Thursday, September 25, 2014

bad feminist, good mother, maybe?

I used to be really hairy. I say "used to" because I've more or less bleached, waxed and lasered every errant hair into submission. I've told DM this many times, as well as friends from my post-wooky era. But I don't think anyone really understands. I mean, I started shaving my legs when I was 9 years old. And not because it seemed like a fun thing to do. But because I had grown-man hair on my legs when I was in 4th grade. Until I discovered laser hair removal, I could shave my legs at 7am, and have 5 o'clock shadow by lunch. Still, whenever I tell anyone this, they just say "Yeah, yeah, okay," and think I'm being dramatic.

these are not actually my legs, now or in fourth grade.
incidentally, in poking around on the interwebz, i saw some discussion that this image is not in fact hairy legs,
but a pair of hairy leg tights to be worn by women to ward off unwanted male attention? all this time i was carrying around an untapped asset. who knew?!
Anyway. Last month I was going through some old photos at my grandma's. I grabbed one in particular, not because it was a sweet shot of my sister and my newborn baby brother and me, but because, for whatever reason (probably because I've burned most of the rest of the evidence), it is one of the few photos I've seen that really demonstrates the full extent of my naturally hirsute state (at eleven years of age).

Now, I'm going to do something today that makes me more than a little nervous. I'm going to upset the precarious balance of my secret ninja blogger status by sharing some photos with you. This is mostly because if anyone actually recognizes the present-day me from any of these photos I'll probably just murder myself. But also because this story just can't be told without photos. So here goes:

I'm the hairy one.

DM is relatively unhairy for a man of Iranian descent. This was his reaction when I showed him the photo:

"What in the...? Were you a man? Were you a Rhesus monkey? Were you pretending to be a tiger for Halloween? Did your mom let you play with the Sharpies? Oh my god. You're hairier than me! What is really going on here? Okay. You can no longer blame me for our hairy children. It is now clear that you bear the majority of the responsibility in that department. Wow. You are lucky we got married and made babies before I saw this otherwise I might have changed my mind. Bad breeding stock!"

"Don't worry, he only means half of what he says." "Which half?" - Almost Famous

But he's right. Our kids are really furry. Jack is inexplicably blonde-haired and blue-eyed, so for now he is just covered with an abundance of blonde fuzz. It's so thick and coarse on his legs, though, it's like an un-shucked corn cob.

i swear he doesn't have rickets. DM has the exact same calves. or lack thereof. and i lurve dems.

The thing is... I hate to say this, and I know I'm playing into the problem... but... he's a boy. So I'm really not too worried about the ramifications of his hairiness on his self-image or social life. I do remember the first time I encountered DM's "manly" chest up-close and personal... I'm not gonna lie. It freaked me out a little bit. I was used to slick hairless so-cal surfer boys. But once you go... uh... yeah... nevermind.

Colby on the other hand... Poor Colby Jean.

All of this got me thinking about beauty and body image and self consciousness and my responsibilities as a mother to a beautiful girl. We've all seen the Dove commercials. We've heard the sound bytes. And look, I am well versed in fem theory. I understand gender performativity and "visible identities" and the objectification of women.

But here's the thing. I love pink. I love dresses. I love heels. I love jewelry and sparkle. I spend too much money on frou frou undergarments. I have my own mini MAC store of eye shadows in a glorious rainbow of hues even though I wear the same boring color every single day. I have spent more money than I care to admit on hair removal and products meant to do this, that, and the other thing (and they never, ever, deliver). I refuse to leave the house until I'm "ready." I'm about as high maintenance as someone who shops solely at Target can be. Yes, I am a by-product of gender stereotypes and society's unrealistic portrayal of beauty and blatant consumerism, but they have done a bang-up job because I actually really enjoy it. I like to play dress up. I think it's fun. So fucking sue me.

Incidentally, I'm not doing it for my man. He groans when I straighten my hair (he prefers it au'naturel). He asks "What happened to your face?" when I get daring with my makeup. He thinks the sexiest thing I could wear is his ratty old t-shirt. He doesn't give two shits about prickly legs or prickly any-other-things.

