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Today, I am doing ok. Most of this week, however, was not easy. I alternated between feeling a sense of impending doom or just general sadness. I think wrapping up our nightly candlelight vigil for you was harder than I anticipated. It’s not that I don’t still think of you every day, but it’s hard letting go of a concrete practice, a habit, a physical and deliberate act, that we continued to keep you in our lives.
One of the things I’m going to do is start keeping a daily writing and drawing journal. I was reinspired to do so after reading Lynda Barry’s Syllabus: Notes From an Accidental Professor. I know I often say I’m going to start keeping a journal (by hand) again every few months, but I think this time I will make a bigger effort. I realized that having some guidance in the form of exercises and a format for daily observations might be the kind of support I need to get back into the habit.
I just lit the last candle in the package for you. It’s been over three months now since your passing.
This past Saturday, I did a 5K walk for the library as a fundraiser for the summer reading program. I did the walk in your memory, and my friends generously donated $870 collectively in support of us. The 5K was in Roseville, and we walked around the park that we had visited once last year on a whim. It was a beautifully sunny day for the walk.
I want to write a book on art/creativity and dogs. I want to bring together drawing, creative thinking, and experiencing the world from dogs’ perspectives. You taught me how to see different things in the everyday world around me, and you showed me ways of being in the world that I never would have known possible like finding such intense pleasure in running through the fields and woods at the dog park.
Yesterday was a difficult day, emotionally. Maybe it was the overcast, rainy weather (again/still). Maybe it was hearing sad news–the death of a friend’s mother and denial of tenure for a colleague. Whatever it was, I pretty much shut down yesterday. And in the evening, I asked Mr. Frog if we could let Otis sleep in the bed with us instead of in his crate. So it was his first night on the bed. At some point, he went back to his crate. And he got up before 6 am and bugged Mr. Frog to get up. But all in all, it was a pleasant night. We’ll probably have him sleep in the crate a few more weeks so that he gets extra comfortable with it.
I cut off my facial hair yesterday evening. You remember that I was growing out the patch of hair on my chin for the last few years, and it was getting close to a foot long. It was scraggly and full of gray. Today, I find myself stroking my beard, but it’s not there. And I’ll go to rest my chin on my hand in a way that accommodated the beard, but again, the beard was not there as expected. It’s like how we kept reaching for ways of being in the everyday world in those first weeks after you left and discovering that you’re no longer there with us, Giles.
Time flies. I’m not quite sure what I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks. Here we are in May already, though.
The May Day Parade that goes through Powderhorn Park was this past Sunday. It brings in a huge crowd, and we saw streams of cars, bicycles, people, and dogs go by even though we’re a few blocks away from the park. Otis, we think, was a bit overwhelmed by all the stuff, and he seemed a bit anxious for a couple of days after, reverting back to some of his scared-of-everything behavior that he showed the first week he lived with us.
It’s been so refreshing working in Ramsey County Library again. People have been so nice to me, and I’ve felt such a deep sense of collegiality from staff.
I missed you pretty fiercely last night all of a sudden when I was working at the library.
We think you would’ve really loved Otis, our new dog. He’s a bigger dog, and you generally didn’t take to big dogs but rather wanted to fight them. However, he’s very laid back and loves dogs, so we think you would’ve gotten used to him pretty quickly and enjoyed his company.
Otis has started to perk up quite a bit and isn’t scared of everything. He seems to love squirrels and rabbits as much as you did and is pulling mightily on his leash when he spots them. He also loves cats–at least for now since he hasn’t actually interacted with one like you did (to semi-disastrous results).
Still under the weather. I ended up taking sick days on both Monday and Tuesday, although I still had to do a couple hours of work each day (more effort to reschedule/cancel those things than to slog through them in my sickness daze).
I’m feeling a bit better now but still greatly fatigued. And now instead of a sore/pained throat, I am totally congested and phlegmy. I have to go expel some sputum regularly at the sink. It’s quite disgusting, and I want to do still is just lie around.
Urgh. It was busy last week, and apparently my immune system couldn’t handle all that was going on. I was dragging Friday through the weekend, and Sunday night, I finally understood I was fighting off a cold or the onset of severe seasonal allergies or something because my throat started hurting. I have some important meetings and webinars today and tomorrow, but I’ll be taking a sick day anyways and just attending those things that would be a pain to reschedule.
I wonder if you remember how scared you were of everything when you first came to live with us. You also weren’t feeling that well because of an infection. Mr. Frog says that you were so terrified of different floor surfaces that you didn’t leave the little floor rug we placed you on for a whole day. We could pick you up, though, and carry you places when you were terrified because you were only 16 pounds or so. Otis is about 70 pounds, so it’s not possible just to scoop him up when he gets terrified. Maybe when he’s more comfortable with us, we can pick him up, but at this point, we can’t even give it a try when he freezes up and tries to hide.
Today was our first full day with Otis/Oats. In this picture from yesterday evening when we first got home with him and were hanging out in the yard to help him feel more comfortable before going inside, he looks quite a lot like you.
