Apple pie, applesauce, apple butter, apple coffeecake, apple walnut salad, apple computer, apple crap-apple we have too many friggin’ apples

A weekend recap:

1) Friday night was my friend Alex’s housewarming/Friday-the-Thirteenth costume party. I went dressed as my car, a Geo Tracker. The idea for my getup arose from our frisbee team’s original Halloween tournament costume theme—we were all going to dress up as some sort of sidekick. I figured I’d go as a Suzuki Sidekick, but then we changed our theme and my costume no longer worked. BUT! Rest assured! There is always a reason to have a ridiculous costume. I decided to go as a Tracker instead, because even though they are identical cars, mine is a Geo in real life, and besides, I don’t think the Sidekick comes in black-and-tan.

me AKA the Geo Tracker

No, the license plate in the picture isn’t my actual plate. Still have NY tags, actually. But, yes, the spare tire cover on my back IS the actual cover from my car. PHOTO CREDIT: Alex

2) Asa’s mother visited this weekend, and she and Asa decided at some point that they wanted to go apple picking, so we found some lady on Craigslist who had 14 apple trees in her backyard and wanted to get rid of her fruit. We were up at six o’clock in the morning and back home at noon with something like SEVEN grocery bags and ONE laundry basket FULL of apples. Do you have any idea how many apples that is? An absolute shit-ton.

Girdie was thrilled to find an abundance of apple peels in her bowl.

Bogey nearly knocked me over during the photo shoot.

3) We invited a friend over for dinner on Saturday night and he invited three more people. Three plus Asa, Asa’s mom, myself and our roommate makes, yes, SEVEN people over for dinner in a tiny little apartment that has one couch and a butterfly chair. Somehow, though, it all worked out (I ate dinner on the floor) and after the scrumptious meal everyone went to work peeling and chopping apples. Each guest left with a quart of applesauce. EDIT: Tim pointed out that I can’t count. One guest + three more + four of us = EIGHT. Oops.

4) Sunday brought a determined rain like I haven’t seen since last winter, and it heralded the beginning of muddy frisbee season. Our weekly Sunday morning pickup game was not hampered in the slightest by the torrential downpour, and we slip-slided around in the cold and the wet for about two hours before heading out to brunch. By three in the afternoon, I’d sort of managed to dry off and warm up, but it was time again for MORE frisbee, which brings us to 5).

5) Asa and I headed to the park to warm up with the team for our scrimmage against another local team, and as our teammates trickled in it became clear that we were rather short on women. Meaning that our female teammates were either a) sick with mono b) backpacking c) otherwise busy and that the three of us who did show up would have to play savage the whole time. “Savage,” in ultimate frisbee parlance, means that you don’t get to “sub out” to take a break during the game. At most frisbee games, you sub out every two or three points, because sprinting up and down the field repeatedly gets rather exhausting. When you don’t have any female subs on the sidelines, however, this is not an option. The result? Nearly three straight hours of tirelessly running (not jogging—running!) in the rain until my legs ached and my fingers tingled. Hard core? DAMN STRAIGHT. Am I sore? YOU BET.

6) Then I slept. And slept and slept and slept. Chelsea needed to poop at 5 am (great timing!) but other than that I just kept on snoozing. FOR ELEVEN HOURS. I guess you can say that I had an exhausting (but totally kickass) weekend.

7) I need a 7) because I don’t like the number 6 but now I have nothing to say. Goodnight!

An exception to the rule

I realized today that I am no longer a vegetarian. Now, I am a “vegetarian except on Wednesday mornings.”

This morning, my student fed me homemade “chicken” sausage. It went like this:

Sofiya: I made sausage, you eat? I made it myself. It has chicken only.

Me: [I am resigned to the fact that there is no way out of this.] Oh, yes, thank you.

Sofiya: Good, good, here, eat.

Me: [I take a bite, chew, swallow, breathe. It does NOT taste like chicken.] This sausage only has chicken in it?

Sofiya: Chicken, da, and pork. Is pork okay? I sorry!

Me: [No! I hate pork, except in bacon form. Giving up thickly sliced bacon was not easy for me.] It’s okay, don’t worry.