But. This does pose an interesting quandary. How do I "do me" without passing my body image baggage on to my daughter?

[INTERMISSION. Seriously. Here's the deal. I wrote this post last week but the word count was "a fuck-ton," so I decided to split it into two parts. But in so doing, I deleted over half the post and it was unrecoverable. I have a slight case of PTSD. After spending the better part of a week re-writing the thing, there's no way I'm going to make that mistake again. So here's the whole, unabridged version. But you might want to take a break. Pee. Get some popcorn. Etc. I'll be here when you get back.]

Okay. So. For example. Being a hirsute female. I'm sure my excess hair predated fourth grade, but it wasn't until some kids called me Sasquatch (and, inexplicably, a hammerhead shark? Are my eyes really that far apart?) that I began to internalize that shame. Up until that point, my mom had never even hinted at the subject, but when the time came, she was armed and ready with a depilatory buffet. She fully supported my body hair offensive, but was also quick to point out when external influences were getting the best of me, e.g., when a high school boyfriend told me I should shave my chest because I "had more hair there than he did" (which, incidentally, wasn't difficult to do.) Mom: "That's ridiculous. Don't listen to A-holes. Especially short ones."

Unfortunately, due to her genetic (mis)fortune, Colby will certainly have to deal with similar issues at some point. I think my mom handled it the right way. I certainly don't want to make Colby self-conscious about it before she needs to be by launching some sort of preemptive hair strike. But UGH, the thought of her coming home in tears after some brat calls her Chewbacca makes me wanna DIE :(

The good news is, I've gotten to the point where my husband can tell me, in so many words, that I have a blonde mustache, and it doesn't get me down. Hey, better than a black mustache, right?? I'm sure Miss Sassy Pants will develop her own thick skin in time. One of the benefits of all that extra hair ;)

Then there's the hair on my head. I hate my hair. I long for smooth, straight tresses. I long to wake up without my hair looking like a cuckoo's nest, or to swim without looking like a bedraggled poodle afterwards. As far as I'm concerned, the flat iron is one of the best mechanical inventions of all time, and me and mine are tight. My hair could technically be characterized as curly, but, depending on the humidity/barometric pressure/cloud formations on any given day, it can more aptly be described as frizz-fro-chic. Even when I wear it curly, I certainly don't just step out of the shower looking like Julia Roberts or Nicole Kidman circa 1985. It involves an arduous algorithm of conditioners and product and diffusers just to make me not look like an escaped mental patient.

And I understand I've internalized a lot of weird negative shit and I'm super neurotic about it. For example. Once a gay fashionisto friend from work said to me, "Gurrrrl, you look ten times hotter with your hair down." Since that day (15 years ago), nary a messy bun has graced the public sphere. Then there was the time in law school when I showed up to an interview with my hair "naturally curly," a.k.a. shellacked to within an inch of its life. Another girl who was waiting for an interview said to me, "Wow. Brave. I'd never show up to an important interview without a blowout." Granted, this girl was a blowhard, but for better or for worse, I haven't shown up to an interview, court appearance, wedding, shower, or really even a date night with my hair in its natural state ever since.

The thing is, my daughter has GORGEOUS curls, and I would never forgive myself if any of my curl contempt rubbed off on her. So recently I've been making more of an effort to embrace what God/Mother Nature gave me, even if that means showing up to work every day looking like a sad lion. And even though I know she will probably end up hating her curls anyway.

The other day one of my girlfriends was giving me a hard time as I was discussing this issue with her. She said, "You do realize you and she have the exact same hair, right?" But that is simply not the case. If it was, people wouldn't constantly ask me "Where does your daughter get those amazing curls???" Ummm... apparently not from me?

