Thursday, September 27, 2007

Yes, I *am* a million years old

This song from The Electric Company has been going through my mind the past couple of days. I think it's because the Sasquatch has been working on a grad school project on "wayfinding."

This is sooo very 70's... (And yeah, this is the sort of thing you hunt for on YouTube when you're completely loopy on codeine-laced cough syrup. Ahem.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Hazy Shade of Everything

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I seriously would make a lousy junkie. Painkillers, muscle relaxers, all that jazz? They just make me extremely sleepy and a little loopy. I have the painkillers & muscle relaxers to take at night (and they are powerful suckers) and a slightly less sleep-inducing variety for daytime. Plus, of course, the killer cough syrup (that comes in a scary, big, old-fashioned glass bottle - looks like something creepy you'd get in ye olde apothecary shoppe) and yet another round of antibiotics for the pneumonia. Feh.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's return to the scene of the crime...

It's around 4:20 on Friday afternoon. I have a day off, friends are in town for the Dolby gig, and I'm not coughing my head off. It's a good day. I decided I would invest fourteen bucks in having someone else blow dry my hair at the local Hair Cuttery, so I'd look semi-human for our evening at the Birchmere. (Fourteen bucks is a luxury these days, but I just wanted to look decent!) So, there I am, freshly styled hair, gently blowing in the breeze, sitting at a red light, four blocks from home. Gonna hang with my friends, gonna see Dolby one last time before he leaves for Canada and the UK...

I never saw her coming. I didn't hear any brakes. I vaguely remember seeing something big and tan suddenly filling my rear view mirror before the sensation and sound of impact. I'm so glad I was wearing my seatbelt. So very, very, very glad. She hit me at probably 45-50 miles an hour. Hard enough to crush the back end and bend the frame. Hard enough to send me into the windshield and then almost flat back. Hard enough that my car is now totaled.

I just sat there for a few seconds, totally paralyzed. My hands were shaking, my right arm and my neck hurt and the tilt function on the steering wheel was loose and just flopped in my hands as I slowly pulled myself up. I'd hit my arm and leg against the dash and the center column and they already throbbed. My first reaction was to roll down the window and ask for a witness. Strangely, other drivers just smiled and gave me a thumbs up. WTF? I always stop and offer to be a witness when I see an accident. Why weren't these people stopping?

The driver of the SUV that struck me finally approached my car. She didn't ask if I was okay. She simply said, "So, how do you want to handle this?" A variety of inappropriate responses went through my head. As I waited for traffic to clear the intersection, a car pulled in front of me. A man hopped out with a scrap of paper in his hand. "Ma'am," he said, "I'll be your witness. You need to know, she was on her cell phone, looking out the side window, when she hit you. Didn't even notice you." He gave me his name and phone number. I patted his arm and said, "Bless you, hon." I was still pretty out of it.

I pulled over to the far right lane, and the SUV driver followed after a while. I'm not sure what was going on with her. With hands still shaking, I dialed 911 and asked for the police. The dispatcher felt, from the from the sound of my voice, that paramedics should come, too. I just waited in my car. I didn't want to get out until the paramedics had arrived. I called the Sasquatch, since he, his sister, and Gonzomantis were on their way to pick me up at home when all this transpired. That's when I cried.

I pulled myself together when the paramedics arrived. They held my neck as they determined what problems I might have. They wanted to transport me to the hospital, and they'd blocked my tires and drained the air out of a couple of them, to make it easier to put me on a back board. But I declined. At that point, I just had a mule kick headache. I asked questions about how my refusal to be taken by ambulance might affect my insurance if I decided to go to the hospital later. They explained there would be no problem, but they felt that going to the hospital would be a wise move for me. I thanked them all, wobbled out of my car so they could reinflate the tires, and suddenly remembered that I had both my cell phone and my digital camera with me. I snapped photos of the back of my car and the front of her SUV. My car was crunched. She had a dimple on her fender. She had gotten out of her car again as the police pulled up.

I asked her what happened. Why didn't she stop? She started to babble about not having time to stop, that she was being rushed by people behind her. None of it made sense, since I'd been sitting at the red light for a good 15-20 seconds when she struck me. I could see she had her registration card in hand, but the police officer on the scene asked us to please drive around the corner to exchange information - we were in the middle of traffic on Rockville Pike at the start of a busy evening rush hour.

