chronic pain, personal writing

a dream

I had a dream last night where I saw myself as a little girl. I was about nine years old, all thick-waisted and shy, just as I was then, with that long, wild hair I had, and sun-lit, summer skin. I was wearing the strange, self-selected clothes I wore as a kid – a long, thick red skirt and a mismatched long-sleeved white and blue cotton T-shirt.

I could see my young self, but she could not see me.

Although only nine years old, the girl was walking hurriedly behind her “husband,” following and trying to keep up. In the dream, it made sense, as things like that only do in dreams. I could not see him, as he was walking at a fast clip ahead of her. She looked sad, and yet she would have been upset to know even then just how plainly her sadness came across, as she was trailing him.

Suddenly, in one of those split second scene shifts characteristic of dream-world, there she was, still nine years old, but this time she was swimming in deep water.

She was all the way in the water, and yet it took me a second to realize that she was fully clothed. The long-sleeved white and blue t shirt, the long red skirt she had worn to swim in, because she was shy and ashamed, trying to cover her body. This, I remember.

But then – something made her smile – I could see her from a distance, standing chest high in the water now. I could not see what or who it was – maybe it was someone she was engaging with or a certain slant of light on the water that caught her attention – but she was lit up with joy, her smile transforming her face into one of beaming beauty. She forgot herself in this pleasure, whatever its source.

I could feel myself smiling with her, rooting for her joy.

Then, again the scene changed, and I saw her walking away, her back to me. Her long red skirt was tugging around her ankles, heavy with water, slowing her trudging progress. The edges of the hem dripped steadily along the sandy path at her feet, her long-sleeve white and blue t-shirt clinging to the same body she had wanted so very much to hide.

In the dream, my present-day self awoke for just a moment and looked at this younger me. I realized that she looked so young and even pretty then, in spite of herself. I wanted to yell to her – to break the fourth wall, or the fourth dimension – and tell her: You are beautiful, just as you are!

I pined for her youth, for her body even, those strong, sturdy legs that carried wherever she wanted. I wished that she could understand that this is all there is.

I tried to call to her. I tried to yell out, “I wish you could see yourself as I do, and see all you have!” I wanted her to know the freedom in not trying so very hard, in loosening her grip a little, in letting things be just as they are.

She could not hear me, of course.

Just then, I woke up, still frustrated that she had not heard my call. Yet, awakening, I remembered the whole dream. I suppose maybe I had heard me, perhaps just catching the echo of another dream of another self, older still than I am now.

chronic pain, humor, personal writing

independence day

Last night was the 4th of July. It was also, for me personally, a comedy of errors, a sad little comedy of errors.

You see, fireworks hold a special place in my heart. Every year, I have a deep, inexplicably strong desire to see them.

It has been five years now that I’ve been, to a greater or lesser degree, disabled by extraordinary pain and functional limitations in one leg, a problem which itself is both cause and result of multiple massive surgeries. And it has been almost 28 years of sequelae from the very serious, exceptionally rare congenital muscular disorder that was discovered when I was 16, when my leg more or less exploded as soon as they slit the skin to relieve the pressure in the muscles, a defining characteristic of this crazy syndrome. All the ripple effects of this have spanned nearly three decades, and in the process, have made me, well, a bit of medical mystery, a case study of one.

But I digress. Back to my story: I love fireworks. I hate being sidelined. I have – because I’m a weird 40 something woman who still goes nuts for fireworks – endeavored to get myself to see some each year on the 4th of July for the last five years.

Last night was the closest I got in this endeavor.

So close and yet so far.

Let me explain.

The pain was at a 7-7.5 last night. I cannot walk more than a few dozen feet at a time these days. Good thing, I thought helpfully, that I happen to live on the bottom of the very hill where people come to watch the spectacular city display in the distance.

It’s all just up the hill from me!

Kool, kool. I got this.

Before I leave the apartment – because I both feel and look like poop on a platter, and because my ex boyfriend, a quasi-neighbor, could conceivably be there – I spruce up my hair with dry shampoo and put on red (red, goddammit) lipstick, cuz f*ck that sh!t, if I am gonna have a chance run-in with him and some new lady, I’m gonna look HAWT. So yeah, red lipstick.

Inner Voice: Ya ever heard of lipstick on a pig?

