I’m a dog person

There are two types of people in this world: Dog people and those who aren’t dog people.

I’m definitely a dog person. I’m one of those sappy, oh my God, look at that poor guy, he/she needs to be rescued, types of dog people.

I’ve posted about my dog, Riley, in the past. My beloved, funny looking Bassett/corgi mix. My friend and companion. I adopted him from the humane society close to 11 years ago. He was a tiny little bundle of fur back then and he chewed and climbed on everything.

Well, I’ve fallen in love with another little bundle of joy. Actually, he’s not little. He’s Julie’s dog, Murphy. He’s a black lab/pit bull mix.

I’m not one that subscribes to the notion that any particular breed is more dangerous to humans than the next. I firmly believe that the character of the owner is what makes a dog mean or aggressive, or docile and loving.

Murphy is an excellent example of that!

He’s playful and sweet. He occasionally sneaks up on the sofa to nap when Julie isn’t looking and has an expression of accomplishment on his face when he’s able to stay up there for more than a minute or two before being caught.

Anytime I’m at the house alone, he’s right by my side. Unless he knows that Julie is in the garage or outside, in which case he’s laying, dutifully, by the door she exited from.

He’s also turning into an awesome running companion. The little town Julie lives in has a beautiful park about 3 blocks away. Murphy and I will head in that direction around 9 am and have our daily adventure. Some days we actually run. He’s young and energetic. He isn’t easily distracted by the occasional squirrel or bird, so I’m actually able to get 2 miles in before he needs to stop.

Other days we just walk. We explore the trails and picnic area. Walk around the pond. Sit at the picnic tables watching the world go by. On these days he wants to sniff and mark everything.

The other day a lady brought her two little poodle type dogs to the park. Neither was on a leash and I immediately went into panic mode. I’d never been with Murphy when other dogs were around that weren’t contained. As they saw him, they each bolted in his direction. I tightened my grip on his leash and braced myself for impact.

Once they got within 4 feet of us they began to bark and yip like crazy. How did Murphy react? His ears stood up, he cocked his head and looked at them as if they had gone completely mad!

When Julie got home I asked if he had ever been around other dogs. She explained that she used to take him to a local dog park once in a while so he’s fairly well socialized.

The only problem is that he is obviously a pit mix so he’s not allowed to go anymore.

The poor guy has a solid black, sleek lab body and a big chunky pit bull head. No denying his DNA.

As I rub his head and snuggle with him, I wonder how anyone could not fall in love with this guy.

He’s well behaved and affectionate. Lovable and obedient. And down right fun to be around.

Don’t get me wrong… I’ve seen him charge that front door as if Satan himself were coming through it when he thought his space was being invaded. But, that’s ok. I know that if I’m not around, he’ll make sure Julie is well protected.

It’s been a long time since I was involved with another dog person. My ex had a puppy but her idea of a dog was more as an accessory piece than an actual companion.

Me? I have my dog because I believe that I’m good for him and he’s good for me. We take care of each other. He provides me with the responsibility I need to get me up and moving somedays and I provide him with unconditional love. We enjoy each other’s company. We have a bond. In fact, it’s as if we know exactly what the other is thinking at times simply because we’ve been together so long.

So yes. I proudly proclaim my status as a dog person! I’m responsible and attentive to their needs and in turn they are responsive and attentive to mine.

And now, I have another dog that I can love on all I want!!

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Here’s to next year

Well, I got the email telling me that I didn’t make the cut to go to Central America to work with Bridges to Prosperity.

I’m disappointed but also a little relieved. By pushing off the mini mester to go on vacation with Julie, this trip would have cut into my first session of the summer.

Another good point. My boss was chosen! I guess if I’m going to be beaten out by someone it’s better that it’s someone I like and respect.

Here’s to next year!

Vacation!

Time is fast approaching for our trip to San Francisco.

We’ve booked our flights, checked with J Will several times to make sure we are still welcome and we have been inundated with suggestions from friends and family.

“Go to Sonoma!” “Make sure you drive up the coast and take time to see Oregon” “Fisherman’s warf!!”

While we are so very appreciative of the suggestions, and I’m sure the chocolate that my boss keeps urging me to buy is amazing, we have decided to do a “play it by ear” vacation.

I’m certain we will take in certain sites. Why go to another city without checking out some of the wonders? Right?

J Will lives right on the marina. Within walking distance are a ton of restaurants, coffee shops, store fronts, etc. Part of me (a big part) is looking forward to simply waking up in the mornings, getting dressed, and walking to get coffee and breakfast while taking in the air.

Being lazy. Not thinking about work or school. Not thinking two steps ahead in an effort to plan for my relocation to the Midwest. Not stressing about anything at all!

I’m excited. I’m eager to spend time with the love of my life just exploring a new world together. And I’m hopeful, that I can feel this same sense of anticipation with her for many years to come!

