Tomorrow is Elderly Three-toothed Dog's Date with Destiny. (We met with our usual vet today, who ever so kindly and gently told me that there is no hope. We opted to take one more day with our Fine Fur Friend, with the help of meds for comfort.)
He had a quiet afternoon. He rolled in the grass - his favorite thing - and took a good nap on the couch, and then he had a few mouthfuls of pizza for dinner. All is well.
He has had a good life with us. And I am grateful for the time together.
Tiny Dog rests in Elderly Three-toothed Dog's bed while we wait one more night. (He feels much better, although his labwork is still not good.) If we are very lucky, he may be home tomorrow. I am not sure what the future holds, although I am currently confident that he is doing reasonably well and that I will see him again soon.
I try to think about how he has always been friendly and enjoys meeting new people. and that helps me to hope that he is not too worried or scared right now. Perhaps he is sleeping soundly.
All of the people at his regular vet's office think he is very endearing. Hopefully he is getting some consoling attention at the animal hospital too.
All day long, I have found myself listening for the jingle of his collar. I miss him.
I didn't want to call the animal hospital this morning, in case there was bad news about Elderly Three-toothed Dog, but I couldn't bear the thought of waiting for them to call me, either. So I picked up the phone.
He is doing well, with good vitals. Importantly, he ate breakfast "like a champ," informed the cheerful person on the line. Once they re-check his bloodwork, we will know when we can bring him home.
I am so glad that we have a little bit more time with him. He can sleep in his own nests, and bake his old bones on the patio with Tiny Dog. We will do whatever we can to make him comfortable, for as long as we have him with us.
Elderly three-toothed dog is ailing, and so we are visiting the weekend vet. Fortunately a new weekend vet has offices just a few miles from home. We are waiting for the results of his labwork now.
Let us hope that he is merely under the weather, and will perk up soon.
UPDATE 10:22 PM: Elderly three-toothed dog is entering kidney failure. Hopefully, 24 hours of IV fluids will help him flush out his system. We shall see. I had to leave him at the emergency animal hospital for overnight treatment, and it broke my heart. I'm not ready to say goodbye yet.
What if he dies without me?
My stoic and elderly fur friend. I hope we have a bit more time together.
I think of him, and the unthinkable, necessary decision to jump. And then I think of the others who also made that unthinkable, necessary, decision..
I think of the bystander and her anguished cry: "God! Save their souls! They're jumping! Oh, please God! Save their souls!"
The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me;
The cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.
We will carry the memory of these people with us, individually and in our collective conscious, until the end of time.
For Whoever will call on the name of the LORD will be saved. - Romans 10:13
And when he was called out on it, his "apology" was even worse than his previous action.
"It would never be my intention to touch any woman's breast....Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar."
Look at that language closely. He did not apologize directly to her, instead choosing to lump her in with "any woman" he wouldn't touch. He used hedging language, benign language: "Maybe.""Too friendly." Maybe: as if there were some doubt there. And friendly -- as if he had used too much of that positive attribute. Ridiculous.
I keep imagining what was going through her head - "does he really have his hand THERE?" And, as we have all been trained (whether deliberately or not), "How do I escape without escalating?" Because we never know how escalating will turn out. Do we risk putting ourselves in possibly greater danger? Do we risk "making a scene"? And self-doubt: what if we are overreacting? Because again, we tend to second-guess ourselves (and especially on national TV - surely such a thing wouldn't happen? At a funeral?! By a bishop?!) By the time she sped through the 80000 thoughts, it was over, leaving her feeling violated, likely criticizing herself for not reacting faster or differently.
I've seen it said: why didn't she punch him? That just puts the onus back on her to react in a way other people feel she should, instead of properly burdening him with behaving in the way he should.
This fills me with rage.
Even in this age of #metoo, there is still no paucity of men who will take advantage and then subsequently play the "I didn't know I did anything wrong" card. And plenty of people, too, will believe him over her. Why? Because he's a man of the cloth? Or because she wore a short dress? Justify, excuse, explain away. It's what is done.
This is one of the many excellent tracks on the Call It What It Is album. I have the CD in my car: it is a solid choice when the radio or Pandora is insufficient (or when there is no signal). In fact, on the long trip back from The Task, it was my only option as I drove through the mountain pass.
