One Man’s Pets A.K.A. Girls I Have Loved–Jamie Rodriguez

Today it hit me like a shot to the duodenum: I turn 36 in a few months. 36’s almost 40. 40’s almost dead. 
I also realized I haven’t lived at the same address for consecutive birthdays since I was in my 20s. This will be my 7th straight birthday somewhere new from the year before. Accepting that one is aging and noting a propensity for upheaval in one’s domestic tempo are changes that speak to an evolving, maturing individual. On the other hand, as Gandhi famously said, “the internet is a bitch that must be bedded on a mattress of cute pics of doggies and kitties.” So instead of evolving, I’m gonna share my history with pets, and hope that it inspires you to share your own…petstories? Continue reading

Question for Bloggers (especially if you’ve been Freshly Pressed):

When you include photos/videos/gifs in your blog, do you cite where you found them or who created them? I always provide links or attribute credit for articles that aren’t mine, but I haven’t done so with images because…well, because I don’t have a Youtube channel, and I don’t even have a camera, and I don’t know how to create a gif. But I read that WordPress has a list of “don’ts” when they’re screening blogs to be Freshly Pressed, and one of these don’ts is not citing “copyrighted images.” I figured anyone clicking on a photo/gif/video would be led back to the original site. Maybe I’m wrong?

Do you cite every image you use that isn’t yours, originally?

Everybody poops. But nobody needs to know that.

I have a question.

I’ll admit I’m kind of uncertain about even asking this question. Because it might be a ridiculous question. Because this is the last week of summer semester, and the last week of any semester my I.Q. drops about 30 points. Seriously: ever made soup and poured it into a colander, then poured the remaining solid into a bowl and heard the sad squish sound of soup solids sans broth? That’s not even the clearest sign you’re brain-dulled. It’s the fact that you stare at the bowl for a few seconds, aware that something’s wrong but not exactly sure what. That happened to me last night. That was when I knew twas time to stick a fork in me gulliver.


I was so exhausted by midnight, as the emails kept coming in with more and more essays to look over, I burst into tears and laughter. The laughter was not a sound of joy; it was like a belt snapped and my sanity had rolled downhill away from me. The tears were actually closer to joy than the laughter, though I wouldn’t even call them joyous. I wouldn’t call them anything, because they didn’t feel like my tears. It didn’t feel like I was the one crying. Something inside just…snapped. I heard myself reacting, but I couldn’t control it.

I was in the middle of an awesome sleep when, around 4:30, I awoke to the smell of rotten eggs. This wasn’t the first time this has happened in my current digs. In fact, it’s the 4th time in 4+ months it’s happened. Once again, something was wrong with the plumbing. This meant no using the toilet till a plumber OK’d flushing.


Continue reading

Givers vs. Takers

Borges would approve of this image. But he's way smarter than me anyway.

Borges would approve of this image. But he’s way smarter than me anyway.

In most of my relationships, I am the giver. This can sometimes lead to problems, especially when you’re involved with shameless, aggressive takers. I promised myself after my last relationship ended that I would look to date givers. I have a date later this week with a girl I met on-line. One of the first things she told me, unprovoked, is that she’s “a giver.” We’ll see.

I wonder what drives givers to be givers instead of takers. Or takers to be takers instead of givers. Or either to be one or the other, rather than balanced. Are there balanced people out there?

This is the last week of the summer semester. My students are emailing me their papers left and right, and as is always the case the last week of the semester, I’m so overwhelmed by the intense focus devoted to literally hundreds of thousands of words that every night when I go to bed I have a piercing headache.
Last night one student emailed me her latest revision at 3:00 a.m. This morning in class–that’s a 9:30 a.m. class–the first thing she wanted to know was whether I’d read her paper yet. I’m guessing that one’s a taker.


Are you a giver? A taker? Balanced? Do you date givers, takers, balanceds, or others? Is there a relationship between what you avoid in your romantic life and what you seek or end up encountering in your workplace?



