Little L received her first parking ticket last Friday.
After a tiring week, finding the parking violation made my evening.
Right away I texted Dana and Jon to see if they were the traffic enforcers. They don’t live on our floor of the building, but perhaps they had been up here for humor’s sake?
“I wish! That’s hilarious!” Jon responded.
“I wish we could claim that!” Dana chimed in.
I asked some neighbors on the floor – including a new couple who moved in with a baby – and they weren’t able to claim the joke either.
I was thinking maybe it was Maria, but then she left me a note about the new composting program. The handwriting samples didn’t match.
What about the note leaver from the Sunday Morning Scandal? They also don’t have reason to be patrolling our floor, but if it was them, at least Little L hadn’t left her half-eaten pizza in the hall that evening.
I’ve stopped asking around, because I kind of like that it’s a mystery.
It’s comforting knowing that there is someone hilarious lurking amongst us.
Anyone who has spent a toasty summer day with me knows that I don’t take the heat very well.
“Are you hot?” Axel asks me on the way home from the Farmer’s Market as I snap at him for walking too slow.
There was a lot of heat-induced crabbiness during the four-day stint this summer when the A/C went out in our condo building.
Because the layout of the condo doesn’t allow for great airflow and because we don’t have window unit A/Cs installed, it was hard to get the temperature inside to lower than 80 degrees. Thank goodness I was able to borrow two fans from my brother and Silvie.
For some reason, the air conditioning was working in the hall. So we propped our heavy front door open with my pastel pink flip-flop, which, ironically, was a gift from Silvie many years ago. Silvie was really winning at keeping our condo cool-ish.
Other neighbors followed suit – using granite paperweights or heavy plants. Bonus! You could walk by and see what was going on inside someone’s home (if you walked slowly enough)!
Little L enjoyed it too. She takes after me in the people-watching department; we recently had a dinner where she rubber-necked to see three girls and their parents sitting behind us so much so that I considered just turning her high chair to face them so that she wouldn’t strain her neck.
From her high chair perch at the kitchen counter, Little L had the clearest view to the hall; I was more than a little jealous. She jerked her head every time she heard a noise. Sadly I found her reports about the hallway happenings incomprehensible.
On one particularly warm afternoon, Little L and I met up with our neighbor-friend Jon in the hallway and his two dogs. Soon we were greeted by a neighbor Maria and another neighbor Shelly and then Barb joined us too! “It’s like we’re in a dorm at summer camp,” Maria observed. I brought Little L’s toys out into the hall. We got invited in to Kelly & Glenda’s apartment and met their “mew-mew” (that’s kitty-cat to all you adults; meow, meow, get it?).
I remember the days when I carefully avoided neighbors; I didn’t have time between feedings and naps to socialize. But now we have the time, and Little L and I don’t mind a little interaction with others during my summer break. We always have an excuse to cut the interaction short – dinnertime! nap time! lunch time! and the ultimate, bed time! – so we know we’ll never stay out too long.
But sadly, since that fateful day when I returned home and noticed that Maria’s door was no longer being held open by her ficus tree and the A/C was back on (goodbye sleeping in the 80 degree heat, hello no neighbors to gawk at!), there aren’t many neighbors congregating in the hallways.
That’s not stopping Little L, though. Now she points to our front door. She wants us to go out there; she remembers the good times we had. She also wants to eat the pink flip-flop that has returned to its home in the closet.
We head down to the lobby. I reason that at least half of the neighbors in our building have dogs, and deh-dehs, like kids, need to go out.
“Woah! Pizza!” Axel said, spotting a Pizza Luce box in the lobby as we headed out for our 7:15AM walk with Little L.
He carefully opened the lid – half an uneaten pizza!
Since it wasn’t vegetarian, we didn’t have to decide how gross it would be to take a piece.
When we returned an hour later – okay, half an hour; let’s be real – a man got off the elevator and speedwalked towards the pizza. He hesitated just a split second, then he taped a piece of paper to the box and turned back towards the elevators.
