Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Exam

As is a custom of the season, I spent the afternoon with my snot-nosed child at the pediatrician's office. Vitamin E was a little grumpy and apprehensive about the impending exam, so I was doing my best to reassure him that there would be no egregiously invasive procedures, long hospitalizations, or shots involved.

I walked him through what was going to happen. "Do you remember what a stethoscope is? Well the doctor will put it here to listen to your heart. Then he'll put the stethoscope on your back so he can listen to your breathing."

I pretended to examine his ears. I put my eyeball up to his nostril and peered up. He giggled uncontrollably.

To reciprocate, he tilted my head up and squinted into my nose.

His assessment:

"Mommy, your nose needs a haircut."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

First Kisses

Annie Savoy: What do you believe in, then?

Crash Davis: Well, I believe in the soul, the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman's back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days. [pause] Crash Davis: Goodnight.

Annie Savoy: Oh my. Crash...

Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: Hey, Annie, what's all this molecule stuff?

- Bull Durham


First kisses should be rarified, mystical things. The first time you kiss somebody, you should feel the need for that kiss gathering like a layer of hot magma in the belly of a volcano. You are functioning and talking and listening but underneath it all is a mantra that says kiss her kiss her kiss her for the love of God kiss her!

You can work up to it all night or it can just catch you in an instant. Somehow that person passes, a full moon, right into your gravitational field, stirring within you a million microscopic cellular oceans, pulling their tides inexorably toward her. And you do. You put your hands on her face, or grab her by the arm, or you lean in. You kiss her.

A really good first kiss feels like falling. Feels like smiling. Like the embrace of a perfect blanket in front of a perfect fireplace. A good first kiss will elicit a swoony feeling.

Swoony feelings are highly underrated.

To kiss someone at the end of a first date simply because that’s what you think you’re supposed to do, that’s like throwing away a golden ticket to Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory. It’s a sin and a waste.

First kisses are worth waiting for. The good ones are.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

8 State Kate

A plug for a friend, a great dog story, and a good cause:



This book was written by my Katrina friend, Jenny. In addition to Kate's amazing story, it features letters and essays from a number of Katrina volunteers, including me. There's reason enough to slap down a few bucks right there!

$5 PER BOOK ORDERED AT https://www.createspace.com/3342404 DURING THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER WILL BE DONATED TO ANIMAL RESCUE ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE SHELTERING ANIMALS FROM HURRICANE GUSTAV IN LOUISIANA AND SURROUNDING AREAS.

8 State Hurricane Kate
The Journey and Legacy of a Katrina Cattle Dog

By Jenny Pavlovic

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina roared into New Orleans, Louisiana, unleashing a torrent of wind and water that forever altered the landscape. In the ensuing weeks, countless people and animals were rescued from the flood-ravaged city. 8 State Hurricane Kate is the unforgettable story of the powerful bond between a cattle dog rescued from a rooftop and the woman who wouldn't give up on her. The heartwarming story of Kate's post-Katrina journey is a testament to the will and perseverance of the dog and human spirit! As they make that courageous journey together, new worlds open up for Jenny and Kate, an amazing survivor and teacher. Kate's remarkable journey, a tale of love, courage, and compassion, has inspired many others. Her legacy is a rescue network that continues to help dogs across the country today. At least 50% of book profits will go to the 8 State Kate Fund, to provide financial relief for animals in desperate situations. Learn more at www.8StateKate.net.

About the author:

Jenny Pavlovic, Ph.D. is a biomedical engineer by vocation and a "dog person" by avocation. She has adopted and rescued purebred and mixed breed dogs, and currently lives in Minnesota with Australian Cattle Dog (ACD) Bandit, rescued ACD-Collie mix Chase, and rescued ACD mix Cayenne. One of her greatest rewards has been seeing rescued dogs break away from pasts of abuse, neglect, or trauma and begin to enjoy life. Jenny has also learned a lot from watching her herding dogs do what they were bred to do. Through working and living with them, she has become a better person and a more confident leader. Jenny has trained her dogs in obedience, rally obedience, agility, herding, carting, tracking, acting (tricks), and therapy dog work. Her day is not complete until she gets out for a walk and a ball game with the dogs. She is active in Australian Cattle Dog rescue and has helped rescue many purebred and mixed breed dogs since Hurricane Katrina. You can see their stories and happy endings at www.8StateKate.net. Jenny is grateful for the new friends that she met through her Katrina rescue efforts and to all who supported Kate. Having the faith to take that unknown journey led to many new riches in her life. Jenny has published technical abstracts, patents, and magazine and newspaper articles. This is her first book.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Three years later...


I wrote this on the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina as a message to all of the many people who I had met, in person and online, in the course of post-Katrina animal rescue.

I'm posting it again, in honor of all of these same people and in memory of so many animals. For anyone who gives of themselves for others, this is for you, too.

With love,

Foop

=====================
Hurricane Katrina, one year later…

So here we are, one year after Hurricane Katrina. Hard to believe – it seems at once as if it was last week and yet a thousand years ago. So much has been done. So much has not.

I had been struggling to decide out how to mark this day and it came to me to observe the (Korean) Buddhist tradition of performing 108 bows. You begin in a standing position, drop to your knees, touch your forehead to the floor with palms up on either side of your head, stand up, and repeat. The gesture is somewhat akin to lighting a candle in a Catholic church, but the end result is that your ass hurts a whole lot more when you’re done.

So I awoke this morning before dawn and shuffled outside to my memorial garden, equipped with my trusty zabuton, some incense, a couple of candles, and a very foggy head.

As I was bowing and standing, bowing and standing, the past year flooded over me. I saw the images, remembered the names, relived the stories, and experienced the intolerable heartbreak anew. Linus, Big Yellow Dog, Mee-Moo, 8 State Kate, Cleo, Leaf, Little Joe, Pasados, Noah’s Wish, Camp Katrina, Best Friends, Gonzales, Lamar Dixon, the Superdome, the Ninth Ward, St. Bernard’s Parish...St. Bernard’s Parish…St. Bernard’s Parish…

Our hearts have broken a thousand times in the last year. And they will break at least thousand more. But, for many of us, we chose the heartbreak over inaction because inaction would crush our souls. We are each of us climbing an arduous and, at times, forbidding mountain. Day after day, we go on.

Some days, your heart is light and you run on the swift legs of the deer.

Some days, your heart is on fire and you prowl with the powerful legs of the tiger.

But on some days, your heart is drowning, and your legs are like lead.

On those days, stop, for the love of God. Sit down, rest yourself, say a prayer for Shannon Moore and then and sit some more. Call a friend, get drunk, go to church, meditate, scream, tell your pets and your family that you love them. Whatever you have to do.

