Saturday, April 30, 2005

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy/I'm on a Diet

Sucked. Really sucked. The special effects were pretty, and . . and. . . they were pretty. Other than that, it sucked. I can think of nothing further to say except some sentences were never meant to be uttered in an American accent.

I have been on a diet all week; I have been so good; it's very tiring. It takes all my concentration to just not eat and to exercise dutifully. I have to stay home, too, because if I go out I will drink good beer (calories! evil!) and eat real food (more calories! more evil!) and at any rate, I end up going to bed around 9:30 to keep the calorie demons at bay. But I am determined and this is all good; if I lose 10 pounds I will fit back into most of my clothes nicely, if I lose 20 pounds I will be insanely beautiful, if I lose 30 pounds everyone will start worrying about me, hurrah.

M is home for the weekend with 2 of his friends. They are all sweet boys but they are like Great Dane puppies - they haven't grown into their hopelessly large feet and hands yet and they kind of bump into the walls and bang into each other. The house is trashed; they ate $50 worth of pizza in a couple of hours, and my head kind of hurts. Tomorrow I have to get them outside for most of the day, even if it is raining, which it no doubt will be.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Godawful Snow: Why Not Draw a Pig?

It's snowing. How disgusting is that? When I woke up this morning it was fucking 48 degrees (why don't keyboards have a little circle thing to indicate temperature? Why is that? And why did they take the little cents symbol away so long ago?) in my house and there was snow all over my newly leafed out Japanese maple and my poor petunias. I am taking it as a personal insult: I'm furious. It's two weeks before my birthday and it never snows this close to my birthday, a, and b, I live in NORTH CAROLINA not THE FRIGGING YUKON.

So I'm sulking, wearing a big fuzzy sweater, and running the oven. However I amused myself for a good twenty minutes by drawing a pig. You should draw your own pig, it's great fun. You can see my beautiful spotty pig here although you will notice it's strong resemblance to a cow. Or a dog. Almost everything I draw looks like a dog or a cow, or, as my children cruelly say, a kind of hybrid cow-dog-goat thing. Ha! I went to art school! I have permission to draw badly! Also, it didn't take.

The most art-schooly I think I ever felt (besides wearing all black with torn tights and dirty purple hair and listening to the Smiths and all those extremely conformist non conformist college student things) was one time when I was trying to get the sort of Simpsons-esque paint mixing boy at Home Depot to mix me up a really vitriolic bright lime green deck paint so I could paint my execution ground style concrete Highlandtown back yard in vividly hideous colors. I kept telling him to add more bright yellow and he was getting all nervous about it, like it was going to blow up or something, and finally I yelled "I went to art school! I give you permission to break the mixing rules!" and he did.

Random Toby Memories

I keep getting kind of sidelined by grief. I'll be okay for a couple hours and then I'll remember something, or do something without thinking, like (huge mistake, this was) drive by the vet's office, and the grief comes out of hiding and slams me again. Everyone is being so sweet and my house is full of beautiful flowers. Thanks y'all, I read your comments, they are totally kind, I can't reply because I get all verklempt (if that means teary eyed and snuffling, which I've always thought it did, but I could be wrong, there is that) and can't type. And also thanks to everyone who responded to my emailed eulogy; it was so good to hear from y'all and also to know how much that dog meant not just to me but to many many other people. And everyone who checked out Toby's memorial flickr site - hell, the Tobester is famous now, this is a good thing. So anyway I thought I would just type up a few random Tobe-meister memories and see if that helps.

Starting with the name: Toby, the Tobe-meister, Tobester, Hoagie, Toooooby, Dog of the Streets, Chiiiiild of Dog, Tobe-a-loney, and so on. Tobias Q. Dogge, the dignified. He came from a no-kill animal shelter in Phoenix, Maryland; he and his littermates had been found in a cardboard box at a supermarket parking lot. He had one ear that stood up and one that fell down - and those mismatched ears were one of the reasons he went home with us that day. I was reading Shirley Jackson at the time and she had a dog named Toby; then so did I.

