Showing posts with label chaucer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chaucer. Show all posts

everyone loves Chaucer, episode bajillion

Quick Chaucy update. We're about halfway through his initial treatment with Adequan and unfortunately, I'm not seeing any improvement in his limping. That could just mean it hasn't kicked in yet, but it could also mean he's unresponsive to Adequan for whatever reason. Or it could mean that the limp isn't actually arthritis, but caused by some kind of nerve compression in his spine, like if one of his vertebrae got hurt. The vet had mentioned this as a possibility, but an outside one she wanted to explore last. It would also be a pretty major situation. More x-rays and ultimately, surgery to fix it.

So, that's where things stand with the pup. He still doesn't seem to have too much awareness that anything's wrong. Still down for his usual walk, if taking it a little slower. Still playful and loving and cuddly as ever. In fact if anything he's gotten more friendly and sweet, especially with strangers. It's to the point now where he rarely passes someone standing on the sidewalk that he doesn't want to greet and sniff with a hello and sometimes a lick, if they're willing. He's a love and a half.

Oh and I meant to post this picture a few weeks back. The golden was also nine, a girl with hip problems who could barely walk herself. They were flirting so bad, looking at one another, looking away, looking back:

That's right Chaucer. Play hard to get with the gorgeous blonde who's looking right at you.

And here's a bit of awesomeness - at the end of this week, my friend Bill from Georgia (lives on the lake, I've visited him a couple times now) is driving through LA with his granddaughter and great-grandson on their way to SF. They've just only got time to stop for a few hours, but we're going to meet for lunch downtown, at the very cafeteria (now a hip cafeteria/bar) where Bill used to go as a kid, when he lived in Boyle Heights some seven decades ago.

And the best part is, since they're coming downtown, Bill will get to meet Chaucer, whom he's been reading and hearing about and loving from afar for almost three years now. Don't know how my heart's gonna handle that moment, but okay!


In the throes of some serious Saturday laziness but here's a quick phone dump...

A rainstorm (ok some wind and a mild sprinkling) devested one of Chaucer's favorite trees at the library, and he quite sweetly gathered up some blossoms for me. So thoughtful.

We hit Sleepless again last night, which is a free late-night dance/chillout party held in the opera house literally up the street. The event could definitely stand some improvements, but did I mention the free part?

I'm systematically working my way through a couple of Cooks Illustrated recipe books - All-Time Best Pasta and All-Time Best French, and amazingly I've neither poisoned anyone nor burned down the building yet. Below are my (fairly successful) attempts at cappelini al limone, cappelini with tomato-basil-onion-cream sauce, steak au poivre, and asparagus with brown butter and balsamic-soy reduction (not from a recipe book).

And with that my brain has reached its maximum creative output for the day. Happy weekend, lovelies.

jostles and shouts

Do you ever feel invisible? That no matter how many times you politely clear your throat and repeat yourself (louder this time, come on now), it just doesn't matter, because there are so many others jostling and shouting to be seen, heard, and felt themselves? And please, don't embarrass yourself with that clunky, outdated megaphone. They don't even use megaphones anymore. They've got this incredible new technology--all they do is think some ones and zeros, and everyone they've ever known shoots a thumbs-up in the air while elsewhere, a dollar plunks into their bank account. You should probably just take a seat. Maybe if there's a lull in the action we can sneak you in for a few seconds, no promises though.

Only there's never a lull. There's just an endless flow of jostles and shouts. Good luck.


Last night there was a street festival of sorts downtown. Part of the effort to revitalize Broadway, an erstwhile vibrant theater row, now populated by cheap electronic stores, quinceanera shops, and taquerias. It was a free event and drew thousands. Music, cultural exhibits, art, performers, food trucks, a Ferris Wheel, and a Silent Disco. Yep, that's right. My favorite dedicated dance floor, the irresistible black hole of every Bonnaroo, and the bane of my bladder (if you leave to pee you have to wait in line all over again): Silent Disco.

I didn't know about the event at all until the day of, when Krista mentioned having trouble getting a Lyft due to road closures, and I didn't know they had a Silent Disco until I literally walked into it. I'd been texting updates to Terence (doing a show in Hollywood) and Krista (chilling at home with hurting knees), alternately threatening to leave because I felt lonely and begging them to hurry up and join me. Then I stumbled into the crowd of headphone-bedecked revelers and forgot all about my friends. Not really, but sort of. Silent Disco is my jam.

