Tuesday, May 26, 2009

At Odds

The other night as I was taking the dogs out, someone approached the condo gate and waited. He had a small, familiar dog with him; it was the Yorkshire Terrier that belongs to the girl next door. I let the guy in and he thanked me. I said nothing. The Boyfriend had returned.

He'd been tossed out after disturbing the other residents, scaring his girlfriend, and generally proving he needed anger management classes. Now apparently he's back in my neighbor's life. I'm on pins and needles, wondering how long it'll take him to revert to his aggressive behavior.

There's forgiveness, and there's being a sucker.


I've been missing my boy while he's been in Missouri with his dad. They're back tonight, and I'll be meeting the kiddo at school tomorrow morning. I can't wait to give him a good squeeze. My ex scheduled his vacation on my time, and although we'd agreed two months before the trip that we would swap time, the week before the trip, he'd unceremoniously broken the agreement, insisting that the language in the Court Order meant he didn't owe me any time in return for taking my time. I argued about it at first, then told him if that's how he wanted to interpret the Court Order, I'd remember that when planning my vacation next year. I'm sure he doesn't think I'll schedule a trip, much less on his time. I've surprised him before.


A co-worker moped into the office today and told me she needed a hug. When I hugged her, she felt like a skinny kid. I asked her what was wrong, and she said she was sad that her oldest child had graduated from college and was headed for law school. Was she sad that he was all grown up? Well, partly that, and partly because she didn't want him to be a lawyer. She sees being a lawyer as incompatible with her kiddo's Christian upbringing. I assured her that there are a lot of good, ethical lawyers (my family law attorney is one, occasionally to my disappointment - oh, I kid!), and she wasn't convinced. Look, I told her, what about immigration attorneys? Estate planners? Things like that? Maybe, she admitted.

After a few more hugs, she told me her youngest son, a teenager, had hit a home run that weekend. "Great!" And broken the rear window of a car. "Oh..." A Lexus. "Eek." And a bunch of other parents had run out to the lot and taken pictures. "Hoo-boy..." The hole left by the ball looked like a cartoon, all jagged and centered. (Okay, I thought that was kind of funny.) She said she asked the league rep. about her liability for the damage, and the rep. said she wasn't liable because cars park at their own risk in the lot next to the ballfield. Indeed the parking lot next to the ballfield where my son sometimes plays has big signs stating exactly this. Still, she went out to the lot to talk to the car owner, and he had already gone. The whole thing is eating at her and she feels responsible, despite having been told by the league rep. that she's not. She's an admirably ethical and yet overly accommodating person by nature, and she's not sure what to do at this point.


At work/church we have a Spanish-speaking co-custodian. She's learning some English and I'm reaching for my high school Spanish; we manage to meet in the middle. This morning she gestured and explained: "En el cuarto del hombres, la agua...dañado."

Dañado, dañado...I didn't know that one. "You come," she said, so I followed her to the men's room. (I did at least know that much of what she had told me.) Once there, she showed me a urinal that was flushing continuously. "Ah! Dañado! Okay!"

I love lightbulb moments. Damaged. The urinal was damaged.


It has occurred to me lately that we're all dañado in one way or another. Some of us cope with it and move on; some of us continue making the same mistakes over and over. There's forgiveness, and there's being a sucker.

I'm walking the line between the two.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Good Fences Probably Do Make Good Neighbors

Today my grumpy Russian neighbor was driving down the condo driveway as I was rushing to the Dumpster in my pajamas, with a large, newspaper-wrapped handful of dog poop that I'd just picked up outside. We never talk, she and I. Well, I take that back. One time when I was headed out for a walk with the dogs and the kiddo, I noticed her hose lying in the driveway as water streamed down to the street. I left it alone, figuring she'd just finished washing her car (against association rules, but whatever) and would shut it off shortly. Fifteen or twenty minutes later, we returned from our walk and the hose was still there, still running. I turned off the water and Mrs. Grump came storming out of her garage, berating me for turning off the water because she was still using it. Um, what? I told her I'd thought someone had forgotten about it because the water was just running down the driveway, and then I left her alone. That was my most significant interaction with her before today.

So she's driving by and I'm in a hurry to toss the poop before it somehow falls out of the newspaper and I have to recollect it, and she rolls down her window to lay into me about the dogs peeing in the plants on condo property. Um, what? There are four other pet owners in the complex besides me. I'd just taken the kiddo to school after a bumpy morning and I had about thirty minutes to shower and get to work, so I shouted, "I'm trying not to [let the dogs pee in the plants]!" even though I and everyone else couldn't care less about it. Then I just walked away while she was still talking. Straw, meet camel's back.

Of course, in the shower I imagined myself handling the situation a little differently, telling her she had a lot of nerve being critical of anyone's behavior, considering she never attends association meetings, put a nonregulation satellite dish on her balcony, refused to have the association's handyman make outside repairs to her unit (insisting on some other guy instead), and tortured her direct neighbor for years with loud fights with her husband (all of which could be heard through the shared wall). Sort Clint-Eastwood-slash-condo-association-president, minus the guns.

There's nothing like waiting until you're alone to say everything you wish you'd said to someone's face. Ah, yes.

In other news, while out with the kiddo this afternoon, I drove through a swarm of bees. The first time I did that, I was on a surface street and it was just A Little Weird, but today we were on the freeway and the bees thwopped rapidly against the windshield, which qualified as Downright Creepy. I almost swerved to avoid them, but realized in a microsecond how futile that would be. The kiddo, who is deathly afraid of bees, was engrossed in playing blackjack on my cell phone (we'll be taking up drinking after he gets the hang of gambling -- don't worry) and didn't even notice. I, however, was a little on edge afterward and jumped each time I heard anything that sounded the least bit buzzy. I've seen one too many specials on killer bees. Plus, I had a bee once in my car and I don't recommend it.

So that's the news from Lake WTF, where the women are apiphobic, the men are oddly distant, and the children are cute as a button and addicted to electronics.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Marketing Geniuses

Just when I think I have my son's favorite toys all figured out...

Something else catches his fancy...

...and we spend yet more time at the store to amass a collection of plastic.