Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Jail Break: Tails of Chuck Barkowski

If you've been fortunate enough to be the parent to a puppy, you know how quickly they can worm their way into your heart while simultaneously destroying even the most sacred of family heirlooms. Or, you know, a laptop cord.

Luckily Chuck hasn't really destroyed much. His worst trait is that if he doesn't get enough exercise he gets really belligerent, especially toward our old pup, Frisket, who just wants to sleep. He doesn't want to play. Chuck also is still not completely potty trained. I try to take him out once an hour when I'm home, and there are puppy pads all over the house, but accidents happen.

Anyway, as a puppy, Chuck has been hanging out in my bedroom in a dog pen with the TV showing Animal Planet whenever no one is at home. It's something that's worked for us, though he's managed to adjust the pen so it's smaller than I left it. We call him a "Barkitect."

This past Friday evening, my family and I went out to dinner and to get some groceries. When we came back, Frisket was waiting at the door to be let out, as he normally does, but so was Chuck!

We'd almost been expecting it to happen. While we were camping a few weeks back, Chuck kept jumping and almost cleared the smaller pen that my aunt had brought up.

I tried to scold him, but I was more concerned with whether or not he'd chewed up anything he shouldn't have or even made tons of messes all over the house.

Would you believe it? Neither happened.

After that, we started talking about whether he was ready to be left out with Frisket and the cats, and I think my dad and I were more inclined to trust him, but my mom, who doesn't actually like dogs, was more wary. She suggested that I keep Chuck locked in my bedroom.

My room is a bit of a disorganized mess right now. Plus, we live in an old house, and my bedroom gets a little warm in the summer. Instead, I decided that he can hang out in my studio, where there's a window AC unit. It's brighter, there's a TV, more space to run around, and will stay cool.

He's not terribly fond of being locked in there. He's back to barking at me after I leave him, but he did that when he was a bitty thing, stuck in the pen. I worry that he'll get really lonely, but I just ordered two baby gates. Now I'm considering putting them both in the Studio doorway, so the cats (okay, Jane) can come visit.

But because he's bored, I've decided to get him a subscription to BarkBox. I've been meaning to for awhile, but money has been tight. Luckily, my sister sent me a link, and I got a free month for signing up.

If YOU want a free month, follow the link and help yourself. And if you buy before June 30, you get an additional toy in your box! Great deal! (Full disclosure, for every person who uses my link, I get a free month too. Share the love!)

I'm really enjoying being a puppy mom and all of the exciting things that it's shown me. I haven't had a puppy of my own since I was ten, and this is definitely a different feeling (I had more energy twenty years ago), but I love my little bud so much. This morning he even coaxed me out of bed by laying on my chest and licking my chin. Sure, he probably could've stayed like that all morning, but I couldn't sleep through those cuddles. And is he a cuddler!

If you're interested in adopting a little snuggle bug of your own, you should check out PuppySpot, a website that connects puppies with dog lovers to find them good homes. In their own words:
We are a community of dog lovers, committed to connecting the nation's top breeders to caring, responsible individuals and families in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Dallas, and across the U.S. We hold ourselves and our clients to the highest standards and aim to improve the life of each puppy, breeder and owner who joins our family.

  • What's your favorite thing about being a pet mom?
  • Have you ever used a subscription company for your pets? For yourself?

Monday, June 26, 2017

If I Were a Jane Austen Character...

I've taken I don't know how many "Which Jane Austen Character Are You?" quizzes in my time. I think most of the time they come up accurate, but they typically cast you based on if you're a man or woman.

How I wish I could say that I was Elizabeth Bennet; Witty, Pretty, and Headstrong. Don't we all want to be Lizzie? She's got such a head for the right thing to say at that exact moment, while being able to learn from her mistakes.

Typically, I get Fanny Price, the quiet observer in Mansfield Park who has been in love with her best friend for most of her life.

As I get older I sometimes think that I'm Anne Elliot, the responsible middle daughter of a vain, pompous spendthrift in Persuasion, who spends most of the book regretting a lost love.

If I were going to be truly honest with myself, though, I'd be none of these characters.

My book club read Pride & Prejudice awhile back, and in rereading it, I really started to watch a certain character. He was shy, intelligent, honorable, and almost too willing to give in to first impressions.

It's Mr. Darcy. I'm totally Mr. Darcy. I really understand him on a personal level.

