Tuesday, June 28, 2016

When Life Hands You Manure, Grow Flowers

Boy, are my pets in rotten moods lately.  As usual they tend to take it out on me, like it's my fault their lives are falling apart.  And of course their lives are totally falling apart.  It's constantly ninety degrees, they don't get free-fed anymore, I'm at work eight hours a day, I don't let the cats go outside, and for the love of God, why do I never let them kill spiders?

My animals always let me know in no uncertain terms that they are pissed.  Willow pees on the floor. She likes to mix it up too.  Sometimes she pees on the plastic litter pads outside of the boxes downstairs, and sometimes she pees on the plastic sheet under her cage upstairs. Puckett yaks up her food.  When she's really mad she poops in my shoe.  Percy also yaks on the floor, but when he's really mad he releases his anal sacs all over my foot and leg to remind me that one does not mess with something that can release an overpowering stench.

If I painted a white stripe down his back, Percy could totally double as a skunk.

To be fair, my pets are probably pissed at me because I haven't been home a lot.  If I'm not at work, I'm in recovery, on a date, or at the coffee shop, writing.  I can't write at home.  My pets get in the way and don't allow me to get anything done.

Meanwhile Willow has peed on the floor three times this week (to be fair, she has gotten better since she no longer pees on the carpet). Puckett barfed twice.  Percy barfed once and released his anal sacs twice, and Tess has this annoying habit of pooping in the exact place she runs through when she's chasing flies outside.  I've read that animals don't like to eat, play or drink water in spots where they eliminate.  Cats especially are finicky about this which is why the litter boxes are downstairs and their food bowls are in the kitchen.  The only exception to that is Willow's cage.  Her litter box and food bowl are both in her cage, and if she doesn't want to eat where she shits then she should start thinking about maybe not peeing on the floor.  Tess, however, has no such reservations.  Her favorite place to chase flies is in the corner of the backyard where my little crab apple tree grows.  It is also her favorite place to poop.  She races around that tree several times a day and every time she tromps through the piles of shit she leaves behind.  I clean them up almost every day in the summer, but my God, can that dog poop.  I don't get it.  She eats once a day.  I fill her bowl up whenever it's empty because she is not a hog and only eats when she's hungry.  Usually she only cleans the bowl once or she snacks lightly throughout the day until the bowl is empty.  I have no idea where all this crap is coming from.  For a dog who eats so little, she sure does poop a lot.

The cats, on the other hand, eat constantly and so they also poop constantly.  I clean litter boxes three times a day, sometimes four depending on how smelly Percy decides to be.  That's his other trick.  When he's annoyed or huffy with me he somehow manages to generate the stinkiest nastiest dump any animal is capable of and usually right in the middle of my lunch.

It's been a smelly week.

When I'm in a rotten mood I generate emotional shit.  Of course one thing that will put me in a rotten mood is having cleaned the house and litter boxes top to bottom only to have Willow pee on the floor, Puckett yak on it, and Percy release some kind of stink so that the entire house needs airing out.  This happened the other night.  I fed my animals as soon as I got home from work.  The house stunk to high heaven indicating that Percy had recently been to the box so I cleaned all the litter boxes.  Willow proceeded to pee on the floor once all the boxes were clean (really, Willow?) and then Percy promptly barfed up the entire contents of his dinner all over the steps and then on the carpet downstairs.  He then went to use the litter box again.

It was a double whammy.

I yelled.  Willow fled.  Percy released his anal sacs.  Then he gave me the snottiest, shittiest look I've ever seen on that cute little black face and marched off.

I had to bleach everything - the floor, the litter boxes, the steps.  I am here to tell you, nothing smells worse than a male cat's anal sacs.  And no male cat takes greater pleasure in grossing humans out with it than Precious Percy.

