Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Goodbye, my friend

Guess what I'm doing ........ You're right! Drinking a glass of wine. Cheers.

Guess what I'm not doing ...... Eating chocolate. Or any sugar. Like I said a couple of days ago, the booze fast was just the warm-up for the big test of willpower: giving up sugar for a month.

That means no more best friend chocolate, no more brown sugar in my oatmeal, no more honey in my tea ... this is starting to sound like a 70's pop song .... and no more cookies. No sugar at all, unless it comes in the form of whole fruit.

I joke about my love of wine, but that's really just a cover for my real addiction. My love affair with chocolate is an epic consumption poem that must at last come to an end.

In preparation, over the past 4 days, I went on a chocolate binge that would put Willy Wonka out of business. I would be embarrassed to list here how much chocolate I ate, but let's just say it involved a bag of Dove coconut-filled eggs, 2 caramel Cadbury's, a Mounds bar, a Heath bar, a bag of licorice twists, an orange and a sea salt dark chocolate Lindt bar, an organic dark chocolate coconut bar, and a tiny container of Cherry Garcia. For once, I let myself eat as much as I wanted. I didn't have much left to throw away this morning. Roll me into the river, Willy.

Notice I didn't start my chocolate fast on the first day of March. I intended to, but when I told my daughter Elvira she expressed deep concern for both my mental health and my inflated sense of hedonism. She said, "Mommers, why would you do that to yourself? You're not even allowing one day in between so you can drink that first glass of wine since January with a bar of dark chocolate? Are you suicidal?"

Of course, I had to admit she made a reasonable argument, so, much like a convict on death row, I enjoyed my cold glass of Chardonnay with some high-percentage dark chocolate last night before midnight.  And then I said good-bye to the one thing that keeps me sane most days.

My son Drake, who was bitter because his sister had said something wise, admonished me and said, "Mom, you know there's sugar in wine." I stared him down and said, "Drake, I'm giving up sugar and chocolate, but I'm not going crazy and giving up all carbs. Whatever sugar is in wine has turned into wine. I will not give wine up along with chocolate, and I suspect none of you want me to do that either."

I did hop up on the low-carb bandwagon about 10 years ago. I had been a vegetarian for 9 years, but I started eating meat, cut most of the carbs out of my diet, and worked out several times a week at the gym. I lost a shit ton of weight and I felt fantastic. Strong. Sexy. Full of energy. Daring. I confess I flirted heavily with my little eating disorder for a few months, but I didn't fully succumb. It was the one time in my life I told my poor body image to go fuck itself. It was lovely.

Then the news about how healthy dark chocolate is came out, and I decided I could surely handle one Dove dark chocolate a day. I would take it like medicine. One piece a day and no more. Turns out that was like a chronic alcoholic deciding he could handle one shot of vodka a day. Not sustainable. My addiction is such that it wouldn't be satisfied with an entire bag of Dove darks a day. No hyperbole.

I've made it through one day, which I know is the easy part. Tomorrow the cravings will hit, and the irritability.

I know I'm doing the right thing though. You see, I received a sign. A big, fucking, neon-blinking sign from the universe. Last week I ran out of chocolate. I'd even eaten all of the frozen chocolate chips. And I wasn't feeling well, and the sky was dumping a bunch of snow on us or the temperatures were below zero or some shit. I didn't want to go out, and even if I did, I refuse to placate my addiction by walking half a block and across the street to Big Daddy's to buy chocolate. I have boundaries.

And then I remembered I wasn't really out of chocolate. I had some baking chocolate that was probably several years old, but there was a box of semi-sweet there. Big, thick chunks of chocolate that's supposed to be melted and remade into something else. I let one sit out for about 5 minutes to thaw, and then I took it into the living room to enjoy while I watched my secondary addiction, Netflix. About the third bite into it, I felt something crunch. And I realized I'd broken the front half off an expensive crown on one of my front teeth -- a crown that is connected to 4 other crowns and can't be replaced without replacing all of them. I don't know yet what that moldy old piece of chocolate is going to cost me, but this time, it's not worth it. 

And it's not just my tooth. I've done enough research on sugar to believe it really is an addiction for me, and it's a poison. I don't want to be held hostage to it any more. I don't want to hate myself for my weakness, and I don't want to suffer physical repercussions either.

So, I'm off sugar for a month, and then probably a month after that. I think I can do it a month at a time. I am going to give myself a free day toward the end of the month when Elvira and my daughter-in-law Montana are celebrating birthdays. And if I do decide to continue next month, I'm going to take the first day of the month off for a gorge because .... wine and chocolate. Maybe I'll throw a party.