As soon as the paramedics cleared the scene, I pulled around the corner, turned on my hazards, and waited for the other driver. The Sasquatch and crew arrived in mere minutes and waited with me. Gonzomantis went back around the corner to see if he could find the SUV driver, but she was nowhere to be found. I told my friends they should go ahead to the concert, and I would meet them there, but they all waited with me (good damn friends!) Eventually, I called 911 again, and the dispatcher sent the officer back to my location. He was astounded that the other driver had bolted. I dug through my memory and realized I had a photo of her license plate on my cell phone. Eureka! The officer used my cell phone snap to track her and he gave me all her details.

What kind of moron flees the scene of an accident with a cop around *and* someone with two cameras?!? Well, this kind of moron not only got caught, she lives one street over from me, where her boat of a car, with its wee little bumper dimple, sits in front of her door. Jerk. Weasel. Ass.

On a happier note, the Sasquatch's sister has been through this same sort of mess before, and she was able to give me a handful of ibuprofen at the Birchmere, which certainly made the evening go well. I looked like crap - my nicely blown dry hair was a mess and I was in my "running errands" clothes, complete with smear of gold craft paint. But the gig was great and it was terrific to see Thomas one last time before he hit the road for points far distant.

After the show, though? Oy gevalt. I was starting to hurt. A lot. My friends dropped me at home, and I gathered my things to take to the Suburban ER. Apparently, my gathering technique needs some improvement because, at midnight, when I arrived at the hospital, I discovered I had forgotten my wallet. No ID, no insurance card, no nothing. D'oh! One more trip home, and I was ready. By then, though, the car had started to give off an unpleasant smell, like an overheated cheap transistor radio. Not good.

I was in the ER for four hours. The waiting room had little in the way of entertainment. There were the other creatures of the night, like me, a TV that seemed to only show infomercials, and a December 2005 issue of New York magazine. I was desperate; I read it. I finally was ushered into an exam room, sharing space with another patient behind a thick curtain. He had apparently torn a shunt out of his body at a nursing home, and he gibbered and moaned and cried constantly. His family, clearly veterans of a long illness, gathered around his bed, only leaving when the ER staff had to undertake painful tests on him. I felt for him and his family, but the whole experience just scared me. I don't like hospitals and I fear having things like this happen to me.

Traumas were called left and right as a light rain outside turned the streets into an asphalt slip 'n' slide. A woman across the hall cried out, "Oh god, oh god, help me, help me, Jesus!" over and over and over again. I remembered I had earplugs in my purse from the concert (did not need them - the opening act was really good) and I popped them in. Still they didn't muffle the cries of the man in the next bed or the woman across the hall. I found a Halls cough drop in my purse and slowly chewed it to drown out the sound of agony.

The ER doc who finally came to see me was very nice and very certain that I'd done the right thing in coming in. She checked my range of motion and found the points where I had the most pain. In the end, I got a script for painkillers and muscle relaxers and a referral to an orthopedist, and I was sent on my way. When I walked out, at four a.m., I was wide awake and strangely, a little hungry.

I drove up the Pike to the 24-hour CVS to drop off my prescriptions. I was the only customer there, and I could tell the pharmacist was pissed to be asked to work. He was lounging in the waiting area, reading a paper when I walked up. He growled at me, "It'll be an hour." I looked around. No one here, just two prescriptions. I shrugged. There was an IHOP up the street. Might as well have breakfast. It was 4:30, after all.

Most of my visits to pancake houses are surreal, and this was no exception. My waitress was high on Vicodin from a wisdom tooth extraction the previous day. She kept calling me "Elaine" and "sir" and singing "Mellow Yellow." She also stopped to tell me about the baby daddy woes of another IHOP employee. Still, breakfast was good - and a good thing, too, as it was basically my last meal for a couple of days.

My insurance company called me at 8 a.m. on Saturday, after I'd had about three hours of sleep. I was a zombie, but they were very helpful, and they hooked me up with Hit and Run Girl's insurance folks. Other than that, I slept for all but three hours of Saturday and Sunday. It's all pretty much a blur at this point. The muscle relaxer turned me into Madame Spaghetti Legs, and I had a helluva time cleaning out the car to take it to Hit and Run Girl's insurance collision center on Monday.

By Monday afternoon, my car had been totaled. The repair bill outweighed the car's value by about $500. The Crapmobile is going to a salvage yard. I couldn't find the title, so I have to get a replacement from the State of Maryland. I have to call the insurance guys now and let them know that. I'm sure they'll be annoyed, but hey - it was *their* client who hit me. It wasn't like I was in need of my title this week, otherwise!

So, that's the scoop, kids. I have a rental car from her insurance company until next Tuesday, thankfully. It's a little SUV, and with my back hurting, it's amusing to watch me try to get up and in the driver's seat. I hurt a lot, walking is a real pain, and I'm just plain tired. Hopefully, finding a new car won't be a real trial. We shall see. My choices are limited by my financial situation, but I'll do the best I can.

