About managermickey

Maggie Estep is a writer.

I Will Be Hot At Ninety

This morning, idly glancing at the Twitter feed on my phone while spooning gruel into my mouth, I clicked on a link to a blog post entitled “You’ll Never Be This Cool: Women of a Certain Age Edition” written by Michele Tea.

Michele Tea has some serious feminist and literary cred so, all the more surprising that she doesn’t see what she’s doing here.  In short, she’s lumping all women over 40 (including some who are so far over 40 that they’re DEAD) into the “Women of a certain age” category.  This includes Emmanuelle Alt,  the incredibly hot and powerful  42-yr-old editor of Vogue.

Ms. Tea means well, I’m sure, posting photos of eccentric, interesting women old enough to be Gaga’s grandma, but it’s not very well thought out (like anyone would lump 42-year-old and 80-year-old men into the same category of OLD) and ends up TOTALLY feeding the hype that a whole bunch of us are past our prime and can only distinguish ourselves by wearing garish outfits or being famous and, even so, we are still “of a certain age”.

Generally, I don’t go on about this sort of thing.  I’m reasonably confident, I look pretty good, I figure I’ll still look pretty good when I’m 90, if I make it that far.  But I hate to see a smart sister with lazy thinking.

I’ve had some Botox injected into the area between my eyebrows, the frown spot,  because, while I’m fine with crows feet, perpetually tired eyelids,  and all the other things that happen to faces and bodies as they march through the years, that one little spot feels like the spot where bad thoughts collect. By paralyzing it with botulism, I discourage bad thoughts from coming.  Seriously.  I feel like it works.

But that’s it for me.  No face lifts or liposuction or implants.  One, those things are expensive but, more important, they usually end up making the person look REALLY FUCKING WEIRD, a walking placard that screams: I HATE MYSELF.

Even when I was really young, I found old guys as attractive as young guys and that’s never really changed. I find some 75-yr-olds as hot as some 22-yr-olds.  But, as any of my friends will attest to, I have “weird” taste.  I don’t see the physical vessel as much as the spirit it’s carrying. I think that’s why I inject my frown spot with botulism.   I feel like it’s the one area of my body that advertises worry,  that works against the basic tenets of my spirit.

Maybe that makes no sense at all.  But that’s okay.  I don’t claim to make sense.

I do claim to despise the very expression “women of a certain” age though.





Kill The Poor

I finished real estate school and, amazingly, passed the first of two exams, math included.

But my soul is a little sick.

I met several interesting and lovely people who I know will be honorable in their future real estate dealings but, mostly, real estate school taught me a lot about capitalism, the killing of nature, and why most folks are suspicious of real estate agents.

To wit, the instructor for our final three sessions.  We’ll call him Mr. Kill The Poor.

We were discussing deeds and deed restrictions.  You know, that piece of paper, handed down from the original owner of the property to the next owner. If that original owner put a restriction saying No ranch houses may ever be built on this property then that has to be adhered to by every subsequent owner.

The only way a deed restriction can be removed if it discriminates against a protected class of people.   For example, “No Irish” won’t fly.

After our instructor had repeatedly used the phrase  “the blacks” to refer to black people, telling us that it is a violation of the Fair Housing Act to say to a client “South Albany is where THE BLACKS live” (and he was not referring to The Blacks, that displaced Hurricane Katrina family who moved in with Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm) after Mr. Kill The Poor had referred to black people as THE BLACKS for the third time, I got agitated.

Then, he made some remarks about “foreigners.”  When he and Mrs. Kill The Poor go shopping at outlet centers, most of their fellow shoppers are FOREIGNERS and all announcements are made in several different languages, “You have to hear an announcement in four or five foreign languages before they finally say it in English.”

At this point,  I innocently raised my hand and asked:  “So, If I want to put a deed restriction that says No members of the Tea Party may ever buy my land I can do it?”

Mr. Kill The Poor choked slightly then said: “Yes, you could.”

Some of my classmates laughed.  Some never spoke to me again.

The real estate school is in the outskirts of Albany.   A sprawl of industry, malls, chain stores. There was an “Impeach Obama” placard in front of a Rite Aid just down the road.

