Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween: A washout

In my ever-continuing quest to be the coolest neighbor ever, I purchased full-sized candy bars again this year for Halloween. On account of last year being glorious Halloween weather, we blew through our 120-bar stash. This year, I was determined not to run out, so I bought:
  • one box of full-sized Snickers
  • one box of full-sized Hershey's Milk
  • one box of full-sized M&M with Peanut pouches
  • two boxes of full-sized Skittles/Starburst combo
And then it rained. Oh, but it rained. And we maybe had 40 trick-or-treaters. Towards the end, I was giving every person who came to the door one of each. I said, "You have to take these. You have to save us from ourselves."

And still there are leftovers. Mostly M&Ms, Snickers and Hersheys. I don't know what it is about kids and Skittles-Skittles-bite-sized-candy-taste-a-rainbow-of-fruit-flavors, but it's all they want. It was the older kids who took chocolate.

A man came dressed as Sherlock Holmes with a young daughter. He was collecting candy for his son who was sick at home. I said, "Swine flu?" He said, "Nope, just a head cold." Then he turned to look at our glorious display of candy and he said, "You guys always have the best candy - full-sized bars and everything!"

And then I began to weep quietly, totally by accident, because I was so happy that the reputation I've been fostering is catching on. Scott mercilessly made fun of me for crying. That's okay. I still love him.

(Aside: Last night we watched a terrible film, Away We Go. Save yourself the trouble of seeing this. You think it's going to rock with Maya Rudolph and the guy from the Office since they're awesome. The part where it was written by Dave Eggers and directed by Sam Mendes means it should be out of the ballpark, right? Wrong, my friends! In any case, Maya Rudolph and the guy from the Office were talking about how they are more in love with each other than the other people are, and I was shocked to learn that people besides me believe this about themselves. I always exclaim to Scott, "We love each other so much! We are, like, so much more in love with each other than the other people who are in love with each other!" And it turns out I've been living a lie. Well, not living a lie, exactly, but really telling myself a story, that's for sure.)

The young people from down the street who have been pulling up our plantings? They came buy. I addressed about half of them by name, which seemed to scare the pants off of them. "How do you know my name?!" I said, "Uh, you told it to me and I remembered it?" I didn't remind him that it was when we called the authorities on them, because I was giving them candy and I'm trying to foster friendship.

I think it's working. I don't want to get too over-excited about it, but we didn't get vandalized at all this Halloween. And everyone was so nice! I love being a part of a neighborhood and community. It makes my heart happy.

In other news, our upstairs washer and dryer are installed and working. More on house projects on a different day.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nosiness and caring are such curious bedfellows

So many friends dropped by the house tonight while we surveyed our new digs. It was funny because I peered out the window just as a couple friends were doing a very slow drive-by. I ran out of the house and begged them to come in to behold the before picture.

They were the only ones who beheld it because as soon as they left, we started peeling up the carpet. By we I mean Scott. I tried to tie up the carpet in bundles with the twine we purchased over at Highland Hardware, but apparently I'm lame because Scott got up half a room of carpet before I tied up two bundles.

Things with the floors are not quite as grim as we feared. There is a pine floor underneath layers and layers of carpet. While pine isn't ideal, it's in WAY better shape than we thought from peeling up the corners and peeking during our showings. Of course, we will still need to have them sanded and finished, but we thought we might have to install new floors right away (I can't live with carpets on account of my allergies). A finished pine floor might not last our whole lives, but it will last a few years (during which time we can save up our money for everything we think we want to do).

The real chunk of heck may be the kitchen, but Margaret and I brainstormed some ideas that might really bring that room into the glory it deserves. Getting the floor up in there, though, may be a bit of a chore. Scott pulled up the carpet, which is glued to linoleum, which is glued to some kind of papery something or other that's glued to something made of wood, though we're not sure it's the pine - indeed it may be the subfloor. It's still a mystery.

But this is good news. There's a lot of work to do, but it's the kind of work I said I could do back in the day:

I want a house where people have made stupid paint and flooring choices or have maybe put up a stupid light fixture or two. These are the kinds of things I can handle.
Remember when I said that?

Anyway, the point here is that everyone cares so much about us that they had to stop by right away, but I also think they maybe were filled to overflowing with a bit of nosiness as well, which I don't begrudge one bit. Sometimes the two go hand in hand. Also, I have a caring/nosy streak a mile wide.

If you know us in real life and you know where the house is and want to do a drive by, I will welcome your caring and nosiness. If you bring your work gloves and want to help peel up the carpet, all the better.

Oh! I almost forgot. It turns out the neighbors have four kids. One of them recognized me right in my own yard! He said, "Hey, aren't you a stand-up comic?" I said, "Aren't you too young to hear any of my jokes?" It turned out that he used to go out with one of the teenager comics that comes to my open mic. He was a little older than he seemed. The kids just keep getting younger and younger looking.

