Tuesday, December 20, 2005

And you can be sure Way down deep I'm demure...'Cause I'm shy...

Our priest and his brother-in-law were mugged on our street last Saturday night, walking to his house after a concert at the church. They were attacked from behind by two young men who threatened them with a knife (unseen), beat them up, and stole their wallets and cell phones. I am SICK about this. Bruce is physically ok, and so is his brother-in-law, and it could have been so much worse. But now I am scared to even walk to the coffee shop at night, or come in from my car after working nights. It just added more fuel to Dan’s fire about this neighborhood and the house. I don’t know what to do. Yes, it could happen anywhere but the fact is, it happened HERE, less than a block from my house where my three children were asleep. Children I am supposed to keep safe from harm. No, I don’t take them out at night that often but it so happens that Primo and I are going up to the carol sing at the church this evening. There was an armed robbery last Saturday afternoon as well, and I really don’t know what to do with that. I will not be a prisoner in my own house, out of fear of the animals. I will not NOT let my children take walks and go to the park out of fear. But how do I keep them safe? As Dan pointed out, the first time one of them comes home bloodied, I will lose my mind. Am I crossing the line between good sense and paranoia? Then there’s Dan and his usual issues, made worse by this incident. If we move and he complains about – oh, I don’t know – pick something – having to drive everywhere, or the neighbors’ riding mowers being too loud, or having to cut the grass twice a week – I will have to kill him. Why is the Zoloft-snarfing, rum-sucking crazy woman being the voice of reason here?


I actually *finished* another book. Eve Adams’ Garden of Eden. It’s pseudonymous, but I am fairly certain it is Jan Karon trying to be edgier than usual. I will be curious to see if Gina agrees.

Otherwise, I feel that the time is right to begin reading Salman Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown No, I don’t know what changed, I just know I am ready for it now. After I finish Valerie Steiker’s The Leopard Hat: A Daughter’s Story, which I picked up at the library on a whim and which reminds me very much of Ruth Reichl’s books for some reason.


I finished the Christmas shopping for the niece and nephews this weekend. The older ones got Barnes and Noble gift cards (nothing quite like buying people stuff you want for yourself; I contend these make the best sorts of gifts); the younger ones all got crafty stuff like paint-your-own-pottery sets and color-your-own-velvet-posters and Scratch Magic paper. Stuff that Primo would love to get his hands on and that would keep him occupied for an afternoon or two. Those kids do love to make a mess.

The grandparents? Books – The World in a Phrase: A Short History of the Aphorism by James Geary for Grandpap, two Maeve Binchys for Grandma. With any luck I will get to borrow the book from Grandpap before they leave for Florida, unlike the Anne Garrels’ book, Naked in Baghdad that we gave him two years ago, that he left in Florida before I could read it.

The maiden aunt? Lottery tickets.
The priest uncle? Ditto.

My first (blood) nephew? I have not yet shopped for him because I know I am going to go over budget, and I won’t see him till probably February. He’s not even a year old so he won’t know!

The babysitter? Baked an apple cake.
The preschool teachers? Making fudge for them tonight.
The mailman is on vacation this week. Yet another reason to love him to bits.
Our wonderful neighbors? A nice bottle of wine and probably an apple cake.

Dan? Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zero. I am a bad wife. So sue me.


I really need to stop listening to the Christmas music on the radio. I keep hearing monstrosities like Leann Rimes’ version of “O Holy Night” and Porky Pig’s “Blue Christmas.” I am a Christmas music traditionalist. I want Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” and Rosemary Clooney singing “Silver Bells.” I don’t want songs about Christmas shoes and dying mothers and flatulent reindeer. I don’t want reworkings of Pachelbel’s “Canon.” I don’t want Paul McCartney simply having a wonderful Christmas time over and over nor do I wish to hear Band Aid telling me “Well, tonight, thank God it’s them instead of you.” If you must be cute, play “Snoopy and the Red Baron” and the Whos’ song from the original Grinch movie. You can play the Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping” but for God’s sake, STOP PLAYING John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Merry Christmas (War is Over).” If I hear it one more time, I will scream. And I call for a global ban on “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and every spoof ever written of it. It’s not funny or charming or anything but BOOOOOOORRRRRRIINNNNGGGGG, people. Give me Christmas carols – “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Silent Night,” “Joy to the World.” Stick with the basics. Simplicity rules. And take Newsong out behind the Christmas tree and SHOOT THEM.



I went grocery shopping with the sprogs yesterday and bought the makings for some Christmas cookies. Rum balls, Italian wine cookies, amaretto biscotti – does anyone see a pattern emerging? Merry Chrishmas and Happy Holidaysh.

Our church had the children’s Christmas pageant this past Sunday. Gosh, all those little sheep and donkeys and wise men and angels – and especially little Mary in blue - were adorable. Except I happen to know that one of the angels is a bratty, annoying hellion in real life. Revoke her tinsel halo! (But one of the other angels is a sweetie pie who lives next-door to us, and the third was a tall, ethereal blonde made for playing the Anglo-Saxon angel ideal.)

Hungry in LA sent me a Christmas gift (and yes, I opened it RIGHT AWAY!): this. She will go in my library right next to the Great Writers Finger Puppets set, also a gift from H.I.L. She gives the coolest gifts! Thanks, dear! Merry Xmas to you and the hubster.

Yesterday I saw two people driving in a car, each on their own cell phone. Do you suppose they were talking to each other?

I have finally discovered a use for all the cute blank books I yearn to buy at the book store – taking notes for the blog. So much for the paperless society.

All right, I had the babysitter lined up for next week but just realized today that the library is closed. Because of the noisy boiler not allowing him to relax, Dan has already informed me he will be going to work next week. Soooo….I will be home for five days straight with all three boys by myself. Someone have a good reason why I should not just slit my wrists now? Anyone? Bueller?


Gina said...

I think you should edit the post about your neighborhood a bit and send it to the Post Gazette. Maybe you can fuel a Take Back the Neighborhood movement? I really don't want you to move--I *never* see my suburban friends.

You know which "Christmas Song" burns me up the most? Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer. It makes my blood boil, in part because it used to make my little cousin (who's now almost 30) cry--he lived with our grandma, and especially to him, dying grandmothers were NO JOKE.

Joke said...

I quote Chip (Kevin Bacon) from Animal House "Remain calm. All is well."

The first thing to do is to take an unemotional assessment of the situation. Is it REALLY the neighborhood? Or is it the whole metropolitan area? (C'mon, you're a librarian, this should be a piece o' cake to determine.)

Once you have that, you can sketch out your options. Remember your first obligation is to your sons. The charm of a given neighborhood fades damned quickly when your children run smack into manifest evil.


P.S. If I lived in a city with an income tax, I'd be DRAGGING policepersons with bazookas to my neighborhood.

Katy said...

you did forget to hate my new favorite Christmas radio song, "All I Want for Christmas is a Hippopotomus" Its so ridiculously cute, and factual. The version they play on the radio here (not available on iTunes) is a cutesy little girl voice and was supposedly originally recorded for the Oklamhoma City Zoo to use in a fundraiser to buy a hippo. I really do love it. Unfortunately, it gets stuck in my head like pancake syrup in hair.

Sarah Louise said...

Of four Pennsylvania cities in some survey, Pittsburgh was the only one that violent crimes went DOWN! Now, I have spent 20 minutes trying to find that info on the web, but I promise I heard it on the radio this morning!! Ok, went to the Post Gazette: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05354/625050.stm

I understand your concern, but I think we basically live in a safe area. And, your husband did post an email to the neighborhood list-serv talking about getting together a neighborhood watch...so I wouldn't pack up the kids yet!

Besides, I agree with Gina, I'd never see you if you moved to the suburbs!!

hungry in LA said...

I have had police armed with machine guns in my back yard twice, once with a german shepherd when there was a takedown on an armed car at the corner bank and a guard was killed, called 911 twice, and have had 8 car accidents on the street I live on now. So I think it's all relative. And anyone can mug a priest. A borderline pathological mother defending her three kids, no one is that stupid.

I am thrilled you enjoyed your gift, it just screamed your name, and for the blog record it's the deluxe model in red (since I know how much you love red). Clearly you deserved the best.

So relax, buy some pepper spray, and enjoy the holidays.

Katya said...

You got Nancy Pearl! My husband saw that once and said he was going to get it for me, so I'm hoping this Christmas.

I wish I could make you feel better about what's happened in your neighborhood but I can't. It sounds hopeful though that Dan posted an email to the neighborhood listserv asking about starting a neighborhood watch.

blackbird said...

...leave it to Joke to able to bring taxpaying into the equation.

that having been said, it is fun to be pioneers in a neighborhood when one is childless, but when the cab driver who lives next door gets held up at gunpoint under your baby's window?

I'm only saying.

ps - Dominck the Donkey makes me want to guzzle the mulled cider.

hungry in LA said...

