Sunday, November 30, 2014

Five reasons why I need to get off Facebook

Tonight is the last night of November. I posted here every day of the month, a goal that's not as easy to achieve as you might think. November always leaves me sleep-deprived, much like someone taking care of a newborn or a 2-month-old puppy might feel. This month has been especially rough, because I've had a lot of papers to grade, and that always sends my muse Dolores running for the TV remote. I've also struggled with the topics that drew me to write: feminism, dating, addiction. I didn't find much humor in most of them. In fact, I thought many of my posts this month came out dark and cynical. It's a place I'm in these days.

One overwhelming influence on my mood is Facebook. I'm addicted, and by that I don't mean to underplay the terrible effects of drug and alcohol addictions, but I can't look away. My mom always said I was afraid I might miss something -- what writer isn't? -- and Facebook is an evil, time-wasting temptation that I can't resist. It's my connection to the world when I'm home alone, and for this extreme extrovert that's no small thing. Sometimes I think it keeps me sane; other times I know I'm wasting my life away staring at any one of my screens looking for the next high.

So here, purely to give myself a kick in the ass, are my 5 reasons why I should get off  Facebook.

Disclaimer: I'm not saying my 530 (as of this writing) Facebook friends shouldn't post whatever the fuck makes them happy. The point this list will make is that I need to make better use of my time.

1. Dog and cats. I fear I may soon find myself guilty of adding to the overwhelming clutter of cat and dog photos and videos that clog my feed. Look how adorable Poet is when he chews his ball, wraps up in a blanket on the couch (won't happen on my couch), rolls in the dirt, sleeps, sits in the sun, takes a shit .... We all think our own pets are cute as fuck, but really, who else does? Nobody. Every once in a while Facebook will automatically play a video of a cat who lets a toddler crawl all over him or a dog that saves a kitten from a raging flood or a golden retriever who nurses a tiger and I'll watch with tears in my eyes, but most of the time, I don't give a shit.

Disclaimer: I think my friends should post whatever pet photos and videos make them happy. I just don't need to spend my time looking at them. This shit is all about me, Queen Reticula.

2. Football. I don't give a fuck about football. Football is one of the reasons my decades-long marriage failed. I'm not going to go into details, but that's time my kids and I will never get back. Fuck football. The only time I cared about football was when I was dating a football player in high school. If I wanted to watch football, I would watch it on TV or go to a live game (definitely more appealing), but the constant stream of comments about every play and every fumble would not enhance my experience of either. And they certainly don't when I'm not watching and don't give a shit. If I did give a fuck, I'd be watching, not reading Facebook. I wouldn't need a minute-by-minute stream of commentary. (Same with soccer, baseball, and any other sport I don't give a fuck about.)

Disclaimer: Football fans probably love hooking up with each other on Facebook and sharing their excitement. This is not my problem. My problem is that I don't need to spend my time scrolling through a bunch of football posts. I've always been a person who would rather play than watch.

3. Food. I don't give a shit what people ate for dinner or lunch or breakfast. OK, maybe if it's a special meal at a restaurant I might like to try. But honestly, even then, if you want to share food with me invite me out to eat. Photos of the food you eat are meaningless to me. I cook and eat food every day. That doesn't make me special. I don't feel the need to share a photo of my scrambled eggs or my grilled chicken breast or even my blue-ribbon cowboy cookies every time I make them. Nobody gives a shit.

Also .... beer. I hate beer. I don't need to know how many beers my friends have untapped, especially if they're 3 blocks from my house, and I wasn't invited. I mean, yay, you're out having a good time with friends and I'm here watching Netflix. I'm so happy you unlocked that hoppy IPA that would taste like skunk piss to me. I might feel different if an app called Uncorked came across my feed.

Disclaimer: If it makes people happy to share their food and beer consumption, why should I care? I don't. But again, I don't need to spend my time looking and scrolling past. I'm rarely interested, and sometimes I really do wish I could be there instead of here watching the fun scroll by on my feed.

4. Celebrity deaths. Is it not obvious to most people if they see on their feed that a celebrity has died, and they've seen it 25 times, that most of the rest of us have already seen it too? Why post it again? Is it that compelling to have to share the tragic news? We know already. We saw it too. And for some of us, the constant barrage of information about, for example, suicide can trigger some ugly anxiety or even panic. I had to stop reading Facebook for several days after Robin Williams died, and I'm not the only one. I don't think sharing and speculating and digging up the dirt is respectful of the dead. It's a feeding frenzy. Lots of people die and commit suicide. Let's focus on the people near us who need help and support. They aren't celebrities, but their lives are just as important.

Disclaimer: Some people think they're spreading information about suicide, drug abuse, or various diseases that will help their Facebook friends. Maybe. Or maybe it's like blasting a sermon from your car speakers and hoping somebody will find Jesus. In any case, if my friends need to grieve over dead movie stars in public, that's up to them. My point is that I don't know those movie stars, and I need to spend my time with the people I do know and love.

5. Quizzes. Fuck those stupid quizzes. I get sucked into them too. The last one I took was what my job would be in a post-apocalyptic world. I posted the results to Facebook. Who gives a fuck? Nobody! Nobody cares about the color of my soul or what Princess Bride character I would be or which Hogwarts house I'd live in. Nobody gives a fuck, including me. But still I take those fucking quizzes, because it's such an easy waste of time. It's such an addictive way to do anything but the things that would create real value in my life. Like write a book. Like invite people over for a party. Like .... almost anything. Almost anything contributes more value to my life than taking one of those fucking quizzes.

Disclaimer: Take the fucking quizzes if it makes  you happy. I'm sure the people you're sitting with at a bar don't mind that your face is in your phone. Hell, they're probably taking the same quiz. Hell, I probably am too.

Do you see a thread here? The problem isn't my friends or what they post on Facebook. The problem is that I can't look away from Facebook. (Joe, you were right to save yourself, but who will save me?) As Mary Oliver would say, I have one precious life, and I spend too much of it on Facebook. I don't have time for half an hour of yoga, but I can spend an hour and a half on Facebook. I don't have time for a long phone call to a friend (remember those?), but I have an hour to spend on Facebook. I might even get out and find somebody to play music with, but I'm on Facebook instead. I don't have time to write a book, but my Facebook friends will back me up when I say I've written an entire fucking book this past year .... on Facebook. I take forever to answer an email, but I shoot off Facebook comments all day. I have a problem.

