Monthly Archives: September 2011

Skunked But Not Defeated

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The past two weeks have forced me to move my blog to the present day.  Having loved dogs all my life, I have an extreme fear of skunks.  Now in the abstract I find them quite cute.  One of my acquaintances once kept domesticated skunks in her home.  I know they have terrible eyesight, similar to myself and this is why they often end up as roadkill.  The automobile is their most dangerous enemy.  And who doesn’t love Pepe Le Pew?  Mel Blanc’s charming and romantic rancid skunk that has a crush on a black and white cat.

Last May I was shocked when suddenly my two dogs ran to the door barking crazily as a skunk scurried across our patio.  I immediately contacted my former skunk owning acquaintance who advised me that skunks do not like noise or light.  So each morning and evening when I let my dogs out, I turned on the light, had flashlight in hand and made lots of noise.  I chanted something like, “Skunk oh skunk, please stay away, come again another day.”   Then a few days later we smelled that obvious skunk roadkill scent and wondered, was that our skunk?  We don’t like to think of dead animals, but we secretly hoped our skunk had died a quick and peaceful death.  All was forgotten as summer arrived and along with it lawn mowers and other typically loud summer noises.

Then last week our household was reduced to one dog.  My beloved dog of 14 years, Pumpkin had to be put to sleep as she faced ever increasing health issues.  My husband and I could not bear to see her suffer, and though he had only known her for a little over two years, she had definitely become a “Daddy’s Girl.”  Our other dog, Jose was quite confused by her absence.  He looked up to her and respected her as his alpha.  They liked to snuggle together and they only really had one fight on the first day he joined our household so that she could establish her dominant role.  I used to joke that Jose was waiting for the right female to boss him around and that he was then perfectly content.  Jose is without a doubt my dog soulmate.  I rescued him from a friend who had a teenage son with some wild friends who were mistreating him.  We bonded instantly and he never looked back.  He actually could not wait to go with me and jumped into my car instead of his former owner’s.  He is also the namesake of two very wonderful men.  Jose Reyes who lost his battle with AIDs and Jose Perez who lost his battle with Lung Cancer.  When I first adopted him I will never forget my conversation with Jose P.  I explained to him that my brother thought I was crazy for getting a second dog.  Jose encouraged me and said, “Don’t worry about what he thinks.  This is your decision, and if it feels right to you then do it.”   I then told him I planned to name him after my wonderful friend Jose and as usual had put my foot in my mouth when he became excited and I explained I meant Jose Reyes.  “No, not you my friend Jose who passed away from AIDs years ago.  Remember him?”  Sometimes my comments come pouring out and can come across as completely insensitive.  I immediately explained that I also thought Jose P was a wonderful person, but still alive and that I thought of Jose my terrier as a namesake.  Of course he understood.  Little did we both know that he would be diagnosed with Lung Cancer just two years later.

So this past Tuesday, my husband awakened at 6 AM and it was quite dark out.  Jose went with him as is the routine to go outside first and then have breakfast in the kitchen.  The next thing I know, a terrified dog jumps into my bed with my husband close behind yelling.  To say Jose smelled is an understatement.  He reeked of a putrid mix of onion, garlic, urine and burnt rubber.  I bounded out of bed in a daze grabbed him and ran to the tub.  He did not smell like essence of skunk roadkill, so I had no idea what had happened.  As the vomit came up in my throat, I held it back and shampooed him with his dog shampoo.  My husband helped and then began stripping the bed.  The entire house smelled of this rancid odor.  I then spent all day doing load of laundry after load of laundry.  Jose was bathed in every internet recommended remedy. The PBS website explained the initial spray of skunk smells more like putrid onion and garlic. The one that worked best was vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, Dawn Detergent and baking soda.  Everywhere Jose had went smelled of skunk.  When my husband arrived at his office several docs and nurses exclaimed, “Eww, I smell skunk.”  He had to take his jacket outside to the trunk of the car.  I am used to some pretty bad smells working in a hospital, but this was the worst ever.  I even had to sponge clean the mattress in a peroxide, baking soda solution.  We could not save Jose’s dog bed.  When my husband is tired he does not think to yell the simple command, “Jose WAIT!”  It might have stopped him in his tracks.  Now every morning he will chant his own skunk stay away song and I will place some moth balls in the yard.  After many scented candles, one more bath for Jose and lots more laundry, I think our house is finally back to smelling fragrantly of cleanliness.

Now my poor little 10lb. Rat Terrier has recovered, my husband and I did not blame or yell at each other once, and I could laugh a bit at my OCD home cleanliness being tossed on its ear.  Of course this is nothing in the grand scheme of things compared to losing Pumpkin or my two wonderful human Jose’s, but it was still an event to be remembered and one I hope to never experience again.

What events have tested your composure lately?  Write me as I need a good laugh or cry.

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Sex and the Not So Big City

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Having what would end up being a year and a half without work due to my MG (Myasthenia Gravis) exacerbation gave me time to focus on many areas of my life that had long been neglected.  Up until then I had worked long hours and for the most part and excluding vacations a greater than 40 hour work week.  This left little time for friends, family, volunteering and a personal life.

