Tuesday, December 6, 2016

714 WORDS ABOUT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS EVERY DAY




My dog eats poop.

Not his own, thank god, or I wouldn’t get to wander around the yard every couple days flexing my Popeye muscles and perfecting my fling. Because even though my “yard,” such as it is, is surrounded on three sides by scrub pine, this little barrel of bricks chooses to drop his juuust inside. And when I say “juust” I mean five feet; seven, tops. It’s not a place I ever walk, and no one ever comes over, and it’s not like I’ve got a lawn to defend. Scrub pine grows in loose sand; grass does not. Which suits me fine because I can’t stand doing yardwork anyway. In fact, I could just leave his leavings where he left them, and let them kill what little grass there is. It’s not like he eats his own poop, anyway.

I did mention that my dog eats poop, right?

Well, he does. But not his own. But I have to pick up his poop anyway – even though he doesn’t eat it, and even though there’s no danger of me or any other human person ever setting foot in that back “yard” – because Wiggles McGee here does tear around in that perimeter, and when he’s in tearing-around mode he’d leave a dog-shaped-hole in the goddamn Great Wall of China. Seriously. For example: At Thanksgiving? My brother-in-law threw a toy behind the couch for him and he ran over my father to get to it. And I do mean Ran Over. As in literally. As in: jumped up to his lap, launched off of his belly, and soared over his right shoulder. Because he knows he’s not allowed on the couch in that house, so technically he didn’t touch it. See? He’s a good boy. And he’s smart as fuck.

But, I don’t know if I mentioned this yet or not yet: he does eat poop.

He also pees on his own front feet for Christ’s sake. So something tells me he wouldn’t give a shit if he stepped in some. Then he’d come inside and tear around the house and track it everywhere and I’d slip on it and fall down the stairs and break my neck and when the Sheriff came in looking for my body the whole house would be smeared with poop and it would be on the local news and passed around on Facebook and everyone would tut and cluck about why a 48-year-old woman had no children and pretty soon there’d be a rumor that I did have some but killed them and buried them in the backyard. That’d be worse than dying in dirty underwear, I think. I mean, like I said, I don’t even have a backyard.

ANYway…

I’ve googled it. There’s all kinds of advice out there about getting them to stop eating their own poop – though most of it involves distracting them before they have a chance to choke it down – but he doesn’t eat his own poop. Just poop that he finds, you know, lying around. Like lucky pennies. By the side of the road, or on the mountain, stuff like that. The other day? When he was off-leash on the trail? I came around a corner and saw him chowing down on a pile that think was from a buffalo or elephant or something. When I called and he came running – with a look on his face that made me understand the phrase “shit-eating grin” – the smell of it on his breath hit me before he did, and I had to toss his reward-treat down the trail a ways to head him off before he licked Mountain Buffalo all over me. And Google doesn’t have a word to say about the Mountain Buffalo

I thought I’d try their advice anyway. Get a toy that would be new and special and exciting. One he’d like a very lot, keep it in my pocket, and he’d only get to play with it if he successfully ignores the tantalizing world of Wild Poo. Optimistic about this new idea, and convinced of my dog’s trainability, I piled him in the car and drove 45 minutes to Walmart. Where I found these:


Hidey Ho!!

I give up.

My dog eats poop.


Friday, December 2, 2016

538 WORDS ABOUT SOMETHING THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN YESTERDAY




Yesterday, I woke up late.

Okay, that’s a lie. I don’t remember what time I woke up yesterday. You’d think I would, it was only yesterday, and no matter how many grey hairs I might have on my chin and other places I don’t want to talk about, it’s not like I’m a thousand years old, after all. But I don’t. The only reason I remember what I ate for breakfast five minutes ago is because I eat the same thing every morning: three hard-boiled egg whites and six cups of black coffee.

I hard-boil the whole egg and throw the yellow parts away. I’m not insane.

And anyway, even if I did remember, there’s no such thing as “late.” I didn’t have anything to do or anywhere to be. The dog peed when I did at two o'clock a.m. (I also peed at midnight and 4:30 but I am not a thousand years old yet, goddamnit, just shockingly well-hydrated). And, thanks to a decades-long combination of Strategic Defense Initiatives, I have so far managed to fend off every heat-seeking-missile shot my way.

I don’t have any kids, is what I’m saying. See what I did there? It’s a little gross, I know, but if you’re on this ride for the long haul you’ll have to take it on the chin once in a while. I did.

So where was I? Oh yeah: yesterday.

Well, my write-gears may be all wrenched and rusty, but there’s one thing I do remember: if I don’t sit down at the keyboard when I first wake up, it doesn’t happen. I can (or used to could, anyway) pound out a page an hour between 5 and 8 a.m., but give me a quiet house and a blank slate from noon until the cows come home, I’ll spend three hours scrubbing baseboards and the next three watching out the window for the cows.

