A Good Girl

In her favorite chair, 2009.
Dakota in her favorite chair, 2009.

My dog Dakota moved on from this earth last Tuesday. A cream-colored lab mix, Dakota’s body has been reduced to ashes in a box that I’m keeping next to me on my bed at the moment. It’s her old spot, when she could get to it. In the last few months of her life she couldn’t always leap onto my bed due to the pain. Her kidney disease caused stomach pain and a loss of appetite, so Dakota had dropped to 42 pounds from her normal weight of 55. Dakota was a happy dog to the end, in spite of the pain that I tried to manage with medication. It’s hard to know how much pain she felt because dogs don’t speak English, but she only cried a couple of times in the months before she moved on. Her last night was spent on my bed with me.

I feel really guilty that I haven’t cried more over my dog’s death. I put her down on June 16th, so it’s been almost two weeks. I cried that day and only once again later.

On the day of her death, Dakota had woken up feeling fine, but a couple hours later after she’d gone outside, she couldn’t get up the stairs into the house. My roommate and I helped her up the stairs, and from there she had trouble walking. She kept crying, yelping, trying to get comfortable, so I took her to the ER. This was the third time in two weeks that this had happened, but the other two times she’d come out of it after about an hour. She cried the whole way to the ER, and I felt like it was time. The vet agreed.

I’d thought I’d have more time, that I’d schedule her anesthesia in advance, and spend the last day with her, maybe at the park, maybe with a big steak after a night of spooning and kisses. But instead I’d slept with her on my bed and not much spooning or kisses, because I was tired, and she’d gotten up to move around several times, once putting her face in mine, probably to let me know it was her last night with me, and I didn’t really pay enough attention. I wish I’d kissed her snout and looked into her espresso eyes. She loved looking into my eyes, and I always wondered what was going on inside her head. The weekend before I’d spent at my boyfriend’s house because I’m madly in love with him and can’t stand to be without him for one second, even when my dog’s dying of kidney disease.*

The next Wednesday after I’d had her put down, I told a friend, who was shocked at my calm demeanor, exclaiming that she’d be sobbing uncontrollably if she’d just had her dog put down. I wanted to congratulate her for winning the game of who’s the better person, but I know she didn’t mean it like that. She doesn’t know what she’d do if her dog died because we just don’t know what we’ll do in any given situation until it happens.

Dakota was a good girl, a true example of unconditional love. She loved me more than she loved anyone. Somehow she knew I was her human companion. My brother-in-law had taken her out of her cage at the shelter when I’d adopted her twelve years ago, but she knew I was her human. Never did she think my ex-husband was the one, but she knew that I was. Before I’d gotten her, someone else had adopted her for four months and then returned her to the shelter, so she had separation anxiety issues. She wanted love so badly. She followed me wherever I went, and my ex-husband told me that she waited at the door at night for me to come home from work. I hope Dakota knows how deeply loved she was, is, and always will be. I hope that if there’s another world after this one that her soul is full of joy, and that she’s with Lulu, her feline best friend who moved on from this earth in 2011. Rest in peace, Dakota. I love you with all my heart.

*Dakota wasn’t alone that last weekend; she was in good hands with my roommates who reported that she was doing well — I did check in on her to make sure she was okay.

Maybe I Don’t Know What I’m Talking About

I want to record everything about the beginning of this new relationship so that we don’t forget after we’ve been together a while and fall into hard times. I don’t want to mess up this relationship by forgetting what I love about Steven. Below is one of the passages I forgot to publish on this blog. But first I want to remember that at the end of our first date, on my way home I texted my sponsor: “I think I’m in love.”

6/4
I want to record all of these details of this new love so that I don’t forget it one day, whether we stay together or not. I want to remember how new and exciting it is when you first meet someone you have in common with, who you feel like you can talk to about anything, for hours, when you have that feeling of never having met anyone like this before, how precious and rare it is. Because if it doesn’t work out, at least I’ll know I had this feeling before. It reminds me of one of my favorite lines from an Interpol song, “Evil”: “I’ve spent a life span with no cellmate / To find the long way back.” Everything about him reminds me of an Interpol song, or just of the lead singer Paul Banks in general, on his darker or more serious days, and on his fun days, he reminds me of a Justin Timberlake (my celebrity boyfriend) song. If he were a songwriter he’d have written the lyrics Paul Banks and JT have written. He’s the kind of man who’d actually say those things, and mean them.

