I’m A Puppy, You’re A Cat: The Conversation

Puppy Love

Puppy Love (Photo credit: ransomtech)

Puppy Love

Puppy Love (Photo credit: zane.hollingsworth)

I know, I know, I am just the cutest little puppy you have ever seen, right? Here I come, bounding into a room, all loose limbs and enthusiasm, drooling and licking your face, I love you, I love, I love you so much. I love you just because you are here in this room with me and you are my best friend, forever. That’s who I am, your puppy, for as long as I shall live, until the day I die and not for a second before that. You were made for me and I was made for you and I am going to sleep next to your bed or on your bed or in your bed and give you licks on your face and your feet and sometimes your belly because you are just the most delicious person on earth. Yes you are! Yes you are! You want to take me on a walk, did you say? I CANNOT believe how lucky I am to have you, for you to have picked me, little old me from the shelter, I am the LUCKIEST dog around, I knew it!!! Did I tell you how much I really love YOU?

Not me, snarled the cat, take it down a notch, would you canine? Ugh. Yo, owner this is where it’s at: I may like you, I may even become fond of you, in time. That is if you treat me the way I want to be treated( consistently) and when I am in the mood for it, when I want it not when YOU want it. I may (notice I said MAY) skirt around your legs, but no promises. I am in control here, do you understand, because I’m only saying this once. Read my lips, one time only. I’m in control, not you, never you. You want affection from me? Ha Ha Ha, Seriously? You must be thinking of that other species, you know the other kind, the D-O-G kind. I’ll walk around on your kitchen table and shed my fur into your food when I feel like it.What, you got a problem with that?! I didn’t think So. I had a really good time when I  hacked up a fur ball, right in your cereal bowl, you dumb fool. You thought you swallowed the wrong way? HA HA HA. I do get the affection part, it just has to be on MY terms, like when you rub my neck a certain way, when you hear me purr, keep doing whatever you are doing. That’s the best I can do. I got nothing else for you, I’m done, take me as I am or leave, could not care which you choose. Ever.

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Family Matters

daughter & dad

daughter & dad (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When my neighbor, Lisa, a young woman with two children, told her father, on the phone, that she didn’t WANT him to pick her up for her CAT scan, I felt an unexpected lump in my throat. My father would have done the same thing. Oh G-d, how I miss that. After a few minutes Lisa  decided to let him pick her up and I was glad, “let him do this for you, it will make him happy” I said.  I quickly entered my house with tears stinging my eyes.

I expect the holiday season as a frame for us to mourn family members and friends who have died.  I was not prepared for this. This was unexpected and it hit me harder because I didn’t see it coming. Isn’t that always the case? I prepare myself for the holidays from November through January but it’s always what you don’t expect to happen that throws you off-balance and hurts the most.

When my father was alive and healthy, years ago, nothing would have stopped him from helping his two daughters, at any time, day or night.  Lisa’s situation brought those old memories back, piercing my heart, draining it. I remembered the time I was terrified of the sounds of the mice running in my walls and a couple that ran over my toes in my studio apartment and he picked me up to “take me home.” Or the one time in college when I had no idea about money and bounced a check (I did what?) and he resolved it and explained it to me. My dad made everything better; he was always on my side. I pray I said “Thank you” I pray I said, “I love you Dad.” I hope I did.

My father died on New Year’s Eve, ten year’s ago, my whole family is aware of that date.  I was not at all prepared for the random comment with my neighbor and it struck me so deeply. How lucky she was to be so young, to have young kids and young parents. I was looking back in time; this was me twenty years ago, this was me before we moved to New York, with two healthy parents and two young children.

You have no idea how fast time flies by. I didn’t know either. It flashes by so unexpectedly, the toddler whose hand you were holding to cross the street is in his second year of college; the baby girl you longed for after him is in her first year of college, far away. Two children, two completely different personalities; the mystery of motherhood finally solved for me.

