Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Senior Dating (or Why I Date Fresh Men)

Once upon a time there was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead.

For a fairly cute girl, she liked to read, and read she did. Every damn fairy tale ever known to womankind and published in the full set of the Book of Knowledge. The Book of Knowledge. What a misnomer that was. For the uneducated, the Book of Knowledge was an encyclopedic set that covered history to science and everything in between--including fairy tales.

I don’t think it is as much so today as when I was a girl, this believing in fairy tales, that either a handsome prince or a white knight would dash in to a young woman’s life and the twosome would live happily ever after with nary a woe. In fact, I don’t guess there is much of a market for fairy tales with today’s young girls. Fairy tales mislead girls to believe that there is one special someone out there who will love and protect them all of their days. Well, there is. He’s called your daddy. Trust me, that is the only man, and I mean the ONLY man who will ever love and respect a girl as she deserves to be. To hell with the rest of them.

Forgive me for generalizing here, but men, as it were, is a misnomer, too. When have you known a man to ever grow up? They don’t really, only if they sire a girl child, and only in respect to said child. I hate to be the burster of bubbles here, but men never grow up in respect to womankind. They always see themselves as they were at the peak of their sexual prowess, a virile young man, no matter how many nose and ear hairs you can count and no matter how little hair is on their pates.

Once, an older lady friend of mine emailed me a cartoon. It showed a fat, balding man looking into a mirror admiring the image of a studly body builder. In the next frame, it showed a good-looking woman, looking into a mirror with disdain at the image of an old hag. It kind of reminds me of that old Robert Burns poem, “O wad some Power the giftie gie us to see oursels as ithers see us.” Wouldn’t that be something? For either a man or a woman to see how others see them? Therein lies a fairy tale in itself.

As a woman who has been around the block a time or two or three or more, I can tell you this much, I’ve seen everything from a sweet gherkin to a beef stick to a pile of Jet-Puffed Marshmallows (my apologies to Kraft). You women out there know what I’m talking about even if the men don’t. Yes, I admit, I’ve been accused of being a cradle robber for having married and dated younger men, or in today’s parlance, being a “cougar.” And for good reason. Call it what you will, but younger men do have their benefits when you consider that the old farts never grow up and only gain in nose and ear cartilage and hair. Besides, what’s the point of dating someone your own age, especially if you are a reasonably attractive woman who desires the same in a man?

There is also a misconception that once a woman reaches menopause, she is no longer interested in the male of the species. It is true for some, but not all. For example, a famous female author friend of mine, who is approaching sixty-five and shall remain unnamed, told me not long ago: “I’ve sucked my last dick.” I love her frankness (no pun intended), but for me, I don’t think I’m quite there yet.

I fully understand that by posting this blog, I may be cutting off future dating opportunities with men my age and older, such as they are, but the damn fairy tale is over.

Now it’s all about slaying dragons.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Darryl Strawberry's Half-Brother

Some of my Facebook friends may have noticed a post my oldest son made to my page today. It simply said: "Darryl Strawberry's half brother." It was his Christmas gift to me to put a smile on my face.

Yes, of course, there is a story behind that simple post.

It happened one night in the fall of 1990 or '91, as I recall. I was sitting on my bed in my condo in Northern Virginia wearing nothing but an oversized T-shirt, writing a letter to my boyfriend du jour, when I heard a man's voice in my living room. I thought it was the television at first. It was around 9 p.m. and time to get my two young sons to bed. So I got up, went into the living room to see my boys chatting with a tall black man with very small ears. Needless to say, I was shocked. Evidently, he had knocked at my door and my sons had opened it and invited him inside. They were chatting away as my mind was racing about how to get this man out of my house before there was an ugly scene that would scar my sons for life.

When the man saw me, he introduced himself and said he was selling magazines to earn money to attend community college in California. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'd heard that story before. I quickly purchased a year's subscription to the Village Voice in an attempt to shoo him out the door and give my sons another lecture on not letting strange people inside one's home. I wrote him out a check for said amount and told him I needed to get my sons, then about ages seven and five, or thereabouts, to bed. The man was ever so grateful and began to flatter me, telling me how good I looked in that T-shirt, etc. That is when I knew the trouble was about to begin.

"I'm Daryl Strawberry's half-brother, you know," he announced.

Of course, that piqued my sons' interest being sports fans and got them very excited to have a somewhat celebrity standing in their living room. I don't recall the conversation that ensued too well, all I know is I was frantic to get this man out of my house before my boys were forced to watch the rape of their mother.

"I'd like to take you to see Jungle Fever, if you don't mind," he said.

I told him I didn't think that would be appropriate and finally led him to the door and let my aura, if you will, push him out the door. Then I clamped the deadbolt shut and warned my boys of the dangers of letting strangers into one's home, especially late at night.

The next evening, I got a phone call. Yes, you guessed it. It was from Darryl Strawberry's alleged half-brother. He had gotten my phone number off my check and was pressing me to go see Jungle Fever, a movie about a white woman dating a black man or something to that effect. I have not seen the movie to this day, so I couldn't tell you what it is about really. I informed the young man that what he was doing was unethical and could jeopardize his position with the publications company for which he worked. That was enough to end our conversation and I didn't receive any more calls from him after that.

