Friday, August 31, 2007

I am gray

I am fluid, a thought, a flicker of moonlight in rippling water; I cannot be pinned down to one career, idea, notion, because I wax and wane, changing perspectives. Gray is where I like to sit.

I am multi-faceted; I can be an advocate, an artist, a layman, a poet, a musician, an athlete. I am fortunate, flexible, infinite.

I know less and less about more and more. Because things are fluid, multi-faceted, changing, gray. I question more of the things I used to think I knew: is it right or just dictated? Why? How?

What I know is this:
1. I am a mother. I love my babies; I might not always be the best mother, but I do the best I can.
2. I know I am open: open book, open heart, open eyes, open mind.
3. I know nothing pisses me off more than injustice and people/entities/"policies" trying to control me, mold me, change who I am, what I like and can do.
4. I know I will fight like a crazed animal against time, against stereotypes, against a lack of respect for all people/animals/ideas.
5. I know I will love you like no other, keep you safe, satiated, warm, defend you like a mother bear and love you with a passion you've never seen
6. I know I am returning to myself. I left for a long time, submerged in a world of "logic" and "statistical analysis" and black and white. But
7. I am gray. I do not belong here. I belong back with my self.

Why give up "self" for safety, i.e. marriage, career, policies, rules, norms? The worst crime is to violate that which you truly believe.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Barbie and Ken go to the Lazy Husky Ranch!

Last night, we brought the dogs in for vaccinations. Six dogs and 12 needles. Quite crazy. From all the craziness, we accidentally fell asleep early. Chris fell asleep on the couch, forgetting to put the dogs outside for the night.

Apparently there was a dog party at the Lazy Husky Ranch late last night: we woke up this morning to stuff torn up everywhere. Toys, shredded toilet paper, torn up diaper wipes, chewed up pen caps (oh, no: that was Chris). They raided the microwave cart to get the cereal underneath it, and they especially enjoyed beach time Barbie and Ken, who are now amputees.

Here's a lesson for all plastic dolls out there: stay away from the Lazy Husky Ranch! (I always hated Barbie anyway).

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Selling out

Why is it necessary to give up so much of our individuality for a decent career? Who dictates ultimately what's "appropriate" and what's not?

I have a tiny jeweled 14 k gold stud on the right side of my nose. Even my 65 year old mother thinks it's classy and pretty. But I was written up for it at work a few weeks ago. My supervisor, who never had any interest in talking much to me before this, suddenly notices me because of this tiny piece of jewelry. I replaced it with a plastic stud made specifically for working people, and she still demanded I remove it. "You can still see it," she said, scrunching up her face squeamishly. Emphatically, she continued, "You're going into physician's offices."

"Are you suggesting physicians will respect me and what I have to bring them less because of a tiny piece of jewelry on my nose?"

Cut to the chase. What is this really about? One person's idea of what's appropriate not meeting another's; one person relying on the scapgoat of "policy" to keep their lives predictable and not force them to confront the fact that they're prejudice, simple-minded and lack diversity.

What's ironic is "cultural diversity" is the catch phrase in the corporate world these days. But God forbid we push the societal notions of acceptance and what's "normal" too far with a tiny piece of jewelry on someone's nose.

I have a little sign on my office door at work that says, "Gone Running Will return at" and there's a poseable clock wheel so you can change it to whatever time you will return. I use it when I go to the gym on my lunch hour to let people know when I'll be back. Now I'm told today by this same supervisor that she thinks it "sends the wrong message," and that I should "take it down."

What message is it sending? That I work in healthcare and care about my own health?

I give up. I cannot sell out to this entity. It asks me to give up too much of myself, what I am, enjoy, believe in. I am beginning to build up my freelance writing portfolio. If you know anyone who needs some freelance work, let me know.

Monday, August 27, 2007

"What's for Supper" event

I worked at a health fair today at the new Akron Urban League building. The fair was created as a partnership program between Akron General and the Akron Metropolitain Housing Authority (AMHA), and was only open to those who live in AMHA housing – aka "the projects." The Urban League building is on the grounds of a former playground/ballfield, next to the projects, in a predominantly African American part of town on Vernon Odom Blvd.

