Daisy

The Buddy System

On October 6th, 2011 (I give the year because it's almost over), my dog Daisy died. If you have any concept of who I am, you likely know that because I haven't stopped talking about it. Based on the past couple of months, I don't think I ever will. I've written previously about how talking has helped me cope with her death. And I have to take that previous point of view for what it's worth, because now I'm a month and a half removed from saying it, and I can tell you now, on December 6th, 2011, that I can hardly stand to think about my girl, let alone talk about her.

I'm still very upset. And I'm very angry. Not in general, I should say. In general, I think I'm pretty okay, but when it comes to my dog, I'm very, very angry.

Being that I aspire to someday have a career based on my writing, I usually try to revel in ANY extreme emotion, and given how extreme I become when thinking about Daisy, I've tried to write from this mindset. I can't do it. It's too much. I'm so overwhelmed by how much I'm hurt. If that weren't enough, I'm actually annoyed at myself for letting my hurt turn into anger.

We adopted a new dog, partly because the house was too empty without my big goofy girl, partly because we needed someone new to focus on, and partly because of our OTHER dog, Harley.

Lately, out of the blue, I've begun to slip. I'm calling people by the wrong name. More specifically I've been calling our new dog Daisy. Her name is Penny. I slip and call her Daisy. Somethings wrong. I've lost a girl who should have been a long term family member. She was my pet, my friend, and my family. And my brain is trying to reintroduce her, because I can't quite stand life without that stupid fucking dog pouncing on me.

Worse than my interpretation of her death, which is inherently more informed because of my human brain (and because I was there), is what seems to be happening to poor Harley.

Harley is approximately 12 years old. And I have to approximate that age, because, just like all of our pets, he was a rescue. I don't intend to get on a high horse here, but I kind of do, because I'm proud of my family for always adopting a pet who NEEDS our help. There will always be people who buy from breeders, and there will always be people who just shop at puppy stores, but not as many people will welcome an older, potentially abused dog into their house. But those are the dogs who need a home. Daisy was one of them. Harley is one. We don't know what happened to him, but when we got him, he was approximately 3 years old, and was very nervous around men. I have to assume that he was hit by a man.

To take a quick tangent: If you are a human, and you are reading this, and you have EVER abused an animal, you are actually an inhuman fucking monster. One time I was at a party with my friend Bobby, where we saw a guy put his foot down on his cat's neck in some bizarre joking/frustrated manner, and we were inches from fucking killing him. Don't abuse animals. I'm going to turn into a real-life Batman who defends animals. My story parallels Bruce Wayne's: His parents were murdered in front of him. I had a doggy who died and I found out later. Chilling similarity.

Anyway, Harley has been in our family for 9 years, and in that time, he has seen many animals come and go. And he's always been a great dog, but he's been aging. When Daisy showed up 3 years ago, he suddenly got a good burst of speed, and somehow he seemed to be really interested in that girl. He kept step and pace with her, running around in the backyard, despite the fact that Daisy was 4 times his size. She kept him young. Now that she's gone, he's slow, sluggish, and man does he look old.

With any luck:

We're born into a world where we have an established family. We're born into a world where we have parents, siblings, and extended family, all of whom have a distinct love and interest in us. We're coddled as babies (because there's no such thing as some weird, self-sufficient baby), and then during our formative years, our families take care of everything for us. We have homes, clothes, food, an education, and in the unfortunate circumstance that a member of our family dies, magically a funeral has been planned, and all we have to do is show up. Maybe. If we're too young, we probably don't even have to go. Basically, we're accounted for.

At some point, though, we start to expand our interest outside of our families. And I should say that I don't limit "family" to blood. Our family is whoever takes care of us. At some point, we expand our interest outside of those who take care of us out of a sense of duty. And if we're lucky, we meet someone who will take care of us because they want to.

Think about it for a couple minutes, and you'll realize that your parents are nothing more, and have never been anything more than two people who like each other. It's a basic analysis, but it's true. Our parents are two people who like each other so much they wanted to spend most of their time with each other. They liked each other so much that they had children. They maybe liked each other so much that they decided to live in the same house, and forever sleep in the same bed.

