dog’s life

The dog lived dangerously all weekend.

She barked at every shadow and breeze and chased every round thing to the ends of her leash and back again.  She chose to pee in front of the WARNING signs near the railroad tracks, so close that we both swayed with the rush of wild hot air from passing trains, and she practically pooped in the road, making me straddle the curb to clean up after her while drivers honked and swerved.

So it was no surprise to me when, on Sunday evening, the dog collapsed in a fuzzy heap on her dog bed – dog tired, as it were.

Note to world #110

Sometimes things come into her brain and stick there. So he said “blah blah blah” and “wa wa wa” and the only bit she remembered was this:

“There is a point at which having perspective can be disenfranchising. For example, always finding the silver lining by thinking that things could be worse instead of searching for the upside by trying to make things better.”

She scurried to a quiet place in the big echo-filled conference center to think through that one fragment and found herself in a toilet stall. While she pretended to be using the toilet, she pondered what his statement might mean for her. What if maybe it meant that she should stop being happy at the simple fact that she wasn’t dead – and actually reclaim her existence by living.

Right. What if.

She looked around at the blank stall walls and sighed heavily. It occurred to her that this revelation probably meant she would also need to stop hiding in bathrooms.

lame duck

She sat in her box,
Small and dimly lit,
Caged by wooden laminate.

She looked out at the world
Through the window,
The one that is nailed shut.

Sometimes people came by
To poke at her inside
Of her box.

And sometimes
She sat in her box,
Quietly irrelevant.

And sometimes
She sat in her box,
Abruptly erupting.

Sometimes people came by
To look at her inside
The world that is her office.

Note to world #334

She did not want to be predictable this time.

She wanted to protest against her very nature by doing something

d i f f e r e n t

something out of the ordinary and maybe even a little reckless. But just a little bit reckless. Because let’s face it, she was actually the kind of person who needed to be in control, even of her own recklessness.

Note to world #3495

She wasn’t sure what to do now that she had completely rubbed her nose off and scratched her eyes out during this allergy season.

Her daughter suggested a carrot and two pieces of coal but she fancied two bright red cherries and a gnarly stick. That seemed more appropriate for summer anyway.

Note to world #894

It was the official beginning of summer and the first really nice weekend of the year. She felt happy and hopeful and she bought a giant bag of marshmallows in anticipation of summer evenings around the fire. After all, summer wasn’t complete without at least one goopy toasty marshmallow stuck to her fingers and laced through her hair.

Note to world #575

She made her children waffles or pancakes at least once every weekend. And because she was not always in front of her grocery situation, she nearly always made them using whatever was in the house – so much so that her older daughter had started calling it the “surprise breakfast” and a game was made out of guessing the mystery ingredient.

She had made pancakes and waffles without eggs, without milk, with made-up buttermilk, without flour or with whole wheat flour – and with extra things too, like cinnamon or sugar or a bit of leftover cornmeal or sour cream.

Interestingly, as long as she used generous amounts of chocolate chips, the girls tolerated virtually all of these odd combinations. If only she could do that with dinners, too.

Note to world #8302

The dog has the habit of placing her gnawed up bones right in the middle of every room, in exactly the spot where I might go walking through. I swear she spends hours trotting around the house, observing our traffic patterns and plotting out her bone placement.

The path to the bathroom in the middle of every night is especially treacherous – a veritable no man’s land – and becomes the scene of many stubbed toes, bruised tender arches and sudden midnight outbursts of cursing. MYtoes, feet and cursing, most specifically.

After all, the dog wants to make sure I know that she is really in charge.


I have headaches, a decade’s worth of them.  Blinding, debilitating. When they come, I cannot think.

In previous years, I would suffer through these bouts of excruciating pain and just work harder. Because of course the best pain relief was to bury myself in another kind of distracting pain, namely that of my previously miserable work existence.  I would find a small tunnel inside my head in which I would be able to think and work clearly enough to appear competent to those around me and muddle through – and apparently, it helped to be working mostly with other highly dysfunctional, discontented, foul mouthed people.

Then, I dunno, I switched jobs and maybe I also just got really worn down by life, because more recently I can no longer take the pain and just keep moving through my little tunnel of clarity. Now, I need to lay down and be still — two concepts that do not mesh well with me.  On these days, there is no part of my mind that can function and my entire body becomes a useless heavy appendage lolling around.  I roll around in agony for a good 12 hour stretch. My children look worried and my colleagues and friends check in with real live phone calls to make sure I haven’t died when I do not instantly reply to texts and email messages.

So, in this, my tenth year of the decade of abhorrent pain, I finally decided to see a doctor.  The headaches were now seriously cramping my plans and interfering with the modicum of pleasure I derive from life – and I just can’t tolerate that.  It had been one thing to have a day of pain when I was still able to function.  But this lying around in bed helplessly for an entire day was no good.

My doctor took a fancy but pointless picture of my brain and then referred me to a neurologist.

The neurologist was a soft spoken Chinese man who appears to take animals as patients too, for there was the soft clucking sound of a chicken coming from the exam room next to mine. The waiting room itself was a hodge podge of crusty, randomly assembled chairs and old magazines. Dour air was circulated by an old fan that emitted a husky low zum with each rotation.  Fading health posters of the human skeleton hung crookedly from the dirty gray walls and various yellowed handwritten signs admonished patients to pay for services rendered.

In the exam room, he asked me a whole series of questions, none of which seemed related to actual headaches.  I answered all of his questions, including when he asked whether I was happy — which really made me want to cry, though I laughed instead.  After the end of the questions, he advised me to take a mixture of medicines at the first sign of a headache and in between headaches, to breathe deeply and meditate often.  He also suggested I keep a journal about my headaches, including my feelings about them.

He told me to come back in three months – and I will, because I like him and his quirky waiting room where I guess I will sit among chickens again and contemplate my feelings about headaches from journal entries.