Sunday, March 2, 2014

I Wanna Be Your Dog

When people talk about their spirit animals, I actually feel like rolling my eyes sometimes. Yes, me, the person who believes if I think hard enough I can forcefully will a hot-pink streak to start permanently growing from my head because well, it seems like I should have been born with one in the first place. What gets me is when people are so….limited about it.  The typical options for spirit animals are comparatively glamourous fauna like bears and wolves and snakes and dolphins and crows when, hey, what about identifying with a maggot, or one of those dung-eating birds?

OK, I'm digressing. What I really am meaning to write about--I'm pretty sure I was a scrappy dog (no, not Scrappy-Doo, he's a cartoon, silly!--and as such will live forever) in a past incarnation. It really hit me earlier this winter, when I'd see the neighborhood dogs in the snow and feel all familiar and nostalgic. I love the ones who just sort of dig a little hole, like a sunken livingroom, and hunker down and hang out until snow covers their eyelashes. And the back-scratching spine-wigglers who roll around on the ground, paws in the air and smiling, in the new-fallen snow. Just thinking about it makes me feel all funny in the tailbone area…OMG, it can't be just me! Does anyone else know what I mean?!

One Saturday morning in January, I was running along the East River as snow was falling, and I kept looking at the ground, that packed, perfect, glistening whiteness, and thinking about those dogs… I felt all twitchy like I had to stop and…do something. You know what's coming, right?

There weren't a lot of people out, but I still made sure no one could see when I laid down in the snow and yes, rolled on my back like a happy dog. I was sort of embarrassed, so I didn't stay down there too long, which sort of pisses me off in retrospect. If you're going to do something like that in the first place, better make it worth it, ya know? Anyway, the 20 or so seconds were still pretty satisfying, so I got up and continued on my way. If there'd been someone else with me, I guarantee you it wouldn't seem so weird--you know how that is? But, hell, when your inner canine calls…you heed that call. And then get some Scooby snacks.

Re: this next one--I gotta say, ain't nothing like the real thing, but if the Stooges wanna be your Neapolitan mastiff, these guys maybe just wanna be your beagle. Which is totally cool, too.

Belated Christmas wishes. And 'cause Snoopy's a lover, not a fighter:

P.S. The truck-drivin' dog in this old photo is none other than Boogie, whose friend and co-conspirator Bobby Faust passed away earlier this year. I bet they're rolling along, eating Moon Pies and howling at the moon together on the other side.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Demons Are Forever

 Left behind on Avenue B, the day after Halloween

Not to be a total Grumpalufagus, but I'm not that into Halloween anymore. I think it’s awesome for kids and (costume-loving) dogs, but even cats—who are naturally aligned to the magic and spirituality the day was originally about—find the manic, rusty lust let loose by those not enough in touch with their inner ghouls (i.e., the spoiled, rich white college students in my apartment complex who have to get totally sh*t-faced before they can put on their banana suits) scary in a really bad way.

(Or so Bing once said.)

What I’m actually saying is—I wish every day could be Halloween. It bums me out we deny our zombie selves, which could be, if you think about it, more pure and true than the non-zombie masks that people wear. I can still picture this woman I saw walking into the subway on Halloween just a few weeks ago, all in witchy black, her face and torso covered in glowy green paint. She was stunning and magical, like she was meant to have that color of skin and cast spells to make the 6 train faster.

So, maybe if it were Halloween a little more often, people wouldn't be so puritan and hypocritical (I still can't grok the outrage over Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, when the worst thing they did to Prince Charles was make fun of him for saying he wanted to be Camilla Parker Bowles' tampon). And maybe we wouldn't obsess over celebrities so much as a culture because our own fantasy lives would be more indulged.