Shut the f*ck up, Inner Voice. We’re doing this. This is the year.

My plan, you see, was to drive as far up the hill as possible, till the road closures, and then park and use my crutches the rest of the way up.

Fail-safe plan!

It can’t be – what – more than .2, .3 miles from my car to the top of the hill? What could possibly go wrong?

So I commence plan.

I walk down the corridor that leads to the parking lot (note to self, it’s stupid to leave crutches in the car out of pride, this hall is long!) I make it to the door, neon green ice pack Velcro-wrapped around my leg, ready for my trek.

This is your Everest, jokes Inner Voice, before dodging just in time to avoid my proverbial ice pick.

I get to the car, drive up the hill as far as I can, park, and grab the crutches out of the back. Plan on track.

I start crutching uphill. I’m passed by an old man carrying portable chairs. I’m passed by some families with little kids and strollers. We are all presumably going to the same place. My hands already stinging from my climb, I imagine nodding to the baby stroller, saying, “Mind if I hitch a ride?”

I chuckle to myself. I then realize the chuckle was out loud. I cough, to stifle another laugh, but somewhat suddenly, and as such seem to scare the little girl in a peach dress passing me on my right. She stops and looks at me and at my crutches, and – you know – I get it. Metal crutches are loud and shiny and maybe a little scary. Even though I’m quite skilled with these things, if I do say so myself. (After well over eight years on crutches, I am certain I’d be an Olympic gold, maybe silver, medalist, if crutching were an Olympic event.)

But the girl scurries ahead and, looking back at me with big eyes, reaches for her mama’s hand.

This makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

Head down, I continue my climb. My left leg searing, and a blister already forming on my heel (stupid cute sandals, in case of stupid ex sighting), I begin to question if this is worth it. I throw a quick look back downhill and realize it’d be even stupider to give up now.

As I near my destination, I hear fireworks in the distance. I curse my slow self, sidelined by needing to sit down three times on my way up. Thinking I was hearing the real show, I start to crutch a bit faster.

A guy in a Red Sox hat says to me, “Whoa, be careful there – you don’t want to go and break your other leg now, do ya?”

I think briefly about whether the nearby police presence would take my side or his if I beat him flat to the ground with these things.

Instead, I smile politely and attempt a laugh.

Of course, I immediately think of better retorts (oh don’t you worry your pretty little head, cuz you’re gonna be watching me take home the Olympic gold metal for —) but he’s already too far ahead.

I sigh, more audibly than intended.

Finally, sweating, breathing a bit heavily, I reach my destination. I make my way, clinking and clanking, in the dark, over the uneven ground to find a spot as close as possible to the street.

I choose a place and my crutches make a loud metallic noise as I let them drop beside me. Some people from the group in front of me turn around to look.

Please do not say a goddamn thing.

I lay down the old shirt I thought to bring as a blanket and deposit myself down in the grass. Throbbing heat radiates down my leg.

Welp, I tell my body – inaudibly of course, we did it. We are here. We are finally here – we’re gonna get our fireworks on!

I begin to relax, let my mind drift.

When I was a kid, we would go to Vermont every summer. Those were the happiest memories of my childhood. My parents were still together, we were still a family then. We would gather old plaid blankets, pack some snacks, and go to the nearby high school to watch the fireworks from the football field.

They were probably unspectacular as far as fireworks displays go – it was a small rural town in Vermont in the 1980s after all – but it was a true highlight of my summer.

We would lay down our happy family spread, and take in the – out there – black sky and the – back then – bright stars. My parents would break out their little plastic Chablis glasses, and we kids would eat pretzels and popcorn, and we would wait.

All the other families around us were doing the same. All of us, looking up, expectantly. I remember an almost tangible buzz of anticipation in the summer air.

Then they’d start. We would Oooo and Aaaaah right in sync with the crowd, which – considering the traffic getting out of the school parking lot at the end of the night – must have represented the entirety of that small Vermont town.

But there was a definitive feel-good quality to the whole ritual. We were there together. As a community. As a family. We were a part of something larger. There was, above us, evidence of magic.

