Why is there a toilet on our patio?

To drive me slowly mad that’s why. It’s a conspiracy hatched in my landlady’s head. She knows I’m pregnant, she knows I probably have to go to the bathroom a million times a day and she knows we only have one bathroom in our house. She also knows I hardly ever leave the house. “Ha ha ha!” she must have cackled as she rubbed her bony fingers together in evil landlady glee.

Oh, I don’t know. She’s not that evil. She’s just older and stuck in her ways and she’s a bit hard to communicate with since English is her second language. I think she is from Guatemala or Paraguay or somewhere exotic and south of Mexico. She actually lived the American dream. She made herself rich cleaning one toilet at a time. She likes to tell us this tale (which includes some detail about losing her wedding ring down the toilet) every time she comes by our house, which is a lot. Which we hate because it always turns into a lecture on what we should do to take care of the place better even though we all know it’s crumbling to the ground and it’s worth more as a tear-down than it is as a 1950’s beach bungalow.

Anyway, our landlady decided we needed a new tile floor in our bathroom. This is actually a very nice turn of events since we have been living with embarrassingly gross water-stained linoleum for the past six years. Ever since the tenant below (who rents out the garage below us to store their legal documents in) complained of water leaking onto his boxes and boxes of important papers, our landlady has made a serious effort to correct the situation.

I’ve probably blogged about it before but I’m too lazy to make a link. She’s put a new shower door on our bathtub, she’s added a rubber strip to the bottom of the shower door, she’s fussed and fussed and nothing seemed to stop the water leaking problem. Mostly because the floor underneath the tub is completely rotted and the water gets through because there isn’t a very good seal along the edges of the tub… bla bla bla. We don’t really care that much because the whole place is falling down around us and we intend to move someday before we fall through the floor. Our place is a tear down. Repairs are a lost cause and an excuse for the landlady to raise the rent.

But of course if you have a team of lawyers threatening to sue you because years and years of documents have been destroyed by water, the matter of the leaky floor becomes more urgent. She puttered and muttered and eventually came up with the idea of installing a tile floor. And so a tile floor we got.

The construction crew arrived at 9 am. They ripped out the toilet and put it on the porch. They ripped out the rotted wood that was the floor and put it on the porch too. Then they went to the hardware store to buy new lumber and they were gone for about six hours. They probably had a sit down lunch while they were out, I don’t know. They are nice enough fellows but the sad part is they brought along a ten-year-old boy to act as translator. I felt sorry for the kid. He had nothing to do all day but hang out at our house and help his dad find tools. Then they left him behind when they went out for their six hour lunch. I tried to make friends with him and offer to let him watch our television but he preferred to stay outside. He must have been warned to stay away from the crazy “gringos”. Who knows.

What I do know is that I went crazy not being able to go to the bathroom. The thing with me is that I’m never sure I have to go but I can’t concentrate unless I have just gone and I know every little drip has left my body. The baby is sitting upside down on her head on top of my bladder. She is so big that sometimes she completely blocks the pipes so I don’t have to go at all and then when she moves I suddenly really really really really have to go. It’s crazy making even when I’m sitting five feet away from an available bathroom. So you can imagine how I felt with no toilet to go to. Just seeing it sit there on the porch with no privacy or pipes connected to it made me want to scratch my eyeballs out.

Fortunately we live on the urban side of town and at the corner of our street is a very friendly coffee shop. It’s like the bar in Cheers. They know everybody by name. I don’t visit there very often because I don’t know everybody by name I think they are all snobs. Or I’m just too shy to make friends. Either one. Besides when I’m drinking coffee (which I’m not right now cause I’m prego) I make a pretty mean cup of coffee at home so I don’t need to walk to the end of my street and buy somebody else’s.

But having this friendly/snobby coffee shop nearby is a very good thing when you need to use a public restroom. By ten-thirty I knew everybody’s name at the coffee shop and they all knew I was pregnant and had a bladder the size of a pea. By eleven they had the bathroom key sitting out for me on the counter by the cash register. I was tempted to just ask if I could keep the key for the day. If anybody else needed it, they could just call my cell phone and I’d bring it down. I’d probably be heading that way anyway.

