Monday, June 27, 2011

Proof That I Am Not A Kid-Hating Monster

Check it out people!

This is me with Stella and Wella's little girl Mirabella. Wella produced a short I wrote and we shot all day Saturday. As a writer, I like to be on set, not to peer over the director's shoulder and hiss "They're not saying the lines right!" (they said the lines fine) but so I can be an extra set of hands wherever they're needed, since everyone's a volunteer, everyone needs help, here I am to help, la la la.

So I went on Starbucks runs, I made watermelon water (pureed watermelon, water, and lime), I cleaned dishes, I started to make the director her special strawberry smoothie but she came down on a break and was horrified that the writer was making her smoothie and took over. I guess she was embarrassed at the perception that I was a lackey, but I didn't really care. I take the attitude of "I'm a servant" on these things. Sometimes to my detriment, but Saturday was fine.

Towards the end of the night, when all the dishes were washed and they were still shooting, I joined Stella in trying to cajole Mirabella to go to sleep. All my usual remedies did NOT work, not crooning 80's music, not crooning Disney tunes. Any steps toward a dark room to prompt Sleepy Eyes were met with howls and yowls.

Finally I busted out what had to be the best remedy for Awake Baby - reading to her recipes from a cookbook that happened to be on the coffee table. We went over the different ways to make creme brulee - butane blowtorch or iron salamander. Mirabella did not have a preference on how to make creme brulee, nor did she go to sleep upon the crooning recitation on how to do so. I finally gave up and handed her back to Stella, but I would like to point out that yes, I tried, I failed, but when I left around midnight, she still wasn't sleeping, and she was soundly in her mother's arms.

A lot of the time, when people hear you don't want children, they assume you must hate them. Not true, not true. No, I do not want to be a mother, I don't think I would make a good one BUT that doesn't mean I can't hold a cute kid and try several ways to get it to go to sleep.

(as far as I know, Mirabella is still up. Let's pray for her mom, Stella, shall we?)

Monday, June 20, 2011

World's Shortest Post

So if you wanna truly be shamed about how you’re praying, someone will usually come along and say something to be the equivalent of “Stop praying for stuff. Spend time with God and get to know Him more.”

Get to know God more, that’s always a sentence you can throw out that nobody can argue with. Because nobody REALLY knows God. That’s the Catch 22. By definition, God is unknowable, but you’re supposed to make your life’s pursuit spending time with Him and getting to know Him, even though you’ll never TRULY know Him, but you gotta try. Rather than ask Him for things like a new car. Or even a used car.

I think as humans, our knee jerk response to the phrase, “Get to know God” translates into “Get to know God more so you’ll understand why He’s not giving you the stuff you’re asking Him to give you.”

How can you know the unknowable? I think a lot of the time, the church will send you off with a cheerio, “Go read the Bible! He’s in there! You’ll learn all sorts of things about Him if you read your Bible and spend time in prayer.” Spend time in prayer getting to know Him, the unknowable.

I’m still working on it myself.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I'm Not A Mom, I'm An Alpha Dog

I’m on the verge of being sick, and it’s pretty much Damien’s fault. This dog is intent on destroying me, whether by allergy attacks to his my-owners-say-I-don’t-shed-but-I-waited-until-they-were-gone-to-unleash-my-fur-attack! Or from flat out exhaustion trying to wrangle him – stopping him from eating everything in the house, using all my arm strength to stop him from pulling me on walks. Or maybe depression – I have two more days of a two week gig, and this has been a truly miserable experience, made bearable only by the money I earn, and the fact that I’m close to the end.

The very very sad part is that I’ve already signed up for another tour of duty with this guy, a five day gig that happens NEXT week. So I really only get a week off from this madness.

And part of me knew it would be madness and thought from a clinical perspective that it would be an interesting challenge – Try and retain your marbles in the midst of insanity. I haven’t done that in quite some time. I think the last time I thought I was losing my mind was 2009 with Polka Dotta Platypus running for so long. How will I know I have my Marble Retaining Ability if I haven’t exercised that Marble Retaining Muscle!? Remember how to mentally stretch your arms and center yourself when things are demanding your attention at every angle!

We all know that I don’t want kids. Every now and then well intentioned someone will ask, “Are you sure you don’t wanna have kids?” Like I could somehow grow a biological clock. Am I sure I don’t wanna have kids? Well, are you sure you’re whatever sexual orientation you are? I mean, after all, couldn’t you just change your mind!? That’s basically the thought pattern behind that question – you could just change your mind and want to have them, couldn’t you?

