On dogs in the morning.

NOTE: I wrote this on the bus, so please be kind if it’s not up to snuff.

There are some things in life that will squeeze your heart until it feels like it will pop.

Dads with babies. The first tree to turn red in the fall. Soldier homecomings. A perfectly toasted bagel with cream cheese. A hug when you’ve been without human contact for a while.

And, as it turns out, a sad veterinarian.

Now, it’s worth this caveat. It was really early when I saw my vet today. Maybe he, like me, has a hard time mustering energy in the morning. Maybe the coffee machine was broken. Maybe.

But maybe not. See, my normally effusive vet seemed, well, droopy. He was still his amazing vet self, getting down on the floor with Sadie for her exam and remembering that she’s lousy at catching food. But he was quieter than usual, and when she looked at him helplessly as he tried to toss her a treat, he rushed toward her almost desperately, telling her it was ok, she didn’t have to do anything she didn’t like, she was still awesome. The exam over, he lingered on just petting her, scratching her ears, telling her how great she is.

And when he walked us out of the clinic, he seemed to want to just hang out with her. Sadie, of course, had spotted the door and was ready G.O., but he made her linger for one last ear rub.

As I and my super healthy pooch left the animal hospital, I asked myself what could make someone like this vet sad. And my heart cracked a little, because, after all, he’s a vet, and not all animals are healthy.


30 minutes later, as I was leaving the apartment to go to work, Sadie and I did our normal departure ritual:

  • She gets excited for a moment when I approach the door…
  • then realizes we aren’t going for a you-know-what…
  • then climbs onto her quilt on the couch….
  • and presents me with her backside.
  • I give her one last ear rub, tell her I love her, and depart.

Today, thinking of my vet, I lingered on the ear rub. I thought to myself: “I might miss my bus because of this need to smoosh my face into the soft fur of her head. But that’s ok.”

I did miss the bus. By 15 seconds at the most. And it was ok.

I had to walk to the next bus stop in the crisp New England fall air. I had time to tilt my head up to watch the sun set just the tips of the leaves afire in my neighborhood. My world is poised to explode into autumn color, but it hasn’t happened yet.

It was so beautiful. Almost too beautiful for my already full heart. All I could do was be grateful and hope I was wrong about my vet.

Maybe he just hadn’t had his coffee. I hope that was it. I really, really hope so.

The kids are conspiring against me

I left the house a little grumpy today. I blame the signs in my favorite walking space, informing me that off leash dogs kill wildlife and knock kids off of bicycles (there is a campaign going on urging people to leash their dogs since a blue heron was killed recently). Since I have sometimes broken the law and let my dog off leash in that glorious space, I feel guilty and attacked.

But the kids of Boston seem determined to yank me out of my bad mood.

As I walked to work, I spotted a woman with a double stroller on the sidewalk ahead of me. A quick calculation made me realize that if she didn’t shift a little, I was gonna end up in the fence. Damn strollers, I groused silently. People with kids think they own the sidewalk. 

Then, like magic, she shifted to the side with a smile and one of the little angels in the stroller lifted his little hand and waved at me. I, feeling suitably jack-ass-like, waved back.

At the bus stop, a tired-looking mom was talking to her little toddler while her baby slept in yet another stroller.

Mom, to the toddler: You sure do have a lot of energy!
Toddler: Yep!
Mom: Can you give some to me?
Toddler: ***evil grin***


As we approached a major construction site on the bus, the mom with the toddler asked her little one if there were more excavators than yesterday. The little boy, mesmerized, didn’t answer, but all of us watched as the scoop dumped a bunch of concrete into a dump truck with a resounding clang.

Toddler, hushed, in awe: “Did you hear that?”
Mom: “Yes, I sure did.”
pause, as we all kept watching
Mom, idly: “You know, I always thought they looked like big, mechanical dinosaurs.”

The little boy was silent, still mesmerized. Then suddenly, from the front of the bus came a voice:

Bus driver: “I always thought the same thing. It’s so cool to hear someone say it.”


On the train, grandma and her grandson were having an adventure. Kneeling on her lap, the little one kept his eyes fixed outside the window, letting out a little gasp every time another train went by. A few times, he flung out a hand and pointed, whacking me in the head.

I didn’t mind. Thanks, kids of Boston.