To paraphrase the mighty Ani DiFranco:

i could wake up screaming sometimesbut i don't
i could step off the end of this pier but
i've got a litter of puppies to bottle feed
and an appointment on tuesday
to have 47 cats neutered


Instead of looking up the mountain to the terrain you have yet to cover, try to see behind you to all of the lives you have saved, the lives you’ve tried to save, and the innumerable lives you have touched. The number is unknowable, but I assure each of you that it is profound and it is precious beyond words. This is the revolution of Kindness that Michael Mountain talks about. We touch so many lives that we don’t even know about.

If you rescue, if you make phone calls, if you transport, if you cross post, if you change someone’s mind, if you donate or meditate or light a candle or say a prayer – all of these things change the world. Never underestimate the value of what you do. One step at a time - one dog, one horse, one mind, three dozen cats (come on cat people, that’s funny!).

So as I was struggling back to the standing position after my 108th bow, I glanced up at my little Buddha statue and saw something that struck me. A miniscule spider was blithely repelling down the face of the Buddha. I don’t even like spiders, but this one seemed to me as a messenger. As if my little Buddha was winking at me. “Life is here. You are here. All of Life is in this moment. It’s OK. Go ahead, girl.”

Can I get an AMEN?

“Namaste” represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us. It an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another. "Nama" means bow, "as" means I, and "te" means you. Therefore, Namaste literally means "I bow to you."

Namaste. I bow to you all.

8/29/06


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Incomprehensible... but deep

"Fried chicken pants! We are elastic! We are elastic!"

- Random exclamations by my son, who is running around the house like a little apple-cheeked psychopath.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The view from here...

The other day I was sitting at my computer, intently working on something of great personal interest. I felt a pang of guilt and caught myself thinking “Wow, I should really get back to work.”

Then I remembered, “Oh yeah, this IS my job!”

[Pinch me, somebody!]

Several months into my radical and much-agonized-over career change, I could not be happier with my choice. I can’t believe I stuck around the old gig for so long. I’ve kept in touch with friends from The Old Job and they tell me things are exceptionally toxic around the water cooler these days.

Ahhhh, I don’t miss it one teeny weeny bit.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Ten Thousand Leagues Under the Neighborhood Pool


The E-man has started jumping off the diving board.

THE

DIVING

BOARD

(!!!)

The kid’s not even five for cri-eye-eye! I don’t know what The Magic Diving Board Age is supposed to be, but we’re talking about my baby here. It’s all just so…so sudden.

...

The little man adjusts his neon-green shark goggles and steps onto the board. He walks to the end and stops. He does a little butt-shaking dance to pass the time until the diving area is clear.

He glances over his shoulder to make sure Mommy is watching. I smile unconvincingly.

He jumps.

Plunging in, he displaces a little-kid shaped plume of water.

One, one thousand...

In a cylindrical explosion of bubbles, his impossibly tiny body plummets toward the bottom of the pool - the reeelly, reeelly deep part of the pool, which suddenly looks to be about two thousand feet down.

His momentum slows. He starts his lopsided dog-paddle upward, toward the sunlight and air.

I can’t see him. His head is not breaking the surface. Self-talk: He’s fine. Give him a second.

He’s been underwater for hours.

I take a step toward the pool, craning my neck. A miniscule jolt of adrenaline tingles in my torso. I’m ready to jump in.

He emerges.

Two, one-thousand...

I breathe.

He’s beaming. He swims to the ladder, hoists himself out, does that funny little race-walk that kids do in order go as fast as they possibly can without getting called out by the life-guard, and takes his place at the end of the line for the diving board.

Repeat six-hundred and thirty-seven times.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Somebody, please tell me they're kidding

From the latest New Yorker. Really.



Thursday, May 22, 2008

Who Said You Could Grow Up??

It's official. My son no longer says "Yeyyo". Sad mommy. I've had so much fun singing The E-Man's greatest hits including "We all live in a yeyyo submarine", and the line from Coldplay (I think) that goes: "and it was all yeyyo-o".

Happily, the following vocabulary is still in full effect:

Bofe - (there's TWO of 'em!)

Benember - as in "benember to look bofe ways before you cross the street"

Disposedto - as in "benember you're disposedto eat your vegetables"

Paff - as in "We ourselves must walk the paff.” (Buddha, through the mouth of The E-Man)

The Lizard Abazz - is it a new black power character from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series?? No! It's a cult movie starring Judy Garland!

Muncheekins - the little guys who sing "the lollipop man" song from The Lizard Abazz

There are more, many more, which I plan to document obsessively before they become "estink" (like the dinosaurs).

Tell me, Fooplets, what are your favorite kid words??

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Compromises

My mom and her husband are coming to visit. My mom, being of the same ineffable (read, "often confounding and occasionally intolerable") stock as me, equivocated until the last minute and then announced, yesterday, that, yes indeed, they were going to arrive Thursday evening. Well, maybe Wednesday, but probably Thursday.

Oh my oh my.

1) My house is SO not where I want it to be to receive visitors, and B) as I have previously mentioned, I'm a bit anal.

I made A List.

It was an ambitious list. It was a comprehensive list. It was the list of someone who has no idea how long it takes to shampoo a carpet or finish painting a bedroom.

It was a list that was doomed from the beginning. The rug that was going to be shampooed was Carpet Fresh-ed. Mop the hallway? Please.

At approximately 10:52 on Wednesday evening, the list was wadded up and tossed in a trash can.

Ooh - I need to empty all the trash cans...

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Moment for Mister Kitty

Almost exactly twenty years ago, my roommate’s cat went trampin’ around and turned up pregnant. She had four very sickly little kittens and the residents of a ramshackle rental house suddenly found themselves on round-the-clock nursing duty.

The kittens were impossibly small and delicate. For a pack of slacker college students, we were remarkably diligent about the almost hourly bottle feedings. Neil, the wonderfully weird roommate, would carry the tiny things around his shirt pocket to keep them warm – and, well, because he could.


I fell in love with one of the more pathetic ones, a little buff-orange boy I named Opie.

Around that same time, the cat-owning roommate (also my boyfriend) and I were at the tail end of a seriously bad relationship - the worst of my life, without question. One of my earliest memories of Opie was of him sleeping peacefully on my shoulder as Crazy Boyfriend pounded on the bedroom door and shouted death threats at me. I ended up hiding tiny little Opie in a dresser drawer when it sounded like the door was getting ready to give in, just in case I had to go out the window.

It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

In his early years, he was known as “Opie Commando”, named for his habit of gamely attacking my much larger but very neurotic cat, Norman (“Come on, old man, you know you ain’t got no BLADES!”). Opie Commando’s main pastime – no, his mission in life - was Knocking Things Off Of Other Things. Seriously. He would look you flat in the eye as he stretched out on the coffee table and oh-so-deliberately knocked your water glass on the floor.

He was a holy terror and the inspiration for
Pony Girl’s poem – ostensibly written for a class – titled “That Furry Piece of Shit,” which included this passage: “I mandated the painful removal of his claws and nads, and he will have his revenge!”