He saw us see him.
“Hey, Axel, let’s check the mail,” I said, so that we wouldn’t be expected to board the elevator with Note Man. We definitely needed to see what was on that piece of paper.
Turns out, he probably didn’t care. He had signed his name to the note!
My question is: did he expend more energy going upstairs, writing the note, coming back downstairs, and taping it to the box than he would have, say, pitching in and throwing the box out himself?
I had considered throwing the box out, but now that the note had been placed, I couldn’t interrupt the social experiment.
Upstairs, I realized my photos hadn’t taken. So I went back downstairs, looked around quickly to make sure I was alone, and snapped these.
Axel asked me the name on the box. I couldn’t remember.
This time Axel went back down and discovered that the Pizza Lover lives on the same floor as our friends Jon and Dana.
I texted them immediately to ask if they know Pizza Lover.
“Was he the guy who left that box of pizza downstairs?” Dana responded. “Was there any left?”
You can see why we are friends.
When we went downstairs to get our Instacart order around 11AM, the pizza box was no longer there.
“They should put it in front of his door,” Dana said. “He probably slept through the whole thing.”
The next day as we were getting on the elevator, the Note Man was getting off. “Hello!” he said with a friendly wave. “How are you today?”
This is the most he’s ever said to me.
Perhaps he’s gotten some pushback for his note and he’s trying to up his approval rating?
Or maybe his friendliness is to call our bluff… I mean, who really needs to check their mail at 8AM on a Sunday?
Either way, it was an exciting day.
Next Saturday night I’ll set my alarm for midnight and wander downstairs to see if there’s any pizza sitting around.
On Super Bowl Sunday I showered and ventured out – as far as I would likely go for the rest of the day. I was headed to the recycling bins in the parking garage.
If it had been trash, I wouldn’t have had to go further than the trash shoot down the hall. But alas.
Boarding the elevator, I looked down at myself and laughed. It had been only a few days since I had emerged from the bathroom at school and walked into the Staff Lounge. A group of younger teachers were eating their lunch and discussing things of interest – i.e. not diapers.
“What’s so funny?” one of them asked me.
I had just seen myself in the bathroom mirror. “I mean, LOOK AT ME!” I gestured to myself, particularly to my head.
They all burst out laughing.
My hair was in a bun so high it might have hit the ceiling. There were at least three pens and mechanical pencils adorning the unkempt poof of snarls.
“The thing is, I don’t think they noticed until I pointed it out, because I probably ALWAYS look like that!” I told my husband later.
Another day, I set out for a walk with Little L only to discover that on this almost spring-like day, I was wearing two scarves. Maybe Little L’s “ha-da!”s as we were getting ready were not a sign of excitement about getting outside given our Condo Fever, but a warning cry about my fashion blunder.
I guess it’s not too early to start embarrassing her.
Back to the elevator. I noticed that, although my hair was clean, it was again up in one of those “I didn’t look in the mirror when I did this” styles.
Worse, my new cute black hoodie was full of carrots, peas, and bodily functions. Not my own, I promise.
“I hope no one gets on,” I thought to myself as the doors closed and my descent began.
And then on Floor 3, the elevator stopped. Some Guy got on.
Some Guy and I greeted each other. He too was carrying recycling, but looking much more put together than I was for a Super Bowl Sunday afternoon. Maybe he would even be leaving his apartment again later that day – a hot date with the mailroom perhaps!?
Since Some Guy and I were clearly headed to the same spot and since I had gotten on first, I wondered – will he let me exit first?
It was Little L’s nap time and Axel and I were both in a rush to get as much done as we could.
The elevator door opened.
Some Guy did not hesitate. He slipped out the door.
I judged him for it. Silently.
But then – but then! – he veered from the path to the door to hit the automatic opener switch. Because both of his hands were full with recycling.
What did I do?
