Toad

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Thirty-onederful

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

I turned 31 on Sunday, and my sister Becca and brother-in-law Mike treated me to the best possible thing we could imagine: a live performance of Miranda Sings.

I’ve talked about Miranda Sings before, and her live show did not disappoint. She started the show as Colleen Ballinger but changed into Miranda right on stage – and people FREAKED OUT. It was brilliant, and seriously one of the best things ever. We didn’t catch the transformation on video, but someone in Atlanta did:

Anyway, that was my birthday. Maybe I should be embarrassed to admit how much I love Miranda Sings, but I’m in my 30s so I really don’t care what anyone thinks.

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When I was in Nashville, my friend Jen presented me with an envelope, and this was inside:

Jen MADE THIS. Can you even handle it? Toady and her 3 legs? I was so moved, and humbled to have such an amazingly talented, kind-hearted friend. The second this girl opens a web shop, you’ll be the first to know.

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I ran across this article yesterday, and I really liked it. I buck against discomfort all the time, but maybe being uncomfortable is not the worst thing in the world.

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I watched “The Bachelorette” in its entirety this season, and as of last night, it’s over. For all of the “drama” they hyped it to be, it was a total snooze-fest. No spoilers here, but I should have known it would end so boringly.

Sort of like this post is.

Standing offer

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

A few weeks ago, I was driving home from the airport when I looked at the thermometer on my dashboard.

“109 degrees!” I cried. I know that Denver gets hot, but it had been ages since I’d seen a temperature that high.

A minute later, I looked again. “110 degrees!” I was freaking out. It was the apocalypse. We were all going to die.

But don’t worry. It was just the odometer.

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Thank you all for your kind and compassionate words about the loss of Toad. She was so special, and I feel her absence just about every minute. I’m realizing that although she was “just” a dog, I’ve never lost anyone who was such a constant part of my everyday life. It’s a big deal.

But life doesn’t stop, and I haven’t slowed down. I’m about to board a flight to Nashville for Brandon and Miranda’s – Mirbranda’s – wedding weekend, and look forward to spending a few very full days with some amazing friends. Did you know that Miranda and I met through this blog? And now I’m about to be a bridesmaid in her wedding (strangely enough, this isn’t the first time this has happened).

I’m thankful for the community assembled here, the connections that have formed, and the sweet virtual words offered to me in recent weeks and months. This season has been a doozy. Sometimes I want to run for the hills. But I’m thumbtacking your encouragement to my spirit.

Basically, if any of you ever need a bridesmaid, I’m your girl.

Kodiak “Toad” Parsons – 2001-2013

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Less than two weeks after taking her to Kansas City, my mom called to let me know that Toad had taken an abrupt turn for the worst. She was in a lot of pain, and the X-rays showed that she had no discs left in her neck. Severe arthritis was taking over. Her back legs were buckling. And thanks to my friend Mark and his heroic buddy pass provision, I got on a last-minute flight.

Last night, we said goodbye to my sweetest friend. She was the happiest little dog, social and affectionate, funny and cute, and so much braver than me. I’m so grateful to have had 2 years of 3-legged adventures with her, and especially relieved that I could be with her in her final moments – moments that were heartbreaking but somehow peaceful. Although in pain, she was attentive, ears laid back, tail wagging until the very end.

Toad’s life made a difference to mine. She forced me to not be the center of my universe – which, let’s be honest, is hard to do. She was companionship. She was unconditional love. I felt better when she was around – which is why I took her with me everywhere I could: work, parties, counseling (yes, I took her with me to counseling). She made people stop on the street, charming everyone she came across. She loved cheese and rotisserie chicken. She hated having her picture taken and getting her feet wet.

Most of all, she loved people, and I’m pretty sure it’s okay for me to say that she loved me the most, followed by my family and then probably Graham Stoner. I know that so many of you loved her, and for those who never met her, I wish you could have. She was one of a kind.

I’ll miss you more than I can say, Toady – good girl.

Summer camp

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Today is a very sad day, one I’ve been dreading for a long time. I’m saying goodbye to Toad, and sending her to Kansas City to stay with my mom for a bit.

I’m calling it “summer camp” because to think of it as anything else breaks my heart. I know that it’s for good reason – I’m out of town every single weekend for the rest of the summer, not to mention an 8-day work trip in August, and while I have a few good dog sitters, I don’t have THAT many good dog sitters. I know that Toad being with my mom will be the best thing for her – she’ll have consistency and air conditioning and people to rub her belly. I know that Labor Day will be here before I know it, and I’ll be driving out to Kansas City to bring her home.

Still, I’m having trouble stomping down that accusatory voice telling me I’m abandoning her in the name of convenience.

