Chasing Larry Bird (the dog)

Of the several things I did today two were most frustrating and in a similar way.

First, a friend of mine, who I need a vacation from, has a puppy named after basketball great Larry Bird. Larry, the dog, not the bird, was picked out of a box at a grocery store in the Northeast. Well, Larry was cut at first like all puppies are. But now Larry is growing up, spends too many hours inside and has a ton of energy. I went over to see my friend and I let Larry slip out the front door. Well, it became my responsiblity to catch Larry before he ran across the street and got hit by a car. Cornered, the little fucker in my friend's backyard, but still he wouldn't let me catch him. I'd ask him, Please? I'd sit on the ground. I'd pretend that I wasn't paying attention. And I chased. I chased Larry the dog around bushes, through the garden around jungles of trees--this backyard is too big.

"Try giving him some food," my friend suggested through the window.
"OK, yeah, hand me some." Through the window he passed me a handful of dog food pellets.
"Remember, he may be faster than you, but you're smarter."

I tried this. And Larry seemed interested. When my cell phone rang, however, I dropped the pellets. Lost in conversation, Larry ate the pellets and I couldn't catch him.

"Oh, he's trying to pay tag or something," a man working next door said over the fence.

For thirty minutes it was my mission to catch this dog. I would be a terrible cowboy. How do dog catchers do this? When finally I sacrificed my knee tackled the pup and grabbling him by his loose fitting scruff. Fuck, I hate that dog.

I'm not a very good phone friend, but I began talking to a Denver friend on the way home from the bus stop.

"How ya doing?"
"What you been up to?"
"I'm not good, but not bad. I'm fine, too."

Things like this. We chase around the many points. She's looking for love. I'm looking for myself. She doesn't want to be alone. I think I need to be alone. She wants to know what love is. I think I know what it's not. She mentions a name I don't want to hear. Wants to know what I hear from her. Says we were good together and I say, yeah but it's over; we don't talk anymore. Questions arise as to what happened, and I want to know to; it's complicated, I say.

This friend of mine figures she needs someone. That she doesn't like to be by herself. But she needs to be by herself; help herself before anyone else can help her. And I learn a little from this as it comes out of my mouth. And when she says, but I'm not happy unless I'm with someone, I'm back in the backyard of my friend's house watching Larry the dog run circles around me. And I can't get 'em.

Cake fight evite

I didn’t do so well with my first evite. An evite, for those unaware, is an online e-mail of which in the body is notification that someone has invited you somewhere. And to find out who and when and where all you need to do is click on a link which takes you the invitation.

I guess I lied when I said this was my first. A girl at school once sent out an evite to people in our work group about when she would be conducting a meeting. She was the host.

This host, this time (my second, I now admit), was another girl from school, one that I’m also working in a group with. A girl I just met. Her party was to be this afternoon and I clicked on the YES I’ll be there, and I was there, but not at the right time due to a number of errors that I’ll describe here for you.

This girl. Her name isn’t important to this story, but what you need to know is that she is good looking. When grouped with her, I thanked my teacher under my breath. She shared ideas and I love her dark, sometimes sarcastic humor. She's funny and when we made eye contact there seemed to be chemistry.

I’ve been wrong in chemistry before. My high school chemistry teacher, Mr. Meharg, gave me a C. One day in class I electrocuted myself in the back of the room. During one of his lectures I stuck a ball point pen into an open socket and was shocked. I think I've grown a lot since then. I’ve gotten better about realizing when a girl likes me, when I like her. When there is what in chemistry is called mutual attraction. I’m getting better.

Or so I thought. I got an evite to this girl's birthday party. I clicked on the link. Saw she was the host. Saw that deep in the northwest part of town, a neighborhood I used to live in, there would be a Birthday Cake Fight. RAIN OR SHINE, it said. This was how she wanted to spend her birthday. "Please bring a change of clothes (unless you want to get lick)," the evite said. "Following the fight, we will retire to my miniscule apartment to enjoy some fall-themed food while our cake-encrusted clothes go through the wash," I continue to quote the evite. "Gifts not necessary or expected. Cake for the fight will be provided, as will hot cider afterwards." Finally, an afterthought: "Please come, because my girlfriend is an easy target and she’s going to need some defense. ;)"

I read all this and clicked YES, hell yes I’ll be there. "I love cake," I write in the comment box, "and throwing stuff. I’ll do my best to be there."