Exhibit A
Exhibit B

[Full disclosure - I can't post a current picture of my hair because, in between writing, inadvertently deleting, and re-writing this post, I got a Keratin treatment. In my defense, the lady told me I would still have my curls, minus the frizz. Well, she lied. I do not still have my curls. AND I LOVE IT. Seriously. Game changer. Why I did not do this seven years ago is completely beyond me. It is GLORIOUS. So, yeah. I'm a complete phony. What can I say? It's an evolution. And as my sister-in-law said in attempts to assuage my bad feminist/mommy guilt, "Maybe start worrying about it when she's old enough to have memories." Deal. ;)]

Then there are the ever-present weight and body-image issues. I'm basically a skinny-ish person. "Skinny-fat," I think, is the medical term. No, I'm not as thin as I'd like or as thin as I used to be, and my skinny jeans are like some sort of terrible April Fool's prank. But relatively speaking, I can't complain, especially since I'm not really willing to do anything about it. And yet. I religiously spend at least the first two hours of every Monday morning on a diet, I have an unhealthy relationship with my scale, and I spend way too much energy bemoaning the muffin top.

Have you read this article "Fuck Diets" on Ladybud? It is still one of my favorite pieces of all time. So good. If you haven't yet, read it. Anyway, that is how I want to feel about my weight. But I'm rather bi-polar on the issue. One day I'm like, whatever, I'm healthy(ish) and thin (enough) and there are about a million other more important things that I should be worried about. I mean, I could be in Iraq. Or Syria. Or Liberia. I could have EBOLA! And then I think, "I wonder if Ebola makes you skinny? I mean, like, before it kills you...." (Too far?)

I just had this conversation with a friend:

Friend: So skinny in that Instagram pic! No fair!
Me: Strategically placed baby.
F: That doesn't explain twiggy arms and cachectic neck.
M: What does cachectic mean?
F: Wasting away to nothing. Like end-stage AIDS or cancer patients.
M: Awww. That's the nicest thing you've ever said!

Insane, I know. So what do I do to combat the crazy? Repeat this mantra to myself again and again, and pass it on to my daughter if and when she needs to hear it:

Babies and puppies are small.  So are dimes and Skittles.  You’re a fucking woman.  A woman! You are entitled to occupy as much fucking space as you like with your awesomeness, and you better be suspicious as fuck of anybody who tells you differently.

Why, ladies? Why must we continue to whittle ourselves down? Who is it for? What is it for? ... “Shrink your waist.” “Lose inches off your thighs.” “Slim down.” “Get skinny.”

How about “Grow your mind.” “Increase your confidence and productivity.” “Beef up your knowledge.” “Enlarge your scope of asskicking.” ?

- From "Fuck Diets" on

What else is there to say?

I see a lot of stuff online about "No makeup Mondays" or a week or a month without makeup challenges. Ostensibly to prove to ourselves and to our daughters... what, exactly? That we can make the monumental sacrifice of living without makeup for a month? And then we go right back to our cosmetic crack like the addicts we are? I like the idea behind it, but in reality, what do we learn?

I also think there's something a little... hollow... about celebrities with their personal trainers and their hair, makeup and wardrobe teams giving their PSAs about self-love and being beautiful "on the inside." And then there are the supermodels who decry being PhotoShopped to puny proportions: "I boldly present to you, ME, a size TWO, not a size ZERO as mainstream media would have you believe! Do you see that singular dimple on my ass? THAT is the REAL me!" I mean, I appreciate what they're trying to do, really. And raising awareness of the issue is important. But these mixed messages don't really do much to alleviate the problem with the real-real people here on the ground.

And more power to people who feel their most beautiful in a t-shirt and jeans without a speck of makeup on. But I am not one of them. When I look good, I feel good. And for me, looking good involves mascara and fancy underpants. I'll leave it to Butler and Bordo, et al. to deconstruct those fucked-up feelings, but, there they are.

