The Syrians are coming! The Syrians are coming!

Over the holidays, I was seated beside a lovely fellow at a get together. Out of nowhere, he said he didn’t understand why Muslim women had to wear head coverings now that they were living in Canada. “They should dress more like us,” he said. Then, to my alarm, he added, “We won’t be able to tell if they are terrorists.” Whoa! I wasn’t expecting that.

I challenged him politely, suggesting I thought everybody should be able to choose the way they dressed. Maybe I was too polite, though, because he then asked me if I agreed with him. I fumbled. I didn’t want to offend someone I’d known for a long time and would likely see again, but I strongly disagreed, and told him so. The conversation was unsettling.

I frequently interact with Muslim women wearing traditional garb in my day-to-day life. They may be students at the university who pet Jelly during her visits, or professional women, or moms shopping with their children at the grocery store. I’ve never worried that they were terrorists because of the way they were dressed. Why would I? We’re all more similar than different.

Thank goodness my unsettling experience was followed by a quick counterexample. Thank goodness I volunteered at Canadian Blood Services on New Year’s Day. For weeks now, the volunteers had been reminded that a large group of recent Syrian immigrants would be donating blood that day for the first time in Canada.

When I arrived, the clinic was hopping. I’ve never seen it so busy. Syrians filled every donor bed. Giving blood is ingrained in the Syrian culture because of all the political unrest: when they were back home, they never knew when a sister or child or friend might need blood, so they gave just in case. They may have donated blood regularly in Syria, but they were out of practice since their arrival here.

The Syrian group was accompanied by a bevy of interpreters to ensure they understood the process. There was genuine warm camaraderie amongst the (mostly) men. It was a social outing for them, a time to hang out with friends. I couldn’t understand their language, but it looked like some donors were being chided by the others for being nervous. Each donor had the company of a friend or two to chat with while he gave. We volunteers were to provide refreshments to these donors after they’d finished donating.

I am pleased to report I didn’t spot one terrorist among the group. These were warm, friendly fellows who seemed happy to be there that day and grateful for the chance to socialize with fellow Syrians. Whatever stresses they’d surely endured since arriving in Canada seemed irrelevant for that short time. They were simply enjoying the company of compatriots.

I wasn’t the greatest volunteer that day. I was too busy tearing up. I was astounded by the generosity of this group of newcomers. It was quite a sight to see such a crowd making an effort to give back to the country that had welcomed them. Know that I’ll gladly take your blood if I need it, Syrians. I, for one, thank you for donating.

Nurse with Syrian blood donor making peace sign as he donates

Advertisements

New Year, Same Old Me

Typewriter with paper typed: New Year, Chapter One

Have you noticed I’ve been quiet on the blogging front? You know my motto: If I don’t have anything to say, I don’t say anything at all. I wanted to come up with a compelling post that would provide inspiration for the year ahead, but I drew a blank. I decided to wait until inspiration struck.

I can’t come up with a decent New Year’s resolution, despite asking everyone around me for their resolutions so I could steal their ideas. I envy people who say, “I don’t make resolutions.” Why do I get caught up in this absurdity every year?

In 2017, I had resolved to be happy with myself the way I was. You’d have to ask J. how successful I was at this goal; I’m not the best judge. Nonetheless, I intend to reinstate the self-acceptance resolution again this year. Let’s assume I am the best me I can be at this time, and that I’ll do what I can to maintain that me going forward. I’ll take care of my body, be kind to myself and others, and stop apologizing for my existence. The third one will be the most challenging for me.

But I can’t merely recycle old resolutions; I have to add something new, so here it is: I hereby resolve to jump off the health-catastrophizing bandwagon. No more making deadly mountains out of molehills. If my body is off, I’ll assume it will right itself rather than concluding my death is imminent. I’ll focus on living rather than dying. It’s only taken me 5 years (18 if we count all those other ugly health issues) to consider addressing this issue.

Rather than viewing bad news as deadly, I’ll consider it a blip. Blips pass. I anticipate setbacks, especially when one of my doctors expresses concern, but I can manage this. I’ve got all the tools in my psychologist’s toolbox; it’s time I apply them more consistently to my own life. My new mantra is, “Who, me? Worry?”

Plus, when my mind turns to the death monologue, I’ll remind myself of all that contradictory evidence. This past year, I’ve been healthier by all objective standards than I have been since my leukemia diagnosis in 2012. I’ve had no hospitalizations, no blood transfusions, and no major medical issues. Even the health challenges I’ve had have been manageable.