Otherwise, no simple sugars for this girl. Zero. I can't be trusted with sugar, and especially chocolate.

What's your addiction? How do you deal with it? Or do you?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

How dry I am .....

How dry I am, how dry I am 
It's plain to see just why I am
No alcohol in my highball
And that is why so dry I am
(Irving Berlin, 1919)

February 28. Finally! Is it too late to write my annual New Year's post? Nah, it's never too late for a New Year's post, complete with my resolutions and my 2015 word of the year. But this one isn't that one.

February is a bitch, isn't it? Endless sub-freezing, snowy, gray days, and the only holiday is fucking Valentine's Day. And in my family, people tend to die in February, so we're always on edge, depressed, dreading the phone call we're sure will come or the piano that will fall on our own heads. I'd have to be a fucking idiot to do a booze fast in February, wouldn't I?

OK, so I'm a fucking idiot. I did it. I didn't drink a drop of alcohol the entire month of February. I didn't even stick my nose into a glass of wine and take a whiff. I was the prohibition poster child.

Why would I give up the soothing, warming effects of alcohol during the longest, coldest month of the year? Good question. It's not because I believe in the efficacy of detoxing or fasting. I don't. I have organs that take care of that shit so I don't have to. (No pun intended .... well, maybe.)

And I'm not an alcoholic. In fact, I didn't drink a drop for over 20 years of my adult life. I was a hard drinker in high school, and for a few years after when I was tending bar. But I didn't quit because I had a drinking problem. I quit I was afraid my ex was developing one, and I wasn't going to be married to an alcoholic. I grew up with that, and so did he. I figured if I didn't drink, he wouldn't drink as much. I know now that was faulty logic, but it seemed to work. I didn't start drinking again until one night at a party I realized my marriage, which had been bouncing around on the rocks (no pun intended) was now zipping out to sea on a riptide,  too far out for me to save it.

So I began to enjoy drinking again, and I have no regrets for either my dry years or my lovely wine-enhanced years since my divorce.

The reason I decided to take a month off from the hooch is because I read an article in The New Scientist about the results of a small study of the benefits of giving up alcohol for a month. The people in the study who gave up drinking for 5 weeks saw significant positive changes in liver fat, blood glucose, and cholesterol. The abstainers also claimed they slept better. The only negative -- and this is a big one in the lonely month of February -- was that the they also reported less social contact.

It seemed worth a try, so I chose the shortest month of the year (duh), and I did it. Here's my report.

0. I didn't spend any money on alcohol. And that's it. Otherwise, I noticed zero benefits from taking a month off from alcohol. Of course, nobody measured my liver fat, cholesterol, or blood glucose, so it's possible there were benefits in those areas. I can't vouch for any of that though. As far as I'm concerned, it was simply a test of willpower, which I passed.

1. I had hoped I would at least lose weight. I didn't, and before you ask, no, I didn't eat or drink more. In fact, I think I ate less, because I tend to snack on salty foods when I drink. Of all the negatives I'm going to list below, this is the one that disappointed me the most. If I'm going to be fat anyway, I might as well comfort myself with a cold glass of Chardonnay of an evening.

2. I had hoped I would gain a few IQ points, feel sharper, remember where I parked my car at the mall, perhaps. Nope. Nothing. Still as fuzzy as ever.

3. I don't have trouble sleeping normally, so I didn't really expect to sleep better. However, I found myself waking up before my alarm, which was .... well, it was alarming. I'm not a morning person. I don't need less wine and more morning. What a fresh hell that was.

4. I had no way to relax my knotted up shoulder muscles at the end of the day. Very often a sip of wine is like medicine. I feel the tensions of the day drain out of my muscles so hard it hurts, and it feels really fucking good. Thus my ability to sleep well at night. For the past 28 days, my shoulder muscles have been as tight as harp strings. Neither yoga nor deep breathing have replaced the liquid relaxer, and as a result, I haven't slept as well. Thanks, abstinence.

5. I got sick halfway through the month. For the first time since last winter, I got sick. And I've been sick for almost 2 weeks now. You might remind me that I teach in a high school where I'm subjected to quite a germy population, and you would be right. But why didn't I get sick before? They've been sneezing and coughing and blowing their noses for months now, but I remained impervious. Until this month when, for 2 weeks out of the 4, I've had a sore throat, mild cough, body aches, congestion, and to top it all off, fucking pink eye. Which means ....

