chronic pain, personal writing

a dream

I had a dream last night where I saw myself as a little girl. I was about nine years old, all thick-waisted and shy, just as I was then, with that long, wild hair I had, and sun-lit, summer skin. I was wearing the strange, self-selected clothes I wore as a kid – a long, thick red skirt and a mismatched long-sleeved white and blue cotton T-shirt.

I could see my young self, but she could not see me.

Although only nine years old, the girl was walking hurriedly behind her “husband,” following and trying to keep up. In the dream, it made sense, as things like that only do in dreams. I could not see him, as he was walking at a fast clip ahead of her. She looked sad, and yet she would have been upset to know even then just how plainly her sadness came across, as she was trailing him.

Suddenly, in one of those split second scene shifts characteristic of dream-world, there she was, still nine years old, but this time she was swimming in deep water.

She was all the way in the water, and yet it took me a second to realize that she was fully clothed. The long-sleeved white and blue t shirt, the long red skirt she had worn to swim in, because she was shy and ashamed, trying to cover her body. This, I remember.

But then – something made her smile – I could see her from a distance, standing chest high in the water now. I could not see what or who it was – maybe it was someone she was engaging with or a certain slant of light on the water that caught her attention – but she was lit up with joy, her smile transforming her face into one of beaming beauty. She forgot herself in this pleasure, whatever its source.

I could feel myself smiling with her, rooting for her joy.

Then, again the scene changed, and I saw her walking away, her back to me. Her long red skirt was tugging around her ankles, heavy with water, slowing her trudging progress. The edges of the hem dripped steadily along the sandy path at her feet, her long-sleeve white and blue t-shirt clinging to the same body she had wanted so very much to hide.

In the dream, my present-day self awoke for just a moment and looked at this younger me. I realized that she looked so young and even pretty then, in spite of herself. I wanted to yell to her – to break the fourth wall, or the fourth dimension – and tell her: You are beautiful, just as you are!

I pined for her youth, for her body even, those strong, sturdy legs that carried wherever she wanted. I wished that she could understand that this is all there is.

I tried to call to her. I tried to yell out, “I wish you could see yourself as I do, and see all you have!” I wanted her to know the freedom in not trying so very hard, in loosening her grip a little, in letting things be just as they are.

She could not hear me, of course.

Just then, I woke up, still frustrated that she had not heard my call. Yet, awakening, I remembered the whole dream. I suppose maybe I had heard me, perhaps just catching the echo of another dream of another self, older still than I am now.

chronic pain, humor, personal writing

independence day

Last night was the 4th of July. It was also, for me personally, a comedy of errors, a sad little comedy of errors.

You see, fireworks hold a special place in my heart. Every year, I have a deep, inexplicably strong desire to see them.

It has been five years now that I’ve been, to a greater or lesser degree, disabled by extraordinary pain and functional limitations in one leg, a problem which itself is both cause and result of multiple massive surgeries. And it has been almost 28 years of sequelae from the very serious, exceptionally rare congenital muscular disorder that was discovered when I was 16, when my leg more or less exploded as soon as they slit the skin to relieve the pressure in the muscles, a defining characteristic of this crazy syndrome. All the ripple effects of this have spanned nearly three decades, and in the process, have made me, well, a bit of medical mystery, a case study of one.

But I digress. Back to my story: I love fireworks. I hate being sidelined. I have – because I’m a weird 40 something woman who still goes nuts for fireworks – endeavored to get myself to see some each year on the 4th of July for the last five years.

Last night was the closest I got in this endeavor.

So close and yet so far.

Let me explain.

The pain was at a 7-7.5 last night. I cannot walk more than a few dozen feet at a time these days. Good thing, I thought helpfully, that I happen to live on the bottom of the very hill where people come to watch the spectacular city display in the distance.

It’s all just up the hill from me!

Kool, kool. I got this.

Before I leave the apartment – because I both feel and look like poop on a platter, and because my ex boyfriend, a quasi-neighbor, could conceivably be there – I spruce up my hair with dry shampoo and put on red (red, goddammit) lipstick, cuz f*ck that sh!t, if I am gonna have a chance run-in with him and some new lady, I’m gonna look HAWT. So yeah, red lipstick.

Inner Voice: Ya ever heard of lipstick on a pig?

Shut the f*ck up, Inner Voice. We’re doing this. This is the year.

My plan, you see, was to drive as far up the hill as possible, till the road closures, and then park and use my crutches the rest of the way up.

Fail-safe plan!

It can’t be – what – more than .2, .3 miles from my car to the top of the hill? What could possibly go wrong?

So I commence plan.

I walk down the corridor that leads to the parking lot (note to self, it’s stupid to leave crutches in the car out of pride, this hall is long!) I make it to the door, neon green ice pack Velcro-wrapped around my leg, ready for my trek.

This is your Everest, jokes Inner Voice, before dodging just in time to avoid my proverbial ice pick.

I get to the car, drive up the hill as far as I can, park, and grab the crutches out of the back. Plan on track.

I start crutching uphill. I’m passed by an old man carrying portable chairs. I’m passed by some families with little kids and strollers. We are all presumably going to the same place. My hands already stinging from my climb, I imagine nodding to the baby stroller, saying, “Mind if I hitch a ride?”

I chuckle to myself. I then realize the chuckle was out loud. I cough, to stifle another laugh, but somewhat suddenly, and as such seem to scare the little girl in a peach dress passing me on my right. She stops and looks at me and at my crutches, and – you know – I get it. Metal crutches are loud and shiny and maybe a little scary. Even though I’m quite skilled with these things, if I do say so myself. (After well over eight years on crutches, I am certain I’d be an Olympic gold, maybe silver, medalist, if crutching were an Olympic event.)

But the girl scurries ahead and, looking back at me with big eyes, reaches for her mama’s hand.

This makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

Head down, I continue my climb. My left leg searing, and a blister already forming on my heel (stupid cute sandals, in case of stupid ex sighting), I begin to question if this is worth it. I throw a quick look back downhill and realize it’d be even stupider to give up now.

As I near my destination, I hear fireworks in the distance. I curse my slow self, sidelined by needing to sit down three times on my way up. Thinking I was hearing the real show, I start to crutch a bit faster.

A guy in a Red Sox hat says to me, “Whoa, be careful there – you don’t want to go and break your other leg now, do ya?”

I think briefly about whether the nearby police presence would take my side or his if I beat him flat to the ground with these things.

Instead, I smile politely and attempt a laugh.

Of course, I immediately think of better retorts (oh don’t you worry your pretty little head, cuz you’re gonna be watching me take home the Olympic gold metal for —) but he’s already too far ahead.

I sigh, more audibly than intended.

Finally, sweating, breathing a bit heavily, I reach my destination. I make my way, clinking and clanking, in the dark, over the uneven ground to find a spot as close as possible to the street.

I choose a place and my crutches make a loud metallic noise as I let them drop beside me. Some people from the group in front of me turn around to look.

Please do not say a goddamn thing.

I lay down the old shirt I thought to bring as a blanket and deposit myself down in the grass. Throbbing heat radiates down my leg.

Welp, I tell my body – inaudibly of course, we did it. We are here. We are finally here – we’re gonna get our fireworks on!

I begin to relax, let my mind drift.

When I was a kid, we would go to Vermont every summer. Those were the happiest memories of my childhood. My parents were still together, we were still a family then. We would gather old plaid blankets, pack some snacks, and go to the nearby high school to watch the fireworks from the football field.

They were probably unspectacular as far as fireworks displays go – it was a small rural town in Vermont in the 1980s after all – but it was a true highlight of my summer.

We would lay down our happy family spread, and take in the – out there – black sky and the – back then – bright stars. My parents would break out their little plastic Chablis glasses, and we kids would eat pretzels and popcorn, and we would wait.

All the other families around us were doing the same. All of us, looking up, expectantly. I remember an almost tangible buzz of anticipation in the summer air.

Then they’d start. We would Oooo and Aaaaah right in sync with the crowd, which – considering the traffic getting out of the school parking lot at the end of the night – must have represented the entirety of that small Vermont town.

But there was a definitive feel-good quality to the whole ritual. We were there together. As a community. As a family. We were a part of something larger. There was, above us, evidence of magic.

Hilariously, there was also evidence of our human absurdities. There was this one guy who – every year – would park himself on the edges of crowd and yell – with a volume and scope that, I realize in hindsight, could only have come from a full six pack of beer:


After going several years in a row and hearing this guy, we had come to feel it was part of the show. The whole crowd came to understand what Six Pack knew intrinsically: that when he would shout, BOOMER!, we were sure to get a really good, really big Boomer! And we did. Sometimes we would yell along with him.

I remember each year my brother and I would twitter in excitement – Mom! Dad! When’s the BOOMER coming?

And then, as if on cue, the rebel yell:


We squealed. We knew what was coming next. The crowd knew, too.

And the finale was always spectacular.

It was magic.

Abruptly, quite rudely, I’m brought back to the present – by mosquitos. Lots and lots of mosquitoes.

I had remembered the red lipstick. I had remembered the shirt-blanket. Did I remember bug spray? No, I did not remember the bug spray.

