a maude update

(First, a job update. I continue to apply for jobs and go on interviews, and in my spare time I’m working on starting my own business. No details for now in case it doesn’t pan out, but I figure one of three things will happen first:

  1. I will get a full-time job.
  2. My business will become profitable and support me.
  3. I will go broke, get evicted and live on the mean streets of Austin.)

this blanket came from a bluishorange reader a long time ago

So Maude isn’t doing very well. Her arthritis and kidney failure have combined forces to render her back legs tricky and unreliable. One minute she’ll be standing up, the next she’ll have sort of rolled over into a sitting/laying down position. She has trouble going up our front steps after we’ve taken her outside. We built a little ramp for her to use, and she uses it when she remembers it’s there, but otherwise she does this sort of clumsy scramble up each step. Sometimes when she drinks water, she falls into the bowl a little and gets water on her face.

I can’t imagine any of this is much fun for her, but for me to watch it is terrifying. I’m reminded of a time several years ago when I was holding her in my lap on the sofa. I was scratching her ears and I felt something fall and hit me in the arm. I picked it up and saw that it was one of her teeth. I was horrified, and of course I freaked out. “OH MY GOD, MAUDE, ARE YOU OKAY?” I cried. She wagged her tail and looked at me like, hey, when can we get back to you scratching my ears?

But that was 2005. Now it’s 2013 and she’s 13 years old, at least, and I don’t know how much time she has left. There is still tail wagging, thankfully. She gets excited about food and treats and going outside. She likes to explore the yard, albeit very, very slowly. She likes to sit next to me in bed and lick my forehead. She likes when I give her little pieces of vegetables I’m chopping. She can’t go on neighborhood walks anymore, but we put her in a little secondhand stroller and wheel her around, and she likes being out and about with us. Of course I don’t know this for absolutely sure, but she seems like she isn’t in any pain.


best $5 I ever spent at the Texas state surplus property store

But sometimes there is no tail wagging. Sometimes I put her down on the bed, and instead of moving around and getting comfortable like she usually does, she lets herself sort of fall down wherever I’ve placed her. Sometimes I tell her it’s time to go outside, and instead of standing up and moving towards the door, she just lies there and stares up at me.

The decision of when it’s time to let your dog go is one I’ve never made by myself before. We had to put our childhood dog to sleep when she was 11 and the vet discovered that she was positively riddled with cancer. My sister and my dad were driving to St. Louis to take my sis to college at the time, and since this was before cell phones, my mom and I couldn’t call to consult them. But that decision was an obvious one for my mom and me to make, and we did the right thing. The hard part was later that day, when we flew to St. Louis to meet my dad and sister, and we had to tell them that the dog they’d said “see you soon” to that morning was dead.

This decision is different. First of all, it’s mine and Brendan’s to make. We are not 20 years old, and there is no medically-trained mother here to tell us what she thinks we should do. We’re 34 and 35, and she’s our dog, and second of all there is no obvious, hard-line evidence telling us what to do. Some days I see her lying there listlessly and think, it’s time. Other days I get ready to give her treats and she jumps up and down on those tricky hind legs like she’s 4 years old again, and I think, how could I ever have thought it was time?

Maude is my best friend. I know she’s just a dog, and I know I have another dog, too, but that’s just how it is. No disrespect to her sister Moki, but Maude and I are close in a way I’ve never been with another dog, not even my childhood dog. Maude and I lived alone together for years, with no boyfriends or housemates or other dogs. Just us. For a while in my mid-twenties, Maude was the only reason I could think of to get out of bed. If I didn’t get out of bed, Maude wouldn’t be able to eat or go outside, and I loved Maude, so I got out of bed. I don’t know if I’d say she literally and definitively saved my life, as I was hardly suicidal at the time, but she definitely saved my living. I’d wake up in the middle of the night to feel Maude’s breath on my ear, her face buried in my hair, and think, I may not have much going for me, but how could I ever not do right by this dog?

Also, Maude is not just a dog. If you’ve ever met her, you know she’s got a certain gravitas about her, a seriousness that to me indicates a bit of depth. I’m sure I’m projecting some of that onto her, but not all of it. My friend Sarah says that Maude has the je ne sais quoi, and I think that’s the best way to describe it.

I have plans for what to do with her after she’s gone. I’m going to have her cremated by herself. It’s a more expensive option than having her cremated with other dogs, and before I researched this I didn’t know they even did that. I guess they have that option for people who don’t want the ashes back. But I want her ashes back. I’m going to save most of them in an urn, and put a little bit in a brass screw-top canister that I will hang on a chain along with the tag from her collar. I don’t know if it’s something I’ll wear around my neck forever, but I’ll definitely need it for a little while.

I wish that deciding when it’s time to let her go was as easy as deciding what to do after. Obviously if she seems like she’s in pain or she takes a definitive turn for the worse, it’ll be a less difficult decision, but right now I’m really struggling. The thing I’ve heard people say the most is that they’ve regretted waiting until it was too late, but they’ve never regretted maybe doing it too soon. I can understand the first part, but the second part escapes me. What if I did put her down too soon? What if she had some good months left and I took them away from her?

