Archive for June 20, 2011

BUMMED 2.0

June 20, 2011

OK, I was sitting here at the dining room table working, glanced outside, and saw the following:

bum's bum

AWESOME!

Then he got up and picked up some trash in his area. “Well, at least he’s cleaning up,” I thought. “That’s something.”

No. he threw the trash on the street. Isn’t it cool how he doesn’t want trash, his own trash, in his little area, but he’ll put it out for the rest of us to enjoy?

Street, trash can -- so hard to tell those pesky things apart.

I’ve had enough. What do I do???

Do I shout out the window at him? Leave him a note of warning? Do I call someone? Who do I call? Opinions, please. I’m done getting bummed.

BUMMED

June 19, 2011

If you know me at all, you know that I have great care and sympathy for homeless people, and that the homeless problem in LA makes me very upset. I know that many of these people are mentally ill and are literally dropped off on skid row in mental hospital vans, left to fend for themselves in a world in which they can’t possibly do that. I also feel for the ones who, for whatever reason, have become so heavily addicted to drugs that they can’t see any way out. I have a homeless friend whom I pass when I walk to and from the metro, and sometimes I bring him treats from the farmer’s market. I know he’s addicted to something, and whatever it is, it ain’t pretty — but he’s nice, and I like him. (Plus, his eyes look in two different directions, which is kind of endearing.)

But… then there’s the third kind. These are the ones who, for one reason or the other, choose to be homeless. Maybe they think the world owes them something. Maybe they fancy themselves as being off the grid, not controlled by anyone else. Or maybe they are just plain lazy. I know it’s super un-PC to say that, and I truly believe that the majority of the homeless population, especially in LA, falls into the first two categories. But this third category does exist. I used to pay them no mind, but starting recently, they’ve really started to grind my gears.

I will pinpoint for you the exact moment when this shift in my perspective occurred.

The shift occurred a few months ago when I walked over to the living room window and saw a 60-something-year-old bum get up from where he was sitting on the bench in front of the church across the street, walk to the edge of the sidewalk, pull out his floppy little willy, and pee right into the street. Right into the street, on my nice, residential street. Then he SHOOK OFF his disgusting, floppy weiner, tucked it in, and sauntered back to the bench like he hadn’t just PEED INTO THE STREET IN BROAD, BRIGHT, SUNNY DAYLIGHT. And people, that is a sight that I can never un-see.

That was the first day I saw him, and he was with a woman, and they had backpacks, and they sat on that bench in front of the church and smoked cigarettes. So I guess he’d just gotten into town from somewhere, and decided that this was his new home? Indeed, he has since taken up residence right next to the church, on a small piece of sidewalk in front of a side door to the next building, which I assume isn’t used. And he’s got all the setup. It’s like he’s taking a camping trip. Tarp, blankets, clothes, all the goods. The other day I came home and he had all his clothes laid out all over all the bushes nearby. He’s reeeeeallly getting comfortable. And oh yeah, that whole side of the street is awash with the delicous, acrid smell of fresh urine mixed with dry, stale urine. Mmmm.

And tonight, folks… tonight he reeeeally upped the ante. Yes. The ante was upped. I came home and noticed that the “money spot” was free… that is, the best parking spot near my apartment. It’s not under any trees or power lines, and there aren’t any spaces in front or behind it, and when I leave for work in the morning, I’m already facing the right direction, so I just hop in and go. When I get that spot, it is a victory. It’s right across the street.

Right in front of the homeless man’s new “home.”

SON of a bitch.

So I moved. I moved my EFFING car, because you know why? Because when I saw him peeing into the street, he stood right next to someone’s car, so close that I would be surprised if some pee didn’t splatter on that poor, unsuspecting, tax-paying citizen’s automobile. There are quite a few substances I don’t want on my car. And can you guess what’s on the short list of those substances? Correct. BUM URINE.

So I parked in our garage behind my roommate Mary, but now I realize that she’s probably leaving early in the morning and I’ll be blocking her in, so I have to go move it again right now, in the black of night (OK, 11:15, whatever) to a different spot on the street. A spot under both a tree and a power line. So that the bum will not pee on my car.

I hate to say what I’m about to say, for so many reasons.

But seriously.

Get a job.

The Righteous, the Wicked, and the Little Black Cat

June 19, 2011

Y’all some serious drama just went down at the church across the street. It’s like West Side Story, except instead of Sharks vs. Jets, it’s Episcopal priests vs. street preachers. OK, one street preacher. But he was being loud enough for like 20 people. Here’s how it unfolded…

I was washing my face, and suddenly I heard the sounds of shouting and condemnation through the open windows, and then some murmuring and a woman’s voice say, “No, you are NOT controlling yourself.” And I was inclined to agree with her, as the man continued to rant and rave. I went out to the living room where I could get an unobstructed view, and there was a woman and a priest facing off with a man with a big, yellow sign that said, “The Wicked Shall (Something, I forget now).” So I hunkered down to watch, and he kept up the tirade for several minutes. More people came out, including the main priest in the white robe, and the street preacher was getting up in their faces somewhat, and my neighbor downstairs announced that she’d called the police.

At this point, I decided I needed to take a picture, so I went to get my camera, and wouldn’t you know, when I came back he’d crossed the street and had set up camp right outside my apartment building (greeaaaat), but continued to shout at them from across the street. So I couldn’t get a good picture. By this point, also, the church cat, Vesper, was trotting outside to see what all the excitement was about. And at that moment, the street preacher said something that sounded like, “You thesperals,” but I don’t think that was it, since that’s not a word, but it sounded enough like “Vesper” that I saw her be like, “What? Me? What do I have to do with this?” Nevertheless, she was intrigued and parked herself on the sidewalk to get an unobstructed view as he continued the rant. He said that word a couple more times, and each time, her ears perked up. Eventually the shouting tapered off, and Vesper trotted back inside, deciding the excitement was over, and similarly, I trotted back to my room, got back in bed and started writing this.