The picture is kind of surprising since you two look nothing alike from the front. Still, I like to think that you are passing on the torch to Otis as our four-legged companion. He’ll need a lot of encouragement to build his confidence. He was doing really well for the first couple of walks. And then this afternoon, we inadvertently took him over a metal grate that startled him so intensely that he slipped his collar and ran off to the edge of the pier at the park’s pond. He was terrified after that and has been unresponsive to us when before he had paid attention to us even if he didn’t know what we wanted him to do. Still, we played fetch in the yard after we returned from that scary walk. And this evening, we went to the park again, and though he was still less responsive than he was before, we made it around the pond past the pier. He was definitely very unhappy about that area, but we coaxed him along.
We miss you a lot, and I’ll be telling Otis all about you and the adventures we had together.
We brought home Otis yesterday. He’s a scaredy dog, much like you were when you first came to live with us. He was happy getting in the car from his foster home, but once we got to our house, he didn’t want to get out of the car. And then he was afraid to go inside the house from the yard, so we hung out with him for a half hour to get him a bit more comfortable first. Everything new is scary for him.
This morning, he’s a little more comfortable in some ways. He already made himself at home in my spot on the couch, much like you liked to do.
The door buzzer just went off and stayed buzzing. I checked at the door, but no one was there. I fiddled with the buzzer button, and the buzzing stopped. Creepy.
Yesterday, we met a dog at his foster home. We met another dog shortly after that across town as well. And then Mr. Frog requested to adopt that first dog we saw. There’ll be a home visit this afternoon (while I’m at work at the library), and if the foster person okays our residence for the dog, he’ll come to live with us–perhaps as soon as this evening! It’s happening really quickly all of a sudden. Mr. Frog had been sending out inquiries to meet with dogs for a couple of weeks and not gotten much response. As I mentioned about last weekend, we stopped by a few adoption events where foster people bring the dogs in their care to a central location (usually a pet store) for people to meet. The dog we’re thinking about adopting wasn’t at one of those events, but after last weekend’s visits, when I was looking up one of the dogs we did see, I saw the dog’s picture and thought he would be a lovely companion. As a dog, he reminds me of you in some ways, of course, but Mr. Frog and I were also clear with each other that we would not adopt a beaglish dog because he or she would remind us too much of you. This dog is much bigger but also had come from a shelter where he lived for 8 months previously (!). That’s a very long time to be in a shelter, and he wasn’t put down because the staff loved him so much, but he did not show well to prospective adopters because he is a very nervous dog. That part reminds me of you, and it’s something that makes my heart melt. I want to help him become more confident and feel safe in the world the way we did with you.
It’s your birthday today, Mr. Giles. You would’ve turned 12. Mr. Frog and I will do something special together in your memory. Maybe I’ll pick up some cupcakes to share on your altar tonight. And we can take a long walk together–it’s sunny out today although rather chilly.
Yesterday, I was thinking about how my therapist a few years backed asked, sort of out of the blue one session, whether I thought the world was a safe place. The way he asked it, I realized for the first time that there are people who function in this world with a belief that things are good and that good will come to those who are good people. I understood that people, let’s call them well-adjusted, see the world as a place where things make sense, and even when bad things happen, there’s a reason and the potential for justice. I also understood, though, that my therapist could tell that I didn’t believe these things and at the root of everything, I was perhaps a pessimist and a nihilist.
I didn’t really know what to do with that realization, and I still don’t. I think this core belief is especially troubling because it battles mightily with my expressed belief in hope and in social justice–the ability to make things better in the world for everyone, especially those who are oppressed. And I’m struggling with this idea still because I find myself burning out in institutions that I see as not valuing this idea of justice and equality, whose modus operandi is to maintain the status quo at all costs and to ignore or outright dismiss any concerns.
Yesterday, we stopped by a few meet-and-greet adoption events for dogs around town. We’re not going to adopt another beaglish dog because the reminders of you would be too much. We’re not looking to replace you but to bring another joyful canine presence or two into our lives. Mr. Frog had two other dogs in his life before you/us, but you were my first dog companion.
Today is going well. I woke up, dropped off some books at the library, got bagel sandwiches, and had breakfast in bed with Mr. Frog. I spent the rest of the morning in bed doing some website work and responding to e-mail. Then we took a brief walk to the mailbox a couple blocks away. It’s sunny out. We passed a few dogs in their yards, all doing a good job of barking at us as we passed.
Now that I’m only working one full time job instead of two (and the one I have is a work-from-home situation), I’m getting to spend a lot more time with Mr. Frog. It’s really nice. Just the little conversations we have throughout the day when we’re both home–those are wonderful, even if we don’t talk about anything big… just the little things… like what the doctor said to me when I got a check up last week. Mr. Frog started walking me yesterday and today, too, because I wasn’t doing a very good job of implementing the doctor’s orders to exercise at least 30 minutes a day 3 days a week.