June 2013
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Opaque-eyed attentive

So the other evening, I was coughing (because I have some minor asthma issues associated with my latest bout of seasonal allergies), sniffing (because allergies), crabby and convinced that I was fat and ugly and also possibly dying of bloat-cancer (because I had my period), bleeding and cramping (because I had my period), and my back hurt (because I had lifted and moved boxes of books in a pre-period fit of manic superwoman accomplishment), and I had a headache (because hormones and also the stress of my sudden certainty that I was not living the life I was supposed to be living), and I was sweaty (because I had taken a hot bath), and I was lying in bed cataloguing all of my husband’s faults (which were many and included a rogue hair on the back of his neck and also the way he scrunches up the pillow and also his profile and the way he just lies there in the bed . . . on his back . . . who does that? . . . and also how he holds his drinking glass, which is troublesome) and wondering how I came to marry this clearly deficient specimen (seriously, I could have done better), and then Mark (who sometimes pays slightly less attention to what I don’t say out loud than he should) asked, as I fluffed the blankets . . .

“Do you want to have sex?”

And so then I started weeping (obviously) and wailing about how I am a failure at everything (obviously) and explaining about how there was no way I wanted to have sex (obviously) because of the fat and the ugly and the failure and the bleeding and the cramping and the headache and the bloat-cancer (obviously) and then I pounded the bed with my fists and cried some more about the fact that I might never want to have sex again because at least some of these problems were permanent and possibly fatal and did he think maybe he would be happier if I just ran off into the woods and left him to scrounge about for a new wife who was slightly less weepy and possibly more agreeable about gravy (gravy is disgusting — end of discussion) and then Mark turned away . . .

And began to snore.

I poked him a few times to see if he was faking.

He was not faking.

This is how murders happen, people.

But instead of murdering Mark (who snores so loudly he is basically asking to be slaughtered), I gathered up my pillow and my smaller badly behaved dog (He sleeps with me now, because Mark got so tired of being woken in the middle of the night to listen to me discuss . . . everything . . . while weeping . . . that he suggested perhaps the dog could comfort me. Mark left unspoken the part about how maybe I could stop waking him up to talk about death and dying and that dream I sometimes have in which he critiques, in spectacularly cruel fashion, the way I set the table, but after all these years I understood what my husband did not say (because empathy). So anyway, now I am a woman who wakes her small terrier in the middle of the night to discuss . . . everything . . . while weeping.)

Sometimes the dog (like Mark) falls asleep in the middle of my stories, but unlike with Mark, I can peel back Jack’s doubled eyelids and pretend that he is opaque-eyed attentive.


I gather up my pillow and my dog, and I head two floors down, to the basement. I settle in on the couch in front of the TV and weep a bit about how difficult it is to be me as the dog stares blindly at me through old-man cataracts. And then I fall asleep, uncomfortable and unhappy and dosed up on Ibuprofen, allergy meds, bitterness, and peri-menopause-induced body dysmorphia (which is exhausting).

I wake at 4:02 to the sensation of being beaten with a bag of oranges.

Jack is jumping up and down on my body like Tigger, assuming Tigger is a thug sent to beat me with a bag of oranges.

Jack is not always a fan of sleeping through the night, and he quite often wakes me up at about 4:00 am, wondering if he might eat and go for a walk and perhaps have someone throw a ball for him several dozen times.

My answer is always no.

But here’s the thing . . . I can’t just let Jack get out of bed and wander through the house, because not for nothing is he referred to as the smaller badly behaved dog. So generally, when I bring Jack to bed with me, I make him wear his harness, and then when he gets 4:00-am antsy, I reach for his leash (which I keep on the bedside table) and I rein him in until he falls asleep again.

Jack and I have a system.

Except on this particular night that is actually 4:02 am . . .

Jack is not wearing his harness.
I do not know where it is.
I do not feel at all well.
And when I try to pull him close, Jack kicks me hard in the stomach, which hurts.

So fuck it.

“Go, demon-dog. Run around the house and do your worst. I will deal with it in the morning.”

I fall asleep to the sound of the smaller badly behaved dog prancing up the stairs.