As a puppy Toby had stuff; he used to take all his toys, one by one, and put them next to him on the stair landing where he slept every night. All his life Toby slept between me and the front door; he chose that. When we lived in houses with two floors he slept on the stairs. In this house he slept in the hallway, or right next to my bed. When we went camping he slept right outside the door of the tent, or right at the head, his furry self pushing in the side, or if I slept outside without a tent he slept right against my back. It is true though that the one time we were broken into, back in Baltimore, Toby slept right through it, but he was on the stairs, and maybe they would have come upstairs if he hadn't been there. If they saw him, that is. Or stumbled over him. Of course, in those days, all anyone had to do was open the front door for a fraction of a second and Toby was gone - on his way to the park and to do his rounds of the neighborhood.

Once he ate all the books on the bottom shelf of the bookcase. He was jealous of the time I spent reading, or maybe he wanted to become more literate. That was at the same age that he jumped the 10 foot stockade fence, and around the time that he disappeared for half a day and came home with a nasty cut on his nose, which would remain as a scar for the rest of his life, and a hatred of young black guys. He was a racist for a while after that, which was embarrassing and awful, but eventually he mellowed out. He hated mailmen, too, and anyone in a uniform; he hated Halloween and the Fourth of July and New Years Eve.

In the woods he coursed back and forth in front of me on the trail but always circled back by, and although in town he wasn't so good about coming when you called him, in the woods he always came immediately. Toby knew when it was important to listen and when it really didn't matter: I used to get furious and frustrated when I would call him in the park and he would show up - just out of reach - nod at me, and leave again. He could climb or jump anything; he was faster than squirrels, and he used to dispose of them, and the rats in the backyard, with one quick shake, and then toss the bodies aside. He loved the woods & the country & road trips; he'd sleep happily in the back seat but the minute we got onto a dirt road he'd wake up and bounce with excitement. He loved to swim; he liked to chase huge giant sticks in the water that my ex would throw to him: saplings, really, not sticks, and Toby would push them up current, growling fiercely all the way.

He had lots of dog friends and rarely fought. Once he took a strong dislike to a small dog in the park and attacked it; that was very bad, since the dog was attached to a small Polish woman who started cursing us both in Polish and hitting us with her umbrella. Mostly though Toby got along with all other dogs, and suffered cats, although he considered himself in charge of them, and would snap at the ones who didn't obey.

Ah. More of this another time I guess. I'm getting all verklempt again. He was a sweet, smart dog - smartest dog I ever met, smart enough to worry and get a little neurotic. And he was the dog Houdini: there was never a gate or door or fence made that Toby couldn't get out of somehow, even in his old age.

Friday, April 22, 2005


There seems to be a small conspiracy afoot to keep me from being alone right now. My friends keep appearing, bearing azaleas and beer, and so I am not alone to brood, and think about Toby, and keep on going through pictures. My dining room table is covered with all the photo albums; the sink of nostalgia is backed up, I'm underwater. We are the bereaved, I whispered into Theo's dim little pointed head, and wept. Theo is also bereaved, mostly puzzled, and I think a little afraid that he might do something wrong and vanish like Toby. Certainly he is more subdued than he has ever been before. J brought her dogs over tonight to keep him company and Theo reacted more or less the same way I did: we hid behind each others' legs and whimpered.

It isn't just Toby, although it is at the same time, the loss of a friend, confidante, hell, better and more than a husband or boyfriend; he certainly outlasted several. It's also the loss of my twenties and thirties; the time when my children were young, when I was young, when we lived in Maryland and the world was still possible. My kids are grown or more than half grown now and I had to tell them by phone that Toby had died. M is still young, but he is a boy, and in the context of boarding school he was manly on the phone. I know that if he was at home he would have come to me at midnight, crying, wanting again to be reassured. Instead the cadence of his voice on the phone was the cadence of a man, and he wanted to find out if I was okay. But if only I had some reassurance to give him.

But I have none.

