Friday Music Blogging: Leave That Dog Alone Edition

Nothing says “Thank Kali it’s Friday” like a music vid straight out of art school from an over-beautiful band. So here’s one in honor of Mitt Romney’s calculated animal cruelty.

In 90 degree heat, I need a full wardrobe of dresses that touch me on my shoulders and nowhere else. And speaking of bad touching:

Before beginning the drive, Mitt Romney put Seamus, the family’s hulking Irish setter, in a dog carrier and attached it to the station wagon’s roof rack. He’d built a windshield for the carrier, to make the ride more comfortable for the dog. Then Romney put his boys on notice: He would be making predetermined stops for gas, and that was it.

The ride was largely what you’d expect with five brothers, ages 13 and under, packed into a wagon they called the “white whale.”

As the oldest son, Tagg Romney commandeered the way-back of the wagon, keeping his eyes fixed out the rear window, where he glimpsed the first sign of trouble. “Dad!” he yelled. “Gross!” A brown liquid was dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter who’d been riding on the roof in the wind for hours.

As the rest of the boys joined in the howls of disgust, Romney coolly pulled off the highway and into a service station. There, he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus and the car, then hopped back onto the highway. It was a tiny preview of a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management.

As comedian Paula Poundstone said, “Sometimes, you can be proud of the wrong thing.”

I Love the Flower Girl

Before Miss Sasha was born, I picked her first name and her father picked her middle name. When the time came to sign her birth certificate, her father was off on a bender of some sort. I didn’t know how to spell her exotic French middle name, so I guessed and guessed wrong. Dad said, “Great. You named her Bicycle Seat.” Of course, I really hadn’t. I could spell that. Years later, the Fabulous Ex-Husband(tm) adopted Miss Sasha, and I took the opportunity to correct the misspelling on the new birth certificate. Live and learn.

In May and early June, I heard a whole bunch of people use a phrase over and over. I tried hard to keep a straight face. It is really important to note when communicating with the other humans that what you’re saying is not what the other humans hear. It can’t be. You have your own way of stringing together words that is uniquely yours. My next door neighbor sits outside on warm evenings with a cell and a pack of smokes, and for a couple of hours seems to say nothing more than, “Like…like…you know what I mean?” and I can tell by her inflection she believes her friend does. I don’t have a fucking clue what she means without the ordinary clues provided by nouns and verbs, and I have to say, this neighbor provides me with a very unsatifying eavesdropping experience.

She says one thing. I hear something else. That’s fairly standard.

The phrase I heard everywhere in May and June was “come to Jesus,” as in people were having “a come to Jesus moment.” My brain is of course uniquely mine, but in this case, I’m not sure, so as a public service, I’m saying this in a reasonably public place.

When you say “come to Jesus,” I hear

I’m just sayin’.

So Long To Want Something More

Topaz, quirky Topaz.

This morning, I roused just after sunrise to find cuddly Drusy nestled into my left side, which was lovely. The real surprise was finding mercurial Topaz nestled into my right. Drusy loves me with a drenching pre-teen passion. She climbs on me often and kisses me sweetly. Topaz, prisoner of peer pressure, brushes against me for attention only when Drusy’s not looking. I scratch lovely Topaz below her left ear, where she likes scratching best. Drusy always appears after a minute. Topaz only has eyes for Drusy.

Drusy, relocated to the pillow and poodle blanket so I could work.

I’m a terrible photographer. I’ve deleted dozens of blurry images of fractions of pussycats. When the kittens hear the whirr of camera noise, they split into a large number of small cat pieces and relocate the mewling herd. I’ve developed clever tricks like turning on the camera in another room. The kittens respond by refusing to reflect light when I return to the room. They’re around somewhere, but two camera-shy, six-pound kittens possess a mastery of the laws of physics unknown to humans. Topaz is the brains of the operation. I await the day she threatens me with a Teamster-style wildcat strike.

