Stop that. Parsley works just fine.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
Stop that. Parsley works just fine.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
It's true. Ours hasn't been the easiest relationship. At first, the only reason I loved you was because you were The Hub's dog. I've always had dogs of my own. I've always raised my dogs from pups. I'm a dog lover but when we met, I already owned two of the world's best dee-ooh-gees, so I wasn't sure I had room in my heart (or my house) for you. But, since you belonged to The Hub, you were welcome. Sort of. Truth is, (and I've never told you this) the only reason I let you move in with him was because the only other option was bringing in his two cats. And that was never going to happen. So on moving day, Jen got the cats. And we got you.
Whew. Crisis averted. Or so I thought. Turns out, the joke was on me. You're more a cat than Sylvester. I guess since you were raised with cats you have a cat like attitude. You are sorta snooty like a cat. You get disgusted if anyone tried to pet you. You've always wanted to keep your distance and you hate the idea of snuggling up.
You even lay (a far away from us as possible) on a rug in a patch of sunbeam and lick your paws.
For a long time I simply tolerated you. But it was hard not to like you. Because although you weren't keen on us, you are kind of funny. Okay, neurotic.
You never cross the room without giving the end table a wide berth.
You always keep at least one eye on the registers in the house … I've never once seen a register attack you, but maybe that's just because you wisely never let them sneak up on you.
You sneeze more than any pet – any HUMAN – I've ever known. And always ALWAYS you sneeze immediately after I pet you. I swear you know how to do that on cue.
You hate fireworks and thunderstorms. Hate them. And there are many a night when I wake up to thunder and roll instinctively and immediately to the middle of the bed because although you want NOTHING to do with us in the sunny, clear weather, during storms you will try to perform the nifty trick of burying your nails deep into my thigh and pulling yourself up onto the bed.
The first day we brought you home I plopped you down behind the dog gate with the two other adult dogs who you would have to learn to live with. Enclosed in the kitchen, where my dogs always stayed when I was gone, you looked back up at me like I was insane. But The Hub and I had a truck to unpack and so we left you there and headed out the front door, opened the rear door of the truck and grabbed the first of many boxes to carry inside. When I turned, you met me on the porch. Looking like "What else you got, lady?"
I headed back to the kitchen to see a gate demolished and laying flat and my two pups standing completely still – still in the kitchen - gazing at me like "what the heck just happened?"
You weren't big, corgi-sized really, but you were mighty. There wasn't a single item I could put in front of that gate that you couldn't figure out how to move. Benches, trunks, plywood, dining room table … whatever I shoved up there, you moved. Until finally, I gave up. even I have my limits.
Before you, the dogs all slept together. After you, dogs all needed separate beds.
Before you, the dogs ate out of the same bowl. After you, all dogs had different bowls.
Before you, dogs stayed put behind gates. After you … well, you know very well the extent we had to go through just to keep you contained.
Before you, dogs stayed off the furniture. After you. Oy.
We were off to a rocky start. But we grew on each other.
I didn't realize how much you'd grown on me until the day – about 6 months after you moved in – when you ran away. I still don't know how you got out of the back yard and I still think you waited until the day I had removed your collar to wash it to try. Somehow, someway, you got out. When I came to the door to let you in, you were nowhere to be found. I began searching. I started on foot in the neighborhood. I eventually used the car. I called The Hub and he came home. We drove and called and whistled. It was a chilly night. I was worried. You didn't have your collar. You don't like people. How would you make it?
Hours later, we gave up for the night. It was too dark. We couldn't even see the end of our sidewalk. I stood at the front door gazing out for what seemed an eternity until The Hub called me away. I felt awful. Awful for you. Awful for The Hub – whose dog you rightfully were. Awful for The Kid who we'd have to tell. And, as I walked to where The Hub stood, I realized, I felt awfulist for me.
And that's when the waterworks started. I thought you were gone for good and suddenly I realized there was an Orange Dog-shaped hole in my life. And that hole was big and gaping and it hurt. Stupid dog. Wormed your way into my heart and now you were gone.
And just when I thought all hope was lost, I looked outside to see you walking up the front walk like nothing was wrong.
You left. But you came back.
Maybe you decided to give our family another chance. Maybe you realized home is pretty okay after all. Maybe you never really had any intention of running away. But secretly, I like to believe you came back because as you settled down for the night in some neighbor's back yard or behind some dumpster, you became aware of a jenne-sized hole in your life. And you came back to fill it.
Since then, we've done just fine. Since then, you've greeted me at the door – not always – but sometimes. Since then, you occasionally let me pet your furry orange head. Since then you've only run away 6 other times … but I just chalk that up to your spirit of adventure, not a desire to leave me.
I like to tease you. It's true. I like to come up behind you and give you a "pffft" and a gentle poke in the sides. And you like to take off when I do, spin around and drop your head down and keep your butt up. I like to step lightly on your front paws and watch you try to jump on my feet. I like to call you Grandma and GiGi and Gingy. And, I'm not sure, but I think I was the first to notice a while back when you'd lost a bit of pep. And I was there the first time you tired to get up and found your back legs weren't listening to you. And I've watched carefully these few months as you've walked slower, struggled more with steps, had more accidents inside, slept deeper and deeper.
