Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Man of My Dreams

When I was very, very small, I had a dream.  In this dream, a bad man was executed.  First, his skin was peeled off.  Then, his muscles were boiled off.  His skeleton fell apart, and so he was nothing but veins and teeth and eyeballs.

He didn't die--in fact, he managed to escape into the woods.

I've always been prone to recurring dreams, and as I watched and rewatched the bad man's unsuccessful execution, he watched me.  In perfect dream-logic, I knew he was angry at me for witnessing his humiliation and escape.  And that when he got better, he would come for me.

He did.

It took a couple of years, but I dreamt of a house.  A giant, ancient, four-story house where the rooms were connected by balconies overlooking a central great room.  I was in my early teens at this point, and Antiques Roadshow was pretty much the greatest thing ever.  So while the adults argued over boring legal stuff, I went exploring in rooms untouched for years.

He was following me.

Not obviously, but lurking in shadows and flitting out of the furthest reaches of my field of vision as I turned my head.  He was keeping some distance, so I pretended I didn't see him.  I slowly began making my way back to the great room, where the adults still shouted.  I still stopped in several rooms--my curiosity was unabated, and I didn't want to blow my cover.  As I got closer to the stairs, I realized:  He knew I knew.  He was teasing me, luring me into a false sense of security. 

I abandoned a trunk of clothes and toys and hurried to the door, trying to look casual.  The staircase was a large stone spiral, and the sound of my footsteps was so much louder than I wished--not casual at all.  I abandoned that tack and ran.  The man--all in black, with a hoodie or jacket pulled up so I could never see his face--his footsteps echoed above me, gaining on me.

I missed the door to the first floor, which would have led me to the great room, to my family.  It was too far from the stairs to that huge room, and he was too close behind me.  I'd never make it.  I kept going down.

There were several basements, and all of them were twisty and confusing and damp and cold and dark.  It seemed I could keep going down those stairs forever.  But he was very close behind me now, just around the bend of the spiral.  Desperate, I ducked into a room and hid behind the open door.

There was immediate silence.  Had the man in black run past me?  Or was he standing on the other side of my door, relishing my fear while he waited for the perfect moment to grab me?

I wake up at this point. 

I've had this dream so often now that I know that house backwards and forwards.  I know all the basements now, and where the kitchen is (on the far side of the house on the first floor, with a large table for prepping), and what the exterior looks like (large tidy lawn, bushes below the first floor windows, six stairs leading to the heavy double front doors, columns holding the balcony above).

But the man in black isn't trapped in this house.  He lurks in dreams about my job, about grocery shopping, about cupcakes and any other crazy thing that swirls through my sleeping brain.  In these other dreams, he's at his scariest--he waits.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bro-Dude the Hulk is one cool bro-dude.

I went to Georgia for work Wednesday and Thursday.  On the flight back to Chicago, I got a window seat.  (Yay!)  In the seat next to me was a hugely burly bro-dude.  (Nooo!)

To give you an idea, he looked rather like the soap guys from Hyperbole and a Half.  Except in a hot pink polo and a "vintage" baseball hat.

His muscles kind of hulked into my personal space, so it was a pretty cozy flight.  He was also super-embarrassed about it and not unintelligent, so we were cool.  I decided if our knees were going to touch even when we were both trying hard to not let our knees touch, I may as well just relax. 

Travelling can make for strange knee-fellows.

All was well until the woman sitting behind me asked her seatmate the distance from the airport to the suburb where I live.  I turned, apologized for accidentally overhearing, and answered.  She looked at me like I was wearing a horse mask and had invited her into my rusty, windowless white van.

I lurched around and tried to fall out the bottom of the plane, but that doesn't even work in really terrible romance novels.

Bro-Dude the Hulk leaned over.

"If you hadn't answered her, I would have."

Muscle on, Bro-Dude, my friend.  Muscle on.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Giraffe Spit Smells Like Marigolds

Yesterday, my whole hand was in a giraffe's mouth.

This giraffe and I got up close and personal.  I know what it's spit smells like.

It was pretty much the best day of my life.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hops in the Right Direction: It's a Journey, and This One's Wet

I know, I know.  No one is really interested in me, and you've only been checking here for the most important question:  What is Prada the Puff up to?

