Saturday, December 20, 2008


It is always interesting to find out how people see me. Others' views don't often match my own. Last night at a party I was asked how long I've been married. When I replied that I'm not, the response was one of surprise with the comment "But you seem so connected." Connected? Connected is the last thing I feel right now. Most of the time I feel like I'm just wandering aimlessly, unsure of where to land or how to sit and just be.

I'm not sure what I should be connected to, but I'm starting to reconnect with myself and that's a nice feeling. Last night is a good example. Social situations in the past have been a source of some anxiety - needing to know the other people invited and absolutely requiring someone to go with. Go to a party by myself? No thank you! But I got the invite for this one earlier in the week and accepted without hesitation. I did know most of the people attending, so it wasn't a giant step outside my comfort zone, but a step nonetheless. I arrived with pumpkin dip and a bottle of wine in hand and proceeded to have a really good time. I drank, I mingled, I ate, I laughed at jokes, I told stories, I even learned some German and some sign language. I went home a happy girl, realizing that I hadn't once felt awkward not having a party date with me.

I think I've always felt pressured to have all of the answers Now. That I'm supposed to know who I am and where my life is taking me and that not knowing makes me Less Than somehow. The truth is I've never had an answer to the 5 year question. Hell, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I do envy the people that have gotten there, the ones that seem to have it all together. Especially if they're also wearing the perfect pair of shoes with the perfect hairstyle.

I'm learning to be okay with not knowing, that I'll get there someday. It's something to be discovered, like a new martini or a really good book. And it's a bit exciting, this not knowing, because the possibilities are greater. I don't have my route mapped out, I may take a few more detours, but I'll get there. Until then, I do have some really nice shoes and even a really good hair day once in a while.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's Not Just Puppy Love

It's not just puppy love because they're not just puppies. To me, my dogs are so much more than pets. They're little children who walk on all fours, eat whatever I give them and gaze at me with complete and utter adoration. Adoration that I think I mostly don't deserve. I've been a bad mommy lately.

My little chubby, round Ruby with the googly eyes. I've noticed her collar getting a little tighter lately so I took it off the other night to see if it would expand any further. It didn't, it was as large as it will go, which means I know what Santa needs to bring now. The guilt set in when I saw that all of the hair had been rubbed off of the part of her neck covered by the latch on the collar and there was a small red, raw spot growing in the middle of it. That had to be very uncomfortable and yet she never complained. Not a whimper, not a sigh.

Remy took a trip to the vet yesterday. His ear has been smelling a bit off lately and over the weekend he started scratching it and shaking his head frequently. Monday night he would yelp when scratching. Yelp and then come bouncing over to me with his regular enthusiasm and zest.

I wasn't looking forward to going to the vet, hadn't anticipated that expense this month, and am currently broke like the rest of America. But he's my little boy, he was in pain so I bundled him up in his nicest coat and off we went. My boy was so proud to be looking so handsome and to be taking a ride that didn't have to be shared with his little sister. Little sisters can be so annoying.

The vet took one look into his ear and declared that yes, it did look very bad. She took a couple of swabs and discussed our options. Her preferred choice was to let it culture at the lab, which would tell her exactly what bacteria was present, but this alone would cost $100. The second option was to start him on a treatment that sometimes has a side effect of liver damage and requires a blood test to determine if it can even be given. Neither choice sounded great, so I was relieved when she told me they could start with a stain that would show if any bacteria was actually present and then do further testing if needed. I went with that one and we were sent back out to the waiting room.

While sitting there, an elderly couple came in. Her shoulders were shaking from crying, his hand was on her back. Neither spoke and the vet tech came quickly to get them and take them back. It was clear that they were losing someone they loved very much. I looked at my Remy, he looked at me and I was grateful to be there for only an ear infection. I know the day will come when I have a much more difficult decision to make, but not today. Thank God it's not today.

