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BY AUDRE LORDE
For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
like bread in our children’s mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours;
For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.
And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
but when we are silent
we are still afraid
So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive.
I feel worn down.
This is not an uplifting missive, as is usually my way, about kindness and joy. Though those things are still trying to claw their way up out of me.
I feel worn down.
This has been a tough few months for everyone, I don’t deny it. The virus, the violence, the continued finger pointing one side to the other (whatever topic you pick there are two sides), days of isolation and separation and fear.
I devour the news, the numbers, the opinions about the numbers. I look for rays of hope, possibility.
Right now I’m looking for rain. It’s been hot here, muggy, for several days. We’ve had bits of rain, but nothing cooling. We need a little cooling off. Doesn’t everyone?
We lost K’s dad a month and a half ago now. It seems like longer, and yet, not. We just lost our boy dog as well. Just a week and a half ago. I’m still sad about both. I picked up our boy’s ashes yesterday, trying to picture taking them to his favorite spot, a particular beach in Oregon, releasing him there, letting him run forever. I cried in the Jeep after picking them up, feeling the absence of him.
I’m trying to get up. Be up. Look up. I’m trying.
Today is another hard day, I can tell already. I’m not fit for consumption. Meaning, I wouldn’t visit me if I were you. I’m not exactly a bundle of joy right now.
I feel worn down.
This is a temporary thing, these feelings, the way I feel right now. I know this. Logically, I do. I know I’m going to bounce back or up or some other direction. It’s inevitable. Plus, with my usually positive outlook, it’s in me, my natural state, I know I will. I will.
But… I feel worn down.
I need more coffee. I need to pet the girlie. I need to hug my wife. She is sad too.
The world moves on and you grieve. You keep grieving. Wheels turn, people live their lives, they don’t forget, but they get sidetracked by their own stuff. Of course they do. They fail to see that you are still grieving and hurting and sort of stuck where you are. You put on a good face. You laugh appropriately and ask about their days and you mean it. And yet, you feel a sort of black hole inside. An emptiness. No one notices it. You try and camouflage it. You do a pretty good job.
This is not my only experience with death. I’ve lost grandparents who I felt close to and a father and a step father and another step father. I’ve lost cousins and uncles and an aunt. We lost my Mom’s best friend when I was in college. This is not my first rodeo.
There is no point to this post other than to say I’m feeling worn down.
Loss makes you think of other losses you’ve had. I am not immune to the feelings of it.
You look at people living their lives and you envy them. They don’t know you are living in a bubble where time has slowed down. Stop motion is what’s happening over here right now. You?
I don’t know.
It’s freeing to say those words. I don’t know. Much more than saying, oh, I know. I know. I know. I don’t.
You know what it feels like right now? It’s like this…
The other day a spider was running across a wall in our house. I grabbed a glass to capture it so I could release it outside. Yeah, I don’t kill them, I try to save them. Anyway…
I just got a picture in my head of a giant glass coming down over me. People can see in, I can see out, I’m not in distress inside the glass, not really. In fact, I have a nice comfy couch and a tv and a laptop and great music and food. I have my girlie and my wife. But I’m in the glass and there is this separation. I feel the barrier. I know it’s there, even if I can’t physically see it. I can even say hello and wave to people on the outside of the glass. They can wave back. But the glass is there. It’s there.
I need more coffee.
Writing helps. Gets it out of me and onto the page, as if I’m getting that treatment, cupping it’s called, where they put the hot glasses on you and it’s supposed to draw out the toxins. My toxins are getting drawn out.
I’m trying. I’m trying. I’m trying. We went for a walk earlier. We sat outside this morning with our first cup of coffee before the heat started to kick in. Yesterday I watered the flowerbeds and the lawn for three hours, moving the sprinklers when necessary.
I’m still living life. Laughing and smiling at times. Meaning it, feeling it.
We’re in another excessive heat warning today. We’ve been warned. It’s going to be hot.
