:: the girl, the bugs, and the skunk ::

4 Dec

So I’m pretty sure my neighbors think I’m nuts. Like, totally flipping insane. Last Winter and Spring, had they glanced out their windows after arriving home from a long day at the office, they would have seen a girl, hunched over enough to need a bell tower in Notre’ Dame, struggling to shuffle around a yard that’s, like, 100′ long x 10′ wide. I later advanced to actual walking, then yogging, then running, and then hip-hopping and lyrical dancing around the yard. Yep. There I would be, donning a surgical binder with dinner plate sized blood spots on the front and back, prancing through the crisp evening air like a loon. And then, if that weren’t odd enough, I’d do my stretching routine, which is basically like watching one of those super bendy chicks practicing for her job at Cirque du Soleil.

Today, however, as they sipped warm apple cider and glanced to view the City of Salem from their porch, they would have seen a grown woman wearing a shirt.woot shirt proclaiming that, “9 in 10 rainbows are illiterate” monkeying around the landscape with a glass cup in one hand and a tiny stick in the other. I spent several hours poking around the dirt and the leaves, lifting up rocks and logs, depositing my finds into a glass cup, and then scurrying back to Tempe’s habitat to humbly present her with my finds. She ruthlessly pounced on each juicy beetle, sow bug, worm, and slug with delighted enthusiasm. Some were rolled around in the dirt before being ingested, others made loud crunching noises and did not go quietly. When the catch included numerous black beetles, it was inevitable that she’d tip the dish over. It was like watching prisoners being freed from a jail, and I could almost hear them shouting cries of joy as they took off  in all directions. Watching them get pounced on and then eaten was probably as close as I’ll ever get to being able to watch the circle of life in action without bursting into tears.

So, yeah. In addition to bug hunting I also analyzed bug habits: which lived where, under what, moisture or dry earth?, territorial? symbiotic and likely to be found with another delicious skunk treat? I found that slugs like wet leaves, beetles like to live under rocks that are sort of just chillin’ on the ground but not those that are starting to grow metaphorical roots in the ground, sow bugs like wood (as do spiders), and worms, well…. they just like moist dirt. I took my findings, sculpted Tempe’s habitat to attract her favorite treats, and ended the day with a smile. Tempe, of course, needed a serious bath after digging several 30′ holes in the red clay mud. Awesome.

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:: a pet skunk named Temperance ::

2 Oct

The newest addition to the family has arrived:

A pet skunk named Temperance

:: unsettled ::

29 Sep

I felt this poem stirring in my head this evening. It’s more vague than much of my poetry, so in case the meaning isn’t obvious I’ll explain: In essence, it is about losing a friend, a loved one, a pet, whatever–someone whose presence you can still feel because of the connection that you once shared. It’s about the mourning process that happens as one must inevitably accept the loss as time moves forward and life moves onward.

Unsettled

Blades are bent, unsettled, still warm

from you. Sleeping, your body had shifted enough

to pluck the buds

from their green, four-pronged beds. I feel them

underneath tips of fingers, outstretched

to graze their crushed petals, only their edges having

browned. They hold a warmth clutched tightly

near their centers. Further disturbed, bent at sharp angles

like signs, blades

and stems alike point

towards your exit. Angles mark your steps sharper

as they recede from unsettled blades and this patch of earth

packed, its faint warmth felt by bare finger tips that hover above

buds. Brown creeps steadily forward along petals,

further curling as they expire.

:: the acceptance of reliance ::

27 Aug

My mom had spinal surgery on Wednesday (it’s now Saturday). I don’t think I was prepared for her to be so out of it and for it to be this tough on everyone. I was in denial about the complications that could arise–that or maybe I just didn’t allow my conscious mind to think about it.

I rely on my mom for just about everything. For the most part, she’s always been my entire support system. Even throughout different illnesses and surgeries, I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t count on her to help me through something within a day or two max. It’s mostly emotional support. The physical stuff I’ve been able to do on my own, though especially since my surgery there are many things I shouldn’t have done but did. The thing is that my reliance on her has kept me from counting on anyone else when it comes to difficulties in my life. It has allowed me to remain emotionally closed off, because no one else sees how much of a struggle life is for me at times, and during those rare times when someone does I never fully accept their help. This surgery, however, has forced me to change. It’s like God is throwing so much on my plate that I have no choice but to reach out to others, and in some ways fully rely on them. Ripley, for example, started having super watery poo on Tuesday, which was before the surgery had even happened. I finally took him to the vet yesterday after he starting pooing blood. I called Kristin in semi-hysterics and she even offered to come up and take Molly home with her for the week. It turns out that Ripley’s issue wasn’t infectious–he has ulcerative colitis from picking up on how stressed I was. The weird things is that I didn’t even realize I was stressed out back on Tuesday; it really is reason #4782 why my dogs know my emotions better than I do. But what I realized after being pushed to the point of not being able to do it all on my own is that I have an amazing support system of people in my life who care so much that they’re willing to stop everything they’re doing and go out of their way to help.

