Thursday, September 30, 2010

Roll This!

I found a kindred spirit. My friend, M, posted on Facebook a few months ago that she was intrigued by Roller Derby and wanted to go to a bout. I've wanted to do that for years! So we coordinated schedules and found a bout and we, along with both of M's daughters, M and M, are headed to a double header on October 9th (you're welcome stalkers).

Now, M (the mom) turned 50 this past weekend. She was able to celebrate with two of her best and longest time friends. One of these funny ladies gave her the gift of a complete roller derby outfit. It involves short shorts over hot pants, Hanson brothers glasses, a derby name and a signature move. It's serious.

Listening to the description of this epic gift M (daughter #1) and I locked eyes across the brunch table. "OK, we need to step up our game." she whispered intently. And she's right.

I've got a short schoolgirl kind of kilt and some leggings. I think my Blundstones will come in handy. Surely I can cobble together some kind of top for this outfit. I don't have a derby name, though. I can't come up with anything. So, like, Pamie is officially May Q. Holla when she's on the track. Who should I be? Kizz My Ass doesn't quite work as a name, it's more of just a directive. Although I guess Kizz Ass could be a name but it's not terribly formidable.

I need your help. I want to put my derby name on my shirt (or possibly my spanx so if you want to know my name I have to flip up my skirt - bonus, if we're writing it on my ass we've got plenty of room). Please find me a derby name! I want to be fierce but funny. I want to be stern but saucy. Elegant and eloquent, you get that, right? Discussion will continue in the comments, see you there!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Photo Challenge: Aaahhhhhhh

Hey there, remember that Ahhhhh Photo Challenge? Well here we are with the post! Don't forget to click the photographers' names to see the rest of their work. You may also see comments about the photos when you click through so if you're wondering what a photo is or how it was taken one click may reveal all. The new challenge info is right down at the bottom of this post. You know, after all the cool pictures.

I cannot express enough how much I enjoy getting the submissions for these challenges. If, for some crazy reason, you ever want to make my day just toss a photo into that Flickr pool. I swear to you I check it every day and I get a little jolt of the happy every time there's something new there to look at.

To entice more jolts out of you I give you the next challenge. It's PERFECT. Please don't turn that into something to make your life difficult. The photo doesn't have to be perfect. Is that even possible? Take it any way you like. A photo of something or someone you think is perfect or perfect for you? You can go sarcastic with it. Are you trying to perfect anything? Just roll with it, there is no wrong answer.

Please tag photos with PhotoChallenge and PERFECT when you add them to our Flickr Pool. Submissions for this one close at 9am on Tuesday October 12 for posting on Wednesday October 13.

Thank you again for supporting these challenges, they are dear to my heart.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

We're Not Talking Roll On

I'm still calling this 10 Things Tuesday but I'm not limiting myself to 10. It's Banned Books Week. I went through the ALA's list of banned and challenged books and chose some that have spoken to me. Some of them really shouldn't speak that way in mixed company.

As I Lay Dying - This was the first Faulkner book I ever read. It introduced me to stream of consciousness and changing narrator. It taught me my first literary inside joke (My mother was a fish.). I fell in love with him and his in these pages. My life and my writing would not be the same without this particular work.

Catcher in the Rye - I read it because I thought it'd be the cool thing to do. Made essentially no impression on me at all. Think I might need to read it again now that I've lived in NYC.

Lord of the Flies - Kind of can't look at a group of young boys playing and not think of this book now.

Lysistrata - The Greek theatrical format has all the action happening off stage and this is a play about specifically not getting any action so why ban it? Oh, because the women defy the government? Heh, yeah, I guess that could be frightening.

The Great Gatsby - Again, not much of an impression on me but a friend loved it so I read along.

To Kill A Mockingbird - It's a great book. It's about justice. Some people, I guess, hate justice.

The Color Purple - I saw the movie then I read the book. Then I read everything else that Alice Walker wrote. Images from her books still come to me all the time.

Beloved - Interspersed with the Alice Walker canon I read Toni Morrison. This, though, has to be the book that grabs your heart with its fingers and squeezes. (Check out what I found while looking for a picture of Ms. Morrison. Apparently I'm not the only one who sees a link between her and Mr. F.)

1984 - Well, of course it's unsettling, that's the whole point!

The Sound & The Fury - More Faulkner. Had I not read this with a class I wouldn't have understood even a page of it and I still loved it.

Charlotte's Web - When people start challenging Charlotte's Web we know that the world has gone mad.

Animal Farm - It's a very complicated allegory, I'm told. I mean, I get that, I see where the comparisons lie, I just don't get as worked up about it as it seems I'm supposed to.

Winnie the Pooh - Wait, seriously? Winnie the Pooh? People who challenge this probably charge their grandma rent.

Song of Solomon - When I read an author's entire canon I need to remember to separate the books enough that I retain the differences. I know I've read this. I could not recite the plot because I also read Jazz in the same week.

