Note: When cutting frozen butter, slice away from the laptop. And then immediately look on Craigslist in hopes of finding an apartment with a kitchen bigger than the size of your fist.
I wanted to start participating in Calliope’s Photo Friday this week, and of course I am late to the party. I blame it on being out of my natural environment, but truthfully, I’m just kind of an asshat sometimes. Moving on.
This week Calliope’s Photo Friday theme was “work desk.” So if you’ve ever wanted a glimpse into how McPolish works, well, here you go.
For the record, this is actually quite neat, comparably. Above the desk, which you can’t really see in the picture, are photos of me in various bridesmaid dresses with various brides, along with a photo of a broken Styrofoam cooler with the words, “Just when you think you won’t have any fun, someone goes and falls through a cooler.”
I’ll give those profound words a minute to sink in.
A few years back, before I moved out here to DC, some of the peeps I worked with at my waitressing gig threw me a surprise going away party. There was spice cake. Also a lot of vodka. I’m almost positive there was dancing. And I know there were ribbons. Many several ribbons that they hid around the house where the party was thrown, all of which I had to hunt down. Each ribbon had a different phrase on it, one of which was, “I can dress myself!” For a very long time that one hung on my closet door. It might still be there, actually. But this one, this one was my favorite, and while I’ve on occasion pinned it to my skirt and worn it out on the town for a night, the majority of time it hangs over my desk to remind me what’s important.
Because really, isn’t that all we can ask of ourselves? Sometimes? Hopefully? At least every other Wednesday? Maybe?
I moved into my apartment almost five years ago. Four-and-a-half, if you want to get technical. There I was, fresh-ish off… my car?…having moved to DC, where I spent the first three weeks bouncing between three different friends’ apartments while I looked for a job and a place to live, never staying at one place too long for fear of making a nuisance of myself as a houseguest.*
My apartment hunt didn’t last very long because A) I hate looking for apartments, and 2) I’m lazy, and III) there was an apartment available in a building across the street from one of the apartments where I was staying, so 4) because of A, 2 and the convenience factor of III (having friends nearby), I snatched it up and moved in my stuff, signing a lease just a few days after I officially accepted a job.
Yes, things clearly fell into place quite quickly, much of which I chalk up to luck and God’s will. I could end this here and leave the story at that – how I moved to DC with little more than the clothes on my back**, landed on my feet and TA DA! LOOK AT ME NOW, WORLD.
Except that’s boring, and totally not the point.
The point is, after I moved into my apartment, and after I went to the Best Buy in Tenleytown and purchased a television, I brought said television home, plugged it in, and HOT DAMN, MOTHERFUCKERS, I HAD CABLE!
And thus began my cable adventures.
‘Adventures’ might be pumping it up a bit. There really was no more adventure than me plugging in my television, seeing that I had cable channels, and absently wondering if I was supposed to have cable. Was this included with my rent? Or was I inadvertently stealing it from someone else? I shrugged my shoulders and decided I’d just go with it, because it was good cable, too. All the channels, plus HBO and Showtime. My friends, to say the least, were not a little jealous.
After almost a year, right when I was getting interested in the first season of Big Love, I turned on my television one night only to discover that I no longer had HBO or Showtime. Bummer, I thought to myself, but it’s a give. I didn’t watch it all that often, truth be told, so I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. Besides, I reminded myself, it’s not like I’m paying for it.
And then, about 18 months after that, right as I was getting very interested in this new show (Have you heard of it? So good, so intriguing, the style! The culture! The research that must go into it!) I’d caught called Mad Men*** I lost AMC and a couple other channels (that I didn’t watch anyway, so I didn’t really care).
While I am a friendly neighbor, I’ve never really been friends with anyone in my building, so I didn’t know whether this was happening to other people, or just me. And I wasn’t about to call Comcast and be all, “Bitches! Bring Don Draper back to my apartment!” lest they were all suddenly, “Woman! You haven’t paid for cable in three years, we are cutting your ass off!” I didn’t want to jinx anything, so I just kept quiet and suffered the sacrifice of Sterling Cooper****.
And then it happened.
It was after a recent TND, and the girls had left and I’d flipped on the television for some background noise as I cleaned up plates and wine bottles. I automatically turned to HGTV, but instead of Suzanne Wong’s bizarrely placid face and dead eyes staring at me I was greeted with a stagnant screen with a Comcast message telling me something about now the cable was digital and something about me needing a box. Damn, I thought to myself, I lost HGTV. I flipped up a channel and down a channel, the same stagnant message appearing again and again. I breathed a slight sigh of relief when I got into the 60s and saw that I wasn’t completely without cable channels—I still, at least, had TNT, USA, and a few other channels. I readjusted my mindset, breathed deeply over the loss of Bravo, and carried on.
