffman in his role as Tootsie and bore a striking, uncanny resemblance. Jodie once went as a balding, moustached Gus, the Rotarian.

*Must be somewhat clever or have a twist. Hence "Miss Fortune," and the Freudian slip costume and, less cleverly, Condom Girl and the conceptually interesting but poorly executed "Mermaid Caught in a Net."

*Must be somewhat violent. I just like to have blood on me.

Send ideas.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Our Town, by Arthur Miller

On the way to the bus this morning, I had the following conversation with the old guy who owns this car shop on the corner of Norris and Frankford. Please keep in mind that all of this is happening as I'm passing his shop, still continuing to walk.

Him: Hey, there pretty lady.

Me: Good morning.

Him: Don't tell me you're going to work right now. Tell me your going to Atlantic City.

Me: I'm going to work so I can afford to go to Atlantic City.

Him: You married?

Me: No.

Him: Got a boyfriend?

Me: Yes. We live together.

Him: Ain't that a shame.

I don't know if I should be flattered or depressed. I'd be depressed if he thinks he seriously has a shot. It was kind of sweet--kind of small townish, but on the other hand, if I turn up missing, you now have a clue as to who kidnapped me and took me to AC.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Kitty Cat Fight Club

Shawn says, The first rule of Kitty Cat Fight Club is that no one interrupts Kitty Cat Fight Club because then the participants pretend they weren't fighting. In our house, we now have daily entertainment/torture of Henri and Ernesto wrestling with each other, swishing their tails, bowing their heads in a slightly Tae Kwon Do way as they face off. At first, I worried that Ernesto would be too much for Henri and that Henri would get all freaked out and run away. Instead, Henri stands his ground and actually initiates some of the rumbles. Ernesto makes grumbling noises in his throat, but it doesn't seem like they're really upset with each other because they don't hiss or run away. I am shocked at Henri's behavior. He never ever never would've done that with Gretel.

I've been having my kitty dreams again--that's the dream where I am in charge of many, many cats and can't manage them all. The other night, I had to take care of three litters of white kittens, all different ages and all in separate locations. Mixed in with the kittens was a litter of puppies, also pure white. Each group had six, so that's about 24 small animals I kept having to look for and keep from dying. At the same time, I was being pursued by vampires. Am I like ten years old that I have frightening dreams about kittens and vampires? Last night, I dreamt that I met Peter Krause, the guy who played Nate on Six Feet Under. He had given up acting and was becoming an artist instead. I was quite relieved in the dream because I thought this would make him less popular and therefore more accessible to non-famous me. He gave me his address and told me to stop by after work. I subsequently lost his address and drove around for the rest of the dream frantically trying to find him.

My friend Dave told me there is not enough "dave" in my blog. But really, many of the stories I could tell about him are inappropriate for this forum for one reason or another. Okay, here's one. Our first year in grad school, we all went out a lot, but Dave was the king of staying out late. He could start the evening at 5 p.m. and end it at 5 a.m. without ever looking the worse for wear. However, I do remember there was one night when we went to play pool at Sharkies and he drank way too much but wanted to go out for more. I think he and Brian ended up buying some alcohol and drinking. I went home. The next morning, I was walking to the coffee shop and saw Dave ambling towards me in the same clothes from the night before. He was disheleved, his hair all over the place. He had a poppy seed stuck in his teeth. He said, I slept on the golf course last night. I said, Oh, okay. I didn't tell him about the poppy seed.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Am i cool enough to be here?

The Rocket Cat Cafe on Frankford and Norris. Must have funky sneakers to enter (negative--I'm wearing black flip flops). Must have a minimum of two tattoos, preferably in black ink only (failed again and I suppose moles don't count, nor does my one odd ear piercing that every fourteen year old girl now sports). Funky t-shirts and low slung jeans with chain wallet are the norm (again, no. Black cotton drop waist dress and oh, God, I bought it at Target). Here are the points of intersection where I don't look so out of place: I'm slightly dishelved, I have my laptop, I ordered a regular coffee and not some fancy pansy coffee drink that takes twenty minutes to make which puts the pixish, mostly unsmiling barrista off, I recognize the indy band playing (Rilo Kiley and have seen them in concert, thanks to Danny and Julie), and I live in the neighborhood. I won't be invited to any parties or band openings or CD releases at the new upstairs portion of Johnny Rockets like my friend Carrie, but I can sit here at the Rocket Cat, sweat sliding down my back because of the humidity and take advantage of the free Wireless and hope some of the coolness leaves a tiny shine on me for just a few mintues before Shawn picks me up to take me to the lawn and garden center.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Oh, work.. getting in the way of my personal blogging time. We are crazy here and as soon as I wake up, I'm thinking about what I need to get done and then the day runs away. Seriously, I looked up from writing something on Wed. and realized it was 3:30 p.m. and did not know how I got there. But Amanda and I get to work with really cool and famous people like the photographer Nick Kelsh who we fell in awe of yesterday b/c he told us he's been on Oprah twice, written nine books about photography, and has collaborated with Anna Quindlen, who I love. He also said that Katie Couric is very nice in person (he's been on the Today show several times as well). AND he bought us drinks and drinks--we are quite easy to please.

