Friday, June 24, 2011

Goodnight, my friend.

I don't think I've mentioned my maternal grandfather in this blog.  He was, and still is even though he is now gone, one of the most loved, respected and utterly adored individuals from my life.  We were very much alike in personality, but his was just better in every way.  Nevertheless, he understood me, always, even when no one else even tried to pretend to.

I must have been five or six when we had the conversation that has been running through  my mind all day.  I remember his mannerisms, voice and gentle  pat on the back as he said to me,  "Animals are better than people any day of the week.  People judge you, sometimes unfairly and harshly, we all do it.  Your dog, however, will always be happy to see you.  They don't care if you've done or said something awful, if you got a bad haircut and can't make it lay flat, or if you're just hard to be around.  They love you.  No one can give you what a dog can. It's a valuable thing to understand, never be without a dog in your life.  They will give you more than you could ever imagine."  He was right, which is not surprising, as he was right about almost everything he ever said.

I grew up with dogs and have really never been without one in the home.  Today is the day that changes that.  I lost my dearest friend Zeus last June, it left a horrible gaping hole in my heart.  My Chloe remained, but she was already in the twilight of her life.  I adopted her six years ago as a senior, she was nine, so I obviously knew what I was signing up for.  Over the past two years or so she has acquired a plethora of health issues… heart murmur, Cushing's disease, dementia, she is almost blind, cannot hear much at all and lost most of her hair.   Nevertheless, she has been relatively happy and comfortable… content to sleep and eat and go outside to let the wind blow in her face and walk a bit.

I was advised last month that it was probably time to euthanize.  Still somewhat traumatized from the bad experience last summer, I've put it off, justifying my selfish decisions when she had a particularly good day.  I've been caring for senior dogs for so long that I also somewhat forgot what active, healthy and happy dogs really act like, but I was reminded of it when I had my mother's dog visit for the past week.  The comparison was so startling that it really threw everything into perspective.  Dogs live in the moment, my dog was just reluctantly existing at best.   How blind I've been!  This realization came at the same time that Chloe's health took a turn for the worse in the past 48 hours, and I could no longer in good conscience put off the inevitable.

I feel selfish, guilty and stupid.  I feel terrible for every time I've allowed myself to be frustrated with the ever increasing amount of work her conditions have required in the past year.   I haven't wanted to let go, but had to ignore her poor quality of life to do it.  Even yesterday when I called to make the appointment, I chose a later time today,  thinking that I could devote my day giving her attention and spending my time with her for just a bit longer.  The reason I'm writing now instead of doing that is because she does not want interaction.  She is uncomfortable being held and turns her back to me in her bed and just wants to sleep.  Now I sit, watch the clock and wait as my stomach twists in grief and my chest feels like I have a load of bricks on it.  The moments tick by so slowly that it's making me slightly crazy.

I'm sad and don't know what to do with it, so here I am, purging some of it from my head and heart.  I will always be grateful that she has been a part of my life and am still trying to work out exactly how to let her go.  She has given me far more than I gave her, in retrospect.  I know when I come home tonight without her, there is no more guarantee that anyone will be happy to see me when I walk through the door.  She has loved me every day, and that is a huge feat, because any person will tell you that I make that pretty hard to do sometimes.  All I can do now is hold her when the time comes and say 'thank you', while I try to remember that the last gift of love I can give her is to let her leave us with a modicum of dignity and peace.

She has been my friend, and it's only appropriate to pay homage to someone so good and loyal when the time comes.  So to my Chloe, sleep peacefully.  I love you so much.  I will miss you every day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The List

Sometimes I feel that I make life extremely difficult by just being me, but I have no choice.  You can change how you act, but you can't change who you are.

I've been in a very cranky mood for many days now.  Actually, I wake up fine, feel fine, live my life, and then somewhere along the way someone comes along and pisses me off.  I have been horrible about letting things get to me lately, though I've never been good with letting things roll off my back.  I react, I become upset, I feel too much.  It's an awful affliction, and if you don't share it, you probably don't get how badly it sucks most of the time.   The highs are incredible, but the lows ruin your day every time.

