riding bitch

The life of a writer and survivor of loss.


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Being Alone vs Being Lonely

Last time I posted about loneliness and made some suggestions on how to overcome it. I neglected to mention that just because someone is alone doesn’t mean they’re lonely.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of Kaz, that I don’t miss him and wish he were here. But even when he was alive, I used to like being alone. Back then I called it “needing my space.”

One of the more difficult aspects of moving in together was that I couldn’t have my space. His apartment (like mine) was a one-bedroom, and the bedroom wasn’t big enough for a desk. So, I wrote in the living room – with headphones on to drown out the sound of the television and his video games. After a while, he started wearing headphones too, so he could play his video games at full volume. It wasn’t ideal, but we made it work.

After he died, it wasn’t totally foreign to be alone, but it was strange and very painful. Excruciating at times. I felt him with me spiritually, but that did little to lessen the void created by his physical absence. It took a long time for the pain to subside and stabilize.

After 3.5 years, I’ve grown accustomed to being alone again. I still have moments of “why isn’t Kaz here?” but being alone has become normal.

And now that I live “in the sticks,” as someone recently teased, I’m more alone than ever, in the sense that I don’t see lots of people.

But I’m not lonely. Well, sometimes I am. But for the most part, I’m not.

I think this is because I’m writing all the time. I’m extremely focused on my work, and I like that there are little to no distractions (other than the dog).

Besides my work (which I enjoy), I get enjoyment from sources other than people… things like books, movies, cooking and being outside. I’m even enjoying winter (so far). It’s a bit like being in hibernation. There’s a certain relief in not going out a lot.

When I go into the city, it’s a different matter. That’s when I get my people “fix.” But I love returning upstate to my little sanctuary.

It’s hard to explain, but I have no complaints right now. I  don’t have much money, but I’m not stressed about it for some reason. I’ve gained a little weight here, but I’ll lose it eventually. I still cry about things, but I’m not depressed. And after I cry, I’m okay. I don’t go to bed sad, which is very different than before.

I’m more grounded and secure than I used to be, more self-sufficient and content. I need less of others, and less of the material world.

In a way, it’s like I’m learning to be happy again… happy with a very simple life. It might not always be this simple, but perhaps I can carry the simplicity within me.

As I told a friend the other day, “If I can make it through this year of working my ass off, making little money, living in an isolated place, and surviving the winter… I’m pretty sure I can handle just about anything.”

Wishing everyone peace and light.

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Puppy Issues

Ruby at the cafe

Ruby at the cafe

My baby girl is 10 months old now. I can hardly believe it! Seems like just yesterday she was this little pip-squeak. Soon it will be her 1 year birthday (July 7) and I’m already thinking of what to do for her. Before then, however, I need to deal with some of her new behaviors.

Issue #1 – She barks at people.

I know dogs bark and don’t expect my dog to be mute. But I’ve noticed that she’s barking more often lately in inappropriate situations. The other night I took her to a friend’s party and she barked at other guests entering the host’s house. She also barked at a guest walking out of the bathroom because he startled her. Last night she barked at a neighbor who wanted to take the elevator with us, then at a homeless man walking behind us on our evening walk (he wasn’t doing anything suspicious).

I always tell her “No” or “It’s okay, sshh,” then I tell the person, “She’s actually really friendly,” and they look at me like I’m nuts. Folks are already scared of her because she’s a pitbull. When she’s barking at them with the hair raised all along her back it’s hard to see the friendly side. To her credit, I’ve never seen her growl or bare her teeth at a person. Her barking doesn’t sound like “I’m going to kill you!” It sounds like “Stay away!”

What’s strange is that in other contexts, for instance when I take her to the cafe in the morning, she sits there like a little lady. She does the same thing at street lights or whenever I tell her to Sit. She also never barks at other dogs even if they’re barking at her. People are always saying how well-behaved and sweet she is.

I go out of my way to be friendly to people on our walks. In fact, I’m probably much more outgoing with her than without her because I know she picks up on my tone. Yet in certain situations, even when I’m being friendly, she starts barking at the person.

Is part of the issue that we live alone? She doesn’t get to interact with other people like she does with me. She’s also extremely attached to me and still follows me from room to room. My gut tells me it’s a combination of protectiveness, testing her assertiveness, shyness and/or a general wariness of strangers, especially men. But how does a puppy learn who is a creep and who isn’t? I suppose I have to bring her around people more, which means being less of a hermit (sigh).

Issue #2 – She has bursts of uncontrollable energy while on the leash.

For the most part, she walks/heels very well. She will walk right beside me without pulling for 75% of the average walk. She gets compliments on this too because people can’t believe a dog that young can walk that well.

However, if she sees a squirrel, bird, stick, small dog or any other interesting creature, all bets are off. She will either lurch forward with all her strength or jump in the air and twist her body around with excitement. If I don’t anticipate it, she could yank my arm out. When she does this around small dogs, albeit because she wants to play with them, it totally freaks them out – and who can blame them?! I haven’t been too strict about it because I figure she’s a puppy, that’s what puppies do. But as a friend recently pointed out, if I don’t curb it now soon she’ll be full-grown and going berzerk. Then what?

We’ve slacked off from puppy class the last few weeks, but this Saturday we’re going back to discuss these issues with her teacher.

Has your dog ever had these issues? If so, how did you deal with it?


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Packing for Paranoia-ville

I’ve been feeling a little paranoid lately. It started last week when I discovered that the posts I’ve “publicized” on Twitter were apparently hijacked by a porn site for the “kinkiest widows.”

I actually received the following direct message from a colleague on Twitter: “What in the world could you be doing inside these videos?”  When I clicked on the attached link it took me to Facebook but asked for my Twitter email and password. I closed the window and emailed the colleague, “What videos? I can’t open the link.” Then I got a message saying I couldn’t email her because she’s not “following” me on Twitter.

The Twitter/porn site/Facebook thing couldn’t be resolved right away because on Tuesday I had fired the apartment’s internet provider – EarthLink – after the umpteenth customer service call to fix a service that never worked to begin with. (EarthLink is another remnant of my late husband’s set-up. All the utility bills are still in his name.)

On Wednesday, the new internet provider – Time Warner – sent Jose the serviceman for the installation. But Jose said the wires he needed had been cut and my Landlord would have to be contacted because construction was necessary to reconnect them. “But my landlord never answers his phone,” I said. Jose shrugged and took his number anyway.

Two hours after that my neighbor Marco knocked on my door and told me that he’s moving to the apartment underneath mine, but he’s not telling the Landlord so if any problems arise, could I keep it “between us?”

“Why would there be a problem?” I asked. Justin explained that he “produces music” until late and though he soundproofs the walls, the bass sometimes bleeds through. “When do you usually get home?” he asked. “So I know when to be quiet.” “I’m in and out,” I replied hastily, then agreed to keep his illegal sublet on the down low, said goodbye and closed the door.

K never totally trusted Marco, who has three kids by three different women and, as far as we could tell, no job.  Now he’s going to be living underneath me playing loud music and having parties till all hours. If he wanted to rob me, all he would need is a ladder from his patio to mine.

Later in the afternoon, a friend of K’s from way back named Andy called me. We recently connected on Facebook after he tracked me down. K never mentioned him before but Andy has left nice messages on his memorial page.  

Andy and I chatted for a while, mostly reminiscing about K, until he announced that he had to leave for an AA meeting. “Can I call you after that?” he asked. “It’s important that we talk.” “Sure,” I said, curious what could be so important.

A few hours later, he called me back saying he was at the hospital “getting a psychiatric evaluation” because he thinks the government is plotting against him and monitoring him through AA. “Well, I hope it all works out,” I said. The line went dead.

These are the moments when I really miss my husband and hate being a widow. The moments when everyone seems crazy and I don’t know who I can trust.

K was so grounded, such a good judge of character. He was street-wise and tough, but also diplomatic enough to diffuse situations without escalation. When I try to be tough, I just comes across as bitchy.

People talk about living without fear and so on. I try but it’s like I always have a bag packed for Paranoia-ville. Sometimes, it’s really challenging not to go there.