I wish I could say I waited gallantly, since, well, two don’t have to play this game.
I slipped through the door, conveniently open now. I walked quickly towards the recycling room. I opened the door and propped it open with the doorstop.
I made eye contact, not sure what was going to happen.
“You go ahead,” he said. “I’ll wait.”
We would have both fit in there at the same time, but I went ahead anyway. Within 10 seconds I had exited the Recycling Room, was headed back to the elevators, and was on my way upstairs.
Some Guy would have to catch the next elevator up.
Did I feel bad about my behavior?
But I like to think he understood why I was trying so urgently to get back to the safety of my own apartment.
One day this fall, Axel, Little L and I were walking through the park to discover it was closed for an event—
Or was it?
You had to admire the ingenuity of the folks who put the sign up. Some people probably stayed away from their game of frisbee just because they said so.
Then in South Minneapolis, looking for parking, we spotted this.
And as we parked the car, we actually tried not to block the walkway.
“Who are these people to make their own signs?” I wondered, somewhat indignantly.
And then I remembered that on the day Axel and I got married, my friend Hermione, who was key in planning the event, insisted that we have a parking meter reserved for us near the ceremony site. The Parks Board people told her they couldn’t do that.
So she did it herself. With a handmade sign and some balloons, she reserved a meter for us, and it worked.
Maybe there’s something to this.
I’m thinking of all the signs I could make in my everyday life.
Those of you who know me – and especially those who have worked with me – know that I don’t like my time being wasted.
Motherhood has exacerbated this. Except now I’m not trying to hurry up and get my errands done so that I can spend my evening luxuriating on the couch in the glow of The Mindy Project.
I’m just trying to get out for a walk with Little L so that I can see the light of day and still be back in time for her next feeding. It’s 4PM, and I haven’t yet made it out.
A friend told me when he was home with his son, he tried to do something fun everyday.
I’m just trying to do something every day.
I think Fun-a-Day was when his son was older. At least that’s what I tell myself.
There’s not a lot of time between feedings. If we are going to leave the premises, I can’t hesitate.
There’s an open half hour? Let’s go. Right now. To the stroller, I think, in the same way that Batman said, “To the Bat-mobile!” Little L is my Robin and we have to fire up the engine.
Our outings might take us to the park or if we’re really lucky, to my favorite café. Those are pretty much our only destinations.
So what happens when I run into neighbors in the elevator? Yup, I’ve been taking the elevator — not sure how to walk the stroller down the steps yet.
The neighbors are transfixed by Little L. I can’t blame them!
But I also can’t spend more than 30-60 seconds talking with them. Because at that point, I am wasting 1/10 of our walking time.
I feel stingy – stingier than I’ve ever felt – about my time. It took me over a month to take Little L over to meet the condo managers, who see us through the window every time we go out for a walk. But when we leave, we have to hurry to get the walk in, and when we return, we have to hurry home to feeding time.
So if I’ve been rude, or smiled and covered Little L up in her canopy so that you can’t comment on her, I apologize.
It’s nothing personal. I just don’t have the time.
Now that Little L’s a little older, the routines aren’t quite as rigid, but with time being of the essence, I didn’t get around to posting this until now.
On a few occasions I’ve actually found myself with unexpected time while Little L takes a long nap. Of course, when she dozed off, she didn’t give me a heads-up that she’d be taking an extended slumber, so I had no idea.
In this case, I had unexpected time!
I love hanging out with Little L, and I also enjoy these extended periods where I can get things done around the house. It’s worth tiptoeing around and making visitors whisper.
They might not think so; especially since they’re probably hoping for a Little L sighting. But my teacher skills will remind you to use your inside whisper voice, should you forget.
Little L’s awake now, so I gotta go. Maybe we’ll make it out today; maybe not.
Leaving James and Jed’s small gathering (we had made it there! before it ended! With everyone clothed and Little L fed!) turned out to be a bit more involved than we had planned.
