Author Archives: zenzalei

About zenzalei

Writer with a bird. Or, more accurately, bird with a writer.

Fellini’s Fumes

One week from today the Verizon guy will be in my new apartment installing services. My furniture and rugs will be in place, my accent walls will be freshly painted,* most of my things will be unboxed and put away, and the nightstands will be on the way. I will spend my second night in the new place with hot chocolate, looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows at whatever view awaits me, and just existing.

I keep conjuring scenarios like that in my head because I am thisclose to a nervous breakdown with my current apartment. Nope, not the pool renovation, which is still not finished and won’t be for months.

Nope, no Hoffa yet. Just a lot of dirt and stagnant water.

Today it was fumes. Horrible, throat-burning fumes that made my eyes water and Inigo start sneezing. Contractors were refinishing some cabinets a few doors down and the incompetent fools who manage this building didn’t tell anyone.

For those who don’t know, fumes like that can kill a bird quickly and easily. If I had not been home to move him into the bedroom, he’d be dead. And the landlord now knows that, in no uncertain terms. In fact, my words were, “So help me if he dies because of this just a few days before I move out when I could have gotten a pet-sitter, the litigation will be glorious.”

I’m not the only one who is pissed about this. I heard someone on my floor on the phone earlier today, and they were tearing a new orifice in someone, boy howdy. The snippets I caught were sheer fury. “…I don’t CARE…NO you may NOT…should have let us KNOW…get your training from a bubble-gum machine…service is TERRIBLE…not one problem it’s ANOTHER…” and the piece that redoubled my own ire, “…BECAUSE OF MY DOG, YOU IDIOT.”

And therein lies the heart of it. Do not mess with the health of your tenants’ pets.


The Glare. Would you mess with this? I wouldn’t.

All I know is that every day brings a brand new problem. We’ve already had fires and floods out the yin-yang. Mold. Rust. Mice. Trash chutes backed up to the seventh floor. What will tomorrow bring? A plague of locusts from the basement? Fellini couldn’t make this up.

Best part is that we all got an email yesterday.

Dear Residents:

In our spirit of continuous improvement, we are pleased to announce the next chapter of community enhancements. As you may be aware, we completed a refresh of the hallways and elevator lobbies throughout the building, began the pool renovation project, installed a package room and replaced the roof top HVAC Units.

The next round of improvements, to start in early 2021, will include [snip] Main Lobby, Leasing Office, Fitness Center, Resident Lounge.

With a project of this magnitude, we anticipate that there will be questions throughout the process, and we do realize this will create temporary disruptions within in these areas. We have given careful consideration to our residents in the planning of this project to ensure safe work practices in are bring upheld and to reduce the impact on you as much as possible. You will receive frequent communications from us, most often by email. These notifications will contain important information, so we urge you to carefully read all notices.

Construction is anticipated to begin in January of 2021 and is expected to end in the Fall of 2021. Additional project details including renderings, programming and dates will be communicated as we get closer to the commencement of the project.

BWAH HA HA HA HA HA HA! You mean they way they communicated about the pool and about today’s work? Good luck with finishing by next autumn. Long before the pandemic, it took them a year and a half to do the hallways and hall carpets, during which time we were left for nearly a year with no baseboards and no coverings over the lights so the place looked right out of The Shining. The parts were “on back order” and enough people complained that they put the old light coverings back on until the new ones arrived. The baseboards are plastic and are already warping enough for another tenant to post a photo on Yelp, and you know how the pool project, which was supposed to be completely finished with the pool winterized by November 30, is going.

Oh, am I bitching too much?

Before the pandemic, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in my building was $2,400 a month.

I rest my case.

*Sherwin Williams Honorable Blue on the dining area wall, Dewberry for the door, for the curious.

Year-End Q & A

Saw this on another site I frequent.

What did you do in 2020 that you’d never done before?

Let my roots get to two inches long.

Did you stick to any resolutions? Are you making any for 2021?
I don’t remember what resolutions I made last year, but for 2021, my goal is to work on myself and remove negative forces and people from my life.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
No one close to me, but my niece did.

Did anyone close to you die?
No, thank goodness.

What countries did you visit?
Not a one.

What would you like to have in 2021 that you lacked in 2020?
Peace and quiet. The pool renovation project outside my window that was supposed to be finished on November 30 is nowhere near done. That is one reason among many that I am moving.

