Ragnar

Puppies Make Everything Better

photo (2)This is Gracie, our latest foster. She’s about 3 months old, fearless, wriggly, happy, and absolutely determined to pounce Ragnar at every opportunity. She hides under the coffee table and waits for him to walk by so she can nip at his feet. At which point he, of course, flops down on his stomach and lets her chew on his ears and try to fit her mouth around his skull. She fails at that one, but they both seem delighted by it.

I… am feeling overwhelmed. Not by the puppy. A few weeks ago my primary care doc noticed something funny when I swallowed a sip of water. So she sent me to get an ultrasound of my neck. Which took a rather long time. The impression I got was that it was longer than it should have been, but I don’t know how long these things normally go. I knew better than to ask the technician what she saw; she wouldn’t be allowed to say, anyway. And the results came back. And I saw them before my doctor’s office called. Because I’m the kind of patient who *always* logs in to PAMF’s MyHealth Online service. And I saw that there were a lot of nodules. Which worried me.

But it wasn’t until the nurse called to tell me I needed to set up an appointment with endocrinology to get the nodules biopsied that I really started worrying. I think it was her tone of voice. She sounded very uncomfortable. Very solemn.

It could just be that she’s used to patients freaking out at all sorts of things. I don’t know. I’m not prone to freak outs when discussing medical things. I think my father would have disowned me if that were the case. Well, not really. But I’m his kid. I’m not afraid of needles, I want to see everything (like my tonsils once they were removed–they were each the size of a golf ball–or my intestine pictures after they did the celiac biopsy), and I don’t freak out at test results. Also…. I have a spreadsheet where I’ve kept all of my test results going back to 1984. Which, let me tell you, sure helps with getting a diagnosis. I’m the gal who, when the ER doc asked me, “I don’t suppose you happen to know what size your ovaries normally are?” said, “Oh, yeah. This is how big they were when I was 19, and this is how big they were when I was 25, and this is how big they were two months ago.” And I showed her my spreadsheet.

So I have a bunch of nodules in my thyroid. Both sides. Both have a large main nodule. One side also has a lot of smaller ones spread throughout. People can get nodules in all sorts of places. Most thyroid nodules are benign. Even most cancerous ones aren’t a huge concern when it comes to the thyroid. When I talked to my dad his mode of reassuring┬áme was to say, “If you have to get cancer, thyroid is the one you want.”

And maybe, at a different time in my life, it wouldn’t stress me so much. But in a year when Jay died of cancer, when my mother is still recovering from the chemo she got for her breast cancer… And I feel guilty for not doing enough for either of them… Some lizard brained part of me feels like that would be appropriate punishment.

I get that I shouldn’t be thinking that way. I get that it’s superstitious and counter-productive and my guilt has little basis in reality. But. Yeah.

I am stressed. A little scared. A lot overwhelmed. I go into shutdown mode when that happens. Kinda numb. Flat affect. I see the endocrinologist next Tuesday. It’s an hour long appointment and they’ll probably do the biopsy right then.

And I keep thinking about that Edna St. Vincent Millay line. “It’s not one damn thing after another, it’s one damn thing over and over.” And I’m very glad I have a puppy around.

There is too much. Let me sum up.

I’ve been working at this place since October.

I moved to this place. In large part because of this:Ragnar and The New Backyard.

I’ve become obsessed with setting up my place. Which means that Apartment Therapy has become my porn.

We’ve been doing a narrative sprint at work for the last week… two weeks? Time blurs. Which has landed me with both a tremendous sense of a relief and a sore throat.

I’m trying to adapt to my new place and get past the sense of isolation I have; which is only natural, moving from an intentional community where people dropped by in the evenings every day. Fortunately, I do know some folks in the area. Unfortunately, planning ahead has not been my strong suit lately. And I’m in nesting mode, which means I want to stay home rather than going out.

A bunch of folks (from completely different parts of my life) have all suddenly started calling me Di. And I’m okay with it. I may even like it, but don’t quote me on that. (As my brother-by-another-mother, Eric Hindes, can attest, I was very strongly opposed to nicknames as a kid).

Jay is dealing with cancer. Again. Which is not my story, but is something I think about every day. (Fair warning, the video on the other end of that link is emotionally devastating. But well worth watching.)

Here. On a cheerful-ish note, this is a picture from a coffee table set I’ve been refinishing (I got it from your mom nearly a decade ago, Eric!)

Unfinished and Refinished
Unfinished and Refinished

The table on the left hasn’t been touched, while the table on the right I refinished (oil finish, no stain). Before, they looked pretty much identical. I believe they’re teak, though they might be walnut.

