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When I was a child,

When I was a child, my family experienced a succession of four pet dogs. Smokey, the black mongrel, got hit by a car. Tippy, the aggressive German shepherd mix we named after a taco restaurant, went to live with a nice family on a farm. Toby, who slept every night with her head on my pillow, was also hit by a car. Then came Zoe, the gentle husky with webbed feet, who died of old age at seventeen years. As my four brothers and I grew up and moved out of the house, my mother, who flourished under chaos, replaced each of us with additional hound, until she presided over a ferocious pack that terrorized the neighborhood and pooped indiscriminately throughout my parents’ empty nest.

I am a cat person.

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When David and Rob and

By Joel:

When David and Rob and I were driving back from Maryland, where we went a couple weeks ago for a long weekend, we stopped in Burger King to get some dinner. As we were sitting there, calmly enjoying our Whoppers and onion rings, an old man who had been sitting with (one assumes) his wife ambled over, put his fingers in my hair, and said, “I love your curly hair.”

I thought, oh, yes, I’m in the south. I forgot.

(Yes, yes, I know, we were technically north of the Mason-Dixon line. But we had just passed a construction site where someone was rebuilding Noah’s Ark, so I think that counts.)

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My grandmother, Clara C. Giacalone,

My grandmother, Clara C. Giacalone, who was born on June 24, 1924, and who had two daughters, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, died this afternoon while I was at Target buying underwear. She was one of my favorite people in the world. I also bought socks, toothpaste for sensitive teeth, and a pen. I did not immediately require any of these items (except maybe the toothpaste for sensitive teeth); I was just killing time, dawdling a bit before going back to the nursing home to be with my grandfather.

The call came when I was in the checkout line. “Welcome to Target. Is that credit or debit? Nana died fifteen minutes ago. Have a nice day.”

I have not had a nice day.

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Well, David has gone down

By Rob:

Well, David has gone down to Baltimore to be with his family, so I’m stepping in for a moment. I’ve never blogged before, here or anywhere. In fact, I’ve never managed to keep a diary going, although I have several journals with the first three or four pages filled in.

Let’s hope this goes a bit better.

Goblin and I went to the park this morning, in search of squirrels. There are leaves covering the ground in Central Park, brilliant yellows and reds. It was cold, although clear with the kind of bright sun that makes you squint.

I don’t think Goblin can see the squirrels as well with all the leaves on the ground – my hunch is that she sees them best when they are a gray blur against a darker background. Now, she knows they are there, and does her “freeze and stare intently” thing … but can’t pinpoint them well enough to actually chase them.

The squirrels don’t seem to care. New York squirrels have seen it all. Don’t tell Goblin.

“And for my first substitute blog, I wrote about the weather, and the dog.” Cripes.

I stayed in David’s apartment last night. I’m never able to sleep that well when he’s gone, so I was DVD-ing myself into a stupor. Around three a.m., I heard rustling and banging outside David’s window. David’s apartment is conveniently located on the ground floor, with this row of wooden cabinets with hinged lids that hide the trash cans right outside his window. We often hear rustling and banging, as people take their garbage out (at SIX FREAKIN’ O’CLOCK) and let the cabinet lids slam down. But last night, the rustling and banging seemed to go on and on; I looked out, and there was a homeless man rooting through the garbage, sorting things into piles, taking what he liked and throwing the rest aside.

I wasn’t sure what to do. There was a guy who used to do that at my building – the only thing that bothered me was that when I would come down in the morning, anything I had thrown away the night before would be spread out all over the sidewalk – check stubs, papers, whatever. I would clean it up, and hope that the guy wasn’t a master hacker who would steal my identity, break into my bank account and drain it of the always-under-minimum-balance funds.

Last night, my first instinct was to say something stupid and ineffectual like “Hey! Stop that!” And a heartbeat later, I thought, well here I am, cozy in my boyfriend’s bed, with the dog snuggled next to me, watching “Sex and the City.” Just pipe down and let this guy do what he needs to do. It’s just so easy to resort to the hard-New-Yorker-get-the-hell-away-from-me-don’t-touch-my-garbage mask.

I missed David a lot right then.