That’s so not how it works, people. You have the biological clock, or you don’t. You like guys, or you like girls. It’s not a choice. It’s how God made you.

And I’m pretty sure God made me without a biological clock because He knew I would make a horrible mother (I think I would make an awesome mentor to a troubled gay youth, though), and these two weeks of terror with Damien proves it.

Damien is two years old and 110 pounds. He has the attention span of a gnat. He is as stubborn as a Texas beauty queen who wants access to her trust fund. And his piles o’ poop are towering monuments to excrement.

I am not used to any of this. Ginger Puppy and Basil Diva Dog are well behaved. They sit by my feet when I write. They come when they’re called. They heel on walks. And their poop piles are as dainty as teacups.

Damien is not used to a dogsitter. He ran the last one off, she got a job as an editor with really long hours, and when she came home, Damien wouldn’t let her sleep.

Let’s repeat that. THE DOG WOULDN’T LET HER SLEEP! He would jump on her in bed and pull the covers off and then go chomp some pillows to get attention, and she ran screaming down the driveway, never to be seen again. I think.

Now I’m up at bat. And I’m determined not to lose. Not to an f’ing DOG. “I’M the Alpha Dog!” I tell Damien when he doesn’t wanna go on his walk, “I’M IN CHARGE!” I yell through the bathroom door when he’s whining and scratching on the door because I won’t let him come in when I’m on the toilet. “I’m doing something for me right now, I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU WANT,” as he’s trying to get my hands off the keyboard and on his head, see?

(p.s., don’t even think that he’s acting this way because I don’t play with him. I run circles around the damn house playing Keep Away with him. The issue isn’t that I don’t play. The issue is that he doesn’t STOP playing.)

This has strangely brought up all sorts of childhood memories. There were two running themes to my childhood: 1. You Don’t Really Need That (And I Will Make You Feel Guilty If You Make Me Give It To You) 2. I Don’t Care What You Want, You’re Doing What I Say.

I didn’t want to go to Gymnastics? TOO BAD! I signed you up for those classes, and we’re not wasting the money. I don’t wanna run a mile around the track!? TOO BAD! We’re not leaving until you do, I have the keys to the car and you’re not old enough to drive yet. I want to stay home for the summer? TOO BAD! You’re going to camp in another state for six weeks.

Now, my parents actually did the right thing (with the exception of not listening to me when I said I wasn’t a long distance runner) I don’t have to be a parent to know that you don’t give in to your child, especially if the child is saying, “But I don’t wanna.” It’s because my parents made me go to gymnastics class and made me go to six week camp in another state that I had a pretty damn robust childhood. I learned how to shoot rifles, work a bow and arrow, did time on a pottery wheel, placed fourth in a horse riding competition even though I had only met that horse twenty minutes before the competition started.

Your child does not know better. You know better.

Damien does not know better. I know better.

So I deny Damien a lot. I don’t let him do a lot of things, like eat the sofa. He does not get my hands scratching his ears 24/7. He is learning, whether he wants to or not, that he is not the most important thing in this room. That would be the computer. ☺

While some would argue this does INDEED make me a good parental figure, it does not. Because I don’t want a dog of my own, and I don’t really want Damien, I’m merely enduring him. There is no love for Damien here. Instead, I’m a cranky exhausted sneezy person who has not lost her marbles yet, but is very much looking forward to Wednesday night and beyond, especially because I get a weekend gig with my favorites Ginger Puppy and Basil Diva Dog, and the most incredible bed in the universe.

And I almost wanna walk Ginger Puppy and Basil Diva Dog past Damien’s house and scream, “SEE!? SEE!? THESE ARE WHAT WELL BEHAVED DOGS LOOK LIKE! THESE ARE MY FAVORITES!!! YOU ARE NOT MY FAVORITE AND YOU PROBABLY WON’T EVER BE!”

That is why I would not make a good mother.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Damien and Facing Your Fears

Everyone say hello to Damien. Okay, fine. He’s not REALLY the devil. He’s just sapping my will to live is all. OH I KNOW.

Sure, sure, you look at that face and you think Amy! How on earth could a face like that harbor any kind of horribleness? Look at that face!? He’s a sweetheart!

Damien is a new dog client, a referral I got from Pepe and Pembleton. And Damien lives about five minutes away from my house, so everything’s convenient.

And I’m sure he is a sweetheart. Or actually, I’m sure he will be. In about five years. See, Damien is a sixty pound two-year-old German Shepherd dog they got from a shelter. It’s wonderful that they rescued him, yes yes yes of course. Save a dog’s life, wonderful, you’re going to heaven, yes, yes, of course. But Damien is TWO YEARS OLD. The last dogsitter washed out because she got an editing gig with a lot of late hours. There were rumors that she was scared of Damien. I doubt all of that. I bet that the truth is simply that Damien wore her out.

