Monday, February 27, 2006

Here she is!

We have known she was on her way. We have even known her name. When her due date arrived last Wednesday we (and by "we" I mean "me") thought, First baby, due date calculated by a doctor, mom who loves a schedule there is no way in Tartarus that this kid is coming today.

Well she wasn't born on Wednesday but she did start ringing the doorbell pretty hard.

Actual arrival was clocked at 5:00pm on Thursday February 23rd. She weighed 7 lbs. 14 oz and was 21" long.

I cannot wait to meet her. Look at those cute little pouty baby lips, don't you just want to press your finger into them over and over just to watch them spring back where they came from? So fun-n-cute.

Papermoon, her mom, is also well and could not be prouder. Everything is as it should be.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Old Man slides off the Mountain

Vanx very politely asked if that other dog in the couch photo below was mine. I say politely because I know Vanx has been reading long enough to know that I'm a single girl living alone in the big city and working with a limited budget and that I've definitely got one dog and two cats. Though I do occasionally see a dog that catches my fancy and there's at least one stray that was adopted out of our 'hood that I still regret letting go, I am not quite as dumb as I look. Thank heavens.

My beloved canine, Emily, you have heard a lot about. Her couch partner is Brownie. Brownie lives with PapaKizz and P.

P has a number of allergies but she and dad really wanted a dog so they did a lot of research and they adopted a retired greyhound, Jenny. P also works for a couple who run their own business and spend some of their spare time fostering dogs. Dogs are welcome in the office and the fosters are often paraded around. A dog named Brandy visited a lot. One day he visited and was toured around the office with this announcement, "Brandy's here today, you should say goodbye to him because tomorrow we're going to have to put him down, we just can't find him a home." That night Brandy went home to live with PapaKizz, P and Jenny the Perfect Greyhound.

He was also re-christened Brownie. It was the first of a number of indignities he was forced to endure. Emily had spent a significant amount of time living with my dad while I was on tour. Even though Brownie lives there permanently whenever Emily visits his spot in the heirerarchy is below hers. It used to be very clearly Jenny, then Emily, then Brownie (humans = servants). Now that Jenny is gone Emily gets to be first. Mostly that means she leads the way on walks and she gets to bump him off the couch.

Lest you think Brownie is in an Oliver-Twist-like position I will remind you that he lives with PapaKizz and P. You get people food, you get walked a minimum of 4 times a day, you are constantly pet when you ask, you have toys, your beds (yes, plural) are carted from room to room should you so desire. It's really not a bad life at all.

However, for the aforementioned slight indignities the B-man is getting his revenge. Though of relatively sound body he has completely lost his mind. In the middle of the night he will wake up and bark in an angry panic, unable to fathom where he is. Sometimes he'll be able to figure out where he is and that he is thirsty and he'll be able to make it one room over to drink from the toilet but then he'll forget the way back to the bedroom and will cry and bark until rescued. In the evening he whines and panics and cries almost constantly until his people are sitting in their designated spots in the living room and at least one of them is petting him at all times.

OK, I was going to try and construct a Brownie post without this story but I can't. I am 12, the potty story wins. Brownie's favorite spot used to be standing on the couch looking out the front window at the busy main road barking at the many passersby. At some point last year furniture was rearranged and 2 straight backed padded chairs replaced the couch in the main window. PapaKizz came home one day and the dog did not come to greet him. At some indeterminate time previous Brownie had apparently climbed on a chair, barked in a frenzy, slipped and hung himself over the arm of the chair but his back legs had slid entirely off the seat and under the arm. He was trapped. It must have been hours. He had soiled himself. He was pitiful and beyond even barking about it. Dad stood him up and he couldn't even move. It was worrisome, we were afraid he might be on his way out but a quick trip to the vet determined that there was no damage, just that everything below the midline had fallen asleep. He was sore but back on his feet in a couple of hours.