Long story short, I couldn't lure Krista off her couch but Terence got back downtown pretty quickly after his gig. We stayed an hour and a half and were starving, sweaty messes by the time we left. It was so much goddamn fun. Terence and I are inching ever closer to severance--emotional, geographical, financial--and the ways in which we detach a little more each day are heartbreaking...but holy shit do we still love listening to music together. It feels like something to hold on to, while it's there. Something still warm in an otherwise cold room.

Later we went to Casey's, to watch the band of a guy who lives in our building--someone we've exchanged a year's worth of elevator chat with. It was unexpectedly fun; a few other people from the building were there, and I socialized more than I have in a while. Those muscles atrophy fast for me. I get lazy about expanding past my close circle of friends. Scared, too.

Anyway, it was a good time. I made people laugh. My sneakers were complimented. Someone asked to take a picture with me. Another person asked to see me again. (Getting hit on with Terence next to me was a weird situation but to his credit he was the picture of grace and humor and we didn't come close to fighting about it, which, had the roles been reversed...)


News about Chaucer that is difficult to write. He's been limping for a couple of months now. The vets (we've seen three) suspect the onset of arthritis, which is unsurprising considering his age. He's coming up on nine--a little old for a mastiff.

Options include injections and, if they can pinpoint the place of the issue, laser therapy. We talked to him about it and his vote, quite emphatically I might add, is for lasers. In fact he talks about it all the time. He wants to know everything. "Can I shoot other dogs with the lasers?" "Do they lasers come out of my eyes or my paws or both?" "What about food? Can I cook burgers using the lasers?"

We tried to explain that's not how it works but he's so excited at the prospect we've let it go for now.

In all seriousness, it'll probably be (Adequan) injections. From what I understand those will give him immediate and noticeable results. The vet actually raved about them, says it turns elderly dogs into puppies, essentially.

Sounds good, as long as I still get to keep every single memory we've made on his way from puppy to my old boy.


I will--really and truly--have news to share very soon. Days away now. In the meantime, hello from The Land of WhatthehellamIdoing. I hope you are all healthy and happy and feeling more fearless than me.

cone of valor

Somebody got a boo boo.

Somebody nicked the tip of his tail against a metal door frame, wagging really hard when we came home Saturday night. Blood everywhere, and a midnight trip to the emergency vet. They said it didn't look broken and to just have our regular vet check it out this week. So that's what we're doing Thursday. Hopefully we're not headed towards the dreaded "Happy Tail" syndrome.

I feel terrible dragging him back to the vet so soon; the poor guy is still recovering from a mysterious wrist injury a few weeks ago, as well as a skin infection. He's already on painkillers and antibiotics.

In the meantime, he gets to wear the badass Cone of Valor. I'm kind of jealous. That thing is way cooler than my hoodie.


I dread the first of January. It always feels like the first day of a class I'm not sure I should be in. Didn't exactly ace the prerequisites. Don't know that I'm qualified to move ahead. So while everyone else is fresh-faced and eager, I'm chewing my pencil, avoiding eye contact. Sooner or later I'll be found out: I have no idea what I'm doing.

I've learned to keep my New Year's resolutions to myself. Once I share them, they start ticking like a countdown - how long until I fail? If I keep them quietly, the self-admonishments when I stumble can be quieter, too. It's okay. No one knows you dropped the ball. Just pick it back up. We'll keep this between us. 

If you're charging into the new year with guns blazing, right on. Pass me some of that confidence in a high five, will you? But if you've got to bluff it for a while until you get your bearings, come sit with me in the back. I've got extra pencils.

The last bits of my MMXV:
Some things never change. (Talking about my claw hand, of course.)
Supermoon viewing. I didn't blog these pictures before because this was the night I knew Terence and I were Donesville. They make me a little sad because of that, but seeing downtown all tiny off in the distance reminds me how insignificant my problems are.

