Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Loss and found.

One day, at around age 19, I realized that I had never seen any of my pets die. In fact, to my knowledge, not a single one of my pets ever HAD died. Save for one very flat kitty cat I discovered in the road with a very flat mouse in her mouth, every animal I'd ever owned had grown to a nice old age and then run away while I was at school. Meanwhile, my best friend had an actual graveyard in front of her barn filled with goldfish, hamsters, kitties and a couple of German Shephards. It never seemed at all peculiar to me until I was nearly all grown up and I said it out loud to someone who was all, "What? All your animals ran away? All of them? Dude, your parents made that up, man." And I was all, "No, seriously, they even put ads in the paper sometimes." And my friend was all, "Um. Yeah, kind of like you wrote a letter to Santa? And mailed it?" And I was all, "Nope. I was raised by realists, dude. Santa's fake, there's no tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny is made up. But it is totally true that all my dogs ran away." And my friend shook her head sadly and asked, "Ooooh. I understand so much more about you now."

After much contemplation, I realized that probably my 11-year-old tumor-ridden Basset Hound Towser probably did not, in fact, run away. But I appreciated the fact that I was always left with some amount of hope he and all the others would eventually return.

At age 24 or so, I was dating a cute cowboy guy who would one day become Big Dude and living with my arthritic dachsund-poodle mix and a Beagle puppy. The dachsund/poodle was 6 pounds of pure bad-ass, evidenced by the fact that even my cowboyfriend loved him. His name was Peppy, because I named him when I was in the 8th grade. That right there is the main reason why middle school girls should not be allowed to have babies even if they are biologically capable. It has nothing to do with the fact that they don't have the means or common sense to raise a child, it is purely because 13 year old girls would name babies something stupid and there would be a bunch of babies running around with ridiculously dumb names like Peppy or Sparrow or something and they would find a way to put smiley faces and hearts on birth certificates where the dots on the i's should be.

Anyway, Peppy eventually started showing his age, caused mostly in part by that damned beagle puppy pestering him, and the day came where I had to put him to sleep. Because I'd never really gone through losing a pet, the Cowboyfriend in Shining Armor left his job early to accompany me to the vet. Peppy had been there all day, struggling, his little bitty heart valves failing. I wanted to see him one more time before the fatal injection.

Big Brave Cowboyfriend and I walked in from a mid-August heat wave into the cool air of the animal hospital. We were standing in a big room with high ceilings that started swirling around me as the gravity of the situation hit me. A kind woman in sea green scrubs walked towards us and asked if she could help us. I couldn't speak. A lump rose in my throat. I looked to the Cowboyfriend. He looked at the ground. I grabbed his hand so he would speak for me. It was ice freakin' cold. He started to shudder, his shoulders raising up and down, and big ginormous cowboy tears began to plop on the grey tweed rug.

So. I guess I'd be handling the details. I summoned strength, stood up straight and told her we were there to euthanize Peppy, could we see him first? She led us back where I told him he was the coolest dog ever and he licked my hand with his teeny tongue. I tied a friendship bracelet I'd made around his neck (it was the 90s, after all) and removed his collar and put it on my wrist. I held his head while they put him down, his breathing slowed, the weight of his head became heavier. I scooped him up and carried him out in a light blue towel.

We walked out with our heads down, the heat of the day blasting us, radiating off the blacktop and drying the tears that streamed down our faces. I put the limp little body in the backseat. The Cowboyfriend/Big Dude-to be recovered somewhat and drove me and the little body of my friend 45 miles to the house where Peppy and I grew up. The Colorado clay was rock hard and it was at least 98 degrees as afternoon slipped into evening, but we took turns digging a hole in an iris garden. I highly recommend swinging a pickaxe and hard ground when you're upset. Sweating out the grief, I call it. We patted the ground, cried some more and said goodbye to a friend.

I learned a few things that day.
1. Pets do die and it sucks even more than wondering why they ran away.
2. Supporting someone doesn't necessarily mean you take over and fix everything. Sometimes it just means you cry with them.
3. Knights in shining armor sometimes wear cowboy hats.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Just make things easier on everyone and make all your passwords be "password."

