How To Trust A Chicken

I was standing around at a gathering of friends.  I was talking to Tim 3 (I have several friends named Tim so this one we’ll call Tim 3.)

Tim 3 can sometimes be gross.  Here is Tim 3 being gross at Tim 2’s art opening a while back.

Tim 3

Tim 3 wasn’t being gross yesterday though.  Not that I mind gross.  I’m more nervous about exceedingly tidy, well-mannered people than gross people.  I figure people who do gross things are letting their weirdness and idiosyncrasies show whereas well-mannered tidy people are HIDING SOMETHING.  Probably in back of a panel truck with a lot of meat cleavers.

As Tim 3 and I were yakking, an acquaintance named Patti was standing nearby talking with some other friends about learning to trust a chicken.

Tim and I overheard this bizarre statement and looked at each other.

Tim 3 and I definitely both heard Patti say “I needed to learn to trust a chicken.”

Tim 3 turned to me and said: I never trust chickens.

I said: I had a pet chicken when I was four.

He said: Did you trust it?

I said: Not especially.

Interestingly, this theme of trusting chickens came at the end of a week filled with family, dairy products and EGGS.

I didn’t want to be a total pain in the ass when I visited my mom for Christmas so I ate food made with eggs and butter.  It did not kill me, but my mom and my brothers and niece and nephew all knew I wasn’t that into eating it.  They spoke, slightly mockingly, of my animal welfare concerns.  I tried explaining that while the heinous mistreatment of food animals is why I abstain, another consideration might be FOULNESS and severe risk to one’s own welfare. The animals pumped full of drugs and filth and packed in drugs and filth and shipped and sold in drugs and filth and, guess what ends up inside your body? Drugs and filth!

Ironically, I was always the drugs and filth girl of the family.  Now I’m just the eccentric vegan with a pit bull who got TERRORIZED BY POODLES.

My mom has fifteen poodles. The shock value in the statement “My mom has fifteen poodles” is pretty amazing.

I love my mom and she is a very beautiful human being.  She just has a lot of poodles.  And they are jerks.  They catch one GLIMPSE of Mickey (when we visit, we are banished to the barn apartment so the poodles don’t have to see Mickey much) and they go bonkers, barking and lunging and acting like homicidal maniacs.   Walking on mom’s farm is kind of like being in one of the violent uprising scenes in Planet of the Apes.  Except with poodles instead of apes.   

So Mickey mostly stayed in the barn and I traveled between barn and house, hanging with my brothers and being forced by my tireless 8-year-old niece to hike, swim, and do yoga pretty much continuously when not consuming dairy products.

My mom was constantly rustling around, cooking, grooming poodles, horse whispering, and putting my brothers to work stacking hay, feeding horses, doing horse laundry.

Here is Geronimo the horse, quite naked (and dirty) as his horse blanket was being laundered.

Only my nephew was mellow. Enjoying his break from his CHICKEN business.

My nephew is twelve-years-old, has 30 something chickens, and runs an egg business that he’s soon passing along to my niece.  Hopefully, by next Christmas my niece will be tired out from running the egg business and won’t run my ass ragged.

I asked my nephew what he does with the chickens when they are past their egg-laying prime.  Does he whack them and eat them?  He said some, but the ones he likes he keeps as pets.

Because chickens are like any other animal.  They have personalities and quirks and habits. Some are likable, others, you wouldn’t trust AT ALL.

As it happens, last night, Tim 3 and I learned that our acquaintance Patti was NOT seeking to learn to trust a chicken.  She wanted to learn to TRUSS a chicken.

So that’s a very different story.

Nomad Like Me

So, my new apartment isn’t working out that well.  It’s like living in the East Village in the 1990’s, except Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields lives down the block now instead of directly overhead.  We apparently follow each other everywhere, though we don’t know each other well.   I adore Stephin Merritt, not only for his magnificent music, but for his recent adopting of Zydeco,  a 17-year-old Chihuahua with medical problems.

Zydeco photo by Stephin Merritt

Stephin is safely ensconced in a lovely townhouse down the street and I no longer get to hear him composing 69 Love Songs in its entirety through my apartment ceiling.