And yet ... I have reasons. Just like any other addict, I have reasons. I'm connected to people I never see in real life, and wouldn't but for Facebook. Today I saw a photo of my wonderful Aunt Shirley, who has suffered with dementia for years, sitting in her wheelchair with a puppy on her lap, smiling. I would not have seen that if not for Facebook. I saw a TED Talk given by a teenager that I will share with my students this week. I saw a plea from a dear friend asking people to support her in fighting heroin addiction, which killed her stepson a few weeks ago. I was invited to several parties. And in the wee hours of the morning, I posted a link to last night's blog post, and a bunch of people offered their support with my new puppy blues. A friend reached out to talk about the return of his cancer ... another friend asked me if I wanted to go dancing ... people helped me decide on a name for my puppy and gave me advice on training him ... I saw photos of my niece's family putting up their Christmas tree in Iowa ... I signed up to bake some cookies so my  neighborhood can give homemade gift baskets to organizations that have supported us. I saw this Sir Perky bottle opener.

I am conflicted. I get so much from Facebook. I truly do. I'm in contact with friends from high school I hadn't seen in decades. I can show photos to  my mom. I know when my friends need my support, both online and in real life. I can get support from lots of people when I have a problem.

And most of the people who read my little blog come here from either Facebook or a Google search for something + vaginas. I'll get 200 hits from the Ukraine alone just because I included the word "vagina" in this post. It's no small thing though, because although I don't get a lot of comments here (or any, most days), I do get comments on Facebook. And people follow my links from Facebook and then I'll be at a party and someone will say something about  my blog and vaginas and suddenly I'll have a new reader. Facebook feeds me almost as much as it sucks away my time and my life and all those things I could be doing, because we only have this one precious life, these precious minutes and hours.

Do people who shoot up heroin give the same excuses? How many books might I have sitting in a drawer somewhere, probably unpublished, if I didn't spend so much time on Facebook?

I wish somebody could throw me a life preserver, but I fear I'm on my own. Most of you suffer from the same addiction I do, and Joe can't save us all. (Joe is one of the few people I know who refuses to get on Facebook.)

I don't know what the answer is. Maybe we could all be more careful about what we post on Facebook, and yet, I know my friends are posting what's important to them. As am I. What the fuck is a person to do, once the poison has gone down the hatch?

Puppy update: I put this at the end because I know some of you don't give a shit about my puppy. Fair enough. I don't give a shit about your pets either. Read on or don't read on.

I've finally decided on a name, and it's one both of us like: Poet. That's my final answer. It's perfect for this puppy who loves to lie under my desk chair and sleep, even when I'm in the other room. As soon as I let him down in my office, he runs to my desk chair and curls up underneath it. Seems like Poet is as good a name for him as any other.

I've decided I might like him a little bit. We had a somewhat better day today .... or maybe I'm just adjusting to his asshole puppy ways. I think I cleaned up 5 or 6 pees as opposed to 7 or 8 yesterday. We went on a long walk, at least 3/4 mile, and he did great on the leash. He's sitting and shaking on command, most of the time. And he's not howling as much when he's in his pen. Still more than I'd like, but not as much.

I think this little guy and I will eventually form a bond. It will be a battle between his peeing and puppy nipping and my impatience, but tonight I have a little more faith that we'll make it. Something about his puppy exuberance gives me hope.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A post about what's-his-name

Of course he's adorable.

People keep asking me if I just love my new puppy. And the honest answer is no, I do not love my new puppy. In fact it's probably a good thing his breeder lives 3 hours away, because right now, as I'm writing this, I would give him back to her and never regret it. As I write this he's howling and whining in an old playpen, where he has a cozy bed and toys and all the accouterments of a lovely dog apartment. And yet ....

He is not happy. He would only be happy if he had the entire run of the house, so he could chew on my laptop cords and pee and poop on the floors and chew on the furniture and the carpets and anything else he can get his needly little teeth into. He's fine in my big kitchen as long as the gate isn't across the door. Once the gate goes up, he's a whining, howling, writhing mess, throwing himself at the gate in an agony of abandonment. Even if he can see me right next to him. Especially if he can see an entire roomful of people eating Thanksgiving dinner.

I'm fucking exhausted. I haven't gotten more than 2 hours of continuous sleep since Tuesday night when I got 5. Human infants are easier than this puppy, and I've raised both.

An example: Tonight Doc/Shade/Poe (I can't decide on a name. More on that later) had been sleeping under the coffee table for a couple of hours. I got him up to go out, and so he wouldn't sleep while I was awake and howl while I was trying to sleep. I carried him outside, because he will stop and pee on the floor on his way to go out. He peed. I praised. We came in and played for a while. Then about 12 minutes after he'd peed outside, he peed on the living room rug. We had words and he went out again. He came in again, we played, and 10 minutes after he'd gone out the second time, he peed on the living room rug again. He went back out. This, to me, is an excessive amount of peeing, and it's also typical, so far.

I hate to admit it, but when Drake came home a few minutes after the 8th in-house pee (in spite of at least 15 trips outside), I was in tears. It doesn't help that I haven't left my house since Tuesday night, except to take the puppy on a couple of walks. I don't do so well when I spend so much time alone ... or with a peeing, howling puppy. In fact, I'm feeling a bit stabbity. I know why I wanted a dog. I can't remember why I wanted a puppy. I want to skip ahead a year to the dog I will -- whether he likes it or not -- be living with then.

Hard to believe they'll be the same
size in a year or so.
As for his name, I was certain Doc was the name. Positive. Ask Coraline, who is just as fixed on LuLu. It turns out Doc isn't going to work. It's too close to Duke, my son Drake's dog, and he's confused whenever I call the puppy. So I've been experimenting with new names. My Facebook friends gave me lots of suggestions. Yesterday I decided his name would be Shade ... but he didn't really respond to that name. and the s and a were too drawn out. So I tried Cash (the man in black) and Poe (as in Edgar Allan) and Redmond (my boyfriend James Spader's character on Black List). He seems to like Poe best, so for now, Poe it is.

I know this is the most difficult time with a dog ... at least until the end. If I weren't so fucking tired, I'd take it all in stride, but this little guy is particularly persistent. Even in this big house, I can't put him far enough away that I can't hear the howling, with ear plugs. He's loud. Really fucking loud. And he's in a playpen right beside my bed where he can see and hear me. It's not like he's alone.

Look who's whining now.

A year from now, I'm sure if I write about Poe the story will be much different. It had better be. He's already doing better than I'd expect on the leash, and he fetched the ball and brought it back to me several times. He's even learning to shake already. He's not dumb. He's just loud and stubborn.

