New Baby Nugget (Or I RESCUED!)

So… I have news… belated news, but news nonetheless.

Albus and I have a new baby dog buddy.

Hes’s super skinny…

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and he likes to sleep on Uggs.

See, three weeks ago Malibu and Ventura County were ON FIRE. I was sitting on my couch watching college football while looking at images of the devastation of the Woolsey fire, and I wanted to do something. The air outside my place was hazy and full of smoke. I couldn’t get the suffering animals out of my head. There were photos of horses dangerously close to the lapping flames, evacuated goats on the beach, the Malibu Wines giraffe was left in harm’s way….

I knew there were so many animals I couldn’t save, but I wanted to do SOMETHING.

On an impulse I couldn’t quite place, I googled “Ventura County Shelter.”

On the first page of their site, I saw the image of an emaciated Boxer. He had been surrendered that very day. I said a prayer asking God to open the door if it was in his will for him to be mine and to close it if it wasn’t right.

The freeway to Ventura County was closed because of the fires but I found backroads to lead me there.

I set out to meet the sweet dog called “Snoopy.”

The voice of Jim Dale reading “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” on audiobook soothed me as I drove past plumes of stifling smoke as well as green fields yet untouched by the fire’s destructive appetite.

I arrived at the shelter only to be told they were closed for adoptions because of the fire. They told me to come back the following day at 1 pm. They said he had stomach issues and they were a factor in his surrender.

Never one to give up, I showed up the next day, right on time. I had traversed the same backroads again, as the fires were still raging and conventional routes were unavailable.

When I arrived they told me they were still closed for adoptions. I offered another silent prayer. I reminded the volunteers they had told me to come today — at this time. I also said I couldn’t come again tomorrow because I had to work.

They consulted with one another and agreed to let me meet him. Again, they reminded me of his stomach issues. (Stomach, whatever. I didn’t care.)

I had chicken in my purse (it’s bland for stomach issues) in anticipation of meeting the little man.

They set him loose in the enclosure and I asked him to sit. He obliged immediately. I offered him a bit of chicken. Ravenous, he took the chicken so aggressively it seemed like he might take the tips of my fingers off.

I told them I wanted him — stomach problems and all.

They agreed to let me take him home for a mere $65.

$65 to save a life.

I would have paid so much more than that.

There’s so much more I want to say about him and his integration into my home, but I’ll save that for another post. For now I’ll just say, I love him.

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You’re HOME, George Joseph!

Your brother and I LOVE you!

More on the origin of his name later….

 

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Bobby’s Birthday (Or I make another gift basket)

My friend Rob’s birthday was yesterday, so I set out to make it special. I conspired with his girlfriend, Mary, to make sure I picked up all of his favorite movie theater candy, and the boys chipped in as well — including Albus.

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He picked out the golf balls at Dick’s.

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There were a lot of options. 

I wanted to package the goodies in a practical way, so I picked up a collapsable organizer from Marshall’s.

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Here’s the pre-assembly situation.

I put a bow on the bag because everything is better with bows — even gifts for boys. (I think I’ve said that before, but you can never say it too many times.)

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Every item in here has a story, naturally.

For example, Rob loves sloths, so I bought one for him. I used my glue gun to put the AMC gift card in his hot little sloth hand. The weird man ballerina box contains Australian sour gummies. I made the Twinkle Toes sign because Tim calls everyone Twinkle Toes, and he was one of the boys who chipped in for the gift. (Matt was the other.)

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It seemed like the right thing to do.

Tim, Rob, Matt, and I are all dog people, so a card mocking a cat seemed like the right choice.

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Larry, Daryl, and Anita are our aliases.

Basically, we think they’re terrible names, so we call each other by them as a form of demented endearment.

Okay, that’s all for now. I’m blasting some Danzig and breaking out my book outline.

Bye!

Bubbas and Baby Nuggets (Or New Baby Gift Baskets)

I’m writing again — and not just on my blog. I’m back to figuring out the story points of my novel. Outlining is the tedious, necessary part I don’t always love, but you can’t build a house without a floorpan any more than you can write a decent story without figuring out its structure first.

So there’s that….

There’s also this:

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The Bubba made a gift basket for his Auntie Nicole.

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Okay, I did most of the work.

He doesn’t have opposable thumbs after all.

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But he took most of the credit.

(Like boys do.)

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In his defense, he did help with the clean up… of chicken scraps on the floor.

He excels at eating meat off of all surfaces (even linoleum).

Wanna see why he we made the basket?

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Because Albus has a new nugget of a cousin.

She is divine.

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And I got to hold her.

