Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Dog For The Win

WatchfulI haven't had Scooter Snacks in the house since well before I left for Italy. I finally got some this morning and was quickly reminded of the contradictory effect they have on my dog. On the one hand he will do anything for a Scooter Snack. There is, truly, no better training tool (as long as crumbs aren't a factor so they don't work for agility) because Ed will use all his power to deduce what I'm asking for. The other side of the coin is that he loves them so much that he will just rapid fire start throwing stuff out until his tiny mind explodes in hopes of getting the all-important Snack of Scooter. Today I asked for a sit and down then opened the door to the fridge. The moment the paper bag crinkled he sprang from a down straight up in the air about three feet. Then he spun around. When I closed the bag he hit the ground in a sit and slammed into down, eyes glued to me. I detected a whiff of smoke in the air as his eyes bored holes straight through me. I asked for a stay and he did while I closed the bag, the appliance and gently placed the snack on the ground about 3 feet in front of him. Then I released him and he motored off to munch that cookie of bliss in the living room.

We've been out of the training loop for a while. I've been traveling and we had some bad weather so tomorrow will be our first class in three or four months. The long stretch between sessions has made me lax. We still work every day at least for a few minutes either on tricks or loose leash walking (formerly known as heel) or leave it in the context of meeting strange people and dogs. Progress is sporadic, though, and hard to track. It's tough not to be discouraged.

In the mean time the dog training community is burgeoning in our area. I see new dog trainers and new methods every week. I am committed to positive reinforcement training. I could just stop the whole post there, I believe in it that much. I used a couple of dominance techniques on Emily, mostly because my frustration escalated and she fell into a submissive role so the dynamic came to us naturally and yielded immediate results. Long term, though, it was wildly ineffective, especially with a dog whose difficulties all stemmed from abject terror. I could write a book on it. I might write a book on it. I miss my girl so much and can't help going over the ways in which I could have done more for her if I'd just known a little better. Maybe a book would absolve me of my sins. Even if I did, though, it likely wouldn't be enough to change the minds of people who believe the dominance work will yield them quicker results.

Once in a while you get an enormous gift, a sign if you will, showing you that your was is way better than the proverbial highway.

Untitled This morning I went to the park early because I was slinging caramel at an event all day. On a Saturday things are pretty quiet around 7am. People who want a little space around their dog will often come at that time. As Eddie and I crested a hill we saw a couple standing facing each other from about 10 feet apart and their smallish dog. The dog was running around in circles so I actually looked for a second dog, thinking they were individual dog owners who had just met up. A few more steps along, though, and the man called the dog, the dog didn't come, then the woman called the dog, and it did. She asked it for a sit. Seeing that they were training I called Ed to come my way so we could give them a 15 feet or so berth. He followed so I acknowledged him and, when he came closer, all the way to heel, gave him a treat. The other dog sighted us. The man called him. The dog came to him. He asked for a sit and got it. After a few seconds the dog looked at Ed and came hammering after him. The guy called. The girl called. The dogs ran around. The other dog was having more fun than Eddie was but my boy was tolerating it and he needed a good run so I let it go on while I waited to see the people react. The human pair moved to come get their dog so I called Eddie to come, knowing their dog would follow. When Ed got to me I grabbed him and gave him a treat and said something aloud about using him as bait to get their dog. Before they could even have heard me they had hands on him and when I looked up they had the dog on his back and were both looming over him. They thanked me and I moved on with Eddie and they sort of apologized and I sort of weirdly applauded them on training their dog.

Here's where I got excited and maybe relieved and certainly thrilled for my glorious pup and, yes, probably gloat a little. It wasn't a scientific study, there were a lot of pertinent variables, but at the root of it we had two independently minded dogs being asked to come when called. One was being trained without any treats and with dominance, the other with positive reinforcement, both ingestible and verbal. Which one came when called? Which one was a reliable example for the community?

My dog. The barely-food-motivated, spoiled, crafty terrier.

