No May Day This Year

Every year since we’ve lived in our house, I have done May Day baskets for all of our neighbors and friends who live nearby. I go all out, and I’ve chronicled each May Day on this blog (here and here and here). But this year, I didn’t do it. I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t even try.

Too much going on is the grossest understatement ever. I just didn’t have it in me. I put a lot of time and thought and effort into each basket. I make sure each person has a special thing; I personalize each basket from colors to flowers to candy to toys for kids/grill rubs etc. I love doing it. It’s a way to be creative and thoughtful and I feel the most me when I’m doing things like this. But this year, doing it would have been a chore. It would have been hard, and I just wouldn’t be into it.

I thought about it for a few days. I had purchased baskets a few months ago, so we had those, but I thought about why I’d be doing May Day this year. It was because it was expected. It had become a sort of tradition. I didn’t want people to think something was wrong with me or think I was upset with them. But I wouldn’t be doing it because it made me happy. Every other year, that’s why I do it. It brings me joy. This year, it would have had the opposite reaction; it would have been something that felt almost painful to do.

I asked my husband what he thought. I knew he’d be like, “Don’t worry about it,” and I don’t know why I asked. Truthfully, I had already made the decision – I just needed someone else to agree with the permission I gave myself. It’s important to be able to do that. To take a step back. Everything I do has a purpose and when it doesn’t, it’s not worth doing. That’s how I looked at May Day this year. No one is going to be traumatized they didn’t get a flower, chocolates and sidewalk chalk from one of their wacky neighbors. Life goes on.

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Impasse

I’ve never thought of the phrase about getting something off someone’s chest. But lately, I get it, I understand where it comes from because I feel an incredible weight has taken root in my chest, and I can’t breathe. But I can’t talk about it either.

That’s been my life for a while. I mean, it’s always everyone’s lives to some extent. I don’t think that everyone can talk about everything whenever they want – it’s not smart, sensitive, responsible, etc. But sometimes I feel like certain things, I can’t talk about period, which doesn’t sit well with me. I’m a very “out with it” kind of person. I think secrets divide people. I think problems seem insurmountable when they’re left for too long, untended to. I live my life with a “barrel through it” attitude and I practice exactly that. But few things (I’d say nothing, but then it would be an ironic sort of statement) are absolute.

Right now, I’m dealing with a lot. It’s all consuming. And I feel like I can’t talk about it. I can’t tell friends, and it’s not that I even want to, it’s that I am tired of being consumed. I’m tired of being in my own head. I feel like I can’t breathe.

Right now the only thing that is certain is that right now nothing is certain. And yes, that would be an appropriate absolute. Normally I would write about it, but I can’t. I don’t have the distance. When you write about something, you write from the perspective of now versus the experience being then. You have hindsight. While you have to be close to it for the words to be compelling, you can’t be so close to it that the writing hurts you, or you’re unable to see the truth of it clearly. Or you write to sort through something. You write to process, to discover and dissect – to understand.

I’m in the thick of it so I don’t have that distance. And I don’t need to dissect, discover, process or understand. I’ve done that already. I’m not emotional, not like I should be, but it’s not that I’m numb, I’m somewhere beyond that – I’m raw.

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Puppy For Life… My Canine Soulmate

I know that I post about my dog, Angel, a lot. But it’s because I either write about the things I love, or have learned or the hard stuff. Angel is one of the “I love” things I like to write about the most. Today is her birthday – she’s nine years old. I can’t believe it. Where did the time go? How did we get here? I am being a sentimental sack and cannot picture my life without her, and then I get teary and even may or may not roll my eyes at my own ridiculous if I actually break down and cry.

I have had other dogs before, and I have loved them all, and mourned then when it was time to say goodbye, but Angel is different – special. I can’t put it any other way but to say she is my canine soulmate. She isn’t just a member of the family, but feels like a part of me, a necessary part. According to the most accurate dog age conversion calculator she is roughly 49 years old. I say roughly because she is a mix between two breeds (48.6 years to 49.7 years respectively) and because I don’t know her exact birthday. Angel was a rescue that I saved who ended up saving me. Yeah, the whole cliché bit is true. During her first vet visit, they deduced that she was born between April 23, 2008 and May 21, 2008. I could have gone for smack dab in the middle of that estimate, but I was born on the 28th (but in July) so that was what I chose. Technically, perhaps she won’t actually pass her nine-in-people-years mark for another week, or longer or perhaps she already has.

I can’t believe how old she is. Like, I look at her now and then and yes, I can see it, mostly in her eyes, but she acts the same, is the same – a puppy for life. But she isn’t a puppy anymore… she can jump four feet in the air, but not six (yeah she used to be able to, I said she must have had springs in her paws). She is still adventurous, but cautiously adventurous instead of impulsively adventurous. I want to clone her. No really, part of me does. I don’t pursue it, not because of money (though there is certainly that!) but because even if I did, a clone would have the same DNA but it wouldn’t have Angel’s spirit. I really do believe in souls, and it’s her soul that I’m in love with, not how she looks or behaves.

So in honor of her ninth/forty-ninth birthday, here are fifty reasons why I love her so… God it was hard to stop listing them.

  1. She’s a ham. Oh how I love her hamminess.
  2. I love how dainty she is.
  3. I think it’s funny how she HATES water – like she hates it more than our cat.
  4. Angel hates being dirty. Never have I met a dog that doesn’t like dirt. She loves grass, flowers and being outside but goes out of her way to avoid dirt and mud, walking around or jumping over dirty areas.
  5. I love how she cocks her head to the side when I use “that voice”.
  6. I love how she tries to be my protector.
  7. I love how she falls asleep with the tip of her tongue hanging out!
  8. She chose my husband for me before our first date! Angel used to always bark and run circles around me whenever an unfamiliar male was present – even relatives, it was like she was creating a force field around me. When she first met my husband, she licked his hand, begged to be cuddled, and jumped in his lap as soon as he sat down!
  9. I love how she crosses her paws… like a real lady. 😉
  10. I love how she dances on two feet. She twirls when she wants something, and this is something she came up with on her own, not something she was taught!
  11. When she was a puppy, she was so confused and it made me laugh. She walked on two feet almost as much as she did on all fours, with ears back and resembled a ferret. She peed by lifting one leg like a male dog. She acted like a cat. She was still deciding what she wanted to be!
  12. When my shunt breaks, I need emergency brain surgery. She has always been able to warn me before symptoms come on. Time is extremely limited and significant, only having hours or I wouldn’t make it. She will be incredibly needy, sit in my lap and stare in my face, not leaving me alone. It took me a few surgeries to realize she only does this a few hours before symptoms begin. When I am symptomatic, I use her as my confirmation. Who needs a CAT Scan when you have a Guardian Puppy?
  13. I love how easy she was to train. Her hybrid/breed is supposed to be difficult to train. Potty training took less than three weeks; she doesn’t chew, jump, dig or destroy things. I did train her and was strict during training but never have I had a dog take to things as easily and quickly as she did!
  14. I remember when she first opened her eyes and I was bottle-feeding her. She had my heart right then. (She was a rescue I found abandoned when she was vey young. She didn’t open her eyes for the first time until the second day I had her.)
  15. I love how gentle she is. She is great with babies, children of all ages, the elderly, and other animals from other dogs to cats. I can’t take credit for this beyond making sure she was properly socialized. She lets others approach her at their comfort; licks, doesn’t jump, etc.
  16. She is the sweetest dog ever!
  17. She is careful to not accidentally trip people. (Most of the time!)
  18. I love her ears.
  19. I love how she is picky (she is a really picky eater).

I find her eating habits hilarious…

  1. She won’t eat if someone is in eyesight, you have to be in a totally different room and if you’re even in the hall she’ll stop and stare you down, waiting for you to leave.
  2. She doesn’t like the black-colored kibble in her food. I call it her veggies. She will actually take them out of her food and hide them, under her bowl, under the welcome mat, in corners of the laundry room, just to get out of eating it. She’s also gone on a hunger strike or two over finishing her black kibble. (We do wet and heat her black kibble so she’ll eventually eat it.)
  3. Even though she can’t be watched when she first starts eating she has to bring us a few kibbles and put them in front of us. But she won’t eat them because we’re there. She also won’t let us touch them because it’s her food. I’d understand if she did this when she was out of food, but at the start of the meal…
  4. She won’t start eating, no matter how hungry she is, until someone else is here with me. I thought it was my husband, but she’ll also eat if a friend, neighbor or relative comes over. She won’t eat however, if it’s my husband here with someone else. But when I have company she makes a beeline for her food dish.
  5. I love how she will eat from the bowl I am holding if it’s wet food. She doesn’t get wet often but this is so special to me, and also very comical.

