Dispatch from Ben Affleck

You can take me to your bedroom
You can take me to your heart
You can take me up to the hill
But I won’t fall apart
But don’t count on me givin’ it
All back to you
Just because I’m hooked on livin
Don’t mean I’m hooked on you

It gives me an inordinate amount of pleasure to quote an AC/DC song here on dogpoet. Granted, I was listening to the cover done by Mark Kozelek, who sings it all melancholy and sad, but just knowing that it was originally performed by the band I pretended to like in the sixth grade so that I wouldn’t get beat up, makes me happy in a twisted little way.

I am dogsitting for my barber, who is with his boyfriend in Atlanta this weekend being a couple of sick sex pigs. They must have packed all of their whips; I haven’t seen any hanging around. The magazines in the bathroom are scary enough. Buddy is laying in a patch of sun, exercising his formidable pit bull jaw muscles on a stuffed hedgehog who occasionally emits a pitiful squeak in protest. Louie is with the Ex this weekend, since Buddy is not allowed to play with other dogs for a couple of weeks following his recent surgery. They opened up his pink little belly to extract a toy he had swallowed. Maybe I should pay more attention to the fate of the hedgehog. Hang on.

Okay, the hedgehog is safe now.

There is a volunteer at the animal shelter who has been coming in every week for the last twelve years or so. He sits at the front desk greeting visitors with a pet lizard in his lap. Sometimes he has the chinchilla from the Animal Assisted Therapy department. He’s a bit of an odd soul, perhaps he has a slight mental disability or a mild social disorder. Sometime in the last couple of years he has taken to calling me Ben Affleck. Which was fine during the Good Will Hunting days, but lately it’s just plain embarrassing. I mean, Ben is hardly the finest actor of his generation. But then to be grilled endlessly about my doomed relationship with J-Lo at eight o’clock in the morning is beyond my job duties. Yesterday he asked if I was going to do another Gigli.

Got an e-mail finally from the New School in Manhattan saying they had “good news” regarding my application, and to call early next week to speak with the director of the MFA program. So two and a half out of three ain’t bad. I haven’t heard back from Sarah Lawrence; maybe my e-mail was more vindictive than I intended. The New School was my second choice, after Columbia. Phillip Lopate, who led the workshop I took last summer, is a professor there. If you haven’t heard of the New School, it’s where they film Bravo’s Inside the Actor’s Studio. All of those young hopeful students asking questions at the end are in the graduate acting/directing/playwrighting division.

After attending an excellent little undergraduate school that no one had ever heard of, it’s very strange to be going Ivy League now. I can’t say that I hate watching the reactions of friends and family and co-workers when they hear the name “Columbia”. Co-workers whom I’ve barely spoken to in the years of my employment are stopping me in the hallways to congratulate me. My father sent me a book on the history of the school. But I still feel like an imposter. I mean, c’mon, I was born in Oklahoma. I keep thinking of that scene in Risky Business, where the Princeton admissions guy stumbles into Tom Cruise’s hooker party for the interview. At the conclusion of their meeting he says, “Well, Joel, your grades are perfectly respectable. But they’re not quite Ivy League, are they?

I’m not so blind that I can’t tell the difference between reputation and reality. I had heard a few negative opinions of Columbia’s MFA program, in addition to the general consensus that it was among the top two or three in the country (as if you could quantify an arts program). So it’s been very comforting and exciting to be corresponding with Rob over at Empty Beach, who is just now finishing up in the same program Ill be entering this fall. Rob’s been a great source of all the information one can never glean from a school’s catalogue. Which is the most important kind of information. He also knows all the words to Sandra Bernhard’s Without You I’m Nothing, which earns him a gold star.

Now I’m just impatient, knowing I still have another four months or so at my lousy job, answering the phone when people have the audacity to call and interrupt my daydreaming.

My friend Jay, whom I sort of mentor in AA, has invited me to go with him to London at the end of May for a week, as our last hurrah together. (I can’t believe I just used the word “hurrah”.) I’ve never been to London, so I’m pretty excited. Looks like we’ll head to Amsterdam for a couple of days as well. I’ve been to Amsterdam, but I was seventeen and with my family, so it doesn’t really count.

After several years of talking about it, I’ve decided to ditch AOL, especially now that it’s taken to eating some of my e-mails (Aaron, if you’re reading this, send again). I’ve had an e-mail address over at mac.com for awhile now, unused. Besides, an AOL e-mail address is so 1994. So update your little black books. I’ll keep AOL for awhile, but you can now send your complaints to dogpoet AT mac DOT com.

I feel like I just finished writing one of those lame family “newsletters” that poor unsuspecting relatives receive at Christmas. I apologize profusely, and will try harder next time. Have a good weekend. And please, think of the hedgehogs.

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