Tuesday, December 13, 2011

5x7 Folded Card

With Love Christmas Card
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

This is Halloween...

Halloween has ALWAYS been my favorite holiday.  I don't know if it's because I like crisp air and sweaters, or falling leaves or candy.  Or maybe it's that it's a mere five days before my birthday and, as a kid, it was the best to have a night to dress up and get candy and then a week later, get presents!  At any rate, for whatever reason, I love this time of year.  I think dressing up is a hoot and I'm excited to do it with my kid.  I'm sad that women's Halloween costumes are an excuse for women to show their tatas to their neighbor.  When did that happen, exactly?  When did someone decide, "you know what would be a great costume?  Sexy Big Bird!"  I mean...what...is...wrong...with...people.  Why doesn't anyone have a sense of humor anymore?  Because of all the ghastly stripper outfits out on the streets on the 31st, I'm always that much more impressed when someone (especially a woman!) has a creative, funny or outlandish outfit, homemade preferable.  I'll be wearing my chicken suit this year and honestly, I'm not sure I've ever worn it myself out on Halloween.  I bought it to wear on Halloween in 2003, but it snowed and there was some drama in my life...and I guess I DID wear it...to a casino down the street...for about ten minutes.  I had paid over a hundred bucks for the thing and felt like someone else should see it.  But amidst the fight with my crappy boyfriend, I decided I just wanted to go home and take my wings with me.  It's gotten a ton of use since, however.  My friend Nick wore it trick or treating with his kids, I wore it to a masquerade party because I didn't own anything sexy (that night, the chicken suit wore a bikini.  Boom. Sexy chick.)  I wore it to my nephew's fifth birthday party and delivered him some balloons along with a British accent.  (He suspected it was me, but I still deny it.  I thought it was funny, but mostly, it just scared his friends.)  This year, my 8 month old baby will wear herself a LITTLE chicken suit and I will wear my enormous one.  My husband, at least right now, will be a farmer.  That we've killed.  The chickens have finally won.

We decorate the house and get candy for the few trick or treaters who stop in.  And I'm ridiculously excited to knock on doors with my little chick, begging for candy and remembering the days when I was twelve and people dressed like a giant bag of M & M's and didn't feel the need to be "sexy" M & M's.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


All I wanted was a dog that would fetch.  Nothing fancy. Just a good old medium sized canine that had the instinct to collect and return whatever I chucked out there.

I guess that's not really the beginning of the story.  It probably starts with Maggie. 

Maggie was a German Shepard mix found at a private shelter in Newport, RI.  I had been dating this guy, (engaged to him, actually) when he told me he wanted a dog of his own.  I, honestly, felt myself to be more of a cat person and indeed, had a cat.  We lived in a one bedroom apartment on the second floor...there was no yard and no place all that close to run, but we still knew we didn't want a little yip-yip dog.  Boy didn't really have a job, so most of this was my responsibility. And by "most of this," I mean, "everything."  I spoke to the landlord about wanting a dog and I had lived in this apartment long enough for him to know me, so he agreed.  Actually, I had lived in this apartment for a year, then moved out, then back in almost a year later.  This man, unlike most landlords, knew I was a tenant who left the place in better condition than I'd found it.  In the ghetto of Pawtucket, RI., I was a rare bird and it wasn't much of a risk, this dog ownership.

Cory and I (that was the boy's name) trolled several shelters, all of them depressing.  We saw hundreds of homeless dogs, but none of them felt like the right dog.  We met a Boxer through the bars of his kennel and as we knelt down for a better look the brindled dog eye balled us as if we were criminals and gave us a low, motionless growl.  Moving right along...

Someone at some juncture in our search finally recommend we check out the Potter League for Animals in Newport.  I was in massage school and we weren't in any huge rush, so a few weeks later, we made the thirty minute drive and hit homeless-doggie-shangri-la.  This place had, what seemed to be, acres of green grass...clean kennels...obedience classes and a waterfall for Christ's sake.  Not just nice, this place was amazing.  We took a stroll around, and while impressed with the facility, we didn't quite find the dog.  We spent some time wtih a Golden Retriever mix with light blonde hair and blue eyes, but she was hyper and seemed not a good fit for apartment living.  We hung out with a purebred Dalmation, but was told she peed on furniture and wasn't good with kids.  (The beauty of a private shelter is you actually get this added info.)  We were about to leave, feeling defeated, when we spotted a bunch of dogs in the Saturday obedience class with volunteers.  There was one in particular,a black mutt, who seemed like she could be easily overlooked, but had the biggest ears of any dog I'd ever seen.  We asked to see HER.

