Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Meditating in Downward Dog

I've been sitting at my desk for long periods of time lately. Too long. Plus I'm kinda old so I get stiff really quickly. Tonight I thought I would do a nice, stretching yoga session to help get some of that out. I thought it would be relaxing. I forget that I live with two little Boston Terrors. 

I tried to get them in relaxing mode by feeding them and turning on the fireplace. Ruby gravitates to that like a moth to a (literal) flame. Remy is normally the one who tries to distract me. 

Full bellies. Warm fire. Dim the lights. Lay down the mat. Breathe. 

Get interrupted. Immediately. Because of course the little beasts want to go outside. Fine. Stretch while waiting for them to finish. Let them in. They run through the house like crazy. Fine. They'll settle down. I settle into Downward Dog. 

And then. The shit hits the mat. The literal shit hits the mat. 

Because Ruby decides to come tearing across it and leaves a brown spot. Right in front of my face. Get up, get a wet paper towel, wipe the mat. She runs across it again thinking she's cute. She's not. Because something smells bad. She stepped in poo and then ran into the house and across my mat. Right where I will put my face in any sort of pose where I'm facing down. 

I get the mat cleaned off and start again. I get through the poses and start to relax. Even though Remy is pacing around me. Then comes the meditation part. A nice mantra. How lovely. "Treat all outside noises like thoughts and push them away." Jump out of my skin when the damn dogs start barking and go racing to the front door because they apparently heard an imaginary doorbell. Little fuckers. I'd like to push them off a cliff right now. 

Ruby finally curls in front of the fire. Remy finally goes to lay down in another part of the house. It could be the cold floor of the garage for all I care. I finish the last five minutes in peace. Namaste.

And then I turn around and see the poop spots on the carpet and I am conveniently out of carpet cleaner. 

I think there's still some chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream in the freezer. I'm going to go self-medicate now. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Name Change

My first name is nine letters long. My last name is also nine letters long. Add in my middle name and we get a grand total of 23 characters. Plus spaces. That's a lot of typing. With many opportunities for error. Not to mention there are roughly 83 ways to spell my first name. There's a Catholic spelling, a Greek spelling, a lazy spelling, phonetic spelling, on and on.

I thought this morning that shortening my name might be nice. People try to shorten it all the time, against my wishes. That or they come up with something completely unrelated. I mean, if you say your name is Barbara, I'm not going to say, "Oh, it's nice to meet you Francis." But people do that to me on a regular basis. Then again, people are basically stupid. (Forget good or evil, the answer is stupid.)

So I came up with Pie. Because you'd remember someone with a name like Pie, right? And everybody likes pie so they'd like me. If someone randomly said, "I love pie", I could say, "I love you too." And that would make me a nicer person. Nobody hates pie. There are too many kinds to like And even if someone did say "I hate blueberry pie" I couldn't take it personally because I'm not Blueberry Pie. I'm just Pie. But if they said "I love okra pie", even though that sounds gross, I could choose to take that personally and feel good about myself.

I think I'm onto something. If we all had nice names, then we'd all be nicer people. Your neighbor could be Chocolate. A co-worker could be Puppy Breath. Name your baby Pajamas and see what happens.

I'm going to start with Pie.

Socially Awkward Dog Is Not Steve Buscemi

I took the Boston Terrors out for an unprecedented, two-days-in-a-row-in-January! walk. Well, I took Ruby twice, Remy just one of those times. And he's the one that was properly socialized as a puppy, but I don't know if I ever want to be seen in public with him again.

Saturday Ruby and I went for a walk with the wife and her pug Shanaenae Laquifah Kwanza Jackson. AKA Gracie. I so want these two to be best friends, but Ruby doesn't get the concept of friendship. When she's not completely ignoring little Gracie, she's trying to kill her. Stealthily. As in no warning, no alarm, just full-on lunging for her throat.

She does, however, get the concept of shopping. After doing half of the Old Mill loop, we took them around the shops in order to get the full effect of their cuteness. Ruby window shops. It's not all stores, just the ones that catch her eye. She'll stop, peek inside, and then continue her booty-shaking strut. Then we came to Victoria's Secret, where she wanted to go inside. She tried to walk into both the Pink side and the regular side. I don't know if it was the lace or the smell that attracted her.

