Sunday, January 3, 2016

359. New Year, New Optimism, Less Stuff

1 week later, Frank's eye is much improved. It had gotten pretty nasty-oozey for a bit there. I was worried. But it's on the mend, and as long as the fur grows back I think he'll look like himself again in no time.

Maybe it was the constant rain and white out skies last weekend, but I was feeling really morose as the year came to a close. But then I woke up on New Year's Day to a bright blue sky and sunshine pouring through my windows, and I instantly felt like everything was good again. I've never really been that into blinding sunshine and hot weather, but the winters in Saint Louis feel so much heavier and depressing than the ones in Seattle. It's probably the cold. Even if Seattle is damp, it's usually still warm enough to take your dog to the beach or go for a jog. The sky is different here too. It's like a hard, icy white-grey, whereas Seattle feels more like a soft charcoal blanket. I've really enjoyed the last few years living here, once I recovered from the initial shock of moving. But I think I'm starting to get restless again, and I'm not sure I want to stay after I finish school.

Back to the optimism though. The new year came on like a light, and I felt like I had better find a way to use that new energy. I signed up for the January Cure from Apartment Therapy, which is a totally nerdy thing to do, but I'm pretty excited about it. Yesterday I spent three hours sweeping, then vacuuming, then mopping, every inch of the upstairs, and the difference is amazing. I'm not sure we've ever mopped the bedroom since we moved in two years ago. How embarrassing.

The second piece of the weekend's assignment was to buy some flowers for your house. After so much effort spent on the floors, I got a little carried away with the flowers. The Wizard and I went to the wholesaler where we bought our wedding flowers, and I ended up dropping $50 to get a bouquet for every room in the house. I felt sort of bad about it for a second, but then, I never buy myself flowers and I felt like I had earned them. And then I took us out to dinner, just because I was feeling so good about everything.

While I was busy moving furniture around to oust all the dust bunnies, I started to notice a lot of junk we've been hanging onto for no good reason. Stuff like the old PS2 and Xbox that we never ever play because we have a PS3 and Steam games, so the old consoles were just sitting under the bed collecting tons and tons of dust. Once we decided to get rid of them, I got pretty ruthless with everything. So far, I've gone through piles of mail, old gift bags (why are these even here?), Christmas lights that don't work properly, cute shoes I can't wear because I walk right out of them...

My next goal is to tackle the sunporch, which has essentially become a garden shed instead of the adorable hangout space it was when we first moved in. I'd like to get it cleaned up and replace the light fixture that broke apart with something I build myself. Sort of a functional sculpture. There's a million other glaring projects I need to get to as well, but I'm not sure how many I can fit in before school starts again.

Monday, December 28, 2015

358. Making Art is Harder than You'd Think

Lately I lack social skills. You think I'm lying, but I can invite a few long-time friends to my house...the kind I've known forever and who know the worst about me, and I still manage to embarrass myself. Somehow I manage to say the worst possible thing, and I spend the next 10 minutes backpedaling to try and correct this malformed concept that came out of my mouth, even though it never made any sense in the first place. I think I've grown too emotional, too distant, and I've bottled everything I want to discuss with anyone, no matter how small.

Now it's all big.

I can't look a friend in the eye without bearing some dark secret I've been sitting on. Except my secrets aren't dark, they're just simplistic observations that I thought sharing might air out. Does that even happen? Airing your grievances results in a newfound understanding of one another and everything after is hunky-dory?


My dog has a black eye today. Not a real black eye, but it's all swollen, so it's more like pink and he can't seem to hold it open all the way. It happened yesterday, when I put him outside for a minute to pee before we left to see a movie.

Ok, not any movie, it was Star Wars.

He came inside and it looked like he had a cut on his eyebrow, but by the time we came home it was all swollen like Rocky after a fight, Today it was even worse. All I can think about is what sort of nail or opossum he took to the face. I started painting him yesterday. He has a really nice shape, and he doesn't tear apart every sentence that comes out of my mouth.

I don't really talk to anyone but him anymore.

