my landlord hates me & my future children will too

okay, forget what i said before about possibly doing national novel writing month this year. i’ve known about this project for eleven years & i have NEVER done it. because i know it just won’t work for me. i can’t write a novel in a month. the first time i miss my daily word quota, i’ll lose all faith in myself & give up on the project completely. i need a time frame that is more realistic for my life. so i have decided to give myself three months. take it slow. try to turn out something with a little glimmer of promise so i’m not just re-writing the whole thing completely during revisions. & that’s what i have to say about that.

this morning, literally seconds before i put my espresso maker on the stovetop for my morning coffee, there was a huge bang & the electricity went out. in the absence of caffeine, i was like, “what happened? i’ll just make some coffee & go look around.” forgetting momentarily that our stove is electric. which means, no coffee for me. i discovered that i do not function well without coffee. i have only been drinking coffee on a daily basis for about five years. i don’t know how i used to live without it & actually get through the day. i was almost in tears trying to put one foot in front of the other on nothing but orange juice.

turns out all the electricity on the block was out. for once, it wasn’t just my ramshackle ridiculous house. our electric went out a couple of weeks ago at like 8pm on a saturday night. jared & i had just gotten home from the grocery store & were curled up on the couch, reading books (because we know how to party). bam, no electric. i called my landlord & he was all, “well, not a lot i can do about it on a weekend.” i really think he hates me, all because i requested that he install a bathroom door. luckily the power company came out & fixed it within the hour. but a week later, the electric went out in just one apartment in our building. we have this awful alarm in the hallways that starts blaring to alert everyone to power outages (like it’s not obvious when, you know, the lights go out, the internet goes out, fans stop blowing, the refrigerator stops humming, etc). so the alarm started going off. again, i called the landlord, & he was like, “yeah, i don’t know why it won’t turn off.” it went on for hours. i don’t remember having these kinds of problems, living here last year.

but i did prevail in one arena: the housing inspector came out & took a look at our place & decided that our landlord was violating the law by refusing to install a bathroom door. she called & told him so, & he sent out his maintenance guy yesterday to put one in. jared & i call the maintenance guy small as a nickname, because he is kind of a bumbler. he drives a van that says, “no job to small,” rather than, “no job TOO small,” & we started joking that the maintenance guy’s name is small & the motto around the office is “no job to small” because he’ll just fuck them up. he’s a really nice guy, but he did take a kind of “measure once, cut four times” approach to installing the door. but still! we have one. & life is ten times more dignified as a result.

i read this bizarre op-ed in “the new york times” a few weeks ago, about a woman who has three-year-old twin sons. she wanted to enroll them in a gardening class for toddlers at the botanical gardens in the bronx. the tuition was $175 per child, & each child had to be accompanied by an adult supervisor. so she asked if she could enroll her sons with just herself as the supervisor. & of course the program said, no, each child needs a supervisor. & she was like, right, but they’re twins. & the school was like, right, but they’re two separate children. & the woman was like, yes, but as the mother of twins, i’m used to looking after two children at once. & the program was like, that’s a nice story, but you need a supervisor for each child. & she was like, okay…but can i pay one tuition for both of them? & the program was like…um, no, they are two separate children using two separate sets of resources. & she was like, god, you guys should just have a sign that says, “no twins allowed!”

of course i thought this lady was absolutely bananas. make an exception for twins, & you’re on the slippery slope to making exceptions for all siblings. i mean, my mom had three children in two & a half years. i was just a toddler when my youngest sibling was born. so she had to get pretty good at keeping an eye on three very young children at once. but that doesn’t mean she gets to not play by the same rules as every other parent with only one child. my brother & sister are only thirteen months apart in age–so should they get to take a class with just one tuition? after all, they’re siblings! ridiculous.

but of course i started brainstorming ridiculous ways that this lady could have gotten her twins in the class with just one tuition & one supervisor. for example, sew two sets of toddler overalls together, put a kid in each one, & claim that they are conjoined. what heartless monster would make conjoined twins pay separate tuitions, right? or…get a long toddler-sized trenchcoat, put one twin on the other’s shoulders, drape them in the coat, & just say your one child is amazingly tall for his age. keep a button in the middle unbuttoned so the “legs” can see what’s going on, & the next thing you know, your twins will be gardening geniuses! or, better yet, get a very small pantomime horse costume. dress the kids up in the costume. & then enroll your singleton “miniature pony” in the course. on tuition, one supervisor, everyone is happy!

or…stop being a dumbass & sign up for a plot at the community garden where you can supervise two children playing in the dirt to your heart’s content.

i sometimes question what kind of mother i will actually be.

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