I don't have the answers, of course. And I can't teach my children what I don't know. As with most things in life, I will probably just make it up as I go along. But as I'm sitting here today, I think I'd like to say something like this: Most everybody loves a great lip gloss and the perfect LBD. But that's just icing on the cake. Don't be the kind of cupcake where people lick off the sprinkles and the frosting and throw the rest in the trash. Actually, just don't be a cupcake. Period. Look. Frosting is just that: sugar. Empty calories. (Don't get me wrong, those are my favorite kind, but they make you fat and you're still hungry afterwards.) Concern yourself with substance. Be happy. Be healthy. Be good. Be strong. Be you. And be glad it's not 1992.

glamour shots, obv.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

fruit snack fascists

The preschool continues its totalitarian regime. No sugar. No superheroes. No peanuts. No fruit snacks. No fun. On the upside, at least the kids are getting a decent feel for life as an adult.

I was super crabby Friday when this happened so I thought maybe that had colored my feelings on the matter, but no. I'm still annoyed.

We give the kids fruit snacks in their lunch boxes once a week. On Fridays. As a special treat. Jack knows that the fruit snacks (and anything else in his lunch box that constitutes a "treat") are to be consumed after he has eaten the rest of his lunch. His little sister is still learning the parameters of this rule but she's getting the hang of it. 

On Friday, I get an email from the teacher telling me please don't pack fruit snacks in Colby's lunch box anymore. The teacher is generally quite nice, by the way. I don't mean to direct the entirety of my irritation at her. I would bet good money that she is just passing bullheaded bento law down from the higher ups. But. Not only did she call the kibosh on future fruit snacks, she snatched the pack of snacks from my poor girl's hands and wouldn't let her have them at all. Like stealing candy from a baby! Literally!

I'm sorry. Somebody set me straight. Maybe this is the lawyer in me, but... Where do you get off? A moratorium on nuts? Fine. I certainly don't want to be responsible for some poor kid going into anaphylactic shock because I couldn't take the time to sub in some Sun Butter for my beloved Skippy. But is it really any of your business if I want my children to eat fruit snacks for lunch? I mean, look. I appreciate your efforts. And I get it. In loco parentis and all that. I'm sure it doesn't make your job any easier if your students' lunches are packed with junk and, as a result, they are extra grumpy or bouncing off the walls or whatever. And that sucks. I certainly don't envy the work that you do, and the ways in which us parents make it more difficult.

But honestly, I don't think its your prerogative to intervene, even if I want to send my kid to school with a freakin' Butterfinger burrito. That's not what's happening here though. I mean. I painstakingly crafted these homemade fruit snacks from organic cane juice and raw fruit. Or maybe I bought Ninja Turtle and Disney Princess high fructose fruit bombs from Target. I forget. In any event. It's once a flippin' week as part of an otherwise balanced and nutritious meal. And now suddenly you're the overlord of fruit snacks and happiness? Do you just want to pack my kids' lunches for me? Because I think that would probably be easier for everyone.

Seriously. Am I "That Mom"? Or is it time to find a new preschool? [< Empty threat.]

hahahhaha. yeah right. 

i appreciate the honesty

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dah Incredibow Huck

Our Jackaroo spent all weekend asserting that The Incredible Hulk is not, in fact, a superhero. (Or, as his sister refers to it, Dah Incredibow Huck.) DM tried to show him the error of his ways but at some point realized the futility of arguing with a 4 year old. On Monday morning, we come to find out that he was just laying the groundwork for "The Ask" - bringing his Incredible Hulk water bottle to the superhero Nazi preschool. The Incredible Hulk is not a superhero, ipso facto, no rules are violated by bringing the Hulk water bottle to school. Of course DM loves any excuse to "stick it to the man, " even in the form of a superhero lunchbox sortie. So he dutifully packed the not-so-jolly green giant. And, apparently, at school, Jack made an impassioned plea on Dah Huck's behalf, with a well-reasoned, multi-pronged argument that would've made his lawyer parents proud. Still, at pickup, Mom got a friendly reminder re: preschool paladin protocol. Jack was undeterred, though. On the way home from school he says, "Well, Mommy. Darf Vadah is definitely NOT a supah hewo."
Love this by GoGoBookart on Etsy

