Category Archives: love

The Philisophical Life of a Toy Poodle

I’m not sure why we decided to start putting the dog on the kitchen counter, but I think it had something to do with wine.

Shirley ponders the nature of reality.

Shirley ponders the nature of reality.

But it turns out that an exercise in bored self-amusement once again reminded me of the superior spiritual life of my pup (or again, maybe this was the wine).

For Shirley, I think being hoisted up to the counter is like being one of Plato’s newly unshackled cave-dwellers; she’s suddenly faced with the origins of the reality she’s always assumed existed ad infinitum (by this I mean the crumb-laden floor, and the realization that there are cookie jars and bags of flour that create these crumbs).

Watching her sniff the surface and examine this new territory with a bold curiosity–not fear–I felt moved. And because I harbor a strangely deep admiration for my dog, I started to think, as I often do, how can I be more like her?

DSCN3055Shirley is an adaptive creature who knows when to let her guard down. She enters new experiences with a strange bow-legged hesitation, skittering backwards and forwards like a spider, and when her gut gives her the all-clear sign, she relaxes into the present like it’s the only thing that has ever existed. She lets go of grudges–when I step on her foot during our morning walk, she squawks and forgives me. In fact, she’s already forgotten about it five paces later.

Me, on the other hand–it’s like I’ve got molasses goop all over my heart and my hands, and this goop connects me to all the times that anyone has hurt me and loved me and all the places I’ve ever been. And when I step on my dog’s foot and hear her mousey little squeak, let’s just say I don’t immediately rush into self-forgiveness mode.

When we moved into our new house this month, I felt waves of what the internet tells me is very typical transitional anxiety: trouble sleeping, little appetite, a gnawing fear that the spontaneity and spice of life was gone and replaced by the red brick of permanence, of settling. Also, where in the heck were my trusted routines? My toilet that never flushed right, the reliable way I made awkward small-talk with my neuroscientist neighbor as we waited for the bus?

Our first night in the new place, Shirley gave the house a good sniffing and then went to bed and slept the transcendent sleep of a worry-free poodle. She accepted the change by creating new routines, like waking up at 6:15 and playing with her tennis ball instead of sleeping all day.

We even took her back to the old apartment after a week to see if she harbored any old nostalgia for the place, but she took a lap and came back into the living room, like Guys? I am so over this place already.

To which I was like, You, dog, are so unbelievably cool, I can’t even believe you’re my friend.

DSCN3047(Right now she is sleeping on the couch beside me, the tuft of curly hair on her head so overgrown that I can see it vibrating slightly in time with her tiny heartbeat.)

In the end, yeah, I’m probably anthropomorphizing to a degree. It’s hard not to when this animal communicates so effectively and whose love bears such striking resemblance to the love humans share. And I’m probably also overestimating her adaptivity–the impressive splash of diarrhea I found in the backyard snow serves as evidence that Shirley’s body, too, felt the strange groundlessness of transition, at least for an evening.

Or, could have been the wine.

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Everything is Okay

as long as the poodle is comfy.

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North Shore Refreshed

I’m back from a week on the North Shore. No internet, no cell phone service, no air conditioning, and the only television channels were CNN and that one that plays The Big Bang Theory over and over.

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“But what,” one might ask anxiously, “do you do when you do find yourself experiencing a sudden and dizzying lack of internet and cell phone service and satisfactory sitcoms?”

WELL. In this particular situation, one spends a great deal of time reading thick novels and scratching blistered mosquito bites and drinking Finnigan’s and staring out at Lake Superior and pondering the incredibly nuanced and pocketed experience of being a Live Human. I just finished Lama Marut’s book A Spiritual Renegade’s Guide to the Good Life (yeah, yeah, one of those embarrassingly earnest titles that you cover with your hand when reading on public transport), and he says that one of the most important mind states to cultivate is gratitude. Super easy to do when you look out the window and see this:

Also Lama Marut says, since you’re already allowing some potentially miraculous positivity to enter your brain, why not also chew on the possibility that you yourself (the recipient of tons of awesome shit for which to be grateful) are the reincarnation of some super dedicated and flexible yogi from a thousand years ago, and THIS, right NOW, is your natural karmic reward for lifetimes of hard work.

It sounds absurd, like totally unlikely, but WTF is human life itself if not a giant, juicy miracle?

Anyway. These are the things I think of when I take a minute to chuck whatever anxieties I’ve managed to construct in my head and just take a look around me–at my sweet lovie who let me remove her stitches like a BOSS even though my only experience with surgery is readingCutting for Stone, at our sweet pup who ate half of the blinds in a blind panic when she spotted a bear (which turned out to be a golden retriever) through the window, and the thick and hearty Minnesota landscape that folded before us as we drove home, listening to Sarah Silverman’s surprisingly compassionate memoir on audiobook. Maybe we’re all yogis, laughing like crazy at Jew jokes.

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Lov(i)e

My lovie had hand surgery today, to remove some kind of cyst from her finger (maybe the technical name of this cyst started with an R? I was not paying enough attention when the surgeon explained it, because I was too busy noticing how shockingly young this surgeon was,  and tailspinning into a strange moment of is this what it’s like to be an adult? Now all the dentists and doctors and cops are all younger than I am?? Should I have become a dentist or doctor or cop??).

Anyway, she was very brave, and the whole procedure was very short, and all the doctors and nurses and anesthesiologists were nice, even if they were teenagers.

Lovie the Lionhearted

The best part about your partner being incapacitated for the day is that you get to order Chinese food and watch British movies and take a nap during the afternoon thunderstorm and wake up to discover that refilling her water glass is possibly the most important act that you have ever performed in your life, the easy movement of your arm so holy and perfect that you burst with gratitude for this cold water, this good sky full of clouds, this full cup, and before it spills you carefully tilt the pitcher back just so.

Maybe this? This is what it’s like to be an adult?