Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Beautiful Life

This morning, I woke up a full two hours before my alarm was due to go off. At first I thought I had left the ‘auto’ setting on the coffee pot, and then I thought it was the rain, or the dog that’s ears seem to be bothering him, even though I can’t see any reason why. After all that, I decided that just like 90% of the mornings since the first part of the year, I was just awake. Usually, when this happens, I find my thoughts racing to the extent that I am reminded of that amusement park ride, the one where you line up against the wall and the room spins and spins, and eventually the floor drops out. Although that kind of force seems to have left, I still have moments where it does seem the floor has yet to make a full comeback.
I don’t know that I’ve ever been a ‘everything happens for a reason’ person, with enough emotional distance I’m usually able to see the sunnier side of the darkest things. This is no exception, I’m in the right place, although I couldn’t have predicted it, I learned another lesson about who belongs in my life and who didn’t deserve to exist in it, even its gutters. It’s almost funny that it’s her betrayal that has cut more deeply. The girl I shared much with over the last few years; training victories and dilemmas, parental relationship difficulties, boyfriend/husband stories, and just the financial obligation to get back and forth to the trainer we both felt so good about, is now waking up every morning with the last man I ever thought I’d love.
Sometimes, my gender deserves its very worst reputation.
I don’t think this is what keeps me awake at night anymore; I think it’s just the rest. Everything from jobs, to dog training to the slightly crazy guy I’ve been dating for a couple of months. It’s good to be here. It’s good to see that the parts of me I have always been able to count on, are still intact. It’s better to see that I had more friends that surprised me with their love and loyalty and only one that let me down. In any equation, I call that a win.
My friend Mandy often quotes “Two tears in a bucket….” And I’m blessedly, finally, there. Some things belong in the rear view, even if you have to back over it a few times before you go.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mindlessness Matters

This time of year, everything slows down, including, sadly, my dog training. Between the heat, lack of rain, and the fire ants overrunning my tracking fields, my priorities change, there is no beating the summer in late July/August in North Carolina. So Mojo and I do short spurts of obedience with the reward being a floatie toy tossed into the pond, lather, rinse, repeat.

My goal becomes keeping him fit, happy, and keeping both of us sane.
This entire year, I’ve been struggling with insomnia. Headed into the 8th month of the year, with little improvement, despite over the counter remedies, prescription remedies ‘have a glass f wine before you go to bed’, work out before you go to bed, turn off the TV ½ hour before you go to bed, etc., and still no change, I’m resigned to getting comfortable being uncomfortably tired most of the time.

This morning, up far too early (again) I did something I’ve been doing a few times a week for the last 4 years. I got up, and went out to sit on the deck stairs with my first cup of coffee, and play a game of 2-ball fetch with Mojo. Not too long ago I read a discussion thread about how useless this game is. The speakers described the game as “mindless” and the human participant as no better than “a ball machine”. I remember feeling a little bad about doing it when I read the discussion. It’s one of the things I do all summer for sure, but honestly all the time for him. As I watched Mojo light up with joy when I came out the back door with two balls this morning, I decided (again and finally) that I really don’t care what those people think of this game. Dog training pros they might be, and many more may agree., but I know that 2 dozen tosses of a ball before 5 am on a day predicted to hit 100 degrees is Mojo’s equivalent to me sitting down and watching Survivor. It IS mindless. So what of it? I ask a lot of him. I ask him to track well, be quick and correct in obedience, be strong and convincing, and very under control in bite work. I ask him not to bite the neighbors, or my old dog, and overall, Mojo complies. Not always joyfully (okay, rarely joyfully), but he complies.

When I started running I used to go between 4 and 5 am. I started running in July of 2005, I told myself it was because of the heat, really, I just wanted the cover of darkness. Running is hard, and if I needed to stop and suck wind, I wanted as few witnesses as possible. Somewhere along the way I got over that. Maybe just as the running got harder, and I had to focus on it more, I stopped realizing anyone else existed during those “I’m sucking wind” moments. Entirely possible, running hurts.

Whatever the truth, when I watch Mojo racing across the lawn in the pre-dawn hours during our ‘mindless game’ what comes to mind is what his breeder told me when I pushed her about the fact that I hadn’t signed a contract. She said she wasn’t worried about it because she knew I would take care of him. That, in the end is what matters. Of course he needs a job, and mental stimulation, and he has that. But he also needs a bowl of popcorn and a sofa to cheer on idiots left in a jungle with a bag of rice 2 months.

This all may seem simplistic, and maybe it is. I’m not really sure what else someone who hasn’t slept more than 5 hours at a time for the last 8 months is capable of. I just know that the events of the last 8 months of made me re-evaluate a whole host of things in my life., not just dog training bits, some much more personal and hard to hear.

I’m not dumb enough to think I have it all figured out, I've made that mistake too often, but I do know that Mojo is out back, laying in his baby pool, drinking some of the same water, happy. That, coupled with leaning into being okay with the decisions I am making these days, get me a whole lot closer to happy as well.

Monday, May 30, 2011

You all knew it was coming

A month or so ago, I thought I was going to a dog training seminar for the holiday weekend, so I requested three days off. When things didn’t work out the way I had planned, I didn’t rescind my leave request. I decided, to take my Body Pump instructors advice when heading into a difficult set, and use the time off to “get my mind right”.

For the changes just behind me, and for those just ahead, I needed very much to have my mind right.

I finished getting the upstairs ready, new mattress in, old one to the dump, books and bookcase packed up and stored. The last box of his shit packed up and carried downstairs.

I went to the gym, got a pedicure, went shopping, to the pool, and got a facial. I have been unable to sleep more than 4 hours a night since he told me he was leaving in January. With prescription medication, I could get 5 hours. This weekend, I took a nap.

It’s not over; I’m not completely over what he did, to me, to us.
I am just not sorry anymore.
He chose this. He chose to lie, and cheat and quit.
He listened to my crying, and apologizing and never once owned up to his mistakes. In the end he chose to keep making the same mistakes that have ruined every other major relationship in his life. And, I just can’t care or take care of him for one minute longer.

The box weighed 43lbs. I carried down the stairs, put in the bed of the truck, and carried it into the pack and ship up the street; I wouldn’t let them help me. I needed to do this last thing. I tracked those 43 lbs as they traveled northward. When the notice arrived that it was left on his front porch I deleted the email.

My new tenant moves in next weekend.
I have a goal date for Mojo’s next title.
I start a new work schedule and in a new department, on Tuesday.
I have a first date.

I don’t know where any of these things might lead. I’m not entirely sure I care where some of them lead, but I care that they are steps forward, every good run I’ve ever had started with just a few steps forward.

If that's not getting my mind right, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Montana Sage

“Burn it when he’s gone”, she said as she passed the light green bundle of leaves and twigs to her, “it will clear the negativity” pausing only to bring the bundle to her nose just briefly, then almost to herself alone, “We picked this in Montana, it’s Montana Sage”.
This is the kind of thing that had anyone else told her she would have smiled,rolled her eyes and never done it. This friend was different, though, this was the friend she never should have made, the friend she no longer would know what do without knowing she existed in the world.
The sage sat in her truck for days. She picked it up at stoplights and smelled it, thinking about Montana and remembering that night with her friend. She didn’t want to bring it inside the house, didn’t want to explain it to anyone, or think about all it represented every time she passed it on the desk or kitchen table.
When she was ready, or thought she was, she carried it inside the house, not brave enough to carry it upstairs, she sat on the living room floor in her quiet, quiet house, with just the dogs as witnesses and lit the little bundle of sage.
She cried, the dogs watched, the sage burned.
At some point she lit the other end, for the friend that gave it to her, and the weight of the loss, this seemed right.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

thoughts from rubber and the road

Northbound this morning I thought of you, brother. You driving southbound, in the Comet, noting to yourself that speed kills. You went south to support a friend in need; I went north, the one in need.
My first trip in the new truck, the dog you never met curled in his crate, tail over his nose, I imagined. Five short days from yet another birthday you aren’t here for, I feel the same thing I always feel when your absence rears its head. Alone. There is just no end to that, it seems. It wasn’t a speedy death I worried about this morning or really any death at all. It was everything else.
The road didn’t take me past your house, and I was glad, even though my heart still wishes I could hear you give directions one more time to “E M, like Auntie EM “ Street. I wondered if I ever would understand you and Grace, if you ever got over the hurt, and how on earth you did. I wondered what advice you would give me now, and cursed the circumstances that lead me to wish your counsel was available today. No one else has the words - that was always your job.
Sometimes, there’s peace in miles rolling under wheels, sometimes in the music I hear, or in something only found alone in a car with your thoughts, popcorn crumbs and static interrupting songs you haven’t heard in years, but like enough slow down and hope the song ends before the signal fades. I am trying to hold onto the moments of peace I found in those moments today. Recently I’ve been told my talent is in words, and my failing is in human contact. It seems my desire to write for a living falls right in line with my personal failings. I think this is a good thing to find out, but it cuts deeply.
I don’t know what I expected, ever. I only know when I don’t have it. It’s like that job interview question, “where do you want to be in five years” although I never say it, the only answer that ever rings in my head is “happy”. It’s maybe why I’m not such a great employee.
Changing everything doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. I did that once, 6 years ago, thought it made things better, today I’m not sure, and I’m not sure it will help things if I do it again but I’m going to. Last time I left the people that cared most for me behind, this time, I’m going to them. The people and places that I may never tell anything to, but their presence and their concern may just be enough. Enough to keep me from feeling like someone left a door to a cold winter open in my chest. Wind raging and stinging so cold it brings tears to my eyes. Drafts so cold as to leave me feeling like a solitary tree on an open plain, bent from its force, and unprotected.
I don’t choose to fight this one alone, unprotected is not where I want to be. Maybe I should have made friends with pain when I had the chance, when it was what kept me company night after night, day after day, but I didn’t and I won’t this time either.
On the road, I remember roll call in your class, the comment that made everyone giggle when a student wasn’t there, “absence really the strangest sort of presence”.
It’s the truest thing I know today.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A crisis of faith

During a conversation, this phrase ran through my head. Unfortunately it ran through my head because the words that were being said about me made me think that the speaker, through no fault of their own had been having a crisis of faith, in me.

The idea that I had so deeply let someone this important down, and for so long, was nothing short of devastating. Feeling gut shot, I stumbled through the next 5 days a husk of nauseated, shaky, sobbing grief. How I had let this happen, a slow progression of all the things I hate about the complacency that comes over time in close relationships. I spoke and they heard things I could never mean, think or do; and they spoke and I just didn’t hear, again and again.

A traditional crisis of faith is defined by me in non secular terms as a crisis demanding an uncompromising decision – one that sufficiently reconciles the cause of doubt with the belief or the discarding of the belief altogether. Although faith is generally used in reference to a higher power; and I am *not* comparing myself to a deity, I do believe faith is something we all feel, in the people and often, world around us, religious or not. In some ways, faith is beyond definition, those of any religious persuasion have faith their chosen God exists, cares for them and is all powerful. Intellectual disparities matter not at all.

So what do you do when you find yourself as the source of so much pain in a loved one there seems no way back to forgiveness and love? When all that has gone before, has seemingly been discarded, or at least written over in black magic marker, by the harm you inflicted? I am feeling sorry enough for myself, and don’t want sympathy. I have never ‘hung in there’ before, when the hurt comes, I leave. How does a classically faithless girl find redemption in the heart of a loved one? Where do you even start?