Gone With the Wind - It's a classic for plot reasons, right? I hold that it's not a fantastically written book but it is a great portrait of a certain place and time. The Carol Burnett version is better, though.

Slaughterhouse Five - I read this recently, actually. Erm, think I missed the significance.

The World According to Garp - I know a lot of people who love John Irving. Mostly they are men. I know I'm supposed to love him too since I grew up in the town he writes about. Garp is fine. The time I spent reading Cider House Rules, though, I'm never going to get back. And hey, why isn't that one banned? It's all about abortion!

The Jungle - Counting this on the strength of having read the first third of it approximately 87423059729 times. The other two thirds still await my attention.

Mrs. Dalloway - This was so much more lovely than I anticipated. It made me even more appreciative of The Hours because Cunningham was utterly respectful of Woolf's tone and rhythm in his representation of the character.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - The movie is, of course, superb and classic. The books are different but in a way that is important to experience, I think.

A Clockwork Orange - Post apocalyptic Lord of the Flies post-rescue boat. What's not to love about that? It could be argued this is the inspiration for shows like Sons of Anarchy, too.

In Cold Blood - I read this because I was surprised to learn it wasn't fiction. Very sad. Not for the reasons one might expect.

Sophie's Choice - The use of narrator is so skillful in this book. It opened up new vistas for me.

Absalom, Absalom! - Faulkner, Faulkner! Got me an A in English my senior year of college. Thank you Judith Sutpen!

Orlando - I fell in love with the character in the movie and expected to have to slog through the book. It's more intricate but also more compelling. And the character is someone I'm inclined to follow to the ends of the earth.

Sons & Lovers - I can't even claim the first third of this book. This book taught me that I do not love the 19th century novel per se, I love certain authors. Even if they did write novels during the 19th century.

A Separate Peace - Required reading where I come from. Delicately tragic. Perfect high school reading list material.

A Light in August - Opening chapter drops me into a world I've only grazed in real life. I still see the opening image when I hear the title.

A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - People who ban this have a hate on for fun.

The Wide Sargasso Sea - I actually haven't read this but I recently picked up a copy on the street and plan to read it soon.

The Wind in the Willows - This is one of my dad's favorite books. I have never read it. Grave oversight is probably not an overstatement.

Midnight's Children - Chili was reading this in class when she went back to school for her M.Ed. I said I'd read along. I had uncharitable thoughts about the author. Many of them. 'Cause it took me a long ass time to wade through this. Don't put any weight to my opinion, though, I hated the protagonist in Kite Runner, too.

Have you read a banned book lately? Go on, it's fun!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tech Support Bad, iPad Pretty

You know that episode of Buffy where she says, "All I've got is 'Fire bad, tree pretty.'" (paraphrased)?

That's kind of where I am right now.

Go look at the pretty pictures or read the last coherent words I strung together before Apple tech support slew me. I'll be back soon. I'm down but I'm not out.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Departing now. Think the little dog will forgive me being away so long?
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Look! Folk Dancers!

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Grand Marshall

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Here we go!

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For Dad

That guy's going to march with his French Horn!
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Friday, September 24, 2010

All Hail!

Mrs. G and I were corresponding a week or so ago and she offered to post an update on my goings on here and at Kizz & Tell. That post went live today and members of the Derfwad/Colony crew are already checking in. I'm excited to hear some old/new voices.

If you haven't checked out what Mrs. G is doing at the new/old site I encourage you to do so.

Welcome one and all!

Thanks, Mrs. G.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I don't know how long it's going to take but I just know they're going to be best friends.
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Big, Huge, Cool

This summer my friend, Carolann, made a big life decision. She separated from her bandmates of six years to strike out on a solo career. The side benefit/impetus for this is more time with her family.

I'm excited to say that just yesterday she announced that tonight in Morristown, NJ she'll be opening in one big, huge, cool venue for acclaimed country singer, Phil Vassar. There's a lovely piece (and podcast!) by Kevin Coughlin on her move and this show that I'd love for you to read (and hear).

I won't be able to make it out there tonight and I'm consoling myself with the fact that she's sung in my living room before. It makes me feel fancy. If you can be there please clap and sing and shout out just a little bit louder on my behalf.

Have fun, my friend!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Don't Let Me Breathe On You

I had grand plans to come back here this afternoon and write something delightful. Hell, I had much less grand plans just to come back to the last post and write:

Edited to Add: Thank you to everyone who has stepped into the photo challenge now!

Didn't do that either.

Since just about this time yesterday I've been getting sick. Slightly painful swallowing has escalated and creeped upward into a headache and being very aware of my sinuses. Inside my brain some local news stories feed my greatest phobia and make it seem a little less ridiculous, which makes it more frightening, and there is a grinding noise that is the repetition of all the things I should be doing, should already have done, that I am not and have not.

When I first got this dog I think people worried I would send him back. I think they forgot that I'm the person who doesn't ever re-arrange her furniture. It's a big deal for me to put the furniture in place because, for me, it's going to stay there forever. And a day. So when I said I was taking this dog I was taking him unless there were something seriously wrong with him or his people definitively re-appeared. The moment I bought him anything more than a bag of kibble was the moment I agreed to keep him forever. And that day.

