Vacation

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Well, hello, peeps!

If you are reading this, it’s October 7th. And if I didn’t chicken out or freak out completely, I’ll be in London, England enjoying the first day of my vacation.

While you’re reading, I may be strolling along the Thames, trying to navigate the Tube, or spending all my money at Borough Market.

I’m hopeful that London holds plenty of writing inspiration for me, so although I’ll have my notebook handy to jot down my thoughts and experiences, I’m sure none of it will be blog-ready until a couple weeks later.

I’m writing this post to keep you in the loop while I’m MIA for a week or two, considering that when I return on October 13th, I’ll probably be too exhausted to walk let alone string together several coherent paragraphs.

That being said, I have a dozen or so ideas floating around in my head for what I want to write about when I return (London experiences aside). I’m also contemplating attending a one day writer’s conference that same week, but I’ll have to see how sane/exhausted I am when the date gets closer. Hopefully I’ll be posting regularly again by November.

So here’s hoping I have limited travel-related panic attacks and an abundance of London-infused inspiration!

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unexpected post

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I’m going out on a limb here and writing outside of my normal Sunday scheduled post.

In about 24 hours, I’m going to board a bus that will take me to New York City. From there, in my anxiety-riddled, sleep-deprived state, I will attempt to make my way to JFK Airiport and board a plane bound for London, England.

Most of my posts over the last few weeks and months have been about or mentioned this trip, and while I’m sure my readers are tired of hearing about it and all the simultaneous excitement and anxiety it’s caused, I’m fully aware that if I were someone who didn’t have anxiety, this trip would barely have been a blip on my radar until the last few days before departure.

That being said, I’ve been thinking a lot about big trips recently – not vacations, but trips that people take when they’re moving their whole lives across continents and oceans. When I think about the strength and courage it took for people who have made these moves, I’m overwhelmed.

Less than a hundred years ago, my great-grandfather came to the US from Czechoslovakia in his early twenties. He hardly had any money and didn’t have anyone here to greet him once he’d crossed the Atlantic. He couldn’t read reviews on TripAdvisor about where he’d be staying and he couldn’t Google Map the city he was bound for.

Yet he came anyway. Despite the potential dangers of boat travel, the threat of disease, the intimidating process of immigration and the possibility of discrimination, he came. Him and millions of other immigrants made what must have been a harrowing and at times terrifying journey across the sea to a place they had never seen before, and they did it on mostly blind faith. Without the convenience of information at their fingertips or the reassurance of swift communication via phone or email, they risked everything to fulfill their dreams and make a better life.

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While my one week vacation to London certainly isn’t as huge as all that, it is certainly a lifelong dream, and it’s definitely tested my strength and coping mechanisms when it comes to anxiety. But I’m trying to call on the valor of my ancestors by staring that fear in the face and going for it anyway. I’ve stalked our hotel on TripAdvisor, I’ve peppered my sister and friend about international travel and navigating NYC, and I’ve got a mental map of London in the back of my mind.

I don’t know how I’m going to get through this last day of work tomorrow with any sort of productive focus. I don’t know if I’ll sleep well on the bus or plane (or even at all). I don’t know how easy or difficult it’s going to be to get from the Manhattan bus station to JFK. I don’t know how our flight will go and I don’t even know if we’ll like the city of London at all.

But finding out will definitely be an adventure I look forward to sharing.

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A Writing/Mental Health Work Shop!

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Back on the 18th, I attended a workshop hosted by the founder of an amazing organization, Listen, Lucy. As someone with anxiety, I was excited at the prospect of an event centered on mental illness. And as a writer who blogs about anxiety and depression, I was absolutely thrilled to be in the company of a young woman who embodies everything I aspire to be. Jordan, the founder of Listen, Lucy, lives with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and has had great success over the last few years writing and speaking about mental illness. Since one of my goals as a writer is to help others with anxiety by telling my story, I had high hopes that the workshop would give me some inspiration and make me feel at home. And I am happy to say that the two hour event definitely surpassed my expectations!

