Thursday, July 30, 2009

Book Me A Ticket, I'm Going On A Guilt Trip

It all started with the cilantro, which I made the mistake of leaving in her refrigerator. I thought, hey it's got a crisper, that will do it some good. Because Wegmans only sells cilantro in bunches the size of a basketball. You'd really have to love you some cilantro to eat it all before it goes bad.
By the next day it had been washed, dried, and separated into two plastic bags. Of course she used paper towels to dry it so now I can't ever eat it, due to my weird intolerance of squishy wet paper towels.
Granny: "Is that parsley in there? Because I washed it and dried it..."
Me: "Granny, you don't have to do that. It's cilantro."
Granny: "I didn't know if you'd be mad at me for doing it..."
Me: sigh
Granny: "You should put half of it in the freezer, I always used to freeze parsley."
Me: "No, I don't need to freeze it. Granny, I'd prefer if you didn't wash my stuff."

Half of the cilantro is now residing in the freezer. I know I didn't put it there.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Love You Long Time Ashtray: Weird Stuff Around The House #4

This is just plain wrong on so many levels, but I think nothing says "get well soon!" like an ashtray.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This...Thing: Weird Stuff Around The House #3

She's thrown out tons of stuff and yet this...thing is still in the basement.
It's full of plastic flowers and is taller than me.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sam Kinison Tribute




Saturday, July 25, 2009

Anyone Up For Some McNuggets?

For two years I lived on fast food and anything that could be heated up in a toaster oven. Needless to say, svelte is not a word that comes to mind when I look in the mirror. When my position was terminated and it became clear I would not be able to move out this summer as planned, I finally held my breath and my cookbooks and went downstairs to the kitchen.
This afternoon was a reminder as to why I didn't venture down there to begin with.

Granny: "Are you making hamburgers?"
Me: "I'm not making hamburgers."
Granny: "I like them with Romano cheese."
Me: "I'm not making hamburgers."
Granny: "They're so good with Romano cheese, Minnie down the street told me that."
Me: chopping onions..."Mmmhmmm."
Granny: proceeds to watch me chop said onion.
Me: waiting for direction as to how I should chop said onion, which surprisingly never comes, but makes me tense nevertheless, because I can sense the disapproval. This is usually where I cut myself, which surprisingly also doesn't happen. I pick up my specially selected, retro-style fruit printed flour sack kitchen towel, Crate & Barrel 95 cents.
Granny: "You should wipe your hands on a paper towel!"
Me: "I don't like paper towels." (I don't, especially the weird wet squishiness they get)
Granny: "Then you won't have to wash them!"
Me: holding 8 inch Forschner chef's knife in one hand, "I don't like paper towels!"
Granny: "Do you need a frying pan? There's frying pans in..."
Me: "I have a frying pan."
Granny: "Yeah, but you keep going up and down the stairs."
Me: brandishing large, Cooks Illustrated-approved stainless steel skillet, "I have it right here."
Granny: "There's a tunderstorm warning until 4:30."
Me: "Mmmmhmm."

Summertime, And The Living Is Annoying

Contrary to popular belief, it does not snow nine months of the year in Buffalo. In fact, one of the reasons people who live here keep trying to justify their lives is that "We get all four seasons here!"
Well, actually, that whole four season thing ended about fifteen years ago. Now there's Hot Sticky and Exhausting (July 5th to August 27th) and Cold Wet and Muddy (the rest of the year). But not this year! Hot Sticky and Exhausting has been replaced with Overcast and Kinda Warm. Which is fine with me, but everyone is bitching. Because if it was 87 degrees and humid for weeks on end, they would supposedly be really into that.

Buffalo weather is marked by a series of questions. The local newscasts go like this:

Will we get some rain to water the grass?
When is it going to stop raining?
Will we have a white Christmas?
When is it going to stop snowing?
When will it warm up?
When are we going to get a break from the heat?
When will we see the sun again?

I started this post with the weather situation because no matter what the summer weather, its always 80 degrees up stairs at Granny's. This wouldn't be so bad if I weren't so heat sensitive. Anything over 72 and I'm about to spontaneously combust. To combat this, I purchased one of those rolling A/C units, which looks a lot like R2-D2. A loud, cold air dispensing savior on wheels.
The heat is a problem, but the stale air is another. You see, 85% of the windows in this house do not open, some because they're broken, but mostly because they were built that way. Why Poppy, or anyone for that matter, would choose to install fixed windows but not central air is beyond me.
Thankfully, the windows in my upstairs rooms are OK. My bathroom window needs to be propped open with a stick lest it fall closed, but at least it opens. The same can't be said of the kitchen window above the sink (only the left side opens), the majority of the Jalousie windows on the porch (either broken, permanently closed or permanently open -they no longer make Jalousie windows anymore to replace them), or the window at the top of the staircase (hasn't opened since it was re-installed backwards after a siding job).
Then there's the giant wall of windows in the living room (fixed), the windows in the kitchen corner by the table (fixed), the window in the downstairs bathroom (opens to the enclosed porch), the windows in the downstairs bedroom (they open, but Granny is to afraid to leave them open, in case someone would decide to murder her in her sleep), and the left side of the kitchen window above the sink (she leaves it open maybe an inch).

