Jay

jay-cliff1

As I sat in LAX on July 9th I thought about how I finally had a few adventures to share on my blog. I had tales of being an extra on a set in LA – I would talk about the glamor of sitting outside in a tent for three straight days with 200 other people.  Tales of brown bag lunches with mayo packets that shot out this clear yellow stuff.  Share stories of crazed super fans name dropping their stalker-y hearts out while making me feel shame for possibly being a fan-girl poser.  I was also really looking forward to coming home. I’d called my husband the afternoon before my flight whimpering that I was exhausted, and just wanted to come home. You see, I adore my husband and being away from him for five days was a bit much.  I was looking forward to sharing my adventures with him, and showing him my ridiculous pictures – “look, Myrna Loy’s footprint!”.

Instead of Jay picking me up at the airport as planned, I got a ride with our local police department who took me to my home which was now covered in police tape.  Officers stood on my driveway while a victims services team waited for me.  I cannot possibly describe in adequate words just absolutely how horrific that was.  I had lost my husband, my best friend, and my favorite person.

I wish I could describe him in a way that everyone would understand just how amazing he was, but again words fail me – they’re strings of adjectives trailing after him, flitting to and fro unable to paint a complete picture. He was my world.

What I can tell you is he was beautiful, smart, kind, funny, and clever.

I remember sitting with him on a curb outside of his office talking about how bad my world had become.  He told me to throw out all of the extraneous things and boil down what was really bothering me – that once I got rid of all the fluff, I could begin to focus on the real issue. That conversation led me to the realization that I needed to make some huge life changes, and one of those was to be with him.  That was nearly 17 years ago, and it is still the best decision I’ve ever made.

We never argued – no raised voices, no knockdown drag out fights. We’re both pretty easy going, Jay more so than me – both laid back sorts, which isn’t to say we were never disappointed or frustrated, but where I’d work out my issues by launching into super house cleaning mode, Jay would become more quiet, and at the end of the day we’d work whatever we were frustrated about out.

Every night Jay would tuck me in, and wait for me to fall asleep.  I can’t begin to tell you how hard sleeping has become after 17 years of having someone sit with you, and talk to you every night. The house is suddenly too quiet.  As a night owl, he’d almost always be awake if I woke up late at night, and he’d answer the most ridiculous questions I’d have that had suddenly perplexed me keeping me from sleep – usually basic physics questions about how the universe worked (I’m more a biology/physiology/anatomy kind of girl).

Every day, several times a day, he’d tell me he loved me and we’d thank each other, “thank you for being with me.” That’s not an exaggeration.  It was important to me (I think I can say “us” here) that we always let each other know how much we cared – how lucky we felt to have found on another. I was looking at a card on my desk at work yesterday – one that had once accompanied a bunch of flowers on our anniversary which simply read, “I love you! Thank you for being with me!” I still have an email from Jay in my inbox which has this animated, ridiculous looking red blob that blows heart kisses. Suddenly, it’s the most important email I have.

I loved being with Jay and always knowing I had made the right choice all those years ago.  

jay_kawasakiNow I’m adrift left without the one person who could tolerate my craziness, laugh at my jokes, calm me down – the one that made me feel loveable – that made me ok in this world when I’d tell him how lonely I sometimes feel.  The person I could go to on a bad day, and he’d listen patiently.  The person I could go to on a good day, and I could make him laugh. The one who was just as nerdy as me. The one who was a thousand times smarter and would patiently and thoughtfully explain things.

I never expected nor wanted to write his eulogy.

During this hard time, there have been a lot of people who have helped out. I want to offer my gratitude to Restoration Covenant Church who donated their beautiful space for Jay’s memorial service – to Jay’s Aunt Marsha for driving from Georgia to deliver a beautiful service – to all of my relatives who, despite their personal grief, came out to help and support me, thank you for sitting with me for hours and sharing your love for Jay and your stories about him – to my brother-in-law Dale who I cannot begin to thank enough for everything (you’re my favorite and best babysitter/handyman – also, thank you for standing up and telling a story about him at the memorial) – to Aunt Philis and Kim for finding the space for the memorial and making it so beautiful –  to all of my friends for your words of support, your wee hour visits, your personal sacrifices to make sure I’m ok, and all of that food (good grief) – to Officer O’Neil for skillfully keeping me calm in a bad situation – and of course to the good neighbors.  I’m lucky to have all of you in my life; you’re all amazing, and I love each and every one of you.

