Thay Hello to Thamthon!

Samson just found another way to endear himself to us. A quick trip to the vet for teeth cleaningIMG_1135[1] and he’s a new man — but missing his two front teeth, along with two molars. Thay hello to Thamthon. It’s tragically comical, and, yes, once we got him past the pain, we actually laughed out loud. No, not with him. At him. Yes, we’re probably going to hell.

I mean, Samson was cute as a button before, but now? Just too darn endearing. Come on, a dog with no front teeth? Trust me, he’s got plenty, so the guy’s not gumming his food to death, but it cracks me up just to think of it. He was already nicknamed Ding Ding for his, er, lack of skills outside of anything but chasing a ball 24/7, so when you add the Toothless Joe moniker, it definitely paints a picture.


Graphic, yes, but you KNOW you were wondering…

Now, it took a while for me to get to the humor. A 12-hour day for both dogs, undergoing anesthetic, and getting four teeth and two teeth yanked, respectively, and then extracting a cool $1,000 of our own for their good health (Ouch!),and we were close to grouchy. Then to discover it’s more or less hereditary, so while Chloe kept her front teeth for now, we can count on them going within a year or two (they actually had identical molars removed). Oh, and then there was the bloody drool in the car on the way home was an interesting challenge. If you thought texting and driving was dangerous, trying keeping the leather seats protected from a dizzy little pair of doxies still shaking of the last remnants of anesthesia while on Lake Shore Drive at 7 PM. Add to that the all night whimpering and crying that made me feel the guilt of any good pet lover — yes, parent — who feels they’ve let down the little creature who looks to them for EVERYTHING, and you get the gist.

But, it’s three days later, and everyone’s on the mend. The only question still to be answered  is whether or not Samson will lisp when he barks? To be continued…


Making “Life” Three Syllables… At Fifty

The Dreaded AARP Card

I’m still two weeks away from the big 5-Oh, but between the AARP card that arrived in the mail and the new progressive-lens eye-wear that were actually ready the same day, denial was  no longer an option. Oh, and the fact that Chris has basically created an advent calendar to remind me, I’ve decided to welcome the day with open arms. Fifty? Bring it! And to celebrate, I thought it might be interesting to resurrect a blog post from April, 2009, titled, How Do You Make Life Three Syllables?, and augment it with a few life adventures previously omitted, and a few I’ve encountered since… Read on…

“…There’s no point in taking stock unless you do something with the stock you’ve taken. Whoa. Heavy. But seriously, how many times have I taken stock of my life, resolved to make changes, edits or revisions, or just to slow down? And I make those changes, edits and revisions, and even slow down, and then find myself facing the same dilemma months or years later.  Taking stock again. So, back to square one, aren’t we. Does that mean that all my angst from previous stock-taking was misplaced? I don’t think so. I just don’t think I let it take. Just didn’t sit with it long enough.

One of those “great” nephews…

So I forced myself to sit with it for a bit tonight. And here’s what I came up with…I’ve knocked myself unconscious in Annie Leibowitz’s bathroom and been brought round again by the photographer herself with the very ice I dumped in her toilet. I’ve fallen 75 feet off the side of a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise ship and lived to tell about it. I’ve served Charlie Rose, Nora Ephron and Tom Brokaw dinner — and all at the same dinner party. I’ve para-sailed into the side of a Winnebego camper and survived unscathed. I’ve knocked on doors every day for a year and a half in Japan as a Mormon missionary offering something outside of the Big Bang theory to a people too kind and gracious to do anything but listen. I’ve understudied Tommy Tune for a July 4th Spectacular at Walt Disney World. I’ve moved 6 times within the last 18 months. (I refuse to update this statement to 2012 on the grounds it may induce an unsurvivable anxiety attack…)

I’ve performed inspirational vocal solos at church meetings where Quarterback Steve Young delivered inspirational talks — all while being asked to leave Brigham Young University for being gay. I’ve worked construction and stepped off the foundation of a house, fallen 15 feet to the concrete floor face-first with minor scratches and landed the rest of the day off. I’ve performed naked on stage for six months in New York City. I’ve been kissed by Sir Ian MacKellen. I’ve worked graveyard shifts at a 7-11 and hosed off the parking lot every night barefoot and loved it — the regulars called me Huck Finn.  I’ve succesfully pitched a multi-million dollar PR program over the phone to a bank executive on a Mexican beach. I’ve lived 22 months at sea. I’ve flown cross-country with two dogs and a bird — all in the cabin and under the seat in front of me — and only downed two drinks to get me through it.