Ever since then, that evening has become somewhat of an inside joke between my sons and me and Jeff always knows it is good to illicit a laugh from this lonesome heart.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Marshall Chapman Discusses Willie Nelson

Something good happened at the Southern Festival of Books on October 9, 2010. I got to meet someone whose work I’ve long admired, Marshall Chapman. She, to me, is the epitome of a true Southern belle. Stylish in her own right, she never makes a fashion faux pas in denim and pearls. I don’t want to come off as a gushing fan, but, oh well, what can I say? I am a fan.

During her 3 p.m. session at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, I had the pleasure of being her water girl. She was about three-quarters of the way through her presentation for her new book, They Came to Nashville (Vanderbilt University Press), and her voice was beginning to give a little. “Didn’t anybody think to give us any water up here?” she asked rhetorically. I did a quick bag check, and saw I had an extra bottle so I ran up to the stage and handed it to Jill McCorkle, who had introduced Marshall and was moderating the session. She gave it to Marshall.

Later, when my friend Sue and I were getting our books signed, Marshall asked to whom she should sign my book, which Sue had kindly bought me as a gift. I held up my badge, since I, too, had spoken at an earlier session, and to my surprise she said, “Eileen Sisk. I know that name! You wrote the book on Buck Owens!” I answered in the affirmative and pointed out that the same photographer, Anthony Scarlati, had taken our photographs for our respective book jackets.

To tell you I was thrilled that Marshall Chapman knew who I was would be a gross understatement. I told her I was the one who had taken her the water and she said, “Ah, you know how it is then.” Oh yeah, I know. Nothing like having your mouth get dry or your voice waver and crack when you are supposed to be at your best.

After Sue and I thanked her for her work and signing our books, I wanted to see what Marshall had inscribed in my book. I took it out and this is what it said:

For Eileen –

Thanks for the water!

– Love on!

Marshall Chapman

Here’s a snippet of Marshall in action at her session:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


When I was a little girl growing up in Las Vegas, my enterprising mother used to get up at 4 a.m. and cook a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, toast, and Sanka for my electrician father. She also would bake a gigantic batch of cinnamon rolls, which she would pack up in a box lined with wax paper, and put in the trunk of her old green Studebaker.

Then she would pile us kids in the backseat and drive downtown to JC Penney, her favorite store. Before we went inside, she would stick a few fresh rolls wrapped in napkins her pocketbook. Then, as soon as the store opened at 9 a.m., we would trail after her like baby ducklings, whereupon we’d go from the first floor to the second floor hitting each department in the store, the divine odor of her warm cinnamon rolls wafting everywhere we went. Inevitably, someone would approach us and say, “What is that wonderful smell?!”

That was all the encouragement my mother needed. She would open her pocketbook and show off her lovely rolls to inquisitive shoppers. “I have a whole trunk full of these outside in my car if you’d like to buy some,” she’d say.

Then she would go outside where the car was parked and sell the entire batch of rolls in about 15 minutes or less, then her purse would be filled with shopping money instead of buns.

The other day I loaded a box of copies of my new book, BUCK OWENS: The Biography, into the back of my car. Now when I am out and someone strikes up a conversation with me, the talk always seems to turn to my book and someone inevitably says, “I need to buy a copy.” That is my opener to say: “I just happen to have some out in my car if you’d like a signed first edition.”

The first time the words came out of my mouth, I realized I am my mother’s daughter.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Review: New Buck biography nothing but a hatchet job

Following is a response to a review the Bakersfield paper did on my new book. I decided to post here under the same title as the review because it seems to be the only way to keep other websites from picking it up and repeating the same errors:

Dear Editor:

I am writing to correct several errors in the Bakersfield Californian's review on Aug. 6 of BUCK OWENS: The Biography (Chicago Review Press, 2010).

To clarify, I paid 100 percent of my expenses to meet with Buck Owens. This is how professional journalists operate.

In addition, I listed people at the beginning of the book who would and would not go on the record. I also named those who could not be reached because they were either dead or had common names. That list ended up getting cut for space reasons. Bonnie Owens was set to talk with me years ago but backed out because she was afraid of Buck and feared he would disinherit their sons. In fact, Bonnie's divorce complaint cited "extreme cruelty" as among her reasons for leaving Buck. Joe "Red" Simpson was another who agreed to be interviewed, but when I called him at the appointed time back in 1999, he said he had changed his mind. I applaud all those who had the courage to be interviewed for the book; they deserve praise, not ridicule.

I wrote certified letters in March 2008 to the Owens boys and Mel Owens Jr. asking for their input, but they ignored my requests. I also wrote to Jim Shaw in March 1999 telling him that it was in Buck's best interest not to silence people who might have flattering things to say. It seems to me that the Owens organization went out of its way to ensure the book would be unbalanced, which I tried very hard not to do. If family members are unhappy with the final product, they have no one to blame but themselves.

Your paper cited several quotations by sources as coming from my mouth. For example, the "howler" about "emotional incest" was made by Buck's former lover and national promotion director, Kris Black, not myself.

Phyllis Owens's friends all knew Buck had broken her jaw. They also told me about of the many times they saw her beat up and with black eyes. What her friends doubted was that she had ever an affair with one of the Buckaroos, which is why there was a comma before the clause "which her friends say was untrue."

