Taking no prisoners. Including herself.

I feel like a working single mother, slinging hash until midnight, then stumbling home with three little mouths to feed, in want of love.

I started this waitressing gig the very same week my folks left town, and I stepped up to “housesit” — which meant only caring for the two dogs (and my cat), the garden, the lawn, the roses, the new lemon tree and gardenia, the dozen sprouting dalias, the mail, paying the bills online, tracking my mom’s jury duty, responding to a post office reporting service my dad had signed up for, pulling up the ivy, pruning the redwoods, and then cleaning the 3 bedroom, 2 bath house prior to their return. And so I decided to add to that audition, write a play, lose 5 pounds, become a monk, and humble myself before hungry patrons for 8 hours on a night shift.

–What’s that? I’m… complaining? Why, yes I am.

And the fact that I am tells me I’m off the mark. It is always amazing to me how quickly my bliss buzz wears off when I am walking in the wrong direction: and I’ve stumbled off the path because I got jazzed over an idea — rather than reality. I still, after all my life lessons about “balance” and “simplicity” and “patience,”* try and bite off more than I can chew.

And then wonder why I choke.

It’s like our dog, Jayda. Now, Jayda was always a little spazzy, but she has become increasingly skitzo since my brother died. I have a lot of compassion for her, because I think dogs suffer trauma as deeply as humans, only they don’t have shrinks to help them work out their neuroses.

Jayda has become such a spaz, though, that when you go outside to feed her, she bounces and torques so frenetically, that her body folds in half, her paws spring board off the walls, your legs, the water bowl, that she nearly knocks the wind out of herself. It’s really amazing to watch.

And you’d think that would be enough, but of course she knows as well as you do that the reason you are there is to feed her, and so she cannot stop — simply incapable of stopping. And when you hand over her little jerky treat, she inhales it so rapidly, and with such force, that she literally starts to choke. She doubles over and heaves, gasping for air. When she finally recovers, she just goes right back to being a pinball.

And she does this every time.

I keep expecting her to learn, just like I keep expecting myself to learn: “something doesn’t work for you, darling? Then don’t do it!” But Jayda and I, we are creatures of habit, slaves to our own behavior. Even though our behavior makes us suffer, we cannot stop because it is so familiar. We don’t even notice it when we can’t even breathe.

The bars do not exist, and we are stuck in prison.

This is when I have to revisit the promise to myself: to be ruthlessly honest and unabashedly fearless about who I am and what I’m capable of. So, I’m serving myself up a big ole piece of humble pie, and admitting that I made a mistake: I bit off too much, and now I feel like I’m choking.

And the only thing left to do if find some air.

*[Notice I put these words in quotes. Even they are still concepts to me, the reality of their meaning still being learned...]

§575 · May 18, 2009 · Narrative, Sonoma County Splendor · · [Print]

3 Comments to “Choking Hazard”

  1. Kate says:

    Holy Shit!!!
    Brilliant……Not that I am surprised, just in deep love with you…


  2. Aunt Penni says:

    Where did you bite off too much, Shanny?It is what life is all about. Make choices and work through/enjoy them. Savor the process. That is what growing is all about.
    Aunt P

  3. Alli says:

    Are you familiar with the sailing concept of “tacking”? Basically, there’s a point in the distance on the shoreline that is your destination, but as the wind and other conditions change, you are constantly blown off course and must make adjustments. Too far left, start veering right… Too far right, turn a bit back to the left… It’s literally impossible to sail in a straight line, but you just keep reevaluating to see if you’re on track or not, and make the neccesary adjustments knowing that — the goal is not to travel in a straight line.

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