But I woke up late (maybe). And it was gonna rain later (maybe) and the dog hasn’t had a good walk in a while. And in this house a good walk means three hours so when we got home we had to eat (or I did) and then there was this puzzle on the kitchen table that was achingly almost done and Moshe Kasher was on the Pete Holmes podcast and that’s also three hours long and then it was time to eat again (for both of us). And then I did sit down to write but it wound up being all about doctors and death, and to my ears it was funny in a morbid sort of way (pull quote: “Who the hell is gonna find my body before the dog gets hungry enough to forget who I am (or used to be)?” Ha cha cha!) but nobody wants to read that shit at Christmastime and so I scrapped it. And then I watched Hannibal Buress in Edinburgh on Netflix and went to bed.

In other words: I promised on November 30 to write 500 words a day, and on December 1st I didn’t do it.

So buttons. I’m a thousand. I’m allowed.

If it counts for anything: I didn’t shower, either. Oh, and also plus?

There was a piece missing.



The End.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

FIVE HUNDRED(ISH) WORDS ABOUT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY




I used to be a writer.

For a while there (never mind how long, precisely) I was for-real, with job and a paycheck, health insurance and a 401K. Then, for another while (never mind how really-really-really fucking long) I was one of those “Imma writer” writers, who cleaned houses and drank a lot and who, admittedly, wrote three whole books that still live in a thumb-drive somewhere if I ever have the balls to find it. If I haven’t, in a fit of Life-Changing Magic, thrown the tiny, thumb-sized thing away.

During the time I was pretending (or “attempting,” let’s be kind) to write, I had a blog. Started at the behest of my agent (see? I’m not entirely kidding when I say “attempting.” She was real. And? As far as I know? She still is.), in the hope it would earn me an audience and help to “build my platform” (that’s agent-speak for “something to put on a resume because no one will publish you”). It did neither. It was funny – or I thought so, at the time – and my family loved it, but the only (best) thing that came out of it was a handful of far-flung friends I’ve never met.

There are several, but four specifically that chamber in my heart of hearts: a tattooed redhead in Virginia with whom I will someday drink whiskey and kick shit, I swear to god; a smart-mouthed brunette in Michigan – we watched our mothers die and got divorced together, and together we came out the other side; a cute blonde woodworker in San Francisco, whose smile I swear I can see from here; and then there is the Bald and Bearded Swede…

The Bearded Swede is also a writer. When we met, I thought he was “pretending” just like me. But five years ago he was accepted to the Odyssey Workshop in New Hampshire, and that Changed Everything. Also? I lied when I said I’d never met any of my Final Four in person: because while he was there, he came to Maine and visited with me. Came back another time, too, on a detour off a meandering vacation – and I don’t know if I ever told you this, Martin, but I have family that hasn’t been here twice!

Martin, that’s his name. And after that Workshop – while I was having the five-year non-writing tantrum that I called “getting realistic” – he was working a Real Job and Getting Married and suffering from Cluster Headaches and Getting Very Serious about his writing. I’m not sure I understand the particulars of how it happened, but somewhere in there he joined (or organized?) a collective of Swedish artists, and collectively that Bearded bastard wrote, Kickstarted, and published a motherfucking Book.

He sent me one. It arrived yesterday. It is exquisite. Not for nothing, but Clive Barker wrote the goddamn introduction. The artwork is frightening and intricate and dark and beautiful, and Martin’s stories seep from it like honey from a hollow tree.

You can read about, and buy, it here.

It arrived yesterday.

And today, I’m doing this.


P.S. Martin quit his Real Job last month.

Oh yeah, and P.P.S. I have a dog.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Three Sizes, My Ass



I’ve decided to have some people over for the first time since I moved to Maine.

Well, not the first first time. I mean, it’s not like I’ve been sitting here in this little cabin in the woods all by myself for three and a half years, staring at the dog. Except I kind of have. For three and a half years – whenever I wasn’t working, shooting pool, or entertaining the Other Dog (on which enough already) – I kind of have been sitting here, staring. Because a. I was licking wounds and going a little feral, and b. he really is a damn fine-looking dog.


Not that fine-looking. Not like I ever considered doing anything to him besides stare. The odd walk, maybe. A pat on the head every so often. But you know, I’m not a weirdo. Besides, I had the Other Dog for that business, remember?

Anyway so yeah, I have had the occasional odd guest once in a while, but I have not had People Over. At first because I didn’t know any People and then because I didn’t think they’d come, and then because, well, having People Over means cracking a can of worms I haven’t taken off the shelf since I was married. The recipes; the cutting board; the everything that goes in hand with entertaining. All the stuff I used to do when I was a Different Person, living a Different Life, and I wasn’t sure if That Girl was still in me anymore – or if she should be. 

