Day 291/365 Let Go or Be Dragged

There I was, staring down at a rather long flight of concrete stairs.

At the top, tethered to me by a leash, was my 75 pound lab, quivering with excitement.

At the bottom was the dog park. 

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Louie (just barely) tolerates a leash as a means to an end. If either of us want to enjoy a walk, the leash must be used on an “as needed” (and preferably not frequently needed) basis. Therefore we usually choose to take walks on the least popular paths, at the least popular times of day, and (the best is) in the least favorable weather.

Give us a cold January day for a beach stroll, and we are thrilled. When we are alone, he is free to run in and out of the frigid water, and I am spared a dislocated shoulder. Thus we are both happy.

When we “walk” in this way, I let him off leash until I see someone else coming, and unless the approaching party also happens to be walking with an off-leash dog, I put the leash on Louie. He comes when I call him, sits, and let’s me do this…as if he knows this small concession ultimately buys him his freedom. (I know, you may think he isn’t that smart. After all, I do often find crayons and hair elastics in his excrement, but actually, aside from his ostrich-like eating habits, he is a pretty smart boy).

A couple of weeks ago, on an unseasonably warm Saturday, we tried to go to the local beach for some frolicking (I don’t really frolick, but he covers it for both of us). As we walked down the boardwalk I saw that the beach was absoultely packed. This was not the place for us.

I had heard of the local dog park but had never checked it out. I knew Louie would be thrilled to be able to run freely with other dogs. When he sees other dogs he gets so excited he cries. So I decided to give it a go.

May I just say that it is hilarious to people and dog watch in this enclosed space. So many cases of people resembling their dogs in appearance or in temperment. (I’m not sure what that says about Louie and me…). There’s the one dog who wants to hump every single other dog while the owner exclaims, “He loves making new friends!” There’s the one dog owner who pretends not to see his dog pooping (someone is bound to clean it up, right?). There’s the aggressive dog whose “Mama” keeps reassuring everyone that “He’s just playing!” There’s the dog who, bespite his owner’s words of encouragement, just sits at his owner’s feet – he’s the dog park version of a teen dance wallflower. There’s my dog who must pee on every single thing, and who despite being one of the biggest dogs there, comes running full speed toward me whenever another dog so much as growls at him. One time he was frantic at being chased by two bassett hounds. My 75 pound, boxy headed lab was fleeing from two bow-legged beasts who were literally dragging their bellies on the ground.

Oh I could write whole blog about the microcosim that is the dog park, but I digress…

Back to the cement steps.

There we stood at the top, Louie absolutely beside himself with excitement to get to the bottom of those steps. I had him tightly by the leash, as I felt I needed to be in control of him from the car to the park gate.

I looked down at an older man at the bottom of the steps, standing off to the side. He was looking at me like he was about the see a train wreck and he knew it. I said, “What do you suppose the chances are that I can get to the bottom in an upright position?” To my surpirse he looked at me, nodded his head reassuringly and said, “You can do it.”

The sick bastard.

Just kidding…maybe he recognized my strong inner will...or maybe he is into schadenfreude.  We’ll never know for sure.

In that moment, looking down those cement steps, I heard my Uncle Ed‘s voice in my head saying,

“Let go…or be dragged.”

It’s one of his favorite expressions. Meaning of course – you are not in control – and you can either give into that reality, or you can make things rather painful for yourself.

I have a really hard time with this lesson…I always have. You know how they say that you will keep being presented with the same lessons (in new and unusal ways) over and over again in life until you finally listen. When I look at all the ways that life has shown me how NOT in control I am, I can’t help but be mildly amused that this is even still a thing for me.

Must I be dragged down a flight of concrete stairs to reinforce this point?

The gate to the dog park is right at the bottom of the stairs. Louie, if let off the leash, was going nowhere but right to the gate.  He could not wait to play with his friends. There was no one else on the stairs that he could have inadvertantly knocked over on his way down…and my dog hasn’t a mean bone in his body. There would be no harm in letting go. 

I took a deep breath…and I held on to the damn leash with white knuckles, and I used every bit of strength I had to control the dog down those cement steps and to the gate.

What?

Were you expecting something else?

I said it was still a thing…

And so I await the next opportunity...to get it.