Hilariously, there was also evidence of our human absurdities. There was this one guy who – every year – would park himself on the edges of crowd and yell – with a volume and scope that, I realize in hindsight, could only have come from a full six pack of beer:


After going several years in a row and hearing this guy, we had come to feel it was part of the show. The whole crowd came to understand what Six Pack knew intrinsically: that when he would shout, BOOMER!, we were sure to get a really good, really big Boomer! And we did. Sometimes we would yell along with him.

I remember each year my brother and I would twitter in excitement – Mom! Dad! When’s the BOOMER coming?

And then, as if on cue, the rebel yell:


We squealed. We knew what was coming next. The crowd knew, too.

And the finale was always spectacular.

It was magic.

Abruptly, quite rudely, I’m brought back to the present – by mosquitos. Lots and lots of mosquitoes.

I had remembered the red lipstick. I had remembered the shirt-blanket. Did I remember bug spray? No, I did not remember the bug spray.

Ha! Inner Voice revels, Lipstick on an idiot pig! Here you are, alone, ex nowhere in sight, in your red lipstick, being bitten alive!

Well, at least I have my phone, I tell Inner Voice in my defense. I’m not really alone! What!! I’m not. I’m gonna text my friend. See, I’m not lame!

Jesus, though, these bugs are vicious!

As I text my friend, I am horrified to realize – it is another fifty five minutes before the fireworks begin.

This is somewhat of a miscalculation on my part.

The blister on my heel stinging, my hands burning, the bugs biting – I didn’t even want to think about my leg. What to do?

I take a deep breath and consider my options. I try to muster the courage to sit through all this for another hour – just to see the fireworks, alone, from a distance. No chance of a Boomer.

Nope. I can’t do it.

What is this pilgrimage for anyhow? A nostalgic trek to a forgotten era. A simpler life. One in which I was parked in the middle of that plaid blanket, planted right in the heart of my family.

F*ck this. I’m out. Let’s go, Lipstick. NOW.

Inner Voice has a point this time, I concede.

I pick up my loud crutches and in one expert (dare I say, Olympian) move I jump up and get going down the hill.

Clink. Clank. Clink.

A guy in a hat with a cooler in hand looks at me going downhill as he’s going uphill.

Say One Word. I dare you!

I want to scream.


Here, we have arrived at the finale of this failed endeavor.

At this point, I can’t help it, but I start to feel sorry for myself. This is the fifth year in a row (and who knows how many times over my lifetime) that I’ve missed the stupid fireworks because of my leg. It is just one hour per year that I need my leg to cooperate. One single hour.

But for five years, that hope has not been my reality.

I fight the tears.

You can’t cry while crutching!

It’s true. I know this from experience. If you do, the tears just sting the corners of your eyes and, with your hands in use, you can’t wipe them away, so they just trickle down your cheeks and into your ears – and, on bad days, drop onto your shirt, leaving dark, telltale wet spots.

Finally, finally, I see my car. I snort at the absurdity of it all – I don’t try to stifle it – everyone else is uphill already. I’m alone in my descent. Hot tears come in spite of my efforts to stop them, or maybe, because of my efforts.

But just as I reach my car, everything hurting – I feel the breeze blow. Just enough that the leaves of the bushes lining the sidewalk rustle. It’s a quiet sound.

On the breeze, I can smell the faint summer scent of linden flower. I stop to dab my eyes. I realize – I can see the moon from here. An unassuming sliver of ombre against a faded gray sky. It is in the opposite direction of where everyone else’s eyes are trained, expectantly waiting.

An old saying one of my sisters shared with me sometime in the last few years, when I’d complained that my life had become the wreckage of its former self:

Barn’s burnt down, but I can see the moon now.

When she first told me this, I didn’t really get it.

I think I get it now.

I laugh and cry at the same time, out loud now, cuz … the barn’s burnt down and, really, who has a fuck left to give.

I get in my car. I take a deep breath. Linden flower in the air, orange crescent moon in the sky, each putting on their own quiet show.

A distant voice climbs inside me, once more, from deep within my memory banks, with a volume and scope that can only come from years of experience:


I turn the ignition on and head down the rest of the hill home. I won’t be able to see the moon from home, but I will know it’s there.

personal writing


When I was really little and my parents were still together, I would watch them “Cheers!” each other across the table with their celebratory glasses and – the story goes – I would always flinch and say, “Broken!” I was sure the glass would break and I braced for the shatter not the clink. Ever since, it has been a family tradition to say “Broken!” instead of “Cheers!”.