I feel I've painted the boy in a bad light. He's actually a very sweet pooch. I think he's about 13 now, maybe even a little more. He loves people and I'm afraid his early life was not as cushy as recent years, he had to become a little surly to protect himself. He's a beautiful dog, and tough as fucking nails. He once ran head to head into a pit bull. The pit bull retreated post haste on wobbly legs but Brownie walked away unphased, maybe even a little cocky. Despite the fact he's kept dad and P from having an uninterrupted night's sleep for about 6 months I think he's a pretty cool old man.

Please, for the children!

According to my boss, Bode Miller was quoted as saying, "I think if I could have skiied faster I might have won a medal."

Bode, as you know, we'd rather you don't drink and ski but please, god, for the love of all that is snow covered and Olympic I beg of you, don't drink and interview.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Picture Pages

I've had a bunch of pictures piling up that I meant to post and write witty things about. Today I decided that you don't need witty things, you'll enjoy the pictures nude.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Living Will - Doggy Style

I do not think this will ever happen. It's highly unlikely. But, if for any reason I am out of the state or the country or the universe and anything were to happen to my dog, know that it is my express wish that you do not wait TWO DAYS to contact me about it. I'd really rather know right away.

Are we clear?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Miracle #9

So, as of this morning I've got one more.

9. A foot of snow + foggy eyeglasses + granite steps + klunky boots + strong dog = Bob Saget-worthy skid down a set of steps out of the park. Fortunately a somewhat, er, cushiony behind + a certain amount of "practice" falling = not so big a deal.

Well, my camera did fall out of my pocket and sink into 6 inches of snow. I was really worried about it. I kept turning it on but just getting a blotchy white screen. At some point it occured to me to clear the snow off of the lens and it seems to be none the worse for wear. Thus I give you a photographic tour through the neighborhood today.

I know she's got some sled dog in her. She could not be happier as we start out into the snow. She's trotting along at Olympic pace, smiling for all she's worth.

My neighbor was heard to say, "They're playing football?!" I'm thinking it's a smart move, the snow cushions your fall. Sadly I missed getting a shot of the diving catch into a snowbank that happened right before this.

Portia is the big dog. She is totally blind. And yet, her girl helpfully dragged her into the snow so I could show you how much snow had fallen. These are not drifts, people have not added to them by shoveling. What Portia is standing in is just what fell from the sky.

Random neighborhood shot on my way to the park this morning.

Car shot, so you can see car accumulation, even with some serious wind.

Apparently God doesn't care if there's a foot of snow, s/he still thinks you need to go to church today. That's why s/he invented that snowblower the poor man on the right is using. I did not manage a picture of the giggly little old ladies who came out of the other side of the church, clutching each other while they broke a path through the snow.

After I fell I decided it was time to go home. The dog was loving the snow so much that I felt a little guilty cutting her time short. This picture (and her snail's pace on the walk home) prove that I did the right thing.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Miracle Files

From the It's a Miracle I've Lived This Long Files.

1. I do stuff like try to test the warning labels on household cleaning products. The bathroom sink has been draining slowly for a couple of months. Of a sudden last week it became unbearable. It was a race to see if I could brush my teeth before the water reached the emergency drain. So I bought some of that stuff that comes in a double bottle and when you pour it everything goes all foamy. I did, actually, read the instructions before I used it. Apparently it doesn't work in standing water. But you are supposed to use the whole bottle. I tried to use the whole bottle but it was foaming so much that it was making standing chemicals so I stopped and came back later to try to put some more in but it was still foamy. You're supposed to leave it for an hour so I just walked away. Now, I know you're only supposed to use such things in a well ventilated area but I have cats so I closed the door to the bathroom. I felt like it was a lesser evil than not noticing a cat going into the bathroom, jumping up, getting deadly chemicals on his/her paws, licking it off and keeling over in the middle of the living room. Later I went back. Two and a half hours later. I got up to pee before I walked the dog, wondered for a moment why the bathroom door was closed and realized what I'd done. My bathroom is about 5.5 feet square. You know on CSI when they put something in a box and blow smoke at it to see fingerprints? This is what my bathroom was like. But my drain runs perfectly now.

2. I live in New York City. Frankly I don't find it quite as dangerous as most people I know. Personally I think I'd be in much more danger in the 'burbs given my anti-social nature but according to a bunch of people that know me its a miracle I've survived almost 20 years here. For the record I love it here.

