Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. I mean, what’s not to like about free candy and having an actual reason for peeing your pants in public. I have always decorated indoors, but since we are rarely home on Halloween night, we have not done much decorating outdoors in the past. I changed all that this year and decided to buy as much spooky décor for the outdoors as I could get my grubby little mitts on. For the last month I have been slowly turning our yard into a mess of zombies, witches and bones of all kinds. It’s hard to walk to our front door without being harassed by an animated doll or wolf.
Before going all out on the decorations, I talked to a few of the neighbors who have young kids. The people across the street assured me that they loved scary decorations and their kids weren’t afraid of any of it. Since their 5 year old told me there was no such thing as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny within an hour of meeting me last year, I figured they would be cool with a few screaming witches and howling wolves. As I watched them hang up their decorations in their own yard I quickly realized that “scary” is a pretty subjective term. It was clear that their idea of terrifying was a fuzzy spider, not a glowing eyeless doll head. The little boy has cried at least three times after our life sized witch asked him for a kiss and offered him candy. I guess at least I can say I asked them before I put it out. The mom informed me that the kids keep looking out their window at night at all of our floating heads and glowing eyes, afraid they are coming to get them. I told her just to tell them they aren’t real. I left out the part about how she already ruined Easter and Christmas for them with that line, she may as well turn another holiday into a giant dumpster fire.
The rest of the neighborhood seems to be enjoying the decorations. Almost daily I hear the grim reaper and witch screaming out to kids on the front porch and I have come out a few times to find a child crammed up under the witches dress trying to figure out what makes her tick. I even caught the UPS guy laughing at some of the one liners coming from the grim reaper. I suppose you see and hear everything when dropping off running shoes and tampons on suburban porches. I am guessing by the time Halloween actually rolls around, most of our visitors will have already heard plenty from all the animated ghouls posted in our yard.
My most recent purchase was a couple of howling wolf skeletons and barking dogs. As soon as I came home from the store I set the bones up in my flower beds and listened to them howl as the kids ran in front of them. I next heard the same howling and barking at 6 am the next day when it started raining. The screaming beasts actually managed to wake the dead, since that’s about as heavy as I sleep. I had to run out in the rain in a tank top and pajama pants to pry open their mouths and find the switches to shut them up. By the time I was done, I had a giant mound of plastic and cobwebs screaming and barking at my on the porch. If the glowing red eyes from the zombies didn’t traumatize the kids across the street, the sight of me beating up a bunch of bones at the crack of dawn surely did.
During the past month as I have been purchasing an entire gang of life sized decorations and their once furry friends, I failed to think about the future (as I often do). My basement is already packed to the gills with other holiday decorations and I have at least 5 orange and black storage bins of indoor décor to contend with. I’m fairly certain that at the end of the year we are either going to have to buy a bigger house or rent a storage unit. We already have one skeleton that stays out year round. I put festive hats on her for different seasons so I don’t appear completely insane. One house skeleton makes you quirky, a yard full of skeletons and witches year round makes you bat shit crazy. So at some point before the lights go from orange to green and red, I am going to have to find a home for all these beasts. I don’t know how the rest of my family feels about taking a shower with a talking witch, but the idea is growing on me. Either that we are going to have a receiving line in the foyer to ensure we never have house guests. That kind of seems like a win to me!
And in true Logan fashion, I just learned that we are not in fact going to be home on Halloween night. I guess I will totally deserve it when the first kid on the porch dumps the entire bowl of candy into his bag and eggs our front door. Hopefully the screaming grim reaper at least makes him wet his pants on the way out.
**Halloween is the best time of year to listen to the Misfits. Just sayin!
I’m beginning to think my phone number has made the rounds at an online pirating convention because I have been getting scam calls up the yin yang. I get a call a day from Amazon making sure I meant to make a purchase on my account (which I do not have). I do have to say, when having a stressful day, messing with some asshole trying to steal people’s credit card information is a perfect remedy. My conversation today went a little like this:
“This is Amazon verifying your purchase of $399.89. If you did not make this purchase, you can speak to an Amazon customer service manager by pressing 1.” And you better believe I pressed 1. So forcefully, in fact that I almost threw my phone across the room in the process.
Asshole: Thank you for choosing to speak to customer service today. This is Jerry. How may I help you?
Me: I’m not sure. You called me about a purchase.
Asshole: Yes ma’am. A purchase was made today using your Amazon account. Did you purchase an iPhone 11 for $399.89?