Let's look at the facts. Mr. Darcy is:

  1. Shy. Upon his first visit to Meryton, he only speaks to his own friends, Mr. and Miss Bingley. He doesn't break away from them or even step out to talk to the woman he finds prettiest in the entire room (Lizzie). 
  2. Stubborn. He stubbornly clings to his initial opinions of people, and even tells Lizzie that once his good opinion is lost on someone, it is lost forever. It's one of the most important quotes on his character. 
  3. More extroverted around close family and friends. He dotes on his younger sister, Georgiana. Lizzie's entire opinion of him changes after speaking to her as well as his housekeeper, who have nothing but the best things to say about him. He's seen (in the 2005 film version) laughing when Georgiana is around, and Lizzie can see what a friendship they have. 

I did a little soul searching after rereading the novel, and found that I also am:

  1. Shy. Okay. It didn't take a brain surgeon to figure this one out. My dad's favorite story to tell about me was the first time I went roller skating, I went around twice, watched everyone else skate for the next two hours, but the next time I went out, I was skating quickly around the rink. I'm very heavily guarded in my outward opinions until I get to know someone and gauge how they'll react. Not to say I care about other's opinions of me, but I do care about looking like an idiot if I don't think things through. Also, I check out EVERYTHING before I go through with something. I visited Stephens three times before I applied. I texted my friend, who is a groomer at a Petsmart in Texas (she used to work at one here), about policies from her experience before I scheduled an appointment for Chuck to get his nails clipped.
  2. Stubborn. It's almost a family trait to hold grudges. And my grudges can be legendary (There's a short list of people who are actually dead to me. They come up to me on the street and start talking, I will look right through them and not speak. Immature? Maybe, but I've been burned horribly and refuse to go through that again). 
  3. More extroverted around close family and friends. In true introvert fashion, I'm very outgoing around people I'm comfortable with. I can be the biggest goofball with my beloved friends and family. They know how to bring me out of me shell, and dropping me in the middle of an unfamiliar situation is not the way to do it. 
I've always liked Darcy, and I think that's what people love about characters, especially when they're so complex: They see bits of themselves there. It's important in writing stories that really speak to the audience to make them well-rounded and somewhat mysterious. 

Peeling back the layers of a character is like meeting them in real life. You don't know everything about them until you get to know them. And the prejudice surrounding Mr. Darcy is exactly why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. 

  • Which famous literary character are you? (I'm always Jo March. WIN!)
  • Who do you love best in Jane Austen?
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Monday, June 5, 2017

That Time I Almost Met Debbie Reynolds

It's no secret I love old Hollywood musicals. I even like bad musicals that have elements of Old Hollywood in them (Looking at YOU, Xanadu!).

I've been enamored of old movies since I was a kid. My dad and I would watch them all the time. I don't remember the first time I saw Singin' In the Rain, but I remember it was in our first house, so I was less than seven.

I watched it again in high school and almost died laughing. I learned the songs, fell in love with Gene Kelly (though I hear he was a jerky perfectionist in his professional life), and thought getting started in Hollywood was as easy as popping out of a cake.

Who knows? I might have been in the 20's.

There's a reason it's one of the top musicals ever made. It's just so dang funny and timeless. Is there a better villain than the squeaky-voiced Lina LaMont? Is there a funnier number than Fit As a Fiddle or Make 'em Laugh?

Back in 2010, FilmStreams in Omaha had a showing at the Joslyn Art Musem, and Debbie Reynolds was to speak beforehand. Because my dad is amazing, he bought us tickets.

I got dressed up. If I was going to meet Debbie Reynolds, I wanted to look awesome. I don't remember many specifics about the outfit, but I did remember the shoes I wore. they were fuschia platform peep toe booties with a huge bow on the side. Difficult to walk in, but they looked so cute, who cared?

Before the show started, I went down to the basement, where the bathrooms were. I wasn't going to miss my chance to see this amazing film on the big screen.

As I was coming back upstairs, I heard a loud commotion, and as I reached the landing, a crowd of museum or Film Streams employees was ushering in a short woman with permed blonde hair.

It was Debbie! And she was right in front of me!

Hoping to meet her for a quick second, I took the final step...and missed it. I fell off my shoes, crashing to the floor with a little shriek.

The crowd stopped, and in almost slow motion, they looked down at me.

I stared right at Debbie. She stared back at me.

And just like that, it was over. They ushered her into the theatre while I picked myself up, and hurried to my seat to exclaim to my dad, "I tripped in front of Debbie Reynolds!"

Unfortunately, I didn't get to meet her. I was a night waitress and I had to get to work, but that's still one of my favorite celebrity encounters of all time.

I was very sad when Debbie Reynolds passed away following her daughter, Carrie Fisher. The world lost two immense talents. I always wanted to meet Debbie for real, but that didn't happen. At least I can say she looked right at me.

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