The Puppy

I’ve been looking for a puppy for a few years now. My beloved Peapod died 4 years ago and I lost my mind a little. I quit my job, started a new career… and ruled out ever having a dog again. My heart has never been so decimated as the day I wrapped my beloved best friend in my baby blanket and buried her in my garden. Her tags are still on my keys. The last curl of her hair, sits in my jewelry box. My loyalty runs bone deep regardless of your species… and I can still hardly talk about her dying.

In the midst of me shoveling a metric ton of snow and avoiding the unwanted advances of the guy I’d tried to hire to remove said snow… a cute little black and white face popped up on my Facebook feed. A “large, mixed breed” puppy. Complete with a heart shaped dot on her bum. I looked at the clock and realized I was 9 minutes too late and would have to wait until the next day. I hemmed and hawed… I tried to talk myself out of it and realized that I really was ready to love a furry friend again. I was just terrified of the what if’s of losing her.

Fear has held me back a lot in the last year and 40+ for that matter. I decided to just leap and figure it out later. I did what any nervous, second-guessing-herself girl would do, and went to see my favorite man. He may not know everything, but he knows me like the back of his hands and I knew he’d tell me if I were being crazy.

I- Do you have a crate? Puppy food? Toys? You don’t sound like any of your ducks are in a row.

J- Oh hush. At least 5 out of 8 are swimming in the right direction.

I- Well go get her then and bring her over. I want to meet her.

The tangible details of this man make my mouth water in spite of my determined resolve to pack him away with my other favorite memories. He has a fresh haircut and I’m trying to keep my thoughts from spilling out of my eyes and mouth. He smells incredible and I have a contact high from breathing in whatever soap he’s decided to ruin for me this week. He’s worse than a weakness, he’s a certifiable addiction. I left with a grin as he told me to hussle and walked to my car shaking my head at myself for being unable or unwilling to quit him, entirely. I took my heart out of the game and can finally just enjoy him for what he is: delicious, divine inspiration. He’s also rubber stamped my quest for a puppy and encouraged me to be brave enough to jump into the big dog section.

I arrived at the animal shelter about twenty minutes before they opened. Puppies are a hot commodity and there’s usually a line waiting for them. The epic snowfall from the night before was working in my favor and I only had a woman and her half dozen of tiny monsters in line behind me. I will never understand the “every two years” human breeders. For the love of Jesus, get a hobby that doesn’t involve dick. I hate to always suggest knitting but it does keep your hands busy and if you’ve already racked up six kids then you have some sweater knitting to catch up on. Two of them didn’t have coats on and I was working overtime to keep my judgy left eyebrow from reminding her to go get them for her shivering babies. I have two pet peeves when it comes to mothers. Feral children and cold/underdressed babies. Hippie moms with barefoot babies in the winter, I am looking at YOU. Unless your stinky, patchouli ass is wandering barefoot across the ice and snow in the parking lot, I expect you to round up some baby socks. My eyebrow went rogue and she went back to the car for coats as the nice volunteer let me in.

J- I’m here to meet Cranberry.

V- Meet or adopt?

J- Well I should probably meet her first, but you can have my credit card if you want to start the paperwork.

Why bother with the small talk, if it’s one thing I know about myself it’s that when I make my mind up to do something, it takes an act of Congress to stop me.

I walked around the corner and there they were. Four little faces staring up at me. Two midnight black, silky-soft boys who I fell instantly in love with and wished I could adopt as well. Two spotted female puppies were both vying for my attention and then I saw mine. Her little face turned from side to side as I said hello. My little Cranberry, who I knew the Dumpling would want to name, Unicorn. Their door was locked so I could only pet them through the bars and she laid her head in my hand the first time I pet her. It’s a hard thing to choose a puppy in a kennel of four because my heart breaks for the three I’m leaving behind.

I went back to the lobby, paid the $150 and walked back to point her out to the volunteer with a key.

Twenty minutes later, they placed a wiggly, gigantic puppy in my arms for the entertaining drive to collect the supplies I probably should have bought in advance. The Goodwill is dog friendly by the way- and outfitted me with a harness, leash and basket of toys in minutes. Walmart is not so dog friendly but then mine was howling to get out of the shopping cart. We bought food as fast as possible and I drove her to meet my favorite guy.