On Sunday KY and I took both Ruby and Remy so that I could lose a few calories before consuming my much-anticipated movie popcorn. Again, Ruby wanted to go into Vicki's. She even sat down in the doorway when I pulled her back. Maybe she's getting inspiration to lose a few pounds. Like mother, like dog.

Afterward, we took Remy to the dog park. Ruby had to sit outside because the sign clearly said "No aggressive dogs." Remy used to be the good one. He used to know how to play. Yesterday it was like he forgot how to be a normal dog.

First of all, he had to pee on the gate before we even got in. A drop of it splashed on my shoe. Gross. Then he sniffed the butts of the three giant Husky-type dogs who had zero interest in him. He looked retarded. Next, he went around trying to get anything bigger than him to chase him. Nobody took the bait. He looked like a socially retarded kid that all the other kids just turn away from. They know better than to be mean to him and they're more embarrassed for him than anything else anyway.

When nobody would play with him, he started barking for their attention. I actually heard some guy say to him, "Shut up, Steve Buscemi!" and then he laughed at him.

The darling little husky puppy wanted to play with him but she must have been too close to his size because he just growled at her to leave him alone. After that I decided I'd had enough humiliation and led him back out. Of course he had to pee on the gate again as a final embarrassment.

I think I'll stick to lunching with Ruby and Shanaenae. I am determined to make them best friends.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Remembering Barbie

When I was little, my favorite toys were my Barbies. I had the three-story Barbie townhouse with the elevator and a pink convertible sports car. My best friend Jenny and I would play with them for hours, when we weren't playing in her mom's high heels. She come home from a summer visit with her dad once and brought a new Barbie which I then coveted until I got one of my own for my birthday. It was the Beauty Secrets Barbie and she had the longest, most beautiful hair we'd ever seen. We loved her long pink gown and braided her hair in as many ways we could think of.

What I loved about Barbie was her tiny little shoes and how you could buy them in any color to match her many outfits. I could spend hours in the Barbie aisle at Toys R' Us looking at all of the clothes and accessories and furniture and jewelry that were available for her. I'd dress her and undress her and brush her hair until she looked perfect. Sometimes I'd make furniture for her out of shoe boxes or blankets out of scraps of material.

My stepbrother visited every summer and added a very dangerous and dark element to Barbie's life. His GI Joe was well-known as a Barbie rapist and assaulted her on a regular basis. Mostly it was date rape. But aside from that, Barbie had a pretty nice life in Southern California. However, this is probably the reason that there was never a Ken in my small collection. My Barbie remained single.

D's first Barbie was actually Mulan and was a reward for potty training. She was two and a half. After that she wanted every Barbie known to man - shopping Barbie, Glinda the Good Witch, Belle, Barbie's sister, whatever was on the shelf in every season. She actually horrified me with her poor care of them. Cutting their hair, throwing them in piles in her toy box, leaving them half-naked everywhere. She loved them, but she didn't care for them the way I did.

As an adult I learned how "unhealthy" Barbie is for little girls' self-esteem. How if she were real, she'd be an Amazon and severely deformed. That she is an  unrealistic role model for girls everywhere. But here's the thing. Barbie is a doll. We all knew that. She's a doll and we got to say what she wore and we got to decide what kind of life she had and we decided how she should wear her hair. We used our imaginations to create scenarios for her when we played with her. It was play and it was fun and we sadly outgrew her over the years.

Barbie wasn't real the way "role models" today are. Little girls are now exposed to the Nicki Minaj's and Snookis and Honey Boo Boos of the world. Sexuality is forced on them at too-early ages and the idea of what they "should be" is continuously dumbed down. What must little girls think life is meant to be with all of these images constantly thrust at them? Not to mention the whole phenomenon of Twilight, where a lonely girl changes who she is physically just so she can be with a boy whose family member wants to kill her.

I played quietly with Barbie in my room. She could be a doctor or a mom or as glamorous or plain as I wanted. It was up to me. I made my own choices. It's harder for girls today to make their own choices with all of the surrounding noise and images of women who behave wildly just for the attention.

All of this makes Barbie look as innocent as she is. After all, she was invented as a playmate by a mother for her daughter. As a way for her daughter to act out her own dreams and her own future.

I'd take Barbie over Bella any day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

With This Stapler I Thee Wed

How many of you have a work spouse? You know, a member of the opposite sex that you work with, lunch with, and generally spend most of your day with until you go home to your real spouse? They're someone you like and have common interests with and you become dependent on them. And it can get emotional because sometimes you  need someone to save your bacon when you're on a deadline and you know you can always count on that person.

