Tag Archives: neighbors

Pocket Park Politics

I can’t lie – there were some, um, “relationship dynamic challenges”  that occurred in the highrise we called home during the majority of our urban days.

You can’t share that many common amenities (and walls,) and never have even a minor disagreement.  Goodness knows there is always that one busybody who LOVES to tattle on the person using the elevator to move furniture without the fire key; and in the city there is bound to be a group of renter kids who seem hell-bent on having one of their Coors Light bottles end up broken in the bottom of the pool if someone doesn’t parent them into less stupidity (yeah that was me,  because don’t jeopardize my pool time.  Like ever.)

Still I have to say that in spite of the barking dogs, squawking parrots, the  occasional waft of weed in the HVAC vents, the creepy dude who threw weird parties on the 2nd floor that STARTED at like 3am, and all of the other little annoyances that cropped up, most folks remained friendly and sort of just let everyone else live their lives without paying too much attention.

In the ‘burbs?  Not so much.

I have distinct memories of my mom leaning on the chain link fence of our childhood back yard, getting (and giving) the news of the neighborhood with the neighbor lady – which person was ticked at which other person for the dog that was going from yard to yard, impregnating the pedigreed masses of the female pooch population  (it really happened – actually our family dog was one of the puppies produced, but I digress,) or WHATEVER the buzz was up and down the block.

There were clicks, and almost fist-fights, and “I heard the Joneses DYED their lawn” type scandals enough to make it easy to understand exactly how the concept for Desperate Housewives came into being.

So last night when Jr and I drove into the subdivision to find a swarm of Police presence, I confess I was rubbernecking all over the pocket park trying to see what I could see.   I attempted to send The Mr out into the road to see if he could shake down neighbors passing by for the dirt (he was in comfy pants already, and having none of it. Party pooper.)

Then it occurred to me – seeing that kind of thing in our old ‘hood would barely have caused a sideways glance as I passed.  We lived in a nice area, but still, police activity was a normal occurrence there.  I might have popped out on to the patio to get a bird’s eye view of whatever was going down while sipping on my martini or something, but the concept of attempting to figure out what was up would never have crossed my mind.

Meanwhile, back in the present, here is “Suburban Keri” plotting to chase down the paper boy next Thursday at the crack of dawn to get a first look at the Enterprise Police Beat column.

Hell I full on tackled The Mr on the patio last summer to keep him from making any noise and alerting the neighbors arguing over a fence with each other to our eavesdropping presence. In contrast,  patio time in the city always involved a polite “here I am on the other side of that sheet metal wall” cough or throat clear so the guys next door didn’t get TOO romantic on the balcony over their late dinner with me practically sitting at the table with  them.

I can’t really figure out where the shift occurred – it seems like there was just so much EVERYTHING going on in the urban heart of it all, that no one really paid attention to almost anything.  Slow things down a bit in the subdivisions and soccer practices, and everyone kind of expects to have the whole damn scoop all the time.


No time to think about it now, I see my neighbor coming up the walk to get the bouquet the florist left with us in their absence…  going to brew some coffee, dig out the Kahlua, and see what’s up around the loop.

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Meanwhile, back at the clubhouse.

Since we can’t do ANYTHING half-ass, even chosing to live in the suburbs, we don’t just live in any subdivision.  We live in a sprawling behemoth of a mega subdivision, made up of lots (and I mean LOTS,) of smaller sections (sub-subdivisions?)  I have no clue what the correct term is, it’s foreign terminolgy to me, and I aim to actively attempt to keep it that way.  I’m convinced The Mr’s Texan upbringing kicked in when we were house hunting and he went with the “bigger is better” mentality when chosing a subdivision. That and the whole thing weaves around a golf course, and his country club upbringing makes him seek out golf courses like I seek a good brunch joint.

So a couple of times a year we get invites not only for events involving our little pocket neighborhood – we are in the smallest of the little sub-subdivisions, just an outer loop and an inner loop around a little “pocket park” as I was informed they are called, (see, you can’t UNlearn these words, people. ::cringe::)    On top of those events, there are also events for the entire ginormous sprawl of mega subdivision.  The two big ones being a 4th of July parade situation that we have avoided for 2 summers running now; and the annual holiday party at the golf course clubhouse.

This year I decided to suck it up and request 3 tickets (yep, it’s ticketed to keep out the riff raff, I guess,) to the latter.  The clubhouse is located midway between The Casa and my parents’ house, and it was a “NeNe Day” for Jr, so I decided I would request the early wave (oh yeah, they have to run the sucker in waves, like starting a race or touring an exhibit or something,) and we could just drop by and he would sit on Santa’s lap for a picture and we could call it a success.

Lol.   Lolololololololol.

Of course a wardrobe crisis took place, since I have no damn clue how to dress for ANYTHING out here, and am fully aware that I am “that one who wears an awful lot of black” to  other moms in the ‘hood.

Also,  it was cold as sin here last week.  I mean COLD.  As in – Keri cried a little during last weekend’s date night when getting into The Mr’s jeep after dinner, due to the dreaded FJS (Frozen Jeans Syndrome,  and don’t pretend you don’t know what it is.  It is hell.)   That kind of cold presents its own wardrobe issues, as you have to be warm in transport, and still able to deal with all the layers you might have to hang on to the entire time you revel. (But I digress. Horribly. As usual. )

Off we went, Jr in his tiny button-up shirt, and me in my casual-but-dressy tunic and completely impractical kicky booties (buried under giant coats, of course.)
The Mr chickened out completely. (Check mark in the “owes me one BIG TIME column, BTW.)