And maybe some people wouldn't need to rely on alcohol drop their inhibitions, like the guy standing next to me in the NYC Marathon cheerleading section at the corner of 92nd and 1st (next year I don't stand nearby a block of bars, hello!). He'd shout out in a moronic greasy voice when any particularly curvaceous female ran by, and as the afternoon wore on he started shouting at runners who were walking, "C'mon, get moving! You're not supposed to walk in a marathon!" Honestly, you have to feel bad for a jerk like that--a drunk narcissist disconnected from the world around him. I bet he had no idea how stupid, inappropriate and mean what he said was. Missing the point, missing the richness of life and missing the joy that everyone else around him was experiencing, his zombie self so starved it's probably a serial killer right now…  Most people ignored him and I did finally tell him to shut up, but really, he should have been b*itch-slapped with the tiger paw.

A song for your zombie self:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

6 Things I Will Remember About Training for My First Marathon

Yes, I completed my first marathon on September 28! I don't often write about running because I feel like a bit of a sham, but it's weird calling myself a dancer, too, so, well…I usually just think of myself as a mover.

In any case, I trained for the Hamptons Marathon for 16 weeks and a lot of stuff happened. Here's some of what makes me smile the most:

* One of the reasons I signed up for this race was to figure out if I could make peace with my hometown, my childhood, the "me" who lived there who I sometimes dislike and pretend not to know…one of the Sunday morning group training sessions in East Hampton had us running down to 5 different beaches. Running through the fog and salty sea air, I started to feel the magic of the beautiful place where I grew up, accessing it like breathing, slowly and wholly, as I made my way through morning mist… I realized this is part of me, period the end, and no tourists or developers or stupid celebrities  who've overtaken it…or even myself!…can take that away. I'm the mist, I'm the ocean, I'm the sand and sky… it twinkles in me like a firefly.

* Maybe it was the endorphin release that sent me to some canine plane of consciousness, but about an hour and 15 minutes or so into my long runs, this weird communication thing would start happening with the dogs I'd run past. I'd notice them from hundreds of yards away and they'd turn around and smile at me. Happened on every long run. There was one English bulldog in particular, by Chelsea Piers--I wish I knew what he was saying to me, because I think it was something funny and motivational, the doggie version of Chris Farley as Matt Foley living in a van down by the river...

* Sonic memory: One of the runners at a training run in East Hampton, gloriously, unknowingly farting for about 1/2 a mile as we discussed shih tzus (One reason not to wear headphones…not to hear people farting, but to realize you are the farter…)

* My first 20-miler: Running down Madison Avenue when they closed it to traffic during Summer Streets on a gnarly hot August Saturday, listening to Prince's "Sometimes it Snows In April" on my iPod and smiling and crying at the same time because it made me think of how much I missed/love Bing.

* Stopping at the concession stand on Atlantic Beach to get water on a slimy and bright July day, and some jerk getting out of his car mumbles to himself as I pass by that you're not allowed to run on the dunes. It took me about a minute to realize he thought I was the one who'd been running on the dunes (slow to grok, I know!). Little did he know I am the dunes : )  In hindsight, I would have loved to have whupped his passive-aggressive honky @ss.

* On a bunch of Monday nights toward the end of training, I'd run with my friend Hope in Central Park. Before meeting her, I'd go into a candy store on Madison Ave. to get Gatorade, where there was a resident kitty who had his own cubby. One evening in early September, I noticed a little glittery hot pink scooter parked outside with pink unicorns and ribbons tied to it. When I went in, a little girl (clearly the scooter owner) was sitting on the floor with the candy cat, saying goodbye to him because she was going away for Labor Day and wouldn't see him for a while. The cat was totally in love, licking her and letting her pet him. I hear they remodeled and candy cat doesn't have a cubicle anymore, so I'm thinking of getting him a kitty bed and just sort of leaving it there. Pink, of course. : )

If I'm running in a race, with a group or with someone else…I don't like to listen to music. But by myself, it's fun to listen to  crappy 70s and 80s songs and full-length albums. Here's the first song on one I listened to a lot this past summer:

Monday, September 2, 2013

She, Shells, Sanctuary

Recently I was asked to provide a photo of myself as a baby for a group birthday card, along with a one-line riddle offering a clue to whom the person in the picture is. If you've never done anything like this before, you should try it.