Of course, a few people have said some inappropriate things, too – things that made my stomach flip, so a thank you to all of the relatives and friends who offered to help hide their bodies.:) You are truly the best.

One day I may tell all of my goofy LA stories, but for now I’m missing my favorite person, and not having him around breaks my heart. I will miss him for a long time to come.  Boy, thank you for being with me.  I love you!

A poem read at the service:

Gone From My Sight

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,

spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts

for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.

I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck

of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, “There, she is gone.”

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,

hull and spar as she was when she left my side.

And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me — not in her.

And, just at the moment when someone says, “There, she is gone,”

there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices

ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”

And that is dying…

— Henry Van Dyke

Creative? Not so much…

I’m writing this on the fly, which can only mean one thing – more typos, more poor grammar choices, more run-on sentences, comma splice errors, etc. This post will be filled with all the things that would make my English teachers/professors/English professor friends cry, and then pause and wonder how on earth I manage to communicate. Ehhh, what can you do? Editing is for err… ummm… well, I suppose it’s for everyone, but still… Not today!  Ok fine, I’ll do my best? (I’ve had sugar.  This is my second disclaimer.)

Several months ago a co-worker stopped and said something like, “Beth, you’re always doing something. I love hearing your stories.  What creative thing are you into now?” I hmmed, there was some hawing, and after some not so deep soul searching I finally declared, “nothing.” While adding in my head, “nothing, topped with nothing sprinkles and a huge dash of nothing – I was making nothing pops out of congealed nothing,” and I was actually ok with that.  I thought about writing, but wasn’t feeling it.  I perused new classes, but wasn’t feeling it. Basically, I was quite happy with reading more, and catching up on Netflix series one sitting at a time.

Sometime in February, I think, a friend of mine asked me to help assist with a play. I checked my calendar, moved some of the nothing around, and hopped on board.  Afterwards I sat in character study discussions, table reads, rehearsals, and so far three performances.  Nothing is truly more exciting than watching a production grow from an idea into a live performance with a talented cast who get better every time.

Next week we’ll have the last few shows.  If you’re in Austin (and would love to travel to Georgetown), I encourage you to come see Blame it on Beckett. We have an extremely talented cast directed by one of my favorite people, Jonathan Spear.  It’s well-worth the $15. (There are discounts for Seniors and children.)

https://www.picatic.com/event14647381531248

The 48 Hour Film Project is also going on (it ends tonight at 7:30).  This is the thing where, on a Friday evening, you get assigned a genre (ours is a holiday movie or an animal movie – OY), an object (a wrapped gift) that must be in the film, a line of dialog (something that had the word “oops” in it, but my memory is that bad that after 36 hours you got me), and a character (Charlie or Charlene Bitters, an author), and you have to write, shoot, and edit it within 48 hours.  AND it’s also something I’ve avoided since we wrapped the last one in 2013 after the unfortunate incident with the neighbor.

Well, it turns out some of the talented actors from Blame it on Beckett were going to have to miss a weekend (thus the weekend break between performances) to participate in the 48 HR project which got me talking about it again.  That’s when the writer from the previous show decided she wanted to see if she could do all of the work: writing, directing, producing, editing, music, etc. – basically, I think she wanted to see if she could get the least sleep of everyone I know and avoid merrily leaping off the ledge (she’s still alive as of this writing).  My job consists (present tense since we’re still in this thing) of turning in paper work and asking the actors if they’d like a cookie.  I mean, who doesn’t want a cookie?!?! (Apparently all the actors since I ended up with all the cookies once we wrapped.  So sad to know cookie-haters walk among us. Even sadder that there are cookie-haters in my peer group.😦 )

The good news is that our group, Uncle Bob’s Dangerous Pants, lives again!!! (And we still got props for best name from the 48 HR folks.  WOOOT!)

Also, a beautiful thing happened that made this all seem right, yet has zero to do with creativity.  The good neighbors (mentioned in the old post) are buying the evil neighbor’s house, which means the evil neighbor is moving.  I can’t begin to express how hard it was not to do an old lady style cartwheel in the front yard and cheer (after of course crashing to the ground and moaning a bit, because my cartwheels have suffered greatly over the decades).  Instead I took the news calmly only betraying my glee at the corners of my mouth and well, by repeatedly pointing to the evil house and asking, “that house? that one right there? oh that one?”  It seems like closure of sorts.  We did our first 48 HR shoot, had that happen, then did this one, and she’s moving.

