Tuesday, February 28, 2017

screen time

To be fair, today's screen time gluttony is kind of my dog's fault.  I joined a new training program that requires being online a fair bit and then there's all the bonding with the other folks to do, of course.  And, Ziggy is too lethargic to do much after about 10:30 this morning.  She woke up super happy and responsive, we went for a walk on a long line and worked on recall, came home and did a training game, and played in the backyard with a training game, and she was really done.  We tried other things and she would try to rally but she's just tired and wants to sleep.  Which is not what I expect in  2-year-old dog.  So I want to take her off the Prozac.  So I read more about those things and ...

IT's just too easy to spend too much time on-line.  It is for me, at least.  It's like a drug - the conversations and the learning and just all of it.

But I really need to cut back.  It takes so much of my time and I have way too much other stuff to do.  And I"m not kicking my ass too much about this - I really needed down time.  But now I need to get back in gear.


One of the things of being on line is seeing news, like a dear friend's dog dying.  ONly 9 years old, at the groomer, they think it was a heart attack or stroke.  He was a big dog, a lurking hulk of a sweet sweet beast - but I would have expected at least a few more years.  I anticipated us going camping together this summer, for him to teach Ziggy to chill the fuck out.

It's a great reminder to enjoy the time I have with Ziggy.  Her lack of stamina indicates to me a general not healthiness and I fear I may not have her for the 14 or so years I expected.  I hope I do, but I have to remember to not take it for granted.

This morning we had a lovely time - I took her to a levee on a long line to work on recall again.  She's not crazy about coming right when called so we'll keep working on it - it goes against her nature so I'm patient.  We rounded a bend and there was a Lab right there.  Ziggy saw it, I called her, she came, and we walked back the way we'd come.  No drama, though she was done and told me it was time to go home (she headed straight for the truck and wasn't interested in going further).  Now she sits at my feet, a very good dog.  She will likely spend the day napping.  Again.  Unless I force it, she wants to sleep like 22 hours a day.

Grateful for the Lab who didn't chase after us or bark.  We need to interact with more dogs like that, for Ziggy to gain calm.

So I am not going to spend today again on-line.  I spent hours and hours yesterday for the dog (learning things and interacting with other owners), so I don't need to do that again.

I need to do some yardwork, some house cleaning, and loads of homework.  I haven't cracked a book this whole long weekend so I'm wildly behind, but I needed the break.

IF you want to see something fun - check out this article with video of the winners of the NPR Tiny Desk Concert - from New Orleans, friends of friends.  I've not yet seen them perform live but they absolutely have star quality, it's clear from the video.  This is typical New Orleans - the energy, the creativity. This is such an alive place.  Love it.

OK ... moving away from this screen ...

Monday, February 27, 2017

privilege salad

There is so much privilege packed into what I eat, it's good to remember.

I'm right now eating a salad, broken into these parts:
  • Feta - I'm fortunate to have a membership at Costco where I can afford to buy and have space to store large quantities.  This organic Greek feta is AMAZING.  It's so tasty, I love it.  It reminds of cheese when I've been in places like Greece because I've been fortunate enough to travel.
  • Dill - because I've been fortunate enough to live throughout the world, sometimes I crave food from those places.  Russians use dill fantastically and so every so often I just really want some dill.  When I lived in Azerbaijan, there was a man with a huge overflowing cart of herbs on my way to work each day. The best dill and everything else.  I was able to get some dill at Trader Joe's that makes me remember these things. 
  • Scallions - I bought them for another salad, and because I have refrigeration and can keep them and use later.  So many people in the world don't have that option.
  • Cucumbers - I don't even know what to call the cucumbers usually found at the supermarket, with waxed green skins.  I also don't like to eat them.  Instead, I discovered some years back when I had a Turkish friend, that Persian cucumbers are delightfully mild.  A great taste.  Goes perfect with this amazing feta and the dill.  And they have organic ones at Trader Joe's.  Which I can drive to because I'm fortunate enough to have the means for an automobile. 
  • Vinegar and oil - I have a huge variety of them because I can.  
Add all this privilege together and I have an amazing tasty and healthy salad. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Got a call from my friend who is mother to my godsons.  Yesterday the younger turned 13 and I forgot as usual, and he said: Auntie Gringa must be falling off her chair surprised right now that I'm a TEENAGER!

So she called to let me save face and to let him feel loved.  It was a nice gesture. I'm an asshole.  I've never been a really good godmother.  Of course I would take them in case of emergency and when their father was in a coma I quit my job to show up and run things - but I'm only good in emergencies, really.  I'm not good with daily shit like birthdays.  Because I suck.

Randomness: I was outside clipping some rosemary for dinner and the neighbor dog barked hysterically which made Ziggy bark and I said with some annoyance: "Oh, I am just fine."  Ziggy thinks that the tiny wisp of a neighbor dog is some kind of threat to me.  She ignores him for hours of him barking at her, but as soon as I'm out there and go to the fence and he barks at me, well suddenly this is a SERIOUS MATTER that SHE MUST HANDLE.  She has even pushed me out of the way with an: I got this. 

So as I said that my tenant was passing right below and said: I'm glad? 

It was funny.  A sitcom moment. 

She was near the awful moment yesterday when a drunk driver rammed into a crowd of parade watchers and injured 28 people.  To this I have to say: I am sorry for the people who were hurt and I'm glad all will recover fully and I hope they have health insurance.  To the newspapers who chose to lead the story with a quote from his grandmother about him being a good boy, I say FUCK YOU.  FUCK YOU for making every African-American male of his age seem a dangerous criminal for far less, for never writing a story like that. 

My friend who now lives up north came over and it was like old times - before he had a nervous breakdown and turned mean.  We just mostly sat around and it was good.  He was goddamn determined to make Ziggy love him and he succeeded.  He said: I think it would be really good for Chloe to have another dog.  Then he said he's holding that spot for Ziggy, because he's sure that I'll be taking off and leaving the country and need a place for her.  He did agree that in the case of my demise that he will get Ziggy to Oregon, but he was disappointed: "Wait, I don't get your dog OR your truck?"  Good grief my truck is in high demand among my potential survivors.  But I'm really glad for a backup placement for Ziggy.  He could handle her - he had an asshole of a massive dog who recently died of old age. 

Not that I'm planning on dying. 

a woman with a plan

I was up until waaaaay too late last night, looking up details on the Perfect Location for me.  Gorgeous hiking with breathtaking colorful sandstone, with DOGS ALLOWED and not too many people.

And then I went to work.  On the Friday before Mardi Gras.  And I stopped for boudin king cake on the way.  And y'all - there is no place like this city.  Not anywhere in the world.  It's not just Mardi Gras and not just one thing or another - it's the complex melange of all this interestingness and energy and ebullient delight.  It's impossible to characterize completely and nobody knows all of it.

And of course I don't want to live in the desert.  It hurts my skin. Badly.

So here's my plan: when I finish my PhD, take three weeks off work and roadtrip with the pup. We can stop and visit friends (so her manners need to get better), we can go hiking and camping (so she needs to get experienced), and we can spend some quality time with friends in Oregon (including camping and hiking with them, and letting Ziggy have quality time with Auntie S., her godmother, and S.'s sister-in-law, whom I know Ziggy will adore).  I can plan to spend a few days in this gorgeous place I'm aching for, to touch the sandstone and all else that I want to do. 

This is a much better solution than me continuing to try to win the lottery each month and then just fly there for a couple of days - spending money and time.  Only 4% of people or less win the lottery, so what I'll do when I decide when I will go is get 20 good friends to all put in the dates for me.  Hopefully I can make that work.  If not, we'll just go and try to get a permit by showing up (50% are that way), or enjoy the surrounding area which is AMAZING.  I have a friend in New Mexico who would probably join me for that leg of the journey.

So I can save my money and make it a fun roadtrip, not a dash-away trip.  I can not worry about falling behind in schoolwork.  I can take the pup and we can have an epic adventure.  My dog Selma was super every day but my favorite memories are the things we did together.  Like that time we drove from Fairbanks to Lexington Kentucky.  Who the hell does that?  We did.

Plus this gives me something to look forward to, to work for.  Finish the dissertation, defend, and getthefuckout.  And the timing is then perfect because I can contemplate what comes next with my life. I always do that best when behind the wheel of a truck going on a long journey.

It's only 1 pm and I'm whupped.  After a dog walk and grocery shopping I hit the front yard and double dug a big swath where I plan to put in a cover crop then turn that over and then plant bananas and maybe sweet potatoes and not sure what else.  This is an area that I had solarized and let me just tell you that solarization is the best thing ever.  The grass that is in my front yard is so tough it's impossible.  It's hard to mow because it grows so thick (even when I mow twice a week), and the roots structure is super tough.  It's a big mess.  I can't even dig a hole where I want to plant the lime or lemon trees because of it - so today I laid down some plastic to solarize another area.  Without killing the grass thoroughly like this, there's no chance for anything.  But after doing that, the weeds that fill in are opportunistic and I can handle them by double digging and raking and shaking (the soil out of the plant roots and then tossing the plant).

