dog poop

Exhaustion: It’s What’s for Dinner. and Celebration!

On the road, parenting style.

On the road, parenting style.

On Friday morning, Husband, Art Child, and I got in the car to head north for Man Child’s college graduation.  College! Graduated!  I did it!!!  Err, I mean, Man Child did it. And in all seriousness, he did it well.  Congratulations to you!  Naturally, life being what it is here on the Fringe, Nerd Child and all his stuff needed to be picked up from his school on the same day, a mere three and a half hours from where Man Child was graduating.

So we drove.

I've always had a thing for log houses. Wonder how one will look on the beach in HI. ;)

I’ve always had a thing for log houses. Wonder how one will look on the beach in HI. 😉

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You have reached your (first) destination!

You have reached your (first) destination!

Lovely petunias in flower boxes outside our motel room–a mere one state away from where the college actually is.  Apparently the good mommies book their rooms six-nine months in advance, the fringe mamas end up 35 minutes away, across state lines, and pay a completely unreasonable amount of money for one of the most questionable motel rooms I’ve ever stayed in.  Not to fear, we shooed the five bees we found in the room back outside to the flowers, and established that one of the five lamps in the room was indeed working. Then Husband got back on the road to pick up Nerd Child while Art Child and I rested (or in my case, waited for the painkillers to kick in so I could straighten up),  got ready for the evening’s festivities, and sent panicked texts to Man Child regarding who would pick us up to take us to the school. His college puts on a lovely graduation, splitting it into two days so you’re never sitting for an unreasonable amount of time.

Man Child and Miss Music picked us up, I admired his new blazer, he admired my new (to him) cane, and we arrived in time for the dinner and speeches.

Thank you weather gods, for not being too hot or rainy.

Thank you weather gods, for not being too hot or rainy.

IMG_4181This is a small, arts focused but not arts exclusive liberal arts college.  I met several of Man Child’s friends–so full of talent, energy, and optimism.  Dancers, artists, biochemists, one I’m certain has a great future ahead of her in comedy writing, another who’s written a Japanese opera. Together this means I saw some fabulous fashion, spectacular hair colors, had plenty of vegetarian options to choose from, and *drumroll* Gloria Steinem was the featured guest speaker. Can a 40,000 year old woman squeal and fangirl? Yes, yes she can.

First the speaker from the senior class gave her speech. Clever, well timed, full of hope and witty comments about attending a not-quite traditional school that prizes individualism. This young woman is a writer, graduating from a school that has more than a few successful and prize winning writers among its alums. During her time at the school, in addition to her coursework she finished a novel and interned at a literary agency.

This is about when I started becoming very interested in the structure of the tent.  So much harder for the glassy eyes and sniffling nose to become full-on sobs when trying to determine how the cloth is joined to the poles.



Then Ms. Steinem spoke.  I’ll be honest, she could have stood and read her grocery list and I’d have applauded and proclaimed her brilliance. C’mon, Gloria Steinem, forty feet in front of me! But she didn’t read her grocery list, and her speech was wonderful, inspiring to the young people (men and women) sitting and listening. I was thrilled to listen, but I’ll be honest again. I didn’t feel inspired. I felt smaller, further on the fringe, more frayed and broken. Plain old old. After telling everyone I hoped to meet her, when the speeches ended I walked away from the line formed immediately by those who wanted a chance to meet and take a photo with her.

After a few minutes of fresh air, Man Child encouraged me to go back and get on line. I realized there were just as many moms waiting as graduates, so I summoned my old mosh pit moves and got on line. We joked and waited, and then I was face to face with this woman who represents so much. Not only what she did do, but what she continues to do. I said hello and told her how pleased I was to meet her, and mentioned that I had told a mutual friend how much I was looking forward to this opportunity. She politely asked who the friend was and how I know her. And that’s where I metaphorically found myself on my face. Not my friend’s name, of course. But she’s someone I met through dog walking. I walked her dogs for years, she herself is a known, successful, talented journalist and feminist, and we have become friends.   Standing there, though, surrounded by all that youth and hope and talent; with this successful, brave, powerful woman in front of me, the only image in my mind was dog shit in the rain–and rejection letters oddly addressed, “Dear Fraudulent Feminist,”  I mumbled something about dog walking and fringiness, grimaced for the photo and slunk off.

