Scrounging for pizza

A memoir of homelessness.

I cannot stand being cooped up, especially if that coop happens to be a two-bed, one bathroom hotel room at the likes of the Quality Inn located along Highway 13 in Savage, MN; only it wasn’t the Quality Inn but the Comfort Inn ten years ago when I was stuck there along with my mom, my brother and our two dogs thanks to our being homeless.

One of the things that kept me from going bananas back then was hanging out at the pool, where I had considerably more elbow room handy.  

It was here on one Friday night that that a whole flock of kids arrived under the supervision of a few grown-ups along to see to their every want, one of which was pizza. Several of them, all delivered, courtesy of good ol’ Pizza Hut.


Pizza! It was the rarest of luxuries for us back then because of a super-tight budget which saw food shelves as our primary source of groceries. At one time, we had some Jack’s sausage and mushroom pizzas from time to time, cooked in a tiny grill mom had acquired, but pizza from a place like Pizza Hut was a luxury we could only dream of.  

Our usual bill of fare was canned tuna, cold hot dogs and popcorn; not exactly the most balanced of diets, but it kept us going. The monotony of it all naturally left a craving for tastier foods, though.

So it was that as the night wore on and the clock ground toward the time the pool area closed at 11 p.m., an idea formed as I lounged near the hot tub minding my own business: If they had any pizza left when their shindig was done, I would go over and politely ask if I could have it. If successful, I would take it back to our room and share my bounty.

Believe it or not, they did have a slice left when I went up and asked as their shindig wrapped up, and they were more than happy to part with it. It was pepperoni if I remember right, and my brother and I split it as soon as I heated it up in the microwave our hotel room had.

Such are the things we do when we are starved for certain kinds of food.

Shit people in Tonsai Bay say

A beautiful place to party and occasionally climb, but not for much else.

He used the world, “gripe,” as he told me those griping about rising prices in Thailand can just go home. He followed this by bitching about paying $5 for a large Chang, and then saying he is so sick of temples when asking for suggestions of where to go in Malaysia. It’s needless to say the conversation didn’t go much further than this.

I always get weird feelings when I go to niche travel places. Those whose lives are devoted to one over-arching hobby (though they’re fantastic at their trade) and I have never tended to meld. I always find myself feeling out of place and self-conscious, but I think this conversation shed some light on the situation.

Besides this interaction, I had been told earlier that day, when asking about a book exchange, that maybe only people in Railay do that. With Tonsai being where the backpackers stay, and Railay full of resorts, I realized quickly the insult the speaker was trying to portray. I took this as my queue to exit the conversation.

Tonsai Bay is a beautiful place to drink beer, smoke weed and occasionally climb, but not a great place to go for much else. It is quite tribal, though, and those traveling solo can find clicks, similar to those in high school, hard to break into. In fact, much like many saturated tourist destinations, this is a common trend.

After three days of awkwardness, I did find myself included into multiple clicks, but decided the effort wasn’t worth the social situation. I prefer to spend my time with those who don’t charge to have a conversation. 

Wrecked my diet over Thanksgiving

I was more stuffed than a turkey.

Last week, I hosted my first Thanksgiving.  Since I was not about to spend the entire day cooking in the kitchen, I decided to take the family to a Thanksgiving buffet at a nearby casino.  Having been to the Maryland Live Casino’s buffet a couple times before, I knew that I could count on the food and service there to be up to my liking. 

Sure enough, the food at the buffet was good enough to please everyone in my party.  As with most other buffets out there, not everything was truly delicious.  However, there was enough good stuff to have me keep coming back for more.  By the end of the Thanksgiving dinner, I was more stuffed than a turkey on the holiday of thanks.

My parents stayed at my place for the next three days, and during that time, I took them to some of my favorite restaurants in the local area.  By the time my parents left to go home, I had gained a whopping five pounds.  Sure, some of that might have been water weight from excessive sodium intake.  However, the rest was bound to stay as fat on my body if I did not start to do something about it.