I’ve been remarkably stable for someone with leukemia and all that other ugly stuff. I am truly the picture of living well despite cancer. Sure, I brought a virus back from Israel, but it passed. At least the virus had the good sense not to interfere with my trip. I would have been angry if it had.

In the future, when I start thinking of my impending death, I’ll have to remind myself of how strong and healthy I’ve been. I am not going down without a fight. My body is in a good place to overcome whatever health challenges come its way. And if I fall off the anxiety-free horse, I trust you will be there to hoist me back up. Thanks for that.

Happy New Year. May you resolve to be happy in 2018. That’s all that really matters.

 

It takes an introvert to know an introvert, or does it?

Guy lying on floor says: "I have an Introvert Hangover. I'm totally exhausted from too much human interaction.

During our PALS visits at the university last week, Jelly became quite tired early on, as she often does. Despite the chaos all around her–other dogs, exam-fearing students–she lay down and fell asleep. I apologized to the student petting her at the time, telling her that Jelly often finds the visits exhausting. The student responded, “Maybe she’s an introvert.” Kids these days. They’re so smart.

I’d never really thought of Jelly as an introvert before, which is odd because I am one myself. Introverts like their alone time. They may also enjoy being with others, but they can find social interaction draining. Extraverts, on the other hand, are energized by spending time with others. They leave the party wound up rather than needing a nap. Most of us are ambiverts, falling somewhere in the middle.

Sometimes I compare myself to my extraverted friend, Ms. Bubbly (it’s Dr. Bubbly to you, but Ms. has a nicer ring to it), who is at the other end of the spectrum from me. She’s constantly running from one social event to another. I don’t know how she does it.

Ms. B always invites me to the frequent large social gatherings she holds at her home. She understands when I politely decline each and every time. She knows I’ve always found such get togethers overwhelming.

Later this month, Ms. B will be hosting her annual Hanukah party, which I have already declined. I need to save my limited social energy for two engagements we’d previously scheduled for the nights following. This means I will not get to eat any of the 12 dozen latkes she has ordered for the occasion. (You read that right: 12 dozen. She has a lot of friends.) The authentic latkes alone spur my motivation to go, but my introversion still won out. That and the potential for bruising from having to battle the crowds to get to the latkes.

Ms. B and I often go for coffee after Sunday yoga, a sign that introverts do not avoid all social interaction. They may prefer more intimate gatherings, and they enjoy solo time to regroup occasionally. When we go out, Ms. B and I have lovely visits during which we catch up on each other’s lives. I relish this one-on-one time.

I can manage small groups, so long as I don’t overdo it. Two major social engagements last weekend necessitated a day on the couch. My introversion long predated my leukemia, so I can’t blame my health. If I hang out with you, whether alone or with others, and my eyes start glossing over after a time, please trust it’s not you, it’s me.

Now that I think about it, I realize that Jelly hasn’t fallen far from this introverted tree. She prefers small groups of dogs, cowering in the bushes when larger packs approach. She, like me, assesses any situation fully before jumping in with four paws. And just as I enjoy my alone time, she is fine to amble the off-leash park on her own, stopping to greet only the most fragrant of dogs. When she is overwhelmed by a group, she does exactly what I do: she avoids the situation altogether, or she lies down and takes a nap. Like mother, like daughter.

The Ten Commandments, Dog Edition

The Christmas celebrations started this week with a pot luck at our PALS team leader’s home. How generous of her to invite our pooches to join us. Yet the closer the date came, the more my anxiety rose.

During PALS visits, the dogs’ contact with one another is limited. They are to be leashed and under our control at all times. Jelly loves these other dogs, and is tortured she can’t frolic with them on site.

What was I thinking bringing her along to this lunch, then? Without a doubt she’d be overwhelmed with delight. All the new sights and sounds and smells and unleashed friends! Before we left, I read her the riot act. I couldn’t have been more clear. This is what I told her:

  1. Thou shalt not jump on the couch, repeatedly, despite consistent scolding. This is not the retirement home.
  2. Thou shalt not inspect any counters looking for food that someone has forgotten to place out of your reach.
  3. Thou shalt not consume any detritus in the host’s backyard.
  4. Thou shalt not steal any food from unsuspecting people’s plates. Similarly thou shalt not select the target most vulnerable to such a theft.
  5. Thou shalt not become preoccupied with other dogs’ privates. This includes but is not limited to unwanted humping.
  6. That shalt not spend excessive time inspecting thy own privates. Thou shalt save that for home.
  7. Thou shalt not rifle through the host’s laundry, nor transport any soiled undergarments for all to see.
  8. Thou shalt not howl in the house, rendering the group unable to hear one another.
  9. Thou shalt not instigate play with thy friends during the meal. (See Commandment 8.)
  10. Thou shalt not mark the luxurious deep pile carpet in any way.

Despite her briefing, Jelly broke most of these commandments over the course of our visit. Why didn’t I consider that she’d shame me? Why didn’t I leave her at home?

The carpet proved especially appealing. While we chatted in the living room, Jelly scooted her nether regions along the length of it three times. God bless the gracious host who believed Jelly was “marking her territory”, tastefully reframing Jelly’s wiping her butt. Needless to say, I left the lovely get together with my tail between my legs.

Ms. Team Lead and I crossed paths today at another PALS visit. Because occasionally one apology, however sincere, is not enough, again I begged forgiveness for Jelly’s  misbehaviour at the party. I asked Ms. T.L. if she’d like Jelly’s doggie allowance to pay for carpet cleaning. “Oh, not to worry, that was nothing,” she responded graciously.

What did she mean, exactly? After we left, Ms. T.L. discovered a dog had peed voluminously on the basement rug. Thankfully, the carpet’s Scotch Guard made clean up a breeze. She attributed this misdemeanour to another dog in the group. I’d have been more likely to assume it was Jelly’s doing–past ill behaviour is the best predictor of future ill behaviour–but maybe it wasn’t.

Did Jelly keep her unseemly marking to the living room? No one will ever know for sure. Jelly has not had accidents indoors for years. Sure, she can heed those commandments; she simply chooses not to. I can assure you, she didn’t get that from me.

Terrier on bed with sign around neck: "I stole a little girl's ice cream at the park."

Consent by any other name is not so sweet

One of psychologists’ core ethical principles is maintaining appropriate boundaries with our clients. We all define appropriate boundaries in our own way, but there are certain immutable guidelines. Here are mine.

I do not spend time with clients outside a therapy session, either on line or in person. This means not being Facebook friends, not going for dinner together, not meeting up for the latest exhibit at the art gallery, and not signing up for the same yoga class. If a client ends up in yoga with me, that’s different; as long as I don’t orchestrate our co-attendance, and we don’t have an unplanned therapy session during savasana, I have not violated these rules.

To take this one step further, any ethical psychologist does not engage in a sexual or romantic relationship with a client ever. Some might consider such a relationship permissible after the therapeutic relationship ends, but not me. If you can’t figure out why that shift in boundaries would be inappropriate, I’d suggest you not become a therapist.

Thus, if I am a client’s therapist, I can’t also be his employee or his best friend or his soccer coach. This philosophy is clearly foreign to the entertainment industry. Daily of late another idiot confesses under duress to behaving in a sexually inappropriate manner with one or two or 60 people over whom he has had power. These abusers’ power lies in their potential positive or negative influence on that person’s career. Maybe I can educate this industry to end these long-standing abuses of power.

The Harvey Insights

  1. If you are in a position of power over an individual, whether as a movie producer or a mentor or a coach or a boss or a teacher or a parent or a therapist, do not engage in a sexual relationship with that person.
  2. If the object of your interest is 40+ years your junior, let’s assume there is an inherent power imbalance. In other words, date someone your own age.
  3. If you hold meetings in your hotel room and forget to wear clothes, your behaviour may be construed as sexually improper.
  4. If your ungentlemanly sexual behaviour is the talk of the town, be aware that at some point the police may get involved.

If it is too late for you, and you have already made gross (in all senses of the word) errors in judgement, consider that the following are not valid excuses for your behaviour.

The Life-Is-No-Longer-a-Bed-of-Roses Excuses

  1. I was drunk and I can’t remember abusing you.
  2. I was confused about my sexual identity at the time.
  3. I have a sexual addiction. (Sorry, folks, there is no such thing as a sexual addiction, and thus no treatment for this fictitious ailment. Sexual addicts are people unwilling to admit to their propensity to abuse others sexually.)
  4. I thought she consented. (Have you already forgotten that 40+ year age difference and the inherent power imbalance mentioned earlier? Perhaps you’re suffering from age-related memory loss. You might want to investigate that. Oh, and stop flattering yourself.)