Inside the tastefully decorated clubhouse I pulled Jr off to the side, dislodged him from his winter layers, and stuffed them into my giant purse (hooray for the giant purse.)  I piled my coat on top of his and wedged the straps over my shoulder.

We got greeted and name-tagged and continued in the flow of people through the hall and into the great room.  The scene was one of complete and utter sensory overload – twinkly lights, holiday music, yummy smells rising from the containers of food as it was warmed by the sterno pots beneath the pan on the buffet.  But most of all the movement and noise and joy and bustle of kids.

Lots and lots of kids.

“SANTA!!!!”  Jr had spotted the man of the hour tucked into a corner by a ginormous Christmas tree. I surveyed the surroundings – families were shrugging off piles of coats and digging in to plates of food from the buffet at tables spread throughout the space, the line for Santa was only 2 deep.  I knew the second they all finished their meals, they would queue up for some lap time, so I maneuvered Jr into the line as fast as his 2.5 year old legs would go.  We chatted with the neighbors around us, and watched each child smiling and talking with Santa.   Secretly I was a little concerned that, much like riding the plastic horse at the supermarket or sitting in the airplane/firetruck/car thingy at the children’s haircut place, this was an experience he would be SUPER excited about in theory but totally freaked out by IRL.

However, after a moment of hesitation when his turn came, Jr climbed up on Santa’s lap, and informed him that he would like “presents” and that he was “2 years old” while I snapped pictures as fast as I could in the hope that one of the bajillion shots would be “the one.” (This is the true secret to kid photography – quantity. Take 50 pictures of every event, 3 will probably be keepers.)

Mission accomplished, right?  Except that by this time the yummy smells from the buffet were calling to both of us, and Jr was all “Cicken figgers now?”  Sure, what the hell, chicken fingers now, kiddo.  I steered him through the controlled chaos to the buffet and balanced a plate on my arm while using one eye to select some snacks and the other to watch him as he watched groups of older kids making merry in various ways around the room.   Plate full, I turned my attention to the seating situation. It had filled up completely.  The santa first plan had backfired!  Crap.

“Cickin figger mommy?”  The delightful smell of the plump, warm chicken pieces on our plate was weakening Jr’s toddler sense of reason.  We had to get some food into his tiny face pronto.  I found an out of the way corner and we plopped down on the floor in the glow of a group of battery-powered “candles,” and shared some chicken finger. (BTW – the. BEST. chicken finger. EVAH.  I don’t know what the hell they coated that chicken in, but damn it was tasty.)  Midway through his second finger, Jr caught sight of the cookie decorating station and chucked his chicken in my direction.

“CHRISTMASSSS COOOKEHHHHHH!!!!”  He was on his feet and heading toward the table.  In my haste I grabbed up my coat (spread out to sit on,) put it on, folded the paper plate up around the chicken, and not seeing any other place to put it, stuffed the package in the pocket of my puffy coat. (oh Keri.)

Off we went to the cookie decorating table, where Jr created a masterpiece “for daddy” and then one for himself, which he piled HIGH with green frosting.  I let him go nuts. What the hell, he is having fun, let him sugar it up this once.  I crafted a to-go container for “daddy’s cookie” out of more paper plates, pushed Jr’s coat aside in my purse, and secured the cookie package in the depths of the bag.

By then the seating had started to open up, and there was NO WAY that pile of green frosting was going to be protected by my paper plate constructions, so I asked ” want to eat your cookie here, Smoosh?”  Duh – toddler must. eat. cookie. ASAP.  Good deal.   On our way to a table I grabbed a glass of wine from the bar (Merry Christmas, momma Keri,) and we sat near the tree where Santa was still listening to wishlists of the subdivision kiddos, looking out the window over the golf course with its trees sparkling in white lights.  I watched Jr carefully flip his cookie over in his two little toddler hands, and slowly eat it all up – frosting side down.  (Smart kid.)

He got frosting on his nose.  We giggled.  We watched Santa and looked at the tree and sung “Jingle Bells” softly to each other while the chaos around us faded into a kind of background-y holiday hum.

He was happy, I was happy.  Eventually we piled on our layers and headed back out into the cold night.  It didn’t feel quite so cold as we crunched through the snowy parking lot to the M.U.V.

I survived the mega subdivision holiday gathering.

We came, we saw (Santa) and I came home with a really happy kid.   Not to mention a pocketful of chicken and a Christmas cookie in my purse.

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Oh THAT’S why he got me the robe.

So The Mr. bought me a big fluffy Vicky’s Secret robe for Christmas,
(Evidently the secret is that there actually is a section of clothing somewhere in the store that IS meant to cover girl parts. Who knew? )
I was confused. I am not really a robe kind of lady, to be honest.  I have lounge wear that is climate-appropriate, so extra layers aren’t needed.
I didn’t really get it, but gift-selection pressure is a bitch for me too, so I shrugged it off and slapped the robe on the hook in the master bath.
This morning I discovered the reason for a robe.

6th floor living- in a place that didn’t face another high-rise – made some things acceptable that, (as it turns out,) aren’t super-awesome ideas at ground level.
Like,  just as a totally real made up example, deciding to go get more coffee on a lazy holiday weekend morning as your bath fills. After you’ve shrugged out of the aforementioned climate-appropriate lounge wear.  Strutting across the living room at the front of the house. Blinds open. Neighbor dude, his son, and a couple buddies wrenching on the kid’s truck facing the GIANT windows.

Hello, sleepy little suburban circle. Nakey new-lady here.

NOT the nickname I want.

I’ll just go get my robe.

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