Sunday, December 9, 2012


Today I was sitting across from a man on the bus who was eating one. He, like most people, first tore the package and proceeded to eat it as though it was a candybar. By the time he was finished he was tongue deep in the wrapper searching for crumbs. 

In high school my friend's brother and his friends used to call me Crumbs due to the fact I always had a crumb collection on my boobs. This contributed to my learning to eat crumbly things in a non-crumbly way. As a result I learned to eat crunchy granola bars the same way I would open a bag of chips -- by opening one of the ends instead of tearing it. Then I break them in pieces while they're still in the package and eat the pieces as finger food. When I'm done I empty the crumbs into my mouth the same way I do Cheetos. 

A couple minutes later he took out a second bar and repeated the heinous process of gobbling it down. I thought about enlightening him as to my less-embarrassing, neater way, but didn't. I figured drawing more attention to how disgusting he was would be mean, especially considering he was a stranger.

This is a common issue for me. I don't mean to sound like an asshole, but I spend a lot of time thinking about really stupid stuff, like eating granola bars, because I am certain there is usually a better way to do everything.  And I'm right about that most of the time.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Less Than Solid

I spent yesterday morning with a three year old. I didn’t know what I would be doing as usually I watch her in the evening and feed her dinner, get her ready for bed, read bedtime stories – all that stuff. I’m better at that. I don’t really know what to do with kids during the day. Even for a few hours, I have no idea what to do with them in a city. I mean, museums, sure, but without a car, that goes from ideal to terrible in three seconds flat. Especially when the three year old doesn’t want to walk anywhere, even the bus stop.

We didn’t go to a museum because after a block she was complaining about her legs hurting. Her dad said the museum was only a thirty minute walk, so I figured they’d walked it with her before. And he didn’t give me a stroller or anything, so I thought she could manage. But between the unnamed chip on my shoulder and her whining, we only made it to the park, and that was after taking a break to get her a drink – her dad did give us money for lunch.

She would usually have gone to school today, but she had diarrhea so she wasn’t allowed to come today, and her dad was working from home so I was called to entertain her.

We were almost to the park when a woman walking her dog didn’t pick up its shit, instead she placed a piece of newspaper over it. This bothered me, but I was preoccupied with a moody three year old. We continued walking.

Another woman who had been speaking to a man nearby shouted, “Hey, you’re gonna pick that up aren’t you?” We were on a major street with high foot traffic, and that was a pretty inconsiderate thing to do, but I understand forgetting the poo-bags, but placing newspaper over it seemed worse than leaving it uncovered. “There’s a kid there, she could step in it!” This was true, too, but I was doing everything I could to avoid this confrontation and get on my way.

The dog’s owner spun around and came within an inch of the older woman to shout, “Get out of my fucking face!” The irony escaped her, I suppose, seeing as the woman had not been anywhere near her face, nor had she been particularly rude.

The owner sort of wiped it up and it became apparent why she hadn’t in the first place. The fecal matter wasn’t exactly solid. But if she knew this, and she had newspaper, why not place the paper under her dog’s ass and pick it up after? It seemed obvious, but I couldn’t say this because being in the company of someone else’s child made saying anything seem irresponsible.

“If you don’t pick it up, I’m going to call the cops!” the woman shouted.

“Do it, I don’t care.” The woman did. “Fuck you, cop caller!” The dog owner continued as she ran away.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Imaginary House

About a year ago a friend and I were fantasizing about moving to a beach house or buying a vacation home together when we're not poor, so hopefully in about a decade. At the time I found a house that's about an hour away from the beach in my mom's home town. It's pretty centrally located between several larger towns in Eastern North Carolina.

Recently I was looking at houses in that area again, and found that the same one was still for sale. It's been for sale for about two years, and I doubt anyone will scoop it up anytime soon. My mom's hometown is pretty decrepit. It had a textile mill and a Pepsi plant in the 50s and 60s, but once those moved the only industry left was tabacco, and that's not even as prominent anymore.

The median age in the town is 44 and about 50% of the population lives below the poverty line. The crime rate is close to twice the national average, though most of those crimes aren't violent.

My mom has told me that this is a terrible idea and that I don't have money anyway, though, "If you really want it I suppose you could buy out the owners."

About two years ago I interviewed several of my mom's relatives. I have a bunch of letters and copies of deeds and other similar documents, and have this outrageous idea to write a book based on my mom's dysfunctional family -- she's not exactly stoked about the idea, there were a lot of alcoholics, lots of infidelity, and a few of them dabbled in the Ku Klux Klan. Ideally, I'd like to do this in the house I'll buy there.