Finally, consider that not saying yes may mean no. If you put on your reading glasses, you might better be able to read between those lines, fellas. Don’t miss the oh-so-subtle signs of your subordinate’s fleeing screaming from your hotel room.

Quote: It's not consent if you are making me afraid to say no

Respecting privacy: a case example

Have you heard of Elements Calgary (formerly Calgary Association of Self-Help)? Elements provides support to people with severe and chronic mental illnesses, including people who are under long-term psychiatric care. They may have schizophrenia, severe depression, bipolar disorder, or some other debilitating mental illness. These people are often poor or have unstable housing, and sustaining employment, whether temporarily or permanently, is often beyond reach.

Elements provides a warm, supportive environment where these people can socialize with others and access services. They have access to mental health counselling, life skills and vocational training, and opportunities for social interaction.

I have never been disabled by my supermarket-variety anxiety the way these people have been by their malfunctioning brain chemistry. I admire them deeply for plugging along despite their mental-health challenges, and I’m relieved that agencies like Elements are available to them.

PALS visits Elements once a month. Jelly and I have signed up for the Elements visits for several months now. We have met many of the regulars at Elements. These people are often unable to care for a dog themselves, so they’re always grateful for a visit with a PALS dog.

Jelly and I went there yesterday for the first visit since June and were greeted by many familiar faces. One fellow was especially pleased to see PALS. Mr. Success Story shared that he was doing so well he was readying himself to return to the workforce. At one point, his illness interfered with his capacity to work, but he had made great strides in recent months with Elements’ support.

Mr. Success Story wanted us to know how much Elements, and the PALS visits, had helped him through his darkest period. I imagine that he is still alive because, when he was at his lowest, he found an accepting place where he could go. He realizes that physicians and mental health workers may refer clients to Elements without fully appreciating the good the agency does. He plans to find a way to get the word out through social media.

As you can imagine, there are strict privacy rules in an agency such as Elements. We certainly cannot share people’s names or identifying information, and I’ve been so vague that you could walk by Mr. Success Story on the street without realizing I was speaking of him. I wanted to share his story nonetheless because I was moved by it.

The same privacy rules do not apply to us: PALS members are shameless about having our pictures taken. Not knowing this, and wanting to respect our privacy, Mr. Success Story kindly asked the PALS volunteers (human and dog) whether he could take photographs during the visit. I may not like looking in mirrors, especially the side view, but I will pose for a PALS picture with Jelly without hesitation. If Mr. Success Story felt that those pictures might help him to garner publicity for Elements, we’d be in there like a dirty paw. “Snap away!” I said.

Best of luck, Mr. Success Story. You deserve all the credit for how far you’ve come. I’m glad Elements was there to help you along in your time of need.

The Hardy Boys: Mystery of the Missing Bride

Two male hands cutting a wedding cake

Following the fairy-tale wedding I shared with you last week, a compelling mystery arose at the restaurant celebration. I’ll provide a few clues along the way so you can solve it yourself.

I’d mentioned last week that after the ceremony, the newlyweds and their children hosted dinner at a lovely restaurant nearby, inviting J. and me, as well as the lovely minister and his wife. When they made the reservation, they made arrangements to bring along the beautiful wedding cake their daughter had baked so it could be served for dessert.

The family arrived at the restaurant first, two dads and their son all decked out in suits with boutonnieres, and their daughter in a stunning dress with a lovely wrist corsage. One of the dads handed the gorgeous cake to our greeter. The rest of the party arrived soon thereafter, filling the remaining four seats at the table. We sat facing the happy family, two glowing dads flanked by their two children.

It was the perfect evening with easy conversation. After Tom’s diatribe on red Smarties, Harry shared his feisty wedding-suit saleswoman’s loud comments on his hard-to-fit high glutes and saggy bottom. I dare say a splendid time was being had by all.

As we awaited our delectable meals–this was a grown-up restaurant after all–one of the serving staff leaned toward Harry and quietly asked him something we couldn’t hear. He tried not to draw attention to the interaction but because we were nosy, he acknowledged he’d been asked, “Shall we serve the cake when the bride arrives?”

Now I understand why Harry looked so confused at this question. There were 8 seats at our reserved table and all of those seats were taken. Even if a bride were due to arrive later, where would she sit? On Tom’s dapper lap? Wouldn’t that be a bit awkward for Harry? How could the server miss the two glowing grooms?

