Goodbye, fare thee well


Bodhi spent a lot of time looking out at the world. He was always waiting for someone, it seemed, to arrive. Or maybe watching someone leaving, long after they’d gone.

I’ve been struggling for several weeks now, wanting to post things, but not wanting to post them here. The thing about here is, that I made this blog for Bodhi, and it seems wrong to keep going after he’s gone. It seems wronger to try to change the name and move forward. And so I’ve decided to end this blog here. As some of you may have noticed, I’ve started another visual blog bookspastandfuture, which is just me posting about books I have read, want to read or am reading. I’ve decided to go back to an old blog that I used to have that somehow fell by the wayside (as sometimes happens when you attempt split your one life into two lives). If you are interested, follow me there, it’s InsolitaVita.

Here’s one last Bodhi. Don’t worry. He’ll be watching for you.



Carpe Diem

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W.H. Auden

Today, I heard that a friend died. In my life, I have to say, I’ve been largely untouched by death. Of course people I have known died, but not too many people close to me. My grandparents died when I was pretty young, and I hardly knew them because we moved with the Army in those days. And I heard of a few deaths from people I went to school with, but I heard long after I was gone from there and long since I had known them.

My sweet Rottweiler, Detta, was really my first major death. I had her for 13 years, since she was just a ball of fur, and it hit me hard. She died of cancer, and my dad had recently been diagnosed, and that just made it that much harder.

And then my dad died. He’s been gone since 2007 and still sometimes I’m caught short, wanting to call him, to share some news with him, to ask him something.

And of course, there is the quite recent death of Bodhi, a stalwart and near constant companion for the last nine years. You know all about him, so I won’t go into that.

Tonight I found out a close friend died. And this poem was the first thing that popped into my head. I tried to shake it – it didn’t seem quite right. I remember John Hannah reciting it at the funeral of his partner in Four Weddings and A Funeral and I thought, that’s not me at all. We hadn’t built a life together, we didn’t have the history that that poem speaks to…and yet.

Here’s to the grief of the never-to-be, the sorrow of the I-was-going-to.

To the pain of could-have-been, the remorse of the wish-I-would-have.

Here’s to the plane not taken, the call not made.

To the time not spent, to the press of the mundane.

If you are reading this, there’s a good chance I love you. This is my reminder (to me, and yes, to you) to step out, people, take the leap. Do the thing, whatever it is. Don’t wait.

And remember this poem, by Shel Silverstein.

Listen to the mustn'ts









Heavy sigh

Today, WordPress let me know that it had been 3 months since I posted Bodhi has left the building. I can hardly believe it has been so long. I still find myself expecting him when I come home, while I’m waking up, or when I’m falling asleep. I look for him when I cut vegetables, when I have a tasty tidbit I know he’d love. I think of him when I vacuum, when I come home late, and when a doorbell rings on the soap I watch. I think of him too whenever I water the lemon tree I planted in his name.


Some might say that my life is easier these days. My days no longer revolve around his eating and going outside. I no longer need someone to take care of him during the day or if I go on a trip. Last week I found myself out late unexpectedly, but there was no need to worry that he’d be home alone too long. Some might expect that to feel freeing, instead it only made my loss stand out that much more starkly.

I am still burning practically all my food, and find myself standing in the middle of a room about twice a day, not remembering what I was doing or why I am standing in that room. I bang some part of my body nearly every day, and have dropped, broken and spilled so many things I’m not even surprised any longer.

When I go for a run, I have a feeling like I’ve forgotten something the whole way. I actually run a little faster, a little freer without Bodhi, but it seems like cheating, and I usually push myself harder when I notice it. I go for a lot fewer runs, too. In part that’s because I hurt myself recently and had to stop running altogether, but part of it is also that it feels wrong to run without Bodhi. After his heat stroke, I remember how hard it was to leave him at home when I went out, how eager he would be to come with me, how eager he was to be with me when I got home. 

I remember back in the day my mom would say to me, “But why are you depressed? What is so bad in your life?” I didn’t always have an answer for her, as you know, depression is an dirty bastard and doesn’t need a good reason to show it’s face. These days, I have a reason. I miss Bodhi. He’s gone on without me and I’ll never see him again. Further, October is the anniversary of my father’s birthday and death, followed quickly by Veteran’s Day, another sad day for remembering him. They’ve been heavy, these three months.