It's like living in a vacuum, and not even a nice, posh Dyson.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Well, That Certainly Came Out Of Nowhere

So I was cooking some dinner, minding my own business, when Granny came into the kitchen.

"If these coloreds keep killing themselves, we won't have to worry about them much longer! It's all DRUGS!".

Alrighty then.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Granny!

Goin' to the Wilco show, see ya.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Vader Was Nothing But a Toady

Even back in 1983, I thought Granny kind of looked like this dude.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Anybody touches my stuff...I'll kill you."

Living here has turned me into that guy from Stripes, the one who wanted to be called "Psycho" but who's name was really Francis ("You call me Francis...and I'll kill you")

Granny, please stop touching my stuff.

This morning I found my underwear on her kitchen table. It had been in the dryer overnight. My grandmother knows what my underwear looks like. FML.

Spiders (Kidsmoke)

The other afternoon I happened to notice some tiny dark spots on my bathroom ceiling. I looked closely but couldn't quite figure out what was going on. Then I got distracted by a puppy or something so the topic was dropped.
That night there were thirty or so baby spiders ambling around my bathroom ceiling.
Now I'm a live and let live type person, so I let them be. It was also 3:30 in the morning and wasn't quite sure if I was seeing things or not.
Seriously, I do not have a spider phobia, and since they were all barely the size of a pin head I let them go become part of the ecosystem of this house, where I'm sure they will strike up conversations with the mice and centipedes.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bring Out Your Dead: Weird Stuff Around The House #2

As I approached the box slowly, a mouse skittered along the edge of the attic, stopped in its tracks, swayed woozily for a moment, and fell on to its back, stone cold dead. I noticed the box's U-Haul logo had been burned off. Strange, I don't remember that at all. I saw visions in my head of great, ancient armies raising a reign of terror in their path, sparing no one.
Do not look directly at it, do not look directly at it, I mumbled to myself.

This atrocity should be familiar to anyone who spent anytime upstairs at Granny's, where I now reside. It hung in the hallway between the bathroom and the bedroom, usually topped by a piece of yellowing palm from that year's Palm Sunday service. Within minutes of moving in, I removed it to a box in the attic, because it has truly scared the living crap out of me my entire life. I could have thrown it in the garbage, but could not chance world apocalypse had it fallen into the wrong hands. Just taking this picture caused my camera to explode.

As you can see, it is a framed crucifixion scene.
It's in 3-D.
3-D, folks, and Jesus' dying eyes seem to follow you as you pass.

The funniest thing is what's printed on the bottom. "Kazmierczak Funeral Home, 852-2222". So, what, this was in a funeral goodie bag? Or a gift with purchase? Like at the Clinique counter?

Even Better Update: My mom claims there used to be a calendar attached to this. I imagine this conversation took place a few times...

"What day is the 4th?"
"It's a Wednesday. Jesus died for your sins, you know."

Friday, July 10, 2009

On Remorse and Resentment, or, How I Got Here

Folks, I'd like to turn down the lights for a moment and get serious.

When acquaintances find out that I live with my grandmother, they picture us living together in a candy cane cottage, where she bakes me cookies and I listen intently to her stories of the Depression, when they may not have had money but they sure had plenty of love.
"How charming!", they exclaim, "How very sweet of you!".
I do not tell of the time she threw my Netflix DVDs in the garbage, or how she once pawed through my birth control, or how she would roam my rooms while I was away at work to snoop, claiming she thought something was leaking in my bathroom. How she once washed a bag of produce I had in my room, because as a 35 year old adult, I am seemingly incapable of knowing that I should wash my fruit. How she hardly ever speaks of the past, certainly almost never of her family, and when she does it is only to mention something the neighbors did forty years ago.
"Yes" I say, smiling, faking a glassy eyed stare. "It's delightful".

