Tax Deduction

I’m going to share with you tonight – I am 30 years old and I have never done my own taxes.  Up until this year my father always did my taxes for me. Not because I asked him to, but just because he always just did them. It was never discussed; he’d simply ask for all my information, later he’d brief me on the “donations” I’d made that year, and then he’d tell me what I was owed. It was a beautiful system.

Then I went and moved away, and I guess this was some unspoken breach of nonexistent contract and he wasn’t going to do them for me this year.  Not to worry, I decided, I am an intelligent person and I could figure this out. This was going to be my year! However; whether by my endless questioning of Charming about the TurboTax process or his obsessive need to “have things done right,” Charming ended up doing my taxes for me. So now I’m still a 30 year old man who has yet to ever do his own taxes!

Advice Least Needed is the Most Heeded

Chinese proverb:  Liángyào kǔkǒu.
Translation: Good medicine tastes bitter.
Meaning:  Advice most needed is the least heeded.

I’m currently caring for a dog who’s recently had surgery on his back, driver-side, leg.  Today, I took him directly outside his apartment building to relieve himself; denying him his typical 30 minute walk in order to conserve energy for healing.  As I’m waiting for the pup to do his business, I’m approached by a mature Chinese woman who, as far as I know, doesn’t speak any English.  Language barrier be damned, she informs me by way of hand signals, that the dog has a generous red scar with stitches and a perfect square shaved into his left side.  I want to feign surprised horror, “Oh my God, when did that happen!,” but I know that my sarcasm will get lost in translation.  Instead I say, “He. Had. Surgery.” hoping that my poorly constructed, but loudly enunciated, English will translate perfectly to Mandarin.

She ignores me and moves on to drop yet another bombshell, via hand-gesture, when she notifies me that it’s raining outside!  I gather at this point that she’s worried about his scar and the slight drizzle coming down.  I try my best to explain to her that he still has to relieve himself regardless of his recent trauma and God’s obvious wrath upon Manhattan.  “Just a short pee-pee walk.” is the simplest exchange I can come up with.

She lobs a few more characters at me, “雨 狗 伤口” before I decide that it’s probably best not to ignore ancient Chinese, unsolicited, advice.  Luckily for me, the adorable pooch I’m watching delivers his personal flavor of soft serve just as I’ve made this decision.  Everyone walks away a winner!  The pup walks away a few pounds lighter.  The woman walks away with another successful human interaction under her belt.  And I walk away with a bag full of crap!

He looks sad in this picture, but it's only because his pills make him sleepy.  He's recovering wonderfully.

He looks sad in this picture, but it’s only because his pills make him sleepy. He’s recovering wonderfully.

Doing It Wrong For Millions To See

Charming is the aspiring actor in our rag-tag team of two, and this is one of the main drives for us uprooting our whole existence and moving to New York City.  There are multiple ways, I assume, that you can break into show-biz – that’s Entertainer slang for show business – but one of the cheapest and readily available ways is to become an “extra.”  In order to get his foot in the world of acting, Charming makes the smart decision to sign up with a reputable extra casting agency.  In order to keep myself from spending all day Googling the complete and exhausting history of Demi Lovato out of sheer boredom, I make the decision to sign up with him.

It takes no show of actual talent to sign up to be an extra.  What is does take is two valid forms of ID and the ability to use measuring tape.  Charming and I spend an hour at the sign-up event, in a room full of men who all fit into one archetype or another, where we fill out a few sheets of paperwork about ourselves and our skills.  My sheets seem rather stale, so I decide to embellish.  My years as a lifeguard now mean that I am a strong and loyal swimmer with the build to match, my high-school job at Petco shows that I have experience working with exotic and dangerous animals, and my school boy looks combined with my collection of five barely-there tattoos makes me suitable for the full gambit of roles; so reads my paperwork.  The stout young red-head who’s leading this event heralds us into a separate room where she takes our pictures in the flattering style of a passport photo, and sends us on our way to rejoin the world, now as struggling actors.