You think you know someone completely and then you add a baby or a puppy to the mix. Maybe even a little old Grandma? I have a weakness for all three, so honestly any one of them would have delighted me just the same. I watched him crawl around on the floor with my new furry baby, then jump around in the snow with her. I’m enchanted by the goodness of him. That’s really what it boils down to. His feelings for me don’t matter, if I’m going to be completely honest, it’s the raw honesty of him that knocks me off kilter and paints a grin on my face.

I- She needs a name.

J- Help me?

I- Daisy?

J- No… I had a dog named Daisy.

I- Bailey?

You could have knocked me over with a feather. Sometimes I honestly wonder if he can read my mind. I certainly hope not.

J- That’s perfect.

I left and picked up my little lady, giving her the biggest surprise a mama can give without firing up her ovaries. She guessed before she even saw her and we were laughing on the short drive home as she pulled our new little fluffy friend in for a hug.

D- Welcome to the family, Bailey Unicorn. ♥

bailey

 


Perspective

Other than the dark fog of that first month of raising a newborn alone, I don’t know a day I’ve been more exhausted. My eyeballs ache, along with every single inch of the rest of my body. I hardly slept and it shows. I had to schlep everything back home from my mom’s house today and it was a herculean task.

I’m a whole lot of destroyed, today.

Unfortunately, that brings out the very worst in me and I acted like an asshole this morning. A snotty comment inspired my inner hateful bitch and I summoned the sass of my ancestors. I don’t like that, nor do I desire to rise to the occasion anymore. I’ve gotten softer and more gentle in the last five years and that’s the woman I want to be.

Wanna hate me? Go ahead. It’s not easy because I don’t want anyone to feel bad. Wanna laugh at me? Set your alarm and get up early because I laugh at myself from the moment my feet hit the floor.

I took the day off to snuggle the kitten who literally climbed onto my head while I tried to take a nap, then spent the afternoon dusting myself off a little. It’s been a hard month in the hardest year and I was so sure things were shifting into an easier and better time. It turns out, I’m meant to be stronger, after all.

I counted the minutes until I could go pick my Dumpling up from school and when I saw her walk out the door with her teacher, turn, see my face… and shout MOMMY!!! I finally cried.

This. This is who I am. This is what I live for. This is what REALLY matters. The tiny blonde who grounds me to what I treasure most.

M- I missed you so much today.

D- Mama.

M- Let’s go shopping and make something fun for dinner. We’re finally home and Dazzle Fresh is SO excited she spent the afternoon laying all over me.

We held hands to the car, then to the store to buy steak. The girl speaks the same language as her Daddy and I. When in doubt, add steak and see how you feel afterwards. In the throes of CrossFit, I tried to talk her into salmon.

M- Let’s have fish? Salmon? You love it.

D- I want steak or shrimp… or CRAB LEGS!!!!

M- You need to go to college. Your love for crab legs demands it. We’re having carne asada tacos.

I caught sight of a woman walking up a little too close and gave her a little exhausted side eye.

S- Jenni? I’m Stacy. You worked with my son?

Exhausted, I stumbled over my thoughts for a second until it hit me.

Logan.

I walked towards her and hugged her close to me, immediately.

Her beautiful son died of cancer a few months ago. He was my busser for years and I watched him grow from a shy, awkward kid into a dynamic and hilarious young man. He filled a void in my heart left by the absence of my own son and we had a million funny moments together.

The world is a whole lot less beautiful without Logan. We are all a whole lot worse off because he’s gone.

But…

I laugh when I think about him and I have a million funny stories to share with his bereaved mother when the time is right. I don’t envy her grief and I am damn determined to ease it in any way I can.

Even if it means turning the other cheek and letting a pointless argument, go. Especially then. Logan was funny beyond belief and his mother should write parenting books because she perfected the fine art of giving her children the world while simultaneously teaching them to be good humans who earned their own way. With all the money at her disposal, she made them respectful, loving, hard working and kind.