We could go for a drive. Go to the drive in. Do something. See something. Be somewhere else. Today is not a good day for any of that. I’m afraid I’d take this with me.
I hate wearing a mask. Just saying. It’s necessary. But I hate it.
K is going over to the rental to meet the sprinkler guy in a bit. Regular life stuff. The system needs to be serviced. I’m staying home with our girl, who just had minor surgery and has a big incision that has to heal, because we don’t want to leave her alone right now. We need to watch her. So I’m staying here. That’s OK. We’ll hang.
Poor her. She is deaf now. She is old too, will turn 12 at the end of this month. She can’t hear, is getting weaker in her hinds, and is sad herself, still grieving her brother. She’s never known life without him. She keeps looking for him. I love her so, our little spitfire.
We commiserate together. She and us. Our tiny family of three.
I feel worn down. Which doesn’t change the fact that I need more coffee right now.
I’ll get more coffee right now.
Clift. Cast. Tragic. Greed. Society. Murder. Triangle. Good. Direction. Yes.
Slick. Disjointed. Pace. Disappointing. Cast. Hip. Mood. Smooth. Performances. No.
Biopic. Pressure. FBI. Movement. Civil. Rights. Politics. Jamal. Sad. fence.
Period. Moody. Fun. Quirky. Characters. Aliens. Mystery. Invasion. Writing. Yes.
Nostalgic. Music. Mood. Cruising. Cast. Direction. Snapshot. Vibe. Classic. Yes.
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
“[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” Copyright 1952, © 1980, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust, from Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, edited by George J. Firmage.
This is the first morning in over 13 years I’ve gotten up and haven’t then heard the sound of little paws coming out to find me.
Weston was my shadow. My boy. He wanted to be where I was, most all the time. Following me downstairs when I went to fold the clothes from the dryer, outside if I went to look at the blooms in the yard or just to hang out on our deck, into the kitchen or the dining room, following me into the living room with hopeful eyes that I would sit in our chair and he could join me, settling himself against one of my legs. That guy even followed me into the bathroom where I was supposed to pet him until I was done and would then say OK which was his signal to move along.
He loved love, more than anything. He loved pets. He was insistent about them. Pawing or nosing your hand to let you know it should be on him, and no where else.
Don’t get me wrong. He was cantankerous. We’ve all been bitten by Weston. K and I more than once. He didn’t like certain things… to be picked up like a normal dog around the middle, to have things taken from him that he’d procured somehow, to have someone reach at him if he was in places he considered his den at the time, or just to try and help him when he didn’t want to be helped. He was independent, to a fault, but that was his way. And he would let you know it.
He was our little Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The most loving dog you’d ever meet who wanted nothing more than loves from you and to give kisses right back and the snarky cantankerous boy who would have none of whatever he would have none of.
We loved him so.
Our little man was an amazing thief. He stole things all the time. We realized yesterday, as we picked up after ourselves, that we’d been thoroughly trained by him to not leave a paper towel or Kleenex anywhere he could get it. He would steal it immediately. He loved to rip up and eat those things. We’ve lost many pairs of glasses and Kleenex and post-it notes and paper towels to him over the years.
He even ate things he shouldn’t. Things that were dangerous for him. We were talking last night and laughing, amazed, at all the times he grabbed things and tried to eat them, or just swallowed them in a hurry so no one would try and take whatever it was from him. We called him the sword swallower because when we first brought him home, and he was so very tiny, we’d given him this bone we’d gotten for him. We were leaving him alone in the house for the first time, in his playpen, and we wanted him to have something good while we were gone. We weren’t gone long and when we got back we couldn’t find the bone in the playpen. We couldn’t find it anywhere. What’s more, he had this weird look on his face. Sort of surprised and slightly distressed, though he wasn’t acting distressed. We took him out of the playpen and he ran off into the living room where he jumped up on his chair and ottoman. We walked out of the room, walked back in, and there was that bone, all 6-8 inches of it, harked back up, out of him onto the ottoman. Lordy. We knew we were in trouble with him from then on. And over the years we were proven right. He stole and tried to eat a rib bone, same result with the harking it up. When we were camping once he found a piece of sausage someone had wrapped around a stick and then put hooks on and used to fish. Don’t ask me what that was supposed to catch, but there it was, discarded on the side of the river, and who would find it? Weston. Of course he would. He got a hold of it and then carried it around. We kept him walking so he wouldn’t try to start eating it because we knew the hooks would be disastrous. We got back to the Jeep and took out our bite gloves (yes, we had heavy cowhide work gloves we carried that we called bite gloves for times just like this when we had to get something from him or do something to him we knew he wouldn’t like). K managed to snatch that thing from him. To this day I don’t even know how she did it. And there was that time, road tripping as we do, when we were walking the pups near this gas station (sometimes there just aren’t great spots to take them on the road) and he found a petrified hamburger. It was hard and because he thought we might try to take it from him he tried to swallow it. He started to choke. I thought, right then, Oh God, he’s going to choke to death. I was trying to figure out how to give him the Heimlich maneuver and low and behold he managed to get it down. One time we’d returned from Europe and we had a bag of these really good chocolates inside a zipped up backpack. In fact, they were in a bag inside the backpack, inside a closed closet. He managed to get into the closet (it was a slider), get the backpack out, open the zippered compartment, open the package of chocolate, and eat them all. We were horrified. We called the dog poison hotline and were told we had to get some hydrogen peroxide down him so he would throw up. So there we were in the bathroom, on the tile floor, me holding him and getting the crap scratched out of me for it, and K pouring peroxide down his throat. It worked, he threw most of it up. But man oh man, what an incident.
We had to be hyper vigilant with him. He did what he wanted and sometimes that was dangerous for him. He didn’t care. He was Weston, danger dog.
He was also a smoker. He loved to find cigarette butts on his walks. If he found one, he would eat it. So we had to be vigilant when we walked him, butts, unfortunately, are everywhere. Crazy dog. We would joke that it was time to take Weston our for his smoke break. Because as much as we tried to keep him away from them, we was sneaky and got them anyway.
He was a smart little guy. Too smart. Too cunning. A true mischief maker.
K used to take him to her office once in a while, long ago when she had one. There were like 100 proof machines and next to each one was a garbage can. He loved garbage cans. Or a better description, he loved to knock garbage cans over. He was always looking for whatever treasures he might find there. Her staff would laugh when they came back in and ask her if Weston had been there. They knew he had because every garbage can, every last one, would be tipped over. When we visited anyone, my Mom, K’s parents, we had to make sure we went in first, his advance team, to put all the garbage cans up out of his reach. We had to scan for candy, or wrappers that might be places he could grab them, and move those things up high enough he couldn’t get to them.
Here at home he got into all sorts of mischief. You couldn’t leave your coffee cup sitting next to your chair for even a moment because the second you left the area he was there, drinking your coffee. He was a master thief, lying in wait, watching all the time, waiting for any opportunity. He pulled things off shelves in the kitchen. We had to organize with him in mind, and even when we did he still went for things. His reach, for being small in stature, was amazing. One time we came back into the living room and found he had managed to pull this old package of instant breakfast we had shoved to the back of the top shelf in the cart and forgotten about. He shouldn’t have been able to get that, but somehow, he did. We found him standing over the ripped up package with powder all over his muzzle. We re-arranged our shelves, again, for him after coming up from watching TV to find him in the living room with a bag of sugar he’d managed to somehow pull down off the shelf, drag to the living room, tear open, and enjoy. The most hilarious thing was the time we were downstairs watching TV in the evening and he had disappeared, which was always a bad sign. Suddenly we heard a loud bang. We both ran up the stairs to find he’d gotten a box of cans of green beans off the bottom shelf, drug it into the living room, and torn up most of an end of the box. I’m not sure how he thought he was getting into the cans, but you know, after everything he’d pulled off, I wouldn’t have put it past him. There is an endless list of things he stole and ate, or tried to eat. A classic was the time, when we still lived in Oregon, I’d set an egg salad sandwich on our pool table while I went into the kitchen for a moment, thinking that was a safe place out of reach for him. No. I came back and my sandwich was gone. He’d managed to jump up onto the sectional, get on the back of the sectional, and jump to the pool table to get to the sandwich. He liked to jump into chairs that were left out to get to tables. We felt like he could’ve been a circus performer in another life.