So this is exciting because it feels like progress, it just took fucking forever.  And solarization is  hassle and takes time and it's not the right time of year for it but oh well, I'm still going to try.  It's the only real way for me to deal with the grass without paying thousands of dollars to the landscaper.

Oh lord, my neighbors across the street are having a party.  I saw tables put out in a vacant lot on one side, a bounce house on the other side vacant lot.  And now the music is beginning to blare.  Grrr.  I need to study when I'm not doing outdoor work.  Of course the university library is closed for Mardi Gras.  There are two movies I want to see: I Am Not Your Negro and Get Out. They're both playing at my favorite theatre today ... maybe this is a sign I need to go do that.  These aren't the most considerate neighbors - on New Year's they were shooting firecrackers at my house.  I dont think deliberately, I just happen to be there, but that's still aggravating.  IT didn't get so bad that I needed to say something, and I don't live in a city where I can tell people to turn off music playing on a Saturday afternoon. 

OK, I don't want to go camping.  I have too much to do and much of it makes my body hurt - double digging a yard is damn hard work for this middle-aged office-worker body.  I need a good night's sleep in a comfortable bed.   I haven't even started all the schoolwork I need to do or lots of other things.  I want to climb up a ladder and scrub mildew off the north side of the house and then the paved area that's all dirty.  I want to cook.  I want to do my taxes.  I want to see movies.  I want to train my dog (I think I'm going to start a new program for which I need internet and focus). 

Yeah, camping is not in the cards.  I woke up stiff and sore.  I know I need to take NSAID but ... I don't want to acknowledge I'm a woman of a certain age.  I'm so fortunate because usually a night's sleep resets the pain button when it's from overwork.  I also avoid pain relievers because I'm already a beast - I keep powering through long after I should.  If I mask the pain, I really don't know when to stop. 

Ziggy is in a delightful mood this morning and she's grabbed my shoes to tell me IT'S TIME FOR A WALK ALREADY.  She's hilarious - I was sitting on the toilet and she grabbed the shoe from the backdoor to carry it to the front door (where we go out for morning walks) and she just slowly struts past me to make sure I see her.  When I yell at her to stop, she totally ignores me.  When instead I use a happy tone, she comes rushing to me.  This is why I use this sing-songy voice with her - it's what works. She has absolutely no willingness to listen to any kind of scolding. 

So this new training - and I'll update the other blog when I think of it - is probably overpriced but I think it's where I'm at right now.  On Facebook I follow a lot of positive trainers/behaviorists and one of the guest posts was by a fellow in the UK and so I clicked through and he and his business partner are a little over the top with their enthusiasm and grated my nerves, but I've been watching more and participating on their FB page, and then I did some research and he's actually a vet (he looks about 22 years old but he's quite accomplished).  Their philosophy is such that I found on my own through lots of research, but what made me sign up for their actual course is that they will be releasing daily games to do.  They keep dog training sessions to three minutes or less (which works for us!).  I'm always at sort of a loss of what to do for training.  Ziggy learns super quickly, so then what?  I'm not creative with coming up with activities (just ask all my past students - I'm boring AF) and I just need help with that, which is exactly what they'll do.

I'm a little frustrated with the behavioral vet experience, which I knew I would be since it's remote.  They don't know Ziggy to know how delightful and charming she is.  I've said a number of times that I don't want her medicated long-term, but also some of the other things need to be only short-term and I need to know the transition to the next stage to get to normal.  Like: I covered my windows with window film to block her sight triggers.  OK, that's fine, but it's not something for long-term so how do we get past that?  Or whenever I ask: how can I get Ziggy to meet new dogs and it be successful, I get told that as dogs age they are more selective about dogs and less friendly.  Sure, exactly, but Ziggy still loves dogs now so now is the window and it's closing so let's get on it - so then I get advice about parallel leash walking, but Z is leash reactive and is far better with dogs NOT on leash - I just want to know how is the best way to introduce them.  What I'd been doing is having dogs meet through the fence and then I tie Z up and let the other dog come in and when it seems ready to take Z off her rope - but by then she's completely worked up into a frenzy.  So what is a better process?  Our yard is perfect for dog friends and I want her to have a full social life.  Of course the vet thinks I'm crazy because he's focused on telling me things like muzzling her.  I don't need to muzzle her, I need her to learn to be better socialized.  (TBF: he is giving other advice that's good, I'm just frustrated on a few points.)

So the difference with these UK folks is that they are more of my mindset: yeah, shit happens, let's move forward.  I'm not consumed with fear that Ziggy may somehow attack another dog or be attacked (the US vet told me to muzzle her and carry anti-dog spray in case a dog rushes us, but none of that is necessary).  When the very experienced animal control officer met Ziggy after she was reported as potentially aggressive, he immediately assessed the situation that she is not aggressive, just obnoxious.  Were we in that same situation now, everything would be different.  I'm not in denial that my dog is a jackass - I just know her much better.  If another dog rushes us and attacks and Ziggy defends herself and me, there's no way I will allow that to be reported as a negative thing.  That last thing happened when I'd had her less than two weeks and I didn't know her - now, I know her.
And I would be her attorney, with all the skills at my disposal to defend her honor. 

No dog is completely 100% predictable.  Selma, my last dog, was the most well-behaved dog and very trustworthy but I also knew that she's a dog so I was in charge.  Ziggy's unpredictability is just writ large.  She flies off the handle.  And maybe it is anxiety, like the vet says, or maybe it's just that she's a belligerent jackass because that's who she is.  Not all bullies are motivated by feeling insecure - some bullies are just assholes.  And I know that Ziggy can be a bully so she needs to be supervised, and if this is based in insecurity - well, she masks that better than any living being I've ever met.  She seems supremely confident, narcissistic even.  That's part of what makes her so charming. 

Anyway, I labored long over whether to charge for this new training program when I'm already under a personalized program, but I think getting daily activities to do will be quite helpful. 

Ugh! Stupid fucking dog.  I was packing up to take her out for a long walk and then some recall practice, some good quality fun time.  She pried a door open and got outside (yesterday when I told her to wait, she did, so I thought she wouldn't pry it open) and shot out like a bolt.  There was no hesitation - she took OFF like a Greyhound.   She went straight for where the party was yesterday and hit their garbage.  I called her, I tried running the other way - nothing.  So I called out to the person on the porch and said: "I hope it's good trash for her!"  "It's seafood."  But by the time I got to her, she took off and tried to break into their house BECAUSE OF COURSE SHE DID (the person had gone inside - I told her to close the door because otherwise Ziggy would break in).  She then ran into their backyard and I tried to trap her but seriously she is fast and very good at dodging. 

I finally caught her at the garbage and then she attacked me - belligerent scratching and mouthing to tell me to knock the fuck off, that I don't have the right to hold her collar and drag her anywhere, etc.  She would fling her body down and refuse to let me move her along, so we were essentially fighting in the middle of the street.  I have bad scratches, though I eventually won.  So this was a good reminder of how things used to be, though she hasn't done this to me in over a year.  Basically: she loves cake more than she loves me.  She's trying to make nice but I'm not having it.  Treats put away, I'm ignoring her.  Jackass. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

bucket list

On a drive I took moving back to New Orleans, I took a different route because I was visiting a friend (whom I met in Liberia) in New Mexico.  I passed through the most spectacular scenery I've ever seen - and I had just come from a whole lot of national parks (i hit all that I could, being sans chien at the time). 

The area is called Vermilion Cliffs and there are other areas around, but it was simply amazing.

This makes me want to move back West.  Because there are so many miles of trails, and while the Wave is hard to get to because of permit requirements to keep it pristine - that place is otherworldly.  The colors and shapes are just - well, it's so amazing it's one of the pre-installed desktops on my computer. 

But there are all sorts of other areas to explore that are extraordinary too, and less traveled, AND DOGS ARE ALLOWED.  Permits cost $7 for people, $5 for dogs.  Pack all the waste out, both human dog.  Know the surroundings, there are no signs, and there's lots of venomous creatures.

And I know that I don't want to live in a desert again - I love my tropical life.

But then I get itchy.  Sure, I could keep trying for a permit and spend a weekend there someday, but wouldn't it be nicer to live within driving distance and spend weeks exploring?  It's only like 5 hours from Vegas, which was only like 5 hours from where I lived in California.  Where I'm still licensed to teach. 