I still wake up in the night and feel her there next to me, but now I check to see if she’s still breathing. How could I ever not do right by this dog?

i won’t treat you like you’re oh so typical


It feels weird to slink back here after two years of not writing. Really weird. I guess I’m not slinking since it’s my domain and I pay for it and administer it, but I feel like I’ve broken up with bluishorange and now I’ve come crawling back. So, slink I shall. Come back, please, baby, I was wrong.

I have a job now, and Maude’s still alive. Those are the two relevant updates. My job is that I make jewelry full-time for a designer here in Austin. It’s a good time–I make things all day and listen to audiobooks. Or sometimes I make things and watch Firefly. Either way.

Maude is on her last legs, I think. She’s got arthritis and kidney disease, and I’m about to start giving her glucosamine for the former and subcutaneous fluids for the latter. She’s thirteen years old, the same age as bluishorange. She seems to be pain-free and in good spirits, though, so I’m glad she’s still around. At the moment she’s curled up next to me asleep, which is as it should be.

I was unemployed for nearly a year. This affected me in the obvious financial ways, but it also affected me in some emotional ways that haven’t healed yet, and may not for some time. Eleven months of constant rejection got me used to rejection, which is valuable, but it also wore me down and got me to expect very little from anything in my life. Expecting practically nothing is great if you want to be surprised, but isn’t great if you want to move forward or achieve anything.

Right now I’m going through one of my OH GOD WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN phases. It feels a lot like a midlife crisis, which is probably accurate. As an atheist, my answer to WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN should technically be NOTHING IT MEANS NOTHING, but it’s not that simple. Does anything I do make a positive difference? How can I make more of a positive difference? What do I bring to the world that nobody else can? Those thoughts are enough to make a girl drink a bottle of wine every night, but, uh, I don’t do that anymore.

Tonight while I was driving home from a party, I listened to the first track from the new Tegan and Sara album on repeat. I love the way the verses sort of melt into the chorus, almost like they’re overlapping.

If you’re subscribed to the RSS feed (which I assume is the only way anyone could possibly see this post), please say hi in the comments, okay? I miss you guys.


I could start this out with a whole lot of stuff about OH I HAVEN’T WRITTEN HERE IN FOREVER and HERE’S HOW THINGS HAVE BEEN GOING or whatever, but it’s 2010, not 2002, and this is my website, so I won’t bother making excuses.*

What I will say is this: I’m not even remotely the same person who started this site in February of 2000. I was 21 years old, living in a tiny Houston apartment, and working full-time as a web designer, totally unaware that the dot-com bubble would burst in just a few short months. When it did, I went back to college, majored in English, and became obsessed with the personal web, all of which informed lots, if not most, of my writing on this site.

I still live in an apartment, and I’m a web designer again, but that’s where the similarities end (oh, and my hair remains awesome). A few months ago, an online friend (acquaintance? person I know? you get it) of mine** wrote this on his private site:

All those words, nearly forgotten and willfully unremembered, that I find from time to time in email searches and old misnamed text files, they read like lies, because I no longer believe in the world they describe. I no longer believe that I ever believed in it, only that I wanted to, and tried, and failed. It’s just a muscle that moves blood for a while. There is nothing to break.

Replace “email searches and old misnamed text files” with “my bluishorange archives,” and you’ve got exactly how I feel about this site. I’m not comfortable with reading my old writing, nor am I comfortable with exploring the depths of my own psyche the way I used to. It’s too difficult, too painful, too something.

But make no mistake, I’m not filled with regret or anything. I’m not going to say, “Oh, I had such high hopes for myself!” or “What happened to me?” Things are fine here. It’s just that reading my old writing is like watching a documentary about a problem that doesn’t exist anymore–clearly this person feels very strongly about these things, but, uh, what?

Eh, maybe I’ll appreciate having 2700 essays about my 20’s when I’m old.

Anyhow, thanks to my friend/online acquaintance/fellow internet road warrior Ariel, I’ve found this journal project called Radvent. Each day in December*** there’s a writing prompt, and I’m going to see if I can follow them this month (cue laugh track). I could use some reminders that things in my life are better now, MUCH, better, than they used to be, and I think this might help. Here’s the first prompt:

What were you doing five years ago today? As the holiday season began? Where were you? Who were you with? What did you want? What did you have?

Oh, things were not good in late 2005. I was unemployed, kind of depressed, and making my living selling jewelry and vintage clothes on the internet and doing contract web work. I’d just moved to Austin and hadn’t met many people yet, so I rarely left the apartment I shared with my boyfriend at the time. Besides him, Maude was my best friend. Here she is post-Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house in 2005:

Maude is a most excellent friend, but I definitely needed (and wanted!) to get out more and meet people. I was, however, too busy berating myself for not being more awesome.

The bright side of 2005: it was when I really started to get into sewing. Said boyfriend got me a vintage sewing machine for my birthday that year, and I taught myself all kinds of things pretty quickly. So, when I was at home all day and all night for weeks on end, at least I had something to do.

*I will tell you that I do lots of posting on my tumblr these days, as well as over on my craft site, I Could Make That.

**Hey online friend person, do you want me to credit you for writing that? Didn’t know if I should since it’s on a private site.

***You know how I feel about religion (and, consequently, Advent), but whatevs; we can focus on the Rad part instead.

(Hey, look, the 10th-anniversary-of-Bluishorange post I did in February hasn’t fallen off the main page yet!)