Anyone can raise a spoiled brat…. but it takes a quality woman to raise a good man or woman. Good people come from the same, and I am determined to keep on, keeping on with respect to his memory.

You never know how much time you have or where your child’s clock will run out. You don’t know the horror of losing your baby until you have no other choice.

There’s no point in wrestling with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it. Spend the precious moments you have left doing the things that light your life up like Christmas and make it feel worthy of the moments that our brilliant Logan didn’t get.

Be like Stacy.

Live for Logan.

Do better because you have the chance to.


My Hero, Jess.

foxy.jpg

Early one morning before I was out of bed, my phone started ringing. I ignored it the first time, then flipped it over and saw it was my beloved friend Jess, who had moved to California.

I launched out of bed and ran for the kitchen so I didn’t wake up the whole house when I shouted an exuberant HIIIIII!!!!!

As soon as I heard her voice, I knew something was horribly wrong.

Her baby son Foxy had drowned in the pool and she was standing in the hospital, reeling as they were preparing to remove him from life support.

This is a very sad part of an incredibly beautiful story. I’m sharing it because I want you all to meet my hero, and the strongest lady I know. It’s my honor to introduce you to Jessica Shah. She’s the whole package. A bombshell beauty queen, the fiercest Mama Bear, the best friend you’ve ever had and the most spectacularly strong woman I know. Whenever I’m waist deep in self doubt wondering how I’m going to make it, I look at her and know I can get through anything and even find some joy in the midst of it.

https://app.stitcher.com/splayer/f/199804/65650772

 


Gratitude

In the worst month of my adult life, I’ve had to take stock of what’s important and face reality about what’s not. I’ve had to stop and count my blessings at a time when they all felt like sand slipping through my fingers.

I’ve never been more sad or had more reason to be hopeful about the future. I’ve also never had more stress or reason to worry, in my life. The high points seemed to come at an exorbitant expense while the low moments stacked up like firewood.

This was not my year, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. I have so many things to be grateful for and on a day like today… a reminder sure won’t hurt either.

I’m grateful for my friends. Especially my Fancy best. I wish I had more time and opportunity to be a better friend, but my goodness I am blessed with those of mine I consider the closest. This has been such a horrific month and I would be lost and broken without mine, and I am so grateful.

I’m grateful for CrossFit. I can’t even believe it, but it’s true… I actually found an exercise program that I love. One that absolutely slaughters me and leaves me shaky and begging for mercy. It’s carving my body into a new shape and I have some muscles I haven’t seen since I was a kid. I feel stronger, I’m sleeping better and I’ve made a handful of new friends. I can’t afford it, but I can’t afford not to, either. It’s a gift I’m insisting on giving myself, and I’m falling in love with my own body again, something so priceless I can’t put a dollar sign on it.o

I’m grateful for ham and swiss Lunchables. I realize this is silly and probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to anyone, but on the road to uncovering myself, the diet gets boring. I had a very wholesome and healthy childhood and my mother would have died before she bought us pre-packaged lunch… let alone processed meat and fake cheese. Over her cold, dead body…. So when I need a treat and to cheat on my diet a little, nothing makes me happier than those pressed ham circles, refrigerated crackers and fake swiss cheese. It’s one of my favorite guilty pleasures.

I’m grateful for my family. For my sisters, my brother and my mom. My dad gave me a beautiful family of siblings that make my life rich and rewarding. I can’t imagine adulthood without them, as much as they made my childhood grand as well. I am so lucky to have the people I do. ♥

I’m grateful for men who smell good. I walked by a handsome older man in the store tonight and he held out his hand to take my empty cart when his cologne hit me. Mmmm…. It’s like an olfactory kiss on the lips. One that so few men exploit to their benefit. I have friends who hate it, but very few. I don’t care if it’s Old Spice and you smell like my daddy, just wear it.

I’m grateful for Tinder. I’m also really shitty at it. I have 47 messages, waiting. I only open it when I’m feeling especially bad for myself, swipe, swipe, swipe and then I forget about them for a week. I don’t have the desire, the attention span or the interest necessary to weed through them all. There’s too many, they’re too rabid and none of them are the him I want them to be. They do a whole lot collectively to make me feel better about feeling so rejected, but not so much that I want to date 25-30 year old boys.

