How Dare You Poop On Your Dog Walk!

How Dare You Poop On Your Dog Walk!

Like every apartment dwelling dog owner on planet earth, we walk our dogs four times a day because the alternative is unthinkable. Nobody wants to live in a toilet. Tons of trekking about is the byproduct of having dogs in a city. It’s a non-negotiable activity. So, being surprised or upset by poop is not reasonable. But I was surprised and upset, so there you are. Here’s what happened.

For the past 6 years I’ve been using this time to make art, mostly photos, some video. You can see it all on Instagram. Yesterday we are bopping along, and I see some pill bugs on the pavement. While that’s a pretty common bug, I don’t actually come across them very often. A few years back I made a video where the bugs were the eyes. They start out rolled up and then unfurl and walk away, changing the shape of the face. It’s fun. I wanted to do it again.

So, I collect three bugs, two for starring roles and an understudy in case I drop one. I now need to acquire a stick to become the mouth and something to be a nose. Let me make my physical situation crystal clear. I am holding two dog leashes in one hand. I am holding three pill bugs in another. They are on the move. I keep trying to push them back into my hand and they keep hurrying off towards my fingers and wrist, so I clamp my fingers into a fist. That’s both hands in use. I only have two. I also need to find a stick. Feather decides now is when she wants to poop. It’s not a reasonable response but I feel so angry. I take it personally. If it was holding anything else, I could just throw it in my bag. But I can’t do that with living creatures. And I don’t want to detain them any longer than necessary. I do respect them.

I wait for Feather to finish and somehow collect the poop while holding the squirming bugs and manage to tie the bag off. Now I need to carry that as well until we can find a trash can. So, leashes and poop bag in one hand, bugs in the other. Despite it all I am still scanning every bush for dark sticks.

I know all the dark stick trees and bushes and I am not seeing any. You probably don’t think about this, but most sticks have a kind of medium tone and so does pavement. Since you need contrast, dark is best. I’m scanning around like crazy for a trash can and a dark stick and I am agitated. All the bins are put away and all the sticks are blond. I’m fuming.

Story of my life. Nothing at all is abnormal or wrong but I’ve concocted a scenario to feel stress anyway. It’s almost like I enjoy feeling stress. Hmmm….

OMG! Mulch! Mulch is on the dark side and you can usually find a narrow bit to function as a stick or more accurately a mouth shaped “line” I set the poop bag down and grab a few pieces. Then we finally locate a bin and now I only need to scout a good piece of pavement.

It comes out great! You can see the video on my Instagram (latest post), including finding the bugs. I don’t include the poop bag. You’re welcome. I did consider it.

Despite wanting to feel good every second of every minute, I like my process. I like the randomness. I like the obstacles. They guarantee a novelty that intellect cannot provide.

Too Much

Too Much

I want to do too much. 

I feel like I want to do many different things at every moment and no matter what I pick, I am berating myself for not picking the other thing. No choice can make me happy because I am always NOT attending to something important. Sometimes I gossip to myself about myself and I am not nice.

Of course, this makes me uncomfortable in the present moment. I want to leave this place that is so critical of my choices.

I usually pick something productive yet easy, like doing the dishes, and then I tell myself that when this little chore is done, we will be in better shape to do all the other stuff. I might listen to a podcast so I can’t hear the negativity.

When I am done with that task, I am surprised to find I still feel freaked out about how much stuff needs to get done. 

I am telling myself a lie over and over. The lie is this: You will be happy when all the things are done. Do you know what it’s called when all the things are done?

RIP.

I am trying to stop doing this. I am trying to stop trying. I am experimenting with just being in the activity rather than accomplishing the activity. It’s really hard. That gossipy part of myself is always blathering on and distracting us. She is constantly narrating everything, categorizing everything, ranking everything and comparing everything. It’s so hard to shut her up. But if I succeed without the aid of someone else talking, there is a sense of relief. 

A sense of just enough.

Get Yourself a Superpower in One Easy Step!

Get Yourself a Superpower in One Easy Step!

BACKSTORY

I am in love with learning French through Duolingo, which is an app on my phone. As I wrote in an earlier post, I absolutely dreaded the prospect of studying a language. In my imagination, it was right up there with taking an accounting class on Saturday morning and then spending Saturday night tackling calculus. Boring and super hard. That’s what I thought. 

I can’t stress this enough or you won’t understand how BIZARRE it is to me that the thing I currently want to do the most, even more than make art, is practice my French. What is going on?!

Everybody is different and I don’t want to sound preachy, but I am going to do a quick sales pitch for this. If you are someone who always thought it would be cool to know another language but was too scared to try, you might want to get the Duolingo app.

The way it teaches you is like a game. There is almost no reading. I mean obviously you are using your eyeballs to look at words, but you aren’t readying about language, you are playing games that put it in your head. It’s fun.

Late last night my nearly 18-year kid was letting me snuggle them on the couch while they fell asleep. As you can imagine, this is not as common as it used to be, so I was taking advantage. I quietly whispered every French phrase I could recall. I did this for a full ten minutes! That’s how much French I have learned in 48 days! That’s nuts buckets! C’est des seaux de noix!

SUPERPOWER PART

You know how in Harry Potter they go to Hogwarts and learn “how” to do magic. This is exactly like that except you can actually do magic, not just wave a $13 plastic wand around. You spend 15 minutes a day and all of sudden you can say: Hi Paul, how are you doing? For real, in a way that Paul can actually understand. 

While looking for a song in Spotify this morning, a promotion appeared for a French singer and I could read the French title of his album! * I couldn’t do that last year. This is a real power; I can use this to understand the world more. Holy Cow!

I learned about it from my kid who has been studying Arabic for over 600 days straight. That’s a much harder language. They had to learn the alphabet before they could learn any words. I’m not ready for that kind of challenge yet. But we are having fun talking about language. We talk about what’s similar, what’s different. Many languages are gendered, meaning words are assigned male or female. Different cultures use “the” in different ways. Noticing these differences helps me see how fluid language is. In English we ask How are you? In French they ask, How is it going? In English you say, I like chocolate. In French it’s, I like the chocolate.

There is not just one way to get meaning across. I love analyzing things and this gives my brain so much to chew on. If I was a dog, analysis would be the bone I love to chew. So, a double win for me!

FINAL PITCH

Being on the app doesn’t feel like work. It doesn’t feel difficult. It’s pleasurable, like relaxing with a video game. The difference is that you are relaxing AND gaining something useful.

It may not be for everyone, but I wanted to at least let you know it’s out there. And if it takes you as long to be converted from the time of first exposure as it took me then you should be starting to learn German, Polish, Swahili, Mandarin or Hindi in about 550 days.


*The album is Fils De Joie (Sons of Joy) by multi-media artist Stromae. The video is quite a spectacle!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7Z2tgJo8Hg&t=236s


SIDEWALK FACE 116

This is a very early Sidewalk Face. I’d been making them less than six months when I posted him to Instagram. I still remember seeing the white paint meant to designate a stop sign boundary, as in, stop your car before driving over this line. Right away I was like, that looks like an animal hat with ears, I need to put a face in that space.

Early on I was picking up everything I saw and had a robust beer bottle cap collection that I lugged around on every dog walk. I thought I knew the origin of these eyes (Michelob and Saffire) but after googling every conceivable descriptive permutation, I can’t find a pic of either of them on the world wide web. Anyone know what beverages they come from? The thing I remember becoming conscious of when I started this project is that people discard a lot of cigarettes and bottle caps.

Now I don’t carry much with me but maybe I should start doing that again. Every choice leads to a different outcome.