For some reason, this strikes me tonight as a brilliant metaphor.

My life – at least my life since age 16 – has been broken many, many, many times. In fact, I haven’t written here in several days because it has felt on the verge of collapse, once more.

Thinking on it now, it somehow makes sense to me that even at age 5 or 6, I might have had broken on my mind. It wasn’t long after those celebratory clinks that the undercurrent of acrimony rose up and tore my parents’ marriage and our family asunder. In a kind of crude nod to those clinks, my dad told us, on Christmas Eve, that he was leaving the family.


In many ways, I see my life as a series of interruptions. I wrote in a recent post in an online group for people living with chronic pain that my life (my so-called life!) has endured so many interruptions that it is no longer a life, interrupted – it has now become more interruption than life.


More interruption than life.

These words lingered in the silence after I typed them and sent them into the ether. They rang too true, resonating like two delicate champagne flutes… what does it mean when the ellipses are the most consistent thread in your life story? What happens when you realize that the ellipses have become the story?

I picture the ellipses now. Those dark and mysterious dot dot dots. They are the vestigial tail of your old coherence. They are the amputated limbs of your aborted stories. They are strewn this way and that. They are scattered – you realize later – across wholly different parts of your landscape, like bodies in a war zone. It is only when you come upon some old battle-ravaged field and see all those dots – more dots than you realized you’d ever had to lose – and across more fields than you remember ever having traversed – that you understand: you have forgotten more than you remember.

I have often thought of my life as a series of fits and starts. Every time I thought I had figured things out, trauma would swoop in and rupture the f*ck out of any coherence or safety I thought I had built. I picture Trauma a villain in a black cape, eyes behind a dark mask, with bad breath, and a twisted mouth laughing, laughing, while wrecking his havoc and leaving nothing in his wake but enough shards of life to… well, you know… dot dot dot.

So what do you do when your life has become more interruption than life?

Coherence is hard-won, but its armor is so delicate, so fragile. It looks pretty – until it is broken. Then its sharp edges draw blood, its missing pieces summon the search.

And the search is tireless – until, Aha!, you come upon a jagged little shard that maybe just maybe could fit in here, a gnawed-down nub that maybe just maybe could be glued on there.

I have always worked hard after Trauma swoops in to put life back together again, like Humpty Dumpty. But I can’t actually remember back that far, so many shards ago – did Humpty Dumpty put things back together again? My sense is he tried to fix the broken. My memory is that he could not.

But it is not only shards and broken bits that Trauma leaves in his wake. He leaves fear, too. What he takes, though, is worse: each successive time he steals a little bit more of your faith that you can ever put it all back together again. Part of me knows in my bones the end of that tale I have forgotten.

Humpty Dumpty is BRO-KEN.

For me, this sort of broken has not, as yet, transformed itself into the celebratory sort of broken so engrained in my family mythology.

There is, I have heard, and again I’m too lazy – NO! DAMMIT, not too lazy!! I am too tired, I am too bone f*cking tired – to look this up. So I’m gonna go with my memory, AS IS. And what my memory recalls is that I read about a Japanese tradition – god f*ck if I can remember what it’s called – where when a bowl breaks, you can fill in the broken parts with gold. It becomes a bowl once more, but a changed bowl.

What strikes me about this is that it is the bowl’s brokenness that enables its beauty. Gold is not even the strongest of metals, but its malleability is its own form of strength. Its molten weaving together of ruptured parts creates a different kind of strong, one that does not deny – but honors – its own traumas. Like bones once broken can grow back stronger if given the right conditions to heal.

. . .

So, here I am, coming back around to see the ellipses of my life, strewn here, strewn there, strewn everywhere, and to try to just sit with a life that is so broken it is hard to remember it is still one single life. I still see the broken, yes, and, in my mind, I still hear the clink and the shatter, just as I did as a kid at the family table.

But I am starting to give up the Humpty Dumpty dance and let go of the impulse to re-create the pretty facade of old coherence.

I think I have come to a place where I cannot help but notice the ellipses tell a story, too – a wholly different story, with its own form of coherence, its own kind of pretty.