One probably wonders why I keep these little bodily fluid factories around, but honestly the good really does outweigh the bad.  My emotional shit is worse than anything physical these three furballs can generate out of whatever orifice.  They put up with a lot more shit from me than I put up with from them.  My animals pick up whatever mood I'm in, so if I'm feeling pissy, they get pissy.  When I'm anxious and I make them nervous, causing the dog to pace and the cats to race through the house or scratch their scratching posts incessantly.  When I'm in a little too good of a mood, the cats race through the house, bouncing off the walls, and Tess leaps and bounds around me, usually narrowly missing my face with a paw she's waving around.  She and Percy like to wrestle.  Puckett and Percy also like to wrestle.  When I start dancing in the kitchen, the dog dances with me and the cats bounce all over the place like little rubber balls of fur.  If I dance or do Pilates downstairs, the cats all join me in a bit of Downward Dog and Planking, though the cats' idea of Planking is stretching full length on their sides either beside me or underneath my "Plank." By the way, trying to hold any Plank position for ten counts while a tail runs back and forth under one's nose is almost impossible.

Honestly, my pets are neurotic because I'm neurotic, so therefore their physical shit is generated by my emotional shit.

It can all be construed as my fault.  I may yell, but I'm not going to punish them for that.  As usual I bring all my shit and theirs on myself.  Theirs just happens to be more tangible, smells terrible, and is overall disgusting.  There is no doubt, however, that emotional shit is more toxic than anything that comes out of a cat.  Negative self-talk, depression, anxiety attacks, the constant spinning of one's mind imagining all the things that can go wrong are enough to lower the quality of one's life a lot worse than a few piles of kitty poo.  I am not a glass half full kind of person.  I never was.  I was always a bit more pessimistic than optimistic, preferring to call myself a realist.  I like to prepare for the worst, that way I'm never disappointed.  I like to base decisions and outcomes on what is most likely to happen due to history rather than what the most positive outcome might be.  I never like to get my hopes up to high.  I've been too jaded.  The funny thing about negative thinking and always expecting the worst is that it puts one in a rotten mood, and as demonstrated by my cats, rotten moods only produce more shit.  Because it has finally sunk in that shit only begets more shit, I've changed my outlook and tried something new: positive thinking, gratitude, and self-care and most importantly positive self-talk, because honestly cutting myself down is no fun.  I would never speak to a dear friend the way I talk to myself sometimes, so why should I treat myself any differently?  As much shit as they produce, my cats don't shit all over themselves, so why am I shitting on myself?

And you know what? I think it's working.  Having a more positive outlook on life has improved my writing, improved my relationships with friends and family and coworkers, and improved my attitude at work. It's also possibly attracting a better class of men and weeding out the worthless ones who aren't for real.  Little by little, even with my bad days and my funks, I'm feeling better and less hopeless about stuff in general.  I smile more, I laugh more, and I'm finding nuggets of fun in my day to day life.

I really am a professional shit shoveler which qualifies me for recognizing my own shit and starting to shovel it.  It's a stall-full, I'm not going to lie, but shovelful by shovelful, it's getting dumped in the wheelbarrow and taken to the manure pile.

Now if I can just figure out how keep up with shoveling the physical shit of my pets.  They may eventually bury me with it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Patience is a Virtue

I'll be the first to admit that I have zero patience.  Patience is a virtue I seriously lack.

Interestingly my cats share this lack of virtue with me.  Cats are notorious for their patience.  No one can sit by a mouse hole, hour after hour without moving a muscle like a cat.  I've seen cats fixate on a hole for an entire afternoon waiting for some creature or other to crawl out unsuspectingly, and their patience always pays off.  They always end up with a snack or a toy or a little of both, the remains of which they leave on the doorstep as testimony of their excruciating patience.

My cats have no patience.  As soon as I open my eyes in the morning Percy is wailing for food, Puckett is sitting by the bed staring at me, and Tess is pacing around the bedroom, begging to be let out.  If I don't jump out of bed immediately, Percy jumps up on the bed, races across it, and jumps down the other side.  He'll do this over and over until I either get up or throw him across the room. Otherwise he will race through the house, thundering like a herd of elephants and ensuring that there is no way I'll go back to sleep.

When Precious wants his food, he wants it now.

This can happen at any given time of day.  As far as he is concerned, Percy always wants his food.  If I wander into the kitchen at midnight for a drink of water, he's sitting by the cabinet expecting me to get his bowl out even though all meals stop after nine.

This lack of patience also factors in when playing with bugs, spiders, and inanimate balls of tin foil.  My cats don't sit patiently, watching bugs come to them.  They pounce almost immediately, tear the poor things apart, and leave carcasses of legs and carapaces all over the carpet for me to find.  I try to save the spiders, but I'm usually too late.  By the time I get to them, a paw has already mashed their little eight-eyed faces into the ground.  

