So ends the year

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This past year is one I’m more than ready to say goodbye to. Mainly because of the divorce. It kind of overshadowed everything else, even before it actually happened. This was also the year I lost Malcolm. Bad things happened this year, but some wonderful things happened, too…so I guess it was far from being a “bad year” overall; it’s just that those two bad things were kind of powerful and I think that, when I remember 2008, they’re bound to be first on my mind. Kind of like how 2001 is forever etched with 9/11 now. Anyway, here are some of the great things from this year:

I began the rewrite of my book. I found my self-confidence again. I learned the relax and not allow stress to get the better of me. I learned to be friendly again. I laughed a lot. I created a lovely little home for myself. I enjoyed a great visit with my Dad when he was here this fall. Halloween was great again. And best of all, I adopted Hurley.

Since I last wrote, I had a little get-together at my house on Tuesday night. It was me and my sister, my Mom, and our friends Traci and John and Traci’s mom Gail. Gail lives in upstate NY but was out here for 2 weeks visiting with Traci. We introduced our Mom to Gail at lunch right before Christmas and they hit it off and had a ball laughing and talking. My Mom’s had a tough time meeting and making friends here in AZ so it was so wonderful to see her having a great time again like this. So on Tuesday, I had them all over again so Mom and Gail could hang out one more time before she heads back to NY tomorrow. It was a nice, mellow time spent sitting on the back patio with the firepit, having some drinks and snack-things (mini Mediterranean pizzas from Fresh and Easy and some beef taquitos from my freezer, and a fresh batch of cupcakes I made that afternoon) for a few hours before they left. Mom stayed overnight.

I really do enjoy having company over. I love getting the house ready, playing hostess. It’s not what I have ever really gotten into doing before, I guess… I think I always got stressed out and worried about things going well and making everyone happy and junk like that, before. Now I just do what I want or can do, and that’s that. So far, it’s working out. Yay!

Yesterday, Mom and I went to a matinee of Marley & Me. I honestly should have known better, but I thought I could take it. I don’t do so well with movies with animals, in general. There’s a whole slew of movies that are considered classics or just great animal movies, but I’ll never see them because I know I will cry. I don’t like crying at movies. I especially don’t like how I internalize what I see when it comes to animals, and keep on thinking about it for hours, days and seriously, sometimes WEEKS, after I have seen the movie. Ugh. I’m too sensitive about that stuff and can easily get stuck in my own head if I’m not vigilant about keeping it all in perspective.

So yeah, Marley & Me. I never read the book. I’m not much of a fan of non-fiction, so it was never on my list. Also, I imagined it being sappy and sentimental; a guaranteed tear-jerker. Not exactly what I consider a good-time read. I want to enjoy the books I read; escape to another reality, see the world through totally unique characters. I don’t want to read about how a beloved dog meant so much to his owners and then of course, has to die, and the reader (or viewer in the case of the movie) are forced to go through the painful scenes as the story unfolds. You can try skipping ahead, or going out to the restroom when the sad stuff seems inevitable, but it never works. You get sucked in. You have to see what happens even though you know you aren’t gonna like it. Uggggh.

I can appreciate the story. I can appreciate the movie itself. If I were a less emotional person who didn’t get angry at movies that manipulate me to cry the way I cried, I could say it was a very good movie for what it was. I can say with all honesty that Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston were very good at their roles and I liked watching their story unfold. Well done. Lots of funny moments. But lots of VERY SAD MOMENTS, too.

Too many. **SPOILER ALERT!!**

I thought that there was no reason at all to drag out Marley’s death the way they did. Holy cow, talk about a time when a cut-away and a voice over would have been welcome. I didn’t need to see a close up on the fucking NEEDLE as the vet puts it in the IV. I didn’t need to see a close-up on the old dog’s sweet face as his owner tells him what a good dog he is and the eyes gently close. I’m sorry, but no. Maybe other people like it, maybe it works for everyone else, but not me. No way, no how. Leave that OUT. We can know the dog dies and it deeply touched the family without being hit over the head with it like that.

I canNOT watch things like that. I have enough trouble getting the nightmares to stop of my own experiences with euthanasia and how I didn’t mean to be in the room but it all happened too fast, too clinical, and I am forever haunted by witnessing my dog’s life slip away right in front of me, of seeing the life fade from his eyes as he stared at me… Nope. Can’t go there. Gotta stop thinking about THAT.

Anyway, my point is: Don’t see Marley & Me if you are anything like I am when it comes to the subject of putting dogs to sleep. Just don’t do it. Trust me. A good comedy would be a much better choice. Shit, I’d rather that we saw the creepy-looking Benjamin Button movie, in retrospect.