Guess what. I'm a redhead. Enough said.

No, I'm not enjoying my new puppy much right now, but this too will pass. Please, dear sweet baby Jesus, let this too pass before I lose my poor exhausted mind.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Feminist Friday: “Hi, I have a vagina ...

...and a whole new set of rules. Nevermind what’s worked for several thousand years.”

Ooops. There goes my vagina, getting everybody into trouble again. Out there building bridges and shit. Next think you know, it will want to vote.

Someone recently sent me this video (below), which is a clip from a longer discussion between Paul Elam and Tom Golden, two whiners on MANstream Media. They're men's rights activists who are angry that women are trying to play with their GI Joes. That quotation above came from the video. Go ahead and watch it. I'll wait. I'm not going to watch it again. Their false sincerity doesn't do anything for me or my vagina.

Kind of makes me want to check my vagina at the door, because, you know, I'd hate for my vagina to ruin that good thing men have going where they bully each other and that makes them more productive. And even teaches the newbies among them how to use a nail gun. Although we all know "gun" is a misnomer in this case, because a guy can't actually shoot himself in the leg accidentally. He'd have to press it really hard against his leg and release the nail .... OK, nevermind. This man's penis knows all about that shit obviously, and he doesn't need some fucking blogger with a vagina to nag him about his ignorant example of how men learn their hard-knock lessons.

His point is that men were productive and got shit done until women brought their vaginas into the workplace. And now men aren't allowed to be men and harass each other when they make mistakes, because there's a bossy vagina in the room saying they have to play nice.

Wait. How did harassment in the workplace become about men harassing men? I suspect  we might find an argument fallacy lurking around here. The problem with harassment in the workplace usually occurs when men harass women. Let's say, although I don't have a statistic, but let me just throw one out there .... Let's say 99% of harassment cases are men harassing women. It has nothing to do with nail guns or men ribbing each other good-naturedly. It's a much bigger, nastier issue that happens when men can't use their manners when a vagina is in the room.

It's like when my sister's boss used to tell her if her sweater wasn't keeping her breasts warm enough, he'd be glad to warm them up with his hands. She was a single mother with a toddler and an old car on its last legs. I guess he figured she couldn't afford to lose her job so he could say anything to her he wanted. That's harassment.

But apparently a bigger problem with harassment in the workplace is that women use their vaginas to stop men from teasing each other when they shoot themselves in the leg with a nail gun. Alrighty then.

But inserting our vaginas into the workplace isn't the only sin women commit. We've also taken over the schools, gotten rid of all competition (except football, soccer, baseball, track, swimming, debate team, math olympics, ACTs, SATs ....)

Anyway, vaginas have ruined the education system. Elam: "Look at the education system now. People graduating left and right unable to read at a grade level …uh …uh …what’s appropriate for their grade level. In some cases being functionally illiterate with a high school diploma …” Vaginas did that. Because young men aren't allowed to compete. And "that's how boys learn. They compete."

He conveniently leaves out George W. Bush's legacy of No Child Left Behind, which requires schools to test and test and test kids until they have no time for real learning. He conveniently leaves out that state legislatures and governors, the large majority of whom are male, make the laws that require schools to test and test and test. It's the low-paid vaginas who are struggling to teach in a system that has been corrupted by politicians and corporate interests, which are, once again, run by men. He leaves out that kids are so busy with homework and sports and all the other shit they do that they don't have time to hang out with friends and play a game of pickup basketball. They don't have time to think, or even to sleep enough, although they do have time for video games (more competition). Those issues are driving our education system into the ground, not the vaginas.

He needs to get his fucking facts straight. 

But let's follow his flimsy argument. Let's look at whether boys are allowed to compete. First, as I said above, sports. Second, tests. Are tests not competitive enough? Because it seems to me that the grading system and all that testing is highly competitive. I know a little bit about that, and I can tell you my students who want to excel compete for those A's. Sometimes for B's. So there's no lack of competition in schools, and it doesn't seem to be working.

The real problem is penises. That's right. Penises. If the penises stayed out of the schools and let the teachers -- the majority of whom are women because it's a low-paying job -- do our jobs, maybe kids would graduate with a higher level of reading and critical thinking skills.

It's easy to blame the vaginas, but the argument doesn't hold water. Having to work with vaginas, having to "cooperate" (which seems to be a loaded word for these guys that means "castration") shouldn't affect their ability to do their jobs. Men still have their balls, even if they aren't allowed to teabag women or men in the office.

I suspect these guys haven't seen a vagina in a very long time though ... maybe never. Maybe that's why they're blaming the entire downfall of world on women. I mean, the problems they're whining about can't have anything to do with corporate greed (mostly men) or crooked, incompetent politicians (mostly men). Nah, the problem is vaginas. Keep the vaginas at home in the kitchen and all problems will be solved. Men can get back to building bridges and boys can get back to learning how to read, so they're not such pussies when they get out into the workplace.

My sister, by the way, didn't put up with her boss's harassment forever. She filed a complaint about him and quit the job. She found another shitty job, and then another that wasn't as shitty, and now she manages a plant and makes over 6 figures. Now that takes balls a vagina.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

I  just took a little  jaunt down the memory lane of Thanksgivings past here on Reticulated Writer. I started doing NaBloPoMo in 2011, so that's how far back the Thanksgiving posts go. If I weren't doing this crazy "blog post a day" thing, I certainly wouldn't make an effort to crank out a Thanksgiving blog post after a long day of cooking, cleaning, eating, playing games, watching Netflix in a stupor, and cleaning up dog pee taking care of a new puppy.

I'm glad I started doing it though, because I enjoyed looking back and remembering what made each of those Thanksgivings special. Last year I was working on my new house, trying to get it ready to move into. I was painting and packing and hauling until I dropped every day, but I took off Thanksgiving to spend the day with kids and friends. I had hoped to get into my new house by Thanksgiving, but it was a couple of weeks later before that happened.

The year before that was a difficult year, a year of betrayals. It hurt for a minute, but I just invited new friends to dinner and started making new traditions. Funny how much even a traditional holiday can change in only two short years. I never forget betrayal, but one thing I've worked on unpacking this past year is knowing what's my business and what is not. Other people have to live with their actions, but I don't have to let them camp out in my head. A lesson to give thanks for.

In 2012, I butchered turkeys. Turns out that was a one-time Thanksgiving event, but one I'm still glad I participated in. I have to admit, it's much easier and causes less mess to buy the turkey at Kroger a few days before. It doesn't give me much to write about though.