Our vet came out to tell us that there was definitely bacteria present and we were given an antibiotic along with an ointment to help with the pain. If he's not greatly improved by Monday, he will have to be sedated so that his ear can be flushed out. Keeping fingers crossed that the medicine works quickly and is all he needs.

I brought Remy back to work with me as it was the end of the day and I wanted to avoid making another trip home before I finished what I needed for an hour or so. This delighted him beyond words. A new place, with new smells and people crowding around lavishing attention on him? Any time he gets to be treated like the the rock star that he truly is makes his day. At my desk, he laid down next to me and received compliments on what a Good Boy he is. I was actually astounded that he was so well behaved, but I pretended that he is always like that. Remy? Oh yes, he is a Very Good Boy. He never jumps spastically, never licks uncontrollably or uninvited, never makes a peep. Wink, wink.

I am completely, ridiculously in love with my dogs. They are an endless source of comfort to me now. I ask next to nothing of them. Going potty outside and staying off the couch isn't too much to ask, is it? All they ask from me is to be allowed to snuggle, cover me in kisses and if I wouldn't mind sharing a bite of meat or cheese now and then. It's really the most uncomplicated relationship and the most rewarding. I think it's also the most unequal as they give me far more than I give them. I will never be deserving of the sheer joy with which I am greeted or the deep, deep love I see in their eyes.

So I will make the trips to the vet. Clean the dog hairs off of my clothes, my sheets, the floor. I will pay for medicine. I will pay for vaccines. I will clean up "accidents." Because it is a privilege being in their lives, an honor to be so loved and so trusted. Because it's the least I can do. Because the day will come when I can't and I will have to say goodbye.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


The dust is finally starting to settle. The pieces float slowly to the floor around me. I begin to examine them now. The memories, images, conversations. The judgments, accusations, the unfinished sentences. Laughter and tears. Shame and kindness.

I feel the need to organize it all somehow. If I can put it all into little compartments with proper labels then maybe it will make sense to me. But how? Which are real, the truth, authentic? What is false and what has fooled me? What stays in my heart and what should be discarded forever?

I wonder if it matters. Sometimes I think it never did. And I wish it didn't, but it matters to me. It matters a lot.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Visions of Sugar Plums

We have arrived at the culmination of the dance year - The Nutcracker. This is D's seventh year in ballet and seventh performance. It is easy to see her progression through the other dancers, from the tiny mice to the waltzing flower she has become to the Sugar Plum Fairy she aspires to be. There are also the many hairstyles I have had to learn - who knew I was required to have hairdresser skills? The soldier bun covered by the hat was the easiest. The ringlets of the polka girls were the worst, I finally got them right for the last performance. This year I am sneaking by with the french braid, although I do wish I had practiced more with my Barbies as a kid.

Oh, yes. So many memories. Waiting each season to see what role she will get (she handled the disappointment of not getting Clara much better than I did), the gift-buying for her fellow dancers, the hours of rehearsal, the backstage dramas, the excitement of performing and the huge letdown she feels each year after the last performance. There are the tangible items too - the souvenir playbills I tuck away each year, always taking an extra copy for her. She also receives every year from me a ballerina ornament, knowing someday she will take this collection with her to hang on her own tree. I imagine her as a young adult, unwrapping and hanging them in first a small apartment and then later, sharing them with her own daughter.

I went to watch her evening performance. It is an odd sensation watching your child do something that you cannot. Where does her grace come from? Her sense of self? I spill food on myself regularly, trip and bump into objects I can see clearly. Am terrified to get up in front of a group of people, let alone move in a coordinated fashion across a stage. My child though, floats among the other dancers with a smile of utter serenity and confidence. This is her spot in the sun and I can only share in it by being an observer.

When I dropped her off for warm-ups in the afternoon I repeated the phrase I often tell her before practice, "Dance your heart out!" I usually say it as sort of a joke but this time it was through choked back tears because I knew that she would. And that someday she will dance away from me into her own life.
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