I called my cousin who brought her son over to the hospital. They stayed while JB went home to get some sleep. Her son even stayed overnight with JB. When I was there last night I had a total meltdown b/c the RN had to slap my mom’s face, yell at her, and shake her to even get her to open her eyes as she’d been in a semi-coma since Thursday. I couldn’t be strong anymore. I couldn’t pretend. Melanie reassured me that everything was okay, and I realized that it’s not just my mom who can hold me up and make me feel safe. I don’t like to accept how fragile my mind and body are. I have an extremely high IQ, I am self-sufficient in many ways, and I like to appear as though I have it all together. No one ever really knows how easy it is for my brain to just short out b/c the only person who sees it happening is my mom. There’s only so long one can keep up that charade, though. And when it comes right down to it, I think that people feel important when they know that someone trusts them enough to not only ask for help but also accept it when they give it. It has reached a point where I need to lessen my mom’s burden of having to worry about me constantly. I also need to lessen my own burden with regard to my constant worry about her. My mom always tells me that no one person can be everything to someone. Different friends have different strengths and weaknesses, and since no one is perfect, no one friend can be the best person to turn to in all instances. I’m learning that I can reach out to different people to help with different things, and when I do that I’m not having to ask one person to carry too big a burden. Melanie, for example, is great at making sure my mom is taken care of when I am gone, and I can trust that she will be tough-yet-compassionate, and capable of reassuring me that things will be okay. Kristin is an amazing get-‘er-done person who will go out of her way to lend physical support or listen to me vent. Jennifer helps me conspire, research, delve into the deeper things. Helena is my comedic relief, my partner in carrying out ridiculous plans and immature shenanigans–she’s the one who is great at distracting me from the stress in life. My brother is the rock that grounds me, offering wisdom in a blunt and honest way. Tyler gives me confidence in myself, understands illness, and forces me to be daring. Cathy and her family are unconditional, comforting, and kind. My uncles were ever present through it all–stopping by every day and not only reassuring us that all would be fine, but willing to drop everything to make sure that it is. There are so many other people that I could put on this list, as well. And all of these people, plus those many others, make me step back in awe at how smart they are and how much they have to teach me in their own ways. But to ask one person to be all of those things is unrealistic, yet it’s what my mom and I have both been relying on each other to do for years. The roots of our dependence on each other have grown so deep that it has taken a metaphorical life hurricane to uproot them and allow me to see that there’s another way–that I can rely on the strengths of the people in my life in a much less superficial way and even trust them to, in some instances, take better care of my mom–someone so precious to me–than I can. I’ve been craving a real learning experience ever since the one I had in the months following my surgery. This experience has finally reached a point where I can see why certain things happened. It’s like standing at a mountain peak and being able to trace the trail that it took to get there, and the times when it felt as though there was nothing but grief to be found on certain paths were actually integral parts of the journey.

It has become obvious to me that we have people who don’t just say that they care but who truly want to help, and when we’re open and honest about needing help they’re happy to be there for us. I feel so undeserving of such empathy, such amazing people, and such support.

It is hard to let people see me at my emotional worst–to allow them to see those things I keep hidden for fear of appearing weak and afraid in such a raw and emotional way. Letting my guard down, being forced to cry in front of someone, accepting help, and allowing them to show that they care about me is foreign. I know that the only way I would have allowed it to happen, to get to a point where I can see that it’s not so bad, is by standing at the edge of an abyss and realizing that the only way to keep from falling forward into the darkness is by reaching out and then fully grasping the hands that are there to pull me back. I’ve told my mom many times that she’s the only person who makes me feel completely safe–that if something were to happen to her I was afraid I’d short out, have no one to truly help me up, and end up in a loony bin. The notion of that happening causes a fear that runs so deep it haunts me when I sleep. What I’ve realized, though, is that there isn’t one person who can do all that she has done for me all of these years, but my group of loved ones are more than just people I enjoy being around and being there for–they’re a network of people that God has orchestrated to be there for me, too.

This experience, and what I’ve learned from it, has also given me a chance to get to know a much deeper part of these people–their hearts, the depth of their love for me, and those things that they really excel at doing. It makes me pause to wonder what people rely on me for–what strengths I have that I can offer to them in return. I’m finally learning how to feel safe while standing on my own two feet, figuring things out for myself, and doing those things that I can handle. Most importantly, I’m discovering the greatness to be found in accepting the help that’s waiting to be offered when I am brave enough to let go, place my trust in others who have placed their trust in me, and reach my hand out with the certainty that someone will be there to grasp it in the dark.

