Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Saga of Too Many Sagas.

Friends and followers (all FIFTEEN OF YOU!!), I bring you, unabridged and undiluted and only marginally exaggerated for humor and readability, the thesis of the past twelve months. Otherwise known as The Year in Review. No gimmicks; no sorting by alphabet. No month-by-month rundown. Simply this:

Dear 2010, You Fucking Sucked. Good Riddance. Love, Rachel.

This could have been the Saga of D part Whatever Number We're On, but it would have been all the old bads (the Dumped, Depressed, DUI) and then some (the Dogshit my neighbor put on my windshield - I kid you not. Bitches be crazy).

But I'd like instead to say this. I left the radio station today, after accidentally interrupting the President (our breaks are prerecorded and broadcast on automation, so out of nowhere, when Mr. Obama decides to monopolize the NPR airwaves for some press conference or whatever, my chirpy little radio voice cuts in at 2:39 as per the schedule and Barack is midsentence and I am all "Sunny skies this afternoon! Wind chill! Talk of the Nation! Who cares about Obama listen to me!!!"), and decided I needed more sweaters. And so I tromped out to the Goodwill and navigated the wild road design that is Carolina Beach and did not feel guilty about not attending immediately to my young beast because I looked away for like 2 seconds this morning and next thing I know my brand new (albeit Wal-Mart) shoes were essentially demolished. (But then I scolded him and made him go in his crate to think about what he'd done and when he came out he was about the most sheepish and lovable creature ever birthed and so I forgave him.)

So. I am in the thrift store, and I am, as usual, grabbing way too many things off the racks--though now I actually look at the tag, which is to say that while I still shop at thrift stores, the days of old-man-polyester pants and ironic State Fair t-shirts are long gone--and trying them on and long story short, I spent $30.

At the Goodwill, $30 means this: two Banana Republic sweaters, a Coldwater Creek cardigan, a Gap turtleneck, a lined blazer, a cowboy shirt that's dry clean only, a Loft cardigan, and--wait for it--a little black Calvin Klein dress.

The point is not that I have become incredibly shallow and brand name obsessed (at least not wittingly). The point is that I can wear these things, and I look fucking good in them, because that's what I did this year - I changed. I dropped 45 fucking pounds. I did that.

The sheer colossus of what happened in my life in 2010 gives me vertigo, and yes, this has probably been the unluckiest year of my life. But then I think how I could still be compromising my happiness and living with an insincere individual who I only stayed with because he purported to love me, and, because I did not love myself at all, that was enough to put up with unspeakable amounts of bullshit. I could still be as miserable as I was with him, and still suffering through how wrong we were together just because I was too afraid to be alone.

And then I think that yes, I now have a DUI, I am now a felon in the eyes of Canada (though who cares--sorry, Meg), but I could still be drinking myself stupid with alarming regularity and blithely getting behind the wheel to procure a Big Mac from the other side of town--and maybe I would have ultimately sobered up and realized what a dipshit I was being without any ill consequences, but I feel like it's a heck of a lot more likely that what did eventually happen--my crying in the cop car, being handcuffed to a wall--would have happened in a much uglier way. A car-wrecking, pedestrian-hitting, serious jail time kind of way.

I go to my new therapist now and think, goddammit. I don't want to be this way anymore. I wish I'd never started this whole treatment business. It's annoying. I doubt seeking psychiatric help will ever not be annoying. But at least now I know what's wrong with me. I am not intrinsically bad, as I thought during high school. I am not innately hideous, as I thought all through college. I just have a lot of bad, hideous habits that have royally tampered with how I live my life.

The sum of all of this: I'm changing, and it's for the better.

Plus--and you know you couldn't read an entire blog post without my mentioning him--2010 was the year of Pinto. I cannot believe--literally, I'm trying and I physically cannot believe--that this time last year there was no dog in my life. I was working at the mall, Rob was working at Inclinix, and I'm pretty sure we spent most of our time avoiding one another and, at least on my part, looking forward to going home so I get away from him for a whole month. Which led to a lot of hiding in my childhood closet and weeping when I did finally get home, then going out drinking myself stupid, then reading to distract myself from how fucking awful everything had become.

And now? Now I am decreeing 2011 the Year of No Badness. This will be the year I finish my novel; the year I knock off another 10 pounds and keep them off; the year I make sure my rug is usually vacuumed.

I didn't want to write a month-by-month synopsis of 2010 because I knew I'd realized how much the good outweighed the bad. When you line up the days, there were really only about 10 that authentically sucked from start to finish, versus this, which I'd like to call: Okay 201o I Take It Back You Kind of Kicked Ass Too.

Karlena Janelle Riggs, aka The Love of My Life, visited me twice. Twice! And on one of those trips, we went to Universal Studios, and we rode like a hundred roller coasters, and then we got drunk and road more roller coasters, and it was so unfathomably glorious I am kind of dancing in my seat right now. And--and!--let it be known that she not only drove from Oklahoma to see me, she also brought me QuikTrip, which is actually the most wonderful thing anybody may have ever done for me.

All summer long, actually, my house was full, even though its previous tenant was the reason I needed so many folks around in the first place (AKA IT'S HARD TO BE ALONE WHEN YOU WERE SO BRUTALLY DUMPED). My mom came and we went to Wal-Mart actually every single day. My dad came and we ate oysters every day. My brother came and we ran with Pinto on the beach! Or he ran with Pinto and I just stood by and cheered.

I worked at the Census, and though it was probably the most ridiculous work environment ever, it was also far and away the most fun. I worked on campus, and then I made the only smart decision I may have ever made and quit. I work at the radio station--yes, I, and I'm saying this more to myself than any of you, little old me who used to sit in her bedroom as a wee bowl-cut-bearing child and sing into a microphone to make Rachel Radio, is now a bona fide radio announcer. At a real radio station. I mean--I interrupted the president today!

And I went to Maine. And I emceed a bluegrass festival. And I wrote--I wrote stories and I wrote essays and I wrote some of this novel and I wrote letters and I wrote this blog. I won some awards. I read some books. And I somehow made some of the truest bluest friends who have a porch and like when I'm on it. And I moved from a shithole of a townhouse where we parked in spaces to an ancient enormous downtown apartment where I listen to the noise of playgrounds every morning and where right now the fireplace is burning and my beast is chomping on a bone and my walls are green and covered in photographs that prove how loved I am and how incredible my life has been--there's a picture of Annie covered in snow in Sweden beside a picture of my brother in Cooperstown beside a photo of my mother at Bald Head Island, Karli at Village Inn, my father in our kitchen, the girls at Senior Formal, Dogs in the Back, the Reisenrad, the Rockies, the Big Blue Whale of Catoosa.

You can call it sentimental, but I took all of those photos.

My moms is coming out to see me on Sunday, and then we're loading up my Toyota and driving to Oklahoma. Pinto will be in the backseat, possibly on Benadryll. And the Sunday after, we'll be flying to Seattle, where we're having Christmas on an island, and then we're flying back to Oklahoma and I'll ring in the new year in the heartland of my own heart, and then I'll drive back to North Carolina with Pinto in the backseat, possibly on Benadryll.

That's a pretty dizzying itinerary, but I think it's in keeping with the year itself. I want as many miles between me and 2010 as possible; as many miles to show how many I've come.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Saga of Lessons.

Otherwise known as the Saga of D, part two.

The thing about Depression-with-a-capital-D, which, in my modest view, means you take pills, you see doctors, your life is adversely affected beyond feeling gloomy, is just that: you take pills, you see doctors, your life is adversely affected. It's a disease, an affliction, a condition. Point being, I'm sick, and I always will be sick--and fortunately it's manageable, but the mere managing can be just as rough.

Here's a slew of similes for you to chew up: it's like mono. Mono never goes away, but you don't wake up with a sore throat every day. It's like diabetes; you have to monitor yourself. It's like epilepsy because you have fits.

And when those fits occur--and they will--there's very little you can do except cram a spoon between your teeth and hope you don't swallow your tongue.

Some more bad similes: it's a rip tide because you can't fight it. It's like quicksand in the same way. And it's like vomiting, because you medically can't not vomit--there's no such thing as kind of vomiting (at least according to the sagely Dr. Snickerdoodle, otherwise known as brother-in-med-school). You're either hurling your guts up or you're not.

What this looks like to a depressed person is this: uncontrollable crying. Feeling about as fragile as the proverbial eggshell. Not being able to move. Thoughts that yell at each other to a pitch that becomes sheer noise, and logic that whirls--because you've trained your brain to do this, and you can teach yourself otherwise, but there will still be days that you forget all your lessons and regress.

When you're trying to get over an infection or a cold, you wake up and check your vitals: throat sore? nose clogged? aches?

When you're living depressed, you do the same, only you think: can I do this today? And this is simply getting out of bed. Then problems create problems--you sleep through work, your boss chides you, you're overly sensitive so a totally justified criticism becomes a personal attack, which you deserve--or so you think, because you think so insanely little of yourself that you deserve all the shit the world can dish out and then some--because you are a terrible person and wasting everyone's oxygen and nobody actually likes you, it's a vast conspiracy of politeness, and really, what's the point anyway, you've fucked it up all beyond all hope of repair anyway but dying is too tough so just go back to bed and stay there.

Pretty much every day this past week has been like this for me.

I'm hollering because last night, when the police man asked me from the other side of the glass if I had any conditions, I told him I was depressed.

And he said, "Aren't we all," and kept on with his paperwork.

So there's two lessons for you and a thousand for me in this. The first is that depression sucks, it's ugly, it's unavoidable, and cavalierly suggesting to a hysterical girl who's handcuffed to a wall that everyone is depressed isn't just a bad idea, it's plain wrong. I'm not asking for sympathy or pity or even understanding. I know that I fought a diagnosis forever because we have some collective myth that equates the word depression with simply feeling bad, and anyone worth their snuff can dig out of their own hole, right? "I'm depressed" means "I'm feeling sorry for myself and having a crummy day."

