Tuesday, August 05, 2003

In 1994, I went on a long trip. One afternoon, on said trip, I was watching TV in a hotel room while a friend of mine (with whom 95% of my readers attended high school; hint- she played the drums) was throwing stuff in a backpack so we could venture out to find the only Subway fast food store in Sydney. She worked at Subway in Manheim, and she promised someone she would get her picture taken in Australia's then only Subway eating a Vegemite Sandwich Combo Meal. Anyway, her hotel room's TV was stuck on one channel featuring a Madeline cartoon, and we kept hearing the theme song ("I'm MAD-e-line! I'm MAD-e-line!") over and over again, until Trip Friend started singing, “In-SAN-ity! In-SAN-ity!” which, on very chaotic days, gets stuck in my head, even these 9 years later.

This week has been killer, and I can't wait to lay on the beach. Last Wednesday was an unbelievable day, in the manner of Unbelievable Days that only seem to happen to me. It started off so well, I should have been suspicious.

I got up before I had to, read the paper, gave Bella a long, "smell whatever you want unless it's visibly disgusting" style walk (we almost never have time for that in the mornings), and gloated a little to myself as I climbed the stairs to my apartment that I had 20 minutes to get to my first assignment 10 minutes away. This was the Kiss of Death.

My key broke in the lock. I just turned it gently and it broke right off. It was like it melted or something. (It didn't, really, but it was such a smooth movement that that’s what it felt like.) So, luckily, I had my cell phone, and I called my associate scheduler person to tell her to tell the reporter I was supposed to be meeting to sit tight, I would be there as soonas I could. Got her voice mail. Damn.

I couldn't leave the dog running free up and down the stairs, obviously, if only because it's 95 degrees and completely unventilated, not to mention that this is the day my new neighbors (with a toddler) were supposed to bring stuff by and start moving in. I couldn't take the dog with me and lock her in the car, and I didn't have my camera gear anyway.

So I left Bella in the hallway, figuring it would take longer for her to have a heat stroke than it would for me to shimmy up the fire escape and go through the kitchen window where I could open the stuck door with the key sliver from the other side. I ran into my landlord at the back of the house, who hates it when we break into our own apartments by shimmying the fire escape.

So HE decided to break into my apartment by shimmying up the fire escape, which always scares the shit out of me because he is a.) 70 b.) mostly deaf c.) not so good with the English and I would have no idea what to tell 911 what hurts most if he fell but managed to not lose consciousness and d.) sometimes he climbs up wearing a trash bag to check the roof during rain storms, which is scary, not just because he's a senior citizen and the stairs are slippery in the rain, but also because the unexpected appearance of a drenched old man wearing a trashbag outside my third story window is, well, scary.

After three explanations that no, my dog will NOT bite him if he goes through the window, because she is stuck in the hallway, and no, the broken key is not in the door from the porch, but rather in the door at the top of the stairs to my personal apartment, which is why the dog is in the hallway (Repeat. Repeat.), he goes through the window. I go around, go up the stairs, wait by the stuck door, holding the dog's leash. Landlord flings open the door, saying, "You fixed it!" while I try to explain, again, that the door from the porch is NOT the problem, THIS door is. Repeat. Repeat.

As I am pointing to the sliver of key in the lock and holding up the broken one, I realize that Landlord probably left the window open from the fire escape open, which means, at this point, Fred has either a.) made a break for freedom and is perching precariously in the gutter staring at a bug or b.) started to gnaw on the plant he loves (the leaves of which make cats sick) that lives on the fire escape since he can't leave it alone.

I go tearing into the kitchen, pull Fred away from the poisonous plant, shove him in the bathroom, yank Bella (now barking her fool head off at the man hitting the lock with a hammer) away from the Landlord, put her in her crate, give her her water bowl, check Fred's eyes to make sure they aren't dilating, they aren't, put him, his litterbox and water in the office, turn the air conditioner on turbo, explain that yes, I have a spare key that will open this lock once you bang the sliver out, oh yes, thank you! Thank you! Yes, I have a spare key, yes, an extra one, no, the broken one was not the only one I have. Yes. A whole other key. I will be fine. Yes. Thanks! (Repeat. Repeat.)

A bunch of other things happened throughout the day. I planned to tell you about them, as some of them are quite funny, but considering that all of the craziness I described above transpired in less than fifteen minutes, I'll skip it. You should get a pretty accurate idea of my day if you just the sing word “insanity” to the tune of the Madeline cartoon theme song out loud to your self right now.

Ready, everyone? “In-SAN-ity, in-SAN-ity! In-SAN-ity, in-SAN-ity!”

Eleven hours later, I return to my apartment to find a sliver-less lock. I use my spare key, and took my dog for a walk.

I should mention that there is a Rogue Skunk in my neighborhood. I think Bella thinks that the skunk is a cat, albeit one that smells most interestingly different from Fred. Fred is a Cat! Fred is a Friend! Friends are Fun! Cats mean Fun! I want to be friends with the Cat! Fun! Cat! Fun! Cat! Cat!

We’ve had a couple of near misses with Rogue Skunk, to the point where I actually stocked up on hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Two nights previous, the dog started to pull me toward a neighbor’s yard. I was facing the other way, but whirled around in time to see Rogue Skunk, still 30 feet away, getting up on his front paws into a headstand. That time, we took off, (actually I screamed into my cell phone first-sorry, Alissa), and all was well.

Not so lucky this time. Bella stuck her face in a bush, and the skunk leapt out, hitting us first a warning shot, which was still pretty bad. It wasn’t so terrible that I couldn’t take her back into the house, although we traumatized Fred with the stankiness, who went hissing and spitting into a corner, all spikey Halloween cat style.

One hour, five bathes (lather, rinse, repeat. Lather, rinse, repeat. You can sing that if you want), a bottle of peroxide and 2 boxes of baking soda later, she went back into her crate for the second long stretch of time that day. Fred got unlimited Whiska Lickins’ and the foot of my bed to himself.

And another day began.

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