Positive reinforcement training takes a lot of fucking work. It takes time and patience and the forward motion can be slow, especially if you train inconsistently or only a few minutes a day. It works, though. In my experience the results are similar to condom use. The failures can almost always be attributed to user error. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

We Didn't Know!

UntitledI'm not good at the full day by day recap posts about things. I get caught up in the details and nothing ever seems to be perfect enough to press Publish on. It's why I always abandoned my journal on the second day of camp. I'm pretty good at moments, anecdotes, super clear segments, though. You should have seen the deconstruction of the Medea myth I wrote for my senior project in college. (Note to self: When are you going to rewrite that again?)

The first night in Rome we were exhausted. We couldn't even eat. We drank Chianti in bed. Not the worst first night in a country ever.

The second night it was time to have a proper meal in a restaurant to kick off our plan to eat our way across the country. After peeking nervously in the windows of a couple of places we settled on one where we could sit outside. We got a nice corner table on one side of the restaurant and I got to sit with my back to the little barrier. We had a view of the little cobbled street and we were close to where the waiters came out of the restaurant but not too close to the other diners.

Do I need to say that the food was excellent? I shouldn't have to. I wish I could tell you what we had but I don't remember. Don't worry, there will be pictures! Just not tonight.

Untitled The food was so good that we didn't even leave a leaf of garnish when we were done with our entrees. We were laughing and talking and sipping our prosecco. Quietly a man came around the corner of the barrier I was backed up against. He stayed close to the table and, really, so quiet, I couldn't see him entirely. Mom and Queen Bee sort of stopped talking. I checked the dude out enough to see that he had a towel tucked into his waistband. I mean, sure, he had a longish unkempt beard and was wearing a wrinkly suit when all the other staff were wearing crisp white shirts and black ties but he had a towel! Surely it was just how things were done in Italy.

It was good prosecco.

The guy had two of our three plates in his hands when all waiters burst out the door screaming and waving their hands. Someone grabbed the plates, someone shooed the guy away, someone apologized to us, we apologized back. We didn't know. We didn't know! Who would want our empty plates? They were so clean, y'all, we loved that food.

General consensus is that, if he hadn't been caught, he'd have gone somewhere (where?) with the plates and come back shortly requesting a tip. I've thought about this a lot and I just don't see how in the name of hazelnut gelato that would have worked. We weren't going to give some random busboy his own tip. We may have been new to Italy but we weren't new to restaurants! Where did he put the plates? Really, where? I need to know how he thought that was going to play out.

It was silly, with everyone apologizing to everyone else and it being no one's fault. It was embarrassing in a way. But it was also our first experience with the Roma. And that was weirdly cool.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Friend To Us All

I've known that this was coming for a good while but that doesn't make it any easier to write or accept. Suebob, a great friend to this blog and to me, is also a single chick with an awesome dog. Goldie has been failing over the past year or so. Today, via social media, Suebob let us know that Goldie died.

I don't even have words. I remember how much it sucked when Emily died and, man, I wouldn't wish that on anyone, especially not anyone I like as much as Sue.

If you have a minute please go over and read some of the Goldie posts Suebob has written. You'll see what a marvelous dog she was. She was funny and sweet and the perfect amount of pain in the ass. She will be missed, so missed, and I am terribly sorry that she's gone.

Treats, of course, for everyone.

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Trying

I felt like I ought to have a substantial number of the photos from Italy available before I announced their posting. Given how busy I am and how many of them there are I don't think that's practical or even necessary.

Here's some pictures of Italy. Just Rome so far. Many more to come.

The Belvedere Torso
Real Italian Guy
We're in Italy!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

10 Things VOTER

Patiently Waiting1. Today is Voter Registration Day. It's about getting out the vote.

2. There are a lot of laws being proposed and put into practice that suppress voters. I can't find the graphic right now but it went around Facebook some time last week and it was flow charty. To paraphrase, if state sanctioned ID is required to vote and if it costs money to get an ID from the state then you are charging money to vote and that's not right. (NH, I'm looking at you. Giving you the side eye, even. I hate it when I have to do that.)

