Monday, February 27, 2012

the best dog in the world

Every dog owner thinks his or her dog is the best dog in the world. Well ... I have news for everyone: my dog is the best dog in the world. Yes, it is true. Victor is awesome. He’s a good boy, a cuddle bunny, and a kisser. I’d like to say he’s a lover and not a fighter, but that’s not how he rolls. He has one bad habit. He likes to eat other dogs. He has gotten into some scrapes, but c’mon, dogs are dogs. I love him nonetheless and he’s still the best dog in the world.

He is the longest relationship I have had. He’ll be ten years old in March. He stole my heart when he was four months old. My boyfriend and I had moved to Irvine, California and he worked from his Los Angeles office and "hoteled" there most weeknights to avoid the commute. This left me alone most of the week, so we decided to adopt a dog.

We adopted a German Sheppard, who was named Max. We took him back to the shelter due to major and irreversible behavioral issues. It broke my heart and I vowed never to adopt again. However, one day while running errands, my boyfriend pulled into the shelter’s parking lot and admitted that he went there the day before. He saw an adorable puppy. I didn’t want to go in. I was heartbroken over Max.

Inside the shelter walls, I stomped off to the far end of the grass and sat down. Then, I heard, “Scott! Turn around and look what’s coming!”

I turned around. He came. I saw. I was conquered.

A white puppy with a little brown ear and a little brown eye came bounding across the grass towards me. He knocked me over and kissed my face with reckless abandon. We played chase and wrestled for a little bit. My boyfriend and I had a more educated conversation with the staff about this puppy than we did about Max.

*     *     *     *     *
When we asked where he came from, we were told he was found wandering the streets of Santa Ana. I turned his being found into a silly Disney-esque story in my mind. It goes like this:

He is the eldest of a litter with several brothers and sisters. A semi-heartless man abandons them in a box, instead of bundling them in a burlap sack and throwing them in the river, forcing them to fend for themselves. The puppies are hungry. They wander through back alleys and hide behind bushes, they sniff and they scratch, but they don’t find anything substantial to eat.

Then, they smell something heavenly. They pop their heads through the bushes and see a restaurant across the street. Victor, being the oldest, tells his brothers and sisters that he will cross the street to the parking lot, search the garbage cans, and bring vittles back for each of them. They just need to wait there.

At the very moment he crosses the street, the dogcatcher’s van pulls up, the net is cast, and he is tossed in the back. His brothers and sisters gasp from the bushes and start to come to his rescue.

“Stay where you are! Don’t get yourselves caught!”

The dogcatcher closes the doors. Victor looks out the window as they pull away and calls to them.

“I’ll be back. I’ll come back and find you. I’ll come back and find you…”

My friend, Mike, has pointed out that Victor never did come back for them. Pop! That bursts that bubble. But it is true, Victor did not go back. He's good with large puppies ... I wonder if that’s why. He is gentle with them, nudges them, licks them, and tries to get them to play. He doesn't try to eat them.

*     *     *     *     *
When we asked his age and breed, they guessed he was a four-month-old Staffordshire Terrier-Lab mix. He was the cutest thing I ever saw. He had me at hello. They called him Brooklyn. Little did any of us know that soon he’d live a few miles from that exact borough of New York City.

On the way to the car to take him home, I held him because we had no collar or leash. The entire walk, he kissed my neck and face. He is a kisser. He kisses everyone. He’s a smoocher. This is how he earned some of his many nicknames, King Kissy-wisser and Smoocher Poocher, or just Smooch.

He nestled into blankets in the backseat and, after driving a bit, promptly got carsick. All the way home we discussed names. Brooklyn just wasn't right. Many names were brainstormed, but once we uttered “Victor,” it stuck. He resembled Nipper, the dog from the RCA Victor record albums; hence, his name is Victor.

Once home, he sniffed and explored. We played in the backyard sunshine for an hour or so. We both tuckered out and took a nap in the grass. I was awkened by the sounds of my grandfather snoring, but when I opened my eyes, I saw that it was my puppy. He was on his back snoring like an old man, a trait that continues to this day.