June 22nd!

I’ve helped prep the random likes of Ozzie Osbourne, Sandra Lee, Kathy Gifford, Patrick Sharp, Dhani Jones, Jerry Rice, Solange Knowles, and Charlotte Ronson for media interviews for household brand names like Pepsico, Heinz, Gillette, Alka Seltzer and Absolut. I’ve body-doubled (off the court/on camera) for Utah JAZZ point guard, John Stockton. A la “A Chorus Line,” I’ve blown out my knee at a professional dance audition, and stopped the audition cold. I’ve witnessed wondrous “firsts” like the first African American President of the United States and the first female Secretary of State of the United States. I’ve watched 35 nieces and nephews grow up to become amazing people and bring 39 great-nieces and great-nephews into the world. And I’ve legally married the love of my life — and he’s a man!

Ah, and that’s just the tip of the half-century iceberg.  My  life is definitely three syllables. Nothing monosyllabic about it. And I plan to keep it that way. Hello Fifty! Oh, and Chris? Fifty’s nothing, but payback’s a bitch…

Ah, The HQ Bullseye!

Sometimes, living in a company’s hometown has its advantages. You can be fairly certain that the retail experience you’re getting is most representative of the mother ship. Want the latest flavor from Starbucks or consistent personal shopping experience from Nordstrom? Stick to Seattle. Want the most authentic dining experience from Bobby Flay? Stick to NYC. Want the cleanest restrooms and happiest employees from Target? Stick to downtown Minneapolis. I’m not saying that the reach, wrath or love of a CEO can’t be felt from afar, but I have noticed that on occasion, things can get lost in translation.

For example: “Ensure all bathrooms are cleaned and fully stocked with supplies” in a HQ city may be interpreted just a tad differently in a satellite location. Case in point? A trip to the Brooklyn Atlantic Avenue Target on a Sunday morning… Sometimes, it’s just tough to stay ahead of the game, as this photo suggests. And yes, I’m taking you into a bathroom stall. But it’s all above board… except the toilet paper… which is tragically humorous. MacGyver would be proud!

Ingenious use of a trash can liner…

Prescriptive Religion and Other Pain Remedies

Once a year, like clockwork, I can be guaranteed my share of lower back pain. I never know exactly when it will hit, but when it does? God help me. And by God, of course, I mean Percocet, Percodan, Xanax, Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, Wine, Spirits, or the occasional ice pack and dollop of Ben Gay… Or actually any combination of said deity will do. Restores my faith every time. So, what invoked my return to religion this time around? Changing the sheets. Yeah, you heard me. CHANGING THE SHEETS! I played volleyball for two days straight with no issue at all, but when I simply try to pull my weight around the house and get the bedroom in order before heading to work the following Monday morning? I take what felt like a baseball bat to the spine. Snap. Twang. Ouch. Damn fitted sheets.

Now if getting beaten up by 500 count Egyptian cotton wasn’t bad enough (okay, so they were Thomas O’Brien 300 thread count from Target… sue me), I had to add insult to injury with an episode of being taken down by ice cubes. I know, just how tragic am I? I start paying on my long term health care premiums, and suddenly my senior citizen body clock decides my time has come. Next stop the morgue. Anyway, back to the ice cubes episode… Chris is out running an errand, and I’m pathetically gimping around the kitchen trying to pack some zip lock baggies with ice so I can treat my back, when I trip on a Dachshund, grimace in pain, and dump ice all over the kitchen floor. The dogs look at me, I look at them, and we all realize that this is going to be interesting.

After some painful maneuvering, I find myself on the kitchen floor, slowing gathering ice cubes to me in small groups of 3 – 4, and then awkwardly raising myself up with my elbow on the counter to deposit them in the garbage can. It’s at this moment that Chris returns home, breezes into the kitchen, sees my predicament, tosses his head back with glee and let’s loose in a glorious guffaw and boisterous laughter! I mean, we’re talking some serious laughter. Unabashed, shameless, unadulterated and joyous. He hasn’t laughed that hard since he learned about the Mormon planet Kolob watching Stephen Colbert. (Google it. Trust me, it’s a must-see…) And that moment was priceless, too. So, as much as I wanted to be pissed and hurt about it, I had to admit I must have looked pretty pathetic, so gave in and started laughing, too. Unfortunately, that action set off a wave of lower back pain that about killed me, but it was worth it. That, and the fact that every time anything dropped to the floor the rest of the day, Chris would head toward it with a spring in his step, offer to pick it up for me, and proceed to grab the item in a series of squat thrusts (repeated over and over)  just to prove how easy it was for him, and how painful it would be for me. Ah, what a guy. That’s why I love him. And that’s also why I need the Xanax. Long live religion and lower back pain.