3. Speaking of social anxiety, there's that. It's sort of amazing that I haven't actually been swallowed by a hole in the earth's crust during some sort of social interaction. Did you know that before I go to meet someone I write an opening line in my head? I'll be headed to lunch and I'll see, say, a couple of 3 legged dogs. I will spend the remainder of my approach to the lunch venue crafting the perfect opening line. Something that sounds spontaneous and cheery and preferably comical so that I don't have to live through awkward opening moments. You know, like "Hi." "Hi." "How are ya?" "Great, how are you?" "Great, thanks, how...uh..." Instead I'll be prepared with something like, "It's like the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm out there! I met two rescued injured dogs on my way here." Some of you are probably thinking, She doesn't mean with me. I'm one of her best friends/see her everyday/her parent. You're wrong. I do it with all of you. I am actually painfully shy. But I feel like it's a failing, something I ought to be able to control and that if I were to let it keep me from doing things I'd be stupid(er) so over time I've developed some tools and I use them almost without thinking about them now.

4. One day I put some mulled cider on the stove to simmer and I forgot to turn it off for 3 days. Fortunately it was plenty of cider so the pot didn't burn to a crisp. Note to KingBee: See? if you leave a ham in the oven while you go out for an hour it's just not as scary as you think.

5. Had an affair with a married man. His wife is strong. I'm very lucky not to have been caught and killed.

6. My mother is an undiagnosed but clinical hoarder. In terms of killing me this could go 2 ways. There are very real physical dangers to this, getting pinned under something, tripping and hitting your head, allergies to little known types of mold and whatnot. And there's the embarrassment factor. Though I know it's not my fault that my mother has this issue and while I have, fairly recently, come to terms with the fact that there's nothing I can do to change her I'm still wildly embarrased by it. You can't walk into her house. You can't use the shower. There is no place to sit in the house or in the yard. She will tell you differently, she bought a table and chair set of garden furniture...which she sets up in the driveway. I always feel as though people are looking to me for 2 things, a. to reform my mother and b. to see when I'll get the disease. It makes me pretty defensive. I'm working on it. Really, that's the best I can do.

7. Four to six nights a week for the entirety of my college career I had a coke and a snickers for dinner. That coke was one serving of about a 2 litre a day habit that I had from the age of 15 to about 24. I probably ate my lifetime allottment of sugar in the first year of that habit alone. And yet, up until very recently I was as likely as not to eat ice cream out of the carton, with chocolate sauce, for dinner on a weeknight. I do not, as yet, have Type II Diabetes. I'm thinking of starting an online pool for the onset date. Hopefully whoever wins will donate the pot for a top of the line glucose meter and some test strips.

8. The last 4 years are the first four years since high school that I've had proper medical coverage. I lived most of my reproductive years, most of the years where I was working manual labor jobs, most of the years where I was traveling without any backup if I were to be injured or come down with something.

That's enough isn't it? I'm still here despite all this so I must be doing something right.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Why I Hate Money

There's never enough of it.

Short post.

To be accurate I should probably have titled it, "Why I Hate Life."

Nothing is ever cut and dried. There are no sure things, no slam dunks, no absolutes. I'm a Capricorn (perhaps you've heard), I like absolutes.

ProfDoc made me this great Excel spreadsheet so I can calculate how long it'll take me to pay off my student loans. I mean, damn, if I do something that's borderline easily manageable I can pay it off in a year. A YEAR! How cool is that? (The flip side is she told me how to fix it so I could put in some other numbers and did you know that if I pay just $50 less per month it extends the payment period three whole months? Interest is mean when other people are charging it.) So, I'm feeling pretty good about myself. I mean, I'm a year away from being halfway out of (non-mortgage) debt. Yes, that sounds lame when I put it that way but it's a big deal for me. It's been a long time since I could see the end of debt and wasn't poised to add more before I got to that destination.

And yes, I understand that there's still the mortgage and I'll be firmly into Geritol territory before I have that paid off. I'm OK with that. Sort of.

