Monday, September 27, 2010

Park It...

When I adopted/rescued my standard poodle, Rosie, she was so traumatized that she wouldn't leave her kennel/crate. I let her eat in there for a few weeks, then gradually moved her dish toward the kitchen, about a foot a week. For a few weeks, she ate in the middle of the living room floor, but eventually, she got her own corner of the kitchen and she was OK.

I should interject here for a minute to tell you that Rosie was named Gracie when I got her, but the kid decided she liked Rosie better. Rosie and Gracie end in the same sound and the transition was seamless.

So, back to my story.

It took MONTHS, I mean at least 3 WHOLE MONTHS, for her to let my father pet her. We deduced that she was afraid of tall men. Rosie was most definitely neglected, but rather quickly it became apparent that she was abused too. Rosie quivered and leaked droplets of urine all over the place whenever my father came into the room. Dad's over 6 feet tall and I guess her former owner, if you could call him that, was tall too. Once she calmed down enough, they went on their nightly jaunts around the block.

I had a trainer come to my house to help a bit. We taught Rosie to lie down, to wait, to "go get it," meaning her toys. If we said, "GrandmaGrandpa," she stopped in front of my parents' door. She's totally house-trained. But we couldn't get her to sit.

You'd put a treat near her face, to attempt her back into a sitting position, and she'd turn her head. You'd attempt it again and you could actually see the dark clouds swoop into her eyes and she get up and walk away to a quiet corner and lie down, staring at you in fear.

That was April of 2009.

In the meantime, we tried to get her to allow being touched by strangers. It took 16 months before she'd let a stranger on the street touch her. Before that, a neighbor would hold their hand out and she recoil in fear and hide behind me. Finally, she let someone touch her and I swear, I cried and I told the man what a break-through it was to have her let him scratch her chin. He didn't seem impressed because when he stopped scratching her ears to talk to me about it, she nudged him for some more scratches.

We still were trying new methods for sitting. Then, in about November of 2009, we changed the name of the command. We asked her to "park it." We'd tap her rump, hold a treat and still she wouldn't do it. You could almost see her brain figuring out what we wanted her to do and she'd rebel against it. The dark clouds would return. My otherwise happy, well-adjusted pet would quiver in fear again.

I knew we just needed to be patient with her and wait for the breakthrough.

Well, it happened yesterday, 10 months of asking her to "park it" later, she finally parked it! I tapped her rump and said the command while we were sitting outside and she did it! I only had to ask her once! She parked it! Finally! I wonder who many exclamation points I need to help get my point across!


She did it for me and then for the kid!

And honestly, Rosie looked so damned pleased with herself. She finally realized that we're not going to hurt her and we're not going to let anyone else hurt her either.

I've always said that having a dog love and trust you is one of life's most beautiful experiences. And now that fact is proven to me yet again. Rosie came into our lives when we needed a little hope, something else to focus on once the pain of the divorce was truly over. Rosie quickly became the kid's favorite playmate and my secret-keeper. Many nights, certainly more than I'm ready to admit to, Rosie's neck was wet with my tears of exhaustion and loneliness. Then she'd cuddle up next to my bed (or on the bathroom floor when it go too hot to lie on the carpet) and she'd send me the signal that it's OK to trust, that things always improve when it's least expected.

Isn't it amazing that I had to learn one of life's most valuable lessons from a dog?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

They're Coming Out Of The Woodwork...

My ex-boyfriends, that's what's coming out of the woodwork. I wish winning lottery tickets were coming out of the woodwork, but alas, I don't have that kind of luck.

About 3 weeks ago, I was in Dunkin Donuts, buying myself a Strawberry Coolatta (ahhh, icy liquid candy, that stuff is!!) and I had my sunglasses on. Thank heavens, because when I turned around away from the counter, I saw A, the first of my 2 boyfriends that I had when I was in college. This is not a person I want to see, so I pretended not to see A. Yeah, I know it was immature, but then again, I did have a Coolatta in my hand, so I couldn't necessarily be seen as mature.

A wasn't a bad guy, just not the one for me. He was 7 years older than I was, with a shady past. He served hard time, but I won't go into details about what. He was ready to get married. I know this because I heard him tell one of his friends, "Well, since she's an only child, her parents will pay for the wedding, so I guess that means I'll have to pay for the engagement party."


Not cool. I moved on. And never regretted it...not ever, not once.

Then: Last Thursday, I'm driving home from my mother's retirement party and as I happened to glance to the side, there he was, T, the 2nd of my college boyfriends. The one who showed me that men really can love women. The one I fell for waaaaaay before he fell for me. The one that when my mother found out we broke up, she was so freakin' angry. Honestly, the woman still hasn't forgiven me.

T was also a lot older than me, 6 years. He was getting serious and I was only 21. I didn't know what "getting serious" really meant. I broke T's heart...and broke my own in the process. Many years later, about 2 years ago in fact, I wondered what it would have been like being married to T instead of to the Ex. Very different. Difficult, sure, I'm a strong believer in the fact that all marriages are difficult. But I think I would have been happier. But, of course, I'll never know.

We talked for the length of a red light. He said he wasn't on Facebook so I told him to join so we could talk. It's been 5 days and so far, no T.

Wait, folks, it gets better.