Because new moms have their hands full with breastfeeding, diaper changes, and watching nuggets sleep, I figured I should feed Nicole.

I made two kinds of tuna salad, a chicken salad, pasta bolognese, and buckeyes. (I don’t approve of anything that could be construed as pro-Ohio — particularly when I’m making a gift basket for a fellow Michigan alum, but peanut butter is just meant for chocolate — so I rationalized that Wolverines devouring Buckeyes is metaphorical… or something.)

Recipe links are here:

Green Goddess Tuna Salad (I omitted the tarragon because we don’t get along terribly well.)

Tuna and Artichoke Cooler Pressed Sandwiches (Meaghan and I used this recipe for Katy’s baby shower years ago. It’s divine.)

Pasta Bolognese (Full disclosure: I skipped the veal and used 3/4 lb of ground pork and 3/4 lb of ground beef because veal makes me cry — and because bolognese needs extra meat.)

Buckeyes (There are millions of variations of this recipe. The key is using some Crisco in the chocolate to help it melt evenly.)

I’ll do a proper post on the curry chicken salad another time, as it is my mummy’s recipe and can’t be found online.

Tim and I ate the rest of it for lunch on Monday. (It was a hit. #likeduh)

Now, it’s time to get back to my outlining. (Barf)

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The Women’s March (Or Humankind Needs a Hug)

Today was the Women’s March. I didn’t march… again.

I didn’t spend the day speaking for all women alive.

I spent the day taking care of this woman — the one who needed to deposit money into her account so her checks wouldn’t bounce, the one who needed to call her cable company and fix her DVR so it would function properly and actually record programs while she was at work, and the one who needed to turn off the music, silence the world, and just listen to her baby breathe.

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So what if her baby is a 73 pound beast with bad breath?

He is still her baby.

I am that woman. I am the one who needs to take time to write, to cook, and to handle her business.

I am also the one who needs to embrace love and sadness.

Reading the story today about Tyler Hilinski’s suicide (the Washington State Quarterback) brought a flood of emotions about Phil that needed to be felt in the few hours available before I go to work tonight.

What good would I be to womenkind if I didn’t embrace my own needs as a woman today?

Sure, these all sound like excuses and they probably are, but whatever. I accept that.

We are all doing the best we can most of the time — men and women alike.

I’m ALL for the #metoo movement. I’m ALL for women speaking up and telling their stories — as raw and painful as they are. But I’m all for men telling their stories too — I’m all for men embracing their pain and their emotions… before they pull the trigger.

The human experience: male AND female is painful. Being alive exposes us ALL to unimaginable pain, and I want to give the WORLD a hug today.

I’ll probably settle for hugging my dog, but that’s a good start.

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He gives the best hugs… when he’s not sleeping.

XOXO,

I love you ALL.

Sad Sushi and Book Recs (Or Random Procrastination)

I have a confession: SugarFish has basically ruined all other raw fish for me. Today I thought I’d make a feeble attempt at frugality, so I walked to the Sushi Stop up the street for lunch instead. I saved myself a sad $18 and ended up with salmon I wanted to feed to the dog because it just wasn’t on a bed of warm, sticky rice.

Albus will now have albacore for dinner because I just couldn’t choke that down…

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And because I love the goofy bastard more than I love people.

He really is, like, literally a bastard. He doesn’t actually have a daddy — a truth that troubles my grandmother during the rare, lucid moments when she remembers who I am.

She recently asked me no less than four times in the span of a 15 minute conversation if I had a boyfriend. Each time I simply answered, “no,” while my aunt sniped at her in the background a) for repeating herself, and b) for caring more about my relationship status than my career. My grandma finally said, “Hedy said I asked you that question five times.”

“It was four. Tell her she can’t count.”

We are not nice people.

I don’t mean to mock dementia because it’s awful watching the woman who used to send you care packages full of homemade cookies forget how to turn on her stove, but if I’m being honest I must admit we ALL feel like we’re losing our minds with the situation. It’s hard on everyone — including her.

The whole thing has given me an idea for a novel, though, so I’m starting to outline the story beats.

I have procrastinated by reading other people’s books long enough. It’s time to try to write my own.

But before I do that, here’s one last ditch effort at procrastination:

A short list of the best books I’ve read recently while not writing my own stuff.

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter – This book is super disturbing and you may not want to be my friend any more after you read it, but I promise you won’t be able to put it down. I finished it in 24 hours.