We were brought back to the same large, open spaced room with the speckled linoleum floor and sat in the same seats we had sat in with hyper dog and furniture wetter.  This dog, named Kelly, just stood by us patiently.  She backed her rear end up to us and gently looked over her shoulder, making eye contact with both of us and wondering which of us would scratch her hind quarters.  We both did and this seemed the greatest thing she'd ever received.  When satisfied, she slowly sat down between us and checked out the room, licked our legs and hands.  We'd found our dog.  We signed papers and they took her away to bathe her before her trip home with us.  We were told she came from the Warwick shelter where she was on death row.  The volunteers thought she was a good, adoptable dog and requested she be transferred to Potter League.

Even though we had discussed at length what we would name a dog if we got one, we never could come to a decision. But getting into my Nissan Sentra, Kelly wearing a new red bandana around her neck and smelling like shampoo and skunk, I looked at Cory and said, "we should name her Maggie.  She's the baby."  He was a huge Simpsons fan and didn't hesitate.  Agreed.  And off we went back to Pawtucket with Maggie hanging out quietly in the back seat. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I thought Maggie was great.  But, she was HIS dog.  Regardless of the fact that I paid for her.  I really just wanted him to be happy and he wanted his own dog.  And although we called her "ours," I really knew who she belonged to...

Until we broke up.

And that's where things get fuzzy.

It ended pretty abruptly and not all that pretty.  But, as the rejected bachelor Ben said on the finale of the Bachelorette, (yep, I'm about to quote something from the Bachelorette!) "nothing good ends well."  That may be a misquote.

There was a lot of anger, mostly on his part.  He didn't get it.  He didn't understand how things could change so suddenly.  But they did.  When I realized I'd be carrying us along financially.  Forever.

He wanted Maggie.  He said he couldn't take losing me AND her.  I told him fine.  He could have her.  But only when he had a place to live that allowed her.  Rumor had it he'd been couch surfing, but mostly sleeping in the car I'd bought him.

Months went by...there was much arguing and crying and clearly, we weren't getting back together.  I'd rebounded to my old boyfriend and gone online to dating websites; pretty much anything to not have to feel what I felt.  Maggie hung out with me and I walked her across the street to "shit park."  Nicknamed because it was the only place to bring a dog to poop, and everyone did.  And then didn't pick it up.  There was a bench with a statue of Ray Croc, founder of McDonald's on it.  We were across the street from a McDonald's.   And regardless of my being alone with Maggie, I still didn't feel like she was my dog...for about 2 years.

I decide I was moving to Tahoe.  I called Cory and asked him if he wanted Maggie before I left.  He told me he was working on getting an apartment and then he'd take her.  By the time I left in September, he still didn't have a place.  I wasn't surprised.  I took Maggie on a plane and off to Tahoe we went.

I was there for a year when I decided I was probably moving to Los Angeles.  I went online and looked for places to live, looked for roomates.  No one wanted me to have a big dog.  She weighed 75 pounds and people had a 15 pound limit.  So I called Cory again.  "I'm probably moving to LA and it's going to be hard for me to take Maggie.  Do you want her?"  And he said no.  He said he never wanted to own a dog alone...and he still didn't have a solid place to live.  And that's when I decided she was totally mine and now I wouldn't give her to anyone even if they asked.  I couldn't believe he'd say no.  I suppose I got the part about not having a home...but....shocked. 

Maggie and I went on many hikes in Tahoe.  She played with my new boyfriend's dog, Bagheera.  They travelled the neighborhood together. Up there, it's like living in the 1950's where dogs just run around free.  They once walked all the way down the mountain and went into a grocery store together.  We got a call to go pick them up.  Mags loved hiking, hated swimming, and never chased a thing I threw.  Or, well, she'd chase it, maybe pick it up, toss it, then run in the other direction.  Not a fetcher.  I just wanted a dog that played fetch.

