The Runaway Dog and the Bad Samaritan

Yesterday, I parked my car outside my building after returning home from a trip to the suburbs with my dogs, Duncan and Woody.  When I opened the back door to leash them up, Woody shot out of the backseat in a move that reeked of  premeditation and started running around my neighborhood like a dog gone mad.

I was taken completely by surprise, as Woody is a nearly 10 year-old lab who usually spends all day playing a game of “Guess What I’m Pretending to Be” (the answer always being “big furry floor rug.”)  This 85-pound dog,  who has taken to groaning loudly every time he has to “break character” and get up from lying down (usually only to check his food bowl), was now dashing up and down the streets of my neighborhood, leaping over hedges like a gazelle, and artfully dodging capture with the agility of a doggie-ninja.

Panicked that he would get hit by a car (and cause irreparable damage to the car), I ran after Woody, waving my arms in the air, and calling his name.  He ignored me.

I ran back to the car to get the bag of potato chips I was snacking on during the drive.  Then I ran after Woody again, waving the bag of potato chips and yelling “Who wants a treat?!  Woody, do you want a treat?!  Yummy yummy treats over here!!”  Still, he ignored me.

My panic rose at his unresponsiveness to the offerings of food.  If food wasn’t going to get him to come to me, I didn’t know what would.  I got desperate and started tossing potato chips at him every time he ran by, in case he didn’t believe that I actually had something for him to eat.  As the potato chips landed on his back, he simply turned his head to catch one or two without breaking his stride.

Clearly, this dog was toying with me at this point.

After 10 long minutes of this, I was out of breath, out of potato chips, and running low on dignity.  Then, a ray of hope shined on the situation.  A man walked across the street with his dog.  He had undoubtedly witnessed at least some of my humiliating antics to catch Woody.  Perhaps he decided to cross the street in an attempt to help, like any good samaritan would.  Falling right into the would-be trap, Woody spotted the man’s dog and trotted over to sniff hello.  I thought, Hallelujah!  

Relieved, I jogged over towards where the man and the two dogs were standing, already thanking the man profusely for helping me catch my runaway dog.  As I approached, Woody stopped sniffing the man’s dog and looked at me with ears perked, obviously getting ready to bolt again.  I did not slow down, however, as I fully expected the man to reach down and take a hold of Woody’s collar to keep him from running off again.

The man did no such thing.  Instead, he just stood there, watching with mild interest as Woody took off again.  With no time to process my own disbelief over what just happened, I reinstated the pursuit.  As I passed the man, I heard him commentating the scene to his dog:  “Oh look, Max.  Your new friend is running away again from his mommy.  Look how fast he can run.  Look at that fella go!”

W T F ?

Eventually, I managed to catch Woody, but not without several more embarrassing chase scenes through people’s backyards, culminating in my tackling Woody while he was autographing his 27th tree of the day.

As I dragged Woody home, both of us exhausted, I mentally cursed the Bad Samaritan for being a bad samaritan and couldn’t help but wonder [bitterly], What is the world coming to?  Chivalry, it seems, is not only dead, but has become a big joke.  Very sad indeed.

(p.s.  Today, Woody is still recovering from his wild escapade and is about to set a record for number of consecutive hours of snoring by a dog.  Oh, the wondrous joys of being a dog-owner.)

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Creepy Coffee House Guy

Realized the other day that I had not left my apartment (other than to take my dogs out to do their business) for 5 days.  Appalling.

Not wanting to officially qualify for “recluse” status, I packed up my laptop and notebooks and went in search for someplace to work outside of my apartment.  My search landed me in the most cliché of all cliché places frequented by writers — the coffee house.

Upon entering the coffee house, I had fears that the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and the sounds of whiney indie acoustic bands would drive away the muse.  But these fears were quickly erased.  Unlike the brightly-lit Starbucks down the street, with its eternally smiling automaton baristas and verging-on-Ikea contemporary design, this independent coffee house was…pleasantly bohemian!  Mis-matching furniture, warm light from incandescent floor and table lamps, and bookshelves crammed with used books welcomed me in like an old friend.  This wasn’t just any old coffee house.  This was a writer’s heaven!

Excited to get to work, I chose the biggest, lumpiest sofa in the place and set my things down on the beat-up coffee table facing it.  I whipped out my laptop and looked over the drinks menu as it powered up.  Decided to officially declare the coffee house as the best place on the planet when I saw “Small, Medium, and Large” as the size descriptors.  (Have long been convinced that whoever came up with the size descriptors at Starbucks must be a man, for only a man could think it rational to describe a small as “Tall” and a medium as “Grande.” Just sayin.)

I closed the menu and, as if right on cue, a male server walked over to take my drink order.  “I’ll take a medium house blend with milk, please,” I said happily to him.  As he scribbled my order down, I began typing on my laptop, looking forward to enjoying my reasonably-priced coffee beverage.

But then something strange happened.  Instead of leaving to go put my order in, the server just stood there…and stood there…and stood there.

I looked up at the server and saw him grinning at me.  After another beat or two of this inexplicable, silent grinning, I began to grow uncomfortable.  Had I placed my order wrong or something?  Maybe this was like that sandwich place downtown where the servers verbally abuse you if you don’t place your sandwich order using their quirky lingo?  Except here, you get the silent treatment instead.  

As I wracked my brain for other ways to phrase my coffee order (“cuppa joe with cow juice”? “milky muddy water”? “brew-dizzle of da hizouse”?), the server finally broke his silence: “Have I seen you here before? You look really familiar.”

Oh no.  Please don’t let this be happening.

“Nope.  First time,” I said tersely while trying to smile just enough to be polite but not enough to encourage him further.  I turned my eyes back onto my laptop screen and started busily typing at a rate of nearly 300 words per minute in the hopes that Creepy Coffee House Guy would take a hint.  No such luck.

Instead, he sat down next to me on the sofa.  Nightmare.

While continuing to type at breakneck speed, I stole a quick glance at him, noticing all the warning signs that I should’ve picked up when he first walked over:  The worn corduroy pants.  The long hair tied back in a straggly pony-tail.  The black-socks-and-Birkenstock combo footwear.  The bracelet made of wooden beads on his wrist.  The tattoo of Steven Seagal’s face on the side of his neck.  This was no ordinary can’t-take-a-hint guy.  He was something much worse — Asian-fetish guy.

Suddenly became very self-conscious of my Asian-ness and tried to think of ways to play it down.  Needed to adopt any means possible to throw Creepy Coffee House Guy’s Asian-radar off and make him go away.

First, employed subterfuge to counter Asian stereotypes underlying his fetish.  Asked him what the tip on a $2 cup of coffee is and added, “Geez, I’m so bad at math!”  Effort was foiled when he said my coffee was on the house.  Damnit.

Next, upped my Asian fetish counter-attack by taking it to a personal level.  I pointed to his tattoo of Steven Seagal and scoffed, “Seagal is such a hack.”  Braced myself for his “Seagal is the greatest martial-artist-slash-actor who ever lived” diatribe.  But it never came.

Instead, I caught him grinning creepily at something on the coffee table.  When I realized what it was, mentally cursed my sister for the cute Hello Kitty charm she gave me that was now sparkling way too conspicuously on my key chain, which I had placed on the coffee table.

Without thinking, I grabbed an empty mug left on the table by a previous customer and slammed it down onto the key chain, crushing the Hello Kitty charm to smithereens.  There!  If that doesn’t scare him away, I don’t know what will.

“Wow!  I take it you’re into martial arts, then.  I had a feeling…” Creepy Coffee House Guy said with a knowing wink.  He sidled closer to me on the sofa.  “So, what are you working on?  Are you a student?  What’s your nationality?  I love kung fu movies, do you?  What’s your favorite sushi place?  I saw the best animé film the other night…”

Ran out of coffee house screaming.  Vowed never to leave my apartment again.

My First Taste of Crack Cocaine

Tried crack cocaine for the first time yesterday.  Hmm.  Probably should’ve prefaced that statement with a bit of backstory first…

A Bit of Backstory:  Was feeling sluggish yesterday morning, struggling to make a dent in my daily word count, when Serial Killer Who Lives Upstairs knocked on my door asking if I had a blunt object he could borrow.  As I handed him a hammer and told him he could keep it after he’d used it, he thanked me kindly.  Wanting to return the favor, he said, “You look like you could use a pick-me-up.  Wait here – I have just the thing.”  He ran upstairs to his chamber of torture, came back down and handed me a small plastic bag.  “Enjoy!” he said.

And enjoy I did. Continue reading

Day of Reckoning – Editor’s Comments Due Today

Today’s the day I’m supposed to hear back from my editor about my manuscript.  Have been looking forward to this day with intense excitement and dread for 3 weeks now.

Not sure what time I’ll hear from editor, so have been sitting at my desk with eyes glued to Gmail tab for over 3 hours already.  Every time the number of unread emails listed on the tab jumps from “253” to “254” (yes, I realize that’s a lot of unread emails and I should be better about deleting SPAM from my inbox), I think, “Oh, God. It’s here!”  Quickly click on Gmail tab, only to be simultaneously disappointed and relieved that it’s just another email from one of the gazillion job sites I signed up for (out of panic due to writer’s block) sending me news of more “opportunities” to work for the man.  DELETE.

Downstairs dog providing his usual soundtrack of anguished yelps and howls.  Except today, his sounds of suffering playing in the background is actually a pretty good reflection of my own emotional state.  Started thinking that maybe he hasn’t been suffering the anal probes of aliens all this time, but has actually been reaching out to commiserate with his anguished neighbor upstairs.  Decided to —

254!  254!  254!!  OH GOD!  IT’S HERE! Continue reading

Stop Distracting Me, Mitt Romney!

The day has been full of constant distractions.  Been up since 8 a.m. toiling away to fulfill dreams of becoming a successful (read: “able to pay her rent with book proceeds”) writer.  Yet, efforts have been foiled time and time again by unwanted distractions.

Have no choice but to lodge an official complaint against the following perpetrators, and will follow up with legal action if distraction continues.  Distractors be warned…

Distraction #1:  Presidential Race

Dear Candidates of the 2012 Presidential Race (GOP candidates in particular),

Please stop saying and doing things that require the rest of us to take time out of our day to ridicule you.  It is very distracting, not to mention time-consuming.  The sheer volume of ridicule-worthy behavior you put out there, though admirable in terms of both productivity and hilarity, only adds to our already full plates. Continue reading

Is Your Pantry Armageddon-ready?

Was about to go to bed last night when a thunderstorm started outside.  A thunderstorm in the middle of January?!

Thought, “Oh Lordy, it’s Armageddon.”

Whenever there’s any weather anomaly, that’s my first automatic thought.  Have Al Gore to thank for that.  After all, if it weren’t for Al Gore’s efforts to terrorize the world with his global warming charts and monotone warnings about melting polar ice caps, I might still have rational thoughts about the causes of weird weather.  (News flash, Al — ice melts.  That’s what ice does.  You can’t claim to discover that fact AND the internet, too.  That’s just greedy.)

Out of morbid curiosity, decided to inspect my pantry to gauge how long I could survive on its contents, in case the thunder and lightning were, in fact, signs that the 4 Horsemen were answering Al Gore’s call.  Contents of pantry (largely condiments and canned tomatoes) failed to promise more than a few days of survival.  Disappointing.

Bag of dog food sitting at far end of kitchen floor caught my eye.  (Yes, I’m going there.)  Suddenly found myself wondering how long I could survive on 10 lbs of dog food when one of my dogs trotted into the kitchen.  He looked at me, then looked at his bag of dog food, then eyed me with suspicion.  I shrugged and said: “Survival of the fittest, Duncan.  It’s nature’s law, not mine.” Continue reading

Countdown: 5 Days til “The Moment of Truth”

Some of you have asked about the countdown calendar on the right side panel of my blog page and what it’s all about.  It is a countdown to the day my editor will get back to me with her comments on my manuscript.  Needless to say, I am excited, nervous, and scared all at once.  (99% scared. 0.5% nervous. 0.5% excited.)

Been having nightmares about what her feedback will be.  Recently, I dreamed that I got my manuscript back in the mail with a single Post-It on the front, displaying the only comment my editor had:  “I don’t get it” (with a big frowny-face drawn next to it.)  Other nightmares have produced such comments as:  “I know this was your 7th draft, but as they say in publishing, ‘8th time’s a charm’!” and “Your mother was right — law is a much more practical career choice.”  And my personal favorite:  “This sucked harder than Snooki on spring break.”  Ouch.

Though I had initially intended for the countdown to be a self-motivator, I realized as soon as I put the widget on my panel that this could end up being a big mistake.  After all, there’s enough pressure in trying to break into the enviable business of being a mid-list author who lives paycheck to paycheck, peddling her stories to anyone in need of something better to read on their morning train commute than the free copy of RedEye.  Do I really need the additional pressure of blundering through the process in front of my friends, family, acquaintances, former co-workers and classmates, and the 948,204 people connected to me through them (according to FB)?  And, of course, at the heart of that question lies another question almost too scary to even ask: “What if, in the end, I fail?”  For someone who in grade school used to hide any less-than-perfect grades on homework from her parents by flushing them down the toilet, that’s a scary thought. Continue reading