Urban scrawl: so much prettier at night.
Clifton's has become my new favorite spot downtown. Cavernous, quirky, cozy, and chill. Plus they serve the best White Russian you've ever had. 
We agreed that either we both get facelifts or neither of us does.
An optimistic moment.
My thinking place. Three blocks up, one block over. I can sit beside the water and gaze at the city and just be blurry for a little while.
Terrible picture but a great moment, molesting balloons last night with Krista.

He said he's never veld this way before. Safari's just talk, though.
He always get a little pouty after he guts a toy and realizes he now has one less toy.
"You know I'm color blind, right? You can stop buying them in fancy colors."
Last night at The Belasco downtown. For the first time in my life I wore flat shoes on New Year's Eve, so I could actually dance. I'll never go back. 
Truly fantastic music, with multiple rooms to choose from. A+, would return next year for sure.
Big dogs need big trees.
Selfie queens to the end.

ups and downs


When I was in college, perhaps the most impactful thing I learned in my composition classes is that every piece of writing should be a gift. Whether a story, an essay, a poem, an article, a blog post - whatever the subject or form. A gift. Put enough into it that the reader feels like she's been given more than a string of nouns and verbs. Innovate. Be vulnerable. Entertain, enlighten, inspire. Try, anyway.

I haven't posted much lately because I haven't had any gifts to give. It's a weird time, and I don't know how to write about it without sounding flat and dull and whiny. But the longer I stay away the unhappier I get. So at the risk of sounding flat and dull and whiny, I'll catch you up on the past few weeks in the hope that it will be like shedding a skin, dry and dead and colorless. Maybe there's something more vibrant underneath that just needs a little air.

Terence and I are still living together. It looks like we're going to ride out the lease. So that's June. Rent downtown has skyrocketed with the opening of a Whole Foods which is literally a three minute walk from our building. My old apartment? This tiny little space? It rents for over $2k now. I doubt I'll stay downtown when we move out. I'm thinking about Koreatown, or maybe Hollywood? Not sure. But right now, our loft is perfectly suited to our needs. Chaucer's, too.

We're getting along fine, for the most part. In some ways our relationship is better than it ever was before the breakup. We're more patient with one another. I think neither of us sees much use in arguing, or holding on to anger when we do argue (because we still do, occasionally.) What's the point? There's nothing to be won anymore. Whatever there was to be won has been lost, for good. And that sounds awfully nihilistic I know, but in practice it's actually rather liberating. Why resent him for being him, when soon enough he'll be gone from my life? I've let go of my expectations and am turning inward more or more, for the things I wanted from him but never got. Maybe that's what I should have done in the first place. I don't know.

Before he and Kerry moved to SF a few weeks ago, I tried to explain to Ross exactly what doesn't work about Terence and I. It's a wavelength thing, I said.

Yeah but what does that mean, he asked. He was arguing that every relationship eventually reaches a sort of staleness (though he didn't use that word). Doesn't everyone get sick of their partner eventually?

I used him and Kerry as an example. I don't know. Maybe a little? But underneath it, as long as the two people are on the same page, that gives them a sense of emotional intimacy. You guys are on the same page. I can see it every time I'm around you. The way you respond to things the same way. 

That's how I think of wavelength. When you're at a party, or in a bar or restaurant - anywhere public, with a mixed group of people. Someone says or does something, and you look up and catch your partner's eye because you know he's thinking the exact same thing. That's wavelength. It's gratifying and satisfying and, in a way, incredibly sexy. Terence and I? No wavelength. Tons of inside jokes, which I treasure. But not that organic emotional and intellectual chemistry.

Incidentally, Terence told me that on one of our last nights out with them, when he asked Ross how he and Kerry do it, Ross had said, We think of ourselves like it's us vs. the world. 

I think that's pretty amazing. It's on the the list of reasons I will miss them.


We had a final night out together, the four of us. Kerry had come back down only long enough to pack, and after an exhausting day of getting ready for the move the next morning, they joined us for dinner and drinks. It was supposed to be a wild last hurrah, but it never really got off the ground. The weirdness of Terence and I having broken up, the stress they were under about closing on a new house in SF - all of us were distracted and a little down. We tried, but we were bickery and short with one another. I could tell Kerry was already gone in her mind, and it was like looking at her across several zip codes, not a dinner table. But we have had so, so many fun times over the years that I was content, anyway.

