Forgetting Pets

I have had fish for two years – the same fish.   I love these fish or at least I thought I did.  The other day as I was getting food for Sam, I was distracted by the sound of water running.  I turned around and jumped in surprise, which quickly turned to panic.  I forgot I had fish. 

It’s not the first time I have forgotten about a pet.  A few years ago, Lana asked me to catsit for her while she was on a business trip.  She had a rescue cat who hated everyone except me.  The cat loved to sit on my lap and lick me.  She had trained him to use the bathroom in the toilet so all I had to do was go to her place, flush the toilet and give him food twice a day.  She was going to be gone for five days. 

On the fourth day, I called my friend Grant.

“Hey Grant.  How’s it going?”

“Good, what’s up Elyse?  You sound weird.” 

He sensed my nerves as I stood outside my sister’s apartment for the first time in four days.  I shook head to toe terrified of the scene I was going to find when I opened the door.  I imagined the cat lying in his own urine emaciated with a single tear rolling down his face.  He would take one last look at me and whisper in meows, “you did this to me,” before taking his final breath.    

What would I do with his body?  What would I tell Lana?  I started to hyperventilate.    

“Ummm.   Uh.  You might think this is a weird question but can cats survive without eating for four days?”

“What?  What are you talking about?”  I started crying.

“Grant, I don’t want to go in alone.  I’m scared.  I murdered Lana’s cat.  I need you to come in with me.”

“Elyse, what did you do?” He started to laugh.  “You’re ridiculous.” 

“I’m catsitting.  Well…I forgot I was catsitting.  And now, I think he’s dead.  I feel so guilty.  Do you think he’s dead?”

Grant showed up at Lana’s apartment fifteen minutes later.  I was sitting on the stoop rocking back and forth like a crazy person.  I looked at him and gave him a weary smile. 

“Are you ready?” Continue reading

Writer’s Block

Let me just say it.  We’re all thinking it.

Writer’s Block is a bitch.

Just when I think she is impossible to beat, a great idea comes to mind.  Or it seems like a good idea until she cuts me off midsentence.   Just like that, the bitch appears, taking away my thoughts.  She laughs in my face.  She taunts me with empty pages.  She hypnotizes me with a blinking cursor.   She distracts me.   She gives me terrible ideas to write posts about like Why clouds are awesome, especially if we could stand, jump, frolic and nap on them.

I curse her as I backspace, deleting my words in frustration.  I will not let her win.  I cannot let her win but I know she will be back.  And when she is I’ll be prepared for a word fight.

But there is still today.  Today, I win.   I overcame.  I wrote a post about her.

I’m watching you Writer’s Block.

I’m back.

I had a dream about my blog last night.  I miss it.  It has been a few weeks since I have taken a moment to write.  I wish I had some great excuse like Sam peed on my computer but in reality, my absence is because life got in the way, particularly my job. 

When I started this blog, I was bored.  I had been in the same role at work for too long.  I loved my job but it was no longer mentally stimulating.  My life had turned into Groundhog Day.  All I thought about during my twenty-five minute commute was what I was going to write next.  I had mental lists of all of my favorite stories, reoccurring posts, which friend I was going to introduce next.  In my mind, I had laid my life out in a never ending story.  Every day was a new experience.  My stories were going to be new and old.  And they were endless. 

When I got to work, I wrote.  I mindlessly answered emails while keeping a draft open with my next post.  I sat in meetings day dreaming about my post, editing it in my mind.  I thought of ways I could make it better or better yet, how I would tell the story in person.  I read the words over and over; I read them out loud.  I spent my days perfecting every word, every sentence.  Tom teased me that Word Press had created a monster.  He was right.

I had not felt this rejuvenated in a long time.  It felt good to think again.

Not long after I started writing, the rumblings started at work.  Things were changing.  There were a lot of hallway conversations speculating what was coming.  Was it going to be good or bad?  Are we all going to make it through?   There was an uneasy feeling around the office.  But as things started to unfold, we realized the changes were going to be good.  For me?  It was really good.  All of my hard work had paid off and my complacency noticed – I was promoted.  And just like that, my focus shifted from my blog to work. 

I can’t stop thinking about work.  The bar has been raised.  I have to prove myself once again if I am ever going to get to the next level.  I want to be successful in my career.  But I also want to be successful in blogging.

So here I sit.  Tom is next to me watching Game of Thrones.  Sam is asleep on his dog bed.  My feet are up and the computer is on my lap.  The glow of the computer screen highlights my smile.  It’s exactly how it was a few weeks ago.  I’ve missed it.

I’m back.

Hangovers

Hangovers

This is how I always feel the morning after...

Hangovers are the worst part about getting old.  I used to be so good at drinking.  It was the one thing I learned in college that I took with me well into my twenties.  I could hang with the best of them and bounce right back in the morning but not anymore.  Now, after I drink four beers, which is what I used to consider getting started, I wake up with a splitting headache.  I’m cursing you thirty.

Club Comment

“Tom!  Tom! Guess what!”  I was shouting hysterically trying not to pee myself in excitement.   

“I have been Freshly Pressed!  My post is featured on the Word Press homepage!”

I was jumping in circles.  This time I was waiting for the elusive genie to come high-five me.  As usual, he left me hanging.

I imagine my hysteria was similar to the women who end up on Oprah’s Favorite Things show but instead of cars and pants, it was Oprah shouting while pointing at me, “And you get a comment!”  

Words cannot express how flattered I am that not only my post Suburban Worries was Freshly Pressed but also how awesome all of the feedback has been.  I have received so many great comments; I would love more than anything to respond to each one of them – the stories and opinions you have shared are fantastic – but as we all know, that would take a lot of time.  So much time, that in the most extreme example I can think of, I would have to quit my job, move into a cardboard box and start writing about my newest home worries.  I imagine it involving a lot of fights with alley cats and shopping cart adventures.  But I digress. 

After a lot of thought, I have come up with a better way to acknowledge these comments.  Each week, I will have a post called Club Comment, where I will highlight and respond to excerpts of my favorite comments.  

Without further ado, here are some comments from this week: Continue reading

An Easter Story

This Easter egg that reads "Poop" was made by Tom with the invisible crayon. It was a delightful surprise. In hindsight, I think it was foreshadowing of what was to come.

I broke a toilet today – not clogged, broke.  There’s a distinct difference; although, I was just as embarrassed.  We are at Tom’s parent’s house for the weekend.  We had just finished dinner when my tummy started hurting.  I excused myself and headed upstairs.  Everything was great until I flushed the toilet.

It. Would. Not. Stop. Flushing.

I lifted the lid thinking I’ve got this.  I’ve fixed a running toilet before but unfortunately, this was not your average toilet.  It was an energy, efficient, fancy toilet.  I couldn’t see any parts or even water for that matter.

“I’m screwed,” I muttered.

When I am confused, I have a tendency to turn in circles.  It’s like I am wasting time until a mysterious genie appears out of a non-existent lamp to give me advice on my latest situation.  As usual, the genie didn’t appear.  Ah, shit.

“Um, Tom.”  I walked half way down the stairs thanking God my best friend Evelyn broke the potty barrier between the two of us early in the relationship.

My face was bright red, as his dad followed behind him.  “Uh, the toilet won’t stop flushing.”

Tom comes to check out the situation.  My face was turning a deeper red as the seconds ticked by.

“Get me a plunger.”

“But it’s not clogged.  It’s just flushing.”

“Get me a plunger, Elyse.”

“Okay, but let me do it just in case.” By this time, his parents were starting to gather at the door.  I might as well have been wearing a sign that read: I just took a dump.  It didn’t go well.

