Deployment

Lately I’ve been blocked with my writing… but the good thing about that is I’m an artist (or maybe more accurately a wannabe artist) who likes to express myself in a multitude of pursuits. Like sewing, drawing, knitting, painting… and as of late, I’ve really connected with my paint brush.

Bleeding through paint is much like bleeding through words, maybe just a touch more literal. The piece I’m working on now is simply titled Deployment. My husband has been deployed a few months now, and loneliness starts to seep onto every little creavice of your life. It doesn’t defeat happiness, not altogether, but it tries.

Every stupid thing you do reminds you they’re not there. Reminds you that you know they’ll come home, but what if they don’t? When will they skype next? Are they okay? Are they hungry, or cold, or too hot, or feeling just as helpless as you? Do they need anything? Are they eating enough, and taking their vitamins?

You go to bed, and you squeeze his pillow so tightly against you it threatens to suffocate you, the ringer on your phone is all the way up, just in case he might call at 4 am. You wouldn’t dare miss it. You bury your face in the pillow searching out his scent like the sex deprived, stressed out bloodhound of a woman you are. And when you find it you cry. Maybe softly. Maybe so hard your entire body heaves with the emotion of it all. Eventually you go to sleep, and do it all over again.

Shame Pizza is Still Pizza

Being alone is hard.In general the whole matter of it is hard, but when you’ve been doing it for a while you start to get a handle on it, you might even like it better that way. But being alone when you’re used to having a partner there with you is especially hard.

Well, most of the time it’s hard – some times it’s the only way you don’t fantasize about how many objects currently surrounding you could be used to bludgeon someone with. How much damage could a rubix cube do? What about that decorative elephant over on the shelf? This coaster?

The lucky ones of us end up finding a person that makes life feel it does when you’re peacefully alone – but better. Complete with a witty commentary, a meal you didn’t even have to make, or to remind you that you’re an absolute slob and they’re not your mother.  Sometimes that person has to leave, for a short time, or a long time, or, in the worst scenario, for the rest of time.

Then you have to learn to be alone again. One morning after the next you wake up, and realize that, again, there isn’t a person next to you, there isn’t a person to leave their damp towels on your side of the bed and the only dirty laundry laying right next to the hamper is actually your dirty laundry. You do spend less time fighting about the hot water and the last slice of pizza, or whose turn it really is to do the dishes. But then you start to miss those stupid parts of life – you’d gladly give up the hot water, and do the dishes, and at least learn how to split that last piece of pizza. Or at least give them 2 of 3. Or just pretend there is no last slice, and then ravenously eat it in silence and secret shame at 2 am. Shame pizza is still pizza.

Time becomes this concept you don’t even want to think about – how many more hours, weeks, months until they’re back? Before you know if you find yourself in a philosophical conversation with your dog about what is time, really? They typically have pretty nutter opinions about that entire business.

You start doing some really weird things when you’re alone, too. Suddenly a pillow with a button up and a maybe even a pair of pants on doesn’t seem so out of the question, and why not just eat half a jar of olives while you marathon Bates Motel? There’s no one there to stop you! Feast! Feast upon your olives in your underwear at 2 am – that’s probably what royalty does. I won’t believe you for a second if you tell me Tyrion Lannister has never done it. And the Queen, tah! She just does it with a cup of tea, and one of those tiny fancy forks that’s probably worth more than your car.

Learning how to be alone is much harder than learning how to live with someone, in my opinion. There’s no where else for your focus to lie. Nowhere but your own messiness, or your own lack of motivation, shortcomings, and failures. All the things you want to change. Why is it so easy for us to see all the wonderful, and silly and beautiful things in someone else, but when standing in front of a mirror we only see the greasy smudges that we still haven’t cleaned?

On Feeding Your Dogs

Pets.

They’re pesky, and needy, and lovable and fluffy – all in one big bunch. And the need to feed them and care for them doesn’t just go away. Well, until they die of course, there’s really no use feeding a dead dog. Unless you’re into that. This is a judgement free zone.

A year ago we rescued a Walking Treeing Coonhound 60 minutes before she was due to be euthanised. She weighed 32 pounds, cowered at our every touch and constantly looked for places to hide from us – all from the cruelty she had witnessed in her life before us. It took months of working with her to convince her that this past life, this horrible life she had lived, was over – it was done, and now we were only here to love her.

I’d like to say that now she’s a good girl – and really, she mostly is. She gets along with our gentle natured lab, but she steals from the counter every chance she gets, she tears up any item you may hold dear (I swear she has a way of knowing which items these really are), and she takes great joy in directly disobeying you. This is no joke, you can see the joy in her eyes when she hears “No,” but decides “Fuck that word.” But she doesn’t cower from pets anymore, she weighs double what she did before, and she spends most of her time making herself at home in our bed. When we go for walks she decides where we go. She’s pushy, obstinate, and vocal – and really, we love it. She’s the perfect counterpart to our people-pleasing, quiet, loyal lab who wouldn’t dream of doing something to upset her human counterparts.

In that last few months the act of feeding my pets has brought about a realization, a routine really. My husband, as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, is an Active Duty Airman. He’s currently deployed, and while I struggle with depression and anxiety when he’s here, it always starts to feel like more of a losing battle while he is gone. The lack of someone to take care of, to please and cook for and love and be around every day takes something from me. Maybe it’s a sense of purpose or it’s really just a distraction from all the things on the never ending list of things to deal with. A way of hiding from them, putting in place a convenient blinder to avoid it all.

Feeding the dogs gives me a reason to get up. Sure, you can lay in bed all day and feel bad for yourself. But when you have another living creature depending on you – then you need to get up. You need to love them and pet them and walk them and brush them and generally deal with them being up your ass with how much they love you. Which really does help.

You have this creature, that for whatever reason, thinks the very sun shines out of your asshole. You’re the best thing ever to them. And how great is that? All you had to do was give them some Purina and throw a ball and all of the sudden you are the best thing ever. You can do no wrong.

When it’s time to go bed, there they are, one at my feet, the other at my side, making sure that, truly, I never sleep alone. You get to wake up to cold, wet noses in your face. The best kiss the animal kingdom can offer.

Pets (and in my biased opinion, dogs) are one of the best things to happen to the human race. Embrace them. Love them. Play with them. Give them too many treats. They’re with us for far too short of a time, and really we all need more treats.