We moved on to the topic of investment property and Mr. Kill The Poor started talking about landlords who own buildings and let tenants live there while paying below-market rents because they good tenants are nice people.

“That’s just stupid.” Said Mr. Kill The Poor.

When Mr. Kill The Poor buys a building (and he buys a lot of buildings) and finds someone (he used the example of a little old lady)  living there paying $600 a month when market value is $1000, that person is OUTTA there. 

“And if you’re concerned for that little old lady,” Mr. Kill The Poor said,  “then you should go into social work.  But first, become a Democrat.”

He really said that.

It gets better.

Back to deed restrictions.

He gave an example of an older gentleman who owned a corner lot near the Albany airport.  This gentleman, we’ll call him Mr. Bicycle, had a bicycle sales and repair shop on his corner lot.  He’d been there since before time.  Or at least since before the value of his land skyrocketed.

Mr. Bicycle was a stubborn ol’ coot and didn’t want some corporation buying his land and putting in a chain store.  In his deed, he specified that the land could ONLY be sold to someone running a bicycle shop.

“We were all wringing our hands,” Mr. Kill The Poor said, referring to himself and his fellow investors.  “That land was worth millions and we were afraid the old man would die with that stupid bike shop deed restriction intact. But he finally caved when CVS threw millions of dollars at him.”

I felt my heart breaking into many pieces.

Now, there is the billionth CVS where the bike shop once stood.

If you have a bicycle and it needs fixing, I guess you put it in your CAR, generate some emissions, and drive 20 miles to a bike shop.

Mr. Kill The Poor said a few more awful things.  Like how “the government, and I don’t mean THE RIGHT” wants to make investors pay capital gains tax on Like Kind Exchanges.

Like Kind Exchanges are basically a real estate shell game enabling wealthy investors to avoid paying a cent in taxes — (And, yes, I was the only one to raise my hand and ask: And that’s LEGAL?)

Mr. Kill The Poor is what many of us think of when we think of folks in the real estate business.  He would have been the Alec Baldwin character in Glengarry Glen Ross. And proud of it too.

I don’t know why so many rural poor and working class people are Republican, and vehemently opposed to Obamacare.

I understand that these folks wish to keep the government out of things. In the case of working class Republicans, mostly out of their automatic weapons (yet for some reason, they WANT the government inside women’s bodies) and in the case of rich Republicans, the basic idea seems to be “I was crafty and got rich (or was born rich)  and I’m not paying out a percentage of my income to fund those stupid lazy poor people.”

My grandfather was a Republican.  He was soft-spoken, gentle man who loved cats and was devoted to my grandmother who was gravely ill for many years.  He  worked his way from poverty to being Senior VP of a  major corporation.

My grandfather and I started butting heads over ideology when I was  six-years-old.  But we loved each other deeply and disagreed amicably.

If he were here now, I feel confident in saying he would strongly disagree with most current Republican agendas.  Still, he did NOT think a portion of his earnings should go to funding programs for poor people.   He had worked his way up from nothing, why couldn’t they?

This is perhaps the biggest flaw in the thinking of otherwise intelligent folk.

A lot of people are born into the kind of poverty and circumstances that NO ONE could work their way out of.

Some of us have minds that are just not wired for the rote learning required to take tests with only one correct answer, to work at jobs with strictly prescribed thinking and behavior.  We make up for this by inventing things and creating things.  And most of us are poor or crazy or miserable or all of the above.

For me, selling real estate in an honest way while writing books I  care about is a good path.  My next adventure.

For many, there is no path at all. Through no fault of their own, eating is barely an option, never mind making art.

Mr. Kill The Poor wants those folks out of his buildings and deprived of healthcare and food.  Though, of course, I’m sure they are in his prayers.  Because he is, as he told us, a “church-going man.”











Machine Guns and Underpants

I just finished my second week of Real Estate School. One more week to go then, October 15th, I take the Department of State real estate person test.

There is MATH involved.