When we got back to the motel, Nerd Child and Husband had arrived, and were already 2/3 asleep. I pretended for a few minutes that I’m a reasonably mature and graceful woman before Man Child and Miss Music headed back to school and I collapsed into the sleep of self-pity.

It rained all night, and was still quite cool and gray in the morning. Somehow, New England manages to be bright and beautiful even under cloud cover.

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The commencement ceremony itself was beautiful, and aptly positioned (for us) right outside the financial aid office.

Afterwards, of course, were more photos, and a celebratory lunch. Once again the deadbeat mom, it hadn’t occurred to me that in a small town, reservations would be needed way in advance when an entire senior class was there with their families, all going out to eat. We ended up back across the state border, in a restaurant not far from the motel we had stayed the night before.  While having lunch, Man Child brought it up.  Yeah, we know each other well enough that he knew all the speeches and creative youth would hit that melancholy nerve in my heart.  You can’t stay mired in self pity on such a beautiful occasion, and when you have an adult child who knows you well enough, and cares enough to acknowledge mom as a person. Said our goodbyes, then headed to yet another state to drop off Nerd Child at a friend’s–because they were going back to their school the following morning to cheer on senior friends for graduation (not theirs, thankfully, that’s next year).  With any luck the contents of his dorm room will find their way out of the car and into his bedroom before the end of the week.

We couldn’t be more proud of Man Child.  It isn’t easy to be a kiddo raised on the fringe.  For whatever opportunities he’s had, help and sacrifices offered and acknowledged, it sucked to be the one listening to classmates talk about fabulous vacations, watch others go off on school year abroad while he plowed through. He’s worked hard, not just in the classrooms but outside; connecting with others, joined the greater community and created opportunities for himself.  I’m hoping he enjoys this summer in New England, continuing to work in the restaurant he’s worked in for the past three years, now as a new graduate. He’s heading to Italy in the fall, so exciting!  Bottom line, he’s doing what I wish for all three of my children; not living by “I will,” all too quickly followed by “I would’ve/should’ve,” but living by “I am.”  May your future blogs never include the tag “downward mobility,” in any language. All the best and all my heart, Man Child, not just on ceremonial days, but every day.


Rough Waters

Waterfall near Eyvindarmul

Waterfall near Eyvindarmul (Photo credit: martin_vmorris)

Wow.  This has been a great stretch for Flower Child, which is awesome.  Unfortunately, not a great stretch for me.  Truly, if it’s not one thing it’s another.

I was doing well, working that yoga routine every day.  But exercise is a funny thing, kind of addictive.  The more you do, the more you want to do.  So I added some aerobics to the yoga.  A little step, a little boxing.  I love the boxing,  you really feel the work out, and it makes me feel powerful.  Just in case you’re starting to be impressed, don’t be.  This is all done with the Wii Fit, no real gyms, yogis, or boxing gloves involved.

Boxing gloves Español: Guantes de boxeo França...

Boxing gloves Español: Guantes de boxeo Français : Gants de boxe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First day, second day, third day, great.  Oh, that fourth day, the one where you’re feeling cocky, “I can do this, I will do this, I am what-the-heck-was-that!” Ok, pulled something in my back.  Not good, but not terrible, take a couple of days off from the yoga and aerobics, no problem.  And it was going that way.  By early yesterday I was feeling improvement.  But.  Then I did something.  Like stood up.  Or turned.  Or breathed.

And triggered an unwanted acquaintance. This isn’t a pulled, sore muscle, this is fire and ice nerve pain that runs from my neck to my foot, it hurts to sit, stand, or lie down.  Walking is a lot of fun.  Every so often I’ll step down to feel like someone just plugged me into a wet socket. Whee!  This morning, I actually called a physiatrist I’ve seen in the past.  In keeping with the frozen white waters I’ve been skidding along, she had a personal emergency, no appointments until next Monday.