But Maggie was the greatest dog that ever lived.  She snapped at me the very first night we had her when she was sleeping on our bed and I tried to move her.  It never happened again.  She never had an accident in the house.  Never barked.  Was sweet to everyone she met.  Kids, cats, men, mail persons...didn't matter.  She loved everyone equally.

So eight years later, when I was living in LA with my husband and her arthritis was so bad she could hardly walk, I felt like someone had run me over when we made the decision to put her down.  It was February 5th and raining....it was late, about 9:00...and she was laying on her spot on the couch and whining.  I knelt down beside her and looked her square in her dark brown doe eyes.  I asked her to lick my face if she was ready to go.  Just one lick if she wanted out of this body.  And she looked back at me and licked my cheek.  I couldn't ignore her misery or her sign language and so told Sweeney we needed to take her tonight.  It was time. 

Putting her down was the most gut wrenching thing I've ever done to date.  I cry just thinking about it.  I'm crying right now writing about it.  She had my heart, this big eared dog...she grew on me and over me and she just had me.  I held her head as the doctor inserted the needle, first giving her a sedative, then the lethal injection.  I watched as she put her head down and listened as she exhaled one last time.  And I couldn't believe she was gone...this dog who chased a bear in the woods...the dog who let me put my glasses on her and take pictures...the one who snuggled with my 17 year old cat, Elvis.  What. The fuck. Was I going to do.

I cried. And cried and cried.  Came home in the car numb and not crying and then sobbed hard on Sweeney's chest, crying out and writhing like someone who just came out of a war.  It felt like I was dying.

I came home from work every day the next week and looked on Craigslist.  Read about dogs.  Wrote about Maggie, looked at her pictures....and then I saw a dog who looked like her listed at the North Central shelter in downtown LA.  I wanted to go see him.  Not to take him home...just to visit.  And so I made the treck.  It took about 45 minutes in traffic, but I got there.  And he didn't look as much like her in real life.  I visited him briefly, this dog named Pat, and then moved on to the other cages, all of them full.  North Central has one of the highest kill rates in Los Angeles.  It's over-crowded and downtown, where people are poor, uneducated; don't fix their pets.  I spotted this scared red dog in the back corner of her kennel and made eye contact.  She didn't lift her head off her paws, her body curled into a tight ball, but her tail wagged.  And I knew, in all her silent cuteness, that this was a dog I needed to save. I called her over to me and she wouldn't come. Didn't lift her head still.  Just wagged.   I called Sweeney and he told me he trusted me, that if I wanted the dog, to get her.  I had never wanted a puppy and this dog was listed as being five months, but she just called to me. I left and then thought about it for a day, and then went back the next and adopted her.  It was Valentine's Day weekend and they were having a special.  Her adoption fee was lowered and that was my incentive.  Maggie had been gone a week.  I just couldn't take the sad and all the empty.

After being fixed, I went to the vet to pick her up.  She wouldn't walk on a leash, and so I wrapped my arms around her and carried her out.  She was a Lab mix of some kind and her ears flopped at their tops.  Her forehead wrinkled and surrounded her eyes in a way that made you feel sorry for her.  She came into the house and snapped at Elsa and then slept for a few days.  Once acclimated to the house, she got along with the Beagle...and most of all....I threw a ball....and she got it. Brought it back.  I had found my dog that played fetch.  And I felt like Maggie was happy I had saved this little life....

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What the Hell?

I don't really watch television.  And I don't say that with the pretentiousness of someone who is better than you (television watcher.)  I just don't really have the time.  And I'm not afraid to admit to you and God and everyone that I am honestly, humbly, addicted to The Bachelorette.  If that show was on seven days a week, I would record it and find the time, at 2am if I had to, to watch it.  (I was pissed it was a repeat on the 4th of July! What the F#*@!?) 

But also, I don't watch television because it helps me avoid the "news."