I had a meeting today at work with a new boss. I’m teaching a course in a new department and she wanted to go over some details with me. When I arrived at her office, she asked me to sit, then asked me to wait a second while she fetched “the other professor.” Apparently someone else had been a new addition to this department. Then this someone else walked in the room.

I may have mentioned before that the universe, given her exquisite sense of humor, saw fit to have my ex and I both hired at the same college right after our breakup. In the same department. Our whole first year there, we shared the same desk for office hours (not at the same time…mostly. When we were there at the same time, it was usually polite. Sometimes very polite. But the one time it wasn’t polite…oh, man).

I don’t hate my ex and I don’t think she hates me. But you can’t spend 2 years together, living together the whole time, raising a child together the whole time, then do the predictable hook-up-for-a-few-months-after-breaking-up thing, then have that unilaterally broken off, too, and have everything be hunky-dory. The shift from being the everyday center of each other’s lives to no longer mattering at all’s a bumpy one.

At this point it makes me laugh. It’s too funny. It doesn’t hurt anymore. Doesn’t sting. She doesn’t look the same to me. I’m grateful for that. The first few times I saw her after our breakup, she still looked beautiful to me. Now she looks older. Smaller, somehow. I’ve become grateful for the forced proximity. I think it’s the universe unfolding in a way that guards against scapegoating her or creating a too-cynical memory of what happened. I loved my ex. For a year and a half, it was an awesome relationship. I probably had as much fun with her as anyone I’ve known. When it went south, it was because of both of us. There’s shit I’ll always hold against her. Que sera, sera.

When she walked in to the office as “the other professor,” I hope she saw me and laughed inside, too. As she sat next me, the two of us cramped so close in the tiny room we were almost touching, our new boss asked if we knew each other.

“Yes,” we said, in atonal unison.

Later in the meeting, our boss decided we should meet every Friday during the semester, the three of us, to talk about how things are going. Friday was my only day off this semester. Now…not so much.

At this point, it makes me laugh. It’s just too funny.


Have you ever had an awkward post-breakup experience with an ex? Ever shared a workplace with someone after dipping your pen in the company ink? How does the universe use you as a punchline in its jokes?



One reason Robin Williams probably killed himself




ABC News, a property of Disney, is one of an infinitude of companies announcing Robin Williams committed suicide today. The link is here, for the time being, anyway. At the top of the linked page is a giant red banner reading “WATCH LIVE: AERIALS OF ROBIN WILLIAMS’ HOME.”

I suspect the illogic beyond that banner is related to whatever drove Williams to take his own life.

Comedy 101: dumb = funny

Three clips covering about 75 years: each is funny, each uses wordplay & the vagaries of semantics to be funny. In the short story “Pierre Menard, Author Of The Quixote,” Jorge Luis Borges wrote about what he called “the plebeian pleasure of anachronism…the elementary idea that all epochs are the same or are different.” Do you think these clips, while all related in some ways, illustrate differences about the lives and times they were created in/for? Do they show us the more things change, the more they stay the same? Are they just people being funny?


One of the perks of professoring–in addition to getting paid to choreograph rooms full of people’s thinkings about thoughts, access to all the binder clips you could ever want, and a toilet-to-person ratio that can’t be beat unless you actually work in a toilet factory–is the long breaks between semesters. I taught last spring and am teaching a summer class now and still had nearly two months off in-between. Months off that aren’t the result of unemployment = tears of joy.
One of the downsides of professoring is that months off means months not getting a paycheck. Not getting a paycheck = tears of non-joy.

People Who Aren’t Americans

traingif1 (1)

This is a clip from a remarkable story you can read here; to summarize, a man boarding a train slipped and his leg was trapped between the train and the platform. The commuters briefly waited for train officials to help him free. When that didn’t happen, they worked together to push the train and free the man themselves.

I saw a story like this a few weeks ago, I think from Japan. And as soon as I saw just the headline–“Hero Commuters Lift Train Off Trapped Man In Stunning Footage”–and the gif, knowing no details, my first thought was: Those aren’t Americans. Turns out I was right. They’re not.

How did I know that? Why is this so obviously not something Americans would do?