The End of Terminal Uniqueness

where I go when my brain starts to freak out

where I go when my brain starts to freak out

Tomorrow morning, I’ll run my first half marathon. Something that thousands and thousands of other people have done.  I will be a part of a team, running for several reasons, all combined into one event.  I will be a part “of,” yet running is also one of the most solitary and personal things I’ve ever done.  Not personal as in private– it’s very public actually– as I plod down the streets in my town night after night. But personal as in learning things about myself I never would have allowed before.

When I was trying to “be a runner” years ago, I had many obstacles I had created myself, that prevented me from becoming so.   I would sign up for 5k’s, full of good intentions,  then not prepare for them… and not run them. I stopped telling people I was even trying, because I no longer wanted to admit I hadn’t actually followed through. So when I began something different that included a new way of running, about a year ago, I hesitated to share that I was running in a Thanksgiving Day race.  I figured I’d rather tell people after; that if I told people before, it might not happen.

At a school orientation I was at recently, we were asked to go around and introduce ourselves, say what had led us to be sitting there that night, and one interesting or unexpected thing about ourselves. Quickly realizing I was to go third from the end of the group, I knew I had some time to think.

I sat quietly, smiling, listening to everyone talk about their chosen “thing” they deemed “fun” or  “interesting” about themselves, yet appropriate enough to mention with a cohort of adult students that they’d be spending the next nine months with.  Really, the key was not to scare my classmates off– I knew group work was inevitable, and certain “fun facts” would have a self-pariahing effect, I was sure.  I raced through the filing cabinets of my mind. I thought of old information, outdated trivia about myself, or overused. And a lot of things that I wouldn’t (shouldn’t) mention.  I usually have an 80’s sitcom theme running through my head. I once caught a thief  with my bare hands.  Sometimes  it looks like I’m concentrating but I’m really deciding  whether or not I’d kiss you. I once went a really long time without showering. My dogs sleep on my bed with me. I talk to my plants.  I love photographs of abandoned places. I have been known to stockpile products that are expired.

So yeah. I decided that my best option was the mention the ½ marathon.

Some people mentioned former jobs they’d had, planes they had flown, artistic forms they had mastered, such as calligraphy or scrapbooking.  Others mentioned socially acceptable topics such as children, former careers, or sports-related interests.

But it was the man sitting two down from me, the only one, in fact, who’d made small talk with me before the start of the evening, who boldly announced that, this past year, just before his 50th birthday, that he’d run his first marathon.  As in, FULL marathon.  All 26.2 miles.

Everyone gasped. They ooh and ahhed appropriately: a marathon? How long is that? 26 miles right? Running?  Wow, that’s amazing.  

I felt the Kermit-face come over me, I felt like my big unique story, that thing that was gonna make me “me” had just been reduced by…exactly half…before I could even tell it! DAMMIT.

So there I had it– everyone’s first impression of me would be “the girl at the end of the table who only was training– not even completed, a HALF marathon!” Mine was still in the future; his was accomplished.  His glory HAD existed already.  He had bragging rights.  All I had was my claim to my plan.

And so I claimed my plan.  I got some laughs and all smiles when I told my Interesting Thing, in light  of the other guy’s story.  In fact, many were kind, even approaching me afterwards, offering words of encouragement, as did the marathoner.  So many things can bring people together, total strangers, who sit in a room for an hour and learn about their possibilities and connections.

As for today and tomorrow, it’s much like the race.  No matter what crazy thoughts are bursting from my brain, I will and can only do one thing at a time, moving forward with the next step and part of the trip. I’m neither greater than or less than anyone else; neither more special or more plain, I’m just another runner. I need to remember I am only a participant in something that is much bigger than me.  And that is really amazing.