Well, we moved a few months back.  Now, rather than it just being us girls (Prada, Stink the Cat, and me), we've got boys to contend with (the Dude and his two dogs).  We're kind of like the Brady Bunch, only with pets and no maids.  It's awesome.

But Prada has had a hard time adjusting--she's been marking in two places in the house.  At first we thought the behavior would stop once she had a chance to get used to everything, but we're into month four, and the behavior continues.

Back to the drawing board.

I like research, so I've been doing some.  I haven't worked out yet whether her marking is stemming from dominance or anxiety--knowing her, it could be either or both.  A large part of the problem is that she ninja-pees:  leave the room for ten seconds, and when you return, you've got a mess to clean up.  So it's been very difficult to catch her in the act, when we could correct the behavior, or find any common behavior before she does it.  (Because it's by no means every time we leave the room, and it's frequently very shortly after she's been outside and gone potty appropriately.)

But there are options:

  • A shaker can (a soda can filled with pennies you can shake when you observe the behavior):  This probably won't work for us, because we don't generally catch her in the act, and even if we did, she's anxious enough that we don't want to scare her into peeing more, or have her associate those two places with a scary sound.
  • A thorough carpet cleaning:  We've done this once, but it's probably time again, despite spot cleanings.  Hopefully then any lingering smell won't entice her to repeat performances.
  • Keeping her on a leash:  As a temporary solution, it may help us keep an eye on her and prevent any bad behavior or at least let us catch her in the act.
  • More walks:  A tired dog is a well-behaved dog.
  • More bonding time:  If the cause of the behavior is anxiety at the move and the fact that there are more dogs to compete with, special Dana/Prada bonding time may help ease her nerves and prove to her she's still special.  Even if she is already spoiled rotten and gets lots of cuddle time every day.
  • Sprays/barriers to keep her from the problem areas:  Logistically, this won't work for us, as the problem areas aren't neatly contained or able to be cordoned off.
  • Positive reinforcement:  Continuing to praise/treat for appropriate expelling.
  • Doggie diapers:  it'll keep her from marking and will make her uncomfortably damp, so this may be an option until we can retrain her and break the bad habit.

So at this point, it's a matter of experimenting and figuring out what works for both her and us.

We'll get there, and our carpet will be the happier for it.  So will Prada, for that matter.  And she's worth it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The "I don't want to DIE(t). So I'll just eat all these tasty things instead, okay?" Non-Diet for People Who Like Food and Don't Hate Themselves

The word is a loaded one, and it's a word I hate.  I've gone into some detail why I won't do it, but the short version is I like my body, I like food, and I'm not willing to deprive myself.

Which is different than not wanting to eat better.  George the asshole is triggered by food sometimes, and I've been cheating more than is good for me.  So it's back to the basics for me, and cutting out trigger foods:  anything processed, anything white, and beef.

Obviously, this excludes Mt. Dew.  I've tried cutting it out entirely before, and the withdrawal symptoms are pretty terrible.  I've tried switching to diet soda, but the artificial sweetener made me lose time and caused some fairly serious cognitive dysfunction.  Not fun.  But the next 12-pack I'll buy will be the one with real sugar, not high fructose corn syrup.  Because I'm not giving anything up.

And when I want tacos, I'll make it with my accidentally vegetarian recipe instead of ground beef and salty seasoning.  Because tacos are delicious, and I actually like my recipe better.

This weekend, I had a cheeseburger--it was made with ground pork, which the Dude didn't even realize until after he'd inhaled his.  So I'm going to do some recipe-searching and see if I can't find what seasoning was used to make it taste so frigging good.  Because I like cheeseburgers, okay?!

And when I want some ice cream, and nothing but ice cream will do, I will eat some goddamned ice cream.  I could have a bit of food that is terrible for me, or I could feel homicidal.  You tell me what decision is better for my health.

I call it "I don't want to DIE(t).  So I'll just eat all these tasty things instead, okay?" non-diet for people who like food and don't hate themselves.

(True:  I did diet once, with my GP and rheumatologist's approval.  I followed the Lupus Recovery Diet, it helped me figure out what did and didn't work for me, and I have continued tailoring what I eat since then according to what I learned.  It was fucking hard--like the hardest thing I've ever done.  Ever.  And I once carried an air conditioning unit up three flights of stairs without assistance in 100 degree heat.  So have a support group on hand, have your mom on speed dial, and talk to your doctor before trying it or any other "real" diet.)

