Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Not Much of a Girlfriend

When I think of my dog, I think of that Supertramp song that goes, "Don't you look at my girlfriend, she's the only one I got.../Not much a girlfriend, I never seem to get a lot.."

She's not much of a dog, but she's the only one I got.

I picked her up at the Humane Society a year ago, because she was a collie, like our last dog, and she looked so pitiful and friendless. How was I to know that that is her natural state? I thought she was depressed about being in jail - turns out she's just prone to depression and delusions of persecution by her captors. By adopting her into our home, we weren't releasing her from prison, but merely changing the prison decor. We are now the captors, planning her slow and painful torture, or maybe a more swift and vicious end - she can never be sure. That she has escaped such a fate so far doesn't seem to sway her opinion that someday we will inevitably turn on her.

I know what you're saying: "Oh, poor thing, she was probably beaten by some former owner." That's what I thought too, at first. But many, many dogs who have had unfortunate experiences with evil humans have grown to love their new, nicer human caretakers. This one will not be swayed. Even further proof that she has not turned her back on the human race: she loves everyone else she meets. She wags her tail at everyone who comes to the door, and tries to sneak out with them when they go. I promise we have not mistreated this dog any more than by giving her a bath (which is when her Streep-like acting ability really shines, as she whines in agony at the soapy water torture she is required to endure practically monthly).

These days, her routine goes something like this:

6:30 - 7:30 a.m.: Stay motionless in bed, hoping that my captors will forget about me today. Oh, how I hate mornings.

7:30 a.m.: Eat breakfast, now that my captors have finally capitulated to my demands for a mixture of dry AND canned food. Spit out the pill that keeps me from leaking urine while I sleep.

8:00 - 8:20 a.m.: The female captor requires me to exercise outside, even during periods of rain. I may see other dogs and humans, but am not allowed to properly smell them, as I am leashed to my captor by a diabolically ingenious collar-and-leather-strap device. I see other dogs in the same plight, and I weep for us. I carefully choose a popular-smelling place and deposit my poo as a signal of my whereabouts, but she picks it up and puts it in a bag. I am foiled again. However, sometimes if I can find something really foul to eat, my poo comes out too runny for proper scooping, and I rejoice.

8:20 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.: Sleep on my bed. I just wish my captors would keep it down. It's difficult to sleep sometimes with the constant comings and goings.

6:00 p.m.: More dry food with just enough canned food to make it palatable. I mean, really. It's not like they are hard-up for money. I retaliate by spitting out my pill again.

6:10 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.: Sleep on my bed and listen for after-dinner snacks.

8:30 p.m.: The female captor is eating popcorn. It's truly vile, but so much better than my "food," that I submit to the indignity of sitting and looking desperate so that I may be thrown a few pieces. If I look pathetic enough, I may be given a chew snack. Yes, a chew snack! A bright moment in an otherwise gloomy day. But once it is gone, I look around in grief, wondering where it went - did I really eat it so fast? It is gone and I feel bereft, like I have nothing left to live for. I hate myself. Humiliation exhausts me. I must rest.

9:00 p.m - 10:30 p.m.: Sleep on my bed.

10:30 p.m.: I am forced by my captors out into the gated exercise yard in the back. I believe they wish me to urinate so that I might leak less during the night. I would rather not urinate on command. I refuse and request re-entry. They pretend to ignore me while they walk around swishing a stick against their teeth. I'm not sure what pleasure they gain from this procedure. They don't seem to be chewing the stick...but I digress. I am forced to stand at the door, again looking desperate, until they concede that they have failed again to command my bladder activity, and I am allowed to go back to bed.

10:35 p.m. until morning: Sleep on by bed. Oh, how I hate mornings.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas with Mrs. Scrooge

It was going to be a bummer of a Christmas anyway with Dean, our fun son, gone (luckily, we only have one son, so I don't have to worry about hurting the feelings of our boring son by saying that) so we agreed to host our crazy Aunt, let's call her Olive (since her body type is 100% Olive Oyl), for Christmas dinner.

A quick catch-up-to-speed on Aunt Olive: she has worn out stoves, not by cooking too much, but by cleaning them too much. When she has a bowl of cereal in the morning, she cleans her toaster. And her coffee maker. And her stove. And all the counters. And the top of her refrigerator. We have seen her vacuum the mattress after someone has stayed the night. Also, she thinks the squirrels will starve if she doesn't feed them. Shelled nuts. A variety pack of walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans and peanuts. Sorted by variety. In bowls she cleans every night. She believes everything she hears on right-wing talk radio shows. She believes that the government wastes too much of her tax money, although she is not required to pay any taxes any more.

So instead of Christmas dinner being a warm time to gather around the table and share a good-n-plenty meal, it becomes a bit of an ordeal: to change the subject when it wanders into territory that could incite a high-pitched rant sure to embarrass or insult someone or someone's race or nationality, to ignore odd random cranky asides, and to repeat things that she didn't catch the first time with her failing hearing. It's kind of like having Christmas with Scrooge, before he got scared straight.

