Tidal Wave of Silence

It happened.

It really…finally…happened.

Last weekend, Mr. and Mrs. S., of My Neighbors from Hell, officially moved out.

Gone. Poof. Moving truck came and went. And they haven’t spent a single night at the apartment since. Maintenance has been in to paint already, which can only mean they’re really, truly, utterly gone.

The blissful silence that has enveloped us from next door (in addition to the intoxicating absence of any third-hand cigarette (or otherwise kind of) smoke) has been a crushing tidal wave of relief.

The chains have come off. The doors to Shawshank have opened to reveal too bright light.

We bask in the glorious freedom!

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Handel’s Messiah. Not just for Christmas!

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I’ll bring the cream.

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Photo courtesy of Mikael T on Flickr.

I grew up with a father who worshipped coffee. He still does. I absolutely attribute my love of the rich, bold tasting brew to him, since I may not have given being a coffee drinker more serious thought if it hadn’t been for his influence.

He took it so seriously that I thought one must be a cool person if s/he is a coffee drinker. And I still hold this opinion. But we know I am a total coffee snob.

Anyway, my dad took his coffee with cream when I was a kid (well, half ‘n half). On Sundays when we’d go to church, he would bring a carton of cream to share with others during coffee hour (the hour(s) adults would stand around and talk about grownup things), because he wanted his coffee doctored just so. I always thought this was a strange practice, not understanding what was at stake, of course.

I didn’t know what “powdered creamer” was or that it has nothing whatsoever in common with the real thing. I was ignorant of what delicate texture cream gives to a hearty cup of joe.

As a grown woman who has strong preferences on just about everything, especially what food and beverages I consume, I can safely attest that given the same set of circumstances, I, too, would be hauling my own cream to a weekly function where there is coffee but nothing with which to doctor it.

I have brought my own cream to work on many occasions, because otherwise I cannot drink coffee at work. Coffee and cream go together, plain and simple.

At one of my previous jobs, my employer actually provided milk and cream in the kitchen in the fridge. It was even stocked for us. Do you know what a luxury that was? Picture Forrest Gump saying, “Magic cream.” (Instead of “magic legs.”)

Seriously, best. thing. ever. My cup runneth over with cream. I had my fill of coffee those three years, perfectly blended just the way I liked it.

As I was doing some dishes in the not too distant past, I got to daydreaming and thought about whether I would ask my staff to keep cream in the fridge for me if I ever made it to a top position in management or public office or something. I really think the answer is yes.

Certainly, if I were a pop star, my rider would explicitly state that a small carton of very cold heavy cream would need to be in the fridge in my dressing room, in addition to a pound of my coffee bean of choice.

Thanks to my father, I totally GET the utter importance of having one’s cup of java doctored to one’s exact preferences. And it makes total sense why he would get so understandably upset when he would forget to bring it to church.

“God BLESS it! I forgot the cream!” he would cry out in the car.

Diva or no diva, when it comes to coffee and conversation, I try to plan ahead. Thanksgiving, brunch at a friend’s house, or even church, should I someday join one. I’ll be the woman who states loud and clear, “I’ll bring the cream!”

Bar Study Means Boredom

Allow me to set the mood by prefacing my whining post with this still from one of my most favorite movies, L.A. Story:

BBBAhhh, the stage is set.

It is Saturday night and I have been sitting at my computer for easily an hour or more. I honestly haven’t been keeping an eye on the clock. I gave up watching TV downstairs, since the Kevster is studying for the Bar exam and I grew tired of streaming inanity.

I’ve twirled in my chair; I’ve stared off into space; I’ve thought about how bored I am; I’ve thought about what a luxury it is to be bored; I’ve thought about how annoying it is that my right leg and foot have been tingling off and on every time I sit or lie down, rendering it impossible to laze around and do nothing; I’ve felt sorry for myself that I’ve been cooped up all day and now I’m bored and have nothing to do; I’ve thought about Stephen King, how he survived being hit by a car, picked himself up, struggled through excruciating pain during physical therapy, and he still manages to churn out lengthy novels; and I’ve thought about how normally I cherish being in my little nest on the weekends.

But something about this evening has me twitchy.

In between that last sentence and this one, I’ve browsed Amazon, Facebook, my email, completed most of a crossword puzzle, fiddled with my hair, read a quote by Geneen Roth (author of Women, Food, & God) to try and help me remember to embrace my life as it is now, I’ve thought about how cool it would be if there was a rollerskating rink JUST for adults that was open all night and played all my favorite kinds of music, and I even remembered to be grateful that at least as of this moment, Mr. and Mrs. S. aren’t blaring music like they were last night, which forced us to hole up in the guest room with a carpet picnic. We actually ended up streaming another Sebastian Maniscalco routine, so it wasn’t a bad time.

Part of me wants to go for a drive. But since the city I live in is on the petite side, I’d just end up going in a circle (well, a square) and it wouldn’t be as mindless as I would really prefer it to be.