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

glory days

DM and i had date night this past weekend. it had been a while. we really had fun. there weren't any good movies so we just ate and drank and ate (o.m.g. coolhaus snickerdoodle and sea salt caramel ice cream sandwich. worth every penny. (all 400 of them). i hate to be unfaithful to my old friend It's-It, but when i die, please cryogenically preserve my body inside one of these babies.) we talked like real human grown ups. and got home at 9:45 like a couple of grandparents, which is totally my m.o.

by the way, if you're wondering exactly how old... i am "sustains debilitating physical injuries during sex" years old.

anyway. while we were out, we had a couple of drinks at one of our favorite local bars, The Saloon in encinitas. it's been there forever. it's a pre-hipster dive. or, it was. my girlfriends and i used to go sometimes in college because one of our professors worked there. i once went in there pregnant and sober at like 11am and i was completely astounded by the smell. i would not recommend entering the premises with a BAC lower than .04.

it was still really early and there weren't many people in the bar until a huge crew came in wearing matching custom-printed raglan sleeve sport shirts. they were definitely from one of those kickball clubs or something. they were doing pub golf. you know who i'm talking about:

after approximately 37 seconds the bartender told them to chill the f*ck out or else they were going to have to leave. about 3 minutes later he yelled at them again because some dude was doing push ups on the ground. the guy's defense was, "hey, man, i'm wearing my flip flops on my hands!" like he expected the bartender so say, "oh, well then, by all means, carry on, sir!" i have to give it to drunk dude for his innate sense of self preservation because, having experienced the filth of that bar stone cold sober, you could not pay me enough money to touch the floor with my bare hands. i can only hope and pray that alcohol kills all infectious diseases on the glassware.

after that incident, one buddy asks drunk push-up guy "what the f*ck, dude?" and he replies "extra points!" (obviously) and another friend starts hollering, "THAT'S NOT IN THE RULES, BRO!"  in case you can't tell, these kids were shit-canned. the saloon was only their 3rd bar of 18 according to the score sheets on the back of their fancy shirts, but they apparently had 4 drinks at the first bar. someone seriously miscalculated. do the math, guys! death by pub golf wouldn't be my choice.

anyway, i am telling you this story just to point out one of the major differences between my husband and myself. i see this crew and i'm thinking, thank-f*cking-god i'm not 22. and he's thinking, "oh, to be 22 again..." *nostalgic sigh.*

DM is Mr. Down for Whatever (and i do mean whatever. except pedicures. he would not get a pedicure upon penalty of death.) and he thinks i'm sort of a party pooper. i personally prefer the term "adult," but i suppose the two could be used interchangeably. one of my stepdad's favorite quotes was "grown ups have to see everything all boring and humdrum so they can stay calm enough to go to work and stuff." (i'm paraphrasing. i've never been able to remember or track down the source.)

my best friends are super duper fun, too. our "nickname" is actually "who's more fun than us?!" ("wmftu" for short, natch. what can i say, it sounded like a good idea when we were 22... and it stuck ;)) they can still party like rockstars, or, as i like to say, rockstars who get drunk and talk about their kids and tear their menisci on the dance floor. but rockstars nonetheless. the last baby shower we had involved verdrunken, upside-down twerking on a trolley that was careening through the streets of san francisco, yelling to passerby, "THIS AIN'T NO BACHELORETTE PARTY! THIS IS A BABY SHOWER, BITCHES!!!" ... at 11am.

but if you ask "who's more fun than me?" the answer is "quite a lot of people, actually." DM always jokes about how such a square ended up with these wild friends and him as a husband. what can i say? i ams who i ams. i don't like being loud. i don't like being the center of attention. i don't like turning heads. i don't like being in the group that everyone notices in public. i do love me a good costume/theme party, but there's a time and a place, and The Saloon is not it. whereas DM would probably do this every friday night if he could. and WMFTU would kill it at pub golf, at least until they got kicked out of the bar. but i would be the person that would bring a fanny pack of Band-Aids and Neosporin and Alka Seltzer. who'd be shushing my buddies and exchanging apologetic glances with the bartender. i'm the designated hair-holder and negotiator with figures of authority.

