My Stubborn Mule

Bucket-headed dog

Bucket-headed dog (Photo credit: Paul Kidd)

The sun shines through the slated blinds on my red dog’s face. As much of a pain in the bleep she is, I can’t stop loving her. She’s my girl, Lexi, the one I rescued from the shelter and even though I can’t walk her (she is ridiculously strong) in public, she’s still mine. She PULLS me everywhere, I have to stay in my neighborhood. You wouldn’t believe how many times members of my extended “family” have told me to give her “back” or “give her away.” But there is no way I will do that, I can’t. I love her.

Admittedly she is one of the toughest dogs, strongest dogs I’ve ever known and on the advice of three, yes, three, dog trainers, they have all agreed she is a “wild one with a stubborn streak.” Frustrating? Yes. Do I love her less? No. I rescued her from the shelter when she was tiny, curled up in a little red ball, sound asleep and my heart fell in love immediately. This was MY dog. I played with her, she let me cuddle her, nothing could stop me from adopting this sweetheart.

Sometimes love is blind, we know that. And, admittedly, maybe I missed my dog Callie so much (she had cancer) that i didn’t give myself enough time to recover from that grief. I probably should have waited longer to adopt my puppy but I didn’t. That’s my fault, not hers. I needed to hear the sounds of a dog in the house, I missed them so much and I need to have a dog in my life. I have become a dog person, through and through.

I should have known, when she was the worst, evil puppy in the world, that she was Trouble. She would go after our hands, feet, like I would go after a chocolate layer cake, sink her sharp puppy teeth in and not let go. Screaming in pain, little” Honeybadger didn’t give care.” Her grip would tighten. She was a really difficult puppy but still I didn’t love her any less.

She will be two in February, February 16th, 2014. I’ve had people tell me that she will NOT slow down, not this dog. She is muscular (all muscle) and strong (like an ox) and she still pulls me around that I’m scared to go out with her. It doesn’t help that I am very weak and have no balance. We have about nine different collars, leashes and equipment and Ms. Stubborn defies the odds. But that’s okay.

I love her and I won’t give her up, I could never do that. She is my dog and when I have to take her to the vet I will ask someone to come out and get her since she loves going there and pulls me dangerously across the street. I will make compromises, she will not. She is sleeping on my bed now looking like an absolute dog angel. She doesn’t show affection very often but this is her way. She keeps me company, gives me kisses. She’s going nowhere except in my arms for a big hug. She is not an easy dog, for sure, but I love her, I picked her and she makes me laugh. Sometimes.

PS: Remember the book and movie “Marley and Me?” Marley is a sweet kitten compared to Lexi, I kid you not.

photo credit paul kidd

words copyrighted lf

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Free Write Friday: Kellie Elmore “Ivy Covered Gates”

Massachusetts Hall, Harvard University, Cambri...

Massachusetts Hall, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, I kept coughing so much that i thought my lungs was gonna burst outta my chest and i couldn’t stop. i couldn’t even string two words without hacking and wheezing but when mama forced me to go to the doctor he said he didn’t hear anything so i had to pay twenty dollars for antibiotics that haven’t done a damn thing except make me feel worse. why do doctors make you feel sicker in the first place. shoulda just bought some of that stuff they show on rv commercials,  the green kind, you know the one where you open your mouth and spray like a mist?

Im my own person now, 18 years old, legal age but I dont understand crap the medical doctors and nurses say, i know they do that on purpose. just to put poor people in their place but not me, no, not me. Cuz, i’m gonna tell them, i am no different than you except i got all A’s and one day i’m gonna be your boss, yep you heard right miss little goody two shoes. I will be your boss. so just shut your damn mouth now before I shut if for you. Mama says i should calm myself but she done the same thing when Papa yells at her so i’m not gonna listen either.

i’m gonna listen to my self, my true gut. The little  voice inside me that says “i’m better than all of you” cause i have dreams and you don’t. Right there is the difference, enough for me to set my goals high instead of my baby brother who just wants to work in the gas factory with daddy.Living in a poor, little town like us, there are not many options except for ME. I’m gonna be a doctor and i’m gonna hold my head high and no one is gonna talk me out of it. That’s right.

I got all A’s this year and now i’m waiting for my community college acceptances to come in, i was in high school in a special advanced program and i’m waiting to hear if i can get a skolarship to the best school so i can be a doctor and fix people. yes, I will i tell you. Every day i wait for the mail. mama sayz it aint, I mean isn’t, gonna come any faster. but one day i know it will show up. So I may not be standing under the ivy covered gates at Harvard next year but i will be in the top of my class at communtiy school and after that you watch out because then I am going straight, yes, directly into Harvard with my head held higher than high. Because i have something you don’t got, i got my strength and my spirit and I believe in myself and i know, damn well know, i can do it with not one shadow of one doubt.

Signed, DOCTOR to be: Samantha E. Rowland

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The show must go on (Carry on Tuesday)

parents

parents (Photo credit: Mystic Lens)

I never said we were an unhappy family, it’s all a matter of perspective. After all, to the people in our homeland, India, we lived “the American dream.” My younger brother and I were born in India, we lived with our parents and grandparents together in one room. We knew no different, the only thing we knew is eventually we were going to “Merica” but we had no idea what that meant. My brother and I just assumed it was a neighborhood nearby.

