Birds

White security fences don’t always make for the most welcoming of introductions.  This morning, I was lucky enough to visit a homeowner who had a massive, enclosed property, a property that also happened to be filled with rescue animals of the winged variety.  Geese, Turkey, Ducks, and things I hadn’t really heard of, littered the two acre property, lounging in plastic baby pools and honking angrily at one another.   

The property owner, elderly and agitated, was less than enthused that I was there, ironic because she was the one who scheduled the appointment, but eager to describe the rescued fowl in detail.   

“Those seven were being starved before I took them in.”

I responded with a shocked stare.

“And I just spent thousands on an emergency bill for these,” She continued, not even bothering to gesture at the animals she was referring to.”

Her arms had scabs and she was visibly disheveled, but she spoke about the animals around us as if I was challenging her right to own them.  “I have at least one hundred in the front yard.”

I glanced around the acreage and noted the large cages lining her property line.  “They all seem so happy,” I responded, and hoped it sounded convincing.

I don’t know if it’s possible to read a bird’s emotions, but as a whole they did appear content, even more so when a torrential rain set in moments later. The homeowner however, was not expecting any “God Damned tropical weather,” as she put it, and as the first drops fell from the sky she leapt toward one of the cages.

“Food!” She yelled, along with something else I couldn’t decipher, and I watched as she grabbed a gigantic plastic tub filled with pellets and shoved it into a bird house.  

“Can I help?”  I yelled as I shuffled underneath her only tree, trying to escape the drops.  “Also, would it kill you to let me into your home?” I added in my head.  

No response, only rain.  

Ten minutes later, as the storm raged on we stood, soaked, underneath her gutters.

“Renovating the whole place,” she mumbled, offering insight into why I wasn’t allowed inside her home.  “Also have ten cockatoos that will scream their heads off at you.  

Renovating or not, protocol requires I document her electric panel at the very least, and as soon as the downpour ceased we headed around back to her basement.  

“I’m gutting everything down here too,” she explained as she opened the door.  We were greeted by her dog, Rudy or Rascal or something like that, a 19 year mutt who promptly leapt up from his bed to bite my extended hand.  

“He’s very spry for 19,” I commented, searching my knuckles for blood.

“Ralph that’s very bad!” Ms. Homeowner mumbled as she walked past the washing machine toward a closed door.  “The panel is back here if you want to look at it.”  

I didn’t, really.  I wanted to leave.  And as she opened the door, I wanted to run.  The room was black with darkness, sans a small window, and the light pouring in from where we stood revealed cages and cages of more birds, all eyeing me suspiciously.  

“Hello! Hello!”  

“What? Hello!”

“Hello! Hello!”

It was too much, really.  Rudy thought so too and started nipping at my heels aggressively.  “I don’t think he wants me to go in,” I tried to stay calm as my customer weaved through the cages to her electric panel.  

“Raymond, that’s enough!”

He was unfazed by her scolding, so were the birds.  They chatted away happily, like their basement situation was normal.  

Eager to end this horror film before it ended me, I deemed everything in order but (“Oh No!”) found a random and weak detail to kill the visit.  

“I’m so sorry I cannot help you today, but you have my card if anything changes,” I forced a sad smile and offered my hand.  She nodded and walked me to the gate.  

“I have to make sure it’s closed correctly,” she pointed at the handle.  “A few of them have a tendency to wander, right Rose?”  

Paula

As my car slowly and suspiciously crept up the cul de sac to my appointment I tried to contort my grimace into something resembling a smile. I knew that my company wasn’t going to be able to help this customer.  He didn’t qualify for our services, and I hoped that luck would grant me a thirty second meeting consisting only of my apologetic rejection.  After that I could use my precious time on more important things, like calling my boyfriend to complain about the wasted appointment I had just been sent to.  I was too early to my visit, as usual, and I mentally cursed the homeowner when no one came to the door.  “Worthless loser can’t even be on time for an appointment,” I thought.  My grin was stretched grotesquely from ear to ear as I strolled back to my car.  Protocol was to wait thirty minutes, which I wasn’t going to do.  I was already fifteen minutes early, and if this person didn’t respect me enough to be ten minutes early to his own home, I figured he could waste some other smuck’s time.  “Five minutes and counting,” I thought, and forced a pleasant sounding sigh.   

