Since I became aware of blogs, I’ve had one. Always anonymous because I had guck, and I wanted to be free to splatter that guck any way I wished to fling it.
I can’t do that freely anymore. I’m real now, accountable for my whines and prejudices and selfishness.
But just this once…I’m just gonna say screw it. I am regressing and I’m taking you with me if you choose to come. Here comes the splatter.
Brenda is 50ish, dressed in men’s clothes but with pretty grey hair loose down her back. On the phone she is quiet and speaks with a flat-toned sincerity that comes off wary, even unfriendly.
But this is the fourth lesson she’s spent with Elke, and she is not unfriendly. She is the antithesis of unfriendly. She just prefers dogs.
I should be the one holding the leash, walking her back and forth in the tiny reception area, shoving bits of chicken in her snout every time she makes eye contact with me. Using her new purple heavy duty nylon lead with matching chokey collar. It’s not called a chokey coller. And from the top it looks just like a regular “I’m not a monster dog-mom’ pretty purple collar. It’s just the underside that’s metal chain noose, ready to constrict if the dog pulls against it.
But Elke has to stop pulling, leaping, plowing down, freaking the fuck OUT. Not a drop of aggression in that doe-eyed creature. Just excitement she can’t control. It’s my job to teach her, mine alone. I’m the pack leader. She forgets this frequently.
She can forget this easy because she is stronger than me. I am a female of mighty heft and squat German robustness. Well, I guess she is also these things. But I weigh four times what she does! And god help me if another dog walks into view and I’m only holding that leash with one sore arm and chapped hand…I’ll be on my bountiful ass.
She will meet her crunching end in our rainslick intersection, prancing round the four corners in brainless joy at the open air, sniffing the pee of a hundred better behaved dogs that have walked by, not fearing any one of a dozens of sleek steel-blue mom vans or “I’m not really living in the suburbs I actually snowboard” black trucks that skid through the four-way stop.
As I said, I should be doing the hands on training. But it took everything I had just to get to the kennel today, and I have taken the only chair in the training era and am drifting off.
Because TIMING, goddamit.
I need to get Jack checked for developmental disorders and autism, really checked. He’s five now but presents around three. At the big hospital metropolis on the hill in Portland. The one where Mom died. Which is where I may need to go to find out if must wear the Scarlet F of fat-induced sleep apnea, which comes in the form of a facemask that shoves oxygen down your fat choked throat. Hardly fair…I haven’t gained weight in years. But when I begin to drift away I can feel something slapping closed in my throat, and the snore that follows it a plea for air. I’m so sick of being tired.
My husband asked me how short LE’s school week was because of conferences next week. I looked at him over the puffy bags of my eyes like the words he’d spoken had been in the wrong order…no, the very letters misplaced. “Yads tex keek refcon? Cyper day?” What…what the hell are you saying to me?
All these things are difficult for me to handle when done in conjunction with a life devoted to watching weird cartoons and playing Candy Crush (which is a frickin’ SCAM of a game that I can’t stop playing. How DARE they only give me five lives at a time??? And I have never hit that frickin’ jackpot on the wheel. )
But coupled with the Big One…
My daughter, who couldn’t attend dog training with me today because she was whizzing around the house in underpants and roller skates, using straws and Popsicle sticks trying to recreate pranks she learned on YouTube when it was time to go, counted it down for me.
“It’s leap year…so that’s 29 days in February. Plus 8 days now. So…your book is due in 37 days!”
Book. The BOOK. My life. My love. Light of my Life, Fire of my Brain. The Book.
Again…”What…what the hell are you saying to me? That can’t be right! I’ve worked at a good steady clip since signing the contracts in October. My time can’t be running out. I haven’t written the Hysteria chapter. I think Masturbation may need it’s own chapter altogether. What about the Comstock Act…where does that go? WHAT ABOUT THE COMSTOCK ACT???”
“Think of it as a academic paper like you did in college,” one friend offered.
“Yeah, I half-assed all those. This has to be GOOD. This has to be…”shake the nation with laughter and fascinate their curiosity” GOOD. This has to be millions, literal millions of people exchanging their money so they can read my take on the evolution of bidets vs. toilet paper at their leisure. I’m not just pounding out the info in tidy order. I’m doing that…then finding free images to augment it, and then hand painting every word in the shade called, “Hilarious.” It’s a proprietary mix and seldom used do to it’s volatile ingredients.
And i just keep thinking back to that one afternoon in New York. I had, as I must often due to survive and function, switched off a chunk of my brain. Otherwise I would be so overwhelmed by the…fricking Manhattan with my agent and Fashion Week in the park and David Beckham on a jumbo tron and taxis everywhere just like in the show “Taxi” I watched every night when I was six up in our little house in the mountains. All that was *blip*, off the screen. ON my screen was, “Lamb kabobs with fig sauce! That’s just NUTS! I wonder what’s for dessert. I love my new jacket. I look like I know what’s what in this jacket, yo.”
So the agreed upon time line between (brilliant, kind, AMBITIOUS) agent and editor of four months was basically met with, “Do de do do do….. ONE…singular sensation…and you can for-get…the rest….ba dum dum” showtunes in my damn head. And the verbal response of “Yeah. Heck, two months. Whatever. I ain’t got a lot going on.” Which was true but turned out not to affect my ability to write fast and well.
Also I have become isolated. And…weirdly increasingly sure that I may be a total dumpter fire of a human who everyone hates. Annoying. Awkward. Secretly disliked. Avoided and excluded.
I was at the house of my friend, dog-lover, master-chef and classically trained soprano Jane-Anne. I noticed their vinyl collection and got excited. I said, referring to her and her husband “I know you guys probably hear music totally different than I do, my collection is just a mess compared to yours…half of them I buy for the jackets.”
Jane-Anne, who is as blunt as I am though somehow infinitely more classy, asked, “How do you know how we hear music? Why would you assume we hear it any different than you? You make too many assumptions.”
No. I extrapolate. I observe the presented information and draw the best possible conclusion.
I counted on my fingers, voice rising. “Why do I assume that??? Are you serious? Because HE’S in a band, YOU’RE a classically trained musician, I can’t even guess how many instruments you both play, and I imagine you can ever READ MUSIC and perhaps took a class or two about it in college! Where as I on the other hand bought a Tijuana Brass album solely cuz the 1960s lady on the cover was covered in whipped cream. THAT’S how I chose MY music.”
She laughed, but it stuck with me. I already know I annoy people by complimenting them. (And while i’m at it, a general greeting to anyone who hates my compliments. I mean Jesus, I know you’re an absolute piece of human wreckage, too…we all are…but I see your awesomeness and i want you to know I see it. I get excited by the things you can do so well, especially when it’s stuff I can’t do well. So shut up and take it, Dork. And if you’d like balance I can also tell you that you have no respect for other people’s schedules, lack gumption, have a chip on your shoulder, are way too controlling, have severe avoidance problems, and a poorly hidden superiority complex that everyone who has ever taken Psych 101 or watched Dr. Phil knows is just a cover up for self-loathing. BUT I FIGURE YOU ALREADY KNOW THAT and don’t need a friend to volunteer it. Plus I don’t CARE that you’re that way. You’re you. I like you. So let me be weird and LIKE me back. DORK.)
Oh lordy lordy lordy friends. There is the whole mess. It just kept coming. It had to come out like an exploding nose pimple. I’m a wreck. I’m a mess. I’m composted and bled white. I lack. I failed. I lost. I’m sliding down the mud to the drop off laughing the whole way down. I’m Therese.