I couldn't find a baby picture (trust me, I looked like Archie Bunker in a white lacy blanket), but what I did find was way more than "that'll do."

Student of cats, turtles and the forces with which flowers bloom...

Maybe my turtle friend, or his turtle daughter, is still around, and maybe I'll finally catch up to him when I run the race at the end of this month : )

Monday, August 26, 2013

Meezer Monday: I'm OK, You're Sort of OK

Every day last week I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I'm beginning to think that maybe it's just easier to sleep that way with the apparently ginormous stick that's up my @ss. It hasn't been an easy summer and there are several contributing factors, but it's as if the switch has been flipped from "Angry? Cry and hate yourself!" to "Angry? Take the more mature route and make faces at people on the street." Srsly. It's like there's this ugly, small-hearted crone inside me that shouts out, "What the eff are you looking at?" 

I'm ashamed to say that's no lie. I was running past the garage in my apartment complex the other day when some random attendant inside called out, "Good morning!" He got rewarded with an expletive that burbled out like I was on an audition for the head-spinning scene in whatever that movie is. (Maybe that's a bad example--I didn't know the guy, I wasn't looking in his direction, and I was about 50 feet away from him. Call me a grinch, but I feel that he should MHOB. You think he says "good morning" to the guys running by?)

You see what I mean about that ginormous stick?! Why should I care if some Howdy Doody says "good morning?" I wish people were nicer to each other! He may have been a lug-headed busy body, but at least he didn't slam the door in my face or look past me as if I were invisible, like half the people in New York.

But the worst part of leaking and saying rotten stuff to random strangers?! It makes you feel really bad. And I really believe there's no excuse for being rude to anyone--in any situation. You always have the option of walking away and saying nothing (unless, of course, you have swallowed a small-hearted crone who shouts out "F*ck" like I have). So here I have been feeling like such an amateur human being, and guess who doesn't seem to mind? Who loves me even when I'm a jerk, when I don't wanna love myself?


The behaviorists would say it's not love, of course. But I'm not sure they've done much research in this one particular stinky arena, so heck, I'm gonna anthropomorphize. And overshare a little bit, too.

This summer I've been training for a marathon, so my weekends have been taken up with what is known as the long, slow run. But don't let that Robert Frost-y name fool you--on occasion they've been miserable, sweat-filled 4-hour affairs that  revolve around public bathrooms and easy access to Gatorade.

But it never fails. He always does it. When I come staggering in to the apartment, red-faced and dripping with sweat, there's Lorenzo, waking up from his nap and ready to join me for stretching on the rug. I remember the day he started doing it. He was watching me very intently as I used the foam roller, and then HE started rolling, tentatively at first, on his back. It was like, OMG, this cat's a freakin' genius.

As we stretch out, at some point he wanders over and sticks his nose in my underarm, nips me and then hits the floor, rolling on his back like he's been sniffing catnip. He doesn't care I had to take a 5-minute break at Mile 10. He doesn't care that half the city passed me (those freaking dads in running strollers, for gawd's sake!). Not only does he accept me for smelling bad, he revels in it. It's equal parts embarrassing and endearing, but honestly, I can't think of a better example of someone accepting you for who you are, even when you can't accept who you are. And trust me, its not nearly as gross as the story an ad rep once told me about the dog who was obsessed with her underwear drawer.

P.S. The next time you encounter a nasty human being who asks you "What the eff are you looking at?," know it's nothing personal. He or she is probably stressed out and feeling vulnerable.

Not my favorite by these guys, but it sho nuff gets the point across:

The last and only time I listened to this song was during my senior year in college, fall semester. I was in Greece, and they played this every week at a club called Rebound. Pretty sure the patrons thought we were stupid Americans.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Let It Brie

Dear Camembert,

How I miss your smiling face. Not only were you a stinky liar---you only weighed 7 ounces while your nutrition label claimed to serve 35!!--but when I saw you on sale for 1.99, I doubted your fatty goodness. What kind of French cheese costs $1.99?!  Creamy, yes, but not the mighty 3,500 calories you claimed to be. Did you give a sh*t? No, no whey. And until the very end you laughed, living large in a fat-free world.

