Monday, October 31, 2011


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With men out of my life for the time being, the house clean and papers graded, I have no excuse to prevent me from doing yardwork. I put on my yardwork clothes: Daisy Duke shorts in case any cute guys drive by, a tight tank-top in case any cute guys drive by, and the big white high-top sneakers I always wear when I work outside. Falling and breaking a bone or getting ant bites all over your feet is not sexy.

I exit the garage with shears in hand but am gone only thirty seconds before remembering I need gloves. I turn around, walk back in, and glance down: there lies a pile of fresh cat shit. Where did that come from? I think. Is there a stray cat living in my garage? No way did a cat have time to run in here, shit on the floor, and run out. That shit sure is square. Why isn’t it round? Hold on!

I check my sneakers and sure enough, the pile has fallen out of the treads of my left shoe. It’s like a crossword of cat shit.

It has been years since I’ve stepped in shit, maybe since I was a child. I think I’ve forgotten what to do, but I immediately start looking for a stick, almost instinctively. Unable to find one, I use the thick shaft of a pigeon feather to dig the cat shit out of my right shoe. I do the best I can with my sneakers on, then consider slipping them off to wash the bottoms with a hose. But I can’t bear one more second in such close proximity to so much wild raw shit, so I leave my sneakers on and call it good enough.

Soon I am standing precariously on the top step of a folding kitchen stool that rocks back and forth with my weight. I reach as far as my arms will allow—shears in hand—and chop the bushes, deep in thought. Why am I doing this when my neighborhood is getting overrun with stray cats who shit all over my yard and spray urine on my doors? Where is everybody—owners or renters or banks?—who should be looking after these properties. Not only that, I paid that Noah’s Ark guy $125 two weeks ago to prune my yard, so what the hell am I doin’ up here cuttin’ off the top of these bushes? I pay money and expect something to get done and it doesn’t.

I climb down from the stool and go to get the rake. I round the corner of my house, look up and nearly have a heart attack: There sits the large owl I have hired to scare away the herd of pigeons that graze underneath my birdfeeder. “Jesus!” I say, my heart rate soaring. In the next second I realize it’s the plastic owl I have purchased, not a predator. Be nice if I could get that reaction out of my pigeons. Owl scares me to frickin’ death and they peck around it, shit on its head. Stupid owl…good thing it’s returnable.

I retrieve the rake from the garage and start walking back to the bushes, all the way on the other side of the house. I have given up cleaning cat shit out of the treads of my sneakers because my gravel-filled yard has apparently become the world’s largest litter box. I’m thinking of my shit-embedded shoes when I round the corner to the back of my house and a herd of pigeons explodes around me. “Jesus Christ!” I say, flapping my wings while my heart beats out of my chest. I am left in a flurry of feathers. When the feathers settle, I come out of my fetal position only to see the plastic owl, which I momentarily mistake for a stray dog. My heart beats even faster…stray dog worse than stray cat…but then I recognize my owl. He's big and dark with round yellow eyes, and I had a nightmare about him. I don’t understand why the pigeons don’t fear him.

Hours later, tired from pruning and raking and fertilizing—and shaken to the core from running into the owl at seemingly every turn, shocked every time—I decide to call it a day. I put my tools away, go sit on the front walk, and take my sneakers off. Using another big stiff pigeon shaft, I clean the cat shit from my sneakers, pushing it out of the treads and leaving it in little piles of four-cornered logs next to the front hedge. I cover it up with gravel. They are teaching me well.

My sneakers get the hose, and I feel their pain.

I close the garage door behind me and go inside the house, trailing fluffy white pigeon feathers behind me. I stand barefoot in front of the patio door, which looks out into the backyard directly at my scary owl and the herd of pigeons I have accidentally raised. Many of them are bigger than the stray cats who lounge on my walls and drag their names into my gravel with their testicles.