It’s time to say goodbye

Over the course of the past several months I’ve noticed a change in how I perceive certain people in my life.

I have friends that have been a part of my world for years. They have helped me through rough patches and hard times. They’ve picked me up and brushed me off when life knocked me down. For those efforts, I will be eternally grateful.

But some of them have changed. I say that, but the truth is that maybe it’s me that has changed. Or maybe the way I see them has changed. Whatever the case, I came to the decision that I need to distance myself from these people.

A is one if them. In the past, I was relieved to have someone who was strong willed and expressive in my life. She is the type of person that would tell you exactly what she thought, no apologies. I liked that.

Now? Not so much. I don’t know if she’s gotten so abrasive that it’s too much for me to take or if I’ve started to see and hear what she says with a more realistic attitude.

A perfect example.. I posted a completely random thought on my Facebook page the other night. Several friends commented and then she chimed in with her .02. It was crude and abrasive. At first I tried to ignore it.

A mutual friend of ours made a remark to her and that’s when all hell broke loose. A started telling me I need to delete this person from my life, that they are crazy and I don’t need that negativity.

At first I tried to diffuse the situation with humor. “I’ll get right on that, A, just because you said so. Lol”

Then she turned her venom on me. Commenting that my sarcasm was annoying, etc.

It finally ended with me just deleting the post and telling her that I welcome all opinions and views. That for me to cut someone out of my life just because they don’t have the same beliefs I do is just as hypocritical as when people view me as beneath them for the same reason.

The debate was over, our friendship was still intact, albeit a little shaky.

Then I posted a comment about my dog yesterday. MY DOG! Nothing dramatic, nothing exciting. A simple statement of “you might be a dog owner if your first 10 minutes of waking up involve walking your pooch rather than brewing coffee”

That led to an all new shit storm. “Your dog is going to see himself as the alpha in the house if you keep doing that shit. Better nip it in the bud now!”

Again, I simply stated that it was meant as a little light humor and left it at that.

Today, I noticed that she and her girlfriend have left several negative comments about how I wasn’t available to help them paint their new house. I was even called “Lame” when I apologized but explained that I was out of town.

Again, I’m not sure if this attitude has been the norm but since it’s never been directed at me I just ignored it, or if there’s something in the air.

Then there’s my friend K. I have always stood up for her. She’s abrasive and crude. Vulgar and blunt. But, she’s always been there for me so I let it slide.

I posted a pic to my Facebook page (maybe it’s Facebook I need to get rid of?? Lol) and she commented that I look like shit and need to drop about another 10lbs. Are you fucking kidding me?!?!

Even J Mac commented that she was rude and inappropriate. K? Well, she claimed she was “just keeping it real”

I’ve been a little on edge about K ever since the Easter bash at her house. She has never been a big supporter of my long distance relationship but that weekend she took things too far. So far, in fact, I told her partner I wouldn’t be back for any visits without Julie.

As we are all sitting around chatting and laughing several women show up. They each arrived separately and seemed to be close friends of K’s.

At first I didn’t pay it any mind. Then after a few minutes K calls me into the kitchen. “So, what do you think of H? Or W?”

“Huh? What? I don’t know them.”

“They’re really great girls. Go get to know them. Talk to them.”

All I could say was, “ok? Why?”

She then begins to tell me that she invited them so I could “hook up” with someone.

WHAT THE FUCK?!?!

I was livid. I explained that I have a partner and for her to disrespect my relationship was completely inappropriate.. Even if she was drunk!

The next day, she acted like nothing happened.

Again, she’s always been blunt and bold, but this time she’s gone too far.

Now, dismissing someone from my life is not something I take lightly. I have to feel confident that their absence is going to be better for me emotionally than their presence.

I’ve talked this through with Julie, J Mac and J Will. They each bring up a very good point. Keeping someone around because of the support they’ve shown is noble. But how long has it been and how often and readily is that support available?

When I was going through my break up I didn’t discuss any of it with K. I knew she’d have an “I told you so” attitude.

When I started dating again after my breakup I didn’t discuss that with A. I knew there would be unwelcome comments and judgement.

So the reality is that I need to distance myself from these people. Put some space between me and them.

If I can’t talk to them openly and honestly about events in my life, without fear of rejection or judgement, they aren’t really friends. At least not in the sense I’m used to.

So, as I sit drinking my coffee, I’m deleting posts and comments that are toxic and crude. I’m putting a buffer between myself and them. And I’m feeling ok about it all!!

I’m not immortal

At some point each one if us comes face to face with our own mortality.

Before you get all, “shit, this is gonna be a Debbie Downer post!” just hear me out.

I got a call Friday night from J Mac. She was in a mood. She is typically so vibrant and cheery that when she hits a funk, she really feels it.