And another thing, so what if the library is closed next week? Keep the babysitter on and go do something for yourself. I know, wild and crazy concept here for a second, humor me. Matinee, Primanti Brothers, Borders, I am sure you can come up with something. OK try it for at least one day and don't feel guilty about it!

andrea said...

i'm sorry things are so tumultuous in your neighborhood. when i taught at peabody and used to come to school really early in the morning, or if there was an event late at night, i have to admit i wasn't a huge fan of walking around alone over there.

danny and i were talking about the history of H.P. and E.L. - his family lived there two generations ago - and the transition it's gone through. i'm sure you're aware of it (or could research it!), and i find it fascinating as well as a little bit sad.

we're looking at houses in regent square. wanna move over there too?

Badger said...

First of all, I must disagree with you re the 12 Days of Christmas -- the Bob and Doug McKenzie version is awesome.

Secondly, did I tell you about the time some guy escaped police custody at the hospital very near my upscale suburban neighborhood, stole a police cruiser, and then proceeded to speed recklessly through my 'hood, finally crashing it into a fence, after which he escaped on foot with the guns and whatnot from the cruiser which forced the Badger children's school to go on lockdown? Fortunately this happened early in the morning, just as I was bringing them to school, so we turned right around and went home. And locked the doors and loaded the shotgun (okay, fine, we have ONE GUN).

Oh, and then there was the time that the bank right next to the Badger children's preschool, which is about a quarter of a mile from our house, was robbed, forcing the preschool to go on lockdown also, but fortunately my kids weren't there that day.

And I live in absolutely one of the safest neighborhoods within 40 miles of here, probably.

Gina said...

Andrea! I live in Regent Square! Won't you be my neighbor? :-)

Joke has a point about the taxes. I smell a letter to the editor . . .

Peg said...

Slit your wrists now, and the only thing your kids will remember you for is ruining Christmas.

Hopefully as I write this you're having a wonderful time at the carol sing. Sing out, Louise!

I too wish I could change the fact that the horrible thing happened right there, in your neighborhood. I'm so sorry about that. I'm sure this is going to sound hopelessly stupid, but what if you were to carry a MagLite with you? The big heavy kind, I mean, for when you and Primo walk to the church (or put one in your car). They'll blind everyone in the next town over, they're so bright, and man, I know I wouldn't want to be clocked with one. Ours really does give me a sense of security.

And for what it's worth, I completely agree with you when it comes to Christmas music. That's one of the reasons we tend to avoid the malls -- my personal least favorite is Destiny's Child's version of "Carol of the Bells." I swear it makes me want to hurt someone, which kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?

andrea said...

yay, gina! i may have to bombard you with lots of questions in the coming months...!

Joke said...

In all seriousness, we all pay taxes for a reason. If you ask me, after a few drinks when I have my Mr. Libertarian hat on, the protection of the life and physical safety of its citizenry is one of THE prime (truly hardcore libertarians would say "few") obligations of gummint.

Criminals, like other types of predatory vermin, flock to places where the risk/reward ratio is high. If you reside in one of those places, you have to tilt the balance the other way. You may do this by howling and screaming and writing letters and causing an uproar so that your safety needs are met. You could also do the Bernie Goetz.

I'm sure someone with a research-y mind could find a gazillion instances of frivolous/corrupt spending that could have been translated into better protection of people.

I'd consider it a moral obligation to try to do something about this, since I firmly believe it is our duty to stand between the evil and the innocent.

OK, off my soapbox.


Sarah Louise said...

blackbird--you have heard dominick? At least I know he's out there...

and I'm totally agreeing with Hungry in LA--love the name btw: use the babysitter--who cares that the library is closed? Your sanity is important and tell me you don't want to go to a movie by yourself (or with a certain rose colored friend)

Sarah Louise said...

Oh, and what about the Christmas "Stupid Sign" song--if you haven't heard it, you haven't lived at Christmas. It's the stupidest thing out there.

Carolyn said...

What a fun Christmas gift.

Only someone who is the lowest of the low would mug a priest.

There is no place to go to avoid crime. When you wrote about your neighborhood before, it sounded like you loved it so much. It would be a shame to move.

Suse said...

You are to be alone for 5 days with three boys?

I am about to be alone for 5 weeks, with three boys.

Much eggnog will have to be consumed if I am to survive.

PS. word verif is gqntsel, which is the sibling Hansel and Gretel never talk about.

BabelBabe said...

to be fair, he does not wear priest garb. apparently episcopalians don't require it.

and suse, I love the hansel and gretel sibling - it made me laugh out loud.