Friday, February 26, 2010

The Saga of I Love Puppies.

Here are a few things you should know to fully understand the contents of the following post:

1. I love dogs. And when I say "I love dogs" I don't mean I am a fan of dogs, I enjoy dogs, or I admire them from a distance. I mean I love dogs. If a dog is in the room--as has happened at a few parties here, the culprit primarily an overweight boxer in a scarf named Hank--I have trouble interacting with other people because I only want to hang out with the dog. If I see a dog pass by while brunching downtown on seafood omelets and fresh orange juice at a sidewalk cafe (that's right you wished you lived here admit it), I will stop eating and interrupt whatever Rob is saying to announce, "TINY DOG TINY DOG TINY DOG" or, as the case may be, "BEAR DOG BEAR DOG." Annie can vouch for this because that's pretty much all we did while in Vienna--that, and eat perplexing breakfasts. Vienna, by the way, is full of dogs. It might even be governed by dogs. The cruelty of it all is how you are not allowed to pet any of them because they are so austere. Like the rest of Vienna. Oh, those swanky, swanky Viennese and their breakfasts.

2. The month of February was, hands down, shit. Just shit. Plain, awful, sloppy shit. I tried to post about it probably a dozen times, but no amount of wisecracking could mask the truth of this fucking terrible month, and seeing the ugly facts of it gussied up by my meandering clauses only doubled the stress and depression--what you could call strepression (depressss?). Yes, my birthday was fabulous. Yes, I'm still doing that Coterie of Hungry Overweight Women (henceforth known as C.H.O.W.) business and it is equally uplifting (slow but steady progress aiming always for boots!) and intensely terrible (I can no longer indulge in my one true love of buffalo sauce).

Moreover, though, Rob lost his job, which he discusses at length in his own blizzog. There are details, but you won't find them here--all you need to know is it felt like a tornado had come through and tossed what we'd made of our life into some trees, inaccessible by any ladder. It was August all over again and not in a good way--the whole what are we doing here, how do I manage the guilt I feel for bringing you here, what should we do, what the hell are we going to do rigmarole in rerun. Fun fact: this kind of stress will eat an ulcer into any relationship, and it definitely did ours--a few new bruises, a few old sores reprodded. If you consider a relationship an apple, sometimes I think ours would be better off mashed into sauce. Which is not that brutal of a thing to say, considering applesauce is delicious and loved by Polish people as a condiment to pierogies as well as babies everywhere.

But this is cryptic Xanga-esque shit! We will leave it at this: February was bad, bad, bad. But there were some good points--I finished a story, won a little contest, we went to our first grown-up dinner party and ate venison for the first time, Rob got started writing again, I took a lot of baths and drank a lot of chai, we both watched inordinate amounts of The Twilight Zone and cooked some snappy dinners on the Goddamn Good George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine (the GGGFLMFRGM as my father calls it).

So that's the disclaimer. Now, this:

One Sunday, Rob and I decide that nothing will cure our respective liquor-hangovers (margarita for me, bourbon for him) like some fancy downtown brunch. This was, as a matter of fact, last Sunday. Less than a week ago--that's how rapid and exciting the following story is.

We have our paninis and omelets and soups and water, water, water, and then we go strolling because yet again it was 60 and sunny and charming and there's a river and benches and a big stone courthouse and some fat little palm trees and you get it, it's lovely.

Dogs are a staple of the downtown area. Frequently I'd try to go to the outdoor Saturday market in the warmer months not for some overpriced tomatoes, but because I was pretty sure I'd get to pet a dog, or at least ogle one and chant in my head tiny dog tiny dog tiny dog.

Well. As we are ambling along the riverside, what is there before us but a gaggle of children and two tiny adorable puppies. And us, being us (because Rob is also a dog lover though I think he has his infatuation a little more under control), stood there weirdly, watching these children heft these puppies around like living teddy bears, until this lady--presumably the owner of both the flock of children and the two puppies in question--snags both and walks over and says "I see you looking" and hands them to us.

And this is how my brain goes: JOY! RAPTURE! DELIGHT! OH MY GOD I LOVE PUPPIES SO MUCH

One of these puppies looks like an Ewok. Really. All fluff and nothing else. But the other puppy is shorter-haired and camel-colored and falling fast asleep against me and I think "Oh goddammit I'm in love." Too soon, one of the forty-six assembled children tugs on my hem and asks for the puppy back, and I let it go, knowing, as we've been saying to this lady the whole time we're holding these dogs, oh, we can't get a puppy, we have no money, we have no room, etc. etc. But at the same time I'm thinking this is about the most content I've felt in weeks, maybe months, maybe years, holding this little sleeping mutt, who was found under a piece of cardboard, alone with his siblings, in some terrible frigid field. That being said, he is outrageously mellow and happy to nap on a practical stranger.

I only forget about the puppy that day because we spend the entire afternoon driving around North Carolina--first we find the ocean, then we find a lake, and in between we find a lot of little highways. We have dinner, we watch a movie, we remark on what a wondrous day we've had, and then we fall asleep.