Looking around at the various "vendors" at the fair compared to the people attending the fair, I couldn't help but notice an obvious disparity. It was like "white people bringing minorities stuff" day. A demonstration of the "haves" and the "have nots." Behind the tables for vendors sat the privileged: the college-educated white people. Invariably, people of color were on the other side of the table, Latinos and African Americans mostly. School supplies, food, books, glucose and cholesterol screenings and information on health care and child care programs and even groceries were given out for free.

I remember when I was fourteen when my parents had no furniture and we got cheese from the cheese line (they still had cheese lines then). I remember wearing the same clothes several times a week because I didn't have a lot, and washing them in the bathtub, drying them with a bath towel (I learned the way to roll the clothes up in the towel to soak the water out) because we didn't have a washer, dryer or money for the laundr-o-mat. It's amazing kids didn't make fun of me; maybe that's how I learned to develop character.

The experience was humbling for me, but I wonder how my life had turned out had my parents never gotten on their feet? Would I have lived in AMHA housing? Would I have gone to college?

A black woman with an Outkast t-shirt stands with her three kids at a table collecting school supplies. I hear her announce to the white person behind the table she has two first graders and a second grader, then she quickly reprimands one of the children who are milling around excitedly under her feet.
"Move out the way! I will do this!" she booms. The kids become silent. She looks hardened; she walks with a swagger that says, "don't mess with me." Her kids, two boys and a girl, all walk with the same swagger. Her bottom lip juts out slightly, and her straightened black hair hangs stiffly to her shoulders. Despite her and her children's tough exterior, I can tell this is like Christmas in August for them.

A middle-aged white man with a black polo shirt and tan khakis walks around taking pictures and smiling. He looks proud of himself, as if his photographic documentary of this philanthropic generosity is somehow bettering the world.

A fresh young pretty white girl from the Metro Housing Authority asks a corn-row wearing black girl, who looks to be about 10, what grade she's going to be in. The black girl just stares blankly at her without offering an answer. The pretty girl hands her a spiral bound notebook and moves on to the next corn-row wearing youngster.

It's a steady stream of corn-rows and dark skin. The children are amazingly well-behaved as they sit politely with their respective families awaiting dinner or quietly gather school supplies from tables.

Monday, August 20, 2007

There Are No Strays: Part I

It was gray, so gray the streetlights came on at noon. Rain pelted the windshield, and I followed the flickering red taillight of an armored car in front of me like a beacon. It was a cold day, the kind where it’d be perfect to huddle next to a hot cup of coffee and watch life go by from behind a window. But I couldn’t stop; I had a dog to meet.

Someone had called me about the husky because of my sled dog team. He was hunched down next to a SuperAmerica station, wet, shaking, skinny. He was friendly enough, and welcomed the attention of the hot-dog-toting clerk eagerly. He was red with light blue eyes, and taller than a standard male husky; he was gorgeous. I would eventually learn his name was Cyan.

Ivy, the founder of an animal rescue group I had been working with, told me “Do not search for his owner!" She barked emphatically through the phone, "If his owner cared about him, he wouldn’t be loose. I’ve never sought out an owner.”

But Cyan stayed with us for several days, frolicking with my own huskies. He wasn't a good eater, but had lots of energy and was in good spirits and got along well with everyone most of the time. He had several wounds on his back, I assumed from a pellet gun. People use strays for target practice often. As it happened, I did locate his owner, who did, in fact, have a “lost pet” ad out for him in the paper and on flyers around town. They were reunited and are doing well still.

Save a stray. The idea looks well-meaning on the surface. But, here’s the thing: if it weren’t for people, there wouldn’t be any strays.

Dogs evolved from wild canines: wolves, coyotes, dingos, foxes, etc. If left to their own devices, dogs would get along quite well in the world without us, despite what we'd like to believe. The idea of a “stray” is one that is subject to our definitions of it. It’s loaded with our grandiose notions of ourselves. "Stray" is a symbiotic relationship. There cannot be a “stray” without a symbiotic “person” on the other end. What seems like a stray might be an animal in a perfect state of harmony with its environment, even if that environment happens to be an urban ghetto. The notion of “stray” is solely dependent on us. By domesticating animals, we subject them to dependency.
* * * *
Coyote started showing up again in my suburban neighborhood a couple years ago, and initially people freaked out. A coyote reportedly killed someone's kitten, one attacked a hen.