one of DM's biggest complaints about me is that i am impervious to peer pressure. (okay this is not entirely true. pinterest is my Achilles heel. but i'm talking about the kind of peer pressure that will make you chug beer from the business end of a Dong Bong, or wear golf outfits on a pub crawl and do push ups on the floor of The Saloon.) if i want to do something, i will. if i don't, i won't.

i'm thankful for my sassy friends and my husband who refuses to grow up. if it weren't for them, i'd probably never leave the house. they keep me as young and as fun as i could ever be. but, all i'd want to keep from my 22 year old life is that smooth, wrinkle-free skin, the taut, tan tummy, and that nubile, fat-free ass. she can keep her bravado and her insecurities. her ortho-tri-cyclen that plays her hormones like some shitty metal cover band. her inability to afford high quality jeans, underpants, and alcohol. and you know what? i should take her body, because she sure as hell didn't appreciate it!!

this is sort of tangential, but i always say to DM that i don't want our kids to peak in high school. it reminds me of that quote from Almost Famous -

Lester Bangs: What, are you like the star of your school?
William Miller: They hate me.
Lester Bangs: You'll meet them all again on their long journey to the middle.

college is the time to find your cool. but you can't really peak there, either. you can think you're peaking. that's fine. that's normal. as you might remember, i thought i was god's gift from about age 16 on. but it's like the whole "the more you know, the more you realize you don't know" thing. when you stop trying so hard to be cool, you can finally just be cool. or, in my case, be cool with your uncool-ness. and it feels nice to be in that place. i have no desire to retrace any of the steps i've taken thus far in my journey. sally forth! tally ho!

so, which camp do you fall in? when you see a passel of pub golf patrons in knee high argyle... do you wistfully sigh and wish you could join them? or would you prefer to enjoy your grown up drink and the free entertainment from the far side of the bar?

now THIS guy. i would do pub golf with this guy ALLLLL day.
add him to the grandpa collection, STAT.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

me and my shadow

i said goodbye to my shadow saturday - my ol' dog blue (who was actually black.)

i met blue days after she was born, and brought her home with me when she was just six weeks old. she was the cutest thing that has ever halfway ruined my life. (even cuter than my human babies because, let's be honest, looking back, they kind of resembled balding aliens. never fear. they are much cuter now.) and like my human children, i often wanted to throw her in the river for fish food. but she was so damn sweet and cute that i decided to keep her. despite the fact that she cried miserably all night every night until i caved and let her sleep in my bed, a tradition that continued until the day she died. despite the fact that she ate her way through magazines, mail, term papers and approximately $2,046 of lingerie in the first year of her life. despite that six month stint of stomach allergies that resulted in anal explosions of epic proportions and countless hairy butt baths. despite the fact that discovery of a petrified corn cob, chicken bone, or used tissue would cause her to become possessed by the devil, and when under this spell, she would greedily consume the fingertips of anyone who tried to pry the treasure from her vice-like grip. despite the "protest poops" on the kitchen floor that started after the kids were born, and served to remind us who was really boss. i loved that crazy-ass dog in spite of, or perhaps in part because of, all of this.

blue was my O.G. baby for 13 years. she's been around longer than my husband. i knew her nearly half my life. she was by my side through college and law school. she was there through boyfriends and breakups and makeups. she was there for marriage and two new babies in a baby carriage. she was there through sickness and health. she was a complete and total Tasmanian spaz until her last days, but whenever i was sick or sad or lost or lonely, she sat silently by my side, "a heartbeat at my feet." (edith wharton). every time i've ever fainted, i would come to under the gaze of her big brown crazy/lazy eyes and worried whiskery grey eyebrows. she was my furry black shadow. 