Perhaps we should take a moment to reflect on the absolutely horrific precedent this sets for me and dating.

Moving on!

Getting a new dog, any new dog, is an adjustment. I knew that. I anticipated it even and it's probably why it took me so long to say yes. Then one day I was on Petfinder looking at rottweilers and the next day someone delivered what I am now expertly advised is a min pin/chihuahua/terrier mix. So, there was that added surprise. And, don't get me wrong, I like him. I like him a lot. He's a good snuggler and he is just the right kind of goofy and it's simply nice to have a dog around, dammit. But I'm still adjusting at my tree-like pace.

Someone said back in those early days, "This time next month you'll feel better." I tried not to laugh because I had been telling myself for days, "It's OK, this time next year you'll feel better." She seemed horrified when I told her and I considered that maybe I was being too pessimistic. But here we are a month later and I'm getting sick. I'm getting sick because it's fall and kids are back in their petri dishes/schools then riding the subway next to me. I'm also getting sick because I'm getting a minimum of one less hour of sleep per night, not counting the ones lost to ridiculous fears or raucous neighbors. And every waking moment is highly charged. Right now, every interaction we have, me and this crazy pup, counts. Every time I fail to give him a time out for nipping or chasing cats, every day he's not off leash yet, every time he offers me eye contact and I fail to reward it* are steps back from our ultimate goal of living a normal life with a happy, well-trained dog. I'm out walking and training 2-3 hours a day and playing and training indoors another 2. (I'll post a picture of my walking/training attire. You'll get a kick out of it.) The world hasn't ceased to spin while I do those things, either, so I'm keeping up with commitments made before dog and going to work and trying to follow those pesky dreams and utterly letting down people who won a contest in July.

This adjustment is going to take more than a month.

I need a nap. And a day off. And a pet-friendly workplace. And a few thousand extra dollars in disposable income. And a full time pool boy/dog walker/sex therapist (pictured).

But you don't get that with a dog (or a kid, or a job in the CIA). You gut it out and put in the work (even when you're sick) and you get the full reward of a lifetime of enjoying your dog and, even better, having other people enjoy him. I'm tired. I'm really, really tired.

But I know it'll be better this time next year.

*Note to self: Must buy spray cheese.

(Don't) Save Me

That post I told you about yesterday is up at Kizz & Tell now. I'm still enraged.

May The Powers That Be save us from everyone who's trying to save us.

If you know what I mean.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Some Stuff You Maybe Should Check Out, You Know?

1. Have you seen the new OK GO video, White Knuckles? There's a little brown dog in it. He appears on the right of your screen near the beginning when the guys push two tables together and later he's the dog on the left when they're in the red chairs. He looks exactly like Eddie! I want to know who he is and what he is and where he is to see if he can shed any light on Mr. Ed's origins.

2. We've still got a photo challenge going on, folks. Misti Ridiculous is the only entrant so far. Please come keep her company.

3. There's a whole internet hoopla going on apparently about a law professor who doesn't feel rich. I think it's worth going to read Scalzi's post about it, though, and the comments on it (he runs a very clean ship, the comments do not devolve into name calling, it's all substantive discussion) as there are some important lessons for people who believe in the myth of the welfare queen or who worry that things like letting the $250K+ tax breaks die away as planned might some day cause them trouble. Truly, it's saying something when the comments with math in them are the ones that I find especially interesting. (If you haven't read it before be sure to click through to Scalzi's Being Poor piece from many years ago.)

4. Kizz & Tell is still out there. Yesterday's post about recording oneself for posterity is light on comments so if you've got an opinion please don't hesitate to share, we're waiting with bated breath. (Note: I really am.) Swing by there tomorrow, too, as I've got something important to recommend. My blinding rage prevents me from doing so today.

5. Please settle something for me, is chalkboard paint a ridiculous thing to have in my house? I really like it, especially the kind in fashion colors but I'm inexplicably shy about using it.

6. If you haven't seen this sort of silly home video of the weensy (by Tornado Alley standards) tornado revving up in Park Slope you should give it a chance. It's...odd.

7. I have complained about computerized voting machines and the people who run them before and it seems I will continue. I am incensed by the dumbfuckery that went on with these midterm elections and the new machines in New York City. When pressed the company spokesperson blamed the problems on the Jewish High Holy Days. Oh yes he did. So, if you're out to convince me that computerized voting is safer, better accountable and a good idea your job just got a whole fuck of a lot harder. Keep at it, though, everybody ought to have a dream.

8. The cardinal in this set of photos/jokes made me laugh.

9. I want someone I know to be The Next Big Small Brand. It can't be me because I have no great idea or product so please let it be you. Contest entries are accepted October 4 through November 11. Quick now, get hopping!

