Archive for November, 2011

I’m full of…what?!

Here’s the thing. I believe there is a distinct difference between the person leaving and the person that doesn’t. As I mentioned before and most of you know, I have moved a lot in my life. Mostly, this means that I was the person leaving, rather than the one being left. In fact…I’m having a hard time just coming up with someone who went away – besides my dad who passed away – which still bothers me, but even that isn’t the same. I mean, yes, he “left” and I was left behind, with my memories, thoughts and missing him. But I didn’t live with my dad at that time. I have a few objects and ideas which remind me of him, some more strongly than others. When those things come to the fore of my mind, I miss him like crazy.

My dad around 1968

In this way, missing him is a lot like missing other people that I left behind.

Being the person that goes away means several things for me. I’ll stick with my current situation, although this has been true for me in many of my moves. I moved to a new town. I had to figure out everything from scratch, as I moved to a place where I didn’t know anyone. I had to find my new place (which was a disaster, but that’s beside the point). I had to find regular things, like the grocery store and pharmacy and I also had to seek out my own geeky things, like where to get my CSA.

Wholesome goodies from Farmer Daves

I started a new job. Although I am doing more or less the same work, I had to learn all the particulars about the clinic I’m now at, paperwork, files, the system for getting new clients, taking transferred clients, closing cases. I had to figure out the office politics and how to suck up to the right people (always make friends with billing, office managers and staff people).

Going back to my horrendous living situation – Bodhi became excessively anxious and this quickly began to take up brainspace and emotional energy. This meant that every move from the house had to be planned so as to limit the time I was gone and the number of times I actually left the house. I could not come and go because that made Bodhi more frantic. Every couple of days I got an insane email from the currents (which is what I called them as roommate didn’t seem to fit at all), more brain drain. Even showering began to be torturous, with Bodhi barking and whining downstairs.

I started looking for a new place after less than a month. That was necessary, but also took up time and effort. I drove lots of miles with an anxious Bodhi meeting new people and checking out spaces. I found a place, and then there was the move to think of. After my move and after I put up my bookshelves (which are large), I discovered that the room I chose for my bedroom was the wrong area. I had to move those dang books – again.

They're getting there...

This is beginning to sound like a lament…but that is not my point at all. My point is that up until about two weeks ago, I haven’t had much energy or time to miss the place I left or even the people I love there. I’m not saying I didn’t think of them or that while I was wandering around discovering the Italian pastry shop I didn’t wish one of my people was with me. Or that there aren’t evenings I’d like to go out to dinner with another person.

Even now that things are settling down in my home life, I don’t spend much time thinking about what I left behind. I am just eager to get home, get out of my school clothes, get the dog out for a walk, eat and feed Bodhi then snuggle up in the green chair. I haven’t really got to do that much yet, either, as I’m still putting things away.

As I sit here, in my newest new place, my new living room, I’m not thinking about my old one. Ok, well, at the moment I am thinking about it, but only because I reminded me of it. In general, I mean to say, I rarely think of my other homes, Coon Rapids, Augusta, Italy, Egypt, South Carolina, Aurora, Northglenn, Colorado Springs, Brunswick, Atlanta, Augusta , Orisbeek…the list goes on. And, although it may sound cold and callous, I have to also say I’m not really thinking about my people, either. Not my Honey or my Rumi or my Hita most of the time. There are things that remind me of people from my past, but I need to hit something specific. For instance, I started watching Deep Space 9 again recently, and certain episodes make me think of my good friend Lloyd. When I eat a big salad with cheese and avocado, I think of my Honey. Certain books remind me of my dad, or of my Hita. Eating cannoli makes me think of an ex who brought them to me fresh from Palermo. But enough about me.

This part is just conjecture. For the people who didn’t leave, I suspect that there are many more triggers, and that they don’t need to be quite so specific. Maybe Rumi looks around her living room and thinks of me hanging around there. Maybe my mom looks at my old bedroom at home and pictures me there. Maybe my Honey thinks of me in her kitchen as she makes an omelette with lots of veggies.


It isn’t that I don’t love my people, but the truth is that my life is filled with new stuff and I don’t have the opportunity or energy to spend thinking of them – or triggers that keep them on my mind. It’s nothing personal, I’m just a bit full of myself these days.