It is okay. It has to be. I can’t get out of it without being rude. So, from now on, I am a vegetarian except on Wednesday mornings.

* * * * * * *

In regards to last week’s laundry debacle, nothing has changed and nothing will. My apartment complex is owned and vaguely operated by one woman. When something is broken, she tells us to buy the replacement parts at the hardware store, fix it ourselves, and knock a little bit off the rent. When we had a mold problem last year, she told me to “wipe it off with bleach.”

I could go on and on about this kind of thing, but the reality is that I very much appreciate our landlady. She’s relaxed. She doesn’t care that we painted our room. She doesn’t care that our rent is almost always a week late. She doesn’t mind that I tore up a corner of the yard to plant my garden. “Tomatoes everywhere! How wonderful!” was her only comment. And when my neighbors got a pig without asking her first, her reaction was: “How cute!”

So while my apartment complex doesn’t have a governing body to predetermine laundry policy, I am actually quite thankful for that. My past experience with a management company was one time too many, and I have since vowed to never do it again. My landlady doesn’t always fix the things that are broken. So what? She gives me freedom, and I appreciate that.

Of course, freedom comes at a price. It means that neighborly conflicts must be settled internally, as reporting them to her becomes a he-said-she-said mess that won’t help anything. If my neighbor wants to hang an obnoxious sign in the laundry room, he has every right to do so, and me complaining to my landlady about it will only cause further problems. It’s not worth it.

Moreover, last night I went over to my neighbor’s place because they were cooking bacon and I wanted to live vicariously—it wasn’t Wednesday morning, after all, so I couldn’t partake but I did inhale deeply. My neighbor with the temper was actually on the phone with our landlady, and they were chatting about her relationship problems. How they have this buddy-buddy relationship, I have no idea, considering that every time she stops by the complex she moans and groans to me about how awful it is that they don’t pick up their pets’ poop. But whatever. The point is that complaining about him will get no one anywhere.

I suppose it doesn’t really matter. The differences in laundry ettiquette have long been forgotten and everyone seems to be getting along just fine. I have chosen to ignore the sign. After all, Scotch tape can’t hold forever and at some point it’s going to “fall” off anyway, right?


What would Emily Post do?

Let’s talk about etiquette, shall we? Yes, we shall, because it recently became a hot-button issue over here at my apartment complex and I’d like to take a quick poll of readers’ opinions on the subject.

The scenario:

My new roommate (who is vegan, by the way, so he definitely doesn’t eat alligators or armadillos) needed to do laundry, but someone’s clothes were co-opting the washer. He waited approximately one hour, and then decided to place the offending clothes on top of the dryer and go about washing his load.

Well, my next-door neighbor, who happens to have a bit of a temper and a penchant for blaming the world for everything, came home from work to discover that his clothes had been moved and went APE SHIT. I mean, we’re talking a full-out “whothefucktouchedmylaundryfuckinghellthat’s fuckingbullshitwhatthefuckIdon’ttouchanyone else’sclothesFUCKYOU” screaming sesh out in the courtyard. My roommate went outside to apologize, only to have my neighbor say, “No, it’s okay,” then go inside and continue, very audibly, with his tirade.

Now, normally I get along quite well with said temper-tantrum thrower, as generally speaking I just keep my mouth shut because some things are not worth arguing about. Plus, we help each other out: I walk his daughter to school in the mornings, for instance, and he occasionally pet-sits for Chelsea. But when you go all passive-aggressive on my new roommate for reasons that are absolutely beyond absurd, I get upset.

Maybe it’s just me, but I follow a “you snooze, you lose” laundry policy. I mean, there’s only one freaking washing machine for all ten units, and if you have the audicity to start a load before you head off to work, then you better be prepared to deal with the consequences when you get home. When I went over to my neighbor’s to talk to him about it, he told me that it is “laundry etiquette” to knock on everyone’s doors and find the person whose clothes are in the way and politely request that he or she move them.

Come on! Even Mr. Rogers wouldn’t have done that. Moreover, Mr. Rogers would have had the decency to refrain from shouting obscenities at the brand-new neighbor, and would have instead knocked on his door and offered him a fruit cake or fresh-baked cookies or something neighborly like that.