The Artist also came by and surveyed things. He brought over his rototiller so he could dig us up a garden this weekend. He also brought by the plants he picked up at the farmer's market. While Dad builds us a garden on Saturday, I will be peeling up the carpet and the plastic-y crap off the walls in the bathroom. Yes, there is carpet in the bathroom. As far as the plastic-y crap goes, I don't know what they were thinking: Margaret lifted a spot and found beadboard underneath! I'm sure it will need attention, but still!

Anyway, the end. More on all this later.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Unneighborly neighbor update

I've offered regular updates about my new neighbor situation over here. There's an update. There's been an update for upwards of two weeks. I didn't write it because, well, I was afraid the neighbor would find it here and a scene would be made.

I would have no fear of this except that his royal highness, the Count of Suffolk Street, Scottula D. Buttox, casually mentioned to the new neighbor that I have a blog.

But, friends, I can no longer stay silent.

A short recap:
  • I over-rolled out the red carpet for the new neighbor
  • After my shame (and a month) had passed, I left her (and everyone else in the building) a box of homemade cookies and candies for Christmas
  • She replied with a tin of cookies containing mediocre chocolate peanut butter squares and delicious oatmeal cookies
  • I replied with a thank you note and a request for the oatmeal cookie recipe
  • She replied with a meticulously hand-written letter one full page long containing both the recipe and her hot tips for how to make cookies better, which were extremely involved and which I summed up here in about 1/20th of the number of words
  • I was offended that she sent me cookie tips because I had made her some pretty fucking awesome cookies, but then chose not to be offended after anonymous advised me that she was trying to find common ground and obviously we both like cookies.

I showed the letter to a couple friends and asked them for their take. JBo said, "Listen, you're even now. You did something crazy with the shouting down the stairs. Now she's done something crazy with this letter and you're even."

I took real solace in this.

Two weeks ago I was arriving home from my extremely painful massage about the foot to alleviate the bastard plantar fasciitis. As I climbed the stairs, I heard our door open. I shouted up the stairs, "Darling, is that you?"

It sure was him. But he wasn't opening the door for me. Seems the new neighbor had knocked. She wanted to borrow an egg. I arrived at the top of the stairs just in time to inform her that we were plumb out of eggs, but that I could offer her dried egg-white powder, which works in a pinch.

She declined, but we got to talking, all casual and friendly-like about things.

Somehow, and I don't know how, I mentioned that my sister is a phlebotomist.

Her reply, "No offense, but you could train a monkey to do that job."


I said, "Well, my sister is a human being who is a phlebotomist."

And she said again, "No offense, but you could train a monkey to do that job."

Scott and I started this whole trying-to-prove-that-Tesia-has-mad-phlebotomy-skillz-and-isn't-a-monkey thing. We're hopelessly devoted to her, after all.

Then she started talking about how serious she was about her cookie tips, and how important it is to avoid flat cookies by adding extra flour. (Aside: my cookies were definitely not flat!)

Scott started telling her that I worked in a bakery for six years. She wouldn't hear it. She just kept repeating her tips (or un-tips, as the case may be).

Then she asked me what radio station I work for. I told her. She replied, "My sister hates Country music."

Um, well, uh. "Great."

Our encounter ended with her telling us to stop by anytime. We said, "Yes! We will stop by!"

At first, upon mulling the whole thing over, I was wholly offended. Then I realized that this is a human who clearly does not know how to communicate with other people and her extreme negativity must come from a place of insecurity. I don't know how telling me my sister has the job of a monkey, that I need to avoid flat cookies and that her sister hates Country music helps her deal with her insecurities. And maybe this is just a story I'm telling myself so that we can all be pleasant if we bump into each other in the hall.

I have to admit, though, that I'm hella disappointed. I really, really wanted a pal in the building.

Of course I do have a pal in the building. He sleeps in the bed next to me. He's the Count Scottula D. Buttox.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Neighborly cookie tips

I'd like to take a moment to thank anonymous, who opined that my neighbor was extending a hand of friendship by offering cookie tips and I should ignore any bad self-esteem trying to undermine the friendliness.

And since Jennifer asked me to share the tips, here they are:
  1. Use real butter that has been softened for at least a half-hour before mixing
  2. Cream butter and sugar for at least 2 minutes
  3. Beat well after each egg addition
  4. Always add at least a quarter-cup of extra flour to cookie recipe

I agree with all of these except #4.

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Still more new neighbor news

I forgot to mention that when I gave my new neighbor that thank you note, I asked her for the recipe to one of the cookies she gave me.

She gave me the recipe and a list of hot tips for making cookies.

At first I was all, "How nice!"

And then my bad self-esteem was all, "Was that a dis?" After all, I gave her a box with samples of three kinds of cookies and two kinds of candy plus a small celophane bag of popcorn - all made with love in my kitchen. I even placed the "Home Made" sticker on the package that I found at Michael's. I think it was pretty clear that I know how to make cookies.

Then I thought, "Maybe they were so good, she didn't realize that I made them myself!"