The neighbors I do have are distinctly less musical.

There is the inexplicable late night banging from the Indian couple across the way.  Around 11:30 at night, they begin DRAGGING AND BANGING.  They seem lovely when glimpsed from a distance, but, obviously, they are up to something REALLY HORRIBLE.

Then there is the older lady downstairs who has an endless stream of visitors who come in and out of the big fenced yard that was a lure for renting the place. The visitors leave the gate yawning open so that more weird people can wander in and frighten Mickey when he’s trying to pee.  Plus, many of them are drunk or loud or both.  One of them would not stop talking at me and asking me for things.  He was really drunk. Teetering.  I probably could have pushed him over easily, but I don’t want to push people over, unless they’re students in one of my yoga classes. There,  whenever I walk near, people start trying to self-correct wonky alignment and then fall over.

Maybe I should correct the drunk guy’s alignment.  But he would like it too much.

So I’m looking for another place to live and the indignities abound.  Many rentals don’t take dogs.  The ones that do are often as expensive as Brooklyn rentals.  Or really nasty and loud and ugly.  And I have this (apparently) wildly ambitious aim to find a place with a yard I can get to without traipsing through multiple halls and doors and stairways.

To this end, I went to look at the apartment of my friends Therese and Sarah who are moving to Albany where Therese will embark on a stand up comedy career (she is very young and very funny) and Sarah will presumably begin a shoe design business.

Sarah and Therese

When I asked about one of the closets in the living room, Therese said, “Go ahead, you can look inside.”  So I did.  And there were shoes.  Many many shoes.  Many SEXY shoes.

“Whoa.”  I said, “that’ a lot of sexy shoes.”

Sarah’s Shoe Closet



“It’s Sarah’s shoe closet.” Therese said in a way that implied she greatly enjoys having a girlfriend with an entire closet full of sexy shoes.

But the apartment wouldn’t work for me.  No fenced yard and stairs and halls just to get outside and Mickey has a little arthritis coming on and needs to minimize his stair-climbing.

Perhaps we’ll end up moving to my mom’s barn in Maryland.  Though nothing in life is free and my mom LOVES putting her offspring to work.  When my brothers visit, they spend every waking moment fixing stuff, mowing, plowing, dealing with horses, horse laundry, horse feed.  I would be worked to the bone if I lived in my mom’s barn.  Plus, her poodles would terrorize Mickey every day. The whole thing about what even-tempered dogs poodles are?  Total lie. My friend Porochista’s poodle is endlessly bossing around the pit bulls at his dog run.

Porochista and Cosmo the Pit Bull Bully

My mom’s poodles bark and lunge at Mickey as EVERY SINGLE POODLE we ever encounter does.  Mickey, who, as I often mention, has no idea he’s a PIT BULL, cowers and trembles.

So no barn-dwelling for us.

I realize I’m a realtor now and should be able to manifest dreamy little shacks with  yards but, so far, all I’ve been able to manifest are gorgeous houses and farms I couldn’ t afford even if I wrote seven bestsellers optioned for film by the Coen Brothers.

So the search continues and I will keep on peering into the closets of strangers.   And hope to find them all full of sexy shoes.

The Blizzard Outfit

I have been wearing the same outfit for about eight days.  So don’t hug me.

When I have to go teach yoga or do Realtor Biz, I change into appropriate clothing, but, the moment those activities are over, I race home and put my blizzard outfit back on. It is beginning to get ripe.

There aren’t any laundry machines in the building I moved into.

I have not lived laundry-machine-less since, like, the 1990’s and I refuse to devote large chunks of time to schlepping laundry somewhere. So I keep putting my go-to blizzard wear outfit on day after day after day no matter what it may smell like.

I know some folks around town have noticed.  Pretty soon, I’m going to have to announce to everyone I encounter: “I DO have other clothes, but none suitable for dog walking in blizzards.  Also, I have no laundry machines.  Please help me.”

