Thursday, October 27, 2016

When I Was Homeless

In 2010 my husband and I moved into an adorable little 2 bedroom apartment in Manhattan. In 2011 I gave birth to our daughter and we lived happily in that space for several months. On April 1st, 2012 (oh, the irony!) while I was home with my daughter there was a knock on the door. When I opened it I found a police officer, a fireman, and two Red Cross representatives standing on the other side. They told me that the city had declared our building to be unsafe and all of the residents had 7 hours to evacuate.

I got out my cell phone and called my husband to tell him he had to come home from work and help me pack up some things so we could get out of the building, to which he reasonably responded that this was not a funny April Fools prank. After a few minutes of convincing he hopped on the bus and came right home, but now we were stuck on the sidewalk with a baby, a dog, two cats, and nowhere to live. It turns out the reason the Red Cross was there was to provide housing to the 112 newly homeless people from our building. Fan-fucking-tastic.

Luckily my mother-in-law lived close by, so we moved all of the people and animals from our apartment into her 5th floor walk-up on the other side of town. This lasted about 3 weeks until she couldn't tolerate us in her space any longer (a small apartment is not meant for 4 people and three animals, after all) and we went from there to my husband's aunt's home in Connecticut. Luckily she had a huge house that was big enough for all of us while we figured out what was going on with our apartment. While were in this state of flux we found out that support beams in the building had been removed and nobody would be allowed back indefinitely. We started house hunting but that didn't work out either, so in September we hired an apartment finder (the only real way to find an apartment in New York City) and paid a princely sum to move into a new place in Manhattan again.

My period of homelessness lasted 5 months and I spent most of that time living in a million-dollar beach house in Connecticut. Short of Hef volunteering to move out of the mansion and having all of his bunnies boarded so we wouldn't have to share the grotto there aren't many better situations to be in when facing homelessness, but it was still one of the most miserable times in my life. I had an infant daughter I was responsible for and the universe had conspired to take away the roof I had worked so hard to put over her head. I was forced to be an intruder in the homes of the people I cared about most. I was forced to put all of my things in storage and sleep in a strange bed in another person's home. It was a far cry from having to give up my pets and live at the Red Cross, but still a situation you couldn't pay me to repeat a second time.

I live in Massachusetts now and I take the train into Boston for work. Every day I pass the same homeless man who is begging on the street and at least twice a week I give him something - an apple, a sandwich, a toothbrush, etc. - because I know that, but for the grace of some higher power, I could very easily have been that man. I've seen the looks people give me for supporting someone who is living on the street, judging me for not judging him, but I don't care. I know that without family nearby, without the money for an apartment finder, and without the good mental health to deal with the stress of it all I might have been raising a baby in a homeless shelter just a few years ago.

Friday, October 14, 2016

A (Sort of) Horror Story

This is the time of year when we gather around to tell spooky stories designed to give people a fright and, often, warn people so that they can avoid succumbing to the same terrible fate as the poor saps in the story. The tale I am about to tell you is absolutely true and should serve as a warning to everyone that reads it about avoiding...cheese-filled chicken nuggets! *Insert spooky music here*

One crisp, cool day in the fall of 2010 I walked the 5 blocks from my apartment in New York City to the neighborhood grocery store. I loaded my folding cart full and slowly worked my way back home, careful not to catch a wheel on a crack in the sidewalk lest I be thrown over my cart with such force that I appeared to be tossed about by an invisible giant. After getting my cart back inside of the apartment I began to unload my groceries when I noticed that I had accidentally grabbed the wrong container of chicken nuggets from the store freezer. My husband and I always made sure to have some type of easily nuked foods in the house for those days when you are in no mood to figure out what to pack for lunch the next day, and in my haste to fill the cart I had accidentally grabbed a brand of chicken nuggets that were stuffed with cheese. That still sounded appetizing enough to me, so I didn't think anything of it when I shoved the box in the freezer. And, as everyone who has ever gone grocery shopping knows, once you've put in all the effort to shop and haul and put away groceries you certainly aren't in the mood to prepare a meal, so I threw some chicken nuggets and veggies into a ziploc bag to take for lunch at work the next day and made myself a sandwich for dinner.

The next day seemed normal enough. I worked from 8:30 to 12:30 and then took my lunch break, microwaving my simple meal and reading a book in the break room for 45 minutes. I went back to work, completely unaware that anything had changed until about 2 hours later when I noticed a terrible smell. It was foul, as though rotted meat and sweaty socks had been left to ferment in the Bog of Eternal Stench for a few weeks before being hauled into my office. It took about 20 minutes to figure out that I was the culprit, with farts I had thought were tiny and discreet but in fact turned out to be enormously awful. I had never in all of my life produced a smell like this and I was horrified that if anyone figured it out I would be fired.