I’m grateful for flowers. My gardenia is blooming in the kitchen while the wind howls outside and I picked up a fresh bouquet this evening from an old love of mine. I’ve been single for so long that I don’t think about flowers being sent anymore so when I got the call, I was sure they were in regards to Anthony’s passing. I was stressed out and frazzled, none too thrilled about having to schlep downtown in the wind to pick up flowers. When I walked in and saw them, I knew immediately who they were from. A once upon a time lover who memorized my favorites and used them to his benefit. I hadn’t seen a dozen cherry brandy roses since the last time he sent them to me. I picked up the phone and called the last number I had saved in my phone for him and he answered on the first ring.

cherrybrandyroses

B-Babydoll. You got them.

J- Awwww, thank you! I love them! Hiiiiiii!

B- I don’t know why but I hopped on your blog when I was flying home yesterday, just to check in and hoping you’d be knitting or canning and instead you’re wasting your time with a guy like me.

J- You know what they say about old habits.

 

B- I’m really sorry about Anthony. Remember topless karaoke when you rapped that Chingy song? Or that lap dance we bought you in Twin Falls? He was a great guy and a good friend. We have some great memories.

J- I was just telling someone that story the other day. My goodness… I’m lucky I survived that weekend. Thank you for the flowers, he would have loved them, too.

B- The flowers are a reminder that you should be getting them. You need a real date with a real man.

J- I need a raise, light snowfall and to win the lottery.

B- Touche.

He’s right though. I do need a real date with a real man. He’s NOT it… but I love the reminder, the gesture and a dozen of my favorite fall roses. It’s nice to feel like a treasured girl instead of an overcompensating bother.

I’m grateful for dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, matte 24 hour lipstick, and coffee, without which I would die. 

I’m grateful for eyelash extensions and the incredible friend I made who glues me into a prettier version of myself. Not just with tiny fake lashes, but also with the love and care she gives me. I have cried a dozen times, she’s helped me through some of the hardest days and when I leave I look a million times better than I felt walking in the door. She’s the type of person that makes everybody’s day better just for crossing her path. One of those million watt souls with a personality and character to match. She’s good people and she makes me gooood lookin’. ♥

I’m grateful for my career. I am the Vice President of my company and carry a lot of stress from work home with me. It’s not always sunshine and roses, but I have the staff I’ve worked hard to build, the ability to work happily within those four walls and the luck of getting to do something that I truly love for a living. I’m valued, appreciated and respected for the hard work I do. That’s saying something in these days and ages. I love my coworkers and look forward to how good it can be after a little more tweaking. I always think of the line in the desiderata that says : “Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.”

I’m grateful for frozen pizza, LOL Surprise dolls and Minecraft… without which I would never have a break. 

I’m grateful for that guy I loved so much. That one that is determined to hurt me, regardless of the many reasons why he shouldn’t. He’s taught me so much about myself in the last year and I’ve learned to say hard words that I’ve swallowed my entire lifetime.

I’m grateful for my children, especially that firecracker eldest daughter of mine. She’s fire in all the ways I’m soft and I feel like I managed to do the impossible and make a strong woman with my fragile doormat hands.  The tables have turned and she’s kind, nurturing and maternal in every way I need love these days. She swoops in to hug me, fill the house with her beautiful laughter and make the world seem right again.

I’m grateful for my son. He raises the bar without being here and makes me dig deeper to be a better version of me, every day. If he ever comes back, he’ll be really happy to the mom he comes home to, and that is everything to me.

I’m grateful for my Dumpling, who hugs me all day long. We were born three days apart and see eye to eye. We can bake the day away, play babies for hours and snuggle in front of movies for an entire lazy Saturday. She’s a tiny version of me and her big sister, and I treasure every second of every day with her.