6. I'm really fucking ugly I've been considerably less attractive, because I not only can't wear any mascara, a redhead's best friend, but I also have one hideous glossy pink eye. My social life has suffered. DON'T FUCKING LOOK AT ME!

7. I have a huge stack of papers to grade, and here's why. I don't drink while I'm grading. I know lots of writing teachers only get through their grading load by consuming shots of bourbon with their bottles of pale ale and bitter IP's. I'm afraid I will write honest comments that I would regret the next day if I were to drink while I grade. So instead, I pour a glass of cold Chardonnay and let it sweat and glisten on the table in front of me until I've graded every last short story and poem and entered those grades into my Excel spreadsheet of doom. Only then do I allow myself to take even the first sip of chilly, relaxing goodness. Let's just say after 28 days, I could use some fucking incentive.

(Note: If you don't know what to get your kid's teacher for Christmas, get her a fucking bottle of wine. What would you want if you had to spend all day with your kids every day?)

8. Finally, my social life. All those years I didn't drink that was just my normal. But now it seems weird not to drink at parties or at karaoke or at a bar. My friend Chicken Grrrl came over so we could rehearse a song we'd been asked to sing. As usual, we spent far less time singing than we did talking, which was lovely. But the difference this time was that she could enjoy a relaxing glass of wine while I sipped on some water. It wasn't nearly as much fun as the night we drank a quart of margaritas and .... well, that's a story for another time, isn't it?

One of the hardest things about not drinking was the many triggers, and not just at parties and in bars and on Facebook. People drink on every single TV show and in every single movie. I spent a lot of time on the couch this month feeling like shit and watching Netflix, and in every show I watched most of the adults were drinking ... a lot. And as I watched a mom drinking a glass of wine while she cooked dinner or a couple toasting each other on a date, I found myself thinking, That looks good. I'd like a glass of wine. Except that I couldn't, of course, so I'd get a glass of fizzy water or a cup of tea and make do.

It's not the same though. Fizzy water and tea aren't the same sophisticated muscle and social lubricants that wine or bourbon or even beer (for those who can tolerate it) are. Those are grownup drinks ... and grownups drink those drinks. And I'm a grownup. I don't have to curb my drinking for anybody any more. I can enjoy a glass of wine just like the people on Netflix.

All those years I didn't drink I didn't even notice the prevalence of liquor on TV and in movies. It wasn't a trigger. And by the end of this month, although I still noticed it, it wasn't as often and I didn't have the same response. In fact, watching someone pour a glass of wine didn't  produce a craving at all this last week. That might be because I've been sick, or it might be that for me a month is long enough to dull the response.

And so, the clock has rung midnight on March, and the thought crossed my mind that February 28 was over. I could go to the kitchen and pour a cold glass of Chardonnay. But the pull wasn't that strong, so I made a cup of tea instead.

Tomorrow I start a new and much more difficult detox. I will definitely need wine and willpower to get through it. More on that tomorrow though.

How about you? Did you give anything up for 2015 or for Lent? How's it going? Let's pour a glass of wine and discuss it in the comments below .....

Monday, February 23, 2015

12 Things I've Learned from Facebook this Week

Facebook, a fount of knowledge and cultural relevance, never lets me down. A short update from this past week's feed.

1. According to the color of my urine, I'm pretty healthy, despite my current sore throat, cough, muscle aches, congestion, and conjunctivitis. It's nice to know the color of my pee is keeping me alive.

2. I'm disgusting  because I leave my butter dish out on the counter all the fucking time. Apparently the classes are divided by those who leave their butter out and those who refrigerate.

3. The raw milk I drink is going to kill me and probably everybody close to me as well. Obviously I can't be trusted with dairy products.

4. If I eat enough organic coconut oil I won't get Alzheimer's. In fact, nobody has to get Alzheimer's. Good thing Julianne Moore won that Oscar before everybody found out about this miracle fat. I wonder if Mounds bars come in an organic version. That's where I'll get my coconut oil.

5. I missed 5 parties this weekend because I was sick. I was invited to 3 of them.

6. I'm the only person in America who's not watching The Walking Dead and Downton Abbey.

7. Some people spend their snow days making chocolate chip cookies, I assume because they haven't eaten all of the chips straight from the freezer already. Way to make the rest of us look like big, fat losers. Give me a cookie, please.

8. My nickname is Champ. I'm a grammar genius. I should live in Wisconsin.

9. Quizzes are stupid.

10. It's snowing.

11. Cats.

12. My friends drink a lot of beer, and according to the color of their urine, they pee beer too. I'm afraid it all tastes the same to me.

