Curiouser & Curiouser

Life’s short. Get curious.

On the Importance of Thinking Before You Speak May 26, 2009

Filed under: Gabe,life,thoughts — curiouserx2 @ 5:02 pm
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gabe1Piling together all of Gabe’s belongings – half-chewed Nyla bones, multiple tug ropes, leashes, harness, chew toys – and amassing them in his little, hair- covered bed, it was hard not to relive all the big moments we’ve had together: the day I first met him, a wild puppy frantically jumping around my parents’ garage; our long morning walks together back when I was single and waiting tables and we had the mornings and afternoons together; our trips to Caribou Coffee; his first visit to the dog park…. We’ve had some great moments, but the thought of the dog park also brought back some less-than-pleasant memories, not so much to do with dogs as with humans.

I worked with Gabe for two years. In those two years, he’s learned to sit on command, or automatically before being fed or entering or exiting doors. He’s learned to walk at my side or slightly behind me. He’s become infinitely better at meeting new people. He can walk past a dog without going completely insane. But he still has a long way to go.

He’s been a tough little guy to break and has horrible anxiety that we’re still trying to overcome. So the dog park was always a challenge. Some days were great. Others, not so much. One recent trip ended with me reaching in to pull Gabe out from under another dog who had just bitten his ear, and ending up getting plowed over, scratched and bruised as other dogs joined in the fight. Not our shining moment.

But that wasn’t even my worst moment at the park. More painful to me were the times when other dog owners rolled their eyes at me or even made plainly audible comments about what a “bad” or “mean” dog Gabe was. Certain holier-than-thou groups of owners even made a point of letting us know that we were ruining the party.

Initially, I took to apologizing for Gabe’s behavior, his tendency to goad other dogs into games of chase by barking in their face, or to bark when he felt threatened, or when other dogs were play fighting. I felt embarrassed and sad for my dog who was so socially awkward. I felt like a bad owner.

But these people had NO IDEA how far Gabe had come. The fact that he was able to enter an enclosure with these dogs at all and not go completely ballistic trying to defend himself was a miracle. With their gentle breeds who they were able to train as puppies, how could they possibly understand the sometimes painfully difficult and stressful work involved with rehabilitating a dog?

They couldn’t.

So I started telling them. When another owner made a comment about Gabe’s behavior, I’d fire back with his story. I’d grant them that, yes, he still has a lot to work on, but was sure to explain where he had come from and how well he was doing considering his past. The reaction to this schooling was often one of surprise and understanding. I was amazed at how shedding a little light on the situation created such a positive response.

Although Gabe will have a new owner soon (and I’m desperately trying to let go of my ownership), my experiences with him have made me much more sympathetic to those who adopt older animals, and to those who have made the sacrifice and taken on the strenuous task of animal rehabilitation. When we get to Wilmington, I’ll be looking to volunteer for a no-kill shelter or animal rescue organization. J and I may not be in a place in our lives where we can take in an animal, but as I’ve searched for a new home for Gabe, I’ve seen the massive and desperate need for volunteers within these organizations, and that’s a hole I CAN fill.

I will do it for Gabe.

~a

 

Bon Voyage… May 21, 2009

Filed under: Gabe,life,pets — curiouserx2 @ 2:33 pm
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gabexmasJust finished penning my hokey invite for our pirate themed going-away party. I’m not sure how much more official it can get.

We are moving.

In ten days.

I’ve been avoiding writing about it, but the most stressful part of the move preparation has not been packing, or reserving a truck, or forwarding the mail. The worst part was coming to the realization that Gabe could not come with us.

My ownership of Gabe was on the doomed side from the start. I am in no way, shape or form in a place in my life to own ANY dog, let alone THIS dog. But I wanted to help him so badly when we found him, I wanted to save him from potential putting down at the Humane Society. I thought I could find a way to make it work, at least until I could find him the perfect home. Two years later, he was still burrowing under my covers at night and terrorizing the other dogs in my neighborhood.

Gabe is… special.