3. When I realized at the nearly last minute that I would be out of town for the primary elections in my district this month I panicked. I happened to run into a local politician, Lincoln Restler, whose team then helped me walk through the process of absentee voting. The day before I went to Italy I ran over to the election board offices, was given a ballot and a place to mark it, and fulfilled my civic duty/privilege. It was pretty cool. Much gratitude to Restler and his team for making it just that easy.

4. As far as I'm concerned, if you don't vote you need to zip your lip. If you were a football player refusing to play because of the temp refs I'd want you to shut up, too. We'll never know what would have happened with your input so your projections are invalid.

5. The only time I've ever waited more than 5 minutes to vote in my current district was in the 2008 presidential election. Everyone turned out for that one. I really, really hope they turn out for this one.

6. I think I might only have voted once in my state of origin and that by absentee ballot. It makes me a little sad that I never got to go to the town hall and have my name looked up in the big ledgers like I remember happening when my mom took me with her.

Before the Choice 7. A teacher in college was the first person to really get me excited about my value as a voter. Of course, by the time she managed to engage me it was too late for me to get an absentee ballot from the home state or to register in NYC. I sat down and talked to her about whether or not I should fly home to vote in person. She talked me out of it. It was the right decision but it was a weird conversation for me and, I'm sure, for her. I'm sorry in some ways that I was the over stimulated teenager who forced that on her. In other ways not so much.

8. I know we may disagree on a lot of things politically and I'll try to make peace with it but the not voting thing? That's the toughest one.

9. Today in a town in NJ a proposal was defeated that would have gotten new roofs on their schools and solar panels on those roofs for long term energy efficiency. Popular opinion suggests it was defeated because near the last minute someone attached $1.5 million of new turf for the football field to the proposal. I'm not saying the system is unfixable but I am saying that some people with the power to legislate are jerks.

10. Please vote. Please please please vote. Make sure you're registered now so you you can. Please. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

nyu grad 1991Today, I'm told, is Alzheimer's Awareness Day.

My grandmother had Alzheimer's. One day the fridge was full of oranges. One Christmas Eve she went to the grocery store and didn't return for four hours. Three people had to be dispatched to track her down. She got back before we found out what happened and she couldn't tell us where she'd been. At my cousin's wedding she said to my mother, "I don't know any of these people." My mother replied, "It's OK, they know you." To me that last feels incredibly creepy but it seemed to comfort Biddy.

There's a woman in the park who has suffered a stroke. She's recovered but her memory isn't so good. It's some sort of dementia but I don't know which sort. Let's call her Sandra.

One day this summer she was so confused, no leash for the dog (sometimes she uses a belt), unable to remember our names, no clear idea of which way she was headed, that one of our little group took to the internet to locate her family. She found a member, voiced her concerns, and she looped in a whole bunch of neighborhood folks on the email. Sandra's family was, of course, right on top of the things we were worried about but welcomed other eyes on their loved one.

Today I went out to lunch with an old friend so I didn't look at my phone for a couple of hours. When I did every other message was from the Sandra Support Email Tree. Apparently her aide had arrived to find the dog at home but no Sandra! Terrifying, I can only imagine. One of the tree branches had overheard in the park that Sandra would be going to a movie with someone not on the tree. I was able to find an email for that woman and we got the full story (I'm sure that Sandra's family had gotten the story and the relief much earlier). Apparently they'd been to an early movie nearby then to another member's house for luncheon and, while they'd tried to call the aide at Sandra's home, hadn't reached anyone to clarify their plans.

Now we've got an extra limb on our ever-growing tree and we've, unknowingly, "celebrated" Alzheimer's Awareness Day. I am grateful for the happy ending and even more grateful that I keep company with people who take care of their own this well.

