Our condo complex is situated so the four condos on either side face each other under a roofed atrium. The downside of this (or upside) is that each interior bedroom window faces out to the atrium, and consequently all the other bedroom windows. Generally, most of those windows have blinds that are drawn at all times. There is some sunlight and a breeze that makes it through the top of the atrium, so periodically I open all our blinds and windows to defunk our condo from dog.
Our neighbors across the way were a young couple, who had only purchased the place a few months back. Their first roommate didn’t work out because her dog barked too much, and for a while that interior room was unoccupied. Several weeks ago we noticed a new girl taking their Border Collie out for walks, so we assumed she was a new roommate and didn’t think much of it. We never met her, aside from small talk in passing. The owners mentioned that they were heading out for the summer and that someone else would be renting the entire place from them for a few months, and they would be leaving shortly.
A few days after we learned this, I was closing up for the night and went into the guest bedroom to close the blinds. I noticed that the blinds across the way were mostly open with really bright lights on. All of a sudden, the girl we didn’t really know strutted forward and ripped off her jacket bearing her breasts as she did some kind of twirl. At first, I thought, Oh Shit! She’s entertaining! Close the blinds!Until I realized that there was nobody else with her. She began adjusting the lights in her room, and what I realized was a camera on top of her computer. Now, if I was a wholesome, decent person, I would have looked away and shut the blinds. But I’m not. The first thing I did was whisper-yell “JASON, YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS! OUR NEIGHBOR IS ONE OF THOSE LIVE CAM SEX GIRLS AND IT’S SHOWTIME! Boobies for days!!!” (after I switched off all our lights and hid to the side of the window.) I’m also pretty sure that’s the fastest I’ve seen Jason move in my life.
For the next 20 minutes or so we watched as she braced herself against the back of her headboard, smacked her ass, and pulled the biggest black dildo I have ever seen out of nowhere. (Nowhere?) This clearly wasn’t her first rodeo. Do the owners know how she gets her rent money or about her studio? Because if they do I have more questions. After watching much more aerial leg movement, I went to bed, and Jason said a few hours later she was still going strong. As it happened, next day was move out day, and we never saw her again. On the upside, it did save me from running into her again with the dogs, because I really don’t think I would be able to resist asking how her dildo collection was doing. It’s been disappointingly quiet here since then.
We had a concert to go to after Jason finished demoing some mountain bikes, so he brought a change of clothes with him so he didn’t have to keep wearing his bike shorts all night. The following is what happened after we parked downtown, mid afternoon.
Jason: God I can’t wait to get out of these shorts.
Me: Yeah. but there’s people everywhere. I know you’re cool showing off your ballsack to the world, but I don’t think everyone else is ok with seeing it.
Jason: Yeah, I know. Help me find the sun shield. That should give me some privacy from the front.
Me: God dammit, we need to sort out our summer and winter gear, I cant find anything back here. OK, here it is. Oh man, I’ll shut my door so that family in the yard next to us doesn’t see you. Looks like they’re having a garage sale.
Jason: Oh I didn’t even see them! See, it’s this kind of shit that I’m worried will get me arrested.
Jason starts to take off his bike shorts in the drivers seat
Me: Oh shit!!! There’s a little girl with her grandma! Where did they come from?? Change faster!!!
Jason: I can’t I’m stuck! GAH! This is EXACTLY what I was worried about!!
Jason hands me his sweaty bike shorts that he’s turned inside out as he scrambles for his underwear
Me: Ewww. I don’t want these! And I don’t want your sweaty stinky ball cup touching the beers! Gross! I’m putting them here. Oh man that girl was like 12 too. Oh phew they’re gone, the coast is clear.
Jason: She was not 12. She was like 17.
Me: Dude there’s no way. She was a little kid.
Jason: Did you see her face?!That girl looked like she knew what to do with a dick.
Me: If the zombies are dead then why is blood still spraying everywhere?
Jason: Well clearly they still have blood.
Me: But they’re dead and their heart would still have to be beating and creating pressure to make it spray like that. And they would have to still be warm and have blood moving or it would congeal. Seriously, you’re the medical expert. I like his Cupid costume though.
Me: The biology really isn’t lining up here.
Jason: THE POINT OF THE GAME is running around blowing up as much stuff as possible and creating mayhem in the messiest way possible. It’s a 16 years-olds jack-off dream. It doesn’t have to make sense. Now let me run around and kill things.
