Tag Archives: identity

Identity Crisis, but I still love your dog

I have a separate dog blog now, which you may have heard about once or twice, and I do want to talk about dogs right now, but not in the way I do there. I’m not going to talk about how awesome my own dog is or isn’t, or about the training we’re working on; if you’re interested in that, head over there.

What I want to talk about is my identity as a dog person.

I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it is, and what I mean when I say I am a dog person.  I am, for sure, a Dog Person.  I think I have a sixth sense about dogs; I will notice a dog two blocks away and be able to tell you the breed and probably predict the majority of its medical conditions, if applicable.  I can read most dogs’ moods pretty quickly.  I can talk about dogs quite extensively; I started the Flying Dingo so that I can stop talking the ears off of people who don’t especially care about dogs.

But the thing is, I am not a squealer.  I am not a Get Up In Your Dog’s Face and Be Happy That It’s Licking My Face.  Do you know where that tongue has been?  I am not a fan of dogs in costumes, or Cute Overload, or anything where we just sit around oooh-ing and aaaah-ing over the cuteness of these animals.

okay, yeah, so i do let her lick my face sometimes

On Monday I went to an open house for a Master’s program in Animals and Public Policy.  It’s not a professional degree; it’s not like how you go to dentist school and then you’re a dentist, or law school and then you’re a lawyer.  Kids, you don’t go to Animals and Public Policy school and become an Animals and Public Policy-ist.    But the program did sound really exciting, and got me thinking more about what I want to do.  Is it just behavior? I’m not sure that it’s just behavior.  I think it’s bigger parts than that: it’s how do we live with our dogs and our neighbors?  How do we live, happily, with healthy, well-exercised dogs in our society?

I don’t want to hug your dog.  Well, that might be a little bit of a lie: if your dog comes running over, tail wagging and ears happy, I might (read: will definitely) try to find your dog’s favorite scratching spot.  I will enjoy rubbing behind your dog’s ears.  I might talk in a voice reserved for these situations.  But also? I want to talk to you about your dog.  I want to know about what you think of training, about how you live your lives together, about how you ended up with this here dog and what it does for you.

other people's dogs: Macaroni

Um, somehow this can be something I do professionally? Someone please tell me yes.

I’m trying to find a place in blogland where I can be a Dog Person, without the costumes and with the interest.  And I’m also trying to figure out how to write my damn personal essay.

Dog owners, what are your thoughts?  Are you costume-dog people?  Are you dog-people at all, or are you the “I only love my dog and no one else’s” type?  Please discuss.

15 Comments

Filed under Menagerie

Bookstore Experience: The Angry Lesbian Edition

Okay, so here’s the other thing that totally sucked about our trip to the bookstore on Saturday night (reminder: the first thing that sucked is our whole world telling us we need the damn “perfect” wedding or else we’re Doing It Wrong and there’s no good publication out there to remind us that doing it right For Us means we’re Doing It Right. Anyway.): there was no lesbian fiction.

Okay, let’s back this up a little bit, because that statement needs, like, 500 qualifiers.  Or at least 2.

The thing is that I want some nice, light reading to read.  You know, the printed word and all that.  I want some fiction, even some, ahem, “chick lit” would be acceptable – but I want some lesbian characters.  The lesbian characters I was searching for didn’t have to do anything especially special:  I didn’t need them to have babies or have graphic sex or run around talking about being lesbians.  Unless those are the things lesbians do all the time, in which case, I think I’m Doing It Wrong.

lesbians Doing It Right?

Anyway, I got up in search of said light reading.  First stop: the new fiction table.  I read the back or inside cover of every book on that table, hoping for something as small as the main character’s sister dating a woman, or even a nonchalant “Sarah and her partner Debbie” mentioned in passing.  I don’t need a whole AND THEY’RE LESBIANS TOO storyline – I just want them to appear here or there or even be important characters.  And what did I find? Nothing.