And now, time for some water and a moment of fresh air. Well, as fresh as the air gets here...

Monday, September 24, 2007


My freaking car is totaled.


I'm going to take a walk (well, a limp) and try to be Zen about this.

Le Crapmobile est morte. :(

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sleep (and drugs): the great healer

With the exception of about three hours today, I've slept 'round the clock. Just woke up at 1:30 a.m., brushed my teeth, checked e-mail, and now, I'm ready to go back to sleep. I'm on a fairly amazing painkiller cocktail right now. The ER doc told me some people have out-of-body experiences from it. Oh, I am *all* for that!

In my case, it's made me a major league lump, but at least it's so effective that I can't feel the throbbing ache that had developed in my lower back, neck, and head by the time I got to the hospital last night. When I drove to the ER, btw, I got all the way there and then realized I had forgotten to bring my wallet. As in, no ID, no insurance card, bupkis. Ms. Forgetful had to turn around, drive home, hobble upstairs, retrieve the wallet, and start all over again.

When I finally left the hospital (around 4-ish in the morning) it was raining. I wedged myself into the car and turned on the windshield wipers, forgetting that the one in the back was attached to that whole squished liftgate. I hear this "Eeeeeeeeerrrrrrrgggggg" as the wiper made a valiant effort to do its job and then just stopped in the middle of the window.

At that point, I laughed. A somewhat hysterical laugh, but a laugh nonetheless.

Back to bed with me. Tomorrow (well, later today) I'll write about my ER experience, my two hours of conversation with insurance companies (my, my, but Madame Hit and Run's insurance was quite surprised to hear about their client's behavior), the great Dolby gig at the Birchmere, and the weirdness of hanging out at the local IHOP (aka "the Incarcerated House of Pancakes") at 5 a.m. , while waiting for the drugs to be dispensed at the 24-hour pharmacy. I really can't go anywhere without things getting strange. (As if you guys didn't already know that...)

See you later today. Be there, aloha!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What happens when idiots drive

...while using their cell phones:

I'm taking my headache and my back pain to the hospital now. More tomorrow. But just so you have the punchline -- the woman who plowed into me at full speed while I waited at a red light? She took off, not realizing I'd taken a cell phone photo of her license plate.


Yours from the stiff and sore zone,


Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Last (for now ) Dolby Hurrah & the Jazz Mafia Blog

So, tonight is my last Dolby concert for a good long time. Thomas has moved to the UK for a while (sounds like his kids are digging being in school in England) where he will work on his new CD. (I was doing to write "album" but I realized just how old that would make me sound!) FYI -- he's making this new recording entirely "off the grid" - he'll be recording in a green studio (wind, water, solar-powered) and on a sailboat, using this cool technology called eSession to work with collaborators long-distance. I think that's pretty brilliant, actually. As Thomas said on Wednesday night, the new CD will be out "when it's out." We could have a long wait, but that's okay. Part of the fun will be the adventure of seeing how it all comes together. There's a good podcast interview from Electronic Musician magazine with Thomas about the green recording plans and eSession.

But I'm a little bit sad that I won't see him again for quite some time. Over the years I've known him, we've only met up in person a handful of times before the tour. Such is the way with friendships struck up via the Internet! I have some friends I've NEVER met in a decade-plus of knowing them. (Which is strange, perhaps, but, in some sweet way, much like pen pals of old - a little linkage to our letter-writing past.) It's been a real joy to share the gigs with dear friends. I'll miss it all.

But we all have things we need to do - lots of creative stuff for everyone on the horizon. And the time is coming to take a deep breath and dig in. Get to it! Autumn will be here on Sunday, and it's my new year, as far as I'm concerned. Bring it on, Mutha Nature. I'm ready!

(Now, if I could just shake this friggin' case of pneumonia, thanks!)

On another topic -- in case you're a Dolby fan and you've missed my links previously, the Jazz Mafia Horns have a blog, and Adam Theis, trombonist extraordinaire, has been blogging from the road with Thomas. If you check out the most recent post, you might even see a fuzzy photo of Gonzomantis, the Sasquatch and me (photos are appropriately fuzzy when a Sasquatch is involved, I do believe!)

Off to launder and enjoy a little of my flex day before the Birchmere gig...

Dolby at Rams Head Annapolis

It was great. Fantastic evening. My friends and I had a total blast, and the music rocked. It was lovely to see Thomas tonight - had a nice chat after the show - and to meet the Jazz Mafia Horns. Great guys - amazingly talented.