I've never been good at tolerating the shortcomings of others.  This is not because I think I'm better than they are (well, sometimes it is), but because I simply can't take certain things. (Ironically, this is seen as a serious character flaw to many others.)  I admittedly have too many deal breakers.  I suspect part of this is due to the fact that I grew up in a family and culture where it was not odd to hear someone scream, 'YOU'RE DEAD TO ME!!!', at least five times a year for any degree of issue.   Anyway, it's caused me much loneliness in my life, but age has taught me to be forgiving and tolerant of a person's _______ (insert relevant attribute here), so long as the good outweighs the bad.  Learning how to do that has made it possible for me to have a small number of lasting relationships.  I really don't need, or even want, more.

I'm a keen observer.  I watch people, I read how they react to situations, to me, to anything.  I'm aware.  I know how to take social cues and when to back off.  I make it a point to identify a person's level of comfort and their boundaries and I tread on the right side of those.  Seems like it's a dying practice.  I'm just going to break some of it down.

* Crossing the line.  Relationships have boundaries, all of them.  Not understanding what sort of relationship you have with another person, and then saying or doing something inappropriate is a no no.  Don't give advice unless someone seeks it out.  Don't be TOO FAMILIAR.   You have no idea how many times in a week something flies out of someone's mouth that inspires me to want to scream, "Back the fuck up, you don't know me like that!"   Of course, I realize that my habit of holding folks at arm's length dissuades good people from making the moves to get to know me better, I've even heard that I'm seemingly inaccessible and uninterested, so folks don't bother because of it.  Does that bum me out?  Sure it does, but I don't know how to change it.  Better alone and in peace than throwing the door open and having a headache that lasts a lifetime.

* Not getting the hint.   It all goes back to social cues.  I am no enigma.  My demeanor, tone and actual words used say it all.  You'd have to be a total imbecile to not get when I want to be left alone… when I don't want to take the relationship to the next level, but yet it seems to be a constant problem.  I need space, I need alone time, I need breaks from just about everyone I know.  If I self impose seclusion, it's for a reason.   If I don't answer 1-3 texts in a row within a fifteen minute window, maybe it would be a good idea to stop sending them.   If I turn down dinner repeatedly, chances are I don't want to go.  Sorry, but it's true.   The flip side is, if I ever genuinely reach out, people know I mean it.  Surely there has to be something valuable in that.

*Inserting an entire damn leg, instead of a mere foot.  Look, I say stupid shit, everyone does.  Thing is, I tend to know when I've messed up.  At that point, I do what is necessary to rectify the situation if I'm so inclined.  Sometimes it calls for eating a slice of humble  pie and apologizing sincerely (which I do often and with no problem).   Other times it's knowing when it's best to just shut up and go away for a spell.  NEVER is it wise to just keep flapping your jaws as someone is standing with their ears turning purple and about an inch away from ripping your head clean off your neck… all the while pretending it didn't happen.   Well, it's not wise if you care about your relationship, we're not talking about pissing strangers off.

I could go on forever.  After years of writing people off for next to no reason, over time I have developed a system. Call me a narcissist, I really don't care.   As I stated, I'm working on letting go of the small stuff, lest I find myself old and totally alone.  Transgressions made that I label 'moderate to serious' and I make a mental note.  Another one and you are officially flagged in my brain.   It only takes one more for you to make THE LIST.   Many an individual has made THE LIST, but very few have every come off of it.  There is no redemption at that point.  It's over.  THE LIST is extensive, and lots of folks never even realize they made their way there, especially if I must interact with them on a professional level that keeps me from freezing them out completely.    Of course, there is a particular group of actions that require no process in my brain, they are met with immediate removal from my life.  Cut off, done… no conversation, no looking back.  Straight to THE LIST.    The system works for me.  I'm ok with it.   Matter of fact, the only time I ever really suffer is when I try to give people chances so they don't end up on THE LIST.   (Note to self:  Stop doing that.)

Part of me feels like I'm coming across like a real asshole with this one, but it's not like any of you think I'm some sort of sugary sweet person anyway (if you DO see me that way, congratulations, you saw past the rest of it).  It's been brought to my attention that lots of folks, many of which I call friends, see me as a 'bitch'.  I guess that is fine.  I don't particularly think that because I say what needs to be said makes me deserving of that moniker, but my feelings aren't all that hurt.  I've been called worse, you know.

There you have it.  Rant officially over.  I think I may feel better.  And isn't that what blogging is all about?  It is for me.