Each of these losses - Fred, Toby - chip away at me and there is less and less left to respond. I miss my dog. My dog died, and there's a hole in my soul. My eyes hurt. Everyone has been so sweet, and so nice, and

and my dog died, and there's a hole in my soul.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
Toby with the kids; Audrey and I picked him out of that litter of puppies when I was pregnant with Miles. He grew up with Miles; I will always remember being at the vet's office when Miles was about a week old, and the vet saying, "That's a good dog you have there - he came in, sat where he could see both the baby and the door, and he hasn't taken his eyes off that baby since." And, for 14 years, he didn't.


Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
Toby died this morning; I took him to the vet. It was time; it's been coming, but I am very sad and I will miss him so.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Off the Lexapro

I went on & off the Lexapro pretty quickly this time. It's not that it doesn't work, it's that it works too well. I was so happy I couldn't stand it. I cannot believe normal people walk around that happy all the time; I would go insane. I mean, I was all happy and shit, in the most annoying way. I would look at the tulips and practically weep for the beauty of it all. I was nearly skipping up the street to buy beer and cigarettes and I didn't even want to drink and smoke that much! Obviously everything was hideously wrong and I had to get off the stuff. So, a few days of withdrawal and mood swings and I'm pleased (not happy, not that) to report that I'm back to being cynical, bitchy, querulent and miserably existential. It's so much better this way.

Smoke a Cigarette, Plant the Marigolds

So I woke up this morning at 4:30 and thought, wow, I don't feel well. . . this feels like a hangover but I didn't drink last night, I wouldn't do that on a work night, would I? And then I woke up a little more and realized OH god, yes I would, oh fuck this is a hangover, and a well deserved one at that. So I staggered to the bathroom and had an alka seltzer and cursed myself. I really only meant to have like one or two beers & dinner at the Westville while I did my laundry across the street, but damn, of course that was impossible, my friends R & T were there, and then my friend J, and then my friend C and another of my friends J (this is like one of those weird conspiracy things about Abraham Lincoln and JFK, or John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, isn't it? Why do all my friends' names begin with J? There's Jodi & Jeff & Jonas & Jay - 2 or 3 Jays, actually - and Jason & James & oh, it goes on & on) so anyway, there was laughter & merriment & french fries & way way too many beers. Oh gods I was speaking French, wasn't I? This is bad. Ow.

So this morning I was just overjoyed when my boss called at 8:30 to tell me to wear grungy clothes since I was going to need to meet him at the warehouse to move more heavy filthy things around, and I groused about it all day. He called almost every half hour today too and it was all annoying. But bless his little ADHD heart, because when I finally did meet him at the warehouse it was a little after 4, and I didn't have to do too much, and then I skived off (note cool usage of brit term, extra points) for the last hour of work, yes thank you bebby jebus! So I got to come home, have a cigarette, and plant the marigolds that had been waiting since Saturday.

This weekend I worked like a dog and busted my ass in the garden. These are weird similes actually: my dogs don't work hard at all, in fact they don't even work, although it is true that they keep careful track of every dog that passes by the house. There are times when I might not even know a dog was being walked down my street if it wasn't for my two helpful dogs, ever ready to alert me to the presence of another dog. And I didn't bust my ass at all, it's my back and shoulders that are suffering. How would you bust your ass by working? You bust your ass by falling on it, and that doesn't happen when you're working; it usually happens when you're drunk. At least it tends to happen to me when I'm drunk, or, of course, when I'm stone cold sober and walking around town spacing out, and then everyone believes I'm drunk anyway.