I'm completely zonked now, but I think I'll sleep well. I had a glass of red wine in honor of Lunesse, who was missed greatly tonight. Haven't had a nice glass of wine in quite some time, and I think with the pneumonia, one merlot is enough to make me good and mellow.

More when I'm awake.

(Yeah, I stink at non-flash photography in dark places...)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Things I have recently learned

1. Itchy rashy arms and legs are a symptom of pneumonia. Go figure.

2. Having pneumonia sucks.

3. Going to the pediatric urgent care center (because it's the one authorized by your insurance) is more entertaining that a regular urgent care center because you get to watch The Wizard of Oz and Aladdin while you wait.

4. Barking like a dog and scratching madly like you have fleas is only enjoyable if you actually are a canine.

5. Uninsured cab drivers are lousy people to encounter when they rear-end you. (Yeah, I'm fine. The Crapmobile will be, too.)

But it's all okay. I'm not contagious, I'm actually feeling better (though still tired), and I'll be seeing Mr. Dolby tonight, in the company of good friends. And I hope I won't bark throughout the gig. I'm considering a mini-bar-sized bottle of booze as an appetizer before the show...

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Several days ago, my friend Spencer wrote an excellent post about the wretched, shameful mess that has transpired in Jena, Louisiana. If you aren't familiar with the story - still unfolding - visit the Wikipedia link I've provided to give you some of the background. There is so much ugliness in what has happened, it sickens me. And it ain't over by a longshot.

Racism is alive and well in America, and Jena -- soon to be the site of a rally and march on September 20th - is another sad milestone in a road that we are still traveling down.

This morning, I was accused of racism. I was waiting for an elderly woman to finish backing in and out (and in and out) of a parking spot behind the urgent care clinic where I needed to go (whoo hoo -- more antibiotics and an inhaler for "She Who Breathes Like Darth Vader" here.) I simply wanted to park in the last remaining spot, just two down from where she continued to angle her boat of a vehicle. A guy waited behind me, impatiently, in his Lincoln Navigator. Finally, he drove up onto the sidewalk, bolted past me, honked at the old woman and took that last remaining spot.

He and his group of friends got out of the car, pointing at me and laughing. When I rolled down the window and yelled at the driver for being a total jerk, he spun on me and immediately accused me of yelling at him because he was black and I was racist. I was dumbfounded. Here was this affluent young suburban man with a car that cost more than what I make in a year, and when I call him on rude behavior, he whips out the racism card? WTF?

I yelled, "Uh, no, hon. I'm not racist, but you are an asshole!" I'm an equal opportunity loudmouth, folks. I don't care if you're black, white, or green -- you steal my parking space, you're a weasel.

At that point, the guy yelled at me, "Bitch, you got served!"

I started laughing. It was the only response I could summon. I couldn't help myself. I yelled back, "Omigod! Are you serious? Are you in a cheerleading movie?" (His friends laughed at *him* then.) I shook my head and gave up. I left the elderly woman to the angling of her boat and I found another spot up front after 15 minutes of waiting.

But thinking about it this afternoon made me angry. A young man bizarrely called "racism" in some weird kneejerk response to him being outed as a classless boob. It pisses me off when there are REAL situations of racism, like the terrifying, life-altering events in Jena, Louisiana happening. And I'm willing to bet, for every Jena that finds its way onto the Internet and into our homes as a 2-minute piece on the evening news (barely a blip in our short attention span American Idol culture) there are probably a half-dozen or more situations we'll never hear about. And lives will be damaged and lost -both immediately and slowly, incidiously.

And we'll never know.

Instead, we'll hear more about Britney looking fat (she didn't) or Kanye West having another temper tantrum at the VMAs. The important stuff, dontcha know.

And that's to our devastating, collective shame.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Return of the Dolby!

Okay, mah peeps -- if you missed him when he came through the DC/Bal'mer area last time, now you get another chance to hear him live. And this time, he has a killer horn section with him!

Thomas Dolby
plays Rams Head Annapolis on Wednesday night and the Birchmere on Friday night. I wouldn't miss it for the world! (You shouldn't either.)

You will not be disappointed. Thomas is a blast live and the the Jazz Mafia Horns are great (check out the fab EP of their gig together at SxSW this spring.) Along with creating brilliant and thoughtful music, Thomas is a great storyteller, too. All around, you can look forward to a pretty fantastic evening in Mr. Dolby's company.

(And if you go to the Rams Head gig, be sure to see what entree the club names for him this time. Last time it was some fish dish. The Thomas Dolby Salmon?)

Be there, aloha!

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I can't believe it. I'm free for a couple of days!