Me: Fine. But I don’t understand how these people got in here. And why are they just standing around? It’s a quarantined zone and you would think they would be wanting to get far the fuck away from zombies. I would be.
Jason: They’re just there to sell you things. It’s like a home-base check point.
Me: Well I think that’s pretty unethical to sell weapons like that for survival. I don’t even see how they could smuggle all those weapons in there in the first place. You would think they would at least use them for their own survival, if not to help get other people get out.
Jason: Gives me the shut up and go away death stare
Me: Fine. I’m going to go decorate my skeleton dog string lights.
Jason: You do that.
I think Jason was just mad because I keep eating all the marshmallows out of his Lucky Charms.
This morning I begrudgingly took the dogs outside in the rain because Jason said he didn’t have time before work. I’m pretty sure he sleeps in deliberately and takes extra time in the shower to ensure that he can never take them out. Like, he’s trimming every hair on his beard one follicle at a time in hopes of being able to escape this, or maybe he’s just trying to vex me. Rather than be the put together and pressed professional he could be to represent us to our condo community, he leaves it to me to make the two-story trek in my plaid pajama bottoms, knock off Ugg boots, and rats nest of morning hair. I don’t even get a cup of coffee first as I’m usually panic stricken at any moment Henry won’t be able to hold it anymore and will piss all over the carpet. At this point the upstairs hall and guest room looks vaguely like a map of Uganda, lower Asia, and possibly Patagonia. Henry also has an issue with, or a fondness of, electrical cords, things that are easy to shred, and sticks, and usually finds many inappropriate items to get his little jaws around. He’s a special little dog. We live on the second floor of an eight-unit condo complex, that is half residential and half commercial. Soooodasooopaaaaa. (Kudos if you get that reference.) Before I even take the dogs out, I have to strain to hear if any doors are being opened, and sometimes I’ll run upstairs to the second floor window to make sure the coast is clear in the atrium. GOD FORBID I run into one of my neighbors. Ever. Condo wasn’t the right choice in retrospect.
To get to the proper pissing area outside, I herd my geriatric terrier and hyperactive “Chipin” through a door to the commercial side, where Henry periodically breaks loose and terrorizes women and small children, and Wookie moves at a snail’s pace into the elevator. (I just discovered yesterday Chipin was a real thing, and unfortunately, I managed to adopt one. Henry was my biggest mistake of July 2017. But the little fur ball has grown on me since then.) We ride down to the parking garage and Henry bites and barks at Wookie all the way to the bottom, until, the doors open and we play Frogger around the parked and moving cars. Finally, the boys sprint to the courtyard opening, and burst into the freedom of sunlight, fresh American mountain living, and limitless possibilities of things to pee on. If I’m unlucky, I run into people I know. This happens frequently. It’s kind of like a community at a playground where people mingle just from the standpoint they have children, and that gives them a common ground, even though they would never, ever, ever think to attempt socialization with these people under any other circumstance, apocalypse notwithstanding. Most people here seem to have dogs, so as my dogs stand there awkwardly and antisocially amongst the other normal dogs, it gives me a common ground that I can make strained small talk over before I run for cover inside. Nothing is quite the conversation starter like watching your dog pass the neon green earplug that went missing in the middle of the night, or having to pull threads out of your dog’s ass so he stops dragging butt and looking at you pathetically. Yay for being THAT dog mom.
This morning it had been pouring rain and at first glance I thought it had knocked a ton of sticks around, but when I looked closely there were actually tons of earth worms everywhere. Naturally, OPERATION SAVE THE EARTHWORMS kicked into high gear as my dogs scattered looking for places to shit. While still in my pajama bottoms (I mention still in my pajama bottoms, because my neighbors haven’t annoyed me to the point I would aggressivley strip naked and sprint through the commons area. But every day is a new day,) I found a stick, proceed to crouch down along the sidewalk, and systematically began to pick up and fling each earthworm for safety moving down the entire path. Priorities, and I’m doing nature a favor here. 9am and I already have points for saving the environment. I realize now in retrospect that I must have looked insane from anyone who happened to look out the windows onto the courtyard, but I swear my heart was in the right place. Even Wookie was looking at me like I was batshit crazy waiting for me to take him back inside. This is why I should have coffee before I leave the front door. So I can be caffeinated and fling worms even faster while my dogs silently judge me as I save the planet. How fast does an earthworm get safely back underground? Water table dependent? What is a “safe” water level for an earthworm? I guess the level where they aren’t drowning? How fast do they chew? How DO worms chew? Where is the worm’s mouth? Did the birds get them anyway before they made it back in after I saved them? Is the early bird pre or post 9am? Nature is vicious.