Ironically enough, getting to the workshop spurred a bit of anxiety for me. I’ve talked a bit before about how I get panic attacks while driving, especially if I’m going somewhere unfamiliar. So while I knew the general direction  I was headed in, I was still kinda of shaky as I kept one eye on my GPS and one eye on the unfamiliar roads of the Oakland neighborhood of my hometown. Luckily I arrived with plenty of time to spare and gave myself a pat on the back for not totally freaking out even when I missed one of my turns.

As soon as I entered the quirky old building hosting the workshop, I felt at home. Jordan introduced herself with a bright, welcoming smile, and me and a dozen or so other women gathered around in a circle of mismatched chairs and a big, old faded couch with our workbooks and pens. We spent the next two hours doing simple exercises to work through and write about our insecurities and anxieties, and took turns sharing experiences, hopes, and fears with total strangers.

Although I had never met any of these women before, I instantly felt at ease with them. I knew I could trust them, and it felt incredible to be surrounded by women who didn’t need any explanation of what I go through with my anxiety. Any time someone was speaking, there were at least half a dozen heads bobbing up and down and giving knowing looks in agreement with the speaker’s experience. This empathy would have been enough for me, but the icing on the cake was when I expressed my fears and anxieties over my writing and my upcoming trip to London.

There were at least four other attendants who wasted no time in telling me that I COULD be brave and WOULD be brave when I ride that bus to NYC, navigate the city, board a plane, and travel across the Atlantic Ocean. They shared their experiences of international travel, which made me incredibly grateful to know that I was not alone in my fears.
When I expressed my simultaneous pride and frustration with my writing, three of the girls again told me how BRAVE I was being and how normal it was to feel what I was feeling. They didn’t hesitate to tell me they knew what it was like dealing with rejection and self-doubt, and seconds later they assured me beyond the shadow of a doubt that I WOULD have success.

The workshop ended far too soon (I could have stayed up all night telling these people my deepest hopes and fears), but I had a chance to chat quickly with Jordan before I left. We spoke briefly about the mutual friend who had linked us up, then I asked her for any resources she could offer on writing in Pittsburgh. She immediately told me I was in a good starting place and gave me the name of her editor (and workshop attendee), who I would soon find out was a force of nature in the writing world. I walked away feeling lighter than I had in months and full of new inspiration.

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Good thing, too, because my trusty old GPS decided to take me home via one of the not-so-great Pittsburgh neighborhoods and I was totally lost in the dark ghetto for a bit before I saw the bright shining lights of one of our city’s many familiar hospitals. Once I was on the right track again, I congratulated myself out loud for not totally losing my mind while driving and thanked Baby Jesus for keeping me safe and calm.

When  I got home around 9:15, I was starving. My husband was already asleep (he gets up at 4am for work), but I was so pumped and feeling so confident I felt like singing. Instead, I fixed myself a giant bowl of ice cream and ate it standing up at my kitchen counter giving zero fucks about the unhealthy behavior. While I devoured my cold, sweet snack, I signed up for the Listen, Lucy newsletter and sought out her editor on social media. Eventually I went to bed, making sure to add some choice essential oils to my diffuser and snuggling up with a full belly.

The next morning, my dog woke me up at 4:30am to go outside. After Comet did his business, I couldn’t fall back asleep. My alarm wasn’t set to go off until 5:50, but I was wide awake. The unusual thing, though, was the fact that in that moment, my mind was completely, totally, and blissfully blank for the first time in months. I simply laid there enjoying the rare quiet of my mind, feeling the cool sheets and squishy pillow beneath my body, listening to the occasional car drive down the street and my dog mumbling in his sleep, and smiling as the Sara Bareille’s song Brave played faintly in the far reaches of my brain.

