Rule Breaking

non-branded junk food, like fries a cheeseburger and a soda. Not even I diet soda!

I’ve been feeling hungry most of the afternoon. I want to clarify that this is a completely unrighteous hunger. I ate cereal for breakfast, a muffin top for elevensies, then had a proper lunch with two sides.

Unrighteous is truth. I tried to keep this phantom hunger at bay, first by working, then by drinking tea with fake sweetener and then by watching cute puppies on the internet. No good. I started gnawing at the inside of my cheek. I looked up and the clock said quitting time. I was out the door, looking forward to a healthy and satiating dinner. Then, it hit me.

The Beast needs food.

I punched myself in the head for blowing the task off this weekend. Punching made me less hungry for a second. Anyway, I literally drove by the dogfood store on Sunday after the dog park, but found no convenient parking. I couldn’t imagine success in trying to balance the insane 78 pound dog on one arm and a 35 pound bag of kibble in the other. I drove home. Now I am very sorry. Very sorry. And not less hungry. Maybe more hungry. I swallow reflexively.

My desperate mind races to the bottom of the food storage container. Even if I could scrape a scant dinner from the depths of his echoing bin, there would be nothing for tomorrow morning. That’s it. I have to buy dog food. I am without another choice.

I am feeling even more hungry. My stomach is eating itself. Not really, but the unrighteous hunger is unrelenting as I try to push it aside. Instead of going home and digging up some dinner, I need to hop in the car and drive to the store.

Now I’m thinking about what I can eat in the way to the dog food store. I don’t want to wait. I want to have something salty or sweet, or sweet and salty. I’m thinking of burger toppings. I’m thinking of filling up at a drive-thru.

Arrggh! I remember that it’s not food if arrives in the window of your car.  And I’d be breaking a bunch of other food rules, like only eating junk food that I make and only eating at a table. My steering wheel is not a table. And I already said muffin-top in the third sentence here, that’s as close as I want to be.

I start thinking about responsibilities. I call up those days–usually a sunny and warm day–when I get in my car and feel like I just want to drive. And drive. Drive right out of town. Maybe to the beach.

I want to roll down the windows and turn up the radio and sing as loud as I can. So loud that other motorists turn to see where the caterwauling is from. And I just laugh and sing even louder and with even more “feeling.” I don’t know where I’d go, but I’d go.

I’m at the train station. I walk out of the car to the platform. It’s sunny, but end of the day sunny with long shadows suggesting not much sun left. I’m wearing a coat and pull it a bit closer. It’s not that warm, either. I ride down the escalator and amble to the turnstile. I flash my pass and the gates open in front of me.

I’m not that hungry. I bet that The Beast is way hungrier than me. I near the house and see the car on the street. I can be back with the goods in a quick twenty minutes. A business walk and then just a few more minutes to get my plate on. I can hold out. And I can feel righteous in my choices.

My real dinner. Not junk. And Satisfying.
My real dinner. Not junk. And Satisfying.

 

ESCAPE!!

So for today, all I can do at this point is say, my dog ran away twice.

The second time was in a sleeting squall. I chased him up and down the side of the train. The nice man who called found me at the metro police where we aren’t allowed and gave me back the collar that he found in his hand when The Beast wrested away. Very nice man, by the way. He had nothing to be sorry about. He is my hero.

I took the collar with a pathetically perfunctory thanks–he deserved gushes of praise–and pulled my hood over my rain splattered glasses so I could walk into the wind to the train and maybe spy him.

I was screaming The Beast’s name in as cheery a way as I could. I bet it was bad. But I sprinkled the word “cookie” every second or third word in case a familiar sound would make it through the gale.

I found him on the bridge over the train–where I expected him. He was in the street, though. Not my expectation. I chased him from one side of the overpass to the other, cooing treats. I really had none, but he wasn’t listening anyway. Per expectations.

Cars were stopping and cautiously going around. He came toward me and I was able to grab the generous folds of his hound dog neck. He’s so lean, I’m grateful for his necklace.

He was tired from his chase with the train. I think that he ran one up, one down and another up. Could have been more. Actually, likely was more.

