The Worst Way To Meet Your Neighbors

The Worst Way To Meet Your Neighbors

 

 

I kept meaning to meet our new neighbors, like REALLY meet them. You know, have a conversation, maybe invite them over for wine, show them around the area, etc. Something other than the casual wave in passing.  Unfortunately, months went by and the opportunity never presented itself-  meaning either my house was a mess or I wasn’t wearing a bra (both of these things have admittedly held me back from a deep and rich social life).  However, Ana has struck up an almost obsessive friendship with their 8 year old daughter, Emily.  They flutter back and forth between our homes, going from one make-believe game to the next. I can only hope little Emily lacks the critical eye of a child accustomed to fine housekeeping.

Well guess what?  I finally met them last Sunday. Let me set the stage for this beauty of a meeting.

 

 

FRIDAY

A few neighborhood parents & their teens were hosting a weekend fundraising sleepover camp at our clubhouse, sleepover optional. Ana was super excited, so she and I stayed home while Brian and Collin went to the beach. Truth be told, I was the most excited. Ana in camp all weekend, husband and child#1 at the beach. In the days leading up, visions of me slowly walking the aisles of Marshalls while sipping a Starbucks Mocha Latte became all I could think about.

5PM, we arrived at camp. I was almost giddy.

 

Ana: I’m not staying here. Let’s go home.

 

I’m not gonna lie, at that moment everything in my world went black.

Reaching out into the darkness, patting the head of the little girl who had just crushed my solace seeking soul, “There there, let’s not be rash.  You LOVE everyone here. There’s your babysitter, there’s your friend, everyone’s doing crafts, and they’ll probably order pizza later. And if they don’t I’ll buy out the Dominos down the street and have one delivered to you every hour. How’s that sound?”

Ana: I’m scared. I don’t want to stay here, I want to go home.

Me: You need to be brave and give it a chance. Trust me, you’ll have so much fun! It would be a shame to miss it. What if we leave tonight but try again in the morning?

Ana: I’m not coming back.

Concerned parents were now gathered around. I smiled and said, “Excuse me while I give her some loving words of encouragement.”

Kneeling down, I pulled her pissed off face close to mine and whispered sweetly:
“I swear on Bunny (holding her lovie tightly by the neck) you WILL go to camp or YOU WILL spend the entire weekend in your room. So it’s THIS or staring at your bedroom walls for the next 48 hours.”

Standing up and smiling. “So what do ya think? Feel ready to give it a try?”

She gave it a try, and I went home and listened to the silence until 9PM when it was time to pick her up.

 

 

SATURDAY

Saturday morning was a thing of beauty! She was thrilled to go to camp, and even said she might stay overnight. I wasn’t holding my breath, but the thought was intoxicating.

After dropping her off, I did my first workout in months, PLYO FIT EXTREME, then I kept the momentum going by cleaning out the foyer closet.  It took 4 hours to clean that damn closet. 4 hours, people. foooouuuurrrr hours! It’s not even a big closet (4×4) but it does have some serious height of which I have taken full advantage.  Trust me, shit was all stacked up Jenga style. Looking through coat pockets for receipts, I was able to date the bottom layer of crap back to 2005. I even came across a baby tooth…or cat tooth…or broken Tic Tac, I can’t be sure. I just threw it in a memory box and kept moving.

After gathering a very large donation pile, I put everything in the car and headed to my first stop, Marshalls!

As I stepped out of the car, and my legs collapsed like snapped rubber bands, I thought of an important tip:

If you haven’t exercised  in months, a workout with the word EXTREME in it might not be the DVD for you. Especially if it’s in all caps.

Holy Crap! It’s like my muscles needed those last 4 hours to really digest what I had done to them, and then they were all like “OH HELL NO! WE’RE SHUTTING THIS SHIT DOWN.” And I was all “No, no, please. We’re done exercising! I just need you to get me to the clearance shoe section and back!”

Bless them, they did. Barely.

I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the couch watching my legs lock up.

Around 6 PM I received a text from our sitter:

Ana says she wants to stay overnight at camp with me.

 

I couldn’t believe it, I had the whole evening to myself!

Most of it was spent trying to get up the stairs.