Fuck dementia you guys, fuck it in the ear.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Marking the Time


I missed some anniversaries while I was away. When I booked the trip it had been so long in the offing that I just agreed to whatever dates seemed to work without taking too close a look at them. I didn't miss someone's wedding or anything but I did miss a few significant milestones on my calendar.

Anna & Elvis at 112 Lafayette

On September 7th the kittens turned 12. They will always be kittens to me no matter how long they live. This is only partially because they can be super stupid. They were wee things born under my futon in the early morning hours of one of the worst hangovers I have ever experienced. In my mind's eye they will always be super tiny and precious. OK, yeah, they're precious at any size but the widdle biddy kittens are the most preciousest, right? They passed their birthday in the care of Pony Express and are properly spoiled every day of their lives but it's worth noting that they've survived another year and they don't look like they're slowing down any time soon. In the case of Elvis (at right above), who was diagnosed with a heart murmur at the age of 4 and given two more years to live at the very outside, each year is a huge thing and I delight in spreading it around that the vet had her head up her ass when she gave me that news. Happy Birthday Elvis, here's a dose of petty revenge in your honor!

Triptych 3

This was the first anniversary of 9/11 that I did not mark in New York City. My grandfather Robbie was a Rotarian. The Rotary Club is a world wide organization so you can travel to a lot of places and never miss a weekly meeting. He told me once (or told someone else while I was standing right there) that he purposely didn't go to meetings on vacation because he didn't want to feel stuck in the tradition. He knew that if he made it a point to make every, single, solitary weekly meeting then he'd pressure himself to find a meeting wherever he was and it would take away from the enjoyment and enrichment he was getting when he traveled which goes against pretty much everything that Rotarians are about. I tried to look at this anniversary like that. While I prefer to be in New York I will honor the day no less wherever I am and the lesson I've always wanted to follow regarding those events is that we need to make more of our lives not less in the wake. So I saw a bunch of art and ate a bunch of food and drank some wine and ate some gelato and missed New York. And it was good.

Me & Robbie, my NYU grad May 1991

Technically I was not out of town for this last one but jet lag robbed me of remembering it. As of September 15th (or possibly 16th, records have not been diligently preserved) I have been living in New York for 25 years. Now, there are arguments to be made that since I didn't get an apartment here for two more years or because I went to school and later to work in other cities for big chunks of time that it's not a clean 25 year stint but I know that almost from that first day I was a New Yorker. These days I've refined that to Brooklynite (while retaining my deeply seated New England roots). 25 years is a long ass time.

A great ass one, too.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Photo Challenge: HISTORY/MYSTERY

It's hard to believe that it's photo challenge time again. Going to a foreign country during the challenge period will do that to you. Loving that we've got a bunch of entrants this time around. Hope more of you will continue to join (scroll down for the next prompt).

Here are the results, can't wait to read your comments!

Samuel Adams, Elected Governor of Massachusetts, 1794-'97
Repeated viewings of 1776 have left me with a soft spot for Samuel, wait, that was John Adams. Our Janet is honoring Samuel. He's the beer guy, right?

The Graham Family
This is one of Our Cindy's shots from our Ellis Island adventure with Chrome on the 4th of July. We had the best time stalking the memorial wall looking for ancestors.

roebling bridge
Soon Our Bethany will be driving across this bridge regularly. This bridge is nowhere near my apartment. That's a problem.

I know this was a very important building in Rome. I don't know why there was only one guy sitting on the steps.

Jefferson Rock, Harpers Ferry, WV
Kccinnova is giving me another reason to reference 1776! Apparently Thomas Jefferson stood here. Cool, but did he sing "But, Mr. Adams" while he was standing?

Lost River
Our Lisa sends me most of the photos she takes in a family newsletter format and yet almost every photo challenge she enters something I've never seen before. This is a mystery indeed. I like it!

Jellies at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Our Alisun knows how to give me the ol' razzle dazzle so I don't notice when her entry is slightly tardy. Jellyfish are mesmerizing, no?

