Apartment Life

by Lisa on March 14, 2024

The train whistle blows. A car door slams. The seat belt warning in the car below beeps three times. The train whistle blows again. A car rushes by. Train whistle. Snoring in the apartment above. Train. Car. Train. Snoring. Train. Meanwhile someone’s annoying rap music plays the same beat over and over — and over it all. It sounds like the same stinkin’ song and same stinkin’ beat over and over. “Ug! Shut up!” I want to yell. My brain is now awake and on.

I grab my phone and look at the clock. It’s 3:02 am.

Welcome to noise of modern day apartment living. Communal living. A constant barrage and cacophony of sound.

I really just wish the music would stop. The rest of it…I think I could tune it out…I think. But that music! I want to run out of the apartment and hunt Mr. Music Man down. “Please, Music Man,” I would say, “turn that crap off. It is past 3:00 am and some of us want to sleep without your beat pounding in our ears and in our heads.”

It stops. Maybe he heard my silent rant.

Praise God!

Oh wait. New song. Same beat. Different tune, or is it? I strain to hear. Internal chat activates again. “Really?” I think. “What in the world is Music Man doing at 10 minutes over 3:00 am listening to that stuff? Cleaning the house? Playing video games? Cooking? Come on. Doesn’t Music Man know most people LIKE to sleep in the middle of the night?”

Talking now in the apartment above. Song two stops and a new song starts. A dog barks. “Brain refocus! Ears off!”


3:20 am. Brain pivots. I realize it is my birthday and I am officially a senior citizen. I also realize I am too old for 20 something apartment living. Get me back to my senior abode aka my quiet room in my quiet house on my quiet street.


The music has stopped. The upstairs taking has stopped. Snoring is quiet. No train. I hear frogs. Brain screams, “Quick! Put down the phone. Roll over. Put a pillow over your head (just in case). Close your eyes. Go back to sleep while you can. Hurry!”

“Thank you Music Man,” I silently whisper. “Thank you for shutting off that rot that you think is music. If I could find you right now, I would hug you. You just gave me the best birthday present ever!” Silence — minus the frogs — and it is now only 3:34 am.



Snow Days

by Lisa on January 15, 2024

Circa 2011 or 2012: The back door opens. In tromps a kid. Gloves off. Hat off. Shoes off. Coat and pants into a heap on the floor. The snow gear forms a jagged peak of a wet clothes pile with water pooling around its base. Kid number one shuffles off to the bathroom.

The back door opens again. Kid number two bursts in—all the while rapidly relaying to whoever is listening the details about the snowman they are all trying to build in the back yard. Hat off. Gloves off. Shoes off. Coat and pants added to the mound on the floor. Kid number two wants hot chocolate and to warm up.

Back door opens up for the third time. In rolls number three. This kid wants to know where her siblings are and when they are coming back outside. When she hears about the possibility of hot chocolate she follows the same predictable pattern of the former two: Hat off. Gloves off. Shoes off. Coat and pants hucked to the ever-growing snowy, soggy stack.

I walk over and pick up the pile of soaked snow clothes and turn around to head to the dryer. With a heave ho, all articles of clothing are tossed in the dryer and the dryer is turned on high. Back in the kitchen, I turn toward the stove—pour the milk in the pan, add the chocolate, and begin to stir. I glance over at the puddle that was left where the clothes had been lying. I grab an old towel, and throw it down on the floor; smack on top of the puddle. I leave the towel in place. No need to pick it up as I know that this routine of going in and out and clothes being taken off an on is going to be repeated over and over throughout the day.

We hear a knock at the front door. The kids run excitedly to see who is on the other side. It’s the neighbors from Sunnyside—the south street over. Mom and kids pad in. Gloves off. Hats off. Shoes off. Coats and pants get draped over chair this time. Below the chair another puddle forms. I retrieve another old towel and throw it on the floor near the door. Barely done with the mop up  and there is another knock at the door. More neighbors. These neighbors are from Hoover Lane—one street over on the north side of our home. My kids are beyond thrilled. More kids! More kids squealing about snow. More kids hugging each other and jumping around. More kids looking for a snow-day adventure.

More kids also means more hats and gloves and shoes and pants and coats…oh my! And, more puddles. I grab another towel and throw it on the ground.

The kids, all at once, begin to plot and plan about snowmen and sledding and snow angels. We moms start talking about the weather, and coffee, and food. I look in my pantry and in the fridge. I seem to have plenty of  milk and eggs and flour and butter. I also have strawberries and chocolate sauce. I have bananas and lemons. All prime ingredients necessary for a good batch of crepes. The two thin Revere copper-bottom pans are placed on the burners in prep for incoming crepe batter. I grab the mixing bowl and dump the crepe ingredients in. With this many kids and moms, only a triple batch of crepe batter will do. With the long butane-filled utility lighter, I turn the burner on and hover the lighter just above it.  With a woosh, the stove lites. I add a generous amount of butter into the the pan. The butter melts and then I pour in some of the batter. Quickly, I pick up the pan and roll the liquid batter around. More batter goes into the second butter-filled pan. While I work on the crepes and the coffee, one friend is cutting up the fruit and the other starts to set the table. The cacophony of sound and the rabble-rousing from the kids and my mom-friends company and help brings me much joy. So grateful for these women. So grateful for these kids. So grateful for this moment. I rest in that gratefulness and soak it into my mind’s eye.

