Friday, September 21, 2007

To say nothing of the dog

Well, yesterday we got an errand out of the way and returned home, intending to grab a couple of items, walk the dog and go grab a bite to eat.

Um. Yes. About the dog. The elderly, stressed by the boxes and confusion dog.

The dog I put into his crate before we left to run the errand because he's stressed and clingy and crate=den=good in dog tribe parlance.

The dog who apparently had soothed himself at some point yesterday by eating a wodge of my LUSH brand handmade soap.

I will leave the details to your entirely too vivid imaginations, but suffice it to say by the time we had cleaned things up and reassured the unhappy dog neither of us felt up to going out to eat.

So the dog, he got no supper last night and I got no sleep as someone needed to be within earshot in the event of further disaster. The dog he got Peptobismol, but Do. Not. Want. So he got cuddled and apologised to and then had a tricksy mean TwoLegs shove a baby medication syringe in his mouth and force the issue.

And the dog, he got no breakfast. And more Pepto. And he was very sad. Plus, the boxes and the confusion are still around.


This evening, since symptoms had been under control for almost 24 hours, the dog he got plain cooked white rice. Jest a leetle bit, you know, and some careful watching. And then-

And then the dog he got plain cooked white rice and canned PUMPKIN. Which dogs thought was pretty damn fine.

He's mostly back to normal, and the bland diet will continue for a few days just in case.

But, CANNED PUMPKIN, yay, says the dog. Tomorrow there will be rice and pumpkin and some plain canned chicken. He will think he's in heaven. Despite the boxes and the confusion and stuff.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Why Doesn't She Just Leave?

Whenever the subject of domestic abuse is under discussion, eventually the pnrase 'why didn't she just leave?' will get tossed into the mix.

Not helpful. Seriously not helpful. If you haven't enough life experience or empathy to figure the answer out on your own, let me repeat here something I said in comments over on Feministe. (You are reading Feministe, right?) (Note to self: blog roll.)

I have a simple response to the ‘why didn’t she just leave?’ crowd.

Imagine, as an exercise, that someone is going to walk in here right now and put a gun to your head and tell you that in one month you have to be living in a completely new life. You must accomplish this with no extra funds beyond what you have to hand right this minute.

You can tell anyone you like what you are doing and ask for help. But, if the guy with the gun finds out about it, he will come and shoot you.

You can continue to go to work, but at any time for the rest of your life, if the guy with the gun decides to, he will come and shoot you. Likewise, if you have kids, they can continue to attend their present schools and sports and social activities- unless and until the guy with the gun decides to come and shoot you.

Church? Same deal. Your family and friends? Same deal.

If at any time while you are getting ready to go the guy with the gun can tell you are planning to leave or see any evidence of your actually doing anything towards leaving- bang.

Now, by nefarious means, it seems the guy with the gun has managed to get his name on your bank account. Your credit cards. He has, in fact, complete and free access to your entire life. He’s going to be coming and going from your home with impunity.

Call the cops? Okay. Maybe they’ll believe you. But unless they take him away to jail and keep him there- well, you know where this is going by now.

Now, let’s twist this around. Maybe the guy with the gun says he won’t hurt you- if you don’t leave. Or make him mad. Maybe he says he wasn’t serious, maybe he says he was just so upset, maybe he says he’s sorry and he really loves you and it won’t happen again.

And maybe, just maybe, the guy is in fact someone you loved and trusted and he isn’t like that all the time. Maybe he’s usually charming and maybe everyone you know and love and trust think he’s a good guy. Maybe when you try to talk about this little problem they ask you what else was going on, is he stressed at work, are you keeping the house clean and the kids quiet, are you sure you didn’t do or say something that made him angry? Maybe your mother thinks he’s great. Maybe your kids love him.

Maybe she doesn’t leave because she doesn’t know how. Maybe there isn’t anywhere to go, maybe she doesn’t have a support network, maybe her pastor and her boss aren’t as all-fired understanding as the ‘just leave’ crowd suggests. Maybe she can’t afford rent and child care and car upkeep on what she can make alone.

Maybe completely uprooting and re-arranging your life isn’t all that easy after all.

It's easy to armchair quarterback this issue when you don't have a dog in the fight. When it's not someone you love and trust and maybe even made a child or two with, when it's not your family and friends who are asking questions (or not asking questions, like 'what happened to your face?'). When it's not your child who has to be snatched out of the house under cover of darkness and doesn't understand why we can't go home, when it's not you sitting in a rotten chair in a busy police station to explain to a desk cop why you need to file a report- yeah, 'just leave' sounds easy.

It isn't easy to admit that the person you love is hurting you. It isn't easy to accept the idea that there's nothing you can do to make the person you love stop hurting you. It isn't easy to walk away from your entire life. But it would be a hell of a lot easier if people didn't ask questions like 'why doesn't she just leave?' and then not seem to want to actually hear the answers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Move is a four letter word

For perfectly understandable reasons, our landlady wants to move.

Into the house we are living in.

Cue the six stages of moving; shock, denial, searching, panicking, bargaining, and acceptance (also known as a numb resignation which saps the very life from one's already weary limbs).

We have two adult cats, who I love in the 'what the hell possesses you to do that, you damned feline?' way familiar to cat people everywhere. And we have an elderly, loving, beloved not-precisely-small dog. Clancy the WonderGoof is a twelve year old Golden, so not so much with the 'dogs under twenty pounds with agent's approval'.

Renting with pets is a bit like inviting strangers to casually rifle through your wallet. Deposits or flat out non-refundable fees are the order of the day. I can understand the property owners' side of this and I sympathise. Nobody wants their property torn up.