“What did you do to make my sister and me so different?” I would ask my mother over and over again. It didn’t make sense. The same parents, the same setting, the same upbringing, what happened? We were so different, I needed to know. My mother would laugh and say “Nothing” and I didn’t believe her; I felt like she was holding out on a secret. That was, until I had two children, 21 months apart, completely different from one another and I knew, my mom had been right all along. We did nothing differently, they came out of the womb their own person. What they did have in common were that both were separate, perfect, miracles and yes, (hear that kids?) we love them exactly the same.

Learning To Love Lexi

Lexi – photo by author

After our family dog, Callie, died from cancer of the spleen from one moment to the next, I was heartbroken. We all were. This happened shortly after her           tenth birthday party, a tradition in our home, mocked by the boys but revered by the girls. This year, being her BIG birthday, even the boys made an appearance and I was so happy. I even bought the number 10 candles and put them in her special mushy dog food that we gave her once a year as a treat. Little did we know it would be her last birthday and that she would die shortly thereafter. My son took me aside after she died and said quietly “Really glad you had that birthday party, Mom, it was a good party.” Of course, I burst into tears but was grateful.

Of the four of us and our neighbors, I was the most emotional; I’m always the most emotional. I couldn’t walk around our small, cozy house without crying. It was too quiet in the house, no one followed me or greeted me at the door, no one loved me like Callie did and I missed her desperately. I grieved intensely  for a while and then decided I was the type of person who needed a dog. Against the lectures of my family, I started visiting animal shelters on my own, with my husband and with my friend, Sarah.

After months of visiting, holding, petting, I hadn’t found the right dog for us. I had been told to adopt an older animal (and next time I really will) but at this point I didn’t want to miss a minute of a puppy’s young life. I looked at older dogs but not seriously. I was happy just being near dogs and puppies until one day, my thirtieth trip to an animal shelter but the second trip to the North Shore Animal League, my friend Sarah and I walked in and my eyes met the sleepy eyes of a rust colored puppy, curled up in a circle, sleeping. I had just met MY dog. We fell in love. I asked to see her, this “German Shepard Mix” and soon I was led to an inside room and she was in my lap, all kisses and hugs and sleepy sweetness. When another woman asked me if I was taking that dog, I immediately said “Yes, this was MY dog” and so she became mine. My friend Sarah and I filled out the papers, (I tell the dog that she has two mommies) and I called my husband and said “Honey, it’s a girl!”

I named her Lexi (were both names from my favorite show Grey’s Anatomy?) and I sat in the back seat, Lexi sleeping in my lap, while Sarah drove us home ever so carefully to avoid the huge pot holes in the road. I did not substitute Lexi for Callie, it was a different love, a new love, a love I had to grow into and an important lesson to learn. There are no two loves alike in this world. You can love equally but not exactly alike. This applies to every type of love there is, it’s a huge life lesson.

I admit, I had forgotten what having a puppy was like, after all, I was ten years older now and that makes a big difference. I think my puppy years are behind me and while I know I will always be a “dog person” I can see adopting an older dog in the future. But, what was most different were their personalities, Callie was a lap dog, a fearful dog, terrified of being in cars, scared of people, perhaps abused before she came to us. She liked nothing better than to stay at home in her comfort zone, yet she was perfectly attuned to my feelings. Lexi, wild thing, crazy dog, likes nothing better than to hop in the back seat and go for a ride, has the strength of a bull, loves to play, jump and go places and hasn’t shown a lot of tenderness (yet.) She’s fun and playful and but when I fell on the ground once, she didn’t leave me, I even saw concern in her eyes and gratitude in mine. Once she’s through her puppy phase I’m hoping she will settle down and be a really great dog. Actually, I’m counting on it.

Carry On Tuesday: Standing at the crossroads…

Times Square, NYC

Times Square, NYC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Peter and Stephanie lived in Manhattan, where the neon lights and the booming noises, bounced through their apartment windows.  They were young, married and happy. They met up with friends for dinner at noodle restaurants or sushi or Thai food several times a week. Peter was a lawyer, Stephanie was in PR and they enjoyed their life. They stayed up late, needed little sleep and felt alive with NYC’s streets lit up with musicians, dancers, and a hundred different languages spoken at a time.