Friday, I ran into P, the one person with whom I've had a relationship since my divorce. I was paying for a sandwich and he got in line behind me. I nearly passed out when I saw him. Not because I missed him or even because I got nostalgic. It was because in the 18 months since we broke up, P lost a tooth. One of the front teeth. I mean, seriously. I'm a little fanatical about oral hygiene, but since I've only recently gotten over my deep-seeded fear of the dentist, I can totally understand the fear. But, as a 30-something, one should not be losing teeth; one should be doing whatever it takes to keep the teeth you have healthy. And if you do have the misfortune to lose one, particularly one in the front, get the damn thing replaced.

He asked me out 4 times in 10 minutes and finally I just had to walk away from him. I'm usually not in the business of calling men pathetic, but P's behavior was just that. We broke up because he had a ridiculously twisted co-dependence with his ex-wife. I want someone in my life who has his priorities in the right places: Children first, then the rest of his family, then me, then, in a distant 20th or 30th place, the needs and wants of an ex-spouse. Since his ex came before me, I took a hike. P's been trying to fix that mistake for 18 months. I just can't. There's that saying...Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. I'm not going to be fooled by that fool twice.

Seeing these 3 men in such a small period of time makes me wonder if the universe is trying to send me a sign or a message. Honestly, my mind and emotions are so scrambled right now, I couldn't see a sign or read a message if it were handed to me in plain English. There is so much going on in my life right now; both good and bad.

There are soccer games, birthday parties, all-day visits to friends' houses, movies to watch, books to read, cuddles to share and a really cool dog to walk. I enjoy seeing my friends get what they want and I know they will rejoice when they see me get what I want. There's also lots of ugly and nasty stuff going on, but I'm choosing to find and focus on the joy.

These 3 men and all others will have to wait a bit longer to be acknowledged. A dear friend of mine is on a 90 day Man Diet. My Man Diet has been going on for almost 2 years now. I miss being touched, being held, the passion, the soaring heat, the comfort...but now is not the time for me. That's the only message I've gotten lately that's coming in loud and clear, so that's the one I've got to bank on.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

5 Things I Eat When I'm Alone

Since I started blogging way back when, I've come to 2 very important and not at all related conclusions.

One is that I like blog entries that are actually lists. I REALLY like lists. They make my world make sense. I like things in numbered order and honestly, when it's a to-do list, I get a high-inducing adrenaline rush from tearing the sheet of paper with the list, balling it up and doing a basketball-type slam dunk in the kitchen garbage.

The other thing I've learned is that I use other people's ideas. I guess I've run out of ideas, so I blatantly steal them from others.

This entry's idea came from Melissa Clark.

So, here it goes...5 Things I Eat When I'm Alone

1- Chicken Parm. When my daughter is at her father's for an overnight visit or having a sleepover at her friend's house, I go to Nino's and get a chicken parm plate, complete with a little wedge of Italian bread and a wax envelope with a plastic fork and knife, salt, pepper and a small packet of grated Parmesan cheese. That Parmesan is different from this Parm. Parm is short for parmigiana...which is translated from the Italian to mean "lovingly smothered in marinara sauce and with divinely melted mozzarella on top." Anyway, the kid rarely eats anything in sauce and I get 3 meals out of a dinner from Nino's but if she ever gets the urge to try "pizza chicken" again, there are always leftovers in the fridge.

2- BLT's from the bagel store around the corner from my house. There are 2 bagel stores near where I live; one is great for egg sammies and cold cuts, but the other is great for BLT's. The bagels from the latter are more like rolls with a hole in the middle, so sandwiches aren't so messy to eat. I always get my BLT's on a toasted everything bagel. I bring a book with me and sit in a stool by the window and eat. I usually only read about 3 pages when I decide that I can stare out the window and relax and eat my sandwich without any interruptions.

3- Margaritas in the bathtub. Yes, I'm fully aware that margaritas aren't food, per se, but I only have them at home if I'm alone. I take a book (noticing a trend here?), lounge in a warm/cool bath (it all depends on the weather) and sip my margarita and just chill out. I usually don't read much in the tub; I've always been afraid of dropping a beloved book into the water. Anyway, margaritas never taste better than when you're naked...ummm...well, as I recall, they taste great when you're naked with a lover...but that's material for another post altogether.

4- This potato thing I made up. I thinly slice up some potatoes (red bliss, Yukon, whatever's in the house) and some onion. I brown some garlic in a pan and then add the potatoes and onions and toss 'em all up. Then I add whatever seasonings I have and that I like. Salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, chili powder, basil, parsley...whatever's in the cabinet. Cover the pan and let the steam cook the potatoes. Once the potatoes are soft, leave the cover off and let everything get all crispy and let the flavors blend. This dish never comes out the same way twice, but it's always satisfying. Sometimes I make some eggs to have with them, sometimes I'll just have a salad with them...but man, them taters are goooo-oood!!!

5- Lucky Charms. I LOVE Lucky Charms cereal! The kid doesn't like the marshmallows (I know, I think I should have her tested too) so they're mine, ALL MINE!! I don't share them with anyone. No one in my inner circle likes them and even if they did, they couldn't find them because I hide the box in the back of the pantry. I try to make sure that I get at least one marshmallow in every bite or it hardly seems worth eating. The milk MUST be ice cold and I eat it really fast because I hate soggy cereal.

So, there you have it folks, me and all of my food-related eccentricities.

What are the secret foods you only eat when you're alone?