Friday, August 26, 2011


"I want to be in group 2," Best told me while we milled about, waiting for our turn to board the flight back east toward home.

"Sit by the window," I replied helpfully, for that is how one gets in group 2.

"No," he replied with a shake of his head. "I want to be on the aisle and in group 2." My lips curved in an approximation of a smile and I returned my attention to the gate agent, hoping there would be enough overhead space for our items and thinking that it just didn't work that way. You don't always get what you want, but there is often a way to get something. It ends up being a judgment call in a priority game.

"Sprout escaped," Dad reported when I answered my phone after dinner. We'd settled on a deck by the water to eat fresh seafood and talk of life and business and art. And after taking a last lungful of ocean air, I climbed in the car to ride back to the hotel.

"That's fine, Dad," I replied gently. "He's been getting out lately and always does fine. He'll be back in the morning."

"I didn't mean to let him out," he reported, sounding terribly guilty. "And he wouldn't come back when I called him."

"Yes," I soothed. "He knows his own feline mind. But I'd be surprised if he wasn't inside when you wake up tomorrow. Get some sleep."

And, sure enough, Dad reported that he went on the deck the next morning to call for the cat, hearing a meow in reply from inside the screen where Sprout looked at him inquisitively from the kitchen floor.

"I was worried about him," Dad told me and I smiled. And with a swish of a stripey tail, Sprout went to find a spot in the sunshine so he could nap.

"I want to go home," I whined to Best upon landing in our layover city. But despite our best efforts, a plane that left California 3 hours late didn't allow for our presence on the connecting flight and my shoulders slumped in a dangerous mixture of exhaustion and frustration.

"We were up at 3:30AM to get here yesterday!" I recited, trailing along behind him so we could make alternate plans. "We spent 5 hours at the airport before catching a long flight and missing our connection. It's 10:30PM. I'm tired. I have a 7:00AM meeting tomorrow and I have to catch a 6AM flight again on Sunday! Damn you, United."

"Feel better?" he asked, tugging his suitcase behind him, shoulders slumped in a manner similar to mine.

"No," I pouted, wanting to whimper. "But there's nothing I can do about it."

So whether it's an iPad running out of power just before I finished my book or San Diego's shrinking fishing fleet of charming boats or the fact that, try as I might, I couldn't get to sleep until after 3AM and had zero energy with which to think during important meetings today, there are some things one can't control.

And then there's the delicious moment where my head hits the pillow and muscles relax and a marine-layer like fog envelops my brain when nothing matters all that much anymore.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Great Escapes

Creature One - Sir Sprout
Chienne exhibits stubborn resistance to the use of her dog doors. I, in turn, exhibit strong displeasure when she has an accident in the basement. Hence, we've taken to spending time together out back.

I coax her out the sliding glass door to the deck and settle myself on the low steps leading to the grass. Then I shake my head at Sprout's plaintive calls through the screen as Chienne makes her way slowly around her once-familiar yard.

On Friday, feeling rather permissive, I invited the stripey cat out with us as we soaked in the last of the setting sunshine. (I told Friend he escaped - no tattling, OK?) I smiled as he placed his paws carefully on the paint-chipped wood, smoothing his coat when he came to my side and shaking my head when he finally lept gracefully off the edge to land behind the shed.

I wasn't worried when canine and Katie entered without him - it was pleasantly cool and typically quiet in my neighborhood. But I did leave the house with a flashlight in hand, hurrying toward the neighbor's landscaped hill when I heard him meowing - long and loud - hours later. But he ran from my attempt at rescue and I scowled at him as he scampered past the thin, glowing beam of light.

Creature Two - Mr. Frog & Friends
My lawn has grown long over past weeks. I chose to mostly ignore this as it makes me feel more productive to mow an overgrown yard than one that's just modestly messy. But as I attempted to battle the massive weeds last night, my mower stuttered and coughed then refused to start again. So, a single lap in, I stopped and frowned and told Sprout - who had magically found his way back in the house by 7AM Saturday morning - that he was not allowed outside again since he'd displayed no respect for curfew and I'd waited up past 2AM for him.