(Note: This is not a comprehensive list of what I learned on Facebook this week. I left some things off this list because it became a feminist rant so I wouldn't appear to be a snarky bitch.)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Five reasons why I need to get off Facebook

Tonight is the last night of November. I posted here every day of the month, a goal that's not as easy to achieve as you might think. November always leaves me sleep-deprived, much like someone taking care of a newborn or a 2-month-old puppy might feel. This month has been especially rough, because I've had a lot of papers to grade, and that always sends my muse Dolores running for the TV remote. I've also struggled with the topics that drew me to write: feminism, dating, addiction. I didn't find much humor in most of them. In fact, I thought many of my posts this month came out dark and cynical. It's a place I'm in these days.

One overwhelming influence on my mood is Facebook. I'm addicted, and by that I don't mean to underplay the terrible effects of drug and alcohol addictions, but I can't look away. My mom always said I was afraid I might miss something -- what writer isn't? -- and Facebook is an evil, time-wasting temptation that I can't resist. It's my connection to the world when I'm home alone, and for this extreme extrovert that's no small thing. Sometimes I think it keeps me sane; other times I know I'm wasting my life away staring at any one of my screens looking for the next high.

So here, purely to give myself a kick in the ass, are my 5 reasons why I should get off  Facebook.

Disclaimer: I'm not saying my 530 (as of this writing) Facebook friends shouldn't post whatever the fuck makes them happy. The point this list will make is that I need to make better use of my time.

1. Dog and cats. I fear I may soon find myself guilty of adding to the overwhelming clutter of cat and dog photos and videos that clog my feed. Look how adorable Poet is when he chews his ball, wraps up in a blanket on the couch (won't happen on my couch), rolls in the dirt, sleeps, sits in the sun, takes a shit .... We all think our own pets are cute as fuck, but really, who else does? Nobody. Every once in a while Facebook will automatically play a video of a cat who lets a toddler crawl all over him or a dog that saves a kitten from a raging flood or a golden retriever who nurses a tiger and I'll watch with tears in my eyes, but most of the time, I don't give a shit.

Disclaimer: I think my friends should post whatever pet photos and videos make them happy. I just don't need to spend my time looking at them. This shit is all about me, Queen Reticula.

2. Football. I don't give a fuck about football. Football is one of the reasons my decades-long marriage failed. I'm not going to go into details, but that's time my kids and I will never get back. Fuck football. The only time I cared about football was when I was dating a football player in high school. If I wanted to watch football, I would watch it on TV or go to a live game (definitely more appealing), but the constant stream of comments about every play and every fumble would not enhance my experience of either. And they certainly don't when I'm not watching and don't give a shit. If I did give a fuck, I'd be watching, not reading Facebook. I wouldn't need a minute-by-minute stream of commentary. (Same with soccer, baseball, and any other sport I don't give a fuck about.)

Disclaimer: Football fans probably love hooking up with each other on Facebook and sharing their excitement. This is not my problem. My problem is that I don't need to spend my time scrolling through a bunch of football posts. I've always been a person who would rather play than watch.

3. Food. I don't give a shit what people ate for dinner or lunch or breakfast. OK, maybe if it's a special meal at a restaurant I might like to try. But honestly, even then, if you want to share food with me invite me out to eat. Photos of the food you eat are meaningless to me. I cook and eat food every day. That doesn't make me special. I don't feel the need to share a photo of my scrambled eggs or my grilled chicken breast or even my blue-ribbon cowboy cookies every time I make them. Nobody gives a shit.

Also .... beer. I hate beer. I don't need to know how many beers my friends have untapped, especially if they're 3 blocks from my house, and I wasn't invited. I mean, yay, you're out having a good time with friends and I'm here watching Netflix. I'm so happy you unlocked that hoppy IPA that would taste like skunk piss to me. I might feel different if an app called Uncorked came across my feed.

Disclaimer: If it makes people happy to share their food and beer consumption, why should I care? I don't. But again, I don't need to spend my time looking and scrolling past. I'm rarely interested, and sometimes I really do wish I could be there instead of here watching the fun scroll by on my feed.

4. Celebrity deaths. Is it not obvious to most people if they see on their feed that a celebrity has died, and they've seen it 25 times, that most of the rest of us have already seen it too? Why post it again? Is it that compelling to have to share the tragic news? We know already. We saw it too. And for some of us, the constant barrage of information about, for example, suicide can trigger some ugly anxiety or even panic. I had to stop reading Facebook for several days after Robin Williams died, and I'm not the only one. I don't think sharing and speculating and digging up the dirt is respectful of the dead. It's a feeding frenzy. Lots of people die and commit suicide. Let's focus on the people near us who need help and support. They aren't celebrities, but their lives are just as important.

