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.