A photo from one of his many books:

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Why I Love My Friends

Padhraig sends cat bereavement card along with a photo of his dead dog and a copy of the new Justin Timberlake CD. He writes:

"Dear Aimee,

Sorry to hear about your cat. He was always my favorite. The older one seemed like a bit of a dick. I didn't really mean that. I hear there is a new cat. Hurrah! See you soon.

P.S. Have seen picture of the new cat--cute! But not as cute as our family dog, Cracker, who passed away last year. She was a vicious bastard. We loved her. See enclosed.

P.P.S. J. Tim is actually not that good!"

Padhraig used to always refer to Jodie and my cats as "it." As in, "How is it? What's it doing now?" He took care of Puddy when Puddy had a tumor the size of a grapefruit on her mouth. I believe he knew that Gretel was a girl cat and not a boy, but I could be just saying this to make myself feel better. I wish I knew how to use my scanner and I'd add the pic of his dog Cracker, who is stretched out on a red blanket with a bone in her mouth. She may or may not have legs. It's hard to tell.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Ode to Kelly Graf

Yesterday was Kelly’s last day at work and both Amanda and I have been suffering low-grade depression over her departure. I’ve been waking up most mornings feeling slightly blue and not at first sure why—until I remember, Oh, yes, Kelly’s leaving.

Of course, she is not moving to Alaska and will, in fact, be about five miles away as the city pigeon flies, but there won’t be a Kelly in her cubicle at work with her i-Pod on, coming up with brilliant ideas for how to snag alumni, and she won’t be in meetings with me any more where I spend half the time thinking of ways to make her laugh, and she won’t be walking with us to 7-11 to buy Diet Cokes and cigarettes. That is the hardest part about someone leaving, how it creates this hiccup in your day, a loss of the familiar.

For the record, I highly recommend her as an employee. She spent every second this week sweating to get everything done before her last day—was almost late for her fond farewell happy hour because she was trying to tie up loose ends and keep pace with more than one last minute edit and changes to projects. I almost had to slap her when she offered to take work home this weekend. I said, Kelly! You’re done. You’re not going to be paid for this. But she said “I feel bad…” She did not suffer at all from the f-you-itis most people leaving a job often come down with. On Friday, I heard her patiently disagreeing with an irrational vendor she never has to deal with ever again when she could’ve been like, “You know, Joe, I have to go. My skirt just caught on fire. Sorry!”

We will miss you, miss you, miss you and hope to have you in some classes next year!!!! KIT, BFF, remember the Alamo, and stay gold ponytail girl!

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Zena at the Mermaid Inn, Saturday afternoon

I was home probably playing Sims. I am represented in this picture by the camisole she's wearing which never looked right on me.

What next?

Driving through my neighborood this morning in the rain, I spotted a white horse grazing on a strip of green grass next to the road. Not in a fenced in area, just hanging out on someone's side yard chewing and looking around. I don't know if you're aware, but white horses are good luck. I already knew today was going to be good because it was raining when I woke up at 6 a.m. to get ready for an early outdoor photo shoot on Ambler's campus. The rain has made it impossible to go on said photo shoot which makes me very happy because I didn't want to drive my car all the way out there in the morning Schuykill traffic or take the 7:30 shuttlebus from Main. We have successfuly rescheduled for Monday at 3 p.m. And I bought really good coffee from Rocket Cat. On the less sunny side, our neighbors continue to do things like using a jackhammer at midnight to--I don't know, construct a wishing well? Demolish their back patio? In related news, Haley has a bicycle. She can't yet ride it, but she pushes it around on the sidewalk. "Haley! Haley! Get on your bike! Pedal! Goddamnit, have fun, Hale!"

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Eye(s) of Newt

We have a new neighbor, a photographer from New York, who just bought the house two doors down from us. He has spent the last several weeks staying up until all hours of the night knocking down walls and doorways with a sledgehammer, scrapping paint, pulling up floors, and generally trying to get the house into a different kind of order. It's a huge place, three floors high and goes way way back. Newt chain smokes, stomping out his cigarettes on the floor with his boots. I'm not sure what the real color of his hair is b/c he's usually filthy, and he always shows up at our house with a bottle of beer swinging from his fingers. He has leant us tools and gloves and masks and a wet vac and only ever really borrowed our can opener which barely chews open metal. He has a fluffy yellowish dog named Mia with crooked ears who would like to eat my cats up in two snaps. He got her in Italy, I think. He also lived in China for ten years. He truly believes that anything the U.S. produces research-wise is b.s. and that you can find better information on the Internet. We like him.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Kill Scooter Libby

In the continuing evidence of socioeconomic disadvantage = loudness, a bunch of fourteen year old boys were riding scooters up and down our street from about 2-3 a.m. on Friday night. If you have never heard a scooter motor, it sounds like the cross between a chainsaw and a badly-oiled lawnmower. Though I have always been in support of gun control, that one hour that I lay there wishing the deaths of those adolescents has me fully convinced that there should be a long waiting period to buy a handgun. Where are their parents? Are they drunk, passed out, high, staying the night somewhere else, all of the above? You'll hear a gaggle of young girls walking by at 1 in the morning in their flip-flops too. And then yesterday, the scooter was out again full force, a baby was crying, someone was banging a chain link fence, and cars were roaring by every ten seconds. Shut up!