Flash forward to the last few days.

The back door opens. I can see the snow and the ice, and like a bullet train, bursts, or should I say bulldozes, our black two year old Springer Spaniel/Golden Retriever mix. His feet are wet and and his fringe has a bit of snow stuck around the bottom of his legs. I lurch for his collar and pull him backwards. I grab one paw at a time and wipe it down with an old towel. When he has been properly wiped I let go and call for Mia — our twelve year old mixed mut. She saunters over to the door and I hook her up on the cable and then close the door. While she does her business outside, I flip on the electric tea kettle to get the water brewing. Pulling down the coffee filters and the coffee, I turn and glance out the window to look for Mia. I can’t see her but she knocks on the back door to let me know she wants in. I grab the towel, undo her cable, wipe her feet, and let her in. She meanders over to the couch and hops on. I yell at her to get off (which she reluctantly does) and then I head back into the kitchen. David is still sleeping. The heat kicks on. The sound of the heater and the teapot are the only sounds in the house. Coffee made, I wander over to the couch and reach for my pink fleece blanket and the phone. The heater kicks off.

Silence. So still. So quiet.

On my phone I start scrolling Facebook and an older archived snow-day image pops up. This image is older than the one in my mind’s eye. This image  has three very little kids on a sled. Jonathan sits at the front crying with a binkie in his mouth. Isabelle sits in the middle with her crinkled brows that pinch her face into  a worried look. She has a forced half-smile like she is troubled about what’s ahead. Sophia sits at the back of the sled with her “cheese” smile. Sitting off to the side right next to Sophia is Mowgli—our first fur-baby that we added the year after we got married. Mowgli is the only one that looks like that is ready for snowy adventure.

“Wow! How things have changed,” I think from the comfort of my couch. It does not seem like THAT long ago. But, now I am sitting in a still house. A quiet house. And, while I am grateful for this new season, and this stillness, I have to admit I do long for the days bygone—of rowdy, excited kids in the house making piles on the floor. I long for puddles at the doors and chatter bursting all around. I would love to make food for a house full of people on a snow day. I miss the crazy. I miss the chaos. I miss the camaraderie. I miss my kids.

So…to all you young mamas out there…The moral of this story is: the days may be long, the pools of water on the floor may be annoying, the chaos may be overwhelming, but the years are short. Enjoy your brood—today and everyday—snow puddles and all!



July 24, 2017

“It’s a girl!” Those three simple words of December 23, 2000 changed our lives forever. I knew from the very beginning that our job description was to love, to nurture, and to care for this sweet little baby we named Isabelle. I knew too that we were to grow, guide, and steer her. The thing [...]

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Tuesday: Time to go

March 11, 2014

Death is one of those Grand Canyon moments in life like marriage or having a baby. No matter how hard you try, once you’ve crossed to the other side of the gorge, you can’t go back.  The path you’ve walked on down into the canyon, and through the canyon, seems to  have disappeared just as [...]

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Sunday: The Day After

March 9, 2014

Life, I’ve decided, is like chasing rising smoke. You reach out to grasp it and for one moment you think you’ve caught it in your hand and then you watch as it dissipates right through your fingers. Laying here on the couch there is mostly silence except for the periodic roar of the heater and [...]

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Saturday: Her Final Hours

March 8, 2014

This time the sound is not so pleasant. As a matter of fact it’s horrible. Extra torture to the soul. Her breathing has become even more labored. More difficult. She is working hard. So hard. Each breath requires a major effort. And though she is still lucid and able to say what she wants and [...]

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Friday Night

March 7, 2014

A sudden, and unexpected, warm rush of comforting and happy childhood memories fill the house. Over the din of the machine I hear it. I close my eyes and for a moment I forget my present place. I go back to my girlhood days and nights in this house listening to that sound. Loving that [...]

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Thursday Night: Realization

March 6, 2014

The sound of the big, blue machine in the corner is all too familiar. A constant humming coupled with the in and out of a fireplace baffle. It would be pitch black in the room were it not for the light streaming in through open doorway while the hall light has been intentionally left on. [...]

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November 10, 2013

I hear a soft rustle at the front of the store. “Hi. I’d like to adopt a cat,” the cheerful voice says. The clerk behind the counter replies in a monotone voice, “Oh…well…uh…we have to have a manager around to do that.” “Okay. Great. Can you get one?” Cheerful asks. More rustling. “Uhhh…no,” says Monotone [...]

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Anything to Avoid Cleaning the House

July 7, 2013

A tidy house is a beautiful thing for me. The problem with a tidy house, however, is twofold: I don’t enjoy cleaning. I live in a house of five pigs. Now to some of you those two things may be easy enough to overcome. Start a cleaning schedule. Develop a routine. Get everyone to pick [...]

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