The man was very efficient, and was gone in about twenty minutes. Goblin slept through the whole thing (at about one a.m, she paws at the covers, crawls under, and in effect says, “Stay up if you want to, but I’m done.”) About four o’clock, I snuggled up with her and finally got to sleep.

Early this morning the slamming and banging went on as usual. A couple of people remarked on the pile of rejected things by the garbage. “Look at that!” “Geez, wouldja look at that. Slam.” “Hrrmph. Look at that. Bang.”

By the time I took Goblin out to tour the squirrelfields, somebody had Looked At That, and popped the stuff back in one of the trash barrels. And probably closed the cabinet lid gently. Bless them.

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Last night, as we drifted

Last night, as we drifted off to sleep on his futon, Rob and I heard a dramatic cracking sound. What the hell? I thought as the entire right half of the bed collapsed underneath us. We stumbled up to squint at the damage in the fresh lamplight.

“This has happened before,” Rob mumbled sleepily and attempted to determine exactly what had gone awry on the futon’s frame to cause the problem.

Slightly more awake, I noticed the true cause. There was nothing wrong with the futon other than the fact one of its legs had fallen through the parquet floor of Rob’s apartment, though evidently not far enough to pierce the ceiling of the apartment below.

It was not the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me in that bed, but it may be the most unique.

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This morning, at 5:30, Rob

This morning, at 5:30, Rob and I woke up and walked to the park, lay on our backs on a boulder, and looked up at the clear sky.

There, alone, shivering in the trees, we saw the falling stars.

I made a dozen wishes, but the idea I returned to the most was not a desire but a burst of gratitude for everything I have in the world.

Then we went back to bed.

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My grandmother is dying, and

My grandmother is dying, and I do not know how I feel about it. For me, the mourning process began around ten years ago, when she was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and her strong personality began to slowly evaporate. It has been about five years since she went into the nursing home and lost her ability to walk or speak. She used to recognize me when I came to visit – you could see it in her eyes – but it has been a long, long time since my grandmother has truly been alive for me. Visits to support her quickly transformed into visits to support my grandfather, who every day sat at her bedside for at least ten hours, tending to her every messy need. He is a cantankerous man, deeply critical of the way things are going in the world, but the true injustice is in what has happened to his wife of over fifty years.

I was vacationing in Western Maryland with some of my dearest friends when the news came. My father called from the nursing home and said that things did not look good, that she would likely die before the night was out. She did not, but I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop ever since.

It is a blessing, right? That someone with no quality of life, with no life at all, should pass out of extended suffering? This is what people tell me. This is what I tell myself. But nothing about this seems blessed.

When a true blessing comes, people are happy.

As this curse lifts, I only feel numb.

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The other day, I got

The other day, I got to ride in the first car of the subway, standing up against the front window. From this vantage, it was possible to see the dim guts of Manhattan as they whizzed past. I have never had this view in before.

My first thought was that I would like to get a job as an interior designer to freshen things up a bit down there. Grimy steel and rats are so nineteenth century.

The second thing that struck me was the sight of the platforms lined with people waiting for the train to pull up. From the side windows, where I usually sit, people look normal, or as normal as is possible for New York. But from the front, I could see hundreds of commuters at once, all with their necks craned toward the train, toward me, a mixture of anticipation and relief on their faces.

It felt nice.

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As if I do not

As if I do not have enough responsibilities, I am now being held accountable for the things I do not do. Today, my brother Mike emailed to ask why I did not write in this blog how I saw him and his lovely girlfriend, Cate, last weekend. They came to Manhattan for a show, dropped by my apartment, and we went out for a drink. The answer is, I have no idea why I did not mention it sooner, except that I was in more of a mood to complain about my haircut on that day, and there was not a graceful segue. (Also today, my mother wrote to tell me that she does not know what sadomasochism is. I actually find this a great comfort.)

In other news (speaking of graceful segues), Rob and I were at Barnes & Noble yesterday and overheard a bizarre conversation. Two Upper East Siders (one can just tell) explained to a man at the Information desk that they were looking for “inspirational fiction.” “Our son is suffering from severe depression,” they said, “and he hasn’t left the house for twelve years. Can you think of a book that will get him motivated? It doesn’t have to be fiction.”