I hurt when you struggle to get up.
I can't stand it when you shake.
I worry about you when I'm gone.
I watch you carefully when I'm working to make sure you don't need me.
I get sick to my tummy when I see you limp slowly across the room.
So I had no choice but to be an adult and to make that call today. Because although I allowed you to move in, allowed you to change the routine, allowed you to rewrite all my dog rules, the one thing I will not allow is for you to suffer or hurt or wonder why things are so different for you now.
You were a rotten puppy. You were a rotten dog. And I'll miss you every day.
Goodbye Orange Dog
Thank you for being a part of our lives
Thank you for teaching me about what it means to be a grown-up
Thank you for sleeping beside my side of the bed these last few months
Thank you for the times you didn't bite me when I stepped on you in the middle of the night
Thank you for not breaking the skin when you did
Thank for being you – cat, dog, friend.
I hope you somehow make it to the cat side of heaven. I think you'll love it there.
Love love and love,
Anne Lamott is one of my favorite authors. She's funny, she's touching, she's smart and occasionally uses the f-word. Which makes her all kinds of awesome in my book. And in her books too.
Once I heard her mention her dislike of the term "writer's block" – as it implies there is something inside but it can't get out. Like constipation. That if you could just simply dislodge the block, the words, the word-pictures, the artistry on paper would flow. In reality she says the problem is not blockage … it's emptiness. It's not that the stories are trapped, it's that they are vacant. The places in your head that house prose and form delicious thoughts aren't locked down, they are dusty and abandoned. Her cure? Do something – anything – to get filled back up.
For the past few months I've been guilty of the busys … running around (sometimes quite literally – thank you Ben), flitting, landing, moving on. I've had thoughts a-plently but no drive to post them. I've been at rehearsals and dinners and meetings. I've facilitated difficult discussions, encouraged difficult decisions, listened to difficult thoughts. I've been a sounding board, a megaphone, a warm body. I've negotiated contracts, created websites, storyboarded plans for new videos and books. I've attended funerals. Officiated a wedding. Eaten more than my fair share of birthday cakes. I, like the Energizer Bunny who occasionally shares my stage, have kept going … and going … and going.
All that activity should leave a person quite full.
And yet this blog has gotten dusty. When I logged on tonight to post, I swear there was a creaking noise when the page loaded. Bats flew out of my computer and cobwebs dangled from the corner of my page. I've been incredibly busy. I've had nothing to say.
Last weekend in Boston, nearly 2000 men and women – collectively "The Pink" - walked and worked all weekend to cure breast cancer. The Susan G Komen 3 Day for the Cure series kicked off for the 7th year. I've been the national spokesperson for 3 of the past 6 seasons. This is my 4th year. I'm not known for doing the same thing over and over again. When I've worked for other people, I've rarely stayed in a single position longer than a couple of years. I have no interest in doing the same races over and over again. If I travel somewhere and have an amazing time – it only makes me want to go somewhere else next year … because it could be even MORE amazing. So the fact that I'm the spokesperson for another year – a FOURTH year – should tell you something.
Because this is my 4th year, I carry a bit of institutional knowledge. I understand how this event goes. I understand the mindset of The Pink. I know their behaviors. Things that used to surprise or effect me, don't so much anymore. Pink hair and angel wings are the norm. team names like Cup Crusaders and Nancy's Nipples are a dime a dozen. Like anything, after a while, extraordinary becomes ordinary. And that's okay. Because if you knew The Pink you'd understand even the ordinary is something amazing.
Last Friday morning at Farm Pond in Framingham, Massachusetts, as I was gearing up to give the opening speech and having just made the final selections on my wardrobe and talking briefly with a media crew, I decided to venture back to the back of the corral where we hold walkers AWAY FROMT THE STAGE until 15 minutes prior to the start of the opening ceremony. It's a risky move heading back there … Back to The Pink. Because The Pink knows the score … walkers closest to the stage will be the first out on the route. And even though the 3 Day is not a race, there are benefits to being out first – not the least of which is getting to christen a blue lagoon (a.k.a a clean porta-potty) at Pit 1. Also, The Pink has trained for months and spent lots and LOTS of time checking, re-checking and re-checking their fundraising pages to make sure they've reached their fundraising goals. They have been planning, praying, hoping and looking forward to this day. They probably didn't sleep the night before. They most likely had a 3 am wake up call. They are anxious, happy, excited, worried, overjoyed, overwhelmed and in all likeliness overtired.
And, they can see me walking toward them for a good 30 yards. And they all have the same look on their face – like they are hungry lions and I'm made of ham. All they want me to do is open that gate, let them in, get this party started.