My own two cats start rubbing against me, sending more feathers to the floor, and I wonder what it would feel like to molt. I bet it would feel pretty good.

Monday, October 24, 2011


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My refrigerator broke last week, about the same time my heart did. It lost its cool slowly, kind of like me: water puddled on the kitchen floor, frozen pizzas drooped, soda cans started sweating. I was aware that something was amiss on Sunday night, but decided to sleep on it and hope whatever was wrong fixed itself by morning. I hoped my heart was fixed by morning too.

Alas, the kitchen floor was sloshing when I walked onto it at 6 a.m.—melted ice—and the food in the refrigerator was warm. I knew that I would lose most everything inside, which hurt because it was fully stocked. Soon it would be as empty as the heart in my chest and the relationship I was no longer in.

Hours later, a repair guy showed up and replaced the control board in back for $300. “You better throw everything out, ma’am.” I wished that could include a man.

I hauled garbage bags full of soggy boxes, not-so-fresh fish and a million splendid leftovers out to the Dumpster behind my house. I moped around all week, not hungry, which was good because I had no real food and no desire to get any. I threw back a couple handfuls of Parmesan cheese. I boiled a bouillon cube once.

Finally, this past weekend, my niece Shanna (rhymes with Ghana) drove up from Tucson. She always comes when the chips are down…even the tortilla chips. “I haven’t been able to get to the grocery store yet,” I confessed when she walked in.

“We can order a pizza,” she said cheerfully.

One stitch formed in my heart.

“We can order a pizza and talk and play cards,” she added.

Make that three stitches.

Several hours later, sitting outside under the stars in my backyard, we tried to kill the last bit of so-called love I had for the man who had called me Horsewoman.

“He called you what?” Shanna said.

“He called me a horsewoman,” I said.


I could tell she was as offended as I had been. “He said I had the shoulders of a horsewoman,” I explained. “He said he meant it as a compliment.”

“What? You don’t tell a woman she’s got the shoulders of a horsewoman. Why did he tell you that?”

“Because I have broad shoulders,” I said, sitting up and throwing them back to demonstrate. “He said he loved my shoulders because they make me look so strong.” My shoulders have always been my least favorite body part; I’ve always felt more like a linebacker than a horsewoman.

“That’s ridiculous,” Shanna said. “You are very well-proportioned. I bet he was just intimidated by you. What an ass.”

We sat back in silence for awhile, enjoying our mind-haltering substance. A few more stitches tugged my heart back together. Then Shanna added: “You wouldn’t want to be saddled with him anyway.”

“Oh my God,” I said. “Just stop it. Stop it now. Let’s go in and order another pizza.” I reared up from my patio chair, all rippling muscles and barrel-chested, my shoulders suddenly able to bear the weight of the world and ready to pull three plows.

Shanna was still cleaning up the patio table as I stood in the open door, letting the moths in and the air conditioning out. “You better hoof it,” I called to her, following her lead.


Shanna left yesterday, and today… one week after my fridge was fixed…I finally went grocery shopping. Sometimes it seems like such a chore to shop by myself, haul everything into the house, then put everything away. Not this time though. I had washed out both the freezer and fridge and was excited to restock them. As I did, I remembered something the repairman had said: “You got off easy this time. New refrigerators are costly.”

So are broken hearts, I thought, setting my Texas toast onto a freezer rack.

So are broken hearts.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Logical Fallacy

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Every semester at this time, my class moves away from personal writing to persuasive writing. It pains me to even write that, for what is persuasive writing or speech without a personal touch? What is persuasive speech without risk and trouble.

There’s a class period every semester around this time—yesterday in fact—when I lead my students through the list of “logical fallacies”. We go over the definition: “errors or flaws in reasoning.” I emphasize that while logical fallacies are indeed wrong wrong wrong…actually, they hold great sway over “people”, whoever your people might be.