Ha! Inner Voice revels, Lipstick on an idiot pig! Here you are, alone, ex nowhere in sight, in your red lipstick, being bitten alive!

Well, at least I have my phone, I tell Inner Voice in my defense. I’m not really alone! What!! I’m not. I’m gonna text my friend. See, I’m not lame!

Jesus, though, these bugs are vicious!

As I text my friend, I am horrified to realize – it is another fifty five minutes before the fireworks begin.

This is somewhat of a miscalculation on my part.

The blister on my heel stinging, my hands burning, the bugs biting – I didn’t even want to think about my leg. What to do?

I take a deep breath and consider my options. I try to muster the courage to sit through all this for another hour – just to see the fireworks, alone, from a distance. No chance of a Boomer.

Nope. I can’t do it.

What is this pilgrimage for anyhow? A nostalgic trek to a forgotten era. A simpler life. One in which I was parked in the middle of that plaid blanket, planted right in the heart of my family.

F*ck this. I’m out. Let’s go, Lipstick. NOW.

Inner Voice has a point this time, I concede.

I pick up my loud crutches and in one expert (dare I say, Olympian) move I jump up and get going down the hill.

Clink. Clank. Clink.

A guy in a hat with a cooler in hand looks at me going downhill as he’s going uphill.

Say One Word. I dare you!

I want to scream.


Here, we have arrived at the finale of this failed endeavor.

At this point, I can’t help it, but I start to feel sorry for myself. This is the fifth year in a row (and who knows how many times over my lifetime) that I’ve missed the stupid fireworks because of my leg. It is just one hour per year that I need my leg to cooperate. One single hour.

But for five years, that hope has not been my reality.

I fight the tears.

You can’t cry while crutching!

It’s true. I know this from experience. If you do, the tears just sting the corners of your eyes and, with your hands in use, you can’t wipe them away, so they just trickle down your cheeks and into your ears – and, on bad days, drop onto your shirt, leaving dark, telltale wet spots.

Finally, finally, I see my car. I snort at the absurdity of it all – I don’t try to stifle it – everyone else is uphill already. I’m alone in my descent. Hot tears come in spite of my efforts to stop them, or maybe, because of my efforts.

But just as I reach my car, everything hurting – I feel the breeze blow. Just enough that the leaves of the bushes lining the sidewalk rustle. It’s a quiet sound.

On the breeze, I can smell the faint summer scent of linden flower. I stop to dab my eyes. I realize – I can see the moon from here. An unassuming sliver of ombre against a faded gray sky. It is in the opposite direction of where everyone else’s eyes are trained, expectantly waiting.

An old saying one of my sisters shared with me sometime in the last few years, when I’d complained that my life had become the wreckage of its former self:

Barn’s burnt down, but I can see the moon now.

When she first told me this, I didn’t really get it.

I think I get it now.

I laugh and cry at the same time, out loud now, cuz … the barn’s burnt down and, really, who has a fuck left to give.

I get in my car. I take a deep breath. Linden flower in the air, orange crescent moon in the sky, each putting on their own quiet show.

A distant voice climbs inside me, once more, from deep within my memory banks, with a volume and scope that can only come from years of experience:


I turn the ignition on and head down the rest of the hill home. I won’t be able to see the moon from home, but I will know it’s there.

personal writing


When I was really little and my parents were still together, I would watch them “Cheers!” each other across the table with their celebratory glasses and – the story goes – I would always flinch and say, “Broken!” I was sure the glass would break and I braced for the shatter not the clink. Ever since, it has been a family tradition to say “Broken!” instead of “Cheers!”.

For some reason, this strikes me tonight as a brilliant metaphor.

My life – at least my life since age 16 – has been broken many, many, many times. In fact, I haven’t written here in several days because it has felt on the verge of collapse, once more.

Thinking on it now, it somehow makes sense to me that even at age 5 or 6, I might have had broken on my mind. It wasn’t long after those celebratory clinks that the undercurrent of acrimony rose up and tore my parents’ marriage and our family asunder. In a kind of crude nod to those clinks, my dad told us, on Christmas Eve, that he was leaving the family.


In many ways, I see my life as a series of interruptions. I wrote in a recent post in an online group for people living with chronic pain that my life (my so-called life!) has endured so many interruptions that it is no longer a life, interrupted – it has now become more interruption than life.


More interruption than life.

These words lingered in the silence after I typed them and sent them into the ether. They rang too true, resonating like two delicate champagne flutes… what does it mean when the ellipses are the most consistent thread in your life story? What happens when you realize that the ellipses have become the story?

I picture the ellipses now. Those dark and mysterious dot dot dots. They are the vestigial tail of your old coherence. They are the amputated limbs of your aborted stories. They are strewn this way and that. They are scattered – you realize later – across wholly different parts of your landscape, like bodies in a war zone. It is only when you come upon some old battle-ravaged field and see all those dots – more dots than you realized you’d ever had to lose – and across more fields than you remember ever having traversed – that you understand: you have forgotten more than you remember.

I have often thought of my life as a series of fits and starts. Every time I thought I had figured things out, trauma would swoop in and rupture the f*ck out of any coherence or safety I thought I had built. I picture Trauma a villain in a black cape, eyes behind a dark mask, with bad breath, and a twisted mouth laughing, laughing, while wrecking his havoc and leaving nothing in his wake but enough shards of life to… well, you know… dot dot dot.

So what do you do when your life has become more interruption than life?

Coherence is hard-won, but its armor is so delicate, so fragile. It looks pretty – until it is broken. Then its sharp edges draw blood, its missing pieces summon the search.

And the search is tireless – until, Aha!, you come upon a jagged little shard that maybe just maybe could fit in here, a gnawed-down nub that maybe just maybe could be glued on there.

I have always worked hard after Trauma swoops in to put life back together again, like Humpty Dumpty. But I can’t actually remember back that far, so many shards ago – did Humpty Dumpty put things back together again? My sense is he tried to fix the broken. My memory is that he could not.

But it is not only shards and broken bits that Trauma leaves in his wake. He leaves fear, too. What he takes, though, is worse: each successive time he steals a little bit more of your faith that you can ever put it all back together again. Part of me knows in my bones the end of that tale I have forgotten.

Humpty Dumpty is BRO-KEN.

For me, this sort of broken has not, as yet, transformed itself into the celebratory sort of broken so engrained in my family mythology.

There is, I have heard, and again I’m too lazy – NO! DAMMIT, not too lazy!! I am too tired, I am too bone f*cking tired – to look this up. So I’m gonna go with my memory, AS IS. And what my memory recalls is that I read about a Japanese tradition – god f*ck if I can remember what it’s called – where when a bowl breaks, you can fill in the broken parts with gold. It becomes a bowl once more, but a changed bowl.

What strikes me about this is that it is the bowl’s brokenness that enables its beauty. Gold is not even the strongest of metals, but its malleability is its own form of strength. Its molten weaving together of ruptured parts creates a different kind of strong, one that does not deny – but honors – its own traumas. Like bones once broken can grow back stronger if given the right conditions to heal.

. . .

So, here I am, coming back around to see the ellipses of my life, strewn here, strewn there, strewn everywhere, and to try to just sit with a life that is so broken it is hard to remember it is still one single life. I still see the broken, yes, and, in my mind, I still hear the clink and the shatter, just as I did as a kid at the family table.

But I am starting to give up the Humpty Dumpty dance and let go of the impulse to re-create the pretty facade of old coherence.

I think I have come to a place where I cannot help but notice the ellipses tell a story, too – a wholly different story, with its own form of coherence, its own kind of pretty.

I am starting to feel – in my bones – that maybe the brokenness is where beauty lives. Here, if I suture my ruptures in gold, maybe – when you, my friend, find yourself lost and alone – you can sidle up alongside me and follow with your finger the gilded traces that map the history of my pain, and see in it reflections of your own. How else could we truly know one another?

These golden wounds can sparkle, in the right light.

The crash and the shatter that I still hear – and maybe will always hear – in the “Broken!,” as it clinks and winks and flirts disaster, is, also, a celebration of the pain that brings us to the table, the wounds that make us – in the right light – glint and shine.


dating, humor, personal writing

sh!t happens

What’s that poem about how the world ends?

“The world ends / Not with a bang, but a whimper.”

Yeah. So too do fledgling relationships, apparently. Not with a bang, but definitely a whimper.

And some poo. Actually, lots and lots of poo.

OK, guys. I hate to say it, but I think we have our final segment of the Professor Cute Butt Chronicles.

Yes, this has to do with The Puppy. And, sure, with loafers, too. And yep, as I said, lots and lots of poo.

Fasten your seatbelts, folks, Imma take you for a ride. This is a story.

So yesterday was another date with The Professor and The Puppy. I suggested we start out at a park near me. When the Professor arrived and got out of his car with not only loafers and no socks but pants and a matching belt that can best be described as mauve, I told my inner voice (which was ROLLING HER EYES and saying, OH COME ON!!!) to just shut it and try not be so judgy.)

We proceed to set up Puppy camp in the grass.

Everyone and Their Mother oooo’d and aaaaa’d over The Puppy, because, of course, he is really dang adorable, doing Cute Puppy things like pouncing on a feather floating past his little puppy snout and doing a somersault and rolling down the hill with his little puppy smile.