In the words of Bette Davis, Byron couldn’t have said it better.

Opie saw me through the aftermath of Crazy Boyfriend, my transition from college life to adulthood, at least 5 cities, and more apartments than I care to name. He has known many of my friends and aggravated many of my roommates. He terrorized a lot of dates too. He once pooped in a boyfriend’s coat the first time he spent the night. (That’s kitty for “Dis’s MAH house”)

I met one of my best friends in New York one day when I came home from work and found her stuffing food under the door to my apartment. Opie had a habit of howling when he was bored, hungry, cranky, or, well, awake, and she thought maybe someone had died in there and the poor cat was starving. Hardly, the fat bastard.

Opie has been with me for the last twenty years, literally half of my life. I have obsessed about his well being as if I had pushed him out of my own loins. I wrote poetry about this cat (in quite a different vein as the previously mentioned piece). This cat outlasted my marriage.

By now, Opie is ancient; a feline Methuselah. I can’t comprehend how his little body keeps going. He has wicked arthritis and is in advanced renal failure. My friend Lisa described his coat as looking like “buffalo fur”. I give him shots and subcutaneous fluids on a regular basis (someone should really make me an honorary vet tech). Mostly he sleeps on his little heating pad and follows me into the kitchen to grouse at me until I give him chicken baby food. Then he goes and poops it out on the basement floor right next to the litter box.

This past weekend, on the day between my birthday and Mother’s day, I was taking in some much-needed girlfriend time with one my favoritest favorite girlz,
OTJ. We were on the way to the little Vietnamese nail place for mani-pedi’s when my cell phone rang. It was XS. Before he even said a word, I could tell by his panicked breathing that something was terribly wrong.

I... I was… well… Feeney… we were…

XS was watching the animals for me. This is no small job. My first thought was that my foster dog, who is such a terrier, had gotten away from him and blithely run off into the the big world. I was half right. She is a lovely, silly thing who adores people, but cats are a different matter. I should say right now that I love her and I don't blame her a bit for being what she is.

Somehow she got away from XS as he was taking her outside. She ran back into the house and got a hold of Opie.

When XS called he was on the way to the vet. Opie didn’t look good. His eyes were glazed. His tongue was hanging out. There was blood. XS would call me back when he knew more. Finally, he called again and put the vet on the phone. She was very kind. She described his injuries, the worst of which was a broken jaw, and proceeded to explain how they could wire the jaw up until they could do the first surgery and

I stopped her.

I think we need to let him go.

I could actually hear the doctor’s posture change. She exhaled. Yes, that would probably be best.

I wanted to know if there was any way that they could keep him comfortable until I could get home (I was three states away) to say goodbye. He’s in a lot of pain. she replied.

In recent months, I have been coming to terms with the fact that Opie was going to die, probably sometime soon. But it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be with him when it was time for him to go.

Alright then.

XS, for all his faults, loved Opie too. He held Opie’s little body and cried for a long, long time after his heart stopped beating.

I recounted a kid-friendly version of all of this to my son as we were driving home on Sunday. He took it well. He wanted to know if we were going to get Opie back in a box, like the class hamster who died a couple of weeks ago and was solemnly buried in the preschool flower garden. Then he said
Mommy, it’s OK to be sad. Tell me if you need a hug.

When we got home, Opie’s heating pad was still warm and his medicine was sitting on the counter next to the jars of baby food. Who would have thought that a house with six animals and two people in it could feel so empty?

My heart has a big cat-shaped hole in it.






(he of the pooped-on jacket, after achieving security clearance):

E-man's picture of mommy's garden and Opie in his box, with flowers on top:


Goodnight, Mister Kitty. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Hillary the Stalker, The Big Kid Haircut, and A New Rule

No, for real real. In the last two weeks, I have gotten over a dozen phone calls from her. I pick up, she starts talking and I can't get a word in edgewise. "When I'm president, blah blah blah."

Come on, Hil, aren't you going to ask me about my dogs? My son? Do you want to see some pictures? Hil??

Chelsea even called me today for the love of God.

Can't she see that I'm just not that into her?

**************************

My little baby boy finally got a big kid haircut. Mommy has been a little attached to his golden baby curls, and I was quite sure that if we cut his hair short, I would have to go straight into grief counseling.




The kid has XS's thick, wavy good hair. But it tangles like mommy's at the drop of a hat and he's even more tender-headed. The wailing and gnashing of teeth that accompanied the daily comb-out were wearing on both of us.

XS's many unmarketable skills include being handy with a set of clippers, so he did The Deed when the E-Man was staying at his place over the weekend. When E came back and hopped out of the car, newly shorn, I was frozen to the spot. I waited for a second and didn't feel my heart drop into my shoes. In fact, I was amazed. He is so HANDSOME!

Of course, I'm still following him around wondering where this big kid came from.




************************

New Rule: Foop is not allowed anywhere near the greeting card display at Target - EX-PECIALLY around holidays.

I foolishly went shopping for Mother's Day cards for my own momz, my grandfather's widow, and my soon to be ex-mothers in law, AKA The Nana's, who have babysat my son, held my hand, made me dinner, and taken me out to see the blues since XS walked out. God bless them.

All the "thanks for being there, Mom" cards were threatening to turn me into a puddle and then I got into looking for a card for Eileen. My maternal grandma died when I was in my 20's, and some years later, Gramps ran into, fell in love (again) with and married his high school sweetheart. They were very happy together. Gramps died last May. Eileen was holding his hand and I was looking into his eyes.

I miss my Gramps. He was a Viking and a scholar, the Great Sequoia of the family, a true Pater Familias. He was The Dude in Charge and the universe seems a little less substantial now that he's gone. As my very odd, very funny, and very cynical Uncle Eric said, in his typical dry tone, "One less generation standing between me and the abyss." I wouldn't have put it quite that way, but I get what he means.

So there I am in the Target, missing the world the way it was last year, thinking about my broken family, the beautiful women in my life, my dear old Gramps, the grandmother I never met, and a dog named Kona that I will be writing about soon. I was trying to play it off, but tears were streaming down my cheeks.

Damn you greeting card companies! Damn you all to hell!!




*******************


Bonus pic: (when life gets you down, go see Balloon Boy)


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

So long, and thanks for all the fish...

Hi everyone! Foop’s back. It’s been nutty (insert long list of adventures and tribulations here).

Tomorrow is my last day at the “old” job. Since I graduated college lo these many (many) years ago, I have had three professional jobs, all in this industry, all more or less doing what I’m doing until 5:00 tomorrow.

Last week, all the usual trade pubs ran a blurb to say I was leaving the business (“I’m kind of a big deal,” she said facetiously) It felt odd to see my name bandied about with such familiarity. Then came a surprising and gratifying flood of calls and e-mails. “Good for you, Foop!”, “We’ll miss you,” and so forth; lots of sincere if ultimately unlikely declarations that 'we must stay in touch'.