Anybody with anxiety knows just how rare and glorious moments like these are — just to be at peace, even for a few minutes. To not even be silently chanting a calming mantra to myself (“I am safe, I am calm”) is a rare occurrence indeed.

I like to think that my time at the Listen, Lucy workshop helped me unload the baggage of my mind and heart. I quite literally felt like I had deposited several heavy packages in that building in Oakland and could now move forward unrestrained and more empowered.

I’m sure that my anxiety will creep in again over the next few weeks before I leave for London and look for new writing opportunities. But thanks to the friendly support and votes of confidence from the Listen, Lucy workshop, I’m hopeful I can tackle these next big challenges with a little more grace and confidence.

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Why Even Bother?

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Recently I was discussing my upcoming trip to London with my coworkers. While I assured them that I was excited, I spent the majority of the conversation trying to explain to them how anxious I was about all the actual travel involved. After my detailed monologue, one girl looked at me and asked, “If traveling gives you such bad anxiety, why even bother?”

We were interrupted by, well, work at that point, and it was a good thing, too. As if the perplexed look on my coworker’s face weren’t enough, her words felt like a slap upside the head. I was shocked, angry, and a yes, a little hurt at her audacity.

Over the next few minutes, I thought about how to answer her question without further verifying her obvious suspicion that I was, in fact, psycho.

As we were finishing up for the day, I took a minute to answer my coworker’s question in the most compact way possible — I told her that if I avoided doing all the things that gave me anxiety, I’d be a hermit living in my parents’ basement.

At first I thought that maybe my response was a bit of an exaggeration. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how true it was.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had heightened fears about, well, everything. I was an overly cautious child with an overactive imagination that made me cling to my mother’s side all the time. For years, everyone thought I was just dramatic, overly sensitive, or a big scaredy cat. It wasn’t until I was sixteen or seventeen that anyone realized I was dealing with anxiety. As I slowly transitioned from child to adult during my teenage years, every milestone I encountered was wrought with crippling fear and agonizing self doubt.

For example, when I was a fourteen-year-old freshman starting marching band, I told my parents I wanted to quit after only a few days of camp. I insisted I hated all parts of it — the intimidating music and drills, the mean upperclassmen, sweating like a pig everyday, and plain old hard work. While I claimed that my hatred for band was because of the things listed above, the unfamiliarity was only part of the problem. The bigger problem was the excessive fear of not being good enough — of failing, of trying to fit in with hundreds of people I didn’t know and perform with them in front of thousands of people I didn’t know.

Thankfully my parents held their ground and told me that I could only quit if I tried it for a full year and still hated it. And what had started out as a daunting, anxiety-induced activity turned into four years of amazing memories and self-discovery. This was probably the first time in my life I pushed through my anxiety and was rewarded with an incredibly positive experience.

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Since then, I’ve been forced to face my anxiety head on every single time I took a step forward in life —

