April 21, 2008
Falling Out of Bed
When the house shakes at 3:00 in the morning my first thought, since I don’t live anywhere near a fault line, is “thunderstorm” or, since I live in redneck central, “the neighbors are shooting skeet in their backyard again.” I don’t believe I’ve ever thought to myself “Oh, dear. The dog has fallen out of bed.” And yet….
Sigh. And yet…it happened. The King of Our Beasts, the one hundred pounder, appropriately named Apollo, tumbled from our king sized bed, onto the floor. The house shook violently for a moment. When the aftershocks subsided, my husband sat up and said, “Did you hear something?”
Apollo was ok, too tired to do much of anything except moan a little at the disturbance before rolling over exactly where he landed and falling asleep.
“The dog fell,” I said. “And now he’s gone to sleep again.” I was leaning over the bed and looking at the great mound of black muscle spread eagled, feet up in the air, tongue hanging out the side of his mouth…snoring.
My husband smiled a little and lay down. “That is so him.”
And it is. It is so Apollo to fall out of bed in the middle of the night. But it is even more him to shrug off the interruption in his routine and make the best of the situation. If he can’t sleep in the bed, he’ll sleep on the floor…happily.
So what about me, the writer? If I can’t be a best seller, am I content for mid-list? If I can’t be mid-list, am I content with the simple honor of being published? If Arctic Wolf hadn’t signed me, would I have had the courage to self-publish?
Occasionally, I get frustrated. I feel like a failure. I want success; but in this new, unexplored territory, I don’t know how to measure it.
Today I find myself wondering how my dog measures it…I think success to him is having someplace where he can stretch out. And he stretches out no matter where he is. He is happy no matter what…even if he has fallen out of bed. The old saying, “Bloom where you are planted,” is his bumper sticker.
And so I sigh again today. It is humbling to take a lesson from a dog…especially one with no grace…and a tongue the size of Delaware. But as I look into those big, vacant, brown eyes, I can’t help but think that this creature is a good influence on me. But don’t tell anyone I said so.
April 15, 2008
Rolling in Dead Things
My dog got off his lead this morning. When he finally decided to stop running around and return home, he was wearing a lei comprised of grass, something resembling a dead rodent, and feces from an unknown species. Fortunately, it was all coagulated in his choke collar, so I removed that and tied him to a tree to hose him off.
What is it, I wondered, gagging on the smell, that entices dogs to roll in dead things? Growing up, I had a dog that tried to roll in the rancid grass clippings swarming with flies in the back alleyway. Another dog’s poop…she loved it. Dead possum? Oh boy!! She was a small dog and easy to manage on-lead, so we avoided much of the fur sticking goo she was desperate to coat herself in.
Nowadays, I have three dogs. And they’re quite large. Upon encountering a dead squirrel or flattened snake on the road, any of the three will drop a front leg and put rub a shoulder in it, trying to coat themselves with the stench.
No wonder cat lovers ridicule those of us with dogs. No wonder some people choose to keep their animals outdoors. I can’t do that. My dogs…all three of them…are my constant companions. I couldn’t make it through a day without them.
So before I pass judgment on my smelly friends, I guess I’ll take a look at myself. Some might look at me and wonder why I choose the write the things I write. Why would I opt to write about murder, about crime, about adultery? These aren’t things one would choose to discuss in polite society. These aren’t things we normally encounter except on daytime TV, primetime crime dramas, or on the news. Yet I delve into these topics with relish, thinking up new ways to torture, kill, poison, or maim someone. It’s my own method of “rolling in dead things,” if you will….except no one ties me to a tree and hoses me off when I’m done.
My dog is fresh and clean now. He’s inside, resting on his cushion and hating me for taking away his smelly necklace. And me…I’m fixing to roll in my own dead things today.