I'm pretty sure "news" is a subjective term anyway, but here in LA, it gets a little crazy.  I mean, what news is to the people in Minnesota can be totally different than the people in California (Southern Cal, specifically, it seems.)  On any given night, there could be coverage of a forest fire, a flood, a murder, or the new tattoo Jennifer Aniston got on her foot.  And this isn't E Entertainment news....this is ABC/NBC/CBS.  Awesome.  I find it depressing (both the murder coverage and Brittany's new hairstyle.)  I wish they covered the people going to Skid Row to feed people, or that lady who adopted 25 mentally handicapped children.  I wish they covered the guy who paid your toll ahead of you and the lady who made up "free donut Tuesday" at Dunkin Donuts.  I mean, I care more about those people than I do about Jennifer Aniston.  Just sayin'.

I have successfully avoided all coverage of the Casey Anthony trial, but it has saturated the media, and the minds of my friends, co-workers and people in line at Starbucks.  So now I know about it.  I'm not sure I want to know about it.

I believe in mass consciousness and energy effecting how things work...I believe that when people get together and focus on something, it creates more of that something.  What we need right now are more good parents.  We don't need another inhuman human.  We, as a people, could use less people who kill people.  And yeah, for the record, while you're talking about it, I think she killed her.  (I don't have chloroform in MY trunk...do YOU?  If you do, you probably killed someone, too.  See? I know details of this case and I never even watched an ounce of it on TV.   The power of the media is vast and reaches into the minds of those who go out of their way to avoid it.  Maybe what we resist, persists.  But I digress...)

I didn't have an original point, really, so I'm ok with this being all over the place.  I'm drinking a Diet Dr. Pepper and life is moving slowly this morning.  There's a baby asleep and no dogs barking, so life is looking pretty good.

In closing,  1) I wish there was less media and more social gatherings around campfires.  I had friends make me s'mores on Saturday at a fire and that, THAT, my dears, improved the quality of my life.  2) We need to focus on the good people and the good things they're doing if we want more good things done.  Maybe if the media got all frenzied over people taking care of other people, more people would be inspired to do it; even if just for the shot at being on TV.  And 3)  I'm giving diet soda a chance, but honest to God, I still really hate diet soda.

Good day.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Entitlement and the quick decline of society.

If you want to see, up-close and personal, the blooming seeds of entitlement that have been planted for the last ten to fifteen years, become a teacher.

I feel old lately and really do catch myself saying, "back in my day..."  because really...I don't get it.  I don't remember being disrespectful to my teachers, neither in grade school, nor in college or massage school.  I don't remember feeling like someone needed to remind me every ten seconds that homework was due.  I don't remember being allowed to "make-up" the seventeen classes I missed in college because I was hung-over.  I don't remember having a book of excuses to draw from when I failed.  It was just me. It was just that I wasn't doing the work that needed doing; and I knew this.

My parents, for all of their flaws, never allowed me to get away with SHIT.  If they thought, for even one second, that I was lying to them, I got slapped across the face.  And in no way am I advocating hitting your child or any form of child abuse, but I'll tell you what: I may be many different things...a liar is not one of them.

I had a paper route when I was 10.  I made about three dollars a week delivering the Quincy Sun on Wednesdays until I got a little older and could handle the daily Patriot Ledger.  Then, I made about 12 dollars a week.

I remember one Saturday morning feeling tired and cranky and those papers were heavy in my over-the-shoulder paper carrier.  I could only carry about six papers at a time and had to keep returning to the corner to pick up more papers.  It's an understatement to say I had a temper as a kid and I know now I also suffered from depression.  That being said, I took the remaining papers on the corner after I'd delivered about half and tossed them, hurled them, really, onto the pavement.  Garfield comics and coupons flew in the wind across the street and onto lawns.  I sat on the curb screaming and bawling my eyes out and my Dad came outside and made me put together the papers the best I could and deliver them as is.  That was the end of the paper route.  He made me give it up.  And that 12 dollars a week was never to be heard from again.

I feel like today, the parents would just give the kid a twenty and call it a day.  Or the tough-love types would drive that kid around every Saturday morning and not take any gas money from the profits.  I didn't feel entitled to it. I knew I fucked it up. And that was the end of that.

