Thursday, July 26, 2012

Guest Blog: Banjo really, really likes Magic Shell Ice Cream Topping

Hello! I'm a dog that's a visitor by the name of Banjo and I visit to see Mr. Pawsley Slipperson who has gotten his advanced degrees already like a PhD which he had a 2.0 - not a very good GPA - but still a dog with a PhD he inspires me!

And Scarecrow Lucy Lu who is so bold and confident wages war on every stupid thing that tries to wrest from her stuff like her house and her food bowl. I'm impressed, yanno, and hope to be like her some day even if she doesn't have a PhD like Slippy does but if she did I bet if she applied herself she'd get a good GPA like at least a 3.0 or a 4.0!

For my life what I like to do is say hi to dogs and touch noses and be a really nice guy with puppies and older dogs too. I want all the dogs to break from their shells like their shells were made of that delicious Magic Shell which I can only have the nonchocolate flavors like cupcake and  Dr. Pepper and Cherry because chocolate makes dogs die I think from bursting inside from all the too good tastes of intensity and extreme satisfaction.

I also like small trees!

Sometimes Slippy and Lucy ask me if I'm lonely living alone unless I'm on my way to see them and then I barf in the car and I tell them the same thing which is this thing that I'll tell you too, okay?

Maybe sometimes I'm lonely, but I feel this sibilation filling my belly and it makes me know know know know know know there's something going on inside me something maybe holy? Like I've got a corner of the universe here in my gut and it stirs me, moves me, effervesces me to sleep when I fall asleep each night in the darkened room of my greatest jubilance. Which is to say if I recall what I was saying before I got something inside me joyful like Orange Crush Magic Shell. It fizzes!

And it burns and makes me move faster and faster through the back door to the porch and back inside and through the back door to the porch and back inside and through the back door because life to me is a jumbled whirlwind of desire: yes please pet me I want that rawhide it's lunch time I need you closer to me where are my people look a butterfly to eat and here I am now sudden with Slip and Luce and we together make something even more shining than me alone but that doesn't make me alone and my solitary whirring any less intense.

When we're together it's like getting all the flavors of the Magic Shell even the chocolate ones and eating it doesn't kill us instead it bursts our hearts in distinct fragments of organ and tissue but smelling sweet like caramel soft tasting in our mouths rowing us closer to the center of the sun rocket propulsion and I'm there and I'm there and so are they it's great to be holding hands with them because look how wonderful life can be!

It can be so wonderful.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Scarecrow is not Afraid

Some people have (unjustly) accused me of being a "fradie-cat," and a "nervous Nelly." I'm not sure what a Nelly is, but I can assure you, I am not one. I am a Lucy, a Scarecrow. My job, you see, is to scare off, not to be scared myself.

It's just that in a world where thousands of refuges seek shelter from violence in Syria. Where a Batman screening can be the scene of murder. Where a Google News search of "fear" results in 3,230,000 links. Where a search of  "injured results in 43,300,000. And a search for "death" results in 130,000,000 that I just don't necessarily feel okay with the door unlocked, yanno?

So, yeah, I'm cautious. Cautious about who I tolerate standing within 100 feet of the house (the prison guard and her boyfriend), who I befriend (Mr. Pawsley), who I open the door to (no one).

What? You think the mailman, excuse me, the maulman, looks so innocent, but what keeps him from blowing a heart shaped hole through the front door? What keeps him from barging inside and taking all that I love?

I'll tell you what keeps him from doing that. Nothing. Except me.

I'm vigilant. Some might say hyper-aware (actually they say hyper-active, but I like to think they just don't understand words and therefore choose an inaccurate synonym. Lessons on connotation, anyone?). I have a job, a duty; I have a noble calling, friends, and it is to protect.

Would that I were the police! Oh, happy life, that - when I might pull you over, reader, for each infraction. Where I might cuff you, stranger, and lock you behind bullet proof glass. Where I might sleep with a weapon by my head.

Allow me to paste the entire Emily Dickson poem "My Life had Stood - A Loaded Gun" here for you to ponder a moment:

My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun –
In Corners – till a Day
The Owner passed – identified –
And carried Me away –

And now We roam in Sovereign Woods –
And now We hunt the Doe –
And every time I speak for Him –
The Mountains straight reply –

And do I smile, such cordial light
Upon the Valley glow –
It is as a Vesuvian face
Had let its pleasure through –

And when at Night – Our good Day done –
I guard My Master's Head –
'Tis better than the Eider-Duck's
Deep Pillow – to have shared –

To foe of His – I'm deadly foe –
None stir the second time –
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye –
Or an emphatic Thumb –

Though I than He – may longer live
He longer must – than I –
For I have but the power to kill,
Without – the power to die –

This poem speaks to me of the emotion surging through me when I hear the barest footfall approaching my prison-house. The anger and resolve that wells up within me. Did I have purpose before this?

And my smile, reader, please take note, is most certainly Vesuvian. It cracks my face open like a sun.

Why am I telling you this? Perhaps to keep you away, to keep you out, but it's also in answer to Slippy. Did you read our last blog? The one about vacationing? (Well, and then there's also this.)

