1 Jan 2014

Year of the Dog

Last New Year's Eve wasn't a particularly happy one. I had just returned from a nice Christmas with my parents but brought an awful cold home with me. I therefore decided to stay in that night rather than infect anyone else (not that I had massive New Year's plans anyway, truth be told).

I didn't feel like I had a whole lot to look forward to in the New Year. I was weeks away from handing over all my money to someone who had betrayed me, all in order to keep the home that *I* had bought. I was stewing over the unfairness of it all; the consequence he faced for breaking our vows was walking away richer. But mostly, I felt like a moron for ever trusting him in the first place. I should have known. I should have never bailed him out of trouble those times. I should have insisted on a pre-nup. I should have dumped him when he never came home that one night. I should have left when he showed up late to our very first date. I should have, I should have ...

I was calmly and dignifiedly wallowing in these thoughts on that New Year's evening when a minor incident turned me into a sobbing mess of First World self-pity:

While attempting to put a new bulb in the overhead porch light, the entire thing came down except for the electrical wires that kept the heavy fixture precariously clinging to the ceiling of my porch. The sky was quickly darkening as I stood on my step ladder holding the glass fixture over my head. As my hands were busy, my nose took it as an opportunity to drip uncontrollably, stinging and chapping my upper lip. Over and over again, I tried to get the damn fixture up without success. Gloves made it impossible to feel the spot where the light was supposed to latch onto, so I stubbornly kept at it even though my bare fingers were numb from the December cold.

After an hour of frustrating effort, I was forced to leave the stupid fixture hanging there, where it swung about in the growing wind. I thought a flurried gust would surely pull the fixture too hard, the wiring would get ripped out, and an electrical fire would somehow ensue. I would die stupid and alone and the ex would walk away with the insurance money because the house hadn't been fully transferred into my name yet.

The last part, especially, made me mad.

And so I cried.

I wondered why I was fighting so hard and relinquishing every bit of savings I had (and didn't have) in order to keep a house I was too inept to manage. I mean, I couldn't even change a lightbulb properly! I wondered why I was the one who had to deal with this shit by herself. Why was I the only one dealing with consequences. And why the fuck was I financing his latest romantic getaways. I wondered how I got myself into this stupid position with the stupid light fixture and stupid house and stupid life to begin with. At one point, I'm pretty sure I even screamed, "WHY!?!" in a moment of ridiculous drama that puts Darth Vader to shame.

And that's how I ended 2012: screaming and crying my sorry ass to sleep.

The next day was infinitely better. With the promise of a new year, the arrival of a morning's light, and a build-up of mass hysteria purged from my system, I conquered the porch fixture. I never could get it back up, but thanks to phone consultations with my dad, a friend's husband, and the Internet (the trifecta!), I figured out how to turn off the power, remove the connected wiring from the fixture, and cap the wires. ALL BY MYSELF. I even took a frigging picture of it.

I capped those wires. Yes, yes I did.

(Mind you, I didn't replace the light until later in the spring, but that's not the point.)

It's amazing what not feeling helpless will do for a person, and that's something I've taken with me since that night.

But onto the real point of this post ...

Even though I didn't know it at the time, The Great Removal of the Porch Light wasn't the best thing to have happened that day. I wouldn't realize until months later that something else fantastic occurred on January 1, 2013.

You see, my sweet Huck, the heartbeat at my feet, is a New Year's baby. Somewhere around the time that I was figuring out my breaker panel, my darling little dog was being born.

The rescue organization took him in right away that day. He looked like this but smaller:

And last night, curled on my bed as the old year softly drifted away, he looked like this:

While this New Year's Eve was another quiet night in, it wasn't sad. It wasn't helpless. It wasn't drowning in self-pity. It wasn't wasted thinking bitterly about exes and poor decisions made.

It was gratefully spent with one of the best little treasures to enter my life. It was serene. It was warm. It was a happy New Year's.

What a difference a year makes.

If you've seen my Instagram feed, the fact that I love my dog should come as no surprise. I am, undoubtedly, obsessed with this little mutt of mine.

While I have many other people and things I appreciate, love and am overwhelmingly grateful for this year (including the best family ever, terrific friends, a good job, my health, a home of my own, and my first ever food garden), Huck / Huckers / Huck McDuck / Huckleberry / Dr. Huckstable / The Mother Hucker has been this year's standout.

He makes me laugh. He's forced me to become patient. He's taught me to let go. He's shown me how to enjoy the moment. He gives me the best excuses to stop what I'm doing and play.

He is 65 pounds of unconditional love.

Today, on his first birthday, I'm making it all about him. We're about to hit the dog park. And then nap. And then play catch. And then eat treats, nap and play some more, including goofing around with the toys that annoyingly squeak. I'll even feed him his fave, tripe (or as I call it, Death in a Can). And we'll hang by the window and get mad at all the cats that dare to enter our fields of vision. And maybe a last-minute walk. And then we'll call it a day - a very good day.

Happy New Year to you. Happy birthday, dear pal. You've made my year.


selinayoung 2:44 pm, January 01, 2014  

What a great post Jen!! Happy Birthday Huck!!! So happy for you and Huck. He is as lucky to have you as you are to have him.

Shelley Aylesworth-Spink,  10:50 am, January 02, 2014  

What an awesome story - such an inspiration! Nigel and I are wondering if Huck has Rhodesian Ridgeback in him (looks like he has a ridge down his back) along with some other African breed that accounts for those terrific ears...

Susan 11:01 am, January 02, 2014  

You are a brave soul! Love this post and as usual your way of telling your story is inspirational.

Jen 9:43 am, January 03, 2014  

Thanks, all!

Shelley - I think you're the third person to guess that Huck is part Rhodesian Ridgeback - so maybe! (That said, the hair growing along his spine is going in the same direction as the rest of his hair, so it might just be his coat's colouring that's giving that effect?) My sister (who is living in Uganda right now) also mentioned that Huck looks a lot like the dogs roaming around her city, so you might be right with the African origins as well!

EleanorMagpie 6:51 pm, January 04, 2014  

So nice to hear you're in a better place than this time last year. So nice to have such a wonderful friend in Huck. You look absolutely happy in that first picture (and really cute too)!

Sarah 4:55 pm, January 07, 2014  

Great post! Happy new year to you and Huckster!

OdetoMrs.KatzCohn 12:13 pm, January 15, 2014  

Jen, it's so great to see that you're happy and adjusting to unmarried life so well! I started reading your blog way back when you did the '50s housewife experiment. It was hilarious but I'm glad you're doing even better in 2014.

Happy belated birthday, Huck!! What a cutie. :)


Anonymous,  6:29 pm, May 11, 2014  

Hi jen just came across your blog huck is a very handsome boy you are so lucky i have almost the twin of him here in portugal our zemy is now 7 also a rescue we have had him from a year old he is same size same colouring except a white stripe down his nose and white socks but also with those increadable ears he is a portugese podengo with a little staffordshire terrier that makes him broader rather than sleek they are the native hunting dogs here and i think you are correct in thinking huck is from an african breed will try amd send a pic once im back on my laptop good luck with huck

Carol,  9:07 am, March 16, 2015  

Hi Jen, I'm coming very late to the party here. I first came across your blog of the 50s Housewife Experiment, which I read over several days and loved (even sneaked a 5 minute peek during work hours one day to calm and settle my irritated nerves after a *very* annoying situation!). Then I found this entry. I am so sorry for what you've had to go through (had a similarly horrible New Years Day a few years ago, so sympathise entirely), but *so* happy you've got this wonderful hound in your life! May you both keep each other happy and entertained for many years to come :)

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Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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