feet go here

feet go here

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Posted in gratitude, I willingly got myself into this, running, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

soap in my coffee

damn you

damn you

I have a dry erase board on my refrigerator, which is intended to be a place for me to write down great ideas when they spontaneously come to me during the mundane times of life.  What is actually on my dry erase board is a scribble of quotes from Laverne & Shirley, payment confirmation numbers of bills I’ve paid by phone, pieces of ideas that don’t make a hell of a lot of sense, and names of people I want to “look into” such as the guy I just googled and realized he’s a real estate developer and philanthropist-turned tax evader and witness-tamperer.  (Why did I need to know about him?)  So my dry-erase board is not the hub of creativity I thought it would be.  However, between the bits of information and the numbers, there are a couple “starts” to things, as it were. One line reads “soap in my coffee.”  One of my top sensory fears in life.  Like fingernails screeching down a chalkboard (something we’ll only read about in books someday) the idea of drinking something out of a glass that has soap still in it is hideous and awful to me.  I don’t know why this weird fear began, but somewhere along my awkward road of adulthood, I read or heard that soap could make you stomach sick.  I also noticed that sometimes when you pour coffee into a mug, there is a little foaming on top.  That “foaming” bubbly thing should disappear after a few seconds.  If it doesn’t, there could be soap that was leftover in the mug, and that soap is something you could be ingesting! Oh the horror.  For some reason this became something I began looking for.  In diners, in restaurants.  What if my mug was the only mug that didn’t get properly rinsed!?

This is the part where you think, princess needs a hobby or a job.  Well thank you I have both.  Anyway, this dumb thing  was enough to cause me to write it on the dry-erase board, and bring it up several times to friends. And I’ve never sent a soapy cup of coffee back in a restaurant.*

Usually people who have been through some real troubles in life and have arrived at a point of some perspective can laugh about “luxury problems.”  The term can encompass many things on the spectrum of problems that, when you really think about it, aren’t that bad.  People might have trouble choosing a vacation spot, or perhaps they are having trouble with their maid service, or maybe their sunroof on their car doesn’t open properly.  When compared with real problems, we know the ones above seem silly, and the realization can make us feel a little small.

I had to laugh when I shot soap into my coffee earlier this summer.  Yes, “shot soap” into my coffee.  I buy this stupid organic blah blah glycerin natural whatever hand soap.  And I’m never buying this brand again.  You know that little hardened blob that forms at the end of a lotion or soap pump?  Well this hardened blob is the peskiest I’ve ever encountered.  It almost completely blocks the soap, so when you push the pump, the soap flies one of several directions, all of which are NOT your hand: my eye (twice), my clothes (several times), and alas, STRAIGHT into my cup of coffee earlier this summer.  It happened so fast I couldn’t believe it.  And I stood there, and I thought, today’s the day I’ve squirted soap into my perfect cup of coffee.  I tried to “fish it out” buuuut soap doesn’t work that way.

Luxury problems.  Hardened blobs and flying soap.  If that’s the worst thing that happens in your morning, life is good.  What do I know? If that’s just the start to a really crappy day, life is still good.  Just get another cup of coffee.

*Ok I lied. I have.

 

Posted in gratitude, Uncategorized, unspoken, writing | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

waiting to be saved

I walk the dogs one of a few different routes each night in my neighborhood.  I’ve walked them both together, one at a time, with music, while on the phone, with a friend, but the one constant is the neighborhood. We occasionally go for hikes, but getting in the car and traveling to a destination for a walk is never as appealing to our short-attention-span minds, especially when we are facing some kind of urgency to “get a walk in” before whatever is coming next. “We” as in “I” of course, and more often than not, I’m running from one thing to the next; plain and simple, I feel guilty about making Grace and Levi wait all day for a quality jaunt.

Lately I’ve walked the dogs mostly in the quiet rather than blasting myself with some “remove me from this place” music selection or nerdy podcast to try to better myself with every waking available moment.  I don’t need to be constantly learning about world religions, grammar oddities, or the newest track from a Dutch trance DJ. I’ve existed in time periods where I could not and would not deal with silence.  I’m grateful that now isn’t one of them.

I love houses.  Maybe in the same way you love houses–if you do–maybe differently.  Each day, I pass by the same houses, but I never get tired of looking at them. Sometimes I think about historic architectural details, wondering if I were to be quizzed on column types or masonry stones, how high would I score? Sometimes I think about botched home improvement jobs that mar the facades: shitty vinyl siding slapped indecently on a late 19th century Victorian, mismatched windows that cry “lazy landlord,” cement blocks in places no one ever imagined a cement block…would be useful. That is until time and money ran short, and a porch teetered on the brink of collapse. But mostly I think about people. And fingerprints on windowsills, and marks on walls.  I think about the writing on the attic wall of my house that I had the privilege to see before I paid to have it it covered with insulation. I wonder what writing is on the inner walls of these houses. I look at foundations to see if I can ascertain an age, wondering who the builders were, and what a house built in 1890 smelled like, new.