They were so sweet and inclusive of Terence to the very end. Still referring to us as an "us", still inviting us up to SF to visit.


Part of the reason I haven't blogged is that I still spend time with Terence. We still go to shows, to dinner, watch movies, go shopping. He's still a huge part of my life, which doesn't seem to make sense if we're broken up. So writing about it feels strange, disingenuous, confusing to me, to him, to anyone reading. Are they together or not? What the hell?

We've had a hundred frank discussions about our relationship. You'd think that would help us find closure but sometimes it's more confusing than anything. One minute we'll agree that we're wrong for one another, the next we'll wonder whether anyone will ever be perfect for anyone. At what point are the good aspects of a relationship enough? At what point do you stop running - away from what's not enough, and toward what may never actually exist? Will I ever be completely happy, with anyone? The self-doubt is crippling.

I've been listening to Mother Mother a lot - kind of obsessed with them, in fact - and they have a song that pretty much captures exactly how all of this makes me feel:


We spent Thanksgiving together. Chaucer's nickname is Winks, so we called it Winksgiving. I brined and cooked my first turkey. It went well, except for getting confused about when to tent the breast. We did it backwards; instead of covering the bird with foil for the first half hour, we put the foil on after 30 minutes. I went for a run and while I was gone it suddenly dawned on me that we'd screwed up. I texted and called Terence frantically, but he was playing guitar and didn't hear his phone. When I got home fifteen minutes later, breathless and sweaty, I ran to the oven and yanked the door open. "We had it backwards!" I cried. "It's supposed to be covered for the first part of cooking!" We ripped the foil tent off the turkey and oh my god. It was like yanking a toupee off a bald man. The sides and back were a gorgeous golden brown, but the breast on top was pale and white. Fucking hilarious, but me being the oversensitive idiot I am, I started crying. I'd so wanted it to be perfect. Thanksgiving to me has strong associations with my mother; I'd felt close to her all day, thinking she'd be so proud of my cooking. Then here I go messing it up so badly. But it was fine. We were laughing about it within five minutes. And Chaucer was spoiled so rotten - giblets, dark meat, yams...


Some of my AZ friends came to town, and it was like breathing pure oxygen for four days straight. I was dizzy with joy. Such an unbelievable good time. We didn't even do much; dinner, drinks, screwing around in bars and hotel rooms. But it was a mixed group, some newer friends who don't know all the old mythology of our friendship - stories which go back twenty years, in some cases. So we spent the weekend telling those tales to them, to one another. Reliving, reconnecting, laughing endlessly. At one point we all were piled on a heap on the bed, drunk and high and still in our going-out clothes. I told the story of how I'd come to be friends with Mason - it is a doozy of a story - and everyone was just captivated, quiet and listening. Just sharing the genesis of that friendship made me feel more whole than I've felt in a long time. It's good to remember where you came from, especially when you're not sure where you are.

I spent most of the weekend with my friends alone, though Terence joined us for the last night. I can't deny what a blast that was, too. The place we'd intended to hit was closed for a private party, so we found ourselves marooned in Hollywood, out of our minds and not quite sure where to go. We ended up in a biker bar, randomly singing The Cure and joking around with tatted up strangers before finding a nearly-empty nightclub that we shut down, the dance floor happily to ourselves.


The business idea I have - I am still working at it. It's become a bit of a logistical nightmare. Lots more challenges than I foresaw, but I still believe in it. Trying to overcome one hurdle at a time and not get discouraged. Everyone I tell thinks there's huge potential in it so I'm not giving up yet.

I hate to be a tease about it but that's all I can say right now. Argh.


And here is what some of the past few weeks has looked like:


Riveting stuff, right? Woman Lives Life, Is Reminded it Features Ups and Downs.

See above, re: gifts.


Another day, another dose of celebrity for Chaucer...

See his Cute Overload debut here!

PPRL: The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (winner, 1939)

Chaucer and I have been reading The Yearling.