Professor Cute Butt’s focus of course was on The Puppy, and on answering the same 4 questions that Everyone and Their Mother wanted to know the answers to:

  1. Oh my god, so cute! Can I pet your puppy!? (Sure! It’s good for his socialization!)
  2. Wow, he is seriously adorable. What breed? (Border collie. Doesn’t have the traditional markings of a border collie.)
  3. Aww, so sweet. How old is he? (About 11 weeks.)
  4. Wow! How long have you had him? (Almost 2 weeks.)

Repeat, 24 times, with this 5th, optional, question thrown in: “Do you guys live around here?”

You guys.

Ah, they think you guys are together, as in together together,‘ my inner voice chimes in helpfully, as I slowly absorb that people think I could be the wife of someone who wears loafers with no socks and coordinated mauve belt and mauve skinny pants. (They were skinny pants, y’all.)

I stuff Ms. Judgypants Inner Voice deep down into my soul, and I play along with this whole picture and proceed to teach The Puppy how to fetch a stick and bring it back. He was SO excited about this new trick, as was The Professor. “Wow, this is great! This means less running around for me! I never thought to throw a stick!” (Insert the Hmm emoji here.) He puts the soccer ball back in his bag.

I toss Professor the stick, which he gamely throws. Puppy, ecstatic, returns the stick to me. I throw the stick back to Professor, motioning for Puppy to go to Professor. Puppy runs to me.

Repeat, 24 times.

During all this, Professor and I do not talk about anything Not-Puppy.

“Well,” I think, helpfully, “it’s understandable. We are at the park. We’ll talk more for real at dinner. I’m sure he too must want to talk about other stuff, and, you know, ponder life, the universe, and everything.”

But dinner is the park on repeat, just on a patio of a dog-friendly restaurant he’d found on a “dog friendly restaurants” list he’d googled and sent to me to choose from.

So we are sitting there, and still nothing Not-Puppy is said, asked, or done. I eat my fries, as Professor follows Puppy into a bush and says loudly in his Puppy-Training voice, “OK, POTTY, Puppy!” The Puppy, however, does not potty, but instead pounces on a stray plastic bag and romps back onto the patio to check out all the other patrons, many of whom are overjoyed to ask us their 4, sometimes 5, questions.

I am patient. It is a gorgeous summer night after all, and these fries are really good.

Check comes. I pay. (Professor is off unwinding Puppy’s leash from around the leg a nearby couple’s table.) We collect everything and return to the car. The Professor observes, “Great! He’s gotten plenty of socializing. He’ll be fast asleep in no time.”

We get to my street. The Professor says, hopefully, “I think the car ride put him to sleep – maybe we could try to have a non-Puppy conversation?” (I shoot Inner Voice a withering look, ‘See! He is aware of the Puppy Vortex this has become! There’s still hope!’)

Inner Voice just smiles knowingly.

So with Puppy asleep in his little mesh carrying case, we all three go inside, two of us knowing that this means Professor’s Puppy and My Kitty will have to meet.

“Let’s just see what happens, shrug emoji” I say (side note: I literally said “shrug emoji” – shrug emoji), as we enter the building that does not allow dogs.

Inner Voice cackles: ‘Yeah, what could possibly go wrong?!’

Upstairs, we enter my apartment, me first so I can find and hold my cat. She does not realize for a while there’s another animal inside – that is, until Puppy pops his little rambunctious head out of his little mesh carrying case.

Kitty freaks.

I run and take kitty up into my arms and try to calm her down again. The Professor is apologizing, “I have no idea how he got his head out like that.” And then, sighing, “He’s definitely Not-Asleep now.”

Cradling kitty, I give Professor careful instructions as to where he can find kitty’s Temptations Treats. “She goes wild for those. I’ll try some ‘shaping’ behavior,” I tell him. He finally finds the bag and passes it to me. I put one treat down on the floor, kitty happily jumps from my arms to gobble it up, momentarily forgetting about The Puppy. I put another one down, and then another, and another, moving her in the general direction of Puppy, with me cooing the whole time, “You’re okay! You’re okay!” any time she looks up and sees him wriggling around in his case.

Puppy barks.

Kitty heads for the hills.

“OK, this isn’t working,” says Professor.

I agree, and try to helpfully suggest we let kitty have her space while the three of us go outside to the patio where there’s an outdoor area for Puppy.

I can see The Professor has been stressed by all this and just wants to make out, as if making out will be like shaking a magic erase board to erase the rest of the evening. I get the vibe Professor wants to prove to himself, to me, to “us” that we can still make this work. Even with… The Puppy.

He puts the carrying case down as soon as we get outside and, sure enough, comes over and kisses me. At which point, kitty pushes patio door open. (The patio door only closes securely when you lock it from the inside, otherwise it remains slightly ajar.)

I hop to, “Nope, nope! You stay in there!”

Kitty meows.

Puppy barks.

A neighbor’s light turns on above my place.

“OK, this isn’t working,” I say.

The Professor agrees.

I try to helpfully suggest he could use my cat’s long pink leash to let The Puppy roam around the common green area.

“Great idea!” he says and attaches Puppy to the long pink leash. Puppy is happy, pounces on a stray leaf. Kitty mews and pushes at the patio door again.

The Professor sighs, but then his face brightens. He suggests that he could kiss me while I have my back against the patio door to keep it closed and the kitty inside.

Inner Voice goes to grab some popcorn, sits back in her chair: “This is hysterical, you guys! Keep going, keep going! I can’t wait to see what’s next!

I shoot Inner Voice a withering look.

Professor attempts to kiss me again. (I’m not really into it at this point.) Puppy barks. Phew, I think. We both turn just in time to see the Puppy poop (a long, loose poop) out toward the back of the common area.

Professor sighs heavily. Grabs a poop bag, “I better go get it now, while I know where it is, roughly.” He wanders off in his sockless loafers into the dark, poop bag in hand.

But it’s night now. We only saw Puppy had pooped because of a motion detecting light and the light from the neighbors’ place.

I try to helpfully suggest that The Professor use his phone’s flashlight. He does but is out there a little while, sighing with increasing frequency.

A longtime animal owner, I figure I can help him make this a successful mission and I go out there too, hoping kitty doesn’t push the patio door open while I’m gone. I point out the poo to Professor, who shakes his head and scoops the poo up as best he can. In an almost stage whisper, he says to me, gesturing upward with the swinging poop bag, “Your neighbors are watching!” I try to assure him, helpfully, “it’s okay, it’s okay.”

I look around – I was pretty sure I saw a second poop coming from Puppy while Professor was searching for the first. Maybe I’m wrong? We three return to the patio.

The Professor asks where he can deposit the poop bag and goes in to wash his hands, shooing the curious cat back as he goes.

He returns looking almost victorious. He doesn’t say, “Now where were we?” before he leans in to kiss me, but that was the feeling of it – that is, until Puppy barks and we realize he is digging up plant bulbs in the common area.

“WHAT?! PUPPY!!!” Professor tries to use his loud Puppy-Training voice, before helplessly saying to me, “He never barks! Or digs! I swear!”

I go over to the dog and am working on separating him from the plant bulb he was unearthing just in case it’s one of those poisonous-to-animals plants, when I hear an awfully alarmed, “ARE YOU SERIOUS?!” from the patio.

The Professor is all hunched over, looking at the bottom of one of his (sockless) loafers.

I look, too.

“I did not know little puppies could poop THAT much,” I muse out loud, no longer helpfully. “I’ll go grab the paper towels!” I come back with Lysol wipes too. I mean, there was A LOT of POO, people.

The Professor grabs the paper towel roll, and because it is a new roll struggles with the first paper towel, which is still glued down. I hand him the Lysol wipes while I peel the towel loose from the roll and try to say helpful, soothing things, while the Professor wipes at truly copious amounts of poo, some of which – because it was rather soft to begin with – drops down onto the patio, half on my patio rug, half on the bare concrete beneath it.

“Jesus, JESUS. What a nightmare. What a nightmare. Jesus, what a nightmare.” It’s dark but there’s enough ambient light that I can see a big vein in the Professor’s forehead.

“It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s really okay,” I say, trying to calm him, and then I add, maybe trying to get a laugh out of him to bring this all down a notch: “I mean, after all… sh!it happens!”

I laugh out loud at my own funny. The Professor? Not so much. He’s busy muttering under his breath, “Jesus, it’s EVERYWHERE!” wiping sh!t from the creases of his loafer sole. “I’m gonna need a bag for all this!” I look, too. And yeah, there was quite a little mountain of poopy paper towels and nasty wipes piling up on my patio floor.

Like a surgeon who’s just scrubbed in, The Professor wipes his brow with a clean elbow, leaving his hands out in front of him. He motions to me with the elbow where to find a poop bag. We can’t open it though. It’s one of those thin plastic baggies where you can never tell if you’re attempting to open it on the right end or not.

We’re gonna need a bigger bag,” I say dramatically, trying to impersonate what’s his name from JAWS, if only to amuse myself. I mean, what else is there to do but laugh once we’re in this deep?

But, this guy is clearly suffering, so I dash inside and find the nearest disposable receptacle – a bright white and blue Amazon mailer – which I dispatch in short order to Professor, who still has his hands in the air like a scrubbed-in surgeon.

Then, suddenly ashen, he lifts his head from his Sisyphean task and asks a series of what I guess are rhetorical questions: “OH GOD! Did I track this stuff inside? I don’t remember! I don’t remember! Do you? Do you remember? Did I have my shoes on when I went in earlier? You know, before I – before I knew?”

“It’s okay! It’s okay! It’s really okay! Please, please don’t worry about it! Even if you did, who cares!? This is what having animals is all about sometimes. No big deal!”

I mind The Puppy, while The Professor is scrubbing and stuffing, scrubbing and stuffing, until the Amazon mailer is bulging with All.The.Sh!t. I muse to myself how people sometimes say proudly, about, say, some fancy shampoo really cheap, “I got this sh!t on Amazon…” and how funny it would be if I mailed it back to Amazon like it was a return.

I stifle a laugh. I mean, this is all Really Funny. My date – whose loafers I have always hated and tried to overlook – is heaving heavy sighs over those same loafers, now smeared with sh!t, and my date – whose mauve skinny pants with the matching mauve belt – is all hunched over the mess on my patio, hands and loafers held far away from mauve pants and mauve belt, which now have a matching mauve forehead vein.

Puppy whimpers going back into his little mesh case. Kitty meows and pushes at the door once more. I cough to stifle another laugh. My date, if he is going to be my date, should find this Really Funny, too. The Professor does not. Not.Even.Remotely.

Puppy whimpers again, as I open the patio door wide, while shooing my kitty back, back, back.

What does the death knell of a fledgling relationship sound like, you ask?

Not like a bang, and not like a belly laugh, either, though that would be fun.

But maybe like this: A stifled cough, a kitty’s mew, a professor’s sigh, a puppy’s whimper.

The Professor tries to collect himself once inside. Deposits his poop-strewn, poop-scented loafers outside my apartment door in the common hallway, puts the puppy case down on the ground near his feet, adjusts his collar, and clears his throat. Bred exceedingly well, Professor was surely trained to have Good Manners to the Bitter End and to thank the host or hostess, no matter how atrocious the visit. He juts toward me, puts his arms around me, and before kissing me goodbye, says, with not a hint of irony, “Thank you for another wonderful evening.”

I close the door behind him as he goes.

I am the one sighing now. Ooof, the writing is on the wall, I guess. Or, in this case, the poo is on the patio.

Inner Voice cackles: Yep! You said it, girl! Sh!t happens.

I am too tired to shoot Inner Voice a withering look.

And, as they used to say on Bugs Bunny, “That’s all, Folks!”

dating, humor, personal writing

puppy haters anonymous

Hi, I’m Pollyanna and I hate puppies.

All the other puppy haters, in unison: Hi, Pollyanna.

Ok, so I don’t actually hate puppies. In general. In general, I don’t hate puppies. In reality, I’m really just hating on this one puppy. It’s okay, I am not a monster. I still like rainbows.

Well, I have never met the puppy in question, but I do kinda hate him. So I have come here to confess my sins and hope you will absolve me of my puppy hating ways.

You see, Professor Cute Butt got The Puppy. You know – the one he was so apprehensive about, he called me a couple weeks into our dating to break the news to me not by text that he and his boys had just been told they were off the waitlist? Yep. That puppy.

The Puppy arrived ten days ago, and I have not seen Professor Cute Butt since. (To his credit he has texted regularly, several times a day in fact, and even called, but with the new puppy – and Mom visiting for a week after bringing special puppy – no dates.)

The Puppy has made me and the Professor pen pals. Who wants that?!

So professors are supposed to be smart, right? Kool kool. OK, so let’s see, a hypothetical for you: let’s say you work a ton, have a significant commute (by train), are a single parent half the time with 2 kids under 10, and have finally started to date again. I know you, dear reader, and your first thought wouldn’t be, “Oh, I know! I’ll get a dog! No, not just a dog, but a brand new to planet earth puppy! That I will have to train! From scratch! Even though I’ve never trained a puppy before! This will bring peace and joy to my life! This will give me back all the free time I don’t have now! This will be so stress-free and fun!”

No, you would not think this.

Well, Professor Cute Butt went and not only thought all these thoughts, he went and made them real.

Oh wait, it gets better. Let’s guess what breed Prof. CB got! Now this will be fun.

Before you guess, let’s just review the professor’s situation. He works a ton, isn’t a runner, doesn’t have much free time, is a condo dweller, commutes by train, has two small children, and has no previous experience training a puppy.

Have a guess?

Ok, since I can’t see your hands raised in the air, I’ll just tell you. No, not a chihuahua. He got a border collie. A super intelligent, high maintenance sort of breed that needs tons of exercise and whose instinct is to herd anything and everything, even small children. Described alternately as “intense,” “fanatical,” “willful,” and “potentially destructive when bored.” Kool kool.

So, tomorrow I get to meet in person this match made in heaven. Till then I am a proud card-carrying member of Puppy Haters Anonymous.

* * * * *

Ok y’all. Guess who I met last night?

I didn’t finish the above post yesterday because Professor Cute Butt suggested a spontaneous date, at which I met The Puppy.

He’s cute. Like, super cute, you guys. Like, looks like a baby panda level of cute. Everyone and their mother stopped to ooo and aaah over his adorable cuteness.

And – you guys – I like The Puppy.

Scratch that.

I’m a little in love with The Puppy.

That was a very short-lived 12 step program. I’ll put my coffee down and see myself to the door. 🙄


Hi, I’m Pollyanna and I love The Puppy.

In unison: Hi, Pollyanna.

humor, personal writing

stepping in squirrel

So I read this essay by Judith Viorst today. She’s the one that wrote one of my favorite children’s books ever. Okay, fine. One of my favorite books ever, full stop: Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I refer to it with an almost embarrassing frequency. As in I’ll tell friends that I just had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I actually have the book prominently displayed in my living room, even though I’ll be the first to admit Alexander is an entitled little sh!t. (I double dog dare you to say “snowflake”.) But he at least learns early on that life can just come up with almost comical ways to go from bad to worse. He never gets to sobbing on the floor deplorable, but it is a kid’s book.

Anyway, I digress.

In her essay, Viorst talks about what gives her the most happiness as she approaches the ripe old age of 90. I’m not going to go through her whole list. (Notably, she does mention the privilege she enjoys of a relatively healthy body and an intact marriage. Good for her. Not everyone is so fortunate, and she knows and acknowledges that – kudos!) What I do want to mention is what she says about finding humor in the sh!t. Well, that’s not quite how she puts it.

All the same, it resonated with me, given that I’m someone who has from time to time had a comically bad year, or stretch of years – you know, almost like Job. (As an atheist who is still afraid a god might smite her from the sky with a hilariously timed and cringingly public lightening strike her down and makes her pee her pants situation, this messing with blasphemy is a very fun, thrillingly risky endeavor – like my version of skiing down Everest. Wait, do people do that? No? K, neither do I, so the people and I are even on that front….) Point is – I’ve had some sh!t go down. You know how some years are all, oh I dunno, let’s give you a serious medical condition, a massive surgery gone wrong, disabling chronic pain, death, the sad explosion of a romantic relationship with the one one thought was The One, the loss of more than one job, the maybe fatal blow to one’s career, the sudden deaths of one’s fur babies, public professional humiliation, PTSD, and, you know, the kitchen sink exploding with sewer water all over the kitchen? You know, just as an example.

Anyway, Judith Viorst comes through again, in mid-life, just as she did when I was a kid – and it all boils down to (wait! are you sitting down? Imma tell u the Meaning of Life) all us Alexanders out there gotta just laugh at our Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (or week, month, year, decade, body, country, government, society, universe, you get the picture.)

So in the spirit of that more grown up, less twat-ish Alexander, can I tell you this thing that happened?

Remember that squirrel that fell from the sky – you remember him, right, from the puppy and the squirrel post?

Well, (clearing throat), are you still sitting down? How can I tell you this? He has passed. He’s dead, in other words. He’s an Ex-Squirrel up there somewhere with Monty Python’s Ex-Parrot. He has ceased to exist. And omg many days ago from the looks of it.

You remember how I wept over him cuz he reminded me of me? A mini me fallen from the sky totally unable to run to safety cuz his legs had been all kinds of f’d up? Yeah, that’s the one.

Well, today I stepped in him. Not like on, but in, at this point. IN, PEOPLE – as in, I had to look at my shoe like I’d stepped in poo. Ew, yeah I know.

But at this point, I’ve got this little internal dialogue running in my head:

Oh poor squirrel!

You asswipe! You knew he was gonna die an ugly death. You stood by and did not a thing. Now here he is, poor thing, and you never got around to even throwing him a squirrel funeral.

Ew the flies! Holy Jesus, that’s his skull? Already?!

Oh holy sh!tf*ck is that him I smell? How the F did he decompose that quickly?

Sorry, Mr. Squirrel decomposing mat of flesh and fur and flies, but you do kinda need a shower. And holy hell if you got on my shoe like in a way I gotta scrape your guts off now, I’m gonna cry.

