So I Got A Puppy And Here Is My Ever-So-Profound TED Talk.
I get that it’s hacky to write about how life changing getting a dog can be. I know that literally every writer has their version of “this is how a special bond with a four legged creature touched my heart and melted my dark artist’s soul”. I feel myself getting all cringe as I type this out, thinking about how many cliched ways you can describe how one little animal can make you slow down and “get back in touch with what really matters”, like so many amateur imagined manuscripts locked up in white collar brains.
So I’m not going to write that. What I will write is what I know about myself: I am a workaholic, and always have been. As Tik Tok has seemingly diagnosed me with ADHD, the cursed clock app has pointed out that, like many talented kids coming of age when I did, I tie my self worth to what I produce - what I can do or deliver or perform. About once a month, I think about how the joy of merely performing tasks and getting praise for it can make my day, and on the flip side, how one bad meeting (or finding out one person said something not-so-awesome about me to a higher up) can send me into a scattered place. My emotional permanence is decidedly im, and I can’t help but go through cycles of superhuman productivity and achievement followed by periods of existential angst and apathy. And I turn to work as a salve when I’m in a tough emotional spot, thus perpetuating the cycle. So when the going gets tough, Amy gets working - and burns herself out in the process.
I took Friday and Monday off to spend time with the little one (and yes, dear reader, you shall see a photo of her at the bottom of this post, to bribe you into consuming my self-indulgent prose) and I felt… bad about it. Anxious that I was away from my laptop.Distressed that I was letting people down for taking days off that are legally part of my compensation package. There’s that twitter meme out there that has a French out of office message essentially telling the emailer to eff right off, the recipient will be in their summer house for two months completely off the grid, while an American OOO says “sorry I’ve been shot, I’ll be unavailable while in surgery but promise I’ll be back online when I come out of anesthetic.” (Link above, but I’m keeping my recollection of it because I like it) The always-on struggle is real.
So back to the pup (I have a point, y’all, I promise.) Friend of the Missive Colin drove me to go get her, an eight-week-old Springerdoodle I’ve named Orca. And the minute I held her and realized how small and delicate she is, and that this tiny canine was now depending on me for food and water and shelter and socialization, my first thought was… how am I going to be able to take her out, or play with her, when I have six hours of back-to-back meetings every day? Even though I’m working from home, I was petrified I wouldn’t have time to take care of another living thing. And though past Amy had already weighed this over the past four months, looked at her calendar, determined the ways I could responsibly make out ownership work, all of that went out the window when I was suddenly very much responsible for the health and life of a living thing.
Now this is really off the rails, because here I am about to make a comparison of working too much to alcoholism, because that would be an extreme - and hacky - thing to do. But since I am mentioning it, in a very meta and personal way, I’m going to run with it. Because my all-or-nothing tendencies tend to either make me super successful, or break me (one of my favorite self-deprecating answers to the question “why did you quit drinking” is that I needed to let someone else be The Best Drinker for a change…) And this whole weekend as I’ve been watching for the tiniest indication she’s about to squat and pee so I can pick her up and whisk her to the patio to relieve herself (at eight weeks, she’s not fully vaccinated yet, so we’re being Parvo precautious) I think about how hard the now all-encompassing nature of work must be on parents, how exhausting it must be to be pulled between the two at all times. Because I’m not great at moderation: I am 0 or 100, in love or nonplussed, a master chef or unable to cook for myself.
I got a dog to help me find that balance. The above isn’t some clever profundity. None of it is new, and I am acutely self-aware of how trite it may read to people who don’t own dogs, or to people who own small humans (you must think I am out of my GD mind for writing about it the way I am, because my dependent doesn’t need to go to college some day.) Oh well! I need to find a way to continue the Missive whilst puppy potty training and getting back to work, so this is what you get today.
And in case you’re wondering, past Amy was kind to present Amy, because I looked at my calendar for this morning and realized that past Amy set aside time every three hours for puppy-related activity. So that’s a nice and hacky ending to the above.
Here’s your Puppy Tax for patience payment. Be kind to yourself.