Anyway, all of that to say that I’ve gotten to do some creative things with creative people lately, and that has made me pretty happy.

But I do want to add one thing – a friend who isn’t involved with any of my improv/sketch writing life said, “you’re so creative” after I mentioned the play and the 48HR Film Project.  That was really nice, but here’s where I absolutely can’t take credit.  I am good at many things, and the bulk of them include following directions.and wrangling. You also need people like me for the things I do, but I am not creative per se.  I do not “create,” and I’m ok with not being considered “creative.”  I support.  I’m one heck of a supporter.

AND I’m very lucky to be surrounded by amazingly creative people who see the need for a solid supporter. Between all of us, we get things done, and right now I’m having fun doing just that.  Now I need to get ready to go get the paperwork turned in so we can wrap this whole thing up tonight..

Everywhere is Signs

I was terrified in 8th grade, completely scared. Rumors floated around that the high school we were about to enter was infested with a fairly nasty gang. These girls had supposedly slashed a guy’s face at Hot Wheels, the local roller rink (back when that was considered a cool hang out), and the word was that if you went to a particular bathroom, they’d mess you up.  These were not young ladies you ever wanted to cross.  The nightmares that summer were absolutely horrible.  I had spent 7th grade in bullying hell, had finally found my feet back in 8th grade, and had been coasting since no one was currently threatening me with, “if you ride the bus, I’ll kill you.” Now there was this new unknown threat lurking. A threat clearly no one would protect us from as they hadn’t in 7th grade..

Back then assault and battery were illegal and school officials were in every corner to make sure I was safe.

I knew walking in that first day I wouldn’t know which bathroom to avoid.  I knew I’d have to wing it, but the idea that I would one day choose wrong gnawed at me.  That’s the most I’ve ever been afraid of people in a bathroom in the last 34 years, and I’ve been in some fairly sketchy bathrooms.

Now I see our state officials feel they need to protect me.  They want to make it safe for me to go to the bathroom, a bathroom experience free of transgender people.  One said something along the lines of, “we need to protect our women.” Well club me over the head and drag me to your cave, hallelujah I feel safe knowing another law is coming my way and you’ve got my back.  Sexual predators will quake now that the sign that says “Women” or “W” or “Damas” means “gender at birth”. Nothing stops a predator faster in his tracks than a law.

I’ll be sure to scoff as I inform our trainer who taught Active Shooter training that he was wrong when he said, “don’t hide in the restroom,” because now I know those places are getting a lot safer. No one would dare cross that line now. If someone enters our building, I’m beelining it to the restroom.  I won’t even lock the door, because I know my state legislators are keeping me safe.

As a person who has several gay friends and a transgender acquaintance (which I realize smacks of the same cherubic idiocy as those who proclaim, “I have a black friend!”) I can tell you that in general the LGBT community is not filled with sexual predators bent on hurting you or your family.  They’re people who need to go to the bathroom just like the rest of the heterosexual world.  You may not like their lifestyle, but you don’t have to approve of it to urinate.

There are absolutely exceptions – not everyone means you no harm, but those exceptions occur on both sides, and a law or a sign is not going to protect you from someone who is intent on hurting you.  I guarantee you though if you force a transgender woman to use a men’s restroom, the chances of that person being harassed or assaulted will spike.

So, if we agree that we already have laws in place designed to prevent restroom attacks, then the only thing this must be about is discriminating against transgender people.  My guess is somewhere between the Wachowski sisters, Caitlynn Jenner, and the legalization of gay marriage across the country conservative legislators lost their mind and want to exert some measure of control.  Do something that says, “I still support family values.” That’s great.  There are other and better ways to do that and better ways to ensure people are safe.

You should absolutely be aware of your surroundings including those times when you’re in the restroom or in any secluded space, but transgender people are not today’s boogeyman out to attack you and your family.while you’re trying to find the cleanest stall.  These are people who feel their gender identity is the opposite of their assigned sex, and they just need to go to the bathroom.  Let’s be honest, think of how many you personally know – I can almost guarantee that’s more than the number of times you’ll run into a transgender person in a bathroom. So with that in mind, I think this whole thing rather ridiculous. Thank you lawmakers, but I don’t need your protection on this issue.