At least I didn’t step on your skull by mistake. (They say gratitude is good – this is good!)

And so on and so forth.

So here I am, in the little shared green area behind my apartment building, and I’ve got my cat on the leash looking at me like, what the hell are you doing? And I am like, I’m looking at my shoe cuz I just by mistake stepped in the squirrel!

And then – I just start laughing. You know, as one does.

Here’s the thing. You, Dear Reader, know me well enough by now to know what happened next, yeah?

Yep. Cuz I am alone and it’s a wee bit public back there – now that I’ve started to laugh, I just crack up even more.

So in my head, I’m watching this whole scene from the vantage point of an imagined onlooker, a person who lives a few floors above me.

So yeah, let’s roll the tape:

Here’s this mid forties (don’t you dare say middle-aged) crazy cat lady with her cat on a 30 foot long bubblegum pink leash, and she’s half crying half laughing over the decomposed body of a squirrel (more like a squirrel-sized smudge now) – the squirrel we saw her cry over last week with its broken legs, and she’s looking now at the bottom of her shoe and she’s – oh sh!t- she’s losing her balance and omg she’s legit starting to fall! But – wait, what? – she calls out for her, you guessed it, cat. Her cat! She’s out there alone with the cat and a dead squirrel and she is cracking up like a crazy person. She is actually kinda hilarious at this point. You guys! Check this out. She’s actually kind of entertaining in her absurdity.

But at least she knows it.

Yeah. In my defense, at least I know I am absurd.

So, thank you, Mrs. Viorst. Yet again. You remind me at this stage in my life, as you did when I was a little kid reading Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, that the point isn’t not having a mini-me squirrel that goes and dies on you, and the point isn’t even not stepping in it later – the point is laughing your a$$ off when you inevitably do.

Inevitably. That’s all I’m sayin’.

*Alexander is still a twat tho. Just being real.

dating, humor, personal writing

a peaceful, easy feeling

For some reason, “a peaceful, easy feeling” came to mind when I was thinking about how I’m feeling right now. Does that line come from something? It must. Help me out here – a song for a laundry detergent commercial? A car? Oh Christ, I bet it’s the Eagles. Now, I don’t know about you, but I happen to be in agreement with the Dude, aka Mr. Lebowski, with regard to the Eagles. Namely, “I hate the f*&^ing Eagles, man!” Well, maybe it’s not the Eagles, but I’m too damned lazy to google it.

Nonetheless a peaceful easy feeling sorta describes where I’m at right now, and I’m like, “Huh, what is this strange, strange feeling I’m experiencing? What? I’m sorry – you said you’re called Calm? Oh, hello, Calm, I’m Pollyanna, I don’t think we’ve met – pleased to make your acquaintance!”

Anywho…. Remember how I mentioned the profound relief I felt because I was virtually certain I’d gotten a rejection from that job that would have involved uprooting my entire life and moving to a different state?

Guess what. Yep. I got the offer.

Guess what else? Yep. Much to the chagrin of the hiring manager, I turned it down.

I know, I know. After all my expressions to him of how perfect a match this job and I were… once I learned the nitty gritty details, I realized the costs far outweighed the benefits.

And yup, I hid under a proverbial rock for hours and hours after that call, and every time the conversation crosses my mind now I shudder like an arctic blast just blew through.

I told the guy – and this is true! – my setback with my medical condition (which happened just prior to the final interview) indicated I wasn’t as far along in the post op recovery process as I should be to take on a big new job in another state.

The hiring manager first tried to push back and extol the virtues of their health benefits, until he heard me say my sorry a$$ one sentence spiel again and realized this wasn’t me trying to negotiate, this was me being like, Uh yeahhhh, NO.

So he’s all, “well, maybe next time you’ll have learned your limitations and only apply to jobs you can actually do.”

And I’m all, 😳😳😳😳😳😳.

You can now see the sudden appeal of the proverbial rock, amirite?

So I’m now finally crawling out from under that rock, and I gotta say that the peaceful easy feeling is all about the removal of that stressor from my life. It’s like that sh!t was weighing on me, without me even realizing how much. But now that I don’t have to move away from my bff, friends, and family here, I’m doing virtual cartwheels and happy backflip somersaults – only virtual though, cuz DAMN I wasn’t kidding about the setback –

And no, I know what you’re thinking – y’all have no poker face! Nope, this was NOT about Professor Cute Butt. I may be a one marshmallow girl, but I was super disciplined in my deliberations and did NOT let A Man (shudder) enter into the equation or affect my decision one way or the other on this job.

But he made it SO HARD, you guys.

I mean, in addition to the whole ‘I’m getting a puppy’ phone call that I described in the last post, Prof. CB endeared himself to me further when he said, as I was weighing the job offer, “I’ll visit you there if you take it!” And then pointing a finger back and forth between me and him, “I mean, if this is going to work, it’s going to work.” (!!) Add to that he brought over champagne – champagne! – to celebrate that I’d gotten the offer, and I got all gooey like a damned sap hound. (Where on earth do I come up with these weird non-saying sayings?) ((Don’t answer that. It could be the amyloid plaques most certainly starting to make their tendrily way through my brain.))

Anyway, so I got, but did not take, the crazy job. And also, I think you could say Professor Cute Butt and I are kinda sorta dating. (Sure, it helps that I’m now not moving two states away. Obvi.) Get this, there was a FOREHEAD KISS, people. Like we had a lunch date at the park, and were looking arm in arm out at the view, and before I knew what was happening, he planted a kiss on my forehead. My forehead. And you all know what a forehead kiss means (well, with someone you have good real kisses with too – forehead kiss in place of good real kisses is just BadNews). I think he might actually like me like me? Huh. 🤔

But of course, one of my very first thoughts after the forehead kiss and subsequent inner cartwheel somersaults, was, “Uh oh, will this kill my blog?” But no, I’m being serious: what if I get happy? Happiness kills all forms of art, you know. (And yeah, I know it’s a bit of a stretch to call this sh!t you’re reading “art” but humor me this once.)

My point is: This peaceful, easy feeling does not bode well for my (imaginary) book deal, y’all. I mean, other than Michael Franti, who the F writes when they’re happy?!

Oh sh!t, you know who, don’t you.

I remember now.

The Eagles.

God damn it, I hate the f*%^ing Eagles, man.

dating, humor, personal writing

the puppy and the squirrel

I hate to disappoint you but ‘the puppy and the squirrel’ is not going to be a heart-warming tale of interspecies love – nah, I just like the title. And I will be talking about both a squirrel and a puppy here. So things could be worse. (Things, in fact, ARE worse. Far far worse. Out There, in the Real World. But here in Pollyanna Savage la-la land, puppies and squirrels is where we’re at, people).

First, I am 98.9% sure I did not get that out of state job. And you know what? Today, I am relieved. While it was sort of a dream job for me, I am too old and infirm (for reals, but I’ll get to that) to uproot my life and move across not one but two state lines for a job. So, yeah, I feel some relief.

But yesterday. Yesterday was another story. Here’s where the squirrel comes in.

Well, before we get to the squirrel even, you must know that one reason I feel I did not get a job offer is because of my leg. I’ll explain. I’m several months post-op (of my umpteenth major surgery, some congenital issue, blah blah blah) and still struggling with a lot of chronic pain and functional limitations. I was just starting to be able to do things like go grocery shopping (and go to TARGET, y’all!), and after not having been able to do stuff like that for almost a year and a half, I was THRILLED. Consumerism, FTW!

Enter Esmerelda. (Not her real name, but I’m liking it already.)

Esmerelda is – no, not the squirrel, we’re not there in our tale quite yet – a very young (why do all people under 30 look pre-pubescent to me now?!) physical therapist who stood in for my regular (older, more experienced) physical therapist a couple days prior to The Big Interview. She was well-meaning, but my god, she pushed my leg too far – literally. I feel like I heard it. It is not Esmerelda’s fault, really – she was just trying to do her job, pushing down on a knee that hasn’t been able to straighten for a year and a half (you know how it is).

But two days after seeing her, I was at the job interview and the Esmerelda Effect hit its peak. My pain skyrocketed up several notches on the old (ridonculous) pain scale (have you seen that thing – those faces just scream “SCIENCE!”). So much pain I actually had to cut my full-day interview short. I mean, what holy grail of interview faux pas is that!? The experts tell us all the tips – make eye contact with the interviewer, remember their name, say yes to their glass of water offer, be yourself – but not, oh I don’t know, CUT THE INTERVIEW SHORT AND GO HOME.

So on my long drive back across two state lines, I just ruminated – there is no way I will ever get the dream job now. My damn leg gets in the way of my life, again. And Esmerelda.

OK. Here’s where we get to the squirrel.

So I’m all feeling sorry for myself because no word on the job days after the committee met to make their decision. I’m in the midst of a little pity party on my patio when all of a sudden a squirrel drops from the sky (okay, a tree). My cat runs for it, and is stopped short by her leash (I already mentioned to you guys that I walk my cat on a leash?). But the squirrel only looks at my cat lunging at him and squiggles a bit but does not run away.