The Fitful Sleep of Cats, Clients and Demi Fey

There are some dreams that are just crazy dreams, and others that are just WTF dreams. Last night? WTF? Perhaps it was the regimen of Niquil, Dayquil, Airborne, Zycam and the last minute generous dosage of Cheritussin (soon to expire and prescribed by Minneapolis minute clinic Dr. Luke Hammer… Seriously? Dr. Luke Hammer? That’s a name born for porn, if ever there was one…) cough syrup that combined to create a night’s sleep that even Laurell K. Hamilton would envy.

So, the dream starts out with my best friend of 28 years, Dan, me and a former cabinetry client driving three to the front seat in some economy station wagon through a nameless intersection, only to be nearly side-swiped by another vehicle driven be a ne’er-do-well (token nod to Chris, who LOVES that word). My former client became outraged, and demanded that we follow the guy and give him a piece of her mind. We give chase, corner the guy outside his own double-wide, and follow him inside to a scene of his wife, kids, and CATS. Cats everywhere. On everything. And in every color NOT found in nature — purple Tabbies, pink Persians, red Siamese. And some of them were really tiny and crawling like little Demi Fey (think Tinkerbelle) through his wife’s long hair and playing peek-a-boo. Freaky, freaky, freaky.

Now my former client is focused on her mission, and sits the guy down at his kitchen table to give him what for, but looks around, sees the cabinetry and tries to sell the guy on a kitchen makeover. A new kitchen that is no doubt worth more than his whole double wide! But she’s good, and she succeeds; leaves her card on the table and out the door she goes, leaving me with the guy, his wife, and his rainbow cat collection. I look down and there is a play pen full of cats all staring at me like I can save them somehow. I can’t. I won’t. They’re bright BLUE, for gods’ sake. So I hit the door at a run.

The Getaway Car

I get outside, only to discover Dan and my former client sitting in the front seat of a toy-sized all white Nissan Cube, dressed in solid white fitted — yes, fitted — cat suits, revving the engine and waving me in. I look down, see myself in the same fitted get-up, and awoke screaming, sweating, and praying for daybreak.

Now clearly there is a thread of reality throughout the dream — it doesn’t take Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to do a little interpreting. Dan and I have been talking cars and careers lately, some of the story lines in recent Merry Gentry novels have involved Demi Fey and oddly colored creatures.  One of my new clients has been very interested in cats lately, and one of my former clients is working on a kitchen makeover in which I was very involved. The piece that’s befuddling me? The all-white, fitted cat suits we ended up in, and the all white miniature Nissan Cube that closed out the scene… Again, WTF?

2012. Unwritten.

The Esplanade: Battery Park City

Harkening back to my previous post (come on, how often do you actual get to write “harkening back”?) about the produndity of language and words on a page, I was walking around the southern tip of Manhattan today, enjoying the new esplanade that runs from the Brooklyn Bridge over to Battery Park City. So beautiful. And it was the perfect day for a contemplative walk — New Year’s Day, sun shining, moderate amounts of people strolling, and a new playlist on my iPhone. I had just hit the gravel paths and foliage past the Staten Island Ferry Terminal facing the Statue of Liberty, and was relaxing on a stretch of benches facing the NY harbor when “Unwritten,” by Natasha Bedingfield started playing (Hey, I said new playlist, not necessarily new music). Now Natasha has her share of over-produced, pop culture, bubble gum music for teenage white girls — think “White Chicks” with the Wayans Brothers in 2004 and you’ll roll right with me — but strip some of her songs down to the words on the page and poignant becomes an operative adjective:

No one else can feel it for you

Only you can let it in

No one else, no one else

Can speak the words on your lips

Drench yourself in words unspoken

Live your life with arms wide open

Today is where your book begins

The rest is still unwritten

View from the Esplanade

It was a perfect moment, with just the right song — and the right lyrics —  encouraging me to embrace 2012 with a fresh perspective, with arms wide open, and begin anew. Hmmm, maybe Natasha and teenage girls are on to something. Or maybe I’m just gayer than I ever thought. Only 2012 will tell. But in the meantime, check out some of the music, the lyrics, the voices, and the songs that have found their way onto my playlist over the last year. If not Natasha, perhaps someone else on this list will inspire you in the coming year.