Trust me, Buck found time to bed many women. He himself told me that to be with only one woman would be "boring." He told me of lovers he juggled in Ohio and various cities as well as a paternity suit. Consider the number of years he toured and that he was on the road 300-plus days a year then do the math. Doyle Holly even likened it to a "cattle call."


Eileen Sisk

Friday, July 30, 2010

I Got Groped at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop

Something strange happened to me today at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Lower Broadway in Nashville.

I had stopped by to drop off posters at both Nashville locations plugging the book-signing for BUCK OWENS: The Biography that I am doing at the Music Valley Drive location at 9 p.m. Saturday, August 7.

Even though it was hotter than holy hell out, I dressed better than I normally would have in the heat because I wanted to make a good first impression. I had on a pair of white slacks, a Bohemian-style diaphanous green blouse, and black sandals that showed off my OPI Holy Pink Pagoda pedicure.

I handed the poster to Larry Mayhew, who was working the counter there. He looked at it and said, “Oh, I just got this book and started reading it! It’s really good! Are you the author?”

I told him I was and noticed that right above his left shoulder was Buck Owens’s Act Naturally boxed CD set by Rhino Records. There Buck was, big as life, looking down on me and at the poster, with a look of either disappointment or disdain.

Larry extended his hand and shook mine. He said, “I am so happy to meet you! I’ve been wanting to get in touch with you to talk to you about something.”

I asked if he had known Buck, and he said no and proceeded to tell me about his idea. While we were talking, I felt a hand grab my right butt cheek and give it a quick pat. I turned and looked over my right shoulder. No one was there. I looked over my left shoulder. No one was there either.

“Did you see anybody behind me?” I asked Larry.

“No,” he said.

“You’re going to think I’m really strange, but I could’ve sworn somebody grabbed my ass just now and patted it.”

Then Larry told me that another woman who had been in the shop recently also had felt someone grab her butt cheek. “Well, you know this place is haunted,” he said.

Then I recalled hearing something about the shop being one of the stops on the haunted Nashville tours they do here every year around Halloween.

“I wonder if it was Buck?” I said, pointing up to boxed CD set. “That certainly would have been something he would do.”

Larry went on to say there have been many strange happenings in the store.

When I got home, I did an Internet search and discovered that the downtown ET Record Shop was once a hospital during the Civil War and that the basement of the building was used as a morgue. Sometimes, if people are discussing an older artist, the CD player comes on at will playing a song by that singer even though there is no disc by the artist in the machine. At other times, there are hot and cold spots in the building. Here's a photo of the shop at 3 a.m. that my friend Larry Garvin, who worked there until recently, sent me. He said he used to store his intruments in the shop but never experienced any paranormal activity there.

It reminded me of a night in 1991 at Zed in Alexandria, Virginia, when a former linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers approached me and said, “I know you don’t know me or anything, but I’m gonna tell you something most guys wouldn’t say to somebody they didn’t know: You have a nice butt.”

Remembering that, I joked, “Well, whoever it was must’ve liked what they saw.”

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Son, the Screenwriter

Meet my oldest son, Jeff Tetreault, aka Jeffy T, who left Tennessee three years ago with nothing but a suitcase and a heart full of dreams. He just made his first screenplay sale in Hollywood to Morgan Creek and is represented by Energy Entertainment and William Morris Endeavor.

My son always has held tight to his dream and is a risk-taker, something that didn't sit well with the officials and some of his professors at his alma mater, Western Kentucky University, where he graduated in 2006 with a double major in English and Sociology. That school did him no favors and tried its best to tell him he was a no-talent failure. I would not recommend it to anyone who dares to color outside the lines.

A couple of years ago, he won first place honors in the Tennessee Screenwriting Competition and a year earlier won honorable mention in the Slamdance Screenwriting Competition. He's been reading and writing ever since he was about two or three.

Anyway, I'm a proud mom for sure and thrilled he did this all by himself. It's kind of like watching him take those first faltering steps at nine months and that first two-wheel bicycle ride at age three.

Rock on, my son, and WKU, eat this:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Note to Publisher's Weekly...

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

--Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher 1788-1860

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Hypocritic Oath

Yesterday, something happened to a friend that regerminated a seed planted in my brain some time ago. In journalism, we are taught to trust no one. Not even our own mother. The point being, check and doublecheck everything because credibility is crucial when reporting the news.

The same holds true in health care. Trust no one. If a doctor tells you something about your health, you'd better damn well check and doublecheck it yourself because it is YOUR life.

When people become doctors, they take the Hippocratic Oath, promising to uphold high standards of medical care, to be compassionate, and so on. I am here to tell you that is simply not the case in health care today. Many physicians are more concerned about making money and covering their asses than they are about helping people. I won't say every doctor is like that, but the ones who are true healers, who genuinely care about the well-being of their patients, are hard to find.

They are out there, you just have to keep looking. More often than not they will be out of network and you will have to pay out of your own pocket or a higher pecentage co-pay to see such a doctor because of the stigma attached to treating, i.e. attacking, Lyme disease and its associated diseases the way it/they need to be.

