One year

Zed and me at a Jazz game.Last summer I went to a party for a friend who was leaving town for a bit. I wasn’t planning on staying long. I just wanted to pop by say, “hey” and get home.

I walked in, said my hellos and was handed a beer. As I was catching up with Jess on all the gossip I had missed, this guy in black t-shirt kept interrupting us. I was kind of annoyed, but intrigued by this guy who could hold the attention of an entire room while making fun of himself. He was making jokes and taking the piss out of everyone.

I couldn’t stop laughing.

Without even noticing how it happened, he introduced himself, sat down and we suddenly we were bitching about Asian beer. I found out he taught English in China for a year or so, then he owned a bar, then he went sailing. We swapped travel stories for a bit. Then moved on to some more heavy stuff like God and religion. Despite the subject, we kept laughing. I thought he was the funniest, sweetest guy I had met in a long, long time. I couldn’t stop staring at his upper arm/chest area. (This is a seriously under-appreciated part of male anatomy.) He apparently also found me hilarious and likable. We talked so long every one else managed to make their way inside. The host had even gone to bed.

Finally I had to go home; it was way too late.

I was shocked he hadn’t asked for my number in the three hours we had been cracking each other up. So I told him my name again and asked him to find me. He said he would.

The next day he did.

It’s been a year now since that first beer and first laugh. He still makes me laugh every day; and I know a helluva lot more about beer now. 

Advertisements

I’m going to take a nap now

I posted earlier today that I regret nothing about my decision to stay up all night reading “Gone Girl.” It felt decadent sipping sangria and hanging onto every word Gillian Flynn wrote in the sadistic, suspenseful, painful novel.

The story is fucking mind blowing. Just like everyone says.

And I loved it. I am also exhausted to the point where thinking hurts, my eyes burn and a puppy might just die.

Seriously, it’s the best book I’ve read in what feels like forever. It was thrilling to stay up all night sucked into a fictional world like I haven’t since Harry Potter. Glorious. Nice. Nostalgic.

And terrifying.

I’m still stressed from Game of Thrones and now this? How do I know I’m not an Amy? Or a Nick? Can’t we all be? Just a little bit sometimes? Man, the lies, the manipulation, the deceit the insistence that it is all just a game even at the cost of life.

Blood chilling to think about and fascinating. Thankfully I’m a sound sleeper rarely troubled by dreams.

Let’s talk about…money

There’s been a dearth of season finales on TV lately and those always leave me mildly depressed. No more Nashville, why?

Star Trek: Into Darkness was a fun romp through space adventure time. However totally not worth the $10 ticket price in my opinion. (Movie goers, can you quiet down the talking while the movie is playing, please?!)

And while Benedict Cumberbatch performance as Khan was wonderful, I couldn’t stop thinking about the white washing of the film long enough to actually enjoy his deliciously evil villain. Thankfully I had no such trouble watching Zoe Saladana kick ass.

However mostly I’ve been thinking about money because it’s the end of the month, and I am poor. Bills are always a nice reminder of how little money I have. How nice of you, Visa card.

And then I saw today’s news about unemployment and growing gaps between rich and poor. It never helps to dwell on these things knowing I live in the state with the largest pay gap between men and women. (Oh, Utah, you are so patriarchal.)

First The New York Times tells me that women who are unemployed and uneducated are far more likely to have a short life. As upsetting as that bit of news is, it makes AlterNet’s report on the growing poverty population, roughly 47% of American owe more than they earn, all the more depressing.

Chances are if you do have money you’re working way more for it. So yay, for poorness, it might mean you have more free time. Maybe. Even Bloomberg Business is talking about work-life balance shiz, man.

Basically what I’m saying is spring season finale time in TV land left me depressed and the real world was no help at all. Time to binge on Arrested Development or move to Canada.

And let’s not forget that most tax breaks benefit the wealthiest 20% of Americans. 

Is someone stirring a martini for me, yet?

Christ.

Why you should get a puppy

Remember when I told Robb he shouldn’t get a puppy?

Please stop taking my photo, and let me sleep.

Please stop taking my photo, and let me sleep.

Well I did promise on Facebook and in the comments to talk about the pros of puppy-hood, and then I sat down to write it and it was hard. I have disdain for expressions of affection.

It hasn’t always been that way, but lately I don’t like, “honey,” “sweetie” or “babe.” There’s just no way to say them and not somehow come across as patronizing and condescending as though the person I am talking to, however dear to my heart they might be, is a small child.

So yes, I don’t usually use terms of endearment. Hell, I struggle to express positive emotions. I’m comfortable with anger, fear, regret, annoyances and negativity. But throw me some happiness; and fuck all if I know what to do except smile stupidly.

However I am endeavoring to change this with the cutest puppy in the universe with a face that just says, “baby talk is appreciated.” So after much struggles to get in touch with loving emotions, I bring you reasons to own a puppy. (Or other cute cuddly critter of your choice.)

He likes to lay on legs and feet when he's extra tired.

He likes to lay on legs and feet when he’s extra tired.

1. The snuggles

When Zed is not around, he has a replacement. The puppy!

Truthfully even when Zed is around Archer gets loved on an awful lot. He is great at cuddling and loves to nap with me. The best feeling in the world is watching TV with a dog curled up on my feet. So comfy, so cute!

There’s something super sweet about knowing every time I come home a little fur ball is excited to see me. (Even if it does mean he pees everywhere.) It’s nice to have something to take care of, to throw all my nurturing, mothering instincts on to all the time. And he can’t complain! I mean he probably thinks he’s freakin’ go it made what with the regular food, walks, play dates, snuggles and snacks, but as the giver it’s pretty satisfying to watch a little thing grow up.

Even if it is just a dog. Conveniently I am way more comfortable with rolling with the punches when small children are around now. As an exercise in patience, raising a puppy has done more to calm me down than any other life activity.

Although I still struggle with calm, patience and routine, the pup is a good reminder of why it’s nice.

How can you resist this face?

How can you resist this face?

2. The people 

I don’t know what exactly it is about a dog that makes people better. (Or makes me like people more.) On our walks, Archer is the harbinger of conversations.

“Oh, look at that puppy!”

“Can I take a picture?”

“What kind of dog is she?” (They always think the boy is a girl. It’s white fur, peeps, not genitalia.)

Strangers are pretty comfortable with trying to pet him, even though his default is to hide behind me. At the dog park, waiting for a light to change, hustling him to finish his business, it really doesn’t’ matter where my dog is or what he is doing, people want to talk to him.

But dogs can’t talk, so they are stuck talking to me.

And dare I say, it’s…nice. I’ve met many more of my neighbors since I’ve started dragging Archer around. I’ve met a lot more dogs too. For the most part, it’s a positive experience, the chats bring a little moment of human connection. While I’m slightly embarrassed by Archer’s shyness, I’m thankful for the opportunity to just talk to other people. For the most part, they’re pretty nice guys and gals with their own dog stories to share.

When you put the phone down, can we run?!

When you put the phone down, can we run?!

3. The activity

I am not by nature a particularly healthy person. I’ve been blessed with skinny genes and high metabolism. Occasionally I do yoga, Pilates or go for a run, but none of it is regular activity. Even now I’m doing my best to devour a pound of pretzels as I type this.

However a dog that must be walked means a human must walk, too. I do my damned best to make sure we don’t do much more physical activity than the minimum required, but just being outside more often is invigorating. I love the discovery of the neighborhood and the city our wanderings have taken us too. Without a pup, I wouldn’t know how close I live to Memory Grove, City Creek Canyon or the Children’s Museum.

(I also wouldn’t have a chance to keep tabs on the neighborhood real estate which is a slightly different obsession.)

I totally get why dogs are an outdoor persons’ thing now. And I think my 40-pound pooch was a nice compromise for my inner couch potato who needs an ass kicking out-of-doors every once in a while. And maybe someday, he’ll be well enough trained we can even try some off leash adventures.

Scratch! Go? Scratch! Go?!

Scratch! Go? Scratch! Go?!

4. The structure

There is something nicely reassuring about knowing each day the dog will wake up with the dawn and need to wee, walk and eat all before the sun is fully over the Wasatch Mountains.

It’s not as though I can’t live with routine, but the dog has forced me to figure out a schedule. It keeps him happier (and asleep at night) and keeps me more productive. Although I can’t control a lot of aspects of my day to day, like when sources can interview, just having a bookend to each day is really nice. Our morning routine and bedtime routine are pretty set by now. I honestly think the morning and evening walks make it easier for me to take care of myself.

Maybe that’s silly or immature or whatever, but I’ve always struggled to stick to a schedule on my own, with a dog around it’s easier for me to heft the responsibility of regularity.

As I said the cost of loving Archer and living with him is extremely high and sometimes much more difficult than I anticipated, but I’m not ready to trade him in. I love my monster.

I mean look at those goddamned ears! And that face! It’s like a bat, cat, doggie baby that just needs to be squeed over!

You are totally missing the people watching!

You are totally missing the people watching!

Isn’t that just the crux of human-ness though, “Fuck all logic, it feels nice to have this thing to take care of, so I will.” Well played evolution, well played.

Keep calm and carry on

Not so much my style, WWII propganda poster.

I want to go every where, see everything and do everything.

Well, nearly everything.

Most things. Anything new. different. exciting. Something I hadn’t done before or never imagined I would do. Write? Yes. Bunjee jump? Yes. Fall in love? Yes.

I wanted to do it all and have it all.

But lately it feels like I’m stuck. I’m doing few of the things I wanted to do. The universe of my life felt so big immediately after graduation, and three years later it feels so tiny. All the people I know could fit into my one bedroom apartment, and the people who would actually show up? Well one couch and a chair is more than enough furniture for all of us.

It’s not a bad life. I love the closeness I share with the few friends I have. It’s a much more stable life than being friends with everyone.

I’m just not patient. I never have been. And I’ve struggled to learn that apparent virtue. It feels an awful lot like neutral to me. I’m waiting I just don’t know what for. Every day I have to remind myself that this is good, this kind of quiet same-ness taking place. It’s okay to just be. 

God, I don’t want to sound like too much of a hippie, but that’s all I can think of when I’m anxiously tapping my foot waiting for the next adventure to begin.

I’ve never been one to sit still, or even to stay in place. It’s hard. I know all of my neighbors’ names, their dogs, their troubles, their life stories. It’s nice. But annoying. It’s a routine now to meet in the backyard at 10 a.m. drink coffee and bitch about the early risers with the other stay-at-homers. When did this happen? I like my neighbors well enough. But who am I?

I usually feel a bit more like this. Thank you very much.

I have to keep reminding myself that it’s okay to wake up at the same time each day, eat the same breakfast, drink the same coffee, have the same conversations and go through the same motions.

It’s so damn boring.

Maybe that’s what’s bothering me. The routine has become rote, I could make it through most days blindfolded. Also t’s a Monday and news stories aren’t happening. (That is generally a good thing for the world, but bad for my malaise.) Thanks, holidays.

P.S. If you read anything online today, it should be this. It’s a great article from “Dominion of New York” by Ben Becker on the origins of Memorial Day, which was actually meant as a day to celebrate black men who fought for emancipation.

Why you shouldn’t get a puppy

My new baby boy from New Mexico. An adorable red heeler/lab mix.

“Aw, he is so cute! He can’t possibly grow up!” I stupidly thought.

My friend, Robb has a bit of a pet obsession.

He doesn’t own a pet. His complex doesn’t allow for any. But he and his girlfriend are cuddly, snuggley animal starved. He really, really wants a pet. He posts lots of cute pictures of fluff. He has even mentioned he may need an intervention.

As much as a I love the cuteness of puppies and kittens he posts on his dash, I can think of a million reasons why no one should get a pet. Robb, here’s your intervention. It’s also called reality.

If you don't see dollar signs when you look at this photo, you don't own a dog.

If you don’t see dollar signs when you look at this photo, you don’t own a dog.

1. Monetary Cost

Owning and caring for any pet is going to cost a bit of money. Obviously a goldfish is cheaper than a puppy. But I own a puppy so I’m just going to break down the cost of Archer in my life.

Food: $30 a week (Admittedly I could buy something cheaper, but I spoil the hell out of the monster.)

Treats: $15 a week (Right now this includes special treats for training as well as chew toys which he goes through at an alarming rate.)

Adoption: $250 (Yes, that was the cost to bring him home. It did include his vaccinations, neuter and microchip as well.)

Training: $80 (For one six-week course. I’m paying $100 for another eight-week course at the end of the month.)

Dog stuff: $100 (This includes two beds, toothbrush, toothpaste, hair brush, a few toys and leashes. I’ve only included the cost of one of his three crates since I was given two for free. The final crate runs about $120.)

Rent: $100 deposit, plus $25 a month (My lease mandated a pet rent as do most apartment/condo/houses. My rate is quite low for the area although many places are pet friendly.)

Additional costs: I haven’t included the cost of the clothes, shoes and furniture that has been ruined by excrement, biting, clawing or other puppy behaviors.

Total Cost Over Four Months: $950

When I think about how much money I’ve spent in the past four months on this pile of shedding white fur, I get a little misty eyed for the alcohol, movie tickets and restaurant meals I may have bought. Hell, I probably could have a plane ticket at the going rate of owning one puppy.

Admittedly cost of ownership will go down as he graduates from training and he stops outgrowing everything. But still so. much. money.

"You will never leave me and not feel guilty."

“You will never leave me and not feel guilty.”

2. Time

Personally I wanted a dog for companionship and to force me to create more structure in my day. (The bane of self-employment.) No alarm clock will ever drag me out of bed faster than a puppy’s bark at 6 a.m.

However I never considered the cost in time each day it takes to care for a dog. Admittedly Archer’s breed mix is much more active than many others out there. Nonetheless, each morning we spend 30 minutes to an hour eating, walking and training. In the middle of the day, I take him for another shorter walk of about 15 minutes. If he is still excitable, I will ask the neighbor dog to play for 30 minutes or so, or I will play with him until he mellows out enough I can get back to work. Then again in the evening, he needs to be fed, walked and trained. Typically this takes an hour to an hour and a half as this is the most active part of his day and ensures a slightly later wake up call.

Total Daily Time: 3 hours

That’s about three hours of my day given over to puppy care. Maybe it doesn’t sound like a lot, but it sure feels like a lot when I’m planning interviews, social events and dates. A number of my social activities have become dog social activities so I can pair dog care with human interaction time. I don’t mind the change as it’s healthier for me to, but it’s been a huge adjustment. Dog park friends at 8 a.m. is a little different from drinks at the bar at 8 p.m., y’all.

3. Training

A puppy must be trained. Archer has gone from adorable sleepy pile of fur to energetic, lively pup who must chew everything. As cute as he is, working out his energy is a daily chore. I have spent money on training lessons which I desperately needed. The lessons take about an hour a week, plus the hour or so drive time to get there. I spend time each day practicing commands with him. However any dog/human interaction often necessitates further training.

For example when a niece or nephew visits, Archer has to be reminded constantly that children are not puppies. They can’t and won’t play with him like dogs.  Any time I’m cooking, cleaning or eating, Archer has to be continually reminded not to jump on counters, legs or steal whatever is in my hands. He is slowly learning to wait patiently for his turn. But it’s a hard-fought and ongoing battle.

Anyone with a dog will tell you consistency and boundaries are key to a well-trained dog. I struggle with consistency all the time. There are moments, like when I’m watching “Game of Thrones,” I don’t want to play with the puppy or discipline him for getting into the bathroom trash for the millionth time. But I have to or he will continue to get into the trash. It’s an ongoing war.

Total Daily Training: There are not enough hours in a day to quantify this.

Of course, I work at home. My puppy and I spend far more time together than I do with any human. If I had a job outside of my house, I would most likely enroll him in doggie day care which costs about $200 a month in SLC. The other option is to keep him at home. For Archer this means he would spend roughly 16 hours a day in his crate, since non-crated alone time results in destroyed furniture and decor.

Speaking of destroyed things, let’s take a moment to remember a white rug, black couch and clean floors. Archer has poohed, peed and vomited on nearly everything I own. Sometimes it will clean out, but not always. He has peed in stranger’s houses, family members homes and even in training class. He is definitely an excited pee-er. I have also become obsessed with excrement as will any dog owner. Here’s the thing, a puppy can’t talk. So about the only way to check his health is to look at his doo-doo, observe his behavior and give him a good once over during brushings. The pooh is disgusting. I have to clean it up, so I will notice when something is amiss. Trust me when you’re in the middle of the conversation about Fido’s shit and the rug fibers you discovered as another dog owner relates finding jewelry in a pile of pooh, you will wonder where you went so, so wrong in life.

You got a puppy.

Before anyone adopts a puppy, think long and hard about the costs of ownership. It’s a huge cost. As my brother in-law says, “It’s as close to having a kid as you can get.”

Truthfully there are several times where I have thought about returning Archer. I love him, but the cost of loving him is incredibly high. My life before him was much simpler. However my commitment to the rescue, him and myself, keep me in it despite the hard times.

Despite the negatives there are positive times, like how he loves to curl up on my feet and sleep. Right now, those quiet, peaceful moments are more meaningful than ever before. The first time he “stayed” when I told him to for more than about three seconds, I was so excited he thought he won a marathon. Compliments from strangers on how well he “heels” for a puppy are the highlight of walks. We’ve come a long way, me and the puppy. I wouldn’t trade him, but damn if I could go back to February, I’m not so sure I would adopt him.

Shh…don’t tell him. 

Archer has no interest in anything I have to say when birds are present.

Archer has no interest in anything I have to say when birds are present.

Clean up, clean up, turn the TV on

I’m slightly embarrassed by how excited I am to clean my house today.

But seriously, I get to scrub the floors! And wash the dishes! And do laundry! I will feel so much better when all this is done. I just know it. It’s like an itch I can’t wait to scratch when I finally have the time to clean the apartment.

Ever since I let a live animal move in here, it’s been tough keeping the place up to standards, you know? Dog fur, puppy paw prints and the whole mess just don’t go away forever after a good scrubbing. The pup is at the vet today for his grown-up surgery; and this is an excellent opportunity to put on some jams and clean to my heart’s happiness.

I’m thrilled! (And a little nervous for the puppy. This is the first night he wasn’t at home, too.)

It’s also a great chance to catch up on my Hulu queue as well. So much Modern Family, The Neighbors and Nashville to watch. (Not that I forgot about CommunityThe Mindy ProjectRaising HopeNew Normal, Daily Show or Colbret Report.)

Heck, I may even have to give myself a pedicure just so I have an excuse to keep the TV shows rolling.