Today we celebrated our first Thanksgiving in my new house. I'm still working out the kinks, but it went pretty well. I need to buy a big dining room table with 3 or 4 leaves, but a new dishwasher, a gas fireplace, and some storm windows come before that. Owning a new old house means I never run out of things I need or want to buy.

Finally, this is Doc's first year with me. Poor little guy. He got thrown headfirst into his new family yesterday. He's doing OK though. He cried a lot last night and this morning unless I was holding him, but he's settling in. One guest or another held him most of the afternoon, except while we ate, but he's spent the evening on the floor next to the couch where I'm sitting. I hope he sleeps tonight, because I am exhausted. 

As the night winds down, I've got the turkey carcass on a slow simmer in the roaster so I can extend the holiday into winter with some turkey soup. The dishes are mostly washed -- thanks to an assembly line of guests. The refrigerator is filled with leftovers. And even the dogs enjoyed the trimmings off the bird. Plans were made for Christmas dinner, but I'm not looking that far ahead tonight.

Here's wishing you a happy and contented Thanksgiving. However you spent the day, I hope you found something to be grateful for. I am grateful for a holiday that's only about gratitude. Yeah, I know a lot of people have made it about shopping for Christmas, but I've never done that. I'll pay more just to keep the holiday of thanksgiving pure.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


After a long day of helping my co-teacher's sophomores rehearse the skit they wrote for their performance tonight, grading papers, teaching classes, rehearsing some more, eating pizza, selling baked goods, clapping and snapping for the freshmen and sophomore writers, cleaning up, going to an afterparty at a downtown artist's loft, drinking Chardonnay, eating good dark local chocolate ... OK just a taste of smooth expensive tequila .... OK, maybe one more taste because that's so smooth, Susan Tedeschi singing "Angel from Montgomery" leads to Van Morrison and then Charlie Parker, and finally it's after 1:00 am and I'm so glad I only live a few blocks away, because I'm so fucking tired .... and fuck me, I still have to write tonight.

I open a bag of lime and black pepper chips, because fuck my diet, it was blown with the pizza I ate with my students at 6:00 this evening. What the fuck am I going to write about tonight on Dating Tuesday when the fact is I don't even date? I dunno .... I'll take this Facebook quiz while I procrastinate. What song should be my sex anthem? I answer honestly; I always do. The quiz answers:

We'll let this song and video speak for itself. Go ahead, watch it.

Yup. Borderline porn. Right? This ridiculously sexy song via one of the sexiest women to ever make music does a great job putting your loins into perspective. The song itself is hot, it'll make you blush. But its not TOO hot. "Justify My Love" is all about being sexy for the right reasons, and being confident in your abilities. So while you may be more adventurous (and public) than most, you're also a class act in the end. And what's sexier than that?

I dunno. Maybe there's something to these quizzes. Madonna and I were born within three weeks of each other. And when it comes to dating here's where I stand: I'm the best woman I've ever been. Ever. I can justify that. I don't want to be alone, but at this point in my life, anybody who comes close had better be able to justify my love. Otherwise, I'll just wait for the next adventure.

I dare you to watch this video and not want .... something. Oh, Madonna, you are a sexy, sexy beast.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A story of kindness

My good friend The Hot Italian read my tarot cards for me Sunday. I was asking her about a difficult decision I vagueblogged about last week. I'm not going to write about my reading, because parts of it were kind of hard to hear, but one thing the cards said is that people might be noticing that my sunny exterior has slipped and my hard-won cynicism is shining through instead. I'm going to admit, writing about dating and feminist issues and even vaginas can make me a little testy. I might even slip into a sarcastic tone at times.

Tonight is not one of those nights though. Tonight is a warm, fuzzy story night. My apologies to those of you who are my Facebook friends and read a shortened version of this today on my Facebook page.

My story starts last December. I was painting 12-foot-tall walls and ceilings every day until my muscles gave out, and I could no longer lift the 8-foot ladder to move it even a foot. I would quit, go home, and pack a bunch of boxes to move over the next day when I went to paint. Winter hit hard with temperatures near zero and snow storms every other day. I was paying utilities at two houses, and I had a deadline for moving out of my old house. I was working my ass off 7 days a week, and I had no time for shit to go wrong -- even though plenty did.

In particular I needed my van to run and run well, so of course that was the time I blew a hole in my exhaust system. My 11-year-old van sounded like a jet engine, lost its get-up-and-go, and was using three times as much gas as usual. My regular mechanic found the problem for me, but he couldn't fix it. He told me I'd have to find a muffler shop that does welding, and to be careful because most of them would love to rip me off if they could. He said to have any shop I went to call him if they wanted to sell me an entire new exhaust system, and he'd set them straight.

I was exhausted every day from getting this big old house ready and moving in the bitter winter. So I put it off for several days. Finally the noise got so bad I couldn't listen to the radio without turning it up really loud, so one day on my way to paint, I stopped in at the muffler shop that's less than half a block away, just on the other side of the gate.

I told the owner I was moving into the neighborhood and explained what was going on. He said to bring it in the next day. I left it there while I painted, and when I went back he showed me the bad length of pipe they'd taken out. He charged me $75 for the repair, and said he hoped he could be my neighborhood mechanic.

It seemed important to him that I find him trustworthy. I suspect that's because some people wouldn't, and not just because he owns a muffler shop. He speaks with a strong accent that is possibly Middle Eastern. He's a Muslim, or so his artwork and the prayer rug next to his desk would suggest. I just wanted my van fixed for a reasonable price though, and he did that. I don't care where he was born or what religion he practices.

Fast forward 10 months, and I'm finally throwing a housewarming party. The only problem is parking. I live on a gated cobblestone street with parking on one side. If the neighbor a couple of houses down is taking up his usual 5 or 6 spaces, I sometimes can't find a close place to park my own van, much less 25-30 of my friends' cars. So I walked down the street and asked the owner of the muffler shop if I could borrow his parking lot for the night. He remembered me even after 10 months, and he said, sure, as long as it was after they had closed. Problem solved. The lot was full most of the night, and my friends got to park closer than they would have on the street. They may not have known it, but I'm sure my neighbors were happier too.

After the party I kept thinking I needed to bake something and run it over there to thank him. But I'm a writer. I procrastinate. As I write this, you've been in bed sleeping, or doing what you do there, for hours, and I'm not. If I could get paid for what I do best, I'd either get a job taking tests or procrastinating -- if I ever applied. Weeks went by, and all I did was think about baking that thank you gift.