On the other hand telling me it's five hundred dollars non-refundable per pet and then renting your property to three college boys from Boise is a trifle mind-boggling. I promise you, my cats don't smoke pot and my dog has yet to throw a kegger for eighty seven of his closest friends. And none of my pets has ever had to have the police called on them, gotten into a fistfight over a football game on tv or dropped out and moved back to Boise to live with Mom and Dad. It's a trade off.

After three and a half days, nearly one hundred phone calls and a lot of driving around with a very patient friend, we found a place. Now, she said with a hollow laugh, all we have to do is pack and haul everything we own to the next town over.


I moved a lot as a military brat and later as a military wife. I've started over from scratch at least three times in my life, where from scratch is something like two kids under four years old, three suitcases and thirty dollars cash. By any standard I can think of, this is an easy move. I have plenty of time, plenty of help and enough money for all the fees, deposits and general costs.

Yeah, I'm whining about having to do it any way. Our last move involved packers and drivers paid for by the company and still managed to be hellaciously miserable in some fairly major ways.

The rule of thumb I learned at my mother's knee: Four moves equal one house fire. Things will get broken, lost, not fit in the truck, not fit through the new house's door, the list goes on. Moving is putting your life in boxes. It's like triage for your choices on everything from art work to coffee mugs. Everything you own has to be picked up and examined and mentally justified.

One approach is just say to hell with it and take everything. That way madness lies. Trust the woman who once helped move a friend only to discover some of the boxes we were hauling down very steep and narrow stairs had been packed for a previous move- three apartments and two cities ago. Out of kindness to our helpers and our now middle-aged backs we have decided to forego this approach in favor of something a little more measured.

So I am taking the time to go through the shelves and cupboards and pulling out the things I am more or less sure one of us cares enough about to actually bother packing, loading, un-loading and un-packing. I'm pretending we won't have any help and the things we'd move even if we were doing it on our own are going to make the grade. The once amusing coffee mugs? The copies of books bought in airports and never re-read? The supplies for crafts I no longer pursue? They can be donated elsewhere and go to someone who will find them useful.

(As a public service announcement, if you are advertising a property for rent- put pertinent information in the freakin' ad. Answer your phone and return your messages. It should not take prospective renters four phone calls to learn you absolutely will not take pets or that the place was rented out a week ago. And five hundred dollars per pet, non-refundable, on top of first and last months rent, a cleaning fee and a deposit? Plus an application fee for background checks, a credit report and contacting our last three landlords? Good grief. Getting a top secret clearance takes less paperwork.)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Moments of crisis

Himself was working very late. I was up and brooding about - well, frankly, about a mundane personal matter. Brooding for me means clean but outrageous pajamas, about one glass of wine too many, a hand-crafting project just slightly to complicated to permit distraction. Hey, brooding means not sleeping, the least I can do is knit a few rounds on a lumpy sock, right? Brooding is pretty damn useless, so might as well keep the hands busy while the mind grinds away uselessly.

So, I'm trucking along on a sad and lumpy sock (my third ever). Because even if we don't find a house to rent and end up living in a carboard box under the bridge by the community theater*, we will still need socks. Especially with winter coming on.

So, basically it was Artsy Fartsy night down at the Anxiety and Self-Indulgent Corral.

I very nearly didn't answer the phone. I was feeling about as social as a bear with a beehive on her backfoot. But some impulse made me grab it on the last ring.

"Dat you, darlin'?" His Cajun accent, which comes out stronger when he's stressed. Right now he's just barely intelligble. He sounds tired, beaten and sad.

Twentyplus years I've known this man. I know him like no one else does. I cut him no slack, I say the hard things. Watched his romatic life the way the Hurricane hunters study the gulf, knowing that there was a hell ofa storm lurking out there somwhere. Not one of of his wives or girlfriends has ever understood what we are to each other. Sometimes we don't either but we keep drifting in and out of each other's lives.

Underlying all our differences, which are fabled in story and song, are the things we have in common; shared history, a decades long faith in our friendship, pride.

We are both damnably proud.

But tonight he's in a crisis. Shaking in the grip of one of the anxiety attacks he's been having since his last combat turn in Iraq. Doing this where his kids won't see is becoming second nature. Their daddy crying upsets them so he'll lock it down until he can get sometime alone.

He gasps out a shorthand version of what's happening. Between sentences he keeps saying he's sorry to bother me, but I'm all he has, the only one he trusts. He's crying.

I am solidly supportive. I push my love and friendship through the phone for him to wrap up in. I in slip in questions about his welfare, about his and the children's safety. I reassure him that he is not a bad person for not being the perfect model soldier.I talk him down, I get him grounded.

I get confirmation that he has an appointment to be seen by the VA. We compare our litany of aging related health problems- arthritis, bum knees, the bad back he got during a helicopter training episode gone sour. We are neither of us nineteen anymore, I remind him, and he chuckles.

And that's the sound I was waiting for. Not a damn thing has actually changed and his situation is still pretty fucked up. But that irrepressible chuckle, and the way he drawls 'Now,darlin' you did that on purpose' tell me we've won through. No matter how bad tonight gets, there will be a morning.

Some nights its's touch and go. Now we'll do the goodbye dance. He tells me he's never understood why I've put up with his shit for twenty years. Icollect my lightest and airiest voice and reply 'Because I love you, you dope.'

A few moments later, he's hanging up toget some sleep before another day like the one that ground him down so hard he reached for the phone to call me. I continue working on the sad and lumpy sock (now with new stitch tension issues).

Finally Himself somes home and I give him the news. He tells me 'I worry about him.
I wish there were more we could do.' I nod, sleepily.

'Bedtime. World saving and sock knitting and house hunting are hard work. You have to get your rest.'

*House hunting was successful a few days later, because I had fabulous luck and even more fabulous support.The lumpy sock comntinues apace and may actually end up fit to wear by some one not too picky. Kind of like life, really.