October 26, 2018
Suffering in Silence
Toodles is resting. She just had another toe amputated for cancer. This is her fourth amputation, two on one paw, one on another, and now this one. She is wobbly but resilient.
One thing about Toodles is her silence. She rarely barks. You know it is serious when she does. She barks about once a year. Which is compensated by her partner in Crime, Maisy. She is a silent sufferer. Her face is hard to read the emotions. We project what we think she is thinking,which has developed into the Toodles voice.
For years, we have made up the Toodles voice, which in our imaginations is close to that of Pinky from Pinky and the Brain. Maisy is the Brain. She is the evil one, the terrorist, the terrier. Little Miss Bossy. Toodles is the Recalcitrant Poodle, She Who Always Brakes, the pure breed without papers.
She is the undocumented Pedigree Standard Poodle.
Toodles was the runt of the litter. When we got her at 8 weeks, she was 4 lbs. Not much more than big eyes, fur and bones. And poop, which she loved to eat. So hungry that she ate her own poop.
I have jokingly called her My Sub-Standard Poodle, as she is a bit smaller than a real Standard. More of an apartment size dog. Even at close to 50 lbs, she thinks she is a lap dog. "I's only a little dog." We think she says in the silly Toodles voice we made up.
My daughter named her Toodles. That was a phrase my wife's father always used when we would leave, Toodles! As in Toodle-OO. Toodles the Poodle. The comic potential was always a part of being a poodle parent.
Her disposition is sweet, but relentlessly solicitous. She nudges you with her wet nose, until you pet her head, tell her she is beautiful, etc. She does that with all of us, and any stranger that comes to the house. She insinuates herself, until you accept her advances, or have to actually push her away. Which is only a stalling method, as she always comes back to try again. No does not mean no to this poodle. No means if I just wait a bit, they will forget how obnoxious I am.
Toodles also has a dark secret and shame that she likes to keep hidden. We think she walks upright in the apartment when we are away. Nothing is safe from her inquisitive search. Her special predilection is panties. Panties from females. She has eaten the crotch from underwear for years now. We think that she considers herself a French Designer of Crotchless underwear. Recently, she expanded her repertoire to men's boxer briefs. My daughter says Toodles is now gender fluid. It is a new line of open-face boxers for the man that is always ready to "show and go". Not everyone's taste, but unlike my female housemates, I saw the ingenious method to her madness. These could come in handy some day. Or so I thought, until getting ready for work one morning, when I reached into the drawer to grab yet another pair of black boxer briefs, only to be surprised the one I selected was the Open Face, which can be a bit "drafty", and certainly not appropriate for a work environment, where keeping your junk secure and hidden is a prerequisite. Still, I did not throw them out.....
We are not sure of the reason for the cancer, although apparently it is common in black dogs, in particular Poodles and Black Labs. Everyone has their weaknesses, and the toe is Toodles' Achilles Heel. Still, she is a noble beast, and a proud warrior (beware squirrels- here comes the Mighty Poodle-Hunter). I would write more, but there is a wet nose nudging me.
August 6, 2018
Floating, buzzing, ringing in the new you
Floaters appear to us as black strings, webs, spectral films, dots and specks. They float in our field of vision as we move our eyes, in particular, after a certain age.
They are constantly moving; you can't follow them as they appear to move away when you try to focus on them.
These ghostly friends are caused by changes that occur as we age, as the jelly inside our eyes becomes more liquid.
Tinnitus is the high pitched, constant, non-stop ringing and buzzing in our ears competing with normal sounds around us. Every day, it seems to get louder, more insistent.
So here we are. Floaters in our eyes. Ringing in our ears. Short term memories missing, fleeting or faulty. Introductions are made, and by the time we have gone around the circle, there is no idea who these people are, what was said, and why you are even standing there.
What about the hair that grows in all the wrong places, requiring Herculean daily efforts to hold back the conversion from man to wolf in daylight hours?
Is there something we can take? Some kind of tincture, potions, creams, sprays? Go ask Gwyneth.
We have pills to reduce cholesterol from building up in arteries, pills to hold back the evil thoughts and hopefully control the chemicals in our brains from pulling us under the black water we are soaking in, pills to boost the thyroid, adrenalin to suppress the appetite, and everyday, there is more gas, grease, blood, excess liquids, accumulation of fluids and fatty deposits.
Yet no pills exist to remedy shallow bank accounts. We have dope, but no hope.
We have creams for fungus, creams for the sun, creams for pain, creams to remove hair, or help hair grow. Lubricants to make it wet, made it hard, make it go away. Wax to hold things in place.
We have sprays to freshen up, to disinfect, sprays that also hold things in place. Yet we no longer have places, we refuse to know our place. We go where we are not invited, and we don't leave when asked.