I’m standing in the middle of the road trying to get his collar on. I have only one hand to do it, since the other is full of neck. I spy a chicken bone on the street, next to the jersey wall that protects pedestrians but is currently serving the role of blocking us from the sidewalk and forcing us into oncoming traffic.

I pick up the chicken bone with my free-ish hand, the one with the collar I can’t quite get over his nose. I pause for less than a blink and offer the bone. He takes it and I collar him. I pray he doesn’t choke on a splinter, but it was all I had.

Miraculously, as in a gift from heaven, nobody is honking. Everybody stops or drives slowly as we stagger our way back across the lanes of traffic. I have my right  wrist inside of the loop of his martingale collar and my left hand outside the loop holding for dear life. Or maybe fear life. I realize the rain is still pelting us, and we go back to our illegal parking spot.

The Beast doesn’t hesitate when I lift the hatch. He jumps in. We drive along the hateful tracks. I don’t know why he hates the train but I know I hate that he hates it. I call the Nice Man and tell him we’re safe. I babble my gratitude. I hope he forgives us.

I park in front of the house and leave The Beast in the car. Taking no chances, I grab his training collar and his leash. I get in the backseat to clip it on. Wasn’t opening the hatch until I knew he was under lock.

He didn’t bolt. He looked toward the train tracks and shook his head. Maybe he was trying to get out of the collar. Maybe he was just shaking off the sleet. He doesn’t like the wet cold. We went in the house, and I gave him a cookie.

We’re drying off now. I’m beyond even wanting a whiskey.

So that’s my excuse for not writing a real post today. I’m just being contemporaneous. And done.

Eau de Toilette

Mint tea. And a sprig of mint.

So before, when I was having chemo, some days–some days at a time, to be honest–I would feel like I had to throw up. They call it a “side-effect.”

Now, let me be super clear. Feeling like you are going to puke, even for hours, even for days, is much better than being dead. So, my statement above is just conveying a fact. I am NOT complaining. [Please note if there are any cancer gods reading this, I am super grateful. This is not a post about tweaking you all. You did great by me!]

So that clarified, feeling like the contents of your stomach will soon be leaving via an overpass from your mouth is not great. It stops you from eating. It stops you from talking. It encourages you to roll up in as little a ball as you can, and to sit very, very quietly because you believe that if you move it would cause the volcano inside you to erupt.

There’s a difference between feeling like you have to barf when you’re hungover, for example, and feeling like you have to barf because of chemo. If you’re hungover and you let it go, you almost always feel better. Nausea gone. Eat a hotdog and drink a fountain coke and be on with your day. With chemo-induced queasiness, there is no such relief. You just feel like crap. Always. Seriously, so much better to have had too much whiskey last night. And for those of you keeping score at home, I can’t tell you how this compares to pregnancy-induced nausea. I feel quite blessed by that ignorance, thank you very much.

So here I am, curled up like my own little Poké Ball, giving a whole new meaning to Squirtle. Someone gifted me a handfull of a fluffy white bear. Let me tell you, new fluffy stuffed animals are amazing and surprisingly comforting. Anyway, holding that bear close, next to my chest,  under my chin and not moving a single muscle seemed to help keep the upchuck at bay.

I couldn’t drink it, but the smell of peppermint tea improved my stomach roils by orders of magnitude. I soon recognized that making tea that I couldn’t drink was less effective than just holding the peppermint tea bag directly in my nostrils. That was crazy effective. Summing up, if I didn’t move a muscle, held the fluffy stuffed bear under my chin and breathed in the tea bag, I was fine. I could fall asleep, which despite the chemo-exhaustion was blocked by feeling wretched or that I might just retch.

I could reuse that teabag for a few pre-snoozing sessions, but I manhandled my way through the box of Twinings Peppermint Tea. Gah!

“Doc,” said the boys, “you need anything?” Normally, there wasn’t much that they could do, but today, but today! I had a mission.

Almost before I could say, “Can you go up to the drugstore and get me some peppermint tea bags?” they were off.

