Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I wish you a puppy Christmas

My husband and I were living in DC when the Twin Towers were hit and I recall that when The Daily Show came back on the air a week later, all Jon Stewart could muster for his monologue was holding a puppy and sharing that cuddly golden bundle with his viewers.  I connect with this strategy. Puppies cure everything. My gracious gift to you this holiday season is the gift of my ridiculous puppy musings.  While my entire family has been sick with crud that oozes from every orifice, while I recover from a busy and exhausting semester, and while my puppy - Charleston the Terror - recovers from being spayed (because we are NOT having more of her), I have taken solace in all things puppy. To be fair and equitable (like you do) I want to pass on this puppy glee.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukka, Joyous Kwanza, A Delightful Devali, and Glorious Ramadan.

Charlie is a tiny dog.  Not what I'm used to.  Lucy is our 7-year-old St. Bernard.  That's what I'm used to.  Charlie is so going to shiver this winter.  Dogs in sweaters are a bit cutesy for my taste (not judging if that's your thang), but dogs in kooky sweaters . . . where is my credit card amazon.com?
Monster Puppy
Sock Puppy with hoodie ears to cover real ears
            Punk Rock Puppy

While Charlie has been recuperating, we've needed to keep her sequestered from Lucy: puppy jail.  At night after my family has gone to bed with various illnesses, I have been letting the puppy out into the house for bonding with me and Downton Abbey.  (We went through the entire first season in one week flat.)  I now wake looking forward to our couch time with the Dowager.  I'm totally channeling my college penchant for Merchant/Ivory Edwardian costume dramas.  With this in mind, the following image was a Christmas present for me and Charlie from icanhazcheeseburger.com.

Correct: The Dowton Abbey cast . . . as dogs 

Another bit of puppy joy that my entire family has been buzzing on for days (read: play it again, play it again!) is this piece of goodness:

Bookmark that baby for when you're feeling blue on a cold and gray winter day.

From the bottom of my puppy-lovin' heart, Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Processing Tragedy

Over the past week I have been keenly aware of how we all process trauma, each in our own way.  I have been inspired by photos and news stories, outraged and dumbstruck by others.  Through all of it, I continue - like all of us - to grieve the losses in Newtown.

Some of my friends have written beautiful posts, like my friend Anna who wrote about silencing the arguments: The Silent Isle.  Others have written about not having words (me included), but gathering enough words to send to the families at Sandy Hook Elementary: Shabbir's Diary.  Kate at Nested has reminded us of heroes.  One of my new favorite blogs, Rage Against the Minivan, has expressed anger and has called for action (she has several excellent posts, one in particular about mental health). I've received phone calls and texts from friends, fellow moms, who just want to send love to all of their friends and family. My poor husband has been rendered speechless, tearing up at a vigil on campus as he introduced a colleague.  And my dear friend First Laura has focused her energy on making her immediate surroundings more beautiful and festive for the holidays, baking a kitchenful of treats for co-workers and decorating her office hallway to spread cheer in the face of suffering.

This is what I've done: research.

I told my husband the other night that when tragedy strikes, historically I have exhaustively researched the situation.  In doing so I am not trying to distance my emotions from the people involved.  Quite the opposite.  I want to know as much as I possibly can so that I can honor each person who died.  This is why I have channel surfed (on my computer because we don't have cable) relentlessly.  This is why I forced myself to look at every child's photograph, listen to every name read on NPR, why I have posted every well-written op ed and news story that I feel sheds light on the facts of the events.  (I say well-written because man have I read some awful, speculative pieces over the past week.  One on Salon.com that frankly pissed me the hell off for all of its speculation about the killer's mother.  How can they publish something that is pure imagination? Or other articles about how Adam Lanza was vegan.  Who the f*$# cares?!)

At heart, I am an eternal student who requires facts to find answers.  I am not looking for meaning in the face of tragedy, because I don't believe there is meaning.  It was senseless and horrific.  I am not looking for hope (although I do appreciate all of the posts that have given that to me, especially the news about the 6 golden retrievers sent from Chicago to bring comfort to the Newtown community).
I am not a person of faith, so I am not looking for comfort in prayer.  I am not looking for comfort period.  I don't want to be comfortable.  I want to look into the face of pain and feel it too.  It is real and I need to acknowledge it so that I never forget what it looks like, how it feels.  As a cultural Jew, this is a lesson I learned a long time ago: never forget.  My approach is raw and it isn't right for everyone, certainly not my husband who can't listen to the news anymore.  I, however, need to know and need to cry.  I need to be active, so I have signed gun control petitions, have shared every post I consider worth reading (even if they contradict my own feelings - some politicians, namely the uber-crazy governor of Texas - want to arm teachers!).  We all approach this tragedy differently.  There really isn't a right way to grieve.