Doctors are easily bought and paid for by pharmaceutical companies, insurers, companies that hire them as workers comp physicians, and more. What you have are a class of high-dollar prostitutes who are more concerned about paying off exorbitant school loans or buying a new Mercedes-Benz.

My point is this: If a doctor diagnoses you with one disease and it alarms you, get a second opinion. Don't take one doctor's word for it. Get more tests. Don't just let one X-ray or blood test be the deciding factor. Go to a specialist who knows the disease you have been diagnosed with and see if, in fact, you really have that malady.

By going to the ILADS specialist in California, I discovered that I had had Lyme disease, and quite possibly Bartonella, for ten years. Yes, ten years. See, I got bit by a deer tick in Virginia about six months before I moved to Tennessee. I developed symptoms shortly after moving here and was told by countless doctors countless theories about what was wrong with me. The severe scalp rash I had acquired was brushed off as "folliculitis." The pain in my hands and my forearms and elbows was brushed off as "carpal tunnel syndrome." A workers comp doctor had the audacity to say, "You're a middle-aged woman, get used to it." Other doctors told me I didn't have CT syndrome. Still others said nothing was wrong with me. Still others said I had fibromyalgia. Others suggested I had Lupus. My erythema migrans rash--the classic bull's eye or target rash, was called "poison ivy," and so on.

The fact is, I knew something was wrong years ago. Each day I dragged into work, it was a struggle, but I carried on, because, after all, everything was fine. Nothing was wrong with me. It was all in my head. The negative tests proved it.

Thank God I got bit by six ticks last year and finally got the EM rash from a dog tick. Actually, it was a disseminated EM rash, which meant every organ and tissue of my body had already been infected.

Here you can see a photo of my right leg taken in 2009 with the multiple EM rashes, which were mirror image on the left leg. I also had mirror image EM rashes on either sides of my breasts. A spotted rash on my chest.

A bright red linear rash on my ankle, which turned out to be Bartonella, aka cat scratch fever. I didn't take a photo of it when it was bright read, but you can see the scar it left behind.

After my first 21-day course of doxycycline was completed, the EM rashes returned. Some were even oval.

I even got blisterlike rashes.

At least one internist at St. Thomas Hospital finally called it was it was, Lyme disease, only to back-pedal after an infectious diseases doctor from Vanderbilt told me point-blank, "You can't get Lyme in Middle Tennessee." Another dermatologist at St. Thomas Hospital told me, "We don't even have the tick that carries Lyme disease in Middle Tennessee." So, the internist started calling the rash "erythema multiforme," which is nothing more than an allergic skin reaction.

This year, 2010, I've been bitten by at least five deer ticks. Oh, but I forgot. That alleged dermatologist says we don't have deer ticks in Tennessee!

Thank God for my journalistic training. I trusted none of these poor excuses for doctors. I was forced to go out of network to a Lyme specialist and listed the 57 symptoms I was exhibiting. Thank God, this man knew what to do with me. Thank God he knew that if coinfections were not treated first, the disease would come back. Thank God my sister found that man for me.

My story is not so different from other people who have had Lyme disease and have been misdiagnosed as having MS, rheumatoid arthritis, ALS, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, and more. If left untreated, Lyme will go on to mimic these diseases and more. In fact, I've mentioned this before, one Harvard researcher found that in seven out of ten brains in the Harvard brain bank of deceased Alzheimer's patients that the Lyme bacteria, borrelia burgdorferi, was in those brains. Think of how many Alzheimer's patients actually may have had Lyme disease, which can be treated and eradicated with early and aggressive treatment. But if Lyme is left to its own designs, the consequences can be devastating.

If you are diagnosed with any serious disease, not just Lyme, I urge you all to educate yourselves. Knowledge is power. Don't just take one doctor's word. Seek out a knowledgeable specialist. Research the disease. Get the proper diagnostic tests if there are any available. Don't just take someone's word for it.

Your life depends on it.
(Originally posted February 13, 2009, on MySpace).

Friday, April 30, 2010

Even Shitty Days Can Have Happy Endings

I had one of those days yesterday. You know the kind, the ones that start out shitty and end shitty?

Yep. That was my day. When I went into my office, I discovered my dog, Delaney, the one with the fecal fetish, had dirtied the carpet for the first time in his three people years. It might have been easier to clean up had it not been liquid, but I did the best I could.

Then there was the middle of the day, which was just so-so as opposed to being shitty, so we’ll skip that part.

Around 7-ish, I took the dogs to The Barking Lot for their daily constitutional, which is what I do when I am not able to walk them. I take them there so they can run and wrangle with each other and get worn out so they won’t bother me by asking to go out and come back in all evening long.

Upon arrival at the dog park, I stuffed my keys in the right front pocket of my shorts and grabbed the bungee cord that the owner of the blue heeler, which bit my left calf, gave me to secure the gate. Here’s what the bite looked like the day after:

See, my little Hughdini, aka Huey, is an escape artist. He lifts the “S” chain off the back gate with his paw and bolts up the bluff to Pinnacle Hill, which he has done at least four times. So the blue heeler’s owner saw my plight, and feeling apologetic about his nippy dog, gave me the rubber cord so I could one-up Huey. I’ve learned to keep Huey on the leash once we enter until I check all the gates because the little devil has popped through the big gate before when the padlocked chain on it was too loose. If there is a 4- to 6-inch clearance, Huey’s a goner.

So I got the gates secured and let Huey run. Then I went around and cleaned up the dog leavings with plastic bags. I also tossed a couple of tennis balls for Sally and Delaney to retrieve, which, of course Delaney does because he is a retriever and Sally does not because she is only half-retriever. It was during this activity I saw Huey on his hind legs trying to lift the chain and chew the bungee cord. I cut a diagonal swath the length of the former football field to get to him before he succeeded at either. That’s when I realized my keys were not jangling in my pocket. I looked down and they were gone. Oh, great. It was around 8 p.m. and darkness was falling. It didn’t help that I was wearing my Ray-Bans either. So for the next half-hour I searched, trying to find my keys, frantically trying to figure a Plan B because I have no relatives here to help me out of a pinch. Finally, I had no choice. I called my neighborhood pet sitter, who knows where I keep my spare house key, and asked her to go inside and get the box where I keep all my spare keys. Before long, she was there and I was able to get the dogs in the car and put on my regular specs so I could see to drive home.

Next morning, I resumed my search about 10. A former co-worker was there with her young daughter and their dog and offered to help. I, of course, had Huey along and had to secure all the gates before I could look.

I searched and searched to no avail. The parks guy drove up and I asked him where I would go to find something that had been lost. He said City Hall. He, too, offered to help me look, which he did until he got a call to attend to something else. None of us could find the keys anywhere. Then I saw Huey trying to gnaw his way through the nylon leash I had put on the big gate as insurance; he almost succeeded, too. I unhooked the leash, got him a drink from the doggie fountain, locked him in the car, and went back for the bungee cord.

As I was leaving, my friend suggested I put a note on the bulletin board at the local market. Great idea, I thought, so after inquiring at City Hall and leaving my name and number there, I went to the grocery store and left a note saying: “LOST. One set of keys with rectangular garage door opener. If found, please call …” Then I came home.

At 7:10 p.m., I got a call from a woman who said, “Did you lose a set of keys at the dog park?” I replied in the affirmative. She said, “You are not going to believe this, but there is a note at the top of the board that says: ‘FOUND: One set of keys with rectangular garage door opener. If found, please call Bear at …”

“Bear is a dog,” I told her.

See, Bear is a fluffy white male Great Pyrenees, who really likes me and is about twice my size. He also belongs to the owner of the blue heeler. So the woman gave me the number to call, which I did. I punched in the number and asked for Bear, I heard the owner’s voice say, “I’d let you talk to him, but he is asleep and he is a dog.”

“I know,” I said. “Is this M----? This is Eileen.”

“Why, yes it is.”

“How did you find my keys?” I asked.

“I didn’t find them. Bear found them and I noticed he had something in his mouth so I took them from him. I knew they had to belong to somebody.”

I asked where he had found them and he said by the front gate, which meant as soon as I had entered the dog park, they had worked their way out of my pocket when I was wrangling the dingoes. Then I explained how I had heard about the note he posted and he told me he would put the keys in his mailbox. I drove over about 8 p.m. and got them.

From start to finish, it took only about 24 hours to lose and find my keys. Times like these make me thankful to live in a small-enough town where I know many of the people who live here. It’s a great place, populated with helpful, honest folks for the most part (more on that in future blogs).

After I got home, I let the dogs in to eat their supper and hunker down for the night. I sat down at the computer to let my Facebook friends know I had gotten my keys back. Then I heard this slurping sound. I looked to my left only to see Delaney, my dog with the fecal fetish, licking the carpet where roughly 36 hours before he had left his leavings.

It was then that I realized, the shitty day had come full circle.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Beating the High Cost of Vet Care

Molly, my cat, recently was attacked by Huey, one of my dogs. I had gone to Value Vet to try to save on the high cost of veterinary care at the local vet, which charges $80 just to walk in the door. Value Vet charged $29. Then a friend in Lafayette, Tennessee, told me about her vet, who only charges $24 to walk in the door, and he doesn’t even charge for an office visit if you get shots for your pet.

After spending $250-plus at Value Vet, I was told Molly had a broken rib and diaphragmatic hernia and that it would cost anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 for the risky surgery. So I sought a second opinion from Dr. Geoff Evetts in Lafayette, whose fee for the same surgery is between $500 and $700.

Dr. Evetts looked at the Value Vet films and said he thought Molly had neither a broken rib nor a diaphragmatic hernia. He prescribed a two-week course of Clavamox (only $19 as opposed to $28 at Value Vet) and told me to bring her back in two weeks so he could take new X-rays under sedation, which Value Vet did not do.

The new films showed that Molly was perfectly normal inside. I asked about a lump on her back, so Dr. Evetts inserted a hypodermic needle and drew out some pus. He said he wanted to keep her overnight and go in to see what was causing the abscess. As it happened, Molly had suffered a puncture wound inside, but not on the outside. He said that was fairly common because a cat’s skin is pliable. Dr. Evetts kept her overnight and performed the surgery. Here’s Molly going home after her surgery:

I also took both Delaney and Sally in for a full panel of shots and a six-month supply each for Interceptor. Here's Delaney getting his blood drawn for his heart-worm test:

All told, total cost for three animals, a surgery, two rounds of shots (including heart-worm tests) for two dogs, two six-months supply of Interceptor, one three-month supply for Frontline Plus for the cat, a set of X-rays, overnight boarding was roughly $420. Huey still needs to go in for his round of shots and a six-month supply of Interceptor, so add on $108 and there is a grand total of $528. Not bad for preventive maintenance of four animals, I’d say.