Plus, you know, people are like mice: let ‘em in, and they leave holes…

But I’m getting a Christmas tree this year. And if that ain’t a great big bowl of Different Life then I don’t know what is. Because see, there was a time I used to be Miss Christmas – or at least first runner-up. I played the music and jingled the bells and wished the merry and spread the cheer and wassailed the figgy pudding and all that happy reindeer-shit, until any reasonable person would want to haul off and sock me in the sugarplums. My tree was a goddamn liturgy. Plus there were Santas in every corner, special throw pillows for the couch, china settings for the dining table we never even used and—

Hell, honeys, what I’m trying to say is: I’d’ve crapped a fucking Yule log, if I could.

But on December 3, 2009, my mother died. I came back from the funeral to find that my boss of eleven years had gone off her antipsychotics and the voices in her head said I was fired. Not too long after that, my second boss, from my second job, died in her sleep. And, well, being the Great Big Grown Up Girl I was and strive to be, I dealt with all of this by running away from home, developing an eating disorder, and, eventually, getting my Great Big Grown Up Self arrested.

I didn’t so much notice when it happened, but somewhere in the midst of all of that, my Yule Log Dispensing System went on strike.


Moving on…

It took a while, but all that’s behind me now. As behind me as it ever can be, anyway. The divorce was final in 2011. The house sold, finally, in 2012. All that remains of my unfortunate incarceration is a tiny little skid mark in St. Peter’s book and a lifetime ban from Canada (re. which: who cares? It’s fucking Canada. And it ain’t like this girl’s getting into heaven if there is one, anyway). I have a new home, I have my mom’s fine-looking dog, and I’m three years in to a halfway-decent job I’m really good at and I abso-freakin’-lutely goddamn love. So, maybe, just possibly, perhaps… now might be the  time to cop a merry squat and see if I can’t pinch something off.


Bear with me…

Except, you see, if you were paying attention in that last paragraph (which if you weren’t, can’t blame you. I do have a tendency to ramble on. But if you were…) you might be thinking to yourself “Yo, turd-girl, all of those moving-on things were true last year, as well!” And you’d be right. They were. And in fact I came to this same conclusion at this same time last year. And I never did anything about it then because I wasn’t Turd Girl last year: I was Pussy Galore.

Because, you see, the only way I managed to survive the last three years was by cramming my heart – except for the little piece of it kept alive by the aforementioned Other Dog – into that box in the basement, too. And when it came time to let it out, I balked. There are things in those boxes I am more afraid of than anything I’ve ever had to face before – and you’re talking to a girl whose job it is to disarm six-foot, beer-bellied, bald and toothless biker guys named Gus. Things that make me cry right now just thinking about them. Things my mother made or gave me, things my husband and I brought home from all over the world. And that home is gone and that husband is gone and that mother is gone and that world is gone – and all I have in this little log cabin left to comfort me is my dead mother’s dog. And no dog – not even the Other One – is fine-looking enough to make up for all of that.

So last year I moaned about the expense and the effort and the who’s-even-gonna-see-the-damn-thing-anyway, and pussied out. I knitted Christmas sweaters for the nieces and I baked the Christmas pies, but I left all the ghosts in the basement where they belong. And when shit started rolling around again this year like it always goddamn does, I resolved to not even pretend. I don’t do Christmas anymore, I told myself. I’ll put the face on for the family. I won’t snap at folks who wish me well. But in my black, dead, lonely heart, it’s over. Finished. Done.

And then, when I was at Dad’s for Thanksgiving a few weeks ago, he asked me to root around the boxes in his basement and see if I couldn’t find where Mom had stashed her Christmas Village. And I did. And I found them. And I tried but he wouldn’t let me help him set them up. And when I left, all by his 70-year-old, a-fibrillating, half-bionic self, my dad did this:


 Well.

If that man – who was married to her for 42 years and has been lost without her; who raised us all through recessions and runaways; who’s been in the hospital four or five times since she died, for myriad adversities, and who keeps coming out each time a little more discouraged but never giving up; who just keeps getting better, standing up, and going back to work; who put me on his weak, elderly back and goddamn carried me through my arrest and the ensuing eighteen months of costs and consequences – if that man can open those carefully packed boxes, lift out the porcelain, and plug in the lights, then this girl can sack the fuck up and quit shitting herself at the idea of coming face to face with a slightly-moldy salt-and-flour Jesus.

So I’m getting a tree. And I’m having People Over. Because it’s not true that burying my heart is the only way I managed to survive the last three years.

It turns out that, no matter what, the mice find their way in.






And if there are any Maine mice reading this whom I forgot to invite, please come. You'll find the details under my facebook events. You just have to swear not to do this...