image: http://mashable.com/2012/12/17/newtown-comfort-dog-ministry/

Monday, December 17, 2012

Just a few words of little consequence

I've been trying to write a post in my head all weekend, but still am not sure what to say. My silence has been both situational (one child in Nutcracker productions back-to-back; the other child up all night sick; and my own body giving up on me, sending me to my specialist) and self-imposed. I honestly am not sure how to add to the national dialogue about the Sandyhook Elementary massacre, nor am I by any means a voice of authority on grief, gun control, or mental health. I'm just a mom who feels overwhelmed like the rest of you moms, dads, human beings. The best I can do is say I grieve for Newtown, my dreams are haunted and I worry a little more than usual when I send my kids to school. I've always been a staunch advocate for gun control and I do think this IS the time to address it. When Joe Scarborough publicly denounces his own pro-gun record because of Newtown, I have hope that the climate can change.

Peace to all who mourn.

And for levity, I promise soon - in celebration of hitting 21 followers (most of whom I personally know and love) - to post a middle school drawing of Steve Perry.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I'd like to thank the Academy

Precisely one week ago, my dear friend and fellow blogger (who my husband now refers to as my "new girlfriend"), Kate, nominated me for a Liebster Award.  What does that mean?  I better quote it, because I can't rely on my memory: The Liebster blog Award is an award given from bloggers to bloggers that are small to medium in size or up and coming in the blogsphere. Liebster is German for 'favorite.' The award is a way to give beginning bloggers some worthy attention, make conections and let readers learn a little more about you." Thank you, Kate!  I'm not worthy.  I'm not worthy.  In order to accept the award, I must answer 11 questions challenged by Kate.  After you read over my answers, check out my girlfriend's always thigh-slapping hilarity at Nested.

Now for some truth:  

1. What did you want to be when you "grew up"?  At age 4: Queen.  Age 5: Ballerina.  Age 6: Waitress.  Reality set in quickly for me in elementary school.

2. What's your guilty pleasure?  A pint of (no, sadly, not bourbon) Graeter's Mocha Chip and HGTV.  I know. Whoooooooo!
3. If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?  No offense, my sweet girlfriend, but I hate this question.  Why would I want to have dinner with a corpse?  Also, I'm terrible at small talk and given the opportunity to have dinner with an alive-and-only-slightly-deranged Virginia Woolf, I would most likely smile a lot and say I like her books.  I tried chatting with David Sedaris while he signed my books once and he a.) had nothing to offer and b.) wrote this in my book: "Dear Amy, thank you for making me rich." Famous people are dicks.

4. How do you take your coffee? How many people answer this with the Airplane joke?  Lately, with a splash of almond milk because I'm wild like that.  I also am beginning an elimination diet which will have me eschewing most dairy (which I already do, minus the Graeter's Mocha Chip, because that stuff is crack), gluten, and soy.  I'll be the frightened woman in the corner gnawing on cardboard.

5. Do you believe in ghosts?  No, but I love a good ghost story.  My daughter is reading a great one, the first book of The Books of Elsewhere: The Shadows, by Jacqueline West. Click on that link!  The music is worth the effort.
photo: amazon.com (but you can find it in your local independent bookstore,  which I recommend)
 6. Would you rather have a human head and intelligence with a velociraptor's body or a parrot that sat on your shoulder and broadcast your every thought?  I'm going to go with velociraptor because a.) parrot crap on the shoulder, ew, b.) who doesn't want to fly? and c.) I would be a hit at my son's birthday parties.
7. If you could accomplish only one thing in 2013, what would it be? Develop an actual writing routine, something I do regularly, at a time that is sacred.  No exceptions.  Failing that, I'd like to get either my essay collection or memoir in good enough shape to shop around to agents and/or editors.

8. Cats or dogs?  I am highly allergic to cats and have always thought of myself as a dog person; however, my terrier rescue has me leaning towards cats.  They are quiet and snuggly and very low-maintenance.  But the constant wheezing and swollen eyes would be a pain.  I'm going to have to go with a narrow definition here: I am a BIG dog person.  I like them big, loveable, lazy, and dumb (just like my men -- see, I did a bait and switch on the Airplane joke).

9. What animal best represents your personality and why? I believe a picture can answer this question best.
Yoo-hoo!  Follow my blog!
 Or perhaps a video.

10. Are you afraid of the dark?  Only at night.  (Actually, I love the dark because dark = sleepy time.)

11. Paper or plastic?  Are we discussing grocering or something more personal?  I prefer cloth, then aluminum sheeting, followed by the woven hair of all of my pets.