I plan to ask Value Vet for a refund based on its misdiagnosis of Molly’s injuries and from now on, it is worth it to me to make the four-hour round-trip drive for peace of mind where my fur family is concerned.

Anyone interested in saving big bucks on pet care, can contact Evetts Animal Clinic at 615-666-7350 (don’t let the phone prefix scare you). The clinic is at 730 Highway 52 Bypass West, Lafayette, TN 37083.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Menopausal Haiku

White fur grows on my face
like on a long-forgotten
Spanish olive

Friday, March 5, 2010

Playing God

Loving Huey is like loving a convict.

He’s a bad boy, for sure.

At 12:45 a.m. Wednesday, Molly slipped out of my bedroom into the bathroom while I was trying to finish up the edits on my book and then I heard a huge commotion.




I ran into the bathroom to find Huey going after Molly’s midsection. To her credit, she put up a good fight and the only blood shed was Huey’s. It took a couple of tries, but eventually I was able to grab Huey’s collar and drag him into my office and close the door.

Poor Molly lay there on her back moaning in agony amid her own excrement and urine. I felt so sorry for her.


This was at least the third dog attack in her seven years she has endured.

The first being when I rescued her from outside the local grocery with a puncture wound in her head; she was only three months old at the time. Being the sucker that I am for the downtrodden, forlorn, and cast-out creatures of the world, we had a new family member.

Huey, of course, showed up two years ago and refused to leave. When I told him to go home, he looked at me with those eyes and said: “But I AM home!” So being the sucker that I am for the downtrodden, forlorn, and cast-out creatures of our world, we had a new family member.

Huey used to get along fine with Molly and they even would get on the bed together, not that Molly liked it all that much. But she didn’t show fear and Huey was cool with that.

The second time was when she sneaked outside and Huey happened upon her in the brush and got a hold of her then. I was able to rescue her that day, but it was also the day I got Bartonella, aka Cat Scratch Fever, from a tick bite acquired during the rescue.

After Huey found her in the brush, things changed. Molly became a 100 percent house cat and I kept the two separated.


It didn’t look good, so at 1 a.m. I called my neighbor, Mike, the amateur taxidermist and asked him to please come shoot Molly and put her out of her misery.

“I’m already in bed,” he protested.

“I know. I’m so sorry. I just can’t pull the trigger.”

“Oh, all right. I’ll be right over.”

So he came over with his rifle, or shotgun, heck if I know what was what. I was too damn distraught.

Then I led him into my bathroom to show him my poor little feline. This time, she had gotten back on all fours and was crouching next to the box of magazines. She was clearly traumatized.

Mike and I then checked her out and he said she looked like she would be all right and that if she got worse overnight, he’d come do the deed the next day. I agreed.

Next day, Mike called to check on her. She was doing better so we decided to wait. Of course, she wouldn’t eat or drink at all, and that worried me.

By Thursday, I had gotten her to drink some water, which she has been lapping up ever since and this morning, Friday, she actually emptied her bladder for the first time since the horrifying event.

Still, she wasn’t eating. I decided to get her to Value Vet in Bellevue, and they called with a cancellation for 5:20 p.m. The vet was nice as she could be and checked her out, said she looked fine, but to be sure, we needed to take a couple of X-rays, which showed she has a broken rib and a herniated diaphragm.

The vet referred me to a clinic in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and said it had affordable prices. When I called the clinic, they quoted me an estimate of $2,000 to get her fixed up good as new. Only thing, I don’t have two-thousand-freakin' dollars to get her fixed up. The vet said sometimes cats will heal themselves with scar tissue in an injury such as this, but she advised surgery was the only way she would be repaired fully.

Ever since this happened, I’ve been treating Huey differently. Now I am viewing him more like the perpetrator he is. I’ve not been petting and loving on him as I did before this happened. I don’t want to reward bad behavior. I know he knows something has changed, but I don’t think he understands why. When all is said and done, he is just an animal with animal instincts.

So here I sit on a Friday night, realizing I have to play God with a cat and a dog, both of whom I dearly love. And it is something I don’t want to do.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Hooker in the 'Hood

I picked up a hooker last night.

Not knowingly, mind you. It happened around 10:45 p.m. I had been on the phone with my sweetheart when Huey started barking to go out. We ended the call so I could take the dog out to do his business.

Huey and I went up the road a bit, then turned and came back when he started barking and straining at the leash. The moon was bright, since it was almost full, and I could see a shadowy figure on the other side of the road. I told Huey it was okay and we kept walking. Pretty soon, I heard a voice.

“Excuse me, ma’am, but do you live around here?’

No, dammit, I just walk in the woods with my dog at 11 o’clock at night.

Of course, I didn’t say that, it was what was running through my mind, being the sarcastic person I am.

“Yes,” I replied.

“I just had a fight with my boyfriend and was wondering if you could give me a ride up to the interstate.”