  • Learning to drive was absolutely terrifying for me. Most lessons ended up with me in tears and I was 18 before I got my license.
  • I almost didn’t go to my senior prom because the guy I was casually dating had a super over protective mother who didn’t want us going together. I was terrified of asking her permission but I did it anyway — and she said yes! Now I have sweet memories of that night.
  • When I got my first part time job after high school, I cried almost every day before my shift for several weeks because I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to handle some aspect of the position.
  • When I started working full time at age twenty-two, I spent a week being sick to my stomach and having headaches because I kept thinking that I’d fail at that too.
  • It took me between five and ten years to work up enough nerve to get a tattoo – something I’d wanted since I was about sixteen. Now I have three and I love them!
  • After a somewhat traumatizing breakup as a teenager, I was terrified of dating anyone ever again. But luckily I agreed to a blind date back in 2008 — with the guy who became my husband.
  • In 2012, I took a bus from Pittsburgh to NYC on my own to visit my sister who was going to school at NYU. I was petrified. I had never traveled anywhere alone before and haven’t since. It turned out to be a pretty cool trip!
  • At around age twenty, I developed a serious fear of sharks, even though I love the ocean. Last year, I got into the water at the Outer Banks and swam out as deep as my shoulders so I could enjoy the waves for the first time in years.
  • The above mentioned trip almost didn’t happen because Hurricane Irma almost hit the Outer Banks the week of our vacation. I almost backed out at the last minute because I was terrified of getting stranded in dangerous weather. I’m so glad I didn’t listen to my fears because we had a great time – and the weather wasn’t bad either!
  • I braved allergy testing so I could get my frequent sinus infections and bronchitis under control. And even though I was terrified that the pain would be unbearable (thank you, internet), it was less painful than getting my damn ears pierced. Now I have my symptoms under control.
  • Buying our house seemed like an impossible task that made me nauseous. Moving in and being in the new place by myself almost all the time while my husband worked second shift was downright terrifying. I used to come home from work and sob because the thought of making dinner, taking care of the house, the dog, and everything else alone was so overwhelming.
  • When I had my first cavity last spring, I barely slept or ate for 24 hours because I was so worried about having the tooth extracted. Going through that experience kind of cured me of my fear of the dentist and now I get regular cleanings without the help of Xanax.

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These are just a few of the examples of ways I’ve pushed through my anxiety over the years. While many of the seem stupid now, at the time, the fear was absolutely one hundred percent real.

Just like now — I am absolutely terrified of going to London. I’m afraid our bus from Pittsburgh to New York will break down, get lost, or get in an accident. I’m afraid we’ll get left at a rest stop. I’m afraid we’ll end up at La Guardia instead of JFK. I’m terrified we’ll miss our flight or something awful will happen while we’re in the air. I’m worried that our hotel reservations will be wrong. I’m worried about going through customs, about using the tube, getting lost, terrorist attacks, getting mugged — I could go on and on.

And for someone who doesn’t understand anxiety, I could see how they might wonder why in the world I’m even going to London. But the answer is because it’s been a lifelong dream of mine. The desire to stroll along the Thames, visit Elizabeth the I’s tomb, and set foot on another continent outweighs the fears I associate with a seven hour bus trip and an eight hour flight over the Atlantic. Yes, sometimes the fear is all encompassing. Sometimes it is downright paralyzing. Yes, I’ve thought about backing out. But the only thing worse than everything I’m afraid of is living with the regret of not going at all.

The past two years have been all about conquering my fears and overcoming my anxiety. I’ve made a lot of progress, but I still have a lot of work to do. I still can’t drive on the highway, the thought of having children makes me want to become a nun, and I still don’t think I’ll ever do something totally crazy like go skydiving. But if I can push through my fear enough to do things like submit my writing to strangers and travel across an ocean, I’d like to think that I’m leaps and bounds from where I used to be.

And so what if not everyone sees it? I do. And that’s the most important part.

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An Assembly of Random Thoughts

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Hello, WordPressers!

September is going to be a crazy busy month for me. As I write this, it’s Labor Day weekend. But by the time this blog post goes public, the month will be half over. To me, the only thing crazier than this is the fact that although my entire summer has been insanely busy (and expensive), I feel like I haven’t actually done anything big and exciting.

Of course, back in May, I attended my first writer’s conference, and in July we had a surprise 60th birthday party for my dad. My husband and I took the kayaks for a spin a few times, I attended a company picnic at a local amusement park, and also went to an awesome bridal shower where I won three prizes!

September will include a wedding, a writer’s workshop, an alumni event for former band nerds like myself, mine and J’s 5th wedding anniversary, an Ed Sheeran concert, and a photo shoot where the goal is to update my writer headshots and try not to end up looking like Mama June like I do on my driver’s license picture.

Anyway. All of this is leading up to something I’ve been looking forward to since January, and that is mine and J’s trip to London. I’m SO excited – but also nervous beyond words.

In preparation for all of these events, I have to admit that I’ve let my “big” writing projects kind of get pushed to the back burner. I did manage to submit five shorter pieces to various contests or open calls this summer, and found a couple of beta readers for my novel The Month of May, but I found that my attention span with writing has suffered.

Although I’ve made notes and have ideas about how to tackle the rewrite of my novel, the thought of actually doing it is way more overwhelming than I thought it would be, and I simply don’t know where to start.

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I’ve also started a list of half a dozen serious or frustrating topics that I want to blog about, but I’ve been lacking the energy or focus to give them the attention and research they deserve.

So for now, here are just a few things I’ve jotted down over the last few weeks that I hope to expand on in the upcoming months …

  • What it is going to take for men to start really listening to women? How many articles do we have to write, how many tears do we have to cry, how many hysterical demands do we have to make before they just . . . listen?
    For example, there’s this commercial on the radio for a mechanic’s shop that goes like this:
    Woman: “Honey, why is my oil light on?”
    Man: “What am I, a mechanic?”
    Announcer: “Car trouble? Come to Acme blah blah car pros …”
    Excuse me? The guy’s pissed because his woman asks him to take a look at the car? Do women ever ask if they’re cooks? Maids? Nurses? Chauffeurs? Secretaries? This needs explored on so many levels.
  • I recently starting watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Netflix, and I am SO glad I did. Not only is the show hilarious, but its impressive and sidesplitting musical numbers speak to the theater geek inside me. Somehow Rachel Bloom has managed to create a show about the arts, mental health, relationships, feminism, inclusion, body positivity, and mental health all wrapped into one “certifiable cute” package.
  • I really want to start writing about snippets of “the good old days.” (Yes, inspired by the Macklemore/Keisha collaboration). These include my days as a band geek in high school and those “wild” crazy nights in my early twenties that involve a friend’s cabin on the lake, skinny dipping, crushes on unsuitable men, and plenty of alcohol.
  • Not gonna lie – I had all kinds of “feels” when John McCain passed away and when Presidents Bush and Obama eulogized him at his funeral. I’m obviously a very liberal person, so although McCain’s politics didn’t line up with my own, his defense of Obama’s background during the 2008 campaign and historic vote against repealing the ACA really made me admire him as a person. Seeing people from different political and social backgrounds come together to honor and celebrate such a man just goes to show us that yes, two different parties CAN actually work together in a civil and productive way. These are the inspiring stories that give me hope for this country in such a dark and tumultuous time.
  • As thrilled as I am to be going to London and fulfilling a lifelong dream in the process, I am really sad that I won’t be getting to the beach this year, namely the Outer Banks. I still find myself craving the sea spray, the soft sand, the crashing, blue green waves. I want to hear OBX flags flapping in the strong winds of Kitty Hawk, drink rum in the distillery in Manteo, climb to the top of the Hatteras Lighthouse, and walk around Ocracoke feeling like I’m living in a dream. Fingers crossed so tightly we can do it next year.

Let me know if any of these subjects pique your interest! I hope to be expanding on many of them during the dark and dreary days of Pittsburgh winter that are just around the corner.

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Side Effects of Loving Yourself

“You have to love yourself before others will love you.”

People have been telling me this for most of my life – in middle school when I wanted the cute guy from the bus stop to notice me, in high school when I wanted my crush to choose me over my best friend, and in my early twenties when NO ONE would so much as glance at me on the rare occasion I went to a club or bar.

It wasn’t just love that had me down, though. I was overlooked for so many things in my life that it just became routine for me to blend into the curtains. I was never presented with any awards for outstanding academics or music or sports (HAHA – sports! I was the kid who accidentally on purpose wore dress shoes to school on gym days so I didn’t have to participate). I was never considered for Homecoming Queen or even a member of her court. I was never named employee of the month and could never even seem to win a game of Life or Monopoly.