Of course there’s this part of me that wonders if we’re both just delusional, and that a week or a month from now I’ll find out he’s actually still married to two women in two different states who don’t know about each other, and a gay partner in yet another state, that he has a cocaine addiction, that he killed an ex-girlfriend in the past, or some other dark secret that will reveal itself in time, something so dark I can’t deal with it.

In the meantime my dog is slowly getting worse with her kidney disease. Last week she started eating less and less. This week she came into the tiny bathroom while I was getting ready for work just to lay there and be with me. Earlier this week she had trouble getting up. It’s reached the point where I don’t want to leave the house for too long outside of work because I’m afraid something will happen to her when I’m not here to comfort her and take care of her and let her know how much I love her, how much she is loved. I have a lot more to say about this, in time.

Tomorrow I have a job interview for a job I really want and I feel completely unprepared. In my mind I’ve already gotten the job, and I’m not thinking so much about the next small step of how to get there, but rather I’m thinking of two steps after that, where I’m somehow already a VP, making a lot of money that affords me a comfortable lifestyle in which I can pay off my student loan debt, buy nice gifts for my family, take nice vacations, live in a comfortable high-rise. In this life I imagine I somehow feel comfortable in my work. I’ll have a personal trainer and a therapist to help me achieve peace. I’ll mentor younger women in their careers. I’ll write in my free time.

Steven and I were supposed to go out on our second date tonight but I have to prepare for my interview, so we decided — he decided for me, because he’s a wonderful man who takes charge — that we’d wait until next week. I was so grateful that he offered to postpone because I really didn’t want to cancel or not see him, and he clearly wants to see me. He may be a bit needy, and that scares me because it seems I get into unhealthy, codependent relationships, like the good ACA that I am, in which I find someone who is magnetized to me, which has to do with my fear of abandonment. Usually I fall for unavailable men who are emotionally closed but then get into relationships with men who want to be my Siamese twin. Actually that’s not completely true, as it turned out that my ex-husband was closed. So maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. It is possible. That has certainly happened before.

Dreams

As you’ve probably guessed by now, I’m a dreamer. I have had lots of dreams about the different directions my life could go. One of my dreams is to buy a plot of land somewhere down South or out West and live off the land with a vegetable garden, some cows, a goat, and some chickens. Another dream is to buy an RV camper and drive around the country, and maybe Mexico and Canada. Another dream is to teach English in another country, like South Korea. Of course a man is involved in each of these off-the-grid scenarios. This man would go with me and do the same, and we’d live in our own cocoon of joyful love.

My new “dream” was just to embrace life as it is, go back into marketing, be a single career woman, live in a high-rise in the city, and just make a lot of money so I can do the things I like: get a personal trainer, take rock-climbing lessons, take jewelry-making classes, get regular massages, go on vacations with my single girl friends, eventually meet someone whose life is on a similar trajectory, and enjoy spending our riches together. This plan involves lots of mad cash that we basically shower in, with designer clothes, a luxury apartment with a steam shower, a maid, and a personal assistant who’ll organize our closets and check our mail, and a personal shopper, because shopping is a pain in the ass, and if I’m going to sell my soul then I better get a lot of fucking money for it. It may not sound like a spiritual path, but for that I’d go to Buddhist dharma talks and meditate regularly to try to get some serenity and accept life on life’s terms. I’d be like, Poor me, I have so much money and I hate my job, but then I’d learn to like my job because I’d promote something I believed in, and someone would eventually hire me to do what I’m good at, and I’d gain confidence in giving presentations to VPs and CEOs, and I’d become a VP myself, and I’d mentor younger women and tell them to find what they like to do (…because that’s what I’ve done? — Because that’s NOT what I’ve done.) and the money will come. I don’t know how all this will happen but I hope that whatever happens I can embrace it without wanting to commit suicide or feel like it’s all a big fucking lie.