In the meantime, the cats continue to romp and even eat together. It's a relief that they get along. But who wouldn't love this (completely unposed!) thing:

Except sometimes, he does naughty things, like climb into the rafters:

And here is the photo of Shawn, me, and Zena making it possible for Ernesto (his name, it appears) to have a huge jungle gym above our heads in the kitchen:

And here is the kitty who I still miss with all my heart (and who would beat the shit out of the new cat):

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Won't You Be My F-ing Neighbor?

Here is what it sounds like in Fishtown or rather, here is how my neighbor’s sound, the people across the street who are invisible—I never see them. I only hear them; they are like animals. There’s a little boy who screams and screams, he wails, he may not even be crying, he sounds like the ghost of a little boy—so mournful and unhappy and fucking loud. Then a woman, maybe his mother, who uses the same hard voice with exclamation points to say everything. “Haley! Get in the house! Now!”

Oh, I just turned off the lights in the living room to be less visible myself and saw her. She’s slightly overweight with blond hair on top of her head in a peroxide bun. She’s wearing a gray t-shirt and white pants. “Get in the house! Get out of here now! I’m bringing your stuff in now. Get back from the door! NOW!” Some guy walked by yesterday while they were caterwauling and said loudly “I’m glad I don’t live on this block with you people screaming all the time!” They have a little dog that sits in the window on the second floor, looking out. The kid is not crying now. She’s bringing in his furniture. I thought it was the house beyond down from them with the tall fence. She has such a hard voice, probably from yelling all the time. I don’t know what Haley looks like, only that she’s bad because she is always being shouted at and she’s always off down the street somewhere.

When I first got home, someone was playing AC/DC cock rock music. I didn’t even notice until the family started yelling that they hadn’t been home before that. They came back and the music shut off. One disturbance replaced by another, all with the occasional back noise of the Norris Street bus swooshing by, leaving exhaust fumes in its wake. And the constant sound of people’s footsteps walking in front of the house. And the tinkly-tinkly maddeningly repetitive sound of the ice cream music as it makes its 500th round through the neighborhood.

Dear God, something else is wrong with the little boy again. How could he possibly be this distressed all the time? Wa—wa—he literally cries, Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! He can talk though (sort of—it’s hard to understand what he’s saying most of the time because he’s crying). I can’t be good for a child to be weeping more than fifty percent of the time that he’s awake. “Give me it! Give me it!” He’s crying yet again. For at least the tenth time in fifteen minutes. I think his name might be “Shane” or “Shame.”

The woman says, “Where you going? Where you going? Hale! Haley, if you don’t act right, you’re going in. I mean it. You’re going in.” She has to repeat everything at least twice. It sounds like she has rocks in her throat. I think “going in” is one of the worst threats she has. I wonder what it’s like inside their house.

Someone just ran down the street calling, “Piece of shit! Piece of shit!”

A one hypodermic needle, two used condoms morning on the way to the train stop the other day.

I guess maybe we are a curiosity to them, if only because we don’t sit on the front porch and yell at each other. Give us time. We’ll get there. I wonder if it will be offensive for me to go sit outside with my laptop to connect to the random Internet signal and post this to my blog. I’ll fit right in.

Omigod, okay, I'm outside right now and I have made a startling discovery. The crying little boy is really a little girl named Haley. She's bare foot on the sidewalk wearing a pink shirt and pants, her hair pulled back in a ponytail. Her brother or friend or whoever is playing with her by bouncing the basketball on the chain link fence. She cries whenever she doesn't get her turn. I guess maybe it's not so traumatic after all. I don't know. I don't know why she cries so much, but I know that I will start crying if that fucking kid doesn't stop banging the basketball against the fence.

Zena, Zena, Zena

I gave Zena my blog address and so now I have to write a little something about her every day or I will lose my audience with her completely. She came in from her jaunt to Ireland near midnight on Friday night and immediately had two shots of Jaggermeister (thanks, Jimmy). She was a little delirious, since she had been awake for the last 30+ hours. The next day, we started out by going to brunch at Johnny Brenda's where we all ordered Bloody Mary's. I made the mistake of leaving the table to pee and came back to discover that Shawn had ordered three double whiskeys or Scotches or something. We drank them, not wanting to be rude. The rest of the day unfolded similarily--hold on, my boss is demanding that I work right now.

More later with photos...