when the kids were born, her shadow duties shifted to them, too. she always had to be wherever they were. she learned when they were very little to generally stay out of tail-grasping reach, but as soon as they learned to be as "gentle" with her as babies and toddlers know how to be, she gamely stood by their sides. we had to keep our door latched in the mornings because as soon as she woke up she was raring to click-click-click into jack's room to say good morning, and if he wasn't awake yet, she was quick to remedy that situation. once when jack had a sleepover at his cousin's house, the poor girl paced the halls nearly all night in despair, frantically checking his room at regular intervals. and blue was always happy to sidle up next to colby to be the recipient of her clumsy, Lenny-like love.

she and DM built a begrudging relationship over the years, as well. he always used to say "she's your dog, not mine." but he loved her, and she loved him, too. she almost always came to bed with me, but when DM was traveling, she would sleep by the front door, waiting for him to come home.

she'd slowed down a little bit lately, but not much. she still spun in circles and barked her face off whenever anyone came, or went, or walked out to the mailbox and back. she continued her vocal one-dog-fight against leaf-blowers, gardeners, and pool boys until her final hours. she had stopped eating her dog food the past week or so, which is how we knew something was wrong, but she still happily cleaned up the aftermath of the mealtime toddler typhoons, and was otherwise in good spirits. then, on thursday, she was lying on the floor and she just peed. she didn't even seem to know that it happened. my heart sank.

i took her to the vet friday, and he said she basically had cancer of the everything. her trachea was also nearly collapsed, which is very common with Pomeranians. he said no responsible surgeon would put her under anesthesia, nor did it make any sense to try to remove any of the masses, given their size, number, and metastasis. chemotherapy was one option, but the risks probably outweighed the benefits. he said if it were his dog, he'd just let her live out the rest of her days. having seen the aftermath of others holding on to their furry family members too long, i tended to agree. he said eventually she'd start exhibiting more symptoms, and at that point i'd have to make some tough decisions. in the meantime, she didn't seem to be in any pain. he said feed her whatever she wants and keep her happy and comfortable.

on the way home from the vet. she looks pretty happy and comfortable :)
i was pretty bummed, of course, mostly because i thought i would have to make the decision to put her down, something i've dreaded doing since the moment she became my responsibility. but i thought we had a while, and i was looking forward to savoring the end of her life with her.

blue had an appointment at the groomer the next morning. when i picked her up with her spiffy new 'do, i also bought her a stuffed elephant. see, her first, favorite toy was this stuffed squeaky elephant. but about 5 years ago it got lost while she was at doggy daycare. she never loved anything else like she loved that elephant. we've tried a dozen elephants since. we even made one at the build-a-bear [elephant] store, to no avail. still, every time i see an elephant i buy it for her. who knows. maybe this would be "the one."

when we got back, she did a little sunbathing, and then a little shade-sitting. i made blue a huge batch of chicken and brown rice and peas - all of her favorites. she seemed to be smiling, saying, "hell yeah. F that dog kibble crap!" then i started making a bunch of cupcakes for the party we were having the next day. blue had come inside by then and was sitting under the kitchen table, sniffing at the baked sugar in the air. a minute or two after that i glanced up and noticed she was lying down and somehow... i just knew... she was gone. i was afraid to pick her up though, afraid that would make it real. finally, i did. and it was (real). sob.

DM was surfing at the time. i called him once or twice .. or thirteen times... but i guess he forgot to take his cell phone into the ocean, lest it end up at the bottom of the ocean like his car key and wedding ring did last week. colby was napping. jack had just woken up, but was engrossed in his post-nap ritual of fruit snacks and iPad. thank god for small favors. i called my sister and she came right over.

i held my girl as the heat left her body. for a second, i thought i saw her heart beating, but it turns out it was just my heartbeat against her body in my arms.

my sister arrived, and said her goodbyes to blue. colby woke up, and so i curled blue into my chest and brought her out to the kids. i told them i had to take blue back to the vet because she was very sick. they kissed her goodbye. i put her in the car and started driving to the vet, barely able to see through my tears. thankfully DM called just then and met me there. the vet was great and let me take my time saying goodbye. they felt awful that we'd just been in the day before, and so offered to cover the cost of cremation, with all the bells and whistles.