False, says I!

The second is this, and if I ever wanted to use this blog as a platform, now's the time--though I debated for a long while whether publicizing this would have any other benefit besides consoling me (because if it's an anecdote it's no longer a tragedy, right!?)--but hell's bells, here goes.

Don't drink and drive.

(So many d's!)

I was not drunk. I'd had three beers. I've been drunk before, and this was not it. But I also had an expired registration and a busted headlight and a lead foot on the gas pedal because a certain beast had neither had his dinner nor been let out to pee in about, oh, ten hours.

I have been crying so much lately that when the officer's car lights started blinking, I was dry-eyed. As I was when he made me walk and count and balance on one fucking foot and breathalyzed me, again, all of a block and a half from my front door.

When he handcuffed me in the passenger seat of the cruiser, though, it started, and continued all the way to the station, where I was walked into a plain and terrible room. He sat me on a stool. He asked if I was right or left handed.

"Right," I said, and he hooked my left wrist to the wall.

And it kept going as I exhausted every number in my phone searching for the one sober soul in Wilmington still awake at 2:30 who could come sign me out and take my pathetic ass home.

To say it took forever was an understatement, but you know all the cliches: the chummy other cops, "how're the wife n' kids" as you're sitting there, humiliated beyond belief, shocked, any buzz you may have had evaporated, and the slow paperwork, the ambling, all while you're sitting there with your hand stuck to the wall.

And I was angry and shocked and decidedly unhappy and thinking psychotic thoughts, but I kept quiet, and after eight hundred years and seventeen months and a few hours more, they let me go.

Even though my license is gone for at least a month and I've got attorney bills to pay, there were a lot of miracles in the whole mess. I called everyone--my friends, my co-workers, my boss--and, in my catastrophizing mind thought I'm going to have to sleep in jail because I have no friends. But, of course, this is crazy person thinking, and not only was my sober signer there, but also the girl I'd gotten in touch with who got in touch with her and--and!--another friend who'd called the station back and somehow deduced that Little Rachel was in the slammer.

In short, they came through, and there was a fucking committee of friendship standing outside in the cold waiting for me. Not only did they save me the unforgettable shame that would've been my boss driving me home (he would have, I know, but thank god the old fart was asleep), but it made me realize what a hugely distorted conclusion I'd made earlier. You don't stand in the cold in the middle of nowhere dealing with jackass law enforcers out of simple courtesy. That's just fact.

But this is the bigger one and the one you should pay attention to: I was two blocks from my house. I felt in control. My car is intact--albeit two blocks away--and my scarred psyche and your waning attention span are the only casualties of this whole shitshow.

It could have very, very easily been otherwise.

Which was what my family kept repeating when I broke the news today, all of them knowing that I'm gonna give myself more hell than the three of them combined could: no one was hurt. And we all know--you and me and my folks and everybody else--that there have been too many times when I was in worse states and didn't get caught. It's miraculous that when I did, it was last night, after three innocent beers and not, oh, say, nights of whiskey. And you've had them too.

Are you paying attention so far? Here's what we've learned: a) depression is a bitch. b) don't steer after beer. (I just came up with that!)

Here's what I learned:

Three beers is what I would have once called a nice, semi-buzzed limit. Three beers used to work when I was 45 pounds heavier, but also when I hadn't forgone dinner and slept til three out of paralyzing misery and wasn't, well, sick.

I have got to start taking care of myself. I know, if I'd eaten, that little number on the breathalyzer screen would have been lower. And it wasn't self-denial, it's not anorexia--I just didn't eat. My doctor told me this: "You don't have an eating disorder, but your eating is certainly disordered."

And that's true--and so is my laundry, and my sleeping habits, and how I write, and just about everything.

Another D, Disorder. And another: Determined, as in how I am about how I've got to go on--harder, better, faster, stronger!

Both my parents told me, at the utmost least, it'd make a good story. I hope so.

Go forth, young readers, and be sober and mobile! May you learn from my mistakes. And may you also please give me a ride.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Saga of Maintenance.

Hello friends. Long time no blog, as the kids are saying these days.

And that's because there have been remarkable days, but just as many mediocre, and far too many slightly disastrous. This is a problem: I judge my worth by how many catastrophes I avoid per day. Examples: Did I eat only cereal? Did Pinto make a child cry? Did I sleep 15 hours straight on a weekday? Was I reprimanded by some superior, either because I a) slept through work or b) neglected to pick up my dog's droppings (seriously, people--I know it's gross but it's not like I'm tossing used heroin syringes from my pockets like appleseeds) or c) fucked up something else?

So I'm maintaining. When the close of the week approaches, I think, oh, I made it. Another one down. And when the start is imminent, I brace myself, because the way I'm living is a little like standing in the surf during a hurricane, waiting for the big one to come knock me down and sweep me away.

Fortunately, I have very good soles on my shoes.

(I am an excellent metaphorist, clearly).

I'm not complaining, because I brought this on myself. Me and my brother are both somehow engineered to have this sadistic yes I will do everything all at once! mindset that's been hacking away at us since high school. To use other people's cliches: too many irons in the fire. Too many pots on the stove. Or, in the immortal words of one Mr. Bilbo Baggins: "I feel like butter scraped over too much bread."

And I still feel like it's some form of penance for the epic desert that was most of the previous year--the movie watching and beer guzzling and general fucking around. But it's detrimental in a lot of ways because it makes me blind to so much goodness--like my freaking apartment! It's amazing! Huge! Old! Hardwood floors and a working fireplace (okay it's gas but still!).

Sadly I am usually scrambling to find my keys to get to work only marginally later than expected and the floor is covered in dog hair. Seriously. How can one beast produce so much?

But! To drag this already terrible metaphor even further, here are the cleats! Those little wonderments that miraculously prevent my daily drowning! (It's late! I should nap!)

My friends, because they are, miraculously, mine. I realized this in an unfortunate context, but I've learned something about myself--I don't think anybody should like me. I am kind of astounded when they do. I think it fitting that today, while being graciously watched by a friend, Pinto went a little happy-berserk and proceeded to use his torpedo-strength tail and knock over some guitars; it's fitting, because I said to Pinto, "Ah, we make a good pair. Everyone tolerates us." And then the owners of the guitars told me that was false and gave me dinner...again. And some Halloween candy.

(Halloween, incidentally, was a veritable hullabaloo. (Apparently there are only three l's in hullabaloo.) I went as Carrie, aka, I went as a terrifyingly bloody prom queen. It. Was. Awesome.)

My dog, obviously. Because he might have taken to vomiting whenever he eats (only a little), and he might bark like the world is ending when I leave him in friends' backyards for a moment of peace, and he might have eaten pretty much all my shoes, but then he sits on my feet and looks up at me and I'm like "Oh, you son of a bitch--literally--I still love you more than everything and anything."

And I know it's a rerun in terms of this blog, but this place! Wimmyton! My god! I never, ever tire of looking at the houses when Pinto and I go on walks. (I also never tire of the people who are very kind when Pinto leaps the fence to say hello to them even though it looks like he's about to eat their jugular.) The beach, though I haven't seen it in weeks, is right there! (A friend tonight said she was sorry she was late--she'd been drinking whiskey on the beach). And how could we not mention THE SERPENTARIUM!

But, moreover, the little microcosm I'm enrolled in, though lord knows it makes me grind my teeth at night at times, and my poor father has to suffer through my deranged, caffeinated phone calls when I'm feeling especially out of sorts with all that is MFA and literary and--Lord help me--workshopped. (Not that I dislike workshop, but I think their shine is dimming considering this will be my sixth year straight sitting in them).

This week was Writer's Week where classes are canceled and a whole slew of nifty events replaces them. I told my brother this and he got very pissy because there's no such thing as Doctor's Week for med school students. My attendance at such events has been patchy (see the above 15-hours-of-sleep mention) but oh, my little heart starts thudding when I'm there. Partially because it's a glorious thing to hear writers talk, to think I could someday talk so eloquently and, more importantly, deservedly, to get the cold bucket of water over the head that reminds me, Oh right! I like doing this! Writing is great! The world is amazing! Hooray for us all let's have more wine!

But also: Pinto.

No, that one was a joke.

But also: here. North Carolina. The South. The coast. The fringe. The sea and the drawls and the barbecue.

There was a performance a few nights ago of Dusty and Ace, aka two of my professors who flirt with guitar-pickin' and mandolin-strummin'. I went. I was sleepy. I sat at the front. And just as it happened a year ago at one of the first functions I attended, when the kids broke out the guitars and started singing, the lights went down and the music came on:

oh daddy won't you take me back to muhlenberg county

What happened next was an hour of songs I knew and couldn't say how I knew--cowboy tunes, slide guitars, fiddle solos. And, as I found out today, the man in the fanciest cowboy shirt up there is a native Delawarian. Delawarer. Person from Delaware.

And I called my dad as soon as I got home and said, "You would have loved it."

Likewise, tonight there was a reading that concluded in a piece about the ineffable glory and atrocity that is Free Bird. And I wrote in my friend's notebook - "I want to shout hallelujah."

What I mean is this--there's a reason I came here. Something is right in all this mess. Otherwise my blood wouldn't retain the lyrics to songs I never listen to; I wouldn't be here if I shouldn't.

So maybe it's the saga of hallelujah, actually. It's just good, so very good, to know that I can make things as bad as I possibly can for myself, and something, someone, or somewhat is out there to remind me that there's a method to this mayhem, that I'll probably--more than likely--actually definitely--be all right.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Saga of Anthems, Adventures.

Two lines deserve to be tattooed on my forearms given how much I'm living my life by them. One is nothing new - The Mountain Goats' angry anthem, a determined and crazy and desperate mandate: I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me. (This, incidentally, lends itself well to insertions of "motherfucker" as in, I'm gonna fucking make it through this year even it motherfucking kills me). The other one is Otis Redding: I can't do what ten people tell me to do.

I vanished to the North for two weeks and it was an adventure full of smaller adventures tied up with an adventure with a side of adventure. Exploits include moose sightings, Indian buffets, an LCD Soundsystem concert, a wedding with bottomless Makers' Mark and lobster mac and cheese, leather jackets, and lots and lots of trees. Also, lots and lots of Milwaukee's Best. And lots and lots of driving. I saw two states I'd never seen, ate a homemade whoopie pie on the steps of an old church, and saw a moose. Did I mention there were moose? We decided the moose had organized a congress in the woods and knew of my arrival.

All in all, it was a much needed and wonderful span of days.

And I felt pretty triumphant when I crossed the VA-NC border, knowing my apartment was mere hours away, and my dog, and my bed. But there's also a hell of a lot of obligation here, which I felt as soon as I opened the door and wrangled Pinto to the ground (he missed me a lot). Emails from bosses. Missed phone calls. Voicemails.

That, paired with a residual claustrophobia from driving I-95 from Portland, ME to Rocky Point, NC, made it real real tempting to get back in the car and head West, throw my phone into the Mississippi, and rent some ranch in Montana with my student loans and adopt 8 more dogs.

In short, coming home made me feel like a crazy person.

Which, in turn, made me an incredibly ill person.

I got sick in Maine, I think in part because I stepped out of the car in Farmington and realized I'd just fucking driven to Maine - and thought nothing of it. I'd hit a point as I was driving that was both terrifying and liberating--no one knew where I was, aka I was beholden to nobody, had no responsibility besides keeping the car on the road, didn't have to do anything. The other side of that, though, is pretty horrifying--I could crash and no one would know. I could just keep driving, reach Canada, see how many days I could go missing.

Again--crazy person thoughts.

But I got to Maine, and as soon as I stopped traveling, BLAMMO! Fever from hell. Fortunately my host was insanely gracious even when I slept for 15 hours straight and requested a bath at midnight (he had a Jacuzzi so it's not all that crazy). And it was a weirdly low-key vacation (though, to be fair, there are two bars in Farmington, and they're spittin' distance from one another) of watching movies and driving through the foliage and drinking coffee in jimjams, which was, weirdly, just what I needed.

I've been hesitant to type in this thing because it's inaccurate. It's a public forum and it makes me want to crack jokes, which is good, because cracking jokes keeps me going sometimes (I still think Grampa is a hilarious name for a dog), but it also feels pretty artificial at points.

Plus, man, I really just want to bitch about work and school and everything and that's bound to get me in more trouble than I inherently, perpetually find myself in (and I ended on a preposition but whatever!).

This is what it comes down to, though, and why Otis Redding has been added to the Rachel @23 Playlist Of Life: Pinto.


No seriously guys this one isn't a joke!

Lately, I need Porching as early as Wednesdays, because by Wednesday, I'm as fried as a pickle and there are two fucking days left before it's the weekend--I lay in bed and think, "I'm gonna make it, I'll survive," but there's the corny question of survival vs. oh, you know, enjoying your glorious twenties. I realize I sound like I have some hideous disease (which, currently, I do, ha!), and, as far as I know, I don't. But I go to bed feeling badgered and hounded and--there has to be another animal verb--moosed and like I am before some tribunal and they are all so, so disappointed in me. My bosses don't think I'm working hard enough. My classmates think I'm a drunk; my peers a sentimentalist whose blog is the narcissistic, babbly ramblings of a dog-obsessed overgrown child. The editors of all the journals I submit to think I'm ridiculous for my stories about God as the Lincoln Memorial. My parents wish I would grow the fuck up already.

(Of course, all of this is supposition - I don't know what anybody thinks, but man, it sure feels like I do.)

And then there's Pinto. And what does Pinto think?

"I sure wish you'd take me out to poop soon."

Or: "Could you throw this hedgehog toy for me?"

Or: "I'd like to be on your lap for a while. Thanks."

What I mean is this: I can fulfill Pinto's needs. I am always doing a good job with Pinto, even when I'm not, because he's alive and well-fed and only gets the shits sporadically nowadays. I just got out of a relationship where I was supposed to be filling the other party's every need, and I couldn't do it, because no one can--but Pinto's a dog. He needs somebody to open doors for him because he has no hands.

So I've been deadly ill all week, and the only fun of it is hanging out with Pinto, who might be 65 pounds but is convinced he is a lapdog. And Pinto will not go get me Sudafed or a box of Kleenex or another gallon of orange juice (though I think he would if he could). But what he does do, and what he always will, is love me, no matter how bitchy or dirty or sickly I am.

And that, friends, is why I am going to capitalize on the Marley & Me market and write The Pinto Papers, which I plan on beginning as soon as I get all this MFA literary avant-garde shit out of my system first. Pinto's face is gonna be all over your Barnes & Noble - you just wait.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Saga of Can-Do-Ismus & Work Work Play.

And suddenly it's September.

Friends, I had a remarkable revelation the other day--and no, it was not if you make Pinto's leg thump hard enough while scratching him he will fart, nor was it that it's probably time to buy groceries when there's only some sad eggrolls and a 2-liter of Coke (to be mixed with rum) in the fridge, nor was it oh, my underwear is inside out.

I learned this: if you taunt me in to doing something, I'll fucking do it.

Seriously! And this does not mean I did something insane the other day ("Hey Rachel bet you won't snort this line of ants off the front porch" "WATCH ME MOTHERFUCKER") but only that lately I am feeling pretty unfuckable, and I don't mean that in the copulative sense. The contrary, actually. As in, every cigarette is a victor-ette solely because it can be.

Hence the affliction, Can-Do-Ismus. This is the strange and wonderful phenomenon of doing things because you can't see a reason not to, and, more importantly, because you can. And I don't mean shoplifting. I don't mean running red lights. I don't even mean not flushing the toilet as soon as you use it.

I mean being content.

I've been rustlin' with this whole idea of happiness for oh, well, ever, and I sometimes hesitate to sit down and type on this very public narcissistic badly syntaxed bliggity blog because I have no conflict to report. And no one wants to read about Rachel's wonderful days. We want drama! Intrigue! Action!

Sadly, I must disappoint. Things are really, really good. Like freaky good, like "oh shit is this the best time in my life ever I THINK IT IS" good.

And that is fairly remarkable to me.

"But Rachel!" you cry, shaking the corners of your computer screen like a lover's lapels! "What are these things? Why must you wax so philosophical? You realize it is a Friday night at 11 p.m. and you are in your jimjams blogging for Pete's sake? Who is Pete, anyway?!"

Pete, incidentally, is a name I would only bestow on a cat, because cats, unlike dogs, are allowed to have person names, but it's much funnier when a cat is named after a trademarked thing (Kleenex, Velcro, Ziploc, etc--great cat names). Dogs, on the other hand, are only permitted to be named after inanimate objects and preferably those that begin with P (but that's a personal thing)--my next dog, because while normal people are out there making shopping lists for dinner, I am eating eggrolls and planning dogs, will be named Potato. Followed by Pimento. And possibly then Pinata.

The things are these. I have arbitrarily chosen three of them because it's a nice, curvy number.

ONE. Work.

At last! At last, the gilded deluge of a paycheck, albeit monthly!

One of the reasons I don't blog with any form of consistency, friends, is my insane work schedule. I have twin jobs, one sitting at a computer designing ads for fancy pants cultural events and writing press releases and clambering around campus display cases, and the other, as you know, at W HQ R. My daily schedule has three parts: job 1, job 2, and class. When I get home, 10 hours after I've left, Pinto has often demolished something, but who can blame the little guy? Ten hours is a long time to go without peeing. Try it sometime.

I should record this now before the new station manager arrives and rattles everything up, but I really, really love working in public radio. Sometimes the egos are a little asphyxiating and the quirks are borderline deadly, but you guys! I am "a voice"!!!! And I didn't think anything of it because I am just a little old intern at the end of the day, but I can't tell you how many folks come up to me saying "I heard you today! You were great!" This also might have something to do with my new stint as back-up host for Morning Edition, which means I wake up at quarter to five, let a very groggy Pinto out of his crate, brew some hideously strong coffee and clomp to the station in the pre-dawn dark; then I go live, and there are 40,000 people listening to me.

Did you catch that part? 40,000!

That is a whole lot of people!

So now I have added "professional voice work" to my infinite list of actually paying post-MFA potential job opportunities. I'm informed there's an anime studio in Wilmington that hires voice actors, so someday you might be watching some disproportionate big-eyed schoolgirl in a sailor suit as she battles (or gets screwed by, let's be honest here) an octopus monster and you'll think, "Wait, shit, is that Rachel?"

And maybe it will be!

Two. WORK.

I don't want to speak too much about it because I know I'll jinx the whole thing entirely, but this year I am writing a novel. I have around six dozen pages of diagrams and scribbles and strangely oriented fragments, but it's actually coming along. And yes, it's about Tulsa, and yes, there are dogs' perspectives in it, and yes, the Rock-a-Fire explosion, and beyond that I am not so sure. What I know, at least, is this thing has got to get written because I want to put Tulsa on paper. The Admiral Twin Drive-In burned down this afternoon, and the fact that I got so heartbroken, adding it to the list of Tulsa Lost (Bell's and the Metro and the Rose Bowl), actually made me think, "Holy cannoli, I'm actually going to write this thing, aren't I?"

Considering the last novel-length undertaking I took was Harry Potter fanfiction in middle school (unfinished, but still really awesome), this is kind of a big deal.