In every place I have ever lived, my forgotten laundry ends up piled somewhere waiting for me to finish it. Sure, it sucks when someone drops half of it on the floor, or when they remove it from the dryer when it’s still kind of damp, but you know what? It’s my fault for not taking care of it. So if you care that much about what happens to your clothes, then you should be there to babysit them. Pick up a book and pull up a chair, because you’re doing your fucking laundry.

Frankly, I’m such a slacker when it comes to laundry that I once had my clothes held hostage in a laundromat overnight. I completely forgot about my clothes until 20 minutes to closing time, and evidently the proprietors of the joint had decided to throw in the handtowel early that evening because the entire place was chained up and empty by the time I arrived. I was pissed, for sure, but she who neglects her laundry has no grounds for complaint.

Anyway, in the most neighborly way possible, we agreed to disagree about what constitutes laundry etiquette. He put a sign on the dryer that reads, “DO NOT TOUCH PEOPLES [sic] LAUNDRY, ASK THEM 1ST” and I am resisting the urge to hang one next it that reads, “Do not leave clothing unattended. Unattended laundry will be relocated.”

So, now I ask you: what would Emily Post do in my roommate’s situation? Wait patiently for days on end until her neighbor gets around to finishing the load? Give up and simply go to a laundromat? Knock on everyone’s door and leave notes for the people who weren’t home until the culprit comes clean? Or simply plop the laundry on top of the dryer?

What would you do?

Nothing whets my appetite like a mouse and a dead fish

When my neighbor knocks on my door to ask for something, it’s usually for something reasonable like, “Hey, can I borrow a half cup of milk?” or “Would you mind walking my daughter to school tomorrow morning?” Those are requests I can handle. This morning, however, it was different:

“LAURA! There’s a mouse stuck under my kitchen sink, can you remove it!? It’s still alive!!”

No. No, no, no, no, no. And I would have stuck with my answer had my neighbor not gone back to her apartment only to let out a blood-curdling scream.

I came running, and discovered that the poor little guy, whose foot was stuck in one of those classic cheese-and-a-metal-hinge mousetraps, was dragging the thing all over the kitchen floor in an effort to escape. Normally, I can’t even stomach looking at mice, but this morning I actually felt sorry for him.

Bravely, I took my neighbor’s tongs and maneuvered the trap and the dangling mouse outside. As I tried to pry the hinge open with the tongs, the mouse wriggled its wormy tale, fighting with all its might to get out of its prison. But tongs are not the most effective tool for mousetrap opening, and I wrestled with it for a bit until my neighbor suggested that I instead hit the little guy over the head with a frying pan. That’s when the trap released and the mouse hobbled off into the alley.

So that was a pretty disgusting way to start of the day.

Then I arrived at my student’s house, where her mother-in-law was cooking up a storm. “It is vegetable day for Laura,” Sofiya, my student, announced. “She no likes meat, so we have only vegetables today.”

With that, she placed a giant bowl of fish soup in front of me.

“No meat!” Sure, no meat, unless you count the giant fish carcass floating on the top of my soup. I grew up eating fish, so surely I could get through the fish soup, right? I poked and prodded at it for a bit, silently reassuring myself: Nothing is grosser than a mouse. Nothing is grosser than a mouse. You can do it. It’s not as gross as the mouse.

But see, here in the United States, it is tradition—or etiquette, perhaps—to remove a fish’s skin, bones and other miscellaneous body parts before serving it. This means that with the exception of lobsters, 99% of the fish I have consumed in my lifetime has come in the form of a solid cube of generic fish body—far enough removed from its former incarnation that eating it didn’t give me the heebeejeebies.

Not so with my student’s native country. There, evidently, fish is served still on the skeleton—spine and ribs included—with the actual tail still attached. The fish might as well have been swimming around in my soup.

But nothing is grosser than a mouse.

Hey, at least I didn’t get the head end.

Maybe we were on Candid Camera?

What you should NOT say during an interview as a potential new roommate:*

1. “The worst thing about living with me, I’d say, is that I have to take a diuretic every day because of my kidney stones, so I end up spending all morning in the bathroom.”

