Sunday, August 22, 2010

a 21st century problem

Today, I did the unthinkable.  I forgot my cell phone at home!  Gasp!

You need to understand, I am of the age where I actually do remember when phones only had cords and in order to talk to a friend, you had to commit to that activity alone for the duration of your call. That is, unless you had known you were calling your best friend and pulled your laundry over to the phone area so you could fold and talk!

Now, I know I'm not the only person to realize the important role cell phones play in our lives on a day- to-day basis. I'm the first to admit that I have an unnatural relationship with my iPhone today.  My parents are, no doubt, nodding their heads and rolling their eyes as they read this.

I coveted my first cell phone, the Motorola Star-Tac Flip Phone (I am, most assuredly, dating myself) which was purchased for emergencies only.

It stayed in my car, turned off, because the battery life was about 3 minutes if left on, but I loved it.   I then, went through a phone progression that went with the times, with an interim of pager and cell phone so you didn't run your bill up too high.  My move to LA took my cell phone addiction to a new high.  It seems that those of us in LA had propelled to a level of cell phone use that bordered on rude.  (Again, do you hear my dad nodding?)  We all talked on the phone anywhere, anyhow, anytime.  It didn't help that we all had our own cars everywhere we went even though we were all going the same place -- very Swingers!

Recently, a little late to the game, I got my iPhone.  3G, no video capabilities, but awesome!  When I first got it, you would have thought Gollum from Lord of the Rings had taken over my body.  No one could touch it, hold it, look at it or, god forbid, play with it.  It was "my Precious".  I have since loosened up and let my 2-year old play apps that I've downloaded for him.  It seems that I have been served many cups of the Apple brand cool-aid.  I not only love my iPhone, but my husband would tell you that I'm having a sordid affair with my MacBook Pro, and I have spent the past several months trying to conjure up a logical need for the iPad.  (I'm almost there ;)  When I saw this clip, I laughed so hard because, unfortunately, I see myself in it.  If you're offended by swearing or don't know what an iPhone is, feel free to skip this:

But I digress... I really started this post to tell you about my "incident".  So, I headed out to my dad and step-mom's house yesterday to pick up my son who they had been babysitting for all day.  Love it!  It is about an 7 minute ride from my door to theirs, even in traffic.  As I got on the road, I realized that I had forgotten my precious iPhone.

As you can imagine, I struggled with the dilemma of possibly turning around to go get it, but that was silly... it would be safely in my hands in 20 minutes.  I couldn't possibly be that dependent on my iPhone.  I then continued on my journey to my Dad's feeling proud that I made the choice and telling myself, "See, I'm not that addicted, I can stop any time."

At about 1 minute in, I realized that I had gone to check my phone for new emails for a 5th time and still did not have it in my car.  I began to get a little irritated at my choice not to go back.  I was expecting some important email responses, not to mention a text from a colleague of mine.

At 3 minutes in, I turn up the radio to distract myself from the fact that all I'm able to do in the car at a stoplight is wait and drive when it's green.

At 5 minutes, a panic attack sets in because I realize that I can't call my husband to let him know that I forgot my phone at home and think he may not be able to reach in an emergency.... Speaking of emergencies, what if my step-mom is trying to get to me because Tommy has fallen down the stairs and they need to go to the ER right this minute...

At minute 6, I have completely spun out of mind control because I begin to think... what if I were to get into an accident and the injuries were such that I wasn't conscious and they need to figure out who to call after the ambulance, but I don't have any phone numbers in my purse, they're all in my phone so no one knows where I am for several hours...

Minute 7 hits and I'm approaching my Dad's street and I think... see!  that wasn't so bad.  I actually had some time in the car with nothing to do but think and decompress.  This was kind of nice not having my phone with me.  I certainly came up with a blog post.  I should try this more often!

...and then I had the ride home...

Friday, August 13, 2010

We say goodbye to a furry family member.

Denver (Big D) Stewart

Saying Goodbye
Friday, August 6, 2010, my family and I said good-bye to a very special, furry family member, Denver, our Golden Retriever.  She was 10 and a half.

Learning to write about things really close to you heart is hard, I'm finding.  It seems that the most personal of experiences are the hardest to do justice.  I have so much going on emotionally in my head and my heart that getting it on paper seems stuttered and detached.  From all my acting years, I know that when you use the most personal things from your life to fuel a character and a scene, the more truthful a performance will be.  Translating that skill to my writing is proving to be a challenge.  I think it has to do with the fact that in acting, I used my whole body to communicate emotion, in writing it's all words.  It feels like I'm spending so much time in my head when I'm trying to pull information from my heart.

However, I had a very special life with Denver and her passing shouldn't go untold, so here goes...

in 2001, Denver came into my life like a bullet.  I heard from my dog training teacher and mentor that someone from his class was looking to give up their Golden Retriever and would I be interested?  Now, I wasn't quite ready - I lived in an apartment that didn't allow dogs - and I wasn't just going to take any dog that needed a home.  It needed to be the right dog.  I said I would meet her, but couldn't make any promises.

The day they came to class, she came barreling up to me and, with the risk of sounding a little like a crazy dog person, I will say I knew that she was The One.  We didn't have a make out session or plan to marry, but I knew that she was not only the right dog for me, she was the perfect dog.  She then spent her lifetime proving that fact over and over until the minute she died last Friday.

Denver did a multitude of things over the past decade that made my life better:

1.  She gave me someone to come home to and be responsible for.  Living single in LA with nothing to ground you can be a challenge - it's not all Entourage and 90210 - you can lose yourself easily.  So, with her in my life I was slowly becoming a better person who was beginning to grow and thrive again.

2.  She was a partner in crime for all things dog appropriate and that was a lot in LA.  We did brunch, hiking, agility class, and time at the park.

3.  She taught me to be a better dog trainer.  My mentor was leading me, but she was who I went home with to try out all that I was learning.  She let me make mistakes and not have it ruin her.  She communicated when my frustration was too much, not by acting out, but by walking away from me to let me cool down.

4.  She helped me prepare to be a parent.  She showed me that impatience actually hinders the learning process and does harm to relationships.  Her reaction to my emotions informed me on how they could hurt those in my home.  At the same time, she never carried that lesson into the next moment.

5.  She weathered so many tears and provided a body to hold on to when my sadness was too much for me to take alone.

6.  She loved my son in his first two years in the best way I could have asked.  ...and anyone whose had kids for the first two years knows it's not the golden years for kids and dogs.

Her last week was shocking to us in that she hadn't really shown any signs until the day she turned down food.  I knew there was something deeply wrong because she had never --- I mean never --- turned down food before.  From that day, things went south very quickly.  In fact, the vets didn't get a definitive diagnosis of liver cancer until 24 hours before she left us on her own terms.

After I got the diagnosis, there was some hope that she would rally with the help of some steroids for a little while, but the next morning, it was clear to both my husband and myself that there would be no last trip to the beach for us to catalog in our memories.  We called the vet to tell him it was time, and he cleared the end of his day for a goodbye at my home.  Five minutes before we were expecting him, Denver took her last breath in my lap.  It was yet another gift that she has given me.

We will miss her.  We do miss her.  Like crazy.  There's a hole in our home that won't ever be filled for sure.  ....but I do subscribe to the idea (as a friend of mine wrote to me) that "with and in her death, there will be new life and growth," and I look forward to see what comes next.  I only hope it does justice to the memory of my golden girl.