But a couple weeks later, after another TND, again as I was cleaning up plates, shuttling empty wine bottles to the recycling bin (I’m green and eco-friendly in my boozing!) I flipped on the TV, tuned into USA in hopes of catching an episode of White Collar or maybe Psyche, only to discover…they were gone.
THEY WERE ALL GONE.
I stared at the remote for a minute, then flipped to the 20s, noting that it appeared I had all the basics. Plus WGN and some channel called ion.
(I mean, thank sweet baby Jeebus for WGN, because everyone knows I love watching the WGN News at 9, even though, you know, I don’t even live in Chicago. I like to keep up with the haps, whatever, no judging.)
I quickly scrolled through the channels again, all of the non-local network ones posting the same stagnant screen telling me I needed a cable box and to call Comcast and everything would be dandy.
Except for that part about how I haven’t called Comcast ever, and really have no inclination to start now. Not that I think they’re going to berate me for bogarting their cable for the past 4 years, but because, well, I really don’t want another bill added to my current roster of bills. And when I think about it, there’s not all that much that I watch on the cable channels that I can’t find on Hulu or get through Netflix, and you know what? It turns out that I’ve become accustomed to not watching commercials, and watching entire series of shows in one sitting. It’s quite lovely, truth be told.
So for now, I’m without cable. And after an initial minor panic (It’s change! Panic! PAAA-NIIIIIC!) I’m quite cool with this new turn of events.
Though I will say that may have been the last time I have those bitches over for dinner. Who knows what I’ll lose next. Cable’s gone, maybe next time it’ll be my microwave.
*I have since been informed that I am actually quite the splendid houseguest because guess what Molly likes to do when bored and job hunting in a new city? Bake cupcakes. That just so happen to be ready as soon as you walk in the door from work. Yeah, that’s right. AWESOME!
**Total lie. I had a whole moving POD full of crap that eventually showed up a week after I moved in.
*** GIRL. Don’t EVEN get me started on how much I lurv that show and how much I would give my left big toe to have a date with Roger Sterling and have him order me one of those lovely wines. GIRL. FOR SERIOUS.
****Which actually worked out for the best, because it spawned Mad Men Mondays, where friends and I gather to watch that week’s episode, eat massive amounts of artery-clogging popcorn and yell at the television and rewind our favorite parts. God bless you, JMac, for paying for cable with DVR.
Inspired by my friend JMac’s recent cleaning and organizational frenzy, I took it upon myself to neaten up my own apartment. Cleaning products were sprayed and swiped, magazines were corralled, shelves were even dusted.
I can hardly believe it myself.
I hate dusting.
Truth be told, I only really dusted two things – one set of shelves and my wine bar. The other set of shelves still bears my full name written in curlicue script in the filmy gray layer. Because I am so fancy.
The one area I can truly be proud of, however, is underneath my bathroom sink. Have you ever taken a look under there? Yeesh. You are probably much more organized and together than I will ever hope to be, so don’t be afraid when I show you the mess that lurked beneath:
It was amazing what I found in that cabinet: pens, random plastic bags, coin purses, an inordinate amount of feminine products. For serious? I think I’m set until menopause.
Thankfully, tackling all this meant a trip to World Market.
Ew! Gross! No! Okay.
I just love that store. I could spend hours and hours there and oodles and oodles of money. And lo! They have baskets. Fun baskets, in a host of shapes and sizes and patterns and wouldn’t you know? They are perfect for corralling the clutter and feminine products that threaten to overtake my bathroom.
I love you, World Market. And I love you, too, seemingly abnormal amounts of soap. (Why do I have so much soap? I am only one person.)
Crap. Dead fish.
This was my first thought when I woke up Sunday morning and stumbled over to my coffee table to feed Iggy. To be honest this was not exactly the most fabulous thing I wanted to see on a Sunday morning when I was slightly hungover from being plied with many margaritas and glasses of champagne the night before by a wild bunch of martial artist yogis. Yeah, you read that correctly.
So I just sort of stared at the bowl, peered at it really, to make sure Iggy was really dead and not just sleeping with his head between rocks again. I was only certain when I twisted the bowl – which usually freed him from his head-in-rock position, irritated at being dislodged by a giantess frantic and confused that her fish was in danger rather than just a moron, swimming madly in circles – and all that happened was his little blue body flipped on its back and floated back down to settle on the clear stones in the bottom of his bowl.