This morning I was limping behind the beasts when a car stopped at a light right next to us.  A perfectly respectable looking woman discreetly made up and salon perfect hair dye, I’m guessing in her mid fifties, sitting in her silver Volvo.  With Tom Petty blasting through the cracked back passenger window.  Yes.  A perfect moment, perfect song while I tried to figure out how to balance myself so I didn’t fall over while picking up the poop.

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Dumb Dogs

Innocent, I tell ya--and dumber than a box of rocks.

Innocent, I tell ya–and dumber than a box of rocks.

Everyone talks about how smart dogs are.  I don’t get it, and I’m a dog lover.  I know, I know, your dog is brilliant, it’s just my dog.  I’ve had multiple dogs over the years, and between friends’ dogs and dog walking, have known many, many others very well.  Mixed breeds, “designer” breeds (aka mutts), rescue dogs, purebreds.

I think my understanding of “smart” is too limited, I only comprehend it as it applies to people.  And as intelligence is applied to people, dogs aren’t very smart.  They’re cute, loving, protective, smooshable, eager to please, but not intelligent.

Some dogs care a lot about pleasing their owners, keeping us happy.  These are often the dogs considered the smartest, because they learn the most commands.  Then there are the food motivated dogs, who will do anything in the hopes of a treat.  Food motivated dogs are also among the dumbest, because they will eat anything that could be food, once held food, might once have sat in the same garbage bag as food.

Yesterday I was walking a dog, and we stopped for a light.  Dog starts rooting in a snowbank.  Fine, lots of dogs have fun with the snow, like to roll in it, burrow their snouts in it, eat it.  The light changes, we cross the street.  Get to the other side, and I notice the dog has something out of his mouth.  Hmmm. I pay attention, especially if I know the dog is one likely to eat stuff off of the street, but it does occasionally happen.  Is that his collar, did it come off?  No, collar is still on.  My general rule of thumb is not to stick my hand into any dog’s mouth if it isn’t my dog.  Dogs really don’t like it when you stick your hand in their mouth.  I don’t care how friendly the dog is.  If he/she thinks you’re trying to pull a tasty prize out of their mouth, they’re likely to bite.  Because they’re dogs.  I’m paid to pick up dog shit and give the dog some exercise, some company and petting, maybe food and water, not offer myself as a chew toy.

I determine this thing hanging from the dog’s mouth is definitely a strap of some sort, with a small metal loop at the end.  Looks like the kind of thing used to attach babies’ children’s mittens.  Crap.  Can’t let the dog eat a strap.  And metal!  I tell the dog to drop it, leave it, try offering a treat instead.  No dice.  What the hell is this dog doing?  He isn’t chewing or biting, he’s…sucking.  Yes, the dog was sucking on the pacifier at the other end of the strap.  Sigh.


Pacifier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yeah, yeah, got it all away from Einstein and threw it away safely.

Then last night, Little Incredibly Dumb Dog started acting even weirder than usual.  Jumping and barking on Man Child (she’s decided he’s the one who should take care of her needs).  We see no problem, she seems ok, then curls up and goes to sleep.  Fifteen minutes later she’s squatting on the living room floor.  Umm, NO!  I pick her up and bring her to the pad.  By the second nugget the problem was apparent.

Flower Child has very, very long hair.  She doesn’t want any hairs in her brush, ever.  This leaves me finding hairs wherever she might have been when she picked up the brush.  She does try to remember to throw it away, but sometimes, well, sometimes.  Little Incredibly Dumb Dog thinks anything produced by any of our bodies is delicious.  She races to the bedroom when Flower Child wakes up each the morning, to steal those yummy used tissues out of the bag next to the bed.

So that left my little fluff ball, working hard to only semi-successfully evacuate a gut full of doggie gumbo and knitted by her intestinal tract hair.  Yes, yes, I helped her, all better now.  Emergency bath of her back end.