There is nothing sadder than a mangled spider body.

Flies are luckier only because they can fly.  My cats have no patience with that either.  They will sit and gawk as a fly buzzes around the room, but as soon as it lands somewhere they are on it like ticks on a hound dog.  Sometimes they don't even wait for it to land.  They throw themselves at the French doors in the bedroom, running their paws across the glass, and genuinely freaking out as the fly calmly buzzes away and traps itself in the light fixture. My cats never catch flies.  Occasionally they catch a moth or two.

If feels like I'm always waiting for something: to hear about the budget at work so I know what my next year of work will look like; a date I'm looking forward to; my bread dough to rise; the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Star Wars movie to come out; The BFG movie to come to the movie theater; my vacation; spring to get here so I can start my garden; the Christmas season so I can decorate my house with lights and tinsel.

I can be patient about some things.  Standing in line at the grocery store doesn't bother me.  Waiting my turn at the doctor's office doesn't bother me.  Hanging out while my car gets an oil change also doesn't bother me.  With these types of situations I have infinite amounts of patience as I bring a book and read.  I will wait all day for appointments.

Waiting on perpetual tardiness bothers me a bit more.  Everyone runs late.  However, when it becomes a habit that I am ALWAYS waiting fifteen or twenty minutes on someone who is supposed to be meeting me for dinner or a movie or whatever, then I do get irritated.  But I am also one of those people who doesn't mind dining alone or watching alone.  If someone is taking too long, I'll just go ahead and order without them.

And on that subject, I no longer wait by the phone for some man to call.  He's not calling, I'm off doing something else fun.  Why women wait on these calls that never come, or when they do are unsatisfactory, is beyond me.  If a woman wants to see a movie, she should go see it.  If she wants to have a glass of wine, she should have it.  If she wants to go skydiving and he promised her, but isn't delivering, then she should go sign herself up for that jump.  Men like women to rely on them as their heroes, but if they aren't delivering, then a woman has to be her own Prince Charming.  If a guy is going to make me wait, then he will immediately be replaced by someone else who is  more fun, better looking, and more inclined to deliver on their promises.  I'm talking about those men who make promises to call or do something together and then never do.  I'm not talking about men who have busy lives and may not be able to drop everything right then and there to take me to the opera but still have every intention of doing so when he can.  Kind, generous, and considerate men have lives and that's okay.  Jerks who make me wait with unfulfilled promises and half-assed pursuit are not worth the time it takes to delete their phone numbers from my phone.

I also have zero patience for drama, people who generate drama, and people who try to drag me into their drama.  And I definitely get very impatient with people who ask me over and over and over for advice on the same issue when I've already given them all I can on the subject.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  The definition of how to make Anita lose her patience the quickest is to ask me over and over the same question and expecting a different answer (albeit, the one you want to hear, rather than my honest opinion or advice).

I have the least amount of patience (or rather NO patience) waiting for my life to start.  Okay, granted my life has already started and I'm doing things in my life that I enjoy while working towards several goals, but really this process is taking too damn long and I'm getting sick of waiting.  I want my best seller and writing career NOW.  I do the work involved, but I still want it NOW. I want that novel done in a day, dammit.  I want my quilt to be finished NOW.  I'm tired of looking at that stupid half-finished knitted blanket.  I want it done NOW too.  And this dating process is really getting on my nerves.  I want the love of my life to walk up to my doorstep already so I can get off these stupid online dating sites and stop dealing with broken hearts from my bad decisions.  Again I do the work involved to get there.  I've been working on myself to attract a better class of men (and the emotionally constipated ones are getting dropped off the side of a cliff). I read my devotionals.  I'm in recovery.  I'm working on my mental health issues while being open enough about them so as not to appear to be hiding them.  I'm getting to know people and taking the time to date rather than jump headlong into a relationship with someone I barely know (because of chemistry). 