I’ve reached a point where I am interested in EVERYTHING (I think we all reach a point when it finally dawns on us that our time in this life is finite and there is so much we don’t understand and haven’t experienced.)  Which is to say, I am actually interested in math, but have come to the conclusion that it makes no fucking sense at all.

Math is, from a philosophical standpoint, COMPLETELY illogical.

I know that can’t be true.  I know that music is math.  That the universe is math.  That math is the explanation of order and of chaos.  But the explanations for math don’t satisfy me.

All the same, I should be working on MATH and  going through my real estate school book with different-colored highlighters, memorizing the way words are used (usually illogically) in contract law and banking lingo.  At the very least, I should be planning my future Realtor Outfits.But I am typing instead.

I never ever ever tire of thinking of Truman Capote’s quip, when asked what he thought of Jack Kerouac’s work: “It isn’t writing, it’s typing.”

That’s why I like to say I am TYPING.  (Incidentally, I like both writers just about equally.)

Today, I’ve been typing my noir novel.  The really squirrelly, unruly one that seems like it was written by a machine gun on acid.  It is almost unreadable in its present state, but I am going to get to the end, discover what the whole story is and how it all resolves (or doesn’t) then go back and instill some sort of order.  (Once I’ve figured out math, I’ll be able to do things like that.)

Last night, after going to yoga and starting to recover from my week at Real Estate School, I put unguent in Mickey’s rapidly healing ear.

I then read the paper, looked at some blogs,  and watched the Miley Cyrus video that Sinead O’ Connor is all up in arms about – (She thinks Miley is being exploited.)

I love Sinead O Connor’s music and met her once when we were both dewy and naïve. She was kind and beautiful.  Now, she’s very upset with Miley Cyrus (whoever that is.)

I watched the Miley Cyrus video in question and just kept laughing.  It is REALLY EMBARASSINGLY DUMB.  It looks like an SNL send-up of those 1990’s Calvin Klein underwear commercials.  Shot all clean and crisp, advertising-style, with a cute girl in white underwear. 

Then the cute girl LICKS A SLEDGEHAMMER and swings naked on a wrecking ball.  I can’t believe anyone thinks it is anything other than goofy.  The only thing anyone is exploiting here is lack of imagination.

In the state of Mississippi, if a person makes more than $3,000 a year, they make too  much to be eligible for Medicaid.  $3,000 a year.  That’s $250 a month.  $8.92 a DAY.  (Yes, I just did the math. Okay.  I used a calculator.)

No CIVILIZED country would allow that.

I never read Martin Amis’ book The Moronic Inferno, a book of essays about America (he borrowed the title from Saul Bellow apparently) but I always liked the title.

Any country where it is legal to deprive people of medical care is a moronic inferno.

Every year, we seem to lurch closer to living in Mike Judge’s movie Idiocracy, which, in summary, is a vision of America where stupidity is lauded and intelligence is considered un-American and punishable by prison and or death.   If you haven’t seen it, watch it.  It’s funny – in a sickening, heart-breakingly accurate way.

What does poverty and the celebration of stupidity have to do with Miley Cyrus licking a sledgehammer? I don’t know. But probably a lot.

And now, I’d better hurry up and figure math out, or I will be contributing to the moronic inferno: Fearing what I don’t understand.





How To Be A Genius

I think I’ve known some previous Mac Arthur Genius Grant recipients, but I don’t have pictures of any of them with Mickey.  So they don’t count.

Donald Antrim, newly minted Mac Arthur Genius, is a very good writer but,  most important, he has made out with my dog.

I think you can see from this picture that Donald is really communicating with Mickey.

Donald and Mickey

This wasn’t a staged picture.  Donald was lying on the bed, talking to Mickey.

No, Donald and I were not IN the bed prior to this picture.  It’s not that kind of friendship. Stop thinking like that.

This is a “G” rated blog post as it will eventually feature Neil Gaiman, whose new book, Fortunately The Milk (best title ever)  is a book for CHILDREN (not adults who haven’t grown up, like me, but ACTUAL children.)

I’m not one of those people who says: “I don’t trust people who don’t like animals.”

Okay. I AM one of those people.

I feel people who don’t like animals have something to hide.  Something they know animals will pick up on.