In other dog-related news, THIS is sleeping on the futon behind me right this moment:

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No, that’s not the ghost of Malcolm. And no, I did not adopt this dog. Rather, I am fostering him for a couple of nights over the New Year holiday. I bring him back to the shelter tomorrow morning.

In a nutshell, yesterday I took Hurley over to the AZ Animal Welfare League/SPCA to see if there were any suitable dogs that we could consider bringing home with us. Sometimes I really think Hurley could benefit from having a buddy, especially when I am working or busy on the computer or something. So I was entertaining the possibility yesterday, against some of my own better judgment. Well, either way, there we were.

We met this dog, who is a chihuahua/ Chinese crested mix (!) just like my little babydog was. It was freaky to see him and realize WOW…there are other dogs that shared Malcolm’s unique physical characteristics! The differences are that this dog’s coat is more wiry and coarse, and a couple shades darker tan than M’s was. Also, he has the bent ears whereas little M’s ears stood straight up. And finally, the faces do really look different. At least to me. Anyway, I had to meet him, just because. Plus they said he was great with other dogs.

Hurley LOVED him and they played for well over an hour together in the play yard. Since it was the end of the day and not much traffic, staff members stood around and watched the show. The dogs chased, wrestled, and generally got along great.

The shelter manager came in and began her “pitch” to try to get me to adopt him. (By the way, the name the shelter gave him is AWFUL; it’s “Packers Bobby Bob”, which I guess is some sort of Green Bay Packers thing… it’s just the dumbest thing I have ever heard! I’ve been calling him “Little Guy” around here.) But the adoption counselor I was working with was really great. I explained to her that I had major hesitations for whatever reason…something just didn’t feel right. I could see Hurley liked him and vice versa; he was an adult dog (4 yrs old) and not listed as being aggressive or destructive…he seemed like a great fit. But if anything, this year I have learned to TRUST MY GUT. And my gut was saying “No, don’t do this.”

After a short conversation with them, the manager said there was another option if I wanted to do it. I could take the Little Guy home with us for two nights on their volunteer program to take dogs home over the holidays (when the shelter is closed) so the dogs get to spend a night or two in a warm home instead of in the shelter. Since I was still on the shelter’s computer system as a volunteer (I did it back in 2001, which I can’t believe was THAT long ago now), I qualified to take him home. So we did it. They sent us on our way with some food, a leash and a few kind words. (The adoption counselor walked us to the car and told me, “Don’t let this pressure you, you do NOT have to adopt him. So don’t worry about what the manager says– just have a nice time and good luck.”)

It went well. At first.

The car ride home was great. The two dogs sat on the backseat politely, even falling asleep next to one another for a little while. Adorable. We got to the house and I let the Little Guy sniff around and get acclimated. They began to play.

But then the LG took notice of Hurley’s rawhide pieces all over the house. I wish I’d had the foresight to run into the house and pick up all the stupid (gross) rawhides and toys just to keep things as simple as possible, but I didn’t think of it. Well, this is when Hurley and I figured out that LG is a dominant, treat-and-food possessive little bugger.

He attacked the crap out of Hurley when Hurley tried to take his bone back. I separated them, did some basic Cesar Milan stuff with being the leader and not allowing for that sort of thing, and it totally worked. For awhile. They fought again when I tried to feed them separately, and the LG squeezed past me to rush at Hurley, who was just eating all normal, to kick him out of HIS food dish! Hurley snapped at him, and that started a whole new fight. I kept them separate the rest of the night, with LG staying in Malcolm’s old crate.

The good thing is, neither of them was hurt. Hurley has his long coat to thank for that– all he showed was some saliva and little pulls on his fur. There were no marks on the LG, and that was largely due to the fact that Hurley was visibly trying NOT to fight. It was so sad. At one instant, he was actually running AWAY but not getting anywhere because LG was hanging on to his long hair and dragging along with him. He wouldn’t let up! He just wanted to beat the crap out of sweet, cool Hurley. (Who does that?! Seriously! This is HURLEY, mofo!)

This continued with the furniture…with trying to get between me and Hurley… with the bed (he hopped up repeatedly after being shooed off and then guarded the edge of the bed and would NOT allow Hurley to even think about jumping up, which is not cool at all!)… and with shoving Hurley out of the way to get out of the backdoor first. OY. What a handful.