It was not, however, relaxing. Peter started getting restless and started complaining about the noise in the city, and how he could just not stand another ambulance screeching through the city streets. Peter started talking about moving to the suburbs, so they could buy a house, raise children, plant a garden. Stephanie didn’t object outright but she had no desire to leave the city anytime soon.

Three months later Stephanie learned that she was pregnant quite accidentally. She had gone to her Internist for a physical having been tired and feeling run down and when the blood work came back, she was pregnant. She was in complete shock and didn’t tell Peter that night, she needed a few days alone to digest the news. This had not been planned and Stephanie hated surprises but she knew they wanted kids in the future.

Later that week, Stephanie interrupted Peter and said “she needed to talk to him and that it was serious.” He couldn’t read her expression and crazy thoughts went flying through his mind, “Is it over?” Is she having an affair?” “Is she dying?” It was none of those things, she said.  She told him that she was pregnant, he was ecstatic and relieved. Tears flooded his eyes and he jumped up and when he tried to hug and kiss her she sat absolutely still. They talked long into the night and Peter could not contain his joy and Stephanie could not hide her ambivalence.

Peter said “ambivalence” was normal, there was never a “perfect time to have kids” and she reluctantly agreed. He called his parents and hers, he called their friends and told them the news; Stephanie liked the attention. Her friends and family were absolutely “cooing” they were so happy and Peter woke up every morning like he had just won the lottery, grinning, his face lit up like the sun.

Peter insisted that moving to the suburbs from the city was the right choice now. They knew they could never afford living in their tiny Manhattan apartment and have room for a bassinet much less a baby carriage. Peter started to look at starter houses immediately but Stephanie stayed home. “She was tired” she said and he knew her taste. Besides, she was just two months pregnant and they had plenty of time.

Within a month, Peter had it narrowed it down to four houses. Peter and Stephanie agreed to meet at Grand Central so they could take the train to Briarcliff Station where their realtor would be waiting for them. They were meeting at eleven thirty to take the train at noon. At 11:00 they confirmed their plans. Peter was there first and he waited for Stephanie to arrive. It was now 11:45 and there was no sight of Stephanie. He rang her cell phone frantically but she didn’t pick up. He waited another hour there and annoyed, went back to the apartment.

Back home he called everyone he knew but no one had seen or heard from Stephanie, not even her family or best friends. They feared she was abducted, it was not like her not to call. Peter had called every hospital in the city, he called the police and gave them a description and a photo, still no word.

Two days later, Molly, Stephanie’s best friend, rang the bell and Peter let her in immediately. She started crying hysterically and Peter couldn’t understand what she said, nothing made sense.  Finally, Molly reached into her red, leather bag and pulled out a note and gave it to Peter. It read: “Dear Peter, I can’t do this, this is not the life I want. I have already left and don’t try to find me. There is no baby. Steph.

At that, Peter screamed and clutched his stomach. “Where the hell was she?” Molly swore she didn’t know and Peter believed her. Molly slipped away from the chaos and quietly shut the front door. No one understood, everyone was screaming and crying and shouting. Everyone was worried and mad and scared and in disbelief. “How could this happen to them?” they cried.

Stephanie had been standing at the crossroads for many weeks, she had to decide on her life and what would make her happy. She chose to walk away, to leave Peter and her family and friends and start over someplace new.  She had a miscarriage after three weeks, but she told no one. It was her first step on her way to freedom.

My Boredom Cures

This photo of a rural child was photographed b...

Image via Wikipedia

Books, Movies, TV, Blogging, Music, Writing, Computer, Books…..Still bored after all those options? Get a grip! I’m generally not bored, and I’m generally not fussy. I’ve always been able to occupy my “alone” time. In childhood, our mom said I was happy to play in my room all by myself but that my older sister needed to be entertained all the time. I see that with my own children now: my oldest child needs to be entertained and my second born is more content and doesn’t mind alone time (though she probably wouldn’t admit to it). Maybe it has to do with birth order.  The first-born child does get undivided attention, where us second born (or babies) have never known anything else except sharing. We’ve never had undivided attention. Maybe it’s a coping mechanism or just maybe we are more content. Or it’s simply a personality issue. Alone time, to me, doesn’t mean I’m bored, it means I’m comfortable with myself.

