Friday, December 01, 2006

Some people just don't get it

This is a sample of the stupid stuff that goes in people's charts. This doctor says the same thing no matter where the patient has been injured.

The patient is a 15-year-old otherwise healthy right hand dominant male who incurred the above-mentioned injury after punching another schoolmate or person in the head with his right fist. There was no head trauma or loss of consciousness.

Either way you take it, the doctor is an idiot, and he's a plastic surgeon.

That is all. Disperse.


This is the first morning all week I've had a little time to myself to more than glance through my emails. Today, I received my issue of The Write Way and noticed more than a few things the editor, Jennifer Stewart, and I have in common. I love when that happens because it reminds me that we are not so very different no matter where we live. Jennifer lives in Australia.

Last week's issue of the newsletter had a lovely little piece on cow economics that I just had to borrow:

Feudalism: You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.

Pure Socialism: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else's cows. You have to take care of all the cows. The government gives you as much milk as you need.

Bureaucratic Socialism: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else's cows. They are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and as many eggs as the regulations say you should need.

Fascism: You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk.

Pure Communism: You have two cows. Your neighbors help you take care of them, and you all share the milk.

Russian Communism: You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk.

Dictatorship: You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.

Singapore Democracy: You have two cows. The government fines you for keeping two unlicensed animals in an apartment.

Militarism: You have two cows. The government takes both and drafts you.

Pure Democracy: You have two cows. Your neighbors decide who gets the milk.

Representative Democracy: You have two cows. Your neighbors pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.

American Democracy: The government promises to give you two cows if you vote for it. After the election, the president is impeached for speculating in cow futures. The press dubs the affair "Cowgate."

British Democracy: You have two cows. You feed them sheep's brains and they go mad. The government doesn't do anything.

Bureaucracy: You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. After that it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.

Anarchy: You have two cows. Either you sell the milk at a fair price or your neighbors kill you and take the cows.

Capitalism: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.

Hong Kong Capitalism: You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax deduction for keeping five cows. The milk rights of six cows are transferred via a Panamanian intermediary to a Cayman Islands company secretly owned by the majority shareholder, who sells the rights to all seven cows' milk back to the listed company. The annual report says that the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. Meanwhile, you kill the two cows because the Feng Shui is bad.

Environmentalism: You have two cows. The government bans you from milking or killing them.

Feminism: You have two cows. They get married and adopt a veal calf.

Totalitarianism: You have two cows. The government takes them and denies they ever existed. Milk is banned.

Political Correctness: You are associated with (the concept of "ownership" is a symbol of the phallo-centric, war-mongering, intolerant past) two differently-aged (but no less valuable to society) bovines of non-specified gender.

Counter Culture: Wow, dude, there's like ... these two cows, man. You got to have some of this milk. Far out! Awesome!

Surrealism: You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

Japanese Democracy: You have two cows. You give the milk to gangsters so they don't ask any awkward questions about who you're giving the milk to.

European Federalism: You have two cows which cost too much money to care for because everybody is buying milk imported from some cheap east-European country and would never pay the fortune you'd have to ask for your cows' milk. So you apply for financial aid from the European Union to subsidize your cows and are granted enough subsidies. You then sell your milk at the former elevated price to some government-owned distributor which then dumps your milk onto the market at east-European prices to make Europe competitive. You spend the money you got as a subsidy on two new cows and then go on a demonstration to Brussels complaining that the European farm-policy is going drive you out of your job.

Jennifer seems to have a thing for animals because last week she wrote about crocodiles and this week about hearing a nature program about stone martens. She thought they were birds but they are actually weasel-like rodents that have adapted to living in cathedrals and the like. That reminded me of the pine marten I thought was an escaped ferret when I lived at the cabin. It took me a while to figure out what he really was because I was fascinated with how he could get off a deck 20 feet above ground without using the stairs, which is what he used to get onto the deck. Then I woke up one morning and saw him fly from the top of a lodgepole pine tree and hit the ground running. I thought one of his parents must have been a flying squirrel and I realized he couldn't be an escaped ferret. That's when a little Google and research came in handy and I found out he was a pine marten.

So, imagine Jennifer's surprise when she realized the stone marten wasn't a bird (martin) but a rodent (marten). She discovered a new animal--again.