Then last week I heard another hole in my exhaust system. My van again got loud, doggy and started sucking gas. I'd just had it into my regular mechanic to replace a tire mount and the battery, which cost several hundred dollars. Of course one more thing had to go wrong.

So Saturday I baked some pumpkin muffins (because what else would you bake to take to a muffler shop?), piled them on a paper plate and walked to the muffler shop. The owner was standing outside with a customer, but he came right over to me. I handed him the muffins, and he said, "Please! You don't have to do this. I was glad to help you ... ."

I brushed that off, and told him I needed to bring my van in for another patch. He said to bring it in Monday any time. As I walked away, he was already peeling the plastic wrap off the muffins and showing them to the guys in the shop.

I drove my van there after school today about 3:30. I handed him the keys, and he said it would be done by 5:00. I really hoped I wouldn't go back only to have him tell me I needed an entire new exhaust system. Like most women, I've been burned a few times, so even with a couple of good experiences in the bag, I can't fully trust. I hoped it would cost $75 like last time, and I'd be good for another year.

I walked back over at 5:00, and waited for about 10 minutes in the waiting area. I wish I'd taken a photo, because there was a whole bag of white bread nailed to the wall. I watched Denzel Washington stick something up the ass of some guy who was tied to a car and then blow him up on the ubiquitous little TV while I waited. I kept looking at that bread, thinking I'd ask the owner about it when he came in.

When he finally did come in, he apologized for not seeing me there when I arrived. I started to tell him it was OK and to ask why he had a bag of white bread nailed to his wall, but he handed me my keys, said "Don't worry about it," and rushed back out the door.

I followed him with my hand in my purse, digging out my wallet. "How much do I owe you?" I said, following him to the garage door with its big sign that warns customers not to enter.

"Nothing today," he said, and he kept walking.

"Thank you," I called after him, and he just waved his hand back at me and didn't turn around.

I'm going to admit, I teared up as I walked over to my van. Something about people doing nice things when they don't have to always gets to me. It's these small acts of kindness that keep hope alive, cynicism at bay.

I started my van, and it sounded like it should. It was fixed, just like that. And it didn't cost me anything.

So today, in this month when we give thanks and list on our Facebook walls those things for which we are grateful, I'm feeling thankful for the kindness of someone who is a relative stranger, who touched my cynical heart and softened it for a bit. We probably have little in common except the desire for good will between neighbors, but today that feels like a powerful thing. If only I had a magic spell that would make it grow and spread ... but I think that's not how life works most of the time. We have just these small opportunities, and it's up to us to take them, and appreciate them, and spread the sweet magic they bring to our lives.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A reading list for cold winter nights

I realized something odd as I contemplated what I might say here tonight. I don't think I've ever written a book review or even recommended a book, even though a lot of people ask me what I like to read. I think the closest thing to a book recommendation I've written was for the vagina coloring book.

I confess I've never been a particularly big fan of short stories in the past, but I've been teaching short stories and flash fiction to my students this semester, so I found myself drawn to several excellent books of short stories. Since the holidays are upon us, and some of you might have time to read a book or two during your winter vacations or on days you're snowed in, here are a few of my recommendations for new short fiction collections.

First, because the queen of all things fiction belongs at the top of every list, I must recommend Margaret Atwood's latest book, Stone Mattresses. Atwood just turned 75, and she's at the top of her game. If you haven't read her before, I recommend you go on a binge and read all of her books. She's written over 35, including speculative fiction, short stories, poetry, children's stories, and a decent book on writing. She's Canadian, so her punctuation drives me nuts sometimes, and I found a disappointing typo in the first story, but that's nitpicking. I couldn't put this book down, and I even forced my creative writing classes to read sections of it.

I have to share one instance of coincidence that happened while I was reading this book. One of the stories is about a not-so-distant future society in which a militant group decides all old people should die and stop using precious resources. They force all the workers out of a nursing home, leaving the residents to fend for themselves, and then ..... well, you'll just have to read the book. We all know that could never happen though, right? Of course not. And yet, just after I read that horrifying story, I heard a true story on NPR about a custodian and a cook who stayed and took care of residents of an assisted living home in California after the owners abandoned it. Maybe Atwood's future isn't so far-fetched after all. It's a sobering thought for us Baby Boomers.

The second book I want to recommend excited my friend The Professor so much he was posting passages on Facebook. The book, by Wells Tower (is that the coolest name ever?), is titled Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned. I checked it out from the library and loved it so much I had to buy a copy. I also insisted on reading my favorite passages to my students, my co-teacher, Elvira, and anybody else who would listen. Here are a couple of passages from the book:

“The bell on the cat's collar roused her. He'd brought her something: a baby pigeon stolen from its nest, mauled and draped on Jacey's pillowcase. The thing was pink, nearly translucent, with magenta cheeks and lavender around the eyes. It looked like a half-cooked eraser with dreams of someday becoming a prostitute." -- "Wild America”
And this one:

"Not long after the affair had run its course, Bob and his wife were driving to town when Vicky looked up and saw the phantom outline of a woman's footprint on the windshield over the glove box. She slipped her sandal off, saw that the print did not match her own, and told Bob that he was no longer welcome in their home.” -- "The Brown Coast"

This book is Wells Tower's first collection of short stories. I'm looking forward to book number two, whatever that may be.

Finally, my third recommendation, also a first for the author, is Karen Russell's collection titled St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. These are some of the most imaginative, magical stories I've read in a long time. The title story is about little girls who were born to werewolf parents and then taken to be raised at a Jesuit school for girls. 

As the other two books on this short list did, Russell's little book of 10 short stories made me feel like a preschooler writing nonsense on the walls with a crayon. Surely we shouldn't both be called writers. Short fiction is not only difficult to write well, it's often difficult to read -- highly literary and often so character-based the story is nonexistent. Not true of any of these books, although Tower's book might come closest to that genre of short fiction. All three of these books  kept me riveted, wanting more.

I'm not going to tell you any more about them though. Just read them. Let me know what you think.

(David Guterson, author of Snow Falling on Cedars, also has a new book of short stories titled, Problems with People: Stories. I'm only about halfway through it, so I'm reluctant to recommend it. I've enjoyed the stories I've read, and I expect to like the rest of the book. Do they excite me as much as the stories in the 3 books above? Not really, but so far they've been a solid read. If you love short fiction, you might as well check the book out.)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Why are people laughing at Louis CK?