One minute passed and I took out my phone.  Protocol also required me to call my office, tell them to call my customer and then wait for the office to call me back.  Either the inside team would manage to speak to the customer or they would hold their breath and wait for a call back.  This was supposed to further waste my time in the management’s hopes that if the customer was trying to avoid us, they would have no choice but to emerge from their home or come back from whatever fake errand they had been running.  I started dialing the customer.  .  

It was then I heard the dulcet tones of Paula Abdul approaching.  A white Mercedes convertible came into view, top down and cruising quickly, I noted, at a speed somewhat excessive for a dead end.  

Without any real acknowledgement of my robotic wave the Paula fan pulled his car into the opening garage door and hopped out, immediately grabbing grocery bags from his trunk.  

“Um yes?” the guy paused briefly, hands tangled in the plastic Stop and Shop purchases.  

I introduced myself, reminded the guy of our scheduled appointment, and tried to get a read of what I was looking at.  Flipflops, tight jeans sagging slightly off his butt.  His hair was bleached a white hot blonde, dripping with oil and hanging loosely over the shaved section in the back.  He looked disheveled, I thought to myself.  Maybe caught off guard that he had forgotten about the appointment?  “Or he’s on crack,” I added.  Whatever it was, he invited me in without making eye contact and sashayed through his garage door to the kitchen.  

“Just watch out for the dogs, they’re harmless but bitches.” He said as he unsteadily motioned me toward the kitchen.  “So old.”  

Without saying anything else he deposited his bags on the couter top and started sorting through his groceries.  

“Do you need help with any of that?”   

“No, I just need to make sure the salmon roe gets in here.” He said without making eye contact.  His refrigerator was seemingly busting at it’s hinges with food.  He clumsily shoved items around to make room.

“Oh it’ll go here,” he said, this time to himself. “Right next to Jasmine’s pee.”

He paused and then gestured toward me.

So sanitary, right?”

My gut instinct after three minutes with this guy was to walk out the door but I took the bait.  “Did you say pee?”

“Jasmine’s pee, it has to go in the big tupperware since we take it everyday.”

For some reason, this guy was under the impression I knew who Jasmine was. He move a few more items around before moving the tupperware to the top shelf.  

I took a shot in the dark.   “The dog……?”

“Yes, we have to get some every day now.”

With that he stopped talking and started searching for a spot to place the celery.  I forced myself to come up with a response.  “Does she…. have…some sort of problem?”

Of course she did, I thought, why else would jars of her urine be aging in the fridge?  I resented the guy for making me even ask the question.  

“Yes and it’s making her a complete bitch,” was his only response.    

“Well…. I guess we all have our problems,”  I was struggling to put a positive spin on this conversation.  What the hell was with this guy, anyway?   

“Ya, I would know, my psoriasis is out of control.”

“Oh,”  I trailed off.  

“Well let’s go,” He said cutting me off. He walked toward the back door and grabbed a pair of beige clogs before stepping unsteadily onto the porch.   

Outside he decided it was time for him to talk, and talk he did, without any real participation on my end. He liked all the trees in his yard.  He liked the church parking lot behind their property.  He and his partner didn’t garden.  The customer pointed out the random tulip that was growing about 20 feet away from us.  “Those shitty little bunny rabbits are going to try and eat that,” he said.   

Yet again another silent pause and I stared at the doomed tulip.  

“I suntan up there.”   

I took the bait.  The customer was pointing the the small, steep, asphalt roof three stories above us.  

“You suntan? Up THERE?”  

“Oh ya, sure, why not, lots of sun.”  