I am starting to feel – in my bones – that maybe the brokenness is where beauty lives. Here, if I suture my ruptures in gold, maybe – when you, my friend, find yourself lost and alone – you can sidle up alongside me and follow with your finger the gilded traces that map the history of my pain, and see in it reflections of your own. How else could we truly know one another?

These golden wounds can sparkle, in the right light.

The crash and the shatter that I still hear – and maybe will always hear – in the “Broken!,” as it clinks and winks and flirts disaster, is, also, a celebration of the pain that brings us to the table, the wounds that make us – in the right light – glint and shine.


dating, humor, personal writing

a peaceful, easy feeling

For some reason, “a peaceful, easy feeling” came to mind when I was thinking about how I’m feeling right now. Does that line come from something? It must. Help me out here – a song for a laundry detergent commercial? A car? Oh Christ, I bet it’s the Eagles. Now, I don’t know about you, but I happen to be in agreement with the Dude, aka Mr. Lebowski, with regard to the Eagles. Namely, “I hate the f*&^ing Eagles, man!” Well, maybe it’s not the Eagles, but I’m too damned lazy to google it.

Nonetheless a peaceful easy feeling sorta describes where I’m at right now, and I’m like, “Huh, what is this strange, strange feeling I’m experiencing? What? I’m sorry – you said you’re called Calm? Oh, hello, Calm, I’m Pollyanna, I don’t think we’ve met – pleased to make your acquaintance!”

Anywho…. Remember how I mentioned the profound relief I felt because I was virtually certain I’d gotten a rejection from that job that would have involved uprooting my entire life and moving to a different state?

Guess what. Yep. I got the offer.

Guess what else? Yep. Much to the chagrin of the hiring manager, I turned it down.

I know, I know. After all my expressions to him of how perfect a match this job and I were… once I learned the nitty gritty details, I realized the costs far outweighed the benefits.

And yup, I hid under a proverbial rock for hours and hours after that call, and every time the conversation crosses my mind now I shudder like an arctic blast just blew through.

I told the guy – and this is true! – my setback with my medical condition (which happened just prior to the final interview) indicated I wasn’t as far along in the post op recovery process as I should be to take on a big new job in another state.

The hiring manager first tried to push back and extol the virtues of their health benefits, until he heard me say my sorry a$$ one sentence spiel again and realized this wasn’t me trying to negotiate, this was me being like, Uh yeahhhh, NO.

So he’s all, “well, maybe next time you’ll have learned your limitations and only apply to jobs you can actually do.”

And I’m all, 😳😳😳😳😳😳.

You can now see the sudden appeal of the proverbial rock, amirite?

So I’m now finally crawling out from under that rock, and I gotta say that the peaceful easy feeling is all about the removal of that stressor from my life. It’s like that sh!t was weighing on me, without me even realizing how much. But now that I don’t have to move away from my bff, friends, and family here, I’m doing virtual cartwheels and happy backflip somersaults – only virtual though, cuz DAMN I wasn’t kidding about the setback –

And no, I know what you’re thinking – y’all have no poker face! Nope, this was NOT about Professor Cute Butt. I may be a one marshmallow girl, but I was super disciplined in my deliberations and did NOT let A Man (shudder) enter into the equation or affect my decision one way or the other on this job.

But he made it SO HARD, you guys.

I mean, in addition to the whole ‘I’m getting a puppy’ phone call that I described in the last post, Prof. CB endeared himself to me further when he said, as I was weighing the job offer, “I’ll visit you there if you take it!” And then pointing a finger back and forth between me and him, “I mean, if this is going to work, it’s going to work.” (!!) Add to that he brought over champagne – champagne! – to celebrate that I’d gotten the offer, and I got all gooey like a damned sap hound. (Where on earth do I come up with these weird non-saying sayings?) ((Don’t answer that. It could be the amyloid plaques most certainly starting to make their tendrily way through my brain.))