The world’s most perfect prefab cookie

The world’s most perfect prefab cookie

Junk food, eating out and sleeping at odd intervals have been my coping methods these last three months, and, I gotta tell you, they just don’t help the way you’d think they would. In fact, it’s started a nasty cycle of further bad feelings once I find myself in a sugar stupor. I’ve been heavy too, these three months. I loved Bodhi well, and he loved me even better. I think maybe now I’m ready to put him down. Good bye, my friend.

Bodhi’s actual tree

Bodhi’s actual tree

Bodhi has left the building

Bodhi by the door

On July 20th, 2010, Bodhi had a heatstroke. He was a nutty, anxious, active dog before the incident, and continued to be nutty and anxious after it was over, although a bit less active. In fact, for about the first year, I couldn’t even walk him any more. If you’ve followed our journeys here you’ll know that we moved, first from Minnesota to Boston (Lowell, actually), and then trekked all the way across the country to San Francisco. He’s had ups and downs, lots of little illnesses and great improvements in his anxiety levels. He’s been a good dog, really, in some ways *gasp* better than the amazing Detta to whom he was compared for too many years.

Bodhi is a good cuddler, when giving the opportunity. He is so relaxed when he’s relaxed, his whole body just melts into the furniture, or your legs, or whatever he’s on.

Bodhi takes over the chair )

He doesn’t care too much when you are eating, although nowadays he gets more interested as I finish a meal (I have *no* idea why that happens). He’s good on the leash and has been for a long time. He’s good with other dogs, even when some small dog is intent on killing him, he stands, patient, until you dislodge said dog. He is great about alerting you to when he needs to yark, so that, as often as he yarks, he has only done it in the house a few times over the years. He’s quiet (when not egged on by smaller, yappier dogs), too.

And since the….

Well, I started this a few days ago, when Bodhi really started to go downhill. I don’t know why I stopped where I did, but I can tell you that not long after, less than 24 hour later, Bodhi was gone.

While I was waiting for the housecall vet to come and put him out of his misery, I listened to Good Dog, Stay by Anna Quindlen. It’s a fabulous book that I have heard before, not too long after Detta died. It’s not very long, and it really captures, for me, what it’s like to love a dog and let that dog go.

good dog stay

While I was looking for this housecall vet, I had to make the same phone call over and over again, and following what I saw on the websites, I asked about the process of euthanasia at home for a dog. Midway through these calls, someone who cares about me called (for some other reason) and when she asked if I was ok, I blurted out, “I just realized I need to have Bodhi put down” amid sobs. I felt a little guilty about this later, as I was finishing my calls and calling it euthanasia again, like somehow it was a bad thing to say. “Put down” sounded like something so negative. But then Anna came to the part in the book where she talks about that phrase – and how apropos it is to say that you come to a point where you have to put your dog down.


Bodhi lived a pretty good life, with minimal me completely losing my cool with him, good food, lots of exercise and even several years living with a pack of dogs who he loved to be with. And although I’ll always carry a part of him in my heart, I know it was right to put him down when I did. 

Bodhi and max 20131126_130947bodhi and max

Bodhi with best friend Max

bodhi and madam 20140125_144705

Bodhi and Madam

Bodhi in my lap 0113122255

You can’t quite tell, but he’s in my lap here…

Bodhi s taken over the chair

Bodhi takes over my chair

Bodhi kept trying to catch what Bob was shoveling,

Bodhi “gets” the snow!

happy mothers day bodhi may 9 2010

He was sweet even when I was away (thanks Rumi)

me n bodhi greenway

‘Tis the Season?

The other day I wrote a long, sad email about all the ways I feel bad in my life. When I was done, it was a large, solid block of text, no indentations, no paragraphs, just words. Ugh.

Before sending that on to the person who willingly reads such malarky from me, I stopped, and wrote a gratitude list (something that she and I do to support each other), because I knew complaining all my complaints was not actually helping my mood one bit. By the time I was done with that, I didn’t feel as much like sending that letter.

And then the next day I felt a tiny bit better. Hooray!!!

But today I am back to ugh. I don’t know why I can’t stop myself from feeling this.

Hahahahhaahahahaha. That’s crazed, maniacal laughter, there. That’s hilarious, right, that I am trying to stop my feelings of hopelessness with…I dunno, thoughts of how bad I suck at doing that?

Some days, not sunshine, nor puppies, nor years of education can hold back the nothing.

the nothing

The Big Bad D

Depression is bad, you know. It’s sneaky, too, and deceptive.


The thing about depression isn’t just that it makes people feel sad. I mean, of course, that’s the symptom that everyone knows about, and the one that for some strange reason prompts people to think of depression as something silly, that people can fix on their own, or talk themselves out of. Read this fabulous rant about it here.


