Thursday, October 11, 2012

Harry before the dentist


I've been taking a memoir class at the community college and today there was an assignment to write a scene around a vintage photograph. Even though memoir is supposed to be real, this was a fiction exercise and I had the greatest time writing it. 

I shared it with a friend and she found it disturbing. That describes pretty much every attempt I've made at real fiction. Guess that just means I have a style. 

So, here goes...
Momma told me this would happen if I didn’t take care of my teeth.  I was supposed to clean them before bed, but I was always so tired after feeding and watering the animals and then I was supposed to do some reading too, I just always fell asleep. But she was always saying things like, “How you gonna eat when yer old if you got no teeth? Yer just gonna waste away on soup and overcooked noodles.”
Thing is, washing my teeth probably wouldn’t have made that big a difference since it was a donkey kick that smashed my mouth up anyway. Stupid ass was limping around in the garden, and momma sent me out to check its feet. I got a real good look at the nail stuck in the shit in his hoof as the whole thing came straight at my face, but for all I care it can stay in there cuz I ain’t never going near it again.
I ran back inside, trying to hold my teeth in my mouth and blood was pouring out everywhere. I choking too much to scream about it, plus being 13, I was too old to bawl over getting kicked in the face. Whatever water might have come pouring out my eyes was just invul… involute…  a natural reaction. You try getting kicked in the face, and see how you feel.
In the kitchen, Momma was at the sink doing the dishes but she turned round when I came in.
“Harry Lawrence! What the hell…  yer bleeding all over my floor. Here. ” She tossed me a kitchen rag. “Stick that in yer mouth, and get back outside.”
                  I could hear her digging round inside the house, and then she came out with her Sunday hat and second best coat and told me to get in the truck. We drove into town and I held that rag in my mouth. I tried chewing it a little, to test the damage, and I felt the front teeth just fold over on themselves. That’s a feeling you can’t even imagine until it happens, and trust me, you don’t ever want to know it.
                  Momma stopped the truck outside the doctor’s office and dragged me by an elbow in the front door. The nurse at the table stood up when she saw the blood, and looked at my momma with her eyebrows pushed up to her hairline.
                  “Fool boy’s got himself kicked by a donkey. We’ll be lucky if there’s any teeth left in there.”
                  The nurse put me in a chair in a little room, wrapped me up in a sheet like I was at a barber shop and told momma to fetch the doc. I hoped she would take her time. I didn’t like the doctor cuz he always made fun of my face.   The nurse pulled the rag out of my mouth and sprayed my mouth with water so cold it burned.  Finally, the doc came in carrying a black box and chatting with my momma.
                  “Yes ma’am, and I do the processing myself. Got a little darkroom out the back. “
                  “Well, doc,” said my momma, “that’s very interesting. Harry’s never got his photograph took before.”
                  “Let’s see the damage then,” he said, finally looking at me. “Hoo boy. We’re gonna have to winch those lips open to really see what’s going on in there.” He reached in a drawer and pulled out two giant spoons with their middles folded back.
                  “Lean back, Harry.” He said as he handed the black box to the nurse. “I’m just gonna open his mouth up, and then you press the button.” The doc stuck one of those spoon things in the side of my mouth, and I had another natural reaction. He reached round the back of my head and jammed the other spoon in the other side of my mouth and I squawked again.  I could hear his watch ticking away by my ear.
“Hang on a second, doc,” My momma reached in and smoothed my hair. “Ok. Now.”
                  The doc pulled on the spoons, tugging the mouth open wide. “Smile for the camera, Freckle-face.”
                  What an asshole. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

In which I mention the dog(s)

Tonight I am dog-sitting for my parents. They are going away for a few days next month, and I will be watching Milo. He’s staying here tonight so that I can see whether he will be able to stay here, or if Bella and I will have to go stay at my parents’ house.

I can tell you right now that he's not staying here again.

Maybe it’s not fair to judge him on his first time here. He’s out of his comfort zone. I'm okay with the rough-housing with Bella. I can put up with the pacing, and his neurotic need to jump up to look out every single window. Bella did that too when we first moved in. 

But Bella didn’t pee on my bed.

Not 30 seconds into his visit, he lifted his leg and sprayed my 650 thread-count duvet cover. I bought it in an impulsive moment online before I moved in, before I blew through half my savings, and realized I needed to furnish this new life with furniture from Craigslist and table cloths from Goodwill. 

The thing is, between working full-time and hanging out with my family and friends, most of the time I spend in this new house is in that bed. And it’s damn comfortable. The sheets are just as thread-county (and expensive) as the cover on the down comforter. It’s like sleeping in a cloud, if clouds were warm and dry instead of cold and wet.

Thanks to Milo, it is still like sleeping in a cloud. But only if clouds were made of pee.

My back yard has also received a thorough soaking, but I expected that. Milo is a natural outdoorsdog. He bounded through the ivy and the pine needles and scaled the boulders. 

Milo, ever-vigilant, guards the house from cats. Bella guards it from sticks.