I sat waiting with my legs tucked underneath me, perched on the arm of the couch. The dog-beast assumed his nurse’s position just on top of my feet. I was vewy vewy still, keeping the bear pressed to my breastbone awaiting their return.

They had gone to the drugstore to find no peppermint tea. Undaunted, they braved the late December cold five more blocks to the organic market. Surely there would be peppermint tea in the hippie-haven. They found many organic options including loose tea by the scoop. Pushing on, they rifled through boxes and boxes of rosehips, camomile, zingers–red and yellow, sleepytime, berry, ginger latte, revive, pomegranate pizazz, I<3Lemon, grateful heart, peach tranquility and citrus lavender sage herbal tea. There might have been more. There were more.

The voila! moment came when they ferreted the Candy Cane. It wasn’t pure mint, but, it seemed to them close to mission fulfilling.

They brought the tea home in a bag and with the story of their explore. When they took the plastic wrap off the box and handed me a fresh bag, I can tell you honestly that nothing ever before was that effective in quelling my quease. I propped the bag under my nose, squeezed the bear and sniffed deeply.

What nice boys. What a fluffy bear. What a scent. What a relief.

I had been told to not eat my favorite foods during chemotherapy. The association of those foods with nausea ruins a good relationship. I skipped some of my comfort foods so that they could comfort me into the future. Fortunately dark chocolate with hazelnuts was not spoiled. And, fortunately, I can still enjoy peppermint tea. Like I did tonight when it delivered this memory via it’s perfumed aroma.

 

Blighted Bud

earbuds

Open office spaces are very au courant. They are all about collaboration and breaking down hierarchies, but they end up being insulating. Because headphones.

You walk up and start “collaborating” to a colleague with their face in a computer screen. No response. You say their name. No response. You say their name louder. No response. You tentatively tap their shoulder, like some creeper. The colleague jumps out of their chair while pulling at the string around their neck to pull the bud out of their ear. Then they profusely apologize as you interrupt with your own set of “sorries.”

Meanwhile the person in close quarters NOT wearing headphones is totally disturbed and now reaches in their desk for something to plug into their speakerboxx thereby closing themselves off from the collaboration.

It’s worse than that.

I’m walking The Dog. It’s stunningly beautiful–sunny and warm. We stop frequently and at length so he can smell the hell out of every last blade of grass and dandelion to be. I spy a guy with a dog a block down. Those of you who are not dogwalkers may not realize that you must be ever vigilant for other creatures–squirrels, cats, birds, skateboards, baby carriages and dogs–just in case someone decides to bolt. You work to get the attention of The Dog as you choke up on the leash preparing for a burst of muscle that taxes your own.

As the guy approaches, The Dog notices the other. I’m prepped. The guy gets closer and asks me, “Is this your dog?”

Odd, but I’m like, “Well, yeah, I’m walking him.” I’m thinking he’s wondering if The Dog is friendly. We are close to the physical rendezvous, and he leans away a little as his dog with his waggy tail tries to make contact.

Guy is looking straight at me, and I start to tell him that The Dog is friendly. He abruptly waves me aside while telling me, “I’m on the phone.” I hear him say something about being “right in front of your house. I thought he got away. Where should I go?” He hadn’t been talking to me at all. He was asking somebody else about a dog. I didn’t see the telltale cord, but, as I dragged The Dog past, I saw his earbuds. I hope he reunited the other dog with his family.

He was disconnected from our false encounter while making a connection somewhere else.

There’s a great outside service window at the local watering hole, restaurant and grill. I perched on a stool at the smoothed concrete bar because the billowing smoker beckoned me to beer and BBQ.

A woman asked me if the seat next to me was available and settled in. She left the menu alone and began flipping through on her phone. I turned to the friendly people on my right who were downright hysterical pontificating on the different styles of sauce, bracket deadlines and other trivial matters.

The bartender approached the phone clutching patron for her order. The woman was unresponsive. Bartender looks at me to make sure that she was in fact making sounds when she was speaking. I indicated that she indeed was. We shared the moment of realization that you couldn’t hear if you were wearing headphones. Again, the headphones. Self-isolation from the surrounding conviviality.

The woman looked at the bartender and pulled out the bud. She ordered a house white. Then she put the earpiece back in and went back into herself. A few minutes later I heard her emotionally asking her phone, “Is that how you are treating me?” She was talking to someone who wasn’t there.

I didn’t want to eavesdrop on her pain. The conversation must have ended because she stopped talking. She kept flipping. I wish she took out the noise-cancelling and secluding earphones. I wish that she could have joined in the moment that was around her. Mostly, I wish she’s going to be okay since I somehow connected with her even though she doesn’t know.

Brown + Dog

Great big super scary UPS truck

Who is it that says dogs are colorblind? They are very wrong. My dog most definitely knows the color brown.

This I know because he desperately hates the UPS truck. And its denizens. (sorry drivers!)

This I know because whenever he sees a UPS truck he yells at it. Loudly. At the top of his lungs, and, totally, by the way, at the top of my patience.

The truck rolls down our street, he furiously barks.

It stops and delivers Zuilly or Zappos or Amazon across the street. He goes off.

And, sorry and so sad and so very wrong, when a poor driver has to come up on our porch for our delivery. Super sorry, since I’m a very active Amazon Prime member. Poor driver endures shock and awe from the red-coated full-throated beast. Really, I am sorry. Really. I am.

Total hate from our sweet oversized over-bellowed hound.

In our house it’s awful. So awful that would yell at him to shut the eff up. Where “eff” is a very different word, but Loyal Reader, I don’t want to say this word in front of you.

I did some research and found that when I was yelling AT him to shut up, he thought that I was yelling WITH him. What? So I’m screaming at him to shut up and he’s like, YEAH! We are getting those muthafuckas to leave us alone.

Dear Lord, what have I begot?

Next round. He yells at the UPS driver and gets all physical. He knocks over all the flowers, and I see that all the pillows are on the floor. He’s on the couch standing in kill stance. YELLING at the top of his lungs and throat and whatever else a hound dog has. Trust me, it is loud. No. Seriously. LOUD.

So I walk up and grab his collar and say in a whisper, “This is not your job. Leave it.” And I repeat this about twenty million gazillion billion times, always in a whisper. [while in my head I am screaming YOU STUPID SHIT DOG SHUT THE FUCK UP, but he never hears this. He just hears the gentle whisper.]

“This is not your job. Leave it.”

And I drag his 85 pounds of muscle ass off of the couch where he is in total KILL mode. That means that all four of his strong-ass legs are planted strong, that his tail is rocket straight, that his muzzle is pointed and strained toward the perceived [totally wrongly because there is no threat] danger.

As I drag him by his collar he pulls back to the bullshit threat. Bullshit because there IS NO THREAT. But, because he is still doing his job since he is the dog in the house, I continue to whisper to him the alternative. [Whispering is getting increasingly difficult, if you couldn’t figure that out on your own. Just saying.]

He fights me for the effort that it takes for me to pull him off–and this is a SIGNIFICANT effort. I don’t go to the gym because I build super-body-strength since I am pulling this freak around. Maybe I should thank him. Or give him a doggie-treat.

Anyway, he pulls back so he can alert from his spot looking out the window. He is up on the couch. He is protecting us all. Standing on the couch gives this big dog another couple feet. So he’s at about five-feet at the snout, and he’s at full yell.

I’m pulling him off the couch, [pretending to] always whispering, but, frankly, if that stupid effin’ dog knocks me over [again!!] I will likely maybe lose my shit.

I’m pulling him off the couch with all my weak-strength and all the time gently whispering that it’s not his fukcing job and walking him away from the window and, then, magically, when we walk into the next room he suddenly becomes complacent.

What?

I walk him toward the bathroom, and as I get closer he knows that he needs to go to a place and pull himself together.

We call it “Puppy Time Out.”

I escort him, at this point easily, to the bathroom and put him inside. I tell him to chill out.

And, he does.

Seriously. This dog is smart. He knows that once I gather my strength and pull him off the couch it’s over. Totally over. And he needs to pull himself together. And sit pretty. It’s over. And the damn truck will be gone. And he will sit, like a little dream whip, in a little ball, on the couch.

“Stop, Doc!,” you say. “So why does this indicate color awareness??”

When he sees someone on the street [i could do an entire separate series of his street insanity] wearing a boxy brown jacket, he wants to do great bodily harm to him.

I know this because my arms are much longer than they were the day before we saw that poor man standing on the other side of the street with his brown HH or North Face or whatever brown coat with a hood.  I was frantically holding that mass of dog-muscle away from the guy with the brown jacket as he was punished via very loud and vicious-sounding barking. I was so embarrassed. If the guy was wearing a blue or red or green or khaki jacket, no yelling.

[But if he was wearing a church lady hat, all bets off. The dog hates hats, too. That is another post.]

I don’t get this. Like at all. But I love my crazy red dog.

Fairy Tail

sleeping dog

The dog is such a princess.

An eighty-five pound, 38 inches tall, deer-legged, red, short-haired, long-eared princess.

The past few days have been exhausting in the “doing his business” category. He needs to find just the right spot.

The ground’s been covered in snow, outside of a path in the center of the sidewalk and the plowed strip in the street. Somehow he knows that under those twenty-three inches of snow is sidewalk and not grass. He is obviously very picky about going only on organic matter. He’s like the princess, and the pee.

Sorry, dad joke.

Dog Parks

A dog train of butt sniffing. At the dog park.

Not all dog parks are the same.

Well, they have some things in common. Like they are fenced. And you can let your dog loose.

They also have lots of differences. Some are big. Some are small. Some have trees. Some have grass. Some gravel. Some have water, others are BYOB. Some have separate areas for small and large dogs. Some have canvas hung for shade. Some have agility toys. Some are barren. One sits on top of a subway grate–freaks the pups out until they get used to the random swoosh from underground.

And they each have their own society.

There is one that there are never any dogs at. Seriously. Never. It’s huge. And empty. Like post-Chernobyl empty. Not much fun.

There is the dog park with a bunch of young women who pay no attention to their dogs while engrossed in their phones. They are especially not paying attention when their dogs are being aggressive. Swipe left.

There is a park where the old lady comes in with her standard poodle who is totally out of control. As she enters, there is an exodus of other dog owners because her dog has a tendency to try and bite the other dogs. She doesn’t recognize this tendency herself.

There is the park where folks are very snooty about their animals. They look down on the mutts and are disturbed by the sweet pittie mixes. They have that standoffish saluki or that jumping clicking Basenji or other rare dogs that cost many dollars. They saw these dogs in a movie or a magazine. Or they had one growing up. At this park it’s always your fault–even when nothing happened.

There is the park where the dog owners bring brownies. You come in and people smile and say, “hi,” as their dog sniffs your dogs hindquarters. Everybody knows everybody else’s dogs’ names and how old they are and which dogs are buds. The people, though, are unnamed. Nobody asks what you do for a living. Nobody. This might be the only place in Washington, D.C. that you are not asked what you do.

There aren’t always brownies, or maybe there never were brownies, but it sure feels like brownies.

[made it. day2]

Annonymous

Such a cute mottled working dog.
Cute on the dog, dumb on the girl.

My eyelashes are filling back in. I never lost them all. There were a few that stubbornly stood by and supported me as I vainly (both in conceit and in futility) worked the mascara wand. Now those soldiers have fresh recruits.

I ran in the local market because I needed peppercorns for a recipe and saw a friend picking up a last minute corn-bread mix. She said she didn’t recognize me in my red-head hat, which I pulled off showing my ‘do to her widening-eyes. She remembers me with long blonde locks.

My hair is coming in, too. It’s thick and soft like moss, and dark and light in patches that look really cool close-cropped but may make me look like a crazed Australian shepherd as it grows out.

A colleague walked by me without recognition–three times. Even after I tapped his arm.

I am seeing the world the same as it ever was, but others are not seeing me in the same world.

Am I moving on too fast? Are the people around me trying to tell me something? Am I missing some important meaning?

My hair is showing itself to be curly–and unruly at that. I see some of it sticking up and out. I don’t think that I have any product that can tame it.

Spring has finally broken through. After three miserable weeks of Sunday-Monday snow in a row, it looks like the bad weather is behind us. Today was glorious. Stuff all a-bloom, the sunshine warm and welcome. I decided to go to the driving range rather than watch golf on TV.

ugly golf shoes, crazy shadow and 9 iron

I had a new obnoxiously aqua/turquoise golf-skirt to wear with my bright lime shirt and joker shoes to satisfy my personal rule that golf clothes must be ugly. I went to my urban golf hideout with my 9-iron.

I’m always a lousy golfer, but I wasn’t even sure that I could swing my club. I got a little bucket of balls.

I stood on my little square of green carpet. It was crowded so I had to take the stall without a tee. That seemed good. Less pressure. I just had the one club with me, and I took it in two hands and stretched it over my head and behind my back. Rolled a ball onto my plot and set my feet. Placed the club across my left palm and met it with my right hand. Looked at that white dimpled ball and wondered if everyone was looking at me.

Seriously. I did. Like everyone knew my secret–as if I had a secret.

Why would anyone look? They had their own balls to hit. Their own grips to adjust. Their own club to blame for that slice. What was curbing me?

I thought the strangers could see me and knew that this was my first swing since my treatment.

But they weren’t looking. They didn’t see me either, but they didn’t know who I was before.

People ask me what I am going to do with my hair. Keep it short? Grow it out? I don’t know. I don’t know what it will be like. I don’t need to decide today.

I do know that I am grateful that it is coming back. And for alot of other things, too.

Baaack (again)

I thought I might blog over on another platform, but it just seemed disconnected from my thinkings. I thought about starting a new blog, but I liked this old one. So, I thought that I would just write here, again.

I wanted to write again because I haven’t written from my own voice on my own things for a really long time.

I really enjoyed being the Doctor of Thinkology and just thinking about things. I stopped writing here when I started up a professional blog. I just couldn’t keep up two blogs. That other blog was a good blog. I liked the analysis and writing, and it helped me out professionally. But then I switched jobs and had a conflict with that blog. So, I pretty much stopped writing.

So, now, to catch you up, the the 16-year-old in this post is now 22.  And the 11-year-old here is now 19. I think I will rename them Big Guy and Little Guy. Which is not reflective of their sizes. Also, this sweet pup has left us but we have brought another into our home. Oh, and one more catch up thing. I got cancer. Guess that really explains why I’m back.

Giving Thanks

boys walking

I have been quite a laggard in postings. My apologies to my loyal reader. As the turkey roasts, I am thinking about the thanks I am giving.

  • I am thankful that the 17-year-old hooked me up with my new favorite band. Great music to prep Thanksgiving Dinner by.
  • I am thankful that the Spouse has cooked dinner pretty much every night since September 15. AND has done the dishes, too.
  • I am thankful that the 14-year-old has introduced me to the FIERCE sport of wrasslin’. Little girls cried during the last meet. Fierce, I tell you.
  • I am thankful for working in the Bush administration. Without those guys, I would have never learned new levels of tolerance–and never loved so many Republicans. Yes, they are people, too.
  • I am thankful that we have good health insurance, didn’t get dumb in the mortgage market, live within our means and have stable jobs. I pray that the new guys–with our help–make changes so that more people can give this set of thanks next year.
  • I am thankful for Facebook. Sounds dumb, but it’s like living in a far-flung dorm–low pressure way to be in the lives of people you care about. (Sibling, get on the stick!)
  • I am thankful that my mother is a fighter. She has been in rehab 3 times over the past year, after a fall, a broken ankle, and then major GI surgery. Each time we worried that she might be too tired to push her 85-year-self through rehab. And each time she proves us wrong.
  • I am thankful that I have the best spouse, kids and dog in the whole wide world. Bar none. No one can dispute this. Don’t even try.

And I am thankful to you, my loyal reader. I write this mostly for me, but am thankful that you take some of your time to think with me.

Happy Thanksgiving!