Feel the Love
I AM smiling
Before bed, I took the dogs out again because it seemed like the responsible thing to do, and we don’t need to add Madagascar or Sicily to our bedroom. This time, it was fucking pouring rain and dark. Luckily, Wookie is prissy, and neither dog likes to be wet so it was the quickest shit I’d seen from both of them in a while, until Henry started going after all the sticks. Nope. Not sticks. Massive fucking earth worms that Henry just decided he NEEDED in his mouth. Ugh. Jason might be picking up extra 24 hours shifts to get away from me or the dogs, but he’s not owning up to it.
There’s a supermarket that’s about 30 seconds from my front door. Which is great convenience-wise, but the problem is it’s geared towards mountain tourists and you’ll pay $8 for a Hot Pocket and $15 for a jar of Vaseline. Not saying I was shopping for either, in any particular order, ever. It was just for comparative purposes. Anyway, they have trouble keeping full-time help and mostly local high schoolers fill the role of check-out clerk. I frequent the establishment for their breakfast burritos and fine salad bar, and have gotten to know some of the check-out staff. That’s how I met Chuck. And Chuck was not a high schooler, He was just high. (His name has been changed to protect his identity.)
It started like any other unassuming check-out conversation, How’s your day? I like that brand, genocide in Myanmar, etc when we got on the topic of pot stickers, which I happened to be purchasing. Things took an unexpected turn.
Me: Have you tried this brand? They’re really good and inexpensive.
Chuck: No! But you know who has the best potstickers?? That Chinese place down a town over!.
Me: Really? I’ll have to check it out.
Chuck: Yeah! That place is awesome! And I don’t think the bartender knows how to make drinks, because he basically fills the glass with vodka and then puts a splash of Sprite in it. It’s crazy. I hang out around there and wait for them to open after every time I get out of jail. That place is awesome!
This also followed a previous conversation we had about doughnuts.
Me: (Holding a bag of doughnuts)
Chuck: What’s in the bag?
Me: A guinea pig.
Chuck: Haha! That’s awesome! That reminds of the time some friends of mine who were major stoners, got a guinea pig and let it run around their apartment. It made a huge mess and when their landlord found out, he got really pissed off and evicted them. They couldn’t keep it anymore, and didn’t know what to do with it. They didn’t want to throw it out or release it to the wild, so they put it in a paper bag and put it on this girls doorstep who they knew wouldn’t get rid of it. So they rang the doorbell and ran away, and the girl kept it and took care of it.
Me: It’s actually three doughnuts.
Chuck: Cool. I’ll give them to you for 50% off.
Chuck: Have a great day!
Chuck is the nicest, friendliest, check-out clerk I have ever had, and is the only one I know that keeps a flask in the front pocket of his store apron. Chuck is one of my absolute, most favorite people, and I’m pretty sure I know why he’s working as a check-out clerk. I will gladly continue to purchase doughnuts from him.
After getting lost near Cochise National Forest, having to get back through a secondary immigration checkpoint (40 miles from the border,) and stumbling on the winery oasis of Wilcox, Arizona (where we met a lovely older couple, Dutch Lady, and Aussie who we talked politics with for two hours,) we managed to make it to our campsite in New Mexico. Being able to pee freely while camping is an amazing experience. My mom adores shopping in a place called Cherry Creek North, which is a rich, ritzy part of Denver some chose to call home. The last time I got back from camping and went down to visit her, none of the stores allowed customers to use restrooms. I threatened to pee behind someones fancy bushes in their front yard but my mom convinced the store to let me use the bathroom. I was a little disappointed but my mom hissed something about convention and propriety and a barn. It all worked out in the end. Which brings me to Santa Fe, which is another little, old, short, white haired, rich lady mecca. We found a nice, off season hotel that allowed dogs and supplied us with free shampoo, which I promptly took advantage of to wash the dogs. We worked our way through the Indian Market, and I found a beautiful set of beaded earrings and a necklace from a woman that came from the Navajo tribe. We had a great time talking with her and bullshitting. She gave us her card, and when we got home I thought I would check to see if she had an online store or Etsy site because her work was so beautiful. Turns out that the first thing that comes up for her in Google is her New Mexico aggravated assault and battery charges. Jason said she needs to work on her online presence.
