Sunday, November 9, 2008


This is how I've spent the last three days: packing, correcting a really awful batch of argument essays (example sentence: Red Sox don't pay him to be a grumpy old piece of crap that does nothing but argues with umpires and coaches all the time!), and nursing a sick kitten back to health.

Abbey did not respond well to her first round of shots. She wouldn't eat, wouldn't stand, wouldn't even lift her head to look at me if I called her name. I had to carry her to her food dish and coax her to eat. She cried when I put her down and cried when I picked her up. It made me feel awful.

And that awful feeling carried neatly over into everything else I did today, and I slogged through my work thinking there was going to be nothing redeeming about the day, unless I wanted to count that really good grilled cheese I made on bread from the new bakery in town. But as good as that grilled cheese was--oh, buttery deliciousness!--the day seemed like a loss.

And it was. When I ran out of boxes during my marathon packing session, I went down to my car for the last few I'd pilfered from the campus bookstore. That's when I ran into one of my students, who just so happens to live in the same giant Victorian house I do. It was an unfortunate meeting because I was dressed like some kind of drunk hobo. I was wearing pink flip-flops; grey sweatpants that have a hole in the leg; a shirt decorated with a broken heart, which, when I bought it in 1997, I thought was profound; and a scruffy zip-up hoodie. I had no makeup on. My hair was lopsided and fluffy, pulled back under a headband.

"Hi!" my student sang out. She looked normal. She looked like she was wearing makeup.

I looked like I usually look when I plan on not leaving the apartment for a whole day: disgusting. "Hi," I said. "Please ignore this whole mess." I gestured to my ensemble.

She grinned and looked at the boxes I was clutching. "Are you moving?" she asked.

"Yeah," I said.

"Us too," she said.

"Oh?" I said. I didn't really know what the other tenants knew about our landlord's situation, but I was curious to see what he'd cooked up with the first floor residents.

"Yeah," she said. She blew out an irritated breath and then started telling me a story I knew very well. Our landlord was giving her family the runaround. He said he was going to come in and fix things, but he never got around to it. He wouldn't return phone calls. When things went bad, he wasn't around.

"My apartment leaks," I said. "Like, pours. In the kitchen, in the spare bedroom, in the bathroom."

She made a face. "And you saw that notice on the door, right?" she asked.

"What notice?" I said.

"From the water department," she said. "They came by to give notice that they're shutting the water off because he hasn't paid his water bill in forever."

Shutting the water off. Shutting the water off.

"When?" I asked.

"Wednesday," she said.

Wednesday is three days before I pack up the giant rental truck and haul my belongings to my new apartment. That's three days without a toilet and a shower. Thinking of that put me in a mild panic. I am, after all, a girl who likes water, loves water, appreciates water, needs water to look good in the morning. If he really doesn't settle up with the water people before Wednesday, I am screwed.

And that's what I got to stew about all day long as I wrapped my picture frames in newspaper, as I stacked my books into boxes, as I took down my curtains. I got to think about my asshole landlord, about how he won't return my phone calls, about how he's let this beautiful old house get so run-down water just pours from my ceilings when it rains, about how he frittered away all our security deposits and we'll never see that money again, about how I have to spend a surprising amount of money moving from one place to the next because he bit off more than he could chew. And now--as if I needed to feel any grumpier about this whole move, this whole week leading up to the move--I'll probably have to find creative ways to shower in the morning.

And the only thing that's getting me through it--the only thing that made me even a little bit happier today--was playing this. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over.

Yes, Frank. Yes, let's go to that bar in Bombay. I wouldn't mind having about fifty of whatever they're serving up.

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