And I read an excerpt from it to some fine folks who gathered at the library, and while they did not lift me on their shoulders and go marching off into the night singing, they might as well have for how good I felt afterward. It went well. It went freaky well.

So that work, the real work, is likewise happily pooting along (like Pinto on a walk).

Lastly, THREE. Play.

As usual, I am living in the Hamilton mindset of work hard and play even harder. So I'm home on a Friday night because my throat feels like I ate a sandcastle (and now I have to take care of my voice because it's suddenly a product, a commodity, this shit is crazy!) because we gathered on a porch last night to welcome the season's first hurricane, Earl.

Long story short, the jerk didn't even call. Not a drop of rain. Just some breezes, and a lot of beer drinking, and I bought a pack before coming over and, well, it's got two left. Even typing that makes my lungs cringe.

But it's truthfully been one of the most fun summers of my whole little life--I am having far too good of a time. I am spending way too many hours on porch swings. I am taking far too many notes--but I'm not squirreling away this good and gladness because it's just the start of how things will be, because they can be good and they are.

Watch me, motherfuckers.

(Okay I feel bad about calling you guys motherfuckers. I didn't mean it. I love you all.)

Let's toast to ourselves and bake ourselves a cake! Because we can!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Saga of Rachel and Her Week of Wonders.

There is no sense to any of the following but there have been too many small good things recently. Please regard the following post as a Whitman's Sampler, which my parents have bought one another for Christmas for maybe the past twenty years because they are adorable (the metaphor is also apt because most folks can find at least one thing they adore and abhor in a Whitman's Sampler--for me it's the Toffee Chips and Cherry Cordial, respectively). (Also I just looked up "Whitman's Sampler guide" and found this and that is why I love America.)

Now there is a word I do not miss from campus days of yore. It has been a time of doors, friends, namely the one with the sticky lock that leads to the aqua stairs that lead to my apartment, and the one to my bedroom that must be propped with an obliging rock, and the one that doesn't exist between living quarters and writing quarters and was replaced with some curtains by my mother. Also, previous doors: the screen door of the old apartment that taller folks than I propped so that we could tote my couch out, not once, but twice. The swinging door between kitchen and living room that I'm pretty sure has some petrified Pinto poop from his puppy days that I'm certain has since been painted over in Mind-Destroying White courtesy of the Bell Apartment Company, may their souls writhe in moral agony because they were meanies (except for Mark the Elderly Repair Man on His Customized Golf Cart--he was pretty legit).

In less ambivalent terms, I moved!

And now I reside in an apartment that is two years younger than the entire state of Oklahoma. Mull over that for a moment while you chew on your piece of wheat, then deduce: awesome!

Pinto and I went through a rough adjustment time, wherein he kept his nose a millimeter from my heels and it was not unlike being followed by a loyal elk or walking ottoman. Either way he posed a hazard. But he has finally acclimated, and now he delights in sleeping in his tiger-sized crate or chasing Hemingway, the six-toed cat that lives on the porch. Which leads to:

Guys, do you know about porches? I mean, do you know about porches?

Did you know, for instance, that you can lug your excruciatingly large and comfortable couch to a its semi-permanent home at a friends house at 4 p.m. or thereabouts and then spend approximately six hours sitting on a porch swing, simply swinging and shouting at the cars (and/or horse-and-carriages did you know Wilmington is magical because it is) for something like six hours afterwards? Did you also know you can gather to presumably watch Blue Velvet and instead spend another something-like-six hours on a porch drinking sweet tea and bourbon instead?

Did you also know that one minute on a porch swing has approximately the same effect as 1) strong shot of whiskey or 2) half a narcotic or 3) ten minutes holding a baby and/or sleeping animal in terms of how much better you feel afterward?

All of these things are true.

Sadly, I do not myself possess a porch, but my friends two streets over do, and so Pinto and I tromp over there with embarrassingly regularity. What we do there is a mystery to me, but it is much like a bar in its dark and tempting pull, where you know, should you dare to plant yourself on the stoop steps, you will be rooted for at least the rest of the day. This leads to:

Summer is over. My daily production of sweat would argue otherwise, but according to the good ol' planner, it's true. Classes start tomorrow, and my tuition is due, and I can't believe it, really. Here is the part where I get all sentimental and start pulling nostalgic conclusions from things, the old "this time last year" modus operandi which is foolish and not productive. But we'll put it this way: everything that happened last year has happened again, and this time with gusto! As in, I moved. I've made friends. I've eaten good food. I've gone on good walks.

And, last but not least, not at all, I threw an amazing party.

This party was not amazing by standards of previous parties I have helped coordinate (AHEM WAGNER AND VODKA AHEM). In fact, I'm sure some people did not have an impeccable time because my dog jumped on them in a moment of unfettered glee and maybe or maybe not accidentally kind of punched this person in the nuts. Or because I insisted they try the combination of Cheerwine (aka North Carolina Dr. Pepper, only flat) and Svedka. Or because they were sweating because it's hot in my apartment.

But! It was still amazing.

And it was amazing in the goofy way all parties are amazing--solely for being an amazing party. There were no kegstands or pot shots delivered by frat brothers from the next suite over, but there were a lot of people, and a lot of drinks, and a lot of lovely dresses, one of which was worn by me, and which, shall we say, did not go to waste that evening. And maybe I was washing cups for half an hour straight the next day and my three middle toes are still numb from the combination of cobblestones and heels, but all in all--worth it. Utterly and totally.

And this leads me to:

FALL: Hamilton, you have a lot to live up to when I grace your hill this October. Prepare now. Cake would be nice, but friends (!!!!) will do.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Saga of Size, Sighs.

This title is not meant as a pun (though it is a fine one), but rather as stakes to ground the flyaway tarps that are me trying to make my life into sentences. See also: that past sentence.

But first, Pinto.

I know, guys, I know, you're all out there rolling your eyes thinking Juh-heee-zus Rachel shut up about your dang dog already but whatever! I can't help it. He's my little fluffer nutter, and he is loved and revered by all who are fortunate enough to know him.

Also, he is a moose.

Both my parents have visited me this summer, and they have both said the same thing re: my moose dog: He's huge! To be fair, Penny, our Corgi, is small. Or, at least, not huge. As in, she is about 20 pounds, and Pinto is 50.

Now, as you will recall, I am actually somewhat retarded when it comes to numbers of any sort--my brain starts buzzing like the yogurt section at Wal-Mart and no matter how much I try to think, I can't really put 50 pounds, or 300 feet, or 7000 miles, in perspective. I'm certain whatever quadrant of my brain devoted to spatial reasoning was long ago taken over by Oasis lyrics.

Then there's the fact that I have been with Pinto since he really was just a wee little bean, so he hasn't sprouted so much as imperceptibly increased in the previous months. Ergo, to me, he doesn't seem like a big dog. He is not a little dog, yes--most of the time I just think of him as my little fluffer nutter.

Then we went to puppy school.

To be short, I think I now understand how mothers who get called about little Bobby's trip to the principal's office feel. Pinto is not exactly a star student. In fact, he's the equivalent of Roger from Doug--not the kind of dog you'd want to bring home for dinner. After our first class, I was pretty close to just sitting in the car and having a meltdown, but then I realized it was way too hot outside for such silliness, and, moreover, how silly it was to be so upset.

As my wisest friend Karlena J. Riggs put it: "Rachel. Seriously. You have to stop taking criticisms of your dog as a personal affront." (Karli also said, when I screamed OH LOOK IT'S A PIGGY at the Animal Actors show at Universal: Rachel. Seriously. You need to calm down.)

Pinto has a whole slew of little idiosyncrasies that make him a special case at puppy school: he is completely uninterested in the presence of food, so while the other dogs are happily heeling and sitting and staying, Pinto is dancing around so he can go make friends. Pinto's head is 90% mouth, so he likes to say hello with his teeth. And, I think, most tellingly, Pinto has a vice-tight grip on my heart because he was the only thing that stayed constant in the past 6 months, when I was completely alone and afraid and awkward--the other couples in the class (and they are all couples) have children, have houses, have each other.

I have my dog.

So that's why I never shut up about my dog, and why I crouch on the floor daily to look him in the eye regardless of the inevitable faceful of puppy breath, and why I sleep with him even though he vibrates the bed whenever he gets an itch, and why I almost crash my car every time I take him on a drive because I'm looking in the sideview mirror at his ears flying back and the unmitigated glee on his face.

And if that isn't a good enough explanation for you, well. Too damn bad.

So we went to puppy school for the second time yesterday (it's a 6 week course before he is "Star Puppy" certified), and we did a little exercise where we swapped dogs, a kind of canine musical chairs. And so I got to pet the 2 month old Shepard, and the little spring-loaded yellow mutt, and then I look over and Peyton's owner, a guy probably 6'5, muscled, imposing, is straining to keep Pinto in order.

That's when I kind of thought: okay. I guess he is a moose.

The good news is two-fold. Whenever we're out walking, absolutely no one fucks with me because I have a beast at the end of my least. Also, because I spend about an hour a day reeling him in from whatever squirrel/cat/interesting patch of monkey grass he is desperate to interact with, I am acquiring some legitimate guns. If my professional Scrabble career never takes off, I might start entering Arm Wrestling tournaments.

As usual, this post has been entirely about Pinto. But, briefly, there is also the size and the sighs of me.

Roll the drums and sound the trumpets, bitches, because I've lost 40 motherfuckin' pounds. Again, due to my inability to process any kind of abstract integer, I have no real idea of how much this is, but I do know this: I went to Ross. I scoured the racks. I extracted a slinky, teal-blue satin Calvin Klein number, thinking, "Oh, what the heck." I put that sucker on. I zipped it up.

And I looked good.

