Saturday, June 02, 2012

Any Advice? (Middle)

I am having a little bit of a problem...Actually I think that it’s quiet a large problem.  My cat and I are having some issues.  We are working on boundaries as well as obedience and nothing that I have tried has worked. 

Don’t get me wrong one of the many things that I love about her is that she is very affectionate but at the same time not all of my friends think the same way.  I don’t mind that she lies on my chest when I’m on the computer or that she lays by my feet when I sleep but I have some friends that are allergic to cats and she climbs all over them when they come over. 

So I thought that I would train her to not always expect attention 24 hours a day from everyone.  To start I am trying to get her to stop showering with me.  Yes, I think that it’s insanely weird as well, but she loves water and she loves to sit in the shower with me.  I thought that cats were supposed to be afraid of water but she loves it. 

Now I know that I should have been shutting the bathroom door from the beginning but my fan doesn’t work so if I shut my door then there is way too much condensation in the bathroom and I know that can cause mold and I don’t want mold in my bathroom.  So there may not be a solution to that problem in the near future. 

Another thing that I have tried is shutting my bedroom door and keeping that closed.  Even when I’m not home I keep it closed because then when I go to bed she thinks that I don’t want her to come with me.  And to some people that may seem mean but I really need her to understand that she needs to be able to give people their personal space and always being up in other people’s faces is not always cute. 

So far none of these have worked.  I had a friend over the other day and it was as if nothing was different.  She was all over her and she didn’t care whether it was right or wrong.  And yes I understand a cat doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong but I think they can sense a feeling when they aren’t wanted.
And also I think what plays a kep role in this needy-ness is the fact that I adopted her from the humane society and they found her in an abandoned apartment building.  And from what I've been told she didn't have any human contact for over a month so maybe that plays a role.  Perhaps she just doesn't want to be alone. 

Does anyone have any advice? 

Hartland, Where I Grew Up Once: The Introduction

Hartland, Where I Grew Up Once is a new set of stories I'm starting.  It's pretty much what it sounds like. 

Hartland, Wisconsin sits about 47 miles almost due east of where I sit as I write this.  It is a small town, smaller in my memory than in reality and smaller when I grew up there once than it is now. 

Hartland, Wisconsin, of course, also sits in my memory, which is located (so far as I can tell) somewhere just to the right of my left ear.

It is, was, probably still will be, a town of predominantly white people, people more affluent now than they were when I grew up there once, people living in the houses I can remember almost perfectly in my mind.

Here's a thought:  My phone number, growing up, was (414) 367-6392.  My address was 440 Hartwood Lane.  I had 42 people on my paper route (daily) and 72 (Sunday). 

I remember those things and yesterday when I voted I had to think for a second to recall my current address.

The Hartland I grew up in is both gone and still there. I drove through it, not long ago, and all the sites are still mostly there: St. Charles Church, where I went to school until third grade and went to church until I moved, right across the street from Mrs. Loppnow's house where I took piano lessons.  Hartland Elementary North, where I went from 6th through 8th grades and once chased Rob Bellin down a hill trying to catch him and beat him up because he'd made me so mad that I'd said a swear word and he had threatened to tell my Mom and Dad and I figured the only way to get him to not do that would be to beat him up, a plan I was unable to follow through on because I was fat and slow and Rob was the opposite of both of those.

He never did tell, though.

There is the gas station where I worked third shift in between bouts of college, changed a lot but still in the location.  There is the restaurant that in my day was Wolf's Cobblestone Inn and is something else now but it looks the same.  There is the building where Jackson's Department Store with its candy counter was located.  Jackson's is gone and not gone because its building is still there and it's still in my head.

Nixon Park, the building that was the Piggly-Wiggly (now moved, now larger), and a road through what used to be Hasslinger's land with the pond where Bill caught a Northern, a fish that I know only as a Northern, a fish big enough that Mom and Dad made Bill stand on our front lawn and hold it up for a picture.  We didn't eat the fish, because Hasslinger's land was long-rumored to be dirty, filled with toxic waste and not fit for eating fish from.  Also, we weren't really the kind of people who clean and eat a fish they've caught.

The hill where I camped when I ran away from home, three days of not going to high school and eating hot dogs because they are cheap and reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy... it's all still there, some of it paved over and some of it not.

And like the fish, and the picture of the fish, all gone-but-not-gone.

I drove through Hartland a few months back, on my way from one place to another.  I hadn't gone there to go there.  I'd gone to a place and now I was coming back, but I had extra time and on this particular day decided to drive through, to see the old town which wasn't so far out of my way after all, and so I drove through, past the house my parents raised me in, past the schools I attended, up to the top of Canterbury Circle where if you look in the right direction you can see the church at Holy Hill, one of two places in Hartland where that is possible.  The other hill that lets you see so far is the hill I sledded down and broke my wrist once, learning the hard way that runner sleds can not make 90-degree turns.

