I spend most of my time feeling like an asshole for a variety of reasons. I said something stupid, I linked something wrong, I re-read something about a hundred times and still didn’t catch the typo. It’s so normal by now that I don’t get too upset about it anymore. It happens, I feel like an asshole, and I understand that this is just another deposit into the bank of Things I Think About Before I Go To Sleep That Sometimes Make Me Want to Die. Whatever. Last night, I felt like an asshole for turning on the air conditioning during the first week of April, but in my defense, it was 90 degrees outside and sleeping in an airless bedroom on top of a down comforter is disgusting. No, the fans don’t help. No, I don’t own flat sheets. No, I can’t open the windows because our house is surrounded by trees and the birds living in them wake up about an hour before I do and for some reason have to announce it to the world. Someone once asked me why I had to complain about birds chirping. Which could be a valid question if it were asked of someone who remembers what eight hours of sleep feels like. I don’t, so I didn’t answer. I just glared.
The AC is off at the moment because temperatures are dropping outside. I’m glad about this for my electric bill, but generally, in Midwestern spring and summer, sweltering temperatures broken by cool winds mean tornadoes. If you don’t believe me, just ask Dallas right about now.
At least I wasn’t the first person on the block to turn on the AC. Our next door neighbors have had it going for two weeks. This might be because they live in a 2-story house with a 1-year-old, or it might be that they don’t feel guilty about paying utility bills. I don’t know why I feel guilty, except I was raised Catholic so I pretty much always feel guilty and I was usually able to wait until at least late May in my old place, which was on the top floor under a flat tar roof. Of course, the windows in that place were more decoration than functional pieces of glass that kept the elements out, so my utility bills were astronomical there, anyway.
Can I just say again how much I love this place? And not just in general, but specifically how much more I love this place than my old place? Unless you’ve spent some time living in the ghetto, it’s hard to understand how great it feels to live someplace safe. It’s remarkable to be able to leave the house to take out the trash, get something out of your car, or walk a few blocks to mail a letter without worrying that you’ll be shot, robbed, or assaulted. It’s remarkable to be able to go to sleep at night without worrying that every sound is someone breaking into the basement to yank out all the copper or breaking your car window to make off with your super sweet 1997 Lumina. It’s remarkable to actually receive the packages delivered to your house because someone didn’t steal them off your porch. It’s remarkable to live in a place where people take pride in where they live, where your neighbors aren’t an endless parade of deadbeat yearlong renters, and where I can look out the windows every single day and be happy I’m here.
This is not to say that my neighborhood doesn’t have its absurdities. It’s got more money than other places I’ve lived, and for the most part, money is absurd to me. For one thing, there’s a large population of stay-at-home moms here who have time to make their own baby food and find just the right brand of organically-sourced, free trade everything yet still bathe their children in hand sanitizer if they touch anything other than their own family’s scratchy wool outergarments. Also, you should see how some of these people decorate for Halloween. It’s nuts over here, and clearly they’ve never even considered the fact that in other neighborhoods, this shit would be stolen in like a minute. Two blocks up is an art gallery with a community garden on the same lot, and just down the street is a running store. Like, a store that sells things of interest to people who run. Recreationally. Try opening that store in the ghetto. I give it one month of bad business and possibly a break-in before it becomes another pager/clothing/weave store. Think I’m exaggerating? It was at the bottom of my old block. Here, young newlyweds jog with purebred lapdogs, the kids working at the deli still act like they’ve never seen girls with large tattoos, and the neighborhood Operation Brightside captain introduces herself to you at the dumpster within a week of you moving in to make sure you understand all about the single stream recycling containers. Yes, Carol, we know.
Is this what suburbia feels like? A sense of security cosseted in harmless weirdery? If so, then suburbia might not be that bad. Or it could be like that episode of The X-Files where the Neighborhood Association was governed by a demon who would devour anyone who broke the rules.
And speaking of The X-Files, when I was a kid I saw this one episode where Mulder and Scully found this guy dead in a bathroom stall. Because of the way the blood vessels in one of his eyes had burst, Scully concluded that he died of a stroke while taking particularly difficult dump. Ever since then, I’m always careful not to push too hard because next to an accident of a sexual nature, dying from taking a dump has to be one of the most embarrassing ways to go.