Which then, of course, inspired me to keep looking, and extracting, and zipping, and amaze-ing, and, of course, purchasing. So I'm down about a Benjamin, but my gigantic closet, weirdly located off the bathroom, is replete with a dozen new dresses. 5 of them are Calvin Klein. I wish I wasn't so proud of that, but I am.

And it is so, so, so nice to go through my clothing and discard not only what's too big, but what's cheap, what's worn, what's simply ugly because I can now go into a store and look through the middle of the rack, not the extreme end. It's a really awful phrase that I'm not fond of, but I have to admit, it's kind of true: Nothing really tastes as good as looking good feels. (Which, again, does not mean I don't eat, but that I only treat myself to a cheeseburger when I'm having my monthly Cheeseburger & Chandler night, where me and my detective novel pull up a stool at P.T.'s).

When I started typing this, I thought the 'sighs' in the title referred to all the sighing I've been doing lately, which is a lot--mostly exasperated, exhausted, between moving apartments by my lonesome (see the aforementioned budding gun show) and making novice's mistakes at the radio station and my dog's tumbleweeds of shedding hair that are overtaking the corners of my apartment--but I think I deserve some contented sighs, too. I have a semi-tan from spending days at the beach. I have a dog who does not shit on the carpet. I have five Calvin Klein dresses.


Glory hallelujah amen!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Saga of the Spooks.

Shit, guys. It's July. How did this happen? I am aghast, both at the passing of time and my inability to post consistently. I assure you, oh dedicated readers, it is not for a dearth of hilarious happenings, but rather my inability to sit down at my desk and type. See also: why I got the spooks.

The spooks are something like the heebie-jeebies, something like the willies, something like that giddy anticipation that happens when you dressed up two hours too early for Winter Formal and just kind of sat around watching TV in your dress trying to pretend everything was normal even though the evening held such, such promise, which of course was not capitalized upon, but which was, ultimately, still a really good time.

In short: Shit is happening!

I am in a weirdly liminal phase these days: I am boomeranging between dual jobs and dual apartments. The jobs are pretty nifty and not only because of the paychecks--I work at the radio station! This is so undeniably cool, and only really becomes tiresome when my blood sugar nosedives and my boss is trying to explain things about transmitters and routers and satellite feeds, which happened today, and which I remedied by sneaking away and wolfing down my lunch. A gal's gotta eat.

Speaking of eating! That is all my father and I did during his grand visit of the past week. Or at least, that was the majority of our activities: oysters and barbecue and donuts. Have I mentioned lately I fucking love this little city? Oysters! Barbecue! Donuts!

So my dad and I feasted like fiends and I still somehow managed to knock off two pounds. This is relatively small change in the scheme of things but perked up my day tremendously when I found out. More importantly, my dad showed up and was flabbergasted and told my mother over the phone that I was physically "a shadow of my former self." And people, I am currently wearing a pair of shorts. This pair of shorts does not stop at the knees (though it also does not stop at my heiny so don't get any wrong ideas). But I came downstairs on the day my dad arrived in said shorts, and I immediately prefaced: "I know they're too short" in hopes of waylaying any of my father's fatherly but unwanted criticisms about my appearance--which at one point were deserved because I was wearing a Wrigley's Gum t-shirt that I had cut up and refastened with safety pins. Granted, I was 13.

But my dad, in a totally non-creepy way, simply said, "Those shorts look pretty good."

In Richardson speak, this is tantamount to "DAMN, GIRL."

Which, again, was not creepy so much as it was pretty heartening. And my dad, who is the shit, was also completely fine with me leaving my number on the bill when we had our traditional Admiral's Delight Enormous Plate of Sea-Borne Deliciousness. I had also had 4 magaritas (including but not limited to some magnificent concoction called a Cactus Juice). The waiter in question had also been flirting mercilessly all night. And was tall. Which is about where my standards start and stop these days.

But, as I said to my wisest and wildest friend Karlena J. Riggs following her departure, it always astounds me how lonesome I get when she leaves. Likewise, today was tricky because, let's face it, I'm alone. And there's a certain thrill that comes with independence--little luxuries like leaving the bathroom door open when you're showering, making messes in the kitchen and not cleaning them up til the next day, etc.

But there's also a lot of trepidation, especially when you are also moving. I think I said to Pinto a dozen times today, "C'mon, let's go home." And then I realized I don't really know where that is right now.

My new apartment is not the place I posted about earlier, but it is on 4th street, and it is pretty amazing. Hardwood floors and fireplaces and a tub with a sloped back (thank the Lord) and, thank the Lord outside of parentheses, furniture. My dad came by and saw it, and I had some folks over following the tremendous fireworks display over the Cape Fear River, and everyone is duly impressed. My dad mentioned Stingo in Sophie's Choice, which shows how a) nerdy and b) awesome my dad is, because this is an apartment to write novels in! This is a place where a writer lives! I live here, ergo I am a writer!

But somehow it also cements the events of the past year, like the picture is finally developed after weeks sitting in the camera. I'm moving to a new place; I'm leaving the place I arrived in. When I got here, I thought I would be with someone; now I'm alone. The move is not so much a joyous affair--though I am excited--but really a reminder that my life is not what I ]thought it would be.

Point blank: I'm having to leave because I got left.

And this is not the venue to air the filthy, soiled, sodden and mildewed laundry of what went wrong with me and Rob. Suffice to say, I'll be glad to be away from the place we moved in to together.

So I'm over at the new place tonight, slowly moving my things--a box of books here, a bag of laundry there, the Where the Wild Things Are decals (which are totally on my new cabinets, and I should've known something was wrong when my ex kind of hated them, ha!), my stolen papa-san chair--and it's hot as hell inside there, and Pinto is kind of weirded out and acting strange, and I have no towels, no dishes, and this place has a strange old lady smell in the closet, and I'm more focused on whether my dog is completely overheating to really have an existential meltdown but it definitely crosses my mind--how I am alone here, and my family is 20 hours West, and how Rob left with no warning, and how I am living in a strange state and doing this crazy thing and this time last year we were on the road or riding roller coasters in Branson, and the year before that I was in Europe, and remember college? Jesus, I was in college last year, I am only 23, what am I doing what am I doing--

But, again, these thoughts are quieter than they've been in previous instances, and I safely drown them out (with a Red Stripe) and Pinto and I head back to the old place. But I'm still unsettled. I feel rattled. I still have the spooks.

Or at least, I have the spooks until I see the happy parade of ants marching from my front door--what used to be our front door--to Pinto's dirty food bowl.

At that point, the Antinator kicks in and I vacuum those fuckers up and spray down the baseboards with bleach and stand with my hands on my hips and tell those little six-legged shits who the hell is the goddamn boss.

Because the goddamn boss is me, goddammit.

At that point, friends, I realize I am over thinking things, as usual, and somewhere in here there is a great metaphor, something some Buddhist philosopher could say: When in plight, recall the ant, who toils only for a morsel of spare snack. Or: Be as the ant is, following the path of his brethren. Or: As ants are, so should you be; act with determination, perseverance, and worth.

But really, what I think is: fuck this place and fuck these ants and my life is going to rock so hard solely because there will be no motherfucking ants in it.

Which, I gotta say, is a pretty sure-fire remedy for the spooks.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Saga of Radioga.

Radio-ga = Radio + Yoga = what this post is about.

Guys! Hey you guys! Guys seriously! Listen!

I did yoga!

Why was this such a huge landmark for me? I don't know. Why was I so damn nervous? Probably because everyone was barefoot and all the employees were svelte and wearing those trendy flowy pants and the studio was actually a converted house and there were a thousand varieties of tea in the kitchen (most of which I could not pronounce) and oh yeah I'm about as limber as the Lincoln Memorial and oh yeah also fat.

Except not! Seriously! Okay maybe still a little. Enough that I am "stepping up" my efforts (as the young kids say these days) because when I hit fifty, I'm throwing the Skinny Soiree. Fancy dress will be mandatory. As will the shots. One shot per pound lost?

But the total's at 36. 36, you guys! That's a lot! I mean, it's close to 40, and 40's a pretty big deal as far as numbers go.

And, for the record, in case anyone out there in the miasmic cosmos of the internet is concerned, no, I am not gagging myself, nor starving myself, nor depriving myself. Pinto and I go on very sweaty walks daily. My refrigerator is packed with what my brother termed "chipmunk food." But I'm very much trying to establish behaviors that I can actually maintain--aka retaining beer as something I can have. And an aversion to the gym, or any kind of activity that requires a specific outfit (scuba diving?). I'm not doing 600 crunches per night, though I did try to do some push-ups last night out of a burning need to be rid of my twangers, which made me realize that I a) have no upper body strength but b) have some sad little muscles that were crying out, "Please! Use us!"

So. I went to yoga.

And it was awesome.

Okay, no, not entirely. It was pretty silly, actually. All the 'align your chakras' and 'breathe away your waste' and the silly windchime music--that shit I could do without. I've encountered far too many people who are so Zen'd out all the time they come across as doped, and I have always been a caffeine and cocaine type. That's just a figure of speech. Really. It is.

But damn, son! It was an hour of crazy stretching! And let it be known that this was not even Yoga 101, this was like, Rudimentary Yoga, this was Yoga you go to when you can't touch your toes. Which I can't, but someday, by god, I will.

And afterward, I felt like about a million bucks. I'm pretty sure my legs acquired an extra inch, at least (and if you've ever seen my legs, they need it). So I'm pretty pleased. Not pleased enough to actually buy a yoga mat yet or to start reading the teachings of the Upanishads, but enough that I think I'll sleep like a baby angel tonight because my bones are content.