I know that my life here is perfect in almost all ways, but the only thing missing is wilderness.  Raw western wilderness.  Vast expanses of land for me and my dog to explore.  Like the good ole days with Selma. 

How long can I be civilized? 
Paria Canyon

well, I didn't die today, yet

I've become convinced of my impending mortality and I often look around as I walk out the door: "How much will my friends judge me when they walk into this mess and have to sort it all out?"  Well, if I'm dead, they'll cut me some slack. 

I certainly hope I'm wrong about this certainty that I won't be living much longer, and it's probably a reaction to losing dear friends near my age.  But it's a little unsettling.

I want my work to reimburse me almost $2,000 for something and now they're trying to make me wait several months.  WHAT.  I actually have a new credit card that I put it on that charges no interest for another year, but I'm grumpy because if I die, I don't want them to get out of that reimbursement.  I want my "estate" to gain the benefit of it.

This morning I was adding up in my head how much money there would be for my survivors.  Definitely enough to allow Ziggy Stardust to continue living in the style to which she's become accustomed.

This doesn't feel morbid.  I'm not even really sad.  I was thinking: what have I wanted to do that I haven't done yet? and I can't really think of anything.  Good lord I've lived a life.  And while I hope that life goes on another three decades or so, if it ended tonight I wouldn't have a single regret.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Yesterday my fake niece texted saying she's planning on coming through town soon, doesn't know details yet.  She lives in Texas and she's a horse trainer and during the busy times her time is not her own. Last year she and her mother showed up one morning and we went to lunch and that was all before they had to hit the road.  She's trying to spend more time here this visit, and I want her to meet Ziggy.  First, because I think they'll get along well - she's a horse trainer after all, and a huge animal lover but with a no-nonsense approach to it.  Ziggy's two favorite people on the planet besides me are the two aunts - sisters to my fake niece's brother.  And, the aunt who is my best friend will take Ziggy should anything happen to me, and it would be quite helpful to have fake niece know her way around all this.  She is exceptional in any kind of crisis - she rather had to be, as her mother falls all to bits.  So both of the daughters are really excellent at handling tough spots.  Were I to die and S. have to come take care of my affairs, one or both of her nieces would most likely descend with her and within 72 hours have everything taken care of.  Truck loaded with the dog and the few items of mine she would want, will executed, houses empty and on the market, and one of them driving the truck back as S. doesn't do road trips. 

I'm kind of obsessed with the idea of my death.  Mostly the logistics of it.  Making sure that Ziggy is taken care of, that kind of thing.  I need to get a will done, executor, all of it.  The executor I know, I just need to talk to him.  He's a huge dog lover and would absolutely make sure everything's ok for the Catahooligan.  He's also the kind of guy who carries a gun everywhere and is incredibly strong and in good shape, and he just barrels through adversity with his testosterone - and then he listens to feedback.  Changes his opinions as facts come clear.  He's a drastically different person than who I met ten years ago, except that despite being a total redneck with a hunting knife always prominent on his belt, he didn't live up to ANY kind of racist stereotype. 

Of course I'm morbid, I think of HNIC all the time, wondering if all his affairs were in order.  Not only was he one of my most beloved friends, but he's one of the smartest people I've ever known - and to think that I'll never be able to discuss thoughts again with him?  This stabs my heart.  How can I know if I'm on the right track if he's not there to argue it out with?  So smart.  God I miss him.

and of course I think of these things because Ziggy is not the kind of dog who can just be abandoned.  Oh, she's charming as hell, but she's also anxiety-ridden.  If anything happens to me, the only good thing that can come from her is if she goes to live with S, with whom she will cuddle all the time.  A very quiet life with a big backyard and a person who adores her.  We raised dogs together before, we share almost all values, and there's nobody else for Ziggy. 

Anyway, I was in class last night and the professor was talking to me on the break about something and I said: so I know the syllabus can still be modified - any chance you can add [a renowned scholar I read last year]?  "Ah, A.S., I know her well.  We studied with the same person, and when Katrina devastated us she arranged for me to work at her university.  A very good person, she is."  "And a remarkable academic," I reminded him.  She really just stands head and shoulders above all the other things I read in that class.  My classmates found her too dense or something, but I thought her brilliant and clear.  He said normally she is on the syllabus, he's not sure how she got removed. 

Will I ever meet her?  Probably not.  But now I could.  I'd be a tongue-tied fangirl. 

to do list: resist the patriarchy

Apparently something I ate yesterday isn't agreeing with me, so i'm home sick.  Oh well, worse things.

I'm checking through a long list of things to do.  Now it's to get rid of things I don't want for various reasons.  I hate being burdened with stuff.  Clean up the house including the guest room as I'm likely to have guests again soon. 

Thinking a lot about treaty rights and how I wish I could do something.

Thinking about commodity fetishization as a framework for understanding our current political plight.

Monitoring work.  A very big change is happening and I have some panic.  It doesn't have to directly affect me, but it kind of does.  I've known it could happen for awhile but been in some denial about the impact.  Others would say it doesn't really impact me, but it really really does.  From what I'm supposed to be doing today to what I'm supposed to be doing in December ... and so on.

 Right now there is resistance at Standing Rock, and there is also resistance at a townhall for our U.S. Senator.  A friend is in a headscarf in solidarity; she recently taught me: "Don't hold back from doing something good because you're waiting to do something great."

We are resisting this regime and I am delighted.

I've added a bunch of conservative sites to my FB feed and it is sometimes making my head explode but also interesting information.  In particular, the vitriol against Black Lives Matter makes absolutely no sense to me at all.  How on earth is this controversial?  So I show up to challenge and fact check and get informed for resistance.  Doing our bits, rising up together.  I am inspired.

The Senator isn't showing up.  Probably too afraid of the riotous mass mostly of middle-aged women who are chanting and cheering each other on.  Oh, there he is - 30 minutes late to a 60 minute town hall.

What a messy process this democracy is.  We're making it work. 


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

if you can't be loyal, be discreet

BBC has great books like The Underground Railroad as audiobooks: https://www.colorlines.com/articles/listen-bbc-streams-audio-colson-whiteheads-underground-railroad.  Once again I'm reminded that I am not good with audiobooks, but the book is really good and Clarke Peters is outstanding as always.

So the first I heard of the new #45 national security advisor was from Russell Honore, the military man who emerged as a hero from the Katrina debacle.  He thinks highly of the fellow and I read a bit and anyone who wrote about the duty to speak up against a president - well, there seems to be some promise.  One article was talking about him and also the NSC aide who was fired to trashing #45 and the author didn't have a problem with that, saying "If you can't be loyal, be discreet."

Boy did that resonate with me because just this morning I was thinking: I should be writing and publishing articles and I should use a pseudonym.

What fake name?  Lord, it took me 20 years to pick my actual name, so I don't know.  But I think definitely as a man.  I'll write in drag.

I don't know if I really have the energy for this secret life, but it's the only way it can work.  My job wants total loyalty.  Obviously I don't give that, but I can be discreet and get away with some things for awhile.

Thoughts on my own Mark Twain?  Hmmm ... Perhaps David ... as in DAvid Bowie, whom my dog is named after.  David ... Marshall?  I've always really admired Thurgood Marshall.

David Marshall.  I might actually try to pull some shit.  Starting with a FB account?   

Related to the writing - I was at a social/political gathering and became FB friends with some of the people I interacted with the most.  Two of the people, a couple who were very sweet and loving, are famous writers and I didn't even know until I heard the interview announced on the radio.  She just commented on a FB post of mine and it just somehow reinforces: writing is important and people do it.  I think I'm an ok writer - it gets better after revision, which I never do on the blog.  But I know things that I should share more.  

Monday, February 20, 2017

short sneaker life

Because I haven't yet invested the max possible to my Roth for 2016, I haven't yet paid off last week's trip to the Everglades ... but screw it, I'm still buying more gear.

Do they not make sneakers as well as they used to?  I wear through sneakers so damn fast.  Sometimes the sole ("why is my foot wet?  Oh, because my sock is on the street and puddles") and sometimes the toe area (which might be sometimes from weedwhacking, though not exclusively that).  It just seems like I should be able to make a lot more steps with a pair of shoes than I'm currently getting.  I bought these shoes in Oregon in August ... is two pair per year the norm for somebody who only casually strolls avec chien?  That just seems too often. 

I bought a big water container which of course I need to have on hand for hurricanes.  I should get a couple more for that purpose but we'll see how I like this one.  I bought a camping pillow (the one I used in Florida was excellent so one of those - I usually take a real pillow when car camping but this is better).  I bought AAA batteries because I used up the batteries in my headlamp. 