Once I was upstairs, it seemed kinda quiet, like really quiet. Then I realized what it was, Ana’s little crackhead hamsters weren’t on their squeaky wheel. So I checked on them.

D.E.A.D.

Both of them! How the hell…why…both?  I sat there examining the scene like a forensic detective. One was inside their little house, while the other laid in the doorway. A domestic dispute? Did Sparkles say he was running out for a pack of cigarettes, but Pinky knew he had no intentions of coming back?

I was beyond upset. Not because they were dead, everyone knew I despised them, but because they died mysteriously while home alone with me.

Know any good lawyers?

I put them in a Ziplock bag with a tiny murder/suicide note and stuck them in the garage. Then I stayed up all night rehearsing the ‘circle of life’ speech I’d have to give Ana in the morning.

 

 

SUNDAY

I cried as I came down the stairs that morning. No, not because of the hamsters, but because every muscle from my neck down was screaming. Five hundred dollars and 12 years later, my Lamaze breathing techniques finally came in handy.

After picking Ana up from camp, I army crawled into the kitchen and delivered the terrible news. I expected sobs and screams asking the universe to grant her “just one more day with them”. Instead, her reaction was what I’d call underwhelming. Some brief ‘sad eyes’ and then “Can I go play with Emily?”

“Sure. I guess we can bury them later?” And off she went.

Around noon Ana walked in from the garage.

 

Me: Where’s your friend?

Ana: Oh, she’ll be right back. She just went to show her dad my hamsters.

Me: YOUR DEAD HAMSTERS!?!? NOOOOOO!

 

I shuffled as fast as I could into the foyer. Through the windows on either side of our door, I saw Emily skipping across our lawn, smile on her face, Ziploc bag full of dead hamsters in her hand, murder/suicide note visible.

“EMILY! COME BACK, COME BAAAAACK!” I screamed through double-pane glass.

She couldn’t hear me and my knees wouldn’t bend beyond a 30 degree angle. So I did the only thing I could do, I put on my bra and waited.

Not surprisingly, it only took 10 minutes before I was meeting our new neighbors.

The dad appeared in my garage and started casually sweeping his eyes around the room, no doubt looking for more dead animals in baggies. The mom stayed a little farther back.

 

Me: Hi! I’m soooo sorry Ana sent your daughter home with dead hamsters.

Him: Oh, um, don’t…um…don’t worry about it.

Me: It’s just that we haven’t had a chance to bury them yet and she thought they were interesting. She thought maybe you’d find them interesting. I explained to her that we don’t send our friends home with dead animals. I think she gets it now.

Him: Well, they…um… looked peaceful?

Me: Ha. Yeah. Oh, and that murder/suicide note? Just a joke.

Him: Ha…so how did they both die at the same time?

Me: Heyyy, could I offer you both some wine? Or maybe show you around the area?

 

And now my goal is to convince these people that we’re actually a very normal suburban family. And I think I can do it too….until the day they Google “felt pajamas” and it auto corrects it to “felt vaginas” which will then lead them to this blog.

 

 

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How Pinterest took my party planning from “Blah” to “Please take this hammer out of my hand.”

 

When I asked Ana where she wanted to have her 6th birthday party, she didn’t hesitate. She started jumping up and down, and chanting, “Chuck E Cheese! Chuck E Cheese! Chuck E Cheese!”  I immediately dropped to both knees, took her cute cherub cheeks between my hands and whispered, “Darling, that will never happen.”  And the way I drew out the word “neeeverrrrrr” was awful but necessary. There was NO WAY I was holding a birthday party inside a dirty hamster cage with feces filled tubes.

hamster

 

Wanting her to be excited about her birthday party venue, but drawing a line at the rat trap, I set out to come up with an awesome idea. So for the next two weeks I threw every possibility at her. Bowling? NO! CHUCK E CHEESE! A dance party? NO! CHUCK E CHEESE! Spa day? NO! CHUCK E CHEESE!

But then one day, while I sat eating a family-sized bag of potato chips, I had a brilliant idea, “A pony riding party?!…silence…she was thinking…lock this shit down, Kim. “On a real farm!”

Ana -“But will there be pizza?” scrunching up her face like the thought of compromising with me repulsed her.

Me – “Unlimited!”

Ana – “And we can do Chuck E Cheese next year?” Producing a “Chuck E. Cheese Next Year” document for me to sign.