In a funny way, I was reminded of a senior high school yearbook (“Love ya, stay cool!”). It certainly brought up a lot of memories of times I’ve had and friends I’ve made, as well as The One That Got Away. This is a very social and slightly incestuous business, so suffice to say I’ve had a lot of fun. (For the record, I’ve only “fished off the industry pier” once in all my years – see above - and even that was fairly chaste.) The point is that this is momentous.

And I’m alone.

Since moving here to South Crackalacky, I’ve made a few new friends, but I’ve been too crazy with everything to do much cultivating. For all intents and purposes, I am going through the dissolution of my marriage and a major career change da sola.

It just adds to the surreality of it all. I feel a little floaty and disconnected, like I’m watching all of this through a dreamy haze. When whatever I’m on wears off, I sure hope that there’s not a horrible negotiating-with-God kind of hangover awaiting me. Maybe this is just the frozen moment of clarity as my body is propelled forward in slow motion between one trapeze and the next.

I’m constantly surprised that I seem to be in a pretty good place about all of the things that have happened. I try not to overanalyze it. If I’m feeling OK, then great, right? Why try to talk myself out of it? But occasionally I do feel a sharp pang of loneliness. My inner circle at the moment consists of me, one four year old, and a small herd of animals.

Thank God I’m within driving distance of OTJ.

I have a lot of casual friends but only a few soul sisters. Most of the soul sisters have been with me since college and I’ve picked up a handful of others along the way. Maybe the reason that I don’t have a lot of close friends is that I’m spoiled by the ones that I have.

Deana, for example, is one of those friends who will look you straight in the eye, right when you need it, and say “So, what are you doing to do about it?” And then she puts a fabulous necklace on you and pours you a cup of organic tea. Jess is one of those people who, while the rest of the world is busy fretting about whether they’re going to get their piece of the pie and whether there’s going to be enough of it, shouts (mouth full of cherry filling), “Uh ma got! EVERYONE – you have GOT to come over here and try this awesome PIE!”

I have a few other sisters for whom I thank the universe on a regular basis. I’m lucky, really.

I just wish they were here or I was there.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Honk if you heart gay people!

I signed the pledge and I know Lambda Legal is going to pick my picture for something rilly, rilly high profile. In my one-person home office, I am so the poster girl for the fight against workplace discrimination.




What? you want to combat workplace discrimination too? Joy! I'll let you in on the personal e-mail they sent me:

Almost 90 percent of Americans believe that discrimination against LGBT people is wrong. But that’s not enough.
Sign the pledge for workplace equality today and join our fight against workplace discrimination. Already over 2,500 people have!

And visit Lambda Legal’s 2008 FLICKR Clock In Group to see who else has signed on. Then post your own photo.

To add your photo:
Create your sign that clearly says “I signed the pledge.”
Take a photo of yourself holding the sign.
Send it to isigned@lambdalegal.org.*

There are only four weeks left until our national Clock In Pledge-a-Thon for Workplace Equality. On May 15 countless Americans will show their support in cities and towns across the country. Let's send a powerful message to corporations and lawmakers that discrimination is unacceptable in the workplace.

Together we can get thousands more people to sign by May 15. Together we can crush workplace discrimination!

*By sending your photo you grant Lambda Legal permission to copyright, publish and/or use any portrait of which you are included, and your personal statement submitted, in whole or part of, for advertising, trade or any other lawful purpose whatsoever.

Pledge-a-Thon for Workplace Equality
Sign the Pledge

*****

Are you still here? Go sign the pledge already.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I'm just sayin'

Some days I wish I had some kind of timer that would just kick me off my computer and tell me to get a life...

Hint: this is one of them.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Pinkeye Vortex

Somewhere out in the cosmic murk, there is a team of karma engineers – geeky and slightly imposing types cloaked in white lab coats and goggles, right out of a slick luxury car commercial – who test certain models for ability to stand up under strain... and/or impressively streaming clouds of sanitized white smoke.

I was really hanging in there for a while. I swear.

Some very aggravating stuff has been lobbed at me in the past few days, including but not limited to –

A computer virus that sent my laptop into blue screen followed by paroxysms of flying code, every line of which starts with the dreaded word “deleting”. Every contract, letter, photo, spreadsheet and so forth that I have created since August 2007 is gone, daddy gone.

But I was pretty cool about it.

My basement flooded. I didn’t lose any stuff, but I did lose many hours over the weekend shop-vac’ing up gallons upon gallons of water the color of a stiff café latte.

No prob, Bob!

Sink’s backed up.

I got it.


Disheveled man at the door telling me I owe him 20 bucks.

Color me cucumber.

The engineers decided to kick it up a notch.


"Throw some pink eye at her, Lars.”

“Ehhxcellent, Roderick. Even better, give it to the child”

Lars: “Roger that. Be sure to pack the drop-in clinic so they have to wait for three hours.”

Roderick (incredulous): “Lars!! Are you MAD!??”

Lars: “Listen, we have to know if this baby can take it”

Dolf Lundgren, Rocky IV: “I must break you”

Lars and Roderick (leaping out of their seats): “Hey, who let this guy in here??”


Do you know what the average four year old looks like after three hours at a drop in clinic?
Ha ha. No, I keed. Not about the three hours, unfortunately, but about E being out of his mind. He was actually ubercool about the whole thing. I kept looking at him, wide-eyed, and telling him how patient he was being and how much I appreciated it.

Nonetheless, I still firmly believe that leaving a mother and small child waiting for three hours should be a felony, punishable by some old Code of Hammurabi type death, or at least by being smitten (smited? smote? OK, pelted) with many small objects that really sting.

After we had run through every snack, toy, and coloring activity, and, to the great delight (not) of the fellow denizens of Sartre’s waiting-room, read several chapters of Alice in Wonderland aloud, they finally called E’s name.

E disappeared into the back of the clinic with the nurse as I hastily collected the vast pile of accoutrements that had spread itself across the northeast end of the waiting area. I then endeavored to catch up without dropping anything more than twice.

Of course, we were not yet to be granted our audience with Herr Docktor. We were directed to cool our heels in a little exam area and corralled by a hospital curtain. I quickly learned that a micrometer of fabric does nothing to muffle the noises of a four year old boy in the throes of activity.

And by “activity”, I mean that he had perched himself atop the rolling doctor’s stool and was flinging himself around the room, deliberately bouncing himself off the exam table, cabinets, etc.

I like to think that, normally, I would have stopped him. But these were extraordinary circumstances. Mommy was Out Of Gas.

Plus he was having SUCH a good time. (“giggle giggle” THWAP! “giggle giggle” BAM!)

It was clear to me, at this point, that the Karma Engineers were satisfied that they had found my breaking point and had turned their attention to the clinic staff.

