#StrongIndependentWoman

0bcaac22c449f145f4991d47dd019dadA hundred years ago, I’d be gainfully married and probably toting about a passel of adorable, always filthy, rug rats with disarming smiles by thirty one. But it’s 2014 and no one gets to auction my hand to the highest bidder anymore. I have been single for the entirety of my adult life as a result. Revoke my feminism card (HAHA I’d like to see you try) but there are some things I find difficult to do and they almost always lead to stories like this.

Even admitting that much is difficult for me to say aloud. I pride myself on being overwhelming self-sufficient to the point of obnoxiously capable. I have moved myself from state to state with only hired hands – mostly because there are some things even brawny men-types need four hands to move – and I am comfortable working a cocktail party on my own, bouncing from person to person and conversation to conversation. All these details aside, I’m only 5’3 and there are – I’m going to say it again – some things I can’t or am no longer willing to attempt if only to preserve what little flexibility and goodwill my body will still allow me.

One of these things involves my air conditioner. It’s not a terribly intimidating thing but it weighs about half as much as I do or feels like it to me. This summer, for the first time, I asked for assistance with installation. My considerably taller and stronger and more male friend came over and lifted it into the shoulder-height (for me) window and locked it in place with the window frame. I was grateful. My room would again be cool and breezy.

And then night fell. I turned off the lights. I comfortably rolled over under my light blankets with the fan running. I was generally looking forward to a peaceful night of comfortable sleep.

*ping*

That’s when I discovered the horrible truth.

*pingping  ping*

Directly above my shetland pony of a hand-me-down AC unit that has seen me comfortably if loudly and not all that attractively through previous summers sits a monstrous beast of an AC unit that belongs to the apartment above. It cools a much larger and hotter dwelling. There are small children who run to and fro through the rooms creating heat and generally running amok. Condensation builds and it drips down because science and gravity will it so.

*pingping ping pingping ping*

It dripped right down onto my AC unit, and it wanted to drive me completely mad.

“No,” I said to myself that night, lying in the dark and not giving into my insomnia over a few little noises. “This will not stand. I will find a way to fix this tomorrow.”

And this is where the #strongindependentwoman hashtag was born. Because I’m a capable, independent female, and I will not impose on my friends any more than is absolutely necessary. I am resourceful. I am a problem solver. I am the glue that holds shit together dammit, and I will not be beaten by a little dripping!

Fast-forward 20 hours, and I have done what I thought was the impossible: the AC unit sat on a towel on my bed, and I was only slightly dripping with sweat. I proceeded to launch myself through the window (talk about an ab workout) and was sitting half inside, half outside with the window sill digging into my butt, a roll of duct tape around one wrist and a flimsily constructed barrier of hand towel plus plastic wrap clenched between my knees. It was a success! The towel would cushion the sound, the plastic wrap would keep water from dripping through the towel as happens when water strikes the same place again and again and again, and the duct tape would hold it all together and attached to the metal grating around the window unit.

See? I Can Do It Myself.

But then I had to get back inside. And let me tell you, 5’3 sitting in a windowsill that is shoulder height is a precarious place to be. I slid and slouched forward, stretching forward with a toe to get a foothold on the radiator.

Gravity took over.

I slid faster.

My hip caught.

Thinking back, I probably could have broken my neck if I hadn’t arched back to keep my chin from hitting the window, or my leg if I had hit the bed at a slightly different angle. I don’t always think these #strongindependentwoman things through all the way. A spotter probably would have been a good idea.

My #strongindependentwoman-ness got me a bruise the side of a grapefruit on one hip, a twisted joint that made walking around for the rest of the night fun, and a scrapped palm. The bruise is now pleasantly yellow and gross now and almost dips below the line of my one pair of shorts.

Then I got to heave my trusty shetland pony of an AC unit back into the window. It was a matter of independent pride dammit.

Perhaps next time I’ll just suck it up and ask for help? Or I’ll break out the #strongindependentwoman hashtag again and the more social media-connected of my male friends will conveniently show up before I do something stupid.

But also, when I’m being pestered by pings next summer, I’m going to ask my dad why he hasn’t found me an eligible suitor I can marry for love not money yet.

Image via Pinterest

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Fievel & The Mistaken Deportation

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 11.21.00 PMI recently moved. You may have seen me mention it elsewhere on the internet.

My new apartment is lovely. It’s a one bedroom in a gentrifying neighborhood of Brooklyn and is within walking distance of two of my favorite coffee spots in the borough. What more could I really ask for except the couch I’m really hoping to buy tomorrow? My lovely apartment comes with a small problem though. It’s a problem smaller than my thumb.

You see, my lovely building is surrounded by construction sites. The plots of land on either side of it are being turned into apartment complexes from the ground up. With my apartment on the ground floor, this has led to an influx of small furry creatures with very twitchy noses.

Now let me just say: I like mice. And I’m definitely one of those people who catches the intruding creature and releases it into the wild rather than smash it with a blunt object. I can’t. I just can’t feel its tiny little heartbeat and tiny little bones quaking underneath my hands and then squash it. It’s not me.

So when I found my crunchy peanut butter Clif bar nibbled on in my purse on Saturday, I thought to myself: I guess I’ll have to be more careful about where I leave the sweets in this house. It’s not like I’m living on the 3rd floor anymore, away from all the fauna.

I went about my business and thought nothing of it past that.

I emptied my purse. I shook the lining out over the trash can to make sure that each and every single crumb in the bottom of it – and $3 in quarters and change #WINNING – were no longer there to entice my furry roommates. If I stay spotlessly clean, they will stay away, right?

Monday morning dawned bright and clear. I got up and packed my bag for work. I dumped my purse on the stove top and threw a Tupperware container of lunch, a reusable coffee cup, a book and my keys into it. I went on my normal commute to work. It was an hour door-to-door.

I can only imagine the trauma and terror the little guy was experiencing BUT IT WAS HIS OWN FAULT.

I got to work. I shed my sweater, kicked off my flip flops and unloaded my lunch into the fridge. The lights flickered on. A window was opened. The morning was beautiful. I sat down at my desk and started reading through a backlog of emails from the weekend.

Don’t judge me. It’s important to unplug.fievel_mousekewitz_by_concretequeen-d3nb702

All was quiet.

Nothing was stirring.

Until it was.

I heard a rustle.

My purse moved.

I glanced to the side and saw it was sitting in the crevice between two desks. Perhaps the leather handle was just weighing it down and forcing it to move, I thought to myself. I picked it up and resettled it on the desk next to me.

Then it really moved. The nylon bulged towards me.

I knew. I knew right then. I had brought my furry little companion to work with me. Oh I had seen the nibbled holes in the purple lining of my bag but I hadn’t really thought anything of it. The bag had been upended and shaken out and moved all around, and there was no way that a mouse was still in that bag through the entire commute from Brooklyn to Hell’s Kitchen.

I lifted the bag and shook it. Nothing happened. I pulled the cloth lining out of the bag and upended it again, shaking to see if I could see something heavier in the cloth that I hadn’t before. THERE WAS NOTHING I TELL YOU.

Until there was. His twitchy little face emerged from the second largest hole in the lining. His whiskers quivered. He leapt from what I’m sure he felt was his death trap of a dungeon and landed on the carpet.

I won’t lie. I squealed like a child and jumped, one foot in the air after another, and got as far out of the way as possible.

My little visitor was no longer than my thumb. He was brown and had a lovely tail. I feel bad that he’s been forcibly separated from his family and taken as far from home as a building in Hell’s Kitchen. A small part of me wonders if he is traversing the walls and beams of the city, wearing a tiny blue hat and singing about the moon.

I just hope he doesn’t have a lady-mouse friend here in Brooklyn he will try desperately to get back to now that I’ve deported him from the borough.