Saturday, March 29, 2008

Feelings. Whoa! – 338.5

Last time I wrote, I mentioned that I had been busy, and that was true. What I hadn’t admitted was that I was starting to enter a real down period, and I could have at least partially predicted it. I wrote on the 18th, and the day before we had just put Forrest to sleep.

Forrest was one of our greyhounds, and we had him for about ten years. They are all sweet and wonderful and special, so if I try and write about that, I will keep thinking about other dogs, and feel like I am short-changing them, but nonetheless, he was sweet and wonderful and special. He was prone to loving you so hard it was like he was trying to burrow into your side, and if he did occasionally goose guests, they were usually pretty good-natured about it.

Saturday morning he had some swelling around his left back hock that looked like a sprain, and the vet agreed. There definitely wasn’t a break, or a fever, or any reason to suspect anything else, until the swelling kept spreading. An abdominal x-ray revealed a tumor the size of a grapefruit that was still growing, and it was impeding his blood flow from the leg, which is where the swelling came from, and it was also growing into his bladder and lower intestine.

It turns out you can’t really cut things out of the bladder and sew it back up. Even if you could, cutting open a senior dog is not really recommended, and we hadn’t put him under anesthesia since he nearly didn’t wake up from a dental cleaning nine years ago. Really, it was a pretty clear decision, and the vet was able to do it at our house Monday evening so everyone had a chance to say goodbye, including the other dogs.

Losing a dog is sad, and even though I believe in the immortality of animals just as much as I believe in the immortality of people, goodbyes are still sad. Also, when you have had a dog for such a long time, there are habits and the adjustment period is longer. Coming home the first time and seeing Jack in the window, and not Forrest, caused a pang. Opening up the leash drawer every morning stops you, because it doesn’t look right and then you realize that the green one is missing, but seeing the green one there would be worse.

So there is that sadness, but also I noticed how much I was picking up on all the sad emotions around me. Mom was particularly stressed, which is to be expected, but I just felt it weighing down on me. Then, after about a week of that, we got news that a friend of my sisters who had been struggling with cancer for about two years, suddenly took a turn for the worse, and although it is not as immediate as the dog that I lived with, the impact will be bigger, and there is nothing to do except wait.

I have just been really down, and on edge. Really, almost everyone at work who has even been a thorn in my side is gone, but the replacement for one is a lot like the old one, and there are a lot of stupid questions. Every time I received one of these, I just wanted to scream, and that is not like me. There was just this black cloud over my head, and I was always really close to anger, and I was not able to shake it off.

I suppose maybe that is why I went with the pet peeves entry, because it is a little bit angry but still fairly light, and so maybe that felt more comfortable. Still, I don’t like being so gloomy, and touchy, and also, I kept flashing back to losing other dogs and going through all of those memories, and I was frustrated with myself for not being able to shake it off, like I had before.

That, I think, was the key right there. I did always shake things off in the past, probably prematurely, and feelings were safely locked up. I don’t function that way anymore, but I am still not at all used to the new way. Apparently, you sometimes have to feel bad for a while, and it lasts.

There was a kid from grade school, Jonathan, who would always call me Spock because I was so logical. I took it kind of as an insult, because I felt like emotions were important, but maybe it did end up being a little bit accurate. Anyway, I am practical, and sensible, but I am no Vulcan.

There was one moment that was kind of revealing to me. Maria helped pay part of Forrest’s adoption fee, so she tended to call him her dog, and felt pretty close to him. When she was saying goodbye to him, it was so sad, and she was so devastated and I just ached for her. My first instinct was to wish that I could take it away from her, and this has been my bad habit as a longtime overfunctioner—I always want to fix things for people. However, in that moment I realized that no, that would be wrong. It is going through sadness that makes you tender, and that would be a loss. The lesson is two-fold. One part is that just fixing things for everybody would not be good, even if it were possible (and believe me, it isn’t). The other is that I need to let myself feel these things, even if I am never going to enjoy it.

One of my problems with Buddhism is that it teaches that you need to rise above these sufferings by ceasing to care for them (oversimplification acknowledged), but if you give up the aching you also give up the euphoria when something goes right. Honestly, as much as I care about things in general, I’m not sure how I was able to successfully suppress so much for so long, but I am choosing passion.