For the record, the going rate for getting a 4 year old to let you stick a tube of ointment in his eyeball (cajoling not included) is one large marshmallow and three jelly beans.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Her Heart Beats in Me

There is a picture in my room of the grandmother I never met. She died when my father was just a child.

The picture is sepia-toned. The woman in it is wearing a hat and smiling. Not a broad smile, but something more opaque; a Scottish immigrant girl’s take on Mona Lisa. I find myself gazing at her for long periods of time trying to read her eyes, which don’t quite match the smile. I always come back to the question of whether she was happy at all. She worked in a factory. Her husband was an alcoholic. She had six children and, at the time she died, she was pregnant with number seven.

I can’t begin to imagine such a life. Did her children bring her joy? Was she too exhausted to feel it?

I had it in my head for many years, I don’t know why, that she had died of Polio. Later, I heard the official story; that she died of blood poisoning from an injury at the factory. Only recently, my father (who is just now working through the mountain of emotional detritus left by her death and the subsequent abandonment of him and his siblings at a local orphanage) told me that she died as a result of a botched abortion. She was twenty-six.

To say that I was floored by this revelation might qualify as the understatement of the year.

It’s not so much that I discovered that “my grandmother” had tried to give herself an abortion, since I never knew this woman as my grandmother. I never even saw a photograph of her until a few years ago. It’s just that this was the ‘30’s. She came from a time when these things didn’t happen.

Right??

The following are some excerpts from an essay someone sent me about the suffrage movement that fought for and won women’s right to vote (as chronicled in the HBO movie “Iron Jawed Angels”). I’m afraid it didn’t include the author’s name, so if anyone recognizes it, please let me know.


Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'

They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

The nineteenth amendment was ratified on August 26th, 1920.

While it would certainly be easy to do, I’m not going in a “rock the vote” direction here. Reading the passages above, however, inspires me personally to vote and voice my opinion as a citizen at every conceivable opportunity (condolences are in order to my local City Council).

Nor is this meant to be an exhortation to pro-choice activism, although I do believe in a woman’s right to choose. Knowing how his mother’s death affected my father, and knowing how his own struggle with abandonment has colored my life and relationships, I can’t help but wonder what the world would look like if my grandmother had been able to terminate her last pregnancy and had lived to a ripe old age. But then, might she have terminated her fourth pregnancy, my father, thereby obliterating my and my son’s existence?

And how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

Dad told me about a conversation he had with his older brother:


Vern tells me that we were all taken to the hospital to see her, an experience that is a blank in my memory bank. In a therapy session I had last year in which I was to think of my mother with my eyes closed, an apparition appeared to me in a prone position; it reached out to me with one hand. I told Vern about this experience at Christmas time, and he said she did reach out to all of us on her death bed.

My dad was four years old - the same age that my little man is now. I picture my own son in this scene and I can’t bear it. I wish I could travel to the universe in which my father is four. I wish that I could scoop that scared, abandoned, sad child into my arms and hold him as tightly as I can.

I am humbled and grateful that, if I wanted to, I could go right this second, burst into my own child’s preschool, scoop him up into my arms, and hold him as tightly as I can; at least until he looks at me and says “Mommy, can you be the Tickle Monster?”

I am humbled and grateful that I live in a time and place in which I can vote against the bums who don’t agree with my astute world view. I am humbled and grateful that I live in a time and, as messed up as our country is, a place in which, as a woman, I do have control over my life.

I look back at the photograph of my grandmother and I see a young woman, a sister, maybe a kindred spirit, who was born in the wrong place and time. A woman who got the short end of the stick.

My heart goes out to her. I’d like to think that her heart beats in me.

Her name was Eleanor.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

"We have a winner!" and "My first tag!!"

Such exciting times here in Fooptopia.

First of all, I'm happy to announce that we have a winner in the fabulous Find the Pit Bull Game.

It's... (pause for elimination-series-type dramatic build-up, cut to commercial... annnnnnnnd we're back) Mister Jakelliesmom! (or would that be Jakellie's Dad?) The American Pit Bull Terrier is the little chap in square 16, right below Charles Nelson Reilly (badum-ching!). A list of the other breeds will be at the bottom ("Mommy! That's a bathroom word!") of this post.

Jakelliesmom, send me the pertinent info and we'll have a deluxe Petey the Pit Bull T-shirt on the way. Congrats to the mister. But the rest of you, don't despair - everyone else who played gets a consolation prize: a box of feral cats! Just send along an address and proof of current vaccinations please... Thankyougoodnight!

***************
And B) I'm all wiggly to report that I have been tagged by a fellow bloganista (also Jakelliesmom, but I assure you all that her hubz winning the t-shirt has nothing to do with it). I'm a newbie here in blogworld, so this is very exciting for me personally. Sono arrivata, grazie!

So here's the deal:

Pick up the nearest book of at least 123 pages.
Open the book to page 123.
Find the 5th sentence.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.

I am flattered that Jakelliesmom is under the impression that I read interesting books. It's fair to say that I have a nice display of interesting books. I had hoped that I might impress my Foopeeps with some lines from, say, Dante's Inferno or Atlas Shrugged, despite the fact that I've never made it past the first 3 pages of the latter before tossing the book over my shoulder in disgust. As my Very Funny Friend Larry says, "I get the philosophy, I get the imagery, I get the ambitious nature of your prose, Ayn...now...MOVE IT ALONG, BABY!!"

But I digress... the first book that my hand landed on was The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the complete and unabridged collection of all six books in the extravagantly ineptly-named Hitchhiker Trilogy.

Don't ever let me try to tell you that I'm not a complete geek. Did I mention that I used to play on the U of I Nuclear Physics Lab softball team? We sucked but we had a lot of fun in the cryo-hut , freezing and shattering improbable things like Kleenex with liquid nitrogen.

Oops, I'm doing it again...

Without further adieu:


"Do you want me to kick you?" said Ford.
"Would it give you a lot of pleasure?" said Zaphod, wearily.
"No."

That's a lot of builf up for not very many words, but there you go. Now I get to tag people. Whoopee! I choose you Pikachu!

OK, my first pick has to be OTJ, because she is my hero and she's the chick who nudged me, gently and persistently, until I started a blog of my bery own.

Then, La Liv, of Madness, Madness, I Say, my first friend here in blogworld. Because we're going to rent white tuxedos and get married one of these days.

Chickychickbaby, because girlfriend is hi-larious and loves dogs.

Flutter, because she sees the world through a sometimes dark but always beautiful lens, and she can string words together like nobody else.

and Mama Tulip, because I bought her April Fool's joke and I envy her perpetual bathtub.

Let's play!