Although he's a total klutz indoors, outside he has an elegant grace which only augments the complete clumsiness of Miss Bella, who gets tangled in the ivy and slips in the pine needles. Today she tried to jump from one small rock to another and completely lost her balance.  

Moments after this photo was taken, she stood on the racquet and it flew up, rake-like, and smacked her in the face. 

I'm glad they both enjoy the yard so much - it is a big part of the appeal of this property. I walk the fence daily to make sure there are no signs of digging, and everywhere there are signs that it will be a beautiful spring. Already there is more green than I ever thought capable in this arid, high desert prairie. But my new house is near the forest. I am surrounded by trees much taller than the house. Most of the trees are pine, and never completely drop their needles. But there are plenty of leaf-less trees to hint of even denser foliage to come, and relief from the relentless summer sun. 

No sun tonight though.

Monday, February 27, 2012

What makes a house a home.

I’m alone tonight, in my little cottage. Bella is spending the night with my parents because I have to be at work tomorrow at 7, and because I’m supposed to spend the day driving to a few of the more remote areas of the county. With all that driving, I won't feel like getting up 45 minutes early to drop the dog off before work.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

The yard is fenced. I did that with my dad. He manned a sledgehammer and pounded in the stakes. I bought a staple gun, and a neighbor donated the no-climb wire. We only had about 15 feet to cover, and now Bella has a big back yard all to herself (although possibly shared with a skunk). 

So, yeah. There’s a fence. But there’s also the barking. And I don’t know if she barks only when she knows I’m inside or if she continues after I leave. I don’t know because I haven’t left her yet, but really, how do you find out the answer to that question? People offer advice – about voice-activated recorders, motion sensors and nanny cams. All expensive experiments, when I could just park down the street with the windows open, just like Animal Control does when investigating reports of a nuisance dog.

I’ve received plenty of advice on the Dog Alone in the New House Problem (and I'm definitely not looking for any more). But the solutions I’ve been offered vary and often seem impractical or cruel or… I’m just not there yet.  Solutions like a crate, shock collar, and training -- the ever-elusive training. The dog sits on command, she lies down, she can shake hands, and occasionally she stays. Yes, barking is still a problem. So is jumping. So is helping herself to a snack from the fridge.  We’re working on it. 
* * *
I actually intended this entry to be about something else. Today I moved my books and journals from the office in my parents shed.  It was a giant pain, and I regretted not being more organized on the day I moved the furniture, because then I would have had help with the 50 billion boxes of books instead of moving them today all by myself.

Anyway, they’re mostly unpacked. By which I mean, they are out of my car. Some of them are on the bookshelves. There’s still a lot to sort through, but I’m working on it. The thing is, I thought when I brought over the books, and especially once I unpacked the journals – I thought that would mean I was finally home. I thought it would feel less like I was house-sitting and more like my own place. But when I went to get the books, I left Bella behind for the night.  And as much trouble as she causes, it doesn’t feel like home without her snoring  in the corner. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Cottage

DISCLAIMER: This entry has nothing to do with reading, writing, reference or librarianship... it's just the only place I could think of where I could easily display these pictures. 

We have previously established that I am no longer unemployed. Consequently, I am also no longer living with my parents. I decided, when I moved into this new place, that I would paint the entire house.  It's a very small house, more like a cottage, but still I underestimated the amount of work it would take (I am not finished actually, but I'm as done as I'm going to be for awhile). I also did not anticipate that I would change my mind about the color, repaint half the house, change my mind again, have a complete freak-out breakdown, and then decide I was okay with the new color after all. Fortunately, there was no photographer present for the middle part, so the screaming and crying went undocumented. 

It goes without saying that I couldn't have done this without the help of some very good friends -- as well as my parents, and of course, my cousins who own the house. All photo credits go to my friend Cassie -- who also did more than her share of painting. 

This is the front door, and the alcove which is part of the living room.
This is the color green I thought was going to be Sage, but came out Neon Lime.

It's hard to tell from the picture, but believe me -- the greens are very different.

This is the dining area, and kitchen. And the heater in the floor.
The dining area now.
The Kitchen, before.
The Kitchen, after. I only have 3 spices in that spice rack -- salt, pepper and cumin.
Here we see Bella staring fixedly at the fridge, which she has learned to open.

The bedroom, before. I didn't think the bed would fit...
But it did.

Evidence that I did some work. This part was unpleasant. 

Evidence that I had help. Also, this is the office -- before.
The office after. Those are only a fraction of my books.
The Occupants.

 We are settling in, the dog and I. It's definitely been an adjustment. Bella is not a fan of the heater in the floor, nor the noises it makes. I am not a fan of her opening the fridge for a snack at 3 AM. Living downtown is great though -- and I see more of my friends now that I'm more conveniently located. I have met several of the neighbors, and even helped one catch a rooster which had escaped its pen. That was not an experience I expected to have in this (sort-of) urban setting. 

Anyway, there you go -- my new place. In the picture above, I am sitting on a futon. That's where the guests will stay -- though you may have to share it with Bella.