This lack of fortune, star power, or whatever you want to call it may have been due to several contributing factors, but by the time I was thirteen or so, I was convinced something was wrong with me – my appearance, my mind, my emotions – EVERYTHING. And anytime I got passed over for a date, an award, or any type of recognition, it damaged my self-esteem even further.

I started getting really down on myself on a regular basis, and when my parents, friends, and relatives noticed, they’d tell me that no one was going to appreciate me until I appreciated or loved myself.

Well. Easy for them to say. I hadn’t come into this world disliking myself. I thought I was just fine and dandy until people started treating me like crap because I sucked at kickball and didn’t wear $90 jeans.

Anyway.

I’ve spent the last thirty or so years learning to love myself, and am happy to report that over the last year or two, with the help of EMDR, I’m finally getting there.

But weirdly enough, loving myself has come with some unexpected challenges of its own.

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The thing about coming to accept and love myself is that I’ve become very bold and outspoken. While my pen may have always been mightier than my sword, I’m now finding that not only can I give someone a tongue-thrashing via email or Facebook, but I can also do it in person. I don’t mean that I walk around degrading the woman in the grocery store for wearing a black thong that’s TOTALLY visible through her sheer pale pink cotton skirt, but I no longer shy away when people challenge my opinions or try walking all over me.

But I’ve found that the people who used to tell me stand up for myself or stop allowing others to walk all over me are the same people giving me the most pushback. When I assert myself, whether it be at home, at work, or online, they raise their eyebrows, mutter “who does she think she is,” and look at me like I’ve just declared myself Queen of England.

And, well, here’s the thing – I am the Queen. Of me. It’s taken me more than thirty years to realize this – that I am actually in charge of my own life. I get to choose how I want to live, who I want to hang out with, who I’m not going to take crap from, how I can try to change a bad situation, and how to react more positively to a situation I have no control over. While I’m still struggling a lot with that last notion (I still feel the need to save the world!), I’ve suddenly become so personally empowered that it’s actually becoming a bit overwhelming.

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Let me explain.

In the past, if I was invited to a birthday party, a wedding, and baby shower, and a writers’ conference all on the same day, I would somehow attempt to make it to every single event so I could please every single person – except myself. If keeping friends and family happy meant oogling at baby toys and breast bumps, then rushing to a wedding for a distant cousin I’d met twice, then leaving early to do shots with some friends to celebrate someone’s thirtieth — and missing the writers’ conference in the process, I’d do it. I was so desperate to maintain relationships and satisfy others that my wants and needs came absolutely last on the totem pole.
But now that I’ve restructured my life and thought process to make myself a priority, sometimes I find myself going to extremes.

For example, there are days when I physically have to restrain myself from getting up from my desk at work and letting a co-worker, customer, or my boss know EXACTLY what I think. Note: not all of these things are productive. Or particularly kind.

I’ve also realized that I’ve been neglecting some important people in my life, in particular my parents. I’m embarrassed to admit that even though my mom and dad live, like, half a mile away from me, I hardly ever pop in to see them or give them a call. It’s nothing personal, and I’m not doing it on purpose, but this is the first time in my life where I’m putting myself first, and I’m still working out the kinks that come along with that.

A few blog posts ago, I wrote about balance. And while I still believe I’m doing better at achieving it, I know I still have some work to do. Just because I go swimming on a regular basis now doesn’t mean my dog doesn’t need walked. And just because I’ve vowed to dedicate 30-90 minutes a night to writing doesn’t mean my husband doesn’t need attention or affection.

But after thirty years of sacrificing my wants and needs for everyone and anyone else, learning how to navigate a world where I am my own priority is a good problem to have.

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Meet the Family!

Well, how rude of me!

I’ve been blogging for almost a year and I haven’t introduced you to my children.

Okay. So I don’t have any human children (yet?). But I DO have an adorable doggo Comet and a fascinating gecko named Littlefoot (yes, as in The Land Before Time).