I rushed home, totally embarrassed, and told my husband what had happened. He was very comforting until the first time I let one rip in his presence, at which time he loudly exclaimed that it smelled like my insides had died. Because he is a bit of a joker he was having a grand time mocking me until he started having the same problem a few hours later. After some probing I figured out that he had eaten some of the chicken nuggets after he got home but before I arrived, so we quickly became cellmates in our prison of stench. I'm surprised no one in the building called the fire department to report a toxic leak.

But the next day we still had to get up and go to work again. Luckily my intestinal fortitude had returned by the morning, but since my husband was about 4 hours behind me in eating them he was about 4 hours behind me in recovery time as well, which meant taking his topsy-turvy insides on the subway. After a few minutes on the train I thought we were going to be okay, until I saw the face of the woman standing next to him, as though she had been shit on by a vengeful god and couldn't understand why she was being tortured in this way. I picked it up a few seconds later, and at the next stop we ran off of the train and waited on the platform for the next one to avoid someone murdering him and later claiming it was justifiable homicide because of the smell.

That night when we got home we threw the package in the trash and vowed we would never, ever buy them again. So far we've kept that promise, but every so often when one of us does something the other doesn't like we will threaten to go find another package of those cheesy chicken nuggets and eat the whole thing before bed just to torture them. We've also talked about trying to convince the government that these things are so potent when they hit the human digestive system that they could be weaponized, but as we haven't seen them for sale in years I guess the manufacturers learned their lesson too. But if you should ever see a package of them in a freezer at your local store consider yourself warned - run far, far away and never look back!

**Both links listed above are Amazon affiliate links**

Saturday, October 1, 2016

New State Mottos

I thought up a new motto for each state, just in case they want to consider changing things up.

**Due to popular request, I've put a few of these slogans on mugs, stickers, etc. for sale at where I will get a small royalty for every purchase.**

Alabama - First in the nation! Alphabetically, at least.

Alaska - No matter how many times you try it, moose do NOT want to be ridden

Arizona - Like Nevada without all of the fun and profitability of Las Vegas

Arkansas - We'd like to officially apologize for Wal-Mart

California - No, we don't want to read your screenplay

Colorado - Skiing and pot - we have all the ways to get high!

Connecticut - You forgot about us, didn't you?

Delaware - Drive straight through in half an hour

Florida - Mickey wrestles a gator every day at 4:00

Georgia - Gone With the Wind makes us look good

Hawaii - You're welcome for all the pineapple

Idaho - No, you da' hoe! I'm about something about potatoes?

Illinois - Big city crime and small town poverty, we've got it all!

Indiana - Seriously, Notre Dame is here?

Iowa - Corn, right? Oh wait, that's Nebraska.

Kansas - Come for the Wizard of Oz references, stay for the economic destruction!

Kentucky - Bourbon and horse racing, together again!

Louisiana - Visit soon, we'll be completely under water in ten years!

Maine - We're not really haunted, no matter what Stephen King tells you.

Maryland - Our seafood isn't as good as Massachusetts

Massachusetts - Come for the lobstah, stay for the speech impediment

Michigan - If the shootings don't kill you, the water just might!

Minnesota - Land of 10,000 hot dish recipes

Mississippi - We make Alabama look good

Missouri - We've got the big arch and not much else

Montana - The "M" state you can never remember

Nebraska - America's belly button

Nevada - A vacation spot for people who want to sin more efficiently

New Hampshire - A Libertarian blanket fort

New Jersey - The answer to, "What's that smell?"

New Mexico - Where Texans go for porn and booze

New York - Thank you for your tourism dollars. Now get the hell out!

North Carolina - We care where you pee!

North Dakota - The big heads are in the other Dakota

Ohio - Be nice to us, we control who gets elected President

Oklahoma - Where the fracked gas comes sweeping down the plain

Oregon - Washington's conjoined twin

Pennsylvania - The West Virginia of the North

Rhode Island - Massachusetts' soul patch

South Carolina - Nothing could be finer! Well, that's not true, but still...

South Dakota - Lots of snow and 4 big headed politicians

Tennessee - Country music is the sound a guitar makes if you pour BBQ sauce on it

Texas - Jesus would've shot you for that, you know.

Utah - Where an entire religion took their ball and went home

Vermont - America's biggest supplier of ice cream and hippies

Virginia - Home of tobacco growers and d-bag politicians

Washington - We were smart enough to know the rest of you would pay $5 for a cup of coffee

West Virginia - Getting pay checks and black lung disease at the same time

Wisconsin - We love cheese and hate teachers, apparently.

Wyoming - The world's biggest purchaser of cowboy hats