Hello Korio
01. 01. 2016

I had to make sure 2015 was well and truly out of tricks before I could write this post. Normally, I don’t really feel the transitions between years is much of a thing. Not that it’s an ACTUAL THING for most other people, either, but it’s a non-event for me. No staying up til midnight, no parties, no resolutions, no new plans. Just keeping on keeping on. This time, though, we’re all greatly in need of a fresh start. We’ve actually had one, really, and things are going well, but I this year, I just really needed to slam the door on 2015 officially and MOVE ON.

I don’t want to do the survey this year and I’ll probably regret that sometime down the line where there’s a year missing from my collection of surveys to look back on, but I’m just not into it. Instead, I’ll just tell you how everyone is.

Brinkley. Oh guys, my dog. Two years ago, he broke his leg on Christmas and he hasn’t caught a break since. Aural hematoma, valley fever, an enormous abscess in his leg. He made it through most of 2015 just fine, until the day I took him in to the vet because he was breathing fast. Something just wasn’t right, but I didn’t know what. Well, after a series of frustrating and upsetting events involving getting him a special appointment at a far away vet for an ultrasound, and then that vet coming all the way down the mountain to town to see him, after hours, WITH her ultrasound machine, we found out it was cancer. A LOT of cancer. This was in the late summer. They said they’d rarely seen a liver like his before – just completely invaded, no normal liver tissue left to be seen in any significant amount. It was starting into his spleen as well. After biopsies and blood work came back, it was confirmed – much, much cancer.

They said we were looking at 2-3 months. It felt like we’d lose him at any minute. But time went on and Brinkley went on. And on. And on. Medication adjustments happened a couple of times. Increases in pain medication as his arthritis took a major turn for the worse. We took him off his valley fever medication, even though it meant the disease would likely make a comeback, because it’s a very rough medication for him to take. It was a calculated decision, because we didn’t think he’d make it much longer, certainly not long enough for the valley fever to take over again. And then again, more increases in pain medication.

You know, he’s good. He’s slow and he’s in pain, but he’s still normal Brinkley. It’s hard for him to get up, but he totally will, if you’ve got pizza crust. He instigates play fighting with Sheldon and we’re terrified he’ll break a hip. He spends a lot of time laying in a hole he and Sheldon dug in the backyard. Over the last couple of days, especially, he looks tired and sad a lot, like he knows and he’s just waiting to die in his hole. But everyone said “you’ll know when it’s time,” and you know what, we don’t know that yet. He’s still with us and we’ve had double the time predicted. Brinkley 2016!

I don’t think it will be much longer, but I’ve thought that before. I just don’t know, really. I don’t know at all. But I’m happy he’s here with us and he seems happy to be with us, so we go on.

Sheldon. Well, Sheldon spent the beginning part of last year healing from the brown recluse bite he got near the end of the year before. Other than that, he’s just a good dog. He’s a little crazy, and we can’t let him out around guests or new people because he’s enthusiastic and nuts and doesn’t know he weighs 80 lbs, but he’s surprised us.

Sheldon was a terrible dog when we got him from a rescue. Already 60 lbs at 8 months old, he’d never lived with people at all before. Just kennels and shelters. And if I’d been pregnant when we got him, he’d have had to leave. He tackled me to the ground regularly. He bit my arms – never aggressively, just playing, but he was 60 lbs with no idea how to control himself. I wouldn’t say he was a “dangerous” dog like the type that kill other animals and people if they can, but he was… not good. He took a long time to calm down. A really, really long time. Multiple years. Even now, if he gets excited – which he does, often – he will jump up and punch you affectionately in the guts, or knock you over. But he also is affectionate. He’s big enough to just walk up and lay his head across your belly when you lay on the couch. He will get in your lap if you let him. He loves us a lot, especially Phil. Especially Phil. In Sheldon’s mind, the house hierarchy goes Phil, then Sheldon, then no one else matters.

It kind of crept up on us, but he’s turned out to be such a great dog. Not everyone’s cup of tea, to be sure, but he doesn’t need to be, because he’s our dog. He’s handsome and goofy and he doesn’t intentionally knock anyone down anymore. He takes (steals) food right from Penny’s hands, so gently. He’s never hurt her or needed to be prevented from hurting her like we would have feared when we first got him. He’s usually (“usually”) quiet and calm. He loves blankies and carries them around. If someone comes to the house, the first thing he will do is run and get a blankie and try to bring it. He’s quirky and interesting and I don’t know when it happened, but Phil hasn’t sung the “Nobody likes you, Sheldon” song in maybe a year. I think he’ll have a hard time when Brinkley’s time comes.

Penelope. Well. Penny went to pre-k this year, and loved it. Then we ended up putting her in before/after daycare, and she loves that, too. The social stuff stresses me out – she always has reports of who was mean to her or who doesn’t like her anymore, but you know, I”m sure other kids are at home saying the same stuff about her. She’s got a couple good friends that have stayed consistent, even when she comes home and swears she’ll never play with them again, so I assume all is as it should be.