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Day 276/365 I Need A Hero

I’ve had some technical difficulties lately.

About a week and a half ago I had some kind of virus, and during that time I had to drag myself out of bed one day to deal with a heating issue at work (we were closed, but it was a potential emergency given the freezing temperatures). The next day I woke up to discover I had no propane (despite being on automatically delivery), and it was 44 degrees in my house. The day after that, a pipe froze and I had to evacuate my house so my landlord could heat the crawl space beneath the house with a heater which emits toxic fumes.

This week we had a “bomb cyclone” storm that dumped about a foot of snow at my house, and I realized that I had to find someone to plow my street. It’s a private road, therefore the municipal plows won’t do it.  Usually one of my neighbors coordinates the plow, and I offer her some money. This time she was away, which I didn’t realize until I woke up and saw that my street was completely untouched.

The girls and I didn’t have anywhere to be (school and work were cancelled) but I did get a call from the propane delivery company, saying they could not get to my house. Having run out the week before, I knew I didn’t want to risk that again. Also, I worried about having to get out in an emergency, and that in an emergency, we would be hard to get to, as well.

It was surprisingly difficult to get someone to plow. No one seemed to want the challenge of plowing a road they’d never seen before (therefore not knowing where the road ends and yards begin).

Finally I had someone agree to come and look at it. Seeing the street, he said he should charge me $500 to plow it. When that was met with a shocked silence, he told me he could see I was in a pinch, and that he would do it for $300.

I had just a moment to decide whether to say yes to this offer, or to risk not being able to find someone else to come (it was 3pm, I had been trying all day). I said fine, and I watched as it took him all of ten minutes to plow the street. When he came to the door, he admitted it was easier than he thought, and offered to charge me $250.  I paid him, all the while wondering if the initial suggestion of $500 was a strategy to make me feel as though I had gotten a deal.

(I didn’t feel as though I had gotten a deal).

Next, I had to shovel my walk (I know, cue the violin). When I was done with that, I realized I had to shovel a path around the side of my house for the propane delivery, and to be able to get my trash and recycling bins out.  All the while, I was cursing.

Heavily.

It was all too much – this being responsible for everything. This being-the-single-head-of-the-household business.

Suddenly, my head was filled with Bonnie Tyler’s voice singing, “I need a hero!

Do you know that song from the eighties classic “Footloose”? Seriously I had not heard or thought of that song in decades, and the fact that it popped into my head at the moment cracked me up.  I literally laughed out loud.

Really, Bethany?

Just shovel the goddam walkway.

Then get your butt in the car and drive out to work to make sure everything is okay over there as well, before the temperature drops to -4 tonight.

Be a grown up.

So, anyway….to be honest I couldn’t remember whether the song was from Footloose or Top Gun, and I just had to look it up.

You need watch the video, because it is Amazing.

A few talking points before you view it….

I don’t know Bonnie personally, but I find it hard to believe that she would just drop to her knees, singing for a white knight, while her house is on fire (of course, it is a bit of a shit hole, so maybe she’s just counting on a good insurance payout so she can start fresh and put in that tub she always wanted).

If Bonnie’s house was really on fire, I would think her girlfriends would stop dancing and help her put the fire out, wouldn’t they?

Did they have glow in the dark lassos in the Olden Days?

Are those men in black playing duck-duck-goose with Bonnie?

I don’t understand…who is flying?

Do you mean to tell me that the guy in the white scared away those three other dudes?

Were the men in black armed only with their glow in the dark lassos? Even so…really? The white gloves…they were scary?

I am pretty sure Bonnie could have kicked all their asses herself. She probably wouldn’t have even messed up her hair (all that hair spray would be admittedly hard to disrupt – and where did she get all that product, by the way?).

Who looked at Bonnie Tyler and thought – Old Timey Western?

Finally, my last question (for now?) – Is the Grand Canyon a good place to find available men? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

Click here to watch it on youtube.

Please don’t leave me alone to ponder these burning questions.

Day 263/365 Your Necklace Is So…Wait, Is That….POLLY?