So I headed up to the Lesbian & Gay section of the bookstore, and here’s what they have there: books on the legal papers you should write up because even if your marriage is legal in Massachusetts, if one of you dies, the other still gets nothing if you don’t have legal papers.  Uh, thanks for that relaxing reminder on my relaxing Saturday night, Barnes and Noble (Note to self: find a lawyer, write up the damn papers, wear my helmet while riding by bike. Stay safe, kids.).  Other books included: being straight children of gay parents, being straight parents of gay children, how to come out to your family, how to tell if you’re dating another woman or just spending time together as friends, a book called something like The Straight Girl’s Guide to Sleeping With Chicks (um, not a bad book if you’ve been dating men and just realized you’re gay, but also somewhat offensive. Just in case you were wondering.), and a whole lot of erotica.  Did I mention I just want some light fiction?

Where you go next, if you are me, is to that fancy little Nook area – they have these Kindle-esque things that are actually pretty cool, and you can search for books right on them.  So I search for “Lesbian + Fiction”, and I search for “lesbian fiction”, and I wish you could hear the frustration and near-rage in my voice when I say that besides the Sarah Waters book that came up, every single thing was erotica or porn, and one book about mother-son incest that apparently had some lesbian aspect to it.

Seriously?!

I am just looking to be able to see a reflection of myself somewhere.  Of course it doesn’t have to be me exactly, but something like me.  It’s like all those wedding magazines, showing the wedding you aren’t interested in having. It’s like, if you are a straight couple, finding only books about same sex couples.  Fine for a story or two or even twenty, but don’t you want just one that is a story about someone like you?

So here’s what I’m hoping for: that you will all chime in and tell me I was looking in the wrong places and here are eighteen million books that have same-sex couples in them and are not all about sex or even mostly about sex (and maybe because they’re not about sex they wouldn’t be called lesbian fiction?); or that you will chime in and agree that there is a need for something like this, and I will run off and write a novel.

It’s funny, I think, the things that make me feel marginalized.

Please chime in? Thanks.

42 Comments

Filed under gay

Coming out of the fog

Since finally being unemployed, a few things have cropped up, and mostly they are things in my head. I have referenced a couple of times that I’ve been dealing with major anxiety, which sort of snuck up on me and took over for no reason that made sense to my logical brain. The past couple of weeks have been a bit of a struggle; it’s been hard when it gets dark out, it’s been hard when the TV is on and when it’s off, it’s been hard when my wife kisses me or if she doesn’t kiss me.

Luckily, I have a kick-ass relationship with my awesome therapist, and she knows me well; she hooked me up with a doctor who could prescribe things that might make me feel better, and after exactly 18 days of nearly paralyzing anxiety, I am finally starting to feel clear-headed.

looking towards clearer, happier days

This is something that’s sort of tough to write about, but also really, really important to read about. I find strength every single day from reading Karen’s blog, Uncomfortably Honest and Honestly Uncomfortable: she is such a cool person and if she lived closer I would want to be friends with her, but also she deals with all this crap stuff all the time and talks about it in such a normal way.  Plus!  Heather Armstrong of Dooce routinely references the tough mental stuff she’s gone through – and all of this, I think reaches people who realize that it’s really okay to ask for help.

Again: It’s okay to ask for help.

So if posting has been a bit less entertaining than usual, it’s because real life has been a bit more challenging than usual.  But it really is getting better.  And along those lines, I want to thank Karen, for helping me realize that there is hope and that I am not the only person in the world who is dealing with this; I want to thank Ellen for sharing her experiences with anxiety, and how they’re over (i.e. There’s hope! There is an Other Side!); and I want to thank my wonderful wife.

Turtle and I have been married for four months today, and the last four months have been wonderful and challenging.  For the last 18 days, I have been needing her support more than maybe I ever have before, and you know what?  She’s there.  She’s checking in with me, checking on my meds, making sure I don’t get into bed with all my clothes still on.  She’s stretching her own limits and she is doing a damn good job.

best wife, on a better day

When we say “in sickness and in health” (which, actually, I am not sure we did say), I picture someone in a hospital bed, or vomiting over the toilet, or needing a ride to a doctor’s appointment.  I don’t picture the mental health aspect of it, but that’s it, too, you guys.  In sickness and in health is checking in, saying, “How are you feeling today?” and just asking about moods and emotions.  Funny, the things that we promise that we only learn the meaning of later.

And this, four months in.

So, to my readers: thanks for sticking it out, despite the foggy posts.  Knowing you’re out there makes it worth all the trying.

And to my wife, as I said yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that: Thank you, in all the ways.

8 Comments

Filed under Relationships

Yes, I am technically comparing myself to the dog

Back when I first got Daphne, I suddenly realized that I had no idea what I was doing.  Like, yes, I did know how to have a dog, essentially: you feed it, you walk it, you teach it to behave the way you want it to.  This is sort of like saying I know how to have a baby: you feed it, you change it, you try to figure out why it’s crying and how to make it stop.  I still don’t have a baby, so I have no idea how accurate that is, but I suspect it’s an understatement.

In order to figure out how to have a dog and that I wasn’t Doing It All Wrong, I started to read a ton of dog books.  My all time favorite is Jon Katz’s book Katz on Dogs.  Okay, it’s a corny title, but I love me some Jon Katz.  He has written a ton of books about dogs; the first one I read was The New Work of Dogs. Basically, this guy gets that dogs are really important, but also that they are not people, they are dogs.

Why am I writing about this on my real blog instead of my dog blog (um, haha, remember when I said I would stop plugging my dog blog soon?  I guess it’s not soon yet.)?  Because there’s one thing he wrote about that I keep thinking about.  I can’t find the exact quote, but he basically says that crate training your dog gives it a job to do.  The dog knows that while she’s in her crate, her job is to sleep or to chew the chew toy in her crate.  If you leave her home alone outside of her crate, she has no idea what her “job” is, and that’s when she gets destructive.  Maybe her job is taking apart your dining room table, one sliver of wood at a time; maybe it’s trying to find what components make up the soles of your favorite shoes.  The idea is that dogs aren’t destructive just because they like ruining your stuff, but because they don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing; they need the rules and structure (and quiet time) that a crate provides.

You guys, I need a crate.  I really, really need a crate. I’ve enjoyed this time of unemployment, but I’m finding myself suddenly feeling a little bit lost, a little drifty.  I need structure, rules.  Someone, tell me what to do?

I had my great How to Be Unemployed Tips last week, and I maintain that they are good ones.  But I’m also discovering that they are not enough for me.  How can I have Time Off if I don’t have some hardcore Time On?  So here’s my public declaration: starting Monday, I will Do Better.  If no one else is giving me structure, I will make some myself.  Remember, world (and self), the time you spend being unemployed is finite, and you will miss it when it’s gone.

What are your tips for keeping your sanity?  Does anyone want to plan my days for me?  Yes?

6 Comments

Filed under Home, other

In which I answer some questions

Apparently, I’m taking the Pet Blogger Challenge:

The Challenge, as I understand it, is a time for bloggers to reflect on their blogs, why and how they write them, and… share?

At first, I though this was silly, because I don’t really care about why other people write, I just want to read their entertaining, witty, educational, interesting work.  So obviously you don’t care either (because I generally assume that I’m writing for an audience of me).  But then I noticed a lot of really interesting answers popping up on the blogs I read, and while I’m not yet a “pet blogger” (I think), I did start thinking about what my answers would be.

1. When did you begin your blog?

I started last January. And just to double check, I looked at my first post – happy belated birthday, blog! I started writing here on January 8th of last year.

the first picture I posted on the blog

2. What was your original purpose for starting a blog?

Turtle and I had gotten engaged a few months before and I had been reading wedding blogs for awhile.  There was a lot that I was thinking about weddings and wedding culture and I really wanted somewhere to participate in the conversation.  At the time, I didn’t find a lot of writing that resonated with me; I couldn’t find anything written for the audience of me (planning a small, gay, non-WIC wedding), so I decided to be that writer.

3. Is your current purpose the same?

I am trying to remember that purpose when I feel like I’m in a slump.  Like, does anyone else really care what specific method I used to teach my dog to go into her crate?  Well, the answer is that I would care, so yes.  But I really don’t care about the sewing pattern you used for something – that just is not my thing.  Please don’t expect to see any sewing patterns shared here.

4. Do you blog on a schedule or as the spirit moves you?

I started blogging when I felt like it, which was anywhere from daily to weekly.  Since participating in NaBloPoMo and writing daily in November, I realized I do enjoy a regular schedule. I also enjoy reading blogs that I know post regularly, so I’m trying to follow their example.  Realistically?  I am not going to be able to post every day, but I think I can handle every weekday, so that’s what I’m aiming for.  Since starting Flying Dingo, this may change.

5. Are you generating income from your blog?

If so, how (e.g. sponsor ads, affiliate relationships, spokesperson opportunities)?   If not currently, do you hope to in the future — and how?

6. What do you like most about blogging in general and your blog in particular (bragging is good!)?

I love having somewhere to dump my thoughts, to be sassy if I want to, and to have such awesome support from readers!  It’s really created an important community for me here. I look forward the comments and the ensuing conversations.  I love finding out that someone whose blog I love is reading my blog.  I love when people I know in real life say hi and sort of mumble, “I stalk your blog.”  I know, it’s sort of awkward, but it makes my day.  You know me and you like my writing?! Super extra happy points.

7. What do you like least?

I have a hard time when I’m not inspired to write something, but I feel like I *should* write anyway.  I love knowing that posts on some of my favorite sites will be up by 7 am, and I want to provide the same thing; what is hard is when I’m not inspired until mid-morning.  Really, I know 3 hours doesn’t make a huge difference, but I feel bad about it.  Sorry.

8. How do you see your blog changing or growing in 2011?

I hope to find a little more direction this year.  Now that the wedding is over, I need something to focus on; it seems to be The Beast these days, but I’ve turned to Flying Dingo for that, and I hope to keep writing here about terribly entertaining things like how we keep the heat at 50 degrees during the day (yes, my fingers are freezing right now) and how I reffed my first roller derby scrimmage last night.  What, I didn’t mention I was considering joining the ref team?  I’m sure I’ll have more to say about that later.

this is me blogging, right now. and by blogging I mean defending my lap from Jake. Yes, it's 53 degrees in the house now, and the warmest spot around is on my lap where the computer is cozy.

Thanks, all of you, for reading and commenting and saying hello!  You’re the best. For serious.

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Filed under other

Reflections on a year I was grateful to see go

Well, hello, there!  I said I’d be back in the new year, and here I am.  I missed you!  But I also spent the last couple of weeks masquerading as a slightly insane petsitter.  Slightly insane only because I think sane petsitters occasionally say no to jobs so that they can occasionally care for their own pets; I, on the other hand, had up to 13 jobs in one day.  Thank you a billion times over to my beautiful wife for taking care of our own beasts!

I both love and hate year-in-reviews; sometimes I find it really boring to read about other people’s years, but really, if you find this boring? Skip it.  Because when it’s not boring it’s really interesting, so I’m banking on everyone loving my version of a year in review.  It’s a bit more of a reflection than review, but that’s what you get. Ready? Let’s go.

Our 2010 year started off with us screwing up a dinner party.  Seriously.  We thought we were being invited to just a “let’s all hang out, it’ll be fun!” party and we showed up 2 hours after it started.  Um, fashionably late for a regular old party, right? Yeah, well, as I mentioned – it was a dinner party.  Being 2 hours late is very, very bad.

I tell you this because, in retrospect, it seems like an appropriate beginning to the year that 2010 was.

In 2010, we had in our lives or in the lives of people we’re very close to a birth, a death, jobs lost, new jobs started, a separation, a wedding, we moved, we got a kitten, we lost our kitten, and we each turned another year older.  That last part is just how things work.  Other notable things: I started blogging, I started classes, I dropped classes, I got rejected by roller derby (twice!), our dog bit someone, I changed my life plan, we changed our last name, we merged our finances, and – yes, I already mentioned the wedding, but it feels worth mentioning again – we’re married now.

yes, I know you've seen this picture before... but it is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITES. So here it is again. Enjoy, because it's beautiful.