I could go on, and I probably will in the future.  Lots of these dog-walking thoughts I have are sad ones though. Some wistful, but more sad.  Because we humans like to dispose of things that aren’t shiny and new. And unfortunately, we aren’t even very good at the actual “disposal” part, so we do the next best thing: abandonment. I like to see something get a good “use” out of it.  An old car, still running and cared for. My friend who still has that flip phone. The vacuum cleaner my mother had for 26 years. So I don’t automatically chagrin when I see an old home, rezoned and reconfigured to hold a 2- or 3-family unit for rent.  It’s not often to see it done particularly well, at least in this area, and I’ve never seen a home used for that purpose whose current owners took the resources to renovate or restore a home to its original characteristics of its original time period.  I know, that’s crazytalk. And being as involved in old homes, the business of rental properties, and, well, reality as I am, I know that it’s natural for these houses’ purposes to change over time, as our needs and meanings do.

But I was the kid who personified everything. Sort of tragically. I felt bad for things I became somewhat attached to, that had to be given away or disposed of. Luckily, I was cared for and raised by Normal People who wouldn’t let me hold on to too many old pairs of shoes, cuttings of carpet or other pieces of utter garbage, and I managed to grow up into a somewhat well-adjusted person.  So it should come as no surprise that I can’t look at an old abandoned house without feeling a pang of sadness, and an ever-buoyant hope. And the dreaming/scheming part of my brain goes into “lottery mode,” the results of which would give the before-and-after photo industry a run for its money.

The photo below is a peek at one of my “if me and a bunch of money could get our hands on you…” houses.  I pass by it almost each night.  It’s really a homely thing, and difficult to imagine what the original story was, or its original footprint. It’s oddly shaped and there are jutting porches, badly built additions, and it’s all wrong-sized and off.  It’s hard to picture the thing ever looking functional, housing functioning people.  Instead, I view the suffering and decomposing house, cowering behind its overgrown foliage.  It’s not really the house I feel bad for.  It’s the abandoned intentions of its owners. And the fickleness and hurried ways of us humans. Purposeless, we are like abandoned houses. A little bit lost and a lot waiting.

sad house, hiding.

sad house, hiding.

Posted in abandoned but not forgotten, fun with homeownership, gratitude, neighbors | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

guzzling herbal tea: embracing the hell out of simplicity

oh hi.

I have an ongoing list of things I love and things I don’t like, and one of the things I’ve claimed to have hated since I was very young was being told to calm down.  The way I used to justify it was, if I’m on fire or something very big and catastrophic is happening, and I’m flipping out, sure, tell me to calm down.  But don’t do it for anything. Just don’t.  You don’t need a degree to look five minutes into my life and childhood to see why this kind of expression became a “thing” for me.  However, there IS, for those of you who’ve been following me around videotaping my life lately (you know you’re out there), as previously mentioned earlier this week and earlier in the year, a time and a place for most things.  Solomon was onto something.

Sometimes my coworkers and I are able to ride on the coattails of a “Special Lunch” being delivered for some meeting for Important Folks, and I was pleased to remember recently one night that I did not have to prepare a lunch for the following day, that one was coming to me– being brought my way without an ounce of effort of a dime paid.  But alas, there is a price, albeit small perhaps, for everything: On this recent day I learned  and this lunch’s price was that it was not coming until 12:30. Using the fact that I work at a school as an excuse, I tend to eat a late breakfast and an early lunch. Yes, which makes no sense.   So I began to worry, as we do, when we have nothing really else to worry about– we find something about which to fret.  Man, was I hungry.  How was I going to make it until 12:30 when it was only 10:50 when I had this realization?!  Furthermore, I had done enough coffee for the (that part of the) day.  I needed something.  I know–an herbal tea.  Stat. Code lavender!

I pawed around my desk, looking for my tea stash. Found it. I chose “Calm” one of the Yogi teas. Then I dropped the thing dry, on the floor.  Dammit.  Five second rule. I like to think that I sort of become “one” with the places I inhabit. I spend enough time here that I should be able to eat off the floor and be fine, right? Maybe. Not…   I did decide though, since I enjoy making fun of things pretty much constantly, or making parodies of situations, that I’d like to name a nice herbal tea “Calm the #$&*%@ Down.”

