Avant Yarde

Last week was Seattle Night Out, a night where one is supposed to host a block party or a barbecue or some other such outdoorsy something in order to get to know your neighbors. I have always had grand dreams that when I owned a house I would be the sort of lady that would host such an event because it just seems all out of proportion saintly-like, does it not? The sort of saintly whereby you aren’t really doing anything that big, but yet not very many people like to do it, and so you can do something pretty meager (hummus dip and a boom box playing 90s hits by Lisa Stansfield or something) but yet be really contributing something to building community.

As I am typing I realize two things. I have now revealed to you that: (a) I probably don’t have a very good grasp of what the word “saint” means; and (b) in the deep recesses of my mind I think that party music = Lisa Stansfield. So there’s that.

I love to have people over, or, as Martha Stewart wants us to keep calling it: to entertain. And the best entertaining happens on a sunny summer day in one’s yard, right? However, I do it a whole hell of a lot less than I used to in the glory days of my youth because ever since we got our house, it is usually a construction zone much of the time in our yard. We are redoing one thing after another at the homestead from the day we moved in to right this very second and most likely on into unknown future years (omg it will never be over I swear to Charo), and we have decided that we are not going to do our yard and deck yet because we are still in a stage where we are tearing the shit out of the inside, and often we drag our house’s poor discarded innards through the yard to make unsightly piles (you’re welcome, neighbors!) and so we aren’t putting in fancy landscaping yet because it’s just going to get tromped on. Our motto: wait to do the landscaping until we’re done with the landscraping.

So! I cannot be the patron Saint of Neighborliness and Perpetual Barbecues right now. However, that’s ok because there are others in my neighborhood who will make the effort, namely our neighbors Sherry and Donna and their cutey son Elliot who live down the street from us. I had never met these folks before, at least in a for-realsies way that goes beyond smiling when we pass on the street, so I whipped up something for the potluck (well I bought a pan of brownies from Whole Foods) and my favorite neighbor (aka Biogirl) and I went. Nordic Boy was, as usual, out of town on biznazz. We met a lot of nice people and I put a lot of faces to names and I walked away with probably about 50% of the crowd thinking that Biogirl and I were a couple so that’s batting about average for us.

Here is my fear about my neighbors, ready? Let’s just get right into it. I fear that the neighbors are judging our yard. Because of the outflux of debris. And the landscraping. And the lack of landscaping.

This is the downside of moving into a cute neighborhood. You have to keep up with the cuteness! And we are not doing that, at least in the out-of-doors department. I am already mortified by our yard every time I approach it, and being in a party surrounded by every last one of my neighbors? Even though they are very nice people? I wanted to keep apologizing for my yard to every person I met.

“Hi I’m PCL, I think I have seen you in the bookstore a bunch of times and I’ve always meant to say hello. Great to meet you. Sorry about my whole yard thing. Really. Just, sorry.”

Part of the reason I feel like this is because when we first moved in, our house was a serious wreck. It was unkempt, unloved, and needed a new…everything. We like to say that we are not remodeling our house, nor are we renovating it, but rather, we are rehabbing it. It was Keith Richards when we bought it and we are Benjamin Buttoning that shit as hard as we can. Hopefully we can get it to a place where it will age a la Dick Clark, is the goal. Anyway, so when we first moved in the main thing we had to do was just clean a bunch of stuff out to make it livable. When we did this? The neighbors fell deeply in love with us. The eyesore house on our street was being cared for! Looky looky! People came over to us as we left or arrived each day and congratulated us. You are doing such a great job! We are so happy someone is here to save this house!

That lasted for the first year. And yes, the house looks a jillion times better than it did. But we are not done yet, not by a long shot, and the neighbors…I don’t know…I feel like I can hear their whispers through the trees, so soft, so ghostly…and they say…WHAT THE FUCK IS TAKING YOU SO LONG?

I don’t know. Maybe they are still on our side, and all of this agida is just because of my own stuff. But there is agida. And so neighbors who were at the party last night, I promise you: when we are done with these shenanigans, we will have you all over for a barbecue of our own. And I promise you pleasant surroundings, and good food, and Lisa Stansfield.

But for now, there is a pile of old ducts in our front yard, to be taken to the home recycle place this weekend. Sorry. Please accept these Whole Foods brownies as a peace offering.


  1. agidaThe word you've entered isn't in the dictionary. Click on a spelling suggestion below or try again using the search bar above.1.Egadi2.agita3.Aguada4.adagio5.Acadia6.Aggadah7.Ikeda8.Akita9.ajuga10.Ogodei11.aged12.egad13.Adige14.aikido15.adage16.gaudy17.Gouda18.Guido19.Attica20.agoutiExplain, please?

  2. Well, you could have gone my route which was to tell people that I lived in the house with the crazy weeds in the front and the OK Corral-style fence.

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