No, actually, due to the forest around us there wasn’t any sun at all, I thought.  “How did you get up there?  I don’t see any window access?”  

“Oh I just climb the ladder.”

At this point he took off his sunglasses for the first time and started shuffling back toward the porch.  Neither of us said anything until we reached to door.

“Well I’m sorry we won’t be able to help you,” I finally uttered the apology meant initially for the driveway.   With that, he turned to make eye contact.  The customer’s face, normal looking moments before, was now red and blotchy.  His left eye appeared to be swelling dangerously.  

“Oh well,” he shrugged his shoulders and extended his limp and now reddening hand. “I guess it’s alright.”

“Is that psoriasis??!” I screamed in my head.  “Is that contagious? Don’t touch him you fool!!!”  

While my mental alarms went into full panic mode the professional salesman on the outside took over.  “JUST FREAKING SHAKE HIS HAND,” the salesman threatened.   The customer’s hand was limp, with little bumps on it.  We shook.  

“Nice to meet you!”  I mumbled and broke into a power walk toward the garage.  

“Oh Jasmine, you bitch, now you wake up to say goodbye?”  

His dog, an obese and elderly chihuahua, limped from a back room, pausing to give both of us the stink eye.  

“What a sweet looking dog,” I said, noting how the customer’s eye was now throbbing.  
“Oh, I guess,” he said, acknowledging her with a wave of his hand.  “She’s old.”  

Blizzard

 

Yesterday I witnessed my dog slipping on the snow.  Other than her love for her mom (me) and salmon skin, she has cannot get enough of the water and snow.  The water disappointed her first, during her second trip ever to the ocean.  She had launched herself onto the beach in a frenzy, eyeing the water excitedly and and walked forward to gently dip her paws in.  She’s not an idiot, obviously the tide was doing something she was not familiar with, but after a little bit of aggressive coaxing my boyfriend and we got my dog in up to her collar.  This was fine for less than five seconds before the first wave hit her.  

 

For seven years the snow has also been her friend.  Despite my sincere attempts to put her in warmer climates, hoping that she’ll eventually get used to the heat, there has been no denying the weird animal happiness that takes place when she sees snow.  Even in the most miserable of blizzards, with her mom muttering expletives underneath my breath, she still leaps around with the energy of a puppy, stuffing her snout in any pile of flakes she passes.  

 

Yesterday, after a quick jaunt in the snow, she fell.  It was fast, she got up and she was fine.  You could tell she felt betrayed though.  

 

I was concerned at first with the intensity that she fell but there was no limping, and the pouting stopped as soon as we returned to the apartment.  Other than dismemberment there is truly nothing a decent sized dog treat can’t fix.  Shortly thereafter, I gathered up my things to go to work.  The moment that I zipped up my winter coat a colleague called.  Against my better judgement, and my boyfriend’s wise advice that I warm my car up earlier than later, I answered the phone.  The conversation was important, also incredibly long, and after I noticed we’d hit the fifteen minute mark I stopped taking notes and headed out the door.  As I stepped onto the sidewalk I apologized for the gentleman for having to go and hung up on him without waiting to hear a response.  The time popped up on my phone- 9:20am.  It usually took me forty minutes for get to my office on a good day, and this meant I was fucked.  I broke into a sprint.  

 

Then, with the ice filled street spinning around me I fell, hard, ironically at the exact same spot my dog did.  Unlike my dog though I didn’t jump up and look confused.  Instead I remained twisted on the ground.  My purse, from what I could see laid remarkably intact, three feet away and still looking fly.  Somehow the four hundred dollar investment I had been hesitant to make, in the form of a Kate Spade accessory I might add, had also managed to protect my oversized iPad.  This was obviously a display of good luck.  My purse had made a sacrifice for my twisted body, and in my haze I took this as some sort of display of good karma.  I had earned this.  

