My Unique Ability

I am a person with no particularly noteworthy talents.

This is not to say that I’m not good at certain things, I am. But I’m not “talented.” Nothing comes naturally for me. If I want something, I have to pull it out of my ass with a lot of hard work and sweat and streaky kinds discipline-y kind of activities.  (Like my streak on 750 words.)

But I am coming to see that there is one area in which I am truly remarkable, almost a freak of nature actually.  But before I tell you what that is, I want to tell you a joke, okay?  Here’s the joke. (If you’re not a rural person, you might not get it at first, but I’ll explain later.) Ready?

Why did the chicken cross the road?

(wait for it…)

To prove to the possum that it could be done.


I know. Hysterical, right? (yeah, no.)

Around these here parts (north- central PA) there’s a lot of road kill: skunks, deer, cats, woodchucks, and most of all, possums.  (I know, I know, It’s technically “opposums” but nobody around her calls them that. They’re “possums.”) And they are notoriously oblivious of traffic and how to time a foray across a road. As a result, there are millions of  rotting possum carcasses all along the rural roads of PA.

Here’s another joke about possums:  “Possums are born dead along the side of the road.”

I tell you these jokes because today I was walking my dog around campus, and around town, (the way I do every day,) and I noticed for the bizillionth time that I was: 1. the only person not tapping into a screen. 2. the only person not talking on a phone. And 3. The only person without ear buds in my ears.

And not only was I not talking, texting, or listening to music, I didn’t even have a phone or an Ipod on me.

But (and here is the remarkable part) I had absolutely no anxiety about it. I didn’t “forget” my phone. I never carry it on my dog walk. I don’t want to talk to anyone on the dog walk. I just want to walk. I want to look at other people, and the landscaping on campus (the weeping cherries are in bloom and they are beautiful!) and watch my dog  pinch out a nice tootsie-roll sized poop, and then kick her little back legs into the grass three times in triumphant satisfaction.  I want to praise her, and then pick up the poop in my baggie.

If I was talking on the phone I might miss this amazing event.

As I watched all the preoccupied people on their phones and Ipods and Bluetooths, and as I  steered myself out of their way so we wouldn’t collide (because they were totally preoccupied, and were totally oblivious of me and my Corgi) I thought of the possum joke.

(You were wondering when I would wind back to that, weren’t you?)

“Why did the woman walk the Corgi without texting?”

“To prove that it could be done.”

I think this is my special talent, my special ability: that I can do most things without my phone, and without missing my phone, or worrying/thinking about what I might be missing on my phone.

I feel like by not being engaged with a screen as I walk in public, I am providing living proof that it can be done. (Just like the chicken tried to prove to the possum.)

Also: Because I am not on a device, I can witness the cherry trees in bloom, smell the newly unfrozen earth, and look at cloud formations,. I can notice the subtle daily change in the landscape from winter to spring.

I can also witness you. I can notice your life, I can veer out of your way, and I can try to make eye contact. I can watch your reaction to my dog (if you even look up to notice her.)

I can witness you. I can see you.  You can’t see me, I know, but I can see you.

And by being present and unpreoccupied, I can prove to you that it can be done.

That it, in fact, is.

Cats and Dogs

Cover of "Cats & Dogs (Widescreen Version...

Cover of Cats & Dogs (Widescreen Version)

This is going to be a post about dogs.

1. Dogs are not cats.

2. What a dog needs and what a cat needs are as different as the dogs and cats themselves.

Some people are strictly dog people and some people are strictly cat people and some people are both.

Even if you do not own either a dog or cat, you still know which kind of person you are, don’t you?

Yeah.  Everybody does.

Dogs are a lot more needy than cats.  If you have a happy dog it’s because there is regularity and predictability in your life. Your dog gets fed and walked and played with at regular and count-on-able intervals.  If you miss feeding or walking or playing with your dog at the time your dog expects it, the dog is unhappy and you probably feel guilty, because you’re a dog person and that’s the way you roll.

If you have a dog and your life is all random and unpredictable and you are a self-centered asshole, chances are you will have a neurotic and/or unhappy dog.  Dogs need care, attention, petting, and love.  They are pack animals and you are their pack. If you don’t want to be involved in anyone’s “pack,” or are a self-centered asshole, please don’t get a dog. Get a cat instead.

Cats are not pack animals.  You will have meaning in your cat’s life, but you will never really know what that meaning is.  You might suspect, or guess, or fantasize about the meaning you have in your cat’s life, but you will never really know for sure.  Only the cat can know this.  And he/she will not tell you.

The cat won’t rely on you for very much.  Put down food and water at regular intervals, change the litter, and the cat is pretty happy.  If it gets attention and love at regular intervals, that’s a bonus for the cat.  The cat always assumes that it is your need to pet it, and not its need to be petted that is provoking the petting. It likes to humor you.

Even if your life is random and neurotic and you’re an asshole, the cat is pretty much cool with that.  Most cats dig a certain amount of random and neurotic. They get it.

Dogs do not get it. They hate it. They’ll pee on the rug to punish you for  all your mental illnesses, –even ones you don’t actually have.

If you have a dog and a cat, and you are random and neurotic, you are obligated to get prescription meds and take them for the sake of your dog.  Your cat will probably grow to expect and appreciate any regularity and predictability you show to your dog.  In this, the cat might eventually become somewhat dog-like.

So, to summarize thusfar:

Dog people should be relatively well-adjusted, responsible, not assholes, regular in their habits, happy to be part of a pack and like to take walks and throw frisbees.

Cat people can be random and neurotic if they want, keep irregular hours, get all wrapped up in their projects and jobs and lose track of time and it’s no biggy for the cat.  They’re cool with it as long as you can get your shit together enough to feed them and clean up their shit from time to time.

3. College students should not have dogs.

Most college students, even it they’re not neurotic assholes, do not live lives of regularity, predictability or sanity.  Their lives are chaotic and quixotic and spontaneous and sometimes drunken.  They are trying to get an education and get laid, and figure out the meaning of life, and remember if it’s “beer before liquor never sicker?” or the other way around.

Today I am hoarse in the throat and my voice is 2 octaves lower because Boomer got attacked for the 2nd time by the dogs of college students who live 3 doors down.  As they descended on her, I started bellowing in my biggest, deepest, loudest, “alpha male” get-the-fuck-away-from us voice: NO! NO! NO! And when the college student owner of the dogs came running over to get them, I then laid into him with both barrels and I swear I was *this close* to calling Animal Control and having those dogs impounded, or whatever the hell Animal Control does with them.

The guy begged me not to call Animal Control.  I told him he needed to take responsibility for his animals.

But I doubt he “heard” me. He needs to find those dogs good homes and get himself a cat.