634-AngryTeenGirl.220w.tnIf it isn’t enough to have people tell you that it’s about some bad habits, depression shows up in other ways, too. Working in the field, I’m well aware of some of the ways it shows up in kids, for instance. In young kids, it shows up as “behavioral” problems, and sometimes somatic symptoms, things like stomach aches. In teens it can show up as irritable mood.


I’ve written about the way I experience it before, which you can find here and here.


All this is to say that depression isn’t new to me. And yet, I still find myself surprised when I have difficulty concentrating, and staying focused. I’m surprised when I find that I don’t enjoy things that I used to enjoy. I find myself pulling away from people who care about me, and then I’m surprised that I feel sad and lonely when they are gone. I find myself irritable for no apparent reason, tired when I’ve slept plenty and having stomach aches. I’m surprised when studying doesn’t seem to sink in.



It’s sneaky, that depression, and it creeps up on you.


Anyone know where I can rent a kangaroo?


It’s my birthday!

I have always been a kind of “it’s my birthday month!” kind of person. I have been known to remind people all year round, in fact, of the exciting day at any time of year. I used to post on FB items that might make a great birthday present, reminding people that it was only 6 months away and it was never too soon to buy. Not that I really expected to receive hundreds of gifts – nor did I. I considered it fun – or funny, even, to let the world know what I wanted.

Like this beauty I saw for the first time last year

Like these beauties I saw for the first time last year

This year, I’ve found myself flummoxed twice when someone asked me about a gift for my birthday. I couldn’t think of what to say and really, didn’t answer either person with a very direct response. I think part of the reason is because I’m really feeling the strain of the end of grad school (read: educational poverty) and I have many things on my “Wish List” which seem to me to be necessary items. Like shoes. Or car repair. Or glasses.

lems primal

Dude. They’re zero-drop and I can wear them to present!

I decided to set about making a wish list that I could share with people. It was really hard to do. It caused me a lot of brain energy, wondering what to put on the list, adding things and then deleting them over and over again (all this while I was studying, you understand). And then last night it came to me – I remembered/realized why making a list was so hard!

birthday list 0

While I used to laugh and joke about what people could buy me, in real life, telling someone what I want for a gift is actually the LAST think I want to do.

Here’s why:

In my family, my mother had a real thing about gifts. There is a long (probably apocryphal) story about my father’s first gift to my mother, which was disdained by my mother (for cultural reasons that my father could not have possibly guessed). Since that first, fateful gift, my mother made it a habit to tell my father, and even her children, what to buy for her. I remember gathering up my babysitting money at 12 years old to pay for a portion of a shoe and purse pair (sharing the cost with my sister and probably my father) that my mother requested.

Till the day he passed away, my father never bought a gift for her (as far as I know) without her direct (or indirect via one of us kids) approval.

The older I got, the less I liked this, although I surely understood his point of view. I remember my mother’s response when I brought something I’d made at school to give as a Mother’s Day gift – “What is that, anyway? Huh. Dust catcher.” Yeah, who wants to risk that kind of response?

Some mother’s like them, apparently...

Some mothers like them, apparently…

But I did, occasionally, give my father a hard time about it. I’d ask him how many years he had been buying gifts for her (40 years) and then run down a list of her strong likes/dislikes. Then I’d encourage him to choose something he thought she’d like. But he never did.

Even now, when she is “forced” to engage in Secret Santa or some such gift giving thing at work or church, she tells people to wrap a gift for a child for her, so that she can then give it, un-opened, to some child at her church.


After leaving home, though, I had a friend who bought me a book by an author I’d never even heard of, and I loved it. She knew my tastes well enough to find something for me that I didn’t even know existed yet was completely engaging to me. And other friends repeated that amazing feat, time and time again. A friend I haven’t seen in years has sent me fabulous gifts from Italy. One friend knows how to pick the perfect shirts for me. One far away friend has delighted me every year since I left MN with treats and surprises that quickly become parts of my every day life.

On the one hand, I can understand not wanting to receive things that you don’t want or like. I do. But when I compare that to the absolute DELIGHT that comes from receiving a gift that makes you feel like the other person really knows you…well, that just seems silly. Those are my favorite gifts. The ones that called out to you, when you saw them, that they would be perfect for me. They are things I would never buy for myself, and am delighted to own anyway. They are things that may or may not actually arrive on my birthday or any other holiday, which suddenly and immediately become irreplaceable. So there you go, that’s my wish list.


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