Bodhi and big pharma

Ever since I became a pet owner, I have resisted the big chemical flea and tick “medications.” In Denver it didn’t seem that they needed them. Then we moved to GA and I think we made it about a month before giant fleas were seen leaping off the kitty and onto my bare skin… I dosed the dog and the older kitty, then moved on to the culprit (the only one that seemed to have actual fleas on her). She was still a kitten and soon after I began she leapt from my arms. Can I just say that each animal reacted as soon as the “medication” touched their skin? Ok, so Ipicat (what? that was her name!) sped away from me. Some of the stuff dripped down her back a little and she attempted to clean it away…by licking it, obviously.

I have seen some energetic kitties in my life, but let me tell you, this was something else. Ipicat began racing around the room, scaling blinds, ripping furniture and foaming at the mouth. Thick, white and bubbly it covered her mouth like some kind of obscene milk commercial. A year later I was still finding spots of white on various objects, like my computer monitor.

It took her a good half hour to calm down enough to let me pick her up. She was still shaking and I did my best to calm her and clean her fur of the offending “medicine.” That was the last time I used it. Luckily for all of us we moved to MN soon after and the threat level seemed a bit lower. Also, Ipicat was no longer living with me, having become a Bookstore Cat in Augusta and the other kitty never went outside.

As for the dog, soon after arriving in Augusta I changed her to a whole food diet (with a base of brown rice and tofu) and began to add garlic and brewer’s yeast to lower the threat further. It worked for Detta.

The new dog, Bodhi (wonder at what point I’ll stop calling him “new”) has done well with the garlic and brewer’s yeast set up – till last year. After his heat stroke, the vet said that she thought it would be better to stop giving him the garlic, because she thought it might compromise his weakened system. So I stopped.

I started again around the beginning of summer, although using a lower concentration. And then we started going out into the woods much more regularly and I decided a flea and tick collar was the next step. I don’t really want to risk Bodhi’s life over some chemicals, and since his diet and life are pretty clean already, I decided maybe that was ok. Then I brought home the collar and dang, the list of risks and dangers seemed as bad as the ones I remembered from the Frontline. But I dutifully put it on.

Bodhi came home with ticks the second week. And again the third week. At which point I reconsidered the liquid “medication.”

I took Bodhi to the vet and got him all checked out and asked my very cool integrative vet for her recommendation. She said she understood my concerns, but especially with our impending move to Mass (to a house bordered by some protected woodlands), she thought I ought to bite the bullet.

I bought several months worth and brought it home.

Reading the list of risks and the advisory not to let the Frontline touch the human’s skin kept me from applying the “medication” right away. I finally did it, though. Bodhi was a good dog and sat still while I applied it, although his skin rolled and twitched where the “medication” was applied. He was pretty dry mouthed for a couple of days afterward, smacking and licking with much more frequency than usual.

Although I made my decision as carefully as I could, and I do think it’s better for him not to have ticks and maybe this is the safer course…I still feel pretty awful that I just applied a bunch of liquid that warns me not to let it touch my skin, or to dispose of it near water, food or feed storage, to call poison control if swallowed, and is combustable. Just sayin’.

Following the yuppie path

It’s funny (or maybe it isn’t) but although I spoke about it ad nauseam while I was still there, I find myself less willing to write about the insane part of my stay in Mass. I am going to let it go for now, and write about what I want to write about.

When I was looking for a new place, things looked, well, bleak. I needed to move soon, but not too soon (I was sure the currents weren’t going to refund me a dime, and I was paid up till the middle of November so I wanted to leave but hated to lose the money), I knew my foreclosure was finding it’s way to my credit report, I needed to pay as little as possible without getting so far out that transportation costs were going to make up the difference AND I was trying to rent with this giant, nutty dog. Ok, well I don’t think of him as giant, but when compared to the 35 lbs limit I kept running in to at apartment complexes, well, he seems giant. Oh, and trying to do all this while working.

Also, it seemed like every time I had a lead on a place, it was rented before I could get to it. I almost rented from a guy who thought God wanted him to rent to me (this will tell you just how desperate I was feeling).

Finally I spoke to someone who had a place and who’s question about the dog was merely, “Do you have apartment insurance?” She said as long as I had it, we were good. She didn’t even care about breed or weight (although to tell the truth I had taken to saying he was a Lab Shepherd mix – I know, scandalous, right?). Of course, the day I was supposed to go look at it I got stuck at work, so I called her back the next day and she told me it was gone, but she had one in Lowell (which is even better for me). I asked when I could come meet her and she said later that day. My coworker, L, came along to ask lawyerly questions. My mindset, was, essentially, if I’m not terrified of the place, I want to sign something immediately.