My friend Sam has one of these. I think his voice sounds like Michael Jackson, but I think she's attracted to the way he talks about his family. And let's face it, ladies, family men who are truly dedicated to their wife and kids are some of the hottest guys around. So I can't blame her. And they do work together a lot. Very closely. As in he purposely presses a knee against her leg sometimes. He knows that she knows that he's doing it on purpose but they both pretend that neither one of them knows and will never admit that they know. Because if they knew for real, out loud, it would all have to stop since it would then be something less than innocent.

And work spouses can cause a bit of damage for those who don't treat it as what it is. It's a working relationship. It's not a replacement for the relationship you have in your "real" life and it can't come before your "real" relationship. It happens between work hours and then it stops.

The closest thing I have to a work husband is JZ and we're more like an old married couple than newlyweds.  In fact we bypassed the whole courting stage and went straight to comfortable. So comfortable, in fact, that he complains about the way my coffee smells and has no problem throwing an occasional "bitch" my way. But that's probably because I nag him about picking up cupcakes and force him to be a part of projects he really has no interest in. We came dangerously close to a divorce when we went on the same diet. If we were really married, we would have been sleeping in separate rooms and beginning to divide our assets. As it is, we take separate vacations.

If you don't have a work spouse, I highly recommend getting one. At the very least they're entertaining.  You always have someone to sit next to in meetings, they can buy you coffee or lunch, and they can write complicated SQL statements when you need them. If you're lucky they can provide you some innocent flirting. And if you're really lucky, and also not already married or otherwise committed for real, then you don't have to follow any rules at all.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cat As Metaphor

My co-worker, JZ, has the seat by the window and alerts me to the interesting things that either enter into or pass by the building. The family of deer, transgenders, dogs for me to molest. Today he remarked that there is a cat that walks by on a regular basis. He is dark gray and kind of stocky and rough-looking.

Me: Oh, that's a street cat.
JZ: He could be a house kitty. At my house.
Me: No, he's definitely a street cat. He's just out there roaming the neighborhood, being a ladies' man.
JZ: Some street kitties can turn into house kitties. They just need a nice warm place to stay.
Me: Are you projecting onto that cat?
JZ: Maybe. Maybe he just wants a warm place to sleep. And food. He can have a kitty door so he can come and go as he pleases.
Me: And that's why you're still single.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Where My Mind Goes

I left work early yesterday to take D to a couple of appointments and then met up with some work peeps for a drink after. I was having a conversation with JZ, who sits next to me in the office, when the conversation took a turn for the stupid.

JZ: So who left the panties on my desk?
Me: um...... (blushing and stammering and thinking to myself, WTF?!?!?) Who left WHAT?
JZ: Who left the pennies? There was a stack of pennies when I came back from lunch.
Me: OH! I thought you said PANTIES!
JZ: ha ha ha ha.... Of course you did.
Me: Well, of course it's funny that I heard it that way, but I thought it was really pretentious of you to think that I would be the one to leave panties on your desk. I mean. Really.
JZ: ha ha ha ha ha ha......

To my credit, it was very loud in there.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

It's Not Every Day You Have Lunch with Someone You Haven't Seen in 30 Years

We shared a boyfriend in fourth grade. We roller skated by his house in an early form of stalking. We tricked our fourth grade teacher into letting us watch Days of Our Lives at lunch by telling him it was a new colorized version of The Twilight Zone. We prank-called boys and strangers while teetering around in her mom's high heels. We swam in my pool, at the lake, and at the ocean. She wrote down the wrong lyrics to songs her brother listened to and we giggled long into the night.

The last time I saw her I was 12. It's been 30 years and we are having lunch today.

I was able to find her because I established my stalking skills early. It's been years, off and on, that I've tried to find her. We wrote once in college and lost touch after that. But I found her. Finally.

We've lived parallel lives. After college, we both altered our paths, took a few turns, did different things. We each have a daughter. And for the last 13 years, without knowing it, we have lived in the same town. We've shopped in the same stores, eaten in the same restaurants. She has unknowingly watched D dance in The Nutcracker. I substituted at her daughter's elementary school a lifetime ago.

How is it possible that I've never seen her while running into the same five or six people over and over and over? It seems like we would have at least one friend in common. One. Somewhere.