Me- “Sure!” Signing the “Chuck E. Cheese Next Year” document and hoping her long-term memory continues to be a lot like swiss cheese.

Ana – “YAY! A pony party!”

Me- “YAY! A pony party!”

I collapsed, tears of relief to mingling with the Herr’s sour cream & onion flavoring. Mmmm, life was good again.

 

But because I still felt shitty about denying her Chuck E Cheese, I was determined to make this the best party ever. And so, after bottoming out on the chips, I opened my laptop, ordered her purple cowboy boots, then went to Pinterest and got to work.

Note: Any and all links in this post are because I assume you’re as nosy as I am, and want to know what I used or selected. These are not advertisements.

How Pinterest took my party planning from "Blah" to "Please take this hammer out of my hand." www.OneClassyMotha.com

First, I created an Ana’s Pony Party board, then I spent HOURS looking through pins, websites, and online magazines. I wanted to streamline this board, not junk it up with any and all ideas like my other useless boards. My intent was to fill it with everything I needed to create an adorable Vintage Pony Party.  And I mean everything. I found invitations, banners, water bottle wraps, signs, thank you cards, cupcake toppers, etc, etc. Then, hoping to get her excited, I presented it all to the birthday girl. Big mistake.

It seems that somewhere along the line she’s developed opinions, strong opinions, mostly of the “I don’t give a shit how much time you’ve invested in this, I don’t like it.” variety. (*note to self: next year will be a surprise party)

Unfortunately, her ideas were the complete opposite from mine. I wanted soft pinks, browns, and rustic chic.

rusticpony

 

She wanted neon, in your face, and can be seen from space.

neon pony

So I spent MORE hours on Pinterest until I found something in the middle.

etsyinvite

 

Cute, right? And the entire kit was only $40! You can get it here.

But I forgot to factor in the cost of quality printing on stock paper ($70)…or the 35 pages of intricate cutting ($150 in Carpal Tunnel medical co-pays).

Now that the theme was established, I could continue on…

Food Presentation

Pinterest made me believe that I had to have the most clever food presentation ever.

party setting

carrots

OMG! I could do stuff like that, couldn’t I? I must.

Over the next week, I ignored my family and spent every available moment hunting for containers, bows, paper straws, baskets, favor bags, custom stickers, anything that screamed “Pinterest worthy!”

It wasn’t until I yelled at my husband for blocking the monitor while I was trying to read user reviews on two competing wooden fork manufacturers, that I realized I was drowning in the details. But I soldiered on.

FYI, theses are the forks I selected:

forks

Party favors

Oh, the party favors on Pinterest! I think I lost my mind once or twice on those. Here’s what I decided to make (yeah, make):

Stick Horses

felt horses

Tell me these aren’t the most adorable things ever! They’re super simple to make and you can get the pattern here.

As soon as I saw this Pin, I grabbed my keys and rushed right to the craft store to buy enough wool felt for 15 horses. Unfortunately, I had to take Ana and her opinions with me.

Three hours and two meltdowns later (both mine), we returned, not with the nice, neutral, classy felt I wanted, but with this…

IMG_9104

For six nights, I donned sunglasses and diligently worked on my ‘Horses on Acid’ project. And on the seventh morning, I woke up to see their neon heads scattered across my kitchen island like some mass Pinterest protest, and I couldn’t help but to cry at their beautifully ugly existence.

IMG_8801

Favor number 2…

Painted Horse Shoes

So I was speaking with Ana’s horseback riding instructor – oh, did I forget to mention that we signed her up for lessons because suddenly she was all about horses? Fifty bucks a pop. I should have stuck with Chuck E Cheese, the medication to clear up any bacterial infections she most definitely would have acquired, would’ve been cheaper.  Anyway, her instructor said that they’d provide a horseshoe for each kid if I wanted to buy fabric paint for them to decorate while they’re waiting for their turn to ride a pony.

“Oh yes, I saw that on Pinterest! That’s an awesome idea!”

And then she asked me if I was handy, and sent me home with a bucket full of dirty, nail filled horseshoes. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t.

Day 1 of horseshoe refurbishing:

Day one began with me out in my driveway trying to remove old rusty nails from shit-packed horseshoes. After several experimental methods, I settled on holding down the horseshoe with my right foot while I twisted and pulled those bastard nails out with a hammer.

I had just put a winter boot on my right foot, to protect my ankle from contracting tetanus, when the pizza man pulled up.

Hobbling towards him, flip flop on my left foot, furry boot on my right foot, hammer in my hand.

“Heyyy there!” I waved, the weight of the hammer exaggerating the movement. “Hahaha, I bet you’re wondering what I’m doing.”

“No, I’m good.”

He extended the pizza towards me and curved his torso inward. An obvious attempt to protect his vital organs, no doubt.

“I was just pulling some nails out of those horseshoes over there.” gesturing to a bucket stained with red rust and swarming with flies.

I had a feeling he was thinking, or human head.

He just got in his car and left.

 

Day 2 of horseshoe refurbishing

The horseshoes were finally nail free, shit free, and dry, and it was time to paint them black. 

  

 About a 1/4 of the way into the job, I ran out of spray paint so I had to run to our local hardware store.  Ana was home from school with a slight tummy ache so I had to take her with me.

Once in the store,  she looked at me and said, “I don’t feel so good”. Oh shit. “I think I’m going to be sick.” Oh shit. Then she did this lurching thing, like my cat does just before she coughs up a hairball, and I knew we didn’t have time to find a bathroom. The speed at which my mind processed and reacted to the impending horror still amazes me. Have you ever seen the game show Supermarket Sweep?

Dropping my purse, I ran down the paint aisle, grabbed 3 cans of black spray paint meant for metal surfaces, a box of latex gloves, and a stack of buckets (I had no time to separate them), and returned just in time to catch her vomit.

My exit strategy took a little more thought.

I made Ana hold her vomit bucket and stay 5 paces behind me. Once we got to the register, I gestured to her, and told the cashier that she loved the bucket so much she simply refused to part with it. I then handed him the other buckets and told him to use the sku. “Kids!” I said shaking my head.

When I looked back, some smiley college kid had appeared behind her. I watched as he peeked over her head and into the bucket. Then I watched his smile fade.

IMG_8800

 

After I finished spray painting, I set the horseshoes next to our door to dry. Then I ordered a pizza. Again.

Thankfully a different pizza guy arrived.  He looked at the horseshoes next to the door and said, “So, do you have horses?”

I looked around our .33 acre lot before responding,”Yes, and they have to take their shoes off before they come in.”

The Cake

The cake was a battle.

I was still holding on to my Vintage Pony dream when I practically begged/bridbed Ana to let me make this:

cake1

But she wasn’t having it.

Instead, she grabbed my computer and spent an hour browsing Pinterest until finally settling on this:

cake2

She insisted I try my hand at cutting horse silhouettes out of black fondant.

“I can’t make that!” I said, acknowledging my limitations for once. “Can’t I make the one I picked out? It’s easier.”

Looking sad, “You keep having all the ideas and want to do everything you like. Whose party is this anyway?”

Bending down on my knees and taking her sweet face into my hands, “Oh darling, this party belongs to Pinterest.”

And that’s when I knew I had to unplug the computer. It was time to respect what she wanted, to embrace her neon…and to order a cake from the grocery store.

IMG_8872

 I should have written “SCREW YOU, PINTEREST!” on the side and outlined it with poorly shaped rosettes. 

And the party was wonderful! Our family and friends made the the afternoon special and awesome…not the Pinterest inspired details.

*I should mention…remember when Ana threw up at the hardware store? Well Brian got Ana’s stomach bug and had to miss her birthday party:(

Here are some pics from the party, if you care.

IMG_8828

IMG_8845

IMG_8868

painting

IMG_8862

eating

IMG_8814

Ana candles

Ana cake

Happy Birthday, Ana! We love you!

Dear Frozen Yogurt Bar Staff, Have I got a tip for you.

Ok…so last week I took the kids to this new frozen yogurt place down the street. When I walked in, I was immediately put off by the whole “Ikea Does Preschool” design. The mere idea of slurping frozen yogurt off a 10 inch high table, with my boobs resting awkwardly on my knees, created a kind of pre-digestion indigestion that I hadn’t known was possible.  But the kids loved it, so whatever.

yogurtseats

We walked up to the high schooler behind the counter.