I am pretty sure that I have captured the essence of their request, although Rob is convinced they said two years instead of twelve. Even so, it is still a lot of pressure on that unfortunate salesperson. If those parents were going to spur themselves into action after two or twelve years, would you not think a qualified psychiatrist would be a better authority than some poor schmuck working in the Fiction and Literature section?

No wonder their son is depressed.

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Once, a long time ago,

Once, a long time ago, years before I started dating Rob or Goblin Foo Uvula was born, I went on a blind date with a man who looked for all the world like George Costanza, except with really bad teeth. They were yellow and rather snaggly. (My computer tells me that snaggly is not a word, but if you had seen these teeth, you would know that it is.) He was a very nice guy and so obviously insecure that I did not feel as if I could follow the blind-date tradition of indicating disinterest by simply not calling. And the situation led to a depressing amount of self-evaluation as to why I placed such emphasis on a person’s looks. (I almost convinced myself to give it a shot until it occurred to me that if he looked like that when he was under 30, what would he look like when he was over 30? At that point in my life, 30 seemed like a mystical barrier that would sort out so many niggling issues. Of course, that was years before I crossed that barrier, only to find the fog of uncertainty thicker than ever.)

Anyway, in the matter of George Costanza, I remained in perpetual confusion until he called me, very interested in a second date, at which point I said the first thing that came into my mind: that I was deeply into sadomasochism and since he was so clearly not, it could never work out between us.

I thought this was very clever for about fifteen seconds, until he said, “You know, I’ve always been interested in giving that a try,” and followed with so many detailed questions that I was forced to let him down gently but a little bit more firmly than I had originally intended.

There is a lesson in here somewhere.

And by the way, Mom, I am not really into sadomasochism.

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Well, I am back. I

Well, I am back. I meant to burst onto the scene with a flurry of exciting news and a nifty new web design, but nothing has happened according to plan. My dear friend and guest blogger has been taking such good care of my little corner of the world that I suspect no one has missed me.

But here I am.

Rob is out of town again, and I thought I would get a lot of work done this week if I did not have to worry about him or writing here, normally the two things in the world I enjoy the most. As it happens, I did not get that much done at all, although I am making up for it today. I am not leaving my apartment until I complete a lengthy list of tasks.

Which leaves me with a peculiar situation.

It is a beautiful day in New York, sunny and easily in the mid 70s. The problem is that the radiator in my apartment is blasting enough heat to simulate the core of the sun, and there is no way to turn it off.

So I turned on the air conditioner.

Here I sit at my computer with the two of them duking it out. Why am I always in the midst of so much conflict?

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Tonight I watched two episodes

Tonight I watched two episodes of Trading Spaces: They Hated It and I have to say I was a little disappointed. I had heard great things about the episode in which Hildy forces a couple to cover another couple’s wall with straw, as well as the episode in which a woman starts weeping when she sees that her gorgeous fireplace has been painted.

There was no straw in either episode I watched tonight, and, though somebody’s fireplace was painted, she didn’t cry. On the contrary, she seemed kind of happy about it.

I guess I just don’t feel like I’ve had a satisfying day unless I get to see somebody cry.

David keeps threatening to return to his blog but I’m having so much fun I may not allow it.

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My brother and I (who

My brother and I (who live together) are fighting tooth and nail over what color to paint our living room and kitchen. My brother, who is insane, thinks they should be Butter; I, who am not insane, or at least not when it comes to paint colors, know they must be Golden Straw.

It is a testament to David’s loyalty as a friend that, when asked which one he thought was best, he chose Golden Straw before he even knew it was the one I preferred.

If this were the nineteenth century, I could have my brother involuntarily committed to a lunatic asylum and paint the rooms whatever color I wanted.

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David’s boyfriend Rob had a

David’s boyfriend Rob had a girlfriend in high school who used to keep a secret list of things he did wrong. Whenever the list got too long, she would stop speaking to him, but without telling him why or how he could fix it. When they broke up, she put the mood ring he had given her in the freezer until it turned permanently black, and then gave it back to him.