Harry appeared to take the comment in stride. (Did he really? How hurt was he by this innocent question?) He quietly instructed the server to bring the cake out when it was time for dessert, which another server did at that time. She asked no less delicately where to place the cake. (Sure, gay folks can marry in Canada, but they must not celebrate their union in public, it seems.) J. quickly piped in, “Between Tom and Harry [the “obviously” was implied].”

I wonder whether, by the time we left, the serving staff had figured out whose wedding we were celebrating. I had not just married Tom nor J. Harry, since we too are already gaily joined in matrimony. Similarly, the minister and his wife seemed very well heterosexually matched. And the children are a bit young for wedded bliss. That left only Tom and Harry.

People rarely bat an eye when I speak of Jelly’s other mother. But gay husbands and fathers are harder for many to understand. I can only pray such misunderstandings are not a daily occurrence for our dear friends.

In retrospect, I wish I’d clinked my glass loudly, prompting the grooms to demonstrate their love for one another with a mushy kiss. I imagine this simple gesture would have cleared up all of the confusion.

Do you eat the red ones at all?

Red smarties coming out of the box in the shape of a heart

After the lovely small wedding we attended last week, Tom and Harry hosted the minister and his wife, as well as J. and me, at a fancy schmanzy restaurant for a celebratory dinner. Over the course of our meal, we had no end of engaging conversations.

At times, we shared our most private thoughts. Tom mentioned, for example, that, when he was younger, he had hated the taste of red Smarties. He tried to convince us all that red Smarties tasted different from the others, at least when he was a child. He was quite insistent. He was so animated I wondered whether red Smarties were so abhorrent to him that he refused to eat them.

As a chocoholic, I was curious about Tom’s assertions. I had to find out for myself if there was any truth to what he was saying. Thank goodness that clinical psychologists like me are trained in both research design and clinical practice. I could tell you with my eyes closed exactly how to assess Tom’s hypothesis. And, yes, my eyes would have to be closed.

In mere moments, I had designed the perfect study. I picked up a box of Smarties at the grocery store a few days later. (They happened to be on sale.) I coerced J. into being my assistant as well as the second subject in my study. I would pay her in–this is obvious–Smarties.

First I divided the Smarties into two groups: the red ones vs. everything but red. Then I sorted the Smarties into groups of three, each group having one red Smartie. I turned my back to J. and asked her to hand me a group of Smarties one at a time in a random order. When I received the first Smartie, I forgot to close my eyes as I brought my hand to my mouth. What a dummy. I kept my eyes shut through the remaining trials.

J. agreed to participate in my study but she refused to be blind to the colour of the Smarties she was eating. I recall she said, “Just give me the darn Smarties.” She didn’t believe knowing the Smartie’s colour would influence her taste perception at all. She wasn’t taking the study as seriously as I was, apparently, and her responses may be biased as a result.

In any event, the findings were as I expected (I’ve just added experimenter bias to subject bias): neither of us disliked the taste of the red Smarties. We also concurred that the red Smarties didn’t taste any different than the others. Over the course of the brief study, we didn’t spit any red Smarties out in disgust; we savoured all of the Smarties because Smarties are inherently yummy.

My interest in Smartie research did not stop there, however. I began to wonder what proportion of Smartie lovers suck them very slowly vs. crunch them very fast. (I, for one, am a slow Smartie sucker. Ah, the taste of smooth melting chocolate…but I digress.) This burning question has prompted a second study. If you would like to participate, contact me at 1-800-SMARTIEPANTS. Compliant subjects only need apply. That means no Smarties for you, J.

Why are these playoffs different than all other playoffs?

We are on the second day of Passover now, Jews around the world are struggling with GDDTM (that’s “gastric distress due to matzah), and my suffering is just beginning. Tonight the Stanley Cup playoffs kick off and Edmonton Oilers fans province wide will end what they have dubbed the 10-year post-season drought. Try hanging out in the desert for 40 years, Oilers fans, and you’ll appreciate the true meaning of drought.

Tonight, with the help of their key player, Connor McDavid (that’s McJesus to you), the Oilers will start their run at the Cup. Oilers fans will be glued to their television sets to watch the first-round match up, knowing their boys in blue stand a good chance.