Why were the relationship Gods being so mean?  Was it because I ate meat on Good Friday?  It was only the second time I slipped all Lenten season.  The first time was for a Slim Jim.  I can never resist snappin’ into a Slim Jim.

Tom and his dad worked on the the toilet for at least a half hour.  I stopped watching after the first ten minutes.  I couldn’t handle the embarrassment so I joined his mom downstairs.  I filled her in on the situation.

“It’s okay,” she reassured me.  “It could have been any of us.”  She was right, but it wasn’t just anyone, it was me.  I broke the toilet while doing the unspeakable.  I needed to give myself a pep talk because I knew the elusive genie wasn’t going to show up anytime soon.

Alright, Elyse, you can do this.  Act like nothing happened and just laugh it off.  Hold your head up high.  They’ll forget abou…

Tom shouted interrupting me mid-thought, “Hey Stinky, come play ping pong with us!”

Who am I kidding?  They are never going to let me forget.

Happy Easter, y’all!  I hope yours is less embarrassing than mine! -Elyse

The Apartment Tales: Introduction

The Tuxedo

This is the only picture I can find of the building. I came home one day to find this skeleton banner hanging in the doorway. It was Patrick’s attempt to decorate for Halloween. It made me laugh a lot.

This is a reoccurring post that will happen every Friday (until I run out of stories).  Enjoy!

The Apartment is an apartment building I lived in for three years.  It is in the heart of Boystown on a quiet street, nestled between old brownstones.  It is a striking white stone building with an elegant name.  When I first stumbled upon it, I couldn’t wait to see the apartments inside.  I imagined them being beautiful, big and vintage like the outside of the building. 

I called the number on the For Rent sign.  Patrick, the building manager, answered the phone. 

“Hi!  I’m looking for a one bedroom apartment and would like to schedule an appointment to view one.”

“You have few minutes now?”

“Ye…”  I was startled by the door slamming behind me.  I turned around to see Patrick, a little Indian man with a goofy smile. 

“Well, don’t just stand there,” he said.

The smell was the first thing that hit me as he opened the door.  It reminded me of my grandmother’s house mixed with cat urine, dead people and mold.  It was pungent and thick.  The carpet looked like it had never been vacuumed and the wallpaper was peeling off the walls.  It was very dark.  But the woodwork, it was beautiful. 

We walked slowly up the stairs to the fourth floor.  It was a long walk.  I was out of shape.  Sweat beads were forming on my young twenty something head.  I’m pathetic, I thought.  I could barely talk by the time we reached the top.  Thank goodness, Patrick is more of the silent type. 

He showed me a one bedroom apartment that was the size of a shoe box.  The bedroom was a nice size but the living space was tiny.  My loveseat would touch the fridge, which would later become one of my favorite things about the apartment.  I never had to stand up to get beer.  All it took was a simple lean. 

“Is there laundry in the building?”

“Yes.”

“Can I see it?”

“No.”

I didn’t ask again.  Despite his tiny frame, Patrick intimidated me.  I was going to take his word for it. 

The average person would have run far, far away from this building.  But me, I fell in love.  I could look past the smell (I just breathed through my mouth) and the disgusting carpet and the darkness.  It was in a great location and the bedroom had a door.  Plus, it was the only place I could afford in the neighborhood.  I was forced to have low standards.  And I was okay with that.

“I’ll take it!”

The Apartment became my home for the next three years.  It was a building of misfits.  In a neighborhood of mostly young, gay white men and young straight women, my building was an anomaly.  There were lots of old people – one who died in the building while I lived there.  After the first year, I realized they moved in during the eighties and never left.  Patrick never made the tenants sign leases after the first year or raised rent, which explained a lot.  I am convinced some of them were paying at most $300 a month to live there.

My neighbors became the best part about living at The Apartment.  They provided endless amounts of entertainment.  Oh, the stories I have to tell…

Come back next Friday for the next story in The Apartment Tales!