So there's the yoga. The radio is this:

It is a sublime form of torture to listen to your voice over and over again for an entire hour, repeating the same humdrum weather report, trying to sound "natural," especially when you are weirdly insecure about your voice. I don't know why--I think everyone has a weird reaction to hearing themselves speak, but I especially cannot stand my own voice, by which I mean the actual sound of my speech, and not, of course, the hilarious witty things I say all the time which my brother Matthew is so jealous of and I don't care because he doesn't read this anyway the fucker.

I spent at least one solid hour--that's 60 entire minutes--non-stop recording a piece of copy for the radio today. Do you know how long that segment was?

A minute.

So I technically made my public radio debut tonight, and it was pretty surreal to stand in my kitchen unloading the dishwasher and hear myself stumble over the word "thunderstorms" from my kitchen radio, but it was also pretty goddamn awesome.

So! I work at the radio now, as the meek little Broadcast Intern. I love radio a whole, whole lot, but my love had a lot more to do with "listen to all this awesome music!" and not "listen to me!!!" So it's a weird transition, going from WHCL, which was all live, all silly, all college, to WHQR, which is all business, all pre-recorded, all professional and shit. In the long and sundry list of adjectives I'd pick to describe myself, "professional" is not one of them. "Hardass" and "go-getter" and "unintentional bitch" maybe, but not "professional."

But if you want a good laugh, and want to hear my foolish NPR voice, tune in tomorrow here at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time. I snagged the daily half hour of staff-picked music, recorded it today, and it's going to be either the worst or best thing that's ever happened on a radio station on a Thursday evening.

And, again, as I always seem to conclude these posts: things are good. I was a camp counselor for a week and had more fun that I thought reasonably possible without the aid of mind-altering substances. Pinto continues to become hideously oversized, but he can also stay in the house alone all day without destroying anything, and he takes up too much of the bed but I forgive him because he's my dog (and, as my mother pointed out, he kind of saved my soul inadvertently just by being a dog and loving me unconditionally through the Very Bad Times of these past months). I made some badass enchiladas two nights ago. I'm moving downtown in a few weeks. My dad'll be here next week, which means the following: oysters, donuts, BBQ, and more oysters.

As stated previously: Damn, son!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Saga of My Life is Magical.

Yes, yes, in the vein of Fuck My Life and My Life is Average, I now present to you fine people who have so patiently waited for me to update this silly thing: My Life if Magical (MLIM).

Case in point: The small children next door. I think I posted earlier about this herd of tiny children that made instant buddies with Pinto, and how they were wondrous and made my day and kept asking if I had any candy (I don't, sadly). So yesterday after a particularly harrowing day of faxing my ex our move-out form because he left too abruptly to sign it (between that and the monthly checks and having to shove all the shit he left in corners where it is not visible to me, it's resembling a divorce more than a breakup) and sweltering in the 90+ degree heat and having a moment of pure undiluted absolute terror wherein I thought Pinto had finally discovered he's big enough to leap out the car windows (because he was in the backseat because he goes with me everywhere he's allowed and because I had to spend far too long in the copy shop trying to send the aforementioned fax), I go home and call Tulsa. The entire city. No, really, just my house, so I could relieve some stress to my mother (who has been remarkably understanding considering she was more in love with my ex than I ever was), but my father answers. And we're chatting, and it's nice, and then there's a knock on the door and I say I'll call him back and then!


So we do, and they are again disappointed that I don't have any candy, and then they depart, and I call my father back and I'm all, "Never mind, my life is magical."

Case in point Redux: I went to Florida with my wisest dearest friend and her absurdly awesome parents and oh my god no one over the age of 6 should have that much fun at an amusement park. Here are ten tiny anecdotes to prove, once more, that my life is magical.

1. Orlando is full of alligators and fake British pubs, often right next door to each other. We saw a slew of gators at a mini-golf course right before we went and swung on the giant tall swing ride, identical to the one at the Prater in Vienna, only this one was better because there were at least 6,000 alligators down below our feet.

2. JURASSIC PARK. What more need be said? We rode the Jurassic Park River Adventure I think at least 19 times, not because it's particularly exciting or scary or even that good, but because every time we went through the giant gates and the theme music started playing, Karli and I got choked up. I kid you not.

3. HAPPY HOUR IN JURASSIC PARK. Yes, it exists. Yes, they will sell you a concoction called a Raptor on the Rocks. Yes, it is neon green and delicious.

4. RIDING ROLLER COASTERS AFTER HAPPY HOUR IN JURASSIC PARK. We decided that either this would be the worst idea (hangover, instant loss of buzz, vomiting) or best idea ever (most amazing roller coaster ride in the world). To be fair, we had ridden Dueling Dragons already a billion times--twice while being the only ones on the coaster and therefore automatic front row seats--and about 3/4s of the way through we both got pretty queasy, but I highly, highly recommend RWI (riding while intoxicated).

5. WOLVERINE. He said we giggled too much. This was true.

6. ALL THE JADED EMPLOYEES TRYING TO HAVE A GOOD TIME. On Dr. Doom's Fear Fall, we were privileged enough to experience some incredible improvised voice-over; I think usually they're supposed to cue up some pre-recorded ALL HAIL DOCTOR DOOM, but this guy began the ride with a simple "Uh-oh...Spaghetti-os." Needless to say I was too busy laughing to scream when the ride shot up into the heavens.


8. JURASSIC PARK. It was that awesome.

9. OUR 'SOUVENIR CUPS' = EASY WAY TO SNEAK BOOZE. Universal Studios has this crazy bar world that's basically a third park. Within this crazy bar world, there is something called Fat Tuesday's, aka The QuikTrip Lounge. Imagine a wall of smoothies of all colors and variety. Now imagine they are loaded with rum. Now imagine you dumped these into your souvenir mug. There you have it.

10. THE WOMEN IN THE HOT TUB AT THE HOTEL. Special props to them, because they were amazing and praised Jesus after every single thing. I told them I'd driven from North Carolina--they said "Praise Jesus for your safe arrival." I told them I was with my biffle Karli to celebrate her graduation. They said "Praise Jesus for her accomplishment." I said this hot tub sure is nice. They said "Praise Jesus, it takes the ache right out of my bones." Amazing.

Afterwards, Riggsie came back to old Wilmywood and we proceeded to have our own Senior Week, complete with shenanigans too insane to be recounted here, but needless to say they were amazing and we will never do them again. Four unrelated tiny anecdotes follow:

1. WE FOUND A ROOM OF REQUIREMENT. It was a karaoke bar. It appeared only so we could go down and wow the gathered patrons with our singing (Karli) and rappin' (me) skills. Seriously. I did the entire Jay-Z canon. I did. And we got to hold tiny dogs.

2. MIDNIGHT SWIMMING IN THE OCEAN. We saw Avatar outside at Carolina Beach, and afterwards, we hopped over to the actual beach and Karli leapt into the ocean. I stayed put. But it was still pretty fucking amazing.

3. KARLI READ BOOKS 2-6 OF HARRY POTTER. This is simply a feat worth recording.

4. WE ESCAPED. The details of this cannot be revealed. But I will tease you with these details: there was a bald guy named Willie involved. There was Shark Laugh. There was a hole in a screen, aka our getaway route. There was also this quote: "Karli I believe in you. If we were in Aladdin I would jump on the carpet." And I still mean it, to this very day.

In summation: My life is magical. I love my dog, I love the shorts I can now wear without feeling ashamed (though I did not realize how many bruises you acquire when you have a 40 pound puppy), I love that I'm beginning my radio job tomorrow, and I love you.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Saga of Sweat.

I don't know how to title these things. But rest assured: it's sweaty here. And I couldn't love it more.

I think you know things are going well when it's your day off, you're still in your semi-jammies (see: the aforementioned bright yellow shorts which, I might add, were originally my father's and therefore probably at least 30 years old but far too hideous to be deemed "vintage") and drinking a pot of coffee and sitting on your back patio with your heat-exhausted dog and you realize you have "Summer of 69" in your head.

And you don't even like Bryan Adams.

So things are good. Things are preposterously good. And I have no idea how that happened but it is a welcome, welcome change.

Work at Ye Olde Censeless continues to trip by. I sit and count. I counted all the way to 1,000 the other day--not in one go, but cumulatively. This is definitely the highest I've ever counted. I suggested to my co-workers that we start counting like The Count from Sesame Street, and they all had a laugh and then probably secretly thought I was very, very weird.

Matthew commiserated with me on this while he was here; he works at the pink hospital where we were both born nigh on two and half decades ago. He's a surgical assistant or something like that--basically he holds people's guts and grosses all of us out because his dinner conversation consists of "So I was holding this colon today..." Anyway--apparently many, if not all, of Matthew's co-workers think he's weird. This is astounding to me, because my brother is probably the least weird person I know. But because he lives in Tulsa, and because he's 25 and not married with two children already, and he doesn't go to church or listen to country music or drive a pick-up (though he says he wants one), he is assuredly a minority. AKA a weirdo.

Which only tells me that I better stay where I am for a while, because if people think Matthew's weird--hoo boy, they're gonna institutionalize me. .

This is beginning to happen at my workplace. Like I've said before, the work is incredibly mundane, and once my coffee kicks in I start chattering. I chatter mainly about my dog, and how if I get another dog in the future I'm going to name it Potato, and how I think "Doctor" is a funny name for a dog, and how I might rename Pinto "Trotsky" because, well, he trots a lot. And also gets the trots. Not lately, thank god.

But I don't think of myself as odd, or at least no more odd than most of the folks I went to college with. It is kind of a reality slap when we're talking about books and I say I'm spending the summer reading Chandler and Chekov and Cheever, and the two-toothed lady with her gray hair piled on her head in a samurai top-knot with a cat sweatshirt on says, "Do you like James Patterson? I like that one lady--Janet Eva--Evan--"


"Yeah, her. She's great."

I haven't read a scrap of either of these authors, but I know their names because they're the brick paperbacks available beside the Orbit and Twizzlers in the check-out line at Wal-Mart.