****************************************


ANSWERS TO ‘FIND THE PIT BULL,
Copyright © 2006 Veronique Chesser, http://www.pitbullsontheweb.com/

1. Boxer
2. Dogue De Bordeau
3. Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog
4. Great Swiss Mountain Dog
5. Vizsla
6. Rhodesian Ridgeback
7. Dogo Argentino
8. Labrador Retriever
9. Bull Mastiff
10. Jack Russell Terrier
11. Fila Brasilerio
12. Rottweiler
13. Presa Canario
14. American Bulldog
15. Cane Corso
16. American Pit Bull Terrier
17. Patterdale Terrier
18. Olde English Bulldogge
19. Catahoula
20. Bull Terrier
21. Black Mouth Cur
22. Alano Espanol
23. Boerboel
24. Ca De Bou
25. Thai Ridgeback

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Let's Play Find the Pit Bull!



Or: "Foopy Flakes' Soapbox Series, Volume One"

FIND THE PITBULL

Only one of the pictures below features a real American Pit Bull Terrier. Take the test to see if you can find it and post your pick in the comments section. The first person to get it right wins a fabulous Petey the Pit Bull T-Shirt:




Extra credit to anyone who can name some of the other breeds. How many can you guess??









Caveats, caveats, yadda, yadda, yadda: All dogs pictured are purebreds whose photos have been selected from breeders' web sites. I will credit the creator of this game after we've all had a chance to play.


Woof!! (Feeney says "Good luck!")



Thursday, March 27, 2008

Morning Face or "It's not how I look, it's how I CAN look"














In keeping with the "naked" pictures being posted by various bloganistas, here are Feeney and me, not a scrap of make-up on either one of us.

Note the greenish patch near the outside of my eye. That's actually a shiner; a dog play injury. Feestie McBeastie has a hard little head.

Lucky for all of you, there's not a utility to share morning breath...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Free association and the (d)evolution of religion

OK, so yesterday's smorgasboard of pan-cultural Easter weirdness got me thinking...


Anyone who has done even the most cursory study of comparative religion knows that there are what can be tactfully described as "similarities" in the narratives of all major religions.

Example: Isis, with Horus at her breast, was the prototype for the Christian Madonna.

We all pretty much know that Christmas and Easter have roots in (gasp) pagan fertility rites. This we also know: the rabbit has been the mascot for Team Fertility since way back in the Way Back Time. Later, somewhere in sixteenth century Germany*, someone came up with the idea that a white bunny, the Oschter Haus, would lay colorful eggs in the homes of well-behaved children (thusly providing yet another opportunity for holiday-oriented parental coersion).


*Let us all share in a moment of thanks for the fact that we celebrate Easter with chocolate and jellybeans, rather than blood-sausage and zwiebelfleisch.

Somewhere along the line, we went from wild pagan hootenannies to, if you'll pardon the expression, a neutered, sugar-coated holiday that is manifested with an obsessive eye toward fuzzy bunnies. But when and how did the fuzzy baby chicks jump into the fray? I can't prove it, but my money is on the Hallmark Company.

Joseph Campbell observed that the interpretation of God(s) changes to reflect the changing character of society.


Oh mighty Isis, is this what we have become?


*************************************

Random tidbits for my foopeeps:

In my *cough* research for this blog, I watched a video about the pagan fertility origins of Easter on the History Channel website. The video was sponsored by Viagra. Effin brilliant.

I caved and finally took my first trip to the local sprawl-mart (eau de humanity!) in search of at least a few non-sugar-based items that could fit inside weensy plastic eggs. I discovered approximately nine billion and ten Hannah Montanna items as well as these adorable (gak) CAMO eggs. While I was not able to find a Jesus-as-Rambo action figure, I'm sure it's out there.

Lastly, while Isis can kick your ass, Jesus is way cool:






Sunday, March 23, 2008

Pan Cultural Easter Weirdness at Foop's House




Pictures now, pithy and insightful comments forthcoming... uh, maybe...


Friday, March 21, 2008

My Little Piglet

Did anyone notice the moon tonight? I don't know what it looks like where you all are, but here in North Carolina, it is a full-on, Anne Rice vampire moon. It's huge and low and looks like it's about to bump into the earth and then drift off benignly in another random direction, like some impossible cosmic goth balloon.

I was out for a walk with Queen Feefertiti tonight when I gazed up and was caught, transfixed, for full minutes before I came back to my senses and wondered why my canine companion, usually a machine of terrieresque perpetual motion, had not tugged at her leash to get me moving along. I noted in passing that she had been occupied herself, whiffling frumoiusly at some small shrubbery.

Later, curling up with her on the carpet, I went to kiss her blocky head and found that it smelled overwhelmingly of rosemary.

Bliss.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Without a Net

Oh, my little brain has been bouncing around like the ball in a freakish, high stakes game of ping pong . My personal movie score changes second by second from the Rocky theme to World on Fire to Greatest Love of All.

OK, so I made up that last bit (Whitney Houston? Please.) but you get the picture. I have a burning question that plagues me. My constant inner dialogue sounds pretty much like this: Follow the money/follow the bliss? Follow the money/follow the bliss? Follow the money/follow the bliss?

On the face if it, such an easy question, but my optimism (glass half full) is usually tempered with an extravagant dose of realism - some might call it "pessimism" or "anxiety" or "vibrating too high". I call it The Glass Half on Fire.

Some dead existentialist once said that perception is reality (So, does he now perceive that he is dead? How do I know the color blue to you is the same as... ) Yoda said, "Do or do not do. There is no try."

Indeed, but platitudes do not shoes on the baby put.

The point I'm trying to make, in my rambling, parenthetical way, is that my entire view of the question of whether to keep the money job or go for the bliss job changes so dramatically and thoroughly depending on which way the wind is blowing. I have my head up my navel, searching the universe for a guarantee that everything will be OK. I've asked my parents what they think, my friends, my dogs, fortune cookies, the In Style horoscope page, random bumper stickers, the set list at Friday's Ani DiFranco show. Surely the omens are out there trying to guide me. Why can't they speak up???

The fact is that there is no guarantee. Clinging to the notion that I can find it somewhere will simply result in my dying the thousand deaths of the proverbial coward. According to Zen, it is this desire to always avoid pain and seek out security that causes suffering. In Zen, it is only by embracing groundlessness, by swimming so far out to sea that you no longer have the reference point of the shore, that you can become awakened.

Really? 'Cuuuz that sounds like it would make me rilly, rilly, uncomfortable.

Perhaps another analogy would be that, in the great trapeze act of life, you have to let go of the one trapeze in order to catch the next one. Otherwise you just hang there, swinging and running of momentum, eventually calling "A little help here?" to an empty circus tent. And no, you don't get a net.

I tell myself that the decision would be easier if I didn't have a child to consider, but maybe that's disingenuous. I'd agonize about it in any case. The real question is this: Is it a better life lesson for him to see his mommy following her dreams and standing up for her convictions, or for him to have a miserable corporate mommy who buys him lots of crap but hates her life?

I gave notice at my corporate gig yesterday.