We have scents to replace the one's we generate. But no scents to give us a sense of wonder, a sense that we have less sense that we need in a world that is ever more senseless.
We have drinks to give us energy, drinks to take away the pain, drinks that cause only pain.
And we have weed. We have weed killers. We have buzz killers, we have bug killers, we have pesticides, herbicides, parasites, fratricide, suicide and more sides to be on. Did you want an extra side with that? We have insides on the outs, and outsides that we try to control like insides.
We have drugs that kill, prescriptions to fill, drugs that help increase our fertility, drugs that help maintain an erection, but no drugs that can reduce collusion in our elections.
We have printed today's post in large print.
July 29, 2018
Public Swimming Notes
I am at the public swimming pool. There are parents here with their children. These parents, some of them are dressed like children themselves. It is like there are larger children watching over the smaller ones, except the large children have stretch marks. A woman rubs sunscreen over her pale pierced belly. A man is sleeping in a fetal position on a plastic chaise lounge, his knee resting over the armrest.
There are men with more hair on their backs than on their heads. Generally, the women are more attractive than the men; in that they have made an effort of sorts. The men, not so much.
Children are everywhere screaming, riding the foam noodle, beating each other with foam paddle boards, firing water cannons at strangers. The lifeguard announces that if anyone is parked in the ballpark parking lot, they will be towed after 4pm. It is already 4 pm, so panic ensues. Immediately five men line up in front of the lifeguard to go over their own personal situations, explaining where their exact parking space was and questioning if the announcement still affected them. No one had listened to the more general message other than to register the "what's that?" Something about parking and towing. Hey, am I getting towed? The men want a personal ruling on their particular situation.
It is interesting how the women who wear the skinny bikinis with the slim bottoms, you know, the ones where half their ass is pouring out of the bottom, are constantly readjusting, hitching up and pulling down, daring the small piece of clothing to cover more space than it is physically designed to cover. Yeah, they want to show off their cute little butts, but not that much. Most men are sporting the long shorts favored by the California skate punks. The trunks match their backwards ball caps. Tattoo R Us are here with a stand, offering permanent tattoos to children. Parents are lining up to get their kids tattooed. You must be under this height to qualify.
There are a few short people with signs who are protesting this unfair discrimination. The preeminent sound in the air is screaming. As a parent of a child who is already grown up, I wonder if muzzles would have any effect. I can already hear the protests against the muzzling of children in public spaces. To muzzle or leave unattended in the car in this abnormal heat.
A young Chinese man is wearing skintight long shorts with noticable bulge as he exits the water. He tries to adjust his suit, and failing this, proceeds to do a few pushups in the shallow end of the kiddie pool. As I look down to write this, and then look up, he has vanished into thin air.
Another man is jumping on one leg, while shaking his head to the sides, to release the water in his ears. A young toddler is dressed in a full body suit with sun bonnet. Obviously, the mother is terrified of the sun. If there was any way to further cover her child, she would be first in line.
It is always interesting to watch the new arrivals to the pool, after you have staked out your space. They look around in vain for a space, then try to change out of their summer clothes, to reveal the bathing suit beneath. Undressing in public has its own painful shame, featuring the one-legged dance to reinforce modesty while asserting the social fears of judgement. Is this what they look like at home?
After about an hour in the sun, with a few dips into the cool shallow wading pool to cool down, we pack up to go home. The last challenge is deciding which entrance to the changing rooms to take. There are no signs above the doors, but if you look in, you see WOMEN. Ok, I don't go in there. Next entrance says MEN with smaller type that states Trans People Welcome. Which is ok with me. But as I walk down the aisle, I see women and men and children, and the whole segregation of the sexes that I have grown up with has descended into anarchy, where anything goes. Basically, people dry off their wet clothes, putting their dry clothes over the wet ones, as this is the new compromise.
At the entrance, I wait for my wife who has found some kind of place for a shower. I wait at the entrance, looking at the signs for fees. Adults are $6.40, but if you buy a pass of 10 tickets, it is $48.00, but if you come with people who you can dentify as your "Family", the admission is $3.70 each. Clearly, there were gaps in my education. Math used to be more straightforward. A man at the counter is asking about the towing. Yes, cars are towed after 4 pm if you are parked in the ballpark parking. Yeah, that is where I am. I say, it is 4:30, so you may want to get out there soon.
Later at dinner, we discuss a friend who teaches creative writing at the University. They have students who bring their translator to the meetings with the professor. This is an English creative writing course. One would think that English was a prerequisite.
As I prepare the perfect gin and tonic, sweating in my apartment, looking at the dogs spread out on the cool laminate floor, I ponder the dearth of creative math classes that we so clearly need to navigate this new world.
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