Tell me again how smart these beasts are.

No Dog Poop

No Dog Poop (Photo credit: Sweet One)

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Dog Poop Picker Upper

Poop Scooping Bag Instructions

Poop Scooping Bag Instructions (Photo credit: reinvented)

Last night I was out with Fatigue for Friday Night Madness.  While we waited for our beers to arrive, we caught each other up on the bits and pieces of the last couple of weeks since we were last out.  I talked at him, telling him what’s happening with my writing, he talked at me, telling me what’s happening with his singing.  A nice evening, the bar wasn’t too crowded, all our favorite waitresses were working, and as usual, the customers were a cross section of our neighborhood.  $16 a pint hipsters sitting at one table with a table of $5 pitcher drinkers next to them.

I was pleased to have a funny story to share with Fatigue.  Earlier in the day I was cruising the writer’s forum, and came across a thread looking for some ideas for humiliating jobs that a character might have.  Jobs that would be super embarrassing, easy targets for being looked down upon, lots of opportunity for humor.  Yanno where I’m headed with this, right?

English: Pooper scooper detail at end of the C...

English: Pooper scooper detail at end of the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No less than three people volunteered the idea of dog poop picker upper.  Now it’s true, lots of opportunity for comedy in this, and it doesn’t have quite the same ring as “My Son The Doctah,” but we all do what we have to do.  Fatigue is a singer, who walks dogs to pay his rent.  Mrs Fringe is a Mama, a writer, and walks dogs to put the pharmacist’s kid through college.  Yes, dog poop picker uppers.  Try not to be jealous, as we spend our days skipping through the rain and snow, laughing and examining dog poop. Sure it’s a shitty job, but someone’s got to do it. *rimshot*

But we were laughing last night, assuming the posters were young enough to not intend any harm or insult.  It’s innocence, to see these types of jobs as throwaway.  We ate, and then chatted for a bit with one of the waitresses.   The one who serves us beer on Friday nights so she can continue working on her doctorate during the day. Bar maid, ditch digger, lawyer, nit-picker and poop picker upper, we all do what we can and what we have to.  Everyone has a story,  whether we’re living life on the fringe, or just appear to be.

Cheers, Fringelings!

English: Paulaner Dunkel

English: Paulaner Dunkel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did You Make Your Bed Today?

my messy busy bed

my messy busy bed (Photo credit: pequeña esquimal)


I didn’t.  In fact, I never do–other than when I change the sheets.  To be honest, my bed doesn’t look like the photo above, there’s plenty of room for me.


But what makes someone feel the need to make their bed every day?  Serious question.  When I wake up and leave the room, that’s it.  I usually don’t go in there again until…bedtime.   So why would I make the bed?


Flower Child loves to make her bed.  She does a great job straightening the blankets, arranging pillows, and sculpting still life portraits out of her stuffies.  I can’t help but wonder what makes someone find that a necessary part of daily chores, or even appealing.  Wanting the house to be clean, I understand.  Keeping the house neat and organized, also understood.  I wish I had enough room to be neat and organized, it feels good to walk into a space that’s calm and not overcrowded.  But I have never found it to make me feel better or worse to have the bed made.  It isn’t embarrassing to me if someone comes over, because I don’t entertain in my bedroom.  If someone is over, and does have a reason to come into my room, well, it’s my bed.  Is sleeping considered something embarrassing we’re supposed to pretend we don’t do?


You know all those “you’ll sees” and “you’ll understand whens” you heard from your mother when you were growing up?  Some of them, I knew I would never see, or understand.  I am a totally different personality than my mother was.  Other things, like being compelled to make the bed each morning, I kept waiting for them to kick in.  Never happened.


New bed

New bed (Photo credit: – Annetta -)

My unmade bed and I are very happy.

Last night when I walked the beasts it was freezing. The wind gusts were so strong, when I walked towards the corner to throw the poop bag away, the public trash can was actually lifted and flipped upside down by the wind.  Weird, scary, and kind of cool.

This morning before the traffic got heavier, I heard birds.  Not pigeons, birds.  Spring is coming!


Freezing In a Puddle of Sweat

Frozen Hydrant

Frozen Hydrant (Photo credit: FlySi)

It’s freezing in the Northeast this week. Specifically, it’s freezing here in the city.  Seeing as how it’s January, not a surprise, but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant.  This is the time of year when Mrs Fringe wakes up and says a prayer of thanks to the inventor of long underwear, quickly followed by a daydream about Bora Bora.

Layer up, take the dogs for a walk, come back home and work intricate algebraic equations trying to determine how many layers it makes sense to remove when I have to go back out to take Flower Child to school in 30 minutes.

Shouldn’t be too much of a problem, right?  Put on 50 layers and stop whining.  Come on over to my apartment, sit down, I’ll make you a cup of coffee and you’ll defrost in no time.  In fact, you’ll defrost so quickly your fingers and toes will experience a lovely burning tingle before you register you aren’t numb anymore.  Then your nose will plug and buzz from the dry heat being pumped up at outrageous levels through the radiators.  You’ll start to shift uncomfortably on the couch, as beads of sweat pop up, try to roll freely down your lumps and bumps, but instead get trapped by the aforementioned long underwear.   We’ll engage in some witty repartee.

You’ll say, “Holy shit! It’s hot in here.”

I’ll agree, try to explain that these tall buildings send a tremendous amount of heat in the winter in order for the heat to reach the top floors; and to make life bearable for the senior citizens who live on those top floors, with their thin skin, all alone in their four bedroom apartments.  “Would you like me to open the terrace door a little wider for some fresh air?”

Three minutes will pass, you’ll be on the couch doing what looks like the pee dance once more, look miserably at the open terrace door when the sweat under your bra line freezes the wire to your skin, and wonder if it would be unreasonable to ask me to close it a little.

Two more minutes will pass, you’ll mumble something, unable to think of and verbalize a coherent excuse in your stupor, then you’ll stumble out the door.

I will do what looks like a happy dance when the door closes, but is actually a contortionist act, removing several layers.  Cooler, and gives me access to scratch, scratch, scratch at my skin, the dryness from the indoor heat leaves me itching like a 3 year old with chicken pox.  I decide it’s just as reasonable to scratch off the top 8 layers of skin as it is to take off the top 8 layers of cold weather gear.

News Flash--Heat Bad for Productivity

News Flash–Heat Bad for Productivity (Photo credit: moria)

Oh yeah, now I’m feeling comfortable.  I make a cup of tea, dance around in my long johns because it’s silly, and then have a productive hour or two where I write.  Time to layer up and walk the dogs again.  The cold air in the lobby feels great by the time I get off the elevator.  Sadly, standing outside in 11 degree temps while the dogs sniff around, not so great.  Bring the dogs back up, take off layers, half an hour or so to putter, or clean, make a shopping list or call in med refills.  Put layers on, go to the grocery store. Come home, top few layers off, put groceries away.

Layers on, walk to the school to pick up Flower Child.  Grateful for the fur hat I got from my mother.  Yes, yes, fur is bad, it isn’t politically correct, but it is warm. Arrive at school, wonder if my fingers are in fact frostbitten.  Get the girl, walk to the train station, look enviously at the lady hailing a cab in a full length mink. Go down the steps, wait for train on the 500 degree platform.  Get home to the 87 degree apartment, rip off layers from myself and the girl.  Make her hot chocolate and assess if her temperature is coming back up to her normal range within a reasonable time frame.  Do what needs to be done, homework, dinner prep, etc.

Oh look, it’s time to walk another dog.  Layers back on, trek to pick up the dog,  walk along the edge of the park.  I eye the dog, and ponder how I would look in a mutt coat.  Is there enough for a hood?  This hat isn’t a really good fur, and doesn’t sit too snug, so the frigid air is wrapping an ace bandage of dried sweat from the overly hot apartment around my head.  Time to walk home.  By now my brain is frozen, and I’m hallucinating a polar bear.  You know the sweet, sad one from the Central Park Zoo, lives on Prozac? I’m ready to disembowel said polar bear with the daggers that are my icicle fingers, and drape myself head to toe with the still steaming skin.