Damien is exhausting. I started this gig on Friday, and I’ve got two and a half weeks with him. Of course the first few days are exhausting as dog and dogsitter get used to each other. It is my secret hope that he calms down really soon. Maybe bitching about him in this blog will be the reverse jinx that makes him finally go to sleep (I gave him a few owner-approved natural doggie Calm Down Aids an hour ago. HE’S STILL GOING, FOLKS!)

All Damien wants to do is play Tug Of War. 24/7. His little dog brain has no concept of time, and given the chance, he’d play Tug Of War forever.

I’m fine playing with dogs for a little while. But not ALL DAY LONG. I’ve got work to do. I’ve got stuff to write. It’s the weekend, I’ve got naps to take.

But Damien wants to play Tug Of War. And if you won’t play with his red rubber spiral thing for as long as he wants, he will go chomp on the nearest thing made of fabric and flaunt his naughtiness in front of you. This includes:

The computer chair padded armrest
The bed comforter
Kitchen Seat Cushions
My shoes

When you shout “NO!” or “DROP IT!” or “THOSE ARE MY LEATHER BOOTS!” he doesn’t drop them, but instead runs laps around the dining room table while you frantically try to get the thing out of his mouth before he pokes holes in them. To his credit, he hasn’t poked holes in anything, he’s just trying to get your attention so you’ll play with him for another hour. He also hasn’t knocked anything off any tables either, and this place is filled with all sorts of crystal and porcelain bric-a-brac, so he’s super conscientious of anything that’s not already in his mouth.

And I get it. He’s two. He’s a rescue dog. He’s spoiled by his two retired Stay At Home Senior Citizen Daddies Who Play With Him All Day Long.

But when it’s midnight, and I’m desperately trying to get some sleep and I hear chomp chomp chomp is that a RIP?! down at the bottom of the bed, I wonder how I’m gonna make it through two more weeks of this.

At first, I thought Damien was going to be a perfect metaphor for Facing Your Fears. Because let’s face it, he’s a sixty pound German Shepherd, and those things are intimidating at first sight. The first time I met Damien, he was barking at me through my the dutch door at my own house, because he was over for a playdate with Pepe and Pembleton. I opened the half door and WHOOSH! ROWRORWROWROWRWOWOWOWOW!

A normal person rears back in the face of such aggression (And thinks something along the lines of DUDE! THIS IS MY HOUSE!), which only incites Damien ah-HA! She’s scared of me! She’s automatically guilty of something! GET HER GET HER GET HER!

I quickly shut the Dutch door after that and thought it was the end of it.

But the summer months are prime months for dogsitters, and Damien’s previous dogsitter washed out and well, why not? Why not face down a metaphor for fear? What else will I blog about this week? Nothing else is going on.

So I got a walkthrough with Damien last Sunday, got his feeding and walking routines, he sniffed me long enough to where we all thought he’d know who I was when I showed up on Friday morning.

So when I step out of the car into the driveway and see him losing his mind barking at me through the gate, my thoughts go something like this:

Show No Fear
I Need The Money
God, Please Don’t Let This Dog Bite Me.
“Damien! It’s me, Amy! You know who I am!”
“Damien! I’m not leaving, so you’re just gonna have to get used to this!”
God, Please Don’t Let This Dog Bite Me.
God, Please Don’t Let This Dog Bite Me.
God, Please Don’t Let This Dog Bite Me.
Oh yeah, Show No Fear.

I open the door, and go up the stairs to the closed door. God, if this dog bites me, I’m totally gonna… well, I don’t know what I’m gonna do, because the owners are already off on their river cruise in Europe, so I can’t just default on this, but I am NOT going to be happy. Please, do not let this dog bite me.

God had no response, so I open the door, and here comes Damien, loping down the hall towards me.

Show No Fear. Show No Fear.

Damien skids on the floor…. leaps into the air…. And tries to knock me down with his two-year-old-excitement. I stand firm, and hold the secret weapon of jerky treats out for Damien. He promptly gobbles them up, and then brings me the rubber red spiral toy to play tug of war with. And he has yet to stop.

I guess the metaphor there is Face Your Fears Even When God Doesn’t Respond. Probably Because God Knows You Can Handle Things Even If You Don’t Think You Can. Because You Have Jerky Treats In Your Hand. You Can Take On The World With That.

Here’s hoping.