Friday, December 19, 2014

357. “You Talked to Me First: Drawings of Kiersten Torrez” by Peter Pranschke

From Peter Pranschke's exhibition at Museum Blue, which closed December 7, 2014. I love his use of color and the unfinished, graphic novel sort of quality his drawings have. This exhibit was the subject of my extra credit essay/art review for Intro to Western Art, so I thought I'd post the images here as well. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

356. Found Dog

Saturday morning I was standing in front of my house attempting to photograph some snails with my Olloclip, when a very dirty little black and white Shih-Tzu walked up and sat down next to me. I said hello and petted her for a second, thinking her owner had to be somewhere nearby. After a few moments, the dog began milling around my front yard, and eventually came back and sat next to me again. She was wearing a collar, but her only identification was a rabies tag. Thinking she must have gotten out of a nearby yard, I walked across the street to where my neighbor, Marvin, was working on his truck, and asked if he recognized her. Marvin thought she must belong to the history professor who lives a few houses down, but I thought she only had one dog, a Dachshund. I knocked on the history professor's door, but when no one answered or seemed to be looking for a dog, I took her inside in order to write a few notes to leave on doors.

As I was looking around for some paper and a pen, the dog disappeared into another room. I found her in the bathtub, where she stood grinning and wagging her tail. Seizing the opportunity, I gave her a bath, blow-dried her, and combed out her mats, all of which she tolerated in the way small dogs who are used to getting groomed do.

I spent the morning walking the neighborhood with her, trying to find anyone who might be looking for her. Everyone claimed they'd seen her around, but no one could tell me who she belonged to, only a general direction of where she might live. I tried calling the number for animal control which was printed on the tag, but the number came up not in service. I called my vet's office and asked them to check the number on the rabies tag, but she wasn't in their database. They told me animal control had moved to a new location in the past year, and gave me the new number. I'm guessing there are now thousands of animals living in this city who have incorrect phone numbers on their rabies tags, which is terribly useful when someone finds they actually need to call about something.

Afterward, I stopped by Kinkos and printed out signs, which I taped to all of the stop signs in a four block radius. I would have put up more, but the dog didn't seem to be traveling very quickly when I met her, and I didn't think she could have gotten very far on such short legs. Kinkos isn't exactly generous on price when it comes to using their ink, either.

That afternoon, I posted an ad with a very clear color photo on Craigslist, then drove her to Petsmart to have her scanned for a microchip. She was very excited to ride in the car. No chip, and Petsmart's database is designed in a way that won't allow you to look up a dog by rabies tag number without pulling dogs from every Banfield location in the country. I left my information and went home, where we resumed wandering the neighborhood trying to find anyone who might recognize her. The block captain for the 4000 block of my street said he thought he recognized her, but then his wife didn't. They did show me that my Craigslist ad had been reposted to the neighborhood group on Facebook, however, which was nice, especially because I didn't even know we had a neighborhood page.

On Sunday, I received a reply from another neighbor in the area saying that she had seen the post on Facebook, and that the same dog had apparently been found by someone else a month prior. Unfortunately, there wasn't really much information in the post that would tell me who the owner was, just a general suggestion to check behind Friendly's, the neighborhood sports bar.

That afternoon we tried searching in that vicinity, even checking with the bartenders themselves. One very large woman actually came to her door wearing only a green v-neck scrub top, fake eyelashes, and no pants. Her grey and white Shih-Tzu came flying out the door in front of her and immediately tried to attack the one attached to our leash. She apologized profusely about the dog attack, but not her lack of pants, and happily speculated for at least five minutes about the owner being a very old man who walks her past her street almost every day. As we thanked her again and walked away, the Wizard leaned in to me and whispered, "Did she have pants on? I don't think she had pants on".

The story was the same every time. Everyone thought they had seen her before, but no one knew where she lived. By this time, we had encountered three other black and white Shih-Tzus who looked similar, if not identical, to the one in our possession, which made me suspect that this was a very common dog that could easily be mistaken for hundreds of others. We called the neighborhood groomer, Chris, thinking maybe she belonged to one of his clients. He took down our information and let us know he'd call if anyone contacted him about her, but the shop was closed, so we couldn't bring her by until Tuesday. More emails were exchanged with the nearby mystery neighbor, but she had no further information to offer.