Girlfriend can mean many things, I’ve come to terms with. Girlfriends: you can go shopping with them; they can help take care of your kids. Girlfriends are there for other girls to talk about boy problems. Go on walks and such. I’ve heard about girlfriends who are girls and friends. Then, I’ve also heard about girls who are more than friends—Gay until graduation. Now I’ve even heard about girls who lick frosting off one another following a cake fight.

I wanted to go. Damn, it sounded like fun. I was a little pissed that this girl had a girlfriend, but I put that disappointment aside when I pictured girls rubbing cake on one another. Fighting and fussing and flinging frosting on breasts, necks, and chests, I could already see it. I didn’t so much as want to fight myself (I'm a food lover), but I really wanted to try and make this. If they want to waste food, I can watch.

On normal circumstances my word is my bond. I didn’t want evite to be an exception. But errors were made.

I have this new roommate. His name isn’t important for the telling of this tale, either. He moved in yesterday and today I personally invited him to the cake fight. The first error: who was I to invite him to a party? I specifically clicked that I would be solo in attendance. But I wanted a crutch, needed one, now that I thought about it: lesbians, a whole crew of them, and me. I'd be caked. So he said he was interested, YES, he said. He said he’d be back by 4:00 and that we’d leave then to be there at 4:30, the time the evite said the cake fight began.

My phone’s incoming calls lists my new roommate calling at 4:16. He said he was on his way. Truthfully, I was on my way out the door. The thing about people is they are flaky. And late. And their word is not always their bond. He showed up, though, and we started driving. I knew we’d be late, but still I wanted to go. We made some wrong turns, went down some one ways that weren’t the right way. We missed some exits. We nearly died.

When we arrived at the park, at what I thought was a reasonable hour, five, I was thinking, 'they’re waiting.' I said I would be there, so how could they start the cake fight without me? Well, as we pull up to the park I noticed that clean-up was underway. The fight was over and I didn’t see licking, so we didn’t get out. We didn’t make it.

I didn’t know the first thing about cake fights before this week. But the most important thing I learned about them is, like any evite, when you say you are going to be there, you should be there on time.

get out the vote

Up ahead is a man on the sidewalk with a flashlight. He’s checking bushes, I think at first. I approach with my dog on leash and at a close distance.

"Irish Setter," he says as if I’ve asked him to guess the breed of dog.

"Hardly," I say. "She’s a mutt."

I notice he was flashing a clipboard and he says he’s trying to get out the vote. Heidi, my five year old mutt, jumps on him. He says not to worry, "Dogs love me. All dogs."

"I was a mailman," the dark-haired man of in his mid-thirties says. "Until the accident."

He doesn’t go into it and I don’t want to know what kind of accident. I want him to get out the vote. "What are you campaigning for."

"Forty one. You do you think about?"

It’s late in the campaign season and I should know this one by now, but there are a lot of forty measures and I’m not sure which it is. Taxes. But what? I’m not sure. My friend Nate is working on this one.

"No on 41, right?"

The man mentions something about some guy from New York and screwing over Oregon. I’m not sure that he knows what it means either. "Tell the truth. I’m a little disoriented." I believe him. Clean-shaved and white pants, the man was a little too eager to talk to me. "I’m from Bismarck, North Dakota. When I delivered mail there you could see house numbers." He flashes the his little red flashlight as Heidi is eating weeds growing out a crack in the sidewalk. He points the light to the house we're standing in front of, the one I originally suspected was his and that he was picking berries from the bushes. The light hits the two front windows, which are big and beside the front door. "You see any numbers here?"

"No, I don’t, but it doesn’t look like anyone’s home anyway," I hope because I don’t want them coming out and catching me with this disoriented man from North Dakota.

"This is the strangest neighborhood I’ve ever been in," which happens to be the Southeast neighborhood that I live in. "I don’t know why they put me in this blue collar neighborhood. I don’t even have three day growth on my face. I don’t listen to Billy Joel or whatever."

I don’t either, well, listen to Billy Joel.

"Would you think I’d go up or down? These number jump up in interval."

It’s dark and my eyes aren’t very good, and so I don’t bother to look at his clipboard, but I try to explain that because of the short blocks in Portland, yeah addresses do climb and I told him to go south if he wanted higher numbers.