My apartment used to be quiet and spotless. Now it is always inches from a disaster area declaration. I fully expect to see aerial images of my bathroom on CNN and Jim Cantore staring wide-eyed at the destruction. This week, Topaz’s favorite toy is parsley. She races me to the fridge and climbs halfway in. I resist thinking about those paws in the cat box and tear her off a few sprigs, which she chases across the kitchen. Then she plays with them to bits. Later, when they’re little more than compost, I sacrifice them to the garbage gods. Still later, they return from the dead to haunt the kitchen.

I meant to buy a garbage can this past weekend. I really did.

Swept Away For A Moment By Chance

I had a dream about us. You’re a green fuzzy Muppet and I’m a Tiffany lamp. We go bicycling and sip chocolate milk. One of us wears an ascot, though neither of us has a neck.


It’s serious, and it’s not: just before I open my eyes, I don’t know when I am. Time’s the thing. Will I open my eyes in Hartford, starving, teenaged and pregnant? In New Brunswick, as the driven other woman or so sick I wish I were dead? In Boston, despondent and alone? In what apartment, with what gut-churning fear? Me, as I am, I never wake up back in time, so why should I think I might? With my eyes open, I am here, now, with so little to fear I should rest easy. Yet, I hardly sleep at all.


We have no common language. You, sweet as sunlight, slip in the side door. Later, I remember strawberries in crystal cups.


It’s serious, and it can’t be: I see your face and others behind it. You see a thousand years.


You breathe and breathe, and you breathe without me. On a breeze, I arrive like rain.


It’s serious, and it’s nothing: your names are yours, while mine tear off and scab. Time’s the thing. One day, I will hear my true name. Then as now, will words pass between us?


I have a dream about us. You are a dollar store gift bag and I am a box of rubber bands. We go dancing and load squirt guns with apricot nectar. One of us will leave, though neither of us will ever go.

Friday Music Blogging: Oh How We Danced Edition

Siobhan calculated the odds, and they really were.

Siobhan: How did you meet?
Tata: He was my next door neighbor in your and my hideous hometown. I lived there thirteen years. He spent them under a car with a spanner. For years, I thought he only existed from the knees down.
Siobhan: And why are we talking about him?
Tata: Daria’s decided he’s my next ex-boyfriend, which implies a level of commitment I can live with. His house is three blocks from me now –
Siobhan: So you can throw him out at 3 a.m. without qualms, I get that. Still, he is a friend of the family.
Tata: Yeah, he and Daria are tight. If you can believe this, I’m just not sure.
Siobhan: Then leave it alone. You’ve never had second thoughts about sleeping around. Or first thoughts, for that matter.

Weeks passed. My sister applied gentle pressure.

Daria: Did you email him yet, damn it?
Tata: It’s bothering you that I’m single?
Daria: YES! It’s like Australian wine and hairless cats. You can’t be single!
Tata: Your brain is a scary, scary place. No, I haven’t emailed him. What would I say? “My place, 8:30, bring condoms and mango chutney.”
Daria: Please. You’ve probably got a form letter.
Tata: I do! “Dear [blank]…”
Daria: So…what? Email him!
Tata: I’ve got stuff to do. Maybe next week.

I don’t know what my problem is so it spills over the side.

Siobhan: Why are we still talking about this guy you’re not dating?
Tata: Every guy we talk about is a guy I’m not dating.
Siobhan: Do they know that?
Tata: Well, a few of them know now.

Thirty miles apart, we both look around for that fourth wall.