But there is an order to the natural world that exists independent of us. Things are born; things die. Things hunt and kill other things. This is how it is. To intervene in the natural order of things is to play God. I have no interest in playing God, because frankly, nothing good ever comes from our attempts to intercept the scheme of things.

Things unfold as they should. They were set in motion long ago, long before us, and they'll go on long after us. We leave merely the tiniest impression on anything. We are but ants: at any moment, our tiny lives could end with the appathetic, insignificant step on our squashed heads.

To think that we can save anything or anyone from the perils of any other thing, i.e. stray animals, smoking, etc is a delusion of grandeur in the highest sense.

I just want to live and be as content as possible in the moment, where I am. Sometimes I have a difficult time doing that, but in hindsight, I have the most difficulty when I try to intervene. For example:

We woke this weekend camping to a wonderful rain: a steady but gentle rain pittering on the canvas rooftop. I lay in my new artic rated sleeping bag (which I had to strip half way through the night!) cozy and completely content. The kids slept in, and so we did too. My dog was curled up at my feet.

When it came time to break camp, I put on a sweatshirt, pulled my hair back, put on a hat, and went to work. There was no sense cursing the weather, because weather is indifferent. So I worked happily. Later, I would dry off. Later, I'd be warm.

Had I fought this, what would I have accomplished? Frustration, angst, misery. "To end suffering, end desire." Just be.

Today it rains still. And I am happy to feel it fall on my face. It is gray outside, but gray is just a color. I am going to run, and when I run, I don't think about the miles or my knees or how I can't go on: I just run. To think about it ruins it.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


"Summertime and the livin' is easy. The fish are jumping now, and the cotton is high....One of these mornings, you're gonna rise up singing. Hush, baby, don't you cry."

I don't know who said summertime is easy! We've been so busy, I can't even keep up!

First, it's official: the Lazy Husky Ranch is officially a kennel, proper. We received our kennel license in the mail last week. To celebrate, I ordered vaccines for all the dogs tonight online. We're trying to think of a name for our "kennel" now because the Lazy Husky Ranch just doesn't seem to have much of a competitve sounding edge for a sleddog kennel! :-)

In other news, Chris played at the barn jam recently, the only place he's played for awhile. It felt really good for him to play -- so good, he played and played and played. When I see him play, I remember why I fell in love with him. It was nice watching him, and the kids had a great time. Here are some pictures from the show.

Elise got to play drums for the first time in her cognizant life. She had a great time. Click here to see a video of her playing.

We also recently took the dogs to a new place nearby called Bow Wow Beach, a little fenced in lake dedicated solely to dogs. They had a blast! Summit County is so fortunate to have a great place like this. Check out the pics.
In other news, we're preparing more and more for upcoming training season. I am so excited, I can't stop thinking about the upcoming winter. I will make the trek up to the Upper Peninsula this October for Nature's Kennel's annual "So Mush Fun" weekend October 12-14 and will bring home another Shaw dog. She will join our team for the Tahquanmenon Falls Sleddog race and Jack Pine 30 this winter.
So much going on, I had to regretably discontinue donating free grooming and such to Heaven Can Wait rescue. I've donated hundreds of dollars in supplies and grooming to that organization over the last year. Unfortunately, Heather Nagel didn't take the news too well. She writes to me (spelling and grammatical errors intact):
"I do have a handful of attorneys at my diposal and if I find out from any source at any moment that you are slandering Heaven Can Wait or myself, I will take legal action. You will LOSE anything you have or ever will have and will regret opening your uneducated unstable mouth."
And her mother, Pat, writes to me: "I do believe you have a serious jealousy issue with Heaven Can Wait, Heather and I. I don't think you have it in you to even comprehend compassion and caring. That may be one reason you are so hostle. Are you jealous that Heather is going into the real estate business? Not everyone is real estate savy, and just because you are not, do not be angry at those who are.
"Shannon, I am sorry you have done nothing with your life. You are miserable, and it shows."
Wow. I guess their compassion doesn't extend to humans.
Stay tuned for more news from the Lazy Husky Ranch soon!