Monday, April 18, 2011

no turning back now

"So...I see you still haven't responded to my request on Facebook."

"What, that relationship status thing?"

"That's the one."

"Um, [holds up hand with ring on it] I think it's pretty clear what my response is. 'Til death do us part."

"Yes, but how about making it official? You know, where it really counts. On Facebook."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

be sure to check on me if i ever have a kid

A long time ago when people used to make fun of me for knitting (before it was a trendy hipster thing to do) and making clothes and other crafty stuff, I used to laugh and say I'm honing those skills "to prepare for the depression." That might have gotten a snicker in the heyday of the '90s/early-'00s, but it sure isn't funny now.

Another thing I always say is that I must have used up all of my allotted all-nighters writing papers in college. Tonight I'm really really praying that's not true. Because if I wake up in a puddle of drool at this desk at noon tomorrow, I AM SCREWED.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

except now it's 3 p.m. instead of 3 a.m.

On Friday, I switched shifts so I could get together in Greektown with my girls from college for dinner. This was remarkable because a) in the TWELVE years they've been celebrating every year in April, I believe this is the first time I'd been able to make it b) despite having gotten up at 5 a.m., taking a nap after work, Friday-night traffic and circling for parking, I managed to get there on time, and c) the organization for which we were celebrating the anniversary technically doesn't exist at our university anymore. That last part broke my heart a little bit to hear.

We were seated at a very long rectangular table at Rodity's. On my left were two people expecting babies this summer. On my right were three girls I had never met that are the latest to join the group. Across from me was my roommate for the entirety of college, pp, and one of the first friends we'd made during our freshman year.

So of course, the reminiscing began even before the saganaki went up in flames.

pp tried to deny that she'd ever worn overalls in the '90s. Sorry, pal. I found some photographic proof. We talked about how we pretty much dressed like Rachel, Monica and Phoebe on Friends back then, down to the high-waisted jeans and the children's-size tshirts (which, in some cases, are now being worn by a six-year-old nephew). We recalled those crazy parties in falling-down houses and the inexpensive winecoolers that went a long way. The new girls mentioned people they're infatuated with and the drama that comes along with that. Old-schoolers shook their heads and smiled: What's that my professor used to say about how college is like a tollbooth? Yeah, that the people are constantly changing but it's generally always the same.

I would have left there feeling old and lame, but toward the end of the night, there were updates. In the last year there were at least two new babies, three new pregnancies, four weddings. Three people are now doctors, several are successful businesswomen (pp will soon get on a plane, go to a meeting and then fly back all in the same day). People are traveling the world, saving the world one charity function at a time, and still rocking the world at the club. We really have come a long way.

And yet, just as I used to do all those nights back in college when I'd write lengthy, descriptive emails to all of them about the freaks in the computer lab with me at 4 a.m., I'm here, tip-tapping away when I should be working on my freelance project. The more things change...

Monday, April 04, 2011

for Maxy and Belle: two dogs i feel like i knew

When my brother and I were kids, we really wanted a dog. Like ready-to-bargain-on-Christmas/Birthday-presents-really-wanted-a-dog. There were all sorts of promises about how we'd take care of it in every way ourselves and my parents would never have to worry about a thing. There's a chance my mom would have eventually caved, as she is wont to do, but my dad simply wouldn't relent. He always says that the pain of losing a beloved pet is just too much to handle. And that he never got over the sadness of his dog, Maxy, dying in his arms.

Maxy was an energetic golden retriever that my dad found when he was a kid in Bombay. Dad holds his hands out like the AllState logo to show us how he "raised that dog from when he was this big." He was completely my dad's dog, sleeping next to him every night, waiting for him at the door every day. And Maxy wouldn't obey anyone else. I see how attached my father got to our neighbor's dog here a few years ago, and I can only imagine what he must have been like with a pup of his own.

Unfortunately, back in the day Maxy kept getting into the neighbors' yard, digging around the flowers while my dad was at school. And one day he came home to find the dog vomiting and shaking uncontrollably. It was impossible for a 13-year-old to carry a full-grown golden retriever all the way to the vet, but my dad tried. And when he physically couldn't go any further, no taxi or rickshaw drivers would allow such a sick dog into their vehicle. So my poor dad did the best he could to make the dog comfortable where they were in the street, and he watched as Maxy died in his arms. From rat poisoning.

My brother's roommate, Mark, bought his grandparents' house in Mobile, AL, and while it's off a major road, the neighborhood has a lovely house-in-the-woods kind of feel. Almost everyone has a huge back yard, and the street is flanked with so many beautiful old, tall trees it's actually cooler because of all the shade. You can hear birds and crickets, and it's just a peaceful place to be.

A little less than three years ago, this small brown puppy came to the door. No tags, no collar. She just arrived and didn't show any intentions of leaving. Mark and my brother went around the neighborhood trying to find out if anyone had lost a dog; they may have even put up signs. No one ever came forward, and they started to suspect someone just dropped her in off the neighborhood in the hopes people would take care of her. So they got her checked out and gave her the necessary shots, and the little chocolate lab mix became their dog, Belle.

Neither one of the guys had ever had a dog growing up, so everything Belle did was a novelty, from the never-faltering excitement when one of them came home, to tearing up the laundry room and all the clothes in it, to the lazy weekends just playing in the yard. My brother was terrified of dogs when he was very little, so the loving tone he'd use to call her or coax her to do her business in the yard while he was on the phone with me was really sweet to hear. You only really get to hear him speak that tenderly when he's just had surgery and is high as a kite on pain medication. I know he loves that dog very much. And, while I'd only seen pictures, he talked about her so much that I feel like I knew her.

My brother is in some town 30 minutes west of Austin, Texas right now, working evenings through the weekend. Yesterday he sent me a text message that Belle had died. My brother can never just give the full story in one go, so after some prodding, I found out that Mark had let her out and when he whistled and she didn't come, he began to worry. Apparently she had wandered out to the street and was hit by a car. She probably heard his whistle and tried to make her way back, but only made it as far as the grass, where he found her, bleeding. Mark called a neighbor, took her in his arms and was rushing to the veterinarian when the neighbor looked down and said, "Mark, I think she's gone."

When I talked to him later, my brother said he's never been this depressed in his life. He said now he understands how dad must have felt, and other friends he's seen have to put their pet down after having them be a part of the family for years. When he worked in town, my brother came home during lunch to let Belle out and play with her. He said that sometimes Belle would pull his slept-in pajamas out of the hamper and into her crate to sleep on while he was gone more than a few days. And when he would leave for a project, he made a point to give Belle a special treat and a kiss goodbye before he went out the door. This time he had to take off mid-week when Mark was at work, so he had to feed her, let her out and he was in a hurry to get to the airport. So he didn't have a chance to say goodbye in the usual way.

It's true, losing a pet is brutal. Hell, I've been sitting here crying over this dog that I never even met. But is having one worth the pain? I think maybe it is.

Friday, April 01, 2011

everyone thinks their kid is the cutest

I don't have any kids. But I do think my parents are the cutest. I had Pandora playing on my phone during an especially crazy night at work. I had to stop and laugh when I got this text message:

I can sympathize; I've been trying to get three stars on all the Angry Birds levels for weeks. And now I feel guilty because I introduced him to the game. He's probably even more determined than I am to beat it.