That seemed a big deal, when I was a kid: go to the top of the hill, and see Holy Hill, where we would sometimes drive in the fall.  In the car, it seemed a long way away, this monastery and cathedral-style church where they had a rack of crutches from people who had come to Holy Hill and been cured of their lameness, thrown away their crutches.  We never went to church there; we only went for the sights, going in the fall when the leaves were changing colors and we could go up the stairs in the big tower past the large round windows that were bigger than me and which had no glass in them, making me dizzy with the fear of falling out.

I would look at the crutches and take some holy water and put it on my right eye, the lazy one, the one with amblyopia, and pray it would cure my eye.  You may laugh, but I had warts when I was a little kid, and on a trip to St. Louis, when we went to church there, I put holy water on them and prayed I'd never have warts again and I never had warts again.

I'm 43 now, and I still have a lazy eye.  But I don't wear glasses anymore, the result of an eye doctor once telling me that glasses weren't really doing me any good and I didn't have to wear them if I didn't want to.  The Lord works in mysterious ways

On my recent trip back -- nearly six months ago, now -- I drove to the top of Canterbury Hill and stopped my car and got out.  I could see Holy Hill.  I took my camera out to take a picture, to remember that moment, but then, in the camera, it didn't look right.  It didn't look big enough.  My memory was better and so I deleted the picture and got back in the car, listening to Noah And The Whale and driving my old paper route, remembering how my Dad had negotiated with Mr. Ferris so that we would have Pennbrook Way, which was a good one, but not have the two circles that led off of Pennbrook, two long cul de sacs that had few houses in them but one was a steep hill and one was long and neither, my dad felt, was worth the effort to have to deliver to them, so they were split off my route and given to someone else, and that poor person had to walk all the way up Pennbrook Way to deliver papers to these two cul de sacs, about 10 houses total, a mile out of his way.

Eventually, that poor person was my then-best friend, Jim, who would later kill himself over his parent's divorce, doing so in the 9th grade.  I used to run into him on the paper route, trudging back down Pennbrook Way past all the houses I delivered to.

I drove past my old house, too, still remarkably similar to the way it looked when I lived there, nestled between what used to be the Wizners house on the left and the Barquists' house on the right.  The Barquists moved after they got a divorce, and my other then-best-friend Paul went to live in Michigan, and their house got bought by the Riedis, who had a young son named Lucas.  Lucas was two years younger than my little sister and used to come to our house to watch He Man because his parents wouldn't let him watch it in their house, but the green house was always the Barquists, of course, even after they moved, just as the yellow house between the Barquists and the Wizners was always the Pagels' house, no matter that the people who live there now probably don't know who all those people are.

Some things are always there even when they're not.  Forever, I will always have lived in the yellow house at 440 Hartwood Lane, right next to the Field and the Swamp, both of which are gone now, and just a mile outside of the city of Hartland, which is still there and will have always been there.  I drive through it sometimes, to see what it's like now, but what it's like now doesn't matter so much because what matters,  I think, is what it was like then and apparently what it will be like forever, for so long as I'm alive and can remember these things.

But, worried about my memory -- so many things to remember, I can't even recall my current ZIP code -- I decided I'd start writing those, down, too.  Cameras can't catch a picture of the view of Holy Hill from the top of Hartland, because cameras can only take a picture of what things look like now, not what things looked like then and then and then and a little while after that.  Cameras can't snap a shot that somehow includes how hard it was to ride a bike up that hill, the climb so tough that we decided not to include it in the subdivision-wide bike races we set up the summer Breaking Away was shown on regular TV.  Cameras can't fit into the frame the twisting route one takes to get from Castle Park through Imperial Drive to go up that hill, and cameras can't look just a little to the left, out of the frame, to see the Canyon and the Pine Tree and Kill Hill and the rest, things that are barely visible from the hill on top of Hartland but which are obvious to anyone who lived there.

And so I'm going to write it down, and hope that the words can keep what my memory might not, and share what pictures can't. 

Because I love Hartland, where I grew up once, and others might, too.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

I'm sittin' in style!(I Get Paid For Doing This)

New office chair!

My old chair had lost the ability to have that back part (known in Chair Scientist circles as "that back part") lock to stay up and down -- so I essentially had a combination stool/recliner, but nothing in between.

Now, though, I am able to be fully upright, and hench much more productive:

And by "productive" I mean "interrupting my conversation with another lawyer about whether the fact that bad things happen means God is either not omnipotent or He doesn't care", a conversation that started when I pointed out to him that Donald Driver had thanked God for making him (Donald, not God) a lifetime Packer) ... to take pictures of myself in my new chair and post them.

ALSO: That's a recent haircut I'm sporting.

A tinier stegosaurus wonders what all the hype regarding the blue chairs was about... then understands.

Briane Pagel on Staree

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

15,842 new words: Word 1. (This is not a post about writing.)