But I am far too busy trying to keep the count in my head to have an existential meltdown about the futility of my chosen profession. (See above: the welcome, welcome change).

I did have a meltdown the other day, though, when I received some unhappy news during my lunch break, which I spend driving home, running Pinto around the block, delighting in his delight to see me, and then making a sandwich with guacamole that invariable spurts out and stains my dress as I'm eating it on the drive back (the lady at the gas station very kindly did not remark on the green glob of baby shit on my lapel, then handed me a paper towel to clean it up).

As it turns out, the landlord of the house I'm slated to move in to come August is not on board with having two big dogs living there--the first dog being Hank, the boxer, who loves nothing more than hugging and sleeping and very stoically allows my little Pinto to lick his jowls. The situation's still up in the air and I am crossing my fingers and quietly praying that I'll be able to keep Pinto, and I'm asking all of you to do the same. There's just no way I can find a new apartment, furnish it, and still afford to eat--and given all that's gone on this year, I'm not too keen on living alone.

Plus, this house! Pinto and I went on a walk in the neighborhood the other day, and good god, it's amazing. It's a house, for one. It's over 100 years old. It has a porch, and there are sidewalks and churches and big trees and a brick street, and it's within walking distance of the river and downtown and oh, lord, it's something to behold. And I've already dreamt of my room in that house, a room with only what I own (which is books and the stolen papasan chair only), and it's too accessible of a dream to just relinquish.

And I love my dog. I love my dog hideously. No one should adopt a dog because no creature has the right to monopolize somebody's heart like this. But I am extremely fortunate in that I have an immaculate family, and a brother who's visited and run with Pinto on the beach, and who's agreed to foster-uncle my mutt if worst comes to worst. And I've already run through the scenario in my head: if it happens, Pinto and I will have a glorious roadtrip to Oklahoma, and then I'll cry uncontrollably all the way back to the coast.

So all of you readers out there: pray or hope or knock on wood for me. I need to bank some karma on this one.

Two months ago, if I had found this out, it's guaranteed I would have been lying on the couch in a sweaty stupor thinking of escape plans and self-inflicted disasters. It would've undone me. But I don't know if it's the weather or my prescription or just a determined buoyancy in my soul, but I'm hopeful. I'm happy. I'm as much in love with my dog as I ever was.

We had an amazing, amazing day last weekend. We were out in the yard before his suppertime, before I went to see Iron Man 2 (which only confirmed what I already knew--I really love robots and guns and am therefore a 12 year old boy), and there were all these little children in the patio two gates down from me. They're squealing and pointing and saying "Look at the puppy, look at the puppy!" and Pinto's getting feisty and excited.

Next thing I know, Pinto is off his leash and running in circles and chasing sticks and basically exuding pure exuberance, and these little kids are all crowded around me and babbling nonstop and calling Pinto "Coco" and asking if I have any candy and pulling things out of my pockets and lassoing themselves around my legs when Pinto frolics after them. And it's absolutely amazing.

This is what I mean by joy. Everytime we go on a walk and I see someone drive by and smile, it makes me gladder than I could know. When we're downtown and some drunk frat boy bends down and proceeds to let Pinto slobber all over him, it makes me unabashedly happy. When we pass by the retarded woman who takes her staggering walks at the same time we do, her face lights up and Pinto's tail goes turbo and she slurs to me, "He's a good boy."

I've been accused in the past of being a sentimentalist. But I swear, my life makes me one.

So! If you want to see Pinto the Miracle Dog, and tell me if I look any different after losing 32.5 pounds (I KNOW RIGHT SHIT!), come see me. I'm here in this spacious apartment 'til August. Bring your swimsuit and some dollar bills for bars and your darling self, and we'll be all set.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Saga of Papers.

I am a terrible blogger!

But then: who's surprised?

I think I started this blog assuming my day-to-day life would conveniently lump itself into mini-essays, all coherent, all compelling, all, hopefully, comedic. I know I ended up keeping a journal not only to sharpen my memory, as I have a bizarre terror of forgetting, but to make my days meaningful. As if there's some report that needs to be turned in every night to God or your conscience or Obama or whoever, and then it gets approved: "Yes, today was a good day. You have not wasted your time." Then it's stamped and put in an Interdepartmental Envelope and filed off somewhere in the Almighty File Cabinet in the Sky.

And here's what I've learned: That's a really unhelpful way to exist.

Which is probably a roundabout way of saying I think my life has shrunk to very, very small sagas. Like, miniature sagas. Microscopic. Which might not make for very interesting posts.

But here's the other thing I've learned: Happiness is not a war. It's not the C ensus, this monumental decennial undertaking that I'm pretty sure has single-handedly deforested all of Argentina. It's not concentrated meditation and struggle and willpower.

It's not making every day Tolstoy. It's making every day Post-Its. That's all you need. Post-Its.

(I'll be honest, even I don't really know what I'm talking about but I think it's right).


So what have I been doing, inquiring minds want to know! I've been working at the C ensus, where I shuffle and paperclip and holepunch papers. So. Many. Papers. I don't mind, however, because the work is a kindly mix of mind-numbing and challenging because it involves numbers, which, as I think I've indicated before, I am real, real bad at. So while I'm matching AA Listing 4388 with BINDER LABEL 4388 with MAP POUCH 4388 with BLOCK LISTING 4388, arranging them in a nice stack, and holepunching that fucker like it's my job (see what I did there--it is my job), I'm listening to my yearlong backlog of This American Life. Which is great. Except I've run out of them, and I've only been working a week. The hours are long, the walls are taupe, and the muscles in my neck and shoulders feel like a towel wrung dry by the end of the day, but the people are incredible.

You cannot make these people up, they are so genuinely bizarre and wacky and wonderful. Like the lady who shares my desk is a terrible fiddler and lived on a llama farm. And the guy down the hall who is enormous and has the loudest, nasalliest voice ever heard which sends me into hysterics whenever he comes by to shout "HOW WE DOING DOWN HERE GUYS?!" And the 70+ year old man who moves as if he's about 40 and wears snappy paisley shirts and I think has a young son but definitely has skin that is neon pink in all weather. And the undergraduate who calls me "Girl" all the time and wears pointy witch shoes that she always kicks off under her table. And! The best! The old dude who sits in the back and reads books and when I asked him what he was reading--because I am a weird flirt when I'm in my work clothes--he showed me the cover, something all spectral and stylized called "The Path of the Way of the Righteous World and Universe In the Light of Good Days" or something that I assumed was Christian literature.

"Oh," I said. "What's it about?"

And do you know what he said?!


And then he proceeded to show me his copy of The Idiot's Guide to Understanding Einstein.

Do you understand that this man is real!? I didn't make him up! He exists! His name is Richard!

So I kind of adore that side of things, the insane cast of miscreants and oddballs who are working, albeit temporarily, for the government.

Pinto and I went on a hike and got lost in a forest, which was grand. Then we went to a reading and he charmed everyone--or annoyed the hell out of them, I don't know and don't care, ha!--and I read, which went over real well. I've lost about 30 pounds. I'm slated to assume an Editor position for the litmag here, which is exciting. I made a big old thing of stir fry and will never understand why I prefer leftover cold stir fry to good, just-cooked stir fry.

But that's really the most of it. I've got a busy summer that'll be packed with paychecks, partyin', and my papasan chair that I totally scored while driving through the neighborhood (it was on the curb and yes I scrubbed it down before deeming it my throne). My folks are both coming to visit, and hopefully Matthew will be back for a return trip, and OH YEAH I FORGOT I AM GOING TO FLORIDA WITH RIGGS AND THE RIGGS TO RIDE ROLLER COASTERS. No, really, I did forget that. That's what's happening nowadays--I'm more excited to take Pinto on his morning walk (a sweaty, invigorating affair where I wear a pair of bright yellow shorts and look totally awesome) than I am about an actual vacation.

And that, friends, is not such a bad way to be.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Saga of D.

This belated blog post is brought to you entirely by the letter "D." D is a pretty lousy letter, and single-handedly put my college admission in jeopardy once upon a time--thanks, Calculus.

D is for dumped, which I got, and the less said about it the better. D is also for dates, which I'm looking forward to going on--even if they're abysmal, I don't care, so long as there is dinner and some drinking and some dancing and some driving, all of which, you'll notice, begin with D. The whole shitshow definitely ranks up there with other complete, life-recalibrating catastrophes (the car wreck, the cousin debacle of last summer, the whole grad school waiting game, basically anything downright shitty and miserable), but, like those other things, it's over. In the meantime, I've been

Drinking. Ha! And Decorating. Girly (read: shameful) as it is, the minute I found out I was single, I decided it was high time I made this apartment someplace I'll enjoy living in for the next few months. And it's pathetic but also amazing what a new set of curtains will do for you, especially when they are your favorite color and bought so cheaply at Ross (aka Heaven) and match the quilt you are so glad your mother sent with you. Beds are tricky things when it comes to break-ups. I recommend everyone get thee to a home decor store when you find yourself sleeping solo. Do not set fire to previous occupants' belongings--just cram them in the closet, far from sight, and sleep spread out and satisfied. Leave the windows open so you can see the blue sky, because this is North Carolina, after all, where the weather is, well, impeccable.

D is also for dog, as in mine, as in the best little fluffer nutter on the face of the earth. I am in love with my dog. I am in love with my dog to an extent that is somewhat bothersome to me. As in, I kissed my dog on the mouth the other day. I probably should not publicize this fact, but it was so bamboozling to me that I did it, then stood up, realized there was puppy snot all over my face, and said aloud, "I just kissed my dog on the mouth." There's something very childish and instinctual in me when it comes to animals--see also: when Matthew was here, there was a little black cat outside this party we were at, and I just grabbed its tail. I don't know why. Also, when we went to the Serpentarium and saw ALL THE SUPER DEADLY SNAKES, a macaw in the foyer squawked at me--so I squawked back, and then threw my hand over my mouth while Matthew insisted I was a baby. Or all the times at Hamilton when I carried stray cats around--and there were more than a few.