She’s been mine for two years – two very complicated, constantly changing, fragile years for this little dog – and I’ve taken the responsibility really seriously, maybe even to a fault. I pay really close attention to Toad. I watch her to make sure she isn’t in pain. I take her with me everywhere I can because she hates to be alone. And now I’m just… sending her away?

But given that there’s no good reason for me to be concerned about her living at my mom’s house (i.e. the lap of luxury), it makes me think that my anxiety over the whole thing is actually related to something else. It’s probably more selfish.

I’m just going to miss her.

She’s been my near-constant companion, a listening ear, the one who wakes me up in the morning because she’s hungry and then won’t eat her food unless I put cheese on it. She sits on the front porch without a leash and doesn’t run away. When I talk, she looks attentively at my face, even though her brain is very small.

And on nights like last night, when the rain came pouring down and flooded my kitchen once again, and I was standing in the backyard drenched to the bone, frantically trying to figure out how to stop the water from pouring in, and having no luck, came back inside in waterlogged sneakers, threw towels all over the floor, caught what I could in bowls and pans, and thought about posting about it on Facebook just because I need someone to see me – there was Toad. Watching my every move. Witnessing my life. Reminding me that I’m not alone.

She has a fresh shave, and a little bag packed with her few things: her dog dishes, Zuke’s treats, heartworm pills, and the leash she never needs. She’s ready.

If only I could say the same for me.

Aloneness

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

I’ve been in the Shotgun for two and a half weeks, and things are coming together. I have all of my furniture, and as of Sunday, a washer and dryer. A few pictures are hung on the walls. I painted the hallway, but gave up halfway through painting the bathroom because the ceilings are too high and the floor space is too small for a ladder; I think I’ll need to hire a professional to finish the job. My curtains are up, and I’ve jerry-rigged a temporary solution for the skylight over my bed (a towel draped over two tension rods). I’m learning the oddities of the space, and despite the quirks, it’s starting to feel like home.

But the transition has been rough for Toad.

This little dog has been through more than her fair share of change in the last few years. We just passed the 2-year anniversary of her amputation, which is right around the time she came to live with me. In less than two years, she’s been through three moves, lost her dog companion when Becca got married and took Gabe with her, grew out all of her fur just to have it shaved off, and has tripped and scraped her nose more times than I can count. Through it all, she just keeps hopping along.

But my new next-door neighbor (with whom I share a wall) recently told me that when I’m not home, Toad barks. This is surprising to me, since Toad never barks when I’m around – she’s a silent, sleepy mutt who, for hours at a time, barely makes her presence known. But it appears that she has an alter ego, and as soon as I’m out the door, starts barking – and she doesn’t stop.

Last night I came home from guitar class, and had to park on the street a few houses down. As I walked toward my front door, I started to hear it – a desperate, throaty cry. “That’s not Toad,” I told myself. It couldn’t be her. But as I got closer, I knew it: my dog was barking incessantly, to the point of losing her voice, and she’d been doing this for the past 2 hours straight.

After an apology text to my neighbor, I sunk onto my bed feeling exasperated. Doesn’t this dog know that I take good care of her? Doesn’t she know that I always feed her, always make sure she has what she needs when she needs it? Doesn’t she trust that I’m never going to leave her alone, that I’m always going to come back for her?

She doesn’t believe it, so she cries. And I am no different.

How often do I buy into the lie that I’m all alone and that no one is going to take care of me? How often do I overlook the ways I have been provided for? How often do I draw conclusions based only on what I can see? How often do I assume the worst?

I’ve lived alone before, but something about being the only signature on the deed to this house has exposed my “aloneness” in a new way. Have you ever tried to hang a picture on a wall without someone standing back, telling you whether to move it higher or lower? Or deciding to change the placement of the rugs after the furniture has been set without someone else to lift the corner of the sofa? Not to mention being the only person earning money for the bank account to pay for it all. If I think about it for too long, I start to feel a lot like my little dog: frantic and afraid.

But here’s the good news: when you’re alone and you know it, you’re so much more aware of the ways in which you’re taken care of.

If I didn’t feel the full weight of my aloneness, would I feel the value of a Home Depot gift card from Luke and Maggie? Would I understand the thoughtfulness of flowers from Allie on my doorstep? Would I fully appreciate Steve coming over to drill things into the walls? Would I know the significance of Graham taking his entire Sunday afternoon to help me move a washer/dryer? Would I acknowledge the Denver map from Hitoshi, the rosemary plant from Isreal, or the bottle of wine from Erica as so meaningful? Would I read all of the well-wishing words with as much gratitude? Would I wake up each morning well aware that I’m living in a home that I didn’t even know to ask for or expect?

In the morning, I’m leaving for a 36-hour work trip, and I have an Anna-Hannah-Becca tag-team to make sure that Toad is never left home alone to bark. I don’t know what I’m going to do about this problem long-term. But despite the aloneness I am so tempted to feel, this little stressor of a dog is being provided for and taken care of – and so am I.