“Where do you live?” I asked.

“By the Mapco.”

Oh, okay. Only six miles away.

“Where does your boyfriend live?”

“On Crane Court.”

“His name isn’t Jim, is it?”



There is a single guy over on Crane who always stops and talks to me if he happens to drive by when I’m out walking my dingoes and I didn't want it to be him.

“It’s really not a good time for me,” I said. “I’m exhausted and I need to go to bed early tonight.”

“Please, ma’am, it’s so cold out and I don’t have a car.”

True. It was cold out and she wasn’t wearing a jacket.

“Where’s your coat?”

“I don’t have one.”

Things began running through my head.

My father told me: Never pick up a hitchhiker! They’ll kill you.

But this wasn’t exactly a hitchhiker, just some skinny chick shivering her ass off in the cold night.

Then I thought: What would Grammy do?

My mother used to tell me about how during the Great Depression, hobos (aka homeless people in today’s jargon) would come to their door asking for money.

My grandmother would tell them: I won’t give you anything, but I need some chores done and if you want to help me, I’ll give you a hot meal.

Here’s a picture of my Czechoslovakian grammy when she was a young woman (my sister looks a lot like her):

I thought about all the chores I needed done but decided it wasn’t a good idea to let a strange woman in my house to help me when midnight was approaching. I thought about how exhausted I was and thought about letting her spend the night in the room on the back of the garage but decided that wasn’t a good idea either.

Finally, I softened and said, “Okay. Let me lock up and get my keys.”

“Oh, thank you, ma’am! Thank you! Bless you! My name’s Angela.”

Angela. That means angel. What if I am being tested?

I went inside to get my wallet and my keys and kept the lights on so she would think someone else was in there besides two barky dogs. Then I took Huey with me, because if any trouble befell me, Huey, being part rottie, would take care of the trouble.

So I opened up the garage and we got in the car.

“Exactly where do you live?” I said, driving along.

“Near the Mapco.”

“Well, you’ll have to tell me where near the Mapco because I don’t know of any houses there.”

“Oh, it’s the one near Charlotte Pike.”

Charlotte Pike! Shit!

“You mean somewhere near Wal-Mart?!”

“Well, not really. It’s closer to Morrow Road.”

Morrow Road! Shit again! That’s the drug district!

By the time I got on I-40, I was wanting to dump this woman as soon as possible. I queried her on how long she had known this guy (since she was fourteen), how old she was (thirty-three) why she would even stay with a guy who would toss her out into the night like a piece of trash (which, maybe she was), and so on.

She started crying and was shivering like a chihuahua.

“He got really aggressive with me.”

“You mean sexually?”

“Yes,” she sniffed. “I took it up the rectum for him, but then he wanted to do a bunch of other weird stuff and I said, ‘I’m outta here’ and left.”

“Do you have any of your things at his place?”

“No. All the clothes I own are what I am wearing. I’m unemployed and only have 75 cents to my name. I don’t have a car and I’m homeless.”

Then where in holy hell am I taking you?!

“Do you want to go to the Rescue Mission?”

“No, they charge five dollars a night now.”

“Isn’t there a women’s shelter for abused women?”

“They want ninety dollars a week to stay there.”

Obviously, she had all the answers. I was unaware the mission had started charging, however, and thought maybe she was making that up. (I haven’t had time to check either, because, frankly, I have more important things to do at the present.)

“My mother lives over on Morrow Road,” she said. “You can just drop me off there.”


"Do you have a cell phone?”


“Can I borrow it to call her?” she asked.


I handed her my phone.

“I don’t know how to use one of these,” she said.

So I told her what to do and she made the call.

“Hey, this is Angela,” she said. “Can I stay there tonight?”

I heard a man’s voice bark: “Wrong number!”

I definitely knew then I had probably not made the wisest decision in giving her a ride “home.”

By the time we got to White Bridge Road, she told me to exit there. While we were waiting for the light to change, I saw the Waffle House and suggested she go there and get a cup of coffee and warm up.

“They won’t let me in there.”


“Because I’m homeless.”

No shit.

“Well, if you pay for a cup of coffee, that shouldn’t be a problem.”

“No. They won’t let me go in there.”

I knew now for sure this woman was into either doing drugs or selling herself, probably both. We crossed Morrow Road.

“My old handyman lives on Morrow Road,” I said.

"What’s his name? Maybe I know him.”


“What does he look like?”

“Long hair, ponytail, missing a mess of teeth.”

“Nope. Don’t know him,” she said.

She directed me to turn into a boarded-up Mapco station somewhere around 51st Street and she started to get out of the car. I checked the outside temperature. Twenty-five degrees.

“Here. Take these,” I said, handing her my Polartec gloves and my favorite crocheted cap my friend Tish made for me. “Oh, I couldn’t take these!”

I hate to say it, but I really hated giving up this beautiful hat.

“I am not going to drop you off in 25 degrees around midnight without something to keep you warm.”

"Oh, thank you! Bless you! You are so kind to do this for me! You are an angel!”

Well, I don’t know about that!

Then I unbuttoned my St. John’s Bay peacoat I’d gotten for five dollars at Goodwill on half-price Saturday and said, “Here. Button up and stay as warm as you can.”