I’m not what you would call a “drinker,” so going out is off the table, especially alone. Going to a movie might be fun but then I’d have to go by myself (see above with “Bar study” being at the top of Kevin’s To Do List until August 1) and I don’t really feel like being around lots of people, either. I know, I’m being all, FEEL SORRY FOR ME. Sheesh, someone get me to White Whine already.

What this town is missing is an all-night coffee house that has soft (live) jazz playing, a place where I can sit and sip, while interchangeably staring off into space and watching people.

About the only things I haven’t resorted to doing are baking and doing any kind of craft. It’s too warm out to bake and quite frankly, the nihilism has taken over my mind and body–I’m past the point of no return.

I’ve reached the stage of ennui where all I can actually do is complain about how bored I am.

Bored
Beyond
Belief!

Kevin and I have made it through four years of his prepping for and completing law school, and now we’re rounding out the journey with his studying for the Bar exam, which will happen at the end of July.

I know I’m not the one who has to cram all of this knowledge into my brain so I can pursue my dream career. My job is to be supportive and to stand by my man and even to help him study, if need be, while I sit idly by and figure out what the heck to do with myself, since studying doesn’t brake for weekends, no siree Bob.

When one person in a relationship has to study for the Bar for two months straight, the other person gets to spend all kinds of time with herself on her own, to the point where she’s bored doing her usual introverted activities. Even watching whatever I want on TV lost its appeal.

I need my fairy godmother to come along and fast forward time to August, when the studying and the exam are behind us and we can move on with our lives.

(Speaking of fairies, did you know there is something called “fairy gardening?” I just learned about it the other day. It’s a seriously for real thing. Google it!)

Look at that, I’ve managed to make it to 10 p.m. I’m going to see if I can’t go bore myself to sleep.

Bored-Cat

Trapped

Remember when I wrote not very long ago about fighting my urges to research new places to live for one reason or another?

It’s a peaceful, quiet Friday evening. While most people go out to do something social on a Friday night, I have always veered towards home after work or school. Perhaps in my younger years, I had a handful of evenings where I went out after work and added to the stimulation of a long week.

But ninety-nine times out of a hundred (nine times out of ten didn’t really seem to convey the proper percentage), I head to my home after forty-five hours of time spent in the office, longing for solitude, quiet, and relaxation.

I crave unwinding on my own couch with the knowledge that I don’t have to set the alarm for the next day. Out of everything I may do at home–hold a conversation, sit and stare out the window, get on my computer, stream something on Netflix, read a book–it’s the SILENCE I need the most. One of the big reasons we chose to live where we do is it is a lovely apartment community that supports quiet. Our apartment faces a pond (retention basin), with fish and geese and ducks and other flora and fauna. It is still.

Basin_Zoe Says

Feel the stillness?

My partying neighbors, whose energy for seamy nightlife activities knows no bounds, are the perfect Achilles heel to my introverted plans. I think they have some kind of radar that alerts them as to when I need to relax the most, unless their urges to party just neatly coincide with my desire to relax each weekend, which is likely the case.

Drinking and smoking don’t really make any noise, though. If all these people did was have a quiet cigarette or two with a brandy, we’d have no problems. Perhaps we’d even feel like giving them a friendly wave.

But no; what makes noise are drunken belligerent fools who listen to really terrible (bass-y) music every…single…weekend evening, preceding and during the imbibing of God only knows what substances, whilst also whooping. (How I Met Your Mother fans–I have a “woo” girl living right next door to me! Except she’s in her mid-thirties and it’s called “alcoholism!”)

What makes it worse is that the music is not only turned up to an unreasonable volume for living in a shared-walls community, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they have their stereo system set up near the back wall of their apartment, which contains the utility closet, which abuts our utility closet on the back wall of our apartment, and is not well insulated and thus emits noise quite well. The folding metal door on the utility closet doesn’t help.

Apartments

Based solely on my imagination, because it’s hard for me to fathom how loud they’d have to play the music if the stereo wasn’t right next to the shared wall.

At first I thought it was all the husband’s fault. He seemed like an easy target to blame. He chain smokes outside on the patio (our patios are adjacent to one another) and he’s a tight-lipped, unpleasant sort of fellow. Loves his cell phone and his minivan. (Red flag, anyone?)

Their habits have been pretty predictable up until lately. Usually it’s dead silent up until nine or ten o’clock at night and then…cue the stereo and some honky tonk or other terrible genre of songs. I did say it was bad, didn’t I?

The week before last, the wife was gone for an entire week. Not a single note emitted from their apartment from Monday to Friday. I wondered if God had granted me the gift of going deaf at will; perhaps someone had died; did they suddenly develop a collective conscience?

We got our answer when the wife returned home on Friday and the musical habits returned with her. I was seriously stunned. I had made a serious and sexist judgment call, believing that the surly husband and his musical whims were the bane of my existence, when the whole time it was the wife.

Perhaps you’re asking yourself if I have talked to them about the music. Yes. I confronted the banshee herself one early morning before work, when she was still bleary-eyed and hungover. She even told me they would try to “watch it” around ten o’clock with regard to the music, when the complex’s “quiet hours” start. That lasted about a week.