I ended up getting a job at a grocery store when I was 15.  I needed to pay for my driver's ed class and if I wanted to go to the movies, that was on me, too. If I showed up five minutes late, I was terrified. And by the way, the produce prices changed daily and we had to memorize them.  So everyday, there was a quiz.  This sucked.  And I didn't complain to anyone about it.  I just did it.  Because Annie, my manager, said so.

And even though I didn't get paid... even though I PAID to go to college, I would get a knot in my stomach if I entered my dance class five minutes late.  I would dread the glare the teacher and other students would give me.  I did NOT view myself as a consumer who should receive amazing customer service and be able to do whatever the hell I wanted.  I did not feel like I owned the classroom and could deface it. I did not have the attitude of, "shit, I pay your salary, mutherfucker" towards my math teacher.  Even when he wasn't nice to me. And I CERTAINLY didn't expect anyone to call me the night before a paper was due to gently remind me to bring it to class the next day. If I forgot an assignment, I didn't blame the teacher; I just jumped into self-loathing like a good early twenty-something.

I think social media and technology has helped to create this "drag-along" mentality.  Everyone is too easily reached and people expect you to use those means to remind them about stuff.  I have students (who are all over 18, by the way) calling their classmates' cell phones so that they can pass along the message to me that they'll be late or absent. Or worse, ask the student to hand the phone to me in class to tell me they'll be late or ask if they can miss class.  What do they want me to say? And do they think because they called their friend's phone or sent a picture of their being sick to show me, that I won't mark them absent?  Feel sorry for them and give them credit? I don't get it.  I understand sending me an email if you're missing class, but why wait until it's already started and then interrupt everyone else's experience?? Oh. Right.  Because it's all about you. I forgot.   But mostly, they don't let me forget. I hear about 20 times a day, "I pay $15,000 to go here."  No kidding?  So what?  So what does that mean?  That we should hand you your diploma? That now you don't have to work for it?  Really.  Baffling.  Those words carry entitlement in them.  Spread thick like frosting on a shit cake.   I had a student yesterday have the gall to tell me, essentially, I'm a bad mentor to him because I wouldn't let him join the student an hour and 15 minutes late.  That I wasn't asking him what was wrong, so therefore, I had an "attitude."  Back in my day, we called that "projection."  You know, when you have an attitude with someone and then tell them that they have an attitude with YOU.

It has to be something we're doing wrong out here. Something parents aren't teaching their kids, or teaching them accidentally by doing everything for them.

Let your kid do their own homework or not and suffer the consequences. Make them get a job, for Pete's sake.  Don't clean their room for them.  Please.  For me. For all of the other teachers, department store clerks and Starbucks Baristas that have to deal with them.  You aren't doing anyone any favors by spoon-feeding that child... least of all, them.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

So I had this baby....

I had that baby I was pregnant with. Almost 4 months ago now.  I still feel a bit like I'm living in a bubble and things have taken on a surreal, dreamy quality I can't describe properly.  I'm breastfeeding this baby because I want her to have whatever immunity I've got to give her against the world's bad stuff...and it's cheaper than formula.  And I touch her a lot because studies have shown that babies who are touched more often than not have a greater chance of NOT being a serial killer.

I just want to raise a person who has a conscience and contributes to the world somehow; in big or small ways.  If she does no harm, I'll be happy.

I've gone back to work, but this time, it's a new work.  I'm a teacher at National Holistic Institute and I teach people how to be massage therapists.  This job, ironically enough, is really pointing out to me how much I don't know.  I guess teaching is like that.  It's nice to have a regular paycheck and hours and such and I get to bum around the house in the morning in my pajamas with this baby becuase I teach at night.  Of course, I rarely see my husband, and that's a pitfall...like my neighbor Alan so bluntly stated, "I hope you guys don't get divorced or anything!"  Me too, Alan....me, too...

I don't imagine us ever getting divorced. We respect each other a whole bunch and do what we have to do for our little family.  And I think that's what makes something work.  But what the hell do I know?  Someone in our life who has been married for 25 years just announced to us that they're separating.  These people seemed so in  love.  Crap, they TOLD us they were so in love...just a few short years ago at our wedding, they "hoped we would still be THIS in love 22 years later!"  And in less than 3 years, what...fallen out of love?  I find it confusing.  And scary.  I feel like....if it can happen to them, it can probably happen to anybody.  But I choose to live in the moment and not cave under the fear.