Me: Oh no. I didn’t. What do I do?
Asshole: Well ma’am, unfortunately the parcel has already been sent out so you will need to fill out a form to cancel the charge on your account. You can fill out the form online. Are you near a computer?
Asshole: Okay, now you are on Google Chrome correct?
Me: How did you know that? Are you in my computer?
Asshole: No ma’am. No. Most computers have Google Chrome. So you can go to the search bar at the top, the white bar and type in U as in unicorn, L as in lima….. (and several more letters that I didn’t listen to, but I did hear ice cream at one point). Now, can you repeat what you typed in?
Me: Oh, I wasn’t typing. I thought you wanted me to write it down. Can you repeat that?
Asshole: Yes ma’am. U as in unicorn, L as in lima…
Me: Wait, did you say lima? Do you mean lemur? You didn’t send me lemurs instead of puppies did you? I ordered a box of puppies. That’s what I ordered from Amazon, not an iPhone.
Asshole: What are you talking about puppies? No ma’am. There are no puppies. Can you tell me the address you typed?
Me: I didn’t type anything. I was writing. Where am I supposed to be typing?
Asshole: On your keyboard ma’am.
Me: Oh, my keyboard… you want to hear me play on the keyboard. Hold on.
I then proceeded to bash on the piano for a full minute at which point my daughter started yelling from the other room wondering what the noise was.
Me: What do you think?
Asshole: Ma’am, what are you doing? Are you at your keyboard. I need you to type the address.
Me: I was at my keyboard. Did you like my playing? So, you said the parcel went out. Where are my puppies? Do you have my puppies? You better not have my puppies.
Asshole: Ma’am (now with a raised voice), I don’t know anything about any puppies. But I am going to need you to type the address on your computer to fill out the form. Are you at your computer?
I was not at my computer. I was actually trying to free my leg from my cat’s jaw as he chomped on my achilles tendon. I think he heard me talking about receiving a box of puppies and was feeling insecure and angry. Or my piano playing really set him off. It’s hard to tell.
Me: No. I’m at my keyboard. But I’m going to need that address again. I couldn’t understand you.
Asshole: Ma’am, you need to be at your computer. Do you have a keyboard?
Me: Do they send you to special scammer training to learn how to deal with difficult calls? I mean in Bangladesh or wherever you are, do they teach you special skills to rip off little old ladies and get them to give you their credit card information?
Asshole: (finally catching on that I was being a dick) No, in Pakistan. We go to the Technological Institute.
Me: You must be really pathetic to do this for money. I bet your mom is super proud of you.
Apparently I hit a nerve because he got agitated at this point. He said something about hiding it from his mom and hung up on me shortly thereafter.
So, you’re welcome to whoever was next on the call list. I spent 15 minutes of this scumbag’s time and reduced my stress by at least 50%.
I should have just played this over the phone…
I have become the neighborhood crazy lady. It seems like since I left my 9 to 5 and started working from home that I have become increasingly more aware of my neighbors, and what they are doing. Until about a year ago we already had a neighborhood busy body but she moved away, apparently leaving the position open for me. I am now acutely aware of my neighbors’ coming and goings, as well as all of their bad habits. They should all be grateful that I am not on the homeowner’s association board. More accurately, they should be thanking sweet baby Jesus that I have not yet convinced my husband to doctor me up some official looking neighborhood watch letterhead. I would be sending one line letters daily with comments such as “hey asshole, vegetable gardens are for the backyard, not next to your front porch!” and “maybe you are unaware that they picked up your garbage on Monday, so there is no need for your recycling bin to be at the curb on Friday, but great job saving the planet!” But seriously, nobody wants to see tomato plants and cucumber vines growing all over their neighbor’s front porch.
My latest obsession has been our neighbor who has no clue where his property line is located. In fairness, our lawn company did cut half of his grass last summer, mostly because they came on Tuesday after the neighbor had already spent all weekend cutting half of his grass, so they followed the line he made. When fall rolled around, he raked about 10 feet of his substantial property and called it a day. I raked up to our property line and left his leaves for a week until the forecast called for snow. I was concerned the plows would come through and push all of his leaves in the street into our driveway so I raked them all up to the curb where they still sit four months later. And now there is snow…
When our previous neighbors still occupied the house next door, we took turns snow blowing the sidewalk. Whoever saw the snow first was “it” and took care of the sidewalk between the houses. We tried this when our new neighbors moved in several years ago but they apparently didn’t understand the game. At the time I was doing a lot of the snow blowing since my husband was working crazy long hours. The first few times it snowed, I cleared a path between our driveway and theirs. Apparently the neighbor interpreted this gesture as me claiming the job of clearing his sidewalk for all of eternity, because when he does his snow removal first, he avoids our house like the plague. He hasn’t stepped more than 10′ away from his driveway with a shovel.