There are many shitty horrible things in the world.  There are also many beautiful radiant things.  In the grand scheme of things, being without laundry is a luxury problem.  But, apparently, I have become a luxury person. I WANT CLEAN CLOTHES. Without having to work really hard to get them.

My blizzard outfit involves the long johns my mom gave me last Christmas,  a bulky sweater, the Boys’ Department camouflage cargo pants I got for $9.99 at Kohls and have worn 567 times, big wooly socks, goofy hat, my fluffy fake fur coat from the local Salvation Army. 

The pricey item of the outfit is a giant magenta DKNY scarf I bought one day in uptown Manhattan when I was heading somewhere where I needed to look presentable and was thus underdressed and about to freeze to death.  I looked up from my freezing misery and there was a shop window with a distinctly toasty looking mannequin wearing said scarf. I went in and bought the scarf, wrapped half of it around my head, the rest around my neck.  I was warm and presentable too.  It was expensive, but it’s now served me four winters.

All my upstate friends here keep saying “I’m trying to pretend I’m really into upstate winters.”

Laura the Hot Farmer is crafting way to de-freeze the pigs watering troughs.

Robin the Kayak Vixen is fine tuning her kayaking skills in a pool INDOORS.

But only one of my friends, Peter, actually is into it, and that’s because he’s one of those Dudes Who Thrives In Cold. He skis and hikes and even rides his bike (a special winter cyclo cross bike with fat tires and a fender) like EVERY DAY.  Peter is not a man of leisure, he has an Actual Job, but apparently gets up at 3am in order to begin the many outdoorsy activities that make him love winter.

The rest of us, seemingly, just lock ourselves indoors and/or grit our teeth, find blizzard outfits, and go out into the world.

The snow-covered world can be very beautiful.  That cottony silence that Hubert Selby Jr. calls the “song of the silent snow.”

The post-blizzard moon rising out the window of my laundry-less, bamboo-floored abode.

But, mostly, it’s just cold, and my clothes smell and my dog’s delicate feet are sore and cracked from the unavoidable salt on the sidewalks.

Move, you say?

No way.  I love it here.

I might love it more in Central America, providing no one killed me.  But that will be an adventure for my future.

For now, I shall be cold and ripe and endeavor to pretend I like it.

So go ahead, hug me.

Travails Of A Tan Sock

The first blizzard is headed for upstate New York and the weather forecasts sound like the last paragraph of James Joyce’s The Dead.

When I was a youngster, I remember hearing that William Burroughs’ advice to writers was simply:  “Read the last paragraph of The Dead. A lot.”

So I did.   I even took a few snippets and worked them somewhere into my first novel.  The copy editor corrected it.  Not for being James Joyce, but for some other infraction.

I especially love the last line: “His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”

I wanted to give Mickey a good long walk this afternoon since we will be barricaded in by snow tomorrow.  So we went to The Historic Site That Shall Remain Nameless where Lulu the Cat is buried.  When she died, the area where she is buried was leafy and green and lovely. Now it is barren and cold but has a fine view of a lake.  I could hear her little warrior cat soul swooning as the bare branches ached and the ice on the lake made singing sounds.

When I first moved to upstate New York, my friend Jenny Meyer began visiting me whenever she could wrestle a few days away from the city.

She would always arrive toting lots of luggage and extra coats and scarves, as if heading for the deep Artic (which upstate New York IS to a girl from Queens via Tehran) – even in summer.    She would go to the guest room, put on a comfortable outfit (comprised entirely of loose red clothing topped off by tan cotton socks) and pretty much stay put, studying Sanskrit, complaining violently at the suggestion of going anywhere.

Note tan sock on elevated foot

Over time, Jenny started leaving tan socks at my place. A lot of tan socks.  It was my job, once Jenny’s visit was over, to launder her red things and her tan socks too so they’d be clean next time she visited.  I dutifully complied.

At some point,  I got low on socks and I started wearing Jenny’s tan socks.  They were remarkably comfortable.

Then, as will happen, I started losing the socks.  A year or so ago, there were still at least three tan socks.   Then, it got down to ONE.

Enter Stevie the Mexican Beach Dog.