Perhaps you are wondering if we’ve had to call the police. Yep. Did it work? No. In fact, they rebelled by playing the music louder and screaming at us through the walls. Classy all the way.

Maybe you’re wondering if management has stepped in. Yes! They have been banned from renewing a lease and are on warning about their violations of Quiet Hours and the section of the lease regarding use of premises. We still have to live next to them until they leave, however.

As I mentioned in the other post, Mr. and Mrs. Shithead are moving between now and the end of July. Their actual move date is a mystery but we find ourselves praying we’ll come home to a moving truck every single day at this point. (We were given the false hope that they would “go out of town on weekends” until their lease was up. So far, it has yet to happen and I think that was just a whimsical lie Mrs. S. thought would sound good when talking to the manager.)

Here are the strategies we utilize while we wait for the hours and minutes on the clock to painstakingly pass until our fun-loving partiers alcoholics vacate the premises:

  • Retire upstairs in the nine o’clock hour every night (unless by some miracle the music isn’t on.)
  • Turn the Blizzard fan in our room to high, drowning out most of the noise that inevitably emanates from downstairs.
  • Put on noise-canceling headphones when doing anything quiet, like reading, checking email, or attempting to fall asleep.
  • Sit in the upstairs computer room, which is unattached to any part of their apartment, with the door shut and quiet music on, and blog to get my mind off the anxiety that wells up inside of me every second of every minute that they play their vile cacophony downstairs, and wait for them to pass out.
  • Put on headphones and listen to guided meditation; take deep breaths.
  • All of the above.

I guess you figured out which one I’m doing now. The problem tonight is, they opted for Music Hour(s) far earlier than usual. We hadn’t even figured out our dinner plans yet. What all of those options above have in common is that they all involve our being trapped in our own apartment – the place that is supposed to be our (QUIET) sanctuary.

I wouldn’t allow myself to even look at my comfy couch–I just made a beeline for the upstairs. While my dude decided on an evening nap (with fan on!), I chose to hole up in the computer room, staring out at the peaceful scene beyond my windows, making me envious with the knowledge that it would be quieter if I camped out in a tent with the geese and insects around me than if I slept in my own comfortable bed with two human beings one wall away.

And with that….

It’s time for a late supper. It means I have to brave going downstairs and leave my safe little space in front of the computer.

Here goes nothing.

The Virtues of Cleaning Makeup Brushes

Like exercise or flossing, cleaning one’s makeup brushes is something makeup bloggers and aestheticians strongly recommend doing if you regularly beat your mug with all kinds of pretty products, as I am wont to do.

Like exercise or flossing, I need to do it way more often than I actually do.

I think the pros do this multiple times a week. Bravo to them. I don’t make the time to do it, though I know it’s much more hygienic to do it that often.

Gross consequences of never washing your brushes are things like big old clogged pores and eye infections. Conversely, if you buy super cheapy brushes that don’t last longer than a few months, you can always just keep buying new ones every so often.

However, if you are serious about makeup, you know the importance of investing in at least one or two key brushes. I’ve been given several sets over the years and have plunked down more money than I care to say on a couple of really solid brushes that have lasted me a long time.

Cleaning one’s brushes also increases their longevity, so it’s a good payback system.

There are dozens of suggestions out there for how to clean your brushes and with what. I find that a few drops of tea tree oil and a little gentle shampoo (or even something like Dawn) works really well. Tea tree oil kills the germs and the Dawn or the shampoo sudses out the oils and dirt. (Not sure if “sudses” is a verb but I’m going with it.)

I took the liberty of taking some photos of my process today. You can see that I was waaaaaaaaaaaaaay overdue with cleaning mine. They all needed to soak for quite a bit and be rinsed out really thoroughly before they were clean. I went through at least three bowls of pink, dirty makeup water.

So don’t be like me and literally let dust build up on the tips of your brushes. Soak those suckers as often as you can make time for it. Your face will thank you for it!

Assemble your soaking bowl, cleansing soap or shampoo, and your tea tree oil.

Assemble your soaking bowl, cleansing soap or shampoo, and your tea tree oil.

zoe says 060213-2

Get those babies in there, letting the tea tree oil disinfect.

Second set of brushes...

Second set of brushes…

Rinse THOROUGHLY, gently squeeze out the excess water, and lay on paper towels.

Rinse THOROUGHLY, gently squeeze out the excess water, reshape, and lay on paper towels.

Pretty maids all in a row...

Pretty maids all in a row…

Be sure not to put them back in their containers right away, since you want any excess water to drip onto the paper towels. If too much water sits at the base, it’ll get mildewy and disgusting. Nobody wants that.

Lastly, you can help the drying process along by gently blowdrying them when they’ve air dried for a while. Then you’ve got nice, clean, fluffy brushes to help you look your best again.

Duckie vs. Blaine: An Exhaustive Study of Pretty in Pink

I streamed Pretty in Pink today. Couldn’t help myself. Despite the fact that this movie came out when I was FIVE, here I am at 33, still enjoying the hell out of it, and on so many more levels. This blogger analyzed the movie in her own way and I love how she predicts things end up for Andie, Blane, and Duckie. Read on.