Family resemblance

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

My little dog Toad is the best. She really is. She is so ridiculous and happy and cute, and she’s always excited to see me, even if I’ve been in an ugly mood all day or my hair is looking like a sea anemone or I’m having an existential crisis. No matter what, she’s hopping in the air as high as her three legs will boost her and smiling a huge dog smile and breathing that horrible dragon breath all over everything.

And these are her relatives:

The steady season

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Yesterday, a relatively new acquaintance asked me, “What do you want to do with your life?” She was asking about my career path, I suppose – to which my answer is always a shoulder shrug. I’ve never been one with a bullseye plan for my professional life – I just try to do my very best wherever I happen to be, and take each next step as it comes.

I’m learning to see my life in seasons. There have been seasons when I’ve been a freewheeling gypsy, tumbling from place to place with no rhyme or reason, living on scrambled eggs and dreams. Sometimes (a lot of times) I miss those days. But right now, I’m in a season of stability, a chapter of routine.

And despite the occasional call of the wild, this season is good.

I wake up each morning around 6:30, and start the coffee pot that I readied the night before. Toad goes outside, then comes in to eat her breakfast (which I sprinkle with shredded cheese because she is old and 3-legged and I just figure she needs as much happiness as she can get). I fry an egg and mix a little granola into a tiny cup of yogurt, and take my breakfast back to my bed where I usually read for a little while.

When I finally motivate myself to actually get up and go to work, I pull my lunch out of the fridge (packed the night before, of course), and either say goodbye to Toad or bring her with me. She comes to the office with me one day a week and gets dropped off with Becca another day, leaving 3 days when she’s home alone. On those days, I run home at lunch and take her for a walk around the block, then sit with her on the front porch for a few minutes. I’m convinced that no one in the world loves me as much as Toad – not to say that people don’t love me well, but just that this dog’s enthusiasm for me is over the top.

Every day at work looks a little different, as I juggle plenty of different projects. Some constants: email, social media, writing, planning, organizing, mailing, and making sure that everything I do is legal.

I try to keep weeknights low-key. I come home and eat a bowl of soup (that I cooked in the Crock-Pot over the weekend), and eventually go to the gym around 7:30. Then I head home to take a shower and go to bed and then start the whole thing over again the next day.

Nothing is flashy these days. I’m not jet-setting around the country like I have in previous seasons. I’m not dating. I’m not going to many parties or events. I’m not climbing any mountains. I’m not “accomplishing” much of anything, unless you count being a good employee and keeping Toad alive – both of which are worthwhile goals, by the way.

Sometimes, the wanderlust tries to convince me to break out of this routine and do something crazy, something that makes me come alive, something risky but beautiful. A trusted friend sent me a text the other day, urging me to do a thing that I’ve always wanted to do – and entertaining the idea of being bold and brave slapped my heart awake. I know that one day, it will be time for that tumbleweed season again.

But today, I am steady. Today, I believe it’s good. And I just wanted to write it down to remind myself.

Business trips

Friday, April 20th, 2012

A few days ago, I took Toad on a walk around the block (as far as she can go). It’s good for her to have the illusion of adventure.

On this particular stroll, she stopped to do her business; Becca calls these walks her “business trips.”  And because I am a responsible pet-owner, I had a plastic bag on hand. I scooped up the mess, tied the bag, and carried it home.

As we rounded the final corner, we came upon three stray cats – a dime a dozen in our neighborhood, unfortunately. Two of them scattered, but the biggest one, a giant black Tom, arched its back and hissed at Toad. Toad was like, oh no you di-in’t, and lunged.

The cat didn’t flinch. In fact, it got even angrier, growled that feral cat-growl, and shot out its claws like Wolverine. I stomped and yelled, hoping the cat would run – but it came even closer, fangs bared and hair on edge. Toad was about to get destroyed.

So I did the only thing I could think of. I swung the only weapon that I had.

And pardon the expression, but that cat learned a whole new meaning of the term “shit-faced.”

Haircuts for bears

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Every morning, I pull up CNN.com to read about current events.  As a person with no TV who despises talk radio, it’s the only window I have to the outside world.

This morning, rather than reading about politics (so long, Santorum) or George Zimmerman (so long, lawyers), I opted to click on this link:
Texter looks up, sees 400-pound bear

I am so glad that this moment was captured on film.

Speaking of bears, I mentioned that Toad got her summer haircut.  She went from looking like this:

to this:

So long, bear.  Hello, 3-legged baby cow with a feather extension behind her ear.

(I promise, she is cuter and less pathetic than this picture makes her out to be.)

(But only a little.)

