Almost three weeks ago, we got a new puppy. There was no comparison to the first encounter we had had with Franklin, our firstborn. This puppy — Marshall — was calm, soothing, loving, and obedient. He slept on the plane ride home, no problem. He didn’t have any accidents, or wail and scratch my legs for two and a half hours. Nothing of an alarming and disillusioning sort. But, nonetheless, I was still extremely nervous for him to meet Franklin.
Franklin has been the center of most attention since he came on the scene in the summer of 2017. People come to the coffee shop just to pet him. Other individuals have gotten dogs from the same breeder because they think Franklin is the most ideal dog they’ve ever seen. But with Franklin’s special nature also comes the private challenges of having such an evolved, unique, and stubborn pup.
Part of our thinking in getting a puppy now was to prepare Franklin for the inevitable: a human child. The rupture of his world with a human, we thought, would be far more difficult without preparation. Without getting him a friend first.
For the first couple days, Franklin ignored Marshall. Walked right through him as if he were invisible, a mirage. My heart was tearing, not only from the legitimate lack of sleep Marshall had created overnight (poof went his dream-like status with his quickly revealed boundless energy and lack of bladder control), but from this being that I loved not welcoming a new being into our home. A new being that was loving, sweet, feisty, and full of life.
Things have slowly gotten better. He has warmed up to him, allowing brief play interactions before coming straight to me with a toy to play with instead of his little brother. I half-heartedly tug. I want a break. I can’t believe I want a child, or even multiple children. What are we thinking? I can barely function. I have no routine. I can’t believe I spoiled my independence for a dog that my dog doesn’t even want to acknowledge exists.
This past week has been no exception to the challenges we have been constantly facing since Marshall’s arrival. But, it has carried a more relevant thematic tone to the outside world. A world I disconnected from after Christmas (Namely, the Internet. And, more specifically, Instagram). After years of knowing that it was a place inflicting more harm than good, most especially upon my own psyche and heart, I had finally accepted my threshold and acted upon it.
Now, I check in with news headlines daily without dipping in for too long or too deep when my friend called me the other day to talk about a chance encounter she had had while running errands. She had collided with a woman who supposedly “rubs elbows with government officials,” asserting to my friend to be prepared for statements concerning the pedophile ring to be made soon. I quickly refuted such a claim: “Unfortunately, even if this were to happen, we wouldn’t know about it due to the Cancel Culture of our times.” She and I continued chatting for a bit before I had to curtly say goodbye, overloaded by my migraine, dog diarrhea, dog vomit, and the general chaos I no longer wanted to deal with but must anyway.
The next morning carried a newfound lightness. The pups and I went to the beach. Sleep had actually occurred and I felt like we could, at least, enjoy this moment. A woman walked by chuckling at Franklin digging a hole and asked if she could take a picture. She and I traded niceties, learning that she was visiting from the Midwest for a few months, gathering evidence and social cues before verging into the political territory that is cast with landmines if it is not the same as your own. She said that she felt like California was the same as her home. People wearing masks in their cars and outside. People not thinking for themselves. After having had the illness herself, she realized to an even further degree how there had to be something more to a virus that felt like a bad cold but was scaring people to the point of not going outside.
Lately, having removed myself from social media combined with staying at home with a puppy, I haven’t had the opportunity, nor energy, to entertain a conversation about the state of where we are at. It hasn’t felt like my “war” for a while now. I have felt entrapped in my own home for the last three weeks, my own body for far longer, and, therefore, why should feeling trapped in my home state make me think I can control it if I can’t even control my own life?
Entrapment is a part of the human condition. Our wills, our desires, our thoughts, they are all asking us to do certain things at certain times. But, realistically, most of us have duties to tend to, responsibilities and obligations that are non-negotiable and must be fulfilled. Along the way last year, I had to come to terms with people not caring about what I had to say. I wasn’t okay with it. I wasn’t okay with putting myself out there and not receiving any feedback. I would take a break after each failure, mustering up the courage to do it again, when my suspicions, doubts, and fears became my reality once again and the pain stung even more.
So, I had to remove myself from the situation itself because it hurt too badly not to.
That was a large theme of my life last year.
Removing myself from all the situations that hurt me more than they served me regardless of how long they had existed prior.
In a way, I have shut down to the outside world, but, what that really means is that I am getting clear about what is important to me and how to foster that in healthy ways.