He’s in no way a bad, or even aggressive pup. But, he’s got serious anxiety issues and often feels threatened by certain people and most dogs. In the two years I’ve had him, he’s learned to take the back seat to his owner – to sit for his food or before going in and out of doors and cars, to walk next to or behind me, to sleep in his own bed unless invited up to the big bed, to let go of the rope when I say so and to leave the cat alone (although, to be fair, she taught him that one). But the anxiety occasionally strikes and cannot be quelled regardless of what I do or don’t do, leading to shakes, whining or uncontrollable barking.

Gabe needs more help than I can give him. He needs more space to run his long legs. He needs heartworm meds, flee and tick repellant, annual vaccinations. He needs attention from someone who will be home more than a few hours a day. I’m struggling with all of these, and the move will only make it worse.

So, in one week, we’re taking Gabe to a new home.

Two years with Gabe only heightened my fear of the Humane Society. We’ve had time to bond. I’ve had time to see him as more than just a stray – as a little guy with a big personality and love to give if he can just chillax. So, as the move approached, I shifted into high gear in the search for a better place for him. E-mail after e-mail came back to me, either flatly rejecting us because our case was not dire enough or referring us to another resource that had already rejected us. A Facebook campaign turned up lots of desire to help, but no one able to take in a dog.

Finally, an e-mail popped into my inbox as I was about to leave work one afternoon. “Does he get along with other dogs? Is he house trained”

To which I replied, “Well, sort of, yes. And definitely yes.”

Roxanne, one of the board members of an organization called HART Animal Rescue, was willing to meet me in Jeffersonville (about 45 minutes south of Columbus) to pick up Gabe and take him to an animal care shelter in Cincinnati. From there, he’ll be placed with a foster family until a permanent home can be found for him. “No chance of euthanization,” she said. “We’re no-kill…. unless they kill us!”

And with that, Gabe was saved. My chest still aches a little when I think of Gabe’s fear and confusion as he takes this journey. But if, in the end, it saves his life and finds him a better home, then this is what must be done.

In the meantime, I’ve got a long weekend of QT with the Gabe monster, and we’re going to do it up right.

Even if it means marathon tug-o-war and naps on the bed.

~a

 

THE ONE. May 18, 2009

Filed under: life,thoughts — curiouserx2 @ 5:52 pm
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3nd3k63ldZZZZZZZZZ95h0723e8caa9351f3eIt’s a damn good thing I don’t fall in love with boys the way I fall in love with houses.

Thinking we’d get a jump on things, J and I have been scouring the Craig’s List rental adds for Wilmington for the past month or so, and while he’s managed to keep a level head about the whole thing, I seem to find THE ONE nearly every other day. And  THE ONE is always perfection on paper, but inevitably flawed in some deal-breaking way: it’s got a beautiful facade, but the interior boasts weird carpet and wood paneling; it’s stunning, with all the amenities, but situated on the wrong side of the tracks; or it’s swanky and brand new, but won’t give you enough space.

In short: house-hunting is like dating. And dating was NOT my forte. However, I was an extremely picky dater, and it appears I need to apply that kind of discerning taste to my rental search as well. That way I can end up with a good looking, extremely cozy abode who’s only flaw is being half an hour late all the time 😉

 

All Good Things…

BinkysMovingVan_edited1Question: If a moving van leaves Columbus, Ohio at 8am on May 31st, and the moving couple departs from the same location at 9:45am (running late due to animals, long goodbyes and several “final” sweeps of the house), how long will it take said couple to question whether or not they’re making the right decision?

Answer: Approx. -17 days.

That’s right, it really hit us last Friday – the questioning of our sanity, that is. J and I were sitting on the front porch at a friend’s house, celebrating someone’s birthday with a cookout and good conversation on a beautiful spring evening. A warm breeze tousled our hair; we ate strawberries and cream and sipped gin and tonic and laughed. A lot.

I looked at J.

J looked at me.

And the look said something like:

“Dude. Wtf?”