As a friend said, “keep your eyes on your own urinal.”

 

Another Gym Update

I know, I know, you were hoping I’d give an update on the gym. You probably looked at your computer just this morning and offered up a silent prayer, “let today be the day Beth updates me on the gym.” Well, here it is – the long anticipated (sometimes known as “not anticipated at all, oh dear God, I hope she doesn’t ask if I read it”) gym update.

I may have mentioned (“may” because I’m not going to re-read my first gym post – I’m like you, I don’t want to read my stuff either) that initially going to the gym was intimidating. I’m a big girl. A big girl who had done research on gyms by Googling things like “best gym for fat people,” which gave results that showed exactly how disgusted (and vocal) some people were when it came to obese people at the gym. Those Google results quickly ended my search/desire to join a gym for a couple of years. I didn’t want to be the fat girl people would sneer at for having waited too long to address my issue. Thankfully, and with the help of a co-worker, I got over that. (Well, over it enough that I can continue to go to the gym and not worry about what everyone else is thinking (on most days)). I’m told, I’m not actually at the forefront of everyone’s minds when I enter a room. My take away is: I need to step-up my entrances, clearly they’re too bland.

I’m now on seven months of regularly going to the gym. I go five days a week before work. I was that person who was there on Thanksgiving Day, and I would have been there Christmas morning, but I was told that gym folks like their holidays, too. I can count on one hand the number of days I’ve missed, and those have mostly been due to things like holidays or that time I had a cold, and figured it would be kind not to gross the gym universe out or spread germs. I’m now stronger. I’m slightly smaller; however, that said, I have a long ways to go. I have bad habits that still need to be addressed. Hey, I didn’t get here by snacking on jicama and lettuce leaves. Who knows, in a couple of years I may post before and after photos where you can say, “I definitely see a difference” versus if I were to post them now and you’d be left with, “Is this the before? Or is this is the after? Before? Or after? I think I see it. I mean yeah, I totally see it. Ummm… How about those Longhorns? Huh?”

My one gym regret is I didn’t start sooner. Oh, and that I allowed the negative posts to impact me in the way they did. I really let them get in my head. (Truth be told, they’re still in my head. They’re just a little more muted.) That held me back far too long. In fact, when I find myself getting too worked up about it, which happens less and less frequently, I take a note from my trainer – I look around the room and ask myself, “are there people in better shape than you?” Of course. “Are there people in worse shape?” Well, now that I’ve opened my eyes a bit, yes. “You’re not the best nor are you the worst, you’re just one person among many who is working on themselves.”

If I could magically go back in time, I’d show myself all the support I continuously received. The times I’m wearing my Flash t-shirt (because I’m really fast – no wait, I think it’s because I love irony) and Debbie (because now I have gym friends) has shouted, “GOOD MORNING, GORGEOUS!!! You’re looking great!” The times I’ve had trainers stop me and say, “you’re doing so good; I’m impressed with how hard you work. Keep it up!” The times I’ve had people stop me and ask about my routine and my training. In fact recently a woman came up and said, “hi, my friend and I have been watching you to get ideas about how to improve our workout, and I wanted to stop by and tell you that you’re an inspiration.” I was literally blown away. Me? An inspiration? She didn’t seem drunk and there wasn’t any obvious snickering. I was so taken aback and flattered; I think I smiled all day. I had one woman tell her trainer while pointing at me, “I want to be like her.” I was covered in sweat, hair plastered to my face  (in other words looking gorgeous) doing my chipper (an evil thing). “She’s always has a smile on her face and is happy to be here.” I tried to explain, between stepping up on a stool and wheezing “I’m an idiot, I actually don’t know any better,” but inside I thought how cool it was that I could present a cheerful image, one that people aspired to be more like, while simultaneously wanting to face plant on the mat. Clearly, I’m a multi-tasker with a big, goofy grin on my face!