As per a wonderful little book called "You're Late Again, Lord! The Impatient Women's Guide to God's Timing" by Karon Phillips Goodman, I'm in the waiting room, working on my control issues and trying to come to terms with the idea that things happen on God's timetable not mine.  My long wait is a result of my avoidance of certain issues that are now bubbling over the surface and forcing me to address them.  Thus, the waiting room.  I'm not ready for the things I desire because I'm still working on myself, and a year and a half in working on myself already feels like a lifetime.  Take into account the many times I've backslid, and it could be another five years in the waiting room.  Backsliding is my own fault.  Every time I think I've got my sheep together and my poop in a group, I get cocky and start reverting to old bad habits.  The inevitable backsliding happens and BAM.  Back in the waiting room.  Every time I start to think "Hey, I can handle this! I'm taking the reins!" I stumble and run the wagon off the road, putting me right back into the waiting room.

Then I wonder why I'm frustrated and depressed.  Once again, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  For someone who hates waiting, I sure do everything I can to ensure that I will keep waiting.  Also, if I'm constantly waiting for something or looking ahead at something, I miss out on the present.  One of the lessons I'm learning in my waiting room is to live in the now and enjoy the present.  It's hard, but I have moments of brilliance.

I'm usually in such a rush that I miss things, and I realized the other day that maybe there is another way.  One of my suitors is most decidedly not in a rush.  Not that I have a crazy amount of men chasing after me, but on an online dating site, one always has several people one chats with.  This one is one of my favorites.  We have had three dates.  The first date was pretty awkward - a lot of getting to know you small talk and uncomfortable smiles.  The second date was a hike.  Still a bit awkward, but at least we got to walk (and the rattlesnake provided excitement and drama). We went out for dinner and drinks for the third date.  This guy moves slower than molasses on a winter morning and it's actually brilliant in its simplicity.  So many men are like a fart in a skillet, bouncing from woman to woman.  They start off coming on super strong, swept away by strong chemistry, and then things fizzle out just as quickly as they heated up and they are on to the next thing.  That's exciting when a woman is in her twenties.  After several situations like that, it becomes confusing, hurtful, and more than a little annoying.  How can someone be all about me for two weeks and then suddenly just disappear?  Are feelings really that shallow?  These men demand everything upfront, right away, and then there's nothing left to wait for and they get bored.  Lovely.  My suitor, however, takes his time.  He apparently has patience in spades.  There is that cliche, "Good things come to those who wait."  And wait and wait and WAIT...

In the words of Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "We have a lot of fun, but I want smoochies!" Okay, maybe it's not that bad.  I'm glad he's not trying to paw me in the backseat of his truck.  This guy is a slow burn.  Like I said, brilliant.

In a world where everyone is in a constant rush and instant gratification is a way of life, I can see how we all got to a place where slowing down and waiting is just an inconvenience (I blame Google, by the way - talk about your instant gratification).  I have also noticed that when I get what I want immediately when I want it, I'm not necessarily satisfied because I didn't hold out for the best.  My cats seem to be in the same boat.  They demand their food, gorge it, and then either yak it up all over the carpet or else want to eat again five minutes later.  The dog is bad too.  She begs for her treat,  gobbles it down, and then she's magically by my side again, sitting in front of the cabinet like she's forgotten that she just had a treat.  She's also pretty demanding about that treat.  If I haven't given it to her as quickly as she'd like, she's got her nose nudged up against my hand and her whole body pressed against my legs.  Too bad I can't do this with the universe: press myself up against its legs, stare at it with big eyeballs, and silently plead "Where's my best seller? Can I have it now? How about now?  Now??"

There is a method to the madness, I'm sure. There is a reason we get stuck in the waiting room for months, maybe even years.  While one waits, one learns valuable lessons, but I'll be the first to admit that waiting can be excruciating and there are days when I wonder what's the point and does my life really have a purpose other than going to work and Netflix?  That's when I try to take control and make things happen the way I want them to, so that I don't feel so useless or futile or like I'm letting my life march by without me.  It's an illusion, of course.  We never really have control over anything. We just think we do, or we wish we do because waiting is so hard.

Perhaps that's why most cats play with their prey for so long?  They enjoy the element of control since they get to decide how long the game plays out and who inevitably wins, like small furry gods. Meanwhile they cultivate their patience because these games can go on forever and they never seem to get bored of them.

Not my cats, though. My cats have no patience for patience, and the only thing they enjoy controlling is me. Meanwhile I have no control over anything, including my cats, and my time in the waiting room stretches longer and longer.