10. I'm going to admit something here. I made a joke of it on Twitter but it's absolutely true. When the first headlines came out about this Christine O'Donnell woman I was extremely confused not because she is vocally anti-masturbation (hey, I endorse not sleeping with someone who can't satisfy you so if that's the case for her...) but because I honestly couldn't understand why the actor Chris O'Donnell was against masturbation or how I'd failed to hear that he was running for office. Now I'm clear on who we're talking about but it's still baffling. I urge you to hear MAB's sorting out of this sexless tango.

I'm Packing

Eddie and I go to obedience class together for the first time today. I went last week but was by myself so this week we jump in with all six feet. Mostly I'm looking forward to having a professional evaluate my dog and tell me whether the things I feel I need are possible. (Please oh please oh please oh please!) Anyway, we have to bring a lot of stuff so here are 10 things I'm packing to bring to class tonight:

1. The dog

2. A bag to put the dog in since we have to take the subway to class (Fair trade, made and sold by women, gifted to me by Blogher)

3. Collar (or harness, right now we have a collar)

4. 4 or 6 foot leash (we have a 4, only slightly gnawed)

5. Dog's favorite toy (his stuffed platypus with the squeaky eggs inside that JRH sent)

6. Mat or towel for dog to lie on (I could bring a washcloth this dog is so small but I'll bring a towel, probably line his bag with it)

7. Stuffed kong or marrow bone (I'm going with a kong full of kibble and peanut butter)

8. 4 or 5 varieties of food treats broken into pea sized bits (turkey hot dogs, dried lamb lung, kibble pupperoni, Scooter Snacks)

9. Treat holder (generously handed down to me by Sara Gardens!)

10. Clicker (should bring the one that advertises the dog trainer running the class but the one that JRH sent has a convenient bracelet to keep it on my wrist)

Wish us luck, please. If it's possible to telepathically send patience to one of us I do not know which of us you should choose. Probably me, he didn't wake up half an hour early to worry about class.

Monday, September 20, 2010


I had a really lovely day yesterday. Music Boy's folks were headed to a grown up party in Manhattan so he came over to hang out with me. We chose my house because on Sundays in September they close off about 4 blocks of the Avenue outside my door and basically let us all just screw around out there for 5 hours. Some of the local merchants have events or serve food or sell things but mostly it's one block of music and 3 blocks of outdoor seating and places for kids to play. I figured I could bring the dog and the boy to that and we'd have a good time.

We did.

We would not have had as good a time if Teddy's Girl had not joined us for a goodly portion of our street closure goodness and done most of the Eddie-wrangling. After she had left I was able to keep the dog close and help the child navigate the social white waters* of the elementary school set but I had limitations. We would certainly not have been able to participate in the painting. Oy, the painting. It was fun and we all got paint on us, seriously, all of us, right down to the dog. I nearly fell on my ass before I realized how perilous a combination tempera paint and plastic tarps can be. But we did participate because Teddy's Girl held the dog and stood to the side and whispered, "There's cups over there, go! A kid has yellow right over there!" and the like.

You'll notice, though, that there are no pictures. I didn't even take a cell phone shot of the elaborate chalk drawing the Boy created. I'm told it was Clifford The Big Red Dog outside looking into the house where Emily Elizabeth was standing in the window. By now there's probably a beer truck parked on it to make a delivery and I can't show it to you.

A big part of taking photographs for me is recording things for posterity. I like being able to tell the tales of the day and illustrate them with some snaps. Sometimes there are moments or feelings better shown than told. Even when I can't take a lot of shots I tend to grab just a couple and I almost always bring the camera with me even if it's unlikely I'll be able to do much with it. I didn't even bring it with me yesterday. It was partly an exercise for myself to not feel so tied to recording every moment and partly an honest realization that I couldn't wrangle a young dog, a young boy, the social fabric of Myrtle Avenue and photograph it all at once...even with an extra set of adult hands. While we were hanging out I wasn't sorry at all. It was as tough and tougher than I anticipated to keep us all on the right path and happy. If I'd added one more element I wouldn't have been having fun. I had fun and that was the point.

Last night, though, when the Music Parents returned I keenly felt the absence of my pics. Maybe they've seen a hundred drawings of Clifford and Emily Elizabeth but they haven't seen this one. The one I let go without looking back. I know I did the right thing for me/us yesterday but, rather than teaching me the value of not trying to record every teensy milestone it's only renewed my desire to document life with my friends and family. We're all intensely busy and, despite an abundance of technology, it's hard to grab a shot of that fleeting special moment when we're slogging through the intricacies of every day. Most of the time I've got a free hand to click the shutter, though, and I'm going to keep on doing it.