If this all sounds delusional to you, well it sounds that way to me too, now that I’m articulating my plans into words. So I feel like I’m back to square one in that I have no fucking idea what to do. All I know to do at this point is just to keep doing what I’ve learned to do, which is what’s in front of me, and to try not to project out so far into the future with all these plans and ideas of what it will look like. Honestly though, I don’t even know what’s in front of me.

One thing I did today was tell the CEO’s right-hand man that I have years of marketing experience and would love to do marketing for the grocery store. Do I really believe that I could do a good job at it? Not entirely, but this marketing is my only experience and I can’t be a grocery store worker forever.

One of my co-workers is studying to become an acupuncturist, and two others are studying to become nutritionists. I’d considered nutrition myself but decided against it because I didn’t want to borrow more money, but now I’m going back for an MBA which will require a student loan, so it doesn’t really make sense that I’m doing this. I’m only doing it because it seems the path of least resistance. What I really want is to write an award-winning memoir that becomes a critically-acclaimed mini-series, but I have no idea how to do that. It may sound like a child’s delusional fantasy, but if other people have done it, then why not me? If my fellow classmate from Queens can write a memoir that got endorsed by Oprah, and in my humble opinion I’m just as talented as her, then why not me?

Freewriting on Love

6/8
Steven is all I can think about. When I’m not thinking about him, I’m texting him, talking to him on the phone, creating playlists for him, writing about him. We’ve talked on the phone for hours after only two weeks of meeting. It’s like we’d started a conversation some time ago before memory and we’re continuing that conversation. There’s not a single person for whom I’ve felt this intensely before. Two other men came close, and I loved my oldest best friend deeply, but I never wanted to make love to her. At night I can’t sleep, during the day I’m distracted. In my mind we’re already in the life we’re building together, many steps down the road, living together, and I even imagine his kids as part of my life, in a positive way, and I hope it will be that for them too. In the past I didn’t want to date anyone with kids, and I felt jealous of the old man’s kids, and I didn’t imagine myself as part of their lives. I hope Steven’s children will like me and understand how much I adore their father.

We had our second date at the same place, even the same table, because the other restaurants were closed on Mondays, and because last time was so magical and private and romantic, he requested the same table. The waiter was so nice, allowing us to stay as long as we wanted, saying his mom is the owner and that he would be there for another hour and that we weren’t bothering him at all. I think he could feel our electricity and just felt happy for us.

Steven and I couldn’t keep our hands off each other. He arrived soon after I pulled into the parking lot, but I went ahead and walked down the parking lot so he could be surprised by me when he stepped out. I wore a black long-sleeved mini-dress that looked like something out of “Mad Men,” strappy black platform wedges, turquoise and gold jewelry, toenails a vibrant fuchsia color, fingernails a natural, pale pink color. When he saw me he stopped and just soaked me in, going on and on about how beautiful I looked, and he made me feel very beautiful. We kissed immediately in the parking lot before the date even started, and then we walked a few feet and stopped to kiss again several times before going into the restaurant. The restaurant is a big old house tucked away in the trees, very romantic.

During the date all we could do was talk about how into each other we are. Mostly him telling me at first, because I felt shy, because there had been a part of me that wondered if this was all real. While we were apart over the past week, sometimes I couldn’t even remember what he looked like, so I’d have to look at his pictures as a reminder. And I had this fear that what if I’m making this into more than what it is, simply because it’s what I want. The funny thing is that he mentioned that he’d also forgotten what I looked like and had to look at my pictures. He too had the fear that this may not be real. The truth is that we have the same interests in music, entertainment, sense of humor. He just feels like an old friend, a true friend.

6/11
I really hope this isn’t going to be a situation in which I open up to someone who’s going to rip my heart out. It’s possible that telling someone who you’ve met two weeks ago that you believe they’re your soulmate is a bit hasty and just plain crazy. But then it can’t be any more crazy than telling each other you’re falling in love and want to spend the rest of your lives together. Actually. It IS a bit crazier. The word “soulmate” really takes it many steps further, far beyond just falling in love. It’s like knowing each other in a past life and meeting again in this life, and it’s a familiar surprise. Falling in love is just something that can easily be re-labeled as infatuation with hindsight.