What I mean to say is that 2010 was a really big year, and I am really grateful that it’s over.  When the clock struck midnight and our little group of friends yelled “Happy New Year!” I felt this sudden and huge wave of relief.  Really, that’s sort of silly: who knows what 2011 brings?  Maybe more stressors, different stressors.  But I find a lot of hope in this: we made it through this last year, and we did a really good job.  The chances of all of these things happening in the same year again are probably not very high, but, regardless, I know we can handle it.

Being engaged and then married has been an enormous blessing throughout all of this.  When things get hard, I know that there’s someone by my side, someone on my team; even when we’re having a rough time in our relationship, we’re in it for the long haul.

So here’s to 2011, with hope that it is full of love and new beginnings and is only somewhat eventful.  Happy New Year, you guys.

6 Comments

Filed under Marriage/Wedding/Engagement, other, Relationships

My Pre-furred State of Being

I have spent my entire life wanting to be a veterinarian when I grow up.  I think there was a month or two when I was about thirteen or fourteen when I was really active in my church, and for those two months I considered that maybe I wanted to be a UU minister.  Well, when that month or two was over, I was back to wanting to be a vet.

 

again, me in my Preferred State of Being: covered in dogs

I started working at a local vet clinic when I was fifteen, and never really stopped after that.  In high school I went abroad for six months and obviously could not keep my job while I was on the other side of the world, but no worries!  I found a Clinica Veterinaria where I happily worked every Saturday morning.  When I returned to the states, it was back to work at the hospital, and after not working with animals for one measly semester in college, I never took a break again until my first real-life job.  I decided to take a break from veterinary medicine and try something a little more human oriented.  I thought maybe animals weren’t my thing anymore… after a year and a half of rape crisis work, I went back to the dogs (and cats and rats and bunnies and birds… you get the idea).

 

Me in Chile circa 2002. No, I didn't medically treat these llamas, but I may have tried to hug them.

The big thing that I didn’t do in all of this time was actually finish my classes to apply to vet school.  Every year I have said, “This year I’ll finally take X so that I can get my application in for next fall,” and every year something comes up: I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money, I refuse to skip my honeymoon so I can take the first Organic Chem exam.  Not the worst excuses, but finally I realized something.

I don’t think I want to be a vet.

That said, I do (of course!) still appreciate a face-in-cat situation. Even if the cat is slightly perturbed.

A couple of weeks ago, I was preparing to leave my job at the cat clinic and wondering what would come next.  I put together a list of the things I have loved about all of the veterinary medicine work I have done in the last almost-11 years (seriously, almost 11 years? Crazy!):

  1. Working with people and animals. One or the other doesn’t quite cut it for me.
  2. Troubleshooting with people about their animals, a la, How can we get your cat to take its pill? How can we help you transition a new pet into the house? How can we get your cat more active or your dog more engaged? etc)
  3. Working with the same people over time, and getting to know clients. I love recognizing people when they come in; I love that they know me by name and that I know them well enough to stop and say hello around town.

The thing I realized is that none of this is specific to medicine. So… here goes something else?  Monday was my first day of officially no longer having a full time job.  Of course, I still got up at 6:30, dropped my wife off at the bus, took the dog for a run through the woods, and then went to my volunteer position at a wildlife sanctuary.  As I pulled up to my driveway after all of that, I glanced up and there was a bald eagle flying over our house.

(this is not the actual eagle, but this is what it actually looked like)

I’m seeing hope around every corner.  Here I am, knowing that I’m on the edge of something big, and feeling like I’m waiting for it to materialize in front of me.  I have a petsitting business and a domain name – could I someday expand this to a training/behavior business?  Do I go back to school for something awesome?  Does someone reading this know exactly what all the signs point to?

6 Comments

Filed under Menagerie, Vet school