So I worked like a human, busted my back, and dug up the whole vegetable garden again with a shovel this time, worked a bunch of compost into it, planted about half of it, put down a lot more mulch (and all this compost & mulch & stuff had to be hauled around first you know) around the roses and flowers in the back, mowed my whole huge gigantic lawn, weeded the front flower bed, planted petunias in the old rusty wheelbarrow by the mailbox (hey! we is country here!) and so on. If I ever get the damn digital camera I won on Ebay I think I'm going to start a new blog, maybe just on flickr to track all the gardens from spring to fall. Won't that be wholesome and lovely? I bet we all can hardly wait.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Saturday Night Update

Man, it has been a weird weekend. Last night I went out to dinner with Emperor Zorg and two of his minions; tonight I was in the Land of the Lost Bluegrass Boys. So I have spent two evenings in the company of many, many single heterosexual men. And yet, do you think I got hit on? You underestimate the strength of the Repell-O Rays! Felicity's patented Repell-O Rays were working at full strength again this weekend, and succesfully repelled not only Emperor Zorg and his henchmen, but an entire testosterone crazed party of acoustic musicians. It is a miracle of modern science, no doubt.

So, last night my new friend S. invited me out to dinner with her friend Emperor Zorg and his two new housemates. I went happily and really I shouldn't be so bitchy, because they're actually very nice guys, I'm sure, and I really like S. a lot, she is very great. The only thing is, her friend, the head guy, who I have been subtly referring to as Emperor Zorg, is from LA and has no sense of humor, and his two friends/housemates deferred utterly to his every move. They didn't drink, they talked about poker for two hours straight, and it was a little strained. I can't even play poker for two hours without a break - and talking about it? Yow. Then it turns out that they're all alumni of some "spiritual" school with a Hindu name, which is the kind of thing which usually sends me fleeing back into the outer darkness from whence I came. Mentioning the soul is always the kiss of death at a dinner party. Especially when you get into, as I of course did, an argument over the state of Hunter S. Thompson's soul. For the record, I think it's just fine. I was about to gnaw off my own arm, just leaving my hand to pay the bill, but then it finally ended and I went to Jack. Where I did get hit on, by a complete and total and utter drunken golf playing country club asshole who was so rude even I could hardly believe it. Should have stuck with the emperor's cute minion. Okay he was apparently mute, but adorable nonetheless, and these things can be overcome. Or not.

Tonight I went to a party at the house of my longtime crush E, the fiddle playing lawyer. E is too young for me and an Aries to boot (I don't date Aries, they all hate me) but I have heard good things about his parties. This was a very nice party and there were hardly any women there - and the only ones present were all firmly attached to some guy or another. But the guys were there to play music, and damn them, that is all they did. There was a jam session in the kitchen and one on the porch, although it was cold as hell, and everyone was intent. Some great music and I wish I'd had my camera, but they kept on doing bong hits and I got dizzy and had to go home. I have no tolerance for pot anymore - actually I never have had, but it's to the point now where I get secondhand stoned, and then my contact lenses wig out and I can't drive, so I try not to be in the room with the stoners. Hopeless ambition, tonight. I built a fire in the fireplace and had several pleasant if somewhat disjointed conversations, saw my old friend D who I rarely see, which was nice, and my friend J the musician, which I wasn't expecting, and heard this guy named Caleb play the fiddle, which was totally brilliant, and a fat fuzzy puppy, who was completely cute beyond words. So all good, but of course, the Repell-O Rays were working overtime, and even being the only single woman in a room of maybe 35 men did me no good at all. So, I returned to the Kingdom of One.

R.I.P. Scott Peterkin

My old not quite friend Scott Peterkin died yesterday. He was my first boss at Cornucopia Gourmet Delicatessan in Cashiers, NC and he taught me how to slice cheese. His parents were close friends of my parents and I always, at the back of my mind, figured I would eventually marry him someday, so his death is a shock. I really didn't know him well, and hadn't seen him in years, but I am sad that he's gone, damn, and I wish I had seen more of him.

We used to party together once in a great while when we were in the same town at the same time, and once I did coke with him in Cashiers and he tried mightily to seduce me, but I refused to get into his hot tub. Meanwhile the wolves he was raising at the time howled in the backyard; the whole thing was a bit too fraught. Still, I've always regretted not sleeping with him that night, so hearing of his death made me think of all the guys I've kind of regretted not sleeping with at one time or another and I thought about finding them all and launching a kind of no regrets sex odyssey tour of the US, but I doubt it will work out. Logistics are a bitch, you know.