What I still want to know is what the meaning of all this is. Why is God bringing this to me, when I was pretty sure that the universe’s plan for me was to go back to my career and move into a high-rise in the city. Why this distraction. And if it’s just so I can get my heart ripped out then this is all a very cruel joke. And this thing that is happening is keeping me from going after the job.

In the meantime another big thing is happening which is that my dog is dying. Her time is near, and it’s up to me to decide when, and I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to deal with it. How do you schedule your dog’s death? I want Steven to be there, and Steven wants to be there, but he’s going out of town twice later this month, and we both have work. I feel that it’s only right I take time off work just to lay by her side and look into her eyes so that she knows she is loved in this lifetime, and will be loved in the next, that I will love her forever. That I will never forget her, she is immortal because she lives in my memory and my heart forever. I’ve never known another being that was so attached to me as this dog. Since the day I got her she has been by my side. And although it’s a fucked up thing to be proud of, I never abused her. Some alcoholics do that to their pets, and somehow I manage to find it a point of pride that I never did, and I know I never did because my first husband was crazy about dogs, and would’ve told me had I done that in a blackout. He’d have had me committed. He had no problem telling me all the humiliating things I did during blackouts.

I don’t like thinking of all these things. All I want to think about is this man and our future together. He created a playlist for me that I turned on before going to sleep so that I could absorb the music into my mind and heart while drifting off to the subconscious world, and awoke in the middle of the night to hear this gorgeous song:

That’s the song that plays before the egg donor commercial that blasts itself into my ear, reminding me I’m not their target market, and how I wish I could call their marketing agency and tell them to just hire me to do their marketing because clearly they don’t understand the fundamentals of online targeting, which is that they need to turn off their targeting options for women over 35. I included the year of my birthday on Facebook so they really should know better. Mom had suggested I freeze my eggs in case I change my mind so I filled out an online form a year or so ago but never got around to doing more, since it seemed pointless, knowing I don’t really want to spend my 40s chasing a toddler, and perhaps this is why they’re targeting me, this being the online form that I filled out, which doesn’t make sense because it’s the opposite of what I was considering at the time, but that’s how my brain works at three in the morning.

And I think of a conversation I had with a co-worker earlier today.

“What you do on your day off?” Jose asked me in his Peruvian accent, rolling his r’s when he says my name, which I’m not including here because this is an anonymous blog.

I told him that I run errands, do laundry, clean. He asked me if I cook, and I said yes, everyday, Jose.

“You make a good housewife,” he said.

“I make a damn good housewife, Jose,” I confirm.

Jose is a very sweet man. Every day he says hello to me, addressing me by name. One day in the breakroom I saw him eating some home cooked meal from a Tupperware container, and I asked him if his wife had made that for him and he’d said yes, and I remember thinking it was the sweetest thing. He has a beautiful little daughter of about five years old who he uses for his Facebook profile picture, and I just think he’s the sweetest man. He always asks me if I need help getting boxes down from the back, and I remind him that I move boxes of 25 and 50 pounds every day all day, that I am strong, that indeed I am actually kind of a badass, but I always appreciate him having the gentlemanliness of offering to do that and to climb up on the ladder to get anything I need. Most of the other guys don’t offer, especially not the younger ones, and while it’s my job to do these things, there’s a very old-fashioned Southern belle in me who feels annoyed when they don’t offer to help me.

“I just don’t want you breaking a nail,” Jose says to me, and I can’t tell if he’s serious or joking, but I appreciate it either way, because it is true that I like getting manicures and don’t like breaking a nail or for my hands to look bad.

It’s nearly four in the morning and I need to get to sleep because I have to get up soon for work, but all I can think about is how Steven is turning my entire world upside down.