Clearly, our neighbor is both unclear and unconcerned about where his property is and what he needs to do about it. The worst part is that every year, the arbitrary property line seems to move. The good news is we are gaining more property, the bad news is it’s not really ours, we just maintain it. After I watched a giant mound of leaves sit and gather snow for months I had finally had enough. When my husband went out to shovel after the first substantial snowfall, I followed him and told him exactly where to stop. I had done a little research (and measuring) and knew exactly where our property line was. The next day I looked outside to see that our neighbor had shoveled most of his property but left a 20′ piece of sidewalk uncleared. He was apparently throwing down the gauntlet. We had both shoveled at least a half dozen times so far and the large section of sidewalk remained covered. I know it was killing my husband to leave it be, but the more we give, the more they take. Pretty soon we will be taking care of their whole yard.
I have thought of a dozen ways to make this situation worse, but not one that would actually encourage the neighbor to just shovel his damn sidewalk. At this point, I am thinking I should either put some crime scene tape around the patch of sidewalk or build a snowman or ski jump right in the middle of it. At least the kids could get some use out of it that way. A few days ago my daughter was going to go over and ask the neighbor to play and my husband said “I don’t know…can you get through the sidewalk there?” half mocking me. And then last night over a foot of snow dropped on us. This morning my husband went out to snow blow and I watched him walk all the way over to the neighbor’s driveway, clearing the entire sidewalk between our houses. I wanted to tell him that our neighbor would now consider this our job, but I know he wouldn’t really care. He is the one who keeps watching the rest of the neighborhood try to traverse the giant mound of snow with their dogs and small children. Unfortunately, I think I now need to call my landscapers back to get a quote for cutting two lawns this spring.
*I wrote this while trying to drown out my daughter making Instagram reels and listening to my boyfriend (Mr. Henry Rollins).
The best part about this pandemic has been watching people try to use technology when they have no idea what they are doing. Last spring, I laughed watching a bunch of third grade kids do things like wander into the bathroom while holding their tablets or walking off in the middle of a zoom meeting because they forgot what they were doing. That was understandable, and I have to say, all of the kids who have had to navigate using technology over the last six months are going to be better for it and more skilled teenagers. Adults are a whole different story.
I am in graduate school with a bunch of people who can’t figure out zoom. Sure, everyone quickly figured out how to turn their camera off so nobody could see they were lounging around with no pants on. Unfortunately, many of the same people could not locate the mute button. In one class, 25 students were muted and one was not. The one who was not muted had an entire conversation with her boyfriend about what to get her mom for her birthday and about how she somehow got makeup all over herself while the other 25 called her out in the chat area to shut up. There has been at least one incident like this per month. I even have a professor who kept using his personal account to open zoom calls so the entire class got kicked off after a half hour. It took him a full three sessions to figure it out and half that class still can’t log in to his new link.
But by far, the best people to observe on zoom calls are older retired people who are not adept at technology but think they are. I do a lot of volunteer work, so I am often surrounded by older people trying to be helpful. One of the organizations I volunteer for provides tutoring services for elementary aged kids. Since the pandemic, we have gone online. The kids are pretty skilled at zoom and the various platforms they are using for their schoolwork. The volunteers are great at tutoring, but are lost when it comes to technology. Luckily, a bunch of college kids were recruited this fall and have been able to help out. Unfortunately, many of the volunteers who are lost online have no idea they are lost online. I knew one woman in particular was going to be a problem when we had our tutor orientation and she was confused when people were explaining how to use some of the zoom features. When people told her to click on a dropdown menu she couldn’t find it. She didn’t even understand what we meant when we told her to click something. She finally said “I don’t have a mouse. I have a tablet!” to which most of us just threw our hands up. We were trying to show her how to get the drawing feature. I finally said “Put your finger on the screen and move it.” It was similar to teaching a caveman how to use tools if the tools were made of play-doh.
