Monday, September 16, 2013

My Recharging Buddy


Like many of my fellow YAOTLers, I rarely take breaks. And sadly, when I do take breaks, I feel sorta guilty. I don't know why this is. Well, maybe I do.

I have NO TIME to take a break. This month, which happens to be the month that my first book Thin Space is released, has been crazy. My to-do list is ridiculously long and never completely checked off.

I'm trying to make peace with that, telling myself stuff like: I can only do so much in one day.... I should let some things go.... Most of these deadlines are all self-imposed anyway, yadda yadda ya. This pep talk helps a bit, but I still have a vague sense of unease all the time--that I could probably do more if I pushed a little harder.

But here's the thing: I don't want to be a person whose life revolves around checking items off a list.

My first book is out! This is a dream come true, 20+ years in the making, and I want to enjoy it, or at the very least BE in the present moment and not be ticking away in the back of my head all the things I've still got left to do.

So, the other day I was walking my dog (I walk my dog, a sweet, hyper, brilliant doggie named Zooey, at least three times a day) and I was ruminating over this post--ie. How was I going to write about taking breaks when I haven't taken a break in months? --when it hit me that walking my dog three times a day IS my way of taking breaks.

Confession: I did NOT want to get a dog.

It was my daughter's idea, and last year around this time she was slowly wearing my husband and me down with her campaign to go to the pound and adopt a puppy. The trouble was I didn't like dogs. Actually, I was scared of them. When I was a kid, a dog bit me on the mouth and I still have the scar. I relayed this gruesome story to my daughter and pointed out, too, that dogs take a lot of work. And who are we kidding here? I am the one who is going to have to take care of it. Also, dogs smell.

We went to the pound to pick out a dog.

I was the one who found Zooey. Or rather, she is the one who found me. (Cue: dramatic, romantic music) I cannot explain it. Our eyes locked upon each other's, and Zooey cocked her head to the side and wrinkled up her forehead. And that was that.


It turns out that she is the perfect writer's dog.

Every day we begin with a walk. Rain or shine or snow. Then it's back home and time for work. My work involves parking myself on the couch in the living room (which has become my office since we got Zooey) and firing up my laptop. Zooey's work consists of curling up on the back of the couch and snoozing adorably. Every so often she scares the crap out of me warns me when a jogger, biker, another dog walker, or the secret psychotic serial killer (aka the mailman) is passing by. Zooey is never off duty when it comes to home security.

After several hours of our respective work, Zooey leaps up from her perch like someone has set her on fire and licks my ear. Which means it is time for walk number two.

Before I got a dog I did not take frequent mini breaks. I rarely got dressed. Some days I did not leave my house. My exercise was yoga (which I miss doing) but I have discovered that there is a zen-like, meditative quality to dog walking too.

I write blog posts in my head and work through plot holes.

I'm in tune with the seasons and little goings on in the neighborhood. For Sale signs going up. Houses being remodeled and landscaped. A bunch of a balloons tied to a mailbox welcoming a baby.

I meet new people (and their dogs). Zooey tries to attack greet each one, and I struggle with issues of pet parenting. Should I buy her a different harness? Should we take obedience classes? What is going on in that doggie brain of hers? Zooey, we see that girl walking to school carrying her violin EVERY DAMN DAY! She is not our enemy!!!

I ruminate over big philosophical questions: Why do some dog owners not pick up their dog's %*^*$ poop? And: Why must Zooey seek out all of these %*^(*% left-behind treasures?

For those twenty minutes, I exist in the here and now, no book deals or writing angst or ridiculously long to-do lists, just my hand clenched around Zooey's leash, eyes scanning the street (in case Zooey should notice a squirrel and jerk my arm out of the socket in her quest to kill it make friends).

And then Zooey and I return home to our spots on the couch, both of us recharged and geared up to continue our work for the day.  


14 comments:

  1. We adopted a semi-shelter cat (she was living at the vet's office). Gurtie sleeps on my feet while I'm writing which has a zen like quality.

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  2. I love the last picture! I think our pets are more evolved than us, especially when it comes to napping.

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    1. Thanks, Lauren. The cool thing (or weird thing, depending on your perspective) is how many pictures I have of Zooey. I had a hard time choosing which ones I wanted to share. :)

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  3. Zooey looks so sweet. My daughter is in full campaign mode for a dog too!

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  4. What a sweet companion you have in Zooey! I love her wrinkled forehead. And what a wonderful way to recharge. :)

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    1. Thanks, Amy. Yes. It is all about the wrinkled forehead. Also, the floppy ears...

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  5. So I am totally a cat person, and you just made me want to get a dog. What a lovely piece!

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    1. Thanks, Nancy. Yeah. I've got a cat too. Poor 12 year old Zelda, who's still holding a grudge about Zooey.

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  6. Jody, I love this so much. My writing partner Jake (my alpha male who thinks he has to protect me from falling leaves) says hello to Zooey. They sound so similar. I'm sure if they met they would bark their heads off until they foamed at the mouth--I mean, be instant friends, of course!

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    1. We will have to get Jake and Zooey together some time! I will make sure Zooey is wearing her "Thunder Shirt." (It helps will her anxiety. Sorta.)

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  7. This post made me laugh! We (I) adopted Lyla the crazy basset/boxer two years ago. I also was not a dog person. Like at all. We also walk 2 times a day -- the 3rd begin satisfied by a run in the backyard. (Lyla, not me). So funny to read the same experiences -- the 'ball of lint floating by the window' bark; the "hmmm, I seem to write in the dining room now not my office because Lyla has a better window view" and on. She is sacked on the couch right now after - ha!-- slinking away from the girl with the violin at the bus stop. Yup. Too funny.

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  8. She is a cutie! It is so cool how our animal babies play such a big role. Great post!

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