That evening, he was very sluggish and sleepy. We put him in his crate and tucked ourselves into bed. Much later, we woke up to a horrible stench and bloody sickness that was coming from both of his ends. We called the vet first thing in the morning and they asked us to come in immediately. We bundled him up, drove quickly, and walked through the vet hospital door.

It was like a slow motion Hazmat scene. Owners with dogs were asked to clear the area, we were told not to touch anything, and blue scrubs grabbed Victor and whisked him to the back. We waited in a side room until the vet came in to tell told us he had Parvo, a virus that attacks puppies. It shuts the digestive system down from both ends and most puppies die from it. There was a chance he might not live. I was horribly sad and near heartbreak again. I could not fathom that I opened my heart to another dog that I was about to lose. He stayed several days, but pulled through, and we were told he was lucky to live.

He started to thrive and grow. He went to puppy kindergarten to learn to walk on a leash, sit, lie down, stay, come, and give his paw. He rode in the car without getting carsick. He went to the beach and bit at the waves. He went to dog parks and played with most of the dogs. He went to doggy daycare. He was a hearty and robust dog and he was happy.

We moved to New York, and drove across country to get there. In Texas, we stopped at Dairy Queen for ice cream cones. At the drive through window, we were handed three cones. Victor’s eyes almost popped out of his head while he licked his very first ice cream cone.

First Walk in NYC
Beating the Heat with a Cold Compress
Yay! Winter and Snow!
He quickly acclimated to city life. He rode in a cab for the first time. He managed through summer’s heat and humidity and he loved winter’s snow. He made out with Kelly Ripa, walked along the Hudson River, and picnicked in Central Park. He lived in a new luxury building in Chelsea, a purchased apartment in Hell’s Kitchen, a rental in a Hell’s Kitchen high-rise and a fifth floor walk up, and now resides in a pre-war Upper West Side charmer near Riverside Park.
As practically perfect as Victor is, he just doesn’t get along well with most dogs. He has toy envy, snaps when he doesn’t want to play, bites for no apparent reason, and is very particular about what dog will be his friend. He’s a “people dog” more than a “dog dog.” He earned his nickname, Budget, because he breaks my bidget by having to pick up vet bills for wounds he inflicts. He once even got a $250 ticket for stalking a squirrel in Central Park!

He no longer goes to dog parks and he is rarely off leash unless I know the dogs that are also off leash. Sometimes that means he can be off leash and other times it means no way in hell. The one constant in his life is daycare. He has always gone to daycare, every Wednesday and Friday.

Waiting for Pick Up
Pets at Play, a doggie daycare in Hell's Kitchen, had figured out Victor’s playing quirks and his personality. He had no issues there. When we moved to the Upper West Side, we said goodbye to Pets at Play. Two weeks later, they called saying they missed him and offered to pick him up and drop him off so they could have him back. He would wait at the door until they arrived. He was part of their family for eight years. They loved him and Victor loved them. They recently closed and I had to find him an alternative place to go. They suggested Pawsitively Love in the Upper West Side.

Just like New York's human school system, a dog must go through an assessment process before being admitted. Having a dog with questionable tendencies makes it stressful when applying for a new "school."

Victor went in for his assessment. He met their “greeter dog,” Dante, whose responsibility it is to meet the new dog and give clues about how the new dog might behave. It's like pairing a kid with a buddy at a new school and then reporting to the principal whether they will fit in with the cool kids. Apparently, Dante doesn’t play, but instead supervises. I was told that Victor got Dante to play! And he played well with all the other dogs. He passed with flying colors.

One Tired Monkey
After two weeks without daycare he was back to his routine of social time and playtime. He comes home completely exhausted which gives me a little more free time. More importantly, it allows him to be a dog. He chews, licks, growls, barks, wrestles, eats treats, goes for walks, plays, and plays, and plays. But, so far, at daycare, he doesn’t bite.

With all his foibles and idiosyncrasies, with all the vet bills that I have paid, with all the bags of poop I have scooped, with all the cuddles, snores, and kisses I have received or given, I can honestly say that I am proud of him. He is a good dog. He is my poodle. He is my cuddle bunny. He is my monkey. He is my handsome wee beastie.