What date(s) from 2020 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
March 13. That was the last day the staff worked in the office before the organization went to telecommuting for the pandemic. November 7, when AP called the election for Biden. People in my neighborhood were all cheering, hooting and hollering, banging pots and pans, and rejoicing in general.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Not telling someone what I think of her. Seriously. It was a monumental effort at times.

What was your biggest failure?
Telling someone else what I do think of her. She wasn’t worth the thumb-typing.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
Except for the erythromelalgia flare, not really, no. My back bugs me once in a while, but that’s life.

What was the best thing you bought?
A new mattress and box spring. Been sleeping better.

Whose behavior merited celebration?
Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and all the people who marched peacefully in the BLM protests. Not gung-ho about the bad apples who resorted to vandalism, but the vast majority of demonstrators kept it peaceful.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Tangerine Mussolini and the Wicked Witch of the West Wing. Appalled and outraged, though, not depressed. What is depressing is that so many people thought that asshat had something to offer this country and got on board with his hate machine. I am also appalled by the Karens and Chads splattered all over YouTube, the ones throwing tantrums about wearing masks or going on racist rants. I’m not naive by a long shot—in fact, I’m naturally a bit of a cynic—but I lost a lot of faith in humanity this year. Not sure I’ll ever get it all back.

Where did most of your money go?
Aside from living expenses, probably games and other sources of home entertainment.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Biden winning. (Do you see a pattern here?) Moving.

Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
Neither, but I am more aggravated and annoyed.

What do you wish you’d done more of?
Tarot, journaling, writing fiction and poetry, exercise, proper nutrition.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
Social media. Getting back to that resolution for 2021, I’m going to be a lot less present on Facebook. Already reined it in. Call it the triumph of cynicism, but I’ve come to realize that I just don’t care for most people’s opinions on anything, and there is a lot of rage-inducing ignorance and bullshit on there that ultimately isn’t worth so much as a skim. Debate me when you know the difference between your and you’re, its and it’s, and there, their, and they’re. If English is your first language and you’re an adult but you’ve yet to master fourth-grade grammar, I can’t take what you say about science, interpersonal dynamics, the economy, foreign relations, and philosophy seriously. Maybe that’s arrogant of me to say, but literacy is a good thing.

Tonight, he dines in HELL!

Did you fall in love in 2020?

What was your favorite TV program?
Versailles. The Medici series. Binged all of Breaking Bad, also outstanding.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate is such a strong word, so no. However, I have come to regard a few people with disdain and distaste.

What was the best book you read?
Mistress of Rome, by Kate Quinn, the first in her series about Rome. The whole series was great!

What did you want and get?
A release from my lease. A week from today I will be moving. Cannot wait!

What did you want and not get?
Six winning numbers.

What was your favorite film of this year?
I don’t know if I watched any 2020 releases.

What did you do on your birthday?
Nothing. I stopped giving a rat’s arse about my birthday years ago.

What would have made 2020 better?
We could have done without the pandemic.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2020?
Yoga pants, tank top, flannel sweater, bare feet, no make-up.

What kept you sane?
Books, binge-watching TV, games, jigsaw puzzles, journaling, writing here, exercise, telling my bird exactly what I thought of the people who irritated me. Also, an acoustic series by one of my favorite bands, Poets of the Fall, really helped. It gave me something reliable and consistently beautiful and good to look forward to every month.

Here’s one of my favorites, which blew me away because the original is reminiscent of mid- to late-80s dance synth. I like this one better. It’s a mood.

Who did you miss?
Friends, the people in a city explorers group I belong to.

Was 2020 a good year for you?
Not really, and not because of the pandemic, although some of the things that made me miserable are indirectly related to the pandemic. For example, I might not have had to deal with the absolutely absurd amount of construction noise in my apartment building while trying to work at home if so many people hadn’t moved out because of job loss or classes going remote, thus giving the landlord the opportunity to renovate a bunch of units at once. Not sure if they would have renovated the pool regardless, though I suspect that contractor desperation factored into the decision.

Also, some people need to get a grip on their anxiety and either learn how to manage it or seek help in doing so, instead of putting it out into the universe so that it affects those around them or foisting it on other people as though it’s their responsibility to relieve that anxiety. I dealt with a lot of that this year, and not for nothing, but my compassion stops short when it comes to people using things that happened to them 20, 30, 40, even 50 or 60 years ago to justify poor behavior now. Quite frankly, I think that’s a manipulative, childish, selfish, and shitty thing to do. I remind myself, again and again, that how other people react to things or manage their anxiety is on them and I can only manage my own reactions. But that doesn’t mean I don’t grow weary and resentful of having to do so in the first place, particularly in situations where I can’t just walk away from someone. Not going to lie: Sometimes I want to tell a few people to grow the hell up and deal with it.