Disclaimer: Some people think they're spreading information about suicide, drug abuse, or various diseases that will help their Facebook friends. Maybe. Or maybe it's like blasting a sermon from your car speakers and hoping somebody will find Jesus. In any case, if my friends need to grieve over dead movie stars in public, that's up to them. My point is that I don't know those movie stars, and I need to spend my time with the people I do know and love.

5. Quizzes. Fuck those stupid quizzes. I get sucked into them too. The last one I took was what my job would be in a post-apocalyptic world. I posted the results to Facebook. Who gives a fuck? Nobody! Nobody cares about the color of my soul or what Princess Bride character I would be or which Hogwarts house I'd live in. Nobody gives a fuck, including me. But still I take those fucking quizzes, because it's such an easy waste of time. It's such an addictive way to do anything but the things that would create real value in my life. Like write a book. Like invite people over for a party. Like .... almost anything. Almost anything contributes more value to my life than taking one of those fucking quizzes.

Disclaimer: Take the fucking quizzes if it makes  you happy. I'm sure the people you're sitting with at a bar don't mind that your face is in your phone. Hell, they're probably taking the same quiz. Hell, I probably am too.

Do you see a thread here? The problem isn't my friends or what they post on Facebook. The problem is that I can't look away from Facebook. (Joe, you were right to save yourself, but who will save me?) As Mary Oliver would say, I have one precious life, and I spend too much of it on Facebook. I don't have time for half an hour of yoga, but I can spend an hour and a half on Facebook. I don't have time for a long phone call to a friend (remember those?), but I have an hour to spend on Facebook. I might even get out and find somebody to play music with, but I'm on Facebook instead. I don't have time to write a book, but my Facebook friends will back me up when I say I've written an entire fucking book this past year .... on Facebook. I take forever to answer an email, but I shoot off Facebook comments all day. I have a problem.

And yet ... I have reasons. Just like any other addict, I have reasons. I'm connected to people I never see in real life, and wouldn't but for Facebook. Today I saw a photo of my wonderful Aunt Shirley, who has suffered with dementia for years, sitting in her wheelchair with a puppy on her lap, smiling. I would not have seen that if not for Facebook. I saw a TED Talk given by a teenager that I will share with my students this week. I saw a plea from a dear friend asking people to support her in fighting heroin addiction, which killed her stepson a few weeks ago. I was invited to several parties. And in the wee hours of the morning, I posted a link to last night's blog post, and a bunch of people offered their support with my new puppy blues. A friend reached out to talk about the return of his cancer ... another friend asked me if I wanted to go dancing ... people helped me decide on a name for my puppy and gave me advice on training him ... I saw photos of my niece's family putting up their Christmas tree in Iowa ... I signed up to bake some cookies so my  neighborhood can give homemade gift baskets to organizations that have supported us. I saw this Sir Perky bottle opener.

I am conflicted. I get so much from Facebook. I truly do. I'm in contact with friends from high school I hadn't seen in decades. I can show photos to  my mom. I know when my friends need my support, both online and in real life. I can get support from lots of people when I have a problem.

And most of the people who read my little blog come here from either Facebook or a Google search for something + vaginas. I'll get 200 hits from the Ukraine alone just because I included the word "vagina" in this post. It's no small thing though, because although I don't get a lot of comments here (or any, most days), I do get comments on Facebook. And people follow my links from Facebook and then I'll be at a party and someone will say something about  my blog and vaginas and suddenly I'll have a new reader. Facebook feeds me almost as much as it sucks away my time and my life and all those things I could be doing, because we only have this one precious life, these precious minutes and hours.

Do people who shoot up heroin give the same excuses? How many books might I have sitting in a drawer somewhere, probably unpublished, if I didn't spend so much time on Facebook?

I wish somebody could throw me a life preserver, but I fear I'm on my own. Most of you suffer from the same addiction I do, and Joe can't save us all. (Joe is one of the few people I know who refuses to get on Facebook.)

I don't know what the answer is. Maybe we could all be more careful about what we post on Facebook, and yet, I know my friends are posting what's important to them. As am I. What the fuck is a person to do, once the poison has gone down the hatch?

