Category Archives: Rejected Shouts and Murmurs

Your Pet Sitting Welcome Guide

Hello fellow member of!  You were chosen among the 10,000 applicants willing to exchange two-weeks “free” lodging in my Manhattan apartment for providing care to my lovely kitties aka “my beloved children.” Thank you, City Council for banning Airnb!

I hope you enjoy everything New York has to offer and get to experience life here as a native.  Just remember, the cats get anxious so try not to leave them alone for too long.  Twenty minutes trips to the bodega are fine! 

First, let me tell you about the building. This is a New York City coop. You probably don’t have coops where you are from, but if you are from Eastern Europe and remember a time before the fall of the  Berlin Wall, you might have some idea.

We are a community. It is important to speak to your temporary neighbors  in the elevator. This will establish that you are someone who understands the culture, and knows that New Yorkers are as friendly as any other people! Please remember to be vague about details of your visit. Just tell them you are my guest. Do not mention that I’m actually out of town as this could be considered an illegal sublet or Airbnb-type arrangement and I will be banished forever. If anybody comes to the door looking for me during the day, tell them I am sitting in the car because of alternate side parking. If it is evening, tell them I am out looking for a “good” space for tomorrow.  No one will question these explanations! 

This is a pet friendly building, but there is a two pet limit.  So under no circumstances are you to reveal the actual number of cats currently residing in my apartment. (Besides, it’s kitten season and I wasn’t able to get everyone fixed, so I’m not even sure what that number is!) 

If you are accidentally locked out of the apartment, please do not contact management, but instead knock on Betty’s door — 12C.   Betty has an extra set of keys, possibly for everyone who has ever lived here.  Do not under any circumstances enter Betty’s apartment even if she invites you in and asks you to help her find the keys. Betty has some clutter issues, and we cannot be responsible for your safety in her apartment! Also, nobody has seen Betty’s husband for years and we don’t want to put you — our  guest — in an awkward position.

I know you are a digital nomad and will be working during the day.  It’s generally quiet except for the sound of the grand piano and accordion in the apartment directly below mine. Unfortunately, the pianist has “a right to practice” and his parents are both lawyers, so there isn’t much you can do. Usually, I go over to the radiator and scream, “God he sucks,” just to get it out of my system.  Don’t say it more than once or he could sue us for harassment! Then I ask Alexa to turn on the white noise. Your choices are ocean waves — no loops, summer rain,  rain on tin roof, or Amazon rainforest. Enjoy! Note: I also left earplugs by the bed! 

From time to time neighbors may leave  missives. These are typed or occasionally handwritten notes left under everyone’s door. This is just a way some of us communicate. These may be signed, unsigned, or signed in all caps or crayon.  Here is a passage from something we got last week:   “Fellow and Sister Cooperators:  The current board is filled with faux-socialists who can’t wait to dance on our graves! We must lower the fliptax from the untenable 25% which is making our apartments unsellable. Anyone who disagrees with this statement is planning to buy up apartments at estate sales and vote to lower the flip taxes after we are gone. Then they will flip our apartments for the millions they are actually worth!  They are running dogs who deserve death and yes I am talking about you, Larry, Mr. Big Shot, Board President!”  Please feel free to place any such missives in  recycling unless they are written on tissue or toilet paper,  in which case throw them down the chute. 

Laundry: We are not permitted to have private washing machines and dryers in our apartment. There are washers and dryers in the basement. I left a laundry card for you. Your clothes should be safe while they are in the machines, but please do not leave anything valuable unattended in the laundry room, including the shopping cart. Especially the shopping cart. In fact, keep your hands on the cart at all times! (If you happen to see a large red cart with my initials on the handle, please bring it back to me even if the white haired woman with the support socks insists it is hers.)  The laundry is open from 6:00 AM to midnight, except every second Tuesday when it closes for “reasons” in the afternoon, also the third and fourth Thursday, and sometimes Mondays.  It is still customary to wear KN95 masks in the laundry room and elevators and maintain social distance. Failure to do so will result in accusations that you are “Trying to kill us all so you can dance on our graves and buy our apartments cheap before lowering the flip tax.”

Finally, as for cat care: The cats graze on dry food. There are bowls in every room. Just replenish them. And by all means use filtered water.  The litter boxes also need to be scooped at least once a day. Simple!  However, we recently got a new foster who is staying in the second bedroom. Please keep that door shut and locked. Use the special feeding chute we had installed. Feed him 10 pounds of thawed raw chicken or horse meat  three times a day. Just press the green button to open the chute. Put the food and water on the tray. Close the chute and press the orange button to open the inner chute and push out the food. Don’t worry about the litter pan! He actually goes in the ensuite bath tub and we’ll deal with the mess when we get home. Seriously, don’t go in there or open the door under any circumstances. We’ve left some air freshener if it gets a little funky! 