Yesterday morning my parents went home, and I started my version of a cleansing diet.  I spent the entire day eating nothing but old fashion oatmeal and granola bars.  This morning, I woke up three pounds lighter.  To prevent my body from entering starvation mode, I have opted to incorporate more foods into my diet today.  For instance, I had a shrimp salad earlier for lunch.  As the week progress, I will continue to add more food into my diet.  Hopefully, I will end the week weighing less than I did before Thanksgiving Day.

A simple conversation

Reading a book by the river

I sat on a bench on the side of a river running through Siem Reap in Cambodia. Most people come to Siem Reap to see Ankor Wat, then head to Pub Street to see Ankor What? bar. I’m not a big drinker, and though the temples were beautiful, my legs and my budget couldn’t handle another day. I decided to read my book near the river.

As I read “A Farewell To Arms,” I took time between pages to watch people pass by. Runners seemed to love the path, both local and foreign alike. It was nice to watch the people run.

As I came to the last five pages in my book, I decided in my head I would go to back to my hostel after the book. Before I could do it, though, an elderly Cambodian man sat down at the bench next to me. He said hello, and I replied. He seemed to want to chat.

After exchanging subtleties, he began to tell me about life in Cambodia. He said it was hard, and said he had been forced to move from Battumbang to Siem Reap for work. As he spoke, his left eye would open and shut. I wondered if it was a mild case of turret syndrome. He spoke English wonderfully.

He began to speak of his dreams of farming, but how he didn’t have the money to do it. I couldn’t help but start to put up my guard, thinking he would ask me for money. My guard took away from my ability to make conversation, and after a few moments we went silent. I bid the man farewell, and went on my way.

He never asked me for money, I thought, as I walked the dirt road back to my hostel. 

The madhouse on Croftview Terrace

A memoir of madness.

From February of 1985 to May of 2001 I lived at the one-story rambler built at 3606 Croftview Terrace, Minnetonka, Minnesota. This house witnessed the bulk of my childhood and all of my teenage years. Alas, my memories of this place are more like a poison cloud hanging over my mind rather than like a soft, gentle one. Truth be told, I’ve grown to loathe and despise that place which -while its grounds are different, and the house itself extensively remodeled- will always be infamous to me.

Now a husband and father should both provide for his family as well as do his best to protect it. Mine did neither. On the contrary, while he lived off his rich daddy, it was never enough. Also, he glommed on to the inheritance my mother got when my grandma died in 1995.  He wasted all the money he had, which toward the end left us in dire straits, but he did so on purpose, because the man was a conduit for evil of the pettiest sort.

He thought nothing of having tantrums every five minutes over this and that, or on the flip side of the coin talking mean to his wife and sons in order to shove them into the mud mentally and so try to break them emotionally. The scum never got that far, but good God how we bent, and bent, and bent some more to his abusive whims.

Oh sure, often he put on a nice guy act whenever other people were around, but once the door shut behind said visitors it was back to hell for all of us. Even when my grandparents lived with us he still pulled stuff every now and then; stuff hidden from the knowing eyes of grandma and grandpa, to be sure, but still pulled. And once they had passed away, he cranked his insanity up to the point we lived in bedlam.  Doing things like break chairs, smash windows, and be just fine with it even as we cringed or, in my poor brother's case when it came to the broken window, screamed. Among many, many other things best summed up by one word: insane!

Despite all that, while we still bent, and bent, and bent some more, we did not break. This compelled him to further acts of abusive insanity like he had the power, gas, and even the garbage service cut off. The garbage service, for God’s sake! This reduced us to going around in the dead of night dumping our garbage first in dumpsters behind local businesses, and then just leaving it by the side of the road and driving off. All in a day's lunacy for Clyde Krebb's tortured family.

In 2000 our landlord informed Clyde he wanted to sell all his holdings prior to retiring to Florida. Instead of coming up with the money, when the year was up Clyde made sure we instead got evicted, made sure all our stuff went into storage (whose bill soon went unpaid) and that we shuttled around from hotel to hotel, running up a tab until we had to leave due to being unable to afford it, thus carrying his brand of insanity beyond that poor tortured house on Croftview Terrace and out into the open until, finally, mom had enough and got us away from him.