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Recently, I've become more and more interested in differing kinds of writing -- from deciding to learn a new language I'll call "Computer-ese" because I've only read the intro to the book so far plus I downloaded a game that's supposed to teach you how to think like a programmer, so really I'm like 99% of the way to that dream -- to an increasing emphasis on writing poems (Poetry being what Gandhi once called "the sweet science") -- to my attempts to write specific word count stories, which is not designed to shorten up the stories at all, as I am philosophically opposed to making things shorter for no reason, but which is instead designed to pose a challenge to me, much the way I once went on vacation to San Francisco and saw the steepest hill I had ever seen and I decided that when I went out for my daily jog which I used to even do on vacations 'cause I'm amazing that way or I was, I would have to run up that hill because I wanted to see if I could do it...

...where was I?

Anyway, the other day, when I was out for my walk and thinking philosophical thoughts about nature, I also was trying to think of a way to determine how many words I actually knew, as of that moment.

Just because I was curious, you see.  I wondered whether there would be a way to determine how many words I knew as of any moment, other than simply listing the words I knew, which wouldn't be a real test because then you're just checking on memory, not really knowledge, and my memory is shot: I can barely recall what kind of pizza I had for breakfast today.*

*It was delicious, though.

I was thinking about that because I thought it also might be fun to increase my vocabulary (outside of computer-ese, even) and that it wouldn't hurt for me to know more words than I currently know, except, again, I wasn't sure how many words I knew.

What if, I wondered, I know ALL the words?

It's possible, you know.  It was thought possible, at one time, to know everything that there was to know in the world -- to take all of the human knowledge that had ever been, well, known, and learn it, a task that grew more impossibly Sisyphean every day, when you consider that each day we learn more and more and that the person who learned everything that was to be known at any one point would therefore create a new fact -- the existence of the person who knew everything, and the fact that he knew it all and then didn't, almost an instant later when someone discovered a new bug.

(People say there was a person who knew everything there was to know, but people are stupid.  They also can't decide who that person was.  Most say it was Francis Bacon, some say Goethe, and others say maybe it's Kant.)(It was nobody. There was nobody, I think, who knew everything there was to know.)

But you could know all the words, I suppose -- a limited subset of knowledge, just like you could know all the elements or all the prime numbers mankind has identified. (I have no idea how many there are but I did look up the largest one found.  It's 243112609-1, and it has 12,978,189 digits in it.)

So I hit on this quest to learn how many words I know as of now, now being

right now

and right now

and right now

and so on, and a method to learn that, by deciding I would learn myself 15,842 new words.

I hit on that number by determining how many days I had been alive as of the day I decided to do this.

And I decided I'd learn those words by going to the Oxford English Dictionary online, because as it turns out, I don't own a dictionary and don't want to pay for one, and I could access most of that one for free, because I don't want to pay for words if it turns out I already own all of them.

Once there, I decided, I'd start by beginning at the beginning (always a good place to begin) and reading until I came to a word I didn't know.  That word would be my new word, and I'd have learned it and gotten a count of how many words I knew... so far.

So here's New Word 1, which came just seven words into the dictionary -- or one word, depending on how you count it.

I got as far as a, which seems like a word I should know as I use it all the time, but version 7 of a is ...

...hold on: I just noticed that my typeface is different for italics than for regular: If I type a, it comes up a but if I type a it comes up a... weird.

Anyhow, version 7 of a is that it is used, archaically, as a war cry, but only when prefixed to a proper name, with the last-known use of it (according to OED, which ought to know) being

1908   K. Grahame Wind in Willows xii. 284   Mole, black and grim, brandishing his stick and shouting his awful war-cry, ‘A Mole!, A Mole!’

 When next you go to battle with someone, revive that tactic:  "A Sweetie! A Sweetie! I am having this pizza for breakfast!"

Monday, May 28, 2012

250=1, Story 10

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Q + U, A Love Story (part 1)

It began when u passed a note to q when they were young.  u got a bunch of friends to help out.  Together they all got real small and crawled over to q, and for some of them it was a lot of work.

d had it easy, just standing there, but o had to hop around:

do  y    

[the note paused while o ran to the new spot]

d yo like any


d y like anyone?

q guessed who it was from and didn't worry about the spelling.

q nodded.

The letters reshuffled and beckoned some others.  o stayed in place while they reshuffled

who is


who s it

q was shy, though, and didn't answer very quickly but couldn't help a glance over where u ordinarily sat.  Back then, q and u were never together at all, separated by the powers-that-be who had assigned seats in letter school.

(The seating chart caused no end of problems.  For years, i had filed official protests about having to always follow e, until the authorities gave in and reversed it, with c's parents helping broker a deal to keep the peace.)

Over, behind the corner, u giggled and blushed, telling k she'd known it.

k said u and q should go to the dance.

u said she didn't think q would want to.

[q was known as standoffish and a little weird.  k honestly did not know what u saw in q]


In 250=1, I write short stories that are exactly 250 words, including the title.  Find more of them here.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Not even going to go look and see what this is all about. (Quote of the Day)

"You get back down.  I do not want to see this again.  Get down.  You are NOT the flying panda."

I'm sitting, right this minute, in our dining room, reading.  That quote came from Sweetie, who is upstairs outside of Mr Bunches' bedroom, where Mr Bunches was (I thought) quietly watching Kung Fu Panda.

(He's watching the first one, not the terrifying sequel.)