Monday, June 13, 2011

100 Greatest Movie Threats of All Time

The title sort of speaks for itself, doesn't it?  Saw this earlier today.  Why it tickled me pink, I'm not sure, but there are some great movie clips in this and some truly classic lines peppered into it.

If you're offended by foul language, don't watch it.  As a matter of fact, you probably shouldn't be reading this blog at all.   I have a very unladylike mouth, and while it's worse in person, it does make its way here.

Why is it not surprising that Joe Pesci seems to make up 30% of these clips?  Hope you enjoy the eleven solid minutes of vulgarity as much as I did.  I do so love a good, nasty threat.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Just your average Sunday

Our A/C broke yesterday evening.  This is like the fifteenth day in the city with temperatures above 90 degrees…. which is not completely abnormal for Atlanta in the summer, but we don't typically hit that stride for at least another six weeks or so.  I was not so bothered by it when it initially crapped out.  I'm cold natured and it was dark, so the temperature outside was cooling and it helped keep the house tolerable.

I have lamented the fact that the cat will not cuddle with me for months now.  I woke up in the middle of the night to find her laying across my body with a smug look on her face.  For fuck's sake, NOW she wants to be close?  I was dripping sweat and she was pretending to be the highest quality mink wrap.  I cursed all night, and kept waking up to her sprawled all over me in various positions, I swear I heard her evil voice giggle once or twice.

Needless to say, when I got up this morning I was in a right horrible mood.  The higher the sun got, the more intolerable the house was becoming, so I threw on my gym clothes and decided that if I was going to sweat, at least it should be while burning calories in a climate controlled environment.   Plus, I'm having serious fitness issues right now and am teetering on the brink of giving up altogether on this whole attempt to keep things high and tight.  I keep threatening to cancel my gym membership, give up the trainer and invest that money into some muumuus, a Lay-Z-Boy recliner and cake.  Lots of it.  I'm struggling with being everyone else's support system and cheerleader while I spend so much time doing my damnedest to self motivate all alone.   But that is a post for another day.

I put in my fifty minutes of horrible cardio and finally decided to get off the death machines and finish up in the boxing room at the gym.  I've got a lot of pent up aggression and frustration going on so I figured that kicking some bags would help blow off steam.    I walked in and saw an elderly but relatively fit man absolutely wailing on one of the heavy bags.  He was packing some heat, let me tell you.  We nodded to one another, I went to the other side of the room and started some side kicks, roundhouses and jumping rope in between.

I could see him watching me through the mirror, which doesn't particularly bother me.  After all, you don't see many women in there (and not to toot my own horn, but most can't kick you in the head either… I'm short, but I'm flexible and have deceivingly long limbs).   Anyway, I stopped to catch my breath and he sat down to remove his gloves.   He struck up conversation, asking me if I did it as a sport or just for exercise.  I told him I have a trainer and that I really enjoy it, but obviously I don't get in a cage with anyone.    He nodded knowingly and the floodgates opened.

Turns out this man is a sixty eight year old Vietnam era Army Ranger.   He spent the next thirty minutes demonstrating to me how my technique could hurt someone if I got lucky, but given my size, it would be beneficial to learn how to totally incapacitate or just flat out kill a man if I needed to in a real life defense situation.   After all, he reasoned,  I'm a very small woman, and if I don't seriously injure an aggressor in the first few strikes, I'm dead myself.  Since this is obviously true and deep down I've always had fantasies of being a lethal weapon, I was a willing student. (Besides, I have a soft spot for the older set, they have better and more interesting things to say than most anyone else.)  He wowed me with some incredible pointers in which I could take what I knew, skew it just a bit and hurt someone twice my size badly.

At one point, a ponytailed housewife entered the room with her yoga mat as he had me pinned down on the ground saying, "If you're lucky enough to actually drop them after that throat shot, you kick them here with your toe leading and they'll probably die.  Sure, you'll limp away and be hurt yourself, but you live to tell the tale."  She turned around and high tailed it out of that room so fast that we both started guffawing over the timing of the situation.

Before I knew it, a pretty long time had passed.  He had finished his impromptu lesson and we had moved on to just sitting on the floor discussing the military, his war stories (he and my father had done tours in Vietnam in the same years, and he even kindly refrained from slamming Marines for me), to shotguns vs. handguns for home protection, to basically the difference between young men today and young men fifty years ago.  I really did enjoy every minute of it.  It's been the best conversation I've had in months.