I returned to the yard this morning, coaxing the mower to life while Chienne wandered carefully around the yard. The grass and weeds continued to choke the poor machine so I abandoned the self-propelled feature and propelled it myself. I paused, waiting for the grass and weeds to be chewed up and spit out when I saw a creature clumsily leap from within the towering (to said creature - not necessarily to me) growth.

Frowning, I nudged the mower forward another couple of inches and gasped when the amphibian reappeared, hopping as though he was unsure of which direction to flee.

"Well, hell," I said, voice unheard over the roar of the mower and stood there indecisively. I saw a smaller frog hop frantically toward the clippings at the fence, burrowing beneath while I smiled at his intelligence - I was obviously done over there. The larger one remained in my path, however, and the thought of mowing him down was awful.

So I left him a patch of tall grass in the corner of the yard, pausing each time to make sure he wasn't inadvertently hit while making his way to the little oasis. I will admit I hope he doesn't die - I think the length of the lawn provided a moist underlayer for our ribbetty guests. I'd go to take a photo for you but I'm afraid I'd find sun-dried frog.

Creature Three - Chienne Marie
Upon my triumphant completion of the lawn, I beamed at my tiny, fenced kingdom and patted my pretty puppy when she trotted to my side.

"All done!" I reported. "Now we just put the mower and gasoline back in the garage and call it a day!" She wagged her tail and, appreciating the support, I decided to let her out the gate and in through the garage rather than going out of my way and coaxing her back up on the deck and through the sliding door. Then she gets inside in a way that's more convenient for me. And - being blind and all - it's not like she'd revert to old habits and run away.

Except that she did.

"Wait," I called warningly when she trotted down the driveway. Away from the house - which was the way I had nudged her - and toward the street. I called her name and praised when she paused, but she continued on her way when I approached, stumbling off the curb and into the street once again.

I repeated her name as she stumbled into the curb on the other side, climbing up and running promptly into a tree before continuing on past the houses across the street. I cursed under my breath and smiled with evil satisfaction when she smacked into a shed. "I hope that hurt," I told her, then she thwarted me by running past my grip.

I broke into a jog, lost one flip-flop and finally wrapped my fingers around her pink collar. Without a leash, I walked the block or so back home bent over her.

"Bad Dog!" I scolded when we finally reached the driveway. I shoved her inside the gate before putting the mower away and making sure avenues of future escape were firmly closed. She obligingly put her tail down and lowered her head, lapping at water in her dish before settling on the couch for a nap.

Which I now need as well.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tech Support

"Did you call?" I asked around a yawn after dialing Dad's cell. I nodded when he said they needed help with emailing a document Mom had written to the fellowship group she was in.

"She typed all these notes and she got them to print but now she can't send them to anyone. And we've clicked a bunch of stuff but nothing works." So I logged into their Gmail account (because this happens sometimes) and nodded upon viewing the document.

"Do you want all but the first line indented?" I asked, frowning at the format before rubbing at the ache in my head.

"No!" she replied and I could hear her tapping at keys and clicking on options. I did the same, nudging at margins and looking at formatting options.

"Crap," I finally muttered. "I don't know what to do." And I wrinkled my nose over using brute force and just retyping the 5 pages of notes on who was running vacation Bible school and whose turn it was to bring cookies next time. (Though I would consider attending women's fellowship on carrot cake day - I do enjoy carrot cake.)

So I listened to stories about day care drama with the other grandparents and how they bought into a vacation program ("We're spending your inheritance!" Dad happily reported in the background and I laughed.) while I looked up document templates until I found one that I liked. I pasted the document and the text aligned neatly along the left margin.

"I did it!" I reported and Mom immediately looked since we both remained logged into her account. So she copied and pasted into Gmail and sent the note to her group, leaving Dad time to ask if I'd seen this super-funny email forward. (Oh, how he loves the email forward. And, oh, how I do not care about email forwards...)

And I smiled before taking more Advil because I'd been helpful. And when my job leaves me feeling a bit like I'm chasing my non-existent tail, I'll take any moments of being effective that I can find.

Though, on that note, I am shifting responsibilities if not roles. While I've firmly turned down a relocation opportunity (given my canine situation as well as the underlying fact that I'm very settled here and have zero (well, minimal) desire to move), there is a lingering chance that I'll spend more time in Paris.