He is the best dog in the world.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

black twenty-two

When I was in second grade, a new kid came to my elementary school and I fell in love. He sat behind me and we became fast friends. He had blue eyes and brown hair. He was funny and rambunctious. He was a rough and tumble kind of kid. He was smart, good at math and good at sports.

This young love of my life and I would ride bikes in Campbell Park and to the percolation ponds to watch crawdads get pushed over the falls’ edge by the rushing water. We’d use sticks to help them along if they didn’t fall by the grace of nature. We’d play horse in the school basket ball court with the other boys. We would shriek and laugh, and climb trees, and collect bugs. We called each other best friend.

The first time I spent the night at his house, I was unaware they had cats. I had asthma and was allergic to cats. Before the night even began, it was very apparent that I couldn’t breathe. I was embarrassed to say anything because I wanted this keep this new friend so badly. I didn’t want anything to jeopardize our friendship.

My wheezing got so bad that his dad drove me home. I remember getting out of his father’s truck and his father walked me to my front door. He and my dad talked a bit as I went into my house, took my Marax and a huff off my atomizer, and then went to my bedroom and cried. I cried because I was scared he would not want to be friends anymore. A following weekend we tried again. This time I had my atomizer and Marax with me. It was a success and began a tradition of trade-off sleepovers.

We would play board games, like Battleship and Risk. We would stay up late, drink soda and eat popcorn. We would watch Creature Features and try our hardest to stay up to watch Saturday Night Live, but usually end up falling asleep. We put underwear and t-shirts on his German Shepherd just for laughs. We’d play Captain and Tennille and dress up with items from our costume box. This was the only time I have ever done drag.  

His mom always cooked the same dinner the nights that I stayed there: ham with a honey glaze, green beans with lots of butter, and au gratin potatoes. Typically, there would be pudding for dessert.

He had bunk beds. I always wanted bunk beds. He slept in the top bunk and I slept in the bottom bunk. In the morning, we would watch cartoons and his mom would make us pancakes or waffles. He taught me that peanut butter on pancakes is actually quite delicious; something that I still enjoy.

He lived across the street from Campbell High School where we would play on the track, wander the halls, or throw tennis balls from the top of the school’s theater fire escape. One adventurous day, we climbed through the broken, boarded up windows of the old Campbell Elementary School and wandered around the ghostly halls and classrooms. It was scary and interesting and dangerous. It was amazing fun!

We also spent a lot of time teasing his little sister, but found ways to include her in what we doing many times. I always tried to be generous with his little sister considering that I personally knew how older siblings could be a wee bit inconsiderate to the youngest.

One night, we were playing Casino with his little sister. I was the rich tycoon – the high roller – who was betting large and winning big. He was the card dealer and the roulette caller. She was the mysterious woman who came into the Casino and captivated the attention of all who were there. She gambled and won. She wagered hard and anteed up her cash, her furs, and her jewels.

During one rousing roulette game, the wheel spun fast, the ball put into motion, and the caller asked for all bets. I gave the caller my bet. As a high-stakes gambling man, I enjoyed how focused and direct this woman was. She was glitzy and glamorous and was clearly in need of the money. She was gambling a high stakes game and hoping for a high stakes win. She did not know that the caller and I had rigged the game to fall on numbers of my choosing. The caller and I were in cahoots and all winnings would be divided between us! Bwah hah hah hah! We had it all figured out and we going to make out like bandits off this gambling dame.

The lady, in her high-society trill with all the confidence of a seasoned winner, said “Black. Twenty Two.”

The ball spun around clockwise. The wheel whirred around counter clockwise. The tension filled the casino floor as all eyes were on the lady, her jewels on the table, and the anxious look in her eyes. The caller and I knew we were in the clear and were already scheming how we would spend our spoils.

Then the unthinkable happened. The ball slowed and plunked right into the black twenty-two cup. The lady screamed with glee and the caller and I hollered in disbelief and also in joy that his little sister actually won.

Occasionally, just to elicit laughs from each other, we’d say that phrase and giggle like it just happened yesterday. During this time of my youth, I tape recorded most interactions. I still have the cassette tape that was used to capture the entire “casino interaction,” including the statement “Black. Twenty-two.”

