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I feel like my neighbors have my house staked out waiting for me to foolishly leave mail where they can snatch it. A couple weeks ago, I was working from home, and therefore assumed that it was safe to leave my mail sticking out of the slot waiting for the mailman to come and pick it up. I did this strategically. The mailman comes at approximately 12pm, so, in case he was running a little early, I put my mail in the slot at 11:50am, and then repeatedly went to the window to make sure that his truck was there meaning that he was making the rounds.

With all of the energy I put into this, I could have just gone to the post office, but that means leaving the house, and is really not the point of working from home. Finally, I hadn’t heard any mail coming through the slot and hitting the floor, so I made certain (again) that the truck was still there– it wasn’t. I quickly re-grouped and went take the out-going mail back inside when I heard the distinctive squeak of the metal flap. I ran to the door, but there was no one in sight.

So fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, fool me three times– I guess I’m just a sucker.

Here is a complete list of the items that the crackheads in my neighborhood have stolen from me:

Netflix dvds: It’s always Sunny in Philadelphia season 2 disc 2, Waging a Living, Sweeney Todd

From Amazon: Extras the complete first and second seasons, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix special 2-Disc set, All About Eve

At least one book, possibly two from the Quality Paperback Book Club (they just keep sending me stuff even though I wrote and canceled my membership)

My course of study form for the URI GSLIS program

Business cards that are of no use to anyone but me.

My wise lawyer friend pointed out that the kind of people who are willing to commit the felony of mail theft are the kind of people who can always find someone willing to pay for what they steal– but honestly. There’s a woman down the street from me who spends each day sitting on her stoop selling old clothes, used shoes, and assorted household knick-knacks. I can’t imagine that she makes any money doing this, but it must be worth her while since she’s putting a lot of time into it. Of course, every time I drive by her, I crane my neck looking for something that might be mine, but never see anything. I imagine my stuff goes fast.

So take the DVDs in their Netflix envelopes and sell them for $2, but my course of study, my business cards? I wish that they would take the stuff, see if it’s worth their while, and when it’s not– just bring it back. I wouldn’t even get mad.

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I forget, every winter, buried under sweaters and scarves and coats, that it will one day again be warm. When the warm comes, the first few days are glorious. I romp, I bask, and then it gets too hot for me, and I whine. The other thing I forget about is that horror of horrors that hasn’t gotten me yet this season, but certainly will before the summer is out– the male tank top.

Some men look good in tank tops, and I have a thing for masculine arms, but also one of the things I hate the most ever is a sloppy, unkempt, chubby man in a tanktop that’s basically a phy-ed pinney sweating, and breathing heavily while the tank top, which is not a shirt but just enough of a drapery to keep him from getting kicked out of restaurants, shifts and eventually exposes hairy shoulders, neck, and nipples. When I say hairy, I mean the kind of hariness that goes completely unchecked, wild locks of curls that cause the pinney to stand a full inch above the shoulders of the man and occasionally brush his earlobes.

These men usually have dirty hands as well, axel grease or somesuch thing caked on not because they work on cars daily, but because they rarely wash. There is the occasional regrettable tattoo, often elaborate, but shockingly stupid. These men do everything in their tank tops– usually there’s only one. While the one is in the wash, they loll topless in the recliner, resting a cool “Natty Ice” on the hairy lump that serves as a midsection. Once washed (and this only happens once a week), the pinney is put back on haphazardly, but happily these men can still see the tv even while dressing because of the giant arm-holes.

I live in fear of this.
I avoid theme-parks because of it.
I work in a public library– I can’t avoid it.

I have a very hard time providing customer service to men who’s nipples I can see. I don’t want to look, but I can’t help it. It’s the odd/gross fascination like “really, you left the house like this? Do you not have a mirror, or just eyes?”

I rolled into Providence on September 1, Labor Day weekend. It was a rather odd way to start live in a new city as businesses had limited hours, and after a ridiculous time of trying to negotiate the narrow, full of people roads during Waterfire on Saturday night, the city seemed to empty out Sunday morning while I slept in. I was so overwhelmed and dazed from being in the car for three days, that I didn’t care about much of anything.

So Human Traveling Companion and I walked downtown every day to get the lay of the land, coffee in the morning and beer in the afternoon, etc. En route to what was called “Downtown Arts District” when I moved here, now is called “Downcity Arts District” (why? why? who cares?), I walk by a rather non-descript Pentecostal church . It’s not a pretty church, like every building in my neighborhood it has a chain-link fence, and it looks like it was designed for some other purpose, but the people who go there seem to have some of the most fun I’ve ever seen.

Not being of a religious persuasion myself, I really don’t know much about organized religion. I took “World Religions” as an undergrad, but that covered mainly the non-christian religions of the world outside of America and Europe. Frankly, aside from having a friend of family in the town one grows up in, I don’t know how people know anything about these other Christian denominations. I know that this church is Pentecostal because there is a sign on it.

Anyway, when I had heard the word Pentecostal before, it was generally referring to the more strict, skirt-wearing religions (correct me if I’m wrong). The people who go to this church do not fit the descriptions I’d previously associated with Pentecostal. They’re all African-American, most wear these all-white outfits complete with a kind of hat one might use to deflect the sun at the beach– and they feast.