I started it before going to Lake Burton, but Jody hadn't yet found the fawn, so neither Chaucer nor I were hooked yet. But I picked it back up when I got home, and Flag made his appearance soon afterward. It was a cold, bright night, perfect for nestling down under a fleece throw with a good book. Chaucer was stretched out along the end of the bed, warming my feet and keeping me company. When I finished the chapter, I closed my iPad and lay beside him. I stroked his ears and the crown of his head, and told him about the baby deer. He's the same color as you, and just as soft. I understood the boy's delight completely. Any animal lover would. Chaucer could live a hundred years and I'd never get over my joy and wonder at getting to care for him, hold him, play with him. I've been Jody in a million other lifetimes. And in this lifetime, Chaucer is my Flag.

Later, I told Chaucer about the hunts. About Ol' Slewfoot, and the bravery of Julia and Rip, the dogs who would eventually bring him down. He especially liked the parts about the hounds scenting their prey, and Penny's skill at tracking game through the wilderness. I told him about all the animals on Baxter's Island - the varmints and "creeturs", big and small. He blinked at me and I pictured him in another world completely: the scrublands of northern Florida, trusty guard dog of humble country folk some three-quarters of a century ago. Would he love that life more than the one I've given him? Maybe. Would he have been loved more? Impossible.

Tonight Terence and I walked him to Grand Park, which a pretty good trek for him these days. He started to lose steam about where he always does, hanging his head and panting hard. We saw a small black cat on the walk ahead of us, poised to dash off into the bushes. Knowing she'd easily get away, knowing Chaucer can barely catch his own shadow, I unclipped his leash. He tensed up, understanding, waiting for my direction. I knelt down beside him and pointed. "Kitty, Chauc!" I whispered, and he was off like a shot.

The cat was gone in an instant, and Chaucer, as usual, stood helplessly at the edge of the brush she'd disappeared into. Normally at this point he walks back to me, sheepishly defeated, to be clipped back into his leash. But tonight when he heard my laughing "Good boy!" he did something neither Terence nor I expected, nor could believe afterward. He clambered onward, into brambling bushes that came up to his shoulder. Bushes even a true hound dog would have trouble navigating. He scrambled for footing, peering over the top of the greenery as he tried to find the cat. Alarmed he might trip and hurt himself, we quickly called him back.

Terence and I frowned at one another, amazed. So, so unlike him to do that. "He's trying to impress me," I joked. "He knows I'm reading The Yearling with all these hunting dog scenes, and he's trying to prove he's a good hunter, too."

Not five minutes later we were further up in the park, in a wide, grassy area divided by landscaped cement partitions. Terence spotted a small dark shape silhouetted one on of the partitions. At first we thought it was a cat, but it was slinky and crouched-down, and I gaped in horror at what I assumed was a massive rat. "It's a possum!" said Terence, who with better eyes could make it out clearly. Scared Chaucer would give chase and get himself god knows what disease, I handed off the leash so I could inch closer alone. I'd never seen a possum in the wild.

Again, it was like something from The Yearling. Chaucer caught the animal's scent and pulled forward. He sensed my excitement and strained at his leash to see. The possum had crawled along the low wall and frozen. He was playing dead. We snapped a quick, blurry photo more to briefly illuminate it than anything and then moved on, happy that Chaucer got to smell something new and exotic.

About an hour ago, Chaucer long since having ditched me in the chilly living room for the warmth of his bed, I finished the novel. The final twenty pages devastated me; I cried three times. Just as surely as I know some of Updike's passages are the best fiction I've ever read, the final paragraph of The Yearling is the best ending I have ever read. It took my breath away and I had to clasp my hand over my mouth, to stifle the sobs. It's a paragraph to launch the writing careers of a thousand would-be novelists. Raw and unforgettable and perfect.

I don't have any discussion questions this time around. I have only awe. And my Flag to go cuddle.

only Tuesday

I walked him early this morning. Figured it would be his usual quick trip around the corner, but when we got back to the building he looked up at me, then down the street. Let's go to the library.

Sidewalk commuters smile at him over their Starbucks cups; a few comment on his size, or ask his breed. Eight years of this and I never get sick of it. Him neither.

The library grounds are more marshy than usual, unkempt and overgrown. Not so great for my shoes, but Chaucer is in heaven. Wet, green smells everywhere. His paw pads sink slightly into the soil and he pushes his muzzle deep into bushes shining with dew.