  • Christina Grimmie — Advice,  Liar Liar
  • Tyrone Wells — Pull MeThrough, Give me One Reason, Remain
  • Cary Brother — Ride, Feel Like You Make Me, Belong (favorite new artist discovery)
  • Graham Colton — Pacific Coast Eyes, Everything You Are, There Comes A Time
  • Ryan Starr — We Might Fall, Perfect, The One You Know (still one of my favorite voices — incredibly gifted)
  • David Cook — Let Me Fall for You, Fade Into Me
  • Rob Thomas — Someday, Feel So Bad, Sunday Morning New York
  • Maroon 5 — Moves Like Jagger (sexier every day. ridiculous)
  • Parachute — You and Me
  • Boys Like Girls — Two Is Better Than One
  • Kimberly Caldwell — Mess of You, Dsperate Girls & Stupid Boys
  • Owl City — Fireflies, Hello Seattle
  • Selena Cross — Warrior Spirit, Silence, Memories Won’t Fade
  • Safety Suit — Apology, Annie, Anywhere But Here
  • Stone Sour — Through Glass, Hesitate
  • Collective Soul — Staring Down
  • Leigh Nash — Between The Lines, Blue, Along The Wall
  • Grace Potter & The Nocturnals — Ah Mary
  • Andy Grammer — Keep Your Head Up
  • Michelle Branch — Everywhere, Loud Music, Breathe
  • Gavin DeGraw — Not Over You
  • Celine Dione — Where Does My Heart Beat Now, The Power of Love, Alone and, of course, I Drove All Night ( my personal tribute to Ann Arbor, MI, and my road buddy Ed Dziedzic — it was a “best of” album… I HAD to buy it… like I said, maybe I’m gayer than I ever thought…)

That Buck Will Cost You…

A buck is a buck is a buck. As one of my nieces  aptly named it, “a green paper penny.” On its own, it doesn’t buy much, but backed by FICO or a creditor? It increases 100-fold. Perhaps 1,000-fold. Here’s the story…

Remember my celebration when closing my BofA Gold Account? All those years slaving away to wipe out that debt? Well, BofA actually made an error in the pay-off amount, and after that final payment? I still owed them a buck. Yep. A lousy buck. Now to their credit (pun intended), they waived it, and still settled the account closed. No harm. No foul. But they forgot to notify FICO that they had waived it. So, almost a year later, I happen to be checking in on my credit score (giddy that it should be GREATLY improved) and I see that I have a couple of “black marks in Heaven.” Yep, the old “potential negatives” on my credit rating. Turns out that the credit bureau never got word that BofA had waived the $1 (nor did I, mind you, so I never thought to check after the account was paid off and closed… lesson learned). No word. Nada. For nine months. In credit bureau terms, that means “seriously delinquent.” For nine months. Not pretty. All for a buck. Needless to say, I’m in the throes of drafting memos via email and hard copy to all parties. BofA says its not their problem. The credit bureau says that while they appreciate my bringing it to their attention, their report is accurate. So… back to more letters, more time, more energy, all to clear a smudge on my credit history that in today’s lending landscape may as well represent a foreclosure or repossession. All for a buck.

Another story…

Chris closed out his T-Moble account, and it turns out that T-Mobile OWED him $1. And because they owed him a buck, the company couldn’t close the account, and continued to send him monthly bills alerting him to the credit due him, but to a wrong address. And until he actually spoke with a representative by phone, acknowledged that they owed him a buck, and gave them the correct address, they could not close the account. When made aware of the error, he simply asked them to waive it, so that he could close it up and move on. Oh no. They refused. They had to send him a check for $1. “But after all this time, haven’t you spent about $20 trying to locate me and get me the $1 check?” Doesn’t matter. Have to write the check. It’s in the mail.

So… I wonder… Can we just sign the $1 check from T-Mobile over to BofA and see if the Credit Gods call it even? Remotely possible? Or simply too much to ask? I’m guessing the latter.