The truth is, my students don’t need to persuade or convince “their people”. They need help paying for school, getting babysitters, driving off icky people in their lives, paying the rent, catching the bus, and finding time to sleep. But I'm required to teach them this unit, so here we go. It'll matter one day.

As I approach the topic of logical fallacies, I want them to know that these are bad weapons, but weapons nonetheless.

We go through the list and I pick out my favorites, the ones I think my students will respond to. Remember: we are in an overly warm classroom and it’s 3:30 in the afternoon. I only have my body and brain to teach with.

And it’s a tough crowd.

“Either-Or!” I shout, running around like an idiot, my regular song and dance. “Have you ever heard ‘it’s my way or the highway?’” I stop running and look to see if indeed anybody has heard of it. Always, somebody has.

“Yeah, that means there’s no compromise. You have to do what the other person says.” Of course my heart sinks with that person’s defeat, but my job is to rise rise rise.

“That’s right,” I say cheerfully. “But that’s kind of like a threat. For the most part, we should always have choices.”

I blather on in on overheated room with disinterested students who are thinking of their one million responsibilities at home and work. My students don’t have a lot of choices.

I wake some students up by shouting, “Personal Attack!” It’s another logical fallacy: It’s not fair to insult your opponent with harsh words.

Everybody in the room understands that. We talk about adult fights vs. what we would say to our children. I say, “It’s okay to get after your partner or your mother with some harsh words to make that person stop doing a drug or hurting you in some way, but you wouldn’t address your three year old child in the same tone if you wanted her to start peeing in the potty, right?”

Everybody looks at me and the room falls silent. The concepts of tone and audience and purpose slowly start seeping into the conversation. They’re getting it. They want to potty-train their children.

We go over my favorite of all the logical fallacies: sob story. “Manipulating readers’ emotions to lead them to draw unjustified conclusions.”

I ask them: “Do you remember the flies that were eating the sick children’s eyes when Sally Struthers asked you for money on TV?"

Students don’t remember this and it makes no impact at all. I make a mental note to never use this reference again.

“Have you ever seen a starved animal in a commercial on the Internet, the bones sticking out, and they are finally receiving medical treatment after the good guys come in?”

“Yes!” My students like to get some things right and for God’s sake I like it too.

“What do you think the commercial is wanting you to do for the sick starving animal?” I shout.

“Give money! They want money!”

My students get it right.

I try to rein in the lesson and make larger sense of it: logical fallacies are not fair ways to argue, but they will win you points in life, and sometimes money too.
I end the lesson because the hour is up. I almost too excitedly look forward to our next class lesson, because—of course—this is just the start.

You can’t reach the moon until you have the correct equipment.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


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You can’t think of anything funny, so—to save yourself from a negative day—you go inside yourself to dig up what might have been funny in the past.

You can only think of yourself as the butt of jokes, the one who made everyone else laugh.

When you were five, you liked to play hide-and-seek, but your older siblings were so much older than you that they could not quite be bothered to hide. Instead, they trailed you around the house and yard—always out of your sight—making themselves unfindable. Frustrated, you would ask your dad, “Where is everybody?” He would smile because they were right behind you.

You developed an anxiety disorder.

One day, one of your older sisters decided to drag you by your ankles across the length of the house. Your shirt rode up, resulting in a rug burn that rivaled a slave’s whipping.

You were mad for the first time in your life, but you were not allowed to swear. You didn’t even know any swear words. So you stood up, confronted this older sister—blood staining the back of your shirt—and you made up a dirty word: pig-swine. You knew that pigs were bad and swines were worse.

“Pig-swine!” you howled. Then you attacked your sister by pinching her belly. That would be the extent of violence in your life: pinching older siblings’ bellies and yelling, “Pig-swine!” whenever you felt intimidated, unappreciated, or used.

It didn’t work then, and you’re sure it wouldn’t work now.

You held a mass in your bedroom during the Super Bowl when you were eight. For this, you pressed the life out of sandwich bread to make wafers, and dumped all of your older sisters’ bottles of perfume into a soup bowl to make holy water. Everybody came to your mass during half-time, but you got yelled at later.