I'm going home next month for a visit and have plans to road-trip down to see the house with a friend. I figure if it's awful in person, then I can forget about the idea for awhile. But even if the house is terrible,   I'll find another, and moving there will still be part of my plan. After school and after I pay off my loans, hopefully I'll have a solid portfolio and will be able to freelance and can live wherever, including The Middle of Nowhere, North Carolina.

The more I think about my imaginary house, I think of who I'd like to be there. I've always been somewhat environmentally conscious, but I've become more-so and I'd like to have a home that's completely self-sustained. I want to make everything I eat, and put on my body, and use in my home. I want to bike the flat land around it, and I want to teach kids to read, and I want to be a girl scout leader, and to have strangers over for dinner.

The person who would live in that house is much better than I am now. She's more compassionate and less selfish, and patient. I know I don't have to live there to accomplish these things, but I suppose in my head once I've achieved all those things, I'll be able to make there happen, and maybe start something to lift up that wretched little town.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hot Chick Shit

When I walked into the unoccupied stall I found the remnants of a turd on the seat. If it had been Number 1, I wouldn't have had a problem taking some toilet paper and wiping the seat. But Number 2 isn't something I'm so comfortable with. 

I began to wait, but could feel the tension in the bathroom, so I decided to give the other woman her privacy and take a lap around the floor.

I work in what is referred to as a "startup incubator." We're located on one floor together in what would otherwise be a relatively swanky office building. People who don't work on my floor wear suits to work, the people on my floor frequently look as though they came to work in last night's clothes. We don't interact much with the other companies, but we're familiar enough that I can look at someone and tell you which overflowing office (singular) they work in with a dozen other people. 

Space is tight, to say the least. This doesn't matter for the most part, except where the bathrooms are concerned. There is a single bathroom for close to fifty women to share. Two stalls. That's all we've got to work with and when that's narrowed to one stall due to one unpleasant person's error, frequent pee-ers are screwed. 

I drink a least two liters of water in the time I spend at work -- it's my solution for not being able to afford my Red Bull addiction. It's hard to be anything but alert when you have to pee all the time.

By the time I was finishing my lap around the floor The Hot Chick from down the hall beat me to the bathroom by about ten feet. Determined to not repeat the previous routine, I decided to wait patiently in the bathroom. 

After about five minutes of waiting, I realized it was going to be longer, and again I opted to give her privacy and take a lap. Upon my return, she was still there, so I took another lap. This went on for about twenty minutes and I went from checking after each lap to about every third. After the third lap or so people working from couches in the halls and common areas began to take notice and shoot me quizzical looks.

At this point I probably would have been better off leaving my building and making my way to one of the dozen coffee shops scattered around my building, BUT I didn't know The Hot Chick was going to take a deuce for twenty minutes. I mean, ten minutes -- sure, but twenty seems excessive for a work environment. 

The Hot Chick finally came out of the stall, just as I came in to check once more. We avoided eye contact and I was finally able to (ahem) relieve myself. I finished in the time it took for her to wash her hands. (I'm a fast pee-er, guys! Hire me!) She didn't leave though, she stayed and looked at herself in the mirror while I washed my hands. We left at the same time and exchanged looks that said I know that you know that I know that you just took a massive shit. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012


I spend a lot of time with other people's dogs. A lot of teachers and students bring theirs to school and supposedly there are more located in San Francisco than children (anyone under eighteen). The dogs here are all friendly, they sit patiently tied to parking meters and watch their owners eat inside adjacent restaurants. 

I approach others' dogs with enthusiasm. I can have entire conversations with dogs without acknowledging their owners. It's weird perhaps, but I really miss having a dog.

Growing up, I had two dogs; Bruno and Emmy. 

Bruno was a German Shepard mix who had previously been owned by an elderly couple. He was an outside dog, though we would bring him in at nighttime. He was docile and quiet, and a comforter. Though, now, I realize how absent he is from a lot of childhood memories. I remember him escaping the backyard a few times, but for the most part he was a distant part of our family, busy digging holes in the backyard. We had to have him put down when I was eleven because his hips and bowels had given out. I had taken him on walks, and he once dragged me down the street for several yards when he decided to chase a squirrel. That had been my first time being allowed to hold him on his leash by myself, but aside from that time I don't recall very many Bruno-specific memories. However, I was crushed when we had to have him put down, we weren't close, but he was my dog.