I had a girlfriend in junior high who wrote in my yearbook, “if it hadn’t been for you, I would never of gotten such good grades this year.”

And people say you can’t be turned gay.

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Tonight, David and I saw

Tonight, David and I saw Ghost Ship, a movie which terrified both of us. (While David’s calendar is busy enough to prevent him from blogging, it’s not too busy to prevent him from seeing me. I feel somewhat validated by this.) While I can’t say that Ghost Ship was great cinema, it was certainly far better than I expected it to be, partially because when we weren’t cringing in fear and/or terror, we were able to spend our time trying to figure out which of the cute guys would still be alive at the end of the movie.

The major lesson I learned from the movie is that if you say “titty” or “titties” you will die. I don’t think I have ever in my life said “titty” or “titties,” so luckily all I have to do is just stay the course and I ought to be fine.

Another thing I learned is that at the Loews Cineplex 84th Street theater, nachos and cheese are $4.70, compared to a usurious $6.25 at the Loews Cineplex Lincoln Square theater.

$4.70 is still too expensive for nachos and cheese, though, so I just got M&Ms, predicted the deaths of cute guys, and refrained from saying “titty” or “titties.”

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Apparently, David’s social secretary, in

Apparently, David’s social secretary, in an attempt to force David to keep up with his increasingly active and glamorous social calendar, has forbidden him to blog until he has caught up with his obligations to the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers, and His Holiness Pope John Paul II.

In the meantime, I have graciously agreed to step in and guest blog for him.

I briefly entertained fantasies of taking over David’s life, just like Melanie Griffith did to Sigourney Weaver in the 1988 runaway hit Working Girl, but then I realized I would also have to take over care of Goblin, which, in addition to taking care of my own dog A., would be enough to send anyone to an early grave.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with me, you can visit my blog here. Unless you’re David’s mother, in which case it might be better to leave well enough alone.

David will be back as soon as he possibly can. He loves all of us little people and would never abandon us for long.

At least that’s what he says.

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Among the many other things

Among the many other things I did over the weekend, I got my hair cut at an establishment called Jean Louis David. I walked in and was told that there would be a twenty-five minute wait, which was fine, but the receptionist was strangely insistent that I actually leave and return at the appointed time instead of waiting there for my turn. I left and snuck back in about eight minutes later and realized why this was the case: The shop has about fifteen hair-styling stations but only one two-person bench for waiting. I snagged it for myself and read an issue of Macworld until I was called.

I may have been in a stylish salon with a French name (or three French names), but what followed was strictly Supercuts (one name) treatment. The stylist washed my hair himself, with cold water, and he spent about three seconds each rubbing in the shampoo and conditioner. He then asked how I wanted my hair cut. I requested what I always do these days: a choppy look that is officially called “point cut” for reasons unknown (it is not pointy). The Jean Louis David stylist said he knew exactly what I meant and got down to work.

The last time I had a haircut, it took the stylist in the other salon about an hour of meticulous work with a scissor and razor blade to get it right. This time, it took somewhere around five minutes with a clipper. The result is okay. My hair is notoriously difficult to cut and style, so it does not look as bad as it could, but the best that could be said for it is that it is shorter.

I blame the French.

(I am taking a couple of days off of blogging to focus on some other work, but never fear! I have arranged for a guest blogger to pick up the slack. Tune in tomorrow, same bat time and all that.)

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Today: Goblin (sans devil ears,

Today: Goblin (sans devil ears, much to her delight) and I were strutting down Central Park West.

Yesterday: I was taking a shower at the gym after a lifting weights and treading on the elliptical machine for a half hour.

Today: They were setting up for the New York City Marathon. Temporary “no parking” signs fluttered in the light breeze.

Yesterday: The large shampoo bottle provided by the gym had lost its pump, and I had to pour it out. It spilled everywhere.

Today: A large number of buses were parked along the street, but nobody was inside.

Yesterday: The gym shower curtains are made of a cheap material you can see right through. As I showered, I saw some activity alongside my stall.

Today: Goblin and I reached our corner and waited for the light to change.

Yesterday: Someone was taking the towels I left on the hook outside my shower stall!