Stevie loves socks. They are the greatest things humans ever invented for amusing dogs.

Sock tug with black sock

A couple weeks ago, Mickey and I moved to an apartment here in Hudson.  I want to live alone and COMPLETELY clutter-free so I brought only essentials, leaving  the rest behind, including Jenny Meyer’s last tan sock.

Sometimes Stevie destroys socks, other times he merely transports then room to room.  Occasionally, Mickey will grab one end of a sock and play sock tug, but, mostly, Stevie is on his own with the sock game.

At some point, Jenny Meyer’s last tan sock got loose in the house and I noticed Stevie transporting it.  But I couldn’t catch him and Jenny hadn’t been up to visit in quite some time so I just shrugged, vowed to buy replacement tan socks, and let Stevie have the last tan sock.

Today, after visiting Lulu’s grave, Mickey and I went to see Stevie.  He greeted us by bounding over to the front gate with what appeared to be part of a deer leg in his mouth.  It was fawn-colored and funny-shaped like the half a deer leg Mickey found in the woods one time. 

On closer inspection, I saw the little orange SOCK SEAM and realized it was the last of Jenny Meyer’s tan socks.  Frozen into the shape of a deer leg.

Stevie was very proud of it, kept thrusting it toward Mickey and me, trying to get one of us to play Frozen Tan Sock Tug.

But it was too cold out.  Eventually, Stevie dropped the tan sock and we all went inside and the dogs played with an unfrozen sock.

As for the last tan sock, it is out there, near the garden gnomes, twisted into its deer leg shape, waiting for the blizzard, waiting for the descent of its last end.   By spring, maybe it will have new life.






Bamboo Booby Trap

I don’t care for bamboo.  I don’t like the plant and I really don’t like flooring made from it.

So I moved to an apartment with bamboo floors.

Co-habitation wasn’t working for me.  I’m not good at dealing with other people’s STUFF.  So I chose bamboo over cohabitation.  And Mickey and I moved into a cheerful apartment with BAMBOO FLOORS.

Three years ago, I shared an apartment in Bed Stuy with my friend Cody.  It was a huge apartment and Cody was seldom home – so that worked.   But our small garden was infested with bamboo.  Some genius had planted a really invasive strain of herbaceous bamboo and its root system completely took over much of lower Bed Stuy.  I was frantically trying to grow flowers in that little garden and everything got devoured by bamboo.  I spent DAYS trying to dig up the entire root system, even though it probably originated blocks away.  I befriended neighbors so I could go into their yards and pull out their bamboo roots. They probably thought I was being Really White but, it was a friendly block and everyone humored me and pretended to understand.

I never got a handle on the bamboo there and we never had much of a garden and, anyway, I decided to move back upstate, away from the bamboo.

But bamboo is very popular.  It is, as my new landlord says, “rapidly renewable” and thus embraced by builders with a conscience. It is also cheap.  BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE PLASTIC.  See here (and if it looks sort of good to you in this picture it is just that the eye is pleased by the sight of the dog and successfully distracted from the plastic-y sheen of the bamboo. 

Here, in contrast, is a picture of Mickey on the beautiful wood floor at Sadhana Yoga.  No comparison, right? 

Mickey is still adjusting to our new digs.  And looked suicidal the other day when I was heading out to teach yoga, so I took him with me.

This was a class for a group of developmentally disabled adults.  We’ve been working together for over a year and have a nice camaraderie going.  Some of the gang have met Mick before and they’re always asking about him, plus I trust Mick completely.

So off to yoga we went.

The students arrived and their faces lit up at the sight of Mickey, standing there, wagging his tail.  As they put out their yoga mats and got onto the floor, Mickey went over to each person, carefully sniffed each one, licked some hands and cheeks.

I made him a nest of yoga blankets in the back of the room and gave him a treat and he went to curl up while we started the class.

When it was time for rest at the end of class,  Mickey got up from his nest and trotted from one supine person to the next.  Some hugged him, some just lay there beaming as he licked them. He seemed to have excellent instincts about who needed what kind of attention. 