**********

PS: On the topic of religion, I give you Eddie Izzard's Church of England.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

All about... All About Eve

I am positively buzzing with scratch-your-eyes-out catty joy, as I have just finished watching All About Eve, arguably my favorite movie of all time. Well, "watching" is perhaps too passive a term. "Reciting along with" may be more appropriate. The dialogue is so wickedly.. well, wicked. It's not campy, really, but it never fails to brings out my inner drag queen (my drag queen/tranny fixation may be fodder for a future post).

I mean, really, the whole movie is just a smorgasbord of one zinger after another. Here are just a few that make me as deliriously happy as John Waters in a condemned trailer park:


Addison DeWitt: "You have a point. An idiotic one, but a point."


Also Addison DeWitt: "You're maudlin and full of self-pity. You're magnificent!"


Eve Harrington [throwing door open]: "Get out. "
Addison DeWitt: "You're too short for that gesture."


Miss Caswell (Marilyn Monroe in her first bit part): "You won't bore him, honey. You won't even get a chance to talk."


And of course, the classic, Margo Channing (Bette Davis): "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night."

For the record, I do a mean Bette Davis impression. I think it beats my lip-synch version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", but not by much.

Have I mentioned that I'm a drag queen trapped in a woman's body? (Stay with me, I know it's confusing).

Next up, Sunset Boulevard. Oh, snap!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Jeff Tweedy is trying to break my heart.

It's a beautiful, sunny day. I'm painting my son's room an impossibly cheery color, listening to Wilco and trying not to cry.

For the last 9 months or so, I have been preparing to leave my fat corporate job and go to work for a non-profit foundation that I adore. I mean, if they made baseball cards of these people, I would have all of them. Framed. I don't think I could have dreamed up a position that would better suit my skill set as well as my passion. They actually created the position just for me! It's a big drop from corporate money to a non-profit salary, but there was no question in my mind that I would rather cut corners and follow my bliss.

Of course, my financial picture has changed somewhat since X left. X is thirty-nine, by the way, and he left me for an eighteen year old girl. And yes, you're damn right I'm bitter. As a matter of fact, I will henceforth refer to him as XS. Extra small, indeed.

Anyway, last week, I met with my financial advisor, who told me in no uncertain terms that I cannot afford to take my dream job unless they're willing to give me significantly more money. I have explained my situation to Dream Job, Inc., and they are looking into it but I'm not holding my breath. Well, actually, I am holding my breath, but I'm not optimistic.

For the last ten years, XS has lived completely off of my largesse. I funded several album projects and an entire recording studio (none of which made a dime), and then paid all the bills so that he could go back to school full time, finish his bachelor's and get a master's degree. After years of waiting for my frog to turn into the prince he kept swearing to God that he was, he finally got a job... and then he left.

Fine, I thought. At least he's done fucking up my life, I thought.

My bad.

"Just shouldn't ever have to be this
hard"


Amen, Brother Tweedy.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Spider Detente

(Spoiler: Moderate gross factor. Proceed at your own peril.)

I don’t like spiders.

Intellectually, I understand how useful they are and, somewhat more vaguely, why etymologists get so wiggly about them, but that doesn’t stop the rush of fear based adrenaline that I feel when ever I see one. (Garg!) See, I used to have really scary dreams about spiders. I don’t want to freak anyone out, so I won’t mention that they had largely to do with spiders laying eggs in my eyeballs.


Oh… sorry.


But I have come a long way. Back in the day, I would frantically call to whomever was in earshot and command/beg them to dispose of the offending beast BY. ANY. MEANS. NECESSARY. But then came that pesky Buddhist thing about not harming other creatures, blah blah blah.

So the spider world and I came to an uneasy détente. I stopped commanding their destruction and they continued to be utterly unaware of my existence… Except in those little spider meetings where they talk about where to put the egg sack and all of that. Then I was prime real estate.

So I was hugely impressed with myself for living peacefully alongside a particularly creepy looking spider that took up residence in my bathroom. He (I say ‘he’ despite having no idea or desire to know what spider boy parts look like, but just because I thought it looked like a he. Look, I don’t know. OK?)… HE settled into a high corner of the slanted ceiling where it seemed unlikely that any spider molecules would fall on my toothbrush or anything, so I thought, “Fine. You just be sure to eat any skeeters if you see ‘em and you can stay.”

By the third day, I was feeling a little benevolence toward my eight legged buddy. I found myself looking for him each time I went into the bathroom – and not in an “is it going to bad-touch me” kind of way either. We were coexisting. Beautiful. Yay for me.

On day four, I was a bit taken aback to find that he had repositioned himself over my shower. Suddenly he was the unwelcome settler in my little porcelain Gaza strip. I showered uneasily, never taking my eyes off of him and almost hurling myself bodily out of the tub when he appeared to stumble at one point. Great. Nothing like being naked with a clumsy spider lurching around over your head.

But we made it through without incident. Wow. I was really getting good at this whole compassionate abiding thing.

The next morning, as I pulled back the shower curtain and my eyes traveled up to the ceiling…

(Insert here: screeching violin theme from Psycho)

… I saw two spiders. Or, really, the desiccated remains of one spider and another spider standing fatly over them.

(Skree! Skree! Skree! Skree!!!!)

Now I know as well as the next person that female spiders mate and then kill and eat the males. Or something. So either my spider had just had his innards sucked out of him or he was a she who was now joyously expecting the patter of a squillion little feet.

It didn’t matter. I had come so far.

I grabbed a broom and squashed her all by myself.

Ain't gonna be no egg sack, byotch... Ain't gonna be no egg sack.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Bungalow of Perdition

Somewhere in the vicinity of Dante’s Seventh Circle of Hell is The Bungalow of Perdition. This is a special hell for obsessive types. It’s unspeakable.

If you want to torture a perfectionist, I mean really torture them, stick them in a badly painted room with a can of Pratt and Lambert and a linty roller. Come back three days later and you will find them writhing in agony and sanding miniscule bumps off the ceiling.

In a funny coincidence, just yesterday I was sanding miniscule bumps off my own ceiling (I have a sander that hooks up to a shop vac so there is no dust!). Of course, I realize that this is a bit over-the-top, hence there was some rather spirited self-talk in the process.

This is ridiculous. I need to get down off this ladder and walk away… Oh. My. Gawd! That crack over there! Where is my Dremmel tool???… Just put the sandpaper down already… OK, just this one more little bump… and this one…

In my defense, I have to say that the people who owned this house before me (bless their hearts, etc.) were not exactly crack home-maintenance types. I imagine it was they who are responsible for the very sloppy paint jobs that are the source of my torment. I’m serious. They painted over EVERYTHING. Door knobs, switchplates, lint… I fully expect to come across a spider, sealed forever in mid-skulk in some LaBrea tar pit of cheery yellow latex.