Anyway, so I got, but did not take, the crazy job. And also, I think you could say Professor Cute Butt and I are kinda sorta dating. (Sure, it helps that I’m now not moving two states away. Obvi.) Get this, there was a FOREHEAD KISS, people. Like we had a lunch date at the park, and were looking arm in arm out at the view, and before I knew what was happening, he planted a kiss on my forehead. My forehead. And you all know what a forehead kiss means (well, with someone you have good real kisses with too – forehead kiss in place of good real kisses is just BadNews). I think he might actually like me like me? Huh. 🤔

But of course, one of my very first thoughts after the forehead kiss and subsequent inner cartwheel somersaults, was, “Uh oh, will this kill my blog?” But no, I’m being serious: what if I get happy? Happiness kills all forms of art, you know. (And yeah, I know it’s a bit of a stretch to call this sh!t you’re reading “art” but humor me this once.)

My point is: This peaceful, easy feeling does not bode well for my (imaginary) book deal, y’all. I mean, other than Michael Franti, who the F writes when they’re happy?!

Oh sh!t, you know who, don’t you.

I remember now.

The Eagles.

God damn it, I hate the f*%^ing Eagles, man.

dating, humor, personal writing

the puppy and the squirrel

I hate to disappoint you but ‘the puppy and the squirrel’ is not going to be a heart-warming tale of interspecies love – nah, I just like the title. And I will be talking about both a squirrel and a puppy here. So things could be worse. (Things, in fact, ARE worse. Far far worse. Out There, in the Real World. But here in Pollyanna Savage la-la land, puppies and squirrels is where we’re at, people).

First, I am 98.9% sure I did not get that out of state job. And you know what? Today, I am relieved. While it was sort of a dream job for me, I am too old and infirm (for reals, but I’ll get to that) to uproot my life and move across not one but two state lines for a job. So, yeah, I feel some relief.

But yesterday. Yesterday was another story. Here’s where the squirrel comes in.

Well, before we get to the squirrel even, you must know that one reason I feel I did not get a job offer is because of my leg. I’ll explain. I’m several months post-op (of my umpteenth major surgery, some congenital issue, blah blah blah) and still struggling with a lot of chronic pain and functional limitations. I was just starting to be able to do things like go grocery shopping (and go to TARGET, y’all!), and after not having been able to do stuff like that for almost a year and a half, I was THRILLED. Consumerism, FTW!

Enter Esmerelda. (Not her real name, but I’m liking it already.)

Esmerelda is – no, not the squirrel, we’re not there in our tale quite yet – a very young (why do all people under 30 look pre-pubescent to me now?!) physical therapist who stood in for my regular (older, more experienced) physical therapist a couple days prior to The Big Interview. She was well-meaning, but my god, she pushed my leg too far – literally. I feel like I heard it. It is not Esmerelda’s fault, really – she was just trying to do her job, pushing down on a knee that hasn’t been able to straighten for a year and a half (you know how it is).

But two days after seeing her, I was at the job interview and the Esmerelda Effect hit its peak. My pain skyrocketed up several notches on the old (ridonculous) pain scale (have you seen that thing – those faces just scream “SCIENCE!”). So much pain I actually had to cut my full-day interview short. I mean, what holy grail of interview faux pas is that!? The experts tell us all the tips – make eye contact with the interviewer, remember their name, say yes to their glass of water offer, be yourself – but not, oh I don’t know, CUT THE INTERVIEW SHORT AND GO HOME.

So on my long drive back across two state lines, I just ruminated – there is no way I will ever get the dream job now. My damn leg gets in the way of my life, again. And Esmerelda.

OK. Here’s where we get to the squirrel.

So I’m all feeling sorry for myself because no word on the job days after the committee met to make their decision. I’m in the midst of a little pity party on my patio when all of a sudden a squirrel drops from the sky (okay, a tree). My cat runs for it, and is stopped short by her leash (I already mentioned to you guys that I walk my cat on a leash?). But the squirrel only looks at my cat lunging at him and squiggles a bit but does not run away.

I go to investigate.

The squirrel does not run away when I approach him either. He tries, but he’s hurt. His back legs. Was he hit by a car or mangled by an animal and managed to just get up that one tree? I don’t know, but he’s not about to get back up that or any tree.

A Real Woman might have been like, OK, we know what we have to do! Get him to a vet – OR – we will put on our Big Girl Pants and somehow put this poor little guy out of his – ACK – I cannot even finish that sentence, let alone contemplate the act, however merciful it might be. A Real Woman might have done the merciful thing. Me? I burst into tears. Like full bore tears. Outside, in public, in the common area of my apartment building. I tell myself I am going to give the poor squirrel space. But I’m the one who needs a little space.