Speaking of animals, Pastor, and several other dogs in the area, has been quite antsy and difficult this week. Well, he was difficult until Wednesday night. Many times over the early part of the week I heard the landlady yelling at Pastor and she was taking him on a lot of walks. Their usual routine is a 2.5-3-mile walk at 6:30 a.m. but she was taking him out whenever she didn't have a client and again in the evening...until Wednesday night when it snowed. She let Pastor out onto the deck and he took up his favorite snoozing position while the snow fell, as gentle and tractable as a baby lamb for the first time in days. When I took some butternut squash soup downstairs for the landlady she told me that Pastor had finally settled down and she told me he was on the deck. There he lay in the darkness, lit only by the kitchen light, covered with snow and sleeping peacefully. He was finally happy because the heavy pressure of the impending storm had broken. I suddenly knew what had me on edge in the days before the storm.

We were supposed to have a wind storm and the temps were going to plummet but I had a feeling it was going to snow and snow hard. It did.

When I lived at the cabin I became more attuned to the rhythms of nature and the weather. Since I've lived in the city for nearly two years I thought I had lost that ability but I obviously haven't. As I look back across the months I realize that my moods have been in tune with the changes in weather patterns and that I am cranky and unsettled whenever a storm is looming and the air is charged and waiting. It's the psychic equivalent of nails on a blackboard, just as it is for animals who act up before a big storm or earthquake. I guess I haven't lost it all after all and being in the city hasn't dulled all my senses.

I do sometimes wish I was back at the cabin and didn't have to bother with a scheduled job, that I can write whenever the mood strikes me and not have to put it off until I've typed enough pages. I miss the slower and more organic pace and I miss the solitude at times, although living here has its positive side, too. I have some level of solitude but there is always the sound of rushing traffic and the voices and daily sounds around me from the landlady and Nel and the neighbors. The neighborhood is peaceful at times but it gets loud when a Harley passes in the street with its deep-throated growling roar, shattering the calm and the low level white noise that seeps in through the cracks and windows. There are many more lights here and the dark is not the palpable entity that wrapped me close at the cabin. I cannot go out onto the deck (I don't have one here) and reach up and touch the stars or marvel at the full moon that floods the landscape with blue-white brilliance. Yet the sights and sounds, and especially the smells, of holiday baking and impromptu cookery have made my little corner of this neighborhood a home that I am reluctant to leave.

There are no pine martens launching from tree tops across the morning sky but there are ragged and gaunt foxes that trot past when dawn fingers the sky with rose and gold and copper in pursuit of sleep addled squirrels. It's a trade-off, but most of life is.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Unquiet ghosts

It's howling outside, scratching at the windows with clawed fingers, trying every crack and hairline opening in the walls and windows. The trees are waving wildly, tossing leafless crowns, demanding my attention. I hear nothing but the rushing scream of the wind. Traffic is muted and a few brave souls fight their way up the street. It's cold outside these covers and the heater is across the room. Soon I will have to venture out of my warm nest of blanket and pillows to fix breakfast and work, shivering until the little heater spreads its warm glow throughout my safe haven against the unquiet ghosts that ride the wild winds.

Not now.

Not yet.


Monday, November 27, 2006


I just got the news I sold Chili Night to an anthology that will be published next year. They're also buying another one of my stories for another anthology.

ADDENDUM: This is my day for certain. I received two more emails. I sold two more stories and the books will be out next year. At this rate, I might be able to quit typing doctors' dictations in about five years.

That is all. Disperse.


My bed is covered with books. Okay, the whole bed isn't covered, just the side I don't sleep on. Books, magazines and DVDs and all the necessities for when I take a day off, put up my feet and forget about work and responsibilities and anything outside these walls. It's a little mini vacation. The books and magazines and DVDs and computer and camera and phone and paper journal and pen still keep me company most nights, disappearing for the occasional guest and reappearing almost as soon as they are gone. It's one of the perks of being single.

This weekend just past I had Pastor and we had a good time. He was a nuisance now and again but mostly he is a loving and sometimes demanding companion that pushes me out of my comfort zone and into the world to take care of his needs first. It means stumbling bleary-eyed down the stairs and waiting in the frigid breeze while he does his business in the front yard and enduring his weight when he decides to sit down next to me--or more often on top of me. He's a big dog and I usually end the time with him covered in hair. Not mine, of course, since that usually decorates the carpet and hair brush in the bathroom, and occasionally my pillow and blanket, but his hair. I get furred. It's a lot better than getting skunked.