This morning, I awoke to find a new response to the Craigslist ad, from "Tiffany", which read:

"I think that's my baby girl!! (Phone number)"

I *think* is not exactly a confident response, especially when I had included such a clear photo and description of the dog. I decided to call animal control first, to see if they could trace her rabies tag number. Within a few minutes, I had a call back from animal control saying the dog's name was Missy, and that she belonged to Miss Ella D___, and that Miss Ella had been in the process of printing up posters when she called. Animal control gave me Miss Ella's phone number, and we spoke for a few minutes. Miss Ella lives around the corner from me, and does in fact use Chris the groomer for Missy's styling needs. Based on our conversation and the confirmation from animal control, I felt very confident I had found the right person. I told her that I walk Missy over tonight, after I got home from work.

Annoyed by the idea that someone might be trying to score a free dog from Craigslist at someone else's expense, I then replied to "Tiffany", and let her know the owner had been found. I then suggested that she try a local animal shelter if she wanted a dog, since there are plenty of great dogs in need of good homes.

"Tiffany" responded shortly afterward with the following email:

"That is my dog!!! My mother let her out and some lady found her and then gave her to some bitch n south county. And my dog got out from her because she's trying to come back to me!!!! And how isn't she mine according to animal control!!!?? How old is the rabie tag???? Because the number I gave u isn't the same number I had when she got her shot

[photograph of disheveled looking, ungroomed Shih-Tzu with similar markings]

Sent from my iPhone"

I responded that I was sorry she had lost her dog, but the dog in her picture was not the same dog as the one in my ad. Additionally, I wondered to myself how she could think that her dog had ended up in my neighborhood in South City, when she had stated that her dog had been given to a woman in South County. It would take approximately 20 minutes for me to reach South County by car. Were I a ten pound dog with very short legs, I suspect it would take quite a bit longer to travel such a distance.

"Tiffany" replied almost immediately:

"I'm telling you that's my dog I know my dog when I see her. The pic is a very bad pic from some lady that found her and I didn't even recognize her in that when i seen her. Can I come see her please just to make sure if she is or isn't my dog

Sent from my iPhone"

I feel bad for her, if she did lose her dog, but I responded with no, on the basis that she had failed to provide me with zero evidence that this dog actually belongs to her, and I had already located the real owners. You couldn't even provide you own photo of your alleged dog? Red flag. Big red flag.

"Tiffany" responded once more, just to be sure...

"Is her name Sue?"

No. Her name is not Sue. Who names a dog Sue?!

And so, after a very exciting weekend in the city, Missy will go home to her people tonight. As a parting gift, she's getting a brand new i.d. tag with her name and phone number, from us, just in case this ever happens again.

Because I'm betting it will.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

355. Vacancy

There is nothing quite so agonizing as being a writer who has nothing to say.

Friday, March 21, 2014


Some days have a way of wearing you thin.

Monday, January 20, 2014

353. Five Minutes Spent with Maria do Céu

Whisper all the things you meant
into the wind
let them wander 'round the block
before they make it back to me

I'm ok with waiting
but not for everything
this time I'll make an exception

do you think you're worth it?
would you know it if you were?
do you find me impatient?
would you say so if I were?

I'm ok with waiting
but not for everything
this time I'll make an exception

Talk talk all you like
I'm just listening to the wind
let your thoughts go walking
I'll be waiting here for them

Thursday, January 2, 2014

352. Hello, Two Thousand and Fourteen!

To briefly summarize the last year, things have been pretty freaking wonderful.
-I was in a garage rock band for about 6 months
-Took piano lessons
-Studied figure drawing and graphic design
-Won a national competition for short fiction
-Got engaged to the love of my life
-Bought a house
-Hosted Thanksgiving dinner for mine and my fiancee's families
-Got closer to friends old and new

Yep. That was a pretty amazing year. I don't think I had any resolutions, going in. I don't usually need any. But it's good to have goals, and I definitely have a few to jot down for 2014...

-More viola
-More music making in general
-More photography; macro, iPhone, film, dSLR, all of it
-More art of any kind
-More yoga
-More running
-More time outdoors
-More patience with myself and others
-More gardening
-More reading
-More ridiculous adventures

Just more.

Oh, and two major life events coming up this year; In May I graduate from community college, finally, with my Associate's degree. I've been accepted to UMSL and start there in the fall. And in October, I'm getting married! EEK! I have a ton of planning to do...hopefully we can get our save the dates out the door this month. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

351. September 28, 2013

Happy people don't make art.
Nor do the depressed
or the merely content.

Dissatisfied people make art.
Angry people bursting at the seams,
people who are trapped inside themselves
like caged animals
pacing and waiting for an opportunity
to escape.