I wonder what the people who bought the Croftview house in 2001 would think if they read this?  If it were me, and I read this, I would have someone come and bless the place to purge it of all the evil karma Clyde pumped into its walls.

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the first time

Where to get the turkey?

Typically, Thanksgiving dinner is a no-brainer for me.  I simply get in the car, have my husband drive us to my parents’ house and a few hours later I am seated in front of a festive dinner prepared by my folks.  This year is a little different.  My parents decided that they were no longer hosting Thanksgiving dinner.  So I told them to come to our place for Thanksgiving for a change.  Therefore, I now find myself hosting my first Thanksgiving dinner.

One thing is for certain: I have no desire to cook the bird myself.  I am thinking about getting the meal catered.  But there are so many options that it becomes somewhat overwhelming.  Plus since I have always had my Thanksgiving turkey straight out of the oven, I am unsure if I would enjoy a pre-cooked turkey as much.

Another option that I am considering is taking my folks out for Thanksgiving.  Being that there will only be four in our party, that does seem like a reasonable idea.  The prices for a prix fixe Thanksgiving meal around here is in the range of $50 to $76 per person.  And I am not sure any turkey dinner could ever be worth that price. 

Then there are the Thanksgiving buffets. The nicer ones are about $35 per person, and the chain restaurants are offering their Thanksgiving buffet at only about $13 per person.  Finally, there is always Boston Market. Their dinner plate is only about $10, and I have always been a fan of their food. I will continue to think about my options for the remainder of the day.  But if you were me, which option would you go up with?

I think he may have killed a man

Shady character at local bar with questionable background

He sat at the same bar each night drinking Ankor lager. He bought cans, but poured the contents into a glass with ice. This small gesture showed he had been in Southeast Asia long enough to adopt local drinking habits. That, and the fact he also spoke Khmer. The only night this week he didn’t show up at the restaurant was when it was filled with balangs. He doesn’t like being around westerners anymore.

As we watched the man with indistinguishable, but probably British, accent drink, we began to ponder why he became an expat. We had listened to him tell other travelers he hadn’t been home in decades, while also avoiding any personal questions. My travel mate and I decided he was up to something. We decided he may have left home after killing a man.

Tonight he engaged us to show us the drunken cicada on his table. This was our in. We joined his table, and began to interrogate. After talking for a while, and beginning to get comfortable, he started to open up to us. He told us about the south London gangsters he knew in Sihanoukville.

He also told us about the two years he spent with a Khmer girl, but didn’t share the ending of the tale, prompting me to ask in a joking fashion if he killed her…just to prod him a bit. He didn’t, and his gleeful way of telling how she went back to her village didn’t give me insight if he had a killer instinct. The man was good at saving face (or maybe he's not a killer).

As we left the restaurant, we still had unanswered questions. We knew when he left, but we still didn’t know why. Let’s just hope he didn’t catch on to our little interrogation, in the event our assumptions were true.

Five reasons I am sick and tired of money

Title says it all.

Money seems to be the be all and end all these days. Here are five reasons why I think otherwise:


1. Greed

“Anything/anything/anything for money,” Michael Jackson once sang. Too true: I loathe and despise how big business and politicians run wild with it at the expense of the little person. Have a small business deep in debt? The local government can’t help you because of whatever nonsensical reason they have. But if you own a professional sports team and want a new stadium? “Well now, come right in and get all the money you want!” the politicians say, even if your team is the hapless, hopeless, and sleaze-ridden Minnesota Vikings.

Going back to big business and money, I know from personal experience that they don’t care a whoop about the needs of its rank and file. For years I labored at Cub Foods with my wages frozen due to being demoted to an “entry level” position without my yes or no after not making the grade in a more profitable position as a store associate working in produce. The reason they froze them: since I was switched from produce to the ”entry level” position known as “clean team,” I was therefore “over scale” wage-wise. Finally, the labor union got it untangled. When I left Cub, however, everyone was working under a wage freeze thanks to a new union contract that was voted on in 2010. The “little people” just can’t win.