Donald Antrim and I had already been friends for years when I took this picture, but, seeing the way Donald truly communicated with a creature of a different species made me think more of him as a person  –and as a  writer.  And I already thought lots.

The world is filled with reasonably intelligent people who can put books together.  They go about this methodically, the way you would build, say, an engine.  Some of these people do this very well and even sell shit-tons of books. But the writers I like, they aren’t so methodical.  They tromp forward, clearing brush till they find  the place where the magic rises. They bleed a lot along the way.  I want to know the writers I read can feel – as opposed to just paint – their stories.  I already knew Donald could bleed, but the Mickey and Donald photo confirmed it for me.

Last week, I had dinner with Neil Gaiman.  It’s a long story, but, mostly we had dinner because we have a dear friend in common, the writer Kelly Sue De Connick, and she willed it so.

Kelly Sue is a woman of small stature, but very powerful will.

Neil felt it important to document the occasion of our dinner for Kelly Sue and took this photo with his phone.

Neil always travels with beams of light shooting from his head

He then sent the picture to Kelly Sue, who was, at last, appeased.

It’s not like anyone had to twist my arm.  After discovering that Neil Gaiman is married to that gorgeous force-of-nature Amanda Palmer, I FINALLY (after Kelly Sue had urged me to do so for twelve years) read some of Neil’s books.

Neil bleeds.  Which is to say, he is my kind of writer.   Also, I discovered, he is my kind of human.   The kind of person you feel you’ve known since the beginning of time — and hope to know till its end.

Plus, he has a dog, Lola.

So dinner was really enjoyable, even more so because the brilliant Stephin Merritt and his boyfriend Jonathan also came along.  Stephin Merritt had just adopted a 17- year-old Chihuahua named Zydeco.  But that is a story for another time.

I kept having a niggling thought though: I need to get a picture of Neil with Mickey.

I think Neil gets requests to take photos with all sort of people and creatures and this request from me would probably not strike him as even slightly odd.  But I didn’t want to press at the edges of what I hope will be a lasting friendship.

Eventually, though, I will.

Then, if Neil is given a Mac Arthur, we’ll know:  Mickey did it.



Skin Tight Skirt Suit

As most of you reading this have probably figured out, I write books and occasional magazine things and contribute short stories to a bunch of anthologies. This is what I’ve done for a living for twenty years.

Now and then, I get paid a lot.  Mostly, I get paid a little.

Being broke isn’t very interesting anymore.  Plus, I have to start saving  for opening a dog sanctuary in Mexico, living out my days  as the gringo dog lady.

I like teaching yoga, but it’s REALLY hard work (like, WAY harder than standing on stage in front of thousands of people shouting Fuck Me) and the pay sucks.

So I’m going to real estate school.

I used to think there was very little difference between a realtor and, say, a piranha.

Then, over the last ten years or so, buying and selling and renting houses both upstate and in Brooklyn, I met real estate people who weren’t pathological liars with giant teeth and bad suits.

I have several friends who are realtors.  And, as one of them, Larry, likes to say, I am a Total Real Estate Slut.

I LOVE looking at houses and watching trends in the market, like, where and how good Return on Investments can be found.   It’s a little like methodically gambling on horse racing  –except no animals ever get hurt.

I signed up for real estate school expecting  it would be like living in a David Mamet movie. Specifically, Glengarry Glen Ross.   It has not disappointed.

There are about forty of us in the class ranging in age from 19 to 60 something.  Almost everyone is white, and women outnumber men.   There are smart people, not-so-smart people, ambitious people,  people who just want to make a few  extra bucks. One of our instructors  is  SO out of  David Mamet it is eerie. She is 40 ish, curvy,  partial to skin tight skirt suits and dizzying  stilettos.

Not actually my instructor

This woman sells a LOT of houses.  She’s told us she has a coach, a guy who calls her once a week and yells at her for two hours, telling her to sell more houses. She pays this person to do this and apparently it works. She has scripts memorized for pitching herself to prospective sellers.  It’s quite a schtick and REALLY  borders on farcical.  I had to bury my head in my arms several times to avoid laughing.  But, hey, she’s making a lot more money than I am right now. And she’s actually a very  nice woman.  Just a completely different species.