I go to investigate.

The squirrel does not run away when I approach him either. He tries, but he’s hurt. His back legs. Was he hit by a car or mangled by an animal and managed to just get up that one tree? I don’t know, but he’s not about to get back up that or any tree.

A Real Woman might have been like, OK, we know what we have to do! Get him to a vet – OR – we will put on our Big Girl Pants and somehow put this poor little guy out of his – ACK – I cannot even finish that sentence, let alone contemplate the act, however merciful it might be. A Real Woman might have done the merciful thing. Me? I burst into tears. Like full bore tears. Outside, in public, in the common area of my apartment building. I tell myself I am going to give the poor squirrel space. But I’m the one who needs a little space.

I related to the squirrel. He couldn’t get very far. He was struggling. His poor legs! The flies were already starting to perch on his back, the goddamn vultures. And given I’m too squeamish to do anything useful in this situation, we – the squirrel, the cat, the flies, and I – all of us knew: the squirrel was going to die.

OK, I hear it too. Melodramatic.

Are you ready for the puppy part of the story yet?

Yeah, me too.

Enter Professor Cute Butt. (He’s not the puppy – wait for it!) We had our fourth date the other night, and, you know, I think it’s going pretty well.

But then he texts me saying he had some news he wanted to share but he’d rather do so on the phone, are you around? I could hear my heart in my ears.

He is calling to dump your sorry a$$!, Inner Voice adds, helpfully.

I text back right away. (OMG you guys – I just checked my text history: Prof. CB texted yesterday at 12:17pm. My response? Also 12:17pm.) Okay, maybe I am a bit jumpy, yeah? In any case, I say I’m around now, and he calls.

I answer on the first ring, “What’s up!?”

Prof. CB says, “Oh, so we’re not going to do the small talk thing first?”

I laugh (hehe) and indulge him, heart bracing, mind racing. HE IS GONNA SAY SAYONARA.

“I just wanted to call to tell you by phone rather than text. The boys and I have been on the waitlist for a puppy for a very long time. I feel like it’ll help them to have a puppy. They’ve wanted one since, you know, the divorce. Anyway, we just got off the waitlist. So, um, we are getting a puppy…. next week.”

We both wait to hear what I am going to say.

Still certain this is segue to sayonara, I attempt a gracious, “Oh, okay, congratulations! That’s great! A puppy, wow!”

The Professor: “Well, I told my therapist this puppy was going to ruin my social life, and…. uh, since you’re kind of my social life these days, I wanted to let you know. Cuz it sort of, um, complicates things?”

We discuss. A puppy is not like a cat, you see. The cat poops and pees in a box inside the house. It’s very convenient not being on bathroom duty all the time. Like, I can leave my cat in my apartment overnight. I can go out for long stretches. I can (and do) take her out on a leash, but I DO NOT HAVE TO. That’s what I’m saying. Puppies? Yeah, not so much.

What does this really mean? All I hear in Professor Cute Butt’s call was: words words words BUH-BYE! words words words. So I tell him, ever-accommodating, “We’ll figure it out!”, then added, as an insecurely-attached girl is wont to do, “That is, if you want to figure it out…?”

“I wouldn’t be calling you otherwise, silly!” He doesn’t actually say “silly” but that’s the tone. Like, DUH!

Then he adds, “My therapist was trying to be helpful and said that a puppy doesn’t mean you can’t meet up with people and go for walks. But he doesn’t realize that the person I’m thinking of, well……” He trails off, but he doesn’t need to complete that sentence. We both know: I am not someone who can just “go for walks.” Not with this leg.

We hang up. I am bummed out. The puppy. The squirrel. I’m the squirrel. Enter the puppy. Exit the squirrel, on a quiet little squirrel stretcher. No, not really, but yeah, you can tell I was a little existentially flummoxed.

Waiting for the other shoe* – or squirrel, as the case may be – to drop straight out of the sky. That’s just what I do. (Well, that and delivering on my promise to you of mixed metaphors, jeez.)

Anyway, enter my ever-wise bff. While we’re deconstructing, you know, Everything, she points out – well, he values you enough to consider the impact of a puppy on you guys? And he CALLED you to tell you? After only 4 dates? Um, yeah, I wouldn’t worry about it.

And when I think about it this way, it even starts to make me a little happy. Maybe I’m not the squirrel. Maybe I get the job, maybe I don’t. Maybe the sky isn’t falling, is what I’m getting at.

So here we are, dear Reader: we started with a sad squirrel story. We ended with a happy puppy story.

How do they go together, pray tell?


See? Done. These two things are totes related.

Now, moving on. Hopefully not to a little squirrel funeral though. Wait, what? You wouldn’t want to accompany me to a little squirrel funeral?


*No actual shoes were harmed in the making of this post. (Only your brain as you tried to follow my, um, logic.)

dating, humor, personal writing

sponge animal

So in a land far far away there once lived a girl who had big dreams. She drew rainbows. She looked for unicorns. She sang on top of coffee tables and did questionable cartwheel dismounts. She loved the smell of crayons, and the look of all the colors lined up in the crayon box. She got chocolate on her nose every time she ate chocolate and it was Glorious. She knew life was just bursting with joy.

Later on, life got hard. Life – her life, to be precise – MY life to be very precise – was hit hard and fast, shattering into a million jaggedy little shards. Like Humpty Dumpty, you can’t just put that sh!t back together again. No, in fact, you gotta make peace with the mess your life has become. Well, no even before that, you must just sit amongst the shards and cry. Sob, really. Oh, you know the kind, where you’ve got more fluids and mucus and sounds coming out of you than you thought possible for a little lady such as yourself.

They call it ugly crying. But ugly crying implies a witness – doesn’t it? It implies it’s ugly cuz someone else is there to see it. Sometimes it’s ugly crying but you’re all by your lonesome. (Then again, if no one is there to see – ALSO, DO NOT LOOK IN THE MIRROR – can it still be ugly crying?…)

In any case, all this crying by yourself on the kitchen floor can just make matters worse, when you think about it – funny. Absurdly, hysterically funny.

I think one night after I’d done a bunch of that kitchen floor sobbing business (some day I’ll get into all the crap that went down that made life go off the rails – no, off the rails makes it sound like it had been on, no more like off the rails of the already-off-the-rails-rails), I was suddenly struck by how ridiculous this situation was.

A grown a$$ woman on the floor, clutching the newly-arrived ashes of her just cremated, first ill suddenly dead three year old cat (baby) and she’s sobbing like it’s her job. Then I remember having the thought, I wonder whether the upstairs neighbors jokingly call me “The Weeper” cuz I’m sure that’s all they ever hear from me (and in my head, I totes register on the neighbors’ radar so prominently that they nickname me, DUH).

And just like that, I’m like – this is actually a wee bit funny.

And I legit started to chuckle, through the sniffling and snorting mucusy mess that I was.

And then I wondered if the neighbors could now hear me laughing and how crazy I must sound – which, you guessed it folks, just made me laugh more, which, yes, then made it all funnier still.

And pretty soon, I wasn’t sure if I was Resilient or flippin’ nuts.

Don’t think I can’t hear you, dear Reader, and I know – maybe you’re right: it is a both / and: resiliency and a touch of insanity (Insanity Lite?). Maybe one needs a bit of nutso to be sanely insane or insanely sane in this nutsotastic world.

Anyway, a couple years ago, when I was starting to date again after being in a long relationship, I remember talking to my bff about what I wanted and didn’t want going forward. And I had the weirdest analogy for it (#shocker): namely, you know those toys for kids that come in those tiny little capsules, but when you put them in water they expand into big sponge animals – dinosaurs or elephants or octopuses (octopi?)? I felt like a sponge animal who kept trying to put herself back into that tiny little capsule, or more to the point, I’d find relationships that made me feel I had to capsule myself up, rein myself in, be something small and tidy just to be loved. (I know, cue the tiny violins.) Cuz really, I was the one doing all this re-capsuling of myself.

You know what, people? I don’t wanna do that BS self censoring, self smallering anymore. (#makingupwordsisfun) I want to be my sponge animal self, soaking up life till I get all big and drippy with it – maybe even unruly and untameable!

Dating again, after a long spell of being all squished back up inside the capsule, I felt suddenly free and sort of massive, spreading my spongey octopi arms out, being all like:





(Wait, does an octopus have a butt?)

All my dates – those poor unconsenting souls – were like little mirrors that showed me all these arms and tentacles and reach that I didn’t even know I had. (Like when a truck is so big it needs those little mirrors to know how big it is and just where it is in space.) I got kinda addicted to all the little mirrors because it was exhilarating learning how big I really was.

My friends called that my Summer of Love. I just kept on unfurling and unfurling, not wanting to get smaller all over again. I was so happy I felt downright sparkly!

But right at the tail end of the Summer of Love, me and my sparkles fell in love goddamnit – head over octopi arms in love. And slurrrrrrpppp – in I rolled my unfurled limbs and in I rolled my unfurled self, and bit by bit, the re-furling and re-capsuling began. (See, I promised in my first post that I’d give you lots of mixed metaphors, and I DELIVER, People.)

