That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore

PHOTO_20131024_135307-picsayThe image you see to the left is how the front yard of our house, the one we’ve lived in since 2004, starts to look as the leaves begin to fall from the sweet gum tree situated in the parkway. It’s a big tree on city property that yields shade in the Summer and as is obvious, requires a little maintenance in Fall.

This is not the worst the front yard has looked, though. Over the years the tree has dropped enough leaves for Anthony to play in a pile of them which makes for a fantastic backdrop but a few years ago, that problem was solved when the city decided to trim the tree down a bit. The leaves you see are just about all we get now.

Yet someone still complains.

You know the person because every neighborhood has one: the resident who has been there the longest and knows everything there is to know about everyone who ever set foot on the sidewalks. The resident who lives on gossip, is always right, and whose grandkids are much more superior than your kids in every category.

Yes, that one. In this case and for obvious reasons, we’ll call her Mrs. Kravitz.


When we first moved into our place (formerly the home of Ann’s grandfather), we had already known Mrs. Kravitz and a little about her tendencies to gossip as well as her nosiness. Once we were settled and raking up the leaves on the front yard became my normal weekend activity, Mrs. Kravitz dutifully reminded me of how Ann’s grandfather would rake them up every day and make sure there were no leaves left behind.

Fine and well. He was also retired and had little to do outside of dining out every meal of the day.

(An aside: because of her gossipy ways, I tend not to speak with her nor give her information. She once saw me and Anthony in the store after I had taken him to the doctor. She asked why he wasn’t in school and my simple response was, “He’s sick.” She needs to know nothing else.)

She also liked to point out, while smirking, that leaves would swirl around in the wind and often land on her yard, or how they would just be over there in general. Mrs. Kravitz suddenly labeled the leaves of the sweet gum tree “your leaves” and she would remind me every time she saw me with that same smirk and goofy slack-jawed expression when she first noticed them falling.

That was in 2004. Over the years, Mrs. Kravitz still went out of her way to tell me that my leaves were falling on her yard. It’s not like it was a total surprise since it happens each Fall and my God, the woman has lived here longer than the tree. But as 2004 turned into 2005, 2006, etc., the joke had definitely run its course.

I remember one time a few years ago. I had just pulled up in front of the house after a long day at work and before I could set foot on the ground, Mrs. Kravitz who was watering her grass told me, with that same smirk on her mug, that “your leaves” were on her yard.

“You have a rake, don’t you? Clean them up.” That was about all I said as I went into the house.

Other responses have been for her to call the city and have them cut the tree down, a simple shrug of my shoulders as I walked away (pretending I didn’t hear her), or just a smug look on my face and not a single word being spoken with the latter being after the tree had already been trimmed and the leaves no longer being in excess.

There’s only so far you can take a joke before it becomes as old and stale as the person telling it, and Mrs. Kravitz reached that milestone many years ago.

So Mrs. Kravitz, I don’t care where “my leaves” fall because that’s what they do this time of year. It’s property of the city so it’s not my concern since I didn’t plant the thing. They will fall where they will fall and pretty-up the landscape whether you like them or not.

And I don’t need to be reminded of them, tomorrow or ever again.

That joke isn’t funny anymore. Let it go, man. Just let it go.

The End of an Era

If all things must pass, even a pyramid won’t last.

“What Goes Up” by Alan Parsons Project

Maybe the Mayans really were on to something.

I say this because today marks the end of an era; the complete and utter demise of something that had been an integral part of my life for so long and something I thought I’d never see in my lifetime. And before you think it’s about giving up blogging then you’d better think again, buddy. (Besides, I tried that in 2009 with little success.)

No, what I’m talking about is this (and ignore that URL—it’s for my old blog):

My neighbor first put this up back in 2004 and it would make a return every holiday season. Then after Christmas of 2007, the sign remained on the roof permanently. Here’s a picture taken in June of 2008, with my watch display for emphasis:

As the years went on, the rugged old sign began to show signs of fatigue. After all, constant exposure to the elements will do that to wood and presumably, one that wasn’t treated with the proper protectant nor designed to be on display for more than a month.

Then we looked up one day and saw that the sign very much looked like an unsolved Wheel of Fortune puzzle for it read “HAPPY BI THDAY JESU.” The R and last S were the first letters to go. Time definitely took its toll because after our last major rainstorm, here’s how it looked:

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We wondered how long it would last.

It ended today when I got a text from Ann telling me that their gardeners were on the roof taking it down and by the time they were done…


whoosh, it was gone. What’s remaining is nothing but a pile of sand from the sandbags that once held the sign in place. The gardeners later destroyed the sign that would illuminate nightly at midnight and chucked its pieces in the trash.

There are still a few wires and broken bulbs out in the street. I managed to salvage this as some kind of twisted souvenir:


It sits on my computer desk as a memory of the sign the entire neighborhood knew about and made fun of, not because of its religious connection but because it was up there for so long and we were all left to wonder when it would finally be taken down.

After 8 years (and 5 years of constant exposure), we will now mark May 8, 2012 in our calendars as the day the ridiculousness finally ended.

What goes up must indeed come down.

Jobs and The Jackass

It’s been a strange past couple of weeks.

As you know, I’ve been spending them working my new job which I will finally reveal on this here blog at this here moment: Kmart. Yes, in an attempt to get myself back on track, I accepted the temporary position that they offered knowing it would last from 4-6 weeks. But what I didn’t expect was to be turning my my less-than-two-week notice today.