So, I am filled with glee. Excel spreadsheets and views of the end of a tunnel do this to me. I am clapping and jumping (at least in my head). I am also thinking, "I could get TiVO. I could go to Club Med. I could buy that camera. I could buy the speakers and the iHome thing." My brain went on like this for a couple of days.

Then I tried to clean my glasses.

I kept cleaning and cleaning and still there was this one spot with a persistent halo. I squinted. Now, there has been a small crack in my right lens for over a year. I've had it looked at. Qualified professionals have promised that it wouldn't all of a sudden explode and turn me into Sammy Davis, Jr. (Why yes, I do know I'm going to hell.) So I haven't worried about it. However, it's totally spreading. It needs taking care of because that is what's making it hard to see.

No problem, I have an Excel spreadsheet that says I'm almost in the money!

I priced getting the lens replaced. OK, I priced getting both lenses replaced because they have anti reflective coating and if you just upgraded one it wouldn't match and you would go all insane like Sybil. (1 please, express. Hell, yes, that's my final destination.) I was thinking between $60 and $100.

Store 1: That'll be $189 if you don't want an eye exam. The ladies were also very nice and helped me figure out what questions I needed to ask at other places and were helpful, attentive and low pressure.

Store 2 (rhymes with Crenslafters): That'll be $240, but you should really have this extra thing which will make it $280, no mention of eye exam.

Store 3: What? You want me to figure out what the prescription is and match it? (heavy sigh) That'll be $315.

This is not a good trend. This means no speakers for me. No iHome. That last quote costs more than THREE iHomes, including tax! Fuckers. Back when I thought it'd be under $100 I was thinking about how much I'd like to have some contact lenses, too. I mean, it'd be so nice to be able to see when I perform, you know?

So then I felt crappy and like I couldn't be excited about having enough money because who knows, at any moment what seems like enough might turn out to be not even close to enough. This, people, is why I have rescue fantasies.

Then PapaKizz totally booked me 2 performances of my Shakespeare at his college, at the asking price and he's organizing a photographer to do stills of me and audience stills so I can prove that people have actually seen my show. But, while I'm super psyched about the fact that I'm doing the shows and can't wait to meet the students and have the experience, I don't have that elated Free Money, Wheee! feeling. Since I know that a chunk will go to transportation costs and a chunk is already being spent on the DVD shoot and there won't really be a lot left to speak of. Enough to pay the taxes and to get my lenses replaced probably.

Well, and maybe enough for the iHome.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Great Idea Receptacle Part 3

1. To get together a joint cabaret evening with Julie. Get me back on stage and get her out there doing more of her solo stuff.

2. Ages ago Julie and I talked about doing presentation workshops with corporate clients. That's still a good idea. I'm not entirely sure why we never did it.

3. There was one here that didn't have to do with Julie but I can't think what it was. Oh! Yes! A teen magazine that's somewhere between Cricket and Harper's. Fiction and non-fiction for, by, about, with teens. Something without the strength of focus on appearance and purchasing.

4. And I'm pretty sure there's another one, too, but I'm damned if I can think of it. Three is enough. Hell one is enough, I just happened to have 3.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Ang Lee Broke My Heart

On my way home from seeing Brokeback Mountain I walked through the park and passed a young hipster couple in pseudo workout clothes. She, clutching her coffee and he swinging his water bottle as she trailed ineffectually after him. I heard her say, "Say something. Just say something. Man, you gotta say something." If you've seen the movie that will crack you up.