Unfortunately, for this reason the album is now intertwined in my head with The Task. I am trying to reclaim the music by listening to it in different settings. I found some of the tracks as acoustic versions on Youtube, and these renditions are just different enough that I can enjoy the music without any flashbacks to The Task.
Goobye to You is particularly heartrending when acoustic. It is, though, perhaps even more beautiful.
My parents continue to downsize their possessions as they have moved into a "senior living" facility. (They still have their independence, which they guard fiercely; yet they also have More Help nearby. It is a comfort to me, since I am 2,000 miles away and cannot be immediately on hand should they be in need.)
Mom asked me whether I'd like a bedspread and matching decorative pillow cases that they used to have in a guest room. She couldn't bear to just casually give them away, she said; she wanted to be sure that they went to a good home since she is so fond of them. I accepted her offer. I did not need them, for my house is Quite Full of all the things; nevertheless, I knew they were pretty, and I thought that it would somehow be a comfort to Mom, who is, despite a brave face, a bit sad about moving.
When I opened the box that arrived in the mail a week later, it contained not only the bedspread and pillow cases, but the scent of my parents' house.
Ah. I hadn't realized how much I've missed seeing them. I'll arrange a visit soon.
When Cherished Friend was here this past weekend, he brought some laundry. (I am glad he brings his laundry; I try to counterbalance the onus of the drive here by ensuring that he is well fed and has all the household amenities available to him. Besides, chores like laundry are always better if they are running in the background of something more more satisfying, such as a game of Scrabble.)
And as I walked through the laundry area to fetch something from the garage, there it was: the scent of his house.
Alas. It is always bittersweet to know he is here for only a short visit.
I occasionally joke that in the event of the Zombie Apocalypse, I will be one of the first people to die because I am not remotely visually observant: those Zombies would probably be able walk right up to me without me noticing until it was far too late. The truth is: I don't see things easily. I find it very difficult to identify the bird or airplane or lizard or whatever it is other people spot so quickly; I sometimes don't realize that things are right there in front of me. It's not a lack of vision (my eyes work fine with glasses) - it's a lack of seeing. I have always been this way.
It has occurred to me, though, that if the Apocalypse Zombies smelled (and likely they would -- what with that rotting deadness and all), I would in fact do extremely well. As clueless as I am to sights, I am extremely sensitive to scents.
I can smell all the small things. A single scent can dredge up memories from long ago, and I can recall exactly where I first encountered the smell: the soap in my grandparents' house in North Carolina; the biscuits at summer camp when I was eight; the aroma of the rental car when we went to Disney World; the shampoo I used in college.
I encounter all the little aromas on a daily basis, too. I know if there are bicycle tires or plastic lawn furniture for sale in a store as soon as I walk in. I can immediately discern when someone nearby has crossed from "pleasant musk" to "pungent armpit." Sometimes a smell alone -- raw onion, cocoa powder -- will give me a headache. And I am an expert at identifying when food begins to go bad.
I have always been this way. Furthermore, I like being this way, for all it takes is the echo of a scent to take me back -- to a moment, a person, a feeling of happiness. And when I catch such a scent, wherever it may be, I am comforted.
Old Dog, hard of hearing and sight, also relies on smell.
One thing that I have lost: the motivation -- or perhaps just the time and energy -- to dance, solely for the pleasure of it. I am working on finding it once more.
Let's begin with something popular, and far more suggestive than one might expect from a pop song: Despacito (Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee). With a little help from Google Translate, I have learned the flavor of the lyrics, and they are surprisingly... raunchy? Lascivious? Naughty? Oh, my.
Seems like a good place to start.
Despacito Quiero respirar tu cuello despacito Deja que te diga cosas al oído Para que te acuerdes si no estás conmigo Despacito Quiero desnudarte a besos despacito Firmo en las paredes de tu laberinto Y hacer de tu cuerpo todo un manuscrito (sube, sube, sube) (Sube, sube) Quiero ver bailar tu pelo Quiero ser tu ritmo Que le enseñes a mi boca Tus lugares favoritos (favoritos, favoritos baby) Déjame sobrepasar tus zonas de peligro Hasta provocar tus gritos Y que olvides tu apellido....