This dog will go camping with me next weekend, whether she likes it or not.  She won't care for it because there's no couch, but she'll deal with it.  I'm only concerned that it's still opossum and rabbit hunting season then and about where exactly we'll camp - the place I found that I quite like is a bit close to a club shooting land area, so if she were to explore, she could get shot.  I do not want that.  I could keep her tied up and probably am supposed to, but I would like to let her explore in a safe place to learn good skills. 

She's been super lethargic and I'm a bit worried.  Is she sick?  Is it the Prozac?  I don't know, but she just wants to sleep all the time.  That's not normal.  Not sure what to do.  Usually when she gets like this is passes after a day, but this has been since I got back on Tuesday, and all weekend. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

this pup has made progress

So I joined this Facebook group for owners of dogs who are reactive and other problems. Boy have I learned a lot.

1. Ziggy Stardust and I have come miles.  All my persistence pays off in many ways that I forget because they become non-issues.  Really all we've got now to deal with are how she jumps on visitors (and we're on track with that) and reacts when out on walks to strange dogs (and that is hugely better).  Both of these are based in anxiety, most likely, which is not a training matter but a psychological one.  My firm resolve to only use positive training methods has paid out in spades - had I tried control or that faux science pack leader bullshit, she would have turned aggressive and may have had to be put down (that's where things were for us there in the beginnning; I am still aggravated by the trainer's comment that I'm so nice for putting up with her and without me she'd be dead).  Now I have a truly delightful dog who is so very sweet and such a good companion.  Some of her rough edges are wearing down as she's growing up, but most of it is training and behavioral modification.  All those books I've read, all the hours on websites - thank goodness for all these advances recently. 

2.  Things are waaaay different in the UK.  Lots of dogs loose a lot and lots of attacks that caue behavioral problems as a result.  So many of the posts include: "since my dog was attacked last October, she has been afraid of other dogs and freaks out when they come near."  I thought maybe by "attack" they just meant a dog rushed towards them, but another said: there was a fight, not too bad, only two deep puncture marks on each dog.  Whoa, that's serious in my mind.

3.  Some people are real pushovers and their dogs are awful as a result; positive training doesn't mean never saying no to your dog - it means being in control of the situation and not losing control with anger or brutality.  "If my dog doesn't get my attention immediately, she chews the table leg" and "when I leave my dog home, she destroys everything."  Y'all, your dog does not have the right to destroy your stuff and something isn't working right if this is happening.  Crate training, confinement, ignoring, appropriate toys - there are ways to fix these things that are not cruel.  (I responded about leaving dog in crate and got: "That seems mean."  Oh good god.  Yes, it does, for those of us who have romantic notions of dogs.  I struggled to crate Ziggy when I got her but I did it for a year because that was best for everyone.  She never had an opportunity to destroy things, it helped her with boundaries. 

4.  I'm really lucky to have a great yard as I never *have* to take Ziggy out in the big world.  She loves her yard and is very Zen there usually (unless somebody is constructing right next to our fence, and then she needs to let them know who's boss - and unfortunately it looks like both our adjacent empty lots will soon have houses and I will miss our wide open space).  While we both like to take walks very much, we also have spent months without her leaving the premises - there was rabies quarantine, and cortisol vacations (especially that time with the dog sitter who didn't listen to my instructions and I got back a dog who was completely out of control), and heartworm treatment.  I even have a dog door because I'm apparently lazy AF and like Ziggy to have all the freedom possible (she uses it most often to visit my tenant; they have a secret language of tenant opening the door to invite the dog to visit). 

5.  I'm just going to emphasize again here how important toys can be.  Ziggy LOVES her toys in large part because I diverted her negative behaviors to positive ones with toys.  Nipping on me?  Give her a toy to chew on.  Jumping on me?  Here, go chase a toy.  She is right now sitting on my feet with each paw on a different toy, and she goes back and forth between them.  She tries to get my attention by bringing me toys but is fine if I'm not in a play mood and entertains herself.

6.  I think I"ve made the right decision to not get another dog.  Too many dogs in too many fights - like my friends who have a front of the house dog and a back of the house dog and the dogs don't get to be together anymore after four serious ER visits - that's not a life for me and I don't want to risk it.  Ziggy loves her friends but she also loves her alone time and I don't think she would properly handle the stress of another dog around all the time.  Another pet, maybe.  I think she would really like a cat but it would have to be the right cat.  I thinks she's become fine with our quiet life and it's very good for her reactivity.

7.  Mental exercise is the most important.  I got such bad advice when I got her about exercising her so much physically, but that often just triggered her.  Training and making her think are what wear her out and keep her calmer.  As the behavioral vet says: running a dog four hours a day [the advice some give] just trains a reactive dog to run marathons. 

8.  Huge thanks to friends here in blog world who helped me keep the faith that things would get better.  They really have, more than I ever imagined. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Saturday, sun shining

Laundry on the line.  Ground still heavy wet with recent rains - if it dries up a bit I'll do the yardwork I've needed to do for weeks.

I went grocery shopping and it was slightly traumatic.  Carnival season is in full swing and there is just SO MUCH.  Noise, people, activity, color - just so much everythign.  Too much for this simple girl.  This weekend I'll be making a white bean kale soup and roasting a chicken to eat with a Russian beet salad (with potatoes and dill and yogurt). 

The dog is on edge.  Just a generalized anxiety.  She's trying to be a good pup, she really is.  She has learned to ignore the very barky Yorkie next door, and he'll just keep yipping incessantly and she acts as though she just cannot be bothered with that nonsense.  I think she might still be bothered by my having traveled; she just likes routines and isn't so great with big changes.  She tries to adapt but it pushes her and stresses her out.  I may put window film on the windows today, to block her view.  Let her destress.  But I have to put it up quite high because she has become very good at balancing on her back legs to get a better view of a trigger. 

Lots of reading to do of course.  Cleaning.  The usual. 

My loud pipe banging has abated so I'm going to pretend it never happened.  I still have to decide what to do about my collapsing carport.  

Oh good lord, yardwork completely wiped me out.  Two hours of digging up dandelions and weedwhacking and weed pulling, topped off with lifting a 70# bag of cement into the trashcan in hopes they'll take it away (the trash can was nearly full of weed so I thought I'd give it a go), and I am utterly spent. Ziggy was quite good in the front yard; barking at anyone approaching but I could distract her. 

The chances of me ever training her to not bark at possible dangers are non-existent.  and why would I want to?  I just don't want her losing her cool.  Bark to tell me that the mailman is here but then let it go.  Holler when a pack of teenagers are approaching but then when I tell you it's all good, trust me.  This one woman walked past us at least six different times and Ziggy found that highly suspicious.  The thing is - I can feel totally safe out there because she so completely has my back.  She will warn me for anything and then all I need is to get to within her range a few feet away (she's tethered) and nobody will fuck with me.  In a city with so much violence, this is helpful for my safety. 

NOw the both of us are completely spent. One big exhaustion puddle on the couch.  And me with so many more things to do.  Oh well. 

the changing world

Article I read yesterday said 76% adjuncts and am I really remembering correctly that 76% of college/university courses are taught by adjuncts?  This article was about the guy unable to make ends meet despite working a ton as an adjunct, so needing to work in a coffee shop or elsewhere for health insurance and enough money to live.

Y'all, I have no desire to suffer for my academic career.  I'm way too old for this shit.

I'll still finish my PhD most likely, but I have no illusions that it will lead to the kind of life I was hoping.

But here's what this is really about: I am direly concerned about the lack of research being done if this is the case.  The research done at the university level by tenured faculty has long been critical in moving our country forward.  It's one of our greatest strengths.  By cutting out the time to think and create, our decision-makers are being incredibly short-sighted.  This is disastrous.

OK, back to me.  This makes me want to consider staying at my job even more - for the pay and benefits.  But I'm right now really having to deal with my ego because the person they're strongly considering hiring to be my boss has ABSOLUTELY NO KNOWLEDGE of anything that we do.  He's a super nice guy - I like him, may have even had a crush on him as one point - but absolutely completely ignorant.  Hiring somebody who is completely unqualified to be my boss is really an insult.  But do I care?  I've told everyone that I don't want that job, mostly for political reasons, that I just want to be a worker bee behind the scenes and out of range of political dust-ups.

But at the same time, I've moved our section forward so drastically.  I have fixed so much shit, and the shit I haven't fixed it's because of political nonsense in the way.  If they hire Nice Guy, he will be able to cut through some of it because he'll be given total free rein ... until he's not.  Because he isn't seen as their equal.  And I'll in theory need to be doing twice the work because I'll have to teach him and still get things done.  I think it's a really bad fit not just because he's utterly unqualified but because he would be so bored.