Some of you may know that Our Bethany is moving away (she lives across the street from me). In honor of her move (you get how hard it is for me to honor the move, right?) the new prompt is GO/STAY. She may be too busy to enter but she'll know we're thinking of her as she gets settled at the next stop on her journey.

Please add your photos to our Flickr photo pool by 9am on Tuesday October 2nd for posting on Wednesday October 3rd. Shoot me your questions if you need help, I'll be around. Thanks for making this feature so much fun!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

10 Tips, Just the Tips (Dirty!)

Chianti for SupperI had never been to Italy before we touched down in Rome on a beautiful sunny morning a couple of weeks ago. I had done some research but not very much. I got overwhelmed by the choices and couldn't decide on anything once I got too much input so I stopped when I had just enough that we had a map and a place to lay our heads. Oh, and a ride home. For the most part I had just enough information but there were places in which I was woefully under-prepared. I would not consider myself an expert on all things Italian at this point but I do have a few words of wisdom to impart based on my limited experience. Seems like the perfect thing for a 10 Things Tuesday list, doesn't it?

1. Go to see Michaelangelo's David. I don't care if you don't like art, if you think the museum fee is too expensive, or if you're embarrassed by stone cold wieners, you have to see this sculpture. I like art, I'm used to museum fees, and I don't mind a stony baloney but still I was just going to see it because it was part of the list of things one ought to do when in Italy. I could have stayed all day just staring at this incredible carving. In fact, they have rules about sitting on the floor in the museum because I'm pretty sure you'd have an Occupy Accademia situation in pretty short order.

2.  Drinking Chianti in bed and going to sleep early is a perfectly valid way to spend your first night in Italy.

Untitled 3. Be prepared for weird systems. For instance, we almost gave up on going to see David because, despite having pre-purchased reserved time entry tickets online, we had to wait in a long line outside the museum before being let in. Inside we waited in another line to trade the online vouchers for tickets. Then we were finally allowed into the museum itself. We encountered a similar situation when trying to get tickets for the subway in Rome with all our luggage in tow. For me, coming from a fast-paced city, it was difficult to downshift into a gear where no one cared if you had a long wait time and no one was interested in speeding any process up.

4.  Related: Don't ever say no to something to eat. Eat everything you can get your hands on that won't make you physically ill. It's all good. Even what looks like it might be the cheapest, crappiest junk in the area is likely to be delicious compared to your local pizza joint or even the salad you make and bring for lunch at the office. You can have the fruit and the fiber rich cereal from the hotel's breakfast bar but beyond that eat whatever looks good, whenever the mood strikes. You don't want to be waiting in a long line and be hungry too!

5. Hone your negotiating skills. You don't have to go to China like Queen Bee and I did but don't just go to a market and pay what the vendor suggests. Do some smart talking and you can get yourself a pretty good deal. In the leather market in Florence I noticed that the vendor was immediately quoting me a price a full 10 Euros lower than the tag on that item so I knew that there was plenty of wiggle room to work with.

Untitled 6. Go to Venice first. If your itinerary includes Venice, and I think it should, start there. Your luggage will be lightest, which is nice because you'll be hauling it up and down stairs, and your enthusiasm for conquering new things will be at an all time high. Venice was our final stop and, though we'd been warned to be prepared for getting lost and climbing stairs and paying a premium for things, my resolve for working through those sorts of challenges had waned. I loved the look of Venice and wanted to explore more of it but wound up being too overwhelmed. As a result my biggest regrets are from that part of the trip and since it was the final leg it's hard to move them out of my mind.

7. Stay at the Hotel Albani Firenze. It is not appreciably more expensive than other low to middle end hotels we stayed in but it is something out of literature. If you've ever pictured Hemingway characters sipping cocktails in exotic locations this is one of those locations. Splurge on drinks on the terrace at least one night, too, so you can feel like you've stepped into a favorite book.

Dog First 8. There are 414 steps up to the panoramic view at the top of the Museo Teatro (I may have the name of that particular part of the museum wrong) in Siena (that  first link says 131 steps, not sure who's correct but there are a number of different places you could start counting). I didn't know that before we started. They're generally spiral steps in cramped, ancient towers, too.