Anyone remember the old décor idea of jamming candles into an empty bottle of Chianti and letting the wax drip down the sides? Yeah. That’s about what my walls look like (at least through the filter of my obsessive personality). Seriously, they are drippy. And don’t get me started on the trim. I’m mystified that anyone could do such a bad job. Were they wasted? Grossly sight impared?? Why, God, WHY???

I was reminded of a conversation that X and I had a long time ago with our very excellent therapist, Margie:

Margie: “So, you’re a bit of a perfectionist then.”
“I hardly think so”, scoff I.
Margie looks at me quizzically.
“Well, if I were a perfectionist, wouldn’t everything I did be perfect??”
Margie and X exchange glances.

There is a little known legend about Vampires that they are obsessive counters. I have often wondered if someone at the Children’s Television Workshop knew this or if it was just Sesame Street Serendipity that they came up with Count Count. Anwyay, folklore says that if a vampire were to come upon a bag of rice, it would have to count every grain before resuming pursuit of its now long-gone victim. Me? I can be suitably paralyzed with that can of Pratt & Lambert.

Anyway, I gotta go. Lots of sanding to do. My god, these people were savages.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Frivolous Friday. Why not?

I can write music!

Hawaii Five-Oh
Ba pa ba pa BAH bah ba pa ba pa baaaaaaa
Ba pa ba pa BAH BAAH, ba pa ba pa baaaaaaa!

SQUEET bwe de zoop dee bwee da de daaaa
BRREEET doodley-adah bwe da da da
bum pum ba pa baaah BAAAAH, zoop da da da DAAAAA!


Yeah. I can scat. What about it??


My cat can paint.





Thursday, February 14, 2008

Words to live by

Someone sent me one of those sappy e-mails today.

You know the ones - toward the end, there is inevitably a line in which the author "had to hold back tears" due to some gesture or words from a noble stranger, preternaturally benovelent child, etc, etc. They always strike me as contrived and sacchrine.

O! Drippy Internet Wisdom! O! Chicken Soup for the Soul of the Glassy-Eyed Keyboard Kommando!

This stuff just grates on me. Apparently the writers who gave us "A very special episode of Blossom" now have too much time on their hands. I, on the other hand, am incredibly important and busy and have no time for this dreck (Um...pay no attention to the hypocritical woman behind this blog-o-curtian).

So I got this dopey e-mail. Not sure why I actually read it but, after I waded through the corny- corn of its literary manure, there was a kernel of meaning, and it was this:

Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain


My hackles went down a bit. I exhaled. I...I liked it!

I thought about so many friends old and new, and all of their storms, large and small; the Mayor's broken arm; Liv's Really Really Bad Week; M's marriage; my own marriage; friends who have lost spouses, parents and grandparents recently; the list goes on.

It's raining like hell out there, people.


That's it. I'm trading in my umbrella for some tap shoes. Who's with me??



Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Feeney and the Cheese Man




One of the things I do obsessively is rescue animals. Dogs, typically. I don't do it on purpose, I swear. I think I have some infrared bat-signal that serves as a beacon to any stray dog within a 50 mile radius. I can't even go on a road trip without picking up a mutt off the side of the highway... (see Benny, right).

Usually they are adopted out fairly quickly. I had mister Ben for almost exactly one month before he was placed.
Whew! Now I only have FOUR dogs in the house again. Mm-hm. God bless you Swiffer company.

Then there's Miss Feeney, AKA Feefer-Neefers, AKA Fi-nay-nay, AKA Feestie Beastie, AKA Queen Feefertiti... you get the idea. She's more of a hard case. Perfectly sweet dog, but she's a pit bull, so everyone assumes she's just lying in wait to eat their children.

Everyone, that is, except the Cheese Man.

The Cheese Man lives next door with his wife. They are a very sweet, old-school southern couple of an indeterminate age (Paleolithic, I'd wager).

The Cheese Man, like all respectable old-school southern types, spends a prodigious amount of time sitting on his front porch in a standard-issue white plastic lawn chair. He always wears suspenders despite the fact that his pants go up to his armpits. Needless to say, I like the Cheese Man.

His wife, Missus Cheese Man, looks - and I say this with the deepest affection - like the dad from Frasier in a pink, quilted house coat. She has an impossibly small Yorkie named Cassie. So small, in fact, that Missus Cheese Man picks up Cassie's elfin "leavings" with a piece of Kleenex, invariably produced with a flourish from a pocket in the aforementioned house coat. (As a point of reference, I typically have to use a full-sized plastic shopping bag to clean up after my puppers.)

Each night at about the same time, I go for a walk with Feeney and my son (who, I hasten to add, is still in possession of his entire face and all ten fingers). Each night, the last thing we pass before coming home is the House of Cheese.

The Cheese Man loves Miss Feeney. When he was a younger man, there was a company dog named Copper at the lumber yard where he worked. She was a pit bull too and everyone there loved her. This was back in a time when pit bulls were America's dog. When their images were used in advertisements for everything from shoes to soap flakes.

Petey was a pit bull.


Sometime since then, pit bulls became Public Enemy Number One. They were stripped of their canine-ness much as victims of bigotry and hatred were stripped of their humanity. Sometime since then, they were relegated to the "Horrible Things We Have No Control Over" category along with the Ebola Virus, Terrorists, Tabloids and Space Aliens.

In most cases, pit bulls get a lot worse from us then we get from them.


This is the life that Feeney led before I got her. She was living on a chain in a mud-soaked holler surrounded by forty other dogs, also chained. She was half starved, scarred, mangy, in the advanced stages of heatworm disease, and had clearly been popping out puppies faster than a cash machine can dispense a pile of twenties (girlfriend got her some NIPS!)

Still, she absolutely loves people. She's a shameless flirt.

When I walk her in certain neighborhoods, as she looks optimistically up at an approaching family and gamely wags her tail, the parents will clutch their children and flee in terror, looking at me as if I were brandishing a shotgun.

But not the Cheese Man. Everytime we see him, he breaks into a big grin and says, "Now there's that bull dawg!"

The Cheese Man loves Miss Feeney. Miss Feeney loves the Cheese Man. As soon as we round the corner, she abandons her sterling obedience training and hauls me up the lawn. I trail behind as helpless and insignificant as a tin can tied to the bumper of a Mac Truck.

As if on cue, the Cheese Man bellows "Becky! Bring me a slice of American Cheese for that bull dog!" (In the local patois, it sounds like "Beggeah! Brang meah slahs ah Umericun chayz fo' that buuull dawg!").

Feeney's eyes light up. She hurls her little body into a sit with her chin poised millimeters from the Cheese Man's knees. She vibrates with joy.

And, as Missus Cheese Man pads up to the door to produce a pristinely wrapped slice of American Cheese, the Cheese Man gets a happy, far-away look in his eyes and asks my son and me if he's ever told us about that old bull dog, Copper.

Miss Feeney