So can I swallow this insult (which nobody is really framing as an insult, that's just my pride speaking) and keep on keeping on?  What would be a final straw for me?  On the one hand it's horrifying that I would be a woman who is so vastly qualified being supervised by a man who is paid more and has absolutely no skills or knowledge in the area.  That makes me rise up in feminist rage.  (Though then I strategize - he'd be bored and woudln't last long, so let him muddle through the political shit and fix that and then I could take that job once it has the clout it needs.)  But the other part of me says: hey, fine.  I'll work my 40 hours and take full advantage of whatever I can.  Sick time, leave time, work from home?  It goes utterly against my nature, but I can stop overperforming and start slacking.  Put my energies into life outside of work.  Finish the goddamn PhD and then do other things.

There are oodles of old-timey academics who actually worked jobs like insurance adjuster and surveyor, not at the university, and it provided them with the time and money needed to do their own research without the university politics.  Maybe it's time to renew that idea.  Depending on who is hired and how closely they supervise me, I am wildly overproductive and I can do a work slowdown without becoming an underperformer.

And outside of work hours I could do sneaky politics - the kind that my conservative bosses don't find out about.

And I can take time to adventure with my delightful dog.  Explore this really interesting region.

And other things.  Like better manage my rental properties, and landscape.  Maybe foster children.  And then in 11.5 years, retire. 

Many men have always known that a job is what you do to support your life, its purpose it not to provide life meaning.  I grew up thinking that a career would give me what I need to lead a purposeful life, but maybe it just provides me with the resources to lead a good life outside the workday.

When I look at how things were two years ago compared to now, I really need to pat myself on the back.  I am winning.  And things can turn to shit again without warning, of course - but right now, it's good.  Even when it's stressful, it's not anywhere near as stressful as before.  Assholes are off my back, and when they come at me I work to irritate them just enough to be unpleasant without insubordinate.  My worklife is a whole lot of figuring out how much shade I can get away with throwing.

So this unqualified guy would be good in some ways because once he stops having high hopes, he'd settle into a calm rhythm and leave me alone - and there's be job security because I'd be the only person who knows anything about anything.  He'd be my figurehead, a pretty smile.  And it irks that he would earn more money and a better title, but that's not ball to keep my eye on.

There is no guaratntee that he'll be hired. I said to the head of HR: but he has no knowledge or experience in this field, at all.  She said, exasperated with this: I know!  She may whisper in ears that he is not qualified.  She may not.  They may hire somebody who may be awful.  Who knows.  I have no idea what my future holds.  Our organization is entirely personality-driven, so my end could be near with the wrong person as my supervisor.

Who knows.  Head down, just keep moving the ball forward, and stop working so hard.  Enjoy all that this job provides to me, be grateful that I'm not one of the 4 in 10 Louisianans who lacks income for even basic subsistence - which would include most adjunct professors. 

Or I do something entirely different.  I could go back to teaching and become a school administrator.  I could go back to lawyering in the public interest.  Or I become a barista and plan on a less-stress life that doesn't much let me retire.   Or I become like the majority of New Orleanians and learn the art of the hustle. 

The world is full of possibilities.  Nothing is drastic or dire for me right now.  #privilege #luckystars

Friday, February 17, 2017

my furry person

It's Friday night of the start of the intense Carnival season, and there's nobody I'd rather see than my dog.  She's just such good company.

In June I need to take a trip for work and I'm very seriously considering finding accommodations where I can take her. This would be great practice for other future road trips, so I can see that she can handle it and it doesn't stress her out. 

But also, because I fucking hate making that trip and Ziggy is such a delight.  She would make me leave the hotel hovel and be out walking.  I can't take her to the beach but she doesn't care.  There are lots of places to walk and I'd take old sheets so she can sit on the furniture. 

Life is better with my dog than without her, but I am not like the crazy woman on the plane when I flew to Florida last week.  She had a Pomeranian or something on her lap with a vest "Service Dog" and I sat on the same aisle.  THAT WAS NO SERVICE DOG.  I had no idea this is a thing, to have "emotional comfort dogs" everywhere.  My tenant says it's all the rage at the university where I attended undergrad.  When I went there, I was the only person bringing my dog to class, and that was because I used her as a teaching tool.  And she was super cute.  My students loved when I brought her to my office when they had to take the oral part of their exams - she was very comforting.

Before Selma, I used to take S's grumpy Airedale Bert to school when I had to check in the lab for science class on weekends.  We'd walk there together and I'd let him run the science building hallways, but honestly he wasn't into running - he was more into guarding.  I almost never saw Bert cut loose and I lived with him for years - he was always serious and usually grumpy.  He had no sense of humor at all.  He is pretty much the anti-Ziggy.  

Anyway, my tenant says that lots of students bring dogs as "emotional comfort" animals to class and they're often untrained puppies and it's chaos, and that flight with that dog was HELL.  It was completely untrained and spent 2.5 hours barking, growling, snarling, fighting its person, crying.  It was awful.  The only good side was that it made me feel much better about Ziggy's behavior - she would have gotten loose and run the aisles and given kisses, but not been an asshole like that dog.  Ziggy is belligerent but it's with enthusiasm and delight; I've never heard her snarl except in overexaggerated play mode with me. 

So am I really that person who takes her dog on a work trip?  People already mock me for my devotion to this mongrel.  But the way she can make a stressful day turn silly - she's a genius.  One day I would need to work about eight hours but the others usually only six.  I usually collapse in my hotel room from the stress of it, but Ziggy would keep me balanced. 

I found a place to stay which isn't too far from where I need to work.  It has a small fenced-in yard and lots of walking paths nearby. 

She is right now trying to bring me just about every toy she owns, trying to spark my interest in something.  Silly girl.  She doesn't much like the rains right now. 

But I'm a dog crazy person and my

Thursday, February 16, 2017


I'm pretty outdoorsy.  I like hiking and camping and kayaking and canoeing and skiing and all that.

But when it comes time to not be in motion, I want a comfortable place to sit my bum. 

I love furniture.  Couches especially.  The difference between sitting on the ground and sitting on a soft cushioned couch is the difference between grumpy and happy. 

It's good to remember how good I have things.  I can do without a lot of modern conveniences, but comfortable furniture is the line I draw.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ziggy's secret life

I walked in the door after a long day at work, and my dog was nowhere to be found.  Usually she is right there at the door to say hello, but I couldn't find her and she didn't come when I called. 

I walked straight outside and saw my tenant's door open and Ziggy was snuggled in with her.  Literally - Ziggy had gone to visit and they laid down to take a nap together.  We had a nice chat as we played in the yard with the beast, and apparently this is quite a thing and they spend a good deal of time together.  I have no idea when this happens because it seems like Ziggy is nearly always with me when I'm home.  Maybe what I thought were breaks to go outside to bathroom were actually to visit?

"I was so looking forward to seeing her yesterday but she didn't come to visit.  I really missed her.  I kept opening my door, which usually gets her to come visit me." 

My dog - too passed out from exhaustion from visiting with friends - didn't do her duty taking care of another friend. 

This dog is such an outgoing extrovert, such the opposite of me, but even she can reach her max.  

So this is good news because she said she'll watch her if I go to that activist thing I want to.  And maybe if that works out, she'll watch her when I have to take other trips.  I like her spending time with our friends but she can be a bit much, this pup who alternates between charming and annoying. 

"I was telling my coworkers how I have the perfect living situation.  I get the benefits of a dog but without the work!" 

So, this is awesome.  We all win. 

our future looks sleepy

Ziggy Stardust is just about as worn out from a few days staying with friends as I am from a few days kayaking and camping.  Neither of us seem to have slept well, and since we've been home we are mostly sprawled out exhausted.  She tries to rally to "help" me unpack, but she's not even curious about the smell of Everglades all over everything. 

If this is me in my 40s and her at 2, what are we going to look like in a decade? 

More naps, please.

Luggage was lost, flight delayed - but honestly, no harm done.  They delivered the bag late last night and I was able to pull the tent out and hang it up so hopefully no mildew happening.  Laundry and a thorough cleaning to happen after work today. 

I'm hoping to go out camping with Ziggy over Mardi Gras weekend (Mardi Gras is Feb. 28 this year).  I need to check the hunting schedule to see if that will be safe, but the weather looks good and I have two possible spots in mind and it's a good time to leave town.  I haven't yet offered but may have friend(s) staying here, but that's fine and I can still take off.  This is a "walk on in" kind of house.  I also want to get plants in the ground that weekend and do some other gardening, plus a lot of schoolwork.  No parades for me - they creep me out.  Men in white hoods on horseback, men with torches demanding money from the crowds, drunken people throwing and catching things - not my scene.  It's usually a project weekend for me, though I do tend to get lured to a party or two. 