Practicing for the Afterlife

(Some people never learn. My new hobby is submitting to the New Yorker’s Shouts and Murmurs. The following piece was promptly rejected so I’m posting it here. Stay tuned for future rejected “humor.”) 

I. Go to your favorite social media site. Not the one that limits the number of words you can use. Go to the site where you can use all the words. Find a topic that interests you. Write a long heartfelt reply to a post, a reply that will save humanity. Delete it without posting because nothing you say matters, and no one can hear you when you’re dead.

II. At the end of yoga class when everyone is lying down in shavasana and the teacher announces you are all welcome to stay there as long as you’d like, stay there as long as you can. How long? Start with a few minutes a day and work up to forever.

III. Shhhhh. Stay silent at social events and all other opportunities. Do not speak except to avoid “the drama.”  Passively take in what others say.. Make only the slightest nods and gestures, and these only so the person speaking will feel heard and not say, “Dude, are you even listening?”  Do not display emotion. Be like Spock.  You are a tree or better a stone, a slab that people would stare into at a graveyard barely taking in the letters etched in the middle as they ramble to their dear departed.

IV. Declutter: Your stuff is not coming with you.  Burn it, bury it, throw it away, or give it to someone who will use or enjoy it.  Note: The person who will enjoy it is NOT your neighbor, Shirley. She is a hoarder!  Leaving it for her is just cruel. Just put it in the dumpster and maybe on the way, knock on Shirley’s door and ask if she has anything you can take for her. 

V. Move into a small modest dwelling, preferably made of wood or something biodegradable. Do not furnish: Okay, you can get one IKEA cube – no hacks, unless you put fancy boxes in so it looks like above-ground vaults. Sleep on a futon mattress close to the ground.  No pillows! Maybe a little pillow that raises your head at a slight angle as it would in an open casket burial, but only if you are into that sort of thing. 

VI. Live as simply as you can. Eat and drink only enough to survive. No processed foods — and then cut back until you note a look of terror in the eyes of your co-workers. Avoid alcohol but most especially avoid frivolous alcoholic drinks with double-entendre names and frilly umbrellas. There are no “wet pussy shots” on the other side!

VII. Try turning the other cheek. Not in a sectarian way, but because when have you seen a corpse throw a punch?  Don’t just avoid physical confrontation, avoid all confrontation and conflict. You really don’t have to yell at the asshole who is shaking a fist at you for stopping short, so you wouldn’t hit the meth head in the wheelchair pushing a shopping cart followed by a dog on a rope.  You are all meat puppets who will be desiccated bodies soon enough including the dog.  Note: Do not remind the asshole of this or you will be a desiccated body sooner. Besides, God spelled backwards is dog, and you never know, so good on you for not running over a possible deity!  Also you’re the one with the broken tail light.  And why do you still even own a car?

VIII. Move again to an even more modest dwelling or possibly, wander to practice for when your ashes are scattered if that’s your wish.  Leave no forwarding address.  Do this regardless of whether or not the asshole whose car you bumped is still stalking you.  Give your cash away. Cut up your credit cards. Take only what is offered and never ask for anything because the dead ask for nothing.

IX. Make a written account of all the motherfuckers who have screwed you over and you want to tell off. Include everyone from the random lady who wouldn’t move her bag and let you sit on the A train that time you were really tired, to your siblings, exes, and friends. Burn the list without confronting anyone. Be content in the knowledge that they, like you, are going to die.  Really, is there anything you have to say that’s more of a zinger than living under the wrath of a capricious God who could strike anyone down at any moment? Dying is easier when you simply no longer give a fuck, which is the point of these exercises. Cultivating not caring  is the best preparation for a peaceful eternal rest. If you’re still not over your rage at how you were betrayed, abused, lied to, disrespected, and definitely not mom’s favorite,  try ranting in front of a mirror. Don’t you look tough! That was sarcasm. You look like a crazy person. Throw some cold water on your face, shut up about everything forever, and move on. 

X. Now that you have cultivated the nonchalance of a cadaver, turn off the lights (if you still have electricity) and lie down on your futon or directly on the ground.  Rest your hands over your chest, take a deep breath like it was your last, and have a nice nap. If you’re lucky, you won’t ever have to get up!