English: A male polar bear

English: A male polar bear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Go home, do the evening thing, alternate sweating with standing shivering on the terrace, unwilling to strip down to the long johns yet, because I still have to walk my dogs for the night. Dog poop is super easy to pick up when it comes out already frozen.

Move Over on that Cross, Will ya?

Painting image of Joan of Arc

Painting image of Joan of Arc (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Checking my email this morning, I saw one of my favorite discount stores is having a sale. Today. One day only.

I needed gloves. It’s freezing out. I bought a pair last month, and they look fun in an ugly kind of way, but they’re a loose knit, no fingers, not even a thumb.  Why did I buy them? They were $6! Sure I saw practical, warm, pretty gloves too, but those were $50.  6 vs 50, on a day when it wasn’t too cold yet, no contest. Sure I’m a lifelong New Yorker, and understood it wasn’t going to stay 50* outside, but 6 dollars!

Once I dropped Flower Child off at school, I walked to the store. This left me standing in the cold for half an hour before they opened.  OK it was 25 minutes, I guess the manager  felt sorry for me and the other fools waiting for them to unlock the doors. The selection was pitiful, but I was determined to take advantage of the 25% off coupon slipping through my icicle fingers. Found a pair. Not what I really wanted. I was imagining something elegant or funky, interesting color, super warm pair with a touch screen fingertip.  I found warmer than what I’ve got, no touch screen fingertip, and I’m not really sure if they’re navy or black.

I’m in the store where it’s warm, not overly crowded, and agonizing over whether I should buy this pair of gloves, or wait and keep looking until I find the perfect pair at the perfect price on a day when I’ve got money in my pocket.  I’m sure you can all now understand why I own a very limited wardrobe. I decide to look around the store.  It really is a very good sale, and there are several things I could use.  I look at dresses.  I found this super cute wine colored knit–with sleeves! (why do they sell sleeveless winter dresses in the Northeast?)–my size, no obvious rule it out defects, for a very reasonable $50.  It’s just my kind of dress (though not a color I usually like), nice, practical, fine for a regular day but if I had an appointment for tea with the Queen I could put some beads around my neck with a nicer pair of shoes and look fine.

Portrait of a group of ladies at a tea party, ...

Portrait of a group of ladies at a tea party, Charters Towers (Photo credit: State Library of Queensland, Australia)

Don’t forget the 25% off coupon! I picked up the dress and carried it all over the store, inspecting everything else I wasn’t going to buy. I looked at coats.  I would love to have a warm down coat for everyday use. I spend a lot of time outside walking, and do not enjoy cold weather. At. All.

I have a coat I bought several years ago at another discount store. I hadn’t been coat shopping in a long time prior, and was shocked by the prices. So shocked, I called my mother to rant. She laughed at me, and I bought the cheapest one I could find.  Sure it’s down, but apparently it’s only got 3 feathers, because I’m shivering in it the second the temperature drops below 45*. I’ve got a fabulous and fabulously warm shearling I got when my Grandmother died, but I don’t like to wear it. It’s the only really nice coat I’m ever likely to own, and I feel kind of silly when I wear it.  Here I’m living this crazy broke-ass life; picking up dog poop in a shearling?  I’m like a character from a Depression era movie, “Well, de-ah, I’ve fallen on haahrd times.”

I put the dress back. Bought the boring but reasonably priced and warmer than what I’ve got gloves, and punished myself by walking home, instead of taking the train.  Why? I dunno, it’s the martyr instinct.  I’ve got it, and so do many of the women I know who aren’t shopaholics. It was perfectly reasonable to put the dress back. I’ve got to buy Christmas gifts for the kiddos, and there isn’t any wiggle room in the budget. I could use a new coat, but I won’t freeze without one, I’m absolutely fine wearing layers. I like my layers. I like the look, and they make me feel shabby chic instead of shabby. I did need a pair of gloves.

