Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Day With a "Novice" Human

Today, my husband's daughter asked us to watch her child while she and her boyfriend went to a baseball game. It didn't seem like a bad idea. Haydin is darn cute. How much work could it be? “Sure” I gamely responded. Here are my thoughts since then.

I swear I chose right in not having kids.

If I'd have had them, they never would have lived. Four year olds are like puppies with thumbs and cleverer thoughts. They don't chew up feather pillows, but they do: spread kitty kibble all around your porch and swear it was the cat's tail that did it, notice a basket of vegetables you recently brought in from the garden and decide much joy can be had by squishing one of the tomatoes over all the other vegetables, decide it is great fun to pretend to be a dog and proceed to bite grandpa in the calf over and over, and take my collection of peacock feathers and proceed to either give them to Maya the puppy or dip them in water and sprinkle it across my school books. At one point she demanded we play hide and seek. She hid behind my chair. I said, "um, there you are." I did it wrong apparently.

"NO! You have to only look one way like crabby crab (from some cartoon I don't know about) and say 'Where is Haydin'. "

I said "but I can see you right there!"

“NNNNNOOOOOOOOO! You have to look one way and say where is Haydin!"

I obediently stared at the door and said “where is Haydin?”

There was no answer. I looked at the fish tank “Where is Haydin?” I tried again. I look down at her crouching behind my chair. “This is silly, I see you right there”

“NOOOOOO.... you have to pretend you don't see me”

And so I pretended to not see her. This gave her much pleasure. I remained completely confused.

Thankfully, or not, she discovered the bell on my side table and proceeded to ring it about the house endlessly. Earlier she had discovered the flashlight, which obviously brought her great joy, especially when she could shine it directly into my eyes.

It was a long day. It was a lovely day. It was a very unusual day for me. I spent it learning from a four year old. 

Thank you Haydin. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Game of Thrones Gone to the Dogs

I think the only reason dogs have survived as our pets is because they are cute. Forget loyalty, forget that “man's best friend” nonsense. When you walk into the living room and it looks like a flock of geese exploded because the puppy discovered the wonders of disemboweling a feather pillow, when you discover your once very nice set of leather furniture has been relieved of much of its leathery parts, when you go downstairs to the kitchen in the morning for a cup of coffee only to find three days worth of trash have been flung about the room in a joyous frenzy, it is then you realize that the dog is neither man nor woman's best friend, but quite the contrary. One would never put up with a roommate who behaves in this manner.  So, the obvious question is: why do we let them live with us not only rent free, but with food and medical and emotional needs all tended to as well. What does one do when one's “ward” behaves in such an unseemly (and oftentimes costly) way?

Well, this is what I do. I stare in disbelief, then shout “HEY! Did you do this?” to Maya the puppy. I have several degrees and can quote Shakespeare, but this is all that comes to my mind at the time.

Maya says nothing. She just looks at me wagging her tail. She has very pretty brown eyes I notice, but I'm not giving in. I need to assert my alpha dog position and make it clear how very bad she has been.

I try to get my point across again. “BAD DOG!!” I say most forcefully. I point at the trash, couch, feathers, (insert sin of choice), glaring into those soft beautiful brown eyes, then point at her.

Maya responds by dropping to the floor and showing me her stomach.

Dammit! I will not give in and rub her stomach. Not this time. This is an egregious act on her part. I ignore her her kowtowing and continue to glare my alpha laser beams into her eyes. As a more intelligent and superior species, surely I will get through to her.

Maya stays on her back and proceeds to wag her tail while upside down. Somehow, she also manages to wag her body in the process.

Here is where my thinking, clearly mastered by thousands of years of Darwinian dog adaptation, causes me to say the following to myself: “Damn dog, she's so cute, damn dog, that was an expensive couch! Look at this mess! God, she is so cute, look at those eyes. NO! Don't look at her eyes! She is very bad. Damn she's cute! What pretty brown eyes.

And so the belly gets rubbed.

Survival of the cutest. I swear. They've got us figured out.

Friday, May 18, 2012

No Surprises

Today my mom was raped and murdered. She called me on the phone at 3:30pm and told me she had just picked up a homeless man on the side of the road who was holding a sign that said “painting.” I was horrified. She lives in Florida, I in Maryland. Mom, living alone, at age 82, decided it would be a good idea to get the kitchen painted and so she picked him up and took him home. He was only going to charge her $40. She only called to ask if I remembered her hors d'oeuvres recipe. “I want to make some for him,” she told me. I confessed what I knew of it and spoke of my concern. She promised to call when he was gone. She didn't call. I was worried. I did call her....repeatedly. There was no answer. I called my brother. He called her neighbors; no one answered there either. We discussed when to call 911. She was raped and murdered.

Four hours later, she called me. She had dropped the dude off then went to the local YMCA to work out. She was neither raped nor murdered and is planning on picking him up again tomorrow to finish the job. Everything was fine. As for the man, I'm sure he is enjoying the hors d'oeuvres as I write this.

Why does my brain inflict this stress on me? Why must it torment me with horrendous imaginary potentialities non-stop? Granted, picking up the homeless dude wasn't a great idea, but still, why must I just jump to the worst possible conclusion? I don't know if it is imagination or worry, but I think through such scenarios almost daily and in great detail.

The other day, I am walking my dog down the road through the state park in which I live. A lovely day it is too. As we are walking, a car comes by. It slows down and stops next to me. In the front are two young men and in the back, a woman. One of the men asks me if I've seen a woman walking around. I say no. They thank me and drive away. Maybe it is because I'm in the country and can tell if the people are not from around here, or maybe I am just paranoid, but when I hear the car go down the road and then back up into a drive and turn around to come back again, I freak. I imagine they must be coming back to kidnap me or shoot me or......I don't know.....clearly something bad. I jump over a barbed wire fence, through the prickers (dragging my poor befuddled dog behind me), trip, land in the stream, and get back to my feet, staggering onto my own property. The people in the car must surely see me now, surely they see this idiocy, but they don't even slow down. The car disappears over the hill. Having successfully arrived in the “safe zone,” I make my way back to the house. Do I laugh at my silliness and resume enjoying the day? No, I continue to think about the whole scenario wherein the car of three comes back and enters our driveway and my husband and I have to once more get away. I actually plan out the escape route through the brush. Alas, this is how my brain seems to operate. It is beyond my control.

Over the years I have thoroughly planned out what my husband, I, and our animals will do in the event of: me failing out of grad school, a serial killer on the loose, a tornado, an earthquake, a Chinese invasion of our country, a new plague striking humanity, a nuclear attack on Washington DC, and an alien invasion from outer space. Some small minded people might call this excessive imagination or possibly foolishness on my part. What they fail to see is that very fine and most important line between paranoia and good planning.