So This Just Happened…

I took Wensleydale (my Yorkshire terrier) out for a walk just now.  I was just home from work and he was just up from a long day of napping.  We got to my next door neighbor’s house and he squatted to drop a turd.  “This will be a short walk,” I thought as I spooled a sack off of the roll of blue poop bags I keep in my coat pocket at all times.

Just then, Wensley barked and before I could turn he had slipped out of his harness (a very secure garment that fastens with wide strips of Velcro over both his chest and stomach, but when there is a will, dot dot dot) and he was running into the street.

Luckily, I live in a pretty lazy neighborhood.  But this is the time of day when everyone is coming home from work.  It is also the time of day where we lose the light very quickly.  I was already straining to see where the turd was located when all of this happened.

Wensley had taken off after a college student who was on a bicycle, taking his poodle mix for a run.  The student stopped the bicycle to keep from hitting Wensley, who stopped to sniff poodle. I jogged over.  “This was a short lived escape,” I thought.  Why do I bother with internal dialogue?  I’m always wrong.  I should constantly be thinking the phrase, “Let’s see what happens next.” And nothing else.

The student started riding again and Wensley took off across the street where a woman and her elementary school aged daughter were walking up the sidewalk.  He sniffed at them but before they could catch him he took off after the bicycle again.  After two and a half more zig zags back and forth across the street – me just too far behind the dog to catch him and trailing strip of blue bags behind me like a wind sock – Wensley finally ran to the little girl and she caught him.

“Thank you, thank you thank you…” I was saying to her and her mother both as I scooped the dog up in my arms.

Her mother gave the little girl a nudge in the armpit.

“Would you like to buy some Girl Scout Cookies?” the little girl asked.

“I’ll take four boxes,” I said, without a fraction of a pause.

Heed my story, little girls of the world! Never has a better sale been sold. If she had a wagon of boxes instead of a sign up sheet I would have bought them all.

In truth, I am feeling a little cheap for only buying four, but it is January and I’m still committed to better fitting pants.

In case you are wondering, I went back and found the turd.  And Wensley is home and safe.  I’m just not speaking to him at the moment.

Because the First One was Grand, But Not an Opening?

This sign is from the biker bar that my friend Dan and I like to frequent. We love it because we don’t remotely fit in there and that amuses us. We have a goal to get in the good graces of the bartender, a mostly kind and bear shaped man who is appropriately nick-named “Baloo.”

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It occurred to me, after seeing this sign, to volunteer my proofreading services. “Somehow,” I decided, “I doubt that will ingratiate me to the bikers.”

Oh well. I’ll think of something.

Query Letters are Hard

I’m drafting a query letter to send to writing agents in an attempt to seduce them into asking for the full manuscript of my book. It may be the most difficult thing I have ever tried to do. It is definitely the most difficult 300 words I have ever written.

I’m really hung up on getting the voice right. I want to be authentic, obviously. But I’m selling a collection of humorous essays. The letter MUST be funny. But it is also a business letter. It MUST be professional so that they take me seriously. Here is an example of a sentence that is giving me some aggravation. I think it’s funny. The editor of my dreams should find it funny. It is NOT however professional, and I am therefore irresolute.

“I work in pharmaceuticals professionally and write recreationally, but I am working toward making a permanent transition wherein I would write professionally and do pharmaceuticals recreationally.”

See what I mean?

I’m in a no-win situation.

I have no more to say about the matter; I just needed to vent some frustration. And if there are writers out there who might have some advice, I’m all eyes. (Because it’s a blog and you would be writing back and I would read your comments… never mind.)

This is How My Mind Works

This is a text I sent my sister over the weekend.

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Now you are probably wondering, “okay, but why DO you have a finger puppet in the drawer of the nightstand?  Why do you have a finger puppet AT ALL?”

Good questions.

Bravo, Daddy-O

I went out for dinner with a friend the other night and as we waiting to get on the list for a table, I noticed the family in line in front of us. It was a chilly night and they were all still bundled up. There is something so cute about kids in winter hats.

While we waited, one of the younger kids (all were grade school aged) tugged on his dad’s coat and the man bent down so that his son could whisper in his ear.

“What was that?”

“Pst ssssp pss pss.”

“Are we playing ‘restaurant’ in a restaurant?”

“Pst pst.”

“Yes, buddy, we are. We are playing the restaurant game at a restaurant. It’s very meta.”

In my completely inexperienced-childless-spinster opinion, this man is dadding correctly. First of all, I love the idea of the restaurant game, which I assume involves training the kids how to act in a restaurant in preparation for moments such as these, where the family goes out for Indian on a Tuesday. Because that’s awesome.

Also, how adorable is it that he used the word “meta” in a conversation with six year old. We don’t talk down to kids in my family, and I think that this is the way it should be done (please review above statement about my being childless and having no right to any opinion whatsoever). Not to teach them about brainy words or academic concepts, per se. Just to expose them to those things. Challenge them and they’ll pick up on what it all means sooner or later.

I once told the twins to stop being willfully obtuse. They were five at the time. “What does that mean?” my nephew asked.

“It’s the thing you are doing where you are pretending not to know what I am talking about. And it is obnoxious.”