For two days they were inside the chain-link, in what looks like it should be a parking lot eating, and dancing, and generally making merry. There are tents set up, and giant silver buffet dishes– it’s very elaborate. In the late afternoon, things would be quiet and we’d see a couple people setting up, but as soon as the sun set– the revelry began. It was a sight to behold, and made me feel more positive about religion than I possibly ever have.

Then they vanished.

Since September 4th, I have not seen anyone going in or out of that church. The sign is still up, I assume they haven’t moved, but I just don’t know. I looked forward to walking by their celebrations, or hearing the whooping on nights when my windows are open, but I didn’t get to, sadly.

The other day though, I walked by, and there were two men in the faux parking lot/party space looking like they were making plans of some kind. So I don’t know if the partying Pentecostals are coming out of hibernation, but I certainly hope so.

My cousin Sara’s cat used to eat books. He would masticate away at the corners until they were rounded and indented with tiny tooth-holes. I was visiting that part of the family one summer (they lived in Wisconsin, about 8 hours away– so we only saw them once or twice a year), and Sara asked me if I’d like some of her old books that she had already read, and grown out of.

Since Sara was cool and older, I gleefully went through her bookcase looking for titles that sounded appealing. I left a stack of books on her floor for her to approve, and then, late that night– her cat gnawed on them. Most were still readable, so I took them home and read them. Sometimes, it was a struggle to make out the words in the upper corners, but I am nothing if not persistent. I tried to lend one of the books to a friend in the “ohmythisissogoodyouhavetoreaditsowecantalkaboutit!” way that pre-teen girls do. Then I was reminded that my better friends at the time didn’t much care for reading– even if the books had been intact.

One of my favorite of the bunch was Six months to Live by Lurlene McDaniel. It’s a story of a girl, a little older than me at the time, who gets juvenile leukemia. She suffers chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, and her best friend dies. By the end, she’s in recovery and optimistic. She looks through her dead best friend’s things and hugs her teddy bear.

After reading that book, I assumed that I would get cancer. Anytime I cut myself and it took to long to clot– must be leukemia, if I felt fatigued– leukemia, if I lost more hair than usual while washing or brushing it– leukemia (which really doesn’t make sense because I certainly wasn’t going through the chemo that would make my hair fall out– but logic is not at play here). I was going to get cancer– Dawn Rochelle did, and she was a normal girl like me.

Until last week, that was the only Lurlene McDaniel book I was aware of. Actually, I couldn’t have told you who wrote that book because I read it the same summer I read A Summer to Die (oh pre-teen angst), and I tend to confuse the two. Last week I was at job #2 (public library) looking for missing books in the YA section. One of the books was by Lurlene McDaniel, and when I found it I saw on the cover it said “a companion to Six Months to Live.

It seems that there are four books in the series, and poor Dawn Rochelle has relapse after relapse, one bone-marrow transplant after another all while dealing with the grief of missing her dead best friend (who she met in the cancer ward), and the social stigma of being known as “the cancer girl”. Life is hard for Dawn Rochelle, and it makes one wonder why Lurlene created a character just to torture her through a series of increasingly slim and poorly-written volumes.

Then I found out that this is all Lurlene McDaniel does. She write books about kids who are dying from one malady or another, and depressed teenagers eat them up. It seems incredibly sick and wrong, and her explanation that she did the research initially when her youngest son was diagnosed with diabetes, really doesn’t make it ok.

I learned a lot of about juvenile leukemia reading six months to live, but it made me paranoid. I’m pretty level-headed– so what the hell is this writing doing to other kids? Well, what’s done is done. Lurlene actually seems like quite a nice lady; we’re now friends on Myspace and she thanked me for adding her.

Here is a list of some of the most ridiculous titles she’s ever written, courtesy of lurlenemcdaniel.com:

Mother, Help me live

Let Him Live

Mourning Song

Please Don’t Die

She Died too Young

Sixteen and Dying

Someone Dies, Someone Lives

Don’t Die, My Love

Baby Alicia is Dying– this one is my favorite

When Happily Ever After Ends

Letting Go of Lisa

Time to Let Go

Somewhere Between Life and Death

A while ago, at job number 2, a nicely-dressed, middle-aged man, and his son came into the children’s room. A co-worker immediately said “Hello, Mayor.”

I assumed the kids name was Mayer, but it seems that the middle-aged man is in fact the Mayor of the town where this particular library is, and my co-worker addresses him by the office, rather than his name, which I find a little odd, but have since gotten over.

So while co-worker was helping the Mayor’s son find a book, the Mayor sought me out and proceeded to tell me how hard it is to be Mayor. “I bet it’s much harder than being a librarian,” he said, “I bet you have no idea.”

“I’m sure it depends on the day.” I told him, and tried to run away.

He followed me. “No, it’s really hard.” heavy sigh, “I can’t even explain how hard it is to be Mayor.”

“Well, I don’t plan on finding out.”

He sighed again, heavily, “No, I wouldn’t recommend it.” Then he collected his kid, and left.

So I’m left wondering, was this some kind of strategy? Is it the “feel sorry for me and vote for me cause I work so hard for you” approach? He doesn’t know that I can’t vote for him, why would it ever be a good idea to come into the library, complain about his job for which he was chosen (potentially by me), and insult my work as well?

Perhaps I just don’t understand politics. Perhaps he’s not running for re-election.