Which is why it was a cruel irony that one reason the guy I call Tornado left me is because he felt I’d made my life and self too much about him.

Okay. So you were right, Tornado. Still a Jerk, but correct on that one thing.

Point is, to circle my octopi arms all the way back around to my point (wait, did I have a real point or just a bag o’ mixed metaphors?)… I feel a new Summer of Love coming on. Maybe this time though, I will remember I am kinda claustrophobic and don’t like tiny capsules. Maybe this time y’all can help me remember. And maybe when the “tragedy” of my life became just a little bit funny to me – when the mucusy snorts turned from cry-snorts to laugh-snorts – is when I remembered my mojo. Like, Ohhhhh yeah! I AM A BAD A$$ SPONGE ANIMAL. Stand back, all you tiny capsules and capsulators, and HEAR ME ROAR.

(Wait, do octopi roar? Do sponge animals? #mixedmetaphorsarefun)

No matter, this is me, roaring.

dating, humor, personal writing

retiring that jersey

So before I even get into any updates on Professor Cute Butt, I just gotta resolve this one thing.

Ok, I’m not a sports person, at all, so bear with me. But I’m pretty sure in sports – you know, like whackball and footbasket, the old standards – the players have jerseys with numbers on them and stuff to tell them all apart. Right? And furthermore, I’m pretty sure sometimes a player is so remarkable that they “retire” his jersey and number when he retires. Yeah?

So yeah. That’s gonna happen with my ex’s text-tone.

Not so fast. “Remarkable” doesn’t mean what you think it means. Remarkable does not here mean Awesome. Just remarkable. You know, like natural disasters or other catastrophes are remarkable.

So anyway it’s been a while – we broke up last summer – okay, okay, you guessed it, I say we broke up like it was all perfectly fine by me. Yeah, no – he dumped my a$$. And you know how it went down, don’t you – maybe you’ve been there too: In that “mutual” this-is-best-for-both-of-us-and-if-we-don’t-want-to-destroy-the-love-we-had-this-is-our-only-option pussyfoot bullsh!t kind of way? Yeah.

Anyway, this guy, I’ll call him Tornado, cuz – lets be real – the post breakup nicknames are far more spot on than the cutesy courtship nicknames they get – Tornado fell hard and fast for me (he always said it was love at first sight) and I fell hard and fast for him. But he ran his life like a tornado blowing through town. Sometimes he’d include me. (Wheeeee, did I feel special!) Other times he just ripped right on past, toppling me and blowing my silly hopes to dust as if I didn’t even register.

In any case, I’d given Tornado his very own text-tone early on so I’d know who the text was from without seeing it. Yeah, yeah, okay, I did get super excited every.damned.time I heard it. I’d hear the little chime and it said, See! he does remember you! You’re not completely forgotten! He’s thinking of you Right Now!


Then, naturally, the little chimes went silent. As they do when someone suddenly breaks your heart and leaves your life.

Fast forward to a month ago, I was watching a movie, and I heard the little chimes – and my body did one of those adrenaline fire drills. My heart raced, my head and hand went immediately for my phone, and I did – I got excited, just for that nano second before I realized. Spoiler Alert: The chime was *not* him texting me telling me he had finally realized he had made The Biggest Mistake of his life leaving me. Nope. The chiming was coming from inside the TV.

Hearing myself sigh so pathetically, I snapped to – I have to Do Something about this! I have to desensitize myself so I no longer do a stupid heartflip whenever I hear that damn sound.

So I re-assigned the little chimes to my sister – she texts everyday and we have a great relationship! Only positive feelings when she texts! It’ll be no time before I’m totally desensitized! Maybe this is the key to finally getting over Tornado!

It’s been two weeks people, and my heart still does that little flip in the nanosecond before I remember – it’s not him. The little chime now says, Yep, the erasure is complete, you are forgotten, Tornado’s really gone.

So, folks, I think it’s come to this: Imma need to retire this jerkoff jersey. Not cuz that player was so great. No, in fact, it’s more cuz he blew. Hard.

Little Chimes, you are not getting re-assigned to anyone else. You and Tornado can ride off into the sunset together. Hope you have a happy &@/;ing life. Buh-bye!

My sister is reclaiming her old text-tone, the typewriter, and we will all just be on our merry god damn way.


dating, humor, personal writing

heart mouthguards

Third date with Professor Cute Butt was really nice. He did NOT wear loafers. He DID come straight from work… wearing a BOW TIE. Come on, dude! Not helping. SMH.

No, in all seriousness, he seems like a real prospect. IN SPITE of the LOAFERS and, you’re killing me, Prof. CB, BOW TIES, he seems like a decent guy. I don’t mean “decent” like “meh” – I mean decent, like a Good Person with a Strong Moral Compass.

He also knows all about the job out of state. (Update on job: they can’t decide between me and the other guy, so they’re calling every reference so as to hopefully come to a decision soon. Hmm. Pins & Needles, meet Waiting.) He said, “I looked it up – it’s not actually THAT far.”

Third date saw more talking talking talking, and more laughter. More holding of hands (and not unintentional or non-mutual hand-holding) and – are you ready for this – massaging of my head. He did that, I think mindlessly, while we hung out on a bench in a random lobby (it’s f’n COLD out) before his train came. Did he know that the key to my heart is through my scalp? How did he know this? *I* did not even know this. Till he did it. Then I was like, Whaaa? I’m putty now. Can’t talk. Can’t – nope, not now. Putty. Putty doesn’t talk. Or think. Putty just kinda laps up head massages.

So that’s how that went down.

Here’s the thing. Remember how I told you about my heart having bit the dust so many times in the past it’s missing teeth? And how I therefore need to find little heart mouthguards, just to protect myself even a wee little bit, or at least, to give the illusion my heart has some protections in place? Well, that plus that fact that, in this new era of dating, and much to my own dismay, I’ve suddenly started to Date like a Dude. So what we have here is this:

I have a date tonight with a different guy.

I know what you’re thinking.




Oh, wait, what? You’re probably not quite as vicious as my inner voice? Inner voice is like YOU LITTLE LYING BITCH. Professor Cute Butt could be starting to have Actual Feelings for you, and you go and have yet another First Date? What’s wrong with you?!?!

I will just tell all of you this: heart mouthguards.

Inner voice, don’t look at me like that. Prof. CB and I are not exclusive (yet). Just gonna slip this one date under the wire. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

dating, humor, personal writing

a perfect date nightmare: loafers

So I had a second date with Professor Cute Butt, and I will have another today.

That said, he wears Loafers, people.

Ok, a bit of background is in order: I went to a private high school we’ll just call Preppy Prep. All Preppy Prep boys wore loafers. Most with no socks and actual pennies stuffed in for proper prepster props. I absolutely – for lack of a better word – ABHORRED both Preppy Prep school and Preppy Prep boys.

So when Professor Cute Butt got out of his car at our second date and I saw Loafers, I could barely hear him over the alarm bells going off in my head.


Okay okay, I can hear you, dear Reader. You’re saying, “Oh.My.Gawd!, don’t be so shallow! Especially since it sounds like you’ve had about as much luck dating as Oscar the Grouch had with getting out of that trash can! Who cares about his shoes! It’s a man’s heart, his character, how he treats you that matters, you numb-nut! Don’t screw this up!”

Either that or you are driving our proverbial getaway car – I picture a black Escalade – and are racing up alongside me being all like “HERE! JUMP IN, QUICK!”

In my defense, my hardline anti-loafer platform is not about footwear, per se. (Although, have you seen these things?)

No, it’s about Social Justice.

OK hear me out.

Loafers, to me, represent someone who comes from money, someone who has had a life of privilege, someone who went to schools like Preppy Prep. Loafers might, though not necessarily, indicate a person who is … less than woke. Loafers say, I’d rather be at the yacht club polishing our new sailboat. (Oh wait, do people polish a sailboat, or am I just thinking of silver? If people do polish a sailboat and are at a yacht club, they probably are also people who have other people to do the polishing. Well, you know what I’m getting at.) Loafers don’t *necessarily* say, I’m a racist and I think poor people are just lazy and homeless people should get a damn job and sick people must’ve done something to bring illness and pestilence upon themselves. (Wait, what is pestilence again?) Anyway, Loafers don’t mean all that. But they could. They could. That’s all I’m sayin.

Ok, holy stereotyping, Self! Let’s go easy on the guy. This is all about your past history having gone to Preppy Prep where all the boys drove Beemers and had CEO daddies and told maids what to do. They were budding Brett Kavanaughs, complete with good buddies named Squi and games like the Devil’s Triangle. Just cuz my high school made me forever get the heebie jeebies whenever I see loafers or – god forbid- plaid – no, I’m sorry, madras- shorts, doesn’t predict a single thing about Professor Cute Butt.

Still…. you can imagine my concern.

Our third date is in a matter of hours. My mission, should I choose to accept it: Operation Woke-o-Meter. Do his loafers point to a character flaw that would prohibit any further development of a relationship?! Who knows! Maybe he’s Dope AF.

Second date involved mojitos, tapas sharing, and a lot more snorting. This time, I made him really laugh. He said, wiping at his eyes, “I’m literally crying laughing!” and he’d only had a quarter of his drink so I can’t blame the mojito really. I have never made someone cry-laugh (and admit it) on a second date before, so needless to say, I felt pretty damn good about how this was going.

