Strange few days indeed. With the usual thoughtfulness of the management of Shitzville Apartments, a photocopy of a note written in marker appeared on everyone’s doors saying that new cable lines would be installed starting that day. With no other explanation at hand, Mom called the manager. Yes. Starting that day. No, no free cable (fuck!), just re-wiring. No, won’t have to move anything (you’ve never been in our apartment have you?) Oh, you put in a work order a couple of weeks ago and maintenance never came? I’ll put another one in (gee, that’s big of you).
We learn from our friendly neighborhood informant that the cable company would have installed the lines, but the management wouldn’t let them. Instead they got Clowns-R-Us to install it cheaper.
Soon we also learn from one of the Clowns-R-Us men that yes, the next day, they will invade the living room and bedrooms of everyone. Said clown drilled a hole in our ceiling at the side nearest the door, and dangled three thick cable cords down into our apartment suitable for braiding. One might say, “Oh that’s going to be so tacky dangling those cords down by the ceiling,” but considering the area commonly used for putting one’s dining table instead has many overflowing boxes of junk about shoulder-high, I don’t think we have much of a foot to stand on with the Tacky Police.
My bedroom is chaos. My desktop computer is usable, my bed with the 1970s (vintage!) mattress is sleepable, the first couple of drawers on my chest are get-attable, but other than that: Screwed! My doll collection is on the walls and wherever else the packages have landed, boxes and boxes of books everywhere. This ain’t gonna cut it, so I know I must cut some of the books loose not vital to my own reading, collecting, or casual ebaying.
This is probably what is going to stop me from becoming famous on reality TV. I sort of hoard, but I have yet to attain the Collyer Brothers’ Housekeeping Seal of Approval. I just don’t hoard anything weird (well, that’s subjective) or gross. I have no urge to keep milk cartons (though I believe I can see their logic in doing so -“Hey, I can use this plastic milk carton for Kool-Aid, and when I die, you can use it to keep my ashes in it instead of an urn!”). I sure as hell ain’t keeping milk past the expiration date. Though I’m fat as all get out, I’m a very picky eater. As for the nastiness factor, I can’t stand roaches and we seldom have them, but if I see one, it puts me off eating in the house the rest of the day. Fun fact though: I feel guilty if I kill one, though I’m perfectly OK with their murder by the exterminator or Mom. Our home is dusty, smokey, and now and then you get a scent of eau d’ chat because Oscar has “territory issues.” But, hey, the kitchen and bathroom are clean.
I’ve actually seen places that were the epitome nasty. Once I went in someone’s trailer and saw so many roaches, hundreds! Crawling everywhere, not scattering in a way that made me think they were aware of their victory over the pitiful souls living there. It was an obsessive-compulsive’s worst nightmare. Shit, it was anyone’s worst nightmare…anyone, that is, but the people who lived there.
At this very apartment complex I’ve seen a couple of apartments that had blackened counters and bathrooms once the people moved. Also, at our old house, the guy who bought it really doesn’t give a flip. Got an extra fridge? It’ll look great in your front yard among other debris and old cars is his motto. I’m sure our old neighbors hate us for letting Asshat buy our home for 20k paid in installments that often were late. What upsets me is the plants he deliberately killed. Azaleas and hydrangeas deliberately cut down and killed -I know they didn’t feel it logically, but mentally it upsets me ( I’m not even much of a tree-hugger or a gardener). I hope my mom’s tiger lilies and daffodils still come up just to spite him. I’mthough sure he murdered my dead grandfather’s rose bush, though heaven knows what horror is in the backyard now since he made a makeshift a tarp and wooden board privacy fence over the wired fence as soon as he moved in. At least our Sanford and Son Syndrome was mainly inside. Tsk tsk!
Days go by. No Clowns-R-Us return to finish. If they don’t come back soon, I am going to braid that damn cable! Various panels are off the hall’s ceiling. One fascinates my mom and I in particular because it appears to go all the way through the floor to the second story hall. W.T.F? Neither did the clowns appear to approach their task too tenderly, for paint and wood chips had come off too.
There are two possible explanations for Clowns-R-Us’ disappearance. Someone else started playing “Send in the Clowns” somewhere.
Too many people started cursing out the clowns, and knowing some of the folks living here, probably threatening to rip off their slap happy noses. Not all of us are docile sheep like my mother and I, though I sometimes wonder if we acted more like we were raised in a barn, we would get on a bit better in life.
Seriously, who wants clowns drilling a hole big enough for 3 thick cords to drop down, with a little extra room too for something to crawl in. The intention, then is to run said thick cords under the carpet into the living room and bedrooms. It would be enough to throw Mother Teresa into a rage. Talk about taking one’s lumps in a literal sense!
But ah to getting rid of stuff! So many books I found that did not have my life blood within them! I wouldn’t have parted with them though if they went to the trash. I give away just fine…throw away, not so much. Some went to the laundry room on a table where people throw their freebies and Watchtowers. Others I put by the dumpster (not in, that’s vital). I also put a porcelain doll on top of one box of books and someone took the books, but threw the doll away. Someone would have wanted her. Affrontedand wished I’d kept her. She was down ar the very bottom of the dumpster, the yuckiest part. There, in dumpster diver hell, I would only fetch out a real baby, or something REALLY awesome.
They came! Around 8-ish in the morning…too bad for me I had gone to bed at 4am. Half-asleep, I stumbled to the door. “Is it too early?” asked the head maintenance man, who accompanied a clown.
Yeah, come back in 6 hours. “No, just let me warn my mother.” Mom was bathing. Luckily I was semi-presentable. My hair was aiming for the sky and I had to hide my nightguard in my pocket (I grind my teeth), but I was dressed!
It doesn’t even look as bad as our informant led us to believe. The day before the maintenance man came and I have new outlets because half of them had stopped working. We have a new garbage disposal and the leaky faucets leak a little bit less. Shitzville wasn’t built in a day. The man who did it is the only one of the three who really does much. As he worked, he got a call telling him to fix someone’s closet rack who had been waiting three weeks.
The maintenance man told us it would have cost 45k to knock out sheet rock and install the cable if the cable company had done it. I can understand why Slumlord Millionaire wouldn’t want to pay that high of a price and it would be tons more disruptive. It isn’t nearly as bad as our informant made us believe.
I think I almost have my Christmas post ready…just in time for the March rush, too.
All of this was supposed to be a short update and intro to this poem. The best layed plans…
Life of a Compulsive Collector
There is a picture of me,
not yet age three.
Basket over my head.
Toys surround me.
A slight hint of chaos
in a picture’s confines.
I have always liked things.
Small girl at yard sales,
accompanying Mama to the flea.
Grab bags filled with trinkets,
grocery store vending machines.
Nothing that cost too much,
second-hand toys and plastic rings.
Granddad pushing me in a stroller.
We go to the schoolhouse when class is over.
The middle school kids are careless.
Pencils to find and seek,
an Easter egg hunt so to speak.
All passed our inspection –
From nubs up to their erasers,
to chew marked, or almost new.
Bathed in the bathroom sink,
sharpened by pocket knife too.
I grow older.
Mom has a menagerie of plants,
six fish tanks,
and a better job.
Barbies, Lady Lovely Locks, and She-Ra
kept court with
Jem (the doll that looked more like a Him).
At around age ten,
I make a plan:
I’ll always love toys
no matter how old I am.
At 33 I’ve kept that promise,
unfortunately with an addendum or two.
Books ancient to relatively new,
Cassette tapes I bought in my teens.
Boxes of stuff to sell and keep.
33 years to fill a hole in me,
hard to put away or set free.