I love Louis CK. He can say the sharpest, most insulting, and yet brutally honest words, and people still laugh at what he says. He's showing them their dirty underwear, and they laugh at their stains and poop tracks with him. Because he really does call out the worst behavior, and still people think he's hilarious. That's the beauty of irony, and he is the master. It's funny .... but not really.

Take this video of him talking about dating.

He's brutal, and he's dead right about all of it. He talks about how people like to tell single people, "There's someone for everyone." Do you know how many times I've heard that? Always well intentioned, and I certainly take it that way even though I'm not blind. I see all the smart, attractive single women out there who will never find a mate. I love that my friends think I'm worthy of a happy, healthy relationship, but as LCK says, "Nope. Not at all true. And stop sayin' it because it's mean to people who never find anybody." The audience laughs. Probably because they're all there with their husbands, wives, partners or dates. It's easy to laugh at people who are "lightspeed ugly and nobody kisses them on the lips even." Hilarious, isn't it? His solution is that people who feel sorry for the uglies could "find one and fuck them tomorrow ..."

And there we go: from dating to fucking in under a minute. Just like a man. More on that.

He talks about how people don't fuck down. Only up and sideways. About that, he's wrong. He does say some women fuck down because men persuade them that they, the men, are really ups. But that's not why so many women fuck down. First, we've been told, and we tell ourselves, that we're way further down than we really are. That we don't deserve better. Second, women have to choose from the available pool of men 20+ years older than them who are willing to date them .... much less fuck them. Third, economics. How many dumpy old men do you see with much younger wives teetering on heels and dressed in clothes from Forever 21 hanging on their arms? A lot. Go to an expensive fundraiser and check that shit out.

His main point though is how much courage it takes for a woman to say "yes" to a man when he asks her out, and he nails that one too. (I know somebody with a penis will make the argument that it's just as hard to be a man, and they're the ones who have to do the asking and risk rejection, and my reply is that you'll just have to stand in line behind date rape, cheaters, emotionally unavailable assholes who would prefer to just borrow some tits and a vagina for the night ... I could go on. Being the one who asks isn't the worst thing that can happen. Neither is being told no, as long as you accept it and don't act like an asshole about it.)

I notice LCK isn't laughing. He smiles a few times, but he knows this shit is serious. Maybe the audience does too; maybe their laughter is their way of agreeing and shaking their heads. For those of us who have been discouraged out of the dating pool -- and who don't want those pity fucks he talked about, thank you -- it's not really funny. It's painful. When he says it's dangerous for women to say "yes" to a date, he's not kidding. I'm not sure why that's funny, and I suspect he knows it's not. Dating is dangerous on both an emotional and physical level. The physical we all know about. Men are bigger than women.

The emotional is just as disheartening. I will never go on a date again without expecting that my date will either break the news that he's married (but his wife won't fuck him, so it's her fault he's cheating) or has a girlfriend. And if he doesn't confess, he's lying. And when I finally call him out on it weeks later, his reaction will probably be anger, because he got caught. 

In my experience, women need courage whether they say "yes" or whether they say "no." It can easily turn nasty either way.

LCK's final bit is probably the most disturbing part of this video though. (And let me restate that I love this video. I just don't find it particularly humorous. Ironic, yes.) The worst part is when he describes the difference between the woman and the man on a first date. He says they're walking along, and she's trying to make a connection with her date, and her date is a "blind dick in space just thrusting in independent directions hoping to find pay-dirt."

Wow. This is why she got a mani/pedi, waxed, shaved, plucked, curled, straightened, slathered makeup, bought a new outfit, forced her feet into high heels, tried to lose 5 pounds in 2 days, sneaked a look at Cosmopolitan in the checkout line, made sure at least 2 friends knew where she was going and were on call for check-ins so they could call the police if she didn't text from the lady's room, let hope into her heart ..... This is why she did all that? So he could blindly thrust his penis around in space until it fell into her vagina?

If that's what it's like on Mars, I'm happy to stay here on Earth ... except that the Martians are running the show here too. Check out straightwhiteboystexting if you don't believe me.

I don't think he even realizes he's fallen into the same trap a lot of people do: he's confused dating with fucking. It's hard not to, when half the world's population wants to fuck, and the other half wants to date ... or at least date first.

The real reason I love Louis CK so much is because he's a man, and he gets it. He fucking gets it, and he lays all that cynical bullshit out there. His bit on rape jokes is brilliant. I'm not saying I don't know any men in real life who don't get it. My son does. He's been my white knight in quite a few disturbing Facebook conversations of a feminist nature. I have a few male friends who understand, and can articulate their understanding.

I sometimes think I shouldn't write about dating. First, because I don't do it. It's hard to keep trying when every time I dip my toe into the dating pool I touch a turd. And second, because anything I have to say sounds just as cynical as Louis CK -- only he makes it funny -- and I hate that reality is reality and neither I nor Louis CK will change it by calling it out.

And yet as cynical as I am, I still have a bit of hope the size of a flu virus that someday I'll sit here at my elderly snail of a computer and tell you I was wrong. I hope I'll be the one assuring my single friends that there's somebody out there for everybody. (OK, I'm never going to do that.) I doubt my immune system is going to let that virus live much longer, but we'll see.

Click on more Louis CK videos. He's a worthy waste of time.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A pause for station identification ....

One of the most difficult aspects of NaBloPoMo is having to write an entire post, edited and reader-ready, every day. Some days I stumble before I make it to the finish line, and today is one of those days. Or should I say tonight, because it's 2:30 in the morning as I write this.

I promise I have been writing, and not just in my head. But I can't finish tonight. I've been cooking up fresh pumpkin to put in the freezer and make into pies for Thanksgiving. I baked some pumpkin muffins to take over to the guys at the nearby muffler shop to thank them for letting my guests park on their property when I finally had my housewarming party last month. I also need for them to put my van up on their lift and find a tiny hole in the exhaust that makes me sound like a truck rally as I drive through these city streets. I went to a play tonight at the magnet school for the arts where I teach, and while I was there I bought a winged gargoyle for the front of my house that is too heavy for me to unload from my van. And then I ran to Kroger to get supplies to make dressing and  pie for an early Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night.

As the muffins baked and the pumpkin simmered on the stove, I wrote. But I couldn't finish. Both the writing and the dirty dishes will have to wait until tomorrow. I've run out of steam; I blame that on Friday. It's as good an excuse as any other. I either have to decide to write until after 4:00 am, or I can finish that post tomorrow.

Most nights I tough it out. Tonight I need sleep. I hope you'll forgive me.