You farted one time while everyone was watching Happy Days…maybe you were ten, almost a grown-up by then. You were sitting in a big wing-back chair in the back of the living room and thought you could get away with it. Due to your special luck in the world, the wings trumpeted the noise and the smell of your fart to the rest of the people in the room, who happened to be your older sisters lying in front of the TV with their boyfriends.

Everyone turned their heads—five or six faces looking at you with disgust, some of them really cute guys—and one sister said, “Katie, oh my God.”

You shrunk.

You were the only person in the world who had ever farted.

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You are timid and shy by nature, overwhelmed sometimes with adult needs and rules. Your best and most favorite place is your parents’ closet. The older kids who really don’t live in the house anymore have no idea how cool this space is. Behind your parents’ hanging clothes—in the space underneath the stairs that lead up to your sisters’ world—are the sleeping bags.

This is where your parents store the early history of their life. You’re too young to remember all the camping trips, but for some reason you love these green bags.
They’re all rolled up and forest green. There are seven of them, all cloth, all harboring the smells and ideas and history of a family. You go back there with a flashlight and a book, not even knowing that you’re hiding.

Your mother calls out, “Kathryn, where are you!?” Crawling out of the back of the closet, you give away your third-grade secrets. The older girls are hanging around and you get confident. Unfortunately for you, confidence manifests itself with swinging on the refrigerator door. For some reason, you throw your eighty pounds onto the open swinging door like it’s a carnival ride.

What were you thinking?

Your mother comes around the corner and spanks your butt. As she should have. Any mother would have.

This is the first spanking that you’ve ever received, and the last. Shamed and tearful, you retreat back to the closet.

You overhear a heated conversation taking place in the kitchen, grown women arguing about whether or not it’s okay to spank a child who has been so good up to this point.

Your mother says, “She was swinging on the refrigerator door! That is unacceptable!”

Your sisters shake their heads. They’re still in training.


Feeling like an example, you trundle towards the rest of your life. You learn new swear words, but rarely use them. You long for that pile of forest green sleeping bags.

You keep being funny.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Birdmonster II

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Woody Allen crept up on me the other night in the bathroom again, just like he did last year. What a nuisance--still trying to get me to spread my wings. “The heart wants what it wants,” he breathed down my neck.

Yeah, I know, I thought.

My spines tingled. My scales stood on end. No words came from my beak, but my eye rolled.

“The heart wants what it wants,” he repeated. “There's no logic to it. You meet someone and you fall in love and that's that.”

"And that's all you have to say after a year?" I said to Woody. "You are no help."

But how did Woody Allen know--one full year later--that I had met someone new and fallen in love again? Why was I still a birdmonster, listening to him? The last time I let my heart have what it wanted, all my feathers fell out and my lovebird went to jail. I was left with nothing, not even conversation.

The next day, when I was more myself, the phone rang: it was my dad, who has Parkinson’s and is not always himself either. In his heyday, he was well-known in Minnesota as a very tough and scary guy. Woody Allen and Jim Mohler: bipolar opposites. It's my luck to know them both. After some chit-chat about health and hunting, we got down to business. “Tell me about this new guy in your life,” my dad said.

Yada yada yada, I said. “And I’m thinking of bringing him home for Christmas.”

After a moment of silence, my dad uttered the low guttural sound that I have heard so many times throughout the years. It comes from the back of his throat and is half growl, half foghorn. It comes from decades of having his five children show up in his home, his castle, with one sorry man after another, one more wholly deficient human being and needy stranger who would wreck the peace and harmony of his holiday, not to mention his child’s finances and mental stability. The foghorn part says, “Keep your ship out of this goddamn harbor.” The growl speaks for itself.