Maybe I’m just lucky, but I’ve truly met some of the nicest, kindest, and most encouraging people at the gym who keep me going – whom I look forward to seeing each weekday. The intimidating horror show I had braced myself for turned out to be a welcoming environment. And I want to put my post out there for anyone who is overweight, and has concerns about being judged when they walk through that door. The gym can actually be an inviting place, and the longer you go and become familiar with it and the regulars, the more you’ll find it can be a place filled with encouragement, friendship, and even inspiration. There are definitely gyms out there that are designed for people who are pretty hardcore, and there will always be judgmental people, but there are also just as many gyms, if not more, that cater to a broader range of body types/abilities – with people just like you. Walk in, walk around, and then really look at everyone there. You’ll likely find you’re not alone.

(I type these warm thoughts while simultaneously thinking, “I will cut that couple tomorrow if they hog the rowing machines again.”  Realizing “cut” in Beth is really “seriously stink-eye” while muttering fussily, “oh, come on!!!” Hey, the gym can be a fairly cut-throat place and the rowing machines are prime real estate at 5:30am on a Monday. Also, it turns out your trainer will not beat up row machine hogs.  She claims it’s not a thing. Hmph.)

Gym Vocabulary

My blog is all about personal anecdotes, and you may have noticed that lately my blog posts have been a bit sporadic  (if “sporadic” means non-existent).  Blame my whole lack of doing things or maybe blame the folks I’m around for carrying on like normal people are supposed to (“normal” as depicted on television, film, or a Norman Rockwell painting – all great sources of reality, and it’s actually quite mind boggling (dare I say disturbing?) that the people I know are behaving in such a way). Let’s face it, If someone isn’t methodically slamming their grocery cart into the back of mine repeatedly instead of saying, “excuse me” or you know, moving around my cart obstacle, it can be challenging to tease together a blog-worthy story.  (Ok, I suppose that guy never actually made it to the blog, but mostly because I wasn’t bolstered by a pitchfork carrying mob or in the presence of a bruiser of a bodyguard to shout, “get ‘im!”at.)

A few weeks back, a certain mouse suggested a blog post  based off a comment about the gym. I’m going to  run with that idea, since there’s only so much I can tell you about my photo appearing in the local online paper’s “A List” (it’s all about timing and a Santa hat) or going to see Postmodern Jukebox (YouTube video below).

Austin 360 – Conspirare’s Big Sing! Event

Anyway, back to the story about the gym.

Since I started actively going to the gym in August, I’ve learned that my trainer and I have very different understandings when it comes to the definitions of words.  I personally blame her Midwestern upbringing – maybe the harsher conditions or plain living affected her brain adversely.  Who knows? Granted, I realize that people outside of Texas may find this statement ironic or even scoff at the idea that Texans can actually get anything right (insert a few political jokes here), but I contend based on my limited interaction with this delightful Missouri native, that I have a better understanding of words – at least when it comes to adjectives.

On any given weekday I arrive at training dressed in my gym finery with my hair pulled back, holding my water bottle (lest I be stuck drinking spit as she’s suggested before), and exuding my pluckiest, “it’s 5:30am!!!!!” attitude, which may look like I’ve been hit in the face with a door repeatedly, but it’s an exceptionally plucky door.  On a couple of those days, I meet up with my trainer Jenn who always declares, “you’re going to LOVE what we’re doing today; it’s going to be so much FUN!” She somehow manages to deliver this news with a straight face every time.  Clearly, she’s not a person to be trifled with should a poker game break out (as you know they often can do in the middle of a gym).

This is usually where I tell Jenn, as she’s doing a little dance, because “fun” and “love” somehow also involve an impromptu dance or song, that I don’t think she understands the meanings of the words she’s using.  See, her idea of “fun” and “love” usually involve me temporarily losing my ability to move easily out of chairs for a day. On days where things are “super fun”, I lose that same ability to move easily for multiple days – maybe even a weekend.   Pitiful noises including tiny gasps and whimpering echo quietly through the office or house.  I dread “super fun” days. Thankfully, those days occur less often.  In fact, I haven’t had a true “super fun” day in months.  I don’t tell Jenn this in the event she gets worried we’re not having as much “fun” as we could.

