Tuesday, January 28, 2014

rush hour crush

On my ride home today a girl standing against the wall caught my eye through the crush of rush hour bodies.  She was wearing a shiny burgundy jacket, and boots of a slightly darker color but similar sheen over dark translucent tights.  She was wearing earphones, and looked incredibly sad.  I would say with near absolute certainty that she lived alone.

I'm not sure why I was so sure about this last fact, but it stayed with me as the train zoomed under the Transbay Tube and then pulled itself up onto the tresses over West Oakland.  The thought filled me with a sad but sweet melancholy which was likely amplified by the fact it was January, just after dusk, and on a Monday to boot.

For a moment I looked around the train car, and wondered who else may have been going home by themselves (assuming I was right about this particular woman at all).  I pictured practically everyone else on our car going home to boyfriends and girlfriends, to husbands and wives and children, even to fathers and mothers (this is the Bay Area after all; it's not cheap).  She seemed not to fit, in a world by herself (along with her headphones and those shiny boots and jacket).

While she was not exceptionally attractive (it was not exactly that kind of temporary infatuation, I don't think) something told me that if she were out and about, with friends, perhaps with a lover or a partner or a date, she would appear transformed.  I could imagine her radiant.  Does sadness cast a veil that covers us, or does joy create a light that makes us beautiful?

Of course, there's a very good chance that I was just attracted to this sad girl, and was rationalizing it in a quasi-academic, romantic (19th century, not the 21st) way that helps me to think about women.  I wondered, in a half-crazy sort of way, whether I would have found it within me to make a move, if I were returning home alone myself.

Thinking about this woman, with her shiny burgundy jacket and downcast eyes, I remembered various women I have known who lived alone (even my wife, when we first met).  For a moment, I felt something that was suspiciously like empathy.  I do not know where such a feeling could have come from, because I myself have never lived alone.  Still, as the train sped back underground and the dark lavender-tinged sky receded up and away, I could imagine what it would be like to return to an empty apartment, especially on a unseasonably warm January night, such as this one, just after dusk, and on a Monday to boot.  Pop in a movie, bundle up against the dampness, perhaps pour a glass of wine... it wouldn't be so bad really.  Then again, the whole idea is probably much more romantic in the imagination of an emotionally sensitive guy, one who would surely swoop in and offer her company, thus removing the veil or kindling the light, whichever of the two ended up being the case.

Friday, January 24, 2014

a puppy? oof...

I am sitting on the mauve sofa in our living room, whispering "shhh" like it's going to make my dog stop barking.  Yes, I have a mauve sofa.  And I also have a dog.  I'm not sure which of these is more surprising (to you, or to me?), but the mauve sofa seems to be much lower maintenance.

The dog's name is Marcelino.  He is an eight week old Portuguese Water Dog, Poodle mix.  For short, we are calling him Marce.  No, there is no acute accent over the "e".  That would might be a cute nickname, but naming him after the Portuguese word for water is already pretentious enough.  (Apologies for the bad joke... I blame the barking).

Now he is next to me on the couch, trying to get comfortable.  Why?  Because I let him out of his "area" so he would quit yapping.  Praise all that is holy, for the barking has stopped.  He makes a small "oof" noise as he plops against my leg, as if all that racket tired him out, and now he can finally relax.  I can empathize with this feeling.

For the last four days, I have been working from home to take care of him.  I think he has a mild case of separation anxiety (thus, the barking), and I'm worried if we leave him by himself for more than two hours he is going to go apeshit crazy (which I understand is quite a bit crazier that the less pronounced "batshit crazy").  I don't want our dog to go apeshit crazy, especially not before he is house-broken.

Despite the plethora of poo that ends up on our floor about as often as it ends up outside (not to mention an excess of that other excretion), I have been having an absolute blast.  In fact, it's a sort of joy.  It's not unabashed, gleeful, child-running-through-field-of-daisies joy, maybe because there is so much floor mopping, but it's a joy that cuts through the cynicism that pervades the life of a 30-something who manically believes he knows everything yet is aware he actually knows nothing at all (on a daily basis).

Whether Marce jumps too high and falls flat, whines because he doesn't realize he can walk around the chair between me and him, or gives a small "oof" as he collapses at my feet, the smile that he brings is earnest.  Despite the desire for food and company, he has no ulterior motives.

Unfortunately, he hasn't taken to my wife 100% yet.  His behavior, which ranges from mellow to playfully aggressive during the day, switches to full-on demonic when she comes home from work.  Suddenly, it's as if he needs to re-establish the pecking order.  I suspect he realizes that I, as her husband, am ultimately going to defer to her.  Thus, if he can be the boss of her, he gets me as the booby prize.  Despite our daytime truce, where he doesn't bite or go too crazy, and I don't have to scold him for it, when she comes home, all bets are off.  Over the last few days, I think I've heard her say "ow!" more often than over the course of our marriage.  (Does this mean we need to spice things up?)

What it has come down to is this: So much of my attention is turned over to him, that when I close my eyes I see a puppy doing the billion things that puppies do, whether infuriating, cute beyond measure, endearing, annoying or heart-warming.  In my experience, when I muffle a sense (by closing my eyes, or not listening to my surroundings, or ignoring the various textures that press against my skin) the thing that I imagine seeing, hearing, tasting, etc, is the most meaningful thing that sense has been experiencing lately, or at least the thing that is most on my mind.  In this case, the association is obvious.  Regardless of whether it's the feel of puppy fur, the sight of him at my feet, or even the sound of his barking, I have no doubt that these things will come to dominate my mind for some time to come.

(As for my nose, I might need to accelerate the house-breaking, since unconsciously conjuring the smell of puppy-poo is not exactly a bouquet of roses).