It felt like the deadlines at work were so unrelenting that I wasn't ever going to come up for air again. I know all the security guards who work the night shift now. I've walked through our big staff conference room in the pitch black so many times, I can make it across the room that connects two of our buildings together with no light, without bumping into any furniture.

I'm not sure if I should be proud of that. It's simply been one of those things I've learned over the past few weeks. When you're leaving the office at 11:30 at night, you've got to find ways to amuse yourself (and keep yourself awake!)

All this work will pay off a few months down the line, I hope. And I've learned a good deal about the financing and production of films, which is pretty cool for a chick who loves her pop culture. I've had to bend my brain around projects the nature of which I never expected to deal with before. And I've developed some new writing skills. All good.

But now, I'm beyond tired. This cold will not let go. The cough was especially bad today. And I've developed some sort of allergic reaction to something (my new cheap laundry detergent??) which has, overnight, given my arms and legs itchy bumps that remind me of chicken pox. Lovely! Maybe it's just a stress reaction.

Now that I can breathe for a couple of days, perhaps it will recede. Here's hoping!

Tomorrow, the car gets some much-needed repairs. I'm afraid of hearing what else needs to be fixed, but I'm also numb enough right now that I can take it.

But next week will be like a reward for all the craziness. Good music to be heard, played by a friend, enjoyed with friends. A couple days off work. Time to think about assembling the first book proposal. I can't let that momentum fail. Must keep moving forward!

I'm listening to Crowded House's new CD, Time On Earth, as I type. Damn, it's good. It will grow and grow on you, for certain. Many of the songs are about the aftershocks of the suicide of Paul Hester, but, no matter if you've lost someone or just have been through times of uncertainty, the lyrics will resonate. And the music is simply quite good.

Just breathing is good, too. Even when you're wheezing.

Man, I wish I had a bucket of calamine lotion right now! (Update: I think I may be having an allergic reaction to the drug the doc gave me for the cough/lung gunk -- my strange symptoms match exactly with the "possible severe side effects" -- EEEK!)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Oh, and another thing...

...a good reason to not stay at work late: I was accosted by a drug dealer at the corner of 16th and M tonight.

"Whatchew need, baby? Whatchew need? I got it all, I got it all, I got it all, see?" He touted his junk while I waited for the light to change. His sales pitch never stopped. "Whatchew need, huh? C'mon, baby, seriously, I got it all!" He took his hand from his pocket and uncurled his fingers to show me a variety of stuff. Looked like a grubby mobile pharmacy.

Either that, or the contents of Lindsay Lohan's purse.

I just kept walking to my car, but, damn, he was aggressive. Three blocks from the White House, folks. Just three blocks.

Reality Check

I have to keep telling myself there is a world outside my office.

The work piling up on my desk has been absolutely unrelenting lately. I was in the office again until 9:30 tonight. My cough is getting worse (it's at the "really painful to cough/breathe/laugh/talk" stage) although I am not contagious, thank heavens. But I pity the people who have to listen to me harf and hack all day.

I've put a sign on my door that simply reads:

(Not contagious. Just incredibly annoying.)

This, too, shall pass. I know. But for now, it's a pain in the ass!

By 5 p.m. tomorrow, the last three of my current deadline nightmares will be put to bed, and I will be able to breathe -- at least for the weekend! Sleep calls my name. (As do laundry and housecleaning -- they are loud and strident in calling my name. Sometimes rude, too.)

Next week, Thomas is back in town for two nights! (So, DC/Baltimore/Annapolis-type peeps: get yo' tickets now!!!) He will have a really fine horn section with him, the Jazz Mafia Horns, so he'll be playing some of his funkier numbers. Can't wait!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Gopher Tales

I'm sure I've mentioned this out here before, but a couple of jobs back, I worked for Fred Grandy at Goodwill Industries. Fred once told me the story of how he was badly injured during the dying days of his time on The Loveboat. It involved a Turkish taxi, a cigar, a balloon filled with hydrogen (!!), a ship's doctor who really wasn't a doctor, and someone on set who was an IV drug user (and probably saved Fred's life.)

People used to stare blankly at me when I'd retell this story, like I was pulling it out of my ass. Well, I'm pleased to say that Fred recounts that story in this week's Entertainment Weekly (with the Fall TV Preview cover.) Enjoy.

Real life -- seriously, 150% more bizarre than anything any of us could make up.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Blinking into the sunlight

Ahhhh, after waking up coughing over and over last night, I finally got some solid sleep. Woke up at noon, feeling a little out of it, but rested. I have so much work to do for deadlines this week, I really should go into the office today, but I'm afraid if I do that I'll just get more sick. I e-mailed myself a ton of documents to review and tweak, and maybe -- if the coughing settles down a bit -- I'll take the laptop up to the coffee shop to revise text, just to get a little distance between work and the sickbed here.