I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t mitigate sorrow. So things that I have found are important are taking good care of myself with adequate sleep and good nutrition, and other needs. Sometimes I am just starved for music. Also, I am not happy with myself if I am not accomplishing things, so writing and getting things done at work is very important.

I probably do need to go through and feel more things, so my journal assignment will be to go through and write about all of the pets we have lost. I won’t post that, as the gallery of dead dogs will be a little too depressing. Well, thirteen dogs, five cats, four hamsters, and a lizard. If I do all of that in one sitting I am going to need some sort of pills.

Don’t worry though. I am recovered quite a bit, and feeling better. I am also gratified that with a few Google searches that there are many others who hate the Family Circus (only a small minority joins me on the fluffy towel issue, but I still know that I am right). I still don’t want Amy to die so young, and while her daughter is so young, but that will heal too, even knowing that it will be accompanied by pain. It is just life.

I do feel pretty comfortable hating tumors.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Spork’s pet peeves – 337.5

I have had a really chaotic past two weeks, and have not really been following my plan. I kept going up and down one pound from 338, and it was irritating, but I was mainly grateful that I was not going all the way back up. The main stressors have been resolved now, so it is time to really capitalize on that and get past this plateau. I challenged my sisters to a contest, so whoever posts the most weight loss this week gets to impose her methods on the other two. I think I have it in the bag.

(Of course for weight loss to be healthy and lasting, aiming for fast results is kind of bad, and can be dangerous, and making it a contest is certainly immature, so don’t try this at home. My methods are essentially healthy though, it is just being consistent with them. I will write about that some time, but I just feel like I need to have actually made some progress before I take the contract for the diet book. Losing the same five pounds eight times does not a nutrition expert make.)

Anyway, one thing that I have noticed is that when I am not taking good care of myself, regardless of the reason, I get much more easily irritated, and so it seemed like a good time to make a record of the things I find most annoying, despite them being fairly trivial. Nothing angers me more than racism or animal cruelty, for example, but these are things that are actually important, therefore they are not pet peeves. I am kind of on the fence about stupidity, because my level of annoyance with stupid people may be unreasonable, but stupidity certainly isn’t doing society any favors. I have come up with three things that I would abolish if I could, and maybe doing would make the world a better place, but probably non-profit organizations and picketing are not called for.

Soft, fluffy towels:
I hate these things. I feel like instead of drying me they are leaving the water on me while depositing lint. Obviously they are picking up some water, because I can tell the towel is becoming colder and wetter, but I remain unsatisfied with the level of dryness. The worst thing is that is how everyone is making them these days. We had to buy new ones, and could not find anything good and coarse. Maybe we need to try Wal-Mart or Dollar Tree or something, but then there will probably be lead in the dye. I’m primarily using beach towels now. They are still a little soft, but not as bad as modern bathroom towels.

The Family Circus:
I don’t suppose I really hate this—it is too innocuous to hate. It’s just that it isn’t funny and it is way too self-satisfied with how cute it thinks it is. It shouldn’t even matter. I should just be able to ignore it. The problem is that I really like comics, and I read as many as I can. One thing I love about the Oregonian is that when they merged with the Oregon Journal they took both sections, so we have two full pages of comics. So every day there I am, reading away, and I get to one that is stupid and irritating before I even think of avoiding it, and it is too late. I suppose I could train myself to skip that spot, but it hasn’t happened yet. There are others that tend to be unfunny, but none that smug about it, and none as long-lasting with the mediocrity.

The F-bomb:
I do hate the word itself, along with all profanity, but that in itself is something that is kind of important, because the proliferation of crude speech makes us less civil, less eloquent and specific (thus, poorer communicators), and it probably does kill brain cells. No, the pet peeve part is that expression for the one word. Bomb? Ha! Maybe it was explosive one hundred years ago, but now it is as overused as it is crass. It is a word. It is a stupid, ugly, dirty word about something that should be beautiful, but we have done far more degrading things with the act than with the word, so no, it is not a bomb, and calling it that sounds idiotic.

Rant over! At least, this particular rant is over. I am feeling a need to comment on the presidential race, and perhaps politics in general, so it is not impossible that a rant would emerge somewhere there. I mean, it is me.