These types of memories continued until sixth grade when his family moved to the Pacific Northwest. Once school finished, and early in the summer months, the family moved away. The morning that they left Campbell, I rode my bike to their house. Their station wagon had suitcases and coolers inside. The moving van was packed and bolted.

I said my goodbyes to his mother and father and sister. I said good-bye to him. I gave him a card whose contents I cannot recall, but I assume it was filled with “I’ll miss you, Keep in touch, Call sometime,” kind of phrases. We hugged briefly and then the next thing I recall is standing there watching the station wagon drive down the street. I watched the car until I could no longer see it. They were gone. He was gone. I was alone.

I took my bike and walked into the Campbell High School baseball diamond dugout. I sat there and cried. I cried long and hard. I had lost my best friend. I had lost my first love. For the first time my heart was broken.

I neither heard from him nor saw him again. I am unaware of any of our childhood friends that have kept in touch with him or have heard from him.

I joined a website where you can search names, addresses, and phone numbers. I searched his name to see what would happen. Nothing. I entered his sister’s name and found her name and a phone number. I clicked a link to see family relations and saw her father and mother’s names. There was no listing of his name.

The mystery remains … what happened to him?

Maybe one day I will summon the courage to call her to see if she can put me in contact with him or at least shed light on his whereabouts. I am afraid of what I might hear. Maybe he wouldn’t want to hear from me. Maybe he doesn’t remember me. Maybe his memories of our friendship aren’t as deep and meaningful as mine.

And if I do call her, maybe I won’t get far enough to find out his fate. Maybe she won’t even remember me. But if she doesn’t remember me, maybe I can jog her memory with a little story about three little kids in a little bedroom in Campbell, California playing a little game of roulette in a big casino, with a big bet, and big win on black twenty-two.

Monday, February 13, 2012

hats, white gloves, and handbags

My mom is celebrating her 70th birthday later this week, but the festivities have begun. My sisters, their families, and I took her to dinner. It was a surprise. Well, I was the surprise. My immediate family lives in Northern California and I live in New York City, so I flew in for a few days to participate in the celebration.

When I fly, I fly direct because connections -- especially during wintertime -- are especially tricky. You never know if you'll get off the ground in New York, get out of Chicago, or be able to land in San Francisco with the weather being so screwy. Money is tight, so I had to book a connection.

I miss the days of glamorous air travel. The days when you actually dressed up to go to the airport: hats, white gloves, and handbags; suits, ties, and polished shoes. Leisurely walks to the gate, kind and cheerful gate agents. Stewards and stewardesses who smiled, shook your hand, and seemed to really, really, really mean it when they said they were happy you were on their flight.

Those days were waning when I was young, but I did get to experience them. That's when Pan Am was actually still in operation and not a retro TV show or kitschy items to buy at flea markets. That's when disaster movies like "Airport '75" ran through your head when you buckled your seat belt. When people marveled at the luxury of air travel, replete with beverages in real glasses, real meals on real plates with real metal flatware. It was a special event to fly in the air, to pass over the Gods on Mount Olympus.

Fast forward to recent years, where air travel is akin to waiting in the Port Authority Bus Terminal for the 195 to Rutherford, New Jersey. This is not a glamorous event. It's a long series of lines, a conundrum of people, lots of screaming and poorly behaved children, rude service, and a cattle call of "hurry up and wait" to get on, in a seat, and go. It's just plain gross.

After a leisurely morning, I left for Newark and arrived at the airport $75 lighter in my wallet. From front door to gate, it took 40 minutes, including getting through security. Breezy! That's kind of glamorous.

I paid $9 extra to be in boarding "group 1" so that I could be the first to shove my small duffel bag in an overhead bin. The small, two row plane (not a fan of those) wouldn't fit it and my bag had to given to the "valet". That sounds glamorous, but it's just a fancy term for "give it to the guy on the jet way and then, upon arrival, wait in line with 30 other people who had to do the same thing in order to pick it up." No real time savings there. And, I guess I really just paid $9 for no reason. That's glamorous!

I had the two-seat row to myself and since it was a quiet flight with little turbulence, I slept until Chicago. That's kind of glamorous.