{In writing the above I realize that the metaphor is exactly like a scene from a movie that I believe to be the greatest cinematic romance of all time}

Protected: :: what i’ve learned from craigslist m4w dudes ::

30 Jul

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:: how a former rock-dweller crashed and burned at modern flirtation ::

29 Jun

Today I feel the need to share an awesome story about how awesome I can be.

So there is a dude who works at the PT place that I go to for body fixin’. We do this twice-weekly quasi-flirting thing that started the first day that I was there (roughly 4 weeks ago), and that basically consists of me pretending like he doesn’t exist and him pretending like the reason he walked back and forth across my side of the room 40 times while staring at me is because…. well…. I haven’t figured that one out yet. The problem is that my come-hither looks, given subtly out of the corner of my eye and directed more at the wall than at him, are far too vague to mean anything to him. Unfortunately, I am so used to thinking that I look like a Yeti that I forget that I actually don’t, but that Yeti-voice keeps me from being any more direct.

Today, however, I could no longer pretend like he didn’t exist unless I wanted to be really, really rude. And weird. Yep! You guessed it (or maybe you didn’t). Therapy dude was the one who helped me with my pre-therapy exercise stuff. I should have known that it might happen, but prepared I was not. He actually looked me in the eye when he said “hello” this time, and I managed to keep it together well enough to look like a semi-normal person instead of a 27-year old woman with the apparent smoothness of someone bodysurfing naked down a jagged, broken-glass covered hillside. I got started on the arm bike thing and he sort of lingered around behind me, but I was too busy pretending like I didn’t see him to think of anything intelligent to say. So instead I stared out the window and sort of hummed along to a Cee-Lo song. After the strength-band exercises he had me do these “W-V” motions with my arms and then he showed me a new way of doing the “T-W-I” motions, but the moronic cheerleader in me can’t do an arm motion and not put my arms back at my outer thighs, so I was struggling with it. He started laughing and told me to just do each separately, to which I stuttered, “I’m usually more coordinated. It must be too early in the morning for my brain to work or something.”

Yeah. I thought up that gem all on my own.

The real doozy, however, came when he finally decided to strike up a conversation, and that went something like this:

Mega-Hottie: “So do you have any fun 4th of July plans?”

Me: “Noooo. {pause} I’m probably just going to clean out the garage.”

Yes, folks. I said that. And then I recovered slightly by explaining that I’d probably also set up the pool in the backyard and we talked about pool stuff as he directed me into the treatment room he’d set up for me. So then, after treatment, he came in to take off the zapper things and when he directed me to sit up I couldn’t because my shiny new abs are too weak from having never been used, plus they still hurt when I flex them at all, so I had to do this ultra-awesome roll-over onto my side and then hoist myself up which probably looked like an injured water buffalo trying to claw itself out of a ravine. So it was definitely two-for-two at that point and I explained that I had 900 permanent sutures holding my abs together and still couldn’t sit up like a normal person which actually worked out well because then he told me about a hellacious orthopedic surgery he’d had that lasted, like, 14 hours. So we had the major surgery thing in common and sort of jabbered about that and he told me about how he’d bet the nurse that he could count to 10 when they were putting him out and how he made it to, like, two, and then I was all brilliant and said, “Well at least you didn’t bet money on it.” Aaaaaahhhhh!!!!!! Cheese and Rice, Erin!!!!! Really?!?! Of all of the clever things in the world to say, that is what I came up with.

So then I got back to work and I called my mom to tell her about my convo with therapy dude and that I was super smooth and sounded like a friendless moron who is also probably a hoarder. Yeah. Totally awesome. Not that anything will ever happen with him…. or that I’m even interesting in him in that way…. that’s not the point…. the point is that I’m so not used to the whole flirting thing that I totally blow it when the opportunity arises. I clam up and care so much about what some random dude thinks that I miss the chance to be the great person that I already am. And that, my friends, is what happens when you have been living under a rock for the past 27 years. The good news is that he seemed to be genuinely interested in my lame pool stories. Awesome.

:: doom puppy gets a haircut ::

26 Jun

For the past 4.5 years I have been grooming Doom Puppy myself. Actually, I groom both of them, but Love Puppy’s hair isn’t so much cut as it is sheared like a sheep and sometimes I joke about spinning his hair into yarn and making a hat out of it, but to be honest I’m not really joking and I’ll probably make a hat and perhaps mittens and a scarf at some point. And then when people are like, “Nice scarf! Alpaca?” I’ll be like, “Thanks! It’s dog.” And they’ll be totally creeped out, which is awesome and will make me giggle.