I wake at 4:07 to the sound of incessant barking from the kitchen.


Jack would like to eat and then go for a walk and perhaps have someone throw a ball for him several dozen times.


Damn it.

I roll out of bed and head upstairs, where I scoop up Jack and grab his leash from the counter. Back downstairs we go, where I realize that I have no way of attaching Jack to his leash; I have no idea where his harness is. I apologize, “Sorry dog, you brought this on yourself,” and I make a slip-knot of the leash’s handle and pull it over his head, leaving me holding the small metal clasp that would normally secure the leash to his harness.

I fall back to sleep holding the small metal clasp in my hand.

I wake at 4:17.


Jack has run off with the leash dragging behind him.


Jack would like to eat and then go for a walk and perhaps have someone throw a ball for him several dozen times.


I stomp upstairs and grab him by his leash and drag him back downstairs with me, realizing as I haul him back to the couch that I still have no way to attach the leash to both the dog and to something else as well. I am bleary and exhausted and in pain and feeling as though I might throw up, and I am not thinking clearly – I just want to go back to sleep. I clip the dog’s leash to the only thing I have available (“There, stupid dog. You are foiled!”), and I fall asleep, feeling quite geniusy.

I spend the next two hours dreaming of violent garment-rending sex, which is never a bad thing, but I also keep half-waking from the dream to pain and nausea and unhappiness, which is never a good thing.

6:30 arrives in a blaze of unexpected sunlight through a set of uncovered French doors.

I blink against the sun’s intrusion, wondering uncomfortably how the man from my dreams could possibly still be working to remove my underwear.

I focus.

I am lying on the couch. So far so good.

I am naked except for the underwear, which is not a surprise, because I was naked except for the underwear when I came down here. Although in the darkness, I failed to take into account how very well the glass in French doors reveals what lies naked behind them once there is daylight.

Also, the underwear are not exactly how and where I left them.

And then there is the fact that I am covered in blood. Covered in blood. My stomach and legs are gory with smears and clots and what appears to be at least one small footprint of blood.

I do not seem to be injured.

I glance over at the dog, who is gasping and leaping and frothing at the end of the slip-knotted leash.

The other end of which is attached to my underwear where I gathered the silky fabric at the hip and fastened the leash’s metal clasp around it, a move that is looking less and less geniusy by the second.

I sit up and reel in the dog, loosening the bite of the leash from around his neck, loosening the bite of my underwear from my flesh, and assessing the bloody damage.

It’s spectacular.

Jack leaps from my lap and runs to the end of the room, where he turns to throaty-bark at me.

Phark phark phark phark phark

He would like to eat and then go for a walk and perhaps have someone throw a ball for him several dozen times.

Phark phark phark


I walk, blood-smeared and naked except for underwear very badly askew, to the kitchen, where I fill the dogs’ dishes (Persie the well-behaved Labrador is surprised and delighted to eat a little earlier than usual).

I stand at the sink and wash the blood from my naked body with wet paper towels as the dogs finish eating.

Yeah, that is definitely a paw-print.

More bare windows.

We need to get this new house some blinds.

Hello, world.

I head upstairs to go to the bathroom, change my underwear, get dressed, brush my teeth . . . and then back downstairs to find Jack’s harness and take both dogs for a walk.

My whole body hurts.

The girls will be up soon to start the day in noisy chaotic earnest.

But first there is dog shit to bag.

And a ball to throw.

And that?

Is what 47 looks like at my house.

Now you know.

    31 comments to Opaque-eyed attentive

    • Because fear is not an aphrodisiac, that’s why.

    • Karenlm

      Your blog constantly reinforces my intention to not have a dog.

    • We’ve been finishing up the 400 square foot apartment, where we’ll live until we’ve finished the inside of our new house, and moving “50 pounds” of stuff into our new “5 pound” box for the past 90 days or so. Been in the apartment for about a month now. So far we love it but we also have no dogs or kids. It’s just the two of us and more aches and pains that either of us recall ever having. Really looking forward to a time when the new house is finished and I can slow down a little but my best, conservative guess places that about two years down the road. :(

      Wanna see the latest photos of the place? http://goo.gl/2sJAO

      Really hope you begin to feel better soon. Repeat after me:

      “I am awesome!”