Good thing I have a stack of magazines and books to read while I wait.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Rattlesnakes on the Path of Life

Somewhere along the way, my life has gotten off course.

I've had better weeks.  This last one I ended with a huge bowl of chocolate, double dark chocolate, and chocolate peanut butter gelato topped with a huge pile of homemade whipped cream.

It didn't help.

I blame the rattlesnake I encountered Tuesday evening on a hike with my dog and one of my gentleman suitors.  If spiders are good luck and I welcome them scurrying across my life on a daily basis, rattlesnakes are the opposite.  I like spiders.  I despise snakes.  Snakes in general get a bad rap in literature, particularly in the Bible.  I've always considered them as a symbol of evil, duplicity, betrayal, or at the very least, "Proceed with Caution."

In my years of living in Wyoming I have never encountered a rattler.  Bull snakes, water snakes, and the cute little black thing that shared the backyard with Tess for a couple of summers are the only snakes I've seen since moving here.  All perfectly harmless, more scared of me than I was of them. On my hike last week, my suitor and I were strolling along having a conversation while Tess bounded this way and that, sniffing everything.  This head popped up out of the grass along the path and the air filled with the sound of a hissing rattle.  I've heard rattlers on TV, but I've never heard the real thing.  Someone told me that it's one of those sounds all humans instinctively recognize whether they've ever heard one or not.  I jumped to the other side of the path, swearing.  My companion moved between me and the snake, and Tess obliviously gamboled about several feet ahead, completely unconcerned that her human nearly stumbled into a deadly snake bite.  Truthfully I was more worried about Tess.  She's never seen a rattler either, and while she is very good about listening to me when I order her not to go near or touch something, she would be more inclined to blunder over a snake while sticking her nose in piles of grass than she would be to purposely challenge one.  The only exception here is if the snake attacked me.  Then I can't vouch for how Tess would react, and the last thing I want is for my dog to lose her life due to nasty bitch-snake bite.

I leashed my dog immediately.

The snake was quite pretty actually.  I thought rattlers are brown with a perpetual bitchy resting face, but this one was almost emerald green under its markings which is why we didn't see it until we were almost on top of it. Its appearance did nothing to soften its attitude, however.  It flicked its little forked tongue, weaved its head back and forth in striking imitation of the Real Housewives of Atlanta head wag, and rattled loud enough to warn off every creature in the mountains looming above us.

I'll take this moment to point out that on the way to the hiking path, a skunk ran across the street in front of my companion's truck, so I don't know if I want to blame the crappy week completely on the snake.

Things went downhill since the hike.  My car battery died.  My phone battery died.  My brakes died. I ended up pumping a good chunk of money into my car, and while that was a bummer, it was still better than having to buy a new car.  The ridiculous Cheyenne-esque wind destroyed my flowers, and it was 90 degrees all week causing high tempers, short fuses, and an overwhelming desire to drown oneself in a pool of ice water. The weather combined with my PMS did nothing to improve my mood all week long.  I broke my favorite mug featuring Snoopy as the Vulture by catching it with my elbow and knocking it out of the cabinet, a feat I never would have been able to accomplish in a normal week considering I stash that mug in a relatively safe place. I had three dates last week and several texts from other suitors, and while the attention is flattering, I'm pretty exhausted.  I'm not used to being the popular chick (and there are only so many evenings in a week). They are all lovely men, but I still don't know any of them very well, and seeing them once a week or every other week doesn't help with developing intimacy.

Or maybe it's as I feared, and I'm just one big dating disaster.

Perhaps this is just what "dating" is all about.  As a serial monogamist generally attracted to morons, I am not familiar with the concept of just "dating."

As long as I'm confessing my sins, I also subjected myself and the Paleontologist to the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie that I was sure was going to be a complete stinker.  It wasn't too bad actually, kind of reminiscent of the old cartoons I used to watch as a child,  Unfortunately that caused me to go on a nostalgic rampage of wishing I was still twelve when the only problem I had was whether or not I missed that cartoon on Saturday mornings because I overslept.  I definitely wasn't worrying about a full time job, how to pay all my bills, dating, was I going to die alone, or who was breaking my heart.  My small group recovery didn't do much to raise my spirits as it usually does, and I even felt like my daily devotional and my Bible were judging me based on this last weekend's readings.  In other words, even God is breaking my heart right now (but it's only fair since I break His continuously).