9. Go up those steps anyway. The view is as gorgeous as advertised, if not more so. It's absolutely worth every moment you worried that it was just an elaborate plot to kill tourists.

10. Do not be afraid of the nap. In the larger cities Italy is no longer a culture that completely closes down for a couple of hours after lunch. You can still get something to eat, go to a museum, or transact business throughout the day at most places. That doesn't mean you have to be doing those things all day long. An hour or two of lounging, reading, and sleeping before you get dressed and go looking for the perfect place for dinner can make everything tastier, funnier, and more beautiful. I know, you're not a nap person, you just feel groggy. Just try it. Once. You don't have to do it again if it doesn't work. Let me know how it goes.

*I have only just begun to add photos to my Flickr. Check that link often for updates. (1243 photos, give or take, by the time I'm done.)

Monday, September 17, 2012


For as much as the whole internet talks about being blocked when something happens that they haven't written about but need to you'd think I'd quit putting shit off when it blocks me. You'll understand, I'm sure, when you find out what I'm talking about.

72. Yin Yang

Dear Yin Yang, aka Yinnie, was hit by a car just off the curb in front of her home about two weeks ago. That kind of scenario is something that sprinted through my mind when I walked a big dog on a long, retractable leash and it's one that jumps out of my brain's closets to terrorize me now that I have a bouncy, easily hidden little dog. This is also the second time this year that a friend has been present at the violent, car-related death of their dog. M, Yinnie's person, is crushed but made it to the park this weekend looking for recommendations of rescue organizations. She's too lonely not to at least be meeting new dogs.

One good thing came of this horror. M discovered that it's illegal to bury pets in New York City so she searched for a different solution. (Apparently keeping your dog's ashes in the living room next to the chess set isn't for everyone. Who knew?) She was able to inter Yin Yang in a wonderful place, The Hartsdale Pet Cemetary and Crematory, in Westchester County, billed as "America's first and most prestigious pet burial grounds." She told me that the location is beautiful and the experience, while devastating, was made gentler and easier by the people at Hartsdale. I look forward to taking a field trip up there soon with a still very much alive Eddie to honor the dogs buried there and say a quick farewell to the Yinster.

Treats for everyone, please.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Photo Challenge: RED/READ

I love having a photo challenge be the last thing I post before I leave town for a while. It's nice to leave your home tidy and beautiful. Our Bethany is graciously guest hosting my home while I'm away. She'll remind you about the next photo challenge (prompt below) and hopefully post any little updates I can manage to email to her from Italia. She's got free run of the joint, who knows what she'll put up here, I trust her and look forward to reading it!

On to the pictures!

unreadable thoughts
This one of Our Bethany's youngest speaks volumes to me. It's a rare moment of stillness and a common sense of intensity from F that she's captured perfectly.

Going Out
How could I not include this? I love these glasses, Our Lisa, and how smoking hot she looks in the aforementioned glasses.

This is my friend, E. She is usually quite bright and sunny. I love that the redness of this is everywhere; her dress, her face, her rage. The fact that it's not perfectly focused seems to enhance all that.

children's classics
Our Janet went for the classics with this one. I think the only place I ever saw these in person was at the camp my grandparents owned in Maine.

Since I'm going to an ancient place and looking at very important historical things I think we should use the following Slash Prompt (tm. ME!): HISTORY/MYSTERY.

Please add your photos to our Flickr photo pool by 9am on Tuesday September 18th for posting on Wednesday September 19th. If you leave a comment here Bethany will do her best to answer any questions before I get back on the 14th. Can't wait to see what I find when I return!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Separation Anxiety

ReadyIt's no secret I'm a homebody. It might be a secret that I love to travel.

I know, right? You can hardly tell! I actually love to see new places and check off new experiences (no snakes, no bananas, and no math, please, also no large ships on the open sea if possible). Somehow this doesn't mean, though, that I like to leave home.

