Thursday, August 11, 2011

Phelony in Progress

Did you know that breaking & entering in the State of New York is always a felony? Did you know that this applies even if the perpetrator has been allowed access to part of a building but then enters an area for which permission to enter has not been granted, as long as that area is not physically left open for entry?

I submit to you, then, that I am harboring a felon.

Since I'm pretty sure this blog is read only by friends and family, you are already aware of my recent vacation, during which I took a few day trips and spent several afternoons and evenings at camp. Phoebe protested these absences in typical Phoebe fashion, the usual counter-surfing, knocking the mail onto the floor, pulling her leash off its hook, etc.

Then, as any watcher of 48-Hours or reader of suspense novels knows is common, the criminal behavior escalated.

She was into kitchen cabinets again. The upper ones. She pulled down a dessert mix that was on a shelf over my head. Then she ate it. Then she was sticky. She treated a box of 500 Splenda packets like a pinata, judging from the way they seem to have erupted into two rooms. She dragged out a fondue pot. She scattered 48 plastic forks, knives and spoons.

She stole another roll of toilet paper. She placed her favorite target of violence, a purple furry slipper, in the middle of my bed, unharmed, but the message was clear that it was in grave danger if left unattended.

However, a good lawyer could have gotten her off on whatever charges might have been brought against her as a result of these misdeeds. They didn't amount to anything more than criminal mischief, maybe a bit of mild vandalism. And as it pertained to the definition of B&E, there seemed to be a gray area: while she was not given permission to enter the cabinets, and they were closed, they were not secured. Didn't seem to be much of a case, and the old finger shake, followed by a hands-on-the-hips-furrowed-brow stare down (together known as international canine sign language for "Baaaaaaad Phoebe") had to suffice.

Unfortunately, as is true in many cases of deliquency, the punishment did not fit the crime and recidivism ensued.

I came home at dusk. The house was poorly lit. There was something on the floor near the back door. It was vaguely familiar to me, and yet I couldn't quite make it out. I approached, cautious but curious. I had it in hand before I fully recognized it, and just as it struck me what I was holding, I turned instinctively toward the kitchen to confim what I already knew. There was no longer a lock on the refrigerator.

(Insert Law & Order "dun-dun" here.)

I am the mother of a repeat offender.

I, like many mothers in similar circumstances, am in denial.

I told myself that lock was worn from use. That it came off easily because it needed to be replaced.

I went out and bought a new lock. I made sure it was strongly adhered and securely fastened.

The next time I left the house, the lock was removed once again.

I have a dog who can open a refrigerator, immediately removed the velcro straps I initially tried to use to deter her, and has now decided to put an end to this game of toying with me and pretending that she can't get past a toddler lock. She seems to be saying, "Why just open it when I can remove it entirely?"

Tonight I had plans to make a very nice dinner for Cathy & Karen, but I first had a commitment to briefly attend a fundraiser.

I officially sank to a new low in the who's-in-charge-around-here power struggle when the ingredients for dinner had to go into hiding to await my return, hereafter known as the Dinner Protection Program. I could tell you where I put them, but then I'd have to kill you.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Why Dogs Really Are Better than People

I've had some interesting conversations recently regarding the apparent controversy over my happiness.

It seems that it is hard for many to fathom that one can be legitimately and honestly happy without being in some form of a romantic relationship. (And I use the term "romantic" quite loosely and only to distinguish this from other types of relationships, as so very few of those I witness exhibit any actual signs of romance.)

Here are some facts that probably have significant bearing and should therefore be stated outright:
  1. I don't like very many people. The ones I do, I cherish.
  2. I definitely don't like children between the ages of five and 12, maybe 13. I therefore have no "clock," nor any other biologically-dictated reason to seek a mate.
  3. I do really like the closet space afforded by a one-person, two-story dwelling.
  4. I'm selfish. I acknowledge this. I don't have much baggage of my own, and I don't want my life cluttered by someone else's children/debt/elderly parents/crazy ex-wife.
  5. I really truly adore my dogs and have a connection with them that most don't understand and that is easily pigeon-holed into "crazy dog lady" status. I don't dispute the label, as I am admittedly both crazy and a dog lady, but I do think most people don't get it.
So, the general gist of the conversations I've had of late, with a few different people, for a few different reasons:

Other Person: I think you're kidding yourself. You can't possibly be happy alone.
Me: I'm not alone! I have four dogs with more collective personality--and probably intelligence--than any roomful of randomly selected people. I have an amazing and close family. I have great friends. Even the real kind that aren't just on Facebook.
Other Person: You know what I mean. Don't you want to be in a relationship?
Me: No, I really don't. I am genuinely happier and more fulfilled with my life than I have ever been. Nearly everyone thinks I must be fooling myself, but then a great many of those people are in relationships that are at the very least imperfect, if not plain unhappy.
Other Person: Well, I don't think it's healthy.
Me: I think there is something extremely unhealthy about being UNABLE to be happy on your own. I don't understand how anyone can be happy in ANY situation UNLESS they are first and foremost happy on their own. Like truly on their own, truly happy, and for a sustained period of time. I don't think people should be allowed into relationships if they can't achieve that first.
Other Person: But you just THINK you're happy. I doubt you really are.
Me: I have a hard time distinguishing between what it is to BELIEVE you're happy vs. what it is to actually BE happy. If I FEEL happy, then aren't I, in fact, happy?

What I find so interesting is the number of times this comes up, with different people and under different circumstances. It leads me to wonder if I am not the topic of sidebar conversations: "There she is with a dog instead of a husband again, poor thing." And if so, then touche, because I'm probably thinking, "There she is with that louse of a boyfriend again when she has a perfectly good dog at home."

I certainly don't mean to suggest that relationships aren't sometimes beautiful in their closeness and in the joy they bring to their participants. I have been in one or two of those, the problem being that the joy just did not sustain itself. Or, more accurately, we failed to continue to cultivate it. More accurately still, I was an angel of love and patience and he was a lying cheating SOB. Regardless, if that type of nirvana shows up on my doorstep, I will not close the door in its face. I'm just saying I don't expect it and I will accept no less; therefore I sure ought to be able to find joy on my own in life, no? Nothing is more depressing to me than the thought that some people face the choice of being unhappy alone or unhappy in a relationship, usually choosing to be unhappy in a relationship, because, well, at least there's somebody with whom to go out to dinner now and then.

Am I lonely? No. Would I be lonely without my family or my friends? Of course. Without The Girls? Most definitely. The Girls make me happy. They amuse me, they outsmart me, they manipulate me, they engage me, they love me unabashedly and unconditionally. Have I had relationships in which I questioned the other person's character, motives, honesty, commitment? Yes. Do I question any of those things in Petunia? Absolutely not.

Do I mean to compare my relationships with The Girls to my "romantic" relationships, past or future? Of course I don't.

The Girls are so much better.