This is WRET .... signing off.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My favorite holiday is just one week away. I love Thanksgiving because it's the only holiday when we celebrate those things that sustain us: family, friends, food. It's not about religion or patriotism, costumes or love. It's purely about the bounty of the season. I refuse to see it as a shopping holiday. That's blasphemy.

In the week leading up to Thanksgiving I would like to focus only on laying in and preparing food, making sure everybody who can fit in my dining room knows a place is laid for them at the table, and making a home for my new puppy, Doc.

Life is never that fucking simple.

I will do all of those things, but in the midst of it all, I have a decision to make that's nagging at me like sand in my underwear. A really hard decision. One that will affect me, and one that will affect other people. I have a choice to make, and none of my options are good ones.

I fucking hate that.

I can't write about the situation that brings me to this decision, this choice, although if I did, the decision might be made for me. And that might be a relief, but to do so wouldn't be ethical. But if I choose one direction, I will end up writing about it, and I will post it here. If I choose the opposite, I'll just have to swallow it.

I have a choice to make.

One thing that makes this decision hard is that one choice could be a sacrifice and I'm the lamb. I've had to do that before: in my church, in my homeschool group, teaching at the university (that cost me my job), and in intimate relationships. So many stories. So many swords I've fallen on because I thought I had to do what I thought was right. And here I am again.

Whistle-blowers in the movies become heroes, but in real life, they often find out they're blowing a dog whistle. And the only people who hear the whistle are the top dogs, who are more likely to beat you with a newspaper than to toss you a bone for being all honest and upright and ethical and shit. Other people will simply be annoyed by the subliminal noise and do whatever they can to make it go away. And then life goes on as before, except for the whistle-blower, who finds herself whining outside the pack.

Enough of that metaphor though. It's not the first time I've brought a knife to a gunfight. In fact, that's kind of my MO. How's that working for me, you ask? I've lost friends, I answer, but I know I did the right thing. Was it worth it? you ask. I'm not sure, I say. Some days I'd rather be the person who lets other people take the fall. I'd like to wear the Miss Popularity sash for a minute.

It's also not the first time I've wished I had a mentor, someone whose advice I valued over even my own. And yet, I've never had a mentor in all my many years of life. Lots and lots of wise friends, but never a mentor. It's just not me, I guess, but I wonder what that would be like. I've simply never met anybody I want to put on that pedestal. Not that I don't value the advice of my friends and family, and most of all my kids, but I've never had a mentor, someone to lead me through life.

Maybe what I really miss is having a best friend. How pathetically junior high is that? Or maybe I just need a therapist. Recommendations? Or maybe I need a sponsor. Is there a 12-step program for people who are addicted to fixing what can't be fixed?

Back to the difficult choice .... I seem to find myself in positions like this more often than other people do. And my friends will agree. People expect it now; they wait for me to step in and be the bad guy. And even if they don't know me like that, I must put off the lemon-ammonia scent of someone who will take the bullet for everybody else if they just wait long enough.

Fuck me for being born a red-head, because that's got to be it. That's got to be why I'm fated to walk through these fires. The hardest thing about being a fire-breathing perfectionist is that  nothing is ever perfect, and it's hard to tell what's good enough and what I should walk away from. Either way, I'm going to disappoint somebody -- myself or a lot of other people. Or more likely, everybody.

I've vague-blogged long enough. How do you make hard decisions? Who do you go to for advice? Do you have a mentor? Will you be my mentor? What's your default when you have 3 choices and none of them are good? Why isn't life ever fair?

I wish I could filet this issue and lay it out here on a soggy newspaper for you to examine, but obviously I can't. Depending on which way I swing, I either will blow the whole thing up and write about it here one day soon, inviting more haters to circle .... or I'll slink off and never say another word about it ... unless I write an anonymous letter and post it on a dim, smoky back room bulletin board where nobody will ever read it or even fucking care.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dating Tuesday: Charles and Star

Today is Dating Tuesday. And in dating news today, Charles Manson is going to marry a 26-year-old. He's 80 years old, and in case you've been sleeping under a tree for 40 years, he's the most famous lunatic of the 20th century, and he's been locked up since the 70's for ordering his cult to murder people, including a pregnant actress. The whole thing was bloody and horrifying by standards of the time, and he wasn't even there, but everybody knows it was his fault.

And now he's marrying a 26-year-old who calls herself Star  and who, other than the X she carved into her forehead to match the swastika carved on his, is a pretty young woman who could probably get a date with someone who's not the age of her great-great grandfather. If she wanted to.

Single people all over the world shared the same thought when they heard the news of this announcement: What the fucking fuck? Charles fucking Manson can get a date in prison, and I can't! What the fuck is wrong with this world? Would I fare better in prison? Do I have to start a cult to get a date in this helter skelter world?

Good fucking question, and one I asked myself too. What does Charles Manson have that I don't? I mean besides that swastika scar front and center in his Botox area.

Let me be clear about one thing: This is not about getting laid. That's not what I mean when I talk about dating. I can get laid any time I want to -- although mostly by married or partnered people. I choose not to .... for reasons of self-preservation. It's not about getting laid for him either, because Charles Manson can't get laid. Or at least not by his youthful fiance. It's against the rules. He gets one hug at the beginning of a visit and one after. Like a first date ... or like I would imagine a first date might go. It's been a while.

I'm also not saying I want to date Charles Manson. Obviously I'm too old for him. I'm used to that though. I'm too old for most men who don't live in a nursing home, and the best I can do is try not to be bitter about it.

I certainly don't want to get married. Not to Crazy Charlie or anybody else. That's the last thing I need. I'm not looking for a commitment when mere honesty is so rare.

It's just that in my secret heart -- and please don't tell anybody I said this -- I would like to date, but the obstacles seem insurmountable. My friends say I'm choosy, and they don't blame me, especially given my past experiences. It's true. I'm not going to get involved with someone who's obviously not right for me just so I can go on a date -- not even so I can write about it here. People's feelings are at stake -- mine being the most important to me.

Well intentioned friends and strangers assure me, with all of the naivete at their disposal, that there's somebody for everybody. And thus, by the rules of "glass half full" logic, somebody is out there for me, and it's only a matter of time before he finds me or I find him. My problem, of course, is that I'm not sending enough positive energy out into the world to attract him to me. I'm letting my past experiences interfere with my use of attraction magic. If I were doing my part by ignoring all the evidence and believing hard enough in this mythical man, I too would be enjoying a healthy, happy relationship like Star and Charlie do.