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Comet is a special pup, mainly because he’s one of the reasons J and I met. To make a long story short, when J was still dating his ex, she kept saying how much she wanted a dog. So one day shortly before Christmas 2007, he stopped by the local pound and saw Comet, a forlorn, raggedy looking one-year-old pooch lying in his cage looking like he was ready to die. J leaned over and said, “Hey, buddy, what’s up?” To which Comet replied with a pathetic whimper.

A few hours later, Comet was home with J, where he was anxiously awaiting the arrival of his girlfriend. Unfortunately, she was not pleased that J had adopted a dog without her approval, and things only got worse from there. Eventually she gave J the “it’s me or the dog” speech, and since J was tired of the dead-end relationship, he chose the dog and moved back in with his parents.

Three months later, J and I were set up on a blind date by mutual friends, and the rest is history. Although Comet didn’t take too kindly to me at first (I specifically remember him leaning against me while I sat on the bed or the couch in an effort to push me off the furniture), we are now totally in love. I think he was just being super protective of his daddy in those early days, which I have to admire.

Ten years later, Comet pretty much runs our house. He’s officially a “senior,” but certainly doesn’t act like it. He runs, jumps, plays, growls, barks, and eats like a freaking horse. We are ridiculously grateful that Commie is this rambunctious at eleven, especially since he had to have bladder surgery back in 2014. While his joints do occasionally give him troubles, he takes his pain meds like a champ … as long as they’re disguised in fruit snacks or marshmallows.

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Comet is one of those dogs that everyone loves. His unique appearance causes everyone to ask about his breed and personality (part spaniel, part retriever/INSANE but totally loveable), and I’ve actually had no less than 3 people stop their cars in the middle of the street while I’m walking him to inquire what kind of dog he is or simply to tell me he’s beautiful or adorable. Even one of J’s friends said one time, “I don’t like dogs, but if I had to have one, it’d be a dog like Comet.”
Our pooch is incredibly sweet, gentle, and smart. He loves going to the park, his squeaky yellow ball, chicken, and Dentabones. His dislikes include loud, sudden noises like the toaster “popping,” plastic bottles crunching, and plastic bags blowing in the breeze. Ironically, thunder and fireworks do not bother him in the slightest. Just another quirk that makes us love him so much more.

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Our gecko Littlefoot is another pet that J had before he and I met. By our best calculations, he’s about 12-13 years old, which is actually really impressive for a lizard of his type in captivity. Littlefoot is a crested gecko, and eats crickets and baby food like apricots, bananas, or apples. He’s nocturnal, and very territorial, as are most males of his species. In fact, he tried to eat one of his brothers way back when.

Littlefoot does subtly change colors from time to time – in the warmer months, he’s a darker greenish brown, and in the colder months, he’s tan or khaki colored. His eyes are huge and round in the dark and small and beady in the light, and he has a cup-shaped tongue that helps him find his food. And yes, he totally has “sticky feet” so he can climb on the sides of his terrarium and hang upside down from his plastic plants. (Technically, his feet aren’t actually “sticky.” Geckos have hundreds of tiny hairs on the bottoms of their feet that allow them to cling to surfaces).

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Our gecko isn’t very social, but on the rare occasion we take him out of his terrarium to clean it or show him off to curious guests, he’s pretty chill. (There was that one time he “bit” J, but geckos’ teeth are smooth and rounded so they can grind their food instead of tearing it, so all that the bite did was leave a teeny, tiny, semi-circle of redness on his hand. It was actually pretty adorable). Littlefoot likes to climb up and down peoples’ arms and hands, and usually attempts to make some gymnastic leap towards God only knows what. He’s also pretty low-maintenance, and his uniqueness has spurred many curious conversations.

So there’s everything you wanted to know (and probably way more) about my children. Tell me about your fur kids, feathered kids, and scaley ones too!

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