But that's not why I'm there. I may look like (and, okay act like) I'm in charge but the truth is, I have little power. And I know the limits of my reach and one of the things I cannot CANNOT CANNOT do is open the gates. If I do, Heather will kill me. So as I walk toward The Pink licking their chops I say loudly "I'M NOT COMING TO DO WHAT YOU THINK I'M COMING TO DO … DON'T GET ALL EXCITED!"
And since it is Boston, I get this back:
"Well then why ARE you here?"
Because Boston just has a way about them.
And so I tell The Pink, "I'm here to say hi! And see how you are!" Which is like telling a hungry lion you are there to castrate him - it's not what he had in mind and frankly he's not too keen on the idea. But The Pink gives me a break … mostly because they have no choice… and The Pink and I, we begin to talk.
I see faces I know. Faces from previous years, other cities, other events. I answer questions again and again, "Yes, we're on time." "Yes, camp is in the same place as last year." "Yes, my hair is blonder." The longer I talk to them, the more they begin to take shape. The Pink dissolves and I start to see individuals. Teams. One by one they come into focus.
Men with Heart. They're hard to miss. Every member of Men With Heart wears a yellow t-shirt. Each of them carries a massive backpack filled with medical and comfort items. Some items make sense - items like bandaids and antibiotic cream, Kleenexes and hand gel. Other items you wouldn't expect to find in a man's backpack. Items like face powder and combs and tampons. But you have to understand, they aren't carrying those items for themselves, they are carrying them for the women they walk alongside. The women they don't know but love anyway. The women they've come ready to serve.
And there's George. If you've ever walked or crewed a 3 Day event in Boston, then you know George. You may not know him as George, you probably know him as "Honey, I'm Home!" George walks alone and carries a big stick. Literally. A big walking stick. When George enters camp, or any Pit Stop he greets everyone with a loud and hardy "HONEY, I'M HOME!!!" George once had 2 daughters and a wife. One of his daughters died very young. His second daughter died in 2006 and last year, he lost his wife to cancer. George walks alone, because he is alone. But you wouldn't know it. George smiles. He cheers. He laughs and talks with others. He hugs me when I approach and tells me how good it is to see me.
I talk for a few minutes with a group of women I met on the plane on the way to the event. When I boarded that plane, I knew them right away – knew they HAD to be walkers. Because they were loud. And happy. And wound tighter than a snake … they were so R E A D Y on that plane. And if they were ready then – Wednesday – when flying in, you can just guess how out of their minds they were Friday morning. They were waving and hugging and nearly vibrating. They were excited. And that kind of excitement is contagious.
We took pictures. We made jokes. We laughed and hugged and The Pink counted down the moments to the start of the event.
Eventually, the corral is opened and The Pink soars in. From backstage I can see friends from Atlanta, DC, Philly and Twin Cities pouring into the corral excited and ready.
When ceremonies begins, Ronnie takes the stage. Ronnie is the executive director of the Massachusetts affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Ronnie is exactly right. She speaks to the crowd. She tells them of her diagnosis and of her re-diagnosis a few months ago. She tells them they are walking for her this weekend and for her children whom she had to look in the eyes and say "it's back." She pumps her fist in the air and says "Together, we WILL beat this disease!" And when she is finished, she walks off-stage. And she comes to me and I hug her very gently. Because she just had surgery. And she's very tired. And although her spirit is as strong as Atlas, the world she's holding on her shoulders has weakened her body. She stays for the remainder of opening ceremonies and cheers the walkers out. Then she turns to me and says "I'm going to go home and rest" and she tells me she loves me and will see me next year. And I tell her I love her. Because I do. In that moment especially, I love everything about her.
From onstage I look out and see a group of walkers in grey t-shirts. On the front are simply the words "Team Courage". These guys, they look like football players. Athletes. They are big and brawny. They are serious. During opening ceremonies, they are so reflective. I can see it. All over their faces. Those knitted brows and folded arms stay with me. They are so very intense. And I can't help but wonder – why are you here Team Courage? How did this disease affect you? Did it take your moms? Has it attacked your sisters? Are you walking to support a buddy, a friend? And I know, dressed in grey and black they are just as much of The Pink as the teams in pink boas and tutus.
I see sisters with arms linked and friends wiping tears from their friend's cheeks. I see Pink Angels and Wild Women and Team Ta Tas. I watch as survivors cheer for fellow survivors and men openly weep for their wives and daughters clutch their mother's hands. I see pictures on shirts with the telling span of dates July 27, 1964 – January 5, 2010. I see pain, and joy, and sorrow. I see memories flood a face and sons bite their lips so they won't sob and teeth set in determination to do something – anything. And across The Pink, I see hope. Hope for the future, for what's to come.
Among tears, I see optimism
Alongside sorrow I see joy
Standing hand in hand with anger, I see faith
It's all right there. Present in The Pink.
For the past months I've been busy. I've been active. I've been meeting the demands of a hectic schedule. My calendar, my world and my head have been very full. But my words have been silent.
Friday morning I left Farm Pond in Framingham Massachusetts feeling as though I could write forever.
Thank you, Boston. I had no idea how empty I was.