Anyways. So the lady my mom has sent Ali to for years now (Ali is her 9 pound Maltese) gave me her very first set of clippers, and I actually had to fight back the tears because it was so touching. A couple of months have gone by, and I’ve been too scared to use them, plus it’s been cold out and I figured that Doom Puppy needed the hair since it’s Oregon and those bastard clouds just keep rolling in even though it’s June and people who live someplace other than Dodge are wearing t-shirts. But now it’s hotspot season, so on the rare warm-and-glorious day I think that moisture gets trapped under the hair on her head or something and then she gets a hot spot and is miserable and tries to eat Love Puppy multiple times a day.

So I armed myself with Old Reliable (the clippers) and a #7 blade and stopped by a local pet supply store to pick up some clipper supplies, but both employees were new and neither really knew much about animals and when I asked if they had clipper oil they thought I was talking about something for dog nails and in the end I just looked around by myself until I realized that they had an entire wall of grooming brushes but nothing for clippers. So then I left and I was totally berating myself for having spent that entire Saturday morning researching new hairstyles since the surgery ruined my hair and I am pretty sure that at least half of it needs to go. So then I called my mom, and the conversation went like this:

Mom: {some sort of nice, sweet greeting}

Me: {whining} “I feel like I’m having an ineffective day because I didn’t do much this morning and now it’s late and they don’t have clipper oil and I can’t clip the dogs like I was planning to do.” (I had to repeat this twice as, apparently, the first time was too fast and whiny to be audible)

Mom: {something about me just taking care of the dogs and not clipping them today and then doing something constructive but sort of relaxing at home since I’ve had a really insane couple of weeks and probably need the rest}

Me: “Yeah. That sounds okay. I’ll just go take care of the dogs and then stop by the store and I’ll be right home.”

So, naturally, I stopped by another pet store, but that store was closed, and then I had an epiphany and went to Sally’s Beauty Supply. To my delight they had oil and coolant spray AND they had blade guards, so I asked the store clerk a few clipper-related questions and made a bee-line for the office. When I got there I took the dogs out and then cooed to Doom Puppy that she would feel a lot better after we were done. It turns out that the blade guards didn’t fit the blades, but at that point I was determined and decided that the #7 would have to do on its own even if she ended up looking like one of those hairless dogs who shake a lot and are actually cute in a weird way. Doom Pup was surprisingly awesome about the whole thing until we got to her legs and her head. At that point she threw her body around on the counter and I felt like a swine wrangler trying to hold down a stubborn sow, all the while wielding clippers and attempting to do a reasonable job. Then, when I tried to change the blade to a smaller one for her face, I panicked and thought I’d broken the clippers but really I had just failed to snap the blade in all of the way. But yeah…. all-in-all she was totally awesome and there wasn’t any blood and even though her left side looks better than her right side I told her that the learning curve is a harsh judge indeed but that it’ll all even out in a few days. I think she feels better, though slightly naked and vulnerable, and now every time I walk towards her to pick her up she cowers down and looks at me like, “Dear God! No more scary clippers!” and it makes me wish I’d given up eating for the week to pay the groomer $40 so that they could be associated with the scary clippers instead of me.

Love Puppy, not to be left out, also got a bit of a trim and I shaved a chunk of hair off of the back of his neck where the halter clip connects since it keeps snagging on his hair and when it does he throws himself on the ground and looks at me like he has found the hole that he wants to die in and I should just leave him there so the vultures can finish the job. It’s actually the same thing that he does when he has a twig stuck in his hair and needs me to remove it as he’s sure that the twig is really a felled redwood tree and he can’t possibly move until it is gone. He’s quite dramatic like that. And then, because the halter-hair-snag thing happens while we’re out walking, people look at me like I have the compassion of a serial killer because I ignore him and keep on walking until he gets tired of being dragged along and forgets about the whole thing within a matter of seconds.

And that is the story of how Doom Puppy got her first clipper haircut and also a few random things about Love Puppy just because, of course!, the universe revolves around their love for E.L.P. As promised, I will be stopping by the store today to grab Molly a new squeaky (aka one of those doggy stuffed animals, since she felt the need to perform squeaker-removal surgery on the last one, which made her incredibly depressed after she realized that her baby no longer made awesome noises). In the future, as was recommended to me by a friend and also my brother who chimed in about himself having been trained to like clippers via lunchmeat bribes, I will be giving Doom Puppy lunchmeat instead of her special molasses training treats so that she will (hopefully) continue to love me and I won’t have to give up eating in order to pay someone to do my dirty work.

Disclaimer: Though the photo indicates that she does, Doom Puppy does not really have elephantiasis paws.