Today: Driving south along CPW came a vehicle I had seen before. It was the Ghostbusters car!

Yesterday: Stunned, water pouring down my face, I watched as a strange man grabbed my towels and substituted another one in their place!

Today: The Ghostbusters car was right out of the movie. It came complete with logo, siren, and any number of spooky, pseudoscientific attachments.

Yesterday: I felt like charging out to ask what the hell was going on, but then I didn’t. The towel thief was a big guy, very muscular, and probably twice my body weight.

Today: Staffing the Ghostbustersmobile were several men in authentic Ghostbusters uniforms. In motion, they looked exactly like the actors from the movie.

Yesterday: Stepping gingerly out of the shower, I dried myself on another shower and went to get dressed.

Today: After the vehicle disappeared, I brought Goblin home and washed her feet.

Yesterday: I went to meet Rob at Subway.

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All right, kiddies, gather round

All right, kiddies, gather round for a tale of all the good and bad things that happened to old Uncle David since Halloween afternoon. Goodness may make the badness go away, according to those delightful Smurfs; in this case, the goodness happened first and continues to shine through the tribulation of this evening like E.T’s glowing red finger on a partly cloudy afternoon that has a good chance of rain, or perhaps only a light misting.

As always, we start with the good. I am nothing if not an optimist—cheerful of heart even when that dim afternoon’s mist becomes drizzle, rain, downpour, or flash flood—and I cannot tell you the joy I experienced last night when Rob opened his apartment door dressed as the Crocodile Hunter. With tan shorts, tan shirt, hiking boots, and an assortment of snakes and miscellaneous mammals clinging to vital parts of his anatomy, he was just about the cutest thing I ever did see, more so because he had dressed up as a man on whom he believes I have a crush.

All right, I sort of do.

I mean, the Crocodile Hunter is not the man of my dreams or anything (I already found the man of my dreams), but he does have a youthful enthusiasm that, while it would probably grate on my nerves and lead to an eventual homicide, could be appealing in certain situations that I will not discuss here. He also has a nice ass, a characteristic my boyfriend shares, making the costume all the more appropriate.

The Crocodile Hunter, the Demonic Shaper of U.S. Foreign and Domestic Policy, and I paraded up Broadway to Joe’s Halloween party, an intimate affair involving Vincent Price movies, fondue, and a good helping of spite. We then returned to the Crocodile Hunter’s lair for another video and another night’s sleep that stretched nigh unto afternoon.

Today: mixed delights. Rob and I went to Our Name Is Mud to paint two more teacups for my set featuring the Chinese elements. Having already done fire a few weeks ago with Joe, I decided to tackle water and wood. Rob’s depiction of water was a maritime enchantment, a swirl of blues, greens, and purples that will brighten all of my days. My depiction of wood resembled a shaggy marijuana leaf. And just when I had managed to convince myself that it did not really look like a shaggy marijuana leaf, the attendant came by and said something along the lines of, “Wow, what a cool marijuana leaf!”

*sigh*

And now the disaster: We watched an old episode of “Trading Spaces” while eating the lovely dinner Rob had prepared. It was the one in which Genevieve smashed colorful dishes and grouted the fragments to a kitchen wall to make a Mexican-themed backsplash. ¡Olé! When it was over, I washed the dishes and put them on the dish rack to dry. Then, that mischievous dish rack somehow launched off the counter, accompanied by just about every plate and glass I own. Shards of ceramic and glass exploded across the living room floor (yes, my dish rack is in the living room, along with the microwave). This would have been tragic enough considering I spent hundreds of dollars on those place settings, but consider the ramifications: the dish shards exactly resembled those Genevieve glued to the wall!

Yes, “Trading Spaces” has become an omen!!!!!!!!!!

Can you imagine the potential horror? What if Hildi pastes hay to the wall again, or paints another room-spanning Dot Hildi? What if Doug goes mad with zebra stripes, or what if, heaven forbid, they let Kia loose from the mental hospital one more time? What if Frank does anything? What will become of my cozy little apartment, not to mention the rest of my possessions?

Happy Halloween, everybody. E.T., phone home.