So, when the cats woke me up at 7:00 with my weekly Saturday hangover, I wrote a poem for him. This is rare, and it's a serious poem too. Here it is:

We are mortal after all
and our bodies begin now
to betray us
vague secretions
and ominous knockings
The ranks thin.
The drugs don't taste as good
when the light curve
of danger is not a spice
or edge but all too real
and our losses accelerate.
We were never supposed to die
not us
the young ones.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Work Traumas

I hate my job. No, I don't hate my job, I hate ALL jobs. They all suck. I was clearly intended by the gods to be independently wealthy and something went horribly, horribly wrong. I am no good at earning a living (this is obvious, of course, to anyone who knows me, including my brother who makes mean cracks about "that vow of poverty you apparently took sometime in the 80s") and I just hate and resent the entire going to work thing. I also deeply hate the fact that each job I get is incrementally worse. The sequence goes like this: I get a job, I hate it, I work there long enough (years of my life!) so that I stop hating it and start accepting it as just somewhere I have to go every day and be annoyed. Then, for one reason or another, I snap and the annoyance gets to be too much: I can't stand it anymore and so I get another job. I have a few brief moments of starry eyed idealism in which I think that it was so clever of me to get another job, and these people will truly appreciate me, I will shed my slacker habits, become a dedicated, career-minded professional and become rich and successful and HAPPY and then. . . I discover that not only do I hate the new job, but it is WORSE, as in the benefits are worse, the hours are worse, the actual work is worse. It's a hideous cycle, and it has happened again.

My new boss calls me 24/7 and seems to think that's okay. That is, actually, okay, since I don't fear him like I feared my old boss The Evil Queen, and I have no qualms about saying "Boss, I have been drinking for four straight hours now, so you had better factor that into any answers I give you." I consider this part of my natural charm and it doesn't seem to faze him one iota. So getting these random phone calls on Sunday mornings and late at night is kind of a good thing: they make me feel like a wonderful, all-American workaholic. Unfortunately, he also expects me to be here in the office 24/7 and that is not so good. I don't want to be here, and when I get here, I don't know what to do, so I end up doing nothing and hope nobody notices. I recognize this for the dysfunctional behavior that it is, but if I ask him for something to do he comes up with incomprehensible ideas about labeling all the lightbulbs in the place and it's just too awful.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


This is to go right along with the post RAT!! which you can find in early February somewhere and I bet you can guess what it is all about. Yes, the cats brought me a dead snake yesterday. Snakes don't bother me as much as rodents do, so it wasn't as horrifying an experience overall. Now, it's not that I really like snakes; I'm not out there calling them, or letting them slither all over me, or anything, but I don't intensely fear and loathe them, like I do mice and rats. I respect snakes, I have no problem with them from a distance, and I appreciate the way they eat mice and rats.

So, I came home yesterday at lunch and just as I was leaving, Barbieri came in the dog door with a small snake in his mouth. It was more than I could handle right then, so I just went ahead and left, without returning to the kitchen for my sunglasses or anything. All afternoon I wondered about the snake: was it dead? Was it alive? And, if it was alive, what were the chances that it had made it's way into the bedroom and was even now waiting for me between the sheets? Then I wondered if there was anyone in Asheville I could call to come find out - some male friend of mine who would come over and bravely search the house for the snake. I realized that there is actually noone I can call, even though I really like the idea of the wording: "Hey baby. Can you come over and look for a snake? (suggestive pause) In my bed?" But alas, I don't have anyone like that and I knew I had to handle the snake myself.

Anticlimactic ending: When I got home, I was relieved to find it dead on the kitchen throw rug. I picked up the whole rug & tilted it into the trash and the snake slid sadly away. I did worry about it coming back to life as a horrible zombie snake from hell but the chances seemed slim, and anyway it was only a small harmless little garden snake. So, now the cats have brought me rats, mice, snakes and birds, and the former cat brought me baby rabbits. What the hell is next? Aardvarks?