"I pretty much ruined my brain with the vodka," he says. "And feel lost out here."

"Alright, man, well good luck," I suggest. And I feel sorry for him and don’t want to be him. He points he flashlight towards his face like I used to do at summer camp. The flashlight is under his chin and the light creates shadow from his crooked nose and his indented eyes.

"Hey," he says. "Do I look like Jack?"

"Jack?" I want to know.

"O Lantern."

"Oh, yeah," I laugh, "Kinda. I mean, with that light in your face."

And instead of continuing down SE 14th on the west side of the street, I cross--with Heidi--over and head east, up Ivon towards my house and away from the man now singing some tune I don’t recognize that’s stuck in his head.

I can’t read so I’ll write.

There’s got to be something on my mind because I can’t concentrate on the book that I’m reading. It’s for class so I have to read it. I don’t really want to but have to. I want to. Enjoy it, really. I just don’t want to now.

Now, I’m hoping that she’ll come through the door. I’m hoping she’ll walk right in. I know she won’t, but that’s my deepest thought. And that’s what’s keeping me from concentrating on the book in my hand, lying on my bed glancing at my closed door that won’t open because there is no one else in my house, though, that’s all I want right now.

I just took a bath. It was the first bath I’ve taken it in a hell of a long time. It was spur-of-the-moment.

Like I said, I can’t read right now. I was in bed and I wanted to sleep but I looked over at the clock and it read 8:30, and that’s too early to sleep so I decided to take a bath. Baths are really depressing for me, if you want to know the truth. They remind me of suicide. Blood. I tried to make it relaxing though. I poured myself a glass of red wine. I had already been drinking but thought that I needed to relax some more.

A bath just wasn’t enough, so I played some music.

For some reason I wanted the most depressing music I could think of. Elliot Smith came to mind, his CD that I wanted to listen to I couldn't because I left in Albuquerque the last time I visited. Inside its case was a cloudy CD I didn’t recognize at first, but then recognized as the Mountain Goats, a real depressing title called Tennessee. I thought I’d lost Tennessee but had just misplaced it inside a CD case of which CD was misplaced in another place, that I’ll talk about later.

I played one of his others, though, Elliot Smith’s. I played Figure Eight. And that CD is depressing as all hell, but it invokes the wrong kind of memories that I was going for. So, I pushed eject and flung the disc across the room – fuck it. I took the cloudy CD out of the Tennessee case and put the whole player, CD and all, into the bathroom with me. If suicide was what I decided, this would be easy. I was kidding myself. I really just wanted to relax. My back hurt for what ever fucking reason. I hadn’t been doing anything and maybe that was the problem. I hurt my back lifting boxes in the warehouse of Borders months ago. I went to physical therapy. Was put on muscle relaxers, and was told by my doctor to take it easy. I could never. Didn’t, and pushed myself until I ended up quitting the job. I did what I did until I didn’t want to do it any longer. Not until I couldn’t do it any longer. So, my back is hurting like hell today, it started yesterday actually, but today I had the house to myself and wanted to take a bath. I just couldn’t relax and that may have had something to do with the back pain. It did earlier in the month.

Earlier in the month I had this tension in my upper back. I was just starting school, had quit my job at Borders, was working for a newspaper, and was trying to figure out, again, who I was. Over the summer I had been dating a girl. I met her at a party and talked to her, briefly, before I had to leave with some friends who were visiting me. I got her number before I left, not knowing anything but her first and last name, her area code and her phone number. I did some investigating and found out she was going to college at the end of summer, undergrad. After further review I found out she was going into her first year of undergrad and that made her 18. Shit, 18, I thought. That didn’t seem very old. And before I could think about how old I was at 18, and during which time I was thinking about the graduate program that I had applied to, we ended up going out on a date.

She didn’t seem like 18. She was catching on to things I was saying. Hell, I’m not all that smart or maybe she’s really smart. She did hide some of her ignorance in her silence. I did hide some of my maturity in jest. But besides the point, we were having a fun time, that first date, which carried into the night.

It's night now, and I'm alone. I feel more alone now than ever. It's not a lonely depressing thing, just one that I think of. It's empty though and in the emptiness I tend to think: fill up the glass. Or, fill up the air with music, or the tub with water.