At first most of my time was consumed with treatments and physician visits, but slowly I began to put my life back together.  At first I spent quite a bit of time doing small things I had put off for years.  Catching up on appointments, buying items that I had needed, visiting old and dear friends, visiting family and choosing volunteer opportunities.  I even had a chance to see my nephew graduate from college.  I laughed to myself when I realized his graduation coincided with a Borders national meeting.  It had seemed that throughout my career meetings that I was required to attend were coincidentally scheduled when I had an important personal commitment arise.  I had to sacrifice the personal for work, but at the time that was okay as work was affording me many opportunities that I would not have had otherwise.

One day while walking my dogs at the local park, I decided it was time to venture out into the dating world again.  I was ready after a long respite and I also felt that I most importantly knew that I could be single and happy.  This was key as I had known numerous unhappily married people. People who were settling for each other.  They assumed no one else would have them and they were terrified of being lonely and single and financially independent. In some cases the women were willing to support the men financially in order to keep them. I had also recently had several friends divorce.  This was quite surprising as I had assumed the marriages had been solid.

So off I went into the sea looking for fish.  But my fish, if I was lucky enough to catch one, was going to be intelligent, financially secure (because I wanted an equal), a dog lover (because I have two wonderful and amazing dogs), handsome (because chemistry is important to me), considerate, caring, funny, concerned about the well being of others and when I looked at him standing at the kitchen counter I could love and accept him despite his flaws.

First I tried online dating.  I carefully crafted my clever profile and cast my line.  Unfortunately, the first one I caught was married.  Yes, they are out there and they are online advertising themselves as single or separated, separated meaning I hope I meet someone online who gives me an excuse to leave my wife.  Now many have had wonderful results with online dating and have met their future spouse, partner or soulmate, but I was not going to be one of those. However it was a way to learn how to date again and put myself out there, so to speak.  I also learned how to deal with rejection again, not heartbreaking rejection, you never learn how to deal with that, but mild rejection.  Such as the guy who says he will call you right back and never does or the the guy who says he had a wonderful time and can’t wait to see you again, but then never calls.  I also learned how to mildly reject.  A couple of guys I met for coffee, I actually felt a great deal of empathy for and considered seeing them again to build their confidence.  One loved the writer, Cormac McCarthy, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when he turned out to be the silent type.  A couple spent the date telling me about their first wives and I hope my advice helped them to avoid that on future dates.  Oh and then of course there were the “in the closet” gay guys giving it one more go to see if they could be straight.  Why me, I began to ask?  Pretty soon the HBO Saturday night movie or dinner with the girls was looking much more appealing.  The one that lasted for the most dates turned out to be a nice, but ultimately overly controlling and opinionated man who had a hard time saying something nice about his children.  It wasn’t surprising to me that his wife left him for another woman.  I certainly left him for the company of my women friends.

Then came the men in the neighborhood.  I lived in a very single condo community with a pool and gym.  It was easy to meet men, especially when I no longer left for work before daylight and returned home from work after dark.   There was the teacher, the consultant and the unemployed guy.  Well, he was employed at first, but then sadly lost his job and all his self-confidence and personality.  I have read that the economic downturn has led to many couples staying married as they cannot afford divorce.  On the flip side the economy had been very hard on single women.  Dating and meeting someone is hard enough, but when the first date conversation revolves around the impending foreclosure and massive credit card debt, it just becomes downright depressing.  The HBO movies were becoming more and more appealing.

Finally, came those old flames or flame wannabes with whom you hope to make it work, if given another chance.  I won’t keep you in suspense or bore you with the details except to yell, “Next.”

By the time a friend suggested fixing me up with my future husband I had been pretty beaten down by the frogs and by my own dashed dreams and expectations.  However, I was still proud of myself, I had not settled.  I had matured and felt stronger than ever.  I was still happy and I still had my friends and family.  I agreed to the date although I was a bit reluctant to go, afraid of yet another disappointment.  But this time that was not to be the case.

The friend who fixed me up with my future husband was one of the nurses at the Pheresis Clinic.  Through a tough treatment that I continue to need at least monthly, I met the man who would become the love of my life.  I was terrified at first of this treatment and met this friend on my first visit to the clinic.  She would end up changing my life.  Throughout this dating process my husband and one other guy who I dated for a year from the neighborhood were the only ones I told about the MG.  It is not a topic for the first date.  Although one of my online dates thought that the details of his colonoscopy was an appropriate topic.  “This salad is delicious and oh yeah by the way I have this weird disease that no one has ever heard of and no it isn’t terminal or contagious.”  But when I finally told my husband he had such a great response that I knew right then that he and I were going to go far.  He said, “I am glad that you told me and, well we all have something that we’re dealing with.”  It is so true.  We all have our version of MG.  It was time to invite him over for an HBO movie.

Still with me?  I hope so as I have so much more to tell.