May 12, 2016 § 8 Comments


Ok, I know everyone and their dog is writing a book. I know that this increases the competition and the battle over the only resource that Nestle isn’t sucking out of the ground: Readers. I know all that, but I was comforted by the fact that dogs lack the passion and commitment to write a book.

But now someone’s stupid dog has written a book. Not only written one, but gotten one published, by a major publishing house after a heated auction. (The stupid dog tried to hump all the publishers in the heated auction until it was explained to him it wasn’t that kind of heat.)

A fellow writer frenemy, who loves my pain and quietly celebrates my failures, as I do my writer friends, calls me to tip me off.

FRIEND: The book is called BALLZ GONE and is just a series of paw prints.

ME: Please tell me this is a joke.

FRIEND: (imagining the sharpness of the razor blade I am currently selecting): I’m not kidding. It’s already 73 on Amazon. What was your ranking on your last book again?

ME: (lies) I have no idea.

FRIEND:   Well, of course it’s a male dog. You know female dogs wouldn’t have the same shot.

ME: Listen, maybe the book is all the talk today, but tomorrow it will just a memory. (much like this conversation, I think to myself, breaking out the tequila and benzos.)

But the next day, BALLZ GONE is number 8 on the New York Times Best Seller list, not with a bullet but with a Frisbee. That’s the kind of humor that is in my book, which says a lot.

The stupid dog appears on Good morning America. George Stephanopoulos says “Man Parts” instead of “balls” on the air because he is a polite twelve-year-old from a defunct school of manners. The dog pants. Everyone claps.

I see Ballz Gone everywhere, in the local independent, in the airport, in the supermarket book section where only the hottest authors reside.

The next author’s conference I go to, of course the idiot dog is sitting next to my signing table while his increasingly rich master, a man with a goofy grin and hairless arms, presses the dumbass’s paw into an ink pad and then presses his “signature” into the books of an eager line that stretches around the corner. I have seven people in my line. One of them is seeing-impaired, and is tipped off that she is in the wrong line when the idiot, lucky-ass dog spies a squirrel through the window, and lets out a high, primitive yelp.

I’m not bitter. No, really. How well my books are selling compared to a dog’s is no function of my value or my worth as a human being. You know, Xanax tastes a bit like chalk and Tang.

Three weeks later. Reese Witherspoon picks up the film option. John Malkovich will play the moody, emasculated protagonist. Angelina Jolie will go against type to play his mother, a lean and saintly Tibetan Mastiff who will murmur things like: You must one day face the vet, my son.

Another seven weeks pass. There are now 3 million copies of Ballz Gone in print.

Where was I? Oh yes, I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine. I write my first memoir, THIS WORLD IS UNFAIR, PUBLISHING IS RIGGED, AND I’M GLAD YOU LOST YOUR BALLZ. My mother buys it.

Slowly, finally, after three years, Ballz Gone creeps back down the bestseller list, falls off and plays dead.

And I can live again.

Until I hear about the sequel, HIGH PRIMITIVE YELP, which is just the stupid dog yelping on a loop when he sees a squirrel.



O Stars

October 16, 2015 § 10 Comments

author photo copy

Once I was on a party boat in Acapulco

And halfway through it I found out that by some amazing coincidence

Everyone on it had given me a one star review on Amazon

Including the bar boys

And at first they were polite, saying things like, It just wasn’t for me

Or it started good and dragged in the middle

And then they drank a bunch of cheap tequila shots

And started saying meaner things

Like your novel sucks

And you suck too

And if I could have given it zero stars

I would have.

Furthermore, I’d like to murder everyone on your acknowledgment page

With a club made from the wood of the tree that died for this thing you call a book.

They formed a conga line and shouted you suck! you suck!

To the beat of Taylor Swift

And the bar boys shouted Usted suckoste! Usted suckoste! Dirty whore!

Which is guess is a kind of spanglish.

Anyway I also saw

A couple of dolphins.

Jesus Would Take The Middle Seat

September 7, 2015 § 42 Comments

I’m on a plane right now

Houston to LA

and I’m thinking

Jesus would take the middle seat.