And with that, I’ll take my leave. I’m pretty sure I’m going to spend the entire day thinking about:
1) paying my estimated quarterly taxes,
2) how we still haven’t found a house to move into, and
3) the fact that in just 8 days, HUNTER IS COMING TO VISIT – which means that once again, this moment will be made possible:

I cannot wait.

In her own words: Kodi’s trip to the Northwest

Monday, September 26th, 2011

A week ago Saturday, Annie opened the front door.  I ran through it.  She had my leash out, so I knew we were going somewhere – but instead of walking around the block one time (as far as I can walk), she lifted me into her car.

I like to ride in the car.  I lean against the backseat, and breathe really hard.  I never know where we’re going, but it’s always exciting.

This time, Annie started driving, and she just didn’t stop.  For almost 14 hours, she drove.  I panted the whole time.  Annie thinks I have dragon breath, but I am not a dragon.  I am a dog.

Sometimes, we would stop at a gas station and Annie would lift me out of the car and tell me to pee.  Sometimes I would and sometimes I wouldn’t.  Annie would talk to me out loud, and say things like, “Toad, you need to pee,” but if I didn’t want to, I wouldn’t, because I am a dog and I do whatever makes sense to me.

The next day, we only drove 7 hours.  When we finally stopped, we were in a city called “Portland,” and the first place we went was a guy named Mike’s house.  Mike is very tall.  I hadn’t eaten any food since Friday because long, unexpected car rides stress me out, so Annie microwaved some white rice for me.  I ate it.

On the days that we were in Portland, Annie took me to an office that she worked from.  The first day, I was nervous because I didn’t know where I was, so I threw up on the floor.  It’s okay, though, because the floor was concrete.  Annie cleaned it up very quickly, and I wagged my tail because I felt better.

Forty-five minutes later, on those same concrete floors, I shat.  It was very un-like me, but in the moment, it just seemed like the right thing to do.  A stranger man discovered it, and went and found Annie and told her what I had done.  Annie cleaned it up as fast as she could and kept saying the words “I’m so sorry” to the people in the office.  I just smiled and wagged my tail, so no one could be very mad at me.

Portland was a wonderful city, because everyone there smelled like interesting things like incense and cigarettes, and they would stop on the street to pet me.  Portland really likes 3-legged dogs, and it’s a good thing, because I only have three legs.

A few nights later, Annie lifted me into the car again, and I started panting.  I panted for three hours until we got to a new city: “Seattle.”  I was so excited to arrive in Seattle, because we stayed at my friend Lisa’s house, and she has a backyard, and I love Lisa because she pets me so much and feeds me cottage cheese.  I was so excited to be at Lisa’s house that I ran all around the house, and even though her floors were made of a thing called “hard wood” and I slipped all over the place, nothing could stop me from running and being happy.

My time in Seattle was so nice, because Annie just worked and patted me on the head.  One night, we went to her friend Keith’s house, and it was very scary because Keith had knocked down walls in his house and was building them up again, and there were wires and tools around.  But Keith gave me a bowl of water and Annie a shot of whiskey, and everyone felt better.

On Friday, Annie didn’t work – she took a thing called a “day off.”  On this day, she went on a walk with Greta.  I couldn’t go, because Annie and Greta like to walk very far, and remember, I can only walk once around the block.  I was sad that they left me behind, so I chewed the wood around the back door of Lisa’s house.  It seemed like the right thing to do.

When Annie came back and saw what I had done, she seemed angry and sad and something called “embarrassed.”  She tried to fix the door for Lisa, and she told Lisa that she would pay for it to be fixed for real.  But no matter what she offered, she still felt sad that I had done this.  I didn’t understand why she was sad.  I just looked at her and wagged my tail, because I like Annie, and I’m happy every day and all of the minutes.

On Saturday morning, Annie put all of her things in her car, and lifted me onto the backseat.  We drove on a magnificent roadway called “I-90,” and when we crossed over Lake Washington on our way out of Seattle, I saw a tear roll down Annie’s cheek.  I think that she must love this city very much, and must have been so sad to leave.

We drove to a place called “Spokane,” and I met a baby friend named Eleanor.  I don’t think that I’ve ever had a baby friend before, but I was very nice to this baby.  She was like a person, but very small.  Also in Spokane, I saw a cat and barked as loud as I could and ran after it as fast as I could.  But I only have three legs, so I did not get very far.

The rest of the trip consisted of a lot of driving and Annie trying to learn all of the words to Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass.”

I met many people on my trip, and everyone who meets me loves me.  But Annie says that she probably does not want to take me on a trip again.  I don’t understand, because I’m so nice and everyone likes me so much.  But Annie said that having me along was a thing called “stressful.”

Maybe it’s because I threw up inside and shat on the floor and destroyed a home.

But I am just a dog, and I do what makes sense to me.

I’m very happy to be back in Colorado.

And I know that Annie still loves me.