She is now 38. Has never been married, hasn’t got kids and doesn’t want any, and to a certain extent, still lives life like a 21 year old college kid. She’d give you the shirt off her back, though, and she’s one of the most important people in my life. I’d be lost without her.

She is planning to go back to New York this summer to attend her cousins wedding. She was hoping I’d go as her “date” but I’ll be in the middle of the summer’s second session so she’s going with our mutual friend, Cole.

As she was talking to friends about the trip, she was told that a childhood friend of hers had passed away. “Fuck, Lee! That’s 4 friends in 2 years! What the fuck is going on??”

I sat there for a moment trying to find the words that she needed to hear but the reality is that I too have wondered that same thing, lately.

It started when Colton passed away. Then a few weeks after that a former classmate died from complications from diabetes. Then another passed from cervical cancer. All under the age of 45.

“I don’t know, Jessi. We’re too young to be burying our friends, aren’t we!” Was all I could say.

I remember my mother talking about her childhood friends passing from time to time. “Annie had cancer, ya know?” Or “Ronald had a massive heart attack and didn’t make it!” These people were old, though! At least to me they were.

As I look back, some of them really weren’t. Her friend and our neighbor, Rosemary died from cancer. She was about 50 at the time. A member of our church passed away after trying to fight off a viral infection for months. He was only 42. Then there was my brother: leukemia at 41.

I guess it was all relevant at the time. I was a child. Sometimes literally and others figuratively but compared to now, I was no more than a newborn.

After 3 hours on the phone with her, it made me think long and hard. I’m not invincible. I have an expiration date stamped on me somewhere that no one can see. I too, will be one of the whispers that my friends discuss while shaking their head.

But, here’s the weird thing about that…. I’m ok knowing this. I’m at peace with the idea that I too could be gone from this place sooner rather than later.

No, I’m not suicidal. Geesh!!

Neither am I depressed, morbidly fascinated with death or naive that I’ll be one that lives to the ripe old age of 120.

I’ve seen pain and suffering from those I’ve loved and seen how death actually released them from that. I’m educated enough to know that cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease and Alzheimer’s run in my family and I will more than likely be afflicted with at least one.

I’m at peace because I look at my life and wonder, “what was my job while I was here?”

I have two beautiful daughters and an amazing grandson. I’ve loved and been loved in return. I’ve seen progress, even though small, with regards to how people of color and gays are treated. I’ve lived through two wars that some debate as to whether or not we should have been in them.

I’ve made mistakes but none I couldn’t recover from. I’ve hurt those I care about but always tried to mend the damage.

I’ve created amazing structures that my grandson can proudly drive past one day and say, “my Nonni built that!”

I’ve touched lives and allowed mine to be touched. I’ve felt pain and fear, hate and anger, love and loss.

In short…. I’ve done it all.

So no, I don’t fear the day I’m forced to leave this world. I’ll do everything in my power to postpone it, but I hope I can exit with dignity and courage.

In the meantime, I’ll love Julie and push forward with my plans to continue to work to be the person I am destined to be and the person she needs me to be. I’ll love and support my children and grandson and occasionally give them the kick in the ass we all need from time to time.

I wish I had been more comforting to J Mac. I wish I’d have been able to find the words she needed to hear. Hopefully, she found at least some of the same peace from our conversation that I did.

That tug between school and love

So the end of the semester is fast approaching. Luckily, two of my classes are online and my algebra class is only once a week so I’m able to be here with Julie.

Initially, I had plans to enroll in a class for the three weeks between this semester and the first session of the summer. After much consideration, however, I think I’m going to take that three weeks and enjoy a partial break.

Work, school, Julie, life in general has all taken a toll on me. Physically and emotionally. Because of that, I need and want a break.

Being here has been great. Granted the circumstances for my visit were less than ideal but hey! When life gives you lemons, right?!

Sitting down and looking at our respective calendars we’ve decided that we want more than just a few days, sneaking off to steal a day or two together. We both want a vacation.

One that is long overdue for both of us.

A trip away to rest, relax and just forget any cares we may have.

I called my boss yesterday, and he agrees that I need a break. I wasn’t aware of it, but apparently, I’m the only person who hasn’t burnt up most of my PTO. I volunteer for nights, weekends and holidays, all in an effort to stay busy. Because of that, he has agreed to let me do a “comp” time deal.

For those who don’t know what this means… Anytime you work more than 40 hours in a week (or 80 in two depending on your companies policy) you are required by law to receive 1 1/2 times your regular compensation.

A lot of government agencies have found a way around actually paying you and some private companies are following suit. For every hour over 40, you are granted 1 1/2 hour of PTO to take at a later day.

When I worked for the State, I was on salary and comp time was the norm. In fact, when I resigned, I was able to continue getting a check for over a month after my last day because I had accumulated so much comp time. I’m used to this idea.