He’d give me the window so I could see the clouds.

Maybe clouds bore him.

Maybe he sees his own face in a cloud

Or on a wall

Or a muffin

And he thinks it’s a miracle.

Jesus doesn’t put his seat back.

Because there might be a Roman soldier behind him with bad knees

And Jesus forgives everything.

Jesus listens carefully to the flight attendant’s instructions

Jesus asks for water, but when he touches it, it turns to wine.

The stewardess says, that will be five bucks and Jesus pays for it without complaining.

I don’t know what to say to Jesus

But I need to say something because, Jesus.

I say he looks considerably darker

than his likenesses on Etsy watercolors

And he says, there’s been a bit of pigment revisionism going on in recent centuries

Which sounds cool when Jesus says it

And I say, you know they darkened OJ Simpson on the cover of Time Magazine during his trial,

And Jesus nods

Because maybe he’s followed the trial

Or maybe he’s just being polite.

I start rambling on about how impressive it was to me that he forgave douchey mankind

And ask him what happened to the lamb on his lap in the paintings

And if he took that lamb to heaven

Where it is currently still young and still cute.

A bead of sweat rolls down my face because I’m sounding like an idiot.

I almost ask him if Mel Gibson is like the embarrassing friend you have to invite to parties,

But I stop myself and say instead, “Kanye West thinks he’s you.”

Jesus smiles.

He has a nice smile and he smells like a feather would smell

If lambs had feathers

Flying like Jesus is like flying with the biggest celebrity in the universe

like, three Oprahs

I want to ask him if he’s mad that I never could quite commit

and if dogs and fish see him at the end

and if he always flies American.

I always pictured him on Jet Blue.

And I don’t want the plane to land

Because I never quite believed.

And now I do.

I believe I believe I believe.

Scared Straight For Cats

November 5, 2014 § 11 Comments


Sonny Boy, a sleekly pelted purebred douche with a horribly entitled disposition, has driven his mommy and daddy, two humans who trumpet their mental instability to the world by calling themselves his mommy and daddy, to the brink of insanity.

His demands have grown incessant and nothing has worked, neither cat whisperer nor Feline Calming Spray nor Douche Camp.

Now it is time for a visit to the Ventura County Last Chance Cat Shelter, where Sonny Boy will be introduced to their hardest cases in an effort to scare him straight.

First he must complete the intake form:

Which breed do you bring dishonor upon?




___No one know what the hell you are or from what boiling witch’s pot you hoisted yourself as the witch screamed and renounced her sins.

___ How many times in the past month has your name appeared in the same sentence as the word “divorce?”

____ Is the shoe thrown at your head usually thrown at night or in the morning? (trick question)

Has your fixed, contemptuous stare grown

__less fixed, more contemptuous

—more fixed, less contemptuous

___more fixed more contemptuous

___less fixed less contemptuous yeah right then you wouldn’t be here asshole

When did you first realize that you had driven Mommy insane?

___She cried when cleaning litter box.

__Pupils became unnaturally large.

___Diagnosed with “exhaustion.

___ Began to use heroin

___Became a prostitute

When you drag some poor innocent creature you killed for no reason into the house, what are you thinking?

___Here’s a gift for you, Mommy and Daddy!

___I hope it was magic and would have brought great blessings.

Which part of your owner’s body would you eat first upon their death:

___ Hands



____Adrenal Glands

____Back of Neck

___ Would not wait until death.

What is your most frequent nickname?

__Senor FurryDouche *

__ Entitled Bag of Fleas and Evil

___Shut up!

If you could reverse your neutering and populate the earth with millions of you to destroy civilization and every single baby bird ever fallen from a nest, how many heartbeats would it take you to embark upon this diabolical path?





After completing the intake form, Sonny-Boy is taken to the showers, where he is encouraged by a snaggle-toothed old Exotic Shorthair not to drop the soap.

He is de-flead and paw-printed.

His mugshot –One to the left, one to the right, one straight ahead — takes five hours.

He is led into the main chamber, where the hard cases live.

His back is straight. Head high. Pelt sleek.