Much as some of you might enjoy the idea of me  kitted up in a skin-tight skirt suit and stilettos, pounding on your door, and giving you a speech about why you should let me sell your house, I don’t think this will be my approach.

I’ll be more of the school of “Hey, if you ever want to sell or buy some real estate, ask me about it, I study this shit and find it fascinating. Plus, I have really good taste.”

We’ll see how it goes.  If nothing else, I’ve already gotten about 40 characters for future stories and books.

And , okay, I admit it, I DO kind of want to get a skin-tight skirt suit and stilettos.  Then, if the real estate thing doesn’t pan out, I can always audition next time Mamet is casting.

The Chicken Story

I was walking through the park just off Warren Street here in Hudson.  Mickey was with me, wearing his attention-getting cone. 

Mick was moving pretty slowly, trying to sniff bushes, but getting his cone entangled, then getting depressed about this and refusing to pee.

An elderly man was sitting on a bench drinking a soda.

“What’s on his head?” The man pointed to Mickey’s cone.

“A cone.” I said.

The man expressed sympathy over the cone.  Somehow, we got onto the subject of food.  The man volunteered that he tries not to eat red meat.

“Chicken is kind of worse,” I said.  “The way the animals are grown is particularly vile.”

“When I eat a steak I slice the fat off,” the man said.

“Ah.” I said.   I guess he’d forgotten the part where he doesn’t eat red meat.

“My doctor’s a vegetarian,” he said.

“Bill Clinton is a vegan.” I said.

“Yeah?” The man said.

“Yeah.  His heart.” I said, tapping my own chest cavity.

“Maybe I should think about that.” The man said.

“Yeah.  Maybe. ” I said.  “I have to go, my dog is stoned,” I added after Mickey knocked his cone into another bush.

I urged my pumped-full-of-pain drugs dog out of the park and back to where we’d left the car.

Then, I got to thinking about chicken.

My friend Laura the Hot farmer wrote a good blog post about her 54 chickens.  It’s very funny. You can read it by clicking here.

Laura and Mickey make out

It’s interesting that people operate under the illusion that eating chicken is healthier than, say, eating a burger.  Factory farmed chickens are raised in even worse conditions than cows.  More drugs, more filth, more fear.  Their bodies are soaked in flavored water to make them taste CHICKENY.

Happy Laura chickens

People who consider themselves health-consciours will often order something like a Caesar salad with strips of CHICKEN on it.

Unless folks are buying chicken (or any animal products)  from Laura the Hot Farmer, or someone like her, they are eating drugs, filth and fear.  Chicken is NOT “better” than beef or pork or veal or hot dogs or eggs or, for that matter, the drive-through window at McDonalds.  It’s all the same.  Seriously.

I have this theory.  That the corporatization of our lives started with factory farming.  It was the discovery of antibiotics in the 1940′s that facilitated raising livestock indoors, in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions. This started driving real farmers out of business.  It’s been seriously down hill from there for us humans  as far as living with any kind of connection to the natural world.  But that’s a whole other story.

This one was just a chicken story.




Shame Is For Suckers

I think shame sucks and leads to a lot of problems.

I wonder what purpose, evolutionarily speaking, shame has served.  Has it made people conform to the standards of others in order to not to be killed or ostracized?

I was a freak as a kid and am really blessed to have learned, (because my parents were weirdos) to embrace and eventually even celebrate not fitting in.

I can’t remember the last time I felt shame.

And I don’t want my dog feeling shame.

He’s just had painful ear surgery.  He doesn’t need shame.

The cone thing dogs and cats often have to wear after a surgical procedure gets called The Cone of Shame.

Cone of Pride

I don’t call it that.  My dog seems to take after me.  He is not ashamed of wearing a cone, he is merely annoyed by it and, now that he’ s slightly on the mend, is starting to try ripping it off his head.  He’s also rolling a lot, trying to move the bandage on his ear and, today, got it halfway off.

