One Sharp Dame

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Being and Nothingness

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Stasia, The Wonder Dog

Stasia, The Wonder Dog

Sometimes, I don’t want to be a person. Being a person is difficult. It is time-consuming and it is often not terribly rewarding. There is a lot of effort for effort’s sake in being a person. Futile is another word that springs to mind.

My dog is fabulous in every way possible, save one. She sheds. And I don’t mean the kind of delicate wafting of fur one would expect every spring. Stasia sheds like it is her job. She sheds in a way which leaves all other animals in awe of her shedding ability. I have decided that shedding is her number one calorie burning activity. There is no other explanation for how she can sleep twenty-two hours a day, eat all the food, and still maintain her svelte, muscular physique. It has to be the shedding.

Me, most days.

In the kitchen, I sweep the floor. Thirty minutes later, there are tufts of hair, like drifting snow, piled in corners. I put clean sheets on my bed and settle in for a warm, wonderfully aromatic, shed-free night of sleep. I wake up in the morning, dog hair clinging to my pajamas and on my sheets, under the blankets. I’m pretty sure I smell like dog.

Futile.

Laundry, all the time. How? I’m only one person. I never leave the house. How could I dirty so much laundry? Where does it come from? And do not get me started on the goddamned dishes. Dishes are a fucking plot of the Trilateral Commission to keep us all occupied while shadowy forces run the world.

Teeth don’t stay brushed. Hair? How much of my life have I spent fixing my stupid hair? Showers – all the time with the showers. Wasn’t I just doing this? Didn’t I just clean these bits? Didn’t I just go the grocery store? When did I burn a tank a gas? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?

There came a point in my adulthood, I’m not exactly sure when, when I understood that most of what I used to want for my life was not going to be. It was not going to happen. I rebelled against the constraints. I fought. And like a rabbit caught in a boa constrictor’s grip, the struggling only made it worse, until finally the struggling stopped. I gave in. I let go of the old ideas, let them die.

The years between that realization and my coming to terms with it and finding a new direction, a new dream, were rough ones. I spent a lot of time beating myself up for not becoming more than what I was. I ridiculed myself for the mistakes I had made, the chances I had let slip and the bridges I had burned. Nothing was what I thought it was going to be. I had not executed my plan perfectly and therefore, it was all shit. It was all a waste. I was a waste. I had no value.

Like I said, it was rough. I tried making money my reason for being. It seemed to work for a lot of people I knew. I went into sales. That didn’t work out well. Don’t get me wrong. I am excellent at sales. I am really, really good at it. So good, in fact, that I couldn’t stand myself. As it turns out, I like being able to sleep with a clear conscience more than being sleepless in a nicer home.

It took a long while to come up with a new idea for my life, a new dream, a better way to be. I had to get okay with the fact that there were some books I was never going to get around to reading, places I was never going to see. I had to get okay with not having much of a formal education, with being single and overweight and unsuccessful and all of those other things that I had not become. And then I had to find the good. I had to find a reason for getting out of bed in the morning that didn’t involve being someone’s mother because now my kid was off at school and here I sat, on my sofa, picking dog hair off my black t-shirt for the millionth time in a day.

A miracle happened. I found the good. I got okay with me. I got okay with my body and my mind. I got okay with where I was and who I was. I got more than okay. I became content – not happy – content. Contentment happened when I stopped chasing the illusive perfect life sold to me and instead stood still. I was still for a very long time. I was still and alone, with only my thoughts for company. And after thinking my thoughts and feeling my feelings and looking back on all that had come before me, I was okay.

But it is hard being a person. It can be a slog. And other people can be so people-like. I mean, there are so many of you. And you are everywhere, all the time. There are people in front of me at Starbucks. And there are people at the mall. And people driving places. There are people who will not agree with me even though I am right and they are wrong, wrong, wrong. So many people, all the time, and none of them the least bit concerned they are in my way.

The existential creep starts. The questions start. What does it all mean? What is it all for? Where did these dirty dishes come from? Is that a dog hair in my soup? It feels so futile. I’m so tired. I don’t want to be a person.

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11 Comments

  1. This might be my favorite thing you’ve ever posted. Being a person really IS too damn hard. Stasia doesn’t do any of that stuff and look how happy she looks … SHE doesn’t mind smelling like a dog …

  2. I hear you. You don’t even want to know the size of the kittyhair-n-dust jackalopes (too big to be bunnies) behind the sofa just now when I sighed and heaved it away from the wall in search of the missing remote unit that someone (cough who falls asleep with it in his hand constantly cough) managed to play the best game of hide and seek we’ve played with it so far.

    The fact that you are still thinking at all about this stuff and that you haven’t turned into a vegged out barnacle…it might not FEEL like a victory, but trust me when I say: it is. You stayed conscious when it would have been easier to go numb, and that takes a lot of courage. My animals make me nuts often (and worse; they are cats, so they care about as little as that honeybadger) but what they provide me with when I am feeling down is invaluable. I hope you have a few moments to savor and relish, in between picking off the dog hair.

  3. This one met me where I am … Where I’d like to be. And all of them make me wish I had known you better when I had the opportunity.

  4. Love this post. Truly. The standing still and waiting and becoming okay, that’s the thing. Dogs are great at this. I’m terrible at it. Most days, I don’t want to be a person either. But every now and then, when I read something true like this, I’m glad I’m a person.

  5. Reminds me of the U2 song title…’Running to stand still.’

  6. it is like coming across an old journal entry…

    • I hope that is a good thing? I owe you for reading and commenting on this piece. I hadn’t read it since I published it and it was an excellent thing to be reminded of today. Thank you.

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