I related to the squirrel. He couldn’t get very far. He was struggling. His poor legs! The flies were already starting to perch on his back, the goddamn vultures. And given I’m too squeamish to do anything useful in this situation, we – the squirrel, the cat, the flies, and I – all of us knew: the squirrel was going to die.

OK, I hear it too. Melodramatic.

Are you ready for the puppy part of the story yet?

Yeah, me too.

Enter Professor Cute Butt. (He’s not the puppy – wait for it!) We had our fourth date the other night, and, you know, I think it’s going pretty well.

But then he texts me saying he had some news he wanted to share but he’d rather do so on the phone, are you around? I could hear my heart in my ears.

He is calling to dump your sorry a$$!, Inner Voice adds, helpfully.

I text back right away. (OMG you guys – I just checked my text history: Prof. CB texted yesterday at 12:17pm. My response? Also 12:17pm.) Okay, maybe I am a bit jumpy, yeah? In any case, I say I’m around now, and he calls.

I answer on the first ring, “What’s up!?”

Prof. CB says, “Oh, so we’re not going to do the small talk thing first?”

I laugh (hehe) and indulge him, heart bracing, mind racing. HE IS GONNA SAY SAYONARA.

“I just wanted to call to tell you by phone rather than text. The boys and I have been on the waitlist for a puppy for a very long time. I feel like it’ll help them to have a puppy. They’ve wanted one since, you know, the divorce. Anyway, we just got off the waitlist. So, um, we are getting a puppy…. next week.”

We both wait to hear what I am going to say.

Still certain this is segue to sayonara, I attempt a gracious, “Oh, okay, congratulations! That’s great! A puppy, wow!”

The Professor: “Well, I told my therapist this puppy was going to ruin my social life, and…. uh, since you’re kind of my social life these days, I wanted to let you know. Cuz it sort of, um, complicates things?”

We discuss. A puppy is not like a cat, you see. The cat poops and pees in a box inside the house. It’s very convenient not being on bathroom duty all the time. Like, I can leave my cat in my apartment overnight. I can go out for long stretches. I can (and do) take her out on a leash, but I DO NOT HAVE TO. That’s what I’m saying. Puppies? Yeah, not so much.

What does this really mean? All I hear in Professor Cute Butt’s call was: words words words BUH-BYE! words words words. So I tell him, ever-accommodating, “We’ll figure it out!”, then added, as an insecurely-attached girl is wont to do, “That is, if you want to figure it out…?”

“I wouldn’t be calling you otherwise, silly!” He doesn’t actually say “silly” but that’s the tone. Like, DUH!

Then he adds, “My therapist was trying to be helpful and said that a puppy doesn’t mean you can’t meet up with people and go for walks. But he doesn’t realize that the person I’m thinking of, well……” He trails off, but he doesn’t need to complete that sentence. We both know: I am not someone who can just “go for walks.” Not with this leg.

We hang up. I am bummed out. The puppy. The squirrel. I’m the squirrel. Enter the puppy. Exit the squirrel, on a quiet little squirrel stretcher. No, not really, but yeah, you can tell I was a little existentially flummoxed.

Waiting for the other shoe* – or squirrel, as the case may be – to drop straight out of the sky. That’s just what I do. (Well, that and delivering on my promise to you of mixed metaphors, jeez.)

Anyway, enter my ever-wise bff. While we’re deconstructing, you know, Everything, she points out – well, he values you enough to consider the impact of a puppy on you guys? And he CALLED you to tell you? After only 4 dates? Um, yeah, I wouldn’t worry about it.

And when I think about it this way, it even starts to make me a little happy. Maybe I’m not the squirrel. Maybe I get the job, maybe I don’t. Maybe the sky isn’t falling, is what I’m getting at.

So here we are, dear Reader: we started with a sad squirrel story. We ended with a happy puppy story.

How do they go together, pray tell?


See? Done. These two things are totes related.

Now, moving on. Hopefully not to a little squirrel funeral though. Wait, what? You wouldn’t want to accompany me to a little squirrel funeral?


*No actual shoes were harmed in the making of this post. (Only your brain as you tried to follow my, um, logic.)