Monday, February 20, 2006

A Bathroom Story

We recently remodeled our bathrooms. While the finished product is beautiful, living through it was unpleasant. Then there are the remodeling side effects of dust, dust and more dust. There's dust from the demolition of the old bathroom, from cutting tile, from cutting wood, from mixing grout; termite dust. Yes. They tear open your walls and see the effects of termites that had been having a heyday in your walls. Then there are all the chemicals and toxins: acetone, grout sealer, silicon, drywall. Lovely.
As much as I wanted new bathrooms and my most coveted pedestal sinks, I realized something. My wee little girl was having problems with all the dust and chemicals. In fact, so was my husband and so was I. My olfactory system is...highly developed? Very sensitive? Cantakerous? All these smells are like an attack on your nostrils, your respiratory system, your brain. Add that to the fact that Phoenix hasn't seen rain for four months and there's dust and pollution turning our skies into Southern California and you have a nasty recipe for illness.
So, once again, as much as I wanted new bathrooms, the effects on my wee girl were not pleasant. It makes me want to move to...where? Somewhere with no pollution? Somewhere with clean air? Does this place exist at this point in history? Don't get me wrong, I love life's luxuries--electricity, driving, flying, energy efficient windows--but there is a price to pay.
To complete my thought: no matter how nice a new bathroom is, it wouldn't mean anything to me if my little girl got so sick she hocked up a huge loogie in her sleep, choked on it and died. I realize that's a dramatic situation. I'm just saying.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

I'm Just Saying

What do we mean when we say, "I'm just saying"? This little incomplete sentence that we throw out there? When you disagree with someone and you don't want conflict you can throw this little caveat in there and disarm whatever you just said.
"Do you want to go see a movie?"
"Sure. How about Brokeback Mountain?"
Replies with obvious disdain in voice, "Ah, Isn't that the one about gay cowboys?"
"Yeah, so? Is there something wrong with gay cowboys?"
"No...I'm just saying."
Or how about:
"Saturday night I have a date. With Jake...Gyllenhaal!"
Replies with obvious disdain in voice, "Ah, Doesn't he play a gay cowboy in that new movie?"
"Yeah, so?"
"Nothing. I'm just saying."

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

That Violet Elegant Woman

First of all, public piano playing doesn't happen enough. That said, the other day while my daughter and I reposed in a department store where public piano playing is habitual, I saw the most elegant woman this side of the early 20th century silver screen. I couldn't take my eyes off her.
She was timeless. It's hard to believe that I was captivated by a woman wearing varying shades of violet from head-to-toe. Her dress covered every inch of skin except her face. It was tight without being trashy. She had the most beautiful mocha-colored skin. This deep, rich skin tone complemented her outfit. Atop her head was the most beautiful hat. A hat! It was akin to those hats that women used to wear. It was lavender with dark purple, dainty little feathered flowers. At her shoulder was an oversized flower brooch.
I was all agog as she walked by.
It was one of those moments where I wish that I was invisible so I could follow her and watch her. Who was she? Where was she going? Where was she from? What was her name?
I have a friend from college who described a man she saw in Italy while on European quarter. She said she was walking down one of those really narrow Italian alleys with another girl from school. They were walking at a rapid clip, talking and taking in the Italian feel. This man started toward them and their conversation ceased. And they both found themselves staring and as he approached they found themselves parting like the Red Sea, staring at this man as they both staggered to the sides of the alley and held on to the walls as he passed. He was that beautiful. I can't imagine how beautiful, but I found myself thankful yesterday. Thankful that I was sitting and obscured by this piano so that I could sit and stare hard at this woman as she walked by.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


We have new neighbors. They have dogs. You could say it's their wealth in this world. However, my poverty is the INCESSANT BARKING of these dogs. I have dogs. I know they like to bark. But seriously, when I gaze into the backyard when I hear dogs barking I see my dogs with a quizzical look on their faces. If it could be translated perhaps they would be thinking something along the lines of, "What the hell?"
The neighbor dogs like to bark in concert. One barks and suddenly they're in a competition.
One day the little girl next door kicked her soccer ball over the wall. She asked if we could throw it back. I toss it over and make polite conversation, "What's your name? What's my name? What's your deal with the loud barking dogs? Oh, really, you got a third dog?"
"Oh, this one doesn't bark?"
As we converse their new dog is humping one of the other dogs. The owner doesn't notice. I do and immediately remember:
The last time I saw a neighbor's dogs humping they had puppies. Then, in addition to the dogs barking, there were the shouts of two people who believed the louder they shouted "SHUT UP!" the more efficacious were the words. Yes. That got their attention. I tell you, those dogs shaped up immediately. They were running around shoveling their own crap they were so obedient. That meant that since all the dog feces was tidied up the only stuff left hanging around the backyard was:

  • a disabled vehicle
  • some ramshackle shed make of various things we had thrown away and they had picked out of the garbage; shed held tightly together by the professional application of a hand truck
  • a television set
  • many toys
  • lots of windchimes
  • varying amounts of electronic debris that had been jettisoned from indoors

Much later I found out from the man who lives next door that these shady folk were his stepchildren. He kicked them out after he came home from work one day and found drug paraphernalia in the house. Did I mention there was a small child living there? Classy.