I’m afraid I have embarked upon a dark path…

We have all experienced the creepiness of internet shopping + Facebook. I am referring to that “phenomenon” in which that pair of shoes you were looking at on the Zappos site suddenly appear as an ad on your Facebook page.  “Big Brother” strikes again.  Facebook is in cahoots (I love that word, don’t you?) with retailers, selling ads on your page to those who match up with your interests.

They’re usually spot on with their “suggestions” of things one might like. Which is why it was a bit disturbing when I saw their latest targeted ad on my Facebook page –

“What is that,” you say?

“Is that….rice?”

Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Nope, not rice.

Maggots.

Those are maggots…forever preserved in a heart shaped necklace.

There is a market for these necklaces, you guys. A hot one. In fact, so much so that there are only 2 left! (Though to be fair we don’t know how many there were to begin with).

792 Etsy shoppers have marked it as a favorite.

Curiosity got the better of me and I pursued the shop further.

Have you ever wondered, “Can I forever hold my deceased parakeet close to my heart?

Literally?

Have you ever lamented the sheer volume of doll-baby heads in our landfills, and wondered, “Couldn’t we reuse those?”

I know, who hasn’t been burdened with those very questions?

Well, now you can answer to both with a resounding “YES!”

I present to you –

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It’s a necklace. A taxidermied parakeet and doll-baby head necklace.

You’re welcome.

Don’t worry, the baby head is ethically sourced. (Oh wait, maybe they meant the parakeet.)

I love creative people. I love that artistic expression is limitless, and that we all have varying tastes. That’s what keeps life – especially fashion –  interesting.

I also know that these preserved maggot and taxidermied parakeet & baby head necklaces are not for me.

They are for many people, apparently (at least 792 of them!) but I am not one of those people. Perhaps you are. That’s totally cool.

Perhaps you’d find my jewelry tastes to be sadly uninspired. (Pearls on her wedding day…was she being ironic?)

The question remains, why did Facebook think this wearable art would be up my alley?

I did notice that everything on this Etsy page is called “Love Letters to the Dead”. Perhaps, my posts and sharings from this year have been macabre enough for me to be flagged as a wearer of maggots. 

I can own that.

The problem is, now that I have actually clicked on all of these things on Etsy, Facebook is going to be targeting me for this stuff more and more.

They’re all, “Ohhh, she was into those Silver Kissing Mummified Mice Pups!” (I’ve spared you the photo, but imagine a heart shaped necklace of Han Solo frozen in carbonite.  Except, instead of Harrison Ford, it’s….well, mouse embryo.)

Again, you’re welcome.

Perhaps I have just helped you to check that last “hard to buy for” loved one off your Christmas list.

Unfortunately, I have also opened up the advertising gates of hell….

And I am afraid.

Day 259/365 SERENITY NOW

I had a really wonderful weekend. I’d even say it was perfect.

My girls were home with me for the first weekend in what seemed like forever. Saturday we lounged around all day as the snow fell. I hate to brag, but both days I made breakfast that didn’t pop up out of the toaster.  Seriously.

Saturday night we had friends over for dinner – the kind of friends who are easy and relaxed company.

We puttered around again on Sunday morning, and went to a matinée in the afternoon. We simply enjoyed each other’s company. It was just fun and cozy, simple and relaxed.

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Which is why my anxiety today was a real kick in the pants. There it was, nonetheless, tapping me on the shoulder this morning just as soon as I left the bus stop.

I knew I had a hard conversation ahead of me today, and I knew the other person was going to feel hurt. There’s nothing I hate more…except maybe pretending the conversation isn’t necessary when it is. I worried about it all day. I felt distracted and anxious, my chest ached and my hands shook.

I noticed something really interesting, though. In the past, when anxiety has gripped me, I’ve felt as though I was trapped in my body, experiencing a horrible, inescapable sensation. I have wanted to unzip my own skin and step out of it.

Today, after a while, I was able to recognize the feeling, and in a way….I was able to pull away from it. It was as though I had a bird’s-eye view of myself. I could see myself struggling with it, but it didn’t feel quite as awful, because I knew I just needed to ride it out. Watching from my perch above myself, I could see my anxiety was not me, but rather something passing through me.

As soon as we got home and settled in, I knew enough to say to the girls that I’d had a stressful day and needed to wind down a bit. I started a hot bath and poured myself some herbal tea (if herbal tea were red and made from grapes). I dumped about a half a bottle of lavender oil into the tub. I lit some candles and turned out the lights.