I’m grateful for the woman I’ve grown to be. I’m not always good at adulthood and I fail regularly, but I do work hard at being a better example for my kids, myself and my community. I’m learning and I’m trying. I’ll never be perfect but I hope I’ll always be kind.

and I hope I always remember to be grateful. ♥


Smart Girls

My eldest daughter surprised me with something so unexpected yesterday that I can’t even put it into words. I called her this morning and cried as soon as her face came into view. She cried with me… because we’re an empathetic bunch and she knows how devastating this week has been. She had me laughing in minutes and we went on our separate ways to face the last day in this miserable week.

But first, she sent me this sage advice and it was excellent enough that I’m sharing it with y’all. I may not know a lot, but I sure made great people. ❤️

You’re Going To Miss The Girl Who Tried Too Hard To Keep You

The day is going to hit you when you realize she’s no longer a choice you get to make because she finally chose someone who chose her. You’ll cross paths and she won’t notice you because she’s staring at someone else laughing harder than you’ve ever seen her.
She’ll look and sound familiar but as you look a little more closely you’ll realize how much has changed about her.

What changed was the way she looked at you. She used to look at you with eyes of admiration but instead she started to look at herself that way. The way she used to build you up and admire you, you realize someone you thought wasn’t confident and needed you doesn’t anymore.

You’ll realize she looks a little prettier that far away even if she’s close. There’s something about someone you can’t have.

It’s going to be then you realize what it is you miss about her.

Every conversation where she talked about you.

Every text you knew with certainty would be answered a little too fast.

Every text you used to ignore and voicemails you hated that she left.

You’ll find yourself looking at pictures you didn’t want to take in the first place but she insisted you do so. You never knew looking back at those moments and memories would hurt so much.

You’ll miss the little details she filled you in on and how you really were a keyplayer in her life.

You miss the messages that popped up when she saw something and thought of you.

Conversations of just wanting to know how you were doing.

How you’d part ways and she’d always say I love you, get home safely with a kiss on the cheek as she took off.

Those moments of missing her will hit you as you realize there aren’t a lot of people like her who genuinely care. And maybe it was annoying sometimes but there wasn’t anyone with better intentions. There isn’t anyone who wouldn’t do anything you ask.

You realize what you thought was desperation was really caring.

You realize what really seemed like she lacked confidence was her giving to someone who didn’t appreciate it.

You realize every time you thought she was different that’s what made her so special.

You’ll regret the fact you never told her all these things or appreciated her or thanked her.

You miss someone who never stopped trying with you. Until she had to because even after all her effort, she learned it wasn’t that she wasn’t enough it was that you weren’t.

It’s the nights you’ll stay awake and you remember when you used to text her and even at odd hours she’d always make the time to talk to you.

All those times you cancelled and all she responded with was okay see you soon.

All those times you used her and she let you not because she was weak but she knew that reflected you and not her.

You’ll miss this person who was always on your side wanting what was best for you. What she learned over time was it would never be her.

You think back to how much time and emotion and energy she invested into you and all you left her with was uncertainty and doubt.

Her absence and her silence will make you realize how much you must have hurt her. You look at your phone and you want to text her and ask how she is but you can’t even figure out how to say hello.

And it isn’t like you did anything wrong. But you didn’t do anything right either to make her stay.

That’s the thing about good people they stay for as long as they can keep believing in you. But you can’t keep them waiting forever. She walked away because she had to. Because she couldn’t keep trying and caring and putting herself out there only to get hurt.

She didn’t want to be wrong about you. And she hated that she was because she thought you were different.

She realizes she couldn’t be the only one trying here.

You’ll each move on and you’ll watch as she does. Maybe it’s across a newsfeed or snap story. Maybe you’ll know she moved on because it almost feels like she’s vanished in a way. Not even caring to advertise her new relationship because it’s one she’s keeping for herself.

You wonder what’s going on but you can’t even find the words to ask.

She’ll meet someone who doesn’t have to lose her to realize she was someone of value and someone who deserved love and attention.

You’ll see her out and she’ll look at you smiling maybe even hug you like she used to. But everything about it will feel awkward because there is going to be a moment you two lock eyes and realize it wasn’t supposed to end this way.

Kirsten Corley

Kirsten is the author of But Before You Leave, a book of poetry about the experiences we struggle to put into words.