At long last, we made it home, all dogs alive, all people with all limbs and digits. And so we begin our next adventure.
After recovering the dogs, we were faced with some decisions. The storm that had rolled through was a smaller part of a massive cold front that had descended across the west, and two feet of snow had just been dumped at home. We now had to choose where we could camp based on temperature. We stayed at a motel that night and took a survey of tourist cards in the lobby display rack. “Well, I’ve always wanted to go to Tombstone” . . .was how the conversation began.
And to Tombstone we went next, but not before staying the night camping in the Verde Valley. Which I only make note of, because as we drove into the middle of nowhere to get to this campsite, we randomly turned down a road that looked promising with some fire rings. We got out and walked to a picturesque clearing, as the dogs impaled themselves on prickly pear cactus, and decided to set up camp while watching a beautiful Arizona sunset. Working our way back to the car to get our tent became more interesting when we came across a full ritual circle complete with burnt out candles and some type of animal skull. Next to it was a perfectly laid out yin and yang symbol make of rocks. At least they were peace loving, new-agey seancers? To make matters worse, at roughly 1am a car pulled up out of nowhere, left the engine running, I heard someone get out, walk over to our tent, and started shining a light all around our campground. I woke up Jason and we listened until finally, whoever it was, walked away, got back in their car, and drove off. I’ll pass camping there again.
South of Phoenix looks like the apocalypse. We went straight down towards Tucson, which I honestly couldn’t find much merit in. At any moment I was sure Mad Max would be pulling up along side us and harpooning poor Hilde. We toured the defunct Lisa Frank factory, terrifying in it’s emptiness and ruiner of my childhood dreams, the weird airplane grave yard that goes on for miles, and imbibed on my total disappointment of Whattaburger, which Jason had talked up concerning his drunken post-army nights. We continued on.
Non ominous sunset
Random yin-yang symbol
They let us dress the dogs up as bartenders
Tombstone held a number of surprises for us, one, including it’s higher elevation and surrounding grasslands. We had no idea how beautiful that area was, considering the wastelands just north. Next, was the fact that everyone in the city preferred to dress up in historical costume and play their parts, even at the bar post-work. Also, the regular “gun-fight” performances. Also, this seemed to be the place were biker gang members came to retire. The locals looked rough. We walked towards a western display town with a raised wooden walkway where some guy (dressed in western attire) was drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette. We had the dogs with us because Jason didn’t let me smother them, and the guy pointed out how cute he thought Henry was and how he reminded him of his dog that just passed away. I made my typical snide comment about trying to off Henry, which probably wasn’t sensitive or appropriate, when the guy suddenly got very intense and serious. “WELL. MY DOG DIED IN A VERY AWFUL AND PAINFUL WAY.” Uh-oh. That sounds just terrible! Tell me more? “YEAH. THIS LITTLE CHIHUAHUA KEPT TRYING TO BE ALPHA, AND THE OTHER DOGS DIDN’T LIKE IT. I THINK IT MUST HAVE BEEN PACK MENTALITY, BECAUSE THE DOBERMAN IS USUALLY FINE, BUT THAT ROTTWEILER RIPPED INTO HIM AND ALL THAT I FOUND OF HIM WHEN I GOT HOME ONE DAY WAS HIS HEAD IN THE FRONT YARD. Did the Doberman have blood around his mouth or just the Rotty? Why do I think of these questions? Why did I just ask him that out loud? It’s like the time when we had just started dating and I asked Jason if human meat cooked red because we have so much iron in our blood. Or did we cook like pork? Why does pork cook white? I wish I had signal. I swear I’m paying attention. WIFE WAS REAL TORN UP ABOUT IT. BOUGHT HER A TEACUP CHIHUAHUA A FEW MONTHS AGO AND SHE TAKES THAT THING TO WORK WITH HER, EVERYWHERE REALLY. LOVES IT. ANYWAY, LET ME KNOW IF YOU WANT TICKETS TO TONIGHT’S GUNFIGHT. IT’LL BE GREAT.” That’s exactly the kind of shit you hand a cocktail and parade around the front porch. We thanked him for the offer, found a bar with some delightfully saloon attired waitresses and some dude that looked like he just came from Burning Man, and made way to our campsite.