  1. She’s a bird dog through and through. Squirrels are boring. Bunnies can be interesting but it depends… but any bird she is after them, running and jumping several feet in the air as they take off, flying away from the fearsome predator she is.
  2. I love her wings. When she was a few weeks old, I thought about what to name her. Her coat is white with tan markings. On each of her should blades she had perfectly symmetrical tan markings that looked like wings. That’s how she got her name.
  3. I love that she loves our cat. They really are sisters and they love each other. If they’re not cuddling together they’re chasing each other (yes, they take turns), playing or even tag-teaming my husband and I for treats. (I swear it’s an organized system.)
  4. I love how she always knows how I’m feeling.
  5. Whenever I’m upset whether it’s stressed, sad or angry, Angel will stay by my side. If I’m up late, unable to sleep, she’ll abandon bed and stay with me. Her being there just makes me feel lighter – calmer.
  6. Angel actually licks my tears away. I’m sure this has to do with them being salty, but I’ll take it.
  7. Angel is a “Dairy girl”. The only time she has ever eaten my food was when she was less than a year old. It was a bowl of cereal. She didn’t care about the cereal though. I got up to get something and since she had never done that – completely forgot that she could get to my cereal. Fifteen minutes later, she was laying in her favorite spot, acting all innocent… my cereal was still there, but there was not a drop of milk left! She also loves cheese. (And because all things can be symbolic, I lived on Dairy Avenue when I found her.)
  8. She’s just the right amount of barky. She lets me know when someone is at the door (I’m profoundly deaf) but she doesn’t bark at nothing and she stops when I tell her to.
  9. She lets us know our roles. My husband is the “fun parent”. He is more likely to spoil her; she is more playful with him etc. But whenever she needs something she comes to me. Whenever she is scared, she runs and hides under my feet or behind me. I am her protector.
  10. After Angel was spayed she displayed more pain than I thought she’d have (since they gave her pain meds and I was giving her meds). She wouldn’t eat, drink, or move. I was so worried. I cupped my hands so that there was water in them and lifted them to her face. She drank from my hands thirstily. I did this three more times until she was satisfied. Two days later, she was back to normal.
  11. I was in an abusive relationship when I found her, but it wasn’t physically abusive, just emotional. Angel hated my boyfriend. Even though we found them together and he fed her, cared for her, she could not stand him. It’s the only time she has ever shown distaste for anyone. It wasn’t until I left that I realized why.
  12. She loves PINK! I know dogs can’t see colors like we do, but however hot pink looks to her – she has a preference. We have tested this with buying the same toy in blue and pink (and several other colors) and she only goes for the pink. Same with blankets. We’ll get her a blanket or toy and if it isn’t pink she isn’t interested. If it is… she won’t go anywhere without it!
  13. She sprawls out. She has an old bed (several years old) she still likes and a newer bed. She’ll stretch her paws out so she sprawled across both beds. It is hilarious!
  14. She is an architect! She is a nester. A lot of dogs do this, but she will actually push pillows to standing position and pull blankets on top to make intricate forts, one fort had at least three different “rooms” marked by a different blanket for the “floor”.
  15. Her kennel is her safe space.
  16. She’s good with at the vet’s every time!
  17. She has incredible restraint. Whether it’s not eating something left out (like a snack) or being patient with a kid less familiar with animals (she has served as a teacher for several toddlers still learning pulling tails are a no-no), she always amazes me.
  18. She is so expressive. I know when she is like “WTF”, when she is content, tired, nervous, excited, wanting to play, wanting to go out, wanting more food – I know all of her faces, they’re all unique and I love them all.
  19. She shares! Sometimes it’s not so great (no, don’t let the cat eat that!) but she shares her toys, treats, bed and kennel with our cat and other dogs we occasionally have over.
  20. She can walk across the room on two legs!
  21. I love her bedtime ritual. She always “fixes” the pillows on our bed exactly how she wants them, even though as soon as we get in bed she knows we’ll undo it. (Hey, she is a pillow hog!)
  22. I love how happy she is every time I, or my husband, or the two of us, get home.
  23. She behaves during bath/teeth/nails even though she absolutely hates it. When it’s time she’ll actually jump right in the tub like “let’s get this over with.” (She really does hate baths, so this is why I’m always like “Wow.”)
  24. She loves to meet and play with anyone and anything. She used to act confused about why stray cats don’t want to cuddle with her, and she is so good at the dog park!
  25. She doesn’t act like a “small dog”. She’s my first small dog and I was worried I’d have a napoleon complex problem or something, but nope! 😀
  26. When she was less than a year, my roommate had a Great Dane. Angel was maybe nine pounds at the time. Angel wanted to play with him, but he couldn’t figure out how to play with such a small dog. Angel jumped up on the couch and then would jump on his back as if tackling him. Most precious thing ever!