Shrouded in cone

This warranted a trip to the vet where the vet called the cone The Cone of Shame.

So I punched the vet and put the cone on him.

Okay, I didn’t.

There is this whole popular thing called Dog Shaming.  I know a lot of people think it’s funny.   I find it upsetting and I won’t put a link to the site but,  in brief:  People hang signs around their dogs’ heads, saying things like “I ate cat poop” or “I stole a sandwich”.  They then photograph the dog with the sign around its neck, looking understandably sheepish.

Did these dog shamers really think, when they invited a dog to live with them, that they were getting a small, fur-covered human?  And if that’s what they wanted, they could have had or adopted a child and, once in a while, glued some fake fur onto the child.

Dogs eat feces and kill bunnies and roll in dead things and lick their buttholes.  There was a time when we probably did these things too.  Maybe we need to get back to that and stop with this shame crap.

Shame seems like a very close relative of bullying.  It’s very fashionable to decry bullying right now.

Let’s make it fashionable to decry shame too.



Old People Having Sex And Masturbating

I promised my new friend Jeanne Fury that I would file a blog post about old people having sex and masturbating.

I’m a girl of my word.

Last Saturday, I read at 2A in NYC as part of Manhattan Litcrawl.  I got there a little early, with a rough and tumble entourage that included my friend Sydney:


And John and Ken of the remarkable band August Wells:

John and Spike (Ken not pictured)

I didn’t know what to expect from this reading, figured there would be five drunk people and my three friends.  I was surprised as we sat watching a very large crowd file into the bar.  Here is a bad photo of part of the crowd:

Very bad picture of crowd, somebody buy me a camera already

The night started off with the host Harold Dean James reading a couple poems, followed by Susan Shapiro reading a funny/sad essay about re-meeting her first love 25 years down the line.

Then, I read two short bits from Book-In-Progress #2.  The second short bit involves an octogenarian masturbating in a leather corset and thigh-high boots. And the boots getting stuck in the folds of flesh on her thigh.

Here’s the thing.  The audience was gasping, groaning and tittering nervously at every mention of the poor 84-year-old character’s sex life.  Like this was the most grotesque thing they’d ever heard. They laughed normally at other parts of the reading involving the exposed body parts of people who could still be considered young.  But old people sexuality? GAK.

I’ve never found old people horrifying.  I once had a job tending the elderly.  This involved bathing them (NAKED OLD PEOPLE!) dressing them, sometimes wiping shit from their asses. I’m not particularly squeamish about this.  I wiped my brother’s asses (sorry, you guys) when they were babies.  The old people were no more or less gross than that.

After I read, Wanda Phipps read some poems that, blessedly for the delicate audience, did NOT involve old people having sex.

Then, the fetching Marie Sabatino read a first person piece about swingers.  I don’t think she mentioned the age of these swingers but it was implied that they were at least young-ish and attractive.  There were some audience gasps during Marie’s reading (she graphically described a very very large penis) but not the kind of shock my poor octogenarian jerker-offer had elicited.

After the reading, on the way back to Brooklyn, my friend Ken mused aloud that I had read about one of the few things he had never fantasized about.  Namely, old lady sex.  He thanked me for giving him future fodder.

Maybe it’s because Ken is Irish.  We Americans are a culture of  squeamish Old People Haters.

We don’t honor (or apparently have sex with)  the elderly.  We stuff them away somewhere and hope that, if they are being sexual, we NEVER have to know about it.

Yet, all of us are either going to drop dead or GET OLD.

I think old people should have sex and masturbate.  A lot.

Also,  I hope to be an old person.


I Am An Idiot

I am an idiot. Or, as my friend Kelly Sue would say, a jackass.

Sometime in the last few days, I noticed an early review of Akashic Books’ forthcoming USA Noir, a Best Of their well-loved Noir series.  I glanced at the review and thought “Shit, would have been nice to be in that one.”

So today I get a big pouch in the mail.  Two copies of USA Noir.  I think “Oh, that’s nice of them, sending me copies of the book.”

Contains the work of an idiot

Then, I look at the table of contents and, um, I AM actually in there.  The short story version of Alice Fantastic, which was originally written for Queens Noir. It’s not like no one told me.  They DID tell me.  I just forgot.