Tata: Anyway, this is one for the record books because I still haven’t decided, and a cabal of his and my sisters is making secret plans for us. Which I figured out because even between the two of them they can’t keep a secret.
Siobhan: Hmm. Well, if he comes to your place, there’s less chance he’ll put you through a wood chipper. Your family must take comfort in knowing you don’t own a chainsaw or have time to chop him up by hand.
Tata: Not a fine dice, no. And now I’ve pictured myself julienning him juicily with that Rachael Ray knife.
Siobhan: No, no, no! It says specifically: don’t use that on bone!
Tata: You’re correcting my knifing technique mid-hypothetical killing spree?
Siobhan: You might as well email him. He’s unlikely to murder you.
Tata: Is that why I’ve been reluctant all this time?
Siobhan: You haven’t emailed this guy because the last one was psychotic.
Tata: So you’re saying the scary-bad man frightened me into behaving lady-like?
Siobhan: Yup.
Tata: …where did I put that form letter…

Under the Mountain

I called Grandpa. He couldn’t hear me. I called back. He couldn’t hear who I was but asked me to call back in ten minutes. Nine minutes later, Mom called.

Mom: Dad just called me. Were you trying to talk to him?
Tata: I was! He couldn’t hear me. I standing in my office, shouting, “It’s me, your granddaughter Domy” but he couldn’t hear.
Mom: Nobody calls you “Domy.”
Tata: He has, all my life.
Mom: What?
Tata: What?

Seconds tick by.

Tata: He said he was waiting for a phone call?
Mom: Yes. He needs a prescription refilled, I think. He calls the VA in Providence, and they call the pharmacy in Hyannis.
Tata: You’re kidding!
Mom: The VA system is hard for him. I don’t know how they think 90-year-old World War II veterans, who have communication issues, are supposed to communicate with them through phone trees.
Tata: What? WHAT?
Mom: It’s a disaster.
Tata: That’s…not funny.
Mom: No kidding.

Same Old Trip It Was Back Then

Once again, someone’s got to fuck with the kids.

Threats Force SC Library to Cancel Summer Program

Was it a program called – I dunno – Crank Calling for Selfish Bastards?

A South Carolina library system has closed down its summer programs for young adults after receiving threats and allegations that it was trying to promote “witchcraft” and “drug use.”

The Pickens County Library System’s half-hour summer programs for middle and high school students were supposed to take a light-hearted look at the topics “Secrets and Spies: How to Keep a Secret by Writing in Code or Making Invisible Ink” and “What’s Your Sign?” Another program was to examine astrology, palmistry, and numerology; and others were to feature tarot cards, tie-dying t-shirts, how to make a Zen garden, and yoga.

Now the programs are cancelled in the wake of phone and e-mail threats from the community, believed to emanate from a single local Baptist church. The astrology program was labeled as “witchcraft” by callers, while the Zen garden and yoga programs were objected to as “promoting other religions.” The t-shirts workshop? “Promotes the hippie culture and drug use,” callers said.

“If you have an anonymous call of a bomb, what do you do?” asks Library Director Marguerite Keenan, explaining her decision to cancel the YA programs. “You clear the building, you close the building for the protection of the children. And that’s hugely sad.”

I don’t feel sad. I’m pissed.

Keenan says that the stream of threatening 20 or 30 anonymous phone calls, plus e-mails, began two weeks ago. Callers spoke of “picketing” the county’s four libraries and made statements such as “We’re going to get you” and “How dare you?”

She says that a local reporter traced some of the signed e-mails to congregants of a Baptist church, whose pastor was interviewed about the threats.

Keenan adds that she made her decision because she also runs children’s programs and “I’m not going to have preschoolers walk between a gauntlet of pickets.

“It’s just sad that they didn’t feel comfortable enough to talk,” Keenan says of the church protest. “We do have a broad community here. And we are a public agency that needs to support all.”

I have only one question: who’s under arrest?

Make the Mountains Ring Or Make the Angels Cry

We’re both smiling a little stupidly. He’s wearing a turnout coat and gear. He must be sweltering. I’m warm in a guinea t and boxer shorts, holding a bottle of bright red nail polish.

Fireman: Smoke detector ringing?
Tata: Nope. You can hear it in the distance but not here.
Fireman: It’s going off in units 8 and 10.

I stare at him. We’re not in those.

Fireman: Well, call us if yours goes off.
Tata: I’ve absolutely got your number.