Now, fourteen years later, we live in New Jersey and own a small white house, with black trim. My mother was afraid, she said, “to be perceived as too gaudy.” We have a front yard that is nicely manicured (my father brags to people back home that we have hired a gardener.)  My mother has the flowers, arranged in red, white and blue rows, perfectly, with soldier-like precision.

Everyone seemed to have acclimated to our new life, except me. I’m seventeen years old, did they think it would be easy for me? As in India we had to continue our very traditional ways in New Jersey. “It is expected of us” my parents would tell me and my little brother, Rakesh to carry on our culture with pride. At the same time my younger brother was getting beaten up in the playground each afternoon.  I refused to call him, his Indian name here, so I made up an American name for him in part to annoy my parents and in part to give the kid a chance at surviving elementary school. My parents were furious but I didn’t care, as soon as Rakesh became “Robby”  life got a little easier for him.

If they wanted obedient and silent children than they should have never left India. My brother and I wanted to stay in India when we were children but of course they never asked us how we felt. We knew we had no choice anyway, we always did what our parents told us to do, there was no options. We were never allowed to talk back to our parents, in fact, we were not able to talk at all until we had been spoken to.  Back home we would not even know the concept of talking back to one’s parent’s or anyone’s elder, it was not done, it did not exist.

We are all playing a role, in our new life here, like actors in a play. By the time we landed here I changed my name to “Annie.” My parents could scream but I did not care, I had to live in this society, so yes, I ignored them. I put up a sweet and demure face, I wore my traditional garb at home and changed into my “real” high school clothes quickly in the girls bathroom when I got to school. I changed into short skirts and tight tops. I pulled my long lack hair into a high pony tail and my friends taught me how to put on make up. I had it down to a science in no time. I only feared my parents coming in unexpectedly but I knew that would never happen.

If I had to stay in this country and honor my parents’ wishes I was going to do it on my terms, that is until I turned 18 and then they would have no control over me. I was counting the days until my 18th birthday. Until that day, and ONLY that day, this façade, this show will go on but after that it would stop, immediately. I had circled my birthday on the black and white calendar with a thick, red marker in boundless abandon, this was my secret. I will play the role of dutiful daughter, I will do whatever they tell me to do until my birthday.  The evening of my 18th birthday, I will slowly and quietly pack my things, while my ultra conservative, parents slept, in their separate beds with their overhead fans and ugly, green and white velvet bedspreads with inlaid crystals.

Having planned this for months the night of my birthday I will sneak down the steps and go out the side door. I will tiptoe quietly down the street where Brian, my boyfriend, will be waiting for me in his car. We are leaving together, we are moving to the Village in New York City, Brian has a friend who has an apartment there. If we don’t like it in New York we will go to Boston, or California, wherever we want to go. I will feel free for the first time in my life.

I have to laugh. They named me Ashmita, meaning rock born, hard and strong. What did they expect?

Free Writing Friday: Kellie Elmore: Abandoned

Little Fingers!

Little Fingers! (Photo credit: jmccauli)

Abandonment is like a second skin, it rolls up slowly on my arms like old-fashioned gloves, soft, sleek, black, elbow length. My teeth sink into the word “abandoned’ and “insecure” as if I was in the middle of eating a piece of double- layer chocolate cake. I not only taste but feel the delicious, sweet frosting rolling around my lips; it lives there, it feels at home. I was always a scared child, anxious, what was I picking that up that no one else was? I was always called “over-sensitive” by my mother but I fought hard, independently for everyone to hear my voice. When I was young my voice was low, I was always the good girl, after my father died, the dynamics all changed.

It was the first time my parents had been to a party; my mother borrowed a maternity outfit from her friend Ann. When they got to the party, six weeks before my due date my mother wasn’t feeling well. Her friend Claire made her sit down, she timed the contractions. “It couldn’t be, it’s too early” but sure enough, they called the doctor and he said he would meet them in the hospital. Claire drove my mother and my Uncle Teddy drove my father, I don’t know why, either does my mother, the last survivor of the four of them.

When I was born hours later my mother looked at me and said I looked “like a plucked chicken.” My father said to Teddy” How cute can you get?” Since I was born six weeks pre-mature and only weighed 4 lbs and 6 ounces I was not allowed to leave the hospital. I was in an incubator until I could reach 5 lbs. I was in the hospital for 4 weeks. Back in the 50’s they didn’t the knowledge they have now; I’m sure no one held me except the doctors and the nurses. There were no advanced techniques back then. Moms and Dads weren’t even allowed to enter the room much less caress their little one’s tiny hands. I knew my father had visited every day, after work, he knocked on the glass that separated us, and smiled. My mother’s story has changed a little over time, she had my older sister to contend with and she felt “there was nothing she could do.” I think the error in judgment was telling me the story. What purpose did it serve?