Cherished Friend visited us for the long weekend. It seemed like approximately a zillion years since we'd seen him in person. It's always a contentment to have him in the household, even when it is just for a few days.
On Saturday, he, Beloved Husband, and I went for a hike. It was everything I had ached for, for ages: hiking, outside, in the best of company. All worldly cares put away for a few hours. The view. The trees. The mountain. The insects, even. The rocks. The gathering clouds. All, lovely.
It is Good Days like those that highlight, for me, the terrible impact of preparing for The Task: the inability to spend any time doing what I enjoy; the cost to my relationships with those most important to me -- those whom I neglected, by failing to reach out as I normally do, or to pay sufficient attention to the things important to them. I regret my self-centeredness during that time. (Though. in truth, I am not sure that I could have accomplished The Task any other way.) I am still struggling a bit to find my footing even a month later, though it is improving, bit by bit. Back to work. Back to the regular household activities. One step at a time, one day at a time.
The seed needs the water Before it grows out of the ground But it just keeps on getting hard And the hunger more profound Well I know there can come tears from the eye But they may as well be in vain Even though I know these tears come with pain Even so And just the same Make it rain
Tonight's earworm: Cry Pretty (Carrie Underwood). You can pretty lie and say it's okay You can pretty smile and just walk away Pretty much fake your way through anything But you can't cry pretty
I like this song, because it is an honest acknowledgment that feelings, when out in the open, are not easy. Sometimes, though, the best thing we can do is to let a few tears flow. We feel better. And then we dry ourselves off, and keep going.
I have had a Dementor. Its origin is uncertain, though its presence has been clear. I am trying very hard to banish it. To help, I have been listening to the Harry Potter series on audiobook (Jim Dale version, always) yet again, because the books are consolation and enjoyment even in the midst of difficulty. I just finished the fourth book. One moment in particular struck me this time:
The morning after Harry's name has come out of the goblet of fire, he does not want to face the great hall for breakfast, and yet does not want to remain in the Gryffindor common room. As he exits through the portrait hole, he encounters Hermione; she has toast wrapped in a napkin, and suggests that they go for a walk. They do so, and talk about what has happened. She then provides ink, quill, and parchment so that Harry can notify Sirius of what has happened.
There is nothing complex about Hermione's actions -- and yet, they show the great depth of her love for her friend Harry. She anticipates what he does not want (to appear in the great hall), what he needs (food and conversation), and what would be most helpful for him (to write to his Godfather). She listens to him, supports him, and reassures him. It's simple, and lovely.
C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying: Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.Harry Potter would no doubt agree that his friendships give tremendous value to his survival: they ease his burden, and bring him joy. He is lucky to have the friends he does.
I would agree, too -- for I have drawn on strength gathered from time spent conversing with a friend, and am finally able to cast a patronus to protect myself against the Dementor. Lucky am I. And grateful.
We should all be so fortunate.
I love my friends neither with my heart nor with my mind. Just in case… Heart might stop. Mind can forget. I love them with my soul. Soul never stops or forgets.
I'm trying really hard, but it still seems like I'm still just going through the motions each day. (Which is OK, I suppose, as I find my new normal after The Task.) I feel as though everything I do is mediocre. I am a mediocre mother, mediocre wife, mediocre friend. I could do so much better.
Actually, perhaps right now, I cannot do any better.
My soul is tired, still.
My peoples -- have patience. Know that I love you, and that I will find my way back to how I would like to be.
I have lost mine: have you seen it?
It has been very difficult for me to find a regular schedule in this post-Task era. Because of the confluence of various circumstances and activities, I'd been working all day, every day and every evening, for nearly eight months straight by the time The Task was finished. Now I don't know what to do with myself. I don't really want to fold laundry or cook (although previously those were welcome diversions from work). I have read a couple of books, which were satisfactory; and started a few others that were less so. I have used my coloring books and played my piano. I have sat outside in the evening twilight, just because.
I don't know if I am sad, or just still drained, or both.
There might be more -- the minutiae of being pecked by one thousand ducks -- but I am Too Tired to parse or write about it.