I hung on the line while my dad uttered his feelings about meeting my new beau: one long and wordless warning. A chill ran down my spines, but not out of fear like in the old days. I straightened up and had to smile: my dad was still in there, my same old logical dad. I hadn’t heard the foghorn growl in a long time. It was music to the inner chambers of my tissue flaps.

The other line was beeping. I put my Dad on hold. It was Woody; that guy knows everything.

"Woody, sorry about my dad," I said. "He is totally old-school. But I personally loved all the trysting in Hannah and Her Sisters." Maybe because I didn't mention or praise any of his new work, *poof*, Woody was gone. I'm sure we've all seen a guy disappear. It's not like it's magic.

I went back to my dad.

While I'm not the most Halloween-oriented girl in the world, I still respect people's needs and wants and desires to freak out on Halloween. Some people become their most beautiful and shiny selves.

I get tricked.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Gun Shy

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Maybe writing about guns on campus is not an appropriate topic for a lovely Sunday morning. Guns on campus: hold on, everybody’s at church today. Everybody’s going out for breakfast in their best duds. Why bring guns up and ruin everything?

Because once a gun has been brought up and fired, usually everything is ruined.

I remember my first time in a classroom worrying about a fellow student with a gun. It was at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in 1990, and we had a weird kid in the creative writing program. He would get up in the middle of class and go stand in the corner—with no prompting, no warning. The teacher wouldn’t even acknowledge him. He would just stand in the corner wearing his overcoat, his head down, while we discussed student writing. I forgot about that guy; only years later when I saw The Blair Witch Project was I reminded of him.

I didn’t know to be afraid of this student in 1990 because guns and schools hadn’t mixed readily yet. I was taken aback when he was removed from campus and sent home because he did indeed have a gun in his room.

That’s where the fear started for me—when I was just a student—but now that I’m an adult, and a professor, and surrounded by convicts and troubled souls and desperate students at my community college, I am afraid once again. It’s so easy for the legislature to toy with allowing guns on campus, but I wonder if they’d change their mind in the face of a hostile student, a student upset about poor grades…an angry student left alone with a teacher in a classroom somewhere at night.

It is not so common that teachers shoot students. It is more common for students to shoot us.

People ask me if I like my job. I have to say yes—for the most part. But I’m all for metal detector stations that we all have to pass through before coming onto campus. If we are state employees, then we should get all the considerations and benefits of a state building: no guns. Certain confrontations end up making me feel like I should retire as soon as possible, before the campus becomes a full-on military zone.

We all wonder when our last day will be. As an instructor at a community college that accepts nearly everyone from all walks of life, takes their money but fails about half, I’ve sometimes wondered if any particular teaching day will be my last. There was the day in 2001 in my creative writing class—right after Columbine—when one of my students claimed to be “the third shooter”. My blood ran cold. I wanted to believe he was writing fiction, but he had labeled it nonfiction.

I did not sign up for stuff like this, did not sign up to be a police officer. After counseling services for my students--and intervention teams and SWAT teams and the FBI became involved--I felt a little better. This kid just had an active imagination, right?

Actually, I felt a little worse.

It's been ten years and I’m still gun shy. A student hasn’t pointed a gun at me and shot yet, but I’m waiting. So far it’s just been hard words, insulting gestures, and the crossing of all lines. I live in Arizona where the governor is waiting for good reasons for students to carry guns on campus. That fact is frightening in and of itself.

Most of the time when I teach, I’m upbeat, cavalier, sassy…anything to rally the troops and maintain their attention. But when it comes to dealing with individual students who bring their fathers into my classroom in hopes of intimidating me, or an ill-prepared student walking into my office hour to tell me I’m a rotten teacher because I write (in my leisure) about condoms breaking and resulting miscarriages…I don’t want those kids to have guns.

I don’t want a teaching day to be my last day.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Love Bites

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My neighborhood has been overrun with stray cats. There is Ballsy, the dangly-balled black male who flops on top of my cinder block walls with his privates hanging halfway down to the hedge. He drags his junk through the gravel in my yard at night; I wake up to see “BALLSY WAS HERE” spelled out wherever Ballsy was.