Time is moving so fast right now, I'm just a little overwhelmed. So much is going on, I don't even have time to worry about my messed up finances. I could easily stay at the office until midnight each day and not get everything done. And I've got creative side projects piling up. Need to finish more radio stuff. Need to be better about updating the blog with things that are actually interesting to peruse. And, an editor wants to see two book proposals from me.

Honest to god.

Two book proposals.

Intimidating as hell, that is. But in a very good way.

Now, I just have to feel better, get caught up at the office, and find a little time to breathe.

Breathing is good, I hear. Not overrated.

I have to take some leave soon. I would love to take a week at a cabin somewhere, just to breathe, walk, think, revive myself in fresh air. But until I know someone with a free cabin available -- driving distance from Chez Merde -- that ain't gonna happen! (And I have doubts about my ability to turn enough, uh, "speciality tricks" to raise the capital for a week's retreat.) I think my week off will just be spent at home and the coffee shop, which is okay, too.

This is a time of major highs and lows. I've been alternately dissed and praised over and over again in recent weeks. Vexed by problems I can't just resolve on my own (which is frustrating as hell) and offered great opportunities that I have to find the energy and the will and the confidence to accept. As I've gotten older, I have become more firm in how I handle some things, but I am still weak in many ways. My bravura melts around certain friends and family members. Lots of tears (which has to be exhausting for them.)

I am still a work in progress.

But aren't we all?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Sick Puppy

Ah, the fever, hacking cough, sore throat and congested head that is the hallmark of one of my classic ailments! Welcome back!

I left work early today with an armful of work to review at home. Instead, I was trapped in bad traffic and didn't get up to Bethesda for ages and ages. By the time I got to the apartment, I had a nasty fever and lightheadedness that took me straight to the comfort and safety of the sofa.

Still, despite feeling foul, it's been a good day. Got to chat a bit with my friend Lunesse, who has her hands full with a CUTE new baby. The Sasquatch is back from his well-deserved vacation. And I am inspired to write. One of the book editors at work heard my latest radio piece and came by my office to tell me how much she enjoyed it. Then she asked me when she'd be seeing a book proposal from me.

Yeah, it's been a good day. Just wish these hot little snot aliens weren't living in my skull!

Hot Little Snot Aliens -- now there's a good band name.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Bits and Bobs

First -- I added a link to my latest radio piece "Wild Wildlife" to the Radio, Radio area of the menu on the right side of the blog.

Second -- I'm getting used to the new layers in my hair. Stella's got her curls back. And it's a good thing.

Third -- Burt's Bee's Peppermint Foot Lotion? Great stuff. About half the price of Aveda's rocking Foot Relief. But... while Burt's smells like peppermint on my tootsies, on my hands... I swear to God, it smells like cocktail sauce. There is something very, very wrong about going to sleep with your hands smelling like a shrimp cocktail.

Fourth -- Some days are simply better than others. Today is a good day. Today I have a smile on my face, and it's the result of some creative collaboration with a friend. I'll tell you about it in a few weeks.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Buyer's Remorse

I got my hair cut today -- not a drastic change in the back length, but layers cut throughout, to try to lighten the load on my noggin. Of course, my hair is dried out and frizzy from home hair color, and now... well... I have a halo of layered frizz.

I will get it under control. Tomorrow at work will come the unavoidable "did you get a perm?" questions (which are usually diplomatic, but thinly veiled attempts to say, "Dear God, holy shit, what did you do to your head?")

I'm actually happy to have my curls back -- the weight of my one-length hair had pulled them all out, and if I can find some product to keep the curls but leave the "finger in an electrical socket" fuzz behind, then I'll be happy. Right now, I'm all angsty.

I never used to be angsty about hair. Then again, my hair was about two inches long back during my non-angsty phase!

This, too, shall pass. I'll be at peace with the layers. Before it dried and poofed out, the stylist said -- and she was right -- that I had diva hair. The cut is gorgeous and frames my face. But walking around all day with a wet head, just to keep the diva-licious look... well, that ain't gonna cut it!

Off to try a handful of junk I have on the bathroom shelf. One of those elixirs should do the trick.

I hope!

Written at 2:30 a.m.

