Equal to the love you make

[FB post from yesterday, 8/27]

This morning at 5:04 AM I got an email via my yelp account from a recently-homeless woman who wanted to get a quote on how much it would be for me to board her two “beautiful” adult cats in my home.

It was already a weird morning because my friend Graham sent me a link to my old Garfield house which is now for sale again and seeing the interior sterility and the back yard–which the summer after James moved in 2007 was the site of a “healing through manual labor and sunburn”–with its huge tree gone and most everything I planted looking dead really put the punctuation on the end of that chapter in my life. It was the punctuation you typically see after “you stupid fucking idiots; what the actual fuck.” 

And so it was that I started my day. Sunday. An easy work day before the madness starts up tomorrow and moves well past Labor Day; my life not yet recovered from the July 24th madness, and my sick dog, and bug treatment, last foster kitten/group, etc., to where all the madness has started melding while laundry mounds to dangerous proportions, and every text is an agony over whether I should accept or decline more work or accept or decline the next group of foster kittens, etc. when I’m sleeping on the couch in my clothes because it’s easier to rouse myself to another workday when I don’t let myself get too comfortable.  

And as I drive in the darkness towards Capitol Hill–the ever-so-slight tension in my body already existing as I imagine Stella’s upcoming glucose test, and what if I don’t get a prick of blood the first time, and what if her values are really low or really high, and what if she doesn’t eat, and what if something happened to her in the night, etc–I’m thinking about this email. 

Because yes I struggle; yes I’m overworked and exhausted. But she’s living in her two-door car with her two kitties and it’s gotten “extremely difficult and she’s worried.” And while one part of me still holds the visceral memory of getting to the tipping point upon which I had to either start caring for myself properly or die, another part of me doesn’t know where that point is anymore. For as you live and grow, you get stronger, and as I’ve cared for myself over these last few years, I’ve become more capable, and while I know it’s not my responsibility to superhero all of life’s shit away so that no one else has to feel pain, at what point does non-action in the face of suffering actually become cruelty? At what point does saying no become me living a life of fearful, self-indulgent, privileged hoarding? There’s no glucose strip for this; there’s no manual.  

As the thoughts paraded, I drove west on 13th south and when I neared the freeway, something dashed across the street in front of my car. There was really no one else on the road so for a second I thought it might’ve been a wild animal but it wasn’t. It was a lost dog, a pitbull who looked scared. So I pulled my car to the side of the road and rolled down my window to talk to it, wrestling with myself. Because the desire to lure it into the safety of my car conflicted with the knowledge that Stella had to have her test and shot spaced almost exactly 8 hours apart, which was just a few minutes away, and as the dog slunk away–pausing and glancing over at me, unsure of itself–my heart broke in grief just a very little bit before falling into acceptance.  

For as the damned thing looked back at me with eyes like it would’ve gotten in my car, I thought of how in just the eight months of 2017 I’ve earned as much as for all of 2016–making a one year pay increase of $21,000–and how I was going to make another catio for my cats anyways, and dictated into my phone a response telling her that I don’t board animals but have a catio in the back of my house she can put her kitties in during the day. knowing she might abandon them, knowing she might be addicted to drugs or otherwise unstable. Knowing that this improbable situation may work out to be a total Garfield House.  

Because I get something from a world in which someone like me would still be willing to offer what they could to help someone like this lady. I get something. WE get something. And sometimes I forget that. Sometimes I make things all about the other person or all about compassion or all about an animal when really it’s about all of us. For I get something from this. 

And even in the darkness at the end of the night, I didn’t get to see that scared dog move into the safety of my car but I did get to see it look back at me, and even in its fear, curiously wonder about the love and concern for it held within a human heart.

And I guess that’s enough.

Kora and the porch

[I’m a pet sitter in Salt Lake City, and Kora is a malamute/chow/samoyed I’m tending].

IMG_0628

 

The pic is of Kora and I the other night, taking our moment to just “be” because Kora is new to pet sitting, was slightly anxious at first and in the week I’ve sat her, i’ve learned that after our walks, she likes to just vibe with her neighborhood. And the effort means I go over the time I’m being paid for and even though these people have told me to charge them for this, I never would, for to my mind, I never want to live a life wherein an act of kindness was somehow required to be compensated externally and when my heart says that something is the right thing to do, I want to listen to that, and make space for Kora, enjoying her company for the sake of no other reason except that I want her to know that she’s valued.

And it’s going really good. She’s even adjusted to my newest theatrics in which I walk into homes saying “where’s my squad?” as if we’re a couple of sorority sisters about to get down on a Friday night, responding to it with some spastic tail wagging/rolling over/eyes closed in bliss kind of thing, and we’ve also managed to sneak in some pretty powerful therapy sessions, going in deep to talk about why she’s now being sat in her home along with her Literally-Useless-Family’s-Cats (her words) rather than going to doggie day care with her sister like she used to. But clearly it’s a work in progress because Kora still thinks it’s an insult that she got kicked out of day care for attacking that other dog when really, how else was that other dog ever going to find out how much Kora hated it and wanted it dead? What else was she supposed to do exactly?

Anyways, we were just chilling when I snapped this–getting a status report on the ‘hood–and in the late evening Friday night “bustle”, saw only a single human being. It was an older man coming out of the home of a neighbor and, as he descended his neighbor’s front steps, a very aged and dusty black cat appeared from next to the same steps and fell in behind him–she/he obviously had been waiting for the man–and as they both crossed the narrow street heading diagonally towards their more northward home, he started repeatedly calling “meow meow” as they walked, and while Kora and I sat there, a much younger all-black cat emerged from some bushes in response to his call and–trotting to join the man and the older black cat–they all collected on the porch of their home and trickled into the house together.