Quite frankly, I’d prefer to have time off with pay over a few extra bucks on my check, anyways. (I was surprised this last paycheck to discover I was given a substantial raise, so I’m financially comfortable with this idea)

So, when I get back, I’m going to start accumulating comp time.

What does this mean for me?

Well, if chosen, I can go to Central America. I can also stay here for a few days longer than I’d planned. AND (here’s the good one!) Julie and I can take a real, honest to goodness vacation.

We’ve decided on San Francisco. I’ve never been and she’s only been once. J Will lives there and has graciously offered us the use of her condo and car for our stay because she will be out of the country doing her own decompressing!

Our flights are booked! Our plans are made. Our vacation time is on the books!

Here’s to me getting to see some of the most amazing bridge structures in the U.S., to Julie getting to go back to Fisherman’s Wharf and to us drinking wine until our heads spin! And doing it together!!

Anyone have suggestions for our trip?? I’m all ears!!

Who woulda thought?

I forgot what it was like to go shopping with a woman.

My ex didn’t really care for shopping and it’s never been something I’m all that jazzed up about. I tend to go specifically when I need something.

Well, that was the reason for our trip this evening.

The last time I was here it was still fairly cool. Looking at the weather, I assumed that jeans would be just fine for this trip, but I was wrong!

Today has been rainy, so I’ve kept busy at Julie’s. Painting, installing cabinets, rehanging doors, etc. at some point around 2, I realized I was burning up! After taking a quick glance at the thermostat I noticed it was 76 degrees in the house.

This was not what I was expecting. I pulled up the weather and it had reached 75 here. By Sunday it’s supposed to be 80. My wardrobe needed to be addressed!!

I sent Julie a quick text asking if she wanted me to wait until she got home to go or if I should go shopping alone.

Well, you’d have thought I told her we’d won the lottery! “YES! I want to go!! Don’t you date go shopping for clothes without me!”

Now this had me a little worried. Was she afraid I’d need her guidance in picking out a suitable style of clothing or does she just love to shop?

Apparently, it’s the latter.

She gets home and quickly strips out of her work clothes and into shorts and a long sleeve t. I’m in the only pair of shorts that I brought which happen to be a size too big.

Off we go. J C Penney. It’s my go to for quick, affordable clothes that are of a decent quality and we didn’t have to drive to a larger city just for shorts.

As soon as we walk through the doors, she’s like a bear on red meat!! I am soon forgotten and her attention is focused on a rack of tank tops in about 700 different colors!! (Who needs any color besides black or white?)

I can clearly see that I’m now a ghost, so I venture off to the men’s department to tend to my own needs.

20 minutes later, with two pairs of shorts in tow I find her. In the fitting room….

She starts handing me this blouse asking me to see if they have it in pink… Tossing me that pair of shorts to exchange for a different size. Occasionally coming out to ask my opinion on an outfit. I swear at one point I thought it looked like a sweat shop exploded in that back room!!

In between fits of “ugh I really don’t like the way this is cut” and “here! Hold this one. I LOVE this one” I caught up on a little tv.

One thing J C Penney has learned… Keep the spouses and kids entertained while the shopping horror unfolds!!

Finally, 3 outfits, 1 swim suit and a few miscellaneous blouses thrown in, we were done. But wait!! We haven’t been to the shoe section yet!!!

Again, I follow behind. Like a whipped dog trailing it’s owner hoping for a pat on the head. I have my meager selection of shorts and all the items that she has conquered.

Now, this shouldn’t surprise me. Julie has a closet full of shoes. Tennis, flip flops, water, boots, heals, flats… Things I can’t even begin to describe. So the notion she would want to shop for shoes shouldn’t have surprised me.

As I sit on the couches, playing on Facebook, chatting with J Will, Julie occasionally comes over to ask what I think. One shoe on, one shoe off. It was like watching a wounded soldier hobbling off the battle field.

She was like watching a heroin addict at a methadone clinic!! She was ecstatic. It was frightening and lovable all at the same time.

Finally, we make our way to the register. As the cashier is to tallying up our “score” Julie looks at my shorts and says, “that all you need?” with a tone of disbelief. “Yep. Two pairs of shorts. Was only going to get one but thought I’d live dangerously!”

My sarcasm wasn’t lost on either her or the cashier. The three of us shared a brief chuckle and then Julie and I headed to dinner.

When we were younger, shopping trips were based on budget and necessity Now, we can afford to splurge when the notion strikes. Because of that, I never knew that Julie was a shopping junkie.

I have to laugh when I think about it. Little things that I’d never have considered before I’m seeing for the first time. And I enjoy that.

My old Julie is still here. Same beautiful eyes and gracious smile. But, the changes that I see make this new, all over again.

I guess if I’m here long enough this trip, I might even discover if she’s one of those “mani-pedi” girls too!