Just last week I received an e-mail from a staffing company. They were apparently in need of qualified individuals that could proofread (*raises hand*) in several languages (*raises other hand*) for a client’s project slated to last until the end of the year or possibly spill over into 2011. Deciding this was a risk worth taking, I took a day off from Kmart–the same store where Tom Hanks was filming Larry Crowne–to go down there for an interview.

The result? Tomorrow will be my last day at Kmart and I will be starting my new job on Monday. Yes, it’s a little bit of a drive from Long Beach to Irvine but for $4 more an hour, I think it will be worth it in the end. And it gets me out or retail which wasn’t entirely bad this time around, just something I thought I’d never, ever subject myself to ever again.

Oh and to top it all off, I got a call from Central Casting on my first day of work at Kmart. They wanted to know if I was available to work on The Middle that same week, but I had to turn them down since I had already made a commitment to this job.

So I basically went from having the plague to being somewhat wanted. And it feels good, damnit!

Okay, so that covers the job aspect of this post. So what’s with the Jackass portion? Allow me to explain.

My lovely neighbor, jokingly referred to as “The Jackass” around these parts, has taken to the habit of rolling his trashcans out at 3 am lately. I really don’t have a problem with that if he were quiet about it but he is anything but clandestine when he does it. It’s damn annoying and it’s hard to get back to sleep for another 2 hours when my alarm goes off.

Despite being instructed by the police during the alleged dog-poisoning incident to ignore these people, last week I decided I’d calmly ask The Jackass if he wouldn’t mind taking his trashcans out at a decent hour of the day. After all, he leaves for work at 3 am and is home all night. There’s plenty of time to get it done.

Apparently, he had a problem with this.

“For all the problems you guys caused us…” is about all he could get out before I simply told him, “Okay, have it your way” and walked back into the house. You yell at guy and he gets pissed; you calmly ask him and he gets pissed. Problems we caused them? Let’s not get into that right now.

At any rate, I decided to send an e-mail to my local representative at the Noise Abatement Department and ask what, if anything, could possibly be done about this. She replied with a few suggestions that I didn’t act upon (since I think it’s silly to have the police take time from their schedule to tell this guy to stop). Regardless, something strange happened within a few days of that e-mail.

He took his trash out at 6 pm. Not only that, he didn’t leave the empty cans in front of is house for the entire week as he tends to do on occasion. I’m sort of starting to believe in the Invisible Space Wizard if this dude came to his senses and actually reconsidered what I asked him to do. If so, it would definitely be a first around here.

Oh and by the way, they have another dog. Jeez…

So yeah, these few weeks have been a little odd for me but despite it all, I think I’ll take them.

Strange days indeed…

So It’s Come to This

218270 So…how you all doin’ this fine Saturday evening? I’m good, thanks for asking.

Aren’t you going to ask me what happened today? Because I’d be more than happy to tell you. It really is a nice story.

This morning while I was getting ready to take Anthony to his t-ball league’s Closing Ceremonies by loading all of the equipment in the truck, a Long Beach police unit come rolling down the street and parked in front of my next door neighbor’s house. The officer sits and waits.

A few minutes later another unit arrives. By now, another neighbor across the street, Sherry, is out and wondering what’s going on. Her grandkids then arrive and ask to play with Anthony.

As I walk across the street to take Anthony to Sherry’s, I approach one of the officers and ask if everything was okay.

“We just need to go talk to your neighbor,” he says.

“Oh, okay. I’m just asking because there’s been a lot of activity on the street lately and we’re a bit concerned.” He nods and both officers head to Dick’s* house, aka Mr. “Happy Birthday Jesus Sign 365/24/7.”

They are in his house for some time and our curiosity is getting stronger. Did he beat his wife again, much like he did years ago and served time for? Did they have a little spat that needed police intervention? Inquiring minds wanted to know!

Well, as we all stood and wondered what exactly they were doing there, we see the officers exit the house and slowly walk down their driveway—then slowly head up ours. I excuse myself, walk to the house and wave over to them.

Here’s the part when Dave SHOULD have lost it BUT for the sake of all involved and keeping my reputation intact, I didn’t.

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Merry Christmas, Jerk!

The holiday season is in full swing and it’s time to look back on the things we’re thankful for. Here’s my list—and it’s pretty short.

I’m thankful to be alive and enjoy my family and friends, whom I’m also thankful for. The rest is just details. That pretty much sums it up.

As for the things I’m not thankful for,well, the list is a bit longer.

If you recall, I’ve been sandwiched between two bad neighbors for years until recently when the hillbillies finally got kicked out of their house. (Fortunately, they’ve been replaced with neighbors who are just the opposite.) But to the north of me there’s a couple that gave us problems since Day 1.

Sure, you know the husband. The guy that’s had the Happy Birthday Jesus sign on his roof for at least three years straight? The guy that built a wall between our houses without asking permission and only did it after Ann’s grandfather died? The guy who’s been to jail for beating the crap out of both women he’s been married to? Oh, and the man who, despite all this, claims to be an upstanding Christian?

Shit, if that’s a Christian, sign me up for the other team and pronto.

At any rate, I don’t watch out for this guy or his wife—she’s just as twisted as he—because they’re both hypocrites. And if I really did give a damn about them, perhaps I would have taken the time to go over to their house this morning and remind him that today was Street Sweeping Day.

But alas, I couldn’t bring myself to do it because, hell, he wouldn’t do it for me. And it’s worth noting that no other neighbors went over to tell him, either. Hmmm…

So instead…

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