We got there before she did, but there was a maintenance guy in the apartment who showed us around. The carpet in the bedroom was a very ugly, dark brown shag and the kitchen only had 3 little cabinets, but hey! there was a bathroom all for me! And closets! And also a nice little yard for when I don’t have time for a walk. It was very close to work, too. So, the very friendly guy is really selling the place, telling me how great it is, answering K’s lawyerly questions.

One of the first things I do when I move to a new place is map out my running route. When I asked him about running in the area, he was very enthusiastic about the nice running path along the river. Jack said, “It’s a nice path, you know, down there where they built all those new fancy condos.” I admit that I wasn’t really listening all that closely as he told me this, like I said, they had me at the word “available.” But his words came back to me tonight.

Bodhi and I have been out nearly every night since we got here 10 days ago. When I map out a new route, I sometimes drive it or part of it but I also like to just walk it out, kind of pick a direction and widen my circle on each trip. I did look at google maps before heading out the first day and I kind of thought I knew where he was talking about. We walked toward the river and found a nice path, but it dead ended at a major road.

Tonight I checked google maps yet again and realized that when I thought we were walking by the river we were only going by a canal. We needed to go much further, it seemed. I liked the way the sidewalk looked in the picture though, so I decided we’d try again tonight. It’s amazing how much energy a couple of days off work will give you!

For the first time we walked on the UMass Lowell campus, briefly flanked by a little gang of skateboarders, about 6 gangly guys skating down the middle of the road. This was extremely freaky for Bodhi, who kept running in to my legs and hitting my hand with his head as he watched them  frantically. I was glad when the got off the road to take over the top floor of a parking ramp. We were walking along at a good clip when suddenly the sidewalk…just…disappeared. I don’t mean at the end of a street or at an intersection, but just midway down a block it stopped and suddenly we were walking in gravel. Uh..ok. It was dark, there, too, and a tiny bit spooky, but not for very long.

Next we came up to this tall building…it wasn’t a very nice looking building, but there was something about it… Then I got it. This was one of “those fancy condos” made from old warehouses or mills or something.

1910 - before the fancy condos

We walked past one building then I saw that between the buildings was something that looked like a park. We headed through the dark alley (no, not like scary dark – just slightly dark) and came out into a very nice looking park. There were benches, fences and patterned bricks for the sidewalk. As I was looking around to see if the fence went all the way around, I saw a person off to the right. That was when I realized that in front of me, between the trees, was the Merrimac. It’s a decent sized river at that point and when we got to the rail I didn’t care any more if there was no way out. It was totally worth it to look out at that wide span of fast moving water.

I took this the next day

Luckily, that was not the end of the trail. The trail went off for some distance, river to the left and benches and streetlights to the right. Not like, tall vapor lights, but old fashioned looking street lamps. As we continued the greenery to on the side of the path became a bit more unruly, but over all, it was well maintained. It snowed here last Saturday and though there were patches of snow on all the other sidewalks we had been down, there were none at all here, along the river. There were also very few people, that first guy, looking out over the river and a couple of skateboarders.

On our way back, I noticed the occasional light on in the apartments towering on our left. I was thinking about the people in those condos. I bet that most of them either live lives that are too busy for working out or that when they do they go to The Club or Mill City Fitness a few blocks away so they can work out with their iPads and phones connected to the wifi (no judgement here, of course).

I was distracted a moment texting my girl on the walk back and so missed turning on the path that we came down originally (see, texting while navigating, baaaaad) and so we walked a little further – how lost could I get? The river was directly to my right, at worst we might have to backtrack a short distance. We came to an even bigger park-like area, more benches, more lights, more decorative bricks. And as we wound our way out of this area we came up and out to a parking lot – and right to the place where the sidewalk ended before. Suddenly it was all clear to me. The side walk only ended if you kept going straight. If I had turned to my left – if I lived in one of “those fancy condos” I would have found a lovely sidewalk to take me right down to the river.

Said sidewalk

As I was doing my google maps research I realized that the area I am living in now is the one area that the first cab driver I met told me not to live in – the Acre. It comes complete with it’s own Coalition for A Better Acre. I totally get now what Jack was telling me about the nice path made for the fancy condos. Something tells me it will be well plowed into the winter. And I will totally be taking advantage of that nice path for running until the weather stops me. Not like their going to ask me for my yuppie badge, right?

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