Art comes from a burning unrest;
it is a demon to be wrestled,
a need for movement -

Not the glow of sunlight
through an open bedroom window
on a Saturday morning.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

350. The Vacation That Wasn't

Pitchfork did not happen.

Or at least, it happened, but I wasn't there to witness it. On Wednesday (the 17th) Frank the dog began vomiting around noon. He hadn't been outside, except for on the balcony to soak in some sun. He had been fine that morning, and ate his breakfast as usual. By the time I came home, just before 7pm, he was still vomiting, and he had diarrhea. Badly. By 10pm, he was still trying to vomit every 20 minutes or so, but there was nothing left in him to expel. If he tried to drink water, it came back up within 5 minutes.

Franklin has a habit of becoming mysteriously ill at the most inopportune times. Usually, he's just swallowed a piece of bone, but bones aren't in his diet these days. There have been other causes; a coffee bean, large quantities of Halloween candy. It's pretty easy to tell what he's gotten into because the remnants are scattered about the apartment as evidence. This time was not like that. There was no evidence. The Wizard had been home the entire time. Nothing was out of place. I had a sinking suspicion that we would not be attending Pitchfork.

At 11pm, we arrived at the 24 animal hospital. I thought this was an actual emergency hospital, but instead, it was just a regular vet's office which had round the clock hours for late night appointments. Strange. Frank looked terrible. His tail was down, he was sluggish and appeared exhausted. The receptionist was unsympathetic, and treated him as a walk-in. I had to ask for paper towels to wipe up pools of vomit at least 5 times before she curtly pointed me to the sanitation station in the corner. The vet, though friendlier, was also unconcerned by his lackluster demeanor and my insistence that this was not normal. X-rays found nothing. Fluids were given by subcutaneous injection along with something to help his nausea, and we were sent home. I was told to offer him water in small quantities the following morning, and if he hadn't improved by the following evening, to bring him back.

We returned home, but the shot didn't seem to help. Frank continued to vomit (or at least try to) until 5am. After that, he sat, eyes half closed, drooling continuously. He looked so terrible, I became increasingly concerned. At 7am, I called in to work and made an appointment for 10am with our usual vet.

By 10am, Frank had not improved, and I was exhausted from patchy sleep. While waiting to be taken to a room, he dozed on the floor of the reception area, oblivious to everything around us. This would never happen under normal circumstances. According to the scale, he'd lost almost a full pound since midnight. The vet looked him over and decided he should be hospitalized to receive fluids and do some blood work. I was told to call around 4pm to check on him.

Having no reason to stay at home, I went to work. At 4pm, I called, and was asked to leave him until 7, when they closed. Had Frank been in good health, I would have been dropping him off at my parents' house, where he was to stay and eat a lot of cookies over the weekend. Instead, I went back to the vet to pick him up, and although he seemed substantially better, I was asked to transfer him to the real emergency hospital to continue receiving fluids for the rest of the night.

The emergency hospital door is always locked. You have to ring the doorbell and wait to be let in. I don't really know why this is, considering they're open 24 hours a day, but I guess they're extra cautious. Or else they worry the animals may use their opposable thumbs to open the door and see themselves out. Frank was taken to the back immediately, but it was another hour before I was able to sign all of the waivers and pay the minimum balance required. They asked me to leave him for another 24 hours to receive more fluids and intravenous antibiotics. I drove home crying to the Wizard over the phone, half about my dog, and half about our now ruined vacation. That night, I listed my Pitchfork tickets on Stubhub and Craigslist, and went to bed.

Friday, the morning of my 32nd birthday, the tickets sold on Stubhub, but only after I dropped the price to $85 a piece. Minus the service fee, I received $144, which is about $120 less than what I paid for them originally. Over breakfast at my favorite coffee shop, I called the hospital to check on Frank. He was cleared to go home, and we went to pick him up. 3 veterinary hospitals, x-rays, bloodwork, fluids, and antibiotics came to a grand total of $775. I should really buy some pet insurance...

The rest of the weekend was nice. The Wizard took me to the Contemporary Art Museum, out for drinks, and later we met up with friends for some bowling (which the Wizard would never agree to were it not my birthday). The next day were more adventures and more drinks, which ended in dancing. Not a bad way to ring in my 32nd year. Best of all, I've still got this guy: