Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hello. Allow Me to Introduce Myself

I've been out of pocket, failing at my Lenten promise for days because I got involved in starting my own social media factory for Love Sick.  It meant combining two sitting duck Twitter accounts which were linked to email addresses I no longer had passwords for, then re-following followers who are still active and tracking down new people to follow.  It has wholly absorbed me from Saturday afternoon to yesterday, leaving me sore and wondering if I was going to throw a clot from sitting in the same position for twelve hours at a stretch.

So I'm sorry, guys, and I'm sorry, Jesus, if you're there.

I'll Tweet this post so I think it's time to introduce myself in more than 160 characters.

I was born, raised and earned BAs in English and religious studies in Missoula, Montana.  I went to Catholic school -- St. Anthony's -- so I have a thing about nuns, shame and plaid.  Lately I've had a lot of spring hymns running through my mind.

I went to graduate school in creative writing at Cornell.  Several famous writers were in my cohort.  We were best friends.  We are not friends any more.

I've had a long life of obesity.  In a 12-step program I lost 188 pounds and wrote a book that did well: Passing for Thin.

Then I gained a bunch back and wrote a book that was calledAngry Fat Girls in hardcover, promptly remainedered, and Eating Ice Cream with My Dog in paperback.  Please buy it because I have $95,000 of the advance yet to earn out.

When you have that much unearned advance you are lucky to get another book deal, even at a serious reduction in advance.  That book, Love Sick, publishes this June 6.  It's a funny, harrowing story of trying to get over Mr. Friends with Benefits.  I have and haven't succeeded in doing that.

In between Cornell and Passing for Thin I was a literary agent.  I wasn't very good because I was cautious about advances that wouldn't earn out.  I didn't listen to my own lesson.  Also, my bosses and I were at loggerheads all of the time.

You'll learn a lot about me if you read those three books.  Right now, I'm beginning work on a proposal about saying the rosary for a year.   I'm not a good Catholic but it's the only thing that sticks.   Why would I do such a project?  Because I live in despair, which is a sin, and because I have few trustworthy relationships.  I'd like to build one with, um, God.

So here's what you really need to know about me:

