Don't stare at me too long or you'll turn to stone

My name is Prince, but you know that. Probably.

You may have heard about me from my mom. She talks a lot. Sometimes too much. She's talking a lot right now about food and The Music Man and there is nowhere for me to run (you'd run, too, if you heard her sing). She always finds me. She's got a knack for that. Her phone, on the other hand, is always lost. Infuriating.

There are strange things happening in my house. Mom cries a lot and then says some funny things to me as she picks me up in her arms like, 'who's my handsome boy?' Seriously? She doesn't know the answer to that? She's dumber than I thought. And she needs glasses.

Do you know where my best friend Tank is? He was here last week and now he's not. His crate and bed are still here and all his toys are still scattered all over the floor - the slob - but Tank is nowhere to be found. Did he decide to visit Grandma and Grandpa without me? Well, that's dumb - doesn't he know it's totally cold up there right now? I already do so much here - now I have to be a meteorologist? My workload is increasing and yet the pay sucks.

I sleep on my side of the bed because Tank gets mad at me if I even have one of my tiny paws on his side. Even when he's not around. It's like he's got this sixth sense, like that Haley Joel kid, but Tank is cuter. And much bigger. Does that make me Bruce Willis? Oh boy. 

Mom takes me on my regular walks and I always look back at the house because Tank likes to watch us from the sliding door to make sure no one messes with us, but I haven't seen him looking out. 

This is getting pretty old, Tank. I promise you can drink from my water bowl whenever you want. Wait, you already do. Fine. I'll let you bark at the UPS guy first. I don't trust that guy. Who wears brown everything? People who have evil on the brain. 

Come out, come out wherever you are, you big lug.

Even the Stepford Wives wouldn't live here because these people are just too much

If it wasn't for this little girl, I'd be in the minivan right now running over my neighbors' bushes. 

My neighborhood doesn't have white picket fences or porches with swinging bench seats - that is much too tame for these folks.

What we do have have are finely manicured lawns and even when one grass blade turns brown, you become an instant pariah. Wreaths hang from front doors all year long. Before moving here, I thought Christmas was the only time people hung up wreaths. Apparently, I'm an idiot. There are wreaths for every occasion and for every month of the year. Apple wreaths, Halloween wreaths, maple leaf wreaths. Someone made a chestnut wreath, but then there were problems with raccoons and it was like Training Day for procyonids.

Halloween is a contest of sorts between homes here. People put out massive inflatables in their front yards and our streets are like a fucked up Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade without the screaming fans and the cheery commentators. 

This year, my neighbors have brought out their Christmas lights and are passing that off as Halloween decorations. They are draping their goddamn lights over tree branches and bushes and standing back and smiling to themselves in wonder.

To this I say - fuck you all! 

What happened to death, skulls and graves? What does Snoopy and Hello Kitty and flashing green lights have to do with Halloween?

I have to go research how to make some fantastically real fake blood, bathe in it and then walk the streets like Carrie and show these people what a good time really is. 

Twist the knife in my heart. Slowly.

I am walking around like a zombie, although I think the undead on The Walking Dead look much better. Their hair? Way better.

I was trying to keep myself busy over the weekend so I wouldn't have to be at home and dwell on Tank. To me, that translated to going to Costco and buying Halloween candy. Fucked up move. I ended up crying in the seafood section. Everyone slowly moved away from me and stared at me from a distance.

I start and stop conversations because words serve as a jumping point for my emotions and right now, I cannot control them. My emotions are rabid and unruly and are waiting to betray me at any time.

Every day, I keep thinking THIS is the day I will finally stop crying, THIS is the day that it won't hurt as much. But then I'll hear a noise, like Tank walking or moving around on his bed, and like phantom pain, I'll feel the pang through my body; I have to clamp my eyes shut before the moment completely destroys me.

I know he's not here and yet, everything around me reminds me of him. Maybe I just shouldn't fight it anymore.

No amount of expletives can describe today

It has been the shittiest of weeks, but today is the worst of all. 

I'm not ready to talk about it, but in true fashion, I am ready to start being an asshole.

All I've wanted to do today is drive down to the local crossfit club, pull out a huge cheeseburger and fries out of a grease-soaked bag and start stuffing my mouth in front of all the physically intense people. And yell out stupid shit like, 'my mom called - she wants her Jane Fonda Jazzercise outfit back!' and 'my toddler could do better burpees than you.'

There was more assholeness rattling around in my brain, but I can't quite form a coherent thought right now.

I am tired, depressed, destroyed and spiritless.

I just want to go to sleep and wake up when my memories of Tank don't cut into me quite so deeply.

 

Where are those superhero powers I'm supposed to have and can I buy them from Amazon?

I've mentioned this a few times here before, but I come back to it over and over again because it's a scene that sticks out from my childhood and because a). Christopher Reeve b). Superman c). sad scenes. . . Superman's pissed that Lois is dead so against Jor-El's warnings to not interfere with history, Superman turns back time because if you've got powers, you better use them.