I'll give you the punchline first -- these guys did it on and off until 4-something this morning. I finally fell asleep around 5 a.m. Here were my thoughts at 2:30 this morning:

Oh... mah... GAWD! There isn't a white noise machine powerful enough in this whole universe to save me from the terrifying sounds of the marathon sex session still going on upstairs. I don't know how many cans of Red Bull (or how much crack) Angry Indian Doctor and Mrs. Angry Indian Doctor must have consumed to fuel this tantric lovefest, but dear God, MAKE IT STOP!!!

There are just so many episodes of "Flip This House" any one human can watch in the middle of the night. I feel like I need a set of those wireless headphones for the TV/stereo so I can consider falling asleep without hearing barking, grunting, and their headboard banging against the wall. It sounds like pit bulls attacking a teacup poodle on top of loose boards.

Well... at least VH1 Classic is running some great stuff I haven't seen in a gazillion years, like The Specials singing "A Message to You Rudy" (they all look like they're twelve and have starved themselves while being stretched on a rack to fit into all those super skinny clothes) and Morrissey making me swoon with "Sing Your Life."

But, really, I'd just like some shuteye. I worked today, and my brain is fried. But as long as the genital funpark is open upstairs, I'm the one who's really screwed.

Right now, I'd give just about anything to live in a soulless concrete highrise with enough slabs between units to render it silent. That sounds fantastic right now.

Anyone up for a board game?

Saturday, September 01, 2007


I don't think I've ever mentioned Termite out here. She was our dog when I was growing up. A mutt, plain and simple, Termite was some terrier mix, just a tiny black thing when she came into our family. I can't even remember exactly how she came to us -- probably through a friend of my sister, Nurse Rachet, who was also responsible for our adoption of Tuptim, the Siamese kitten she saw get thrashed in a hit and run. (One broken leg and $200 later, we had a cat that ran the roost for nearly 22 years before her time came.)

Termite was the runt of her litter, abandoned by her mother, and raised, at least for a few weeks, by a somewhat tame raccoon kept by our puppy's original owner. The raccoon impressed its behaviors on wee Termite, who, all her life, would dip her paws in her water bowl, mimicking raccoon eating behavior. Her tail was broken when she came to our care -- a result of raccoon discipline, we'd been told. A trip to the vet ended with a bobbed tail rather than the curvy one her siblings had.

Man, I miss that dog.

She liked to gnaw on wood, including the legs of my mother's old upright piano, hence her moniker "Termite." That habit faded as she grew out of her puppy days, but the name stuck. (For the record, the chewing in general remained as a bad lifelong habit -- I'll never forget that dog taking my sister's retainer from the edge of the bathtub one night and gnawing it into a lump of plastic and wire. She managed to get it stuck in her own small mouth, wire wrapped around her teeth. Once Mom got over being furious with my sister for leaving the pricey thing in reach of the dog, she had to laugh at how well it fit in Termite's mouth. "Your mouth is the same size as the dog's, dear." I can hear Mom chuckling at my sister. Somewhere, there is a great photo of the dog wearing my sister's retainer before we managed to extract it.)

Termite had one white paw, and, I'm sorry to say, I was responsible for that. As a little kid, I put her in the basket on the front of my bike and took her for rides around the neighborhood. (She was a sucker for a bike ride -- when my mom was older and had one of those 3-wheeled bikes with the big basket, Termite was always in the back, nose up in the breeze.) But on one of our rides, I hit a huge bump, tossing Termite from the basket and, in a moment forever frozen in my memory, I ran over her tiny paw, full force.

Oh, how that poor dog cried. I remember not being able to breathe, for having caused so much pain.

It brought back the one of the earliest, darkest memory of my life -- another moment I can see with absolute clarity despite having been no more than 4 years of age when it happened. That was back in New Jersey. I remember standing at the edge of my yard, by the street with my mother, as the neighbor across the road showed us her new beagle puppy, all floppy legs and oversized ears. It hopped all over the yard and yipped with excitement. I remember the neighbor laughing as the beagle continued to gambol in the grass. And then, suddenly, the puppy wasn't in the grass.

The car is a blur in my mind. It came down the street so fast, and that puppy had just barely put paws in the street.

Bounding, bounding, full of energy and raw joy...

And, just like that, it was gone.

The car never stopped.

All that was left was a streak of red. And a horrified owner, her hands up over her mouth, standing, unmoving. And a strange mix of fear and shock and embarrassment and shame -- I figured the puppy was trying to cross the street to see me. In truth, I have no idea.

All I know is, one moment the puppy was there, and then, it was gone. For years, I had flashbacks to that sudden, senseless death.

And then, they faded.

But, in that second when I crushed my dog's paw beneath my bike - so fast - first the front tire, then the back, dear god, it all came back. I shook like a leaf as I fell off my bike, my legs wobbling under me. I swept Termite up into my arms and cradled her shrieking form, running all the way home. I'm not sure how my bike got back to the house. Probably a neighbor walked it home for me.