What was your favorite moment of the year?
See Biden, above.

What was your least favorite moment of the year?
Having to push back on various and sundry for the sake of my own well-being. There were a lot of those moments this year as well. It blows my mind how much I had to defend my boundaries, my personal space, and the sanctuary of home at a time when increased boundaries, personal space, and time at home are basically being forced upon everyone. I guess some people just have such an immense need to try to control others that when they can’t, they push even harder. The parrying is exhausting, and lemme tellya, that’s going to change in 2021, too.

Where were you when 2020 began?

Who were you with?
My bird, Inigo.

Where will you be when 2020 ends?

Who will you be with when 2020 ends?

Did you break up with anyone in 2020?

Did you make any new friends in 2020?
Nope, though I made a few acquaintances.

What was your favorite month of 2020?
This will sound terrible because it was during the peak of the first wave of the pandemic, but May. I loved sitting out on my balcony with Inigo, chilling with snacks and a book. May is a great month in the D.C. area, warm but not hot, and no bugs yet.

How many concerts did you see in 2020?

Did you drink a lot of alcohol in 2020?

Did you do a lot of drugs in 2020?
I don’t do drugs. They rot your brain and destroy your health. I have seen entirely too many lives ruined when people who dabbled in recreational use got addicted. No thanks.

What was your proudest moment of 2020?
I don’t know if this is pride, but it did feel good when some of the sources I interviewed for various articles said they loved my work.

What was your most embarrassing moment of 2020?
I didn’t have any. It’s hard to be embarrassed about anything when you’re not around other people.

If you could go back in time to any moment of 2020 and change something, what would it be?
It would be the moment Trump decided to disregard the burgeoning pandemic and instead chose to bullshit his way through it. I mean, I can see why he did it—he has his head up his arse about public health (among other things) and has no earthly clue about leading for the greater good, so it was easier for him to stick his head in the sand and downplay it. But a lot of people died unnecessarily because the U.S. government didn’t take a strong position and lead in a bold and innovative way, and the responsibility for that rests squarely on his shoulders. I consider his behavior throughout the pandemic to be a crime against humanity.

What songs will remind you of 2020?
See the aforementioned acoustic series by Poets of the Fall.

What are your plans for 2021?
I’m going to gather my resources and move on in myriad ways. (She blathered cryptically.)

Feathering the Nest

Overstock, Wayfair, Sherwin-Williams, Bed Bath & Beyond. This is my life now.

But it’s all coming together. I have my bedroom furniture picked out. I just need to call Wayfair to see if I can have it delivered to my new place all at once, as the website is showing me different dates for different items, some before the move, some after the move.

Working on figuring out the new bath set. Still not sure what color scheme I want, as I’m starting with a maple finish on the cabinetry and then it will be a white finish after the renovation. I currently have the Avanti Gilded Birds shower curtain, but it has seen better days, as have the towels I bought to go with it. The mats are right out. The rubber tore under the bath mat about a month ago and I actually have it stapled together, as I knew I was getting new stuff for the new place. Good grief.


I’m running out of “new” colors for my bathrooms. I’ve had ruby red, sea foam green, peach, dusty purple, lavender, and now this tan and gold.

Nope, not blue, as my current loveseat is navy and one wall in the dining room will be blue. Nope, not gray, as my duvet cover is gray as will be my bedroom area rug. Decisions, decisions. Something with birds or nature of some sort, to be sure.

In the meantime, I ordered a couple of area rugs. Nothing too expensive because of a little green pooping machine.

Right after a major splat on the kitchen floor. Sometimes he surprises himself with his own output.


Anyway, I got a 6 ‘ x 9’ for the bedroom…


And a 5′ x 8′ for the living room…


That rug is all kinds of Weaveworld, but it will go with my current loveseat and leave me with plenty of color options for my next sofa, whenever that will be. I will have color!

I got both rugs on Overstock, with free shipping, estimated delivery before Christmas. I’m just going to leave them rolled up to make it easy for the movers.

Is Christmas really a week from tomorrow? It has been a long, difficult year, and yet it feels like Christmas snuck up on me. Weird.