*Wow, I know the kids that I'm close to are an especially well-behaved bunch but it's never more apparent than when we interact with other children in the world. I could fill the internet with just the stories from yesterday but I'll stick to one. We're playing ring toss and have secured 2 of the 20 rings and are sticking to those. We're readjusting which post we toss to about every 5 seconds because other kids are walking in and just pulling them apart or taking them away but we're still having fun. A little girl has all 18 of the other rings strung up her arm. When Music Boy tosses one of his rings to a post she pounces (literally!) and grabs it. So I, feeling just hideous about having to do this as there are no actual parents in sight and I somehow believe that I have a stamp on me branding me as a non-parent, step over and explain that someone else was using that. She replies, "I'm using them." So I have to go with, "Well, we're all sharing so please give that back." And, miraculously she does while I contemplate how long ago I taught classes full of be-tutu'd little girls of her ilk. Moments later she tosses all her rings in the air and walks away from them. But that's not the best part! The best part is that 2 minutes after that when another, slightly younger, boy is hoarding the rings and snakes one of Music Boy's out from under him that same tiny Princess stalks over and lectures him on the importance of sharing until he walks away with no rings at all and decides to play something else. It's like Lord of the Flies out there, folks, and I was almost Piggy.

** While we were tossing rings an Oscar winner was street bowling right next to us. Anyone what to guess who?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

There's A Platypus In My Kitchen

This photo pretty much sums up my life these days.
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Use The Good Rum

On of two awnings at a local storefront church says, in big letters, "Touch Not My Anointed."

I'm a little busy today so I'm going to leave you to make your own jokes. Bonus points if you phrase it like a pirate.



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Saturday, September 18, 2010

These Boots Were Made For Walkin'

It's pretty easy to knock me off my feet confidence-wise. I know I'm supposed to roll with the punches of life so I try but that means I'm also a little easier to convince of things. Especially when I'm in a situation where I already feel unsteady I'm ready to believe the next person who says, "This is what you should do."

At Blogher I apparently came across to a few people as weird to the point of being scary, nearly stalker-like. It's because I introduced myself in person as Kizz. Kizz isn't my given name. It is, though, a nickname I was given in college, 23 years ago, that has seeped into everyday life. I chose it as my handle when I started writing online because it was sufficiently removed from my legal name to give me some measure of safety. I actually felt as though I were blogging anonymously for a while until I realized that fully half the people I know in real life call me Kizz or Kizzy. I'm not anonymous here at all.

Some people at Blogher, though, expected that I would introduce myself in person with my given name. But to me Kizz is my name so I used that. They took it to be like Maggie Mason introducing herself as Mighty Girl instead of Maggie and it creeped them out. Doug/Laid Off Dad is the one who finally pointed that out to me. I'd corresponded with him briefly before the conference hoping to meet other NYC bloggers in person before 2400 bloggers descended on the city, a sort of toe-dipping preparation, if you will. Our schedules didn't work out to meet but, apparently, he was also highly creeped by my continuing to sign my correspondence as Kizz. I'm not sure how we got on the topic, probably my business card with my given name and nickname on it led him to ask why I was such a shady lady. Standing there in a loud party trying to explain myself I felt like the lamest loser ever. After a weekend of introducing myself to new people and being "on" every minute it was inevitable that one small misunderstanding would push my fragile introvert heart over the edge. I was glad we were ready to leave the party after that. Couldn't get away fast enough.

This morning I did not want to go to the park. A girl who does not thrive on being socially interactive now has to go an interact with people every morning before breakfast. It doesn't help that we're also negotiating the delicate interactions of our dogs as well. I went anyway, armed with training devices and luring myself with two things; the promise of a dog who can be off leash in the near future and the final episode of Season 1 of Lost when I returned home.

Halfway around the perimeter of the park, not 15 minutes after leaving the house, an off leash dog with a shock collar engages Eddie. I'm keeping hold of the leash because I don't know this dog and if he'll stay close or lure Eddie farther away and toward other distractions that would ultimately lead to squashed dog on a busy road. The dogs seem to be having great fun. From behind me I hear something that sounds like, "Are you training your dog?" repeated a couple of times. I have a training lead, I'm wearing one of those special treat bags as a fanny pack, I have a clicker hanging from my wrist. I don't turn around right away because I'm sure she'll realize how silly the question is and I want to keep my eye on the dogs. Finally, as this woman comes striding abreast of me I'm able to distinguish that she's actually commanding, "Will you rein in your dog?" over and over in exactly the same tone of middling urgency. I immediately think that she thinks her dog is taunting mine and is removing it so I won't be angry. I'm actually glad because I want him to get all the running he can. So, trying to keep the interaction going I say, "I'm sorry. It's fine for my dog, I didn't realize it was a problem for you." as I reel Eddie in. She raises her chin high over her shoulder as she passes and says imperiously, "I just don't like those long leashes."

And I nearly burst into tears.

Newsflash Smarty Knowsitall, I don't like these long leashes either but it's a step toward having a properly trained dog so I'm using it. I'm also generally keeping my dog out of the most crowded areas and trying really hard to let him meet other dogs on his own terms and play with the ones he likes. Am I doing it well? I do not know. I suspect the answer is no and I hate that with all my being because, in the immortal words of Ed Harris, failure is not an option.