Sadly, the Calgary Flames have earned a playoff spot by the skin of their goalie, and their fans do not hold out the same hope. I don’t know hockey, yet I’m anticipating they’ll barely make it through the first round. They’re up against the best in the West and if I were the betting type, I’d be placing my money on the other team. Calgary doesn’t stand a chance. That’s why I have not chosen even one Calgary player in my hockey pool. (Sure, maybe J. chose my players for me since she’s the only true hockey fan in this household, but even if I were choosing for myself, I’d have passed on the Flames.)

The Oilers-Flames rivalry dates back almost as many years as the Jews’ wandering in the desert. That’s why Oilers fans are gloating over their successful season and their playoff prospects, while Flames fans fear the end is near.

Life-sized stuffed Grover in Oilers jersey sitting on couchDid I mention that J. roots for the Oilers and I for the Flames (solely to irritate J., of course)? This won’t be a problem after the first round of playoffs, when I too will be rooting for the one Alberta team still in contention, but tonight I will be outnumbered: J. has invited her Oiler-fan friends to her woman cave to kick off Round 1, and I will be the only one wearing a vibrant red Flames jersey. Even our life-sized Grover is rooting for the Oilers, and Jelly will be doing the same, under coercion. (N.B.: I will not be posting a picture of Jelly in her cute little Oilers t-shirt because I refuse to soften the blow of her disloyalty.)

One of the couples attending has baked a homemade cheesecake adorned with the Oilers’ logo. This same couple made that scrumptious rainbow cheesecake for Pride last September, so I know it will be divine. It looks incredible, don’t you think? However delicious it may be, I’ve been told I don’t get any unless I join the immoral majority. If I really want a slice of cheesecake, I must jump on the blue bandwagon.

I can’t switch allegiances yet, though, because I enjoy being the antagonist. No matter. This cheesecake will not be kosher for Passover, and you know I am too good a Jew to eat of the forbidden fruit. So enjoy your delectable cake but first pass me the matzah, would you? Tonight I must suffer like my ancestors. Bring on the GDDTM.

Cheesecake with Oilers logo on it

Sometimes I defer to cancer.

Pack of playing cards that say "Cancer Playing Cards"

Something wild and crazy happened yesterday. J. booked a flight to Vancouver next Monday with our good friend, who has a meeting there. I know, it sounds crazy, it is crazy. She used some Airmiles–thanks to all those prescriptions I’ve purchased over the years–and the taxes were reasonable, so she’s leaving and coming back on a jet plane, all in one day.

J. asked me several times whether I’d like to come too and I didn’t have to think long about my response. It sounds like fun, and I love Vancouver, and I never turn down a chance to get away, but I declined. I can’t manage waking early, rushing to the airport, walking my socks off, and flying back home in the evening. I could go, but I’d crash midday, slow everyone down, and ruin the day. Then I’d need the rest of the week to recuperate. I might love to go in theory, but in practice I know such a fast and furious outing is contraindicated.

Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I might have been able to manage it, though. I’m doing fairly well now even with cancer, but I’m not the party animal I used to be. That’s why cancer piped in and decided for me. I told J., “Sorry, honey, but my leukemia said no.” (To clarify, I was not pulling the L card here. The L card only works in situations I want to avoid.)

When I push myself too hard, cancer reminds me, “Slow down. You move too fast.” I should probably heed cancer’s reasonable and realistic voice in me more often. Last week, I was wiped after going to two plays two days in a row. After a few hours of sitting and listening and not much else, my exhaustion surprised even me. When I go out for dinner, I’m pooped for the next day or two. I volunteer late Monday afternoons and Tuesdays I’m tanked. I know what I can do and what I can’t. I may respect those limits, but I also resent them.

[Skip the next paragraph if you’re not up to hearing Sadness’s perspective.]

I made the right decision about staying home but I still feel sad and so does J. Would I rather J. didn’t go? Nope, I want her to have a great day with our friend. There’s no point in our moping together at home when J. could be enjoying great sushi in good company.

I forced myself to see the bright side, though. While J. is gone, I can hang out in her woman cave all day if I want. I can mess up every room of our house and no one will know (assuming I tidy before she returns). Oh, how I’ve longed for opportunities to desecrate our clean home since J.’s retirement! I will relish this freedom.

Even better, Jelly and I will have a little mother-dog time. I will be Mother Superior for a day! I’ll ply her with endless treats and let her up on the couch. On second thought, maybe I’ll skip the couch, since no amount of vacuuming will eliminate her hair once it’s interwoven through the fabric. Why would I want to spend my Day of Desecration vacuuming anyhow? Here comes the L card….