 

I would’ve readily patted myself on the back if I hadn’t had my arm pinned underneath my torso and caressing the pavement.   “Ohhh.”  I said toward the purse, which to a passerby probably would’ve been interpreted into an “Ow.”   For better or for worse though, no one was around.  I would have had no problem welcoming some sympathy, or at least a hand up, but I also happened to live next to a number of young families with children.  Odds were that if anyone would’ve been nearby the observers of my dramatic fall would have been under the age of ten, and not immune to a thirty something flinging expletives into the ozone.   

 

Unlike my dog during when I hit the ground, I was wearing clothes.  My pants, as well as my tights, ripped open all too easily in my graceful tumble.  This was bad enough, they were my favorite pants, but I also hadn’t had the chance to do any laundry for two weeks, presenting yet another layer to my problem.  It wasn’t even until I gathered my purse and found my car keys next to the ditch that I noticed my leg was bleeding.

 

Did I mention I was running late?  For a split second, in the middle of the road, I turned to look at my apartment building.  Did I go back in and change?  Did I have any BandAids?  Was I about to use a “Get out of Jail Free” card when it would be better utilized playing hooky and going to a bar on a day when I wasn’t actually injured?  

 

I turned back toward my car.  I would not be sacrificing a fake sick day for this.  I limped defiantly, toward my car and buckled myself in with authority.  Then, I looked down at my knee.   It seemed to be bleeding quite a bit.  I usually had an array of napkins easily available in my pockets or in my passenger seat.  Sometimes they were used, sometimes they were not.  Ironically the week before my boyfriend had found a napkin that wasn’t his own in his pocket, unarguably used and I had made a mental note to discard all my paper products.

 

“Fine,” I had said to him.  “I’ll get rid of the napkins.”  He had no way of proving they were mine, anyway.   I was doing us both a favor.

 

Luckily when I fell I still had a some Dunkin Donuts trash wedged between my seat and the console I had failed to see.  “Thank God,”  I thought outloud.  “This is what they must do in emergency situations.”

Update- I am now properly bandaged and grossly bruised.  For the first time I understand the need for lawyers who specialize in situations like “slip and falls.”  My dog may have enjoyed the winter, she may still, I haven’t asked her, but as we nurse our wounds together I will be mentally prepping her once again for a move to a warmer climate.   

Mary Jane

A friend of mine offered to give me some pot recently, marijuana if you will, and of course I said yes.  I have said yes a few times, to a few different individuals in the past month yet no one has yet to follow through.  I’m not sure if this is my fault for not seeming sincere, or if there is a certain protocol no one told me about that needs to be adheared to.  Regardless, I’m impressed that I have people actually offering it to me.  I’ve come a long way.

My siblings smoke, my friends obviously smoke and if I adopt a new acquaintance, I will find out if they smoke.  They all do.  It’s no longer a taboo subject, if it ever was.  I would be the last person anyone should turn to for intel on the matter anyway, I went from cherubed faced innocent to boozehound flirt in the same time it took to move my comforter from my parents home to the college dormroom.  What never crossed my mind though was replacing the handle of vodka in my underwear drawer with plants.

When I was a Sophomore in high school, the Varsity Tennis members and I went out for a dinner meant for bonding.  Varsity was small, four members including myself, and the two  Juniors suggested we go to Rasta Pasta, a favorite for some of the upperclassmen.  One of the girls lived in my neighborhood, she was ranked number one on the team and had long black hair.  She was beautiful, a race other than the ninety nine percent caucasian population in my city and cool as shit.  Her counterpart, number two, was the opposite.  She was a cheerleader part time, bleached blonde and as white as my mother’s accountant.  I never saw them together in the hallways of my high school but on the tennis court, or Rasta Pasta, they were the best of friends.

We ate pasta, as that was the only thing on the menu and my supposed equal and I laughed at our two mentors.  They were hilarious, they got along and they were welcoming us into their world.  They wanted us to smoke with them.

I ruined that possibility.