I knew this day would come when I bought him, because circle of life, nothing lives forever, etc. I even had a hunch that he was dying. He’d seemed lethargic since I’d gotten back from Chicago, not swimming excitedly to the top of the bowl when he saw me blearily approaching in the morning, flicking pellets into his bowl. His bowl got too cloudy too quickly, seeming to be filled with fog instead of water, an egg-smelling fog at that, and there was a murky white film that trailed off his fins. On Saturday I was so concerned that I went to Pet Smart to see if one of their staff could help me. I was told my fish probably had ick.
“He…the what?” I asked the teenaged girl helping me.
“It’s a bacterial fungus,” she replied.
“Gross,” I said. A pause. “For serious? It’s called ‘ick’?”
“Huh.” I pondered briefly why there wasn’t a human condition called ick. I could think of a few maladies that could certainly fall under that category. Plus, how great would it be to call in to work in a hazy, fuzzy-headed state only to tell your boss, “Sorry, I can’t come in. I have the ick.” I don’t think anyone would ask questions, either, because would you really want to ask your employee to explain that? It could be any number of things and AWK-WARRRRD!
About 15 minutes and $15 later I left the store with ick medicine, some water conditioner and another bottle of something that supposedly helped to keep the water clear since I’d been complaining that his bowl just never stays cleeeeaaaaannnn! Except it was all moot, because little did I know that my little Iggs was too far gone, apparently. He would be gone in less than 24 hours. Though the bowl did look a little cleaner in the early rays of day.
I was surprisingly bummed Sunday morning. And a little queasy at the thought of flushing my finned friend, so I let him rest in peace in his bowl for awhile until I’d had time to get some breakfast in my stomach and read the Style section of the Washington Post. This little guy had been around for a year and a half – practically an eternity in fish life – and the suddenness of him not being there made the corners of my mouth turn down ever so slightly. If you think I didn’t talk to him, you are wrong. If you think I didn’t put the point of pens up to the side of the bowl and move it around to watch him frantically follow it thinking he was expertly warding off another attacking ballpoint fish, you are wrong. If you think I didn’t ask him, “What do you think, Iggs?” every once in awhile about some innocuous, blathering television program, you are wrong. So flushing him meant flushing all that away, and would mean that now when I talked to myself I couldn’t couch it in a huffy, “I’m talking to my fish.”
But I did flush him, because to leave him in his bowl, dead as an aquatic doornail would be not only gross, but also creepy. Hi, he was a $3 fish. Dude. For serious. And his bowl smells. Clean that shit up.
There was no fanfare in the flush, unlike when I lived on Belle Plaine and my roommate’s fish died. Sr. Betty, I think it was, and we held a wake on our back deck, me, my roommate Gina, and my friend Denise, drinking Coronas until we decided that we should actually, you know, flush the poor thing. Our bathroom was very tiny, so Denise and I stood in the shower, and each of us said a few words about Sr. Betty, then Denise and I sang On Eagle’s Wings (because that is what a good Catholic does at a funeral) into Corona bottles, and then Gina pushed the lever and we watched the fish go down the drain.
With Iggy there was none of that. Just a quiet sigh from This Girl, with a small wave as the water swirled him away.
RIP Iglesias “Iggy” Strzelecki. You will be missed, my little pal.
Since things have gone so well with Iggy, and I’ve managed to keep him alive for over a year now, I thought myabe it was time I try my hand at keeping something else alive. Things are going well so far with the basil plant, though I worry it is not getting enough sun because my apartment doesn’t get a lot of sun in general. So if you need me, I’ll be around the neighborhood, taking my basil plant for a walk.
I know I should be nice. Respect the elderly. Help others. All of that stuff.
But when I am walking into my building, clearly juggling not one, not two, but four grocery bags, and my purse and a ringful of keys trying to wave the little fob thingy at the door thingy so I can get inside all while not dropping any of the aforementioned bags, there is no nice. There is no respect. There is no want to help, when an elderly woman, clear at the corner of the block sees me and calls out “Hold the door!” and with the speed of a molasses-covered snail shuffles her way over, while I stand there waiting, juggling, holding the door open with a foot, both hands being full. This woman has her purse in one hand, a single grocery bag in the other, and barely mutters a thank you as she pushes past me inside. On the outside I don’t even respond, because I am annoyed. On the inside I am seething, because I think this woman is being selfish. Because who does that? Who calls out, a half a block away, to someone clearly in need of getting to her apartment because she is about to collapse under the weight of groceries, to hold the door? Like I have all the time in the world to wait for her and hold the door for her. You know what, lady? Get your own goddamned door. I don’t care if you are old. I have milk that needs to be refrigerated, and I don’t have time for rude or demanding people.
Other than myself, of course.