There’s Orangey, the orange tabby cat who was either abandoned by a poor but friendly family, borne of friendly felines, or both. Orangey is so friendly, she doesn’t know what to do with herself, so she waits for me in the morning and comes flying out of nowhere when I bend over to get my newspaper. Sometimes I pet Orangey because I feel bad for her; sometimes I just tell her she’s a good girl, and I go in. This morning I scratched Orangey’s back and tummy when she dashed over to head-butt my legs, and she love-bit my wrist.

Orangey gets excited and forgets she has teeth. I know how that goes, on a few levels.

Nodding my head in acceptance of my own flaws and understanding of hers, I went in and dumped hydrogen peroxide on my new bloody scratches.

Emerging from the bathroom with light gauze on my wound, hoping that no one at work or in the world at large would think that I had tried to commit suicide, I glanced out the back window. There sat Patty—short for Cleopatra—the brown and black long-haired vixen whose tail is so big, eyes so wide, she looks likes she’s about to do a pole dance at any second. She looks like she’s about ready to eat you alive.

I don’t like Patty.

Patty patrols my yard like it belongs to her. I can’t be out there all the time hosing her down to chase her away; she gets a leg up on me once in awhile. Like yesterday: I was grading at the kitchen table and heard what I thought was a baby crying. Either that or a dog’s mournful howl. I couldn’t be sure: I don’t have dogs or babies. I have cats.

After running thoughts through my mind for awhile—I love this essay, what a good student, I’m so glad I teach, why is that baby crying, I don’t know of any babies around here, all the houses are abandoned, I bet that’s a dog left outside by its owners, I hate it when people do that, how cruel. I wouldn’t leave my cats outside. Hold on, sometimes animals can sound like people. I should check—I got up, looked out the patio doors, and saw Patty. She was meow-screaming at Ballsy…who was hiding behind my potted plants.

So much for male dominance.

But that was yesterday and today was today, me dripping blood once again. I stood at the back window with white gauze wrapped lightly around my new wounds, looking at Patty all wild and bushy, beautiful but unappreciated, once again agitating my own cats: one hiding under the bed, one obviously wanting to mate with Patty but not knowing why or how.

I was tired of people not doing their jobs, not having jobs, everyone and everything that’s been left behind…not only in my neighborhood but in my state and others.

I made a fist and banged on the inside wall of my home, shouting, “Get the fuck out of here!” to Patty.

This distant rumbling only made Patty run around the corner. It scared my own cats more. It actually scared me.

From personal experience, I know that when anger builds, everyone suffers. Situations get even more complicated when it’s hard to determine who’s to blame.

Ashamed of myself for losing my temper—with new pain in my hand—I returned to the day’s tasks as if nothing had happened.

I didn’t know what else to do.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pretty Girl

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When a single girl has been under the weather for as long as I’ve been—first with an upper respiratory infection and then Allergic Conjunctivitis (basically just the tiniest of flying monkeys poking your eyeball with a thousand splendid needles)—she runs out of food.

That’s what happened to me. When I first noticed my health slipping, my larder was already low: one banana, one pear, five slices of bread, no soup. I had a bunch of eggs. I ate so many eggs while I was sick that I can’t bring myself to look at one now. I also remember sometime during the haze of decongestants, expectorants and my general sleepiness, walking outside to get my mail. Not having showered for three days, a patch over one eye, and in the same pajamas I’d been wearing for God knows how long, I ran into my neighbor Steve and his dog Max.

“Arg,” I said.

“What’s wrong with you?” Steve said.

“I’m sick,” I croaked. “You have any chiggen nuggle soup?”

“Yeah,” he said. “Watch Max.” He went in to get me a couple cans while I patted Max’s head.

“Gurgle,” I said when he returned. I dragged my Yoda-self back into my house.