He has no idea what awaits him.


* copyright Linda Birkenstock

I Have a Career and a Cat, But I Lean In.

July 17, 2014 § 9 Comments

sunny july 16

It’s true. Women in the modern age can have it all, a thriving career and a cat.

It’s hard, it’s like herding children, but it can be done.


I get up at the ungodly hour of 8 am and am greeted by the cat’s loveless stare, his eyes like two koi ponds of indifference. Then it’s a race to get ready for work, put down his food, and check his water. They say these are the precious moments, to stop and savor them. They lie.

10 AM

I’m at my ad agency, Circle of Hell & Co., where I am busy and important. I’m not interrupted by a call from the pet sitter, because I don’t have one. But I could, and she could call to interrupt this very crucial meeting.

But I lean in.

5:16 PM

Tampax Tampons is a slightly more trusted brand because of my work today. I drag home, exhausted. But still I have to check the cat’s bowl.

Needs more dry.

I’ve got to go through a brief on Diet Coke, and also throw a toy mouse across a room.

He brings it to me.

I have to throw it again.

He brings it to me.

I have to throw it again.

And I have a brief to read.

“Lean in,” my mother tells me on the phone when I call her in tears. “You can do this. You can do everything.”

“But he’s so high maintenance,” I wail.

“Suck it up,” she answers, “I raised three Pekinese by the time I was thirty five.” She hangs up on me.


I call the feline help hotline, 1800-URCATSADOUCHE.

“You know,” I tell the volunteer, “I was told only the good parts of having a cat. The monthly purr, the dead lizards left in my bed, having someone there to eat me when I die. But I’m tired. I’m very, very tired.”

“What kind of cat do you have?” the gentle voice asks.

“A Burmese.”


The phone goes dead.


I’m planning a relaxing evening after a hellish, nearly 40-hour week, when my cat decides to get in a fight with a neighbor cat.

He comes in. He’s got a scratch on his nappy, uncaring, dead-eyed head.

And I have to stop and say, “you’ll live.”

When I go back to the wine, it’s warm now.

This is my life.

Calls, meetings, eight hour days on flat heels, cleaning the litter box twice a week because it’s one of those new fangled spinny things.


The litter box breaks and I have to clean it by hand. I die a little.

My friend Nicole comes over and finds me digging Xanax from the bottom of my purse.

“This isn’t you,” she says. “You used to keep your Xanax in neat little foil packages.”

I am bedraggled, sleep deprived. My cat has kneaded me in my sleep twice in the last month. And one night I dreamed he shedded his face like an iguana and I woke up screaming. It’s too much, a career, a cat.

Nicole grabs me by the shoulders. “You can do it! You can have it all!”

“I can’t,” I insist.

She slaps me. “LEAN IN!” she screams. The cat cuffs me. I’m going to be okay.

Death Bed Regrets

December 4, 2013 § 16 Comments

That I spent so much time staring into the middle distance, neglecting the scenery of the near distance and far distance.

That I did not admit I thought “Gravity” was stupid because people would think I was talking about gravity, the force.

That in my twenties I dated many a low-tide organism believing their personalities could be worked on later.

That I didn’t live in the now, except on my deathbed which kind of sucks at the moment.

That I did those glute exercises that were supposed to make them smaller but instead made them into monsters that terrified a small Japanese town before they were destroyed by a missile.

That I didn’t stop and pet more ugly dogs and let them drag their grateful tongues down my face and wear that sticky sheen like a Boy Scout badge.

Same for lepers.

That I let booze, drugs and prostitutes fill the empty void when Facebook was free.

That I watched the video “Blurred Lines” just once, but God saw.

That I never once shot a bottle rocket into a children’s choir.

That I did not train a bunch of squirrels to form a ball and put them under my shirt and tell my mother I was pregnant and did she want to feel the baby kick.

That I didn’t finish my antibiotics and now everyone’s going to die.

That I used plastic and now everyone’s going to die.

That I was not a vegan and now everyone’s going to die.

That I regularly took the 405 instead of just shooting myself.