Puppy update: I put this at the end because I know some of you don't give a shit about my puppy. Fair enough. I don't give a shit about your pets either. Read on or don't read on.

I've finally decided on a name, and it's one both of us like: Poet. That's my final answer. It's perfect for this puppy who loves to lie under my desk chair and sleep, even when I'm in the other room. As soon as I let him down in my office, he runs to my desk chair and curls up underneath it. Seems like Poet is as good a name for him as any other.

I've decided I might like him a little bit. We had a somewhat better day today .... or maybe I'm just adjusting to his asshole puppy ways. I think I cleaned up 5 or 6 pees as opposed to 7 or 8 yesterday. We went on a long walk, at least 3/4 mile, and he did great on the leash. He's sitting and shaking on command, most of the time. And he's not howling as much when he's in his pen. Still more than I'd like, but not as much.

I think this little guy and I will eventually form a bond. It will be a battle between his peeing and puppy nipping and my impatience, but tonight I have a little more faith that we'll make it. Something about his puppy exuberance gives me hope.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A post about what's-his-name

Of course he's adorable.

People keep asking me if I just love my new puppy. And the honest answer is no, I do not love my new puppy. In fact it's probably a good thing his breeder lives 3 hours away, because right now, as I'm writing this, I would give him back to her and never regret it. As I write this he's howling and whining in an old playpen, where he has a cozy bed and toys and all the accouterments of a lovely dog apartment. And yet ....

He is not happy. He would only be happy if he had the entire run of the house, so he could chew on my laptop cords and pee and poop on the floors and chew on the furniture and the carpets and anything else he can get his needly little teeth into. He's fine in my big kitchen as long as the gate isn't across the door. Once the gate goes up, he's a whining, howling, writhing mess, throwing himself at the gate in an agony of abandonment. Even if he can see me right next to him. Especially if he can see an entire roomful of people eating Thanksgiving dinner.

I'm fucking exhausted. I haven't gotten more than 2 hours of continuous sleep since Tuesday night when I got 5. Human infants are easier than this puppy, and I've raised both.

An example: Tonight Doc/Shade/Poe (I can't decide on a name. More on that later) had been sleeping under the coffee table for a couple of hours. I got him up to go out, and so he wouldn't sleep while I was awake and howl while I was trying to sleep. I carried him outside, because he will stop and pee on the floor on his way to go out. He peed. I praised. We came in and played for a while. Then about 12 minutes after he'd peed outside, he peed on the living room rug. We had words and he went out again. He came in again, we played, and 10 minutes after he'd gone out the second time, he peed on the living room rug again. He went back out. This, to me, is an excessive amount of peeing, and it's also typical, so far.

I hate to admit it, but when Drake came home a few minutes after the 8th in-house pee (in spite of at least 15 trips outside), I was in tears. It doesn't help that I haven't left my house since Tuesday night, except to take the puppy on a couple of walks. I don't do so well when I spend so much time alone ... or with a peeing, howling puppy. In fact, I'm feeling a bit stabbity. I know why I wanted a dog. I can't remember why I wanted a puppy. I want to skip ahead a year to the dog I will -- whether he likes it or not -- be living with then.

Hard to believe they'll be the same
size in a year or so.
As for his name, I was certain Doc was the name. Positive. Ask Coraline, who is just as fixed on LuLu. It turns out Doc isn't going to work. It's too close to Duke, my son Drake's dog, and he's confused whenever I call the puppy. So I've been experimenting with new names. My Facebook friends gave me lots of suggestions. Yesterday I decided his name would be Shade ... but he didn't really respond to that name. and the s and a were too drawn out. So I tried Cash (the man in black) and Poe (as in Edgar Allan) and Redmond (my boyfriend James Spader's character on Black List). He seems to like Poe best, so for now, Poe it is.

I know this is the most difficult time with a dog ... at least until the end. If I weren't so fucking tired, I'd take it all in stride, but this little guy is particularly persistent. Even in this big house, I can't put him far enough away that I can't hear the howling, with ear plugs. He's loud. Really fucking loud. And he's in a playpen right beside my bed where he can see and hear me. It's not like he's alone.

Look who's whining now.

A year from now, I'm sure if I write about Poe the story will be much different. It had better be. He's already doing better than I'd expect on the leash, and he fetched the ball and brought it back to me several times. He's even learning to shake already. He's not dumb. He's just loud and stubborn.

Guess what. I'm a redhead. Enough said.

No, I'm not enjoying my new puppy much right now, but this too will pass. Please, dear sweet baby Jesus, let this too pass before I lose my poor exhausted mind.