Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Neighborhood News

Well, my big pirate boy is enrolled in kindergarten, hallelujah. He thinks that means he can start going to class right away, but I think I've managed to explain that he's a new student and has to wait until the old students are done. That'll hold him a while. After he turns 5 this June, though, we're going to have to arrange some serious distractions and possibly a team of wild horses to keep him away.

Unfortunately, the local school is still overcrowded, understaffed, and full of blooming idiots, not all of whom are students. Because our local school sucks so badly, we have the option of petitioning to transfer our kids to a better one. Unfortunately, the whole district is overcrowded because the people in charge like to play Monopoly with the money rather than, say, build a new school when a couple dozen new developments go up within a few years... So now there's a crisis, and nobody wants our kids. Fine. Anyway, we won't know whether our kids are allowed to transfer until a week after school starts in the fall. And what would be in it for the other school, after all? After we've paid our registration fees and our kids have brought in a year's worth of supplies to one school, why would the other school just take them without any kickback? Tax money, I guess. Like they'd get any from us, or anyone else in our neighborhood.

Have I told you about our neighborhood? I probably shouldn't, in case someone was thinking of buying our house, which is technically still for sale although we're not actually going to sell it until we have permission to move. So, like, in another 8 years or so. Anyway. Our neighborhood. I complain a lot that our house is small and we're so poor the mice bring us food, blah, blah, blah. This time, I'll just describe the area and you can figure it out for yourself. Directions to our house do not actually include the words, "Turn onto the dirt road." No, they include, "Go past the dirt road. Take the next left." They also include, "Go over the train tracks, past the storage place and the power station, and take the left across from the lumberyard." These directions usually start with something like, "You know the new Wal-Mart?" And we don't knock it, because that monstrosity probably raised our property value a good 8 grand all by itself. We have to make sure that the windows are closed whenever we have a showing, and at all costs, we don't have any showings after dark, 'cause the wind blows in from the sewage treatment plant, especially at night...

I hear the neighborhood's changed a bit since I've been down and out. Changed for the worse. A house on the next street has burned completely to the ground, according to my husband. I'm guessing it happened Monday night; nobody went out of this house yesterday because we were all sick. Monday night I didn't sleep much, although there didn't seem to be a good reason. I do recall at some point there were a lot of fire sirens. A lot of them. Probably more than we have fire engines in this town. But I thought I was just being cranky and delirious. I also recall that the night was bright. I lay awake for a while listening to the coyotes and wondering whether they were actually as close as they sounded. And why they were so close; it's not like we had a cold winter or anything. And hoping they were just coyotes. At about 4 in the morning, I dozed off and was awoken a few minutes later by the biggest, loudest conclave of seagulls that ever gathered east of the Rockies and west of the Mississippi. It sounded like a thousand of them were circling right over our backyard. But it could have been the next street over. It's only about 50 yards away. They kept it up for just ages. I lay in bed wondering what all the fuss was about, then I rolled over and saw the moon. It was blazing down in kind of a pink haze. (And no, my curtains are green.) Like noonday sun oozing through the clouds just before the hurricane hits. But I don't think there were any clouds this time. There was a horrible smell, but that's normal for this place. My husband reports that there were two burned-out cars that seemed to have been driven into the living room of the house on the next street. Even terrorists don't usually use two.

This neighborhood has only been around for 5 years and hardly has any of the original owners left. I once bumped into some prospective buyers of our neighbor's house, and they asked what I thought of the neighborhood. I said, "Well, it's a good place to start." They didn't buy the house. Some friend of a wanted criminal did. Just who you want next door.

And all this can be yours for only $175,000! Such a deal...

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