I'm a paradox, get used to it.

Many years ago Chili visited me on what turned out to be her first trip away from her kids. I assume that was was because it was far enough away that it would seem like a trip but close enough that, should an emergency occur, she would be able to get home in good time. I assume this because that's how I feel when I go back to the home country. It was her first day in something like three years without changing a diaper. We didn't do anything wildly exciting but we ate good food and saw Patrick Stewart live on Broadway and sipped the occasional adult beverage.

Now would be a good time to mention that I do not think that there is a one to one equivalency between pets and children. I do, however, believe that there are certain undeniable similarities between having those two species of dependents. I have found that it is only the parents most insecure in their roles that bristle at the comparison.

Untitled The first time I left Eddie the Entertaining Terrier behind when I traveled I went halfway across the world for two whole weeks. Apparently I'd learned nothing from Chili's example. Not true, I'd learned but the opportunity for this trip came along and there was no denying it, it wasn't going to wait for me to take a series of short trips away from a dog who is clearly brimming with confidence just so I could convince my heart he'd be OK.

Tomorrow I leave for ten days and Eddie will stay with a series of folks who all said, when I mentioned I'd be going to Italy and just had to work out details for the dog, "Oh, we'll manage it, whenever, it'll all work out." Luckily I don't hang out with a bunch of dirty liars. Pony Express will take care of the cats, who I also worry about. Those furry bastards will turn 12 while I'm away and they're starting, if only a little, to show their age. I have lined up their vitamins and minerals and medications with two full pages of instruction so add to my luck list that my friends not only tolerate but seem to enjoy my personal brand of crazy.

Like I said, my head knows that everything will be fine. My animals are smart, they like who they're staying with, and the caretakers are competent and plentiful. My heart, however, tears a little when I go. I keep thinking of that time years ago when Dooce and Blurb were in Amsterdam and their dog, Chuck, went missing for two days and no one told them because there wouldn't have been anything they could do about it. It makes my peristalsis reverse into my mouth.

Squoze Shut Last night I had what is, quite possibly, the strangest anxiety dream I've ever conjured. I was sitting in a minivan proofreading my suicide note (already sent so I guess I was just making sure I hadn't missed anyone on the distribution list?) and when everything seemed in order it was time for me do the deed. A quick inventory of the vehicle determined that I hadn't brought any sort of implement, device, or substance. It became apparent that I was supposed to asphyxiate myself but all I had was the car and I didn't own a garage. I was in an open air parking lot with nary a rubber hose to be found (thank you Mad Men Season 5). I kept thinking I ought to get up and do something about that but I didn't. Finally someone got in the passenger side and asked quite calmly and kindly if I really thought this was what I wanted to do. I said no and we drove off.

Did I also mention I was a man in this dream?

Anyway, I'm choosing to interpret this in a death-as-journey kind of way but not in a this-journey-will-kill-me kind of way. I'm nervous about setting off and I think I might have forgotten something important but I'm actually anticipating a departure without drama. Tonight I pack in earnest, tomorrow I go fill out my absentee ballot and deposit some cash in the bank. In 24 hours I will be 25 minutes away from sitting my butt down in a town car and allowing some nice person to drive us to the airport. Once I'm in that car everything gets easier. There's nothing I can do to change it and I'm fully pointed in the direction of this glorious adventure. I can't wait!

Someone remind me to pack my passport.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

On Our Way


I haven't left the country yet but I am, it seems, on my way to Italy already. Mama Kizz and Queen Bee arrived on Thursday night and we've been on vacation ever since. We're trying to save some excitement (and some cash) for being in Italy but it turns out that moderation is perhaps not our best skill. We've done some shopping and some walking and some napping. We all have fresh hair and nails. We're ready to go!

We depart Wednesday night. In the meantime we're eating delicious stuff we bought at the greenmarket and watching TV and thinking about the very most efficient way to pack.

*Picture is us on our way to celebrate RMo's 50th birthday. A good time was had by all!