And oh, boy, he’s shouting again, although I can’t quite make out what he’s saying. I have a feeling he may not actually be saying sentences, because I just heard something like, “With folly, set on high! Magnified good with God’s shrimp! And the righteous and the wicked shall personally give the wicked to condemn the righteous.” (What?) Then something about a scholar or a collar, and I think he’s pretty upset about an unmarried couple living together.

And Ohhh, boy, he just very clearly said, “Yes, I’m still here, Cowards. I’ll be here for a very long time. Perhaps week after week.” And by “here” I can only assume he means his current position right by our garage. Mmm, can’t wait for that. Won’t be awkward at all walking by him on my way to take out the recycling.

A Metaphorical Spank on the Back

June 8, 2011

When I was little, I had a book, and a record that went along with it, called “The Story About Ping.” It was about a duck who lived on a fishing boat with his extended duck family and their human master, and every evening, the boat master would call, “La-la-la-la-lei!” And the ducks would run back to the boat, and the last one back would get a spank on his or her back. (Yeah, kind of a weird situation overall; don’t think about it too hard.) Well, Ping understandibly never wanted to be that last duck, to the extent that one evening he realized he was going to be last and didn’t go back at all — and adventures, of course, ensued.

Well, last night I started a writing class that is held at the teacher’s apartment. This apartment is in a lovely neighborhood with a heinus, heinus parking situation. Like, I guess the first two or three people actually get to park on his street, then the next six or eight find spaces a couple blocks away after circling twice or thrice, and then, there’s me. And I can’t really get there much sooner, because I’m coming from work. So by the time I got there, (and I was not yet late, mind you; when I got to the apartment and started looking for parking, I still had a couple minutes to spare), all the good, fair, and mediocre spots were taken; all that was left was a metered spot, blocks and blocks away and down a steep series of hills, and I only found it after driving around for 15 minutes. And I can’t help thinking this is like a modern-day, non-fishing-boat Ping situation, except that the last person, instead of getting a spank on the back, gets the shittiest parking space of all time.

La-la-la-la-lei!

Sunrise on the Terrycloth Horizon

June 1, 2011

I have never bought towels for myself. Never. Well, until the other day at Ikea, and tonight on the Crate & Barrel website… and the Pottery Barn Website. Yes, I’m making up for lost time by spending a fortune on an amazing variety of towels. Some are even monogrammed! And for years, and up until the other day, I had absolutely no desire whatsoever to own new towels, whether I bought them for myself or not.

The reason for this is because my parents have always lived dangerously close to the Springmaid Wamsutta outlet in Asheville, North Carolina, which, coincidentally and irrelevant to this story, is right next door to a Bojangles. YUM. Anyway, so my mom always has way too many towels, and has always either given me her extras or has bought them for me at the outlet. And I think I’ve been using towels I’ve had since college. This hasn’t bothered me in the slightest, because for my first five years in LA, my bathroom was a jarring pinky/purply color, and the only way I could see to deal with that was to lean it toward the purple, and away from the pink, by having white and purple accessories. So my sister bought me a beautiful white shower curtain with purple squares, I happened to find a lovely white bath rug with purple squares, and all my towels from college were, conveniently, purple! When I moved to a different bedroom in that house, my new bathroom was just white, so purple went fine… and when I lived in my last apartment, Mary and I had a bunch of different-colored stuff anyway, so it was no big deal that my towels were purple (and a few various shades of blue that had made their way into my collection (via Mom) along the way).

The Pinky-Purply Bathroom of Doom

Close-up on Those Sweet Purple Towels!

Another reason I’ve kept those old towels is that I kind of hate new towels, or maybe the only new towels I’m familiar with haven’t been the highest quality. I mean, not my Wamsutta towels, because those are great quality… but some new towels I’ve used at other people’s houses, when they’re new and haven’t yet been washed 75-80 times, shed lint all over you and, rather than absorbing water, merely push it around, which is quite annoying when you’re trying to get dry, because isn’t that the point of towels to begin with? So anyway, why would I want to put myself through that, when I can just keep my trusty old absorbent purple friends?

So, back to the other day. I cleaned my bathroom and changed out my blue bath rug for my yellow and white one… and I’d recently gotten some new soap in a yellow dispenser… and I happened to have a navy blue hand towel on the rack… and I noticed how lovely everything looked with the blue and the yellow. And I decided that it was time to get rid of my purple towels and move toward a new dawn… a dawn of navy blue and yellow towels… towels that I would purchase myself, and wash 75-80 times if need be, so that they’d absorb.

And throughout all this, I noticed something kind of disturbing… I noticed that I’m actually very attached to my old purple towels, and that all my hemming and hawing about how new towels suck, and the only acceptable towels are old towels, was actually me masking the fact that I, for some reason, am deeply attached to these purple towels! And as I was spending way too much money on new towels online just now (Monograms! Ahahahahahahaha!), I found myself wondering what would become of the old ones. I could use them as rags, but no, they were too dignified for that; that would be insulting. I don’t think Goodwill takes towels, and if you think I’m going to put them in the dumpster, you can think again. I’m pretty sure what’s happening is that I care about these towels’ feelings! I feel like they’re part of me, like we’ve been through so much together, like comfy old pals. And that, my friends, is precisely the reason I must get rid of them as quickly as possible.

Blue and Yellow Paradise! (The tiles and towels look almost black, but trust me, they're blue.)

R.I.P. Purple Towels: 2001ish–2011.