By my house, we were at a party, when the 18-year old told me one thing I can’t ever forget. She said, I’ve never had sex before. I want to (with you) but not tonight because I’ve been drinking and want to remember it. Commendable I thought. Truly mature of her to say this to me. Or drunk of her to say this to me. I couldn’t decide. I did decide to take her home with me. To make sure she was safe. And in my bed we slept together, and not in the sexual sense like you are thinking, but in the physical, biological sense of which people actually rest during the night in preparation for the morning and next day. We woke, fully clothed and still smiling at one another and not knowing what to say. So we smiled, which seemed easy at the time. We ended up going to breakfast, laughing about this and that. It was harmless.

I think about her as my bath water is nearly to the level which is soakable. It’s high enough for me to rinse the tub, so I do. I let the water out and let it drain all the way to clear out whatever invisible particles might be gathering. I’ve put Tennessee on the CD player and am looking for a way to relax more. I take another drink of the red wine I’ve bought and remember Monkey Fist.

Monkey Fist is what I call the tension in my back. One of the reasons I’m taking the bath. I told a number of friends Monkey Fist and they looked at me weird. Called me weird, even. I further described the feeling that I was feeling as that of a monkey's fist. See, there’s a monkey sized fist inbetween my shoulder blades. He keeps it there all day, twisting and turning and punching and knuckling. I don’t know why the monkey has his fist there. For the most part it is impossible to tell why. But it’s there. Where the neck meets the spine, the monkey's fist meets my back. And lately, he’s gone away, but always he comes back. Today he's slept in, but again, the back pain from my lifting days has come back to haunt me, and I think the Monkey Fist has something to do with it but I can’t figure out what.

The water has filled up. I have fresh glass of wine. The music is playing. I’ve found some incense, which I’m not really into but have located in the empty bedroom of my house. It will create ora, I think, and will help me relax to the point that I’ll be able to enjoy this bath enough to clear my head and think of it as a relaxing venture of time and not one in which I associate with suicide.

It’s hot enough, I tell you. And if you ask any male who grew up taking bathes or takes them still he’ll tell you one thing: shield. You’ve got to shield if you know anything about testicles, hot water, and washcloths. They all relate and play an intrical part in the bath process, which happens so rarely with men these days but has and does to the extent that shielding is a culture and like I said, is common enough for you to ask the one you’re with if he knows anything about the practice. You should get some reaction and if you don’t you can’t blame me. For if he’s not all that familiar he should be and if you both want kids, or want to teach your kids anything about protecting his junk you should do so. I know my dad did.

So I shield and make sure my wine is within grasp. The Mountain Goats are singing about what it’s like to break up and I automatically think of her. But now know, not think, that she’d not walking in on me. It’s not like I want to think of her but I guess I do because I put myself here. Am in the depressing tub, am taking a depressant, put on the CD that will make me think of her, but still, am trying to relax. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t try to counter the feelings I was having.

She’ll walk in, I think again. Will catch me here listening to this. Will sit on the toilet seat, pour her own glass of wine. I’ll be so relaxed I’ll be able to speak my mind and she her’s. We’ll work this out. I know we will. It’s hot but that’s okay. I feel the heat working on my back, making it feel more relaxed. My nuts don’t hurt. I’ve protected them, at least made them aware of the environment they’re submerged in. They’re fine, yes. The sound is seeping into my skin. The scent I smell is fine, and I associate it with relaxation. The wine tastes good, I’m dizzy. I cup my hand in the water and put the heat over my face. It feels good, a rebirth.

Water to me has always been that of rebirth. It’s cliché, but one that I’ve put in my pocket and kept for my own. Shower after shower a new day starts. Swim, submerge, hot springs replenish. It’s like I’ve been baptized every time, as I think of it.

Ahh, oooh, back in the womb.

Go to the coast, into the ocean. So cold. But submerge yourself in the salty water and feel alive again. Born.

And I’m back. My eyes open and it’s hot. Too hot. My body is relaxed but I’m no longer comfortable. I’m fine, though, just need to get out.

The CD is almost over, the incense is half way burned. I’m threw. That’s good. Thank you. And, whew.