But the big, huge, fantastic part of this is that I AM IN A BOOK WITH GEORGE PELECANOS. 

I can’t convey how much I love the work of George Pelecanos.  But let me try: I love it a lot.

Pelecanos has the economy of words of someone like Elmore Leonard, but more heart.

I was a big fan of Elmore Leonard and learned heaps about craft from spending my first-ever visit to Yaddo devouring fifteen of his books.  Leonard clearly had affection for his ne’er do well characters. But George Pelacanos bleeds for his.  And I love him for it.

Still, I do not love George Pelecanos as much as I love Mickey.

Mickey is safely back from the vet, having had his ear surgery.  He is no longer young though and the experience took its toll. He is very very bleary-eyed and his breathing is still a little raspy from the anesthesia.   I have wrapped him up  in a quilt and he’s sleeping now.  In a few hours he’ll have a small meal and a pain pill. 

Mickey will be fine, though we’ll be negotiating life with a CONE on his head for fourteen days, until the stitches come out.  Also, it seems his left ear will probably never stand straight up again.  He may even have cauliflower ear.  Fortunately, he has enough character and good looks to pull off any kind of ear at all.

And I am an idiot who cannot even remember what books her stories are in.

But there are worse things.


His Left Ear

It’s fine when I have to have surgery.  I’m okay with being cut open, sawed, implanted, jabbed, etc.  But, having to take my animals for surgery is horrible.

Mickey is having ear surgery tomorrow.

The price of having large, magnificent ears is that such ears are delicate.  Stuff gets in there.  They bang into walls.  Flap in stiff breezes. Get chewed on by other dogs in play. And, apparently, are prone to ear hematomas.

Mickey’s left ear at full strength

A month back, Mickey woke up one day and his proud left ear was at half-mast.  I inspected and found a big BUMP in the ear.  It had happened suddenly so I didn’t immediately think CANCER.  I Googled and found it was a hematoma.  Basically a big, aggravated bruise.

We went in to the vet  to have it drained and bandaged .  The vet warned that these things tend to recur unless one does surgery to quilt the broken blood vessels back together.

Now, sure enough, the hematoma is back, the size of a plum, and Mickey’s glorious proud ear is all shriveled up and hanging.  He keeps shaking his head and looking at me with huge, mournful eyes that say DO SOMETHING.

Left ear botched

So I scheduled the ear surgery.  And talked to a friend whose basset hound had had this same surgery.  It is not a huge big deal. But, of course, it IS a huge big deal.

The last time I had to have surgery, I wrote out instructions on who should take my few valuables (Mickey, my Joe Andoe paintings, a first edition Weegee book,  future proceeds from my own books) and handed these instructions over to two close friends in case I died.

A Weegee photo that is not in my Weegee book

One CAN always die.  Usually, I try to remember this EVERY day so as to savor the day as much as possible.

Dogs as a species have survived and made their way from being on the fringes of our lives to sleeping in our beds by reading us (and learning to manipulate us). Mickey excels at reading me.

He knows something is up and I’ve even talked to him about it aloud,  lightly touching his swollen-with-blood left ear as I do so.

But I can’t tell him to write out a will . Can’t explain the risk-to-benefit ratio of surgery. Dogs are not stupid,  and this one is REALLY not stupid, but neither are they PEOPLE.  They understand smells and emotions in a way we can’t dream of, but they’re not that good at assessing risk.

The thing I hate about it most is not being able to explain it to the dog.  And anticipating the look on his face when I drop him at the vet and the tech  takes him in the back.

I would stay with him the whole time but vets never permit this.  With good reason.  My own anxiety would just make it worse and, pretty soon, Mickey and I would both be hyperventilating and whimpering.

Chances are very good everything will go seamlessly and then we’ll have to begin the business of keeping Mickeys’ head bandaged and keeping his Elizabethan collar on for a WEEK.  It’ll be such a nuisance for all involved parties that the anxiety and FEAR OF DEATH will quickly recede.

And life will go on.  With a collar.