Here's where the glamour stops. I arrived in Chicago and had just enough time to get my bag from the "valet," go to the restroom, and quickly eat a little lunch. I ate McDonald's. It's my air travel treat. Two cheese burgers, fries, and a coke. It's a perfect match for the unglamorous experience of air travel. If I must endure the trashy delight of air travel, I might as well go full-tilt.

The flight from Chicago to San Francisco was full. Full flights are like being on a hot, crowded bus with chickens, goats, lots of screaming babies, and loud and egotistical business people drinking and talking too loud.

I prefer the window seat. In the window seat you are in your own little universe. You can turn your back towards the row, look out over the world, and wish that you were anywhere but this NJ Transit Bus in the sky. You can control the window screen. If you want it up ... it's up. If you want it down ... it's down. You aren't interrupted by others' bladders. It's easy to send the non-verbal "do not talk to me" cue from the window seat. I am NOT a plane talker.

I despise the middle seat, and that's where I sat on this flight. An older woman was in the window seat reading when I boarded (Oh good ... she doesn't want to talk!) and a fidgety, middle-aged, track suit wearing man was in the aisle seat.

I settled in, buckled up, placed my journal and book in the seat pocket in front of me, and promptly closed my eyes. Mr. Fidget says, "Are you headed home?" all smiles and eager to become best friends for the next 4.5 hours.

"No. Well, sort of. I grew up in the bay area. I am heading there to see my family."

"Oh that's great. My wife is sitting in the next row. We got separated, but we're next to each other. She's wonderful. We have two daughters. They are with some close friends. We're going to visit her parents in Marin. We're in (someplace I can't remember) in Minnesota, near Minneapolis."

Fuck. Shut up. Please stop talking. I close my eyes. He closes his mouth. Waitaminit. A wife and kids? I could swear you are gay, Mr Fidget. You and Uncle Arthur both. No fooling me. I bet you went to one of those "conversion camps" and are saved from the gayness inside. And, yes, your knee has touched mine one too many times in this brief encounter, so now I have both of my legs leaning closer to Old Reader on my right. 

Oh God. Please don't test my abilities to not say what I am thinking. I promise I will not get angry on the subway from now on. Please.

They announce they have to de-ice the plane. The lady next to me looks at me, worried.
"Better to do it than not," I say.
"True," she replies and then puts her nose back in her book.
I like her. A lot.

Mr. Fidget proceeds to pull out food. He has tons of food with him. A salad, crackers, a bag of sliced apples, two bottles of water, a cup of ice, and a baggies filled with mini bottles of vodka. It was as if he were embarking on an epic journey and needed to bring provisions. Granted, I had a baggie of red grapes, so I am a believer in bringing something to eat, since you have no idea how long you may be trapped on the bus.
"I travel a lot and hate it when people have stinky food. Don't you hate that?"
 "Yes. Poached salmon is especially bad."

"I got a salad that doesn't smell. Can you smell it?"

"No. I can't smell it."
Please God, please, do not let us get delayed on the tarmac due to weather. Please do not let us sit here for hours on end. I promise I will be a good man. I will pray every night. I will give change to the homeless. I will volunteer at a retirement home. I won't talk like Marlee Matlin just for laughs. Please. Please. Please. Or ... please smite this man with muteness. Either / or. I'm easy.

We take off. He chats with the person in the seat across the aisle from him, who is his <ahem> wife. They engage the woman in her row's middle seat. They seem happy as clams to chit chat. I sleep. I wake up. I keep my eyes closed even though I am awake. Turbulence. My fake sleep is spoiled.

He keeps ordering orange juice to make personalized screwdrivers with his mini bottles. The flight attendant says that he can't do that and that she will not serve him anymore orange juice. I like her. I like her a lot.

He breaks out a bagel ... with lox. Mmm ... poached salmon. Nice smell.

Maybe now he thinks I am an asshole since I mentioned that before and he won't talk to me.