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Ferris Bueller ROCKS!

Carly Simon wrote a song called “My Older Sister” the first line being: “She rides in the front seat, she’s my older sister..she knows her power over me.” That has been the anthem of my life but it took me years not only to appreciate that I have an older sister but to embrace it. I am the 53-year-old “baby” of the family and I have an older sister who is 59.  For siblings, that’s a HUGE difference in age, it’s like we were born two separate, only, children.

When I was born she had no use for me and especially as she got older, I was just in the way. A nagging little sister who wanted someone to play with her. When we sang together she sang vocals, and I sang back-up.  Always. I became the little sister to one of her friends, who loved me and played with me. “I wish Mickey was my sister” was said by me more than a few times. She didn’t seem to care. To this day, I am closer to Mickey (Michal) than she is, that bond never broke.

When my sister and I were growing up our parents referred to us as night and day, sun and moon. There are no two siblings that were more different than us. Even our appearances are completely different, I have a very pale complexion (known in the family as cream cheese) and she is robust and ruddy, as if she is sunburned all year round, white vs red.  The only thing that we have in common is our voice, we sound exactly alike on the phone and often used to fool people  by pretending to be each other. When my sister was bored talking to one of her friends she would ask me to take over and I would,  them being none the wiser. We still laugh about it. We could always fool our father, that was easy, but taking mom down was much tougher; I think in all the years we tried she only fell for it once or twice. She prides herself on that.

That which separated us before, brings us together now, with humor. When my sister loves a certain Dr. and swears up and down that I will love him, I will go but sure enough I will see him and hate him. I did that two months ago, I hated his cold, brusque demeanor, his rapid (and painful) examination, the smirk on his face.  After her exuberant description, when he walked into the room I thought it was another Dr. that had just borrowed his white coat. That’s how strongly I felt against him; this is my sister’s favorite Dr;. she looks forward to seeing him. Different people, different siblings.

Restaurants are tricky too, the Asian -Fusion place I adore, she thinks is only mediocre, if that. We do agree on the delicious tuna sandwiches at the Thornwood Diner and the sandwiches at Lange’s Deli.  The book I have loved, the tv show I hated, all opposite opinions. It’s so unpredictable that it is indeed predictable. It’s the bond of opposites.

Movies were the first thing that showed us how different we really were; that truly separated us. When I saw the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” I called her excitedly and told her it was the best movie I had ever seen. It was witty and sharp, cute and funny; to this day I love that movie. She saw the movie and called the next day asking if I was “on drugs and questioning my sanity?”  She absolutely HATED the movie, every second of it; she may have even walked out. Game on.

What used to divide us, now brings us closer together. Now she calls me plum and I call her sugar; she calls me Ferris and I call her Bueller. For years before we went to bed we would say good-night to each other through the fake wall divider and say: “Goodnight  peanut butter, Goodnight tuna. Goodnight shrimp, goodnight applesauce. The Waltons had nothing on us! It was a vast improvement of our early names for each other which were “stupid” and “ugly.” And, when all was said and done and we tried to settle into sleep, I would inevitably ask “what time is it?” and she would always fall for it and tell me and then we continued to laugh.

If WE could find a middle ground, anyone can. After many years, two extremely different people,  have somehow settled on this newly paved path of love, understanding, friendship and respect. Our mother always said “the most important thing is that you have each other” and it is true. We are each others piece of history, without which we would be very much alone. If we were dark vs light before, we’ve arrived at a long overdue acceptance, a mixture of colors, bright red, muted yellows, lilac and florescent green; bold and subtle, and very, very warm.

dedicated to my sister, Emma.