  1. I walk some dogs and do social media for some people.
  2. I suffer from dysthemic depression, anxiety and borderline agoraphobia.
  3. I don't believe in heaven but I do believe in hell.
  4. I am left of left politically.  I have insurance because of Barack Obama.  Thank you, Barack.
  5. I grew up with Labradors.  Now I am owned by one, Daisy.  She has Tourette's Syndrome and Joan Rivers-envy and can be a real asshole.  She's my best friend and has saved my life.
  6. I live in the crappy studio apartment with no natural light.  I call it the Bat Cave.
  7. I'm a Daddy's Girl.  My father is 96, in his right mind mostly, still interested in physics, blind, blunt and hilarious.
  8. I'm really fat.  I hate it.  I think I need to make peace with it because it is the metaphor, as it were, for hating my self.  And I don't deserve to hate my self.
  9. My self is slothful, envious, angry, without much hope.  My self is funny, smart, sees things and has a big vocabulary.  It is generous.
  10. I like Bach best.
  11. I like Victorian novels, World War II, anything about the Renaissance, 18th and 19th century Europe.
  12. I'm a terrible housekeeper and I am owned by too many things.
  13. Lately I'm obsessed by House, M.D.
  14. I'm lonely.
  15. I don't bathe as much as I should.
  16. I'm trying to pay off what started out as about $28,000 in debt.  I've cut that by about half.
  17. I hold grudges.  I don't get over men I've loved.  Menopause and Prozac prevent me from being very interested in intimacy however.
  18. I spent summers, until nine years ago, on Flathead Lake in Montana.  I'm afraid to go back there because it was the best place.
  19. If I had lots of money I would travel.  By myself.  I don't like museums.
  20. I'm also afraid of my hometown.  All the bodies are buried there.
  21. I miss my mom, my Uncles Norbie and Connie and my Aunt Claire.  A lot.
  22. I'm adopted.  This is a complex and icky way to start life.
  23. I'm nostalgic for large parts of my childhood.
  24. I have never read Finnegan's Wake.  I've never finished Moby Dick, Ulysses.  I like Tolstoy better than Dostoevsky.  I get frustrated reading Yeats, Shelley, Pound.  I don't understand a word of it.
  25. I used to feel that way about Emily Dickinson, but I grew into her.  That doesn't mean I read her though.
  26. I don't watch TV except for occasional reality TV binges when I'm really sick or really depressed.
  27. I don't know what Mad Men, Game of Thrones or any other cool TV is.
  28. I make annual donations to Planned Parenthood, Macular Degeneration, University of Montana, Spirit Animal, Democratic party, public radio and television.
  29. I miss the friends I've alienated.  Every day and achingly.
  30. I'm probably as close to my cousins as I am to my sibling.
  31. I'm tired of New York.
  32. I'm scared of when Daisy will die.
  33. I've been living on peanut butter and macaroni and cheese because it's cheap and because I need to get my kitchen sink fixed.
  34. I'm in trouble for not having cleaned out the washer and dryer well enough and leaving dog hair behind.
  35. I'm 57.  I smoke.
  36. I think I will not smoke from tonight until Sunday morning, in observance of the arrest - resurrection of the Christ I don't like very much.
  37. Blogging gets me in trouble at least once a year.  It happened recently.  And yes, I know it was you who left the nasty anonymous comment.  And I know you are at the heart of the snarl.
  38. There are Rules of Etiquette for walking dogs.  They involve crossing the street when one person has one dog and the other two or more, letting dogs decide who they want to meet and not bothering dog walkers.  I wish these rules were observed, as well as cleaning up dog shit.
  39. I intensely dislike 98% of the privileged spoiled princes and princesses and their mothers and nannies in this neighborhood.  Sometimes I hope they would get hit by cars.
  40. I am passive aggressive in the streets.
  41. I am nice to doormen, clerks, cab drivers, maintenance people.
  42. If I have money and you need money, I will give it to you.
  43. All I really ever want to do is go back to bed and hide.
  44. I speak really bad Italian and German, and worse French.  I'm better when I'm drunk but I don't drink much any more.
  45. You'd probably like me if we met.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Poopy Barbie and Special Intentions

I did a radical thing today: I fulfilled my self-promise to go to Mass and the rosary at 8 a.m. this morning.  By myself.  Too early for drugs.  Sober.

It was nice, especially because Saturday morning is so sparsely attended that Fr. King asked if there were additional special intentions.  Without thinking, I asked for prayers for the painless peaceful deaths of those awaiting death.  Right now I am several degrees removed from three hospice situations, one of which is someone I know.  I hate the idea of the pain these men are suffering, and of the suffering their loved ones feel because of it. 

And saying the rosary out loud -- !  I don't think I've said the rosary with people since grade school.  It's a somewhat more elaborate rosary than the script I use, with prayers for vocations, to St. Michael, St. Gertrude and the long litany it would be dumb to say alone.  The voices together felt strong.  On the other hand, my script breaks each mystery down and I read and meditate on it in a way that is intellectually more satisfying than the group's nominal attention to the mysteries.  But there is something comforting and distinctly NON-intellectual about saying it as a group that is also good.

I had a credit for books from Amazon and ordered a couple of research items.  They arrived in good time but, not needing the books immediately, I didn't open them.  I was astonished when I did because one was a gift from someone I really don't know well, Poopy Barbie. 
OK, the real name is Barbie Potty Training but I like Poopy Barbie better.

I've been fighting the blues -- am fighting them -- taking one step back for every two steps forward (after church I collapsed into House, natürlich, and rose from my non-life only to walk Daisy, which ended up being a social event because everyone is out on the lovely day.  Poopy Barbie dropped into my life like a feather from an angel wing -- or, more aptly, a feather from Divine's boa.

So thank you Divine/Angel.  Barbie is not going to be unboxed but she stands guard at the foot of my bed.  And I feel like somehow I belong to something, although I'm not sure what.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Goodbye, Slate

I couldn't stand the obsessing any more. I borrowed $150 from my dream stash and paid off my Slate card today. I'd showered in the morning but felt like I'd run five miles by the time I got back from the bank.