Then they carried on being willfully obtuse about being willfully obtuse. Come to think of it, that was pretty “meta,” too. Wish I would have thought of it at the time. I would have pointed it out to them.

Hiber Nation

There is a big problem with making New Year’s resolutions in January. January is the most difficult month of all to make any changes whatsoever. In fact, January is the most difficult month to just manage all the status quo stuff. January is the month that I want to find a nice dark cave, make a bed out of dirt, sticks and the bones of small mammals, and sleep until I no longer have any fat or muscle mass to sustain me.

Get to the gym, you say?

Fuck you.

Why don’t we make New Year’s resolutions in the spring? Spring, when the coats start to go back into the closets and the air starts to smell like thawing dirt and sex once more seems like a possibility? When the threat of bikini season looms on the not so distant horizon? Spring is when I can consider actively burning calories and eating naught but fruits and grains.

January, though…

I did so well last week. I lit a small fire under my butt and I rode it through Sunday. Then yesterday I had pizza for lunch. And then again for dinner. And then I went to bed at nine. By which I mean eight thirty.

I do realize that “New Year” is the practical time for resolutions, and we probably need the poke in the ass to counter-weigh the effects of January. But dearlordalmighty, it just feels so mean to be set up to fail like this on an annual basis.

To illustrate the way that I feel, imagine that I am the dog in this photo and the kitten represents my hopes and dreams.

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Only instead of a couch, I have the comfiest bed in the world. So comfy and so warm, I can crush a mountain of hope and resolve in its folds and just keep on snoring away.

But I’m not ready to be defeated… not quite yet.

Okay, inner cave dwelling bulldog. Time to suck it up and go have a healthy lunch. And then, after work, you are going to take the shrink wrap off of that Jillian Michael’s DVD that you bought with your amazon.com points and your quixotic enthusiasm last week and see if you can, as advertised, have “Killer Buns and Thighs.” And if you kill those buns before they kill you, you can go to bed. Even if it is only six thirty.

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And Then There Are the Parents Who are Proud That Their Kids Are on Drugs

And then there are the parents who are PROUD that their kids are on drugs…

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Resolve

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I make the same New Year’s resolutions every year.  They are – in semi particular order – as follows:

  • Write more
  • Cook more
  • Exercise more
  • Learn guitar

I did some of that this past year.  I wrote more than I did in 2013, but not as much as I would like to have.  Same with the cooking and the exercising.  The guitar thing didn’t come to pass in any fashion.

They seem like good goals, at least in intention.  Obviously they would be better if they were more specific.  So I think I’ll stick with them again for 2015.  But it strikes me now that they are actually code – a shorthand for what my secret goals are.  Allow me to translate:

  • Write more = Change careers
  • Cook more = Lose weight
  • Exercise more = Lose more weight
  • Learn guitar = Be awesome

I like resolutions, but more than honing the statements that I set as goals, I like the idea of resolutions because it is a good opportunity to take stock.  I accomplished a lot of things in the last twelve months and I’m proud of my 2014.  I like the idea of doing even more in 2015 and I have lofty ideas that involve getting up early every morning, working out to one of my Jillian Michaels’ DVDs, kicking ass at work, be home by 4:30 EVERY DAY, walk the dog EVERY DAY and sit down and write for an hour, EVERY DAY!  And then, only then, if I have accomplished those things, can I watch something on television that will inevitably feature Gordon Ramsey.

It sounds so doable.  Simple.  But I know better.

Or maybe I’m feeling cynical already (in what is usually a blissfully optimistic week of the year for me) because I’m just a bit down.  I had a wonderful holiday season and I got to spend a lot of amazing time with my family and with my sister’s kids.  But I got a bad cold.  I had a few nights where I drank too much that left me feeling ashamed and jejune.  And for some reason I had a really had time just dropping in and enjoying the events that I had so looked forward to.

After Christmas – once my house guests left and it was just me, the dog and the holiday candy – I had a bit of sad realization.  I have a wonderful life.  I have a fun and full life.  I am lucky and surrounded by great and amazing people and things.  I do not, however, have a happy life.  And I don’t know how to fix it.

I want to.  And it seems like a good project for 2015.  But I have no idea where to start.  I should just be able to decide to be happy and make it happen.  Not that I think it should be a simple magic mind trick, where you say “be happy” and then you are.  On the other hand, I don’t think that there is some big accomplishment that I need to blast my way through to get there.  I’m guessing that it is going to be an exercise in radical acceptance.

That said, there are several good sized pieces missing from the “big picture” of what I want my life to be.  Things of the “supportive partner” and “meaningful work” variety.  The fact is that I want these things.  I don’t think that I’m going to stop wanting them any time soon.  Is it possible to be happy and unsatisfied?  It seems to be for others, but I have always sensed that there are people in my life for whom happiness works a bit more like a talent than a state of being.  Like being athletic or having perfect pitch.  They just have it in their genes somehow.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get that gene.  I got double jointed elbows instead.  They lead to less happiness than one might expect.

Obviously I don’t have this worked out yet, but that is the nebulous 2015 goal.  Not “be happy” per se – but a mindful exploration of that that means for me, separate from what I think it should mean.  And if I don’t think I’m getting anywhere I’ll just pick up the guitar and work on “being awesome” instead.  Who knows, maybe both of those roads will lead to the same place.