Rather than saying anything intelligent back I stood there as she breezed on with all her friends and their blissfully off leash dogs. I stood there waiting because they'd now overtaken me on the path we'd been taking so if I continued I'd have been chasing along after them stuck in a terrible loop. Eddie stood at my heel without prompting for the 3 or 4 minutes until I thought they must be far enough ahead that we wouldn't catch up. Finally I collected my shit and moved off. Not 200 yards ahead, just around a corner this woman had stopped to have a chat with her friends and their dogs. Now I have to decide do I keep walking on through and by her or do I change my route so we don't have the same issue?

You know I changed my route as sure as I fled that party because I'm just not strong enough on the subject right now to fight that battle. But I hated that I did that, just as much as I hate that my dog can't be off leash yet. As I walked up over a ridge above the path and looked down on her and her expensive rain boots I wanted so much to just shoot her the double birds. Didn't like that about myself either.

Later on I was with friends, which helped, and Boots and her dog came by. There were many other dog distractions between us so we didn't engage. In fact her dog was headed right for the dog water fountain. There was a small child already at the fountain. She'd been playing with other dogs and was, I think, playing with the dog water which was at her level. Her dad was right there with her making sure she had good dog manners. From many yards away Boots began to call with her same middling urgency, "He's not great with kids." over and over. The child continued doing what she was doing and the dog began to drink and Boots broke into a run and changed her tune to, "Please take your child away, please take your child away!" And the guy did.

Now I'm even sorrier about that because, dude, the rule about off leash is that your dog has to be under your control and hers clearly is not. He was certainly not to be blamed for his interaction with Eddie but if he's a kid-biter then it's all on Boots to make sure he stays away from kids not, for damn sure, the other way around.

It's true I don't know her shit any more than she knows mine so perhaps she's just having a bad day. An expensively-shod, entitled, lazy, bad day. I hope she's an occasional visitor to the park.

I also hope that next time we meet, because surely there will be a next time, I'm just not that lucky, I'm able to construct a logical, intelligent, direct response that defends my dog, me and the rest of the park. I know that I don't handle this kind of socialization well at any time, much less when I'm unsure of my actions, but I also know that, if I'm going to reach these fucking goals with this dog I'm just going to have to get better. There may be compromise at some juncture but I can't give up.

I so very much want to give up.

In the mean time, if there's anything you'd like to question me about, can we just put a pin in it until tomorrow, please?

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Between Willoughby and DeKalb
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Little Shower

It's a little shower now but apparently just before I exited the subway my neighborhood got slammed by a storm. This is the first big tree down I passed but I'm hearing stories of many more.
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Man Down! Man Down!

Neither my dog nor I is good at breaking down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. We like instant gratification, even if it's messy.

For instance, I know how to spell. I've always known how to spell, though. Words either look right to me or they don't and that's been the case for as long as I can remember. I don't remember studying for spelling tests but I don't think I failed even a one. There are a few exceptions (very few) like commitment and gauge but I've gritted out the learning of them and am forever grateful to computer programs that redline my first instinct so I know to go back and think for a second. Yes, a little piece of my soul dies when people talk about "loosing" "they're" sunglasses or wonder what people in the "dessert" have for "desert" but I don't blame the person in question because I know I didn't work for this. I just know what loose and lose sound like in my head and I spell them accordingly. I love my dessert enough to sprinkle it with that extra s. It's just something in my brain, the same way other people just feel what 10% of a check is or whether that 8th suitcase will fit in the trunk if they just change the orientation of cases 4 and 7.

In the orientation session for obedience class we learned to teach the dog "touch" as a precursor to many things like come, heel and pay attention. We're working with clickers (just like the nuns!) which I've seen done but never done myself. The first step is to take 5-10 tiny treats in your hand, put the clicker in that hand, too, with your thumb at the ready and hide the hand behind your back. Present the other, empty, hand flat and palm forward about 2 inches from your dog's nose. Wait until the dog touches your hand with his nose. Immediately click, take away your empty hand then give your dog a treat with your clicking and treating hand. (Oh yeah, it takes a certain amount of coordination. Oh hell yeah, I'm lucky I haven't smashed myself in the nose with a milk bone yet.)

First off my dog knows where the fucking treats are. So I've got to present my touch hand to him somehow while he's trying to wander off behind my back because he's not an idiot. After a couple of tries, though, he sees that I'm not opening the clicking hand so he'll let it go. The result is that he also doesn't have the noise of the clicker and the placement of the clicker matched in his mind. So I present my empty hand, he touches it, I click and he goes looking for whatever made that funky noise. Hand, touch, click and he looks away. Hand, touch, click, look away. Hand, touch, click, wanders around the living room looking for whatever is making that intriguing commotion! Which, by the way, makes it hard to give a food-neutral dog a treat. He's basically saying, "No thanks, can't stop, I'm looking for something. Looks delicious, though, I'll come back when I'm done!"

He's smart. I'm not knocking that. I'm petrified of it but I'm not knocking it. However, it made our first day of training pretty draining on both of us. I couldn't see the improvements he's made overall because I couldn't manage to get these new activities right. It's not all on him, either, I'm not terribly good at this training thing and I'm petrified that I'm rewarding the wrong behavior, treating too much or too little, giving in when I shouldn't and ignoring where I should be praising. Honestly, Wednesday morning was as discouraging as Tuesday night was inspiring (and overwhelming and comforting and terrifying and...).

