Tag Archives: poodle

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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A Sunday

1. The dog and I just played a vigorous game of reverse-fetch, in which she dropped her orange rubber ball off the third-floor deck, watched it bounce neatly off the wood slats of the second-floor deck and onto the roof of my car, and then skittered down the stairs to press her face against the staircase window just in time to watch me run through traffic and fetch the still-rolling ball from a neighbor’s yard. According to Facebook, everyone else in the world is watching football like normal human beings.

2. I recently found my way out of a Phillip Roth Time Vortex (six weeks of slogging through The Human Stain, ten pages at a time, refusing to a) abandon the book or b) stop complaining about the book) and to cleanse my reading palate I very quickly and methodically read Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending this afternoon, and now I feel like my literary karma has been righted once again. What a book!

3. I liked this quote best from Bill Clinton’s long, sweaty, and passionate DNC speech last week, especially after I found out it was off-script:

Why does cooperation work better than constant conflict? Because nobody’s right all the time, and a broken clock is right twice a day. And every one of us — every one of us and every one of them, we’re compelled to spend our fleeting lives between those two extremes, knowing we’re never going to be right all the time and hoping we’re right more than twice a day.

 

Autopsy of a Downloads Folder

Dumb UPS has screwed up my night, delivering a package so late that I had to postpone my trip to Iowa until tomorrow morning. Which means I have, unexpectedly, a free evening on my hands. So I decided to clean out my laptop files, and let me tell you–if you are ready to be get in touch with your true self, no holds barred, then sneak a peek at your “Downloads” folder sometime. It’s like a graveyard of random files and unflattering pictures–almost as embarrassing as mining your old Google searches, circa 2007.

Anyway, here are some of the most interesting things I found from my computer tonight:

1. John Hinckley’s love letter to Jodie Foster, in PDF form. Yeah, that’s right, the one that starts out “There is definitely a possibility that I will be killed in my attempt to get Reagan” and ends with “I love you forever.” According to my computer, I downloaded this important document from the internet at noon on Thanksgiving day, 2011.

2. This picture of my poodle WORRIED SICK about me during a nasty bout of stomach flu in Chicago (Not pictured: Lovie, because she is gagging and opening windows to clear our B&B of vomit smells).

 

 

 

 

 

3. A Quicktime movie of Aziz Ansari’s “Dangerously Delicious” comedy special, which you can still download for 5 bucks here. Highly recommended. Last semester I showed my students the part where he deconstructs his nephew’s college application essay, but I didn’t remember until we were watching it together in the classroom that during this particular bit, Ansari makes about 17 references to graphic oral sex. (I then went on to be a very popular teacher with stellar evaluations and a chili pepper on ratemyprofessor.com).

4. A Ryanair boarding pass from Rome to Dublin from exactly one year ago, and this culturally relevant and delicately composed picture of a McDonald’s in Vienna (watch out, National Geographic!).

 

 

 

 

4. TWO full episodes of Saved by the Bell. (The one where Zach dresses as a girl to go on a pity-date with Screech, and the one where Jessie goes nuts on caffeine pills). I believe I paid $1.99 for each of these in iTunes, and later made my students watch both of them.

5. Another flattering picture of me in Prague.

Everything is Okay

as long as the poodle is comfy.

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Things I Did Today

Ate a waffle with fresh maple syrup from the north shore, started The Human Stain, pruned the basil plant, called Cuisinart to ask for help using my food processor, fixed the food processor, made pesto, sent out five queries for my novel, heard back from one agent requesting the manuscript, praised the heavens!, sang “Sweet Georgia Brown” to the dog with lyrics applicable to her life (furry feet/oh so neat/sweeeeeeeeet poodle town), took a nap, started a new story, went to the dog park and wrestled a urine-soaked tennis ball from the poodle’s mouth, washed my hands, grilled pork chops & applesauce, watched a documentary called Happy, stood on the back deck for Family Hug Time, looked up at the clouds, felt very, very happy.