incidentally, while all this was happening, our best family friends were on their way to our house from out of town, ETA 10 minutes. DM texted to give them a heads up, saying "blue passed away. we're at the vet right now but we'll be home soon. don't worry, everyone's okay. well... except for blue." far be it from DM to miss an opportunity to be hilarious.

we told the kids, and, i'm really sorry, i don't mean to offend anyone, but i'm pretty sure the concept of heaven was invented when God had to tell little boy Jesus that his dog just died.

i don't think colby really gets it. i mean, she's not even two-and-a-half, so i didn't expect her to. jack maybe understands a little more. the both say they "willy willy willy willy miss" their "best buddy blue" every hour on the hour. and saturday night they both fought over the puppy dog bath towel because they missed blue so much. ohmygahd. dagger to the heart.

i'm so sad. i willy willy willy miss her, too. the house feels so empty somehow. i don't know how a twelve pound ball of fur left such a big empty hole. but the worst part is when i forget that she's gone, like when i walk in the door after work, when i head off to bed, expecting my shadow to be right behind me, and in the morning, when i lie there waiting for my wet-nose wake-up call. when someone knocks at the door, or when the kids spill something on the floor and we wait for our little hoover in vain. last night, out of the corner of my eye, i swore i saw her hiding behind a pillow on my bed and i gasped! but it was an just errant balled-up black bra. this happens countless times a day, and i'm sure that's not going to stop anytime soon.

all in all though, i'm so thankful that it went down the way that it did. she went peacefully, and with a fancy new haircut to wear to the flip side. she didn't seem to be in pain, and i didn't have to make any excruciating decisions.

we also had house guests, and a big party planned for the next day. at first i was thinking, oh dear, this is not good timing at all. but it actually proved to be a blessing, to be surrounded by so many of my favorite people, and all their little minis, spewing so much laughter and light and gently-used capri sun. it kept me from curling up in a ball in my bed and feeling sorry for myself all weekend. plus, they came bearing flowers and tacos and tequila, which is just what the doctor ordered.

my kids are also indispensable to the healing process. one of their preschool teachers pulled me aside yesterday to say sorry, and to remark on their "tact," (or lack thereof). she said that jack was explaining that "his best doggie buddy blue passed away and went to heaven in da sky" and then colby injerjected, "she's dead." ha. their subtle reminders really help soften the blow: "blue is not here because she's dead." "mommy, wemembow when blue died?" "did blue get flattened out when she got dead?" "blue is dead. like your mommy and daddy! now day are all in heavens!" ;)

oh, and apparently, dogs can still be blamed for farts, even from the grave. sorry, old girl. but i know you don't mind takin' one for the team. ;)

last night DM and i were lying in bed talking about blue and he apologized for not being there when it happened. DM is a daydreamer, about good things and bad, and he has thought many times about what he would do if he came home and found blue dead. he said he never wanted me to have to see her like that. so it is fortuitous that i am the one who found her, or else i might not have had the opportunity to say goodbye. to hold her as her soul made its exit, to carry her to the other side.

goodbye to the heartbeat at my feet, the fur ball on my pillow, my shadow, my fuzzy best friend.

my best old girl lookin' fancy for the dog park party in the promised land

"Many of us these days, we dread the death of a loved one. It is the ugly truth of Life, that keeps us feeling terrified and alone. I wish we could also appreciate the time that lies right beside the end of time. I know that I will feel the most overwhelming knowledge of her, and of her life and of my love for her, in the last moments. I need to do my damnedest to be there for that. 
Because it will be the most beautiful, the most intense, the most enriching experience of life I've ever known. When she dies. So I am staying home, and I am listening to her snore and wheeze, 
and reveling in the swampiest, most awful breath that ever emanated from an angel." 

- from Fiona Apple's letter to her fans upon cancelling her tour to be with her dog in her last days


I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.
One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

from My Shadow - Robert Louis Stevenson


"dogs are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole." - roger a. caras

"a dog is one of the few things in life that is as it seems." - mark j. asher

"be the person your dog thinks you are."