Me: “Hi. I’d like 3 small frozen yogurts. What flavors do you have?”

Him, seeming confused by my question: “All of our yogurt machines are on that wall over there. (points to 16 machines) We’re a self-serve yogurt bar, it’s what makes us unique!”

Nooo, it’s what makes you lazy. But tomato/tomaahto.

I then spent, what seemed like hours, assisting my children in building their idea of the most perfect frozen yogurt combination ever. Flavors were mixed with a 2:2:1 ratio, paper dividers (yes, paper dividers) were inserted into the bowls to isolate any contrasting, yet complementary, selections, and swirl dispensing techniques were compared, analyzed, and critiqued until the winner was the one not crying. I won’t lie, it was torturous. Yet, somehow, it paled to the angst created by the toppings bar.

To an adult, the toppings bar was a plethora of choices that could be easily whittled down by years of tasting experience. But to a child? To a child, those 50 containers laid before them like a vast new land waiting to be explored and plundered. And with no one standing behind the counter to push them along, my kids grabbed their spoons and ever. so. slowly. hovered above each and every topping for consideration. Honestly, I’ve given major life decisions less thought.

yogurtbar

When I assumed we were finally ready to pay, the teenager, now texting behind the counter, reminded us that we had yet to choose our “wet” toppings.

Our what toppings?

“Wet toppings: caramel, fudge, chocolate sauce, strawberry sauce, marshmallow sauce, peanut butter sauce, butterscotch, honey, whipped cream, and magic shell. Choose as many as you want! Any combination!”

He obviously thought giving my children more choices would excite me. Bastard.

Once the wet toppings were poured over my kids and their sundaes, I attempted to hand him the mess for payment.

“No no no (waving me away). You’re supposed to go over there and place them on the scale, then you pay based on the weight. Oh, and don’t forget to grab yourself some spoons and napkins, looks like you’ll need them. hahaha.”

And so I did. And then I paid. And then I saw this…

Dear Self-Serve Frozen Yogurt Guy,  Let's be clear about something...my bikini waxer, Tina, earns her tip, YOU do not.

WHAAAT??? A TIP JAR?!!

So let me get this straight,

We put the frozen yogurt into our cups

We piled on both the ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ toppings

We grabbed our spoons and napkins

We put the sundaes on the scale

and We paid

Now you want a tip? For WHAT, taking my money?

Dear Frozen Yogurt Employee,

 How about you earn a tip by doing something that I’d actually tip on. Something that makes my life better. Maybe wax my bikini area?  Or clean the dog piss off my carpet? Take our car through vehicle inspection? Bikini waxing, part 2 (it usually takes more than one session)? Or,hey, I got it… here’s a real novel idea, what about MAKING ME A GODDAMN FROZEN YOGURT SUNDAE!?!?!

No, all you did was take my money, and that only made my life worse. Why would I tip you for that?

Stick that in your empty bucket.

*And I totally would have written that note too, if it didn’t require me jumping behind the counter to find my own pen.

yogurteffort

Our 2014 Christmas Letter: a year in crappy pics

Dear Friends & Family,

2014 was a year of accomplishments for our family, beginning on January 1st, when we woke up without headaches, nausea, or pastry induced sugar comas. Honestly, we owned 2014 right then and there.

In January, I finally got around to ordering our 2013 Christmas cards (note: both 2013 & 2014 enclosed- feel free to display the one that best matches your home decor). We also completed the basement wainscoting project and put the finishing touches on Ana’s under-the-stairs playhouse, which she then refused to play in because “I’m not going under the stairs!”

playhouse 2

February plunged us into a very cold and a very dark Polar Vortex. I entered a winter depression, marked by an obsession with Florida real estate and an excessive consumption of simple carbs. Meanwhile, Collin stayed in the basement playing Xbox, Brian frequented any and all restaurants advertising pork belly, and Ana played with her toys…but not the ones in the playhouse.

March saw the birth of my Spicy Jalapeno Margarita! When we weren’t going to Oasis Family Fun Center or watching Brian eat pork belly, I was at home using the freshest ingredients to create the perfect drink to welcome Spring. Nailed it!