So, getting the puppy was never, in my mind, going to shake my world to the degree it has, causing me to rethink this other corner of my cave where the light has just been cast. That what I think I want — kids — is going to be a challenge altogether different than anything I’ve ever gone through. That juggling all these personalities, needs, wants, attitudes, and behaviors is going to run me dry. It is going to occupy the space I long held for myself to heal, to become, to figure it out, and that even if I wanted to try and re-insert myself back into the writing realm, how could I without the time to roam, frolick, and think that now only exists in the recent past?
Last night, after an afternoon of waiting — waiting for my husband to return, waiting to feel less anxious, less empty, less unmotivated — I came across an article regarding Marjorie Greene and the decision to revoke her responsibilities as a state representative because of her differing viewpoints from the majority.
In the past, to make a political point clear, I have researched a historically relevant topic — in this case, it would have been the differing political ideologies of the Founding Fathers — but I truly don’t think it makes a difference whether I include that here or not.
The fact of the matter is that we have chosen sides as a society. We either agree with a party, an affiliation, an idea, a story, or not. We don’t need to explain ourselves. We don’t need to be objective. And, it’s what is pulling this nation apart more than any one person, piece of legislation, or event.
This narrative that only one side is correct and therefore the other side is not.
It had been proven to me earlier that day, by chance, that someone else I may never see again, from a completely different background, age, and form of life, aligns with my thinking, and, therefore, there must be others too.
But the question remains: where are they?
Today, Franklin had diarrhea again after a day off. It has felt like the baton of Marshall’s instabilities has been passed to Franklin who is acting cryptically moody, tired, and upset. I internalize all of his emotions. Franklin has not been “my pet,” or “my companion;” rather, he has been my shaman, teacher, healer, counterpart, and soul reflection. He has shown me invaluable information and, therefore, I owe his sensitive and mercurial nature the attention it deserves, even if it contributes to my personal decline, right?
So, we are hurrying to finish our walk, the majority of which I had spent Googling if he has liver disease or not, when I must squeeze on the six-inch-wide curb space, alongside a stroller, to let senior-citizen cyclists pass. The man pushing the stroller — a man rough along the edges but cool, weathered but still hard — laughed as they rolled by. I echoed his sentiment, saying how ridiculous this whole cityscape project has been.
“It’s going to do more harm than good,” he said, explaining how he has already seen people get into dicey situations because of the lack of space. I proceeded to blame it on our mayor, which spiraled into an anecdote about how he used to live in San Francisco and had witnessed a near fatal assault on a woman by a man near Chinatown. He called the police, stayed at the scene until they arrived, and heard nothing about it until a month later when the District Attorney called him. The DA who is the same person as our current Vice President. They exchanged voicemails until finally connecting, and she requested a recording of his testimony before appearing in court. He recorded it via phone. He was subpoenaed. He went through the bureaucracy of ensuring that there was someone to cover his shift so he could spend a whole day in court, where he stood for almost ten hours without being summoned or addressed. Finally, a public defender asked him why he was there. He showed him the subpoena.
“Oh, didn’t anyone tell you? They dismissed this case last night.”
He smiled at me.
“That’s when I realized, ‘Ohhh, so this is how things work.’”
I had to go, apologizing to him for my quick departure while simultaneously recalling this video I had seen, in which Rep. Tulsi Gabbard from Hawai’i accuses (based on evidence) Harris of withholding evidence in a court of law until forced to relinquish it, amongst other questionable acts of character.
Until last year’s first shutdown, what I had primarily written about were the inner workings of life. The magical tints and subtle layers that ripple through the day, making us feel a certain way, drawing us to situations, and challenging us to become who we are supposed to be. I began sharing political beliefs, political actions, and my perspectives which were quickly dismissed by others regardless of the longevity of our relationships to one another. It has taken time for me to understand what it has all meant. If I have a voice or not. If I am supposed to use it or not. If I am destined to “just be a mom” or not (No disrespect WHATSOEVER to stay-at-home/career moms. These women are the people creating model citizens because of their love, dedication, and selflessness. They are someone who I don’t know if I can be or not. The choice to write it this way is because of the stigma it still carries today). So, I came to the computer to exercise a tired muscle, to alleviate some anxiety, try to make sense of my own portion of life, and share the stories of those who are not sharing their voice in the same way as me. Who are oral messengers and storytellers: normal people not amplified or legitimized by a certain group, a certain title, role, place, label, or idea. I guess I am starting to realize that that is who I am, too. A regular person. A passionate citizen. No one special. No one elevated. Someone who is like others, interested in others, and has recently chosen to speak not only about herself, but on the behalf of others too.