His wife and her middle seat companion get up to join the restroom line.
"Don't you think it's funny how women always have to go to the restroom together," he asks. "What do they do together there anyway?"
"I really don't know," I sigh. "Gossip. Touch up their make-up."
"Talk about their men, that's what they do!" he remarks while the faint smell of screwdriver and locks waft towards my face.
"Men don't go to the bathroom together. We have strict rules about that. If there are three urinals, guys will choose one on the left or one the right and then choose the stall before going to the center one. And if someones at the center one and the others are available, I go right for the stall."
I am sure you do. I bet you're a toilet talker, mister. Please just shut up. Just shut up.
"Speaking of that, I should use the restroom, if you'll excuse me," I say as a way to hopefully find some peace and quiet from Mr. Fidget now Mr. Drunk.
I make my way up the aisle, take my place in line, and watch "Toy Story 3" on some child's DVD player. Then I hear this voice behind me.
"I always hate sitting in the back because people wait in line for the bathroom and look over your shoulder."
Oh my God. Really?! Are you fucking kidding me?

I say nothing. I wait in line in silence. I pee, wash my hands, wipe out the sink with my paper towel, and take a deep breath. I return to my seat and close my eyes and force myself to sleep.

While in this half sleep, I think about being a little kid and being walked to the gate by my parents. Walking on the tarmac and climbing stairs to get into the plane. Waving goodbye while being escorted to my seat by a stewardess.

Once, coming home from a trip to Southern California, my Aunt Joyce gave me a hand-me-down suit and tie from my cousin Steven. My shoes were polished. I was about seven or eight years old. I felt so grown up. I sat next to a couple of girls who were probably 12 or 13. We had Coca-Cola on ice in glasses. During this flight I concocted this story that I was in Los Angeles auditioning for a TV pilot. I felt so grown up and glamorous and mature. This is what flying was all about. Dressing up, being pampered, being grown up and independent, having dreams as lofty as the clouds the plane passed through.

I wake from this vision of sugar plums to the announcement that we have 45 minutes to landing. Mr. Drunk proceeds to show me pictures on his iphone: his kids, sunsets at the lake house, a trip to Hawaii. I give in and say polite things about the photographs, which are actually quite pretty, after all. I see pictures of his cat. We talk about our pets. He asks me if the murals in Coit Tower are worth going to see. I say absolutely.

We land. The old woman next to me, who has been staring out the window, turns to me and speaks.
"We are far from San Francisco. I thought we'd land in town."
And for a split second I saw the wonder and glamour of air travel. The excitement of visiting new places, the fascination with being high in the air and safely coming back to ground, the opportunities that must exist on the other side of the terminal, out in this new world. And for a split second, I saw her in a hat, and her white gloves clutched her handbag.

Monday, February 6, 2012

new york surprise

after living in new york for nearly a decade , there are still times when it catches me off guard or times when i am surprised that i live here . this happens usually while walking my dog or walking alone lost in my own thoughts . i think this happens during these times because it is my “quiet time” . there are no major distractions . it’s just me and my dog , or it’s just me and the city .

it does not happen in a particular area or neighborhood . it happens anywhere . it does not happen at a particular or special time of day . it just happens . it’s an equal opportunity surprising feeling ; and each and every time it happens , i find myself just as surprised as the last time , and the time before that , and the time before that .

they are not necessarily “revolutionary surprise moments” . most of the time they are mundane moments that strike me with the deep feeling and true realization that i live here in new york city . sometimes these moments are inspiring , but mostly they are just warm fuzzy feelings of my life here and what i have made of it .

for example , once while victor and i walked through central park , i noticed myself being in central park . it was as if i was watching it on television . there i am , walking in central park . it is as if this view of me – what i am watching – is filmed in technicolor or in high definition . the foliage is a green that is so lush and deep , and the morning dew glistens so bright you can almost hear it tinkling . the tall trees seem taller than i remember and their leaves move slightly in the breeze while they whisper their morning song . the gravel and dirt path crunches and crackles with every footstep .

at park benches , old men sit reading papers or women with strollers giggle and coo at their babies in upscale strollers . some drink their morning coffee and nosh on bagels . joggers whisk by , leaving quick notice of their huffing and puffing . bike riders whistle or shout “on your right !” to those on the closed off street while shifting gears .

we stop at a bridge to look over at a very shallow part of the lake . a rather large egret slowly makes his way from one side of the lake to the other . all the while , the big white bird looks suspicious of the couple who stops to watch his trek along with me ; all of us in complete silence . the graceful bird slowly lifts its leg out of the water , and gently steps forward causing barely a ripple . he stands motionless for a while and then takes his next , slow , methodical step .