In April, Brian won a work incentive trip for two to Mexico! So we hopped a plane to Punta Mita where we soaked up the sun, drank margaritas, and ate fish tacos and nachos until the elastic in our bathing suits threatened to rip. Ahhh! It was a much needed and super relaxing trip…except for the part where we accidentally walked onto a private beach and were chased by security guards protecting the Mexican Secretary of State who was responsible for the recent capture of “El Chapo”, the kingpin of the Mexican Drug Cartel. But in our defense, the “No Entrar” sign was really tiny.

wcp258

It became apparent in May, that our 12 year old dog, Mr. Bojangles, had become almost completely deaf. I was sad at first, but now that the doorbell no longer elicits a Cujo response from him, I find that my fight-or-flight response towards guests is dissipating.

We checked two things off our bucket list in June– we took our first cruise to Bermuda! It was awesome! Bermuda was stunning, the Norwegian Breakaway was gorgeous, and miraculously no one went overboard.

bermuda

In July, I once again hosted another week of Camp Cheapo. 12 neighborhood kids, 25 cans of shaving cream, 2 slip-n-slides, 15 Frisbees, lots of bad choices, and very little supervision. It was another cheapo success!

camp cheapo 2014

Collin started tackle football in August, which totally freaked me out. However, when I saw how substantial the protective gear was, I relaxed a bit. Then I saw the 6 days per week practice schedule and tensed back up.

In September, Collin started 5th grade with his favorite teacher, and Ana excitedly entered Kindergarten! Although she loved school, the first couple weeks were rough for Ana. She was tired in the mornings and had zero interest in getting dressed, brushing her hair, putting on her shoes, etc. No surprise, this led to her missing the bus quite a bit. I tried rewards, threats, bribes, pleads, and just as I was about to home school her, I came up with an idea – completely dressing her the night before. And it worked! Just today, I successfully rolled her from bed to bus stop!

Also in September, Ana and I completed our first and last 5K together!

photo 4 (3)

 

Technically, she only completed one mile because I carried her the other two. Later that afternoon, while icing my arms, I received the race stats via email letting me know that I placed last in my age group. And because I was carrying her in front of me, Ana beat my time.

October was Collin’s birthday month and a trip to Disney World with Brian’s family! It’s our favorite time of year in Disney –  Halloween and Epcot’s Wine & Food Festival! Talk about gluttony!

disney

The Polar Vortex returned in November, sending us back into hibernation mode. So while everyone else was updating their Facebook status with “Our family just completed another 5K today. Woohoo!”, we were busy running our own race- to Costco, the bakery, the liquor store, and back – all before Mr. Bojangles could pee on the floor. And Ana made some interesting new fashion choices. She now wears her knee socks over her pants and has adopted the motto “The more contrast, the better.”

ana socks1

Things going on this month (December)

Brian – One word, CUPCAKES. He will not rest until he’s found the world’s most perfect cupcake. I believe he’s even created a mission statement to that effect.

Collin – Says he would like either a desktop computer for Christmas or a pack of gum. Hopefully Santa will bring him better negotiating skills.

Ana – LOVES her Elf on the Shelf and she’s grateful he didn’t arrive on the scene until after she hit that boy on the bus.

Mr. Bojangles – Deaf, incontinent, but will still sell his soul for a cookie.

Buddy – Our 3-legged adopted dog, thinks the sun rises and sets on me, and merely tolerates everyone else.

Roxy – The cat continues to mark her territory under our pool table. She may have a larger territory this Spring.

Blaze – The hamster Collin just HAD to have still does nothing but sleep all day. Why did anyone think a nocturnal animal would make a decent pet for a kid that goes to bed at 9 pm?

Me – It’s taking everything I have to get our Christmas cards out more than 48 hours before Christmas. Nailing it!

 

As this year is coming to a close, we want to say thank you for a being a part of our lives, whether near or far, yesterday or yesteryear, you are always in our hearts. May your 2015 be filled with an abundance of love, laughter, health, and happiness.

 

Love,

Brian, Kim, Collin, & Ana

 

_________________

 

Looking for an awesome stocking stuffer, a gift for your bunko hostess, or yourself? Check this out this hilarious book that sets the ridiculousness of suburban life to haiku!

Suburban Haiku: Poetic Dispatches from Behind the Picket Fence  by Peyton Price

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