So I worked hard to remember all the people in class who have dogs with housetraining issues and unrelenting separation anxiety. I'm lucky. He's so smart he found an unused cat bed and annexed it for himself. He knows that "inside" means get in your crate and he does it. He knows "wait." He has, up to now, been vaguely interested in birds and squirrels but mostly in passing. Today he noticed one a couple of yards ahead near a tree and he moved forward but without intent. The squirrel went scurrying up the tree and, just as we approached the tree (one assumes the better to pee on it), WHUMP! that fat fuck fell from a branch right to the ground not 5 feet from Eddie. We all stood stunned a moment, the squirrel bolted for the tree and made it up again without incident and Ed spent the next 5 minutes circling, circling, circling trying to work out how to make that squirrel fall down in front of him again. With gleeful determination he chased every single solitary squirrel we saw for the rest of the walk. So it only took one squirrel falling down in front of him to teach him to chase squirrels.

He's a genius!

I am still nursing the abrasions on my own sense of adequacy, though, so I'm trying to draw a highlighter across the things I can do. I can spell! I can sing. I've been known to take a nice photo.

What are you good at?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Photo Challenge: Free Skate!

I loved doing the free skate photo challenge. Not too many entries but some quality, to be sure. Please click through on the photographers' names to see their photo streams.

Sooooooo, let's seeeeee, what shall the next challenge be? I solicited suggestions via Twitter and Facebook and finally decided on Ahhhh (thanks Grammar Snob!). Now that could be Ahhhh, or Ahhhh? or Ahhhh! or even AHHHH, it's up to you. Please submit photos to our Flickr Pool by 9am Tuesday September 28 for posting on Wednesday September 29th.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Give Me 10 More

Just because today has been interesting I have to do 10 more things.

1. I seem to have received a free vacuum! Thank you LG and Mouthy Housewives!

2. I am eating chocolate chips straight out of the bag.

3. I am panicking, perhaps disproportionately, about the fact that the place where I'm going for the dog orientation class has no bathroom and is near nothing with a public bathroom.

4. Serendipity gave my dog an extra long walk today.

5. The more reluctant cat sat next to me while the dog wiggled around in my lap with his toy. No blood was shed.

6.  Little dogs really do love those tiny rawhide bones wrapped in nasty dried chicken strips. Thanks Kath!

7. My little dog has a place to hang with people and dogs and cats tonight while I'm away. Thank you Sara!

8. It's really hard to write about someone you admire. As a result tomorrow's Resource Room may be delayed.

9. The less reluctant cat is conquering his fears and managed to get up on the bed with me last night.

10. My living room still smells like piss. Want to come over?

Take Your Midterms!

It's midterm election day here in New Yawk City so my 10 things are about voting.

1. You should do it.

2. People who say they only vote in national elections because those are the only ones that matter usually really mean, "I don't feel like reading up on all those other people."

3. I don't feel like reading up on all those other people either but they are important.

4. I have met exactly one candidate on my ballot this morning in person. He's running for state committee and he's so young I could practically be his mother. In point of fact I've met his mother, too.

5. Without this local politician my life would be a lot messier, more dangerous and unfair.

6. Re: #2 sometimes I suck at reading up on all those people and therefore go into the booth a little behind the 8 ball. That happened today and I did not like it. But I still voted to the best of my ability.

7. We have a new voting system. Instead of the sturdy, reassuring big metal booths with levers that you pulled we were handing a long sheet of paper and sent to a "private cubicle" to fill it in with a standard issue black pen then we had to go to a computer reader and feed it into that and wait until the computer screen claimed our vote had been counted.

8. I suspect the cubicles are a lot more private if they're not lining a wall with the open part facing toward the middle of the room. This process took a lot longer than the lever pulling process and was way more difficult to understand. The ballot was "organized" in a much different way than the board for the metal box was and it didn't feel logical to me. I don't trust that fucking computer.

9. I also get a receipt for every deposit I put in an ATM, dislike using self-checkout lines at the supermarket and always look in the mailbox a second time to be sure my mail has dropped all the way into the box. Dear Board of Elections, I would really really really like a receipt for my vote next time. If you don't want to give me one that seems like a ginormous red flag to me.

10. No, seriously, you should vote every chance you get.

Photos: Letitia James, New York City Council Member and Kirsten Gillibrand, United States Senator for New York.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Down Doobie Doo Down Down

As of 7:30 this morning I wasn't having a good day.

The dog had barked too much and the walk was damp and post-rainy and he was inexplicably snarling at a delightful golden retriever and when I got angry with him he got snippy with me proving that angry training is training you do not want but I wanted to be angry and...ROAR.