He then turned to me and said, "It's been fun giving out pointers, and you've done a nice thing by allowing me to be helpful and by listening to me.  I've tried to teach some things to my daughters, but they lack… how do I say… the tenacity to be able to use any of my skills.  It's pretty clear that you're different.  Maybe I'll see you around again some day.   Tell your father that I said  Welcome Home."  

With that, he proclaimed that he was going to run a few miles and left.  I drove home with a small grin on my face from the whole encounter.  He really made my day, and I don't even know his name.  

Monday, June 6, 2011

Five Years

I was tooling around today, basically living my life as usual when I looked at my phone to read a text message.   The date on my screen hit me like a splash of cold water.

Five years ago today I was in Los Angeles having a great life experience.  I made the trip alone and flew back home a changed person….for the better.   I saw people I'd been dying to hang out with in person (the internet is great, but no replacement for face time), and met others that I bonded with instantly.  Some of those people became instant parts of my life, others that I met wouldn't become dear and close to my heart for some time to come.  Five years ago today was when it all started in so many ways.

So, to all of you who were there (I know some of you reading will fit the bill), I raise my glass to you.  You were part of a magical experience and I hope you remember it as fondly as I do.   That trip gave me many treasured gifts.  It propelled me forward, made me challenge myself, inspired me and I got my first dose of the heady buzz that comes along with such connections.     Not often are we lucky enough to be in a room full of like minds, great company and electric energy.  I'll carry it with me forever…. the magic, the people, the feelings and the memories.

I miss a number of you, maybe we'll all meet again one day.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Ever get hit with a memory out of nowhere?   Yeah, it happens a lot to me, too.  I probably shouldn't refer to this particular case as a 'flashback', since it's not recollection of psychological trauma or anything, but whatever.  It still works as a title.

I sometimes feel like I have a pretty strange brain, but since I'm not one to carry the delusion of being a super mutant form of human, I'm almost convinced that it's just like most everyone else's.  I remember certain times, events and facts from long ago as if they were a photograph that I see when I close my eyes.  Strange memories that don't seem to hold a lot of meaning, but there they are, claiming precious space in my head.  Really, though, sometimes I can't recall what I ate for breakfast yesterday.  I remember the names of very few people in high school, but remember loads from second grade.  No rhyme or reason, just what sticks, I suppose.

We were driving in the car from running errands today and I was torturing Husband by singing very loudly to an 80's hair band song.  It's a terrible song, but it makes me happy due to the attachment of good times that's associated with the era.   Then, out of the blue, I remembered another song that I absolutely adored.  I'd forgotten it even existed for many years and hadn't heard it in ages, but there I was,  mouthing the words as if it were playing out loud.

So I raced home and went straight to look it up on YouTube, thinking that hearing it would make me remember what made me love it so much.  After all, it owned my heart at about eleven (maybe early twelve) years of age, and it's a strange tune for a kid at that age and time period to love. (This is not entirely surprising, I was a pretty odd child)    I anticipated hating it and saying to myself, "You were a freak, what the hell were you thinking??", but after listening to it again, I totally get why I loved those lyrics.  Gosh, there are big parts of me that haven't really changed that much deep down inside.  I like that, it makes me smile.  

I was transported to being that kid who sang along to those lyrics with feeling and was just sure that she knew exactly what they meant (after all, I was eleven going on thirty-nine).  Who knows, just maybe I did…. who am I to judge Little Me?   I suppose it really doesn't matter now one way or the other.   Some things just are.  They don't have to mean anything or make sense…. believe me, that's been a doozy of a concept to wrap my brain around my entire life.  I'm still working on grasping that one.

So, I'd pretty much be an asshole for not posting the song now after all of that… but it did cross my mind to refrain from doing so.   You may wish I had, as general opinion of it here at home have been,  "JESUS, I HATE THAT SONG!  WHY THE HELL ARE YOU PLAYING THAT SHIT??"
But I don't care.  Nope, I'll just play it again.    Really, never let me know you are annoyed by something I'm thoroughly enjoying, I'll never stop doing it just to pay you back for trying to rain on my parade.

Happy Saturday, folks.  Here's some Supertramp.  Take it.