Walking through the lobby of their loft, a small black object flew near us.
At first I assumed it was a bird, which I found scary enough.
The three people in the lobby, one of whom was holding the front door open – I assume to usher the flying creature out – were guests of the same gathering we had just come from.
“Is that a bird or a bat?” Axel asked, pushing Little L in her stroller. Luckily she was already covered; double canopies making her virtually untouchable to the–
“It’s a bat,” the party-goer said.
The bat flew back in my direction. The skirt I was wearing didn’t deter me from dropping to the floor in a squat and covering my head with my hands.
Yup. We practice tornado drills at school. I guess that’s what came naturally?
I’m glad that Axel had Little L. I may have been too terrified to save her.
“Let’s just go,” Amelia Naomi, my childhood friend, said. She, her husband, and their toddler had taken the elevator down with us.
We rushed towards the door, which one of the Brave Party-Goers was holding open.
The bat circled in the lobby above us. Luckily the loft has tall ceilings, so it soared far above even our tall heads.
When we made it out, I swear I wasn’t the only who breathed a sigh of relief.
“I’m glad we had Little L covered!” I said.
Axel chimed in, “I checked her right away. The last thing we need is a bat attacking her.”
“When I was a baby,” Amelia Naomi said, “there was a bat in my parents’ house. My mom said she took me out to the front lawn and told my dad she wasn’t going back in the house until the bat was gone. She didn’t care if it was a weekend and it was going to cost $700; she wasn’t taking the baby inside with a bat.”
“Smart woman,” I remarked.
The whole Bat Attack – am I blowing it out of proportion here? Perhaps a fairer name is Bat Intrusion – reminded me of a summer night when I was in high school. My mom’s yells from downstairs awakened me. Over the roar of my box fan, I heard her screaming.
“There’s a MAN in the house!?” I yelled back. I looked at my white princess-style telephone; I was so happy that I was allowed to have a phone jack installed in my room. Now I would use this modern landline to call for help.
“No, a BAT!” she yelled back up the stairs.
That was better.
My mom and I, being the only ones home on this summer night, spent an hour hiding in the bathroom with a towel wedged under the door until we fled the house to the front yard.
I don’t remember how the bats – turned out there were two – exited the house, but I do remember ribbons hanging from the roof for the next few months or years in an effort to keep additional unwanted intruders away.
On this summer evening exiting James and Jed’s loft, I was just happy that the bat didn’t touch Little L.
A couple nights later, when Axel came to bed after doing Little L’s late night feed, he alerted me, “There’s a moth trapped in the front bathroom, so I left the door closed. Don’t let it out.”
Around 3AM, when I was taking my turn feeding Little L, I went to use the guest bathroom. Seeing the door closed reminded me of the moth. I was apprehensive; I’ve been scared by moths before.
Are they that different than bats?
Luckily the moth didn’t show itself. I even forgot about it.
And forgot to close the door behind me when I exited…
Later that day, Axel found the moth in the front hall and captured it in a cup.
“It’s huge!” I said, slightly panicked. I had been in a closed bathroom with that creature?
We let it go off the balcony.
I’m hoping not to spot any more flying critters inside for awhile.
“You might just want to leave,” the waitress said. “Your order hasn’t even been put in the system.”
Axel, James, Jed, and I looked at each other. After sitting here for over an hour, our order wasn’t even official?
“How long are we talking?” Axel asked. “30 or 40 minutes?”
“A lot longer,” she said, looking defeated. Her eyes begged us to just go. “I’ll close up your tab and take care of it. This half of the restaurant hasn’t even had their food started. You should really go.”
I looked down at my cup of coffee. I should have ordered something more expensive.
I hadn’t even gotten any refills.
I guess that’s what happens when your waitress quits halfway through brunch.
About ten minutes before, the hostess had approached our table. “I’m so sorry for the wait,” she’d said. “But your waitress quit.”
We looked at each other.
“Two of the cooks quit too,” the she followed up with.