After the orientation, a second orientation was scheduled to get the half dozen elderlies comfortable using their devices. Apparently, even after the second session, this woman still didn’t get it. Tutoring has been going on for a month now and she still has no idea what she is doing and rarely even makes it into the breakout rooms when the host sends her there. She spent the first 15 minutes of the last session talking to her husband about how she couldn’t sign in to zoom. She didn’t realize she was signed in and we were all watching her as she peered at her screen barking “I don’t know where it went Stan. It’s normally right here! There is no picture.” She must have been continually touching the unmute button on her screen as she poked at it since the host continued to mute her every 30 seconds the entire time.
Virtual learning has certainly been an education for everyone. All I know is next time I am having a computer problem, I am calling my kid to help instead of my husband. And, I am thinking maybe this tutoring program I am part of should make the tutoring reciprocal. First the kids can help the old folks figure out how to use their computers and tablets and then we can teach them how to do math the correct way!
**One thing I know how to do with a computer is find music. I’m listening to some new material these days.
They need some form of parental warning on television that reads “Warning – may induce uncomfortable conversations.” Forget about sex, violence and swearing, I need a warning to leave the room before a subject like puberty comes up. My child has asked me about the female anatomy more than I cared to discuss in the past week.
The first time she was watching The Babysitters Club. In one episode the girls talk relentlessly about getting their periods. When my daughter asked me what that meant I told her we’ll talk about it next year but it’s something that happens to all girls and she doesn’t need to worry about it at the moment. Luckily when one of the characters mentioned that a sculpture she created was themed menstruation it went right over her 9 year old head. Thank sweet baby Jesus the sculpture wasn’t actually constructed out of tampons and maxi pads. She was later watching a show with teenage girls where they discussed underarm hair. I found my kid with her head shoved into her pits an hour later. She has already asked me when she can start shaving her legs after she noticed she has more leg hair than the boys in the neighborhood.
YouTube can be problematic because there are a lot of channels with a variety of content, so it’s hard to keep track of what is appropriate. Even when she searches for “water fails” or “funny videos” sometimes she gets videos with people dropping F-bombs. One would think after spending the last nine years as a passenger in my car, cursing wouldn’t affect her, but she reacts to swear words like she is being physically assaulted in the ear. She hears someone yell “oh shit” as they fall off a trampoline and she immediately changes the channel. I am left wondering if “oh shit” actually happened or if they bounced right back.
I have banned more “kid friendly” channels than I can name. She used to love watching this baking lady named Rosanna until she went and changed her face to look like a Kardashian. When a little girl says “why did she make her face look like that?” you may have a problem. I had to have a chat with my kid about the sad and stupid reasons people get plastic surgery. Watching this “entertainer” has led to conversations about how many women play dumb to get more viewers and how she probably spends more time in hair and makeup than actually filming. It’s annoying that every time I turn on YouTube I feel compelled to explain to my daughter how pathetic people are and why it’s scary to me that half of the kids her age want to become internet stars. I would rather talk about menstruation!
An uncomfortable conversation warning would have been most helpful this morning when my daughter was scanning through channels like a remote control ninja. She was watching 30 seconds of the scariest amusement parks then 20 seconds of a Harley Quinn makeup tutorial when she stumbled upon a video about the most shocking people in the world. Of course she had to see the video when the cover shot was of conjoined twins. The video started with “Meet Sarah, the woman who has up to 1,000 orgasms a day!” Thanks YouTube. My daughter immediately turned to me and said “Mom, what’s an orgasm?” and it took every ounce of my being not to make some joke like “a myth according to most men” or “something your sex ed teacher will tell you is unnecessary.” If my brain was not currently melting from the question, I could have responded with something like “I think they said organism honey” and gone into a detailed explanation. Instead I blurted “this is kind of adult content. Let’s watch something else” and hoped she didn’t notice that I was about to pass out. Now I am searching her school’s website to determine when she will have a sex education class in school.
I pretty much ignore ratings on television and the internet so a warning probably wouldn’t help me anyway. I allow my child to watch a lot of content that would not be deemed suitable by those placing warnings all over the internet, but I also don’t plop her in front a screen unattended. We have countless conversations about fairly heavy topics and she asks questions like “why are most of the parents in movies divorced?” These are questions I am equipped to answer. Why Sarah is ultra-orgasmic is not a topic I am ready to tackle just yet. YouTube has a rating system that covers violence, nudity, drug use and even strobe lights. What they really need is a warning that states “Content may cause your child to ask when she will grow pubic hair or what a dominatrix does.” That would be helpful. It would have been REALLY helpful yesterday.
**I wrote this while listening to the very first lyrics I had to explain to my kid. Thanks Glenn Danzig.