I get out of the tub and should salve myself but don’t. Instead, I stagger to my bedroom, leaving on the rest of the CD, I put out the incense. I pull a towel from my closet and lay it over my bed as I lie down naked and wet and tired. I close my eyes and listen to the rest of the Mountain Goats CD. I want to dry out.

I turn on my reading light and want to read but can’t. I can’t concentrate on the letters that form words, that form sentences and main ideas. I’m lost in a story. Don’t know what’s going on. Can’t think. So I drink some more and then think that’s the problem as I pour some more.


And so I write and type because I can’t read, which doesn’t make sense because reading is what got me here. So did thinking, and, then when I think about it, tonight, so did drinking.

the year winter never came

There are droplets of water in the atmosphere. Families of them.

In this part of the atmosphere, where water droplets form, there was once one of the smallest bits water. And his name was Drip.

Drip’s dad, Drop, worked at a snowflake factory. Drop dried, however, before Drip got to meet him, but Drip heard about the snowflake factory and Drop and always wanted to work in the snowflake factory. Just like his dad.

Many of the droplets Drip went to school with didn’t want to work in the snowflake factory. They were happy falling from the sky. Fine with just being droplets. Drip was different. Drip wanted to be apart of something. Make something with his life.

So one day when he was a big enough droplet, Drip went to the snowflake factory to find out how he could make a snowflake. Everyone Drip asked said he needed to speak to Old Man Winter, the factory’s owner.

So Drip went to Old Man Winter’s office.

The first time Drip went to see Old Man Winter, Old Man Winter’s secretary said Old Man Winter was not available, and that Drip would have to make an appointment.

When Drip came back to Old Man Winter’s office in the snowflake factory, the secretary said Drip couldn’t see Old Man Winter. That the Old Man was unavailable, again.

“But I made an appointment,” Drip said. “I want a job. I want to make a snowflake.”

“I’m sorry,” the secretary said. “But Old Man Winter is out.”

So Drip left.

When Drip went to visit Old Man Winter the third time, and without an appointment, he was determined to get into the office and to see Old Man Winter. He wanted to work in the snowflake factory. Just like his dad.

So in walked Drip, and right past the secretary, and into Old Man Winter’s office.

“Old Man Winter, I’m Drip," Drip said, "and I’m going to work in the snowflake factory. And I’m going to make a snowflake." Drip explained that his dad was Drop, and that Drop worked for Old Man Winter, and "I’m going to work for you, too,” Drip said.

Old Man Winter was surprised. And Drip, in front of Old Man Winter, was surprised with himself, as well.

And for a full minute neither said word.

Finally, Old Man winter spoke. “I remember your dad. Drop made the best snowflake,” Old Man Winter said. “And I like you, Drip, but I’m sorry, son, there aren’t enough droplets in this atmosphere to make snowflakes.

"There won’t be snowflakes this season.” Old Man Winter said he was getting out of the snowflake business.

Drip remembered his droplet friends, the dropouts. How they didn’t want to work at the factory, how they just wanted to fall. Drip became sad.

"Without snowflakes there won't be snow," Drip said.

“I know, Drip,” Old Man Winter said. “And without snow, there isn’t winter.”

And that was the year winter never came.

notes in a spiral

Underneath it all, there is this spiral pad I once took notes in. It isfilled with plans and poems. Some done. Some not done.

I can't seem to make sense of all the jotted words (some are crossed out), but inside the notebook is a sketch that I drew. I remember doing it, now. It was when trying to picture this girl became too much for my mind to handle, that I put her on a page in a picture I made with a pen. It's not all that good. I'm no artist. But I have it there, in my spiral notebook.

At one point, I put a photograph I had of her next to it, just to see how they'd look beside one another. It's clear: the artist's representation is an abstract.

It's not my fault, though, that I thought of her, often. Things I saw reminded me. And, as soon as I was with someone else, she'd drop me a line (she thought of me, too). And, then she'd come back, her face in my head, replacing what was new.

But now I can't even imagine what she looks like. It's been some time since I've seen her last, and I'm sure she's changed. Her face in the mind of another. Her person with other people.

Some memories are mysterious. How they form pictures in my mind. It's like there's a box inside a box that's been opened. The contents come clean, and, when cradled and inspected, dreams occur. I'm taken to a place that isn't here. A time that isn't now. And am put in a room with people that exist in the past.

My doomed self unsure all overa gain of my future.