Every night he had the same routine. As we got ready for bed and after they went outside to do their business he would, as we brushed teeth and got some water and changed, go into K’s office and rummage through whatever pants she’d been wearing that day. He pulled them down off of wherever she’d put them and went through her pockets. If there was anything… Kleenex, cough drop, candy wrapper, he would get it.
A standard phrase yelled in our house for the last 13 years has been, “TREAT!”. It was our way of getting him inside if he was barking at a neighbor (he was friendly to them, but wanted them to pet him and if they didn’t, or until they did, he would bark at them) or a squirrel he’d run up a tree. Yelling “TREAT!” was also our way of getting something away from him he shouldn’t have. Again, we were trained, not him. We couldn’t just take anything from him because of his snarkiness so our option was to bribe him into letting whatever it was go. It worked, but really I think it was all just part of his plan. He would steal something he knew we didn’t want him to have, we would offer him a treat to give it up. Pretty smart. But then, he was a very very smart dog. It was a blessing and a curse, and also the reason for his name.
Weston. Our beautiful boy. He was named after his birthplace, Weston, Oregon. It’s in the Blue Mountains, and it’s lovely. As we were driving to pick him up we’d already picked out a name for him. We had a tag and everything. But when we picked him up and he looked at us with those deep brown eyes, eyes that looked into you, that felt like they were a thousand years old, we knew the name we’d picked wasn’t right. We felt like he looked studious, nerdy, deep thinking. K said, he sort of looks like he should be wearing little glasses and a blazer. Kind of like Harry Potter. We laughed, but it was true. So on the drive back the name change process began. I don’t know how it happened, which one of us thought of it, but somehow in that conversation, as we were running over things, where was he born, intellectual people we could name him after, etc. we said the name of the town. We looked at each other and bam, that was it. Weston. Perfect somehow. Perfectly him.
You know, the funny thing about him, and about his snarkiness, is that we always warned groomers and the people at his vet office about his snarkiness. We always said, watch him, don’t try to pick him up around the middle, cradle him to pick him up, don’t try to take anything from him if he gets anything, etc. We did this every time. We didn’t want anyone to get nipped. But he never bit anyone at those places and in fact everyone always told us, when we picked him up, how wonderful he was. How loving. What a great dog he was.
And he was. He was a great dog. He was the best boy. Snarkiness, and stealing, and mischief, and all. Because with all of that came so much love from him. So much joy. He loved to go for walks and play ball and play with his toys and chew on his bully sticks and run on the beach. The beach was his favorite place. When we could let him off his lead he would run like the wind, chase balls, get sticks, dig holes. He ran and ran, he played, he chased birds, then he would trot over periodically to get a pet or two, giving you little gentle kisses to let you know he loved you as much as you loved him. Letting you know he was so grateful to be there with us, in whatever place we were.
He was our boy. Complicated and intense and a pain in the ass and so loving. So loving.
He had our hearts, and still does. He always will. Our beautiful boy. Our sword swallowing mischief maker. Our one of a kind, full of personality, wonderful, beautiful boy.
March 1, 2007 – June 28, 2020
Desolate. Mikkelsen. Cold. Quiet. Survival. Human. Enthralling. Haunting. Bear. Yes.
Future. Riots. Criminals. Foster. Brown. Characters. Violence. Heart. Romp. yes.