Her paw was swollen, tiny bones broken and flesh so bruised, but there was little a vet could do. She limped and yipped in pain for days, and, as her fur grew, her paw turned to snow white, a permanent reminder of what I had accidentally done to her. For her part, bless her small but loyal brain, Termite seemed to not remember how it had happened and that I was the culprit. Either that, or she simply did not blame me for her injury. Even as she limped those first weeks, she still followed me to the garage and wagged her little stub, waiting for me to put her in the basket for another go. But I just couldn't do it. We took long walks and she ran next to my bike, but I never took her for another ride. Mom's big "trike" would fulfill all her bike-riding needs.

She was a good dog. If you howled, you could get her to sing. It drove my mom nuts, but it was hilarious to watch her tilt her head to the sky and answer some call deep in her canine DNA. She put up with kids dressing her up and me trying to teach her tricks. She slept at the foot of my bed and would wake me up with prods, pokes, loud panting, and the occasional polite yip of reminder that she really, really needed to go outside now, thank you.

She was a faithful companion for many years, patient and affectionate, and very mellow, except when the phrase "wanna go out?!?" was tossed her way. Then she became a bouncing, barking spring on furry feet. I would miss her so when I left for Mac in 1984.

I remember each time I came home from college. I could hear her cry as I approached the front door, and through the screen, I would always see that frantically wiggling tail stump before anything else. She was always so happy to see her family come home. Sometimes so happy she'd pee on your feet on the front steps as she talked out out her warbling welcome.

By the time I was a sophomore in college, Termite was an old dog. Grey and white had crept over her form, she was slow and clearly in arthritic pain. Her eyes had grown cloudy, and her personality altered. She was tired. The year my father died, she had started to become incontinent and snappy. Hers was a rapid decline. The week after my father died, Mom had colon cancer surgery. When she came home, weak and sick, Termite was snapping at her, blindly getting under Mom's uncertain feet, and leaving messes that Mom slipped in. The happy dog with the wiggly tail had been replaced by this one, angry, confused, and ill.

It was time.

I remember the day we put her down so clearly. My mother was having post-surgery problems and she was restless, sleeping in her freshly empty bed only for minutes at a time and then waking in distress. Mom wanted to sit in her recliner in the living room, and, en route, she slipped and fell in another mess poor Termite had left behind in our dark hallway. When I went to find Termite and take her outside, she snapped at me and bit my hand, her face curled into a snarl that had become more common in those late days.

My brother was called up from his basement room to take our dog away. Mom sobbed -- it was the first time I'd really seen her break. She was always so strong, but between my father's death, the cancer, and now, the failing of a faithful friend, she was weak. "I can't do it anymore!" She cried, her whole body shaking. "She can't do it anymore!" When I heard Mom say this, gasping through her tears, I wept like a baby, losing all composure.

My brother was furious that he was being dispatched as the executioner. He was an angry man in general back then, and his emotions had a hair trigger. He yelled that it should be my job to do, as I had grown up with Termite. Maybe he was right. And, had Mom not needed my help with her surgical wounds, I probably would have gone in his place. But Ed did not have any aptitude to attend to a fresh colostomy on an traumatized older woman.

Ed was still swearing at me and Mom as he left the house. Termite did not snap at my brother when he picked her up to take her to the car. Her stump of a tail wiggled in anticipation of the ride -- it was as if, for one final moment, our happy dog had returned.

Ed was back in an hour. Termite was gone. My brother didn't speak to us for days, and I was left with such guilt and anger for so long. Had we done the right thing? Should we have kept struggling with her declining health? Our cat, Tuptim, ruler of the roost, looked for her dog day after day after day. She would sit at the top of the stairs to our basement, calling in this wailing yowl for hours at a time, coming as close to weeping as I think a cat can, waiting for Termite to answer.

She missed her dog.

We all did.

It took me a long time to set aside my feelings of guilt. In the end, our little friends depend upon us to make the right decisions for them. And for us. And, in the cold equations of life, an infirm, angry, elderly dog around a infirm, aging, blind woman with poor balance presents little choice.

Awww, crap. Made myself cry. Dang it!

Poor dog. Little friend. You with your tiny stump frantically wagging at the door whenever I came home. So loyal and so true. You were robbed by age and infirmity, and someone else had to choose for you.

Man, I still miss you.

I'll leave you, dear reader, with this song -- a tribute to another four-legged friend. And if I've made you sad, the last couple of seconds of this video will make you smile.