It was the pained expression of how-can-we-leave-all-this-behind? I mean, what were we thinking when we decided to chuck the city we’ve both come to love and defend?? (Actually, I think we were thinking how much we loathe only getting to have real lives 6 months out of the year due to Ohio’s atrocious winters. And we’d just been to Miami in March, which will make anyone want to go beach bum). So, okay – we had our reasons. But that doesn’t make it any easier, now that the Dark Ages of winter have subsided, to let go of some of the more positive relationships we’ve established here.

It’s the few negative ones I’ve established, however, that are helping to ease that blow.

Like the guy at UDF who insists on being weird about my ice cream order every bloody time I go in there? Him I can do without. (If he’s not giving me 12 scoops of ice cream, he’s doubling my Deep Freeze into a melty tower of ice cream doom). And the parking lot attendant I walk past every day who finally put his head out the car window and screamed, “Hey pretty girl, what’s your name?” perhaps not thinking that if I took this poorly (which I did), we’d have to have a nice, awkward moment EVERY MORNING that I have to walk by his car.

And then there’s the literal relationships: the ex I won’t have to run into because we’ll no longer live down the street from each other. I cannot WAIT to live in a place where I don’t have to hear all about his g.d. band and to not have to tell people that, no, I do not in fact enjoy his music and, no, I would not like to go see him play at the local bar, and, yes, he DOES sound like a blatant rip off of Bob Dylan and/or Bruce Springsteen (depending on the song), and, yes, I have noticed that every song sounds like the last and, oh yes, he does really seem to like himself. (These conversations are admittedly somewhat enjoyable as they round the corner and become full-on Haterade toasts)

Finally, there are a few that I can’t even mention due to the expanding readership of this blog. You just never know, and I’m not in the clear yet. Lame People I Can Do Without – you probably know who you are, anyway.

Despite all of these, for the first time since I’ve started serial relocating, the mass of “Things I will Miss” is formidable. So much so that when J gave me that look, and I returned it, I really did have to think hard about what we’re on the verge of doing.

And yet….

I came out on the other end of all that contemplation still ready to pack my bags. Because this time, we’re doing it together. And this time, we’re going to do things the way we want to: create friendships that can be our own and not remnants of previous relationships; control our house (i.e. without the t.v.-as-background noise philosophy and as though Mr. Clean was our bald-headed third roomie – which could make a really awesome sitcom, come to think if it); fill our bedroom with playpen balls because we’re grown-ups now and it’s our turn to decide what that means!!! (Thank you, xkcd).

I’ve done one helluva job as a loner for the majority of my life, and I can’t speak for J (actually, I can; he’s lived with girlfriends before and is admittedly terrified of ruining everything…), but I’m hell bent on learning to live with someone else. I want a partner this time around. I’ve done Independence! and I’m tired of doing it all alone. Now that I know I’m capable of surviving without anyone, I want to do more than just survive.

And I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather take that ride with.

~a

In the event you have no idea to what I was referring...

In the event you have no idea to what I was referring...

 

Ignorance is Bliss? May 14, 2009

Filed under: thoughts — curiouserx2 @ 1:55 pm
Tags: , ,

Picture 1…. Or so they say. But I can’t imagine that sitting in a cave watching shadows all day long could ever be all that satisfying. Of course, the ignorant are ignorant of this as well.

What the blazes am I talking about, you ask?

Well, Chipotle, of course. Or, to be more accurate: the woman in line in front of me at Chipotle last night. A suburban soccer mom with three kids and obvious control issues, she approaches the counter and proceeds to, at a higher-than-normal volume, give her order to the gentleman behind the tortilla press with such exaggerated annunciation as to make me laugh. Apparently, she believes that the Hispanic man does not have a grasp of the English language, and she is trying to assist him in understanding her order. Never mind that there is NO INDICATION whatsoever that he is having any trouble getting her meaning. The man could speak English as a first language for all we know. And never mind that HALF of the words she’s mouthing so ridiculously are SPANISH. And she is utterly clueless that she is both being rude to this man AND making a complete idiot of herself.