2. Low supply in high demand

“The harder I work/the faster my money goes,” Elvis sang. That goes without saying: prices keep going up and up these days while the bulk of the people out there can scarcely keep up with them what with jobs being scarce, wages frozen or cut, etc.

3. It limits you and your dreams

When you live on a shoestring budget, you can only dream of taking a trip, or that expensive car or other consumer good you’d like to have but can’t afford due to your living on the poverty line. To say nothing of how it limits you from pursuing your life’s ambitions because you are stuck out harvesting crops of money instead.

4. Having no money leads to chaos

Due to a reason to be listed next, during my childhood and teenage years I endured having the power turned off multiple times, having the gas cut, and the garbage service suspended. Then when I was twenty-one my family became utterly destitute and homeless and all because of lack of money.

5. It Is a favorite tool of manipulation

However, all the times lack of money lead to the calamities listed in reason #4 was not because we could not find work or anything like that, but because my family was under the thumb of my father, a selfish, petty bully who used money to control his tortured brood day in and day out. The way he chiefly did it was by not having an honest job but instead living off of his rich father, a man who liked to play petty games with money in order to control his son. Reflecting on what his demon seed offspring did to his family, I’d say he is a chip off the old block. Quite frankly, people like them can take their money and eat it for all I care


Mom's coming over

It’s like a cleaning inspection.

I always try to keep my house fairly nice and tidy.  But whenever I hear that either my parents or my in-laws are coming over, I always go on a cleaning frenzy.  My husband always giggles to himself a little as he watches me go about like a cleaning person on steroids.

Both my mom and my mother-in-law are housewives.  Therefore, they pride themselves on how well they keep their house all nice and clean.  They also are more likely to notice anything that is out of place or a tad bit dusty at another person’s house. 

I can’t help but feel a bit paranoid whenever either of them makes a visit.  My husband says I act as if they are here for a cleaning inspection.  I know he is only teasing, but in a way, I feel as if they really are there to inspect just how well I keep my house. 

Prior to every visit from either my parents or in-laws, I always spend at least an entire day cleaning.  I make sure to dust every nook and cranny.  My husband often offers to help, but I usually decline.  That is because I am very particular in how I want things done. 

Even if he were to help me clean, I would just end up doing it over again.  Hubby thinks I am a little cuckoo about it all, but I just cannot help myself.  I do not want to have to hear my mom point out something that needs to be cleaned up, and I definitely do not want my in-laws to have anything bad to notice as they look around my house.

Drunk Peter in Paradise

A visitor can't get enough of island life.

Koh Russei, also know as Bamboo Island, is a beautiful, secluded island in southern Cambodia. Though there are rumors of crazy traffic during the high season, visitors looking to find their own piece of paradise are in luck. With only one company running a single bar, and offering a mix of either bungalows or dorms on the beach, finding yourself on bamboo island feels like being invited to a secluded club.

The chalk menu in the single bar, along with prices for spirits, states, “One More Day.” Visitors to the island seem to live and die by this phrase. While I knew I had a set duration in paradise, a British traveler named Peter couldn’t seem to decide whether to stay or go. My second night on the island (his 16th maybe?) was supposed to be his going away party. This, of course, was not the case.

After closing the bar, sitting next to a fire on the beach, swimming and staying up until around 4 a.m., no one looked very good the next morning. While most people woke up around 10 a.m., Peter maybe slept for an hour…then started drinking. One beer turned into drinking games and before long, Peter was drunk, real drunk, by 4 p.m.

Though no one thought Peter would make it past the afternoon, come 11 p.m., he was dancing. He didn’t have the capacity to put one leg in front of next while walking, but seemed to find his rhythm when dancing. He continued his tear until around 4 a.m. once again, and to many people’s surprise, Peter caught the 10 a.m. boat the next day. One more day no more.