And…then I do what I often do at work. I worked. I got into my conversations with students. I made notes. I talked. I wrote things down. I made jokes. I encouraged and explained. I recorded my work. Then I looked at my tea: lukewarm and cooling faster than hot chocolate in a dixie cup at a football game.  I found myself downing the stuff.  Guzzling herbal tea?  Like it’s Gatorade after a big game?  Could anything be more inappropriate? (Yes! Many things, it turns out!)

Certain things are like this.  We have the right idea, or good intentions, but we sort of mess things up.  Some herbal teas are good, purposely iced, but lukewarm really doesn’t bring out the best of anything (or in anyone, for that matter).

Here’s what I’m saying: I may have replaced certain things in my life with better things, such as herbal tea and running, but if I’m guzzling the shit out of my herbal tea, I’ve missed the whole point.  What to do?  Being mindful and purposeful. Setting aside time for certain things, and not letting other tasks invade that space.  I’ve gotten better about doing this with sleep and relaxing at night.  But I still have that “doing something to please others even when it could harm my plan for the next several hours” thing that lingers.  Ugh.  Oh wait, it’s because I’m human. I forget sometimes.

Posted in tea, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Contagion heuristic

Contagion heuristic, a.k.a., Banana Wuz Here

blurry beauty in odd spots
blurry beauty in odd spots

In third grade, I read a list of Old Wives Tales in my family’s copy of the current Farmer’s Almanac that resided in our downstairs bathroom.  The almanac fed my desire for short bursts of useless information, and, unfortunately, the old wives tales fed my growing concern of Things to Worry About, that was not without the tinge of superstition.  One of the legends read that if you watch a person leave, as in walk completely out of sight, disappearing into the distance, you will never see that person again.  I imagined this to have first taken place in some 19th century countryside, some place with rolling hills or moors or some shit. But if it was still true, then, in 1987, I’d need to be very careful watching my loved ones disappear down Williams Road.

Well.  I did not take kindly to that portent at all. Being the youngest by many years of four kids, I had plenty of occasions to witness people leaving. And as I tearfully watched my sister or brothers leave the driveway from my bedroom window, (which I dramatically and often did) I began to make damn sure I never actually SAW THEM AS THEY DISAPPEARED FROM SIGHT. What if my watching them made them disappear? Could I hold that power?  I was afraid to test it, so I just went with it.* For a kid who already had to wear glasses, had been to one funeral, and had seen Poltergeist the year prior, I had enough on my plate.

Here is where proximity and this fear meet:  what killed me was– take saying goodbyes, for example. The moment you said goodbye to a person, then turned and walked away, you would also be walking away from that moment. And right then–when?-THEN–Right then, you’d never be as close to that moment ever again.  And from then on, it would disappear.

And I’ve returned to this subject of proximity lately. What we learn from being around other people, and levels of closeness.  I find it interesting how close and how far we can be from each other at the same time.  When I was little, I never wanted anyone I loved to leave.  That’s an easy one, who couldn’t identify with that?  But sometime around third grade, I began to worry.  A number of things happened the year I read The Farmer’s Almanac: I discovered music on the radio, my neighbor’s house caught on fire, I stopped sleeping well, and I began to realize what I could have one moment could be gone the next.

My struggle with an appropriate segue will probably mirror my readers’ struggle with this post. It might even seem like I’m trying to synthesize things that should be left alone.  Think of it as discussion topics, or writing prompts.  If I did cute things, I’d insert smiley face here.

1) the hand touching hand phenomenon.  No, not Neil Diamond’s hands…touching hands… version.**  This concept, also known as “the boy / girl / individual who I am in love with just touched my hand / cheek / other body part and I will never wash this spot again!” OK, it did not sound that gross in my mind, I swear. But seriously.  Who doesn’t remember being in school, maybe standing in line, and you get to stand next to the person you like? And maybe he bumps into you and you’re all ooooh. Or you stole the pencil from the boy you liked, and his notebook when he wasn’t looking, so you could do a 6th grade handwriting analysis to find out if he liked you back…oh, you didn’t do that?