I also discovered I paid my New York State taxes twice. It will take sixty - ninety days to refund the second check.

All the elevators were wonky today. It took forever to pick up and drop off dogs.

I made dinner tonight and it was bloody awful.

One of my clients had a realtor's brochure on the kitchen counter.

Another of my clients is in hospice out of state. One of my very favorite people in Brooklyn with the most marvelous stories. I pray he is not in pain and I mourn not being able to say goodbye, although I sort of did in a short visit when he was here last month.

I have a bad feeling about everything but I'm going to try to go to Mass in the morning. It's followed by a rosary. "Reconciliation" is going on all afternoon -- the sacrament I still call confession. I should go but I don't where to begin. I wish we'd have a big thunder storm.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Yellow Dog vs. Black Dog

I binged last night.  I took Daisy out well after sleeping meds had kicked in and the baked goods at Gristides all had my name on them.

I got up with heartburn and a limp will.  I had luckily already done a lot of my social media work for today so I asked a friend to take out my first dog and went back to bed.  I woke at 11.30, ashamed and defeated for the day.  Peeing felt like an impossible task.  I had no idea how I would get through the day I was obligated to let alone had made promises to.

But I did, somehow, at least as far as the obligations went.  I have a load of laundry going, so I will have fulfilled one part of a promise to myself.  I'm in a bleak mood.  I haven't said the rosary in days although I've managed to keep up the blog of my Lenten obligation.  I've jollied myself through weeks of financial fear and trying to write and trying to be upbeat here wherever I could fake it and I'm fucking exhausted with it.  The cool sunny spring day mocked me.  Wherever I went, my nemesis seemed to be a half a block away.  It's left me feeling angry, resentful, scared, ashamed, slothful, disgusting, unworthy, failed and afraid I'm heading for the dark place.

I could whine some more but I need to thank Daisy.  She slept soundly until I staggered from bed, had some coffee and brushed my teeth and got dressed.  It was closer to noon when I finally gave her her first walk.  She's an amazing nurse and seemed to know she had to suck it up this morning while I had my breakdown.

A friend recent got a CPAP machine for sleep apnea.  It made me wonder: does Daisy stand growling softly at me in the middle of the night because she's a pill, an attention-hog or because I've stopped breathing?  This behavior has been going on for a year or two -- she growls, I wake up and invite her into bed, and she settles down quickly.  It can happen three times a night.  I sleep on a futon on the floor.  There's no reason for her to do this unless she needs love or needs to know I'm alive.

When I had the flu in February, she slept so close to me I didn't have access to the blankets.  Who takes care of whom here?

In any case, I came in from my few dog walks, did a little work for the Other Side of My Life, and crawled back into bed until it was time to walk and feed her.  And yes, we crossed paths with someone I would rather not have seen.  I think there are three people in this neighborhood I feel that way about, so my sadness and uglier emotions are on high tonight.

I really want this other social media thing to come through.  I want to pay my debts.  I can't bargain with God for it, as I've written before, because my faith is too weak to survive the disappointment.  But I have promised that if it happens, I'll take a Tae Kwon Do class and go to the rosary at the church on Saturday morning.  I won't let a deeper submersion in working from home an excuse to retreat further from the world.

I'll even get Daisy to the dog run, where she can best be herself after being so good to me.

And for now, a load of laundry -- enough for clean pants and underwear -- is in the dryer and I have time to say the rosary.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014


Today was scary.  I had to walk to dogs who have moved down to the Brooklyn Waterfront, where I have managed never to go, who live in a new and complicated building.  Knowing I then had to go walk Donald, an 18-month-old Lab/Great White Pyrenees who is aggressively friendly, I took a Klonopin to deal with my fear of leaving my narrow safety zone, a new place and a dog who can drag one across three states in search of a butter-stained napkin or friendly teenager.  The pill didn't seem to kick in until after the walks however and the afternoon was lethargic as a result.

I love going new places, once I'm there.  The waterfront walk introduced me to a building, once a Jehovah's Witness warehouse, that is now uber-luxurious.  Gyms on every floor.  A concierge desk for laundry and dry cleaning.  The halls feel like hotels.  In the lobby, a mother was giving her toddler a bottle while her tablet played "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands".  Incessantly.  On my way in on my way out with the dogs, on our way in, on my way up to the hill.  Lots of kids in that building, I think: there are two brand new colorful crowded playgrounds for the very young just up the walkway from the building.