Monday I do something stupid. I have gone on a long walk and realized I want nothing more than to walk a dog, and that that dog will be named Pinto, and that if I word it right, I could put up a craigslist ad hunting for that same little yellow puppy I held yesterday, and he could be ours, and everything would be good in the world again.

Long story short: That's exactly what happened.

The ad is half missed-connection, half-imploring request, and I think it's foolish and impossible and I should probably take it down before someone attacks me with one of those "SAVE THESE SHELTER DOGS GIVE THEM LIFE YOU ALONE CAN BE THEIR CHANCE AT EXISTENCE" posts when through the wires of the internet, lo! A response. The puppies are being fostered by a local humane society, but yes, call this number, fill out this application, we'll see you on Thursday.

All week I fret. I fret that Pinto will not be as cute as I remember. I fret that he will be an enormous, unruly beast and he will eat the couch whole. I fret that he will chew a hole through our patio fence and choke on splinters and catch puppy cancer and die. I fret that he won't be happy, and that I'm making a huge mistake. A huge mistake, or maybe the best choice I've ever made.

See? That's how I feel about everything.

Then it's Thursday, and we're at the foster house, and the Ewok still looks like an Ewok, and there's our Pinto, and holy fuck how can anything be that cute and real at the same time, and he rides in my lap all the way home, and we walk him around on his little blue leash, and I just realized the level of love and detail in this post might be overtly weird to some of you reading this because I'm getting a little self-conscious but then, really, all you need to know is we now have Pinto and he's amazing.

So March is going to kick major ass for several reasons.

1) March is a verb and march is exactly what I'm going to do--to the future! To progress! To success and contentment! plus 2) KARLI RIGGS IS COMING TO VISIT ME!!!! and 3) I'm spending my entire spring break with my boyfriend and my bike and my dog. Because I have a dog now. And his name is Pinto and he's amazing. And if you are in Wilmington and this post has made you puppy-envious, Pinto's littermates are up for adoption on craigslist right now (all fostered by the Columbus Humane Society, the headings all list them as 7 week puppies).

Can a dog save your life?! Can this dog save mine?!

Yes, yes, yes, oh my god, yes.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Saga of How Awesome My Birthday Was.

My birthday? Awesome. How awesome? On a scale of one to awesome, it was like a bajillion zillion and a half.

And it had some mighty, mighty competition from the past few years--observe!

Nineteen: Beirut, balloons, and a paper banner with a nickname I'd rather not repeat strung across the ceiling of a quad in South. Pretty sure we lugged Winston's keyboard across campus that night too, because that's the kind of crazy freshmen we were, right!? I drop my new camera in the snow and proceed to lose its memory card--remarkably, the camera lasts for another two years, even when I have to tape the battery door shut.

Twenty: TOGA PARTY TOGA PARTY TOGA PARTY. We play Kings but call it Emperors. I do not take pictures because I am busy passing out face-down on a couch. It was awesome.

Twenty-one: "
We were on a pub crawl in Berlin, dragged from what was supposed to be 4 bars and a nightclub, but I only made it to Bar #3 before collapsing in a bathroom until some Angel of Light rescued me and put me in a cab. But before that fantastic catastrophe, we made friends with Spaniards who couldn't speak a word of English but kissed us all when we left, I put in a request for 'Someone Great' and danced by my lonesome, an Australian bought me a Jagerbomb, had Jager poured down our throats under a train bridge, and did I mention Johanna and Jamie were there? When I erupted back into the hostel room, miraculously alive and semi-coherent, our sober compadre Tommy took notes on our drunken shenanigans, and the best and truest quote of the night was this: "It was great. I do not remember 75% of it." (from the oft-references study abroad blog of 2008).

Twenty-two: SURPRISE PARTY SURPRISE PARTY SURPRISE PARTY. As documented earlier on this here blog-a-log, I'd decided not to try and throw a party, opting instead for a quiet weekend of Indian food and never-getting-out-of-bed with Rob, and then I am summoned downstairs and GOOD LORD EVERYONE I KNOW IS HERE AND THERE IS A CAKE! I think 4 a.m. hit and I was outside smoking and telling everyone, "You know, I love you guys, like, this is like, the most greatest--I just want to say, I mean, I know it sounds silly--" And everyone nodded politely because I was hammered and it was my birthday.

Compare these to earlier birthdays, one at SkateWorld in Tulsa when I was so concerned with whether I would get in trouble for wearing my hat (which was denim with a big bow because it was 1995) that I didn't have much fun because there was a big sign expressly forbidding hat-wearing--not to mention I did not know how to skate. I still don't. In high school, I got kidnapped by my friends once, which was pretty awesome except for the part when someone forgot to push my head down before throwing me into the van, and since I had a sheet over my head, I basically gave myself a concussion. Then we went to the arcade and all piled into the photobooth. It was pretty adorable, even with the headache.

But this year--lordy!