As a lay there in the candlelight, steeping in a warm lavender bath and listening to some clinky, clanky meditation music, wine in hand….I started to let go of the day. Ahhhh…and then the door opened, and in sauntered one of the girls. I opened one eye and looked at her. Perhaps I glowered. “I just need a few minutes of quiet, and then I’m all yours,” I reminded her.

“Right, no problem! I just need to use the bathroom!”

Um…we have three bathrooms, but okay. I wasn’t in the mood to argue. I closed my eyes again and tried to let my mind float, when a huge farting noise ripped through the room.

I turned my head and said in my sternest voice, “I SAID I WANTED QUIET.” She paused for a beat to make sure I was teasing her, and then we both erupted in laughter.

A few minutes later she finished her business and went on her way.

I’m not kidding when I tell you, in came the next one.

Same situation.

Nothing says relaxation like someone pooping, four feet from your head. At least the gallon of lavender I used was coming in handy.

Finally, the door closed behind her.

I was alone at last…

Alone with the warm lavender bath, the wine, the candlelight and the clinky, clanky music….and my incomplete Christmas list, and the appointment I forgot to make, and the list of things I have to accomplish at work this week, and the worry I’d offended a friend, and the really kind text message I’d forgotten to respond to, and a critical replay of the hard conversation I’d had earlier…

In the words of Frank Costanza, “SERENITY NOW!”

I stuck with it, though. I kept bringing my focus back to the desire to relax and let it all go. Finally as the tub began to feel tepid, I felt my blood pressure drop. I felt my muscles relax. I could breathe easier.

I pulled myself from the tub just as it began to grow cold. Feeling restored, I was ready to help with homework, play Parcheesi, and begin making dinner…

Right after unclogging the toilet.

(Seriously.)

Day 156/365 I Am Not A Rock Star

Some dear friends of mine from high school, and my cousin, Jay, are in a band together. I love these men, but aside from Jay, I don’t really get to see them too often.

Last night they played at a house party.

When I got to the party there were so many old friends whom I don’t see often enough. So, due to being chatty, having had a late lunch, and not being hungry while the food was being served, I managed to miss dinner (at a cookout…who does that?).

I did, however, manage to drink three beers. This, as you can imagine, was not a good choice. 

After the music stopped and the party dissipated I hung around with the boys while they packed up their instruments. I felt fine (maybe a little too fine) and headed off to a party with them afterward.

To be honest, I had a great time, it was so fun to see everyone. However, at a certain point that three beers + no dinner combo hit me and I needed to leave, STAT.  Fortunately I hitched a ride with Ryan and Alexis after having sent out a few (apparently hilarious) SOS text messages.

{No, you are not allowed to make fun of me because three beers did me in. Okay, whatever, go ahead…it’s a little sad.}

Here’s the thing – I am certain I’d have had just as great of a time had I not reached for that third…or even the second…beer.  What did I gain from overindulging?

Nothing!

Oh wait! I did gain something!

A HANGOVER.

You know what doesn’t get better with age?

You guessed it…

HANGOVERS.

I seriously am never doing that again.

I could not get out of my own way today.

So, what have we learned?

We’ve learned that I most certainly CANNOT party like a rock star.

In fact, as it turns out, I’m not even a very good groupie.

{I often take photos of random stuff, figuring they may inspire a blog some day.  As you can imagine I had a different idea for how I might use this one, but I couldn’t pass up the ironic humor.}

Day 140/365 Cleansing Myself of Happiness

Lately I have been feeling really unhealthy, physically (we shall leave the discussion of my mental illness for another time).

My dad died back in January, and at some point thereafter I did a 180 from not having any appetite, to wanting to eat pretty much anything that was not strapped down.

I’ll be honest, I felt an extreme sense of entitlement toward bread and sugar of any sort….oh, and wine.

Ah, yes…the good times we had, those three amigos and I.

Alas, I’ve realized that I have to step away from the baked goods and focus a bit on my health.

So, I decided to do a cleanse.

I put that in italics because I feel as though one needs to say that with emphasis.  As if I am highfalutin and my cleanse is very important.