I wish I could fly and travel around the world in hypersonic speed to affect space and time. I wish I could prevent bad things from happening and shield my kids from ever knowing any pain. But unfortunately, I was born as this lame-ass mortal and my greatest power is probably burping the alphabet - that is, if I had to do it under duress. 

Tank's condition is not improving. He is getting worse. His breathing is labored, His neck is swollen. His energy has disappeared.

Carl stayed up with him all last night while I cried myself to sleep. I've been giving Tank treats when he begs for them because he deserves them. I haven't been able to concentrate on anything; I've spent this past week sitting with the big boy, rubbing his belly, reminding him that he is the best boy ever and that he is so very much loved. I've watched him chase ducks into the lake and some cats into the bushes. Each time, he slowly trots back to me and sits as we stare out to the lake in silence. 

I didn't think Prince had a clue as to what was going on with his best friend, but last night when they were playing, Tank went to lay down on their bed and Prince followed him and put his head on Tank's paws and they fell asleep like that. 

Before we got Tank, we seriously considered finding a different home for Prince. He was aggressive and lunged at us constantly. We don't know what his history was before we adopted him, but he was dumped at a kill shelter when he was only three months old. But I held out hope because he was our family.

Then Tank arrived and Prince became a different dog. A total Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde transformation. What was it about Tank that calmed Prince down so?

And now as the possibility looms that Tank may not be with us for too much longer, I wonder how this will affect Prince. 

A black cloud hangs over our house and there are no super powers to make it go away.

Woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown

I woke up, groggy from another restless night of sleep. My muscles were sore and my back felt like it was a ladder the toddler used as a toy.

We need a new mattress, I told Carl.

We just got this last year, he said.

Maybe I should just buy that life-sized mummy and sarcophagus I saw in the SkyMall catalog? Maybe that'll make me sleep better. 

Carl often leaves me hanging in our conversations.

The day continued as usual: clean the kitchen (read: stare at the dishes and kick dirt under he fridge), yell at the toddler and Prince to get out of the pantry, frown while singing songs with the toddler while she watched Dora, stare at the kitchen window and wonder how my neighbor can run in the middle of the day in this heat.

I started doing laundry because we're at that point where I'm tempted to go buy us all new underwear and something fell down from the shelf in our closet and fell to my feet. It was a card with Diesel's paw print on it. The vet made it for us right before they put him to sleep, right before they ended his incredible suffering, right before we said our goodbyes and Diesel nuzzled my face one final time. 

I dropped the card and ran into the bathroom. Suddenly, I couldn't breathe. Room spinning, walls closing in on me. The sweat soaked my shirt as I leaned against the wall and slowly slid to the floor and cried. 

I thought about the first day we brought Tank home. Prince growled at me and wouldn't even let me pet him. And now Prince and Tank are the best of friends, running around the house, causing havoc and mayhem everywhere they go and sleeping next to each other when the job is done. 

Carl found me and started talking about the Tank's swollen lymph nodes: yeah, he's really sick. I think they're more swollen than before. He. . . 

I shook my head. I couldn't listen to him then. I didn't want to talk about it. This is the imbecile's way of dealing with things. But ignorance is not bliss.

So while we wait to hear back from the vet about Tank's condition, I try to figure out how we're going to tell the kids if it's bad news. 

The eleven-year-old. The news will hit her like a punch to her gut, but she wants everyone to know she's tough, so she'll purse her lips and nod her head. In the solitude of her room, however, her body will shake with sadness.

The toddler will give Tank hugs and insist he take his medicine. She will take her stethoscope to his stomach and ask him to take deep brets

The nine-year-old will be torn apart. The tears will flow freely and Carl and I will feel his agony through his eyes. He will be inconsolable. He still tears up every time he thinks about Diesel.

Fuck. This sucks.

When I hear bad news, my brain seizes up and I think of stupid things

I haven't been in the right frame of mind lately. Distracted, listless, unable to sleep, unable to eat (very strange).

Let me take a step back or two and explain. . . 

It all started last week:

Carl: Did you feel Tank's neck?

Immediately, I felt a pit in my stomach.

No, no, no. This isn't happening.

I went on the interwebs for medical advice because that's what idiots do and researched swollen neck glands in dogs.

Holy fuck it wasn't good. Cancer. Article after article, that's all I saw. Cancer.

No, no, no. This isn't happening.

I closed my eyes and told my self it was just an infection, a really bad infection. I mean, if it was cancer, he'd be weak and not full of energy, right? But here he was, playing with Prince, running everywhere, being my shadow as I walked around the house all day. 

I called the vet and described what was happening with Tank. There was a moment of silence. And then he cleared his throat and asked me: how old is he again? What's his energy level? Is he eating okay? Is he drinking enough water? I wanted to quip that Tank requested beer once in awhile, but the thought got lost in my head somewhere between the vet telling me I need to see Tank immediately and this doesn't sound good.

During the vet's exam, he kept making faces: smirking, grimacing, frowning, furrowed brows, wincing. I almost started crying. 