So remember that last post, the one where I was all "Yeah I need to lose weight but I'm so cool with it I am like totally okay with this yeah yeah"--absolute lies. As soon as I hit Publish Post, the shit hit the fan in a bad, bad way. The whole thing was just enormously daunting, the numbers, the tracking, thinking I am going to be doing this for a long, long time--but really, there's no good time to get in shape, just like there's no good time to quit smoking--but it's something you have to do, because there's no reason for you not to. And like I said before--I want boots, dammit. Boots.

On Friday it all fell apart. I got out of bed, looked at all the program materials--the cute little journal, the little slide rule calculator, the overlit photographs of no-fat mayonnaise and glistening baby carrots--and promptly got back in bed and stayed there. I couldn't do it. I just couldn't.

Rob, meanwhile, baked cookies. I emerge from the cave of our dim, depressing bedroom having slept through the entire afternoon, sit in front of the TV and try to be calm and rational and not insane and hateful and terrified, and Rob comes home and in standard Rob is the Best Boy Ever fashion, says to me, "I'm taking you out tonight. I won't take no for an answer."

We've been trying really, really hard to be more frugal about food, so I instated a no-eating-out ultimatum to last between Rob's birthday dinner and mine--which was only two weeks, but which would be the longest we'd spent eating in since we moved here. Even the George Foreman Grill couldn't break the monotony.

So dinnertime hits and we go out, to a fancy-pants restaurant downtown that serves amazing bread and amazing salads and amazing gorgonzola-bacon-spinach dip, and it's such a nice date that I feel around 1000x better already. I suggest we see a movie, which starts at 10--it's around 9:15, check paid, waitress tipped, and Rob says sure, let's go to a movie, but I want to go home and eat a cookie.

This does not trigger any warning signs because Rob's cookies are really, really good.

So we get home, and we park, and we open the door, and it's very dark, and then of course what do you know



That's about how my thoughts went.

And then, you know, the usual--we go out, we get drunk, I say absurd things and become very indignant when my second double vodka-tonic gets cleared away when I was certainly not done with it, never mind that I am way past drunk already. All in all it was super-duper fabulous fantastic and made me happier than I could've imagined. And it's corny, but I've only been here in Wilmington for six months, and yet there were people who like me (or at least like surprises and drinking) enough to crouch in my house for 20 minutes and get me a cake. It meant a lot to me.

And the next day, it was a hell of a lot easier to wake up, and get up, and stay up, and say "All right. Let's rock this bitch. I'm getting me some boots if it kills me." And then I emitted forth a fearsome battle cry and ravaged the refrigerator of its terrible unhealthy, non-nutritious contents! I bought some motherfuckin' berries, and I had those fucks for breakfast! Rice cakes and tomato slices! Bran flakes and yogurt! Chicken noodle soup motherfuckers!

No, I didn't do this. I was far too hungover.

What I did do was lay around all day with Rob, and we went on a walk in the cold around our fantastic neighborhood that I love so much, and then we went and watched a movie with friends, and then we went to bed. And it wasn't even my birthday yet!

That, friends, was yesterday, and it was a day of pure, undiluted glory. Behold!

I talk to both my folks who both get nostalgic about my birth, my father reminding me that I had the biggest, bluest eyes he'd ever seen on a newborn, my mom about how she didn't believe I was a girl even after, you know, I was present in the world and obviously not a boy. How my brother could have cared less about me but was fascinated by the hospital bed's up-and-down functions--he was 2, so I guess I forgive him.

Then Rob, who has graciously taken the day off, takes me downtown, allegedly to go to the Serpentarium. Did you know Wilmington has a Serpentarium? It does. What is a Serpentarium? A building full of super deadly snakes.

Sadly the Serpentarium was closed, or at least locked, but there was a WILL RETURN BY sign up, so we decide to walk around downtown because oh yeah I forgot to mention it was February and the sky was blue and it was like 60 degrees and gorgeous outside. Not to mention downtown is charming as can be--old store fronts, little boutiques, ice cream parlors, bars and bars and bars, and, yes, horse-drawn carriage tours. We are minding our own business, ambling a long, and then this little, magical-looking man in a top hat and tails standing beside one of these carriages flags us over, and we try to decline, politely, those tours are expensive, when he explains they're shooting promo materials for their Valentine's Day special offers, would we mind modeling?

"We'll give you a free tour if you do!"

Oh hell yes I was sold. So we spend about 20 minutes posing and smooching and pretending we just got engaged (eek) and this man snaps our pictures and films us riding around all full of joy and happiness, and then he thanks us for our time, and then we take a real bona fide carriage tour around the historic district, looking at all the fancy houses, learning all these koooky architectural terms from a goofy dude in a knee-length gold-button coat and ponytail, and Rob and I realize how great it is to live here, in this place that has these big trees and colonial houses and brick streets and wraparound porches where the sun shines in February plus there's a Serpentarium plus have I mentioned the ocean is like right there, and it is altogether splendid and great.

Then I got my free smoothie at Smoothie King and then I went to class and then it was today. 23! You sure know how to treat a girl right.