When I saw Archie Bunker’s chair– Archie Bunker sat in THIS CHAIR?  It actually meant very little to me, because i was six years old and did not really know who “archie bunker” was, but I was at the Smithsonian and was surrounded, as usual, by adults, who I emulated, so I responded with appropriate awe and laud.  In the years that followed, I saw more of these situations that meant more to me, moved me more.  Like the first time you see a celebrity in person.  I actually have a knack for missing famous people, like being the one person in my group who doesn’t see [insert famous person here] who JUST PASSED BY in a crowd.  Most recently, I apparently missed a Hulk Hogan sighting in 2009*** in Miami.  Damn.  But I did go to many concerts from high school on, and I basked in the glory that was sharing the same breathing space three feet away from Ani DiFranco or years later, marveling that my naked eyeballs looked right into Trey Anastasio’s eyeballs, that all the distance, time, and social barriers that separate Talent from Fan were removed– for those brief moments.

2) “the moon above me this morning on the way to work is the same moon that was above…” Julius Caesar, Laura Ingalls Wilder, me when I was 15… famous people, not famous people–that thing.  The same moon??!!  The moon from the book YOU WILL GO  TO THE MOON copyright 1959**** and the one that’s in all those old science fiction movies?  Knowing not much about the moon, other than what it’s made of, this always made me feel closer to people. If we’re many miles or decades or even lifetimes apart, but we both looked at the same thing, it sort of connects us, doesn’t it?

3) the “you kiss your mother with that mouth?” phenomenon. I actually looked this phrase up for a couple reasons.  First of all, I wondered how “official” it was.  You know, like it was originally coined in a TV show or maybe an old radio show or something. (No, it’s just an idiom.) The idea being, of course, that the words coming from a person’s mouth are so vulgar, the listener is horrified and can’t possibly believe something so bad could come out of something that’s also been involved in such innocent or good things.  OK this one’s a land mine; moving on.

4) the “while I was gazing into your eyes, you were actually plotting a bank robbery?” / aka 500 Days of Summer effect. I didn’t love that movie but it was important enough for me to reference it here. Two people gazing at the same thing, even, each other, thinking drastically different thoughts.  We all know there’s a world full of people pleasers out there. But sometimes you really think you “got” what was being communicated to you, and boy were you wrong. Always much more entertaining when it happens to someone else!

It all comes down to the contagion heuristic.

which is what? a psychological heuristic (rule people use to make judgements) leading people to avoid contact with people or objects viewed as “contaminated” by previous contact with someone or something viewed as bad—or, less often, to seek contact with objects that have been in contact with people or things considered good. (wikipedia, yes.)

For years I’ve been searching for this term. Turns out if I had not been so REPELLED by psychology 101 and sociology 101 (OK that wasn’t fair I should leave poor sociology out of it. But sociology majors know where they can shove it! Just kidding about that too. Not really.)  which I thought were sort of cute and useless in college, I might have actually learned about this sooner.   Think:  you are young. You brought your lunch to school.  oooh, lunchtime can’t wait for lunch. What’s in the bag?  Peek.  All I smell is banana!  DAMMIT! When the dreaded banana contaminates ALLLLLL the rest of the lunch food in your sack.  How sad.  Memories of eating a soggy PB&J for lunch, the grape jelly having soaked through the bread, parts of the sandwich flat and nearly smooth from riding up against the heavy weight of fruit or LaYogurt on the way to school on the bumpy bus ride.  And all of it–the sandwich, the pretzel twists, the Oreos, even the outside of the juice box–smelling like banana.  Ahhhhhhhh!  It’s like the banana has some sort of resentment over all your other food, and won’t stop until it graffities the shit outta of the place, olfactory-style.

Pause here. crickets?

Sometimes, I speak around a large group of people, or a small group of people. Depends. And sometimes, when I am trying to describe something, I “hit the nail on the head” they say!  My words are powerful, and they hear me, and I get nodding, and “man, she said it!” looks.  Other times, people look at me as though I’ve said: “ni-ki-nunua nyama ya ng’ombe soko-ni, ni-ta-pika leo”***** and I think, damn:  This is like the blog entry that made a lot of sense in my head, that I waited two months to write, and now I may as well be speaking Swahili at the wrong party.

Happens. But boy, is this a weight off my shoulders.  I’m going to invest in one of those plastic “banana suitcases” for my lunch bag. Because sometimes a little separation is a good thing.