I let out a reflexive snort, and turned around to see if my parents were catching all of this. They had to shush me, as my comments about her uncultured behavior were perhaps a little loud. I, however, don’t think she heard me (damnit). While I would have loved to have given that women a good talking to right then and there (and in front of her kids, so that perhaps her behavior might not be passed on to future generations), the best I could do was to give a friendly, conversationally spoken order to the man when I arrived at the counter.

Okay, and I gave the woman the eye. But that was it. I promise.

Yes, it must be nice to float through life in a tiny bubble of self-importance, unable to be bothered with issues and people outside your meager radius of thought. A word of warning, though: the world (you know, the REAL one) is full of needles just waiting to blow apart your silly, little shield.

And I may be in line behind you at Chipotle with one in hand.

(Addendum: I don’t know if this next example is ignorance or just a stupid sense of humor, but it’s worth noting. My office went out to the new ballpark to catch a few innings of a game for lunch today. We were seated among a large group of special education students – don’t get me started on the lack of educational value in a basebal game – and at one point, one of their teachers stood up to take some kids to the restroom. I noticed, hanging out of her pocket, a key chain that read, “I’m surrounded by idiots.” True story.)

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The Ballad of Evil Twin May 8, 2009

Filed under: happiness,life,road trip,thoughts — curiouserx2 @ 7:31 pm
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n28501299_31455424_110Let us begin with a little clarification: Evil Twin is neither evil nor my twin.

I would say she is merely my sister, but that’s not entirely true either. Evil Twin has been everything from my sworn enemy to my best friend. She is my partner in crime, my creative cohort and, if we’re being honest here (and why not?), a source of both inspiration and frustration.

Our history begins in a hospital waiting room. E.T. (ha!) has come to see her new little sister for the first time. She is 3 years old and small for her age, dwarfed by the chair she sits in. Someone, perhaps mom herself, places a bundle of blankets and pink, wrinkled baby into E.T.’s arms. Someone has a camera on hand to capture the moment, and here is what the evidence shows: E.T. with her elbow on the armrest of the chair, leaning her face on the palm of her hand, eyes rolled upward to the camera, brow furrowed, mouth pouty, barely holding the screaming, red-faced baby in her lap.

That snapshot is a pretty accurate portrayal of our first 16 years together. Me: trying, and perpetually failing, to gain her approval. Her: trying, perpetually to be left alone. There were moments of triumph for me during those years – times when her guard would drop just long enough for her to allow me to tag along on a shopping trip or evening at the coffee shop – but these were few and far between.

Flash forward to E.T. leaving home for college: Everything changed. I’m not entirely sure what occurred here. Perhaps I had finally done enough growing up that she and I had something to talk about? Perhaps the first move (we’d made many as military brats) without us awoke a new appreciation for her family? Your guess is as good as mine. The certainty here is that we quickly became allies and haven’t budged as such since.

Now flash WAY forward to 2:28pm, Friday, May 8, 2009. Evil Twin is currently on her way to Columbus (likely somewhere in West Virginia). Just her and Moose (Gabe’s little quasi Chihuahua cuz). She is strong, fierce, independent. She is recently separated.

Yes, Evil Twin feels as though she’s awoken from a blurry dream, many years long. Rather than crumble along with her marriage, though, she’s done something quite the opposite.

I don’t know what set the snowball rolling exactly; I could take an educated guess. I got a call from her one evening, and the rest was history. Within weeks she had asked for a separation (with inevitable divorce, as her husband’s behavior has only served to put any doubts to rest), found friends to stay with, then a room to sublet. Those first few nights I spoke with her, she was terrified and having difficulty imagining life without her husband. Well I knew she could. The whole family did. I mean, this is the girl who, during a high school trip to England, took a train from London to Ipswich BY HERSELF, then trekked across the moors on foot to reach the tiny hamlet and sturdy old home where my father had lived for a year as a child. But her state of mind was a testament to the power of influence from someone you think you love and you think loves you.

In the past couple of weeks, she’s been involved in volunteer work, taken an interest in Super 8 film and started a personal blog. She’s nurturing the few friends that were hers and hers alone (most had been mutual, if not just her husband’s), imagining up plans and inviting people along. She’s offered to be assistant director for a local production of Cabaret.