Monday, October 14, 2013


These are the most common questions I receive.  Here are the anxiously-awaited answers. 

I'm sorry.

1)  Can you help me with my English homework?
Sure.  That money I spent on college ought to be put to some sort of use.

2)  What's with the possums?
I don't know.  It's the best kind of mystery.

3)  What should I read next?
A book.

4)  What are you wearing?
Long underwear in a dingy gray, two pairs of socks, old sweat pants, a hoody two sizes too big, and a parka.  Or if that floats your boat, whatever you think is gross.

5)  Are you a feminazi?
If a dude called out another dude for being a douche, does that make him a dudenazi?

6)  Why do so many crazy things happen to you?  Do you make them up?
Sadly, no.  It's serendipity.  And a lack of social and/or motor skills.

7)  Can I someday be as awesome as your dog?

8)  Nine, Ten, or Eleven?
Ten.  Obviously.  The hair.  And below that, the... sneakers.

9)  You say you are from Wisconsin.  Do you like cheese?
Only if it squeaks.

10)  Who is your hero?
My nana.  I once went to her in an existential crisis.  She took one look at me and said, "Suck it up.  You're a Whoozit*."
*Name changed to protect me from the marsupial-lovers.

11)  How do you get through each day?
On my monitor, I have a shrine to the Virgin Mary, Superman, and Britney Spears. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Happily Ever After, Cat Edition!

When I got to work yesterday, everyone was in a buzz.  A kitten was in the engine block of a company truck, and no one could get it out.  Someone had even stolen some tuna out of the fridge as enticement, but no dice.  Eventually everyone wandered back inside to do some actual work.

Except me, because I'm a sucker, and the poor thing was crying.  And a coworker's husband, who's a softy for cats.  He'd recommended we try unclipping the underside of the dash cover, and I recommended putting the plate of tuna on the battery, where we'd maybe have a chance to grab it.  We did both--the tuna lured the kitten to a place where we could just grab it from inside the cab.

I took him inside, gave him a bit of a bath in the bathroom with dishsoap with a friend's help (not ideal, but he was covered in oil, and it's what we had), let him eat a bit of the tuna, and grabbed a blanket out of my car for him.

Long story short:  he checked out fine with the vet, and he went home with my friend.  Her kids are ecstatic, and the kitten (who has been named the Slovenian word for "cat," which I can't spell, but which sounds like "Muchki") has made himself right at home.

Yeah, he's adorable.

Monday, October 7, 2013

There are things you'd think I'd remember...

I've been told I can get a little feisty.  And I fight flat-out dirty.  I'm small and arthritic, so I've got to strike quickly and efficiently.

So I bite.

Not strangers or whatever, just friends and the Dude, whenever we get to wrestling.  (Actual wrestling--get your mind out of the gutter.)

The Dude commented on this penchant of mine last week.

"Yeah," I said, laughing.  "Remember that time I missed and accidentally bit your nipple?"

"Uh, that wasn't me..."

Whose nipple did I bite?!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ricky, you have some mansplainin' to do...

It was my senior year of college.  I had taken a fall down a flight of stairs, and had some pretty severe bruising on the inside of my left arm, and a ladder of less-severe bruises down my back.  Hurt like a mother, but nothing terribly serious.  However, within a few days I'd developed some hard lumps in the bruise on my arm--calcium deposits.

I took myself off to the campus health center, and the doctor happened to be in.  (He was usually available for a couple of hours, two or three days a week; the rest of the time the nurse was available.  And generally more helpful.)  I sat on the table, rolled up my sleeve, and explained that I was concerned by what I felt--

"Don't worry.  It's not cancer."

--which I was pretty certain was a series of marble-sized calcium deposits, and what was the best course of action to take to ensure I didn't pass them through my urethra.

"Oh.  Oh.  Well, warm, damp compresses should help with that."

Gee, thanks.  I'm so glad you were able to ease my fears about cancer of the bruise.  What color ribbons does that have again?  I'm sure I saw it on a rubber bracelet somewhere.

If you don't know what mansplaining is or aren't aware how commonplace it is for women to be on the receiving end of it (from whatever gender), I recommend checking out this link.