For those who love following bread crumb trails:

*I have found there’s actually a name for this: magical thinking. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking

**Sorry if I just made that song go into your brain.   You might be singing it the rest of the day now.  I’m not even a Neil Diamond fan.  (Shoutout: Hi Beth!) Here are a couple other songs that could distract you from “Sweet Caroline”

You could go all “Mack the Knife”– because Yes, that line forms on the right, babe, Now that Macky’s back in town …

Or you could think Cosby family celebration, 1985, doing Ray Charles’ “Night Time is the Right Time.” Think Rudy: “BABY!”

Or,  you could go with something more modern, say Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” part II remixed by Eric Prydz.  Think: all the words you know, then set to a stronger backbone of a beat. Might be a little upsetting to some of you, but it’ll get rid of whatever’s previously stuck in your head.

__________

****Yep. I said “most recently.” Nope, haven’t gotten out in a while.  Feel free to invite me on a trip. Feel free to also pay for my ticket. I am tremendous fun when traveling. I can provide references.

*****From a Swahili grammar lesson on the conditional: “If I buy cow meat at the market, I will cook it today.”  Right?

Posted in childhood, memory, ridiculous conversations, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

the meaning of morning

A few years ago* my best friend and I had some conversation about writing down our morning routines.  I think it was just for ourselves, something to write for each other.  Maybe I should have asked her before I post this entry, but I am pretty sure it was just an exercise in, “how our lives are sooo different” a subject that comes up…how to say this…a lot. And not just because I get up like, five hours before her each day.

what I see while this is happening

what I see while this is happening

The day begins with some alarms going off, some realizations, and idenifications (where I am, what just happened was a dream, and what day is it?) some running into the hallway and back, and two tails wagging, which on a bed, is this unique beating sound. Now here’s the part I don’t really want to write because yeah, I wake up to two Golden Retrievers, (heretofore referred to as “the Team”) both of whom would make the  most responsible person consider calling in sick. Inevitably some of you are thinking, ugh dogs on a bed, how unsanitary** / how strange / good for her but not for me / is that why she’s always covered in fur? But yeah.  It’s all true.

Yesterday morning was particularly disorganized for me and the team. This is despite my December 2012 Life Improvement of integrating the automatic coffee maker into my daily routine. Planning ahead? Never heard of it. When we clomp down the stairs together each morning, I announce that I made coffee in my sleep and we all get a good laugh.  Then I announce, much to Levi’s chagrin, that I still have not figured out how to prepare kibble breakfast in my sleep, but I’ll keep working on it.  It’s ok, he assures me, it’s about progress rather than perfection.  (Wise dog, huh? No, he just repeats things he hears.)

Usually when we go outside en masse, we have a sense of each other’s space and we stay together, moving somewhat fluidly and efficiently.  Other times, like yesterday, we bump into each other and the storm door, the leashes crisscross, one winding around my back while the other gets stuck under one of Grace’s or Levi’s legs in that awkward way.  I’m usually impressed by the dogs’ ability to stay with each other, but like people at an exhibit, they naturally wander to different attractions. This requires me to employ arm flexibility, poise, and balance, three things I don’t naturally have in the afternoons, let alone pre-dawn.

Outside, they both greet the cold air with enthusiasm. Then they each pause, typically, for their own set of reasons, such as (and get off my case as my tense shifts***):

Levi hears a noise in the distance and stops short just off the steps. He presses the side of his face against my sweatpanted thigh, assessing the possible danger.  He has no problem holding still with a full bladder, ears up in that funny dog-listenening way, willing to be still a few moments longer if it means his continued safety.  Grace is not interested in cuddling against my leg or philosophical musings: she is all about the business of taking care of business.  Her middle-aged dog lady attitude includes no shame or second thoughts about doing what needs to be done.

Yet while Grace has always been the more pragmatic of the two, mornings are still uncomfortable: for her to step off the dry path into cold wet grass is much like myself, moments earlier at 5:40AM, hesitating to embrace the inevitable move from horizontal to vertical.  More often than I’d like to admit, I indulge in the lazy torture that is the snooze button.  Grace’s reliance on patterns and instinct break her hesitation after only a couple seconds, and she is free (and relieved, thankyouverymuch).