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Charming vs. Evolution

IMG_0032 I should preempt this tale of Charming vs. Evolution by saying that Charming is now a fairly reasonable man.  Aside from the fact that he’s convinced (and if I’m being honest, partially has me convinced) that he sees ghosts on the regular, he is knowledgeable and fully believes in evolution and physics.  He’s not the type that could personally explain the Big Bang Theory to you, but if someone explained it to him again, he would comfortably be able to confim, “Yeah!  That’s it!”

Unfortunately for Charming, he grew up in rural Texas so he has not always been this enlightened.  Charming and I were recently discussing his provincial upbringing when he shocked me with the news that he once led an uprising at his middle school to protest the theory of evolution being taught to him and his peers.

Charming discussing his upbringing is not unlike Golden Girls’ Rose Nylund delighting us with a St. Olaf story, in that both anecdotes are going to turn in a direction that you didn’t see coming.  So once Charming starts his story, I pull out my recording devise (iPhone) and have him start over, because I know it is going to be absurd.

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As I lay in bed reading Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary” – because what self-respecting pet sitter hasn’t read this book? – and listening to the pitter-patter of the rainstorm falling outside my New York City apartment window, I experience a moment.  I become nostalgic, realizing the distance I’ve put between myself and the no-hold-barred thunderstorms that only a Texas sky can provide.  Just as I start to mull over my former life in Texas, I once again look at the book I’m holding and how I came to possess it.

Between San Antonio and Manhattan, I stopped in Las Vegas for six months.  Could it have only been two months ago?  I guess so.  While in Vegas, Charming, Tilly, Debbie, and I take a rare day off from pet wrangling and decide to enjoy a healthy meal.  Tilly has heard that the local LGBTQ,etc. community center is home to a vegan cafe, so we head there.  We are greeted as we enter the community center by a lovely transgendered blonde, sporting a knee-length denim skirt, a sparkling red high heel, full beard, beer belly, and one and one half leg.

As we sit down for lunch to enjoy our Vegan sandwiches with names like Green Goddess Sandwich, Tree of Life Pita, and a Banana Boy Bait for dessert, we are surrounded by locals browsing books available for checkout and computers available for porn searching. There’s a small table in the back corner by the bathrooms that catches mine and Tilly’s eye.  The unassuming, collapsible table is stacked with piles of old books and a sign that reads, “They’re free! Take as many as you want.”  So we do.  I take a book about Batman, one about Superman for Charming, “Jurassic Park” in case I ever want to get the full story on that, and Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary.”

photoA smile floats to the surface of my face as the memory comes to me.  I decide that I’ve read enough for the night and should enjoy this memory as I fall into sleep.  I mark my place at chapter 11 with a bookmark that I purchased in Istanbul, Turkey – also visited earlier that same year – and it’s almost too much for me to take.  I place “Pet Sematary” on my nightstand atop another book of mine that Charming is currently making his way through.  It’s a book that I acquired online from the even more exotic local of Amazon.  As I drift off to sleep with the bustling sounds of the city seeping in through my window, I think to myself, “What a weird little life.”


I’m not a big fan of alcohol anymore. I prefer my highs and lows to be mediated in a more natural way these days – with exercise and positive thinking, of course.  IMG_5918However, as I traveled my way through the Middle East this summer with my cousin, alcohol was all I had and I needed a way to drown out the horribleness that was my cousin’s father, Bora.  If he said something douchie, I drank. When he did something despicable, I drank.  He entered a room, I feigned invisibility.  So as I sit here now, reflecting back on the two weeks I spent in Turkey with my cousin, Kit, and her dad, I find it hard to remember it all.

Kit and I flew into Bucharest, Romania where her father and 7 year old half-sister, Emily, live.  We didn’t arrive until about 10 PM and after a full day of traveling across the world, we were exhausted.  We knew that we were going to be driving all the way to the coast of Turkey the next day; however, what we didn’t know was that by “the next day” Bora meant we were leaving at 2 AM, or four hours from our arrival.  You’d think he would rush us back to his home to get as much sleep as possible, but instead he took us to his restaurant for dinner.