Now perhaps I can buy him an orange therapy dog vest and fly him in the cabin of airplanes with me when I need to go someplace.

In the Vietnam War, where booby traps were popular, bamboo was employed regularly, fashioned into vicious spikes. I was a small child during the Vietnam war so it’s not like I have some sort of direct bamboo booby trap PTSD, but I do hate the stuff.

One sees bamboo plants in the offices of massage therapists and acupuncturists and I’m sure bamboo has many lovely qualities, perhaps even healing qualities, but I don’t want to know what they are because I prefer to coddle my grudge.

I think one has to be a really advanced person to live completely free of resentment and grudges. Most of us need some sort of pet peeve to hold onto and carry around like a pet rock, taking it out of our pocket from time to time to rub it and coddle the grudge.  Maybe, as such things go, bamboo isn’t so bad.




Unless you want to spend a lot of money, it is virtually impossible to find non-padded bras.  Seriously.  H&M, the Gap, Macy’s.  You can get a no-nonsense jogging bra that smashes your breasts like pancakes or you can get padded bras that may also serve as Personal Flotation Devices in the event of a water landing.   No such thing as a simple unlined black lace bra in the world’s cheap stores. 

Should this concern you if you’re a man?  Probably.  Women’s under things should concern everyone.

In more upscale stores, I see unlined bras.  In high-end lingerie stores, there is barely a padded bra in sight.  But the bras cost close to a hundred bucks.

Does this mean something demographically?  Like that poor and working class women want gigundo breasts?  Only women shopping for $100 bras are okay with non-boob-job looking boobs?

What’s that about?

My friend and mentor Andrew Vachss used to say that men’s tastes for curves and flesh on women were directly proportionate to income.  That working class men like some bounce on their women.  The rich, not so much.

In the olden days, only peasants had sun tans.  In more modern times, being bronzed all over no matter how much skin cancer may result is often an ideal.

I guess I have rich woman taste.  From the time I was approximately four years old, my grandfather would tell me: “You have champagne tastes and a beer budget.”  I was trying to get him to take me shopping at Barney’s by age 10.  I don’t know why really, except the clothes were beautiful and well-made.  They were art.  The clothes at the places he’d take me, not so much.  They felt funny against my skin. They looked like potato sacks.   Much later in life, I had a run of a few really good financial years and had some forays into buying myself stuff at Barney’s.  I was always amazed the sales women weren’t rushing into my dressing room to make sure I wasn’t shoplifting.  I actually CONSIDERED shoplifting because the were no security devices on the clothes and things were pretty lax.  But I would have felt guilty and, anyway, at the time, I could afford it. Sort of.

I don’t want gigundo breasts.  I put one of those padded bras on and I look like a third-rate sex worker.  Like my old friend Kat as she was winding her way down the ranks as an aging stripper.  She was still dancing well into her 40’s, but she had to go out to Queens to get work as her skin lost its dewiness and her proud gorgeous tits began to slowly slope downward.

Actually, I don’t look half as good as Kat when I put on a Personal Flotation Device bra.  I just look like a garden gnome with an unfortunate boob job.

Sometime around 2002 or so,  it got so one couldn’t find inexpensive bras that wouldn’t serve as Personal Flotation Devices.  The rare unlined bra that might find its way into the bra section at modest stores was not actually functional as a bra but had a sole use as Sex Garment.

For years, I’ve mostly worn little “bra-lettes” from the Gap.  Utilitarian sporty type unlined cotton shelf bras that don’t totally smash my tits but don’t augment them to fake boob status either.  But, lately,  for Realtor Life,I’ve had to put together some grown up outfits involving elegant button down shirts that button down very low and prominently display my no-nonsense bra-lettes.  So I went bra shopping.

I went to seven different stores, all crammed with rack upon rack of rack-augmenting Personal Flotation Devices. Finally, at Macy’s, I found an unpadded Calvin Klein bra that didn’t cost a gazillion dollars, functioned as a bra, and was actually pretty. Here. 

See? Isn’t that nice?

So what’s the deal?  Women of modest means must have giant fake-looking breasts while the wealthy may have delicate tea cup tits?