Worst of all, other than Tuesday night hiking with my dog, I have barely spent any time with my animals due to dates, work, and the heat rivaling the bowels of hell.  That heat makes them avoid me like it's my fault the weather is being so obnoxious.  Percy hides in the coolest place in the house, Willow banishes herself to the top of her cage so she can sit by the open window (and continues to protest by peeing on the floor), and Puckett doesn't want to get any hotter by snuggling or being around others with elevated body heat.  This is understandable considering her thick fur coat, her layer of fat, and the fact that she is a cat with a high normal body temperature.

Looking back the week really wasn't all that bad.  The crappiness was only magnified by the heat, the wind, and the PMS.  I tend to overdramatize.  The crappiness did, however, get my attention.  And also, researching snakes as symbols and spirit guides, I discovered that they actually symbolize healing, transformation and life changes, and an increase in energy.  Running across a snake in life can mean a major life transition and a period of personal growth.  I have to say, that is more spot on than the Bible reading I had this last weekend that prompted me to throw my Bible across the room in anger at feeling judged.  But then,maybe that reading wasn't completely off either. My life has gotten completely off course which I am definitely not comfortable with, but the appearance of that rattlesnake got my attention as well.  There are definitely transitions happening.  I am definitely going through personal growth from my recovery and moving through the steps. And while I don't have as much energy as I'd like (I blame that on the Snickers bars I've been eating for breakfast), I do know that tweaking my diet back to healthy eating and reinstating Pilates every morning will help with that. I don't always like what my devotionals (and my rattlers) are telling me, but I have faith that it's stuff I need to hear and work on.  I thought I was doing fine for awhile, and then I stumbled again and am back to struggling.  I am learning a lot about myself dating different guys and getting to know many people rather than fixating on one guy and obsessing (like the serial monogamist that I am).  Dating like this has also dragged me out of my comfort zone and forced me to socialize in a manner I'm not completely comfortable with.  It's helped with my confidence, and while I can get discouraged and jaded, I refuse to give up as I've done in the past.  Small group sharing in recovery is also out of my comfort zone.  I hate sharing my issues with strangers, but I have made new friends from this and now they are no longer strangers.

I don't know what I'm transforming into, what I'm transitioning to, but I do know the journey is terrifying and exciting at the same time.

Kind of like nearly stepping on a rattlesnake in the middle of a placid, pleasant hike.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

What Becomes of a Broken Heart?

When it comes to love, animals are infinitely easier than humans.  They are easier to love, they love more easily, and the only way they can break one's heart is to take that final walk over the Rainbow Bridge.

The first animal I lost devastated me.  She was also the first animal I completely connected with.  I love all animals, but some are just special and connect with our hearts differently.  It's the same with people, I think.  We can be kind to each other and tolerate each other - love thy neighbor, God says - but that doesn't mean one wants to be friends with everyone. In that same vein, I love all animals, but that doesn't mean I want to own all of them (and definitely not the wretched beast with the high-pitched yap barking outside my back door all morning).

I met Colleen when I was fourteen.  I had just started volunteering at the animal shelter.  I had always wanted a dog, though my parents forbid it which was their right, of course.  My dad wasn't a fan of big dogs and my mom didn't want the responsibility.  That would change a few years later when my first shepherd, Flag, came into our lives and my father cried harder when he died than any of the rest of us. 

But I digress.

I went to work one morning and found a tiny tri-color collie puppy in one of the kennels, all alone.  She looked at me, I looked at her, and I was immediately hit with that thunderbolt of love at first sight.  I've only felt that one other time, and not even with Puckett.  After I finished my chores I spent a good hour in the kennel with her, snuggling her and keeping her company.  My coworkers laughed and teased me about "spoiling the puppy."  Even my mom cooed over her when she came to pick me up.