Well, if you didn't or if you've forgotten, in it Slippy tells me he loves me and I find I cannot quite reply in kind. I give him a tap dance routine, an "I need time," etc. etc. kind of thing.

The thing is?

I don't need time, not actually. The words are recalcitrant - this is the connotation I want - they disobey me. I can't quite say to him how I feel, so I say nothing instead. Coughing, I lower my head, make excuses, all while loving him, loving him. He who has given me reason. It is for him "the mountains straight reply."

My "empathic thumb." My "yellow eye."

This searching, unending, drowning kind of love where I find myself stricken, tears rolling down my cheeks as I watch him chew grass or chase Mingus. When he pisses on a fire hydrant something nameless is tapped into life inside me; it's like a universe of butterflies alighting on my liver, long golden rays of sunlight, warm sand on my belly, water in the morning, a hand on my forehead, deep silence of time passing; it is the sound of singing, bells ringing, rain storm, wind through trees, lightest kiss; it is the turning over and over of everything I believe in until there is nothing save his little gorilla's face; his floppy Mr. Pawsley ears.

But I can't tell him this with words. I say it instead with my actions. By keeping us safe and safe and safer still. I will protect Slippy from danger.

And I will scare off that horrible mailman for good one day.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Dogs' Vacation or Les Chiens des Vacances

It's the summer and we want to travel. We want to see the world and we want to see it now in a car that could take us places without flying because probably planes would be very scary oh hello this is Slippy talking if you didn't realize that!

And I'm Lucy, the Scarecrow, Hater-of-all-Delivery-People. Where did we get these incredible chairs you ask? And where, exactly, do we think we're going?

I want to go to to Iceland and also fishing in Maine I would like to drive to India and also to Berlin I want to see people who are happy doing things they do in life and I want to learn other languages like French maybe and I want Luco to not come because he would be in the parlance of our times a wet blanket yes that is a Big Lebowski reference I just watched it and I love that movie like my golden heart shining in the afternoon sun.

Really we aren't going anywhere, however. I imagine you've already gathered this, reader, from the fundamental fact that these car seats (they are actually van seats if you'll excuse my being technical) are at present located in the living room.

But I think that doesn't mean we can't imagine we're going someplace like I'd go to Georgia and New York and eat barbeque and street food like falafal and roasted pecans and you and I Lucy Lucy could have a wonderful time of a vacation and think beautiful things about each other like I'd say you are a great driver, Lucy! So steady on the road and never getting us into accidents! You're really good driving lulls me into a sleep where our bodies entwine in persimmon fireworks of salted meatiness and we shimmer on horizons of hotdogs and juiceboxes for an eternity together which is to say I love you love you!

These seats are comfortable, I'll grant you that, Monsieur Pawsley. And my dreams are rather alike to yours. Although mine also involve us chasing mailmen down sweltering interstates and shooting their mail trucks up with high density explosives. Would we snack on a mailbag or two? Probably.

And in my dreams, Slipper, you are there with me, which is to say (resignedly?) I probably love you too.

I know that word resignedly and I need you need you need you to take it back and rephrase please or I won't let you come with my on the way to Colorado and skiing in the Rocky Mountains is most likely if we also inter-tube down a whitewater river and then I'm off to California to savor the flavor of the finest of the dogs' wines and if you are resigned then you can't come with me I want your heart smoldering like those dynamites how you said with the mailman!

Also how can it be resignedly when I see your eyes burning behind my eyelids as I slip and fall into the sweetest deepest slumber of my life cuddling next to you always near you tasting your breath that's how close you are and in my dreams we're already on our way to the tree-lined streets of Boston and we're already on our way to Paris and Mexico City and we're down in Torres del Paine National Park hiking and finding lovely flowers tasting their petals together drinking tamarind soda and laughing at each other in sudden and ferocious joy.

And also take back probably and say definitely without a doubt for surely sure with zero hesitation.

I need time to be sure I feel the same way, Pawsley. I'm not blowing you off. It's just. I've been too often hurt, you know? Why do you think I'm so paranoid about everything? I had a rough puppyhood, to put it mildly, and I'm not trying to be a victim here, but you need to understand that these things take time.

Basically what I'm saying is that at this point, I'm really only ready for a pretend vacation with you. I'm not about to dump all my dog treats and food bowl and dogs' clothing into a bag and jump into the van with you to travel god-knows-where. I'm just not, okay? Try to respect my trepidation. My feelings.

Think about it from my perspective. I can't tolerate further demolition to my heart. Interstellar blasts of pain and rejection. Let's take our time, okay?

How about we make believe we're on our way to Miami, eh? For a day trip?

I can't have only half of you I already gave you my whole heart I'll wait until you're ready but I don't like it I don't like it I don't like it I would never hurt you like biting into the soft flesh of a lizard's belly I would never could never oh not to you my Lucy Lu.

You sing in my heart you sing me to sleep with your lullabies of rage sure but also with your lullabies of compassion which I know is a well inside you bubbling over I know this and I can't not love you and your face your sharp pointed nose.