The landlady got skunked second hand when her daughter's dogs were sprayed twice over the holidays. I got a strong whiff of it when I went downstairs Friday night to feed Pastor his dinner and it wasn't pleasant. I'm used to the fading scent of eau de skunk on the road and not up close and in my face. Breathing through the mouth is crucial to keeping the stink to a minimum and getting in and out as quickly as possible. Since it was freezing Friday night I couldn't leave the landlady's windows open, but I made sure I got out of there and into the fresh cold air as soon as I finished feeding Pastor. I can't imagine how it must be at her daughter's house since the dogs were still there and still covered in a double dose of eau de skunk. They may have to change the dogs' names to Pepe.

Beanie's dog Gander got skunked again a couple months ago and from all reports still smells like eau de skunk. I love dogs, but I don't think I want to have one of my own. I can borrow the landlady's dog when I want a companion for walks and I love taking care of him for a few days every once in a while, but I don't think we'll be doing any nature walks where there are skunks. I prefer my own home brewed scents of a more benign nature and gifts that don't keep on giving and are nearly impossible to get rid of.

In the meantime, I'm waiting for one more package to finish out a gift box for a special friend. Except for one or two items, it's a silly kind of gift that I hope they will appreciate. I started buying the items back in March. I hope he doesn't mind too much since he's not really fond of gifts and the last one was a huge disappointment for everyone involved. I hate to let a good gift go to waste and no one else would appreciate it, so I'll take a deep breath and plunge into the deep end. It's a curse having the holiday spirit when you have it like I do--all year long.

That is all. Disperse.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


It is said there are only six degrees of separation, that there are on six connections between you and everyone else on the planet. With the Internet, and probably because of Live Journal, that gap is much smaller. Connecting by glowing lines of energy like a virtual spider's web that touches nearly every computer on the planet. Strangers meet online and share bits and pieces of their lives, but usually only the good parts, the happy moments, or the moments that show us in a good light. It is as if we never get bad breath or body odor, never pass gas or wake up with our swollen from crying or lack of sleep. We are on a perpetual first date when first appearances are all that matter. We save the bad moments, the sadness, the loneliness, the anger and less than perfect hair days for close friends, family and the person who shares our homes.

Every once in a while someone vents and allows their anger and disappointment and pain out onto their journal. Some people understand and offer support. Some people rant and rave about how negative the person is for showing how human and fragile they really are. Some people read and say nothing, either from shock or because they don't know what to say.

Sometimes we just need to vent without seeing the positive side of things, without looking for reasons or answers and just because we want someone to listen or read and stay silent.

A couple days ago a friend called me nearly in tears. I had offered a positive slant to her situation. She wasn't ready to hear positive. She wanted to feel the pain and anger and disappointment. I listened just as she has listened to me rant and rave at times. She needed a friend and an ear, not answers. That is difficult for me. I don't like seeing anyone in pain and cannot help myself; I want to offer my support and understanding. Sometimes it is welcome; sometimes it is not.

We all have demons and secrets and days when nothing goes right. We cannot see the bottom of the well and there is no light to guide us while we dig ourselves out. Lying there and allowing the earth to cover us so we can let go and not have to face another moment of pain or struggle or disappointment or betrayal is seductive. We want to quit, to just lie down and go to sleep forever. I've felt it and I feel it from time to time even now. But I'm a fix-it person and I seldom allow the dirt to cover me for long. As long as I'm breathing I know things will change because they have--many times.

Those who know me well know some of my story and know that my life has not been easy, not even as a child. I have stood at a graveside with my youngest sister while they lowered a small white coffin into the ground and shoveled the earth over her first born child. I have watched my grandmother's body wracked with pain as her muscles and tendons pulled her back into a fetal ball and even the most loving touch caused her to scream with mindless pain. I have lost a child and known rape. I have been lied to and used and I have walked away from love. I watch my parents sink further and further into old age and disease and I live with the knowledge that this day might be their last on earth at this time. I have been homeless and I have been alone, sometimes by choice, and I have been surrounded by friends. I have had acquaintances call me best friend and then stab me in the back. I have taken help when I had none to give in return. I have said goodbye to close friends when I really meant until I see you again and they died before I saw them again. I have been brutalized by the men who promised to love and cherish me until death and I have been loved the way fairy tales taught me to believe in.

What you see here is a small part of who I am and sometimes it's the best of me. Mostly what you read here is me working my way through life and learning as I go. I hope some small part of what I offer helps you understand me a little bit but mostly I hope what I write helps you understand yourselves and the people around you. I hope what I write makes a connection that shows you that you are not alone, that no matter how bad things get someone has been where you stand right now and they understand, that I understand. I know I'm not alone because I have friends and family and because I have known true love. That makes all the pain and the anger and the betrayals bearable.