So I remind myself I'm lucky to do something that's lucrative and stable. That I work for someone who, while not without faults, does try to point me in directions I will find suitable and satisfying and takes into account what I enjoy and where I do feel effective.

I'm counting my blessings even as I scowl at other situations I'm choosing not to discuss. And hoping a little that said situations eventually sort themselves out as work seems to be doing.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Largely the Same

"What?" I asked when Adam looked at me, appearing to be puzzled.

"Your hair is different," he replied, narrowing his eyes into a squint.

"I washed it at 3 this morning then went back to bed," I told him. "This is how it looks when it dries naturally." I tried to smooth the waves that I'd left alone to tickle my back left bare by the dress I'd chosen.

As of late, I've not been unwell. I like those statements - I say a lot 'I don't disagree' or 'I'm not unhappy.' Chienne is fine - she's adjusting reasonably well and still greets me with excessive joy when I return from my forays into the outside world. We eat and sleep and take walks in weather turned deliciously cool.

I sleep best in the early hours, knowing that when I climbed into bed to dampen pillows with wet hair that I would be the opposite of an eager beaver or early bird this Monday morning. So I sighed upon opening my eyes, taking a moment to admire the sheer drape fluttering in the open door before closing them again.

I rested as dawn nudged along the edge of my consciousness, vaguely aware of the brightening light and chirping of birds as the morning grew later. But I closed my eyes tighter, burrowing deeper into my comforter and feeling my lips curve when Chienne cuddled closer - her back to mine. "We're still sleepy, huh, pretty?" I murmured and drifted into dreams again.

And in these dreams - the ones this morning - I was beautiful and capable and patient and kind. I had crushes on me capable of loving me and did projects with stunning talent and ambitious time lines. Chloe could see and pranced around the edges of her yard, barking happily at the neighborhood dogs and wagging her tail so hard that it made a loud thwapping sounds upon striking the wooden fence. There were flowers in gentle pastels and just enough clouds filtering the sunlight.

I sighed again, arching into a stretch atop my flannel sheets, when Sprout scampered by in his stripey glory, meowing at the birds in the morning. But I fought the urge to hurry Chienne through her walk, taking deep breaths and practicing patience as she paused her trotting paws at every tree or random smell. Her tail wagged at other dogs and she lifted her head to be petted, jumping only a little when they startled her from an odd direction.

I moved one step closer to a near-impossible goal at work. I ate lunch with Adam and polished presentations between populating spreadsheets. I argued half-heartedly, looking longingly out windows toward the sunshine. I returned home with a guacamole-laden burrito to share with my dog and took pictures - the first I've taken in weeks - of some weeds in the yard.

And that's all there is to tell right now.

Thursday, August 04, 2011


I'm uncharacteristically passive of late. Would rather listen than speak. Learn instead of teach. Wait in favor of acting.

So I type posts and comments but delete without publishing. Nothing is right - some words come close, but the pages fail to communicate anything of value or interest. So I read books or play games or take naps.

This is not to say I'm unwell. I work. I sleep and eat and walk with my pretty dog. And she's adjusting very well with just a couple of blips to adjust medications. We've extended our walks to normal length but they've increased dramatically in duration. Instead of our brisk wanderings, each of us lost in our own thoughts, we now move with a shorter tether. I remind myself to watch carefully - alert her with a gentle 'careful' to oncoming bushes or fences or landscaping. She mostly heeds the gentle tugs to her leash and I smile as she trots along with her ears perked and tail up. It's progress.

But when I begin to relax, to ease into daydreams or plan professional activities, she'll gasp, startled when she stumbles. Or wince when her snout bounces off a mailbox. And I remind myself that it's different now. That I must focus on the moment and answer the question before me and grasp for patience I do not typically possess.

It leaves me unsettled and exhausted. So when work offers a challenge, I tend to sigh rather than pounce. I don't care as much as I should - having this sense that it's all so fleeting and trivial.

So I've increased my dose of trusty SSRIs. And force myself to follow a proper schedule with adequate productivity. While hoping that while the blindness is permanent for Chienne, this mood will soon pass for me.