What a powerful little personality on him! It’s so funny how well they got along at the shelter. And it’s also funny that they have played again, a little bit, like the fights never happened. Hurley’s very forgiving, very patient. Once more, he is being an angel. He’s letting LG take his food, although he is rigid and stares at him before he seems to shake it off and then trot over to LG’s dish to take HIS food in return. Good for him. I have closed LG out of the room a couple of times so I can talk to Hurley and give him lovin’s without LG butting in. And tonight, I crated LG and took Hurley out for our usual walk, just the two of us. I know it would have been nice to take LG too but I just didn’t want to. Also, I don’t think I wanted to risk getting an attachment to LG, and walking together might have brought it on a little since I enjoy walking so much.

There is a truce right now, and they are easily co-existing tonight, even running to bark at the front window together and sitting only inches apart as I watched August Rush earlier. I know it could work out, and that the worst of the fighting would likely be behind us. I know that Hurley would settle into a submissive role, and it would work out. (Because it’s not always the first dog on the scene that turns out to be the dominant one.) But I don’t want to do it. I don’t like this dynamic very much, and I realize I love the way our lives are as-is, without adding another personality to the mix. I am looking forward to bringing LG back to the shelter tomorrow morning…especially since I hear that 4 different prospective owners have contacted the shelter about him, specifically, and we all know that small dogs get adopted so much quicker than larger dogs. He will be FINE and he will make someone a very good pet. After all, I can see he IS a good dog and has a lot of nice pet qualities (affectionate, focused, trainable/trained, playful, rides well in the car, etc.). He’s just not for us.

What an interesting experience it’s been! Even though the fights have been difficult, I still think it’s just one more thing for us to learn together. I don’t regret it, because now I know what I do NOT want right now in my life. And I got to witness how Hurley handles fights. He’s a gentleman. No low blows. 🙂

Totally switching gears, last night was fun. I went with my sister and her fiance to their friends’ house, where I met blogger/commenter Lani and her husband for the first time, which was AWESOME! I loved it. They were great. We all had a lot of laughs as we watched homemade videos they’d all made and played Rock Band, which I’d never played before. I am decades behind everyone else when it comes to videogames, literally. I’m still wowed by Tetris. No kidding.

But last night I had a few drinks in me, and I sang on three songs and played drums on one. I scored really high on singing, but definitely sucked all kinds of ass on drums. I felt like such a retard but it was funny! The songs I sang were” “Eye of the Tiger” and then “Sabotage” and “So Whatcha Want” by the Beastie Boys. Holy cow, I blew the hell out of my voice, too. You might not realize that Sabotage is basically just a lot of prolonged screaming in between the raps, but it IS. I scored 100% though, so my sacrifice was worth it, I guess. Whew. Next time, I try a nice song sung by a woman. I have to stop with the ugliness. God forbid I try to sound pretty. 🙂

Well, overall, it was a good New Year’s Eve and Day, I suppose. I didn’t even feel bad when it was midnight and I was the only one without someone to kiss. Kissin’s overrated, anyhow, especially those New Year’s Eve ones. I was just psyched to see a fresh new year come in, and to think of all the possibilities ahead of me, and all of us. That’s what it’s all about, anyway. Yay!

In closing, please enjoy these select snapshots from the holidays:

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Fun with Gel Face Masks:

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Happy New Year!

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5 responses »

  1. Sounds like you had a fun New Year’s! Here’s to 2009 being memorable for all the great things that happen. Like a bunch of us bloggers getting together! 🙂

    I am glad you took LG home for a few days to test him out because your issues with him are probably not well known to the shelter staff and now you have some valuable information you can give them so he can be more adoptable for someone else. Poor Hurley needs someone who loves him and accepts him, not torment him. As cute as LG is I am glad you trusted your gut because you were definitely right, not a good fit.

    I loved reading Marley and Me. I definitely laughed more than cried although I did bawl at the end. And they dragged out the death in the book too so it sounds like they kept it pretty true to the book. I will still see it, will probably still bawl like a baby but I really wanty to watch it. It is hard for me to watch those kind of scenes too, having to have put a few animals down myself. And your grief is still really raw from Malcolm, so the reaction you had was expected. I am sorry it made you so sad. I don’t think that was the movie’s intention. 🙂

    Those pictures are hilarious! But whatever do those creepy masks do?

  2. I think those masks are supposed to take down puffiness and/or circles under your eyes. Or… make you look like a space villain. 🙂

    Did you like Marley and Me besides the long, drawn out death scene? I am glad you warned me about it because I will still see the movie but I may wait until I can watch it here at home. I don’t want to be crying in the theater. Funny how you say you don’t like non fiction because that is mainly all I will read. I am thinking I bought you that “Dog Years” book which is sad and non fiction… two things you just love in books! Sorry… 😦

    I told Lani on Facebook I want to see pictures of your fun night. I wish I was there. Better yet, I hope to visit in the spring and sing with you! I was just thinking about coming to visit this morning when I woke up. Seriously.

    Oh man, LG’s visit sounds like a rough time. Who would’ve thought that little Malcolm-looking dude would be so aggressive towards sweet Hurley?! That is great that he was able to have a home for two days though. I am sure, even though he was a terror, he appreciates your kind heart. And I am sure he’ll get a home soon.

    And last but not least… did you ever get your name changed????

  3. VP- Yeah, I think 2009 will be a great year! I havea good feeling about it. As for LG, he was adopted YESTERDAY. So he wasn’t even back at the shelter for a full day! Good for him! 🙂
    Regarding Marley & Me: It was a decent movie. I think if it were not for that death scene, I might have liked it. It wasn’t terrible. It seemed to be about a marriage as much as it was about a dog, which was nice. I really think that, overall, I just don’t want to watch movies with animals dying for awhile. I didn’t know I’d have such a visceral reaction to M&M, to be honest. I didn’t know what it would entail other than “some crazy experiences with raising a dog” and that it would be funny. And it *was* funny in parts. Not hysterical (if I had to say why, I’d say the humor was too tame for my taste) but still good. So if you liked the book I bet you’ll like the movie, too!
    And Naynay explained what the masks do. They’re from Bath & Body Works and you can put them in the freezer or microwave to help relieve headaches and stuff like that. 🙂

    Naynay- Yes, I know we’re different when it comes to fiction/non-fiction; I recall you saying something somewhere about not liking fiction. But I don’t mean to say I never read non-fiction, because I do. I did read “Dog Years”! And it did make me cry, definitely. It was still a good book, though. Full disclosure, though: non-fiction takes me soooo long to read. It took me almost 3 months to finish it. Yikes! But I really did want to read it so I would understand everything in your letter when I got to it. I’m glad I did. Thanks again for sending it to me. 🙂

    I wish I’d remembered to take some pics on New Year’s Eve, so I guess you’d say I’m awaiting Lani’s pictures, too. Whew boy. I have a feeling I look like a monster. It was fun though and I wish lots of bloggers could have been there to be dorks right along with us! 🙂

    As for my name… YES. I did it. It took awhile. I did the social security office on Monday, and then had to wait 48 hours before I could do the DMV. But then it was New Year’s. So I had to wait until yesterday. But I did it, I got my new license and changed my name on my bank accounts. I still have to change it in quite a few places, but the hard ones are done. Thank God!

    Finally– Hurley will get a lil’ friend when we find the right dog. I’m not in a hurry, but you’re right: it will have to be someone who will appreciate him!! To be honest, it just might be another Sheltie (or mix). I’m just blown away by how much I love his little Sheltie traits. Plus, it’s weird, but everytime he sees another Sheltie, he’s like “hey, what’s up?” and totally mellow. I don’t know if breeds recognize one another or not, but it seems like it! Seems like they are running into “cousins” or something when they meet up. When Hailie saw another Elkhound at the dog park once, she was the same way. However, Malcolm? He did NOT like other chihuahuas. In fact, he really only liked cats. 🙂

  4. Check out all my Smiley Faces up there in that comment. What a fruitcake I am. 🙂 🙂

  5. Well, it sounds like you definitely had a great learning experience, and you handled it well, too! Great job!

    I confess, I am not particularly fond of little dogs -directly due to all of your aforementioned hassles.

    Normally, movies do not make me cry. I did ok with M and M until the kid started watching the home videos. That was enough of that. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen euthanasia actually portrayed in a movie. Animal Vets, sure, but not in a movie. Even DH got fed up with the movie, at that point, and then gave me a long lecture on how all of his dogs were going to die naturally, come hell or high water. “Naturally” as in “going off alone to die on their own when it was time.” I told him that either he was going to die the same way or he was going to hate me when I decided my dogs were suffering needlessly and had them put down.

    I really don’t feel that the movie followed the book closely at all. I could be wrong but I seem to remember Marley’s death being from something else, and, honestly, the movie skipped over some of the other old age things they had to deal with- it could have been even more long and drawn out. But I think if you have to lose a pet, long life and complications of getting old is the way to go, euthanasia or not. The sudden crap, where you don’t get to say goodbye, isn’t pleasant, either, but I’d rather get to choose.

    While I did think the actors portrayed their roles really well, I had alot of “was this in the book?” and “Did they change that part? Did they add this part? Did they embellish heavily here…?” moments. I’d just say it was well adapted, but far from “the truth”, although I guess they had to do that to make a shorter and more enticing movie out of it.

    You really should just read the damn book. The movie left out a lot.

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