Emmy was brought home about eight months after Bruno had died. I had convinced my Dad that if we got another dog, I would be responsible for it. My mom was not so convinced, but my dad would drive me around to different shelters after my softball games anyway. We had driven around to many of them  to the point that we recognized staff. I had thought about the name Emmy for a while, Rookie if it had been a boy -- I was twelve, these seem to me acceptable dog names. 

Emmy was in a pen with one other dog -- a significantly younger pitbull mix. The pitbull mix looked to be hovering above the ground she was chasing her tail so furiously. Emmy sat in the furthest corner and was not amused with the puppy's behavior. We knew she was the one. 

When the volunteer brought her to us, she was timid, but warmed up to me pretty quickly. She was about four years old and had definitely been treated badly by her former owners. It took her awhile to become comfortable with my dad and any other men.

My mom was not pleased when we brought Emmy home. She had said that she would end up taking care of Emmy more than anyone else and that she was done with pets. We kept Emmy anyway.

Emmy slept on a rug in my room and stayed close on walks, to the point that she didn't need to be leashed. She was never really interested in other dogs, or really being a dog. She didn't chase moving objects, and she wasn't interested in eating by herself. She would eat when we did and bring individual mouthfuls of food into the dining room, spit them out, and proceed to eat each piece individually before repeating the process. If left outside too long she would take herself for a walk. If she was mad at us she would look at us square in the eye and pee on the carpet. She had an attitude, but was harmless and served as my closest friend for the duration of middle school. 

Once I was in high school I became busier and took her on shorter walks. After I could drive those walks were reduced to a lap around the court most days, where they had been miles a few years before.  Though, she still spent each night by my side.

During thunderstorms she would wake me up by placing her paws on my bed and shaking. I would sometimes lift her up into bed with me, or pet her until she fell asleep, and occasionally I'd sing to her changing the name Lucy to Emmy in the I Love Lucy theme song (I had to learn the song for eighth grade chorus, I also had to dress up as Lucy for the performance). 

When I left for college she sat next to me in a car full of half my things while my parents drove behind us. At that point I thought of her as a younger sibling, someone that I would miss and see whenever I went home. And I did, and she still was excited to see me when I visited, but as I settled into Richmond and came home less, she grew less enthusiastic. 

When I moved home for two months prior to moving to San Francisco last fall, she became my responsibility once again. She slept on a rug by my bed in my old room.  While there I took her on more walks, which she enjoyed, but not as much as she had. 

I woke up one morning and she had wet herself. She had never done this before and seemed out of sorts. I went to take her outside, but she couldn't move her back legs. We called the veterinarian and took her in. By the time we arrived, she could use her legs, but seemed to be walking differently than before. After the vet ran some tests he explained that she was on her way to kidney failure. She was about fourteen, and I had known as I'd learned with Bruno to expect this. 

I got all the pills the doctor recommended and special food and took her home. After trying to get her to swallow her pills several times on her own, I dipped them in peanut butter with success. We went through this ritual a couple times a day for about a week, and she was back to herself.

Exactly a week before Christmas she was feeling better and took off when my dad left her in the backyard too long. We spent that night frantically walking and driving around and putting up signs after calling animal control to see in anything had been reported about a dog similar to her. 

It was late that night that I pulled off the road after driving by what appeared to be a dead animal in the road. My parents had seen it too and were parked a few yards in front of me. They had gotten a better look than I had, and told me it wasn't her. After we all got home I went out some more to no avail. 

My dad and I got into some kind of disagreement about what to watch on TV and I went upstairs to get a snack. I couldn't find a utensil I needed and became angry that my parents let the dishes pile up the way that they had -- I had been doing them every day at that point. I started to empty the dishwasher and ended up hyperventilating and threw several bowls on the floor. I sat in an area free of shattered glass and cried for awhile. My dad came upstairs and swept up the glass around me and asked if I was alright yet. "You lost my dog. I'm not ready to babysit you yet," was all I said. I recognize that may have been harsh, but he lost my dog. 

About four days later a nice couple found Emmy in the parking lot of a Lowe's about four miles from my parents' house. She was incredibly unscathed. She left with us two days later to spend Christmas with my sister and nephew in North Carolina. She did well over the trip and was comfortable in the car. 

I had two more days with her before I set out across the country. We made the drive in five days and the morning before we arrived to San Francisco, my dad told me she wasn't eating. About a week later my mom told me that had put her down, but my dad didn't want to upset me while I got settled here. I was walking around Chinatown, and sat on a nearby wall to process it. 

I had the opportunity to brace myself for it, and I was fortunate to spend those last couple months with her, but even now seven months later, I start to miss her more when I realize she won't be there when I visit.