That I did not lovingly raise a Siberian Tiger and teach it to attack only when it hears a toilet training story from a new parent.

That I was not less tolerant.

That my mother outlived me and spent my money on a suicide vest to wear to a PETA meeting.

That “you can’t take it with you” also applies to this morphine drip.


August 31, 2013 § 18 Comments


This past week, my mother has been at Burning Squirrel, a pagan ritual in Louisiana where elderly Southern women drink margaritas and dance before a large burning squirrel effigy in the hope that, in the coming season, the squirrels spare their garden vegetables and don’t strip their pecan trees.

My mother, of course, denied that this is where she was going, even though I could see the body paint peeking through the polyester sleeve of her blouse.

“I’m not going to Burning Squirrel,” she said. “And if you think I’d join that bunch of squirrel-butt-kissers and window-box gardeners begging some heathen varmint god not to raid my tomatoes, you’ve got another thing coming. I’ve got a shotgun. That’s my form of prayer.”

“Swear you’re not going.”

“I swear on my Uncle Luther’s grave.”

“You hated Uncle Luther. In fact, I hear you spat on his grave.”

“That was a beautiful funeral” she admitted. “But I’m telling you I’ve never been to Burning Squirrel. I’m going to the great annual Southern Women’s Bridge Tournament and Outraged Disapproval of Youth Culture Extravaganza.”

“Sure you are.”

“We’ll be having a mock twerking competition to the music of the great Tennessee Ernie Ford. And if you’re writing that stupid blog again, don’t think you can use terms like ‘twerking’ or ‘blow me’ and think I won’t look them up on Wikipedia and box your ears good.”

“I won’t,” I promised.

“And don’t have me do ridiculous things like pretending my hands are pistols and twirling them around the air like Yosemite Sam,” she added, as she made pistols with her thumb and forefinger and twirled her hands around in the air like Yosemite Sam.

“Fair enough.”

“Now get out my way. I’ve got to finish packing for Burning Squ — Burning Bridge. The bridge tournament.”

“You’re going to Burning Squirrel and you know it. Remember when you came back last year with your blouse worn out in the elbows and your flapper shoes scuffed at the tips and the front of your home permanent singed?”

“That was a tough tournament.”


“Nonsense! I’m a Christian woman and an upstanding member of Sinners Vamoose United Methodist church.”

“Then explain this!” I shouted, opening her suitcase with a flourish to reveal a margarita machine, two pairs of clean socks, and Desperate, her calico cat, who looked up at us indifferently.

I glared at my mother. “Don’t tell me you were going to sacrifice Desperate this year.”

“Fine, fine,” she said as Desperate jumped out. “The squirrel god would have been pleased with such a fat and furry sacrifice, but never mind. I’ll just use a signed first edition of one of your novels.”

“So you admit you’re going.”

“Yes, I’m going! When you have a garden, you do what it takes. Besides, I’m going to win the volleyball competition this year. I have the vertical leap of a cheetah.”

Just then, I looked out the sliding glass doors and saw a squirrel furtively tiptoeing toward her pecan tree.

My mother ran to the door, wrenched it open and screamed: “BLOW ME, SQUIRREL BASTARD!”

The squirrel froze, his eyes two terrified saucers, until a brave comrade darted out, grabbed him under the arms and dragged him away.

My mother looked at me. “Just getting it out of my system.”

She zipped up her suitcase. “See you in a week. And make sure that damn calico doesn’t jump the fence.”


(Burning man image © Aaron Logan)


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Twerking is a dance move that involves a person, usually a woman, sliding back and forth in a graceful movement resembling a waltz or box step. Twerking is only done by the highest classes and is a gesture of refinement, good breeding, and music appreciation.

The word “twerking” is of uncertain origin. Possibilities include a contraction of “footwork“, or a portmanteau of twist and jerk.[1]

‪Blow Me

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedi

Blow Me is a southern expression used mostly by women of a certain age to politely tell a squirrel to vacate a garden, pecan tree or fruit-bearing bush.

The word “Blow Me” come from the Latin Word contraction of “Blowus Meus“, or “Squirrel Be Gone.”

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