So why do I feel guilty for having bought them? Besides the obvious answer that I’m a lunatic. What kind of shopper are you?

Walked past my new favorite lady in the city.

Walked past my new favorite lady in the city.

And some perfectly elegant holiday displays.

And some perfectly elegant holiday displays.

A Helluva Town

the business of garbage

the business of garbage (Photo credit: David 23)

On my way to pick up Flower Child from school, I was hungry and stopped to grab a slice of pizza.  Hey! It’s a long walk, don’t judge me. I didn’t have time to sit,  I added a heathy six ummm, three, three shakes of red pepper flakes and ate as I walked.  When I was growing up, this was a common sight, but not so much anymore. Is it Manhattan vs Brooklyn, or just different etiquette with the years? Husband always wants to sit down when he eats.  Not me; what’s the point of street food if you have to stop to eat it? Then again, I always liked to stand and walk when I was eating, my mother used to tell me I was going to get fat toes.

As I walked, I ate my slice, hopscotched around the tourists on their way to the museum, and let my mind wander.  Walking through crowded streets is a good time for mind wandering. Like being in the shower, only more reflective than creative. I remembered an incident I was going to blog about a little while back, goosed to the back of my brain by medical mayhem.

A cream Afghan Hound.

A cream Afghan Hound. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had been walking a dog through Central Park, and it was a crappy late afternoon. Cold, sporadic drizzle, one of those days where gray becomes a temperature and a barometer, something you feel in your bone marrow.

Central Park

Central Park (Photo credit: Image Zen)

I heard a small motor coming up behind me, and turned to see one of the golf cart thingies used by the Central Park Conservancy for driving along the paths, reaching different sections of the park for clean up and or maintenance.  The cart stopped just when the dog stopped to pee. The maintenance worker pulled himself out from behind the steering wheel, and grabbed a trash stick from the back.  I don’t know what they’re actually called, but it’s a long wooden stick with a sharp point or nail at the end for picking up loose trash or papers without having to touch anything nasty.

Not a glamorous job, for sure.  Then again, neither is picking up dog poop. But this guy was pissed off, stomping and muttering and then glaring at me like I represented all wrong in his life that had left him stabbing moldy juice boxes for eight bucks an hour. My writer’s mind took a stroll. If he were my character, why would he be so angry?  Big plans thwarted by having to work late? A gardener who had been demoted for poisoning pigeons? Girlfriend dumped him for some bozo with a shiny suit and a desk job? He spiked exactly one piece of paper, tossed the stick in the back of the cart, and started moving again.  By this point, I was walking again, dog veering left where the path forked. I hoped the maintenance guy would be turning right, or straight ahead towards the reservoir. No such luck, this thing was behind me again, and of course this is exactly where the dog needs to stop and poop. I’m now quite certain it wasn’t my imagination, the guy really was glaring at me.  I then began seeing the scene as an episode of Law & Order, roped off with sunshine yellow crime scene tape and the trash pick planted in my sternum.  Mrs Fringe must have been looking swell, maybe I remembered to brush my hair that morning, since he seemed to think I was someone I’m not.

Cover of "Christine (Special Edition)"

Cover of Christine (Special Edition)

Part of my mind was now hearing this cart behind me like it was Christine, Stephen King’s possessed Plymouth Fury.  Yanno, the part of me that was noticing no one else was within spitting distance. Part of me wanted to reach out and make peace? a connection? “Hey, buddy, this fancy dog isn’t mine, and I sure as heck don’t live in one of those apartment mansions across the street.” Another part of me was getting pissed off and resentful.  Fuck him. Who was he to make assumptions about who I was and what I was doing? Your life sucks? Pffft. Get in line, my friend.

I said none of the above.  I did however, begin talking to the dog, and let my Brooklyn out.  There are all levels of socioeconomic class throughout this city. Poor, destitute, working class, middle class, wealthy, and filthy rich. All can be found throughout the five boroughs.  But certain accents there’s no mistaking.  Clear as a tramp stamp, my accent says Brooklyn peasant.

Saturday Night Fever

Saturday Night Fever (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Freakin’ Dog!

Doesn’t look like she could make so much trouble, does she?

In case I haven’t been clear, I call her Little Incredibly Dumb Dog for a reason.  She is sweet and soft and smooshable, but wow. With all my doggie experience, she is the dumbest dog I’ve ever known, let alone owned.

Despite my best efforts, at over a year old she still isn’t completely housebroken.  Every couple of months I’m lulled into thinking we have found success, “hey, it’s been two weeks since she had an accident!” Inevitably, the day comes where she forgets to wait and yuck, yuck, yuck. Let’s just say my floors have never been cleaned so regularly.  Which sucks, because my floors aren’t actual hardwood, they’re a pressboard veneer so they can’t be refinished.

She also still loves to chew on things she shouldn’t. Mostly items that belong to Flower Child and me. I’m down to one clip for my hair. I am not an inexperienced dog owner, she has many toys of her own to chew on, treats, balls, regular walks, and Big Senile Dog to pester play with.

You can and do learn a lot about the neighborhood when walking dogs. One thing I’ve learned is that apparently we’ve got a huge number of folks practicing Voodoo.

Voodoo Altar, French Quarter, New Orleans

Voodoo Altar, French Quarter, New Orleans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s the only reason I can think of for the regular scattering of chicken bones on the curbs.

Well, there is that one guy who sits on the concrete fence with a styrofoam platter of chicharrones de pollo (Dominican fried chicken), but he’s always very helpful, pointing out the bones he’s tossing on the asphalt, so I can pull the dogs away.  Thanks, buddy! Seriously New York, wtf are you doing? This isn’t the ’70s anymore, there’s a trash can on every corner. Chicken bones can choke a dog, puncture their intestines, and kill them. Skipping those extremes, the bones also cause puking and excessive pooping.

So, when I woke up this morning and saw a dark oblong object on the floor next to one of the dog beds, I assumed it was a Little Dumb Dog log. This was before I’d actually made it into the bathroom to squirt some contact lens solution into my eyes, everything is kinda fuzzy for me that early in the day.

I was happy to be wrong for about a tenth of a second.  There on the floor was the chewed remnants of the bluetooth for my cell phone. I loved that thing. It made my life much easier and more convenient than Little Incredibly Dumb Dog does. Easily one of the top five gifts I’ve gotten, and it’s definitely not in the budget to replace it now.

To the moon, freakin fluffball!

Chicken Bone

Chicken Bone (Photo credit: goodiesfirst)


The Super Secret Society of NY Dogwalking

OK, not so secret.  One thing that seems to surprise tourists is how many of us here in NY have dogs.  I understand the surprise if you’re coming from a place where having a dog equals hunting or long romps through grassy fields. Big Senile Dog is such a city dog he’ll only “go” on concrete or asphalt.  Not fun when visiting friends in the country, and I’m walking my beast down an unlit road at night because he won’t poop on grass.

A special relationship, she likes to walk under him when he’s peeing outside, then we come home and she pees on his bed.

Believe it or not, most NYers are pretty friendly, just not chatty.  The exceptions come out once you’re walking your dog(s). All of a sudden, people you’ve never noticed before, and who’ve never noticed you, are stopping to say hello, how are you, tell you about their day and begin friendships.  An entirely new dimension of bonding and neighborly love becomes clear. Cause nothing says intimacy like a conversation when one or both parties are holding a bag of dog poop.

I think dog owners here are the holders of the neighborhood secrets. We know who’s sick, who’s in love, getting married, divorced, which building is about to shift from rent controlled to co-op, who lost their job. I’ve heard many stories over the years of people finding jobs through connections in the dog run.

Like a bartender recognizes people by what they drink, we recognize people by the dogs attached to them.  Sometimes I can tell you what type of dog, elimination quirks, and all about the owner’s life, but can’t for the life of me give you a physical description of the person attached to the leash.

please curb your dog

please curb your dog (Photo credit: Charley Lhasa)