The behavior report on Ziggy was: "Well, you know. Alternating between charming and annoying."  Yep, that's my girl.  She got so over threshold when I showed up that she couldn't stop barking, and as usual anytime the other dog jumps on me she feels compelled to beat the crap out of him.  This is a little aggravating because SHE KNOWS that jumping on people is not the right thing to do yet SHE does it all the time but bitches out other dogs that do it.  That would be the annoying part.  The charming part would be how she's snuggled up next to me on the couch right now, trying to rally but groaning at having to stay awake.  It is before dawn - I woke up at 4:30 (thanks wind) and finally got up a bit after 5.  I have a stressful day at work (a project to do with someone who is all over the place and difficult to work with) and I want to come home early to tend to camping gear and such. 

Three more months of school then summer off, but I really need to do a bunch of research for my dissertation proposal and also read for my qualifying exams. So, no time off really.  Just keeping balance is challenging. 

There are two movies I want to see at the theatre this weekend - I Am Not Your Negro and Neruda. But I have so much other stuff to do.  Sigh. 

The weekend after Mardi Gras is our next postcard party so I'll need to work on preparing for that (I print all the postcards and prepare the issues and addresses of key people for us to bombard with mail).  Then two weekends after that I might go out of town for a political activism weekend - can't decide.  It's a two-hour drive away and I could just be gone one night so maybe Tenant could watch Ziggy and it not be a big deal, but missing a whole weekend away from schoolwork and chores is always stressful.  BUt I also need more allies and want to do my part for the resistance.  Maybe I dn't go for the whole time.  We'll see. 

OK, time to move these lazy six legs out on a walk. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Almost home but weather in Houston is noncompliant. Wish I had computer to do work but oh well. I think the worst is passing so hopefully only a couple of hours late. I am well caffeinated. I finished reading one book and have another to move to. So far nothing is canceled and so all could still work out except stopping at professor's office to discuss research. Oh well. Another day.

Looking forward to unpacking and doing laundry and getting organized. Thank goodness that Carnival is in full swing and will have Mardi Gras off in two weeks. That weekend is now packed with plans of studying and gardening and maybe camping.

The United Airlines magazine was cracking me up with its veiled disses at Trump. This is our new era and the resistance is delicious.

The kayaking trip was me and my friend, two German women who may be married but not sure, a couple from Chicago who showed what a good marriage looks like (very considerate), two friends one Lebanese and one Belorussian (both moved here as teenagers and are also citizens), and a man and woman from England who were a lot of fun. A very diverse group and we all got along great. The first day we had a tag along who is absolutely my type except he doesn't seem to have much of a sense of humor.

The trip was kind of a let down. I have been so many interesting places that the Everglades, at least where I went, were not awe-inspiring. This was a trip with a guide who didn't point things out so maybe I missed things. Lots of birds but not binoculars or ID. Lots of other people around, including one 5am wake-up call with drunk guys in a motorboat blaring Tupac and DMX. Other than them everyone else was nice but good god so many people around, so many boats.

Part of that was because the weather was simply amazing. Perfect mostly, great temps and low humidity.

I go kayaking and camping to get away from people, but apparently the Everglades are not that kind of place. Which is OK, live and learn. Glad I didn't sign up for eight days of that. It made me interested even more to explore Louisiana bayous. The tagalong and I spent hours talking about boat options and he got excited about me getting a drift boat and I got excited too until he left and I thought it through more. I should look at possibilities like slow flowing bayous I can kayak both directions, maybe some canoe rentals that will drop off and pick up. I want Ziggy to learn this life.

The English woman has a reactive border collie who is 5 and overcome many of her issues and she was really helpful. I have renewed faith that we will figure this all out and Ziggy will live a full life, not so isolated and controlled.

Boarding shortly, yay.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Back on dry land

I am sore all over and just scrubbed off three days of salt and sand and sweat and stink. Drinking wine and ordering pizza.

Life is goddamn good.

Trip was fine but the Everglades aren't the most exciting place I've ever seen. The group was super nice. Everything was fine and I've got a tan and feel like a badass and tomorrow I get to see my favorite furry face.

Friday, February 10, 2017

one day at a time

First off, that's a new show on Netflix, and I *highly* recommend it.  I was not a fan of the original but this Cuban-American reboot is really good.

Life really is just a long string of days, and putting most of them to good use is the secret for me of no regrets.  Lots of things have me thinking of this now:
  • through my work I will have a pension if I stay long enough, and they just put information on-line to run those sorts of analyses.  I would have 11.5 years for that, and I'm fussing about how my birthday is on a Sunday so I'd have to make my official last day the day AFTER my birthday on a Monday.  These things are what bother me?  I think I'll be ok.
  • I could be eligible in just over five years - barring a change in the law or other drama - for the balance of my student loans to disappear.  I'm almost halfway there.  
  • My brain feels sharp. I've gone through phases of illness or hospitalization recovery where my brain really hasn't worked right, but I feel on my game.  How long will this last?  Another ten or 15 years?  My friend I'm going kayaking with is showing initial signs of cognitive decline and she's 62; same with my tenant.  This could also be response to stress, not necessarily age.  
  • My body is ok right now.   When I last saw HNIC, he was feeling really old, so very past his prime.  He was only in his early 50s, but he - like me - lived life to the fullest.  He had multiple jobs, raised many children starting as a teenager, etc.  He was feeling like all his best years were behind him, probably because of all he went through with the destructive medical care he received.  Even though he was only a couple years older than me, I don't feel that way at all.  
I feel powerful and strong and smart - like I can tackle problems and make the world a better place.  I'm in an ok place with work right this minute (because I leave on vacation in a few hours?) - that may of course change but I've become quite accepting of mediocrity.  My job is not my passion, my avocation - it is what pays my bills.  In some ways that is really depressing but in other ways - this frees me up to do other things in my time off.  Like my PhD.  Like some organizing politically (I just have to stay under the radar).  Like raising a challenging pup.

By all measures that matter to me, I have a really good life and the world is my oyster.  Life has so much potential ahead - I may stay here if I want to or I may go elsewhere.  Who knows?  As has been my luck in life, I have so many really good options.

Time to ease up on the future tripping and enjoy what the days have to offer.  Sometimes it all sucks but that passes. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017


I'm pretty good at resolutions, if by that I mean: doing the opposite.  Resolve to diet?  Cookies for dinner.  Resolve to do homework?  Start a new Netflix show.

I should know this about myself but I always forget.

Today I resolved to move past actively grieving HNIC.  Let my brain lead - I was fortunate to know him and love him and be loved by him for ten years, and we got a good goodbye, and he's not suffering now - and stop wallowing in such a pool of self-pity. 

So I of course discussed him with another co-worker who knew him (a casual thing repeated to me made me know of their acquaintance) and then I Facebook friended his son (he immediately accepted my request).  Which is not as stalkerish as it sounds - I've thought of doing it for a year, since his stuff on FB was being liked and reposted by mutual friends of ours (we have several).  He's exactly the kind of person I'd be friends with on FB, being formerly lovers with his father being irrelevant.   Maybe someday I'll see if he's inherited his father's storytelling skills.  Maybe not.  Sometimes I'll see gut-punch pics of him and his dad.  So it goes. 

Anyway.  My dog must have resolved to take a chill pill because she's leaping all around like a baby goat on meth. 

My house has issues.  I think there are wiring issues, based upon how quickly light bulbs blow out.  And my cold water in my bathroom suddenly makes horrible banging noises when I turn it on. 


I'll deal with it all when I come back.  Like the homework I didn't do, the diet I didn't start. 

where the fuck

Is my sunscreen (now probably long expired)?  My prescription sunglasses?  Empty small bottles to put things into?

And so on.


And my dog wants to know where the fuck I think I'm going and why the fuck I ain't packing up her stuff, too. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

small pond

Sometimes it bothers me, the low quality of my graduate studies. 

There are advantages to this school - it's not terribly expensive and it in theory represents a good cross-section of real people in the city. 


There are very few Black people in any of my classes.  Definitely not at the percentage reflecting this region's reality. 

And the quality professors are fleeing or being pushed out.

And, the people we do have aren't the best and brightest because I think the admissions standards are: can you pay money to attend? Welcome.

So yesterday, after a very long and tiring day, the professor assigned that we have to work with somebody on an assignment.  Fine.  I pay attention, and right after class I speak with the woman.  She has no fucking clue what I'm talking about.  She doesn't understand anything.  I don't think she knows the difference between primary and secondary sources, but she also didn't understand the different books or the assignment or anything. 

"Sorry, I'm nervous," she said.  Which was apparent.  And I understand that I can be intimidating but I wasn't demanding anything of her except a plan to meet an assignment that I thought had been laid out. 

"And I am exhausted and don't feel well," I said.  I WANTED TO GO HOME.  And instead I had to explain myself 37,000 times.  "Do you want my phone number?" she asked.  No, of course I don't want your phone number.  More of this?

"I"ll email you through the class site," I said, "Do you check that email?"

"Yes, definitely."

Except it's been 12 hours and she hasn't responded to the email - which is only urgent because she and I are trying to work around travel schedules for us both. 

Sometimes I just get really aggravated when people expect me to take on the burden of comprehension and oversight.  Just step up and do your damn part already.  Kerist.

And obviously I'm still grumpy and not feeling well.  Sigh.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

things that make no sense to me

I am still just damn perplexed why HNIC's obit included his survivor being his wife.

She walked out when their kids were little and he was a single father.  She moved to another state.  She wasn't active in any of their lives. 

How do I know this?

Well, I know for damn sure that they weren't living together in the years that I knew him because I've been to his house many times.  And there's the internet and me quickly seeing that she was living exactly how he'd told me.  (I never believe he lied to me ... but I often verified.  Just to be sure.)

He has kids with other women.  And he had a long-term serious relationship with a woman who's all over Facebook showing tattoos of him on her body.  At least three.  (Looks like their relationship ended long before I met him, but they all remained close.)

Lord, y'all - I loved him, but I'm getting no ink over him. 

And that time he was engaged to be married to somebody else a few years ago; obviously they were divorced?  I mean, I would believe he just hadn't bothered to get divorced, but that means he was.

Also, I see on her FB page - no pics of him at all.  Also, on her friends' list - not one of the kids and NONE of his family or close friends. 

It's all exactly as he told me.  He was trying to pressure his kids to have a relationship with her, but they were totally over her - she abandoned them and only ever wanted to see them to take advantage of them somehow. 

So why the fuck was she listed as a survivor?  And the part that pisses me off is that because of that, she only listed her sons as his real kids, not the other kids he was father to.  That's fucked up.

None of this is my business, and honestly I don't really care.  Except that I know I wasn't involved off and on for years with a man who was actually married. 

And god I miss him.

This is exactly the kind of nonsense that would cause us to melt down - when he told me of a surprise daughter and then told me the whole story and the context, the thought of HOW MANY WOMEN he'd been with grossed me out.  My reaction bothered him.  That was a bad break.  There was no way we were compatible to be in a relationship. 

But god how I miss him. The thought that I'll never see him, never talk to him again?  It's too heavy to carry right now. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Oh i love this dog

Today Ziggy got a good meaty bone. After a couple hours chewing on it outside, I heard her come into the house while I was in the kitchen. She didn't come to me which is unusual so I peeked out and she was in the doorway holding the bone, waiting for me to agree she could come inside now. So I grabbed a towel and she very carefully keeps the bone on it as she chews.

She is so my dog. She refuses to eat anything with crumbs in any bed.

Oh good god it was starting to get close to the edge of the towel and I just saw her pick it up to move to the center. She is completely my dog.

a few of my favorite things

Blue skies, laundry on the line, early February, hammock, critical theory, my backyard of soft weeds to walk on, and of course my very favorite catahooligan.

Happy Sunday, y'all.
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I'm often amused by Ziggy's mimicry. 

For example:  I just ate a late lunch, and as soon as it came out of the microwave she went to her food bowl and chowed down.  When I dig a hole, she has to jump in, too.  When I dug up dandelions, she was my champ dande-destroyer.  When I paint, she licks the walls. 

And so on.

Sometimes this is helpful, sometimes cute, sometimes aggravating.

This morning I realized that she considers the end table that I don't use often to be hers.  To be fair, I often put her treats there and other things that are hers, but a few weeks ago she decided that was within her realm.  She never takes things that are elevated because the ground is her realm, but also now the end table is.  She often jumps up on the couch, sniffs everything there, then settles in.  She tried to take a tenant's rent check that was sitting there.  She now will steal treats if they're left open (something she never did before). 

She doesn't get upset with me for putting things on her table, but she makes sure that I know that it's her space. 

Such an entertaining dog. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

what to say to bereaved family members

When HNIC died, everyone said it was unexpected.  But I don't know his family members so I don't know if that was just what they said out loud and they know, or if they really don't know what I know about the medical malpractice that led to his death.

When I last saw him, he told me that he was trying to not worry his family and so was getting himself to and from ER, etc.  That made me livid and I pushed to help him, but he wouldn't take help.  (Just reread our emails where he tells me he's scared and I tell him repeatedly that I want to help.  I did try.  I just wasn't effective.)

But should I email his son to tell him what I know?  Even just generally and give him the opportunity to respond for more information if he likes? 

I don't know his kids personally, though of course I feel like I do after a decade of hearing all about them.  And earlier I was pretty adamant about not saying anything because it won't help and could actually cause pain, but I read something in the news today that kind of made me question my stance.

What would be the purpose?  Well, if they want to pursue a legal claim, but mostly: for them to know, if they don't already.  When grieving there's so much questioning - will the sons worry about their own hearts?  His death was totally not due to his health or him at all - it was purely medical malpractice.  Even if they don't pursue the doctor, just knowing the reasons can bring comfort.  Or it does to me, I guess.  It doesn't change that he's dead, of course. 

So ... should I email the son or not?  I can't even sleep, trying to puzzle it out. 


Today I co-hosted a "Postcard Party" for people to come together and write to their elected officials.

Dozens of people came, probably nearly 200 postcards written.

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IT was touching to see so many people so inspired, all these cards with their small print as they poured their hearts out to our leaders.

I had done research and made a page-long sheet of top timely issues along with addresses of key people, and encouraged people to come up with more.  And they did.  I'm glad for my teacher skills of pulling this all together because it really paid off.

People left feeling much lighter, freer, heard, joined with like-minded people.  And I feel so much more knowledgeable than I did two weeks ago, before we decided to do this.  I feel like I have footholds now and see where to grasp.  The wall is still icy and steep but I've got a team and I'm getting some skills. 

We found order in chaos and felt empowered.

I'm so honored to have been a small part of this demonstration of democracy.

I hope our senators appreciate the efforts.  Or listen.

Now, for the next steps.

We're not giving up or giving in. 

politics math

We have two very white, very conservative senators here in Louisiana.  We have one representative - from New ORleans - who is chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, but the other four are very conservative white guys. 

We used to have Mary Landrieu as a senator but that ended a couple years ago in a tight election.

Trump won 2/3 of the vote here.

But I am doing some math and this isn't adding up.

Louisiana is only about 62% white.  Second highest African-American population in the country.

So even if every single white person in the state voted for Trump (which definitely is not the case because hello: New Orleans), people of color still would have gone Trump - which doesn't fit any national demographics.

Are liberals and people of color not voting in this state?

Because if we start better representing, we could turn it purple. 

i need to look into voter registration in remote parts of the state and see if some shenanigans are going on because this seems peculiar. 

Of course having the highest incarceration rate in the history of the world doesn't help, but people don't lose the right to vote here once freed.  Do they know that?

I'm wondering if education and outreach could positively affect our next elections ...

no regrets

This morning, I felt HNIC's presence very strongly.  As though his spirit is stopping by for closure (and of course I was resisting: no!  I want no closure!), having final conversations where he reminds me how much he has loved me and doesn't understand me and how I need to keep myself financially sound (this was a frequent exhortation of his), and I could feel him wrapping me in an embrace. 

Of course I'm incredibly lucky because we got to have a final conversation a few weeks before he died, where we were reminded of our deep love for each other as well as our differences and how we have pushed each other to grow and be better people.  He didn't know he would die so soon but he also put it out there as a very real possibility.  I denied the possibility because there's nobody stronger or more virile or alive than him, but ... he was right.  This time.

When I pulled out of a shopping parking lot this morning, this song came on:

And again I am reminded how I have no regrets with HNIC.  His death is a tragic loss for many, many people - including me.  Because he was so dear to me and while we let go of our physical connection a year or more ago (because it always messed us up), we were so bonded emotionally and mentally.  Our intellectual connection drastically changed me.  He more than anyone else is responsible for any consciousness I have about race.  Our last meeting was at a hipster new bakery near his workplace where he had never been and he said: when I walked in, everyone started at me, and I had to reassure them I wasn't here to rob them.  I said: dude, you are a very attractive man, that's probably at least part of why they were staring at you.

The usual.  Me challenging his interpretations but coming around.  He taught me that in New Orleans race trumps everything, and yet our love did transcend that.

I don't wish we'd never made love, that we'd tried to be together and it never worked out.  I have no regrets and when not super aggravated with me I think he didn't either.  We loved each other passionately but there are ways to love that don't end up with a white picket fence.

I'm grateful for all the time that we spent together, even for every fight and misunderstanding and everything.  I flash to all the important times in our lives that we spent together and I remember so many different settings.