Speaking of fear...

So having a baby creates a whole new world of fear, doesn't it, kids?  Those of you with them, know, I'm sure.  I'm already scared about her going off to school and having people pick on her...I see cars running stop lights and get scared one is going to run one into ME while that baby is in the car...is she too hot? Too cold? Hungry?  I'm pretty laid back, but still.  College scares the shit out of me.  There will most likely be boys there.

I've had the urge to make lists and I think it's because my brain doesn't work right anymore.  If you've had a baby, ever, then you know of what I speak.

Here's a list of things I want to buy because we need some of them.  And some of them, I just want:

Sofa.    Smartphone to replace my semi-stupid phone.  Computer.  Mattress.  Area rug for both bedrooms.   Clothes that fit and make me feel like I might be cute still.  Haircut.  Shoes that don't hurt my feet.  Plane tickets to tropical location.

The list was longer once.  About an hour ago when I could remember the other stuff I wanted.  But everything costs money and at the moment we need to do things like save for said child's education, etc. 

One of these days I'll write about the birth.  Or tell an interesting story from this other life I used to have.  But for now, I just wanted to say hi and see how everyone is doing.  So, how are you doing?

Friday, February 18, 2011

So, where's that baby???

At present, I am pregnant.  I mean, really, really five-days-past-my-due-date pregnant.  And if you've ever been in my shoes, you know the discomfort of this and perhaps the anxiety.  It's a good thing I only have residue of the control issues I used to have in my life because this would be even more challenging than it is already.  This, I've come to realize, is way beyond me.

 I suppose it's a good problem to have, but I have countless people in my life who give a crap and want to know how I'm doing.  It's all very well-intentioned, but if one more person asks me, "so, where's that baby?"  I may cry.  I control my sarcasm because these are people I love I'm talking to...but that baby is exactly where it's been for the last nine months.  Snug and warm in my enormous uterus.  I've told people I'll be sending out a text message when she gets here, but the many texts, phone calls, facebook messages and emails haven't stopped.  This, creates more anxiety.  (And if you're one of the people who has been asking, this post is not to make you feel bad, but just to talk about my own anxiety over the situation! Thanks for loving me as you do...)  Whilst not one of them is insinuating I'm failing at something, there's something in me that says I'm failing at this.  That my "plan" wasn't....planney enough and therefore isn't happening.  Or that I should have more control over this thing that I don't.   As it stands, and perhaps you remember, I wanted a home birth and wasn't able to get that.  We just couldn't find someone we could affford (and honestly, now that she may be late and require induction or c-section, I'm sort of happy about that. I don't think midwives give you a refund! Hey, everything happens for a reason!)  As a digression and update to that point, I found a doctor I love and am happy with the hospital we'll be at...after finally being able to change insurance companies during open-enrollment...

Yeah, so there have been countless things beyond my control during this process and I have to continually remind myself it is SO not about me.  Eating enough, gaining 40 pounds, 5 different blood draws, 300 times peeing in a cup, a brief hospital stay, 2 months of no-work bed rest...all of these things were beyond my control and the first things I did for my child. And that's ok.  Waiting past my due date and potentially not having the airy-fairy natural birth I envisioned are and may be, now on my list of things.  There will be bigger things on the list as the years go by, I am certain.  And that's the other thing I need reminding of: this is just the beginning; a drop in the parental bucket.  This is probably the briefest of things, this waiting beyond the anticipated due date.  There will be childcare and doctor's visits and school and high school and college and who-knows-what.  If anything, I think often that while I'm done being pregnant, at the same time, this is the safest I will ever be able to keep her. I know where she is, what she's eating...who she's hanging out with 24/7.  

 Anyway, this whole thing is so enormous to me, this having a child.  It is amazing to me that people go into it on a whim...or that teenagers will often do it on purpose.  I feel at 36, I am still questioning if I will ever be ready to be someone's mother...and the answer better be yes because I'm on the train and it's next stop is motherhood, yo.

(That's me at 35 weeks....yep, I've gotten bigger!)