The view of Manhattan at East River level was amazing; the view up Brooklyn Heights up the hill was fascinating.  It was a long expedition to make $20, but I've got to take Daisy down there.

Tomorrow is domestic.  Laundry, clean the bathroom, fool around with the Liquid Plumber and, especially, the plastic snake that came with it.
I'd like to have a kitchen again.  I'm tired of living on peanut butter.

None of these things will help clean out the chaos but I'll at least know there are some clean places in my apartment.  I'm broke enough that I jokingly asked my father if he'd buy me a new PC.  He said yes and none too soon: I'm working on Windows XP here and I want to take some theology courses from Notre Dame which require a microphone.  This will mean clearing off my desk and cleaning under and around it, so I have another cleaning project to come up.

All of this is good.  I was able to look up a few questions inspired by the rosary: what exactly is the "rapture of divine love," for instance.  That means I did something toward the proposal and/or book.  I've hit the heavy slogging through my friend's book, which is invaluable information: I know where the problems are.

Such are the small events of my life.  Twelve days of looking for something to say left.  I feel like I'm stretching but Klonopin may not help that -- I'm calm today.  I wonder what I missed by not having my usual crisis...

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

All About Me

Big Five Word Test Results
Extroversion (44%) moderately low which suggests you are reclusive, quiet, unassertive, and private.
Accommodation (70%) high which suggests you are overly kind natured, trusting, and helpful at the expense too often of your own individual development (martyr complex).
Orderliness (50%) medium which suggests you are moderately organized, structured, and self controlled while still remaining flexible, varied, and fun.
Emotional Stability (38%) moderately low which suggests you are worrying, insecure, emotional, and anxious.
Inquisitiveness (76%) high which suggests you are very intellectual, curious, imaginative but possibly not very practical.
Take Free Big Five Word Personality Test
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Monday, April 07, 2014

13 Days Until Easter

Yesterday was a day of rest.  No blog.  Not a lot of anything except digging into an editing project that will be quickly done, I think.

I'm not sure, but I think Sundays are not counted in the forty days of Lent, so I'll call it a draw.

Lassitude has set in, maybe sloth, probably acedia, which is the Latinate form of the Deadly Sin most commonly called sloth.  I read a few pages of Katherine Norris's memoir of the same same every once in a while but the book is so on the mark I have to put it down quickly.  Few other books have affected me that way.  The Noonday Demon, which I finally put out on the street yesterday for someone either stronger or equally hapless.  Naked Lunch made me dream in Naked Lunchese but with which I did not identify.  Now Acedia, which is very close to home.  On a good day I can make it to 7 pm before it sets in, on a bad day I can't make it past 10 a.m.  Acedia is sloth with despair mixed, or futurelessness.  A heavy dose of ennui.

A hairball of pointlessness.

Good thing I have this editing project.  A friend has interest from a literary agent and had very specific comments and questions.  I coached her through her response to the agency -- no, don't ask them questions about what they mean: if they wanted an open dialogue with you they would have signed you with the understanding that you'd revise, and yes, do tell them you'll turn it around in a month.  Having cut off her hopes that they'd coach her through, I then felt I had to read it so I could help.  It's a good book.  Very smart with some cliff-hangers.  But as always, I want to scream that the words just, very, all, so, then be banished from the written word.  If you've said your character is in Brussels two paragraphs ago, you don't need to name the city again for ages.

Free help to anyone who wants to at least know where to start cleaning up their prose.

So I'm doing that, and about to go walk a dog in the rain, oh joy.  What made me happiest yesterday was putting out a stack of books to give away and see them taken and reading my friend's novel.  Today I pulled more books to give away and read another 50 pages before going to House, my acedia stall.

I'm not worried at my mood but I'm disappointed in it.  I'd like to be on fire with writing and I'm not.  I also know that I'm not because I'm scared to death.  I wish I was the kind of person who could admit fear, admit to being frozen and go take a shower.

But I haven't even done that.