My parents traveled a lot when I was a teenager leaving me alone in the apartment building. I would cry when they left and cry when I saw them wait outside for their taxi but as soon as their taxi left, I felt fine and strong. Being left is not one of my favorite things; I’m better at leaving. Even now, when my children, age 18 and 20 leave for college, I still cry.

When I was a child, every night, I would ask my father questions “Will anyone go to the hospital?” “Will there be a fire?” and plenty more. I needed that nightly repetition of answers to feel safe. That lasted until I was in the third grade when my mom did have to go to the hospital for a small surgery. I was hysterical. I remember pounding the blankets with my fists and screaming “We can’t play the question game because one of the answers is yes!”

When my dad died, eleven years ago, my greatest fear came true, he left me, he left us all forever. I had a very tough time letting go, he and I were so close but I got through it, no one really has a choice and with the slow passage of time I healed very slowly and it took a long time.I grieved openly, never one to hide my feelings. My children were very young, 7 and 9, years later my son confessed he thought I would always be that way, crying endlessly and being sad. I felt terrible and guilty but there was no way that overwhelming grief could have been hidden. He also got to watch me heal and recover, a life lesson.

Life is all about leaving, my children will constantly leave as they grow up, even their first step, as toddlers grinning proudly, they show us they need to leave and it is our job as parents to encourage them. They will leave me or we will leave them. It’s life, and death, sadness and happiness, insecurity and hope. Abandonment feels so familiar, like a dress, perfectly fitted to my body. I know love, I know pain, but abandonment is not only familiar, it feels like my skin.

Carry on Tuesday: It’s a kind of magic

By some quick trick of aging

English: "Fraternal Love"

English: “Fraternal Love” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

my children have grown from teeny tots to the young adults they are today.

I do not miss them as they were; I miss myself and how they made me feel.

It is my loss only, a selfish loss.

Cherished like a queen, I could do no wrong, I was the only one who could heal them,

emotionally, physically, with a kiss and a made up, whispered, chant that would allow them to fall asleep.

An extra special band-aid and healing cream that, as promised, would not sting.

I could make them giggle, tell them stories, surprise them with “I Love You” presents,

I appreciated every hand I held until they wanted to stop.

“Your children are not your children” I always read

I prepared myself in advance.

My goal as a parent was to make them strong, like trees, to bend their branches, to have solid roots,

to be good people, people who make a difference in the world.

We encouraged our children to play a sport or to play an instrument but we did not force them,

many people criticized us,

but we were happy with our choice.

Our goal in life was to have happy children, good, strong young men and women

who would give of themselves to others, to do the right things, to give back to the world.

My children are my gift to the world.

I share in their pleasure, I have raised two wonderful young people.

It is, indeed, a special kind of magic.

On Children
 Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Marianna, Kahlil's Sister
Marianna, Kahlil’s Sister. Painting by Kahlil Gibran

I Blame My Dog 100 Percent

Dog sunny Day Afternoon

Dog sunny Day Afternoon (Photo credit: allert)

It’s not my fault that I fell yesterday, really. It’s HER fault. My dog, (mega-puppy) pulled me so hard that she knocked me down on the driveway to greet our neighbors across the street. Granted, I am not strong. I have Fibromyalgia and NO balance so that is my “fault.” She left me lying down on the pavement. Twice. What happened to dogs being loyal? Not this one. I tried to get up and what does she do? She yanks the leash again and down I stay with another set of bruised knees (on top of the last set.)

I didn’t have time to drop the leash, this girl is fast and strong.  Not to mention that she made me drop my Fribble! To those of you who don’t know (and I am a recent convert) a Fribble is a milkshake that Friendly’s makes from soft serve (my friend Mark said it was from ice-milk so I’m not 100 percent sure if either or both are correct.) It’s cold, thick, creamy and utterly ( those of you who really know me, I was tempted to say udderly) delicious. Lexi made me drop my coveted vanilla Fribble all over the driveway and the rest of the day went downhill after that. Thank you Lexi.

So, with bumps and bruises all over, I limped into the house with super-puppy in the hands of our neighbor and my husband helping me up and inside. It’s time for the big guns to be called. I know I have a balance issue and yes, I know I am not strong but this is getting ridiculous. My husband is threatening to call the canine police trainer and have him come out and train Lexi to behave. He was here once before and always said she was a willful pup; I hate to break her spirit but she needs to learn to behave before I break my spine. Before he comes, I am trying to train her myself, with a very short leash and many clicking sounds.

I can always go back and get another Fribble but I can’t afford to be falling anymore. I love my dog, returning her is NOT an option. (You know who you are who suggested this) She is now sleeping on my bed, keeping me company but I do need to train her so she doesn’t pull so much. I have tried every leash in the universe. Lexi, you’re a cute puppy, but I have never met a stronger, more willful puppy anywhere. Even my friends agree that you are incredibly strong for one so young. I’m hoping you will mellow and I know you will be a great dog. You are now seven months and yes, still a puppy. When exactly do you become an adult dog and calm down? For my part, I will try to do some strength building exercise slowly, I promise. We’re in this together.