D is also for dogs, as in the rest of Wilmington's. Pinto and I go to the dog park maybe every other day because it's an easy way for him to burn off energy and it makes me happier than I can say. In Vienna, I often went and sat in dog parks though I had no dog (incidentally, I used to want to return to Vienna with the boy I fell in love with there; now I want Pinto and I to go to Vienna, to tromp through the Wienerwald and ride the Strassenbahns and walk everywhere together--and yes, I will probably be speaking to him like a person the whole time). Pinto made friends with a Great Dane the other day, and it was about the best thing I'd ever seen.

D is for diet, which I'm still on, and which Pinto's been helping with in his own little way. We walk a couple miles daily, run up and down the stairs, go on adventures to the ocean--stuff that makes my legs sore. I hadn't been to a meeting in about a month what with having visitors and reconfiguring my life and trying to sort out just about everything, so I had no idea what my progress was. And then, holy shit! I've lost 24 pounds since February! Goddamn! I got a ways to go still, but shit! That's Pinto's weight! I lost a dog!

D is for deactivate, which I did with this blog, and which I did with Facebook. It's pretty sad to me that taking an internet hiatus was such a big personal step, but I think it was a smart move. I missed this, though. Didn't miss my incessant facebook stalking, but I think I've got it under control. And, as Karli pointed out, how will people show me funny Youtube videos without Facebook? Noodles on my back, anyone?

D is also for done, as in me and my first year of graduate school. Yikes. What the damn? How did that happen?

D is also for darlings, my friends both here and away. Karlicakes came to see me, and though it was accidentally the worst-timed visit ever (shitty weather, shitty situation), we had a hell of a time. We went on our own pub crawl because you can do that in Wilmington and ate some fine Thai food and went and walked on the beach and she sang at me and then we drank Cheerwine. It was awesome, and it's gonna happen again! Matthew also visited, and I don't think I've laughed that hard in months, maybe years. We subsisted singularly on oysters and beer and a beef jerky baton that he kept poking me in the eye with while I was driving so I threw it out the window. We had an extended discussion about where we ate some soup. We made a lot of goofy faces at one another, and we took Pinto to the beach, and overall we had a damn fine time. And everybody here's been really good to me, especially forgiving when I say I'd like to come over at 1 in the morning and drink some beer, fixing strawberry shortcake and arranging picnics at the lake, basically putting up with me in the midst of all this. It's nicer than I can say, knowing I'm not really alone. Lonely, maybe, but that's familiar, that's a state of mind and not a state of being. These are things I'm learning.

And, last but not least, D is for depressed. Surprise! No, not at all. I think it's been about a decade in the making, but yes, friends, fellows, farmers and freeloaders, I'm certifiably melancholy. This does not mean I'm different; it does not mean I'm in danger. All it means is what I've suspected for a long, long time--that I am expert at making myself unhappy, that I think in patterns that are unhealthy, and that, most importantly, I'm doing something about it. It's a lot like weight loss--I developed a lot of bad habits when it comes to food, and now I'm working to fix them. Likewise, I developed a lot of mentally bad habits, and now I'm acknowledging them and taking steps to fix them. I'm not out the woods yet, nor do I think I ever will be, but at least it's something I know and can speak about openly, instead of hiding it all away and beating myself up about it. But it's also not something I'm going to advertise, haha. That's another aspect of my odd psychology--I arbitrarily want to keep things secret for no reason. Like the fact that I wrote a book, which I did, but you won't hear it from me--and it's not modesty or humility so much as irrational paranoia. Anyway. So here it is on the internet for all to see and behold and make their own conclusions out of. High five!

Pinto is asleep on the floor and the sun is shining and my job starts tomorrow. There's the news from my spot in the world, which I'm slowly starting to appreciate more and more.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Saga of Pinto.

Will this blog be temporarily devoted to my new dog? Probably. I'm sure it'll lift, though, as soon as something more monumental than having a fussy, cuddly, insane little chow mutt living in my kitchen happens. See also: North Carolina springtime, which my bones tell me is imminent, or the gift of gainful employment descends, or one of my pieces gets accepted, or a hurricane hits or something.

As of thirty minutes from right now, Pinto will have been a part of our lives for one solid week.

And Jesus H, what a week.

When I decided I wanted a dog, really, I wanted a dog--I wanted Penny, my family dog in Tulsa, who loves nothing more than spending all morning on my lap while I am reading, who will expend what little energy she has left chasing the cat (needing no more than someone, usually my dad, going "BRRRAWWWWR" to make her run endless laps around the house), who dances for her dinner.

Pinto, however, is not Penny. He is also not a dog. He is a puppy.

More specifically, he is a little furry adorable hellbeast monster baby.

I think we have Pinto for all of two hours, spent mainly with him sleeping on our laps, when we decide to give him some alone time and he unleashes the scream. Really. It's a scream. It escalates from whimpers to a howl to this garbled yelp and finally, finally, there's the scream--it will make you jump. It will make you worry. It will make you paranoid that someone in the apartment complex will hear, and suspect, and call the cops because clearly a small child is being brutally tortured over in that couple's place, saying I never liked the looks of those two, anyway, he's so much taller than she is and they never seem to leave their house--I think they might be drug dealers or terrorists or graduate students or something dangerous like that.

At first, we laugh at the scream, because it is such a disproportionately hideous and enormous noise emitting from something so small and sweet-looking. We have brushed up on all the Dog Whisperer tactics, but still, we go to consult The Book of Cesar, and he tells us: Your puppy will whine. You must ignore it.

So we do. Or at least, we try to.

But it's three days later and we are low on sleep and energy and Pinto's adorableness is wearing off, or at least becoming familiar, and suddenly the scream starts up while we're not with him and keeps going and keeps going and keeps going and we both lose it and isolate ourselves and pretty much have ourselves a go-to-pieces.

I should add, though, that Pinto's healthy, and everyone I've consulted--Cesar Milan, Dog Godmother Katherine Owner of Hank, my parents, Rob's parents, every idiotic forum on the entirety of the internet--has agreed that puppy yowling is merely the dog's way of expressing simple fear and loneliness. And I hate to say it, but Pinto, buddy, we all get scared. We all get lonely. I know you're just a puppy, but I'm 23 and I feel like making that noise sometimes (instead I go to bars--if there were such a thing as a puppy bar, lord knows we'd take you).

Point being, I showed up to school with bags under my eyes and a whole host of puppy scratches lining my arms like self-mutilations, and everyone's asking, "How's Pinto? How's the puppy?" and I honestly can't hear them because the echoes of his little puppy hollers are still ringing in my ears.

But then!

The next day, we'd decided to ignore Pinto's morning yelps. These, to me, are excusable yelps--he's been in his crate all night, he probably needs to pee pretty badly--so we've been answering them, taking him outside at 6 in the morning, then spending a very bleary hour entertaining him in the kitchen so he will hopefully zonk out and allow us to get another hour of shut-eye. This hadn't been working too well, making both of us zombies, making Pinto feel neglected--so we'd decided, maybe he can hold it til 8. Then we can all be functioning human beings, or dogs, depending on who's who.

And what do you know, the little fucker did it. Rob goes downstairs when all is quiet, both of us resolutely cramming the pillows over our heads when he had his 4 a.m. round of whining, his 6 a.m. follow-up (the yelping only lasts 20 minutes at most, but still), and there is tiny sleepy Pinto, no accident, no aggression, ready to go.

Yes, it's been tough. Yes, my mother thinks we should rename her "grandpuppy" (don't get me started) Marley, in honor of that idiotic little book that was made into a shitty rom-com. Yes, I'm apprehensive, and yes, I don't sleep well at nights, not because I'm not exhausted, but because I'm terrified he's going to contract Parvo or choke on his bone or just be miserable, and that I'm not doing a very good job, and I'm pretty lousy at this, and well, hell, this has all just gone wrong, hasn't it.

But I remember that Pinto could still be in that field where he was found, shivering in the rain, or in the groddy foster house where we picked him up, or he could be starving or sick or homeless or dead. So being raised by two fairly incompetent twenty-somethings with short tempers but infinite affection to dish out might be bad, but it could be a lot worse. As Rob says, "I have to keep reminding myself--puppies don't hold grudges. Puppies don't hold grudges."

And it's been great for me, too--the past week I think has been the first where I haven't spent 80% of it feeling sorry for myself, or feeling itchy and discontent, or feeling generally out-of-sorts. I did have a spell the Day of the Perpetual Scream, but it passed pretty quick. Moreover, I've been more productive this week than I have all semester, because my time's suddenly become worthwhile--when Pinto's napping, fuck! It's time to do something! Quick, before he stirs! To the keyboard! To the drafts! To work!

So it's been up and down in turns, but puppy-having is finally settling into some form of constancy--he only fusses when we leave the room sometimes, not all the time. He sleeps the night through and will happily bed down in his crate. He still chews the shit out of my pants legs, but he hasn't attacked my arms in days. It's going to be a long, long journey, I know, but I have foretelling dreams starring me and a big yellow dog, where we are driving across the Midwest on an adventure, and we are throwing amazing Frisbees, and then Pinto talks to me and I realize I'm sleeping. I'm hopeful, to say the least, but damn, wow, this has been an experience.

And truthfully? After puppy-rearing--puppies who bite you, and destroy things, and who are an entirely different species and whose faces bear no expression whatsoever (he's a chow-mix, aka the most inscrutable dog in the universe), I'm pretty sure baby-having is going to be a cinch.