Monday, December 16, 2013

Things that Go Bump

I awoke to the creaking and moaning noises again this morning.  I hid my head under the covers, afraid to look up, lest I should spy the ghoulish source of this terrible noise.  Taking a deep breath, I peeked just above the comforter, and saw…nothing unusual.  It was then I realized that it was just the neighbors, jumping on the bed again.  Despite the fact that these noises had no otherworldly source, I am convinced that my house is indeed haunted…by the spirit of poor planning and shoddy workmanship. 

The poor souls who planned and constructed this house were obviously suffering from some kind of psychosis.  My miniscule home gives one the feeling of being trapped in a coffin.  The downstairs is also half-underground, so if you look out my bedroom window, the first thing you see is a large patch of dirt.  This only serves to enhance the feeling that you’ve somehow been buried alive.  Due to its small size, there is very limited storage space in our house.  We have dozens of totes stuffed in the back of our garage, leaning ominously and threatening to fall on anyone who dares walk too close.  As a testament to sloppy construction, the walls of our home resemble someone’s lame excuse for a fun house.  To look at the walls or windows is rather disorienting, because nothing is level.  This also makes it nearly impossible to hang pictures properly, which increases the lopsided effect.  However, if the claustrophobia or asymmetry bothers us too much, we can always take refuge on the rickety, slanting porch outside. 

Many noises heard in this house might make one suspect supernatural presences.  Our house is part of a quadruplex, and because there is no insulation between the walls, we can clearly hear the activities of the neighbors on both sides.  I often hear demonic children yelling and running up and down the stairs.  Late in the evening, I can hear a child crying, but it is not my daughter’s voice that emanates eerily from the monitor.  It is the voice of the three-year-old next door, and I can hear her because my daughter’s monitor is too close to the shared wall.  Though this housing was built in the late 80s, and the floors are carpeted, the floorboards often creak like you’ve opened a mausoleum door that leads straight to hell.  And then there are the winds, prevalent in this part of South Dakota, which whistle through the stove and roof access panels like a disgruntled banshee.   

Daily occurrences in our home mimic scenes from horror movies.  My husband once went to turn the faucet on and the hot water handle crumbled in his hand.  The knobs and shower head in our bathtub look like they’re going to fall off, because none of the bathtubs were installed correctly.  The bar in the tub also falls out if you apply the least amount of pressure, which has resulted in a few slips and several blood-curdling screams of frustration.  One of the local maintenance men even told me horror stories of bathtubs falling in. And our household appliances behave strangely as well.  Many mornings, I awake to find an ectoplasm-like substance lingering on my supposedly clean dishes.  Our water heater also taunts us, as the water runs hot, then cold, and then scalding hot again.

The temperature fluctuations in our home are enough to drive one insane.  It seems the fires of hell possess the upstairs portion of our home.  There are no ceiling fans upstairs, and sometimes the weather conditions prohibit us from opening the windows.  Our only other options are to run the air conditioner (which we’re not supposed to do in the winter), or bake in the stagnant air.  Downstairs, one can feel many cold spots, which might indicate that there are supernatural presences at work.  Or it could just be that no matter how hot it gets upstairs, it is always freezing in the half-buried basement.  On the rare occasion when we pry open the windows, the unholy stench of dog poop invades.  Each housing unit has a very small yard, and my neighbors have very big dogs…you get the picture.

In addition to the clinging stench of canine excrement, there are also a variety of uninvited guests in my house.  During the winter, large spiders skulk between the folds of the shower curtain.  Earwigs galore inhabit the downstairs in the summer.  They like to hang out on the toilet seat, which can be particularly unnerving if you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  The flies also invade during the summer months, as if each garage on base contained rotting corpses.  It’s truly disgusting, and it gives one the cozy feeling of living in a garbage dump.

So, as I lay awake at night, hoping not to hear those infernal creaking noises again, I must ask myself…is my house haunted, or does it just suck?  In either case, I think it’s time to move.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

One, Two, Three-Four-Five

“Looking for a set of wheels?  We can beat all them deals.  Great is how you’re gonna feel.  We’ve got the cars that have appeal.  Come on down to Dave’s, let’s make a deal.  You’d better believe it!  Leary Chevrolet, Route 9-W, just South of Newbergh.  You’d better believe it!”

The above is an example of some of the completely useless information I have stuck in my head.  It is a commercial jingle I heard when I was eight years old, and we were living in New York.  It’s no wonder I try to sign my maiden name on checks half the time.  I can’t concentrate worth a damn.  And here are some of the reasons why.

I know the lyrics to entirely too many hair band songs.  I can’t remember my sister’s current address, but I know every word to “Unskinny Bop.”  Though this information might one day prove useful at drunken karaoke, these unintelligent and perverted lyrics are not something I want crowding my brain anymore. And for some reason, I know every word to “I Want it that Way” by the Backstreet Boys, even though I don’t recall making any effort whatsoever to actually listen to the Backstreet Boys.  The lyrics to many “One Hit Wonders” are also stored in my cursed cranium.  “Baby Got Back,” “Ice Ice Baby,” and “Mambo Number Five” are just a few of the offenders.  “A little bit of Monica in my life, a little bit of Erica by my side…”  And yes.  I meant to get that stuck in your head.  If I must suffer, then so must everyone…

Naturally, when I want to know the lyrics to songs I actually like, I can’t remember them to save my life.  I have to look them up, and then I promptly forget them.

I have also played the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game way too much.  It has permeated all forms of entertainment for me.  Do you know how many actors they re-use in “Law and Order?” I do.  I can identify them within seconds, along with which versions and which episodes they starred in.  I can even recognize actors from commercials and link them to movies and TV shows.  Other than the fleeting and nerdy sense of accomplishment it gives me, this information serves no practical purpose.  If I’m lost in the woods, the crickets and raccoons and vultures are not going to be impressed that I can link Joe Piscopo and Kevin Bacon within two steps.  Since I have not managed to retain even the most basic of survival skills, I will die of exposure or dehydration or bear mauling, while deliriously reciting lines from “Ghostbusters” or any of the other movies that I have memorized in their entirety...

Then there are certain things I’d really rather not know: some of the interesting but trivial tidbits I learned in college.  Like the chemical composition of stars.  And the many fun facts I retained from Biology of Human Disease.  Tetanus, and tapeworms, and cysts, oh my!   Not stuff I really want to dwell on.  Maybe I can be on “Jeopardy!” one day.  Until then, I must endure the burden of such useless knowledge in silence.

And of course there are commercial jingles.  And elevator music.  And the different versions of secular Christmas songs I had to listen to during my short stint as a department store employee.  Do you know how many versions of “Santa Baby” there are???

 “A little bit of Rita’s all I need, a little bit of Tina’s what I see…”

Dear God, make it stop.