This last part actually made sense. Not long before, James had relayed what he’d seen from his vantage point. Jed and Axel had seen it too. Sadly, I had missed it.
Makes you wonder if I’m just not that observant.
“A guy walked out of the kitchen, punched something furiously into the computer, and left!” James told us.
Now that we had more details, he concocted a timeline of events.
“Our waitress was probably dating the cook. So she quit when he quit,” James explained.
“And what about the second cook?” Jed asked.
“Oh, he was just mad that the restaurant was so understaffed. So he quit too.”
“Can I offer you a free cookie?” the hostess approached our table.
You better offer us a few free cookies, I thought.
As she walked away, we reflected on the events of the brunch. We started out with only three chairs for the four of us.
Perhaps it had been an omen.
Jed was lucky he didn’t have to sit at the counter five feet away.
Now we had three cookies for the four of us.
With the waitress encouraging us – ordering us!? – to leave, we had no other choice.
We walked across the street and bought sandwiches, which we took back to our condo and ate on the roof.
But like when you get interrupted before you finish telling your story, I had that sensation of, “I want to finish what I started.”
The next week, when I met my friend Alissa for coffee, I insisted we return to the site of the foodless breakfast. I didn’t tell her the story until we arrived; I realized it might not be a selling point for the restaurant.
And what did I order?
The exact same thing I’d failed to eat the weekend before.
Only this time, I got my food.
But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the drama.
The call box rang. “It’s Craig with Instacart,” he said.
“Oh, thanks! You can just leave it right there. We’ll come get it soon.”
Usually they don’t even call. They just text that they dropped it off — a bonus of Instacart for us introverts.
Thank goodness for Insta, as I like to call it. They came to our zip code a few months ago. Previously it had been available across the street from us in the next zip code over, but not on our side of the block.
I’ve barely been to the grocery store since. In fact, I even removed the weekly event from my calendar. I replaced it with a reminder that says, “Order Insta! And give thanks!”
On this Sunday, we needed some paper towels, which called for a Target Instacart. I had also been craving some Chex Mix.
We had to order other items, of course, to get to the $35 free delivery minimum, but this was no problem. Toilet paper was in dire straits as was floss.
Little L asked for some wet wipes too.
Axel waited a couple minutes to make sure Craig had cleared out, then went down, grabbed the order, and started unpacking it.
Spotting an unfamiliar object on the dining room table, I asked, “Did you add these to the order?”
There may have even been some judgment in my voice, if you want to reread that last line with accurate tone.
Axel looked at the four huge lint remover refills. “No. I assumed you did.”
“Want to see if you can contact our shopper?”
Sadly the Instacart chat was unavailable and I couldn’t ask Craig to come back and retrieve the errant item. He was lucky I’d already rated him, because bringing unwanted stuff might be enough to leave off a star — or a Punch, if you will.
“You use those,” Axel said.
“But I already have a ton.” I’ve been drowning in travel lint removers for years. Maybe I should get a dog.
When I tried to pawn these off on my brother’s girlfriend, she expressed a similar sentiment. “I made a mistake of buying a multipack a few years ago. I still have so many.”
Then, at the bottom of the Target bag, I spotted another uninvited item.
This one, however, wasn’t as offensive.
In fact, we could have used some soap, and I’d forgotten to add it. Look what Craig had gifted us: yummy-smelling lavender body wash.
Lavender is my favorite scent!
Every time I step in the shower now, the body wash brings me joy.
Marie Kondo would approve.
And every time I see the lint removers in the laundry room, they bring me anti-joy.
Imagine Marie Kondo scowling.
I wonder who was more upset about the 280 misplaced lint removing sheets – the person who didn’t receive what they had legitimately ordered, or me.
But I forgive Craig, because he brought everything else on the Target list, and he delivered it right to my home.
Plus, maybe next time I order something, I’ll leave the lint removers downstairs with a note that says, “Please return me.”