Before I talk about the movie I have to talk about the experience. Friday afternoon, Brooklyn art house cinema, lunch time, gay cowboy love story. I'm not expecting it to be a sold out crowd. And I'm right. I am the very first person in a 300 seat theatre. So I, of course, pick the very perfect seat. Center, center. It's my right, I was first, I did not ask 70 gajillion questions at the candy counter and then go to the ladies room for a gab even though the movie started in 5 the women in front of me at the concession stand. So I sit, I take off my jacket, I arrange my candy and water and turn off my cell phone before the aforementioned ladies come in. They sit, I kid you not, in the row directly in front of me and 1 seat to my right. One of them even makes a point of saying, "Don't worry we aren't going to sit in front of you." Whatthemotherfuckingfuckbitch? A whole god damned movie theatre and you have to sit close enough to me to directly influence my experience of the film? Do you actually want me to listen to your yeast infection story? Do I look like someone who might have just the special insight you're looking for on the subject? So I moved back 2 rows, sacrificing the perfect seat for the superior viewing experience. There were 5 people who ended up seeing the movie. Those women stayed where they were, I was 2 rows behind and 1 seat to their left, a lovely Hispanic man who kept his cell phone on and answered calls during the movie sat to the extreme right of the row behind me and one other lone woman skinned in at the last minute and sat in the row in front of me 6 seats to my right. I know that sharing the viewing exprience with other live humans is part of what going out to the movies is all about but I really could have done with a less intimate version of that. There's a reason I didn't decide to go at 8pm on a Friday night. There's a reason a didn't go with a friend. But anyway.

More background.

I used to sleep with a married man. I also walked in the park with him, went grocery shopping, went to the movies even, went out to dinner, took long car trips, argued about Plato and a number of other things. We saw each other on and off for over 20 years, we couldn't spend the whole time naked. Well...we could, really, we couldn't. After a while you get old and you occasionally need a rest.

I've wanted to write about how that feels, why it happens or, more importantly, why it continues to happen. I've tried to write about it. A lot. Somehow I couldn't quite get it to work.

Fucking E. Annie Proulx and Larry McMurtry and Ang Lee made it work.

The movie was beautiful and familiar and crushing and, of course, I loved it.

It captures the normalcy, the dogged everyday quality, the exquisite regularity of a long term affair, of loving someone who, for whatever reason, you can't be with. I could add for instances here, tales of carrying a change of underwear in my purse for a year, tales of changing a whole weekend of plans for a chance to travel to..the upper west side, tales of spending three hours waiting for a bus after being dropped off in a small New England town unexpectedly, but they wouldn't really get across the emotion in the way that Brokeback Mountain does. They wouldn't help you to understand the decisions that come along with those tales the way that the movie does.

Years of beating each other up (not physically, like in the movie) at the end of a weekend. Something about lashing out that makes feeling the pain simpler. Something about knowing that you couldn't possibly do this 24/7 and yet still not wanting, not being able to, end it. Something about the fierceness of their reunions makes sense to me.

Some will say it can work, that they could have at least tried. Yes, that's true, I know that. It worked for my dad. But a lot of the time, I might even say most, it doesn't. And I knew that going in. So did Ennis and Jack.

I'm not even sure why I'm trying to follow essay format and give examples from the movie to match to life. All I can really say is "Go see it, that's what I meant to say.". I'll also leave you with a piece of fiction I wrote. Like I said, it doesn't capture what I wanted it to exactly but it's probably the closest I came.