I groom him, long slow strokes of the wire brush, lightly so it doesn't burn his skin. Then the rubber spike brush on his belly and legs. "What level of handsome are we going for today?" He glances at me, panting happily. "Level ten? Are you sure? Oh man Chaucy, I don't know if the world can handle it. It's only Tuesday." No one can hear what I'm saying, but every so often I notice someone watching us from a car window, as they wait for the light to turn. If I'm a crazy person for talking to my dog, it's the kind of crazy I'll always be. "When people start spontaneously combusting because of your handsomeness, that's on you. Ok buddy?" His furry chest heaves under the brush. Good. Keep that big heart strong.

When I'm done he noses at the bag I carry, the one with his brushes and travel bowl and tennis ball. This is rare. Wanting to play is rare these days, so I quickly pull out a red and blue ball and throw it across the grass. As he bounds after it I watch his hips and legs, looking for signs of pain. Sometimes he favors his left leg, and every so often he has trouble standing up. Not today, though. We are in full puppy form today.

On the way out a man in a faded black sweatshirt, plaid dress pants, and no shoes stops us. "That a mastiff?" Sure is, I tell him. "How old?" Chaucer ambles by him unbothered, concentrating on something in the grass.

"He's eight," I say, hearing the subtext in my voice. Old.

"They don't live long, you know." I'm used to this, and don't take offense.

"I know."

"How's his hips?"

"Pretty good," I nod.

"Well, he's beautiful."


On a bench near the exit a homeless man sleeps. A sign set down on the path beside him says Spare Some Change. The cursive letters are painted in thick black strokes, and he's filled in the loops with red accents. Chaucer, ahead of me on the walkway, steps around the sign lightly.

Back at home I wipe his paws with a warm washcloth, rubbing one toe at a time while he lays on his side. White tile is unforgiving, and if we don't take a minute to clean him off after each walk the floors are a wreck almost immediately. Sometimes it's a pain, especially when I'm in a hurry. But mostly I don't mind. Him neither, I think.


I first watched the video below this past Friday, in a resort in Las Vegas. I was sitting next to Mason, both of us trying to recover from the previous night's celebration (his birthday), when I got a push notification that a mutual friend of ours had just shared it on Twitter. This friend doesn't post much online, so when he does, I make a point of checking out whatever it is.

"Here, you have to watch this video with me. Steve just tweeted it. I read the description and I can tell it's gonna make me cry."

And it did. And afterward, as I snuffled and wiped my wet cheeks with a sweatshirt sleeve, Mason laughed. "Well if you had any serotonin at all left this morning, that certainly took care of it."

I just watched it once more, and I'll probably watch it again every time I'm feeling weepy and sentimental about Chaucer, which is a circumstance I find myself in a lot more often than post-partying recovery in Vegas. You certainly don't need to have dogs to be moved by this seven minute film, but if you do, hold on to your heart.

A few weeks ago, Chaucer had a limp when he got up in the morning. He walked it off pretty quickly, as he always does, but it unsettled me. I fretted about it to Terence and coddled Chaucer especially hard for the rest of the day. That evening Terence suggested we take Chauc for a super long walk, the kind of epic walk he hasn't been up to in several months.

"He can't," I said. "He's just getting too old. He can't do that kind of distance anymore. I'm scared that we'll get across town and he'll lay down and refuse to move. Then what?"

Terence disagreed. "He needs the exercise. His leg is probably freezing up because he's not getting as much as he used to." We asked Chaucer how he felt, and as soon as we said the "w" word his tail went nuts. So we grabbed his leash and the next thing we knew, we were walking further than we had with him in ages.

And then even further. And further. Chaucer just charged ahead, full of verve and not slowing down a bit despite some heavy panting. Soon we were at his old stomping grounds: City Hall and Grand Park. Places he hasn't been up to trekking to in a heartbreakingly long time.

"You know what this is, right?" Terence looked at me meaningfully. "He knows. He knows you're worried about him, and he wants to reassure you. He's proving to you that he's still strong, baby."

The more I insist I don't go in for magical thinking, the less convincing it sounds, I know. So I'll just stop there.

If there's anything better in this world than being loved by a dog, I've yet to find out what that is. Probably couldn't handle it if I did.

teh worreez

TFW when Mom publishes a weird blog post and you're not sure if you should be concerned.