I am currently listening to 80s and 90s hits on Pandora, and this cycled through. It especially appeals to me because it begins with the word "and" -- breaking a grammatical rule. Plus, it is a call to be seen and understood. And isn't that, ultimately, what we all want?
Today is the last day of my 50th year.
It's been a long year.
A year ago, I did not look forward to turning 50. It was such a dreaded milestone. And then, suddenly, there I was. And it was OK, in its own way.
Two-thirds of my 50th year was consumed by The Task - application, preparation, and The Task itself. By the time I receive the results, it will have been a full 11 months of time, that will forever be associated with 50. Let us hope that it, like 50, becomes a thing of the past.
This evening, as I sat alone with the small dogs on the back patio, I thought about goals for the year ahead. What will I do? What creative endeavors will I attempt? How much camping can I squeeze into the year? How will I tame the beast of loneliness that lurks in the corners?
How will I learn to handle with Grace, the Things over which I have no control? How do I meet the needs of others, without giving away too many pieces of myself in the process? How do I learn to ask for what I Need (and to care for myself when asking goes unanswered)? And how do I mold my soul to be as self-sufficient as possible? These seem like complex tasks. Yet, I have all the time in the world -- each and every day -- to figure it all out.
If I had only one birthday wish, though: what I want, most of all, is that the Offspring flourish in the upcoming year.
It's been ten days now since The Task was finished. Life has not yet returned to normal, though it is on the way. I have read two books for pleasure, played my piano, obtained Ruth the fish, and returned to work.
(Did I mention that I took a leave of absence from my employment to prepare for The Task? Work held down the fort for me while I was absent. It will benefit Work in the long run for me to have met The Task, provided that I am successful, so it was in everyone's best interest to help me accomplish the preparation needed for The Task.)
I still dream about The Task.
The first few nights were difficult: dreams that were flashbacks to the content of The Task, to questions and failures and unknowns. Time attenuates all things, though, and now the dreams are more factual. Less nauseating. This all shall pass, in due course.
I wondered how others who have faced The Task manage this post-Task phase. Upon my quiet inquiry, three different coworkers affirmed to me that they too had flashbacks to the Task for some time afterward. I feel better, knowing that we all can get beyond what needs to be done, and move forward.
I am still tired, physically and mentally. Need more aftercare.
My parents continue to downsize their possessions as they move house. I received a mysterious blanket in the mail. "It was your father's blanket from his carriage. I thought you should have it, since you are very much your father's daughter."
Perhaps it was unwise of me to schedule a mammogram for so close to the end of The Task; a bit more mental preparation time would have been helpful. Or perhaps it was actually good timing, as I had limited opportunity to contemplate the various unlikely-yet-terrible possibilities. Either way, it needed to be done, as I was slightly past the six-month mark for reevaluation.
The mammogram itself is Old Hat at this point; slightly disagreeable, but certainly tolerable in its brevity. The ultrasound is a bit more problematic, for it is lengthy and the physical pressure is really rather uncomfortable. Plus there is the difficulty of where to put my eyes: I can look at the little screen of the machine as the technician presses, types, clicks and clicks, and labels the images; or I can look away, lest the foggy black-and-white view give me a premature or false suggestion that there may in fact be a Problem.
I chose to look away. I will find out the results in a few days -- no need to guess at what I do not yet know.
I am once more rejoining society after The Task. The first stop: reconnecting with the people whom I have neglected while preparing for and undergoing The Task. I visited my lovely in-laws for lunch, had dinner with Beloved Husband and Offspring the First and Second, and spoke with Cherished Friend by Skype. Lovely.
How fortunate am I, to have these people as my People. They accepted my absence and my failure to look beyond my own needs during this difficult time, and kindly listened to my decompression when I returned, still reeling from the arduousness of The Task. Thanks to their help, I will be able to go back to Life As Usual in due course. I look forward to it.
I am on the road to recovering from The Task. It will take a while, to be sure: completing The Task was much like fighting a Dementor (or, perhaps, even like taking on He-who-must-not-be-named himself). I am drained and fatigued. I feel as though a part of my soul has been squashed. I cannot bear silence, and even solitude is tricky. Yet I am not good company right now.
Self-care continues: I purchased a new Blu-ray boxed set of all of the Harry Potter movies, as well as several junky novels. I perused my cookbooks and went to the grocery store. I pulled out additional piano music. And Offspring the Second came back from adventures in other parts of the world, and it is nice to see him, and he has good stories to tell.
Step by step, the flashbacks to The Task will dissipate, and Life will resume again -- until sometime in November, we will learn whether I was successful at The Task, or whether I must do battle again.
I have prepared the posts for this week, including this one, in advance: for this is the week of The Task. I will likely be going dark with all social media, and, in fact, with all communication with people outside. Focus is the name of the game.
Wish me luck, gentle readers, and think of me. I will be back after The Task is done.
While usually I like songs in particular because of their lyrics, I enjoy this one especially because of the energy of the performance. When I am flagging (as I am now, as The Task wears me thin), a little bit of energy is helpful.
Offspring the Third was extraordinarily brave today, getting an ingrown nail fixed. He has always been very pain sensitive, since he was a baby, so I knew this was difficult for him. He powered through, though, and now his toe will feel much better.
Yet in opinions look not always back,-- Your wake is nothing, mind the coming track; Leave what you've done for what you have to do; Don't be "consistent," but be simply true. ― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
Offspring the Third has been struggling a bit lately. Always tender of heart, he does not fare well when he feels that other people disrespect him or do not appreciate his efforts. And so I got him a small gift - a stainless steel heart - to remind him that he is loved and valued. It is, of course, anatomically correct, because he is a young Man, after all, and sentimental gifts should still be a wee bit Manly.
Do not let the coldness of the world or the callousness of other people bring you down, Offspring the Third. You brighten your corner of the world, whether you realize it or not.
My parents are downsizing, and periodically they send a box of miscellany from the family basement to me. It is like a little Christmas, every time -- what could it be in the box? I save them for Offspring the Third to open, because he enjoys opening packages, and surprises.
Today's package included a very special item: the blanked that my grandmother embroidered for my father, while she was pregnant with him. This was back in the 1930s. There is a lovely flowered border, surrounding a chubby, one-socked, blond baby. It is in excellent condition, given that it is over eighty years old now.
I have abandoned all efforts to do small things that I enjoy: cooking, playing the piano, reading for pleasure. Taking care of All The Minutiae. Sending care packages. Writing for pleasure. All is in abeyance, for now.
And I am OK with this, for now.
The Task weighs heavily. The best I can do now, for my own peace of mind, is to plug away at it, taking short breaks here and there to digest that day's preparations.
I've put all emotions on a shelf. I'll retrieve them later, when The Task is done.
It is fine.
I know that when I am finished, though, that I will be Very Tired.
Stay the course with me, my stalwart readers. We shall get there.
I am a bit at a loss, my stalwart readers. I am on the edge of being overwhelmed by The Task (though I hang on, by the skin of my teeth). I have wanted to write about several things that have been on my mind, but I have not had time, nor stamina, to do so. Alas.
Right now, if I could, I would write about a Possibility that might have been, but turned out not to be. Though it would have been lovely if the Possibility had in fact come to pass, it was best that an alternate path besides the Possibility was taken. I lack the fortitude at the moment to parse the matter fully - and besides, it was not my Possibility, and so it is not truly my story to tell (even though I would have derived happiness from the Possibility had it come to fruition). There is alternate happiness to be found in the different paths from the Possibility, though. We shall wait and see what the future brings, and hope for the very best, as always.
From Wikipedia: Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places, or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again. It can be described as an emptiness, like someone (e.g., one's children, parents, sibling, grandparents, friends, pets) or something (e.g., places, things one used to do in childhood, or other activities performed in the past) that should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence. It brings sad and happy feelings altogether, sadness for missing and happiness for having experienced the feeling.
NinjaHead resides with a muffin-baking woman known herein as Herself. Herself has a Beloved Husband, with whom she shares three nearly-grown Offspring. When she is not writing Things, Herself nurtures a visceral fondness for small furry creatures. The household menagerie, which has varied in size and composition over the years, presently contains a minuscule middle aged chihuahua and a most mild-mannered senior chihuahua. Someday, there will be more critters, for she loves them tremendously.