Let's just take it one day at a time, okay?

Okay but only because I want your all-the-days regardless.

This is going to be one of those long, awkward vacations, isn't it?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy 4th of July, Love Alfie

It has been too long since we've spoken. I can only imagine how you must have pined for my beautiful face. And it is, isn't it? My face? I'm beautiful - Helen of Troy issue, at least figuratively (the literal in this instance would be ridiculous, friend, don't you dare think me so foolish) - but please, I haven't meant to be vain.

It's just that I try to face facts, reality. And, for really real?

I'm gorgeous. Pulchritudinous. Magnificent.

But I guess that's, as they say, neither here nor there. Except perhaps you're happier to read this because I'm writing it, haha. I wanted to say a thing to you, and Luco was gracious enough to allow me use of his platform (we other cats joke it's his walk-the-platform, as in, read Luco's blog and walk the plank, the plank of despair, you know, into a shark tank of misery, but we don't mean to be cruel. Joking about his blog allows us briefest moments of levity).

So, anyway, here it is: Happy Fourth of July, Internet.

Luco didn't want me to say that. Wouldn't have let me write this blog if he knew. But I care not! I love sparklers and lemonade and tiny little American flags. Fireworks I care not much for, although I do, as a comely creature, enjoy their beauty.

Why would he not want me to wish you this?

He is a grouch, a grinch. He'd go on about atrocities this, and unjust imprisonment that. Major corporate takeover blah blah.

Not that I'm an anti-activist, it's just I believe there is room for critique and for celebration.

Like that time I saved a litter of kittens from doom. They were huddled in a picnic basket, about to tumble down a waterfall, but I swooped through the air (I had donned my flying squirrel pants, but that's a story for another day) and caught the basket in my mouth, swinging them to freedom on the lush riverbank.

How the kittens protested when I proceeded to eat the sandwiches sandwiched next to them in their picnic basket. Their grousing didn't stop me from eating those delicious ham and cheeses and it didn't change the fact that I'd saved their mewling little selves.

A well fed hero, that's what I like to be.

How does that relate to the Fourth of July and patriotism (or perhaps Luco would grumble nationalism, but again, he's a grouch, a grouch, and if he just did something with his looks, he might find his mood improved. Speaking of, have you noticed my hair cut? Fur cut? It is utterly divine in this summer heat to be shaved thus. They call it a Lion Cut because they look into my heart and know my true nature - they know the wildness that prowls my bowels and my eyes, waiting for the chance to streak, firecracker bright, into the night sky).

Honestly, I'm not entirely sure how it relates, except for the matter of subjectivity, which is to say, life is as we understand it to be, and if a creature is unable to ever peer through something like the foreign pupils of empathy, then that creature will never approach understanding, not even to lick it lightly with barest tongue tip, and never taste the desire of another.

We must all strive to pull on the boots of others, to lace them up to our thighs and prance around in them, puss in boots of all-who-live.

Right? Or do you think me mad? I wonder sometimes when I read Wuthering Heights for the fifteenth, fiftieth, five hundredth time. Why do I so identify with this literature? Maybe I'm morbid, captivated by so much death and thwarted passion (as I imagine my passions to be thwarted?).

I can't be sure, but I love these lines which end the novel:

I sought, and soon discovered, the three headstones on the slope next the moor: on middle one grey, and half buried in the heath; Edgar Linton's only harmonized by the turf and moss creeping up its foot; Heathcliff's still bare.

I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth. (251)

"Benign sky." I thrill so at each reading. I find it beautiful.

If I was a poet, I'd rewrite those final paragraphs this way:

three headstones grey half
buried harmonized by moss
creeping still
linger benign sky
watch moths fluttering heath
harebells soft breathing
grass imagine
unquiet slumbers
quiet earth

Ah, but I'm no poet, I mean, I might have been, Iowa said they were very interested in my manuscript, as did Cornell and Syracuse. And I might have attended these MFA programs, but I feel my place is here.

The flame to Luco's wick. Someone has to say to him, "Yes, Luco, it's okay to allow your belly to fill with joy at the sight of those sparklers, and look! A neighbor brought steak over to the vegetarian prison guard -she's left it out on the counter - let us eat it and rejoice, for today is the day to celebrate our freedom and our imprisonment, because who can be free but the already imprisoned?"

And we did eat the steak the well-meaning-neighbor brought over. It was delicious. I wish I had some now, but it's done, we finished it. And oh but when oh when oh when will I ever eat steak again?

True despair is to be left meatless. Without tenderest filet.

Perhaps Luco is right and I celebrate for nothing when that-which-I-celebrate is itself so fleeting, so sudden and but so immense is my joy.

No, it cannot be. My joy is boundless, my capacity for love limitless. And this is why I smile on the Fourth, and this is why I do not hide my eyes forever inside my book. It is irresponsible to see only misery; irresponsible to become drunk on anguish; irresponsible to fail to note that beauty, love, grace, charity, and compassion are bedfellows to desolation, ugliness, injustice, wretchedness, and oppression.

Irresponsible to ignore my elephantine heart.