Faking balance, single city girl style

Some years ago, I started blogging. It was de rigueur at the time…and I liked it. I’m not sure if I was narcissistically looking for approval of my writing efforts, or perhaps I was seeking that ubiquitous “community” that everyone seems to be seeking. I joined up with some blogging groups, not knowing what would happen.

And I found a community. But it wasn’t mine.

Blogging introduced me to a pretty powerful group of women…mommy bloggers. Dozens of them. Smart, sassy, gorgeous (mostly) Southern women who always claimed they were losing their minds, but to me, seem ridiculously put together. They have kids, jobs, husbands, houses, white SUVs, great hair, perfect jewelry, platform shoes, a relationship with black eyeliner that I don’t understand, and a knack for writing about their lives in laugh-out-loud ways.

I love these women. I salute them. I am in awe of them. But I can’t really, on a deep spiritual level, relate to them. Me with my fur-kid shelter dog, my decorated-just-to-my specifications apartment, my schedule that only I control, my sensible city walking shoes, my Saturday morning sleep-ins, my Netflix binge-watches…I can’t tap in to the stresses of raising humans, living with men with whom you’ve signed paperwork, or buying a five-pound bag of anything at the grocery store.

So, when a friend asked me to serve on a street team for Lela Davidson’s new book, Faking Balance: Adventures in Work and Life, I was dubious. After all, I have nothing to offer in the ongoing lean in/max out debate for working moms, because I’m a non-mom. There isn’t even a category for me other than Spinster, which I’m toying with adopting, or the vaguely porn-sounding PANK (Professional Aunt No Kids), but both of those imply that I am most decidedly not a mom. When I start to complain about how busy I am, I often have to stop myself because, well, I don’t have a family to worry about, and though worrying about who will look after me in my dotage is a thorny question, it doesn’t compare at all to worrying about how teenage girls will survive middle school in the 21st century.  I simply cannot 100% relate to you, my mommy friends. I can try, but as all of your blogs and books have made clear to me over the years…I really have no idea.

But, considering that I just finished reading a series of post-apocalyptic teen fiction adventures, I figured that “relate-ability” isn’t a criteria for not reading a book. And Lela always makes me laugh,  and I can genuinely say I knew her (casually) when I lived in AR, and so, I pre-ordered my copy on Amazon (how cool is it that I know someone who has a book on Amazon?) and dove in.

A few weeks later, having just finished the book, I have to say that I’m glad I did. Oh, I admit, I kind of glossed over the breast-feeding/pumping sections, because, well, really, some things I don’t want to relate to. The trials of owning huge houses in Texas or Arkansas have so far eluded me. Nor did I ever work in “Corporate America” or a cowboy boot startup. I don’t make spreadsheets for household chores, and I never had a body that could even consider wearing a bikini, let alone “rocking it”, as Lela discusses in one of her more moving essays.

But what I can relate to is that being what we are “supposed” to be, as women, is hard. There’s no manual. Even if you do fit in to the conventional definition of successful modern working mom, that definition shifts every day. We women all fake a certain kind of balance. We must be feminine, but stand up for ourselves. We must be confident but not bossy. We must be tough at work (no crying!) but also tap in to our motherly instincts to nurture and guide our teams. We must look good, but not look like we tried (for the record, I have the 2nd part of this one down pat). Even I, living my luxurious single city life, have taken to stuffing my work bag with magazines and articles, so I can read them while commuting. I feel a disproportionate pride that I manage to get up and walk the dog every morning; when I manage to put on mascara, well, watch out, world. I’m unstoppable.

What strikes me about reading a book like this is how foolish my worries about “not relating” are. After all, who really cares if I’m not a mom? I can relate to the struggle not to let emotions leak out through my tear ducts at work. At being the Dog Park Villain. At continually looking for the proper mix of home, work, and fun that make it all feel like I’m doing it right. Maybe not so much with the oiling of nipples in preparation for breast-feeding, but I can definitely empathize with how scary and wonderful and awful and remarkable it must be to try to raise kids. Sure, I still harbor this strange premonition that I will, someday, be hit by a distracted mom in a white SUV in a parking lot, but I feel ya, moms. It ain’t easy to be a lady living in this big bold world. I suspect it’s not easy to be a dude, either, but that’s a topic for another book, another time.