Our parents are not obligated to each other necessarily. They just really really like each other. They're what we aspire to not only because they are our reference point for how we're meant to structure our lives, but because family can only go so far.

I love and respect my family. Every member. And in my family, each and every member is particularly interesting (or I'm bullshitting), but the world we're born into is limited. Most of the people we meet the moment we're born are already adults. As we grow up, they're getting older. I don't mean to be grim (which is to say that I'm not being grim for the sake of being grim, I'm being grim because the concept I want to explore is inherently grim), but these people are likely going to die before we do. It happens generation after generation. We should know that. I've tried to. It's fascinating and inescapable, and the fact that it can truly happen at any moment is major bullshit.

When we get to the point that we are expanding our interests outside of our family, we're met with absurd trepidation and apprehension, and rejection. We accidentally make new friends and form complex relationships, and we stumble into traditions and layers of responsibility toward each other. We date a lot, and we try each other out. And it's awkward and dramatic and fun, but eventually we get to the point where we truly want/need to settle down. We build a group of people with whom we hope to share our time in the future, and it's because the world we've always known inevitably has to fall away at some point. In all of these relationships though, most of us obviously hope to have a relationship with somebody that we can create a family with. We want to have children who can one day theorize that their parents are just really tight friends. It's nature. It's ethereal and spiritual. It's evolution. It's done out of love and fear. I can safely say that without the woman I love and without the family and friends I love, I'm an old man. I'm an old man yelling at you to get off my lawn.

Everybody who I care about and who cares back keeps me young and sane. I've seen what happens when you lose your anchor.

It can ruin you. It can turn you into a shell of who you were because you were so invested in their life, and they were so invested in yours. It's disheartening to watch. It's heart breaking. But it's a true testament to the power we can create and share with each other. And it should be comforting to know that people can be so capable of loving one another. I can love all my friends as much as I can stand to, but no matter how much I pour out, I'll still be a shadow if I lose it all.

Have a big satisfying meal. But in a few hours, you're still going to need breakfast. Does it cheapen the meal you enjoyed?

I hope not. But I'm feeling differently. I've mentioned that when I walked my girl, I made her pause and sit at each intersection. The truth is that I really hoped she would connect the street corner with the sound a car makes. I hoped that when those two pieces of stimuli occurred at once, she would respond by sitting and waiting, as I made her do. I was invested in her future. I enjoyed her at the time. I loved her without end at the time. But here two months later I feel less than empty. I feel vacuous. It isn't that there is "nothingness" in my heart as a result of her loss, it's that the space in which she once resided is actively yearning and trying to fill the space. It can't be filled.

I come back to Harley. I am able to intellectualize my loss. I am able to question why my pain is here. I can write a repulsively long blog post dedicated to the feeling. But my poor old Harley is simply vaguely aware that there used to be another animal around. Maybe. Who knows how a dog's mind works, let alone that sad abused boy. Maybe he doesn't remember feeling so happy running through the grass with Daisy. Maybe he doesn't remember rolling and playing with her, but I'll bet that the opposite of those feelings is registering heavily with him.

Daisy was a dog. And she was a good one. But she was a dog. And as hurt as I am, I can reason out the pain. I can riddle out the reasons. I can think. But for Harley, she was there when he woke up and went to sleep. She focused on him. She loved him. She played with him. And he loved her. And without her, he's reeling. Harley lost his buddy.

It's all just some kindergarten buddy system on a global scale. Harley needed Daisy and without her, he's falling. I loved her, and I wanted her forever, but she was always going to get away from me. If life had played out the ideal way, Harley would never have to know a future without his friend.

I don't know where this is going. I can't cap off this theory in a nice clean way. I'm 25 years old, which is a short span of time when gauged against the time of the people around me. I'm inexperienced. I'm a child. But simultaneously these 25 years have been an enternity, because they're all I have known. I'm lucky. I love my family. And I've picked my friends carefully. But I'm still trying to stand up after having been sucker punched by the car that hit my Daisy.

We all need our buddy. We need someone to check in with. No one is obligated to care for us, and I'm one of those who has been lucky enough to find someone who is invested in my happiness and in my health. I hope I don't take it for granted.

I'm sorry that I'm not being very funny right now. But this is a massive side of my personality that I don't want to shelf in favor of writing quippy, sarcastic posts about people I hate. I'll get back to that soon enough. I haven't written a single blog post in over a month, but it's about time that I should try to "speak" again. This is what I have to say right now.

I wish I could say that this is the last time I'll talk about Daisy, but I know for a fact that isn't true. Someday I still have to tell the full story of the night she died. It's a story that I need to tell and which needs to be told for how shocking, horrible and FUNNY it was. It was all those things. But I will say here that I owe a significant debt of gratitude to Bobby Koester, Michael Costa, Allie, and my whole family for helping me to survive it.

I'll put that off for a while.

I guess if there's anything I truly want to say with this post, it's that I think it's okay to need someone's help. And it's okay to talk. And that as much as I talk about how you need the people in your life, the flip side of the coin is that those same people will likely need you one day.

I also want to say that, across the board, I think women are stronger than men.

Coming soon: jokes.

Sorry guys.

Daisy the Dog

As I write this, it's Monday, October 10th, and I'm tired. I'm tired because my stupid fucking cat kept waking me up last night. First he was doing some weird meowing/howling thing at the closed door, and then he started pawing at the door with his goofy claw-less oven mitt hands. The sound was surprisingly loud. But let me back up, and explain why I put up with this all night.

On Thursday, October 6th, at about 8:15 in the morning, I was about to walk out the door and go to work, so I called my dog Daisy over to me and scratched her behind the ear, saying goodbye. When I came back home that evening at about 6:00, I found out that she had gotten out of our fenced in backyard for what felt like the millionth time. It sucks, but it's not uncommon, and no matter how many times I've patched that fence, she's always found a new way to get out. It's just in her nature. She's big, strong, and determined to run around. She almost always comes back on her own after about 20 minutes. She sits on the front step and waits for us to open the door. It's awful, but it happens all the time. Once, a couple of years ago, she disappeared for 6 days, eventually being returned to us a little skinnier than when she left. It was infuriating. But she seemed pretty bulletproof. Just a goofy animal who wants to run around, but is always okay and means well and wants to see us again. Unfortunately, an hour after she got out of the house, we got a call from a cop. Daisy had been struck by a car. The driver took off, and my dog died.

It was horrible. It was incredibly surreal. I felt woozy. I remember everything I did that night as if it's a story I made up. It still feels unreal today.

I loved my dog. So much. She gave me a sense of responsibility that I never felt before. I felt like she was mine. It was almost a paternal experience. She was such a weaselly pain in the ass, always pushing to get her way. So as much as I got to play with her, I also had to be an authority figure.

And I was always afraid of her in the road. When I walked her, I would make her sit and stay at every street corner, only allowing her to walk again when any cars had passed us. I knew it probably wasn't clear to her what I was trying to teach her, but I always just hoped that she would realize there was a reason why I did that.

I'm getting off-point.

Anyway, in that evening, I was a wreck, but I had a focus on taking care of her. And I did. After all of the necessary my-dog-just-died stuff was through, it was worse.

It was literally done. In a matter of hours. Just over.

I didn't really know what to do. I thought I would be okay. You can hardly be in denial over something you've been actively dealing with, so I figured I would just struggle to stop missing her, and then I'd be okay.

Friday I went to work, and I had enough to do that I was suitably distracted. That evening I crashed on my bed, exhausted from the previous evening. Saturday, I woke up feeling almost catatonic. I didn't want to move. I didn't want to get out of bed. I didn't want to go anywhere or do anything. All I wanted to do was torture myself over Daisy's death. I missed her so much. So much. So goddamn much. So much that I really can't do it justice. I can't really accurately describe how weighted down I felt. My hands were heavy useless anvils, my feet were dragging. And I was dizzy just looking around. It was almost as if I was looking down from the top of a tall building, standing on the ledge. I had that uneasy feeling like I was about to fall. That's probably actually a very accurate comparison. I think we all know that "standing on a ledge" feeling. All I wanted was my dog.

I didn't start feeling better until I was talking about her with other people and discussing what happened, how much we loved her, and how much we'll miss her. It was against all my instincts to share like that. I've always felt like it's some lame cliche that you need to open up with other people. I felt like it was a weak thing to do. But I definitely can't deny it's importance now. I was able to move on just a little bit.

Now I realize that I'm talking about a dog. And believe me, I'm fully aware that there are worse things happening everywhere. People have lost siblings and parents, and I don't at all mean to trivialize the loss of a family member or friend, as extreme as I say I feel about losing Daisy. But I should also say that I spent every day with this dog. She had a distinct personality. She was intelligent and pushy. I know her voice. She used to alternatively get pissy with me if I wasn't waking up early enough for her liking, or try to pretend she didn't hear me if she was still in bed and I was up. Some days she would pounce on me and huff at me for staying in bed. She'd poke her big fat nose into my face to prod me awake. Other days, I'd call her name to get her up and out of bed and I'd see her eyes dart over to where I was standing and then quickly look away again, as if maybe I didn't know she was awake. She was trying to get away with something. She was funny. She was big. She was really really important to me.

She loved my family so much. And she loved our other dog, Harley. And everybody loved her. We're all pretty wrecked. One of my favorite things about Daisy was how much she loved my girlfriend. Daisy would literally tackle Allie, so that she could lick her face. She was so excited all she wanted to do was freak out and great her. I used to joke around and say that if Daisy didn't approve of Allie, we'd have a problem. But it was so the opposite of that joke. Sometimes Daisy seemed more excited to see Allie than she was anytime I came home. I fully expected to be living with Daisy for another 10 years. I'm killing myself writing this. Stupid.

I've got to wrap this up.

So now I come home and I don't have some goofy dog jumping all over me, ecstatic that I'm home. I don't have Daisy lying at my feet, extending her leg at me, trying to get me to hold her paw while I read or watch TV. It's over. Last night, in her absence, I decided I didn't want to sleep alone, so I grabbed one of the cats, Merlin (who seems pretty stoked that she's gone by the way. Now he can do whatever the hell he wants) and brought him into my bedroom. Nothing but bullshit all night.

All this to memorialize a dog and to establish that cats...kind of suck.

Daisy was almost 4:

Impressive Technology

I don't know whether or not you read my last post, where I talk about Ryan Dunn's death and think about death itself, but at the end of it, I joked that the next time I posted, I'd just write about Nintendo. Well guess what: evidently I wasn't joking. I'm going to talk about Nintendo.

I bought a 3DS recently, and it really makes me question the universe and what happens when we die.

It also makes me ignore my girlfriend and play Zelda.

Now, I could easily write a long entry here about how awesome Zelda is, and how awesome I am for playing Zelda (which is awesome), but instead, I want to talk about the 3DS system itself.

I'll actually start by explaining the 3DS' predecessor, the Nintendo DSi. It had two cameras, and because of that, it had a lot of fun filters and programs to take crazy pictures. You could take a picture of yourself and a friend, and the system would then determine how alike you look, and then guess at your relationship. For example, here is a picture from the DSi of my sister Kristen and me (from YEARS ago):

Pretty stupid. Pretty fun. You could also use different wacky frames for a picture. Here's Bobby showing off that feature:

You could also add in little pictures of cat ears and big eyes and stuff. Or even distort the image your taking. To illustrate those points, Allie and Daisy:

My favorite feature of the camera, though, was it's ability to combine the faces of you and your friends. First you would take a picture of yourself, and then your friend would try and take a picture of themselves from the same distance, with the same expression, and you'd wind up with some cool/funny combination of your features:

So you can see that the resulting pictures are pretty blurry, but they're also pretty generally well done. I mean, the merged picture of Kristen and me is horrible, but that's because we were being horrible. We look like an old woman. But that merged picture of Bobby and me looks like a combination of the two of us. Pretty weird and cool.

So now we're back at the 3DS, which is, again, the successor to the DSi. It has 3 cameras this time. One on the inside, two on the outside (so that you can take 3D pictures). I've been playing games on it since I got it, but when Bobby came over the other night and was checking it out, we remembered how much fun it was to screw around with the camera on the DSi. We wondered whether or not you can still combine faces on the 3DS. And we found out...You can:

....And:

...Jesus.