Monday, April 04, 2005

Mowing the Lawn

Is that, like, the most boring title to a blog post EVAR? What does it say about me that I'm writing it, or, even worse honey, what does it say about you that you are reading it? Hee hee. However. I did mow my lawn for the first time this spring and it looks much better, and I mowed up a lot of dog toys, (what a lawnmower can do to a Nerf football is amazing and educational) found a cereal bowl, four of M's socks, a well licked cat food can of a brand I do not buy and a work glove. The mower worked on the first try, which is some kind of miracle or record, and filling up my little red gas can at BJs cost $5, about a 250% increase from last year. And somehow, there is a tulip growing in the middle of my front lawn, in a place where I never, ever planted a tulip. So that is pretty cool - I mowed around it. The daffodils I planted have turned out to be tacky daffodils with orange trumpets in the middle instead of the classic old fashioned all yellow ones which I favor, so oh well. At least they aren't pink.

I took M with a carpool of two other kids back up to school and, as always, driving back down towards Asheville I felt the umbilical cord stretching, stretching, through the mountains and wavering, wrapping through the woods and getting fainter. It made me sad and so I turned on the Ramones at ear bleeding levels and drove fast through the countryside (a time honored Fliss method for combating depression) and came home to bourbon and the internet - also time honored. Here I am. I hate Paypal and daylight savings time with an unholy passion; the pope is dead, which affects me not at all; and I have a well reasoned, articulate, brilliant article on blogging and the reasons thereto in my head that I might write someday. Not tonight.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

M Wants a Laser Pointer and I'm Rich

M wants a laser pointer. Not just your usual cheapie small laser pointer but a big exotic fancy expensive one, the kind you use to burn out people's eyes and take down passing aircraft. At least I'm assuming that's why he wants one. Being a 13 year old boy and all, M is usually interested in things for their potential destructiveness quotient, particularly if they can be used to create spectacularly large explosions. I am balking on the purchase of this item, though. I don't see spending $50 on a laser pointer; the kid is not presenting slide lectures on the iconography of Byzantine icons, after all. I remember when laser pointers were rare and new items, back in the hallowed 90s. My boss bought one - it cost around $100 - for the museum where I worked and than worried horribly that some visiting lecturer would absent mindedly pocket it. She came up with the brilliant idea of putting a big key ring on it, like something you'd used to open a gas station bathroom. I almost let her do it - I was entranced by the vision of a scholar attempting to point out the finer detail in a medieval patron portrait on the wing of some altarpiece while wrestling with a laser pointer attached to an 8" solid hunk of wood, preferably painted in yellow with the words Joe's Exxon - but good sense won out and we talked her out of it.

Other than that, I have nothing new to report. The weather got warm, got cold, rained, shone, wild wind - as is pretty normal for March, global warming notwithstanding. I worked all week and am still not sure that this job was a good career move for me - I'm inclining to the theory of not, not at all, but you never know. And, I became rich.

Yes, I am rich. My tax refund was, for some weird inexplicable reason, about twice what it has ever been before. I am a little afraid. And, on top of that, the house that I used to own with my exhusband in Baltimore, the unsaleable one that was foreclosed on, apparently was sold at auction 18 months ago and ended up netting me $1500. This is all miraculous and bizarre, and although all the roughly $4000, more than I may have ever had in the bank before, is earmarked for various purposes, I have this definite yearning to quit my job and fly to Europe. Or do nothing for 3 months. But I know already what will happen: $2500 will go to buy A a car when she graduates from college in May; $1000 will send M to Quaker camp for two weeks this summer (although he doesn't want to go and is screaming bloody murder); $600 will pay off the bankruptcy lawyer; $760 is my rent for April, and so, you see, it's not only gone, but so is half of my next paycheck. Damn. I am, however, going to go out and buy a new purse. But not a laser pointer.

M goes back to school tomorrow, sigh. It's always such a mixed feeling: I miss him, but I know it's good for him to be there.