A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by PupJournal to write an article for them. They had seen my pieces on Things I’ve Learnt from my Dog and a more recent follow-on piece on Dog Wisdom. And so, as much as I don’t think of myself as that crazy cat (erm, dog) lady, I do suppose I spend quite a lot of time with my canine boyfriend (“why dogs are better than men: news at 11”).
I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I decided on a New Year’s project for 2016: I was going to take a photo a day of Gus, my aging but wonderful girl’s best friend.
This, from an essay I’ve recently posted on Medium…
I’m the cheerleader. Except I was never a cheerleader. Better, still, I actually even tried out for and was summarily rejected for Kilties in 10th grade. Kilties were my high school’s exclusive kickline squad; more exclusive than cheerleaders… [Read More]
This is the 20th anniversary of my last father’s day with my dad. He died of lung cancer when I was in my late 20’s. I was trying to think of a way to remember him this year, where flowers on a tombstone fail miserably. I wrote him this letter last night:
Sunday is the 20th anniversary of our last father’s day. It marks 20 years since we looked at pictures together; 20 years since you laughed and told stories I’d never heard of our family’s history.
It marks the end of sushi dinners. And boat trips to Montauk or Nantucket. And Sunday bagels and lox with the Times spread all over the table (I still read the paper that way, you should know). And the day after Thanksgiving at Macy’s. And outrageous Christmas Eves because you didn’t want to be the center of attention on your birthday.
It marks the months before you’d not meet the man I’d eventually marry (the one you’d probably tell me wasn’t good enough. None of them ever were).
This father’s day marks the anniversary of a quiet celebration before your hospital bed would arrive, just as it marks the beginning of the hole that would remain in my heart.
It marks the beginning of the wouldn’t be there’s:
You wouldn’t be there to see me turn 30
Or to see my first underwater photos
Or to help me make a decision on which career path to follow (The first time. Or the second.)
You wouldn’t be there to listen to my stories from the trips I’d make to the jungle and other far-flung places
Or to read what I was writing and finally comfortable sharing
…to see me buy my first house in the suburbs (or to tell me it wasn’t good enough)
…to meet my dog
Or to help me through job loss and love lost and the angst of meeting 40
And you wouldn’t see me blow up and then piece back together everything in my world
You wouldn’t see me get my Master’s degree
And you wouldn’t see me doing a job that on most days fulfills both my head and my heart.
And you wouldn’t be there to see the greatest individual work of my life come to fruition, whether or not it makes the NYT bestseller list.
I would have liked to travel with you, to see some of the world as an adult with you, to go on photo walks and get ice cream and talk about books and play Spite & Malice and go window shopping in seaside towns. In not necessarily that order. I miss the New York City people-watching lunches where we’d make up stories about the characters sitting at the other tables. We did that at Trump Tower one day…do you remember?
You know what? I think I could probably beat you at scrabble today. I want to scream sometimes at that silly little thing; the knowing something so simple can simply not ever be.
There isn’t a day I don’t miss you, dad. And there isn’t a day I don’t wish I’d talked to you more, and listened better, through the years. I didn’t get enough time to ask you the things I didn’t know I needed to find out when I had the opportunity. There isn’t a day I don’t wish you’d been there to see me turn out ok. The world is a bumpy place right now, and though life’s not perfect it’s pretty good. And I think you’d be proud of me today, dad.
I write; pretty much every day. I write to release the shitstorm of words in my head. I write to explain what goes on in my heart. I write to make some semblance of order of my dreams. I write to make sense of the jumble of ideas. I write to figure out what to do or say or make or try next.
Some days, the heart words and the head words jockey for first position. It is on these days that I should very much heed my inner barometer, my inner jumping-up-and-down-guy, waving his hands, trying to tell me to just SHUT THE F*CK UP. That inner guy says, DO NOT SEND THE EMAIL. AND FOR f*ck sake DO NOT LET THE WORDS OUT OF YOUR MOUTH.
So of course, the words get put on paper to try to explain the head and the heart and their perpetual duel; more words, later released from the keyboard, then mouth, in order to explain the between-the-lines meaning of the written words. Neither of which do much beyond muck up an already feet-on-eggshell-esque day, weekend or week.
We say “put on paper” as if invisible ink could or would dry up our electronic words or that which their unintended implication, sting, obfuscation or misalignment(s) have wreaked.
And then we finally shut up — the mouth, the fingers on keyboard, the pen on paper — only to bottle up what Might Come Out if we dare ever open our lips to speak again. Here, in the Brain, during the quiet, the words begin to pile up again, emotionally-charged adjectives and nouns and Pronouns. Many exclamation points and perhaps even more question marks.
I have learnt over the past few years that this is normal. That we of introverted constitution have these internal cacophonies of thought and words, these out-of-tune 6000-piece orchestras (accentuated by flute and tuba duets, par example) blaring their discordant tirades on a near-consistent basis in our minds. Small, yet weighty, bits are let out to play each day; the rest of the words kept in check for future use…
[cross-posted to my Medium page. Check that out here]