The only problem was, this coffee shop closes at four. And of course the construction crew at our house was no where near completing the tile floor by then. So this is when God looked down and rained a miracle on me. It just so happens that they are also doing construction at the coffee shop. It’s catching in our neighborhood. It’s like that crazy lady who built the Winchester Mystery house and she made staircases that went nowhere because she believed she’d live as long as she could constantly hear the sound of hammers pounding. There are always hammers pounding in our neighborhood. There are always jackhammers breaking up cement too but that’s another blog (quicktime movie).

So because I am so lucky and blessed, I was able to sneak into the coffee shop through the open front door and steal the key five more times before I headed off to my baby sitting job at five. The coffee shop construction crew didn’t even know I was there. Never before have I looked so forward to going to babysit. I almost went early, I was so anxious to be in a house with a toilet connected to some plumbing.

Oh what a day.

I’m happy to report that when I came home at midnight, the toilet was installed and we now have a very nice new tile floor. I had no idea they could be so cold on bare feet!

Boo Humbug

Boo Humbug!

Halloween sucked. No trick-o-treaters, no dirty martini’s. I’m just a big fat crabby pregnant lady who goes to bed at 8pm.

Toby and I live down a dark scary alley at the end of a peaceful street. We live at the end of our nice peaceful street where it is connected to a big scary highway and the backs of restaurants and Persian rug stores where rats play tag along the roof lines. I think parents look down the block and say, “Not that way kids, that’s where the Boogie Man and gangsters live…” and then they herd their precious ones back towards the soft glowing lights of suburbia.

If you walked a block the other way (away from our house and the highway) you’d end up in happy-kid-city! Every house is decorated, the side walks are lit with jack-o-lanterns and strings of orange pumpkin lights. Retired grandparents rock on their porches drinking hot totties or cocoa or something. Families have outdoor dinner parties on their imported teak picnic tables, lit by tea light decorated pottery barn beach umbrellas. It really is the American-dream-come-true neighborhood right out of Sunset magazine, white picket fences included. We’re just lucky to live on the fringes.

However, fringe people don’t get trick-or-treaters. Through the years (after that first year where we turned off all the lights and pretended not to be home) Toby and I have tried all kinds of enticement to get kids to come down our alley for candy. One year we even stuck one of our cheap IKEA paper globe lamps out the window from the end of a broom and hung a white sheet over it with strategically placed black pieces of construction paper so it would look like giant glowing ghost was flying magically over our alley. We’ve tried music, we’ve tried signs, we’ve even tried placing pumpkins all the way down to the bottom of our stairs. None of it resulted in anything other than our pumpkins getting smashed to bits sometime after midnight. Nobody comes down our alley. Just us and the crickets and the rats running along the roof tops.

This year, I decided I would go to Whoorl’s house! She lives in our neighborhood AND she doesn’t live on the fringes. In fact, she lives between an elementary school and five blocks of “glowing suburbia”. She lives on “pregnancy row” as she calls it. It’s just one house after the other with kids. It was going to be great. Whoorl bought an embarrassingly large amount of candy and I went over at 4:30 pm with my pumpkin carving gloves on and high hopes of all the stories I’d tell Toby when I came home exhausted from handing out handfuls of candy to the hoards of cute little costumed kids. It was going to be great. Did I say that already?

I helped Whoorl cut her pumpkins and we set them up in a charming group on the steps of her very inviting porch. The sun sank and we waited inside gleefully munching on mini nutrageous bars. Whoorl turned on the football game and I tried to pretend I wasn’t the biggest pregnant klutz in the whole world who just spilled 87 drips of water on her perfectly perfect couch. The minutes ticked by quietly. We talked about the weather and how fat I’m supposedly not getting and still no kids. Finally, we decided to go outside and sit on the steps. Maybe we could will the kids to come to us with our cute smiles and friendly demeanor. Still no kids. We sat on her steps until my butt got sore (which is what, like two minutes now in my pregnant state?) Still no kids.

I think the whole night maybe six kids came by. What a bust. Around 6:55 pm I decided maybe I better go home and cook dinner or wash my hair or something. Whatever I was going to do, I better take my bad trick-or-treater mojo with me or Whoorl was going to be stuck eating stale Halloween candy until next year.

I’m sure they all showed up the minute I left.