A New Dog in Town


This little handsome devil is Thurman. He’s been with us for almost two weeks. This sweet creature came from a puppy mill, and when they were done with him he was taken in by a rescue. He’s six years old, and doesn’t understand dog toys or even dog biscuits. He hates to be picked up, he shakes, makes his legs stiff and tries to get away. When he’s stressed or anxious he pants and shakes, it just breaks my heart to see this.

I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what is best for him, or trying to soothe him, or keeping an eagle eye out for signs he needs to go potty that I find myself less shaky overall. I think the last time I shook, felt stuck or ruminated was over two weeks ago. I can’t swear to it, but it does seem like it’s been an inordinate amount of time since I’ve felt stuck or fuzzy.

He needs to be walked several times a day as we have learned the hard way that his bladder is very small. He cannot go over 4 hours without a walk. I’ve learned that when you walk a dog you become ripe for conversation or greetings on the street. I am accustomed to keeping to myself on walks that this new way of life is bewildering, stressful, uncertain, and lovely all at the same time.

It took him a few days to find his bark. First time was mere minutes before a WebEx staff meeting when I was working from home. He heard children outside our window and started intermittently boofing, this sound that was not quite a bark but sounded like he was asking, “What the hell is that noise?”

Then last night he decided to show us his bark at bedtime when he wanted out of his crate. My wife and I laid in bed, held hands and tightened our grip with each bark hoping it was just intermittent as we are in an apartment. We figured out he would bark when he heard me speak. I tried to whisper to no avail. I’m glad today is Christmas because I am aware it was very late before I finally fell asleep.

We shall see what tonight brings with this little guy. Nonetheless, he keeps me out of my ruminating head, and gets me out in the world. Though for the first time I missed a train stop on the way home from work last week. I went 4 stops past my stop before I realized something was amiss. I missed my stop because I was reading The Best Dog Raincoats and Rain Boots, According to Professional Dog Walkers on The Strategist.

and there’s the sun …

I walked into my apartment mid-afternoon with groceries, the bright sun shining through the sliding glass doors in the living room caught me by surprise. I stopped in my tracks, and braced for the floaty feeling because, in the past, the sun shining brightly into my apartment would send me into dissociative floaty oblivion. Usually, on the weekend, I don’t even arrive back home until well into the evening to prevent myself from losing large swaths of time at home. I stood there, afraid for a bit that it was a mistake to come home so early. Instead, the dissociative floats decided to take a vacation as they were notably absent.

Somehow, I’ve turned a corner. This weekend I did not lose time. I was not glued to my bed upon waking, and the all too familiar foggy and floaty state was not present. I have few answers or clues for the change. About midweek I started making future plans. I can’t recall the last time I’ve done that. The challenges I’ve faced the last few years have narrowed my scope in such a way that I lived moment by moment, hour by hour, and day by day. Such a necessary way of life put future planning out of my line of sight. I didn’t even realize this until I started planning for my future this weekend.

Prior to this weekend, I devoted all of my energy to simply moving from point A to point B, and all along the arduous task of moving between points I would implore my system to keep going just one more day. The effort to continue had to be broken down into discrete steps; otherwise, I likely would have been unable to function at even the minimal level I struggled to produce.

There were a few moments this weekend where I felt the floats wanting to get back into my head. I managed to trudge through them. Why couldn’t I plow through them in the past as I did this weekend? I do not know the answer to that question. What I do know is that I sat on the couch with the sun streaming in, and I remember every moment of it.

Try To Put Yourself Back Together Day

Yesterday, the day after the day where you were most afraid the worst could happen, was Try To Put Yourself Back Together Day. On Try To Put Yourself Back Together Day you wake up, and your body feels like cardboard that will not bend or yield. Somehow, you find a dress and some sandals. And look at that! You even found a cardigan. Hold on a minute … must shower, and so you do, for the bare minimum amount of time to be considered clean. Now you can pull on the dress, fall into the sandals, and pull on the cardigan with a double check to make sure it is not on inside-out. Oh, yes, don’t forget to twist your hair up into a a hair clip.

Mercifully, your day at work is a half day. You get through it, actually it’s a strange godsend to go to work. You love the feeling of semi-normality as you discuss the performance evaluation of an employee with a supervisor. Inside you are internally incredulous. “How is it that I can do this? I look and sound normal, and even get the job done well, but the deepest inside of me is in dissociative hell.”

A few more emails to answer at your desk, and you then head out for the day. You head to a coffee shop to take a final exam online. Done. But then you realize that you have to go home, and you feel yourself start to slip away again. You call your friend, David, and he invites you to come over to his place. He reminds you that you need to eat something, so you stop at the bakery to get half priced baked goods since it’s closing time for them. You get a quiche for yourself, a cinnamon roll for him, and vanilla pound cake just to have on hand.

He saved a George Lopez HBO comedy special for you on his DVR months ago for an occasion just like this. You watch it in that sleepy, drifty mode of yours that feels almost like drunken sleep. In that sleepy state you hear “órale! órale!” from the television screen. It’s George’s forever rallying cry. But, you don’t quite drift off because David has it in his head to show you this week’s episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, which thrills you because, not having HBO, you’ve not had opportunity to ever see it. You drift off as one of your personal heroes, Simone Campbell, of Nuns on the Bus, is on the show. Such sweet serendipity.

You wind up falling asleep there for the night. Somehow the sofa bed is rolled out, and you wake up with sheets and a blanket on you.

The ick of a nasty nonsensical nightmare with a kidnapping, a helmet, and a roaring train wakes you up with a start. David hears you wake up from his bedroom. He comes out to cut up the vanilla pound cake for your breakfast. He serves you seltzer that is at least two years old because he cannot waste anything.

After all these years, you never really paid any attention to his sound system. He starts to explain to you the intricacies of 5.1 surround sound. You ask to listen to some classical music to try out the sound system, and you find a Weber symphony by the London Classical Players. And it sounds pristine. You would have paid admission for that lovely sound. Later on, he further shows off the surround sound by showing you the sound quality with a game of quidditch from the first Harry Potter movie. He tries to convince you that Star Wars is best for the sound system, but Star Wars always bored you.

But when he’s done he is done, and you get the idea that it is time to leave. After all, you did spend the night. You are still in the same clothes from yesterday. You find a hair band, and you put your hair up. You can tell that you are sweaty, and could use a shower, but you are afraid to go home and lose time. Home is such a black hole of lost time for you. You drive to the tea shop, and order a Matcha Green Tea Latte with Coconut Milk, and the paradox of sitting there with that fancy drink in day old sweaty clothes, and a greasy face is a tiny scrap of humor in the eternal struggle to not drift away. Looking out the open window of the tea shop with a slight breeze, you then realize that it’s the next day of Try To Put Yourself Back Together Day.