Archive | February, 2012

Beemer: A Tribute to a Beloved Family Pet

24 Feb

Beemer was an old dog back when Husband and I first started dating nearly ten years ago, and she was unique in every way. She was my brother-in-law’s dog from the beginning, protective, as many shelter dogs often are, but she grew to tolerate me and eventually treated me like one of her own. She would greet me when I’d come to the house with her stub-tail wagging as rapidly as a stub-tail can possibly wag, and while she never was much of a “kisser” she would shove her wet nose at me as if to say, “Hey, I’m glad you’re here.”

She was the only dog I’ve ever met who knew right from left, and the way she’d fling herself off the end of the dock into the chilly lake to catch a ball demanded admiration. She was old, but she had spirit. The only creature I’ve ever known to get more excited at the word “fishing” than Beemer was her owner himself. If there was ever a dog who had gumption or chutzpah, it was Beemer.

It may sound corny or exaggerated, but I know my brother-in-law would not be who he is today were it not for his dog. She was with him through happy times, and even more importantly, through those that were dark. When he moved out-of-state, she was his constant. His reminder of home, and his friend. She was there for him at a time when the rest of us couldn’t be, with a cold nose and a wag of her stubby tail.

Toward her later years she lost most of her speed and her agility. Her tolerance waned and she entered what I fondly would call her “crotchety old woman” stage. She didn’t like to be bothered, and most of the time she wouldn’t hear you or see you if you tried. Despite this, two things never changed: her love of fishing, and her love of my brother-in-law.

Today, at the age of nearly 18, my brother-in-law and his wife made the incredibly painful decision to end the suffering old-age can bring and put her down. There are some out there who say that there’s no place for animals in heaven. I disagree. I know that Beemer has entered a place where she is once again young and spunky, with an endless supply of docks, lakes and fishing boats. The next time I see her, I know she’ll be eager to greet me, with a wet nose and a wag of her stubby tail.

R.I.P. Beemer. We’ll miss you.

 

 

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On Cycles of Inspiration, Among Other Things

22 Feb

Today I was able to sit down and write for a solid hour, nearly uninterrupted. While this might sound like a small feat that is hardly brag-worthy, for me, finding time to write something of substance is about easy as climbing Everest. Which is to say, not easy in the slightest.

I’ve found that writing, like nearly everything in my life, comes and goes in cycles. I have periods of inspiration and pencils and paper and carpel tunnel from typing too much and furiously scribbled chicken scratch notes tucked in the most random of places. Then I go through a phase of moping, self-loathing, self-doubt and self-pity, where I write very little, before something reminds me of why I put myself through the loathing, doubt and pity in the first place and the whole cycle starts anew.

My dear friend Ali (who is, herself, an inspiration to me in ways so numerous they can’t be contained in one blog entry) recently tweeted a quote from the great Neil Gaiman’s blog which will stick with me as one of my all-time favorites. It read, “My morale is starting to improve, as it always does when writing happens, and I remember that I actually can do it after all.” This quote struck a chord with me because I read it at a time when I wasn’t writing much, if at all (as my lack of blog entries attests) and I knew instantly that it was true.

It always starts as something relatively innocent that knocks me off track. A good book or a full TiVo, just something that prevents me from writing a page in my novel, or a blog entry, or even an email. But the second that one day goes by where I haven’t written anything, it’s like I’m struck with writer’s amnesia. I forget that I am capable, that my work is good and that I’m not just wasting my time. So I’ll let another day slip by. And another. And another. Then pretty soon it feels helpless and like I’m “behind” on some meaningless deadline I’ve set for myself, when in reality none of that matters.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. I think that mentally, I often set myself up for failure. I’ll say “I’m going to finish my book this summer.” Or, “I’m going to write at least two pages a day.” Then, the second that doesn’t happen, I feel like I’ve lost. What I should be saying is, “I’m going to write as much as I can.” If I miss a day, or two, or three, I need to not get hung up on it. I need to realize that shit happens. Life happens. But having a day without my thoughts expunged into words is not an excuse to stop. It’s a reason to continue. Because Neil Gaiman has it right. I never feel more like a writer than when I’m writing, and I’m never happier than when I feel like a writer.