Just recently a new word, “chipper,”  was added to her twisted vocabulary.  I wish she’d waited until she was a little more clear on “fun” and “love” before jumping into a brand new word, but what can you do? “Chipper” is very similar to those other words in that its definition is the exact opposite of what a normal person would expect.  You see, upon exploring the topic of a “chipper,” which is used as a noun of all things, I’ve learned you definitely won’t be anything close to “chipper” (the adjective) upon its completion. Instead, you can expect to be sweaty, exhausted, or even a little unsteady, but likely not chipper as what once passed as muscle becomes rubber, and you contemplate how long one can lay on the mat breathing heavily before others become alarmed.   “Chipper,” in her crazy upside down world, describes  a series of events designed to make you cry. I think “they” (the gym “man”) uses it as a way to lure you in – a good old fashioned “bait and switch” technique.  “Here Beth, we’re going to do something “fun”, you’re going to “love” it, it’s called a “chipper.”” A sentence that roughly translates to, “you will probably hate your life, but thanks to your early onset senility you’ll likely do this again and again, because hey we’ve called it a “chipper””.

I think they may be right. As I finished my chipper last week, and went about returning all of the various equipment (you see, a chipper also involves hoarding all loose gym equipment Smaug style, but said like “smog” instead of “sma-ooog” because that’s just silly), I passed by Jenn who cheerfully called out, “how did you enjoy that chipper?”  And I,  being sensitive to her vocabulary challenges, called back, “it was fun! I loved it! It was my favorite!” This prompted her to give me a thumbs up and misuse another word in response, “AWESOME!!”

I then took my “awesome” self back to the locker room ending another “awesome” moment at the gym.  Of course, tomorrow I’ll be back at it for more “fun,” more things I “love,” and ready for another day where I “chipper” my heart out even though the meanings of these words are a bit mixed up.

And now for some Postmodern Jukebox – a GREAT show!  Thanks to Ben for introducing me to them and April for going with me as part of my birthday month silliness.

Sam Update: We’re Getting Old, Mom

This is more a family post, and of course by “family” I mean “people I’d hug in an airport after having not seen them in a while” or “people I’d give a jovial pat on the back to – of course, from a respectable distance. You know, the ones I’d still have cocktails with while trying to dust the cobwebs out of my memory ‘how is… oh, you know…  him? That guy you’ve lived with for like 15 years'” (aka my “close” friends).  (To my friends: I totally know the names of your significant others except that one friend who switches them out so much that I can’t keep track; I’m just too old  – in your case, I hope you don’t mind that I’ve named the guy of the moment “Jeff” – seems generic enough, and I’m sure .01% of the time I might be right.)

Anyway, the rest of you are welcome to stay (who knows, one day I might hug you in an airport), but the post may get boring in bits.  For the rest of you, particularly Drew (Sam’s favorite long distance uncle), here’s the update:

After surviving 7 years of kitty trauma, a new beast has entered the house.  The smallish ball of fluff and claws goes by Quincy and appears to be easily amused by round things, tubey things, sproingy things, and all things Sam.  Sam is the best!!! Sam would like you to know that despite Quincy’s best efforts to extend the olive branch of friendship (which usually comes in the form of tail batting and Quincy desperately trying to rub his head against her chin) that she is onto his clever ploys and not having it!  Sam has explained in her disgruntled old lady way, on more than one occasion, that she’s wise to Quincy’s motives. He’s a cat. Sam would also like it noted that all of the food is Sam’s – Quincy’s food, the human’s food, food that may not be readily visible or in the house, food that may be a chef’s pipe dream – that’s all hers – move along.  The joys of a furry kingdom.

The not as fun bits – Sam is almost 13 years old, and as all the other pet owners at the vet who ask Sam’s age like to point out as they sigh dramatically, she’s practically at death’s door.  At Monday’s appointment a woman cheerily offered, “well, my friend’s beagle is 17 – of course, she’s blind and miserable – oh hey, good luck at your appointment!” Jay would say at this point, “that’s not exactly what she said,” but I have a blog, and well that was my take away.  Sam was at the vet Monday, because the previous week she had become somewhat listless – she’d completely stopped her peppy runs to get food, or to get snacks, or to see what we were up to (just in case food was involved – paws crossed – hey, she’s a hound).  Instead she walked slowly, face and ears drooped, and tail down. Normally, when she’s slowed down it’s due to a flare up of her arthritis (after two CCL surgeries she has arthritis in her knees as well as her hips and shoulders). I scheduled an appointment so we could get her pain managed – hooray for anti-inflammatories. However, right before we were about to take her in she staggered across the room, her legs went out from under her and she fell; this was a new symptom that was heartbreaking to see.  We arrived at the vet carrying her in a blanket as she shook uncontrollably completely unable to walk.