When we were younger and more fragile, and Aunt Olive was younger, and although eccentric, still basically competent and in control of all her faculties, the barbed comments and mean attitude were much more hurtful and the concern about who she might offend next more nerve-racking. Now that she's old and doddering, it's certainly not charming, but it's definitely more harmless. Unfortunately, my mother carries the memory of those family dinners past more close to her nerves, and the anticipation of her visit is actually more worrisome for her than the actual experience warrants. Now although she is still the same mean whiny lady, it is muffled quite a bit by her unsteady gait, her failing hearing, her moments of confusion, and her frequent episodes of forgetting everyday words, like "napkin," or "duck."

I think the days of dreading Aunt Olive's visits can be, if not over, at least downgraded to yellow alert. Today's Christmas dinner was, if not one for the personal memory book, at least a mostly pleasant afternoon with Mom and Dad and Aunt Olive, who, while still whining heartily, also thankfully downed more turkey, dressing, and jello salad than anyone.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

New Car, Old Anxieties

Okay, so my dashboard lights go out on my 9-year-old car one day. My nine-year old car that's all paid for and only has 46K miles. I think, gosh, that's a bit annoying. I'll tell Drew, my husband, and he'll arrange to fix it. After all, I've had the car for so many years and this is the first thing that has ever gone wrong. It could be worse.

I should have known that he would take the dashboard light issue as an omen of doom. You know what they say ("they" being guys who lust after a new car) -- once one thing breaks, you're in for a string of mechanical failures until you're left with just a pile of broken parts resembling something from The Grapes of Wrath and then, how can you sell it? After all, it's been five years since he has had to haggle with a car salesperson and he was beginning to get a little itchy. You know, men are pretty uncomplicated creatures, but why they love haggling with car salespeople is a bit of a puzzler. All I can imagine is that it is one way they have left to feel like they must do battle with the bad guys (car salesperson) to win the prize (new car). And you get a shiny new car out of it! It's a day of fun and games to a guy, but I would rather have my arm hairs pulled out one by one. In this case, we teamed up with a friend who was looking for the same kind of car, and if possible, enjoyed the haggling process even more than Drew. It turns out that he did all of the haggling (spent the better part of the day working on the best price possible), and all we had to do was show up and sign papers. I think Drew would have to admit that even though he got a good price, he feels a little cheated by missing out on the battle. It makes me wonder if Saturn, where the big selling point is no haggling, does better with female car shoppers...


I have a new car. It's shiny and big, with room for passengers, my dog, a bicycle, you name it. It's automatic, the foot pedals come up to meet my feet (which have the misfortune of being positioned on the end of some rather short legs), and the seat sits way up to give me a view of portions of the road that I only assumed were there before. This is all great, right? I don't know. I feel like I'm zipping around town in one of those electric wheelchairs that are all the rage at the retirement home. I don't have to do any work anymore. In my old car, a small, low-slung, sporty model, I had to spend a lot of effort shifting, looking up for danger (it was like being a fourth grader negotiating the hallways of a high school -- you have to look up to keep from being run over, but sometimes if you are fast enough you can squirt in between the legs of some of the larger kids to get to where you are going), keeping my drink from spilling because nothing fit in the cupholder, and then park and get up out of it, which required a sort of squat-thrusting motion with a twist thrown in. Now everything seems to be done for me and I feel, well, at loose ends. Like I should be doing something, but there is nothing left to do but gaze with disdain at the older, much less attractive, cars around me. Somehow I feel like this car is meant for larger, rounder, more suburban people. I have the feeling that my butt is getting bigger just sitting in there doing nothing. I guess the thing to ask myself is, do I want my old car back? Nah.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Things I Know

Things I Know.

  1. Chocolate and wine make life taste better.
  2. There are naturally lazy people and naturally busy people (who are vastly outnumbered). I'm a naturally lazy person.
  3. There are naturally lazy dogs and naturally busy dogs (who vastly outnumber the lazy ones). My dog is naturally lazy.
  4. There is only one type of cat (do I have to tell you which type?).
  5. There are people-lovers and there are hermits. I'm a hermit.
  6. Most dogs are people-lovers. Most cats are hermits.
  7. There is no accounting for musical taste.
  8. Penguins are funny.
  9. Bears are the cutest dangerous animal.
  10. It's better to work for someone who is smarter than you.
  11. It's better if your clergy person knows more about the Bible/Koran/Torah/Tao Te Ching/Baghavad Ghita/works of L. Ron Hubbard than you do.
  12. Reading is better than watching TV, but watching TV is easier, and since I am a naturally lazy person, I spend more time watching TV.

That's all the wisdom I can spare today, and all that you should try to soak in.

Monday, December 13, 2004

All I Wanted to Do was Make a Pithy Comment

Long, rambling rants are not my thing. I'm more into pithy comments, which was how I came to have my own blog. I was just wanting to spray a little wit (as out of a small pump bottle, such as those used to clean eyeglasses) onto my son's blog (hard to compete with a funny writer with better material, so pithy comments are the way to go in such situations), and found myself signing up for my own blog. Now I feel a lot of pressure to make it worth the server space. Will I have enough brain squeezings to fill a blog? What's the column inch minimum? I still have a little deadline angst left from my very short stint as a reporter (hard to keep up appearances as a competent reporter when one has a debilitating fear of the telephone). If this complicates my life enough to cause hair loss, can I legally quit, or do I need a note from my doctor? These questions are still unanswered, but yet I bravely type on. Stay tuned. Or not.
(Hey, you know that "blog" is a misspelling in the spell check?)