Monthly Archives: January 2020

Stains. What are they good for?

I can’t think of any positive connotation for stain, can you? The word implies degradation, even ruination. Yet I hunt for these spoilers of the pristine. What’s the attraction?

For starters, I can’t add to perfection. If everything was unmarred, unsullied, untainted, unworn it would be like finding myself in a giant art studio with a huge canvas and no paint. There would be nothing to do. Boring!

So as the lowly maggot is to processing waste, I am to soiled pavement, an agent of transformation. Okay, not quite. My contributions are ephemeral and symbolic rather than transformative and pragmatically useful. Nevertheless, as I pass by the same stains week after week, I find that having spent time turning them into little characters I look forward to seeing them again. The stains become like neighbors, friendly ones I wave at rather than blemishes upon some vast field of unbroken conformity. The familiarity makes me feel I’m really here. Their specificity means I could be no where else.

To deeply notice a thing is to change your perception of it. To interact with it is to become intimate. To collaborate with it is to create a bond. That is why art is so transformative. It is like friendship but with a process rather than a person.

I can’t make the world a less blemished place but I can make the stains more fun.

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Loyalty – How My Dog Inspires Me to Be a Better Person

My dog’s nickname is Buddy. I always say, you never have to ask where Buddy is because he is right there. He is under foot right now. As I type this sentence.

My husband first met Decaf at a dog rescue event in our local park. He and I were former cat people who had lived pet free for over a decade. We had been discussing, in a theoretical far-in-the-future way, that we might should get a cat for our son in a few years. Decaf was a very scared and anxious little fellow that nobody except my husband paid any attention to. I can’t understand this as I find him to be the most ridiculously handsome dog I have ever seen. It’s like if 22 year Brad Pitt had been at a singles event and no ladies could be bothered to look his way. Oh well! His pungent anxiety was our good fortune because it bought us time for the previously non-existent dog shaped holes in our hearts to grow to Decaf proportions.

Decaf is a super weird name for a dog and probably why I call him Buddy so much. We thought we would change it after the adoption but nothing felt right. He just was Decaf. It’s not entirely inappropriate. He can really relax, most especially if in direct proximity to people flesh. But being chill is not the first words a visitor would use to describe him. Like Hopper on Stranger Things, he is steadily growing into an irate curmudgeon. I am positive he would be a police officer if human. Very law and order. If a dog needs barking at from the balcony he’s gonna do it. Doesn’t matter that he was blissfully loved up in a couchy super snuggle before that husky had the nerve to walk past our apartment. No! Decaf is on duty, morning, noon and night! He has never and will never take a sick day y’all.

While his manic guard dog patrolling can get tedious, it also impresses me. He really cares about us. He is down for his pack. He is never ever going to skip out when the going gets tough. Before him I hadn’t experienced this level of unconditional love. My parents of course but dog love is different. You don’t have to navigate the past and the future with a dog. If it’s good now its good period. No guilt, no anxiety. No “what you did” or “who you should become“. Just be with me.

Do I demonstrate my commitment so clearly to the people I love? He’s made me reflect deeply on what it means to be there for someone. It’s not about how you are when you are with them, it’s being with them, period. Decaf inspires me to be more present, more forgiving, more protective, more affectionate and more honest. I fall short because I am a human, not a dog. But I am grateful to be studying with a master.

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