Back at her apartment she pointed him toward the kitchen and went to change out of her work clothes. She never knew what to do at times like this. Did you really slip into something sexy and let them know you wanted them or did you pretend this was a friendly get together? There was Theresa too. Was he still with her? She compromised. Washed her face and under her arms, freshened her make up, stripped naked then put on just a pair of flannel pants and a tank.
When she came out he was drinking a beer, checking out her music.
“Since when did you go all country?”
“It’s not all country. There’s some stuff from the old days. Probably some Floyd, something you can get behind.”
”Well there’s definitely something I can…”
He looked at her sideways with a grin.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”
She headed to the kitchen. While she opened her beer she heard Madonna come up on the stereo. They sat down on the couch and started to talk. Slowly at first but the discussion heating up. Her job, his job, him going back to school, politics, her going back to school. While she got particularly wound up over a point he lay back with his head in her lap to listen. She kept talking, currying his hair with her fingers, enjoying his admiring looks.
When she cooled down verbally he reached up to her neck and gentled her to him, close enough to breathe each other.
“You are so beautiful.”
His tongue along her lips, his lips nuzzling her face and neck. She wriggled down to lay on top of him, giving as good as she got.
Like their discussions, their kissing got heated, more insistent. His hands rediscovering her breasts, hers reflexively gripping his ass. She kept trying to think that something might be wrong with this but her skin demanded all her attention and then he flipped her over. He liked to be on top, in control. He didn’t mind when she was aggressive but only when he said it was time for it.
Suddenly he stopped and just looked at her. Her eyes flew open. He was just an inch from her face looking in her eyes, not quite touching lips.
“I came here for a reason.”
Pounding heart joined by a lump in her throat.
“I want to tell you something.”
It was all she had. Could he really be here for her, for that?
“I’m getting married.”
There was spit caught in her throat. She couldn’t swallow it. She was trapped, suffocating. All her energy in keeping her face neutral. Had to get out, get away from him now!
He looked hurt.
“You’re squashing me, I can’t breathe.”
Her face was neutral but her hands and feet were scrabbling, shoving him off her so hard that when he lifted his weight she fell onto the floor. And she could see that if she hadn’t looked so pathetic he would have laughed.
“You OK?”
Now the challenge was not to cry.
“You want another beer?”
Escape to the kitchen. Her shaking hands trying to open the bottles would give her extra time. But he heard her fumbling and came in. From behind he enclosed her in those arms and felt her tremble.
“Why?” she asked.
The reasons didn’t really matter. She knew all the reasons, she just kept waiting for one that made sense. He’d been with Theresa for years. Not as many as with Mags but steadier. Theresa was an architect, made good money. They had college, mutual friends, a dog; they’d already made a life together. This was the next logical step.
Love isn’t logical. And Mags loved him. Had for years on end. He loved her too. It had to be love if she was willing to break all the rules to be with him.
“You OK?” he asked again.
“Yeah. Well, no, but yeah.”
“You want this beer?”
He opened it for her and watched as she took a long pull from the bottle. A part of him wanted her to beg him not to. Give him a reason not to get married, something other than a lack of spark. Who leaves a woman after 10 years because there’s no spark? An idiot. And that’s just what his family would say and his friends. So he’d tried to ignore the spark issue. Easy enough for the most part but sparks burn and smolder. Inside him a jolly little blaze was developing from being so near Margaret. She ignited his body but also his mind and his heart and no matter the practical reasons for not marrying her he couldn’t forget her or even stay away from her.
Where do you put that sort of connection?
She wandered into the living room, stopped the CD player, turned on the television. He sat next to her. She handed him the remote.
She looked at him.
She looked away.
An hour later she was asleep, her feet in his lap and he had to go. His cell phone had been off for hours. Theresa would be wondering what happened. He needed to get back to his motel and be ready to leave on time tomorrow.
Mags woke up when he slid out from under her feet. Silently she watched him gather his things, put on his shoes. Only when he knelt to kiss her did he realize she was awake.
“I’ve got to go.”
She nodded.
“I’ll see you soon.”
“I meant what I said.”
“I know it was ages ago but I meant it. If you marry her I can’t see you anymore. I have to draw the line somewhere.”
He smiled, started to pour on the charm.
“But why there? It’s just a piece of paper.”
“It’s a commitment.”
“I was committed to her before. You knew that.”
Mag’s eyes changed the smallest bit and it said everything. She hadn’t really known, not until now.
It turned his fingers cold to realize that. Changed the whole meaning of his engagement. But it was too late to stop now.
For lack of anything better to do he smoothed the blanket around her and kissed her forehead. He kept hoping some words would come to him but they didn’t so he just had to get up and go.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

He's no lion and he's no coward either

I just found out that on Tuesday our good friend Cameron died of complications from a surgery to alleviate some problems related to a tumor.

We here at 117 Hudson have a rule that on days like this, days when we find out that we've lost a canine companion, we honor them by giving extra treats, love and walks to the ones who are still around. So, please give your dogs and cats and birds and newts an extra treat or 5 today. If you feel they must only have treats when they have accomplished something may I suggest, "Good breathing!" or "Nice standing." You know, something they've mastered.

At four months old Cameron was found with a broken leg and his signature crank tail outside an elementary school in Nashville, TN. He was a well-traveled, well-loved, spectacular dog and he is missed.

Cameron is dressed as the Cowardly Lion in the picture above. Emily is the Tin Man, Sylvie is Dorothy and Georgia is the Scarecrow.