Yesterday morning we were out of coffee, which I hate. It took everything I had to power my body down to the Safeway. I thought I’d take just one of the dogs with me, so I took Edward, the handsome beagle. I tied him to the bike rack as if he were the horse I rode in on. He barked louder than I’ve ever heard an animal bark in my life, and then I paid $2.25 for the world’s worst coffee. (Safeway, what the fuck? You burn your coffee every single time. It’s not an anomale at this point, you just serve burnt coffee.) A man loomed by the bike racks.
“That dog’s got some anxiety issues,” he said.
“I know that.”
“Looks like he’s got some coon hound in him.”
“He’s a beagle.”
“And some pitbull.” the Man added. “You can see it in his face.”
“No. He’s just a beagle.”
Mind you, I’m not inordinately attached to the idea that my dog is a purebred animal, and he doesn’t have fucking papers or anything, but for some reason I found it incredibly irritating that this guy didn’t know what a beagle was. He persisted again:
“I’d say he’s part coon hound, part pitbull.”
“Sir, you’re just describing what the parts of two dogs add up to, which is a beagle.”
I tried to look up dog training videos on how to train your dog to be tied outside of a business without crying, but the searches just came back with “Don’t tie your dog up outside of a business.” You can’t win.
The dogs love me. They follow me from room to room; they whine and cry when I leave. I am the new love of their life. I take them for lots of walks. Earlier, the smoke had cleared and the wheat colored hills to the north had no cows on them, but now the smoke is back and there are cows. I think they’re cows, anyway. They could be black mounds with legs, but who would go to such trouble.
The dogs love me, but they fear and respect my roommate. The beagles got out and wouldn’t listen when I told them to come in. I said, “Jesse, call your dogs.” And Jesse said, “Get in the house” and it’s like they understood English; they just ran inside single file. Jesse said to me, “Here’s the difference between you and me: You ask them to do things, and I tell them.”
I hate that, but he’s right, and I don’t understand the difference. There’s a finality inside of Jesse that doesn’t exist in me, and I don’t know how to find it. I read about dog training all day long, and Jesse just does it. It pisses me off.
I might have to stop writing about my roommate so much, for a lot of different reasons.
1. It’s weird to make an art project out of your relationship. It’s just plain weird.
2. He said in the beginning that he wanted me to write about him, but that always has its limits. He was a little sore the other day. He said “I just wish you wouldn’t write about me with your emotions” to which I said, “What the fuck are you talking about? That’s how I write everything.”
3. I can never get to the heart of the matter. The really good stuff is classified. To really get to the heart of Jesse, you have to rip him open, and then he’d be dead and it would be too serious.
4. My roommate is damaged goods. He’s an abused pitbull who snarls and bites people who try to get close to him. He’s misunderstood and he’s been hurt in the past. It sounds condescending, but I don’t mean it that way. Jesse is smarter than me, and he knows how to take care of himself, and it’s thrilling to watch him navigate the world. I love him exactly how he is, but there’s something wrong with him. He’s not like normal people. I think he might be the three-legged dog I’ve been dreaming about.
5. I should save him for the book.
One of the mini poodles escaped today. Two hours of unmitigated anxiety, plus imagining that phone call: “Funny story, I killed your dog…” But he came back. After that I had lunch with an author in town who invited me out specifically to remind me of my potential. He said, “You could write anything you put your mind to.” Being reminded of your potential is fine when you’re using it, but when you’re just sitting around not writing, it cuts like a knife. I’m not mad at anybody, I’m just anxious. Not writing feels like your dog ran away and you don’t know if he’s ever coming back. I should put an ad on craigslist. My beloved book has gone missing! Send help.
Casey Hannan and I did this story exchange thing for Story Tapes. Watch it! I am robotic and my eyes are all wrong, but I think look pretty.