Also, there was a bit more, ahem, testing out of the chemistry factor. We are not all academics here so I’ll skip past the Methods section and get right to the Conclusion: Yes. Yes, we do have chemistry.

So the second date, even though it was > seven hours, did not allow for ample testing in the WHY LOAFERS category of this experiment.

That is what tonight is for.

Well, in addition to keeping my mind off whether or not I got the job….

Will report back. Get that Escalade running,

dating, humor, personal writing

professor cute butt

God help me if we end up in a real relationship because it shall be here-forth known to all of the interwebs that I had a GREAT date with a man whom my BFF and I are calling “Professor Cute Butt.” If you saw his picture on Bumble, you’d understand immediately. (Why am I hearing some crass teenage voice in my head saying, “yeah, don’t look at me like that, you woulda swiped right on his a$$ too.”)

Professor Cute Butt is a professor. Prof. CB does have a cute butt. He is not a professor of buttology or anything, but he could be. That’s what I’m saying, people.

So here’s how it goes down: I have a big interview for a job I am a finalist Friday – the job is OUT OF STATE. Professor Cute Butt is IN STATE, oh yesiree. We met Tuesday, and BOOM. Almost seven hours later, we forced ourselves to part, promising we’d have a second date the day after my interview. It felt like when you try to split a taffy candy with someone. You pull. They pull. The taffy just hangs there, laughing in your face, all “you can’t split taffy, you wanker!” If neighbors were watching us say goodbye, which they very well could have been (DAMN, URBAN LIVING!) they might have had one of two thoughts: 1) Aww, those two! So clearly fond of each other they can’t even say a successful goodbye! 2) GET A F*CKING ROOM.

But what would I do if I got said job AND it actually went somewhere with Professor Cute Butt? You know why I ask this question, don’t you. Yep. That is, just in case you were starting to wonder, how the Universe rolls: “I’ll send you a promising man in one state and a promising job in a different state, all in the same week,” she says, maniacally rubbing her Universe hands together and letting out her Universe cackle.

I see you, Universe, and I am not going to be laughing.

Actually, you probably know me well enough already, dear Reader, to know I actually will be laughing. Because I am quite often finding things very funny. I mean, LOOK AROUND. IT IS ABSURD.

Speaking of laughter, part of the reason I liked Prof. CB so much was because he made me SNORT with laughter. And I made him almost SNARF his beer. I felt more accomplished than I have in a long time. I mean, it wasn’t a successful snarf… yet… but very promising, indeed.

On the other hand: Have I just jinxed both job and man?

I will report back. Maybe I’ll bring the Universe some taffy from the gift shop.

P.S. I do have a nickname, and preferably an emoji too (e.g., glasses + peach), for all the guys. It’s what I do. It’s not something I am super proud of. But guess what, the world is rough and if a man’s gonna make it he’s gotta be tough, and I knew I wouldn’t be there to help you along, so I gave you this name and I said — Oh WAIT, that’s Johnny Cash. Never mind. In any case, you’ll know it’s serious if I drop the nickname. It’s just a handy way to give your poor heart a little buffer and way to laugh and dust itself off if and when it bites the dust hard, again. My heart has bit the dust so many times it’s missing teeth. Nicknames are just little mouthguards for the heart.

Yeah. Uh-huh. Mouthguards for the heart. You heard it here first.

dating, humor, personal writing

the absurdities of dating, life, and other forms of torture

A friend learned I was writing a blog. She wanted to know what it was about.

Sheepishly, I text back, oh, it’s just silly, light and fluffy stuff, you know, about the absurdities of dating, life, and other forms of torture.

And I stopped short – Huh, I like that! I need to remember that for … The Blog!

So does this mean the blogging bug has bit? Cuz I’m like writing down stuff that I am afraid to forget – and not the grocery list or the “fold clothes” or “take shower” notes I write down for myself because I will forget – but little nuggets like that one, sudden thought bubbles about the oddities of experience, that I don’t want to forget – not for myself, but to share?

…Huh. Interesting….

Toto, are we not in Kansas anymore? Has my decade-long writer’s block been broken by giving myself permission to just write about stupid sh!t? Stupid sh!t in an age of deadly serious political savagery and vast and deepening social injustices when I should be too ashamed to laugh at such trivialities? All I needed was TOTAL DISSOCIATION FROM MY SELF? All I needed to write a pseudonym? Polyyanna Savage, you are my hero. You, my pseudonym, make me untouchable. Just as untouchable as that dude over there in his car at a red light picking his nose and looking at it. Behind the car glass – it is GLASS, Dude! – he feels emboldened by the illusion of anonymity to be just who he is! Oh man, he’s going back in for more. Well, you do you, Dude. You do you.

So is this how it’s gonna be? Me finally taking after my father who always had index cards and pen in his shirt pocket (Dad, your pen leaked again!) just so he wouldn’t ever have to forget a good idea for a future academic paper?

Well, cool. I’m okay with that. For Dad, it was writing about Science!, and the Great Tragedies of the Human Condition. For me, it’s writing about Silly Sh!t and the Great Nonsense of the Human Condition.

AKA The Absurdities of Dating, Life, and Other Forms of Torture.

Yeah, OK, the bug has bit.


humor, personal writing

the sun will come out

Do you ever sit down and take a little look-see around your life and think, WHERE THE HELL DID MY MOJO GO?

Yes, that happened to me recently.

For starters, I was, at the time of my existential deliberations, in a kiddie pool at the town rec center pool walking.

Let me set the stage for you. Now I am not very tall, but quite tall enough, thank you very much, to feel painfully visible to the teenage boy lifeguarding, the super-fit serious-swimmers, and the one actual kid (who was, unlike me, in the big girls pool).

So here I am, pool walking for some post-surgical rehab. I already have, as I mentioned in a previous post, the grace of a rhinoceros. Put that rhinoceros in the kiddie pool and require her to put on a swim cap as if she’s about to compete with Michael Phelps, and what you get is a painfully self-conscious rhinoceros.

As I am bouncing away, I notice the lifeguard is looking but trying not to look at me. Oh I see, yes, perhaps it is because I am bouncing not rhythmically up and down, in a regular cadence, but bouncing this way and that, in a helter skelter sort of fashion, zigzagging across the pool without discernible pattern, and catching myself on the side wall every few seconds when I lose my balance. Right. I get it. I look like a crazy person!

It was from this spot that I began to think, WHAT HAVE I COME TO?

Back when I was 7 or 8, I used to have MOJO, you see. I was so confident of my latent charm that I regularly “entertained” my parents’ party guests – even without their specifically requesting I do so! How Very Thoughtful Was I?

In any case, at these parties, I’d cue up the old record player with my favorite album of all time (back then): the soundtrack to Annie: the Movie. The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow was ready to roll. I had my little brother trained to start playing it when I gave him the signal. I ran down to “center stage,” a coffee table in front of the guests, and I got up on top of it, OF COURSE. From this mark, I put the microphone to my mouth and gave my brother the nod and boom! IT’S ON. I took care to really BELT OUT the words so that they could hear me and not just Annie singing. It’s only fair, you know. These people didn’t come here to listen to a record!!

I sang my little heart out. I even had a “routine” if you can call it that. I flung one arm out here at this part of the song, and then the other got flung out at that part of the song. I knew my stuff. I had watched Hee-Haw. I had seen live shows. This is how I knew, performers have to Take a Bow when they are done. So I did, and yep, there was in my memory some pattering of hands together before the parents’ party guests resumed their conversations.

What happened to this little Annie girl? She was a rising star sure that The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow. Sure, too, that the clapping of those guests of her parents meant that they really did enjoy her singing and dancing.

It was only later – I shudder to think how long it in fact took – that I realized I can neither carry a tune, nor move my body in space in any kind of way that could be called dancing. Entertaining, maybe. But not dancing, and definitely not pleasing.

So I put my little orphan Annie self in the trunk of childhood by about age 9 or 10. No more singing. No more dancing. Not even (especially not) Karaoke. What happened? Oh, just the sudden birth of SHAME.

Maybe it was my arrhythmic bobbing in the kiddie pool that brought this memory to the fore. What happened to that little kid that didn’t CARE what she looked or sounded like? She just put her WHOLE HEART into it, whatever it sounded or looked like.

I wonder – if my Annie self had somehow not been decimated by the savage trauma of just being a person, would I still have my life mojo? Would my life have turned out differently?

Or is this like asking, if a tree falls in the forest….

But why is it that some people are able to hold onto their little Annie selves, keep them safe from the brutal storms of life, and bring them out, relatively unscathed, when it is safe to be vulnerable?

I will ponder this question later. For now, I will focus my attention on being a bit less of a rhinoceros in the kiddie pool – or, better yet, recognize that if I must be a rhinoceros, maybe I can become less self-conscious of my rhinocery.

In fact, maybe one day in the not too distant future, I will grab the mike, get up on the proverbial coffee table, and downright celebrate my rhinocery!! With a little tune I know called…. (IN UNISON, PEOPLE!): The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow.