Monday, September 28, 2015


  • Still missing my puppy every time I pull up to the house and he's not at the window to greet me.
  • Raging at work right now...someone has crossed me in the most unprofessional way, and I feel like my hands are tied in the way I can approach it. I do not like this feeling, because I feel like it's something I am going to just have to "get over" rather than being able to "crush someone" in retaliation.
  • Had a great date night with the hubby the other night...went to the biergarten in Hoboken and drank lots of good German beer, then had a nice dinner out, then came home and watched Pearl Jam kill it at the concert in Central Park. We had so much fun...just hung out and talked and just made a really nice night of it (TJK was at a bday party and sleepover, so we had the night to ourselves.)
  • Went out to a sports bar/restaurant on Sunday with TJK and Hubby to watch the Steelers game. It's hard to be a Giants fan surrounded by these terrible-towel-waving people, but at least I don't hate the Steelers and can root for them most weeks. Although it's really hard to root for any team with a rapist as a starting quarterback and a dog torturer as a backup. So yeah, there's that. #GoGiants
  • I used to never be able to sleep. Then, I started to be able to sleep and it was awesome. And now I am back to not sleeping. I think it might be the work stuff invading my brain when I am trying to drift off.
  • Randomly decided to go to Maine this coming weekend. For no reason at all - just to go away and forget about real life for a bit. I can't wait to hit up every single craft beer joint up there.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Travel Plans and Hopes and Dreams

We are *almost* done traveling for 2015. Just one more road trip coming up, which is going to be out of my comfort zone a bit. We are going to the Carolinas to stay in a cabin in the woods. Now, when I say "cabin" please don't misunderstand me. I found a cabin with a huge wall of windows looking out over the mountains, a pool table in it's game room, and a  hot tub. All just for me, Hubby, and TJK. I'm looking forward to it, just from the standpoint of getting away and relaxing. That's in November...and then we have nothing planned going forward. I HATE that. I need travel to look forward to.

To recap 2015, we went to:

  • San Antonio
  • Vermont
  • Philly (more of a weekend away, but still)
  • London
  • Liverpool
  • Iceland
  • Ohio for the Football Hall of Fame inductions
  • Bahamas
  • Mexico (Cozumel and Costa Maya)
  • The Carolinas
Some places I would really love to look into going in 2016:
  • Portugal
  • Budapest
  • Istanbul/Cappadocia, Turkey
  • South American cruise
  • Northern Ireland (Dublin across the north to Galway)
  • Cuba
  • San Diego (one of my favorite places ever)
  • Napa Valley with the 'Bombs
  • New Orleans
  • Quebec Ice Hotel
  • European cruise (Spain to the south of France, or the Greek Islands)
  • Hawaii
  • Pittsburgh (to take TJK to a Steelers game)
  • The Exhumas in the Bahamas (to swim with pigs!)
Obviously there is no way we can hit all of these, but I always like to make a wish list and then wherever we don't get next year, we can consider for the following year.

And a couple of longer-term ideas for perhaps 2017:
  • The Galapagos Islands
  • Norway cruise
  • Paris and Giverny with TJK, Hubby, Shar, and Momo
  • Scotland
And for 2018, which is a big wedding anniversary for us, so I'm hoping to do it big:
  • African safari
  • Hawaii  (if we don't get there before, since our honeymoon was there and I'd love to show it all to TJK)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Bad Things Happen In Threes

I am still devastated over the loss of my dog. It's been three weeks, and I am still crying at the drop of a hat. I know three weeks isn't too long, but I thought I would have regained some semblance of composure by now.

My cleaning lady was at my house when I got home from work yesterday, and she started talking about Gypsy and what a good dog he was - that he would follow her around the house and lie down in whatever room she was cleaning, and how quiet the house is now without him. And then I started crying and she teared up too. She said, "This is why I hate them; they break your heart." And I agreed. She hugged me and then I cried a little more, and then when she left, I took out Gypsy's ashes, still in the pretty little shopping bag that they came in. I took the beautifully carved wooden box out of the bag and held it for a minute. I looked around, trying to find the right place to put the box so it would be a memory, but not a morbid memory, for me to see as I walked through the house. I cried again, and said aloud, "I'M NOT READY! I'M NOT READY!" to no one, because I was all alone. I put the ashes back in the pretty bag and put them back on the dining room table.

I am not ready. I am not ready to have the wooden box on display. I'm not ready to see it every day. I am just not ready.

I still expect to see him every day when I come into the house. I still expect to give him scraps while I cook and to have him begging for my meal once it's served. I still want to give him all the shreds of cheese left on the plate when I grate it for dinner. I still shut the door behind me when I answer the door so he won't get out. I still have the constant wonder of where he is because it's been a while since I saw him. I still feel sad when I get up to go to the bathroom and he isn't under my feet, following me and tripping me up because he is so close.
My best friend called me last Monday. Her dog, Maizey, had taken a turn for the worse. She had been at the vet since the previous Friday, and was not getting better. They were trying one more thing, one hail Mary to try to save her, but if it didn't work, they were going to have to put Maizey to sleep the next day.

The treatment they tried didn't work, and Maizey died last Tuesday.

Talking to my bestie about it, I was just overcome. Completely overcome. I tried to be there for her, and I hope I was, but I was still in my own head about my own dog. We cried together, because that is what best friends do.
Last night, I got a text from my mom telling me that my sister's cat was very ill and that my sis was taking him to the vet and it wasn't looking good. They think he got a blood clot and he took a sudden and painful decline.

After 16+ years with Connor, they had to put him to sleep. And again, my heart broke...and not just for my sister. I am still struggling with my own loss and having these losses on top of just doesn't seem fair.
I'm a pragmatic person so I don't believe in any kind of life after death - I think that's something we tell ourselves to make us feel better when we lose someone. Right now, I would give almost anything to be one of those people who says "he's in a better place" or "he's in doggie heaven" or "he went over the rainbow bridge and he's running around with all the other puppies." That would be so nice right now.

Friday, September 04, 2015

The Long Tale of Sir Street Gypsy Louis of Newark

I am having such a hard time.

Most of the day and night, I'm okay. I am a really busy person, so my mind doesn't get caught up in tangles of thought when I need to get stuff done. But I keep having these bursts of remembrance and it is just. so. hard.

People without pets just don't get it. Your dog dies and you move on. You just get another dog. It's not a person dying, after all.

But this was my baby.
This was the puppy who, almost 16 years ago, I picked out from the Newark Shelter. The weekend after we closed on our house, I NEEDED A DOG. We went to a few places to look at rescues and finally ended up in Newark. Not a pleasant place, and definitely a kill-shelter. When we got there, they were bringing in a passel of pit bulls, one pregnant, and the woman at the desk gave the people holding the leashes the signal - hand across the throat. Put them down.

So when we walked among the cages, with the roar of cooped-up dogs surrounding us, I was looking for someone to save. My first love at the shelter was a 6-week-old German Shepherd. It was tiny and adorable and sick. But it couldn't be adopted for a few more weeks and I couldn't wait. So we kept looking.

We came upon a cage filled with 4 dogs. Three of them were big, and they were aggressively trying to get our attention. The fourth was under the mass of the other dogs, trying to check us out but getting nipped and pushed back at every turn. I made eye contact with the little guy, and that was that. He was mine. We had him taken out of the cage and he was shy and sweet and nervous. He was also full of scars from who-knows-what and he had gum stuck in his matted fur. He was my boy.

The tag on the cage said that he was a "Black Lab Mix" - which, I didn't realize, was code for a pit bull mutt. I just saw his sweet face and kind demeanor and I had to take him home.

My husband was not so sure. He did not grow up with a dog and thought we should get settled in the house for more than 2 days before bringing a dog home. I would hear nothing of it. We took him home that day, after a stop at Petco to have him groomed (he stank) and at my parents's house to show him off. My mom freaked out that I was bringing a pit bull into my house (and, despite her being totally in love with him, she still, to the end, had a hard time telling people he was a pittie).

We name him Gypsy, as we will not conform to your gendered name expectations. Boys are gypsies too, was my answer when people questioned his moniker. He was manly enough to deal with a girly name anyway, haters.
Day one, day two, day three...all is well. He is not quite as manly as we had expected. He is sweet and all that, but he does not bark. He chirps. Like a bird. Our friends mock us for having the one and only chirping pit bull in the world. I street-fight them to defend Gypsy's honor.

Suddenly, he starts getting mean. I think he got comfortable. He realized he now has a nice house and all the food and treats and toys he can handle. He is not living on the rough and tumble Newark streets any longer. He comes out of his shell, and he is kind of a dick.

But he is only mean to me. Me, the one who saved him from sure death. Me, the one who catered to his every whim. Me, the one who took him running in the park. This dog was trying to eat my face. I didn't know what to do. My mom was in a panic - "you need to get rid of him! He is going to murder you in your sleep!" No. He is my baby and I said I was going to save him and that's exactly what I am going to do, whether I have a face left or not.

I got scared though. This was one strong dog. He was hard to fight off. I counted the minutes till my husband got home so he could control this dogmonster. Finally, I got a trainer, who taught me in 3.5 minutes that it was all my fault and that this was not an evil dog; I was just a bad human.

Dogs are pack animals, and Gypsy thought I was beneath him in the pack. I was basically too nice to him. When he wanted to sit on the couch, I'd move so he could have my spot. When he wanted a treat, I gave him 10. Once I stopped being a dog's doormat, my sweet puppy was back and he never left me after that.

Oh, and she also tried to teach him to walk on the leash, proclaiming it to be a simple thing. He never did learn that trick - he was always just so happy to be outside going for a walk that he didn't care if he walked in circles. He just wanted to be out there.
For the next 15-and-some-odd years, he was my loyal companion. He was waiting at the window when I pulled up to the house. He sat outside the bathroom door and waited for me every time I peed. He curled up on the couch next to me and chilled. Now don't get me wrong. This was not a lovey-dovey kind of dog. He didn't cuddle. But he was a sweetheart and he loved us.

When True Jersey Kid was born, we were nervous about how he would be with her. I mean, he was a pit bull and they eat babies, right? My mom, in particular, was sure we were going to have to get rid of Gypsy because he was going to murder the baby's face. Well, TJK was born, we brought her home, Gypsy sniffed her and then went and laid down. Did not care about this alien in his house. And the truth was: When people told me that my dog might not get along with my baby, my answer was always that the baby would have to be the one to go because I knew and loved my puppy and this baby was a stranger. Luckily, that decision never had to be made.
Gypsy loved to go the park and was horrendous on the leash. He would pull me around the park like I was a rag doll, and he would have that pit bull smile on while he did it. This terrified people and when they saw us coming, they would hide their little chi-chi dogs while he dragged me past them. He wouldn't have hurt a fly though. He truly just wanted to play with everyone - dog, cat, bird, human, whatever - and was very exuberant about it. His exuberance came off as aggression, which was really okay with me because no one messed with me when I was with him. His playful craziness came off as homicidal, and that kept me safe. So while he wasn't a protective dog, per se, he did protect me in his own way.
I was walking Gypsy around the neighborhood when he was maybe 8 months old, just taking a stroll around my development. This man is sitting in his driveway on a lawn chair (do people do that everywhere or just the Italians in Jersey?) and he saw me coming and basically freaked out. Ran at me. Got on the ground. Had my dog all up on him and did not care. Then finally talked to me: Can you wait here a minute? I have to get my wife, she will love this dog so much. He looks like our dog who just passed away.

So this guy runs in the house and he and his wife bolt back out. She ignores me and rolls around on the sidewalk with Gyspy, who is totally cool with it. They tell me all about their dog, with tears in their eyes, and we kind of become besties. Then, a few weeks later, they come to a BBQ at my house. The guy pulls me aside and offers me $1000 for my dog. I look at him like he's insane, for several reasons:

  1. I paid $100 for this dog and got $50 back when I had him fixed. So this is a $50 street dog.
  2. You can go to the shelter on any given day and get a pit bull for $100 with a $50 rebate for fixing; why do you want to pay $1000 for mine?
  3. Um, you freak, this is my baby and you know that and do you think for one minute I would sell him to you for any amount?
So I tell him no, hell no, hell fucking no. The next day they go and get a new dog who could be Gypsy's twin and we never see them again. Very strange.
I am very protective of my dog, and I will not have him disparaged in any way.

So we start hanging out with Diddy, who is a co-worker of my husband's and also Patsy Darling's boyfriend. He is annoying when he drinks and we fight all the time (not any more, but we did back then).

I'm pouring tequila shots for us all and as we are doing the shots, of course Gypsy is right underfoot. Some tequila gets spilled on him. Diddy starts yelling that my dog is 50 Cent. He is all shot up.

I get furious because in my drunken state, I am assuming that because my dog is black and is from Newark, Diddy is calling him a thug. This becomes an ongoing joke, and Gypsy comes upon another of his nicknames: 50 Cent.
We go to CT every year for Thanksgiving and 4th of July. In 2004, TJK was going up to CT for her first Thanksgiving. She was 11 months old. We leave Gypsy home, with a friend of ours staying at the house to watch him.

We get home on Sunday and of course, Gypsy bounds for the door when we get there and greets us as his long lost family (which we are). As soon as she sees him, TJK says her very first word: Gypsy. She pronounces it "Gypy" which becomes another of his nicknames.

My kid did not say Mama or Dada or No for her first word. She called her dog. For some strange reason, this was always a source of pride for me.
There are a thousand stories I could tell about Gypsy Lou, and I may come back at times to add them when they come to mind.

This is a dog who was so loved. So loved that for the past 2+ years, he has been peeing in the house due to kidney disease, and we just cleaned up after him every day, sometimes multiple times a day. So loved that again due to kidney disease, he got up 2-3 times a night for the past several years and we had to get up with him and let him out (okay, so Hubby did most of that). So loved that even though he had been sick for a couple of years and wasn't himself and walked sideways and had several strokes...I couldn't let him go. I still saw a spark in him, that spark of a puppy who still wants to run and greet you even though his legs won't take him any more.

I can't talk yet about the whole process of saying good bye. I'm going to leave this here and just say that every word has been typed with tears in my eyes.

Miss and love you, LouLou.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

I Am Old Enough to Have a Sixth Grader

I don't really get how it happened. One day, I was in my early 20's, riding high, having fun, being wild and crazy. And then the next, or so it seems, I was, well, aging, yet still riding high and having fun and being wild and crazy and yet also being a mom.

Somehow, I became the mom of a child in her last year of elementary school, on the precipice of entering middle school, which of course leads to high school and then to college. And I don't like it one bit.

My kid is aging me.

I'm thrilled with the young lady she is, and I love having a child who can dress herself and make breakfast for herself and arrange times to hang out with her friends by herself (instead of me having to be her social secretary and setting up the dreaded "play dates"). I love having some of my freedom back, as she develops her own freedom. All in all, a pretty good deal.

But, hello. I still feel like a 22 year old in my head (although my frown and laugh lines betray me far too often to say I *look* like a 22 year old). I cannot possibly be old enough to have a 6th grader, who is 11 going on 25. Who wore lipstick to school yesterday. Who needed the right necklace to match her dress. Who fussed over which shoes were perfect with the length of this particular hem. These are not the things that a child of a young woman such as myself would be considering!

True Jersey Kid, in the dress, jewelry, makeup, and flowers she selected for herself. She pretty much kicks all the ass.

Yet, here we are. I'm getting older and so is she.

I keep wanting to freeze her in time because she is so perfect...and I guess as much as those attempts fails, I fail to freeze myself in time, as well.

The good news: we are both growing into strong women, and I'm happy with how we each have grown. The bad news: I think she will be a grown up before I am ;)