9/11, the Weather, and Why Can’t My Dog Speak English?

General random thoughts about September 11….

It’s September 11, 2011 and I can’t stop watching the rotation of programs dedicated to the 9/11 tragedy. So sad. Dan and Steppy, who’s with us for the weekend, keep begging me to turn it off—to put on something easier to watch, like Comedy Central or Lifetime or even a movie on demand—preferably a comedy. But I’m riveted. I can’t stop watching. I just can’t. And I’m sure I don’t have to explain why – you get it. After all, you were there.

On the same day, my computer’s not working…

So let’s move on to something happier. Like, the fact that I got an accidental day off. See, it’s Open Enrollment season and if you’ve been reading for any length of time, you know that from now through December, it’s my industry’s version of tax season. My team and I have been working round the clock and I was supposed to be working today as well. But I think the universe shined down on me by creating a computer malfunction that doesn’t allow me to access the files I need to make any headway. So it’ll all have to wait until tomorrow. And instead of freaking out about how 24 hours are going to set me way behind and throw my schedule off balance (I had plans to get several projects done today), I’m going to take the perspective that’s practically on every channel (9/11) and settle in.

I’m going to eat some of the chips I bought for Steppy. Put off cleaning my closet for just another week. I might not even finish the laundry. Today, I’m going to rest. And write to all of you, about how sad this day makes me. And then, I’m going to have a really good cry and move onto something else (preferably not the ice cream in the freezer we have solely on Steppy’s behalf…).

Hey, let’s talk about the weather…

Normally, it’s the stuff of small talk, but right now it feels worthy of conversation. What’s going on Mother Nature? Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods here. Fires, dust and drought in Austin, where my dear friend Dixie is hot and thirsty. (Dixie, I wish I could send you a cool beverage…) And where the luxurious palatial and Utopic Fort my friends and I meet every Martin Luther King weekend came precariously close to burning.

What’s going on here? What’s next? Swarms of locusts? Aliens? A parting of the Atlantic Ocean?

And now a word about the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the rain in keeping with the theme…

I don’t know, I don’t try to guess why or what, with all this weather craziness . I just know that, in between the excitement, it’s wreaking havoc with traffic and that affects me deeply. Why, it took me three hours to get into the office the other day—for what should’ve been a 60-minute drive, TOPS. In fact, it’s taken me an obnoxious amount of time to get anywhere over the past week. Now I know spending more of your life than you care to sitting in traffic is not being caught in the ravages of 9/11, but it’s still annoying nevertheless. (Just ask my sciatica…)

Which brings me to my readiness for the peaceful breezes of fall. Even though the season brings more work than I ever asked for, I still say: Bring them on.

Bring them on.

Now that I’m not driving, an update on the dog…

I know you didn’t’ ask for it, but here’s an update on one of our dogs. Winnie, the part Border Collie, part Golden who’s not making life any easier than the weather. Several weeks ago we had a very strange growth removed from one of her legs. We were NOT taking any chances given what happened to my precious cancer-ridden Sophie and her bumps and lumps and who we had to put down five years ago. (Still feels like yesterday…hold on, I need to grab a tissue…)

The good news is that the biopsy on this very strange growth (honestly, it looked like a small penis growing out of her leg – I’m not kidding {sorry mom}) came back negative. She’s going to be just fine. The bad news is she’s been driving us crazy because she won’t leave it alone. And even though she’s wearing a large plastic cone around her neck to prevent her from getting at it, she’s too smart for her own good.

And so, in her dedication to the cause and with great focus and diligence, she finds a way to pull her sutures and then staples and then bandages and then staples and then extra sutures and then some glue and then staples out again and again and again and again (still wearing the plastic cone) – requiring us to make several trips to the emergency veterinary hospital and then the regular vet who all chant, “JILL!” and “DAN!” like they did “NORM!” from the old TV show Cheers (do you remember?) because we’re there so much, although there is no exchange of beer (much to my husband’s chagrin).

Fortunately, since our vet can’t figure out what to do to stop Winnie’s relentless attack on her incision and since he’s never “seen anything like it” and since he’s not really being all that helpful anymore other than tending to her damages, he doesn’t charge us for the every night visit we make to address the daily redness that scares us into thinking our four-legged baby has not only ripped open the skin but given herself some flesh-eating infection that is not going to turn out well. Which is helpful because we are not rich and we’ve already shelled out enough, blah, blah, blah.

And so, we remain in problem-solving mode – and after several weeks of it, now leave the house to go to work every day (because it’s just not practical to stay home and watch her every minute) with her first in a muzzle, a plastic cone, an inflated plastic donut (around her neck to restrict her movement), a tee-shirt that says “Bad Dog” on it, and some bandages. Add to that a mild sedative and an occasional Benedryl and most days, that does it.

Although, it would be so much easier if we could just explain to her why she needs to leave it alone and work through it together. But alas, she’s a dog. No way around that. And she’s a good girl? Who’s a good girl? Winnie is? Yes she is, she is a good girl who loves her mommy…she does…”

Sometimes I wonder if locusts would be easier.

Okay, stay with me now because I’m backtracking a bit to the hurricane…

Because I did not give it it’s proper justice just several paragraphs up … this is my last thought or story or whatever you want to call it:

So two weekends ago, I left Winnie in this ill state with Dan (yes, it’s been two weeks and counting…) while I went off to Chicago to take a comedy-writing workshop.

Day one: Of course, I had trouble concentrating knowing that the dog was battling a fragile incision and a slight mental condition, but knew that Dan had it under control. (Too much practice with those ex-wives…but I digress…) So on…

Day two: when I had to write and then read my comedic monologue to the group (I wrote it about a very quirky colleague who loves the Flintstones and Wing Bowl and anything British Royals and proved to be great fodder as evidenced by my class’ reaction), I was able to perform with gusto. That was Friday. The weather reporters were preparing everybody in Philly for Hurricane Irene on Saturday, promising she was to roar in like an angry a peri-menopausal woman who’s hormones raged like feathers out of an old and dirty pillow (who doesn’t know about that?). Irene, it was predicted, would release her full wrath on the city.

Meanwhile in Chicago, they were saying if you needed to get back East, now was the time, because flights would be canceled over the weekend as a result of the coming onslaught. I toyed with the idea, but thought it best not to be in the center of the anxiety festival the Hurricane would present. My husband is much calmer than me; he would probably fare better with me elsewhere.

And yet, I’d begged him in the weeks prior to do something about our very temperamental sump pump, which had malfunctioned just a week earlier. My husband, who can fix everything—even an ailing pump—came to the rescue as usual, but I nagged over and over again that “if you were out of town for any reason, I’d be on the phone ordering a boat—preferably one that could fit through a standard Pulte doorway.”

And so he went to Home Depot and after examining the models on the shelves, decided to do some more investigating online before buying one. Maybe he could find something cheaper…All of a sudden, he was Mr. Bargain Shopper. And now, those words were now coming back to haunt us.

And so, a day before an unpredictable hurricane, I said, into the phone, while driving West on Foster in Chicago back to my friend Ellen’s house after a long day of class, “I hear the Hurrrican’s a comin’ – you got the new sump pump and backup battery whatchamajiggy in case our power goes out, yes? ”

To which he said: “Unfortunately, they’re all out. “

“Who’s all out?” I clutched the steering wheel.

“Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware, Sears, man, you can’t believe how everybody’s cleaned those [sump pumps and battery backups] out because of the hurricane!” He chuckles nervously.

I choke back an “I told you so…” because I know that’s not going to help anybody at this point.

“Well, did you try online? Ordering online?”

“Not yet.”

And so all I could manage to get out, after an entire day of unnecessary silliness (since there was a hurricane to prep for), and thinking about the best way to set the environment for a good comedic sketch or sitcom, was this:

“Okay.”

And then, later, before sleep: “Oh God.”

Day 3: I call Dan in the morning and can hear the tension in his voice. He’s busy gathering provisions, while I write a comedy sketch about mine and Ellen’s drive to Lisa’s barbeque the night before that two “actors” will ultimately read in class. We hang up quickly. My anxiety makes me eat a scone from Starbucks, instead of a nice bowl of healthy oats, for breakfast. Damn you, Irene.

Mid-day I call Dan on a break. He informs me that not only is the hurricane coming—and the skies are dark and ominous—but there’s a killer on the loose in Doylestown and Warwick (where my parents live) and the police are instructing people to stay in their houses. This is surreal, I think. I’m suddenly living in an alternate universe with murderers and hurricanes and dogs who can perform medical procedures on themselves.

I called my parents. Are you home? My dad tells me yes, but I later learn my mother was out lunching and shopping with the ladies—very close to where the “killer” (an ex-military guy who picked off his ex-wife and her husband and son and then his mother-in-law in the area) wound up shooting himself. (Precariously close to my nail salon, really scary.)

And I’m in a comedy workshop trying to make shit up?

I want to go home. Badly. I make it through Day 3 and, after an evening with friends I hadn’t seen for a long while, went back to Ellen’s, where I did some work work, and woke up every hour on the hour wondering if the dog had chewed off her sutures, if Hurricane Irene was redecorating our basement, and if there were killers trying to figure out how to bust in through our garage.

Which brings me back to today…

It’s 9/11. Such a sad day. So much to worry about and yet it really doesn’t mean anything at all, does it? We didn’t get flooded, in case you were curious. The dog is getting better. My mother and her friends managed to evade the homicidal maniac whose post-traumatic stress syndrome manifested, well, badly. And who would have guessed it? But I have the day off!

I guess it all works out in the end. How’s your day going? Do tell.

Until next tim

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