After dinner, before we made our way out, one of the girls asked if we would like “to join in.”   She could’ve been asking if I wanted to join in shoe shining competition and I wouldn’t have known the difference.  I started to ask if she meant we were getting dessert when my fellow sophomore put her arm in front of me. Instead of answering verbally my friend gave the upper classmen a huge sigh and a head shake.

That’s the part I really remember  A sigh.  And a head shake.

She knew what they were talking about.  She knew and the sigh meant she wanted to partake.  But what about me?  What about the naive companion she was babysitting?  I was not only ignorant of anything of importance that was going on but she assumed, rightfully, that I would’ve flipped out at the thoughtful offer.

My parents should high five each other if they ever read this.  They successfully scared their firstborn into thinking the consequences of smoking were unrecoverable, dirty, and punishable by an eterinity in Hell.  Maybe.

Or maybe not.  Call me, friends.  Give me an offer I can’t refuse.

Change

Recently I had the opportunity to go on a boat ride.  A pontoon boat, usually lame and/or filled with 16 year old individuals filled with tequila shots.  This time it was filled with my boyfriend and his family, still unsure whether the purchase of a pontoon was a good decision.  

It was.  

The boat, despite all appearances, flew at a swift 40 miles per hour.  We were in low country, and watching the reeds stay still in contrast to our movement gave the impression we were hovering over the water at an incredible speed.  Moments before we boarded to head home in the direction of Beaufort, I received news from an employer, not only devastating, but inconvenient for limited time with my loved ones.  
The ride, while beautiful, was as though we had taken flight and I was left without any thought or senses in the front of the boat.  The sun had been setting and at this point was caught in the haze of the storms that had missed us.  I sat, with my sunglasses on, only tears to keep my feelings in check.  While the rest of the boat laughed and clung to each other in our journey home, I sat, staring ahead to whatever birds or dolphins might show themselves, and let my sadness fall randomly and quickly behind me, making contact with individuals who would mistake them for spray.  

Dog Day Christmas

I have spent the last three days trying to distract my dog from the Christmas tree.  Unless the poor girl is distracted by things that dogs become distracted by (other dogs, sausage, the ping of the carbon monoxide detector), she has been trying to solve the rubik’s cube that is getting to her presents.  And yes, she knows she has presents.  Call it my mother sending strong mental signals from Missouri to her granddog or just plain ‘ol quality puppy products, but the holiday gift box that my animal child has received is scented to a degree that calls on her wild animal senses.  

The first indication that she suspected something occurred after leaving her side for a moment brief enough to only grab a glass of water.  Upon returning, she was in the exact same position I had left her, only now joined by a brand new toy, sitting at her feet.  “And HOW did you get THAT?” I asked, obviously impressed and wanting her to know.  Her response was to stare.  

Because round one was so successful she spent day two standing as if made of stone, snout pointed toward the back of the tree, face in the sap covered limbs, until I made her a deal.  Yes, I would give her another “early Xmas gift” if she would cool it.  I didn’t wait for a response but instead reached dramatically into the gift box to reveal a *gasp!* genuine elk bone.  Lily sat instinctively, as though I might decide her demonstration of of the most basic of commands might seal the deal.  

Her elk bone, while substantial, broke into two pieces as she gently lunged for it.  Eyeing me suspiciously, she paused for a moment with one half in her mouth and backed into the living room.  Her gaze never left me as her jaw went slack, letting the bone hit the carpeted floor five feet from where I stood.  Still maintaining eye contact she sprinted back to the discarded piece, promptly grabbing it and sashayed, tail up, to devour her femur.  
Day three.  I don’t know what is left in the gift box.  I don’t want to know.  Possibly a stuffed animal, maybe a bull pizzle, perhaps a baked good.  What Lily doesn’t understand is that it is not, in fact Christmas yet.  I have now distracted her from her Grandmother’s gifts by bribing her from MY Christmas gifts…. Which means I will now have to buy her new gifts.  And yet… she is not fooled.  

lily