Today will change all of that. I will see her face-to-face. I will give her a huge hug and we will begin the process of catching up. Of re-establishing a friendship that started at the age of six. We will talk about our families - our parents, our siblings and, now, our children.

Her daughter is nine. The same age we were when we shared that boyfriend and wore bell-bottoms and passed notes in class. We now get to know each other as adults. As women. As moms.

I can't even begin to explain how full my heart is right now.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

How Much Is That Doggy in the Window?

If you don't know how much I love dogs, then we have never met. Everyone I know points dogs out to me wherever I am. I almost stole a puppy from a co-worker, which may be the reason he keeps him in the car now. The only reason I don't have more than two is because I don't have the money or the space for them. Otherwise I would have a whole bunch of them of all kinds. But mostly the smooshy-faced, because they're my favorites.

I grew up with bulldogs. My parents got our first, Astarte, when I was four. She was actually a gift to my mom when she was dating my dad. There was a small grassy hill next to our apartment and Astarte and I would roll down that hill over and over together.

Next came George. His brother was the bulldog in the Clint Eastwood/Dirty Harry movies. I was mostly mean to him and would push him out of his favorite little hidey hole under the palm trees next to the pool.

George and Astarte produced Aphrodite, who gave birth to Venus and Cassiopeia from different litters. Cassie Gave birth to Taurus. There was also Maggie, who was supposed to be mine, but she drowned in the pool as a puppy.

After they all eventually died of cancer, my parents tried once more with a pair of older dogs from a breeder friend and then switched to a chihuahua and miniature Schnauzer. As of now, I think their pack includes the mini Schnauzer, a boxer, a golden retriever, and a mini dachsund. Whew.

I've loved dogs all my life. I've played with them, been drooled on by them, held them as teeny little puppies, making sure they were clean and well-fed, and slept in beds with them. What I missed most during my college years was having a dog around and I vowed to have another as soon as I could.

Dogs are wonderful. They love us unconditionally and forgive us our flaws. They often forgive far more than any creature should have to. They only live to be loved and to make us happy. Mine have curled up next to me while I cried, kept me warm at night, and are infinitely patient with all of my moods and weirdness.

With all that they give me, I want to give back. And it feels like giving back to just two small Bostons isn't enough. I want to give something to their brothers and sisters and cousins and distant, twice-removed cousins. I want to give by making sure that all waggy-tailed, saggy-skinned, stretched-out, drooling, little kissing machines have homes and families and know what it is to be loved.

I don't make resolutions at the start of the year. They don't stick. For a while I tried calling them goals, but that didn't make them stick either. And I'm not making a resolution this year either. But I am making a commitment. I'm making a commitment to do whatever I can to help animals in need. And I'm asking  you to do the same.

How much is that doggy in the window? Too much. The cost that dogs pay when bred from puppy mills is too much. They pay with their lives. Most people today, hopefully, are aware of the tragedies caused by puppy mills. If  you're not, I'm not going to go into it, just understand that it is devastating. You can look up the horrors for yourself. Just don't buy a dog from a pet store. End of story.

If you're thinking of getting a dog, think seriously about adopting. I adopted my Dalmatian, but not my Bostons. I will adopt next time. Even if you want a specific breed, there are rescue groups. And they often have puppies. Adopting saves lives.

Shelters are overrun with animals. It is a crime against nature that so many of them are put down daily. That their last days are spent in a cement cell. Do what you can. Adopt, foster, volunteer, donate.

The biggest way to keep animals out of shelters in the first place is to be responsible. There are enough dogs (and cats) in the world already who desperately need homes. Don't breed yours. Unless breeding is your life because you show them or are specifically committed to the integrity of the breed, don't do it. You want to make some extra money? Your dog is not a part-time job. Your dog is not a puppy factory. And you don't know that those puppies are going to loving, forever homes when you put them on Craigslist.

I realize that there are plenty of causes out there. People are homeless. Cancer is still an asshole. Children need protection. I support anyone who feels passionately about any cause and if you already have one, I wish you the best and thank you for what you are doing. My passion just happens to be dogs and if you aren't already doing something for someone, I urge you to join me.

I no longer want to see pictures of starving dogs or abused dogs or hear about dogs being made to fight or dogs being put down unfairly because they exhibit behaviors that have been bred into them by us. We, as people, took dogs into our homes, we taught them to be pets. We taught them to be dependent on us and to need us. Let's not let them down.

“Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made. ” 
― Roger Caras

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