Now—about two weeks after that whole mess started—I’m feeling 90%. Yesterday was my own personal “coming out day”, the recovering debutante: I would clean myself up, go out into the world, eat a hotdog with the King of Hotdogs, return to my gym…and buy groceries.

I wanted to look extra-pretty since I’d been extra-ugly for so long, so instead of wearing my eye patch under my glasses, I put my contacts in for the first time in weeks. My one infected eye didn’t complain, so off I jaunted.

First, I went to see my old friend the Hotdog King, a.k.a. Pittsburgh Willy. We are both on the mend from various ailments. We commiserated on the patio of his restaurant for awhile before Willy started his usual line of questioning: “Why are you single? Pretty girl like you? Smart and financially secure, great sense of humor, warm and kind. I can figure most people out, but I don’t get you.”

As I ate my nummy hotdog (with mustard and onions and jalapenos, my first real sustenance in days), I considered Willy’s questions. Why am I single? “I like to sleep alone,” I said. “I like the quiet. I like my own patterns and schedule.” As always, bad memories of not being single started seeping in. “I don’t like to wonder, when it comes to a man. I don’t like to be messed with.” I finished my hotdog along with my story: “If I could find a man with his own interests who wouldn’t mind having his own wing in a large house, who would meet me in the kitchen for meals and to share news, who would cuddle with me on the couch at night to watch a program, and who would sleep peacefully with me in a very large bed, then I would consider a mate.”

“I hope you find him,” said Willy.

In good spirits, I left the hot dog restaurant and walked back to my carriage. “Giddy up,” I said to my car, and we went foraging for bird seed and cat food at the pet store. My right eye began to feel slightly irritated, like the tiny winged monkeys were sitting behind my contact and sucking on it. I wished I had some eye drops, but didn't.

I sucked up whatever the monkeys were doing and worked out at my gym, and then finally the crowning glory: grocery shopping. I usually end up shopping for food wearing tight sweaty workout clothes and dirty sneakers; it’s just the way my schedule happens.

As I walked into my farmer market store, all the tiny monkeys in my right eye started stabbing my contact from behind. I could hear their faint chattering: Get this out of here! We no like!

I tried to fight with them for about three minutes, standing in front of the pumpkin display bawling from one eye…this eye about to erupt. I felt like the mother of me—suddenly and quickly having to make a major health decision for my child, which in this case was my eye—so I stepped into an empty aisle, stuck my finger in there, and removed my right contact. Ahhhhhhhhh, sweet pain release. The monkeys went back to wherever they stay when they’re not bothering me.

I had never removed a contact in a store before, and I didn’t know what to do with it, so I simply flicked it away. Goodbye, pain-maker. Not sure where it landed.

And then commenced the one-eyed grocery shopping. What looked good out of my left eye? I found myself veering left which is why I now have more eggs. I know my store so well that I just patted my way around to find the bulk bins, the bananas, the bread. I couldn’t read what kind of turkey lunchmeat was on display, so now I have an array—one of each. Soon my kitties and I will know what “southern fried turkey” tastes like, as I discovered when I got home. We’re used to low-sodium.

I had to drive home with one contact in, the other one plastered on your next can of organic gluten-free soup. I was worried about backing up, not seeing how close or far people might be, if I would recognize landmarks on my way to my house. But I did fine, because I do it all the time. I have my habits and my routes; I always know where I’m going. One-eyed or not, I could drive my way back home. My right eye helped a little bit, at least letting me know it was still daytime and I did not have to turn on my lights.

I hauled my purchases out of the car: two forty-pound bags of birdseed, all my own lovely food…then my purse, my gym bag, the squeaky stuffed animal I bought for neighbor Steve’s dog. Before I did anything else, I went out back and tossed the squeaky toy over the fence, a surprise for Max. I like doing that.

I like doing a lot of nice things. But I guess I like doing them alone.