I'm rambling tonight. I ramble when I talk or write about dating, because I don't want to sound bitter or upset any of you with my pessimism. My friends love to hope for me. Hope that my Charlie is out there and that he will someday find me and make me into a couple again. Because it would be so nice for everybody if I were half of a couple again. But that's another post.

Congratulations, Charles Manson, you sexy old beast you. You've proven without a doubt that the dating world is an insane asylum, and I'm better off buying a dog and creating an imaginary boyfriend who is only attached to me. But if you ever write a dating book, I'll be first in line to buy it, because obviously you've got this shit figured out, old man. If only I had your charisma.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ready .... let it go!

My granddaughter Coraline is three years old now. Three is the age of agency, and Coraline grabs hers hard and holds on to it with a death grip. She may not understand how everything in the world works, but what she does grasp, she locks down hard with all the stubbornness she can muster. Like how rock and roll works. She knows. And how to drink tea: pinkies up.

And the words to the theme song from her favorite movie, Frozen.  She was singing the song in the back of my van last week, and I was amazed that she seemed to know all the words. I was also surprised to hear her sing, "Ready, go ... Ready, go ...." I asked her, "Is that the name of that song? I thought it was 'Let It Go.'" She told me no, it's "Ready, go." OK.

Thursday she was here for our weekly visit, and she wanted to watch the video on Youtube. So I turned it on my computer, and we watched. Or I thought we were watching until I realized she wasn't with me. She was behind me acting out every one of Elsa's moves as she sang along with the song. It was adorable, and I thought she pegged both the acting and the lyrics.

And then I realized she was singing what the words sounded like, but she wasn't actually singing the words and had no idea what the lyrics meant. And she was singing, "Ready, go ... Ready, go ...."

"It's 'Let it go,'" I said.
"No, it's 'Ready, go,'" she corrected.
"Really, Coraline, I'm looking at the words right here on the screen. It's 'Let it go.'"
"It's 'Ready, go.'"
"Listen." I sang the words. "See? 'Let it go.'"
"No, Mamá, you're wrong. It's 'Reeaattty, go.'" She sang it for me.
"I'm looking right here. Right here! Come and look ... If only you could read." I realized I had no way to prove my rightness to her.
"Who told you it was 'Ready, go?'" I tried another angle.
"Well, Carlie was wrong. It's 'Let it go.'"
"Well, Carlie is my best friend. You're my best grownup, Mamá, but Carlie is my best friend."
"Your best friend can be wrong, you know," I said.
"She's not though." Coraline wouldn't bend. (Multiply these lines by 20 to get a true idea of the conversation.)

I have to mention what an earworm that song is. I can't get it out of my head. Coraline spent the night and most of Sunday with me this past weekend. We watched the video of the song several times, so it was firmly stuck in my head. With more frequency than I'd like to admit, I'd burst into the chorus. I'd be cooking or driving down the highway in my van and without thinking I'd start singing, "Let it go ... Let it go ... Don't blah blah blah blah blah."

And from her carseat behind me Coraline would sing at the top of her lungs, "Ready, go .... Ready, go...."

And then we would have the same conversation as the one above again. We had that conversation at least a dozen times during our 24 hours together. Maybe more. I even showed her a video where we could see Demi Lovato sing it, and we could read her lips. Or at least I could read her lips. Coraline wasn't persuaded, because her best friend Carlie knows everything. I think I'm going to teach Coraline to read early so I can prove to her that Carlie is wrong, and I'm right.

That wasn't the only thing we disagreed about though. She's super excited that I'm getting a new puppy, but when I told her my new dog's name is going to be Doc, she said, "No, Mamá, you're wrong. Your new puppy's name will be LuLu."

"I don't like LuLu," I said. "My dog's name will be Doc."
"No, LuLu," she said confidently.
"I'm not kidding, Coraline. My dog's name is Doc."
"No, it's LuLu."
"No, it's definitely not LuLu. I don't like LuLu, not even a little bit." (Multiply these lines by 15.)

Later, when we weren't arguing over the "Let It Go" lyrics, we argued over the new puppy's name in the van. Same conversation as above times 5, and then I said, "Why do you want to name my dog LuLu? Do you know who LuLu is?"
"Yes, she's something something fairy queen and something something ...." I couldn't hear the story because she talks so softly in the van I have to make her repeat everything 3 or 4 times.
"That's not who LuLu is and you know it," I said.
"LuLu is your new puppy," she responded. "Ready, go! ... Ready, go! ..."

I realize it may sound like we argued all weekend, and I'll admit we had these two ridiculous conversations over and over. Neither of us gave an inch -- she didn't because she's three. I didn't because I'm right.

We were at Walmart buying a couple of dog beds and a chew toy when I said, "I wonder what color collar and leash I should buy for Doc."
"LuLu wants pink," Coraline said.
"His name will be Doc, and I don't think pink is the right color for a big, black dog. I'm thinking bright blue."
"LuLu wants pink," she insisted.
"Look," I said. "You already named my transgender male betta fish Lady Fish. Doc is a boy dog. I'm not going to name him LuLu and buy him him a pink collar and leash." I heard the guy standing behind us laugh.
"Your puppy will be a girl, and her name will be LuLu," Coraline said calmly, as if I hadn't even spoken.
"I've already chosen him, and he's a guy, and I will name him Doc," I said, just as calmly.
"LuLu. Your puppy is named LuLu."

I stopped the cart. "OK," I said. "We're going to settle this once and for all. You know who LuLu is, don't you?"
"She's your new puppy," Coraline said.
"No, LuLu is what you call your grandpa's wife. You call her LuLu, right?"
"Yes, I think so," she said.
"When you go to visit Grandpa and his wife, you call her LuLu, don't you?" I know the answer, of course.
"Yes, and your dog is going to be called LuLu too," she said.
"Much as I appreciate the irony of naming my dog after her, I think some people might not see the humor in it," I said. "The dog's name can't be LuLu. It has to be Doc."
"No," she said. "It's LuLu. And she'll be a girl doggy."

The overnight ended about 7:00 last night, and we were at a standstill. As she walked out to the car holding Rock Dad's hand, I sang after her, "Let it go .... Let it go ...."

And she sang back, "Ready, go .... Reattty, go ...."

She must get that stubbornness from her father's side. Or maybe it's just because she's three, but I know she'll see things my way eventually.

Or maybe I will just name my future new puppy LuLu. It's not such a bad name for a dog, is it?

Stubborn as a 3-year-old