And in terms of being compensated externally, no amount of knowing could’ve helped me predict this occurrence, and I think that sometimes it’s in the void of “not knowing” that Zen can be reached, for it transforms “expecting” into “experiencing” and it’s soothing to mind to slow down and be with the quiet ways of the world and soothing to heart to sit with a dog on a porch watching a man calling his cats back home.

Come see me, Sophie

IMG_3247
Sophie, Cyborg Sophie, Soph, Sophinator

[I’m a pet sitter and the above picture is Sophie–a Siberian Husky I’ve cared for many times–who took a turn for the worse while I was sitting for her and, in dramatic fashion typical of this charismatic girl, her last day on earth was spent with her parents racing back from their honeymoon–driving all night–in order to get to her, after which just a few hours later–time they said was wonderful–she collapsed and died peacefully.   I knew they’d get back in about 2:30 a.m. so during my evening visit Tuesday night, I said goodbye to her, and told her that in whatever world she ended up in, to come see me, for I’ve known her in better times, and long for her to walk and eat and prance and do her barkbeg for treats, and maybe even keep stealing her sister Greta’s chewies and hoarding them in her bed, and walked away in tears, hoping she would come see me, and that I’d again be able to once-more see her looking at my face intently in the charming way she had because she loved life and could not help but look out at it with eyes desiring to share that love with the world].

Come see me, Sophie, as you’re walking the blue twilight between worlds.

Come see me, in that dream land, when the pain disappears, and the body absorbs into stars,
and we can behold the sun as it rises on this first new day.

Come see me, From your world beyond pain, when the boldness of your heart finds itself again, and in the unburdening from flesh you can see the magic of who you are.

Come see me, Sophie, and watch the tears of a Sophie-less morning,
Then scamper off to the world you now belong to, catching joy like butterflies,
looking back to see me (one more time)
Quietly calm in the salty stream
Daring the world to make me forget
For as on the lawn that day and forever, with my hand stretched out, you reached back to me through Time, painting me into wholeness with vibrant splashes of your self, making my heart thump with happiness as your eyes held the wonder of the blue sky and the deep green, and the clouds watched and danced across the sun.

FB Memory Share/Thoughts 

(For people who don’t know me irl, I somehow very circuitously became a pet sitter–someone who takes care of animals in their homes while they’re family is away–as my primary occupation. This post is about one of the families I tended for and that is me in the photos above).

I had to stop sitting for these guys because they had moved to Sandy (I’m strictly Salt Lake City) but if I ever write a book, I’m going to contact Luna’s human to include her story.  

I don’t know what motivates some people to nurture what is not easily nurtured.
Her new owner didn’t know if Luna could be rehabilitated–didn’t know what would happen, was unsure what would come of her effort–but Luna’s story pulled her into a situation wherein, at once, she was faced with the daily acceptance of knowing Luna’s ugly story at the same time as she realized that making a life with Luna would be extra work and no guaranteed outcome.  
And it’s remarkable.

People often want “easy” for whatever reason. Maybe they think easy will make life easier or something; that makes some sense, I guess.  

But really I think the truth is that striving to always make things easy doesn’t always make things easier. Because in always shaping our lives into “easy” we don’t challenge ourselves to rise to anything, and it’s in the rising to things that you hone the ability to stay calm when shit goes down. For you don’t learn to conquer emotional foes by sitting on the sidelines, and there’s emotional power in forging willingly and lovingly ahead through uncertainty.

Laughing out loud is fun

5015388

A pet-sitting client got this book for me–a bit of an inside joke–and I laughed pretty hard, and then bored my daughters with, “Oh, girls!  Listen to this one.”

That Top Shelf

I think I can jump to that top shelf
I want to jump to that top shelf
I know I can jump to that top shelf
I am jumping to that top shelf
I missed that top shelf by a good six feet
And now everything is on the floor
And I’m left wondering
Why people even bother buying china
If it breaks so easily

Elegy for A Toy I Broke

You no longer jingle
You no longer roll
You no longer do anything
Since I had to see what made you work

I can’t deal with all this guilt
I can’t express my deep, deep grief
I can’t believe what a cheap piece of crap you were
Seriously, I hardly touched you before you broke

And then there’s this poem about getting neutered–called “Seriously!?”–which I didn’t share with them because they are far too somber about male sex organs–avoiding the subject with the intensity of a couple of deviants–to ever laugh about such a thing.

Maddie: the force is strong with this one

3235171

 

We recently got a new vet who comes to the house because it was either that or enroll in vet school so I could treat her myself.

Because Maddie–my geriatric German Shorthair Pointer–has always been neurotically afraid of the vet, ever since one of her very first vet appointments when the vet insisted on putting her up on the table–in spite of my ex’s objections–and she injured herself trying to leap off (ostensibly, I imagine, to kill herself; because to Maddie possibly dying was an upside to going to the vet).

Our new vet was very diplomatic, and–as Maddie whacked him in the face with her tail and stepped all over his equipment–he laughed it off as the actions of a “happy dog.”

Then he tried to make me happy by giving her two different kinds of pain meds–one of which he said would relax her (“So,” he said “you might want to give it to her when you need a good nights sleep.”  And I’m like:  then shouldn’t I take one too?).  But, not surprisingly, the “relaxant” didn’t phase her at all.  She still barks at me to play with her, gets into the trash, and jumps up on couches, even though she’s on four different meds and her back legs are collapsing from under her.
Honestly, she’s a force to be reckoned with.  I love that freaking dog.