The Last Three Days

5/31
This new man I’ve met is unlike anyone I’ve ever met before. Unlike any other man. He’s definitely a man. Very masculine. No one could ever see him dressing up as a woman. He’d make a very unattractive drag queen. But if it turns out he secretly likes to do that, at this point I’d buy his cosmetics. That’s how hooked I already am. The only thing that could possibly deter me at this point—just after our first date—is if he killed someone, and even then I’d ask, In what context? Self-defense? To save someone else? Actually child molestation. That would be the only deal breaker at this stage, or at any stage.

No one could accuse him of being a big boy, not in any negative sense. He notices things about you and he remembers what you’ve said and he asks about you. He wants to know who you are as a person. It’s not all about him and who he is; he’s not spending the whole time telling you all about him and how great he is. He’s not trying to pretend to be someone he isn’t. When he talks about himself, he tries to be honest about who he really is so that you can get to know the real him. And pretty much all I can think about is what he’ll look like on top of me, kissing me, with my hands on his face, arms, chest. That first moment when he enters me, and eye contact, a sigh, and connection. I just want to eat him, take a bite out of him, his shoulder, his neck, when he’s inside of me. Fucking. Lots of fucking and sucking. That is pretty much all I can think about at this point.

6/1
One of my friends often says that everyone is crazy, we just have to find a partner who is our brand of crazy. And this man is my brand of crazy. We’ve only had one date and we’ve talked for hours on the phone and sent dozens and dozens of texts. In our minds we’ve already slept together, gone on vacations, and moved in together. It’s borderline insanity. No, it IS insanity. That’s what love is. This time I don’t feel crazy in a manic sense but I suspect he may, and I recognize that there’s a real danger here, to many things, but mainly to my sobriety and my career focus.

I’ve wanted so badly to get the love, the job, and the house, and finally I let go of trying so hard to get a man. When I did, poof! Here he is. The problem is he may be an alcoholic. And I am already hooked. It is already too late. I can’t let him go just because he may be or become an alcoholic. He doesn’t drink right now, but that doesn’t mean he won’t drink later. It’s the way in which he talks about alcohol that scares me. Only time will tell. I’m not concerned about relapsing, though I am mindful of it; I’m more concerned about the person he’ll become when he drinks. If he’s a real alcoholic the first thing he’ll do when we have problems is drink, and then who will he be? If he’s an alcoholic like me, he’ll become a different person.

There’s not a scientist out there who can tell me more about alcoholism that I don’t already know from personal experience. No amount of research and investigation and self-knowledge can deter an alcoholic from avoiding this insidious disease. By the time an alcoholic realizes they’re alcoholic, it’s too late. And if someone thinks they may have a problem with alcoholism, they probably do. Normal drinkers don’t wonder if they’re alcoholic. They just don’t. And there’s no reversing alcoholism. All one can do at that point is abstain and, in my experience, practice a spiritual program because a higher power is the only thing that I can rely on to help me live life on life’s terms.

It’s funny how my higher power gives me this thing I’ve been wanting so badly, under these terms. What am I supposed to do with this? What does this mean?

6/2
To continue from yesterday’s writing, I hope that the fact that the universe brought me this amazing, wonderful, beautiful man because I was meant to find love, I deserve love, from a person who is open about his feelings and thoughts, and I can and will learn to love and grow from this place. I hope it doesn’t turn out to be a situation in which this man turns out to be some other brand of crazy that’s not like mine, some brand of crazy I won’t be able to deal with, and that at some point in the future I’ll be broken again because I wanted someone so badly that I made him my higher power, when I need to be focusing on myself. I hope it doesn’t mean that God, aka my higher power, sent me someone to tempt me away from trying to find a job and a new place because maybe I’m meant to stay here for longer in spite of what I want, which is love and money. Because this tiny voice of doubt tells me I can’t get what I really want, love the way I want it doesn’t really exist, that the universe’s path for me isn’t the one I think I want. There’s definitely something for me to learn and grow from here, but I don’t know if it’s what I think it is, or what I hope it is. What I hope for is true love and a partner I can grow with, and not to find myself in exactly the same boat again a year or five or 10 years from now when I’ve jumped ship to travel the world alone to do more soul-searching since that seems to be my MO.