Now you may be saying to yourself, how does an adult woman with a full time job and a generous hourly wage end up moving in with her grandmother when she no longer had a boyfriend to share the rent with?
Well, in my twenties I had a love affair with my credit card that was not only more passionate but more tragically predestined than that of Romeo and Juliet's. I was irresponsible enough to rack it up, but always responsible enough to pay the bill on time. I bought a lot of cool stuff, ninety per cent of which is packed into boxes in Granny's basement. I haven't seen it in two and a half years. I could now give a lecture on how the stuff you own ends up owning you, but I like my stuff, so suck it Buddha.
I take full responsibility for this. I am an adult who should have known better. Actually I did know better, but I did it anyway. I just figured that someday I would be rich and famous and it would be taken care of. Seriously. I really believed that. Still do actually.
I am angry with myself. Extremely angry. I am filled with self-loathing for putting myself in this position.
Angry, because as an extremely private person, every piece of mail, every package, every conversation, every time I come and go, is noted and commented on in numerous phone calls to my mother, aunts, and distant relatives who have not seen me since my christening in February of 1974.
Angry, because as an animal lover I can not bring a pet into this house. I've heard the horror stories of how she dispatched my mother's pets when she still lived here.
Angry, because I have watched numerous friends default on their credit cards, student loans, etc., and yet they all end up living in way, way, WAY more fabulous apartments than I could ever hope to rent.
Angry, because as a formerly precocious child who did well in school, who's parents couldn't afford to send her to the college of her choice, should, through hard work, talent and pure guts, be able to find a niche for herself in a career that doesn't make her completely miserable, and yet, and YET is so paralyzed by social awkwardness, fear of embarrassment and a strange reluctance to "put herself out there" that all she does is sit in front of the TV watching Flight of the God Damned Conchords and listening to Spoon.
Angry, because I miss my dog and my boyfriend, admittedly sometimes in exactly that order, angry because I did my part in messing up a relationship that was essentially pretty great, and which now may never be made right again despite the copious apologies issued from both sides.

For the most part, Granny means well. My anger should not be her problem, and though I may have let my frustration slip on occasion I mostly just seethe to myself. I get a lot of headaches. Must be the brain tumor.

Credit cards are a hell of a drug.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous: Weird Stuff Around the House #1

After Poppy died 17 years ago, and Granny started getting rid of things, she asked me what I might want. My immediate response?

"The Schlitz sign."

Don't ask me why. I wasn't even 21 and didn't really care for beer (yet). But the Schlitz sign had been a constant at all our family gatherings, hanging on the wall opposite the wet bar Poppy had built in the basement. Those were good times, back when the whole family still lived here. Yes, I thought, the Schlitz sign please.

The Schlitz sign still hangs on that wall in the basement, waiting for the day when I have my own wet bar. It's probably gonna be a long wait.

It was only a few weeks ago that I took a good look at it. I always knew it was plastic, maybe like a giant plaque, but in reality its very thin, like those cheap Halloween or Christmas decorations you get at Dave's Christmas Wonderland (or if you want to get old skool, Harlem-Genesee Nursery). You may not be able to tell from the picture, but it's 3-D, and juts out from the wall. I was going to take it down to clean it up, but stopped after realizing there may be some unpleasant things living behind it.

Interesting side note: Pabst now owns Schlitz. So all you Wisconsin-living hipster deebags can get your drunk on.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Keep It Legal

I think that once you hit 90, you should be declared legally insane.
Seriously, you've just seen too much. You've "been in the shit" as the Vietnam vets would say.

In honor of Granny's upcoming 91st birthday, click below to hear Patton Oswalt's theory of birthdays.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Heaven Help Me

Granny is really big on religion.
After barely surviving breast cancer and nasty case of pneumonia in 1965 (my mother said, "They thought to call a priest but not a doctor"), she became even more devout. She used to make a yearly pilgrimage to St. Anne de Beaupre in Quebec. She was always going to church, saying rosaries and novenas and whatnot. Up until a few months ago, she hosted a statue of the Blessed Mother in the living room, surrounded by candles. I still have to write out the checks for the weekly collections at her church, which she can no longer attend.

I grew up going to Catholic school and it does one of two things to you -

1.) You become a really good Catholic, or
2.) You become an atheist by first grade.

Guess which one I became?
Religion has little place in my life. Though I enjoy learning about other world religions and think there are things to be said for Judaism and Buddhism, it doesn't ever cross my mind on a personal level. Roman Catholicism, which I grew up with, especially rankles me. I find it medieval and backward. There's a reason Martin Luther went to get a hammer.

Still, every night, Granny walks the bottom floor of the house, fervently whispering her rosary. And every night I want to shout down the stairs, "Granny! IT'S NOT HELPING!"

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Coming Soon...

I will be posting some pictures of "Weird Stuff I've Found Around Granny's House".
Granny has gotten rid of a lot of stuff over the years, but after approximately seventy years or so of living here, there's still lots of strange stuff floating around...I know some fellow family members who's memory will be jogged, and as for the rest of you, well, I think you'll get a good laugh. Or be terrified. Six of one...

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Old people and raisin bread.