Have you ever looked out of your window and seen someone sitting on the street in front of your house on their computer? If you have a unsecured wireless internet connection, that person is in a Toyota pickup, listening to Depeche Mode and frantically typing their ass off to meet a deadline, c'mon out and say HI! It's just me.

I am an stalker expert on unsecured wireless internet connections. I can sniff 'em out. This is because I spend most every evening of my life waiting for a child at a sports practice. I used to wait nicely in a folding chair, socialize with other parents, maybe even read a book. But one day I forgot the book and I sat in the chair thinking only "OH MY GAWD I AM SO BEHIND AT WORK I CANNOT BELIEVE I'M WASTING ALL THIS TIME JUST SITTING HERE ENJOYING MY CHILD'S FLEETING YOUTH." So the next night, instead of sharing cocktails with the other football mommies, I packed a laptop and a cooler for myself (much cheaper than sharing, btw) and cruised the streets around the park for my fix of sweet sweet internet.

For a price, I can tell you where to get the juice - but you've got to be discreet about it. One of my favorite high-speed highs figured out that there was a line of minivans outside his house and went all locked and shit on me. So, "LandsbergsLAN" - you asshole, don't be surprised if you find a couple of empty Bass bottles and some Toyota tiremarks on your lawn some Thursday evening.

Next to an unsecured wireless network, I love me some home set-up security. I don't even try to figure out the bullshit WEP key stuff that real networks have, however, my children play baseball at a park next to a little building full of offices and apartment buildings, and it's quite entertaining to try and guess those people's passwords. There's one guy who calls his modem "JUICYFRUIT" and I haven't broken his code yet, but I am having a very good time trying. Besides the obvious gum references, there's a lotta good material there. One night as I sat with my lap overheated from a tired MacBook, I was growing desperate. I hadn't been able to get any unsecured networks, there wasn't a Starbucks for blocks and my battery was low. I found a modem called "MICHELLE." I looked to the darkening sky for inspiration, looked down and tapped in MAY10.

And I was fricking in. That night I was as close to God's grace as I'll likely ever be.

Anyway - because of this shit and more - the high-speed wireless internet at our house is completely unsecure. C'mon by. I'm guessing you're not gonna hack into my computer and steal pictures of my bulldog. You just wanna check your damned email and that's cool with me. Enjoy the shade, surf some stuff. It's on me. Just paying it forward, y'know. You're welcome.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Forget about clean underwear, if you're in mangled in a horrible accident, your playlist is all that really matters.

Most people relate certain songs to certain points in their lives - high school dances or college parties or holidays or their parents. Much like my uncanny ability to remember exactly what I was wearing while getting hurt, I also remember every song that was playing while I was getting pulled over for speeding.

For your consideration:
March 1984 - Chambers & Colfax - 1974 Plymouth Duster - 45 in a 30. J. Giles Band: "Freeze Frame." (Was ditching school at the time, and had somehow, magically, actually asked my mom's permission to do so. Which was awesome because she said YES, which was a damned good thing because when you're under 18 you have to take your mom to court with you when you get a ticket and it woulda been awful hard to explain why I got a ticket 35 miles from English class. I digress.)
April 1985 - State Hwy 79 - my friend Karyn's '75 Le Mans. 98 in a 55. Prince: "Delirious."
June 1986 - State Hwy 36 - Again, the Duster. 7am. Howard Jones: "Like to Get to Know you Well"
July 1987 - Canyon Blvd., Boulder, CO. 1980 Mustang. 75 in a 30. Orchestral Maneuvers in Dark: "Locomotion."

And so on. This was only a sampling of my offenses, I was quite speedy as a youngster.

I think that patrol officers should be required to ask you what you were listening to and record it on the ticket so that later on in court, you can plead, "FUNKY" or "DANCEY" or whatever. "You know how fast you were going? What were you listening to, "Hot for Teacher" or something?" Because really? It is not MY fault that Prince was getting me all worked up like that. Duh. It is Prince's fault. And there's not a judge in the world that would try a person for speeding, with the windows down, on a boring highway...once they knew said person was bopping to "girlyougottatakemeforalittlerideupanddowninandoutaroundyolegsigetdelirious."