Homeward Bound

How, in a house of my brethren can there be so few pens? And then maybe, I think, they aren’t my brethren in that way. In the pen and the paper and the ink and the ideas swirling away into bits of paper.

Maybe they’re my brethren simply by blood. Which isn’t simple, is it? Never is. Brethren by blood or by choice. Considering epigenetics, in this case the two are inseparable. But that’s considering epigenetics, and I am far too looped out on Ambien to do so coherently at the moment.

Consider Phlebus.

Or don’t. I rarely do.

Consider Ragnar taking up a quarter of his bed, watching me whenever I move in case I leave while he wasn’t looking. He won’t even eat his breakfast anymore, he’s too busy watching to make sure I don’t duck out while he’s eating.

I owe him something. An environment where he can relax. Where I am less stressed. Where it’s okay to not always be on the run, always getting things done by the skin of my teeth. Always on the verge of collapse because, in addition to my personal goals, I want to give those around me whatever it is they want from me. That last one…. that needs a full on revamping.

With J, I could not be the out doorsy, studiously productive cynical girl he needed. I tried. I managed cynical. Instead of studious I did obsessive; he didn’t like me when I was obsessive.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love him a great deal, and probably will for a long time. And I still miss him something fierce. But I’m much happier on a day to day basis, able to recall the fun we had, how madly & quickly we fell for each other, how so many things about us just *fit*.

But if you’re trying to be what the other person wants… and you don’t even know who you are… sigh… The person he wanted, she’s a good person. Someone I’d have fun with, someone I’d admire. But not me. I’m not interested in scuba diving, or getting drunk, or week long camping trips.

I owe Ragnar, and I owe myself, a home. A safe space in which only our interactions matter. And the cats. A home, together, the three of us. I owe us all a home without constant judgment and criticism. Without a constant looming disapproval. Without the sense that the other shoe hasn’t dropped yet. A home that is ours. It will be my home by all outward measures. But ours. No one else gets to complain when Kayla projectile vomits off the top of the bookcase. No one else gets to point out how many knots are in Marx’s fur, but then refuse to help shave them out. No one else gets to look down on Ragnar — on *my* dog — and complain about his behavior.

Because, for fuck’s sake, he’s a dog. He gets paw prints on things. He sometimes smells funny. He eats things you don’t even want to think about. He wants to sniff your butt, and your butt, and everybody’s butts. But. His home. Where he will not be punished for being a dog. He will be trained and disciplined, and the fact that he waits for permission before getting on the bed will be acknowledged. And that he rings bells when he wants to go outside will be admired for the awesomeness it is.

He will be appreciated in his own home.

I would like to be appreciated in my own home.

I would like my own home, and I haven’t had any space I could truly call mine since college. For a while, I thought I had that at Tortuga. But, no. Shoes dropped. Judgments got made. Suddenly, it wasn’t a safe space to come home to. It was a place to walk on eggshells and then attempt to read tea leaves to figure out whatever the fuck was going on.

And so. I want a home of my own. And it’s looking like I’ll have one, soon.

Pending signing the lease and handing over the deposit, my family and I will be moving into a three bedroom house in the east bay. One with a ginormous backyard where Ragnar can bound and leap. And there will be cat shelves. Oh, yes. I will put up cat shelves in every room so the cats can circumnavigate the house without ever once having to be on the ground with Ragnar unless they want to.

I will have a home.

 

Oh. And my home will be entirely gluten free. No gluten shall enter. Ever. So I will never have to fear contamination and illness in my own home.

All of which is a rambly and emotional way of saying I may have a place for the menagerie and me within the next week or so.

 

And the angels sang…

PUPPY!

Ahem.

We adopted a dog.

Back at the end of March I predicted that it would take me six months of steady campaigning to convince Jason we should adopt a dog. In truth, it only took five months. We adopted Arthur/Ragnar at the end of August. He’s part mastiff, possibly part boxer or lab, and at the moment he’s snoring, crashed out on the floor by my feet.

He’s a smart pup, though a bit skittish. We’re working on that and seeing major improvements.

You know what the trick was? To convincing Jason? Finding a big enough dog. Which makes sense when you consider that the only dog he has ever liked is a friend’s Great Dane.

Meet Ragnar, named in honor of a Norse pirate-king:

Ragnar hiding behind the driver’s seat of my car.
Sprawled on the kitchen floor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In case you were wondering, he’s at most 10 months old and weighs 75lbs. We’re hoping he’ll at least top 100lbs by the time he’s full grown.