In short: Evil Twin is back.

I’m finally seeing the girl who planned to move to overseas with me (even if we never did it…), the girl who jumped in a car to drive to Canada with me because we had a couple of days to kill, the girl who had always imagined something greater for herself than becoming a housewife and hockey mom. Here is the girl who’s acceptance I always wanted and finally have (no kidding – the night she invited me out with her and bought me my first Milky Way Latte, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven). In truth, we’ve accepted each other, flaws and all, and have found we make quite the team.

Part of me, I think, has been waiting for this version of her to emerge (there have been temporary glimpses over the years, some of my favorite memories) as long as I’ve known her. It’s just a bit mind blowing to finally see her standing, in full color in my living room. She glows.

Yes, it’s painfully beautiful to see the real Evil Twin step forward. There are many things I’ve hoped for; and many times I’ve been heartbreakingly disappointed. So when something like this, something I’ve hoped for perhaps since I lay writhing in my sister’s lap 28 years ago, actually comes to fruition? Have you ever been so happy it hurts your chest a little? And you risk short-circuiting your keyboard with your stupid happy tears?

Well, you get the idea then.

~a

 

Severed Heads and CVS May 5, 2009

Filed under: life,thoughts,travel — curiouserx2 @ 8:03 pm
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Though the big move may be three and a half weeks out, my head is already kicked back on a beach chair with a big floppy hat pulled down over its eyes, and burrowing its toes into sun-warmed sand.

Sadly, and conflictingly, my body’s still tasked with TPS reports until June. But as my head seems to think we’re already beach bumming it, I haven’t been able to quell the urge to lighten my hair, purge the stormy-palette of Victorian-inspired garments from my closet and replace them with breezy brights and whites and ditch my heals for sandals. (Once unbridled, good luck getting your toes back into the bitter confines of vintage, 4-inch pumps).

Camera 1, Camera 2

Camera 1, Camera 2

Anyway, I’ve been sidetracked with the Other Blog (I’m considering kicking that one to the curb for lack of personality; how could I ever have strayed??) and the musical, so my apologies for the silence around here. I’ve also been getting the move to Wilmington organized, and in the midst of all of this: a bit of a surprise trip to London has landed in my lap. J’s sister is graduating in June, and while I knew J would be attending, I hadn’t expected to join him.

So – off I went today to get the dreaded task of passport photos out of the way during my lunch break. Possibly I should have realized this would be an ill-fated experience when the digital processing program rejected my first two attempts. The girl helping me apologized profusely. “It NEVER does this,” she assured me. That’s precisely when I should’ve turned and run, saved the chore for another day, when my hair would be less frizzy, my skin not so ravaged by stage makeup,  my visage not so lackluster as to be shot down by a COMPUTER. But no – we persevered, and round 3 proved acceptable to the computer. Five minutes later, that sucker coughed up a slip of 6 identical head-and-shoulders shots of yours truly.

Or so it would like you to believe.

Have you seen these kiosks? Big, hulking, dishwasher-sized units with a little computer touch screen perched on top? What exactly is going on in there? Just what is encased in that sputtering, clicking shell? My theory: some geek with Photoshop skillz and a cruel sense of humor. He gets your image file, de-saturates you to remove any signs of life, sharpens every fine line on your face thus aging you a good decade or two, texturizes your skin in some choice spots and scrawls in a few ruddy blemishes for good measure. Then pushes the “PRINT” button and awaits the carnage (seriously, because why else would it take 5 minutes for that thing to produce your printed pics?)

A replication of my passport photo (details may not be exact...)

A replication of my passport photo (details may not be exact...)

I spent the car ride home peaking up at the rearview mirror, trying to convince myself that, no, I do not in reality look like that, and, no, I was not allowed to pull into the next CVS and have the photos retaken. What’s done is done, and the important part is, these puppies are going to get me overseas for the first time in more than a decade. Take THAT photogeek!

Cheers!

~a