Along the same lines, if I'm ever in a fatal accident, I'd really like someone to carefully comb through the wreckage and figure out if I was listening to a CD or the radio. If the radio, please figure out what station and contact them for that day's playlist. Carefully coordinate with investigators and program directors to determine the exact time of the crash and discover the last song I ever listened to. I will do this should anyone I care about die in a car. Because I would HAVE to know. Were you careening out of control to Celine Dion? Because that would be totally uncool. Were you lulled to sleep by Sade and flew down the embankment totally at alto-induced peace? Or were you thumping your foot on the brake, jamming to the Phil Collins' drum solo in In the Air when you were rear-ended by a semi?

It is for this reason that whenever I drive treacherous roads (which is pretty muchly every Thursday of the winter) that I only listen to totally hip CDs. If I am to be found splattered across the highway and/or embankment, I want the people scraping up my innards to be impressed. "Wow. She was a shitty driver, but for a 42-year-old she was into some sweet tunes!" If, for some reason on Thursdays I'm feeling all high schooley and take along REO Speedwagon-Hi Infidelity, the Best of Rick Springfield and Pat Benetar's Crimes of Passion...well, you won't know it unless there's a hell of an impact because I totally sneakily put the disks in different cases. Or hide them when on the slippery-cliffy parts of the road.

The other reason I keep a good selection of cool music in the car is in case I'm at a stoplight and a limousine pulls up next to me. If I am not listening to cool music when there's a limousine next to me, and say, just for example, I'm listening to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" on NPR or I don't know... "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler... Well, that's when my awesome acting and lip synching skills come into play. It's important to look like I'm singing something really current and with very few words. That way, if the limo contains say, Mick Jagger looking for a new background talent, or Steven Spielberg looking for the next middle-aged hot chick to play the wise-cracking mother of Shea Lebeuf, then I'm all ready for my closeup.

Did you know Edie Brickell was totally just a normal person who sang outloud in front of someone famous accidentally in a bar one night and NOW SHE'S MARRIED TO PAUL SIMON? I know, right? That's why you must always be prepared when a limo is next to you.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Elk and swine and bears, oh my.

I am home all alone with two children and three dogs and fourteen appointments and thirtyseven deadlines and school pictures and back to school night and 7 football practices this week because the Big Dude is away sneaking up on elk with his bow and arrow. You may recall last year when he did this and I totally figured out that he was in Vegas and not hunting AT ALL.

If you're thinking it is a bad idea for me to tell the whole internet that I'm home alone with no Big Dude to protect me, well then you're silly. Because he's bow hunting. Which means that I'm here, all alone, with a sh'load of hunting rifles. Probably not a good idea to drop by unexpectedly, if you catch my drift.

Also, if that's not scary enough for you, I have every single symptom of swine flu except for the mask thing that Michael Jackson's kids used to wear. I am certain I have swine flu not only because I have checked my symptoms online, but also because I emailed my doctor friend to see if she thought I had swine flu and she didn't email me back. Which means, she doesn't want to catch it. Obviously. I totally hope that the people I have fourteen appointments with don't mind, but I'm not going to wear the Michael Jackson kids' mask thing because I can only imagine how completely gross it would be after I sneeze in in about 42 times. Or once. Either way.

You should also know that I'm very possibly about to be widowed, because the Big Dude has seen more bears than elk and I'm pretty sure even though he's a very strong guy with really big fists and an incredible will to live, there's a good chance a hungry black bear might be a teensy bit stronger.

Oh - and an update from last year... If you've actually been in my garage and seen the big freezer full of elk meat, you are probably saying to yourself, "Geez, Pen. You're awfully harsh on the guy, making fun of his little Cupidy bow and telling him to take a frickin' rifle." To which I say, "See here, in this roast? The bullet hole?" Nuff said.

I realize this post is somewhat rambling. Blame the swine.

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