She’s learned a lot in pre-k. Letters, numbers, colors, all of that, and that’s great. But they do other things, too, just great socialization stuff that makes me really have no regrets about her being away for the whole day. They eat meals family style, everyone at one table and sharing food. She cleans up her plate and tries new foods. She learns manners and sharing and how to behave at a table. All stuff that we, of course, have worked on at home, but when it comes from the teachers she adores, it seems to sink in more. Again, just how things are supposed to be, probably.

She got taller this year. Every year, I think she looks more like a kid and less like a baby or toddler, but now it’s really true, I guess. She seems so big, but she’s just average size, all around. I think she actually might be one of the smaller kids in the pre-k class, but whatever, she looks huge to me. She dresses herself – often and repeatedly throughout the day – and the other day, she yelled out from the shower that she’d washed her own hair and added, “I growed up all by myself!”

She didn’t have any major injuries this year, which was great. No real illness, either, until the end of the year, which I’ve detailed here in great, frustrating detail. She is finally, finally better, but now we’re dealing with mystery hives. They first appeared after we met the cat on Christmas eve, and I though, well shit. But they’ve continued to pop up here and there, well after the cat contact and multiple baths and showers. Nothing serious or crazy, but she’s allergic to something and we have no idea what.

She played a lot of video games this year and continues to enjoy them greatly, much to Phil’s delight. They’re downstairs playing Rock Band together right now. She turned 4 on her birthday and had her first little party with friends. We got her a bounce house I was sure would be a hit and it wasn’t. She’s just not that into it. She was a veterinarian for Halloween, though she couldn’t really trick or treat due to illness. She got a drum set and microphone for Christmas from her aunt and her boyfriend and they’re obnoxious but she enjoys the hell out of them.

Fortunately, aside from starting pre-k, there’s been nothing huge going on in Penny’s life, and it can stay that way for a thousand years.

Phil. Well, Phil can tell you himself how his year went, if he feels like it, which he won’t. I will say that he had the worst year out of all of us, and no one knew how terrible it was. He’s worked hard to resolve things, though.

Me. Well, what did I do this year. I struggled a lot with chronic illness, but I’m doing fairly well right now. Not perfect, not great, but better than a lot of the last couple of years, so I’m taking advantage of it as much as I can. I lost 50 lbs this year, which makes me slightly bummed that I’m not doing the survey, because I’d finally get to say “thinner,” in the thinner/fatter question. I started a new at home job this year that I didn’t hate, but kind of eventually came to hate but tolerate, but I lost it because Phil was away for the very part of the year when Penelope was so sick, and I ended up unable to fulfill my contract. I took another job out of the house, though – just quick service food on base – and I’m very pleased. I pretty much only make enough to cover the cost of daycare, but it’s a sanity thing, and I’m really enjoying it. I’m surprised how much I’m enjoying it, actually. I like to work. I was ready to be out of the house. It’s convenient and the people are nice. It’s busy and the time goes by quickly. I’m not terrible at it. It’s fine that it only pays for daycare, really, because it’s doing a lot for me. I like Penny to see that I go to work and I don’t hate it. Phil appreciates how much I appreciate being able to do it. It’s a good thing in a lot of ways.

Hm, what else. Right now, we’re researching buying a Vespa for me. I’m also considering the Genuine Stella and the Genuine Buddy. Hopefully we’ll make some progress on that this month, because I am jazzed as fuck to scoot. I’m going to join a scooter gang.

Last year, I went to CA with some friends to see BIGBANG, and it was probably the highlight of my year by far. I know a lot of people have touched on this in their year end stuff, but seriously, FIND PEOPLE who are stupid enthusiastic about the stuff you’re into. If you want to know someone more or be better friends with someone, LET THEM drag you into whatever they’re stupid enthusiastic about. You will become much better friends much faster. If YOU’RE crazy into something, keep offering it up to people. Just do it. Only good shit is going to come from it. There is NOTHING more fun than going whole ham over something with people who are equally ham-mad about it.

Last year, I had all kinds of amazing support from all kinds of amazing people who tailored their support to who I am. People who know me and apparently like me and just always made sure I knew they were there and they were listening and they were ready to help me if I wanted or needed it. There have been people this year who have demonstrated what my own model for good friendship should be going forward. It’s almost enough to make me hope something very mildly terrible happens to them so I can demonstrate all I’ve learned. Almost.

Nothing else is really sticking out in my mind for 2015. Another year, another spinal tap, plus some other stuff. It seems like every year, everyone talks about how hard the previous year was for them or the people they know, how it was universally just a terrible year. And the next one is always the same – a healthy dose of bad shit that stands out sprinkled in with everything else. And 2016 will probably be the same. Maybe, though, 2016 is the year where it matters less or I handle it better or bounce back more quickly. Because while I truly want 2016 to be the first just… normal, boring, standard kind of year Phil and I have ever experienced in our entire marriage, the truth is the last several have probably been exactly that. In 2016, I guess we’ll stop waiting for the bad stuff to pass and start plowing through with PURPOSE AND INTENT.

I don’t know. I can’t wrap this up with something wise and pithy. Let me just tell you again, instead – BE ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT SHIT. BE ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT SHIT WITH OTHER PEOPLE. BE SHAMELESS IN ENJOYING THE SHIT OUT OF YOUR THING. THIS WAY LIES THE GOOD STUFF.