After we finish our late, heavy, meal we retire to his apartment for maybe two hours of sleep before we are up and on the road for, what we are told is a ten hour drive to Fethiye, Turkey, but turns out to be over a 24 hour misery trek.  So let me remind you of our timeline so far.  Travel by air without sleep for 24 hours.  Sleep for 2.  Travel by car without sleep for another 24 hours.  Also, the car that he has purchased for himself, Kit, Emily, and I to spend all this time in is a two-door Maserati.  Sounds amazing – feels like a sardine can!

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Elderly Care

During my time as a pet nanny in Las Vegas, I had a client who asked to be called Grandma, because I assume she had long ago forgotten her actual name.  She certainly never remembered mine.  I visited her roughly four times a week and each time she would ask me, “Now are you Carl or Chad?”   Not knowing either a Carl or a Chad, but also not wanted to insult or confuse her further, I would simply answer, “Yes.”

While I knew grandma, she had fallen down twice, injuring both her hip and shoulder.  She even spent a few weeks in a rehabilitation clinic to assist with her healing.  The other pet nannies and I were in charge of caring for her four cats and small dog while she was away.  When she returned from rehab she was mostly wheelchair bound while she continued her recovery.  Myself, and the other nannies, would spend time talking to her and helping her out with anything she needed while we were there caring for her pets.  One morning, I arrived to find grandma at her front door sitting in her wheelchair trying to navigate herself down the small wheelchair ramp that led off her front porch.  Needing to get passed the old lady in order to care for her dog, I offered to assist her with this feat.

She managed to hoist herself out of her wheelchair and take the step down onto her porch as I wheeled her chair down the ramp and got her situated back into it.  It’s then that she noticed the path leading down her front lawn toward her driveway, where her rehabilitation taxi service would soon be arriving for her, was being drenched by her automatic sprinkler system. So she made the decision to go through her adjoining garage to the driveway and avoid the onslaught of water; however, this required her to traverse over her wheelchair ramp in order to gain access to the outside garage door.

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Turning 27, for the 4th Time!

As my thirtieth birthday looms over me, like disappointment over Katy Perry shopping for an engagement ring, I find myself trying to push aside thoughts of male pattern baldness and lowering sperm counts to hold on to the one fact about being thirty that makes it seem even remotely youthful – and that is that it’s still considered a tragic age to die.

When you hear of someone dying in their 20′s, you think, “Nooo!  He was just a kid!  He had so much left to accomplish and experience.  He hadn’t yet owned his first tailored suit or decided how he felt about children.  What a tragedy!”

If you hear of someone passing in their 40′s, you think, “That’s a bummer, but at least he got to live some life and still makes a decent looking corpse.  Hell, if this were ancient times, he would have been lucky to have lived this long.”

However, when someone croaks in their 30′s, you still think, “Oh, he was just getting settled in and really enjoying life.  He just told me the other day that he finally learned what a Roth IRA is.  This is a real tragedy.”

Seeing as how the money I unwisely spent on a self-portrait by a man named Basil only managed to darken my soul without stunting my aging process* – that’s what I get for using Craigslist – I am holding onto this one certitude as my single ray of optimism as the 30th anniversary of my birth draws ever closer.

Guess what kid?  Despite your best efforts, you grew up.

Guess what kid? Despite your best efforts, you grew up.

*Read a book people.


logo-lvccldToday I got an email notification from my local library that an audiobook I requested had arrived, so I went and checked it out.  As I’m leaving, staring down at my borrowed item and thinking about how exciting it’s going to be to read “The Shining” at Halloween time, I get excited and say out-loud, “Yay!”

Instantly realizing how weird this is if anybody happened to hear it, I quickly look up from the audiobook to survey my area for anyone within ear shot.  I meet the gaze of a homeless man who is walking past me toward the entrance and his eyes have judgement in them.  I realize that I have a homeless man looking down at me with ridicule, as if I’m the one who’s not fit for society.

I gotta tell you, being judged by the homeless – not a great experience.