He never came to my new house - since I got Ziggy we went other places.  He said: I don't like hyper aggressive dogs.  It was on my list of reasons to get Ziggy to chill the fuck out to have them meet but i didn't want it to happen before Ziggy was ready.  She's still not ready and now he's gone, but that's not that important.  I vividly remember all the other times we were together.  I hardly remember the sex, what brought us together, but instead remember the talks.  So many talks.  So much talking.  

I miss him so much and the thought that I will never see him again devastates me, but I have no regrets of any kind.  For all the times i was a total asshole to him, I learned to be better.  IF I'm a better person now than 10 years ago when we met, it's in large part because of him. 

Friday, February 3, 2017


After a conference call, I got texts of support.  "It's going to be a rough year but it'll be worth it," and so on.

Things aren't that bad.  In fact, I was sitting there merrily doing a tedious bookkeeping chore, delighted for a quiet moment.  I hadn't been really frustrated in the call, just with them not wanting me to put policies in writing.  Like, let's keep things secret because ... ? And actually the current leader said: yes, I think we need a policy in writing; and she (who was sending me texts) was the one trying to sabotage that by going off-track and excusing things that weren't even up for discussion.  Her leadership style drove me crazy all last year because she always wanted things to be soft; I am much better with somebody who is explicit - I don't care if I agree with them or not.  MOst of the stuff isn't important so just make it clear. 

Then I had a long talk with the former board leader who made life hell for me that first year, and she speaks to me with such fondness now, calling me kiddo.  I tell her secrets and things of my life, though of course i never really trust her.  I tell her secrets that don't really matter.  I find myself doing that a lot, to figure out who can be trusted.  And with her it's to enforce a forged alliance that helps me because she is my nuclear option.  When not me in the crosshairs, it's a fabulous tool.

Deep breaths. Things are not awful.  Are they warning me of things to come?  Who knows.  I'll handle it if I have to, ignore if it I can.

They are struggling because there are few people as qualified for the job of being my supervisor as I am, and I have no interest in it.  None.  Zero.  Zilch.  I want somebody else to do what I've been doing on top of my regular job.  And they're realizing: there aren't people more qualified than me.  And that's making them be fussy.  Hahahaha, I have no fucks to give.

Sad news though, one of my favorite co-workers left today for another job.  He's kind of ditzy but just the sweetest person ever.  He can handle high maintenance people - even those worse than me - with such grace.  I'm very sad.  We hugged repeatedly and at length and only promises of Shabbat dinner together made it a little better.  I will miss him and his regular habit of swooping in and saving my sanity. 

God things were so bad, I sometimes forget how bad they were.  I've cried to him before, just so upset. 

And things could still turn again.  If I got busted for the samizdating I've been doing I could be fired in a second.  Or if they knew who I'm going kayaking with, or so many other things.  My politics do not line up with the people in charge, and so it goes.  In this climate that could bring the end of my time there, so I keep my head down until I'm ready to go. 

This climate is so fucked up.  I've spent some time digging into issues and I feel a little more aware and organized.  Hopefully I've done a good enough job - tomorrow we plan to host 50 people to write postcards and I printed them and some issue lists and addresses and I think we're set but we'll find out.  I'll pick up kingcakes in the morning to take, pull the chilled fancy box wine out of the fridge, and be grateful it's at somebody else's house. 

Today I chatted a bit with a friend who is always sad about his daughter being autistic.  My usual response came up again - she is different and she is awesome.  She is hilariously funny with great comedic timing, and she is strong-willed and just doesn't give a fuck and I think she's awesome. He worries that she doesn't have friends and that she is upset about it because of how she responds when asked, and I think that she's probably upset that people keep focusing on shit that doesn't matter to her.  People like her, she's not isolated.  She's good in school and she has fun activities.  I think her life is great.  Anyway, I really want her to meet Ziggy because I think they would be awesome together - she can ignore better than anyone I know, and she's explicit.  Those are two things that Ziggy thrives with. 

I never really know how to respond when he says these things. I get that it must be beyond my ability to understand how difficult it is to have a child with health problems and autism.  I get that she's not the child he'd dreamed of - she is not snuggly and sweet.  She is sassy and calls him out for his hovering nonsense - she makes no bones about her intolerance of him being annoying.  So I see a smart, self-secure girl who isn't easily manipulated so I see strength.  And it's probably unfair, but I think of Temple Grandin - who shows how successful somebody with autism can be when she has parents who believe in her. 

The next few years will likely be hard for my friend's daughter, as she navigates junior high and high school.  But then life gets so much better.  Adults already like her - that's a world where she thrives. 

But I also get a little frustrated with him because his daughter needs him to see her strengths and appreciate what she can do and who she is.

But I also recognize that I have no idea.  He seems to sweat what I think is small stuff, while his wife figures out the real things like "do we put her on hormones to delay her sexual development?"  And all this with so much else going on - nobody deserves the awful karma this friend has (breast cancer in her 30s, a mother with horrible dementia, and so on). 

So I shut up, after I remind him that his daughter is awesome, because I don't know shit.  But there we are. 

Life goes on. 

I have class to read for, I have a dog who is energetic, I have a house to clean.  Today isn't Armageddon, so we fight on.  I told Senator John Kennedy not to confirm Betsy DeVos but that was a colossal waste of time.  Somebody posted on FB that he's not sure how he's going to vote and i posted recent CNN footage showing that he very clearly is in favor of her appointment.  I suggested we focus our energies where they can do some good and this isn't it. "He'll listen if he hears enough," says the person.  "Actually, he won't.  We are in a state that voted more for Trump than any other in the election where this senator was elected.  No Republican senator in this boat is going to go against Trump right now." 

Whatever.  I have limited energy.  She can rail against the inevitable without me. 

My tenant stopped by last night without warning and said she's pregnant again and they'll probably move in a few months.  It makes me spiral again with: do I sell my house or keep it?  I just don't know.  IN this current crisis it seems smart and kind - I can offer it at a reasonable rent and still be ok financially myself, it's an investment in case the stock market crashes, etc.  I guess if I have a hard time renting it I could sell it but I can't imagine having a hard time - it just can be hard to find great tenants, though I've been really lucky. 

I walked by a house that has a sign that it's going to sheriffs auction.  The thought of getting it and fixing it up appealed to me until I remembered that some days I barely have time and energy to brush my teeth.  Renovating a house that has likely been abandoned for years - yeah, not so much.  Though it is a good price (no! resist!). 

I keep saying it but I do really need to stay focused financially.  And I may need to shift my focus.  I've been maxing out my retirement account (though it's still paltry since I haven't been doing that throughout my life), but I don't trust the market.  Should I instead more aggressively pay down my loans on both houses?  What a delight it would be to be mortgage-free again.  But is that short sighted?  I understand how retirement savings can add up significantly ... but I also remember 2008. 

I wish I could think of investment opportunities that were not market and also didn't take as much of my energy as managing a rental property (though it's much better than having a manager - just the owning it is a hassle).  So until I do, I will try to do both - retirement savings and aggressive paying down of mortgage.  I'm sure I can cut costs more, I just need to do it.  LIke today, I'm being ridiculous - spending about $100 to co-host this party - between the supplies and the beverages and kingcakes ... maybe more than that.  Do I really need to do that?  I originally conceived this as potluck but the person hosting said we'd cover refreshments and then attendance shot up (not because of that, but people want to get together for political reasons), so I'm getting three king cakes plus wine plus plus plus.  It's fine, that's not budget-busting because I have means, but I have a a balance on my credit card due to the trip next week and I get cranky when I can't immediately pay off my credit card.  So, the main meal this week for me will be curried lentils. 

And of course the downside to eating more economically is that it's more carb-heavy and I gain weight.  Not drastically, and some of my clothes are still annoyingly too big, but legumes and grains definitely move my weight set point up. 

And this may make me the strangest woman in the country, but I don't actually give a fuck that I'm fat.  I like having mass and strength that comes of that. 

I also like underdressing.  I'm often the worst-dressed person in the room professionally, and I'm down with that.  I hate spending money on clothes - both financially and environmentally.  And also in terms of simplicity - why have so many clothes?  I need six outfits for work, that's all.  More is unnecessary and wasteful. 

OK, it's Saturday now, the coffee is nearly drunk, it's time to set out on errands, then dogwalk and laundry, then reading, then party, then more reading and various chores.  My pup is wired - she likes the just rolled in cool weather but hates the wind.  Oh lord, it's only 43 degrees outside.  I better put on a jacket. 

called to account

A friend of mine has reminded me that I need to shut down my Chase account if they won't disinvest from DAPL.  I was kind of waiting until ... what?  I don't know.  To see if it got shut down another way.  Knowing my small bit of money is irrelevant on its own.  And so on. 


And now it's time to grow up and be held to my values. 

The problem is that credit unions here suck.