I assure Levi that frightening sound is just a truck, far away, and encourage him to focus on the matter at hand.  Grace’s example of placing necessity above comfort does not convince Levi, so I gently push him  towards the grass, but as usual, my hands touching him are like a Velcro invitation for him to only continue contact with me. The three of us walk further onto the front yard, Levi concentrating on the nearby street.  Since our fence fell down in October, the dogs have been more easily agitated or excited by anything and everything that passes us by.  When people find out where I live these days they say “Oh yes, I know that house! I stare at it each day while I sit in traffic at the light.”  Yes, I know you do.  I wish you didn’t.

Sometimes we dawdle, but I mostly know better.  Finally back inside, Levi can barely wait for the release of the leash clasp to launch himself running in the direction of breakfast. Grace sits for me and waits to be released, more sensitive and fearful of such phenomenons as “leash whiplash” or “anything falling towards her head.” As I close the front door, Levi is stretching and flipping an empty bowl over, smiling. Grace tiptoes towards the kitchen, looking out for flying bowls.

I turn on the radio and pour myself of cup of preplanned coffee.  I’m careful not to get all self-congratulatory as I sort through my next half hour’s to-remember list. I feel two sets of eyes on me, and, turning my back to them, I hear a reminder bowl flip over, still empty. If I make them wait too long, Levi will become utterly dramatic and sad, and will place some body part of his in the bowl, to show me how empty it is (see extremely sad photo, below).

Food goes here.

Food goes here.

I try not to make them wait too long but man, he’s funny.

By the time I leave the house at 6:30, the whole team has moved into phase two of the day.  Since it’s still dark out, Miss Grace can’t see her squirrels out the corner windows, so she parks herself at the top of the stairs.  Levi finds a place on the couch and pouts at me for having the gall to leave for work yet again.  I remind him he’s damn lucky I work so hard so he can live this kibblegilded lifestyle of happiness and hugs.

I somewhat obsessively yell goodbyes to them, telling them (…they’re DOGS…) when I’ll be home, please keep four on the floor, don’t eat anything that isn’t food, and please don’t go in the cabinets LEVI. And they, being dogs, tolerate and kind of ignore me.  I bet they wonder what I’m saying each day, but they probably know, that whatever blabber I’m blabbering makes me happy, and they are glad for that.

I run to my car, grateful.

*Who am I kidding?  It’ll be four years ago this early spring.  I don’t forget dates, generally.  If I do, I think something is wrong.  I do find it harder to subtract numbers from odd numbers, so I’ll have a math challenge ahead of me all year, as I struggle with such puzzlers as 2013 minus 2007.  Anyway.  This writing topic first came up in 2009.  I began to write about it then, when I had only one dog, lived not alone, had the two houses, but only lived in two rooms of one of them.  Now I have two dogs, no partner in crime, still two houses, but I live in one entire house.  Almost.  And I am working more on things like finishing what I start.  More often than not.

** Please let this be the first and last time I use any form of “sanitary” in this blog.  I get the heebie jeebies just hearing that word.  Writing it is as gross as hearing it.  Moving on…

***”Do as I say, not as I do,” kids.

Posted in dogs, Grace & Levi, gratitude | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

slight update

I wrote “Exposed” 10 days before Hurricane Sandy knocked the rest of my fence down in my front yard.  The irony was too easy, like a short bus joke, and so I did what I’ve so often done: nothing.  But here I am, posting photos.

artistic shot from a slightly different angle.

lack of falsely protective layer

If I just sat back, and watched, I’d witness entropy pull my entire house apart.  Much like my kitchen, where, without daily maintenance, it would overtake me in an effective wave of dishes, bills, dog fur, and empty seltzer bottles.  Sometimes, people offer to help me out in well-meaning but futile manner, attempting to ameliorate my disorganization by suggesting a method to manage the madness.  Or, someone will pick up, say, a shirt, from the granite countertop and say “what’s this?  clean? dirty? what’s the deal?”*  But, like an innocent soul, new on the scene who loans money to a drug addict, we see that does not work. Because some problems, like messes, can only be managed, rather than solved. Most people find, as with houses, the key lies in the maintenance.

The storm in October devastated many people’s lives.  Currently, they say damage is in the 60 billions in dollars. It isn’t lost on me that my life was barely touched in comparison, and that if anything, I lost a symbol of privacy, and added a spring project.  I’m keeping perspective here.

*Something I thought only my mother did, but I actually have seen two other people do it, one recently, so I know it’s a human thing, not just a mom thing.

Posted in fun with homeownership | 3 Comments