The Book of Polly by Kathy Hepinstall – This is one of most delightful books I’ve read in absolutely forever. I devoured it in four days and was devastated when it ended. It’s impossible not to fall in love with Polly. The woman shoots blanks at squirrels, doesn’t understand why her daughter’s Jesus doesn’t let her drink margaritas, and brings a falcon to a parent-teacher conference. I want to be Polly when I grow up.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty – This is not to be confused with Still Alice, which I can’t bring myself to read because of the whole-my-Grandma-doesn’t-know-who-I-am-thing. Coincidentally, it also deals with memory loss, but in a charming, Moriarty kind of way that leads to love and stuff.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty – Yes, Liane again. This woman can write. Trust.

And now I really will work on my outline because I’m not trying to wait tables for the rest of my life.

Also?

I need to make more money so I don’t have to make any more sacrifices that involve cold sushi rice.

Marriage, Madeleine Ferguson, and the State of the Mirror (Or Things Delayed)

Today I could, or rather, should do seven loads of laundry and seek intervention in the form of a pedicure. I’ve opted to read my new book and watch my dog sleep instead.

I’m ambitious like that.

Honestly, I worked six days last week, today is my one day off before it starts all over again, and I just don’t want to be productive.

Besides, I hung my own mirror this weekend.

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What more do you want from me?

The man who was supposed to do it for me is in Minnesota… perhaps permanently and I’m mad at him for as many reasons as that state has lakes.

In truth, I never really needed his help.

I was merely trying to make him feel useful when I asked him to do it for me, and if I’m being REALLY honest that was sort of a crappy move on my part, but I needed to know if he would do what he said he would, and he didn’t.

I wanted to give him a chance to show me who he was. And he did. In more ways than one. (It wasn’t just the mirror.)

As I recounted the story to my friend Mike on a recent phone call, I told him it was imperative that I could count on someone.”Yes,” he agreed, “because they can count on you.” #aww

That’s the beautiful thing about friends.

They know you. They see you.

They know who you are. They’ve walked with you through so many seasons of your life that you show yourselves to one another again and again, sometimes without even meaning to do so.

I find it hard to replicate this while dating, everyone on their best behavior at dinner, struggling to be mysterious or romantic or whatever. It just doesn’t feel like real life.

Real life, to me, involves situations like: Can we hang my faux deer head without killing each other even though we’re both covered in the gum we accidentally melted with the hairdryer? (Obviously that example is too specific to be fictional.)

My parents practically filed for divorce every time they put up wallpaper or got in a car to go anywhere that involved a map, so I’m not trying to subject any future hypothetical children to that noise.

I’m not saying I have anything against dinner (I’m actually quite fond of it), but I guess what I’m saying is: the other stuff matters more to me.

I started this post for another purpose, and now it has become this.

Oh well.

Like the laundry that should be thrown into the machine and the nails that should be filed and polished, those words and that purpose will be delayed another day.

Now I’m going to straighten the art my dog decided to rearrange last night and go back to my book.

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Apparently he has a problem with Laura Palmer, Madeleine Ferguson, and all things Twin Peaks.

I, have a problem with my couch.

I almost can’t even look at that wretched thing.

Send help.

I Miss College (Or I Sound Like an @$$#%!* Post)

If I’m being honest with myself, I’ll admit that adulthood has been a colossal letdown. No part of my adult life has lived up to the promise/greatness of college.

Sure, it’s nice to have your company pay for your sushi and your room at the Four Seasons, but I miss the days when my only responsibilities involved learning new things and, on occasion, laundry.

If I’m being really honest I rarely did laundry back then….

I usually brought it home to my parents who missed me so much they took care of it without question — even when I was in grad school.

I realize it’s ridiculous I flew 3,000 miles across the country with a suitcase full of dirty clothes, but my parents needed to feel needed. (Or something.)

I had a chef and a cleaning lady in college (thank you Pi Beta Phi), and now I handle most of that business for myself.

It’s a bummer.

Well, actually, I love cooking so I don’t mind THAT part, but the cleaning could definitely disappear and I wouldn’t be devastated.

I DO miss the not learning part of college, though, desperately.

Living in LA, I fear my brain is atrophying at an alarming rate.

I try to read books and listen to NPR regularly, but even that isn’t as awesome as staying up until 3 am writing a paper on postmodernism because I need intellectual masturbation like my dog needs chicken.

Even though I’ve become proficient at laundry, I still miss the safe womb of college. I miss looking at a catalogue of courses filled with possibilities. I miss cramming for finals, and I miss 4 am dill pickle deliveries.

Somewhere in this sad lament I should probably give you a recipe or tell you about the amazing DIY Halloween decorations I found on Pinterest, but I’m not sure I can. The best I can do is show you this…

it’s a picture of my dog.

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He is the only thing that makes adulthood acceptable. 

The truth is: I could have had a dog in college, though, so that brings me right back to… missing college.