I am doing the world a favor with my cleanse.

(I’m quite sure I’m not doing anyone any favors actually, because…well because I hate everyone who has the audacity to eat food).

You people with your food prep videos on Facebook.  Brutal!

A friend of mine commented that I appear to be cleansing myself of happiness.

I’m kidding. Well, she did say that, actually, but it hasn’t been that bad. The idea is to give my body a re-boot.  To break addictions to unhealthy foods, and to maybe lose a few pounds in the process.

So, I’m on day four of a 10-day liquid diet (don’t worry, it’s all safe and healthy stuff), and I tell you it has been not unlike going through the stages of grief…

Stage 1 – DenialThis won’t be that bad! I can doing anything for 10 days!

Stage 2 – Anger – Why the eff am I doing this anyway?

Stage 3 – Bargaining Just one french fry?  Please?

Stage 4 – DepressionOh God, this is the end, isn’t it? I’m languishing!

{THAT WAS DAY ONE.}

My kids have been with their dad this week, so at least I haven’t had to cook for anyone.  However, they’re coming back tomorrow and unfortunately they will probably expect to be fed…like three times a day.

Unbelievable.

So I ventured to the grocery store earlier to buy a cart full of food I’m not allowed to eat. Wandering the aisles with a crazed look on my face, muttering under my breath, “They’re gonna want Bunny Crackers, aren’t they?  Freakin’ kryptonite.”

I stopped in front of the bread, and heaved a sigh.

“You got me into this, you know,” I whispered.


Six days and only one more stage of grief to go…

Stage 5 – Acceptance – I imagine it’ll be something like…

You’ve made your bed, now you’ve got to lie in it.

(And good luck with that, since you have to pee every twenty minutes).

Pray for me.

 

 

130/365 “The Monthly Bill”

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that I have started to feel a lot better. I’ve been generally happy and grateful, and not easy rattled.

Today, that seemed to come to an abrupt halt. I was driving to work, thinking about everything that has transpired in my life over the past year and a half, and I felt the emotions sweep over me – sadness, fear, confusion, anger…

I know it seems like I share just about everything here, but believe me, there’s an awful lot in the “just about” category.

I got angry about all of the things my children have had to process – so much death, change, and uncertainty.

They are doing so well  right now…and so am I, more or less…so this emotional spiral caught me off guard.

When I got to work I felt exhausted. I walked in and told my colleague, “I just don’t wanna today.”

She said, “So don’t.  See ya.”

Bless her, but “No,” I said, “I’m staying.” (Deal with it.)

I teared up once or twice thinking about how much I miss my dad, but I plugged through the day.  I chalked it up to what my brother, Ryan, calls a “Dad day”. Just one of those days in which it hits you and stays with you….the loss.

I got home and just wanted to draw the curtains and curl up in my bed for a half an hour. Blessedly the girls were in good spirits and went off playing.

Then I started doing a little calculating and it hit me…it’s that time of the month.

Don’t hate me for saying it. I know it is beyond irritating when others (namely, men) make an assumption, when we are emotional, that we have our period.

However, I have to admit that quite often in my case – this is spot on.

Still reading?

I totally understand if this isn’t where you thought this was going…and you’re out.

Too much information, thank you very much.

Hey, I’m looking at it as a public service…

To my female friends – I am here to say its okay to admit when we are influenced by our bodies in this way.  It does not make us weak. It makes us women. If you think about the work our bodies are doing during menstruation, it is no wonder we are tired, generally uncomfortable, headachy, sometimes even in terrible pain…stomach troubles, hormone changes….not to mention the actual shedding of blood and cells from our bodies. We literally prepare to create a new human being every single month, and then break that all back down again. 

Male friends – do not under any circumstances make an assumption about the “monthly bill” being the reason for a female’s emotional state.  That being said, if she generously provides you with this information in the way of an explanation…be kind.

Personally, I find it to be a relief when it dawns on me that I can explain my sudden mood shifts.

I say “sudden” because comically, I never seem to see it coming…

At exactly four week intervals.

The cliché irks me a bit, I’ll admit it….but then I get over it, and I think – thank God, this will only take a few days.

Until then, tread lightly…and pass the damn chocolate.