And then just like that he looked at me and said it's probably cancer. Hopefully it isn't, but those glands are really swollen. I'll know more when the lab results come back, but if it's cancer, there are some options, but it could make him more sick and just prolong the inevitable. . .

It's like he threw an anvil in my face and then stabbed me several times. I clutched the exam table so I wouldn't fall down. And so the vet just talked and talked and I stopped listening. Why was he saying all these things? I needed something positive right now. Not doom and gloom. 

Tank looked up at me with his big black eyes and licked my legs. Luckily, he doesn't judge me on my unshaved state.

How the fuck could Tank have cancer? And then my brain stopped working altogether. He hasn't even had a bath this week. He's never been to the beach before. I never made those homemade doggie cookies I keep promising I'll make. He's only three years old. Maybe I should brush his coat now. Will he let me clean his ears? Where did he put my favorite pair of socks? Should I change my socks right now? Maybe Prince knows. Maybe it's the toddler's fault. I wonder if vodka goes well with coconut ice cream? 

No, no, no. This isn't happening.

The vet said some other stuff about giving Tank antibiotics just in case it was an infection, but I blocked it all out. I walked back into the house with Tank and sat on the stairs with him. I cried as he licked my face and sniffed my socks. He brought over his stinky squeaky toy and dropped it by my feet. 

The kids came home and I had to run upstairs so they wouldn't see me cry. If the lab results come back with cancer, it's the nine-year-old who will be devastated the most. Tank is his closest friend. Sometimes, they just lay next to each other on the kitchen floor and the nine-year-old talks to Tank about his video games and his day at school and I swear, that dog understands everything the kid is saying. 

So now it's the stupid waiting game and I'm not good at waiting.

I'd take credit for saying inappropriate things if I could

The toddler said shit today when she dropped one of her toys on her foot.

Carl immediately glared at me. I looked away, but inside I was proud that she used the word properly.

This week I learned I need to watch what I say and:

The interwebs is an infinite and mysterious place:

  • Twin Peaks is coming back. Wonder if there will be zombies drinking damn fine cup of coffee. 
  • Netflix has Annie streaming now. Are they trying to make relive horrible nightmares from my childhood? 
  • wish I designed this footbridge. Because awesome.
  • if my family could, we'd probably live inside of Deyrolle. It could happen.

Five reasons why today is probably not one of my proudest moments

So I wore a jacket today over my sleeveless dress. It was almost ninety degrees outside, plus South Florida humidity which is shitty. Despite the excessive sweating and the many, many stares I received from people, I persevered. I probably deserve some award. Or food. Or a combination of both. 

It's a good thing my parents don't read my blog.

5. The toddler drew "tattoos" on my arms. They looked phallic and Twinkie-like and I wasn't ready to have that conversation today.

4. There was a tear at the back of my dress I was trying to hide. I should probably get rid of this dress, but it's one of the few things in my small stockpile of clothing that isn't from my maternity days.

3. There was a stain on my dress over my right boob area from breakfast - a wicked combination of mayo and hot sauce. Yes, I said breakfast.

2. I didn't shower. I'm already married - who am I trying to impress these days? No one. 

1. I didn't shave my armpits. The theory that you have to shave everyday is a young person's whim.

Even George Clooney thinks I'm an idiot and doesn't want anything to do with me

Fuck it's hot out here. There are not enough dark sunglasses to block out the sun.

I walk over to George Clooney who's sitting casually on a bench, his legs crossed and wearing a light-colored suit that's reminiscent of something he wore in Ocean's Eleven. Or was it Thirteen? Shit, they're pretty much the same to me. 

He smiles and chats happily with people who walk by and shakes their hands, but when he sees me, a frown takes over his face. I smirk and wave a little wave, but he rolls his eyes and looks away. 

So this is how it's gonna be, Clooney? Really?

I walk slowly because I'm wearing five inch heels and of course the pavement is all cobblestone because this is goddamn Italy and they're old school like that. 

I have to pull up my jeans because in Italy I'm skinny and I'm. . . what's this? I'm wearing super tight skinny jeans. Does my ass still look flat?

So I walk like a penguin towards Clooney - there's no Amal in sight because she's fighting the good fight as a barrister and wearing an itchy, white, but fancy, wig - and he's still being charming towards everyone around him.

I'm ten feet away now, but then, unexpectedly, Clooney stands up and walks right up to me, like he's gonna hug me or play tonsil hockey with me. Either way, I'm confused. But instead, he grips my arm tightly and pulls me in towards him forcefully (et tu, Batman?) and snarls in my ear: don't wear those jeans again. The camel toe is unbecoming.

He lets go of my arm and walks towards Carl where they hug it out like bros and walk down the cobblestone street and into a nearby restaurant.


Something hits me in the face. Hard.

I peel my eyes open. The sun isn't even out yet. The toddler is using my head as a pillow. Again. Watching Netflix on my phone. Look out Mark Zuckerberg. 

Without even opening his eyes, Carl asks me what's wrong.

"I think you're having an affair with George Clooney. And I don't look good in skinny jeans."

"That's nice," he says. "Now back to sleep, Amal."