For four weeks, I couldn't wait to get to the animal shelter every day so I could play with Colleen.  She imprinted on me and when I let her out of her kennel, she followed me everywhere.  She played with the other puppies, but she never let me get too far out of her sight.  When she was in her kennel she watched me go about my business, her eyes following me as I worked back and forth in the kennel area.  Logically, I  know this pup imprinted on me because she was four weeks old, barely weaned, and orphaned with no littermates, and I was the first person who offered attention, comfort, and love to her in a strange cold place.  Emotionally, I know that's a load of crap.  That puppy adored me and the feeling was mutual.  She was mine in every sense of the word but legally.  Even my mom and coworkers commented that Colleen never seemed to take her eyes off me.

My dad wouldn't let me adopt her and I cried for two days.  I don't blame my dad.  He's not as empathic or emotional as I am, and he doesn't attach as easily.  It is what it is, but once I knew that I couldn't take Colleen home I went about the business of trying to peddle her off to prospective adopters.  I wanted her out of that place as soon as possible.  I wanted her to have a good home even if it wasn't with me.  It was not to be, however.  By the time Colleen turned turned eight weeks old, she got very sick and my mother offered to take her to the vet and pay the vet bill to get her treated.  The prognosis was parvovirus, and in such a young dog the treatement was too expensive.   The shelter decided to euthanize her, and I still believe the way events played out that that little puppy belonged to me and always would.  Either she would live with me, or she wouldn't live at all.

As I said, the only way animals can break one's heart is to die.  I cried for months.  This tiny puppy I'd only known for four weeks has made a huge impression in my life even twenty years later.  I have one picture of her and one drawing, but I still remember every detail of her.  Her huge brown eyes, her soft black coat, her little white paws and white tail tip, and the heart shaped blaze on her forehead.  I've seen lots of dogs with similar coloring, but I've never seen another one whose blaze forms a perfect heart at the top of its head. 

Colleen was the first to break my heart.  Even though I've had a lot of disappointments over the years, I can say that only one person has truly broken my heart to the same extent as Colleen.  I"m going to come right out and say dating is tedious, and being single looking for love is an almost impossible task.  I've been on plenty of dates lately.  My mother is no help when she says one should feel an instant spark upon meeting someone and that's how two people know they are meant to be together.  It happened for her and my dad.  Here they are still married and still making people sick with their happy lives together.  I think they are a rarity.  Few people get to have that and they are lucky.  I haven't felt a spark with anyone yet, not that they haven't all been super nice guys.  I just don't really know any of them very well. Evan Marc Katz is also no help with his constant, "Choose the right men" and "Don't let chemistry blind you," and "Dating is a skill."  A skill I apparently suck at, thank you very much, Evan. By his philosophy the more men I date the better chance I have at finding true lasting love and happiness, but only if I learn to weed out the frogs from the princes properly (by paying for his coaching services, of course).  If we go by my mother's philosophy, then I should be with my drug-dealing Felon, and he already walked away from me with his "I don't deserve you and you will always be too good for me" nonsense.  And now he's gone and broken my heart again. On the heels of losing August again, and that was shattering enough (incidentally, he also gave me the "You deserve better than me" speech, whatever the hell that means), I learned that my ex-boyfriend has barreled once more down the road of stupid decisions and gotten himself tangled in another drug bust.  This is what the rumor mill is churning out and I haven't found written proof of it yet, so right now it's just hearsay.  It did come from fairly reliable sources, however, and it just figures. This would be the Felon's second offense, he got off easy the first time around, and now he's looking at ten years.  Don't get me wrong.  He deserves it.  He obviously didn't learn his lesson. I am well rid of him because if we were still together this would now be my problem too.  It shouldn't bother me one bit.

But it does.

I'm not over him, but I am past him. That just means that while I no longer want to be with him and I actually really think he's a dumbass, his doofus decisions still have the ability to affect me.  One doesn't stop caring about someone because that person is a moron.  Just like one doesn't stop caring about a little puppy twenty years later, just because she died.  I had truly thought him better than that.  I even told him that, and when he said he would most likely land in jail again I told him I didn't believe that, that I believed in him.  So it's no wonder my heart is broken.  It's broken for him, it's broken for his three year old son, and it's broken for myself because I feel like an idiot.  I wish things were different just like I wish things had been different for me and Colleen, and even me and August.  Between August and the Felon, they are going to drive me to drink.  We can love, but we can't control those we love.  The price for loving animals and people is the risk of having one's heart broken.

It is up to us whether our hearts grow back twice as big, allowing for new loves, or if they remain broken.