There are many cheesy songs, but not many songs about cheese. This is the best I could do:

P.S. Am I the only one who thought the lyric was…"she runs around and she shouts out 'Fart!'"?!

Monday, July 22, 2013

I Feel Like Chicken Tonight

Readers of this blog will understand my surprise when, on a recent visit to my parents' house, I went to check on the Multiple Marys tableau in what was once my childhood bedroom and found neither hide nor, uh, habit of them. Nothing. In their place were a few additional Jesus figures I hadn't seen before, flanked by a proportionately Godzilla-sized ceramic dachshund.

"What did you do with the Marys?" I immediately questioned my sister, brother, mom and dad, who were seated line-up style in the livingroom. Silence. They shook their heads like they had no idea what I was talking about.

"And they weren't Marys anyway--they were Saint Theresas," I told them. The only reason I knew that was because I was gently corrected by a friend when I posted the photo on Facebook. She, clearly having paid way better attention in Catholic school than I had, knew that Saint Theresa was often depicted with flowers, which were (I think) miraculously transformed from a loaf of bread she kept under her cloak (I think the word is scapular, but no--that sounds like something you put in your mouth when they take dental X-rays). I did a search but couldn't find a reference to the loaf of bread anywhere, but that's a handy party trick indeed, especially if you forgot to pick up something on the way.

(I know--that's probably totally sacrilegious and I'll have to, like, buy a 10-pack of indulgences to make up for it.)

In any case, I soon teased out that another of my sisters had likely removed the St.Theresas when she was preparing the room for visitors the weekend before. I looked around, but couldn't find where she stashed them, or what inspired the new installation shown in the photo above--Christ on the cross sandwiched in between 2 large chickens made out of tiny shells. I took some artistic license actually, and left out the outermost figures (Hummel figurines, one the "Chimney Sweep") on either side of the chickens and--though I'm not sure there this was intentionally part of the grouping, but they were symmetrically placed at far left and far right--two white Thermos bottles.

WTF. Just….WTF?!

I'm pretty sure my sister didn't mean it this way because she makes a lot of fried chicken, but I immediately interpreted this particular grouping as a statement about the suffering of birds in factory farms. When I was about 5 or 6, we'd often pass by a duck farm in Southampton and I was thrilled whenever we drove that way--I GOT TO SEE DUCKS!!!--until the day I figured out why they were there. They were going to die because people were going to eat them. I can still remember sitting in the back of the car (a burgundy Cutlass Supreme) and my heart expanding and breaking and then closing as the scene I'd always looked forward to turned into something… undoubtedly, all-the-way, no-going-back bad.

It took me years to fully make the connection between my ducks and my, or anyone's, decision of what to eat. I'm not sure exactly when I learned that people could be vegetarian or not eat Spaghetti-Os or whatever. I'm pretty sure I thought everyone everywhere (mostly) ate the same things (except at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, where THEY FREAKIN' SAILED DOWN A DRINKABLE CHOCOLATE RIVER!). When I finally figured out it was indeed possible to be a person who doesn't eat ducks, it wasn't really any earth-shattering discovery--more like I'd already decided long ago in the Cutlass Supreme, only I hadn't really known what I was deciding.

And what about my old room and the Two Chickens for Jesus? The only thing that remains of me in the room is the Woody Allen switchplate, which is hidden behind a desk. It looks like someone tried to remove it, but those screws aren't going anywhere unless they rip the whole thing out of the wall. And incidentally, one of my favorite articles I ever wrote was about a therapy chicken named Ruby who worked with traumatized kids. She did get a special award and flew to New York (on a plane, of course) to receive it, but I wanted to honor her here.

For you, girl, and for my ducks too: a musical composition that sometimes takes a short flight and then settles in, and this art installation of great tho inadvertent import. And the chicken equivalent of a river of drinkable chocolate, though I'm not sure what that would be.