Then I thought, "I'm over-thinking this and making myself insane!"

I'm choosing not to look at this as a dis and just as a person extending the hand of friendship because I'm sure that's what this is.

Psst! Jennifer Myszkowski is insane!

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

New neighbor update

I think maybe things are okay and my new neighbor doesn't think I'm a total psycho. I'm sure you remember how I rolled out the red carpet for my new neighbor. Good god. Even now just thinking of it, I'm red with shame.

Remember how Margaret suggested I wait several days and then casually present a welcome-to-the-neighborhood baked treat and then back away? Well, I tried to do that. I went so far as to leave a banana bread at her door, but she never picked it up. I finally took it in when I became concerned that I was now presenting a stale banana bread to a new neighbor.

Nothing says lovin' like something rock-hard from being several days out of the oven.

I ended up waiting and just giving her a box of baked goods when I gave all the neighbors a box of baked goods. And get this! She replied with a tin of baked goods immediately. How about that!

So then I replied with a thank you note and invited her to Open Pancake Hours, our new New Year's Day pancake open house. We'll see if she attends.

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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Scaring new neighbors since 2007

I've thought of a few taglines for myself.

Jennifer Myszkowski: the official unwelcome wagon of Suffolk Street

Jennifer Myszkowski: she doesn't just roll out the red carpet. No, indeed. She also rolls you up in it and suffocates you

When Jennifer Myszkowski alone isn't enough, there's shouting Jennifer Myszkowski to kick it up a few notches

"Need a cup of sugar? How about an egg? Come over for coffee!" It's the Jennifer Myszkowski good-neighbor megaphone


Margaret helped me refine the megaphone:

"Need a cup of sugar? Want to borrow an egg? Come over for coffee!" The Jennifer Myszkowski good-neighbor megaphone comes complete with these and 20 other pre-recorded messages. Car top attachment package optional.

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New neighbor alert!

We share the top floor of an awesome building in Holyoke with one other apartment. It's been vacant for about six months because the previous tenant, well, there's no nice way to say this: she turned yellow and died.

It wasn't all that surprising because in my four years here before she died, I never once saw her sober and she didn't usually remember my name. I heard her regularly, because although our giant old building here is pretty soundproof, the one place it isn't is in the bathroom, which contains the only wall we share.

It's weird when you only hear what happens in another person's bathroom. Also, when you remember (while you're tearing things up) that someone else can hear you.

Anyway, I saw her in the springtime, and at first I thought she had a tan. Then I realized she wasn't tan, but yellow. I was concerned about it, but I didn't know how to say anything. I didn't know her sons and I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do. I remember saying to Scott, "Man, she looks yellow; should I call somebody?"

A couple weeks later, I bumped into my downstairs neighbor in the hall and she said, "Did you hear about your neighbor?" She didn't even say her name. I thought it was weird.

"Which neighbor?" I asked.

"She died!"

"Who died?"

"Your neighbor."

It was a weird Who's on First situation, because she wouldn't say the deceased's name. Proof of effective communication skills aren't part of the lease application, it turns out.

My late neighbor had lived in the apartment since 1977. Thirty years in one apartment - you can imagine what would come of a place after 30 years. It took my landlord a long time to get it back into ready-to-rent condition.

(Aside: I'd like to just say that I have the best landlord ever. He really is great. He's a completely reasonable human and an attentive landlord - a great combination. The building is in beautiful condition. Also, he's not interested in anybody's business, which I found refreshing upon my arrival after the debacle that was my last apartment. Remember when I moved out of there? Gosh, I've been blogging a really long time. I would link to the whole story, but I took the old blog down. Maybe I'll find it in my personal archives and repost it. That would be a fun walk down memory lane.)

Scott and I have been really excited about new neighbors. Just now I was in the kitchen and I noticed out the back windows a van parked behind the building. Then I saw people coming up the stairs carrying household items. Then, before I could stop myself, I was running down the stairs to greet them. I even offered my services to help them unload the van.

I don't even unload the car. This is how excited I am about new neighbors.

I met the actual person who will be living in the apartment. She seems nice, but so does everyone when you meet them on the stairs, so time will tell.

But they refused my help. I started shouting and shouting about how excited I am to have new neighbors. "We've been waiting and waiting for new neighbors!" I shouted. I think I brought a little too much Jennifer Myszkowski-ness to the stairway meeting. I think I might have frightened them.

Oh, and it gets better:

After they rejected my over-zealous advances, I told her something about hoping to get to know her later and good luck and all that crap. Then I came into my house. Then I made myself some hot chocolate and put it in the microwave. While it was heating up, I started watching them out the window because I'm so excited and curious - and also because I was there. Great.

But then her friend looked up and saw me watching them like a stalker.

I was thinking of making her a welcome-to-the-neighborhood banana bread because I've got a bunch of bananas on their way out, but now I think I have to wait a few days and be a normal person so as not to cause the nice new lady any more alarm.


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