Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ode to a Dog

Tomorrow marks one year since we had to say goodbye to our precious dog, Wicket.  In some ways, it seems like yesterday and in others, it seems like a lifetime ago.  The pain has faded somewhat, but it still strikes me almost on a weekly basis.  I look out our kitchen window at the elephant on his grave and am reminded anew of how much I miss him. 

I have been trying to write this post since he died and I have not been able to.  I figure I owe him a tribute on the first anniversary of his death.

First, to explain the elephant marker on his grave.  The only toy he came to us with was an elephant and we were told it was a favorite of his.  We replaced the elephant over the years, but they always remained his favorite.  We had two in the house when he died and we buried him with one and we kept one that Madeline has in her menagerie of stuffed animals on her bed.  We thought an elephant marking his final resting spot was appropriate and that he would have loved it.

We found Wicket through a Shih Tzu rescue organization in Chicago.  We actually had gone to their event to see another dog, but came to find out that that dog already had someone just waiting to take him home.  So we started looking around at the other dogs and found one scratching at his cage and making all sorts of noise with an underbite.  I loved him from the minute I saw him.  He was already seven years old and had endured some trauma in his life once he left the people who had had him since he was a puppy.  He was named Kokomo at that time and we knew we would have to change that.  We asked to spend time with him and he instantly sat in my lap and never left it for close to ten years. 

We had issues in the beginning as he chased our cats everywhere and had a hard time warming up to Brian.  But we got through it and he ended up being a wonderful dog.  We had many adventures together, including welcoming a new little being into our home when we had Madeline.  Wicket could be ornery with a lot of people, but he was rarely that way with me.  I seriously worried about how he would handle Madeline, but he loved her and showered her with kisses, just like he did to everyone.  For an older dog, he was extremely patient with Madeline and she loved him. 

His last year was hard.  He had been taking medicine for a heart problem for many years, but I think the years of hardship finally caught up to him.  He always loved his walks, but in that last year, he stopped his walks all together.  He just slept on the couch most days, instead of playing and running around the house.  Having a toddler made it hard to give him the attention he needed and deserved and I still beat myself up about that.  I just have to hope that he knows how much I loved him.  He was my first baby.  A few days before we put him down, he was barely able to breathe and I think he was mostly gone already.  He looked up at me, gave me one last lick and then basically left us.  He wasn't himself after that and I knew we had to let him go.  I knew that he had held on as long as he did for us and now we needed to let him go and stop his suffering.  We had someone come to the house so he was surrounded by all his things and was at peace as he had always hated the vet.  It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.

I could fill pages with stories about Wicket.  He was a loving, cranky, licky, stubborn, joyous and playful dog.  I have so many wonderful memories of him and with him.  For those that have never had a dog, it is hard to explain what they mean to you as a family member.  Dogs just want to be with you, simply put.  They don't judge you, they don't expect you to act a certain way or look a certain way.  They just love you.  That was what Wicket was for me.  And it is hard to replace that once it is gone.  I will miss him for a very long time and I certainly won't forget him.  Until I see you again, Wicket...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Raindrops on Roses

I am currently working on a pretty difficult post to write and it is taking me time to work out what I want to say.  So I decided to do a list of some of my favorite artists, songs, books, TV shows, movies and products for a change of pace.  Here they are in no particular order or coherence.

1.  Songza -     How have I lived without this awesome free website my whole life?  As a huge maker of mix tapes as a youngster, this is the Holy Grail of music awesomeness.  I can listen to great mixtapes in a huge variety of genres or make my own.  Samples include Your Own John Hughes Movie, Cocktail Party Jazz and Ballroom Blitz - Essential Glam Rock.  You can search by genre or your mood and you can save your favorites in folders you name.  I am an addict and I couldn't be happier to be on this drug.

2.  Sandi Calistro -   This woman is so talented and I was so happy to receive a framed print of hers for Christmas.  She is also an amazing tattoo artist and I can't wait to see what she does on my husband's arm in a few months.  I am rocking her stickers on the bumper of my car and she now has iPhone cases.   Sandi also painted a beautiful mural on the side of my husband's workplace, City O' City,  in Denver.  If I was ever to get a tattoo, it would be from this wonderful artist.

3.  Chai Tea Lattes - I am truly addicted to these now.  The best one I have found so far is at the coffee shop in the Central Library in Denver, which is conveniently located across the street from my place of employment.  I even bought myself a milk frother so I can attempt these at home.  Heavenly.

4.  Ellie Goulding's Halcyon - My favorite is "Anything Can Happen", which reminds me of the best Kate Bush songs.  It just makes me happy to listen to this music.  It is majestic and it feels like a perfect soundtrack to my life right now.

5.  "Locked Out of Heaven" by Bruno Mars - OBSESSED with this song.  It is almost constantly going around and around in my head.  I am a fan of Bruno, but this song?  Oh, man.  Gets me dancing and singing along every time I hear it.