Let's go back. Eddie was wonderful all weekend. He played well with others, he didn't make nice with the cats but nice things happened. He got new toys. He rode happily in a bag on the city bus and while I walked around the Brooklyn Book Fair. He perfected the ability to sit when asked and improved in the area of coming when called. He slept on my lap and and even, very occasionally, walked on a slack leash. I'll tell you why he did, too. Because I never left him. I had one thing to do in Manhattan on Friday and it got canceled when I was about two blocks away. During the time I was traveling there and back the dog walker came. On Saturday the one thing I had scheduled to do was meet a friend and she chose to meet me at the park during off leash time because she is apparently half angel. As a result Mr. Ed was out and about in the 'hood for 3 hours before he even had breakfast. He got a longish walk in the evening and plenty of play inside and company came over and scritched him to his heart's content. On Sunday, just because we met a lot of people and stopped to talk to them, we were out for 2 hours before breakfast. Then I tried to take him to brunch but it was threatening to rain so they didn't have outside tables. He went home for a short bit while I ate then I picked him up. I took him on the bus, I kept him in his traveling bag while I checked out the fair, I let him walk back to the bus stop, he began to shiver violently with cold thus turning me into someone who is actually going to put a rain coat on her dog, we stopped by Kath & Alex's where much playing was done with the cats and with Bobby then we walked home where he basically slept until it was time to go out for a quick pee and bed. He was so tired he didn't even blow me shit when I made him wait until I was dressed to get out of the crate this morning.

He was good because he got a lot of exercise but also because he had a lot of company. He really doesn't like to be alone. But in order to pay for his bed and board ($9 per day, 5 days a week for a 15 minute walk, you do the math [and I'm not complaining, it's the best deal in the neighborhood and they're great to my dog as they were to his predecessor]) someone has to go to work and until his film career takes off it looks like I'm on tap for that. So he's going to be alone. And I'm going to be getting up early, staying up late and walking a lot in between. I don't function well on medium to small amounts of sleep. I can't see the big picture. Mostly because my eyes swell shut with fatigue.

I'm beginning to think it's like being a grandmother and suddenly finding yourself raising your toddler grandchild. I was used to an old, staid dog. She, too, enjoyed a solid 12 hours of sleep per night and had developed the constitution to manage it. She didn't feel the need to talk to every stranger on the street because she had plenty of friends and she knew how to sit at every corner and liked it when that was all it took to make me happy. Also, I didn't have to bend over to scratch her ears.

I haven't forgotten what it was like when she was younger. I know that she was stupid and so was I and I vividly remember days when I screamed and yelled at her in regrettable ways because neither of us knew what in holy hell we were doing. So I'm not surprised that I'm tired and cranky and not at my best. I'm not surprised that this little, energetic ball of terrier brain goo is...challenging on some days and demanding on others. I'm just not very happy that today is one of those days.

And tomorrow is the first session of our dog training course. The first session is humans only. Which means that the dog will be alone all day while I'm at work, save his short dog walk, then I'll walk him briefly because I have to commute to the class and then he'll be alone until I get home just before bed time. He's going to be so delighted by that kind of day. I wonder if he'll give me a pass on it when I explain that it's so he can go to dog school and learn to be allowed off leash and eventually how to run to the deli for milk without me. Probably not.

In case you think I'm a great green meanie for not mentioning the cats lately and how their weekend went I'll share that I can't sit in my living room because I'm fumigating the couch and I hope my new health insurance kicks in because I'm not sure I cleaned the deep, bloody furrows running from my belly button to my neck thoroughly enough. So, perhaps the less said about those cats today the better.

How are your pets?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Just Two Things, You Know

They're both about photography, though.

1. I uploaded a bunch of pictures today. Some of them are from the post-Blogher shenanigans perpetrated my Cindy, Chrome and me.

2. There's still time to enter the open-ended photo challenge. Any time between now and Tuesday at 9am. Will you contribute something?

My Lens On: September 11, 2010

See the full set here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

It Follows

Today's been weird, off, a little crazy but not in any way that's interesting enough to relate. If you need a for instance, though, how about the fact that September 10th is National Suicide Prevention Day. Tomorrow is the 9th anniversary of a group of suicide bombers hijacking and destroying 4 planes (and a couple of minor landmarks) and today is National Suicide Prevention Day. They don't officially have anything to do with each other but my Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of people giving support to a very worthy cause, keeping people from killing themselves. I just can't help's weird.

The other day Jen Lemen (you really should be following her) put out a call that if anyone had a fear they were struggling with we should email her and she'd do a card reading of sorts for it. I emailed her and this is (in part) what she sent back:

"Your angel is...

SURRENDER (can you believe it??)

Here's how I did it.  I placed the deck of angels face down on the table and then randomly selected a card for each person.  My intention was to pick the word/angel that would give you   the insight, comfort or guidance you need as you walk through whatever fear you're facing.  I hope that's the case."

So I'm trying to surrender into a lot of things, this fear topmost among them. Today was a good day for it, just surrendering to the direction of the prevailing wind.

Here's wishing you warm and favorable winds. Who knows where you'll be swept next but I hope it's beautiful.