There are so many more reasons why I love her, but I’m stopping there. There is always next year!

Happy Birthday, lady! I love you!

-DMW

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Silence…

Voice. It is one of the single most important things anyone can have. It doesn’t have to be verbal, it can be written, verbal or signed. A person’s voice is as individual to them as their fingerprint. You can recognize a writer’s voice before you are told whom you’re reading. A person’s voice is their power. It is the voice of dissent that becomes the voice of resistance. One becomes many, but rather than blending in, they became a sea of individual voices coming together, like a mosaic of color/pitch/tone. A single voice doesn’t have the power to move giant hurdles, but a sea of voices can break through nearly any barrier. But the thing about the sea is that it always has to begin with one.

Lately I have called upon people to speak. We are living in terrifying, trying times and we need to be vigilant to use our voices to speak out against injustice, to be allies, to take care of ourselves and loved ones. Still, with all this attention to speaking and voices, it is interesting how powerful silence can be. Absolute – nothingness.

Every year, I recognize the Day of Silence (April 21 this year). It is not a time to speak up, but a time to be quiet. To not utter a single syllable. The Day of Silence was started in 1996 by students at the University of Virginia as a form of nonviolent protest. This protest is meant to bring awareness to bullying and harassment of LGBTQI students, and its effects. We take a vow of silence for the day, referencing how LGBTQI students are silenced. Outside of school, it has been broadened to include any LGBT-based discrimination.

I have participated every year since 1998 (when I first heard about it). It’s how I learned that silence can be powerful too.

In high school, most teachers didn’t give me any flack for observing the day of silence. I could still communicate, but it would have to be in writing. With classes of thirty students and forty-two minutes a period, me taking a break from the discussion wasn’t going to be, “OMG, you just can’t!” Of course, some teachers did try to test me. They were the same ones I knew would give me trouble because they argued that Willa Cather wasn’t a lesbian, referred to sexual orientation as a lifestyle and LGBT people as “those people”. They tried to get me to speak, but I refused. They threatened to send me to the principal’s office and I persisted. They sent me to the principal’s office where I waited out the period of class in the main office. I never got in trouble, because school administrators knew better. (I always told teachers in advance I was observing the Day of Silence, so no one was surprised or unwarned.)

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A Phone App Intervention

I’ve never been a big gamer. In fact, with the exception of a few early-nineties Mario games, I never played video games at all. My brothers were/are all obsessed. So I had access to multiple gaming systems until I was fifteen, and often my brothers tried to get me to play but I just wasn’t into it.

I’m not into Anime either.

I point these two things out because it seems like if someone has an addiction to their electronics beyond stellar texting ambitions or social media, it’s some sort of game or anime, and I dodged the bullet on both.

So, imagine my surprise when I realized last month, I may have become addicted to my phone. It’s not just one thing. There is a Trivia app I’m all about, and Pokemon Go (though I’m more on the outs on that one), and then my latest craze: Sudoku. I have long prided myself on not having any sort of electronic vice. Seeing how much time my younger brothers wasted on games (when you can’t enjoy a vacation because instead of enjoying the sites you stay up all night playing X-Box and don’t want to do anything besides play X-box, it’s wasted time), I am like, “Phew, I missed that one.”

Then one night two weeks ago, I realized that for the fifth night in a row, I was playing Sudoku and Dots and the Trivia app simultaneously while watching TV. And I was playing these things because, “Why not?” Like it made perfect sense to pay more attention to my phone’s screen than the program I was watching.

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