It feels so damn good to be drawing again lately. Just to be putting some shit out there! I was looking at these pictures the other day of me drawing and writing as a kid and it killed me. Look at that face. Do I look like I give a fuck about anything ANYTHING other than having fun and making stuff?
Somehow I let that feeling get away from me. I started to think about whether my art was good enough, or meant something, or was valuable, or was well received or served some greater purpose. I allowed fear and doubt and laziness and stupidity to keep me from doing something I loved.
And how ridiculous at this point, when neither my education nor my career is based on art to be worried about any of that. Creating is the point. The whole point. It makes me feel more human to step outside of my own mind and make something new.
I see things in an unusual way, I make unlikely and interesting connections between unrelated things. This is what makes me an artist. When I don’t chose an avenue to channel this energy I end up diverting it into myriad worthless, pointless pursuits. Anytime I’ve done something really ridiculous or doggedly chased things I know to be bad for me I feel like perhaps the reason is because I was not nurturing the creative side of myself. If I’m not being passionate about creating, I focus all that energy into destruction.
Right now I am loving the time and ability that I’ve been granted to draw and write whatever I like. In this moment I am simply enthralled by the process of art making. And equally as important, I am content in the knowledge that the joy it brings me is enough.
All of my life I wanted a dog so badly I couldn't stand it. Gommy had a dachshund named Suzie for 16 years, who died when I was around 4 years old. She was so heartbroken over the loss that she vowed NEVER AGAIN to have another dog. I felt that this decision was completely unfair. Why should I be punished because Suzie hadn’t lived forever? Thus began my 5 year mission to pester, cajole, plead, beg and rant my way into being a dog owner. I plastered my room with pictures of dogs, I watched every dog show on TV and I talked about dogs incessantly. I remember once when I was in first grade Purina posted a billboard up at our school that had a picture of a little boy hugging a Labrador with a message in the margin – The 5 Reasons Why Every Kid Should Have a Dog. I marched my 6 year old self right into the principal’s office and asked if I could reserve the poster after it was time to take it down. I was so thrilled the following month, when I was able to unroll it and cover the wall of my bedroom with this brilliant edition to my campaign.
On my 9th birthday, Gommy and Granddaddy finally caved and bought me a puppy, a little mini (supposedly) dachshund we named Schotsi. I was so happy, I actually wept with joy. Unfortunately my elation was slowly wiped out over the next few months and replaced with the realization that Schotsi was, in fact, the dog from hell.
While she was paper trained very quickly, when the time came for Schotsi to transition to the outside world, things went sour pretty quickly. Now, sometimes I understand when dogs have a hard time with housebreaking but in our case, Schotsi had 2 doggie doors and a huge fenced in yard to do her business. This really shouldn’t have been much of a problem, but every day Schotsi would go outside and play, then walk in the house and poop and pee right in front of the door. Over the next 2 years we tried every strategy on earth to try and get her to go to the bathroom outside – negative/positive reinforcement, trainers, books, chemicals you put on the grass, suppositories, puppy pads and crate training, all to no avail.
And that wasn’t the only problem. Schotsi was a chewer. She chewed on everything and I mean EVERYTHING. The corners of all the furniture in the house, the wallpaper off the walls, all shoes, books, jewelry, clothes, posters…anything she could get her paws on. Even at 2 years old, she was insatiable. As if these problems weren’t enough, she was not a nice dog. She was sulky and moody and she didn’t particularly care much for women – especially me. It was incredibly heartbreaking. Finally one day she snapped at me for no reason and Gommy decided we’d had enough of this demonic, demented beast. We put an ad in the paper explaining the situation and she was adopted by a wonderful family who took in abused animals and so had endless reserves of patience for animals behaving badly.
I cried for weeks and felt really awful about the entire experience, Gommy was really comforting through my whole grieving process. We all felt miserable because the dog experiment had ended as such an epic failure. So after that, I pretty much gave up the idea that I would ever have a dog again. I was too wounded to even consider bringing up the possibility that we would ever try to make this work with another dog.
About 4 years later, I was going through yet another break up with my high school boyfriend. I was sitting at the table moping with Gommy and Granddaddy about the whole thing. Granddaddy had never cared much for Nick and so he was jokingly trying to barter me out of my sorrow. “Okay, should we take you to Disney, will that get you over him? Could we pay you? How much money will ensure that Nick doesn’t come back into our lives?” In this mood of silly scenarios, I made a half hearted stab at the dog issue again, I smirked at him and said, “Well there is one thing, you know a pet dog would really help heal this broken heart. Taking it for walks would definitely get my mind off of boys for a while.” Gommy and Granddaddy gave each other a weird amused look and Granddaddy said, “Should we tell her?” Gommy tried to argue her way out of it, but of course I demanded to be let in on the secret. Granddaddy went in the other room and pulled a crumpled piece of paper out of the garbage can. It was a classified ad featuring a 4 year old dachshund beagle mix named Sammie. He said he had seen it a few days before and he and Gommy had discussed maybe reconsidering their position on pets, since this dog sounded so perfect for us.
Well that settled it. I passionately insisted we call the very next morning. The following afternoon we met the Folk family and their dog Sammie. The first time I saw her I walked to their sliding glass door in the living room and she ran up to bark at me. I thought she was the most adorable dog I’d ever seen, with her tan face, black nose and big light brown eyes. I opened the door and she raced inside straight to the cat’s food bowl. Paula, her owner, offered to let me take her for a walk. Sammie went insane when I put the leash on her, and as soon as we were out the door she tore through the neighborhood like a maniac. I swear, Sammie was small but she could tear your arm off on a walk.