6.  Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl - This book is brilliant, but so are her other two books, Sharp Objects and Dark Places.  Dark subject matter in all three, but they are written so well, I flew through them.  I enjoyed her writing in Entertainment Weekly and, when I heard she had released her first book, I grabbed it.  I have loved every one since.  Gone Girl is about a marital relationship from hell.  It's so twisted and amazing and I loved every second of the ride.

7.  The Following - Kevin Bacon + serial killers + cool music + Edgar Allan Poe = must watch TV.  That simple.

8.  HTC One X phone - I just dumped my iPhone for this one and I am thrilled so far.  Everything is intuitive, the camera rocks, the screen is bigger, the graphics are better and I am a happy girl.  I should have done this a long time ago.  I am as giddy as a schoolgirl using this phone.  I know this is heresy, but iPhone's don't have nothing on my phone.

9.  Celeste and Jesse Forever - I just watched this movie as a rental on Amazon streaming video.  All I can say is wow.  Funny and irreverant and gut punching and thought provoking.  A meditation on marriage, what it means to be in love, the work involved in keeping it going and growing together or apart.  Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg are amazing as the titular couple.  Highly recommend.

10.  Widowspeak's Almanac - New music discovery.  Male/female duo that sound a little like Buckingham/Nicks combined with Mazzy Star.  It's just good music, folks.

So those are a few of my favorite things.  Maybe check them out and discover something new and awesome.  Or don't.  It's all up to you.  Expand those horizons, people. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bucket List

I have been thinking a lot about how I see myself and how I want to see myself.  That happens when you combine a looming 40th birthday and the year just beginning.  Welcome 2013!  I don't mean that to sound self centered or douchy.  It's just that you reach a point in life where what people wish you were and what you thought you wanted to force yourself to be just doesn't matter any more.  I've always wished to be a edgier, cooler version of myself.  Get a tattoo, make things, be creative, dress in vintage clothing, etc etc.  Now, some of that I truly do enjoy.  But I have realized as I get older, I am who I am.  Does that mean that I can't grow and learn and develop new interests?  Does that mean that I am stuck in a rut, finished with discovering things?  No, I don't believe it does.  But it also means being really truthful with myself.  To look at who I am, what I am and what I enjoy and what is drudgery to me.  In a way, growing older can be a quite freeing experience.  It allows you to have the luxury of looking back at the first half of your life and making plans for how you want to spend the last half.  It is such a cliche, but time speeds by so quickly.  You blink and five years have gone by.  The older you get, the more you realize that every hour of every day is precious, that it won't be seen again.  I want to spend the last half of my life doing things that I love, spending time with people that make me feel accepted and loved for who I am and going to far off places I have wanted to see for decades.  Will I be perfect at letting go of all the bull that we put ourselves through, all the comparisons with others and their lives?  No, I won't and I don't expect to be.  But the more aware I am of life passing, the more I can be truly free to live life on my terms and to make myself happy.

In order to try and do a better job of living a better life,  I have decided to do a yearly bucket list.  I just think that one for your whole life is just mindboggling and overwhelming.  If I break into a year by year, it may be easier to achieve.  Here, in no particular order, is my 2013 bucket list:

1.  Lose the last 46 pounds I have to reach my goal weight.

2.  Be more active, whether that be in a gym or out in nature.

3.  Take my daughter and husband to NYC for my 40th birthday/9th wedding anniversary.

4.  Take more weekend/long weekend jaunts to rejuvenate myself and show my daughter all the amazing things to see and do outside of our comfort zone.

5.  Tackle redecorating/renovating our house to make it more comfortable and more in tune with how we live our lives.

6.  Write more, whether it be this blog or something else.  The joy I get in spilling the thoughts chasing around in my head is unparalleled.

7.  Attend a roller derby bout.  Wanted to do this for years.

8.  Start saving for a trip to Paris, some place I have wanted to go since junior high.

9.  Get my daughter potty trained.  Yes, she is 3 and not potty trained.  This may be number one on my list for this year.  To be done with diapers? Oh, my God, yes please.

10.  Try new restaurants, activities and cuisines.  Be more adventurous.

11.  Watch my daughter go to her first day of preschool.

12.  Have more Madeline and Mama time and create special memories just the two of us.

13.  Make family time a priority, not a luxury.

I feel like I have a good shot of doing most if not all of these things this year.  There may be others added as the year goes on, but I feel like this helps me focus on what will make me happy in 2013.  40 is a huge milestone and reaching it will probably overwhelm me with conflicting emotions.  But it is also the start of a clean slate, the second half of my life.  How I fill it, what is important and who I choose to spend it with is up to me.  It is an amazing opportunity to reboot and start Melissa's Life, version 2.0.  I can't wait to see what happens next.