2. “I have a medical marijuana license. I love smoking pot, but my real passion is to cook with it. So, I won’t be in the kitchen much, but I do love to bake pot brownies—I’m trying to perfect a recipe for pot pancakes because the last batch wasn’t so tasty.”

3. Me: So, Asa is a very strict vegetarian and I eat meat only a couple of times a year. Do you eat meat? It’s okay if you do, but we’d prefer that you not use our cast iron pans to cook it.

Potential roommate: I eat meat—I really like steak, chicken, turkey—you know, things like that. I can’t stand pork chops. But I love deer. Deer is wonderful! It’s so succulent and juicy. I used to live in a town where the deer population was so out of control that they would kill them for environmental reasons, so I could eat deer all of the time. Oh, and alligator meat is divine. People always say it tastes like chicken, but they’re wrong—it does taste like poultry, but not chicken. Anyway, so the reason I don’t like pork chops is because I once had dinner with—I’m going to name drop here—William S. Burroughs, and we were eating pork chops and discussing all sorts of exotic meats we’d eaten. I brought up the fact that people in Mexico eat armadillos, and Burroughs said, “Armadillos are the only other species that gets leprocy. Why would you eat an armadillo?” Burroughs was a brilliant, brilliant man. A true genius. He did a lot of drugs, but that’s not why he killed his wife. In fact, I don’t believe he actually killed her—he was a strange fellow but he wasn’t crazy. Anyway, so that’s why I don’t eat pork chops.

* I’ll probably go to hell in a handbasket for printing this, but these are ACTUAL excepts from a real interview with one of our candidates. Paraphrased, of course, because we weren’t recording anything.

We didn’t pick him.

No, really, I don’t want to sample Chanel No. 5

As part of Operation: Become a Regular Reader of the Publications I Want to Write For, last month I treated myself to subscriptions to several of my favorite magazines, including Vanity Fair.

[Since I have to defend my love of VF to nearly every friend I have—with the exception of the wonderful Stain, of course—I will do it here as well: It is SO not just a fashion/celebrity magazine, people. Get over it. It has history, politics, humor, excellent writing, etc., and it is worth putting up with an excessive quantity of Hermes ads and pictures of Tom Crazy’s—er, Cruise’s—new child to get to the good stuff. That’s my word and I’m sticking to it.]

Anyway, so my very first issue arrived this morning. But after I pried the more-than-300-paged, 75-pound weapon of a publication from my mailbox, I remembered the one thing I can’t stand about this magazine:

It stinks. Physically. It is doused in more perfume than my sixth grade French teacher—and I could smell her before I’d even entered the school building in the morning.

You see, when I lived in New York, I’d buy the magazine from a newsstand, where, I presume, it had a chance to air out and maybe absorb some of the natural smells, like stale urine, burnt pretzels, old garbage, etc. Whatever the case, I don’t remember those issues smelling nearly as intensely as the one that arrived today. Opening its pages was like navigating the main floor of Macy’s and being bombarded with multiple spritzes of conflicting artificial stenches all while you’re trying to complete your last-minute holiday shopping, an activity that does NOT involve perfume.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I hate perfume. Hate it, hate it, hate it. I don’t like artificially-scented anything, for that matter. I use unscented deodorant and laundry detergent, for instance, and last weekend at a frisbee tournament, I was having trouble guarding one particular opponent because she reeked of dryer sheets. Fake smells irritate me more than anything.

But if it’s worth putting up with pictures of Tom and Katie’s infant Scientogolist, it’s worth dealing with perfume. Or is it? Instead, I ripped out all five or so perfume ads from its pages, and since that felt so empowering, I went on to tear out every double-sided ad out of fear that those might be secretly scented and then put the remaining magazine (mostly editorial content, at long last!) outside to air out.

Guess what? It’s now half as thick, which means I no longer need a fork lift to pick it up.

EDIT!!!!!!!! I am SO glad I blogged about this, because Lynn had a brilliant suggestion! She told me to call VF and ask for a subcription without perfume, so I did. Guess what? My new “unscented edition” will be in effect within three issues. THANKS LYNN!!!!!