She was on the verge of tears again.

“No one has ever been this nice to me in my whole life,” she said.

“I look at it this way,” I said. “If I were in trouble and needed help, I would want someone to help me. So don’t worry about it. It’s the least I can do for what others have done for me.”

Then I gave her a bottle of water and three bucks so she could go get something to eat at McDonald’s.

When I drove off, I saw her heading catty-corner across the street near some trees.


I figured Eddie would call me today. Why? Because I had thought about him last night and that’s all it usually takes for Eddie to call. At 2:06 p.m., my phone rang. Caller ID said it was Eddie.

I told him I had been over in his neighborhood last night. He asked why and I told him what had happened.

“Was she kinda emaciated?” he asked.


“Did she have shoulder-length brown hair?”

“Yes. Her name was Angela.”

"Oh, she’s a hooker!” he said. “She hangs out around here all the time. You shouldn’t have given her a ride!”

"Well, how the heck am I supposed to know she’s a hooker?!” I asked.


When I told my sweetheart about all of this, he was obviously upset and lectured me.

I can’t remember exactly how he put it, but the gist of it was: You’ve got people who give a shit and people who aren’t worth a piece of shit; you can’t go picking up shit!

Or something like that.

(Hell, I’ll ask him again when I talk to him after his gig and update here, okay?)

It’s bad enough having Rice Rocket Man living next door and the convicted child rapist in the house behind mine. Now there is a guy two streets over who brings hookers home with him.

As my friend Zeke pointed out, the man on Crane Court obviously isn’t a very good neighbor if he doesn’t provide round-trip transportation and expects neighbors to take his hookers home for him at odd hours of the night.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bookrats Anonymous

Hello. My name is Eileen and I am a recovering bookrat.

I know, I know. Usually, people refer to people such as myself as a bookworm not a bookrat, but there is a difference. To be a writer, though, one must first be a reader. One thing is certain, no one could ever accuse me of not being either.

Books are piled everywhere throughout my abode. I have books on my fireplace mantel. I have three stacks of books on my coffee table. I sleep with books in my bed. I have books in both bathrooms. In my home office, I have two towers of bookshelves filled, stacks on my floor, stacks on my desk, and four boxes of tomes yet to read. In addition, I have boxes of books in my garage that I have read and decided to part with — sort of. I just can’t bring myself to do it. It is very hard for me to give away a book I’ve read because we have a history of going to bed together. It’s like trying to get rid of a good lover and you can’t because you are the best of friends.

It’s much easier giving away books that I started to read but couldn’t get past the first few boring sentences, paragraphs, and/or pages. Those I don’t have a problem with donating or whatever.

I probably could found Bookrats Anonymous, but instead, I think I will concentrate my efforts into getting rid of some of these damn books because I would like to see my floor again.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Red Shoes

This is a picture of my feet in wintertime.

This is a picture of my feet in red shoes.

I have this theory: Red is a pick-me-up color. A mood booster, if you will.

Here it is the dead of winter 2010, one of the coldest on record. I am easily depressed, especially sans warm temperatures and sunshine. Seasonal Affective Disorder it is called, better known as SAD. The best remedy I know for SAD is to paint my toenails red, throw on a red hat, a red coat, and, yes, red shoes.

My love for red shoes stems back to my childhood. My mother used to be me canvas Mary Janes for 88 cents at the Safeway store in North Las Vegas, Nevada. I have always associated red shoes with summertime for that very reason.

Then again, it seems I wore red shoes almost all the time. See, my mother had this thing about feet. Hers are pretty, my sister’s are pretty, and mine are even prettier, albeit much smaller. So much so, that I have this friend in Virginia who insists I should be a foot model. Anyway, my feet pronated inward as a child, so my mother insisted I wear orthopedic shoes. We would go to the Red Goose shoe store in downtown Las Vegas and she would have me fitted each school season for a new pair of double T-straps, orthopedic-style, in dark red. Around seventh grade, they didn’t carry the red shoes in my size anymore so I had to graduate to black-and-white saddle shoes.

It was hard to run fast in those orthopedic shoes, too. They were clunky and heavy, and although I didn’t mind the red double T-straps, I seriously objected to the saddle shoes.

Somewhere around eighth or ninth grade, I no longer needed orthopedic shoes and was able to wear real shoes, which brings me back to the photo of my feet in these Ann Klein red pumps, which I have worn all of twice. Once last summer on a date with a short dotted Swiss flip skirt and a tight three-quarter-length sleeve, black Lycra and cotton T-shirt and once with a Maggy London wrap dress to a book signing for my friend, Patsi Bale Cox for her very good book, The Garth Factor. Somehow, I remember events better when I wear red shoes and, yes, even red cowboy boots.

Years later, when I was living and working in Washington, DC, I went back to Las Vegas just before my mother's birthday in February. I took her shoe-shopping at Dillard's for her gift. As luck would have it, we found the perfect pair of low-heeled pumps for her. She was looking for something to wear with a navy blue dress and I insisted she get them in deep rose red. She did and they looked fabulous. That day, I felt we had come full circle in our lives.

So next time you’re feeling low, paint your toenails Jukebox red and slip on a pair of red shoes and you will feel a lot better. I know I do.