Andrew doesn’t believe in Tim Gunn, but I do. Make it work!

It’s been a heck of a month, eh? I read this article recently about how it has become a sort of contemporary anthem for Americans to repeat: “Oh, I’m soooo busy.” – and to use this statement as an excuse for nearly everything: not calling your mom, not updating your blog, not doing the dishes, not writing back to best friends in other time zones…. (yes, these are my own failings). In the end, the article said something like: “We’re all too busy – now shut up about it.” Basically, busy is life. And I think the real problem with saying, “Sorry, I was busy,” is that it isn’t specific enough and doesn’t always convey the right attitude – i.e. that you do care and were even probably aware of all the things you weren’t doing, while you were trying to get through the day.

What I am really saying here is that this past month or so has been a bruiser for me in some ways and you know, when you put more and more on one side of the scale, it starts tipping unequally. So tonight, I want to be specific about what I’ve been “so busy” with: my job, the animals, Andrew & me, and – in the words of Tim Gunn – “making it work.”   

I told you all about applying for the advanced archivist job. Well, I guess the biggest news this month might be I got the promotion and now have the title of Senior Archivist. I feel pretty good about it, since I’ve only been there 4 months. Yeah, I feel mostly good, but also… a little sad. I don’t know if I will ever get used to the idea that I need to keep working hard my entire life, 8-5 every day, for any office job. I know being an archivist is a pretty good gig – it’s relevant, it’s respectable, it’s rare and requires a good amount of intellectual effort.

Oftentimes though, my days are severely lacking two aspects that are important to me: art and helping. I think when I say art, what I really mean is freedom. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone but me. With “helping” I mean helping in an emotional way. I help researchers and scholars all day with their academic and information needs – and it’s fun, like putting together a puzzle (and I do love finding answers). But in the end, I don’t feel I have really helped anyone in a way significant to their happiness and well-being. And I feel a bit like I am doing a good job at being successful on other people’s terms. This is all what I mean by “making it work.” How do you do it?

The “new” craft table.

One thing I did for myself, as part of making it work, is purchase a craft table at Salvation Army. I’m calling it a craft table. It’s just a table. I’ve started to set up a crafting area – in our living room. We really have no other space, in our little double adobe. I’m not a specific or consistent or organized crafter. I don’t knit or scrapbook. I sew a little, but have no sewing machine, so it’s all hand-stitching. I like to make paper crafts, like origami and stationary and wall art, and I love trying whimsical DIY projects. I don’t know what kind of project I’ll start on first. Maybe a simple mobile, a laser-print to wood photo transfer, or bandanna for Mesa (Lupe would be sure to shred anything I made).

So a gang clown has been etched into the table’s surface. No biggie. Maybe my first craft project should be to refinish the craft table…

Another way I am making it work is with my dogs. They are important to my soul. 

WARNING: Lengthy dog talk approaching…

 Mesa and I have been training and working on socialization. She successfully passed the behavior test at doggie daycare, and she did well at our first outing to the dog park. I really feel she is on the cusp of going either way – becoming a well-socialized, friendly(-ish) dog or an aggressive, insecure one. She probably hasn’t had much good socialization in her life and she’s already an adult dog, so putting her in new situations is a little scary for me (and for her). She can be a bulldozer.

I was particularly wary at the dog park, because her worst aggression seems to come out around me. But I also know the only way for her to become more comfortable around other dogs, is to put her in these situations. When we first entered, she was acting neurotic and aggravated and chasing the two other (completely friendly and well-behaved) dogs as if she was claiming her space. I am sure it frightened the owners. I am totally aware of the stigma she brings with her, as a pit bull mix. People are afraid – and honestly, sometimes I am too. She has this one move I call the “kill move,” where her eyes become black and focused, she jumps on top of another dog and just launches her jaws onto its neck… See? Scary. I bet you all think I am crazy now for bringing her around other dogs at all. And I did have a few moments where I wanted to just grab her and leave. But I forced myself to trust her and our bond and realize her aggression primarily stems from insecurity. (She hasn’t done the kill move consistently, people! Only a couple times. If anything, it was a good reality check for me that this dog is an animal and a predator, first of all. And I have the suspicion that this behavior might have been encouraged in her previous home.) It really is a weighty thing, this balance of trust, trying to change her behavior, and being aware that she does have the the capacity to really hurt someone. I don’t take it lightly. Is it too much to say I think of myself as a lion tamer? Because sometimes I do.

After we entered the park, I sat down on a bench, trying to stay calm (which was hard!) and watching her closely.  I also avoided touching or giving attention to any other dogs (which was also hard!), since she is very protective of me. Now, one of the best things about Mesa, and the reason I was willing to try all this, is that she responds very well to direction. If she started to act up with another dog, all I had to do was firmly clap and call her name and she would come running, obedient as ever. So after a bit of a rough start at the dog park, she calmed down and was able to play with other dogs without becoming aggressive. It was great to see her getting her physical energy out, while being happy and secure and safe. Now we just have to do this 100 more times.



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