I believe I am supposed to pass on the Liebster Award to other deserving blogs, but because I'm still networking in the blogosphere, all of my nominees either have one already or keep more private blogs.  I will hold onto this award for later and award the deserving who I will discover and love in 2013 (another goal for the new year: invest in the blogging community!).

My parting words will be a gauche plea for you to follow my blog.  I have 18 awesome followers (thank you, all!).  If you ever read my blog on Facebook or SheWrites, even if it is only on occasion (and that's fine, I'm not asking for a Faustian commitment) PLEASE FOLLOW MY BLOG!  Why?  Because one day when I send off my book proposal, an editor or agent will look up ADDled and see I only have 18 (wonderful) followers and am therefore insubstantial, a risky bet, and a sad little writer coasting on a pipe dream.  Boost my numbers and I become a playa!

Thank you.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pile and piles and piles and . . .

Generally speaking, I can measure how acute my ADD is by the number of piles situated around my house.  Last Friday I believe I counted 14 separate piles.  As of today, some of those piles have melded together forming a mega or monster pile, which eventually will become sentient and eat my head. 
Where is that delicious head?!

Pretty much every room in the house has a pile or two or four hundred and seventeen.  Lest you think I'm exaggerating, I will provide photographic evidence.

This is what happens when my teaching semester ends, but my student semester continues

Even my freezer has piles.
Fancy some smushed bread with that frozen turkey burger?

And my laundry.
Clearly, this is the winner.  (That's CLEAN laundry on top of the appliances!)

My piles are breeding.  IT'S AN EPIDEMIC!

I wish I could offer a solution for those of you who are nodding your heads and saying, "That's me!  That's my house and my life, too!" but sadly, the only solution I see ahead of me is plowing through each pile, one-by-one as time allows, while the house is empty of everyone besides me and the dogs (who often provide me with piles of their own).  As I wade through each stack, I will inevitably shake my head and vow never to let things get this out of hand again.  Then I will move the laundry pile on my bed to the dresser in order to sleep and the cycle will not end.

I often wonder where this stacking habit originated.  If memory serves me, I had piles in my bedroom as a teenager - mostly to frustrate my OCD mother.  No one else in my family has this bad habit.  Then again, by the time I was a teenager, all of my siblings were in grad school, married, and/or living on their own in pile-free houses and apartments.  Even my ADD times fifty husband gets irritated with my stacks.  He wants to rid the house of paper.  I agree to an extent.  Some memories are paper memories (ticket stubs and programs and kids' artwork).  Some important documents are also paper (insurance claims, checks, immunization records). 

I know, I know, I could scan them and keep them electronically organized, but guess what?  My computer hard drive is maxed out with piles of crap too.

Photo credits:

Friday, December 7, 2012

Keep them doggies movin'. Rawhide!

I admit it.  I placate my dogs with rawhide.  Perhaps this isn't a capital offense (if I were one of my students I'd say "in society today."  For some reason, college freshmen think that makes them sound authoritative.).  Pet stores sell raw hide by the truckloads in all shapes, sizes and well, body parts.  When I took my son with me to buy the dogs new and crazy expensive protein-rich food (because they have allergies and I wasn't going to save for my kids' college education anyway), he picked up a raw hide that was taller than him.  Nearly as tall as me.  Granted, he is only three feet tall and I'm only five feet, but still.



My dog trainer, Andrea, isn't a huge fan of rawhide because it doesn't digest easily and some dogs can bite off big hunks and choke.  There are products that resemble rawhides that are 100% pig skin - yep, that's how it's advertised and having pets IS this glamorous.  My dogs LURVED it, but they are more expensive and not available at Kroger, where I lazily throw a pack of rawhide in my cart and move on.
My dogs loved the pig skin thiiiiiiiiisssssss much

Charlie, our terror, ahem terrier, has been super destructo lately.  It's colder, we are insanely busy and she's not getting walks or outside time like she should.  Yesterday, she destroyed her bed.  At least it was her bed and not any of the human beds in the house.  She yanked it by the teeth until she bit a hole in it and pulled out all of the stuffing.  In the immortal words of Monty Python, it is an ex-dog bed. 

In order to keep her crazy a little under wrap, and to make Lucy, my big dog - or as the rest of my family call her, our good dog - happy, I gave them both small rawhides this morning while getting ready.  Lucy demurely held her chew bone and ate it like a normal dog.  Charlie looked more like this. 

Where Charlie is the kid in black and the chew bone is the other kid in black.

In fairness, that rawhide had it coming.

This is where my blog goes when the semester ends and I'm done grading.  Get used to it.  I'm not teaching next semester!

Photo credits: