Finally. Finally, I have graduated college and can now settle down and really focus on my work. You know, my writing. My novel which has been in the works for roughly fifteen years and is now half way done, that work. All the short stories that I started and stopped because I got busy with other things, like playing Barbies, and then going to frat parties, and then raising children, you know, that work. Oh—about those stories…so far the best one seems to be the one I started when I was eight about fish having a Halloween party— I definitely see some promise in that one. The others need some major reworking, but that’s okay because I am now a trained professional! I have a bachelor’s degree in writing! I am officially a Professional Writer.
And what’s the first thing a Professional Writer needs? A home office. I mean a real home office not one that consists of a murphy bed that is always in the down position even though the room has not hosted a guest in about three years but the cats really like it and I mean I may get a guest one day right? Plus it’s has a really convenient shelf behind it where I can set my solo cups full of Doritos, (I totally believe in portion control) while I lay there playing Candy Crush.
No, a Professional Writer needs a professional office and I spent my first week after graduation fixing mine up. First I treated myself to a beautiful rug in various shades of pink made of thousands of pieces of torn silk sewed into a handwoven mat. I got a cool white lacquer desk and faced it out towards the water knowing the gulf’s creative energy would flow towards me. Of course I cannot just sit at a desk all day, I need to take reading breaks. As a Professional Writer, I need to read what is on the NYT best sellers list every week, like those books are so great compared to what I’M going to put out there now that I am a Professional Writer. Anyway, as a graduation gift M bought me a great easy chair that lies back with lumbar support and everything. Perfect for reading. I got a wireless printer so that I can print out book contracts and sign and scan them back once the brilliant Professional Writer’s lawyer that I will hire checks it out and gives me the okay. Everything in place and ready.
Still, believe it or not, after all that, something was missing. It still felt empty, not quite professional enough. I sat at my desk to contemplate it and then I sat in my easy chair and pondered and finally, I knew what it needed—a dog. I need a big floppy dog sitting at my feet while I write my best seller. Maybe I will even dedicate the book to him! People love that right? To My Faithful Companion Who Always Believed— My best friend at my feet as I construct my masterpiece. He will walk the red carpet with me at the movie premiere as that skinny Giuliana Rancic asks me where I got the idea for such a great story and thanks me on behalf of the literary world for bringing such joy to readers everywhere. I so need a dog!
I could see it very clearly, our daily routine. We rise early and take a brisk walk, stopping to look at all the exotic Florida birds as they flutter above and call to us. Then we return and I make myself a big cup of steaming coffee and together we head into my office where doggie lays down in his bed and I get to work. We take a lunch break out back and toss the ball a few times before settling back down for our afternoon of writing. Before we know it the day is over and doggie settles down in his crate for the night. He’s the ying to my yang. We’re soul mates.
So, I got a puppy.
Reuben is an Australian Labradoodle with a dark red silky coat and brown eyes like chocolate pudding. He is sweet as can be. We got him when he was eight weeks old. He is now eleven weeks old and just as I had anticipated, we have established a routine. It does, however, vary slightly from the one I had outlined above.
We do rise early, about 5:42 most mornings, after a good solid three hours of sleep. Since it is still dark out, we usually forgo the brisk walk. I stand in the yard in old shorts and a t-shirt (once due to crippling fatigue, I forgot the shorts so now I just sleep in them. Okay, and spend most of the next day in them, so?) trying to see if Reuben is pooping and hoping that what I’m feeling on my foot is not a snake or water rat. Then we head inside and play fetch with a $1.59 plastic cat toy that he has chosen to love over the hundreds of dollars of organically made dog toys we purchased at the all natural- everything made of plants- no child labor-pet store.
At around 7 am, Reuben starts showing signs of fatigue by lying on my feet and biting my ankles and calves. At that point I make my steaming cup of coffee and we head into my office. Reuben runs in first because he knows his Kong stuffed with peanut butter from like two weeks ago is in there somewhere. He is hot on the trail though neither one of us has found it yet. I close the door and run to the bathroom as I haven’t had a chance to do that yet, what with all the pooping and fetching and everything. Once I return, I pick up all the shredded pieces of silk that he has torn from my rug during my two minute absence and put them in the trash can. I was thinking of saving them and having them resewed but…fuck it.
Then I sit down and turn on my computer just as Reuben remembers he has to tinkle but forgets where the back door is, even though he knows he is supposed to go to that door and ring the poochie bells to let us know he needs to relieve himself. Unfortunately, as my soul mate he too thinks, “fuck it” and pisses on a now bald patch of rug. I try to clean that up and we make a game of it! I spray disinfectant and he bites my hand and takes the rag and runs around and around with it! Hysterical!
At 9 am we both fall into a fitful sleep me half on my bed with my hand hanging down towards the floor clutching a deer antler that people swore would keep him busy for hours, and Reuben not in his crate but next to it as he seems to find the crate a bit too confining, even though we got the really good one with the metal bars so he can see us at all times with the padded bottom and even bought extra padding to make it nice and comfy. It’s okay, I get it. He just wants to be near me, his soul mate. The ying, the yang, blah blah blah.
I will say that this morning we veered off our usual routine as we were lucky enough to witness a very rare occurrence. Reuben and I were sitting outside just as the sun was beginning to peek up through the palm trees when I heard a sort of loud rustling crash. And I looked up and saw a beautiful pelican sitting on the grass. I will tell you its not often one of these majestic birds ever lands on grass, they usually swoop and dive and land on a dock post. I thought “Well this is magical!” And there is no one I’d rather share the experience with than my faithful companion Reuben. I slowly approached the magnificent bird. “Hi pretty bird, such a pretty bird, “ I uttered softly. “Have you come to say hello to Reuben?” “Reuben!” I called. “Come see the pretty bird!”
And as Reuben approached I noticed a rather glassy film across the bird’s eyes. And then I noticed flies buzzing around it’s head and just as Reuben got close I realized THE BIRD IS DEAD! “Reuben look away!” I yelled. “Get back! Get back!” I screamed and then began yelling all the commands we learned in our 30 minute free introductory puppy class:” Leave it! Down! Sit, Reuben Sit! No! No! Reuben Watch me! Watch mommy Reuben! Off! Off!” and this went on until Reuben noticed we had laid new mulch under the hibiscus trees and went to deal with that.
This Professional Writer stuff is way harder than it looks. But I will persevere and if it is the last thing I do, I will make sure those fish have a Halloween party that will definitely go down in the books.
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