So if you are a mom, you want to be mom, you loved your mom, or you just feel like getting sympatico with Lela’s particular brand of mom (and who wouldn’t, they seem to have great hair), I recommend Faking Balance. It’s a breezy, funny read. It’s perfect for that last Labor Day weekend reading session…assuming you can find time between cookouts, school shopping, the first week of homework, after-school activities, getting one of your final few mani-pedis of the summer, tracking down an elusive Pumpkin Spice Latte, and watching the first college football game of the year.

And if you can’t find time to read the book, buy it anyway and leave it on a table somewhere so people think you’re the type who has time to read funny books. You’ll get major #fakingbalance points for that.

Oh Friday, thank you for saving me

Do you ever have those weeks when, having reached the end, you look back and realize you are lucky you survived the week with your friends and employment still intact?

Yeah, this week was a doozy for me. I’m not sure why. The work wasn’t harder than usual. The weather broke and we can almost taste fall on our tongues in the mornings. (PS: I’m not ready for fall. The memory of 6 feet of snow is still a little to fresh. But fall in New England, y’all…there’s nothing better. I will be ready soon.) I have kept up my morning walks (though I’ve been slacking on the picking up of the house). I have refrained from launching into a righteous, idealism-fueled rant against guns, Donald Trump, and whatever jerk invented the “comment” feature for online media. I booked flights to Iceland and Berlin, for heaven’s sake, and I’m going to visit the Grand frickin’ CANYON in a few weeks. My family is gonna have a party by the beach in October. By all accounts, it was a good week.

Except for that whole stock market flippin’ out thing, people getting shot on live TV, Katrina remembrances revealing how much farther we have to go, and National Dog Day outshining the anniversary of women receiving the right to vote. Plus me and my ever present inner monologue about all the things that I need to do better (like eat more vegetables, dress more fashionably, go on more/any dates, etc). Yeah, except those things.

So I guess it’s not a surprise that my sarcasm filter slipped a little. I can only take so much. But I really hate it when that happens.

See, it’s a fine line I walk. I went liberal arts school in the northeast, people, and if it’s one thing they teach you there, especially when you hang out with actors and improv-ers, it’s the snappy comeback. Until I went to college, I never knew I had it in me, and mine are often more snarky than funny, but if I’m not careful, I can be a real…well…let’s just say my Arkansas friends sometimes had to remind me to “be nice, Jodi!”.

Anyway, I work next to a co-worker with whom I can snark back and forth all day without worrying about offending; that is truly a blessing. But there is a line. It’s hard to know where it is sometimes, but I’m always trying to keep an eye one it. And at least twice this week, I think I crossed it. I’m not saying the sarcasm wasn’t merited (it was) but like most things that bubble up to the tip of your tongue, it would have been better thought, not said. It felt marvelous for about 2 seconds, and then I felt bad. Really bad. The kind of worry that I remember from junior high, when my fretting about not saying something cool ruined my sleep and made my chest heavy.

I also had a tough time with the #niftyfiftyfriday challenge that I and two of my friends do each week – we have to post a photo shot with our 50mm lens on facebook each Friday, so we can critique and evaluate and learn. I LOVE THIS part of my week, but I couldn’t capture anything on the camera this week. I usually have no trouble finding a subject to shoot, or beauty in tiny things, but not this week. It was annoying.

For the record, I realize that, in the grand scheme of things, these are all #firstworldproblems. But lets leave the judging for another day, shall we?

Anyway, today, I knew a group of us from work were planning to head down to the Greenway (the urban park that was the result of the Big Dig, where they basically buried a highway to build trees and stuff – a winning idea that I’m pretty sure I’m still paying for in my taxes) to check out some public art. I was very excited for this. Just the therapy I needed! I put my camera in my bag first thing in the morning, and did my best to get through the day, with marginal success.

We got down to the park, and it was clear, beautiful Boston night, the kind that goes a long way to toward making us forget that winter is long and cold up here. We strolled and exclaimed over the sculptures, and I snapped happily away. We stopped to sit on the grass, and I accidentally captured the most gorgeous photo of one of my coworkers. I lay on my back and looked up at a huge woven sculpture hanging between skyscrapers, clicking madly, feeling the fist around my chest loosen bit by bit.

Then, I looked down at my camera and realized – no photo card. Which equals no photos. ***sad trombone***

Now, after the aforementioned angst of the week, you’d think I’d have lost my cool, right? I think it’s a mark of supreme maturity that all I could do was laugh, put away my real camera, and get out my smart phone, which, to be honest, probably did just as well at capturing the awesome as my Canon would have (this because I am still very much a “real” digital camera novice).

So, here are a few of my I-Phone photos of my beautiful city. I share them with you from the safe and quiet of my apartment, with my dog, who has no problem tolerating my sarcasm, at my side.

Happy Friday. Enjoy!

Ok, I cheated. I took this one two nights ago at my pond. But it’s so pretty. It was an alternate #niftyfiftyfriday candidate. IMG_1091

This sculpture is called “As If It Were Already Here” and it hangs between 3 skyscrapers. How cool is that?As If It Were Already Here

I feel like this is made for a movie villain to get caught in.Nets in the sky

Who knew grass came in polka dot?Polka dot grass

I have never seen this view of my city before. I felt like I should listen to the light and just look for a moment. I only irritated a few tourists by stopping in my tracks. Stop and look

Summer. How can you not fill up your good mood tank when you see this? Kids in Fountain

Three things that won’t magically transform your life

I hate our current obsession with lists.

Well, maybe that’s too strong. Maybe some of you read “89 things to make your sex life better” or “57 tips to instantly become the most popular person ever” as inspirational. Maybe you think “Hey, if I pick one or two of these, I’ll do better” rather than “Oh, great, 89 more ways I’m a loser”, like I do.

But, in recent days, I have, without really trying, adopted a few simple habits that have made my life better. They haven’t revolutionized it, and they haven’t been able to chase away my minor case of the blues – caused by missing faraway friends/family and pretty much EVERYONE I know getting married, having kids, or taking glorious vacations with their incredible friends/family (and PS, I KNOW I shouldn’t compare myself to everyone else, and I usually do well, I really do, but sometimes…ugh.) Ahem. Anyway. – but they have made life just a little more enjoyable and sane.

So I share them with you, not because I want you to think I’m clever or witty with my 27 point list, but in the genuine hope that they might help you,

  1. I have started taking a walk in the morning. I’m not sure why this started, but for the last two weeks or so, I have managed to rouse myself out of bed and take the dog for a walk before work. I think this one sprang from guilt; I just feel bad for my dog who has to stay cooped up all day with only a visit from the dog walker to keep her from dying of boredom in our little apartment. And she loves walks so much! This one also requires that I try to go to bed a little earlier so I can still get my 7 to 8 hours. And bonus! It lessens my personal guilt if I don’t get out for a walk/run/swim at night, because at least I did SOMETHING other than sit on my butt all day. So, thumbs up for the morning walk. I realize this is not a big deal for most of you, but for those who know how much I love mornings, you get the monumentalness of this step.
  2. I try to pick up all my stuff before I go to bed. This one doesn’t always work. See, I think my default is to be a slob. A college roommate of mine once wrote an essay about how my slob tendencies made her crazy. However, I really do love my apartment when it’s picked up; it has great feng shui and is basically my haven, my bachelorette pad where I have no need for anything or anyone else. I am content in my woman-cave…when it’s clean. So, the picking up of things is kind of a satisfying way to get closer to clean. Even if it’s just putting the dog toys back in the bin, putting the couch cushions back, and moving all dishes to the sink to be washed at a later date (hey, don’t judge, I’m taking small steps here), it helps. It means fewer binge cleaning sessions on Sunday nights. And sometimes, I even make my bed in the morning. Someone get my mom some smelling salts, she just passed out after reading this.
  3. I turned off the little red email icon on my phone. Now this one may be revolutionary. For all you email addicts, don’t fret. You can still check your email on your phone, as I still do. But you don’t have to see the little red icon. You don’t have to get a buzz or a ding every time you get a new email. I am telling you, you do not need this distraction. Unless you are a NASA engineer or the President, or maybe a doctor, you don’t need to be distracted every time someone replies to an email about cake at the next birthday party. It takes a few steps on your phone to achieve this, and I’m happy to share them if anyone wants to know how, but seriously, y’all. DO THIS ONE. It makes a difference. It’s one less thing to look at when you pull out your phone. You have to CHOOSE to check email rather just do it by default. You can do it. I know you can. You will not be less important or valuable if you do this. I promise.

So, there you are. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these and how they work for you!