      I am vivacious!”

      “I am sexy!”

      “Is that a squirrel?”

      “Um, where was I?”

      • Hey, babe . . . Thank you.

        For the update (I have missed you), for the photo, and for the love.

        I do love squirrels . . . they are so sexy!


    • MomoSully

      I sort of get your horror of tampons, because I also grew up under the shadow of the toxic shock scare. However, it turns out that for me, tampons fall into a special category along with epidurals; things that seemed unthinkable in the abstract, but at need, suddenly looked a lot more attractive than I could have imagined. Also, I can’t stand the squelchiness.

    • Tampons are just uncomfortable. I don’t care what anyone says.

      And here I thought 35 was a bitch… You mean I have more to look forward to? Awesome.


    • Sue B

      Yeah, tampons are a no for me too. The only time I use them are for swimming. And even then, I don’t like them. I’d try a cup but I may be done. Knock wood. There are upsides to turning 50. Here endth the TMI.

    • You have been bounced,pharked,bloodied and bodice-ripped, in one night, alone in the basement? You should immediately be appointed to the Senate or Champeenship Rasslin. I do so love the words that flow from your misery. Love them.

      • Oooh . . . look what I found in my spam filter!

        You commented once and then came back to comment again when it didn’t show up.

        YOU LOVE ME.

        You are doomed.

    • I feel your pain. Really. OK, I don’t. Because I am laughing. Uproariously. At your pain. Isn’t that what friends are for? Har. Dee. Har. Har.

    • Mishelle

      Ohmygawdohmygawdohmygawd… I can only imagine the gears grinding as you wake and deal with the mess!! And without caffeine!!

      Toxic shock still scares me and I’m 43 which is the main reason they aren’t worn here either!!

      Seriously – your blog is the reason I don’t have a dog… I’d get the small misbehaved dog and I’m the only one that would wake for him…


      • Funny thing?

        I love this smaller badly behaved dog. I love him more than I have ever loved a dog.

        That says horrible things about who I am, probably.

        But it’s true.


        They are awesome.

    • a snowsprite

      Is it telling that my first thought was ginger-headed sailors? Of course, that would have been an entirely different story.
      Oh man, Jack and bloody pawprints … and ouch.

      • Wait, what?

        Ginger-headed sailors?

        Explain yourself.

        Hmmm . . .


        “ginger-headed sailors”

        Got it.


        • a snowsprite

          No sailing the H.M.S. Cock Robin for you then? Snicker, I am so done now.
          Also, Jack will now look like Tigger in my mind … thanks?

          • There are pictures of Jack on this blog somewhere.

            He is bouncy, but he looks nothing like Tigger.

            You’re welcome?

    • You know, looking around my own living room, I can’t see anything convenient for attaching a dog leash, so underwear makes perfect sense. And a hilarious blog post.

    • Ah, I’ve been gone too long. I adore your writing almost as much as I adore you and your girls. Next school year I won’t let teaching get in the way of blog reading. Wonderful post. I hope your pain ends soon. 54, by the way, is great! Much better than 47. Promise!

      • I have missed you, although I (more than most lately) understand how the real world has a way of imposing its requirements on one’s time.

        I’m delighted to see you here . . .

        Hope to see more of you this summer.

        More of myself as well.


    • Deb

      Yup… That’s what it looks like. Sorry.

      Mwahhh… It gets better though. Or so I hear. Not entirely sure.

      • I wonder if the people who tell me it gets better are in fact sadistic women who just want me to hold out hope of a brighter future and then have my hopes crushed under the continuing and ever-increasing weight of despair for their own amusement.


        Never mind.

    • Robin K

      What a bloody mess


      Gather a smaller man, vein thee

      A muse

      Teetering with torture and beaut

      Age anything not mute.

      *Apparently this is any easier way for me to communicate. Ahem.

    • Tampons since I was 11. No toxic shock. Just sayin’.