when the bird makes it to the other side , it is as if the entire city exhales its held breath . the couple and i looked at each and exchange reactions . i say , “that was amazing ;” the man says , “just fantastic !” and we go our separate ways . as victor and i walk off the bridge , it hits me : i just stood on a bridge in central park and watched this gorgeous bird walk across this shallow water in central park . i live here . i live in new york city !

and i was surprised .

there was this time when i was in the large hall of grand central terminal waiting for two friends , patrick and kent . we are heading to their country house , that they have named white pond , for the weekend and victor is with me . after taking the pet taxi (a special taxi service) to grand central we are waiting “under the stars” of the cathedral-like ceiling . we watch the throng of people milling about , waiting for their train , waiting to meet someone , enjoying this amazing landmark . tourists walk past us ; they point and stare and some take pictures of us . it must be novel to see a man and his dog in the train station .

the woman standing next to me comments on how well behaved victor is and how nicely he just lays there and watches the commotion . i reply that he is a good dog and thank her for noticing .

at that moment , i realize that i am in grand central terminal , with my dog that i brought there by calling the pet taxi , waiting for friends so that we can take the train to their weekend house upstate . and it strikes me : oh my god i live in new york city . i live here . that’s amazing ! surprise !

i notice the cobblestones in the streets of soho and marvel at the amazing cast iron buildings . surprise ! i live here !

i walk down either madison avenue or fifth avenue and see the shops , the tourists , the women with diamond rings almost larger than their fists . surprise ! o-m-g ! i live here !

i sit on the grass and watch yachts and small sailboats bobbing in the hudson river . surprise ! i live here !

i turn a corner in the summertime and am struck by a scent that no one can actually describe … one that is completely and utterly repellent . surprise ! i live here .

i fight over the last wedge of gruyere cheese with some little old lady in zabar’s and realize that zabar’s is overrated , has no good produce , and is too crowded at all hours of the day , and decide never to go back . surprise ! i live here !

i ride the subway one morning and call out someone for being inconsiderate of the other riders by blocking access to standing room . surprise ! i live here !

i pass hasidic and orthodox jews , women in gloves , children and families , and nearly one hundred dogs and owners while walking home after having dinner at my newly-found favorite neighborhood restaurant . surprise ! i live here !

i enjoy a wonderful “victor greeting” as i enter my apartment , settle in with dinner and tv , read in bed before turning off the light , and then listen – in the dark – to the whir of traffic become hushed as nighttime takes control of the upper west side . surprise ! i live here .

i am not sure how long this surprising feeling will last , but i hope it never stops . i hope i will always appreciate the intricacies of living here . i hope i always know how to maintain a quick gait while navigating a sidewalk filled with people and not once bumping into any of them . i hope to continue to decide that catching a cab in the rain at 4:30pm is futile and i might as well walk , umbrella or not . i hope to continue to move towards the center of the subway car unless my stop is next .

i want to always have deep and private conversations within earshot of five strangers and not care if they overhear . i want to eat produce in season ; find peace , quiet , and serenity while the pulse and strain of the city drives towards insanity ; and walk down a street i have never been on before and find something completely special about it . i want to continue to rotate my wardrobe each season . each time i do any of these things , i hope that i have the same personal reaction .

surprise ! i live here !

Friday, February 3, 2012

frequency moderation ...

i know FM really stands for "frequency modulation" , but i have been thinking a lot about how to moderate the frequency of my posts . since this is new to me , and since i don't want to force "content" , i am a bit flummoxed by this process . and i like the play on words .

should i post something everyday ? do i really have something that important and mind blowing to share everyday ? most likely not . i might find that i am just stretching out what should be a facebook status update into a blog post . for example , this post could have been "i am thinking about how often to post updates to my blog ..." on facebook . it would be done and over with . period end of sentence . except, i typically end my status updates with an ellipsis , so it would be ellipsis end of sentence in this case .

should i set a specific day to post updates ? that means there's a commitment . yikes ! commitment ! run ! specific updates could set me up for failure based on the pressure to perform on command . i would have to get something up on a particular day , otherwise i am not meeting obligations . it would be like being in a relationship and dealing with sex . when the pressure is on , or when it becomes an obligation , i want nothing of it . but i could do what i typically do in relationships ... and cheat ... you know , find another blog to post on . or i could pretend that we just met at the eagle , and that your swarthy good looks and your pecs are h -o- t hot and would look great in my 'room-and-board' metal bed . then , i'd be all good for a quick posting .

should i post only when it tickles my fancy ? oh no ... now i am thinking about my fancy ? what is ones fancy and how does it get tickled? i must have skipped school the day they reviewed that in biology . that could be a post in and of itself , which i once saw written as "inaovenself" by some fucktard .

should i post pictures ? fritzy , as an example ; should i have posted one of him ? should i post ones of victor , my current doggy ? should i post one of my poodle -- oh wait -- i am not creating that kind of blog . and , ewww , gross ... i just called it my poodle . that's just gross . it's not a poodle . it's my ... never mind . i have to stop .

should i post old crap ? i have a lot of other stories (or essays , thoughts , musings , or whatever you want to call them ) that i have written ; however, posting those seems like cheating and feels like the easy way out . but at the same time , they are interesting and help explain what makes me , well , me . which makes me think if that is what i really hope to accomplish : explaining what makes me me ....

i could use this blog as a forum to share deep , meaningful , and thought provoking content ? like my newly found sobriety and the intricacies of navigating life through that filter , my struggles with growing up gay in a straight man's world , my views on childhood obesity , war , peace , or how i feel sorry for toddlers in tiaras . should i expose myself in ways i haven't already done , or talk about the ways i already have ?

maybe i'll start by posting some "old" stuff , but indicate when it was first pulled out of my brain in order to be fully honest and transparent . those who have already read them will be reminded of my brilliance (or stupidity) and those who haven't , will marvel at the same .

that's what i will do . sunday night postings at a minimum , a mix of previous work with new work , and other postings as the need (or inspiration) strikes ... ellipsis end of sentence .

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

funny things i have said in email ...

these are things i have put into email . i think they are all very funny . some might not be to you , dear reader , as they have been pulled completely out of context ; however , you may still find them amusing .

  • "marley & me" sounds like a perfectly vapid way to spend a Sunday .
  • i am a little drunk and finishing one more glass of champagne . where is everyone ? it's a little lonely right now being the only person on facebook . off to manhunt ! LOL .  
  • do you remember when we were little and I told you that my middle name was ‘piglet’ because i thought ‘clifton’ was embarrassing ?   
  • i want to see that script . i want those words .  
  • another mouse came to visit last night . he's a gonner tonight . that's three ... and none of them were blind .  
  • ass . 
  • stay thin ? don't you mean get thin ?  
  • OMG . that reminds me ... there was a girl on the subway this morning . some high school chick with her friend . she was telling a story about this guy coming over and they was talking . you know, ”we was talking about shitnstuff . he was all talking about what weez gunna do and what moofy to see and shit like that . he was all ‘tight’ and I was like ‘yo, man you gots to talk right if you wanna be wif me .’”i nearly threw up .   
  • ooo ms swan is asian rady who leally leally funneee . 
  • i love that you can track your order (on . that's really funny . what progress points do they have ? 
  • here is what I think they should be : dough rolled into pizza shape ; sauce applied ; cheese and other toppings applied ; pizza in oven ; pizza still in oven ; pizza removed from oven ; pizza sliced ; pizza in box ; pizza with delivery boy ; delivery boy looking for building ; still looking for building ; am i on the right block ? ; where's the address again ? ; oh wait ... there it is ; buzzer ringing ; delivery complete . 
  • i was walking down the street enjoying the tons of snow . there were cars parked and they were covered in several inches from the hood to the roof to the trunk and down the windows . on one car , someone carved a deep and meaningful statement in the window’s snow for all to share in : “ASS WHOLE” .i wanted to write on the next car “ASS HALF” and then on the next one “ASS and THREE QUARTERS” but I didn’t want other people to think i didn’t know how to spell ASSHOLE .   
  • everything i do requires effort . thinking , feeling , breathing ( well , that’s actually an involuntary action , so i can’t really count that are requiring effort ) . that’s just not fair , biologically .