When we got back Paula talked a little bit about her, and why she needed to give her away. Her new job meant she didn’t have time to be home and Sammie was very needy. She also laughingly explained why Sammie was named as a boy, apparently her son was going through a phase in which everything was named Sammie. She told us another girl had come by to see her, a college student, but she worried she wouldn’t have the time to really give Sammie the attention she wanted. We assured her that Sammie would be given constant attention at our home. Gommy and Granddaddy never leave the house so they are the perfect pet owners. Paula cried a little and decided that we should take her. We assured her and her son that they were very welcome to come by and visit her at any time (a suggestion they actually took us up on a few years later).
And then we took my baby home, and she became the most wonderful uplifting part of our family. She was absolutely the best dog our family could have hoped for. She loved people, she loved cuddling and going for walks, she didn’t chew, or knock over the trash, or go to the bathroom inside – the notable exception being if she was pissed at you. If any of us left her alone for too long, she would go into the bedroom of the last person who left and poop in the doorway.
She had the most hilarious personality. She loved to chase lizards on the patio and specifically wanted you to watch her doing it. She would bark to get you outside and then begin her pursuit, looking back occasionally for approval. It cracked me up every time as did her treatment of visitors. She was very loving and friendly with guests when they came over, but as soon as they got up to leave, she would chase them to the door nipping at their heels as they left.
Another one of my favorite things about her was she would lay next to you while you watched TV and chew on her toenails, periodically holding her paw out to examine them before resuming her nibbling. I also loved, as many pet owers do, coming home and seeing her reaction. She would get so excited when we walked in the door that she would race from the living room, through the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and shoot out of the utility room. She would race this lap about 4 times, knocking every floor rug across the room. She was such a delight to have in the house, always coming into whatever room you were in and sitting right next to you. I would pet her for a while, and then pretend like I was stopping in disinterest. She would frantically wag her tail and lick my hands, while nosing her head under my palm to convince me to keep going.
She was such a beautiful part of my life, and she fulfilled this deep need I had to share a glowing experience with a beloved family pet. Gommy always hated it that I had to go off to college after only a few years with her, since she really was the most perfect dog for me. But in the time that I lived at home, I cherished her so much - taking her for walks, giving her treats and singing her silly songs. And whenever I came home from school she was there to greet me as though I’d never left. On my wedding day, after I had put the curlers in my hair, I laid down on the bed and cuddled with her for a long time, telling her what a good doggie she was and how I was sorry she couldn’t come live with me here. I have no doubt she felt exactly the same way, although I couldn’t have pried her away from Granddaddy with a crowbar. :o)
Most recently when I moved home for the past month, she was such a comfort to me going through such a scary time with the family. She missed Gommy and Grandaddy terribly, and I was so glad to be there to pet her and care for her as she trembled with sadness, keeping her eyes trained on the door waiting for Gommy to come home. I took her to Gommy’s rehab center the day before she left, and she was so well behaved and so happy to see Gommy. All the nurses were so proud of her and Gommy was so relieved to have her little girl there, even for a few hours.
Years ago Gommy and I had read an article in the paper where a woman had lost her dog and then bought a new one to replace her pet. When the dog was found by new people, the original family said they could keep it since they’d already gotten a new one. Gommy said, “Have you ever heard anything so awful?” Playing devil’s advocate, I said, “Well what would happen if we were in that situation?” “We would have two dogs,” she said, without hesitation. For years I joked that I was going to hide Sammie and fake her disappearance until we got a new pet, then we could have two dogs at once.
I had a dream about Sammie a few days ago. I walked into the kitchen and she was there with another dachshund that had somehow wandered into our yard. Gommy walked into the front door and I was completely stunned to see her. She said, she was walking now and had been released from Ocean View. She asked me what the deal was with the two dogs and I explained that Sammie had let her in. Gommy shrugged and said, “I guess we have two dogs now then.” But when I looked at Sammie, I understood that she was going to pass away soon, and she was trying to prepare us for the loss. When I woke up I told Robbie I hoped the dream was a sign that Gommy was going to recover.
This morning Granddaddy came home and she was lying under the hedge in the front yard, he reached down to pet her and he stretched out, breathed a sigh and was gone. I’m so sorry he had to see her go, but so relieved that she wasn’t alone and was instead with the person she loved most in this family.
Sammie, my darling, you will be missed forever. Thank for being my dog and my friend, I love you so much.
(written in my blog October 29, 2007)
As far as heightened expectations, I’ve never been a person who took disappointment very well. At times in the past I’ve been utterly disappointed in everyone around me, myself included as well as the human race in its entirety. But as I’ve said many times, when the same feelings arise time and time again and you keep blaming everyone around you it’s time to take a good hard look at yourself. It’s not them baby, it’s YOU.
In my Jennie mind I have an endlessly running idea of THE WAY THINGS SHOULD GO and when they don’t go that particular way, when more than likely I havenâ™t even explained the criteria to anyone else, I feel angry and disillusioned. Over the past few years I’ve been combating this issue by taking the time to explain to everyone what I want and need to be satisfied. But recently I’m recognizing that this is not the solution, it’s just a band aid for the issue. What I really need is to change this part of my thought process. I need to completely abandon any perceptions I have about things and then just enjoy moments for what they are. I can no longer allow these seeds of discontent to take root in my heart and ruin otherwise happy circumstances.
Current thoughts: I’m still working on this, it’s so hard to eliminate those characteristics that are firmly entrenched in your personality. I have to constantly remind myself to stop putting myself and everyone on the rack for everything. We’re all human, we all make mistakes. It’s unavoidable and it’s okay.
On a side note, I'm working on updating my journal to include everything written in the last 7 years that was not already digitized and tagged. I'm not sure if lj shows backdated entries in your friends page. So if you see any weird entries about Justin or classes I took as a freshman, that's why.
More to come very soon.