After her examination, which involved me having to jump in with things like “she had Horner’s Syndrome in both sides of her face, which is why she’s not blinking as quickly for your eye test” and “she’s had surgeries on both her knees, and has arthritis which is why she taking a moment to recover from her paw being folded over,” the vet came back with her diagnosis. The long and short of it is that Sam injured her neck. We’re not sure how, and the vet couldn’t tell us  if she had a spinal injury, a pinched nerve, or if it was muscle strain.  The vet said “to x-ray her I’d need to sedate her and with her kidney issues (she’s old) I’d rather avoid it since what I’m going to recommend is the exact same thing we’d end up doing regardless of what the x-ray showed.  This “exact same thing” equals more meds (steroids, muscle relaxers, and generic Pepcid to keep everything down), cold compresses on her neck, and neck massages.  All of this is added on top of her old lady meds of glucosamine, fish oil, kidney meds, and pain killers.

Sam’s current (daunting) daily med regimen – everything on the top row is just a normal day (minus the AAA batteries). The bottom row represents new additions. Note: “acid” is actually “antacid” – we’re not quite that cruel.

The hardest thing is watching as she tries to get around – she stumbles, her paws cross awkwardly in front of each other as she does her best to remain balanced. Then there are the falls.  She’ll be fine, and then she’ll go over.  Thankfully, she prefers to lay down. The second hardest is her appetite.  She’s a hound! Sure, your dog may have an appetite – that’s cute, but you clearly haven’t met a hound.  Hounds are stomachs with legs and a nose. The vet warned before we left, “these steroids will make her hungrier than usual and extremely thirsty”.  I thought, “ugh, a perfect beagle storm”.  Sam will gladly recount the 2,685+ days that she’s been famished. Hey, what does it take to get some food up in this place?  It turns out the new meds not only have not made her more hungry (that would be too easy), they’ve made it so she now has a strong distaste for all of her food.  This includes all of the pill pockets we typically use to hide away the 100 pills she must ingest daily.  Carrots, which were something we might kill a new kitten over a week ago, are disgusting.  Food that had to be delivered in a slow feed bowl – disgusting.  Green beans, which we loved – disgusting.  In fact, she’s a little curious as to why we seem hell bent on insulting her with this garbage.  Attempts to hide pills in peanut butter (which we loved, but now hate), cheese (which is fine, I suppose, but only if flat and not in a ball which might be secreting a pill), or the Kong bacon/cheese whiz stuff (which used to be super delicious) are met with contempt and a firm patooey.   (Patooey’s always end with a happy wag that says, “you can’t fool me with your poisons! Silly mom!”) Then a light went off, “hey wait a minute, I can pill a 29 lb. dog”.  I mean, I’ve pilled cats and Sam is a lot easier than any of our cats.  Great thought.  Points to me for having it – oh sweet, delightful hubris – but you see when it comes to a neck injury, you can’t get that throat into the ideal position for pilling.  One small whimper reminded me, and we’ve been pilling as a last resort in the least ideal of neck positions.  Least ideal neck positions equal more patooey’s and some unnecessary hurtful comments about the less than ideal flavor of my fingers. Thank God for hot dogs, which still do the trick (most of the time).  As for food, we’ve also discovered that boiled chicken (YUMMMMMY!!!) and rice (meh) work.  They can also be blended, along with glucosamine, into a lovely paste.  How I miss the days I could simply put the glucosamine pill on the floor and it would be lapped up with a wag and a happy, “what else you got?” look.

As of today, nearly a week out from the vet visit, Sam is walking better, wagging more, and even trotting – maybe not as steadily as she can, but it’s a huge improvement since Monday.  Quincy has seen Sam’s injury as a real opportunity to become best buds,.  Proper bonding involves leaping out at her while she’s trying to get some rest, flopping down and rolling on his back in her path, extra sniffs, and sticking his head in her bowl while she’s eating (and not getting yelled at – at least not by Sam).  This is a super exciting time, and he figures they’ll be cuddling any day now.  Sam mostly pretends that Quincy is a hallucination and does her best to ignore him.

Over the past year we’ve had some serious talks with her about not getting old, but unfortunately she doesn’t seem to want to listen.  Still, despite the chatter of the other vet clients, she’s not at death’s door yet.  She’s just an old lady – a little slow, a little arthritic, but still our happy girl. (And happier each day as she becomes more and more steady.)